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Iraqi Expat

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Join the March Against Terrorism

Join the March Against Terrorism on May 14th 2005; or spread the message and support this rally, which will be the first of its kind in Washington DC that is led by Muslims and Middle Easterners against radical Muslims and supporters of terrorism.

This rally, however, is NOT limited to Muslims and Middle Easterners.

[Thanks Annie]

The low-life scumbags

Mohammed posted a powerful and moving message about the low-life terrorists and the low-life ignorant scumbags who support these terrorists and call them resistance. I am not going to repeat what he said, which you must read because I agree with every single word. These people are nothing but low-life morons with an anti-freedom anti-democracy sick ideology.

Make no mistake about it, we will never forget or forgive theses terrorists who deliberately spilled the blood of innocent Iraqis and brave Iraqi policemen. Nor will we forget or forgive their supporters.

A comment has been made there by Eddie in which he said: "...How many wedding parties have been slaughtered...", to which I decided to reply here and I hope he wasn't talking about Al Qaim incident!

This is a true story about my uncle's friend who lives in Germany, I will call him G. He went back to Iraq last year to visit his family in Baquba, part of the Sunni triangle. To go back to Germany he hired a taxi to take him to Amman. Here is the conversation that took place between them on the way to Amman:

Driver: "Where are you from?"
G: "from Baquba"
Driver: "Welcome! Welcome to the son of the honourable Baquba! You guys are brave! You guy are our brothers in fighting! You guys are the true Iraqis!" etc.
Driver: "I am you brother from Al Ramadi"

At that point, G was getting worried. He became afraid and didn't know what to say; he didn't know whether to curse the "resistance" or to praise it, so he kept quite and the driver kept talking, but he knew that this might be his last day. Fortunately for G, the driver didn't know that G was an exile who hold German citizenship!

So the driver felt relaxed and started talking about his involvement in the so called resistance. He said that they have helped many Iraqis and Arabs in their operations against the occupation and "collaborators". Usually, suicide operations are done by Arabs, whereas other operations are mainly done by Iraqis.

He talked about an incident, when they caught an Egyptian who used to spy for the Americans. They (taxi driver and terrorists) prosecuted the Egyptian guy and sentenced him to death; but the Egyptian bragged about his brother being part of their network. So they asked him who was his brother, and they found out that his brother was one of theirs.

So, after the told his brother about the death sentence, he said that he will have no reason to live and wished to be sent on a mission that he will not return from! And so they executed the Egyptian spy and sent his brother on a suicide mission.

Now all this time, G was shitting his pants! Not literally!

Anyway, the taxi driver went on to describe the rituals preformed before a mission. He said that when a suicide mission is carried out, the suicide bomber would go to heaven, have lunch with the Prophet, and at night he will be accompanied by 80 virgins!

The problem is that the taxi driver was serious and believed every word!!

So, the night before that mission, they would throw the suicide bomber a wedding party! And he asked G, if he remembers the wedding party in Al Qaim, and G said yes. The taxi driver said this was one of these weddings!

The funny part is when they reached the border and the taxi driver saw G's German passport! He was shocked and asked curiously "You are an exile? You have a German passport?", knowing that he missed the opportunity to make few thousand dollars by kidnapping him.

I heard so many stories like this one from exiles who visited Iraq, or those who came here for a visit, that just make you feel sick.

So Eddie, don't throw anything negative you read at us; remember we are Iraqis and we know more than you do about the reality of what is happening in Iraq. And yes I am an exile, and probably don't know as much as the guys at ITM or others who live there, but I still have friends and relatives in Iraq and I do have my sources.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Views regarding Iraq's New Government

I don't know why I do this! Why do I go and read comments on the BBC web site? It pisses me off, because I end up reading negative comments made by non-Iraqis who think that they know everything!

Anyway, I did it again; but this time I only read comments made by Iraqis. There were 14 comments made by Iraqis, 7 of them are expats. Most of the comments were positive, with only 3 negative comments made by expats!!Yeah, I am puzzled too!

Here are some excerpts:

[...] The insurgency will probably evolve and change tactics for the next decade.
Mohanned Rahman, Oxford, UK (originally Iraqi)

Mohanned, did you say "for the next decade"? Give me a break!

Although I've live in Australia for years, I thought I'd tell you about what my extended family feels in Iraq. During the last three years there have been four major happy moments in their lives. First is the fall of Saddam dictatorship, second is the capture of Saddam, third is their participation in the victorious Iraqi election and the fourth is the formation of this first freely elected Iraqi government. They also acknowledged the violence and uncertainty in their lives, but everything has a price and the above mentioned achievements are worth any price.
Abdul Musa, Adelaide-Australia (Iraqi)

Iraq will move now better and faster than other Arab countries. The delay in the formation of the cabinet is better many times than what's happening in countries like Egypt or Syria. These two countries are next in line for a repeat of the Iraqi scenario. There are now signs that it has just started in Egypt now under the name of democracy.
Ahmed Shihab, Baghdad, Iraq

This is the second blow to terrorism after the massive turnout at the polls. The new government will be vital for the restoration of law and order and prosecuting the enemies of the people, especially those who want to access power by means of plotting and incitement to religious hatred and at the expense of killing innocents and defiling holy shrines.
Ali Mohamed Hassanein, Iraqi in Dubai

