Friday, December 19, 2008

"Shall I take off my shoe?"

I think it is fitting that Sunni Arabs have embraced Muntathar al Zaidi, the journalist who bid farewell to President Bush by throwing his shoes at him during his last press conference in Baghdad. Generally speaking, the Sunni Arabs love the Shia who fight the Americans and Israelis. Otherwise we are considered traitors and/or apostates.

I hope he is released immediately, as this would show the world that Iraqis really are free, even free to embarrass their Prime Minister. Embarrassing President Saddam Hussein like that would have had deadly consequences for an Iraqi journalist with that kind of fortitude. Moreover, I believe that Iraqis have a right to be angry with President Bush, who could have fired Rumsfeld sooner, could have sent more troops sooner, could have done something about Blackwater sooner, could have planned the invasion, security, and reconstruction better.

Zaidi was merely expressing his deep dissatisfaction with Mr. Bush, and although he did it in a way that embarrassed many Iraqis, the act of throwing your shoes at another person, or beating that person with your shoe because you are very angry with him, is endemic in Iraqi society. It is somewhat embarrassing to admit this, but when my siblings and I were being bad kids, not obeying my parent's orders, they would often threaten us by asking "enza3 in3ali?" (shall I take of my slipper?), or even worse: "enza3 qundarti?" (shall I take off my shoe?). They rarely carried out this threat, but I do remember a few times when a slipper or shoe would be launched in our direction when my parents were extremely annoyed. I think that talking, or even yelling at a person, is a better way to show dissatisfaction with that person.

Sunnis embrace Shi'ite who threw shoes at Bush
December 20, 2008 - 11:10AM

The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at President George W Bush intends to press charges against the people he says beat him up as he was taken into custody, says a member of the Iraqi parliament urging his release.

Bahaa al-Araji, a member of parliament from a party tied to Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, said journalist Muntathar al-Zaidi on Friday presented his case that he was beaten to an Iraqi judge.

Zaidi's outburst at a news conference that Bush held with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Sunday has sparked rallies all around the country, and now Sunni leaders are lionising the Shi'ite journalist.

Facing charges of attacking a head of state, Zaidi could be sentenced to as many as 15 years in jail. Zaidi's family wants him tried under a different law that would carry a maximum sentence of two years, his brother said.

Araji joined more than 70 protesters outside Baghdad's International Zone, a secure area that includes the parliament and Maliki's residence. Araji said Zaidi should appear in court no later than Thursday.

"We know that the judges themselves feel for him and, God willing, he will be with his family soon," Araji said. "Tomorrow we will submit a formal request that Zaidi should be allowed visits by his family."


Thursday, December 18, 2008

House of Traitors

I just finished watching Parts 3 and 4 of House of Saddam. I watched Parts 1 and 2 last week, and since Part 2 ended with Saddam declaring victory after US forces withdrew to Kuwait in 1991, I expected Part 3 to start with the Shia and Kurdish uprisings and the subsequent crushing of the rebellions, the destruction of Najaf and Karbala, and the murder of at least 100,000 Iraqi Shia. I did not expect all of Saddam's atrocities to be included in the film because there were so many, but the uprisings and the mass murder that took place in 1991, one of the most important events in the history of modern Iraq, was not covered at all in the movie. Perhaps the producers did not want to explain how the US betrayed the Iraqi Shia, and how Saddam's Republican Guard slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis because Bush Sr. didn't have the balls to do the right thing. Bombing the country for 41 consecutive days and nights with 88,000 tons of bombs, destroying electrical and water treatment plants, and expelling Iraq from Kuwait was all the US and allies could do, or were willing to do.

It is action packed and dramatized to suit Hollywood, but it is a good miniseries that shows how Saddam killed many of his closest friends and relatives, suspecting them of being traitors. Saddam wondered if Adnan Tulfah, son of Khairallah Tulfah and brother of Sajida, would turn traitor, so he had him killed in a helicopter crash. Adnan Tulfah is portrayed as a good guy in the movie - I don't know if there's any truth to that. Even Saddam is depicted as having a soft side, much like Tony Soprano was.

I learned a few things from the movie. I did not know that tanks were into Dujail and nearly destroyed the city in 1982 to punish them for the assassination attempt. I thought the abductions and murders happened in secret. I did not know that Saddam decided to cooperate with weapons inspectors so that Hussein Kamil, who had defected to Jordan with his brother and their wives (Saddam's daughters), would have nothing to negotiate with when seeking an alliance with the Americans. I did not know that Ali Hassan al Majeed oversaw the killing of his own nephews to preserve the honor of the Majid tribe.

In the end it was Qusay and Uday's own cousin who told the US military that they were hiding in his home in Mosul. Most Iraqis hated Saddam and his sons. Even their relatives hated them. I guess that makes them (and most Iraqis) traitors in the eyes of those who loved Saddam.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


"Anfal" alone should have been reason enough to overthrow Saddam's regime in 1991 and try them for crimes against humanity. Thanks Molly.

