Iraqi Bloggers Roundup

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Time to Shake Things Up

If you've been checking the comments pages, then you'll already have a pretty good idea about the new changes. First, I'm opening up the blog to some new and hopefully permanent, contributors. I'd like to start out by welcoming my friend from across the border, Louise, to Iraqi Bloggers Roundup. She'll be posting on the discussions and comments of other Iraqi blog frequentors, so you better watch what you write. It may just come back to haunt you.

The second big change is the unveiling of ...drum roll please...
Beyond the Blackened Stump. This will be the side show to the Roundup. A place for East and West, Left and Right and everyone in between to put down their guards, set aside their differences, and get back in touch with their humanity. Scott from Oregon and myself will be editing, but we want YOUR input and contributions. Send us your pictures, jokes, links to your favorite websites, funny anecdotes, or anything else that tickles your funny bone (or cerebral cortex).


Get your digital out of your pocket and snap it to me...

Election season is bearing down on us like a security guard after you've just lifted your favorite Mall store gadget, and is looking just as frothy. Like security guards, elections come with badges.... and signage, and a whole lot of lecturing on what we're gonna do to you...
Amusing stuff when you dismiss the fact that voting in a government is a profoundly influential ritual that plays huge roles in the way our lives live out....
On my way down the road, I happened to see a cloistered group of signs in a yard in a neighborhood, in a smallish town, about as far away from Washington DC and Iraq as you could place a smallish town.

US out of the UN NOW!
Jesus is Coming Soon.
Bush/Cheney '04
I Want MY NRA
Bob for dogcatcher...(OK, a bunch of local district signs that I can't remember)
I also saw two signs juxtaposed-- Kerry/Edwards One Man, One Woman.
And then these two-- Bush/Cheney No Hunting

I thought it would be a unique twist to blogging if we used pictures to display election time and posted them here. Seen a funny yard full of election posters?
CLICK AND SEND MY FRIEND.

We'll post them
here and invite as many Iraqis as we can to stop by to see how silly we get when we are doing something as serious as choosing our government. Don't be shy. Do a drive by shooting and send your results to us.


Welcome to Iraqi Bloggers Anonymous

Hi. My name is Louise and I’m an Iraqi Blog addict. As you may have already read, Torch has graciously offered me a cameo appearance on his (her?) blog. With any luck, I’ll be guest blogging about once a week. Thanks for the invite, Torch. I hope I don’t disappoint, or worse yet, get myself banned.

Torch does a great job of summarizing and critiquing Iraqi bloggers, so what I would like to focus on is the discussions by my fellow Iraqi Blog addicts. Be warned, though, I don’t suffer fools gladly.

However, this week all I'm going to do is wax philosophically on what Iraqi Bloggers, and those of us who are addicted to them, do for the world. First and foremost – do we learn a lot from each other!! The information that we share in the comments section augments the various points of view expressed by our favorite bloggers and every week there are invariably some great links to insightful news items and documents found on the web that anyone can read.

Anyone who has been reading the Iraqi blogs for the last while (some of them have been around for a year or more now) will know that we have witnessed a very strong bond develop between the bloggers and their loyal readers. This bond, IMHO, is itself a most valuable tool for promoting democracy and defeating terror. Those Iraqis who are blogging, or who are just posting their comments on Iraqi blogs, seem to have their resolve strengthened by the support we are giving them. And that support is genuine, as illustrated by how much we all worry when a blogger mysteriously disappears for a long time. Some of our Iraqi friends have had to deal with extreme crises and have shared that with us, and seem grateful that the world is bearing witness to their struggles. Just as their first hand accounts of what is really going on is important to us, our witness to their trials is important to them.

One of the really cool things about the Iraqi blogs is that those Iraqi bloggers and commenters who are still in Iraq are experiencing the exhilaration of freedom of expression for the first time. They are free to criticize not only the former regime, but the current interim government as well.

It is an understatement to say that we are witnessing the emergence of an extremely powerful tool for the whole of humanity - the Internet, which, through the vehicle of blogs, is giving voice to ordinary people the world over and Iraqi bloggers are the pioneers. They are spreading the call for freedom and are showing others what needs to be done.

Do I believe democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights can be achieved in Iraq? You bet. Throughout human history great ideas have spread across vast reaches of the globe, spread through such mediums as trade and the printing press, technology of transportation and communication, not to mention inveterate travelers like Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta. In our modern age, thanks to things like the Internet, the speed with which new ideas and deeper understanding of events spread and take hold is phenomenal. We're talking a few decades, perhaps even less, where such movements once took centuries. It's the domino theory again, but I believe it will happen and I believe the war in Iraq is one of the critical tipping points along the way. No wonder I'm an addict.

