NATO’s Apartheid toilets in Afghanistan

Whites only sign in the USA

From the Globe and Mail in Canada:

NATO’s potty rules shut out Afghans


KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN — Under a bizarre policy that echoes the days of segregation in the United States, Afghans who work at the NATO base at Kandahar Airfield must use separate toilets marked “local nationals only.”

Several Afghans told The Globe and Mail the practice is insulting, but they are dependent on NATO for their livelihoods and reluctant to speak out. …

“I don’t see any reason for separate bathrooms,” he said. “Everybody is human, so it should be one [toilet].”

NATO killing Afghan civilians: here.

Afghanistan: Poor sanitation, bad toilets cause deaths, misery: here.

AFGHANISTAN-US: Military Translators Risk Low Pay, Death: here.

70 thoughts on “NATO’s Apartheid toilets in Afghanistan

  1. I live and work at Kandahar airfield and I’ve been for 3.5 years. The reason that the locals
    have to use their own facilities is because no matter how many times we would try to explain and
    teach them why it isn’t right, we just couldn’t get them to quit pissing in the sinks where we brush
    our teeth, washing their feet in the sink, taking craps in the shower stalls, having homosexual
    intercourse in the bathroom stalls, and the list goes on…

    It has nothing to do with racism or discrimination, I find the correlation that you have drawn
    between the race issues of America’s past and our situation here disturbing, it is quite obvious
    though that you are trying to be as sensational and outrageous as possible rather than honest.


  2. Hi Peter, if you doubt the facts in this entry (by the way, basically you do not dispute them), and object to comparisons with practices against African Americans, Chicano Americans, etc., then you should complain to the Globe and Mail in Canada, as that is the source.

    The arguments you give for the “separate but equal [the reports by the way don’t mention equality]” toilets in Afghanistan, are rather similar to the kind of arguments one could hear during Jim Crow days in the USA, and Apartheid days in South Africa, from supporters of the status quo then.

    By the way: “homosexual intercourse” very probably also happens between US personnel (as with homophobic Republican US Senator Larry Craig). Though officially, it is supposed not to exist under the hypocrtical “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

    Also by the way: apparently there are Jim Crow toilets in at least one US military base in Iraq. Apparently, not in other US bases in Iraq; so, the “arguments” for the Jim Crow toilets apparently are not that strong that rules like that are applied everywhere.


  3. so…U. N. soldiers are not actually peace keeping, but shedding active blood
    in sorties, is that the point? If such is the case, that’s not even policing.
    Police don’t even do that.
    When — and it’s not rhetoric – when will people use the International Court of Justice
    to do something besides make Cheney and Rumsfeld sneer, lie and feign immunity?


  4. Hi mikal, as long as people like Cheney and Rumsfeld are in power, they will not recognize the International Court of Justice. It might be possible that court might indict them; as there was recently a complaint for torture against Rumsfeld in France, who then had to flee that country.


  5. I also have lived and worked at Kandahar Airfield last summer and agree with Peter M. With all due respect the locals there for the most part were filthy, and it certainly had nothing to do with race, not to mention the risk of them planting a bomb as with what happened in Baghdad Airbase during that same period. Why is it not mentioned that locals were usually not permitted to eat in the same chow hall as us? I also did not see, or have ever seen during my stay at KAF or during my hitch in the US military any homosexual activity between US troops. I’m sure there was that sort of thing, but it was kept very discreet because I never witnessed it, however in the Middle Eastern culture having homosexual and even beastial sex is OK. Even sex with little boys is OK, and if they feel It’s OK, why hide it? Personally, I think if they want to have homosexual sex that’s fine, I can’t change that, just keep it away from me, but their sort of hygiene has got to go!


    • I’d also like to say that I have absolutely nothing against the Afghan people as I’ve met quite a few who are wonderful people. I have also written some letters of reference for them to immigrate to the US – with success! As a bi-racial person I have seen all kinds of hatred from ALL ethnicities/cultures against others. People of all kinds – including lots here in the US of all cultures and races are guilty of the same things mentioned in this blog. My point is that sometimes rules are implemented for the sake of safety and respect for others. I’ve seen US persons kicked out of Afghanistan for doing things we deem ‘normal’ but are offensive to the locals. So be it. As Westerners the things we are used to doing can be offensive to Afghans or any other culture outside our own, and so, we sometimes take extreme measures to not offend others, as well as not to be offended ourselves(nothing wrong there). We are all in this together and we should always try and understand why others do the things they do, and not cry racism – or whatever – every time something like this pops up.

