27 January 2004

Iraqis and fellow Arabs

I will be commenting on a subject that touches all of us. How the rest of the Arabic population feels about Iraqis right now. For some of you, it will be shocking. I’ve been watching this very closely, I’ve read comments that is so extreme, examples one of them said Iraq has 10.000.000 traitors thus “Shiea”, cause they are not fighting the occupation, Kurds deserve to be Gassed, cause they want to declare independency and Saddam was right when he hit them with chemical weapons. I even ppl how been through this personally, one of my friends who works in Dubai, he almost got fired cause he was going to fist fight with and Jordanian/Palestinian coworker who start calling him traitor with the rest of the Iraqi ppl who pulled down Saddam status in Baghdad the day Baghdad falls. Now here comes one of the bad parts, Rumors now said that most of the Arab fighters who came to defend Baghdad before the war started got shot in the “BACK” which means Iraqis killed them. Then comes the big blow, Iraqis throw Palestinians outside there homes. I heard some stories that I can’t tell how true they are, from friends in Baghdad about a Taxi driver who was carrying 2 Syrians, he stopped at a check point and told the police that he is carrying those 2 foreigners and they are planning an operation inside Baghdad and the police took them away.

Why is this happening, this is what I think why this is happening. Jordan is going to be the center of the attention, why? Simple, cause Jordan what the gate to get outside Iraq. Probably most of you know the situation of Iraqis in Jordan, or what is the rights that Iraqis has in Jordan, only 6 months of residency that’s all, your not allowed to work and stay longer than the 6 months that the government giving you, if you passed it then you have to pay 1.5 JD (Jordanian Dinar) for everyday after. I would say I was one of the fortunate to have a work permit and a yearly residency, but what is the percentage of the Iraqis that had the same opportunity, very few, I shared an apartment with 6 other guys, each on of them was working under cover, getting paid pennies, and they have to pay at least $500 - $800 every six months to leave and come back to get the hole next 6 months, but again Jordan is a poor county but there Dinar is a $1.5 dollar. We are human and emotions get into this political situation, “we are giving them cheep oil, we are buying there bad medicine, we are……, why cant they give us more rights, they come to iraq and they can do whatever they want too” but this is not how it works, there is a lot of deals behind the curtains.

It reached a point where Iraqis and fellow Arabs cussing at each others in the discussion forms, calling each others names. Ok I need a break now .

25 January 2004

Mark Fiore flash editorials

check it

UPDATE 17 FEB 2004:

Something to do with iraq...I predict that cheney is dumped (or "leaves the Vice Presidency for health reasons") by the Bushies...and is replaced by John McCain. That'll be like botox for Bush and co.

And they'll get re-elected.

How depressing.

24 January 2004

There is no one answer for Iraq -repost

I am getting too worked up. There is no one answer for Iraq. I only know what I feel. And I need to feel free to express myself these days.

My father came here and sought freedom and a better life for his family. He's done just that (But it's more complicated than just stating this). I am in the highest regard of him and the ideals and principles of freedom. We both feel like what is going on right now is not what should be happening.

I want to get him to join on this blog. But now I feel like I'm not free to speak out for what I feel...everything that is the best about a democracy and that is in the bill of rights turns to dust. and sure, while civil liberties for decent citizens from middle eastern countries seem simply nonexistent in the US, if not slowly disappearing... things are much worse in iraq and i must check myself.
Everything seems very odd to me lately. I just want truth to prevail. What silly idealism I still hold o n to, no?

I haven't got the support I expected...so, I...

I don't know.

There is not one answer and if anybody knows any of the possible answers, please give me a clue. As you can see, feeling a bit helpless, depressed. not thinking clearly. time is going to pass.

I feel sorry for all the families here and in Iraq that are suffering because of this... I wish there was something I could do to ease your pain. I want to avoid being selfish, but state what i'm feeling at themoment. why did it have to come to war to remove that bastard? I say, No, I do not feel safer here today because of it...nor do my family in Iraq. Where is Osama damnit?

I ahve cousins that say war was perhaps the only way to do it. Taht was several months ago, tho. I don't know...I think there is at least a RIGHT way to do something, even if it involves senseless death. And things that are happening now are not right. Being redundant...and re-posting...ugh! I gotta take a break.

I hope it gets going on the Agora. But I am going to sink back into some light,,hopefully, and see what happens in the meantime.

Props to the founders of this country like Thomas Paine who had some "Common Sense".

