Sunday, October 31, 2004

What Iraqis think of the French government.

France is the biggest enemy for Iraq.
Hamza Al Jawahiri.

I know the huge amount of oil France had stolen from Iraq.
Mohammed Jawad Asher.

France role is known through the modern history as supporter of dictatorships. France blocked the democratic path in Algeria and now Iraq.
Al Kenany

No, To New Barbaric Murders Supported by France, Yes, For Free Democratic IRAQ.
Radhi Al-Hashimy

These are some of the comments made by Iraqis who signed an appeal to the UN to stop France’s attempts to hinder the democratic process in Iraq.
The petition was organized by a group of Iraqi civil society organization and was directed to the UN and addressed “To any person support democracy in Iraq”. The petition was put on line few days ago and till this date they have gathered around 380 signatures from Iraqis inside and outside Iraq but the number is increasing by dozens everyday. The majority were Iraqis living abroad and I guess this is because of the Internet access is more available outside Iraq.

Unfortunately many comments were written in Arabic and seemed to be encoded that even I couldn’t view them, but still there are many comments in English. I know that many people would probably say that such actions are ineffective, and they have a point. Still I see it as a wonderful development that Iraqis are starting to organize such group activities making use of the Internet as the fastest way to achieve contact with the largest possible number of Iraqis. In addition to that, such appeals and the one organized by “Arab Liberals” send a message to the terrorists and those who support them and who claim to help Iraqi people that Iraqis do not support their actions and moreover condemn them. It’s helpful in exposing these people and also discouraging these terrorists whom many of them are being sent to Iraq and told that Iraqis need their help to be “liberated”.

It’s also helpful in showing Iraqis who believe in democracy and new Iraq to see that they are not a minority as the media tries to show them and that there are so many of their brothers and sisters who want what they want; peace and democracy. It’s a start for a more effective and more organized activities by the Iraqi people who were silenced for such a long time, and who till now are being terrorized inside their land.

Here’s the translation for the appeal as provided on line:

Your Excellency, Mr. Kofi Annan,
Secretary General of the United Nations

We extend our best greetings and highest appreciation,

We, the undersigned, Iraqi civil society organizations as well as a group of Iraqi and Arab intellectuals are gravely concerned at the continuing attempts of certain governments to undermine the democratic process in Iraq. In the vanguard of these governments stands the French government. Since the start, this government has opposed the endeavours of the international community to help the Iraqi people end the despotic rule of Saddam Hussein, a rule that posed a threat to international peace and security, under the pretext of protecting the integrity of the Iraqi people. It threatened to resort to the veto in the UN Security Council to thwart any resolution which could help the Iraqi people rid themselves of the dictatorial regime.

After the liberation of Iraq under United States leadership and supported by many countries in the world, the French government called for the participation of the Baath party in the transitional government in spite of that party’s totalitarian thought, nationalistic fanaticism and sanguinary past. These efforts were repeated in different forms including the persistent call for the withdrawal of multinational forces from Iraq, forces which Iraq needs in order to ensure security. The last such effort was the French government’s demand to convene an international conference in Egypt to include governments and representatives of what it calls factions of the “Iraqi resistance”. We wish to confirm to you that this “resistance” is none other than an alliance of remnants of the ousted regime in Baghdad and non-Iraqi Islamist and extremist terrorist groups affiliated to the Al Qaida organization led by Osama Ben Laden whose Iraq branch is headed by the Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, as well as organized crime gangs previously released by Saddam Hussein before his fall.

The Iraqi government objected to the presence of terrorists at this conference, one which is a gathering of governments and not a joint meeting with non-governmental organizations. This stance was supported by Iraqi civil society organizations. This notwithstanding, the French government submitted a new proposal calling for the holding of a special conference to which “factions of the Iraqi resistance” would be invited under the appellation “Iraqi civil society organizations”. This term implies that these are merely peace-loving civil society organizations which believe in democracy, reject violence and terrorism and strive to protect human rights and society by peaceful means. We do not know whether the French government has accepted that representatives of these terrorists groups would attend masked, or if it will ask them to remove their masks so that hostages would recognize their kidnappers and witnesses of beheadings would behold the face of murderers.

We believe that the purpose which the French government seeks through all of the above is to accord international legitimacy to terrorist groups in Iraq, delay elections sought by the Iraqi people and press for the withdrawal of the multinational forces before stability is established and before security and democracy are realized in Iraq. This contradicts Security Council resolution No. 1546 which was approved by the very same French Government, a resolution that gave the Iraqi Transitional Government the sole right and authority to demand the withdrawal of these forces. We believe that withdrawal of the multinational forces in this critical transitional phase in the life of the Iraqi people is tantamount to paving the road, either to the restoration of the Saddam Hussein regime– one that has filled Iraq with mass graves and displaced millions of its sons – so that it may pursue its persecution of the Iraqi people, or transform Iraq into a large hotbed that attracts criminals, thieves, murderers and terrorists turning it into a centre of international terrorism with the attendant threat to peace and security of the peoples of the region and the world.
We therefore appeal to you, Your Excellency the Secretary General, to call on the governments of the states neighbouring Iraq as well as the French government to rectify their negative positions vis-à-vis the Iraqi people and to join the international community in the bid to help Iraq and its people defeat terrorism, realize security and democracy and rebuild their country, thereby restoring peace and security to the Middle East region, key to security and stability in the world.

With sincere thanks and appreciation,


1- President George Bush, President of the United States of America, the White House, Washington D.C.
2- Mr. Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, 10 Downing Street, London.
3- Mr. Jack Straw, Foreign Minister, U.K Foreign Ministry, London.
4- President Vlademir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Moscow.
5- President Guojia Zhuxi, President of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing.
6- President Jacques Chirac, President of France, Paris.
7- Mr. Gerhard Schroeder, Chancellor of Germany, Berlin.
8- Mrs. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commission of the European Union, Brussels.
9- Mr. Iyad Allawi, Prime Minister, Government of Iraq, Baghdad.
10- Mr. Hoshyar Zebari, Foreign Minister of Iraq, Baghdad.
11- Mr. Ahmed Abu Al Gheit, Foreign Minister of Egypt, Cairo.
12- Mr. Amr Mousa, Secretary General of the League of Arab States, Cairo.

Here is the link to the petition, and here you can view the signatures.

I just found about a new Iraqi blogger. His blog is titled "Ibn Al Rafidain" which means, Son of the two rivers. Check it out and give him some encouragment please.
(Thanks to reader Jeff Reeds).

Thursday, October 28, 2004

During a press conference that was held yesterday in Baghdad, Mithal Al Alousi, an ex-chief member of the INC (and a member of the DeBa’athification committee) announced the formation of the “Iraqi Nation Democratic Party”. This came after Al Alousi got dismissed from the INC few weeks ago for his controversial visit to Israel last month.

Mr. Alousi mentioned that he intends to run for office in the coming election.
He also stressed that if he became part of the authority in Iraq he wouldn’t mind “visiting hell” if this is going to serve Iraq’s national interests (in a signal to his previous visit to Israel).

“The Palestinians have communications with Israel, and so do the regimes in Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Oman, Tunisia and even Iran although we don’t know exactly the size of communication between Iran and Israel”
He also criticized Saddam’s policies in dealing with the Palestinians
“Iraq was generous with both, financial and moral support but the result was an economic disaster and terrible living conditions for the people but on the other hand, millions of dollars accumulated in bank accounts of the corrupt officials.”
From Sawt Al Iraq (Link in Arabic).

It’s worth mentioning that this visit to Israel was to attend an anti-terrorism conference and he was the first Iraqi politician to visit Israel without hiding it from the public, but Alousi was faced with storm of harsh criticism in response to the visit and ‘strangely’ most of the criticism came from Arab countries rather than from Iraqis.

It’s enough to note that the man is back in Baghdad, without even any protection after being dismissed from the INC, forming a political party and planning to run for office and till now no one heard that he received any threats.

I recall Alousi’s words in an interview he gave to an Arab station some time ago where he defended his position saying (not the exact words of course but the meaning is pretty much the same)
“Had I felt that I was doing something wrong by going to Israel and if I had bad intentions, I wouldn’t do it in public. I care a lot about transparency in my communications, unlike Arab leaders or some other Iraqi politicians. I went there to participate in a conference about terrorism to discuss one of greatest dangers threatening Iraq”.

