Monday, January 31, 2005

The day after.

What happened yesterday was an extremely significant turning point that will leave its marks on the future of the region.
The world stood astounded at the sight of the masses that challenged death yesterday to plant the seed of hope in those boxes and now the enemies of the change cannot deny all that; the people have said their word clear and loud in their purple finger revolution.
Why was the world surprised? And what were the motivations of the people who have never experienced democracy before?

There were so many misconceptions about Iraq and these were the reasons why viewers from outside as well as many Iraqis were surprised. In the past few months, the media have played a big role in reflecting a blurred image about the will and preparations of Iraqis to hold the elections, not to mention exaggerating the size of the "militant groups" and their capabilities.

The world has discovered yesterday-Iraqis are included here-many facts that correct those misconceptions; now it's become clear the weakness of the terror groups and their limited geographical distribution and I think that the low number of attacks we witnessed yesterday wasn't the result of the security measures alone but largely because of the limited areas these groups exist in and this rendered them capable only of launching attacks within their strongholds as the roads between provinces were blocked. Thus I believe that yesterday's attacks have identified the places where the terrorists mainly reside.

The over exaggerated estimations for the strength of terrorists have also contributed to intimidating the people but even with that, the silent majority moved forward led by the natural human desire for freedom and by the belief that elections can make their lives better. The people think of elections as a one day struggle that can prevent suffering on the long term.
The silent majority has realized that elections are good and serve the people's interests; they don't know much about practicing democracy as they never lived under one but it's the common sense of the people who see how democratic nations enjoy stability and prosperity that led them to this conclusion.

Maybe the "fatwas" from the religious leaderships contributed to this too but I don't think "fatwas" were the main reasons behind the excellent turnout. I expect the results to reveal that many Shea't voters didn't vote for the lists favored by the clergy. Even the list of the "united national alliance" which is expected to be among the big winners wouldn't have gotten all this popularity among voters if it had included too many clerics as less than 10% of the candidates in this list are clerics while the rest are technocrats, Sunni, Kurds, Turkmen and people from other religious minorities; without this variety in the list, it would've been resting now at the tail of the choices list.

What happened yesterday reminds me of the fall of Saddam and they way Iraqis expressed their delight on the 9th of April, only that yesterday's carnival was greater, louder and more specific. Are we going to learn the lesson from yesterday?

I am afraid from being trapped in an ecstasy that directs our attention away from making use of the achieved victory; this victory is represented now by the feeling of Iraqis that freedom lovers and democracy supporters are the majority and they're everywhere and that there exists a strong unity among Iraqis against terror threats.

Every person has realized that he's not fighting alone in this battle and that all Iraq, from the very north to the very south is sharing this view even in the cities where security is a big concern, like Diyala, Mosul, and Tikrit; even in Fallujah, the boxes weren't empty.
The majority wasn't silent yesterday and the people's confidence now is at its peak and we should encourage and invest this feeling now and rebuild the bridges between us, I mean the government, the coalition and the people so that we can find the best way to exterminate the terrorists and the criminals who we know now how few and isolated they are.

The joy of victory can make us lose important positions if we allowed it to delay us from making use of the advantage we achieved over the terrorists now.
What we do need now is balanced optimism and a search for new and improved methods to deal with the remaining tasks.

On the other side, all those who stood against the change will regroup again and launch another campaign to criticize and lessen the significance of this revolution and they will try to find gaps in the process to shake the confidence and the determination of the people.
I also call those who are pessimistic about the situation to make their pessimism balanced if they want to find solutions for the problems they expect to erupt.

The reaction of the dictators and the enemies of freedom remains predictable; the neighboring countries and the Arabic media will try to find new weapons to use against the ongoing democratic process and these new weapons could be even more cruel this time.

We here remain assured that we've put our feet on the right track and that the bright future we wish for Iraq has become much closer after the 30th of January but we all have to reevaluate our previous assumption according to the new facts on the ground in order to find the best way we can push the process to further successes.

Chrenkoff's "Good news from Iraq" part 20 is now up.
You can find a ton of election-related links and a variety of good news about Iraq from the last couple of weeks.
A huge and informative piece as usual.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The people have won.

We would love to share what we did this morning with the whole world, we can't describe the feelings we've been through but we'll try to share as much as we can with you.
We woke up this morning one hour before the alarm clock was supposed to ring. As a matter of fact, we barely slept at all last night out of excitement and anxiety.

The first thing we saw this morning on our way to the voting center was a convoy of the Iraqi army vehicles patrolling the street, the soldiers were cheering the people marching towards their voting centers then one of the soldiers chanted "vote for Allawi" less than a hundred meters, the convoy stopped and the captain in charge yelled at the soldier who did that and said:
"You're a member of the military institution and you have absolutely no right to support any political entity or interfere with the people's choice. This is Iraq's army, not Allawi's".
This was a good sign indeed and the young officer's statement was met by applause from the people on the street.
The streets were completely empty except for the Iraqi and the coalition forces ' patrols, and of course kids seizing the chance to play soccer!

We had all kinds of feelings in our minds while we were on our way to the ballot box except one feeling that never came to us, that was fear.
We could smell pride in the atmosphere this morning; everyone we saw was holding up his blue tipped finger with broad smiles on the faces while walking out of the center.

I couldn't think of a scene more beautiful than that.
From the early hours of the morning, People filled the street to the voting center in my neighborhood; youths, elders, women and men. Women's turn out was higher by the way. And by 11 am the boxes where I live were almost full!
Anyone watching that scene cannot but have tears of happiness, hope, pride and triumph.

The sounds of explosions and gunfire were clearly heard, some were far away but some were close enough to make the windows of the center shake but no one seemed to care about them as if the people weren't hearing these sounds at all.
I saw an old woman that I thought would get startled by the loud sound of a close explosion but she didn't seem to care, instead she was busy verifying her voting station's location as she found out that her name wasn't listed in this center.

How can I describe it!? Take my eyes and look through them my friends, you have supported the day of Iraq's freedom and today, Iraqis have proven that they're not going to disappoint their country or their friends.

Is there a bigger victory than this? I believe not.

I still recall the first group of comments that came to this blog 14 months ago when many of the readers asked "The Model?"… "Model for what?"
Take a look today to meet the model of courage and human desire to achieve freedom; people walking across the fire to cast their votes.

Could any model match this one!? Could any bravery match the Iraqis'!?
Let the remaining tyrants of the world learn the lesson from this day.

