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Saturday, September 20, 2003

anyone have seen my friend salam....would you tell him that G is still in Baghdad, its been 3 weeks since he left and he hasn't even sent me an email.

Monday, August 04, 2003

The Americans decided to appoint the first woman judge in Najaf. Halleluiah halleluiah. equal rights, civil society, freedom and democracy.
Women of the world be united
No fuckin’ patriarchal society telling the women to be veiled, to lie down, to get raped any more.
A woman judge that would know how deal with women and child cases.

Well maybe in another universe:
“This is impossible, it is haram. Women are inferior to men, they are emotional, there religion and there mind is not ideal” said the women lawyers in the Najaf court house, quoting the prophet (peace be upon his name) -who allegedly has said that 1500 years ago.
After fatwas (edicts) from every single religious cleric in Najaf, stating it’s haram for women to be appointed as judge-for reasons mentioned above. We went to the court house, there we saw some 20 women lawyers staring from their chamber looking at the men lawyers demonstrating outside the senior judge room – the place where the swearing in of the new judge would take place- I said allahu akbar the first woman anti-discrimination demonstration in Iraq.

Another disappointment in the land of frustrations

-She can’t be a judge, Allah says no
-But.
-No.
-Why?
-Women can’t rule over men. “You have to make your position clear you have to come and join us” said a one of the men-lawyers to the women.
So they went marching after their masters yet again…… as they did every day for past 15 centuries.

“I thought we were here to build a secular country not religious one” Said specialist Roe
US marines /Woman attorney from somewhere in infidel west.



Saturday, August 02, 2003

Hidden behind hundreds of meters of barbed wire coils, under the black skies of the electricity free city, lies the compounds of the Iraq Forum previously known as the Convention Palace, next to it - part of the same compound-you have al-Rashid hotel the most prestigious of Baghdad’s hotels and the official residence of all the foreign guests and media during the old days. but one has to confess, it had an amazing catering service all the waiters and the staff were chosen from among the highest security apparatuses in Iraq, the best of the mukhabarat, the national security and special security apparatus people were working there as everything from laundry to management. most of the Iraqi new weds would prefer spending there first night in a public zoo than one of the rooms in the Rashid - its better to have couple of drunks and a hippopotamus watching you than to half of the security apparatuses analyzing the vocal patterns and suspicious and weird sounds you’re emitting during your first fuck.
So with such high quality services, people had to accept some inconveniences; like don’t point, don’t look, don’t ask, don’t don’t don’t don’t.
and this was also the place where you could enjoy the good company of the sons of the vice president or the sons of the minister of defense, or you could even enjoy the wonderful sight of late Mr. Uday and Mr. Qussay.
Anyhow all these are just memories everything is over now, things are changing everywhere in Iraq statues falling and others being build, murals washed and others painted, military caps are falling and turbans being wrapped. Things are changing, instead of the [Conventions Palace] we have the [Iraq Forum], and instead of the [Presidential Palace] we have the [CPA offices].

But we still have al-Rashid
Glamorous, Immaculate, Evil.
There it is, still standing with smiles on every window as if it is the center of universe; all the buildings around this hotel are war zone gutted structures. Tanks, barbed wires, concrete blocks, army helmets, m16s assault rifles, beggars, people queuing in long lines to get jobs…………… and a swimming pool.
What?
Yes a swimming pool, bars, night club, drinks, nice Americans in sleeveless shirts. The same Americans who millions of my compatriots look at as the last hope for a better life and future. Walking in the hallways and corridors which are guarded by dirty tired looking American soldiers, they even have UDAY’s, a real 80s night club with big mirror disco ball that one day used to send its shining reflection on the bellies of udays girlfriends, today the disco ball shines on the bellies of electricity, sewage and humanitarian assistance officials
God I m a real sick person shouldn’t they have a glimpse of good life, what’s wrong with beer and eminem at night and ayatollahs, hunger no electricity and RPGs in the morning.


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So we have a government at last…. and what a government a twenty five heads amebic Governing Council
“Habibi we are like a drowned man, we will grab the first piece of shit flouting on the water” Ali Muhssin, 35, taxi driver “ I m not a very sophisticated man you know, I m a very poor man but I can understand very well that an Iraqi GOVERMENT will solve lots of issues. By the way habibi how come we still have power cuts? I thought the day we have a PRESIDENT everything will go back to normal!!
That’s another issue for the Iraqis after almost half a century of the rule of
“the Leader the necessity“ Iraqis are so confused, what is a governing council ?
Is it a government?
No.
A parliament?
No.
A cabinet of ministers?
No.
Is it a 25 heads president?
Well hmmm it could be but no. so what the fuck is it !!! My son asked me yesterday is it true daddy that now instead of one picture of Saddam in my class ill have the whole set of 25 pictures?
Imagine the chaos 25 big mural in every street corner with 25 set of statues in the main plazas. God help ambassador Bremer, even Jesus had to deal with only 12.
If I could summarize the Iraqi reaction in a very mechanical unpoetic way it is:
-Oh they don’t represent us they are foreigners
-I don’t believe they could achieve any thing the Americans will always have the final say
-Hey when will they fix the electricity and you know I don’t mind voting for a shiat-and or a sunny depends on your settings, shiat mode or a sunny mode- as long as he will help my people.

