Tuesday, November 28, 2006

One meeting, two men, and too many expectations.

Eyes and ears are fixed on Amman waiting for the Maliki-Bush summit.
The meeting is no doubt an important one given the sort of issues that will be discussed over two days. Actually it will be the first real lengthy talks between the two men since the earlier two meetings were much shorter.

I've been listening to what ordinary Iraqis think of this and I've been following what politicians had to say on their end and from that I got the sense that most people here are at odds with politicians in the way they perceive the meeting, and that's for a very simple reason; Iraqis are desperate and they're frustrated by the failure of their government. So they are anxiously waiting for solutions and are hoping the two leaders agree on decisions that can improve the situation in Iraq.
On the other hand the politicians here, knowing how much of our troubles exist because of them, are afraid that decisions that might arise from the meeting will inevitably be not in the interest of the powerful political factions in Iraq.

Many of our politicians here, especially the Kurds, some Sunnis and those close to Sadr are against Maliki's trip or at least cynical about its consequences and that's because Maliki and Bush are the wet who don't fear the rain as we say here. They don't have much to lose now, both men are already receiving tons of criticism from their peoples for what's going on in Iraq, and when people are in such a situation they tend to be less shy about making daring decisions and that's exactly what Iraq's political factions that have bigger shares in the parliament and cabinet are afraid of.

Speculations about possible decisions also vary greatly, there are people who expect Bush to set an ultimatum for Maliki to control the violence but the theory ends here and there are only vague visions about what comes after such an ultimatum.
Others prefer to downplay the significance of the talks and suggest, or hope that it's bound to failure and explain that by the "fact" that neither leader has the capacity to alter the course of events in Iraq.
In contrast with that there are rumors-some can be called fantasies actually but that's not unexpected in a community that still believes in miracles- circulating in Baghdad that major changes in the government will take place immediately after Maliki returns from his trip and here there is a number of those theories:

-Replacing all the Sadr bloc ministers with new ones from other blocs combined with a crackdown on Sadr and Sunni politicians involved in the violence (this theory relies on the arrest warrant on Harith al-Dhari and the threat Sadr followers made to suspend their participation in the cabinet and parliament if Maliki ignored their calls and went to Amman)

-A vast change in the cabinet, replacing all current cabinet members with non-partisan technocrats.

-One other theory of wild imagination indeed predicts that Bush (with help from regional countries, namely Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia) have already set up a government-in-exile (With Iyad Allawi on top) to replace Maliki and his cabinet should the latter refuse, or fail to, comply with American demands in disbanding armed militias.

People who think the latter will be the case built their theory on the earlier statement of the Iraq Study Group from September when the group said Maliki had only three months left to do whatever he could to stem the violence.

Anyways, I do agree that the meeting will indeed see serious talks aiming at launching efforts to save Iraq from destruction and America from humiliation at a very critical point in history. The two men know the kind of decision they need to make but they will need all the courage they can find to do that.

Let's wait and see what happens, tomorrow is not that far….

Monday, November 27, 2006

Rough days...

The past four days during which we were under siege were long and rough for Baghdadis. Anxiety and fear haunted us at our homes and a flow of horrible news made the prison feel even tighter…it was a material and psychological siege that will not be easy to forget.

Thursday began differently for me, first thing in the morning I received very troubling news that one of our friends has been kidnapped. His shocked, terrified father came to us looking for any bit of information that might be possibly helpful in the search for his son who vanished a day before. We in turn became anxious because we too would be in danger if that friend fell in the hands of very bad guys.

We decided to go home earlier than usual that day and then we were met by the terrible news about the savage massacre in Baghdad that took away hundreds of innocent lives. I avoided looking at the news after I heard of the open-ended curfew and we had to get prepared for the worse.
Terrorists and militias started an open war; the battlefield is our city and the fuel is innocent civilians as always since those criminal groups find it easier to kill civilians than to confront each other (and rid us of their evil). The big problem is that the security forces are not strong enough to stop them, worse than that, some members of these forces let themselves become partners to the criminals.

We had no choice but to rely on ourselves to protect our homes and neighborhood insurgents and militias alike. In our mixed block the elders met to assign duties and make plans in case things go wrong. They decided that people should all exchange cell-phone numbers as the fastest means to communicate at times of action, it was also decided that if someone calls to report an attack on his home, everyone else must go up to the roof and start shooting at the direction of the assailants.
More roadblocks were erected and older ones strengthened—streets and alleys were blocked in any possible way to prevent any attack with vehicles.
They also agreed that no one moves on the streets after a certain hour at night and any moving person would be dealt with as a threat.

