After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Iraq: Look at the world - where is peace?

So says Sahar. On the occasion of World Peace Day she writes:
Look at the world – where is peace?

It is shy and illusive.

There is turmoil and war.

There is distrust and fear of the other.

There are hearts bleeding for their loved ones – it doesn't matter where, it doesn't matter who – loved ones are just as precious.

Can we really strive for a day – one day of peace?

One day in which we intentionally look at the half that is full instead of the half that is empty?

Can we take a day to look at what human beings on Earth have in common rather than what divides us?

Can we make the effort?

Today a mixed bad of posts. A meeting of old friends, a little politics, a coin of excellence, a dose of female geekery and, if you read to the end, find out what fasting really does to you.

If you watch no other video this week watch this one

If you listen carefully to the news you may hear the odd glib comment about the concrete walls that have gone up around Baghdad. But, to truly understand the devastation these walls cause to the communities that are divided by them one must listen to the voices of the ordinary Iraqis. Which is exactly what Alive in Baghdad does.

When Birds Die

Where do birds dig their graves,

brown and black ...

and blue?

They crawl at the end of their time

into nothingness

that we will never know...

They respect each others private

last minute

with God...

before the final accession.

They turn their heads

the other way

when loved ones die.

Then turn them again

to bestow all the love of the skies

and flight...

in parting.

Poem by ZZ
Bits and Pieces

A&E Iraq meets his closest friend that he has not seen since they parted in Iraq. The meeting brings memories of times past:
I had flashes from the past, him being threatened by the security forces, there weapons were pointed to his neck, when I started shouting and threatening.
We were always ready to die together, he never let me down...

I kept looking at him, the same smile, the same gestures, and the same childish behavior. I closed my eyes and found myself sitting in his black small car (the one he used to have in Baghdad), as he used to come everyday, ringing the bell, and then we both disappear.
Going out, drinking special juice from (14th of Ramadan street), chatting, listening to songs, eating Falafel or Lahmb3ajeen, and then going back, sit in the car, keep talking, talking about love, friends and future plans.

Last of Iraqis notices the recent prisoner releases by America but finds some ominous signs for the future peace in Iraq:
I can surely say that there is a good number of [Al Qaida] members among those prisoners as a colleague of mine said when he was talking about his neighbor who is a released prisoner:" I can assure you Mohammed he was in [Al Qaida], I'm sure of that as I'm sure of my name…he was released and few hours 4 members of the Awakening came to visit him!! can you believe that…I bet the situation will get worst pretty soon"...

Only god knows what the coming days are hiding for us.

Inside the Green Zone, Neurotic Wife gets an award (picture left) from the Commanding General in charge of her office. For the first time "the woman that can go on talking forever and give headaches to people all over the world", is speechless. But, she does not want to take the credit for herself. Neurotic Wife writes:
I seriously don’t think I deserve this coin, but instead, I believe that this coin should be dedicated to all those who lost their lives in the name of this country. First and foremost I dedicate it to all the innocent Iraqi martyrs whose blood is still running deep. Deep within these rivers. And ofcourse, I also dedicate it to the coalition forces and the multi national forces who may not have sacrificed their lives because they “love” us, but they sacrificed their lives in the name of their own country. And to me, to me all those who sacrificed their lives for THEIR country is the epitome of ones honour. A Pure and Honest Honour…

Ihath finds a Swarovski Crystal pendant that is also a USB memory stick and, as a true female geek, she cannot contain her delight. Ihath tries to explain to the confused shop assistant why this is so cool:
So I began to explain to her that this thingy can be attached to a computer or a laptop and you can transfer you files to it and then you have your files with you all the time but it is also a heart shaped pendant which makes a statement about the love you have for these files. The elderly woman still looked puzzled and asked me “So why is that cool?”. “Well it is cool because you have your files with you in a heart shaped pendant hanging on your chest, which means you love your files and your digital files are important to you and you have them hanging right next to your heart, which says something” I tried to explain. “Aha” she replied, but she didn’t look very convinced.

And Finally

Bookish posts a result of Ramadhan that everyone fasting will find familiar:
This is my weight just before having Al-Futoor.

My weight just after having Al-Futoor. :)

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Iraq: They call this freedom

It can be hard to believe that it is approaching 2000 days since the beginning of the occupation of Iraq. After all the promises and expectations made at the start of the war maybe it is worth taking stock of the current situation for Iraqis. Bloggers have been reviewing their lot and give some slices of their daily experiences.

7395AC2F-BE07-4FC8-A609-5D609EE8DF26.jpgMade in Iraq by Bookish

"I have finally found something that was really made in Iraq."