Again provide jobs, electricity, security and Iraqis will vote to elect you president for life
That’s not true you know
Now there is something else. Of coarse not as important as electricity but as good as most of the Iraqis will tell you, It’s the “mukhabarat free society”, no more security thugs with ugly faces demanding to see your ID, your history and your mothers love letters- well of coarse apart from those hanging around the head quarters of Chalabis, Allawies and the king to be

God I swear INC/SCIRI/INA/ are different from the baathist thugs only in there names
You go to the headquarters of Chalabi and all you see is a bunch of kids and men armed to the teeth, pure thugs -Saddam thugs but in a different form. Why would I exchange one tyrant with another?
Unlike what al-Jazeera says I think Iraqis gained something form the Americans.
We got some amebic concept, some call it freedom others call it chaos,
I call it a fuzzy dream of democracy.




Saturday, June 28, 2003

I think we are already hot listed as the best distention this summer on the [Bin-Laden Tourism Board] . For those kids who missed Afghanistan and find Chechnya too far away, why not try Iraq?


In an American military hospital in the middle of the desert. Sweet lieutenant Sterling –she has a funny long first name- led us to the ward of the injured, where you could see American GIs, Iraqi “ali babas”, and Iraqi POWs being treated. The last two categories are referred to as “the enemy”.
There I met an 18 years old Syrian boy with good potentials for a real bin laden style beard, who has a right-leg bullet injury. He received the bullet when he was by “coincidence” on the Iraqi side of the Syrian - Iraqi border.
-“I saw the helicopter hovering over my head I tried to hide but the Kafir was fast”
It was the same day the[Americans raided the borders looking for Saddam].
He sounded so hopeful when he said he’ll be leaving in the few coming days, but when he was asked how did the Americans treat you, he said: “good, good…ummm good they are treating me very well, but….” – and here tears started rolling on his cheeks as he removed part of his blanket to show the leather straps tying his leg to the bed “they are treating me like a prisoner”.
I had to go but as I was about to leave he grabbed my hand and asked me if I was an Iraqi, I told him yes, he whispered to me: “god help you Iraqis you have been humiliated but inshaallh god will help you defend your self against the occupiers”. He was so somber when he was telling me these words.

A few minute later he called me

-are you a Muslim?
-No.
-Why is that?
-Well I think that is due to some technical reasons related to the fact that my mother and father mated when they were Christians.
-But how come you are not a Muslim? you are smart (!!!!) and you handle two languages easily you should be a Muslim!
-But I always considered my self a member of the Islamic culture.
*he acted a if he didn't hear my answer*
-my friend I m ready to talk to you whenever you want.

He was so nice and in the same time wounded in his pride, he was betrayed. Allah betrayed him he told him to go, cross the border and there he will find all the infidels he wants. He could go and kill as much as he could to purify the land of the Muslims from those filthy animals. Instead he is trapped in this fuckin’ hospital, being taken care of by cute Americans. He was under tremendous pressure; I felt his soul cracking under this pressure.


The last thing he said to me before I left was, could you ask them to bring me a Quraan and if they would let me call my “family”. Hmmm me thinks he wants to ask God ooops “the family” about new instructions.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

