After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Iraq:Five long years ... most of them in tears.

(Cross Posted to Global Voices Online)

For me the whole story of the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war can be summed up one post. One post that says nothing about the past five years but implies everything as well. We can talk about the lack of security, the number of deaths, the failure of the occupation, but all this talk has become as meaningless as glib phrases like "Collateral Damage." What really matters is how the war is affecting people's lives. Sunshine's life this week has been rocked by death threats against her father and the deaths of friends and neighbours. She writes of the thoughts and emotions that go through her mind:
we were threatened by terrorists who wanted to kill my dad, I spent the whole nights thinking, and crying, I was in shock, and terrified...I kept wondering with tears in my eyes, what will happen next? Will they Kill my dad? Kidnap one of my family members? Why ? we’re not rich, don’t belong to any political party, very simple family, and never harmed anyone, what do those terrorists want? Money? Or they just want to terrify us? ... I suffered from horrible headache and insomnia, I want my dad to see me publishing my first book, graduating from the best collage, being successful person in my life, and more important I want to be so nice to him and make him forget everything, every disparity we had, & every time we argued, I hope he’ll forget those memories.. and be proud of the girl he raised, although he tells me he’s proud but I want to make him even more prouder..

She concludes:
“X” sent me a message saying “ I lost my brother, my brother died” it’s devastating, there isn’t any family in Iraq who hasn’t been threatened, or lost a son, father, daughter, or a friend, there isn’t any family that didn’t see the house they live in damaged, we are all hurt, but we’ll continue praying to see a light at the end of this dark tunnel. In this week three big explosions happened near my school and the roads were blocked, and we hear explosions the whole time..
I don’t cry easily, but I spent those two weeks crying most of the time, I am depressed, terrified, sad, and in this moment I have no hope..

Five long years.....

most of them in tears..

so many have left Home...

the lucky reside in Tombs..

at least some still live

though without a Soul..

I wonder how much more to go?

would I be buried at Home?

by Zappy Corleone
The Good

Laith tries to list the good points of the new Iraq although his tongue may be firmly placed in his cheek on this one..
For this great anniversary, I want to count some great democratic changes that happened during the five years of freedom and democracy...

Reducing the CO2 and the other gases in Iraq. We have big fuel crisis and people couldn’t uses the kerosene heaters in winter and they cant use the propane gas all the time because of the big shortage and the high prices.

Reducing the casualties of the electrical shocks. The ministry of electricity supply most of the Iraqi governorates for less than three hours a day which forces the families to pay attention to every single ampere...

Most Iraqis became fit again and they started practicing compulsory the walking sport because either of the curfews or the sudden blocking of the streets. Now we have less angina pectoris or myocardial infarction.

Of course, I must not forget that these great changes would not be done without the big support of the US administration to the Iraqi government.

The Bad

You can find no better review of the last five years than from Last of Iraqis. He writes:
During these 5 years I have experienced everything, two of my relatives kidnapped, 6 of the people I know closely including relatives and close friends have been killed, I can't count the number of people that I know who were murdered, my niece who is 7 years old girl died in an explosion, most of my friends and relatives have left the country, I watched my teachers and college professors being killed or kidnapped one after the other, I have been near an explosion countless times, I have witnessed uncountable number of dead bodies and crying families taking their dead beloved from the forensic medicine building, I have seen 3 men at different times being shot to death in front of me, I have been through militias checkpoints several times. Me and my wife have been targeted by a national guard sniper for a reason I didn't know till this moment, I have seen dead bodies left on the side walk and no dares to bury them...

I'm just one Iraqi and I have such loses, imagine 28 million ones like me, how much looses does the Iraqis have?

