Friday, December 31, 2004

Speak, Wise Sandmonkey!

I am just one of a multitude of recent followers of Wise Sandmonkey whose Teachings have led us out of a State of Abject Ignorance.

We sit on the floor in front of Wise Sandmonkey and ask him to share his worldly knowledge and experience.

A young man toward the front of the packed room raises his hand.

Sandmonkey: What is your name?

Young Man: Mike.

Sandmonkey: Okay, Mike, what is your request for the Wise Sandmonkey?

Young Man: Maybe you can enlighten us on why Middle Easterners seemingly live for conspiracy theories?

Wise Sandmonkey: Well, Mike, you see, they all live in police-states under dictatorships, where most of the newspaper are state-owned and censored. Arabs therefore got used to the idea that governments are full of shit and that they never really tell you the truth. That , combined with feelings of persecution, boredom and over-active imagination , sends most of them into the conspiracy theory zone. And once you are in that zone, well, you start seeing them conspiracies everywhere. Like, for example, why is white rice called just plain rice, yet brown rice is called "Wild "rice? Or why is the catchphrase for Frosted Flakes "They are greeeeeeat" and yet you "go coco" for Coco Puffs? And, while we are at it, why does the Coco Puffs box have a monkey character on it? As you can see, this is just the way the white man subliminally control the borwn people of the world, you know, telling them that they are "wild coco brown monkeys", while emphasizing that Anything white is "GREAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTT".

All of us followers nod our heads and smile at the Words of the Sage.

One young Fella to another, whispering, "I used to love Coco Puffs. I wonder what that means?"

The other Fella responds, "Brother, once you've gone BROWN, you'll never turn AROUND. Once you've gone BLACK, you'll never go BACK."

Wise Sandmonkey walks among his people, signing the new pin-up calendar of Enlightened Egyptian Lassies he's putting out called Sheikh Yerbouti.

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Husayn discusses the subject of headscarves in Iraq.
But as the terrorists are weakened and as Iraqis turn away from them, more and more wwomen are feeling comfortable enough to wear what they want without fear for retribution. This was left out of the article, believe me, I see it everyday and at work, more and more women who didn't wear headscarf before are not wearing it anymore.

It must drive the terrorists and their Saudi friends crazy. I talk alot about the Saudis for this reason. We in Iraq know them. They play games with the rest of the world pretending to be friends, but they are enemies of everyone. They are poisoning Islam with their crazy understanding of it, and I am seeing the snake come home. All these attacks in Saudi are just the garbage they have created coming back to bite them. Thats what you should make of these attacks. I think that the poisoin that the Saudis created will be what killed them in the end. I doubt many people in Iraq will shed a tear, for they have caused us much suffering while sitting in their big mansions drinking their alcohol and having prostitutes while pretending to be the greatest Muslims.

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GM at Big Pharaoh gives us the skinny on one of the founding members of Al-Jazeera.
I have talked before about Al Jazeera, the nature of its top management, and its agenda. I just want to briefly mention something about one of the channel's pillars: Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood cleric who resides in Qatar under the auspices of the Emir. Al Jazeera was his brainchild and he currently has a program he uses to dish out his fatwas to millions across the world. Qaradawi, who is forbidden from entering the United Emirates, called for the murder of US civilians in Iraq and he has provided tacit backing for the terrorists there. Ironically, the multimillionaire Sheikh who is married to a girl at the age of his granddaughters has 2 sons studying in universities INSIDE THE USA. He also did not include British citizens on his death list because the United Kingdom issued him an entry visa so that he can inaugurate an Islamic center in London!

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Thursday, December 30, 2004

What's Wrong with This Picture?

Stephen and Daniel over at Iraq Elections Blog have been doing a good job clipping and posting and linking to interesting articles on the upcoming Iraqi elections.

But then today I stop by and see that Khalid Jarrar is now one of the co-authors and links to his blog entry in which he asks Iraqis NOT to vote in the upcoming elections.

People, what's wrong with this picture?

Also, should Iraq Elections Blog really be dominated by the dithering, unfocused commentary by Emigre? Emigre, make a point, try to support it, and then move on. Why all the stream-of-consciousness writing. You're not Molly at the end of Ulysses.

Iraq Elections Blog, what do you want to be? Emigre and Khalid's voicebox or a source for the latest information on the upcoming elections? Emigre hates Americans and Khalid wants to kill Americans and doesn't want Iraqis to vote. Biased? Nah.

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Wretchard at Belmont Club posts another fine entry on the impact of bloggers in 2004 -- and beyond. If you're interested in the blogosphere, you must read this piece.
The blogosphere is a specific manifestation -- and by no means the only one -- of the networks made possible by the Internet which can be imperfectly compared to the emerging nervous system of a growing organism. Once the software and infrastructure to self-publish was in place, it was natural that analytical cells, or groups of cells would take inputs from other parts of the system and process them. The result was 'instant punditry', which was nothing more than the public exchange of analysis on any subject -- politics, culture and war just happened to be the three most popular. It enabled lawyers to offer opinions on law; military men on things military; scientists on things scientific. And suddenly the journalistic opinion editors found themselves at an increasing disadvantage. While individual bloggers might not have the journalistic experience of the newspaper professionals, they had the inestimable edge of being experts, sometimes the absolute authorities in their respective fields. This is exactly what happened in Memogate. People who had designed Adobe fonts and written desktop publishing programs knew the memos were computer generated and were not going to be overawed by Dan Rather's experts asserting the contrary. They were the real experts and to make an impact they did not have to be correct across a large range of issues. They only had to be right in the one thing they knew best and from that vantage could hammer a mainstream pundit into the dust. Rather's defeat at the hands of Buckhead was not accidental. It was inevitable.

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Oh-oh! Big Pharaoh is going to have some competition out of Egypt now. Sandmonkey is up and running. Why the name Sandmonkey? Well, why not Sandmonkey himself explain.
Someone just left me an anonymous comment wondering if I could tell him what, exactly, is a sandmonkey.

Hmm, A truly excellent fantastic question. let me explain...

A Sandmonkey is the same thing as a Towelhead, arabiac, A-Rab, Rag, sandnegro, cameljockey, Turbanhead and-my own personal favorite- a Hasn't-Been-Laiden.

And in case you are still confused by what it means, it's a derogatory term used to describe middle-easterners. You know, when they are not in the same room with you?

Since i don't really give a damn what those people think, i figure why not own the name, u know, like how black people owned the "N" word? Made it something positive? It's the same theory. Maybe one day white people will start calling eachother "Crackaa's" and beat up anyone who is not white who calls them that. On a second thought, they really should start doing that. I can't wait till i hear my first "Crackaa Pleeeease"!

But anyway, back to the sandmonkey thing.

I dunno, i kinda like it. I think its cute and funny, and it gives out a really interesting mental image, not to mention it's really hard to come up with a "clever" name for your blog. And there can only be one pharaoh, you know?

Okay, you just gotta love Sandmonkey.

Hasn't-Been-Laiden! Ha ha!

Bookmark Sandmonkey NOW! And tell him Jeffrey from New York sent you over.

UPDATE: Read Sandmonkey's first post.
I am the son of a retired Businessman that the socialist nature of the country almost brought him to bankruptcy and my Mother is a University professor and a big shot politician among other things. I have only been back to Egypt for a couple of months and I am still suffering from the reverse culture shock that everyone kept telling me about. I knew adjusting back would be somewhat difficult, but I apparently forgot how dysfunctional everything in the egyptain society really are.

Now, what would make me so special that you would take the time to check my rantings out? Well,hmm, I am cute? I am occasionally funny? I do promise to give you people a daily dose of snark? Not enough?

Well if you really want a reason, there are the obvious ones: I offer you a view that very few people can give you: The view of a politically-connected, young, well-off, only slightly sociopathic, egyptian political junkie on everything from egyptian & middleeast politics to well, anything that captures my fancy. I promise you that you won't be bored. Maybe slightly disturbed, but never bored.

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VOTE FOR SADDAM HUSSEIN or ELSE! (Hat tip: Muhannad in Oregon)

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Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Khalid Jarrar to Iraqis: Don't Vote!

Khalid Jarrar has taken cynicism to a new level. In another attempt to aid the terrorists in Iraq, along with his brother Raed, Khalid has asked Iraqis not to vote in the upcoming elections.
if you go to vote, blame no one but yourself, just wait and see!

Better to follow the call of Bin Laden and Zarqawi and let chaos rule Iraq. That will show those Americans that NO ONE can bring democracy to an Arab region. We already know that Khalid doesn't give a shit about the Kurds. He's made that very clear in the past.

Khalid also predicts civil war. Let's follow his reasoning.
the extremest Sonna, threaten to kill everyone that will run in the elections, and probably everyone that votes.

extremest Shea threaten to kill anyone that apposes the elections, as they are a wholy religious duty, as alSistani says.

thast all what we need! in the presence of all weapons both sides have, the war is coming, really soon.

Strange. I don't recall any "extremest Shea" in the news for killing anyone who doesn't want elections. What the hell is Khalid talking about? Someone help me here.

