Showing posts from 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 inst…

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…

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-s…

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.…

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 10…

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 bitterne…

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 …

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 d…

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 hi…

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'…

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 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…

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 th…

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 dicta…

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 …

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 i…

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 miserabl…

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 n…

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

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 tr…

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 mark…

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 averyHappy ThanksGiving Day.

Painting : Iraqi Artist Shayban Ahmad

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.

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 ? "

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 magaz…

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 ente…

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, outwa…

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