Thursday, March 31, 2005

More posts from other Iraqi bloggers in response to the oil for food scandal.
Big Pharaoh writes about a noticeable change in the Egyptian opposition journals:

I noticed very new developments in the newspapers that belong to the opposition. They are becoming increasingly bolder in directly criticizing the president by name. For such a long time, the office of the presidency here was like the pope or the Grand Ayatollah, a position with a lot of reverence and fear. I can see this barrier crumbling down......
Our good friend Chrenkoff is celebrating his blog's 1st anniversary and describes his experience from the past 12 months of blogging in a very nice and warm post.

It has been a great ride - nah, a fantastic ride for these past twelve months for this Polish-Australian nobody, far beyond what I could have foreseen or hoped for. 1,734,900 visits to my blog so far, and average of about 7,500 visits daily, countless links and appearances on other blogrolls, cracking the Ecosystem's Top 50, a few radio interviews, "Good news from Iraq" and "Good news from Afghanistan" series becoming a regular fixture and crossing over into the mainstream media thanks to James Taranto at the "Opinion Journal", 385,000 mentions of "Chrenkoff" on Google, as opposed to just a two or three dozen BB (Before Blog).

Happy Birthday Chrenkoff; awesome achievements!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Writing on the walls.

In a novel I read some years ago named "A sinister hour by "Gabriel Marquis, the events were taking place in a small town where everyone knows everything, ie nothing can remain secret. And everyone would talk about the finest details of someone else's personal life but those discussions were not allowed to happen publicly.
Suddenly, the situation changes upside down in that little town when some person anonymously started exposing the town's scandals by writing them on the walls in a way that everyone could read them (……wife is having an affair with…. Or ……..the police officer took bribes from…….).
So, the whole town went into a frenzy trying to identify this "criminal" who's taking the privacy of the citizens so lightly.
The truth is, this person didn't bring any new thing because the scandals he revealed were already known to the people.
Today, our international village is behaving in the same way, trying to avoid admitting the facts that we all know damn well.

I have decided to write the following on my wall:
The UN has always been a corrupt organization and the oil for food program was a disastrous organized robbery; it wasn't the first scandal and not going to be the last as long the UN keeps existing in its current form.
The father knows what his son had done.
And we all know this, so where's the surprize!?


Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I'm watching Al-Iraqia TV now, waiting for news about the 2nd session for the national assembly.
The session was supposed to be held by noon (35 minutes ago) but till now nothing has happened and 5 minutes ago, one of the members from the Coalition list stated that there are still discussions among the Sunni members of the Assembly for choosing someone to be nominated for heading the National Assembly.
This, will (as came in the statement) probably force postponing the session until Saturday.
Yesterday, Ghazi Al-Yawir, the interim Iraqi president refused being nominated for the same position.

More updates, soon.

1st update:

Muhsin Nayif Al-Jarba (one of the current nominees for heading the assembly) announced that he prefers to reach an agreement regarding this subject today.

"The complaints and anxiety on the streets have reached a high level from the successive delays especially after the extreme security precautions that have been taken in Baghdad for more than 24 hours now. People have waited this moment for a very long time and we can't keep them waiting anymore"

These precautions that almost paralyzed life in the city are adopted in an attempt to provide enough safety for the meeting of the Assembly; armored vehicles of the Iraqi Army are seen for the 1st time in large numbers on the streets of Baghdad and all the bridges but one are closed since yesterday.

Mr. Al-Jarba added
"we're ready to keep the discussions running until we reach an agreement even if this takes all day because this is much better than another postponement"

he also stressed that the person to be chosen for occupying this position is preferred to be agreed on through accord before a voting is carried out.

2nd update 1:20 pm

The 275 members are entering the conference hall in the convention center right now.
Al-Iraqia reporter mentioned that apparantely all the members are going to attend the meeting.

This gives an indication that an agreemnet was reached.... hopefully

3rd update 1:35 pm

The talks are preceeded by reading a few verses from the Quran; versess that call to unity were chosen.
Allawi and Yawir were the last member to enter the hall, it seems that they were having some last-minute talks with other major members in a neighboring hall.


The major masses in the assembly have declared their desire to cancel the currently held session until the Sunni mass agrees on a person for heading the Assembly.