      Peace and love to all…


      • Hi Mark, I am glad you don’t repeat your earlier claim of most Afghans breing ‘filthy’, or homophobia.

        If the separate bathrooms and dining rooms were/are for ‘safety’, not for racism; then why were/are they only in Afghanistan and one US base in Iraq, but not at the other US bases in Iraq and not at bases in the US where Afghan soldiers are?

        Peace and love to all… you conclude, and I agree. Then, the Pentagon should stop waging permanent wars all over the globe, and the enormous military budget might be used for better peaceful purposes.


  6. Hi Mark, you write: ‘Why is it not mentioned that locals were usually not permitted to eat in the same chow hall as us?’ Thanks for this addition to the overall Jim Crow picture. Again, arguments like Peter M.’s and yours used to be made in the old US South and apartheid South Africa for segregation.

    You write: ‘homosexual activity between US troops. I’m sure there was that sort of thing, but it was kept very discreet because I never witnessed it’. Probably as gay US soldiers do not want to lose their jobs and income under the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.


  7. Ok. Adminsitrator, why don’t you go to KAF and see what it’s like instead of posting ignortant rebuttals to people who’ve actually been there! I’ve been there and agree with both Mark and Peter. That’s 3 vs 1. Why don’t you pull your head out of your ass and see for yourself. It’s a HYGEINE issue. If you know anything about combat you know the most uneccessary casualties are sickness/disease. Having local Afghans use the same toilets and washroom facilities greatly increases the spread of disease and sickness amongst the troops.
    Let me ask you this, if someone took a shit in your shower and then peed down your sink, would you let them use your bathroom again? Regardless of their ethnic origin, no one wants that.
    Afghans are very different from us, very different hygiene standards. You need to educate yourself on that, and then maybe you wouldn’t post such uninformed, sensasionalist dribble. Get a real job.
    P.S. Maybe you should join the army, go to KAF and use the same washrooms the Afghans do, see if you still agree that the segregation is similar to Apartheid and the african american civil rights movement.


  8. Hi Daniel Campbell, you should learn that machismo and swear words are no substitute for substance. Do you really think that apologists for Apartheid in South Africa and for Jim Crow or for exclusion of Mexicans in the USA did not claim to argue from hygiene (or “HYGEINE” in your spelling)?


  9. Ha ha! I do find the Administrators comments most amusing. It’s like arguing with a child, whatever anyone says you just reply with the comment that’s what the “apologists” used to say.

    You make claims of “substance” and yet everything you quote is second hand information from papers which can be subject to political bias.

    I’ve trained with the Kazakh military and half way through the exercise the toilets were segregated for health reasons. This decision was taken by the Kazakh commanding officer to protect the health of NATO troops and that is first hand information as I was there and heard him give his reasons. The cook houses were segregated from the start as the local water used to make the Kazakh meals would make the foreign troops ill. Any one who has travelled is aware that often there are local bacteria in the water that are different to those of their home nation hence they won’t have immunity, the Kazakhs didn’t want to have to pay for the bottled water that we used so they had their own cook house. This isn’t racism just common sense to protect people health.

    You suggest that we should all use the same facilities as any thing else is racism. I imagine the predominantly Muslim Afghans would be thrilled at eating in the same cook house as NATO troops when pork chops are the main meal for the day.

    Perhaps you should except that people are different and that we can respect each others ways of life but that we don’t have to share them.

    You mock Daniel Campbell for miss spelling hygiene, this demonstrates quite a bit of arrogance. Does that mean that you think just because someone may not have a mastery of the English language their comment or views are some how less relevant?

    I do look forward to you response.


  10. Hi Danger Mouse, if indeed, as you claim, in your case the decision was made by the Kazakh commanding officer, then you are talking about a case that is not comparable to that in Afghanistan. Where, as the article says, Afghans resent the segregation but are afraid of losing their jobs if they would complain loudly.

    Also funny how you ascribe political bias to Canadian newspapers and probably everyone else in the world, except yourself, of course.


