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(The Son of The Two Rivers) Thinking Loudly To Be Heard By The World

Updated: 2017-11-28T16:04:59.665+03:00


De-Baathification (IV)


As an example of ignorance of the high ranks Baathists, there was a story recited by the Iraqis as a joke. It shows the kind of people was leading the state and their ignorance. Hussein Kamil was Saddam’s cousin & son in law. The man was of elementary school education; Saddam granted him the rank of five stars general and assigned him the minister of defense & the supervisor of military industrialization ministry. On visiting a military research institution he came across a machine which had been facing a problem. He asked the researcher about the problem. The answer was ‘It needs steam. I need lot of steam to make it work, sir’. The researcher with complete unawareness used the English word ‘steam’. Kamil immediately issued an order to collect all the ‘steam’ available in the markets to solve the problem. The attendants were about to burst into laughing, which they couldn’t because it might cause them death.Speaking of death, let’s take a look at some resolutions issued by the Revolution Command Council (RCC) impose the death penalty. These resolutions had the force of law. By the way, the RCC was consisting of 10-20 members, mainly of the Baath central leadership. It represented the legislative & executive branches in Iraq.1- The Revolution Command Council Resolution (RCCR) No. 865 dated August 12, 1974 states: Any individual joins the Baath party without revealing his/her ex-relations with any other political parties or maintaining such relations, will be executed.2- RCCR No. 1244 dated November 20, 1976 states: Any individual quits the Baath party and joins another or champions another party (even after quitting the Baath), will be executed.3- RCCR No. 1357 dated November 10, 1971 bans any political activity inside the armed forces; amended in 1976 stating that any person who would be politically active inside the armed forces, except for the Baath party, will be executed.4- RCCR No. 734 on May 30, 1978 imposes death penalty on any Iraqi or foreigner lives in Iraq, if it became obvious that he/she has any kind of relation with non-Iraqi intelligence services (inside or outside Iraq) without the permission of the Iraqi authorities.5- RCCR No. 784 on June 7, 1978 imposes death penalty on any individual who tries to organize a person, who had relation with the Baath party, to work for another political party or group.6- RCCR No. 884 on July 3, 1978 states: any individual who was a member of the army or police will be executed if he/she joins or works for a political party or group (except the Baath) after being discharged from the service or retired.7- RCCR No. 1447 on October 30, 1979 imposes death on any person reverts to Baha’eia (a minority Muslim sect in Iraq).8- RCCR No. 461 on March 31, 1980 imposes death on any individual joins Al-Da’waa Islamic Party or was a member of it and quit the party before issuing this resolution (retroactive law).9- RCCR No. 1140 dated August 26, 1981 which imposes death on deserter; amended by RCCR No. 1540 on November 17, 1981 to include deserters of the Public Army (the Baath Party militia) and the Border Guards.10- RCCR No. 877 on July 7, 1982 imposes death on any absentee soldier from his military unit for more than five days.11- RCCR No. 1133 on September 2, 1982 imposes death penalty on any individual who commits robbery during war.12- RCCR No. 1370 in 1983 imposes death on any individual of an age more than 18, who might escape to the enemy’s lines, conspire against the state security, join Al-Da’waa party, or be a deserter.13- RCCR No. 313 on March 13, 1984 imposes death on any person smuggles currency, gold or uses them to deal with the ‘persian’ enemy.14- RCCR No. 384 on March 31, 1984 issued the law No. 32/1984 of the penal code in the Public Army (the Baath militia). It stated in some of its articles that persons who show cowardice & defeatism will be executed. The law did not define what is meant by ‘cowardice’ & ‘defeatism’ or which side is to set the standards to be followed of these terms.15-[...]

De-Baathification (III)


The secret organization brought forth leaders of weird characteristics. They are rude, ignorant persons. Most of them could barely read & write. Still, some of the early Baathists were educated. They had been charmed by the bright motto of Arab unity, freedom, and socialism. One of those is Dr. Jawad Hashim, who had a PhD from London School of Economic & Political Science in the year 1966. He became the minister of planning several times during the era of President Ahmed Hassan Al-Bakir (1968-1979).Dr. Hashim wrote a book 'An Iraqi Minister Dairy with Al-Bakir & Saddam'. I’ll quote some extracts from this book here. In the year 1967 Dr. Hashim was the secretary of the Iraqi National Board for Education & Social Development. It was before the Baathists could seize power in 1968. The man was assigned by the then Prime Minister Tahir Yahya to prepare a review of the governmental vacancies and to fill them with unemployed high school graduates of that year. He managed to find vacancies more than the number of the graduates. A call was issued for those who would like to be employed. Now, let's read what he wrote about a visit paid to him at work by Ahmed Hassan Al-Bakir (It’s my translation, not an official one):“Al-Bakir handed me a bunch of applications. I promised him that they would be employed if they met the required qualifications. Al-Bakir assured me that they meet the conditions, but he had a request that these youths to be employed at petrol stations which are located in Karkh (the western part of Baghdad), especially those near to the presidential palace & other main governmental headquarters.”The reason for such request was to keep an eye on the officials’ movements & to report them to the Baath leaders. The Baathists were preparing a coup to seize power, which took place on 17th July 1968.This is one of the Baathists’ features which had been developed, later, over 35 years of ruling Iraq. Very sophisticated secret institutions were nurtured introducing a complicated web which can work underground efficiently. It is quite logical that they are using, nowadays, such way to creep into various governmental administrations. Senior Baathist émigrés intimidate those of less ranks, who still live in Iraq, forcing them to do certain dirty tasks. For example, informing the Baath leadership about any new infrastructure projects. And if one of these lower ranks Baathists refused to cooperate, his family could be targeted. It is a mafia work style.The main mission to be pursued by the Baathist, in the mean time, is to paralyze life in Iraq. It is carried out expertly by an elite of secret service men who had been trained in different countries during the Baath era. But one can notice that the term ‘Baath’ is not used by any group claiming resistance in Iraq. It seems that the mass killings taking place in Iraq should not be connected to the ‘Baath’, so that the Baath could take the role of the savior of the Iraqi people in case of regaining power.With a very huge amount of money made out of billions of dollars, it becomes so easy to fund sabotage and killings. Let’s read again in Dr. Hashim’s book about the source of these billions:“A Portuguese company, Colbankian, owned 5% of the Iraqi oil concession. In the years 1972 & 1973, Iraq nationalized its petroleum industry. Saddam decided to keep this 5% revenue to the Baath party in a special bank account outside Iraq. According to Saddam, this amount of money is to be used to regain power in case of a counter coup took place against the Baath regime or a foreign power invaded Iraq.I recall a private meeting with Saddam attended by Ameen Abdul Kareem (the then minister of finance), Dr. Fawzee Al-Kaisee (the then governor of the central bank) and me, when Saddam said to us:‘The Baath party seized power in Iraq to rule for 300 years. To maintain ruling Iraq or regaining power in case of counter coup, a huge source of money should be available abroad. We won’t let same mistakes of the experience of 1963 hap[...]

De-Baathification (II)


To get promoted in the party, one should write as much as possible secret reports. Promotion means that one is evolving into a Baathist. Secret reports were used by plotters to get rid of rivals. It became the suitable mean way for a wife to get rid of a husband & vice versa; to get rid of a competitor in work; to harm an annoying neighbor…etc. Many filthy stories were known to the Iraqis about people who did so, and many others were discovered after the fall of Saddam's regime.Unforgettable incident was an occasion on which Saddam rewarded a man for killing his son who was a conscientious objector during the Iraqi-Iranian war. Secret cassette recorders were the most deadly weapon in this system. One might find himself accused for saying words while he was drunk. More guilt and pricking of the conscience might be felt on finding oneself a witness in a recorder case, especially when the investigators do not tell the witness about the recorded tape. A famous Iraqi singer, Sabah As'sahil, was executed because of something he said, against Saddam, while he was drunk. His wife was the one who set the trap for him and taped his words.One category of active writers of secret reports was those who have one of their family or relatives had been executed or fled the country. They did so to protect themselves by showing loyalty. Another was the opportunists who had no morality. In general, one can imagine what kind of organization the Baath party was.The vast majority of the Baath party members were just like me. They wanted, and still, to live in peace. To avoid this mafia which is called Baath, they join the party and remain in the lowest levels. The Baath hierarchy consists of more than eleven levels. It begins with 'Moayeed' which means 'supporter'. Promotion means less work and more privileges. A privilege is not leading a luxurious life; it could be staying alive.Depriving the people of their basic rights changes any kind of gesture from the ascending chain of comrades to a privilege. The gesture could be as trivial as several packets of cigarettes.Hassan Alawee is a journalist, who was of the first generation of Iraqi Baathists (early 1950s), wrote many books about his experience for more than 25 years as a member of the Baath party. By the late 1970s he became Saddam's press secretary. He fled the country after executing his cousin (Saddam's minister of planning) in 1979. One of the books he wrote is 'Iraq the State of the Secret Organization' (1990). Let's quote some extracts from it. These extracts are translated by me, so it is not official one and I hope it conveys the essence of the Arabic text."The comrades in charge are usually individuals with no responsibilities (in practical life) assigned to run the party affairs. These comrades are helped by partially devoted members who could be employees, students, military personnel, doctors, workers, farmers…etc. The secret dedication does not let the latter to have sufficient time to develop their skill and be successful in the fields of their specialty. They are not active in their firms. The sluggish & indolent in the society are the ones who are active & influential in the party.So, the party cadres in charge do not contain a notable sociologist, historian, surgeon…etc. inconsistency between the party cadres and experts or specialists had its profound effect on the governmental administration. One of the secret organization traditions is to treat intellectuals & scientists as inferiors since they can't carry out the party tasks efficiently. On the other hand, indolent people & losers represented the leading cadre of the organization which became later the leading cadre of the nation.Here is one story 'Professor Khalid Mohammed Sa'eid, a friend of mine, was a university lecturer in brain surgery at the college of medicine. He and I were members of the same party cell. The comrade in charge of our cell was Abdul Kadir Hummadee Al-Anee. The man was a ticket seller at the governmental public transport compa[...]