Let me close by wishing Fayrouz a Happy Anniversary!! Her blog will be a year old in just a few days. Blog on, Fayrouz! You are a gentle ambassador of peace and goodwill.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Faiza's Latest Post on the Media, Occupation and Support of Terrorism

When I’m already in a foul mood, I should know better than to read one of Faiza’s posts. Oh well, stupid me. The last thing I want to read about is more car bombs, assassinations, and kidnappings. I did however manage to make it all the way through the post and find these interesting nuggets:

“Since the fall of the regime, and the entry of the occupation forces to Iraq, and the media there wants to convince the world that Iraq is on the brink of a civil war, but the bombings that took place to evoke controversy between the Sunni and the Shi'aa did not work… nor did those between the Kurds and Arabs, they did not succeed, unless you count limited places in the northern cities… and they did not succeed between Muslims and Christians, despite the bombing of churches…”

The majority of Americans also distrust the predictions of civil war by the mass media. As I noted in a
previous post, not all Iraqis agree with Faiza’s assessment, but I sincerely hope she’s right.

~~~

Faiza has a few words to anyone calling for the immediate removal of foreign troops:

“Whoever person who has an ounce of brains, and quietness in his head would tell them: Stay, do not withdraw, until conditions get better…”

Amen to that.
~~~

“The kidnappings of foreigners and the bombings are carried out by non-existing organizations, that have no faces, and no real existence on earth, illusion organizations that have web sites and documentary films on Al-Jazzera Channel…Who are their owners? Who finances them? No one knows…”

I don’t think there are any “owners” of these terrorist groups, but I’m pretty sure I know how they’re getting their funding. At the end of Faiza’s post she tells us the story of her driver whose sister lives in Fallujah. Her house was recently damaged by a missile strike. The cleric at the local mosque is accepting donations to help families rebuild their houses and distributes the money to the poor and widows. Call me a skeptic, but what do you think the chances are that the money will actually go where it’s intended? Maybe this is just my pessimistic mood taking over, but I think Faiza just helped purchase a few more guns, RPGs, and mortars for the insurgents.
How do you think she'd feel if she learned she were actually supporting the terrorism in Iraq? Maybe she could call Yusuf Islam (the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens) for advice.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Milblogs Roundup

FSIO has started his new job and is blogging again. He's no longer making badges, but is now busy escorting people around Baghdad. Here's his description of Iraqi drivers and their reactions to military convoys:

"For the most part, they try to stay out of our way and obey what directions we give them. A lot even make the effort to give us a clear lane to travel, and that works out better for all, because that way we get out of their way faster. There are those that are driving and just not paying any attention to anything and luckily 5 tons of armored truck with a machine gun mounted on top makes them wake up. I've had several close calls with inattentive drivers but none that have hit my vehicle. And then, there are those, teenage drivers who try and weave in and out of traffic not realizing that we will win any battle between our vehicle and theirs."

Ahh, teenage drivers. The bane of existence all over the world.


~~~


Combat Doc has an interesting, new post titled More about Iraq or You'd Be Surprised at What You Get Use To. I think a better title would be:


You Know You've Been in Iraq too Long When...


"Tracer fire is so common that you watch it at night like a fireworks display, you only worry when you hear it and don't see it. That means it's moving horizontally. Car bombs shake the building you're in no matter how far away they are. If you hear it you feel it. You only hang around for 2 minutes to see if you get called out, if not you go back to your bootleg movie. Mortar rounds go off all day long. Usually two or three at a time and maybe twice a day. You can tell if you're in danger by the sound. If it whizzes you're good because it's moving laterally; when it's quiet after you hear it leave the tube you get wary but you don't go running off for the bunkers until it hits and then you usually wait for the third one. That means he's walking them in. They mostly miss. It's fun watching the new guys show up, they still think it's a war movie. When someone runs or ducks for cover you will more than likely make fun of him. Here's why, if you hear the explosion you're fine. No matter how fast you move the schrapnel moves faster. Also explosions aren't like, say, a fire; once it blows it's done. Bullets are the same way unless you're getting sprayed then ducking may not be so bad but most of the time you hear when that's happening. Funny, a huge explosion just went off RIGHT NOW north of the FOB and not one person in this room stopped typing. We all just looked up to see if the flash was close enough to worry about, it wasn't."

