Free Iraqi

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

Monday, February 28, 2005

Hafiz Al Asad statue toppled in Lebanon

No one can forget the scene of Saddam statue's toppling in Al Firdous Sq. in Baghdad but we can never have enough of such great scenes until the ME and the whole world is free from tyranny. Today another tyrant's statue was toppled in the Middle East. Yes it's not the statue of a living dictator but his son is still in charge, and yes it did not happen in his country but it happened in a country still controlled by his son's army and intelligence. Take a look at a beautiful picture that got its beauty from the ugliness of its content!The brave Lebanese did not wait for the American troops to be there nor did they wait for the Syrians to withdraw from their land, but I think it's obvious that Saddam's statue's falling shook the ground under Al Assad's statue and I doubt we would've seen such great picture if the American troops had not come to Iraq

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

What reconciliation?

Al Mehdi Army demonstrates in Basra From Al Qabas Kuwaiti newspaper (Arabic link): 4000 men of Sadr's militia, Al Mehdi army marched through the streets of Basra in a demonstration of power. The militia men were dressed in black shirts and khaki trousers and had their ammunition on.The American, British and Israeli flags were painted along the road where the demonstration took place for the militia to step on them. This happened despite that some of Sadr followers joined the elections and actually won some seats under the banner of the "Unified Coalition list". The Iraqi and multinational forces did not respond in any way to that demo.Why is this happening and how should we react to it? I think the answer for both questions is not difficult to be found. This happened because Muqtada Al Sadr was allowed to escape all the horrible crimes he and the criminal half gangsters half Ba'athist militia have committed over the past months. Now after the elections we can see more clearly what may have been not that clear at the times Sadr started both his revolts. He and his gang were not defying the "American occupation" as he claimed, but instead they were defying the vast majority of Iraqis who want freedom, democracy and peace. They were trying, with obvious generous aid from the Mullahs in Iran to kill our dreams of a better future. They spreaded chaos, looted government offices, killed and tortured Iraqis the way Saddam used to, and they did all they can to limit our freedom, a freedom that God gave us and the Americans helped us get it back. And now he's stepping on the flags of our allies and liberators. Do I thank God we were not liberated by a revolution of people like these or not!Well, if it's going to be end here then maybe there's no need to escalate the situation, but we all know Sadr and his thugs enough to trust that it's not going to stop here, as this is how it started twice and then when left without being dealt with, those thugs were encouraged to go further and further.It's not important now who's fault was that, The Interim government, the American administration or Sistani as much as it's important to decide how we are going to deal with this gang and its likes that have one foot in the system and the rest of its body outside it.Some voices in Iraq have been screaming for a long time, but especially after the elections, for a national reconciliation. Now I haven't figured out yet with whom we are supposed to reconcile and for what! But I at least know who's screaming for this reconciliation. They're ex-Bathists, those aligned with them and Sadr's people. I asked myself and my friends many times, "What wrong have we done to these people? Did we kill, torture or humiliate their beloved ones? And did we ever say something like, (nah we're not gonna be friends anymore)!?Among the names that are running this campaign are Sa'ad Al Bazzaz (Azzaman chief editor and owner of Al Sharqyia TV), Ayad Allawi, Ghazi Alyawir, Misha'an Al Jibori (Sunni ex-Ba'athist from Saladin), The Association of Sunni Scholars and Sadr aids (this proves their connection to the Ba'athists as they're the only She'at group calling for this not to mention their black shirts that were peculiar to Saddam's Feda'ayeen).So what we should do according to these people and those who fell into their propaganda is probably appoint Harith Al Dhari of the Sunni Scholars as the minister of interior and appoint Sadr as a minister of...culture I suppose given his background and all should be for the benefits of politicians who have chosen to appease these criminals who still to this day kidnap, torture and kill our men, women and children!It's worth mentioning that this campaign means something different according to the sect of those who call for it, as the She'at who support it mean Sadr and his people mainly while the Sunnis mean the active Ba'athists who still operate in Anbar, Mosul and Samarra.For example during Sadr's revolts it was She'at clerics mainly who called for a "peaceful solution" while in Fallujah's case it was mainly Al Yawir who led the campaign.What I'm asking for is not what some radical She'at parties call for, to use the Badr Brigade and the Peshmarga against the people of Ramadi and in the "death triangle" but instead rely on the Iraqi army and police to deal with outlaws and terrorists especially that we are soon going to have our first elected government and our first constitution. It's ironic that so many are calling for reconciliation where in fact no one had closed any doors in anyone's face. We, Iraqis where even begging them to drop arms and take part in the peaceful democratic process, and now that they have lost they want us to stop..I don't really know what to stop since we haven't done them any harm and it's exactly the opposite!I say no to any reconciliation with terrorists aids, their supporters and with the fanatics who justify their acts and with anyone linked to them closely. No reward should be given to them, as this is what they're asking, a reward and not our forgiveness. They have to apologize not us and then we should sue them for any crimes they may have committed, and after that they can run for offices like all honest and good Iraqis have and if they win, then it's just fine for us!We should fight these terrorists and fanatics that want to infiltrate the new system we want to build and ruin it from inside with their corrupt minds and with hands that are still stained with the blood of their victims. Let it take as long as it takes. It's not just a moral obligation but I see it as the only way to build a steady free democracy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Do they ever learn?