De-Baathification (I)


The US administration and its Iraqi allies seem to have dissimilar approaches to the de-baathification law. The Americans want to go much further than the Iraqis in easing rules barring former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party from government service.I was a member of the Baath party till overthrowing Saddam. My story is similar to those of the vast majority of Iraqis who were members of the party. Bear in mind the difference between two terms, I'm going to use here, 'Baathist' and 'Member of the Baath party'. Rereading a previous post (Rambling Post) could be helpful; from which I'll continue.The Baath party was exploited by the US during the cold war. The communists became very active in Iraq after the coup of 1958 and they represented a real threat to the west interests in this country. The Baathists managed to seize power on the 8th of February 1963. The general secretary of the Baath party at that time, Ali Salih As'sadee, said literally in a famous statement 'We came to power on an American train', as a figurative reference. They ruled for ten bloody months ended by another coup.On the 17th of July 1968, they regained power. A new policy started to emerge beginning with a famous declaration made by Saddam in 1970, stating that "Iraqis who are not members of the Baath party are barred from joining the army". This exclusion was expanding year after another. It included the police, security forces, the judiciary, educational system…etc. In general, it was very difficult to get a governmental job without being a member of the Baath party. Iraq was ruled through a very centralized totalitarian regime, so no many jobs were available out of the government grip. Day after another it became a firm rule absorbed by the community which says "To achieve one's goals in life, it is obligatory to join the Baath party".The Baath party represented a security buffer body through which loyalty of people could be verified. Certain individuals are chosen to certain positions according to rules of validation. For example, allowing a young man to join the Iraqi air force as a fighter pilot requires him to be of Arab ethnicity, Muslim, Sunni, of certain bunch of tribes. Moreover, his relatives and friends must not have anti-Baath ideologies or feelings! All this could be probed through the security buffer body, mentioned above.Baathists keep on putting pressure on the members of the party, through its hierarchy, to force more Iraqis to join the party. Such conduct on the ground begins with teasing and goes as far as detention, torture, and may be execution for those who insist not to join the party.On joining the Baath party, one must sign many forms. One of these forms states that you have not been a member of any political party, not a member currently and you won't join a one in the future even if you would manage to quit the Baath. If one breaks any of these 'vows' he/she will be executed (according to the signed form).Another form states that non of your relatives and friends has any kind of relation with other political or religious parties, and one must report to the comrade in charge of the party cell on noticing a member of the family, relatives, neighbors, friends, colleagues who might have such relation. Information forms are to be filled periodically (every six months or annually) to confirm the previous. One has to declare the position of his/her parents, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, uncles, aunts, brothers & sisters in law, father & mother in law, friends. Their position means whether any of them had been detained or executed for political reasons, fled the country without informing the authorities, had any non-Baathist political activity, been a deserter…etc.Depriving the people of their basic rights made many of them ready to stoop to nose out information about their families, relatives, friends, colleagues. The regime encouraged people to do such vile practice by rewarding them. 'Secret report' is a well known term for [...]

Intelligence Estimate


An intelligence estimate issued by the National Intelligence Council says that Iraqi society’s growing polarization, the persistent weakness of the security forces and the state in general, and all sides’ ready recourse to violence are collectively driving an increase in communal and insurgent violence and political extremism.It is essential to make the Iraqi political leaders convinced that no use of violence. I keep on saying that the Iraqi society needs 'educational rehabilitation'. I wrote many posts about the Bedouin culture which dominates the Iraqi society. The society sharply retrograded during Saddam time toward tribal values. The village mentality ruled Iraq. Such conduct diminished the role of state institutions.One outcome of village style government was the vanishing of political parties & NGOs in Iraq. For example, the communists once had had a significant 'cultural' influence on the society, but later they had been brutally hunted by the baathists causing them to disappear.By the year 2003 the Iraqi political arena became a desolate one. Between the years 1979-2003 the Iraqis gradually, and unconsciously, changed there loyalty away from the state institutions. The homeland, the state and the government were integrated into one person; that is Saddam. Tribal traditions have been renewed. It is so weird to be asked by others 'Which tribe are you from?' One's tribe decides his/her social estimation. So someone like Hitler could be considered better than Einstein, if the latter has no tribe to attribute him to.The roles of the tribe & religious sects are the most influential factors in Iraq because of "the persistent weakness of the security forces and the state in general"Acting as a 'politician' means the necessity to have a tribe or a sect to which the politician can resort for protection. Introducing oneself as an 'Iraqi' means that no one will protect you. The structure of modern state has been eroded by Saddam tribal hierarchical system. One of the stark features of the tribal traditions, nowadays, is taking vengeance on Iraqi security men by tribal leaders for doing their job of pursuing criminals & terrorists. The tribe or sect offers protection by its members who are ready to use guns to kill. These are, in reality, groups of criminals. So we have a circle which begins with unqualified security forces, criminals who might partially protect their people, tribal leaders who offer protection to criminals just for being members of their tribes, and political leaders who feel that their safety can not guaranteed by the state so they should show gratitude to the militants (criminals). Moreover, some Iraqi politicians are mainly criminals, like this one.The majority of nowadays politicians have grown up under dictatorship. They are very narrow minded persons and do have no experience in state affairs. As a result of being ignorant about governance they resort to violence thinking that it is the way to impose their perspectives on opponents. The estimate says:"The absence of unifying leaders among the Arab Sunni or Shia with the capacity to speak for or exert control over their confessional groups limits prospects for reconciliation."To some extent this is true. But even those who tried to be unifying leaders were intimidated. An example is Dr. Ahmed Al-Kubaisee who founded The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq. The man started good work, but those who have different goals threatened him and he left Iraq to UAE, and a bunch of former baathists took over the association.Iraqi leaders are much closer to tribal or religious Sheikh than contemporary politician. Even those who might be considered secular leaders can not do much because they have no tools to achieve something. The tools are law enforcement & security forces not infiltrated by tribal or sectarian values. The estimate says:"Sectarian divisions erode the dependability of many units, many are hampered by personnel and equipment sho[...]

New Strategy


New strategy has been announced by President Bush. Mr. Bush said in his address to the nation:"The elections of 2005 were a stunning achievement. We thought that these elections would bring the Iraqis together, and that as we trained Iraqi security forces we could accomplish our mission with fewer American troops."It is not a felicitous opening since Mr. Bush referred to what really happened:"But in 2006, the opposite happened. The violence in Iraq -- particularly in Baghdad -- overwhelmed the political gains the Iraqis had made." The above invokes a query whether the new strategy will succeed or not since:"Al Qaeda terrorists and Sunni insurgents recognized the mortal danger that Iraq's elections posed for their cause, and they responded with outrageous acts of murder aimed at innocent Iraqis."What makes the President sure that these adversaries won't go any further to harm more innocents using much filthy ways? They have no morality, so nothing would restrain their atrocities.It seems that the US administration does not comprehend what it means to be a baathist or saddamist. The Baath party, especially the saddamist wing, represents the most suitable way for losers and criminals to seize power. And through more than four decades in power, a very sophisticated system of security and intelligence services was established. Many of theses services' personnel were trained in the former soviet bloc countries, Cuba, and many other eastern & western European countries.These services, working underground and undercover, are exploiting Al Qaeda and Sunni insurgents to keep Iraq unstable. They are ready to make use of every opportunity to infiltrate their followers into the governmental institutions to undermine the whole political process. Take the national assembly as an example; it has been unable to hold an official session for the last two months since the majority of the representatives are outside Iraq. It is one way to cripple the political process. They are even thought to exploit Al Mahdee army of Muqtada. They are ready to go as far as cooperating with Iran and even the devil to achieve their goals.President Bush said:"The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people -- and it is unacceptable to me."And for the vast majority of the Iraqi people. The Iraqis are the main victims of all what's going on in Iraq.Asking Iraqis about their opinion about President Bush's new strategy, they shrug saying 'It won't differ from the previous ones', and we will listen to Mr. Bush again saying:"Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me."And:"It is clear that we need to change our strategy in Iraq."The Iraqis are so fatigued of more than a quarter century of wars and unfulfilled promises. Quite majority of them consider the new strategy an additional promise which will be piled up with previous ones made by the Americans and Saddam before them. Even Mr. Bush himself is not sure of what he is doing:"…we all agreed that there is no magic formula for success in Iraq."President Bush discovers after about four years that:"The most urgent priority for success in Iraq is security, especially in Baghdad. Eighty percent of Iraq's sectarian violence occurs within 30 miles of the capital."President Bush has committed more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq. These troops will have a well-defined mission:"…to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security that Baghdad needs."The latter sentence of the above is the most difficult matter since Iraqis, as individuals, need a very large amount of 'collective mentality rehabilitation'. They are easy to be seduced into schemes against their own interests and to be intimidated by criminals especially the baathists.Good news for the saddamists is:"America's commitment is not open-ended."Anothe[...]