~~~

Most of us know about Spc. Colby Buzzell's blog MY WAR and the trampling of his First Amendment Rights. He no longer posts dramatic, first-hand accounts of military operations, but he's still posting occasionally and has a famous (or perhaps infamous) fan in Jello Biafra, the frontman for the hardcore punk band Dead Kennedys. Jello wants Colby to know that he and his political activist friends support him. Of course, they do this by shouting "'Bring The Troops Home!' as loud and as often as [they] can."
Maybe it's just me, but I think a show of support would mean a little more than just a shout.

Actually, maybe it's not just me:


Kid Rock blasts his peers for not performing in Iraq


"I do not believe that artists or actors and people should be out there like voicing their full-blown opinions on politics because, let's face it, at the end of the day, I'm not that smart of a guy. I play rock 'n' roll, that's what I do. "

"...why don't these motherf**kers go over there and play for our soldiers in Iraq? ..."

[Hattip: vrangel]

~~~

Raven1 at Our Turn In Baghdad just bought a "Singing Saddam" doll and asks himself "Why am I buying a doll made in China of a former Iraqi dictator?" He then adds that he still wants the "Dancing Saddam" doll if he can get it.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Good News/Bad News

Dagger Jag has a new post today describing some of the recent successes and setbacks in the province he's working in. Progress includes renovation and building of schools, hospitals, courthouses, police and fire stations, water treatment plants, and job training programs. Setbacks have occurred not only due to sporadic attacks, but failures of the local government in taking charge and making decisions:

"For most of Iraq's recent history (even before Saddam's era) all decisions of any importance were made in Baghdad. Everything was centralized. So now we have local leaders who are incapable of making decisions without approval from the central authority. Even if they are now empowered to make those decisions."

It will take much time, patience and love to heal an entire nation of
PTSD.


~~~


Ferid also has a
good news/bad news post today.
The good news- he's got a new car. SWEEEEEEEET!
The bad news- he failed his final exams. UHHHHHHHG!
When you get a chance, drop by and tell him he's no LOSER. He's Ferid the Great!

~~~


For those seeking only the dark cloud on the horizon, there's always
Khalid's blog. Today's post has him recycling some old military footage of a missile strike on suspected insurgents. Of course these are all innocent, unarmed civilians just out on a leisurely midnight stroll through the streets of Fallujah. Mostly women and kids. On their way to a wedding, too.


Is there ANY conspiracy theory this guy DOESN'T fall for? Hey Khalid, I have it on good authority that the aliens are coming to abduct you out of your bed tonight. They want to conduct unnatural experiments on your body and impregnate you with an alien/human hybrid. Of course, the real motive is to implant a mind-control chip in your brain so that there won't be any resistance when they come to steal all your oil. Bush is kicking himself right now for not thinking of it himself. Anyway, you might want to sleep in your Mama's bed tonight. Don't forget the tinfoil hat (keeps them from probing your mind) and your fuzzy slippers (just to keep your feet warm if the aliens manage to get you- I've heard it's kinda chilly on their spacecrafts.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Is Iraq Spiraling into Chaos?

Every day we hear more tales of kidnappings, beheadings, suicide bombs, and civilian deaths. There seems to be no end to the acts of terrorism targeting foreigners and even Iraqis themselves. The latest U.S. National Intelligence Estimate report on Iraq predicts three possible scenarios. The most favorable outcome was described as "a tenuous stability". A second possibility was increased extremism and fragmentation impeding rebuilding efforts. The worst case scenario was developments that could lead to civil war. Some of the Iraqi bloggers speculate that Iraq is headed towards this bleakest of possibilities.


Kardox reports on the first sign of civil war in the north:

"The beheading of the three young Kurdish boys has created such hatred for Arabs that several Arabs for the past day has been killed or beaten. According a friend of mine 3 Arabs were killed by Kurds in Mosul yesterday after the video of the Kurds were published on a website. Arab gangs in Kerkuk are kidnapping Kurdish children and demanding their families for ransom has also generated a lot of hatred. This anger people feel will soon boil over and Kerkuk will turn into a battlefield and the Americans cannot do anything to stop it. If the Arab tribes in the Mosul area join into this ethnic fight, the civil war will spread to Mosul too."


Sam gives us his perspective on the powers behind the mounting tensions in Iraq:

"The Shia knew that several outside terrorist organisations planning to create a war between Sunni and Shia. However the Sunnis are not doing any thing about this but rather they still dream about their benefits from the previous regime and their absolute control of power over all the other sects in Iraq in spite being a minority for hundreds of years.

The Arabs who are mostly Sunni especially the Wahabis in the Gulf states including Saudi Arabia doing every thing possible to make the absolute Sunni control of power to go back to crush the others in Iraq. Wahabis consider all the people other than the Sunnis as infidels and should be killed as and when there is an opportunity to do so. This killing according to their doctrine is in the name of God who is innocent from this sin.

Iran on the other hand in spite its Shiite doctrine but they first fight the US in Iraq and second they don't like to lose their leadership for the Shia in the world if Najaf schools and universities going back to its glory which was hindered by the Iraqi dictator regimes. If this happened it may attract several Shiite scholars to migrate from Iran to Najaf.

If a civil war occurs all the possibilities will get opened but the terrorists will implement their own plan which will not [be] confined to Iraq alone. It will certainly and without any doubt spread quickly to the other countries. The first countries to which the trouble will get in are the same countries which incubate terrorist doctrine and send its graduates to Iraq and other regions. No regional country will be immune at all."

