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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Bombs rain on the birthplace of Western civilization

Bombs rain on the birthplace of Western civilization

ISTANBUL, Mar 25 (IPS):- In aiming to disarm Iraq and bring a regime change, The

Mother of All Battles II is also ravaging the cradle of Western


A bomb from a Tornado may fall on Adam and Eve's Garden of

Eden. Or the birthplace of Abraham. It was in the very place where thousands of

"sorties" now rain "smart bombs" that the world probably found its first form of

writing (cuneiform).

Cultivated crops, canals, dams, irrigation and

animal husbandry originated in what was known as the Fertile Crescent between

the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers - the rivers the coalition forces are

heading to cross on their way to Baghdad.

Greek thinkers drew inspiration

from the mathematicians, astronomers and philosophers of Mesopotamia, the land

that is now Iraq.

Night becomes day in Baghdad in the flashes of bombs,

day feels like night under the thick black smoke over Baghdad. But it was there

that day was divided into 24 hours, the hour into 60 minutes and a circle into

360 degrees. And it was here that algebra and geometry were


Armoured personnel carriers now roam the area. It was in

Mesopotamia that the idea of a vehicle on four wheels originated.


bombs are the product of current precision technology, but the first measuring

and surveying instruments date back to Mesopotamia.

But so does the

principle of "an eye for an eye". The death penalty was decreed for contractors

whose buildings collapsed and killed anyone in the thriving city-state of

Babylon around 700 BC. No one in Iraq will be punished now when buildings

collapse like a deck of cards under American bombs.

If surgeons are

forgiven now for failure to take proper care in a war, in Babylon they were held

responsible for what could be considered the origin of


Mesopotamia gave us the first metal working, architecture,

city building, urban planning, legal system, medical writings, cobblestone

streets, pottery and even beer, about 6,000 years ago.

"It is an ironic

twist of fate to stand on the remains of a city where the civilised world began

and realise it could all end right there as well," says U.S. historian Bradley

Parker. "Iraq is the cradle of Western civilisation. It is how we came to be

what we are."

It is from here that civilisation spread to Greece, to Rome

and then on to the rest of Europe and the Orient.

All of Iraq is

considered an archeological site. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon remain among

the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The Mother of All Battles I and

II are far from the first to shake the cradle, though none matched this one

perhaps in spreading "shock and awe" this fast.

"Violent 'regime change',

invasions, wars, revolts and massacres have been a way of life for 6,000 years

in Mesopotamia," says Kit Miniclier, a U.S. observer of the Middle


Ever since Ur became the Western world's first city 5,500 years

ago, the area has seen war and peace under the Sumerians, the Babylonian King

Hammurabi, Hittites, Assyrians, King Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus the Great, Alexander

the Great, the Greek Seleucid dynasty, the Mongols, Turks, Persians, the Ottoman

Empire, Britain and down to Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath ("Renaissance" or

"Revival") Party.

The Mongols are said to have slaughtered 800,000 people

in this region in 1258 AD, but only Alexander the Great accomplished a feat that

others, including the current "coalition of the willing" would have wished:

breezing in unchallenged.

Over the centuries Baghdad became a special

place in what is now Iraq. Founded in the year 762 AD, it had its share of

turbulence, but it became also the spiritual, political, intellectual and

cultural hub of the Islamic world. It was once the world's largest city west of

China. It was the "Paris of the Orient" long before Beirut, and for far longer

than Beirut.

When Europe was in the Dark Ages in the ninth century, the

Caliph of Baghdad built a "House of Wisdom" which became a magnet for students

and scholars for free exchange of ideas. Literature from afar was brought by

camel caravans to be studied, translated and preserved.

It was in Baghdad

that the Abbasid caliph Harun ar-Rashid, who ruled between 786 and 809, listened

to Sheherezade's fairy tales for "A Thousand and One Nights". Baghdad now counts

its nights of bombings. - ROMA-IPS



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