Friday, March 20, 2009

Iraqi bloggers on the sixth anniversary, part two

Yesterday, I posted part one of this series (see below). Here are some more clips from Iraqi bloggers on the sixth anniversary of the US invasion and destruction of Iraq.

Chikitita, who has just returned to Baghdad, has this to say about her return on her blog “first words, first walk, first….. in IRAQ”:

I could feel the bad vibes the moment I set foot on Baghdad International Airport. First time in my life I’m treated like a criminal on my own turf. The guy behind the booth seemed to have smelled a rat once he browsed my passport; called a man in a suit, who looked like his supervisor, whispered something and then the latter asked me what I do for a living, I didn’t know whether I should lie, but I thought it’s better to say the truth and come what may, if they’re militiamen so be it, I was too exhausted anyway and getting killed sounded like a perfect idea at the time, I was in a very bad need to sleep. Finally they asked me to pose for their security camera, so I did, not knowing whether it’s just routine procedure or I just looked familiar, as in a wanted terrorist maybe!

My early nights in Baghdad were the hardest; It’s been almost a year since I last had a fitful sleep over possible 2:30-a.m.-break-ins. “Those days are gone,” says my family. I wish I could be as relaxed as they are or explain that terrible premonition that’s washing over me.

The above was posted on March 13, 2009 and so far no updates on whether the premonitions are true or not.

Mohammed Al-Saedi is not currently in Iraq, but he still writes on his blog called “I Love You Iraq”. Recently he wrote about (and included pictures) of the reopening of Al-Shabandar café and Al-Saray Market on Al-Mutanabby Street. This area had a horrific bombing several years back, and it was clear that this was a great loss to the people of Baghdad. It was known for it’s bookstores, and this was dear to the heart of the people of Iraq who love to read. Many people commented that they felt a part of them died when this area was bombed. Mohammed comments on the re-building and re-opening of this café and street:

This place, as I consider it, is the single most important historic/contemporary spot in Baghdad. Not the ruins of Babylon, neither the old walls of Baghdad. These might show how great it was, but they are completely worthless otherwise. Places like Shabandar café are places that we need to work on so that 500 years later it would still be standing as a gem of culture and tradition.

Reading the news, seeing that this place has reopened its doors, and that the street is paved with books once again was the single best thing I’ve ever heard in years. This is not a post to support Maliki or anything, but I'm not sorry to admit it, I'm actually starting to like that guy!

Despite the death of the owner’s five sons who ran the place, and despite the death of their mother due to the severe shock she was in. Their father whom I consider a hero, reopened the place, preserved the old decoration, and is running the place once again.

Another important Iraqi blogger is Dr. Mohammad who writes the blog “Last of Iraqis”. He still lives in Baghdad, but recently went with his wife to Amman so that she could have her baby with adequate medical care. Things did not go well with the delivery and aftermath, although mother and baby did survive and mother is doing better. He writes about the birth of his daughter:

I heard the first cry of Looli (that's the nickname of my baby girl)…I can't describe the feeling, no words can describe it, I'm sure it's the best feeling a human can feel…I cried from happiness and it was a really really great moment that I will never forget, Looli was crying and the brought her near to us and it was another moment that I have been long waiting for, I sang the song that I have been singing for her during the pregnancy and she immediately stopped crying, even now if she cries for a reason that we don't know I just sing to her and she stops, by the way the song is my creation.

And the health problems his wife soon faced:

she must do the surgery within two days as maximum and my love needs to be hospitalized for one day, most probably we will do it tomorrow.

I wish this time things will work well, I’m really sad and really confused of the reason…the obstetrician is one of the best in the Middle East; could it be because of her? I don’t think so…she said that each human has a different healing abilities, and such things might happen without a reason that we have control on…God, let this hard time pass easily on our family, let my wife get out of this surgery without complications and let the chain continue…

Dr. Mohammed (a dentist) is accepting donations to help pay for the added medical expenses that he did not anticipate. There is a donate button on his blog.