It seems that the horrible crime that took place in Beirut won't go unpunished. Despite the continues allegations of the Syrian and Lebanese government and the crocodile tears their officials are shedding, no one seems to believe them and especially the Lebanese people. All the Syrian government could come up with is accusing Israel of being responsible for the crime. When combined with their and their friends in the Lebanese government prior accusations to Al Hariri that he was an agent for the American and Israeli intelligence, their current accusations become nothing but a stupid joke.

The Arab satellite TV stations are covering the event and its development on hourly basis these days. While Al Jazeera and official Arab TVs are expectedly defending Syria and feeding conspiracy theories -that only they can come up with without feeling the slightest shame or paying any attention to how stupid it makes them look or better say how unrealistically they wish all people to be that stupid to buy such crap-others like Al Arabyia, LBC (Lebanese) are trying to be more objective and even giving obvious signs that the accusations against Syria are not unfounded at all!

Those channels showed hundreds of Lebanese citizens protesting and demonstrating obviously voluntarily in several Lebanese cities demanding justice and accusing Syria directly or indirectly of committing the crime. The Lebanese opposition is leading and demanding not only an international investigation but also an international protection from what they described as a Syrian occupation.

The crowd that walked in his funeral today was really huge and TV stations said it was estimated to be hundreds of thousands at least and most of them seemed angry more than sad.
They showed also the Syrian vice president Abdul Haleem Khaddadm in Al Hariri's house next to Hariri's elder son. They said that he (Khaddam) and Lebanese officials asked Al Hariri's family to hold the ceremonies where they accept people's respect in the presidential palace rather than the family house but they said that the family refused strongly to do so!
Anyone who's been following the Lebanese issue would find no difficulty at all in concluding who assassinated Al Hariri. The man resigned from his position as a PM under the Syrian pressure to re-elect President Imil Lahood which he opposed and then declared that he was contacting the opposition to join them in support of immediate execution of Security Council resolution number 1559 that demands the withdrawal of Syrian troops from all Lebanese territories.

This was going to be a serious threat to the Syrian regime and its friends in Lebanon, as prior to that only the Christians demanded the Syrian withdrawal and later were joined by the Durooz (a She'at sect), and if Al Hariri had joined them it meant that most Arab Sunnis would do so to and that would mean the majority of the Lebanese people would be asking for the Syrian withdrawal. In fact the majority always wanted that but they feared to voice their opinion because the army, the Mukhabarat and Hizbullah's militia are all in the hands of Syria. Thus it's more than clear who has the motive and the means to assassinate Al Hariri. Not to mention that they're the only parties that refuse an International investigation.

However, and like all dictatorial regimes, the Syrian government has only speeded its end by committing or supporting such a crime, as now the Lebanese people are enraged and nothing can silence their demand, and to their good luck they seem to have the support of the International community and most importantly that of the USA.

I had previously expected something to happen in Lebanon, but I didn't expect it to happen this way. It was not easy to find a strong motive but now I believe the Syrian regime by committing such a crime has almost sealed its fate.