I recommend Thomas Paine's short book for a read. Click here for it or ABOVE. I hope we'll get OUR (meaning the WORLD's) Thomas Paines BACK.

23 January 2004

On Invading and Breaking Down

...and/or Being Broken Down by conditions beyond the grasp of what we call reality.

Does anybody see a ironic metaphorical parallel to the preventive war (i.e invasion) of Iraq, then the precipitous yet curiously consistent breakdown (i.e. lack of planning and intelligence in every sense of the word) of post-war Iraq after the supplanting of Saddam and the now unfolding invasion of Mars, with a "critical" breakdown?

Interestingly enough, "The Opportunity" is landing on Mars over the weekend and (from the reuters article linked to above) "PASADENA, Calif. (Reuters) - NASA engineers on Friday declared the crippled Martian rover Spirit to be in "critical" condition and said the vehicle would likely remain idle for several days or even weeks.

Meanwhile, the scientists geared up for the landing of a second robotic explorer, Opportunity, on Mars this weekend on the other side of the planet from the troubled Spirit."

So the spirit is "critical" and the opportunity is coming, yet it's too far away(Mars). Does this mean we're (i.e. americans and igc members) delaying the occupation of Mars? Or are we going to pass up the opportunity?

hm. funny.

I know "The Terminator" is governor of the fifth largest economy of the world, California. And the re-creation of the Reagan beat of the drum to the tune of a steeply more fundamental(-ISM), is growing more likely. 5 more years of flailing around in the yellow-muck-racking manners of an adeptly adapted "cultural theorist"-turned-politician is not my idea of a good time.

So, I would like to reluctantly announce I am withdrawing my name as a candidate for the sponsorship of the Democratic National Convention and withdraw from my post on the Interim Governing Council. I will hereforto retire from politics, reclining to the incumbent but I shall continue to serve the public sector in less rigorous forms from the corridors of power.

I shall, instead, focus on energy levels inside Iraq and Califownia, the census, and cutting military spending. I devote myself to these three efforts from here on out...and things of that nature. I now will expect handsome off-shore taxless cash rewards for bookdeals and lectures running in the tune of 75,000 dollars per. Email me if interested, and so on and so forth.

Ret. General Liminal Pericolo (look last sentence p. 214, chapter 6)


put the fundamental ideologies in the museum or linger on the brink of danger-- and consequently fear life-- for eternity...or at least for now.
what's the difference? ...who's asking? you? or am I asking you? Figure it out yourself.

Love over Fear

21 January 2004

Iraq Under Religious rule

Iraq Under Religious rule

As far as I remember Iraq was never under religious rule, we have bars “till Saddam” closed them, but he didn’t ban the selling of alcohol. We have nightclubs and all of use knows about Abu Nawas street.

The way am looking at the situation right now, I don’t think its heading to the right direction. It started with the family law, then you cant access the internet, then you cant have a satellite, and…. and…

I was actually very happy to hear that Iraqi women went to the streets requesting their rights.

Religion and politics should never be combined.

River Just wanted to thank you for the Sistany website.


P.S: Thanks

19 January 2004

On Sharia family law

Do we have to make this step backwards? I am still confused about it. Could anybody fill me in? On a somewhat separate yet related note: I have been checking out Sistani's website and it is pretty remarkable. It's well organised and in many different languages. Wow.

So, when and if this law takes effect (now or) in July (???) ...it makes completely no sense. How do you de-secularise a whole population overnight? Democracy must be a process or it will fail miserably.


after I posted the above (couple hrs later)...

Existing family laws vs Sharia Family Law (I'll try to find a more specific to Iraq Sharia family law asap...if anybody knows of one, please email me)

First Salam says this on the 16th and this on the 14th of January. and most recently, today, Salam says this.

Zeyad says this on the 14th of January.

River says this (!!!) today! I didn't realise you posted River! and this on 15 January.

Juan Cole says this on the 15th. and he say this on 14 January. and he says this on 10 January.

Ays says this on 16 January.

Ali says this on 17 Jan.

Fayrouz says this on 16 January.

Sapphireblue say this on 15 January. Many good Q%A parts on this comment blog.

Omar says something on 13 January (no archive link as of yet)

Deeds says something on 17 January (may have to scroll down a bit)

Mary says this on 16 January.

The Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq says this on 14 January. Their objection to a Chalabi-ruled Iraq and how it would be like for women in such a state.

Christopher say this on 14 January and this on 15 January.

Tamsen says this on 16 January.

Nicholas and Charles say this on January 15 in Baghdad.

