Cliff Kindy Iraq Blog

Current entries are related to Cliff Kindy's fourth Iraq trip, beginning in October 2007. The blog archives contains letters from Cliff's third Iraq trip in 2004-5.

Monday, February 21, 2005

#14: Kindy-Lugar correspondence

Dear Friends, Family, and All Good People,

What follows is my response to Senator Lugar's letter about the election here in Iraq. His letter to me follows mine to him. The situation in Fallujah is taking on more import as new revelations are uncovered.

Love to each of you,

Cliff Kindy

Dear Senator Lugar,

Yes, your comments about the election in Iraq were accurate. The difficult part is
that you did not include some other pieces of information about the election.

As Christian Peacemaker Teams, we have been in Iraq for three and a
half years. On election day we were in Kerbala as election observers,
approved by the Iraq Electoral Commission. We were only at three polling
sites, but were able to talk with election observers in other
cities and the national electoral commission staff.

The election was carried out as the country was occupied by US troops and
under heavy attack from resistance fighters and a very strong insurgency.
In Anbar Province, two percent of the eligible voters did vote. The boycott
of the election by the Sunni population was nearly total in places like
Fallujah, the Death Triangle south of Baghdad, and the region around Baquba in
the Diyala region. In Mosul there were difficulties with insufficient
ballots, polling places that did not open, and polling staff that were
intimidated and not trained sufficiently because the 800 staff for that area
had resigned under threat. The three hundred election staff in Anbar Province also resigned, though some were used in the national office in Baghdad. Even Baghdad only had a turnout of about 65% of the REGISTERED voters. Eleven suicide bombers and frequent other attacks, in Baghdad alone, made it very difficult to have conditions suitable for genuine elections.

The US assault on Fallujah in November was for the purpose of preparing for
fair and safe elections. You and I still do not know the story of Fallujah.
It is clear, at a minimum, that most of the population fled or was forced
from this city that is larger than Ft. Wayne. Hospitals were attacked,
mosques were demolished, and there are no records of who and how many people
were killed in the assault. Even now, homes are still being destroyed.
Those who have entered speak of a wasteland that mirrors Hiroshima. The
other two locations where US forces fought heavily before the election were
the other two areas that had the lowest voter turnout - the Death Triangle
and Mosul.

In Fallujah, bodies are still covered with rubble. Soldiers warn those
returning not to be risk exposure to items that remain in the city. There
are reports circulating of illegal weapons being used by the US soldiers in
the assault. One writer reports that it was the most massive armored
invasion in history against a population that was equipped with hand

Professional medical persons are still being refused entry. The media does
not have free access to document what has happened to the city. Refugee
camps are scattered around Iraq and some of the refugees we have visited (a
refugee camp of 1300 on the campus of Baghdad University) say they will not
return as long as US soldiers remain in the city. We need an investigation
by an international body, perhaps UN, to uncover the reality that continues
in Fallujah.

I would encourage you to visit Iraq and see the quagmire into which the United States is being dragged. There are promises of replacing US troops with
Iraqi security. You should have seen the report that, perhaps, only
5000 of those already trained are capable of carrying that task. Even the Shi'a
population is not supportive of a continuing US military presence. Yes, a
few Iraqis who were in exile have indicated support for an ongoing US
presence, but what about the Iraqi population? Remember, the exiles have
not had a support base in Iraq itself. Your sources of news need to continue to be
very broad. The decisions made in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about
this region will shape the future of both Iraq and the US.

