Sunday, July 29, 2007

Congratuations Iraq

Asterism has a decent round-up of Iraqi bloggers on the match.
Truth About Iraqis goes looking for disunity among the Iraqi football team and finds it.

But other Iraqis who felt the desire to post on Iraq's win either saw it as an opportunity to unite the country, or were doubtful that it would, or said "To hell with it. A win is a win!"

Iraqi Unity
Neurotic Iraqi Wife
The GREAT LIONS OF BABYLON WON!!! You should have been there. YOu should have seen the happiness on everyones faces. You should have seen the tears on everyones cheeks. This surely is one of the greatest days and times for Iraq. For the Great Iraq. I will write more when I get to my room. As for now, Im gonna live these moments of jubilation... THE GREAT LIONS OF BABYLON WON!!!
Congratulations for the Lions of the Mesopotamia in their victory against Saudi Arabia one zero! Let the victims of the terrorists and wars celebrate tonight! The football team will unite the Iraqis irrespective of their differences.Millions of Congratulations for all the Iraqis
Sunshine (good pics)

Talisman's Gate (on the Iraq's defeat of the South Korean team)

Nabil (good pics, and wonderful sentiment, but he seems to be actually only for unity among Iraqis who weren't elected by Iraqis)
No Pain No Gain
Victory under one name and flag is not worthy if this is how is treated in a divided country.
To hell with it
Iraq the Model
Our players, tonight our heroes, learned that only with team work they had a chance to win. May our politicians learn from the players and from the fans who are painting a glorious image of unity and national pride, and let the terrorists know that nothing can kill the spirit of the sons of the immortal Tigris and Euphrates. The fear is gone, the curfew is ignored, tonight Iraq knows only joy...
24 Steps To Liberty
Now, I’m not a soccer fan at all, but the news cheered me up and made my day. Not because we won a cup, but because I know how happy that made many Iraqis. I know my brothers are very very happy now. I know my mother is laughing and my aunts and cousins are laughing and talking about things that are not car bombs and assassinations for a few hours.

Last of Iraqis

Congratulations to the Lions of Mesopotamia for winning the Asian Cup. You did not let us down. You brought a smile and joy to our hearts, and took the pain out of our chests even if it was for one day.
Iraqi Mojo

Now a truly unique perspective was offered by Layla Anwar of Arab Woman Blues. She sees the victory of the Iraqi soccer team as a metaphor for ultimate success of the dwindling Sunni Arab insurgency. She also reports a totally bogus rumor that an American soldier cut off the head of the famous Lion of Baghdad statue (in ancient city of Babylon, although she places it in Hillah). More likely she is revealing a total lack of knowledge about the statue. I understood that the is a story that the head of the statue was cut off by an invader who thought there was gold inside. But the head doesn't look cut off to me. I only see 2,600 years of erosion.

The Lion of Babylon statue in BASRAH however was demolished by unknown terrorists. It is not yet known if they were al Qaeda, Mehdi, or someone else.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Close Encounters

Updated 7/27/07

I have several friends who are cops. I work with cops sometimes. Still, I don't really like being pulled over by them. "Oh, whadaya know? My windshield is cracked..." "Hey, lookee there! My tags are expired!" And so on.

One time, about a decade ago, my friends and I were making our yearly pilgrimage from Phoenix, AZ to Anaheim, CA for the first supercross of the season. We were passing through Blythe, CA (which I pronounce "Blight") and my friend who was driving missed both of the exits that offered food & gas. We pointed this out to him. The next exit was about a mile up the road, at which time he could double back.

However, he began to slow and move to the
left. He was obviously going to make a U-turn through the median. All three of the passengers pointed out that this was illegal, and to reinforce the point there were "No U-turn" signs at every break in the median. He counter-protested and was not willing to invest another two minutes in being off-course, so he made the U-turn. Right in front of a California Highway Patrol, of course.

So they pull us over. As we stop, and just as they were getting out of their vehicle, my friend exits the car in a rush and scoots back to the trunk, where he hurries to get something out. "I packed my sunglasses" or something like that, he would say later. But how did it look to the CHiPs? How did they react? Completely predictably- guns drawn, they aggressively made contact with him and determined they were only witnessing an act of incredible stupidity, and not one of aggression. However, any chances to talk them out of the ticket evaporated. He was lucky to get off with only one, actually.

