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Monday, March 22, 2010

Iraq: Seven Years On

Crossposted from GVO

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

Lubna writes:
Now, I want to share with all of you guys some of my own personal experience as a young woman living in Baghdad, may be that’ll give you an inside access to the sometimes very secret and seemingly mysterious world of 'Middle Eastern women'...

So here I am saying it loud and clear : I am an Islamic feminist, my mom ran out of the house when I was 12 and we’ve never heard anything from her ever since, that’s right, she’s not dead, but I refuse to be judged by others according to what my mom did, Allah judges me according to my own actions only-not according to the actions of anyone else even if that anyone else was my mom, so all of you must do the same, all of you must accept me as I am

Seven Years On

With the recent elections still fresh in the news it is all too easy to forget that the anniversary of the start of the war is this week. But this will not pass some bloggers.

In a series of four posts, Layla Anwar marks the seventh anniversary of the invasion of Iraq with her memories of wars past. The power of her writing brings back vividly the pain of a people who have endured war after wars for more than fourty years. She writes:
One scene leads to another, like in a wonder this is a door I never wanted to open...

War after War after War...back in the tunnel, swirling back...subtracting years, 1991, the fireworks of another liberation. 1980, 1973, 1967...I remember them by one...

The same scene repeats shattering, plastic and tapes, glued to the radio for the latest news, hoping batteries won't run out, and more sirens...all the sirens sound the same...Baghdad and beyond -- same sirens, same wars...

Israeli air raids in 1967 and 1973, I was there too...I laugh when I think about it, laugh sarcastically, as if Destiny wanted me to be a witness...

I remember another shelter...this one was very was in the basement of a building...not really a shelter but more like an underground storage smelled bad...humidity and piss...I remember Dad grabbing the radio, and Mom pulling me by the arm - Yalla Layla, let's go...and I'd hear the thunder outside shaking the earth beneath my feet...and after so many rounds of "punishment" from the Sky, I'd say to my mother - do we really have to go to this dark room, can't we just die here in our home ?

I remember her just pulling me by the arm down the stairs -- no time for a reply, every minute counted...hurrying down the stairs whilst everything shook...and ending up in that dark humid, smelly room, smelling of rot and piss...there would be several families there...again each family would take a corner, gather and huddle together...waiting for the final verdict, waiting for the final sentence, see if God, the Universe, MIG fighter jets...decide who will live and who will die that day...

And so it is in this part of the world, from 2010 to all the way back...their raids and bullets fly over your head taking you from up and their articles take you from down....and they still shove them under your nose telling you how oppressive - oppressed you are...

and Iraq Pundit makes a defiant statement: Iraq will never fall apart. He writes:
The outsider view of Iraq is that it is crumbling. There is a deep sectarian divide that is difficult to heal, according to outsiders. Experts for hire declare: "It could get really nasty," says Joost Hilterman of ICG. "I'm utterly unconvinced that the Iraqi institutions are strong enough to withstand that kind of conflict." Of course he would say something negative, he has been arguing against Iraq all along. He can't believe Iraqis can get along because he would not longer have an act. He and others have built entire careers on the idea that Iraq is a failure.

To outsiders, it's a divide between Sunnis and Shiites. This is based on what Iraqis consider a war of attrition between al-Qaeda and the Iranian militias. Naturally they coopted locals into the battle, but Iraqis by nature don't focus on Sunni-Shiite differences.

Post Election Talk

With Inside Iraq's summary of the latest results showing that the election on 7th March is still too close to call there is only speculation in the blogs.

Laith wonders about the whole point of the election:
In all the election all over the world, the majority is the one who form the government but in Iraq, it looks that our political parties have a different ideology for election... It looks that our politicians want to design a kind of democracy that fits their demands and wishes regardless the wish of millions of people who voted only to have a real national government that can provides their basic needs which they have been waiting to gain for decades.

If we are going to see the same sectarian and ethnic sharing in the coming government and since our election aims only to share the positions among the political parties, then why did we participate in election. In fact the right question should be (why do we even have election?)

Ladybird gives her analysis of the post election conflicts and predicts the worst scenario for the Americans in the elections. She writes:
Washington’s worst scenario right now, is that any understanding occurs between Syrian — Saudi Arabia during the conflict tactics will lead to the rise of a unity government and a new Iraqi nationalism, leads to the emergence of unexpected election results similar to the results created by the new Lebanese cabinet recently, which are formed as a background of an understanding between Syria — Saudi Arabia, and led to a major coup in the agenda of regional Middle East policy.

To look at his blog you would think of him as an average American. Yet, Ramsin voted in the Iraqi election even though he grew up a world away from Iraq and his parents left some twenty years before he was born. He gives his reasons why he took part in the out of country vote (OCV):
Until Iraq’s democracy moves past its post-conflict illiberal stage, OCV-eligible voters have a duty to express their franchise in solidarity not with some interest group but rather with the principle of democracy itself. That is the story behind my purple finger.

And Dr. Human wrote:
Actually I hate politics , and I dont want my head to ache me because of it , I thought not to go to the election , but then I thoght they may play with my paper and fill it with a person that we never want him .. !! so I went and [gave] my vote to a person after I read his C.V. on the net ,and I saw that he is an active person and has nice projects ..

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Baghdad , Bombs and Ballots

(cross-posted on Global Voices)

Will the elections herald a new era of political stability for Iraq or will it be more of the same? Iraqi bloggers discuss their fears and hopes on the day of the national elections. But first...