The Iraq Study Group (I)


The Iraq Study Group issued its report. In the opening section of the report titled 'Letter from the Co-Chairs' there is a good paragraph says:"Because of the role and responsibility of the United States in Iraq, and the commitments our government has made, the United States has special obligations. Our country must address as best it can Iraq’s many problems. The United States has long-term relationships and interests at stake in the Middle East, and needs to stay engaged."I agree with the above. It is not right to quit unfinished job in Iraq with catastrophic consequences.Speaking about Iraq's neighbors, it says:"Yet Iraq’s neighbors are not doing enough to help Iraq achieve stability."The report refers to Syria & Iran by:"Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively."And suggests a way to influence the behavior of both countries by using disincentives and incentives the United States has. It is obvious that using disincentives with both countries means confrontation with the US. Needless to say, Iraq will be the suitable field for such conflict.It is much better for the US to make Iraq as a political buffer between Iran & Syria at one side and the US at the other. There are important issues in the Middle East represent vital interests for the US. Some of them, especially concerning Iran, could be tackled through the Iraqi ally. It could be a kind of continuous check of the Iraqi government loyalty. Moreover, it would help Iraq in regaining its regional political position."The Iraqi government needs to show its own citizens—and the citizens of the United States and other countries—that it deserves continued support."The report says:"By the end of 2006, the Multi-National Security Transition Command–Iraq under American leadership is expected to have trained and equipped a target number of approximately 326,000 Iraqi security services."Still, there is lot of danger that might emerge from the Iraqi security units. The main threat is a military coup. A matter which is most of Iraqis, and Arabs, are obsessed by. Another issue is that they might make use of skill they gain through training to fight the Americans. It is important to emphasize that improving Iraqi collective mentality should be given much attention, so that training and equipments are used in the right way.The report recounts several challenges confronted by the Iraqi army; units' lack of leadership; lack of equipment; lack of personnel; lack of logistics & support.A good pool of Iraqi security personnel is available now (326,000), and choosing those who meet certain criteria is possible. So, constructing elite units is preferable.Speaking about the Iraqi police, the report says:"It has neither the training nor legal authority to conduct criminal investigations, nor the firepower to take on organized crime, insurgents, or militias."Such deficiency makes the Iraqis do not resort to the police since there is no use of it. Collecting bodies from the streets is the only thing the policemen are good in. Moreover, Police personnel are:"…participating in training in order to obtain a weapon, uniform, and ammunition for use in sectarian violence."There is another force which guards the institutions of different ministries. The Facilities Protection Service (FPS) represents 145,000 uniformed armed Iraqis. The report describes them:"These units have questionable loyalties and capabilities. In the ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Transportation controlled by Moqtada al-Sadr the Facilities Protection Service is a source of funding and jobs for the Mahdi Army."The security situation in Baghdad is described:"Perpetrators of violence leave neighborhoods in advance of security sweeps, only to filter back later.""U.S. forces can “clear” any neighborhood, but there are [...]

Quickened Industry


A classified United States government report has concluded that the insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially. The report, obtained by The New York Times, estimates that groups responsible for many insurgent and terrorist attacks are raising $70 million to $200 million a year from illegal activities. As much as $36 million a year comes from ransoms paid for hundreds of kidnap victims, the report says.Kidnapping is a flourishing industry nowadays in Iraq. It includes different classes of Iraqis. Head of Iraq's Olympic Committee & other sport officials were kidnapped on 15th July, and till now nothing has leaked about the case. Last May, 15 members of Iraq's taekwondo team were kidnapped between Falluja and Ramadi, west of Baghdad. The kidnappers have demanded $100,000 for their release. The under secretary of health ministry was kidnapped few weeks ago.As one may notice, it is a good way to make living under the cover of 'resistance' or 'jihad'. All these incidents might be classified as a struggle between an old regime and a new one. Still, there are these kidnaps taking place on backstage. Ordinary citizens are dragged to perturbing circumstances and used as some kind of commodity for gangs of different kinds. One could not be continuously alerted about what he is doing or where he is going.A college instructor or a school teacher could be targeted for many reasons. A word he/she might say; a low degree to some lazy student; being of a different sect; somebody who wants to replace him/her; not complying with the students' demands; a briefcase in his/her hand…etc.An example is one of my acquaintances. He is an architect supervising several construction sites in the countryside surrounding Baghdad. The buildings are medical centers. For some problem, nobody aware of, between two militias he has been kidnapped. Resorting to police is completely of no use. So, one has to look for a tribal sheik, a turbaned cleric, or a gangster to be a mediator. The kidnapped has been dealt with as a person of certain sect; a matter which he does not pay much attention to.Nowadays I hear many bizarre stories about incidents which I had never dreamt of being acquainted with in my life. One of the kidnapped architect's relatives was a high rank officer in the dissolved army. He managed to make some contacts with former colleagues who joined the new Iraqi army. He said that these colleagues had told him so much information about the area where the architect had been kidnapped. They told him which false checkpoint stopped the kidnapped and when. What kind of cars the kidnappers had used and their colors. But he could not understand why the security forces are not ready to make any move.Baathists are working hard on hampering the immerging crippled democracy. One of their sinister ways is to make sectarian difference contrasts sharply. There are other different parties who find a sectarian conflict is the most suitable bazaar to merchandise their extreme ideologies.As an observer, I can say that reining in the Shiite militants could be implemented, but the Sunni's is not that easy. It is not because of ordinary people, but leaders adopting a baathi-islamic-tribal perspective won't be able to make benefit out of a democratic system.The Iraqi society is a tribal oriented one. Tribes are spreading all over Iraq and most of them consist of a mixture of Shiites and Sunnis. Even inside families & among relatives one might find a Sunni and a Shiite. There are no facial features that distinguish one from the other.Saddam changed the political life in Iraq into desolation. No outstanding political leader or ideology was active inside Iraq before Saddam's downfall. The expected result of getting rid of him was the people resort to tribal & religious institutions. Saddam was aware of it, so he issued an order to the members of his secret agencies, few mo[...]



President Bush held a press conference on October 25, 2006. I'd like to make comments about some of what he said."… They've cleared (American and Iraqi forces)neighborhoods of terrorists and death squads"I don't go with this since terrorists turned to new tactics. Assassins are touring Baghdad's neighborhoods, kidnapping and killing people blatantly. Cold blood killers are patrolling Baghdad streets in their cars fearing nobody. One could witness and hear many incidents of killing innocent people. More than five killing incidents took place at the same spot (in front of an elementary school) on different days within the past month with the same scenario. A car stops; one or two victims dragged blindfolded & handcuffed out of the car; shot dead at the spot; the car flees the place. Time of execution: 9-11 am!! The killers are anonymous; the victims are anonymous (they are left with no IDs).Twelve persons were killed within eight hours in a neighborhood of about 300 houses. One was killed in front of a heavy guarded bank. One of another three, who have been killed, ran away from the killers, but they chased him into a grocery filled with customers and shot him dead. Again none of the two sides is known.The terrorists are training new generation of thugs. Teenagers on motor scooters tour the streets looking for victims. The victim is nominated by elder thugs escorting the teens in two cars (the cars are for watching, protecting and intervening in case of emergency). Another neighborhood witnessed the killing of five victims within one hour. A woman driving her daughter from school was shot dead & the daughter was injured.A plumber in his store was chatting with two of his friends when a teenager entered asking for a monkey wrench to buy. The plumber answered him 'These are my working tools, but you can buy one from that store' pointing at a nearby one. The killer left the store, but after few meters he turned back, entered the plumber's store again, dragged a gun and shot the man dead. Then he left to a motor scooter which was waiting for him and fled the location.It is the same policy of Saddam. A stark example was adding his son Qusay to the execution squad which shot Saddam's comrades in 1979. Qusay was around twelve years old. The comrades were sentenced to death by Saddam because they opposed him to be the president. It is training of new killers. Another example was firing five shots of an AK-47 gun weekly in every school during the flag salutation ceremony on Thursdays. One would imagine what kind of psychological effects could appear on a child of six years old.People are astonished how bunches of thugs could pass through check points without being noticed, especially those who are accompanied by their handcuffed blindfolded victims. Some suggestions say that the police officers or army soldiers do not want to risk their lives by confronting the thugs or being killed by a suicide bomber who might detonate his car at the check point. On the other hand one can come across many police convoys parading in the streets, showing off by shouting at people and shooting their guns in the air to make their way through the busy streets.Iraq has been invaded by the most advanced nation in the world. Still, the ways used to deal with security problems do not reveal innovation. No advanced technology is used in surveillance, tracing criminal evidence, reconstruction…etc. Dealing with the Americans on the ground made the Iraqis change the way they had perceived them. This goes for the insurgents.I recall stories of the terrified Iraqi soldiers, members of the republican guards and Saddam's special guards speaking about the impenetrable American troops and armors. They fled the battle field reciting unbelievable stories about the American troops that can not be defied or confronted. These stories go back to the 's[...]