Prayers for your clarity and wisdom,

Cliff Kindy, with CPT in Iraq

February 14, 2005

Dear Mr. Kindy,
Thank you for your most recent correspondence. I appreciated the
opportunity to hear about your continuing experiences in Iraq, and
appreciate this opportunity to respond.
As you know, elections in Iraq were completed successfully on January 30,
with millions of people voting. The Iraqi people demonstrated enormous
bravery in turning out at the polls in spite of the threats levied by
insurgents. The scope of these elections included a 275-person National
Assembly, as well as regional bodies (provincial assemblies in each of
Iraq's 18 provinces and a Kurdistan regional assembly). The elected National
Assembly will select a Presidency council, comprising a president and two
deputy presidents, who then choose a prime minister by consensus.
Following the elections, I was interviewed on a national news program
regarding the outcome in Iraq. I was asked about our long-term involvement
in Iraq. I said that we will remain in Iraq for a few years if necessary,
but that "If the training moves ahead, if the conference of the assembly
begins to have credibility, Iraqis are going to negotiate with us for a .
withdrawal . the whole idea of occupation will dissipate to the extent that
there is a successful assembly, successful security." Interim President
Allawi has said that by the end of 2005, there will be 200,000 Iraqis with
sufficient training and ability to monitor and protect voting citizens and
to secure the country.
As Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I will closely follow
these elections and other events in Iraq. During the last two years the
Committee has held 24 hearings on Iraq to facilitate a wide-ranging public
dialogue on the war, and to examine the details of Administration policy.
The Committee's most recent hearing on Iraq occurred on February 1, where we
discussed the outcome of the elections and the road ahead. You may be
interested to visit the Committee website, where you can read more about
this and other hearings pertaining to Iraq, at
. I appreciate your continuing interest in
Iraq, and thank you, again, for writing.


Richard G. Lugar
United States Senator

Thursday, February 10, 2005

#13: Safest City in Iraq

Received Feb. 9, 2005

Dear Friends, Family, and All Good People,

Yesterday I read a news article that said Fallujah is the safest city in Iraq. It went on to say that 8000 people had voted in the election, in this city of 300,000 people. This observation is a bit sobering. The assault on Fallujah was defended last November as a way to insure safe and free elections. In reality, the assault led to a massive decrease in voters and then, on a larger scale, the reason Sunni voters across Iraq boycotted the election entirely.

The refugees from Fallujah that we visited on Monday told us that homes are still being destroyed there. It can take them more than twelve hours at checkpoints getting into the city. Once in, there is little water, electricity, or ability to move around. Their shops and businesses have been destroyed. They reject a permanent return until the US soldiers leave their city.

When we returned from Kerbala, we found our main land phone and our refrigerator not working. The landlord replaced our frig in three days and the phone was operating again in four. We left Baghdad, before the Muslim Peacemaker Team training in Kerbala, when the water supply for this entire city of Baghdad was off. It was off for TEN DAYS! This is a city bigger than Chicago. It is still before noon here and we have had over six hours of electricity from the grid since midnight. That is an improvement!

Additionally, our email has been working well this past week. It is a dramatic change from the four days around the election in Kerbala when we had no access to working email lines. Our driver says that lines for gasoline are still three or four kilometers long.

A delegation is coming to Iraq for the first time since last April. It is good to have the interest from delegates in spite of the difficulties of logistics and security. The delegation will be in two locations and then share from the varied experiences to enable a broader understanding of the situation in Iraq.

Seventeen of the twenty-five Ministers of the interim government hold US passports, according to our landlord. Most of the past governing council and of the present interim government leaders were in other countries in the last decades. The top names on the main party candidate lists for the election are exiles who were outside the country. Those who lived here during the wars, the sanctions, and the last years of the invasion have often said to us that these returning people don't understand the situation in Iraq very completely.

The promise now from the US administration is that US soldiers will leave when Iraqis can care for their own security and when the insurgents are controlled. I think we have missed a step in the process.

The foreign insurgents (if the US foreign fighters are not included) are a small set of the much larger group of people who are the resistance to the US occupation. Imagine if Nigeria, Cuba, Canada, or North Korea had invaded and occupied the United States, but not at our request. As long as they stayed in the US the resistance would continue growing. It would not make sense for the Cubans or others to say, "When the fighting dies down we will leave." If leaders who had lived in North Korea or Canada were elected and said, "We will ask the troops to stay for some years yet," there might not be approval from across the population. The same principles hold true in Iraq.

Here in Iraq even most of the Shi'a population wants the US soldiers to be pulled out. It is time for Iraq to be for Iraq, not for outside countries and interests. The longer US troops stay in Iraq, the larger will grow the resistance.

