After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Flying Over Iraqi Blogodrome

Literally this time. I am writing this as my flight to Dubai is actually flying over Iraqi airspace. First time ever.

If I were to give a true summary of the Iraqi blogs these past weeks it would be one of sadness, death, and violence. But I am not going to dwell on such matters it is depressing and achieves nothing. Today I will concentrate on politics. With the situation in Iraq becoming beyond bearable for Iraqi people, several blogger are looking the future, asking questions trying to see ways out of the mess. But first...

If you read no other blog post this week read this.

Faiza al Arji (mother to Iraqi bloggers Raed, Khalid and Majid) visited her, now empty, family house in Baghdad. After seeing the house empty and all covered in thick dust, she wrote:
I felt sad, and felt how heavy the sadness is on my heart.
I walked out silently, quietly. My relative walking behind me, also silent, without a word. I stood at the top of the marble and wood staircase in the center of the house, and looked down at my son Khalid's computer downstairs; he left the loudspeakers on the sofa, and the camera fixed on the screen, everything in its place as if the people of the house will be back in a short while, and dust covered all of these.

I looked at the big chandelier in the middle of the house, and found that dust marred its brilliance and beauty too…

I gave the whole house a sweeping sorry glance. I remembered the war, the chaos, robberies, thefts and assassinations, the immigration of my brother, the owner of the house; a doctor, his fear for himself and his family, my leaving my former house to this one here because the old one was in an area near the Airport Road, the heart of the battle against the occupation, with daily explosions, and broken window glass.
Then I remembered the story of my son Khalid's kidnapping from university, his arrest, being put at the Interior Ministry for twelve days accused of terrorism, for nothing more than having a beard! How this family endured these difficult days, then they let him go because he was innocent, and because we paid a ransom for him, and decided to leave Iraq, like thousands of families did, before and after us…

I remembered how the family separated; Khalid studying at a university outside Amman, I see him once a week, Majid studying in Cairo, Raid lives in America to work for Iraq, and I work with different organizations to help the devastated and the displaced from Iraq.

I started to burst into tears. My relative came to consol me; Are you crying for the furniture? Because of the dust? Tomorrow, a woman will come to clean the house…

I told him through my tears: No, I do not cry for the furniture, let it go to hell. I cry for my country which was shattered, my family which scattered, the Iraqis who were killed, the blood that was shed, and the devastation that spread. All the Iraqis are like me, what happened to them also befell me….
I kept crying bitterly, but he dragged me, and removed me out of the house in spite of me, so I would be quiet….

"What is going on in Iraq?" is on the lips of so many people these days. Sectarian politics has turned into open combat and many ask questions and some look for answers.

hala_s watches remembrance day in Britain and remembers the Iraqis.
I sat there watching, reading and wondering about our unknown soldiers and unknown victims; who will list them and pray for them? Who will compensate our children for their stolen childhood? Who will compensate our youth for the lost years?

I cannot stop myself from thinking that the prosperity and stability in here were only accomplished because countries like ours live in hell.

They initiate wars to get cheaper fuel for themselves, they starve Africa to get better food and they incite hatred to cause civil wars and find markets for their filthy arms business. ...

When I ask my family and friends back home whether it is better for the foreign troops to leave us alone, I find their answers more confusing. They became accustomed to the fear they know and cannot take another shock. ...

Once there was love, once there was hope and once there were memories.
Now there is nothing, and if there will come a day when this nightmare is over, I am sure no one will want to remember.

There will be no remembrance day for us.

Mohammed reports that Iraqis have lost faith in the current govenment but argues against removing it until a new coalition is assembled from Iyad Allawi's bloc, the Kurds and people "from within the parliament in addition to liberal powers that weren't lucky enough to reach the parliament". How?
The only means is explicit, direct support from the United States to this future partner. Everything is allowed in war and since Iran or other countries support this or that harmful party then America has the right, and the moral obligation, to support a party of its choice. America is in Iraq now and in order to create a cover of legitimacy to any political or military solution, a strong Iraqi partner must first exist.

Salam Adil (that's me) explains that the civil war is being driven by support from outside forces and America has lost any control of the situation in Iraq. His suggestion? America should "sacrifice Israel to win Iraq":
By forcing Israel into a humiliating withdrawal from occupied Palestine and the Golan Heights, America will focus the attention of the Arab states away from Iraq and towards the Palestinians. It will give Syria and Iran confidence to turn away from supporting insurgents and accept deals with the US. And the warring parties in Iraq, seeing that they are losing support from outside, will have no other choice but sue for peace.

Fatima gives a 6-point plan.
1. Close the border with Iran and Syria and literally threaten Iran with extreme military retaliation if the situation in Iraq does not improve.
2. Clamp down militarily on the most problematic militia (Jaysh Al-Mehdi) kill or arrest the field commanders and senior leadership. Once that happens the other militias will take heed...
3. Change the present government. The problem is when parties are above the law because of their militias they are not prone to compromise, force them to when they no longer have their militias and Iraq will be a different place today.
4. Threaten immediate US withdrawal and the parties will all compromise because the Sunnis have more to gain from a civil war than the Shia do.
5. Give Sunnis a reason to go against Alqaeda and other extremists. Presently they are seen as the only solution to US and Shia agression against them.
6. Change the posture in Anbar, let the Sunnis feel that the US is not against them.