One two one two….. test test… one two, test
Perfect my rhetoric channel is working very well
Here in Iraq every citizen was provided -since the early days of the regime- with a whole set of lies that gradually became the foundation on which you would build your perceptions of the world outside.
Consequently you end up with two channels, a “channel reality” that is off the air most of the times and “channel rhetoric” a mixture of self-denial, conspiracy theory [apologia] and propaganda.
Of course we shouldn’t blame Saddam and his lies based tyrannical regime only, this phenomenon has its roots deep in our cultural/religious history.
Nowadays the main question every Iraqi is trying to answer, since the removal of our beloved leader is: (how should I feel towards the Americans?) and (is the American “liberation / occupation” a good or bad thing?).
Don’t expect an answer from me here, until we have our first Gallup poll in Iraq all what you will get is mere speculations-observations gibberish.
Obviously the answer to these questions depends on several factors, it depends on the person answering, whether he benefited from the regime or at least wasn’t abused by it, or whether half of his family perished in the cells and mass graves of the regime.
Whether-and I m sorry to say that- he or she is coming from the northwest Sunni strong holds of the regime or coming from the Shi’at south, and for sure the answers depends on who is asking these questions. If you are a journalist -especially a western one- I’ll switch immediately to rhetoric channel before answering you.
So how for god’s sake we will know the truth? All those Rambo like journalist who came here with their satellite phones, laptops and digital cameras, how will they be able to tell what the Iraqis really think?
Once during the days of the regime I met a very nice BBC correspondent -( it was my first and last exposure to a western journalist during the days of the regime, I spent one week after that half hour chat waiting for the mukhabarat guys to come and pick me )- she told me that Iraq was the most difficult country for a journalist to be in with all the minders, security service people and the ministry of information officials-who demonstrated last week demanding to return to their old jobs-now she is back in the country walking freely interviewing whomever she wants, but but but what she doesn’t know is that every one of us here in Iraq has this small plug in police officer back in his mined which will monitor all our movements and talking even now almost 3 month after the American tanks roared into Baghdad.
Asking a man standing under the sun in the middle of the street what do you think of the Americans? He will answer with a combination of the following:
“They are invaders, they have this big pipe pumping our oil directly to the white house, they haven’t fixed our electricity yet, they are not paying our salaries, they haven’t done anything for us apart from promises, where is the freedom they spoke about? We haven’t seen any yet” not mentioning the real conspiracy theory stuff, like the Americans are steeling money when they search cars at check points or they are using there apache gunships to watch our ladies when they sleep on the roof tops.
Lets cut these things and ask the guy, but they have toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, you don’t have to be terrified of his security apparatus any more, your son wont spend all his days trying to avoid the party members or bribe the army officers to spare him the torture of conscript army service, Saddam and his grandchildren would have stayed here for ever if it wasn’t the Americans
He will answer yes I now but u know…..
I think one of the main issues we have to face, is how to stop using the rhetoric channel, how could we stop this cog mire of stupid conspiracy theories going on and on and on how to liberate our selves from the secret police mechanisms nesting in our brains, this liberation will not be achieved by American tanks, nor by a self-denial flagellation process
Let me tell u this incident that happened 2 weeks ago
It was me, X, Y, and Laurent (a French friend), we were discussing the Americans, Iraq, and the current situation, every one was shouting, waving his hands jumping over the table. After almost 1 hour I went to the kitchen and Laurent to toilet, X and Y have the following conversation:
X: how did the things go in ur neighborhood during the war?
Y: well it was very calm, thanks god those stupid fedayeen didn’t resist, other whys who would know what could have happened
X: alhamdullilah, good for you, and especially now the situation is getting better
Y: yes yes we managed to get rid of that asshole
Bla bla bla (while a couple of minutes ago both of them were vehemently arguing against the war)
When the discussion sessions would end and everyone would go back to [channel reality] and speak about the day-to-day concerns I think this the place were the Americans could make a big difference
The Iraqis are so fed up with wars, suffering, party propaganda, regulations and obnoxious people telling you what to do and where to go. I wouldn’t be very far from the truth if I say that the foremost concern now for the Iraqis is the economical situation/security/services.
Its not that we r desperately waiting to indulge our selves in the global world of Starbucks and MacDonald’s-which I think we are-but for most of the people they just want to live properly without fear, hunger, or secret police

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Baghdad now is the most boring place u to be in
the rhythm of life is returning slowly to normal but the landscape of destruction still is vast. The mornings belong to the commerce that is much more in evidence than just two weeks ago as consumer goods flood a market where the lack of tariffs or customs duties have led to an explosion of imports.
The streets are filled with schoolchildren, and the universities are in session though many buildings remain stripped of equipment and windows. Politics and religion, too, are day occupations, for when the sun begins to set, Baghdad reverts to a war zone, where looters, bandits and hundreds of army patrols own the streets. Gunfire still punctuates the night and few Baghdadis venture out to the fish restaurants that are opening to empty tables in a town where a dinner of river carp called masgouf is a staple of life



