December 28, 2006

To Saddam Hussein.

When I hear a piece of news , a verdict, or a story that touches me deeply , I freeze.
I usually can't comment on it straight away nor gather my thoughts and feelings in any coherent form. It takes me time to distill , digest and absorb.
I am not a journalist , I cannot report "things". Reporting takes a certain detachment and when it comes to Iraq , am not detached . I am very attached. Terribly attached.
Such piece of news reached me yesterday . That of your Execution.
I will address you as Saddam Hussein, Sir.
Even though I still consider you to be the legitimate President of Iraq, allow me not to use any formalities here. Let us forget titles , ranks and the rest .
When it comes to Death , all protocols fall. Death has this even power - We are all equal in the face of it. Death knows no kings, no heads of state, no generals. It strikes and it leaves. And you know that too.
What remains though is the Legacy left behind. A Legacy made of words and acts.
When I compare for instance Your Legacy to that of george bush the american , I see that:
You have remained true to your word until your last breath.

I don't care what they say about You . The misuses and abuses of power, the Dujails, the Anfals and the rest of the well knitted pieces of grossly exaggerated melodramas. I know one Truth Sir,You stayed in Iraq and did not run away like the rest. You did not seek asylum in the USA , Egypt or Jordan like others. You did not pack your bags nor your millions. You stayed and that is what matters to me.

Forgive me Sir, I am not a very sophisticated woman. I speak a simple language , the language of the heart. No one hardly ever recognizes this dialect these days. But I have a feeling, that despite all your alleged hardness, You would.

You know, my Dad before passing away said to me a few sentences that have remained with me since. He said : My Daughter, many things will come to pass in this life. You will face many trials and many errors. One thing you need to be certain of though, don't ever loose your integrity nor your dignity. The day you SELL those, you would have sold your soul. And all is downhill from there.
Sir, I am proud that you have not sold neither.
In that you have helped us preserve our "own" intact.

As for the rest , don't worry about them. They will end up in the dustbins of history. They will end up cited as thugs, profiteering, sectarian, opportunistic, hypocrites. I feel sorry to say that about the people you believe in . But that is the Truth.
Sir, take an example . Even your so called tribunal is made of an ex accountant, turned waiter turned thief. This is no verdict , this is a circus, a zoo . And they are the animals.

What pains me most is that they succeeded in massacring yet another TRUE IRAQI.
A true Iraqi amongst many thousands. And this is what You are .
Granted, you had your downsides , your shadow. But it pales in comparison to what the "Land of the Free " is doing to us. Your shadow is like a ray of sunlight, Sir.
A friend who is not an Iraqi, nor an Arab , nor a Muslim wrote to me . She said :
" I feel a pit in my stomach that will not go away. My sister cried upon hearing the verdict. How dare they ? What is this collective punishment by the White Man? I will not stay quiet..."
Another wrote a poem in your honor and she is from England .
And others wrote some more .
Even Iraqis who left the country and had known the coldness of exile , wrote denouncing ...

I am aware that words serve nothing now. But just to let you know that you are not alone.

Sir, If you allow me, try to imagine this. Try to imagine barbaric hordes coming from across oceans . Try to imagine herds of indoctrinated sheep from across borders dressed in black . Try to imagine every single scum bag in the land that you so eloquently praise, rising up and ganging up against you. What does that make You? It makes you a Hero Sir. Yes it does.
If all those armies , sectarians and sellout vermins conspired against You it is because You have stayed True to something. And darkness hates the Truth.

They say you were authoritarian and totalitarian. Come and see them now.
See their Fascism infesting the streets. See it in every neighborhood, see it in every corner .
You said Women are the Pioneers of this Arab Ummah , come and look at us now.
Rape has replaced sexual intercourse, censorship replaced education and forced domestication has replaced public life.
You said Education is the sign of a Progressive Ummah. Our schools and universities are empty.And our Brains drained and killed.
You said Health is Free for all. Our hospitals are dilapidated and our doctors in exode.
You said Kurds are our brothers, they are now being trained as snipers by Israel.
You said Christians and Muslims are part of this mosaic called Iraq. The Christians are fleeing by thousands and the churches are deserted.

Look at me Sir. I am a product of this wonderful mosaic called Iraq. I am half Muslim and half Christian. And the Muslim half has Shi'as and if you dig hard enough you will find
Kurdish, Armenian, Turkish, Chaldean, Arabic roots all the way back...
Where is my place now Sir ?

You are about to find your place soon. Like a bird flying to nest into the arms of the Sky.
Whilst, I am left behind waiting for my turn. And in the meantime, searching , desperately searching for a place to rest my tired head and finding none.

Sir, I heard they will execute You within 36 hours. In time for the Eid. Our sacrificial feast.
You did say you are willing to be sacrificed for Iraq . You still believe they are worth it .
I envy your Faith.
May you go in Peace now, my True Iraqi...

Painting :Iraqi Artist, Dr Ala'a Al Bashir.

December 25, 2006

To a voiceless Iraqi Sister.

My Dear Sister ,

I really don't know how to start this . I am short of words. Seems like all the idioms of the English language will never convey to you what I feel. I will keep it simple. I believe in simplicity.
A holocaust survivor from the Abu Ghraib chambers related your story.
I had heard it before . But I can never hear enough of it .
I am with you in this cell . I am watching it all as it happens.
Your cries and screams went unanswered . Your cell mates could do nothing, they were castrated whilst you were being raped by the Americans.
They heard you shout :" Help me my Iraqi brothers, help me " and they only had their prayers to offer you. Don't be angry at them , they were "detainees " like yourself.
Your story and I have heard many of them , reminds me of this famous line by the Iraqi poet Muddafar al Nawab. He was addressing Jerusalem in it , but I am addressing it in Your Honor.
He said: " Jerusalem is the Bride of your Arabhood, welcome , welcome - so why did you leave all the filthy fornicators of the Night come to her ? You sons of bitches, did you really think that a raped woman will be silenced ?. " (my humble translation)
Sister, I heard that you were silenced. Seems that the other "detainees" heard nothing after your first cry. The silence was overbearing, they could hear a pin drop to the ground.
They silenced you through death perhaps. I don't know. You have remained an anonymous voice amongst many others.
I will lend you my voice . I have vowed not to be silenced. Use it, take it, speak through me.
Take my courage, the little I have left, and tell them what happened to you.
Give me them the gory details so they can spit it out, vomit it .
Tell them the horrors of rape.
Speak out, you have to speak out.
Tell them how you were made to shut up . Tell them the truth. Does not matter if they were americans or if they are current day so called "iraqis".
Say it, proclaim it, shout it, write it in tears, write it in blood. Use me, use my hands, use my voice , use my words.
And so she speaks...
" The cell was dark and damp. They tore my clothes away , taking turns , they said : I am going to fuck you until oblivion, until Death. And then they took turns . One after another. They shuddered and said " Oh God " when they poured their venom into me . All the while they were crying out : Take it bitch, take it you filthy Iraqi whore. I will fuck you until you are blue in the face. "
I am in pain, my womb hurts, my back hurts, I can feel the only warmth , that of my own blood dripping... They are banging my head against the cold stone floor...I am losing it now ... My soul is hovering above my body and am watching it all in cool detachment. I am blue in the face. I think am dead now. I feel light, light as ether, light as air...".

And I continue ...

I am impregnated now . I have conceived a monster. You are about to experience the birth pangs of the New Middle East gushing out of me . So be ready for the delivery and welcome Your new Child about to be born. Yes, be ready.

Painting : Iraqi Artist, Mohammed Sami

December 22, 2006

And the Truth shall set you Free...

Condi Rice , yesterday in an interview , said that American "investment" in Iraq was worth it in terms of lives and dollars. An eerie reminiscence of M.Albright famous quote "The price was well worth it." Chilling !
But I really need to laugh out loud here...
What an amazing people !
You have been royally defeated . It is as clear as day light.
Yet you are adamant about hanging in there. Just a little bit more , just a little longer.
Send more troops, send more mercenaries, pump more of "our" petrodollars in - You are still defeated.
Torture, rape, steal, kill, massacre - You are still defeated.
The writing is on the wall . What is it about D.E.F.E.A.T you can't understand?
The beast in his last throes , struggling for breath ?
Let me laugh some more...

It is not simply a question of saving face. This is only one level of the Truth.
It is not only about Oil . You are so hooked on the Oil theory, you will be drinking the damn thing soon.
It is not only about geo-strategy and military bases.
It is not only about Eretz Israel whose ugly face is out there for all to see.
It goes deeper than all the above. Way deeper.
Do you want to know what it is all about ?
I will tell you but sit still and don't freak out .
It is the agony of realizing that a "Third world", "Arab", "majority Muslim" country has managed to pierce the Beast with it's deadly rudimentary arrows.
The Beast is now trapped like a bull in a Corrida, giving its final kicks before falling to the ground, inert.

