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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