The media is reporting only explosions and suicide attacks that killed and injured many Iraqis s far but this hasn't stopped the Iraqis from marching towards their voting stations with more determination. Iraqis have truly raced the sun.

I walked forward to my station, cast my vote and then headed to the box, where I wanted to stand as long as I could, then I moved to mark my finger with ink, I dipped it deep as if I was poking the eyes of all the world's tyrants.
I put the paper in the box and with it, there were tears that I couldn't hold; I was trembling with joy and I felt like I wanted to hug the box but the supervisor smiled at me and said "brother, would you please move ahead, the people are waiting for their turn".

Yes brothers, proceed and fill the box!
These are stories that will be written on the brightest pages of history.

It was hard for us to leave the center but we were happy because we were sure that we will stand here in front of the box again and again and again.
Today, there's no voice louder than that of freedom.

No more confusion about what the people want, they have said their word and they said it loud and the world has got to respct and support the people's will.

God bless your brave steps sons of Iraq and God bless the defenders of freedom.

Aasha Al-Iraq….Aasha Al-Iraq….Aasha Al-Iraq.

Mohammed and Omar.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Go Iraq...go!

Less than 48 hours left before the people of Iraq experience free decision making for the first time in their country's modern history.
It's a moment of pure freedom but still surrounded by lots of dangers just like any beautiful rose surrounded by spikes.
There is fear from the enemies of freedom who have their weapons already prepared to intimidate us and stop us from choosing our future.
But at the same time we're full of hope as we know that we've put our feet on the right track and even if we make a bad choice once, we know that we will have the chance to reevaluate the situation again.
No more tyrants ruling the country for decades.

We're standing before a historic moment and I won't be exaggerating if I said that it's an important moment for the whole world; we're standing before a crossroads and everyone should watch and learn from the rebirth of Iraq.

Regardless of the winners in the se elections, those who opposed the elections and resisted the change will have to deal with the new reality.

In 48 hours from now, the dying dictatorships and their filthy tools, the terrorists, will find themselves facing an elected legitimate government in Iraq.

The tyrants nightmare is becoming reality, now they will have to deal with the scariest word in their dictionaries; THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE.
The terrorists have challenged the bravery of the Iraqi people but they messed with the wrong people. The people have accepted the challenge; democracy and elections are not a luxury for Iraqis, it's an issue of life or death. And the terror brutal campaign has only made the people more determined to go on with the change.

The results of some recent polls that have shown how determined Iraqis are to hold the elections might have surprised you, but they weren't a surprise for us; we're not the kind of people that kneel to terror and the sights of blood and beheadings.

Saddam had tried all tools of oppression, killing and torture he could find against our people (including WMD's) but he failed to make the people believe in his hateful regime. And that's why the people abandoned him and now, he and his regime are just a bad old tale from the past.

On Sunday, the sun will rise on the land of Mesopotamia. I can't wait, the dream is becoming true and I will stand in front of the box to put my heart in it.


Elections and snow in Kurdistan. A bunch of nice photos from Kurdo.
A report about the first wave of Iraqi ex-pats casting their votes.

"Iraqis in Australia cast the first votes in their homeland's long-awaited election on Friday, and celebrated the historic moment by dancing in the streets.
Exiles gathered at nine polling stations around Australia, some proudly displaying the blue ink on their fingers which proved that they had cast their ballots"

Thanks to Fayrouz for the link.
Electoral debates for the 1st time in Samawa City.
A must read report from "Friends of democracy".

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

In a surprising economic development, the exchange price of the Iraqi Dinar has jumped from its steady value in the past 12 months (1460/ 1 US $) to approximately (1300/ 1 US $) this morning!

This change in price was completely unexpected because the exchange price of Iraqi's currency has a long history of substantial drops prior to and during crises times. while having an overnight 10% increase in the exchange price indicates that the market is expecting something good to happen.

From my experience, wide fluctuations in the exchange price are only temporary in most of the cases and the price would return to a figure that is slightly different from the starting point, within days or a few weeks.

Maybe it's just a result of introducing coins back to the circulation, which were absent for over a decade. Or perhaps Iraqi trade-masters and economists have a different sense about the current "crises" and the post-election phase.

I can't tell but the coming weeks certainly can.

A funny and creative Volkswagen commercial via Baghdad Dweller

Q- Why suicide bombers must drive VOLKSWAGEN (polo)??

A- You can find the answer here.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Our friends over at the Iraqi NGO "Friends of Democracy" have launched their websites that provides election news service just this morning.

It's now up in both, Arabic and English languages. The Arabic Site also provides free Arabic blogs using the recently created "Arabic blogging tool".
They're receiving many daily reports from a bunch of reporters distributed all over the country with the efforts focused mainly on the events related to the preparations of the "Electoral Commission of Iraq" and the Iraqi political parties for the 30th of Jan elections, as well as the people's opinions, concerns and hopes regarding that historic awaited day.

I can tell that their reporters are not as "professional" as the ones working for AP, Reuters or other news agencies and they don't use the same fancy equipment but I found their reports informative and worth reading as they provide access to news, observations and fine details from the daily life in the various cities of Iraq; the kind of things that are considered by the MSM as 'tiny and insignificant news'.

You will also find some posts that included interviews with government officials, politicians and ordinary people on the streets; with a ton of interesting photographs; covering different aspects of life in Iraq in these days.

I just want to add a short comment regarding this…thing.
Zarqawi claims that the rule of the majority violates the principle that laws must come from a divine source.

Has he forgotten that the opinion of the majority was respected in the early days of Islam? Has he forgotten that the prophet himself used to ask the citizens of the "Madina" for their opinion (and folow it) in more than one ocassion when a critical decision-making was needed?
I'd like also to ask Zarqawi another question: if the majority was to mean the Talibans or the radical Wahabists, would he be against that majority?

Let's ignore the ridiculous content of the tape and the sick ideology of its source and let's move to the motives of releasing this tape at this time.

Frankly speaking, I think there's a good possibility that this tape is either fake or mere show-business because this tactic used to be Saddam's defense method against rumors; whenever there was a rumor about him being sick or injured he would appear the very next day, all the day on TV, radio, newspapers and even toilet papers to prove that he's still alive and in power.

So it could be either Zarqawi himself trying to prove that these rumors (thanks Roger, I haven't been watching TV lately) are just rumors or it could be one (or a group) of his aides using his ghost to keep the people living in fear and to cover their loss.

