Saturday, November 29, 2003
The demonstrations were held in Al-Tahrir square midtown Baghdad near the Freedom monument and the demonstrators marched on through Sa'doon street to the Fardus square in front of the Palestine and Sheraton
hotels. Three symbolic coffins for the Iraqi police victims of bombings in Baghdad, Ba'quba, and Khan Bani Sa'ad were carried on cars ahead of the demonstrators representing a symbolic funeral for the victims of terrorism in Iraq. Protection was provided by IP, and various news reporters and jounalists covered the event according to the Azzaman
Baghdad edition paper.
Sheikh Hashim Al-Yassiri of Al-Saada tribe from Karbala called upon neighbouring countries to secure their borders preventing infiltration of terrorists to Iraq from these countries, reminding them of the Iraqi people's position in the past in defending these countries.
Faruq Abdullah of the Iraqi Turkomen Front described the demonstrations as a strong message from the Iraqi people to terrorists attempting to undermine the new Iraq and a declaration of patriotic unity between different Iraqi factions against terrorism and violence.
Sheikh Rahi Musah Jabbar of the Bani Ka'ab tribe in the Basrah Governorate demanded that the Arab League accept its responsibilities in the reconstruction of Iraq and to assist Iraqis in their war against terrorism, emphasizing that Arabs and Muslims are being targetted here, so the Arab League should make a clear stand against this.
Aziz Al-Yassiri of the Iraqi Democratic Congregation said that the demonstrations will convey a message from Iraqis to the whole world explaining that the Iraqi people regardless of religious, sectarian, tribal, and political differences are unanimously against terrorism, specifically terrorist acts that will serve to obstruct the rebuilding of Iraq and its transition to democracy.
several anti-terrorism demonstrations in the city, and future meetings to analyze and discuss the dangerous dimensions and negative effects of terrorism on the security of Iraq and its society.
No one can accurately answer the importunate yet legitimate question:
How to stop terrorist acts?
But at the same time everyone realizes that if there was wide and effective cooperation between the countries targetted by suicide bombers, rigged cars, and terrorizing activities, and if they had collectively decided to block passages through which terrorists breathe air, power, money, and motives, they would have succeeded not only in easily restricting these acts in the narrowest locations, but in invalidating the motives and justifications employed by terrorists as well.
And since terrorism in its most modern form today has turned into an extremist Islamic regimen that accuses whole societies, countries, and maybe whole continents with infidelity, therefore there is no justification to the policies followed by some governments on principles like (Since the splinters are far away from me, I do not care for its consequences or motives), or (Assist me in countering terrorism in my country but do not ask me to help you), or (When the bombings affect me they are terrorist acts, when they affect others they are acts of resistance). A striking example of the last principle is evident in Iraq when the dark forces from the Afghan caves coordinating with remnants of the fascist defeated regime in Iraq made a decision to convict all Iraqis with no discrimination whatsoever and to terrorize, abbreviate their lives, and target them for the sin of abandoning the former regime, while the surrounding countries stand by either spectating, approving, or rejoicing for the Iraqi people's misfortune.
This close-minded trend was reflected not only in the official media outlets of these governments, or their loyal space channels, but has also poisoned some of the intellectual assemblies of the region. To give an example; an intellectual meeting at Quneitra. A supposedly moderate nationalistintellectual gave a speech condemning terrorist
bombings targetting innocent civilians in Casablanca blaming the attacks on Al-Qaeda and extremist Islamic groups and at the same he called for support of the heroic acts of the 'Iraqi resistance' in bombing the UN compound, Red Cross organization, hotels, crowded places, and police stations (which were also claimed by Al-Qaeda by the way) and he described these acts as an Intifada by Iraqis. Note the hypocricy.
The Iraqi question is: If targetting innocent civilians in Morocco is deemed terrorism, why are similar acts in Iraq called 'resistance'? Why?
I forward a copy of this question to our colleagues in Al-Arabiyah, al-Jazeera, and the Egyptian and Syrian space channels with courtesy.
Friday, November 28, 2003
Anyway, I was at the cafe chatting with my cousin in London, and I was checking my blog's comments section at the same time when a reader asked me what I thought about Bush's visit to Iraq. I stared in disbelief at the screen for some time, then I went to Yahoo news and there it was: Bush landed in Baghdad Airport, spent a couple of hours with American troops, met Talabani and Chalabi, and left. He didn't leave the Airport area as far as I know.
I did hear American fighters flying over Baghdad though during the day, and I was wondering what was going on.
After leaving the cafe I asked some people in the neighbourhood what they thought of it. Everyone I talked to stared blankly at me as if I was crazy or something. It seems that nobody thought it was possible for Bush to visit Iraq at this time. I went to buy dinner from a nearby restaurant and IMN was displaying Bush's speech to his troops. Everyone stopped eating and stared at the tv. It was quite a scene, I just wished I had a camera at that time. It was so comical.
I watched it all on Al-Jazeera later, and as usual, they described it as a cheap attempt by Bush & Co. to boost American public opinion in his favour for the upcoming election campaign. You could easily detect the anguish in their anaylsis to the fact that Bush didn't go down to the streets or meet everyday Iraqis, or that Air Force 1 wasn't hit by an anti-aircraft missile fired by Iraqi militants. They were really frustrated. Their news have become so predictable. My father was peculiarly furious with one of these 'analysts', he almost kicked the tv. The guy was saying that this visit would practically achieve nothing, or to be more accurate "would trick nobody". He also said that it would have no effect whatsoever on morals of American troops...etc.
I have mixed feelings myself. The fact that he is the first American president to set foot on Iraqi soil is a huge event in itself, and a three hour visit to Baghdad Airport definitely wouldn't be the same as a tour in the country and most importantly meeting Iraqi citizens, Iraqis who would be grateful for this visit. But I understand the security considerations and this gesture alone would be sufficient to send a message to whoever it may concern that Iraq is safe enough for an American president to visit. To tell the truth I'm still shocked to this moment that he took the risk to come here. I used to like him before, but now I admire the guy.
I was a bit dissapointed because I told everybody on the blog that the demos were scheduled for December 10. It seems they somehow messed up the arrangements and decided to have it today probably for security considerations, but I still don't know for sure now if the Dec 10 demos have been cancelled or not. AARGHH, How embarrassing.
If you can't find any mention of this in the news, I will try to dig up some photos from local papers tomorrow. Omar said that Al-Jazeera did mention the demos, but I don't know about other news channels. It seems we got too carried away with the Id celebrations. Omar was frustrated, he was partying at a friends house last night, and only today did he find out about both Bush's visit and the demonstrations. Heh, what kind of journalists are we anyway?
I'll tell you more details about the rallies when I get them.
Thursday, November 27, 2003
::A BIG thanks to everyone who sent Id blessings and greetings and I sincerely wish you and your families the same on your thanksgiving holidays, and Id Mubarak to my fellow Iraqi, Arab, and Muslim readers (Not too late I hope!), and freedom and prosperity to all the people of the world.
::And I would like to take this opportunity to wish Saddam Hussein, Al-Dori, Chemical Ali, Bin Laden, Zawahiry, Muqty, Sheikh Yassin, Arafat, Nasrallah, Al-Assad, Khamenei, Qaddafi, Castro, and all the other bloodthirsty tyrants, despots, and fanatic mullahs a quick dispatch to hell (on earth) hopefully by the hands of their own people.
