Wednesday, June 30, 2004

New Blog

Live from Baghdad; posted live, from Baghdad, by Ayad.

observations and analysis on everything under the sun

New Today; 1
Total; 48


How might feeble attempts to manipulate public opinion be identified? Perhaps by prime timed execution and lack of impact. The interim Govt has been installed. Saddam has been handed over. Bremer has flown at the bequest of his publicity advisers.

smh 26/06/2004
key British officials are urging the much-disliked American administrator to pack immediately and make his flight out of Baghdad a big media event, in the hope that Iraqis might believe that occupation has ended.
(Paul McGeough)

(pffft, Bremer in the air means the occupation has ended? Well we all who blog know how little physical presence means when it comes to meddling in other countries politics).

Yes, insincerity is all in the timing.

As for trying to raise some kind of handclap in palming off Saddam - puleeease besides it avoids the real issue; how are future tyrannies best prevented? Prevention would tend to be the more important issue one might think, tyrant removal being the tricky and seemingly too often ineffective business that it is. One might observe that an expired tyrants structures are too easily claimed by other tyrannical bodies, while the period of anarchy following a tyrants demise primes a populace to accept almost anything in replacement for the sake of order. It would be better to consider ways of avoiding tyranny in the first place. Tyranny is best avoided by considering the circumstances under which tyrants come to power and then addressing these issues. While prevention is preferable, it is worth noting that tyrant removal is perhaps best conducted by those who have suffered the tyrants boot, rather then by some mock after the fact "here we caught the fox, now you can play with it" trial.

Meanwhile archbishops write in protest to Blair, mothers mourn and arms flood into Iraq.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


A token post in exchange for, well, a token exchange.

Is it worth writing more then two lines about how sneaky i think the whole thing is?

New Blog

1001 Nights ~ blogged by Haj, who has spent quite a bit of time in Iraq over the last year and seems to be there right now...

Here's a bit from Haj's latest post;

I collaborate a lot here with an older guy who is an independent like me and over here on his own. Let's call him Joe. We have become fast friends and he has turned into one of the few people I trust implicitly here. Loners need to stick together, especially in Iraq. I don't know why I like him. Perhaps its because he's a down to earth working class guy from Bayonne, New Jersey who tells it like it is. Maybe its his Polish ancestry and his weathered bald head...

(Expat of Iranian/Middle Eastern/American heritage - i think).

Monday, June 28, 2004

Best worst link of the week.

Suspend all tact, diplomacy, cultural sensitivity and... what's that other one called? Oh yeah, political correctness. Now take a deep breath and click on this link. (Saddam's Cyber Palace, extreme bad taste, take the poll and laugh).

Sunday, June 27, 2004


Andrew Wilkie'ss book Axis of Deceit is "out", well as much of it as hasn't been censored that is. (If you need to sign in to view that link you can try username emigre1 password ibc1 if you like).

Andrew Wilkie is the Australian former military officer and senior intelligence analyst who resigned a week before the war in Iraq.

With insider knowledge, his book details how the case for war in Iraq was constructed and presented (to Australians).

Other interesting facts; Shortly before the book was due for release a copy of the manuscript arrived mysteriously, without the authors permission, in the hands of Captain Martin Toohey - a Navy Reserve lawyer - who forwarded it "in alarm" to the Australian Attorney-General's department. (It is understood Captain Martin feared he may have been set up upon receiving the manuscript. A Vietnam Vet, he no doubt spooked himself and thought he'd better dob in Wilkie's book). As a consequence the Attorney-General secretary, Robert Cornall, called Mr Wilkie's publishers and the book has since been heavily censored.

So, who still thinks all the fun happens in the Northern hemisphere? Sleep easy dear readers, secure in the knowledge that intrigue blossoms in the south as it does in the east, west and north.

Gunner Palace

Mike Tucker documentary update. You may remember me mentioning Mike's documentary, Gunner Palace, before. The Guardian gave it a write up a few days ago. Mike is in the process of looking for a distributor for the film, so keep an eye out for it. In the meantime, here's a link to the Guardian article;

"One distinctive thing about Gunner Palace is that the soldiers speak freely. I had no minder, nobody screened my footage," Tucker said. "I was allowed to do whatever I wanted for two months."

"A lot of soldiers told me that they resented people at home, a lot of the cheerleading going on. War has become a kind of entertainment. One soldier says, at the end of the film, when you get off your couch with your microwave popcorn, you're going to forget about this, but we'll never forget.

"He's not saying whether he's for it or against it. None of the soldiers really did. I think that's the last thing on their minds."

Most, he says, just wanted to go home.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Another Link

From Baghdad to New York ~ news, events etc. Even handed coverage. From Baghdad to New York says;

Welcome to Our goal is to provide the world with facts about Iraq and Iraqi people. We want to show the world the truth about how Iraqi people really feel.

New Blog

Life In Baghdad

This weblogger seems to have been posting quietly from Baghdad since Jan this year. He has been writing letters to friends with news from Baghdad since at least June 2003, and later began publishing the letters on this blog. As the writer of these letters says;

We have lived very very strange days, that I cannot just let them go by without sharing them with someone.

He has some interesting observations to offer, tinged with black humour. Just to give you a style taste, here are a few more quotes.

On laws introduced outlawing the (blackmarket) selling of fuel in January;

Luckily, like every other law stated in Iraq, laws only hold for about a week or so, then they don't apply anymore!!! This has always been the case with law in Iraq.

On democracy;

There is one subject that I haven't talked about in this message and that's whether to have "elections or selections" as was expressed by one of the station.

On electricity;

To sum up, electricity is better now. Though frankly don't know whether electricity got better, or better had redefined itself.

Current favourite quip;

"All generalizations are false, including this one."
(Blaise Pascal)

Ahmeds letters can also be read here.

New today; 1
Total; 47

Friday, June 25, 2004

Activate Iraq's Internet Country Code!