Call to Bloggers


Amnesty International issued a ‘Call to Bloggers’, asking them to get online and stand up for freedom of expression on the internet. The call comes as the online world prepares to meet at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF, Athens 30/10 – 2/11). Amnesty international is sending a delegation to ensure that human rights are not sidelined and remain at the heart of the forum’s discussions.Steve Ballinger, part of Amnesty International’s delegation to the IGF, said:"… some governments have sought to curtail this freedom. People have been locked up just for expressing their views in an email or a website. Sites and blogs have been shut down and firewalls built to prevent access to information."I had the experience, during Saddam reign, of being blocked out of accessing even email service. A heavy firewall was preventing Iraqi internet users from a wide range of websites. It was like a kind of secret activity to pass information to friends & relatives about newly discovered websites; especially email service. One would change his/her email frequently making it not guaranteed to receive a reply, since one's email could be blocked at any time. Thanks to Arizona State official website which offered me, at that time, an email box for over a year without being discovered by Iraqi watch. So, I can understand the difficulties people are going through to access internet & to pass their words to the world.Moreover, activists who use the internet to express their thoughts peacefully are being detained in some countries. Chinese journalist Shi Tao was sentenced to 10 years in prison for "illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities." Yahoo! provided information to the government that was used in his prosecution."Today, our chance to fight a new hi-tech tyranny" as Kate Allen, UK director of Amnesty International, says in The Observer: "The internet is big business, but in the search for profits some companies have encroached on their own principles and those on which the internet was founded: free access to information. The results of searches using China-based search engines run by Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and local firms are censored, limiting the information users can access. Microsoft pulled down the work of one of China's most popular bloggers who had made politically sensitive comments. Yahoo gave information to the authorities that led to people being jailed for sending emails with political content. We do not accept these firms' arguments that it is better to have a censored Google, Yahoo or Microsoft in China than none at all."Tunisian lawyer and human rights defender Mohammed Abbou is serving a three and a half year prison sentence for publishing articles critical of the Tunisian authorities on the Internet.Vietnamese political dissident Truong Quoc Huy was first arrested in October 2005 with two other young people after chatting on a democracy and human rights website. On 18 August 2006, he was rearrested in an Internet cafe in Ho Chi Minh City. His whereabouts remain unknown and no charges have been publicized.Iranian student activist and blogger Kianoosh Sanjari, aged 24, was arrested on 7 October whilst reporting on clashes between security forces and supporters of a Shi'a cleric. Kianoosh Sanjari is being held incommunicado at an unknown location and Amnesty International fears that he may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment.Steve Ballinger said: “Freedom of expression online is a right, not a privilege – but it’s a right that needs defending. We’re asking bloggers worldwide to show their solidarity with web users in countries where they can face jail just for criticizing the government."“The Internet Governance Forum needs to know that the online community is bothered about free expression online and willing to stand up for it.”If you are concer[...]

Ramadan & Eid


Ramadan has just finished in Iraq & the Muslim world. The last day of Ramadan, which is a month, was on sunday 22nd of October. Fasting according to Islam includes not eating or drinking or smoking from sunrise till sunset, not to have sexual intercourse with the husband/wife in the same period of the day, to try to do good deeds as much as one can do, to practice good habits…etc. In general, Ramadan is a month for focusing on training oneself soul to get closer to God by enhancing the good qualities of ones conduct. Lying, tittle-tattle, using bad language, false promises, hurting people…etc are forbidden in Islam. Many people find it not easy to quit such bad qualities. By creating an environment of watching each others behavior, it helps some people to quit them. Ramadan has its cultural traditions and folklore activities. One of the famous folklore games is (Al-Mih’haibis). It is a game which needs nothing more than a finger ring and two teams of unlimited members. Each team tries to regain the ring which is hidden in one of the closed hands of the whole members of the opponent team. One member of the team who seeks for the ring goes through the players of the team which has the ring. Every player in the team with the ring should raise his hands in front of him so that the seeker, and his team, can see them clearly. The seeker should be of good ability to control the opponents psychologically and has predictability about where the ring might be hidden. He keeps on opening hand after another by pointing to each and saying his prediction. He has the right to consult his team players about their predictions. If he points to a certain hand and announce a wrong gesture then the one who has the ring shouts (Bat).When the shout is heard that means the ring is going to remain with the same team for another round and another point is to be added to their score. Here a short break is made to sing traditional songs, mainly (Murab'aa), praising the victory of the team. Such game is played at night after breaking fast. There are famous ring seekers in every city and town. In Baghdad, for example, one may find these famous seekers in the old parts of the city. The old parts of Baghdad consist of alleys, and till now great games are held between the alleys teams.The trophy of the game is a big tray or more of (Baklawa). It is a kind of sweets well known in the Mideast countries. These trays of baklawa are to be eaten by the two teams when the game is over.Nowadays such public gatherings are unsafe because of the bad security conditions, especially in Baghdad. Some Iraqi TV satellite channels organized championships for the game to keep it alive in the minds of new generations.Ramadan is followed by Eid Al-Fitr (Less Bairam). First day of Eid, of three days, was on 23rd of October. Eid Al-Fitr represents a celebration of fasting after Ramadan. An Islamic ritual at the end of Ramadan is to pay little amount of money by every Muslim who has sufficient income. This amount is called (Zakah El-Fitr). It should be paid, by those who like to, on the last day of Ramadan. It is one kind of the social insurance in Islam. This (Zakah El-Fitr) is to be paid to poor people so that they can celebrate (Eid El-fitr).The amount differs from one year to another. This year it is about $1.5 for each person. That is to pay $1.5 for each member of the family by the paterfamilias. One may pay it directly to poor people whom he/she knows. Otherwise is to give it to a trustee.People visit and greet each other on Eid. In Iraq the most common greetings is (Ayamkum Sa’eida) which means (wishing you happy days).A friend of mine insists on changing this greeting to (wishing you normal days). Of course he jokes about our abnormal days since 1990. He explains that we live under the line [...]

Do we need the Americans? (II)


Since 1920 Iraq witnessed a significant growth in urban society. Baghdad was resembled to a large village by the British soldiers who entered the city in March 1917. They had heard a lot a bout (1001 nights) stories but they were astounded by the miserable town they conquered. The dominant lifestyle in Iraq was a mixture of tribal-religious traditions. These traditions did not evolve with the development of people's urbanization. People migrated from rural communities, for different reasons, could not cope with the constraints of cities.Pacing toward state of law & civilization was taking place when it was interrupted by a series of coups. This series took place between 1958 and 1968. The final caused the bathists to gain power. Waves of villagers claimed possession of power since they were participants in implementing those coups. By the year 1979, in which Saddam seized power, the influence of tribal traditions started to regain dominance over the Iraqi society. The grip of law began to wane and people had to disclaim their rights, or to look for alternatives to help them in solving their everyday life's problems.Nowadays, not resorting to law is a clear feature of the Iraqi society. Take a look at this article which recites how political and militant Islam is clashing with tribal customs and a shared Arab and Muslim identity that have bonded Sunnis and Shiites for decades. The events are taking place in still-mixed neighborhood called Tobji, nestled in north-central Baghdad. One can notice, through the photo accompanying the article, the pastoral feature of the neighborhood (keep in mind it is in north-central Baghdad).It is the rural and tribal values that prevailed over urban ones. It is expected, under global transition that this image would replicate in a world which is turning into a universal village. One of the unavoidable results of such globalized world is migration of people, and as a consequence their values, from the poor countryside of the world to the wealthy urban one. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements programme says: "International migration, just like urbanisation, cannot be stopped in any sustainable or humane manner. It has to be managed. One can argue that in a globalised world, where we have unrestricted movement of money, goods and information, restrictions on the movement of people remains a major contradiction." It has to be managed. One way of managing migration is to develop the 'countryside' of the world to reduce the number of emigrants looking for better life situations. Developing poor regions does not mean to impose certain values on other societies. It means to back up shared human values; Mr. Tony Blair put it like this: "…we must fashion an international community that both embodies, and acts in pursuit of global values: liberty, democracy, tolerance, justice."It is either developing those 'countryside' regions of the world or accepting what comes out from there. I refer always to what I call 'educational rehabilitation' of communities like the Iraqi one. Otherwise, incidents like this one or killing the Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh should be expected to intimidate western societies. It is the nowadays methods of communications, as one feature of globalization, which made it possible for radical Islamists to rally mob behind them protesting against cartoons satirizing Muhammad. And it is the airplanes which are mainly made to serve people and bring them closer to each other. This means of transport was used to attack the twin towers on 9/11.It is not only a matter of military confrontation or security procedures. On 26 Feb, 1993 there was an attempt to blow up the world trade center and the US reaction was bui[...]

