Free Iraqi

I was not living before the 9th of April and now I am, so let me speak!

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The best Eid I ever had.

Last night I couldn't sleep well. I was so excited and I wanted to be at the voting center before it even opens its door. I was afraid that I was going to be among a minority who are going to vote, but I was still very happy for rather a different reason. It's that just as I care about the outcome of this election and that democracy would work in Iraq, I cared no less about voting on a personal level. This was my way to stand against those who humiliated me, my family and my friends. It was my way of saying," You're history and you don't scare me anymore". It was my way to scream in the face of all tyrants, not just Saddam and his Ba'athists and tell them, "I don't want to be your, or anyone's slave. You have kept me in your jail all my life but you never owned my soul". It was my way of finally facing my fears and finding my courage and my humanity again.I slept really late but I woke up at 6.30. I shaved (I do this once every century) and dressed as I was going to a party. The phone rang and I let it ring for a while before I answered. "Hey Ba'athist! Why are you still asleep? Why not go and vote?" a friend's voice came through teasing me. I tried to see if anyone started voting already so I turned on the TV and saw that few people have already done that but the reports were not very encouraging. I heard some explosions and gun shots. Some were far and some were near. I turned on the computer, made a post and checked the news.My sister who's staying with us together with her husband and their one and a half year old son, "Mohammed", called on me to have breakfast. As I was sipping my tea I was surprised when my mother came back telling us she already voted! I envied her but I had changed my mind on rushing to vote. I decided instead to enjoy these moments to the last. I got out walked to the voting center like I was taking a walk in a park or on the bank of the river. As I got out it was still early and I saw no one on the streets but as I got near to the voting center I started seeing people in groups heading the same way. Most of them were women. I saw a crippled man and my old neighbor and his older wife leaning on their walking sticks going to vote. An old woman cleaning her door step stopped me, "Say son, can I go and vote?" She asked after she saw many people going to vote. "Sure Khala (aunt)! Everyone can". She thanked me and went inside apparently to change and get her IDs.The voting center that was chosen in our district is a high school in the middle of the Neighborhood . This was the same place I went in 1996 to cast my vote in a poll asking if we wanted to have Saddam as a president for life or not. I had to go at that time. The threats for anyone who refused to take that poll were no less than the death penalty. Still our district was one of the places were one could vote secretly, occasionally though. They trusted our neighborhood because it's mainly Sunni military officers who live here with their families. I and some of my friends chose "NO" but we were scared to death as we marked the paper and remained so for days.This time we went by choice and the threat was exactly the opposite. As I was walking with many people towards the center explosion hit and gun fire were heard but most were not that close. People didn't seem to pay attention to that. Some of them even brought their little kids with them! It's like the Eid but only a thousand times better.I entered the school and the supervisors showed me the way to were I should vote. They and the ING guys were so polite and gentle. I cast my vote and got out, not in a rush at all. This is my Eid and I felt like a king walking in his own kingdom. I saw the same look of confidence and satisfaction in the eyes of all people I met. As I left one of the gurads said to me as he handed me back my cellular phone,"God bless you and your beloved ones. We don't know how to thank you. Please excuse any inconvinience on our part. We wish we didn't have to search you or limit your freedom. You are heroes" I was struck with surprise and felt ashamed. This man was risking his life all these hours in what has become the utmost target for all terrorists in Iraq and yet he's apologizing and calling us heroes. I thanked him back and told him that he and his comrads are the true heroes and that we can never be grateful enough for their services.I'm still thrilled as I'm watching Iraqis vote allover Iraq through TV. Al Arabyia just reported that 6 thousand people in Fallujah have voted till now out of 60 thousands who have returned to their homes (total not voters). I listened to that and I felt enormous admiration and respect to those 6 thousand heroes. Things are difficult in Baghdad but it's still incomparable to Fallujah. I'm sure that the number will rise towards the end of the day.I'm stil overwhelmed with thoughts and emotions that I don't know what to say more. The only things I can feel so strongly now are hope, excitement, pride and a strange internal peace. I have won my battle and I'm watching the whole Iraqis winning their battle too. I'll try to write to you later my friends.A'ash Al Iraq, A'ashat America, A'ash Al Tahaluf. (Long live Iraq, long live America and long live the coalition)

I'm about to go to the voting center to cast my vote and I thought I should post few words to thank all my friends, the readers of this blog for their support and love for me, my brothers and all Iraqis. There was some fire exchange early this morning and American helicopters were patroling the sky above my head but now it seems quite. I turned on TV to see if there was any coverage but no Arab channel is reporting yet.Al Sharqyia is broadcasting live from a voting center obviously in the Green Zone where Ghazi Al Yawi voted and gave a short speech to the reporters there. He wasn't the first one to cast his vote as Al Sharqyia reporter expected which actually was better in my mind. He's just an Iraqi like all of us and there's no need to give him such a priviliage.I hope I'll be able to post after voting and I'll keep you updated. Thanks again for your care and may God bless you all and give you a hundred times what you have gave Iraq. I know it seems impossible when it comes to those who lost their beloved ones but I hope they know that their sacrifices were not in vain and that they gave humanity the most precious thing a man has, his life.I fear only one thing and that is that only small percentage of Iraqis vote. I hope and expect the opposite but as I said before everyone has been speaking on behalf of Iraqis for a long time and therfore it's very difficult to tell what they are going to do. I trust that my people want freedom and democracy but I fear that it's the difficult security that may keep them inside their houses. This is all my concerns now about the elections and I hope that the majority of Iraqis overcome their fears and say their word, and then all the reporters, experts, activists and politicians can do is listen.

