Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Wit And Wisdom Of Omar Feikaki

America's favorite Iraqi journalist and media hound, Omar Feikaki had some interesting things to say about Iraq, the United States, and Iran in Charles H. Ferguson's book, No End In Sight: Iraq's Descent Into Chaos, one of the more comprehensive tomes chronicling the dysfunctional milieu that Iraq occupies.

Whether you agree or disagree with what Omar says, he brings forth an interesting perspective on events in Iraq, although it's clear like the vast majority of Iraqi bloggers, Feikaki, who served as office manager of the Baghdad bureau of the Washington Post, wasn't exactly an anti-Baathist dissident.

So, without further delay, take it away, Omar (round of applause)

I didn't want to be a journalist directed by the government

Under Saddam Hussein the, uh, government planned for my future. I wasn't able to leave the country to start my career in anything. I wasn't able to start journalism here, because the journalism under Saddam wasn't what I wanted to do. I didn't want to be a journalist directed by the government, and just a mouthpiece for the government, so I didn't have a future. I was just waiting for the war to happen, because it was the only ray of hope I, uh, I had to look for.

Iraqis aren't educated enough to rule themselves

The majority of Iraqis are not educated enough to rule themselves, for decades. And I'm not talking about Saddam Hussein only. Even before that. Since the state of Iraq, we only had dictatorships. Therefore, generations of Iraqis... are taught how to follow the rules. They weren't taught how to rule themselves... Before 2003, we always had governments to tell us what we do. We don't have this mind-set... of planning for ourselves, of respecting the law.

Looters, we have a history of people uncontrolled

What did they expect? A country this ethnically diverse , religious differences, without a government, without a law to impose [...] And it's not the first time it happens in Iraq. It happened in the forties and fifties. We have a history of people uncontrolled [...] What we saw after the invasion was everyone goes to the street and does whatever he or she wants.

Democracy means imposing a dictatorship on yourself

Democracy means everyone should impose dictatorship on himself and his family to be democratic to others. I have to be dictator on myself, not to break the law, so that my neighbor could... enjoy this law, and could enjoy this atmosphere.

Eight months of martial law, that could have taken care of everything in Iraq

Eight months of martial law--that could have taken care of everything... How can you disband an army and police, and let the imprisoned Iraqis--who were imprisoned and suffering for forty years--let them loose? Martial law, I thought. And that's what we talked about when we were waiting for the Americans to come into Baghdad. We thought there would be martial law. We were prepared to accept the martial law in Iraq.

The Americans didn't know where they were going into

They [the Americans] did not know where they were going into. They just didn't know. They had no idea what Iraq looks like as a community and as a culture. Martial law in Iraq for eight months; anyone who commits a crime will be executed, according to the Iraqi constitution. I'm not being a dictator; that's my constitution.

Dissolving the Iraqi Army was a huge mistake

The Iraqi Army was the only tool for the Coalition forces to rule the country... to control the country... The Iraqi Army [would have been] linked and connected to that government, and the government could have ordered the army to do whatever they wanted.

Why former Iraqi army members joined the resistance

Hundreds of thousands of families [were] dependent on the army. They didn't have an income; they didn't have a source to go get money... Children, women, wives, sisters, fathers, stopped eating because they didn't have enough money. And that's why i think, I believe, that's why many of the former Iraqi army members joined the resistance. They didn't have another source for money. How could they provide [for] their families?

I don't blame the Iraqi soldiers who joined the resistance and planted IEDs

Anyone could come and give a former Iraqi soldier a thousand dollars, just to go and plant an IED. I don't blame them, surprisingly. I don't. Because I have a family to provide [for]. It's nonsense to consider them criminals. No one offered them another job... For two years, they didn't have any other source to get bread to eat and survive. no one offered them even any kind of pension. They offered them maybe eighty dollars pension, or something like that, which is... maybe enough bread for a week. That's just nonsense.

Forgive Us by Art-Visionary.

I predicted the Surge is not going to work

What happened is what they call "the surge," which, before it started, I predicted it's not going to work. They'll just take over some neighborhoods and then the insurgents will kind of hide, so that they'll declare that it's quiet and safer, which is what happened, and we all know it's not true. I get my information from inside Baghdad, unlike other White House statements or unlike other newspapers or TV stations, who are doing propaganda for the surge. i think what happened is a hundred percent worse than it was before. It's not going anywhere towards improvement.

The American policy towards Iran is arrogant

The American policy towards Iran is, again, arrogant and based on emotions. This is the problem. If you are dealing with a country, go talk to the people in the country. Don't talk to exiles only, because the exiles are not living in the country. You're talking with what they call the "Iranian experts" who left Iran forty years ago, when Khomeini was in charge... And those experts don't know what Iran looks like now, and that's why they can't figure out how to deal with Iran.

America killed 500,000 Iraqi children because of sanctions and they are doing the same thing to Iran now

America made a mistake in Iraq. They killed five hundred thousand Iraqi children, and they are doing the same thing to Iran now. They're making the Iranians suffer. They're losing the few friends they have in Iran now, because that's what they did in Iraq--they lost their friends because of sanctions. No one is going to say the UN imposed sanctions on Iranians. They'll all say America imposed sanctions on Iranians, and that's the truth.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The In T View: Iraqi Translator, An Interpreter At War

In this In T View, we meet the Iraqi Translator, a twenty-something Iraqi male studying computer science, but more widely known for his role as an Interpreter serving with the Coalition forces and Iraqi Army, and blogging about it at Iraqi Translator's Life.

The Iraqi Translator was against the US invasion of Iraq, but believes the Americans should remain in Iraq until the job is finished, and while, he's angry over the events of Abu Gharib, Haditha, and Ramadi, he doesn't blame the American people...

MG: Hello Iraqi Translator, welcome to the In T View. What's your favorite flavor of Ice Cream?

Iraqi Translator: Hey Mister Ghost(lol), how do you know I like ice cream!!! To put this question in the beginning, you surprised me. Honestly, I Fall in love with strawberry ice cream.

MG: Tell me something about you, that you are really good at?

Iraqi Translator: I'm really good about anything related with Internet and computers.

Why did you become a translator with the Coalition and Iraqi forces?

Iraqi Translator: I have faced a lot of obstacles during my studying, I remembered one day I hadn't pocket money to go college, in addition, when I went to and met my friend over (there), I saw them jobless and everyone looking for any way to get immigration or asylum to any country. When I (came) back from Syria, I was trying to find any job that help me continuing my study, but I failed.

At the same time, I've seen my relatives and my friends working in companies even when they have less qualification than me, and the reason was public relationships. One day, during (I) went home from my college, someone gave me a newspaper called "Baghdad Now" and I saw (an) advertisement about this work. At that time I had decided to join (the) more than 10,000 members and work with them as a translator.

MG: What has been the most dangerous part of your job so far?

Iraqi Translator: In my case, if someone recognize me, that will be the most dangerous part, actually that means the game is over. I don't care about IED's (Improvised Explosive Devices) and EFB (magic IED made in Iran) or VBIED(Vehicle Bomb Improvised Explosive Devices) or clashes here and there, as (I) care about someone see me.

MG: And how close have you come to death?

Iraqi Translator: I think I'm (I mean the interpreter) the closest one to the death, even more close than American soldier, he has weapon and I'm not, he is close to the death, just when he goes (on) mission, but I'm close to the death, even when I go home.

MG: You've indicated at your blog, Iraqi Translator's Life, that the Americans don't trust you, "Spies in American view," you say. Can you give us some examples of how this lack of trust makes itself known?

Iraqi Translator: After the famous explosion that happened in Mosul by a translator, the Americans changed the treating way with translators. The new rules set: No cell phone, No PX/Bx sometimes, and escort required in the most of bases. The funny thing, when he asked you to take off your shoes!!!! in some bases, and all these rules don't happen with the Indian or Fiji persons. But sometimes I give them the excuses to do that, if Iraqis have no dignity inside his country and with his government, how can Americans respect him and treat him with respect.

