Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Small party and great hopes.

I was on duty-call in the hospital all yesterday and I was in the ward when I heard the news that Mr. Bremer had already transferred the power to the new government two days ahead of the expected date. I was so happy about this news and I couldn’t wait until I finish my tour to celebrate the occasion.

My friends all seemed thrilled and optimistic, yet they seemed to have no interset in celebrating the event. I decided to do something so I asked one of my colleagues to cover for me for an hour; I told him that I have to get something from outside.I directly headed to the nearest bakery and ordered a nice cake and returned to the hospital as fast as I could. On the way, I didn’t see any large calibrations but I noticed that the streets were busier than usual and people looked lively and relaxed.

I invited some of my friends, one of us volunteered to get some beverages and we gathered around the cake to celebrate the happy event. I took some pictures but sadly not all the doctors (female mainly) agreed on me posting their pictures and I’ll respect their will.

Some of us were celebrating regaining sovereignty, some were celebrating the end of occupation, others were happy because they think the new government will bring safety and order. I was celebrating a new and a great step towards democracy, but we were all joined by true hope for a better future and by the love we have for Iraq.

After wards we sat for a while discussing different matters. The hall was busy and everyone was chatting and laughing loud. They had Al-Jazeera on (something I never managed to convince them to stop doing). Then suddenly Mr. Bremer appeared on TV reading his last speech before he left Iraq. I approached the TV to listen carefully to the speech, as I expected it to be difficult in the midst of all that noise. To my surprise everyone stopped what they were doing and started watching as attentively as I was.

The speech was impressive and you could hear the sound of a needle if one had dropped it at that time. The most sensational moment was the end of the speech when Mr. Bremer used a famous Arab emotional poem. The poem was for a famous Arab poet who said it while leaving Baghdad. Al-Jazeera had put an interpreter who tried to translate even the Arabic poem which Mr. Bremer was telling in a fair Arabic! “Let this damned interpreter shut up. We want to hear what the man is saying” One of my colloquies shouted. The scene was very touching that the guy sitting next to me (who used to sympathize with Muqtada) said “He’s going to make me cry!”

Then he finished his speech by saying in Arabic,”A’ash Al-Iraq, A’ash Al-Iraq, A’ash Al-Iraq”! (Long live Iraq, Long live Iraq, long live Iraq).

I was deeply moved by this great man’s words but I couldn’t prevent myself from watching the effect of his words on my friends who some of them were anti-Americans and some were skeptic, although some of them have always shared my optimism. I found that they were touched even more deeply than I was. I turned to one friend who was a committed She’at and who distrusted America all the way. He looked as if he was bewitched, and I asked him, “So, what do you think of this man? Do you still consider him an invader?” My friend smiled, still touched and said, “Absolutely not! He brought tears to my eyes. God bless him.”

Another friend approached me. This one was not religious but he was one of the conspiracy theory believers. He put his hands on my shoulders and said smiling, “I must admit that I’m beginning to believe in what you’ve been telling us for months and I’m beginning to have faith in America. I never thought that they will hand us sovereignty in time. These people have shown that they keep their promises.”

-By Ali.

Monday, June 28, 2004


It’s a great day for all freedom lovers. No doubt is left now that we’re winning while the forces of darkness and evil are losing a key round in this war.

With great delight we received th news. this is the right and important step to build the free Iraq and
It’s a painful strike for terrorism and its allies.
They really missed this surprising and brilliant timing. And I guess they’re deeply shocked right now. Their luck couldn’t help them to scar this glorious day with another crime.

Most Iraqis met this news with happiness and hope about the new government’s performance, and who walks in a Baghdad now can feel relaxation in the atmosphere.

What happened this morning will have a great effect on the future of Iraq and the region as well. It has confirmed that America is serious regarding the handover and the creation of a democratic example in the ME through the change in Iraq.
It also confirms the readiness and will of Iraqis to bear their responsibility in rebuilding Iraq as fast as possible.

We, the people of Iraq, see and feel the active and potential dangers that threaten our country and the time has come for us now to stand side by side with our government to go through the coming period.

Our hope and our goal is to see the day when we can elect our representatives freely and more important is to be aware that the process is moving as we wish and there will be no room for those who dream of bringing back the past.

I can see only one bright road and I believe that going to the end is worth the sacrifices and we’ll never be discouraged by the dark pictures shown by the evil propaganda machines.
To me, we didn’t get rid of a military occupation today as I never considered the coalition’s presence as an occupation even if the whole world told me that I’m wrong.
Today we were freed for ever from the fear that a man and his family might once again control Iraq.

We believe that we have common interests and it’s necessary to keep a high level coordination between the US and Iraq and anyone who thinks that we can reach our goals without this coordination is totally wrong. We’re surrounded by some neighbors who don’t want to see the change happen and we’re being watched by angry eyes that will not let this newborn democracy grow up easily. That’s why a strategic alliance between our countries is an important factor for stability and will provide the necessary protection for the new model.

Iraq didn’t seek to have enemies after the liberation but it’s the others who targeted Iraq and made her their opponent not because Iraq doesn’t have a strong army right now nor because they have ambitions in Iraq but obviously because the found a great danger in the new idea and the new Iraq that threatens the core of their ideology which today’s step has made its end closer.
A big salute to the courageous and noble man; Mr. Bremer whom we said good bye to this morning. He proved that he’s the right man for the tough times. He struggled together with his Iraqi brothers to overcome the hardships in a critical era for this country and the whole world. I’m going to miss his presence and so will many Iraqis because we feel that who left today is one of Iraq’s sons.

A big greeting to the men who decided to bear the responsibility of Iraq’s safety and Iraq’s future.
They needed courage and faith to decide to work for Iraq in this hard time. May God help them guide this country with wisdom until the day when elections come.

It’s hard to appreciate the efforts of all those who helped us to get our freedom and rebuild our country. We will never forget them. We will keep them in our hearts.
God bless Iraq and her people.
God bless America and her people.

God bless all the coalition forces who supported operation Iraqi freedom.
May God bless the souls of all those who sacrificed their lives to free Iraq.

By Mohammed.

Congrats for all.

:: In a surprising move, sovereignty was handed-over to Iraqis, in a brilliant timing that interrupted the plans of the terrorists.
I couldn’t find myself but going out, taking some pictures and asking people about their feelings and anticipations regarding this great day.

Baghdad seemed quiet calm moreover this morning was even more peaceful than the last couple of days (at least till now).
Streets are void of any sign reflecting that a great and important event for Iraq and the region has just took place.
I’ve noticed that most people I met in the streets were delighted by this news and I saw a lot of optimism on their faces.
Some were sorry for the sudden depart of Abu Haider (Mr. Bremer) while I actually believe that he deserves a long vacation after his hard and long journey taking care of Iraq in this critical period.
During my ride there was no evidence of any presence for the coalition forces except for some helicopters watching from above.
“What happened was great, and the timing was so right” as described by many Iraqis.
It’s a painful strike for terrorism and their allies.

*To be updated.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

:: Could it be true that all these guys are telling lies?

Warning!! Good news. Hazardous for pessimists, trolls and anti-war!

:: This morning, Al-Hurra TV reported that the IP succeeded in locating and disarming a big bomb placed in a car in the crowded Al-Jihad district in Baghdad. The bomb was made up of more than 50 kilograms of highly explosive materials together with some artillery shells.
The report also showed pictures for the car and the explosives.

:: Al-Sharqiya TV reported that the IP forces in Basra made a successful arrest of the largest oil-smuggling gang.
The report said that the IP arrested nine members of the gang and found 24 tankers loaded with oil and ready to be smuggled outside Iraq.

:: Al-Sabah paper reported that the IP has arrested the biggest abduction and assassination gang in Baghdad.
There was a fierce fight and heavy gun fire exchange before the IP could arrest the gang with their chief and there were no casualties among the IP.
The gang is believed to have connections outside Iraq.

:: The general directorate of passports declared that Iraqis are going to have new passports instead of the travel document issued by the CPA that are not accepted by most countries and are valid for a single trip only.
The new passports are prepared with high quality that make them uneasy to be faked and will be available to all Iraqis starting from the 5th of July.

:: Yesterday, a friend of mine who’s a doctor visited us. This friend was working in Yemen for five years and has came back 3 months ago to work here despite the fact that he was getting paid about 3 times the usual payment doctors get here.

It’s worth mentioning that most of my friends who were working in Yemen, Libya, Jordan, etc have came back to Iraq and others are still considering despite the large difference in salaries.
This friend of mine along with the others have been searching for a job since he came back and couldn’t get an answer. He was considering going back to Yemen since he didn't see any sighn of hope.

Yesterday he went to the Health ministry and they told him that his application was approved and that he’ll start working next July. He was also told that all the doctors and paramedics who were out of job for any reason will go back to work in chronological order according to the date of their applications but the need for their services will be considered in deciding who gets the job first. They told him that the ministry’s plan is to provide job opportunities for all the new graduates, health workers who left their job for any reason and any one who can be helpful in a plan to reduce unemployment and to promote healthcare in Iraq.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

About economy.

A new phenomenon has recently appeared in Baghdad; some might see that it’s not a big deal but I think it has lots of meanings. This phenomenon made me stop to think again about the huge contradiction between what we see on the media and what I see on the ground. Everyone is talking about unemployment and how it increased after the war while I see that there’s a lot of exaggeration, that’s if it’s not the opposite.

All governmental offices and institutions have more employees than they did before the war as many of those who quit their jobs because of the low wages returned back to work after their wages witnessed great raises, besides, the basic services here are almost free, for example water, electricity, health care and phone bills are negligible. Example for that is that health care is free for children under 12 years and tooth filling costs 500 Iraqi Dinar (30cents) and you can fill your car with gasoline for a single dollar ( around 5 cents for a gallon of low octane gasoline and around 12.5 cents for a gallon of excellent high octane type) and a good meal in an acceptable restaurant costs no more than 2$.

