Saturday, 31 May 2008

Baghdad before and after

The BBC's Caroline Wyatt returns to Baghdad after a 10-year absence and is looking for a shoulder to cry on in this war-torn city.

"The Baghdad I remembered was a sprawling city, a place of honking horns and barely-controlled anarchy on the roads," Wyatt starts the story.

"Amid the narrow, uneven pavements of the gold market, I jostled for space with shoppers peering closely at the gold necklaces given to brides at their wedding," Wyatt says.

"As a Westerner, I felt safe."


Thursday, 29 May 2008

Russia's Lokoil struggles to revive oil deal

Russia's Lokoil oil firm delegation came back to Baghdad and held Wednesday a meeting with Iraqi president, Jalal Talabani, to revive a Saddam-era oil deal for one of Iraq's 10 super giant fields with its reserves estimated over 4 billion barrels, Hassan Hafish reports for Dow Jones Newswire

In 1997, the oil giant Lukoil struck a $3.7 billion deal with former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to drill at the West Qurna field in Basra. However, Saddam canceled the contract in 2002 the Russians hoped they would be able to revive it when Moscow wrote off most of Iraq's $12.9 billion debt.

In February, Russia agreed to write off $12 billion, or 93%, of Iraq's $12.9 billion debts to Moscow, a gesture that appeared aimed at helping Russian companies win contracts in Iraq. The two sides also signed a separate deal opening up Iraq for $4 billion in investment from Russian firms, including Lukoil.

I hope that the Russians have not been fooled!!!

Sunday, 25 May 2008


There was no doubt that everyone in the Arab world was happy today as seeing the Lebanese parliament members electing their new president after a six-month stand off which was ended after exerting huge Arab and world efforts, the most fruitful one was led by Qatar.

It was a real moment of happiness, especially for me, when I was seeing the majority of the world leaders and senior officials, whether from Arab or Muslim or European countries or others, who were racing to solve the Lebanese problem came together today to harvest the fruits of their efforts.

At these moments, I was feeling a voice inside me wants to reach everyone of those leaders and senior officials to show the same determination they showed over the past six months to solve the Lebanese problem to our problem and help us to get out of our endless sufferings.

With that voice, questions were flowing inside me: tens of conferences were held for Iraq since 2003 what they yielded in? why we are not going forward? what we need to go forward?what we need to heal the past wounds? who can help us? what?....why?....who?.....

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Another black day to Iraqi media

Iraqi fledgling media witnesses today another black day with the death announcement of two local journalists: one in Baghdad and another in Diayala province, Aseel Kami and Khalid al-Ansary report for Reuters.

Wisam Ali Ouda, a 32-year old cameraman for Afaq TV channel, was shot to dead Wednesday in Baghdad's eastern Obaidi district by U.S. soldiers, according to the station's spokeswoman.

"We confirm one of our employees was killed by an American sniper," Bushra Abdul-Amir, head of public relations at the station told Reuters, citing testimonies given by witnesses to the station's managers.

It is an accusation echoed by Hadi Jalu, deputy director of NGO Iraq's Journalistic Freedoms Observatory. "They all said an American soldier killed him," he said.

U.S. army denied any civilians had been killed during military operations in Obaidi on Wednesday.

While the second journalist was Haidar Hashim al-Husseini, a reporter for the local al-Sharq newspaper who was found dumped in a field with nine other corpses in Diyala province, about 60 kilometer northeast of Baghdad, after being kidnapped on Tuesday.

When this ends for God sake?

Our government and the magic key

It sounds that our "national unity" government hoists now the white flag as it grows desperate for not reaching any agreement between all its political factions to have normalcy back to this war-torn country.

It now turns its eyes to beyond its borders to have somone with a magic key.

Today, our president Jalal Talabani sent a letter to Qatar's Emir, Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani, in which he expresses his appreciation to the efforts he made to solve the crisis in Lebanon and invites him to visit Iraq.

I hope that Sheik Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani would accept Talabani's invitation to visit Iraq but with a magic key to get our country back on the track.

Do you think that Iraq's magic key is no long with the Iraqis?

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Iraqi sellers go online

I just found this new Web Site and I wanted to share it with you but unfortunately it's only in Arabic so that I advice those who do not speak Arabic to have someone to translate, although I did a little bit, because you will enjoy it.

It is , the first ever Iraqi buy-online Web Site just to imitate or although there are still ages ahead between them with no delivery available or guarantee which such sites offer to their costumers.

But instead if you are interested to buy something you have to get in touch with the seller either by phone of e-mail to arrange the deal.

I don't know why it is named after the name of Baghdad's notorious popular Mredy market which is located in its eastern slum of Sadr City where stolen staff, forged documents and other staff are being sold.

At this Web Site you will meet Laith al-Kadhimi , a Baghdad resident who offers a one-ton Renault van model 1995 "but it can take more than two tons."

He only asks for US $6,000.

And you can also call Alaa Naji from Baghdad if you are interested to buy his two-burner Italian made cooking stove which he doesn't "need it anymore and is in a very good condition."

