Thursday, June 30, 2005

First visit to Syria

i'am travelling to Syria tomorrow to visit some relatives there. I have never actually been there before so i'm kinda excited about this trip. It will give me an opportunity to really judge the situation there and c if all that i read about the Ba'ath regime there is true..

I hope to come back in one week so look forward to a post about life in Demascus as soon as i come back.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Ukrainian - Iraqi Development Association.

Firstly, I’m sorry about the long absence. I’ve been kinda bizzy lately with work and family matters and I haven’t had the time to either Blog or follow any of my fellow Iraqi Bloggers this past two weeks

Going through the Bloggs today I noticed Fayrouz's latest wonderful and lively post about the whining Iraqi mentality. You should all go check it out and leave a comment.
She poses the suggestion to all us Iraqis who continue to whine and complain about the current situation to get off our fat Iraqi butts and do something positive about it. I for one completely agree with her and think that it’s our duty (especially for us Iraqis living abroad) to try to do all that we can to move positively in the right direction.

I know that most of my latest posts have been kind of depressing and negative, but that’s only bourn out of frustration for myself and my relatives and colleagues in Baghdad.

For example:
For the past 6-month, I and some engineer friends of mine have been feverishly trying to establish a Ukrainian-Iraqi Development Association (UIDA). The aim of which is to facilitate and improve contacts between Iraqi businesses and East European companies that might be interested in investing and partnering with Iraqi companies. We have managed so far to sign up to 30 Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, Lithuanian, and Finish companies visa-vie only 8 Iraqi based companies. One of the most difficult stumbling blocks is actually getting hold of other NGOs or Iraqi based Trade Associations that are willing to lend their support and partner with the UIDA. It is very frustrating doing business in Iraq right now, because of the security situation. I’m always reticent about asking friends or colleagues in Iraq to risk their lives just so to have a meeting with this person on that. Besides its almost impossible to get hold of the right people without having the right contacts in the government or the major American or British operating companies. I have tried contacting the Iraqi-American chamber of commerce without any luck. I have also tried contacting the British-Arab chamber of commerce who were helpful but were unable to assist any further.

If anyone has any ideas or suggestions regarding how to move forward with this problem, than please email me. I am willing to entertain any suggestions.


Monday, June 13, 2005

A nut-house called IRAQ....

I feel sorry for Americans, I really do. When they liberated Iraq they never expected to find a population as insane and dysfunctional as the Iraqi population is. They never factored in the psychological damage that 30 years living under Saddam Hussain has done to a population of over 25 million people.

One of the things I remember so vividly as a kid are the real horror movies of post Iran-Iraq battles that they used to show on daytime TV. It was a well known tradition for Iraq’s one and only national TV channel to show hours and hours of these post battle real life documentory-style movies. Imagine your worst Hollywood B-movie nightmare multiplied a thousand times, except it was all real. Dismembered Bodies, burned and unrecognizable. Gassed up Iranian soldiers half berried and rotting in the sand, the flies hovering over their unfortunate corpses. Young men no older than teenagers each one reminding you that it could be you, your brother, father, cousin, a friend..etc.etc.. all accompanied by this horrible army band music..... (I’m sorry but its all coming back to me now)…. Imagery so horrible to remember or comprehend

Saddam and his cronies saw nothing wrong with broadcasting those images to his people on a daily bases. Hours and hours of that crap.

The above is only an example of one of the things that Saddam had inflicted on us. A thousand worst has and had happened in that prison called Iraq. No wonder we are all so fucked up.

I was talking to my cousin in Baghdad the other day about why the hell aren’t things calming down. Why can’t the people who are causing the troubles just recognise that it is better for them to cooperate with the Americans and that through that economic prosperity will come and then we can all enjoy that and forget about the past. Iraq is potentially a very wealthy country and its population will very quickly see the benefits if only there was stability there. You know what my cousin said; he said,”Habibi, how do you expect to talk sense to a mad man. I think that the best thing that America should do is to offer free nationwide Psychological treatments. We all need it. It’s a country full of Majnoons (nutters)”. I swear I laughed soooo much, but the irony and sadness was not lost on me….we are very much a psychologically sick country and it will take us a generation to get over it. How can we expect to achieve democracy and freedom under these conditions IS BEYOND ME..

the saying; ''To cut of your nose to spite your face'', is never truer than now in Iraq....Majnoons the whole lot of us.