LORD was inspired by some questions posed by Luke of Olivebranch to pose his own solution to the violent situation:
The first step would be to ban all religious and sectarian parties, the second step would be getting rid of all who came with the occupation, and put them to trial for treason, this step would include following anyone who fled the country and confiscating all their assets. All the terrorists are included in this too, with the exception of the national patriotic resistance. The third step would be forming a national patriotic government and putting Iraqi nationalists into office, the choosing of which would only be based on merit regardless of sectarian, ethnic, or religious belonging. The fourth step would be to restore all Iraqis to their original jobs and annulment on any laws that incriminate thoughts, beliefs, or principles. No individual should be incriminated without hard evidence and beyond any reasonable doubt. The fifth step would national reconciliation, letting go of all the mistakes of the past, starting over and putting whatever happened before behind our backs. The last step in the most important and crucial step in building the Iraqi future. Revenge will get us nowhere to say the least, in fact revenge is one of the reason we are where we are today.

Iraq Atheist looks to a solution. Among his suggests are:
[the Americans] bring troops two or three times as much and make them take over, stay for two years and then pull out, with no bases or troops left.

Toppling this government for at least these two years and running the government by someone like Sali7 Al Mu6leg; a former Baathist who would win the hearts of most Sunnis. Or an Arab king or prince, who would be hated by all Iraqis and perhaps then Iraqis will have something in common.

taking control over mosques in all Iraq by the army of Saddam and appointing preachers who are controlled by the government.

Taking control of the holy shrines ... under the pretext of protecting their authenticity and safety. (Personally, I would like to see them levelled to ground, if you have seen the movie V for Vendetta, you would understand!!)

Konfused Kid, senses the end is nigh for the Sunni resistance in Iraq:
With Saddam, the Ba'athist figure, and al-Dhari, the Sunni Muslim figure being chased, the s**tstorm prediction may be sooner than u think, hang on to your toilets.

I can really smell it, and to tell you something, I am relieved. Cut the teasing and just get it over with, we are getting sleepy.

Neurotic Wife looks at all the failed reconstruction by America in the past and makes her own suggetion:
Dont spend more on reconstruction, spend more on rebuilding the person. The Iraqi person. The Iraqi human. Take away his fear by reinforcing laws and rules. Get rid of the current government that proved to the Iraqis and the world where its allegiance is with. Invest in building lives rather than concrete structures. Do what you preach and live by your words "Winning the Hearts and Minds". Instead of the billions lost on concrete and foundations, spend the rest by helping people get on their feet. HUBBY once said, if all the money that was spent here was distributed amongst the Iraqi families in a fair manner, you will never see an insurgent on the street. You will not hear of stories like "such and such militia paid so and so a $100 just to kill someone for no reason". People wouldnt be in need to do such things. People wouldnt be in need to survive.

The last word goes to Zappy who suggests that Iraqi Bloggers should form their own militia:
Dear Iraqi Bloggers "inside Baghdad" how about we set up a Milita?

Maybe we would do much better than the Idiots in parlament, at least Im sure we would smell better.

And Finally... Sunshine keeps bringing light to the people around her. Apart from collecting money to help send a child with a heart problem for treatment abroad she collected money to help her classmate R. R lost her father as well as 6 other relatives to the violence in Iraq. I'll let Sunshine tell the story:
In this week , I decided to collect money to buy a computer for R , (my best friend who lost her dad as well as 6 relatives ), and I collected so good amount of money , I can't wait till I see her impressions when I will bring the computer to school , I think it is really nice present ...

I teach R how to use computer twice a week ( we have old computers in school ) . she feel comfortable to talk to me , because she's sure that I will not tell any one about her problems, when I reach home I burst with tears , she is living in such hard circumstances, and her financial condition is really bad , I try to help her in simple things , like buy her stuff she needs , or in any possible way I can do , like in computer lesson , the teacher wanted us to create a computer program , she said "if you don't know you will have to go to a programmer and pay for him, but that will cost a lot " ... Anariki and The Kid helped me making the program and I added R's name next to mine in this project , as well as S my other best friend .

the computer teacher is so mean with R , she say " why don't you have computer ? ","are you illiterates ?"," only people who are …. You know don't have computers"" she means poor people , or" are you still illiterates" , " everyone have computers in their houses ? " can you believe that anyone in this world can say such things to a poor orphan ? I went to another teacher and told her , R really get hurt from the teacher's word , not all of the people in the world are rich and have computers .

Anyway I told R that I bought her a computer ( I didn’t until now , but I told her I did ,so that she can't refuse taking the present, pride issues again) , she refused first , but I convinced her hardly and told her that my relatives sell computes and they didn’t take so much money from me , ( she believed that , heheheh ) I don't lie , but I had to this time . she's extremely happy, but she still have doubts that we might be kidding or it's just a jock , but she will be sure that I am serious when the computer will be in her bedroom .
I told her because the girls condition was to tell R first , and if she agree they will bring the money ..
R's dad bought them a computer desk , and a chair before he died , he was planning to buy the computer on Sunday , but unfortunately he was killed on Thursday .
And you know there is hope when you read stories like these.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sacrifice Israel to Win Iraq

The deadly stalemate continues in Iraq. But this is a stalemate that can actively lead to a world war if Iraq is allowed to break up.