It'll be interesting to watch how the Syrian dictator and his gang that had put him in power are going to respond to the mounting pressure and if they would resort to any logic and withdraw from Lebanon, but my experience with their twin party here in Iraq makes me believe that they learned nothing from Saddam's lesson and that they will do exactly the opposite and further tighten the rope on their neck with every single move.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Some observations from the Iraqi elections.

The results of the Iraqi elections were generally expected (at least after the primary vote count) but it did result in some interesting statistics and facts. The first noticeable is that the "Unified Coalition List" did not get the number of votes its members as well as most spectators expected. Shortly before announcing the results, and as I mentioned in the previous post, a "high official" from the coalition list stated to Radio Sawa that they were informed by the electoral Commission that their list achieved 60% of the votes!Anyway, I was personally relieved by this result, not because it's not enough for the religious parties to impose Share'a law, as this is totally impossible in my opinion, but because it meant that a considerable percentage of She'at chose other than what their spiritual leader favored. The She'at generaly showed more maturity and trust in the future of Iraq than the Kurds whom their vast majority of votes went to the "Kurdish Alliance". I believe that in the next elections with better security and with other parties more inclined to run a wide public campaign, whatever list Sistani would support would get even much less than what the coalition list did get.Also I was doing some calculations and found out the following:1-the religious parties (including Christian, Sunni and Yezidies) achieved together 4 323 923 votes which equals about 51% of the total vote. (This includes the Coalition List which is not entirly religious)2-Ethnic parties (Kurds, Turkmen, Arab nationalists) achieved 2 289 713 votes which equals about 27% of the total votes.3-Individual lists achieved all together 52399 votes but none got a seat.4-Parties based on tribes got only 3850 votes.5- Secular democratic parties got 1594829 votes which comprises about 19% of the total votes.6-Communists which are one major and one small party got 73354. The Iraqi communist Party which is the major one got almost exactly its members total number! Most polls here expected them to score better than that but it seems that only communists vote for communists, and it makes sense! I for one sympathize with the communists but would never vote for them.7- Monarchists and other local groups achieved together 118098 votes but none got a seat.8-only 11 parties got seats in the national assembly.9-only 19 lists out of the total 111 lists achieved more than 10 000 votes. One of these is an individual running alone.10-Small democratic parties failed to achieve any good results with most of them scoring between 1000 and 500 votes.11-Al Pachachi failed to get a seat, as his list got only 23302 votes.12-Also former GC member Nassir Al Chadarchi's party "National Democratic Party" that was established in the 30th of the last century achieved only 1603 votes. Another party, "The Democratic Community Movement" That has 2 former GC members in it and the former spokesman of the GC scored 3527 votes.13-The highest votes received by a single list was 4 075 295 for the "Unified Coalition" and the lowest was 411 votes for an individual list.14- Our party, "The Iraqi Pro-Democracy party" achieved 1 566 votes which is a small number but it was worth the effort as we learned a lot from this experience. There were also 26 parties that scored lower than that. This showed clearly that small young parties with no religious or ethnic affiliation must consolidate together and form one entity in order to survive and I guess most of these parties see this now.In the end I'd like to point out something about the turn out that may have been missed. Outside Iraq the number of eligible voters depended on rough estimations while the registered voters' number became known after the elections. So the turn out outside Iraq was correctly calculated among registered voters not eligible, as this last one remains not well identified.However, inside Iraq the system depended on the food ration coupons which contained not just the names of Iraqis inside Iraq, from which the eligible voters' number was calculated, but also so many Iraqis outside Iraq and some dead even! All those above 18 that are enlisted in the food ration coupons were considered registered voters. I and all I know did not have to register. We just received our ballot that contained our family members' names who are above 18 that are enlisted in our food ration coupon including my sister's name who left Iraq for more than a year and came back just few months ago. We never reported her departure so did most families who had their sons and daughters leaving Iraq after 1991 fearing interrogation or even punishment as it was seen as an unpatriotic act!One of my neighbors received his family's ballot with his father's name included even though he died a year ago. Under reporting of deaths was not that uncommon but it became more common after the last war as a result of the total collapse of the system for months. Another neighbor had his two sons' names registered although they both left Iraq since 1995. This means that many Iraqis outside Iraq, regardless whether they voted or not, were considered registered eligible non-voters inside Iraq!I saw the turn out in our neighborhood which is mainly a Sunni ex-Ba'athist one and I and most my friends thought it was more than 80%, which makes me think that the announced turn out is even much less than the actual one and it's definitely not just for registered voters, a term that gives the impression that there are Iraqis who did not register, which did not happen as there was no registeration except for very limited cases.It's been a great event in Iraq and we intend to celebrate the results formaly as winners because there are no losers in Iraq now except the tiny minority formed by hardcore Ba'athists and Salafis.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