Civil war? I don't know. Most Iraqi commentators say it's not going to happen. Well, we'll see.

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Is Khalid Jarrar a Halabja-denier? It wouldn't surprise me. Fortunately, we have blogs like Kurdistan Bloggers Union to keep us informed. Hiwa responds to one Arab Halabja-denier.
I am not a professional in gasses and stuff, but I survided it by the coal we used as soon as we started coughing, but if you dont believe the HRW reports then continue your arabic translations and if you have time take your professionals and you personally go to Halabja, ask the people to direct you to where C.Ali is going to be tried at, may be you could defend him, as you seem to be a very good solicitor.
CHAK will be in contact with you soon!

Raed Jarrar would most likely say, "Hey, so what if Saddam gassed the Kurds, he was OUR LEADER!"

On the Jarrar-family business website, you will STILL find photos of Mrs. Anthrax (panel 10), Huda Salih Mahdi Ammash, and Tariq Aziz (panel 15).

Dear Kurdish friends, it makes you wonder about the Jarrars, doesn't it?

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As I write this, Majid Jarrar is here in New York, snapping photos, seeing the sights, enjoying our freedom and hospitality, while back in Iraq Raed and Khalid Jarrar support the terrorists and urge the killing of our soldiers. Raed gloats every time an American is killed.

What do you think about this?

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CMAR II asks a fundamental question.
What shall I call those who are ideologically committed to the failure of democracy in Iraq?


CMAR II also reviews the recent events over at Iraq the Model and l'affaire martini-cole.

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I have been following Ian Buruma's writing career since the publication of his first book, Behind the Mask, an examination of Japanese society through its pop and underground culture. Today, let's ride with Mr. Buruma through present-day Amsterdam.
This is the problem. Although Theo van Gogh was Dutch and was killed by a Dutch citizen, in the end this is not just a Dutch story but a Middle Eastern one imported to the heart of Europe. Mohammed Bouyeri, and hundreds like him, have plugged into a wider world of violent Web-based rhetoric and terrorist cells. The integration of Muslims in the Netherlands has not been a greater failure than anywhere else. But the country may have been less prepared for the holy war.

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Steven Vincent takes a look at the Iranian Shia coming across the border into Iraq.
One of the untold stories about Iraq are the Shia pilgrims that have poured into the country since its liberation, eager to visit sites sacred to their faith. U.S. officials have long worried that this flood of devotionalists--up to 3,000 a day, by some estimates--provided perfect cover for criminals, terrorists and Iranian agents. This Persian influx has alarmed other countries, as well: in a recent Washington Post interview, Jordan's King Abdullah warned that "one million" Iranians had crossed into Iraq. Perhaps, in part, to allay these fears, on December 22, Iran closed the border, citing "security threats" to pilgrims entering the country. But it doesn't matter now: the armies of Shia faithful have already transformed Iraqi into something no one, a few years ago, could have expected.

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Mohammed at Iraq the Model pushes Khalid Jarrar and pins him against the wall.
And to remove the fog and debunk the claims about the Sunni population being against the democratic process, I want to point out that tens of the political parties come from the Sunni population. Moreover you almost can't find a single list that lacks Sunni candidates in it, even lists from She'at, Kurdis, Christian or liberal parties.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Osama Bin Zero

Husayn at Democracy in Iraq responds to Osama Bin Laden's latest video message:
Uncle Usama has appeared on television again, just like last time, he is concerned about elections. This time he is telling us Iraqis not to vote. This is nothing more than desperation on his part. Whatever support he may have had has slowly eroded. People are realizing that there is no real benefit to supporting or even working with Usama and his minions. I mean what will the end be if a person was to align themselves with Usama? Death, living in a cave, living in a Saudi state, or God knows what else.

Yeah, what exactly are Bin Laden and Zarqawi offering the Iraqi people?

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GM at Big Pharaoh has engaged in good discussions of the AP-photo story.

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This semester I taught a class of students from the former Soviet Union. A week ago I had them write a story about a time when they were very proud. Vladimir, from Ukraine, smiled as he wrote his story. Later, riding the subway home, I read his story about how proud he felt when Ukrainians stood up to years of dictatorship and forced a new round of elections. He told me that it was his proudest moment as a Ukrainian.

Marc Cooper asks why some American Leftists are upset with the march of democracy in Ukraine.

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Monday, December 27, 2004

Monday ... Monday ... Monday

Monday


Monday


Monday


Monday

Uh ... what day is it?

Monday

What?

Monday

Oh, right.

Monday

Yeah, you just said that.

Monday

You screwing with my head?

Monday

All right, you bastard, that's it.

Mond--

*odd twisting metallic sound*

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Okay, these links are for commenter TheREALFiveO.

James W. Ceaser's "The Genealogy of Anti-Americansim".

Meet Dr. Germ.

Meet Mrs. Anthrax.

Ziboy -- the best photoblog out of China.

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Sunday, December 26, 2004

Husayn Weighs In

Husayn over at Democracy in Iraq answers today the question of how Iraqis in general feel about the Americans in their country.
Now if you were to ask me what percentage of IRaqis are opposed to democracy and Americans, I would say a low percentage. I get the feeling that in the United States, the media makes it look like many Iraqis hate America and want them to leave. I do not agree, and I feel that this is not reflected on the street. These polls that give such data are probably skewed as the people they ask may be naturally guarded at being asked questions by foreigners. And I dont know how these polls are carried out. If its by phone, then that will skew results, as not all Iraqis have phones, or phone service.

I think the most accurate idea of how Iraqis feel about American soldiers is to say that they have no problem with American soldiers as long as American soldiers do what they say they are in Iraq to do. I mean to say that they do not oppose Americans as long as the Americans act as they say they will. This has been mostly true of American soldiers, they come off as professional, and only on rare occasion do they make mistakes which anger people. Mistakes do occur though, and this is one factor which drives some Iraqis to oppose Americans. People who have lost their family whether by accident or other means to American forces are naturally angered, but I do not think most Iraqis have felt this.

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I'll be honest with you. I don't know what to say about Raed Jarrar anymore. Today he gloats over the suicide attack on the American and Iraqi soldiers in Mosul, prominently displaying "before and after" clips pulled from Al-Jazeera and also linking to the website of the terrorist group Army of Ansar al-Sunna. Make no mistake about it, Raed Jarrar supports the terrorists.

I hope our Iraqi friends watch out for Raed Jarrar. I have listened to the ITM brothers and Sam speak out against Raed and the other terrorist sympathizers. Let's hope our Iraqi friends remain vigilant.

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GM at Big Pharaoh in Egypt has been looking at the AP-photo story the last two days. As usual, GM is succinct and forthright:
The case at hand is much more serious than the fake memos about what young George W. Bush did over 30 years ago. The case at hand has to do with the brutal killing of 2 Iraqi heroes whose only mistake was trying to organize an election in their country. This is a moral case and we, the friends of Iraq and of the troops serving there, should not let this incident pass unnoticed. Either AP has to come up with convincing answers to all our questions, or we will continue our crusade to expose AP's alleged "methods of journalism" in Iraq.

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Saturday, December 25, 2004

The Return of ZEYAD

We are happy to announce that Zeyad has returned to blogging and has written two detailed blog entries today. Read both and learn.

Here's an excerpt from his entry of the upcoming election:
Recent polls by the IEC indicate that some 80% of eligible voters (all Iraqis over 18 who can prove their Iraqi identity) in the country have registered. Registration forms for each family were compiled from their existing ration cards since there was no national census following the war. The forms were not without errors so the IEC provided details on the back of the forms on how to fix them, the deadline was December 15.

Iraq is regarded as a single constituency since this is a nationwide ballot. 7000 voting centers (most of them in schools) across the country have been prepared to receive voters. Iraqis shall also vote to elect members of their local Governorate Councils and voters in the north shall elect members of the Kurdish Parliament

Iraqi exiles abroad (estimated to be about 3 million) with proof of their Iraqi nationality can vote at Iraqi embassies and consulates. About ten voting centers will be available worldwide in the UK, Sweden, USA, Jordan, Iran, Australia, and the UAE. Germany, Syria and Canada, all of which contain sizeable Iraqi communities, have refused to allow Iraqis to vote inside their borders.

A registered voter will cast his vote for ONE of the 93 lists. The National Assembly will consist of 275 members. A candidate would need (total number of voters/275) votes to get a seat in the assembly. For example, if 10 million people vote, divide 10,000,000 by 275 and you get 36,363 votes required for a candidate to be on the assembly (actually it's 36363.6 votes but I'm not quite sure how they are going to deal with fractional numbers).

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2Slick has some photos from Mosul you might like on his blog today. If you work for the Associated Press, however, you might NOT like them very much.

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If you work for the Associated Press, you REALLY won't like what Wretchard at Belmont Club is doing to you.

Jack Stokes, director of media relations at AP, says that "insurgents want their stories told as much as other people."

Yeah, so does Hannibal Lecter.