MG: And you mention that your fellow Iraqis, see you as a "traitor." Can you highlight some of their reactions to you?

Iraqi Translator: Let me (be) honest with you and tell you the biggest reaction against us: What do you say when you see this sentence written by paints (graffiti) on the walls of neighborhoods: "Killing to agents...Killing to traitors" That the clearest thing you can see it directly by your eyes.

MG: What was your life like before the war? A happy life, a sad life, a life lacking in freedom and opportunities?

Iraqi Translator: A life lacking in freedom and opportunities.

You lived through 13 difficult years of UN sanctions against Iraq. Did you find that during this time frame, Iraqi culture changed?

Iraqi Translator: Certainly, the Iraqi culture changed during that time, but Saddam has not allowed any one to show up that changing, but that happened after 2003, and all people around the world has seen that changing by robbing and destroying and burning and killing operations.

For instance, in the book, Voices Of Resistance: Muslim Women On War, Faith & Sexuality, Ms. Nermin Al-Mufti says this about the period of Iraqi sanctions: ...the most important thing we have lost is our value scale. Our values are now upside down. During the sanctions many people got involved with smuggling and other illegal and immoral activities in order to make money, and through such activities have accumulated some measure of wealth. Such illegal activities are so commonplace now that they are affecting the dominant moral values of our society. Did the sanctions drive the Iraqis into becoming a less moral and ethical people?

Iraqi Translator: I agree with her. The accumulations between 1991 and 2003 are enough to drive the Iraqis into becoming a less moral and ethical people.

MG: Did the US have the right to invade and occupy Iraq?

Iraqi Translator: Nobody has the right to displace a family from their house whatever the justifications, take that example as an answer among countries. Of course, U.S. had no right to do that.

MG: In your opinion, after the events of the last five years, was the war justified?

Iraqi Translator: Hell no.

MG: In the last sixty years or so, your fellow Iraqis have basically run out (chased away) the Jews, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Armenians, Greeks, Sabaeans/Mandaeans, etc... Are the Iraqis an intolerant people?

Iraqi Translator: After 2003, Yes , they are.

MG: We're frequently told by the Iraqi bloggers that Iraqis are a secular group of people, but the last election seemed to showcase an Iraq, where the Shia voted for Shia candidates, the Sunni for Sunnis, and the Kurds for the Kurdish parties. So, are the Iraqis really truly a secular people?

Iraqi Translator: Yes, they were a secular people but nowadays, I don't think so, especially the Iraqi people inside Iraq.

Among all the Politicians and alleged Leaders in Iraq, who is the biggest thief and liar, and why?

Iraqi Translator: Strange question!!! , I think all of them are angels!!!!!!!!!!! (lol)

MG: Let's talk about the Green Zone, a place you seem to have some familiarity with. There have been rumors of a legendary brothel or brothels in the Green Zone? Have you heard anything about this and are the rumors true?

Iraqi Translator: Actually, there are no rumors at all !!! because that is the truth, a lot of brothels in the GZ, from all nationalities, just let me know sir: what is your favorite flavour of .........? and I'll try hard to get your order, even if your request (is) outside Green Zone!!!(they said that, not me).

MG: So, what does the future hold for you? Will you stay in Iraq or will you seek a Visa to come to the United States as suggested by Neurotic Iraqi Wife?

Iraqi Translator: It's not easy to go to States, I need one of these things to go to states as Department Of State said (1000000$, American spouse, (Neorotica help) General signature (lol)). I think as Neorotica said in her blog, we need a lot of persons like Col. M, and unfortunately you cannot find easily person like Col. M.

Of course, if there is a chance to go to states, I'll never lose it but when I've been starting this work, I put 2 plans to end this story except the VISA issue, when any of these plans happen, I'll retire!!! from this job and I'll publish my civilian blog without any worry from emails get to my inbox and trying to fall me in the trap.

Finally I'd like to say: thanks to you and to my Godmother Neorotica for her help and support.

We thank the Iraqi Translator for a nice In T View.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

100 Iraqi Blogs In 100 Minutes Or Something Like That

Shock Treatment by Karl Eschenbach

Mohammed Fadhil of The Barbecue Brothers, LOL, says change must come from without as regards the Middle East and Arabic society. Sounds like a cop out to me. Sure, let America do the regime changing, while the Arab intelligensia runs off to graduate school in the U.S., when things become difficult. Well, I'm sorry, but if you want your culture and society changed, you have to be willing to stay within it, shed your blood, and fight for the changes you believe in. Change from without in Iraq led to a more sectarian, less secular society.

Zeyad has banned Iraqi blog groupie, Lynnette from Minnesota, where they all think Garrison Keillor is a real hoot. Poor Lynnette, she was Mugged By Reality. LOL. Zeyad has asked people to donate money in memory of Lynnette. Ha haaaah.

Blog Iraqi
has a new post from Heaven. He asks, "Don't tell my wife, but where the hell are my 72 virgins?"

I'm bitter because I still can't visit my soul's land. I'm bitter because I can no longer visit my home because there are strangers living in my house, going through my family photo albums and "acquiring" the only connection I still have to my homeland.
I'm bitter because there is nothing I can do to help my family that is still struggling in Baghdad because none of our Arab Neighbors accept their presence anymore.
I'm bitter because our Arab Neighbors make it so damn apparent that those who did make it into their promise land have clearly overstayed their welcome.
I'm bitter because I still can't taste, smell, and live within my soul's land.
I'm bitter because there is nothing left in my soul's land.
Nothing.... no humanity, no pride, no cause, no respect, no innocence, no beauty, and no heartbeat.

Ishtarria is simply the greatest storyteller in the Iraqi blogosphere. This blog dwarfs all others in the literary department.

The Happy Bushra
is back in business with his own website: Happy Thoughts... Sad Thoughts, or vice versa, I lose track. But, he's mourning Tim Russert.

Wafaa Al-Natheema, an Iraqi academic in the U.S. is very angry that Iraqi children have been treated in Israel, the U.S., and other countries involved in the Iraq conflict, and says so in her controversial post, Iraqi Children in Algeria and Israel:

Iraqis should only be treated in Arab and Islamic countries as well as in countries that have had no military presence in IRAQ such as China, Cuba, India and Russia. All have excellent medical services. Countries that have been participating in the destruction of IRAQ and the killing of Iraqis; the USA-UK-Iran-Israel collaborative or those provided military forces to participate in the killing of Iraqis and the robbery of the country’s treasures (such as Holland, Japan, Korea and many others) must be banned from offering any health treatment to Iraqis, thanks for the patronage and double standards. Israel has had its long history of terrorism and human rights violation not just against Palestinians, but also against their own Jewish community mainly those who came to Israel from Arab and African countries.

I hope during her long stay in the U.S., she hasn't partaken of medical care from those evil American oppressors' doctors, clinics, or hospitals. LOL, I think she likely has seen an American doctor or hospital or two. It's Ali al-Wardi time folks, LOL. And this from an Iraqi academic. I'm prescribing a big dose of APU Vaccine. She needs one.

Saddam's Family, the heavy metal band from Iraq, tells you how they got started:

1: The beginning:
It was in the year of 1991, and dark clouds were hanging over Iraq. Saddam´s invasion of Kuwait had made the whole region stand on its toes. "The Scud", Baghdad-Bjork, Chemical Kim & Taha - Johan Ramadan, friends since early childhood, decided to flee the soon to become war-zone. Different routes led them through Europe, and finally they found their sanctuary in a little county called Sibbo in Finland. At the moment they couldn´t dream of playing in the same band. Although they all attended a music academy program in Baghdad, the war and the escape forced them to leave their precious hobby. And it was not until the autumn of 1997 that the music once again brought the old friends togheter.

You can listen to and download their songs. Worth a shot.

