Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome
And again for you reading and commenting pleasure, my weekly column from Global Voices Online on what the Iraqi bloggers are saying:
This week bloggers in Iraq are saying the same thing in different ways - the security situation is becoming unbearable. Also, in my bag today, a winning blogger gets another award; Chikitita negotiates Iraqi bureaucracy - Lara Croft-style; Meemo has a party; Caeser has a chance meeting with a girl with Down's Syndrome and there are plenty of pontificating pundits.
First I am saddened again to send condolences to fellow blogger Al-Baghdadi for the loss of his elder brother in tragic circumstances. The loss is worse as last June his youngest brother was murdered by kidnappers. He wrote to Fayrouz about what happened:
"I really regret and sorry to tell with all the pain in the world squeezing my heart, that I had lost my older brother S., age 52, a week ago in Baghdad... He was kidnapped from outside his house..A day after they contacted the family asking for a ransom, we tried our utmost to collect and pay whatever they may ask. But we failed. Three days later his body was found at the Baghdad morgue, savagely tortured and killed in a way out of any humanity..Words fail me.
And among all this, his oldest son O., age 19, called me saying, "Uncle, don'’t dare come back to Baghdad. Those gangs are waiting for you and expecting you to come." Do you believe that? My older brother is killed and I can not attend his funeral?
This is what we got in the new Iraq. Now I got two widowed sisters-in-law and 9 orphans. You tell me what to do?"
Congratulations again to Riverbend! Hot on the heels of her of her Bloggie, Riverbend's book of her blog has been long-listed for BBC Four's prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. She is not one to stand on her laurels - so Truth About Iraqis will do that in her place..
"Doesn't it just make you proud to be Iraqi? Doesn't it make you proud of Iraqi women (Hey Jackie Spinner, how's your imitation of a book doing?)?"Security, sercurity, security
If one issue stands out above others in this weeks Iraqi blogs it is the lack of security. Iraq, lately, was never a safe place but people are beginning to notice the signs of how it has affected their lives.
Messopotamian tells us straight "The situation in Baghdad is deteriorating from day to day." and gives a dire warning: "It has to be admitted that the city is under siege and has become the front battle line. Emergency measures have to be put in place immediately, otherwise as everbody in Baghdad knows, the whole city is going to fall soon."
Riverbend watches Iraqi television late at night:
"I was reading the little scrolling news headlines on the bottom of the page... Suddenly, one of them caught my attention and I sat up straight on the sofa, wondering if I had read it correctly... The line said:Driving after dark is a worrying experience in Baghdad. "It makes every thought of killing, kidnapping, insurgents, and everything bad idea become present in your mind. That is what the Iraqis see every night." according to 24 Steps to Liberty. He passes through a checkpoint but is not safe yet: "Just to struggle again to find a way home through the cement-barrier- blocked smaller streets. And to be trapped in what? Gunmen clashing with Iraqi security forces, so then you have to find another street that doesn’t take you home with bullets in your head." and he gives other examples of Hell in a Baghdad Street.
“The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are accompanied by coalition forces working in that area.”
That’s how messed up the country is at this point... But it also brings to light other worrisome issues. The situation is so bad on the security front that the top two ministries in charge of protecting Iraqi civilians cannot trust each other.
Even in homes there is a change. Baghdad Treasure hears shooting outside his house. He writes:
"My father cocked his rifle. “Looking at you doing this scares me more than the ones shooting outside,” my shaking mother told my father. “Calm down. It’s not the first time I do it,” he said... It is now that I am sure of a state that has no law looks like Iraq. The only law is your gun. If you shoot, I will shoot too."Shaggy has an original way to determine progress. He hears a rumor and says "If what he told me turns out to be true and indeed becomes reality, I'd be mad. Sheer madness. It'll be the end of it all. The whole country would turn upside down. New powers would be created. The flood gates would finally break. And a new vector of chaos will churn the already violent world Iraq has become." And what is the rumor? "there's talk about alcohol being banned."
But I will end this on a positive note. Sanyora's school was bombed last week but everything is back to normal and she is worrying about exams again. As for security:
"We always hear explotions, when we are in the school, in the house, and every where . It's going to be alarm clock to wake us up in the morning.... But life have to go on despite all of that...The pundits perspectives
I do believe that the situation won't go on in this way for a long time, there should be end for all that..
Hope it will be a nice end ! :-)"
The big news of the week was the attack inside (or outside) of Husainiya Al-Mustafa, a Shia mosque, by American troops (or Iraqi forces supported by Americans) where 20 (or 37) worshippers (or militia men or terrorists) were killed. As you may guess the reports were contradictory to say the least. What is sure is the controversy it created.