~~~

The situation appears rather bleak. Mainstream media leads us to believe that there is no hope for Iraq and that Iraqis themselves are doing nothing to combat terrorism or improve the current situation. Not all of the Iraqi bloggers see the situation in such pessimistic terms.


For example, Omar at Iraq the Model reports that the citizens of Baghdad are not idly sitting by while terrorists are running around planting mines:

"According to New Sabah newspaper, after a road side bomb exploded missing an American convoy that was patrolling in the area, a group of citizens who happened to be there noticed a bunch of young men who looked foreigners (turned out to be Syrians) that were gathering near the place and that looked suspicious. The citizens found their attitude very suspicious and they were not from the area, so they jumped on them and kicked them until some of them started to bleed and then turned them on to the American forces. Eyewitnesses said that the citizens were shouting 'Terrorists. You are targeting our children and families. You are killing our youths'."

"This incident that took place near Haifa street comes after many attacks that terrorist Arabs were accused of carrying against American forces and Iraqi police stations."



Firas George at Iraq & Iraqis has not given up on the future of Iraq and suggests a Secret War to fight terrorism:

"In our war against terrorism we do need to open the world eyes to see the truth about how terrorism [is] being financed and to establish an antiterrorism fund to finance the secret war against it and to let it accept donation from all over the world, by that we can give a chance to anyone who don't have a role in war against terrorism to have one. Also we need a secret army to fight that war and all its leads and any expected leads, that means we must even fight those who are openly supporting terrorism and don't hide it, actually they are declaring it on the media and starting their own media and TV stations, because there is no enough reasons for such station to be the sound of those killers but to be financed by them or by their supporters, and why a secret army? So it will act positively without any fears of being known and harme them or their families by those blind brain washed killers."


Alaa (The Mesopotamian) remains optimistic:

"Very hard thinking of the required strategy is required; and with all the powerful, technically advanced people on the side of the majority of the Iraqi people who just long for a peaceful decent outcome of this situation; surely the right solutions can be found. This can't be harder than reaching the moon or splitting the atom!"


Monday, September 20, 2004

Back to School

Majid Jarrar is blogging again. He's at his new school in Canada and has several great pics of the campus and nearby activities. The question is, why is he studying in Canada and not Baghdad? In his own words:

"...that resolution that came out from the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education saying that non-Iraqi students are no longer allowed to study in Iraq, neither depending on their grades nor on their money, did nothing but assured me that I’m no longer welcomed in my country. "

Apparently, the Iraqi government decided that non-Iraqis (i.e. Palestinians) will no longer get preferential treatment in post-Saddam Iraq. No more free housing, military exemptions, or university stipends. No more Baathist bonus points added to your final grades, either. Yeah, it's just rough all over for the Jarrar family. If things get much worse, they may have to sell off one of their Mercedes or even the vacation house in Jordan.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Is Raed an Anti-Semite?

Raed has been trying to secure a Visa to the US, but recently the organization which invited him has changed their minds. Why? They have accused him of being anti-Semitic. Raed's response:

"How can I be 'anti-Semitic' when I am Palestinian?I mean… I AM Semitic…"

The word Semite often refers to speakers of a subgroup of the
Afroasiatic languages including, among others, Arabic, Hebrew, and Amharic. Outside linguistics, the term's primary use nowadays is to refer to the ethnic groups who have historically spoken Semitic languages, although with the prefix anti- it most commonly refers just to Jews.