Saturday, January 29, 2005


Less than a day before I get to vote for the first time in real elections. One that I chose to participate in and that I've dreamed about for such a long time. In general the process of elections itself looked silly for me when I watched it happening in democratic countries through TV. I thought that these people standing in lines were partisans who just wanted their people to win while those who chose not to vote seemed more independent to me! This is despite that I've always believed in democracy. I guess it has something to do with one's ego and false sense of superiority. You know, feeling that you're above the masses of dull partisan people who vote and kill themselves defending a party or a person without really knowing most of the times what are they voting for.Such kind of voting happens everywhere and it's going to happen in Iraq as well. I've heard many people saying they'll vote for this person or that party just because they like this person or someone on that party. It's like cheering for a certain football team just because you like one player in that team. And while cheering in sports is usually harmless, it can lead to serious consequences in politics.Still and with all this skepticism, I'm going to vote and I don't care if it means risking my life and I don't even care that much how the end results are going to be, not now! The reason that is pushing a cynic with a strong sense of individuality like me to join the "dull masses'' and to stop being the "black sheep" for a moment is not so hard to understand.All my life like all Iraqis, I was not in control of my life. I started looking to myself as a humanist many years ago. Maybe it's because I lost belief in my government and even sometimes in my country and my people. My country was just a stupid large piece of dirt that meant nothing and offered nothing to me but suffering and humiliation. I decided many times to leave my country although it was risky as doctors were not allowed to travel outside Iraq except for minor exceptions. I decided to search for a better living outside that hell of a country and away from any tyranny and on one occasion I even got a faked passport and was about to leave when I changed my mind at the last moment. I asked myself how could I call myself a humanist when I run away from my responsibilities towards my fellow humans (not Iraqis) when things get tough. And if I run away and all those who care and who long for a change do the same, who's going to stay and at least try to make the change. I saw that I was being a hypocrite by trying to leave Iraq. I decided that this piece of dirt is my home not because I was born in it but because I can be more useful to humanity here.Now, and thanks to other humans, not from my area, religion and who don't even speak my language, I and all Iraqis have the real chance to make the change. Now I OWN my home and I can decide who's going to run things in it and how and I won't waste that chance. Tomorrow as I cast my vote, I'll regain my home. I'll regain my humanity and my dignity, as I stand and fulfill part of my responsibilities to this part of the large brotherhood of humanity. Tomorrow I'll say I'M IRAQI AND I'M PROUD, as being Iraqi this time bears a different meaning in my mind. It's being an active and good part of humanity. Tomorrow I and the Iraqis that are going to vote will rule, not the politicians we're going to vote for, as it's our decision and they'll work for us this time and if we don't like them we'll kick them out! Tomorrow my heart will race my hand to the box. Tomorrow I'll race even the sun to the voting centre, my Ka'aba and my Mecca. I'm so excited and so happy that I can't even feel the fear I though I would have at this time.I can't wait until tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Sistani's blessings.

At last Sistani decided to give his "blessings" publicly to the United Iraqi Alliance list that contains the most of the religious She'at parties together with the INC and some small minority parties. Sistani cleared this issue on answering questions submitted by the Arabic newspaper Al Ra'ai Al Am (Link in Arabic). He mentioned that although he blesses the Alliance list, he still support all the patriotic lists.This statement ended a debate here that took weeks between the supporters of the aforementioned list and other parties and Iraqi people in general. Most secular She'at that I know denied constantly that Sistani is supporting a certain list and not only that, they confirmed their total trust in Sistani's neutral stand in this election and that he would never take such a stand that takes him down from being a spiritual father of all She'at and all Iraq as they wish to just a God father of one group that no matter how large does not represent all She'at and certainly not even the majority of Iraq.When I used to tell my She'at friends that Sistani is actually doing that but he can't say it in public, most of them were annoyed and thought I was just being Sunni. However Sistani has finally made this daring and questionable move that even skeptics like me didn't think he would do. Sistani presented with his statement some unconvincing excuses for his attitude saying that he supports this list only because he knows more about it! I believe that the "Marjiyia" committed a bad mistake here that would create further conflict (on the short term) among She'at but one that will also harm the "Marjiyia's" influence itself and benefit Iraq on the long term.Sistani has constantly tried since the end of the war to present himself as a spiritual leader of not only the She'at but also all Iraqis. He has made some good steps in approaching Sunni religious leaders, Christians and other minorities, and frankly the man is respected by the majority of Iraqis for his moderate stand and his efforts and contributions to peace in Iraq. As for She'at Sistani and the Marjiyia in general were always a symbol and a place to which they all return for strength and advice in religious as well as other life issues. Secular She'at were not very different from this and this is not very strange, as She'at have been oppressed for such a long time and they were deprived of many privileges, certain jobs and higher positions generally just because they were She'at and it didn't matter much to their oppressors whether they were secular or practicing She'at. This made She'at stick together and follow to variable degrees their religious leadership. They see themselves as one entity more than Sunnis because of all the disasters and hardships that they went through together and this seem to be the strongest tie that brings people together everywhere. Being a She'at thus is a matter of identity rather than a religious belief.Today there seems to be a difference though. Secular She'at feel more safe than ever and seem to be able to chose their own path with or without the guidance of the marjiyia. This happened only in the 50s at the golden times for Iraqi communists and now it's happening again as She'at see themselves as the majority in a situation were majority counts for the first time in Iraq. They are not that afraid of Sunni or Kurdish groups but they still have some worries which caused them to keep very friendly ties with the religious part of the She'at community.Such secular parties as Allawi's list hoped that Sistani would maintain his neutral attitude that would bring She'at closer to each other regardless of their ideological belief. And while Sistani's main goal seems, as he said more than once, to avoid the wasting of She'at votes if these votes go in different directions, he has only managed to do the opposite in such statement. He has weakened his position by drawing a line that is going to drive secular She'at away from him and thus weakens his institution's power and influence. The United alliance will most likely get more votes as a result of this blessing but the Marjiyia will somewhat isolate itself to a certain degree from other She'at powers and this will certainly weaken all She'at religious parties that get a lot of their influence from the strength of the Marjiyia.As the election gets near and according to most polls and what I hear from people here it seems that she'at votes are going to be divided mainly among 3 major parties; the United Iraqi alliance that seems ahead of the rest to some degree, the Iraqi list (Allawi) and the communist party (The People's Union list) that follow with the communists seemingly more favorable than Allawi. I put the Communist party in this category because most of its members and supporters are She'at and Kurds and since it's a large party and the oldest in the arena it's expected to attract many She'at voters.The issue of Share'a law imposed remains totally impossible as it would not be agreed on by the secular She'at parties not to mention the non-She'at powers. What remains to say is that the fact the major She'at religious parties found it necessary for them to group together and to seek the blessings of Sistani despite their individual greed show only their awareness of their own weakness and the general dislike Iraqis have towards clerics interference in politics. This made them go back and ask for the support of Sistani which as I said is thought by them to give them more support based on identity bound rather than a religious one. The loss of the marjiyia would be more obvious when we put in mind the serious accusations that Allawi's list has been exchanging with the United alliance list, as now Sistani has put himself in confrontation with other She'at parties that are competing in the elections. He has become a foe more than a God father to the She'at outside the "blessed" list. In my mind this is a good thing for the She'at to look for their own path away from any custody or guidance and it's therefore good for Iraq.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Should we be grateful to the doctors?