::I would also like to thank the following people for their support, advice, encouragement and contribution to the blog which without I would never have been able to keep it up so far:
Jeff Jarvis, Hossein Derakshan, Glenn Reynolds, Andrew Sullivan, Salam Pax, Jeff Reed, Alaa, Omar, AYS, Mohammed, Sam Kareem, Hadi Kizwini, Ali, Wafaa, Ghaydaa Al-Ali, Sam, Safaa, Omeed, Muthana, Othman, Amir, Rezwan, Fayrouz, zumzum, Muhaymen, Salim, Tamara, Abu Hadi, Michael Totten, Justin Alexander, Diana Moon, Doron, Alexandra, Tom Villars, Paul Edwards, Soul, Catfish N Cod, Margaret Wente, Kris and Miles, Kevin, MommaBear, Ishtar, Tom Penn, Lee C, Cherice, Jeffrey, geniejunkie, Gabriel, Brian H, Simon, JLawson, Scott, Del Simmons, Cool Breeze, Orbit Rain, The Commisar, John Moore, Patricia, Rachel, Oldie NA, Eric, NahnCee, Lucy, Lola, Lisa, spirit_grrrl, geekgurl, Janet, JoeC, e, G, BK, TDK, FH, MK, Alan, d.i., swg, Dianne R Fout, David Lantos, Malik Hameed, Ray J Price, Sean, Trish, John in Netherlands, Michael Cosyns, Mark Buehner, Judy, SDP, KH, Rob, Tara, Mike Rentner, Raptor, Rayonic, Bobby, Asher Abrams, Riet, Jason, Ralph Da Russian, Tatterdemalian, wg, Ms Andi, Yi Hong, furiousxgeorge, M Korshak, Swiggles, Mike Rentner, Son of Tolui/Engage, Circe, Cicio, Tripp, cBark, Joyce Sala, Monster Kabasue, Akili, CharlesWT, Colin Bisasky, Kelly Swanfeldt, Dan McWiggins, Clear Waters, Stefania, en finne igen, AustinIg, Mr Jojo, Mike too, High Horse, Ubique, NooYawkah, Bone, Mauro, Christina, Zach, Firas, and many many many others who sent emails, comments, and suggestions whose names have escaped my memory at the moment. I feel like having a worldwide family which is a very wonderful experience in itself.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
I am sorry to announce that if this behaviour predominates, I will have no choice but to ban certain users. It's no use crying over spilled milk. Whats the point in obstinately debating whether this war was morally right or wrong? It happened, period. I do respect all your opinions and I admit that some of them have been extremely helpful but please understand where I'm coming from.
Another thing, some people insist on posting full articles from other sources which occupies a lot of space, so if you find something that is RELEVANT to my posts and feel it should be noticed just offer a link to the source.
Also, I will not tolerate nor allow any bashing of my fellow Iraqi bloggers here. Calling them names isnt any helpful in backing up your arguments. Attack what they write if you have to, don't attack their persons. And always remember that if you disagree with their views, that does not make them any less valid. A while back there were scores of other Iraqis posting here in comments, now I can hardly find any. I'm afraid that some people have unintentionally scared them away instead of listening to what they had to say. Alaa, Sam, and Baghdadee all started posting in my comments section before they started their own blogs. Imagine the number of other potential Iraqi bloggers that might have emerged have you given them a chance.
Don't worry though, I will not do away with the comments section all together and if you insist on having it that way, I will leave it as it is, but I will also be paying less and less attention to it eventually.
Oh and I forgot to mention a while back that you can now access the blog site at http://www.healingiraq.com (Thanks to a faithful reader who registered this domain).
A:I think such a thing could actually be true, as I do believe that the Americans have absolutely no interest in capturing Saddam, in fact they have much greater interests in keeping him loose.
Am:I'm not really sure, I mean why would they go to such trouble as offering a 25 million reward for his capture? And what with all the raids and operations around Tikrit and Baiji searching for him?
A:I think thats just for show. Saddam has always been America's buddy, why are they so intent on getting to him now? I think he is really with them right now, and not anywhere in Iraq.
Am:What about the reports and rumours we used to hear the last few months, people saw him in Youssifiyah, Suweira, Ba'quba, and many times in Baghdad. It's hard to believe that all those people are making it up.
Z:I think there is some truth to these sightings, but of course not all of them. You remember in 1963 when General Kassim's corpse was shown on tv after the Ba'athist coup, people afterwards still claimed they saw him in Baghdad, Musayab, and Kut. People tend to make up a lot of stories and legends which spread fast. The same thing happened in the US following the death of Elvis.
A:I still think Saddam was provided a safe haven somewhere abroad, probably in the US.
Z:Now come on Ahmed! Whatever would make you think so?
A:He is still their agent after all, they would never abandon him.
Am:Provided he is an agent of the US, don't you see they have a historical tendency to turn against their agents. Remember the Shah of Iran?
Z:Yes, and can't you realize that Bush would be jumping in joy like a schoolboy if he gets a chance to show the world that he got Saddam?
A:No, because if he did, it would mean that their mission is accomplished and that they should leave Iraq as soon as possible, something which they are not intent on doing.
Z:Do you think they are really happy here with all their daily casualties?
A:I'm sure 300 or 400 soldiers mean nothing to the US in contrast to the long term strategical gains of their presence here.
Am:And do you think that they could get away with something like that? I mean if someone from the CPA or Centcom had knowledge of Saddam's whereabouts and kept it a secret, that it would escape the scrutiny of other agencies? It would be a great scandal. And it's hard to believe they would risk their reputation in doing so.
A:You two are very naive and have no idea of how a superpower like the US really plans and operates. Let me give you another example, where the hell is Bin Laden? Has anyone else seen him except on Al-Jazeera? He is just another agent that does what his bosses tell him.
Z:Umm, Ahmed. Bin Laden was in Afghanistan before 9/11 and various media reporters visited him there and had interviews with him. It's highly unlikely what you are driving at. But let me give you another example, WMD. Don't you think if the US has failed to find them till now, it would be even more impossible to find a person like Saddam.
A:I think there was really no WMD at all.
Am:That's absurd. Every Iraqi knows Saddam had WMD, he used it on the Kurds and in the Iran war.
Z:Well, I have to admit that WMD's are still a mystery to me. Could it be that he had them destroyed before the war.
Am:Very possible, otherwise he would have used them in the war.
Monday, November 24, 2003
Saturday, November 22, 2003
The only thing I can say is its about damn time. It would be great if someone can organize similar rallies on the same date in the US and Europe to show support and empathy for victims of terrorism in Iraq and the rest of the world. I can only ask you to spread the word about this.
I was ashamed and depressed watching those brainwashed and deluded demonstrators in London carrying signs calling for abandoning Iraq and for an end to aggression. While I can understand people who hold peaceful principles against wars in general but nevertheless wish to see Iraq free and prosperous, I fail to understand the logic behind the thinking that appeasing and understanding terrorists will make this world a better place. It was all the same 'No blood for oil', 'Not in my name', 'Bush is Hitler', 'Stop the war', 'End the occupation', 'Bring the troops home' nonsense over and over again. It was almost like one of our masira's in the dark times of the previous regime. If those people truly dislike Bush they should have kept their mouths shout about other issues which they can never understand and sticked to anti-Bush slogans. The only thing that warmed my heart was watching different self-respecting people carrying banners that said 'Mr. Bush you are most welcome, this lot does not speak for me'. I ditto that and add that this lot surely does not speak for Iraqis either. I'm sure Saddam is proud of you and clapping his hands in glee watching from whatever gutter he is hiding in right now. The fact that Al-Arabiyah station decicated two whole hours covering these demonstration while not a single subtitle about the anti-terrorism crowds marching in Iraq only disgusted me the more.
I guess those demonstrators chose to ignore the hundreds of innocent Turk Muslims and Jews that were killed and maimed the last few days in Istanbul, the Italian peacekeepers in Nassiriyah, the Lebanese families in Saudi Arabia, the Iraqi police, school children, UN and Red Cross workers in Baghdad, the Iraqis that were praying in Najaf, the Spanish tourists in Casablanca, the demonstrating students in Iran, and decided to spill tears for the poor Iraqi militants, the innocent Taliban, and the peace loving leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Why the hypocricy? Why the double standards? Someone seriously needs to teach these people the mechanisms of cause and effect. They are having it all jumbled up in their topsy-turvy view of the world. I can only say SHAME on you.