The Message to you is very simple - you can't win this one.You will never be able to win this one.
You, the Empire. You, the mightiest power on earth. You, with the most efficient arsenal in the world - can't win this one.
And We, "simple" people , with basic ammunitions , with basic tactics and with "basic understanding" have skillfully outmanoeuvred you.
Let me laugh some more ...

Sure, your weapons are powerful. Sure you have the "best" strategists. Sure you are very "sophisticated" with your computers, power point slides, news conferences and propaganda machine. And We, the "simple ones" have none of that.
We are a "faceless, dusty, poor, badly dressed, rugged looking,unshaven lot."
We speak bad English and make mistakes when we utter something out. Our color and our accent don't fit.
We have none of the technology you possess. We don't even have the right figthing gear nor the right attire.
We don't have three meals a day in a canteen. We fast when we find nothing to eat.
But We possess many things that you don't.
We viscerally belong to this Land. We can trace our genealogy back milleniums.
We have vision like eagles and are unafraid of staring at the sun. We befriended Death and overcame it. Thanks to you.
And because of you , We lost everything, there is nothing to fear losing anymore.
We have become detached from material gains, we have reached plenitude in Nothingness.
Your dehumanizing us served us well. You reverted to us our archaic intuition, our guts are our radars and our instincts our protective shield. We have even developed our sense of smell like wolves, like lions, and we can trace you miles away.
You want to chase us some more, hunt us down ? We will meet you at every corner in the Jungle you created.
We will sprout again, like some bad weed, like some wild flower. You will never succeed in plucking us out, nor in uprooting us. Our roots go back centuries, beyond time,beyond your "modernity." Our roots are as old as Creation.
We are aware that History can be cruel in the short run, but in the long run it is most merciful.
You turned us into Warriors and you are nothing but paid soldiers.
This is something you can't grasp or understand despite all your purported "intelligence."
You see, We have truth on our side and Justice sitting next to her.
These are non measurable, non quantifiable. These are not "things" that you can pack and take away with you when you leave. Because leave you will. This is our promise to you.
We will even give you candies and roses on your way out.
Our Truth shall set you free . And We shall laugh some more...

Nota Bene: A special Thank you to : the Iraqi Resistance, Gabriele Zamparini and Zig - for their different forms of courage and dedication and to ..........condi rice (lol) for having inspired me on this one.

Painting : Iraqi Artist, Dia Al Azzawi

December 21, 2006

A Christmas Present ...

Today, The Emperor Bush declared :" More sacrifices will take place in Eye Raq."
Take it to mean : More Iraqi blood will be spilled , more death, more carnage, more torture, more mayhem, more rape, more theft...more of the same . A Christmas present.
Maliki, the not so smart , not so bright puppet said to the effect : " Ok I agree, more troops. On condition that we finish off the Resistance, contain the lunatic Muqtada and oh well , as for the Badr Brigades and the Magawir of the Ministry of Interior - later, later."
They gave him Nejef as a token of appreciation and handed it to the "Iraqi Army." Another Christmas present.
Brace yourselves for a massive attempt at a deadly blow to the Resistance.
Resist , we have and we will. Nothing can stop us now.

But let us leave aside realpolitik for a moment . Let us concentrate instead on the spirit of Christmas.
Since America is being so generous with her presents ,I, as a good hospitable Arab would like to reciprocate. I am thinking of offering you a special gift on this holy occasion.

I heard that in America (by the way, I don't like to call it U.S.A - I like the sound America better- hope you don't mind- it's more musical to my ears), there is a traditional craft called patchwork.
Seems you folks and specially the women are very skilled at it.
In Britain, and if I am not mistaken , they are called quilts. Do correct me if I am a little "behind" in my terminology.
Good old, hand made, home covers. Women sit for days on end taking pieces of disregarded fabrics , diligently sewing those single bits together. What you get at the end is a work of art. A story emerging from behind those abandoned, tattered cloths.

I would like to offer you my Iraqi patchwork.
I will do my utmost, despite the current economic circumstances, to buy for you top quality fabric and thread.
Something solid that will last you for long. Something that you can proudly show to your great grand children. Something you can remember us by. Something that will withstand the signs of Time. Something for you to keep till Eternity.

I will be guided by candle light or cheap kerosene lamps since electricity is not available. But I assure you this will not diminish the quality in any way.
Actually, to be honest with you, I am not the only craftswoman here.
I have over 655'000 artisans with me and a countless others who are in a zombie vegetable state dictating to me how to go about it.

Consider each of the 655'000 plus dead , pieces of fabric. And consider the hundred thousands amputated, paralyzed, raped, tortured,bereaved,widows and orphans ...the thread.

Bear with me as this is hard studious work. After all a present of such magnitude cannot be "composed" swiftly. Patchworks need time to emerge into a full story. Right ?
No need to worry, I will ensure to have it delivered before Christmas.

In order for the "piece" to become completely alive and real, I need to infuse it with pulsating beings. "They" cannot remain anonymous numbers from the Lancet.
I will revive them like the goold old American women do when they patchwork together.

I will take each single one of them and ask them to tell you their personal story. All the way to their Ancestors. Her birth place, his wishes, her struggles, his beliefs, her pain, his suffering, her victories, his hopes , their families, those left behind, their friends ...
I will also ask them to tell you how they died, what they felt when they did, their last thought , their last sentence, their unspoken word...
They will tell you tales. Each part carefully crafted , delicately sewn onto another. Ad infinitum...

And the survivors : the paralyzed, the downtrodden, the sick, the abandoned,the amputated, the maimed, the raped, the humiliated, the tortured, the grief stricken, the strugglers - the silent majority with no voice- they are the Thread that stitch the living to the dead.

And we are all gathered here right now , needle working , weaving patterns, sewing this beauty for you.
One by one, taking turns, approaching it so delicately, like an artistic composition , like a melody.

We don't want it to be macabre or morbid, so we are coloring it with a thousand colors. Greater than a rainbow. Greater than Death.
And now that it is completed , we offer it to you in "gratitude".
You can cover yourselves with it and keep warm.
All hand made in good old Iraq.
In Memoriam.

Merry Christmas.

Painting/Mural: Iraqi Artist, Dr.Hashim Al Tawil

December 19, 2006

Defiant , I stand.

I am sick and tired of listening to Iraqis whine about "their " failed government. Whine about how they have been duped by fake elections and false hopes, cursing the hour they agreed know what !
I am sick and tired of the crocodile tears and the "oh those poor Iraqis,who can blame them" line.
I am sick and tired of - let's atone in public , now that we know the truth- tirade.
Liars and Deceivers.
You knew the Truth all along .
The Truth was out there right in front of your very eyes whilst you were sitting in Baghdad, Teheran, some dump in the U.S , Amman, London or God knows where else.
The Truth was on every single lamp post in Baghdad . The Truth was in Firdaus Square, the Truth was marked in bright red colors on American tanks when they rolled into your "darling "city for which you whimper now.

I noticed you have stopped parroting the "Saddam this, Saddam that" broken record. A little "démodé " perhaps ? Or have the 1000 times worse horrors finally caught up with a member of your loved ones ?

It seems you regret having voted - how very noble of you . I will give you a prize for that. A medal for your "unwavering" patriotism .
But vote, you did . You voted when your country was and still is ILLEGALLY occupied by the most ruthless power in the World.
You still went ahead and cast your name in some dusty ballot box and shouted Halleluja to your so called democracy.
Some of you even composed an Iraqi Version of " We shall overcome." But you changed the tense and renamed it : "We have overcome."
You called it the "New Iraq" song. And you sang and you danced to the tune.
You were almost drunk with joy. And so proud of your victory against so called "tyranny" only to have the most brutal tyrants rule over you now .
You argued, you were finally liberated because "they" allowed you a cell phone, a satellite dish and the choice of a 100 worthless newspapers . You thought , this is it , you "finally" got it right this time.
You jumped and applauded like a bunch of monkeys , ecstatic at the sight of someone throwing a couple of crumbs your way .
And now, you sit and lament and wait for more "pity" crumbs to be thrown your way and hopefully some other "benevolent hand" to come and rescue you from your self inflicted misery. A misery you brought not only onto yourselves but onto all of your people, a people you supposedly care for, so much.
Yes you did vote indeed and exercised your "democratic rights" under the vigilant eye of your occupier and his henchmen. What derision !