Today is the final stab in the heart of terrorists and of Saddam's followers. The delay in the announcement of the cabinet demonstrates the dedication of the government in choosing the most competent elements. What matters now is preventing foreign occupiers from influencing political decision making in Iraq.
Ahmed al-Janoubi, Emara, Iraq

It's the first time we have witnessed the formation of an elected government in which all the components of the Iraqi ethnic patchwork are represented (Shia, Arabs, Assyrians, Turkmen, etc), including those who refused to take part in the electoral process. This is truly a source of pride to all Iraqis.
Ammar, Kirkuk, Iraq

BBC: Iraq's new government: Your views

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Iraq Sandstorm

A rare desert sandstorm hit former Iraqi airbase, about 180 km west of Baghdad, now home to a US marine corps unit.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Samir Punched Saddam in the Mouth

Samir holding SaddamSamir, the Iraqi American who was with the American Army when they captured Saddam in the rat's hole, punched Saddam in the mouth.

That must've felt too damn good.
Man, I'd love to punch him too!

Samir, you are da man!

[Hat Tip: LGF]

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The right question

A worthy comment made by Paul -UK- on ITM regarding Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrats leader.

There is one question about the Iraq war that all the cynics, critics and dissenters cannot answer.

The Lib Dem leader was asked it at his daily Press conference yesterday and fell flat on his face.

Charles Kennedy was asked: Would the world have been a better place if there had been no war and Saddam Hussein was still in power?

In my view, the only answer is no. But if that word passed his lips, Kennedy's case for attacking Tony Blair would have been blown to smithereens.

Kennedy's deputy Sir Menzies Campbell tried to dig him out of the hole he was in by claiming, preposterously, that if there hadn't been a war then the United Nations sanctions might have driven Saddam out by now.

The Lib Dems will be asking us to believe in the tooth fairy next.

Later, facing a tough audience of primary school children, Kennedy did concede the world was better without Saddam. But he also claimed the war was "a terrible error".

Once again, the Lib Dems manage to face two ways at once.
[...]

President Talabani thanks PM Blair

Dear Mr Blair

I CANNOT begin to explain my emotions, after over five decades of personally fighting for and promoting democracy and human rights, to witness a nation take its first steps towards a dream.

Now the democratically-elected parliament has honoured me, a Kurd, with the post of Presidency. This is a symbol of the promise, integration and unity of the new Iraq.

Let nobody mislead you, the Iraq that we inherited in April 2003, following the British and American-led liberation, was a tragedy.

The Ba’athist criminals had starved the country of an infrastructure and the people of their freedom.

Apart from the Kurdish safe haven, Iraq was a playground for thugs and a prison for the innocent.

Saddam’s war against the Iraqi people was on-going; we have evidence which demonstrates that the regime was executing its challengers until the last days of its rule.

It was that war, lasting almost forty years, which was the true war of Iraq.

We have all heard of the genocide, gassing, ethnic cleansing, mass murder and the environmental vandalism of the territory of Iraq’s historic Marsh Arabs.

We understand that there is no turning the clock back. Instead, we press ahead with democratisation and justice.

Unfortunately, Saddam’s former henchmen and religious extremist associates have chosen to fight their losing battle, which in turn has made post-liberation Iraq less stable than we would have wished.

Yet true Iraqis have largely shunned the terrorists, and their cowardly acts are increasingly becoming limited and confined to certain areas.

Millions of brave Iraqis defy terrorism and reject dictatorship every day, without fuss, and certainly without attention from the television cameras.

We undertake to rebuild a shattered country scarred by decades of tyranny. With unwavering resolve we support plurality, egalitarianism, and the political process.

Building a democratic federal Iraq is a difficult, and slow, but rewarding process.

Those who doubt the swiftness of transition must keep in mind that a state such as Iraq is a cultural, ethnic and linguistic mosaic that was only ever held together by brute force, thus, political speed can kill.

Nevertheless, January saw Iraq’s first free and open general election, leading to the first democratically-elected government of our desolate history.

Yet our struggle for a better, emancipated Iraq is only due to the consistent and unwavering support of Prime Minister Blair, the British people, and the coalition of the willing.

For many Iraqis, the positive role that Britain has played is a welcome change.

From our colonial master, Britain has become our democratic guardian.

In 1991 I saw at first hand how Prime Minister John Major, fresh from the liberation of Kuwait, bravely led the way in implementing a safe-haven for Iraqi Kurdistan.

For 12 years, heroic RAF pilots, with the support of neighbouring Turkey, flew in Kurdish skies to prevent Saddam from completing the anti-Kurdish genocide that he had started in 1987.

We were finally able to start rebuilding the 4,500 villages destroyed by Saddam’s regime and to begin the process of nurturing civil society and democracy.

And now thanks to Prime Minister Blair’s courageous and principled decisions, we can recreate this throughout Iraq.

Of course the liberation of Iraq has been controversial, as all wars should be.

Sadly in this case, war was not the “best” option, it was the only option.

Under Saddam, war was never controversial, never discussed, simply ordered and executed by him and his thugs.

Iraqis sometimes wonder in amazement what the debate abroad is about. Why do people continue to ask why no WMD was found?

The truth is that Saddam had, in the past, used chemical and biological weapons against his own people, and we believed he would do so again.

Of course Saddam himself was, in the view of those who opposed him, Iraq’s most dangerous WMD.

Instead of continually focusing on the negative, the British, who will soon commemorate the 60th anniversary of VE day, should know that in the eyes of the majority of Iraqis, it was you who brought us our own victory day.