  11. Hi!
    I was just trying to look up some pictures of where my fiance is stationed, which is KAF. And i came across this website.
    I just want to tell the administrator that he is an idiot, and the other guys are right.
    I might not myself have been to KAF or overseas at all yet, but my fiance has had a lot of stories
    to tell me about the Afghan hygene issues over there. And quite frankly i think it is disgusting.
    And i agree that maybe you should go over there and actually experiance it first hand, before you go
    acusing the soldiers that are fighting for our country and for you, that they are being racist.
    No one in there right mind would want to share bathrooms with people that shit and piss in their showers
    adn sinks. Go experiance it yourself, and why dont you give thanks to the soldiers that our overseas protecting
    our country instead of trying to bring them down.


  12. Hi Shannon, neither the Globe and Mail article, nor me, of course have said that all the individual soldiers, sent to Afghanistan, are to blame for racist rules which they as individuals have not decided. They were sent to Afghanistan as cannon fodder by the Bush clique; with the Bush clique, like in the Pat Tillman case, sometimes lying about their deaths.

    The remark “Go experiance [sic] it yourself,” was also the standard rejoinder by supporters of Apartheid in South Africa when they heard criticism. The Globe and Mail correspondent, by the way, did experience Afghanistan itself. And the Afghans he spoke to did consider this policy racist. Their views on this count; yours does not.


  13. I find this rather amusing, the correspondent you mentioned, where in Afghanistan did he go? Big difference between KAF and Kabul. Most press and dignataires do not venture outside the “comfort zone” due the danger as well as the above. I was there in a forward surgical team and found that most males when they came to our facility due to trauma, when checked for signs of neuroligal trauma, they had no anal sphincter tone.?? Then we found that the custom of tribal Afghani’s was homosexuality. Women were and are for breeding. Nothing else. Your correspondent should have looked at the atrocities committed on women while he was there. Divorce is shoot your wife and buy a new one. Working in many inner city hospital emergency departments, we never saw this ratio when checking for neuro deficits. And those in the tribal regions did not have the slightest idea on how to use a toilet facility or shower, they use rocks in villages to wipe themselves(been there got the pictures). I agree with many above, maybe you should go there and see for yourself instead of calling most of us racist and pulling that card. Your eyes may be opened as to a different part of the world and how they exist.


  14. Hi dvw, perhaps, if you are embarrassed by reality, you should deal with reality instead of attacking the messenger. The report by Joe Friesen says “Kandahar, Afghanistan”, not “Kabul”. And he spoke with Afghans in Kandahar who resented the apartheid toilets policy.

    Perhaps you don’t know; but the more “sophicitated” defenders of Jim Crow policies in the USA always denied they were “racist”; they were supposedly only “racialist”; “realistic about the Negro problem”, etc. etc. And people from Northern states in the USA supposedly knew nothing about that “problem” blah blah blah. And defenders of Apartheid in South Africa always used to say that criticism of Apartheid did not count, “as critics should have gone to South Africa to see for themselves”.

    I see that you have not only anti Afghan but also anti gay prejudices. Not being a psychiatrist, I am afraid that there is little I can do to help you out of that prison of bigotry.


  15. I am a member of the military who works solely with Afghans 40 hours a week, stateside. I can state that I too have seen first-hand Afghans performing ablution, that is, the washing of the feet and other body parts before prayer, in the same sinks that I have brushed my teeth in, on numerous occasions. While I choose to respect their religion and culture and stop short of calling it disgusting, I will say it is unsanitary and can definately see why that was implemented.


  16. Hi garrett marshall: so, apparently, on military bases in the USA, the same “Jim Crow” rules as in Kandahar have not been introduced. Probably because in the USA the heritage of the anti segregation civil rights movement is still alive and it would cause much adverse publicity. However, human rights are universal (as in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights), and should apply in Kandahar as well.


  17. I am in Afghanistan right now. I have lived with the Afghans using there abolution facilities. We stopped shortly after, due to ilness, mostly involving gastro problems. The afghanis are filthy. It is there culture. maybe you should come here, leave Kaf. Then make some judgements.


  18. Hi CBH, if the “abolution facilities” in Afghanistan are bad, that may be caused by poverty and many years of (CIA sponsored) war, not because “afghanis are filthy.” Apartheid is just wrong, whether in South Africa, the USA, Afghanistan, or Iraq (apparrently only at one US base; not at other bases).


