After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Muqtada al-Bush

Spot the difference.

Habibi the west made things for us that distract us from our integration, uh, what it put for us? Made us run after a ball habibi…that is like eating lolipops habibi.
What does it mean to see a man, big tall and wide and…Muslim, runs after a ball? ...

They left us to waste time of football and other things while they left it…
Ever heard the Israeli team, something be upon it, damn be upon it, reached for example or took the world-cup? Or even America habibi! Except for some other games… They let us waste time on it…singing, football, and and and smoking and stuff and satellites in forbidden things are used and so on; they left us to do forbidden things and they mostly turned to scientific things and thingy things. ...

Running! Run! Sport! Move your legs move your head move stuff, all organs move. Why everyone runs after a ball habibi? These are mentalistic things that can be done, and those are non-mentalistic things that cannot be done….

The game consists of 22 men running up and down a grassy field for 90 minutes with little happening as fans scream wildly. ... Mostly soccer is just guys in shorts running around aimlessly, a metaphor for the meaninglessness of life.

No game in which actually scoring goals is of such little importance could possibly occupy the attention of average Americans. Our country has yet to succumb to the nihilism, existentialism, and anomie that have overtaken Europe. A game about nothing, in which scoring is purely incidental, holds scant interest for Americans who still believe the world makes sense, that life has a larger meaning and structure, that being is not an end in itself, being qua being. ...

Soccer denies its players this most basic human ability. Players cannot catch or throw the ball. But they can hit it with their heads. If one were to set out to invent a game fundamentally at odds with human nature, soccer would be it. Place the head with its big brain in constant danger, and prohibit the use of the hands. Soccer denies to its players the very attributes that make human beings, the thinking toolmaker, human.

The first is from Muqtada al-Sadr (as quoted by Iraq The Model) and the second is from the American conservative magazine The Weekly Standard. Or is it the other way around? Can't tell really both speak out their respective backsides.

Hat Tip: Ladybird

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

We have had enough.

The fearsome nights are stifling us and we now have come to hate the Fall [of Baghdad]; we hate Liberation; we hate Sunnis; we hate Shiites; we hate turbans and sidaras; we hate Jihad and Jihadists, resistance and resistors; we hate concrete; we hate streets and sidewalks; we hate the Ministries; we hate Establishments; we hate news channels and news and communiqués; we hate the Parliament that has now become a venue for swearing-in ceremonies and nothing else; we hate songs; we hate commercials; we hate newspapers; we hate cars and car-depots; we hate conferences; we hate ‘surprise visits’; we hate neighboring countries; we hate the ‘multinational forces; we hate the night; we hate the day; we hate Summer; we hate the sun that sends hell; we hate sleep; we hate water and electricity; we hate petrol and corruption and theft; we hate sectarianism; we hate sectarian ‘allocations’; we hate Reconciliation; we hate the government of national unity; we hate committees and Commissions of Integrity, Trash, Rehabilitation and Silliness; we hate [political] parties and organizations; we hate assemblies, demonstrations, banners and chants; we hate laughter; we hate crying; we hate work; we hate study; we hate each other. And we hate ourselves. But (and this is our problem) we still love something that was called Iraq.

Will you save what is left of this Iraq?

Shalash al-Iraqi, 22 June 2006 (translated by Abu Khaleel)

And on with the blog

Pssst... yes you... over here... shhh! [Salam Adil looks furtively from one side to the other]. Well, I heard H telling S that the people over in B are saying that the theme of the Iraqi blogs this week is... [looks again]... rumors. And in an environment like Iraq where one side of a city does not know what is happening on the other, rumors abound. But there is more. Given the popularity of my last post on politics, I have a new section called 'The Week in Politics'.

If you read no other blog posts this week read these

Don't miss Baghdad's Treasure's trip to Kurdistan:
Beautiful mountains and valleys welcomed us as we arrived in Sulaimaniya. ... In Sulaimaniya city center, life was so urban and nice. ...

After two hours of driving, we reached Erbil checkpoint. No Iraqi flag was seen. It was only the Kurdish one. ... At the checkpoint, a group of Iraqi Arab travelers were gathering around a Peshmerga officer. “I said Arabs are not allowed, unless they know someone living here. That’s it.” I heard him shouting.

And my review would not be complete without mentioning Neurotic Wife, who posts memories of her time in Baghadad. Just read them my little summaries can never do them justice.

The week in Politics:

Google says it all. Last week bloggers spotted that Google's Arabic to English translator converted "شعب يباد" (meaning 'annihilation or genocide of a people') to "Iraqi people".

The woman i was just wants to know why, "Any body could explain? I have mine: it is coming very clear day after another that Iraqis are not allowed more to remain a nation.. They should be eliminated.. WHY? Bush knows the answer because he is leading the campaign! Do not forget the American massacre against Iraqi civilians all over Iraq.." And Asterism (thats me) asks "Is Google Evil?" a pun on their corporate motto.

Death of a Lawyer. Baghdad Connect gives an eyewitness report about supporters of the Jaish al Mahdi celebrating the killing of one of Saddam's defense lawyers and boasting about how they paraded him through the streets of the Baghdad district of Thawra (or Sadr) City before his death. BC speaks for many when he roundly condemns the culture of violence that exists in Iraq.
We have come to see that exercising forces and applying stiff-security plans have become a camouflage for the infiltrator killers in the security forces ... to commit horrific agenda-script crimes. The government and the invaders authorities are simply worthless in this hellish situation. The whole political apparatus ... is based on agenda-script crimes. And there is No Way Out.