Anyway, if the tape was true, then it isn't going to make any difference, because the people here already know that Zarqawi and his criminals are against the elections and they have realized that those terrorists will try everything to stop the elections from happening.

I mean, the threat didn't appear out of the blue; it was there all the time and despite that threat, the people have made up their mind and expressed their willingness to vote and take the risk.
Hundreds of car-bomb attacks and nearly 2 years of killings haven't stopped the majority of Iraqis from declaring their will to vote or to run for offices. Now is it possible that a stupid tape can do that? I don't think so.

If we agree to live in fear for one day then we're going to live in fear forever.
Today, the terrorists are using the elections as an excuse to murder the "infidels" and they will never run short of other insane excuses in the future, they will find something else; maybe soccer will justify Jihad against the "infidels"!

I have just found this site of the "Middle East media research institute" where you can view and read the transcripts of some Iraqi elections video advertisements.

Friday, January 21, 2005

When we said weeks ago on this blog that we expect 80 % of the eligible voters to participate in the elections we were considered to be far from representing the main stream opinion in Iraq.
Now, I guess the results of this poll which were published on the Washington Post tells the naysayers something and proves that we didn't build our predictions from vacuum.

Still, there's one part of the Post's piece that I don't agree with:

"The poll, which surveyed 1,900 Iraqis in all but two of the country's 18 provinces. Poor security made two in the far north, Nineveh and Dohuk, inaccessible. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points"

Because Duhok (not Dohuk) is one of the safest cities in the country. I understand that its proximity with Nieveh (Mosul) makes access rather difficult from that particular road but that's not the only road to reach the city which can be accessed from Erbil or even from the borders with Turkey.
What I want to say here is that the result would've been even higher if Duhok was included in the survey and the percentage would be undefined in only one province rather than two.

Now that the Iraqi people have made their choice clear, it's the interim government's and the coalition's responsibility to clear the way for the people so that they can practice their freedom of choice.

Arthur Chrenkoff provides a comparison between the counts of "positive and negative" stories (that are related to Iraq) in the media on one average day.

"But it's one thing to have a gut feeling about media negativity and another to know exactly how negative the coverage is"

Well said Arthur.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Our turn to speak now.

Sarah Boxer ( in her latest piece on the NYT tried hard to put together some rotten limbs to produce a creature that satisfies her fantasy but she ended up introducing a new mutant to the readers and to the methods of journalism.
It wasn't a surprise for me as it was just another reproduction of the old ways of the corrupt side of the MSM in dealing with facts and events.

One short look at the "article" shows how naïve the writer was and how old the methods used in writing this post are. This post has fixed another nail in the casket of the gasping media.

I won't be exaggerating if I said that I find a close resemblance between the ways of the media and those of terror in dealing with events; both are using ugly and cheap maneuvers to get attention. These methods could be even horrible and dangerous but never convincing.
It doesn't seem that the media is working hard to catch up with time and progress; at least the performance says so.

Let's go back to the "article" itself and particularly to its beginning; the writer allowed herself to put all the accusations in the front and considered the possibility that we are Iraqis as the last possible theory on the list.

Maybe she thought it's too much for us to be Iraqis and love our country at the same time, so she added "who have mixed feelings…".
From Boxer's point of view, an Iraqi who supports America's efforts in liberating his country from the worst tyrant in modern history and rebuilding his country after that is either a paid agent or a mentally confused person. As if clear thinking is an exclusive gift that only a journalist from the NYT could possess while anyone outside her office is simply confused.

If Boxer had spent few more minutes in reading any of our posts she would've learnt that we're first of all, pro-Iraq. We never ceased to look forward for a new Iraq that is democratic and prosperous and the reason why we are pro-US is because we saw that America-the people and the administration-has made the right decision by liberating Iraq and this certainly serves the interests of both nations.

We're advertising for nothing but the new Iraq that we've always dreamed of and we believe that having America's support is a necessity and a vital element in the process.
We're still looking forward to seeing a strategic partnership between the two nations; a partnership from which both countries can benefit.

Boxer has forgotten to mention a single word about our efforts in building the "Arabic blogging tool". We've been doing that for months now with support from the American people via "Spirit of America".
She forgot to acknowledge that we're trying through this project to spread freedom of speech in the Arabic world by giving our people the opportunity to voice their opinions through a tool that overrides the barrier of language.
Now, as I understood it, journalists are usually in support of anything that brings freedom of speech, and more tolerance and understanding while lessening violence.

But maybe it's just that this tool will be the response that Boxer and her colleagues fear the most; they will have to deal with thousands of Iraq the models when our countrymen begin using this tool.
The fact that her pathetic article might endanger us and our friends over at Friends of Democracy will not stop us from continuing the work we're doing and we're determined to accomplish what we've started because we feel responsible towards our readers and we don't write our posts to throw stupid accusations here and there.

As much as I was annoyed by that "article" I cannot describe my happiness when I began reading the reactions and defense posts and comments from our brothers in the big family of the blogosphere as well as from our regular readers.
These were much bigger than that mutant little incoherent group of words of Boxer's.
I would like to thank you all my friends and once again I promise that I won't disappoint you.
I can write a book about this "article" that has more holes than Swiss cheese (we have Swiss cheese here incase you don't know that Sarah!) but I'm not going to waste my time or our readers' on this as we all have more important things to do.


Radio Interview This Friday Jan 21

Radio Station WBAI 99.5 FM New York City has asked for an interview and Mohammed has accepted. We have a satellite phone this time, so we're hoping for better luck in getting a connection into Baghdad.

On-Air Host: Mario A. Murillo
Studio line: +1 212-209-2900

Scheduled Date & Time: The radio station will attempt to contact Mohammed during a two hour period starting at 2:30pm (Baghdad). The state of telecommunications in Baghdad is not the best so it is impossible to predict the exact time the brothers will be on. The interview should last between 20 and 30 minutes.

Friday, January 21, 2005 at 02:30:00 PM (Iraq/Baghdad)
Friday, January 21, 2005 at 06:30:00 AM (USA/New York/New York City)
Friday, January 21, 2005 at 11:30:00 Zulu

Live Streaming
Mario's Show 'Wakeup Call' Daily Descriptions

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

As I promised you yesterday guys, here are some pictures for the elections' posters from Baghdad.
1.... 2.... 3.... 4.... 5.... 6.... 7

Monday, January 17, 2005


Iraqi sites guide has linked to a message on (voice of Iraq).
The message calls all Iraqi politicians, journalists, thinkers and writers to boycott Al-Jazeera and not to accept any invitation from this network to appear on its shows, especially Al-Ittijah Al-Mo'aakis (the opposite/direction).

