After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A sign of hope for Iraq

A Financial Times editorial once wrote of American policy in Iraq that given an array of bad options they usually choose something even worse.

This has been the pattern of American behavior since 2003. But, for once, statements from British and American generals and indications of what James Baker's Iraq Study Group will recommend are actually starting to show signs of the kind of realistic thinking that may actually start to get Iraq out of the mess that America created.

To get an idea of the change that is happening, one should listen carefully to what General Sir Richard Dannatt, head of the British Army, said about the war in Iraq.

First, in an interview with the Daily Mail, he said that Britain (also read America) needs to get out of Iraq within two years because they are making the security situation worse. If Britain and America do not make a serious plan for exiting Iraq any policy that is put together will never succeed.

Second, in an interview with the BBC, he added "What I do know that is important is that Iraq stays together as a unitary state". That is, the overriding priority of the British army is to prevent Iraq from breaking up. Which is exactly right - as I said before, if Iraq is allowed to fragment, there will be an international war that will have disastrous consequences for the world let alone Iraq.

The other positive sign is that we are now treated to the surreal scene of cheerleaders for the 2003 war turning against their American hosts. Nibras Kazimi is a shining example. He writes:
The comments made yesterday by Maj. Gen. Bill Caldwell about the relative slow-down in Operation Forward Together are very surprising to me. ... Contrary to Caldwell’s assessment, things are going moderately well.
Hmm, who to believe - an armchair politician or a general that is actually in the thick of the fighting. Any suggestions?

Nibras goes further:
The Baker-Hamilton Commission is leaning towards declaring the “Sudden Infant Death” of a democratic Iraq. ... Sorry folks, our baby—our democracy—is alive and kicking, and is kicking harder.
Well, if that is true then let the Americans leave the Green Zone and see what happens. I don't think even he believes that the government will last for more than a day. What we have seen is the complete failure of the Iraqi government and its opponents in the Baathist insurgency to establish evan a small base of popular support among the Iraqi people. There is a vacuum and this is being filled up by the militias. The current government is only making matters progressively worse. The new federalism law will only drive the region to a new world war.

Abandoning the current government will not, on its own, solve Iraq's problems. America must drop its support for the sectarian politics that are tearing Iraq apart and we Iraqis must move to create a new independent secular movement to fill the current political vacuum in Iraq.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Rumblings at the Iraqi Blogodrome

There is a huge argument going on between Iraqi bloggers this week. Much of it in private emails but some spilling out in public blogs. It started with a number. But more on that in a moment.


First, my heartfelt condolences goes out to Zeyad who lost a close friend to the violence in Iraq. He writes:
I can't concentrate on anything any more. I should not be here in New York running around a stupid neighbourhood, asking people about their 'issues'.

I now officially regret supporting this war back in 2003. The guilt is too much for me to handle.
And further condolences to Maas who tell us of the unspeakable grief following the unspeakable loss of her Uncle K to a bomb while praying at his mosque. She writes: "It was avery hard news to my father ... when my mam told us I didn't believe and start to cry and I was going to a lecture of English but I can't go and my tears full of tears I would not understand anything because my mind think of what heppened."

If you read no other blog post this week read this

Nabil returns to Iraq through the Amman-Baghdad highway - "one of the most dangerous roads in the world". Apart from a description of the route through Iraq that makes essential reading, he describes the process of bribery to get through Iraqi passport control:
At the Iraqi gate.. my driver gave the gaurd who checks our passports about 2000 ID just to let us pass without checking ... then we enterd Iraq... The driver told me to prepare 7000 ID for him to be given to the guard that checks our luggage.. so that he won't check it.. at the Coming passerngers building.. I gave my passport and my family passports to the officer... he told me to give him 5000 ID (ID = Iraqi Dinar), I gave him the money and then he gave me the passports all done..

then I just looked up the window of the officer.. and I saw an announcement.. it said that the passports should be done freely.. and if the officer asks for money call on this number to give complaints.. I wonder what kind of people is that officer from.. I mean the order is written just two or three feets above his head and he dose not carry it out.. anyway.. I reached the final gate so that I would enter Iraq.. there were some soldiers at the gates who were supposed to check the passports.. the driver gave them about 3000 ID and they didn't check it ... I wonder about our governments when they pretend that they don't know how the terrorists enter Iraq... well, the Answer is simply check out your gaurds... they're all bribees.


The stories out of Iraq make for depressing reading at the best of times these days. But the report by the Lancet calculating 665,000 dead since the start of the war has raised emotions in the blogging community. It started with Omar of Iraq the Model issuing an angry critique of the report.
Among the things I cannot accept is exploiting the suffering of people to make gains that are not the least related to easing the suffering of those people... They shamelessly made an auction of our blood, and it didn’t make a difference if the blood was shed by a bomb or a bullet or a heart attack because the bigger the count the more useful it becomes to attack this or that policy in a political race and the more useful it becomes in cheerleading for murderous tyrannical regimes.

