Free Iraqi

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

Monday, December 26, 2005

I wanted to say something about the elections results but things are still confusing to me and I can't see any real light from the various possibilities ahead of us. I think there were huge violations and a fraud especially in the south and the north. This elections will cost Iraq and whoever decides to stand by her side at least 10 more years of suffering. The worst thing is that it could have prevented if some of us at least had paid attention to the real danger.The final outcome I don't doubt. I still believe firmly that Iraq will be a true democracy and a model for the Arab and Muslim world but the cost and time have just been doubled.Anyway, that's not what I wanted to say today but I thought I should say something about it. I also realized I haven't blogged in a long time after one of the readers mailed me to ask what was going on.What I want to say is Merry Christmas to all of you brothers and sisters! May your days be always joyful, peacful and meanningful.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Saddam's trial; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Today's session of Saddam's trial was more eventful than the previous ones but it still showed a few things that were present before and made them clearer.To me, there were two good things, two bad and one ugly. One of the bad things, which was really thrilling although I saw it coming and didn't think it would affect me that way, is how one of the victims, the witness was able to stand in front of an Iraqi court beside Saddam and his top aids and telling their hideous crimes. There I saw an average Iraqi, who has no power or wealth, a man whom Saddam used to sign the execution order of hundreds like him without even knowing the name of one of them, standing boldly and exposing this monster's horrible crimes. He was not afraid and returned Saddam's words with stronger ones. I must admit that I saw this man as a hero and I think many Iraqis share a similar view with that of mine, as these people terrorized us for such a long time that even hearing their names used to paralyze us with fear. Till now and when I think of this man's position, I feel unsure on whether I would feel some fear or not if I was in his place.Saddam was trying to remain calm and put a fake smile on his face but I could see through his eyes that he was going to explode. I think he couldn't believe that an Iraqi, just an average Iraqi would talk to him that way and name him as just "Saddam" not the "Mujahi leader Saddam Hussain God bless him" or any of the other crap we had to add before his name otherwise…Saddam's brother, Barzan was in a much worse shape as everybody must have noticed. This is not strange at all and it was one of Saddam's ways of presenting himself as the best available choice by surrounding himself with insanely ignorant and barbarian people. I heard it from so many Iraqis in the past saying, "Well who would replace him if he's gone? Brazan, Izzat Il Douri or Taha Yassin Ramadan, or maybe Oday?? No it's better that he stays" thinking that all alternatives are worse and that there are no men in Iraq but those scum!The other good thing was the general attitude of the trial and the way the judge dealt with the defendants (although it's one of the bad things too in a way). I think the way Iraqis are treating Saddam shows clearly that they're better than being ruled by a man like him and I'm very pleased by the civility of the court. I've heard many Iraqis complaining about how soft the judge was in the 1st session and many said they hated him. This time I heard the same people saying they're starting to love him!Still I must say the judge could've been more firm with the many unacceptable behaviors by Saddam, his lawyers and his brother without crossing the line to being abusive of their rights. To be honest I think the judge was instructed to be extra-nice with Saddam, and I think that has more to do with presenting the trial to the western audience, particularly the American rather than the Iraqi audience. This trial is certainly a universal one but I think Iraqis should count more than others and I also think that American politics, mainly external is playing a major role here. I think Americans are trying to say to the rest of the world, "See how much we have changed this place!" which is ok and good but Iraqis' feelings, and more important justice, should count more than that since contempt for the court is a big deal in the best democracies.The other bad thing is the testimony of the major witness. It was incoherent, but that's ok and it's not the issue. The issue is that the man, whom I have no question about his honesty in telling Al Dujail story, was, as I believe, coached by certain parties inside the Iraqi government, and this is really bad. I can say he was coached by the SCIRI and was offered extra information on the investigation for two reasons. One to show Al Dujail massacre, at leastin a small way, as a massacre against the She'at (the witness kept mentioning Karbala'a and Imam Hussain for no real reason and focused on one of the victims who he said was a visitor from Karbala'a for no real reason to. He said that if Saddam's men had found out that the guy was from Karbala'a they'd leveled the holy shrines with ground). The other point I think is to document some of Saddam's crimes against Iran (the witness mentioned that he saw the Iranian ex-minister of oil in jail, which I think was irrelevant and not needed at all, that's if it's true).Other than that the ugliest part was the behavior of Saddam and his brother, Barzan. These two were very polite with the judge all the time (Barzan was even begging for mercy on one session) but as soon as they saw a simple Iraqi citizen with no power (or so they think) they regained that arrogant look and assumed the faces of the rulers again! How coward and how stupid at the same time! But it was more than great (and surprisingly shocking) to hear the words of that simple man from Dujail saying to Barzan, "Shut up!". That was worth the two hours in front of the TV.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Iraqi media scandal.