The situation was terrifying and the rattle of machineguns broke through the tense quiet of the night several times every night but perhaps the star of the latest show was the mortar—there has been a frenzy of mortar fire, gladly none struck our neighborhood but we could hear the stupid death packages pass by each other in the air across our neighborhood.
No major incidents happened near us except some shooting at a stranger vehicle which neighbors told me carried militants who were trying to launch mortar rounds from an abandoned space but were forced to run away by the shooting.

The other star of the crisis was rumors about ugly revenge attacks and I sometimes feel that those rumors are part of the terrorists and militias propaganda campaign.
Being unable to surf the web for news, TV and radio were the main sources for news and updates about what was going on in Baghdad's vast sides but I trusted the phone more; I was making frequent calls to friends and relatives to see how they were doing.
One of my aunts lives in Adhamiya, she told me they received heavy bombardment from mortars. Another friend from the same sector relayed some odd news to me "there's a war raging between the Islamists and the Baathists…the Islamists have near full control now"
The phone brings only bad news most of the time but it's still better that to remain worried and disconnected from the surroundings.

Some news were really bad though, my uncle called on Friday to tell me that he and his family of eight were being forced to leave their neighborhood.
My Sunni uncle, his Shia wife and their children were told to leave because the head of the household is Sunni. His voice was filled with pain as he talked to me, I asked him who made the threat and he said ten cars filled with armed men came to our street shooting their guns in the air and announcing through a loudspeaker that all Sunni people must leave within 24 hours, then they went to the mosque and murdered the preacher's son.
The locals didn't like this of course since it was the first time they witness this level of violence and tension according to my uncle. Later that day the Shia in my uncle's neighborhood sent a delegation to the local Sadr office demanding the displacement order be cancelled. The guy in the office turned them down telling them these were "orders from above…we will kick them out the same way they kick the Shia out in other areas. They shall remain refugees until Shia refugees return to their homes"

Ordinary people do not approve of such atrocities but they have no power over the murderers…my other aunt who lives in the same neighborhood of my uncle's was a bit luckier because she's married to a Shia so she volunteered to hold my uncle's furniture for him while his family sought refuge at several relatives' homes.
"I'm leaving Baghdad to another city, the situation has become unbearable here…"
My uncle's words were killing me…
He said the delegation was still trying to convince the Sayyid to reconsider this decision but he (my uncle) would not wait to hear back because his feelings were deeply wounded—a teacher who spent 30 years teaching the kids of the neighborhood without any discrimination and now a bunch of thugs made him a target for their campaign of blind revenge.

A new fuel shortage complicated the situation in Baghdad and its effects were soon visible. Local 'street generators' that provide electricity for homes were also badly affected since the curfew stopped diesel fuel from reaching the consumers.
Large, main marketplaces became unreachable and people became more dependent on the smaller local store owners whose business activity spiked for a few days, but those too were anxious watching their shelves going empty.
The good thing was that bakeries didn't stop making bread.

We were having our small chitchat meeting everyday, and sometimes twice a day; friends and neighbors who can't venture outside the block but find some comfort and fun in talking to other friends and neighbors over tea or drinks…better than staying alone at home after all!

Shia and Sunni we sit together wondering if there would be a day when we too fight each other. Of course not, some would rather run away and leave Iraq for a while many will try to continue their lives here accepting the risk and praying for things to calm down.
Not everyone can run away, most people are connected to work, kids, schools and homes; people are people everywhere, they all want to live a decent life and live it in a place they call home.

Criminals are always fewer than ordinary people but those criminals are willing and capable of doing harm and they would not hesitate to do anything to get what they want. In fact they did terrify us in the most vicious ways and this terror reached Sunni and Shia alike.
No one among this majority wants this madness to continue but how long can we take this, when will we feel safe? That's the question on everyone's mind.

As usual during times of crisis, people's morale takes a steep slide down and my friends who used to say they expected Iraq to stabilize within a maximum of 5 years are now talking about 10-15 years and some have reached total frustration and are comparing Iraq's future with Somalia's present.
Rough times blur the vision and disrupt reason, I understand that. When you hear stories about people burned alive or mass public executions it makes you imagine that the streets are full of monsters coming to predate everything and makes you shout calling for merciless punishment upon even those who are only suspects.