Britain should be proud that the liberation of Iraq has in our eyes been one of your finest hours.

History will judge Prime Minister Blair as a champion against tyranny. Of that I have no doubt.

We are not reticent about expressing our great thanks to the British people and paying homage to tragic British losses.

Every Iraqi family, in fact, has lost a loved one because of Saddam. Every Iraqi understands the pain of conflict, the grief that accompanies war.

We honour those who sacrificed their lives for our liberation. We are determined out of respect to create a tolerant and democratic Iraq, an Iraq for all the Iraqi people.

It will take time and much patience, but I can assure you it will be worth while, not only for Iraq, but for the whole of the Middle East.

yours sincerely
President Talabani


Link to story [Hat Tip: Austin Bay]

Dear British Voter

Please accept my sincere and enormous gratitude for helping liberate Iraq and for what you have given me in the last seven years. I have learned a lot by being part of your society, you offered me a home more secure than my own, you showed great tolerance toward foreigners like myself and accepted me as a human, and last but not least you have opened my eyes to a world were good prevails, where freedom and democracy are truly cherished, where I don’t have to be afraid anymore.

I am writing to you because yesterday the issue of the Iraq war has become the highlight of the election agenda; and therefore, I ask you to be as courageous as your honourable leader Tony Blair who decided that he will not bow to the tyrant Saddam Hussein and made history by helping liberate the Iraqi people from their oppressor.

You should be proud of your countrymen and women who have liberated the Iraqis from one of the most brutal dictators. You should be proud of your countrymen and women who are helping a nation to rebuild itself in a democratic fashion after being oppressed for 35 years. You should be proud of your countrymen and women who have helped opening the eyes that were closed by oppressive regimes in the Middle East.

I ask you not to vote against Tony Blair, like some parties would like you to do, because of the Iraq war. I ask you not to accept the argument that Iraq was better before the war, to which I relied earlier. And I ask you not to accept peace with oppressors, as this peace will only lead to more bloodshed of the oppressed people.

To the Muslim community of Britain; I ask you not to stand against those who liberated Muslims from oppression. I ask you to be happy for you brothers and sisters in Iraq who are free and trying to rebuild their country democratically. I ask you to wish for them that their dreams come true, and to wish for them to have the freedom and democracy you enjoy today in Britain. And I ask you not to vote against Tony Blair because of the Iraq war and because he was courageous and decent enough to decide to liberate Iraq from Saddam’s tyranny.

Sometimes true peace can only be achieved though war; therefore, I ask you not to forget what Hitler once did, and not to forget the bravery of your people who ousted him. And I assure you that Saddam was not better than Hitler, and what he did to the Iraqi people was not less than what Hitler did to the Jewish people. Without the brave actions of your people, Iraqis would have been living in Saddam’s Iraq today and would have ended up living in Qusay’s Iraq years from now.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

How could life be better when...

Many people, including the Mail on Sunday and Peter Hitchens, claim that Iraq was better off under Saddam, that the war has brought poverty, destruction and death, that the elections were meaningless and fraudulent, and the funniest of all is that a new Saddam regime is being created.

While there are problems in Iraq today, most of these problems existed before the war too; the only difference is that it rarely got reported, no one dared to talk about it and it was much worse than it is now.

There are security problems in Iraq, created by many including those who made Iraq look secure and stable in the eyes of the world during Saddam’s rule; but were Iraqis really secure back then? If you think that when the security servicemen come to your house and wipe out your family is security, then Iraqis were secure! If you think that when the government terrorize people is security, then Iraqis were secure!

These people use shallow argument to attack policies and people they disagree with, to make political gains, and or to show their opposition. They are living in denial and will continue to do so because they can not accept change, even if that change is right. They choose to ignore facts and only see what the leftists mainstream media show. They choose to ignore the horrors that the Iraqis used to live by everyday under Saddam’s rule.

How could someone claim that life for Iraqis was better under Saddam, when Saddam killed so many Iraqis in cold blood and terrorized the rest?

How could it be better when a village like Halabja could get exterminated so easily? How could it be better when hundred of thousands could get buried in mass graves? How could it be better when you and your family could vanish from the face of the earth for criticizing Saddam or his family? How could it be better when you could be executed for laughing on a joke about Saddam? How could it be better when your daughter or sister could get raped by Uday because he felt like it and you can do nothing about it? How could it be better when you could get killed in front of your family for not giving way in the road to Saddam’s 20 years old nephew?

How could life be better when 1/2 a million child have to die because of Saddam’s pride and stupidity?

How could it be better when extravagant palaces and mosques get built while people starving? How could it be better when all these palaces serve three meals a day in case Saddam shows up, but had to throw it all away if he didn’t and not even the servants are allowed to eat that food? How could it be better then when you make $3 dollars a month after over 16 years of education? How could it be better when your life, your country and its wealth is owned by one family?

How could life be better when god (Saddam) is so brutal and unjust?

How could it be better when elections and referendums are won by 99.99%? How could it be better when a Baathist is looking over your shoulder to check that you ticked yes to Saddam? How could it be better when you can not elect the government you support? How could it be better when you are forced to demonstrate your love and loyalty to Saddam? How could it be better when you know all the above but can not complain about it or change it?

How could life be better when you have no hope?

