Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome
Following for your reading pleasure is my weekly Global Voices column...
Given the recent events in Iraq, it may come as some surprise to find the variety of subjects in Iraqi blogs this week. Read on for a selection.
First let me welcome a new blogger to the scene. Hala s. who used to guest blog at Asterism is now Madly in love with Iraq:
I thought to myself why am I going to this place? I feel so down and this meeting will only agitate and distress me more. I am not mentally prepared for it today. A diversity of Iraqis put together, almost always we end up agreeing to disagree, if we are lucky, or a fight erupts causing embarrassment to the host.
Word from the Street:
While the media may be full of stories speculating on the likelyhood of ongoing civil war the Iraqi bloggers are generally reporting that things are returning back to normal. However this is not the general definition of 'normal' that I would use...
"with the exception of the local mosque being fired upon, and a corpse found at dawn three streets down, things have been relatively quiet."
Iraq the Model describes the organised way in which the demonstrations were started:
the protests were not spontaneous like clerics want us to think; in fact the only spontaneous protest was the one in Samarra itself!
I live here and I've seen the whole thing. The demonstrations in Baghdad began after the fatwa and I saw how shop keepers unwillingly closed their shops when the men in black with their arms and loudspeakers ordered them to do so "in the name of the Hawza" and I saw the sad look on the faces of people abandoning their only source of income for a time that could go indefinitely.
Konfused Kid gets an call in the middle of the night:
It was Habeeb, a neighbor friend.
'Hey Habeeb, something happened?'
'Naw, just bored, standing outside here with my Noss Akhmaas [AK-47], wondered if you could come and join us?'
I never fired anything in my life, nor do I intend to
'I've got nothing but my dick in my hands...plus, I gotta read, ward off the bogeymen for me'
'Can't believe u carrying it, shoot a bullet for me'
'Shut the f**k up'
He also gives a day by day breakdown of how the crisis developed in his area of Baghdad. Definately worth reading!
Zeyad refused to go to work today (Wednesday). He met friends and neighbours and exchanged stories. He saw some soldiers pass by:
Three Iraqi army armoured vehicles and a pickup truck flying a ragged Iraqi flag were slowly patrolling the main street, followed by a huddled trail of civilian vehicles. Storeowners and pedestrians briefly paused with whatever they were doing and gazed warily at the soldiers aboard. I stood at the door for a moment, peering into their eyes, trying to determine whether I would trust those young men with my family and neighbours' lives. Some looked edgy and alert, and some of them appeared to be simply bored. One dark, skinny soldier returned my inquisitive look with a wan smile on his face. His AK-47 was pointing in my direction.
Fayrouz posts some emails from her friend, Queen Amidala in Basra:
They [militia men dressed in black] now control the streets at night like the real military. At night, they wear all black and cover their faces with some kind of a black mask like the one in the photographs.
Also, there's no fuel in the city. We can't buy it from the fuel stations for a while now. We always buy it from people on the streets for higher prices -- black market. But, they are no where to be found for the last three days.
Add to that there isn't electricity 24/7. And now we can't let the generators work like before because of the fuel shortage. So we are back to the dark ages, only this time it's much more worse.
Shaggy is enjoying himself:
I really love day time curfews. It makes the whole city feel like an oversized park. The weather these past few days has been gorgeous too. I wish I had repaired my bike. It really sucks that I'm somewhat stuck at home.
Several bloggers picked up this image originally posted by Zeyad. The best caption goes to Akba of Iraq Rising:
Speculation on the crisis:
Iraq The Model is clear who was behind the mosque bombing in Samarra:
It's not a secret who was behind the attack on the shrine and I am sure that who did it were the Salafi/Wahabis whether Iraqi or foreigners and with external support from parties planning to disrupt the political process in Iraq.
Read on to find out why.
Hammorabi is blaming everyone:
The responsibility for what is going on now is not only on Al-Qaeda and its supporters among some of the political parties but all the other parties bear responsibility because of their failure to form the government. The recent unprecedented and biased statements of the US ambassador in Baghdad (Z. K. Zada) were of great push for the terrorists to commit their acts. These statements were condemned by many Iraqi writers and Intelligent as they are based on a sectarian attitude. We feel that ZKZ is a better Ambassador in Kabul. Iraq needs a healer not a high commissioner.
Free Iraqi wonders why every one blames the Sunnis:
Since the end of the war every atrocity committed in Iraq was attributed to the Sunnis, not just the Ba'athists or radical Sunnis but all Sunnis. The poor She'at and Kurds have been suffering for hundreds of years while the Sunnis were all privileged and living in a paradise called Iraq
And points out that the Shia have skeletons in their closets too:
When I served in the military I made friends with a devoted She'at Captain... This guy was very proud of his job and accomplishments. He often talked about his heroic actions against the "saboteurs". Who were those saboteurs? ... anyone who stood against Saddam during the uprising and that meant the vast majority of the She'at. Yet this Captain always refer to the She'at Imams and quote them during our conversations...
That guy was no exception for the denial most Iraqis lived in at Saddam's days and we had many officers like him in our camp... This is part of the reason, as I think, why most Iraqis especially She'at do not want Saddam's trial to take its natural long course. They don't want to remember their submission and even collaboration with the tyrant
Asterism (thats me) suggests:
The Iraqi people must take their destiny in their hands... If they do not they can only expect more Samarras and more bloodshed everytime events do not go to the liking of one gang or another.