Even Salam Pax describes Gaith's dissapointment with the demonstrators as 'wickedly funny', I fail to see what exactly is amusing Salam in Gaith's words, and I think Salam is only making a fool of himself by attending these demonstrations if it were true. While I agree with Salam about some points regarding the post war planning part, I don't see anything helpful in marching with people against Bush and who think that Saddam should have remained in power. Come one Salam, if it weren't for that jolly old chap you refer to as Georgie you wouldn't be enjoying your freedom in London writing for the Guardian now would you my friend? Nevertheless enjoy your trip and wish you a safe return.
::Added CPA blogs to the sidebar links, and Portal Iraq for Iraqi postwar business news. Interesting links, check them out.
::Iraqis are busy preparing for the Id holidays this week. Id alfutr almubarak is a three day holiday and celebration that follows Ramadan in the Muslim world. Here in Iraq it's less a religious holiday and more a social event. Families and neighbours visit each other to exchange Id blessings and banquets. Children fail to hide their happiness with their new Id clothes, especially for some of the poorer families when it's the only time of the year they can enjoy new clothes. You can find them everywhere in Baghdad rushing to buy candy and soft drinks whith their Idiya's (money traditionally gifted to children by other family members on Id). And even though I am 24 years old and have my own salary, I shamefully admit that I still get Idiya's from my grandmother and aunts and wear new clothes at Id. heh. There's a lot of activity in the city during the three Id days. Now this is the first Id after the war, so it should have some significance to Iraqis. Omar, Ays, and I are planning for a night of drunken debauchery at a friends house. I'll tell you more about Id later.
"Generally, America tends to arrest anyone that holds a different opinion and that is just what the former regime in Iraq used to do. We just exchanged the Little Satan with the Greater Satan."
Muqty? Saddam Hussein? A little satan? I thought you were taught better than that at Al-Hawza. I'm sure all your mullah professors are terribly dissapointed in you.
"After their policies failed in Iraq they now want to transfer power to Iraqis on conditions that elections be held in the country and that is nonsense. These elections should be carried out by Iraqis and far from the occupiers supervision and tampering."
Can't have it your way chum. You'll have to get used to it. But here is the big laugh; Muqty sadly asks:
"When did wars and occupations ever mean peace? When was interference in other countries affairs peaceful?"
Give me a frigging break man. Who are you to be talking about peace? When you have an 'army of the virtuous'? I'm sure you are no more a peacelover than Sheikh Yassin is.
Thursday, November 20, 2003
::Ghaydaa my friend got an email from the NY Times at last and she is negotiating with them for a reasonable solution to her brother's predicament. Thanks to everyone who sent emails and offered help. It was a wonderful and effective display of the power of blogs. Keep us informed Ghaydaa.
::Kevin is blogging again. Welcome back.
::I might be getting a digital camera soon, so I need ideas about what kind of photos my readers would be interested in seeing published on the blog.
::We heard today that a 10 million dollar bounty was offered by CPA for information leading to the capture of Izzat Ibrahim Al-Dori (former Revolutionary Council vice president). They have intelligence suggesting that Izzy is responsible for coordinating attacks on coalition forces. I'm not really sure but I doubt it. His medical situation is very critical and I find it unlikely that he would have such energy. He is probably lying on a bed somewhere in Mosul at one of his relatives. By the way, Izzat is nicknamed 'Abu Al-thalij' or the ice man by Iraqis, referring to his job before he joined the party when he used to sell and deliver ice cubes during hot summers. Some people also call him 'Abu breiss', a common domestic lizard found all over Iraq which is skinny and repugnant and has a striking resemblance to Izzat.
Okay, the rape bit was a bit extreme and an overreaction. But I am not going to abandon my point about the public trials and executions, I can't see how they contradict with so-called human rights. I wasn't saying something like: "let's gather all the Baathists in the country and behead them on tv". I was referring to the captured regime figures and foreign terrorists. It's very depressing not to hear anything about what was done with them. Some of them have been detained for seven months and I think it's now time to try them. You wouldn't believe if I told you what rumours are going around about them. A significant number of Iraqis believe that Abd Humood, Chemical Ali, or Tariq Aziz are actually now in Hawaii or some private island in the Carribean sipping champagne and laughing at the big fraud going on in Iraq. About one third of Iraqis think that Uday and Qusay weren't really killed in Mosul, and that the bodies displayed were really rubber dolls with makeup. I don't blame those people for thinking that way when we have absolutely no idea about these figures. People want revenge, they desperately need to see justice take its course. Do you have any idea what sadistic pleasure it would bring to Iraqis to see a widely hated and feared regime figure like Chemical Ali for instance sitting handcuffed in a cage in court mumbling with his eyes to the ground? God I would pay dearly to see that! I still remember the utter joy I experienced when I saw Taha Yassin Ramadan blindfolded and being insulted by Kurd fighters on Al-Jazeera some months ago, and I wished that I could have seen the same for every regime official on the day of his capture. And I am an Iraqi that hasn't really suffered directly on the hands of the fascist regime. Imagine what a woman widowed by Saddam would do to see that.
Also I think it is time to clarify some details about my background and status under the previous regime. I have never really mentioned before on this blog that I was a former Baathist some years ago. Shocked eh? Actually I had to become a party member during high school. Iraqi students from Kurdish families were expelled from the school (Baghdad College) after it became directly connected to Uday's Olympic committee. Our school's dean explained to us that any student that wasn't a party member would be also expelled. I couldn't afford to lose my seat in that school as it was the top school in Iraq, so I reluctantly joined the party ranks. At college however I managed to slip away gradually from the party and my membership file was lost somewhere in between. So I understand that not every Iraqi with ties to the Baath is truly a Baathist or should be punished for it.
Also I come from a Sunni family originally from the 'triangle'. Another surprise?
Actually the tribe I descend from is a rather mixed Sunni/Shi'ite tribe which is located in large parts of Iraq not just from the triangle area. Which means that I can't possibly condone mass punishment of Sunni Iraqis which would include my family and tribe in such measures. That would be ridiculous. I still live in a largely Sunni neighbourhood in Baghdad that is very aggressive to Americans, and if I was suggesting that the coalition bomb it just because of that, I and my family would be among the first victims.
Having said that I wish to add that my family can be considered a family that has benefited from Saddam's rule. I mentioned before that two of my uncles were high ranking generals in Saddam's army. One of them an Air Force Colonel which had a large role in the Iraq-Iran war during the eighties and had retired before the invasion of Kuwait. The other one a Lt. General was an Iraqi infantry division commander and one of the last generals to leave their posts on April 9, and I'm damn proud of them even though I was against the regime they served all those years. I had very close friends and contacts whose fathers were on the WANTED list of regime officials, and some who were cousins of Saddam, which meant that I had some privileges myself under the previous system. But those privileges didn't stop me from supporting the war and from wishing a prosperous and free life for my countrymen who didn't have such benefits. I owed my former lifestyle and position from being a member of the sectarian minority that ruled Iraq in the last 30 years, but that doesn't prevent me from turning against them now and demanding that they join the rest of Iraq in the quest of a better future by force if necessary.
So now you know a bit more about who I really am. Don't rush to conclusions or judgements from a few things I write or rant about. If you have read my posts so far, you should know better than that.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
Still no power in Baghdad. I'm writing at the Internet cafe across the street, they have a generator. The water supply got somewhat better than yesterday. Still no official explanation though. Some say that the oil refinery at Baiji which supplies fuel to Baghdad's power substation was attacked by militants. Others say that the substation in Dorah was damaged. I read a report somewhere on the web that towers carrying high tension power cables north of Baghdad were attacked, looted or damaged by storms (who knows) and that it would take a few days to fix them. Shit. Whats the use of reconstruction when you always have someone to destroy what was built. Unless there are some extreme measures and punishments against those responsible it is going to get any better. I'm going to repeat it again and everyday:
public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials, public trials,
public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions, public executions,
Those militants don't understand any language except the language of force. Fuck human rights. Those aren't humans anyway. We desperately NEED to see some heads rolling. Believe it or not. Theres going to have to be some bloodshed for this to work. Bomb the hell out of Tikrit and Al-Awja. Massacre every last person of Saddam's tribe. Rape his women. Yeah. Let them taste some of what we have endured the last 30 years. I don't want to see my dreams ruined because of those trianglees. If the CPA doesn't want to do it, send in a force of IP and civil defense forces and turn your face the other way, they'll be more than glad to do it, believe me.