Living hopelessly is much more destructive than any problem you see in Iraq today, and Iraqis were hopeless before the war. If you don’t see the possibility of a bright future for Iraq, if you have no hope today, then you must be either blind, short sighted or living in denial.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Are you sane?

Well, am glad that I am sane; but are you?
If you want to know, Nadz's has the answer!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Iyad Allawi escapes bombing

Iraqi PM Iyad Allawi escapes an assassination attempt when a suicide bomber blew up a car near his convoy at a checkpoint.

Allawi was not hurt but several guards and policemen were killed. The attack took place on the main road leading to his party headquarters in Baghdad.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Dead Innocents

I am sure all of you heard about Al Madaen situation where there were hostages that the security forces didn't find and the Sunni clerics said it was fabricated. Well, now they found them, dead, dumped in the river! Meanwhile, 19 men have been found dead in a football stadium in Haditha, north-west Baghdad.

It is possible that the lowlife culprits of Al Madaen tragedy didn't want to face the security forces that were going to get them; therefore, some Sunni collaborators clerics from the Terrorist Muslim Clerics Council were the first to declare that there were no hostages, even before the security forces entered the town, to buy the terrorists time. Meanwhile, the terrorists were killing and dumping the innocent hostages in the river, so that when the security forces arrive they wouldn't find any crime!

Update: LadyBird posted the latest pictures from Al Madaen.

Terror TV

I just found this site, Friends of Al Jazeera! [Hat Tip: Jeff Jarvis]

Anyway, they have a poll "what best describes Al Jazeera", and one of the options is Terror TV! Well, What can I say, for me that sounds like the right name.

Google Maps go UK

Google Maps now has a UK beta version! They also signed a deal with Yell, the UK Online Yellow Pages, to create Google Local UK!

I've said goodbye to streetmap long time ago, but it looks like am going to say goodbye to multimap too!

Saturday, April 16, 2005

A Grateful Nation

If you are an Iraqi and grateful to the US, then don't hesitate to sign A Grateful Nation Petition to show your appreciation to those who have set us free from tyranny.

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Future is in Our Hands

It is easy for someone to criticize and blame others, it feels as if one has the right to do so; but it takes a lot of courage and intelligence to analyse a situation, find a solution, act upon it and accept the risk involved. One must take other’s criticism into consideration and take his/her fair share of the blame, before start pointing fingers on others.

Personally, I have no objection on people criticizing me or others as long as that criticism is first constructive and second objective or at least subjective.

Many Iraqis and non-Iraqis have blamed and criticized the Americans for problems in Iraq, but I wonder how many of those have blamed themselves for anything or accepted criticism. In fact, I believe they didn’t even analyse the situation thoroughly and, most importantly, fairly, they are just too eager to point their fingers whenever there is a problem.

Pretending that there was no problem to start with, is NOT the solution!

Americans are doing their best, yet so many people are doing nothing other than moaning, blaming and criticizing.

After the Americans came to Iraq they didn’t just apply their own policy, and if you think that they did then you are mistaken. They asked for advice from prominent Iraqi oppositions and prominent Iraqi intellectuals. They asked for advice from those who were available to offer advice and who were known not to be associated with the previous regime.

Therefore, before blaming the Americans for problems, e.g. disbanding the army, questions must be asked: “Was there a better realistic way to deal with that situation?”, “Is it fair to blame the Americans or should we blame ourselves or one of our people?”, “Did the Americans seek advice from Iraqis before they have decided on the issue?” And the answer to the last question is almost always YES; therefore, one can’t blame the Americans for acting upon the advice of Iraqis, whether those Iraqis were the right people to seek advice from or not.

The notion that Americans brought these Iraqis and should be blamed for their choices makes no sense to me, since they are Iraqis, they were born Iraqis and they were the only obvious people who were not associated with the previous regime and offered help and advice. One shouldn’t expect the Americans to come to Iraq and then start asking people for help and advice, not knowing who to ask.

I must admit that not all the Iraqis that stood by the Americans and gave their advice were the best people to offer advice, and the Americans learned this too, the hard way, but those were Iraqis who were ready to help and offer advice, and for that I give them credit.

I have to say that I strongly believe that the future of Iraq now depends more on the Iraqis than on the Americans. The Americans can only do so much, and they have already done a lot to help Iraqis stand on their feet. Without the Iraqis, without their help, advice and support, the Americans will not be able to finish the job at hand successfully.

So, if you think that you have the right to ask the Americans to do everything and then blame them when problems occur, think again. No one has such a right.

It’s up to the Iraqis now to make this work, without them (the Iraqis) it will not work.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Americans give back what Saddam took away

Apart from giving us back our country, freedom and hope, a number of small Iraqi businessmen are getting a prosthetic hands to replace the hands the Saddam ordered to be amputated.

I remember this when I was in Iraq, it happened in mid-1990s. Saddam's secret service and Mukhabarat captured several small businessmen, from various districts around Baghdad, who where speculating with foreign currency.

One of the biggest raids was in Al Kindi district where many small-time foreign currency operators conduct business. I have been there many times to buy or sell US$ for personal use. A friend of mine was there at the time of the raid and had to hide in a pharmacy until the raid was over. He was lucky not to be captured; but what he saw was terrifying, people were being beaten up with sticks and taken away!

Read this amazing story of some of the victims of that operation. Also read this story about a baby who had Surgery in the US for heart defects and is heading back home to Afghanistan.

Who said the Americans don't care?
Who said the Americans are the bad guys?