A female member stood up and strongly criticized this suggestion. She demanded that the iraqi people be informed about what's going on:

"this mysteriousness need to be ended, I consider any further delay without informing the people about what really is going on a an act of betrayal. I demand full transperancy".

5th and maybe the last!

The chairman has just asked the press to leave the conference hall saying that a closed session is going to take place.


Well, this is going to be the last update for today with the final results for today's meeting of the National Assembly.

The latest news here (actually about 90 minutes ago) confirmed that no agreement was reached on whom to nominate for chairman position in the National Assembly after the Sunni members failed in reaching an agreement among themselves about this subject. Therefore, this decision will be discussed later in the 3rd meeting of the Assembly next Sunday. This is going to be the final chance for the 17 Sunni members to make up their mind and name one candidate they support.
Again, if they failed to do so by Sunday, there will be an open vote to choose a person for the position in question from whatever number of Sunni members who would like to run for this position.

I expect that Iraqis will feel a little bit disappointed by the outcome of today's session and frankly speaking, I feel that way too but there's nothing to do except waiting and hoping for the best to happen.

Monday, March 28, 2005

United by the dividers

Some time ago we expected a series of terror attacks to happen in Lebanon. I won't call it a "wave of violence" because the attacks are coming from one source.
Up until this point, at least 3 attacks with car bombs and IEDs have taken place in Lebanon since the Syrian regime decided to pull out from Lebanon.

So today, we'll try to figure out what this source is and why is this happening in the first place.

So who's behind the attacks?

Groups from the hot babe revolution?
I don't think so.
Could it be other groups from the anti-Syrian movement?
It doesn't make sense this way either.

If these groups were trying to put more pressure on the Syrian government to get out of Lebanon, they would've started doing so before the Syrians began to withdraw their troops and they wouldn't have started the attacks after the withdrawal. And why would they work on destroying their country if they were trying to protect it from the illegal foreign interference!? Instead, they could attack Syrian targets in Lebanon.

Let's go back to the 1st attack where Hariri was assassinated. Primary investigations suggested that the bomb weighed around 1000 kg (2200 pounds) and this is a point that deserves to be examined.
Who you think could possess, transport and place this huge amount of explosives?
I see only three possible parties here; the Lebanese government (or the army), the Syrian troops in Lebanon and finally Hizbollah.
The reason why I don't expect the presence of a fourth suspect here is because the Syrian intelligence elements are/were everywhere and watching everyone. Moreover, Hizbollah controls the southern borders with Israel and Syria is surrounding the rest of Lebanon which makes it almost impossible to get this amount of explosives into the country without being discovered.

Some might wonder why I'm focusing on the situation in Lebanon while the situation in my own country is still hot.

The reason is simple; the people in Iraq and the people in Lebanon are both facing one enemy which is the Ba'ath regime in Syria; the little brother of the Ba'ath wing in Iraq and as everyone in Iraq knows now, the Syrian Ba'ath is playing a major role in the terror activities in Iraq, part of which is indirect by providing shelter and funds for the remnants of the ex-regime and the other part is a direct one through sending foreign terrorists and military intelligence elements to carry out their deadly attacks in Iraq.
So defeating this enemy on one place will make it easier to defeat it on the other front.

What seems to be the most acceptable theory to me is that these attacks are part of an old strategy based on creating a state of instability to punish the people of Lebanon after pressure from the latter forced the former to leave the country. It is a futile attempt to convince the people of Lebanon and the international community that the Syrian army was playing the "peace keeper" in Lebanon and that once this "guardian" is out, peace and stability will be history.

This dirty game is emphasizing the sensitive chord of fear of a civil war in Lebanon. The Syrian leadership thinks that by intimidating the people they can restore their former positions of control in that country as if the people would say "come back please and bring our peace back with you"!

This is somewhat similar to what happened here in Iraq, the terror groups were trying to make the people think that Saddam was the safety valve in Iraq, keeping order and security within acceptable levels and since he got ousted, that order and security cannot be restored again and the country will be subject to the fires of chaos and civil war forever.

Now it's up to the people to decide what they want for themselves; some will step back and kneel to the threats but more will accept the challenge.
The hunger for freedom and the common challenges facing the people of the region will be the key for the *new* Middle East. As the peoples have begun to discover each other and realize their unity, not based on their religions or races but based on common interests and shared dreams.

