Muslim Peacemaker Visited Cleveland
by Abigail D.
Sunday, Apr. 13, 2008 at 2:27 PM
Recently, Veterans for Peace brought Sami Rasouli, a Muslim Peacemaker from Minneapolis to speak to a crowd at St. Paul's church in Cleveland Heights about his experiences in Iraq and his perspective on the current occupation. Sammy was born and raised in Iraq. He immigrated to the US with his family many years ago to Minneapolis and started an ethnic foods store that was very successful. In 2003, after the US invasion, someone in his family in Iraq was getting married and he attended the wedding. For four weeks he celebrated with his family, but also saw the misery of the Iraqi people after the US military took up residence there. When he returned to his life in Minnesota, nothing was normal. He couldn't function. The heart of his people beat within him and he knew he had to go back. From then on, he dedicated his life to being a foot soldier for peace. He has come and gone to Iraq many times in the last five years and has been able to build an extensive network as a Muslim Peacemaker, both in this country and Iraq.
His talk focused on the politics of the occupation. He dispelled the notion that when the occupying forces leave, the country will spiral out of control. From his insider viewpoint, he believes the fighting in Iraq has nothing to do with long-standing hatred between Shiite and Sunni and Kurds. It has everything to do with the US occupation. He said there are four different factions that are creating violence there: The US military, the resistance against them, robbers and criminals, and foreign intelligent services. If the US pulled out, the resistance would cease, the Iraqi government would be able to establish security so that robbers and criminals could no longer have free range, and foreign intelligent services would have nothing more to do. Pulling out would not cause chaos, it would allow the Iraqis to create a stable society.
He also mentioned how the true fighting between Iraqis is not sectarian, but rather political. It is between the Nationalists: those who want to see Iraq an independent nation, and the Sepratists: those who will sell Iraq for a dime just to get a piece of the pie with the Americans. This occupation is just one more thing the US government saw as a capitalistic opportunity and went for it, at whatever cost to human life. Even the "surge" was just another way for contractors and suppliers to make more money off the war. Adding an additional ten thousand soldiers meant more weapons, more armor, more food, more oil to power the vehicles...in short, more profit for big business at the expense of precious human lives on both sides.
He spoke on the Greenzone which he had the opportunity to visit once. He was seeking to get money for the Muslim Peacemaking team from the US Gov. Upon meeting and hearing his story, the official said they had no money for his cause but invited him to stay for lunch. He was led to a main room with an endless table overflowing with every kind of food one could imagine. And if none of that looked appealing, there were a number of fast food stands like Pizza Hut, Subway, and Burger King. One aspect of his Greenzone experience stood out to him the most was the fact that workers in the Greenzone are not Iraqis. They are imported from all over the world and given a very generous daily wage, but none of them were locals. This, and the fact that even people in the Iraqi Parliament are disrespected by the US military, made it very clear to him that the US government does not trust any Iraqis nor do they regard them as equals. Inside the Greenzone, its like a country club. Outside the Greenzone, there are 25 million Iraqis who are in constant danger and deprived of basic necessities. Seven million Iraqis are unemployed and find their daily food picking through the dumpsters. Only 30% of Iraqis have clean water and the electricity only runs a few hours a day at inconvenient times (6am, 11pm, 2am..)
The war for oil and profit could not be more blatant. The US is spending 12 billion a month in Iraq, but the people and the cities are still in shambles. There is an Oil Bill the US is trying to push through the Iraqi Parliament which, if it gets passed, will give the US 88% of the share of all profits on Iraqi oil. Mr. Rasouli speculates that some of the selective military ambushes have more to do with taking out Iraqi Parliamant members who are opposed to the bill than going after "the enemy". The bill is currently stalled but if Bush has his way, it will be voted on soon enough.
One of the plans the Muslim Peacemakers and others have in the works is to organize a march from Ur, a city in Iraq where the biblical Abraham is from, to the Greenzone in Baghdad, which will take a couple of days. They would like to see international figures such as Nelson Mandella and Kofi Annan join in the march along with tens of thousands of Iraqis and people from all over the world to make it loud and clear to the US that they must withdraw their troops and their greedy hands out of Iraq immediately.
People in Iraq want peace, they want stability, they want unity. They are not monsters. The idea that the people of Iraq are a danger to the US is insulting to them and to the millions of Muslims outside of Iraq who are disgusted at the actions of the United States--a superpower who has taken it upon themselves to rule the world however they choose, regardless of any conventions that they have ratified or decisions of the United Nations.
"The occupation is wrong and should and must end now." said Sami. That is the only way Iraqis will have political freedom.
For a website about the Muslim Peacemakers go to,