How criminals could get passed check-points and take hostages to their ‘work sites’? How corpses could be dumped in fortified areas? How people could be killed even in the GZ? How can people leisurely streets-celebrate a murder without being apprehended? As one Iraqi writer rightfully coined today’s Iraq a killing culture.

And BC is especially bitter about the killing of a lawyer:
The killing of a lawyer or a prosecutor in Iraq is a killing of prophet, ... is a killing of a neighbor, and is a killing of a father or a mother. And unlike in other countries, our lawyers generally earn nothing but our venerate respects....

when lawyers take a solemn oath at graduation to defend people as a sacred mission then you bet they will, and even if it’d cost them their lives. And they will defend not only Saddam but even those Lords of the Flies in hell ... and the Marines of Haditha.

Reclaiming Iraq. There is a complete Iraqi government and now the Prime Minister, Nouri Al-Maliki, has started to assert his authority. First in Basra where he threatened to stamp out any resistance with an "iron fist" and then in Baghdad with a large security operation dubbed 'Forward Together'. Blogger are reporting how things are going.

In Basrah Fayrouz gets an email from her friend Queen Amidala. She writes: "The situation in Basra isn't getting any better. On the contrary, it's getting worse... there is a rumor on the streets that the Shia militias want all Sunnis out of Basra by the end of July. Why? Because the Shia wants federalism for the southern provinces and Sunnis might interfere or reject the idea. ... We have no electricity and it's getting worse. Also, the fuel situation is very bad. The lines of cars waiting for fuel is getting longer and longer.

In Baghdad, Omar is more optimistic:
the operation so far has met some relative success according to an official statement from the ministry of defense. ... But the operation has also faced some serious security breaches like the suicide bombing in the Buratha mosque or the latest mass abduction of laborers just outside of Baghdad.

And even when he reports that the operation was going badly, Mohammed, Omar's co-blogger, still sees silver linings: "Yesterday the Iraqi minister of national security admitted that insurgents are a step ahead of the government when it comes to intelligence. As bleak as this confession may sound I think it's admirable of the government to admit such a fact because the first step in solving a problem is through recognizing it and never through denying it or speaking big empty words."

Chikitita sat in a minibus full of people who would beg to differ:
Following a detailed news bulletin of the past 24 hours, they collectively nodded their heads in agreement when the man who ran the conversation dubbed the security plan and the government and the country and the people and men of religion as "Complete Failure".
She also gives day-by-day reports of "Forward Together", well worth reading.

And Abu Khaleel translates an article by the famous Iraqi commenter, Shalash al Iraqi who is also less than optimistic:
As I and others expected, the ‘security plan’ became a cover for murderers and night gangs that have allied themselves with infiltrators into security forces to kill people and dump them in garbage piles. Otherwise how would those in charge of the plan explain how those killings, assassinations, kidnappings and abductions take place with such a massive deployment of armed forces and the nightly curfew? How do those criminals move and do their deeds and how do they spread death in the streets in such cold blood? ... The bitter truth brothers, and I say this for the thousandth time, is that certain gangs have infiltrated the Sadrist Movement with the knowledge of some of the Movement’s leaders.

But Raed, of all people, is feeling good about the future, after helping the Iraqi national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubbaie, publish his article in the Washington Post, he is "looking forward to the Iraqi reconciliation project that will be announced by Al-Maliki soon."

There are Rumors and then there are Rumors

Many journalists have a hard time wondering whether to report a rumor from a blog or not. But sometimes it is not the rumor itself that is interesting but what the blogger writes about it. Omar explains the fascination with rumors: "All societies have their own flow of rumors but in places like Iraq, we just LOVE rumors." And here is what he has to say about his rumor of arguments in the ruling coalition:
Apparently this rumor was created and spread by some of al-Maliki's supporters who wanted to paint a better image of their boss but even if it was entirely made up it will still indicate an inclination in the PM's close circle to do what's needed to prove that the new head of government is competent and does not allow his sectarian emotions to stop him from doing his job.
Anyway, this rumor left a positive impression among the people who heard it, at least that's what I could sense from the enthusiastic tone of my friend.

Baghdad Connect posted one day a shocking letter about a secret army called the FIF, naming the people behind it and the crimes it had done. The next day he posts the truth:
The fact of the matter is that the person who wrote this letter is not part of the FIF ... And the attributed crimes mentioned in his letter for all we know are plane false. Letters as such are being written and circulated by bogus communists and/or baathists who were once financed by Saddam Hussein. They write under different names to the general public to implicate those who are under scorned. Also, they use the general public as a proxy for their goals. ... This is another example of today’s Iraq; Iraq of chaos, confusion, misinformation, crime implication, occupation and disarray.

Sami had a juicy rumor about Zarqawi from a brother of a minister no less. He is not impressed though: "Now please one thing people should know is that Iraqis love exaggerating and lying about many things espically in the field of story telling so I wouldn't be surprised if this was not true ... My opinion? Some truth but mostly hollywood."

And finally:

Hala_s is waxing philosophically about the disconnection between Iraqis and other Arabs:
Arabs who hail Al Zarqawi don’t hate Iraqis, they hate their own failures and they are expressing their own frustrations. They are trying to give excuses to themselves; sometimes they are fighting the super power and sometimes by fighting the Shia Muslims (I bet they don’t know anything about them) and so on.