The pan-Arab nationalists have tried to unite the countries of the region for half a century but they failed because they were favoring the glory of a particular race over the interests of the citizens but now, dropping these old, worn-out slogans will pave the way for a new and healthy type of unity; a unity chosen by the people to serve the people.

Believe me; I have never thought that I could feel so close to the people of Lebanon like I do today. Maybe this is one of the rare advantages of tyrannies; when they begin to fall apart, you begin to realize how much good you've been missing and how much good can be achieved.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Hi all,
Since it's Easter today, I'm going to shut up and spare you the effort and the headache of reading the usual crap about terrorists, governments and politics.
Go color your eggs and cook your turkeys and have fun.

Happy Easter to everyone.

One last thing, don't forget yourself while watching CNN or Jazeera, you don't want to your cookies to burn!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

The long road of democracy.

While a state of discomfort from the delay in announcing the formation of the government is growing on the streets in Iraq, the involved parties continue their discussions and negotiations to define the formation of the government and distribute the tasks and posts of the future administration.

An important point here is that people in Iraq have begun to absorb the democratic practice and they began to realize the democracy doesn't end once they cast the ballots and every new phase requires more time and effort. Expecting too much to happen from the 1st phase is an fantasy but still what has been achieved is very big considering the short time elapsed since the 1st steps of the change were made and the unfamiliarity of the people and the leaderships with the new experience.

The Iraqi elections were truly a source of pride for Iraqis and a scene of bravery that deserves a lot of respect from the world and the time has come for the people to be rewarded for their bravery by their elected future leaders who need to address their responsibilities towards their people.

What's really special about the post-election phase is the obvious consciousness of most political parties about the situation. They have understood that dialogue is the only way we have and everyone is learning how to sit to the negotiations table and show lots of patience. And despite the tension that we can see now, the talks have remained confined to the circle of civilized dialogue.

The talks between the Kurdish alliance and the National Coalition are still facing some obstacles and the debate is still on in what looks like a last-hour negotiations while the Iraqi list led by Allawi which is the 3rd largest mass in the national Assembly is still holding reservations about the formation of the government and has its own demands regarding taking part in the new formation. These demands and reservations were submitted in a memorandum to the Kurds and the Coalition after the liberal She'at cleric Hussain Al-Sadr criticized the Coalition's list saying:

Although the list is calling for the participation in a widely represented patriotic government, the Coalition's list is not doing practical steps to prove that.
And he also said
This delay is a stab in the back of the brave Iraqis who risked their lives to make the elections succeed.

Meanwhile, Allawi said that participation requires an accord regarding the political program and the logical pattern we want to adopt in Iraq, and not only having more parties joined in the government.

I think the most important points included in the memorandum are (via Iraqi media sources):
Preparing the military and security forces has to be kept far from partisan and sectarian interventions to make the security issue a national subject.
The memorandum has also demanded the process of deba'athification to be a lawful disciplined process through using evidence, facts and proofs and this point is controversial because the Coalition accuses Allawi of hosting former Ba'athists within his list.

And while the memorandum spoke well of the good and positive role of the clergy, it had also warned from the undesirable consequences that may happen if the clerics decided to go into the details of the political game, a thing that could detach the clergy from its original respectable role.

There was also clear call for a strong stand against the interference of the neighboring countries in the internal affairs of Iraq. The statement didn't name those countries but it's obviously pointing to Iran which ha been accused many times by Allawi of directing and instructing some members of the Coalition's list.
Finally the memorandum called to avoid any further extension for the interim phase.

As far as I know, no response was made to these demands, neither from the Kurds, nor from the Coalition. However they showed their comfort with what has been done during Allawi's term and called him "the man of democracy" who insisted on holding the elections on their planned date.

Some Iraqis still think that the Iraqi list of Allawi was the closest choice to a national Iraqi project as it's the least sectarian and least ethnocentric list among the rest of the list but it's still met with some criticism for endorsing elements of suspicious history and background.

Frankly speaking, I think that those who voted for the Iraqi list were the ones who could overcome their emotions and this segment -although being small when compared with the masses that voted for the other 2 main lists- represents a fair and promising percentage and indicates a growing sense of practicality that overrides the barriers of emotional loyalties.