Just what everybody has been waiting for! The long awaited campaign to re-activate Iraq's internet country code! With June drawing to a close, by this time next week the Iraqi Interim Government will be installed (yes, I know, its a temporary pastiche measure, yah yah, but one step at a time hey). While some in Iraq bunker down and prepare for a possibly contentious week... the rest of us lurking here on the web have the opportunity to sign this momentous petition;

The Worldwide Petition to Activate the Internet Country Code for the Nation of Iraq

Here is a brief explanation for people like me who need to ask "er, what?"

An internet country code is the part of an internet address that goes sort of where the .com or .org bit is. Some examples;

.jp Japan
.de Germany
.fr France
.jo Jordon
.af Afghanistan
.sy Syria
.us US
.uk UK

So a full Syrian address might look like this; or a full UK address might look like this;

There are many other country codes. Iraq's is .iq but it was deactivated shortly before the latest war and is still inoperative. This petition lobbies to have the code reinstated.

You can read more about the petition here and sign it here. You can also copy and email this link; to as many people as you know.

The Dialogue Channel ( is organizing a worldwide petition to activate the Internet country code for the nation of Iraq.

The all-important ".iq" Internet domain for Iraq is currently unavailable even though it was designated in 1997 and briefly activated years ago. Without the identification of this "top level domain" Iraq cannot join other nations as a peer on the Internet.

All Internet users are urged to sign the petition, including Iraqis who wish to use the .iq country code, and all others who wish to help the Iraqi people participate in the international and Internet economies.

The petition is directed towards the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) which controls country designations around the world through its contract with the U.S. Department of Commerce. Copies of the petition will be shared with all governing authorities in Iraq, as well as cultural and economic institutions, to assure a transparent process in reactivating the .iq domain.

Lets sign it and see what happens...

maa assalaama

Update. An ibcdweller says;

.com .mil .edu .net and .gov are a little different.

They are used instead of the country codes. In another example of Amerikan cultural imperialism, they are either loosely for American domains (.com and .net) or strictly (.gov .mil. .edu).

Things like are subdomains of .uk. Just like or or anything. Nothing special about .com in that position.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

New Link

Burt's Iraq Notebook. Burt says;

Here you will find links, notes, news story highlights, and Burt's commentary on activities related to the U.S. involvement in Iraq. The Burt and Kurt Show airs weekdays on 101.1 FM and 1260 AM, The Source.

Telephone Repairs Required ~ Kufa

As per previous post.

The Kufa district requires repairs to phone service. Source ~ Abbas.

Kufa is the site of recent fighting. If one had relatives or friends here one would understandably be concerned for their safety and one would have ones fears more easily allayed if one were able to make a call, of sorts.

Telephone Repairs Required

Areas of Iraq are without phone lines. Some areas have partially functioning phone lines, other areas have none at all.

There are a few issues involved. First, the loss of infrastructure due to recent damage. Whether the result of coalition or insurgent damage is a mute point, civilian supply is lost due to the action of two warring factions. Second, the previous regimes reward/punishment use of phone lines and other basic infrastructure casts a shadow over current events. Phonelines to areas uncooperative under the former regime were "disconnected" so it is understandable if today's civilians are unconvinced by continuing "punishments" eerily echoing life before liberation.

There are many other services that falter and fail in times of war, but communications are significant in that;

a). Relatives and friends outside Iraq worry about relatives and friends inside Iraq who cannot easily be contacted.
b). Information from inside Iraq is controlled by slow release from sites with better infrastructure. In other words people who can phone out of Iraq have phone services that are at least partially operable, suggesting quality of life for those people is perhaps better and outlook perhaps more optimistic then for people who do not have access to phones. What we cannot hear we do not know.

Information flow is restricted particularly in areas that are experiencing more extreme difficulties, for example large sections of Kufa which have been without phone service since recent fighting destroyed some facilities.

All of this is admittedly beyond obvious and if you are impatiently pounding your head against the monitor saying "for gods sake, say something new" i apologise. Please stop pounding head now, it wouldn't do to accrue more desktop casualties.

Anyway, i started this link section in the sidebar for areas that i hear of without phone lines. The astute will probably see difficulties here relating to point b) above. If you know of any other areas your input is more then welcome. If you would like to copy/paste the link/s (atm there is only one that i've heard of, Kufa) into your own page that is also more then welcome. And if you know of any repairs to these areas, great, please let me know.

This is not a finger pointing exercise, so before you email me a tirade or post thousand word accusatory essays in the comments please understand that i am doing this in the hope that drawing attention to the situation might help speed up repairs, or at least raise awareness. (*Sigh* this weblog is hardly that influential but, dreams at least are free).

Monday, June 21, 2004


On my kitchen windowsill I have a chamomile plant. A caterpillar arrived a few weeks ago, it's eating the chamomile. I wish the damned thing would hurry up, turn into a butterfly and leave the plant alone. *sigh* if only politics were so easy.

I think it is one of those analogous off topic weeks.

Oh, by the way, did you know Muqtada Al-Sadr has started a political party?

This is a fairly recent development, online references suggest the party planning and formation took place somewhere between now and the time of an article posted on June 13. (Note to self; June 13, day Election Iraq 2004! blog results released. Once again the blogosphere anticipates events. Yes we talk an awful lot of trash, but my! how prophetic!)

Muqtada is astutely assuming the new trend in political electioneering set by style moguls Sonia Gandhi and Pachachi, only Muqtada is up chic-ing even their performances. While Sonia and Pachachi actually waited till they were elected before turning down their respective posts, Muqtada is turning down the post before even running for election. Nicholas Blanford, The Daily Star;

Last Sunday, a Sadr aide revealed that plans were under way to establish a political party which would participate in elections in January. Sadr has signaled that he will not seek political office, but will be represented by candidates he nominates.

Well ok, it's a good link, but if you're too busy to click and read i've posted another Nicholas Blanford extract for your convenience;

Earlier in the week, Ghazi al-Yawar, Iraq's interim president, offered Sadr an olive branch, which, if accepted, could turn the 30-year-old junior cleric into a powerful political presence in post-occupation Iraq.

Welcoming Sadr's decision to start a political party, Yawar said "I think this is a very smart move of him."