All this added huge numbers of new employees to the governments offices and to private businesses that were forced to raise the average worker’s wage accordingly to compete with the public sector and as their income (business owners) has increased considerably they were able to afford that. For example simple construction worker’s daily wage increased from about 1 $ before the war to about 7 $ nowadays. Where as the specialized construction worker would make about 17 $ day compared with 4 $ before the war.

The new phenomenon that I want to talk about is bringing foreign workers to work in Iraq in private sector. I was talking with some of my friends about the improvements in many of Baghdad’s restaurants when one of my friends said: “Did you see (Happy Time) restaurant has done recently? “No”, we answered. He added, “they’ve hired a new staff mainly from India”. One of the friends commented, “this seems to be happening a lot recently. I found recently that my aunt has hired a maid from Philippine. I asked her about it and she directed me to a new founded work agency that is specialized in hiring foreigner workers”.

The next day me and this friend went to see this agency as his family needed a babysitter. It appeared that there were many of such agencies and most of them were concentrated in the fancy neighborhood Al-Karrada. We had similar agencies back in the 70s and early 80s but after Saddam’s glorious victories and achievements people from outside Iraq began to be strangely disinterested in coming to Iraq!

Its worth mentioning that the families that are hiring such workers are mainly from the upper middle ( like my friend's) and high class.

I found there that it has become very common that some restaurants and hotels are using work agencies to get workers from Seri Lanka, India, Pakistan and the Philippines. Moreover, many families in Baghdad started to hire maids through work agencies; the family would pay 1300 $ for the agency to cover the travel cost of the maid who will get a monthly payment of 100 $ at least.

The question is why don’t these people hire Iraqis instead? And why do these people (workers) risk their lives in coming to work in such a “chaotic area”? I think the answer to the 1st question is that most Iraqis can easily find a job that pays more than 100 $ with less effort and commitments. For example a kid (in summer vacation)who help in cleaning the streets and river banks get paid about 120$ by the city hall a month for about 5 hours work.

The answer to the 2nd question can be explained in 2 ways; there seems to be lots of job opportunities in Iraq as a result of private businesses' improvement and an increase in the life standard of a good proportion of Iraqis that made this process (importing workers) a real business and that enabled Iraqis to pay reasonable amounts of money to those workers that make it worthy the risk. The other answer might be that the security conditions in Iraq is not that scary to prevent workers from coming to Iraq and also that Iraq job market seems better for simple workers at least than that in India, Philippines, Seri Lanka and many other Asian countries!!

For years before the war the opposite was true, and no foreigner workers were able or interested to come to work in Iraq, and after all this "destruction and chaos and imminent civil war" this seems to have changed and Iraq has suddenly become a place that attracts many jobless people from different countries! Can anyone give me a reasonable explanation other than what I suggested?!

By Ali.

Friday, June 25, 2004

A click can send you to jail.

Abdul Rahman Al-Shaghfoory, a 32 year old Syrian citizen was arrested a year ago and yesterday he was sentenced to two and a half years in jail because he was found guilty of downloading “forbidden” pages (run by Syrian exiles) and forwarding e-mails containing parts of those pages.

The authorities described his activity as “spreading false news that weaken the morale of the Syrian people”. Four other men are facing similar charges.

I know it’s still early for a new round of comments from the BBC ARABIC forum but this is a very important topic that one can not ignore and I found that the responses worth reading, as a matter of fact I read the whole section twice.

You know that freedom of speech (especially through the internet) is something that we in Iraq began to enjoy only after the 9th of April, so I found myself concerned a lot about this issue. Some of the comments made me remember the days under Saddam’s regime when I used to find myself viewing a political page and there would be a poll that I want to give my voice in or entering a forum where I want to post an idea but I often failed to *click* on the vote button or to post my idea even anonymously. It may sound ridiculous but I was afraid of being tracked down and identified.

The situation in Syria now is much like what we experienced before the 9th of April and that’s why I feel that the comments coming from inside Syria that agree with the government’s policy are either posted by agents of the Syrian intelligence or by ordinary people who are so scared and misled.

I used to feel sorry for Arabs in other countries because I believe that we have much more freedom than they can dream of and my friends sometimes laughed at me especially when I mention Saudi Arabia or other gulf countries because my friends took only the economic aspect in their consideration.

Now, after reading hundreds of Arabs’ comments, I can see jealousy in their words and they frankly envy us for what we have.
I’m sitting now in my living room expressing my feelings, posting my thoughts about any subject and criticizing anyone without fear while our neighbors still encounter serious risks when they want to *read* what someone else wrote in the internet.

Some people still doubt the effect of establishing democracy in Iraq on the region and I would like to point out that if this is what liberating Iraq has accomplished in opening some Arab's eyes (some of them wish the change to happen now!)even with all the difficulties Iraq is facing then what would it be like, say in five years, when Iraq becomes a prosperous and stable democracy!?

There were about 60 comments at the time when I viewed the forum, all of which came from Syrians, Iraqis, Saudis, and Egyptians from inside and outside their countries except for a small percentage that came from Sudan, Lebanon, U.A.E. and other Arab and Muslim countries.

I made some simple calculations and found that :
69 % of the posts were against punishing people for accessing certain websites.
20 % were with the punishment decision.
7 % denied that this incident really happened.
3 % were unsure of their opinion.

Most of the positive comments ( against punishment) were from Iraq, Sandia Arabia and Egypt. The worst came from Syrians *inside* Syria.

The BBC Arabic radio opened a live discussion this afternoon for more than an hour and received many phone calls from different Arab countries.

Here are some of the comments that I have translated:

“It’s really saddening that we’re living under governments that think with such mentalities but I’d like to direct their attention to the fact that the world has become much smaller than they can imagine and what you want to prevent us from seeing (due to your narrow horizon) is known, declared and easy to find on satellite channels, foreign papers, etc.
Aymen Lewez-Cairo/Egypt.

“Such irresponsible doings were always a habit for the dictatorial Baáthist regime.
I’m a Syrian man but I live outside Syria and I don’t dare to sign with my real name to protect my family, let alone those poor people who live inside!!
I can’t but pray for that poor prisoner who’s going to see things like those we saw happen in Abu Ghraib. God help him”.

“The regime in Syria is another Taliban reign. The only difference is that Syrians wear suits.
Why is it that when the west talks about bringing real democracy to the Arab nations, the people respond by cheering the names of the leaders and they curse the democracy of “evil and infidels”?!
Sameer Khaleel-Cairo.

“Governments have no right to prohibit visiting any specific website”
Mohammed Hamid-KSA.

“When you live in an Arabic country and you hear such news coming from regimes that are least described as retarded and handicapped, you sometimes wish that Allah would send a catastrophe on those regimes and they sometimes give the right for the Americans or other powers to topple them”.
Imad Abdul Noor-Beirut/Lebanon.

“I say that the Syrian regime is exactly the same as Saddam’s regime in Iraq; everything is forbidden. I’m a journalist and I ask the Syrian government : Why do you stand against freedom of speech and why are you afraid of the people and the intellectuals. I add my voice to the Amnesty International’s plead to release Abdul Rahman. And thanks”
Husam Munaf-Baghdad/Iraq.

“Let’s shut down our PC’s for a moment of grieve to mourn our freedom of speech inside our Arab societies”

“I am Abdul Rahman’s cousin. I grew up with him and I know him like a brother. I was among those who received political articles by e-mails from him; there were nine of us; me and my four brothers, his brother and three other relatives. Abdul Rahman is not a member in any political or religious organization. He’s just a smart young man who loves reading in his house and discussing the world events with his friends and relatives. He knows the details about what’s happening in Malaysia, Mexico and China. So how could he not care about what’s going on in the Arab world or his country. I feel sad because some of you don’t believe the news and some of you are with punishing internet users. My cousin didn’t take his friends' warnings seriously but he paid a high price for his curiosity and for his feeling that we’ve passed an old era. I wish that Bashar Al-Asad would meet him in person to know whom he’s thrown in prison. If we’re still living under the regime of the one and only leader, then at least this leader should visit his prisons and know the kind of youths staying there. We were taught to be honest even to those we oppose in opinion, so the politicians can trust us more than they trust their guards because we refuse to make violence or treason our way in changing the society. These are Abdul Rahman’s ideas too and he’s still hanging on to his non-violence. The Arab world is not going to change unless we rejected violence and got prepared to pay for what we want to change”
Afraa’ Chalabi-Montreal/Canada.

“The time has come for an end to such environment that produces such a sentence.
The Syrian who reported Abdul Rahman, the Syrian who broke into his house and had him hand-cuffed, and the Syrian who took him from his wife and children to throw him in the darkness of prison; all those did it for an apparent motivation that is obeying the regime out of a paralyzing fear while actually they’re hiding a desperate scream that asks for help from the world. They’re all crying out: People, come over here, Iraq was not a worse place than here. Please save us from this prison of humiliation and poverty”
Khalid Khlaiwi Al-Riyadh/KSA.

“We use the internet to get knowledge and science, not to contact the enemies of our homeland or those who threat the presence of our Arab nation.”
Jab Allah Mansour-Libya.

“I’m not surprised to hear such lies being told about the regime in Syria. Who attempts to spread such false news is trying to spread chaos to weaken the Syrian position”
Baraa’Asseda-A Syrian.

“I’m a Syrian and I live in Syria but I’m unaware of such an incident, neither did any of my relatives hear of it.
Still I agree with closing and forbidding some websites that might harm the Arab governments and those who access such sites must be punished because they’re messing with the general security of the country. We need websites that unite us together, not split our minds.”

