Thursday, 28 August 2014

It's time to buy that one-way ticket, other voice says.

Only immigration door is open for Iraqis. Source: Al-Mada Newspaper
No other choice is left for Iraqis who still live on this cursed land only to leave. I have been lying to myself all these years that the country would be better. I acknowledge that I was wrong.

It sounds that the crazed psycho Sunni killers will not be dislodged easily from any area and their presence will draw an international coalition to fight them in a protracted war that none can imagine its consequences. 

Also, there is no sign that the brainwashed Shiite militias, who see all Sunnis are terrorists, will disappear especially after enjoying the blessing of the influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani. Though Al-Sistani's decree stipulates that they have to work only with the security forces, but a lot of their leaders and members will definitely have a different interpretation.

Amid all that, the fate of Baghdad where I live is still unclear. Who will grab it, how and when? This is the big question in the minds of its residents.

But what is clear to me now is that I have to save my two little daughters. Whenever I look at them I feel like I'm committing a crime for keeping them grow up here. 

The eldest is kept using the word "Daesh" (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group) whenever she plays with others. Though she still doesn't know what does it mean and puts it as "Daesh Team"  but I don't know what she is going to learn when she starts school few weeks ahead.

I feel like there are two voices quarrelling in my head. 

The first: "Go! You have to leave that sinking ship."

The second: "Man, you are not the only one aboard. There are millions living the same situation just like you. It's not that easy to start a new life in diaspora...etc"

The first: "Of course the road will not be paved at the beginning, but at least you will guarantee your daughters' future. Can you guarantee that your eldest daughter will not get the real meaning of the word Daesh or what do the words Sunni and Shiite mean in coming months and how that will affect her thinking and then her entire life?" 

The second: "Do you imagine what will happen to your parents who adore your kids and can't imagine a day without playing with them? Do you remember how they became ill when you raised the immigration issue few years ago?"

The first: "It's time to buy that one-way ticket. Yes, your parents will be sad at he beginning but later they will be happy when they see their grandchildren living healthy life with a bright future."

That quarrel was like a drumming noise inside my head over the past months until they reached a deal and both agreed on one opinion.

"OK, since immigration process usually takes time so submit your papers, don't tell your parents about the plan and when you get approved you can reevaluate the situation."

So I did.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Boosting morale or addressing evil inside us?

I really can't take it anymore as dozens of pro-government songs that glorify the wars and death flooding the State and pro-Prime Minister TVs all the day and underlining the culture of violence in our society.

Whenever I watch a clip and listen to the lyrics I feel snakes coming out from the singers' mouths to whisper in our ears: "Take up the arms quickly otherwise you will be killed." 

Listen to this one that I picked for unknown "singer" called, Hassan Al-Hayel. His song has become the most popular one among Iraqis who play it loud in cars, stores, parks and even wedding parties. 

In a talk-show for a local radio, members of Iraqi security forces was calling from front lines in western and northern the country, asking specifically to hear that song. The director was repeating it over and over again.

In that song, called "Khali" or "My Uncle",  al-Hayel addresses his maternal uncle who traditionally has a special place in the hearts of his nephews and nieces among many Iraqi tribes and families other than the uncle from the father side. 

I’m not sure why, but maybe that’s because the sons and daughters are very close to their mothers rather than their fathers in our society given that a lot of the fathers are either busy with the daily life or maybe some of them are tougher with their kids other than the mothers.

Therefore, you can find that uncle mentioned in many poems, proverbs and stories that talk about love, kindness and care, as well as those related to the family support in bad times like wars. 

In brief, Al-Hayel tells his uncle that he's ready to sacrifice himself in order to protect him, pledging to kill his enemies and making them a lesson to the world. He promises his uncle to rush to help him like a "plane" and to be "a sword in his hands to cut off the enemy's hands and the tongue of anyone who talks about us in bad."

Those behind these songs say they aim at boosting morals among the public and security forces amid growing Sunni-led insurgency, but I think these lyrics are addressing the evil inside the people especially the uneducated ones from each side/sect who consider all the members of the other side/sect are their enemies and that they have to get rid of them before they do so. 