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Friday, December 24, 2004

Iraq Pundit on L'affaire martini-cole

Although this blog entry entitled "Juan Cole's Unbearable Lightness of Blogging" by Iraq Pundit is now eleven days old, it is well worth reading again for an Iraqi's perspective on the inevitable political struggles within the blogosphere.
What disgusts me most is Cole's implication that Iraqis are unable to think and reason for themselves. If Iraqi blogs are supportive of liberalization (and most are), then Cole apparently believes that we must suspect a hidden hand somewhere. Enlightenment and independence of mind are to be defined by whether or not you agree with Juan Cole. If you don't, you lack integrity and honesty, and you may even be a hoax, a fraud, or an agent provocateur.

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HANG 'EM HIGH at KURDO'S WILD WEST SALOON!

Yesterday in Kurdistan, according to Kurdo, American troops painted over a big Kurdistan flag on a brick wall. And now an old-fashioned bar brawl has broken out at Kurdo's Saloon. The Kurdish Fellers are out in force, nooses and six-shooters in hand, looking for any A-rabs or Amriki to string up or shoot up.

Picking up a chair to chair to smash over Sheriff Lee C.'s head, KurdishHERO yells:
AWWW GOD
NOW WHAT THE PESHMARGAS ARE WAITIN FOR ?
FUKIN KILL 2 OR 3 AMERICANS SO THAT THEY WONT DO THAT AGAIN.

Ducking a flying beer bottle, Karzan screams:
it is time for an uprising against IRAQ and their masters USA.

we want independence...
we dont want bloody arab islamic iraq.

Hawbeer grabs Yosemite Sam Hammorabi by the lapels and pulls his head into a wall and shouts:
kirm ba quziaki islam enja arab.

translation.

fuk arabs and islam

Don't ask me how, but a rabid Manchester United Fan happened to be in the bar drinking with the Kurdish Fellers:
OI KURDS
DONT ACCEPT DIS, I AM ENGLISH AND A BIG SUPPORTER OF MY TEAM MANCHESTER UNITED.
IF ANYONE TOUCHES MY MAN U FLAG ESPECIALLY ONE OF DEM ARSENAL HOOLIGANS I WILL BURN DOWN DA WHOLE OF LONDON.

U GEMME GUYS

SHOW SOME ACTOINS..
OLA

With his shaved head and ten-gallon beer belly, the Manchester United Fan has just joined Karzan in kicking Sheriff Lee C.'s ribs!

Look out!

*bottle breaks against wall*

Whoa!

Folks! It's bedlam at Kurdo's tonight!!!

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Thursday, December 23, 2004

'Round Midnight at Kurdo's Wild West Saloon

I wuz playin cards with Yosemite Sam and Sheriff Lee C. when Kurdo stoppt kleaning glasses behind the bar an' tuk out a big sheet a cardbord an' nailed it rite above the cash rejister. I lookt at Sam and Sam lookt at Sheriff Lee C. an' I kud tell Sam an' Sheriff were none too pleazed. I kopied it down on a napkin. Here's wut he rote:
This coming election will not, under any circumstances :

1. Will not Make Iraq any safer.
2. Will not stop terrorist attacks on US soldiers and innocent civilians.
3. Will not provide security, oil, and electricity to normal ordinary people.
4. Will not stop terrorists sabotaging the pipelines.

Sheriff Lee C. sed fukt if we do fukt if we don't. Yosemite Sam tuk out his six-shooter an' laid it on the table an' looked Kurdo rite in the eye.

I sed nuthin.

That Kurdo shure kan rite tho.

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2Slick asks why it seems that the AP slants their coverage in favor of the terrorists in Iraq. 2Slick is not the first to notice this and, unfortunately, he will not be the last.

UPDATE: Wretchard at Belmont Club takes another look at the photo that just happened to be snapped exactly when the terrorists killed those three Iraqi election workers. Thirty armed terrorists all around and the photographer stands up and snaps a photo?

2Slick, guess who? Yep, Associated Press once again.

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QUOTES GONE WILD!

As someone who teaches direct and indirect speech and the niceties of attribution and citation every semester, I have been more than a little amused by the overuse of quotation marks in recent writing of all kinds. Let's take a look at the first two paragraphs from an article in the Guardian:
The two French hostages just released from captivity in Iraq spoke of the "tough experience" at the hands of their Iraqi captors who held them in captivity for four months.

Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot, said they were "happy" to be back but they had experienced enormous pressures at the hand of masked gunmen.

The first use of quotation marks for a partial quote is, to my mind, reasonable. "Tough experience" is the exact phrase -- a translation of the phrase in French, we assume -- used by the two ex-captives to characterize their ordeal.

But why, I ask you, does the reporter put quotation marks around the adjective in the second paragraph? Here's the problem. We also use quotation marks to suggest that the word may NOT reflect reality. Yeah, my friend said he was "happy" -- in solitary confinement. Here, I think, the use of quotation marks works against the reporter's intention.

Any other examples? Any thoughts?

But the use of quotation marks as sneer quotes is best exemplified by the online Al-Jazeera. I would suggest checking in each day and watch how they work. The funniest was when during the Falluja operation their sneer quotes started to work against them. I'll see if I can find a few examples.

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Is it just me, or do any of you miss Salam Pax?

I do.

Here's what I wrote earlier about three friends from what seems like now a long time ago.

The Story of Three Iraqi Friends.
Raed does not have the English-language skills of Salam or Ghaith. While Salam Pax has always been an ironist and Ghaith the most passionate critic of the Saddam regime, Raed has been the most unpredictable and unstable, sometimes writing like an inebriated Italian futurist while at other times like a slightly medicated and thoroughly paranoid Hunter S. Thompson.

I wrote that back in June. Now, at the end of the year, Salam Pax has been silent for months. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad has become a fine reporter. And Raed Jarrar has become completely unhinged, now supporting the insurgency, armed with his Geiger Counter, wandering the Iraqi sandbox taking readings and writing numbers down in a small notebook.

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Since my return to blogging, I have come across many new Iraqi voices. One of the most articulate of this group is the Iraqi exile called Iraq Pundit. Check out his blog. It's one of the best we have. Of course, he's on my sidebar too.

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Catherine Seipp, over at NRO, updates us on l'affaire martini-cole.

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Kevin from Boots on the Ground is getting ready to go back to Iraq with his unit.
I'm finally home for the holidays. I got here about a week ago. One thing I've noticed over the years, when you reach a certain age, Christmas loses its glamour. The only thing I look forward to is seeing my family. Soon, after New Years, I will be back in Iraq involved in combat operations. So, I'm trying to make the most of the time I have back with my family. It seems it's already starting to effect my mother, she keeps saying all she wants for Christmas is me to come home safe. So, I know when it's time to get on that airplane and leave it's going to be really difficult to say goodbye. Being home, makes it feel like Iraq is so distant and far away. I've already had my taste of war, I don't look forward to going back there. However, the funny thing is, if my unit said I could leave the Army instead of being stop loss, I would request to extend my enlistment to goto Iraq. No matter what, where my buddies go, I want to be there with them and face the same dangers with them.

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Ray D. over at Medienkritik looks back at one battle in WWII.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Too Angry to Blog

I just finished reading a blog written by a chaplain in Mosul.
I found "Betty" on a stretcher being tended by nurses. I introduced myself and held her hand. She looked up at me and said, "Chaplain, am I going to be alright?" I said that she was despite the fact that I could see she had a long road to recovery ahead of her. Most of her hair had been singed off. Her face was burnt fairly badly, although it didn't look like the kind of burns that will scar. What I do know is that it was painful enough to hurt just by being in the sun. I prayed with Betty and moved on.

Adding all of this to the carnage from the last few days of Iraqi citizens, I am simply too ANGRY to blog. I don't trust myself to write very much.

WHERE THE FUCK ARE THE IRAQI MEN?

WHERE ARE YOU? HIDING?

YOU DON'T GIVE A FUCK THAT TERRORISTS ARE KILLING YOU AND YOUR WIVES AND YOUR CHILDREN?!
WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO STAND UP AND BE MEN?


That's all I'm going to say. I know it's not cool to lose my temper, but I am tired of Iraqis letting the scum live among them without telling anyone where they are.

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J from Iraq Calling blogs from Mosul and reports in. According to J, there have been 550 mortar and rocket attacks on their base. And NO IRAQI knows the origin of any of those mortars, right?

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Wretchard at Belmont Club responds to the mortar attack in Mosul.

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Ghaith Abdul-Ahad parties down with Iraqi Commies! (Hat Tip: Ladybird)

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Christopher Caldwell, writing for the online Weekly Standard, takes on one aspect of contemporary history in the Netherlands in "The Dutch rethink multiculturalism." (Ladybird, any comments would be appreciated)

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Jihad Al Khazen, who could never be called pro-American, writes over at Dar Al Hayat:
Osama bin Laden is a terrorist, an ignorant failing murderer, and after 9/11, we have heard around 17 speeches that he delivered, threatening of miseries and curses. I would like to tell him what the Americans say: "put up or shut up;" as since he deceitfully killed 3,000 Americans three years ago, he has been threatening without implementing a single operation in the United States. This is why he and his group, from Saudi Arabia to Iraq and to every country, are killing Muslims, because they are incapable of killing 'Crusaders.'