When I am angry I loathe the Arab countries for their weakness and stupidity and cruelty; Where are they from our pain, Why don’t they recognise our daily tragedies.
But when I am calm, I try to forgive and understand and meanwhile I dream on.

Tonight I am imagining with John Lennon so imagine

Let us all Imagine with John Lennon!

Friday, June 23, 2006

General Casey has his whiney moment

The last time I dared to criticize the US Army's role in Iraq I was accused of whining in the comments section by resident wingnut, Mr. K:
Salam, It is you who misses my point, which is, stop whining and go back to Iraq and do something about it. But no, instead, you prefer apparently to enjoy the freedoms of the western world, which no doubt includes a lucrative job.

Now General Casey, commander of all multi-national forces in Iraq is having his whining moment.

From the BBC:
The US military commander in Iraq has accused Iran of providing covert support to Shia extremists in Iraq.

Iran equips and trains Shia militia groups, Gen George Casey said, adding that its influence had risen recently. ...

"Since January we have seen an upsurge in their support, particularly to the Shia extremist groups," Gen Casey said.

"They are using surrogates to conduct terrorist operations both against us and against the Iraqi people.

"We are quite confident that the Iranians, through the special operations forces, are providing weapons, IED [improvised explosive device] technology and training to Shia extremist groups in Iraq," he said.

Training was probably carried out in Iran and possibly in Lebanon, Gen Casey said.

But where is the American army and what the hell is their mission in all this? Casey has them tied up playing war games in a far-off city that has little strategic value. While the same militias that Gen. Casey criticized are making a mockery of the legal and political system in Iraq. Baghdad Connect reported this week, that the Mehdi militia kidnapped a lawyer, paraded him through the streets of Sadr City and publicly celebrated his murder. And in Basra, the Prime Minister's claim to come down like an 'Iron Fist' on militias has had no effect.

Where these militias get their arms and training is not the point. They are there, they are free to do what they like and the American military and Iraqi government seems incapable of stopping them.

So, General Casey why don't you do exactly what Mr. K recommends, "stop whining and go back to Iraq and do something about it." The honest answer may be hard to swallow. You would have to disband the government to remove supporters of these extremists and America has reached its limit in Iraq. Its army is simply incapable of fighting both the insurgents and the militias.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Is Google Evil?

Take a look at the above screenshot. This is Google's translation service. And if you look carefully the phrase <<شعب يباد>> meaning 'anihilation of a people' or 'genocide of a people' is translated to "Iraqi People". Specifically, the word 'anihilation' is translated to 'Iraqi'.

So, what's the deal Google? Do you have racists working for you or will you blame the software?


It seems the evil ones listened and have now modified their translation. But I will not let them of the hook until I get an apology or explaination.
Hat tip: Iraqi Tear

Friday, June 16, 2006

Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

For your reading and commenting pleasure is my weekly Global Voices Online column...

Today I will concentrate on politics. And before you switch off, let me point out that when it comes to politics, Iraqi bloggers will both surprise and entertain and certainly not bore. So on with the show.

If you read no other post this week read these

Morbid Smile posts the heartrending story of how ignorance and alcohol brought tragedy to a nearby family.
The father, A. who was the driver who used to drive me and my sister to college everyday for the last year, made a terrible mistake ... He was a drunkard man and we doubted if he had any education. He's got the most adorable the cutest two little daughters, his wife was very nice and lovely woman but he didn't know how to keep that treasure for good! ...
And with the drink came violence against his wife and despite the best efforts of his neighbors the family split up. The story does not end there. One day, drunk and angry that he could not see his daughters, he went to his wife's parent's house with a rifle and killed his wife and her mother. And when he escaped, driving at high speed, he was shot and badly wounded at a police checkpoint that mistook him for a suicide bomber. Morbido writes:
Since we heard the news, Mom and I were thinking of his daughters all the time. Did they saw their father killing their Mom and Grandmother? Are they ever going to love him or forgive him one day? I feel very sad for the devastated family, and I feel even worse just to think of what is going to happen to the girl, who is going to take care of them. He could be a good man with a kind heart, but ignorance took a big deal of him that left him blinded with anger and irrationalism. If he wasn't an ignorant man he would have realized that alcohol was destroying his family and destroying the human being within him. He could have done something to restore the peace inside his house to raise a wonderful family in a healthy environment, but he didn't know the gift he was given and he wasted it all that, and wasted his life.
When I was still at school I would always avoid the adults when my family went out visiting friends and play with their younger children instead. Riot Starter reminds me why. She writes, "When a teenager like myself pays a visit to the Adult world, the result is a very similar to that of having visited Wonderland." And she posts several stories of the blatant hypocrisy of the adult world around her:
A Saudi who by no means was allowed by his government to buy alcohol, and is well known to give his credit card to anybody going to a winery...

An Iranian ... when it's women who he knew forehand were already married, he would greet them refusing to shake hands. However, he shook hands with every other woman/girl who wasn't wearing a ring or whose ring he couldn't notice while staring "elsewhere". So much for being religious. ...

A Moroccan whose wife was Japanese, and who's apparently way too desperate to dump being Moroccan to being a Jap...

A Palestinian who came "cheering" us about Zarqawi's death, talking about how Americans, Israelis and all of these people are pigs ... She then ran to the nearest American she could find in the crowd, and after a warm greeting she was busy...
In fact the sanest person she met was an Egyptian who lived most of his life outside of the Arab World. "He's actually more aware than all the people I've mentioned above, myself included of course, combined!!!"