This program tries always to show the real Iraqi patriots as traitors, thieves or at least as puppets of America and the West and denies them the right to defend themselves and their points of view as the host is keen on interrupting them every other 5 words while giving the other guest (who is usually a huge fan of Saddam and other dictators) most of the program's time to say whatever he wants including using abusive language against the guest on the other side of the table. Not to mention that the phone calls that come during the program's time are filtered in a highly selective way that passes all the calls that are approved by Al-Jazeera and 10% of the calls that agree with the poor Iraqi guest.

And actually this has reminded me of an interesting thing; almost all the polls that are conducted by Al-Jazeera end up with similar results and I believe that the ratio of 81% vs. 19% is the most common outcome of these polls (need I tell you on which side these 81% are!?).

The site is accepting signatures from Iraqis inside and outside Iraq to support this message which condemns the extreme bias of Al-Jazeera regarding the situation in Iraq and the obvious anti-Iraqi, anti-democracy ideology of the network.

The message has also referred to the latest scandal related to the suspicious relationships of this network with the heads of the ex-regime in Iraq, namely Uday and Abd Hmood.
This scandal-which is not the first and certainly not the last to be uncovered-was brought to the surface in a documentary broadcasted on Al-Hurra TV last week.

Here are some pictures that show the former manager of Al-Jazeera Mohammed J. Al-Ali and Faisal Al-Qassim who runs the particular show I mentioned above with Uday, Abd Hmood and the Iraqi Intelligence officer in Doha/Qatar (why am I not surprized?)

12345 (sorry for the poor quality; this is all I could find)

More than 861 Iraqis (including myself) have signed the message until this moment.
Here's the link to the message (In Arabic).

I have received this photograph from friend in kirkuk. It shows the locals standing in a line waiting for their turn at the gate of a voters' registration office.

Some of you have asked me to post photos for the signs and posters on the parties and candidates on the streets, so I'll try to take a tour and shoot some photos, hopefully by tomorrow.
Arthur Chrenkoff has just posted the latest part of his amazing, super-informative series (Good news from Iraq). I have quoted a few interesting pieces here:

**"Brig. Gen. Jeffery Hammond of the 1st Cavalry Division, says Sadr City is the safest place in or around Baghdad. About 18,000 people have reconstruction jobs, he says, earning about $6 a day. 'Sadr City is what the future of Iraq can look like,' he says. Those who were once taking up arms are now talking democracy. 'Before, the men were buying black cloth for their (martyrs') banners. Now for the election, we are buying white cloths' for posters, says candidate Fatah al-Sheikh."

**"Day after day, Carlos Valenzuela faces the same question: Can legitimate elections take place amid the chaos and bedlam that is contemporary Iraq? 'I say, "Of course,"' says the soft-spoken Colombian who is the chief U.N. electoral officer in Iraq. 'Look,' he continues from his tiny office in this fearful capital's fortified Green Zone, 'in my own country we have elections that are not perfect, that have been marred by violence and terrible intimidation. But still people go to the polls. And still the results are accepted as legitimate'."

**"Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi simply smiled during the live television show when a man called to praise terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The Iraqi leader then moved on, offering to find information about a woman's detained son and see why a student didn't get into the graduate program of his choice.
"The surprisingly frank hour-long call-in program, 'The Iraqi Podium,' is a rarity for the region, giving Iraqis the chance to pepper Allawi with questions, from the mundane to the serious. Judging by the show's popularity, Iraqis are taking advantage.
"The show's host, Abdul-Karim Hammad, said he proposed the show to Allawi, who agreed. It may be a campaign ploy as Allawi tries to burnish his image ahead of Jan. 30 elections, but from the nature of the questions, it appears the calls aren't screened.
"I told him the one condition, which is that you have to accept anything the people say even if they insult you,' Hammad said. 'He said it was fine, as long as he wasn't criticized personally, but they can say anything they want about his work."

**The Zahko Military Academy in northern Iraq will shortly be renovated at a cost of $5.2 million. "Before the Iraqi freedom war, we only trained cadets from Kurdistan. Since the war we have begun to train cadets from all provinces of Iraq. For instance, cadets from Baghdad, Baquba, Kut and Mosul are sent here for training by the Ministry of Defense," says the Academy Commandant Maj. Gen. Shihab Duhoki. Adds Rich Maskil, the project manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Northern District: "The collaboration between the Kurds and Arabs is a great thing. It's a big difference going from Saddam Hussein's campaign against the Kurds to where we are now -- the Kurds and Arabs training and fighting together to provide security for a free Iraq." And in Tikrit, the new headquarters for the 30th Brigade, Iraqi Army have recently been opened.

A hunderd other stories and links from Chrenkoff here.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

You can find some parts of the Iraqi government's security plan for the elections, here.

I learnt this morning from Al-Sabah newspaper (that published more detailed information) that there will be also a curfew from 9 pm to 5 am starting from the 27th of Jan. and traveling among provinces will be prohibited as well.
And considering that terrorists might use bombs hidden in bags or briefcases (like what happened in the Kerbala and Baghdad massacres near the shrines last year), the plan also included that no bags will be allowed on the streets and walking nearby the voting centers will be monitored and restricted too.

Meanwhile, posters and signs for the political parties and individual candidates are covering almost every single wall on the streets of Baghdad, leaving no place for the terrorists to write their hatred messages (which are by the way full of stupid typos! from which you can tell what kind of ignorants those criminals are) and the elections posters have become so numerous that the terrorists would need to spend a decade rearing them off to find a spot for their ugly slogans.

The voice of elections and democracy is now much louder than that of terror.
We have passed the hardest part and it's now less than 14 days to go my friends, let's hope this works out.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Elections discussed in a Baghdad cafe'.

A nice story from Al-Shahbandar cafe' in Baghdad on the Washington Post.
It's a long one but worth reading to the last line.
Thanks to Andrew Sullivan.
This is the funniest "weapon" I've ever heard of!!
It's beyond hilarious.
Just try to picture OBL and Zawahiri after one of these bombs is dropped on their camp!
Kurdo provides some interesting information about the current cost of housing (and meat!) in the province of Sulaimaniyah.
A short story about some freakish Santa is also mentioned there!

