I have a new hero: a 37-year-old Iraqi photojournalist with a boyishly handsome face and a gentle voice. Ghaith Abdul-ahad deserted from Saddam Hussein’s army and lived underground in Baghdad for 5 years. An architecture student, he was inspired to become a photojournalist after working as a translator for European and American journalists after the US invasion of his country in 2003. He learned English, he says, because he wanted to read a relatively unbiased history of the Middle East.
Ghaith has written articles for the Guardian and the Washington Post on the war in Iraq and done reporting from Somalia, Sudan, Afghanistan, and Libya. While in Libya, he was held by Qaddafi’s forces for two weeks. He filmed and narrated the “Frontline” program on the Syrian revolution I referred to in yesterday’s post.
This morning I listened to Ghaith on a recent “Fresh Air” podcast. He said the U.S. is giving just enough aid to the Syrian rebels so that the Assad regime can’t crush them, but not enough so that they can win. In other words, our government’s wanting to back the winning side in order to have as much control as possible over Syria’s future is prolonging the fighting there indefinitely, with 30,000 dead so far, most of them civilians. A force for good? I don’t think so.