Beating around the Bush in Baghdad

While there has been much comment on George Bush visiting Baghdad recently, Iraqi bloggers have given us a unique perspective.

Fayrouz wondered: "The media said Iraqi prime minister Al-Maliki was given five-minutes notice before meeting the president. The first thought in my mind when I saw him shake hands with President Bush was, 'What if he was at the toilet at the time? Did he have the time to wash his hands before he ran to meet the President?'." But Joking aside she has a serious point to make:
I realized he had to meet the President at the American embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone. Does this mean the Americans think the Iraqi government can't provide security for the American President at Al-Maliki's office? I thought this is somewhat of an insult. No wait, THIS IS AN INSULT when Iraq is considered an independent country.
Mohammed of Iraq the Model has an opposite opinion. From the people around him and the newspapers he reads: "the visit definitely left a positive impression that America is dead serious this time about finding solutions for Iraq especially when it comes to security and critical parts of reconstruction like electricity."

Finally Baghdad Connect mimics stereotypical American red-necks and announces:
Yo Jose, we don’t want illegal aliens sneaking through our borders and take our jobs away! Haven’t you heard of visas?
More Views on Zarqawi

The news of the death of Zarqawi continues to reverberate around the world and Iraqi blogger are an important part of the analysis. I have already written much about Iraqi blogger reactions. However, these cannot pass without mention.

Baghdad Connect takes issue with the triumphalist tone of the Iraqi Prime Minster's announcement of the death of Zarqawi and for timing this with the completion of the cabinet thus "morphing the celebration of civilities as a symbolic alternative to criminality and not as a transcendence to our great civilization." Which brings bad memories of the behavior of Saddam's regime. Further, he writes to the PM:
Perhaps Al-Zarqawi’s effigy could pass as a joke in other countries, but in ours it's a daily fear because our nation, just in case you forgot, lives out side the Green Zone!

Two days ago streets fliers were thrown in Al-yarmok district ... to warn the residents that 250 children will be abducted and slaughtered to avenge Al-Zarqawi death. This is what happens when you immortalize vile deeds by brining them under a memorable spotlight.
Bloggers are also reporting about the chasm that has now appeared between Iraqi opinion and the opinion of Arabs in the neighboring countries. Zeyad is in Jordan now, on his way to America. He writes:
Amman is ... an ever expanding bustling city that gives the false impression of ... a progressive, enlightened society. Yet, every Jordanian I spoke to thinks that Zarqawi is a martyr. One taxi driver frankly told me that one should not rejoice over Zarqawi's death, for one simple reason: Americans and Iraqis are happy about it. That about sums it up.
Iraq the Model is more blunt:
It is totally unimaginable why someone would describe the head chopping, children murdering terrorist as a hero. It's disgusting and infuriating beyond words.

This wrongful description of evil is a major reason for misery in this region and it only contributes to justifying more unjustifiable death and violence. This makes one sometimes wishes that Iraq is somehow lifted away from these perverted sociopaths who surround us.
In other news

Iraq the Model discusses the reaction to "the launch of the new massive security operation 'Forward Together'." in Baghdad. He says that there is a mix of anxiety and hope but there are few people escaping the dangerous districts to safer parts of Baghdad because "in Baghdad you can't find the same feeling you would find in Ramadi, that is the fear that the operation will include collective punishment and this is because Baghdadis are used to living standards of a big city ... they have suffered enough from militants of all types and want their city life back."

But the Iraqi government is not getting such an easy time from other bloggers. Sami who was stirred from a looong blogging slumber by the death of Zarqawi writes: "The parties fought over the silly ministries where as the education and higher education both went to extremely relgious men. u see why i am not that optimistic for now?????" and Faiza is pessimistic after the Iraqi government failed to secure the city of Basra despite the pronouncements of the Prime Minister when he "went to Basra, and issued fiery statements; he said– we shall hit with an iron fist all the powers that are tampering with the security of Basra." She wonders:
The cities of Baghdad, Diyala, Basra, Karkook, and other cities are witnessing acts of violence, sectarian or ethnic dislodgment ... and the occupation forces do not interfere to stop any of this daily bloodshed, but they do beat the drums that they are going to bring in extra forces from Kuwait, to besiege Ramadi and cleanse it from the resistance, or the insurgents, as they call them. Why? Which is the priority? Stopping the daily Iraqi bleeding, or eliminating the resistance against the occupation? ... As for the Iraqi bleeding, who cares about it?
And Finally....

Neurotic Wife has left Baghdad but is finding it very hard to let go: "Letting go...Letting go aint easy, not for me that is...Letting go of people, letting go of emotions, letting go of stuff...Never was easy, and I dont think it ever will be...There are certain memories that I cant seem to forget". And she calls her memories of Baghdad Pandora's Box because when friends ask her about Iraq:
Memories that I buried deep inside and was surprised they surfaced back ... I remembered H...H was a guy who worked closely with HUBBY...He was kidnapped a month after I got to Baghdad, and till now he wasnt found, nothing...not a corpse...and not alive...He has 5 kids...And i also remembered the last conversation I had with him, a day before he disappeared... He said "you know, life is too short, you should enjoy it while you can...Forget negativity, forget pessimism" He continued "I believe in God, and I believe that if he chooses to take my life now, then Im comfortable..." ...Just telling the story to my friend brought tears to my eyes...I remembered something I have buried deep down, I remembered a memory that at the time caused me to have a nervous breakdown...It was July of last year...Wow, and he's gone ...