Till tomorrow, Iraq will be still closely watching the progress of the talks and awaiting its outcome. I think that the gap is still big, except for if the Coalition and the Kurdish list decided to cut down on their partisan ambitions and favored the Iraqi national interest, which if they do, it would be a positive step that the people will remember and appreciate. And it will greatly reduce the time needed for building the new State of Iraq.

At the time the media and the interested observers are busy emphasizing on the violence in Iraq counting bodies (like war reporters do) they're missing a great revolutionary change being made in Iraq towards democracy.
The talks for democracy are much louder a sound than the noise of guns; words and logic are the victors beyond any doubt and the effects of the change in Iraq are spreading across the region.

Several days ago, Waleed Junbulat, the prominent Lebanese opposition leader who was against the war on Saddam at the beginning said
"I was wrong. The sun that rose on Iraq on the 9th of April is now shedding her bright light on the rest of the region".


Thursday, March 24, 2005

The 2nd anniversary.

These days we're living the 2nd anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom, an occasion that is very dear to my heart and the hearts of all freedom loving people all over the world.
This operation is still controversial to many people some are with and some are against it and many people still question the legal and ethical basis of this operation which continues to be a source for many visions regarding its future positive and negative effects on the region and the rest of the world.
It is ironic that many cities in the world witnessed "Anti-War" demonstrations while in Iraq, the people were demonstrating against Arab countries interfering with the internal affairs of Iraq.

Should we wait for the world to join us? Or maybe we're in a valley and the rest of the world is in another valley, like the old saying we have here.

Our support for this operation wasn't inspired from shallow reasons. It is inspired from the depth of the tragedy we lived in Iraq for 35 years under Saddam's regime and those who didn't live that tragedy will not be able to easily absorb my endorsement for the principle of using force to make the change.

Saddam and his gang knew nothing but force as a way to deal with my people and that's why using greater force was the only way that could get us out of the closed ring of despair, fear and organized violence that harvested the lives of more than two million Iraqis and made four other millions homeless, devastated the infrastructure and the economy and made Iraq among the poorest countries on earth, ruined the planet's most fertile lands and divided the sons of the one nation with his racist and sectarian conflicts-provoking policies.

A comparison is essential to understand what's going on; I don't care about what's being repeated by the media, I talk only about the facts I see everyday and not only today; my eyes are wide opened to the future of Iraq several years from now.

Iraq is definitely better nowadays than it was under Saddam despite all the sacrifices we had to give in the last 24 months and even by considering the body count (that I hate to mention) I see that Operation Iraqi Freedom has preserved too many human lives that could've been lost to the injustice and brutality of Saddam.
Like most Iraqis, I don't want Iraq to go back to the days of Saddam; nothing can match the freedom that we won. And let's not forget that most of the Iraqis who lost their lives in the last two years were victims of terrorism not the military operation itself.

Terrorism didn't come to Iraq after the fall of Saddam, only if one decides to consider that Saddam's doings are not terrorism: 5000 in Halabja in one day, 180 000 in Al-Anfal, 300 000 in the uprising in 1991, 70 000 from Al-Dawa party alone, many thousands of political opposition groups' members, thousands of people who refused to fight in Saddam's wars and were executed for no reason, amputation of limbs, tongues and ears, draining the marshes, depriving the people of all their basic rights and freedoms. The list can go forever.

The bad side effects of the liberation stand small when compared with what we have suffered from under Saddam's regime or when compared with what the progress that has been achieved since the liberation.

Saying that the post-liberation years have brought the worst to Iraq is a mere joke and carries all the signs of mental disorders or total ignorance.
I believe that those who are looking for a legal justification for the war on Saddam should take a look at the crimes that are being committed by oppressive regimes all over the world; dictators ruling with fire and steel taking legitimacy from the 'Pathetic Nations' and the international laws that bless the bloody hands of tyrants that are rejected by their desperate people.
One look at Darfur can make me feel sick of all what's being said about "law and legitimacy".
More that 100 000 human beings got killed in less than one month and no one dares even to say that the murderers shall be punished.
What law and what legitimacy are they talking about!!?
What kind of ethics stands behind this?

Silence and stagnation are the qualities of the helpless who would prefer pain and humiliation over the change for the better.
Humanity will not evolve without daring bravery in judging and rejecting the dark past and looking forward to changing the old ways.