Saturday, June 11, 2005

ISLAM...(an Identity?)

Mr. Xosh 7al (from Kurdistan Bloggers union) wrote a very interesting personal post about an argument he had with another young Iraqi about religion and the removal of Saddam. (Please read it then come back to me).

In the comments section Thinker poses a very smart question that immediately grabbed my attention.

He asks;
‘Can you folks explain to me why so many of these kids who grew up in the West are getting so radical?’

Naturally this got me thinking and I remembered all the British Muslims that I had come across during my university years here in the UK. As most of you know, Britain has one of the largest Pakistani, Indian and Arab Muslim communities in the whole of Europe. Most of the youngsters here are second or third generation born and to all sense and purposes have very little in common with the people of their original root homelands.
But the strangest thing is that it is these same youngsters that seem to be the most zealous about identifying themselves with the religions and cultures of their father's or grandfather's homelands. Even though they don’t speak the language or know the history of these ‘homelands’. (Why is that?).

I’m sure most of you remember those world wide demonstration that were organised against the war just prior to it. Well in London that was a big deal.
I remember getting dozens of phone calls from fellow university Muslim who were going to attend the demonstrations and they wanted me to join them. The funny thing was that I didn’t even know most of these guyz, It was just that they had found out that I was a muslim Iraqi and so they naturally assumed that I would be up for it. I tried my best to change these guys minds.
I was really against those demonstration (the majority of Iraqis were) However, whenever I tried to explain that the war might be a good thing and we will finally get rid of Saddam I got a very negatice backlash from these guys. They immidiately accused me of being a bad muslim and that i am a coward for supporting the Americans against another Muslim country. How can I support Bush against Saddam who was a Muslim hero and a patriot (yeh,, go figure).

For them the whole demonstration was like some kind of picnic. they were all gonna get together and reaffirm their membership cards. they must be seen to belong even though they didn't know what they were signing up for. whats important is that they are gonna be together on the streets when they shout from the top of their voices (sarcasim on) No to war, No to freedom, and No to democracy. Muslims don't need your charity. (Sarcasim off)
the fact that they live in a democratic country where they are free to say these things goes way over their marble heads. (the idiots refuse to see the hypocracy of it all).

Anyway you get the idea. These guyz have no idea and when you try to explain to them the intricate facts about political realities in the middle east and the muslim world, they just don’t want to hear it. Its like you are somehow attacking their own being; their sense of self and identity.

This is what I want to get to. Many of these youngster don’t really know anything about the details of Islam or the political back rounds surround the religion. Most of them have never read the Qur’an or been outside of Britain other than a trip to the beech in Marbella\Spain. For them Islam is an Identity. Growing up in a foreign society where they are considered a minority and facing certain racist vibes from the indigenous population, they are inevitably drawn to religion as an Identity. The details and facts of the religion are not important. What’s important is that they are all members of the gang called 'Muslims', and together they are strong.

I think that this applies to most countries where muslims are in a minority, this is true in Britain, France, Holland, Germany, etc. etc… And you will find that it is the young generation that had grown up primaraly in these western countries that are the most zealous about it all. The older generation and those that had lived in the ‘homelands’ know what’s what and are much more sensible about it all.


Thursday, June 09, 2005

An apology to Cindy....

I write this as an apology to Cindy, a regular reader of my Blog . It seams that I had offended here with a comment that I had made in the post that I wrote regarding Raed (from Raed in the Middle).

I said, and I quote,

‘I know you don’t like America. Who does? We Arabs have every reason to be distrustful of America and its support for Israel and its Zionistic agenda’.

Dear Cindy, I appreciate the fact that your husband is in Iraq fighting for my freedom and that of every other iraqi. When I wrote those lines I was addressing them to Raed. But I do think that I should have paraphrased the word ‘Like’ to ‘trust’. And there is a big difference in that.

If you ask me weather I like America values and its people, then I would be the first to say that American people are some of the kindest and well natured human beings that I have ever met. (and I have met quite a few). But does that mean that I should trust the actions or motivation of American diplomacy in the middle east or around the world. Then my answer would be an affirmative No. (for so many reasons that would take a whole post to go into).