Whether we agree or disagree with the man and whether he has his own agenda or not, we have to respect his courage and honesty, as collaborators don’t show their faces in such a bold way; they wear masks!
Congratulations my friends!! few months more and you’ll be able to watch the same sh** we’re watching here.
We will all be able to watch and enjoy the indispensable and most honest news station of all times, Al Jazeera.
We tried many times to describe to you how biased and hateful the channel is but some of you kept saying “No way, you must be exaggerating. No channel can be more biased than the BBC or CNN”.
Now, you’re about to explore Al jazeera yourselves; “Al Jazeera International” is planned to be launched in 2005 and it will be in English with four bureaus in London, Doha, Washington and somewhere in far east Asia.

The managing director of the new branch of Al Jazeera, Nigel Parsons said that the programs they intend to broadcast from the new channel are going to be slightly different from the ones currently showed on the Arabic mother channel.

The network said last month it planned to launch an English-language news channel to counteract what it says is unbalanced reporting from Western networks such as CNN and the BBC”
Funny, right?

Parsons also said :
"Our target audience is everyone who speaks English. We will have a slightly different agenda than the Arabic speaking channel”

You’re going to become targets ! Everybody, take cover !

Read the full story here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

*Our government is now online! The website is still under construction in some of its parts though.

*Baghdad dweller expresses her objection to the term “Sunni triangle”

"This is wrong and it’s discrimination against many Sunni people who don’t accept the killings in Iraq".
*Alaa has an informative post in which he explained the geo-demographic nature of the “triangle of death”.

*Kurdo is talking about the Kurd’s plans for the coming elections and the anticipated democratic changes in Kurdistan.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Arab Liberals speak!

Yesterday, I found a very interesting letter on “Sawt Al Iraq”.
It was prepared by a group of recognized Arab thinkers among whom is the Iraqi former minister of planning Dr. Jawad Hashim who’s been living in exile since the late 1970's.

The letter is calling for the establishment of an international court to prosecute individuals or groups who support and justify terrorisim, namely clerics who release “fatwas” that provoke hatred and encourage terrorist attacks(like Qaradawi for example), and the letter will eventually be sent to the Security Council and the UN secretary general after getting sufficient support.

The letter was shown in Arabic and an e-mail address is provided, where readers who are interested in this subject can contact Dr. Jawad and support the request by signing the letter, so I e-mailed him offering my support and my signature and I asked him to send me the letter in English if possible as I thought that it would be a good idea to spread the word about this letter, and perhaps this will get more people to give their signatures.

Today, I got a reply from Dr.Jawad with a translated version of the letter and it was amazing to know that within a couple of days, they managed to collect over 10 000 signatures from Arab liberals, writers and intellectuals.
Support coming from anywhere would be helpful of course but I understood from his reply that he would prefer support from inside the Arab or Muslim world and I assume that he thinks that this way there will be no chance for those who believe in conspiracies to question the integrity of this project, as those idiots will not hesitate to call it a “crusade” if the support came from westerners.

Here’s the full story.

And here's the link in Arabic.


Monday, October 25, 2004

Hell and Paradise.

I received an invitation from the “Iraq cultural house” to attend a lecture about art and community.
This association includes a special group of Iraqi artists; poets, critics and actors who were denied the opportunity to get their voices to the public during the dark age of Saddam and now they’re trying to find a place for them among the lines to build our new Iraq.

They came carrying their worries and dreams and a wild desire to renew and improve the public awareness. They are so willing to create and add something new to the community and they didn’t let their poverty and lack of resources be an obstacle in their way, even that some of them came walking on foot from distant places just to not miss the chance for meeting and exchanging ideas.

The lecture was about the Iraqi folkloric poetry and the guest of honor was an Iraqi poet who had to remain silent and hide what he writes in Saddam’s days.
His papers were locked up in a secret place that even his family didn’t know about, and yesterday was the time for those papers to see the light, to share with everybody the stories that was hidden inside his heart before the 9th. Of April.

Poems and conversations went on like a stream, mixing art with politics until the organizer asked the audience to overlook the differences in opinions and focus on the main topic of the meeting which was discussing a special kind of folkloric poetry and here one of the audience cried out:

“to hell with art if it didn’t tell our suffering. All of our poems, paintings and plays are nothing but a documentation and a description for our pains and love for freedom. We won’t separate this from that; it’s all for the sake of Iraq. We were showing our works on the sidewalks and we faced prison far our words while the regime’s pets were stealing all the lights and attention. I am a folk poet but when poetry turned into a propaganda tool for Saddam, I decided not to write anything.”

The guy was very excited and somewhat angry. I asked about him and I was told that he’s a member of a group of artists who call themselves “poor without borders” and spend most of their time having discussions on the sidewalks despite that they were registered as an NGO and had an office! In the past they refused the tyrants’ offers and suffered a lot and still suffering till this moment because the cheap voices can always find their way to the arms of the authorities and can reach more easily while those poor and honest guys will always find it extremely difficult to find their deserved places.

Strangely you can find some of those who spent their lives praising the Ba’ath and now they came back in a new look, using the tone of the change while our poor friends decided to be an opposition, regardless what the government was, is or will be.

One of them suddenly jumped and shouted “Someone said in the newspapers said that who refuse to vote will burn in hell. I say, IT’S AN HONOR FOR ME TO GO TO HELL!”
Many voices of approval were heard in the hall, mainly of members of the same organization “WELCOME TO HELL. IT’S A PLEASURE TO MEET YOU THERE” “NO ONE SHALL TELL US WHAT TO DO ANYMORE” “WE ARE NOT VOTING UNTIL WE’RE SURE THAT OUR VOICES ARE GOING TO BE HEARD”
The rest of the audience tried hard to calm them “it’s ok..we’ve suffered with you” or “this is our opportunity to make a difference” or “maybe no one represents us right now but let’s look for the future. We must support election for the sake of the future of democracy”.

The majority were actually with the elections but some of them just didn’t like that someone is still claiming responsibility for them and threatening them if they disobey, regardless of the nature of the threat. The conversations left poetry and switched to politics and this is natural for any meeting here in Iraq; we start talking about something and suddenly we find ourselves talking about politics and the voices get loud and anxious.

I started shooting .pictures and I was full of joy; having such a conversation with no fear was impossible in the past and I just can’t help feel the joy every time I see it till now! Everyday I see a similar situation in a house or a university. Everyone feels responsible for Iraq’s future and everyone is looking forward for active contribution.

We’re changing so quickly and the concept of one opinion and one point of view is becoming part of history.
Who said that nothing has changed?! Who claimed that the present is worse than the past?!
I wish they could attend even one of those meetings or lectures to see the progress we’ve so far made, and let them know that these meetings and discussions are much more in number and in effect than the car bombings but unfortunately they don’t attract the same attention.

Many people describe Iraq these days as a hell, and I want to say that this 'hell' is my paradise despite all the dangers and difficulties and even losses, as these struggles make the process itself a real life, a joy that only oppressed people with dignity can sense when they become free, and I truley feel sorry for anyone who doesn't see it this way.

-By Mohammed

Good news from Iraq, part 13.

Some people criticize us and other bloggers and journalists who adopt optimistic perspectives similar to ours.

They seem to think that we’re ignoring the bad things that are happening in Iraq and focusing only on the good side just to serve the agenda of the American administration or the so called “neo conservatives”.
This is not true, as we have never said that Iraqi is a perfect place and that progress is being made in lighting speed. We acknowledge the difficulties and the terrible losses and each loss, whether among Iraqis or coalition forces makes us really sad and discourages us for a while.

The difference is that we can also see the good things that are being done; we want to encourage such progress and promote a better vision for Iraq’s future.
Most of the optimists and pessimists do have an agenda, but not all, as there are some pessimists as well as optimists who are honest in the way they deal with the Iraqi issue and we respect both but we ‘chose’ to be optimistic and not allow ourselves to be discouraged because Iraq, the region and the whole world needs such attitude. It is a commitment just as it is a personal perspective. On the other side; pessimism, although understandable but very dangerous in this particular struggle and it approaches the verge of defeatism, which while not that disastrous when dealing with new projects or adventures, is catastrophic in such a crucial conflict.

Chrenkoff sees this and recognized “two Iraqs” in a way that is very difficult to be seen by people other than Iraqis living inside Iraq. As he put it:

There are two Iraqs.

The one we more often get to see and read about is a dangerous place, full of exploding cars, kidnaped foreigners and deadly ambushes. The reconstruction is proceeding at a snail's pace, frustration boils over and tensions - political, ethnic, religious - crackle in the air like static electricity before a storm.