Riverbend is still silent. Some would applaud. Maybe, she's working in Syria as a car hop girl at a diner in Damascus. There, Riverbend is rolling around on roller skates, in a short skirt, snapping her bubble gum, and asking customers, "What would you like to order, Habibi?"

Sunshine had a wisdom tooth extracted and offers photographic proof. For a wisdom tooth, Sunshine should have received at least 12,000 Dinars from the Iraqi Tooth Fairy, if he hadn't been kidnapped and tortured by militias.

Fayrouz Does Dallas once again. Film at 11.

Sam the Interpretor has chick problems, and seems about ready to marry his hearthrob Amy. Two weeks after Sam is hitched and the lovemaking wears off, he'll be screaming out in fright, "I'm trapped for life, I'm trapped for life." Just wait until Amy gets pregnant and Sam gets no loving for 14 straight months...

The infamous and erudite Layla Anwar, who makes people upset, if you don't call her a bigot, describes the Colors of an Occupation:

I simply can't come to terms with a very simple fact--this Occupation (Zionist American and racist Iranian - and I will never cease repeating it) has managed to turn a modern country, a modern state, a functioning entity, a sovereign nation into a rubble of sectarianism, corruption, theft and murder...

Al Tarrar, angry at the Americans, says:

Thugs peer into each others’ deeds

The American junta in Iraq have finally brought it out to the open and officially confirmed that Al Qaeda are innocent!! of the latest bombing in Baghdad that claimed many lives, and simultaneously established a strong link of that crime to a few thugs from Jaish Al Mahdi. Needless to mention how thrilling this piece of news has been for both Al Badar army (death militias) and Fedayeen Petraeus (Baathists and Al Qaeda) to witness how the invaders cherry-picked an accomplice.

Muqtada al-Sadr is battling it out against Hassan Nasrallah over at Ladybird's.

HNK is rising and falling to a nice poem of hers. The most angst-ridden Iraqi blogger is a poet and we didn't know it. And she would like your prayers...

Little Snippet
came back, but is gone again, perhaps they will return anew in 2009.

Ihath has a weird family including a grandmother from Czechoslovakia with huge breasts and little fishes that swim inside her bathing suit.

By the time you read this, Shaggy will be done with college:

Just two more days and I'll be done with college. It's going to be wonderful, still haven't stocked up on booze though. Lots of people boozing in the street these days by the way. Driving on the Jadriya bridge these past few evenings you can see cars parked on the side with guys boozing up. And while dropping off Muni today, there were a bunch of guys boozing up not too discretely ahead of a checkpoint.

Hammorabi, the voice of the Shia Hoi Polloi says in his famous yellow box:

Any one sign a treaty with the occupiers before the end of occupation is a traitor. No for permanent US bases in Iraq. End the US barbaric occupation first.

At a Family in Baghdad, Faiza Jarrar makes us laugh:

Most of America's budget is directed to war, (more than 50% of their budget is for military purposes); so, it is a country that spreads destruction and ruin among people on earth, and doesn't spread justice, freedom, or democracy, as they claim….. Unfortunately, these are actual facts, and I do not invent them myself… She's first in line to be Barak Obama's Director of the Pentagon.

Liminal rhymes with Criminal endorses Obama Hussein Barak for President, "Golly, gee willikers, I think he's a bona-fide Chi-town Hawaiian Kenyan Kansan Compound Identity freakazoid like me."

World traveler Faiza Al-Arji (Jarrar) has photos of her Global Journeys at Pictures in Baghdad. Hmm, I wonder who paid for all those earthly adventures?

Najma didn't know who Iraqi vice president Tariq al-Hashimi was until he showed up at her university and then she did the silent lucidity thing at the Q and A session they had for him.

Mama has given up driving in Iraq:

Imagine a crowded street with no traffic lights ,without (or almost without) traffic police, even when there is a policeman he has no power though no control on the drivers. Imagine that the roads can be closed suddenly, others are crowded ,with wrong side coming and going cars .Sometimes Hamars or tanks with continuous horns’ sounds. craziness all the time , fear of accidents , explosions ,shooting, and car bombs .

Michomeme is doing some Cosmic Ordering as she recovers from some sort of medical procedure. We wish her luck.

The Lovely Attawie is returning to Jordan, even though, she was upset by the poor treatment she received during her last visit to Amman, aka Club Med for the Baathists.

Zmanutdz, the One Red Devil, like many Iraqis, loves his Football.

Gilgamish in the U.A.E. says Radicalism is a must.

An Oldy but Goody from Children's Voice from Iraq, Being Girl Child.

Iraqi Geek is all about technology and gadgets.

Eye Raki, who should check out Ladybird's blog, provides coverage of the Iraqi government's operations against the Sadrists.

The Exiled Shalash hasn't posted since 2006, but her exile ended as she traveled to Baghdad for a couple of visits, the last one not so memorable :

Baghdad has changed since the last time I was there, everywhere you go, you can see that this city is at war with itself, demolished buildings, dirty streets, pick-up trucks with machine guns on top of them, rumors, conspiracy theories and generally news about murder, rape etc... What's most extraordinary though is that very seldom can one find a smiling man or woman. Everywhere you go, there are sad people who have no idea where their lives are going.

Semiramis didn't like The Mesoptamian.

Although her time in America appears to have been a disappointment to her, My Letters To America expresses her thoughts eloquently.

A&E Iraqi's sister is going to be married, and A&E would like your suggestions on what wedding dress he should buy her? Why can't she buy her own? I know, I know, cultural -- Iraqi/Arab/Islam, man of the family, blah blah blah -- trappings, LOL. But, it's the 21st Century. Some traditions need to gather dust in the closet.

Morbido is going back to Iraq,

So now I'm staying in the States till late September or until I get my diploma from the university. After that, I'm going home! I know it sounds crazy to go back right now, but I made my decision to go back a long time ago, because, I can't afford staying here on my own, I don't want to apply for asylum or anything like that because it takes a very long time and I don't know if it worths it, and I don't think I can live by myself any longer. It's not scary, but it's just so hard not having anyone to talk to and missing all events and things that happen in my family. And even though I have many friends here, it's nothing like being with your own family. So I said that's it, I'm going back...

says Happy Father's Day to her Dad, who is recovering from a wiggy and jiggy sciatic nerve.

Iraqi Roulette once told the tale of Abu Jwad.

Salam Adil looks at the death of Blog Iraqi.

Bassam Sebti has outed himself (avec photo) and renames his blog, It's a New World. If only he had renamed his blog, It's A Small World, then he and the shrilly sycophantic Annie could do a cover version of the Disney song...

I Was There, one of the more underrated Iraqi bloggers and journalists, has arrived in the US by now.

It was bad for the Iraqi kids, said Ishtar back in February of 2007:

Iraqi Kids After The Invasion

I was talking with an Iraqi psychiatrist about cases of kids traumatized by the war and terror wave that is ravaging Iraq, the doctor told me that the number of the Iraqi kids who suffered of different types of sycho problems since the US invasion till now is increasing rapidly.

He said, " If I receied five patients in my clinic every day, be sure one of them is a kid, which means I receive no less than 60 kids per a month."

Baghdad Dentist is in Mosul. Shouldn't he call himself, Mosul Dentist?

ZZ delivered a startling post: The Human Cost of War and American Indifference.

Fatima of Thoughts From Baghdad is intrigued by the spreading influence of Facebook among Iraq's computer literate:

And now, I've noticed that Iraqis are increasingly joining the world of Facebook! It's not as widespread in Iraq as it is in the rest of the Arab world, but it is slowly gaining in popularity. From my husband's account, I see a good number of his colleagues and former co-workers adding him as Facebook friends. And one of my buddies from Iraq added me recently.

Zappy is Happy to be alive. Aren't we all?

Turkmeneli EN (Turkmeneli News Agency) functioned as a forum for the Turkemen peoples of Northern Iraq views.