I do understand how patriotic Americans are and how any criticizm leveled at their government is often taken personally as levelled at them.

Again, Please accept my apologies. And please understand that I had meant no offence or belittlement to the hard work and sacrifice of the good American people who whole heartedly view their sacrifices in a purely selfless manner.


The Middle Ground.

I’ve been following the Iraqi blogging scene and comments sections associated with it for quite some time now. Even before I decided to start my own Iraqi Blog I had already spent a year following the little family of Blogers that we have all come to love and appreciate here. Each one with his or her own distinctive style and view points.
One of the things that I have come to recognise lately is the symbiotic relationship that has developed between us, the Blogers, and our regular readers and commentators. A positive feeling of solidarity and brotherhood / sisterhood has developed whereby we all support and back each other and hence reaffirm our group collective. This is all well and good, however a negative aspect of this is that we have all (bloggers and commentators) become polarised with some of us supporting the ‘American invasion Bad camp’ whilst the rest supporting the ‘American liberation is good camp’.
This has become very evident lately. The problem I see with all of this is the disappearance of the middle ground view that, after all, is where the positive dialogue and agreements are made.

My personal experience of this occurred whilst writing my two previous post regarding Islam (Islam, Islam2), and the last open letter to Raed (A fellow Iraqi blogger who I would firmly put in the ‘America as the Invader camp’).
What upset me was that as soon as I was perceived to step over the imaginary line and started to criticize America in some way, or showed support for certain Arabic views or attitudes that are seen as slightly controversial, then I am immediately vilified and cast out from one polar camp and into the other. I am immediately labelled as a ‘heretic’ or accused to have shown my ‘true colours’. I am invariably forced to clarify my position over and over again just to get my views across. This I find to be very distracting and unhelpful.

This is particularly the case when I bring up the subject of Arabic mistrust of American support to Israel and how that plays out in the Middle East. It seams that my vocal anti American views on this particular topic automatically brings out the red mists in my commentator friends who in exchange are all to willing to immediately accuse or equate that to a latent anti – American hatred in myself. Or worst still, being some kind of Brain washed Arabic Jihadi supporter.

Another thing that I have noticed is the addictive need that most readers and commentators have for the positive message. We are constantly obliged to provide our fellow readers with some sort affirmation for the purpose and outcome of this war. We are constantly required to provide an affirmation of our eternal gratitude to the efforts and sacrifices of Americans in bringing us the freedom we had sought for so long. It is a strange duopoly of psychological give and take. We as Iraqi Bloggers are happy to churn out the good news whilst in anticipation for this affirmation and support from our American readers and commentators. It is this situation that IMO has muddies the waters and shades the truth that is always found in the middle ground.
As an Iraqi Blogger, I believe that my duty lies first and foremost with Iraq and its people. And secondly to the truth as I see it. The status quo does not interest me. Neither does pandering to the needs of the ‘Lonely House wife’ brigade. (no offence intended)

What I want to say is that we all need to be more open minded about what we all write and what we all read. We should not be so quick to judge, but should try to listen and open a dialogue where view points are openly shared. I also think that we as Iraqi bloggers should be more honest in reporting the negative aspects of the situation in Iraq instead of churning out the usual ‘nothing to see here rhetoric’ that we have come to rely on (Iraq the model case in point). It is only through doing this that we will be seen to be more credible and be able to pull the rug from under the feet of people like Raed Jarrar and his crazy bunch.

Only being honest.


Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Dear Raed,

You know I was so angry after reading your current post regarding the so called ‘Iraqi Road Map’, where you so eagerly and childishly propose a ridiculous solution to solving Iraq’s ‘insurgence’ problem whereby the US withdraws its troops and gives an apology to everyone for the wrongs it has committed.
Tel me, do you honestly believes that if the Americans were to up and leave today then everything will be all right? What world do you live in?
I mean – C’mon Raed, wake the fuck up ‘Aghy’. Are you seriously suggesting that the ‘insurgence’ are just gonna accept to join other Iraqis in a peaceful effort to build a democratic and modern country based on human rights and the rule of law.
No - my dear brother. What they will do is kill and keep on killing until everyone who might stand in their way is dead or scared to death out of the country. Then they will set up their own style Islamic Dictatorship that will be ten times worst than Saddam’s (imagine that) and we can all kiss Iraq goodbye. Please convince me that I am wrong in someway about my analysis of this outcome Because, I’m desperate to understand your logic.

