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Saturday, April 30, 2005
-Can anyone explain why the WAPO put the number "113" in the title instead of "1500"?

-AYS is back to blogging again after a very long hiatus, only this time he's showing more pessimism in his words.

-And if you are going to be in or around DC by May 14, consider reading this.

Friday, April 29, 2005
This is the face of the resistance that many people are praising and cheering for and this is the resistance that many people like to describe as pure Iraqi and patriotic.
This is the resistance that some journalists and bloggers proudly celebrate its victims' count on their papers and websites.
I can't find any reason for supporting such crimes but a mere anti-freedom sick ideology.

Let the world understand that the change that happened in Iraq was necessary and it is what the people here wanted and expressed their support for enthusiastically in more than one occasion; we saw that clear when the people left the tyrant alone to face his fate, we saw it when the people refused to fight for that tyrant and instead chose to slap his statues with their shoes and used their bare hands to tear off his portraits and smash the idols.

And we saw it in its most clear image when the people challenged terrorism and pessimism and raised a purple finger to show what they really want for their future.
Freedom and democracy, yes, this is what Iraqis want, and this is what they say over and over again when they join the army and police and stand in lines to replace the lines being assassinated.
How "brave" this resistance was when murdered thousands of innocent people and what a "unique courage" it shows when choosing assassination instead of face to face confrontation.

The resistance is even weaker than to confront a new born army just starting to stand on its feet.
They made every Iraqi citizen their target.
How bad and evil are those who support this resistance and cheerfully parrot its victories over the Iraqi police, children and women.
Do they realize how sick they make me feel? Do they realize that making the people an enemy is a losing strategy?
We are so angry and sad in a way no one can imagine and our response will be strong and sharp against all those who back terrorism and advocate it.

Do they really think they can destroy a dream built with blood, sweat, pain and suffering!?
You who are smiling at today's massacre, I tell you that these coward attacks will not stop the Iraqi tide.
What you wish is not going to happen and you will not get away with what you did and you will not escape the punishment.
Remember that freedom lovers will remember everything and they will not forget anyone who stood against them even with a word.
You may think that we're weak right now and unable to protect ourselves, we may seem stumbling but this new born country will become a powerful giant soon and will then seek justice for its people.

We are not going to be evil like you and we will not seek blind revenge but we will seek justice through our State of law and then you shall be judged as you deserve.

Nothing can stop us from finishing what we started and what happened today will not pass unpunished.


Thursday, April 28, 2005
Between two birthdays.
This morning, the National Assembly approved Jafaris cabinet in an exceptional session; at the beginning of the session, Hachim Al-Hasani the chairman of the assembly read Dr. Jafari's letter and enumerated the 36 names of the future ministers as well as those of the deputies of the prime minister.

The formation still has a few vacancies as 4 names have not been agreed on yet and the corresponding ministries will be temporarily handled by other members of the government; the most important of these ministries are the defense which is going to be lead by Jafari and oil which will be lead by Chalabi, both for a short period until new ministers are chosen and agreed on.
The ministry of interior which was about to create a conflict had been assigned to Bayan Jabor of the alliance block.

After the names were told, Dr. Hachim called the Assembly to vote on the cabinet but some members requested the cabinet formation to be discussed one last time before voting.
The majority refused this rejected but they also wanted Dr. Jafari to talk about how the final draft was reached.
Jafari spoke about the difficulties that accompanied his attempts to satisfy the different blocks and get their agreement and he said that "the colorful formation is a great victory for democracy" he also mentioned that negotiations lasted till the early hours of this morning and he assured the Assembly that the remaining vacancies will be filled within a few days no more.

He said that the relatively long time that was needed to form this cabinet wasn't a bad thing as long as the reason behind that was to "get real representation of the different segments".
Jafari stressed that efficiency was the main parameter in choosing the ministers as the greatest danger facing the government is corruption which we inherited from the past regime.
The international reputation and integrity of the chosen ministers was considered in the process as Jafari mentioned and he also said that he realizes that Sunni people didn't get their full chance in the election and attributed that to the terror threats in their regions and added that the Sunni should have a role in the government equivalent to their demographic position, not only to the results of the election as "they were victims of poor security conditions in their cities".
Jafari's speech was met with long applause.

The voting went on and 180 out of the attending 185 members approved the cabinet and it was clear that most of Allawi's block voted with the cabinet although this block refused taking part in the government.
Signs of relief were seen on the faces after the voting was successfully over.
Later, representatives of the parliamentary blocks were given the chance to give short speeches; the 1st one to speak was Abdul Aziz Al- Hakim who congratulated Jafari on this success and said:

"We, the members of the alliance block will practice our duty here in monitoring the performance of the government and we will be stricter in monitoring the alliance representatives in the government than on others"
This statement was also applauded by the audience.

He urged the government to take serious steps to confront terrorism which he considered the most dangerous threat facing Iraq in this phase.
Al-Hakim also stressed on the importance of identifying and eliminating the Saddamists who have infiltrated the government offices.
He called the government to accelerate the process of building reliable security forces to replace the multi national forces.

This was a clear signal that Iraq will need the multinational forces for the time being. Notice that he didn't call for a pull out and he used the term multinational instead of occupation.
Al-Hakim called for "respecting the Islamic identity of Iraq and respecting human rights" and asked the government to pay more attention to the areas that suffered more from neglect in the past.

He ended his speech by saying a few words of condolence for the family of the female MP who was assassinated a few days ago then he pointed out to the role of the clergy in supporting the political process in a few quick words.
After that Dr. Maasoum, the spokesman of the Kurdish block gave a short speech; he congratulated Jafari and said that the long time that was consumed in the process is a healthy indication which proves that there are no more solitary decisions in Iraq and that everything has to be done through conversation and discussion "today's Iraq discusses and addresses differences and the time taken in these processes is for the best of the public interest".

Hussain Al-Sadr, the representative of Allawi's block had also started his speech by congratulating Jafari but he said:
"Dr. Jafari mentioned that he had discussions with all the parties before announcing the cabinet but actually he didn't discuss the formation with our block as he promised to do; in spite of that we are going to back this government and as you all saw, we've voted for it and we will support any step that serves this country".
This statement also met by applause from the audience.

Then came Mrs. Jacqueline's turn who represents the Christian block in the Assembly and she blamed the government and Dr. Jafari for not giving the Christian Assyrian block its deserved role and she expressed her hope that Assyrians will get more fair representation in the future and in spite of that she confirmed that her colleagues will support the new government.

Later, the representatives of the communist party, the Turkmen and a few Sunni MPs had their time to speak too. Misha'an Al-Juboori was obviously critical of the cabinet and although his party got only one seat in the Assembly, Juboori was speaking in the name of all Sunni!
On the other hand, the representative of the national coalition (a Sunni group) was more realistic and showed support to the government and said "we couldn't actively participate in the elections because of terror threats; therefore we will be working hard to ensure broader participation in the next round of elections".
Here Dr. Hachim announced the end of the session and many MPs flocked to shake hands with Dr. Jafari and congratulate him.

Something I also wanted to mention which is not a surprise at all is that Al-Jazeera totally ignored today's session and while it allocated long hours talking about the delay in announcing the government in the past few weeks, the channel chose to ignore the important event and was in stead broadcasting a history report with the running news subtitle talking about violence and explosions!

For years before 2003, a day like this (the 28th of April) was one of the worst days of the year. We were forced to watch disgusting theatrical celebrations showing Iraqis happily and cheerfully celebrating Saddam's birthday. While today I was following Iraq's birth with true joy and hope and instead of trying to avoid facing the TV screen like I used to do in the past, today I was flipping channels like crazy trying to find more and more details about this great event.

May Iraqis enjoy their emerging democracy and may the world see the fruits of Iraqi freedom.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005
Let the work begin.
In a press conferefnce in Baghdad a few hours ago, Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jafgari announced that he handed the presidency council a draft that contains the names he included in his cabinet.
This resolution came after getting over the last bump that was delaying the process; the bump was actually created from within the Iraqi Alliance block itself. The story started after PM Jafari accused Al-Fadhilah Islamic Party of being too demanding by asking for the post of the oil ministry without having a qualified candidate while the spokesman of Al-Fadhilah put the blame on PM Jafari claiming that Jafari favored a candidate who lived abroad the post of oil ministry. The spokesman exact words were:

"It seems that Dr. Jafari thinks that the sons of Amara are not classy enough to get the post of the oil ministry".