Instead of going into generalizations here is a scenario for how this could play out. The Shia are by far the biggest section of the population in Iraq, but the Sunnis are the best armed and organized. If the civil war is allowed to continue the Shia will want control of Baghdad. But the Sunnis will fight tooth and nail to prevent them or they end up stuck in a useless, land-locked piece of desert. Given their high level of support from Sunni states and communities around the Middle East, the Sunnis will end up being well armed and supported to defend themselves. In the face of this, Iran will be forced to intervene in kind and help Iraq's Shia, also, with arms. And this will create another bloody stalemate but this time the Sunni regimes and Iran will end up directly involved in the fighting. With Iran being drawn into a war in Iraq, the US will be forced to intervene to protect their oil interests. Now, Iran is not a small country and any conflict with the US is going to be huge. Seeing that their strategic interests are going to be compromised, a war between the US and Iran will draw in Russia (who will certainly not want to see an American ruled Iran) and may go as far as drawing in China. Then things may start to get messy.

So what is the way out? This civil war will continue in earnest until one side or another realizes they will eventually lose. And this will not happen in the current climate where the concentration of the whole region is on Iraq. The Americans, after starting this fire, have become irrelevant. Their army is incapable of controlling one city let alone putting a cap on a civil war. This leaves America with only place where they have any leverage - Israel. By forcing Israel into a humiliating withdrawal from occupied Palestine and the Golan Heights, America will focus the attention of the Arab states away from Iraq and towards the Palestinians. It will give Syria and Iran confidence to turn away from supporting insurgents and accept deals with the US. And the warring parties in Iraq, seeing that they are losing support from outside, will have no other choice but sue for peace.

Of course, this presumes there are still rational thinkers in the American government. Chances are neither scenario will happen. The Americans will dither until they are forced into another rooftop evacuation like Vietnam. The civil war will rumble on till both sides are exhausted and the American people, having no stomach for war, will simply sit by and watch every vestige of American influence in the Middle East disappear.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

Crimson rain,vermillion mane
And few people walking, few people sane
From Carmine and Cardinal to Persian Red
To Falu to Gules to just a Red, plain!

From Scarlett of screens and the Five of Maroon
Alluding all voices and blurring your noon
You wonder and ponder then what to do
It goes on and goes on then red comes your moon!

There in the menu, Rouge comes some Wine
Harvesting little heads a drink that is fine
Hue from Sangria to justly Cerise
I serve you Grails then your soul is mine!

From brighter to darker, Red shades of blood
Of Rosso Corsa to the roads they all flood
So speedy, so fierce of Fire Engine flames
To a crash in red, and ends in a thud!

In brighter or darker, all shades of Red
Could come your joy or what you dread!

Shades of Red by Pumpkin Nibbler

As far as politics is concerned, it seems as if three years have been crammed into a single week. The week in politics follows how Iraqi bloggers have responded to the seismic shifts. For a change, only happy stories in the words from the street and if you read to the end find out what really goes on in the mind of an undergraduate university student.

If you read no other blogs this week read these:

Prompted by a reaction from his friend to a video of the everyday horror in Iraq, Baghdad Treasure collects the most powerful stories he has seen in the Iraqi blogs since the war started. He writes "I am going to be speechless and leave the podium for the courageous Iraqi bloggers to talk about one of the dozens of the horrifying incidents they went through since the invasion in 2003. But keep in mind that each story is one incident that is still happening everyday for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people." Essential reading..

As the civil war grinds on the front lines are constantly shifting. This week it moved to Nabil's neighbourhood:
3 terrifying days had passed in Adhamiah District (Sunni district), tons of mortars had fell on the area....the targets were random...about 50 innocent people were killed..hunderds are injured...lots of houses are fully destroyed...streets are ruined.....

As what the people in that district said..that gunmen are surrounding the area...killing people..shooting mortars randomly...and we can do nothing to stop them...

'Too little too late' does not even begin to describe the inadequacy of the government reaction...
Maliki goes on Tv screen...says that he opened an investigation on from where these mortars are being fired...

If you want to gain a feeling of what it is like to live on the front lines look no further. Baghdad Treasure receives an email from his friend Ahmed detailing seven days of hell in his area of Baghdad. Well, maybe worse, "At least you could be able to get the hell out of hell", Ahmed writes.

The Week in Politics

Its only been a week and Iraqi Politics has been turned on its head. Saddam has been sentenced to death, the architect of the war has resigned, Bush is eating humble pie and the Americans are seriously considering talking to the 'Axis of Evil'.

The changes have left some bloggers struggling to keep up. Omar at Iraq the Model writes: "I'm truly shocked to see this unprecedented level of impotent thought coming out from London and from no less than Blair. ... Not only that, he's going to ask Washington to do that same and it seems the latter is considering it. Am I missing something here or what?" And Iraqi Pundit cannot understand the silence from the Democrats to mockery from Al-Qaeda and Iran of America after their election victory:
Al Qaeda and Iran are both gloating over the U.S. election results ... The White House has declined to comment on these statements, but what about the Democrats? Doesn't it behoove the Democrats to correct the claim that their ascension to power is good news for the enemies of the U.S.? ... Speak up, Democrats, or Al Qaeda and the Iranian mullahs will find your silence only too eloquent.