Friday, January 14, 2005

Sorry guys, the expected interview didn't happen; Mohammed and Ali didn't receive a call from the radio station probably because of the bad situation of the phones' network here in Baghdad especially in the afternoon which is the peak time.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Radio Interview This Friday Morning

Radio Station WBAI 99.5 FM New York City has asked for an interview and Mohammed and Ali have both accepted. The station and the host lean way to the left so if the host opens up the phone lines, I'm sure Ali and Mohammed would appreciate a friendly call. Here are the details.

On-Air Host: Mario A. Murillo
Studio line: +1 212-209-2900

Scheduled Date & Time: The radio station will attempt to contact Ali and Mohammed during a two hour period starting at 2:30pm (Baghdad). The state of telecommunications in Baghdad is not the best so it is impossible to predict the exact time the brothers will be on. The interview should last between 15 and 20 minutes.

Friday, January 14, 2005 at 02:30:00 PM (Iraq/Baghdad)
Friday, January 14, 2005 at 06:30:00 AM (USA/New York/New York City)
Friday, January 14, 2005 at 11:30:00 Zulu

Live Streaming
Mario's Show 'Wakeup Call' Daily Descriptions
The ArabicBBC site put up a forum for the readers to discuss the subject of some of the "militant groups" that distributed leaflets threatening the Iraqis who decide to participate in the elections, whether voters or candidates.
The total number of commentators was 141; the Iraqis were 104 and 37 were Arabs from other countries till the post was prepared.
89 of the participating Iraqis were strongly with the elections and determined to go to the boxes on the elections day in spite of the threats.
15 were against the elections, for different reasons.

13 of the Arab participants were also against the elections while the rest of them (24) were supportive of the Iraqis in holding the elections on time.

I will not try to offer my optimistic comments and views about the situation in Iraq, instead I will shut up and let my fellow Iraqis speak for themselves and let you then decide what you think about it.

"I encourage all the good people in Iraq to vote, it’s the only way to get out of this destruction"

Jasim Mohammed-Iraq

"No one can rule Iraqis but Iraqis themselves and the voting box is the only way to achieve a legitimate patriotic government which will be respected by the Iraqi people and the world and it will cut the way for these entire terrorist who come from outside the country and Saddam's orphans who support them. They are dreaming about the return of the darkness after we felt the sun of freedom"

Gati'- Iraqi in the UK

"Iraq should build a strong army and well trained police so that we can reserve the security and stability in our country and get rid of the foreign forces but how we can do that if these groups who call themselves resistance keep killing the Iraqi soldiers and policemen? Is this real resistance??"

Reyadh Mahdi Salih – Baghdad

"I am calling all Iraqis who claim to be loyal to Iraq and say that they are patriots: free your minds and head to the boxes"

Zayed –Kerbala

"I salute all the brave Iraqis and I wish them all the best on the coming elections"

Mo'ayed- Bahrain

"Who say that the results of these elections are already decided is actually insulting the Iraqi people because it means that Iraqis are so naïve and they only follow orders form the occupiers"

Abdul Rahman – UAE

"Elections must be done and all the Iraqi people should participate in it
so that we can get out of this mess. As for those Arab who says that we are going to elect an American that only has an Iraqi face, I tell them: what about the Arab leaders who are Americans, only with an Arabic face?"

Ahmed Hashim –Iraq

"The people of Mousil will vote and Zarqawee and his gang will not stop us
We will vote even if we have to do it secretly"

Ahmed – Mousil

"If those armed groups refuse the elections they should give us some alternatives and I ask them here: what are your alternatives for elections? They just want to rule the country against the will of the people as they did in the past"

Nawfel M. Ali – Qatar

"If some Arab think they are not occupied by America they are wrong, whose house is from glass should not through stone at people"


"Elections were our demand from the beginning and we will keep working hard to have the elections even if it takes all of our lives the killing and destruction that you see now are the taxes that we should pay to get a better life for us and for the coming generations"

Hassan Kamil-Iraq- Nasyiriya

"I want to ask everyone who calls for delaying the election: is the situation now better than it used to be six months ago?
We should all support the democratic process to get rid of both, terrorist and occupiers"


"I consider all these groups out of Islam and they don’t want the best for Iraqis
I'll go to give my vote in spite of all the threats"
Hussain Taey –Baghdad

"I want to ask those who say that we can't hold elections until the troops leave: will they participate in elections if these troops left Iraq? And who will have the right to ask these troops to leave?
Only the legitimate government can do so and this legitimate government comes through elections which you refuse to do"

Adnan –Baghdad

"Those who wish to see Iraq unstable and those who commit all these crimes and cause all this destruction are terrorist and nothing but terrorists but they use Islam as a cover. I see that all my fellow citizen want peace and prosperity while these criminals are the remnant of the Ba'ath and the old dictator regime and I will keep saying: down with these terrorist and long live the Iraqi people and the Iraqi police and the Iraqi National Guard who work day and night to protect Iraq"

Mohammed Saleh – Baghdad

"I wish to see election happen in its planned date and the sooner the better for my country. Peace and democracy are our dreams that we awaited for a long time.
Those who don’t want elections are the enemies of Iraq. I pray to God every day for the elections to be on time"

Lamya – Baghdad

"All Iraqis should enjoy democracy but not under the American guardianship and British colonialism. The genuine Iraqi groups have the right to stop these elections from happening"

Abu Baker-Mauritania

"After I read all the above opinions, I would like to ask those who call themselves "Mujahideen" what do you want?!
For God's sake, read the comments of Iraqis; all of them reject you and call you criminals, stop the killing and the destruction and ask for forgiveness from God you and get out of Iraq. Nobody wants you there and no one wants your jihad"

Mohammed – Egypt

"I want to ask all those Arabs: do you have any suggestions that we can use instead of elections?"