The other Iraq is a once prosperous and promising country of twenty-four million people, slowly recovering from physical and moral devastation of totalitarian rule. It's a country whose people are slowly beginning to stand on their own feet, grasp the opportunities undreamed of only two years ago, and dream of catching up on three decades of lost time.

Read the whole piece here.
(Aso available from the "Opinion Journal" and "Winds of Change").

Sunday, October 24, 2004

What happened yesterday is one of the ugliest massacres that targeted Iraqis since the 9th. of April but this one belongs to a category of attacks that is somehow different from the rest because the terrorists didn’t attack a base for the ING, an oil pipeline or any type of fixed targets; a bus or convoy of cars are not easy to locate and identify, especially when the victims are not wearing uniforms and this suggests the occurrence of treason in this attack and this what makes me even more angry.

There are two possible theories to explain how this happened, the first one suggests that there are infiltrators among the ING and/or the IP in that region, which is quiet possible as we heard more than once about officers (among whom were some high ranking officers) being dismissed from service for suspicions regarding their loyalty.
Add to this that the area is considered a stronghold for Wahabi extremists who might have used the information provided by a corrupt officer to carry the attack on the recruits who came from Southern cities.

Another fact that I almost forgot is that during the war, most of the active Ba’ath members and high ranking officers left Baghdad and headed towards either Anbar or Diyala provinces and many of those never came back, settled there and mixed with the population and probably joined the ING and this is one of the reasons why these two provinces became fields for countless anti-Iraqis and anti-coalition activities.

The second theory talks about the possible involvement of the Iranian intelligence in planning for the massacre and this explanation looks reasonable too because this region in Diyala province is close to the borders with Iran which makes it easy for criminal elements to sneak across the borders (just as Mosul and Anbar are close to Syria) and at different times there were reports about arresting intruders coming from Iran in this region or neighboring ones.

Whatever the mechanism of the attack was, the ministries of defense and interior must perform a full review for their staff’s backgrounds out there and the IP and ING must be scanned thoroughly for infiltrators because we can’t afford to see tens of young Iraqis die because of a stupid mistake.

Anyway, it’s not all doom and gloom everywhere and together with the bad news there always come some uplifting good news to tell the terrorists that we are not giving up... never.
And is a bunch of today’s good news :

-The IP, assisted by the multinational forces stopped two attempts for blowing up the oil pipelines that transport the Iraqi oil from Kirkuk’s oil fields to Jihan’s port in Turkey securing an export capacity of 300 000 barrels/day.

-The IP in Basra arrested the members of 7 different gangs, freeing a number of hostages that have been abducted by those gangs in order to ask for ransoms.
Also the IP found 29 different stolen vehicles on the gangs and returned them to their owners.
Meanwhile, three Iranians, smuggling hashish were also arrested near Basra.

-The IP in Kirkuk arrested a gang responsible for robbery and abduction and utilizing the money they make to supply terrorist groups with weapons and ammunition.

-Six new police stations were opened in Samarra to enforce law and order in the city that was recently cleaned from hundreds of terrorists.

*news from New Sabah.
Iran has reportedly asked the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to add 97.2 billion dollars to its Iraqi debt assessment to cover reparations for the 1980-1988 war between the two countries.

From my place I’d like to assure the Mullahs and tell them :
Don’t worry our Muslim brothers, we’re never going to run away from our commitments towards our friends in Iran and we intend to compensate for those damages although were cause by Saddam’s regime, as we were part of this in a way by not stopping that brutal dictator from destroying your country. So as a free Iraqi citizen I want to tell you on behalf of all Iraqis that we will use our new found freedom to pressure the elected government in the future to pay you what could help you overcome the tragic losses that were inflicted on you by Saddam’s regime.
One small detail, we want to schedule this, as it’s not possible to pay all this money tomorrow! So I think it would be fair that our future elected government start handing this money to the Iranian government without any delay...soon after Operation Iranian Freedom.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Clerics endorse democracy.

The elections fever is obviously rising up in Iraq and the belief in the necessity of the elections for the future of Iraq and in the importance of participating in this process is entering the hearts and minds of more Iraqis day by day as the time for elections is getting nearer.

Also we can see more statements coming up from various parties calling the Iraqis to vote in the coming elections and there’s no indication for who’s going to win in this 'announcements race' as many of these concentrate on the necessity of participating and voting for whomever the voters find qualified to represent them.

Today, Ahmed Al Safi, a senior aide of Ayatollah Sistani announced (link in Arabic) that “Those who don’t participate in the elections will end up in hell” and he added in his speech “we must bear the responsibility and we must all participate in the elections because it’s a patriotic duty and not doing so is like treason
He also denied the news that spread about Sistani preparing or supporting a particular list of candidates.

This announcement serves the purpose, In spite of the harsh extremism in it.
We all don’t like the interference of clerics in politics but the reality is that they still have a considerable influence on many Iraqis and right now we need all the support we can get. Besides, this shows that 'traditional Islam' is not exactly against democracy as some people claim. Yes, they want to use democracy to get to power because they think they represent the majority but don’t all parties think the same?

The important thing is that they’re not against the process and the only important question that remains is that, if they lose, will they accept it or not? I-on my part-believe that Sistani would accept the loss of the powers that he supports but Sadr for example would not and I’m sure the time will come when we will have to deal with people like Sadr more firmly and eliminate the threat they pose to democracy, once and for all.

On the other side, the “Association of Muslim scholars” called all the Iraqis to boycott the elections and considered those who disobey this call as “sinners” . I belive that this opinion does not represents the majority of Sunni population but rather the “Salafis groups”. For example, the “Iraqi Islamic party” released an announcement that has a very different tone; this is according to this leaflet that was distributed this morning which says:

"To my Muslim brothers and sisters:
Beware not to ignore the elections; your participation is both a Sharia and a patriotic duty.
Do not miss your chance to choose your representatives...
And don’t give a chance to the opportunists, racists and those with sectarian agendas...
Let your slogan be “let my participation make Muslims more dominant”
Remember the saying of the prophet (pbuh) “you all have responsibilities and you all shall be questioned for these responsibilities”
Don’t forget to pray for us,
your brothers in the “Islamic Party

From this we can conclude that the majority of political and religious trends in Iraq share the conviction that elections are a must and this is good sign for the future of this country and will erase many of the doubts about the prospects of the elections.
We can’t let a small group that’s still living the illusions of the past influence our strategies; the terrorists and their allies thought that they can stop the wild tides of freedom but day by day they’re getting more isolated and I can feel that they are beginning to realize that their end is approaching.

They had missed the train and their call for negotiations strongly indicates that they’re feeling defeated because this is a characteristic feature of the Ba’athists; they never sit down for negotiations untill they know they're losing and until it's too late.

We will triumph and our patience and belief in our cause are our weapons and the support we get from freedom lovers from all over the world encourages us to move on and fight with more faith in victory.
The pessimism we’re being flooded by from the media began to lose its 'glitter' and a bunch of terrorists backed by a bunch of “abduction scholars” will not succeed to steal the dreams of a nation.

By Mohammed.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The American elections are no doubt the hottest current event and will remain to be so for the coming few weeks. so I thought you might be interested in taking a look on how people in Iraq and other Arab countries think of this grand event. My source this time-like in some previous occasions-was an Arabic forum from the BBC. The forum was discussing this question:
If John Kerry is going to win, will the American strategy in Iraq be changed?

The majority of the commentators seemed to agree that whoever going to be elected, he won’t change the strategy of the USA in Iraq and the region. Most of those were supporters of different conspiracy theories while some believed that democracy and the sharing of power and decision making in America was the reason. One of the most adopted conspiracy theories was the “Zionist lobby domination over the government of the USA”, some readers were even more ‘original’ in their beliefs!, and while the majority of Arab posters showed their distrust in the American system as a whole, a small portion favored John Kerry and a lesser portion favored George Bush.
Iraqis on the other hand were less bitter, although conspiracy theory can be seen in many comments. However, those who still fear the “Zionist lobby” seem to separate it from America’s plans in Iraq and have more hope in her. Few posters had a clear stand favoring one candidate. Most of those supporting Kerry were Arabs, while supporters for Bush where mainly Iraqis.

“Bush is a better choice than Kerry.
Regardless of the reasons behind the war in Iraq, I’m hearing news about Iraqis happy with the liberation and frankly speaking, some of the Arab media are very hypocritic when it comes to the situation in Iraq and they exaggerate things greatly.
We-the Arabs-are getting to understand many new subjects”
Mohammed Kerim Al Sabti - Oman.

