While George lectured MidEast leaders on the joys of democracy and tried to convince them to “to back his campaign against Iran today, saying that the safety of the world was at stake,” the people of the Middle East were watching other news and keeping count. First, they saw Operation Phanton Phoenix drop 40,000 pounds of bombs on a suburb of Baghdad and heard local sources on Al Jazeera worry about an unknown number of Iraqis buried in the rubble.

At the same time 80 Bahraini environmentalists demonstrated against George’s visit to their country, lighting “candles to remember victims of the Iraq war, which they identified as children, women, men, civilization, air, water, soil, fish, birds, palm trees, rivers, values, ecosystems and biodiversity.”

"We lit candles to remember victims of Bush’s terror against the environment and humanity," explained Ms Al Muhannadi, who was the first to light her candle.

She acted in memory of the Iraqi children who had lost their parents, friends, houses, security, school and homeland, as well as those who had allegedly become sick from the depleted uranium.

Then the new leader of the 42 clans that form the Sunni “Awakening,” repeatedly portrayed as our new best friends in Iraq, spoke up. Remembering his predecessor’s meeting with George in al-Anbar a few months ago, Sheikh Kamal Hammad al-Muajal Abu Risha reminded the world that:

The deceased Abdul-Sattar Abu Risha had called on U.S. President George W. Bush, during a meeting with him at the province of al-Anbar, to pull out U.S. troops and hand Iraq over to the Iraqis but the U.S. president replied that it was impossible to do so before making sure security is maintained in the country …

The resistance of occupation by all means is a legitimate affair but with current conditions in Iraq we are no longer able to tell the difference between terrorism and resistance. That’s why we support the opinion calling for stopping all forms of resistance until security is consolidated in the country. Only then we would demand the departure of occupation forces.

And we also learned this week that at least 133 women have been murdered in Basra:

In Basra, Iraq’s second largest city, 2008 was ushered in with an announcement of the 2007 death toll of women targeted by Islamist militias. City officials reported on December 31 that 133 women were killed and mutilated last year, their bodies dumped in trash bins with notes warning others against “violating Islamic teachings…” But ambulance drivers who are hired to troll the city streets in the early mornings to collect the bodies confirm what most residents believe: the actual numbers are much higher.

The killers’ leaflets are not very original. They usually accuse the women of being prostitutes or adulterers. But those murdered are more likely to be doctors, professors, or journalists. We know this because activists from the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI) have taken on the gruesome task of visiting city morgues to try and determine the scale and pattern of the killings. According to OWFI, most of the women who have been murdered “are PhD holders, professionals, activists, and office workers.”

As MADRE goes on to note in its report on these deaths:

Instead of lamenting the “brutality” of Islam, the US media should start connecting the dots between the US occupation and the empowerment of people who use violence against women as a strategy to pursue their political agenda. We can start with the fact that the Pentagon has trained, armed, and funded the very militias that are killing the women of Basra.

Finally, 1 in 4 is the number of internally displaced Baghdad residents according to the latest count by the head of the Red Crescent Saeed Haqi:

One out of four people in the Iraqi capital Baghdad has been displaced due to sectarian violence and ongoing U.S. military operations, according to the Iraqi Red Crescent Society.

The society’s head Saeed Haqi said looking after this huge number was an uphill task and that the U.S. has promised to offer $250 million to help “these internal refugees.” (that’s less total than the Awakening fighters get per month I notice – added)

“There are 1.2 million internally displaced people in Baghdad,” Haqi said. Children below the age of 15 make up 58 percent of the internally displaced population, he said.

The Baghdad displaced people have been forced to move from one quarter to another. The figure does not include tens of thousands of Baghdadis who have opted to flee to other provinces or abroad.

A voice from Iraq’s Azzaman adds it up for us:

The security situation in Baghdad is deteriorating very quickly. Of course this bit of information no longer has any meaning for Iraqis as it has become an integral part of Iraq’s media discourse in the years since U.S. invasion of 2003.

But it assumes a special significance right now since it comes in the aftermath of the empty official statements made recently with regard to security conditions in Iraq and particularly Baghdad. The synchronized bombing of churches in three major cities in the country – Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk – and the ostensible surge in bomb attacks targeting U.S.-supported Arab Sunni militias, government targets and U.S. Marines are indications of worsening security conditions despite Iraqi government’s efforts to present a different picture.

They were childishly happy with their patchwork, thinking it could resist the collapse of their rickety security infrastructure. The structure of security in Iraq is falling because its foundations were built on sand or probably it had no foundations at all.

This is the real picture of conditions in the country outside the rotten official chambers which contain nothing but lies and slogans.

Note: Dahr Jamail is featured this week on Cspan’s Book TV with one more replay this evening at 10PM ET. He’ll be discussing Beyond the Green Zone and I’m sure will have a lot of interesting information to share.

Update: For folks following the escapades of the US Navy being threatened by … well, the “Filipino Monkey” Cernig at Newshounds has a great roundup complete with guide to the full video. So coincidental that this “almost causus belli” just happened to coincide with George’s “let’s all get Iran” trip, eh?