Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A Silence That Speaks Volumes

The most conspicuous silence in the Iraqi blogosphere these days is from those very bloggers who had been the loudest in their condemnations of both the Maliki government and the Coaltion forces in Iraq just a year or two ago. Bassam Sebti (Baghdad Treasure) and Omar Fekeiki (24 Steps), for example, posted often in 2006 and 2007 that their country had been destroyed and would never recover. Today, when casualties for both Iraqi military and Coalition forces are at record lows, when civilian deaths are at their lowest since icasualties began counting back in 2006, and when many governantes in Iraq, like Anbar, have been free of violence for a long time now, suddenly these two bloggers, among others, have gone quiet. Those very Iraqi bloggers who ululated and shed bitter tears when the Sarafiya Bridge in Baghdad was bombed last year failed to mention the re-opening of the same bridge just a few weeks ago. Certainly some credit ought to be given to the Iraqi government for rebuilding that bridge so quickly, right? But they haven't even even typed a single syllable on their blogs about the new Sarafiya Bridge. Why?

Listen, no one doubts that the recent successes in Iraq, both for the Iraqi military and Coalition forces, and the increase in stability that now allows the Iraqi economy to get on its feet, could be reversed in the future. But, in my view, just as we need to acknowledge the past dark days of Iraq, we also need to recognize that a possible turning point in Iraq is at hand. AQI has been defeated by a combination of relentless operations against them and by the fact that the Anbari Sunnis turned on their former allies and worked with the Coalition forces to bring an end to the violence that AQI had brought into their region. Maliki surprised many Sunni Iraqis by using the Iraqi military to take on the Madhi militia both down in Basra and in Sadr city in Baghdad. Those Iraqi bloggers who couldn't find language offensive enough to label Maliki a year ago are now silent.

Meanwhile, bloggers like Iraq Pundit, Hayder (Eye Raki), Nibras Kazimi (Talisman Gate), and Mohammed Fadhil (ITM) have been engaged in and commenting on recent events both in Iraq and here in the US. Along with following the political maneuvers being made here in the States by the political candidates, Iraq Pundit takes a look at a contender to Juan Cole's position of most-skewed commentator of the Iraqi scene. In "Our Arab Friends," Hayder notes that while non-Arab countries have canceled Iraqi debt Arab "neighbors" have not. Along with debt cancelation, Hayder urges Iraq's neighbors to re-open their embassies in Bagdhad. In War of Words he also discusses the Status of Forces Agreement. He writes:
Personally, I am torn between two sides of the argument. My mind tells me the Iraqi people cannot be trusted to handle their own affairs just yet and that a sizable independent force on Iraqi soil will put many of these people in check but my heart tells me a permanent presence of foreign troops with immunity from prosecution and all the other bolt-on bonuses is something Iraq must not and cannot accept.
Nibras Kazimi, in "Sunday Happy Sunday," shakes his head in disbelief that both the Washington Post and the NYTimes have finally started to acknowledge the changes for the better on the ground in Iraq. Of course, he notes, their commentary and articles follow his own reporting and conclusions from two months earlier. For the MSM, better late than never, I guess.

Finally, writing in the Wall Street Journal, Mohammed Fadhil broadens the scope of what is taking place in Iraq to the entire Middle East:
It is obvious that in the Middle East there's a real war raging between the supporters of extremism and totalitarianism and those of democracy and tolerance. The choice before the world is whether it will support one side by doing something, or the other by doing nothing.
One wonders whether Bassam Sebti and Omar Fekeiki have decided that since they find it inconvenient to support the current Iraqi government and the Coalition forces, they have decided to stop saying anything about Iraq, even if the news is positive. If the situation there reverses itself once again and worsens, does that mean that we can then expect to see them blogging once again?


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