According to this guy Iraqis in general should not be grateful to Americas otherwise they're traitors or they have their own agenda. His whole argument brought to my mind this story that I read about recently in Al Bayan newspaper (link in Arabic):"Young Iraqi man get treated in Israel from a heart disease."According to An Israeli newspaper reported that a young Iraqi from Kirkuk had a successful heart surgery in a hospital in Bateh Takfa(sp?). The family of the young man said that they could not afford the expenses of the surgery and so went to a humanitarian aid that arranged for their son to be transferred and treated in Israel for free."I never believed that I'd visit Israel one day" said the young man, "I'll tell everyone in my town about the goodness of the people of Israel. I have no more words but to thank the Israeli doctors"How dare he seek the help of the Zionists to save his life! I'm sure the terrorists (err, the freedom fighters) will deal with him when he returns, and when he get killed I hope the Israeli doctors feel proud for jeopardizing this young man's life. The strangest thing is that he's grateful! I'm confused as what are his motives and why he's so thrilled about this! Hmmm, I don't want to judge him but he seems to have an agenda of his own, otherwise why did he chose Israel to be treated in among all his enormous options?! He could've waited for an offer from France for example! It isn't like his case was that urgent!I mean this young man's story is very similar to to the story of all Iraq. We were all dying before the Americans came and saved us from the chronic lethal disease that Saddam was. Now that we have a new real life we are faced with serious dangers everyday by those who refuse to see us enjoy such a life. Should we be grateful to the 'doctors' or not? I guess the young man has the answer.And finally I'd like to say to all those who attack me and my brothers that I'm sorry I won't be able to debate with you from now on, as I'm in the middle of a big conspiracy that should end in the toppling of the Iraqi president (oops did it again! meant Allawi the puppet) and replace him with another puppet. You know, puppets are all kind of "made in Hong Kong" these days and they need to be replaced every now and then to keep things going.Talk to ya later mate (you can't judge me on this one, can you?) I'm done talking, as I'm preparing for a campaign and I intend to LIVE and I intend to vote.

Arthur Chrenkoff has some interesting and telling statistics.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Polls talk.

In a latest poll (link in Arabic) done by an Iraqi centre for research and on the ground studies "Al Mada", 300 men and women were selected from different age groups, classes and jobs to answer series of questions regarding the upcoming elections, and the main results were:67% do not support postponing the elections.52% refuse the interference of clerics in politics and 39% support such interference.100% of women in Azzamyia favored postponing the elections while 93.5% of the women in Sadr city favored that it would be held at the exact decided time.85.66% have set up their minds on whom to vote for.59.33% have no knowledge about the details of the election process, the lists of candidates and their platforms.The poll included the poor Shi'at district Sadr city.- Azzamyia district, where most of the residents are Sunni middle class families and was known since the 60s to be a stronghold for the Ba'athists.-Karrada which is mainly middle and high class She'at district.-Al Mansoor which is on of the fanciest neighborhood in Baghdad (sects, religions and ethnic group doesn't matter much there).Other chosen districts were Al Doura, Al Karkh and Al Fadl.Al Mansoor scored the highest percentage of people who have set up their minds on whom to vote, (87.94%) while the lowest was in Azzamyia, (13.15) and Sadr city scored 39.47%.Azzamiya scored the highest percentage of those who favor the interference of clerics in politics (63%) while the lowest percentage was in Mansoor (21%)Men scored the highest percentage in supporting separation of religion from politics. 57% of them said they didn't favor the interference of clerics in politics.On the other hand 43% of women said they didn't favor the interference of clerics in politics compared to 46% who favored such interference.So, if we depend on this poll (why not since whenever we open our mouths to say that Iraqis want democracy, some big hot shot scream, "BUT THE POLLS SAY THE OPPOSITE") the majority wants the election to be held at the exact time. The majority don't know much about the election process and the majority want the clerics to stay out of politics (note that most of the women who favored the interference of clerics in politics were from the Sunni district Azzamyia which makes their stand negligible since there are no Sunni clerics running for office and since most of the fears are from She'at clergy, as Sunnis are a minority anyway and it won't harm a lot if Sunni clerics get some representation).All in all the poll showed many encouraging results and among those I was more encouraged by the fact that many people have decided whom to vote while the low percentage in Azzamyia was not surprising in this field, as no one expects many people there would vote, but the lower percentage of the people who had setup their minds in Sadr city is actually encouraging because it indicates among other things that poor She'at are not necessarily going to vote for the list that Sistani favors and showed his support for, or for Sadr followers' list. These people want to decide on their own and don't seem to be impressed by Sadr or even Sistani!So lets leave polls speak for now and wait for the 30th of January as then we won't need my poll or others' polls. We'll just listen to the Iraqi people as they speak for the first time in their lives.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I feel I should give my opinion on the NY times article about me and Iraq the Model that has created some variable reactions on the blogosphere. The article was, despite Ms Boxer's kindness, a bad piece of journalism. I had around 45 minutes long phone call with the reporter about my journey with Iraq the Model, my new site, the elections, the general situation here in Baghdad but she (or the paper) seems to have a certain agenda and managed to change the whole issue into a very silly gossip (going as far as quoting trolls!) that is way beneath any respectable paper and certainly beneath me so I won't give it more attention but lesson learned and I won't make the mistake of talking to anyone from the NY times again. It's important to note though that my feelings of respect, gratitude and love for the American people have never and will never change.Also before I turn to discuss more important issues that I created this site for, I'd like to ask the people who are coming from the site of the very informed Dr. Cole a favor. Can you please ask him to show us his sources (regarding the Fallujah myth) that he consider superior to mine? The funny thing is that he links to my site but continue to ignore linking to Iraq the Model! Maybe he thinks I'm on his side now? I'm sorry, I've changed my mind a bit but not to the degree of standing against America and my own country! Also he seems to not remember that it was me who pointed his little 'slip' about Fallujah, not my brothers, and the fact that he insist on this issue can only turn his slip into * gasp* a lie? Now could it be possible that higher beings like Dr. Cole are actually capable of lying!? I hope not but I won't hold my breath waiting for him to show us his credible sources.

Monday, January 17, 2005

I appreciate the feedback that I get from you through the comments and mails and I apologize if I couldn't reply to all of them but please keep them coming, as your responses always inspire me to go on and they do enrich the discussion. Meanwhile here are some good news from Iraq by the very hard working Arthur Chrenkoff.