This little episode has nestled itself in my memory as possibly the dumbest thing I've ever personally witnessed. Top ten, for sure. And none of the other three friends in that car will ever let the fourth forget it.

So, with the 'surge' well under way, I've noticed that several Iraqi bloggers have had encounters with American troops lately. We all know that sometimes American searches can be pretty disruptive, rude, and humiliating. That's certainly what the third-party impression is. In fact,
The Nation magazine recently published an article (The Other War: Iraq Vets Bear Witness, July 30, 2007 Issue) where it found fifty vets willing to talk about their actions, which The Nation helpfully frames as crimes & atrocities for us. Many of these describe searches of Iraqi homes.

How have the Iraqis described their encounters?

Omar at Iraq the Model was first. He was visited around midnight on a Friday evening, March 30, 2007. He happened to have several friends over for a visit. The soldiers were friendly and courteous, and they questioned him about the gathering and so on. He concluded his post with this:
The Americans and Iraqis shook hands and exchanged take care's and stay safe's.
They went on to continue their patrol, and we went back to our fish.
Some of us will definitely have a joke or a short story to tell from this night, I thought.

I realize that for some other Iraqis having their homes searched wasn't as smooth or as pleasant an experience as ours but this is my story and I thought I'd share it.
And he got a picture with the Americans:

Zeyad's brother Nabil was next. He posted in his comments on June 29, 2007 that he had been woken up by an American search of his home. They questioned him about weapons and appear to have been in & out pretty quickly. Nabil had this to say:
they were very polite when dealing with me, my father and my mum but they were very aggressive when they dealt with my neighbours across the street, they called them bad names and trashed their house.
The next day, Zeyad gave a little more information. He described the encounter as "civil and well-mannered", until the end, where he said:
My mother said two soldiers suddenly turned and pointed their weapons at my mother and father for no particular reason. They stayed in that position until their fellow team members finished the search and they left.
Nabil had another encounter with American troops on his way to the airport to escape to Jordan:
I had to get out of my house at 6:30 am, but there was an American patrol blocking the street, I thought thats it I wouldn't be able to reach the air port at the right time, then my mum went there slowly and talked to them and convinced them to clear the road for us becuase we have a plane to catch.
Zeyad's brother-in-law Mohammed at Last-of-Iraqis was next. He described a search by Americans on July 23, 2007. He describes a routine search and a realtively amicable talk with them, as well as a followup conversation with his neighbor who said they are the root of the trouble in Iraq. He concludes with this:
I have nothing certain , but what I found out that those guys were very nice and polite , I wish that all the US army is like them but it's impossible to have such a large number as the American Army and all of them are good guys.
Those are the most recent examples of Iraqi encounters with Americans that I could find. Does anybody have any more first-person examples from the recent or distant past to share?


From the comments, Craig notes that Sunshine in Mosul was searched twice in 2005, and almost a third time.

First, the 'near miss' from July 24, 2005:
After I was ready, I saw a panzer in front of our house ,I thought this is our turn, but I was wrong , they decided to stop checking the houses& that wasn’t the first time that they check part of the neighborhood.
Then, less than a month later (August 22nd, 2005) they did enter her house. Two of the soldiers were nice to her, but a third was rude and left a lasting impression on her:
My mother was a little bit uncomfortable in the beginning , but the soldiers were nice with us, except one ,he was rude, he crushed the TV remote control , squeezed a tube of gel on the ground & on the bed cover & sheets.
He also powdered two bottles of Baby powder on my mother clothes in side her closet & on the bed cover, that was unseemly deportment.
Every time I hear people saying that the soldiers broke this & did that , I would say: come on they are targets all the time , they expect attacks in every minute , certainly they will be nervous.
But if they see a co-operative family they will be nice!!!!.
Give me a reason i am confused...
The third time was a charm- literally. Her post of December 1, 2005 described a polite & even friendly search:
Anyway , they were very polite & nice with us ,& of course I showed off & talked about my blog , I also told them that I copied my blog if they want to take a look . You won't believe what happened , every one from the three soldiers read some posts from my blog during their stay in my house , but that was very funny , they took off there weapons , sun glasses & balaclavas , sat & started reading, with suckers in everyone mouth showing a bulbous cheeks , they read the post "an adventure" , they talked with me about some posts …
Well it took three tries to get it right, but it sounds like that wasn't so bad!