All new ideas and ways were fiercely fought and called the worst names but the greatness of mankind lies in its love for progress.

Survival and development were always the outcome of taking the move not standing still and accepting what already exists.

We need to change the concepts and ways that no longer serve our problems and dreams. The old pillars of legitimacy and law are no longer representative of these values because they let crimes take place under the noses of the protectors of law and justice.

Yes, the world is divided regarding these issues but I'm certainly not going to stand with the side that is still looking to the past and that can do nothing but defending the worn out system and always fails to bring serious and realistic solutions for the problems of our time.
Denial is so easy and it spares the effort needed to correct the mistakes and weeping is the quality of losers and I don't to be in either positions.


Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hi everybody, I apologize for leaving without saying even a word; that wasn't a nice thing of me to do.
I went with Mohammed and a bunch of friends for a vacation to the north of Iraq and we have just returned back this afternoon. The people there were celebrating "Nawrouz" or the Kurdish New Year as well as the arrival of the beautiful spring season.

As a matter of fact, I thought that I would be posting from there but the beautiful sceneries and the ton of fun we had didn't give me the chance to blog anything.
It was also a vacation from the news and the media and I tried to avoid reading anything (even blogs) all the time I was there so I am totally clueless about what's happening in this world and I think it will take some time before my (blogging neurons) heat up again and start functioning!

I'd also like to apologize to all those who sent me e mails and didn't get a reply back from me; I'm trying to read and reply to as many as I can as soon as I can.

I'm still tired from the road but I'd like to share a few photos with you, here, here, here and here.

Serious blogging will be resumed tomorrow, hopefully.

Monday, March 14, 2005

As expected, angry and sad Iraqis have started protests against the sickening behavior of the family and tribe of the Jordanian terrorist who committed the bloody massacre of Hilla a few weeks ago.

Crowds gathered outside the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad on Sunday shouting:
"No, no to Jordan, close your embassy, we do not want to see you here"

However, AFP report said:

They urged the government to file charges against the family of Raed al-Banna, who the Iraqi media says carried out a car bombing on 28 February that killed at least 118 people and wounded scores more.

It's really odd that AFP failed to acknowledge that the identity of the suicide bomber was revealed by noone other than one of Jordan's most prominent newspapers, Al-Ghad!

The rapidly growing anger in the streets here promises more protests in the coming few days which I expect to be bigger than today's protest.
From where I stand, I feel that nothing shorter than punishing all the involved paries in that crime can calm the people who lost their loved ones.
The pro-Syria fabricated demonstration arranged by Hizbollah in Lebanon last week obviously couldn't achieve its goal and today, freedom is striking back, even with more power than ever.

The freedom/anti-Syria movement in Lebanon has successfully satisfied both requirements today; quality and quantity!

Update, a very creative sign from today's demonstrations (via Radio Sawa)

Either there is more and more good news coming out of both Iraq or Afghanistan, or the reporters are getting increasingly optimistic about the situation there, or both. Whatever's the answer, it's good news.

This is a conclusion Chrenkoff has reached after doing some math on his his beautiful series "Good news from Iraq" and "Good news from Afghanistan".
Read the 23rd round, here.

Some readers have criticized me for linking to Chrenkoff's series, saying that it doesn't make sense when an Iraqi depends on "some guy" from Australia to get news about his country.
I think this claim is unjustified because people from all over the world depend mostly on a number of news agencies to get news from other countries as well as their own countries!
Plus, I already know most of these news before they're published on Chrenkoff's blog but unfortunately I don't have enough time to put all these news on my blog and I found that there's no other available sources that gather and display this huge amount of news (whether from Iraq or Afghanistan) on regular basis with such enthusiasm and dedication like Chrenkoff's.

Oh, and by the way, I'm inclined to support the 1st possibility.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

According to radio Sawa and Iraq Net, the negotiations between the "United Iraqi Coalition" and the "Kurdish Alliance" have collapsed this afternoon.
The prominent Coalition figure Ahmed Chalabi explained the reasons for the failure of the negotiations in an interview on Al-Sharqiya TV. He blamed the Kurdish leaderships for this failure describing their demands as "unrealistic".
These demands were (as Chalabi stated):

-25% of the Nation's income goes to the Kurdish cities (3 provinces-if we exclude Kirkuk-out of 18 provinces).