Safety for Iraqis will not come by killing more US soldiers. Nor will it come by US soldiers killing more Iraqis. Fallujah might be the safest city in Iraq, but the way to bring safety to Iraqis (or to US soldiers) is not to level every city as the US did to Fallujah.

Building safety calls for changed ways of living, nurturing friendships, breaking down enmities, building homes and jobs, not destroying them. This is the way I want to work for safety.


Cliff Kindy

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

#12: voting

(Apologies from Andy Rich: Though Cliff sent this on Feb. 1, for some reason it went to my junk mail folder. I didn't find it until Feb. 5. So this is late.)

Dear Friends, Family, and All Good People,

The Iraq election has just taken place. CPT is still in Kerbala where we
have observed a smoothly run election. But the information we are
gathering from the rest of Iraq portrays a catastrophe. If this election
had taken place in the United States, a revolution, coup, or collapse
would have occurred.

Alan Slater and I have been talking together, trying to picture what this
election would look like, superimposed on our respective countries.
Listen carefully as I draw the picture.

In one region of the country, Atlanta and Birmingham with their
surrounding areas, the vote went smoothly. High percentages, 80 – 90
percent, of the population voted and most had registered in advance of the

In the largest city, New York, thirteen suicide bombers struck polling
sites, occupation targets, and security personnel. Resistance fighters
shot down an occupying plane and fifteen soldiers died. The city was in
turmoil as the election proceeded. It was reported that 65% of those
registered, voted.

Numbers are being used to manipulate the appearance of the election. A
Canadian spokesperson reports that 90% of the US citizens in Canada, who
are registered to cast their ballot in the safety of Canada, voted in the
election! But only 10% of the eligible citizens had registered. This
means that only 9% of the eligible U.S. citizens in Canada voted in the
election! This manipulation of percentages continued to be used from
other polling sites.

In the Death Triangle around Baltimore and Philadelphia, there was no
voting. The same is true in Dallas and Houston and also Kansas City – all
places the occupation troops had invaded to make sure that the election
could take place smoothly and on schedule! Oh, in the Dallas/Houston
area, the report was that 65% voted. No explanation that the city was a
wasteland, leveled by the troops that made it safe for an election, and
the people were mostly refugees in other places.

In Chicago, the third largest city, initial reports were that 72% of those
registered, voted. No explanation that twice all the 800 election staff
had resigned under threat from the resistance. No explanation that this
had earlier been displayed as a city that supported the occupation, but
had become a place where even most of the local police force had deserted
from the occupation as the resistance had strengthened their fight. What
really took place in Chicago? How many people voted?

In San Francisco and Los Angeles, where the occupation regime was running
more smoothly under the Japanese and the British, it was reported that
only 60 – 65% of registered voters went to the polls. The Japanese had
developed good relations with the occupied population by repairing the
infrastructure that was being destroyed elsewhere across the country and
the locals were much more supportive of this occupation presence. So why
was there such a low voter turnout?

In the U.S. Northeast the voter registration and turnout to vote was very
high. This area has been basically autonomous since the 14 years of
sanctions were placed on the U.S., so they are much more supportive of the
occupation and the election may allow them to declare independence along
with the Canadian Maritimes.

It appears at this early stage, after votes have been counted, but maybe
ten days before the election results will be reported, that the two
parties most likely to support the continuing occupation will sweep the
election. It is not clear why there is a delay in the reporting. Nor is
it clear how the candidates who support the occupation can represent the
population, which has been adamant (over 80% demanding an occupation
pullout) that the occupation troops must leave right after the election.

Yes, the election went smoothly in Atlanta, Birmingham, and the Northeast,
but the reporting about the election seems to cover up major, even
disastrous, flaws in this election that was set in place by the
occupation. The one bright side of the election is that it may be used by
the occupation itself to justify a quick withdrawal from the country.
Some of the occupied people have been allowed to express their vote freely
and, in a roundabout way, may achieve their desire to bring an end to the

Hopefully you can see in this rough outline a rugged picture of what has
happened in Iraq with the election. This picture is based on our own CPT
experience, news from around the world, sources in the local and national
election commissions, and sources among the local and national election

Voting with my life,

Cliff Kindy