"I’m not surprised by theses oppressive “laws” made by the Ba’athists, as if it wasn’t for such oppression the Ba’athists wouldn't have survived this long."
Ahmed Ghazi Hamad-Baghdad/Iraq.

"I think the Syrian government have every right to do this because this citizen, and by opening such pages has started to think and use his own brain and this is totally unaccepted by the Ba’athists, the only thinkers of humanity!"
Wakaas Asad Ali-Kirkuk/Iraq.

"I want to say to some of the Syrian posters: No wonder you haven’t heard of this and anyone who thinks that a human being should be put in jail just for visiting some sites that oppose his government, is in a bigger jail than that of Abdul-Rahman, and may God help us."
Saad Mohammed-Damascus/Syria.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

But they can't kill Iraq.

As the sovereignty hand-over getting closer, the insanity of terrorists reaches an extreme so they gave Iraqis another dark, bloody day that shows the terrorists’ dark dreams and their disrespect for human life whether western’s or arab’s, Christian’s or Muslim’s as long as they get in their way to destroy civilization since it represent evil in their sick minds.

The increased severity of theses operations indicate that their greatest fear is democracy in the ME and building democracy in Iraq is the seed for it. It’s obviously not only us who believe this, the terrorists seem to get it too!

The terrorists have proved to be the dictators’ closest allies, especially Saddam. Why didn’t we see attacks from Al-Qaeda or other fanatics on Saddam’s regime? Simply because they were serving each other’s goals. They are not strategic allies (dictators and terrorists)but they have similar tactical goals.

People here are getting more anxious and more worried as the 30th of June gets closer and as the attacks’ frequency increases. But what Iraqis fear most is a pessimistic scenario that includes the US army leaving the cities and armed militias controlling the streets and then killings, looting and chaos return in a manner worse than ever taking advantage of the lack of strong authorities.

Such ideas are having their effect on the behavior of the people despite the cautious optimism they felt when the IP reinforced their presence in the streets. It may seem illogical thinking but many Iraqis find it very difficult to trust any authority after all they’ve been through and reasoning play little role if any here. They need to see solid changes before they regain their trust in the others.

Debates increased recently about a situation similar to that happened after the 9th of April when the police disappeared and the officials left their offices so everything was ready to be looted and burned.

I believe that this is a very pessimistic scenario and those who think things might go in that direction and those who suggest declaring martial laws in the country overlook many facts, and what happened in the last several days proves that the violence is still confined to limited spots that represent a small percentage of this country while in most Iraqi cities the situation is pretty calm. That’s why declaring martial laws-in my opinion-is a gain for terrorism that will make the war zone expand to involve the whole country.

The attacks in the last few days illustrate the spots of the terrorists presence and activity whom foreigners represent a high percentage of their count because of the close proximity of Diyla governorate to Iran and the close proximity of Anbar and Mosul governorates to Syria, the two countries that have the greatest interest in the failure of the democratic process in Iraq. That’s why those spots must be dealt with in a special way but for a very limited time. Besides, there should be active communications between the authorities and the people who live there and there should be also a strong presence of the security forces.

The world should understand that we’re not like what we used to be and we’re not like those around us; a military coup, then an emergency situation imposed for decades to protect the “revolution” that hijacked authority by force against the will of the people. Emergency situations has become the normal situation in these countries because such situations serve the government not the people. And we have the American and the Israeli examples, two nations that are primary targets for terrorism but in spite of all what they’ve been through they never used emergency laws, and these are the examples we have to learn from here.

We should present the best example and I am optimistic because I see the majority of Iraqis, and despite their fears, have decided to go on no matter what. Yes, we’ll give sacrifices and we’ll go through sad days but I’m totally convinced that nothing can stop the process. We’ll pay precious blood but it’s worth the sacrifice. The accomplishment will be a great victory and a turning point in history that will influence the region and the world.

Once again I address those who think that the war on terror was a mistake; take a look at the Iraqi field and you can see how the terrorists have gone crazy proving by themselves that the war is on them. Still they can kill some of us but they can't kill our dreams and they can't kill Iraq. No more martial laws and we're ready to give more sacrifices to achieve our ultimate freedom and build democracy.

-By Mohammed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

:: Here’s this week’s round of Arabs’ comments from the forums on the BBC Arabic website.This time the visitors are discussing the murder of Paul Johnson in Saudi Arabia.
Most of the posts came from Saudis of course, the rest came from Egyptians, Iraqis, Jordanians and from people in the Emirates. What caught my attention here was the total absence of comments from Syrians and Palestinians who used to flood the forum with their posts!!
The majority of comments showed frank condemnation and shock but I selected posts that reflect varying points of view and I have to mention that the positive/negative posts ratio you’re going to find below is a little bit less than the actual one I found in the forum.
I hope that reading these comments will provide a better view about the reactions of people who are close to the field where events happen.

“ Thanks to this site for providing this opportunity, especially for us-the Saudis-who are the most concerned about this issue. We are innocent from what those ignorant criminals did.
I’ve studied the Quran and the Hadith of the Prophet and I find nothing that supports the doings of those criminals who are in great need to understand Islam; the religion of forgiveness and kindness before sword and violence”

“Condemning this crime won’t have any real influence on those who are damaging our countries.
Enough talking, yes, the murder of Mr. Johnson is a coward terrorist attack, etc. we, as Muslims and Arabs must agree to say to the whole world NO TO TERRORISM. YES FOR FREEDOM AND REFORMS. The Arab regimes that are oppressing their peoples and depriving them of their freedom must leave peacefully. I believe that these regimes contributed-directly or indirectly-to the foundation of those fanatic groups, especially in KSA that have always encouraged violence elsewhere. My point is that the Arab world will change and his thoughts will change, only if we decided to deal with the origin of the problem (the persistent regimes) not with the branches. Finally my condolences to the family of Mr. Johnson.”

“Each human being has the right to live, no one has the right to deprive him this right no matter what he did unless by a clear law from the creator who brought us to life and changing one’s mind should be done with reason and only reason, not with violence”
Mohammed Shakir-Al-Riyadh/KSA

“Why do all these disturbances appear now in KSA in this particular timing? Isn’t KSA one of the countries that the US want to make changes in them? Who’s going to benefit from this crime? Islam and Muslims? This crime was carried out by Muslims but these are most likely to be hired and there are foreign hands behind them and these should be the ones to be sued.”

“I’m against killing foreigners because they came to our country for work and to serve our country. We can invite them to become Muslims rather than murdering them”
Mohammed Zahrani-KSA.

“Everyone is condemning this crime and saying that it’s against the teachings of Islam but still we’re doing nothing about it. I think that fighting these sick ideas is the clerics’ responsibility; they should start to educate people and they have to announce Fatwas that forbid and condemn murdering innocent people. Why do they clerics spend their time giving Fatwas about kids’ toys while they bury their heads in the sand when their words are needed to save lives”

“Slaughtering the American hostage is much less than what America did to harm Muslims in general and Abu Ghraib prisoners in particular”
Abu Hasan-Qutaif/KSA

“Killing Mr. Johnson is a crime that ignores all the values of humanity”

“ This is a reaction to the American terrorism in the ME”
Ashraf Mohammed/Cairo.

“Terrorism is a serious phenomenon that must be dealt with, not only condemned. All this is because of the wrongful concepts that some clerics, who know nothing about Islam, call for. Moreover, poverty and lack of education create fanaticism. Governors of the Arab and Muslim nations: fear Allah and be fair. May all the fanatics and the radical extremists be damned forever.”
Mohammed Sherif-Baghdad/Iraq.

Facing terrorism with determination.

For decades, South Korean firms worked in Iraq, building many foundations in Baghdad and other cities and there were tens of thousands of Korea’s sons living among us for years and we respected each other. Today we saw a group, possessed by evil, claiming to be loyal to Iraq and Iraqis commit a barbaric action by beheading the Korean hostage claiming that they’re doing this for the sake of Iraqis.

I wish you were here to see the sorrow on the face of any Iraqi when I ask him “was this truly for the sake of Iraqis?”
Al I heard was words like cowards, cruel, disgusting. Most of the replies I heard stressed that those criminals were not Iraqis, everyone feels ashamed of this crime and I tell them: Yes, those were not from Iraq or any other nation on earth. They don’t belong to the human race at all and getting rid of those should be everyone’s duty. Look at them, what’s their public support and who are their allies.
No one ever heard of this group in Iraq before yesterday and this means that it’s a new birth for evil. They fight Iraqis just as they fight others. They want to frighten us as they try to frighten the others. They’re totally rejected and they WILL have no place in the new Iraq.

It hurts to know that some narrow minded governments encouraged those murderers to go on with their plans by complying with their demands. These governments by withdrawing their troops or employees from Iraq fed the terrorists’ lust for violence and made them believe that slaughtering further hostages will do the job.

We must give no sign that makes those terrorists think they’re able to break our determination and we can’t let those murderers force us to give up.
We’re moving with confident and right steps towards building the new free Iraq but a great task like this one is always full of dangers and requires sacrifices.

We’ll see other days of pain and grief but we’ll be satisfied with nothing less than victory and we will not let the blood of your sons and our sons go in vain.
I believe that Korea won a battle today by keeping her promise and keeping the faith that the war of the free world on evil can only be won by confronting it, not by running away.

Our deepest condolences to Kim Sun-Il’s family and to the people and government of South Korea.

By Mohammed.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Here’s a story from David Zadel, a marine in Iraq:

I feel compelled to write of an experience that occurred a month ago. We had recently driven an insurgent force out of a small town north of Fallujah. The insurgent force left without fighting and the town was largely abandoned.
We had expended much effort clearing the town of the weapons and ammunition that the insurgent force had left behind. People in time occupied the town again and we were determined to provide security for those returning.