-The Peshmarga (around 100 000 fighters) remain under command of the Kurdistan regional government not the central defense ministry and that those fighters shall not be asked to operate in other regions.

-The cost of keeping those 100 000 fighters should be provided by the central government.

-The Iraqi Army has no right to enter the Kurdish areas without permission from the regional government.

-The 75 Kurdish members of the elected national assembly should have the veto right over the rest of the assembly.

Till now, no official statement came from the Kurdish politicians to confirm or discredit the statement of Chalabi. However, one member of the Kurdish list appeared on Al-Hurra TV and didn't disapprove the news.

This news has come 3 days before the 16th of March that was expected to witness the declaration of the new government and if these statements of Chalabi were true then I guess that the Kurdish leaders have gone way too far in their demands.

I have always sympathized with the Kurds for what they have suffered from under the Ba'ath regime; all Iraqis were victims for that murderous regime and the Kurds have relatively suffered more than some other segments but this is all gone and now we're looking forward to building a new Iraq void of ethnic and sectarin differences and when it comes to disrupting the national unity in a critical time like this then such stubbornness is totally unacceptable especially when the demands are not that urgent.

I prefer not to talk anymore about this and I don't like to judge anyone until more details are disclosed but generally speaking, our politicians seem to have a lot more left to learn.
They have lived and operated as an opposition for a very long time and the time has come for them to learn how to think and behave as leaders.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Waheed, the new and only Afghani blogger is proving a good level of activity. He's providing a balanced coverage of events from his country reporting good and bad news but one story has really surprised me which I don't think we would ever hear of if blogs didn't exist.

Shorja announces sanctions on Syria!

Just to introduce Shorja to you, Shorja is Baghdad's (actually Iraq's) main trading center.
It's a very old neighborhood that lies in the heart of Baghdad. The streets of this area hosts markets that deal with all kinds of goods and you can find literally everything you want there, I mean EVERYTHING starting from nails and screws to PS2 and satellite receivers, foreign currencies, cigarettes, food stuff and the list doesn't end with snakes and goldfish!

My cousin who's a shop keeper has a weekly tour in Shorja to reequip his shop with the items that he had sold throughout the past week.

Yesterday I was there in his shop when he returned from his tour without some of the items he had on his purchase list, as he reported to his brother who runs the shop with him.

From my experience as an ex-shop keeper I expected that one or more of the roads from Jordan, Syria or Turkey has been closed but it wasn't the case this time.
My cousin explained saying:

I had a number of Syrian products which I couldn't find this time. The wholesaler that I usually deal with said that there has been some kind of an agreement among many of the main Iraqi importers to boycott the Syrian products.

When I asked him for the reason behind this decision he repeated the wholesaler's words to me:

After what we've seen on TV, we thought that it's totally unpatriotic to trade with that country; the Syrian government is benefiting from trade with Iraq and using the money they get to fund the criminals who slaughter our people. Not only that; the ordinary people themselves started to prefer products from other origins over Syrian products so we thought that it's better to search for alternatives for the boycotted items.

Frankly speaking the story amazed me because for the 1st time I see merchants putting economic benefit in the second place and the decision was made spontaneously, unlike Saddam's orders of boycotting western products back in the early 90's which forced wholesalers as well as small shop keepers who depended on those products for a great portion of their incomes to adopt a high level of secrecy in their exchanges.

This time it's a result of the growing sense among the public that the Syrian Ba'athist regime must be held accountable for a great deal of terrorism in Iraq. Maybe this isn't going to change much of the situation but it indicates that the people have begun to realize their duties towards their country.
They began to understand that fighting terror is not only the responsibility of the coalition or the government and that they can always contribute to securing their country even with a small part like this initiative.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

A new member joins the ever-growing blogosphere, this time from Afghanistan!
Waheed (a 20 year old guy) talks a little in his 1st blog post about the ANA (Afghan National Army) and provides short notes about the TV stations and the availability of internet service in his country:

During the Taliban we didn’t have internet system in Afghanistan but now there are about 25 net cafes in Kabul, and also some in Herat, Kandahar and Balkh provinces. People are really interested to use the internet but its too expensive for people to use it - only rich people can afford it. Durng the Taliban Government we didn’t have any TV channels but now we have 4 TV channels in Kabul and for the first time in Ghazni, Balkh, Herat and Kandahar provinces.