[Hat Tip: DagneyT]

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

In Iraqis We Trust

Minster Ghost of Iraqi Bloggers Central posts excerpts from President Talabani's words of wisdom.
[...]
The choice of peace or war lies not with the Iraqis who ignored terrorism and intimidation to vote in their millions, the Iraqis to whom I am accountable. No, that decision lies with the terrorist minority that despises freedom and spurns every offered opportunity to enter the political process. The attacks on election officials, the suicide bombings of voters, and the cowardly attacks on brave Iraqis waiting in line to join our fledgling security forces are not the tactics of "resistance" or "freedom fighters" but of murderers and criminals. Nor are the terrorists by any stretch of the imagination the repressed or the disadvantaged. They chose violence despite consistent exhortations to contribute to the new Iraq. They are, for the most part, representatives of the old regime, Baathists who gorged themselves on their compatriots' riches. They are not the dispossessed of the earth but those who have been deprived of their palaces.
[...]

Freedom, Hope and Optimism

There are problems in Iraq, no one can deny that, and the road ahead is long and difficult, but Iraq today is full of hope and optimism, Iraqis are free and no longer afraid, they are marching toward a bright and democratic future and no terrorist will be able to stop them.

Here are some excerpts of what ordinary Iraqis said to the BBC:
Saad, 32, Basra, Sound Engineer
Let me describe our situation before the fall of the previous regime. We were like a sick, weak prisoner under the thumb of a cruel jailer.

Then, suddenly and without warning, the gates of our prison were flung open. We were told: "Come on, you are free!"

[...] Then the moment of salvation came. Perhaps I shouldn't use the phrase "moment of salvation", for to do so implies we were expecting such a moment when in truth we were feeling hopeless.

Noura, 32, Baghdad, Computer Engineer

Iraqis should remember the law now is not as it was under Saddam.

They should remember we have a golden chance of freedom, a wish shared by many other suppressed nations.

Nada, 32, Mosu, Government Worker

We never imagined that the Turkmen community would have a political party representing them in Iraq, but this is happening now. We have our own flag, too, in addition to the Iraqi flag.

This was impossible during Saddam's era. Had we dared to do any of these things then we would have ended up buried in a mass grave.

Kaban, 31, Baghdad, Electrical Engineer

There have been many changes since the fall of Saddam's regime, but the most important change was that we feel free.

Many Iraqis had lived in fear of the regime for years, therefore the first step along the way to democracy and freedom was getting rid of that fear.

This freedom led to breaking the isolation which had engulfed us Iraqis - especially the Iraqi intellectuals - during the Saddam era.

The only thing that worries us is the security situation. However, those who say that security was better in the past are completely wrong.

It is true we did not have suicide car bombings in Saddam's era, but our homes did not feel safe from the intrusion of Saddam's security men, who came in the middle of the night to kidnap, kill or rape.

Walaa, 25, Baghdad, School Teacher

From what I have seen, I can say that the Sunnis in Iraq do not live in isolation from the political and social circles of life, as many people outside Iraq seem to believe.

Nothing has affected our relationships with each other - we face the same problems. This applies to Sunnis or Shia, Christians or Muslims, Arabs or Kurds.

Unfortunately, the refusal by some Sunnis to participate in the elections was the cause of some political isolation.

Imad Mohammed, 25, Baghdad, University Graduate

After the regime change in Iraq, I expected radical changes in Iraqi society. I hoped things would improve.

This is true in some cases. For example, as an Iraqi, I am no longer afraid that the secret security service will arrest me.

I am no longer afraid that I could be tortured, jailed, or killed simply because some officials do not like me.

I am no longer worried about losing my dignity or my life. And I am also getting a higher income, like most Iraqis.

I have bought a new car - which was a dream for me - and all commodities are available in the markets now, in contrast to Saddam's time.

Iraqi want to live in peace after long years of wars. They just want normal lives without violence and sectarianism.

I hope that one day Iraqis will overcome all the difficulties they face. I hope they build a new country for this generation and the coming ones.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Saddamites

After my last post about the anti-American Iraqi, I thought its worth writing more stories. I have hinted before how Iraqi Expats think, I said:

"As for how people think, well as you can imagine or maybe not, you can find all sorts of people (exile Iraqis). You can find those who supprots Iran Style, those who supprot the Baath, those who support Saddam! And you can even find people that support a Wahhabi style Iraq! You might find it hard to belive, but it is true; and the question that always comes to my mind when I see such people is: Why are you here? Why did you leave Iraq? Why are you not in Iran? And so many other questions.

I must say that it is disturbing to see such people, especially those who still support Saddam; but the majority believe one way or another in freedom and democracy, even though each express their views in a different way."


A Saddamite:

There is this women who lives in London; I barely know her, but I know the people she hangs out with pretty well. Iraqis always had some doubts that she might be a Saddamite Agent, but that didn't stop her from being part of the Iraqi community.

She first hit the news when Uday and Qusay died. She wore black to mourn their death! Can you believe an Iraqi woman mourning the death of the murderers and rapists Uday and Qusay? Well, she did. Then she hit the news again when Saddam was captured. While we celebrated his capture, she cried.

So, after the war and after these events people distant themselves from her. To have a different view is fine, but crying for Saddam and mourning the death of his two evil sons is completely different, upsetting and disturbing.

Later she surface back, claiming that she couldn't celebrate someone's misery, and she can't feel happy for someone's suffering! So she couldn't be happy when people get justice? When the murderer is captured! When the rapist die! Right! As if we believe that!