The situation in Baghdad remains the same, meaning full of anticipation and worries mixed with great hopes. The fuel and electricity crisis are still the same with no improvement at all. The streets are getting filled day by day with signs encouraging people to vote for this party or that, most of the times with no names at all. Just a name and the number of the list with some phrases that shortly describe that list. The signs also varied in their quality from the expensive highly attractive ones for the major parties to the simple peaces of textile with the slogans of the party and the number written in large letters for the smaller parties.I've been hearing less gun shots and explosions lately and I think that's due to two reasons. First the ING and IP have spread all over Baghdad lately with only few hundred meters separating checkpoints in some places. The other possible reason is that the terrorists are probably saving their efforts to the election day and there are many reports that show that they are planning for a wide scale sophisticated and coordinated attacks. I must say that this is highly expected and I would never believe that the Ba'athists and Islamists funded and aided by the intelligence of many Arab and Muslim countries would let the election day pass peacefully.I'm more than sure they are planning for some serious attacks on that day and it's not going to be like Afghanistan where there were only few attacks on few voting centers. The stakes are too high for them just as they are for us. We've been waiting for the moment when we can decide our future all our lives and now it's happening and I can't tell you how excited that makes me and all freedom loving Iraqis. I feel like after voting I would not care what would happen to me. I would say my word, voice my will loud and clear in public for the first time in my life and that means almost everything to me. The terrorist can kill me and many of the Iraqis who are going to vote, but we would die proud. We will regain our self esteem and our pride that Saddam and his thugs took away by humiliating us, torturing and killing our friends and beloved ones infront of our eyes and then spitting in our faces after that, and all we could do was what we had to do to avoid more death and torture, we could only praise them after each murder and each crime. It made us hate ourselves and the whole world, lose our trust in everyone and just keep living a life that was worse than death but one that we still couldn't sacrifice for a good cause fearing for our families fate after our death.This horror, fear, hate and loss of trus is gone now but not entirely. We still feel it and they still remind us with it every day with every beheading and every murder they commit against those who actively try to change things in Iraq for the better. We feel it with various degrees, and for some of us it's turned into an additional motive to fight these thugs and to refuse a life like that even if the only other option is death. I don't want to live like that again, NEVER, and for that reason I'm going to vote and for the same reason I know that so many Iraqis are going to vote and let the terrorists show us the best they can do, as it won't stop us.Nevertheless there are many Iraqis who are still trapped in that circle of fear and hate. They need time, understanding, care and they need someone to show them another way, another option and a reason to take the risk for and a vision for a better future. They need someone to lead and show them again an example of what courage and self respect mean and how it can make your life, and even your death have a very different and a much more honorable meaning. I plan to be one of those who will lead but I know, happily, that I will be only one in a crowd.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Why America is safe now.

Back at Iraq the model I wrote once about the changing priorities for the terrorists. I expected that there would be no attack on America before the American elections and that the attacks would be focused mainly on Iraqi civilians and American soldiers and civilians in Iraq. Now I see that I was partially wrong. No attacks happened in America and attacks increased on American soldiers and Iraqi civilians in Iraq, that was true, but what was wrong is that attacks on America not are only unexpected before the American elections but they are unexpected at all!

Yes America is probably the safest country in the world when it comes to terrorist attacks. Anyone who watched Bin Laden's message just before the American elections should've noted a difference in the terrorists' God father's attitude. I must admit I didn't see what it actually was at that time, as my mind was focused on its relation to the elections only and I couldn't think further than that. Now I can see that that speech determined a difference in the whole strategy of the terrorists towards America, and that that change was not dictated by a short term issue like the American elections but rather by the whole strategy of America towards the ME. Bin Laden has always referred to American people as an "evil" nation that is directly responsible for its government "crimes" and thus deserves an equal punishment. In the speech before the elections Bin Laden and for the first time recognized two Americas; one that is "evil" and which was going to vote for Bush and thus makes itself subject for attacks and one that's innocent (not voting for Bush) and is going to be safe. That statement declared Bin Laden's loss of initiative, and I'll try to explain my theory.

Every terrorist or radical group or organization starts as an independent one but as it grows its responsibilities as well as its enemies grow too. This growing financial and political responsibilities force this group to seek the help of a larger entity, usually a neighboring dictatorship. Some examples are Hizbollah with Syria and Iran, Hamas with Syria, most Arab nations Iran and Saddam previously, PLO with Syria, most Arab nations, Saddam' Iraq and Nassir's Egypt. Each of these dictatorships while fighting terrorism on its land can afford and would benefit from supporting terrorism outside and use it as a tool to pressure someone or to do its dirty work. Such protection while offer the terrorist group a much needed support that keep it alive and functioning does at the same time limit its options and restrict its fields of operations and cause it to mimic to a great degree the ones of the supporting government(s). Plus it does affect its popular support in a negative way.

In Iraq the agenda of the Arab and Muslim dictators came to lie in Parallel with that of Bin Laden. He found himself in great need for their support in order to fight the "infidels" in Iraq and they found him useful to hinder America's plans there. This makes the question about America's security on its own land not what the terrorists want, but rather what those dictatorships want. Any attack on the American soil will only result in the American people asking for justice and favoring an operation similar to what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is what the American administration wish for but can't find the necessary support inside and outside America. The reaction of the international community would be not very important at such circumstances, but America is expected to get some good support if it's attacked again. Now the terrorist are stupid and insane people, but their leaders and most importantly their financier are not that stupid when it comes to risking their power and control over their countries. So if the terrorist decide to act alone they would not only lose the support of these dictatorships but also would risk that those regimes might well, hunt them down in their countries and hand all the info they have about the terrorist to America just to prove their innocence and avoid a very probable serious American strike.

Bin Laden realized that his hands are cuffed now and he has lost the initiative and thus came his reactionary speech just before the elections in trying to retrieve some initiative or to excuse his cowardice for other Muslims who might still support him, saying that he's not Attacking America because now there are two Americas and one of them is friendly! All he could do and all he can do as long as he's depending on Arab governments in his finance and logistic support is to keep threatining America but he knows that he can never turn these threats into asctions. This makes Bush's repeated statements that American troops are in Iraq to fight terrorism so that Americans won't have to fight it in America very true with only slight error.