“If John Kerry wins, I’m going to grieve to death because Iraqis want Bush to accomplish the mission.
As an Iraqi, I’m going to have a party when Bush gets reelected.
I know that time is needed for things to settle down in Iraq and what’s going on right now is a natural side effect for the fall of the past regime”

“Don’t you agree that our Arab brothers are not paying attention to what Iraqis themselves think about the war on Saddam?”

“From my point of view, I see that Bush lost the battle and now he’s trying to defend his policy but he will lose more. While if John Kerry behaved rationally and improved his position to prove that Bush was wrong, then he’ll be a better choice than Bush. While if he decided to follow Bush’s course then he will be his successor in failure.
Anyway, I believe that Kerry is going to change his country’s policy in Iraq because America is now sinking in a swarm and day by day it’s getting more difficult to get out of this swarm”

“I’m not going to judge John Kerry for his intentions but I believe that Bush’s brave decision to topple the dictator of Iraq had changed the direction of history in the ME not only Iraq.
I hope to see Bush win; he’s the man who liberated Iraq and he’s capable of building the dream example.
As for the WMD’s issue, we all know that Saddam used them and the massacre of Halabja in 1988 is only one example, not to mention that he had always threatened to use WMD’s”
Nawfal Al Jazaeri-Virginia/USA.

“The American policy is not going to change if the democratic candidate wins. It can only change if Britain wanted it to change because Britain plans and America only executes orders ”
Mohammed Jasim-Baghdad/Iraq.

“There won’t be a big difference; the American policy has constants and fixed principles and there are institutions that decide America’s interests not a group of people (administration) who do whatever they want. It’s the congress who plays the major role in the decision making process.
America is staying in Iraq whether it was a democratic or a republican man in the white house, besides, we all know that the law of the liberation of Iraq was released in Clinton’s days back in 1998. The American interests in Iraq and in the region demand a permanent existence for American forces to protect these interests and also to help and support the Iraqi government which is still weak and depends much on the American forces in managing the security situation in Iraq.
We may see only a reduction in the number of troops and this depends on how the security is going to improve in Iraq and on the Iraqi government gaining more control over the country and only then, the troops may be reduced but a total withdrawal is impossible.
The American vision about Iraq is that Iraq is the no.1 ally and the most important country for American interests in the region and consequently the American presence will remain strong and active”
Mohammed Al Khafaji-Babylon/Iraq.

“Yes, as Mr. Bush said; the world has become a better place without Saddam. For me, it became a happier place, only our happiness is not a complete one yet because of the foreign terrorists who entered our country”.

“No, because it’s the Zionist lobby that steers the wheel of the American policy regardless of who the president was, Kerry or Tom and Jerry.
I, like all other honest Iraqis wish for Bush to win so that he can keep the course of sterilizing the world from the germs that use Islam as a cover”
Ahmed Al Shammari-Baghdad.

“John Kerry cannot change the policies of the US in Iraq because the American policy (unlike the countries of the ME) is not monopolized by individuals. And no matter how high the price America is going to pay in Iraq, it will be for the best of the American people.
I think that Bush is America’s best choice”
Khalid Abdullah-Kuwait.

“What I’m going to say now is going to be what history will show: GWB and Tony Blair will have a great influence on opening the doors of the Arab countries for the coming democracy and they will help the people of those countries open their minds, because they’re the ones who took the decision alone and their people are the ones who sacrificed, and here goes Afghanistan marching on the way to democracy and after that Iraq and the rest will follow”
Fadi Fokee-Egypt.

“The story is clear; Bush and Kerry are two faces for one coin and their goal is to humiliate the Arab countries for Israel’s benefit so that the latter can impose her conditions on arab countries and enslave them. It’s time to wake up, as we know Americans don’t like us and there’s no hope that one day they would. They’re after their interests using different means including the stick, which they’re good at, and which we seem to love already"

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

I got a passport!

I should’ve written about this some days ago but I had to spend a week in Basra...Anyway, I feel it’s still worth writing about (at least from my point of view):
last week, I crossed the borders for the first time in my life; something may sound less than regular for most of you but for an Iraqi dentist or doctor it was a beautiful dream becoming a reality.
Countless numbers of Iraqi doctors, dentists, officers and professionals carrying Msc or Phd ended up in prison or even lost their lives for trying to get passports (faked ones of course and at a very high cost) to get out of Saddam’s hell.

This time, it wasn’t hard for me at all to get my passport (a real one) and it cost me practically nothing; just two personal photographs and after five days I had my passport in my hand. No Mukhabarat asking why, where to and for how long, no 400 000 Dinars exit tax, no bribes to border guards...etc

The best part of the story that makes me feel good about myself is that I made this trip to serve my country; Mohammed and I, together with some Iraqi journalists and media workers flied to Amman after receiving an invitation from “Spirit of America” to attend some meetings to discuss the possible ways in which we can improve, train and support the growing free media in Iraq as the free, unbiased media can play a key role in spreading the principles of democracy and freedom in a country that’s been ruled by a brutal dictatorship for decades.

We decided to book on the “Iraqi Airways”. You probably heard that it resumed its activities a short while ago so we thought it would be nice to be among the first ones to try its service.

The flight was nice and smooth except for the takeoff because as soon as the airplane left the ground it began to fly in a spiral path over the airport; one of the passengers explained to us that this is a usual procedure for all airplanes leaving this airport; they have to make several circles of small diameter in order to reach a high altitude to be out of the reach of any possible anti-aircraft fire and only then the airplane would take its usual flight path. So, to be honest with you, I got sick and I avoided throwing up with a miracle.

So, back to the main subject. We landed safely at Amman’s airport and we found our dear friend Kerry Dupont waiting for us in the hotel and the work started immediately after that.
The next day was full of meetings, discussions and interviews and we didn’t finish the work until 9 or 10 in the evening. We got really tired but we were pleased with the progress we made in such a short time.
Our meetings were very productive in my opinion and I was really impressed by the professionalism, dedication and good will of our friends from “Spirit of America”.

After two days of hard work, we decided to enjoy ourselves a little bit so we (Mohammed, Kerry and I and another Iraqi guy) went to the historical sites in “Petra”. I wasn’t interested in the beginning because as you know, Iraq is full of historical sites that represent different civilizations from different ages but when we got there I realized that each civilization has its own story and its own character.
The driver who took us to the site told us that we shall pay 1 JD for each Iraqi visitor and 11 JD for the American visitor as an entrance fee so our Iraqi friend was thinking of a nationality for Kerry close to Iraqi, “probably this will convince them to treat her like us” he said with a smile as we walked to the tickets booth and he told the guard “we’re three Iraqis and the lady here is Afghani” he was kidding of course but the guard stood astonished and confused and he didn’t get the joke until we all laughed. Anyway it was a long drive but the knowledge and the fun was worth the effort and we were all satisfied.

Despite the generous hospitality of our hosts and the friendly treatment of the Jordanians, I couldn’t cast away the feeling that I was in an Arab country, that although peaceful but still not a free and democratic country and it brought back some of the precautions and fears I had before the war, and I started watching my mouth and making sure of avoiding certain words and phrases that may not be acceptable. It’s hard to explain, but I felt I couldn’t condemn terrorism or criticize Arab governments or Jihadists and such stuff that are still more tolerated at least in the majority of Arab countries.

The next day we took the same plane and flew back to Baghdad and during the landing we went through the same procedures of the takeoff, in reverse of course so it was some what easier for me but I guess it demands extra skill from the pilot to manage such an extraordinary route of landing, and finally we were on the ground, safe and sound.

This may sound silly but It’s really something nice to be able to move freely, leave your country whenever you want and come back whenever you like and I can’t describe to you what I felt when I saw the word “EXIT” printed on one of the passport’s pages; I was sad for what we missed and at the same time optimistic and happy for what’s waiting for us in the future. Life seemed normal for me for the 1st time in my life. Soon after the war we could sense freedom immediately but this time we experienced it in a way that we haven’t before. It was an amazing feeling!
Despite all what’s Baghdad is going through, nothing can match the peace I felt when I walked down from the airplane in Baghdad's airport.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

This is what we need.

"I have been a sailor for 22 years, but no one ever bothered to teach me how to navigate properly or tie knots," said Haqi Ismail, 39, a toothless sailor, who described how in the former navy he had been sunk on three separate occasions.