So, she was treated with cautious, and was already being labelled a Saddamite like few others who had similar views. But my jaw dropped when I heard that she is working for the Out of Country Vote polling centre, and I saw her there when I went to register; but the first question I asked when I heard was: What about Saddam and her position on these issues? And the Answer I got was brilliant: They pay £60 cash in hand per day!

This woman, and the other Saddamites who have varying degrees of support to Saddam, don't dare to defend or praise Saddam. However, they sometimes use lines that shows clearly where they stand and when it happens everybody becomes angry and they start wrangling. Some of these lines are -- all of which begin with I hate Saddam or I don't like Saddam -- when Saddam was captured we lost our pride! Or Saddam could not have been captured in the rat's hole, he is too courageous or too elegant or too proud to be found there! Or when Saddam was in power we had no problems! And there are so many versions of this last one that sometimes it makes you laugh!

The problem is that some people, especially anti-Americans and or anti-Bush, might actually believe them. I don't know whether they believe them out of stupidity or only to prove their case, but either way its just plain stupid.

A Kurdish Saddamite:

This might come as a shock to some people! Some Kurds have worked with Saddam and or his thugs; but this guy is different, he is a hopeless case!

I met him in a house party and as usual we ended up talking politics! He is from a very well known Kurdish family, few members of which have worked with Saddam and his thugs. While debating, he announced that he loves Saddam. For me that was a major hurdle and I can't ignore it, so for us continue debating I have to know where he stands. So here is where he stands: He love Saddam. Saddam is handsome, courageous and shrewd. Saddam is our pride. At that point I was ready to explode, but I tried to contain myself and I asked him what about the Shias that he slaughtered, the Kurds that he buried alive, the 100s of thousands killed, the chemical weapons, killing anyone who speak or do anything against him, what about all this? And his answer was: What do expect him to do? He had to defend himself. Those dead deserve what they got. If I were in his position, I would have done the same.

Now imagine someone saying this to you. I was boiling and he was smiling which made me even more angry, but I realised that he just stupid and I shouldn't bother with someone like him, because it will only make me angry and he will never understand. It is astonishing that he can justify what Saddam did to the Iraqis, and its even more astonishing for a Kurd to be able to justify it. I was shocked and appalled and I couldn't believe it. That was the first time I ever meet a person who priased Saddam like that, but apparently there are people like that and I don't know what to call them.

What puzzles me is that if they like Saddam so much, and apparently he was good to them, why did they leave?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A comment

Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine posted a comment I wrote, about an anti-American Iraqi, on his site.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Fall of Saddam

I woke up as usual to go to work, I made myself a coffee, head to the shower, back in my room I turned on the TV to watch Sky News while I dress. The Americans were in Baghdad, as they have been the day before. I left to work.

I was on my desk working when I checked BBC News site and the Americans were in the Firdous Square. There were in the same place were Saeed Al Sahaf spoke yesterday and gave one of his infamous speeches and said that the Americans were no where near Baghdad. As I read that the Americans are there, I clicked on the Live TV feed of BBC News. I forgot about my work, I forgot where I was, I even forgot that I smoke.

My hands were shaking, my heart was palpitating, my eyes were glued to my monitor at my desk and I forgot about my work.

My eyes filled with tears of joy as I watched Saddam statue being toppled. The dictator was finally toppled. Is this really happening or am I dreaming? My hands were still shaking, my eyes tearing and my hear was still palpitating. I couldn’t work that day.

Happy is an understatement, I was more than happy, I was the happiest man on earth. I forgot about all my problems, I forgot that I smoke, I even forgot that I had a family while watching my fellow countryman in euphoria spitting on Saddam and hitting him with their shoes and slippers.

I didn’t want this moment of joy to end. My only wish was that I can be there with my fellow countrymen, celebrating this joyous moment with them, hitting Saddam’s head with the slipper and spitting on him. That was my only wish. I was feeling them, it was like they were my family. It was so strange, that no words can describe it.

That was the happiest moment of my life, two years ago when Saddam fell. Finally, what seamed impossible just happened before my eyes, and thank God that I was alive to see it.

I didn’t want to go back home, I didn’t want to drive and miss a minute of this most amazing and beautiful reality TV, but I had to. I went home and saw my family in jubilation and I saw the man hitting Saddam’s picture with his slipper, while asking him why he did this to the country, why he ruined the country, and so many other questions that remain unanswered.

That was the day that I will never forget, the day when Saddam was toppled, the day when Saddam fell. It was not the fall of Baghdad, Baghdad never fell, Baghdad was liberated; it was the birth of hope and the fall of the dictator, the fall of devil, the fall of the butcher of Iraq, the fall of god's most merciless creatures, the fall of Saddam.

Thank you for making this happen and giving us hope and thank God that I was alive to see it.

To all mankind, Happy Anniversary.

Forgive Me My Lady

Friday, April 08, 2005

Shariah TV on Channel 4

I was flipping through the channels last night while having my last fag (by that I mean a cigarette) before I sleep when I found this interesting programme on Channel 4, "Shariah TV". I have watched an episode of its first series sometime ago and thought it was interesting, so I decided to watch this one.

