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Friday, May 26, 2006

Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

And for your reading and commenting pleasure is my latest Global Voices column..

There is a new government and this historic event has raised more than a ripple in the Iraqi blogs, but, actually, not much more than that. And in this week snapshot of life in Iraq blogs I will show what has been diverting bloggers attention. From high jinks to the the absolute pits of despair, its all here.

If you read no other post this week read this

Meemo, the Baghdad beat blogger is back with a vengeance and his latest post is a stream of conscience which swings wildly..

from the heavy subject of death threats from 'holy worriers'(sic):
like over addorra there's only one rule which is follow the holy mother f***er worriers rules or you will get killed, you know cut your head, it’s awesome way to die, meet someone up there in hell or heaven, is that a way to make people religious, lead them to the GOD path, to the heavens door, to the prophet restaurant up in heaven, I guess that’s how they gonna push people out of the religion

to politics:
I guess [the "new leaders"] forgot something which is the united states invaded Iraq for freedom and democracy but right now I can't see any of these 2 things, I just can see death and more red lines we should not cross, you know about 75% of Iraqis saying what's going on now is all because of the Americans and British troops, I'm kind of agree with that 'cause they let bunch of stupid suckers to control Iraq

to the complexities of having long hair:
I really don’t know how girls can live with their hair, it’s a full time job, you know I use 2 different kinds of shampoos, hair conditioner, and something called Cosmal cure to make the hair I don't know what, that’s when I wash it, but when I want to go out it takes me about 30 minutes to make my hair looks like humans hair, use hair gel and wax, and after all this shit I wear a hat, if I don’t use anything for ma hair and don’t comb it ma head will be like a big black ball, believe me it’s the most horrible hair you will see in your life, the good thing is I use ma sister hair stuff

And if you need some advice... "I should give you the weekly advice but I didn’t find any advice for today, I think you can live for the whole week without my advice so I gutta go"

What you will not be seeing on TV

Baghdad is falling to insurgents and militias one neighborhood at a time yet little is being said in the media. It is these groups who are dictating the law on the streets. The punishment for disobeying is being beaten or worse.

It started last week when bloggers reported leaflets being thrown in the streets ordering people on how to behave in public. Now this has spread across several districts. Meemo, gives a full report. In Mansour it is a simple sign saying "my dear sister cover your hair 'cause that will protect you from the monsters" but as he says it varies by what force operates in each district:
"[In the districts of] al-ghzalya, al-3amrya, and 7ay al-jame3a, there are some new rules ... the rules are:
Women should not drive cars.
It's not allowed for girls to wear any kind of pants (jeans, baggy, short) and the penalty for the one who wear any kind of pants will be breaking her legs.
its not allowed for girls to walk in the street with uncovered hair or the penalty for the one who don’t wear scarf over hair will be cut her hair (bald head)".

Ishtar compares the present day to the lawless times just after the end of the war in 2003. "Now, after three years, and with all this pompous talk we hear by the Iraqi government and US administration about the increasing number of the Iraqi security forces... I found myself doing the same stories." She explains: "if you tour Baghdad’s neighborhoods, you will find 90% of them are blocked by trees trunks, barrels and big stones and men are guarding them with their private guns ... I found myself doing the same story about women who are threatened and killed just because they do not wear hijab or they drive cars."

She also reports who is behind some of these killings. Gunmen driving in a car shot eight kids for wearing short pants.. "By chance a patrol for keeping order forces were passing by and saw the massacre and chased the cars, one of the “Opel” car was captured and for the surprise of the forces, when they took off their kufyias, they found that they were all between 14-16 year."

Nibras Kazimi gives happy talking American officials a reality check: "Central Baghdad’s Dawoodi neighborhood is now part of an Islamist “regime” that issues fatwas banning salads, fatwas that frightened people are following to the letter. See, apparently cucumbers are males while tomatoes are females, and mixing them up leads to the Devil. Dawoodi is the doorstep to Mansour, and Mansour is the doorstep to Harithiya, which in turn is the doorstep to the Green Zone."

Oh, and by the way, there is a new government

It took them time and one blogger had almost given up hope, but the comments eventually came rolling in about the new Iraqi government.

Ishtar is encouraged by Maliki's emphsis on national reconciliation but "Mr.Malki killed it in its bed when he insisted on keeping former minister of Interior ”Jabbur Solagh” in the new government". She also says that Sunnis are already speaking of this as his fatal mistake.

Eye Raki gives a run-down of the cabinet and points to the fact that "there are of course some very pointless and stupid ministries that were set up for the sole purpose of satisfying a group or party that will have complained of being left out". And Iraq the Model gives an extensive review and ends by saying: "Yes, it does not meet our ambitions but also our ambitions have no limits." But later Mohammed sees some positive signs:
"apparently the competition among politicians to prove competence and win trust in addition to the lessons learned from the previous stage is pushing the new leaders to pick a new course with less emotional speech-making and more pragmatic thinking. Officials now realize that they did not inherit their seats from their fathers and that there are other people waiting for them to make the slightest mistake to expose them and discredit them."