Do we need the Americans?(I)


In an interview in the Washington Post, Iraqi President Jalal Talibani said Iraq still needs foreign troops and would like a small U.S. presence of 10,000 troops and two airbases for the long term.Does Iraq, or some other countries, really need foreign existence on its soil? What criterion is to decide it? Is it Iraq sovereignty? And what is it meant by 'sovereignty' in the new globalized world. Would such U.S. troops presence violate Iraq sovereignty?I recall a Sudanese, on the BBC radio, called for 'benign occupation' of countries like Iraq & Sudan. His perspective was that such countries need to be rehabilitated and they need a foreign rational power to do it.President Talabani views this presence as a deterrent to non-Iraqis from interfering in Iraq's affairs."The presence of American forces -- even a symbolic one -- will frighten those who are trying to interfere in our affairs."This is good, but what about the internal policy of any future Iraqi government. Will this presence observe the US & Iraqi government interests only? What about the Iraqi people. On November 12, 2004 Prime Minister Tony Blair said in a joint press conference with President Bush:"We have to complete our mission in Iraq, make sure that Iraq is a stable and a democratic country."Mr. Blair emphasized on making sure of stable and "democratic" Iraq. But the words of Mr. Talabani sounds like as if he does not reject the idea of having only "stable" Iraq or as Mr. Blair put it:“…when I was first a member of Parliament and making my way up the greasy pole and all the rest of it, there was a view in foreign policy that you dealt with countries on the basis of whatever attitude they had towards you, but really whatever they did within their own countries, that was up to them, and didn't really make a difference to your long-term relationship…”Mr. Blair added:"I think what we are learning today is that there is not stability of any true, long-term kind without democratic rights for free people to decide their government."And that what people of Iraq is looking for. To keep a close eye on the Iraqi political elite performance is very important. The US has to patronize the new Iraqi political process for many coming years. This does not mean to keep a large number of troops in Iraq, but a number like what Mr. Talabani referred to might be sufficient.These troops should be intended to keep any future Iraqi government on the rail of democracy. I believe these troops should have another mission. That is to prevent any kind of coups which derail the political life in Iraq.The Americans have to keep on watching the adherence of any Iraqi government to the basic human rights. The most important among these, as I believe, is the freedom of opinion & expression. Being free to speak & criticize would help a lot in making improvements in different sectors of life.Though the heavy existence of the Americans in Iraq, stark images of oppressing free speech are taking place. So what would happen if the Americans paid no attention to the political and human rights aspects and focused on their interests, assuming human rights are not included, according to the old method described above by Mr. Blair?Ali Fadhil wrote in the New York Times: "With American encouragement, Iraq produced a generation of young journalists who are decades ahead of their counterparts elsewhere in the region."But:"In the last year, however, as successive short-term governments have taken power in Baghdad, American support for the Iraqi news media has waned."This led to:"In mid-July, the Iraqi prime minister threatened to close any news media outlet that insufficiently supports the Iraqi government in its fight against sectarian violence. I fear that if this go[...]

Fragments & Bullets


There is some kind of, what I may call, tradition in our family to collect bullets that fall on our house. It goes back to some twenty years ago or more. In fact, it is nothing more than a small plastic box in which one finds bomb fragments and bullets of different kinds & shapes. The other day I decided to weight this collection. Its weight was more than half a kilogram (I think it is something around one pound).It is quite normal for the Iraqis to fire their arms into air in most of their occasions. It is a tribal heritage especially in the rural & desert areas. Since 1968 Iraq cities retrograded in their values toward tribal traditions.I can recall a Ukrainian soldier, in the early days of invasion, who was speaking on the radio about what he had been doing in Hilla (a city about 100 Km south to Baghdad) and his impression about the community in that city. He spoke about different issues but he replied sarcastically to a question 'What makes the locals fire at you?': "Well, I noticed that the Iraqis shoot their arms when they have a funeral, wedding, demonstration, dispute, football game…etc and they find coming across us as another occasion to be added to their list."At midnight of 8/9 August 1988 a ceasefire was declared as an end of an eight years war between Iraq & Iran. People kept on firing their guns for three days as a sign of celebration. It caused casualties of more than 300 people killed and more than 3000 injured in Baghdad only.Nowadays the Iraqi security forces convoys use the same way I referred to in a previous post (Novel Horn). It is shooting guns in the air. This does not mean that one might hear shooting once or twice a day; it means to hear shooting once or twice per hour. Each consists of chains of shots causing lot of nervous tension. Another factor may be added to increase the tension which is the US military helicopters. The pilots fly them very low (about 100 foot) causing lot of noise and terror especially when they pass directly over one's head. One could see more than 50 helicopters per day from one fixed location.The other day I was watching through a window my nephew (less than 3) playing in the garden when two US helicopters flew over our house. The little boy put his hands on his ears and started to run aimlessly crying & shouting for his mother. The same happens to him whenever he hears gunfire.Till now it is so hot in Iraq and with no sufficient electricity power, Iraqis resort to sleep at night over their housetop. I do the same; still, it is uncomfortable. Even at night it is hot. One can hear gunfire every now and then, and he/she might take the risk (if he/she is sleepy & lazy) by remaining on mattress, or jump to take shelter to avoid some straying bullets. Many times when I decide to remain in bed because I'm so lazy and considering the fire shots are far away; within seconds I hear buzzing objects flying over my head which makes me jump immediately to take shelter in the stairs entrance. Moreover, military helicopters don't stop their tours even at night. Sometimes mortar shells might be added as a 'flavor' to make the condition much worse. So, one could imagine what kind of conditions we are surrounded with.Our house is in a backstreet in the neighborhood, but the main streets are not far. The distant between our house and one of these main streets (as a direct line) is about 100 meter. It is a street of less than 400 meter long. In a time interval of about three months five side-road-bombs exploded in it. The strange thing is that four of the SRB were placed in the very same hole. One of them went off at 7 am and after few seconds something hit the roof of our house. It sounded like some heavy piece of metal. Thanks god, nob[...]

The Battle of Baghdad


I'm borrowing the title of a column written by Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad in the Wall Street Journal. It has been well known that the party which takes control of Baghdad would rule Iraq. For that whenever there was a coup, the target of the implementers was Baghdad. There are many examples of failure of those who tried to seize power by setting out their work far from Baghdad. One is a coup attempt by Col. Shaw'waf in March 1959 against Gen. Qassim government. He declared disobedience in Mosul (about 400 Km north to Baghdad). That declaration in a remote city from Baghdad made it easy for Gen. Qassim to crush the attempt.Another example is the uprising of March 1991 in the aftermath of the Gulf War. Saddam crushed it within two weeks because it had not targeted Baghdad, though the rebels had managed to take control of the southern part of Iraq. Nowadays the former regime leaders, working underground, consider Baghdad as the most vital prize. One of them, Mohammed Younis Al-Ahmed (settler in Syria), gave orders to his followers to intensify their operations in Baghdad. He said that a year ago or more.It is true what Ambassador Khalilzad wrote:"Iraq faces an urgent crisis in securing its capital, Baghdad."But shouldn't it be something expected according to many calls said by terrorists and Saddamists. Sometimes I feel puzzled about the way of work and decisions made by the Americans.Saddam realized that Baghdad should appear in the most polished image to give unreal impression of stability. He worked hard on that; especially in the last 13 years under the UN sanctions against Iraq. So, one could not feel power shortage or insecure environment in Baghdad. Municipality services seemed good; markets were opened till midnight. Generally, he held Baghdad with a firm grip. Saddam was a man of propaganda and media represented a very essential means for him to reflect a fake image to the Iraqis & the world.It was expected that the Saddamists would concentrate there effort on Baghdad by causing as much chaos as possible to show unreal image of what's going on in Iraq. Ambassador Khalilzad indicates:"Baghdad is also Iraq's financial and media center, the latter of which is especially important given that the declared strategy of the terrorists and violent sectarian groups in Iraq revolves around creating a perception of growing chaos in an effort to persuade Americans that the effort in Iraq has failed. Therefore, violence in Baghdad has a disproportionate psychological and strategic effect."The result would be as Amir Taheri says:"It would be hard indeed for the average interested citizen to find out on his own just how grossly this image distorts the realities of present-day Iraq."It is Baghdad which creates the perception for people around the world since most of the media agencies are located in it. And by inciting violence, a distorted image would be conveyed:"…by reporters, cocooned in hotels in Baghdad, explaining the “carnage” and “chaos” in the streets as signs of the country’s “impending” or “undeclared” civil war."Mr. Khalilzad says:"It is understandable that when the American people hear of new U.S. casualties and witness the images of bloodshed from the streets of Baghdad, they conclude that our plans for stemming sectarian violence in Iraq have failed."I expect the insurgents will increase their operations against US troops in the coming days trying to increase the casualties. It is essential for the Saddamists to turn the public opinion in the US against the Republicans in the coming elections. Though it is not necessary that the Democrats would make a radical change in the US policy toward Iraq, still the reactionary pa[...]