I've been following the news about the Iraqi media scandal in the American media and some blogs and I feel I have a few things I can comment on.
First of all, anyone following the Iraqi newspapers closely won't find it hard to notice that most of the real information and interesting newsy stories come from American sources. It's hard to miss that with most of those stories because the translation is usually close to a literal one which preserves the original western style of reporting that was unknown in our media. Also the kind of information that you get is usually ones that cannot be obtained unless the reporter is working in the front with the American and Iraqi forces or has real access to the original sources which is impossible till now.

Also, whoever said that those stories were meant to improve the image of America and the coalition forces in Iraq is exaggerating, the least to say. I'm an avid reader of Iraqi newspaper and I haven't read any newsy story that gives credit to the American forces or government. In fact, apart from 3 or 4 who very occasionally publish materials that are slightly in favor of the American troops, all Iraqi newspapers are either totally against it no matter how much they're offered, or they're very scared of publishing such materials. What we get usually is positive stories about the Iraqi forces and the reconstruction process.

Another thing that I find silly is that the Americans are very concerned about the newsy stories and neglect the fact that there are dozens of obvious propaganda messages in Iraqi press that come from American sources directly. Such messages are placed similarly as advertisements that are supposed to be from the Iraqi interior ministry and list phone numbers and ask people to report suspicious activities to help "The heroes in the Iraqi security forces" (Like this one above from Al Mu'tamar newspaper)

I called one of those numbers a few weeks ago to report something I saw as suspicious. I was worried because I know the IP is infiltrated by the Ba'athists and that my phone number could be easily tracked but I also thought that the Americans must have figured a way to deal with that, and I was right.The voice that answered on the other side had an unmistakable Jordanian accent. Now what would a Jordanian do in the Iraqi ministry of interior! The only logical conclusion for me was that the guy was a Jordanian American and that I was not calling the Iraqi interior ministry as I thought but some place in the American military, which honestly made me feel safer. Still, it gives a sad yet realistic picture of the readiness of the Iraqi security forces to handle security all alone.Anyway, back to the media scandal, my point is that most Iraqis who read newspapers and certainly most journalists know the source of such stories contrary to the claim of some of them as reported by the LATIMES. Now it may have taken an American military general a few months to find out that his command was pouring information through Iraqi media for money but trust me, it took a lot less than that for so many Iraqis to find out the same. If there's something wrong then it's in the way this campaign has been handled and not the concept itself.The amount of anti-American and anti-Iraqi propaganda is so huge in Iraq that I think there's a serious need to confront it one way or another. Moreover most of this propaganda is based on pure lies that are so ridiculous at times yet can affect many people. I think because it uses the conspiracy theory kind of approach which still appeals to many Iraqis. Why it does appeal to them? I think it's common in oppressed societies that had had no hand in deciding the way things are run in their own countries. They feel the evil but they can't see it or they're misled by their government to search for it somewhere else than where it is.I think the need for PsyOps in Iraq is huge and the American government was even late and lacking in its efforts in this area. There are several governments that are pouring millions and millions of Dollars not just to support the insurgency but also to spread disinformation and anti-American, anti-Iraqi government propaganda.When the two British soldiers were arrested, Sadirists and other radical religious newspapers said that those soldiers were found planting IEDs on the road! Imagine the destructive results of such disinformation spread by none other than the local government. Sadly many people believed that and other Iraqi newspapers picked it up to report it as the truth.It seems however that the information campaign was facing some problems that should have been taken care of and I think an investigation is necessary in that it will provoke those in charge to search for more effective measures in handling the media war which is, as I see it, a very essential part of the war on terror that cannot be ignored or underestimated.