This is why we keep saying that disbanding the former Iraqi forces was NOT a mistake, even if everyone else says the opposite. It was a corrupt opportunistic useless mass that would’ve costed huge money with virtually no benefit. Even in the new ING and IP you can find agents for the old regime and the terrorists and we often hear reports about arresting some of those here and there for spying.
Now the Iraqi navy among other parts of the Iraqi forces is getting the proper training. It’s still small and not really effective but it’s making the right start.
Read the rest of the story here.

The police was a different story, as even a corrupt policeman standing in the street is better than none and that’s why the old members of the police had to be brought back to service and that’s why corruption among ING is much less than that in the IP, although the latter is by no comparison better than what it used to be before the war.

As an example for this is this story from Sabah newspaper that was on most of the Iraqi newspapers yesterday :
An Iraqi police unit in Kerbela'a refuses a bribe of 100 thousand Dollars in exchange for releasing a gang involved in robbing 360 thousand Dollars from one of the official banks.

Colonel Kareem Hachim Sultan the chief of Kerbela’a IP stated that his police department had gathered information about this gang after the robbery and managed to arrest them, and that they confessed of robbing the bank. The police chief continued saying that more than 1 billion Iraq Dinar stolen from the treasury has been returned by the efforts of the IP in addition to large sums in foreign currency and dozens of stolen cars.

On another development, and from Sabah newspaper too:
IP patrols arrested a man involved in terrorist activities in Al Nahdha garage after some police members had suspicions about the guy who was carrying two bags that seemed heavy. The IP member asked him to stop for inspection but the man ran way and tried to hide in a neighboring school but the IP patrol followed him and managed to arrest him. After arresting him, the man confessed that he was planning to plant side road bombs.

While in Al Masbah district the IP arrested a gang that was involved in kidnaping and freed a child who the gang has kidnaped, apparently demanding a ransom from his parents. The child was returned back to his parents safely.
In the road between Amara and Basra, the ING forces there disarmed 5 road side bombs that were put on the main road.
Story here. (Arabic)

While doing this great service, the ING, IP and all other civil defense forces are taking heavily casualties everyday, as today an IP officer was killed in Hindyea and several members were injured in an ambush in Hindyea while 3 IP members were killed together with 4 civilians when a car loaded with explosives targeted a convoy of police cars in Karrada.

Despite these great dangers, the ING and IP are still doing their job with great dedication, and what’s more impressive is their gentleness and politeness when dealing with people, as everyone I know have noticed and which was also shown on a report by AL Sharquia TV station were all the people interviewed in the streets expressed their gratitude and respect for the IP and showed optimism.
There are many stories like these everyday. This is what we need, not a group of corrupted Ba'athist senior officers and hundreds of thousands of starving illitrate soldiers.
These guys really deserve a memorial statue.

Monday, October 18, 2004

A legal question.

From New Sabah (Arabic):
New Sabah has learned from “special sources” in “Baladrouz” 45 Km. southeast Ba’aquba that one of the IP units managed to arrest a young man who is a member of a radical fundamentalist group who has taped, produced and distributed a documentary film that he named “ Baladrouz hell”. The film encourage violence, killing IP and ING members and glorify military actions performed by terrorist gangs in Ramadi, Fallujah and Ba’aquba.

Meanwhile the multinational forces in Baladrouz arrested last week Sheikh Younis the Imam of “Fajr Il Islam” mosque in Baladrouz with the charge of being involved in terrorist activities. In addition, the multinational forces arrested retired general “Sagban Turky” a commander of one of the divisions in the former army with the charges of providing shelter for the terrorist.

I didn’t know that “producing documentary films that encourage violence and glorify terrorism was a crime”! I mean Al Jazeerah do it all the time, most of the MSM do it all the time and no one seems to care about it! Instead you find Al Jazeerah accusing the interim Iraqi government of fighting freedom of speech, and the western media accusing the coalition governments of lying and launching an illegal war! Who’s seeing things backwards and who should consider contacting their lawyers?!

The people win!

Check out the 5th round up of good news from Afghanistan posted by Arthur Chrenkoff in his great blog. This time the news are not good, they are great! Of course we already know something about that at least but Arthur provide us with more as usual together with an interesting personal perspective.
(Also available at the “Opinion Journal” and “Winds of Change”)

Sunday, October 17, 2004

A declaration of war.

This morning my uncle who’s a highschool principal found a post signed by Al Tawheed Wal Jihad group on the door of his school. It seems that they are distributing a poster throughout Baghdad demanding all government employees to stop going to work, threatening to behead anyone who disobey! It reads:

In the name of God most merciful most gracious
A threat to all government institutes and all government employees. Why do you keep going to work and schools and keep silent about the occupation? We will behead anyone who commits to work in government institutes.
Allah Akbar Allah Akbar
wal yakhsa’a Il khasi’oon*
Al Tawheed Wal Jihad group.

(I don’t know how this phrase can be translated but it’s the one Saddam used to end his speeches with for the last few years before the war! A close translation might be, "Let the doomed ones be doomed"!!)

Here’s a picture I took for the poster. I apologize for the bad quality.

I must say that this was expected. These enemies of humanity see us as their true enemies. They were hoping in the beginning that we might resist the “occupation” but that didn’t happen. They were also considering the consequences of frankly declaring war against the Iraqi people, as this would make them loose a lot of ground and would not help the propaganda that tries to show them as freedom fighters. However, and as a result of the brave stand of the Iraqi people, these terrorists are seeing that it has got late and elections are about to take place with the majority of Iraqis obviously willing to participate. Killing IP, ING and American soldiers won’t do, attacking infra structure won’t stop the process. So what’s left to do?

It has become clear that we are their worst nightmare, that ‘their people’ might open their eyes and work for a better future, that we embrace freedom, peace and a better life instead of hatred and death. This would mean that they have lost the war against the world because they have no *people* to support them and believe in their sick dreams. Now they wish they can kill us all, but they can’t, so the best thing they can do is to terrorize us, kill some of us randomly hoping that this would scare us enough to stop doing what we are doing, to stop living and join their craziness. Will they succeed? The answer is so clear to me but I hope that our allies see what our enemies have seen.

Am I being too dramatic here? Ok, let’s get a bit more practical. The government with the help of America and the rest of the coalition is preparing for elections in a long plan to transfer Iraq into a democratic country. Iraqis are living and working to support their families and seem to approve of the democratic process. Some of them are actively helping while the majority only follow with approval. Isn’t that what we all want; People who reject dictatorship, work for a better future for themselves and their families and want to live peacefully with the others instead of loading themselves with explosives or carrying AK47 and murdering anyone who don’t follow their beliefs? This, in my mind, is what will make terror lose and freedom prevail in Iraq; our love for life, peace and freedom and our rejection for terrorism and dictatorship.

By Ali.

I received an interesting e-mail today. It may not look that strange to westerns but it is to us. The mail was from an Iraqi who owns a restaurant in Baghdad and who was advertising his restaurants to foreigners who work or intend to go to Baghdad. I don’t know why we received this one , maybe he was doing some search on the internet about firms or organizations working in Iraq and our site just came through somehow.

The mail was boring, like all other advertisement you get in mail, and it was full of spelling and grammar mistakes but the whole idea was very interesting to me. This was the 1st advertizing mail I get from an Iraqi living in Iraq, and I suppose it’s at least one of the 1st advertising mails sent by an Iraqi living in Iraq in English to anyone. I don’t know, it may sound ridiculous to some that I give such importance to a stupid advertising mail, but you have to be an Iraqi to understand why I was thrilled about it. It gave me hope because more Iraqis are planning for the future, making use of the Internet and information technology and seem to be optimistic and welcoming foreigners. It’s all about money of course but it’s still an encouraging sign and I guess that’s mainly what it is all about; peace and free economy.

Here’s the mail if you feel like reading it and I don’t think the guy will mind us doing this, as we are giving him a free advertizing.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Iraqis want elections without delay.

In a recent poll 80.5% of Iraqis showed that they want elections to be held at time without any delay. The poll that was conducted by Al Sabah center for public opinion studies showed also that 15% were with delaying the elections while 4% did not have any opinion.

The poll took the opinions of 850 citizens of Baghdad from different ethnic, social and religious groups who were selected according to the simple random sample method. 40% of those were women.
Among those who favored delaying the elections 3% wanted the elections to be delayed for 6 months, 8% demanded a postponement for 1 year or more while 4% didn’t specify a period.
From Al Sabah.

Insurance company back to work.

