After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Did he really say that?

Former US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski gets as close as any American official I have heard of to describe the Israeli government as an illegitimate occupation:
The Israelis can defeat every single one of their current or potential enemies, but in doing so, they simply enlarge the number of those increasingly determined to use force in resisting Israel. In the long run, Israel would then face the same dilemma that France faced in Algeria, be worn down and eventually expelled. That is the historical reality that can only be ignored at considerable strategic risk.
You can't face the same dilemma as France in Algeria unless you are an occupation.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Lebanon at the Iraqi Blogodrome

The Iraqi blogs have been alive with comment on the crisis in Lebanon. The opinions are so diverse that the subject deserves to be covered in its own right.

If you read no other post read this one

Ali from Free Iraqi delivers a sharp analysis that would make Machiavelli nervous. He starts:
"I do wish the war between Israel and Hezbollah goes on and on, that it spreads to involve Iran and Syria."
"Death is not the worst outcome to us and I’m sure they can understand if they want to but they still can’t imagine it. I only cared that much about life when I was given a chance to live a decent life. Now that this chance is slipping count me on the cheerleaders for death; death of dictators, their killing machine and the terrorists, and if it means our death too then so be it."
It is not that you should agree with him but, like the Al-Jazeera interview with Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah it is refreshing to see an analysis that just get to the point without the usual smoke and mirrors that are used to mollify the nervous populations in the West. War is ugly, get over it and get to the point!

On all sides of the divide

There is a whole spectrum of opinion from Iraqi bloggers from out-and-out support for Hezbollah to views that Israeli leaders would not dare repeat. And several shades between.

Hammorabi is against the war. He laments the loss of civilian life and wishes for an immediate seize fire but states that: "The most important [issue] now is that, Hizballah showed that they are able to attack with precisions deep inside Israel. This will change the balance of power in away that if Israel hit inside Lebanon the Lebanese may hit heavily inside Israel." he also foresees that the nature of the Israeli aggression will create a world where: "every state [that] wants to protect itself and its civilians has to arm itself with nuclear power and heavy destructive war machine as Israel doing now."

On the other side Mohammed of Iraq the Model does not want any "half-solution" to the conflict and calls for the war to extend to "firm and resolute measures .. to be undertaken against Syria and Iran." Who he argues are behind a trail of instability from Iraq to Lebanon and Palestine. He argues that if America does not fight a conventional war with Iran now it will face a nuclear armed Iran in the future.

Abu Tammam reminds us that at one time the founders of the State of Israel were considered terrorists and some were wanted by the British police.

Z, an Iraqi in New Zealand, has thrown his lot on Israel's side. "Israel has right to be attacking Lebanon it has. There were some intentional attacks for preservation against its neighbors but I can only imagine for any Arab nation to doing no less the same as Israel is doing now." he writes. And he is bitter about his fellow Arabs:
"Neither Hizbollah nor Hamas have done any good to Iraq. All they do is love sending militant Iranis and Iraqis with weapons and their sons for martyrdom to kill other Iraqis or hail their flags to Saddam and his family."

While Z writes about what divides Iraq and Lebanon, Baghdad Treasure looks at what unites:
I was watching the news bulletin: same footage, same suffering and almost same attacker for the same reason. Buildings collapse and people die, cry and flee homes. Children are hurt, mothers weep and parents sob. Maybe no one in the world feel what is happening in Lebanon like Iraqis...

I take a bow with full respect to the Lebanese people, brothers and sisters of the Iraqi people. Both will win in the end, not necessarily by weapons but by will, the will of revival despite the hateful aggressions and successive wars. The will of Iraqis that rebuilt their country after the 1991 aggression is the same will which Lebanese people will adopt in rebuilding their country and is the same will Iraqis will restore to revive their country and the smile of its people. Viva Lebanon… Viva Iraq...

The Exiled Shalash, is no friend of Hezbollah but says Israel is doing itself no favors. On one side Hezbollah has been elevated to the status of "a regional player to which the world must now listen." and on the other:
"The Jewish state found itself trapped in this crisis. ... the all-out war against Lebanon that Israel declared was no justification for two soldiers, so they upped the stakes, calling for Hizbollah to disarm... It is now too late for Israel to back away and be satisfied with the return of its two soldiers, they have started something they need to finish. It is justifiable, in a military sense to cut the enemy's supply routes, but in this case, that just happens to affect millions of non-concerned Lebanese civilians, not to mention the tourists who found themselves trapped."

Salam Adil (that's me) says Israel is just making itself irrelevant. The world economy has moved to the east and countries like Dubai have taken away the economic significance of Lebanon.
"Gone are the days when the 'Middle' of the Middle East has any strategic relevance to the Arabs. The world has moved on and the warheads in Israel, too puffed up in their own arrogance, have failed to notice. ...

We are back to the old Israel of the 70's. It will make the media companies happy for a while ... and then bit by bit, the world will lose interest. All the petrodollars will flow into Dubai, the far east and Iraq... And Israel will become nothing more than a drain on the US taxpayer."

The Last Word...