Definitions of anti-Semitism:

1. Hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group- Merriam-Webster

2. Hate or strong dislike of Jews, or actions that express hate or dislike of Jews- Cambridge Dictionary of Amrican English

So Raed is technically correct in his assertion that he is a Semite. However, his conclusion that being Semite precludes his ability to be anti-Semitic is not a logical one. The term anti-Semitic is not generally used in its literal translation. Modern use of the term has redefined its meaning to a negative position against Jews. So in this context, is Raed anti-Semitic? I doubt we will ever get a straight-forward answer on this one. We will just have to rely on our own interpretations of his words, such as this interesting excerpt from his blog:


Wednesday, March 24, 2004

"Still studying, and translating my mother's blogs

the hate and anger that the one can feel and see in the eyes of men, can explain why tragic events such as what happened in the 11th of sep. happen.
one year on the occupation of Iraq, and the "man of peace" as Bush called him decides to supervise personally the assassination plan, against Ahmad Yasin.People were shouting in the demonstrations, here in Amman, and in Baghdad, Beirut, Cairo, Yemen, Damascus and many other capitals... sad and angry slogans is all what they can do. "We'll destroy Israel"they said, and I smiled :*)" [emphasis mine]

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Strange as Truth

Riverbend has a new post today:

"Everyone is simply tired in Baghdad. We've become one of those places you read about in the news and shake your head thinking, 'What's this world coming to?' Kidnappings. Bombings. Armed militias. Extremists. Drugs. Gangs. Robberies. You name it, and we can probably tell you several interesting stories."

She also includes a personal analysis of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 film:

"All in all, the film was- what is the right word for it? Great? Amazing? Fantastic? No. It made me furious, it made me sad and I cried more than I'd like to admit- but it was brilliant. The words he used to narrate were simple and to the point. I wish everyone could see the film. I know I'll be getting dozens of emails from enraged Americans telling me that so-and-so statement was exaggerated, etc. But it really doesn't matter to me. What matters is the underlying message of the film- things aren't better for Americans now than they were in 2001, and they certainly aren't better for Iraqis."

Well, I guess she won't bother watching this movie then. An open mind will seek answers from all sides and then make an informed decision for themselves. Many people are not on a search for truth, but a search for affirmation of their beliefs. This leads many people to seek out what they already know as "true" and discredit anything that opposes their preconceived notions. The search for truth is quite perilous and may lead you down a path you prefer not to walk. Perhaps somewhere along the journey you will realize that truth is stranger than fiction, not because it is beyond the realm of possibilities but simply because it is harder to find.

~~~

"The truth that makes men free is, for the most part, the truth which men prefer not to hear." - Herbert Agar

"Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." - Winston Churchill

"Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who have found it." - Andre Gide, So Be It, 1959




Monday, September 13, 2004

Theories and Thoughts

Ali at Iraq the Model, has an interesting theory on suicide attacks and Iraqi “resistance.” He notes the sharp decline in suicide attacks during each of the two revolts of Sadr’s Mehdi militia:

“When Sadr revolts suicide attacks stop and when Sadr stops suicide attacks resume. The only two suicide attacks that were carried during this period was soon after a peace agreement was reached and when clashes broke up again they stopped. I think that when the Mehdi militia issue will be settled, we will witness again another horrible series of suicide attacks. This whole theory depends on assuming that the relation between the “resistance” and its supporters is much stronger than it looks. The people who support the “resistance” finance it and thus can dictate to a considerable extent its strategy.”

He also has some strong opinions regarding the impact of the situation in Iraq on American elections. He predicts increased attacks on Americans in Iraq as an attempt to sway American opinions against the operation and President Bush. Bush has clearly stated his intentions of keeping troops in Iraq until the job is done and a stable government has been established. The perception of many is that the election of Kerry in November would lead to a withdrawal of troops from Iraq, despite the fact that he has never formally stated this at any time. In Ali’s own words: “[t]he bottom line is that with Kerry they think they have a chance but with Bush there is none.”