...After H's story I went to another and another and another...It was like Pandora's box...All sad, depressing stuff, that probably made my friend feel uncomfortable.
Who says I always have to end on a positive note?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

Phew, what a week in Iraq blogs. The assassination of Zarqawi caused a flood of blog posts and this on top of another flood of quality thoughts from the Iraqi bloggers. Here is the cream of the crop. And read on to find out why one blogger wants to send the Iraqi parliament on space tourism.

If you read only one post this week read this:

Salam Pax takes a tour around Baghdad making a video blog for Newsnight but is finding it very hard to get anyone to agree to be interviewed. "And I know why everybody is so reluctant to talk. Because we don’t know what is the next thing that will get us killed." he says. Out of desperation he takes the advice of a friend and goes to the Baghdad district of Kadhimiya. Which is not without its risk because this is a strongly Shia area and Salam has a very Sunni sounding surname on his ID card. But fortunately he has an NUJ card that doesn't. An once inside he gets the surprise of his life:
I saw the future of Iraq, or at least Baghdad. Inside the barricade and past the checkpoint was a piece of the old Baghdad. Shops full of people, all relaxed and smiling. Everybody wants to talk and tell me how their lives are and I even got invited to have tea and accepted the invitation without thinking that this man saw my camera and he is just delaying me until the kidnappers arrive.

You know what was different? Kadhimiya is set up these days like a fortress. Entrances are tightly controlled, no unknown cars get in and they basically had their own secret police there...

So people I give you the future of Baghdad. Districts will become tightly controlled fortresses that are ethnically/religiously homogeneous. ...

Having trouble getting into a Shia district doesn’t mean that I am OK in Sunni areas. Sunni areas are even tougher. To start with they have their own set of fashion rules. There is a whole What Not To Wear spin-off for the west of Baghdad and the prize isn’t just a special wardrobe but you get to stay alive.

Fisk gets Fisked

This must be a first. Imad Khadduri out-fisked Robert Fisk. At a lecture in Toronto, Robert Fisk gave Imad the impression that "Robert Fisk, armed with his extensive in-depth and in-touch experiences that expand over several decades, was the only 'true' journalist having the courage to expose the underbelly of the injustices incurred in the Middle East". So afterwards Imad
"pointed out [to Fisk] the emergence of truly dedicated young Iraqi journalists, many of whom have been actively, courageously and consistently working with, for example, Islam Memo site ... Why would Fisk not give them due reference and respect for their stand, professionalism and dangerous journalistic mission?

Fisk lamely admitted their value and mentioned that he had the opportunity to train some of them himself during one of his visits to Baghdad. He also promised that he will mention them in his coming lectures and interviews...

He never did ."

Altered States

Maybe it is the heat or maybe it is something in the water, but silly season has started in some of the Iraqi blogs.

Konfused Kid has excused his recent absence because he died and went to heaven. His parting words were "Don't... forget... to....switch.... off... the... god... damn... mother... f**k... ing... fridge.... off.... when the local.... generator..... runs...". But heaven is not as he expected:
The Angels ... are dressed in white all right, and radiant as if they both swallowed Uranium by the handful, but there was something wicked, ... considering that our vision of the afterlife is largely connected to the Prophet's 7th Century sayings, it was expected that one of the angels wouild be showing up wearing Na3aal abu-al-Esba3 [Jesus sandals], the other, however, was wearing Rebokee trainers.

Rebokee was munching something and kept to the back, Na3aal said : Sunni or Shiite?

Chikitita is succumbing to superstitions about her brother's release from prison:
I too sometimes believe in crazy stuff, when I’m not at my best spiritual mode. For instance, I sometimes keep humming with Fu’ad Salim’s song my brother likes so much, so I tell Mom, “I think [my brother] is soon to be released” ...

“Yeah Right”, she would say, “and how did you know!”, she says questionably.
“Can’t you see, I’m singing Madhi Fi’lak”. I tell her in a matter-of-fact way.
“That’s so silly”, she mocks.
“Maybe, but I still think it’s a sign”, I tell her.

Morbid Smile has been watching too much TV:
I wish if Tru Calling was real and existed in Iraq; she would have saved the lives of thousands of people who die everyday. ...
I wish if the invisibility cloak was real; I could have moved freely in places without the fear of car bombs and explosions. ...
I wish if wishes would come true; the world would be a better place.
I wish if I know what the hell I'm talking about!!! ...

It's obvious that I'm hallucinating here. It's either Summer started to show its effects on me, or it's really the end of the world!!

Even hardened political blogs take part in the season. Baghdad Connect reports that the Iraqi parliament has voted for themselves 6610 foreign guards.
"Bearing in mind the personal guard in today’s Iraq earns USD 600/day... we find out that the cost of those guards is USD 1,447,590,000.00 per year!

BC believes that if the security situation remains as such for the next 3 years then it would be enough for each of the 275 members of the parliament to enjoy the luxurious Space Tourism with the ex-soviet Russian Space Agency."

The world in Politics

THis cannot be good news: hot on the heels of Michael Portillo calling the war a mistake. Iraqi LGBT is claiming that life in Iraq was better for gays under Saddam.

Hammorabi is blaming everybody for the troubles of Iraq. "The problem is so complex that no one may bear the whole responsibility for what is going on. Every one involved in the Iraqi affairs is responsible. On the top of this are the Iraqi government and parties and the multi-national forces. ... The other party is the Arab terrorists supported from the Syrian regime and the wealthy Gulf men and companies as well as the Arab media starting from the barking dogs of Aljazeera and other Arab media." And he ends with an ominous warning:
The thugs will soon kneel to the new superpower of the Gulf region and they will then regret what they have done in Iraq but it will be too late.