... goes to Liminal:
Destroying Lebanon like they are doing (and sanctioning), is like shooting Bruce Lee down with an F16. Don'tch ya think? There's no honor in it. No honor at all...for making all Lebanese people suffer for the crimes of few.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Quote of the Day

37 is lumpy like porridge, 89 is misty like snow and when I multiply numbers together I see the shapes merging in my mind.

Daniel Tammel

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Israel - bombing its way into irrelevance

Time for a reality check. Israel is gearing up for a massive assault on Lebanon. Already they are inflicting their own version of Shock and Awe on Beirut. The army reserves have been called up and the peace terms are unacceptable. Maybe it will end up occupying large sections of Lebanon, and plan to remain there for years. Maybe Beirut will bombed back to the stone age. And if Israel succeeds, well, so what?

This new war in Lebanon is a minor border skirmish compared to the ongoing war and tragedy in Iraq or any potential war with Iran. Even if the whole of Beirut is burnt to the ground it would only be a tragedy for the people of Lebanon. Gone are the days when the 'Middle' of the Middle East has any strategic relevance to the Arabs. The world has moved on and the warheads in Israel, too puffed up in their own arrogance, have failed to notice.

To give this a historical perspective; in the 70's the whole of the Middle East was controlled by a combination of the military might of the Shah's Iran on one side and Israel on the other. The rest of the population was kept quiet by corrupt regimes that could pretend legitimacy by being nominally anti-Israeli in public while dealing with America, the Soviet Union and Israel as needed. Saddam was a good example. Although he is now considered to be Israel's sworn enemy, yet, during the Lebanese Civil War he was quite happy to cooperate with them to arm the Christian militias in Lebanon.

In those days Israel was king. They were a key component of American foreign policy in the region and saw themselves much like the old South Africa. A military and economic power centre through which all the Arabs eventually would be forced to deal to trade with rest of the world. Lebanon too was important. With its liberal society it became a centre for banking, trade and was also one of the main locations for regional tourism.

Then two things happened. The revolution in Iran broke the old balance of forces in the region. And China and India became industrialized powers shifting the balance of power decidedly to the East. Now, with America's massive involvement in Iraq, the amazing growth of Dubai, Israel is becoming more of a small country very far away from where the real world is. Even Lebanon will never regain the importance it had before the civil war. Dubai has sucked away all the trade and much of the tourism that used to flow through its gates.

Lately Israel had been doing a reasonable marketing effort for itself. Looking like it had broken the militaristic pattern of a country that was aiming for perpetual war and occupation of its neighbors. It was in the process of forcing some kind of a peace deal on the Palestinians. The rest of the world could see it as a peaceful nation in a problematic region. Even the Arab countries were beginning a process of grudging recognition. Look how Israeli delegates were free to attend the World Trade Organization's meetings in Dubai in 2003. And Israel has a lot going for it in this world. With a highly educated workforce, a source of cheap labour and, most importantly, one of the most advanced legal systems, a peaceful Israel could grow to rival the power of London or New York as a location for international business.

Now this is all for nought. Blown away with in the dust kicked up by the first bomb that landed on Beirut airport. We are back to the old Israel of the 70's. It will make the media companies happy for a while with some of the really exiting TV pictures they have been denied in Iraq and then bit by bit, the world will lose interest. All the petrodollars will flow into Dubai, the far east and Iraq when it rediscovers stability. And Israel will become nothing more than a drain on the US taxpayer.
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Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

As the old Chinese curse goes "may you live in interesting times". And this week we have been witnessing some interesting times indeed. I am not going to play 'my war is better than yours' but it is enough to say that by Iraqi standards the whole crisis in Lebanon still seems more like a walk in the park. But as time goes on and the heat rises, I can only wonder if Lebanon will see the same sad scenes and massive tragedies as Iraq.

Today I give the Iraqi blogger's reactions to the crisis in Lebanon; you can read about the other war that is still going on in Iraq; in The Week in Politics, find out why America may now be supporting the Baathists in Iraq; and you must read to the end to learn about the way Iraqis celebrate a wedding.

If you read no other blog post today read these

"I read your words and I broke inside." came one comment to HNK's monumental post this week. She writes:
I know you were worried about me, and I also know that you are sorry about what is going on in Iraq. I know all that just because I heard it over and over again till I wear your shoes and forgot that I am the one who is living this life, till I felt that I am sorry for me, my poor wounded soul. ... Right now I concider myself half human. ... I spent a very bad and hard days since I wrote my last post.The situations is deteriorating rapidly, I don't know from where I should start, many things happened I can't number them.

She gives an example of how American soldiers, after being shot at, made her father and all other people in cars around them stand, in the daytime heat, outside their cars with their hands on their heads for an hour and a half. She concludes:
I am not a man and I am not strong. When the danger is around me, my family or around my friend I can't sit watching. It's not war against Sadam or against the terror only; it's a war against us, it's a psychological war. To live or not to live this is the question.

