Empty Days

Sunday, April 18, 2004



Iraq-n

Once again, the best news-sources on the events in Iraq are being put together at The Agonist while Juan Cole continues to provide meaningful insight into the avalanche of superficially reported infos. Look at this for example, via Juan Cole's post on the forseeable implications of Hamas leader's assassination by Israel today (which comes right after a Bush-Sharon meet) on the collapse of talks between US and Al-Sadr in Najaf:
Iraq sparks Kosovo police fight

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Serbia and Montenegro, April 17 (Reuters) - Two Americans and a Jordanian have been shot dead in
Kosovo after emotions over Iraq apparently boiled over into a gunbattle between members of the U.N. law enforcement mission.
Pretty crazy. If peace can't be achieved between americans and arabs on a UN mission, I have to wonder how slim the chances are for americans to ever make sense of Iraq. Check out this US Army Times article on how Marines feel about Fallujah inhabitants at the moment (via OTB).

I wonder if US will decide to attack Najaf - in the same spirit they bombed Fallujah because it harbored insurgents. But hey - americans are being told all Sunnis are goddam baathists, right? Right - bomb 'em. So now al-Sadr is just a terrorist bad guy and needs to be bombed too, no matter what it entails. I really won't be surprised if US went after Najaf the way they went after Fallujah - sadly there is little sense to expect from that particular military, they seem pretty goddam blind out there, and that won't change any time soon. Here's a pretty example and this comes from a perfectly pro-coalition Baghdad blogger:
One aspect of the recent troubles has been the solidarity amongst Iraqis. Last Friday the local mosque used his loud speaker to announce a collection for the people of Falluja. The locals managed to fill a van with medicines and some foods. this scene was repeated all over Iraq. So much so that a doctor in one of the Falluja hospitals appeared on TV a day later saying he has no more room left even in the hospital back garden to store more medicines. But one incident at the main Adhameya mosque made me feel sad. They made a huge collection of donations and were about to load it all on a trucks when the Amercians turned up suspecting some of the food sacks must have hidden weapons.. They ransacked the entire consignment leaving all food and medicines strewn all over the floor of the mosque. You can imagine how what appears to be a prudent security measure to the Americans leaves Iraqis, especially the ones who made donations feel. The solidarity was refreshing to see though. There are people opening their doors to refugees from Falluja and Baghdad churches making money collections.
[Abu Hadi 15/4/2004, 3:20 pm]
Meantime pundits back home keep blathering about those polls "suggesting" that more of the Iraqi population is actually very favorable to americans being there. As the arab-savvy Col Lounsbury remarked - you have to remember that Arabs are inclined to tell you what you want to hear, which is not a good thing if you gonna rely on polls.

And the US guy in Baghdad who was actually conducting those polls and training Iraqi pollsters described rather well to just what extent the whole thing has been an experiment rather than genuine opinion-sampling.

Ignorance is the mother of all evil - much more so than purposeful evil sometimes.

***

And here's an interesting peek into what Iraqis see, as opposed to us outta here:
I am also plugged into the local grapevine. A system of rumors which exaggerates every event and tends to freely change the names of places etc.. Also been watching lots of Satellite TV, of the Arab variety. The first night of troubles in Falluja was interesting to observe. Al-Jazeera managed to smuggle inside Falluja one of their ace Egyptian reporters. A rather over excited character who painted a picture of World War III.. with much of his reporting dedicated to describing his own bravery in being there.. I think he is angling for a pay rise if you ask me. Al-Hurra, USA's answer to Al-Jazeera insisted on laying on an all night long fashion show. Al-Iraqiya, our local station insisted on showing 3 full length football matches! Al-Alem, an Iranian government sponsored Arabic station, focussed on long debates about young Mr Al-Sadr's escapades.. Seems they like him! MBC, the Saudi owned station concentrated on entertainment showing the Arabic version of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire". Egyptian and Lebanese stations played it safe with pop music.

Meanwhile we had 2 press conferences by the Occupation Authority (it's now official folks). We have a General by the name of Kimit who has less charisma than a cardboard shoe box appears in full army fatigue and repeatedly replies to questions by either "I have no information about this sir" or "I will cover it in the next press conference". I really don't dig this obsession with secrecy Americans have. Just what is the big deal if they admit to losing a soldier in an ambush or admitting to causing collateral damage? They are immune from any court proceedings anyway. The result is Iraqis and Arab satellite TV's start to make up their own theories about what is going on.. resulting in a complete disconnect between occupier and occupied. Take another example.. Reconstruction.. Thanks to lack of publicity, most Iraqis regard the last 12 months as a waste of time.. almost all say "the Americans have done nothing for us".. yet behind the scenes and in almost total secrecy there are 1000's of projects being executed. Just why they are so news shy beats me.
[Abu Hadi 10/4/2004, 5:30 pm]
Kinda enlightening. That's why Al-Jazeera is so popular in the Arab world - because it's there where it's happening. While US-controlled local Iraq tv and CPA conferences are providing no information. Not even about their own reconstruction projects. Amazing.

Btw, this blogger is a UK citizen - that is a returning exile, that is much more westernized and aware than the vast majority of locals. No use to poll that guy.





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