"I kept saying consistently that if I were in his shoes I would try to go to the political arena instead of raising arms. He has supporters, he has constituents, he should go through the political process and I commend this smart move on his side," Yawar said.

Last Sunday, a Sadr aide revealed that plans were under way to establish a political party which would participate in elections in January. Sadr has signaled that he will not seek political office, but will be represented by candidates he nominates.

"Those surrounding him are pushing him to become a member of a future government. But Sadr thinks he's bigger than a government post," Qubaisi said.

A recent poll conducted by the Iraqi Center for Research and Strategic Studies gave Sadr an average 33.6 approval rating, placing him second only to Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the pre-eminent Shiite cleric in Iraq. The poll found that Sadr was "strongly supported" by 31.8 percent of those asked and "somewhat supported" by 35.4 percent.

By comparison, Ghazi Yawar, the new president, was ranked 10th out of 17 with an average approval rating of 16.5. Ayad Allawi, the new prime minister, was 15th with an approval rating of 11.5 percent.

The announcement came two days after Sadr reversed his initial rejection of the interim government, saying he would recognize it as long as it gave a clear timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Iraq.

Saturday, June 19, 2004


On cheating, in War and in love.

Pride has a marvelous way of masking the obvious. Who wants to admit "oh sure, i knew it all along" and then have to face the question; "so if you knew, why didn't you say something?" of course, the answer to that question is still the same; "pride".

Friday, June 18, 2004

Signs, Times.

Kurdo's world...

A group of US soldiers were ordered by the CPA to remove the title of Kirkuk University which was written in Kurdish, and replaced the writing with an Arabic one. The reason ?! They said there was "Kurdistan" word on the board.

Kurdo enquires;

OK.. fair enough...But why replace it with an Arabic one ? Why not add both Arabic & Kurdish to it ?!

What? Let Kurdistan become independent, multilingual, free and democratic? Can't have that! Everyone else will want one too!

Apparently the sign was originally in Arabic but at some stage in the spirit of multiethnicism (new word - multi-cultural? neh, this is 2004) had been updated to include three languages; Arabic, Kurdish, and English (um, English? Perhaps that new word could be changed again - multinationalism?). Now the CPA have changed it back to Arabic. With only weeks left before handing over to the Interim Govt, the CPA is making sure the Interim Govt has more things to un-do while they peddle about on the trainer wheels. Will look good for Interim Govt, no? Changing back monolingual CPA signs to multi-lingual, democratic, ethnically-equitable ones.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

New Blogs

Live from Iraq ~ The blog of a journalist who joined the army and is now somewhere near Mosul (Northern Iraq/Kurdistan). Amidst "blowing off steam" his blog features such moments as;

eating dinner with members of the known p-k-k terrorist group in the mountains near the Iranian border. chicken, mmmmm… we were going to sleep-over too, until they told us that “it is not safe here.â€‌

Hard Deck ~ The brand new blog of Scout Pilot, who is an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior pilot in Iraq.

Both monitored from Montrأ©al by Kambiz Bafekr (on his new photolog).

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


World Bank to assist Iraq with $38 billion;

Joseph Saba, the bank's point man on Iraq, said the figure was based on recent studies carried out by the bank, adding that despite continuing difficulties he expected the effort to get underway soon.

Very generous.

He predicted that actual work would begin over the next "six to eight months" and be carried out over several phases, with the bulk of the money being used in the initial phase.

He could not say, however, how long he expected the work to continue.

"We cannot set a clear time table for the entire reconstruction plan," he said.

"Nobody can say definitively."


The bank had identified four main priorities or areas it wanted to focus on in the near future, including education, infrastructure and social projects.

$38 bill to Iraq. Extended credit to Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan. $97 million for social and economic reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Who is this World Bank?

Conceived during World War II at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, the World Bank initially helped rebuild Europe after the war. Its first loan of $250 million was to France in 1947 for post-war reconstruction. Reconstruction has remained an important focus of the Bank's work, given the natural disasters, humanitarian emergencies, and postآ­conflict rehabilitation needs that affect developing and transition economies.

Well, yes, given the worlds current political climate i imagine reconstruction would continue to be an important focus of the bank's work. It's to be hoped the bank has enough funds. Although, the bank does seem to have come by some sort of fortuitous windfall lately.


Dahr Jamail travels extensively, speaking with members of the Iraqi Security Forces;

officials with both the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps and the Iraqi Police complain they are understaffed, under-equipped and undermined

You may say, what is new with that? What police department anywhere in the world hasn't complained of staff and funding constraints, or equipment and beaurocratic restrictions? Read on to find out how these problems are exacerbated by several different security forces operating, with perhaps several different agenda's, in occupied territory;

"We’ve lost more than 200 policemen in Baghdad in the last two months, and ten high ranking officers who have been assassinated," Hamid said during an interview in the Coalition conference center.

Hamid said he is frustrated by what he sees as Coalition forces usurping his authority. "We are arresting criminals, and the [US] military are coming and forcing us to release some of them, and this has caused many problems for us"

Apparently, after the Abu Ghraib scandal, many prisoners were released, possibly as a public relations exercise;

Hamid noted that in a rush to free prisoners from Abu Ghraib and other facilities, the US is setting loose many people the police believe constitute an actual danger to Iraqi society.

On the one hand US security forces are in serious contravention of basic human rights laid out in the geneva convention, with arrests and interrogations uncannily reminiscent of many a collapsed regime, and on the other hand they are "forcing" release of prisoners while Iraq is rife with abductions. Memories of looting condoned by occupying forces earlier during the liberation (no i won't bother using quotation marks, i'm sure you can sense the irony without them) have not done a great deal either in aiding the image that a US presence might desire.