A Memo & an Article (III)


First of all, there isn't sufficient electricity power in my neighborhood to sit to the PC. For the past days, we have had a complete electricity cutoff, so the reliance is on the neighborhood generator. This means priority is to refrigerators and air-coolers; there is no power for PCs. Under such circumstances a PC is a luxury. I'm trying to maneuver to snatch short times in between to start my PC. Now, back to the post.****************************Amir Taheri says:"In 1973, for example, when Saddam Hussein decided to expel all those whose ancestors had not been Ottoman citizens before Iraq’s creation as a state, some 1.2 million Iraqis left their homes in the space of just six weeks… it was a scene regularly repeated under Saddam Hussein."At that time, many people displacements took place. The implementers of that policy were mainly the baathists, and many of them were greedy for the possessions & properties of certain people. Others used their authority of adding people to the expulsion lists for blackmailing, since every one who had been sent out of Iraq was deprived of citizenship & all his/her properties were confiscated.Processions of trucks pulling trailers filled with Kurds jamming the streets of Baghdad was a repeated event in the mid of the 1970s. Thousands of Kurds were displaced from their domicile in northern Iraq to the southern parts. On the other hand, Arabs were encouraged to move northward, especially to Kirkuk, granting each Arab settler $30000.The policy of changing Iraq demography was a permanent feature of the Baath regime. Another example was a decision issued by Saddam in the mid of the 1990s which prevented any person, who had not been registered in Baghdad province in the census of 1957, from possessing a real-estate in Baghdad. The decision was designed to prevent Shiite & Kurd newcomers from owning real-estate in the city. Moreover, campaigns were organized to kick out of Baghdad those who had not owned residential units in the city. Those who were renting houses were included in driving out of Baghdad.Astonishingly, Mr. Taheri notes:"Since the toppling of Saddam in 2003, this is one highly damaging image we have not seen… To the contrary, Iraqis, far from fleeing, have been returning home. By the end of 2005, in the most conservative estimate, the number of returnees topped the 1.2-million mark."The second sign which the writer refers to as a sign of improvement in Iraq is:"…the flow of religious pilgrims to the Shiite shrines in Karbala and Najaf. Whenever things start to go badly in Iraq, this stream is reduced to a trickle and then it dries up completely… In 2005, the holy sites received an estimated 12 million pilgrims, making them the most visited spots in the entire Muslim world, ahead of both Mecca and Medina."It is true that visiting the Shiite shrines, during Saddam's era, could stain one's reputation (according to Saddam's criterion) and cause him/her lot of troubles with the government.Then he speaks about some features of Iraq economy:"Since liberation, however, Iraq has witnessed a private-sector boom, especially among small and medium-sized businesses."I go with the above. A merchant who works in toy business whose main stores are located in Shurja (the most important trade center in Baghdad) compares the number of lorries freighting goods to Nasirya (a southern city) before and after the 2003 war. He says that a transportation agency he deals with used to send one lorry every three or four days before the war to Nasirya. After the war, at least three lorries are to be sent daily to that city. It gives an indication of how many times the economic standard improve[...]



Last week, the Iraqi prime Minister, Nuri al-Mliki, visited London & Washington. He had the chance to address the Congress. The man has been to these cities looking for help to his country. There are some points drew my attention in his tour. First is the focus of Mr. Maliki on showing gratitude to the US people, something which Iraqis reluctantly refer to. Mr. Maliki said, addressing Military Personnel and Families at Fort Belvoir, Virginia:"I appreciate your colleagues who offered their lives on the land of Iraq, and I tell you that Iraqis will never forget these sacrifices because they have really participated in ridding Iraq of dictatorship… But once again, we give you all the salute -- we salute you and we thank you very much for all that you've offered to Iraq. "One of my previous posts was about not being grateful to the Americans.Second is the fear that the US would abandon the Iraqis. Mr. Maliki said in his speech:"Let 1991 never be repeated, for history will be most unforgiving,"Iraqis of different political intentions are preoccupied with this idea. Insurgents are looking enthusiastically to a day on which the US declares her failure. On the other hand the ordinary Iraqi citizen fears to be handled to another dictator.I posted something contains the same idea: "… in the year 1991 operation Desert Storm kicked Saddam out of Kuwait. A popular uprising, against Saddam, spread all over Iraq the very day on which president Bush, the father, declared the end of the military operations. The Iraqi people thought that the Americans would not stop at that point and they should help the uprising of March 1991. Leaving the Iraqis alone to be torn apart by Saddam still resides in their hearts."Third is the conflict between Israel & Hezbollah. A good deal of pressure was put on Mr. Maliki to denounce Hezbollah. Now, in the midst of peoples of the Middle East and the Islamic world which view the conflict like this:It is so uneasy for Mr. Maliki to denounce Hezbollah.I picture the matter as asking a man to get on his soapbox praising black people amidst a Ku Klux Klan group. Congressmen who insisted on Mr. Maliki to do so are asking him to fire at his political future.In a country like Iraq, words like the following to be said by an Iraqi official are considered an amazing step:"Who could possibly watch the pictures of innocent civilians being killed, or incidentally innocent civilians killed in Israel too, without wanting this to stop now?" (Innocent civilians Killed in Israel!!) That's what I might call a real change in the political speech in Iraq; a country which its leaders used to call Israel the (Zionist Régime). Change, sometimes, needs time. An Iraqi politician attended a conference in Israel (I think in 2004) and he was very frank in declaring it. The visit caused him lot of condemnation and he was kicked out of the Iraqi Congress Party of Ahmed Chalabi. Personally, I thought the man had politically finished. The surprise was that Mithal Alusi, the politician speaking about, managed to be a member of the Iraqi Parliament, while Ahmed Chalabi couldn't. It means that 1/275 of the Iraqis do not oppose normal relations with Israel (the Iraqi Parliament consists of 275 members).White House spokesman Tony Snow made a good point, concerning the speech of Mr. Maliki, by saying:"Let me try to explain democracy to people on Capitol Hill. It involves such rights as free speech and freedom of opinion." Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean called Maliki:"…an "anti-Semite" for failing to denounce Hezbollah for its attacks against Israel." I do not understand what is meant by 'anti-Semite'.[...]

A Memo & an Article (II)


The memo says:"… it is now dangerous for men to wear shorts in public…People who wear jeans in public have come under attack."It is not a new offensive campaign. There were many. One which was led by Khairlah Tulfah, Saddam's uncle & father in law, took place about thirty years ago. At that time, girls fashion was short skirts & the beetles' hair cut was for boys. Tulfah used to send groups of his bodyguard to tour the streets painting girls' legs & cutting boys' hair (beating them in many occasions).It is not some kind of formal regulations. It is a way of showing power over people of a certain community. It spreads since the government can not implement law. So, it is either to be changed into a law or it will vanish along with enforcing law.The memo says about power shortage:"Temperatures in Baghdad have already reached 115 degrees. Employees all confirm that, by the last week of May, they were getting one hour of power for every six hours without."And it is still the same in my neighborhood."Areas near hospitals, political party headquarters and the green zone have the best supply. One staff member reported a friend lives in a building that houses the new minister; within 24 hours of his appointment, her building had city power 24 hours a day."And some eastern parts of Baghdad (Sadr city) have good supply of city power. That is because of kidnapping the under secretary of Ministry of Electricity (by Almahdi militia) and threatening him that he will pay his life for power shortage.With such kind of heat, people are:"contracted with neighborhood generator hookups that they pay for monthly. One employee pays 7500 Iraqi dinars (ID) per ampere to get 10 amperes"People in my neighborhood pay 12000 ID per ampere. Most people in Iraq makes an income of 150,000-200,000 ID per month. So to get 10 amperes, one has to pay more than half of his/her salary. The solution is corruption to earn more money.Likewise is the shortage of oil products. Gasoline:"prices on the black market in much of Baghdad were now above 1,000 ID per liter (the official, subsidized price is 250 ID)"This means about $3 per gallon.The memo speaks about kidnapping and threats, which are things most of Iraqis have not witnessed before. People who kidnap and kill were fully monopolized by Saddam's government. After ousting Saddam, they found themselves out of their jobs. So, they started their own business by establishing NGOs (kidding) for kidnapping & killing people. And it seems that they are making good money out of the business.An Iraqi employee works at the US embassy told them:"… in mid-June that most of her family believes the US - which is widely perceived as fully controlling the country and tolerating the malaise - is punishing the population as Saddam did (but with Sunnis and very poor Shia now at the bottom of the list). Otherwise, she says, the allocation of power and security would not be so arbitrary."It is widely believed here that the Americans follow the same policy of Saddam toward the Iraqi people in the field of public services.A good comment is made by the embassy:"Employees are apprehensive enough that we fear they may exaggerate developments or steer us towards news that comports with their own world view."Listening to a stream of eerie stories from different persons requires lot of sanity to be able to examine their credibility. For example, I heard many strange stories about the Iraqi soldiers' bad manners. I came across Iraqi soldiers twice; one at a check point and the other when they searched the houses in our neighborhood; I noticed they are nice and polite people[...]