See, now was that so hard? Don't you feel better?

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UPDATE: An interview with Steven Vincent, author of In the Red Zone, already linked to below here are Iraqi Bloggers Central. Steven Vincent tells a story from one night in Baghdad.
Suddenly an Al-Jareeza film crew pulled up, led by a cute American woman from San Francisco. She ordered her Iraqi camera guy to start filming the scene, and I warned the GIs that they were going to see themselves on Arab TV oppressing the local Baghdad population. Everyone mumbled and backed up and got a little tense. To distract the reporter — I couldn’t resist doing my part — I asked her, “Hey, is it true that al-Jazeera and al-Qaeda are synonymous?” She hit the roof, ragging on me for a good ten minutes, accusing me of not knowing what I was talking about. Finally, I snapped, “Darling, you’re right — I don’t know what I’m talking about. I don’t watch al-Jazeera. But my Iraqi friends do, and they all call your network al-Qaeda TV!”

After spitting out a nasty retort, she evidently concluded the GIs were not doing anything that might exacerbate anti-American sentiment across the Middle East, so she ordered her film crew to pack up and leave. The soldiers then burst out laughing, applauding my question, and the lieutenant commanding the detachment came up and shook my hand. “Man, I’ve been dying to tell al-Jazeera off. I wish I could have been here when you asked her that question!”

Read the whole interview. It is very good. Big thanks to Jeff Harrell at Shape of Days.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Distant Rumblings in the Iraqi Blogosphere

Over the last few weeks a few tectonic plates have started to shift in the Iraqi Blogosphere. Of late Zeyad at Healing Iraq had been at best an infrequent blogger. Then, one day, he returned.
Wednesday, December 08, 2004
I am quite fine. Thank you all for the concern.

I am finally done now with Basrah and will start working in Baghdad again. Trying to get a convenient post here in Baghdad close to where I live is what has been keeping me away. Well, that and a few other difficulties that seem to have become part of our daily life. Note that we are getting less than 6 hours of electricity per day.

I will try to start posting again very soon.

That was December 8th! Today is the 21st. What does Zeyad mean by "very soon"? Zeyad had always provided us with an intelligent and coldly-reasoned analysis of the situation in Iraq. We sure hope he returns full-time.

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Sam over at Hammorabi has been a constant in the Iraqi Blogosphere for a year now. Over the last month he has become more and more irascible (and with good reason!). And then, a couple days ago, he shut down his comments page.
We removed the Haloscan comment site because it was misused by some for long time and Haloscan only provides limited number of bans. We apologize for that but will try to find a way of controlled and registered type of comments. If you know a site please let us know.

The last week or so some sickos had been linking to some sick shit and Sam had to ban like a fiend. Visit Sam every day. And let him know if you have any advice about running comments pages.

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While Omar and Mohammed have been touring the US, Ali has been running Iraq the Model. Then something happened. No one knows what for sure. Out of the blue, Ali announced that he was going to stop blogging.
This is the last time I write in this blog and I just want to say, goodbye. It's not an easy thing to do for me, but I know I should do it. I haven't told my brothers with my decision, as they are not here yet, but it won't change anything and I just can't keep doing this anymore.

We're still waiting for an explanation.

UPDATE: Omar and Mohammed have returned to Iraq and Omar reports in. Ali's decision is still a mystery. As one commenter said, let's give Ali some SPACE. He'll respond when he's ready. No matter what, Iraqi Bloggers Central is behind him 100%.

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After adding up the few years he has lived in peace in Iraq, Firas Georges at Iraq & Iraqis asks a question that many Iraqis must face at some point: Do I stay or do I go?
My friends…… I am not intending to live that way, actually I can’t let this happen again for me and my family as my father did so for his family including me, what am I going to do?, that’s what I am thinking of for long hours of my day, and all I am coming to is to start again a new life somewhere else, somewhere peaceful, but at that time if all Iraqis thought that way what’s going to happen to Iraq?.


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Okay, that's the bad news.

The good news is that we are happy to welcome new Iraqi Bloggers like Husayn and Ibn Al Rafidain. Husayn writes:
I am still working out how to work the blogger, but I feel like Im learning more and having success. I am enjoying this new experience, its partially addictive, but I cant spend too much time on the computer, the electricity supply is a bit erratic, although it has been pretty good for the last few days.

I want to thank everyone for the support and pointers, they have been taken to heart. I also want to thank some of my cousins who are not Iraq who will assist me on certain parts of this project.

I want to first make a note that it is amazing to me that people who are not in Iraq sometimes get news before we do!! I think this is the amazing changes brought about by progress. I am thinking in particular about the horrible killing of election workers not far from where I am...I did not hear bout it until this morning, but some people e-mailed me about it when I was asleep. Is it not funny that I can travel to where this happened (which by the way was a major street which I think is filled with Baathists) easily, but many of you cannot but know what is happening.


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The Iraqi Blogosphere will survive.

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Monday, December 20, 2004

The Good, the Bad, and the Very, Very Ugly

The Jihadist terrorists and the Thugs R Us Baathists are trying to make the next six weeks in Iraq ones of such bloodshed and carnage that no one will ever forget. Make no mistake about it, they want nothing more than to blow apart into little pieces as many Iraqi men, women, and children ast they can. Over this weekend, they have killed and maimed dozens of innocent bystanders, destroying families and leaving behind so many grieving Iraqi citizens.


Sam at Hammorabi asks:
Is it again the Wahabists? Are they the Iranians or the Syrians or the Saudis or the Jordanians? Are they the Baathists? Or are they all of them?

Husayn, a new Iraqi blogger, writes:
The question is who did it. Its not one full of mystery, whether it is claimed or not, it is clear to me and most Iraqis that this was done by terrorists who are trying to sabotoge our nation. They targetted major cities of the Shia who are in major support of the upcoming election. I doubt this will deter the Shia or any Iraqi who are in favor of election though. why would it? We have lived a very long time in bad conditions, are some bombs going to deter us?

I say no. I wish these terrorists would understand that what they are doing is useless. It only makes them look badder than they already look, and I am sure they will be punished. That is the end result, the terrorists will end up dead, the bad part is that they have already killed so many people who did not deserve it.

Dilnareen offers us the view from Kurdistan. After watching an interesting program about Kurdish dancers performing in Edinburgh, Scotland, her family switched back to the check the Iraqi news:
So basically it was one hour of a really good show then it finished and we switched on to other channels and we get the news of kurds being killed in kirkuk (kurds again being treated like sub-humans in their own city), kurds not being allowed to vote in kirkuk (yeah and 70,000 as well), iraqis dying on the street and in mosques, iraqis getting beheaded and iraqis getting kidnapped. These are the times when you see how different kurdistan is from the rest of Iraq... I mean in kurdistan a music festival just wrapped up in iraq its just death,death,death ok i know kurdistan is not perfect but its heavenly compare to that. And you wonder why kurds aren't even willing to integrate... honestly if this was your country would you?

Steven Vincent, a journalist who has written about traveling through post-Saddam Iraq in In the Red Zone, asks today, riffing on the French post-9/11 headline, Nous Sommes Tous Irakiens?
Here is a country struggling to stage the first democratic elections in its 3,000 year history. Meanwhile, paramilitary death-squads are attempting to delay, de-legitimize and destroy the process, even as they prod the country toward civil war. The values millions of people profess to hold dear--democracy, peace, stability, tolerance, women's rights--are at risk. And yet the world remains largely silent.
...
As for the U.N.'s treatment of the Iraqis--let us pass over the Oil for Food program scandal and Kofi Annan's description of their liberation as "illegal. Rather, let us contemplate on the fact the organization plans to send 25 election monitors (perhaps a few more), far less than the 300 it dispatched to East Timor in 1999.

Wretchard at Belmont Club gives us a wide-angle snapshot of the upcoming Iraqi elections.
If the issues in Iraq have been muddled beforetime by the polemic over 'weapons of mass destruction' or Saddam's connection to the September 11 attacks, the Syrian and Iranian attempts to prevent the scheduled elections have at last put things in their proper perspective. The central issue in Iraq is whether an Arab people can win their freedom in despite of the worst efforts of tyrannical and terrorist regimes to prevent it.

J from Iraq Calling, a soldier in Iraq, clues us in on the commingling of thieves and terrorists within the insurgency:
The insurgents are far from a monolithic group. The craziest and most outrageous are Zarqawi's bunch of screwballs but the greatest long term threat may be the former regime elements who have the most experience with grass root intimidation and organization.
Some have argued that the insurgency must have grass root support because of ongoing violence. I reject that idea. A relatively small group of people can cause chaos and being intimidated is not the same as support. Another trend that the average Iraqi understands fundamentally is the merging of the insurgent and the criminal element. Now so much of the insurgent activities are funded by kidnapping, robbery and shakedowns that the ideal of the noble freedom fighter has gone right down the toilet. The insurgents may still be portrayed as such in some venues outside of Iraq but the fact is undeniable here that the insurgent ranks are populated with large numbers of criminals who are in it for personal enrichment.

