Friday, April 30, 2004


US forces prepare to leave Fallujah after a deal is arranged for a new Fallujah Protective Army to replace US marines. The Fallujah Protective Army is comprised of former Iraqi soldiers, who were employed by the former Baathist regime, and will be under the command of a General Salah. A Lt.-Gen. Salah Abboud al-Jabouri is known to have served as governor of Anbar province under Saddam and was a senior commander in Saddam's military.

The Fallujah Protective Army is expected to keep Fallujan insurgents in check.

Back to Iraq has as comprehensive a post as any other news outlet, best i read.

1). US administrative references to armed opposition has shifted from phrases implicating the former Baath party; "remnants of Baathist Regime" to; "Insurgents". Previous ascertains that fighting was occurring between (liberating) US forces and (resisting) remnants of Saddam's army are now thrown into a questionable gloom. Former members of Saddam's army have now been recruited to engage in battle with, um, former members of Saddam's army.

2). Some Iraq bloggers earlier this week have already expressed reservations re re-baathification.

3). Reasons for going to war. Checklist.
~ WMD; none found, so far.
~ Regime change; regime re-installation, as of April 2004, commencing Fallujah.
~ War on Terror; very successful, top marks, war now in full swing. Update; war now in full swing. More headlines.

4). Flag ~ flagging.

5). Iraqi POW's ~ can of worms. Prediction; will try to find person with can-opener and hold accountable for as many PR failures as possible.

6). Not a very good month.


Apologies in advance, difficult to find something positive this week.

Disturbing events at Abu Ghraib Prison (treatment of POW's);
~ The Guardian
~ Ireland Online

(No photo's included in these links, saw pictures in a local paper today, felt ill. Not looking for photo's to link too, you've probably already seen them).


Photographs of UK forces torturing prisoners have now also been published by the Mirror. It is worrying that Amnesty International has been documenting cases of mistreatment for some time, but it is only now that photographs have surfaced that the claims are taken seriously. It is disturbing to think that if these images had never been revealed this may have become just another cover-up. How many other incidences throughout history are there that nobody knows about and probably never will, simply because a camera wasn't handy at the time.

This from the Guardian, 2 May; It was not, says the Mirror's editor Piers Morgan, an easy story to run even though he immediately knew he had a scoop when the photographs came across his desk more than a week ago... Morgan himself was worried about the effect of running such disturbing images in a paper known for its opposition to the war. He knew that no one else had the pictures. They had been given to the paper by one of the soldiers involved in the attack, which happened several months ago. His mind was made up when pictures of American atrocities against Iraqi captives were televised around the world on Thursday.

A line in the Sunday Herald 2 May mentions other recorded images of abuse, According to the British soldiers, the military police have found a video of prisoners being thrown from a bridge, echoing a similar account from Zeyad Jan 8 2004.

The same article also reports that civilian contractors were hired to conduct interrogations; No civilians, however, are facing charges as military law does not apply to them.

Colonel Jill Morgenthaler, from CentCom, said that one civilian contractor was accused along with six soldiers of mistreating prisoners. However, it was left to the contractor to “deal with himâ€‌. One civilian interrogator told army investigators that he had “unintentionallyâ€‌ broken several tables during interrogations as he was trying to “fear-upâ€‌ detainees.
Another excerpt from the same article; One of the US soldiers facing court martial is reservist Staff Sergeant Chip Frederick – ... In letters and e-mails home, he wrote: “Military intelligence has encouraged and told us "Great job". He added: “They usually don’t allow others to watch them interrogate. But since they like the way I run the prison, they have made an exception … We help getting [the PoWs] to talk with the way we handle them … We’ve had a very high rate with our style of getting them to break. They usually end up breaking within hours.â€‌

Frederick said prisoners were made to live in cramped windowless cells with no clothes, running water or toilet for up to three days. Others were held for 60 days before interrogation. He said one prisoner with a mental health condition was “shot with non-lethal roundsâ€‌. An interrogator told soldiers to “stress one prisoner out as much as possible [as] he wanted to talk to him the next dayâ€‌. Frederick also said one prisoner was “stressed so bad that the man passed awayâ€‌. Prisoners were covered in lice and some had tuberculosis. None were allowed to pray. Frederick said his commander sanctioned all this.
Quote from ex-US Marine Lieutenant Colonel Bill Cowan; “We went to Iraq to stop things like this from happening, and indeed, here they are happening under our tutelage … If we don’t tell this story, these kind of things will continue, and we’ll end up getting paid back 100 or 1000 times over.â€‌


It is not unusual for a company that perceives its image to be failing to choose to redesign its logo. While there is nothing especially wrong with a new design itself, it is the timing and the band-aid approach with which it is applied that perhaps attracts most criticism. Such a small blue and white bandage, to staunch such deep wounds.

It is not unusual that a designer might find, in redesigning a company logo, that it is not in fact the original logo itself which is at fault. Failing image is usually tied to deeper failings within a company, and faltering public opinion generally rests on experience as a customer rather then the letterhead printed on the latest monthly bill.

If belief were not already suspended it might be astonishing to see a multi billion dollar industry, which runs an entire nation of states, making such an old, common, mistake as attempting to salvage reputation by slapping a new company sticker on a new product.

~ Flag
~ Four previous Iraq flags. (up to six now, and counting... the new flag is only temporary).

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Iraq blog report

Faiza writes about the experiences of some people who fled to Baghdad from Fallujah this month. If you haven't already read it, here is the link... She begins; I thought to meet them and listen to what they are saying, and write it here. I realized that the profession of journalism needs a tough heart to listen to tragic stories - and then smile and write them in a calm way, to write the truth. Well, it seems Faiza gritted her teeth and toughened her heart and wrote what she heard; the confusion, the shock, the dusty, grimy, day to day survival that nobody seems to want to know about, because it is so unfortunately common. There is a sense of the relief that these women might have felt in finally telling their story to someone.

Zeyad's opinion of the new flag is probably shared by Riverbend.

Ays reports roads to Al-Aadamiah neighborhood north of Baghdad are blocked, some are expecting "bad news", Ays says he hopes it is just rumours and that it may be only checkpoints.