Bye bye peace of mind, see you in heaven: maybe

I also recommend Zeyad's post about the state of the Iraqis living in exile in Jordan.
It’s a very distressing experience to hear the stories of Iraqis living in Amman. Concern for relatives back home, residency problems, and the quest for employment or a third country offering sanctuary to fleeing Iraqis, are principal conversation topics.

Lebanon: Into the Fire

A couple of Iraqi bloggers managed to get stuck in the middle of the danger zone. Hala_S was on one of the last flights into Beirut airport. She writes:
"My first impression was how elegant and beautiful Rafik Al Harir's airpot is! It didn't take me more than one day to blow it up and with it my family's arrival this morning."
Whoops! Now she is stuck in Beirut and her mother is stuck in Damascus. So to kill time she went on her own for a tour around Beirut until 1am. What was odd about this? Hala explains: "For some who don't know, a woman cannot do this in any Arab country. But this is Beirut! isn't it? Here you see a woman covered from top to toe walking aside another with nearly no clothes on." Hala goes on to give her own opinion on why Beirut was bombed:
Israel is jealous, it might sound silly but they are dying to get people to their country and establish any kind of tourism. This will never happen.

Truth About Iraqis is in Syria. He reports: Much talk of imminent attack on Syria itself, possibly Damascus. ... Refugees from Iraq and now refuges from Lebanon, thousands of Lebanese, Arabs and other tourists trying to escape fighting in southern Lebanon and southern suburbs of Beirut."

The disconnection between Iraqis and the rest of the Arab world becomes more obvious as Omar scans the BBC Arabic forum talking about the crisis in Gaza. He writes:
About three dozens of comments were made by Iraqis.. and all these comments were supportive of Israel or at least against Hamas.. except for only three comments; .. the opposite ratio is true about the comments by the rest of Arabs.
The reason for this? "Perhaps our problem is that we in Iraq are evolving politically faster than we are doing when it comes to economy, security, etc. that we are even ahead of countries like Egypt or Kuwait in holding real elections and having a permanent constitution and fair representation of all the segments of the people."

The last word goes to Neurotic Wife. Her sister is stuck in Beirut. And she has words for everybody.

I blame Hezballah for not taking any consideration the safety of their people...Didnt Nasrallah know what his action will trigger???

The Arab Leaders:
they met at an emergency summit, saying that they are not happy about the situation...Is that all??? Not happy??? Words...WORDS...WORDS...Big Deal, you aint happy do something about it...Intervene, be the peacekeeper...Dont just sit there and play the blame game ...Try and put out the fire that has errupted...The damn thing happened...People are getting killed .. The BS of politicians is really beyond me...

and Israel:
TWO soldiers, TWO soldiers were kidnapped and a whole country gets bombed... Why did they bomb the airport??? Why bomb bridges and roads...How can people get away...There are tens of thousands of tourists...What kind of tactic is this??? Did the airport have terrorists too??? or the roads???or the bridges??? Is this fair??? Oh I forgot Life aint fair nor is politics...
The innocent children that are being injured for the sake of two soldiers who are held in captivity...Couldnt Israel make a deal with Hezballah for the exchange of these soldiers than wage a war on a whole country...on a whole nation...Is the Arab blood that cheap??? This is the New Age...The New Age Democracy....

Back to the other War Zone

And I must start with my deepest condolences to Fatima whose Uncle F. was assissinated in his shop by unknown gunmen. She writes "Uncle S and the rest of the family are torn up over his murder. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'oon. May he rest in peace and may his murderers receive their justice soon." I also sorry to hear of the death of Riverbend's close friend, T. I will describe the tragic circumstances with her own words:
T. was a 26-year-old civil engineer who worked with a group of friends in a consultancy bureau in Jadriya... He usually left the house at 7 am to avoid the morning traffic jams and the heat. Yesterday, he decided to stay at home ... T. was making his way out of the area on foot when the attack occurred and he got two bullets to the head. His brother could only identify him by the blood-stained t-shirt he was wearing. ...

It's difficult to believe T. is really gone… I was checking my email today and I saw three unopened emails from him in my inbox. For one wild, heart-stopping moment I thought he was alive. T. was alive and it was all some horrific mistake! I let myself ride the wave of giddy disbelief for a few precious seconds before I came crashing down as my eyes caught the date on the emails- he had sent them the night before he was killed. One email was a collection of jokes, the other was an assortment of cat pictures, and the third was a poem in Arabic about Iraq under American occupation. He had highlighted a few lines describing the beauty of Baghdad in spite of the war… And while I always thought Baghdad was one of the more marvelous cities in the world, I'm finding it very difficult this moment to see any beauty in a city stained with the blood of T. and so many other innocents…

This week in Baghdad the sectarian fighting took on a new dimension with more killings and reprisal killings of innocent civilians by sectarian militias. Nabil gives an idea of the scale of the violence:
in the last few days, at least 150 people were killed (AT LEAST), because they were sunnis or shiite, and where are the Iraqi army and police from these incidents????... no one knows... The Iraqi prime minster goes on TV, and he say (the situation in Iraq is improving though its coverd with the smell of the iraqi blood), what the hell is that??????......!!!!!..