If we were in Beirut, grozny or Tehran with the same set of events we just had in Baghdad, We would have half of the politicians around us assassinated by rival factions, at least 10 suicide bombers, half of the American journalists here taken as hostages and sectarian / ethnic fighting’s in the streets.
Instead of that what we see around us, is a city going back to life some times grudgingly but other times with fast speed.
Electricity is almost as normal as in the days of Saddam, the markets are just beautiful, people are going out shopping for clothes, satellite dishes, or just buying cokes, you have families in the streets, Americans in humviees surrounded by kids, security is much better and people are still selling beer on the side walks in some districts of Baghdad in spite of all the fiery sermons by Shi’a / Sunni clerics calling for a virtuous – read alcohol free - society).
I don’t want to give the impression here that every thing is all right and there is no crisis in Iraq, I just want to say that the Americans had - and still have - a perfect opportunity in Iraq, an opportunity they won’t have anywhere else, they could have won the hearts and minds of the Iraqis from the first week after the toppling of the regime, but instead they just provided the extremists with all the pretexts they need - as if they needed any- to attack the Americans they have wasted a good deal of good intensions and hope.
please stop and start doing your homework properly, I don’t want my country to be another breeding place for Osamas and lunatic terrorists.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

A great day for freedom.
BBC world service on FM in Baghdad,
u cant imagine how it feels to drive through Baghdad listening to “arts in action” it sounded so clear that ur ear start itching looking for the usual noise, oh god all these repeated trips to bab al sharji -a second hand market place- desperately trying to find a good short wave receiver, all the hours I spent listening to the static with some interruptions from the BBC, its just great.
for almost 5 years BBC were my only connection with the world, they were the place where I would go and hide during the long boring hours of CAD-labor it was a world totally different from the one I was living in, actually I have to do a small confession here I haven’t been outside Iraq in my life, and during these years I was desperately trying to leave this big prison called Iraq….but no way habibi. So the beeb was my window to all the cultures and places I wanted to visit, it was where I could go and listen to African music or the life story of an Indian taxi driver, well that doesn’t mean they didn’t piss me off with their coverage of the War or the life in Baghdad or Iraq but this is another story for another day.


Thursday 6-5-2003
A banner in Baghdad " import Indonesian servants ".

Good lord
First please don't use the word "import" when talking about people and Second who would " import" servants in these days when most of the people are desperately trying to find a job.
I mean apart from the “fat cats” -a term used by Saddam himself to describe his royal social class “the old guards”- members of the old regime or corrupted people deeply associated with its day to day life (businessmen, high ranking technocrats, service providers….etc) -who could still be seen in the lavish western style supermarkets shopping for French shampoos or American pringles.
You could add to them all “ the new guards " -the yet to be regime- a thugocrasy -as described by one western journalist- a wide spectrum of political parties and groups, ranging from the monarchists to the fundamental Islamists passing through liberal democrats, free officers, commies, all share the same distinctive characteristics:
-Badly tailored suits.
-Lots of AK47s.
-The resanctifications of old government buildings into party HQs.
-Condemning the American “ invasion of Iraq “ and declaring “if it wasn’t for the Americans, Saddam and some other factors we could have liberated Iraq long time ago”.
-Bragging about how they suffered during the days of exile in London, Washington, Tehran…..
-The distinctive obnoxious look of “ the old guard ” – see above.



During the War, specifically on the last week I was arrested by members of the “Special Security Apparatus” because I looked suspicious and I was carrying a back-pack containing a camera a Swiss army knife…..etc, two weeks after that I was arrested by “al-Hussien force” -a vigilante Shia militia in Karbala 150 km to the south of Baghdad. After another week I was arrested by the “Pieshmergha” -the Kurdish militia- this time because I tried to photograph one of their men in the middle of a street in Baghdad.
I think they all red the same -Russian made- instruction manuals of “ how to arrest a spy every 20 minutes”.
I swear sometimes I get into their offices, and I wonder whether I m in a ba’ath party HQ just missed what happened in Baghdad during the past 10 weeks.
So for sure Mr. Chalabi/Talabani/Hakiem/[put your favorite here] - will need lots of people to clean his newly resanctified residence -which by mere coincidence only, used to belong to the late head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service.

Another announcement in the streets of Baghdad, Bassrah, Najaf:
“tribal sheik for hire, perfect hypocrite, a know-nothing in politics, with
a whole set of praising poems – already proved its effectiveness during the days of the regime-
24 hours stand by crew of tribal people ready to welcome any politician willing to run for election/claim himself a mayor/new beloved leader/sun and wisdom of the Iraqi people. just name it and we will act upon it.



I swear, this is not blog-talk. These r true things.
A grand ayatullah comes and u a have a full set of trible leaders with their chorus of followers chanting and jumping, then arrives the“king” with the same set performing the same ritual dancing movements, while in the same time they r discussing with our dear Chalabi their share in the pie

Some times I used to whisper to my self I want to have a revolution in this country- actually even the word whisper is bit exaggerated- I used to think about the revolution whenever I saw a “fat cat” or an ugly idontknowwho’swife shopping for imported stuffed chicken breasts, now when I turn my head and look at all those thugs around me, I wonder if a revolution is still needed to achieve justice in this society.

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