Omar notices news in the Al-Sabah newspaper; "a local armed group confronts Al-Sadr militiaâ€‌ I must admit that I felt relieved at first. At last, some Iraqi civilians took it upon themselves to fight the terrorists. But after a minute of thinking, this question came to my mind; is this what we want to see, Iraqi civilians carry arms to fight the thugs?


CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll shows conflicted feelings among Iraqis over the war and its impact...

... Most interviews were done between March 22 and April 9 -- before the latest flare-up of violence... Iraqi interviewers conducted face-to-face surveys with 3,444 adults in Arabic and Kurdish in respondents' homes. The poll covered urban and rural areas throughout Iraq, representing about 93 percent of the population. It has a sampling error of plus or minus 2 percentage points... 53 percent said they would feel less safe if the U.S.-led coalition left immediately. About half as many -- 28 percent -- said they would feel more safe. Sixty-nine percent said they or their families would be in danger if they were seen cooperating with the coalition... Two-thirds -- 67 percent -- said troops were not trying at all to keep ordinary Iraqis from being killed in exchanges of gunfire, while 18 percent said the Americans were trying only a little and 11 percent said they were trying a lot... Seventy-one percent surveyed said they saw troops mostly as occupiers, while 19 percent said they viewed them as liberators. Asked how they viewed troops at the time of the invasion a year ago, the respondents were split, with 43 percent saying they saw the coalition forces as occupiers and another 43 percent saying they considered them liberators at the time...

~ Background info; how the poll was conducted. The sample was randomly selected. About 2% refused to participate, implying that an astounding 98% took part. Translation; poll's accuracy is probably very good.

New York Times/CBS News Poll concludes US Support for War Is Down Sharply

... Asked whether the United States had done the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, 47 percent of respondents said it had, down from 58 percent a month earlier and 63 percent in December, just after American forces captured Saddam Hussein. Forty-six percent said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq, up from 37 percent last month and 31 percent in December... The diminished public support for the war did not translate into any significant advantage for Mr. Bush's Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. The poll showed the two men remaining in a statistical dead heat... The poll, conducted from Friday to Tuesday, came during a month that has seen more American soldiers killed in Iraq than in any other month since the invasion 13 months ago. In the days before the poll was conducted, a Web site obtained and publicly released for the first time photographs of soldiers' coffins returning to the United States from Iraq... The poll questioned 1,042 people. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

~ How poll was done more on methodology.

Iraq Blog Count's conclusion; People in Iraq are becoming less happy with prolonged and increased levels of violence. People in the US are also growing unhappy with increased levels of violence. War, unsurprisingly, is not going down well with civilians right now, regardless of geographic location. The rhetoric that accompanies war may be keeping speech writers busy, but everyone else is wondering when we are going to begin seeing constructive positive change. Words alone are probably not going to cut it in the next round of election campaigns.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

New Blog

Iraqi American by Baghdadi; introductory post. Pointed out by Fayrouz.

New Today; 1
Total; 42

Satellite images from Iraq. Here's the one of Fallujah, takes a while to load. Strangely beautiful.

Ok, the last post was about "News-Leak" or "News-Echo". Today's post looks at "News-Dub", that is, where the lips are moving but all other sources are saying something else.

So, we have for example Radio Free Europe reporting 28 April 2004 that Fighting subsides in Iraq with an excellent "News-Logic" quote from Brahimi; "Unless this standoff [in Al-Fallujah] -- and now this fighting -- is brought to a resolution through peaceful means, there is great risk of a very bloody confrontation". So apart from bringing us such incisive observations as; if this war doesn't end soon, there is a great risk it will continue, a sync issue can also be detected. While the articles title declares that "Fighting subsides" a quote in the body of text tells us that "Unless...this fighting -- is bought to a resolution..." suggesting that fighting has not subsided yet, and is in fact quite likely to continue.

At the same time most other news sources are headlining stories that support the continued fighting theme as deduced above; April 28 2004 The Star; Insurgents killed as US hits Fallujah Ottawa Citizen; Ceasefire shattered, U.S. strikes Fallujah and loads more here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Alright, although sometimes bloggers are occasionally on top of the news and every once in a rare while scoop a story before other media, and even though they are even quite often up with the play, posting critique on stories of the day, that is not always the case. Here is an example of (largely volontary) web-media struggling to keep up with the enormous amount of constantly changing info out there. Sometimes there is a sense these things are later posted merely to keep a record of them, rather then to be current.

This report from Voices in the Wilderness mentioning refugees leaving Fallujah was published April 26, written several days earlier, April 23, and originally reported weeks earlier by various other sources;

April 26 2004; Estimates of total refugees vary, but most reports suggest at least 60,000 Fallujans -- or about a quarter of the city's population -- have fled Fallujah for Baghdad and other cities...

April 23 2004; same story as above, different website.

April 14 2004; As many as 60,000 - one fifth of the city - may have poured into Baghdad since Friday...

April 12 2004; More than 60,000 women and children fled the city during a brief ceasefire on Friday but the US blocked any men of military age from leaving...

April 11 2004; Lt. Col. Gregg Olson, who has overseen the military activity in Fallujah, said Saturday. "I like to think that the 60,000 people who left...

I call this type of publishing "news-leak". No, not the scandalous leaks that spring out of clandestine dealings and whisper "government intrigue, state secret" in your ear. No. These leaks are the slow spreading damp from old and warn out water mains, the mundane seepage from overburdened sewerage systems, the dull drip drip of news we may or may not have heard last week and frankly are not surprised by when we do hear it. These are the news items that websites with names like "Democracy Now" and "Christian Science Monitor" and "Occupation Watch" studiously, collect, collate and preserve, while the refugees dissolve into the landscape, absorbed by relatives and friends.

Update; also known as "News-Echo".

I don't think I'll be holding my breath for women's liberties in Iraq, thanks to US intervention, if Afghanistan is any indication.