The Week in Politics

The blogs this week announced the failure of the latest government initiative to secure Baghdad called Operation Forward Together, or as TAI prefers to call it "Operation Come Up With Fancy Names Because We Are As Impotent As Eunuchs But Can Fool The US Public With Hollywood Titles."

Mohammed of Iraq the Model points out that the militias have an intelligence advantage over the Iraqi government: "and it looks like the current security operation did not deal seriously with this defect, on the contrary the gap seems to be even growing giving advantage to the militias and insurgents. Again I feel I must point out that security operation of the government is still not doing much to deal with the escalating violence."

And he reports a growing disconnection between the government and the people.
As a reaction to the escalating situation in Baghdad president Talabani addressed the people urging calm and warning them from being dragged into sectarian violence. I really don't know why would Talabani ask the people to remain calm and this message doesn't make sense because the ordinary people in their vast majority look for peace, they don't carry arms neither they take part in the violence. ... The people need no advice from the government, they only seek protection.

Baghdad Connect analyses the current situation in Iraq concludes that, just as in the times of the Cold War, when America backed the extreme Islamist Hekmatyar against the Communist Russians, they are preparing to back Baathists against, their common enemy, Iran and al Qaida (aka the Tafkiris). The reasoning:
The current US admin have recognized that the Baathists and the western tribes were born, raised and staying in Iraq. And if they have lost the battle of 2003 then they are far from losing any war here. So why not the US bet on those who can deal with and control these neo-Takfiris than swinging the cradle of those whose main crying agony is for some history figure that died in the seventh AD [or the Shia]?
And the signs are there:
The US forces have all of the sudden pulled out of Fallujah! And there is a major battle taking place in Ameriyat Al Fallujah between the elite tribes of Albu Essa and the Takfiris [in other words the Baathists have started attacking al Qaida in Iraq]
BC concludes by saying "This 'Nero' reality is underway and has already been institutionalized. The world community should understand that there will be a day when a Saddam alter ego is democratically elected in power. Ample similar examples are found today in central Asia."

With news of the rape of 14 year old girl by American soldiers, Hammorabi explains why this is such a big issue in Iraq even though worse may already happening in the country:
This crime not less than the crimes of the terrorists and it will lead to extremely serious consequences for the American soldiers in the region. The reaction against such crimes will be very serious and the tribes and local people will make every effort to avoid such soldiers and even make them as targets as much as they can. ...

Crimes from the kind mentioned here will turn all the Iraqis into the resistance against the occupation especially with the failures achieved over the last three years.

And Finally...

In all this darkness there is a beacon of light, and it no coincidence that this beacon is called Sunshine. She describes beautifully the way weddings are traditionally celebrated in Iraq.
Every country has it is own traditions and it is important to be enlightened about them before we judge.
I wanted to write about that because many people think that we have the arranged weddings, the kind that the guy sees his bride in their wedding day! I got a letter from a reader asking me if it is true. That was in the past 100 years ago.
Our weddings are similar to the others' except that we have more parties.

And relates a story on how weddings go on now in Iraq:
My friend "J" talked about her relative's wedding party:
"I went to D's house 2 days before her wedding day , to help them , in the wedding day , we went to a nearby salon in the morning , when a heavy shooting began , the bride was nervous, ,then we thanked god the shooting stopped , I didn't have my hair done , we wanted to got home as fast as we can , anyway we went to the house and D was about to cry , my mom and sister arrived , after they spent 2 hours stuck in the roads! we didn't tell D at all , the groom and his family didn't came at the exact time , we called them and they said that they were trying to find an open road , they couldn't because the neighborhood was sat dawn by the US troops , they found an open road before the stroll bans in about 30 minutes !! ( few months ago the situation was really bad that is why the stroll bans was at 8 pm) , we postponed the wedding for a week, imagine the bride's condition !! she kept crying all night long ".
in my country, the bride not just worry about her cloths and make-up only, she worry about the groom arrival in the exact time ( alive ) as well!!!. .

Until next week, keep shining.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

Here for your commenting pleasure is my latest Global Voices weblog...

Writing this post is not getting any easier, and this week is especially hard. I can even notice that I have been subconsciously avoiding it. The stories that Iraqi bloggers are telling this week are of sadness, horror, disappointment and general depression. If you are looking cheerful uplifting stories, don't read any further, skip to the 'And Finally' section at the end. I think I am beginning to sound like Lemony Snicket.


First, my heartfelt condolences goes out to Truth About Iraqis who lost a relative recently to masked gunmen in Iraq. He writes:
Armed men stepped out of the car and apprehended Aziz and his brothers. They searched the car, searched the men and asked for IDs. After checking the names, the armed men singled Aziz out. They separated him from his brothers. They told him they had orders to execute him.

Aziz pleaded with the men. His brothers pleaded. It was no use.

Aziz crumbled to the floor, lifeless, a bullet to the head. A flash of gunfire and his life was snuffed out. Gone. The father of two, husband, friend, brother .. gone ...
And with grief comes anger at his blog commentors:

I am not surprised at all to see that many of those who frequently post comments on my blog could not even offer a single word of condolence. They pretend they care but in actuality, they do not.