I tell you : You sold your country along with the Green Zone hookers. You are a partner in crime and nothing will absolve you. You are as responsible as the perfidious thugs you voted for.
Hypocrites , this what you are. A bunch of profiteering, opportunistic hypocrites.
You kept moaning about Saddam Hussein. " He is a dic-ta-tor " you would cry in front of your Western friends and amongst your "clan". When, in fact,you had your own petty little agendas safely tucked away.
And now just look at the results . Now you have a 1000 "dic-ta-tors" shedding your blood "left right and center." Slaughtering you and your "New Iraq" like sheep.

Don't expect me to have sympathy for you, I have none whatsoever. You voted, you bear IT .

The Battle for Freedom in Iraq is the Mother of all Battles .
As for you, shameless lot, you know who you are. Mother of all Shame.

Painting : Iraqi Female Artist , Betool Fekeiki

December 17, 2006

A letter to an American G.I.

When I watch pictures of your dead buddies on and I read some of your naive childlike poems, I feel sorry for you. I honestly do.
I feel sorry for you yet at the same time I feel anger.
It is a very confusing mix of ambivalent, contradictory emotions.
On the one hand,I would love to strike you and on the other hand I say to myself, it is not really your fault.
You chose it yet you did not choose it.
From your perspective you are only "executing orders" . Yet hard facts on the battle ground tell me that you also enjoy the humiliation you inflict on these "alien" "evil " people-the Iraqis.

Despite your own neediness and your being in "it" because "it" will give you a grant, a green card and maybe the famous passport with an embossed striped eagle , you still believe you are superior, a better race, a more advanced one, a purer one.

I see the pictures of your dead buddies and I think of their mothers and fathers and the bitterness and grief they may feel. You all look so young and in many ways so innocent.

Yet when I see you kicking young Iraqis around and beating them to death, when I see you raping little girls and burning them, when I see you making Iraqi children run miles after a plastic bottle of water or when you teach those poor little souls to say "Fuck you Iraq", just for the fun of it - I can't but have hate for you .
(I will not even mention the torture, nor the pillaging - you know all of that already)

When I see you urinating in and on sacred places and when I see you writing your degenerate graffitis on 7'000 years old archeological sites, with absolutely no respect or regard for other people's Faith, Culture and History- I can't but have contempt for you.

When I hear innombrable stories like this one : When you stripped naked my friend- a woman with more qualifications than the whole of your army put together, 45 years old , old enough to be your own mother. You said you wanted to make sure she is not "hiding something down there" in her undies. Remember that one ? You did that in front of 30 of your male buddies in your "special" camp. Then you offered her a coke so she can relax and"chill out".
She would not tell me the rest of the story, she said: "Let sleeping dogs lie".
I want you to know that she left Iraq and everything she owned after that incident because of you. She said to me: "I do not want to take anything with me, not even another pair of underwear. Let them have it all." This is how much you disgusted her with your acts.
Yes , when I hear yet another story like this one -I can't but despise you.

I admit, at times, I have empathy for you and for the life you left behind- a life you may never return to.

And sometimes I sit and wonder if you realize the amount of pain and suffering you are inflicting on an innocent people who have done NOTHING to you.
Do you actually realize the enormity and severity of your actions? Do you realize how many deep wounds and scars that may never heal, you are leaving behind you ?

And sometimes, I sit and wonder what happens when you go to sleep at night. Can you sleep in peace? Can you close your eyes with a clean conscience ?

And sometimes, I sit and wonder when you finish your round of harassing and killing Iraqis and you deliberately leave them bloated by Death on the streets for days on end - can you still fool yourself and pretend to send "Love" letters to your family, wife or girlfriend?

I have a lot more to say to you but I feel I have said enough. After all , I am not supposed to be engaging you.

But before I end this letter and go back to my daily angst of "living" under your occupation, I want you to know that somewhere deep down, I do care about your sorry little ass.
I care enough not because I like you or enjoy your presence -far from it- but simply because of the mere fact that we happen to belong to the same "race". The human one . And I still have a little faith left on that "front".
I care enough to want you to save your own Self , that Self that will undoubtedly come back to haunt you one of those days. And by doing so , you are also saving your own Life.
You owe it to "yourself" and you can do it with one simple word : REFUSE.
Just do it , do it NOW, do it before it's too late .

Painting : Iraqi Artist , Mohammed Al Shammarey.

December 15, 2006

New age Me and I'll New age You...

Another American Soap Opera .
James Bond and the Cowboys report. Oops , sorry meant the James Baker report which basically summarizes as follows : Change course and think of our long term oil interests.
Now the cowboy G.Bush stated only yesterday that :"The Enemy has not been defeated yet. "
Danger is still looming . How about another 5 million Iraqis dead , will that attenuate your fears? Not important, let's not get side tracked with details.
George.W.Bush says that he has a plan. A plan dictated by none other than God himself. (and yes politically correct feminists, in this instance it is definitely a HE, so lay off my back.)
I will relay to you what exactly happened.
G.W.Bush retreated into his holy grounds , kneeled down and prayed for guidance.
God himself manifested his glory to Bush and told him : "Son, your job ain't done yet, go get em' Georgie .The anti Christ six headed Beast is still lurking somewhere in Baby-lawn."
God usually manifests himself to George either as an oil barrel, a cowboy's rifle or as a carefully delineated map of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem with the precise location of where the "rapture " will take place prior to the second Coming.
( If you don't believe me ask Ted Haggard. He knows everything about raptures and second comings)
George's "Higher Power" ( A.A would have done a much better job,trust me on this one) is a blond blue eyed Higher Being from Arkansas or is it Texas ?
God continued: "Son, those ayrabs mooslims are no good, I got no convenant with them lot. It takes a man son, and you are my prodigal child, my chosen one."
Upon hearing those sentences , George redressed himself still all shook up by yet another divine revelation and proclaimed that he is staying on course , i.e business as usual in Eye Raq.
(Ok Eye Raqis go fetch some more wood for coffins. Heard you can get them at a discount price on Ebay.)

In the light of the above "developments" my friend Joanna, a European, sent me an email.
She has been reading my blog and is concerned about my "state".
She believes that I am zooming in on too much negativity and am not seeing the glass half full but am adamant to see it half empty. Little does she know that there is no "glass" left.
I know she means well and being spiritually evolved, she can afford to be detached somewhere out there in Europe.
Her explanation for the Iraqi Disaster is simple. She says it is all Karmic .
All the dead, maimed,tortured Iraqis are paying their dues for past sins from some other reincarnation.
I asked her if Othman , Omar and all the D.U babies also qualified ? She said "yes".
What about the raped girls like Abeer and the castrated men in Abu Ghraib?
An affirmative "yes" was her reply."We don't know what horrors they committed in their past lives, they might have been members of the Nazi Gestapo" she added.
Ok- now am relieved to know that .
She suggested I apply some "spirituality" to the whole thing .
I will follow her advice and this what I will ask of you :
Take a map, spot Iraq on it. Visualize it as a burning hell hole, kind of pitch black.
Now close your eyes and send positive vibrations to Her and her people.
Send beams of white light (please make sure it is not phosphorus)
Burn incense and let the fumes rise up and imagine them purifying the land of the Tigris.
Apply mental fragranced healing balms to the wounded and torn apart and chant your favorite mantra.
Stand in a circle and dance to the beat of cosmic drums and channel Sumerian spirits.
Meditate with a burning white candle and go Zen Iraq.
Reiki it. Shaman it. Trance it. Do your Holotropic breathing on it ... I don't long as you send some Love our way .
You can implore whichever Divinity you fancy. Allah, Elohim, God, Christ, Mother Nature and the four Elements, Buddha, Krishna, Shiva, Shakti , Cosmic Consciousness , your Higher Self ...absolutely anything. Just make sure it is not the blond blue eyed Dude from Texas.

You may ask yourself : Ok, what 's in it for me ?
To which I will reply : We have a mutual vested interest here .
You "pray" our way and Iraq is restored to wholeness and the pay off is : You will be rid of the delusional megalomaniac psychopath who is ruling your lives . It's dialectic or put in simple terms -The door swings both ways.
You New Age me , I'll New Age you. Get my drift now ?
So keep on praying will ya' ?

Painting : Iraqi Artist , Mohammed Sami

December 14, 2006

The Curse.

My good old friend Zaynab , a shi'a (just in case you wondered) rang me today.
She was hyper, frantic and on the verge of hysterics.
"Layla , stuff your political analysis . I don't care to hear it anymore . I am telling you, we Iraqis are jinxed. A curse has been placed upon us. We have been abandoned,we are a no good people. I am telling you, God is punishing us. We must be deserving it ..."

Now my knowledge of Psychology tells me that it is very common for the Predator to blame the Victim and very "normal" for the Victim to blame himself/herself . A classic way to find justification and rationality for what the mind can no longer comprehend or absorb.

