For the past few days Baghdad was shrouded in black in a mood that revives the holy tragedies of the Islamic history of Iraq as if there's insistence on reliving the past over and over again and especially on living in the agony of the of a past that is centuries old.
For many Iraqis, the wheel of time had stopped 14 centuries ago and it seems that it is the past not the present that is more influential in the lives and mentality of many Iraqis.
The day before Ashura I couldn't reach my workplace and the taxi driver had to turn back after the first block we faced, the driver turned to me and said "if al-Hussein whom we mourn comes back and looks at our condition, he would be mourning us".
Remembering the past and learning from its mistakes is a good thing but drowning in the sadness of the past to distract one's self from the problems of the present is not wise at all especially when you hear slogans like this one:
Every day is Ashura and every land is Kerbala…
This is one of the most common slogans repeated by Shia Muslims in Iraq nowadays and it clearly tells people to believe that their own suffering, no matter how big or tragic cannot be as big or worth caring for as al-Hussein's.
I am not against the Shia faith but I feel that religious Shia parties are exploiting the faith of the common people to keep them busy with a past that is long gone and distract them from their own troubles.
Government offices too have turned into Husseiniyat [Shia worship places] with black flags and black signs in a scene of systematic sucking up to religion.
This has also infested the security forces especially those belonging to the interior ministry, the day before Ashura I saw a convoy of some 20 vehicles of the 2nd commandos brigade all flying black flags and religious symbols. If not for the color of the vehicles, I would've thought they were pilgrims.
Anyway, thank God the day passed without adding another tragedy and went without any significant security incidents.
Life paused not only on the street level, the mourning has crept into the political life too as the largest parliamentary bloc suspended all talks and activities until the ceremonies were done with. However, religious speeches during Ashura included political signals and spoke of federalism as an earned right for the Shia and of Deba'athification as a priority that must not be subject to compromises, according to a few preachers I heard on TV.
Internal talks within the UIA to choose their candidate for heading the government were suspended and are not supposed to be resumed until Saturday.
This lack of official statements left the door open for rumors and unverifiable news reports.
For example al-Arabiya TV reported that al-Fadheela Party and the independent mass within the UIA decided to withdraw the nomination of their leaders Shahristani and al-Jabiri and are going to support AbdulMahdi in his run for office.
Al-Fadheela Party immediately responded to this report; a spokesman of the party told al-Hurra TV just half an hour ago that the former news isn't true and that al-Jabiri is still looking forward to getting the endorsement of the rest of the UIA's components to win the PM position.
Earlier today, the election commission and the electoral judicial committee announced that all objections to the final results had been overruled (as expected) and now the results are final and official which means the parliament has to hold its first session before February 25th and the parliamentary blocs can now begin with their serious negotiations.
The good news brought by the announcement was that women have secured their constitutional right in the parliament by getting even one seat more than the originally desired 69 seats which represent 25% of the 275 seats.
The Kurds, in a statement for Talabani said they'll consider the attitudes of the other blocs regarding article 58 of the constitution concerning Kirkuk as the main criterion for building future alliances.
As you may already know, the Kurds now represent the 3rd largest bloc in the parliament and not the 2nd after al-Mutlaq joined the Accord Front and Allawi in one united front with 80 seats they called "The United Congress for National Work".
Meanwhile and regarding the security situation in Anbar, it looks like that the negotiations between the tribes and the US and Iraqi authorities are progressing again after we heard reports that these talks reached a deadlock a week ago.
This afternoon sheikh Usama al-Jada'an the chief sheikh of Karabla tribes said in a TV interview that they're getting close to cut a deal with the US and Iraqi authorities; the deal includes gradual withdrawal of US forces from Anbar, freeing a certain number of Iraqi security detainees and rebuilding the police force of the province with recruits exclusively from the local population with a total of up to 11,300 men.
In return the tribes will form teams of tribal fighters to deal with al-Qaeda cells that are present inside the territories of Anbar as well as sealing the borders with Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia.
While foreign intruders can be seen and possibly intercepted, there's another intruder that is silent and invisible and unfortunately succeeded in passing the borders spreading fear among the people, Fayrouz has been keeping a watchful eye on this threat.