  19. Administrator,if I was allowed to come into your house and I decided to piss in your sink and take a shit in your shower, would you invite me back? Please answer with a simple yes or no and none of your apartheid or Jim Crow rhetoric.


  20. Re #19 josey: in case you did not note, houses in Afghanistan are the houses of the Afghan people. NOT the houses of occupiers who came from thousands of miles away to kill, maim, and discriminate against, Afghan people.

    Now, go back to play with your extreme Right friends.


  21. While I’m waiting for the yes or no…I’d like to respond to your comments in post #12. My son is not being sent to Afganistan in April by the “Bush clique”, he is being sent by the “Obama clique”.

    Still waiting……yes or no?


  22. Re #21: are to able to read #20? I am not falling for any cheap rhetorical tricks used to promote, in this case, discrimination.

    Re #22: that is the problem when Obama keeps secretary Gates, a leftover from the Bush administration, which did start the Afghan war and occupation. On Obama and Afghanistan, see here.


  23. So….basically what your saying is Gates, not Obama(commander in chief) is calling the shots? Hmmmmm, nice try. Obama did not have to keep him did he?
    As far as the yes or no, forget all the previous posts, pretend that we just met… say I ran out of gas in front of your home and asked to use your bathroom and took a shit in your shower. Then say I came back the next day and asked to use your bathroom again….yes or no?


  24. Legally, of course, Obama is commander in chief. But he has been president for just a few weeks, and has to do much other stuff, like about the disastrous US economy which he inherited from Bush; the torture policies which he inherited from Bush; the anti Engangered Species Act policies which he inherited from Bush; the climate change denial which he inherited from Bush; reversing the global gag rule on birth control which he inherited from Bush; etc.

    So, Gates has Pentagon experience of the last few years, and may indeed mainly “call the shots” at the Pentagon for now. Such a situation would not be new. Technically, of course, George W. Bush was president (by electoral fraud in Florida etc.). But quite some people said that was really more of the “Cheney presidency” or the “Rumsfeld presidency”. Or that the lobbyists of Big Oil and Big Weapons Industry in the background were really more powerful than Bush in the foreground.

    Added to all this, Obama of course had already wrong Afghanistan policies before he was elected, as the link in #23 shows. This partly accounts for his wrong decision to retain Gates. The disastrous state of the economy may force him to end the disastrous Afghanistan policies; see here.


  25. And now: have you heard about dishonest debating tricks? Like comparing something to something basically incomparable, and then asking a rhetorical question?

    Comment #19 is not a honest question. It would have been a more honest question, if Afghan soldiers would occupy the USA, kill people, destroy churches, bomb weddings, etc. And if Afghan occupation soldiers would tell US civilians in the USA that some toilets were for “Afghans only”; other toilets for “US citizens only”. (Indeed, that would be a Jim Crow policy.) The Afghan people did NOT “invite” US or other NATO soldiers in, contrary to what your “incomparable comparison” implies. THEY should decide about toilet rules etc. in THEIR country.

    By the way, the toilet segregation in Afghanistan angers a special category of Afghans: Afghans employed by US armed forces. If there are any Afghans who like the US armed forces, it is them (though some may only take the job because starvation might be the alternative). Most Afghans don’t like occupation. By angering previously “loyal” Afghans, US military top brass are endangering the security of ordinary US soldiers (like, presumably, your son will be).


  26. Blah,blah,blah,blah…Obama took the pen in his hand and signed the bill, I did not see Gates standing behind him holding him at gunpoint.I knew you would’nt answer the question, that you would go on and on with your left wing liberal rethoric. Is’nt it odd that KNOWONE in this forum agrees with you? Not one person has chimed in and said “attaboy administrator, I’m with you”. Your views sir(or ma’am)are as bigoted as the people you label as such in previous posts. A racist cannot pick and choose who they are prejudice against… are a bigot and just like you stated in #14, I’m afraid there is little I can do to help you out of that prison.


  27. As far as the “dishonest debating trick”…I don’t care if your white,black,red,yellow,tall,short,fat,thin,smart,stupid,young,old…I don’t care what your ethnic origin is or your religous beliefs….if you shit in MY shower once, you won’t do it again…and that is the honest truth.