Roger says this on 15 January.

Conrad says this on 16 January.

Brad says this on 15 January.

Charlotte says this in an article on MSNBC "Iraqi women are fighting prejudice to regain the rights lost under Saddam--and to win themselves a say in rebuilding their country"

Pennywit says this on 16 January. "Who are we to ban Sharia?" (another pt. of view)

This is what the CPA says about Women in Iraq on 9 January.

Before the decision no. 173 was made "Iraqi Women Protest: 'Don't Leave Us Out'; Letter to Bremer Says Women Excluded from Government" 18 December

The entire letter to Bremer from 18 December and more on Women's rights.

Here will be articles about the new and old law:

Agence France Presse 13 January
Washington Post 15 January
Washington Post 16 January
AFF's Brainwash say this about the situation.
Azzaman (arabic, thanks Salam...didn't see it)

Websites about women's rights in Iraq:

Iraqi Women's Rights Coalition

Help Iraqi Women Fight for Their Rights! (pdf and contact info) A Call to Action flyer

A roll on Dept of State (& other U.S. government agencies) comments regarding the matter:

Taking Exception: Standing Up for Iraqi Women
Paula J. Dobriansky, Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs
July 2, 2003 (A response to Elizabeth Goitein's May 24 op-ed, "Stand Up for Iraqi Women")
(Published in the Wash.Post)

More tomorrow...
17 January 2004


If you have any questions about making your post in color just email me.... and I'll help you out as much as I can.

Here's a good site...called ColerMatch Remix. Customize.

I'm figuring out slowly that I have a lot to learn about blogging. New members on their way.


Iraq, Palast, and the importance of context: Derivative? Means to an End? Or Both? Elections vs (S)elections

My apologies to everybody for my swath of posts that amounted to very little discussion...I took many of them down because they were irrelevent.

Approaching Hurria's Post: First off, thank you for your post...several important points, well taken. Now let me tell you my take on your points (one at a time, I hope) and engage in some discussion.

First, I'd like to hear what Palast said in its original context (I'm picky like that...I think context is vital, especially since you said he "stat[ed] unequivocally that the only reason American troops are on the ground in Iraq is to prevent elections" --quoting you. I agree with you in your next couple sentences that it is far from the only reason the troops are there, but I do not necessarily think "he was over-stating his case to the point of inaccuracy" (again, context is crucial here...without it, I wouldn't be able to tell you beyond a doubt what I really think). Now, this is why in all my cynicism (not pessimism, mind you...but the ancient form that is actually positive in nature).

Subtext: I'm not, by any means, trying to defend Palast, because (like you) I do agree such statements need some explanation in order to mean anything at all. But moreover, since I'm familiar with his past writings, I cannot imagine him oversimplifying the situation to such a degree (he is an investigative reporter)...like, say, Thomas Friedman does in the NY Times so often. While I do agree at times with what TF says, he is an oversimplifier or a tourist-journalist(What does everybody think of his War of Ideas series for instance?...Whereas, I see Greg Palast as an over-analyser or an investigative reporter (to both his credit and his detriment at times...so again, context creeps up on me when thinking about what you say. Without the original context, it's difficult to say exactly what he meant by 1) "unequivocally" if in fact he used that word...pretty powerful word I'd say 2) "the only reason" My first question to him would be "How so?"

Now to the meat of the matter. I basically agree with everything you said in your post. But framing it as Palast's mistake to say a certain thing that definitely needs more context and fluidity is a bit premature, I think. So, doesn't the whole plan of Bush and co. to make what Naomi Klein calls "The 500 Billion Dollar Fire Sale" rest on preventing elections and allowing them complete control (behind the scenes, tho we see it as in front of our face) to see who gets what and when?

Elections and the prevention of them is the pivot-point that people stare at and think laboriously about these days. Sistani's powers are unmistakable, but he has also been of great help in calming the Shia population during the occupation. Hence, Mullah Bremer's recently proclaimed "great respect" for Sistani. It is clear to me that the invasion and occupation was meant to bomb people into a democracy, while at the same time pay for itself and for those firms doing the reconstruction (with such close ties to the current US admin.) to profit off the over 30-40 years of suffering of the Iraqi people that was so ironically instigated by Western powers wanting to secure a certain natural resource from the, then, Soviet Republic . Because the Americans and British played it like they had no idea what would happen upon invading (I honestly believe, from time to time, that they knew this was going to be the case.), they have the ultimate scapegoat and slick profiteerer in Chalabi and the likes of him. There is history to confront here, in other words...and the British knows what happened in 1917 up through the years of them getting thrown out of Iraq. And then communism/socialism threatened the US, and the Baathists were effectively installed to avert cold war anxieties. There are so many details I'm leaving out, but you get my point. Conspiracy theories aside, there is actual evidence and lessons learned from history in the region that could have allowed them to predict (and WANT) the current situation to be as it is...in order, to say, give an excuse that there is not enough time to have elections. Just a thought, anyway.