In comments to the middle post, the one with the rude soldier, someone made a reference to Sunshine's mom's blog, so I went over there to see what she wrote about it. Her August 22nd, 2005 post titled "Stop the Hate" covers the incident and her reaction. She wrote a letter to a hotline she was given, where she says this in part:
I want to stop the hate that is increasing even among the most peaceful Iraqis ,due to such irresponsible behavior, such soldiers affect the reputation of the American military forces ,whom already have enough scandals.
She's right about that, unfortunately. I don't know if any actions were taken on this particular situation, but at least by Sunshine's third visit things seemed much improved.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Operation Arrowhead Ripper: Two Points of View [updated]

drawing by Michael Ramirez

The Iraqis haven't had too much to say about the operation in Baquba, called Operation Arrowhead Ripper, this is a post on a couple of American bloggers: Juan Cole and Michael Yon. I offer it in hope that some Iraqi bloggers will provide their perspectiv

Juan Cole 11 days on OAR:

His alarm has been illustrated by the difficulties the U.S. and Iraqi militaries faced in the recent offensive operation dubbed "Operation Arrowhead Ripper," aimed at subduing Baquba (pop. 300,000), the restive capital of Diyala province, located 31 miles northeast of Baghdad. American generals admitted that 80 percent of the guerrilla leadership there had slipped away, and that the Iraqi army lacked the equipment and training to hold areas taken in difficult hand-to-hand fighting. The U.S. military compounded its public-relations problem by implausibly branding virtually everyone it fought or killed in the Sunni-majority city as "al-Qaida."

Michael Yon 4 days ago on OAR:

Like many things in Iraq, the question of whether or not the murderers were al Qaeda is flawed from beginning. Al Qaeda is not a union, it doesn’t issue passports. What is al Qaeda but the collection of people who claim to be al Qaeda? Those responsible for murdering and burying those bodies in al Ahamir (or al Hamira) had the markers of al Qaeda, the same al Qaeda that had boastfully installed itself as the shadow government of Baqubah. The al Qaeda who committed atrocities in Afghanistan, New York . . . the list is long. As for al Ahamir, the massacre “walks like a duck.” It happened in duck headquarters. The people here say the duck did it. The duck laughs.

Earlier in this post, he wrote:

No one can claim with certainty that it was al Qaeda, but the Iraqis here seem convinced of it. At a meeting today in Baqubah one Iraqi official I spoke with framed the al Qaeda infiltration and influence in the province...His opinion, shared by others present, is that al Qaeda came to Baqubah and united many of the otherwise independent criminal gangs.

Speaking through an American interpreter, Lieutenant David Wallach who is a native Arabic speaker, the Iraqi official related how al Qaeda united these gangs who then became absorbed into “al Qaeda.” They recruited boys born during the years 1991, 92 and 93 who were each given weapons, including pistols, a bicycle and a phone (with phone cards paid) and a salary of $100 per month, all courtesy of al Qaeda. These boys were used for kidnapping, torturing and murdering people.

At first, he said, they would only target Shia, but over time the new al Qaeda directed attacks against Sunni, and then anyone who thought differently. The official reported that on a couple of occasions in Baqubah, al Qaeda invited to lunch families they wanted to convert to their way of thinking. In each instance, the family had a boy, he said, who was about 11 years old. As LT David Wallach interpreted the man’s words, I saw Wallach go blank and silent. He stopped interpreting for a moment. I asked Wallach, “What did he say?” Wallach said that at these luncheons, the families were sat down to eat. And then their boy was brought in with his mouth stuffed. The boy had been baked. Al Qaeda served the boy to his family.

So which of these experts sounds more credible?


Sam Dagher of the Christian Science Monitor reports on the gray fog that the U.S. and the Iraqis face in Diyala against al Qaeda with:
  • AQ infiltrators in the Iraqi Army
  • Iraqi leaders protecting Sunni milita members still allied to AQ
  • Al Qaeda and the Shi'a Mehti Army continuing to justify each other's existance

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