Being stuck at home for four days with all the violence going outside and the fear that it might reach you at home was a horrible experience. When the news came that the curfew was over and people began walking on the streets again there was a strange feeling that was particularly very strong this morning in Baghdad; despite all the rumors and fear from more wide-scale revenge attacks there was a feeling among the people that they must go out on the streets and live in all possible means.
The most beautiful scene was that of students going to their schools and colleges despite all what happened in the days before.

Not everyone will absorb the lesson but I'm sure that this last dose of terror has changed the feelings of so many people here, a change in favor of denouncing and rejecting violence, I hope.

We're back.

Hi everybody, and sorry for the long absence…
Many of you are probably aware of how things have been in Baghdad since last Thursday; the curfew and subsequent shortage of electricity and fuel seriously diminished our ability to reach the web. But, things are back to normal today.

First thing we'll do now is go answer as many of your emails as we can then we will resume blogging as usual.
Thanks for all of you who care and were worried about our safety.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Dialogue: Their way...

Lebanese industry minister Pierre Gemayel was assassinated a few hours ago this afternoon…
Prime ministers, MPs and journalists; all are targets for terrorist regimes if they dare show their opposition to Damascus or Tehran.
The message is clear and loud, I just wonder how many more messages do we need before the world realizes that these murderous regimes are not so much into dialogue?

I accuse Syria of being behind this crime. Syria thinks that just because they made a "friendly" gesture towards Iraq yesterday they would have the right to unleash their dogs in Lebanon today.
That's their definition for dialogue.

These regimes and their allied gangs will not stop their crimes; they will do anything they can to stop the movement of democratic changes and reform in the region and to keep their despotic, dark age regimes in power.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Find the right partner.

Where do Iraqis stand from all the debate about Iraq's future, and how do they look at the expectations and recommendations being made these days?
Iraqis are of course the most concerned and affected by the ongoing crisis but the continuous pressure and trauma made their vision so confused that they are drowned by the daily dangers and problems that compressed their dreams and thought and made seeing tomorrow's sunshine their top priority.

The government stinks—that’s the overwhelming impression that is undermining the public's support for the government and its institutions.
People are tired of criticizing and there's frustration about the government's ability to take serious measures to contain the conflict or improve performance.

Frankly speaking, the ordinary citizen lost faith in his government—worse than that would be the prospect of living with it for another four years and that sounds like a very bad idea if incompetence remains at the current level, or gets worse.

Each episode of escalation brings to the surface the argument that the government must resign or be made to resign but that is not an easy option because even if it was technically possible to force a resignation there would be no better choices ready at our disposal.
At the same time, dismissing the current legislature and calling for early elections would mean more chaos on the streets and more bitter exchange of violence among rival parties…and the ordinary people would be caught in the crossfire of this conflict.

The idea of a 'palace coup de tat' may look tempting and it's one of the popular ideas among many of the people these days as a cure for the deadly instability. But I'm not sure the advocates of this option realize the possible consequences lying beneath the sugarcoating but I understand their attitude because previous coups were mostly smooth and "stability" was regained in relatively no time.

But the case is different now, Iraq is no longer a centralized state and changing the head of the state from within-or from outside-won't be enough to make the entire country accept the change or pledge allegiance to the new administration.
Changing the head will not bring back the limbs together and it might give rise to even more complicated situations.

I agree that a coup would be welcomed by the large segments of people who are tired of the present situation but what about a few months or a year after that? What would be the reaction when months pass by and stability is not restored (and I doubt it can)?
I think the coup administration would then be put in a very similar position to this government's…embarrassed, incapable and losing public support.

Now, our real problem in Iraq is that we do not have leaderships with patriotic agendas and like we said many times in previous postings; these leaderships that work according to partisan and regional-foreign agendas are the main cause of trouble because they are in power and they would not easily abandon the agendas of their masters and regional supporters and they will remain an obstacle in the face of building the state.
The bitter fact is; it was us who brought them to power and gave them legitimacy through elections. But…regret is useless now.

I believe that America would like to see Iraq emerge as a model for the region and is working hard to find a way to solve the current crisis. But that cannot be done without having a cooperative Iraqi partner on the ground who shares similar views for Iraq and the middle east. And that's the point; that partner does not exist, at least not in the government.