Friend of one of the World's Biggest Con Men, Ahmed Chalabi, the one and only Nibras Kazimi talks Iran's Shifting Strategy. Actually, Iran's strategy in Iraq has been relatively simple. Let America do its work for it, and pay off as many factions of the Iraqi government as possible to gain some sort of controlling influence.

MixMax received a phone call from The Twilight Zone.

The Words That Come Out... regales us with their poetry.

Raed is on NPR... those poor listeners. How soon before blood starts spurting from their ears?

Do you think Omar and his fiancée are playing the Iraqi version of Hide the Salami?

Last of the Iraqis
wishes to elucidate us about the true conditions of Baghdad. But one man's truth is another man's US foreign policy. LOL.

Khalid's an engineer now. The Jihadist wannabee can make bombs now with the best of them.

Great Baghdad
says Saddam resembled Hitler:

I still remember the striking resemblance between the German dictator and our own home grown dictator, Saddam Hussein. The police state he created and the Militarized society and the wars that brought disasters to Iraq and to the entire region. The liberties which were frozen, and most importantly, the psychopath manner of ruling. The one and only feared leader to whom we are supposed to sacrifice our “ souls and blood”.

Alaa the Canadian.

Before Nancy at Beth Nahrain stopped blogging, she produced a great post about author Rosie Malek-Yonan and the new Assyrian Genocide in Iraq:

Ms. Malek-Yonan states: My churches are being bombed. My elders are being killed. My young brothers are being assaulted and kidnapped. My fellow students are being harassed and beaten. My children and neighbors are being beheaded. If my sister refuses to wear a Muslim hijab, she is raped or tortured by having acid thrown in her face. And yes, the majority of these incidents have gone unreported in the western media. These atrocities are occurring right under the watchful eyes of my American government since the “liberation” of Iraq.

Ara Ashkjian was one of the many Armenians in Iraq who was forced to leave the country after the invasion. Sadly, many of Iraq's minorities have vacated the premises in the last sixty years, for parts unknown, although Ara emigrated to Armenia to start his life anew.

Imad Khadduri, quite possibly the most openly hostile anti-American Iraqi blogger, discusses Occupier's Mega Bases.

Iraqi Pundit doesn't like Barak Obama. Maybe, he and Fay can battle it out, pull each other's hair, kicks to the groin, and everything like that.

Before he became the famous Ghaith, he was Gee in Baghdad, the photoblogger. And you can see his images here.

Ays is taking a very long glance at Saddam's execution.

Iraqi Lord loved his Duke Nukem:

4 years ago, I don’t remember that exact date, but I was around this time, me, my brother and my mother were sitting at home. Listing to the sound of explosions, shaking with everyone of them. I was playing on my PC, I think the game was “Duke Nukem”. My mother and brother were sitting in the other room when they bombed Al-hakimiayh, the building where the Iraqi intelligence used to interrogate people. Our house was 2 blocks from that building, the sound was deafening, I literally flew up in the air, with the PC, for several seconds, then came back to the ground and continued playing like nothing happened. My mother on the other hand, was crying and shouting of fear. We took her to some relatives’ house, and came back home. My brother kept shouting at me and telling me that I’m crazy, emotionless, and his favorite, careless.

Coloured Bubbles, enjoy the girlish photos of this long forgotten Iraqi blog.

The Woman I was apparently changed forward to the woman she became in 2007.

My Photo Gallery
is Bookish's interesting photoblog, mainly concerned with Mosul.

These are a few of my favorite things...
is quite possibly the best Iraqi photoblog, still in existence.

Serendipity is a very peaceful and happy blog.

Even a Cat is a Lion brought Kitten's fictional stories to life.

Yasmin still searches for that ever elusive Noomeeheloo.

Abu Khaleel once advocated True Represenative Democracy. Where is he now?

Baghdadi, the Iraqi-American gave up the ghost of blogging in 2006.

Astuma, the Free Man, apparently found his freedom in Germany.

Dr. Hanoudi
, one of the better letter writers in the Iraqi blogosphere, is working on a book about Saddam.

Ali is in hiatus, apparently.

Saddam is better than you all concludes The Storyteller. Well, his ghost perhaps, LOL.

M.H.Z. promulgates on stereotypes:

In Iraq, the living evidence on the idiocy of all stereotypes is schools, as sectarianism, which is just a form of pushing stereotypes into our everyday life in disguise, hasn’t yet worked its way through the destroying of the college and education society, at least in some schools. Every school that I’ve been in as a student had a very diverse population of students including Arabs, Kurds, Muslims, Christians, and others, most of which are best friends and will hold friendships that last a lifetime.

Among Sooni's better efforts was Woman Day in Iraq.

Iraqi Calamity kept a running tab of the calamities in Iraq and seems to have become a calamity himself.

Bookish is dealing with curfewesque Mosul. Hopefully, he'll update his blog.

Yes, Iraq has a Gay and Lesbian community, although much diminished in the post-Invasion period, the LGBTQ of Iraq blog is there to cover it.

Murteza Ali in London, of mixed Iranian-Iraqi ethnicity wanted you to Pray 4 Iraq.

The Kurdish Engineer
is a poetic and romantic man by nature, bemused by events and the seasons.

No one apparently got in to Koranic Phenomenology, because it quickly went in to hiatus.

Adfero, five years after, at Baghjdad Skies 2, is very disillusioned:

I felt -- desperately hoped -- the invasion might produce a good result for the Iraqi people, even though I knew the reasons Bush and Blair gave for invading were lies.

In recent months Blair (my former prime Minister) has not publicly admitted he cocked it up. Perhaps when he has retired he will do so. If he doesn't he will be plagued with it for the rest of his life.

Fayrouz's Break Room
, a happy place of humorous stories.

Ali al-Wardi would be proud of Still Alive from My Letters to America.

Sahar at McClatchy ruminates on displaced Iraqis and home:

Displaced Iraqis – a nuisance over and over..

Will we ever have "homes" again?

A "home" that is safe.

A "home" that has electricity.

A "home" that has water.

A "home" that we can live in as normal people live in their homes.

A "home" to come back to after a long day's work.

A "home" in which a family can sit to have a meal together, listen to music, joke about the day's events – even to fight our little fights in the privacy of our "homes..."

A Free Writer, I did an In T View with him, formerly of Mosul, he moved to Switzerland.

NIW has a good post, Iraqi Boots on the Ground.

My Everything Baghdad has some lovely pics of the Ishtar gate.

Remember the Nice Boy? You probably don't, but he had amusing images on his blog.

Exiled to Canada, Duraid Munajim provided Notes on Cinematography.

Narsay, once was an Iraqi in the West, specifically Atlanta, Georgia.

What happened to Raghda, Iraq's most famous Cat Blogger, and cousin to Sunshine?

He didn't have many ideas about Baghdad's security. LOL.

Remember when Baghdad's Mistress outed Zeyad's connected family?

Sleepoholic once discussed Dreams:

Are They reality or illusions ?
Once I had a dream about a friend and we had a fight in that dream .
The day after I woke up confused and angry , I saw him and I was still feeling angry , We had the fight . Oh was it a vision or what happened .

Who can forget the Little Penguin, who reminiscences about When:

You seek warmth in the hidden treasure inside you.. the flame of life and seed of love that makes you who you are..
You seek solace in the sea of beauty that is your God-given soul..
When you realise that less needs to be decided and more needs to be done..
When you feel empowered by a stranger's smile..
When you feel that Heaven's might lies between your hands..
When you reach your summit of selflessness..
You have been happy, though you may not know it.

Hala writes a Dear Baghdad letter:

I tried to forget about you Baghdad but you are like a curse you keep on controlling my life and many others. The people who hurt you are paying dearly and the people who were hurt because of you are paying even greater...

Majid Jarrar, the former Saddam-era fixer went camel riding to Petra with his Canadian girlfriend. One wonders, what are Canadian women thinking?

Vahal for McCain says, Oh Samantha (Powers).