My rational part, or what is left of it , wanted to brush Zaynab's outcry away. But deep down, I must confess, a part of me shares her belief . Not only me but countless other Iraqis I have spoken to and met , from all creeds , echo Zaynab.

Who can blame us ? What ordinary Iraqis witness and live on a daily basis is beyond comprehension. Nothing can explain it.
No international politics, no oil theory, no geo strategy, no economic equation. Nothing.

To be frank, I can no longer recognize Iraqis. What has happened to us , what on earth is going on here ?
Where has this violence and brutality been stored all this time , in which secret hideout ?
Since when do Iraqis abduct women , rape them, mutilate their genitals and then kill them.
Since when do they drill holes in skulls and pluck eyes out from their sockets? Since when do they massacre innocent labourers in search of their daily bread? Since when do they blow up children in market places or immolate people in prayers to be charred alive, since when are worship places set on fire? And many more heinous acts .... Since when ?
Yes I no longer recognize this place.What is this telluric hideous ugliness painted on the walls of this city?
What is this vicious cruelty that erupts from the belly of the earth and spreads like a tumor in every street and in every neighborhood? What is becoming of us ?
Maybe Zaynab is right .
Maybe this is our curse . A first Gulf War waged by Neolithic Barbarians that knocked Iraqis down , followed by 12 years of sanctions that killed millions , followed by yet another War of "shock and awe" that took back the country to the Stone age era, followed by a ruthless occupation that has stripped thousands of their basic human dignity and killed thousands in the process. Finally allowing evil, monstrous, thuggish cronies to rule whilst these Cavemen actively engage and guide from a distance.
Bestiality is indeed contagious.
Yes this is definitely our curse but how long will this curse go on ?And more importantly who cast this evil spell ?
A displeased Deity , an angry Sumerian Goddess, a malevolent Genie , a blood sucking Vampire or Lucifer himself ?
I don't know who this being is . But I tell you one thing . I am willing to go to any length to remove this curse.
I am willing: to learn Old Shakespearian English , decrypt ancient Hebraic texts, delve into Farsee phonetics and am even willing to be born again and speak in Tongues .
Anything that will stop this carnage , absolutely anything that will end this Genocide .

Painting : Iraqi Artist Salman Shalhoob

News Flash News Flash News Flash News...

Yesterday I let you in on my call to Radhee. Radhee calls me back today. He reports that:

- Abu Saleem's son , Othman, 13 and half years old was kidnapped by the Iranian backed Death Squads whilst he went to buy some candies from the grocery shop.
His kidnappers asked for a ransom of 20'000 USD . Abu Saleem is a poor man , out of work for nearly a year now. He told them all his belongings did not amount to this sum.
He received another call later on during the day. The kidnappers have bargained down the price-10'000 USD or else...
Abu Saleem tried to negotiate with them . He offered that they take his house and all his belongings, he just wants his son alive. Later on in the evening, he received yet another call: "You son is dead , his body can be found in Kerbala."
Othman's mother wanted her son's body at any cost so he can have a proper burial .
As it is too dangerous for this sunni family to go to Kerbala , a relative of the family , a shi'a, offered his help.
A coffin was arranged and Othman's mother was to lay in it , pretending to be a dead corpse so they may reach Kerbala through checkpoints unharmed. A scene fit for a Louis Bunuel Film.
They arrived in Kerbala and after tedious haggling , they managed to retrieve the poor little boy's body and took him back to the local cemetery.
13 years old Othman died from several shots between the legs and his skull was cracked open in half by a sledge hammer. Peace to you my little boy.

- Seven members of the extended family were driven out of the Salman Pak area by US occupation forces with the cooperation of Iranian backed Death squads.
They sought refuge in another location in Iraq.

- On another note , 20 palestinians who have been driven out of their homes in Baghdad and found themselves in tents (again!), have been shot dead by the Iranian backed Death Squads.

- "The occupation is not the problem , it is the Saddamists and the Al Qaeda", says ....Bush , no not Bush , but Hadi Al Ameri , an Iranian, sorry meant an Iraqi member of Parliament, responsible for "Security Matters".

By the way , I told Radhee that I mentioned him on this blog . He says Merry Xmas to all of you and tells you not to believe the stuff you read , hear or see on the news . He textually said :
"Tell them , it is much much .....worse ."

December 12, 2006

Lucky You !

We have a ritual that we share on a daily basis.
It is an unspoken agreement.
No matter what the distances are , whether we are next door to each other or miles away , we call each other daily just to "check".
This ritual helps us preserve whatever familial and social fabric we may have salvaged , a protective wall from the total disintegration around us.
Today was my turn to call.
Radhee was on the other end of the line .
We have skipped asking the usual "How are you".
The sentences are short and usually start with "Is everything ok? Am just checking".
Radhee spoke very fast and went into a litany of all the woes around him .
Auntie Salma cannot make it to the doctor , it's too dangerous .
Uncle Wassem has run out of medication and it is nowhere to be found . Trying to cross the city to another district to find it, is too dangerous.
Cousin Reema , a widow, has not been getting any of her husband's pension, she needs to go and search for a job, but what's the point, there are none and in any case it's too dangerous.
Abu Saleem, a father of 4, has been out of work for nearly a year now and can no longer feed his kids. He is in total despair and proposing his services to anyone is out of the question, it's too dangerous .
Radhee himself dares not go shopping for food in the neighborhood, it's too dangerous.
His son Bassel, a brilliant surgeon stopped showing up at the hospital, it's too dangerous.
Abu Issam and his wife and their kids left the country because everything is getting too dangerous .
And the list goes on ...
Once we finish checking on the family network or what is left of it ,we start with the neighbors, friends and acquaintances circle.
And it usually goes this way : " Do you remember so and so , well he is kidnapped, and remember X , they abducted him and Y , he disappeared and Z, he was tortured to death..."
Once we are done with this round , we move to war zone reporting.
"Three mortars here , a car bomb there , loud explosions in the vicinity, bullets across the street checkpoints here and checkpoints there ..." and it goes on .
Radhee paused for a minute or so , took a deep breath and said : " By the way , I forgot to mention that Uncle Kamal died ".
"How, when, who killed him, was he tortured, was he imprisoned, who found him, where, was he dumped ? A street, a prison, the morgue ?...
I bombarbed him with questions .
"No , no , he died a natural Death." Natural Death in today's Iraqi lingo means: old age, an illness, lack of medication or medical care , that kind of stuff.
I sighed with relief so did Radhee .
"Praise to God , may he rest in Peace", we both uttered at the same time.
And Radhee concluded by saying:
"He is lucky, now he can rest . What about us left behind, when will we find rest ?"

Sleeping, if one can sleep that is and waking up if one is "lucky", with dread and anxiety,24 hours a day, 7 days a week, day in and day out, non stop, no respite.
No this is no General Anxiety Disorder that a couple of Prozacs can cure . No amount of anything can cure that- short of a total Peace . A total Peace that only dead Iraqis know.

Yes Ladies and Gentlemen , the "living" or more aptly the "surviving" Iraqis envy the Dead .
Some, miles away cherish Life and hold on to it and some wish its clement ending.
A crazy paradox ? I don't know.
All I know is from whichever way one looks at it- It's lucky You.

Painting : Iraqi Artist Ismail Fattah.

December 9, 2006

An Eye for an Eye ...

Now that "Eye Raq" is a bloody mess , a stinkhole of anonymous cadavers, The Geniuses in the White House are calling on "Eye Ran " to help them fix it .
So Mr. "Death Squad" also known as Al Hakim,dusted off his robe , re-arranged his turban and pumped himself up like a peacock to be received in private by none other than the President of the USA.
Some of those on the "Left" acclaimed another victory for the "Anti Imperialist forces" so bravely at work in Iraq. In their limited understanding of political power plays, "EyeRan" aka Persia is viewed as the Savior from the grips of ugly Imperialism and its racist bed partner Zionism.
How can people be so politically naive is beyond me .
Do they really think that when the Zionists in D.C - who also happen to be "advisors" for Israel - did not figure it out that :
- "EyeRan" has been arming and funding rebellious Shi'a groups since the 1980's
- That by the time the Americans arrived in "EyeRaq" , those "Eyeranian" backed Shia groups will be more than pleased .
- That delegations of "respectable Eyeraqi" opposition like Chalabi, Makiya, Allawi, Hakim, Jaafari ... (and the list of sectarian traitors is way too long ) landed in Washington DC to finalize their "Liberation" program.
- That when the Americans decided to divide "EyeRaq" along ethnic lines - a mish mash of warped definitions since : Kurds are a majority Sunnis, Shia's and Sunnis belong to the same Religion and that ethnicity is not defined by religious adherence - they were actually fomenting and aiming at the current sectarianism that is taking place today ?!?
And did anyone think of the Chaldeans , the Assyrians or the rest ...?