American troops are actually fighting dictatorship now in Iraq and terrorism has become just a tool in a war that was directed against it in the first place. Once America leave Iraq without finishing the job, the war would stop being a war on dictatorship and would be again a WoT with the difference that it would be a war against a phenomena rather than its origin. The terrorists would be free to attack America again, as Arab and Muslim dictators won't fear a military strike similar to what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan after seeing America recognize Iraq war as a mistake.

The remaining question is, what are the intentions of the American administration? There seems to be two possible options: one is continue the fight in Iraq for few more years and the other is to transfer the battle soon after the elections to another base for terrorism in the ME ( as I mentioned in a previous post). The first means more loss for America in term of lives of soldiers and money, it's good for America's safety for as long as the battle continues but it's bad for Iraq and would make America lose most of her Allies there. Besides it is not realistic to expect that the battle in Iraq is going to defeat terrorism for good and future plans are still needed. The other option means probably even more sacrifices in both lives and money but would be good for Iraq, leave a friendly government and nation there and it's also good for America's safety and interests on the long term.

If I were an American I would never worry about a terrorist attack on America as long as American troops are in Iraq. I'd rather worry about my government plans about the future of this war. The presence of American troops in the ME is needed until all dictatorships fall with force or without it and this will declare the end of both wars.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Elections and related fears.

One day and as I was getting back home from work I saw some people gathering on the road. Abu Ahmed (a taxi driver I usually go with. He's an old religious She'at with a scarf on his head all the time) slowed down to see what it was and we saw some guy arguing angrily with a police officer who was apparently issuing a ticket for him. The guy was shouting madly and people were trying to calm him. The poor policeman seemed afraid. Such scenes are not uncommon these days and at certain occasions policemen were actually beaten at the hands of some nasty drivers and they didn't dare to use force! It was an annoying scene to me and to Abu Ahmed who shook his head with an unsatisfied look on his face and said, "When are we going to learn how to live in order?""I think the police need to be more firm. This man is not only defying a policeman. He's defying the law represented by him" I said."Yes, but you know how some people would answer this. Every time I say the word "law" someone answers me, "What law?? There's no law and no government!""You're right""I hope things will change for the better after the elections" He said"Yes I hope so too. Who are you going to vote for by the way?""I want to vote, but I don't know who to vote for. I don't know most of the parties""I know, but right now, who are the best candidate in your mind?""Allawi is good. He's like Saddam but he's good""What does that mean??""I mean he's tough but he's only tough with the bad guys""Ok I see what you mean""Al Ja'afary is good too, but I didn't like his attitude when this Sadr issue started. He should have shown more determination"(He means the head of Al Da'awa Islamic party)"Yes but we are not going to vote for a president this time" I said."huh, then for what uncle?"I explained to him as briefly as I could and he showed his disappointment in "the government" for not paying more effort to instruct the people about the elections and again I corrected him saying that it's not the government responsibility but the "independent electoral commission" "Whoever it is!" He replied.I mentioned this incident because what I want to say is that many people want to vote because they believe this election will make their life better. Some people really believe that out of thinking about it deeply and others believe it just because they hear it all the time in Radio, TV and see it on the signs on the streets. It's similar to the way Iraqis were waiting anxiously for the authority hand over. Many Iraqi believed at that time that a government would be the answer to all our problems.One fear from the results of the upcoming elections is that it's going to lead to the domination of the She'at clergy and thus to a theocracy similar to that in Iran. And there are so many flaws about this theory.First, She'at represent approximately 60% of Iraqis and even with the majority of Sunni not voting the percentage wouldn't rise to more than 70% at most, as there are some She'at groups who won't vote like Al Hasani followers (the latter is a cleric who claim he has contact with the 12th absent She'at Imam Al Mahdi in his dreams and has some supporters in Diwania and Basra). Also such theory should mean that at least 90% of the She'at will vote for the Islamic parties, which is not realistic at all. We have some really strong and old parties that are secular but with a majority of their members and supporters being She'at. One example is the "Iraqi Communist party" which is the oldest one in the political arena and despite all the massacres committed by Saddam against the communists in the early 70s they still have the largest number of registered members among all political Iraqi parties, 69 000 members. Another one is the "Iraqi National Accord" which although not that old and has many ex-Ba'athists in it who ran away from Saddam for one reason or another, this party had gathered some good number of supporters solely due to Allawi's performance in the government.This point is true despite that it's strange, as most Iraqis are not satisfied in general with the interim government performance and think it's corrupted to a great extent, but they still like Allawi! I think this can be explained this way; the situation is difficult so who can we blame but the government! Still when Allawi shows on TV, one cannot but try to compare him with Saddam, the only ruler many Iraqis knew all their lives, and in such comparison Allawi, looks like a saint, and still can show that he's articulate and firm.Finally, even if the religious She'at parties get their desired majority somehow, when it comes to the constitution they still need the approval of the absolute majority of Iraqis for their Share'a to be the core of the constitution. Something that I believe every one with some brains would find impossible to happen.The thing is that for She'at or Sunni, most of the time it's not about religion. It's more about the identity of the leader. The She'at in the beginning were satisfied with Allawi being in charge because he's a She'at and that's all. They have been dreaming of this for a long time and now it's coming true. It doesn't matter a lot what's his political stand is as long as he's She'at.Another fear is that the elections results might cause a civil war. This is so against reason. As what result would cause that? If the She'at get the majority would that upset some radical Sunnis? But that's already happening now and it's expected! Besides, the parts of Sunnis who are boycotting the elections now are already fighting, as they know the result in advance and they're trying to prevent it.The only result that could really lead to a civil war is if the She'at do not get the majority they deserve, but we all know that's not going to happen.I was yesterday in one of my friend's house and his father, a secular She'at who drinks and think that the worst people on earth are the She'at clerics was talking on the phone next to me. He was saying thing like "Sistani" and "slaughter" and when he finished I asked him what that was. He told me that his friend told him that some She'at men went to Sistani complaining and saying that they're being killed just because they are She'at and that he should do something about it, but Sistani answered them saying, "If they level a whole city with the ground don't respond!". It's unfortunate that many She'at still look at the extreme Wahabies as Sunni, but luckily most of their religious leaders are not very stupid.My friends' father was praising Sistani saying he's a sane man who's trying to avoid blood shed. I agree with that but I think it has more to it than just being worried about blood shed. I think that She'at clerics are waiting impatiently for the elections thinking that it will lead to a decisive win for the She'at for the first time in history (and it will) and this is obvious from the effort they are doing to encourage people to vote. The Hawza (the main Religious school for She'at in Iraq and the world) is closed temporarily so that its student can have more time on 'educating' people and encouraging them to vote. The only thing that might lead to a civil war is that if the Shea't main religious leaders lose their sanity totally and the only thing that could cause that is if the She'at do not get the majority in the upcoming elections or if the elections get postponed. Now will the She'at clerics be mad if the She'at achieve the majority through secular parties and not religious ones? Maybe, but they won't find enough people among She'at to support them if they think of something crazy.Note: This article was published in the Italian newspaper "Libero" (subscription required)