When the statistics announced by hospitals and military here, or even by the UN, did not satisfy their lust for more deaths, they resorted to mathematics to get a fake number that satisfies their sadistic urges...

To me their motives are clear, all they want is to prove that our struggle for freedom was the wrong thing to do. And they shamelessly use lies to do this.
And Omar concludes:
Let those fools know that nothing will stop us from walking this road and nothing will stop our friends and allies from helping us reach safe shores. There’s simply no going back even if it cost us more and their fake statistics will not frighten us… Our sacrifices are paving the way for future generations to live the better life we couldn’t live.
Omar's tirade against the report rubbed a number of bloggers the wrong way. Konfused Kid responded in kind:
if I didn't know better I would say that this guy [Omar] ... is just as naive as the clueless Iraqis who chanted to Saddam and believed their own made-up lies back in the days.... there is such a thing as an identity with your nation, and these guys make me sick with their obvious sucking-up they are doing to be sold out to Americans.
But to get to the point of his anger at Iraq the Model:
Could you tell me, my dear friends Omar and Mohammed, WHY is this list [the Lancet report] fake? do you have a single shred of proof as to why these Lancet documents and statistics are such a 'disgrace to all the women, children and men who died'? merely calling it fake and disgusting just don't cut it, please stop living the lie, and take a look outside your window. You call them careless for the victims of this country! I cannot believe this! "Using data for own gains." You have just proved your own point. .. I don't want you to renounce America, we need them as much as you are afraid that they will leave, but I just want you to say the truth, for God's sake
El Delilah is equally damning:
Freedom of speech is nice, but freedom of lie isn't. Since the invasion people have been dying by gigantic figures, and if ITM doesn't see that in the hundreds of thousands of casualties, IRAQI casualties, then he is in need for an urget reality check. ...

When an Iraqi blogger, whose blog is dedicated to naive americans, calls coalition forces "Our Allies" and "Our Friends" and starts talking about "Our accomplishments" and so on , it just wrong. ... Why does it bother me? Because it's a lie .. Because if I show it to any friend, they would believe it based on the fact that he's an Iraqi who lives in Iraq now. Because I, as well as many others, realize that it's no more than some serious American-Ass Kissing post. Because I'm wide aware that ITM himself doesn't believe in all of that anymore than he believes that Saddam Hussein was a hero. No, not an idiot and not a naive man. He's just a liar there.
And Neurotic Wife is indignant. in a post that was directly prompted by Iraq The Model she tackles the attitude and the numbers:
I am absolutely outraged at the outpour of people disputing these numbers!!! I mean extremely disgusted. I dont care who committed these crimes, but the numbers are correct. ... To belittle the Iraqi blood is just beyond me. To shrug your shoulders and say that these are lies is beyond me. For anyone who disagrees or laughs these numbers off, then I will tell you this, COME HERE AND SEE FOR YOURSELF WHATS REALLY HAPPENING!!! ...

At least a hundred bodies are found decapitated thrown in trashbins daily in Baghdad only. And I say atleast 100. Take into consideration the West, East, South and North of the Country. Add another 100. Oh and by the way these are the ones we hear off. So 100 plus 100 we get 200 daily. ATLEAST. multiply that by 365, then by 3 since thats three years from March and add 200 * 217 (number of days from March to October). You still with me???Ok then add all those that died from the bombings of the war, the suicide bombings that take place daily, the so called "friendly fire" oh and the collateral damage. Ofcourse you have to take into consideration the deaths that occured on the markets that killed hundreds, the deaths that took place on the bridge last year, the anonymous deaths that take place. Hmm, where does that put the number at??? ...

you want to read other blogs who tell you that the Lancet report is a lie then again thats upto you. But look deep down inside yourself, and ask yourself this, Is it ok, for someone to knock on your door out of no where because of your faith or belief and grab your child, mother, father, sister, brother, husband and shoot them all in the head, right infront of your eyes....Shoot them then cut them to pieces for the dogs to sniff in the Bins??? Do you think thats ok???

I will tell you this though. The Iraqi people are resilient. They are survivors. They will rise up and beat this terror. If not today then tomorrow. AND THER IS A TOMORROW. I see it in their eyes, I see it in their smiles. Their sad sad smiles. But its there. The Smile...The Smile of Victory...
Little Penguin is also moved to add his voice to this debate: "What surprises me as an Iraqi is the fact that some Iraqis have also doubted the authenticity and the scientific validity of the report;... many will have seen recent blogs denouncing the report and claiming that the calculations used by its authors were manipulative and sadistic. On our television screens, the Iraqi government's spokesman, Ali Al Dabbagh, has also rejected the report arguing that the government is 'doing it's best to protect the Iraqi people.' ... To suggest that the statistics published in the report are exaggerated is an incredibly insulting statement. Not only does it undermine the horrific atrocities that Iraqis have endured over the past three years, but it also has an underlying, if not blunt, message of cynicism and distrust of Iraqi potential. Despite some occasions where they refer to Iraqis as "heroes" who deserve to be saluted, it's quite clear that this is only said to shut us up; in reality, and in accordance to their ceaseless propagating of the deteriorating American policies in Iraq - they have done but one thing.. distorted reality."