The “Iraqi Insurance State Company” (owned by the government) issued insurance documents for accidents, killing, terrorist attacks...etc
This is a very good step that has many good aspects, as the insurance for life has stopped to work for more than 10 years and so was insurance for robbery and this may give an idea about how secure and stable Iraq was before the war. For more than a decade before the war the government simply couldn’t afford to commit to such documents because of the wide spread of armed robbery and crime. They couldn't provide insurance for life, cars or houses or anything that matter. They were telling us frankly "we can't protect you and we won't make it easier for you".

The fact that despite all the violence that Iraq is witnessing the government is now willing to make such a risky commitment tells a lot. It shows that they are willing to perform their jobs despite the risks and costs and it shows a belief in that the security situation is going to improve in the near future or at least it’s not going to deteriorate. It shows a belief that the true chaotic state we lived in before the war and which is still affecting our lives considerably is not going to last.
Read more about it from Al Sabah.
The “Higher Commission for the Elections” issued a declaration that regulates its work and the responsibilities of its members together with a list of the requirements for any individual or group that wants to be registered as a political entity and to run for a seat in the National conference that is supposed to be elected next January. Here’s a translation of part of the document that was issued in Al Sabah newspaper:

The commission will decide the period during which the authorization and registration will take place and no applications will be accepted before or after that period.
To take part in the elections any group of people or an individual can make an application to the commission to be registered as a political entity, and with the application the individual who wants to be registered as a political entity should pay the sum of 2.5 million Iraqi Dinars while a group of individuals that want to be registered as a political entity should pay 7.5 million Iraqi Dinars. Any bills that result from violations made by the entity will be deducted from the sum. The money will be returned once the election ends if the political entity or a coalition of entities get 50% of the required votes to win a seat. If an entity fails to achieve that the sum will be taken to the treasury.

The requirements for candidates and registering political parties are:
1-A list of members qualified for voting that contains no less than 500 individual.
2-An internal regulations document that lists the rules that governs the party’s activities.
3-Should have no connection with a militia or an active armed group.
4-Should not receive funds from any militia or active armed group.
5-The political entity should not provoke, take part or encourage terrorist or any criminal activities and violence.
6-The name of the party should not incite hatred or violence and the logo of the party should not contain any religious or military symbols.

The list is long containing stuff like (requiring name, date of birth..etc) but I chose to translate the parts that were more important than the rest.
The whole list can be found here (link in Arabic).

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Iraqis on Strike!

Employees of “Iraquna” cellular phones company declared a strike in protest for the kidnaping of two of their colleague and they also stated that they want to know what the company is going to do for them (the kidnaped).
From Radio SAWA (Link in Arabic).

This strike surprised the company administration and 400 000 participant (I’m one of them). I had to be a true miser with the last card I had for two days, but thankfully the crises seems to be solved somehow as today I got another card and it seems that there’s no shortage whatever now as I knew from the store owner.

It’s true that the kidnaping were less before the war but I’m sure it’ll get better soon. The government need to be more tough on the criminals and the IP need more training and reform. The good news is that some of the Iraqi tribes have decided not to defend those who commit kidnaping, meaning that the tribes law will not apply to them and no one will be revenged for arresteing them which has been always a huge obstacle to justice in Iraq, and instead they would further charge them with high bills after the law deals with them as a punishment for disgracing the tribe's name. (Al-Sabah. Link in Arabic)

Despite the sad event on which the strike was based and despite that I got personally affected by it, I still feel it’s a good thing that hundreds of Iraqis performed an organized protest. Such things you could never hear or even dream about before the war.

Muqtada leader of the Assassins.

According to “The Washington Times”,coalition forces in Iraq seized what’s worth 30 million $ of heroin intended to be sold in Iraq by Sadr militia. It seems that he’s been getting it from Iran and using the money he gets from selling it to pay the salaries of his pious followers. Not only that but some of the fighters in his army were under the effect of heroin when they were fighting!

Hashish or drugs in general were used before by some religious groups to make their followers believe whatever they want them to, and it seems that the “Assassins” or “Al-Hashashin” were the 1st to use it. The story is that one of those 'religious' guys back near the end of the Abbasseen era who lived in northern Iran managed to create a legion of fanatic killers by using Hashish. His assistants used to give Hashish to one of those poor men he would chose, and they were mainly poor simple men, and then after they lose consciousness or detach from reality, his men would take the poor man to their master’s castle which was reported to be a very beautiful place built over an enchanting piece of nature and in which one could find some really beautiful women. So when the poor lad awaken he sees himself in this peace of heaven and would be told that he actually is in heaven for a short time and in order to stay there he has to go back to earth and kill someone, usually a political figure.

In this way the leader of the “Assassins” managed to acquire a great effect in the political field by threatining his rivals with death, relying on a group of fanatic ignorant drugged men, in most of Iran for nearly 200 years and it seems that history is repeating itself here. Many Iraqis were already aware of the fact that the “Mehdi Army” was using and trading with drugs but this should get more coverage so that more Iraqis as well as Arabs and people everywhere in the world get to know the reality of these thugs whom the major media still insist to call them “legitimate resistance”! Have some honesty, will you!

Read more about this here.

(Hat tip reader Steve from RI for the link).

Sunday, October 10, 2004

A major disapointment.

In what looks like a massive recession for Muqtada and his followers; “Mehdi Army” decided to give in all their medium and heavy weapons to end their violent activities and obey the laws as a first step enter the political and electoral process.

The “conditions” that were put by Muqtada in return are no more than an attempt to tell the public opinion that this is not a surrender, as the “condition” related to the release of the arrested members of “Mehdi Army” was followed by the statement “except those found guilty of crimes” and this is an important development and a clear acceptance for the existing administration.. Another important development was that for the fist time Muqtada’s spokesman referred to the coalition forces as the multinational forces, not the occupation forces or aggressors and the usual crap.

It’s not very clear why Sadr decided this now but I guess it was the result of many factors, the most important of which is-in my opinion-Muqtada’s failure to get enough support from the Iraqi people as he was seeking and this was because of the false picture and exaggerated figures that reached Muqtada through his aides and the media, while the truth was that his doings were met by strong rejection from almost all Iraqis. Another factor might be the fact that the Iraqi government started to fiercely chase Sadr assistants and arrested some of them and I believe that some of his assistants were the ones who were really behind most of his decision and that he was just a front all the time.

It’s believed that Muqtada is restricted to a great extent by his aides and the orders and instructions that come from across the borders and in many instances he wasn’t able to disagree with any of those parties and we heard once that his aides threatened to kill him if he ordered his followers to cease their fire during the last crisis in Najaf city but even those aides found themselves alone with no one to back them up under heavy military and political pressures as the government showed remarkable determination to put an end to the destructive effect of militias. This decision from the government was backed by the people and this was clearly seen when the people talked to the government and asked for its intervention to rid their cities of the militants.

What happened is a triumph for the powers that are willing to build a free and democratic Iraq and it’s a defeat for those who bet on the failure of the democratic project in Iraq and it’s even a defeat for Sadr too although it’s the best move he could make, as I don’t believe that after what he did he has any chance of achieving anything worthy in elections and if he wouldn’t accept his loss and revolt again it will be a frank revolt against the people not the state.

The media (especially the Arab media) chanted for Muqtada and his followers and started to give their judgements about the outcome of the battle and some went as far as saying that OIF was a big mistake and the less pessimists saw that this was going to be a longstanding massive revolt while some went as far as anticipating a “revolution” and I guess they must be very disapointed now. They said that Muqtada has millions of supporters and that he represents real oppressed Iraqis, while we, Iraqis, we were able to see the light at the end of the tunnel and we could see freedom and peace win and we were not affected by those who called us dreamers and that’s mainly because we are the ones whom Muqtada and other portions of the resistance were speaking on our behalf and we knew at least that they don’t represent us.

We aspire our optimism from our belief in the just cause we’re fighting for and our enemies may look strong and scary but it needs only a small push to make their whole existence collapse just like Saddam’s regime collapsed because it was based on oppression, deception and illusions that can’t live long, and as much as I wanted to see Sadr and his thugs in handcuffs, it has become rather late for this and it’s better now to have this peace that’s far from convincing to me but that will at least make elections much more feasible and will allow time to resume the very needed reconstruction programs in the most poor areas of Iraq.