It is two and a half years since W. Bush sent his storm troopers into the Afghan desert, seeking to deliver it's long suffering people from oppression. It is pure speculation of course, but being such well trained, culturally sensitive and liberating forces, it is not too much a stretch of the imagination to envisage troops showering the grateful women of Afghanistan with brochures declaring such liberating proclamations as; "Cast aside your Burqa's!" "Women of Afghanistan, walk free!" "Lady liberty, her torch is now yours! ... ok sorry, that last one was particularly bad taste.

Anyway, as it is, the only one who seems to be roaming around free without a burqa at the moment is Osama Bin Ladin, elusive and more freshfaced with every new video he releases. But that's beside the point. Unfortunately this; "There is not a village in Farah where a young woman has not burned herself to death," is not at all beside the point. And nor is it beside the point that women in an Afghan province, so shortly after having discovered a means of expression through radio, are now again banned from performing on television and air. Radio becomes just another hollow voice echoing on the war waves - your country is free, here, have a radio station, listen to our propaganda instead. No, if life for Afghani women is anything to go by, I don't hold out that much hope for liberation in Iraq at all.

Bush's administration is in more trouble then it knows. Thought the anti war marches in Feb last year were big? Think again, Sunday's demonstration in Washington DC for Women's Lives has been estimated to be the largest demonstration in American history.

There's a lot of ladies out there Dubya', and in comparison with your goverment's policy even a promiscuous philanderer like Clinton gets better lookin' everyday.

(Apologies to anyone I may have accidently offended. I think I just had a mild keyboard fit).

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Iraq Blog Report;

Iraq Hack has published censored material. Banned images available thanks to the tenacity of The Memory Hole, who obtained these photographs after filing a freedom of information act request. The original request was rejected but after the Memory Hole appealed the ruling was reversed. So I guess these images are not banned anymore, now.

Looks like Iraq the Model will be publishing photo's soon too. (Enlightened times these. If the news isn't showing what you want to see, just file a request under the freedom of information act, or send a blogger a digital camera. Problem fixed, news by mail order).

Iraqi Expat has also obtained images.

Hammorabi is impressed by neither re-baathification; Getting the Baathists back is a fatal mistake and it will result in nothing but more credibility for those who stated that the US policy in Iraq is not democracy ...but something else nor by Paul Bremer; Democracy is not decrees and decrees are not freedom! Hammorabi, keeping it real.

Majid is succinct;
-so, let’s take those Ba’athists out of the usual day life...
-oh wait.... 90% of this country are Ba’athists.
-well ... let’s allow them back again.

(from A Conversation with Bremer, transcript reconstruction with the help of connotative evidence).

Riverbend reports; There's nothing that can describe the current feeling in the air... There's a sort of truce going on in Falloojeh but the problem is that we still hear of people being killed on both sides and areas being bombed in the city... She says there is a lot happening at the moment, but she has come down with the "so much is happening how do i blog it my pc despises me" flu. This flu, though not lethal, can have serious deblogatory side effects. Conspiracy theorists have dubbed it blogilogical warfare and suspect the outbreak originated in a poorly quarantined web research laboratory. A recent plea in the shoutbox from another Iraqi blogger appears consistant with the flu's symptoms. All bloggers that feel they may be coming down with a bout of this are advised to rest, drink plenty of liquids, and eat well. Riverbend will pull through, and more blogging will follow.

Update (re Memory Hole images).

"It is a disgrace that soldiers experience instability as they return home and, sadly, hundreds of homeless vets today call municipal shelters their home"... story about a veteran from the Bronx who served four months in Iraq dishing out food rations and supplying soldiers with toilet paper. The New York times (thanks Bouillabaisse).

Friday, April 23, 2004

News scavenging? Iraqi Freedom seems to have fairly regular updates from various sources. I'm adding it to the sidebar too.

41 Iraq blogs. That is really very few. Fewer still are the Iraq bloggers inside Iraq, from what I can see there are about 15 or 16 blogging regularly from inside Iraq. According to the CIA world factbook the population of Iraq, as estimated at July 2003, was 24,683,313. Even allowing for war you wouldn't think there have been so many casualties that only 15 out of 24,683,313 are left alive to blog (yes I know, there are more things in heaven and earth then blogging, but 41 blogs from the land of the worlds most famous blogger, that is not many).

Why so few? Could it be that now Iraq is liberated there is no need to blog? Perhaps Iraq is far less liberated then some would like to think, blogging still too risky. But presumptions like this do not really help, or make sense when compared with evidence available from the rest of the world. The US, landmark of liberty, has thousands of bloggers. Iran, with the dubious distinction of having arrested a journalist for blogging, has hundreds of bloggers, in both Farsi and english, many of them women. So why are there so few Iraq bloggers, and why are so many of them young men? Is it internet access? Is it fear? Living in a war zone difficulties? Spare time and cash? Is it lack of information? Do people in Iraq know that it is possible to keep a diary that thousands around the world can read (and probably would if they knew it was from Iraq)? Do people in Iraq know that it is possible to keep a diary in Arabic or Persian, online, to share hopes, dreams and criticisms with each other this way? Are Iraqis modest? Do they not want a thousand leering eyes peering into their hearts?

Why? Why the silence?

Many internet cafes have opened in Baghdad and Basra in the last year. Does business thrive for them? Does it thrive on the business of overseas journalists and soldiers? Do ordinary Iraqis use these places? To Email? To blog? Meet a friend? What would happen, if a blog-cafe opened in Baghdad? Would people be afraid to use it?

The pentagon is holding writers workshops to encourage troops to record their wartime experiences. How can the people living in occupied locales be encouraged to write about their experiences?

US administration must be very generous, if not especially efficient. Click here to see approximately how much the removal of one dictator costs. With a price tag like that I can't imagine there'll be much of a market for regime change, even allowing for barter.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Additions to sidebar;

Iraq Net; News. Relatively moderate not-especially-biased positive spin. Has a recent story about Iraq's bloggers (and a comprehensive list of Iraq blogs that looks startlingly similiar to the list Iraq Blog Count has been counting).

Iraq Daily; News.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Conflict continues, this time in Basra where UK troops are based, 68 are killed in suicide bombings targeting police stations.