Chairman and Publisher
The New York Times
November 15, 2003
I am writing you on an issue of immediate concern.
My name is Ghayda Al Ali. While I am from Iraq, I am currently visiting the United States. As you can understand I am very interested in events back home. There is a most disturbing situation there which you should be aware of as your paper is an involved party.
My family has a property in the green zone in down town Baghdad on Abi-Nuas street. The New York Times rents the adjacent property. For several weeks now my brother Ali Al Ali has been denied automobile access to our property by security guards. Until two days ago we thought this was a coalition security measure. Now we known these guards are not coalition personal but are instead the private security force employed by your news paper.
The family property has two store fronts. Yesterday (Saturday November 15, 2003) my brother and two hired men were in one of the stores installing shelves. My brother lost his livelihood in the war and needs to open this store to make a living. His efforts were interrupted by several of the security guards employed by your paper. He was knocked roughly to the floor and threatened. Your guards pointed there AK-47 rifles and my brother and his work men and told them they would be shot if they did not leave immediately.
I feel sure if learned the United States Army was responsible an incident such as this you would feel obligated to publish the story and condemn the act.
In this his case I respectfully suggest you have an obligation to do somewhat more.
My family needs full use of its lawful property. This means no interference of any type to access to the building. Your guards also block access of potential customers to this business location. While mindful of the security requirements of your Baghdad employees I believe they do not completely supercede our legal right to use our property.
I hope this is a simple misunderstanding that you can correct quickly. My family hopes yet to have The New York Times as a good neighbor. I urge you to contact me or my brother quickly as an indication of your good faith. I can be reached at the email address firstname.lastname@example.org Ask for Ghayda (pronounced Ride-dah). I will provide an email address for my brother upon hearing from you.
I will follow up this email with a letter to your office sent by United States Postal Service.
Please look into this matter quickly.
Ghayda Al Ali
Please help my friend by sending as many copies of this letter to the morons at NY times until they notice and do something about it. If they want to be protected they should choose a safe building elsewhere and not block streets downtown and prevent Iraqis from using their properties by force. I am so indignated to hear about this and so should you be. Please help us do something about it.
Monday, November 17, 2003
Sunday, November 16, 2003
Anyway, Talabani stated that a new transitional or interim government will be elected by May or June 2004, according to general principles shared by the majority of Iraqis such as the respect of human rights and basic freedoms of speech, religion and worship, ensuring equality between all Iraqis, separation of the three authorities, and some degree of self adminstration by the 18 Iraqi provinces with special considerations to the present autonomous situation in Kurdistan. Also civil control of the security, police, and armed forces, and ultimately the formation of a unified democratic federal entity which recognizes the Islamic identity of Iraq but with respect to all other religious and sectarian minorities. The constitution will be prepared by a committe directly elected by the Iraqi people. A final Iraqi government which will represent the will of Iraqis will be elected according to this constitution in late 2005.
The Interim Government members will be chosen by the GC before June 2004 and will assume a complete authority and sovereignty ending the occupation and the role of both the CPA and GC. This body will remain in power until the new constitution is approved by all Iraqis in a poll and general elections held in the country. And from now the following months till next June will witness an open dialogue between the GC and all other political, social, and religious characters, parties and Iraqi citizens to ensure an agreement over the next course.
Talabani explained that this timetable was signed by both Bremer and him as the current president of GC, and that according to a law that will be passed by the GC in February 2004, municipal councils of each of the 18 Iraqi provinces will elect a transitional council that will be the basis of the new Interim Government. Ahmad Al-Chalabi added that the coalition's role in all this will be merely supervisory, and that the resulting government will represent the Iraqi people.
I don't really have much to comment on. Overall it looks good on paper and reads better than it lives. Is all this practical? Only time can tell.
::There was news of two downed BlackHawks in Mosul on Al-Jazeera last night, they didn't mention if it was an attack or an accident.
::Sungol Chabok, one of the female GC members was almost killed in an assasination attempt near her reseidence in Kirkuk. It appears that some militants had opened fire on her car while she was driving home accompanied by her husband and family. No one was hurt. She stated to Azzaman yesterday that she had received many death threats in the past but this was the first assasination attempt. Many GC members have been targetted in the past few months, and it seems Chalabi has had the lion's share of these attacks. Aqila al-Hashimi was assasinated in front of her house a few months ago.
::Huge anti-terrorism demonstrations were held in Nassiriyah yesterday by students association condemning the attacks on the Italian force carrying signs such as 'No to terrorism. Yes to freedom and peace', and 'This cowardly act will unify us'. I have to add that there were similar demonstrations in Baghdad more than a week ago also by students against the bombings of police stations early this Ramadan. I hope the demonstrations advocates that bugged me are satisfied now. There are also preparations for anti-terror demonstrations before Id (end of Ramadan holidays).
::IP thwarted another suicide bombing attempt in Basrah and captured the culprits, two of them foreign Arabs and one Iraqi. I also heard that four other Arabs were arrested in Baghdad suspected of being behind the bombings against police stations and the Red Cross on the first of Ramadan. Relieving news, if only we could watch some public trials of these criminals on tv, I'm sure it would make a great diference.
::Ahmad Kathum Ibrahim, the Minister of Interior deputy (a really tough looking guy which I admire hugely) has been taking groups of poor Baghdadis in tours around Baghdad in one of Uday's gold plated Rolls-Royce's. He said that this car will be used from now on by newly wed IP officers and recruits on their wedding day celebrations zeffa.
::I watched the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake yesterday. ugghh. Why do they even bother doing remakes, serving no other purpose except ruining my favorite movies? Leatherface doesn't even look scary. Saddam looks way creepier.
Dear Raed, by Salam Pax.
G In Baghdad, by Gaith (Salam's friend). Has quitted blogging as far as I know.
Ishtar Talking, by Nawar in Basrah. Hasn't been updated for some months now.
Zainab, at realwomenonline.com. Quitted after one post.
Baghdad Burning, by Riverbend. Updated regularly.
Healing Iraq, the one you are reading right now.
The Mesopotamian, by Alaa. Regularly.
Iraq at a glance, by A.Y.S. Regularly.
Hammorabi, by Sam (Iraqi living in the UK).
Baghdadee, Iraqi group blog by Baghdadee (living in the US) and his friends in Iraq.
Nabil's Blog, sports blog by my brother Nabil.
Is Something Burning, Iraqi cooking blog by Riverbend.
Iraq The Model, by Omar and Mohammad.
I'll keep you updated on the new Iraqi blogs coming out. I still haven't had any luck getting Iraqi women to blog though. Maybe other Iraqis reading this blog can offer any help or suggestions?
Saturday, November 15, 2003
Now back to Baghdadee who describes his project (My emphasis):
Another attempt to get the voice of simple Iraqis who can’t speak/read English out to the universe.
We are volunteers thinking that this might be our participation in liberating Iraqis
Especially those who represent the silent majority which the old regime was trying to shut them up and to isolate.
We translate the comments and articles both way to our best to bridge between people on both sides of the world.
We would like any one who can help by translating comments and articles.
And send to our email or publish it on the comments page.
And from an email he sent me:
I am Iraqi, a high tech slave working for, living in the States/California with a base inside Iraq relying on some friends and relatives.. While I am setting and maintaining the site, they are doing the other stuff.. The idea is to let as much as Iraqi inside Iraq to have direct access to those outside.. I think there is a lot to be done in this field.