"They are real human skeletons. In the past, they were importing skeletons for (the college of Medicine) from India and Pakistan. But these in the photo were made in Iraq (this is what the doctor told me about them)."

Mama visited Baghdad and gives her impression of the city and its people. In a post titled "There was no Baghdad" she gives a picture of a devastated and demoralized city:
when we reached Baghdad ... the very first sight that upset me and filled my eyes with tears , was the large no. of beggars in the streets, they were old women under the burning sun , with four or five years old skinny kids.

... the roads are walled with concrete walls hiding from view; the stores. the only thing every one sees is concrete walls, all streets look the same. it was frustrating , to see my beloved Baghdad like that.

... It was very obvious that the people are very tired from the situation, the lack of electricity, lack of fuel, the costliness ,and the loss of hope. the No. of people leaving Iraq is greater than ever. I had to farewell a very dear family, I felt that Baghdad is not the same and it's empty. I missed it's lineament, and missed the very large No. of friends , neighbors and relatives who either left abroad or dead.

I swear that I needed to scream from anger many times, but who will listen and care!!

This Silence
as I trace my steps back and forth

in a corporate commercial building on the third floor

next to a set of white iron rails and carpet

where the stains

of last winter

still linger...

Last May

I had called her from this staircase

and she described what it meant living the way

she was

dodging bullets

while trying to keep her children sane.

I had not heard her voice in two winters

and in spring when I did

it brought all the sunshine that Iraq could endure

and Ohio could dream of…


as I press my shoes in the carpet

my toes jut out in impatience

but for someone I love like next of kin

someone I knew all my life…almost

I have been very patient.

I have waited 13 months…

At times the silence spat staggering truths about the end of waiting.

At times the lines spawned noises that clawed at my brain and my breath.

She is no longer in that local Baghdad directory...

and I am left to this silence.

The occupation had raped and killed an ‘Abeer’

and set on fire all that was left of her and her kin

and hence followed nightmares that this is an omen…

I wake up in sweat and all around there is this silence.

I wonder and anger that this world can remain this silent...

Abeer returns in dreams every May,

a smile of compassion from warm brown eyes

and a nonchalant nod at the life she knew or knows…

I don’t know...

I wonder if she even breathes anymore…

or if her body lies somewhere…

in silence.

poem by ZZ
Baghdad Connect tells of the trouble one must go through just to do business in Iraqi. He writes:
The other day we had a call from a business man to meet in his office... We drove the car in sweltering heat the distance of roughly 10 kilometers, and literally there was a military check point at every 300 to 500 meters!! In derelict, filthy roads full of cars and low-life pathetic looking people - It was sickening. By the time we got to his home-office we already forgotten the objective of our trip. Prior to talking about the tender – totaling USD 4.5 Mil our business associate began to talk about the certain gifts that we should pay the ministry employees, the bank employees, the logistic handlers and a few extra men – based on sects, that totaled more than 350 thousands US dollars and prior to bidding!!! This is an absolute mortal circus when compared with the years of Saddam. Later the business associate began to talk about the security situation and how the Iraqi resistance can turn things into flaming hell in matter of hours but the orders now is to play politics and for a few months!! How on earth one could do business if hell can be ascended in a few hours?!

And offer some advice to those Iraqis who can lead a life outside the country:
For those Iraqis who are in foreign countries and have a slight hope for a job opportunity or a vague form of decent life we recommend that you do not even think of coming back for a long, long time.

Faiza Al-Arji gives the stories of Iraqis that she helps through her charitable work in Jordan:
UUm Mohammed's father in law came from Baghdad a week ago; he has a gland in the liver that needs to be removed, the operation requires thousands of dollars, of which they do not own even one, and I don't, either. I don't know; maybe he'll die waiting for a donation.

Um Ahmed's husband was kidnapped at his front door, 3 years and 3 months ago, he is possibly in an Iraqi-government's prison; I seek someone to help us locate him…

A blind old man's family went back to Baghdad and left him alone. I help him monthly to pay the house rent, but I know that his wife and daughters there in Baghdad suffer hunger and poverty; I cannot help them, I do not have super financial means to cover the expenses of all the needy…

... There is a number of Iraqi women who are alone without families; whose husbands or families were killed and they remained alone, waiting to be re-settled. They face improper advances and molestation by this and that, looking towards a life more dignified and more settled, in some spot in this world.

At work, I daily receive women who were beaten and treated cruelly by their husbands. Poverty is the reason in most cases; or the frustration that befalls the man because of poverty and unemployment; they turn him into a wild, cruel, and aggressive creature. This is what happens to some Iraqi families here; the conditions of displacement, poverty, estrangement and degradation all put pressure on the men and the women and increase the rate of family violence…

... Are these the signs for the end of time, of the dooms day? That the world has lost its mind, its ethics, its mercy, justice, and all its beautiful features?