While these things seem a mess, they are explained a little by the blurred effect on job description that the word "security" has. Soldiers are trained to fight, not to enforce law. Local police have been recruited to fight, complicating their already muddied role. Mix all this with severely damaged infrastructure, frustration and a whole lot of tired, tired people; one hardly needs to take a poll to make predictions.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Sound Track

Polly Jeans Uh Huh Her. HMV review;

Harvey has spent time in the company of stoner rock kingpin Josh Homme whilst working on his â€کDesert Sessions’ and the influence is clear for all to hear. The feeling of sand-blown desolation sweeps throughout this album from first single â€کThe Letter’ through â€کThe Pocket Knife’, â€کThe Life And Death of Mr. Badmouth’ and â€کCat On The Wall’. It’s not all QOTSA menace though...

The Darker Days of Me and Him PJ Harvey;

Promises, promises
I'm feeling burned
You taught me a lesson
I didn't want to learn

Why did I come here?
Please tell me again
Why did you ask me?
Don't say you forget

I long for, I long for
I long for my home
I long for a land where
No man was ever known

With no neurosis
And no psychosis
No psychoanalysis
And no sadness

I'll pick up the pieces
I'll carry on somehow
Tape the broken parts together
And limp this love around

Limp this love around
Limp this love around
Limp this love around
Limp this love around


Observation re Beemco Enterprises from Jane.

Liberty Post archives the same story from the New York Post;

"Bechtel, Halliburton, the Carlyle Group and all the big oil companies” the whole crew that does business in that part of the world” has ties to the bin Ladens," another expert in the region added.

Monday, June 14, 2004


The flawed findings of a terrorism report presented by senior US administration officials were exposed after academics disputed the reports accuracy. From Newsday;

The 2003 figure would have represented a 45 percent drop in terrorist acts since 2001 and brought attacks to their lowest level in 34 years.

But Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and leading academics challenged the findings almost immediately and wrote Powell to ask for an explanation.

Two professors from Stanford and Princeton universities said verifiable information in the annual report actually showed that major terrorist attacks had increased from 124 in 2001 to 169 in 2003, a jump of 36 percent, and that incidents actually had risen each year since 2001.

State Department officials acknowledged for the first time last week that the report underrepresented terrorists attacks in 2003.

"The data in our report is incorrect. If you read the narrative of the report, it makes it clear that the war on terror is a difficult one, and that we're pursuing it with all of the means at our disposal," Powell said.

Powell said the report's data were incomplete and that information had been cut off at certain dates in a manner inconsistent with earlier terrorism reports. "It was a data collection and reporting error".

"It was a data collection and reporting error", hmm, versatile phrase. Trend prediction; "No Comment" superseded.


A State Department report that showed a decline in worldwide terrorism last year has turned out to be a;

"big mistake," Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sunday. "Very embarrassing. I am not a happy camper over this"

"based on the data we had within the report, there was a suggestion that the number of incidents had dropped and it was the lowest since 1969," he added. "That turns out not to have been correct. We were wrong. We will correct it"

How very convenient;

When the annual report was issued April 29, senior administration officials used it as evidence the war was being won under Bush.

Surely, if the war is being so well won then it might be time to send some of those poor tired troopers home. But no, the soldiers must stay put because now the report is to be corrected to show that the world needs them in action!

"We weren't saying terrorism has gone away. The report clearly says terrorism is a main problem facing the world today. We've got to continue going after terrorists," Powell said.

Apparently the CIA helped to compile the data.

"There's a new terrorist threat information center that compiles this data under the CIA. And we are still trying to determine what went wrong with the data and why we didn't catch it in the State Department," Powell said Sunday.

Perhaps the CIA need to read their newspaper clippings more carefully.

Abbas noticed first.

Blog Goss'

re_coll has goss' to share from a secure and undisclosed nephew-in-law, an engineer in the US air force, who is in Iraq for three months.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

New Link

Bitter Lemons describes itself; is an internet forum for an array of world perspectives on the Middle East and its specific concerns. It aspires to engender greater understanding about the Middle East region and open a new common space for world thinkers and political leaders to present their viewpoints and initiatives on the region. Its audience is the interested public and policymakers. is edited by Ghassan Khatib and Yossi Alpher. Each week, bitterlemons-international editors decide on a topic and invite four writers or interviewees to discuss that subject on our pages. Bitterlemons-international is committed to presenting a range of views on the Middle East from a breadth of national interests and social concerns. No intelligent and articulate views are considered taboo.

Results; Election Iraq 2004!

The Hypothetical Iraq Webloggers Council; 52.1% (25 votes).
The Iraqi Interim Government; 35% (17 votes).
The Coalition Provisional Authority; 0 votes.
Other; 12.6% (6 others nominated, 1 vote each).

Others, voted for in this order;
~ Saddam
~ To be determined by people of Iraq
~ The people of Irak
~ Emigre (no, i didn't vote for myself, someone else did, thankyou anonymous voter).
~ Constitutional Monarchy
~ Raed

Total Votes over five days; 48
Num visitors over five days; 625
Record number of votes in one day; 23 (Thurs 10.06.2004)

The Hypothetical Webloggers Council lead with 100% of the vote in the initial stages, till I spilled the beans in order to rack up a few more voters. If the silent majority had stayed silent I suspect the Webloggers Council would have won by an even greater margin then they did.

Conclusion; just over half of Iraq Blog Count readers, at least the ones that can be bothered to move a mouse for the sake of el'cheapo poll games, have more faith in a hypothetical party then they do in the existing Interim Govt. Faith in the CPA? pffft, say no more.

The other options are revealing, if at times a little odd.

I think Raed needs to start a political party now, or at least consider standing as an independent. If he can get 2.2% of the vote on an undervisited weblog in an election he never even campaigned for - Raed, i see a future...

Btw, in case you're wondering, I voted for the Webloggers Council.


In response to Jeffreys comments re Iraq Body Count Methodology. Jeffrey has heard people tell him that Iraq Body Counts methodology is flawed because it counts "ANYONE who dies as a civilian casualty". I have read Iraq Body Counts methodology thoroughly both in the past and again today in writing this post. I find Iraq Body Counts methodology to be sound.

Iraq Body Count does not count "ANYONE who dies as a civilian casualty" Iraq Body Count bases its figures on almost the only available source material it has; Media Reports.