Iraqi Mojo writes a post called “Iraq has come a long way, has a long way to go” in which he quotes a recent poll about conditions in Iraq. Here is a clip:

"While deep difficulties remain, the advances are remarkable. Eighty-four percent of Iraqis now rate security in their own area positively, nearly double its August 2007 level. Seventy-eight percent say their protection from crime is good, more than double its low. Three-quarters say they can go where they want safely – triple what it’s been.

Few credit the United States, still widely unpopular given the post-invasion violence, and eight in 10 favor its withdrawal on schedule by 2011 – or sooner. But at the same time a new high, 64 percent of Iraqis, now call democracy their preferred form of government.

And Mosul 4 all” writes about a recent bombing in front of Mosul Medical College. This happened on March 11, 2009, and she was at the college:

Wednesday was horrible day to me, every thing was going mad .I woke up early and went to the college, we had quiz and and I did well, then we went to the cafeteria to eat , then we had a histology lab to see the slides and every thing was good till here ,,,



this was the most horrible sound I was ever heard, I never heard something like this before and next the steel fall toward us , the windows broken on the ground, someone lying on the ground, I put my hand over my ear and screamed, dust, and more of glass on the ground.

Free Iraq decided to copy Juan Cole’s comments on why Cheney is a war criminal. Some of the factual reality covered by Juan Cole includes an estimated 4 million Iraqis have been made homeless; the Iraqi economy is devastated; hundreds of thousands of Iraqi women are now widows; and the occupation has destabilized the entire region.

The blogger known as “I MISS IRAQ” is no longer in Iraq, but he has fallen in love. I am not going to quote him, but you can read about his romantic interests at this link. I wish him the best!

The next blogger is An Arab Women Blues, who is an Iraqi women living in the Middle East. She has a very sharp tongue for western powers, and recently she was discussing an Arabic TV show on the ‘objectivity’ of western media. She has this to say:

They keep pictures of tiny dead bodies away from your o'so sensitive that you have tucked your own babies to sleep... we don't want to disturb them.

And don't let us spoil your lovemaking, your once a week (hardly) love making, because sights as these may "negatively affect your desire for love". And surely, with your ever dwindling populations, we don't want that to happen, do we now ?

Oh! so it is "la Crise"...
"La Crise, la Crise"...I have known "la Crise"...
Millions of corpses on a merry go round shout as they are being whirled - "la crise"
What "crise" ?
The millions of martyrs of your "crise" (crisis-- for those who do not wish to joogle)

I am a woman on the edge of a nervous bear with me. And no, it's not "the wrong time of the month" either.
Please help me stay focused...I am on a merry go round...on a carousel...
I am being assaulted by too much reality.

I don’t read this blogger (An Arab Women Blues) much, mainly because she is very much into blaming the Iranians, the Americans, the Israelis, and the ‘Jews’ for all the problems found in the Middle East. I find I sometimes do agree with her assessments, but they are so often hateful that I loath to spend time reading her. She seems to be unable to see that all groups of people have good and evil people among them.

On a much more positive note, an Iraqi psychiatrist in Baghdad writes of his life in these times and manages to find beauty around him. He calls his blog 'Skies'. He wrote a piece called “I believe” and here is some of his blog:

I believe in Hera, the queen of heavens. Her chariot was pulled by a peacock through the skies.

I believe that Aphrodite made a fault when she hided Adonis in a coffer. Another goddess took him out heralding the end of heaven and start of day and night, spring and autumn.

I have to admit – I don’t know what he is talking about. There is a video with the post that has pictures of peacocks and an Arabic song….. maybe if I could understand the song, I would understand the post? Anyway, he has another post further down, with pictures, of his trip on the Tigris river, his visit to some old buildings in Baghdad, and his appreciation of poetry and art.