After being approved by the presidency council, the list will be submitted to the National Assembly to gain trust in tomorrow's session which is not a regular session since the regulations of the Assembly state that sessions are to be held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of each week, so apparently the decision to hold an exceptional session tomorrow was made to relief the tension on the streets caused by the delayed announcement of the new government.

It's highly expected that the presidency council will approve the cabinet without objections and so will the National Assembly tomorrow as the names of the cabinet members were chosen after prolonged negotiations that finally led to an agreement among the major blocks of the Assembly (except for Allawi's block that chose not to take part in the cabinet) something we have expected some time ago.
So the majority of the Assembly members-or at least the key members-have already agreed on the nominations submitted by Dr. Jafari.

After the discussions on this subject have ended, there will be a more critical mission awaiting the National Assembly, which is the writing of the new constitution of Iraq and if the interim government is going to last for 6 months only, the constitution will last for the a much longer time.

Still, I expect drafting the constitution to be a relatively smoother process than anticipated because the politicians and the Assembly Members have gained some sort of experience from the negotiations in the last several weeks and the began to know how to deal with their differences. I see that they're learning what can be done and what cannot be, what can be tolerated and what cannot be, how to respect each other and above all; how to respect the people and their responsibilities toward to the people.

News link here and here in English and here in Arabic.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005
One of the brilliant Iraqi bloggers who had been using the Friends of Democracy Arabic blogging tool has started a blog in English.
Now you go and read his thoughts on Iraq and his city "Diwaniyah" in English here.

Monday, April 25, 2005
Same old argument, new inquisitors.
I have received these two pieces (registration required) in an e mail last night, I read them (well, most of them actually) got pissed of, then I thought "why should I bother? It's just another piece of nonsense" so I forgot about them for a while until I saw them this morning again during my morning tour on blogs and I read Ahmed's response to it and I thought I could say a few words.

I think one of the most telling signs of ignorance is when someone pretends to know everything about a subject he's relatively clueless about. I really don't know exactly how informed the authors of these two pieces are about the situation in Iraq before and after the 9th of April but I'm positive that any common Iraqi with ordinary intelligence is way more informed.

There are actually a million stories I can tell to make a comparison between pre and post-Saddam Iraq and to show how dramatically life has improved since April 2003 and the list doesn't necessarily start from the security which is much better off now than under Saddam who murdered 3 million Iraqis during his reign; a figure that dwarfs any post-liberation body count or my salary as a dentist which increased by a hundred folds and doesn't end by the huge change in the Iraqi army that changed from a tool of repression for both, the conscripted soldiers and the civilian population to a security preserving tool that young Iraqis volunteer to join.

Technology and communications had their share too; we moved from a country where your e mail needs two weeks to pass through the filters of the Mukhabarat to a country where people like me can publish their thought to the entire world by a click!
And as our author of honor here is British I'd like to add that before April 2003, being caught while listening to the anti-war BBC radio could throw the listener in jail for indefinite time.
Anyway, if I wanted to talk about every single positive change, I should probably write a book about it as a blog post can't hold all that information.

By European and American standards, Iraq could be considered hell on earth and I agree; life is difficult here, really difficult for many Iraqis and it would be almost impossible for a European or an American but the question here is this: is it more difficult now than under Saddam?
The answer is NO.

What really irritated me was calling the historic January election "fraudulent and meaningless"!
I ask here; what are the proofs for such an insulting statement?
Could it be true that all the 8+ million Iraqis who went to cast their ballots on that day were fools!? And could it be true that those people risked their lives just to please someone!?

I believe the author here used the wrong "weakness point" to attack the administrations/policies he doesn't agree with because he actually offended a whole nation; a nation of men and women who woke up in the morning of that day and each one of them was expecting death on the hands of the terrorists yet that didn't stop them from saying their word.

Saying that Iraq was better off under Saddam is in my opinion similar to saying that Germany was better off under Hitler or that Romania was better off under Ceausescu.
The other brilliant statement of our inspired author is really amazing; I don't know how he reached the conclusion that Iraqi is moving towards having a regime similar to that of Saddam's, which he at the same time portrayed as the worst possible scenario!!
I need you to help me figure this out; if the appearance of a regime similar to that of Saddam and the Ba'ath is the worst thing that can happen, then how could things be better when Saddam himself was in power!?

And what are the signs he saw that made him come up with this theory?
Okay, let me think…
Was it the 1st free election in Iraq in half a century?
Or maybe it was the two peaceful transfers of power within one year?
Or, was it pluralism and the parliament of 275 members who represent all the components of the Iraqi society?
Maybe it's the PM, Jafari who's busting his a** negotiating with the other parties to form a cabinet that ensures national unity?

Maybe I'm not seeing the truth and maybe I'm having confused daydreams after receiving heavy doses of the Bush-Blair propaganda, after all I'm just a simple Iraqi who lived 25 years in Iraq before and after Saddam.
I leave you to decide which perspective is more acceptable.

Iraq's political scene, today.
It's become almost certain that the Iraqi list led by Allawi is not going to take part in the formation of a national unity type of government. Allawi warned the upcoming government from adopting a sectarian mindset in dealing with the situation and he expressed his wishes that such thing won't happen but he stressed that he will keep supporting the government regardless of his lists role in it.
At the same time, the negotiations with Ghazi Al-Yawir regarding the role of the Arab Sunni in the government are about to reach an a positive end and thus announcing the new formations is expected to happen soon once approved by the presidency board.

Meanwhile, the tension brought by the Mada'en case has begun to fade and we are not hearing much about it in the news or on the streets anymore and it seems that this was associated with reaching an agreement about the post of the ministry of interior. We have pointed out the correlation between the two cases earlier and we said that the exaggeration is a result of a conflict over who should control the security file.

I have heard news saying that Hadi Al-Amiri (from Badr org. of the SCIRI) had pulled back his nomination for the post and that Bayan Jabur, the ex-minister of construction and the moderate Shea't had replaced Al-Amiri.
Al-Amiri said that there are some parties trying to create distrust between the SCIRI and the US administration and he confirmed that his party has no intentions in monopolizing the security file or eliminating certain elements related to the past regime.
He also stressed that "Badr had disarmed its men and that it's an entirely civic, political organization that has representatives in the Assembly and working with the rest of Iraqis to build a democratic country and wipe away the pains of the dark years".

In another development, the "association of Muslim scholars" condemned the latest attacks that targeted a number of She'at mosques and described the attacks as "terrorism and mere crimes".
It seems like that came the association is being subjected to intense pressures after the warnings from She'at parties calling the association to clarify its position from these operations and through this rejection, the association tries to break the isolation and remove the doubts about its involvement in terror attacks, plus they don't want the negotiations between the Sunni Arabs and the She'at coalition to fail as a failure would cost them their last chance to negotiate for a role in the new government.

However, I still see that this condemnation is not from the heart as they wouldn't have done that without pressures from other parties and without an internal conflict between the two wings of the association; one wants to take part in the political process while the other more radical one wants to keep on fighting; a method that have brought them nothing but the people's contempt.

The Sunni-in trouble-situation was visible in the negotiations with the She'at alliance as the Sunni couldn't till now agree among themselves on a common political leadership as they have too many differences among their different groups.
Anyway, the way negotiations are moving suggests that the Sunni are closer now to the political choice than they're to the armed choice and this calls for some optimism for the coming phase despite the escalated violence from the radical wing which refused to stop the violence in an attempt (I consider futile) obviously aiming at forcing the moderate Sunni to abandon the political process.
I think this attempt is futile as military ways have proven to be fruitless and many of those who supported it in the 1st place have begun to realize this fact.

While some observers see that there's deterioration in the security conditions and are using this to support their vision about failure of the change in Iraq I see this escalation of violence as a last wave that cannot stop the wheel from moving as this wheel is gaining more momentum from the people while the extremists are losing whatever little momentum they have.