Far from counting "ANYONE who dies as a civilian casualty", Iraq Body Count follows strict research procedures in compiling casualty figures from media reports.

In order for a death to be counted, Iraq Body Count specifies in its methodology that it requires;

that two independent agencies publish a report before we are willing to add it to the count.

Iraq body count states this more then once;

Our methodology requires that specific deaths attributed to US-led military actions are carried in at least two reports from our approved sources. This includes deaths resulting from the destruction of water treatment plants or any other lethal effects on the civilian population

Iraq Body Count states clearly that it counts only casualties that are consequences of current military action in Iraq;

...we record all civilians deaths attributed to our military intervention in Iraq.

The above FAQ does not apply to sanctions; although we are opposed to them, our study deals with the consequences of our current military actions in Iraq.
It has also been newly revised due to our growing awareness that we were too narrowly-focused on bombs and other conventional weapons, neglecting the deadly effects of disrupted food, water, electricity and medical supplies.

The site states that;

Casualty figures are derived from a comprehensive survey of online media reports and eyewitness accounts. Where these sources report differing figures, the range (a minimum and a maximum) are given. All results are independently reviewed and error-checked by at least two members of the Iraq Body Count project team in addition to the original compiler before publication.

Clearly, Iraq Body Count counts only casualties that are the result of military action, and even these it compiles conservatively providing both a maximum and minimum estimate. Iraq Body Count bases its figures on accounts from media reports, not, as Jeffrey seems to be implying, by trawling the obituaries column of Iraqi Newspapers indiscriminately counting every single death it finds. In fact, not one of Iraq Body Counts sources is an Iraqi publication.

As it is clear that Iraq Body Count data is sourced from media reports, it would be logical to conclude that there are casualties which do not make their way into a newspaper column or online publication. Believe it or not Jeffrey, the casualties Iraq Body Count is recording are likely to be only the more spectacular casualties, the ones that make readable news headlines. Mundane deaths, I'm afraid Jeffrey, are probably not going to be that hot for press.

This only serves to affirm that Iraq Body Count does NOT count "ANYONE who dies as a civilian casualty". In fact Iraq Body Count is quite possibly also NOT counting some legitimate war casualties, simply because some legitimate war casualties are going to occur when there is no journalist around to record them, or may be reported in a publication which does not meet Iraq Body Counts specifications to be countable.

Iraq Body Count states that;

For a source to be considered acceptable to this project it must comply with the following standards: (1) site updated at least daily; (2) all stories separately archived on the site, with a unique url (see Note 1 below); (3) source widely cited or referenced by other sources; (4) English Language site; (5) fully public (preferably free) web-access.

Iraq body Count lists its sources. Furthermore, the Iraq Body Count project includes a secure archive of all original sources;

Although it is expected that the majority of sources will remain accessible on the web site from which they were drawn, the project will create a secure archive of all original sources (in both electronic and paper form). Where judged appropriate by the project team, this data may be released to bona-fide enquirers, for verification purposes.

Iraq Body Count follows conservative research procedures in collecting data from its sources;

As a further conservative measure, when the wording used in both reports refers to "people" instead of civilians, we will include the total figure as a maximum but enter "0" into the minimum column unless details are present clearly identifying some or all of the dead as civilian - in this case the number of identifiable civilians will be entered into the minimum column instead of "0". The word "family" will be interpreted in this context as meaning 3 civilians. [Average Iraqi non-extended family size: 6. -CIA Factbook 2002.]

Iraq body count notes that;

The project relies on the professional rigour of the approved reporting agencies.

Iraq Body Count acknowledges the interest that many parties have in manipulating casualty figures for political ends;

We acknowledge that many parties to this conflict will have an interest in manipulating casualty figures for political ends. There is no such thing (and will probably never be such a thing) as an "wholly accurate" figure, which could accepted as historical truth by all parties. This is why we will always publish a minimum and a maximum for each reported incident. Some sources may wish to over-report casualties. Others may wish to under-report them. Our methodology is not biased towards "propaganda" from any particular protagonist in the conflict. We will faithfully reflect the full range of reported deaths in our sources. These sources, which are predominantly Western (including long established press agencies such as Reuters and Associated Press) are unlikely to suppress conservative estimates which can act as a corrective to inflated claims.

The Iraq Body Count team are well aware of the restrictions an independent project collecting casualty data from outside of Iraq faces, and acknowledges that many projects are needed to evaluate the full human cost of war;

Many projects are needed to evaluate the full human cost of this war. We value them all, but this one is ours. We need to ensure that our study is focused and that its intent, scope and limits are widely and clearly understood. We will certainly build up and maintain our set of links to projects doing related work so that viewers of this site can be pointed to related activity.

Unfortunately, few projects in actuality exist. Iraq Body count is one of those few. Collecting data from hospitals in Iraq would be an obviously valuable source of information, but unfortunately Iraqi Health Ministry officials ordered a halt to a count of civilian casualties from the war and told workers not to release figures already compiled. So you see, we are left with just a few projects run largely by dedicated volunteers, such as the Iraq Body Count team and Raed. Which is admittedly insufficient in terms of the value of existing alongside other projects. Thank goodness at least these few projects have had the tenacity to continue faithfully recording the little that they can.

It is in this context that Iraq Body Count heads their site with the words of General Tommy Franks, of US Central Command; "We don't do body counts".

Iraq Body Counts Rationale clearly sums up the projects aims; to compile a record of civilian casualties caused by war and make accessible, in an index, data from reports which would otherwise be lost; "scattered in different news sources and spread over time";

This project aims to record single-mindedly and on a virtually real-time basis one key and immutable index of the fruits of war: the death toll of innocents. The full extent of this has often gone unnoticed until long after a war has ended, if at all. One reason is that reports of incidents where civilians have been killed are scattered in different news sources and spread over time: one or two killed here, a few dozen there, with only major incidents (such as the attack on the Al-Amariyah bomb shelter where hundreds of women, children and elderly were incinerated alive) being guaranteed headline coverage. But the smaller numbers quickly add up: and however many civilians are killed in the onslaught on Iraq, their death toll should not go unnoticed by those who are paying — in taxes — for their slaughter. It is to these all too easily disregarded victims of violence that Iraq Body Count is dedicated, and we are resolute that they, too, shall have their memorials.