Hayder Hummadi-Baghdad

"I am against any elections right now because the country is still occupied"

Saad Hussain-Baghdad

"The elections are the best way to build the free Iraq"

Karema-Baquba -Diyala

"We will not be afraid any more, we will vote for our precious Iraq"

Mohammed Baghdady – Baghdad

"I want to ask the Arabs a favor: please leave us alone and let us live in freedom and peace"


"If those fighters were really Muslims they would not be killing the Iraqi police, army and innocent civilians. We will not submit to their threats and we will vote in spite of them"

Muosa Al Ruba'ey-Baghdad

"I'll shout out loudly and ask all Iraqis to vote and not to listen to the masked terrorists who came from outside, let us be one hand to build a new and free democratic Iraq"

Mohammed Al Juboury- Iraqi in KSA

"We will crush the terrorists and crush all those who try to threat the Iraqi nation and we will vote"


"I'll go to the voting center even if it means that I risk my life, elections are a historic chance that we cannot afford to waste"

Ussama Alrussafy-Baghdad

"All good Iraqis should vote for a better life for our children"

Mohammed Alsamaray –Samara

"For sure the resistance will risk the lives of the voters and this will negatively effect the elections which will follow the occupiers' rules"

Hassan abdul Mu'iz – Egypt

"As Iraqis, we will go to vote even if the terrorists planted their bombs inside the boxes, because this is our dream which we paid millions of lives for it and I would like to ask everyone not to exaggerated the size of these terrorist they are only a few Saddam lovers with criminals from outside the country"

Azhar- Basra

"I swear to Allah that we will not accept anything but free elections and we will have this right even if the terrorists cut us into pieces"

Mahdy Hadi-Baghdad

"I think the upcoming elections will be a disaster for all the dictatorships in the region.
Those who try to intimidate the people are just a gang of criminals who use the name of Islam as a cover. Islam is innocent from what they do and no religion accepts their doings."

Mohammed Hayder- Iran

"They are broke orphans of the Ba'ath regime. We will not be afraid and we will not hesitate and we will vote"


"I can see that all the above opinions are pro occupation and I think that the BBC is doing this because Britain is America's partner"

Mohammed Sudky –Egypt

"I m from Mosul and I would like to declare to the whole world that I would love to vote but unfortunately it's impossible for me as my town has been occupied by Ba'athists and and the Salafis for two months now and I put all the responsibility on the Iraqi government and coalition forces. Don’t they know that there's no sign of the authorities in this city?"

Jalal Hayder –Mousel

"I'm Sunni and I will go and vote because this makes me feel alive and I will not allow myself to be afraid of the terrorists because if I listen to them then I'll be dead"
Mohammed al kurdy- kerkuk

"Go away cowards. We will go to visit our beloved box!"


"Wise people will not vote, not because of the threats but because this election is an American play"

M. Uthman- Sudan

"I'll go to vote and I will not fear the terrorist. I will vote on the 30th and I don’t care if I could get killed by the bombs of the killers because my vote will be for my kids' future"

Ali Baghdadi-Baghdad

"It's hard to convince the Arabs about elections, did we succeed in convincing them that Saddam is a killer?"

Raeed –Iraqi in Sweden

"Even If they cut our bodies or burn us we will vote despite the fact that the terrorist still control my city.
My vote will go to Al Yawer and Allawi if they hang the killers who control the streets of my town before the elections' day"

Omar Wajih –Mousil

"We spend thousands of days in Saddam's needless wars that brought only disasters to my country.
How about a war of our choice for one day to rebuild our country, a war against the terrorist's threats?"


Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A civil war!?

With the elections' day getting closer, I'm hearing more voices warning of the possibility of a civil war in Iraq after the elections and I want to say that I do not find that theory the least acceptable; the theory of the civil war doesn't match any of the facts on the ground and it's based on visions of people who have never lived among Iraqis and have no real-if any-experience in the region.
The coming days will be a test for these theories but I'm almost positive that nothing like that is going to happen and so I don't need to wait to find out.

Most of such theories are based on the assumption that the Sunni will not approve the outcome of the elections if the She'at got the majority of votes and that this disapproval would take the form of a widespread insurgency in all the areas inhabited by a Sunni majority and then the She'at would be forced to fight to defend their existence and the whole country gets into an endless circle of violence.

The above theory looks strong and points out a possibility that can not be ignored (in the eyes of the theorists). I don't call this over-pessimism but I attribute it to a lack of clear vision and to looking at the case from one angle. I will take a stop here to review the elements of the theory:

The theory is built on two key elements; the first of which is that the Sunni boycott the elections and the second is that the She'at make a flawless win.
Looking at the first element I see that this boycott has been over estimated; there are parties that have a majority of Sunni members and have already enlisted themselves for the elections and all the parties in general have Sunni members and in addition to that, there are Sunni individuals who have announced themselves as candidates.
All those people didn't come from nowhere and they all have their support in the Sunni areas or why do you think they would run for elections if they know that the Sunni will boycott the elections?

Another point to mention is that there is a difference between the Sunni and the She'at regarding the authority of the clergy, and the Sunni don't have a common leadership or clergy that called for the boycott.
If someone shows up saying that he represents all the Sunni and he calls them to boycott the elections they will not follow his orders because such a common leadership that all the Sunni follow does not exist.

However, this assumption was inspired from the fact that most of the military operations take place in areas of Sunni majority. This is true because the terrorists were able to find who supports them in these areas but it's also true that not all the Sunni support the terrorists and we can always hear voices coming from Sunni areas calling for elections in spite of the threats the terrorists keep sending.
As a matter of fact, people in the areas of Sunni majority might find themselves not willing to go to the voting centers out of fear not because they decided to boycott the elections.

And this means that the theory of a widespread insurgency is not realistic because there will be a percentage that is going to vote and there will be another percentage that would like to vote but can not do that because of fear; all those will certainly not contribute to this alleged insurgency.
Anyway, the percentage of voters' participation is expected to be lower in Sunni areas than in other areas in the south or the north.

During the past 18 months, the She'a and the Kurds had the majority (about 80 %)of seats in the interim government with most of the decision making positions in their hands but that didn't lead to a civil war and I want to remind you here that the voices that are expecting the boycott and the civil war to happen are the same voices that expected the eruption of an uprising when the government decided to attack the terrorists in Najaf and Fallujah but we saw in both cases that only the terrorists who started the war remained fighting in the cities while the people, the citizens of the cities whether Sunni or She'at didn't show any support to the terrorists and left them to fight alone. So why would we now expect the Sunni to join the terrorists in a widespread insurgency?

The second factor or element required by this civil war theory is a big win for the She'at in the elections. And we need to stop at this point and discuss it for a while; everyone considers this win inevitable. Yes, it's true that the list of the "United Coalition" which includes the biggest She'at parties is getting a lot of support but this list can not get a vast majority as the "Iraqi List" is getting a lot of support too, as well as the "Iraqi Communist Party" which will obviously get a good percentage of the votes based on what we saw in the latest polls.
We should also not forget that the alliance of the Kurdish parties will get a considerable percentage of the votes.
So it's not expected for the "United Coalition's list" to get more than 40 % of the seats of the national assembly.