And I don't think Iraq's neighbors would instruct their representatives (their servants in Iraq) to give America a hand, even though they pretend to be heading in that direction because their vision for Iraq and the region are fundamentally in conflict with that of America. They want to see America defeated in Iraq and that's of course at the expense of Iraq.

So, to start looking for solutions, America must first start looking for an Iraqi partner, a partner that is devoted to building a model state in Iraq and that favors building a strategic alliance with America instead of grave alliances with rogue regional powers that want to throw Iraq back to the ages of despotism or settle old accounts with America through a proxy war.

Perhaps figures like Allawi and his bloc stand as a good candidate for a partner but they're a candidate not big enough to form a "salvation front" and work with America and save Iraq.
There are other smaller liberal powers but these are shattered and confused and many of them chose to side with religious parties in order to have a chance to win a seat but I also think they might be willing to form new alliances under different frames, and here the Kurds arise as a potential valuable addition to the front—should they choose to stop looking at the situation from a narrow ethnic corner and realized the bigger image of the region.

Dismissing Maliki's government, whether under a constitutional cover or not, will not be a fruitful act unless before that a fresh patriotic front capable of filling the vacuum is established. This front has to be largely from within the parliament in addition to liberal powers that weren't lucky enough to reach the parliament.
This new political mass will be a very helpful asset to the patriotic Iraqi project and to America's interests, whether on the long term (the next elections) or on the short term in case Maliki's government resigned.

How can that front be assembled?
The only means is explicit, direct support from the United States to this future partner.
Everything is allowed in war and since Iran or other countries support this or that harmful party then America has the right, and the moral obligation, to support a party of its choice.
America is in Iraq now and in order to create a cover of legitimacy to any political or military solution, a strong Iraqi partner must first exist.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

This is even better than the Saddam verdict!

Hot and fresh from al-Iraqiya TV...

Finally! The interior minister Jawad al-Bolani just announced that an arrest warrant has just been issued against Harith al-Dhari, head of the association of Muslim scholars.

If you're not familiar with the name, al-Dhari and his organization are the only party that totally rejected the political process, never denounced Saddam's regime, explicitly praised al-Qaeda and is believed to be responsible for sponsoring a great deal of the activity of terror groups and insurgents loyal to the Ba'ath regime.

Al-Bolani said the decision was made according to the 'national safety law' and anti-terrorism legislations and described the arrest warrant as a message to all other warlords and men who incite sectarian violence.

Actually the minister's words were an indirect threat to Muqtada al-Sadr, or more like a direct one because he said, and I'm paraphrasing, "there are two neighboring countries that are causing trouble in Iraq and anyone who cooperates with these countries will not be safe from prosecution"

Al-Bolani acknowledged that al-Dhari is currently outside Iraq but reassured that the government has the tools to reach him and have him arrested.

Update: "Not an arrest warrant, but an interrogation warrant"

Says Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman of the government.

This means they are not ready yet to press charges against al-Dhari and at the moment all they can do through this type warrant is demand he appears before an 'investigation officer' to answer questions.
However, and as far as I know, the procedures here are that if the subject person refuses to show up after three notifications, an arrest warrant might be issued for him.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Iran flexes muscles in Baghdad.

The mass abduction that shocked Baghdad yesterday was intended to be a clear message from Tehran-through its surrogates in Baghdad-to anyone who thinks productive dialogue with the Islamic republic over Iraq and Middle East peace is a possible option.

The operation was a show of victory and it was so smooth and perfect that neither the MNF nor the Iraqi military could do a thing to stop it.
And today the show continues with the assassination of the colonel who's in charge of internal investigation in the department of national police, also known as the police commandos, one day after an investigation was ordered.

Perhaps choosing a ministry like the higher education (which belongs to the Sunni Accord Front) is also a warning message to Sunni politicians who are preparing to send a delegation to Washington especially that the Accord bloc announced recently that they were looking forward to "clear the misunderstanding and mistrust" between them and the US administration to search for solutions for the situation in Iraq.

Did Iran misunderstand the American democracy?
Absolutely yes and Tehran is planning and working according to this faulty impression.

Iran now considers itself the victor and it will not negotiate for peace but instead will try to impose conditions to accept America's surrender.

Monday, November 13, 2006

And the new peacemaker of the middle east is...Iran!