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Bookmark Iraq Election Blog if you want daily updates and links to Iraqi election issues.

Eric at Dagger Jag gives us an up-close and personal view of Iraqis adapting to democratic institutions.

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Check out Sgt. Missick's recent photos from Iraq. Sgt. Missick's blog, by the way, is on the sidebar under Soldiers' Blogs.

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THE VERY, VERY UGLY: Alvaro Frota, a Brazilian commenter over at Iraq Blog Count, decides to tell us who does all the hostage-taking and beheading in Iraq:
The Iraqui Resistance are not terrorists and do not made such things as hostages and beheading. The hostages-taking are made by gangs of criminals. The beheading are made by CIA operatives, in order to persuade people like you that this war is fair.

Zarqawi is a CIA operative? Oh, why didn't I see that?

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Ambassador Fayrouz clips a photo of the terrorists killing the Iraqi election workers.

UPDATE: Wretchard at Belmont Club takes a look at the photograph and again places it in historical context.

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Over at A Star in Mosul commenter Monkey Man, evidently an American soldier with the Strykers, responds to Najma's claim that the students were injured by American bullets and not the terrorists' bomb:
Najma,

First of all I can tell you from my own account that none of the kids were shot by our bullets, the only death that occured was a result of the bomb...yes it narowly missed our Styker..and did hit the School bus..we then recieved small arms fire and an RPG..we returned fire..torwards the attackers..not the school.

Why would anyone place a bomb near a school unless they were trying to cause the chaos allways ascosiated with us accidently shooting civilians, I can tell you that it DID NOT HAPPEN, The irresponsibility does not fall on us..rather the insurgent Jihadi puting the bomb there in the first place...like I said before..Iraqis killing Iraqis..it has to stop..they dont always target our patrols with the intent of killing us..they expect us to react and loose your support..this only seems to happen in western mosul..particularly Yormuk, From your posts I assume you live in or near this area.
I am sorry this happened..but it was not our fault.

There are around 50 comments. Read the whole string. It cuts to the bone on many issues about the situation in Iraq. Lisa from New York, 2Slick, Pat in NC, strykeraunt, Papa Ray, Sara, and Michael Openshaw, among others, have participated in the discussion.
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Sunday, December 19, 2004

List System 101

We will try to keep everyone informed as much as possible on the upcoming January 30 elections in Iraq. First, I thought I'd offer some of the list-system basics that I've learned after doing a little research. If you have anything to add, please comment and I'll edit later. The following comes from the Center for Democracy and Voting website:
These are key facts about the vote:

WHO IS BEING ELECTED?

Voters will choose 275 members of a national assembly, whose key task will be to debate and approve a new constitution. It will also oversee a new government to succeed the interim administration appointed in June by the U.S.-led occupation authority in consultation with the United Nations. The assembly is intended to be dissolved and a new parliament elected according to the new constitution by the end of 2005.

In addition, elections are planned for local assemblies as well as to the autonomous Kurdish parliament in the north.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

All Iraqis over 18 on January 1 can vote -- perhaps some 15 million of an estimated population of 26 million. All those with a valid ration card -- relics of U.N. sanctions -- can vote and have until December 15 to amend details of their registration.

This is a single, national ballot, without constituencies so voters are expected to have a choice of polling stations, including some consulates abroad. They will cast one vote for a list of candidates put forward by a party or group of parties.

Seats will be allocated by proportional representation. So a list that wins, say, 20 percent of the vote will receive 55 seats, attributed to the top 55 names on its list of candidates.

To repeat the basic points:

1. Any Iraqi over 18 who has registered can vote.

2. Each Iraqi votes for ONE list of candidates.

3. The list of candidates may be from one political group or from a coalition of political groups.

4. The votes for the different lists will be added and then given proportional representation. More votes gets each list more candidates into the 275-person national assembly.

5. This elected national assembly will write a new constitution, just like Afghanistan had to do.

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Ambassador Fayrouz put up the latest collection of lists from groups who have formed a coalition last night.

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Let's take a look at a very large coalition of groups from the update provided by Fayrouz:
United Iraqi Coalition includes:
1. Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
2. Islamic Da'wa Party.
3. Centrist Assembly Party.
4. Badr Organization.
5. Islamic Da'wa Party / Iraq's Organization.
6. Justice and Equality Assembly.
7. Iraqi National Conference Party.
8. Islamic Virtue Party.
9. First Democratic National Party.
10. Islamic Union of Iraqi Turkmen.
11. Turkmen loyalty Movement.
12. Islamic Philee Assembly in Iraq.
13. Islamic Work Organization.
14. Future Iraq Assembly.
15. Hizbella (Party of Allah) Movement in Iraq.
16. Islamic Master of martyrs Movement.

Number of candidates: 228

If 35% of all Iraqis vote for this particular coalition, then they get 35% of the seats on the national assembly. This is clear. I do have a question, however. Who from all these different parties gets those seats in the assembly. Will SCIRI members get the most seats or are they divided equally, no matter how small or large your group is? If anyone has that answer, please comment.

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UPDATE: I just reread this paragraph:
Seats will be allocated by proportional representation. So a list that wins, say, 20 percent of the vote will receive 55 seats, attributed to the top 55 names on its list of candidates.

Okay, so the higher you are on the coalition list, the more likely you will get a seat in the assembly. Being Number 200 on a list of 238 candidates is not, I imagine, a good place to be.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here's another way to look at the January 30 elections.

Iraq has a population of around 26 million with perhaps 15 million eligible to vote.

If 15 million Iraqis vote, we get 15 million divided by 275 open seats. Therefore, for each seat won by the coalition group, they will need to get around 55,000 votes.

If 10 million Iraqis vote, we have 10 million divided by 275, which results in around 36,000 votes for each seat on the national assembly.

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I wanted to wait until tomorrow to discuss the troubling events that have occurred in the Iraqi blogosphere over the past few days, but right now I'm going to present the post I wrote for Ali over at Iraq the Model when he announced last night that he was going to stop blogging:
Ali, I understand your decision. Back in August, after following everything that happened in Iraq each and every day for two years, I finally hit a wall when Allawi allowed Muqtada al-Sadr to walk away from Najaf. I had warned my readers at Iraqi Bloggers Central that if the Fat Boy walks, I would close down the blog. Why? You know and I know how much work goes into maintaining a blog. Like you, I researched, wrote, and put up blogs every day -- along with a full-time teaching position. But after all that to let Muqty walk away to fight another day?! For me, that was a wall I could no longer climb over. I shut my blog down. I took a break. Now, months later, the semester is almost over here and I've started to blog again. I hope to run my blog daily until Jan. 30 elections.

Ali, I imagine that whatever it is you're confronting now is too much to bear. And that I understand. You too, I guess, have hit a wall you can't get over. If you need to step away, do it.

I am one of the old gang who has been with you and your brothers from the beginning. Whatever you do, you have my support, even if it means that you no longer blog.

Thanks for all the support you and your brothers have given to me and thanks for showing me the heart and mind of a great Iraqi.

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Saturday, December 18, 2004

Who Are the Insurgents in Iraq?

The insurgency comprises three basic groups.

1. Disgruntled Ba'athists. These are the people who were in positions of power with Saddam Hussein. They are predominantly Sunni, but Sunnis represent only 20% of the Iraqi population. What percentage of this 20% are disgruntled enough to kill IP and ING and Multinational Forces?

What do they want? They want to return to power. However, if this were to occur somehow, the Kurds and the Shia would die in piles. Does anyone dispute this?

In many cases former Ba'athist military officers or mukhabarat are given control over a bunch of raw recruits, some of them local thugs, some of the foreign Arabs. Ghaith Abdul-Ahad captures the essence of one of these leaders of a mujahadin cell perfectly in a report from Fallujah:
One of the local muj cell leaders, Abu Tahrir ("father of liberation"), is complaining how part of the muj corps has deserted and joined the Americans. He is in his late 30s, overweight and a bit grim; a typical former mukhabarat officer who mixes bits of the Koran with chunks of nationalist and Ba'athist ranting.

2. Foreign fighters. These are the Jihadists led by Zarqawi and joined by other Arabs who simply want to kill Americans.

What do they want? They want democracry to fail in Iraq, plain and simple. They kill Iraqis walking on the street because it's infinitely easier to do than killing American and British soldiers and it creates at the same time excellent video propaganda for Al-Jazeera. As Zarqawi made very clear in that intercepted letter, he doesn't care in the least about Iraqis themselves. He wants Iraq to descend into chaos and he will kill as many Iraqis as possible to make this happen. His group also kills Multinational Forces when they can, but this undertaking is more difficult, so they tend to focus on just killing Iraqis.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad has written several articles for the Guardian on the Muslim foreign fighters in Iraq:

"The only place I am going from here is to heaven." (November 11, 2004)
The man - tall, thin with a dark complexion, black eyes and a thin beard - arrived in Falluja six weeks ago. He spent a few days sharing a room with other fighters until they were distributed among the mujahideen units in the city. He was with a group of the Tawhid and Jihad stationed in the west of Falluja in the Jolan district where heavy fighting has been raging for the last two days.