Dog of Sun, the multimedia Iraqi guy.

Baghdad Artist as usual, has produced some beautiful artwork, symbolic and upliftingly brooding, under the motif or meme of Prophecy and beyond:

Prophecy - a prediction of the future, made under divine inspiration; an inspired message or prediction transmitted orally or in writing.

Bubzi's last post was about the Walk For Iraq, Part II.

At one time, Akba talked Sunnis and Shi'a.

The Red Serpent
is still blogging.

Shut Up You Fat Wiener
was one of Salam Pax's weaker creations.

Ayad stopped being Live From Baghdad in April of 2005.

Alaasmary asked back in May of 2005, Do we need USA longer? And concluded, yes.

I witnessed the change in Iraq since the beginning and my opinion is not prediction of should or should not. It is merely the true that I concluded it from my work side by side with the coalition and Iraq government.

Yes, we need the U.S. for longer time or we shall fail. They helped us to start the change but the changes happen in steps and we just started in Iraq. Even if there are many complains about instability within these two years. Iraq community is so difficult and needs more than these years to re-communicate with each other without privilege of one ethnicity to the other.

Was he right?

From Baghdad to New York is a news blog on Iraqi culture and society.

Rejected of Why Dubai? once queried about Raping Women in Iraq:

I was at the dentist’s when I heard the news.

- Did you know? They raped a woman and she came on Tv.
- What!!!??? Who? Another Abeer?
- This time it’s Iraqi force!
- !!!!!!!!!

My jaw was widely opened for a while even though it was not me who was sitting under my dentist’s drill, not because I think that Iraqis are so honorable and far from raping their own blood. On the contrary, Iraq is being raped every day by Iraqis before any invasion force but the shocking thing is that finally a woman , brave enough to come on tv and admit that.

Gilgamesh X wants to know where he can find Iraqi movies:

Especially the old ones, I mean those like 'I'm Iraq' or "min al-Mas'ul' or so on. I also would like to know where to get a movie with the Iraqi actrice "Zeinab" who died some years ago in Swede.

Sandybelle loves everybody, especially her Daddy:

He calls me , and when he calls me, I feel of my wings, how great they are , as they try to take me to the other world. Where I am creating my dreams and put them in a great house. House of dreams . my wings keep taking me all around , and I feel so great to see my house trees , they are growing very rapidly, as my house is being rebuilt day after day...

Caesar, the Horny Guy, has been busy.

Chikitita doesn't like the Baghdad Airport:

Always wear grey or beige, clothes will be smeared all over. Never wear footwear with tricky shoelaces. If you have smelly feet, don’t worry, no one will notice, other passengers are busy cursing the funny regulations. Always make space for a comfy pillow; you’ll never know you might spend the night there. Never trust your instinct and have some sense of adventure, not all cab drivers who look like thugs are true militiamen, and if they were, cheer up, they might be the key to your demise, an option you’d rather consider than go through debilitating experience. Don’t bother ask the information desk or anyone in uniform, they’re always clueless. Look for grumpy passengers who like to complain, they’re the ones who will tell you when HER MAJESTY THE PLANE will show up.

Snarki Anarki is looking forward to The Hulk.

Iraqi Translator said Happy Mother's Day.

The angry Delilah's hard to read new blog.

The Great Iraq provides long details of the Bush administration's war crimes in Iraq.

Abbas finds Syria beautiful. Hmmm, unless you're a un-Hijabbed Syrian woman stared at by Syrian men. Then, your opinion might be a little different.

Iraqi Mojo is in his Truth phase. What truth do we hold to be self evident? There are no Sunni mosques in Tehran. Big Baby Davis has man boobs. I like blueberry muffins. What is the truth?

Nadia is talking music, bands, and events happening in Iraq, which make her furious.

Ibn Alrafidain did an exemplary job of examining the De-Baathficiation policy enacted within Iraq.

Iraqi Athiest provided a critical look at Islam before he stopped blogging. Perhaps he will resume with a critique of other religions.

The Hometown Baghdad Blog won three Webby Awards.

From the Diary of a Iraqi Doctor was a very fine post from Sheko Mako.

Delilah once ascerbically critiqued the Iraqi blogosphere:

Recently, I have been thinking about the fact that there's a great many around our Blogosphere who appear to idolize themselves. They seem to have read their own posts and have fallen in love with themselves, imitating a mentality quite as naïve as that of their designated readers. Then there are others who don't need to read their own posts as they are already much in love with themselves. After several readings and certain encounters I have come to believe that there are some smug characters around the corner, the less fortunate of which blames his failures upon everybody else. Especially since everybody else is perceived to be less intelligent and therefore less likely to succeed. The logical conclusion they seem to reach is that everybody is stealing their good luck, which accounts for why their lives are still pathetic.

Tara discusses the perils of eating ice cream in the summer.

Bug-Code is for the Iraqi computer geek.

Karim at The Tad is suspicious of bombings in Iraq.

Who could ever forget the Iraqi Heavy Metal band, Acrassicauda? Check out their Turkish and Syrian gigs and digs.

Kyubai gifted us with some interesting Iraqi-themed, martial arts-flavored poetry:

Iraqi I am and this is my life
You live by the rules you die by a knife
Once I walked with head held high
Now in the shadows I crawl and lie
Cheap as a dogs my life does worth
Wherever I go east, west, south or north
But you know what? I no more care
When facing death in his eyes I stare
Watching people die, more numb I grow
Not knowing when I’m next in the death row
Every day death I do cheat
Some times I think death is a bitter sweet...

Friday, June 13, 2008

Mugged By Reality: John Agresto's Views On Iraq

The Art of Sven Prim - H/T - Plasmastik

One of the most interesting and intelligent books ever written about post-invasion Iraq is Mugged By Reality by Dr. John Agresto, who spent nine months working in Iraq for the Coalition Provisional Authority as senior advisor to the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

Agresto, one of the clearest American thinkers to ever venture into the dysfunctional maelstrom that was/is Iraq, received his PhD from Cornell University, taught American government and political philosophy at the University of Toronto, Duke, Kenyon, Wabash College, and the New School University; served for more than ten years as President of Santa Fe College in New Mexico, and was Acting Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Here are Agresto's thoughts -- gathered from his book, writings, and interviews -- on Iraq (a syncretistic culture replete with Islam, tribalism, and Arabic mores), Saddam, freedom versus safety, Iraqi Women, Iraq's Christians, American failures, the dark despotic ubersoul of the Iraqi populace, the looting, Iraq's education system, the Kurds, Iraq's Shia majority, Iran's victory, and Ayatollah Sistani... and much more. Let us begin...

The Women Were Liberated And Empowered In Saddam's Iraq

...the liberation and empowerment of women was widespread and deep-rooted in most parts of the country. Both of these -- the liberation of women and secularization of Iraqi society -- were things Saddam did. In part because of the loss of so many young Iraqi men in the long war with Iran, and no doubt in part because Saddam recognized their equal talent and usefulness, women, secular women, were in positions of authority in many sectors of Iraqi life. Unlike, say Afghanistan, women in Iraq were professors, doctors, lawyers, professionals of every sort.

The Situation for Women was better under Saddam

Sorry to say, I now think that the situation for the average woman has now become worse than it was under Saddam. Under Saddam, women were often raped and killed for political reasons or for the sexual satisfaction of men in power. Now the rapes, beatings, and killings are generally for sectarian rather than political reasons. I’m told by my Iraqi friends who are still there that, unlike just five years ago, today no prudent woman goes out without the veil, that classes are again segregated by sex, that the great inequalities of Islamic law are again being applied, that rapes are a tool of the sectarian militias, and open and innocent interactions between young men and women are hardly possible....