I think this was all very calculated from PNAC beginning in 1998 with this letter, one could even say long before, (look pnac.info) to the rise of the likes of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney as the fundamentalist power brokers they are today. (BTW, I highly recommend the FRONTLINE series on Iraq, if you have highbandwidth or not...called, "Truth, War, and Consequences") A great program...if you have dial-up only there is a low-bandwidth version as you'll see. It may take a while to load, but it's well worth the wait.

To move on, I agree with you wholeheartedly Hurria, that the primary goal of Bush and co.'s "Iraq adventure is to completely reform and transform Iraq's society and institutions so that Iraq will serve their global political, military, and economic agenda." But how would they do that without making sure there is not an election at this time, while both you and I know there could be (because of the UN Food Distribution Program that serves as a good starting point at creating a census).

So, either they were deceived by Chalabi and the INC with what Cheney called "raw intelligence from defectors," (referring to Chalabi and INC sources that made everybody in the US believe that Saddam had nukes and tons of other WMD) or they were willingly deceived in order to carry out they're over-arching agenda in pursuing this inane metaphorical "War on Terrorism"...we all know that this is a war that cannot be won. NO metaphorical wars can be won...like the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs, etc. It seems to me metaphorical wars are all pursued because of profit's sake...not, for instance, the sake of Democracy in Iraq.

I truly hope democracy is the end-result in Iraq. ((((It is a process that takes time, though.)))) But the way the current American Administration is framing it here in the US turns Iraq into "the frontline of the War on Terrorism" and it serves as a self-replicating false-pretext to placate the American opinion and allow Bush to say in this election year that the world is a safer place because of the war on Iraq and with Saddam in American custody, to eventually be tried by Iraqis (we presume). The Army War College begs to differ, though. Check out this report recently released by a visiting research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute of the Army War College, Professor Jeffrey Record. The report warns that the administration's global war on terrorism may have set the United States "on a course of open-ended and gratuitous conflict with states and non-state entities that pose no serious threat to the United States." Here's a shorter article that sums it up, too. (Sidenote: Now read this article by Le Carre in the Times, one year apart...and think about these two in retrospect) But as your final words in your post indicated...the possibility for a major revolt (and difficult chaotic times ahead) are becoming more likely. The Americans had no plan after uprooting Saddam and his thugs...whether this was intentional or not is speculative thinking (whether one likes it or not). What Palast said is merely a derivative and I think it deserves some more thought when put in context.

But each of us know that no matter what Bush and Co. (with the assistance of Karl Rove, chief neocon architect, especially) will do whatever it takes to secure their interests in Iraq and the region while controlling how the American public *perceive* is going on in Iraq. This is nothing new, of course. (For instance, the US administration banned all media from taking photos and video of formal memorial ceremonies at Dover Air Base of soldiers coming back to their families.) Whether that will be enough to stave off civil war and unrest remains to be seen. I am doubting more and more the current American admin. cares that much about the Iraqi people. And that will unequivocally be to their detriment. Throughout history Iraqis have been underestimated...and it just goes to show you that now, with all this talk about a Federal Iraq and dividing Iraqi along ethnic and religious lines is perhaps another apparatus (system) of control that this American administration wishes to implement to their benefit.

I doubt they will manage to do so. But for the sake of all my family and friends now in Baghdad and Iraq at-large, I hope they miraculously do cave in to the will of the Iraqi people or are FORCED to do so by the will of the Iraqi people before things get to much more out of control... The secular people that I know for a fact predominate the population.

This Shar'ia family law is a clear step in the opposite direction...a regression to past times and places, as River so emphatically states in her blog. She always heard about those lavish places with hi-wages, but was more than happy to be and Iraqi Muslim woman with her rights.

Don't get me started on that...the more I read about the change in law, the more it upsets me. I still need to deciminate all the information I'm getting on that in order to give a clear response. But it's forthcoming. And also, that "Thoughts on federalism" post I've been collating and thinking about is still on it's way.