"We are not here to liberate Iraq, we're here to fight the infidels." (November 9, 2004)
It became apparent that they were an odd bunch of people from different places and with different dreams.

There were two kinds of mujahideen bound together in a marriage of convenience. One kind, Arab fighters from the new generation of the jihad diaspora, were teachers, workers and students from across the Arab world feeling oppressed and alienated by the west; they came to Iraq with dreams of martyrdom.

The other kind, Iraqi fighters from Falluja, were fighting the army that occupied their country.

They were five Saudis - or the people of the peninsula, as they called themselves - three Tunisians and one Yemeni. The rest were Iraqis.

3. Nationalistic Iraqis. There are Iraqis like Khalid and Raed Jarrar who simply don't like the fact that the Coalition Forces, a group from "outside," as we hear ad infinitum from Raed, removed Saddam. I understand this to some extent. But why support the Ba'athists and Zarqawi? That puts the idea of "national feeling" on its head. The Ba'athists don't care about "national sentiment." They just want to RULE again, no matter what they have to do to capture power once again. And Zarqawi, as I said before, spends each and every day planning how he can kill more Iraqis.

I think this third group, the nationalistic Iraqis, is suffering from what we call "cognitive dissonance." You want to be proud of your country? Get involved in the political process and vote on January 20, I say. Supporting Ba'athists or terrorists is spitting on your country's future.

What do they want? While most Iraqis want to use this opportuntity to bring a stable democracy and prosperity to their country, this group simply wants to kill these people who removed Saddam and force them to leave their country. This group has NO plan for what would happen the day after the Mulitnational Forces left Iraq. If civil war erupted, I guess that they would be happy because there would be no "outside group" to get in the way of Iraqis killing Iraqis. Iraqis killing Iraqis would be acceptable. However, don't mention to them that their enemy Iran next door would love nothing more than an American retreat and Iraq torn apart by a civil war. Iraqis would soon have to deal with Mullahs who haven't forgotten that little 8-year war and the millions of dead Iranians by Saddam's army.

Also within this group we ought to consider Iraqis who are angered by perceived wrongs at the hands of the IP, ING, and Multinational Forces. How big this group is would be difficult to calculate, but there must be some Iraqis who simply want to exact vengeance because of a family memeber's death, even if that death occurred because an Al-Qaeda terrorist blasted their loved one apart.

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Okay, so I see these groups comprising the insurgency. Do the three groups work together? I guess to some extent they must. Is there something they all share? I don't know. I believe that if the Coalition Forces were to leave right now, most likely these three quickly take out their "long knives" and start carving up each other. You think the Kurds have forgotten what the Ba'athists in the Sunni Triangle have done to them over the years? Think again.

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Now it's YOUR turn. Do you agree? Disagree? Qualifications? Omissions?

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UPDATE: Just found this comprehensive summary of the insurgents in Iraq at Wikipedia. It's very good and backs up many of my basic divisions and observations.

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A Star from Mosul has put up her own summary of the insurgents. (HAT TIP: alan)

Interesting comments from Star's blog.

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Friday, December 17, 2004

Make That "One Thousand and TWO Nights"

Once upon a time there was a handsome, young Arab prince named Ibn Battutah. He was the King's favorite son and everyone in the kingdom admired him. Everyone smiled at him and told him that he was a fine young man. But as he moved into his young adulthood Prince Ibn Battutah became disenchanted with being just a young prince. He wanted MORE power than he had.

One morning as he and his young fellas were playing along a river they came to a bridge. Prince Ibn Battutah's boat floated under the bridge and he dove into the water and swam after it. Suddenly under the bridge he was seized by a large, ugly ogre. The ogre got his head in a headlock and told Prince Ibn Battutah that he would offer him unlimited powers if he agreed to switch names with him.

"What is your name?" inquired Prince Ibn Battutah.

"That I cannot tell you until after we close the deal," smiled the ogre.

Thinking of the power he could have and what he could do with it, Prince Ibn Battutah agreed.

The ogre took out a knife and made cuts on both of their arms and they mingled blood. As soon as the two streams of blood touched each other--

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZAAAAAP!

KKKKKKKKRONK!

POOOOOOOOOOF!!!

But the ogre had told a lie. The young prince was transformed into a TROLL and the ogre under the bridge became the handsome young prince.

The ex-Prince, now a Troll, called out: "What is MY NAME?!"

The ogre laughed and replied, "I had NO NAME and now neither do you. HA! HA!"

Over the next three years the ex-Prince, now an Ugly Troll, lived alone under the bridge and he became very sadistic, attacking anyone who came along the stream, kind of like Uday Hussein.

When he attacked people he would ask them their names and would try to use them as his own, but everyone LAUGHED at him because they could see he was just an UGLY TROLL WITH NO NAME.

The Ugly Troll wandered the countryside attacking people, but after a while he grew tired of his actions. Despondent, he walked and walked until he found himself in an Enchanted Forest.

A lisping snake approached the seated Troll. "Thay there, Ugly Troll, why tho thad?"

The troll glared at him and barked, "I got NO NAME!"

The snake smiled. "No problemo. Bring me the broom of the Wicked Witch of the Wetht."

"Wicked Witch of the West?"

"Yeth, that'th what I thaid."

The Ugly Troll's eyes opened wide. "Then I can get my name back?!"

"Ab-tho-lutely."

"Hey, but isn't that some Western story?"

"Today even myths are multinational," quipped the snake.

Over the next two days the Ugly Troll walked day and night until he reached the Wicked Witch of the West's mountain-top fortress.

"I know exactly what to do," the Troll laughed to himself. "I didn't tell that stupid snake that I had already seen the movie."

Just like he had seen in the movie Wizard of Oz, the Troll snuck into the fortress disguised as a guard. Grabbing a bucket of water, he ran up the steps and knocked on the Witch's door.

"Who is it?" came a high-pitched, snarled voice.

"Trick or Treat!" laughed the Troll.

The Witch opened the door and the Troll threw the whole bucket of water over her head.

"You IDIOT!" screamed the Witch. "That was a MOVIE!"

The Troll stood there stunned, holding the bucket in his hands.

"FLYING MONKEYS!!" the Witch called. "Take him away!"

The Flying Monkeys, who had been rubbing their hands together as they waited in the corridor, drug the Ugly Troll outside, beat the crap out of him, and then tossed him over the parapet.

Days later the Ugly Troll, one leg and both arms damaged, crawled back to his native region. Now he could no longer attack anyone. Instead, whenever he came close to a village, the children threw stones at him and called him a NAMELESS TROLL or ANONYMOUS TROLL.

Finally he could take no more and he raised his arms to the heavens in supplication and shouted:

I AM A NAMELESS TROLL!!!

ZZZZZZZZZZZAAAAAAAAAAP!

KKKKKKKKKKKROOOOOOOOONK!

POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOF!

The Ugly Troll was suddenly transformed back into the handsome, young prince.

He ran to the edge of the pond and looked at his reflection.

"MY NAME IS IBN BATTUTAH! I LOVE MY NAME! I WILL NEVER LOSE IT AGAIN!"

Prince Ibn Battutah returned to the palace, removed the imposter ogre, and took his rightful place next to the king.

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MORAL OF THE STORY. Don't be an Anony-mouse. Take a name, any name, and learn to love that name. And don't steal other people's names! One day you will end up like the UGLY TROLL WITH NO NAME. Everyone will laugh at you and throw stones at you when you approach them.

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Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Two Faces of Dr. Evil

Many bloggers and commenters have made note of the sometimes odd fissures in the personality of Jeffrey from New York. In a thoughtful piece of analysis entitled "Dr. Evil Restarts His War Machine," CMAR II recently attempted to explain why these disjunctions persist.
Once there was a boy named Jeffrey -- New York.

Jeffrey enjoyed posting to the comments sections of Iraq-related bloggers. His comments were strange, outrageous, and hostile. Reading them was like injecting your brain with epoxy until it congealed and then stretching it out at arms length. They also had the added nutritious value of being mostly dead-on true.

I tend to be anal retentive. But Jeffrey would never retain his anus. His anus ran about totally without retention. There was something in Jeffrey's posts to the Comments of blogs that was similiar to Raed's posts. There's definitely a maniacal quality to them. The difference is that Jeffrey's comments were from an obvious desire to see Iraq free and prosperous, and Raed is a backer of tyranny in Iraq, Iran, and wherever you find it.

Jeffrey loved everything about the Iraqi bloggers and even conversed with Raed and Khalid Jarrar via email.