Well, well, well

It's seems our friend Blair is planning to seek help from Syria and Iran to stem the violence in Iraq…I'm truly shocked to see this unprecedented level of impotent thought coming out from London and from no less than Blair.

Take a look at this:

Blair will argue the need for a Middle East strategy that includes making clear to Damascus and Tehran how they can help in the region while warning them of the consequences of hindering peace, a spokeswoman said
Not only that, he's going to ask Washington to do that same and it seems the latter is considering it.
Am I missing something here or what?

Hello Blair! These are the very two countries where trouble is coming from and the two most hardcore anti-Israel regimes in the region.
Hell, Tehran wants to wipe Israel off the map and Blair thinks they can be persuaded to cooperate with America and the UK to build peace in the Middle East?!

Oh, I forgot, he's going to make clear there would be consequences if they refuse to cooperate, sure, why not.
Well consequences my ass, ok?
What kind of consequences are we supposed to expect here and why should we think Iran and Syria are going to listen this time when they've been getting tons of empty warnings with consequences for years?
Maybe I'd have taken that seriously if it was said three years ago when the war was still young and when the Mullahs were shitting their pants watching the Talibans and Saddam fall…but not now.

Iran is bragging about going on with their nuclear program defying the UNSC and the will of the world and the security council can't even reach consensus on imposing economic penalties, so there's no reason whatsoever to think that "consequences' in this case would be any tougher from those already in place.
Sorry, I forgot…Iran so far faced no consequences for what it's been doing whether in Iraq or in their nuclear basements.

Mr. Blair, what you're suggesting is replacing conventional war with a nuclear one through trying to reason with people who are ready and willing to destroy themselves and others without any hesitation or remorse once they have the power they need.
Iran is not china or the soviets who understood the deterrence balance, and instead of 120 killed in three years you will never have an accurate body count when the next war starts.

Unless by "consequences" you mean the use of power-which is the only concept Tehran and Damascus understand-then only lousy economic penalties come to mind and I have to remind you that it was under these empty threats and economic penalties where NKorea built its bomb and Saddam built his palaces and butchered his people.

It doesn't work this way…sorry.


President Bush calls for global isolation of Iran:

WASHINGTON-President Bush, responding to concerns Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert brought to the White House, called on Monday for worldwide isolation of Iran until it "gives up its nuclear ambitions."

Again, and correct me if I'm wrong, global isolation did not stop North Korea from building nuclear weapons, did it?

And it just gets better!

"If they continue to move forward with the program, there has to be a consequence," Bush said. "And a good place to start is working together to isolate the country. And my hope is, is that there are rational people inside the government that recognize isolation is not in their country's interest."

Now give me a break, if finding "rational" people inside Tehran's government is what you're hoping for Mr. President then I assure you this, your disappointment will be huge, and this this disappointment will be costly, very costly.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The American elections from a middle eastern perspective...

The midterm American elections were followed with great interest by Arabs this time and the media here designated a great space to cover this event.

It is usual to see such interest at every presidential election but this time the circle of interest extended to involve midterm congressional elections and that is something interesting and indicates that what used to be considered "minor" changes in the political arena in America is now viewed to have major influence on the course of events in this part of the world.

I will try to talk about what happened before and after the elections and the way people here handled the news and their reactions to democratic win.
It was obvious that a majority here were in favor of a change, not because they think the democrats have a better agenda but because folks here wanted to see Bush and his party lose.

There had been attempts to give the public here the impression that the democratic party as a whole is opposed to the war as a whole and not only opposed to the way war was being managed so far. And the media here, pretty much like the media in the west, were focusing on the democrats' criticism of the Bush administration without saying anything about whether the democrats had alternative plans, together with an exaggeration of the idea that democrats are going to go ahead with an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

However, this tone changed a bit after the elections were over and now there's kind of a warning tone that suggests that "nothing has changed" and that US policy is one and no elections can change the large image. Media and politicians are back to reminding the public that democrats are even better friends of Israel than republicans are.

This, I think, is an attempt to put America as a whole back in its place as the enemy regardless of who's in charge in Capitol Hill, which means the regimes and their media here had to put the people back "on track" so they don't go far in their expectations or prepare to deal with anything American…what happened had to portrayed as a defeat for the American nation, not only for the republicans.