Witness to Genocide

Volume 62 Number 1, January/February 2009

by Heather Pringle

"In May 1988, a prison guard checked Taymour Abdullah Ahmad's name off a list and directed him to a bus idling in the Popular Army camp in Topzawa, southwest of Kirkuk. The camp was one of Iraq's grimmest prisons. During his month-long internment there, the 12-year-old Kurdish boy watched guards beating male prisoners senseless with lengths of coaxial cable. He had seen four children weaken and then die of starvation. He stood helplessly as a guard stripped his father to his undershorts and led him off to his death. So Taymour was not sorry to see the last of Topzawa. He did not know that the paper in the guard's hand was an execution list.

The buses idling in the prison courtyard looked like ambulances. But this, Taymour soon discovered, was a cruel illusion; inside, they were squalid mobile prisons. The boy, his mother, and two younger sisters were forced into a dark air compartment that reeked of urine and feces. There was no toilet, no food, no water, no way out. The only ventilation came from a small, mesh-covered opening. By the time the bus pulled out, 60 or so frightened passengers--mainly Kurdish women and their young children--were crushed together in the stifling heat.

After more than 12 hours of travel, the bus bumped to a halt in the desert near the Saudi Arabian border. Taymour stepped into the cool night air and noticed at once that their bus, along with the 30 others in the convoy, had parked next to a large, shallow pit. Before he could take this in, however, a soldier pushed Taymour and his mother and sisters over the edge. Gunmen began firing. "When the first bullet hit me," Taymour later recalled, "I ran to a soldier and grabbed his hand." He had seen tears in the man's eyes, and instinctively reached toward him, hoping he would pull him out. But an officer watching nearby issued a command in Arabic, and the soldier shot Taymour. This time the boy fell to the ground, wounded in the left shoulder and lower back. He played dead until the gunmen moved away, then crawled out of the open grave and set off into the darkness. Several hours later, he reached a camp of Bedouins who took pity on him, hiding him in their tents.

Taymour told this story in 1992 to Human Rights Watch, which was investigating the treatment of Kurds in Iraq. Ethnically and linguistically distinct from the country's Arab majority, the Kurds have long sought independence from Iraqi rule. Moreover, a small number of Kurds follow an ancient religion known as Ezidi. To advance the separatist cause, some Kurds sided with Iran during the Iran-Iraq War, from 1980 to 1988. Their defiance infuriated Saddam Hussein, who feared losing control over the rich oil fields of northern Iraq's Kurdish region. So in 1988, Hussein's government publicly announced a campaign to crush Kurdish resistance. They dubbed it Anfal--The Spoils of War--the title of the eighth chapter of the Koran, which records revelations received by Muhammad after his first victorious battle over non-believers. By characterizing the Kurds as infidels, Iraqi officials hoped to rouse support in the Muslim world for their genocidal campaign.

Anfal proceeded with terrifying precision. Iraqi aircraft first dropped conventional bombs and chemical weapons on unsuspecting Kurdish villages; ground attacks followed, driving the survivors to collection points situated near main roads. Paramilitary and military forces waited in secret to gather up the terrified families and bus them to army camps and temporary holding centers. Seven months later, in September 1988, the Iraqi government announced the end of Anfal and declared a general amnesty for anyone who had sided with Iran during the war. By then, however, some 100,000 Kurds had vanished without a trace and around 2,600 Kurdish villages lay in ruins."


Friday, December 12, 2008

Revenge of the 3arab jarab

When I think about the number of suicide bombers who have blown themselves up among Iraqis in the last five years, I am always shocked. It is difficult to comprehend how so many people can be convinced to kill themselves and other humans, even after you subtract the number of bombers who were tricked into doing it or drugged before being strapped with bombs and sent into a crowd of innocent Iraqis. The ones who do it voluntarily really believe they go straight to heaven after dying. It is mind boggling.

In 2003, before the invasion, Iraqis knew that the Ba3thi elite (Saddamists) would fight hard and if overthrown would want revenge, and they would kill Iraqis en mass, as they were quite used to it, in order to regain power. But I did not realize that non-Iraqi Arabs would join them, and volunteer as suicide bombers, often targeting markets, cafes, buses, universities, weddings, funerals, and restaurants. I have no problem calling those murderers "jarab" because that is what they are. More than 1,100 suicide bombers, even if they are not 3arab, are definitely jarab. They murder for their sect, their cult, although they have murdered many Sunni Iraqis. They are against reconciliation between Iraq's Shia Arab, Sunni Arab, and Kurds. Today they struck a packed restaurant where Iraqis had gathered to talk peace between Arabs and Kurds. And when I describe them as "jarab" some Arabs get angry with me.

People who say that there were no suicide bombings in Iraq before 2003 say the truth, but most people who say this do not ask why there were no suicide bombings in Iraq before 2003, and why it took months after the invasion for the number of suicide bombings to rise. After their overthrow, the Ba3thi leadership allied themselves with "mujahideen" like Abu Musab al Zarqawi and together they have been engaged in the most horrific crimes in human history, causing sorrow and suffering among millions of Iraqis.