Those who masquerade themselves from one blog to the next saying they care about humanity are the ones who are gloating right now. Gloat all you want, like I always say, your real intentions for Iraq and my people are evident in your words and actions.
On top of his grief TAI lost his blog to cyber-squatters. His blog address is now

Condolences again to the family of Zappy's close friend. Zappy writes a farewell letter::
Dear Othman,

Its been a while since we have had a time to joke about what is happening around us,

I always like to buy from your shop and we being both sarcastic just for the fun of it, although its painful for both of us but we keep joking anyway, we did discuss that you may be kidnapped or killed if you don't close down the shop for a while, you always said that our ages are within the hands of God, you were true.

I hope your three kids are o.k. though I wouldn't believe that they ever will be again.

I'm sorry to hear the news of your Assassination by those cold blooded murderers three days ago, I just got the news this morning. ...

I also heard that "they" will not allow your family to set a funeral?

Salam to you, may God soothe your wife and children's Hearts.

1971-2006 R.I.P

If you read no other posts this week, read these

Have you ever needed a word to describe how super powers can flip flop in their allegiances over time yet it is always the ordinary people who suffer just the same? Well that word is "Karagoz" Baghdad Connect explains:
As once said there is no new wave but only the sea. And that goes for the super powers and their seasonal séance trance and theatrical performances. Whether the USSR invaded Afghanistan or the USA invaded Iraq. Whether Bin Laden is a freedom fighter in 1985 or a world terrorist in 2001, whether there is a tyrant Shah or a tyrant Mulla; whether Algeria, Libya and Saudi Arabia are good Muslim countries and Sudan, Palestine and Syria are not; whether Kyrgyzstan is an independent democracy and Lebanon is not, in the end it’s all part of the same Karagoz.

End of year exams are stressful at the best of times, and getting questions on subjects that were not even in the school books does not help. But this was the least of Sunshine's worries. To begin with:
I had 40 days to study , and about 3 weeks examinations , it was awful , hot weather 46 C. , no electricity , no fuel for the generator, studying in hell would be better !!!
But even that was mild compared to what happened during the exam weeks:
On Tuesday, I had an asthma attack. And stayed-up till 1 am, on the respiratory-machine, I woke up in the next day a little bit dizzy, and tired but even though I went to school , and answered well.

Wednesday at noon, I was not capable of breathing, the doctor gave me many many medicaments, that made my hands shaken and my heart beat so fast. I woke up on Thursday feeling much worst, I used the respiratory-machine all day long, my heart was like the drums , I couldn't study , I couldn't see through the respirator mask ... my mom had to give me hydrocortisone shot .I thought I'll be ok...But I was totally wrong!
And she had to risk the night-time curfew to go to hospital. But, at hospital, she was one of the lucky ones.
I saw the most horrible things, a woman who had a heart attack, her two daughters were running here and there trying to find a doctor for her, the old woman was in pain , and no doctor came !! ...There was only one nurse running her and there helping people in the emergency room ...

Among the most horrible cases I saw, and I will never forget it. A couple of worried parents caring their daughter , she was in my age , they put her in a bed beside mine , the dad was shouting " her heart stopped , she stopped breathing too ".
No , the doctors didn't come running , the nurse did , " we need oxygen here , bring one " he said. There were only two oxygen bottles…
I was looking at her crying mom , I just can't imagine her fears and feelings , I randomly took-off my mask , and gave it to her , after a sec , the nurse said " no , we should put her on the DC . " it was very scary , mama and dad , kept saying " do not look , look at the other side " but I couldn't, the girl returned to life , then a doctor came , "toooooooooooooooooo late mister!"
After all that how well do you think she did?
I am expecting a full mark in math , and from 90-100 in the rest of the exams , except physics , and Arabic , I'll get my results in the middle of July , I am a bit nervous , but excited in the same time .
And Sunshine keeps shining.

Helpless and suffocated...

Miraj thought she would take some time off work and relax by reading through some Iraqi blogs. But she got as far as Olivebranch and stopped. "I don't feel to read more blogs better stick to my work instead of feeling helpless and suffocated.....", she writes.

And here is a selection of what she missed:

Aunt Najma emerged from her final exams and reported on the "Hollywood-like" adventures of her relatives:
Imagine sleeping in your bed when parts of the ceiling above fall on you.. This is what happened to my uncle when the neighborhood was attacked with mortars! My uncle sent us an SMS saying that "A mortar exploded on our roof, financial losses only, thank God".

But that was nothing compared to what happened to my friend, and relative Z's house.
It was minutes after she came back home from the Arabic exam when a very loud explosion was heard, this time it was much more than financial losses, her two sisters and her dad had multiple injuries in their heads and had to be rushed to the hospital, and her grandma had some minor injuries.... Their house is barely a house now, but they can't be more grateful to be all alive.

Only one death was reported thankfully, a female student on her way home.