James J. Na. who's a senior fellow in the "Discovery Institute" sent me this great article that he had wrote about Al Alousi and his visit to Israel. I thought I should share it with you and say that I agree totally with Mr. Alousi on his views about the future of Iraq. You'll find some updates about Al Alousi on James's blog.Meanwhile the election results are to be announced today at 4 p.m. Baghdad time. High officials in the "Unified Coalition List" said that the "Independent Electoral Commission" has informed him that the Coalition list has got 60% of the votes (Arabic link). If that is true (and it seems so) then I must say my prediction about the results earlier was not accurate. The Coalition list and due to Sistani's blessings, the ignorance of Iraqis about parties other than the major religious and ethnic ones (due to difficult security that prevented those parties from running a proper campaign) and the fears each sect has that its votes get scattered seems to have drawn more votes towards the major parties. Also the limited participation of Sunnis contributed to this result.The Kurdish Alliance seems to be next followed closely by Allawi's list. We still have to wait for the official results but I guess the order will be just like that.Democracy is still very young in Iraq and it seems it needs some time and nurture to become more liberal and more representative.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

America's mistakes in Iraq.

Apologies for not posting for a while. I'm having some personal issues that I need to deal with and I wasn't planning to blog today but as I was looking into my blogroll I saw a nice and interesting post at Michael Totten's that changed my mind.I thought I should comment on part of the post, the part I think I know more about than Michael and most of the Americans that were in that company.Michael thinks that the quarrel he and Hitchens had with Ghassan Al Atiyyah was unavoidable and he took Ahmed Al Rikabi's comment to be true, all because of how confusing the relation with America might seem to many Iraqis.While I agree partly on this I see that this is not the main reason. I see that such quarrels are avoidable and such impressions could be changed if they had hosted and seeked the assistance of the right Iraqis. I see this and many complications we had in Iraq that brought many avoidable losses to Iraq and America as America's mistake, in part, as we hold a similar responsibility to.When I say America here, I mean the administration or the people they chose to help Iraqis in their transformation to democracy. While I agree that many regular Iraqis are still misled and have some anti-American feelings as a result of decades of brain washing, I cannot but wonder why should Americans chose such people and trust them in serious issues when there are so many Iraqis who do not suffer from such problems.Ghassan AL Atiyyah happens to be a friend of my father, not a close one though. This man wants to include the "resistance" in the political process in Iraq. This maybe a good cause if it's done to save Iraq from further meaningless violence, but the problem is that Mr. Atiyyah sees that the "resistance" has actually done Iraq good by forcing the Americans to work harder!This reminds me with a conversation I had with a similarly disturbed-minded friend who was hailing the "resistance". I asked him if he wanted the Americans to leave and he replied, "of course not! That would lead to a disaster" and I said, "then why do you support them in killing Americans?" and he said, "it's good for us because when they get attacked they work better and faster in rebuilding Iraq since such attacks would show them they're not doing a good job" I swear to God this was his answer!Now my friend is a simple guy who watches Al Jazeera frequently and thinks it's honest, but would we really want people like him to act as a link between us, Iraqis and Americans?On the other hand Ahmed Al Rikabi who started the popular Radi Dijlah is the kind of guy who sells an advertising time to a stranger for a dollar and to a friend for two, simply because he trust that the friend is not going to question his honesty! Needless to say that the friends could be America, and yes I know this for a fact and through experience.I was asked many times what are America's mistakes in Iraq and I didn't answer for many reasons. First because I'm truly too grateful to count America's mistakes, second because I didn't think this was a policy but rather a mistake out of understandable ignorance and one that would be corrected fast. In my mind such mistake comes from two places; first from underestimating Iraqis and thinking that the only Iraqis that are willing to cooperate are those who can be bought in different ways, even if what they were asked was for their own country's good. And second because it seems that Americans themselves have a mixed feeling about what's happening in Iraq. They think that somehow they did something wrong to Iraqis while liberating them since it meant occupying their country and thus they think it's perfectly natural that even those who cooperate with them should have hostile feelings towards America. It hurts me because it wastes so much valuable time, effort, money and most importantly lives and also because it shows that Americans don't think highly of Iraqis.It's a good policy to try to neutralize those who have problems with their pride (a false sense of patriotism) and it might be good to buy the services of those who are only available to the one who pays the highest price, but it's certainly a bad policy to rely mainly on such people and to take them as representatives of a whole nation.Update: Iraqi reader Abu Hadi comments by mail:On reading your comments section I find many of your American correspondents saying it is not our problem if we didn't know who to deal with in Iraq. This is true because the DOD made sure no Arabists from the DOS got anywhere near their Iraq project. They also threw in the bin that excellent document "Future of Iraq Project" which was produced by many good Iraqis. Hence it is no wonder mistakes were being made.He also mentions another 'mistake' of handling the money for reconstruction but I don't have enough knowledge to judge that and I also don't think there was a big mistake there.However I think Abu Hadi has a valid point here. For almost two years now I haven't met an American who does speak Arabic except for one I saw on TV who was a spokesman for the CPA, and I have met so many Americans during this time.This can't be because there are no, or only few Americans who have good knowledge about the Iraqi society and Arab culture in general. The services of such people would've been very helpful if they had been used. Maybe it's because what Abu Hadi says, a conflict between the DOD and the DOS, but it would be very sad if that's true.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Our media