Zeyad was on the phone to a friend when the raid happened:
"he described it as a battlefield. Apache helicopters and jet fighters are still circling the area. Al-Iraqiya TV just aired some images from the husseiniya. 17 'guards' were killed. One of the corpses carried a Da'wa party (Iraq organisation) ID, and another carried an ID issued by the Islamic Conference of Iraqi Tribes."Omar points out the contradictions in the reports, but wonders why, above all the other killing reported that day, should this event receive special notice. He concludes that "members of Mehdi army were inside the building" and says "the Sadrists are trying to make a 'national crisis' out of this case, obviously to make some political gains at the expense of their political opponents."
Hammorabi represents the completely opposite argument. He lays blame squarely on the American Ambassador's shoulders. About the incident he writes:
"The American forces in Baghdad committed a criminal act by a raid on a mosque (Al-Mostafa Hussiayniyah) in Ur district in Baghdad. These forces invaded the mosque during the Sunset prayer. The worshipers were armless doing their prayers... Instead of becoming a symbol for the democracy and freedom Iraq became a republic of death and terrorism. Over all the occupied forces are now killing the Iraqi worshipers with cold blood."Another opposite view (if three opposites is possible) comes from Al-Baghdadi. In a letter to Fayrouz he wrote that his friend went to the same mosque that was attacked to look for Al-Baghdadi's brother:
"they said, "Yes, we got him and his SUV car too." In fact its not a Husainiya. It'’s kind of jail and torture center.Asterism (thats me) points out the coincidence of the attack and the response to the planned negotiations between America and Iran about Iraq. He suggests that "each side is playing for the upper hand."
"Yesterday, he called me saying that Almighty had revenged from the killers of S. and many other innocents. The U.S. Army had invaded and killed about 20 in that Husainiya and all Iraqis who had lost family members there [Means killed at that place by the militia] are celebrating this and saying in [SMS] messages that God had revenged to their loss."
On other subjects...
Both Hammorabi and Truth About Iraqis speculate if the release of the Christian Peace Team hostages was really liberated or a ransom was paid.
Christian Iraq (a blog I follow but rarely report on because it mostly copies articles from the mainstream media) this week posted an opinion. Fred Aprim discusses the threats against Christians in Iraqs - from Church bombings to targeting of Christian business owners and students. He suggests the following solution:
"The concept of self-administrative region for the Assyrians... the establishment of a new governorate to the Iraqi existing 18 governorates. This new governorate is to include the historic Assyrian towns and villages in Nineveh Plains where Assyrians could self-administer and protect themselves."He also goes on to suggest that the Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani should stand trial for crimes against Assyrians in the past.
In Other worlds
Chikitita needs to get a new ID document from the Iraqi Ministry of Interior. She decides to avoid the standard route of bribing "the little fish in the department who can finish your papers in no time for a few bucks" and instead do it herself. What transpires reads more like an episode of Tomb Raider than the queue at the Post Office that British people would endure.
Meemo does not want to consider the bad things in life: "cause if I’m gonna talk about the bad stuff that will take like 69 years to finish it", so instead he blogs about his graduation party. "it was awesome party its just drag you back to life, I learnt how to dance CHOUBEE, hell yeah its so damn awesome, and I learnt how to dance Kurdish dabka, its cool too, u know 3 hours make feel that you wanna live forever" he says.
And Finally Caeser of Pentra shows his warm, caring side. On his birthday he takes a bus home:
"when I noticed a mongol girl was trying to woo me, she was waving her small hand and winking at me trying to draw my attention to her. I couldn’t answer but a pale smile and then she gave me a kiss in air, and soon I was embaressed about that and felt sorry about her in same time... but I was shocked when I heard the woman sitting beside that poor girl talking to me….. “Hahaha, she is my daughter! It seems that she likes you!”…… “er,… yea!….. oh,… hehe… er, ok…. Hello!” I was stuttering and my face was blushing and the girl quickly hid her face behind her mother left shoulder and started giggling, the whole scene diverted to be ridiculous but the woman thanked me for doing this and she said that I made her happy...
And again I was buzzed by the same middle aged man,
Man: “ What a pity! Mind is a grace!".
Me : " But she is not crazy!"
Man : " I know she is mongol!" he said it with disgust and added : "she may not live so long, i heard they live shortly!"
Me (whispers) : "and what the f**k you wanna get?! Mind your own bussiness, sucker!"
In the end, I got home safe in one piece and thanks God!
And that was my birthday!"