If you read no other post this week read this one

On the eve of the poll, Sunshine writes about her wishes for the future:
We are just tired from living in horror , we don't want to lose more people we love, this war was bloody and I just want it to end and be a bad memory in my life .. I wonder if my relatives abroad will come back, I didn't see my only aunt for 5 years, and my cousins doesn't know me.. Iraqis want their lives back… I can't wait till the day I'll wake up and open the curtains in my room and see life in my neighborhood again instead of a ghost city, I can't wait till the day that we'll remove the wood we placed over the windows, I wonder always if I and all Iraqis will ever feel relief.. I have so many hopes and plans for that day, wonder when will it come ..

I want to hear good news about rebuilding my country, the developing and improving in economy, not how many people who were killed..

She reports of the current campaign by terrorists against all Christians in her home city of Mosul and writes:
Why? why did that happen? Who's behind forcing the Christians to leave?
Political parties fight each other, and the victims are those innocents.. all of that murders and frightening was because of the election, to force the Christians to go to the countryside , and ban them from participating ..
What makes me so angry and so frustrated is, when there is a "weeping ceremony " the country become in an emergency situation, so many soldiers and a very serious secured procedures is taken to protect the Shiites ,. While the government didn't ensure the safety of the Christians who only wanted to continue their daily lives, go to school, or work normally , it is so unfair ..

Word from the streets

Sunshine voted
Sunshine photographs her ink-stained finger in a victory salute.

Baghdad Dentist tells us how his city is on the day of the vote:
Cars were banned last night and many roads that lead to the election centres were closed by barbed wires and army vhecles.
With the begining of the voting many explosions occurred in were about falling many mortar in many districts in the city including Adamyah,Al-adil,Palestine street,Ur and many other places in a wave of attacks. Baghdad is not secured...

With all the fears of going to vote,Iraqis insist on democracy to stop violence and choose Iraqi citizens to represent them

Nibras voted and felt great:
The greatest thing about it was how normal it felt; elections have become a ho-hum, commonplace occurance. That's quite a feat for a country with Iraq's past and current challenges...

This was a logistical failure for the jihadists; hardly any successful suicide bombers or sniper attacks near the polling stations. Lobbing mortars indiscriminately around Baghdad is BS intimidation. It certainly didn't deter voters.

Ladybird went to watch the voting "circus" in the Netherlands and reports:
I noticed that many people chose to vote for secular parties, especially for Allawi’s list Al-Iraqiya, but there are also Maliki’s supporters...

The queue was very long, waiting time about 4–5 hours. I left the pol center on 17.00 and the queue was about 1 km.

From what I read and watch, I think Maliki and Allawi are going against each others head to head.

and McClatchy Newspapers gives the most comprehensive coverage from all over Iraq in its journalists blog.

Fears and Hope

Layla feels the initial results are hopeful but expects widespread fraud. She is tweeting results as she hears them and concludes:
This is a huge MORAL defeat for the Shiite parties and for Maliki in particular... and they have also shown what I have been saying all along for the past 4 years - that we are essentially a secular people and nationalistic one.

This is ALSO a symbolic defeat for Iran and for the AMERICAN plan, the agenda with which they brutally and criminally occupied us, dividing us along sectarian lines.

... I love you Iraq.

But after constant election watching, she had enough:
I need to get out of the Iraqi election mood. I don't feel good about what's going to happen after the final results are gut feeling tells me so...I need to switch off, completely switch off...
I need to get out of the Iraqi election mood. I don't feel good about what's going to happen after the final results are gut feeling tells me so...I need to switch off, completely switch off...

Neurotic Wife did not vote and explained her reasons as a letter to her departed father:
Im sorry, but there is no one that I believe can bring a better life to the Iraqis. All the promises that these people claim to bring to Iraq are false. They entered the election race to satisfy their own egos. Their own egos and their own needs...

Yes Baba, I know you dont agree with me. I know that you always had hope. BIG hope... Baba, there is no honest man out there, believe me. Their words stopped meaning anything to me. For I know, I know that the Iraq you have known will never come back. Not now, not in my children's lifetime, not ever. And no, Im not being a pessimist as you used to call me, but a realist.

Many people are calling this a historical moment. What history? Are we gonna call every election a historical moment?Thats something I dont understand. What kind of history are they making. What will my little ones read when they grow up?Iraq, the Shattered Dream? Hundreds of thousands of people are risking their lives because of Hope. And maybe Hope is the only thing they have right now. But for me this is nothing but a repeat of a definite failure. Sorry Baba, I dont want to upset you, but you always told us to speak our minds, and this is exactly whats on my mind.

Sunshine could not disagree more. She writes:
How many times we think about ourselves, the things we need to do and use the term "I" in the day? It will be great if people say "Iraq"instead in this day, and put the benefit of the community before theirs, because there's nothing in this day more important than voting to build a better future for us and for our families..

All of my relatives in Baghdad and Mosul, inside Iraq and abroad voted, as well as my friends , even those who hesitated to go, decided to vote after I urged them..

I am so proud of all Iraqis who voted and will…

Hammorabi has some hope for the future, but not much:
the interference of the other countries including Iran and Saudi Arabia, the lack of plan for the foreign troops to leave a strong Iraqi army capable to protect the Iraqi borders and internal security and many other problems. All these and other problems resulted in a weak and corrupted Iraq...

Today most the Iraqis went for election looking for a change which they hope it will come after this election to result in a government and parliament without sectarian ideology. It should take the interest of Iraq on the top and not the interest of the other countries.

We feel that some change may come and we know there is nothing magic.

And Finally:

Living in the US, Iraq the Model has a somewhat different experience voting:
In December 2005 we walked from home to the voting center (which also used to be where I went to school as a kid) to a soundtrack of mortars and gunfire. Indeed, that ten minute walk was wrapped in so much fear and worry, but also in so much hope and pride.

My trip to the voting center will be less interesting this time because I'll be taking the orange line to Arlington where the place is, which happens to be some hotel whose owner will eventually be Paris Hilton.

Yes, that's a little boring.

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