My platoon and I were on a security patrol in the countryside on the outskirts of the town when one of our vehicles became stuck on a narrow road bordered by a canal. It was in danger of rolling into the water. We had to stop our vehicles which can be very dangerous.

A family that lived nearby came out of their house and began to move toward our patrol. They were smiling and waving. There were children playing everywhere. The women prepared food and the eldest males met with us.
Our vehicle was badly stuck and we needed chains to remove it. At this point, the surrounding families joined us and showed us tremendous hospitality. This is remarkable because often times, local terrorists will sometimes intimidate those who help us or show us kindness.

Without prompting the men brought out shovels and began to dig out the wheels of our vehicle that were stuck. With much effort, working together, we succeeded in removing our vehicle from danger.
It then struck me. In the middle of the Al Anbar province, where so many Marines and Iraqis were dying together in such senseless violence, this one tribe reached out to us. During all that was transpiring around us, the maelstrom of violence in Fallujah, the negative reporting from self-righteous media, and mistrust that arises from unfamiliar cultures, there was this tribe that we shared smiles with and feelings of goodwill.

With a tremendous language barrier they acted without prompting, bribery and without fear of reprisals from terrorists. I believe what I witnessed was humanity in it's truest form. Through their actions alone they seemed to say "we know you are trying. You have shed blood for us and we thank you." When I return to America, I will tell all American civilians that ask: Iraqis are people of honor, compassion and strong family bonds. There is nowhere I would rather be than here.
A Marine

*David Zadel is a Lieutenant in the 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division in Iraq.

Baseball in Iraq.

:: The directorate general of traffic has recently issued a number of decisions to organize the traffic in the streets in Baghdad and other governorates and to monitor the possession and use of vehicles by the citizens. This included declaring that the traffic police will start releasing tickets for drivers who commit certain violations which never happened since the 9th of April as many drivers were acting irrisponsibly and misunderstanding their freedom. For example, a driver who drives on the wrong side of the road, parks his car in the wrong place, drives without a license or his car lacks registration plates will receive a 10000 to 30000 ID ticket. And in order to protect the traffic policemen while doing their job, the ministry of internal declared that anyone found guilty of insulting a traffic policeman will be sentenced to one year in jail while anyone who physically offends a policeman will be sentenced to five years in jail.
Today I noticed and heard from many as well that the traffic was much more smooth and there were almost no traffic jams.

:: For the first time in 14 years, the Iraqi Dinar’s exchange price can be seen on the financial reports of the Arabic channels including the MSNBC Arabiya which is probably the only specialized Arabic TV financial channel. And the fluctuations in the price is being detected daily and theses do not exceed a limit of a few Dinars, actually the Dinar has kept a steady price of 1445 for 1$ during the last week

:: Cell phones service is now available in the south. The network coverage is not full right now but it’s expanding week by week as more towers are constructed. It was very surprising to see a small office advertising for cell phones in the poor village where I work.

:: Some of the readers told me on a previous occasion that they wish to see Iraqis play baseball.
This wish is coming true; last week I saw a report on the Iraqi Al-Sharqiya TV about the first baseball championship in Baghdad. Honestly, I wasn’t aware that we had baseball teams until I saw that report, moreover, it appeared that we also have a team or two for ladies who the channel made a report about.
Anyway, I hope that one day I can understand how this game works!.

:: This one is good for myself and other junior doctors and dentists; there will be a change in the salaries of the ministry of health employees. Senior doctors’ salaries will remain as they are while young doctors will get a relatively good raise; I, for instance will get a 55000 ID raise, so at the end of this month my salary will be 285000 ID instead of 231000 ID and the raise will be added to the salaries of the last five months retrospectively and the accumulated money will be paid next month.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Paul Johnson; you are much closer to Allah than those who kill innocents in his name.

What’s happening and what for!? Why would a man who has committed nothing wrong and not only that, who was giving valuable services to people who live far away from his home, get killed in such a barbarian way?? Why this extreme brutality and disgusting crime that has nothing to do with humanity and that doesn’t fit with any religion or human morals? Why the persistence on using arms of the dark ages in this time and why insisting on spreading those pictures with the horrible details?

I refused to see this picture as I refused before seeing what some of the media insist to show us of pictures of dead and mutilated bodies because I know what’s the purpose behind all of this; it doesn’t terrorize me and the others only. The goal of the terrorists is not just to force the westerns to leave, as by presenting these pictures they seem to want to give us all a terrible shock so that our minds stop and our feelings move…and what feelings??…it’s anger, fear and hate and when we are possessed by such feelings we will cetainly act wrongly.

Yes they want us to act while motivated by hate and ABSOLUTE hate to become just like them, to hate each other without realizing in those angry moments that they’re criminals who do not represent anything but evil itself and not any people or religion. That’s the main objective; let us hate and get angry and disgusted and after that revenge will be the ideal solution to heal our wounded souls. That’s why I refuse to watch these pictures because I know they will certainly provoke some of that in me.

Who are these people? I see that they’re the product of fanaticism that was fed and upgraded by dictatorships in the Muslim world; they are a mutant generation that came as a result of this unholy marriage between retarded religious institutions and brutal dictatorships.

In the recent past people just like these were carrying swords at Saddam’s days, cutting people’s throats for the most trivial reasons. Cutting hands and decapitating is a character of dictatorships that use Islam as a cover to give them legitimacy and to justify their evil wills. It’s a concept that these regimes still try to popularize and one just have to look at the Saudi government. Why do they still use the sword to cut hands and heads of convicted people? Doesn’t this contribute in bringing such a mutant generation to existence?

What happened should make us more determined on pursuing our goals to spread freedom and democracy because they are the only way to destroy the environment that favors the growth of such parasitic creatures and stale convictions. This scene should make us more united, as by allowing hate to dominate we would give those criminals what they want so desperately.

Our sincere condolence to the victim’s family and to the American people, and I want to use a phrase I read today by one of my Iraqi fellow citizens: let those criminals know that their victim is closer to Allah than them.

-By Mohammed.

Sick and stupid dreams.

Another coward aggression in a series of terrorist attacks that targeted the officials in the new government as well as IP, the new army and the ICDC. It has become more than obvious that the purpose of these terrorist attacks is to prevent the emergence of the new, free and democratic Iraqi government. This government represents the most threatening danger to the successors of Saddam’s mentality, and also to Bin ladin’s followers and the dictatorships that surround Iraq. As the date of handing the authority and afterwards the elections gets closer, these criminals get more and more insane to the degree that it no longer can be concealed. This is shown through targeting not only the infrastructure that serves the Iraqi citizen, but also the citizen himself. This citizen has become ready and supportive of the peaceful handover of the authority in a civilized manner, and I can see through smoke and blood that we are winning this battle, we who believe in freedom and democracy and the simple citizen who hopes to be able to choose a leadership that represent him and care about his needs.

Our enemies are losing this battle because-and this has become evident- they have lost the support of the Iraqi people long ago, the people who were so happy and showed no regret when they took of their military uniform and threw away their rifles. Saddam had always tried to militarize the society and make violence the only way to practice authority and made every effort to popularize this as the only method to solve any problem anywhere.

Yes, they have lost the people and now they hide in small islands that our land will expel just as it had expelled Saddam and the Ba’ath.

Some people accuse us of watching negatively without trying to aid in eradicating this retarded group of terrorists and fascists; NO, that’s not true and Thursday’s attack prove this. Those who were killed today were the loyal and true sons of Iraq. They have decided to carry arms and fight within a legal institution that represent the Iraqi people; the Iraqi army. They did this whilst knowing the dangers that standing in these lines carry, as these lines of volunteers were targeted several times and hundreds of Iraqi youths were killed. To me, these are soldiers who have died honorably in a battlefield.

I assure you that these lines will never stop no matter how many times they target them, and I won’t accept what some people may say in that it’s the need that push these Iraqis to stand in these lines, as the terrorists and who finance them are ready to pay several times the salary these brave men are having and for even more simple services and less risky ones. You just have to consider the percentage of the IP and ICDC and Iraqi soldiers that have died since the 9th of April and compare it to that of the people who help the terrorists and you’ll know that their jobs is much more risky, as those who collaborate with the terrorists usually get arrested and not killed, that’s if they were caught.

I must add that the major danger that will face the new Iraqi state in the near future will be dealing with those who have embraced violence and rejected reason and dialogue as a method to achieve their goals (Sadr and his likes). That battle will not be easy and I’m sorry to say that I believe the new government will find itself forced to defend its existence and the interests of Iraqis by using arms, but at the same time it should not make this a general way of how to handle problems so that it can have and maintain the support of the vast majority of the Iraqi people. Here I want to say that I’m optimistic, as the terrible things those militias and all those who support violence have done when they had the chance to control some of the Iraqi cities made the Iraqis hate and resent them, and maybe the great reception that the citizens gave to the IP when they returned to the streets confirm my believe.

I think that the international community should be clear on with whom they’re standing and should support strongly the new Iraqi government, as it has become clearer than ever who is wrong and who is right and there should be absolutely no doubt about who is the evil and who is the good.

Those criminals seem to forget that the weapon in the oncoming battle will be the hearts and minds of the Iraqis and not RPJs or grenades, and I’m sure that these people will not find a place among the Iraqis because it is clear that most of them (Iraqis) support the change and thus support the new government.

These terrorists and fascists and the governments that support them are not only sick but they are also very stupid, as they think they’re accomplishing their goal by inflicting such sever losses and damages among Americans and Iraqis, when it merely have made their defeat closer. Had they fought like men, it would’ve been possible that some naive people would support them in the name of “liberation” and all this nonsense, but now and as they have been targeting mainly Iraq as a government, citizens and the whole country, they’ve lost any chance of achieving their sick dreams; Stopping democracy in Iraq.