was looking into Al Sabah newspaper today when I saw a picture that looked familiar to me. The picture was put along with an article about the reconstructions in Iraq. After one or two seconds I recognized it. It was actually one that I took about a year ago near the hospital where I work! I posted that picture together with few other ones about a year ago at Iraq the Model.This annoyed me for two reasons; one is that they didn't mention where they got it from which gives a bad example of journalism. The other thing is that the reporter seems to be too lazy to get out and took a picture of Iraqis working and decided just to copy one that was taken months ago by someone else.Now the newspaper didn't put the picture claiming that it's taken from anything recently rebuilt but rather just put it there because it generally shows Iraqis working and it was taken after the war, but it still shows that they're lazy and they're using someone else's effort without even mentioning it.You can see a picture that I took for the newspaper's yesterday edition and you can see that it's the picture I took before. They still don't have it on line but if they put it I'll link to it.I don't know what I should do and I thought I'd better I ask my reader's opinion, as they're have more experience in such things as a result of dealing with free press for a long time while it's still a very fresh practice for us. Should I send a mail to them asking them to do something about it? Or should I just leave it and look at it as a credit? I appreciate any response but I still don't like the newspaper attitude.Update: Thank you for all your valuable advises. I checked my ego and I saw that I don't need to push this more but I'm just annoyed with the laziness of the journalist that wrote that article. So I wrote a message to the newspaper telling them that I'm an avid reader of their newspaper and that it was me who took a picture that they used without contacting me, and that for the sake of the credibility of the newspaper I thought I should point this out and maybe in the future they would pay more attention.They don't have a mail address except for those who want to advertise in their newspaper but if anyone is interested in contacting them, you can write a message on their message board here. The first space is for the name, the second is for the mail address and the third large one is for the message. After you post click on the button on the right lower corner of the last space. They didn't respond to my letter but maybe if they get more messages they would know that there are many people who are watching and that they may not like what they are doing. I really hope it would help them improve their performance as it is a good newspaper in general.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Iraqi citizens Kill 5 terrorists