What does ev'body think? I'm going to try to update/edit this post if there are points that seem incoherent...and put more links that will support and adumbrate my opinions further.

And Hurria, Thanks so much for your thoughtful post and picking up that UN World Food Program part...very important people know about this in relation to the census that could be done. And pardon me if I got defensive on the Palast thing...but I think there's more to it...and that perhaps he may have a point, even out of their context. But I understand what you mean when you say it damages his credibility...perhaps perception-wise (for those who don't think or act similarly to him...in other words, he could have a larger audience if he said things in a more tactful manner)....but maybe he has a point after all.

Raed made a potent post about just accepting Americans presence from here on out...why don't they just say it? if I recall it correctly...he's right, why don't they just come out and say certain things, "we're going to control who runs the government in our name," "we're going to control your oil, for x, y, and z reasons..." instead of going about it in a circuitious and frankly-lying-for-public-relations manner.

We should get Raed on the I-Agora TOO!!!

16 January 2004

Regarding the Palast Post

Marhaba Liminal,

I tried a few times to delete that original post, which wasn't supposed to appear in the first place, but it kept reappearing on the page, and now I see it is gone. I think there must be a jin in the site's software since I never posted it or even previewed it, yet it got posted somehow.

Anyway, as you saw I finally finished it.

By the way, I think when people like Palast make these extreme overstatements it damages their credibility, and I really wish they wouldn't do it.

I don't see a way on the page to set different colors, but I think it's a good idea. Can you tell use how to do it?

Pardon me...I'm too tired.

I just realised that Hurria's post on Palast is intact! OMG! or it has been updated by her! well, anyway...only good intentions from me. Sorry, I definitely need to hold off on the Federalism post utnil tomorrow. Just as offer...esp. to those of you who aren't really interested in changing their color of their post each time...if you pick a color and send it to me, I'd be more than happy to change it for you. I could email a copy of your post before and after, as a test...and to make sure (if you have any qualms about me doing do) that I'm not censoring you!!! :)

Greg Palast le kilkom!

Here's a link to Greg Palast's website. And an interview of him by Mike Hersh. And also, a great website that offers some insight (with the help of Palast) on his book 'The Best Democracy Money Can Buy'. Truthout.org is excellent for a number of reasons, tho. There's much more out there on the web, but here are just a few sources. And here's his BLOG. This one's for Hurria!
Figured it out!

Okay, that's how you do it...if anybody wants to know how to post in their own color, just go edit on the post where it now shows my color as dark red (8B0000) and insert your own color. check here for different web compat. colors ...there are other colors than the ones listed here, tho. just search around that pg and others thereabouts. I think there is a helpful chart, I can't find the link to it tho...where you can get more colors. I'll try to get that up by tomorrow for everybody's reference.

I'm going to eventually fix all my posts to this color. Once you figure out your color, I'm sure you can do the same.

This is what I think of this?! Addendums to come!

Long story, had some research to complete and a deadline to ponder and meet, but I'm back in action. Salam, welcome! I'm very happy you've joined us. And Hurria...and my cousin too! Yes! things are shaping up. My dad was ill then out of town, but now I think we'll have some time over the w-end to get him going too! perfect! I look forward to this blog now more than ever.

I think each of us should have a color that we blog in (at Riverbend's first suggestion). Makes sense!! Okay, I'm going to put this up as a test...I call dark red, maroon ish ...For those who are not so familiar how to pull this wizardry off, I will be willing to help (even tho I'm not so sure how I'm figuring this out as aI go along). Soon I'll have a post, hopefully before the end of the evening, with links to various pts of view on "Thoughts about Federalism in Iraq" ...yes, from all over the spectrum. I'm going to try to include as broad of a representation as possible (dismissing the opinions of the INC and chalabi's minions aside, of course). So let me post this in the color I hope will work and if it does, I'll get to the next post immediately.

PS. I absolutely loved what Faiza wrote TOO. Amazing! And River, you did an excellent job with these new horrid changes in family law that are being oddly passed. I was speaking with my father today about it and he doesn't believe it yet.

So, let me post this...see if it works...and I'll go from there! Ya Hella everybody! And Salam, thank you for the collage pic of mansur...really made me happy.

monsieur bakazay

Iraqi Elections - Take 2

A few days ago I began a post, then got sidetracked and never posted it. Imagine my shock when I saw it appear on the page in all its brief and unexplained glory! So, now that I have some time again, I will try to finish saying what I had in mind, and hopefully it will sound less bizarre in its complete form.