A Memo & an Article (I)


A memo from the US embassy in Baghdad to the State Department was leaked out. Is it normal to leak out cables between US embassies and Washington? I have no idea. What kind of message to be conveyed by leaking it out?Anyway, an article by Patrick Cockburn in The Independent UK written as introductory to the memo says:" The US and Britain have said they would withdraw their troops as the security situation improved, though the embassy memo suggests that it was, in fact, deteriorating. Britain said yesterday that it was to pull out 170 soldiers from Muthana province in southern Iraq when the Iraqi government took over security there next month." This implies a negative subtext that America & Britain are ready to flee from Iraq at any time.The memo says that an Iraqi female employee in the embassy:"… was advised by an unknown woman in her Baghdad neighbourhood to wear a veil and not to drive her own car."Another said:"… people in her neighbourhood are harassing women and telling them to cover up and stop using cell phones."These stories remind me of a female colleague who approached me asking "What do you think? Should I wear a hijab (veil)?" and my answer was "It's up to you". That was about six years ago, when Saddam was in power. I wondered what made her think about wearing a veil since she had lived her whole life without wearing one (she was approaching her forties). She told me that the surrounding feminine community was keeping on harassing her for not wearing a veil. I asked about her point of view about wearing (or not wearing) a veil. Her answer was that Iraq climate is so hot which makes a veil unbearable. The conversation went like this, I said:- Good point, then don't wear a veil.- But Allah (God) ordered us to wear a veil.- If you are convinced, then put a veil on.- I'm asking you. What do you think?- It's not me who will put on the veil, and you are the one to make a trade off between your religious belief and practical life.Finally she was subdued by social pressure and she put on a veil.I visit campuses from time to time, and I enjoy counting female students with veils and those without. On entering any campus (there are several in Baghdad), I start to count the number of girls whom I come across, categorizing them into (veiled & non-veiled). I played this game for more than twenty times and each time I find the ratio of females with no veils represents 25%-30%. Women feel it safer inside campuses to wear fashionable clothes than outside. On leaving the campus they jump directly into their family's cars or taxis which the families choose their drivers carefully to take the girls, in groups, to schools and colleges and back home. In the street, one can see unveiled women, but they wear very decent clothes and avoid any kind of make up. I'm talking about the center of Baghdad not some suburban neighbors.It is not a new trend, in our society, to oppress women. It is usual to give vent to one's anger in the conduct of oppressing the weakest group. For that I believe a rational power is needed to maintain order to protect the weak people and minorities in Iraq. I doubt that an Iraqi party can play such a role, at least for the time being.Women in Iraq are oppressed on several levels. A woman could bring disgrace to her family. So a close eye should be kept on her, watching every gesture she makes by the whole members of the family. Even the youngest male member in a family could oppress female members. The same woman could be criticized by the neighbors for a salute, a smile, a laugh, a way of wa[...]



First of all, it is football (soccer) that keeps me away from the PC. It is so nice to have some thing as entertainment in the mid of all the chaos we, here in Iraq, live daily which makes it impossible to change one's routine. The FIFA World Cup competition is taking place nowadays in Germany. It occupies, for me, the time between 5:00 PM and 1:00 AM. It keeps my attention away from bloodshed news. *********************************I cannot say that I read all what Mr. Tony Blair says, but I follow some of his speeches. Reading some, I can say that he is a man of vision who tries to keep on the track of what he says. Comparing many western leaders to those of Arab world, one may discover the contrast between men who keep their word & those who don't. A very recent example is President Ali Abdullah Salih of Yemen who has been saying for the last ten months that he wouldn't nominate for presidency, but he changed his mind and he will run for presidency though he has been in the post for more than quarter a century.I wish we, Arabs, had leaders like the forefathers in the states or philosophers like those of Europe who introduced lot of ideas which served humanity and had a great role in fighting against cruel governments. The concept of "state" in the Arab world was and still vague. It is a combination of the authority of the tribe & religion which represents a parental system.One of Mr. Blair speeches was at Georgetown University on 26 May 2006. He presents a global vision for a world which can not escape globalization. The man tries to call people all over the planet to be practical and think collectively about the future:"…we must fashion an international community that both embodies, and acts in pursuit of global values: liberty, democracy, tolerance, justice."He can perceive what peoples of the Mideast yearn for:"Yet in every country of the region there are people, probably the majority, who are desperate for change." He describes the new political system in Iraq:"This is a child of democracy struggling to be born. They and we, the international community, are the midwives."Therefore:"I believe success in Iraq has an importance far beyond the borders of Iraq."So it is very essential to succeed in Iraq and:"An arbitrary timetable ie without conditions being right, would be seen for what it would be: weakness." Still the question why the peoples of this region can not trust what western leaders say. Mr. Blair puts a finger on the most important issue. That is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which:"Under its cover, global terrorism recruits. Because of its darkness, moderate Muslim opinion is put on the defensive. And shut out is any enlightened sensible view of what we in the West really stand for and believe in."It seems that Mr. Blair propagates a new concept which I may call "Global Contract" in accordance with the "Social Contract" (Le Contract Social):"Today, after all the turmoil and disagreement of the past few years, there is a real opportunity to bring us together. We all of us face the common security threat of global terrorism; we all of us depend on a healthy global financial system; all of us, at least in time, will feel the consequences of the poverty of millions living in a world of plenty; we all of us know that secure and clean energy is a common priority. All of us have an interest in stability and a fear of chaos. That's the impact of interdependence." But:"What's the obstacle? It is that in creating more effective multilateral institutions, individual nations yield up some of the[...]

Human rights (III)


A clamor for the truth about what happened in Haditha is growing louder. First, I want to draw your attention to the number of parties slaying the Iraqis. But the best among them is the MNF. What I mean by 'the best' is the transparency of the American system. The American press plays an excellent role in tracing and revealing faults of different institutions in the society, keeps pressure to extract the truth. The world outside Haditha would never learn about what happened there if the American press didn't reveal it. Still, the same Iraqis who made use of the western media to publish the incident of Haditha, ironically, are the same people who kidnap and kill western journalists.About four weeks ago one of my acquaintances and his son were killed by Americans. The man was in his early sixties and the son was in his early twenties. It was a raid on their home around 4:30 AM. The man was a retired and his interest was in hunting and barbecuing. His son was studying engineer at University of Technology. The man led a life of some kind of luxury since his wife works in Oman making good income. One of their two sons lives with his mother in Oman and they have three daughters. The eldest daughter is a senior dentistry student. According to her story, the American soldiers broke into the house after heavy knocking on the doors with shouts ordering them to open the door. The girl's storey says:"It was completely dark (because of power shortage in Iraq) and we were asleep. The noise awoke us in alarm. My father hurried to open the door. As soon as he passed by the window he was shot in the abdomen and fell on the ground, which made my brother to follow him distracted between helping my father and opening the door. They gave him no time to decide and they shot my brother too. The doors blasted and a bunch of flashlights rushed into the house. I could not see faces or any sign that might reveal who were those men. My father and brother were bleeding and I asked the invaders to take them to hospital. One of them, I think he was the leader, asked me with complete frigidity 'Where did you learn to speak English?' I was in complete anger trying to make these rude men help my father and brother. The leader put a gum in his mouth and said to me 'We have our own doctor with us and he will help them'.The soldiers dragged me and my two sisters out of the house to the street. The neighbors were helpless since laser dots were very clear in the darkness inside their houses. We heard several shots in our house then the soldiers brought out two bodies in sacks. They detained my cousin who were sleeping over the roof of the house (sleeping over roofs in summer is an old Iraqi custom). The home was turned upside down, our IDs, my collage papers, a computer, photos…and many other personal things were taken."Hours later the man's relatives went to the police station in the district, in which there is a coordination office to organize work between Iraqi and American forces. They asked for the bodies and the astonishing answer was "There wasn't such activity in the district by the Americans" which left them in a state of confusion.As a result they launched a campaign to look for the bodies in hospitals & morgues. Family representatives were assigned at police stations. After three days they found the bodies at a hospital. A shot in the forehead was clear on both bodies, which raised questions about killing them in cold blood. On asking the hospital about where from the bodies were received, the answer was from [...]

Human rights (II)


The Washington Post says: "The U.S. official involved in the inspections, who would not be identified by name, described in an e-mail the abuse found during some of the visits since the Nov. 13 raid: "Numerous bruises on the arms, legs and feet. A lot of the Iraqis had separated shoulders and problems with their hands and fingers too. You could also see strap marks on some of their backs."A neighbor of mine was, nine months ago, detained for about a week. Till now he shows strap marks on his back. He is an engineer, in early thirties, newly married and had just had his first child when he was detained. Because of the bad economic conditions in Iraq, he does simple works to make his living. He was painting a house gate when a group of Iraqi commandos raided the street he was working at. He describes what happened: "I couldn't understand what was going on. A soldier ordered me to go inside the house. There was lot of gunfire hitting a palm under which I was hiding. Several soldiers broke into the house dragged me and took me to their officer who slapped me on my face. A soldier kept on hitting me with the rare part of his machine gun; another searched me taking away my keys, cell phone, and wallet. Someone thrust his hand under my overall quickly tearing my flannel shirt, using it to fold my eyes. They handcuffed my hands and put me in a pickup with several other persons, whom I managed to recognize some of them as they were store owners and some neighbors of the house I was working at. They took us to their unit headquarters detaining us in a small room which was mainly crowded before our arrival. Fortunately, one of the detainees managed to keep his cell phone with him, so we started to call our families. The investigation performed by people whom we couldn't see their faces. It was either to put us on the floor facing a wall with our hands backward handcuffed, or the investigators put on masks. There, one can discover the sectarian discrimination which the Iraqi society does not suffer from.On knowing my full name, they discovered that I'm a Shiite and "Sayed" (A Sayed is claimed to be a descendant of Prophet Mohammed). They scolded me for living in, what they called, a Sunni neighborhood, which looked very weird language for me. People with IDs of towns west to Baghdad were treated badly. The essential matters needed by every man (food, rest rooms, bed…etc.) were very miserable. There was no place to sleep, no mattress to sleep on except a blanket; though it was very cold days." He remained in detention for about a week. His way of viewing the 'New Iraq' has changed completely. Each time he hears news of detaining a group of terrorists, he comments "Don't believe it. They are not terrorists; they are nothing but people like me". He quitted his work, closed the small workshop he had saying "From now on I'm a suspect for the terrorists who would consider me as a cooperator with MNF, ING, IP…etc which makes me a nominee to be killed"A Sudanese, who has been living in our district for more than 15 years, is another example of inhuman treatment. An explosion took place in the street where he lives and he was immediately dragged from home to detention. In detention, one has to know that he must not ask about his cell phone, wallet or any other things in his pockets after being set free. He remained in detention for five days. His family provided him with meals during detention in the police station. Each meal has to be sufficient for at least three people si[...]