Thirty Years of Tyranny do Terrible Things to a People

If you're asking our view on the transfer of sovereignty, my answer is [exceedingly] pessimistic. Thirty years of tyranny do terrible things to a people. It breeds a culture of dependency it breaks the spirit of civic responsibility; it forces people to fall back upon tight-knit familial, ideological or sectarian groups for safety and support... Freedom, democracy, and rights are not magic words. They do not change a culture overnight, or in eight months. The transfer of sovereignty will bring about some form of "democracy." But a liberal democracy, with real notions of liberty, equality and open opportunity-- without strongmen or sectarian or sectional oppression-- well, I think that's doubtful.

The Problem of Assuming the Iraqis would Fight for their Freedom versus a Desire for Safety

...I heard and read otherwise sensible people in the Administration saying that, since 'all men' desire to be free, therefor Iraqis would fight for freedom as others did. In insisting that freedom is a common human desire, we overlooked the fact that, if there must be a choice, most people would first choose safety and security more readily than freedom. Indeed, without the safety and security of our persons and property, freedom is little more than a word. And, as we discovered even more to our chagrin, many others would choose being Islamic and submissive to Allah's word over being free any day. [...] If History teaches us anything about our natures it is that the desire for freedom is self-directed -- we all might wish for freedom for ourselves, but surely not all of us wish it for our neighbors. Especially when it comes to freedom regarding the most important things -- such as religious teachings and the construction of a culture that follows or rejects God's supposed will -- that is where a belief in the value of freedom universally applied is sorely tested.

Infantilized by Saddam, the Iraqis are like Children

Well, he infantiled a whole country, to be honest. I mean, you go there, and even the Iraqis that I love the most, and they’re very…some of them are very sweet people, are as children. I mean, they really will not stand on their hind legs, and they’re scared. It’s ingrained in them not to stick their necks out. You stick your neck out, it gets cut off, quite literally, not just figuratively. So that’s part of it, sure.

Operation Iraqi Freedom unleashed the dark and despotic underside of the Iraqi soul...

Finally, in almost all of the universities as of this writing, student religious fanatics rule the dormitories, the hallways, and the classrooms, sometimes backed up by local police forces now infiltrated and controlled by militias loyal to the Sistani/Hakim branch of 'moderate' Shiite ideology or attached to the even fiercer brand of zealotry of Sadr's black-shirted Mahdi army. Intimidations, beatings, and murder in the name of modesty, of orthodoxy of religious belief and interpretation, and of conformity to Islamic mores and customs are pervasive on today's university campuses. I know it's considered politically unhelpful to say it, but it is nonetheless true there is today considerably less everyday freedom on the campuses of most Iraqi universities than there were under Saddam. Operation Iraqi Freedom unleashed the dark and despotic underside of the Iraqi soul...

The Anarchy and Collapse of Order

I found what looked like general insouciant anarchy prevailing in the streets. Thousands of cars, no working stop lights, driving on sidewalks, no effective policing—just anarchy. But this was just the tip of what soon became terribly apparent—a near total collapse of all law and order. Saddam, remember, had emptied the prisons. Literally tens of thousands of rapists, thieves and murderers were now on the streets. And hardly a police force to speak of. For the criminal element, virtually every day was a feast day. And our military are warriors, not policemen.

What the Americans Goal should have been in Iraq

We should have been less ambitious... Our goal should have been to build a free, safe and a prosperous Iraq -- with the emphasis on safe. Democratic institutions could be developed over time. Instead, we keep talking about democratic elections. If you asked an ordinary Iraqi what they want, the first thing they would say wouldn't be democracy or elections, it would be safety. They want to be able to walk outside their homes at night.

The Pollyanish Americans Liberated Iraq and handed it over to Sistani's Shia

We liberated Iraq, and handed Iraq over to the Shia majority, and the leader of the Shia majority, Sistani, wouldn’t even meet with us. It was, and still at the same time, we kept making excuses for that. Well, it’s okay, we’ll talk to his intermediaries. No, he’s a difficult and different man. We’ll talk to his intermediaries. The handwriting was on the wall. We Americans live on hope all the time. We are the most Pollyannish people in the whole world. We are so quick to forgive, we forget immediately, and the rest of the world’s not like that...

On the Problems with Ayatolah al-Sistani's "Liberal" view of Iraq

I do not believe that parties that demand that all public legislation be based on Islamic law as interpreted by Shia imams as liberal. I do not believe that a religious leader who refused even once to meet with Ambassador Bremer or any American, but would gladly meet with every anti-American antagonist and criminal, from Muqtada al-Sadr to Ahmed Chalabi is a 'moderate.

The Intolerant Sistani

I do not believe that the same Sistani who condemned the Interim Iraqi Constitution because it protected the rights of the Kurds and secured property rights to Jews should be be thought of as being terribly tolerant. Indeed, the very first time I heard, in all my months there, an anti-Semitic diatribe was from the Grand Ayatollah. One word from Sistani might prevent the killing of journalists and Western civilians in Basra, stop the frightened exodus of Christians from all of Southern Iraq, and restrain the imposition of sectarian dogmatism now rolling over Iraqi's schools and universities. There is no such word.

The Americans were Naive about Sistani

"You Americans are so naive," Suhail, our Iraqi Christian translator said to me one morning over breakfast. We were talking about the elections and about how they would surely result in a Shiite majority government dominated by the partisans of Ayatolah Sistani. "You are so naive. When you Americans hear the word 'democracy' you see respect and rights and liberty and toleration. When he [Sistani] hears the word 'democracy' all he sees is power. And that's what you Americans are doing, giving power to a religious man who will put an end to all the freedoms you thought you were giving us, once he has the chance and the power."

Sistani the "Moderate"

We insisted that the Ayatollah Sistani was surely a 'moderate' and a friend to civil and religious liberty despite all the hard evidence to the contrary. Let me repeat my previous observations and predictions: The Ayatollah Sistani is an Islamist bent on establishing a theocracy not far removed from that found in Iran. He is an open anti-Semite and not too subtle anti-Christian. He threw his support behind democratic elections because they were the handy vehicles for imposing religious authority over all Iraqi. Nor is he the only one, or even the worst, only the most prominent.

Saddam had the Christians under his control

Christians, being a clear and easily crushable minority, made few waves. And Saddam often relied on them, knowing that he had them, as a group, under his control... Anyone who could either poison him or slit his throat had to be Christian; they were, it seems, the only ones besides his immediate family that he trusted. I often have thought that art of the killing of Christians and the bombing of churches these days stems not only from fanatical religious motives but also from political retribution.

Saddam and the Liberation of Women in Universities

Even though some fields had artificial quotas limiting the number of women to no more than 40 percent of any class, Saddam actually did much to encourage women to enter college. Thousands upon thousands of young men were lost in fighting Saddam's wars, and women were needed to take their place in the ranks of the various professions. But perhaps more importantly, Saddam dampened the roe of religion and religious fervor in the universities. Women were not segregated from men, head scarves -- the hijab -- were never mandated, and the universities were basically secular enclaves in a society that kept sectarianism, especially Shiite sectarianism, as much in the background as possible.

The Problem of adding more Troops

Well, not unless we had intentions of using them differently. Not unless we intended to enforce security, shoot looters, spread troops out along thousands of miles of borderland, and act as neighborhood policemen. Without a change of policy, more men would only have meant more targets and more casualties. And more troops killing more Iraqis and seizing and destroying more property would almost have certainly made all matters worse.

Ahmad Chalabi the Charlatan

Well, I think he...he was part of the problem from the beginning, and I know so many of our conservative friends thought he hung the Moon. The first time I met him, I realized I think this guy’s a charlatan. He’s, you know, he’s a convicted criminal in Jordan. I don’t know how many of my good Iraqi friends said hey, if we ever could take him to court, there’s any number of…every Iraqi family is owed money by this guy. He has great links to Iran. Every now and then, we find him in Tehran, coming from Iran back to Iraq. He…I watched him as he played both ends against the middle. I remember once when we had a fairly decent interim administrative law that was going to govern the country, and the Ayatollah Sistani immediately said he didn’t like it, he didn’t like it because he thought it gave the Jews back their property in Iran, and immediately, Chalabi changed his vote, and decided that no, now he was going to be on the side of the religious fanatics, not on the side of the secularists. He’s a man who you never know where he’s going to be at any particular time. And I think he serves no one but his own interests.