The last development will have a significant impact over the remaining tension spots, especially Fallujah where the terrorists lost one of their allies who helped them convince some observers that the “resistance” is not confined to a particular sect or city but a generalized rejection to the current administration in Iraq. Besides, there are at least huge doubts that surround this part of the resistance as it’s obvious that former Ba’athists are at least part of it, and there’s also the brutality it showed and its clear relations to Arabs and foreigners who also form a considerable part of it. The Iraqi “resistance” has lost its Iraqi face.

Those remaining hot spots are getting more isolated day by day and losing the excuses to continue their activities and their surrender would be a rational choice unless they prefer suicide, or maybe they will try to play some games to win time but now we have the will and the capability to stop their plans and pave the way for the coming elections.

I don’t think we’ll soon get rid of car bombs and suicide attacks because suicide is the only strategy for an important part of the remaining thugs and they will no doubt increase their activity as the elections approach but I have great belief that this won’t prevent the majority of Iraqis from voting.
Just as Sadr lost the rest of them will lose as they have already lost the people and they stand alone and they will fall alone.

-By Mohammed.


Saturday, October 09, 2004

An anonymous tape.

Last Monday, while I was in Basra watching TV in the afternoon, Al-Fayhaa channel broadcasted a film they said it was sent to the station via e-mail. I have to say that the credibility of the film is questionable but since I found that no one in the media, whether inside or outside Iraq commented on it, I decided to tell you about it and perhaps we could together find some answers.

The film was taped on July 11 this year as written on the screen and it showed six young men, all Iraqi as there looks and accent showed, and they were reading written confessions about attacks they launched against Iraqis and coalition troops.
All those six men (the youngest is 21 years old) mentioned that they were given orders from the “Association of Muslim Scholars” to perform certain operations against “Iraqi collaborators”, multinational troops and some moderate She’at clerics. One of the men said that he received (350 000 ID) from a member of the association to assassinate a She’at cleric and when the first attempt failed, he was ordered to try again as he stated.

One of those men claimed that their operations were planned in coordination with other groups of militants, namely “Khalid’s legion” and “ Ansar Al-Sunna Army” and then he started to list the operations they were involved in and I could count about 15 or so different operations among which there was the murder of the American contractors and mutilating their bodies in Fallujah months ago.
Al-Fayhaa stressed that the film was sent anonymously, and there was no way to identify the authority that captured those men and made them read those confessions and there’s also no explanation why this record was kept hidden for about 3 months before it reached the media.

It was obvious that the (frame) of the confessions was prepared by the capturing authority because the structure was the same in all six confessions which all ended with a plea for forgiveness from the law.
The whole story could be made up to provoke a sectarian conflict among Iraqis but there’s a weak possibility for this tape to be faked because the six men started their confessions by telling their full names and full addresses (they were all from Baghdad and from the neighborhoods around Haifa street) so I think it would be easy to verify these information.

Could it be that those men were captured by the Iraqi security forces and someone somehow managed to steal a copy? But why don’t we see anything done about it till now? Why the government kept it hidden all this time?
The most acceptable theory is that it was sent from a non-governmental authority, like one of the major parties for example, which have militias and are probably able to identify and capture gangs.

Anyway, such parties are part of the interim government and there should be some kind of coordination between the parties and the government’s systems but till now, nothing indicates that the government is aware of this issue. Maybe the government is waiting for the right time to take action or trying to gather more evidence and verify the information in the tape.

Most Iraqis and I’m one of them do not need more evidence to believe that this organization is a part of the terror network in Iraq, as they have been very generous in providing us with one proof after the other of their willingness to destroy Iraq and their longing for Saddam’s days and their rejection and fear from the ongoing democratic process in Iraq. However and even if the tape was a false one, I think it’s past due for a serious and thorough investigation to be carried out.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Last call.

In his latest statement (registration required), Sistani demanded that elections should be held at the decided time without delay. He made it clear that he won’t support and would stand against any delay in elections. He also showed his willingness that She’at should stick together in the upcoming elections so that they would ensure they are represented in the way they deserve. He also wants Muqtatda to join and the stupid a** hole who still doesn’t know his feet from his head hasn’t decided yet or let’s say they didn’t decide for him yet.

What do all this mean and is it good or bad? Why would Sistani try to influence the elections when he had said previously that the Marjie’a won’t support any candidate? Sistani rarely interfered in such manner before and only acted rather late and when it was very necessary, so why the rush now months before the elections. Is he a fanatic that wants the She’at to rule Iraq? Some would say yes, but I don’t think so. Then how can one explain his attitude.

It’s not that easy to answer these questions, although the statement sounds bad and kind of fanatic, but generally I think it has some good aspects with some bad ones. First of all we should never underestimate how much the major She’at powers were longing for the day when they can seize the power from the minority that controlled Iraq for centuries; Arab Sunnis. She’at are still not that sure that they’re actually will be allowed to be the majority in any new government. It’s just too good to be true and it’s not impossible to understand their worries.

Let’s try 1st to look into the good part of Sistani’s statement. He urges Iraqis and mainly She’at to participate in the elections considering it a very important duty that no one should leave. This is a very good statement that will definitely increase the percentage of Iraqis voting in January which is an important factor to make it work. Regardless of whom Iraqis will vote for, any vote is truly important and will show Iraqis will to go through this hard route to future safety and progress. It doesn’t matter that much that some will vote just because Sistani ordered them and not because they believe in democracy, since as soon as democracy starts working there will be no need for such interference in the future and probably these votes won’t be even needed, as it’s not a failure to democracy in America if only 40% took part in an election but it is a failure for Iraq if less than say 50% voted. And while the recent polls still show that the majority of Iraqis will most likely vote but the percentage is lower than what it was in previous polls and thus statements like Sistani’s are of great importance in making more Iraqis aware of how important their votes are. A wider participation is essential in the first elections and will send a message to friends and enemies about how willing Iraqis are to make the change and how rewarding helping or opposing them will be.

Sistani’s message will have a big effect on not only She’at but also and most importantly it will have a great effect on the rebelling Sunni parties such as the Association of Muslim scholars and some groups of tribal men. The government has tried the carrot policy for a long time and it seems it’s now time for the stick. If these Sunni parties and tribal men want it this way then they should forget about any real share in Iraq’s future. This is mainly directed to some Sunni tribal men in the west and north west and to some organizations that support terrorists like the association of Muslim scholars. These parties will sense the fear that Iraq is going on its new road and they will be left back fighting a lost war against a very strong enemy losing allies day by day, and after elections are held and after forming a legitimate elected government, they will find themselves alone and deserted. Even their arab and Muslim brothers will find it very difficult to take their side against an elected government, at least not in public. They will turn from being the ‘legitimate resistance’ that everyone wants to finance and support to outlaws that everyone want to clean his history from anything connected to them.

It seems that Sistani’s last statement, together with the previous statements from the Iraqi government and the American administration that call for nation wide elections that might exclude only few unstable areas, these statements push towards convincing some reluctant Sunni groups and some radical Sunni clerics to reconsider their attitudes and probably join the elections.

Allawi seems fine with this ‘plan’ but it looks like Al Yawir is not very sure. There are rumors that powers and organizations like the ones mentioned above have approached Al Yawir, warned him against the growing influence of the She’at and the deteriorating position of the Sunni and promised him support in any future elections for the president of Iraq if he cooperates with them. Basically they want Yawir to take the responsibility of freeing some of the western hostages particularly the French in return for relieving the pressure on Sunni areas like Fallujah. This would show Yawir as a good politician with influence, will save the terrorists who are feeling the enormous pressure and would benefit from a truce, strengthen the position of the Sunni clerics who would lead the negotiations and would even benefit France and other anti-war countries showing that their peaceful policies do work. Al Yawir, although hasn’t cooperate fully yet, has showed recently that he may have fallen to this plan seeing that he needs to make a move to make his presence felt. Unfortunately he’s making the wrong kind of moves that I doubt will give him any advantage that may help his political carrier.

Hopefully the political and military pressure will convince most of these Sunni parties in joining the elections and stop all their destructive attitude. Could statements like this be a sign that some of them are actually listening? I’m still very skeptical but I hope I’m wrong.

The bad points are that a cleric, no matter who, can still affect the course of Iraq which shows that Iraq is still far from being a true democracy, but aren’t all first steps clumsy and far from being ideal? Yes, Iraq is very far from being a liberal democracy and that’s a reason to work harder on that, as Iraq still is the best candidate for social, educational and religious reforms in the ME with no dictatorship there to hinder it.