Keep up the good work buddy! You're doing just what we needed badly. And to everyone else, pay a visit, post your comments and do your best to publicize this project on the net. Embrace the guy and deluge him with hits. You can translate your comments into Arabic using this site to reach a wider audience of Iraqis. And to all Iraqis reading this, show your support by translating articles both ways and submitting them to Baghdadee and his crew to be published on their blog. You will be making a HUGE contribution to the Iraqi blogosphere.
:: I've started translating an abridged essay on the "Personality of Iraqis" by Ali Al-Wardi a renowned and respected Iraqi sociologist. He died in the late nineties a lonely death after the previous regime had isolated him, king Hussein of Jordan offered him free medical treatment back then. His books were banned for years because he had dared to criticize the consecutive Iraqi governments and had thoroughly analyzed the ambidextrous nature of the Iraqi society, his treatises were a shock to both Islamists and top gov. officials during his sixty years of writing, and he was repeatedly threatened with murder. There was supposed to be a website by Iraqis introducing his ideas and works after the war but I can't find it anywhere. But his books are translated into many languages so I highly recommend them if you can find them.
:: There have been news of more violence around Iraq. first the tragic bombing of the Italian force HQ in Nassiriyah which killed 18 Italians and much more Iraqi civilians killed and injured. Obviously the mugahedeen are trying to expand their operations to include relatively peaceful cities and to target coalition forces other than the Americans to pressure these groups to leave Iraq. Local residents of Nassiriyh have condemned this violent attack strongly, I heard many of them had established friendly relations with the Italians in the city. It would be a disaster if the Italians succumbed to the threats and left. It would be a substantial victory for the 'resistance', because I can see their goal is to spread terror around the country targetting different organizations in an attempt to force them out.
Well at least they aren't always successful. The IP thwarted another attempted suicide attack in Al-Dorah lately. An Ambulance rigged with two tons of C4 and TNT explosives was parked near a police station. Three suspicious looking bearded men fled from the car after IP noticed and tried to apprehend them. They weren't caught though.
Americans have been blundering a lot this week as well. After accidentally killing the chairman of Al-Sadr city's municipal council in Baghdad and a judge in Kirkuk last week, this time they almost killed Mohammed Bahr Al-Uloom, a GC member at the entrance of the green zone near the 14th of July bridge. His driver was injured badly and Bahr Al-Uloom (who is 80 years old) escaped injury miraculously. Another incident in my neighbourhood a couple of days ago, an IED exploded when a patrol drived by and they immediately opened fire in all directions, killing 5 civilians driving by, one of them a pregnant woman. Now what the hell happened to discipline? And what exactly are these patrols achieving anyway driving in civilian areas?
Thursday, November 13, 2003
But of course not every Iraqi here owns a satellite receiver, so the majority of Iraqis get their news from radio stations. For years now we have been accustomed to listening to the arabic editions of BBC, Voice of America, Radio Monte Carlo, Kuwait, Iran, and Iraqi opposition stations. We can now get these stations on FM for the first time in years. There is also a local coalition radio station, its news aren't very different from the IMN's, they both give a feeling of propaganda rather than balanced news. In addition to IMN there is a Kurdish station from Suleimaniyah, 'Al-Huriya' or Freedom Channel, and 'Ashur' an Assyrian language channel which I really haven't been able to receive on my tv. Both are similarly awful.
A little history. Before April 9 we had Uday's infamous 'telvizion Al-Shabab', Youth TV. Hailed by some humorous Iraqis as the world's best channel, seemingly because it displayed the latest pirated box office movies at the same time they were being shown in US theaters. It ripped off all the exclusive Egyptian tv shows from other Arab satellite channels. Its 9 o'clock news featured footages from every known news station in the world, scientific reports and documentaries from Discovey channel, sports and live matches, music clips requests, a special cartoon period for children. In other words it was a channel for everything and everyone. Even Saddam once addressed the Iraqis "What do you need satellite receivers for when you have telvision Al-Shabab?". Along that, there was the Iraqi Channel One, the oldest in Iraq which older generations followed, and the Iraqi Satellite Channel which people rarely ever watched but Iraqi expatriates were fond about. And another Sports channel which came and went. What bothered most about these stations was the incessant praising of the 'The leader, the neccessity', or when there was a speech or any stupid event or meeting related to Saddam. All stations would broadcast the event suddenly at once in the middle of a crucial football game, favorite program, or whatever you were watching. You would have to endure the face and voice of the despised tyrant and his goons for a couple of hours, only for the event to be replayed at the next news hour for another two or three hours, this might go on the next day as well. The last few months before the war, he had a meeting every day, so tv was literally unwatchable.
Back in those days, if you wanted to use a satellite receiver, you should purchase the smallest dish available, and hide it ingeniously. No use setting it on the roof, you would always have neighbours or local party members who would rat on you. The punishment was a six month jail and 400,000 Dinar fine. My uncle next door hid his dish in the backyard in some sort of cage covered with a thin sheet of linen. We experienced two raids looking for satellites in the last ten years, the last time 3 years ago, I got my aunt to distract the party members at the door while I went back and with amazing speed disassembled the dish and hurled it into our neighbours backyard. My grandmother took the receiver, cables and the remote control to bed under her blankets and feigned sleep. The guys searched and searched with no luck and left afterwards. In the first raid some nine years ago we weren't so fortunate. We did hide the receiver, but the dish was huge so they found it easily mainly because we were stupid enough to put it on the roof. My uncle had to bribe the security guys to avoid jail. But it was really worth the risk, to get a small glimpse of the outside world.
Ironically enough, you can find a dish on every roof in Baghdad now, just look what deprivation can do to people. Receivers are sold on nearly every block in town. About a million pieces were sold the last few months.
Anyway, the Iraqi Satellite channel is still off the air for unexplained reasons. I imagine seven months were enough for any kind of effort to get it going again. I have been reading about a new Iraqi Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) for two months, and its probably the same one that guy on Alaa's blog was talking about. I truly hope it won't be anything like the IMN. An Iraqi news channel to counter the lies of Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah. Which would interview everyday people and influential Iraqis for their voice to reach the rest of the world. The silence is killing me!
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Funny thing is he might not find any of them. Iraqis have been joking among themselves lately about GC members, and how only a handful of them are actually in Iraq, while the rest are back in their London apartments or too busy following their own personal agendas and making deals with huge corporations on the expense of Iraqis. Yes, we hear many rumours about such 'under the table' transactions by some GC members, pressuring cabinet ministers to pass these deals especially on Electric power and water projects. I say the shit has hit the fan, this is becoming serious and not so much different from the 'Oil for Palaces' programs. And people ask why Iraqis distrust the council, well thats why.
I was very enthusiastic when the GC was first announced four months ago, yes I understand they were picked not elected, but the council was supposed to be open for expanding its members anyway. Other people were so and so. Most were indifferent (as usual). The cons were the sectarian basis on choosing members, not enough authority, most of the members were expatriates and had not suffered under from Saddam's regime, low women representation on the council, and the fact that members did not have a wide following inside Iraq. The pros were that members were all educated and carried higher degrees (unlike our previous 'leaders'), were from well known families in Iraq, and the political parties which they represented were all involved in a long history of opposition to Saddam's rule.
What most Iraqis truly disliked about the GC was the absence of any effective communication betweeen GC members and the Iraqi people. I have never heard any speech from a council member to the people over the last 4 months. None of them have ever visited a school, or a university, or a ministry. Only Ibrahim Al-Jaa'fari bothered to visit Najaf during his one month term. As soon as the next member gets his turn he immediately gets busy with diplomatic and business trips to neighbouring countries instead of grasping the oppurtunity to show Iraqis that he might be one day a good leader and prove his legitimacy. I think most of them blew any chance they had. They haven't even held one cabinet meeting with ministers who in my opinion are doing a much greater job. They don't have an official newspaper or even a website. There was such a big fuss about the GC representing Iraq in the Arab League and the Islamic conference, who gives a damn what they think of Iraq or who represents it? Why bother with them in the first place. I think the GC forgot the meaning of the word 'interim'. There actions certainly don't reflect that fact, they act as benificiary owners and future rulers which worries me greatly.
