Sunday, September 30, 2007

U.S. Senate Voting On Partitioning Iraq

According to this article, the U.S. Senate was to vote on a 'nonbinding Senate resolution ... (calling) for Iraq to be divided into federal regions under control of Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis in a power-sharing agreement similar to the one that ended the 1990s war in Bosnia. Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., was a prime sponsor of the measure.'

WTH? Who gave them that right? As my sister in law said, 'didn't know that the U.S. had added a 51st state.'

You Go, Mugabe!

I heard part of Mugabe's speech to the UN General Assembly yesterday on NPR news, and all I could think was, "You go, Mugabe!"
After Bush attacked Zimbabwe's government for being tyrannical, its president stood up in front of the UN General Assembly and attacked Bush for his 'rank hypocrisy.' He said, "His hands drip with innocent blood of many nationalities ... He kills in Iraq. He kills in Afghanistan. And this is supposed to be our master on human rights?" And he said, "Almighty Bush is now coming back to the UN for a rescue package because his nose is bloodied. Yet he dares to lecture us on tyranny." He also said, "Mr. Bush thinks he stands above all structures of governance, whether national or international. At home, he does not need the Congress. Abroad, he does not need the UN, international law and opinion."
And Mugabe, you are right, and thank you for stating this in front of the world body. Bush, you cannot continue to take the high ground on the world stage for spreading democracy and freedom, for being the president of the land of the free and the brave. After your Patriot Act, after your Guantanamo, after your Abu Ghraib, after your war on terror, after your war in Iraq and Afghanistan, you can not honestly stand in front of the world and attack human rights aggressions. Sadly. So Sadly. We need a world leader who is innocent of these crimes against humanity, at home and abroad. May aggression everywhere, in America and outside of America be erased forever.

Added:Link to Mugabe's full speech.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Land of a 'Thousand' Palm Trees

Euphrates River, Najaf, Iraq.

Palm trees and more palm trees, Najaf, Iraq. I love palm trees, but this looks like an overgrowth of fungus. :)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Views Above and Around Baghdad

A friend sent me these pictures taken from above of Baghdad and Ramadi. I'm always surprised by how organized the streets of Baghdad look from above, especially when I compare it to other Arab countries from above (one in particular, but won't mention it so that my sisters don't pounce on me. :) I think alot of people forget that during the '80's, Iraq was on its track to becoming one of the most industrialized countries in the Arab world, until stupidity struck its ruler. But the infrastructure still attests to the good that this country has seen.
Mosque in front left corner formerly known as Um Al Tubool, now known as Ibn Taymiyyah.

Baghdad from above. In the distance, you see Baghdad Tower (Burj Baghdad), formerly known as Saddam's Tower. Close to my house in Baghdad.

Habbaniya Lake, Ramadi.

Habbaniya Lake, Ramadi.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Another Family Story: Car Bombs and Hospital Issues

My husband's youngest aunt, who lives in Mosul, had a close call with reality last weekend. Her husband, S, came home from his shop all bloodied and injured. A car bomb had exploded near his little store and a piece of shrapnel had entered his chest, and another his leg. His relatives drove him to the nearest hospital, but for whatever reason, the hospital refused to admit him.
He went home to his wife and daughters in his bloody clothes, and continued bleeding till the following morning.
The next day, a relative drove him to a doctor friend, who was able to locate and extricate the shrapnel in his chest. He was unable to take out the metal in his leg. All of this was done without anasthesia.
And so, the struggle of my Iraqi family continues.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Sultan Hashim's Execution and Instability in Iraq

It is interesting that whenever there seems to be a relative lull in the sectarian violence and the political situation begins to head in the right direction there always seems to be a crisis that erupts that keeps Iraq ’s politicians divided. It is uncanny!

During the constitution when people were talking and trying to reach compromises a certain politician announced that he wanted to create a Shia super-region south of Baghdad, inflaming Sunni anger and causing tension.