Sunshine is becoming frustrated::
All I want is a safe and open road so that I can go to school... like all students in the whole world, be a good citizen and rebuild the country I love, I am doing my best to make my life seems normal, and try to go to my teacher’s houses no matter how far they live and how serious the situation is, but sometimes I feel that I can’t, I just want a rest, because I can’t take it any longer ..

School and studying are not so much fun for all of the students right? well add to that spending hours in order to reach!!! hearing gun-fire and explosions in your way, And seeing horrible views in your way to school such as armed men, dead people etc, sometimes I feel it is amazing how I can tolerate that..

I see on TV. and internet, talk with people abroad and wonder, we are all human beings have feelings, strength and have the same needs, why do Iraqis have to suffer that much and have that pain in side their hearts? While other people don’t get through 1% of what we are going through .. they have a good life without war and all that mess.

... Two days ago my family and I arrived home, dad was opining the garage’s door and tanks came by they started to wave and pressing horns at us to go away, I felt so angry because the car is in front of OUR OWN garage in OUR OWN neighborhood ... we have an aphorism says “it is our own house and people kick us out” it is exactly what’s happening here its so hard to be an Iraqi, but no matter how it get worse I’ll always have the Sumerian blood and I refuse to belong to any other nationality.

And I will finish with a message to "the Liberators" from Mama:
So many things changed since YOU AMERICA invaded my country to liberate us from our live...

my people are suffering in every life field, specially the educated citizens, the government that is supported by AMERICA, trying to spread and encourage the backwardness . many strange idolatrous rituals, appeared in my country, we didn’t know before AMERICA’S liberation ,wonder if this is the brighten future that America brought us!!!!.the government allow those who weep the thousand years gone imams, in the streets, and also stop the traffic and close the roads for them. not just that but also make curfew in the capital Baghdad for the weepers safety. ignoring all the citizens life matters, business, and the country financial losses , due to paralyzing all life issues , to weep. leaving the country reconstruction, and instead steeling and straying it’s wealth.

What shall I do, where shall I go? I want a better life for my children, they deserve to live in peace, and to get good education, they deserve to have fun , and enjoy their live, they deserve to live the recent century , and not live in the darkness without electricity ,and in the backwardness without knowledge. but leaving my country, my friends and family is not what I want. I can’t.

Iraq: "Obama couldn't care less about us"... says Iraqi Pundit.
"..." by Baghdad Connect

Apart from the usual suspects, talk of the US Presidential campaign in Iraqi blogs is pretty thin on the ground. But that silence in itself speaks volumes. Neurotic Wife gets the reason from some co-workers:
I asked a few Iraqis, many did not seem to have interest in the US politics “We have enough of the Iraqi one let alone the US” in their own words.

The selection of Joe Biden as vice presidential candidate made some bloggers suspicious of Democratic candidate Barak Obama. Iraq Pundit opines:

Barack Obama's choice for vice president can only drag the country into ugly territory. His pick simply confirms his total disregard for the Iraqi people. All along, Biden has made it clear that he sees Iraqis as nothing more than savages bent on killing one another. His solution is to divide the country to stop the beasts from murdering the other beasts. He can argue all he wants that President Bush and John McCain are not nearly as smart as Biden is, but at least they will not abandon the Iraqis.
Nibras Kazimi adds:
Wasn’t Biden’s ‘intellectual’ heft supposed to be the whole point of adding him to the Obama ticket to balance out the greenhorn factor?

Iraq’s political class doesn’t seem to be buying it, though. They are not reassured by the Biden pick, whose name is forever associated, in Iraqi eyes, with a hastily-thought plan to divide Iraq

However, there seems a general preference for Obama among Iraqis. Fayrouz is smitten for her own fuzzy reasons:
It's not only hope that drives us to him as his opponent claims. It's how he put us on our feet to face the reality on the ground. It's his ability to make us believe in the "good America" that we always loved. It's the power of "we" instead of the power of "I" that drives people to him.
While Iraqi Atheist compares Obama to his favorite TV show. He writes "Season 4 of LOST is much more awesome. And even more awesome is Barack Obama." and Neurotic Wife asks Iraqis in the Green Zone to offer an opinion. She writes:
of the minority who did say they are curious, said they like Obama more. It was funny, cause one of the guys said in a very enthusiastic manner and I quote “No Macyeen, yes Bahama” Bahama? I thought to myself, is that a new candidate that I haven’t heard about, hmmm? It took me a few seconds to register he actually meant Obama, lol.