But I think that dissolving the whole council would be another huge mistake. Expanding it into a national conference with greater powers and authorities would be more realistic. We can add professional technocrats and non-partisans from different Iraqi provinces who would be more of service to us than party leaders and tribal sheikhs. Or even better two bodies, a council with two or three members preferably technocrats elected from each of the 18 provinces of Iraq, and another council consisting of the present GC members with other parties and renowned Iraqi characters, won't hurt to throw in some judges, moderate clerics and sheikhs with them as well. And a presidential council of say 4 members elected by these two bodies. This national conference would study drafts of our previous constitutions and present a transitional constitution until elections are held in the near future. I think this would be the most realistic alternative instead of appointing a new council and going through another phase of trial and error which could last for months.
He emailed me and asked for advice and to mention his experiment on the blog to attract peoples attention.
You can visit his blog here for the details:
Please offer him feedback and any other assistance he may request. This contribution of his may turn out into a ground breaking and interesting experiment.
Monday, November 10, 2003
I doubt any Iraqi, or even American official, can answer these questions accurately. However I will attempt to give you a near answer based on what Iraqis think and from my own views as well.
I believe that 'resistance' is a loose term. Most resistance movements in history at least had ideologies and political agendas fueling them. A resistance cannot be arbitrary. Also resistance movements have always acted to win the hearts of the people they are supposedly fighting for. We can't call someone who sabotages his own country's resources and facilities and targets his own people as a 'freedom fighter'. These seem more like acts of revenge to me. Revenge against fellow countrymen for accepting their new gift of freedom and for 'collaborating' with the 'invaders. And making sure that Iraqis do not enjoy the fruits of their liberation from a fascist bloodsucking regime.
Another important point is that we evidently have various groups operating which rarely cross paths with the others:
1)Diehard Baathists and Saddam loyalists. I think this is the largest insurgent group. Operating mainly in the Sunni triangle north and west of Baghdad. Former Republican Guard, and security forces. Tribes which have largely benefited from the former regime. And which possess no other merit besides loyalty and slavery to it. Most of them are experienced in combat and guerilla warfare. Attacks carried out by these groups are recognizable. Mortar attacks, RPG ambushes, anti-aircraft attacks, explosive rigged cars, and IED's planted on highways and main roads. They may be broken into smaller groups with different names each operating in its own area with no coordination with others. They are also behind assasinations of 'collaborators', judges, university professors, municipal council members, and IP lieutenants. Acts of sabotage against oil pipelines, electricity cables, and other vital facilities. They are large on propaganda and cirulating rumours and conspiracy theories.
2)Local Islamic extremists and groups such as Ansar Al-Islam. Also not a force to be underestimated. Their attacks are less accurate and successful than the former. They are supported financially by foreign Arab extremists and sympathizers. They are thought to be behind the threats against schools and hospitals and Iraqi 'collaborators'. Call them Wahhabis, Salafees, etc.
3)Foreign infiltrators. They enter Iraq from neighbouring countries mainly from Syria and Saudi Arabia. Most of them young and brainwashed men from different Arab and Muslim countries who believe they are doing a great good in fighting the 'infidel' Americans. They obviously have some support inside Iraq, as it would be impossible for them to operate alone in a foreign country. They are the deadliest. They were responsible for the suicide attacks against the UN, Red Cross, and IP stations. Suicide bombings are their main form of attacks. Call them Al-Qaeda if you wish.
4)Individual acts of revenge against coalition forces fueled by tribal or religious humiliation. For example when a local tribal Sheikh's house is raided or when a local cleric is detained, many of their followers will feel offended and may carry out individual attacks, such as the Ammarah incident against the British and the attacks in Al-Sadr city, Najaf, and Karbala by Muqtada Al-Sadr's followers.
In my opinion each one of these groups act independently from the other. Each one is a problem. I believe that to counter the first group a little firmness is required such as what is going on in Tikrit right now. Isolating the area, house to house searching, and confiscating weapons from locals. Its not too late yet for such action. Securing the borders would prevent sneaking of Arab terrorists.
Iraqis reactions to attacks vary widely. Most are indifferent but lately the attacks against the IP stations and the threats against schools have largely changed that. Iraqis now openly show their disgust for such actions and this has also made them eager to report any suspicious individuals in their neighbourhoods. We have our fools such as the 'dancing peasants of Fallujah' as Alaa nicely put it, who show their glee whenever they come across a camera. And on many occasions , as I have told you earlier, Al-Jazeera and Al-Aribiyah deliberately encourage people to do so before rolling the cameras.
Anyway, the aforementioned post was an exception. I have been significantly stressed lately by personal circumstances unrelated to the blog. I guess it was also evident from some of my latest entries. I know I shouldn't have let that reflect on my writing. I am still new to all of this but I am learning daily. Then someone suggested that my fellow countrymen were not doing enough for Iraq, and another said that I was too busy playing games instead of playing an active role in the reconstruction. He was right. The best I can offer is to live my daily life normally without being intimidated by the armies of darkness attempting to undermine my future. I do not consider maintaining this modest blog as an act of service to my country as many people kindly cheered me up with. I do have a feeling of utter helplessness.
The remark that Iraqis were not doing their best to move on and rebuild Iraq was the last straw for me. I blindly lashed out at everyone. It was unfair and totally uncalled for. I became emotional and illogical. I said some nasty things and used offensive language. It did relieve me for a while though. And then I seriously considered quitting writing. I returned the following day to check my email and I was dumbfound. There were 860 messages in my inbox. At first I thought I had been attacked by some spammer, but that wasn't the case. They were emails from people all over the world offering their support and understanding and urging me to continue. My eyes welled up with tears, and I am a person that has cried only once or twice in years. I felt so awful I wished then that some suicide bomber would enter the cafe and blow me up with him. I went back home that day and took it upon my self to read all the emails and comments.
Please do not misunderstand. I did not intend to offend or be rude. I did not mean to be ungrateful to people who have sent their boys and girls to fight for my cause. My heart goes out to all the moms who wrote to me and to the others who didn't. It is only to you that I should apologise. And to anyone who is reading this I promise that I will be more careful in my posts from now on.
Sunday, November 09, 2003
Meet Ays, my friend and colleague. We just finished setting up his weblog Iraq at a glance. Go take a look at his blog and leave him a kind and encouraging comment. Ays talks about his new blogging experience:
"Frequently , I was dreaming of having a simple page to post my own ideas , thoughts and opinions , but I couldn’t find what I’m looking for .
But now , I am so exited to find this great site ( http://www.blogger.com) which will guide and help hundreds of thousands of people to blog and say whatever they see and debate with others ,( ESPECIALLY the Iraqis , we were living in the dark ages , you know ) ."
Once again I can't stress enough the importance of reading ALL the Iraqi blogs you can find. I will do my best to convince more and more Iraqis to voice their thoughts on the web. Stay tuned.
Saturday, November 08, 2003
A man, in middle age, alas, which brings to my mind the famous Arab verse which I translate very imperfectly: “ Oh how I wish that youth returns one day so that I may tell him the evil doings of old age”. I have a family, boys and a girl whom I love so much and about whose security and future I care more than anything else in the world. I am a professional (an engineer), practicing my profession and quite busy at that. I cannot pretend to be a typical specimen of an “Ordinary Iraqi”, but a fairly typical middle class professional Baghdadi.
What are you waiting for? Go welcome my friend to the blogosphere, and spread the word about his promising journal. Freedom will prevail. We are no longer a 'silent majority'.
