After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

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!


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