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Friday, July 06, 2007

Landing at the Iraqi Blogodrome

There is a lot on the menu in my post today. Reactions to the Iraqi bomber in London, the siege of Adhamiya, stories of exile, a little politics. And Chikitita borrowed a camera this week and took some snapshots of her daily life. I'll be dotting these around my post for added colour.

Electric Spaghetti
By Chikitita:
"No this is not spaghetti! Thanks to this clutter of wires, I’m able to have cold water, access to the internet, charge my mobile phone, and maybe a nap under the noisy fan."

If you read no other post this week read this one:

Laith saw a sight that he found really funny.
I was in the car waiting for our turn to be searched... when we heard sound of explosions...

The funny things was watching the Iraqi and other foreign officials running towards the bunkers while their bodyguards trying to protect them... I really felt I want to laugh and cry at the same time.
He explains his mixed emotions:
I wanted to laugh because I saw their majesties the officials running away and afraid. Their guards were following them... I wanted to cry because I remembered the poor Iraqis who died only three days ago in one of Baghdad intersections. 78 poor civilians were killed, most of them were burnt to death. They didn’t have the chance to go to any close bunker...

I wish the officials taste the pains of the poor civilians. I wish they drink from the same glass of pain that we drink from everyday. I wish they live in fear just like we do. I wish them the worst and may God make my wishes true.

By Chikitita:
"The most treasured item of the lot. It was a big challenge for me to learn how to run one of these and thank goodness I don’t have to listen to stepdad complain about his backache, I can do it nice and easy."

An Iraqi Doctor in London

It turns out that one of the people who smashed a burning car into an airport in the UK was an Iraqi and a doctor. Naturally, this shocked a few Iraqi bloggers. Not least of which is one who is also living in exile in the UK, and just happens to be a doctor. A&E Iraq gives us his unique perspective. He remembers Nada, another young Iraqi doctor who failed to get asylum in Britain:
Like many others, Nada thought about seeking asylum here, and like many others also, she was informed that, they’ll not accept her as that means, they failed in Iraq!

Thinking about Nada; I just remembered a group of Hijackers ten years ago who kidnapped an airplane from Sudan and brought it to London; two years later they all were released from prisons as they claimed being oppressed by Saddam! Before the war, they tried to show the whole world how human they are, and how horrible Saddam was. Nowadays, they’re also human, so they have to protect Iraqis from each other by staying in their country.

What hypocrisy is this, could any stupid believe this? Did they care about us when were suffering the Embargo?
He concludes:
Yesterday they arrested two Arabic doctors, should we believe that they’re terrorists...

The only fact is the game is over; Iraqis are no more useful so they don’t want them, and the ones who are already here are enough to be arrested by the name of fighting terrorism. They have the right to invade and destroy our country but we don’t have the right to live in their countries!

like Iraq and every Iraqi, Nada has to choose the way she wants to die, she can stay here and wait to starve or to be arrested by their police or she can go back to be killed by their solders or by someone supported by their intelligence system.

They’re always nice, always democratic, even when they kill!

Dreamer, another Iraqi living in the UK, is despondent:
With the updates of today that there were Iraqi and Jordanian doctors suspected of their involvement in this mess, our hearts reached the low of the lows. These people have completely tarnished our reputation. They perform these acts out of desperation, thinking that this will bring them satisfaction and rivalry over whoever has sabotaged their life. Do they once think of all those others that will be put under scrutiny and be undermined due to their selfishness? The media will most definitely exploit the fact that they are from Middle East and Muslims.

It was inevitable that something like this would come out of Iraqis, considering the state Iraq has turned into. However, neither I, nor do I think anyone else has expected it of highly educated, most likely from a mannerly and modest families, to commit such a deed...

What future awaits me and hundred others? Should we still be hopeful?
And Neurotic Wife, who happens to be in London, is appalled:
Its pretty upsetting to find out that an Iraqi would get involved in such horrid events. That just invigorated me more, because it means that the countries that were willing to take on the Iraqis who really are innocent and who really are suffering in Iraq, will back out. Thats it, all those coworkers of mine who are dreaming of a better live, of a second chance will no longer get their dream. Its gone, gone forever because of a stupid, selfish man.

As an Iraqi, Im appalled. Appalled at what these doctors were thinking. Why??? Why do this to the country that gave you a chance? Why do this to the people that extended their hands out to you and opened their arms and took you in??? WHY? What for???To hurt the government? Or to make a change in foreign policy??? I dont get it, I really dont. You cant achieve a thing by violence. Instead you are creating more havoc, more havoc and more hatred. And hatred, thats the last thing we need at the moment.