Others are just plain happy. Baghdad Dweller congratulates the Iraqi Insurgency and American voters for bring down Rumsfeld and the news made Abu Khalil just a little optimistic for the first time in a year. He writes:
I listened carefully to what George Bush ,, had to say! It brought an unfamiliar warmth to my old heart to see that man, who brought so much death and destruction to my country, broken. He couldn't hide that. It was written all over him!

Another of the President's Men going down? Rummy, who had the President's full confidence? Arrogant, murderous, contemptuous Rummy?

I am not a Democrat. But those two items made my day.

Can an Iraqi hope now? Perhaps a little.

Ibn al Rafidain responds to one of Bush's speeches where he said:
"… [American and Iraqi forces] cleared neighborhoods of terrorists and death squads"
Ibn al Rafidain disagrees, giving strong examples, saying that terrorists are training a new generation of thugs in the same way Saddam used to by coaching children to take part in acts of violence yet there has been no attempt to investigate the killings.

A last word on Saddam's death sentence comes from LORD who gives an alternative Iraqi point of view that should be heard. He is, to put it lightly, not happy:
This is was not a happy moment for me, it was a shameful moment. Don’t get me wrong, I only want justice to be done, this, sadly, was not justice, it was revenge. And revenge, my dear friends, will lead us nowhere. An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind. ,,, To every Iraqi who is happy about this verdict, I ask this… how are you better than Saddam? How is Hakim, Maliki, Jafari, Dulaimi better than Saddam? How is bush better than Saddam? Again, I am not happy, I am shamed. This verdict means we are still not ready to move on. This verdict means we don’t agree on things we agree upon. I am sorry, but I am not happy.

Words from the Streets

At least in Basrah things appear to be looking up. Fayrouz get an email from her friend Queen Amidala:
If you ask a Basrawi: Has there been any improvements in Basra lately?

If the answer is NO, then this person is either blind or not living in Basra. There is a very important improvement in Basra and the coalition forces are not involved in it. The Southern Oil Company in Basra is making a great self-effort to rehabilitate the sidewalks of all the main streets in Basra. Now, the sidewalks look much cleaner than before. It makes everybody feel there's at least an improvement in our lives. We haven't had any improvement in a very long time.

Aunt Najma gives an update of her Books for Mosul University project which is going from strength to strength. She recently received 27 books from Arkansas State University and many thanks go to Dan Cline. And even more good news:
The package arrived after a month of its shipment, in two very heavy boxes, sealed and unopened at the post office like the previous packages I've received. This proved that mail in Iraq is really working and isn't being stolen at the post office.

New blogger, Iraqi Atheist gives an alternative perspective to Fridays in Iraq. "it is by far the most boring of all days of the week" he writes. Why?
The first reason is that there is no work on it, yeah, believe it or not, people in Iraq actually miss school or work since they're their only get aways of their super boring houses and the over-seen TV. ...

One other reason Friday is so boring in here is because of the sermon and the prayer that is practiced by muslims, my house is surrounded by several big mosques one sunni and two shiite, and we have to listen to them for 4 or 5 hours reading Quran and praying and preaching mental inanition. Also no vehicles are allowed to run all that boring time so we are locked inside our houses.

Well I hope I get through Friday one piece, you never know when one side tries to missile the other and poor innocent civilians may die...

And Finally

Riot Starter is turning out to be a serial blogger. Since starting university she declares that she has stopped blogging as herself but is now "Pumpkin Nibbler". And her new blog follows the conversations and desires off her group of first-year university students. Her description is truly frightening. Are they really all that shallow? ...
Chopstick was looking really upset when she'd heard the news that Tall Cute Guy might be seeing Tall Cheap Girl. She actually hit me on the head with the binder, working by the quote "DO kill the messenger".

Tall Cute Guy and Tall Cheap Girl don't seem to be getting along. She didn't get the name out of the blue, she's throwing himself all over him, and he occasionally seems like he will throw up all over her. Chopstick sees that, Chopstick keeps hitting me with the binder. Chopstick finally takes a swing at me and goes home. Meanwhile Pointe is wondering what the fuss is about, Tall Cute Guy is an ordinary looking guy, Tall Cheap Girl is just cheap. They're too concieted. Why is Chopstick upset?

Betty Boop, meanwhile, is too busy hitting on a Medicine Senior. Doing an excessive amount of sighing, accidental brushing (If, by any means, accidental means willful). The senior, Carter, keeps covering his face and wishing the ground would open up and swallow one of them, preferably her.
At which point I run out of the blogodrome screaming.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Saddam at the Iraqi Blogodrome

Goodbye Iraq's butcher;
may you never grow in our dreams.
You were the farce that placed itself
where lives were torn apart.
You called out to our country,
and you tormented those already in pain.
Now you belong to hell,
and in shame we spell out your name.
And even though we try,
the truth brings us to tears;
all our words cannot express
the nightmares you brought us through the years.
Goodbye Iraq's butcher,
from a country lost with or without you,
we won't miss your iron fist
not that you ever cared.

Poem by ihath

Iraqi bloggers all reacted immediately to the announcement of the death penalty for former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The responses are as varied as there are bloggers but I see out of these one common thread comes through. That there is a sense of some relief that one painful chapter of Iraqi history has passed even though some do not see an end to the current one.