  28. Re #27: it seems that you have not read comment #3. I will, of course, not dignify the rest of that rant #27 with a reply (you were unable to think of anything original, so you plagiarized my comment #14).


  29. Re #28: of course josey, if there is still any honesty left in you hidden behind stupid Rush Drug Addict Limbaugh-Ann Anti-Semite Coulter clichés, then you know that comment #19 IS a dishonest debating trick. The original blog post is NOT about toilets or sinks in your (or my) house. It is not about toilets in the USA. It is about toilets IN AFGHANISTAN; where citizens of this in theory sovereign, in fact occupied, country are discriminated against by occupiers. They resent that and complain about that (anonymously, because of fear for retalitation) to this Canadian journalist.

    You claim that you have a son who will go to Afghanistan. I would not be surprised if that claim would be another debating trick, while in fact you have no son at all, or maybe a son who is not a soldier at all. But, for the sake of argument, let us presume that you do have a son going to Afghanistan.

    What if an Afghan US military base employee, originally “loyal” to US forces in Afghanistan, but later incensed by the humiliating Jim Crow toilet policy imposed by foreigners in his own country, would kill or wound your son in revenge? Would you still believe in your Limbaugh-Coulter-Bush clichés? Would you still support Jim Crow toilets in Afghanistan?

    I do not expect a straight yes or no answer from you on this question, judging from your comments here so far.

    If your son (suppose that you told the truth on this in this thread) might die in Afghanistan, then I truly hope that you will not have to go through the same ordeal of lies which Pat Tillman’s falsily had to go through during the Bush administration.


  30. Everyone has the right to their own opinion, and like everyone else in this blog(except for #3, my mistake)it is different from yours. This will be my last comment because to be honest, your giving me a headache.
    1)I do not listen to Rush Limbaugh.
    2)Just as you question my honesty about whether my son is actually even going to Afganistan, I must question yours as to whether or not any Afgan has even complained about this topic to you. Your word against mine works both ways, and I have not heard of any such thing from anyone except you.
    3)I cannot even reply to the comment of someone killing my son or anyone else just because they have to use a different bathroom. Such thought process makes me wonder whether your even on the same planet.
    4)So there, I guess we are what you would consider even on answering the yes or no question.
    5)As far as what may or may not happen to my son while he is there, he, I and everyone else in our family understood fully what the dangers were when he signed up. Please stop talking about the Bush administration, because whatever happens from here on is under the Obama administration.
    6)My “rant” is my opinion and I am entitled to it.
    7)I’m sorry I “plagiarized” you, I noticed you were doing it in earlier posts and thought therefore it would be ok with you.
    8)At least I did’nt make fun of your spelling.
    9)If the same thing were happening in the US, and I was on their base and they were shitting in their showers and pissing in their sinks,I would have no problem at all using a “Jim Crow” bathroom. No problem at all. Now I know your going to say that its not in the US and they are in Afganistan, but I said on THEIR base, which is where they are, on OUR base. If you read post#9, it seems that we are not the only ones making the rules.
    10)Spin it any way you want to, your in the minority here but you are entitled to your opinion so I must respect that. I just do not have to agree with it. Good bye and good luck.


  31. Re #31: “I must question yours as to whether or not any Afgan [sic] has even complained about this topic to you.” I never pretended that Afghans at Kandahar base complained to me personally about the Jim Crow toilets. They did so to Jo Friesen of the Globe and Mail; as you would know if you would have read the original blog entry properly.


  32. I agree with the men and women that have been there. You should go to Afghan and see how dirty they really are, you have ZERO knowledge on the subject frist hand. If everyone believed what others had told them and what they read in books. Everyone would belive that the Yanks won WWII and saved the world. Anyone that isn’t an American knows that just isn’t the truth.


  33. I do not agree that segregation in anyway shape or form in any part of the world is right. That is the Afghans culture. Thats how they were raised and I dont believe that we have any right to force our way of life upon them. I dont agree with the war but I also dont believe that our troops (to include my husband who is currently stationed in Kandahar) should have to sacrifice their health. If my husband has to be over there then I want him to be safe and healthy. The Afghani people were raised in that enviorment and in conditions that many Americans can’t even imagine and they have worked up an immunity to be able to survive the lifestyle they live. But American soldiers have not. Life isnt always fair. We have to live with that. Someone’s feelings are always going to get hurt. But I think its better that someone’s feelings get hurt than someone die. And Administrater….I know, I know, I’m racist. Thank you for letting me know.