The programme has a panel of three and a group of intellectual Muslims. Now this programme isn’t targeting non-Muslim Brits, simply because it doesn’t tackle Islam from the point of view of a non-Muslim, it doesn’t offer explanations, it doesn’t solve perception problems and it doesn’t explains how to deal with it. It is basically tackling problems Muslim Brits encountering in their daily life while living in a Western society.

That fact that this programme hosts young intellectuals lived most of their lives in Britain is interesting. What is even more interesting is the panel. In the panel yesterday, was an Imam from Manchester, I will call him R because I can’t remember his name, another Imam from the Muslim Council of Britain, I will call him M and Dr Mona Siddiqui, Head of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Glasgow. Most women include Dr Siddiqui did not wear Hijab, and all participants were practicing Muslims who believe in Islam. Therefore, they were concerned about certain issues and they requested answers from the panel.

The reaction and answers from the panel was rather amusing. Imam R was rather radical in his answer, whereas Imam M was moderate and Dr Siddiqui was rational. What happens is that the moderate Imam M would side more with Dr Siddiqui than with Imam R, which was very interesting, you see him changes his moderate answer to be even more logical after Dr Siddiqui gives her view. So, the inquirer often accepts the moderate and logical answer.

One of the questions was, should believing Muslims (non-Muslim can do what they like here) question, criticize and or critique Islam or the Prophet. Imam R said that you shouldn’t, as a Muslim and a believer you should accept it without questions, i.e. blindly and without using your brains. Whereas, Dr Siddiqui made a distinction between criticize and critique; as a Muslim you can critique Islam to get a better understanding and explanations. Another example, a journalist asked if he can work on a programme that deals with pornography or alcohol. As you would expect, Imam R said, NO; Muslims should never work with such programmes because they are Haram; whereas Imam M would answer him by saying that if this is to expose problems in the society, then of course we need that work done and you should do it, but not if you are producing a porno film; which is fair I think.

Another interesting point made was about Salman Rushdie the author of The Satanic Verses (anti-Islam, anti-Prophet novel). The point was, why none of the Mullahs cared to answer Rushdie, yet they didn’t hesitate to issue fatwas decreeing his death. This goes back to the "criticize and critique" issue; the Mullahs should have responded not by a fatwa, but by a logical answer to show a different explanation. I think they got used to people (Muslims) following them blindly so much, that they expect others to do the same.

What is interesting is that having such a programme would force radicals to become less radical and more rational because in a programme like that they lose the debate and people will follow the logical answer not the close your eyes and follow me answer. This is the kind of programmes that we need in the Middle East, to make people think before accepting what the Imam says, and at the same time it make the Imam think before saying things. These people were caring believing Muslims, yet they did not accept what Imam R told them.

I believe we need programmes like these in the Middle East, where Imams like Imam M and intellects like Dr Siddiqui would interact with an intellectual audience to reach a logical conclusion that enlighten people and reform Islam. Instead what we have in the Middle East is Al Jazeera with either a male presenter or a female presenter with Hijab (even if she doesn’t normally wear one) making a programme where Al Qaradawi gives his views unchallenged, as if he is the law! Why not make it intellectual and bring also people like Dr Siddiqui for example to give a different view, to give rational answers, and an audience to ask questions. We need such programmes to tackle Muslims daily issues in the Middle East in an intellectual approach, not the follow me blindly approach.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Al Jaafari Named as Prime Minister

Iraqi Shia leader Ibrahim Al Jaafari has been named Iraq's Prime Minister.

He was appointed shortly after Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani was sworn in as Iraq's President.

This was widely expected so there is no point in getting worked up about it; but it is still good news and we are finally getting the government we've vote for and we've been waiting for.

For the last 50 years, this is Iraq's first elected government, first Kurdish President, first non-Arab President of an Arab majority country, first elected Shia Prime Minister, first President to become Vice President, and certainly it is the first government that will be criticized by and accountable to the people (the voters) and their representatives (the MPs).

I know some people have criticized the National Assembly sessions as being choatic; but I loved it, members are criticizing the government, asking questions, debating, etc. What is not to love? It's called democracy and they are learning it, like we are. I don't want to see any council were everybody agrees on what the leader says, what's the point of such useless council of parrots?

I am not worried - and you shouldn't be - that Al Jaafari might turn Iraq into Iran, since he only has executive powers but no legislative powers; also his cabinet will have many seculars, Kurds and other minorities. I personally believe that Al Jaafari is a rational, moderate and tolerant Shia, even though he represents Al Da'awa Party which is a religious party. He is a well respected soft-spoken diplomat who might lack the charisma and the strength required for this period! But I might be proved wrong on this one.

I wish him and his cabinet the best of luck.

Is Syria Changing?

ASharq Al-Awsat is reported that Syria's ruling party, the Baath Party, is planning to amend its charter, ditch the socialist tenets, and perhaps even change its name. The article, The Syrian Baath Plans to Dissolve its National Leadership and Bring Down its Socialist Motto!
Informed Syrian sources have said that the national conference of the Arab Socialist Baath Party, which will be held most likely the seventh or the eighth of the coming month, with make a decision to dissolve the party's national leadership. The engineer Ayman Abd al-Nur told Al-Sharq al-Awsat that it is expected that the first conference in a quarter of a century will decide to transfer the national leadership of the Baath Party to a National Council which will be headed by a Supreme Administrative Office.