By Chikitita:
" Looks messy and dusty, but I love them when they’re full of petrol. "

The siege of Adhamiya

Two bloggers gave accounts of the day that the wall around Adhamiya was completed. Something that has been poorly reported in the media. Nabil posts photos and a video of his walk to the border of Adhamiya. He gives a day-by-day account of a battle with American soldiers:
Day 1:

Thursday 10 am, an American tank gets bombed by a roadside bomb and 9 soldiers were dead, then huge battle starts between American soldiers and unknown (or as I may say no one), ending up on destroying the main underground water pipe which supplies the whole street, and destroying high tension electricity wires which went down laying on the street and electrifying the drowned street.After the shootings from the American side, while the American tank was still burning, two patrols of ING comes to back the American patrol against again "no one", and continue to shoot with them randomly and destroying more stuff and ruining the surrounding houses.

Then after about 30 continueous minutes of shooting arrives a fire
fighters team of the civil defense and extinguishs the burning tank.then shooting stops and silence finally is reached, two hours later the ING leaves, and the American patrol remains, I assumed they were still gathering the pieces of the blown up soldiers. finally at around 6 pm,
the American patrol leaves and the street was opened again, people went out and headed to the explosion scene to check out the damages. Some of the remaining piece of the dead soldiers were still there, Alqa`eda members diffuse to the street and gather around the scene and start to take pictures of their achievement.

10 minutes later a huge number of American heavy tanks and hummers come back to the scene again and arrest all the people who were standing in the scene but bad luck as I heared alqa`eda members has already left the scene, as I heared the arrested individuals were driven to an unknown destination and never been seen after the arressment.
Read on here.

Mohammed of Last-of-Iraqis lives near Adhamiya and posted his own account of the events. He concludes:
They blocked all the streets about and I mean all the streets , some of my relatives were at work and couldn't get back home , it was impossible for any one to walk a single yard in the street , my wife's uncle was trapped two blocks from his home and couldn't reach it!!!this terrible situation continued till 6 p.m when my relatives reached their homes , and I don't think they will be able to leave there homes any time soon to go to work or college , what a situation , no water , no shops , no food supplies , no medications , it's obvious they want NO LIFE in Adhamyia . Why didn't the media cover these acts? why did they build the Adhamyia wall? the simple short answer is to mask the crimes they do , it's a big new Abu-Gharib where a new torture and killing methods will be used......

By Chikitita:
"“A bald girl brags about her sister’s hair.”
–Iraqi Saying –

All the trees in our garden, though functional for cooking, look ugly. The gardener who used to take care of them was displaced and they were all abandoned, because none of my family is so keen on taxing chores. So I have no tree to show off but this marvelous palm tree next door. I just love it!"

Internally Displaced

Its one of those tame-sounding terms, like "collateral damage" that covers the true horror of life in a war-torn country. People are forced to leave their homes at the threat of one criminal gang or another. Many times without time or ability to even gather some basic belongings. This phenomenon is is certainly on the rise in Iraq and here are some of the bloggers stories about this.

Chikitita is still in Baghdad and talks of good-byes and being forgotten by young nephews. She writes:
I could hear the tears she was trying to stifle on my end of the phone. I had nothing to say but we will meet someday, not so sure of course, but I had to say something. My friend is one of those people, to whom the idea of leaving has always been out of the question... The last straw was the attempt on her dad’s life, only then she realized this is no longer home and it was about time to leave.

I have always hated goodbyes. All the friends and family members who knew every detail of my life seem to be trickling out of the country. On my sister’s last day in Iraq, she begged me not to cry... It dawned on me that my nephew and I will no longer be friends and my predictions have become reality. Yesterday I bowed and scraped for His Majesty to talk to me on the phone, he was too shy to do it. I felt so crestfallen; I’ve become the faceless stranger who sends him presents, not the “Tita” who used to watch animated movies with him, or the ugly auntie who’d yell at him whenever he came near my textbooks and pens. I have become just a voice from a place called Baghdad, whatever that means.

When my favourite aunt was forced out of her house and chose to leave Baghdad for good I told her it was too risky for me to come say goodbye. It was not the risks I was trying to fend off, I didn’t want to tell her that I missed her already...

...places may wax an awful lot of nostalgia, but it is the people around that make the places we are attached to what they are.

Ali talks of a neighbourhood lost:
I remember my days back home. I remember my neighborhood, the school that I went to. I remember my friends often... Zaid and Fadi, who are Christians, Haider who is a Shiite, and Hamad who is a Sunni....

Now that I’ve left the country, all I can do is to keep in touch with them. Hamad is in Syria because he and his family didn’t feel secure enough to live in that neighborhood. Fadi fled to Syria too with his family, but he went back to Baghdad to go to school and he is living with his grandmother now. Haider is still living in Baghdad but he is not going to school anymore because it is dangerous to drive all the way from where he lives to school.

I was talking with Zaid on the phone the other day and he told me that the neighborhoods where we lived and went to school fall in the territory of what is called “The Islamic State.” His family was threatened to leave their house within 30 minutes or they’d be killed. They couldn’t take anything out, not even his books that he was reading to prepare for the finals. He said that there are no more Christians or Shiites that can live Amiriya, Ghazaliya, Khadraa and Jamiya.