So scary!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Caricatures from some Iraqi newspapers on current situation

Bleeding Sinjar Mountain. Members of Yazidi community have trapped there since Sunday after militants of the Islamic State extremist group taking over Sinjar town. Dozens of children and elderly have reportedly passed away due to lack of food and water. Source: Al-Sabah Newspaper.

Who will be seated on Prime Minster chair? August 8 is the deadline for Iraqi president to ask the candidate of the biggest parliamentary bloc to form the government. Current Shiite Prime Minster, Nouri Al-Maliki, rejects calls to withdraw his nomination despite objections from Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. Source: Al-Mashriq Newspaper.

While their hands are stained with Iraqi blood, Iraq's neighbors continue to blame each other for the bloodletting. Source: Al-Mashriq Newspaper.

A head of Assyrian King spitting cockroaches in a gesture that the residents of Mosul will dislodge the militants of the Islami State extremist group who have run the city since June 10. My be it refers to the growing anti-Islamic State sentiment inside the city that reportedly led to some armed confrontations. Source: Al-Distour Newspaper.

Here, the fat militant says that he realizes that he has reached his end in Iraq while a man in traditional Arabic gear (Gulf States) trying to convince him to continue fighting with money in his hand. Source: Al-Distour Newspaper.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

A moving plea to help Yazidis in Iraq

A moving plea from the Yazidi femal lawmaker, Vian Dakheel, about the atrocities Yazidis are facing now in the town of Sinjar at the hands of Sunni extremists affiliated to the Islamic State group. As she was addressing the parliament, she burst into tears and then collapsed.

"I'm not here to deliver a speech to the Iraqi people. I'm here to depict the bitter reality the Yazidis are living in Sinjar mountain...we are being beheaded under the banner of 'there is no God except Allah...'" (The Islamic Shahada, a creed that declares believe on oneness of God and the acceptance of Mohammed as Go's prophet.)

"Till now, 500 young and elderly Yazidi were beheaded... Our women are being captured and sold at the slave market...Yazidis are subjected to a genocide people are being slaughtered like other Iraqis from Shiites, Sunnis, Christians, Tirkoman and Shabak. Today is Yazidis turn."

"Save us, save us.Thirty thousand families are trapped in Sinjar mountain without water and food 48 hours now. Till now 70 children and 50 elderly passed away. Our women are being captured and are sold at the slave market."

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Isn’t selling oil harder than selling tomato and cocumber Kaka?

The United Kalavrvta. Source: The U.S. Authorities

As much as I’m sad for the circumstances Iraq and Iraqis are going through, but I feel much better after hearing the news about the slap that Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq’s Kurdish region, got today.

The slap came from the U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson of Galveston when issued an order for the seizure of more than $100 million of oil produced and shipped illegally by Iraq’s Kurds despite the central government objection, according to Bloomberg.

“This seems to be a legally charged issue at this point, and the last thing I want to do is get embroiled in some massive political dispute and have our name dragged through the mud,” Simon Duncan, the president of the Houston-based SPT company that was supposed to unload crude oil from the United Kalavrvta tanker, told the energy industry blog Fuel Fix.

As I was following the news, the picture of the Kurdish Prime Minister, Nechervan Barzani, came before my eyes when he was addressing the regional parliament earlier, like a peacock, to explain May decision to start exporting crude oil solely with the help of Turkey.

Barzani told the Kurdish lawmakers that the decision meant to tell Baghdad that they can sell oil in the international marker solely after a Baghdad official told him: “Kaka, selling oil isn’t like selling tomato and cucumber."

Isn’t now clear that selling oil harder than selling tomato and cucumber Kaka?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

رأي المتواضع: تخلصوا من الضباع لأجل العراق

Iraq Today

مثل أكراد العراق اليوم مثل الضباع التي تعتاش على بقايا صيد وفرائس الحيوانات الأخرى والتي عادة ما تخرج للبحث عن هذا الطعام  ليلاً.

نعم ، هذا هو حال العراق اليوم؛ مابين متطرف مفترس أدمن قطع الرؤوس وتفجير الأجساد ، وما بين ضبع دميم وخبيث وحقود يستغل عبث هذا المفترس ليشفي غليله من العراق ومن عربه.

يوم بعد يوم يثبت ساسة العراق كم هم ضيقي الأفق ولا يرون أبعد من مصالحهم الشخصية ، وإذا أرادوا ان يذهبوا أبعد من ذالك فانهم لا يتعدون مصالح  طوائفهم وقومياتهم.