The Iraqi people have agreed on a certain way to build their future and it’s definitely different from that of terror and I believe that no sane person can think that terror can defeat the whole people.
Yes. We're bleeding but they're bleeding too and considering the reserves of each camp; we're far more capable of winning this battle.
All the car bombs and the assassinations against the army and IP had led to nothing but an increase in the number of operating Iraqi security forces and murdering the recruits didn't lead to anything but more lines of recruits showing more determination and bravery.
The terrorists have lost the people and who loses the people's trust loses the war eventually.


Another big collection of good news from Iraq is presented to you by Chrenkoff. Check it out.

Sunday, April 24, 2005
The i.ct.f (the Iraq counter-terror force) is under formation now as part of the special operations brigade of the Iraqi army while Iraq will have the biggest anti-terror training field in the Middle East. Source: Al Sabah.

The commander of the brigade said that four consecutive courses are arranged in order to select the most eligible elements among the applicants for joining this highly specialized force.
From 809 applicants, only 350 have passed the primary tough tests which are called (the selection) and it's planned to select only 100 men after passing through another intensified course of training and this group will be sent outside the country to receive further training for two month by trainers from the MNF about handling terror threats and fighting terror cells.

The remaining 250 who will fail to pass the last course will be joined to the commandos forces of the army. (if the ones who fail are going to be commandos, then definitely no one would like to mess with the 100 guys who would pass the tests!)
The anti-terror training center will be the 1st of a kind in the Middle East as the source said where members of the i.ct.f will receive training about urban war tactics and the members of this unit will be equipped with highly advanced American weapons and equipments.
10 of the best qualified men from this unit are going to chosen to train other special forces units for the Iraqi army including commandos, paratroopers and quick response units.

Here's a short briefing on the operations of the Iraqi security forces in the last 24 hours:

A number of terror nests fell in the hands of the Iraqi security forces in the last 24 hours in different spots in Iraq. Link in Arabic:
The 204th battalion of the Iraqi army discovered a weapon cache in Al Khass suburb in Diyala province where 88 artillery shells (of calibers ranging between 82 and 120 mm) were found in addition to other materials used in manufacturing IEDs like wires, timers and other materials of military use.

In kahanaqeen, also in Diyala province the security forces located two other weapons caches; the 1st contained 15 pounds of TNT, 13 (82 mm) mortar rounds and a small number of 100 mm artillery shells, while in the 2nd location, 21 shells of 100 mm caliber were found and a large number of IEDs of different sizes. All the located materials were transferred and detonated under control in another place.

In Kirkuk, a police patrol disarmed an IED placed near a stadium used a camp for accommodating Kurdish refugees and In Hawijah (south of Kirkuk) 17 wanted terrorists were detained.

Meanwhile in Samawa, a terror cell that was carrying out operations in Baghdad was arrested.
The leader of this group Omar Attimimi was arrested in a previous operation.
The members of the group were arrested while they were trying to purchase weapons and ammunition from a specialized gang of smugglers that works in Samawa but they never reached their destination and were busted on their way to the meeting.


Saturday, April 23, 2005
This (if proves to be accurate) is good news indeed.
It also proves that even if there were no surveillance planes watching, there are good Iraqi guys with open eyes who reject terrorism and are willing to help justice rule.
This will not bring the poor victims back to live but it will certainly save other lives from being brutally ended.

Friday, April 22, 2005
An excellent post by Ali, actually it's one of his best posts ever and I strongly recommend that you read it.

Thursday, April 21, 2005
I found a couple of interesting cartoons on New Sabah; in the 1st one here, the Captain of the aircraft is giving this announcement "Ladies and gentlemen; the atmosphere is democratic but there are a few sectarian bumps ahead, thank you".
The use of a jet plane to symbolize the democratic process in Iraq was obviously to say that democracy is something new to Iraqis just like air transport which is new to most Iraqis who depended on ground transport for a very long time.
The passenger back there is saying "Nazil" which in Iraq slang is short for "stop the vehicle so that I can step down" and is commonly used when someone is traveling in a bus or a taxi.
The word was chosen here to say that there are people who are not used to the modern and civilized ways of life (of politics here). So the passenger got scared when he heard the word "bumps" and he seems reluctant to trust the new ways which although could be risky sometimes but they're safer and much faster most of the time.

The 2nd cartoon is dealing with the struggle for political reform in the region.
The man with the Arabic head-wear obviously refers to the Arab leaders while the bottle refers to political reforms.
The Arab guy is looking anxiously at the man holding the thick club (who represents America of course) and says helplessly "it's bitter.. but I'm going to drink it".

I personally doubt that many regimes will have that drink because unfortunately many of the Arab leaders are stupid enough to prefer the club over the "bitter medicine".

The role of Tehran in creating the sectarian conflict in Iraq has became more than obvious after the failure of all the attempts to provoke a conflict between the Sunni and the She'at.
The astounding successes of Iraq in democracy and writing the constitution and building a free community is causing a panic the neighborhood.
We mentioned earlier that the Mada'en crisis is a fake and we pointed out that intrinsic and extrinsic parties had taken a stance to invest this story.
These parties revealed their ugly face by directing a frank call for holding arms and raise an internal fight.
Ha'iri (the Ayatollah from Iran who had always been supportive of Sadr and trying to interfere in Iraq's internal situation) released a fatwa today that called the She'at to carry arms and fight the "Nasibah" in a signal to the Sunni population (link in Arabic).


Wednesday, April 20, 2005
Is there no source of pictures for our media other than our blog!!?
In the 1st time it was Al-Sabah, now Al-Mendhar joins the club. What's wrong with these people!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Renovating Syria; a must read of two parts by Amarji.

The reason why I'm so interested in following Syrian blogs right now is because these blogs complete the missing circle from the history of the (once/still) Ba'ath-ruled countries.
Blogging started in Iraq after the Ba'ath regime was toppled (I'm not forgetting Salam of course) and adding what we are reading now on blogs coming out of Syria can give a better insight on the pro-post Ba'ath life in two neighboring countries.

Ferid is photoblogging from the graduation party at the Baghdad's college of dentistry.
It's really heartening to see that students refuse to be intimidated and continue to practice their normal life after the sad incident that took place in Basra last month.
See the whole photo album here. Great photos!

A fake crisis... But why?
It's become clear now that there were no 60, 100 or 150 hostages taken in Mada'en and not even 10 despite the 1000 protestors who appeared in Firdaws square and despite all the statements, threats and condemnations coming from politicians.

I frankly doubted the accuracy of the news from the beginning although it was reported by major media.
I realize that there's a critical security situation in that small town and I can confirm that Mada'en is infected with a lot of gangs which should be dealt with strictly but I can't imagine how a hundred people could be kidnapped from the streets! This needs too many fighters and too many vehicles and a large place for hiding the hostages.

Some time ago, the TV showed the terrorists who blew up the police station of the town several months ago and after that the locals asked the government to rebuild the station and the ministry of interior promised to consider the request which indicates that a peace- loing society strongly exists in the town.

However, let's go back to the main point.
As some people started to talk more about the background of the problem, the new theory suggests that the crisis apparently originated from a tribal conflict about some government-owned lands; the tribes in question are the Jubour (mixed She'at and Sunni) and the Albu-Darraj (mainly She'at). However, the conflict never reached the degree where killings and kidnappings can happen as most tribal conflicts can be solved through negotiations.

The claim that the lands were given by the government to the Salafi groups is not true, the truth is that these lands were used by some of the locals to plant crops and build houses and they don't officially belong to any of the arguing parties.

The head of the "Sunni property department" expressed his readiness to send a delegate for investigating and solving the case in cooperation with a She'at delegate in order not to give the case a sectarian scope but in fact, this suggestion painted the case with a sectarian dye. It's common sense that the conflict has to be solved by the authorities not by clerics or, they can leave it to the tribes' Sheikhs if no governemnt interference was desired.
Then why did this happen? Let's go back a few days in time and try connecting the events.

The news suggested that the visit of senior American officials was aiming at participating in drawing the outlines of the face of the Iraqi security forces.
The American government denied the story but a She'at figure stressed that the American government is intervening to stop certain She'at parties from controlling the security systems for reasons he considered unconvincing.