And in the background violence, brutality, murder and abductions continues unabated.

Riverbend says it all: "Where does one go to avoid the death and destruction? Are the Americans happy with this progress? ... Emily Dickinson wrote, “hope is a thing with feathers”. If what she wrote is true, then hope has flown far- very far- from Iraq…"

And finally

My honorary Iraqi for the week - and most Iraqis will probably be horrified by the suggestion - is The Baghdad Alcohol Sponge. A young Iraqi breaks all the rules to disturb TBAS from going to sleep to announce: "gesturing in the knife-across-the-throat method while repeating 'Zarquai..fee-nish'd...Zarquai fee-nish'd'."

TBAS was humbled:
It wasn't the fact that Zarquai was was that this kid had come by my trailer and beat on my door in what he knew was supposed to be 'off-limits'----so proud to deliver the news of Zarquai's death that he wanted to wake me up.

It renews my faith in them like I havent fealt in over a year. It's a humbling moment for me. may have a prosperous future yet...and I owe an apology. Your youth have proven me wrong this morning. And thats a good thing.

I think I'll stay awake a little longer this morning.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Zarqawi: More Blogger Reactions

The blogs keep analysing...

Baghdad Treasure was at a press conference near the Iraqi parliament when the news broke. And he was happy. "We held our breath for a second and then a loud “Mabrook” [Congratulations] was said by one of the radio stations reporters. Few minutes later, journalists started congratulating each other."

He pictures those killed in terrorist attacks and says:

"Although everybody knows that I am against the U.S. occupation to Iraq, I believe what they did in helping the Iraqis kill Zarqawi was a good real step for a better Iraq after three years of destruction and struggle. It’s only now that I feel the US forces are really serious and want to get rid of the terrorists who came as a reaction to their occupation to the country in a way or another. It’s only now I felt that they really want to accomplish their mission and go back home soon. I really hope that what I am feeling is right."

Baghdad Dweller is with a TV crew on the streets of Beirut interviewing people for reactions to the killing of Zarqawi. But they were under the strict instructions only to gather pro-occupation opinions (go figure!). Of the 30 people they talked only 3 were 'suitable'. The rest were like this:
“They are the Americans who create Zarqawi, and now they don’t need this myth anymore”.

“As long as the occupation exists then there will be many other Zarqawis”.

Best opinion I heard today was:

“The Americans announce the death of Zarqawi because they wanted to show support for Iraq’s new government, but Zarqawism is not dead they left the option open to use another name or names“.

And the emotions keep rolling in:

Hala_s is happy. She was going to post a depressing tale of her mother being forced, for the first time, to go out of her house in Baghdad wearing a headscarf, but that was yesterday: "Today I feel I cannot finish it….Why ? Because I am happy, very happy indeed. You all know why. Zarqawi is finished." she writes. "Things might not improve or change instantly, but this will definitely have a positive effect on Iraqis. It will bring back a long lost confidence; not in the government but in themselves and the future. The tables are turning at last."

and Neurotic Wife is bitter.
"there is this little time to be happy, slightly happy that the death of Zarqawi may be a good start...A Good start for the new Iraq...

And to those who are mourning now the death of their Hero, I can only say...Shame on you...Your Hero has now joined Satan and his clan in God's Hell...May their torture be that of the utmost level...I hope you will join them in hell too....As the saying goes...An Eye for an Eye..."

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Exploding at the Iraqi Blogodrome

Finally a piece of news that mainstream media and blogs generally agree with. This morning the Iraqi Prime Minister announce that "We have eliminated Zarqawi". And the news hit like an explosion on the Iraqi blogs.

Among the first to break with the news was Truth About Iraqis:
Hell awaits this character known as "Zarqawi" if this news is confirmed.

No more four-hour speeches against Shia, Sunni or anyone else.

Bin Laden's days numbered? Let's hope all these scum are erased.

BUT, I hope this does not deter or divert attention from the HADITHA MASSACRE. That investigation MUST continue. And those responsible for killing Iraqi civilians must be punished.
And Iraq The Model was not far behind. Omar was pleased to say the least:
He goes goes on to provide some background information on the town where he was killed.

And with the happiness comes the analysis:

Riot Starter is skeptical: "The first thing that occured to me at hearing the news was "A much needed victory, huh?". It is indeed a much needed victory for a Prime Minister who's status wasn't as he would have liked it to be. ... And to all governments he's been an ideal scapegoat when it comes to justifying failures. But the thing is, if he's for real and has got followers, shouldn't we be more afraid now? If he existed and had followers, they're most likely to be outraged and planning to make everybody suffer for a payback. If he doesn't exist, ... then his death won't make any difference for real. Now the our government as well as "other governments" will start looking pretty bad when they can't blame it all on terrorism and on "The Godfather of secterian killings and terror in Iraq" because they've announced him dead. Well it's two-way thing, they've announced him dead to appear good, just not for long enough."

and Fatima is thoughtful:
How do I feel about that? ... Iraqis have been suffering for decades now, going from war to war to war to sanctions to war. ... They are tired. They want to move on. They are not happy that their country has been invaded, and much less so that the situation has only deteriorated after this invasion in terms of security and peace. ...

I can safely say that most Iraqis are happy, even ecstatic, with this news, but skeptical. Zarqawi was not a lone worker. He had a following, and they can continue their work without him. ...