I find the Iraq Body Count project to be of the highest integrity, and challenge Jeffrey to read Iraq Body Counts overview, rationale and methodology in full for himself.

As I replied to Jeffrey previously; nobody has succeeded in debunking Iraq Body Count. Some have tried but not succeeded, primarily because those who have tried to debunk Iraq Body Count are motivated by their own extreme bias and are fueled by their own campaigns and misinformation.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

CIVIC Data Collection

Perhaps you remember Salams description of a project Raed was involved in last year, surveying civilian casualties.

Well, the information is now available here.

While Iraq Body Count counts the death toll based on media reports, the CIVIC project may be the only on ground collection of civilian casualty figures in Iraq during this war.


Dahr Jamail has this dispatch. You need a cold heart to read it;

He is a well spoken, handsome lawyer, just a year older than I am. He worked as a diplomat who coordinated NGOs and foreign governments in order to bring aid to his country during the sanctions.

He was detained and accused of being a spy for Saddam Hussein, even though he is not even a Baathist.

He was hung from his ankles for hours in Abu Ghraib, until he passed out.

I ask him what else happened to him in there. He pulls up the legs of his trousers to show me two electrical burns on the inside of his knees, and points to two more on his elbows.

And this from a California National Guardsman present during interrorgations in a Samarran police station, north of Baghdad;

Sergeant Greg Ford said he repeatedly had to revive prisoners who had passed out and once saw a soldier stand on the back of a handcuffed detainee's neck and pull his arms until they popped out of their sockets.

ethics.tamucc discusses a recent NY Times editorial;

According to press reports, military doctors and nurses who examined prisoners at Abu Ghraib treated swollen genitals, prescribed painkillers, stitched wounds, and recorded evidence of the abuses going on around them. Under international law — as well as the standards of common decency — these medical professionals had a duty to tell those in power what they saw.

Instead, too often, they returned the victims of torture to the custody of their victimizers. Rather than putting a stop to torture, they tacitly abetted it, by patching up victims and staying silent.

Why do they remain silent? Abbas offers this;

These people, many of whom -- I am ashamed to say -- are Arab-Americans or U.S. residents of an Arab origin -- decided to remain silent and/or participate in this behavior to keep their dream jobs. I sometimes see Titan advertisements calling for people to joing their team. Another company offers $80,000 + other things as a start salary. No degree or good past employment is required; only passing a test in Arabic and English and, of course, a U.S. government background check.

Returning to Seargent Greg Ford, I add this;

Ford said that when he reported the problems last June to his commanding officers, they pressured him to drop his claims.

''Immediately, within the same conversation, the command said, 'Nope, you're delusional, you're crazy, it never happened.' They gave me 30 seconds to withdraw my request for an investigation," Ford said. ''I stood my ground."

Still tempted to dismiss these reports squeeking through as isolated incidents? Here is an extract from SPR May 12 2004;

In December 2003, a guard at a notoriously brutal prison used a German shepherd to attack a 20-year-old prisoner lying on the ground and not resisting. The attack, reported on May 9th by the Los Angeles Times, was not carried out at the now-infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq where Americans were photographed torturing Iraqi prisoners; it occurred in Stockton, California at a juvenile correctional facility. Such abuse runs rampant throughout America's prison system, where prisoners are routinely raped, tortured, beaten and humiliated by guards employing brutality to enforce order.

Thus it is not surprising that two of the alleged ringleaders in the Abu Ghraib torture scandal are both former civilian prison guards. Staff Sgt. Ivan Frederick was a guard at Buckingham Correctional Center in Virginia, part of a state prison system where violent abuse of inmates by prison guards is common. Specialist Charles Graner was a guard at Pennsylvania's Greene State Correctional Institute, a notorious death row facility described by an attorney who visited it as "a concentration camp."

I remember something I heard about 26 years ago.

Somebody was describing the shock when footage from concentration camps at the end of WWII was released to the public. Although reports implicating the atrocities had been creeping out to the world for years prior, it was just too difficult to believe that humans could do these things to one another, just to difficult to fathom. Some even dismissed the reports as "enemy" propaganda.

I remember reading about a village whose townspeople were rounded up by allied soldiers and marched through a death camp discovered in the district, in an effort to wake the townspeople from their compliant stupor. But the townspeople just went into shock and couldn't speak about it, some sinking into an even deeper denial.

Some have even intimated that gulag atrocities occurring during WWII were conveniently ignored because Russia at that time was an Allie against Germany along the eastern borders. History to the victor, one might say. Later, many people in other countries became aware of those atrocities, but those things were just too far away to seem real, someone elses nightmare, and when concepts such as liberty and fraternity become entwined with brutality, sometimes people just find it easier to switch off.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Update; Election Iraq 2004!

Polling booth will close in approximately 48 hours.

See ballot form to right to cast vote -->

Film Making

Mike Tucker, who embedded himself with a unit in Iraq (yes, he embedded himself), sent this link which includes trailers to two films he shot in Baghdad.

This type of documentation interests me. It is what i can only call careful, containing a record of the film makers internal experience as much as it contains external information, even to the extent that the film maker is at times clearly uncomfortable maintaining a dispassionate position. Mike describes his presence during these two raids;

The first raids were surprisingly soft. Sometimes we just rolled up and knocked. One night we headed out to capture a general who was on the coalition "blacklist", when we arrived at his house, a team knocked on the door and went inside. He put his kids to sleep, kissed his wife and grabbed a pre-packed bag by the door. He knew they were coming.

On another night, while raiding the home of suspected bomb builders, the scene was very different. One of the suspects reached for a weapon. He was put down with a fist. He and his two brothers were brought out to the lawn. He pleaded to the camera as soldiers commanded him to shut-up, "I'm a journalist. You get this wrong. Do you call this freedom?" I felt confused. I somehow wanted to clear up what I thought could be a case of mistaken identity. Nothing was found in the house. The brothers were taken to Abu Ghraib--four months later they were still there waiting for charges or to be cleared.