العراق يترنح مابين سياسي عربي شيعي جاهل وما بين أخر سني أكثر جهلا وثالث كردي يوهم كل منهما أنه معه ضد الأخر وأنه بيضة القبان في عملية سياسية عرجاء.

ان الدور المؤذي للأكراد في العراق معروف منذ عقود ، ولكنه أصبح جلياً منذ أحداث الموصل ، وخصوصا من قبل مسعود البارزاني ومؤيدوه.

ظهر هذا الدور جلياً منذ اليوم الأول بضيافتهم لشخصيات تتبجح بالقتال مع داعش وبألسن طائفية ، وأيضاً بتصريحات أكراد البارزاني التي تصب في صالح الحرب النفسية لداعش مثل "لا عودة الى عراق ماقبل الموصل"...."حرب طائفية"..."العراق يتقسم"... وغيرها....

ومع كل نفثة سم من فم البارزاني يتراقص مرحا مؤيديه في كل مكان على مواقع التواصل الأجتماعي وعلى الأرض هؤلاء الذي نجح الساسة الأكراد في ان يزرعوا في قلوبهم كره العراق وعرب العراق على مدى عقود مؤملين أنفسهم بأعلان دولتهم التي ما أنفك البارزاني أستخدامها لأغراض سياسية لأبتزاز الشركاء العرب.

أكراد العراق اليوم هم ورم سرطاني في الجسد العراق لايقل أذى عن ورم داعش وأخواتها؛ فهم يحوكون المؤامرات ويسرقون النفط ويستولون على الاراضي وبكل قباحه يطالبون بحصتهم في الميزانية ومناصب سيادية في الحكومة المركزية الجديدة.

لقد أعطاهم العراق منذ ٢٠٠٣ ما لم يحصلوا عليه طوال حياتهم من مناصب رفيعة في الحكومة وحصة فوق إستحقاقهم في الميزانية الفدرالية وكل هذا لم يمحي الغل في قلوبهم.

طبعا أنا لا أعني كل الأكراد لأن هناك فصيل بتقديري أكثر حنكة سياسية من البارزاني ، ورفضهم لتصريحاته وأعماله الأن ليس بسبب حبهم لعراق موحد ولكن بسبب خوفهم من إبتلاع البارزاني لهم في حال فصل الأقليم.

لذا على عرب العراق أن يعوا أن مضار الكرد أكثر من نفعهم ويجب تخليص العراق منهم بتسهيل إستقلالهم ، ولكن بدون كركوك ، وتركهم الى مفترسين أخرين مثل إيران وتركيا وربما داعش.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Iraqi Kurds' ambitions take them beyond borders

After acting like an independent state in the northern part of Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, Iraq's self-ruled Kurdish region has started to practise its regional influence by hosting for the first time a widen conference for Syrian Kurdish political parties and activists.

The region's president, Masoud Barzani told his Syrian guests Saturday in Erbil: "We don't know what will happen in Syria but indications say that there will be a change and you have to leave the narrow partisan interests and unify to prepare yourselves for the new period in Syria."

By today's bold move, Iraq's Kurds have officially entered in the Syrian conflict and specifically in the U.S.-backed camp that calls to remove Bashar Al-Assad in defiance to the central government policy in Baghdad which is most likely dictated by Iran to keep Al-Assad in power.

The move not only shows how Iraq is fragmented, but it acts also as a birth certificate for a new regional power. This new West-back regional power has now influence not only in Iraq but also in Syria, Iran and Turkey. It is only a matter of time to see it expanding more and more to win the prize from the West: the Kurdish state. 


Thursday, 19 January 2012

A new answer for a famous question

If it is true then we are in a deep shit again.

According to Al-Mada local newspaper, a state-run woman-related body has issued dictations on what is not allowed to be worn by female employees in government ministries and institutions.

The daily posted a document issued by the Supreme National Committee to Develop the Iraqi Woman in which it refers to previous documents from the Cabinet's Secretariat General and the Oil Ministry dated back to last October.

The banned clothing are tight body shirts, tight pants, colorful and showy shirts, short skirts and slipper-like flat shoes. The ban entered into effect on 1st of January.