And the blogger Mosul is in heart” wrote a picture diary on one way that Iraqis cook fish. It is very interesting, even if (like me) you don’t like fish. Earlier this year, he posted about life in Mosul:

There was a curfew in Mosul this morning. All the roads were closed. We heard a heavy shooting yesterday. The situation has been fluctuating between chaos and relatively calm indeed. !!

Four explosions occurred almost at the same time in Al-majmoa' last week. Two doctors and a student in the pharmacy college were killed yesterday, the dean of the medicine college was attacked and seriously injured few weeks ago and etc.

It is really unbearable. Please pray that our suffering would be ended.

Baghdad Connect, who lives in Baghdad of course, recently wrote this piece:

One well-respected businessman was killed in Al Mansour district two weeks ago in a car bomb that meant to kill the head of the interior ministry – south region. A car bomb in Al Karada claimed the live of a loved teacher and children are again being the victim of kidnapping in Al Dawadie area. The madness returns in the aftermath of the elections and the announcement of Obama’s ‘reasonable’ withdraw from Iraq.

The latest news of Ezzat Al Douri’s (Saddam’s vice president) open letter to the ex-Baathists army officers (24000 nos. of which 9000 nos. of highly paid) to heed to Al Maliki’s call to return to their previous jobs is a living proof that a plan is under way to strengthen the Baathists. This plan will rely solely on the out come of Obama’s direct talk with the Mullas of Iran.

The Iraqi blogger “Violet for Peace” wrote a recent piece that is somewhat cryptic. It is titled “Laugh till death” and here is part of the post:

yes, i have learned this from you my friend... i wasn't used to laugh alot .. i don't know why .... maybe it's the nature of life or friends i used to know... but now with out you .. life is not life ... and the college is not college ... i don't know if we are the only group that laugh in the college and make fun of life -coz our college is a little SERIOUS :D...
Touta, who writes on Fog el Nakhal blog, has a way with words…. And she likes to use a lot of them! Her recent post was on a trip to visit relatives in Rumadi:

I've typed this from my mobile, as my cousins watch in amazement. I'm in Rumadi now. The trip to here from Baghdad is a story in itself.

My cousins who live here visited us to our house, but we never visited them. Now I sit comfortably on a recliner that is only a few centimeters of the floor, making it quite difficult to actually get up once you've sat down.

To transport us from our house, we hired one of thos cars with black windows and large tyres, driven by a tall, quite intimidating guy.It really comfortable and large, and he bellows in laughter as he talks about the rumadi stereotype. I think we had to pass three checkpoints through the whole journey, and I didn't really do anything apart from stay seated as soldier after soldier would peer in suspiciously before exclaiming 'Family!' and letting us pass.

And there is one Iraqi blogger that is not with us on this anniversary. His blog was called “Blog Iraq” and he was killed in May, 2008 in Baghdad. Here is the notice of his death:

There is not one family in Iraq that has been untouched by the violence that gripped our country and Iraqi bloggers are no different. His friend, Mohammed Alani, who helped set up the blog, wrote on BlogIraq: “Ahmed (BlogIraq) is dead. He was killed in Baghdad on April 11th, 2008… He had an appointment that day with a guy he knew. This guy was supposed to get him some documents that prove corruption in some USAID office back in Baghdad. I don't have complete details about it. Anyway, he and the guy bringing the documents were killed at their meeting place in Mansour district in Baghdad

His brother in-law found him dead with his friend in Mansour district in one of the small streets there. Thank God his body was found, unlike many of our friends who were killed or just vanished without a trace.”

I have not heard anything further on this murder or who might be behind it. The writings of Blog Iraq are here at this link. Here is part of what he wrote on last year’s anniversary of the invasion:

This day marks five years since the start of the US-led invasion of Iraq. Five years full of death and suffering to Iraqis. What is even more sad, is that the suffering of the Iraqis did not start only five years ago. It started a long long time before that. Saddam and his entourage caused pain, agony, and death to an enormous number of people. Some people thought it would end by the occupation of Iraq by the US and life will flourish again. How wrong were they.