That's why the crisis was fabricated in Mada'en and that's why it got mentioned by prominent Assembly members and the PM and other senior politicians even before they had certain news about the situation.
I think the motive was to put pressure on America and other members form the Iraqia list and the Kurdish alliance by submitting a new security formula that rescues the Shea't from an imminent genocide on the hands of the extremist Sunnis so they demand a greater active control over the security systems to confront the challenges threatening the She'at leaders and people.

It's true that She'at were threatened many times and sustained many atrocities but so did the other segments of the people here and faking such crisis is not in the interest of the country; especially after we've seen many signs of unity among all Iraqis against terrorism. Someone comes now and ruins this by faking sectarian troubles ignoring everything about the higher national interest and the critical nature of the moment.

Many parties and leaderships have been seeking control over the security file and this had been clear since as early as April 2003 when everyone began offering their services or their militias' services in keeping security and protecting lives and property since they had trained and armed militias.

But the motive behind this is clear as well, I don't think I'd be exaggerating if I said that I see a Saddami way of thinking here; 30 years ago Saddam made the basement of the republican palace his head quarters, he took control over the Mukhabarat file (which was called the department of public relations at that time) and the generals who lead the 1968 coup used to laugh when Saddam's name was mentioned saying "who's that guy? Isn't he the one sitting in the basement signing badges and distributing rifles!?"

Those generals didn't realize how dangerous those badges and the elements carrying those badges and rifles could be. Saddam didn't need to build an army and he didn't need many stars on his shoulders to overthrow the generals who had whole divisions under their command.
Is someone trying to revive this strategy now?
I think yes.

Ali points out other possibilities in a post he wrote yesterday.


With the time for Iraq to have its elected governemnt approaching, it seems that newspapers and research institutes are paying more attention to one of the important issues that are to be decided by the elected governemnt which is hopefully going to replace the interim governemnt at the beginning of 2006 if everything moves according to the planned schedule.

I think this poll conducted by AL-Sabah newspaper goes well with the other poll by Al-Mindhar that Chrenkoff has reported about.

AlSabah's poll included 1089 samples and the results came as follows:

Do you support the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq?

-Immediately: 13.04% (142 votes)

-According to a time table: 80.81% (880 votes)

-Don't know: 6.25 (67 votes)

Monday, April 18, 2005
Some news from Iraq.

General Hikmat Mousa from the ministry of interior, discredited the news about more than a hundred people taken hostages in Mada'en and he stressed that news agencies had exaggerated the situation.
The general told "New Sabah" that three battalions from the special forces of the ministry of interior are positioned around the town and on the roads leading to it from the Hafriyah, Khalsah and Al-Wahda suburbs.
He added that these forces are waiting for engineering and other support units to begin cleaning the town from weapons, IEDs and unexploded ammunitions. The operations will extend later to include the rest of the suburbs in the region south-east of Baghdad.

This afternoon, Al-Fayhaa TV broadcasted clips showing the Iraqi security forces arresting many suspected terrorists and evacuating a number of weapon caches.

Iraqi authorities announced yesterday that security forces had arrested many suspects among whom were a number of the most wanted terrorists, namely "Kareem Abbas Sari" who's leading a terror cell of 41 fighters and 4 suicidal recruits supposed to be non-Iraqi.
Primary investigations revealed that the leader of the cell was receiving financial support from "Mahmood Younis Al-Ahmed" who's currently leading the remaining Ba'athists in Syria. It's worth mentioning that there's a million $ reward on Al-Ahmed's head.

Mean while the 104th battalion of the Iraqi Army arrested 4 more terrorists in Mosul after receiving intelligence about a number of terrorists preparing for attacks in the city. Some amount of weapons was also confiscated in the operation.
In the city of Baquba, 22 suspects were arrested and large amounts of weapons and ammunitions were found.

A joined task force from the Iraqi and American armies launched an offensive on a number of terror nests in Jurf Al-Sakhr and Alexandria south of Baghdad; 4 terrorists were killed and 11 arrested at the end of the operation which helicopters and tanks were providing backup for.
From AlSharq Al-Awsat.
Other news outlets reported that Izzat Addori's nephew was captured a couple of days ago in Baquba also. This guy was leading a terror cell in the city and he's a former imtelligence officer in Saddam's regime.

Today's session of the National Assembly:

During the discussions, one member said that the residents of Baghdad are complaining from the strict security measures in Baghdad which include blocking many bridges and main streets in Baghdad during the sessions of the Assembly. The member said that he met a person who told him "if I knew that elections were going to lead to this situation I wouldn't have gone for the elections".
Another member responded to this statement saying "this is an insult to the assembly and I have many points against this idea. The inconvenience and discomfort caused by the necessary security measures cannot be compared to the importance of what were doing here, we represent the people and we're trying to draw the lines that lead the country to a better tomorrow, so everyone has got to tolerate the exceptional circumstances we're going through"
Here the chairman commented "the security measures are necessary to keep the political process moving; if something bad happens and-God forbid-we lost some of the members in an attack, the people will hold the government accountable for the incompetence.
My comment:
I think the media and sometimes the people too are exaggerating the side effects of the strict security precautions in Baghdad but they will be complaining even more if no enough protection was provided for the Assembly. You can't please everyone, eh?

Women rights:

The association of Kurdistan women demanded from the future government to assign 30% of the ministries to women (at least 10 out of 31) and to allow female members of the Assembly to head some of the committees of the Assembly.
The association had also requested that women should be granted a higher percentage (40%) of the seats in the parliament in any future elections.
The chief of the association Mrs. Nisrin Birwari emphasized the brave role of Iraqi women in the success of the elections and expressed her happiness with the current percentage of women inside the Assembly which she considered as a pioneer experience in the region.
But she added that women are looking forward to getting a higher representation and occupying more important seats in the future administrations.

Negotiations for the formation of the new governement:

The elected Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jafari said that his cabinet is going to include 31 ministries and that the "door is still open for the political powers to participate in the formation".
Reports attributed the delay in announcing the new formation to the stubbornness of Allawi's list and the conditions put by this list to be part of the new government.
Allawi stated in a televised interview on Al-Iraqia TV that his list is seeking the post of either the defense or interior ministries in addition to 3 other less sovereignty related ministries.
"We are waiting for an answer from the other major two lists and we're certainly willing to participate in the government if we get a positive response. Our demands are based on parliamentary eligibilities and on the principles of national unity government.


Ibrahim Al-Jafari met a number of the prominent Iraqi Christian clerics to discuss a number of the issues that concern the religious minorities in Iraq like providing security for the churches and protecting freedom of belief.


Thousands of Al_Shorja merchants and workers protested yesterday near the building of Baghdad's trade chamber to ask compensations for the damages caused by the huge fire that destroyed their stores.
It was reported that 1000 business owners and 6000 workers working in those stores were affected by the fire.
Primary investigations suggest that the fire originated from an electric bad contact as the electric installations in the building were disorganized and not receiving proper maintenance.
Baghdad's municipal department is cooperating with the civil defense department on removing the rubble and reopening the adjacent streets.


Sunday, April 17, 2005
Update on Mada'en crisis.
This morning I decided to make my stay at the clinic shorter than usual because I wanted to follow the developments of the hostage-taking case in Mada'en.
Since the clinic is located in the southern part if Baghdad and it would theoretically take half an hour to reach Mada'en, I took permission from my boss and decided to go as close as possible to the event zone.

I went to the local garage and got on a mini bus that was heading in that direction; I had doubts that the road would be open but I thought that since people are already going there, then maybe the road isn't blocked yet.

We reached a point less than 8 miles from Madae'n when we found that all the roads that lead to the town were sealed, so I got off the mini bus just like the rest of the passengers did and I walked to get a cup of tea from a nearby small cafeteria.
While being there I saw a lot of troops (Iraqi and American) moving towards Madae'n while I counted more than 6 fully armed Apache helicopters patrolling the skies above and around Mada'en.

I was listening to some folks talking about the situation over there; more than one person mentioned that many families especially Shea't have already departed the town and headed to Al-Kut at an earlier time to avoid being caught in the fight.

Later on Al-Iraqia TV, the State minister for security affairs reported before the National Assembly that five battalions from the Iraqi Army in addition to many units from the IP are participating in the assault on the terrorists who have taken control over the town. The minister also confirmed that a number of hostages have been freed after searching a number of suspected houses and buildings. However, no accurate statistics are available till now.

Related news stories here.