That's one of the answers to the famous question: What direction Iraq is heading? It is heading to an Iranian-like government that is run by turbans.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Can Iraqis forgive America?

A cartoon in an Iraqi newspaper shows an Iraqi man shouting on a withdrawing U.S. soldier to take with him sectarianism, corruption and federalism.   

America is withdrawing from Iraq. Eventually!

This very short sentence is dominating all the news nowadays in many languages, bringing Iraq again to the front pages after a long absent. And I'd like to invest this opportunity to make these clarifications and appeals since there are a lot of people follow this subject because it is likely that Iraq and the sufferings of its people will be forgotten again.

To those who say that the U.S. dumb decision to lead the biggest invasion in the twenty-first century has benefited Iraq and has brought all good things to Iraqis, I say: Please respect the blood of the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis mainly children and women who lost their lives for nothing. Please put the millions of widows, orphans, displaced people and refugees in your mind and in front of your eyes when you evaluate the war instead of talking only about toppling the dictator or wishful thinking about democracy, freedom of expression, human rights respect and prosperity which Iraqis are not seeing and is likely not to see them for years to come.

To those who seek to find out whether the war was worth it or not, I say: Please talk to an Iraqi mother or father who buried  their son or daughter killed in violence or by gangs after failing to secure a ransom to win his/her release, talk to a man or woman or child maimed due to an explosion and talk to a displaced family who used to have a roof to live under before 2003. Please don't depend mainly on few people who have benefited from the war or those who didn't live the fear which has become part of Iraqis' life. They didn't lose any of their loved ones. They know nothing about the fear of leaving the house and might never be back again. They know nothing about the fear of being shot while driving or walking in the street. They know nothing about the fear of being arrested and then disappeared in secret prions or being snatched by militant groups.

To those who say the was is ended and use the words "pride" and "success" whenever talk about the war especially Barack Obama, I say: YOU ARE WRONG AND YOU WANT ONLY TO FOUL THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. The war is still going in the eyes and sufferings of widows, orphans, displaced families and refugees you left behind. We will continue this war with Al-Qaida who formed its branch in Iraq because of your war. We will continue this war with Mahdi Army who came to surface only because of your war.

To the American people, I say: You all took part in this dirty war against Iraqis because you supported it directly or indirectly as your taxes were used to finance your military machine that has caused all these sufferings to us. This war, which was presented to you as a war against terrorism and its aim was to protect America, has battered your economy and damaged the reputation of your country.  Because of your support, our coexistence would not be lost: Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds have fought each other and the rest monstrosities are lost among them. Because of your support Iraqi society would not be fragmented like this. Because of your support the Iraqi family would live in one place not each of its members in a country or some of them missing or dead. Because of your support our country will highly likely to be divided into small states.

American people, you are still supporting this war since you are harboring its criminals who should be tried. You are still supporting the war since no apology has been made yet from your side to Iraqis so that they can forgive America.

Kudos to Annie Robbins whose courage has taken her to the extend to say it : "Iraq - I'm sorry." 

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Other tings are not important!

I'm still not exactly sure why I decided to hit the road few days ago to Iraq's revered southern Shiite province of Najaf to see for the first time in my life Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, the most revered Shiite cleric by many Shiites inside and outside Iraq.

Was it my curiosity as a journalist to see the man who has been politically influential and has had his fingerprints on Iraq's political landscape since 2003 U.S.-led invasion? Or was it my worries about our future that drove me to seek anything on what direction we are heading to as U.S. troops leaving us after all these long eight years?

I left my house at 5:30 a.m. to arrive before 9:30 a.m. that set for the meeting as I heard that convoys of leaving U.S. troops were making real traffic on the international road that links Iraq with Kuwait.

I was supposed to join around 30 of Al-Sistani's followers in my neighborhood who left the day before for their annual meeting with their leader. It was still dark and the main road in my neighborhood was decorated with dozens of black flags and banners used by Shiites to mourn the anniversary of the seventh century death of Imam Hussein which falls today.

The number of the flags and banners increased significantly this year in my neighborhood.

Did the Shiites do that on purpose to declare the neighborhood, which is long considered as a religiously-mixed and almost secular one, as a Shiite one? Or did they want to tell the Sunnis that they are the majority here and that they have to accept this reality even though there is one Shiite mosque against three Sunnis?