He used to post at the old Cry Me A Riverbend blog. Then when the site shut down due to implied threats, and as I started this one in answer to that, Jeffrey started the Jarrars Up a River blog. Blogging changed Jeffery. His blog posts became increasingly more lucid and straightforward. People remarked that it was hard to imagine that it was truly the same person that had posted the bizarre cursing responses in the comments sections. After a short while he even changed the name of his blog in an attempt to make it less personally in the Jarrars' faces. After toying with a couple names, he settled on Iraqi Bloggers Central.

While I rest on this couch and wait for the doctor to arrive, why don't you read the rest of the story at CMAR II's blog? Fascinating subject, don't you think?

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NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: Check out new Iraqi Blogger Ibn Al Rafidain. After telling us two stories about a couple of Iraqis, he writes:
Two real stories of many here in Iraq. One can not persuade people by talking to them. They prefer, unconsciously, to go through every matter to have first hand experience. This leads us back to the Iraqi people awareness.

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Journalist Steven Vincent, who has written a book on his travels through Iraq called In the Red Zone, tells us why the Americans did the right thing in toppling Saddam Hussein. First, he says, we need to look at Falluja:
As we know now from embed-reporters, Marines re-taking the city discovered some 20 slaughterhouses equipped with handcuffs, shackles, bayonets and bloodstained knives—perhaps the weapons used to behead captured foreigners. U.S.officials believe the Islamofascists also tortured and murdered Fallujans in the basements of these abodes in order to terrorize residents into submission. In one house, the New York Time’s Robert Worth found an interrogation cell nestled in a stairway alcove, its walls sporting large protruding nails stained with a “dark substance.” In another, U.S. troops uncovered a metal cage, where kidnap victims may have spent their last moments. Other reports tell of black hoods, straw mats covered with blood, false walls hiding prison cells, a wheelchair used to move bound captives. G.I.s found one room containing twelve corpses stacked together; thirteen others, some without heads and limbs, littered the city.

HAT TIP: Papa Ray.

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Arthur Chrenkoff reviews Steven Vincent's In the Red Zone.

Chrenkoff excerpts this amazing passage from Vincent's book:
Haider, for example, told me of acting as a translator for a German TV crew working outside Baghdad in the summer of 2003. The crew, he recounted, filmed a village trash heap, then reported , over his protests, that the smoldering compost was once 'fertile farmland destroyed by Coalition bombs'. In September, He accompanied a French photographer as she wandered through Baghdad looking for a scene that would dramatize Iraqi suffering resulting from war. Unable to find a suitable tableau, she paid an Iraqi woman to kneel in the debris of a partially demolished building and raise her arms to heaven as if imploring Allah to strike down the American infidels. 'The photographer had me ask the woman to remove her wristwatch so she wouldn't look too wealthy,' Haider related. Mohammad recalled watching an Al-Jazeera film crew pay men loitering on Saddoun Street to throw rocks and light a car on fire. 'Within a few minutes, Al-Jazeera made their own "anti-American" demonstration,' he said.

Listen, I knew the reporting was bad, but I didn't know it was THIS bad.

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CMAR II tries to answer that perennial Iraqi Blogger question: Who is Riverbend?

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Jeff Jarvis posts his teacher-evaluation for Professor Pondscum (aka Old Juan Cole).

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Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Get Yer Tickets! Khalid vs. Jeffrey!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

In this corner, hailing from the FERTILE CRESCENT, drinking from both the storied TIGRIS and EUPHRATES rivers, land where Gilgamesh and Enkidu roamed, weighing in at 210 pounds, 35% body-fat, with pendulous belly and flabby arms, wearing reddish-orange trunks after the color of sandstorms in his home country, the often-defeated:

KHALID THE KRUSHER!

And in this corner, born and raised on the banks of the MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI, weighing a solid 190 pounds, 10% body-fat, chisled, bulked, ripped, six-pack on his stomach, shaved head, wearing black and gold trunks, the colors of his home state (Go Hawkeyes!), sporting a large tattoo across his back (Wow, folks, the entire Declaration of Indepedence!), the undefeated champion of the Blogosphere:

JEFFREY THE JACKAL!

Okay, you two, I expect a fair fight. May the best man win.

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ROUND ONE: Iraq Blog Count Comments Page

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COLE DISASTER UPDATE: Why in God's name did Juan Cole put a photograph of himself on his website? Is it just me, or does Juan Cole look like someone just asking to get his ass kicked?

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CMAR II takes Raed and Riverbend back to the woodshed.

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Cathy's World reports on Omar and Mohammed's visit to LA.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Smackdown at Martini Republic!

By far the most engaging weblog comments page last night was at Martini Republic, where the debate about the authenticity of the Fadhil Brothers heated up. All sides participated and we even had a few OLD TROLLS like Gandhi raise their leathery faces (more on Gandhi later).

Anyway, at one point Cesar G. Soriano, the author of the USA Today article that was one of the first to profile the Fadhil brothers, showed up. And, to use Lisa from New York's one-word summation: SMACKDOWN!
I'm Cesar G. Soriano, the USA TODAY reporter who wrote the feature story you're questioning.

In between fits of laughter, I've been reading comments that suggest, among other things, that Iraq the Model is written by CIA agents at Langley who planted stories about the web site into the mainstream media.

For the record:

1. I can vouch that the Fadhil brothers are real, they are Iraqis and they do live in Iraq. During four tours in Iraq, I've met the brothers several times, in person, in Baghdad. Their photographs appeared in our newspaper and website.

2. My story was not the first written about the Fadhil brothers, but it was one of the earlier ones. The story was about Iraqi bloggers in general. I interviewed different bloggers, some “pro-American” and some “anti-American.” Here's the link to the original story:

Iraqis enjoy new freedom of expression on Web journals.

3. I first heard about the web site from a work colleague who happens to be an Iraqi-American. I have never had any contact with the CIA regarding the blog story.

4. As for Riverbend, I have attempted on numerous occasions to contact the author of that blog. “Riverbend” has never responded to my queries and, as far as I know, has never given media interviews.


I thought that there were many interesting comments and observations. One commenter named Occam, for example, wrote:
I'm not a rightwinger. I voted for Kerry (for domestic reasons). I am not a troll. Nor have I been “duped” into sending Iraqthemodel a dime. But I have been reading them for quite a while now.

Perhaps, just perhaps, these guys are actually happier to be free of Saddam than they are angry at the US. I work (in Calif.) with a physician from Iraq (Baghdad U. class of 92). And he tells me there is a deep ambivalence in Iraq, that he has cousins and nephews who are ecstatic about the liberation (or, if you prefer, “liberation”) and a brother and aunt who are not. Maybe, just maybe, the brothers fall into the former category. Seems more likely to me that they are legit--rather than the elaborate efforts made here to undermine their credibility by Americans who, quite frankly, want all Iraqis to conform to their own view of things.

Commenter Joe Katzman joined everyone in laughing at Gandhi:
Some of you guys are priceless. Gandhi, by his own admission, engages in attempted sabotage of ITM to make his point, but can't understand why people might have wanted to ban him. He reminds me of the floormate at university who sat by his girlfriend's dorm room door for over a day after being dumped, holding up a big 4' bristleboard sign that said “Why?” And everyone who passed by, knowing nothing about the relationship, immediately had the answer to his question.

More later, I promise.

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UPDATE: As Mr. e-Rogers used to say: IT'S A WONDERFUL DAY IN THE BLOG NEIGHBORHOOD!

Oh, man! Juan Cole is getting his ass kicked from one side of the blogosphere to the other today. When Wretchard from Belmont Club zeroes in on you, you know you're breathing you last gulps of air! Michael J. Totten knees Cole in the groin and Roger L. Simon gives him a 3-Stooges-like BONK on the head.

Ha ha! Lovely.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis calmly removes his gloves and SLAPS Juan Cole silly. Ouch! Folks, that's gotta hurt.

STILL ANOTHER UPDATE: If you have the time, check out the comments pages for both Jarvis and Totten. Fast and furious. Lots of great commenters stopping by.

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Ambassador Fayrouz posted a very good blog entry yesterday on the upcoming Iraqi elections.

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Monday, December 13, 2004

Spiderhole Day Anniversary: "We Got Him!"

One year ago on December 13, 2003, Operation Red Dawn captured Saddam Hussein hiding in a spiderhole. We honor this day with a link-rich feast for all of the loyal readers of Iraqi Bloggers Central.

Let the games and festivities begin!
“They couldn’t get him out at first and had to dig, from either side of the hole,” said the official. The soldiers finally made a large enough passageway to drag him out. When he came out, he looked bedraggled, said the official: “He looked like a homeless man at the bus station.”

PAPA SADDAM!
“He looked like a homeless man at the bus station.”

ARAB CHAMPION!
“He looked like a homeless man at the bus station.”

BRAVE SALADIN!
“He looked like a homeless man at the bus station.”

MIGHTY TYRANT!
“He looked like a homeless man at the bus station.”

And now check out the PHOTOS.

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A little general information on Operation Red Dawn from Wikipedia. This page includes a photograph of Samir, the Iraqi who PUNCHED Saddam in the mouth when Saddam cursed him.

And now meet Samir, an Iraqi-American from St. Louis, Missouri.