And when Bush and the Great Cyrus of Persia affirm that the current "EyeRaqi" goverment is a democratically elected one even though the country is under occupation and mayhem, this leads me to question , and question big .

So Al Hakim and his goons from "EyeRan" are only the natural logical conclusion for the American Zionist plan . Let me rephrase it , they are the natural extended arm of America's "Operation Freedom".

"EyeRan " is most pleased with the fruits of its labor , it will be getting a good chunk of the war spoils . Khomeini's dream has finally come true .
The "Liberation of Jerusalem " will take place through Nejef and Kerbala , he said .
Except that the great Ayatollah forgot to mention that his Jerusalem was nothing but Baghdad and not an inch beyond .
And I don't care about the current political rhetoric coming from Teheran vis a vis the Palestinian cause, when I know that Palestinians in "EyeRaq" are being finished off by the very same proponents for Palestinian rights.

Let the " Anti Imperialists" rejoice at the victory of the "Eyeranian"sectarian Mullahs now, whilst the "Eyeraqis" are being quietly eliminated at the rate of 400 a day with the blessings of the not so great U.S of A.

Abraham was from Kufa after all , and Abraham is back , except this time , it is the Eyeraqis who are on the "Biblical" Altar waiting for their execution . In fact the "Eyeraqis" have become the sacrificial lamb of the Old Testament .
Israel is blessing this celestial gift of yet another golden calf . (If you don't believe me , ask the valiant Kurdish Peshmergas) . And the EyeRanians (Persians) are most pleased with Mani their ever living prophet of Manicheanism , or was it Machiavelli ?

An Eye for an Eye and the World has definitely gone blind .
And Mesopotamia stands alone naked with nothing but a robe made of blood .

Painting : Iraqi Female Artist , Nadia Mohammed Yass.

December 7, 2006

The Uncensored Anger Manifesto - Part II

Warning : This sequel to Part I may contain strong language that may offend some of the readers . To those, I say: Skip it.

To whom it may Concern

So, you are stuck in a quagmire huh?
No shit Sherlock . What did you expect then ?
Did you expect a cake walk or did you think you will be tanning your ass in Baghdad like you do when you go on your yearly Caribbean vacation?

Yeah I know, you managed to have a little fun raping "Eye Raqis " from little girls, to boys , to women and men .
And I also know that a good deal of you managed to pocket a few hefty bundles of dollars .
Some through dubious contracts and some through sheer theft . Stealing the palaces , the houses and even the huts . Don't ever think anything goes unreported.
Or maybe you thought that you can walk into our holy places with your filthy boots, spit and piss on our holy book and kill our preachers and worshippers when in prostration at dawn and we will just stand there and turn the other cheek?
Or maybe you thought we will give you candies and roses or better still make a statue in your honor , a statue dedicated to Freedom and Democracy?
Tell you what , I will show you my gratitude . I want to offer you a statue , a homage for your valiant acts. I want to edify it in your name and in the name of your founding fathers , and in the name of your Mafia ancestors . Yes I will dedicate this work to you . It will be made of skulls and bones , painted in blood and feces.
Yes you read me right . The skulls and bones that you left in every single street you visited , the blood of innocents that you spilled and the feces in which you drowned the faces of your "detainees". And I will crown that beautiful statue of your acts with the genitals you hacked off . Remember those ? I do .
It will be an art work of phallic proportions dedicated to your virility and courage. A farewell token.

You don't like this language ? I will try another.

I will not be like this poor illiterate peasant who screams when he sees his family killed by one of your smart missiles and his tiny house destroyed :
"I don't want democracy , I want to live , your democracy is killing me".
No I will not do that. I will be civilized , I promise you .
I will be the nice "Ayrab" girl now . I will bow down to you and be very graceful. I will even put on my best show of tears and touch your heart with my pleas , so you can finally feel safe to look at me or hear me .
You like it when am so servile don't you ?
I will wear my best pair of satin gloves and use your other dialect. The dialect of the oppressed begging. This will make you feel like the Master and I know, you just love that high. The high of your grandiose arrogance .
I will say to you : Please understand , we are a backward "12th century tribal people"*, who are not used to democracy.
"We don't dig it"* . We are a tribal insane religious lot that thrives on "blowing themselves up". Your presence is just exacerbating this horrible trait in us . "We don't understand ballot boxes and votes , these are disgusting words"* for us and as a woman I can't even address you but behind a veil because gender equality is not something I am used to . Please leave us in our backwardness and pack your bags and go .

Does this ring better for you ? No ? Ok . Let me use a simplified version .

If neither dialect is comprehensible to you :The dialect of violence which you are so proficient at nor the Dialect of slavery that you just relish , then let me use plain English maybe you will finally understand :

Fuck off - Right back to where you came from.

* Sentences heard on Mike Malloy Radio Show to "sensitize" the American Public /5.12.06
** Painting : By Iraqi Artist, Rafa Nasiri.

December 5, 2006

Paralytic Apocalypse.

I have been feeling numb lately.
I get phone calls, I hear the news, I watch pictures,I read articles and I remain unmoved.
Visitors pass by and recount to me horror stories and I just stare at them . I nod and blink my eyes but when I open my mouth to speak , the words are stuck somewhere deep in my throat.
I am past being shocked anymore. I have resigned myself to this state of paralysis.
Ghost cities like Baghdad with its pools of blood dont affect me .Raped little girls are part of my daily scenery.An unknown limb lying in the street is not even an object of curiosity. Smashed jaws, teeth, eyes, nails pulled out are nothing but sentences for me, anonymous black and white images .
Barren towns, abandoned children, families executed, hospitals raided , lethal injections given to those belonging to the wrong sect are routine . And routine gets deadly boring . A habit forming addiction.
Rampant drugs , prostitution, pimps and killers from the underworld have resurfaced from the wombs of this city and I watch it all like a horror film. So detached, so close , so far away.
The palm tree has faded into a dirty brown,the dates have turned to stones,the earth is scorched smoky black and the water has turned into a crimson red.
This desolation leaves me anesthetized . My fingers are paralyzed , my thoughts rigidified at point zero, my feelings frozen . I am a robot now . A product of this apocalyptic nihilism. I go through the regular motions only to retreat into my autistic world and stare into the void of destruction.
Yes I am in this mode now . A Frankenstein, zombie like mode .
And during the rare moments when I feel I still belong to something remotely human again, in those instances of lucidity, I may catch a tear or two frozen on my cheek. I wipe them quickly away lest the machine that I have become rusts and no longer functions.
And in those moments with my plastified smile fixed to my face like a scar, in those small moments when something alive nudges me and I dare to look at it , I see that :
Hope has become an oxymoron, fear a good companion, anger deep down in a well, and torrents of grief abundant enough to wash the bloody streets of Baghdad.

Painting : Iraqi Artist Rafa Nasiri.

December 3, 2006

Lebanese Flagomania.

I am not sure the word "Flagomania" exists in the English language.
Oh well, I just invented it .
I could not find any other accurate terminology that would best describe the new Lebanese fervor for Flags.
On the right and on the left and along the whole of the political spectrum, the flag is waving.
On every single house, window, shop, office, car - it is waving.
Some chant with it , some sleep with it , other use it as a bed cover, some wrap themselves in it,others dance with it, some tuck it in , some flaunt it, some claim it to be theirs, others use it a sword and some trade in it ...
So amidst all this flagomania , who is who is hard to say.
I know, I know, you don't need to repeat it to me . There are the ones who are anti and the ones who are pro. I wish these lines were so clear cut to me as they are to you.
I already experienced both and we are still at the very beginning.
It seems almost taboo these days to assert that as a woman , I don't want male clerics dictate to me how to dress , what to watch on TV and what takes place in my bed .This is not happening yet, but I see the shadow looming on the horizon.
And it is also as taboo to assert that, as a woman I don't want the dictates from the United States, France and Israel run my life .
The antis are already calling women who don't want an eventual hard line Iranian mullah rule "whores".
The pros on the other hand call the women who would like autonomy from Western rule "backward sluts".

So if in either case we are considered whores and sluts, might as well do what I damn well please.

In the end , women are going to pay the price for this "upsurge for Independence " as usual. Why search far, just have a look at the "feminine" condition in Iraq or what is left of it .
Besides which, Independence from whom exactly , no one can tell for a fact. Independence from America, Israel, France, Syria , Iran ...? Your guess is as good as mine.

I think I have said enough for today, better sign off fast before either mob lynches me .