I do not wish death or punishment on anyone, not even those who hurt me. I only wish them guidance. I think Zarqawi may have thought he meant well, but he did it in all the wrong ways. May God show us what is right and allow us to follow it.
And Finally

Here are some parting words from the blogodrome:

Zarqawi without doubts went into the bottom of the Hell with blood of many innocent children, women and men in his dirty hands.

There were celebrations going on now in the holly city of Najaf and Kerbala. On the other hands there are sadness and shock among his allies in the region and abroad like Al-Jazeera Qatari TV and other Arab pro-terrorists thugs.

Zarqawi and his aides simply went to Hell and this is the worst fate for any one like them.

The BASTARD is DEAD!!!!!! 999 left to go, at least its a begining, i have never been more happier than when they caught the Rat in the hole!

Baghdad Treasure:

Today is a great day in Iraq. ... Congratulations to all the Iraqi people and to all those who suffered from the Zarqawi terrorism…

Iraqi Pundit:

Iraqi women are ululating in the shy, face-covering manner of my country, and Iraqi men are boisterously firing celebratory shots in the air.

and Fayrouz:

Al-Zarqawi is dead. Good riddance.riddance. Who's their next leader in Iraq?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Officials Stating the Bleeding Obvious Part 4

I like Michael Portillo. He speaks with a crude honesty that lets even the most simple person know exactly what he stands for. On the other hand he is like a snake you cannot tell from looking at him whether he is simply shiny or covered in slime (personally, I go for shiny).

Anyway, Portillo, is the latest of the British politicians to turn against the war. Apparently the whole enterprise was one big mistake:
The problem in this conflict is that we have doubts about the cause and our effectiveness. Blair does not bear responsibility alone for our being in Iraq. I was among that majority of MPs who voted to send the troops there. For those who made that judgment it is painful to own up that we were wrong. But it is becoming hard to avoid the admission.

Ands with this admission of guilt comes even more honesty. Did he support the war because he believed Blair's tale on WMD? to free the Iraqi people from tyranny? to keep the West safe from terrorism? or any number of other reasons that have been throw up by the apologists. No...
I backed the invasion because I thought the West needed to reassert its power after 10 years during which America had looked irresolute. It had made no effective response to a series of Al-Qaeda attacks that began with a truck bomb in the World Trade Center in 1993. After the decision by George Bush père not to march on Baghdad at the end of the Gulf war in 1991, Saddam provided another example of anti-American defiance that had gone dangerously unpunished.

And there you have the reason he, and probably the majority of politicians who gave Bush and Blair the freedom to do what they liked, supported such a disastrous war. The West (or specifically Britain and America) were looking a little weak and the best way that they could come up with to reassert their god-given right to global hegemony was to bomb a defenseless country into the stone-age.

You can make up your own conclusions on the crisis over Iran now.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

For your reading and commenting pleasure, my latest Global Voices Online post...

When it comes to food, I know where I would rather live. And, those of you who have never eaten 'Masgoof' before or tried Iraqi fruit and vegetables, will not understand me when I say that as far as food is concerned Iraq is the most civilized countries in the world. I still, for the life of me, cannot understand how British people accept to pay for hugely overpriced vegetables that taste of nothing more than water. But I digress...

Today I will highlight bloggers talking about food and that is not all, there is also the rich variety of posts that the Iraqi bloggers always serve up. As it is topical I also must cover the Haditha Massacre.

If you read no other posts this week, read these.

You will hear much about the those that died but less about the survivors of a bomb blast. Two bloggers this week survived and write about the aftermath.

Morbid Smile's is feeling "hopeless, Helpless, Angry, ... Simply, I feel like a hell burning inside of me." A motorcycle exploded in her local market and 22 of her neighbors died. I will let her describe the rest in her own words.
Thankfully, we were all at home that night. I begged Mom to go out and buy some stuff from the market but she kept telling me to postpon it to the next day. If we were there at that time, I would be writing this from Heaven by now. Or from Hell maybe!

We knew most of the people who died. One of them was a girl preparing for her wedding day which happened to be the next day! Three little brothers were inside a car waiting for the parent. One of them had his brain popped out of his head and died immedeatly, the two others lived but with a traumatic disease now. And many more...

The streets were closed, funerals were held in ever corner of the neighborhood, and people were all in black attending the funerals. Candles were lit in the explosion's place on the third day. I went there to see it; it was so sad. Seeing the place where I grew up in this state and knowing that people died their is heart breaking. The faces I've seen almost everyday since I was a little kid... They're no more.
I wrote last week that Baghdad Treasure's neighbors had been killed in an explosion. This week he writes a moving post about the mourning after:
my eyes caught a chain of black banners announcing the death of the martyrs that fell in the explosion. ... Lines from the holy Quran and a big Cross were next each other as if they were hand in hand declaring the victims were Muslims and Christians and all died together in one crime. ...

In Iraq, funerals take three days. Today was the third and the last. People of different sects and religions attended the funeral which was held in a tent in front of the house. Thirteen other funerals were held in the neighborhood, including the one that killed Um Omar, a Christian woman who was shopping with her 25-year-old daughter. Susan, the daughter, was a bride who got married few weeks ago. She did not die but she lost her two legs in the blast and has become crippled. ...

As I walked from my house to the funeral everyday, I noticed how this explosion was successful enough to turn it so gloomy, dusty, and sad. ... We considered all the dead were our mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and we all shared the unforgettable pain and grief…

May she and all the Iraqi martyrs rest in peace.