The Pentagon draws up plans to increase troops "if needed" (more funds may be requested) while Blair has no plans to increase troops, and seems to be having polling problems. Results from a Guardian survey show that support for the war has slumped from 53% in January to 41%. A similar specter looms in the US with young voters becoming increasingly politically aware, and president Bush's "re-election" campaign losing financial advantage (why should a re-election campaign be needed? Did it matter the last time?). Things are getting a bit tight. What would you do, if you were a president in a similar position? Why, but of course, urge a patriot act renewal.

The provisions up for reauthorization include such controversial measures as so-called ''roving wiretaps,'' as well as broad search powers that critics say violate the Fourth Amendment.

But Bush expanded his call Monday, asking Congress to further strengthen the legislation that's raised the ire of civil libertarians and some within his own party by broadening the government's ability to issue subpoenas, to tighten bail provisions and to expand the federal death penalty statute ... ''Some in Congress not only want to expire, they want it rolled back,'' Bush said in a 45-minute speech that sketched out a vision of a world where America stands as the only bulwark against terrorists who ''have no soul and have no conscience.''

Some in Congress want to expire? How inconsiderate, some people just have no soul and no conscience.

Blog documentation of oil for food scandal; Friends of Saddam.

About the blog blurb (Stephen is looking for co-authors/partners in crime/dirt. Visit the blurb for more info).

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

It is becoming clear that war is not only an undesirable method of "forging ahead" but also a futile one. Up until now, as long as war has been profitable there has always been someone willing to try it, to weigh the overheads against the net gain, the broken lives against the financial ledgers.

Trench and chemical warfare, the first cases of shell shocked survivors, starving civilians and livestock, the burned villages and pillaged fields of WWI were enough for people to declare never again. A scant few decades later, humanity outdid itself in the hellstakes with WWII. Since then, public response to war, although always silently disapproving, has grown increasingly vocal. Vietnam, Algiers, the horror of Cambodia's killing fields, pages and pages could be filled with war and the names of the places it has taken. Each time a war breaches public consciousness we recoil, and in trying to comprehend our atrocities we look for a villain, for a Pol Pot, a Milosevic, a Saddam, someone to lift the blame from our shoulders and unburden us of guilt. How could we let this happen? Again. And again. And again. And the tests. The Christmas Islands, the Mururoa Atolls, the hidden military laboratories, the people, the primates we sometimes substituted.

Each time we hear of a new war our resolve solidifies, our horror fixes, the danger seems a little closer to home, the image a little too real. It becomes clearer and clearer that war can never be conducted tidily. Each has its own hidden cripple that sooner or later crawls towards the light where we can see it. The Falklands, the 1990's Gulf War, Kosovo. Finally Kosovo. Suddenly what seemed to be a simple minimal collateral air run became hundreds of thousands of people streaming towards borders, a humanitarian crisis within weeks. An unexpected tragedy, and just one more reason for the UN's reluctance in endorsing this latest middle eastern misadventure. Has there ever been a successful war? No. The short answer, is no. Has there ever been a war somebody made money out of? Yes. There have been a handful of people who have profited at the expense of everyone and everything else. Is it worth it? No. It is not worth it.

And am I going to march down some street bawling "troops out now"? No. I am not. Let W Bush have his troops. Let him deploy them all over the world. Let him chew up his military budget, and then his domestic budget, and finally his own salary. Let him deploy his troops and never give them a moments rest, until they are tired and weary of their futile expeditions, of the dirt and sweat and grit and noise and stench and uncomfortable clothing and infrequent sleep and lost companions, let them grow tired of the empty jaws their administrations slap together, mashing out words between teeth and tongue till no one can understand anymore. Yes, let W Bush deploy his troops all over the world until tired and sick with war and its false promises his own troops turn on him.

the United States under W Bush has troops in 135 countries. Here is the list:

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Costa Rica
Cote Dأƒâ€ڑأ‚’lvoire
Czech Republic
Dominican Republic
East Timor
El Salvador
New Zealand
North Korea
Saudi Arabia
Serbia and Montenegro
Sierra Leone
South Africa
South Korea
Sri Lanka
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom

(a lot of prospective purchases for ihath, may prosperity shine upon her megalomania.)

Monday, April 19, 2004

Help, the Jarrar family have revoluted and are taking over the Iraq blogosphere, this is there seventh blog;

Me vs Myself; Majid's blog actually began in February, but i neglected to count it (sorry Majid, your family have too many blogs to keep up with) ... Presenting... "It's been 17 years since I was born, and the only fact I know about myself is that I'm 17." Majid, who brings to us teenage angst from Iraq that it's universal appeal may unite teenagers throughout the globe and free them from their, um, teenage shackles.

New Today; 1
Total; 41

Maa’ Assalama

Sunday, April 18, 2004

I was looking for something else today and found an old bit of writing dated April 1999. This was at about the time NATO was bombing Belgrade, and refugees were streaming into Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro, a year before Milosevic was overthrown.

It is not an especially outstanding piece of writing. Here it is word for word;

I am horrified. I think the whole world is in shock. The only ones who speak of it are the newspapers and the t.v. Everyone continues with their daily lives. The unspeakable has happened. A tragedy so enormous is unfolding that no-one can truly grasp it. Not in our day and age. Not in our civilisation. For we are, civilised. It could not happen again ever, and surely not so soon. How could such a barbaric thing occur. How could we not possibly have learnt anything. It is not our fault. It is that madman. And we are safely miles away. Safely? The whole world seems in disarray everyone is fighting someone or for something. And to make matters worse, those who were formerly dissidents on the edge are now eagerly jumping into the fray while the chance for vengeance is high. It will be short and very very bloody. But it has been boiling at least the best part of a decade and who knows what is brewing at the core and who has really been stirring the flames. And in the name of what. I suspect it is not so cleancut a horror story and I imagine someone else has stoked that tyrants pot, and is stoking others too for their own ends to unity. And what price to pay for that.