Zappy catalogues a long list of what is wrong in Iraq: "the Ministry of Oil has increased the Benzene prices to 350 ID from 250 ID... Queues are Quadruple in length, and people are dying rapidly, electricity has been off for 5 days and heat is nearly 50 Centigrade... People whom their beloved ones have been Assassinated can't get their bodies out of the Baghdad Morgue due to Terrorists Waiting for them over there to kill them too....Eight Mortar Shells fall on Al Adhamiyah. Now the City is Virtually Hell."

For the past few weeks 24 Steps to Liberty has been telling some of the stories of the crimes of Saddam's regime collected by the The Iraq Memory Foundation. This week he tells the the story of Hussein Yousif Rabiya who survived to recount the revenge killings of people who rose up against Saddam in 1991 after the end of the first Gulf War. But only to be assassinated in June 2005. 24 Steps writes: "He lived the last 40 years to witness one of Iraq’s darkest eras in history, but wasn’t meant to live after giving his testimony. ... Rabiya wasn’t killed by Saddam Hussein. He was killed by the deterioration in the security situation after the dictator was toppled!"

Konfused Kid was nearly assassinated by a gang on his way to a funeral for four friends. He was dressed all in black and was nearly killed for looking like a Mehdi militia man. He changed into something else. But after the funeral a friend pulled him over to one side:
'Are you crazy? How could you dare to wear a blue shirt, that's the sign of the FPS police, they could kill you second.'...

They didn't understand why I was laughing, you can't dress black, can't dress blue, can't even dress the collegeboy's white after the recent killings....well, that's Iraq for you.

The final word goes to AnaRki13:
so many things happened during those months in which i did not write.. Horrific things, Good things, Sadness, Happiness... you smile, but your eyes are full of tears, and your heart is rent in two.

but, no matter what is thrown at you, life has proven without any doubt, that it goes on.

Iraq is worse than ever before, and we still HAVEN'T hit rock bottom.

enough of politics, i cant take any more bad theatre.

More Bad Theatre (or The Week in Politics)

The big story last week was the announcement by the Iraqi government of its plan for security and reconciliation. None of the blogger are saying that it is going well.

Raed had been a supporter of the proposed plan and was uncharacteristically optimistic for the future. But he is now feeling disappointment, because, under US pressure, four key points were removed from the final announcement. He writes
"Sadly, again, the U.S. intervention turned the strong 28 point plan into a weak 24 plan that does not include any requests for a withdrawal timetable. In addition, the very solid amnesty proposal turned into a vague and useless one after an extreme amount of U.S. intervention. This latest wave of US interference included a number of Congressional bills informing the Iraqi government that granting amnesty to Iraqis who have killed Americans is not acceptable. ... Consistent U.S. interference in Iraq, and the misuse of the Iraq war for gaining advantages in the U.S. domestic sphere, eliminates any hope for Iraqis to get their country back through diplomacy and democracy, and it is pushing more Iraqis to adopt violence as a means in building a better future for Iraq’s next generations."

Omar of Iraq the Model worries that "This reconciliation plan continues to face serious challenges and the worst of which is today's [July 1] barbaric attack that killed and wounded dozens in Baghdad, in Sadr city.... this attack will provoke followers of al-Sadr whose response will almost certainly be a violent one and will probably lead to a series of exchanged violence that will threaten the reconciliation initiative in its first steps." And, as predicted, the reaction came, as Omar reports in the following post of a large attack against the Baghdad district of Adhamiya by al-Sadr's militia.

At least there are bloggers convinced by the personalities in the government. IraqPundit is mildly encouraging: "Nouri Al Maliki's government appears to be serious about its security plan" and Sami is gushing with praise after attending an open meeting with the Prime Minister and other senior ministers:
"I don't want to divulge to much information apart from the fact, he has a presence and he is a great man though I am secular and he is not, though he is a Shiite and I am not I believe that he is the right man for the job if people don't interfere in his way."

But then what hope is there for a government that, as Mohammed opines, has members with "one foot in the cabinet and the other in the insurgents' trench". Or where party leaders make corrupt land purchases at 1% of the market price?

And Finally

Neurotic Wife is seriously pissed with her husband. And the best way to get over it is to have a serious rant on her blog. As far as I am concerned this is what the internet was invented for. And, boy, what a rant..
HUBBY is being really difficult...My patience and believe me I do have patience when it comes to him, is gonna run out pretty soon...He was in the States for 2 weeks after Iraq, then he came supposedly settle down and look for a job...No one forced him to come here, certainly I didnt...I made sure after knowing that we are leaving Iraq to ask him and discuss the future plans...I even offered him, if he wanted, I would compromise and move back to the States if thats what he really wants to do..."No" He said..."I dont wanna go back to the States...I dont want a 9-5 job anymore" Hmm you sure HUBBY??? Are you 100% sure??? I mean I really am willing to go if thats where you want to be..."Yes honey, Im sure"

Two months later and all he talks about is "What a mistake this has been"..."What a boring life this is"..."Id rather be in the States"... "I cant live here"...."We have to either go back to Iraq or to the States" Hmm...pretty nice comments that I get everyday....Oh but fortunately I get these comments in the 3 or 4 hours that he is actually awake in...All he has been doing is eating and sleeping...oh...and complaining..