If you read no other posts read these:

Hala_s gives her support to the execution verdict and roundly criticizes those who complain about the trial.
So what! This is what he deserves. A theatrical court! Again so what isn’t it better than no court at all?

A lot are worried about the injustice the trial reflected.

A simple Iraqi man had the best answer and said on TV, “Those who think of it this way have never been ruled by a dictator and simply have no idea what dictatorship means”.

...Hasn’t anyone thought of how important it is to recognise the real cause of our conflict and who was behind it in the first place?
Let us forget about his crimes, who brought the Americans over?
If we don’t learn from the past there would be no future for us.

The western media iwas even worse, “Shia and Kurds are celebrating and Sunnis are lamenting!” How come I don’t meet with those Sunnis?

The British tried to stir up strife between Shia and Sunni from 1917 to 1958 and failed. The Iraqis natural and impulsive unity and love for each other wouldn’t allow it. While after nearly 50 years it took them few months to cause this uproar.

Who do you think is responsible for turning us to a fertile land for this?

Chikitia gives the essential history of what it was like having grown up in Saddam's Iraq. From early childhood where she was taught in school to love Saddam through to the slow build up of anger as she became aware of all the injustice around her:
I grew angrier when I learned that the Kuwait gimmick proved to be a green-eyed monster in disguise. I grew angrier when my high school chum told me how bitter it felt to be fatherless, knowing that her dad was actually alive and kicking in Iranian dungeons, paying the price for a reckless kid's passion for adventure. I grew angrier when a friend of mine told me that she was once married to a communist whose body was found in a mass grave in Nasiriya...
Chikitita called that friend after the verdict was announced, expecting her to be happy, but:
She was in tears.

"Get outta here don't tell me you feel bad?" I teased ...

"Well I do! My neighbour lost her sons. The militia killed the four of them and wrote Wahabis on their door! I've known them for 30 years, for God's sake!" she said.

"So not feeling good about the verdict, eh?" I asked.

"He killed my husband, but I have never been as scared for my son as I am now," she said."
Riverbend expected the verdict but she wonders what is left for America to do:
I’m more than a little worried. This is Bush’s final card. The elections came and went and a group of extremists and thieves were put into power (no, no- I meant in Baghdad, not Washington). The constitution which seems to have drowned in the river of Iraqi blood since its elections has been forgotten. ... Reconstruction is an aspiration from another lifetime ... Things must be deteriorating beyond imagination if Bush needs to use the ‘Execute the Dictator’ card. ...

It’s not about the man- presidents come and go, governments come and go. It’s the frustration of feeling like the whole country and every single Iraqi inside and outside of Iraq is at the mercy of American politics. It is the rage of feeling like a mere chess piece to be moved back and forth at will. It is the aggravation of having a government so blind and uncaring about their peoples needs that they don’t even feel like it’s necessary to go through the motions or put up an act. And it's the deaths. The thousands of dead and dying, with Bush sitting there smirking and lying about progress and winning in a country where every single Iraqi outside of the Green Zone is losing.

Opinions from around the blogodrome

Iraq the Model sees the verdict as a step towards democracy:
This is the beginning to build the foundations for the state of law and accountability we're fighting to establish, and the verdict we expect to come tomorrow will ... send a strong message to some of the current mini-Saddam's of Iraq who will also have their own days someday.

I'm speaking about the leaders who try to hinder the process of building the nation of pluralism and rule of law; those are just as criminal as Saddam and even if we bore with them so far for one reason or another this patience will not last indefinitely.

We had waited for thirty years to see Saddam in the cage and we will wait again to see the rest of criminals meet the same just fate.

Hammorabi agrees: "this is not going to bring back the beloved ones that he killed to their families but at least it will sooth their long-lasting inflamed wounds and above all it will help to prevent similar things to happen not only in Iraq but elsewhere. The sentence of Saddam is a step forward for the end of a dark period on the life of Iraq and the world. This may give more hope for the Iraqis and stability in the region."

Asterism (that's me) smells irony. I commented that with Saddam executed the Baathist opposition in Iraq will be defeated. And now, after failing to defeat the Mehdi Army militarily and through pressure on the Iraqi government, "America has handed the Mehdi Army the defeat of its biggest internal opposition in Iraq on a plate."

Nibras Kazimi also sees the end of the Baathists and the insurgency:
From the very beginning, the Ba’athist strategy in launching the insurgency was to re-instate Saddam Hussein. ... And all this energy expended in cunning, propaganda, guerrilla warfare and bringing the country to a sectarian boil was for one crazy goal: bringing back Saddam. ... Today, we learn that the insurgency is doomed, and that the insurgents know that they are facing doom. And today, they have come to recognize doom in whatever length of rope is necessary to hang a man—indeed, to hang an era.

Marshmallow26 has a sense of hope from the verdict. She writes, "It is true that the history will remark this event as the end to all those black days in Iraq’s History correlated to the long stretch of 35-year time… But hopefully it will recover and heal up all wounds of our nation, and makes it to stand up on its feet again and show to the whole world of what a united cites subjected to one country we are, and what a great people Iraqis are…"

Ishtar interviews two Iraqis who both lost family to Saddam. The first a Sunni from Tikrit whose father was killed by Saddam for plotting his assasination:
He went on to say but after the topple of Saddam and the instalment of a new government who claims to be in opposition of Saddam, we thought our family would be rewarded as it had sustained a big damage because of my father, in the contrary, my eldest brother house was cordoned by the vehicle of the ministry of Interior and its men ... kidnapped my brother who is 36 yr and after 24 hour we found his body dumped in the trash.