Painting : Lebanese Artist , Joseph Matar " Upsurge for Independence".

December 2, 2006

Stand in line and place your Bets.

I was told today that the figure for the number of dead in Iraq is a 40% increase on last month.
Who wants to bid more ?
Imagine you are in an auction , and don't get all politically correct with me now (it did not help much in the past). Imagine you are at Sothebys or Christies and the bald guy on a commission is shouting:
" Last bid , 1 ,2, 3, who says more ? ".
You don't like this one , it's too morbid for you ?Let me give you another one .
Imagine yourself in a casino , you are gambling . Roulette, Black Jack and Slot Machines . How much do you want to bet that this figure will increase next month. Jackpot?
You don't like this one either ? Never mind then, let me put it to you crudely now .
Queue up and wait for your turn and place your bets .
We have two sorts of body bags . White or Black , which do you prefer?
We may run out of those plastics soon , so you may have to do without them. I hope you don't mind the feel of mud on your skin . If you promise to be nice, we may find a piece of something to wrap you in . Possibly a worn out blanket , but we can't guarantee anything.
Coffins are out of fashion, besides we don't have the wood .
Just opt for the most ecological way . Ashes to Ashes , dust to dust . Let mother earth do its job.
If you are claustrophobic , we can throw you in deep waters . Maybe a fisherman will find you maybe not . Want to bet ?
If you are religious , you might get a quick religious rite guaranteeing your way straight up to heaven .
But then I cannot vouch for it .
If the odds are in your favor , then you might get away with a few limbs torn away .
But again, don't count on rehabilitation .
If you are chronically ill, take my advice stay away . You are already considered dead . We have no time for lukewarm gamblers.
We mean business here , serious business. No faint of heart should engage.
It takes guts . Win or lose all . There is no middle path . And the stakes are high.
Your turn now . How much more , How many more ?
Are you ready to bid ? One time , two times, three times ... It's all your's now.
Are you ready to place your bets ? One , two, three... Congratulations, you have won !

Painting : Iraqi Artist Shahin Ali Dahir .

November 30, 2006

Till Death do us part...

Do you fancy reading about a heart warming sentimental love story?
Come on , am sure you do .
Amidst all this turmoil we live in I am sure you are eager to listen to a romantic saga that will take your mind off world misery.
Ok, I will recount it to you only if you promise to read till the very end . I assure you it is a"happy ever after" tale .

Let me start by saying that the couple I have in mind has been cohabiting for over 30 years now .

I am sure you are curious to know what is their recipe for such a successful partnership, seeing that the divorce rate is soaring and that couples no longer stick to their marriage vows.

The first thing one notices about this couple is their very strong physical attraction to one another. They seem to fancy each other to the point of chemical fusion . They are great passionate bed partners so it seems .

They also share similar ideological interests to the extent that they have become siamese twins and no, they never get bored by this mutual intense affinity to one another . They actually love to spend quality time together, always .

They also have common hobbies . One major pass time of theirs is adventure . They simply adore expanding their horizons , exploring new territories and they even set up houses in a few of those distant lands they reached. They are intrigued by the exotic.
It just spices up their lives ...

And like any working couple, they share a joint bank account . Each one ensures that the other does not lack in anything . Naturally the husband is always there just in case his beloved wife goes a little overboard . But she compensates for him by preserving and keeping an eye on his stocks, bonds and securities . This is what caring love is all about .

In fact this couple is so close they even developed the same taste in colors . If Madam wears very light pink, so does he . If she decides to wear blue , he does too .
A little odd thing about them though , is that their colors come only in two shades .
They hardly wear red , this they leave when they go on their adventures , and it's usually crimson red. White is only used to shroud the dead and black only at funerals and God forbid that death approaches either one of them.

They also have similar taste in music. Their preference goes for drums. No, don't get me wrong , it has nothing to do with war drums . They just love the sound and the beat, that's all. And they are clever dancers too . They never miss a step , always harmoniously leading one another .

Their undying loyalty to each other has made them a world wide celebrity. You see their names on every book cover, magazine and newspaper . They even made it on TV and Hollywood is writing a script about them. This is understandable . It is rare to find such commitment nowadays .They 're in for the long haul . A remarkable couple indeed .

But like every couple they have their down moments.
You know , how some women can whine, nag and throw terrible temper tantrums . And at times play the victim . Well, Madam has mastered this art to perfection .
But rest assured , He is a true gentleman, he will not let her go to sleep angry without fulfilling her every whim and desire. So their conflicts are very short lived and hardly worth mentioning .

Having an active love life , they also produced lots of children who grew up to be very influential people . Some, later on, became statemen , others "high calibre" politicians, numerous heads of corporations and even a few "brilliant" academics. You do understand that the progeny has to continue in the parents footsteps.

I also forgot to mention that this wonderful couple had their engagement party in England out of all places . It was a huge event . A real gala . Royalty and heads of state attended . Everyone was very pleased ,they blessed the union and wished the newly wed a very successful future.

Do you want to know who this couple is or have you guessed it by now ?
Just in case , I missed out on some detail of their intimate life , I will give you their full name. Do send them your congratulations on their next wedding anniversary and address it to: Mr & Mrs. Americrael. For they are an example of a perfect match....a match made in Hell.

Painting : Iraqi Artist Jaber Alwan "Men & Women" series.

November 28, 2006

The uncensored Anger Manifesto - Part I

I cannot sleep . My seething anger keeps my eyes wide open .
But you are sleeping safely in your home , holding your partner or your child and you know in all probability that you will awake tomorrow. And tomorrow , you will open your eyes, step into your bathroom and you will find running water . You will fix yourself a coffee and you will find electricity, you will open your kitchen cupboard and you will find food .
Then you will get dressed , and you have clothes for winter and if you catch the flu , you can always call up your doctor or run to a hospital . Hey, you can even take flowers to your beloved ones if they happen to fall ill ,or just check to make sure that the surgery of Uncle Tom was successful . Oh yes, you can afford to do so.
Then you will get into your car, drive merrily or maybe not so merrily to your work place , or go shopping worrying about what to cook for your sweet family, or meet with your friends for a morning cup and rant neurotically about how miserable your life is .
Your day is probably filled with things to do . Most likely you have a job and you know you have an income at the end of the month. And you can give yourself the luxury of planning for your future.
You plan everything don't you? What you will be getting for your kids at Christmas, how many parties you have booked on your agenda , your next vacation trip, your one year plan, your five year plan , when your goverment will be invading another country. You are in fact a great planner.
If you have kids , then you know they are getting an education . You can buy them pads, pencils, drawing books , toys and even take them for a stroll in a park free from Depleted Uranium and you can fly kites and raise your eyes to the sky and not see fire jets hovering above your little head . You can do that. I know you can.
And if you are walking about , you know that no bomb or bullet is going to blow you or blow your loved ones away. You will neither be kidnapped nor abducted never to be seen again.
You feel queasy at the sight of blood . Yes I know that. Even the blood you watch on your TV screen when you get back home safely in the evenings is censored so as not to disturb your sensitivities. You don't see limbs , bowels, and brains blown away, you are really cared for and so protected . And if per chance you come across such scenes, you conveniently zap or ask your kids to run upstairs. You don't want them traumatized . Yes violence is bad for you .
It disturbs your peace of mind . I really sympathize.
And when Saturday or Sunday comes , you go to your worship place , and praise the Lord for being born in the greatest country ever . Yes I know you enjoy your rights and freedoms.
During weekends , you can take time for your leisure, tend your garden , go to a gym, invite your friends, barbecue, go dancing , party. You can have fun . But of course, it is natural, it is written in your constitution "the pursuit of happiness" is just for you, and only for you. I don't need to remind you . You already know it by heart.
And when you are with your friends you can be so very interesting . You can tell them how fucked up the world is , how people can't get along . You will point your finger in our direction and hold us as an example . Oh yes, you know so much . Your press told you all about it.
And when you are done with all of the above , you will go back to sleep in your cozy bed , switch the lights off and snore in total oblivion. All the way to that state you are so familiar with, all the way back into your usual comatose indifferent self .

And we are still here,counting the minutes, the seconds and hoping we will taste life again. A life we had before you and your ilk took it all away.

Painting : Iraqi Artist Rafa Nasiri.

November 26, 2006

Excuse me Sir, how would you like your Torture ?

The other day a group of us were gathered discussing the fate of Omar.

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts,Omar,18 yo, was torn out from his bed at dawn and abducted .He has disappeared ever since.
The last thing we heard is that he was "transferred" from the Death squads custody to that of the Americans. Why and how this "transfer"took place , no one knows. We don't even know the reasons behind his kidnapping to start with.I will let you figure it out if you can.
In fact am not sure anyone really knows where Omar is right now .