~~~

Alaa (
The Mesopotamian) watched the recent events unfolding in Russia and has these few but poignant words:

“Nothing and no cause can justify this, no way. And what is more unbearable is that these zombies carry out all these atrocities in the name of my own religion, in the name of my own God. What can one say?”

~~~

Zeyad's post On clerics, fatwas, and terrorism is an analysis of the complexities and intricacies of modern-day Islam. He points out the fact that there are many different sects/groups/cults of Islam and that clerics and leaders speak only for the beliefs and followers of their sect/group/cult. There is no central authority to all Muslims and no single interpretation of Islamic beliefs. This is an important fact to remember when condemning "Islamic terrorism." The words and actions of a distinct minority should not be considered reflections of the religion as a whole.

~~~

Sam at Hammorabi denounces the terrorists and rejects their inclusion in Islam. This is the stance taken by many Islamic leaders and scholars. I'm glad that the majority of Muslims do not support or condone terrorism. I agree that it is not truly representative of Islam. However, I am concerned with the message it sends to the supporters and followers of these radical groups. By rejecting them and denouncing their beliefs, moderate Muslims are driving a deeper wedge between themselves and these individuals. Separating them from mainstream Islam will only marginalize them further.

The War on Terror is not going to be won by American tanks and missiles. It is beyond the scope of any military or government. At best, it will reduce the frequency and severity of attacks. At worst, it will further inflame the radicals and provide propaganda used to entice additional recruits. You can destroy training camps, confiscate weapons, and arrest individuals. You can damage the physical capabilities and hinder financial backing. You can overthrow governments and remove despotic dictators; but you can not stamp out ideas or beliefs. You can not change a mindset or ideology with a gun. The teaching of radical ideas can only be combated with alternative teachings and viewpoints. This is not a war against a nation, dictator, regime, or people. This is not a war against Islam. It is an internal struggle within Islam that will not be solved by violence and politics.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

We Will Never Forget

Dedicated to the men, women and children who lost their lives; all those who sacrificed their lives; and to all the Heroes that responded to the emergency 11 September 2001.

Steve Golding, the creator of the video:

"I created this page to honor those I lost, those that America had lost and all of those dedicated, caring human beings who responded to this wanton cowardly act and who we refer to simply as heroes. To help sustain our nation resolve while we respond to this horrific attack. Images of that day are burnt into my soul that I will never forget. Images that no one should ever see. My soul aches."

Read his entire statement here.

~~~

The Mind of Thee
Angela Swanger

In the mind of thee,
I wish that I could see.

To know the thought within,
To provoke such evil sin.

But not the mind of thee,
Is found within the mind of me.

I know not the way you thought,
That such a tragedy you sought.

In the mind of thee,
I never want to be!


NOT JUST - poems and essays on September 11, 2001

Monday, September 06, 2004

Good News from Najaf

Despite the recent truce in Najaf, the local citizens have once again taken to the streets in protest. How is this good news? Because it's a protest against Al-Sadr and his Mehdi Army:

Najaf protesters want Sadr out
The Washinton Times

Residents of Najaf, Iraq took to the streets Monday calling on radical cleric Moqtada Sadr and his Mehdi Army militia to leave the holy Shiite city.

Witnesses said protesters chanted anti-Sadr slogans screaming "take you hands off the city, the people of Najaf do not want you."

The protest, the second of its kind in two days, coincided with a meeting in Najaf between Sadr and grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in addition to Najaf's governor Adnan al-Zarfi and Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Iran-backed Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or SCIRI.
The recurring protests against the presence of the Mehdi Army constituted the biggest challenge to Sadr's claim to speak for a large portion of Iraq's majority Shiite community.

Sadr's militia battled U.S.-backed Iraqi forces for three weeks in Najaf last month, claiming the lives of dozens of Iraqis.

~~~

AYS at Iraq at a Glance is also encouraged by this news:

"My God..what a great news..at last the Iraqi people got out to the streets of AlNajaf in a demonstration against Muqtada, they want him to get out of the city and also do not want any one of his followers to pray there..They were cursing his militia, courts and they looked so angry..AlHurra channel met few of them who said ‘we don’t want him..they are thieves’ The people were repeating words that support the ING and IP and wanted the government to put an end to what they called ‘a disgrace’ and ‘crimes’ that happened in AlNajaf especially the courts of Muqtada.."