Saturday, April 16, 2005
I've been to Mada'en once; that was late last year but I still clearly remember what I saw. The walls were full of slogans of hatred and violence; some slogans praised Saddam and the Ba'ath, others called for Jihad and others were frank death threats addressing the "collaborators and spies".

I understood later that the poor town was falling under a number of terror groups that were trying to make that town look like another Fallujah.
This place became a source of many local troubles through out the past several months but never made the big news in Iraq until this morning when a number of criminals took around 60 of the residents hostages.

I don't expect these terrorists would get away with what they did; actually I'm expecting a large-scale military operation to take place in that spot real soon because I heard from local sources that the (Wolf) brigade which has been famous for its successful operations in Mosul is now taking positions around Mada'en.

I'm sure that some "experts" will celebrate this incident and consider it a spark that will ignite the civil war fire they have been hallucinating about.
What such "experts" always fail to notice is that the conflict in Iraq is taking place between the people, the government and the coalition on one side and the extremists and remaining Ba'athists on the other side. It is NOT a people vs. people conflict; it never had and it will never be like that.

I really don't blame people who live outside Iraq for believing the "experts"; they didn't live here and they depend on the news to build their opinions.
But I live in Iraq and seen almost every city in it, so I know how thinks work and I know what the people think.
This time, the pathetic terrorists are trying to make it look like a sectarian conflict; it is NOT.

They would simply kill anyone who dares to oppose them in their territories and they don't care whether the "collaborator or infidel" was Sunni, She'at, Christian or Kurdish.
I know people from every single component of the population in Iraq and they all realize that Salafi extremists groups and their Ba'athist and foreign allies are the ones behind terrorism in Iraq.

I hope we will hear some good news from that town soon and I hope to see the hostages released and I have a good feeling about it.

I was with one of my friends on the high way yesterday when I saw huge plumes of smoke coming out of the Shorja area (Baghdad's main trading area) and we wondered if that smoke was because of an explosion. A few hours later we got the answer on the news "a huge fire in Shorja destroyed many stores. 50 fire-fighting teams were trying to control the spreading fire….".

The report also said something about owners of nearby shops and stores evacuating their places as the fire was expected to grow bigger and that the preliminary estimations o the damages are close to 100 m $.

The government in a 1st comment about the incident suggested that the fire was planned but when I heard that the fire originated from Al-Qadisiyah building I was more inclined to think that it was just an accident as that building hosts too many stores that deal with perfumes, cosmetics which are basically highly flammable materials. Actually the building sustained a similar accident a few years ago.

If you happen to walk through this building you will see that a fire is logically inevitable; there are hundreds of stores and small shops, all of which deal with flammable materials and electrical connections for small generators are just a big mess. Add to this the hot weather of Baghdad's summer that came earlier this year.
So with the warnings you read on every fragrance container "keep in a cool place" you begin to believe that only some miracle is protecting this place from blowing up!

The tragedy in the story is that the owners of these stores have no insurance on their goods as insurance companies have suspended their business in Iraq long time ago except for one or two companies that have very limited activities.

However, it is still possible that some terror cells were behind this incident and that-if proved true-would mark the appearance of a new tactic of terror that targets softer targets. Maybe such attacks that can cause more economic damage than blowing up an oil pipeline but people will not stop working because of that and at the end it will only leave the terrorists with more enemies to hide from.

Here's a link for the incident in Arabic.

The senior judge heading the department in charge of fighting corruption and monitoring the performance of the administration stated that corruption levels are as high as 70% in the departments of the government.

I can't verify the accuracy of this statement but I can say that it's not very far from the truth. I liked the words of the National Assembly's chairman when he put corruption ahead of terrorism on the list of dangers facing Iraq right now and it is a fact that we've inherited a corrupt administrative system from the past regime and no matter how hard we try to change that by introducing new bloods we will remain helpless against the corrupt nature of the existing systems because even if you change most of the old staff in any office, nothing big can change if you keep using the same old system and this change requires new laws and regulations of course.

Next week we'll be waiting for the formation of the new cabinet to be announced and some news sources now predict that Chalabi and Roge Noori will become the deputies of the PM Jafari.

I hope that the new government will be sharp and fast in dealing with corruption and I can sense real determination within the National Assembly to press on the government regarding this issue. We have so far heard many voices from the Assembly accusing certain ministries of abusing authority and malpractice; I think a storm of questions and interrogations is awaiting those in power.


Something makes Al-Jazeera look innocent!
Some might think that democratic reforms lead by some regimes here in the ME could be honest and could lead to a true change.
Picture this; an Arab president or king smiling before the cameras shaking hands with one of his colleagues or any Western official and talking "enthusiastically" about a "real" desire for reform. We've been getting this picture in the news for so many years but what did the people gain? Did we see any real step being taken?

No, I lived for 35 years under dictatorship and they cannot fool me with their stupid games of "building democracies and free elections" that alwyas lead to the formation of a parliament of sheep.

I'm sick of human rights organizations overseen by the Mukhabarat publishing shy reports that no one can get to read till some real catastrophe takes place, only then those organization would hurry up and show their reports to say that the bad things were being monitored and that the government was closely following the situation.
And I'm sick of students, labor and women revolutionary associations that aren't the least concerned about democracy or the interests of their members and know nothing to do but praising the one and only leader.
Democracy is a beautiful shiny word and repeating it over and over again is necessary to show the world that our regimes are working hard for democracy; this how tyrants think and work.

I learnt not to believe a single word from Saddam and I won't believe a single word from any other remaining dictator.
Today I want to show an example from Saudi Arabia where the royal family claims to be fiercely fighting terrorism.
True, they're killing some terrorists every other while but the regime is teaching many thousands of terrorists in the schools of hatred, elusion and brain-washing.

Open your eyes and look carefully at the directed Arab media and I when I say directed it's because there's no free media in the Arab world and most of the media is funded by the governments.
Today's example is from IQRA (which means read), the extremely religious Saudi satellite channel.
I strongly believe that the effect of this channel is way more dangerous than the guns of terrorists and makes the war on terror waged by the Saudi government looks completely hypocritical.

Where is that will to make a change and to fight terror when we find a program like this showing a 3 year old child (a true Muslim as the host likes to say) wearing hijab and talking about hatred and killing!!?
At the early beginnings of Hizbollah's TV Al-Manar, the channel was broadcasting a program that shows how bombs can be manufactured using simple ingredients. Later, I guess they found out that there are more successful methods than teaching people how to make their own bombs; planting hatred creates human bombs that are ready to detonate at any second.

I will leave to watch this sickening program which might answer the question "why would anyone blow up himself?".
(Hat tip: The Lands of Sands).


Wednesday, April 13, 2005
The increasing number of blogs emerging from Iraq is allowing us to get a better view at what's happening in different cities, small towns and even villages. Everyday there are more people starting new blogs either in Arabic or in English.
More people here are learning more about the simplicity of blogs, their capabilities and potentials in connecting people and overriding the barriers of distance.

I have always liked the horizontal conversation that blogs allow; no filters or chief editors omitting whole chunks from your article and you don't have to please anyone with your writing. It's simply a person to person conversation as you all know.

Plus, comments coming from readers can in many cases enrich the discussion and at the end both the author and the reader get more benefit.
We can fairly say that we're witnessing the birth of an Iraqi blogosphere. Despite the short time and the difficult circumstances we feel satisfied with the increasing number of men, women, students and civil society organizations who are discovering the world of blogging and free publishing.

Frankly speaking, I enjoy reading the blogs much more than I do reading the classical journals. My countrymen and women are sending an accurate and more realistic image of the events and state of the public opinion in their cities and neighborhoods and I find myself learning more details about my country through those people.

This is Al-Dhafir for example, writing his diaries and talks about his daily tours in the markets of his town and following the progress of rebuilding the local school with a lot of excitement.
While this one is providing his readers with access to places that are hard to reach for most reporters.

And this is the electricity department in Najaf which decided to start an Arabic blog to introduce the citizens of Najaf to the department's activities and the hardships it encounters while attempting to restore full power supply for the city.
While this blog is telling us about the Assyrian population celebrating the New Year.