When the elections occurred and people were looking forward to selecting a new prime minister and negotiations on the government were underway, Samarra happened and the unraveling of Baghdad occurred. More recent events are when the politicians are hard at work to finish important legislation and things seemed to have been calming, the government announced the arrest warrant for one of the Sunni ministers. And most recently when all was quiet on the political landscape with people waiting for the reports of Crocker and Petraeus, the government decides it wants to execute one of Iraq’s most decorated and professional military officers Sultan Hashim, regardless of the constitutional and legal issues barring the execution without a Presidential Decree. It works like clockwork in Baghdad , but I don’t think it is Baghdad’s clock or Washington’s clock which is important in Iraq anymore, it is the clock of certain neighboring countries which actively work to keep Iraq in a state of instability. There were clear constitutional and legal problems with the carrying out of the executions and even more fundamentally there were problems with the verdicts issued especially because some of those sentenced to death were simply officers carrying out orders and their only recourse was resignation, which Saddam would submit once they were six feet under.

Shia and Sunni alike have questioned the verdict meted out to Mr. Hashim, even President Talabani called for amnesty for him. I don’t think anyone wants to protect criminals like Chemical Ali, but the rule of law is the rule of law and either Iraqis respect the constitution they voted on or they completely ignore it, simply returning us to the days of autocratic regimes selectively applying law as it sees fit.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Granted Political Asylum in US!

It's a bittersweet situation for Cousin A, but he was recommended for political asylum here in the States after leaving Iraq more than two months ago. 'A' is Bilal's brother, forced out of Baghdad after his brother's murder and after the situation has become unbearable and unliveable for him.
Alhamdulillah. He can now start rebuilding his life here in the States.

It's really an interesting situation. The US has granted less than 800 Iraqi refugees political asylum since the invasion, while Sweden has granted 18,000 and Australia 6,000 (according to Refugees Int'l). So, hopefully, this is a move in the right direction. Congrats, A!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bush's Visit to Anbar

President Bush made a surprise visit to Anbar on Monday and brought along his National Security Cabinet. What was interesting was that all of Iraq ’s leadership was flown out to meet him in Anbar. Note that Iraq’s PM has been saying that we are working with the recruits in Anbar to build a local security force (even though realistically he has put any and all obstacles to that process).
So the President along with the PM and other Iraqi leaders meet with the tribal leaders of Anbar and one of the first things they complain about is that the Police are not receiving salaries nor equipment as the PM had promised and stated that he had given. The PM stayed completely quiet and did not answer or object to any of the comments.
The symbolism in the Anbar trip was important…First of all the President of the United States visited a sovereign country yet did not go to its capital indicating that what is happening in Anbar right now is more important than what is happening in Baghdad. Secondly, the President got a reality check as to what the government was really doing to support people who have asked for help against extremism (almost nothing).
More to follow…

Monday, September 03, 2007

Fixing Iraq's Problem

I recruited a new member to my blog, one who will bring a more political perspective to this blog, politics being his forte. Here are some thoughts that occurred to him recently...
Many have complained of the lack of progress in Baghdad and state that Iraq’s politicians are not willing to compromise in order to reach political agreement. People claim that Iraq’s communities cannot live together and should therefore be softly partitioned and that Iraq cannot be resolved militarily so people should give up on Iraq.
It is true there is not a wholly military solution to Iraq’s crisis, nor can reconciliation be reached between Iraq’s disparate communities until a major obstacle has been overcome, lack of trust. The sad fact is there is no trust between Iraq ’s politicians which is translating into politically and ethnically motivated violence on the streets of Baghdad . I think it is high time that Iraqis forget about the past both distant and recent, forget about their identities and ask themselves a simple question, do they continue to want to live in an Iraq for all Iraqis?
The most dangerous thing is for communities to start comparing suffering, especially if one community tries to have a trademark on suffering and continue to feel oppressed today. Injustice only begets further injustice, oppression only fosters underground revolutions, and suffering ingrains hatred. In order for Iraq to move forward we must overcome these issues as Iraqis, even if our politicians fail to do so, and say in a loud voice that we forgive one another and wish to live peaceably together. Then and only then, can we overcome the obstacles standing in the way of true reconciliation. Dwelling on the past only hinders one's ability to create a vision for the future.
These are a few thoughts I had while sitting in on some meetings attended by all of Iraq’s major players, realizing that beneath the niceties there lies a true lack of trust embodied by the security presence of each and every member present.