Currently the big international story on Iraq is about the investigation into the killing of 24 unarmed civilians by US Marines in Haditha. Yet bloggers inside Iraq have not commented. I scan through my past posts may show why. The issue of violence from US soldiers has been reported again and again and again, this is no longer news for them. From the Iraqi pundits outside there is an interesting split into two camps. Bloggers who had supported the war are commenting on everything but Haditha, bloggers who were against talked about Haditha and other possibly similar events.

For my own comment, in Asterism, I wrote: "It is a sad reflection on a modern civilsation when a general must fly in to Iraq to tell his troops how not to kill civilians indiscriminately. The point here is that the American soldiers in Iraq have become part of the problem for the Iraqi people and not the solution."

Food Glorious Food

Neurotic Wife is, sadly, leaving Iraq. But, for once, she has the opportunity to go outside the Green Zone and she get to try one of Baghdad's delicacies:

Photo by Neurotic Wife

"We stopped at a place thats known for its ice cream, placed called (Faqma)...had the yummiest icecream ever(ofcourse I wasnt allowed to get out of the car)...
Could not believe that I can have such icecream here, here in Baghdad...Similiar to a banana split but instead with sliced bananas and a cocktail of icecream flavours...."

and HNK devotes a post to her favourite foods. She says: "Maybe we don't have an electricity, peace ,freedom but we certenly have food.
Maybe we can't drive, walk and doing the simple normal things but we can eat.
Food always make you feel bettter, especially if it's taste good.
here are some food pictures." The following pictures were certainly to delicious to safely post here.

But food also has its politics. Baghdad Connect reports on the threat to Iraqi wheat production:
in mid 2004 Mr. Bremer has introduced [in line with UPOV policies] clause # 81 concerning the intellectual property for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants but not the biodiversity of plants, which automatically phase out the Iraqi local seeds. ...

Once the Iraqi farmers commence in planting those patent seeds then there will be no U-turn. Those patent seeds will eventually hybridize [pollute] the surrounding local seeds, which will make those local seeds protected intellectual property of the giant patent seeds companies, and that will force the Iraqi farmer to buy foreign seeds every year with the ‘appropriate’ fertilizers, and in a few years the expenses will surpass the returns, which means the end of the Wheat farming in the Mesopotamia.
Well, if food is good for the Iraqis how is it for the American soldiers? The Baghdad Alcohol Sponge reviews the US Army 'Meals Ready to Eat'... "Someone should investigate just who all was involved in the awarding of the contract and how they tie with the idiots that made up the current menues. ...

It has a ton of salt and tomato stuff in it--read: heartburn. Most of them seem to have a mixture of tomato stuff and heartburn mixtures. Black bean burrito? If you can eat that thing un-heated and maintain a smile on your face, I'll give you a dollar.

"Wheat Snack Bread" whoever came up with this idea should be publicly blugeoned in the face with a bag of seeping scrotums. And again the week after, just for having 2 of them in some meals."

Mmmm, mmm?

In Other Worlds

Neurotic Wife posts her last blog from Baghdad and shares some thoughts and emails from her friends.
"It is words like these that make my heart full of joy...It is words like these that make me love every moment that I had spent here... As I write this, my tears are already flowing...I cant help it...Im sorry, for words cant describe what Im feeling right now...This is the end of the Chapter...The end of Chapter Baghdad...The end of Chapter Green Zone...The end of an Amazing Chapter...

Ive waved goodbye to the beautiful date trees...This is my last post...My last post from Baghdad...And Im feeling like a Stranger...A Stranger in the Night...."
24 Steps takes a day off and realizes that in the new Baghdad there is nowhere to go. So he organized a family get-together. The conversation was the typical Iraq one... "Have you heard about the women who were killed in Amiriya?” ... “Have you heard about the 7 young men who were killed" ... And then he is cornered by his aunt:
“Now what do you say?” my aunt asked me, referring to that I might be the last Iraqi who is still in favor of the war. “Do you still like what happened in Iraq?”

I wanted to answer her, but I was really hungry. I didn’t want to be deprived of food at 3pm! Also, I didn’t have evidences to back my answer up!
Fatima is so happy that her generator is working she posts a recording of its sound. "Thankfully, we repaired our generator a while ago, and are sleeping well at night. It cost about $400 for a new piece, and another $400 for one month's supply of diesal to run the generator. Very pricey for the diesal, which normally should have cost one sixth of that price, but we're happy all the same." And she reports an improvement in the electricity supply: "For the first time in a loooong time, the electricity came on yesterday for two hours, off for four hours."

And Finally...

Zeyad is blogging for the New York Times again and offers us a taster of his posts. Reading the Iraqi Horoscope:
Gemini: Your parents have been nagging you to lay low and leave the country. Yet you are worried about an imminent death squad attack against your area. Plan your escape route carefully and keep a spare grenade for emergencies.
Attack day: Thursday.
Grenade No.: 5

Leo: A tip from one of your friends wrongfully ends you up in an
occupation detention camp. Learn to distinguish friend from foe. Avoid female American jail wardens, unless you like to explore
the arts of exhibitionism and BDSM.
Arrest day: Friday.
Prison cell No.: 26

Libra: Things are slowing down in your neighborhood. Your fellow watch-team members have nothing to do but smoke and trade mobile ring tones all night. It would probably not be a bad idea to take some time off from your guard duties and pay more attention to your love life.
Lucky day: Monday.
Street No.: 27