The Iraqi oil minster will have his work cut out. Zappy used Google Earth to measure three petrol queues:
Mustansiriyah length of queue approx 3,480 Meters / 3m (approx. length of car) = 1160 cars
Al Sadoon queue length approx 1140 meters /3m (approx. length of car) = 380 cars
And the Oscar goes to Al Khilani Pump Station, Queue length is 5230 meters /3m (approx. length of car) = 1743 cars!!!
Obviously we have a fuel shortage
And he warns, "If you have stopped the black market, then you’ll find that you just made your first mistake."

Nibras Kazimi makes a good point "Anyone casting doubts on Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s efforts to run Iraq will be labeled as “embittered”, “unfair” or “hasty”; for the man rightly deserves a grace period." He then goes on to promptly pour doubt upon doubt. Well, who says bloggers are not embittered, hasty and unfair!

For my part? if I have nothing positive say then I am not going to say it.

The depths of despair

There is no lament sad enough to describe the following set of posts. If, like me, you hate to read depressing material scroll down to the next section.

You know things are bad when Iraq the Model starts talking of the hardship faced by Iraqis and the dilemma of whether to stay or leave Iraq:
The other day I was with some friends at home and the subject eventually surfaced "let's just wait for another six months, I'm sure things will improve by then" one friend said and I nodded in agreement "I'm not willing to take the risk, what if I get killed or kidnapped tomorrow or next month!? I'm leaving Iraq to live somewhere else until I believe it's safe to return, we live only once guys!" and I nodded in agreement too.
Both opinions make a lot of sense and I could never say the first friend was a coward since he's still living through what I and the other friend are living through.
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and so do many people but they wonder if the tunnel is going to collapse before we reach its end.

Chikitita is one of those leaving Iraq and she grieves for the memories she has lost. "Now all that's left for me is the polluted air which cannot be captured in snapshots or saved in jars. And even that I know I should leave behind, for my life must start across the borders, where I'll have to go with the flow and pretend that I won't miss what's within these dotted lines I've always called home." she writes.

Iraq sweet Iraq describes a tragedy of murder and kidnappings that befell his neighborhood: "when it gets too sad, even if it is true with no fiction involved , it gets ..what is the word .. ridiculous ? no I wouldn’t say that, it gets unbelievable, you can not believe that things like that can actually happen in real life, so dark and miserable; just like an Indian film, too many tears to be true. What happened a few weeks ago was something like that..." read on if you dare.

Baghdad Treasure lost a beloved neighbor in a recent explosion. He writes:
"It was so hard to see her dead. She was a kind woman. I just saw her few days ago when I was with her son. My heart is full of sorrow and pain. ...

I can’t even think of any hope at the meantime. It is only despair that hovers over us. It seems it is going to stick with us. I don’t know why we have to live like this. Why do I have to wake up everyday on sounds of explosions and shootings? Why do I have to be afraid all the time, why do I have to sleep and wake up with a tear in my eyes? why why why? I don’t want democracy and freedom. I want to live. I just want to live. These two damn words brought only destructions. They never brought hope. It is only death and death and death."

And finally

ChildrenVoiceIraq describes a game Iraqi children play when the rains come late.
it starts with one kid (his age 12-14 has to be boy) he is going to be leader for group; the leader prepares every thing necessary for them, leader bring bags and makes flag and pots...
When every thing is prepared leader starts to go out and yell slogans (slogans; ask God and pleasing God to send rain) every kid in neighborhood joins with him to make group and they walk yelling after the leader (kids age 6-14 boys and girls), kids stop in front of each house to collect rice, vegetable oil, Burghul (Burghul is food made of wheat) salt, bread and everything helps them to cook...
When the kids collect enough stuff to make enough food for kids they walk directly to the nearest graveyard to cook and pray for God to send rain, after everything is cooked the leader puts it in small dishes and hands out for kids around him then kids dump the remained on graves to be food for homeless dogs and birds (kids believe after dogs and birds eat this food will pray to send rain).
Finally after they are done kids come back home waiting rain in home when it rains during or after their operation kids became very happy and dance.

And Nibras is up to some high jinks outing a prominent Iraqi politician for being corrupt, a CIA asset and cheating the CIA of the $100,000 it gave him to bribe other Iraqis. But he is not naming names but giving us a riddle He is someone who:
"has risen to even more prominence as a member of the newly unfurled Maliki cabinet ... he played a very prominent role in advising current US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad as to how to go about thwarting Ja’afari’s bid for the PM slot and staffing the Maliki government.... Journalists tend to find this politician charming and gregarious and he is often quoted as an authoritative and objective figure on Iraqi affairs. His connections to US intelligence have never been published before."
Any Takers?


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