Friday, December 05, 2008

What Would Jesus Do?

how about Muhammad?

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Meanwhile in Iraq, "International media watchdog groups called Wednesday for the release of a freelance journalist jailed in northern Iraq for violating a public decency law by writing a story about homosexuality."

From the same article there is good news: "the number of attacks in Iraq has dropped to the lowest level since 2003 despite a recent spate of high-profile bombings, the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq said Wednesday." (Thanks David All)

Monday, December 01, 2008

Reagan believed Saddam would be "reliable partner"

'Declassified U.S. government documents show that while Saddam Hussein was gassing Iraqi Kurds, the U.S. opposed punishing Iraq with a trade embargo because it was cultivating Iraq as an ally against Iran and as a market for U.S. farm exports.

According to Peter Galbraith, then an idealistic Senate staffer determined to stop Hussein from committing genocide, the Reagan administration "got carried away with their own propaganda. They began to believe that Saddam Hussein could be a reliable partner." '

Key Figures

Iraq: Key figures since the war began


_October 2007: 170,000 at peak of troop buildup.

_November 2008: 146,000.

_Confirmed U.S. military deaths as of Dec. 1, 2008: At least 4,207.

_Confirmed U.S. military wounded (hostile) as of Nov. 28, 2008: 30,840.

_Confirmed U.S. military wounded (non-hostile, using medical air transport) as of Nov. 1, 2008: 34,618.

_U.S. military deaths for November 2008: 17

_Deaths of civilian employees of U.S. government contractors as of July 1, 2008: 1,229.

_Iraqi deaths in November from war-related violence: 360, the lowest number of civilian casualties reported in one month since the AP began tracking them in May 2005.

_Assassinated Iraqi academics as of Nov. 27, 2008: 408.

_Journalists killed on assignment as of Dec. 1, 2008: 135.


_Nearly $576 billion so far, according to the National Priorities Project.


_Prewar: 2.58 million barrels per day.

_Nov. 16, 2008: 2.40 million barrels per day.


_Prewar nationwide: 3,958 megawatts. Hours per day (estimated): 4-8.

_Nov. 18, 2008 nationwide: 4,880 megawatts. Hours per day: 14.8.

_Prewar Baghdad: 2,500 megawatts. Hours per day (estimated): 16-24.

_Nov. 18, 2008 Baghdad: Megawatts not available. Hours per day: 17.0.

Note: Current Baghdad megawatt figures are no longer reported by the U.S. State Department's Iraq Weekly Status Report.


_Prewar land lines: 833,000.

_Oct. 2, 2008: 1,300,000.

_Prewar cell phones: 80,000.

_Oct. 2, 2008: 13.4 million.


_Prewar: 12.9 million people had potable water.

_Oct. 2, 2008: 20.9 million people have potable water.


_Prewar: 6.2 million people served.

_Oct. 2, 2008: 11.3 million people served.


_Nov. 27, 2008: At least 2.4 million people are currently displaced inside Iraq. However, more than 140,000 Iraqis returned to their homes between June and October of this year, most of them internally displaced people, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


_Prewar: 500,000 Iraqis living abroad.

_Nov. 27, 2008: Close to 2 million mainly in Syria and Jordan.

All figures are the most recent available.
Sources: The Associated Press, State Department, Defense Department, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, The Brookings Institution, Refugees International, International Organization for Migration, Committee to Protect Journalists, National Priorities Project, The Brussels Tribunal, Department of Labor.

AP researchers Julie Reed and Rhonda Shafner in New York compiled this report.

Torture: Effective or Not?

"Over the course of this renaissance in interrogation tactics, our attitudes changed. We no longer saw our prisoners as the stereotypical al-Qaeda evildoers we had been repeatedly briefed to expect; we saw them as Sunni Iraqis, often family men protecting themselves from Shiite militias and trying to ensure that their fellow Sunnis would still have some access to wealth and power in the new Iraq. Most surprisingly, they turned out to despise al-Qaeda in Iraq as much as they despised us, but Zarqawi and his thugs were willing to provide them with arms and money. I pointed this out to Gen. George Casey, the former top U.S. commander in Iraq, when he visited my prison in the summer of 2006. He did not respond.

Perhaps he should have. It turns out that my team was right to think that many disgruntled Sunnis could be peeled away from Zarqawi. A year later, Gen. David Petraeus helped boost the so-called Anbar Awakening, in which tens of thousands of Sunnis turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq and signed up with U.S. forces, cutting violence in the country dramatically.

Our new interrogation methods led to one of the war's biggest breakthroughs: We convinced one of Zarqawi's associates to give up the al-Qaeda in Iraq leader's location. On June 8, 2006, U.S. warplanes dropped two 500-pound bombs on a house where Zarqawi was meeting with other insurgent leaders."