Since that time, I with my family and his family are moving from one place to another in fear of death squads, and you want me to be happy?!!!

The other was an old man who lost his only son for being a member of the Shia Dawa party:
He said, “ I began to envy the people who were considered as martyrs in time of Saddam, at least, he used to grant them permanent salary, car and piece of land and a salary for their parents, what did Dawa party give me for my son? only car bombs and IEDS.

Raed Jarrar looks at the American hand behind the verdict:
The bankrupt bush administration seems to be planning ... to announce saddam’s death verdict ... in a pathetic attempt to manufacture a small victory in Iraq to effect the mid-term elections. After 16 years of wars, sanctions, invasions and an ongoing occupation, the only victories that the bush gang is still celebrating in Iraq, after capture of the former ally and showing him in his underwear, is executing him now.

At the same time that millions of Iraqis were and are still being killed, injured, and displaced because of the U.S. interventions, at the same time that the Iraqi social fabric is being destroyed and turned into fragments, at the same time that Iraq as a state is being “wiped off the map” and cut apart, at the same time that everyday in Iraq is worse than the day before, and at the same time that tens of thousand of U.S. solders are being killed, injured, and traumatized for the rest of their lives and trillions of the U.S. taxpayers money wasted, the one and only victory that the bush administration can claim is hanging the former dictator.

Zeyad, however, thinks the timing is unrelated to the US mid-term elections but takes issue with Americans who see the verdict as a sign of progress in Iraq:
Take a look at the celebrating Iraqis on the streets: whose posters are they carrying? This is not as much a celebration of the death of Saddam as much as it’s a celebration of the birth of new tyrants and warlords. The tide has turned forever. The new victors in Iraq are the followers of Sadr and Hakim, and as the Ba’athists and Sunni insurgents and jihadists become more localised and irrelevant, the next conflict will be between those two. The way I see it now, the breakup of Iraqi is inevitable. It is already a fact on the ground and there will be nothing but bloodshed in the near future. Is that a milestone for Iraq?

Neurotic Wife does not want Saddam dead. She says: "He got away, way too easy... Way way too easy... With just a pull of a rope, he will be gone, but the mothers, the orphans, the fathers, the sons, everyone, everyone who lost their dear and beloved will never forget him nor forgive him...Never... To suffer in a tiny cubicle of a cell, with no toilet, no clean water, no good food is what he was supposed to get...Exactly like what he used to give...To say I want him tortured is an understatement. No International Court of Law will allow what I have in my mind for that criminal...Hanging him is a great great pity..."

The last word goes to Shalash al-Iraqi as translated by Zeyad:
I have extremely conflicting emotions, as if I’m standing in a huge rubbish dump, and they want me to smell old rubbish. I’ve forgotten Saddam’s crimes when faced with the atrocities of brutal crimes we experience today. I am choking with death and they want me to remember the deaths of my grandfathers. ...

We do not want the enemies of national unity to exploit this event by killing our people in the name of revenge for Saddam Hussein, when they are far from being his supporters, or for others to dance with joy for the sentence, when they are liars. Because there is nothing we have gained from his fall except death, death and death, and fear, fear and fear.

I do not deny that Saddam was a dictator. Show me one person in the Green Zone who is democratic, even on TV.

I do not deny that Saddam was brutal, terrifying and mystifying. Are the brothers in the Green Zone angels of mercy?

Saddam used to appoint his relatives and party members. Do you want me to bang on my head?

Saddam stole the people’s riches. Do you want me to tear off my clothes?

Saddam was a traitor. Do you want me to hurl myself on the floor?

Saddam was sectarian. No. I have to laugh at this one. ...

We came out of Saddam’s night, but we fell into a well, when will we come out?

And Finally...

Konfused Kid reviews the trial as one would review a movie...

Asked about his performance on the trial, Saddam Hussein said that he could've done a lot better and that his performance sounded robotic and uneven, no where near his accolade-earning performances in earlier seasons, while we all respect the great multiple-award winning figure for his fiery and inspirational performances...


While the script was predictable to a great degree, the writers did an especially nice job by some neat touches here and there, there was an ingenious scene where Saddam Hussein, upon hearing his death sentence, shouted: "Allahu Akbar", and a watcher above also said the exact same words - except Saddam said it in protest of the court's injustice while the wather applauded that court's integrity....such an ironic and fascinating display...


The director does an absoluetly brilliant job as always, the visuals are slick and Saddam's make-up is absolutely spot-on, every camera captures a sublte nuance and the special effects are downright spectacular. Brilliant.

and ... cut!

Monday, November 06, 2006


is probably the only word to describe the death penalty passed to Saddam today. I would say good riddance to him for too many reasons which you can read in other Iraqi blogs. But American politicians will not be celebrating. The biggest victor from this will be the Mehdi Army.

One thing I have learnt from all these years of observing world events is that wars are won and lost on the moral of the people. The Baathists in Iraq held on to dream that one day they will restore their dictator to power. With the execution order this dream has gone. Saddam will be executed and they will be powerless to stop it. They may posture and bluster but they are defeated.