But suppose they win with a vast majority of the votes, what's going to happen then?
Will they engage in a civil war with the militants?
The She'at leaderships received too many blows but the refused to engage in an armed conflict with the terrorists. Then why do we expect them to push their people and the country in general into a war when they're in office and legitimately representing the people.
This contradicts with logic because when the She'at get to power through elections they cannot afford to lose that legitimacy by calling their sect's people to carry arms.
Instead, they will have the right to deal with the militants as outlaws according to the law.
The She'at have sacrificed a lot to get to this point and it doesn't make sense if they breach the law that will be written with their approval and support and lets not forget that they She'at are not going to be alone in this; there will be Kurds, Turkmen, Communists and Sunni standing on their side in the government too.

But the main element that prevents a civil war in Iraq remains the presence of the super power that supports the elected government.
With the presence of this super power, no one would dare to fight in open field and the insurgency would be limited to small operations carried out by individuals or small groups that can not show themselves on the streets more than few hours.

There are rumors propagating here in Baghdad and other cities about thousands of militants going down to the streets and taking over control on the day of elections; such rumors are made up by the systems of the ex-regime and they know very well that appearing in public and in thousands means their end.
The anti-change groups have lost the ability to fight in large numbers and in large areas.
I expect the terrorists to keep their operations after the elections in the same limited manner we have right now, maybe the frequency will increase but they will not be able to spread their operations nationwide. And they will have to make a decision; either they give up and accept the new situation after the elections, and this will not happen as long as the neighboring countries keep supporting them.

Or they decide to fight to the end and this way they will eventually lose because the other camp (the government and the MNF) have greater resources that allows them to win the battle over the terrorists.
Another factor remains here, which is time and I don't see it moving in a direction that favors the outlaws side.

The groups that oppose the elections say that elections cannot take place with the country being under occupation.
One thing I'm sure of is that a civil war will be inevitable if the US withdrew from Iraq. Close your eyes for a moment and try to picture the situation if the US decided to leave now.
Those who still live in the illusions of the past will not have a role in the future of the region.

Finally, I want to say that I think what happened in Palestine yesterday and what happened in Afghanistan before that proves that if the people really want to have elections, then they can do it and it's another indication that we're moving on the right track here and it's another accomplishment for the ongoing change in the region.


Sunday, January 09, 2005

Ali is trying to find answers for one of the most critical questions nowadays:

Is Islam compatible with democracy?

"What I'm trying to say is that no religion in its present form is compatible with democracy and both democracy and religion can only co-exist if that religion is marginalized. In my mind all present religions, if you take them from the mouths of their advocators, being Imams, priests or whatever they are called in other religions and look at them with a modern rational mind, are (pardon me) so full of sh*t! (Note that I'm not talking about the core of those beliefs but how they're presented to us now)".

I think this post is a must read. You can find the rest here.

Friday, January 07, 2005

A translated report about an election poll from Al-sabah.

Thanks to Ladybird for the translation.
Actually I've heard about this poll few days ago but couldn't have the time to translate it.
The headlines of this poll were:

1-The poll was of 4974 Iraqis living in and around Baghdad.

2-Will the security problems cause you to?
Not come out and vote the day of elections = 18.3%
Come out and vote the day of elections = 78.3%
No opinion = 3.4%

3-Do you support military action against the terrorists?Yes = 87.7 %No = 11.1%
Don’t Know = 1.2%

If these were the results that appeared after taking samples from in and around Baghdad which is considered to be the most dangerous area in the country (and inhabited by lots of Sunni Iraqis by the way!), then what would the results look like if the samples were taken from Basra or Erbil??

Thursday, January 06, 2005


With the terrorist attacks on the Iraqi people and their ambitions being escalated, the electoral campaigns increase all over Iraq, and more efforts focused on making this unique process succeed can be seen.
We've noticed in the last week an increase in the intensity of attacks on the ING and IP forces in an attempt to stop them from doing their duty in providing the required level of security to protect the elections and the voters.
It's been announced that 40 brigades from the Iraqi armed forces are going to be deployed to protect the elections centers through out the country in cooperation with the MNF.

During my last tour in the north I saw a lot of electoral education activities as well as campaigns run by individual candidates, individual parties or alliances; seminars, conferences and posters are all over the place. Some candidates decided to post their pictures in the streets while other parties preferred to keep a relatively low profile for their candidates and displayed only the number of the list and the political program of the list for security considerations in some of the tension spots.

Day by day, people get more involved in the process and dedicate more of their attention and time to follow the news and discuss the updates and events that are related to the elections and involved parties.
One person I met in Erbil said that he wasn't going to vote for any of the two major Kurdish parties until they decided to unite their lists and form an alliance. He said "it's obvious now that they're not thinking about shallow partisan interests. They're thinking more about the country's interests".
I learnt that the "Kurdish labor party" which was calling for an independent Kurdish state decided not to join the elections but I didn't see that the people in the streets are interested about this as this party is a small one with little impact.

In Kirkuk which is considered a sensitive point for many parties because of the mosaic formation of the population (Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and Christians) the situation is different and everyone is trying to prove that he's the best and the more representative and I could sense that there's an alliance between the Arabs and the Turkmen to balance forces with the strong Kurdish alliance. Many Kurds have demanded to postpone the elections of the city board as they felt that it's not easy to compete with the Arabic-Turkmen alliance. Still, this demand didn't include the general elections as Iraq is considered one electoral region and local alliances that are limited to a certain spot will not have an effect on the big picture.

In the south, the tribes decided to contribute to the IP and the army efforts in protecting the electoral centers within their regions and this was agreed on after a meeting for the higher commission with the tribes' heads in Hilla and Nasiriyah.
There are also news coming out about a curfew for vehicles on elections day and the cell phones network as well as regular phones are supposed to cease working few days before the 30th of Jan.

Most of the parties are focusing now on the universities in an attempt to win the students votes and they're holding lectures and events in the universities to advertise for their platforms and lists.
In the city of Najaf, the Hawza suspended the activities of its school and asked the students to stop working on their researches and head to the provinces to encourage the people to vote.

The higher commission will grant all candidates a chance to speak through the media (papers, TV and radio) for a certain time for free and has asked the interested candidates to contact its offices to enlist their names on the broadcast schedule that is going to be coordinated with the Iraqi media.