Further we must define our own unity and national government and not leave it to other countries that only have their own selfish interests at heart. At the root of this conflict is the meddling of foreign interests in Iraq's affairs.
In other words:
Baghdad Treasure tells of the dangers of working as a reporter:
As a reporter, I’ve been at risk in Baghdad and other provinces several times. Working for an Iraqi media means something but working for US media means something else! As an Iraqi reporter working with a US media, I am considered a “spy”, “collaborator” or sometimes an “infidel” in the eyes of the insurgents who said have the “right” to kill me as I broke the rule of “true Islam” and become a “spy to the infidels”, which is nonsense. ...
Since I started working, I have been so cautious in telling people where I work. No one in my neighborhood knows what I do. If so, I would be finished in a minute as I live in a very dangerous neighborhood ... I have to say that I am being cautious, but the question is: is this enough?!
He also remembers the murdered Iraqi journalist Atwar Bahjat who died in Samarra last week.
I don’t know how to explain her death in the middle of this chaos the country is going through since the latest bombing. I cannot even find a way to express my grief. Tears have almost dried. I feel I am using blood instead of ink. What kind of cruelty is this to kill an innocent journalist who sacrificed her life just to tell the truth. She was there to tell the world that what happened was a crime and what is coming is worse as if she expected her death.
and reminds us of the kidnapped Journalist Jill Carroll:
Jill’s deadline is tomorrow. It aches me and makes me feel so terrible. She was my comfort along with J. I don’t know whether she’ll be released or not. I am afraid of one thing. I am afraid that her captors will kill her like what happened to Margaret Hasan during the Falluja battle. Oh Jill!! I am sorry to all what is happening to you. I wish I could do something to help you.
Aunt Najma gets her exam results: "The first three papers brought me the worst news. I got 76 in Biology, 89 in French and 93 in Arabic, so you see I was crushed in the beginning" and those were the bad grades(!) "the only 100 in English for the whole class. I got 100 in Mathematics too, 98 in Physics, 95 in Chemistry and religion." And why is she blogging so infrequently? "mom doesn't want me to spend much time on the net and I feel guilty if I update frequently too. I don't want to be doing well blogging and badly studying." Someone tell Najma's Mom to give her a break - she got 100 in English and Maths!
Nibras Kazimi reports on the 'Baghdad Sniper':
A leading terrorist ‘warrior’ who have been lionized by the jihadist propaganda machine over the last two years was himself killed by a sniper shot recently... It is interesting to see that the jihadists decided to announce his death rather than keeping the myth going.
Niqash Press Blogs recommends "the Iraq section of the Global Voices Online project provides a great overview of what Iraqi bloggers are saying about the current situation". But I guess you already knew that :)
AnaRki13 tells us a shocking secret ... "There is no crime in Iraq." to explain:
"I mean, yeah sure there is, but not in the same sense as Chechnya, or Bogotá, Colombia, or Beirut (Circa 1980ish...)"
He then goes on to give "Staying Alive in post-war Iraq FOR DUMMIES" instructions - in two versions. For Iraqis:
1. NEVER EVER go out when IT’S DARK; preferably lock yourself in after 6 p.m.
2. NEVER EVER stop to give help of ANYKIND to ANYONE you do not know, and even then, be careful.
3. ALWAYS give American Hummers the right of way, unless you want to be rammed or turn to Swiss-cheese. Even if your wife is giving birth in the back. ESPECIALLY that! ...
And for non-Iraqis:
1. AVOID coming to Iraq in the first place. If not possible, then:
2. NEVER trust Iraqis, we are a scheming, profiteering, xenophobic lot, and we’d love nothing more than to gain a few hundred thousand dollars from an “Ajnabi” (Foreigner). Even the people who work with you in the GZ, they are vetted and scanned sure sure, but who knows what lurks in the hearts of men?
*the shadow knows…. cough cough*
I don't know bout hit-prices, but regarding kidnappings, it’s an established norm nowadays that the opening price is about 20’000 USD, everything is negotiable from there, it can run as low as 2000-3000 USD if you’re lucky!
As a finale he criticises oatmeal: "What is the point of Oatmeal anyway?
No Color, No Taste. No Smell; Just Texture."
Meemo, Baghdad's only Bohemian Beatnik Blogger takes a time out from his usual stream of thoughts to interview .... himself in the style of a teenage pop magazine. Here are some selected Q&A:
Name: Meemo Abbas, Show Time, Psycho.
Birthplace: Baghdad-Great Iraq.
Tattoos: none, but will have soon.
Candy: Kit Kat.
Body Part on opposite sex: eyes, hair, smile and the shoes,
Is it part of the body, LOL.
Pepsi or Coke: Pepsi
McDonalds or Burger King: McDonalds, but I prefer Al-Sa3a
Strawberry or Watermelon: Watermelon.
Rap or Punk: Hard Rock & Heavy Metal.
Bedtime: Don't have one, I sleep whenever I want.
Best physical feature: my nose, it’s amazing, it's kinda big so you can talk with it sometimes if you want.
Do you Drink: What?? Say it again I can't hear ya, call me again later cause I can't hear ya now ;).
First Thought Waking Up: I'm still alive.
How do you want to Die: Forget to breathe.