During Mikes self-embedded experience he filmed freestyle rapping soldiers and another soldier who played the star spangled banner on an electric guitar on top of the Azimiya Palace (formerly belonging to Uday Hussein, occupied during Mikes stay by a field artillery battalion). On a later visit in February, to the same battalion, Mike found the rapping he had previously filmed had developed into spoken word poetry.

The effect all this has is one of surreality.

Send the soldiers home i say. More poetry, music and air guitar, less of the rest of it.

Update; Election Iraq 2004!

Dallas news media provides polling analysis.

Polling booth still open. Ballot form to right -->

Update; Election Iraq 2004!

Ok, some of the other options are stacking up a bit now. But still only about .5% of visitors seem to be voting.

Polling booth still open. Ballot form to right -->

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Update; Election Iraq 2004!

It's probably terrible polling practice to announce polling progress while ballots are still being cast, but anyway, The Hypothetical Iraq Webloggers Council is streaking ahead with 100% of the vote, that is to say, with five votes.

Five votes? 79 visitors per day? Ah! So thats what "silent majority" means!

Polling booth still open. Ballot form to right -->

Lost Blog, New Forum

Remember Deeds? (John Galt) He was a blogger working for the CPA in Iraq, he has left Baghdad now and after returning home unplugged his weblog. His blogs URL is now used by an unrelated site. Thanks Fayrouz for that update.

Meanwhile Sarmad at Road of a Nation has set up a forum. Mission statement;

This site encourages direct communication between Iraqi and American citizens by attempting to bypass media, religious, and political bias. You MUST register (free) to post - after you can set your profile language to English, Kurdish or Arabic.

Fun New Blog

Well, it's always helpful when people email tips. Here is a recent one...


A new Iraqi Blog

By Ladybird

Ladybird says;

I live in The Netherlands i am iraqi myself.

I started my blog and the goal of my blog pickingup the news from here and there over Iraq and trying to disccus it with other iraqis or Americans or anybody intersted
Right now i am busy making another blog it's name *Baghdad Dweller *this gonna be a very diffrent kind of blog.

Perhaps we can expect some humour from Ladybird, at Iraq Voice Forums in funny jokes a Ladybird posts regular jokes (Joined: April 15 2004. Location: Syrian Arab Republic) with Ahmed333 (Joined: April 29 2004. Location: Netherlands). Hmm, there cannot be too many Iraqi Ladybirds connected to the Netherlands, but Ahmed (and versions thereof) is a frequent enough name, there are probably quite a few of them online.

Looking forward to the future fruits of your busy blog making Ladybird.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Election Iraq 2004!

PollMonkey fun.

Why wait till next year to vote? Iraq Blog Count brings you - Election Iraq 2004!

What will it be? The CPA? Perhaps The Interim Govt? Maybe... The Hypothetical Iraq Webloggers Council? Of course, these are not the only options, many political parties abound.

The choice is yours!

(If the "other" option is selected there's a little box there to enter "others" name in, thanks.)

Hmm what else, oh yes, i'll leave the PollMonkey ballot form up till the end of the week, see right -->

All ballots confidential.

A powerful tool for serious primates of all species!

Jane Perrone at the Guardian Weblog has discovered Iraq Blog Count.

Thanks Jane!

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Link Feature; Kurdisphere

Land of the Karda; A new blog by Karda, introduced by Kurdo (who by the way is now publishing in Kurdish and whose blogroll also has this list of Kurdish weblogs).

Medya-Photos; photos from Eastern Kurdistan (west of Iran) brought to you by Medya Ghazizadeh, who has another blogspot which i was looking at a while ago but which now seems to have vanished. Oh well, i am linking it anyway, just in case it reappears.

Kurdish Media; a very comprehensive site, all sorts here, from Art & Culture to News in Kurdish, even forums and a list of political parties.

This made me curious; a Kurdistan Satellite Channel (also here) which i found connected to the site of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. Whether the two are connected in more ways then this i do not know.

What strikes me most in googling the Kurdisphere is the level of political activity, which seems to be diverse and energetic.

Election Plan Part II

The Hypothetical Iraq Webloggers Council.

In response to comments re election plan post.

Nominations for the council are as follows, you will have to excuse me on this, there were only a handful of nominations to work with and there are a number of portfolios to be appointed. Yeah, i know, it's heavily biased by the number of emigre nominations, other suggestions welcome.

~ President; Zeyad nominated by The Commissar

~ Minister of Planning, Finance and Optimism; Firas nominated by Fayrouz

~ Minister of Culture; Salam nominated by emigre.

~ Minister of Irrigation, Water and Power Infrastructure; Faiza nominated by emigre.

~ Minister of Public Broadcasting; Riverbend nominated by emigre.

~ Ministry of Youth Affairs. There are three ministerial positions in this office;
- MYA Entertainment & Spirituality; Khalid
- MYA Foreign Exchange; Omar
- MYA Youth News; Majid
(all nominated by emigre).

~ Minister of Sport; Nabil nominated by emigre.

~ Minister of Education;
Abbas nominated by emigre.
Ihath nominated by ihath, seconded by emigre.

~ Minister of Web Affairs; Raed nominated by emigre.

Ambassadorial nominations;
Ambassador Canada; Ihath nominated by emigre declined in preference of, ah, other restructural activities.
Ambassador Dallas; Fayrouz nominated by emigre.
Ambassador Sweden The Torso Blogger nominated by emigre.
Ambassador Kurdisphere; Kurdo nominated by emigre.

Well, thats enough for now, might have some poll monkey fun with it later.

Update; to Ministry of Edu nominees & embassy in Canada (re comments).

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Election Plan

I just read Abbas' post on election plans for Iraq. The system will be based on proportional representation, which encourages a system of multiple parties.

As well as political parties, special interest groups will be allowed to present lists, or candidates can run on an individual ticket. To stand for election, a candidate must file a 500-signature petition with the electoral commission.