Three hours later, I arrived Najaf and there was indeed traffic on the road because of the leaving U.S. troops. Just like the early weeks after the invasion, dozens of Humvees, armored personal carriers and army trucks were put on long convoys of flat truck carriers with fully staffed bags of U.S. troops dwindling from some of them.

Amway, I arrived early and it was cold that morning so I had a cup of sweet tea while joining dozens of other people who gathered at the pillared street where Al-Sistani's home/office is located just few meters from the doorstep of Imam Ali shrine, the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad and Shiite Islam's most sacred martyr.

The majority of them were youth in casual cloths while others were in dishdasha, or traditional Arabic shirtdress and either in white or black-and-white kofiya scarf. At least a dozen of body guards in beige uniforms with some of them armed with Kalashnikovs and holding two-way radio transceivers were deployed in the narrow alley that leads to the house/office.

The guards were organizing the visitors entry by putting them in lines and searching them carefully from top to bottom. Other guards were in civilian cloths who were deployed on the sidewalks who approach individuals standing alone in front of the alley, asking them what they were waiting for and their IDs.

About an hour later, our turn came.

Watches, cell phones, pens, keys, rings and wallets were not allowed inside. We had to grab black plastic bags from a bunch hung on the wall at the beginning of the alley to put them in and to leave them at the reception. The guards then led us to the doorstep and into to a corridor where we took off our shoes and then to waiting room.

Few minutes later a small metal door was unlocked and one of the guards invited us to get in to the second room which was furnished with modest carpets and mattress. At one corner, Al-Sistani stood as he was shaking our hands with his both small, smooth and thin hands. In each corner of the room, there was a guard.

Standing om his feet to shake hands with hundreds of visitors, the gentle press he makes while shaking hands and the glitter in his eyes all say that the nearly 84-year old Iranian-born cleric looked in good health condition.

I just sat opposite to him about three or four meters away so that I can hear everything. But the ten-minute meeting didn't bring me the needed answers but in contrary it increased my worries and the ambiguity surrounding our future.

He mentioned twice the word "enemies" who want to decrease the number of Shiites in Baghdad where they are "majority." Although he didn't specify who are the enemies but it is widely understood among the Shiites as mainly Sunni extremists.

"Everyday in the morning prayers I pray specially for Baghdad's residents. I always say that a Shiite in Baghdad is equal to five like me in Najaf," he said with a clear Arabic but with Farsi accent obvious, referring to the hardships Shiites face in Baghdad.

"You are the majority in Baghdad and the enemies want to decrease your numbers," the black-turbaned cleric added. "Stay unified; Shiite and Sunnis and hold to your Islamic and Arab identity. The enemies want to make enemies between you and divide you and to eras your Islamic and Arab identity."

He urged them to keep doing their rites which can be translated as: keep showing that you are the majority in this country and that you need to keep on the gains you have been enjoying since 2003.

So the message was clear: the priority for Iraq's Shiites in years to come is to continue fighting to stay the majority in Baghdad and then in Iraq. Pour in millions into the streets and keep beating your chests and heads and whipping yourselves with chains to honor the death of your most revered saints.

Other things like how to rebuild your country, how to fix your fragmented and war-battered society, what role you have to take to revitalize your ailing economy and so on are not important!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Hope not to see more than these two things

It was early 2003 when I first saw these heavy things that cover the torso and the head to protect them from bullets and shrapnel.Since then, the flak jackets and helmets have become a vital part of our life; either we wear them from time to time or see people wear them.

But since late 2007 when security situation started to improve in most of the areas nationwide, the flak jackets and helmets have been kept in the lockers of many of those who used to wear them during Iraq's dark years such as the media organizations.

Now it's the time to bring them out of these lockers and use them, but not in Iraq. This time will be used in Iraq's neighbors who have the opportunity now, unfortunately, to see and experience them and may be they would be part of their life as the unrest sounds to continue.

Some of those who depended on the flak jackets and helmets, including my employer, are now sending them to colleagues in Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain and Libya. Some are being sent by DHL despite their heavy weights that could be translated into hundreds of dollars for each because they are sorely needed very quickly.

Let's hope that these countries will see only the flak jackets and helmets for a short period of time and not armored vehicles with mercenaries, concert blast walls and razor wires.