Thursday, July 29, 2004

More Iraqi blogs

An impressive number of new blogs written by Iraqis have been popping up here and there lately. Less by expatriates (some of whom are starting to sound extremely detached and unrealistic) and more by Iraqis living the precarious situation on the ground.

Emigre at Iraq Blog Count has done an admirable job in keeping up with the latest blogs, so I will be mainly following on her steps.

First we have the pride of the Iraqi blogosphere, 5 young Iraqi bloggers. The first being Najma, a 17 year old rising star from Mosul, who blogs about her daily life, dreams and fears. She also regularly posts some good pictures.

Her younger sister hnk who is running a drawing contest in MS Paint on her blog (in which I participated!).

Their 13 year old cousin Raghda blogs from Baghdad and wants to be the 'best younger blog'. She posts funny pictures of cats, bunnies, and frogs. For some inexplicable reason her blog brings a dose of happiness and hope to one's heart, maybe it's the pure innocence that radiates from between the lines and photos.

Zena, another 13 year old, also blogs from Baghdad and posts charming poetry in Arabic.

Last but not least, we have Ferid, a 20 year old humourous college student from Baghdad who posts Iraqi football news and chooses to name his blog the 'losers blog'. He promises to bring his friends online as well.

Moving on to more serious blogs. Ladybird has been blogging from the Netherlands for a while, she has history posts and some on the Iraqihealth system.

Ahmed in a series of letters to his friends abroad blogs about Life in Baghdad.

Abu Khaleel, a highly energetic blogger, has 6 blogs, 2 of which he says he will maintain regularly. A glimpse of Iraq, US mistakes in Iraq, Disgruntled Americans, Rapid Democracy in Iraq, Meethaq for Iraq, and Iraqi letter to America. He has some valuable and worthwhile suggestions on how to implement true representative democracy in Iraq which I hope would be noticed by the 'right' people.

Ayad, an Iraqi American, describes his experiences in Baghdad during his visit.

Sarah, another Iraqi expat, blogs her general thoughts on Iraq here.

New Kurdish blogs here, Karda, Kardox, and the Kurdistan Bloggers Union.

All the mentioned blogs have been added to the sidebar. Take some time to visit them, they are worth it.

Friday, July 02, 2004

According to this report, the 3 soldiers who forced Zaydun and his cousin Marwan into the Tigris at Sammara resulting in the drowning of Zaydun are now facing charges of manslaughter, assault, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy. A fourth soldier was charged with assault and making false official statements. A court hearing has been scheduled next Thursday, and further charges may be waiting the soldiers. Here is Reuter's story, and I have been told that the story was mentioned today on several news channels, nothing in the Arab channels yet.

This following an Army CID investigation which took about 6 months. Zaydun and Marwan returning from a business trip at Baghdad were arrested just outside Sammara minutes before the night curfew last January, they were released at the Tharthar dam gates on the Tigris and were forced into the river by the soldiers even though Zaydun pleaded with them that he couldn't swim. Zaydun drowned and Marwan who was picked up by the Sammara ICDC force survived to tell the story. Zaydun's corpse was recovered from the river days later, his family was denied an investigation so his mother wrote a letter to president Bush which was published on this blog. Days later a full investigation commenced, press reporters and journalists picked up the story.

For the full story go here (scroll up for later entries and make sure to check the comments section), for the divided reaction of the blogosphere which ranged from flat denial, incredulity, doubt, strong personal attacks to support, understanding, and promises to help go here.

Zaydun's family made it clear from the beginning that they only seeked full justice, and they repeatedly refused any kind of financial reparation. They gave up ages ago but I hope this will satisfy them.

Thanks to everyone who sent letters to their officials and congressmen, thanks to the people and soldiers who wrote to me and to Zaydun's family expressing their support and encouragement, and thanks to the wonderful bloggers whose persistence and support made this possible.

Update: Yes, it's all because of those damn anti-malarial drugs. The mystery is solved. I also think that Iraqi insurgents are killing people because the heat has gone to their heads.

Blind justice

Watching the dreaded face of Saddam Hussein on tv was a climactic experience. For the first time in Iraqi (and Arab) history a ruler is brought to court to face charges. I admit it feels strange and the mixed feelings are impossible to describe.

The majority of Iraqis have expressed their desire to see him hanged publicly as soon as possible to mark an end to his era and to move on. A few said they didn't care anymore and that they were more interested in their future, and an even smaller group (from the Sunni areas) said they were against the trial. The Arab media (Al-Jazeera to be exact) focused on the last group. They already had a reporter at Al-Oja, Saddam's home village near Tikrit, interviewing members of Saddam's tribe to 'prove' that Iraqis were against trying their 'leader'. Today, they reported a small rally of about 50 kids in Sammara carrying posters of Saddam demonstrating against the trial of the 'honourable hero'. Al-Jazeera described them as 'crowds of demonstrators' even though the opposite was very obvious.

However, many Iraqis were disappointed in the secrecy surrounding the whole procedures. Only 3 minutes of the half hour session were displayed with audio, the room was apparently not designed to be a courtroom, and something was definitely not 'right' about the whole thing. The judge looked young and a bit nervous, the back of his head was glistening with sweat, and he stopped just short from addressing Saddam by Sayyidi (as he was always addressed before). I admire his bravery though. Saddam also shouldn't have been allowed the opportunity to give a sensational speech. I believe he made a fatal mistake by defending his invasion of Kuwait and calling Kuwaitis 'dogs'. The list of charges also raise some questions. There are no
penalties for crimes against humanity in Iraqi criminal law as far as I know, so there is some confusion here.

Maybe the new government is gauging the reaction of the Iraqi street, but a live public and transparent trial was promised, though I doubt anything is going to convince the enemies of the new Iraq who are now clinging to human rights excuses. They say the court is illegitimate. Where they legitimate under Saddam? If yes, then Saddam is going to be judged by his own Revolutionary Command Council amended laws, according to which he should face the death penalty for desertion and abandoning the battlefield when he was General Commander of Armed Forces last April.

Let's see how this unfolds.