On any list, every third name must be a woman to ensure that at least 25 percent of seats in the assembly go to women, a stipulation made in Iraq's interim constitution, agreed earlier this year.

Wow, a candidate only needs to provide a 500-signature petition with a 25% female weighting to stand for election! How many visits do the pages of bloggers in Iraq have per day? More then 500 for some, and at least 25% of those visitors would be women... granted, many of those visitors are from other countries, still, with a little will-power, it does make politics sound all of a sudden very accessible.

Can you imagine what the streets of Iraq could become in the following months? On every corner a new party with a partition...

More about it on Abbas' weblog here. You will also find some fantastic translations from Ali al-Wardi's Lamahat Ijtima'iyyah min Tarikh al-'Iraq al-Hadith (Glimpses of the Modern History of Iraq) there. His page is great brain food, best kept secret on the web, he has a lot of knowledge to share with anyone interested in reading it.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Schuster Welcome F*sk

Shako-Mako Iraqi News is a marked improvement on it's genre (CMAR's I and II) but i am going to have to take a goodnatured swipe at Jeffrey's promotional material.

Jeffrey's claim;

Shako-Mako Iraqi News is around ten days old now and it is the ONLY blog where BOTH FACTIONS of Iraqi Bloggers have visited, posted, and given encouragement.

So far Faiza, Raed, Khalid, Majid, and the ITM brothers have stopped by and posted.

It is also the only blog that is half-serious and half-humorous about events on the ground in Iraq.

*Sigh* no Jeffrey, yours is not the only blog, nor the first. It's just that it has taken approximately nine months commenting on Healing, ITM and the Mesop for you to realise that it is possible to read Iraq blogs without taking up arms. Maybe one day you will also realise the fallacy behind the "Iraqi bloggers with/without comments" myth. lol. Check out blogroll to right >

But, Jeffrey does get credit for identifying impostors. Well, there you go Jeffrey, you got a link out of me anyway, there must be something in shameless self promotion after all. Asmar would know.

Oh, Tip Jeffrey: many bloggers aren't as innocent, forgiving and moesque linkers as IBC, you would probably have to link them first before they linked to your blog, esp after emails like that.

For anyone who doesn't know, Jeffrey is not that bad a guy, he has a loyal stable of commenters who have followed him from comments on other Iraq weblogs. Good on you Jeff, for helping to alleviate Zeyad's regular commenter burden.

Update; The Commissar on etiquette.

New Blog

Abbas Kadhim *Calling It Like It Is* "Reflections on the Middle East, Islam, Politics and Theology".

Abbas Kadhim is a doctoral candidate in the Dept. of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California (UC Berkeley). He was born in Babylon (Iraq), but at the age of 12 moved to Najaf...

You can read more about Abbas & what he has to say on his page... (very readable, interesting, informative, easy to understand content).

New Today; 1
Total; 45

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Quote of the Day

From Avari-Nameh;

Who knew the Red Menace could offer as many choices as a supermarket aisle?

ok, i better put that in context;

I'm a big fan of The Daily Show, Comedy Central's ingenius half-hour satire of world events and political issues... Still, I don't like that the show drips with liberalism, though I've come to expect that, what with all the necessary assumptions of the average Western/secular mindset, trumpeted day in and day out and taught day in and day out.

For example: If you're against the way we're fighting the War on Terrorism, you must therefore be pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, etc. On the other hand, if you favor helping the environment, spending money not on silly foreign adventures but on healthcare, public works, education, etc., and so on, then you must be a brand of Communist. Marxist, Leninist, Stalinist, Maoist, Socialist. Who knew the Red Menace could offer as many choices as a supermarket aisle?

I guess i'm not the only one tired of all the "lefties" versus "righties" gawd-have-we-not-got-tired-of-this-yet baiting. I wonder at the web, it's almost as if it is full of navelgazers with the propensity for going to war on the basis of bellybutton shape. "Innies United" against the "Outies Front". But then again, perhaps Edna has a better idea of what it is really full off.

Hmm now moderation, that has a certain timeless fashion appeal, like a pair of good shoes, might cost more in the short term, but in the long term keeps your feet dry, is enduringly elegant, and goes with almost any outfit.

Avari-Nameh also has an interesting blogroll, worth clicking around, i'm going back to have another look...

OT Special Feature; Afghanistan Blogs

P C & E of Afghanistan Weblog a new blog by Shaitaangul, who begins;

Let's get this weblog going on the right foot…

One of my pet peeves in regards to all debates concerning Afghanistan has been the injection of ethnic agendas on pretty much every major topic of discourse. It isn't so much that ethnic politics have been empirically shown to be quite destructive that bothers me. It's the fact that the very notion of ethnicity in Afghanistan is very nebulous and fluid, like all other aspects of politics in the country. I actually have a very extreme view on the subject, as I feel the notion of ethnic identity does not have much meaning within the country itself, and certainly there are no clear borders or lines of demarcation separating groups from one another...

Afghan Voice the thoughts of a young Afghan, Arash, blogging regularly since Jan 2003.

And Brendan's Blog a traveler in Afghanistan who has been logging his travels since March 2004.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004


The new Iraq Interim Government has been announced. Pachachi did a Sonia Gandhi and turned down the presidency. It would be fair to say I am sceptical. With just a pinch of optimism.

Nevertheless, let us celebrate this momentous occasion with a Ben Harper song.

The Will To Live ~ Ben Harper

I met a girl whose heart
was on the right hand side
and upon the left
an angel did reside
they told her mother
that she never would survive
but she kept the rhythm
and is still alive

We must all have
the will to live
you got to have
the will to live

Then I met a man
who had to walk with his hands
born into a world
he couldn't stand
blessed with life
but cursed as a man
still he walks taller
than most of us can

We must all have
the will to live
you got to have
the will to live

Some are born with more
and some born with less
so don't take for granted
the life we've been blessed
it's hard to understand
that we're only a guest
and each one of us
shall be put to life's test

We must all have
the will to live
you got to have
the will to live

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