The price is 50,000 Iraqi Dinnars (about US$ 42) and you can find it at " Abu Alaa shope for watches in al-Kubaisi building."

But the most distinguished seller is Abu Hassan who offers a "Taq (distinguished) mobile phone number for Asia Cell which has not registered yet to anyone."

The number is 07708 000 808 and the price for it is US$ 100 while Asia Cell SIM chip is sold at US$ 5 and I don't know why Abu Hassan sees his number is "Taq."

Anyway I hope that you will enjoy your tour and find what you need and most important thing is that I hope to see as a peer to amazon and you think so? why not let's see....

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

UN work nature, is it controversial?

I always see the work of the United Nations as a controversial one: it sometimes directly endorses the wars or it does it indirectly by turning its eyes, closing its ears and mouth while on the other side it helps the victims of these wars.

In 2003, it couldn't stop the U.S.-led invasion and now it begs to help Iraqis who are affected by this war.

In its recent appeal on 9 May, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) called on international donors for more US $127 million to help continuing its assistance programs for Iraqi internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees throughout the end of 2008.

The appeal was the second in this year as the first one was in January which was for US$261 million but it has so far received only US$134 million and spend them all.

But Iraqis, like
Basil al-Azawi who heads the Iraqi Commission for Civil Society Enterprises, a coalition of over 1,000 Iraqi non-governmental organizations (NGOs), are skeptical and demand the international body to cooperate with local NGOs and present detailed documents on their expendtures.

Al-Azawi told the UN IRINnews that local Iraqi NGOs "have no idea how this [aid] money is being spent. Some organisations present detailed documents on their expenditures, others do not.”

“There is a perception that huge sums are being paid as high salaries to these organisations’ employees or being paid as rent for their buildings,” al-Azawi added.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Iraqis face no danger in Lebanon !!! why???

As Arab governments and others around the world are either warning their citizens in Lebanon to be more cautious or helping them to leave the country or preventing those who want to head there, Iraqi Foreign Affairs Ministry came up today with this controversial statement:

"Iraqis in Lebanon are in good health and there is no fear on their lives," Foreign Undersecretary Labid Abawi told the US-funded Radio Sawa. "For the time being we don't have such a plan (to evacuate Iraqis from Lebanon), there is no necessity for this," Abawi added.

How lovely to hear the government says you agree?

No wonder to hear such thing as this government doesn't care about its citizens' lives inside Iraq who are being killed in tens everyday.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

What a shame...

I just heard from a friend of mine that the prestigious American news agency, the Associated Press (AP) still treats its Iraqi employees in Baghdad office with a very humiliated way: they have to get searched twice before they get inside the office and they have to bring food with them, like construction workers, as they are not allowed to enter the kitchen and eat like other foreign staff.

What a shame....such companies must be grateful to those Iraqi employees because they are the ones who are behind their success in this war-devastated country as they have the big role in the work as we all know that the foreign journalist can't go out and do stories except to the Green Zone area.

But fortunately this is not the case with all news companies.

For instance, at the one I work with there is food for all of the employees....don't get me wrong with this as it is not a matter of food but instead it is a matter of showing respect to the other and let those real heroes feel they are partners with their foreign colleagues and their employer is not an extension to the U.S. occupation on their land.

Moreover, none of those AP's Iraqi employees has a written contract but instead they only have vocal ones and of course the purpose of this is clear: AP wants to make its obligations toward those people unclear and leave these obligations be decided personally unlike the foreigners who have their employer's commitments clear in their contacts before going to this war-torn country.

Another thing I heard from my friend is that AP is facing a lawsuit which has been filed by two of its former Iraqi employees at an Iraqi court as they were not paid the appropriate compensation when AP dismissed them last year.It is because they had no contracts to protect their rights so that they have to fight.

It is something really hurtful and shameful that in addition to danger the Iraqi journalists face everyday, their rights are lost as such companies making use of the lawless situation in Iraq.

I say to such companies: this not the way to say "thank you" to those people whom support has been the main reason behind keeping your work up all these years in this country.

And to the Iraqi government, Association of Iraqi Journalists, local and international NGOs and organizations I say: you can't divert a bullet fired on an Iraqi journalist but you can protect his rights at least to keep the story of this country gets out to the world.

In another subject, the AP's Managing Editor for International News, John Daniszewski appointed Tuesday Robert H. Reid as Baghdad's new bureau chief.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Iraq loses its history as well

A hurtful and shameful story is brought today by Robert Fisk on how the cradle of civilization, Iraq, is losing its history as antiquities are being plundered for the pleasure of private collectors worldwide.

"The near total destruction of Iraq's historic past – the very cradle of human civilization – has emerged as one of the most shameful symbols of our disastrous occupation," Fisk says in Belfast Telegraph .

"The use of heritage sites as military bases is a breach of the Hague Convention and Protocol of 1954 (chapter 1, article 5) which covers periods of occupation; although the US did not ratify the Convention, Italy, Poland, Australia and Holland, all of whom sent forces to Iraq, are contracting parties" he adds.

Please join me in thanking our "liberators".....