Read the whole thing.
(Hat tip: Paul Edwards)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

I feel that I need to comment on the latest pro-Syria demonstrations in Lebanon that were arranged for by Hizbollah.
I have noticed that some media sources are focusing on the size of the demonstrations and the number of the people who were gathered to attend at that time and place.
I think that the number of participants doesn't make a demonstration strong at all.
The BBC says :
The crowd dwarfed previous opposition protests urging Syrian troops to leave.

I think that the opposite is true as it proves how the tyrants in Syria and their allies in Lebanon are so scared of the growing sense of liberty among the people in Lebanon.
The reason why I adopt this opinion is very simple; the opposition rallies were calling for liberty to their country and rejecting the Syrian interference which has infiltrated all important life sectors in Lebanon in the last 15 years.
While Hizbollah's rallies are allegedly opposing the "western foreign interference" which in fact doesn't exist!
Moreover, these rallies are actually encouraging the Syrian interference (that's foreign interference, right?) in the interior affairs of Lebanon and condemning the decision of international community represented by resolution 1559.

I see no patriotism at all in holding pictures of another country's president (err…I mean tyrant) and chanting "Long live Asad…Long live Syria" when that very administration you're cheering and chanting for has been keeping your country a hostage for over a decade.

Another point is that bringing too many people by buses doesn't mean that you're right. Actually it reminds me of demonstrations in Iraq under the Ba'athist regime (Oops, I forgot that the Ba'athists still rule in Syria!)

At least one opposition leader said the pro-Syrian government pressured people to turn out Tuesday and some reports said Syria bused in people from across the border. The MSNBC reports.

I see no courage at all in today's demonstrations unlike the previous demonstrations that defied tyranny and challenged the dangers for the sake of liberty.
Comparing these pictures says it all! (the 1st one from Hizbollah's demonstartions while the other two are from the previous real demonstrations)

Okay, maybe I'm a little bit biased !

A huge weapon cache discovered in Mosul (photo from Radio Sawa).

Monday, March 07, 2005

Big Pharaoh notices a change in the way the Egyptian mainstream newspapers report about attacks on civilians in Iraq.

My jaws dropped when I read this caption. This is the FIRST time Al Ahram, Egypt’s largest newspaper, uses the word terrorist to describe an attack on Iraqi civilians in Iraq!!! It never happened before. Such attacks were simply described as “bombings” without the word “terrorist”.

Read more here (scroll down).
Chrenkoff has another round of "Good news from Afghanistan".
An informative post that talks about the changes in many spects of life in that country.
Good job from Chrenkoff as usual!
Ali sets other parameters for measuring the success of the Iraqi elections and offers a deeper analysis on the outcome of these elections and the factors that govern the Iraqi political arena while the people are awaiting the formation of the new government. He also sheds light on a number of inter-partisan discussions and reminds us of some dangers that may retard the progress and stability in Iraq.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Al Iraqiya TV exposes terror cells again.

Last night, Al Iraqiya TV broadcasted another round of confessions and interrogations with some of the recently captured terrorists. I have heard a lot about this program and we even posted links to some information and quotes from it but this was the 1st time for me to watch it in person and it's really difficult to describe the feelings I had while watching those vampires voicing their confessions and looking weak and helpless while describing how they carried out their bloody operations that terrified the civilians for a long time.

Frankly speaking, Mohammed has been encouraging me to follow this program for a while now, he's a daily follower of this program and he's been telling me what he has seen in different previous episodes. I am not much into watching TV but what I have been hearing about this series and the people's reactions to it on the streets made me finally decide to give it some time. This time the terrorists were captured in the city of Hilla/Babylon.

The majority was Iraqis (all were men except for one woman) but there was also a number of Arabs in the group, mainly from Sudan!
The 1st criminal the interrogator started with was a 27 year old man
from the southern suburbs of Baghdad between Baghdad and Hilla.
He confessed of performing several attacks against the IP and the ING men killing a total of 15 IP men and 6 ING soldiers.
It's very upsetting to know that pathetic men like this criminal charged 250000 ID (less than 200$!) for each operation they perform regardless of the number of the "targets" being eliminated.
A second terrorist described in his confession how he took part in kidnapping 6 IP men and blowing up the police station in the town of Msayab using a number of IEDs and later executing the 6 policemen. All this for 250000 ID for each one of the 8 members of the gang!