There was a question I remember asking myself at that time; in the event of increased conflict, how would a media savy population react to increased propaganda promoting war? I mean, most of the world has had television for the best part of half a century now. The Balkans wars were not the first to make televised primetime news. Vietnam, the Falklands, previous Gulf wars, all these have been televised to some extent. But even since the early 1990's Gulf conflicts, the increasing degree of propaganda western populations have been exposed to is phenomenal. No, I don't mean political propaganda, I mean the sort that tells us which dishwashing detergent to buy, or which brand of tea will make us happier, which toothpaste to use and which toilet paper is softer... you know the sort, you see it everyday. Advertising companies have been in a bind for years because of consumer fatigue - we know bull when we see it. So, if we can recognise hype in the form of an advertisement telling us a hamburger and fries are wholesome - then surely we could recognise hype telling us bombs will bring peace to the earth.

I wondered what would happen; a). How would we react to war propaganda, and; b). How would propaganda machines counter the cynical nature of a media saturated public? Well, five years later I guess I have an answer to those questions.

What do the Balkans have to do with Iraq and the Middle East? Why do I have a sinking feeling? Why does conflict always seem so unique each time it arises? Why are we so easily persuaded that deadlines are tight and that change can proceed only when accompanied by weapons or mindless slogan repetition?

Time is never short and we have all the hindsight we need, centuries of it. Change can proceed without weapons and without mindless slogan shouting. Change can proceed with careful consideration, and will be stronger and more stable for it. There is usually an approximate ten year period that follows political upheaval. This is the formative period. What forms during this time can be changed also, but is less likely to.

New Blogs.

Ahmed's Blog; Ahmed is Nabil's neighbour (Nabil is Zeyad's younger brother).

Raed in Japanese; Nofrills (Tokyo, Japan) has translated Raed. You will need to install Japanese text display to read Raed in Japanese.

New Today; 2
Total; 40

Friday, April 16, 2004

On Liberation and loss there-off.

Sorry, I haven't posted much about Iraq blogs for a few days. There are, unsurprisingly, no new ones to count. If I were living in a war zone, I would probably be too pre-occupied to start a web site too.

I have been here though, reading Iraq blogs that already exist from people who are busting their backs to shed light on their circumstances for the rest of the world; Faiza, Raed, Khalid, Riverbend and Zeyad. See sidebar links for more.

Most of the boys (young men) seem pretty mobile and move around quite a bit, reporting scenes from all over Baghdad, and also reporting gossip from other young mobile men friends.

Women's freedom of movement seems more restricted, by safety concerns if nothing else, although Faiza does report quite a bit from traveling to work and also hears regular news from her customers. Riverbend does not seem so fortunate. She writes last month of a rare trip out, to Karrada - a shopping area. She writes that this area used to be full of women, but that they are now a startling minority. She describes the subtle pressures she now feels in visiting the area as one of the few woman in the street not wearing the Hijab.

Others (if you click on that link, be prepared for the WWII propaganda posters at the bottom of the page) have written about the changing roles of women during and after war, but this seems to reflect the experience of western women. I am not sure that much has been written about the experiences of middle eastern women during and between wars. I don't have the experience to give such a topic fair coverage and am only making distant observations. If anyone is reading this who has something to add, or thinks I am off mark, would like to disagree, or has valuable personal experience - please, feel free to comment. The comments facilities on this blog are fairly safe. No-one will be edited, discussion, experience sharing and dissent is welcome (although insult slinging and intimidation is not). It would be very interesting to hear from anyone who has anything to say.

War in western countries, WWII especially, has been credited, in an unexpected twist of fate, with increased freedoms for woman. Women who filled the roles of absent conscripted men, providing the labour force for western countries during previous periods of conflict, acquired a taste for working outside of standard domestic roles. When these wars were over, women in western countries sometimes continued to work outside of the home, probably as many of their husbands simply did not return, and those who did were not neccessarily capable of work. Women became workers, mothers and nurses for their own broken men.

In middle eastern countries the opposite seems to be true, there is a sense that liberties are clamped down on, probably because of safety fears, as well as other politic-religio reasons which I do not feel qualified to talk about. Women begin to wear traditional forms of protection - the Hijab and full body covering garments seem almost in this sense to become a form of armour in order to move outside the home. Remember this old post from Nawar?

Blogging - Random

I heard an interesting discussion on air this morning about weblogging. Guests on air included some people I have never heard of before this week; Jay Rosen, Lee Rainie and Rebecca Blood.

So, here are my novice thoughts about weblogging, disagree if you like. Blogging is a medium of reciprocal exchange. It does not replace other forms of media. What it does often do is enrich & bring together other forms of media, sometimes intentionally but more often then not I suspect accidentally. The experienced and inexperienced are free to mix and sometimes even do; age, gender, ethnicity, web experience, income and dress sense at times mysteriously dissolving online. Bloggers share ideas, info & technical support. They express, entertain, air dissent and lapse into embarrassing bouts of poetry. Most bloggers do all this absolutely for free, and increasingly for the sake of freedom itself.

I have heard discussions before about current public scepticism for traditional forms of media. This scepticism is perhaps traditional in itself. In 1945 Osmar White, a journalist traveling through occupied Germany, encounters a similar scepticism in, of all people, a population that is traditionally described as compliant and thought of as media malleable. This from a sheet metal worker he spoke with at the time;

Q; Did you ever listen to British radio?
A; Sometimes. Everybody did.

Q; Did you believe what you heard?
A; It was propaganda. There was more truth in it then the newspapers. But it was only propaganda.

Q; Then it didn't make much difference one way or the other?
A; No. We listened only to find out what was going on.


Q; Then you didn't believe even in German propaganda?
A; No it was only propaganda.

Cynicism is perhaps a survival mechanism, and bloggers can be found critiquing themselves as much as they critique other forms of media. That is not to say all bloggers are twisted, distrustful, malcontents - some are disarmingly honest & reveal vulnerabilities that are humbling. Others would probably be ringing talkback radio if they didn't have blogs.

Personally, I believe that some traditional forms of media have become far more conscious, accountable and exploratory then they have been in a long time. I suspect blogging is part of a wider spontaneous consciousness which is also occurring in other traditional forms of media.