I would like to remind again that claiming that America's policies are the cause of anti-Americanism is crap, because the hatred is for the nature of the American democratic system which contrasts the nature of regimes here.
That explains why there's rarely an opposition to China or Russia in the middle east and that's because neither has a systems that threatens the totalitarian ideology of governance that prevail in the Arab world.

The rulers in the region consider the change in America a victory for them because time is precious right now and many here think the next two years will be stagnation phase rather than action phase for America…I personally doubt this but I can say Iran, Syria and some powers in Iraq think they just won the truce they need.

But is that really god for them? What if the calls for dialogue between them and America over Iraq materialize? And what will the requirements and implications be?

I think Syria and Iran will be in an embarrassing position…so far they were saying that America doesn't accept dialogue and the administration is one of war and only war but now things will change and we'll see faces in Washington that call for dialogue, so what will they do then.
I tend to think they will accept dialogue as a principal (or pretend to accept it at least) but on what basis?
Will it be like Saddam's dialogue with the UN, or a serious effort to solve a crisis?
Will the Iranians really consider dropping their nuclear program and move to build friendly relationships with America, the west, accept Israel's existence and stop messing with Iraq's affairs? And is Syria willing to consider changing its totalitarian repressive internal policy and stop the interference in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories?
What about some of the radical parties in Iraq, are they willing to replace violence with dialogue and accept the concept of sharing power?

I put more emphasis on the position of regional players rather than domestic political powers in Iraq because it's become clear that many of the latter do not follow a patriotic agenda and that the "engine" of chaos inside Iraq resides across the border.

The dialogue, if there's going to be any, shall tell although I had learned a lesson not to trust a dictator or a cleric; neither respect deals or promises. They don't respect their people and everyone opposed to their ways is an enemy in their eyes.

A fruitful dialogue can be held when the person on the other end believes in dialogue and that's what is missing in the middle east, again because neither dictators nor clerics accept dialogue. They preach or make speeches and people must listen. Sometimes people are allowed to ask questions but are never allowed to criticize or oppose the words of the divine ruler/cleric.
To them, dialogue is a one-way exchange and that's what we learned over centuries.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Egyptian Blogger Kareem Arrested...Again!

I had met him in Cairo and before that I met his thoughts through his blog.
Abdul Kareem is an "Azhari" who was dismissed and punished for his rejection of the old ways and for his work to free his mind and the minds of others from the prison of obsolete traditions and doctrines.

Abdul Kareem does not represent a majority in the lands of sands but he stands as a hope; a hope for Egypt and a hope for me here in Iraq and for you out there who support reform and open mindedness. People like him work to turn our societies into civilized societies that appreciate liberty and respect the right of the other to be different.

Abdul Kareem was arrested again by the repressive authorities in his country but you can help set him free by adding your voice and signing this petition.

Check out Sandmonkey for more about Kareem's case.

Tom Palmer also wrote about this and he provides the adrress and contact info of the Egyptian embassy in D.C, so you can go ahead and give them a call or write to them.

Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
3521 International Court, NW, Washington DC 20008
Telephone: (202) 895 5400
Fax: (202) 244-4319
E-mail: embassy@egyptembdc.org
URL: http://www.egyptembassy.us

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Interior ministry presses torture charges against senior officers.

From the Washington Post:

Iraq's Interior Ministry has charged 57 employees, including high-ranking officers, with human rights crimes for their roles in the torture of hundreds of detainees once jailed in a notorious eastern Baghdad prison known as Site 4, officials announced Monday.

The charges marked the first time the present Iraqi government has taken criminal action against members of its own security forces for operating torture chambers inside Interior Ministry prisons, said Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, a ministry spokesman.

Site 4 is the same secret detention facility that was discovered in Jadiriya; the same district of Baghdad that hosts the HQ of the SCIRI and its Badr militia, so there's every reason to believe that many, if not most, of the officers in charge of that facility were members or affiliates of the SCIRI.
Although this move came late and it addresses only one case of atrocity I must say that I'm impressed that the interior ministry, with all the influence SCIRI has on it, has made this action.

Building rule of law is much more of a difficult task than breaking the law is and the transformation from jungle law to civil law requires patience and determination.
What makes me feel good about this is that we're now moving to prosecute the criminals of the present just like we prosecuted the criminals of the past.