Here we find the sons of Kirkuk talking about the city of brotherhood and expressing their wishes in seeing the day when the Iraqi citizenship beats ethnicity or sectarian differences and this is the Cultural Parliament through a sarcastic series titled "the visions of hijiya Nova Namos" suggesting cures for the social diseases Iraq is suffering from, they believe that we're still carrying a heavy heritage from the dark age of the Ba'ath.

This is an agricultural engineer using his blog to talk about problems facing agriculture in his area and he's urging his colleagues to start their own blogs to create a network that provides solutions for agricultural problems (who would think that blogs can fight termites!!).

Here's an organization that cares for the marshes and the authors talk in their blog about the suffering of the people of the marshes under the past regime and how the average cattle count (buffalos) decreased from 25 to 7 in average for the regular cattle as well as the decrease in the fish count in the marshes. This blog also submits a number of informative researches that I don't think would be found elsewhere.

Here's a photographer who found in bloggoing an opportunity to show his products to the world and he seems passionate of this particular old photo of his city.
Here you can find an organization specialized in human rights issues and showing its activities on a blog.
While here is the now locally famous blog "Maysan: the gem of Iraq" which is a blog from Amara that portraits the finest details of life in that city including the situation of internet in this poor Iraqi province.

I can't state all what I've seen on those blogs here but I still would love to share this thing with you. I found it on one of the best blogs currently publishing in Arabic. Without this blog I would have never known about this case. The post I'm talking about reflects a growing awareness and leads to the conclusion that nothing; I mean nothing can be hidden from the people here.

Here's what this blog reported about from that forgotten old, small town:
The post started with an introduction about the history of women and the historic women rallies back in 1911 in Britain then moved to Iraq and said:

We right here, entering the 21st century still reject the idea that women can and must share in the process of decision making and we simply shrug when women find solution to problems that we failed at handling and this is why we believe that women rights and issues are among the most critical ones that we have to address. The TAL assigned a 25% share for women in the National Assembly and the local municipal boards and this is considered a unique initiative but unfortunately this great initiative was exploited to serve partisan interests through nominating almost anonymous women who are not known to anyone.
One of the signs I read in a small suburb near my town congratulates one of the elected members of the National Assembly for winning the seat. The words on the sign go like this:
"We send our warmest congratulations to………'s wife at the occasion of being a National Assembly member"!!!!
Now can anyone tell me who's going to occupy that seat? The wife or her husband?!!!

Everyday I discover new interesting uses and advantages of blogging; this is not only about news or information but more important than all is that blogging has proven to be a bridge that connects people and strengthens the interaction among different cultures and communities.
If the internet in general made this world a small village, then blogging has succeded in making it a big family.


Monday, April 11, 2005
Ali wrote a really magnificent piece today. I'm copying the whole thing here:

Two years now and "they" still wonder
And "they" still ask Was it worth it?
Was it right?
Two years and it seems to me Like it was yesterday
Two years and "they" keep trying
To silence the voice inside us
Yet it only grows louder

I was once free When I was a kid
But when I grew up
I couldn't be the man I am
I couldn't be the kid I was
And I couldn't flee

Two years since I finally became
The man in me, and the kid in me.
And "they" want to take this away?
"They" would have to kill them both first
The man and the kid
And turn the clock back around
And still "they" can't change me back

Two years since I stopped weeping
Inside of me, day and night
Two years since the widow
Found her husband's body
In a feast of death for the human death lord.
Two years since the orphan
knew Where his father lied
And now they finally have peace
And they have a future
No matter how painful it is to go on
And their dreams still go on

Two years since I started dreaming
Dreams that have a chance
And are becoming true
Two years since I regained my heart
And then I found her...
And she found me...
And the world looked beautiful!
And "they" think they can separate us?!
Think again, or keep wishing.

"They" say we are being slaughtered
"They" say we are being abused
Am I blind or are "they" the ones who are sightless?!
As why can't I see what "they" see?
And the best "they" can offer of their view is Maybe I'm a CIA?
Or maybe the other "they", that of their accusations is paying me?
But who is their accused and rumored "they"?
Oh, the accusers have so many names for this other "they".
Sometimes they're the CIA
Sometimes they're the NSA
Sometimes they're Bush and the gang
I say, yes they exist and they "pay" me, and I'm seduced.

I see with my own eyes this other "they"
And I call them simply, Americans.
What are they paying me?
Oh, you couldn't afford that!
Saddam couldn't afford it.
Sadr cannot afford it.
"They" think any of these can?
Could their "they" even try!?

Two years and some are still
Trapped in the past
And some cannot withstand the moment
And want to arrive without struggle to a better future
While others just enjoy what is already better now
And work to meet the future, bettered with them.
Two years and they ask Should I be grateful?
Am I?
Do I even need to answer that!?
YES, and to the last breath!

Ahmed writes about two Saddamites he met in London.
It's extraordinarily annoying how disgusting those bugs can be.

Just wanted to add one piece of good news to what Chrenkoff had already published.
ISHTAR has become the 1st private airlines in Iraq, with one 727 currently working on the line Baghdad-Dubai but with plans to expand its business to include more flight lines after adding more aircrafts.

You all know that commercial flights were suspended from/to Iraq since August 1990 and were resumed only in September of last year.
The Iraqi Airlines Company provides flights only to Amman and Damascus but not Dubai which has become the Middle East's most important trading center and attracts many Iraqi businessmen.
This has encouraged the private sector in Iraq to try this field of investment (Air transport) which had been always controlled by the government.
From today's Al-Sabah.

Sunday, April 10, 2005
A Sandmonkey offers his thoughts on subjects like war-for-oil, oil-for-food, Michael Moore and a few other related issues. An interesting post actually and it reminded me of one of the earliest posts I wrote on this blog more than a year ago.

In his 1st interview with Fox after being announced Iraq's new PM, the radical Islamist Ibrahim Al-Jafari declares that he's going to be Iraq's new dictator and that he's going to make Iraq a copy of Iran.
He also mentioned that he learnt injustice and disrespect to human rights form the West during the 20 years he spent there.

I'm just kidding of course, go watch the video of the interesting interview (I tried to put a direct link but it didn't work)! Anyway, it's there on the upper right corner of the page.

Saturday, April 09, 2005
The Eid of Liberty
I don't think I need to tell you how close is the 9th of April to my heart. And now, after two years happiness is still the same for me; one person among millions who were freed on that great day.
The 9th of April had turned one of the darkest pages in our history and opened the door wide before the people and their dreams, just as when the idol was knocked down, fear and oppression were knocked down as well.

No day matches you, my brightest day. We will keep reaping your fruits while the entire neighborhood follow your light and wait for other days like you to sweep away the remaining rotten idols.

The 9th of April has proven that the free world now has the guts and the required determination to make the change and throw the legacy of the past century behind its back; dictators shall be endorsed no more and the struggle will continue until humanity is freed from its dark nightmare that lasted way longer than it should have.

The winds of change that have blown away the tyrant in Iraq have begun to reach more and more people everyday and the heroic stand of Iraqis is inspiring freedom lovers in Beirut and Cairo, Kuwait and Bahrain, Arabia and Damascus; people are screaming enough is enough; enough for tyranny, enough for repression and enough for slavery.

Some naysayers and losers will say that terror had marked the past two years in Iraq but we the Iraqis believe that terrorism is merely the defeated remnants of evil fed by the other tyrants who got terrified from the fall of their demonic master. They're holding onto a weak thread that will soon be broken no matter how hard they try.

Today we can see the idol of terror shaking and losing balance from the powerful strike Iraqis had given it on the glorious election day; the day when the world stood amazed before the extraordinary bravery of Iraqis defying fear and walking through bullets and bombs to say their word and give terror the purple finger.

The 9th of April paved the way for that historic revolution and I think this is more than enough to make us keep this day in our hearts forever.

We have passed the cruel tests of terror, we went to cast our ballots and we're rebuilding what was destroyed and we're looking forward to building more and more but most important is that we're going to write our holy book, our constitution, by ourselves to preserve our freedom and stop tyranny from invading our land again.

After decades of isolation enforced by Saddam on Iraq, today Iraqis come back to join the free world and catch up with what they had missed; slowly but surely.

Some shortsighted people doubt the outcome of this day and think that it's not suitable to announce it a success but we say to them:
You're free to think whatever you like, we got on the train, but you’re standing still.