Blogs, if nothing else, are artifacts of our time. In the same way that a 2000 year old broken pottery shard tells us about the life of someone 2000 years ago, so does a blog tell us about life today. From the teenager who tells us he is babysitting his younger sister while she pesters him at his keyboard, to media heavyweights, to journalists who write for paper publications and on personal blogs, to people blogging from war zones. Yes, it is risky, yes, it is worth it, and yes, anybody can do it. (Even with a beaten up second hand pc and intermittent internet connection).

Now, enough about my ideas, there are other blogs to read.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

I heard about this a few days ago; a freelance journalist who managed to obtain a videotape used by a resistance group to recruit new members. The story; what the DVD reveals is that coalition forces have underestimated the enemy because they didn't even know who they are: ordinary Iraqis frustrated and humiliated by the occupation.

Meanwhile, these reassuring words from the current US president George Bush; "Nobody likes to see dead people on their television screens."

The images from Iraq that I have been seeing over the last few weeks are full of young men outdoors waving weapons. If I were to assess the composition of Iraq's population based on the images I have been seeing, I might be forgiven for thinking Iraq is full of young men running high on adrenalin. Where are the women? Why aren't stories about Iraq's female population making cutting edge news? Could it be, Mr President, that in sparing the west from images of dead people on tv, the media is also sparing us from footage of women outdoors in Iraq?

More outdoor pictures; Marines in Fallujah.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Just heard on my local radio that British forces are sounding very fustrated with the way things have been handled. I'll publish a link to the story soon.

From Sean Rayment, London; One senior officer said that America's aggressive methods were causing friction among allied commanders and that there was a growing sense of "unease and frustration" among the British high command. The officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, said part of the problem was that American troops viewed Iraqis as untermenschen - the Nazi expression for "sub-humans". and that is just the beginning, the article goes on; "The US troops view things in very simplistic terms. It seems hard for them to reconcile subtleties between who supports what and who doesn't in Iraq. It's easier for their soldiers to group all Iraqis as the bad guys. As far as they are concerned Iraq is bandit country and everybody is out to kill them." and finishes; The officer believed that America had now lost the military initiative in Iraq... TheTelegraph UK

The Age carries the same story; The officer explained that, under British military rules of war, British troops would never be given clearance to carry out attacks similar to those being conducted by the US military, in which helicopter gunships have been used on targets in urban areas.

As a result, the Daily Star reports a softer line;...US officials agreed to the cease-fire at the behest of their allies in Iraq who roundly criticized the military operation. (A softer line? Soft seems an incongruous word to be following mayhem with. Exhausted perhaps, or weary, or maybe even doubtful - but soft?).

Cease-fire ABC News Online uses plainer language; Iraq's interim Governing Council is calling for a nationwide cease-fire, including in Fallujah, hours before a temporary truce between US troops and insurgents is due to expire. In a statement after a session on the deteriorating security situation, the council calls for a "global cease-fire ... The US-installed council is calling for meetings with all political, tribal, religious leaders in Fallujah and Najaf.

And like a mouse on an exercise wheel, watching the rungs go by - doesn't this one look familiar? Another "kill or capture" mission was apparently being prepared last night.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Iraq, land of rumours...

Secrets in Baghdad; people came from falluja (today), with a new story: they said "the mojahideen only destroyed the American vehicles and left, then a foreigner photographer came and offered some people who were standing there 200$ to burn the bodies and let him take the pictures..

Back to Iraq 3.0; This just in. Thanks go out to reader Odis, working in Baghdad, who has forwarded me a scanned flyer purportedly from Muqtada al-Sadr calling for an end to the fighting that has killed at least 42 Coalition troops and hundreds of Iraqis this week.
The translation is roughly as follows:
...(sentiments re authenticity with-held).

Wires; Tonight I got an email message from the commander of a battalion of US troops, somewhere near Tikrit, asking me to evaluate the Iraqi personality. He cut his message short because he thought that his position was being attacked by mortars. This is the reply that I sent him… (careful, wires).

Healing Iraq has many observations;
You can now clearly see what we call 'looting scouts' in every neighbourhood. They are easily recognised because they are strangers, often unkempt and ragged, and they look right and left in excitement, spreading all kinds of eerie rumours...

...I don't know about the situation in other areas of Baghdad, some bloggers are reporting that things are 'normal', however I'm afraid that the word 'normal' has lost any meaning it has in Iraq today...

...A whole year has passed now and I can't help but feel that we are back at the starting point again. The sense of an impending disaster, the ominous silence, the breakdown of most governmental facilities, the absence of any police or security forces, contradicting news reports, rumours everywhere, and a complete disruption in the flow of everyday life chores...

...It is the most foolish and selfish thing to say "pull the troops out", or "replace them with the UN or NATO". Someone has to see us through this mess. And on that, paradoxically, I have to agree. So long as there are US occupying forces in Iraq, there will be a a media spotlight on Iraq, and regardless of the factual certainty/uncertainty that accompanies this media coverage, at least it means Iraq does not slip off the radar. So, go on, out you go, trawl through what ever media resources you have and keep your eyes pinned on Iraq. If you hear silence, be very suspicious. It is strange but this whole weekend has had me comparing the politics of war to scenes of domestic violence. Do you remember the Tracy Chapman song?

Last night I heard the screaming
Loud voices behind the wall
Another sleepless night for me
Won't do no good to call
The police
Always come late
If they come at all

And when they arrive
They say they can't interfere
With domestic affairs
Between a man and his wife
And as they walk out the door
The tears well up in her eyes

Have you ever felt powerless while someone else suffers, and without knowing what else to do, turned a blind eye? Or, have you ever had a blind eye turned on you? No, I don't think soldiers and guns and tanks are ever the answer, and yes, I do wish they didn't even exist, and no, I will never ever ever support war. But I do agree with Zeyad, "Troops out Now" is a lame slogan and can't even begin to address what is going in Iraq and also in the rest of the world right now.

When I realised people were actually reading this blog I made an effort to be non judgemental and keep my own opinions out of this blog. But like it or not, freedom to express opinion has become a salient issue in this war. If you don't like it, feel free to comment - weblogs may be one of the last bastions of freedom of speech (In Iraq, and increasingly in western areas of the globe).