  34. Hi Katherine Marie, you write: “I do not agree that segregation in anyway shape or form in any part of the world is right.” That goes for Afghanistan as well. It is, of course, not just that the feelings of Afghans working at US bases get hurt. This in a context where NATO bombs and guns quite often kill Afghan police or civilians. All this leads to revenge on US soldiers.


  35. to the ones who they know about KAF you only know what some one told you. the ones who know about haji mart and waiting for BK to open up and Green Beans UZBEK staff making your order right. and the PX out of your smokes, and MWR tent…………… then you can talk as you already Know they use alot off tax payer bottle water. and there is not haji thursday


  36. You know its easy to call it “racism” or what ever you want as long as it isnt you or your close friends geting blown up and killed, or sick from there poor hygiene and sanitation. I think some of you should go spend a little time in country and see what its really like there, Then if you want to call it being racist or wrong so be it….


  37. Re #39: no US soldiers would be “geting [sic] blown up and killed” in Afghanistan if George W. Bush would not have sent them there; and/or if the new administration would have got them out of there as they should have done. Today, the death toll of US soldiers in Afghanistan reached over 1,000.

    As for the racism: as the blog post says, primarily *Afghans*, who have lived in Afghanistan all or most of their lives, so longer than an average military tour of duty, consider the “Jim Crow” toilets racist. Do you consider the recent measures in Arizona against people from Latin America racist? Or do you never consider anything racist at all?


  38. See here’s the thing. My brother is on his way to kandahar afghanistan. he will be arriving in KAF very soon and i’m sure that i’ll get details of the sanitation conditions of the area and the full reasonings for seprate toiletries from his commander and himself. Sanitation issues are the subject of question not ethnic discrimination issues. It is easy for an individual to take a position on an issue when that individual does not contain all the facts on that issue. Administrator, i believe that you should do more research on the subject and further educate yourself on the matter instead of having ignorance cloud your judgement. But if you choose not to persue the act of finding more facts on the matter i would have to say personally that i do not pitty you for your choice of not knowing for sure and say that your stupidity blinds you


  39. Re #41: when there was apartheid in South Africa, milions of people all over the world rejected it. The standard reaction to them by apologists of apartheid used to be: “You have not been to South Africa yourself? Then, you have no right to condemn apartheid”. However, these critics did have the right to criticize, as, eg, they had read condemnation of the system by Black South Africans. The same goes for people all over the world who have read Afghans’ condemnation of the Kandahar system.


  40. i’m spanish (or also the fucking bastards ignorants who wrote that could call me spaniard) and I’m white, as white as any wasp.

    the truth is that the average american (white, mestizo or black) is a fucking ignorant

    spain is a nation in Europe and we’re white people

    latinos were an indoeuropean (so white too) people from central italy

    mexicans (or chicanos) who serve in us army are mainly prehispanic native indians (are cherokees in the current usa) or mestizos with a not big part of spanish-european blood


    adiós amigos


  41. Look,I deployed twice to Iraq. The reason we had separate toilets and sometimes dining facilities is because of sanitary purposes.Local Nationals of Iraq would squat on top of the toilet seats and crap all over the place, as oppose to the the way we in the west use toilets by sitting down on the seats.Further more, they used their left hand to wipe themselves after they finish, and spray their hand with a water bottle, making an unsanitary mess.


  42. As for the “whites Only” sign, I don’t know the context of it, nor do any of you. I’m a firstborn American of Mexican decent, and in my platoon we were always ragging on each other about everything, race, religion, nationality…everything. Why? Because to us, none of that stuff mattered to us. We were all soldiers in a combat zone, and all we had is each other, and thats how we dealt with our situation.Nowhere besides the U.S Army have I had such a diverse group of friends, or more correctly, brothers, whom i would kill and die for.


  43. At U.S. base, Iraqis must use separate latrine

    By Mike Drummond | McClatchy Newspapers

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARHORSE, Iraq — The sign taped to the men’s latrine is just five lines:


    It needed only one: “NO IRAQIS.”

