Iraqis commonly refer to members of the terrorist insurgency as Ali Baba. In fact, anyone they think is a thief or some other sort of criminal is referred to as Ali Baba. If you want to know where an insurgent is, or if they come forward volunteering where an insurgent is, your linguistic bridge is the phrase "Ali Baba."
The story of Ali Baba comes from stories of The 1001 Arabian Nights. Mr. Baba was the head honcho for The Forty Thieves, who wreaked nothing but constant havoc. He, along with his forty friends, is not revered by Iraqis.
When we trained stateside before coming to Iraq, we underwent 'immersion training'. Various actors were hired, including several Iraqi expatriates, for us to interact with in various ways, and to portray the citizenry of various Iraqi cities and towns. Quite often when we entered one of their makeshift towns, either to conduct a search as a result of an intelligence tip, or as part of a foot patrol, the townspeople would taunt us with the words "Bush, Bush, Ali Baba!" I thought it interesting at the time that they would use such terminology, but at the time I dismissed it. I was too busy getting 'immersed' to think much about it.
Since being here in Iraq, and personally having had almost exclusively good relationships with the Iraqi people, it began to dawn on me that it was a bit inaccurate that the actors should be coached to chant "Bush, Bush, ali Baba!" at us at the National Training Center (NTC) in California.
Now, hold that thought...
Just today I read in the Times of London (not the New York Times, mind you) that dissident Amir Abbas Fakhravar has successfully fled Iran and arrived in the United States. Fakhravar, for whom a death warrant has been issued, has met with and given his assessment to members of Congress and the Bush Administration. In part, the news story reports:
Fakhravar believes dialogue with Iran is useless. “The regime wants to have a nuclear bomb so it can wipe out a country it doesn’t like,” he said. “We don’t understand why the rest of the world doesn’t understand this.”
In Iran, Bush is regarded as a liberator, Fakhravar said. “People are afraid to express what is in their hearts, but in small, private gatherings, they see him as a saviour.”
Now, back to my original story. If we as soldiers, and our Commander in Chief, are not seen by the majority of Iraqis as Ali Baba (and, coincidentally, if the same holds true for the people of Iran), then just who were the townspeople at the National Training Center supposed to be imitating? It occurred to me that whether they knew it or not, the townspeople were imitating American liberals.
The actors we encountered were very polished and realistic in their presentations. It means that they must have received acting lessons from somewhere. I don't know, but Hollywood is geographically fairly near the NTC...
A very small percentage of veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), particularly those who never leave a forward operating base (FOB) the whole time they're 'in country', turn against OIF after buying into the vicious lies spread by the American left about what's actually happening here. And to think that, unwittingly, they may have received their first such indoctrination from 'immersion training' in the United States.