Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Leopard Changes His Spots

Yesterday I saw a film-clip of Obama addressing the US troops in Baghdad and thanking them for a job well done. "Son of a BITCH!" I thought. "This is the guy who would have yanked them from Iraq a few years ago!" And today, stopping over at Iraq Pundit's, I see that he was thinking the same thing as me. Iraq Pundit comments:
The president was right to praise the U.S. and Iraqi achievements. Who could disgaree with President Obama's comments? Of course, if the country had followed Barack Obama's original urgings, Iraq's 25 (or so) million people would not have had this democratic opportunity. Indeed, candidate Obama wasn't particularly concerned at the prospect of Iraqi genocide, never mind the prospect of democracy. President Obama is celebrating something that has happened in spite of candidate Obama. What a difference a title makes.
Indeed. President Bush was the one who risked everything to see that we were successful in Iraq, and here comes Obama, the guy who would have sold every last soldier down the river for his political ambitions, slapping the troops on their backs, shaking hands, and smiling for group photos. Empty suit, con man, or a leopard who can change his spots at will? Answer: all of the above.

I also noticed that what Obama said to the Turkish college students was quite different from what he told the US troops in Baghdad. In Istanbul, he told the assembled Turks that he was against the war. "I opposed the war and thought it was wrong," he said, clearly playing to the anti-war sympathies of the crowd. In Baghdad he sang another tune.

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Rememeber Touta's story of the man who returned from Jordan to Baghdad only to find a guy in a tracksuit and his family residing in his house? Well, yesterday, as promised, Touta provided her readers with a follow-up. The Iraqi government did not intervene; instead, to Touta's surprise, it was decided by tribal methods. Touta explains:
Enter gang boss, aka well known sheik of the area. This is baghdad by the way, not a tribal-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-bedou-camp.

He called a meeting thing, and said the house was not the 'government or whatever idiot had given it away', so although he felt sorry for the man in the tracksuit, because it wasn't his fault, the house belonged to the guy who returned from jordan.

He said that the tracksuit guy had seven days to 'adil his umoor' (straighten his stuff), and then the original owner should move in, and check that nothing is missing.
As we have written about here at IBC many times here, tribes are important key to understanding Iraqi society, especially outside Baghdad. And, as Touta witnessed, even in Baghdad, where tribal influence is the weakest, you can still feel their reach. I want to be very clear, though. I do not see tribes as good or bad social arrangements, just different from what we as Americans are used to.

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From Iraqi Bloggers Central: Tribe or Party? This blog entry includes links to Zeyad Kasim's four-part series Iraq's Tribal Society: A State within a State.

From Riverbend: Sheikhs and Tribes.

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IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Khalid Ibrahim is now running a blog similar to ours that covers the Iraqi blogosphere: Iraqi Blog Updates.

Please stop by and say hello. On our blogroll, you will find the link to his website at the bottom of the "Iraqi Bloggers (Active)" list, where Iraq Blog Count used to be.

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UPDATE: Michael Totten has a new article up: Sadr City After the Fall.

Commenter Doug Santo remarks on Totten's piece:
That is some of the best reporting I've read on Iraq. That is some the best reporting I've read period. You should start a journalism school for western reporters who want to learn their trade.
Heh.

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