-By Mohammed.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Just a guess.

About a month ago, I was watching Al-Iraqyia TV. They were hosting a spokesman of the coalition and the secretary of the Muslim Sunni Cleric Council Harith Muthanna Al-Dhari. They were talking about the revolt in Falujah. That guy was an extremely anti-American fanatic cleric and he didn’t even try to hide his feelings. Still he had two valid points in his argument. They discussed the mutilation of the bodies of the four American contractors and the host asked the sheikh the following questions:

-Do you approve of this action?

-We certainly do not and we have condemned this action.

-How do you explain what happened?!

-As for attacking the contractors, I’ve learned that the people who did it had some relatives killed and imprisoned by the American army. It was a tribal revenge issue, and as far as I know these were not contractors, they were serving with the American army and thus they are legitimate targets for the resistance. What happened later was an act of the mob and you know common people don’t usually consider what they do and follow any stupid and enraged action that release the pressure they have especially when there’s no police to fear.

-Is it true that Fallujah harbor most of the ex-Baathists and Saddam followers and that these are the bulk of the so-called resistance?

-No, that’s absolutely not true. We were always against Saddam and his regime.

-Come on Saddam named Al-Anbar as one of the “white governorates” because its people didn’t take part in the uprising in 1991, and you have had many pro-Saddam demonstrations since the 9th of April there!

-Now that’s not true and let me tell you something you may not know. First there were only two demonstration supporting Saddam after he was caught and that’s how they happened: Soon after Saddam was captured, a reporter from one of the Arab satellite channels, and I don’t want to mention its name, came downtown, gathered a bunch of teenagers, handed each one of them 20US $ and gave them some pictures of Saddam. He then asked them to shout and dance and made a great report out of it. The same thing happened again in exactly the same manner!

Such perspective seems to be valid as it comes from such a source, and I’m quoting this today because I think that what happened yesterday doesn’t differ much from what happened in Fallujah and most of the ugly scenes the media was so keen to show us. The people who were dancing and throwing rocks at the burned cars were common She’at (as it was obvious from their Latmia; the religious ceremony that’s practiced by the common She’at) who ‘happened’ to be there and I guess that these were mainly Muqtada’s followers. As to how they knew about what was going to happen, then I guess this is something that the reporters can help us with. It’s also well known that Muqtada have very strong –and very unexpected- relations with the Wahabbis.

Such disgusting actions happen everywhere in the world and they are only very evident in Iraq because of the difficult security problems and the fact that the media concentrate on this particular scene. These people want us to believe that Iraqis are not worth it, that they hate America and that this process is a total failure, but what should we believe? Can we just dare and question their perspectives? Do we have independent minds that can guide us to see the whole picture? Aren’t there so many positive achievements that happened in Iraq in the past year? If all Iraqis were against the change or they were dormant, then how come all this has been accomplished!? Can we just stop and ask ourselves why the terrorists are so interested in showing their actions filmed to the world?!

These people want us to lose faith in each other and they get help from many countries in the region who are afraid of the change and from some democratic countries that hate the fact that America is on the top. They also get help from many of the major American media who seem to care for nothing other than money.

They tell us that GWB want the world to live in fear through his continuous preach for war on terror. I want to say that GWB and his administration have done the right thing for America, Iraq, the region and the whole world. You may disagree with the way they are managing this but we shouldn’t let your feelings stop you from seeing the truth, and I’m very heartened when I see so many democrats supporting their governments in Iraq. On the other hand, the anti-war people, media and governments want us to give up, they want us to believe that it’s useless, that Iraqis don’t deserve the sacrifices, that the Americans are in Iraq for the oil and that all the American soldiers abuse and hate Iraqis. They want us to live in peace, their peace, with each one of us hiding behind a wall and pointing his gun to the others, “all Muslims are terrorists” “Iraqis are barbarians who don’t understand democracy” “Americans are in Iraq to control oil wells” “this is Hlliburton’s war not ours” they keep shouting. It’s amazing that these people always claim to support peace, freedom and democracy when they don’t even have a vision of how to make that happen! But the truth to be told, they’re one hell of a chorus!

I’ve decided long ago not to trust what these people say and what the media shows me. I’ve decided not to even watch Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabyia. I decide to love and trust the others and not to allow small events committed by few ignorant to shape my views about a whole nation. No my friends, I refuse to be trapped in this momentary dark picture that's far from convincing and that's not just because I'm an Iraqi, it's because I can't let anyone tell me what to believe in.

-By Ali.

Monday, June 14, 2004

The Iraqi trap

Some people think that the American officials didn’t expect such fierce fight from the Islamic groups that keep flowing into Iraq from almost all directions after toppling Saddam. They say that the American army have fell into a trap in Iraq. I want to say that I agree on Iraq being a trap, only it’s a trap for the terrorists not the Americans.

Given their belief in that the war on Saddam and establishing democracy in Iraq was the key stone in combating terrorism, the American administration surely had expected (not planned) this situation as a result of freeing Iraq. The American administration said it more than once that it’s better to fight terrorism outside America than wait until being forced to fight it inside her borders.

This war is good for America in many ways; it eliminated a potential danger, it gives America a good and very much needed ally in the heart of a hostile area, one that is a ‘member of the family’, unlike Israel and Turkey, it secures American interests in the region and makes America safer by attracting the main efforts of the terrorists away from her borders and by building a sort of a nucleus for a democratic Arab Muslim world that will surely diminish the dreadful threat of a combined terrorism and WMDs.

Here comes the question: why Iraq? What’s there about Iraq that makes here the best location for such a battle?

To start with, and from the political point of view, Saddam’ regime was one of the weakest regimes in the world with a very limited support whether from outside or inside Iraq and this fact made that regime much easier to topple than any other dictatorship. The other fact is that in almost all Arab and Muslim countries, the opposition is mainly formed of Islamic parties which makes the change rather dangerous, as it may well result in a theocracy that’s if those parties were ready to accept the change and didn’t fight the “infidels” side by side with their oppressors the dictators since “they’re still Muslims”.

It’s true there are Islamic groups in Iraq and some of them are radical but they’re still much weaker than anywhere else in the Muslim world and are far from being the majority and most of them have accepted democracy even if they dream of a theocracy since they know they have no chance in making their dreams come true with only a minority of Iraqis on their side. Even geography favors Iraq being a plain area with no jungles or mountains that favors the guerrilla fighting (except in the very friendly northern parts).

Now America is of course paying a high price in this battle but it has to be done and it’s incomparable to what she would lose had she decided to leave the terrorists alone. Not only the American officials have agreed that they can afford this high price, as most of the soldiers I’ve met or heard seem to accept and respect their mission along with their families, friends and many other Americans.

That’s about the Americans, but what about the Iraqis? What will they win and what will they lose? Well, the Iraqis have lost and will lose many lives as a result of the terrorist attacks in addition to the economic losses. In return, and at the end of this struggle, they will win their freedom, democracy and prosperity.

From the technical point of view and if we count on numbers and statistics, Iraqis' losses in lives are much less than the regular losses during Saddam’s times with different reasons, and regarding economy and despite the damages that the terrorists are causing, Iraqis' average income is increasing day by day. Iraqis' money was never their money, it was Sadam’s and now it’s back to them. Still this sounds cruel, as does anyone have the right to put Iraqis lives into such “chaos” and risk just because he saved them from a worse situation?!

I think the answer to this question is NO, since it’s still up to the Iraqis to decide between going the hard way or giving up, ask the Americans to leave and go back to “safe” sheep’s life, to the organized and controlled torture, rape, murder and humiliation. This is not very difficult to acieve, it's enough to stop cooperating with the coalition and demonstrating to ask them to leave. The coalition may not oblige but they will certainly lose.

I, being an Iraqi have accepted the challenge and I’m not alone; hundreds of thousands of IP, soldiers, officials and workers in different fields have decided the same by doing their job, cooperating with the coalition and marching persistently towards building their country, maintaining their freedom and embracing the changes towards democracy. Other Millions of Iraqis are supporting this process each in his own way.

We didn’t take the decision of the war, that’s right, but we’ve accepted it with full knowledge of the consequences and that’s why you cannot see one large demonstration asking the coalition to leave. We gained our freedom, after Saddam’s fall almost for free, as most of the enormous losses we suffered before that time were not the result of real attempts to gain freedom; they were in most times the result of mere disapproval with the Ba’athists or were part of the systematic killing to maintain the paralyzing fear at a maximum. Maybe it’s time to pay and this time we are ready because we are free from that fear after seeing the weakness of our enemies and we have seen what we were missing and are not ready to lose it no matter what happens. We will pay the price and we will not surrender or compromise, we will fight and we will win.

-By Ali.
Iraqi soldiers save U.S. marine. I don't know why all we get (all of us) is pictures of a bunch of idiots throwing bricks at burned cars. Why don't they cover such stories!? Now of course I'm not surprised, I'm only disgusted by the attitude of the major media.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

I think those who wonder what might be the Arab people response to the big ME project and the demand for reforms in the ME should listen to the Arab people, not the Arab governments or Arab press. Trying to offer as much as I can in this respect, I've translated some of the responses I found in the BBC Arabic forum and although they may not be viewed as very promising, they are no way consistent with what we hear in the Arab media. As expected the most welcoming replies came from Iraq and the worst from Palestine and in between those extremes, came the replies from other Arab countries. The only thing that surprised me was that many posters from Saudi Arabia were optimistic and showed much better understanding and acceptance than the rest of the Arab countries. Here are some of these posts:

It's understandable that the Arab rulers would refuse the reforms in a western style (although I'm sure they refuse reforms in an Arabic style, if there's anything like that) but what is not understandable is that the Arab citizens would refuse the reforms just because they come from the others. I think the Arab people refuse the reforms that come from outside just because their rulers made them accustomed to look negatively to whatever comes from there, and I think the only ones who lose from rejection of the reforms that come from outside and that is mixed with rejection of the reforms from inside too, are the Arab people.
As for Bush, I think he has thrown the ball in the Arab governments' court (in his press conference) when he said that he believed that the reforms should suit the culture of the people. So do you think that any Arab government will be serious in making any change without the American pressure?! I doubt it, and I think the USA in her call for reforms in the Arab world is like someone trying to carve in a solid rock.