Abd al-Nur added that it was not known yet whether or not President Bashar Assad would head this upper organization or if he would appoint one of the party leaders to head it, except that he did signal that the largest part of the process of change to the constitution of the Baath Party and its implementing law and basic ideology had already been performed, and this meant the substitution of the phrase "social justice" for the term "socialism" and the phrase "democracy" for "freedom." And following on what had been rumoured as to the existence of ideas calling for changing the name of the party to become the "Democratic Party" [hizb al-demaqratiya, I'm not making this up] instead of the Arab Socialist Baath," Abd al-Nur emphasized that this matter was set for discussion for the conference.
If this change is for real rather than just trying to show change but not really change, then I have to say that Bashar Al Assad outwitted Saddam and it is one of the most important changes in the region's political dynamics. However, if it is just a show, then it will be clear very soon and it will prove that there is no - and there will never be - a smart Baath leadership!

Does this means that there will be less state control, more political opposition and multiple political parties? Democracy and Capitalism? Okay, its probably not so rosy; but still, even little change in the right direction means a great start that will open many eyes and allow people to exercise some sort of democracy. Opposition groups will have to work hard to get the ball moving!

Removing the word Arab from the name of the party will not stop them from using the pan-Arabism rhetorics; but it is significant as it doesn't indicate that maybe they are becoming more realistic and that they are ditching the failed and dying Nazi Arab Nationalism ideology. Just a hopeful maybe!

Democratic Party instead of the Arab Socialist Baath Party? Is this for real? Way to go, let democracy reign.

Hat tip: Publius Pundit, Kirk H Sowell

UPDATE:
This might be true, because Amirji reported a change few days ago, or a crazy thing as he put it:
One of the things that we, that is, my self-styled self-imposed Patron and I, talked about during that fateful two hour meeting was the possibility of – drum roll please – holding multi-candidate presidential elections coupled with free parliamentary elections where the Baath Party will compete on the same constitutional footing as any other party.

Had this person, let’s call him here General Dashing for simplicity’s sake, been any other state official, I wouldn’t have given his statements a second thought, and would have easily dismissed him as just another word-peddler, just like me sometimes, if I may wax self-critical.

Being who he is, though, made me take what he said in this regard very seriously. These “people” seem to have finally realized how deep their crisis happens to be, how existential it really is, and this, it seems, has compelled them to finally accept the intimate link between the way out and the necessity of undertaking radical internal political reforms, something they would never have contemplated, I know, just a few short months ago.

Now this must be good, isn’t it? I mean what more can we ask for?
Read the rest here. Amirji's ideas will be passed to the president himself! Yes, Al Assad!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Best Feature Photography

A must see, beautiful and heartfelt photo essay by 2005 Pulitizer Prize winner Deanne Fitzmaurice for Feature Phgotography on an Oakland hospital’s effort to mend an Iraqi boy nearly killed by an explosion.
(Hat Tip: CaliValleyGirl)

Iraqi President Named

Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani has been named the new President of Iraq and outgoing President Ghazi Al Yawer, a Sunni Arab, and current Finance Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, a Shia, are his deputies.

BBC Profile: Jalal Talabani

Thanking parliament, Mr Talabani said it was a step towards a free, democratic Iraq after long years of dictatorship.

"We are happy that the first elected president of Iraq is coming from a community that has been persecuted for years," Shia MP Hussein Shahrastani said.

It is great that the Iraqi President is a Kurd, it demonstrate a truly plural democracy. The next step is for the presidential council to nominate a new prime minister, most probably Ibrahim Al Jaafari, who will form a new government that will require the approval of the National Assembly.

Kurdish MP and outgoing foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari said a new cabinet headed by Mr Jaafari will be approved within a few days.

Iraqi officials said Saddam Hussein and 11 members of his former regime watched the proceedings on television in jail.

"I decided that Saddam and the 11 others will watch it on the television," Iraqi Human Rights minister Bakhtiar Amin told AFP before the session.

"There will be a place in jail for Saddam and the 11 to watch the TV to understand their time is finished, there is a new Iraq and that they are no longer ruling the country; so they can understand that in the new Iraq, people are elected and they are not coming to power by a coup d'etat."

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Iraq's Parliament Speaker Hajim Al-Hassani

Voted to become the new National Assembly Speaker, a job reserved for a Sunni Arab, by 215 out of 241 deputies.

He was born in Kirkuk in 1954 and graduated from Mosul university. He then moved to the United States in 1979 and spent most of his working life there.

He has degrees in agriculture and economics from the universities of Nebraska and Connecticut. Later he spent 12 years working in Los Angeles, where he became head of an investment and trading company.

He returned to Iraq after the fall of Saddam in 2003 and emerged as a leader of the Sunni-dominated Iraqi Islamic Party. He helped negotiate a cease-fire between U.S. forces and insurgents in Fallujah in April 2004 and later he backed the US-led assault on Fallujah late in 2004.

"I am a firm believer in the democratic process, in the democratic system," he said. "For the last two years, people like me have been pushing Iraqis to work in the middle of the political process."

In June, he was appointed as a minister in the interim government and in January's elections he broke with his party, which boycotted the vote, to win a seat in the National Assembly.

"The Kurd has put his hand in the Arab's hand and the Shia has taken the Sunni's hand so they could all walk side-by-side along with their Christian and Turkmen brothers," he said in his acceptance speech.

Hussain Al-Shahristani, a Shia Muslim former nuclear scientist, and Aref Taifour, a Kurd, became deputy speakers by winning 157 and 96 votes, respectively.

Fore more visit: USA Today | BBC News