I will save the effort of explaining to them what they missed because several years from now when Iraq becomes a beacon of civilization in the region you will find out the truth solid and clear but unfortunately I'm positive that they won't admit it and they will try to find another funeral to practice the only hobby they're good at; whining and weeping.
So today we're offering a last chance to choose between joining the real world and joining Muqtada and Harith Al-Dhari.

Go and chant with them, condemn democracy and march against freedom if you like but don't forget that those thugs represent no one but themselves. They rejected democracy from the beginning and missed the chance of joining the greatest election of our time.
And don't forget that millions of Iraqis had also rejected those fanatics when the people marched to the boxes ignoring the threats and "fatwas"

Those who really represent me and my people are the men and women we voted for and put our trust in; men like Ibrahim Al-Jafari and Jalal Talbani who are grateful for the nations that helped Iraq in the darkest times and freed its people when our "brothers" ignored us and silently watched the Ba'ath murder and torture our people and more worse, gave the Ba'ath a hand more than once.

These are the people who represent us now; they promise us freedom and prosperity and I intend to trust them and believe them as long as they prove to be honest to us but I will never listen to those who want to bring back the rule of the dark ages.

Finally, I would like to say it again and say it loud:
Thank you our liberators.


Friday, April 08, 2005
Not surprisingly, I got to hear the same rumors that our friend Ibn Al-Rafidain got to hear some days ago. As a matter of fact, I heard about these rumors several months ago only with minor differences.
I heard the 2nd rumor which talks about the guy who was driving a truck loaded with lettuce while I was on my way back from Basra to Baghdad back in August when I was still working in one of Basra's suburbs.
The person who was telling that story with a lot of anxiety was the taxi driver I hired with 2 other guys.

It was too hot at that time (middle of August is the hottest time in the year in Iraq) and I was trying to take a nap when the driver's voice telling that rumor woke me up so I wasn't in the mood to hear stupid rumors and I asked him carelessly

"When did that happen?"

"A couple of weeks ago" was his answer.

At this point I was just about to accept the answer and go back to my nap as I felt it was useless to have a logical discussion with the man but immediately I remembered that August is not the usual season for lettuce... Well, only if Iraq was somehow moved to the southern hemisphere of the globe! So I said:

"But lettuce grows only in winter!!"

Here the man looked confused and said after a moment of thinking:
"err, you know what? That's a good point indeed".

I found this nice picture in one of the new Iraqi blogs (blog in Arabic):

Soldiers from the 116th battalion of the American National Guard worked side by side with the locals on rebuilding "Twaizawah School" in the suburb of Twaizawah to the south of Kirkuk.
The school was totally destroyed during the ex-regime's days as part of the Ba'athists notorious campaign against the Kurdish people but now it looks better than it used to be prior to the destruction it suffered from.

Speaking of schools, Najma has left her old ruined school and moved to a totally new one.

Thursday, April 07, 2005
I received this announcement via e mail, very interesting indeed:

Something wonderful is happening in Washington, DC. On May 14, several groups made up of Arab, Iranians, Kurds, Assyrians, Lebanese, Palestinians, Syrians, Sudanese, Muslims, Christians and Jews will converge on our nation's Capital for a rally against terrorism and to support freedom and democracy in the Middle East and the Muslim world. This will be the first rally of its kind in Washington DC that is led by Muslims and Middle Easterners.

Please join us and help us send a message of hope to the people of the Middle East who seek freedom, democracy and the elimination of extremism and terrorism.

This rally is NOT limited to Muslims and Middle Easterners. We request anyone and everyone who supports our message to join us at the rally. We want to send a message to the extremists and terrorists that American Muslims, Christians, Jews and people of all faiths are united in the goal of building a better world.

We welcome all endorsers and we ask that you circulate this message to as many groups and people as possible. Help us make history.

I think this initiative deserves some attention and support; more information about it here.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005
Iraq chooses president.
This morning marked another turning point in the history of Iraq when the elected Iraqi National Assembly publicly elected and approved the new president of Iraq and his new deputies.
I personally welcome the decision of choosing Mr. Talbani for this position because this step proves again that Iraqis are willing and working hard to bridge the gap between the different components of the Iraqi nation and to overcome the differences and disputes among them.

This new formation of presidency in Iraq will certainly strengthen the unity of this nation and it prove again that Iraq is a home for all Iraqis; not only the Arabs, not only the She'at or any other single race or sect.
I would be just as happy if the president was Turkmen or Assyrian or from any other segment of the wide social spectrum of Iraq.
It doesn't matter where you come from or what your religion is, if you're good and if the people think you're good, then you can reach the position you deserve.
This is the new Iraq and this is how it's going to be from now on, whether the terror-tyranny alliance likes it or not.

Some people are skeptical about the capacity of the new National Assembly to monitor and guide the democratic change in Iraq because they think the Assembly's meetings are chaotic and disorganized but what I see is fruitful and free dialogues that were absolutely impossible two years ago under the rule of the one and only glorious leader.

Our democracy is not perfect, I know that and our politicians still have a lot to learn and I know that too but what I care about and what really counts here is that freedom of speech and freedom of criticism is granted for the members of the Assembly who are the representatives of the people.

It will probably take years before security stops being a concern and probably more than that before electricity becomes normal but you know what?
I don't care much about that because my freedom is worth much more than all these things and freedom is the key to achieve unlimited progress and we have this key now.

Congratulations to the Iraqi people and to our new leadership whom I wish all success with their new and huge responsibilities.

A'asha Al-Iraq.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Now the persecutors themselves seek protection from "persecution". How interesting!
Via Chrenkoff.

From following the developments of the political situation here and from watching/reading the latest news reports and announcements, tomorrow is going to witness announcing the formation of the new interim presidency board of Iraq.
All the signs indicate that Aadil Abdulmahdi and Ghazi Al-Yawir will become the new two vice presidents while Jalal Talbani is going to become Iraq's first Kurdish president ever.
It's also kind of decided that Ibrahim Al-Jafari will become the new PM.
So tomorrows meeting of the National Assembly will be only a completion of formalities regarding this subject.

I will be at work when the meeting begins tomorrow but I will try to have a fast work day and return home as fast as I can to keep you updated in case anything imporatnt comes up.

Zarqawi is emotional....And sending letters to his mom!? Well, that's what old cellmates say. And from watching many crime movies, I think these traits are found in most of the seriously dangerous serial killers.
Frankly speaking, I don't give a ***t about that, I just want to see him handcuffed or eliminated but I thought you'd be interested in reading this report.

This cartoon from New Sabah is obviously mourning the spiral minaret of Samarra.
The comment at the bottom of the cartoon says "History gets its share from beheadings as well".

Monday, April 04, 2005
If you want to find some good news from Afghanistan, go to Chrenkoff's!

Sunday, April 03, 2005
The association of Muslim Scholars denied in a statement (Arabic) that was distributed yesterday that the association is responsible for the latest fatwa that encouraged Iraqis to join the Iraqi security forces.
The latest statement from the association said that yesterday's fatwa wasn't approved by the secretary or the spokesman of the association explaining that "Um Al-Qura" mosque from which the fatwa in question was released doesn't officially represent the association.

It's obvious that there are major disputes among different wings of the association as the group that signed the fatwa includes members of the association as well as prominent supporters (like the dean of the Islamic studies college) and these people collectively make up a large part of the material and moral base of the association.

I expect this group of men who are trying to choose a more moderate and logical attitude will be subject to great pressures in the future and I think the Syrian regime which supports the radical wing of the association (represented by Harth Al-Dhari) will probably instruct its agents in Iraq to launch an assassination campaigns to eliminate those 64 men.


A high official in the Iraqi ministry of interior announced that crime levels in Baghdad have decreased by 40% in March in comparison with the past months,
The source has confirmed that murders, carjacking, have armed robbery levels have all decreased. The source added that the increased cooperation of the citizens in reporting suspicious and criminal elements played a great role in this improvement.
From Al-Sabah newspaper (Arabic).

This announcement came a week after officials from the pentagon announced that attacks rate against American troops have decreased in a similar ratio (40%).

It seems to me that these similar ratios suggest a correlation between crime and terrorism. What do you think?

