Friday, August 13, 2004

Our Man "G" in the Belly of Najaf

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, known to fans of the Iraqi Bloggers as "G," is writing from inside Najaf. (Hat tip: Ambassador Fayrouz)

The latest article is about the role of posters in the New Iraq:

Everyone is competing for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people - the Americans, the new Iraqi government, the religious parties, the insurgents, the mujahideen and even young clerics such as Moqtada al-Sadr. And while the Americans are playing left against right, the insurgents are blowing up civilians and the Iraqi government are re-instituting the death penalty, all are using the same method to actually talk to the people: posters. And they are everywhere.

So young Iraqi men and women in police uniforms grin from a big billboard for the ministry of the interior: "We are serving our country. What are you doing?" Another shows a sunset scene more suited to an airline ad. It's for a US-funded campaign, and combines statement with admonition: "Iraq: the progress, the prosperity", then, "Iraq, your country can be better."

Whole walls are covered with copies of one poster, which shows scenes from the good old times, the 70s in Baghdad - the last time that you could take a photo of the city and all the lights would be on. This one is meant to persuade Iraqis of the benefits of democracy, of elections and, chiefly, that one day the electricity will come back.

Usually all these posters are torn down as fast as they are put up - even those for the Red Cross and other NGOs, and those for unexploded ordnance awareness campaigns. The only posters that survive the turmoil of Baghdad are those put up by the imams - Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Shiite imams, Ali and co. - all in different positions: some praying, others killing lions, some with their heads bleeding or hearts shining light. Just months after the fall of Saddam, all the walls which used to be covered by murals in support of his regime are covered by pictures of old men with thick beards. It's very confusing.


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In the other article "G" talks to members of the Medhi Army.

Soon the wounded were evacuated to the rear lines and only the dead were left: nine bodies wrapped in blankets.

"Look," said the man running the hospital, "these are happy martyrs."

Most of the corpses had parts of their heads blown off, one was missing the upper left part of his torso and his skull. In Islamic tradition martyrs are buried exactly as they died, with the blood and the dirt from the battlefield covering them. It is believed there is nothing more pure than the blood of the martyrs.

All who entered the makeshift morgue looked at them with passion, as if this was something to be aspired to.

When one of the bodies was unwrapped, a fighter cried out: "Oh God, when did he die? We were together yesterday."

"Don't say that," said another. "He is the fortunate one. We are all here for that."



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The latest crap from Al-Sadr:

Iraqi Cleric Al-Sadr Sets Conditions to End Fighting, AFP Says

Aug. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The Iraqi Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, whose supporters are staging an insurgency in southern Iraq, has set 10 conditions to end clashes with U.S. and Iraqi forces in Najaf, Agence France-Presse reported, citing a spokesman for the rebel leader.

Under the conditions al-Sadr's militias will pull out of Najaf after the withdrawal of all Iraqi and foreign forces from the city, AFP said, citing Sheikh Ali Sumeisim. Al-Sadr also demanded that the Marjayia religious authority take charge of Najaf, home to Iraq's holiest Shiite Muslim shrine, AFP said.

Other conditions included recognizing al-Sadr's militia, known as the Mahdi Army, as an ideological movement with the right to carry weapons for self-defense, AFP reported.

Iraqi and U.S. forces have been fighting militiamen loyal to al-Sadr since last week. The coalition captured 1,200 fighters in Najaf, Iraqi ministers said yesterday.


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So now Muqtada Al-Sadr, cut off and surrounded by the IP, ING, and Multinational Forces , is the one dictating conditions??!! People, what kind of parallel universe are we living in?! If Allawi agrees with this, I will pull the plug on this weblog and kiss all my Iraqi friends goodbye and good luck. Enough is enough.

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I just posted this over at Iraq the Model:

Omar, Ali, Mohammed,

A lot of the commenters have been here with you guys from the beginning. Lisa, in fact, the very first. I hope that Allawi has a secret plan to club this bastard as he walks out of the mosque peacefully. If not, then there is good reason why all of us pro-Coalition commenters are supremely PISSED OFF at the Iraqi leaders.

They f*cked us over in Falluja. Not ONE PERSON brought to justice after the f*cking Fallujans killed and mutilated and hung Americans over a bridge! They f*cked us over the first time we went after Muqtada Al-Sadr. This time if your leaders f*ck us over again you're going to see a lot of us drop off. I've been with you guys since November and I am freaking tired of bullshit.

This is serious. You think we like to have Americans die and then have Muqtada Al-Sadr negotiate so he can walk out and start arming himself again. Please, ITM brothers, LET YOUR VOICES BE HEARD!!!





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