Correspondent Hussain compares Iraq now to before the war. He summarises:
Shortly, in the last five years, Iraqi people get suffering more than the 24 years of those during Saddam’s regime. In the past, we have the mass graves hidden while nowadays we can see them in open streets. In the past we had Saddam and his security forces who caused that catastrophe while now we have the Qaeda , the gunmen, the guards of the foreign security companies and Iraqi officials , criminals and the USA troops who can cause death to anyone and anywhere in Iraq

Neurortic Iraq Wife remember relatives who argued in favour of the war five years ago and makes a statement to them and all the war's supporters:
Im just gonna say this to Ali and all the likes of Ali, especially Bush and rumsfield. I hope and pray to god that you will find forgiveness from all the women that got widowed. Forgiveness from all the children that got orphaned. Forgiveness from every Iraqi that suffered. Not only Iraqis, but all the soldiers that died. Died due to your selfishness. Its one thing to want freedom for Iraqis, its another thing to want people to die in the name of the so called freedom. Saddam was evil, But I never imagined that there were people as evil as he was. I guess I was wrong!

BlogIraqi measures the results of the war and comes to a conclusion:
Those five years were nothing but another episode of suffering. With some new types of suffering, I must admit. If we look into facts of what this war has accomplished in five years, and I mean the accomplishments to the simple Iraqi person who does not have "Democratic" dreams, you can simply say, NOTHING.

And Layla Anwar thinks that bloggers are secretly thinking that Saddam may not have been so bad after all. So she gives a few points in his favour:
Under the former dictatorship our trees were still producing fruits and not razed to the ground. Under the former dictatorship music was still allowed, so were films.

Under the former dictatorship we had no drugs,no poppy fields, no drug addicts and no drugs peddlers and traffickers. Under the former dictatorship we had no pedophile rings, no professional killers, no professional drillers and no professional rapists...

Under the former dictatorship, we had no over 100’000 detainees with no trial, no children sodomized in prisons and no women gang raped in exchange for freeing their loved ones...

Under the former dictatorship, our artists, poets, writers, singers, journalists (233 killed since 2003) were not abducted, kidnapped or assassinated...

Under the former dictatorship we had no 2 million widows, 5 million orphans, 4 million wounded, an X number of disappeared, we had no mass graves of a million plus murdered by Democracy.

Under the former dictatorship we were not considered the second most corrupt country in the world and the FIRST most dangerous country on earth...

Under the former dictatorship, we had a country called Iraq. Under the former dictatorship we had a Life. Under the former dictatorship, we were Free.

And to the Point

If you really want to know what happened, nadia n can tell you in one paragraph:
What the US did is not only overthrow Saddam—that’s a byproduct—it destroyed the Iraqi state, which is something that took eighty-five years to build, all of its institutions and everything. That was not all the product of Saddam. Saddam was a latecomer. What the United States did is destroy an entire state, entire infrastructure, all of the institutions, so that there, you know—so, of course, life was better when you had a system that was functioning.

As for the noise of all the Iraqi blogger still cheering the war on? You can just make out the sound of one hand clapping..

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Iraq: “it’s good it wasn’t a car bomb!”

(Cross Posted to Global Voices Online)

What better, after a short break, than to give my audience what they really want to read - words from the street in Baghdad and Mosul. And there is no better time as Chikitita is back blogging from Baghdad giving her impression of a city that she has been away from for many months and Neurotic Wife, takes a tour through the 'red zone'. While Baghdad Dentist returns to Mosul after a break in Baghdad and tells us about the difference.

IMG-0647_580x431.jpgBaghdad Central Train Station by Neurotic Wife
In Baghdad

They say Baghdad has become safer - almost back to normal. And in a way it is true but the issue is one of perception and it is all relative. Chikitita is back in Iraq, visiting her home. She writes:
I sensed some kind of progress in the air; a cab driving through a once Al-Qaida-infested area on its way to a still Badr-controlled one. Last time I was home, this was unheard of! I was amazed by the new changes; all checkpoints have tacky artificial plants as if to divert the beholders’ attention from the camouflage and rifles to the fact that the young servicemen mean no harm.

... As I was promised, ... a cruise across the Tigris. It was BREATH-TAKING! For the first time in my life, I was able to take pictures inside my city, on a boat though, pictures that scream I WAS IN BAGHDAD!