The State of Higher Education in Iraq when Agresto arrived in the country

This is too much to put in a sentence or two, but briefly, this is what I found: 20 universities, 46 or so vocational colleges; extreme specialization—no liberal education whatever; heavy emphasis on medicine, science and engineering; significant political intimidation and control over what was read and taught. On the plus side, integrated (men/women) classes, no religious intimidation, and a cadre of older teachers who had studied and gained their doctorates abroad. All younger professors, however, had received their higher degrees in the highly inbred atmosphere of Iraq and neighboring Arab states.

What Agresto himself hoped to accomplish within Iraq's Higher Education system

To stabilize the universities; strengthen their programs wherever possible; give them some exposure to liberal rather than simply specialized education; build connections and partnerships with European and American universities; and, through all this, to help with the opening, or re-opening, of the Iraqi mind.

What the Looting did

...the looting that followed the war destroyed virtually all public buildings; pillaged museums, schools, and universities; burned libraries to the ground, and so on. Ever so much was destroyed by marauding Iraqi thugs.

The Specific Effect Looting had on the Higher Educational System

Except for the three universities in the Kurdish region and a very few others, the universities were fundamentally stripped bare—no desks, chairs, equipment, computers, typewriters, copiers, lecterns, paper, pencils, blackboards, fans, wiring, plumbing, or books. And what couldn’t be stolen, like libraries, was generally burned.

Why the American High Hopes for Iraq faded away

Suffice it to say, first, that we terribly misjudged the strength of the Saddam and Ba’ath factions we thought we had defeated. We didn’t defeat them: they retreated, and came back as insurgents. We never killed them; they never surrendered. Yet, strangely, we proclaimed we had won.

Second, we failed as an occupying power to quell unrest, restore law and order, bring criminals to justice, and restore any semblance of peace and security to a people under attack. To say “Freedom is untidy,” as my friend Donald Rumsfeld said, is not only wrong, it made the Iraqis wonder what it was they had just bought into.

Third, we talked about all we were going to do—electricity, clean water, sewers, clinics, you name it. Yet little happened. Under perfect conditions America can build the best and finest systems. Under the conditions as they were in Iraq—with its arson and looting and without any real semblance of order—so much of what we promised or said we would do failed. As one of the finest and most pro-American of the Iraqi professors said to me, “We once thought you had the wand of Moses in your hands. Now we see you don’t.”

Fourth, (it gets worse) we talked all the time about freedom and democracy. Yet we had precious little knowledge of how to bring a stable, mild, moderate, middle-class, and above all free democracy to Iraq. We had, it seemed, scant idea as to what made our own democracy lasting and liberal. Other than holding elections and writing some kind of constitution, we had little idea as to what kind of civic institutions might precede democracy, what character a people might need to have to make democracy work, or what kind of political institutions were needed to make democracy just.

The Americans lack of understanding at the Attractiveness of Islamic Extremism to the Iraqis and the Futile Search for Islamic Moderates

...we simply had no notion not only of the horrors, but also the attraction, of Islamic extremism. We generally have a benign view of religion. We always insist that those who kill infidels or torture in God’s name have somehow “hijacked” their religion. We consistently failed to understand that not all religions have the same view as we do of peace, of brotherhood, or of justice. Islam in general, and parts of Islam in particular, are not post-Enlightenment faiths. But why would they be? We desperately kept looking for the supposed “moderates” among the clergy in Iraq. Moderate as compared to what? Just because we believe that God wants everyone to enjoy equal rights, or that killing Jews or stoning apostates is wrong, doesn’t mean that our beliefs are shared in other faiths.

We have so tamed and, in a sense, marginalized religion in the West that we consistently underestimate its ferocity and strength. Watch: we will continue to worry that Iran will extend its influence into Iraq. Fair enough. But it’s not Iran as Iran that will take over Iraq but the Shiite fanaticism that rules Iran. Soon there will be the rule of Shiite theocrats, under the guise of democratic forms and elections, ruling a large swath of the Middle East, from Iran through Iraq through south Lebanon.

The Christians and Professional Class fled; the Iranians won

Perhaps a third of Iraq’s professional class has already fled. Thousands upon thousands have been murdered. The ancient Christian communities in and around Basra and southern Iraq have been emptied. Virtually all the Iraqis I know pray to come here, but Homeland Security makes that impossible. And Europe for some is just as hard. Damascus? Beirut?! Amman? ... What is it about us that we have this overarching desire always to believe that things are getting better? The situation in Iraq is not getting better. Do I need to be blunt? The fact is, we fought and died in this war, and Iran has won it. It occupies the southern half of Iraq; supplies the insurgency with sophisticated IEDs that kill our men and women every day; it’s backing up the political parties that won the last election, including Sadr’s faction and Hezbollah that hold six ministries between them; and it supplies men, money and material to the murderous sectarian militias. While it expresses itself politically and militarily, its rule is religious. Its closest analogue is the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan, though here it’s Shi’a not Sunni fanaticism.

Iraqis Only Look Out For Themselves

They don't know how to be a community... They put their individual interests first. They only look out for themselves.

Compared to the Kurds, the Arab Iraqis were more interested in their self interest

Yes, as contrasted with the Kurds, among the Arab Iraqis there was more of a culture of individual self-interest and less of a sense of serving a larger cause. They display a tendency to lie low and avoid danger. That’s why it’s been so difficult standing up an army and a responsible national guard....

Why Higher Education fared better in Kurdistan than Iraq

Education in Kurdistan is faring infinitely better than in the rest of Iraq. There are three universities in the area, the largest in Erbil with maybe 15,000 students. All three universities presidents came to me and Jerry Bremer after liberation and said, in effect, there is no political liberation without the liberation of the mind. Unless people think for themselves, they will always be led and never lead. Second, that there’s no intelligent democracy without intelligent citizens and no future democracy without intelligent statesmen. (As Dave Barry used to say, “I am not making this up.”) They were solidly Jeffersonian in their understanding that democracy needed intelligent citizens and educated, far-sighted leaders.

The US should not leave Iraq

We’re over there fighting two groups of very dangerous people. We’re trying to fight and contain the al Qaeda Sunni radical forces that are former Baathists that are there, former Saddam people, and with a new influx of Iranian power and material and men and intelligence there, aligned with the Shia, or some Shia fanatics, primarily Muqtada al Sadr and others. We…don’t ask me for what the solution is. I just know that the solution is not leaving. We have two big enemies there of America and the free world, and we have to do something to stymie them as best we can.

A Partitoned Iraq is not a good thing

You know, in the end, the partition may happen. But I do think it’s not a good thing, and not something we should want to see. We don’t…just partition, what would it mean? Who benefits from a partitioned Iraq? Sure, the Kurds will have their part, and they may even have some oil wealth, but they’ll be beleaguered by Turkey and by Syria, and to a degree, by Iran. What are we going to do with the rest of Iraq? We’re going to give the southern half of Iraq over to Iranian hegemony? What are we going to do with western Iraq? Will that become a satellite of Syria? I mean, why would we want to do that? Now I understand that what we would like to do is to have a unified Iraq in which the Kurds have an awful lot of good influence that could be moderate and non-fanatical, and I think we have to work towards that. But as I said, in the end, it may happen that it gets divided, but it’s not a good thing if it does. It’s certainly not in our interest if it does.