Honestly tell me, is that what you want? I’m really starting to think that it is. I know that you are a good and religious man. I was very impressed with your work with providing the medicines for the hospital in Felluga. And I commend and respect you for that. But please understand that not everyone wants a religious state in Iraq. I want a country where religion is a key and a backbone for a civil society but not a stick to beat everyone who steps out of line with. Please understand that. I have the same right as you and every other Iraqi to decide the kind of country our Iraq should be. This is what democracy is all about. Do you agree?

Raed, we both grew up in Iraq and we both know our country and our people better than all the foreigners that you argue with each and every day. So tell me please, why do you want Iraq to be destroyed even further just when we got the chance to join together and rebuild our desperate homeland. I know you don’t like America. Who does? We Arabs have every reason to be distrustful of America and its support for Israel and its Zionistic agenda. But Iraq isn’t Palestine my dear friend. It’s a completely different country. It’s our country. And if it means working with the Americans to rebuild it then so be it. That’s ten thousand times better than handing it over to the Salafi -Wahabi crew for them to create a new Afghanistan in it, just so that everyone can be proud of themselves and be able to say that they kicked American ass.

Please don’t be so naïve. I know you’re not stupid, so stop trying to act like you are. Please bro ‘Ka’fee 3add’ enough


Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Federal Dictatorship

Firstly, sorry for the long absence, I’ve been preoccupied with personal matters and have not had the time to Blog as often as I used to.

Ok, Back to topic…

The situation in Iraq is very precarious and confusing. It is a mix of the positive and the negative. Each day we hear about the capture and defeat of a terrorist cell only for another one to pop up and raise its ugly head. Just like the legendary ‘Hydra’ of Greek mythology, the only way to defeat this multi-headed terrorist animal is by striking at its body and cutting of its grass root support. This can only be done through a political process of reconciliation and good governance.

As many of you might remember, Last month I was very concerned about the proposed Sunni participation in writing the new Iraqi constitution, or (lack of) to be more precise. Fortunately, so were a lot of people, Condi Rice included. Enough pressure was put on the government and PM Al-ja3fary was forced to back down from these ridiculous demands. However, the story does not end there. It seams that the agreement to include the Sunnis in the constitution talks has come at a price. It is clear now that Iraq is heading inexorably towards a de-centralised Federal amalgamation of provinces each governed through regional governates.

I know that many of you wouldn't consider federalism to be such a bad thing; it is a system of governance that works very well in many countries around the world, Not least the United States. However IMO federalism in Iraq can only lead to regional corruption and local mini dictatorship. I think that the Major issue that must be addressed is the future power balance between the central government in Baghdad and the proposed Federal regions of Kurdistan, Southern Iraq, Central Iraq, and Western Iraq.

What worries me is that the general impression of the situation on the ground seems to point towards a drive by the Kurdish and Shi’a Blocks to maximise their power in their prospective regions in anticipation for de-centralised federalism in their regions that would leave the central government in Baghdad, to all sense and purposes, as a lame duck. This would also allow them to rule these regions in a quasi-authoritarian dictatorial manner with very little opposition from any democratic entities or even from a majority elected parliament in Baghdad.

This is already happening on the ground. Both the situation in the North (under the duopoly dictatorship) of the Kurdish parties KDP and PUK, and the monopoly of Al-Hakims ‘Bedr’ brigade control over the southern Iraqi cities, Are evidence of this drive to exorcise power from the centre and thus from the Iraqi citizens who were so brave to vote these parties into parliament on the 30 of January.

I think all this will play out over the next few months. I for one am looking forward to the next elections already. And I hope that such plans will be thwarted before they take hold and become constitutionally binding. Iraq must not be divided like this. Federalism under these circumstances will only breed corruption, nepotism, croynism, and red tape.

(Please read Iraqi Kurdistan's Blog for a taste of what’s going on in the Kurdish region under the KDP and PUK). (Also read In The Red Zone for an overview of the situation in the south).