Monday, January 10, 2005

No that's not me who's mentioned in the Guardian as their film maker in Iraq. "Ali" and "Fadhil" are both common names in Iraq, but I too found it interesting that this guy has the same name, job and interest in covering events in Iraq. I must say though that I found his report biased and I didn't like it at all that he seeked the protection of a terrorist group just to make his film. That was not bravery, it's closer to cowardice. A brave reporter would be any one who go to a hot area without the blessings of any terrorist group (except French reporters, as they have sort of a long term blessings from higher authorities).

What after the elections?

Amid all the expectations and fears about the upcoming elections in Iraq, one cannot but ask, "What if the election worked but the violence persisted? Then what? What are we going to do after that?"Some people think the elections will answer all these questions while others think it won't change anything and that the war against terror in Iraq is lost anyway. This piece at Andrew Sullivan's is a good example of the perspective of those who think the war is lost and I can't help but offer "my two cents".Sullivan has been arguing for a long time that more troops are needed in Iraq to win this war against the "insurgency". I must admit that so many times I found myself agreeing with him on this issue. I don't believe that he believes this war is lost but I think he's just too frustrated because he really wants it to work and he can't see it working this way, meaning the way the American administration is handling it. I couldn't, however, demand the same as I'm Iraqi and I feel it's not my right to ask people to sacrifice more so that I can live free. But I thought since it's what I believe it should be done even if I were an outsider then I should say it.I do not agree with the whole analysis that Sullivan linked to, especially the conclusion, but I also believe that Iraq's problems won't be solved simply after the elections. It will have a good impact for sure but won't end the struggle. So the question remains, "how to defeat the terrorists in Iraq".I think part of the answer lies in the Palestinians elections. I see Abbas's election as a victory for peace and moderate forces in Palestine despite what some people might say about him. It's a small victory but it's a very important step in the road of peace for this seemingly endless struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This victory was not possible without toppling Saddam, as before that Arab rulers and Saddam had no other issue to use to as a decoy that distracts their own people's attention from the real issues they need to solve in their own lands other than the Palestinian one. Now they're too busy trying to spoil America's plans in Iraq that are much more dangerous to them than Israel to the degree that they left Hammas and its likes alone in the battle and that was with the death of Arafat enough to enable moderate voices in Palestine to find their way. I maybe too optimistic here but I think Just the fact that there has been an election at all is a positive step and at any rate there are more chances for peace now than before.What the analysis linked by Sullivan misses is that America is not fighting a Sunni insurgent alone, as there are the whole powers of terrorism behind it and the support and finance of most Arab countries. This means that establishing peace, order and democracy in Iraq requires defeating terrorism as a whole, and that's the goal of course, but it's the ultimate goal not the immediate one expected from toppling Saddam. To expect to defeat the whole global terrorism through battles in Iraq is not realistic. The realistic goal is deprive them of one more base, establish a democracy in Iraq that can affect the neighboring countries to a great extent and then move on to another base, do the same (which would be much easier than Iraq and won't necessary require an invasion) and so on.Now it's not easy to determine the next base that should be attacked but I agree with those who said that Lebanon is the best candidate. Not Lebanon as a whole of course but Hizbollah and the Syrian army there. There are certainly many arguments against such choice, but I believe it's the best for many reasons. It would terrify Syria and Iran and distract their efforts in disrupting Iraq's march towards democracy, it would help democracy in Lebanon get rid of the influence of the Syrian Army and Hizbollah and it would give Iraq a much needed time to recover and build its infrastructure in a way that makes it not very rewarding to attack it again as the way it is now with the fragile infrastructure. The ex-Ba'athists aided by a very tiny minority of Salafis in Iraq won't be able (without huge aid from neighboring countries and Arab fighters) to stand against the Iraqi government aided by massive American power. They would most likely divide into small gangs that can be annoying but certainly not strong enough to determine a whole country's future.Some people will say, "Are you insane? Another war, while we're not sure this one was the right thing to do?" and I think yes, another war, a limited one most likely would be the right thing to do now. Any half solutions would be as disastrous as a total withdrawal.So yes, more troops would be very helpful for Iraq now and for a short period after the elections but in my mind the best answer to the challenges in Iraq is another strike somewhere else, somewhere near and I can't think of a better option than the south of Lebanon.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Nice guy.

I've just found this guy , and he is SO smart! And very nice too!Some people accused us and other pro-American Iraqi bloggers of being CIA plants saying our English is too good for Iraqis! Others said that we are Americans using broken English to make it look like we are Iraqis, but this guy has come up with something really original.He reaches the right conclusion but with using a very stupid argument!He's like saying, "C'mon if the neocons were planning to control the world, would they chose a place like Iraq?"p.s. I kept my post short so that I won't expose how terrible my English is and how stupid I am, and so that I deserve to be suspected as being hired by the CIA.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Is Islam compatible with democracy?