The Mehdi Militia has successfully broken two America plots to attack it through the Iraqi government. The first when Malaki publicly refused American insistence to force his government to disband this militia. The second when the American army was humiliatingly made to disband a blockade of the militia's stronghold of Sadr City.

Now America has handed the Mehdi Army the defeat of its biggest internal opposition in Iraq on a plate. Not that I relish the prospect of an Iraq ruled by the Mehdi Army but the irony is so thick you can taste it.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

If you read no other blog posts this week read these

Today I present a series of must-reads from the Iraqi blogodrome. Each one is powerful and not to be missed in its own way.

It took a huge email exchange between Iraqi bloggers, but the rumble over the Lancet study estimating 650,000 Iraqi deaths prompted Riverbend to post for the first time in more than two months. She writes:
This has been the longest time I have been away from blogging... Every time I felt the urge to write about Iraq, about the situation, I'd be filled with a certain hopelessness that can't be put into words
I and every Iraqi blogger knows this feeling all too well. She continues:
It's very difficult at this point to connect to the internet and try to read the articles written by so-called specialists and analysts and politicians. They write about and discuss Iraq as I might write about the Ivory Coast or Cambodia -- with a detachment and lack of sentiment that, I suppose, is meant to be impartial. Hearing American politicians is even worse: They fall between idiots like Bush -- constantly and totally in denial, and opportunists who want to use the war and ensuing chaos to promote themselves. ...

So far, the only Iraqis I know pretending this number is outrageous are either out-of-touch Iraqis abroad who supported the war, or Iraqis inside of the country who are directly benefiting from the occupation ($) and likely living in the Green Zone...

We literally do not know a single Iraqi family that has not seen the violent death of a first or second-degree relative these last three years. Abductions, militias, sectarian violence, revenge killings, assassinations, car-bombs, suicide bombers, American military strikes, Iraqi military raids, death squads, extremists, armed robberies, executions, detentions, secret prisons, torture, mysterious weapons – with so many different ways to die, is the number so far fetched?
To appreciate the power of her writing one should look to the reaction of western bloggers. Billmon, a prominent America political blogger was driven to write:
The point deserves frequent repetition: We did this. We caused it. We're not just callous bystanders to genocide, as in Rwanda, but the active ingredient that made it possible. We turned Iraq into a happy hunting ground for Al Qaeda and the Mahdi Army. If Iraq is now a failed state, it's because of our failures. ... There was something about Riverbend's quiet despair that forced me to think hard about my own moral responsibility as an American for a genocide caused by America -- because of a war started in my name, paid for with my taxes. ... I've spoken against it, written against it, marched against it, supported and contributed to politicians I generally despise because I thought (wrongly) that they might do something to stop it. It's why I took up blogging, why I started this blog.

But the question Riverbend has forced me to ask myself is: Did I do enough? And the only honest answer is no.

Salam Pax video blogs for the BBC. He gets to visit the Saddam trial and gives us the "Salam Pax guide to the Iraqi High Criminal Court". His conclusion is most siginificant. He observes: "The death pain and violence this war has inflicted on us Iraqis has stripped this moment of its significance. I think we need to achieve peace first and then we can think about justice." I wonder how quickly these words will be forgotten in the media circus following the verdict of the Saddam trial.

A Struggle Against Cancer. Marshmallow26 posts a tribute to her mother who died of cancer in 1997. She writes of her mother's struggle against the disease and how the family had to work against the sanctions on Iraq at the time in order to bring medicines to treat her. It takes only the strongest soul not to shed a tear reading this post. Here is an excerpt:
On the day of November 1st 1997, which I consider it as the black day in my life…the most fuliginous day in my life…in that morning I was washing the dishes and I heard my MOM was calling me and my sister, girls come on to mama I want to see you before I go…
I told my sister, what is she talking about??? She opened her eyes and looked at both of us as she was recovering from coma, I will never ever forget that excerpt. She said “you two take care of your selves and your dad,” then she pointed to the corner of her room and said “Oh, my mother is waiting for me, I have to go, I have to go, I love you daughters,”
Then she went back to coma, I started crying severely at that time, because I realized that was the end…my sister did the same.

Zappy writes about "Them".
“They” came in more than ten cars, each car had four Armed men in it, they closed the street from both sides, they entered the house and abducted a young man, they put him in the trunk of a Car, I called 130 [the police] six times, continuously the phone rang without any answer.

I was standing in the Roof with my AK-47 and just stared at them.

This is the first time I witness such an event, and I felt so hopeless, there were too many of them.

A better way to report the news.. In Mecca recently Iraqi religious leaders got together to issue an edict forbidding sectarian bloodletting. Iraq the Model did not believe that this would lead to any reduction in violence. And Konfused Kid reports on the conference with his "Bulls**t monitor" in full operation. If only all news reports came with one of these:
REPORTER 1: Do you have any mechanism for implementing your edict on the ground? (actual question was more decorated than this)
KHOSH-WALAD SAMARRIE 1: blah-blah yaddad yadda peace and prosperity, but we hope that Iraqis are naturally good and this is the last night of Ramadhan.
REPORTER 2: Do you have any method by which you can apply your fatwa in Iraq?
FROWNY-JALAL TURBAN 2: wiggilie-wiggilie peace humpty dumpty love sumbul bulaybul dumbk dunaibuk understanding.
REPORTER 3: Excuse me, but on terms of a practical appreciation of your document, do you expect that it will be endorsed and applied (same question reworded)
THE COORDINATING GUY IN THE MIDDLE: All right buddy, you asked for it, this is the top religious clergy here, we tell you how in which direction to shit and how many papers you use to wipe your arse, we are here to say that blood is forbidden, it is up for the Iraqis, the natural loving and peaceful nation to endorse it, if they do not - we have made ourselves clear on the matter.