Back to the 1st terrorist. When he was asked about his group he said that he was a member of the "Islamic Army" group. I will quote a short part of the conversation that took place between the officer and the criminal on TV.

Officer: were you doing these killings for Jihad?
Criminal: yes Sir.
Officer: for Jihad or for money?
Criminal: for both Sir.
Officer: how could Jihad be paid for!!
Criminal: (no answer)
Officer: you're Muslim?
Criminal: yes
Officer: on ID card, huh?
Criminal: yes
Officer: do you pray or go to the mosque?
Criminal: no
Officer: do you drink?
Criminal: yes Sir.
Officer: so you don't pray and you don't go to the mosque and you drink and you kill for money and after all this you call your evil doings Jihad?!!! And you call your group the "Islamic Army"!!
Criminal: (no answer again)
Officer: so, tell me about those 9 policemen. Where were they coming from and where were they heading?
Criminal: coming from 'Msayab and heading to Hilla
Officer: so they weren't coming from Tel Aviv? (from the officer's tone, obviously mocking the conspiracy theorists).
Criminal: no Sir, they were Iraqis.

This question which has been repeated over and over again in this program is now ringing in the ears and minds of the people. Why are these terrorists killing the people? Is it Jihad? NO because they're charging money for it.
Is it to "liberate Iraq from the occupiers"? Again the answer is NO because the victims were Iraqis in almost all of the attacks.
Is it to "defend Islam"? The answer is still NO because what has an alcoholic got to do with religion.

The worrisome part was when the terrorist stated that the 1st operation they performed was done in cooperation with an IP sergeant who provided the schedule about the movement of the IP men who were going home for a vacation. And the victims were unarmed by the way in all the cases but one.
This has to be noticed and dealt with by the officials in the ministry of interior because such statements indicate that some security systems are infiltrated by bad elements. Previous massacres brought this theory to the surface but now there are facts and evidence that clearly identify these dangerous defects.

I was happy like many other people that terror cells are being located and busted one after the other but there was also some deal of fear; there were breaks throughout the program in which some shots were taken from previous episodes. I recall one of the terrorists who was working as a taxi driver explaining why he shot a man in the head. His words were "he sounded like a "collaborator" so I decided that he should be killed". This could have happened to anyone and this is scary indeed.

It's also worth mentioning that most of the performers are people with simple careers while the heads of the cells are in most of the cases ex-officers in the republican guard and middle ranking former Ba'athists and there are always some joint officers from Syria and in this case the Syrian agent's code name was Abu Ivan (no further details were provided).

Regardless of what might be said about the inappropriateness of showing these interrogations and regardless of all the discussions about human rights and Geneva conventions...etc, I believe that it was necessary to bring these confessions and interrogations to the public because this is smething that touches the lives of the people in many places and in many ocassions, therefore the people deserve to know everything about it.

Here in Iraq, it DID make a difference as it helped more people who had uncertain thoughts about the "insurgency" get the right picture of the nature of the "insurgents" motivations, goals and ideology. And I think it will also have a positive effect on the performance of the security forces.
The progress may be happening slowly but the situation is promising; the people and the security forces are actively building a untied front to face terrorism and this is what we really need to secure our country.

Friday, March 04, 2005

A new and promising blog from an Iraqi expatriate living in London, take a look.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said European blacklisting would "destroy" his group.

Will the EU behave rationally and take the right move this time??
Chemical Ali refuses to wear diapers!
But why would he need them in the 1st place?
The answer is very simple: He's wetting his pants!!
Thanks for the laugh Dweller.
The 1st satellite intelligence system for the ministry of interior is under construction now in Baghdad.

This center would provide police forces, which are spread all over Iraq, with the latest information and security reports, in addition to providing with them with instant support.
Read more details here.
Ali thinks that "Al Jazeera has a good effect on the Arab street".
Well, this may sound pretty much illogical from the 1st look but Ali has discussed it in a way that makes a lot of sense and I tend to agree with his perspective.
A good achievement for women in the political arena in Afghanistan.
For the 1st time in this country, a woman has been chosen to become a governor.
Although the event iteslf isn't that big but it is indicative of the direction that country is moving along.