A question asked very frequently and one that is rarely answered objectively. This question is not new but it has been focused on after OIF, and that led to many people in the US and Europe somewhat switching sides in the way the respond to it or the way they are expected to respond to it, as answering this question is closely related to the war on Saddam's regime, the change in Iraq and its legitimacy.Being a Muslim, or at least being born as such makes my response rather difficult and its credibility and objectivity being logically questioned. However, I'll try.To begin with I must say I have a problem with the question itself and to clarify this problem in short, I'll instead ask this question: Is Christianity compatible with democracy? Or is Judaism compatible with democracy?Before anyone starts yelling at me I would like to provide my answers. I think that one can answer both questions with "yes" and "no"."Yes" if we consider western societies as Christian societies and "no" if that means that there's no need for separation of the church from the state.The western societies were Christian ones in the middle ages but they're not now. The church was not only incompatible with democracy, but it actually fought so hard against it as a form of secular government. It did cost Europe some real bloody wars to 'convince' the church that it should not use its influence to run things as it wishes.The American society is a slightly different case and the American readers of this blog can argue in this better than I can, but I think it's reasonable to say that Americans are generally more religious or has allowed religion some invisible role in politics because they didn't have to go through a bitter struggle against it to gain their freedom as the Europeans. Still, I doubt that anyone can really say that the American society is a Christian one, as it's obviously not!What I'm trying to say is that no religion in its present form is compatible with democracy and both democracy and religion can only co-exist if that religion is marginalized. In my mind all present religions, if you take them from the mouths of their advocators, being Imams, priests or whatever they are called in other religions and look at them with a modern rational mind, are (pardon me) so full of sh*t! (Note that I'm not talking about the core of those beliefs but how they're presented to us now).There's no way one can develop a modern democracy directly from any of those religions simply because all of them declare that they have the absolute truth.What's left after that is that it's not the problem that Islam that is not compatible with democracy but it's Muslims who are not compatible, or sometimes it's Arabs. The least I can say about that is that it's a racist point of view.We don't need to democratize Islam, as it wasn't possible with any other religion. We simply need to separate the mosque from the state, and that could be done violently or peacefully depending on the place and the circumstances. So the right question in my mind is, can we separate the mosque from the state? I for one believe it's very possible, especially in Iraq.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Iraqi opinion poll.

I just learned about this site of an Iraqi firm for research and consultation (IRC) through Al Fayha'a TV station this afternoon. It has a lot of useful information. What they were talking about at Al Fayha'a was an opinion poll conducted through phones in Iraq as well as via the Internet.The poll subject is to see how much support different political entities that are taking part in the upcoming election have. They have basically divided those entities into 7 main groups. One for the " Kurdish Alliance", one for the "Iraqi Communist Party", one for the "Iraqi List" (Allawi's), one for the "United Iraqi Alliance" (this includes Al Dawa'a party, INC, SCIRI, Hizbullah in Iraq and several other small parties), "Nationalist Parties", "The Islamic Party of Iraq" (this refers mainly to Arab pan nationalist parties and Turkmen's front) and "others".At the time I watched the program the "United Iraqi Alliance" had about 47% of the votes and the "Nationalist parties had about 4.7%, but as I logged now and voted (for "others") the percentage for many parties had changed a lot. I guess this is because of the TV coverage that must have attracted many people to the site.While this survey may not be very scientific, I must say that I was not surprised by the results and would not be surprised if the actual results in the elections were close to it. It may be interesting to some people to see how much support the "Communist Party" had. This was not strange for me, as I remember very well that in the large anti-terror rally back in Dec./2003 the Communist Party was present there with the largest number of protestors and with the best organization and discipline.The other notable result is that the "Islamic Party of Iraq" has till now 5.1% of the votes even though it's not going to participate and even though we keep hearing how all Sunni are going to boycott the elections but this poll shows that at least many of them still very interested in the elections. Not to mention that many Sunnis are expected to vote for Al Pachachi, the Nationalist parties and to "others". Yes the Islamic party won't participate but it's not logical to assume that as a result of that all those who intended to vote for it will boycott the elections. This becomes understandable if we know that the actual number of members and strong supporters of the Islamic party is way below the people who slightly favor it (I know a guy who was going to vote for the Islamic party but now wants to vote for Al Pachachi), and also because many Sunnis are afraid that if they don't vote the elections would definitely result in an overwhelming She'at majority, and that's something they would never be comfortable with.I've heard it from many of my Sunni friends that they are concerned about the possibility that the constitution might be written by She'at and Kurds mainly, and to be more accurate they are concerned with the She'at part more. Most of them said they will vote for Pachachi and others are still considering but generally they said they will vote for a secular party. My belief is that the percentage of Sunnis who will vote will be considerably lower than that of any other group, but it will be still high enough to contradict the analysis of most experts, and we only have to wait for few days to see.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Weighing sides