Iraq Decides.
The members of the National Assembly have finally reached an agreement on choosing a chairman for the Assembly, Mr. Hachim Al-Hasani from the "Iraqion" list that is lead by Yawir. Al-Hasani is an ex-member of the Islamic Party and currently occupying the position of the minister of industry.

The new chosen chief expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the other members for placing their trust in him and started his speech with a few words about the importance of national unity in the current phase.
Then he moved to another critical subject; administrative corruption and fighting it. This gives an impression that this problem will be on of the priorities in the near future putting security in the 2nd place.
It's fair to say that corruption can be more dangerous than terrorism and crime because these two problems originate and flourish in the presence of corruption.

He also mentioned that the government will be working hard on solving the current problems that Iraqis are suffering from and will try hard to provide the people with the basic needed services like electricity, health services, water and education.

Iraq is showing the region a new experiment here that is hopefully going to be the corner stone for a true major reform in the Middle East.
This is going to be a tough road and we might not reach our goals with the desired speed and easiness but the important thing here is that this new experience in Iraq will not be confined to this country alone, it will help and inspire the oppressed nations that are still suffering from regimes similar to Saddam's to build their own examples and the sacrifices that are going to be given in Iraq will make the sought for freedom easier and faster for other freedom seekers.
Now let Iraq be a candle that shows the road for those who were hesitant go through the dangers of that road.


Saturday, April 02, 2005
The spiral minaret of Samarra sustained a mean sabotage attack that targeted its tip.
This 1150 year old unique minaret was the watch tower of choice for both, the American troops and the terrorists in the last couple of years as it's the highest building in the area (around 190 feet tall) and occupies a strategic spot.
The ignorant thugs decided to blow up the wall that surrounds the tip of the minaret so that it won't be used again by the American or Iraqi troops as a watch tower/sniper station against them anymore.

I am wondering here, why are historic sites like this minaret still being used for military purposes?
Shouldn't the concerned Iraqi institutions do their job in taking care of these sites which constitute the historic fortune of this country? Or are we going to keep weeping and whining after each similar incident without doing anything to stop such saddening incident from happening again?

The terrorists are directly responsible for the sabotage but the Iraqi government and the American troops are still responsible for ill-using the historic sites in some cases and not providing sufficient-if any-protection in other cases.

Okay, this is going to be extremely off topic!

A lighter is a just lighter everywhere in this world but this version of lighters can an indispensable tool for the average Iraqi citizens in general and for Iraqi dentists in particular!
Other than the classical use of a lighter (lighting cigarettes or maybe candles on a birthday or a romantic dinner) this new version can help you find your way when the electricity is cut so you won't have to trip over the tables!

The high intensity violet light supplied with this lighter can be very useful for dentists. How?
It can readily be used for curing light-cure fillings when your light-gun is down, it can be used as a light pointer to point at something on the board in a seminar or lecture.
And let's not forget the functions of the basic gun, i.e. the flame; it can be used to heat the instrument dentists use to seal and finish root canal fillings, soften dental wax while working on dentures or other appliances AND to light a cigarette while waiting for patients to come to the clinic OR while thinking of a new post for the blog.

Ali wrote a good piece about the oil for food scandal and he offers some ideas for desirable reforms in the system of the UN.
It's just an idea; that's what he said. I think it can help us find the basics for a treatment plan.

Sunni clerics apparently changing thier mind.
In a very significant development in Iraq, the Sunni and She'at clerics have simultaneously issued fatwas that call Iraqis to support the Iraqi security forces and encouraged people to sign up and join these forces.
The significance of the She'att part here comes from the fact that this is the 1st time that She'at clergy instructs people to cooperate with the security forces as this cooperation was forbidden for decades.
The question that led to the She'at fatwa was put like this:

Should Iraqis under the current circumstances -which have revealed the damaging role of the remnants of the past regime and the criminals that come from outside in destabilizing the country and hindering the progress- should they actively participate in identifying and confronting those bad elements?

Yes, the should.

This answer didn't include cooperating with the multi national troops, yet didn't state it was forbidden.

On the other hand, I see that the Sunni fatwa is a major change in the strategies of the Sunni clerics in dealing with the administration and this could become a great service that boosts the security situation in the country's hot spots.
It's worth mentioning that 64 Sunni cleric signed this fatwa, among whom were prominent members of the "association of Muslim scholars" as well as the head of the "Iraqi Islamic Party".

Here's the main part of the fatwa:

For the sake of saving and protecting our fellow citizens' lives, property and honor, we hereby allow the young Iraqis to join the Iraqi police and army as these two institutions are the protector of this country and they are in the country's service and not private militias with private agendas.

Related news link (Arabic) and (English)


Friday, April 01, 2005
Ahmed Al-Baghdadi is a Kuwaiti intellectual. he was sentenced to a year in prison, paying a 2000 KD fine (7000$) and he had to sign a paper in which he promises no to return back to crime again!!

Let's see what Ahmed's crime was like.
Ahmed learnt that the government wanted to increase the hours of teaching Quran and Islamic religion in schools and that would be on the expense of the music class. So Ahmed "committed his crime" and wrote the following on Assiyasah (The Politics) newspaper:

Is there no end for this backwardness?

I don't want my son to receive lessons from some ignorant people who teach him to disrespect women, non Muslims and many others and I don't want those culturally retarded uneducated people who choose the curriculums to fill my son's head with myths about Satan.
And frankly speaking, I don't want my son to learn *"Tajweed" because I don't want him to become a cleric or a Quran reader, reading the verses over dark graves. I also want to protect him from the possibility of joining terrorism whether practically or mentally.

Bottom line is, I want my son to have a future that makes me proud of him, his knowledge, mentality and work and I don't want to have him raised and taught in a way that makes me ashamed of his doings in the future.
Is there no end for this backwardness

* Tajweed is the specail way of reading (slowly singing) Quranic verses.

We have said it earlier; totalitarian regimes are to blame for planting extremism and feeding it through imposing their visions on people and interfering in everything without having the least qualifications to do so.
Ahmed and brave fellows like him have had enough of those regimes and they decided to speak themselves without fear from inevitable punishment.
We are fighting a fierce war against powers that still live in the dark ages, but this time we have the dare to speak out loudly. We know that we're not alone and all freedom lovers are on our side.

I salute this brave Ahmed; his courage is impressive and deserves all respect.

From a Kuwaiti blog named Free Brain (link in Arabic).


While the Egyptian blogger Mohammed keeps searching for a way out from the persistent tyranny that Egypt is suffering from, he strongly stands against the suggestions provided by the religious movement and in this post Mohammed condemned the latest statement of Qaradawi that was shown on Al-Jazeera on the latest episode of the weekly program Sharea't and Life.Zarqawi's adviser Qaradawi said:

There's no doubt that man should be able to find a balance between existing damages and possible dangers and he needs to decide which of which can be more harmful; the invader coming from overseas whose ambitions are entirely different from those of the nation? Or the dictator who is the son of this nation but got shifted from the right path and became a tyrant?

No doubt a man would choose the milder damage and the lesser evil among those choices; that is the dictator; the son of the nation whose damage is definitely much lesser than that caused by invaders who have their own agendas.

Mohammed represents a large segment of people in Arab countries who have the similar point of view; they want to have their freedom and they want democracy to flourish in their countries, yet they want to do it on their own, depending exclusively on their own capabilities and without any help or interference from outside.
So there is no way they would listen to or back corrupt clerics like Qaradawi and that's good indeed but they're unfortunately still can't get over the pan-nationalist ideology and the old fashion Arab pride.

He ends his article by saying:

During the last few months Egyptians saw demonstrations on the streets for the 1st time and they began to find political parties and journals crossing all the red lines while the regime began maneuvering to avoid and relief the increasing pressure.
The coming months will tell us who's going to win; the regime backed by the Arab "pride" current that hates dictatorship but yet had chosen it? Or the reformists who started their movements to topple the dictatorship without using American support but later found that they can't find anyone to help them but America which they're trying to avoid?
These reformists know that America will use them in return for any help it offers and this will eventually destroy their reputation. So their greatest challenge is to remain patriotic and to stay away from American support and… be successful in reaching their goals at the same time.

There's obviously a great deal of confusion out there, I hope they will find their way soon.


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