Hugh Hewitt

Mugged by Reality: The Liberation of Iraq and the Failure of Good Intentions

View From The Right

Washington (An Educator Learns the Hard Way - Rajiv Chandrasekaran) Monday, June 21, 2004; Page A01

Whirled View

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Monday, June 09, 2008

The Sad Lament Of A Gay Iraqi Blogger

goodbye my friend

I was given permission to post this a few years ago, and I finally found it once again in my notes. Besides having read hundreds of books on the Middle East, Iraq, Archeology, Central Asia, Religions, Anthropology, and Cultures, I have thousands of documents on Iraq, so it's not that difficult to misplace things. Thus, I was pleasantly pleased when I rediscovered this sad lament from a Gay Iraqi blogger.

Being a sexual minority in Post Saddam Iraq has been a death sentence for many of them. Worse even, than under the time of the Baathists, although that was certainly no walk in the park for most gay and lesbian Iraqis, many of whom had fled the country, when Iraq trended towards a more fundamentalist nature in the closing era of Saddam.

For those who remained after the invasion, a genocide of alternative sexualities took place, given impetus by the Fatwas issued by Grand Ayatollah Sistani against homosexual conduct, and enforced by the various Islamist militias and parties holding sway over the Iraqi government, which was democratically elected by the citizens of Iraq.

The lament begins...

Two days ago, I was talking to a friend of mine who just came from Iraq 5 months ago. He is a recent med-school graduate (med-school grads in Iraq are 10 times less resourceful and competent than the average American nurse, many thanks to 30 years of isolation and backward Arab pedagogy). The poor guy is still trying to recover from the culture shock.

Imagine…from 500 years-behind Arab world to 500 years-advanced U.S; from the Arab lands that are obsessed with homogeneity and social conformity to the U.S that is obsessed with variety, individual rights and social colorfulness. Fortunately, the guy is in suburban Texas. His shock would have been far more overwhelming if he was in, say, NYC or even Austin for that matter. He is excited about the nutritional facts printed on the packaging of American food products and he is startled over the social and economic freedom of women in America.

Professional female athletes, female college students touching male students (in the Arab world, guys do not touch girls, and in rare occasions, they may shake hands) and other forms of, well, what life is supposed to be like in a healthy human civilization.

And so he started praising the U.S and its culture by saying "I wish I could tell Iraqis that not all Americans are deviants who like sexual deviation and try to enforce it on detained men." He was referring to the torture of Iraqi detainees, most of which were scum to begin with. So where should I start with my friend (name withheld)?

Should I start by telling him that I am one of these "deviants"? Should I start by telling him that Americans and Europeans use the word "gay" as opposed to deviant? How can I explain to him that the military personnel who ordered the "deviation" were not by any means homosexual?

When a member of the educated class has it all so badly wrong, where can you start?

For those who are trying to understand what's going on here, here's a clarification: a homosexual man in the Arab world is formally, legally, and officially referred to by the term shaath ( "th" is pronounced the way it is in The or They). In the west, gay means happy, and the homosexual community (with the support of the mainstream heterosexual community) chose it as a more positive uplifting verbal reference to homosexuals. Shaath on the other hand means deviant from the norm and very rare, a word that the Arab-Islamic heterosexual majority imposed on a tortured, humiliated, and a totally invisible minority of homosexuals. And my friend was implying that:

1-america is perceived as sexually deviant by many Iraqis.
2-level of sexual deviation is the best measure for worthiness and righteousness, as perceived by many Arabs (many Arabs would tell you that America is a bad country because of HIV and gays despite the fact that most of them would do just about anything to get a "green card").

How can Arabs call homosexuals "rare or deviant from the norm"? Arab men and women are human, so they, like other humans, must have a homosexual proportion of the population that is comparable to that in any western state.

Humans do not have control over who they love and how they love. We may control acts but not feelings, including gay feelings. As far as homosexual activity, the Arabs engage in it far more than people in the west. After all, it is the norm. then why do they call it "deviation from the norm (shothooth)?

Arab men and women are sexually deprived. The men are not allowed to have pre-marital sex. They pursue pre-marital sex with local girls in the neighborhood or in college. In 99% of the times, they don't find it because the girls too are not allowed to engage in pre-marital sex. If a girl follows her natural desires and those of her admirer, her reputation gets ruined, the whole town will know, neither she nor her sisters will marry, not even her lover would marry her. In extreme cases, the brother or the father would kill the girl in order to "cleanse the family of shame."

High-schools and social gatherings are sex-specific and girls rarely hang out with guys in college. This creates an Arab society of men who do not know how to talk to women, do not know how to be charming, do not know how to interact in a non-sexual manner with women, and do not know how to perform sexually, and women who suffer the same social diseases.

This extreme form of sexual and emotional deprivation, coupled with extreme heat (summers in most Arab countries are unbearable) and parental physical abuse in childhood create the stereotypical angry explosive Arab-Muslim male who has a double existence. One is public and that of the pious, moralistic, muscle-flexing, asexual, audacious, and god-fearing man. The other is private and that of the vulgar, foul-mouthed, impious, hypersexual, timid, reactionary, masochistic, shy, physically insecure, and blasphemous man.

The same can be said about the women with some minor differences. A very common way of dealing with the pent up anger and frustration and of satisfying the natural human (not deviant) need for physical contact is to engage in homosexual acts. Arab boys and men routinely engage in such acts in private house parties but would never talk about it the next day. Girls and women not lucky or pretty enough to marry do the same, especially in their late 30s and 40s (after that they start repenting). And those very same people would be the first on line to denounce homosexuals and homosexual behavior.

Arabs clearly practice gay sex way more than Americans or Europeans, as it involves heterosexual people. In western society, heterosexuals occasionally engage in homosexual sex but not as a habit or a preference. It mostly happens as a part of an experimental phase in puberty or during prolonged periods of isolation (e.g: imprisonment). In Arab states, it's also imprisonment but it is social and eternal.

Why are Arab societies fixated on the sex part of the equation? Instead of highlighting how sexually "deviant" America is, why not highlight how amazing its universities are, how diversified and robust its economy is, how free its people are, how majestic its trees are, how handsome its eagle is, how mighty its rivers are, and how beautiful and bountiful its lands are? Why are Arab societies spending their resources on rounding up "deviants" as opposed to improving their, well…..everything else?

Why do Arab state officials frequently say that they "don't have homosexuals" when they actually do? Why do they say that sexual education is immoral when HIV is creeping through their communities? Why do they consider sexual practices as a measure of a state's worthiness? Why not look at the economy, healthcare, public education and employment rates instead?

Yesterday, the UAE police in Abu Dhabi arrested 22 gay men (21 of them Arab and one Indian) while they were having a PRIVATE non-sexual party in a PRIVATE place that they PAID to reserve. One of the police officers was so disgusted that he used his cell-phone to take on-the-spot pictures of the arrested men and then published them online. So much for privacy and human rights. They were accused of engaging in homosexual behavior. Why is UAE not using its resources to round up Islamic militants who probably have Dubai in their list after Amman? The government of UAE will imprison these men unless they agree to be subjected to hormone (testosterone) therapy. Most of those men would probably agree to take it to avoid incarceration. Is this bad medicine or not? Giving men testosterone regardless of whether or not their blood has normal levels of it is not just bad medicine. It is bad science, a waste of the synthetic hormone itself, and harmful.

But this is not just a UAE medical science problem. When I confessed to my cousin that I am homosexual, she immediately asked me if I had a "male hormonal deficiency." Where do Arabs get these ideas? Aren't doctors explaining things to the public over there?

Last year, my mother's friend and her husband (both famous and wealthy physicians in Baghdad) came to the U.S so that she could receive treatment for her brain tumor. They stayed in our apartment for a week, and during the entire stay, the few remarks they made about the U.S were all blistering and bizarre. In one of them, the husband said "come and see those American soldiers how cowardly they are and how sexually deviant they are; those homos are pedophiles." Mind you, that remark came from a member of Iraq's elite. Of course, neither he nor my father knew that I am one of these "deviants."

Such is the state of affairs in the lovely middle-east. Such is the bizarre state of denial. Such is the view that Arabs have of homosexuals or "deviants" as they say.

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