As I said, the other day I heard Greg Palast, who is an American investigative reporter, state unequivocally that the only reason American troops are on the ground in Iraq is to prevent elections. IMNVHO (in my not very humble opinion) he was overstating his case to the point of inaccuracy – for starters, even if that IS one of the purposes for having the troops there it is far from the ONLY reason the troops are there - but there is definitely something to what he said.

Certainly it is critical for the Bush regime to make sure that Iraq will end up with an “interim government” that will be compliant and allow the Americans to remain in control behind the scenes. They need to make sure of this if they are going to realize even part of the political, military and economic agenda for which they undertook the invasion of the country. The likelihood that free and fair one-person-one-vote elections would give them the government they need to have was very low from the start, and by now it is somewhere between zero and none. Therefore they simply cannot affort to allow free and fair elections.

One of the true goals – in fact, very likely the primary goal - of the Bush regime’s Iraq adventure is to completely reform and transform Iraq’s society and institutions so that Iraq will serve their global political, military and economic agenda. This in my view is why they have so steadfastly insisted upon retaining complete control of the so-called “rebuilding” in all its aspects. For this reason many of us have never for one moment believed that the Bush regime would, if they could possibly help it, allow Iraq to have a real democracy - you know, the kind where Iraqis actually have self-determination and get to independently decide and control their own country, their own society, their own economy, their own public services such as education and medical care, and their own future.

Sure, the infamous neocons who conceived and now drive the Bush regime’s foreign policy had the naïve and ignorance-based notion that by overthrowing the Baath regime and ensconcing their boy Chalabi and his mob in its place they could transform the entire Middle East into a compliant, “democratic” heaven for American political and economic enterprise. What they didn’t take into consideration was that Chalabi and the other “exiles” who rode into Iraq on the tanks of the “liberators” had no credibility with Iraqis and were not likely to be accepted as the new “democratic” leaders without resistance. What they also failed to consider was that given a free choice Iraqis would choose what they considered to be in their own interest and that what was in Iraqis’ interest was unlikely to coincide with the American agenda. They greatly underestimated Iraqis in these and many other respects.

From the beginning Bremer et. al. have made it very clear by their actions and sometimes even their words that we were right. Though as far as I know he has never said it in so many words, you don't have to be terribly skilled at reading between the lines to figure out why Bremer has cancelled so many local elections. In late June after canceling elections throughout the country Bremer said “I'm not opposed to it [self-rule], but I want to do it in a way that takes care of our concerns.” And what are “our concerns”? Well, first and foremost they are making absolutely certain that whoever gains a position of power in Iraq will be favourable toward the American agenda both short term and long term. And then there is this very clear statement from Bremer as quoted in the Washington Post: “We dominate the scene and we will continue to impose our will on this country." One has to wonder what kind of lapse of judgment caused Bremer to make such a clear statement of intentions, but there it is in so many words.

Clearly the Americans’ resistance to elections in Iraq is becoming more obvious in the current situation. In their so-called plan - such as it is - to “transfer power” by July via a caucus of hand-picked participants is obviously an attempt to make sure that they can control to the greatest possible extent the makeup of the “interim government”. And of course the members of the so-called “Governing Council” are fully willing to participate in this latest charade because most of them know full well that they have no support among Iraqis and if they don’t control the process they will be out of power by the end of June.

The other day there was an article in the San Francisco Chronicle which very nicely debunked Bremers' lame excuse that "There is no electoral infrastructure in this country to ... institute direct elections immediately...". It seems that Iraqi and UN experts say that credible elections could indeed be held within months using the food ration database to create a list of eligible voters. Given that the UN has a good deal of experience in setting up and monitoring the process of democratization and supervising elections, it's going to be difficult for Bremer, who has no such experience (and no real applicable expertise), to effectively discount this.

The director of the U.N. World Food Program's Iraqi mission said "The database is reliable and includes all the population in the (Kurdish) north". He added that "There were no exclusions because of political reasons." Ahmad Al-Mukhtar, director of the ration system, said "The database is 99 percent accurate, and is extremely detailed, with full information about the ages of all Iraqis, and it has been repeatedly and exhaustively cleaned up of all irregularities and duplications". He further stated "If you gave me one month and enough paper, I could open registration to anyone who was exiled, allow them to register, and then I would give you a complete electoral roll."