When I ask him "Why are you sleeping all the time???" He answers with "Im jet lagged" or "Theres nothing else to do" OMG!!! Nothing else to do??? What about exerting abit of energy and sending CV's out....I dont get it...I really dont...He is acting as if its my fault he left Iraq...That its my fault he doesnt have a job and its my fault that he aint in his back garden in the States...I mean the minute he arrived here, he started talkin about going back to Iraq...He said "We should go back" WE??? Nope...Sorry...not me....Yes I would love to go back, definitely...But not now...I wanna give this place a chance...

After venting her rage she ends in a conciliatory tone...
maybe its just a small hiccup...Maybe he doesnt think he stands a chance..I know he does and I believe in him and in his ability...I really do...If only he puts his mind to it...

Im still gonna try to be the good wife...Lets see where that leads to...

We will be watching.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

Its been a fascinating week - with so much to read I don't know where to begin. So here is my best effort. Read how a mainstream media company created a blog that actually matters, how one Iraqi blogger wants to make peace with Israel, how bloggers rate the latest political developments in Iraq, a dicussion on the state of the Iraqi blogosphere and, if you read to the end, who to blame when you close down your blog comments section.

If you read on other posts this week read these

Miraj is asking:
How come I have problems getting to any country in the world, including Jordan?
Jordan the country which is standing on its feet by the Iraqis living there...

How come I am rejected everywhere in the world with my Iraqi passport?

How come I am being judged for someone else’s mistakes?

How come any American can enter any country in the world, including the countries they destroyed?

Didn't they invade our country?

Didn’t they encourage terrorism with their famous excuse of Destroying Terrorism in the world?

Didn’t they kill our children , our women, our men?

Didn't they humiliate us in Abu Ghraib with their sexual sickness?

Didn't they lie to the world about the war in Iraq? ...

All the “How come” 's are questions that do not need answers from those who think they are superiors to mankind and any such answers will be deleted immediately

Saddam defense lawyer, Khamies Al-Ubaidi was kidnapped and killed last week and Ishtar could not find someone to interview:
I [was] left with one choice only, I will try Khamis phone number though his telephone now might be in the hand of his killers but I will do it, “No, I won’t do it.” “ I will do it.”

I dialed Khamis number, it is ringing, Oh, No, How is that it is still ringing? They must have thrown it somewhere.

I tried again and again till a woman answered me, Oh , My God, I asked her who is she?
Read on to find out who..

A stripey leopard

Last April I wrote of MSNBC's Blogging Baghdad blog:
Some just dont get it and make their own news reports in the format of a blog. Dear media company, looking like a blog does not make your news any better.
Now I must eat my words. Not only have they morphed into true blog with the compelling immediate stories that grab your attention, but you get the kind of uncorroborated hearsay that really explains what is happening. It is just so unlike the mainstream media. And on top of all that they link back to my Global Voices Iraq section! Here is a taster of their kind of reporting..
SCENE TWO: Street corner Sadr City. Midnight. The two young men are waiting outside for Abu Durra's men. Four cars arrive and pick up my friend and his friend. They drive in a convoy to an open market. It's closed for the night. My friend described to me what happened next.

"We drove into the market. It was empty. There was trash in the streets and the fruit and vegetable stands were all shut. We stopped the cars and Abu Durra's men took a man out of one of the cars. He was blindfolded and his hands were tied behind his back. They sat him down on the curb and shot him three or four times in the head."

"How many people did they execute while you were with them?" I wanted to know.

"Six or seven."

"And each time, they drove to a new place? Why? Were they worried the police or soldiers would come after hearing the gunshots?"

"No, they are the police and soldiers. They weren't worried about that at all. They were proud of what they were doing. They went from place to place so they would spread out that bodies. They wanted as many people to see what they had done."

Lets just hope it does not end up getting sanitised by some corporate suits who are worried about sounding too negative.

The Week in Politics

This week the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, announced an amnesty and reconcilliaiton plan and caused a string of comments. Truth About Iraqis is pleased:
"First, the Iraqi government seems to have realized it cannot pave a way forward with violence. This is good because it may... indicate that we Iraqis have learned from the horrors of the past. ... But some in the US military are incensed that Iraqis would seek national reconciliation and instead say the resistance engaged in terrorism against the United States."
And Omar of Iraq the Model is optimistic: "So far things seem to be progressing smoothly, but nice words and promises mean very little until they translate into real work; which is my hope." he writes.

But, others are not so encouraged. Ishtar reports that while "Maliki was declaring his reconciliation project, ... Mahdi army supported by the commandos of the ministry of Interior was busy launching attacks against Sunni dominated neighborhoods in Baghdad". She adds:
reconciliation is really what we need in this time, but I was expecting something more powerful, I feel I have heard all the items in this project before, there is nothing new, when I read it I felt as if I am having food without salt.