AYS also includes photos of the demonstration from the broadcast by the Iraqi channel AlHurra.

~~~

This is actually the second demonstration held by the citizens of Najaf against Sadr and his militia:

Police in Najaf, Kufa confront worshippers approaching mosques
BY DOGEN HANNAH
Knight Ridder Newspapers
Posted on Fri, Sep. 03, 2004

In Najaf, scores of demonstrators took to the streets in the battle-scarred heart of the city near the Imam Ali shrine to protest the presence of al-Sadr and his militia and to back Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, who brokered last week's peace deal. The agreement called for the Mahdi Army to give up its arms, but many militia members in Najaf are thought to have kept them, hiding them at home or elsewhere.

"The demands of the demonstrators in general and for the people of Najaf especially are to ensure safety and security and to have stability back," said one protester, 38-year-old Abu Mohammed al-Najafi, identifying himself with a nickname.

Demonstrators shouted chants denouncing al-Sadr, including one that equated him with deposed dictator Saddam Hussein.


~~~

Sorry Khalid, looks like Al-Sadr is an "extra super popular hero" to you, but not the citizens of Najaf.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Seeing Eye to Eye with Faiza

Faiza's latest post begins with a description of her daily life. An end to the oppressive heat is in sight. The ride to work is (understandably) filled with fear and loathing. Business with state officials reveals the corruption and dishonest practices that Westerners have come to expect from government (I guess she's never heard the $500 hammer theory). Just when the doom and gloom of the current situation pervades her post, we see a ray of light peeking through the clouds:

"I can perfectly understand the attitude of the American Government…. They have waged war on Iraq, they have vouched to rebuild Iraq in a new style… so, it is to their advantage, and to keep face, they would say everything is all right in Iraq…and moving according to schedule. Because admitting defeat would destroy the government's future, and that of the Ruling Party…Well, all we care about as Iraqis is for the coming administration to be more honest and transparent in dealing with the Iraqi file…we want no excuses for the catastrophes that happened, but we want a successful and tangible work plan, that would rebuild our life again…this is better than apologies. If I have done some wrong to a person, or a group, the best thing would be to help them get over their pains, which I was partly responsible for. That is how I understand things, according to my view and experience in life. To help those whom I have, intentionally or non-intentionally, shared in destroying their lives. To lead them to a better future…to help them build their new life…
This is what Iraqis want from America and its new government….good deeds on the ground of reality…deeds that would make Iraqis happy, and prove the honesty and seriousness of America towards us….I do not wish for four new coming years of pain, unsuccessful experiments, unclear visions, and going astray…..
The American people will be the one to help us, they will be in test, and not only the government's credibility…. The whole nation there is subjected to the test…. A test of truthfulness in keeping promises, a test of the humanitarian vision towards other nations….The test of Civilization, and the ability of Cultural Communication with others….without violence, without boasting or bragging, nor lying to oneself.
I hope America will succeed in the test here, for it will give her a good, clean reputation, and will give us a lot of hope in the presence of an honest, understanding partner, who intends to help us..........Days will be between us........"
[emphasis mine]

I couldn't agree more. This is indeed a test of America's intentions in the Middle East and a chance to show the world that we do more than merely tolerate alien cultures; we embrace them. I see further signs of enlightenment and hope in this statement:

"I only want to understand the true face of America…is she with us, or against us… I want frankness…nothing but frankness, for that is the first key to know the other, and his true intentions. The military operations of the war ended in a short time….But that who deserves respect and clapping, is the one who can make peace and stability, reducing the disasters of the after-war period, disasters like gangs, thieves, robberies, and official corruption…This is the true test of the American ability here….If she succeeds, she deserves to be the Paramount Nation who deserves respect… And if she doesn't….then she is the nation who deserves pity….more than Iraqis. For her bereavement is a lot bigger than theirs."

I can only speculate as to what has brought about this new sense of hope and a desire to understand the intents of the American government. Perhaps her involvement in the Iraqi Business Women Society has been the positive influence on her new perspective. Perhaps the uncontested truce with Al-Sadr and the withdrawal of American forces from Najaf have demonstrated the willingness of our government to compromise and seek peaceful resolutions. The cause for this shift in attitude is not as important as the apparent result and I hope this is only the initial sign of evolution from helpless victim to empowered citizen... "Inshallah" as the Iraqis might say, or "God willing and the creek don't rise" as my Appalachian relatives would say.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

Lord Voldemort and Iraq
by Fayrouz, Live from Dallas

“Lately, Iraq has been a practical example for the Harry Potter story. Al-Sadr being Lord Voldemort. Yes, he is. Let's stop denying the fact that he's ruining the future of Iraq. Harry Potter is Al-Sistani, who solves any crisis by the end of every episode of Sistani Potter and Lord Sadr. Allawi reminds me so much of Professor Dumbledore, who supposedly has the ultimate powers but didn't act much during the first rounds while Voldemort was running around killing every good person in the wizardly world.