The situation in Baghdad gets more difficult everyday as the election time gets nearer. The attacks never seize to occur on a daily basis allover the hour. I haven't witnessed any, but we can hear the sounds of rockets, mortars, RPGs and machine guns on different times through everyday. The slight improvement in electricity that took place about a week ago didn't last for more than few days and now we're back to two hours of electricity followed by 4 hours of outage. This does not mean that life is impossible in Iraq now, as the difficulties have truly a less impact on our daily life than what is expected. It's not because we are more brave than other people, nor it's because we are dull enough to not be affected by such hardships. It's just people's nature everywhere to find a way to go on with their lives despite how difficult it can be, as there's simply no other option!The prices for gasoline are still high but have dropped from the ones they reached at the peak of the crisis about two weeks ago. One can now buy 20 liters of gasoline for the price of 6000 Iraqi Dinars (approximately 4.1$ which equals20 cents for each liter). The highest prices were about 23 000 Iraqi Dinar for the same amount (approximately 15.75$ which equals 78 cents for each liter). However, the exchange price for the Iraqi Dinar against US$ is still the same (1460 Iraqi Dinar for each US$) for almost 10 months on a row now!I must say that what's happening now was expected, and I was not the only one expecting it. Most people saw that as the election came closer violence would certainly grow more and more. It's truly a critical time in the history of Iraq, the region and the whole world. The terrorists are attacking almost everyone who does not agree with them. Today they threatened to" transfer the battle to America's land".If this should tell us anything new then it should be that the masters of these monsters are terrified as hell. They see all their efforts as not leading to the desired result; the withdrawal of American troops or at least the delaying and then the canceling of the elections.This is an important point that most of us, Iraqis and the coalition, forget most of the time. Just as we despair sometimes we should remember that our enemies are in even a worse situation than ours. I'm not talking about the terrorists, as these idiots have set up their minds to ride the highway to "heaven" through ending their miserable lives as soon as possible taking as many as possible of innocents' lives with them. I'm talking about those who finance them. The daily attacks in Iraq cost a fortune that no one and no single organization can afford. It's not an easy decision for those behind terrorism in Iraq to throw all that money that they worked their asses off when robbing it from their poor citizens to the fire, as no one expects any payback from spending that money other than ruining Iraq, her dreams and America's plans in establishing democracy in the region. They commit to such difficult decision only because they see it as the only possible answer to what will certainly rock their thrones in no big time.These rulers have a less costly-less promising options that they will not resort to until they become sure that the battle in Iraq is lost. One of these might be working on some shallow reforms that do not endanger their unquestioned authority, or actually submitting to the unstoppable change and withdrawing with some dignity while it's still possible. Of course such options will be their last but they seem to be inevitable as democracy in Iraq makes one step after the other.They bet for a long time on a civil war in Iraq or isolating Iraq from the international society, but Iraq came back to the political arena stronger than before the war and there are no real signs for civil war yet (and in my mind there won't be any). They try all the time do destroy Iraq's economy, but the truth remains that despite the current fuel crisis and the security problems, we still lead a MUCH better life than before the war (economically speaking). I want to say that it's no secret that it's America's very generous support that keeps it this way. The government is certainly having serious difficulties but they're not impossible to cope with and with large amount of the huge Iraqi debt forgiven and the sanctions being left, it certainly stands at a much comfortable position than Saddam's regime's.The market is generally stable, most goods maintained their prices for months, fuel and some local goods have seen some real rises in their costs but this time we actually have money in our wallets! While before the war we hardly had any and we were living in a continuous crisis that made the word lose its meaning. And it's not true what some people think, that it's only government employees who have gained from the change, as the private business have seen a much more improvement which is still based to a large extent on the original rise in the salaries of government employees. Teachers, engineers, nurses, Etc.. can now buy clothes, electrical devices, furniture, 'luxuries' such as mobile phones, satellite dishes, computers and as a result several new businesses that did not even exist at Saddam's time, began to expand and started to hire more individuals with higher salaries.Just a simple example is the small shop that I and my brothers owned and used to work in just to support our family. That small shop was almost empty when we joined our uncle to help him make it work in 1997. We worked the four of us so hard because it was our only real source of income. Our sales were growing constantly starting from 50$/day as an average at start to about 175$/day average when we left it to our uncle after the war (yes two families lived on the profit margin of 50 $ sales/day), as our jobs pay us what we see as enough now.Last week I dropped by my old shop and asked my uncle about how his business was going. The shop didn't look growing to me and that didn't surprise me, as my uncle is an old man with a chronic heart disease and has only his son now to help him. Anyway, like all businessmen he gave me a general answer, but I told him that I want numbers and as he's my uncle and he used to work with us in the past he didn't find it very difficult to tell me. He said that there's some kind of depression these days and his average sales are not more than 400 000 Iraqi Dinar/day (273 US$/day) and that a month ago the average was about 600 000 Iraqi Dinar/day (342 US$/day). Moreover my uncle has no terrible inflation to worry about now. Now with an old man and his teenage son this small business is making almost double the profit it used to make when it was run by the same old man, two dentists and a doctor!There's no mystery behind that, it's just that so many people have more money on them now and it's not that difficult to get them to buy anything, as on the contrary most people are trying to make up for all the years of deprivation they suffered in the past. They just buy and buy like there's no tomorrow!Back to our calculations we can say that spending millions of Dollars to ruin Iraq's economy is not a great investment. And as Iraq is not ruined economically and politically, it seems that the only thing that these rulers can hope to achieve their sick dreams is making the lives of Iraqis a daily suffer through maintaining the difficult security. But even this is not a real victory and has failed to attract more supporters to turn it into a wide spread chaos that involve the whole country when tried three times. The question is if we (Iraqis and the coalition) managed to at least hold to the achievements in economy and political field, how long can our neighbors keep spending money that generously, and how would that affect their own treasury as one of their formidable weapons to keep their own citizens in slavery? And moreover how far can they take this dangerous confrontation with the US so openly? My 'guess' is that with both parties determining to see this struggle to the end the scale is on our side.

Monday, January 03, 2005

An Explanation.

I owe my readers and many others an explanation. I used to post before at "Iraq The Model" blog and then I quit without offering a clear explanation for why I did that. First let me say that I was not hiding here. I did quit my original blog but I did not quit the struggle in anyway. I know I'm on the right side and my disagreement was not with America. I just wanted a break away from the noise that I have wrongly created and I was getting only few readers a day who never read me before. I was testing many things in this blog before I would try to offer an explanation and then start a new start. And as you can see I have changed the title of my blog, as I saw that it lead to unnecessary arguments between the left and right and this is not why I have created this blog. Anyway, few days ago Jeff Jarvis and Michael Totten linked to my blog, and then Instapundit linked to it too and I started getting thousands of visitors and most of them were regulars at ITM. I didn't expect that, as it's true what one of the readers said, that I haven't offered much yet. So I believe it's time I offer some clarity.I had some serious doubts about that trip to the US and did express them to my brothers. I saw that it was an unnecessary risk and I feared there would be more than just the harmless meetings with readers and donors. When I didn't get answers that calm these doubts I decided not to go. As I was sitting here behind my computer watching the reactions to my brothers' visit, my doubts grew stronger. I believe that they were exposed to a great risk and despite we were promised that there would be no major media, I got a mail from a journalist in the Washington Post asking about the meeting with (POTUS). After that mail, I decided to quit.My brothers were not as concerned as I was and thought that western media is hardly read by terrorists or fanatics. However, few days ago a friend of ours came to our house telling us that he read about the visit and the meeting with Bush in "Al Sharq Al Awsat" a widely distributed Arabic newspaper that reaches most Arab countries if not all. They had the news through the Washington Post and this was not strange to me, as it's a common thing that Arabic newspapers and Satellite TV channels discuss western media regularly. It's one thing to risk your life for doing what you believe in and serving your country and humanity and it's totally another thing to risk your life just to meet (POTUS).So I did not quit because of any distrust of America's plans in Iraq, I was not treated badly by any American, I have no problem with any right-wing blog and I never had any problem in dealing with extreme left blogs. I and my brothers have only some disagreement on few points. I had a different feeling about the trip and was more skeptic than them. Now I see that I have overreacted and I had to be more patient. I say that despite that I was right about the unecessary dangers that may come from such a trip, because my reaction created many speculations among our readers that could've been avoided had I not post such obscure message. My brothers seem to have done what they were comfortable with and they say that no one put any pressure of any kind on them.I want to apologize for the mess I created. That post was probably the most stupid thing I've ever done in my life (and I've done so many stupid things before). I had no right in throwing accusations without specifying whom I meant and without providing any evidence and that caused many innocent people a lot of harm. I don't know if I can be forgiven for that, as I haven't forgiven myself, but I will continue to post on this blog and share my views and opinions with anyone that care to listen. I believe in free and democratic Iraq and I believe in America, the coalition and all those who are helping us.Again, I'm so sorry.