If I haven't curdled your blood yet, you might be interested in reading on. Reports from both bloggers in Iraq and other media sources seem to collude that things have quietened down. Some seem to feel that things could still boil over, but I am going to go out on a limb and say with totally unfounded guesswork that things may improve more then you'd expect.

Iraq and Iraqi's concludes with; It was a calm day I hope it will continue to calm down and all the hostages to be released.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

The View from Baghdad. Whoever is publishing this blog is working for an international NGO in Baghdad and is blogging to give a view of what is happening on the ground in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq that you might not find in other forums. Posts signed mysteriously "The View". Good pic's.

Update; (well, I suppose it's a compliment when the Blogeoisie start requesting acknowledgments).

Friday, April 09, 2004

This week will be over soon, but those In Iraq who survive it will probably be soothing burnt out tensions for decades. How does peace follow war? With a limp and a hollow vow; "never again". How does peace follow war? With a weary population crawling back to the surface, assessing the damage, and piecing together their lives, again.

My stomach tied in knots
Hands tied behind my back
What difference could I make
This far away

Iraq is Iraq, not Vietnam, not Afghanistan, not some lesson in political poker. No historical lottery prize is ever awarded for pinning the tail on revenge. Any number of recent or ancient events could be pulled into the arena, any number of faces implicated, but it is human temper that sustains circumstance. A temper flares, a temper wanes. Anger as brief as regret is timeless.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Iraq Blog Count; an educational resource. Thank you Mr Woods.

And kids, remember, this site is run by an amateur. You can fairly much ignore what Emigre says, just follow the links.

Heard on radio a few hours ago; a Sunni~Shiite releif convoy is marching towards Fallujah with food and medical supplies.; Muslim groups called for Iraqis to march peacefully to the predominantly Sunni town and to take supplies there, AFP said.

And on CBC news; Fallujah hospital director Taher Al-Issawi said Thursday that more than 280 Iraqis had died in the fighting since Monday... But the casualty count is a shocking one for the Americans as well, with 30 U.S. soldiers being killed since the weekend.

You either laugh or you cry. Try a smile with this Khalidism; the country is revoluting. Read Khalid's latest, he has a short story to tell about American soldiers who sheltered overnight in a mosque in Sadir city, the Imam (sheikh) of the mosque offered them protection saying (Khalid's translation) "they seeked protection..and our islamic morals prevents us from hurting long as they are inside..they are under my protection."

Riverbend, echoing a sentiment in Healing Iraq's post yesterday, is reminded of events this time last year; I woke up to the sound of explosions and gunfire last night and for one terrible moment I thought someone had warped me back a whole year and we would have to relive this last year of our life over and over again…

Faiza posts again; I heard that people are arranging a blood donation campaign. They say that hospitals are full with injured and killed people.

Nabil, usually the Iraqi blog sport channel, blogs that The situation in Iraq now become more bad and more than bad because the Sheia Muslims are fighting the collusion Forces and the Sunni Muslims are fighting them from another side and We the Iraqi citizens are hurt of what happens.

From Iraq Hack; the lieutenant, a two-star officer of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, said, grabbing another firefighter. "He may wear this uniform, but he is Mahdi Army." Then the lieutenant tapped his own chest. "We may work for the government now," Lieutenant Kadar said. "But if anything happens, we all work for Sadr."

Omar, on Iraq The Model, talking about Muqtada, would prefer to see the IP capture him rather than the coalition soldiers because this -although maybe difficult- will show that Iraqis will stop who tries to harm our people and destroy our future even if he's a cleric and even if he has many aggressive supporters.

Another mosque story from the Jarrar quarters, this time from Raed; “Yes, we destroyed the mosque at Falluja because terrorists were hiding inside it, and we killed many ENEMIES hiding thereâ€‌. Read past Raed's staple comic routine and he gets serious with The Three Smart Political Steps of the Day: finishing; Killing hundreds of Iraqis and dozens of foreign soldiers (Americans, Brits, Italians, Polish, Ukrainians, El Salvadorians and others) is not the answer.

... and Iraqi Spirit quotes Emily Bronte.

Everybody has opinion/analysis to offer, but there does seem to be a consensus that many people are staying indoors if possible, and are generally keeping their heads down, if not their blogs.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Faiza sheds more light on recent events, and shares gossip from the shop; "an American tank was hit and burned, but an American helicopter took it away so that journalists won’t see it.â€‌

Healing Iraq has another update, including such gems as; I was standing outside with neighbours yesterday afternoon gossiping when a car drove by, threw a couple of fliers at us, shouting "read them, may Allah increase your reward".

Back to Iraq also has more, Iraq Hack has published and Iraqi Spirit follows a review of the Falluja incident with these observations;
~ Ever since the creation of Iraq, it has been like a pressure cooker that is waiting to blow up.
~ At the end of the day there are some underlying problems that have been there since before Saddam has come to power and they simply need to be fixed.
~ Iraq and Iraqis need to have a long period of peace and tranquility, to heal them internally as they have never experienced this kind of life for any sustained period of time.

And from where i am? These two quotes extracted from a paper today;

1. An (un-named) senior pentagon official focusing on al-Sadr and his followers; "We are going to focus on dis-banding them, de-arming them and we'll do that deliberately and with a plan". (Aye? As opposed to without a plan? Accidentally?)

2. Abu Musab Zarqawi, quoted as an Al Qaeda operative, in an audio tape aired on an Islamic web site; "We will not let you off, you snakes of evil, until you lift your hands off our mosques and stop shedding the blood of Sunnis".

Well, what a swell party this is. I can see things are going swimmingly and expect peace shall be restored in no time at all, with the efficiency, tact and diplomacy that we all know and trust so.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

A bit has been going on these last few days. American administrators are due to hand over sovereignty to a new transitional government in Iraq by June, and the pressure seems to have accelerated this week. If you scroll all the way down the bottom of the side bar you'll be able to see the most recent posts from Iraq bloggers on the situation. Superficially, it seems violence has flared up following the gruesome deaths of four Americans employed by a security company (unclear about details of the company), the arrest of a Sadr aide in connection with the murder of a rival cleric last year and the shutting down of a pro-Sadr newspaper last week. I say superficially because of a sense that there are also other deeper tensions distorting events, and i don't really know enough about them to be any clearer.