So, according to experts in such things, direct elections before the end of June are quite doable, and there are Iraqis and U.N. personnel who are willing to do what it takes to make it happen. However, the Bush regime and their henchman Bremer and their "Governing Council" will do everything they can to prevent it because there is simply no way it will turn out the way they need it to in order to 1) declare success and appear to get out of the mess they are in, and 2) continue to fullfill at least part of their agenda in Iraq.

Bush desperately needs to have something that he can sell as a "success" in Iraq before the Presidential election this year. He cannot afford elections in Iraq because that would certainly not result in a government that will do America's bidding, and it is likely to result in Iraq becoming The Shi'ite Islamic Republic of Iraq, which even Bush would have a hard time calling a success. However, some awfully powerful Iraqis are becoming rather testy about the whole thing and if they continue to block elections the consequences could be even worse.

It seems to me the only thing that will persuade the Americans to stop blocking elections will be a serious threat of a major revolt. What with Sistani refusing to back down on the issue and now some of the Sunnis getting on board, this is looking like a real possibility.

15 January 2004
So what does everyone think of this?!

I'm irritated beyond anything with this new turn of events about Shari'a law- what about everyone else??? YOU MEN- what do you think of it? Obviously, it's not going to affect your rights that much...

And Faiza's post on federalism *was* fantastic... she expressed everything beautifully.
13 January 2004

Federalism given the killer karate kick by Faiza

لا أدري لماذا توحي لي كلمة حكومة فدرالية بأن ثمة عائلة قد تفسخت

Go read it, translationI am sure will be posted in less than 24 hours, she already has devoted fans.
11 January 2004

There is always a first time.

Oh my God

I’ve been out of Iraq since 1998. Reading your posts gave me Flash backs, Riverband you asked me where I used to hangout, I don’t know if those places are still exists or not but lets give it a try. I used to hangout around Al-Sa3a restaurant “I know that one does not exist any more”, but mostly it was “Tea Time” near Baghdad international Fair. I lived in Al-Mansour so I know that area very good, hey am Al-Mansour high graduate. To be honest what I mess more is “Lablabe”. Know lets go back to Politics, We all know how the Kurds want to have there won country, it is very strange, when everything ended I was watching the news and I saw The Flag, which I’ve never seen in my life, and I was what is this, what flag is this, then comes the answer, I respect Kurds, I have a lot of Kurds friends, but to cut that piece out of Iraq and name it something else is a NO, and am sure most of us has the same view, That will have a big impact over Turkey, Iran and Syria since all of those countries has Kurds in them, but again isn’t that the dream of every ethnicity on earth, Hopefully they will come back to there sense and know that we are one county undividable.

P.S: I wish I can get the latest Jokes.

Welcome Everyone...

Hey Salam!! No- it's not only politics (hopefully), although if you're Iraqi, it's inevitably going to be politics- isn't it?

You make Samed sound good (a7*af 3ndek 7u9eh bil ma63am?!)... I can't make it to Mansur- too far away for me. I have to settle with Rubai'i street, which isn't too bad. The importance of any restaurant is in it's cleanliness, I suppose. I once found a nail (finger nail) in a pizza from City Center and that pretty much stopped me from going there (finger nails will do that).

Where are Hurria and Liminal? Post in Arabic if you feel inclined- we'll manage translations or something.
10 January 2004
as he enters the Agora....

he finds a link to the tiny post about federalism and wishes he has written more about the subject.

Latest Baghdad restaurant review: if you go eat at Samed in Mansour do not order the Chicken Shawerma, the cook dropped a whole bag of salt in it. The grilled lamb ribs are very good, but do avoid the strange apple salad they put in front of you as a starter, go for the shwandar and pomegranate salad instead.

Have I lost the plot? do we only do politics here?
09 January 2004


Hi Guys, just playing around with this interface.

Wow! I can type on it بالعربية ! I wonder if it will show in the published version!

07 January 2004
Thoughts on Federalism in Iraq

Riverbend and Salam wrote provocative and insightful pieces in their blogs recently. Juan Cole has some insight on the matter, too. I believe since this is such a buzz issue, it should be the first topic of discussion in the Agora.

I know I said I was going to post some broad comments on economics, war, and how it relates to Iraq. But I'll save that for later. I'll ring in my opinion about Federalism in Iraq tomorrow and link up my new blog here in the meantime.