There was also some disagreement on who should be included in the amnesty. Mohammed believes an amnesty for those who have killed multinational forces would be a serious contradiction while Ladybird comes with the opposite opinion that "Maliki closed all the doors of reconciliation by making a conditional amnesty".

Meanwhile workers rights are disappearing. Baghdad Connect writes that "The Iraqi government froze all bank accounts belonging to the Federation of Oil Iraqi Workers inside and outside Iraq. This decision is in the wake of a series of actions taken against professional associations to include the Bar Association. And all [union] activities of the workers will be considered illegal."

Truth Teller has had enough. He declares:
YOU American if you can't control the security situation, leave now and let us solve our problems in our own way.

It will never be worse than the current situation. Three years of occupation and despite the daily statements of the US official about the progress in the security, the condition progress from bad to worse. Every day is worse than the previous.

Can any body imagine how the US super power together with the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi police and the allied forces from so many sources are all failed to control the chaos in this country.

This country was controlled in peace and security by the power of single Dictator.
Don't believe that this dictator killed people in his 35 years of control more than what was killed in 3 years of freedom and democracy under the US controls.

And Truth About Iraqis makes his peace with Israel:
The dictatorships, monarchies, and theocracies in the Middle East needed Israel to keep them in power. They could argue that they were at war, that stringent and desperate measures were needed. And that in order to “liberate” Palestine, billions needed to be spent.

Let us also examine the number of people that have been killed. And displaced? And become refugees? And … And … And …

So, my call on Arab governments and peoples – make peace, sue for peace, find some way to make peace, open up dialogue, enough is enough. We in this region have bled and bled and bled and nothing has changed.
But probably not on terms they would agree to:
Israel must withdraw to the 1967 borders and realize that economics, not the military, are the best ways to keep borders secure. ... Israel must also release Palestinian prisoners. ... Israel must tear down its wall, must end its sieges of Palestinian towns and villages, must stop its repressive policies in the areas it occupies. Of course, this will have to be taken step by step and with confidence-building measures on both sides.

In Other Worlds

Zeyad is in Jordan and after his bad impression of Jordanians when he arrived he had a pleasant meeting with Jordanian bloggers last week. He compares the Iraqi and Jordanian blogospheres:
We briefly discussed the deteriorating situation in Iraq and the state of the Iraqi blogosphere after the initial small talk. They seemed a tad surprised that there were no attempts back in Baghdad to arrange an Iraqi bloggers get-together at any point, a fact that I have lamented in some earlier posts. Salam Pax did once suggest a small meeting back in 2003, which never took place, and I tried the same last year during my blog hiatus when I collaborated with about 30 other Iraqi bloggers to create an Iraqi group blog, a listserv, and a portal (the site is dormant now). We learned at the time that about a dozen of us lived in the very same neigbourhood, but other than small meetings with 2 or 3 bloggers, there was no group meet up.

Jordanian bloggers, on the other hand, regularly meet and collaborate on several projects. They have a successful blog portal at Jordan Planet, which is also a good introduction to the growing Jordanian blogosphere. Bloggers in Egypt, Lebanon, Kuwait and Bahrain have also arranged several social gatherings, in addition to maintaining a strong blog conversation and interaction, despite political or ideological differences.

The Iraqi blogosphere, even though it was the first in the region, and probably still the largest, remains fractured and divided, with a few notable exceptions. All out attempts to establish a community or dialogue have miserably failed. Iraqi bloggers very rarely challenge or link to each other (I’m probably even guilty of this myself), and if they do they choose to link to bloggers who share their viewpoint. I don’t really think that is what blogging is about.
Iraqi blogs have passed 200 in number today, but less than a dozen are well known. This is largely because most bloggers live in a void. They are like isolated islands.

These comments stirred Emigre from a self imposed Iraqi blogging exile to respond:
Why is the Iraq blogsphere divided and who might be most responsible for the sniping?

Unfortunately, a lot of this, from what I could tell during my time blog counting, was coming from American and perhaps eastern European dissidents. Often from characters who were constantly pretending to be right-wingers in a way that exceeds standard sarcasm. Copy-cat offenders, I would call them. Which pissed me off no-end. These people did not seem to get the message that some other net dwellers find that kind of behaviour tiresome and unproductive.

What might be a solution?

I really am not sure there is one. I would tend to say it might be better not to expect one at all. I never really did. I do deplore disharmony, but loathe it as I may I'm not sure it's something humanity can ever really over come.

And, a sign of hard times ahead: The security situation has forced Iraq's only cat blogger to emigrate to the UAE. She writes, "to keep my self from getting hurt I have to leave my country, my family, my friends, and my cats, all I can do now is hope that I'll be able to return back to Iraq one day and that things will be different from what it is now. But I promise that I'll never stop blogging no matter where I am."

And finally

There are good ways and bad ways of closing down comments in your blog. The best I have seen so far is to blame the gods.
Dear Readers,

The goddesses of Ishtar have decided to close the comments section until further deliberation with the God Shamash.

And after my deliberations with the God Shamash I will be back with more reviews of the blogodrome next week.