The other possible bad point is that Sistani may carry the threat and withdraw his support for the interim government and probably issues a fatwa against it. In my opinion this is a very remote possibility if it’s ever a possibility, as Sistani, has always stood by the interim government and by the multinational forces and with establishing democracy in Iraq. He, unlike Sadr and the “Association of Muslim scholars” is a reasonable and wise man who know the limits of his power and who cares for his people and would never even get near to issuing such disastrous fatwas. Besides he knows that the vast majority won’t follow him if he throws himself to the flame.

We should never under or over estimate the power of clerics in Iraq. They still have a considerable power but it’s a limited one and it’s getting less and less everyday. Take for example the government response to Sistani’s attempts to save Sadr, as although it led to some good results, I still think that we lost a golden opportunity to get rid of Sadr and his assistants and minimize the effect of all clerics in the way, and Sistani would’ve protested but he wouldn’t have gone farther than that.

By Ali.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Iraqis in Al Amil district where the massacre against Iraqi children took place light candles for the 2nd day after the sun set prayers in a silent protest against terrorism in Iraq. This was a spontaneous move that was not organized by any party in which Iraqis mourned their children and showed there rejection for terrorism and violence following the worst crime in Iraq since the end of the war; the suicide attack that killed dozens of children civilians and American soldiers. Tens of candles were lit in the streets and near the walls of the water treatment plant which the people were celebrating it's opening when the crime happened.
From New Sabah.
Arthur Chrenkoff has a new and interesting post in which he lists some of the good news from the Islamic world. Check it out.

Friday, October 01, 2004

From Al Sabah:
Four tribes’ chiefs promised to declare a threat to the militants in Fallujah that they should turn themselves to the authorities peacefully or the tribes will fight them. At the same time many citizens in Fallujah stated that they are willing to participate in the upcoming elections. Meanwhile Ayad Allawi gave a statement about a military action in Fallujah to be taken soon.

Rafidain net reported governmental sources saying that four tribes in Baghdad, Ramadi, Tikrit have promised to destroy the terrorism foci in the city of Fallujah after knowing that the American troops are preparing a major assault in the next couple of weeks.

Same sources confirmed that a meeting was held between the chiefs of Al Hamamda tribe in Ramadi, Al Juboor in Tikrit, Al Gareer in Yousufyia and a branch from Al Janabyeen in Latifyiah to discuss situations in Fallujah, the flow of terrorists from outside Iraq into the city and the role of clerics in provoking violence and justifying murder and kidnap in the name of Islam. The chiefs showed determination to end this situation either peacfuly or by force.

Same sources pointed out that thousands of armed men from these tribes are ready to sweep the city of Fallujah, and that they have received letters from many respectable figures in Fallujah including some clerics that plead to the Iraqi tribes to save the citizens of Fallujah from the deteriorating condition under the rule of armed gangs and terrorists.

On the other hand a declaration signed by major political parties and social groups in Fallujah was distributed in the city confirming that the people of Fallujah support strongly holding the elections at the decided time on the condition that it should be honest. The declaration affirmed their support to the IP and ING in their attempts to restore order to the city, yet they said that they will stand against any American attack on their city.

p.s. Sorry but all the links I found were in Arabic only.

Some notes on Iraqi elections.

In the midst of what looks like a very difficult situation, conflicting statements about the future of the Iraqi elections came out from here and there, and as the picture looks blurred until January 2005 comes, these statements took the shape of unverified hints that can change with the changing circumstances. Obviously, there’s a serious inclination from all parties to hold the elections on time and I believe that the few statements that were released about the possible inability to hold elections in some Iraqi cities are used to tell the foci of violence that the only loser will be the one who refuses to take part in the elections because he’ll waste any opportunity to say his word in the making of the constitution.

I don’t think the people who are causing problems in these violence foci are going to listen because basically they’re working to hinder any further step towards stability and here it seems that the military solution remains a possible option despite the short time left before the elections day.

We have a very difficult choice to make, between having the elections at time which will be a success but will result in a conference not that representative of the Iraqi people and would be a continuation of the present government and before it the GC, or we could delay it which would show the American administration and the Iraqi interim government as liars and would give the terrorists and the anti-democracy power a sense of victory and a morale booster.

The major factor that governs the success of the elections is guaranteeing wide participation for Iraqis in the elections. The difficult security situation will make many people hesitant about going to the voting centers which will no doubt be favorable targets for terror attacks and here the major parties will be more able to gather supporters and bring them to the voting centers than others and they will make benefit of this advantage to win the elections.

I’ve spoken to a lot of independent Iraqis who represent a majority and I asked them about their standards for the candidate they would prefer and my questions were:
1-Would you like the elections to be held on time? Most of the answers were “yes” except for few who weren’t sure of the benefit of elections but no one suggested postponing the elections.

2-Who’s the candidate you’re going to vote for? What are the standards? The answer was: an honest person with clean history regardless of his race or sect.
3-If two candidates were equal in points and one of them is a member of the SCIRI or Da’wa party and the other one is independent, whom would you chose?
The answer was: “the independent one” without any hesitation.

The word “independent” had a magical effect every time I asked someone as if it was the key for success and the truth is that some major parties began to realize this, and some clerics’ calls to accelerate the elections under any circumstances because they understood that point and they fear it. Time works for the smaller parties and the independent majority to organize themselves and when that happens, the major parties will lose their advantage because it’s almost a common knowledge that all of these parties get no more support currently than 15% and this was clear in many previous polls. Here we should note that the majority of Iraqis support the government but not the parties that form most of it which could be strange but it’s very true. Iraqis still hate the word “party” very much and it seems they still can’t separate it emotionally from the Ba’ath party as it was the only party we knew for decades.

There’s another misconception that the Sunni Iraqis are not going to participate in the elections and some people think that the “Association of Muslim Scholars” can release a “Fatwa” about this while the truth is that the Sunni never organized themselves under any Sunni frame, instead many of them worked in other frames that carry different characteristics and we still don’t see any Sunni party and here came the “Association of Muslim Scholars” to fill the vacancy as it wanted to play a role that is political more than religious but it failed to attract the Sunni attention to an organization similar to that of the SCIRI or Da’wa party, so the association went to the criminals to cover the failure and to have stronger influence in the streets and to fill a space that is much greater than its actual size. Moreover, it’s well known that the Sunni in Iraq don’t have a specific advisor and they were not used to taking orders from clerics regarding political issues and state condition unlike the case with She’at. The point is that the Sunnis will participate but if given more time they can organize themselves in moderate parties that are not sectarian which may attract some She’at, Kurd and Turkmen tribally based rather than religiously.

There’s an Iraqi proverb that goes like “The bad you know is better than the good you don’t know” and this works even in politics. If the elections were held without the needed elements prepared, that is security and wider participation from small secular non ethnic parties, the majority of Iraqis will vote for “the bad they know” choosing the lesser evil among the well-known candidates. It’s true that they want to vote for independent people but they need to know at least something about any independent candidate to vote for him/her, and when you have elections that are nation-wide and with little coverage from Iraqi media to the upcoming elections, it would be almost impossible to know anything about a candidate who lives in another governerate or even another neighborhood.

After the liberation I was totally against having earlier elections knowing how difficult and unproductive it would be, but as the American administration had made this promise and as the terrorists are fighting desperately to prevent it, I think that it won’t be very wise to delay the elections now. What should be done, in my opinion, is to clean all the hot areas from terrorists, Ba’athists and fanatics (which seems to be the plan) and to pressure the interim government to put more effort in informing the public about what’s going on and how elections are going to work. In addition, the government has managed to secure a wider representation for Baghdad and for the major parties in the future conference which they argue that it is needed to maintain an equilibrium among different ethnic and religious groups. This should not be an excuse to monopolize the political arena as well as the media, as Iraqi and Arab media covers naturally the activities of the government which allows its parties to get much more coverage than other parties which till now get almost no coverage at all.

We still support the interim government in it’s war against terrorists and fanatics but this war should never be an excuse to allow the government to have a firm grip on power and isolate itself from the people limiting their participation. Wars and difficult situations were always used in the Arab world to justify the continuos presence of certain powers in the government and that led in the end to dictatorships after struggles among the major powers. This is not likely to happen in Iraq now or in the future but it could end in a distorted form of democracy like the one in Lebanon, as who has control for a long time will have a strong effect on writing the constitution and setting a new educational system in Iraq, which together with the major media on their side and most of the IP and ING being members of the major parties will enable them to stay in power for an unlimited period of time, and that’s definitely not what we have in mind and not what would make Iraq a model for democracy in the ME.

-By Mohammed.