Friday, November 07, 2003
Wednesday, November 05, 2003
First, I have to explain to some western idealists that public demonstrations is an alien idea to the majority of Iraqis. We have been forced to demonstrate in favour of Saddam, the Ba'ath, Palestine, and Arab nationalism for 3 decades. Just to give you an idea on how that was like for us; party members would surround colleges, schools, and govt. offices. They block all outlets and shove people into buses which head to wherever the demonstrations are to be held. You simply cannot refuse to demonstrate. I remember hiding in the toilet back in high school whenever the buses came into the park to herd us to the demos. It wasn't a pleasant experience I can tell you. Once I got stuck and had to shout anti-imperialist slogans at one of these rallies just two years ago. You don't have the slightest idea of what it is like to live your life daily in fear.
Now today, we are facing terrorist and violent threats against our nurseries, schools, colleges, hospitals, clinics, oil pipelines, power stations, water purification systems, and other civilian facilities. If you think that a peaceful demonstration would deter those criminals from doing harm to us, then you are 100% wrong. Do you think the Syrians/Saudis/Iranians/Yemenis/Sudanese would simply say 'Oh look, the Iraqis don't want us there, lets go home and leave the Americans and Iraqis work it out'? Or if you think we should go out and face the dangers just to prove to you -paranoid Americans sitting in your ivory towers watching tv- that we do not support the terrorists, then you are wrong again.
You see a handful of teenagers dancing in front of the camera celebrating dead Americans, and you judge an entire people, you start whining about pulling the troops out of Iraq and giving the Iraqis what they deserve. Are you people really so close-minded? It is the fault of your news agencies that show you what they want, its certainly not ours. If you want us to go out and cry for your dead soldiers and wave American flags, then don't count on it either. We are losing way too many innocent Iraqis daily to be grieving over dead soldiers who have actually made a decision to come here. What about the thousands of dead Iraqis who were not as lucky to have a choice? Did you cry for them?
According to a poll by an Iraqi agency, only 3% of Iraqis want Saddam back and less than 40% want the Americans to leave immediately. Did you even hear about these results?
If you think that Iraqis aren't doing enough, then you're being mislead by your media. Thousands of people are applying to be members of IP, FPS, and the civil defense force. They are begging for the security to be in their hands. We know how to handle those scum. The Americans are more interested in being nice and all about human rights and free speech and stuff. We have our own Law and court systems which we can use but the CPA won't allow us to. They are being too lenient and forgiving on our expence. If you think that is what is required to build a successful democracy then you're too deluded. You don't know the first thing about the Iraqi society.
Iraqis are providing intelligence to the CPA hourly. Just ask the soldiers here. Iraqis are cooperating in every way they can. They're losing their lives for it goddammit. If you aren't seeing it on tv, it isn't my fucking problem.
Imagine yourself living in a neighbourhood with a large number of ex-Baathists/Wahhabis/extremists like I do. Would you go out and denounce the Jihadis/Ba'athists openly for everyone to see, and then get back from work one day to find your brother kidnapped or a threat letter hanging on your door? A friend of mine was standing in front of his house with his kids when a car drove by and emptied a magazine of bullets into them. You know why? Because he was working with the CPA in reconstructing Baghdad Airport. What do you think he did? He stubbornly refused to quit his job and bravely returned to work after spending a week in hospital. Would you do the same? Of course not. We expected most of the IP would simply leave their jobs after last weeks bombing, well they didn't. In fact there were thousands of parents volunteering to carry arms and protect the schools which their kids attend to allow the IP to do their real job.
Let me be honest. Look at what 9/11 did to you. It shocked you, and you can't get over it to this day. Well let me invite you to Iraq where 9/11 is an everyday reality. How would you live your life? Stop comparing your 'perfect' society with mine. It isn't the same. People don't think the same. We don't put flags and stickers on our cars to show how patriotic we are. We don't go out in a 'dentists against terrorism' demonstration. We still don't have your free-speech and other social niceties yet.
Another thing I'm sure you haven't seen in your news. There are paintings on the walls all over Baghdad warning Arab foreigners from a bloody revenge if they keep messing with our affairs. Iraqis are openly calling the GC to quit the Arab League.
And to the guy who was being sarcastic about me sitting in an internet cafe and blogging or playing games instead of going out and organizing a demonstration. Well maybe you are right. I'm sick of people who don't appreciate my efforts. I'm wasting many hours a day and half my salary just to maintain this blog. I have a job, patients, a family, and friends, in other words I have a life. Maybe I will at one point do as you say and diss this whole stupid blog idea.
Tuesday, November 04, 2003
-The practice of blaming 'the other' in our societies is not a recent one. It has been engraved deeply in our minds for centuries, for various reasons. A person usually denies his own mistakes in front of his peers, and attempts to blame them on 'the other'. Who is this 'other'?. Sometimes it could be embodied, sometimes it could be invisible. This is the basis of all conspiracy theories, to acquit ones self from all responsibilities for its mistakes. We all remember as young schoolboys how we used to attribute our poor grades to the 'bad teacher'.
Everytime Saddam Hussein was asked about the reasons he waged war on Iran and Kuwait, he would answer coldly: It is always 'the other' who conspires against the great achievements of Al-Thawra (the revolution).
When we condemned Bin Laden and Hussein for all their atrocities against humanity, the conspiracy theorists would rush to us and correct us that 'the US are the ones to blame. After all they were who made Bin Laden and Saddam, weren't they?'. As if Saddam was just an innocent child or a pure angel before he established contact with the US. Or as if the US was the only power in the world who provided him any support or assistance. Also these people incorrectly assume that Islamic extremism was born today, or that it was the US that caused it to exist. Some even go far to try to convince us that these terrorist acts are the direct response to American policies in the region.
Just like they are trying to convince us today that the horrendous actions against Iraqi civilians today by militants/resistance/mujahedeen/terrorists are due to the American presence or occupation in Iraq. They forget that this sickened ideal would readily target other secularists/infidels/kafirs/reformists or any other creed that is different to theirs in the absence of an enemy such as the US in their way.
When we expressed our joy for the fall of Saddam, the conspiracy theorists would poke their noses and explain to us that 'it is America that has removed this tyrant, why rejoice to that?'.
Our intellectual disaster is that our children, old ladies, peasants,.etc voice the same political opinions of our educated conspiracy theorists. Not because they are repeating them, but due to the fact that their opinions are based on the same beliefs that are inspired from popular mythology, heritage, cultural roots, religious misconceptions, and folklore deep seated in the region.
How are we supposed to have a dialogue with someone who believes the coalition forces presence in Iraq is part of a larger conspiracy or design against Iraq and the Arab/Muslim world?
How are we supposed to reason with someone who still believes that Saddam was working for the Americans?
Does that imply that every tyrant or dictator in the world that the US has not acted against is somehow related to the US? I have no idea what political language I can use to communicate with such people.
Why don't they point to the massive support Saddam recieved from the Soviet Union, France, China, and other countries of the Warsaw pact during the seventies, eighties, nineties, up to the last moment the fascist regime was in power? Why don't they mention the fact that all the other Arab regimes were behind him when he was commiting genocide against the Kurds?
We can't underestimate the effect of the conspiracy theory on the collective consciousness of the Arab people. The Arab mind is apt to grasp this theory because as we mentioned it is already present in its subconscious for centuries. It has adapted Arabs to be more tolerant and forgiving of their respective regimes, and would push people to support them against any foreign influence especially if that influence was the US which would endanger these regimes. See how Arab regimes in general are still shedding crocodile tears for Saddam and the poor occupied Iraqi people. Where were they the last 30 years?
Conspiracy theorists view the US in a narrowed eye. They are absolutists. They refuse any American political or military action which might benefit our people. Because they believe that any such benefit would not be out of concern for Iraqis or Arabs. Even if the US has vital interests in the area it does not mean we should refuse the positive outcome to our people or countries. If our interests coincide we cooperate with each other. And this is not Machiavellianism as someone naively suggested. This is Pragmatism.
In other words they do not differ greatly from the various Arab news channels in their coverage of the current situation in Iraq. Focusing on the negative in everything without even a hint to the huge progress in the country within the last few months. And just like these stations readily accuse the coalition for anything negative, the conspiracy theorists repeat the distorted facts blindly.