When I hear terms like freedom and democracy, I feel like there's a silly play America is trying to sell, just to laugh at the Arab people, because the Arab people have known these hollow terms that don't express what they mean.

Abdullah-Khan Yunis/Ghaza.

During the past 50 years, the pan-Arab nationalists and the Arab monarchy have been leading the Arab world, the first saying "we are the socialist who look for Arab unity and development…" and the Monarchists made their countries their own property and both have been ruling by fire and iron fist, so enough and a thousands times enough and I wish the super powers move to save the Arab people from this nonsense.
Tariq Abdul-Hameed-Dubai.

What's the common thing among the Arab rulers who refuse the invitation to the G8 summit? None of them got the power through elections, therefore any initiative that may push towards democracy and justice and the basic citizen's rights must be not only rejected by them, but also considered as a danger to the state's security and peace.

Muhannad Al-Magreesi-Tripoli /Libya.

I think that the change should come from outside and that's because of the dictatorial nature of the Arab rulers and because they only care about their personal interests.


America reforms the ME? And for who's interest? Is it for the interest of the Arab people? Of course not, it will be for the benefit of Israel by bringing rulers who serve Israel and America in the first place and create a spoiled generation in the region that will not care about the future.


If we cannot make the change by ourselves, then why not let the others help us? Let's put the faked pride aside. It's because of our silence and fear from the change that we went through all of this, we were insulted, tortured and our women were raped by our rulers, those who surpassed everyone in destroying their own people so that the wont be able to face them "He who fears to climb mountains, will live his whole life in holes". Let's allow the others to help us climb the first rock towards the top.

Abu-Amir Al-Abbassi-Samawa/Iraq.

Who took away the freedom from the people? It's the regimes and they don't represent their people anywhere you go in the Arab world. They're only opportunistic minorities that live by sucking the people's blood. The change will not come from these regimes, not without strong pressures from outside. The regimes that are asked to make the changes are the main source of all the corruption so how can we expect from the disease to make a change itself in a way that brings the cure!? Here's the Saudi minister of internal affairs reply to the people who demand reforms saying, "You want a democracy that put Prince Abdullah on the shelf??" This is their attitude, so how can you expect from people who think in this way to make true reforms?!

Saad Al-Saadi/Jidah/Saudi Arabia.

The fact that the Arab people may refuse the reforms is a dangerous flaw. If our customs and traditions do not allow Democracy, freedom and social justice, then to the Hell with such traditions. Besides, what did the Arab governments offer to solve the Palestinian issue, for instance, so that we should wait for them to make the change now!? We should start the change now or else the number of Arabs living in western countries will be more than those living in the Arab countries and then you can feel happy with your traditions and "historical issues" in countries with not citizens!

Mohammed Muhsin/Iraqi in Dubai.

Those who question the possibility of a reform that comes from outside should look at Iraq now. Is there a single Arab who enjoys the same freedom we have now? Any politician no matter how high he is in position is prone to be questioned and fail politicaly if he wasn't faithful to the people, and if Iraq was spared the terror from outside, many regimes would've collapsed without the need for a G8 summit to deal with the Arab situations.

Majid Muhammed/Baghdad/Iraq.

The Arab people are incapable of reforming their system for many reasons:
-The regimes that maintain firm grips on the power and who will make the same old excuses, "It's not the right time" and that they have more important issues like "liberating Palestine" which has become an excuse for every misery.
-The so-called Arab intellectuals and thinkers have ideologies that they refuse to debate and some of them use these to defend and justify the presence of the dictators.
-The opposition in most Arab countries is mainly from radical Islamic groups that try to drag us back a thousand years with their blind hatred.
-The Arab street is hopeless and deceived and cannot tell right from wrong and seem to agree on one thing and that is hatred for America and wishing her downfall, sympathizing with criminals like Saddam, Bin Ladin, Hamas, Jihad and Hizbullah, therefore there should be a strong pressure from outside and especially from America and Europe on the ME governments to make radical changes and these should be political, economic, social and educational.

Mohammed Al-Khafaji/Babylon/Iraq.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Democracy and the Arab regimes.

As a reaction to the big ME project and the American plans of political reformations in the Arab world; many voices grew loud rejecting and criticizing these plans.
And in the midst of this clamor, one sentence seems to be dominating the speeches of the Arab regimes' campaign for keeping their kingdoms far from the reach of democracy:
"Democracy can not be imposed on a nation from outside. Our people will never let foreigners tell them how to lead their countries"

Establishing a democracy, in my opinion, is not a matter of addition, on the contrary; it's a process of removing restrictions off the will of a nation's people. And in our case, these restrictions are enforced by the governments and absolutely were not chosen by the people and this explains the Arab governments fear from the reformation plans because they (the plans) form a direct threat to the heads of those governments among whom no one came to power by the people's will.

They also didn't forget to use the traditional conspiracy theory weapon; describing the big ME project as the western imperialist conspiracy to cut away the Arabs from their cultural and intellectual legacy, wash their youths' brains by introducing the venoms of the "evil" western culture into their lives so that they give up the "historical dream of a great, united Arab nation".

Those dictators believe that "imposing democracy" in fact, means driving their totalitarian regimes to loosen their grips over their countries' citizens and forcing them to give the people one of their simple basic rights, the right to choose their leadership.

They say that the change must come from inside. OK, that's fine but the Arab people have been waiting for half a century to see these changes come from inside but unfortunately they didn't. Why? Because every time this file is opened, the leaders say "shut up, wait until we solve our central issue and then we'll take a look back at our internal affairs. We have no urgent problems to solve and our people are living well". Can anyone tell me why Egypt is being ruled by martial emergency laws since 1981? And why Iraq was in a similar condition since 1958, and has only witnessed freedom through "invasion"? You can say similar things about civil rights in Libya, Syria, Sudan…etc

I believe it was possible to find a solution for that this "central issue" which is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict soon after it started if we had democracies in the region. But the continued presence of these regimes was always inflaming the situation as the dictators and their clerics kept pouring oil on the fire.
Still I think these regimes can't stop what's natural. The people's lust for freedom and the support of the free world led by the USA are too strong to stop, and democracy will come *with help* from outside.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

The first test.

The Security Council resolution about Iraq was a huge step forward, as besides giving the new Iraqi government the international recognition it need; it will reduce the problems that are facing the coalition and Iraqis in rebuilding Iraq and establishing democracy. One of the benefits of obtaining international legitimacy is that the so-called resistance will no longer be viewed as so by the majority whether outside or inside Iraq.

This is a great achievement for the coalition and Iraqis, and I consider this as an achievement for Iraqis because without their leaders’ efforts and the almost unified support and acceptance of Iraqis for the new government, it would’ve been impossible to make this success.

To give the Iraqi government the legitimacy will certainly weaken the position of those who claim to be defending Iraq by fighting the coalition and turning into a war zone.

However, most Iraqis do not look as excited about it as the rest of the world and this comes because of two reasons; first because Iraqis didn’t look very seriously at this resolution and were mainly concerned with whether the USA will fulfill her promises in allowing the formation of the new government and the authority hand-over. When one recalls that the USA went to topple Saddam without authorization from the Security Council, it becomes comprehensible why Iraqis don’t take the UN and the Security Council that serious, although many of them still want the international community to play a bigger role in the Iraqi scene.

The second point is that as the date of hand-over and the elections get nearer, different ethnic groups are becoming more anxious about the future. In regard to the last resolution, the major players are the Kurds and the conservative Sheát.
These two components of the Iraqi community have suffered the most at the hands of Saddam, and they were not privileged as well during the period when Arab Sunni or powers from outside Iraq ruled Iraq. Their sufferings go back for centuries.

In my opinion, this dispute between the Kurds and the Sheát comes from old fears that although justified psychologically, should not really be considered this much in reality.
Beside that, each one of these parties have their own dreams; the Kurds want independence and the Sheát want as much control as possible in any new government as they think the fact that they’re the majority (55-60% according to most reasonable guesses) gives them this right.
Fears and dreams have been, and still, govern the reactions and future views of the majority of both parts.

I must say I do sympathize greatly with both and I understand their dreams, only I can’t see these dreams as good for anyone, including these parties.
If the Kurds got their independence, the result will weaken the rest of Iraq and will not result in the creation of a strong and prosperous Kurdish state. As we know, this is absolutely unacceptable for Iraq’s neighbors and such state, with no outlet to the sea, limited resources, and hostile environment, is doomed to failure.
However, I do support the Kurdish demands in taking preventive measures against a possible majority dictatorship.

I think that many Sheát and Kurds have understood that there’s no way that these dreams can come true and I’ve noticed also that some are already showing more understanding to the other parties’ rights, fears and dreams and the number of people seeing this reality is increasing everyday, still there are some parties that are trying to take advantage of such emotionally-provoked dreams and use them to strengthen their own positions among their citizens by keeping loyalty to religion and ethnicity.

The scene may look scary now as both parts are holding to their dreams and still earnestly looking to make them come true, since their dreams interfere with each other and with those of other components of the Iraqi society as well.

Still, I'm optimistic about what's happening and I have reasons to be so:
The only fact that the majority of Iraqis are working hard in perusing their dreams shows a lot; it shows that Iraqis, after all, do trust that the USA will hand them the authority despite all what we hear in the media about the "hatred and distrust among Iraqis" when it comes to the USA. It also shows that Iraqis worry but also have hopes and dreams, they're not apathetic and they're dealing actively with what's happening in their country.