Yesterday I received e mails from some of the readers asking for my opinion on a piece that was published few days ago on the Baghdad Burning blog, talking about the voters' registrations forms being sold (for 400$/form) to outsiders coming from Iran to use these forms to give false votes to She'at religious parties:

"Another problem is the selling of ballots. We're getting our ballots through the people who give out the food rations in the varying areas. The whole family is registered with this person(s) and the ages of the varying family members are known. Many, many, many people are not going to vote. Some of those people are selling their voting cards for up to $400. The word on the street is that these ballots are being bought by people coming in from Iran. They will purchase the ballots, make false IDs (which is ridiculously easy these days) and vote for SCIRI or Daawa candidates. Sunnis are receiving their ballots although they don't intend to vote, just so that they won't be sold"

I have heard of this stupid rumor months ago and in different ways too; actually I heard the same story but with the accusation directed to the Kurds instead of the Iranians.

I just want to clarify that these forms are used only to allow the voters to verify the accuracy of the information that are stored in the database and to correct mistakes if present and they shall be discarded after that. And any corrections made by the voter to this form will be matched with the information that exists in the database, i.e. this form is used to check for TYPOS AND MISSING DATA, not to build the database.
I think that our friend here has never seen one of those forms and that's why she doesn't know the exact function of them.

The interesting point is that river bend mentioned that the Sunnis have decided to boycott the elections and therefore keeping the forms so that they're not sold to the Iranians and here I wonder: who's selling to whom?

Would the Sunni sell the forms to the She'at? This contradicts any logical theory. If they Sunni decided to keep the forms because they fear that they would be sold to the She'at, would the Sunni sell the forms to Iran so that Iran buys false votes for the She'at!!??
Or would the Turkmen sell the forms to the Kurds?
Or would the liberals sell their forms to the radical Islamists?
I personally haven't seen or heard of anyone selling or buying these papers. Neither did any of my friends, family or anyone I know.

This is simply a rumor created and spread by terror groups or the "mukhabarat" of Saddam to convince people that the elections are not going to be fair and that it's useless to take the risk and time to vote.

I have always said that conspiracy theorists would contradict themselves as soon as they go further with their "analysis". One time they say that America has everything planned since the first day and then they come back and say that Iran can change the results of the elections!

River bend's biggest concern was:
"The first democratic elections were held in Iraq on January 29, 2005 under the ever-watchful collective eye of the occupation forces, headed by the United States of America. Troops in tanks watched as swarms of warm, fuzzy Iraqis headed for the ballot boxes to select one of the American-approved candidates...."

According to her theory, it seems that America succeeded in creating over 200 parties and convincing over 7200 people to register themselves as candidates!
Is it logical in anyway that the communists, radical Islamists, liberals, moderate Islamists, Arab nationalists, Kurds and Turkmen and a ton more of political currents are all "America's candidates"??

The people have chosen to hold the elections and our friends have decided to support the people in this choice and this combination is stronger than those who stand against the elections in order to keep an unelected government so that the have an excuse to fight it and keep it weak.
They know that the formation of an elected government means that the majority of Iraqis will be supporting this government and this will make it even harder for the terrorists to fight it because they will be fighting legitimacy itself and the nation itself.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

This is how Iraqis deal with TERRORISTS when they catch them.
Thanks to michael Totten for the link.
I just hope that the media will someday go back to reason and quit using the term "insurgents". Someone planning to kill CIVILLIANS is a TERRORIST, not an insurgent.

They must consider calling things with their real names...That's if they want to be "objective" as they claim to be.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Power line blog links to an article about the successful operations of the ING that took place yesterday. The blogger comments on this subject saying:

"I keep seeing more and more of this type of terrorist cleansing activity. What is more interesting is that the Iraqi National Guard is more and more active in these arrests. I have also noticed that more and more actions based on tips are being reported.
Check your local newspaper tomorrow morning and see whether these successes by the Iraqi National Guard have been reported. Then ask yourself whether any successful terrorist attack, whether via car bomb, attack on a police station, kidnapping, or whatever, has ever gone unreported in your local paper. Then ask your local paper why half of the story is missing."

I have a similar question here: you must have heard (or will hear in the coming few hours) of the car bomb attack that killed 18 ING corps yesterday but would you hear of the above piece if blogs haven't reported it?

I just want to clarify something to some of the readers and writers who say that we're focusing on certain kind of news to support or advertise for the policy or ideology of a certain party or group; all we're trying to do here through this blog is to give people the opportunity to view the missing part of the image to help them build a better understanding so that they can make a more accurate judgment.

I'm not writing to please someone; that's not what I want to do. I just want to make sure that as many people as possible can have access to as many parts of the story as possible.
If anyone finds something wrong with that, I'll be here to listen.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

A very interesting story by a military blogger in stationed in Mosul/Iraq.
You've got to read it:

I was introduced to Logan in May when I was embedded with an infantry unit. I have never met a more amazing kid. Today was the first time I've seen him in six months. I was relieved he was still alive. Here’s the story I wrote way back when on this little boy wonder…

Iraqi boy assists Soldiers as an interpreter and a friend
MOSUL, Iraq – If the Army had an adopt-a-child program, Logan would be the poster child. For more than a year, the 13-year-old boy, who contends he’s 13 and a half, has lived and worked with Coalition forces at a forward operating base in Mosul. The boy speaks four languages and his official title at the FOB is translator and supervisor, but he is a Soldier at heart.
“I love American Soldiers. I want to help them in every way possible, because without them we (Iraqis) would have nothing,” said Logan, who also speaks Turkish, Arabic and Kurdish and is currently learning Spanish. “When Saddam ruled Iraq, he would kill somebody for speaking English or Kurdish. Things were very bad, but now we are much happier and I can speak all my languages freely.”
Not a day goes by that Logan doesn’t use his four languages. At the FOB, he helps Soldiers with more than 50 workers, who maintain buildings, electricity and plumbing.
“It would be very difficult to do my job without Logan. Some of the workers only speak Kurdish, Turkish or Arabic. Rather than having a translator for each group, Logan can talk to all of them,” said Staff Sgt. Phillip Powers, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the contracted workers on the FOB. “We tell him what we need done and then he supervises the workers on the project. Sometimes you forget he’s just a kid because he’s telling grown men what to do.”
Even though he’s barely 4 foot 10 inches, Logan is the big man at the FOB. He knows every Soldier by name and the Soldiers believe that the camp would not function without him.

Read the rest here.