In Arabic, Samir said he continued to pursuade Saddam to come out. He was about to come face to face with the tyrant who killed his loved ones.

Saddam was the reason he fled Iraq in 1991 and eventually moved to St. Louis.

Samir says, "I was like, 'I got him.'" We all reached him and pulled him out. And we say Saddam Hussein he looks really old. He looks disgusting." There was also anger, "You want to beat the crap out of him. He destroyed millions in Iraq. I'm one. I left my family 13 years ago because of him."

Saddam couldn't fight back, but he did speak out, "He called me a spy. He called me a traitor. I had to punch him in face. They had to hold me back. I got so angry I almost lost my mind. I didn't know what to do. Choke him to death. That's really not good enough."

For Samir, this was sweet justice. One of Iraq's own, now a U.S. citizen, helping arrest one of the world's most wanted fugitives, "I said 'Who are you? What's your name?' He replied, 'I'm Saddam.' 'Saddam what?' I asked. He said, 'Don't yell. I'm Saddam Hussein."


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Read Jeremy Botter's first-hand account in his pdf e-book Letters from Iraq in which he features "Operation Red Dawn: a soldier's perspective."

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Omar at Iraq the Model wrote:

Horrraaaaa
It's the justice day.
I'm speechless.
I'm crying.
The tyrants' hour has finally came. I went down to the streets to share the joy with my brothers. This is our day, the day of all the oppressed and good people on earth.
Tears of joy filled the eyes of all the people.
Saddam, the coward, hides in a hole, shaking in fear from being captured.
Not a single bullet was fired, without any resistance, God, he was even cooperative! The mighty tyrant, who exploited all our country's fortune for his personal protection, surrenders like the cowered I expected him to be.

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In stark contrast, Raed Jarrar cries: SADDAM, MEIN FUEHRER!!
Saddam was our national leader,
And yeah, I know I know…
he was a dictator,
he was stupid and self-destructive
but he was our national leader, that I didn’t enjoy any external forces to come and change.
I used to be an anti-Saddam during the time of the national Iraqi government, and I am still having huge critiques on how was he ruling the country,,,
But he was a national leader, and more a phenomena than a person.
A phenomenon that Iraq must go through to reach to a better future.

I used to have faith in the Iraqi government, and used to consider it as a base that can be enhanced in the next decades, maybe giving us one of the first national democratic governments in the Arab world. I still have this faith in the Iranian government, that has better potentialities of having internal revolutions and evolution, a government that can produce a real national democracy in the long run.

From my point of view, as a secular Muslim, I am fighting against fundamentalists and right-winged clerics, BUT I will defend them in the time they are attacked by intruders.

Raed defends Zarqawi's Head-Slicing brigade and the Baathists who kill Iraqi National Guard members. Iraqis, please remember where Raed's heart was when you count all the fathers and husbands who died at the hands of the insurgency.

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Uday's bodyguard is interviewed by the Times Online about the movements of Saddam, Uday, and Qusay during and after the war.
“Once we were in Mansour, their convoy was going by and we just drove right past them in ordinary cars. They never saw us,” he said.

For an increasingly anxious Uday, it was a moment of comic relief. “He made fun of them. When he saw a soldier with a red face, he said, ‘That’s not a soldier for war’.” Uday offered an obscene suggestion of what the soldier’s face might be better used for.

Uday, remember, he who laughs LAST, laughs BEST. Uday's flesh and bone-eating wood-chipper is silent today. May it ALWAYS be so.

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UPDATE: Dilnareen, over at Kurdistan Bloggers Union, reflects back on this day one year ago:
But then the pictures of Mr lice himself were shown on the screen, at this point i was scared we were going to be reported as a nuthouse... the outburst of screaming and jumping that came with it was intense, and it would stop for a while to hear what the ppl were saying then start all over again.

Dilnareen also offers what I think is the most sober, even-handed, and at the same time biting assessment of all the good and bad that has occurred since December 13, 2003.
The joy we had out of saddams capture was constantly being sucked out by shameless neo-baathists in the east and west about "afterall he was a president/muslim/arab he shouldn’t have been treated this way" forcing us to encounter all new forms of low among humanity

The fact that saddam was found cowering in a hole like a coward somehow transformed into more arabic hero moments. a leader who defied the americans till the end (um i must ask... how?)

The americans didn't soothe things either, the hole saddam was found in was cemented up a few months later... fueling more conspiracy theories and missing the iraqi ppl out on a goldmine of a tourist opportunity.. I myself would have paid loads to see the place.

Read the whole entry.

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Sunday, December 12, 2004

Sign of Hope?

The BBC is reporting today that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has gone to Kuwait and apologized to the Kuwaiti government and the Kuwaiti people for supporting Saddam when he invaded their country back in 1991.
Mr Abbas said he was turning over a new leaf.

"We apologise to Kuwait and the Kuwaiti people for what we did," said Mr Abbas.

I noticed just last night, however, that commenter Outlaw Michael Cosyns, over on Yosemite Sam Hammorabi's blog, sounded a note caution about Mr. Abbas, who is evidently a Holocaust denier.

Well, it's not that I have given up hope. It's just that I am of the opinion that, while remaining hopeful, it would be wise "om een stok achter de deur te houden", like they say in Flemish (to keep a stick behind the door, meaning to be prepared in case of). Just consider these examples:
. . .
* A figure like Mahmud Abbas, one of the contenders for the Palestinian Presidential elections, with his perfectly mached suit, white hair and noble and staid appearance automatically commands respect, and so, when I first learned of his existence (when Arafat appointed him PM), I was hopeful at the emergence of a credible Palestinian leader. Yet according to LGF, which I find a credible although one-sided source of information, Abbas is a Holocaust denier. In Europe, you can be jailed for being a negationist.

Om een stok achter de deur te houden. Keep a stick behind the door. I like it.

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A few days after the American presidential election Firas Georges wrote on his Iraq & Iraqis blog:
For me as an Iraqi I am happy and thankful for the results because I couldn’t afford to face new policy from another party who think that things in Iraq should be turned to UN, which we know very well in Iraq, how corrupt it is. What proves my wards the letter of UN secretary general to Prime Minister Alawy on the 6th of Nov 2004 about warning the Iraqi government not to attack Faluja…..OK, not to attack; what’s the plan then?. Answer…none in the letter.


Ms. Riverbend, the Doleful Dame of Baghdad, gnashed her teeth, had to held back from putting her Army-boot through the television screen, and was finally forced to pop a couple handy Valium.
Well, what is there to say? Disappointment doesn't even begin to describe it...

To the red states (and those who voted for Bush): You deserve no better- I couldn't wish worse on you if I tried. He represents you perfectly... and red really is your color. It's the color of the blood of thousands of Iraqis and by the time this four-year catastrophe in the White House is over, thousands of Americans, likely.

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Rachel, a Brit in London, has returned to the comments pages around the Iraqi Blogoshere, peddling once again her EVIL EMPIRE line of shabby goods. Here's just one example from Iraq at a Glance:
Yes, four more years - God help us - I hope that, despite your fascist right-wing administration, we still have a world in four years time. Have you actually read George Orwell's 1984 - 'cos everyday your country resembles that of Wilson Smith more and more.


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Victor Davis Hanson, riffing on Tolkien's tales, ponders the current malaise in European military matters and wonders if deep embers may once again come to life if provoked enough.
Tolkien always denied an allegorical motif or any allusions to the contemporary dangers of appeasement or the leveling effects of modernism. And scholars bicker over whether he was lamenting the end of the old England, old Europe, or the old West — in the face of the American democratic colossus, the Soviet Union's tentacles, or the un-chivalrous age of the bomb. But the notion of decline, past glory, and 11th-hour reawakening are nevertheless everywhere in the English philologist's Lord of the Rings. Was he on to something?

More specifically, does the Ents analogy work for present-day Europe? Before you laugh at the silly comparison, remember that the Western military tradition is European. Today the continent is unarmed and weak, but deep within its collective mind and spirit still reside the ability to field technologically sophisticated and highly disciplined forces — if it were ever to really feel threatened. One murder began to arouse the Dutch; what would 3,000 dead and a toppled Eiffel Tower do to the French? Or how would the Italians take to a plane stuck into the dome of St. Peter? We are nursed now on the spectacle of Iranian mullahs, with their bought weapons and foreign-produced oil wealth, humiliating a convoy of European delegates begging and cajoling them not to make bombs — or at least to point what bombs they make at Israel and not at Berlin or Paris. But it was not always the case, and may not always be.

Towards the end of his article, VDH hands the Europeans their MENU for the future:
But gut-check time is coming for Europe, with its own rising unassimilated immigrant populations, rogue mosques entirely bent on destroying the West, declining birth rate and rising entitlements, the Turkish question, and a foreign policy whose appeasement of Arab regimes won it only a brief lull and plenty of humiliation. The radical Muslim world of the madrassas hates the United States because it is liberal and powerful; but it utterly despises Europe because it is even more liberal and far weaker, earning the continent not fear, but contempt.

Ouch! Europeans, that's GOTTA hurt!
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