Last week, we watched the latest episode of Harry Sistani and Lord Sadr. Everyone wished this would be the end of Lord Sadr. No no, why would we be logical and solve this issue once and forever. Iraqi government -- Professor Dumbledore and his staff -- pardoned this murderer again so he could regain his powers in few months and start another episode of his chaotic acts. Not only pardoned for murders already committed, but by giving him the additional right to participate in the Iraqi political process. How wonderful is that? Lord Voldemort for Congress.”

Yes, another fine example of how truth is stranger than fiction.

~~~

Alaa (The Mesopotamian) never fails to remind us of the resiliency and courage of the Iraqi people:

“Today the Interim National Assembly held its first meeting. Several mortars fell near the place where the proceedings were taking place, some shaking the walls of the building. These explosions did not seem to bother those present in the slightest. For those who doubt the bravery and determination of the Iraqi people, just imagine this happening anywhere else. Would any other assembly in any other place just continue its work with such absolute calm and normalcy under similar circumstances?”

Read the whole thing here.
~~~

If you haven’t been reading the Kurdish blogs, you should be. Kurds are playing an important role in shaping the political future of Iraq. Hiwa at Kurdistan Bloggers Union expresses “pride, joy, caution, care, wonder, excitement” at the news that Dr. Foad Masoom will be heading the Iraqi National Assembly. Dr. Masoom and approximately 20 other Kurds are part of the assembly. Hiwa is cautiously optimistic, but shows perseverance and determination- “we must work harder and harder, we have a long way to go!” Bravo Hiwa!
~~~

Sarmad started a new job this week. When you get a chance, stop by and wish him well. Congratulations Sarmad!

~~~

Congratulations to Najma and hnk! They are the proud aunts of a beautiful, new niece- Aya.

~~~

Combat Doc at A Candle in the Dark has an interesting assessment of the War on Terror:

“Somalia and Mohammed Farah Aidid were funded by Bin Laden. The bombing of the World Trade Center was partly funded by Bin Laden. The bombing of the Embassy's in Africa were Bin Laden funded. The bombing of the Riyadh barracks was Bin Laden. The bombing of the USS Cole was Bin Laden funded. What do all these things have in common, Clinton. Why is Bush being given all the heat for this so-called intelligence failure. When the US was attacked by the Taliban and Al-Qaida Bush attacked and destroyed the government and terrorist organization that committed this act. So why does Bush get all the heat for this when he acted after one attack but Clinton did nothing after five much less one.”

Like Combat Doc, I’m no fan of Bush, but I agree that there is a rather hypocritical stance being taken up by the left. They blame Bush for allowing 9/11 to happen and then vilify him for doing something to prevent it from happening again. How exactly do they think you fight terrorism? With warm hugs and wet kisses?

Will the Real Raed Jarrar Please Stand Up?

Raed has just put up the rest of this week's posts:

Tuesday, August 31st
The American morons and their treasonous puppets have allowed militias to control Falluja, Ramadi, Najaf, and Kufa. Idiots! They shouldn't have attacked! They shouldn't have stopped attacking! Bushtani is a treacherous pawn of a U.S. administration that thinks violence is the solution to every problem. They shouldn't have allowed Bushtani to resolve the Najaf crisis peacefully.

Wednesday, September 1st
Drank some tea today. Grrrrrrrr! I just so hate those callous, stupid, militaristic, Zionist influenced, oil coveting, duplicitous, ignorant, conniving, hegemonic, crusading, evil, incompetent, controlling, unfeeling, manipulative, fatuous, scheming, simplistic, self-interested, ideologically zealous, insular, empire seeking, malevolent, all powerful, impotent American bastards!

Thursday, September 2nd
It rained today. Those fucking Americans...it rained. Can you believe it? Bush and his neo-con cabal made it rain. Bastards. Bush is stupid. Grrrrrrrr.

Friday, September 3rd
Aaaaaargh. Whhhheeeg. glllrrrg. bush stupid glrg. nyeaarg

Oops, my mistake. These are actually the work of a "very friendly and helpful dude" that offered to take some of the anti-American, Bush-bashing load off Raed for the week. Now every time I see a comment on his blog like this: Aaaaaargh. Whhhheeeg. glllrrrg. bush stupid glrg. nyeaarg, I'm going to have to ask myself, is that Raed or John Kerry spouting off during another of his drug-induced, Purple Heart-worthy, Swift-boat-through-Cambodia, hallucinatory rides?