So seated around a table , sipping tea were : Aunt Kareema (a sunni), Uncle Jassem (a shia), Abu Sami (a christian), a few others and myself.
Of course we were all concerned about Omar and what is possibly happening to him .
Aunt Kareema believes he is better off with the Americans ."At least they will not drill a hole in his head or pluck his eyes out " she says.
Uncle Jassem does not agree. "Do you think having your nails plucked out and your genitals electrocuted is any better ?" He retorts.
"Well, maybe he will come back alive if it is only nails and electrocution" Aunt Kareema replies.
"What if they break his back and he is paralyzed for ever, like they did to others, remember X , he is a vegetable now " adds Abu Sami.
"Yes true , what if he is forever paralyzed and electrocuted , that would be his end" says Uncle Jassem
"True , and if he gets raped on top of it " sighs Aunt Kareema.

And so the "debate" on the different types of torture continued...
No one could reach an agreement , but we all agreed on one thing though -If Omar is in pain and is suffering whilst in custody - we all pray for his prompt death.

This is what we have become reduced to in this surreal episode of our lives .
Comparing different methods of torture and hoping for the most merciful one and if that fails then wishing for a Compassionate death to quickly take over.

We concluded our gathering with a prayer, the only thing we are capable of right now .

*All names are fictitious just in case you wondered.
**Painting : Iraqi Artist Mohamed Sami.

A Beatle's Ballad to the Troops

Am too sick today to write much. But I can still sing and am singing a song for you ,Troops .
My special dedication for today is the Beatle's song :"Get Back".
If you don't remember the lyrics , let us hum them together now .
So it goes...
"Get back , get back , get back to where
you onced belonged
Get back Jo Jo. Get back Joe.

I don't care in which accent you sing it : American , English, Israeli, Persian . Just sing it !

Picture: courtesy of

November 25, 2006

Resist, persist , and you don't even have to sign.

What is resistance ?
Resistance is not only about taking up arms. Bless those who have the guts to do so. Pray for them.They are the pure from amongst us. Putting their lives on the front line , risking it all, losing it all sometimes. Yes bless them because only a few have what it takes.
But there are also other forms of resistance. And trust me you don't need to sign your name either. It is all recorded , your name ,address and date of birth . All you need to do is join us .
Join us in spirit, join us in soul, join us with your words, with your letters, with your cries , with your exclamations, ,with your tears, with your sighs ...
It does not matter , just join us . You give us strength even if you don't know it . It is all recorded . It is recorded in Iraq, Palestine, Afghanistan, Lebanon . We forget no one . We are the spears and the arrows and you are the archers.

Painting : By Iraqi Artist Mohammed al Shammarei

Millimeters away.

So many dead today in my Beloved Baghdad. I decided to light a candle for all those who went to the other side . I placed the candle on my window panel. The flame looked ever so peaceful , surrounded by plants and my bright white curtains . For moments , everything looked perfect as it is . For seconds , I accepted it all .
I snugged complacently into that corner of nano seconds of Peace.
I moved to another room, hoping that I had paid my dues to today's dead.
I smelt a funny odor . Something is burning hard . I quickly rushed back only to see the candle burning at both ends consuming the wooden panels in fury.
For splits of seconds , I watched the fire rising up the window, burning bright , burning hot.
Purifying the dust around me , purifying the place like some incense on an altar.
In those splits of seconds , I saw the immolated bodies with kerosene in Baghdad, burnt alive.
Everything was moving so fast and the fire was reaching new heights.
I woke myself up from this transe . I tried gathering whatever wits I had left and got hold of a bottle of water and threw it on the burning wood , only to see the flames rising even higher.
I had to save my altar . Another bucket of water frantically thrown ,fumes are choking me now.
And whilst I was trying to extinguish the fire , I was screaming: "Oh God where are you now ?"
Then I noticed in an instant that the distance separating the ever growing flames from the bright white curtains was only One millimeter . That was the distance that saved me tonight. One millimeter.
So if any of you ask where God is - look for Him , Her , It- in that One millimeter of your life that has been spared.
I extinguished the fire .My white curtains have turned dark grey, I am choking with the smoke of burnt wood ...
My beloved Baghdad , how many more candles do you need ?

Painting : By Iraqi Female Artist Sua'ad Al Attar.

Stuck at a Red Light.

Today I was stuck in a traffic jam that seemed to last an eternity. The lights kept changing colors from Red to Green, Green to Red and I was still stuck, immobilized , unable to move forward .
My radio was blasting a song by Elham Al Madfai* , a song entitled Khuttar (meaning Visitor in Arabic). And whilst I was patiently waiting for the red light to switch off and the green light to switch on, my mind wandered...
I saw the Red Zone and the Green Zone in Baghdad.
The red zone was very red. As red as the sun that sets on the Tigris. Red as blood, red as fire.
The green zone was as green as the palm trees that embrace the river, as green as spring.
The red zone is filled with limbs , scorching heat, immolated bodies with Iraqi kerosene (oil).
The green zone has healthy men and women walking about, playing bowling and billiard.
The red zone is screaming with burns,pain and anguish
The green zone is playing disco music and drinking beer and whiskey.
The red zone is bursting into flames , its markets reduced to ashes, its women pulling out their hair.
The green zone is where secret love affairs flourish, where three meals a day are served and where electricity is available.
The red zone has demolished houses, mosques and targeted churches.
The green zone with its palaces is bathing in blessings handed out by the American parish priest.
The red zone is burning in flames
The green zone is barricaded behind high fences, striking more business deals.
Red Zone, Green Zone, Red light, Green Light, the traffic seems endless.
I have to move now, someone is honking .

* Elham Al Madfai is an Iraqi singer.
** Painting is by the Iraqi Female Artist : Betool Fekeiki.

November 23, 2006

Happy ThanksGiving .

I don't know what ThanksGiving is . It is not part of my culture , and I don't remember Christians in the Middle East celebrating it . So I asked around. I was told ThanksGiving is a special day at the end of a Harvest , where people gather and give thanks for their yearly blessings. A typical North American custom so to speak .
Allow me to give thanks too :
People of the USA , you and your government and your institutions and your military and your oil corporations Thank You for giving us a wonderful Thanksgiving banquet.
On the menu
1 million extra in Exodus bringing up the total to 2 Million

Main course
3'790 fresh corpses straight from the October Morgue , no stale meat here .

3'000 Widows in season , per month plus thousands of caramelized orphans.

Tons of Blood barrels , as much as you can drink, courtesy of the House.

The people of Iraq wish you a very Happy ThanksGiving Day.

Painting : Iraqi Artist Shayban Ahmad

November 22, 2006

Let's Waltz shall We ?

Have you ever listened to Chostakovitch Waltz no.2?
This is what I suggest to you . Get it or listen to your favorite piece of anything else.
Now close your eyes and let me invite you to a beautiful Waltz.
Imagine a hundred souls dressed in white hovering above you .
Imagine them pacing, stepping, twirling, whirling.
Imagine them smiling , bowing gracefully to one another .
Imagine them holding hands and making circles over your poor little head.
Imagine them haloed by a thousand golden lights.
Imagine a great wedding
Imagine a big feast,
Imagine endless banquets of fruits , food and wine flowing
Imagine silk garments and diamonds
Imagine all the dead from Iraq
inviting you to dance with them.
That's it . Take one step now .
A step to the left, a step to the right
Imagine all the dead from
Baghdad, Baquba , Ramadi, Falluja, Mosul, Amara, Anbar, Mahmoudiah, Nasseriah,Basra, Kirkuk, Hilla.......
Imagine them all dancing ,waltzing with you , around you .
Imagine them thanking you
Imagine them loving you
Imagine them embracing you
and Imagine them
nudging you to Wake up .
Let's Waltz shall We ?

Painting : by Iraqi Artist Jaber Alwan "Dance series"

November 21, 2006

To an Iraqi Cowgirl .

Lamia was a beautiful looking Iraqi from Basra . She had long jet black hair , a smooth olive complexion, almond eyes and the charm of Shatt Al Arab, a lovely Basrawee accent and a great smile. She was also an amazing dancer . I remember when we fist met at some friend's house, she danced the Hacha'a* swirling her hair, moving so graciously.
I did not know her all that well , but from the little politics we talked , I could tell that she came from a humble background and was eager to see the Americans land in Iraq . That was back in 2002.
Not having much in common to talk about , I lost touch with her and as the years and events unfolded in Iraq , I simply forgot we had met.
Until that one day , not very long ago . Fate had it that we "bump" into each other .
She goes : "Awww my Gawd , Layla "
"Wow is that Lamia , did not recognize you , Salam "
"Howdee babes , you call me Loomee"
"Loomee ? Why what happened to Lamia ? "
"Babes (drawing even harder on the new accent) , Lamia is too difficult in the U.S"
"Oh so you live in the U.S now,do you ?"
"Yeah babes , I sure do , it's been 2 years."

