20.6.06

The Two Iraqs: Leaked Memo Paints Darker Image Than Bush, Officials Portrayed

ABC News: The Two Iraqs: Leaked Memo Paints Darker Image Than Bush, Officials Portrayed:

The message, obtained by ABC News and whose authenticity has been confirmed by the State Department, is in stark contrast to the rosy image of Iraq frequently depicted by American and Iraqi government officials.

'Personal safety depends on good relations with the 'neighborhood' governments, who barricade streets and ward off outsiders,' the cable says. It adds: 'The central government, our staff says, is not relevant; even local mukhtars [authorities] have been displaced or coopted by militias. People no longer trust most neighbors.'

Furthermore, it warns of increasing sectarian violence in the city, threats against embassy workers, deteriorating womens' rights, and many specific cases of dangers faced by embassy workers and ordinary Iraqis every day.

The memo also depicts the dangers faced by Iraqis who go to work for foreign employers, specifically the U.S. Embassy. In some examples outlined in the cable, embassy workers had to flee the country after their family members were threatened.

According to the cable, women have recently come under mounting pressure to wear a headscarf in public, and even to cover their faces — a practice which smacks of the harsh conservative rule under Afghanistan's Taliban. It even describes how some conservative groups are calling for a dress code for men, under which some men have been attacked for wearing shorts, or even jeans, in public.

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