The last stop is my favourite place Kadhimiya marketplace, which seemed to have survived. No rip-offs, cheery faces and the good old Iraqi spirit seem to be buzzing with life.

IMG-0661_580x431.jpgSaddam's Mosque in Mansour (still standing) by Neurotic Wife
But after a few days the reality strikes her:
I seemed to have counted my chickens way too early in my previous post. A fellow commuter, barely catching his breath and checking his trousers for traces of dust, said he survived a bombing by a miracle... the IED tore through the very same childhood neighbourhood of mine. What confused me about this young commuter was the fact that he was smiling as he was running at full speed to catch the bus and his funny comment “it’s good it wasn’t a car bomb!” Aren’t we lucky!

Neurotic Wife leaves the Green Zone to take a rare drive through the streets of Baghdad and goes out for a meal in a local restuarant. She says:
That place was crammed. People were coming in and then leaving because there arent any free tables around. I looked at the people, they were happy people. Young ladies dressed in the latest fashion with make up, large fashionable sun glasses over their heads shielding the hairs from their eyes and large hoop earrings dangling from their ears. Everything and everyone around me looked so colourful, so lively. And most importantly, so NORMAL!!!

I had the urge of taking my cam out and snap hundreds upon hundreds of pictures. I wanted everyone in the world to see that no matter what happens to Iraq, the rockets, the bombings, the assassinations, the kidnappings, there is Always Life. ALWAYS.

IMG-0726_580x431.jpgSome shops in Baghdad by Neurotic Wife
Maybe one of the reasons for the glowing reports of stability in Baghdad come from the wishful thinking of its residents. Chikitita, having seen the world outside of Baghdad, looks at her friend's optimism in a new light. She writes:
I have ceased to look at bright sides in Iraq and given up hope on positive changes, but [my friend] hasn’t. She was so eager to show me life through her eyes, just anything that could give me a false sense of peace and co-existence. She failed. She was right about shops opening after 5:00 p.m., but they close down at 7:00, I couldn’t see any progress there... mosques are still protected by barbed wires, a proof of ongoing mistrust. I heard commuters exchange sectarian insults with each other, not a good sign either and it was her own mother who told me about a private school for girls next door that received threats by militias to expel the qualified senior male teachers or else they blow up the whole school premises.

And Mosul

Baghdad Dentist returns to work in Mosul after a holiday at home in Baghdad. He gives a picture of life for the single young professional in that city:
it's too dangerous to live in my home because when the national guards or the american soldiers find a young man living alone he'll be considered as a terrorist and will be detained. ... [my] neighbours were afraid and hesitated to talk about the situation and they didnt give me a clear answer . ...

i met my friends whom i missed and new rotator dentists were there ... by night we were laughing and chatting and the sleeping song was 3 blasts and some shooting. ... Friday, the alarm was a horrible sound of explosion that woke us up and we were looking at each other to check if some one was injured.

Even the universities and the students cannot escape the violence in that city. Aunt Najma writes:
Today the situation was tense, there was an assassination attempt to kill the university's vice president, and there were many security measurements inside the university.

We discovered today that a dear classmate, M, was shot few days ago. They told me it hit him in the leg and he's okay. I was shocked to hear the news, nobody has told us, as if we do not care.

IMG-0741_580x431.jpgToys in a shop window by Neurotic Wife
And finally:

Even if you are stuck at home Marshmallow26 finds a way travel the world from her armchair in Baghdad:
Yes, I was sitting on my chair, enjoying the delicious flavor of my red apple. I visited Austria - Pfaenderhang, Japan, antique shop in Europe. super market at night, and a city square do not know even where...

Every thing is possible when it comes to Google search, I was reading in one of the technological websites, and found a trick word, a mantra that you write in Google's search bar and you get all live cameras around the world...the word is: liveapplet.

You get to see airports, metros, New York times square, factories, Zoos, and you get the picture!

Although I have not been on a plane nor to any other country except Syria, I feel as if I went to all those places which I searched through Google...I always say it, I LOVE TECHNOLOGY.

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