She kept babbling on in her fake american accent , trying hard to keep up the act , telling me how fantastic it is to be liberated , how her life has changed, she has finally visited America " her dream place " and the usual refrain that we hear from the apologists for the Occupation.
The ones who deliberately turn a blind eye to what is really happening because their lowly, base, opportunism would be at a terrible stake if they did not .
I also noticed that Lamia , I mean Loomee , had also changed physically . Her hair is much shorter now with blond highlights , her clothes way too tight bordering on the vulgar, her cowboy boots tacky, her nails way too long with funny little designs on them ...
I also later heard from common acquaintances , that Loomee no longer dances the Hacha'a* either . It seems that someone in Baghdad's Green Zone, a blond blue eyed "authority " has been teaching her the Barn Dance ...Yee haa.

And so it goes for the " winds of change ". Gone is the Shatt Al Arab girl with the charming accent, gone is the free spirit from Basra.

* Hacha'a is a typical Iraqi folk dance.

Fashion News FLASH ! .

Monsieur Sarkis lives down the road from where I am .
A short, balding man , in his 60's with an incredible sense of humor. He works as a tailor. He used to tailor for men , but now with most men buying ready made suits , he became what he mischievously calls " a Unisex tailor" .
Everytime I walk down that street , I have to pass by Mr. Sarkis and listen to one of his jokes. He always manages to have me in stitches .
Today I visited him . He was gracious and funny as usual , and after exchanging the habitual greetings I asked him if he could do me a favor.
My request was really simple . I have no time to go and shop for fabric and was wondering if Mr.Sarkis would be kind enough to buy me some thick muslin .
"Thick muslin ? What do you need it for , a gala dress ?"
"Have you not heard of the new fashion line that is swamping the new Middle East ?" I replied.
"No, no, please tell me . Is that the new pret-a-porter from Europa ? Do you have the magazines?"
I could tell Monsieur Sarkis was very excited at this piece of news , hoping to get some new fashion wear designs .
"Not quite " I replied .
"What then ?" He was growing impatient
"Well its a new fashion line and it started in Teheran ". I kept teasing .
"Teheran ? "
"Yes Teheran and now Baghdad and hitting Damascus and it might overtake us here too."
Monsieur Sarkis face grew solemn.
"A new axis you mean ?"
"Yeah a sort of new fashion axis " I replied .
"Does that mean I have to go back to Men only ?"
"Yes I'm afraid so "
"Ok , ok, I got it , what color do you want your Chador ? "
"Pitch black please. "

We laughed some more , but we both knew it was no longer a laughing matter .

November 19, 2006

Stretching the Night ...

Elie called me .He said let's go and listen to some Jazz . Elie is an old friend and he knows how much I love Jazz .
We have an unspoken pact Elie and I . Whenever we go together to a jazz place,we respect that space of silence in each other . We avoid needless petty talk, any polite jibberish and the like.
We are here and we know in consensus that we both need to retreat into the Jazzy night together yet alone . So we did .
We went to our favorite"joint"in town . An unassuming place , with a "local" band .
Drinks dutifully ordered , we settled for a place where we will not be disturbed by endless chatter.
The night smoothly set in . The saxophonist blew my breath away . The lead singer had his version of " the Look of Love " and he worked at it , giving it his very best , taking it in and blowing it out in full lungs whilst the saxophonist was exhaling the last throes . I was mesmerized , tranported , willingly taken to that place where I dreaded to enter .
The singer caught the look in my eye whilst I was tuned to his voice .
He generously offered me a second serving . The following was "More" and the third "My blue heaven"....
Then it hit me .
In fact , there is nothing more beautiful , nor more powerful than a man in love. Something about a man in love is so magical , so enticing , so very smooth just like this very instant .
Like a balm spread over open wounds, like a breath of fresh air, like this very moment .
The saxophonist is relentless , he keeps up and leads . The singer offers his voice unconditionally. And the magic continues and the rapture blooms .
A man in love is so ecstatic to watch . This mixture of fragility, coyness and strength.
This giving of self , that sheds it all in one instant . No withholding , naked and true .
I can almost touch the timbres of his voice , caress the rythms with my fingers , follow the notes with a stroke of my hand .
The last song is now being sung " I only have eyes for you ".
I want to capture this moment for ever , grab it tightly, encapsulate it and carry it away with me .
I want to stretch it till infinity, I want to stretch Me till infinity , before the sound of applause , before the lights are switched on , before the final curtain falls , before Reality sets in again .

Painting: by Iraqi Artist Jaber Alwan "Lady surrounded in Red"

Beirut for suckers.

I was strolling in what used to be the love of my life , Beirut .
Even though I still have great affection for this place , the general atmosphere is now really getting to me . The Lebanese are the main reason for this state of mind .
I am getting weary with their incessant quibblings . Their Bey , their Sheikh , their Sayyid, their Comrade , their Warlord , their local Thug, their Pimp , their General and their Monsieur le Colonel .
I am getting tired of their personality cult insidiously seeping and implanting itself in the Lebanese psyche . That same personality cult , the cult of the "Other", the one who will admire, approve, save , embrace , permeates nearly everything .
From the poor siliconized women with identical nose jobs to the latest cellular phones carriers.
The plea is almost identical :" Please accept me , please recognize my worth , see how good I am, please love me ".
This whole charade is obviously masqueraded under heavy make up, high heels, outward sophistication so pleasing to Robert Fisk and Co. Masqueraded under political slogans, endless regurgitated jargon, BMW's and Mercedes Benz , Louis Vuitton and fake bronzage*.
Downtown Beirut is polished , very polished . Like the polished nails and shoes of its passers.
Shiny like the diamonds of Madame and the shiny Timberlands and car of Monsieur .
I err aimlessly in my ex lover's arms , Beirut .
I see smoke everywhere . Everyone is sucking onto something .
Arghilehs **,pipes , cigars, cigarettes ,politicians , bosses , lovers, husbands, boyfriends, wives, mistresses .Everyone is sucking up to everyone else . A total regression to the oral stage , but where is Mr. Mom ?
I sit in my favorite cafe , cappucino after another, and I suck on my pen , drawing out words , sentences ,phrases, anything that will give me some Truth in this fake place .

* Bronzage is French for tan (just in case you don't know French)
** Arghileh is a water pipe in Arabic (Just in case you don't know Arabic, most likely)

Painting by Lebanese American Artist : Nabil Bader

Hagar's comeback .

Here she is standing
barefoot , eyeing horizons
that stretch to infinity
quenching the thirst
of seekers when she, herself
has no water .

The handmaiden "slave",
a stranger in Abraham's clan
abandoned by the Patriarch
cast out from the tribe,
Here she is again
reappearing from behind
your mind's mirages .

A beam of light
unto a world of darkness
She speaks forth
in multitude of tongues
A language unknown
to you
The blind see her
and the deaf hear her
and she is the voice
for the mute .

" I am Hagar the slave
I have wandered
arid lands
and erred a thousand
years , across
deserts and dunes
I am here to quench
your thirst
like an oasis
I, who had dried up
in the desert of your indifference
My name is Hagar
remember it
engrave it upon your skins
those skins marked
by a thousand chains
twirling around you
like snakes.
I am the slave Woman
who had no words
the one who lost
I spoke in signs
running back and forth
and pleaded
the skies
my eyes dried up
so did my blood.
I am back
I have returned to you
pulling you
out of the pits of despair.
Remember my aloness
remember my plight.
Sarah will no longer redefine you
nor break you
her jealousy will not spite you
nor her envy overtake you
I broke free from her
I regained my voice
I found the words
and the lyrics
I am no longer bound,
chained in yokes
I have been in exile
in exodus
a thousand years
I finally found home
in your eternal selves.
Fear not
for fear is your enemy
Stand erect
eye the sun just like I did
soar high like eagles
unafraid of the sun's heat
Take my words
as beads of water
chant them
let them trickle down
into your being .
Taste them
drink them
and Rejoice
for I have come back
Free , finally free ."

* Hagar :Wife of Abraham . Mother of Is(h)mael, father of all Muslim Arabs. Hagar was supposedly Sarah's slave . Hagar means "a stranger" in Hebrew . Hajar in Arabic has interesting etymological roots . The verb Hajara means "to leave, abandon"and Hijra means "Exile".
** This was written to the sound of Nassir Shamma , luth player .CD :" Une Histoire d'Amour Orientale".

Painting : Iraqi Artist Ali Al Tajer.