    Here at this searing, dusty U.S. military base about four miles west of Baqouba, Iraqis — including interpreters who walk the same foot patrols and sleep in the same tents as U.S. troops — must use segregated bathrooms.

    Another sign, in a dining hall, warns Iraqis and “third-country nationals” that they have just one hour for breakfast, lunch or dinner. American troops get three hours. Iraqis say they sometimes wait as long as 45 minutes in hot lines to get inside the chow hall, leaving just 15 minutes to get their food and eat it.

    It’s been nearly 60 years since President Harry Truman ended racial segregation in the U.S. military. But at Forward Operating Base Warhorse it’s alive and well, perhaps the only U.S. military facility with such rules, Iraqi interpreters here say.

    It’s unclear precisely who ordered the rules. “The rule separating local national latrines from soldiers was enacted about two to three rotations ago,” Maj. Raul Marquez, a spokesman for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division, from Fort Hood, Texas, wrote in an e-mail. That was before his brigade or the 3rd Stryker Combat Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, from Fort Lewis, Wash., the other major combat force here, was based at Warhorse.

    There’s also disagreement on the reason.

    Marquez cited security. “We are at war, and operational security (OPSEC) and force protection are critical in this environment,” Marquez wrote. “We screen all our local nationals working and living in the FOB, however, you can never know what’s in their mind.”

    Other soldiers traced the regulations to what they called cultural differences between the Iraqis and the Americans.

    “We’ve had issues with locals,” said Staff Sgt. Oscar Garcia, who mans Warhorse’s administrative hub. “It’s not because we’re segregating.”

    Garcia said some Iraqis squatted on the rims of unfamiliar American-style toilets or had used showers as toilets, forcing private contractors who maintain the facilities to clean up after them.

    Another soldier at the administrative hub who declined to give his name or rank cited conflicts over hygiene habits. “We can’t accept people washing their feet where I brush my teeth,” he said.

    “It’s to keep problems from happening,” said Army Capt. Janet Herrick, a public affairs officer. “It’s a preventive measure . . . so no one gets belittled.”

    But the Iraqis who’re paid $80,000 to $120,000 a year for their interpreting services are offended.

    “It sucks,” Ahmed Mohammed, 30, said of the latrine policy. He called the signs — in English and Arabic — “racist.”

    He’s worked as an interpreter for the U.S. military since 2004. He’s college educated and well versed in the ways of Western plumbing. He said Warhorse was the only American base where he’d encountered U.S.-only signs on latrines and country-of-origin restrictions on dining hours.

    “I live in the same tent with 80 Americans,” he said.

    Mohammed works for L-3 Titan Group, a unit of New York-based L-3 Communications. He declined to have his picture taken for publication. He fears for his life. He said his brother was killed last year in Baghdad for working for an American company.

    Mohammed has sold his house and has squirreled away enough money to buy visas for his family of four. He said he intended to quit soon and emigrate to Germany. The latrine policy is part of the reason, he said.

    L-3 officials didn’t respond to a request for comment.

    “On one hand we’re asking Iraqis to help us,” often at great risk, said Laila al Qatami, spokeswoman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington. “But at the same time we’re saying, ‘We want to keep you at a distance.’ It’s a mixed message we’re sending.

    “I don’t understand having separate bathrooms. It seems to go against everything that the United States stands for.”
    McClatchy Newspapers 2007


  44. Re #44 and #45: of course, the context of the “Whites only” sign is known. It is a context of racism against people of Mexican ancestry. Nothing can justify that abject sign.

    Your point on separate dining is relatively new on this issue. It is confirmed by #46. #46 also says the segregation is only at one US base in Iraq. If at other bases in Iraq they don’t need discrimination, then they don’t need it at Operating Base Warhorse or in Afghanistan either.

    #46 also points out that Iraqis, officially US allies, feel deeply offended by the segregation. As do Afghans, as ponted out earlier in this thread. This segregation causes resentment. How can you tell that that resentment, in extreme cases, might not endanger lives of US soldiers?


  45. Pingback: US Navy commander drunk, abusive in Bahrain | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  46. Pingback: NATO censorship on Afghan war | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  47. Pingback: Afghan prisoner dies in NATO cell | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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