Gangs and militias are stronger today than they were three years ago and the same can be said about the legitimate foundations and institutions of the state, even more, the latter are growing stronger at a faster rate even though that might not be so visible.
Anyways, I think if law-enforcement apparatus, judicial and military alike, are allowed to retain the momentum, then maybe in a year we will be discussing al-Sadr and al-Dhari verdicts.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Day of Justice.

Now, Saddam is officially going down the toilet!

I wish I could have live-blogged the proceedings and the announcement of the verdict but I was facing some technical difficulties.

Anyways, you can go over to Pajamas Media where you can find a good roundup of related news and opinion including Mohammed's first reaction.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Counting hours...

Baghdad is living tense hours awaiting the announcement of a verdict by the special tribunal against Saddam.

First, the defense ministry announced canceling all leaves and vacations for all personnel then the government declared a curfew for tomorrow in Baghdad, Salah Addin, Diyala and Anbar.
Baghdad's international airport will also be closed from Sunday morning "until further notice" according to al-Iraqiya state TV.

Today, heavy presence of police forces is visible in Baghdad and a few districts like Adhamiya and Ghazaliya are, partially or completely, locked from the rest of the capital with roadblocks and checkpoint.
However, the situation is relatively calm in general but the public is expecting an escalation in attacks by insurgents tomorrow.
Households are preparing for the curfew and stashing extra amounts of fuel and food and there are particularly long lines of people at bakeries waiting for bread. This is all out of fear that the curfew would be extended for several days incase massive unrest break out.

I personally don't see this exaggerated anxiety necessary; of course an upsurge in violence is expected but that would be limited in duration and geographic distribution. Perhaps we will also see some armed demonstrations in certain places in Baghdad and Salah Addin where Saddam loyalists are abundant but this cannot lead to massive chaos because those Saddam loyalists are again limited in power and geographic distribution.

The overwhelming majority of Iraqis are looking forward to seeing justice be served tomorrow which will give the fascist dictator, who brutalized and abused millions of people and their homeland for decades, give him what he deserves.
We have been dreaming for such a day to come and it will be a true turning point, not only for Iraq but for the middle east, for it will be the first time a ruler gets paid back for what he'd done by a court of law.

Saddam's trial is a trial for all tyrants who oppressed their peoples and a tough warning to whose who think they have the right to control nations with fire and steel and get away with it. It is just a one trial in a series of trials yet to come; there are many more criminals in our land and they will eventually meet the same fate as Saddam's.

This is the beginning to build the foundations for the state of law and accountability we're fighting to establish, and the verdict we expect to come tomorrow will only shake the thrones of other middle east tyrants but will also send a strong message to some of the current mini-Saddam's of Iraq who will also have their own days someday.
I'm speaking about the leaders who try to hinder the process of building the nation of pluralism and rule of law; those are just as criminal as Saddam and even if we bore with them so far for one reason or another this patience will not last indefinitely.

We had waited for thirty years to see Saddam in the cage and we will wait again to see the rest of criminals meet the same just fate.

We had made the first step and we will go on….

Tonight is going to be a very, very long one for Saddam but that won't slow the ticking clock and tomorrow he will face the truth he's been avoiding.

Although I was long opposed to the death penalty but this time I must admit that can't wait to hear an execution statement.
Let's turn the darkest page of Iraqi's history forever and let's bury with it the sick dreams of the crazy Baathist minions who still think they can seize power again.

It's not only me despise this pathetic, irrational "solution" of Saddam's orphans but that's a common attitude among Iraqis, in spite of our difficult situation most of us would like to hear the words "The accused was found guilty and will get the death penalty….".


Add Mosul to the provinces that will be under curfew tomorrow. (story in Arabic)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Iraq's Army to receive additional 18,800 soldiers.

A plan to increase the numbers of Iraqi security forces was announced yesterday and the plan was immediately approved and endorsed by defense secretary Rumsfeld.

There was still some controversy and uncertainty about the number of troops that are intended to be added.

But according to this fresh press release from the Iraqi cabinet (from Voice of Iraq/Arabic) the planned increase will include adding 18800 soldiers to the units of the army overseen by the defense ministry. It remains unclear how many troops will be added to the police forces or border guards.

The press release mentioned that those 18800 troops will be distributed over several wide regions of the country including; Kirkuk, Anbar, Diyala, Salah Addin, Baghdad, Middle Euphrates and the Southern region.

The existing units that will benefit from this increase include:

3 Division headquarters
5 Brigade headquarters
20 Battalions
1 Special Forces Battalion