Zeyad blogs from almost onsite "I wanted to take some pictures but my father and uncle both said they would shoot me on the spot if I tried". Raed has been posting daily since Sunday, while Riverbend blogs on Riots/Demonstrations by Al-Sadr's followers in Baghdad and Najafby, and then resorts to stargazing. What else can one do? Ruin ourselves on earth we might, illuminated by the spectral light of suns already expired. Chris, on Back to Iraq 3.0, has comprehensive coverage "Sunday was bad. Very bad.", and Salam talks straight; Every body, even the GC is very careful how they formulate their sentences and how they describe Sadir's Militias. They are thugs, thugs thugs. There you have it.

This blog has also posted a link about what is going on. Not an Iraq blog, but worth checking the links he posted on Monday and Sunday. David is also, quote, "not wasting bandwidth repeating anyone's party line", and has a hip template (even if it's not his).

And, from outside Iraq, way over the other side of the world...this morning on the radio I heard part of an interview with the editor of an independent news paper which was pulling out of Iraq. The paper was called Iraq Today, and the editor decided after receiving death threats that it was time to go. Unfortunately it was early, I was sleepy, and that was all I heard. I found this though, and i think this might be the paper.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Karaoke blog war has been declared, and is quietly underway. Don't say i didn't warn you.

Alright, enough with disclaimers. This song was originally banned in the US, but Sarah Jones revolted, took the case to court, and won. Now the song is free to air, not that you'll be hearing it much, these days. Sarah Jone's lyric's reference her contemporaries indiscriminately, her voice expressively dripping with sarcasm and ruthless with disillusionment over the west's later 20th century sexual revolution.

Probably you may need to exercise the subversive cells in your brain to relate this to blog counting.

Your Revolution ~ DJ Vadim feat Sarah Jones 1999

Your revolution will not happen between these thighs
Your revolution will not happen between these thighs
The real revolution ain't about booty size,
The Versaces you buys,
Or the Lexus you drives.
And though we've lost Biggie Smalls,
Baby your
Notorious revolution will never allow you
to 'lace no lyrical douche
In my bush.
Your revolution will not be you killing me softly with fujees
Your revolution ain't gonna knock me up without no ring and produce little future M.C.'s
Because that revolution, will not happen between these thighs.
Your revolution will not find me in the back seat of a jeep with L.L.
Hard as hell,
You know "doing it an' doing an' doing it well",
You know "doing it an' doing it an' doing it well" oh no, u no
Your revolution will not be you smackin' it up, flippin' it or rubbin' it down
Nor will it take you downtown,
For humping around
Because that revolution will not happen between these thighs.
Your revolution will not have me singing "ain't no nigger, like the one I got"
Your revolution will not be you sending me for no drip drip V.D. shot
Your revolution will not involve me "uh' feeling your nature rise"
Or helping you fantasize
Because, that, revolution will, not, happen between these thighs
O no, not between these thighs, o no
My naked brother, your revolution will not make you feel "a' bombastic"
"And really fantastic"
And have you groping in the dark for that rubber wrapped in plastic, a' a'
You will not be touching your lips
To my triple dip
Of french~vanilla butter~pecan chocolate~deluxe
Or having Akinyele dreams, mhm
A six foot blow job machine, mhm
You wanna subjugate your Queen, aha.
Think I'm gonn' put it in my mouth just because you made a few bucks? Please brother, please
Your revolution will not be me tossing my weave
And making me believe
I'm some caviar eating ghetto Mafia clown
Or me giving up my behind
Just so I can get signed
And maybe have somebody else write my rhymes
I'm Sarah Jones, not Foxy Brown
You know I'm Sarah Jones

Your revolution makes me wonder; where could we go,
If we could drop the empty psuedo-props and the ego
We'd revolve back to our roots, use a little common sense,
On a quest to make love, De la soul, no pretense.

But, your revolution will not be you flexing your little sex
And status to express
What you feel

Your revolution
Will not happen between these thighs,
Will not happen between these thighs

Will not be you shaking
And me *yawn* faking,
Between these thighs

Because the real revolution
That's right, I said the real revolution
You know, I'm talking about the revolution

When it comes,

It's gonna
be real
It's gonna
be real
It's gonna
be real

When it finally comes

It's gonna
be real

Friday, April 02, 2004

Back to blog things, have you read any of these lately?;

Fayrouz (in passion)
River (in sympathy)
Faiza (in retrospect)

And; Raed has groovified his blog.

Ok, bear with me on this art thing, I just read about the Hewar Gallery in a magazine today; the Hewar Gallery courtyard...

... in conjunction with the Hewar Gallery, this is Artvitae's entrance page to "Live from Baghdad" an online exhibition and sale of artworks by Baghdadi artists. There are a couple of other interesting links on the opening page to help set the scene. Then ~ to the show. There are 51 pieces, you can click on an image to find out who it's artist is, and/or send an e-postcard of the art.

I've been reading a bit about the Iraqi art scene, but you might as well go and see for yourself rather then have me just rehashing what i've read.

It's interesting, there seems to be/have been a quite strong art movement in Baghdad, drawing significantly from expressionism. I've mentioned I think before, the parallels that could be drawn between German expressionists in the early 20th century and expressionism in Iraq during the Saddam years. Although, of course, there are differences too. An artist learns how to survive, even in the harshest conditions, some perhaps learn how to save their souls from withering by speaking in images. Expressing emotion is often risky and if the risk of arrest is additional then maybe that is an insight into the heart of an artist, express and risk possible execution, or contain and risk suicide. The stories of these artists are as varied as anyone's, and seem to cover a subtle spectrum that at times ignores politics, and at other times can't escape it.

(And in case you wondered, those are 100% un-rehashed original Emigre thoughts).

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Another account from another lighting installer who went to Baghdad to install some light (in a TV studio).

And; Ihath seems to think she may be losing credibility, meanwhile I am loosing count of how many times i have linked to her blog. Ihath, your credibility rating just soared off the chart, i am giving up writing now, b'cos nothing compares, nothing u...

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