Our conspiracy theorists are very much like soccer team fans who shout and scream and try to give the impression that they are more skilled than the football player when he performs poorly. Of course the spectators aren't the same as those in the field, they don't understand the psychology of the player, the stress, and the technical requirements of the game. If their team loses, the crowd will simply say 'oh the referee was bribed', 'the goalkeeper sided with the opponents', 'the field was muddy', 'the grass wasn't mowed properly', 'the floor was slippery'..etc.
To blame the US for the war is easy. But to blame Saddam is a crime. After all he was just peacefully building his palaces, and cooperating with UN investigators. America was just being bloodthirsty and craving for war.
We ask the theorists, couldn't Saddam accept the offers for exile just like Iddi Amin or Taylor more recently? Couldn't he simply take the money and leave to avoid the war? Couldn't he have agreed to the inspections a long time ago? Isn't it his idiocy that was responsible for the war? Why did he give the US a justification for war? Or you think he should have stood to face the 'imperialist zionist design' against the region? Well I am the first to welcome this blessed design if it meant a better future and would change the rotten face of the area.
Of course these people contradict themselves, at one point they oppose the dictatorial regime, at another they defend his crimes when it comes to the US. They remind us of the UN sanctions and try to convince us -who have experienced the two wars and the embargo- that the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths were the result of these sanctions. It seems they choose to believe Tariq Aziz and Al-Sahaf and to disbelieve the fact that Saddams ruthless actions against the Iraqi people were responsible. Are they aware that Saddam did not import enough food and medicine for Iraqis? Are they aware that Saddam used billions of dollars from the Oil-For-Food program to construct hundreds of palaces, presidential resorts, and great mosques? Do they know that Saddam refused to maintain the damaged electric power infrastructure for the whole country while able to do so? Do they know that the regime imported the latest medical equipment from France the next day after the failed assasination of Uday? Why didn't he import them for other Iraqis? Why did they have to die? Why did he say they were prohibited by economic sanctions? How can someone defend such a regime just to prove a point? How can some Iraqis say today that they want Saddam back? Are they suffering from amnesia? or self-delusion?
'Saddam Hussein and his followers are the real enemies of Iraq NOT the Americans.'
'The coalition forces are our guests in Iraq.'
'The Americans are a peace loving nation.'
'We hope that the holy month of Ramadan will be a month of peace for both Iraqis and Americans.
'I call for the Americans to invite me to attend their meetings, forums, camps, and churches. I am longing for that.'
'Assist me in declaring peace and unity between the Americans and the Iraqis and to fight terrorism in Iraq.'
'The Iraqi people wish nothing but peace for the Americans.'
What did you do to my favorite tyrant?? I demand an explanation immediately. He must have sold out his soul or something. This isn't Muqty.
An agent of Al-Sistani described this matter as urgent and essential to regain the security and stability of Iraq. This is not the first time Al-Sistani advised this. The last time was following the violence in Karbala and Najaf. It seems to me that he is alluding to Sadr's Al-Mahdi army. Senior marji's of Al-Hawza have made it clear that they do not approve of the young man's actions, and criticized him openly on many occasions.
Right now there are 3 major militias operating in Iraq:
a)Peshmerga, or Kurdish fighters operating in Kurdistan. These are Barzani's KDP and Talabani's PUK armed wings. They refused previous calls from coalition to disarm. Estimated at about 50,000 troups.
b)Faylaq Badr (Badr brigade), about 20,000, were trained in Iran. Al-Hakim's armed wing of SCIRI. Deployed mainly in southern Iraq and around holy cities of Najaf, and Karbala. The coalition gave them the task of protecting these cities after the Najaf bombing.
c)Jaish Al-Imam Al-Mahdi (Al-Mahdi army), exact number unknown, could be around 10,000 or more. They follow orders from Muqtada Al-Sadr. They control most of Al-Sadr city in Baghdad and Al-Kufah near Najaf. Some of its leaders are being held and questioned by the coalition.
There are other minor militias, such as Al-Chalabi's INC militia. Each Hawza marji' has his own private little force. But the above are the largest and the most organized.
Monday, November 03, 2003
I have convinced a couple of friends to start blogging. I'm still explaining the technical stuff to them. Just thought I'd let you know. Stay tuned. Our voice will be heard.
Extreme security measures everywhere. IP and FPS were in front of every school, college, bank, hospital, and gov. building. Concrete barriers and barbed wire. Checkpoints in the busy areas. It looked like they took the threats very seriously. Which is a good sign.
People didn't send their kids to schools. I don't blame them for that. It's best to be cautious. I didn't allow my brother to go to school the last two days. Some people were indignant and criticized others who were intimidated by the menshoorat.
Some people in the comments section were whining about how iraqi youth weren't organizing anti-terrorism demonstrations and such. Problem is those people are comparing the Baghdadi society to theirs. If we did go out in such parades, there would be troublemakers only too willing to join the crowd and start shouting 'death to America' and 'down with Bush' and it would turn into an anti-occupation rally. Also people fear for their lives and don't want to be so open about these things.
Sunday, November 02, 2003
I'm frustrated. I wrote a couple of entries at home and the power went off before I could save them. I'll try again tomorrow.
Mullah Uday Al-Sadr shows the new Iraqi flag design of the Islamic Republic of Iraq.
Saturday, November 01, 2003
I first heard about them three days ago. I didn't see any of these myself. But my cousin said that he read one and it wasn't from Islamic extremists, nor did it mention any kind of attacks. He said it was signed by the Ba'ath, and it called Iraqis for civil disobediance on these three days. For what reason, I have no idea. Probably just to prove a point. There were however people spreading fear among Iraqis by warning that there will be suicide attacks on schools, colleges, hospitals, and governmental offices. Or maybe there are different kinds of leaflets. Who knows. I heard that Al-Jazeera got copies of these and displayed them. I didn't see them. I'll try to find one of these and post it here.
From what I'm seeing nobody is taking these leaflets or warnings seriously, and I sure don't. There were similar leaflets before and nobody followed them. We didn't hear anyone from the ministry of interior or CPA or on tv deny these rumours. They should because the local newspapers are only aggravating the panic. I'll let you know what happens.
I mentioned that he might be an Iraqi or someone from the CPA and noted that it might have been an interesting read if he did NOT post under Riverbend's name. I left it at that. In the least I did not expect people to email me accusing me of endorsing the fake site and then coming to all sorts of false conclusions about me or my blog from that premise. It isn't my job (or hobby) to be an Internet cop. But since so much people were whining I reluctantly looked up the 'evidence' and it seems that the faker is an 'embittered Republican party activist', 'a right-wing nut', a 'misogynist', and a 'propagandist' as they put it. So according to that I can now safely assume that he is not an Iraqi nor someone from CPA (happy now?).
I also have to mention that I am NOT endorsing these sites that are offering proof of the faker's real identity. I just want to ask some 'neutral' parties to please take a look at that evidence and give us their opinions in the comments section. The sites offering the proof could have enough resources to truly prove the guy's real identity. Or they could be just as biased which could affect their judgement. If they are really 100% sure and can provide concrete evidence, I can't see how my brief remark would undermine their evidence.
I do appreciate the service Brian offered Riverbend and her readers in exposing the lies of riverSbend. To everyone who is trying to make this an issue go here.
While I think its deplorable that the author of riverSbendblog.blogspot.com assumed Riverbend's identity, used graphics that are not his own, tried to give the impression that he is an Iraqi, and obviously to cast doubt on Riverbend's writing. I also think it is equally deplorable that people jump to conclusions about MY identity or MY site just from a couple of lines I wrote about the smear site. And if you people were able to trace the faker back to the US, why not do the same and trace me back to Iraq and put an end to all this nonsensical BS?
These are the sites offering the evidence of the guy's identity:
Everyone is welcome to spill their guts in the comments section.