Konfused Kid also gives the essential explaination of why at times of war and failed states, people rally behind sectarian militias:
Anyone who calls for peace is shut-up by the realities of life as it is, everybody is so afraid of each other, I remember when Zarqawi died and I went to the mosque to listen to the Friday speech in an Adhamiya mosque, the Imam was practically crying! Nobody wants militas or Zarqawi, but everybody is so afraid of the other now, there is no trust.

Unless the National Reconcillation gimmick targets those who you should really make up your peace with, the blood-soaked Baathists, the backbone of the insurgency, who had their homes and money but now lost it all and are giving Iraqis and Americans a hard time about it, it will be fruitless. al-Qaeda is worthless without their straetgic allies the Baathists, who adopted a more Islamic veil to fit in with the times and bring us all to this sectarain lollapalooza. Shiite militas atrocities are infintely more horrific, but you have no right to blame them when you are part of the blame, get real. ... These murderers will lose their support only when you negotiate with the Baathists. ...

PEOPLE ARE AFRAID. and they resort to their sectarian identity because they ARE AFRAID, not because they are hateful beings.

Sunshine describes the day that violence in Iraq came too close to her home... "while I was still in my bed I heard VERY loud explosion but it seemed to be far away from my neighborhood. I left bed and went to the living room ,at 7:30 while my mom was preparing to go to work we heard many explosions with heavy shooting just behind our house , my brother ( two years and half) ran from his room , shouting , crying , and shaking " MAMMY , NO,MAMMY " , he was sleepy , my sister was also asleep she left her room crawling , we hide in my grandparents' guest room , my grandpa was in his work , as soon as he reached there, two vehicles exploded near al-mosul university , we were very worried about him. he saw the whole thing . in that horrible explosion 25 were killed and 38 were badly injured ,all were from Iraqi citizens."

Over at Alive in Baghdad, Qassem posts his story of how he was arrested and interrogated by American troops. The story is eye-opening, bitter and funny and you should just read it in full. Here is an excerpt:
after we finished our food the marines shouted at me ..”Everyone go back to his bed …and NO TALKING …..move now” he shouted and I told the other detainees what he said … of the detainees was funny ..he loved to make it funny …he did not move although I told him what the soldier said ..he just stay sitting and ignored the soldier shouting!!!

“Hey Othman ……what you dong …go your bed this soldier getting angry,” other detainee asked Othman (the naughty detainee)

Othman ignored him too ….then he said “Just let me alone …I want him to be mad …just go.” he said …signing by his hand to us, to go

Then Othman said to me “Qasem, Qasem …..if he asked you what it is the problem …tell him that I am a crazy man ok??? Just do that ”

My Honorary Iraqi for the week is Michael Rakowitz (well he is part Iraqi already!) who runs a shop in New York. When he tried to import a truck load of Iraqi dates he found that their journey was a mataphor for the plight of all Iraqis who try to travel out of Iraq and a strong statement about all the failures of the Iraqi economy. Follow their progress as the dates are are initially delayed as the exporter evacuates his family from Baghdad; get stuck for 3 days waiting in a long queue at the Iraq/Jordan border; get sent back because they were not certified free of radiation (apparently depleted uranium munitions have had an affect on Iraqi agriculture); get refused entry into Jordan on the second attempt for "security concerns"; get routed via Syria as a last resort; enter Syria but get stuck at the airport because Syrian customs officials demand a $1200 payment to process out the necessary export papers. He reports:
Atheer [the exporter] apologizes for the delay, that he really thought that it would only take 21 days from the time we officially put our original agreement into motion, and we both remark on how much everything has changed since we first began our work together, what with the deteriorating situation in Iraq, his family’s move out of Iraq and into Jordan to flee the dangerous situation there, and now the exodus of Iraqis into Jordan and the subsequent tightening of the border.

“You know, this (delay) is your government’s fault,” Atheer tells me.
“I don’t know why the USA did this. This man (Saddam Hussein) was so afraid of the US. He was like their slave, and would have at least kept the stability of the country. Now look at it. Nothing normal can happen.”

And finally

Neurotic Wife is bored in the Green Zone and to escape thinking of the sadness of Iraq outside she goes shopping. What follows is a snapshot of life in the little security bubble that America created in Iraq...
My shopping spree was amazing. Went to Abercrombie & Fitch, bought a few pairs of jeans, visited the beautiful aisles of Victoria's secret, oh and found a really nice winter jacket at Aeropostale. Went to drugstore and bought a few woman's necessities. Checked out BCBG and Converse. I tell you, spent maybe an hour or so rummaging through the aisles. It was soooo much fun and it felt good too. For a short time I was on a high. For a short time I felt kinda normal.