The other fact is that neither part did resort or even threaten to use violence to achieve their goals. They didn't go further than demonstrating and showing their disapproval in statements made by their current representatives.

We're witnessing what may be the first real test facing the Iraqis in dealing with their conflicting interests and ambitions. Asking the USA for help or interference will not do as America should not, and will not, interfere with such issue except if that was needed to prevent events from taking a violent course, since the USA is really interested in building a real democracy in Iraq and this can only come through solid agreements among different parts of the Iraqi society that make them work in accordance with each other serving both, their private interests as separate groups and Iraq as a whole.

Again I say that I do sympathize with the She'at's ambitions in having the majority in any future government with preserving the minority's rights and I do support a federal state, although I don't agree with the emotions behind such classifications (ethnic and religious)that separate Iraqis from each other and I don't see any real democracy coming out of it, but it's a temporary state in which all parts need reassurance until they get over their horrid memories and come to see the beauty and benefit of a liberal democracy.And then they will stop seeing themselves as *just* Shea'ts or Kurds and will start to have more faith in their future as Iraqis.

This dispute still carries dangers as there are so many governments and powers that hate to see a true democracy in Iraq and will not spare an effort to further inflame any disagreement or distrust among Iraqis since they have their dreams too, bringing civil war to Iraq. Still Iraqis should settle this issue by themselves and if we fail then it will be our failure and we should deal with it and we'll certainly learn from it what can serve us better in the future.

-By Ali.

(P.s. This is our first post from our home. Thanks a lot to all the good people who made it possible through their donations to help us keep and promote our site.)

Monday, June 07, 2004

:: This sounds good. I believe it's a good step on the way to build the civil society which must be militia-free. No one should possess military power other than the government.
There are two more advantages in this agreement; the first one is that those militia s' men are well trained (especially the Kurdish guys) and their melting into the state army will add to its efficiency, and size of course.
The second one is that there will be no excuse for other groups to keep their militias, for example, Muqtada used to say "why me? Tell the other parties to disband their militias". Now, there will be only him and the remnants of the thugs in Fallujah and they will be eventually exposed to greater pressures with no more cards in their hands to play.
Also from the story:
"The U.S.-led coalition tried to persuade the militias to disband last year but failed because leaders were unwilling to give up their armed fighters at a time of deteriorating security."
I guess this indicates an interesting change in the Iraqi parties' evaluation about the security condition in the country.

:: At last, after all the great efforts and work done by Tom Villars and as a result of the appreciable patience he showed, I was able to have access to the donations' money this morning. I received a first payment of (975 $) and this money will make me able to subscribe for good speed internet service at home and when this happens, I'll have uninterrupted access to the internet 24 hours a day. I'm planning also to purchase other stuff like a flash ram and an efficient UPS to overcome the electricity problems.
Now, after we succeeded with the first transfer process, the other bloggers (AYS, Sarmad and Alaa) will be able to get their accumulated donations' funds and make use of them.
Many thanks to Tom and to all the readers who supported this blog with their generous donations.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Me? a terrorist?!

This is what happened yesterday morning when I headed towards Kut to get my salaries after months of paper work ( 7 months’ salaries!):

My father had some business in Kut so I awakened him up early in the morning and we headed towards Kut. I took my digital camera with me, as I thought I could take some nice and interesting pictures on the road. The first picture that I took was of the ministry of transport that is now under reconstruction after being looted and burned soon after the war.
Then I saw this sign that says, “This bridge was destroyed by the terrorists and it has been rebuilt by the 20th Engineering Battalion of the 1st. cavalry division as a gift to the Iraqi people”. I thought it might be seen as an interesting shot for some readers, and it was more than interesting, only not for the readers!.

After about 2 hours of driving we arrived at Al-Hai, which is a small town that lies about 60 km to the south-west of Kut on the road to Nassiriyah. This old, two track road is being promoted now to become a Highway.

After about half an hour of waiting and paper work, they gave me 5 of my unpaid 7 months’ salaries and said that they will pay me the remaining two with the next month salary. At last!
We drove back to Baghdad and I saw this caravan of camels on the road and I decided to take another picture of them.

As we entered Kut again I saw a group of American soldiers and IP guarding the main bridge on the road. I thought of taking some pictures for them, but I was sane enough to disregard it as I thought it was not a wise thing to do. However I was not that wise and did take a picture for the bridge just after passing by the soldiers. It appeared later that one of them saw me taking pictures and contacted the IP, gave them our descriptions and asked them to investigate the issue. I knew all about it later.

After few minutes and just as we were passing through the city, an IP patrol followed us and waved for us to stop. I thought that there was a mistake or something like that. We stopped and an IP officer stepped down from the car and headed towards me. He asked me to give him the camera, which was still in my hand, and I did. He asked me to step out of the car and asked me:
-Why are you taking pictures?
-Huh!? Because I want to!
-What are you looking for?
-Nothing, just taking pictures.
He looked at the pictures that I had saved and handed the camera to another officer, who looked at me and said:
-Why did you take pictures of the bridge?
-What’s wrong with that!?
-Don’t you know that terrorists targeted this bridge more than once?
- I know that, but I didn’t take a picture of any military facility, coalition soldiers or IP members. You can see that I only took pictures for sites under construction and some shots of the nature here.
-Where are you from and what are you doing here and why are you taking photos?
Here things started to look ugly, but I wasn’t worried and the IP guys were still polite, although very skeptic.
-I’m from Baghdad and I’m here to get my salary and I’m taking those pictures about reconstruction to put on in my website.
-What’s your job and where do you work?
-I’m a doctor and I work in Baghdad.
-You work in Baghdad and you get your salary from Kut?!
Now it was his turn for “huh!?” and I can’t say I blame him!
-Can you show me an ID, please?
I gave him an ID card, which I unusually (and luckily) was carrying.
-Where’s your union card? And this one doesn’t prove you’re a doctor.
-No it doesn’t, but it shows I’m an IRAQI CITIZEN and not a terrorist.
-Ok, ok, no need to shout. Please we need you to come with us to the police station.
-Why? What’s my charge!?
-There’s no charge, not yet. We are just going to make sure of your ID and what you said.

We were tired and my father was annoyed and started to lecture the officer about the citizen’s rights, but as it didn’t help much and was only going to keep us even longer, I tried to calm my father and convinced him that we better cooperate. One of the officers rode with us in our car and we headed to the police station. During that I was able to hear voices on the walkey talky telling other units about “2 suspects in a new white car. One of them has a camera.”!

As we reached the police station, they took us directly to the chief. He was a colonel. My father introduced himself and told him that he was a retired military officer. I don’t remember the colonel’s name, as I was thinking how strange and funny that I, among everyone else, become a suspect as a terrorist!! I thought about telling them that I was killing myself in advocating the war on terrorism and that I was called a CIA agent and a traitor for that, but I thought that I had said enough crap already.

The colonel was gentle and asked us to have seat, then the young officer who brought us told him about our “case”. The colonel said, “why did you bring them here? This is not my business. Take them to the headquarters”.

We went out and the young officer said that he was going to make a file for us and send us to the headquarters. I told him that we were in a hurry and that he can delete the pictures if he wanted. He said that he couldn’t do that “how do I know you’re not a terrorist or cooperating with them? I’m sorry but we can’t trust people this easy, not with all this strange information you’ve been giving us”.

Here my father was furious again and said to the officer:
-So you are fighting terrorism? You are terrorizing people.
The officer didn’t reply! A senior officer was passing by and stopped to see what was going on. We explained the whole thing to him and he took the camera, looked at the pictures and said” it’s ok, let them go”!! The young officer looked at him in doubt and asked “are you sure it’s ok, Sir?!” the senior officer confirmed it and apologized to us, so did the young one after that. My father was about to lecture them again when I stopped him, shook hands with the officers and asked them if I can take a picture for them. “Oh no, you’re going to make a scandal out of it in your site”.

As we drove again towards Baghdad, I noticed that my father was still upset so I said, “dad, take it easy! Just think what it would have looked like if it had happened at Saddam’s time”
“Nothing would’ve happened at those times, because you wouldn’t dare to take pictures in the streets”

Well, he was right. I didn’t take any pictures on the way back and as I was examining the camera to see if anything was damaged, I took a look at the pictures to see if they had deleted any, and God I felt lucky that they didn’t notice this!.

By Ali.

Saturday, June 05, 2004

:: I plan to make quoting from Iraqis' comments on the BBC Arabic forum a weekly corner of this blog (or when there's a hot topic). It's one of the ways to show opinions of Iraqis other than those usually not seen in the western media (although this site is a part of the western media but as it is in Arabic so I don't think many people in the west can benefit from it. This time the comments are related to the main topic on the Iraqi field; the formation of the interim government.

I noticed that there were more positive comments from Arabs this time than in the past weeks but I also noticed that most of the negative ones came from Syria (largest share) while there's a remarkable change in attitude in the comments coming from KSA, Egypt or Jordan. Another observation was that negative comments from Iraqis decreased significantly also and actually I could find only one comment of those.

“Congratulations to the Iraqi people, may the future bring more happiness.
Lie no.1: we’ll crush the Americans at the gates of Baghdad. Fact: the regime ran away and fell apart without resistance and the regime’s head tried to flee to save himself with a couple of hundred millions of dollars.

Lie no. 2: the heroic leader is the courageous son of a tribe and he’ll fight to the last breath. Fact: he surrendered in a rat hole without shooting a single bullet.

Lie no.3: the objective of the American invasion is the Balkanization of Iraq. Fact: Iraq wasn’t divided as some wished to see.