It was very hard to listen to Zaid talking about what had happened to my city. In those neighborhoods there were Shiite and Sunni mosques and there were Christian Churches. We all lived with each other. We all were friends. I was mad when I heard the news. I was mad because that is what I loved about Baghdad; that we all lived with each other and sects were not an issue . Sect wasn’t an issue when I made friends.

Now I look at the pictures from my neighborhood and remember all the people who lived there and I cry because now I can’t have the same days that I had. I know that my neighborhood is not the same place it used to be. I know that Baghdad is not the same Baghdad. I know that Iraq is not the same Iraq.

But I know that this is not the way my family and my friends and most Iraqis want Iraq to be. And I know that one day we will all tell the world that we are not Shiites, not Sunnis, not Christians, and not Kurds, but we are all Iraqis and we all will live on the land of peace.

And Sunshines writes about the displaced doctors who have no where else to sleep but in the hospital in her city, Mosul:
Mama suggested a great suggestion to prepare lunch for the doctors who had to leave their governorates and stay in mosul ,they live in the hospital, grandma and I liked the idea but dad didn’t !, so it was canceled.
I went with my mom to her work last Wednesday , to have another night-guard (I have bruxism ), I had so much fun there, they thought mama and I were sisters , no one believed that I am her daughter!!! And one of the doctors thought I am the new dentist !!!.
There were doctors from Baghdad , Faluja , Hadeetha , and other cities, they had to leave their cities because of the bad situation

By Chikitita:
"There’s nothing I like more than a royal breakfast, instant coffee and cheese, in the front yard, life without workplaces is good after all."

A little politics

Iraqi Pundit tells us a joke going around between Iraqis:
Saddam Hussein orders some men to dig up the grave of his mother. Once they do, Saddam spits in what remains of her face. He then orders the men to bury the dead woman again. The men, of course, follow his orders. They also very meekly ask why he would violate religious rules and disrespect his mother in such a way. He tells them he's just following her wishes. He said that before she died, his mother told Saddam: "If you ever turn out to be a good man, dig me up and spit in my face."
He explains:
To Iraqis, this makes a lot of sense. Even Saddam's mother knew how unlikely it was for her son to turn out to be a good man. Unfortnately, with the way things have been in Iraq, more and more people are saying life under Saddam was better. To Saddam's mother, that means her son has finally turned out to be a good man.

Iraq the Model looks beyond the current US military surge in Iraq and calls for wide ranging political reforms:
from holding local elections to choose new and representative district and city councils to amending the general elections law to allow voters to choose their representatives directly instead of the current slate system. It might be also a good idea to adjust the federalism law to allow turning each province into an individual region within the federal state to avoid the sensitivities that could arise from forming regions on sectarian and/or ethnic basis.

A US congressional group, last week, produced a report that said the Pentagon "cannot report in detail how many of the 346,500 Iraqi military and police personnel that the coalition trained are operational today," and that they "have no idea what our $19 billion [spent on training and equiping the Iraqi Army] has gotten us." Well, 24 Steps to Liberty has an idea:
Do we know what the Iraqi army is equipped with? I do:
AK47 rifles, pistols, 7.62 mm PKMS (BKC) Machine Gun, M16 [recently given to some soldiers] and less than a 100 humvees.

Do Iraqi soldiers have armored vehicles? No.
Do they have flack jackets? No.
Do they have night vision goggles? No.

The report also said that the US has spent $19 billion in recruiting, training, equipping and building training facilities.

What training? This is the army that fought eight years with Iran, invaded Kuwait, oppressed the Shiites in the south, killed the Kurds in the north, failed coups in the west and protected a dictatorship for more than 30 years. Train it to do what?

And who got the money? American contractors, right? [in Iraqi we say Hasna Jabata… Hasna Akhthata, roughly translated: Hasna brought it and Hasna took it back.]
While Hammorabi sees the weakness of the Iraqi army as a deliberate policy:
America under [George W Bush] not only weakened the Iraqi forces and left the country without army and security but they imposed a fragile and weak government though by kind of election but based on sectarian and ethnic divisions. Moreover the USA interferes with every thing in Iraq including the protection they offer for the criminals, the terrorists and the corruptors... It started of course from Paul Bremer who dissolved the Iraqi army and left the country to struggle in weakness.

One of the most important thing is the so weak Iraqi government that can not do anything for the country and this may suite the GWB policies in Iraq, at least this is what most of the Iraqis believe.

We think that the Iraqi government should be a strong one whether it is elected or not and it should have a strong army or at least to call the Iraqi army to get back and armed without interferences from the USA. In fact if the USA would like to achieve a better relation with the Iraqis for the future they should help in building up this army as soon as possible as it took long time just to create few weak and inefficient units.

And Finally...

Now that Hometown Baghdad has finished their project to document daily life in Iraq one of their member has gone on to use his video skills for greater good. Mike writes:
Hometown Baghdad viewers should know that when Saif isn’t booby-trapping his house with barbwire, smoking shisha, or talking about his beautiful wife Noor, he is playing guitar. And so he has decided to make a series of instructional videos for people wanting to learn how to play in a variety of styles... subscribe to his youtube channel.

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