Human rights (I)


I believe that Iraqis are lucky to have the Americans in their country. One of the benefits of having them in Iraq is to enforce human rights. Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a news conference Nov. 29 with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, "It is absolutely the responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene to stop it."Turning to Pace, Rumsfeld responded:"I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it."For me, as an Iraqi looking forward to a better future, whether the Americans intervene directly or keep a continuous pressure on the Iraqi authorities to adhere to human rights regulations, the most important thing is to maintain an atmosphere of protecting creative Iraqis. These will boost new way of thinking. One of the stark images of oppression, nowadays, is the almost daily killing of journalists. For this, our media is not completely free to say everything. Any journalist has to create his own self censorship to avoid saying a word that might irritate an influential figure or a terrorist.Iraqi media is still unqualified to take its assumed role of monitoring and pinpointing faults in different fields. Till it happens, I think that international media of free world have to intervene in the Iraqi live and reveal issues that Iraqi media cannot speak about. Every Iraqi is a death nominee, so a journalist has to take the risk of doubling his nomination. Not every journalist is ready to do so and if there is any, hush-hush money can keep them silent.Even those, who are working to institute a new era of respecting human rights, are vulnerable. The Iraqi official familiar with the joint U.S.-Iraqi inspections of detention centers is described by the Washington Post as:“the Iraqi official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because, he said, he and other Iraqis involved with inspections had received death threats.” The Americans seem to be intimidated by Iraqi officials as the Washington Post states:"After the Nov. 13 disclosures, the highest-ranking U.S. officials in Iraq -- Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. -- issued rare public rebukes to their Iraqi government allies."And"Khalilzad's calls to rein in Shiite security forces and militias have put him on increasingly prickly terms with some members of Iraq's governing coalition of Shiite religious parties."After Ambassador Khalilzad had made notes about the ING & IP performance, and the necessity to nominate nonsectarian ministers to the defense & interior ministries, lot of offensive banners could be seen in different places of Baghdad describing Khalilzad as a Taliban sympathizer.I go with:"I want them to do what General Pace said," the Iraqi official said. Interior Ministry forces and allied Shiite militias have become more adept at hiding detainees and they kidnap victims from inspectors, he said. Iraqis "are looking for some of the Americans to do the right thing," he added. "Don't be intimidated by the Iraqi politicians." As for becoming "more adept at hiding detainees", I heard once such a story from an Iraqi police officer who is, ironically, a Sunni. He was complaining of the Americans who keep on releasing detainees from the Iraqi's custody. To avoid releasing the most dangerous detainees, they put them in police cars under their feet so the Americans won't notice them and send these cars to to[...]

Mutual Understanding


Mainly, this was to be a reply to a comment made by Original_Jeff about the previous post. On second thought, I decided to post it here. First, I’m not considering any of my ideas an ultimate one. Sometimes, it is not nice to keep on criticizing without introducing an idea. What I’m trying to do in this blog is ‘Thinking Loudly’, introducing a perspective and, the most important thing, to learn something about the world.A good point made by Original_Jeff, that’s “some of the leaders of radical Islam and of al-Quaeda spent quite a bit of time in western countries”. But one should question the number of these radicals compared to more than a billion Muslims in the world. Should all Muslims be viewed through a bunch of deafening radical Islamists or several criminals who committed one of the most aggravated crimes on 9/11? Would it be fair to view all Americans through what happened in Abu Ghraib or through an irritated soldier kicking Iraqi civilian cars or shooting at them?Another point by Jeff says “Almost all Americans have the belief “that if they only knew us better, then they would not hate us”—which is what you are suggesting.” Yes, and I would counter back the belief. What we need is mutual understanding. It is essential, as an American president once said (I think JFK), since we share the same planet.Having first-hand experience of oppression, I can say that terrorists work hard on impairing the social ties which is the same policy of Saddam. Broadening the concept leads to impairing the ties between different societies. It helps in sowing fear, mistrust, uncertainty, hatred, confusion…etc. These elements are the most suitable tools for terrorists and Saddamists to create the appropriate environment for their activities. So, suspicion and mistrust should be stirred up every where and every time.To break this closed circle of continuous bilateral misunderstanding, something should be done. It is not necessarily what I’m suggesting; others may have brilliant ideas better than (the naïve of) mine.Mtnyogi made good remarks, but a direct human experience is much more beneficial than seeing people on screens or chatting with them through internet or phone. Al-Hurra TV (sponsored by the US gov.) introduces a program called (Americans) which shows some aspects of the American people’s life. Still, the American individual looks ostentatious and has nothing in common with Iraqi or Arab individuals. An Arab proverb says “To truly know someone; travel with him/her” which means to live with him/her round-the-clock. So, it is either Iraqi tourists to visit the states (which is impossible because most of Iraqis live on the edge of poverty & tight US security regulations), or American tourists to visit Iraq (which is also impossible for the known circumstances).As for writing a book, I don’t know how to do it since I have no idea about how books are written or published. And if I manage in doing so, I’m sure no one would read it. A book is the last thing an Iraqi thinks about because of low personal income which makes buying a book a matter of luxury. The new Iraqi generations were brought up in a society adores weapons not books. Even the most needed books are not easy to buy. The other day, a cousin of mine was telling me how a book of anatomy is expensive. It costs $49 which may give you an idea about the world of books in Iraq.My (naïve) suggestion is built on the idea [...]

Ineffective Communication (III)


First of all it should be clear that Iraqis, just like many communities in the globe, are fascinated by the American society. Still, they know very little about how the US became a super power. The US for the Iraqis is a spectrum ranges between the troops touring our streets and Hollywood productions, and the first image of America evoked by Iraqi unconscious is the ugly Yankee. It is the product of an Arab-nationalism, religious, tribal, totalitarian society. A society which is governed by illogical way of reasoning.Personally, I had a vague image about American individuals, since I had never had a real experience of interaction with non-Iraqis till March 2003. Saddam’s regime considered it a matter of espionage and treason. In addition, heavy security regulations and poor income per capita made it impossible for the Iraqis to go abroad. The result was, and maybe still, a segregated society symbolized by an Iraqi skeptic character filled with mistrust of strangers.It was my transistor radio, before March 2003, which helped me to discover what was going on in the abroad world. It was a real struggle trying to listen to abroad radio stations with all kinds of Iraqi jamming frequencies. As an example, which I had posted about once, is hearing about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but I was not able to lay an eye on a copy of it before 2003.Thanks to the internet for making it possible to gain American pen pals and through them I learned something about Americans as individuals. I discovered that Americans do not differ from us as persons who have their own family problems and everyday life matters. One of my American pen pals grows vegetables in the backyard, just like me, putting extra product in boxes to be sold by her kids in front of the house. But the Americans have wonderful humanitarian feelings which we lack; another American pen pal has an adopted girl of Indian origin. The little girl has some defect in her arms (handicapped) which made me to highly praise the lady. I learned from this lady many lessons; first is tolerance towards people of different complexion, second is willingness to serve handicapped persons, third is the quantity of love this lady has…etc. What I am trying to say is: “Show the Iraqis another face of America. The face of the average American citizen. Try to establish contact with the average Iraqi citizen. Don’t tell me it’s the Iraqis duty, since the Iraqis are mentally and economically exhausted for which they are unable to take the initiative”.It is important to work on a long term-program to establish a pro-liberalism class in the Iraqi society.In the short term, the US administration have to support an (anti) anti-Americanism media campaign led by Arab liberal figures. Liberal Arab writers, thinkers, journalists, academicians, clerics…etc have to confront and undermine the Arab’s way of thinking. Such work needs means. The US should provide them with these means. One of these means is Al-Hurra satellite channel sponsored by the US government. Still, the kind of programs introduced by this channel is not sufficient.Few Iraqis, Arabs and Muslims know something about the US history or that of England & Europe. There is a total ignorance about the struggle of these nations to achieve what they have achieved. Making the history of Man available to the Arabs & Iraqis may help in changing their way of viewing the West. U[...]