Other members are due to join in the exchange of ideas(--of what I predict will be variations on a theme--)that the occupying forces cannot expect to rip apart whole cities and draw any lines between peoples of different ethnicities and religions. One of them will be my father, who was born and raised partly in Mosul. I still have family thereabouts--further north--,( though most are in Baghdad now)...there are no such "lines" in such diverse areas as Salam says, nor should there ever be. To make 3 or 5 [!!!!] separate protectorates based upon the division of ethnicities and religions, would be practically impossible and a terrible mistake.

More soon!

L., aka Mister Bakazay

06 January 2004

Economics is human, but is economics humane?

"It seems politically impossible for a capitalist democracy to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to make the grand experiment which would prove my case--except in war conditions." John Maynard Keynes, 29 July 1940

"The old imperialism--exploitation for foreign profit--has no place in our plans." President Harry S. Truman, 20 January 1949

Now read yesterday's article in The Independent by Andrew Gumbel.

If you cannot get to it, just email me...and I'll email you a copy.

I thought this article in The Atlantic Monthly by philanthropist George Soros was interesting and somehow relevant.

Tomorrow I'll post comments about economics and how it relates to the human condition...and specifically, the state of the world.

Right now I'm tired of staring at the screen.

Peace OUT to the righteous, to Mars,

...and to unchartered waters.

04 January 2004

Stalled and Starving For Attention

The blog is moving much slower than I had hoped for, but it will pick up very soon. I am still trying to garner support, encourage people to join (and not be reticent to post), and teach others how to use the blogger interface. I hope by the end of the coming week things will be moving at a stronger pace. Also, I hope to have my own personal blog up and running in the next couple days.

River, your blog about Xmas in Baghdad had a profound impact on me...Especially the typical III (Iraqi Inside Iraq) to IOI (Iraqi Outside Iraq) conversation you so masterfully captured. As far as the rest of your blog, River, it kind of set me reeling and put me in one of the most depressed and more inquisitive moods I've been for some time. So I directed a series of questions to my cousin that has been out of Baghdad about 7-8 years now and who should join in the blog soon, I hope. One of them, was..."Are you happy to be out of the Middle East?" My Uncle and Aunt, his parents, are in Baghdad now and have been throughout all the events. And I just couldn't imagine being in a similar situation, having my parents there while I'm not beside them...and for so long.

Usually, I would be more direct and descriptive...and I know this is an abstraction. And details are needed to understand quite how I was feeling, knowing what was going on in Baghdad at the time and what I anticipate happening in the future. But that's just how I feel now. And, of course, you will get to know me and my perspective better as time passes. Now, all I can say is that Iraq is an abstraction and has been one for me for quite some time. But all the images are so vivid of my last visit, that I cannot help but see things as I imagine them to be now.

Here and there, the abstraction becomes more graspable...with a picture in an email...a short phone call...a smell or taste or particular light that reminds me of it in more tangible terms. But for the most part, in the past several weeks...I can only describe my feelings as an abstraction washing over me and leaving a dirty film of guilt and remorse. Of course, it is not entirely my fault...but I cannot help but feel a level of responsibility. Or sometimes, it is this constant feeling that more could have been done. But I knew this administration had no clue what they were getting into by introducing preventive war in Iraq of all places. I knew that they've been wanting to do it since 1998...as PNAC (Project for a New American Century) so bluntly writes to, then, President Clinton. Now the same "hawks" have a new manifesto , besides "A Clean Break," goading and directing Bush on how to win the war on terror, called "An End to Evil." Read the article from the telegraph that I linked to above to get an idea of what it contains.

I have a lot I've felt and experienced over the past few weeks that were somewhat anticipated and unanticipated. I don't know what the sum of these feelings are quite yet.

All I know is that more shall be done by all that care for Iraq. But first, there is the matter of exposing the truth. And I take this very seriously. There is also the matter of seeing different Iraqi perspectives...Especially, the *real* Iraqis. Not the ones that are there or working outside Iraq for political and monetary war-profiteering. The difference is stark and I look forward to revealing/sharing some of my confrontations and interactions with some of these sort of people in the coming days and weeks. Then there is the matter of being creative and coming up with ideas that lead to tangible and positive things that may alleviate the pangs of three wars. There are many important questions to be asked and answered with regard to this needed creativity. Most of all, though, I look forward for the Agora to be a place for freedom of expression by all its members and a place for fruitful dialectic to be embarked upon. This is a chance we must each seize to build bridges both physical and metaphysical. Whether an III or an IOI, we must make sacrifices, feel empowered, and create a support system that will make 2004 better than 2003.

That's my introduction. I'm liminal. Always have been, always will be!

:) ma'ah salaaama, L.