From Radio Sawa (Arabic link):Citizens of Al Mudhiryiah (a small town in the "death triangle") were subjected to an attack by several militants today who were trying to punish the residents of this small town for voting in the election last Sunday.The citizens responded and managed to stop the attack, kill 5 of the attackers, wounded 8 and burned their cars.3 citizens were injured during the fire exchange. The Shiekh of the tribe to whom the 3 wounded citizens belong demanded more efforts from the government to stop who he described as "Salafis". Well, it doesn't seem that they needed much protection!This is such a good news and I never heard anything like it before. I consider it good even if the government forces were not there at the time to do something about it, because it shows that Iraqis are no longer paralyzed by fear from the terrorists and are able to organize themselves and defend their town when it's necessary. I believe that this is one of the good outcome of the revolution that took place in the great Sunday. Iraqis realized at that day that they're much stronger than this bunch of psychopaths that are standing in our way to democracy in freedom. I still wish the government work harder on rehabilitating the IP and building the Iraqi army.UPDATE: Here's another source for the story.Thanks to reader Larry.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Looking forward.

I'm not going to pay attention to the naysayer anymore, as they don't respond to logic and not even to historical facts. Many of those have accused me, my brothers and many determined, good, brave and optimistic Iraqis of being blinded by wishful thinking, if not traitors and CIA agents. This time we don't need to speak and we don't need to resort to logic and argue with these people, as finally the Iraqi people have spoken and they came through loud and clear and made even some of the major media admit the success for probably the first time.What happened in Iraq last Sunday was no less than a revolution as one of Jeff Jarvis's friends said. Millions of Iraqis have put all the doom and gloom people to shame and silence through acts of bravery not words. Some of those still don't seem to have changed their minds, but if such a great victory does not get to them then I guess nothing will. So I'll move on together with all Iraqis and look for the future with more courage and an optimism that is much more founded than any of their "smart pessimism".Before the elections most polls here in Iraq were suggesting that the "United Alliance List" was going to achieve a great victory and the next were the communist list, the Kurdish alliance, Allawis list and finally other minor parties.I had a similar impression at that time but what I saw on the election day and what I've heard from many people here plus some early reports from the "Independent electoral commission" suggest a somewhat different results.The "United Alliance List" is still thought to win more votes than any of the rest and I believe that's what's going to happen (by the way the actual translation should be, "The Unified Coalition List" and I don't know why it was translated the other way and in fear of being somehow, wrong I kept repeating the used translation, but I was thinking today that it's wrong and should be corrected). The difference is that Allawi's list seems to have attracted more votes than what was expected. Even in Najaf, the most holy city for the She'at, the majority of the votes are reported to be split between the "Unified coalition" and Allawi.I have seen many Arab Sunnis, She'at, Kurds and Turkmen who said they voted for Allawi.Some of the reasons that have made many Iraqis vote for Allawi might be that he's seen as a strong man who can deal with the challenges despite his government's failure to provide a good level of security and basic needs. He just has shown more optimism and determination and looked always strong which must have gave many Iraqis a much needed hope and courage.Still I doubt that he's going to be appointed as a Prime Minister again even if he got the second largest number of votes. Hussein Al Shahristani, the nuclear sientist from the "Unified coalition" seems to be the candidate with better chances in the current time but there are many good candidates who have the acceptance of most parties.At the risk of being wrong I'd like to offer my predictions of the poll results. Here's how I see it now:The Unified Coalition List: 30-35%Allawi's list: 20-25%Itihad Al Sha'ab (the communist party): 10-15%The Kurdish Alliance: 10-15%Al Yawir: 4-5%Al Pachachi: 2-3%Other Kurdish parties, Turkmen and other minorities: 4-5%Small democratic parties: 4-5%Individuals and others: 1-2%This is my personal perspective that I got from my observations here in Baghdad and of course I could be wrong but I doubt I'm going to be very wrong on this. I also believe such combination would be good for Iraq's transitional period and would come up with a balanced constitution. What's needed now is for the more liberal and democratic parties to learn from this first experiment and unite their efforts to gain more representation in the future and I think the majority of Iraqis are going to search for some alternatives to the parties that depend on ethnic and sectarian representation, as these parties will certainly be useful to guarantee the minority role but would never be able to come up with a vision and a mature policy for the future.Wish with us for a better future for Iraq and let's keep our optimism as we do our best. It's not a sin and it has paid it's fruits.

If you're searching for a place where you can find tons of links about the Iraqi elections and other good things that are happening in Iraq, go read Arthur Chrenkoff's 20th roundup of "good news from Iraq".