Iraq The Model's response? Well, so far they removed Konfused Kid from their blog roll.

The Week in Politics

As a testament of the power of blogging, Alive In Baghdad's correspondent Qassem, was arrested by US Marines as a direct consequence of his Alive In Baghdad blog. He writes:
In jail I found that Military intelligence of US army printed out my blogs from my computer and they read it all and wrote their notes about it, and I received many questions concerning my blogs…

The main purpose for arresting me was to make sure that I am not writing my blogs to support insurgency …..and marines made sure that I have no relation with any Iraqi carry weapon against US troops.

I was released at 7 Oct 2006 at 7 am ( morning ).

Now I am have to say, not only peaceful Americans reading my blogs but ….US marines reading it more than anybody else …..and the Military intelligence of US army think that it is important for them to see the daily life of HELL ( hell = Ramadi ) as one of them told me .

Thanks peace friends….now your comments will be read by US marines too …my blog is not for only peaceful people any more…..there marines whom join us to exchange ideas ….and I thing that could give good support for peace when some of people whom carry weapons exchange ideas with peaceful people ..
Read the full story here.

I will not dwell on all the horror stories in the blogs this week but pick one which is typical. Marshmallow26 starts with the happy memories and pictures of her trip to Erbil. But her mood turns as she tells us of the feelings after hearing of a huge bomb attack in that city:
I was so excited to write such a good post backed up with some funny things, man I was so excited...But after what happened yesterday, and I am sure that the majority of readers heard about the bloody day in Kirkuk city. that makes me sick and guilty when ever I think about makes me sad and torn...How could I write such a funny post when there are many Iraqis got killed and burnt yesterday in Kirkuk? How could I express my self as a funny and happy citizen when there are about 30 families mourning there sons, daughters and lovers ... All that happened after 1 week when the US Army and the police began the crackdown in the city?? That illustrates how bad the curfew is! The smell of dead is increasing, the corpses are everywhere, you know what? Iraqi became the cheapest freight, cheapest goods on earth...Killing Iraqis became easier than drinking water, and easier than throwing darts ...From now own my life is not mine, I don't know whether I will live after this post or not! Later...Oops Later God willing!!

One knows things are bad when Iraq The Model writes the obituary for the Iraq's whole post-war experience. Mohammed writes: "Optimism about the future of Iraq has obviously decreased whether among Iraqis or their allies and conditions are seemingly taking a steep slope down to the worse. ... Moreover, chances for major reconstruction and economic development look poor amidst all the corruption and violence.." and he goes on the list his impression of the big mistakes made by Iraqis and the Americans.

Baghdad Connect reviews the rather large salaries and cash advances that Iraqi MP's are awarding themselves: "Just last week our finance minister approved a release of cash advance worth of USD 14,000 for every MP" and: "those who served a few months on the Governing Counsel have been granted a life-time generous retirement." He wonders if this is what is behind all the smiles you see during their televised meetings and contrasts this with the salaries and conditions for the lowly ministry employees.

Iraq Sweet Iraq talks of rumors and reality:
Rumours have always been part of our lives some of them are to instil fear, some of them are mere wishful thinking on the part of the people themselves . For instance, the rumour that the Americans are sick to death of Iraq and they are just going to pack their rucksacks and leave the place is one version. The other version is that the Americans are also sick to death from Iraq, therefore they are going to take full control of everything , everything !. And the funniest thing is that when Iraqis tell you a rumour it is always a fact beyond dispute ...

Yet, reality unfortunately is stronger than any rumour, the situation is as bad as bad can get . Politicians are frolicking and doing business, while the average Iraqi is like that fiddler on the roof trying too keep a tune, while balancing himself so as not to fall. I don't know whether we will live to tell the story .

And, Eye Raki wonders how a government can operate when it officials need to seek solutions from Grand Ayatollahs:
I know that, as a Grand Ayatullah he is like a father figure for many Shia Muslims ... Like the 3 other 'Grand Ayatullahs', he hardly ever leaves his house. He wouldn't know what is happening just a few blocks down his own street, yet alone how to solve the security or economic problems of an entire country.

Having said that, he did give them a great piece of advice. At the end of the meeting he said "the state should be dearer to you, than your own child."...I couldn't agree more.

And Finally

Baghdad Connect has a novel idea to end the American presence in Iraq. He noted how a US company dropped Venezuelan Oil Industries after some insulting comments made by their president against George Bush. So he writes:
Dear Halliburton,

Mr. Bush is a devil, liar and alcoholic. Kindly drop our Oil and go home!