Lie no.4: the Americans will plant hate and mistrust among She’at, Sunni and Kurdish Iraqis to make Iraqi another Lebanon. Fact: no civil war-that the terrorists wanted to provoke- happened.

Lie no.5: Iraq was invaded to let America steal Iraq’s oil and control the prices. Fact: oil prices increased and the (oil coupons scandal) pointed out the actual thieves who stole Iraq’s oil while under sanctions.

Lie no.6: Iraq was invaded to put a hand on Iraqi’s money. Fact: 68 billion dollars were assigned from America’s budget to cover the expenses of the troops and the reconstruction in addition to another 25 billion dollars assigned this month.

Lie no. 7: the explosions and random killings were fabricated by the Americans to postpone the sovereignty hand-over to Iraqis. Fact: the interim government was formed and the new president was chosen a month before the planned hand-over date.”
Jihad – Iraqi in USA.

“Discussing the political side of any subject should cover all the facts on the ground related to this subject; otherwise it will be unrealistic and lacking reason. The subject of the new Iraqi government, till now, is only a breeze of hope to put our feet on the right direction and this is also a phase to test the dedication of those men until the day of future elections. By reviewing the plans announced by Dr. Allawi regarding the coming eight months (if he succeeded to implement them), peace and comfort almost kick fear out of our hearts.”
Nadhom Mohammed – Baghdad/Iraq.

“The government that that the US put in charge can-in no way-be the beginning of a change towards democracy because democracy and freedom pave the road for the countries of the region towards progress in industry, the thing that America doesn’t want to occur.”

Mohammed – Syria.

“I don’t understand how could a government be independent when it’s chosen by the occupier? What I fear as an Arab is that Iraq might turn to be a dagger in our nation’s back”
Firas – Syria.

“My reply is directed to the two gentlemen, Mohammed and Firas from Syria: actually I want to state here that the Syrians are the last to have the right to criticize the new Iraqi government. Whatever this government’s nature is; the president didn’t heir the throne from his father. Your house is built of glass, gentlemen and you know it’s not difficult to smash it.”
Aws Al-Husainy – Nasiriyah/Iraq.

“To our Arab brothers, let’s imagine that an Arabic brother nation or even an Islamic nation came to Iraq, spent her money and sacrificed her sons’ blood to save the Iraqis from Saddam. Would that savior nation leave Iraqis alone after that?
I believe that America wants a democracy in Iraq but within known limits just to ensure that there will be no threat to her interests in the future. Part from that, there will be plenty of space for Iraqis to move within which opens real new horizons for a better future. As far as I know, this is all what any human being-not suffering from paranoia or still holding ancient slogans-wish.”
Mudhir Hussain – Baghdad.

“I believe that the sovereignty hand-over WILL happen, even if it needs several stages and this is just a matter of time. Dictatorship has gone forever and we’re not feeling sorry for that.
We support Yawer because he’s an educated, open-minded man and he descends from a respectable family. He has moderate perspectives and we expect him to use this feature to approximate Iraqis’ opinions and we’ll support him in his mission although he’s a ceremonial president as I heard.

As for the cabinet, I think that despite the fact that it was formed without elections and we do disagree with the formation in some points but it’s much better than most of the Arabic governments’ formations. I hope that Allawi succeeds in improving the economic and security situations. And I think that if he succeeded to do so he may have a chance to be elected with his cabinet next year. Otherwise we shall stand in his face but through voting boxes (like in other democracies) not through violence.

One last thing to say: we, in Iraq, have learnt the lesson and we’re not going to praise and clap to anyone and no one can force us to do so no matter what his place is. The road to dictatorships starts with clapping”
Mohammed – Baghdad.

:: At last, a day of peace and happiness in Najaf after two months of fear and blood.
I can't describe how happy the Najafis were when they appeared on TV welcoming the IP forces that started to patrol the streets after Muqtada's militia left the city. I don't know if that scene was shown on western media or not but to me, their celebrations were similar to those Najafis had when they got rid of Saddam a year ago. I Hope this joy lasts for a long, long time.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

:: On the shores of the Tigris River sits 40 acres of prime real estate which recently was home to a compound used by Saddam Hussein's secret police.
Now, a retired U.S. Navy commander is leading the charge to turn the remnants of the police camp into a first-class camp and training facility for Boy Scouts in Iraq, and have Scouting flourish once again in the region.
:: This article was wrote and sent to us by one of our fine American readers who seem to have a broad experience in political and economic fields. He pointed out an interesting idea about using oil revenues to enhance the democratic changes in Iraq and the feeling of Iraqis that they're part of this country, as many Iraqis have lost this feeling over decades and lost trust in a better future and in any government's promises.

A Silver Bullet: Empowering the Iraqi People

As complex and agonizing as the situation in post-war Iraq is, there is a way forward.
In fact, there is a “silver bullet” – a policy action that would go far to win the confidence of Iraq’s people who hold the key to lasting peace. It is a policy declaration that would cost nothing. Yet it would, at a stroke, offer immediate, tangible benefits and hope for a better future to the Iraqi people. It might also offer a model for reform in oil-rich nations all over the world.

Together with the new Iraqi authorities, we should announce – soon -- that the new government will "personalize" the nation's oil revenues by establishing an Iraqi national investment trust – call it The Iraqi People's Trust -- that will receive a major share -- say, 50% -- of all future Iraqi oil earnings. The balance of future oil revenues would go directly to central government and regional governments on a per capita basis to be negotiated later.

The models for the People’s Trust would be the Singapore Provident Fund and the existing Alaska Permanent Fund through which all citizens of Alaska receive an annual check, representing their share of that state's oil revenue. The effect -- immediately -- would be to establish irrefutably that the U.S. is NOT waging this war to somehow steal Iraqi oil, but rather intends to redirect this resource to the benefit of the Iraqi people themselves directly. One person at a time.

Each Iraqi -- man, woman or child -- would be eligible for a personal investment account in
the trust once they register as citizens of New Iraq. This is actually a fairly straightforward
administrative issue to handle -- given modern computing capacity, storage, record-keeping and biometric ID systems. The effort to register citizens for their Trust Fund benefits could go hand in hand with election registration.

Funds in the People’s Trust could be invested in New Iraq government bonds – further leveraging central government financial power – or in domestic equities, venture capital investments in Iraq or international equity markets. But legal ownership will be vested in each individual Iraqi, not the tribe, clan, or regional power-broker – but each individual Iraqi. Any Iraqi over age 21 would be allowed to withdraw funds or borrow against their balances at any time, for any reason at all.

The creation of such a fund would give all Iraqis a clear sense of the profound policy difference between liberators and corrupt thieves like the Ba'ath regime who exploited, stole and misused oil revenues in ways that infuriate ordinary Iraqis -- and endangered the world. It would give the new state administration of free Iraq an immediate, directly appealing way to register citizens -- and voters -- and to reward their loyalty. And it would, of course, answer the charge that this war is being fought, somehow, to take over Iraq’s oil for the benefit of outsiders.

By ensuring that all adult Iraqis have access to a locally significant source of money – the fund would spur entrepreneurship, revitalize the national economy, distribute real resources to the most remote and poorest regions of the country and create a very strong interest among all ethnic and confessional groups and tribes in ensuring their nation's future stability.

We're not talking small money here. Once its oil facilities are repaired and production is
ramped up, New Iraq can look forward to pumping as much as 5 million barrels a day -- $73 billion a year at today’s price of $40 a barrel. Even at far lower prices, 50% of Iraq’s oil exports would amount to roughly $1,000 a year per person per year...and undrawn funds would accumulate for young people to even more significant sums -- until they came of age...

The adoption of such a policy, properly structured and publicized, would
have the kind of impact -- in Iraq and on world opinion -- that Lincoln's emancipation
proclamation did on the domestic politics and international diplomacy of the American Civil War – redefining that struggle from a struggle over regional power to a moral struggle over slavery. Promising a share of their own resources to Iraqis could be the same kind of profoundly moral -- and revolutionary -- stroke.

What is amazing – and deeply disappointing – is that while senior Bush administration figures, including the President himself, Secretary of State Powell and Ambassador Paul Bremer have broadly endorsed the idea of ensuring that oil revenues benefit Iraqis, they have done little to flesh it out – or implement it. Yet it is difficult to conceive a policy action that could better clarify what it means to "liberate" Iraq and empower its people.

Oil is the dominant resource in Iraq, accounting for the vast majority of the nation’s economy.. The use – and misuse -- of oil revenue from it has been a central element of Iraqi politics for generations. And as has been the case in many nations, centralized government control over oil and all of its revenues in Iraq has been both the financial base for tyranny and a spur to horrendous corruption, rent-seeking, and capital flight for ill-gotten gains. That means reform in the distribution of oil revenue is central to winning the peace, indeed oil revenues are to Iraq what land reform was to post-war Japan.

The “curse” of windfall wealth is not unique to Iraq. Sudden oil wealth has done similar damage to societies from Angola to Nigeria, to Venezuela to the Persian Gulf. Observers of such distorted petro-kleptocracies sometimes refer to oil as "the Devil's Excrement." Yet we can – and should – act now to reverse this “curse”. By delivering real benefits from their own resources not just to a political elite – but directly to the Iraqi people – we could foster the rise over time of a broad-based, democratic middle class. We could transform oil from being the financial base of tyranny to being the economic base for democracy. We could give the Iraqi people back their own future.

This is a policy choice that would not only help win this war, but secure a lasting peace, grounded in clearly understandable justice, a peace that would redeem, in some measure, the tragic sacrifices that Americans and Iraqis have both endured. Let us do this – now.

I agree with the author that the Iraqis-in general-need a great deal of reassurance that their country's resources will not go to someone else's pocket, as this is how it has been for a very long time.