How very sad that he died, while apparently trying to uncover corruption. He had a young daughter…. And she is now one of Iraq’s orphans. Any child who has lost their father is an ‘orphan’ in Iraq even if their mother is still alive. Today, there are millions of orphans in Iraq, and there are hundreds of thousands of widows. Jobs are scarce for Iraqi men, and almost nonexistent for Iraqi women. It is a huge humanitarian crisis.

McClatchy’s Newspaper asks Is the Iraq war over? Iraqis, Americans see it differently.” And here is a bit of that story:

Six years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, Americans and Iraqis for the first time have starkly different views about the country's future. Americans are ready to close the book on the war, but Iraqis say the story is far from over.

As the war enters its seventh year this week, Americans are winding down their military presence. Violence, while not over, it is at its lowest levels since the war began, and Iraqi forces, U.S. officials say, are better able than ever to secure their nation. The U.S. and Iraq have agreed that most U.S. troops must withdraw by the end of 2011.

Iraqis, however, worry that their war may be just beginning. January's provincial elections stoked tensions between Sunni Muslim Arabs and Kurds in northern Iraq that could spill over into central Iraq.

McClatchy’s also tells us Baghdad’s water still undrinkable 6 years after invasion.” Here is a clip from that article:

The stench of human waste is enough to tell Falah abu Hasan that his drinking water is bad. His infant daughter Fatma's continuous illnesses and his own constant nausea confirm it.

"We are the poor. No one cares if we get sick and die," he said. "But someone should do something about the water. It is dirty. It brings disease."

Everybody complains about the water in Baghdad, and few are willing to risk drinking it from the tap. Six years after the U.S. invaded Iraq, 36 percent of Baghdad's drinking water is unsafe, according to the Iraqi Environment Ministry — in a good month. In a bad month, it's 90 percent.

I don’t have an up-to-date source on other conditions in Iraq – like the lack of electricity, the effects on mental health, the degraded status of women since the invasion, the millions of displaced inside Iraq, the millions of refugees in foreign countries, the lack of health care, the children not attending school any more, the potential for ethnic violence between Arabs and Kurds, and the ongoing violence in general.

Iraqis are more certainly more optimistic, and their levels of optimism are almost back to where they were in 2005, before the really horrible stuff started. They are also concerned that they have not seen the end to the violence unleashed by the US invasion and occupation of their country.

I expect I will be putting up another blog post of Iraqi bloggers on the SEVENTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE ILLEGAL AND EVIL US INVASION OF IRAQ, unfortunately. This ain’t over. One last link: “In Iraq, a boy named ‘War’ turns 6" from McClatchy Newspapers:

Nothing was easy that night. Kadhim heard the baby's first cry before dawn and held him in her arms. Then they heard the first explosions that heralded the arrival of the U.S. military. She named him Harb, Arabic for war. His full name, Harb Zaid, translates as Zaid's War. Neighbors joked that the child named War would only bring damar, or destruction.

…… His favorite game is "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City." He hijacks cars, steals motorcycles, shoots pedestrians and runs over bystanders on the street. Digital blood seeps from the bodies. Most 6-year-olds aren't allowed to play "Grand Theft Auto." It's too graphic. But War has seen real blood.

In 2006 he went with his brother to pick up kebabs when an explosion tore through the market. People ran from the bakery next door burning alive. But he wasn't scared, he said. His father ran to the market when he heard the blast, barefoot and frightened. A neighbor saw the two boys and pulled them away from the carnage. War recounted the tale to his father, Mohammed Abd Badr, without a trace of fear.

That same year, War sat in the car as his dad drove down the dark streets of his neighborhood one night. A car stopped in front of them, and members of the Shiite militia, the Mahdi army, pulled a man from the trunk of the car and shot him. They left him on the street and drove away.


richmond said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Taru said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Taru said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.