April 29, 2007

Something about "Liberation"...

This "liberation" has done us in.
There is not one person I know who has not been affected and whose life has not been altered, read - forever changed by so much "liberation".

You don't even have to be an Iraqi. This "liberation" has served as a perfect mirror reflecting the moral bankruptcy of some and the resilience of others...

Those who are faithful to Iraq - the concept of it - (now we are talking about concepts since the Reality of what was Iraq is something of the past!), those who are close to Iraq in spirit and mind lose sleep too...

I have received tons of mails from all over the world. Africa, India, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the USA.

Those who are close to Iraq in spirit feel alienated from their peers. They suddenly feel out of place, they suddenly no longer feel as if they belong to what was deemed a "familiar" environment. This "liberation" has affected them too...
Seems they, too, are as unable to handle so much "freedom"...
But they are a minority. I like to call them the "feeling" minority. These people and all honors to them have not lost the capacity to feel...Praise them for they have become a rare breed.

Some write to me expressing their own pain, some write to me telling me how they feel strangers in their own land and some write to me thanking me for "freeing" them with my anger...giving them that inner space and permission to express the repressed taboos of the "politically correct", to formulate their own anger vis a vis the lies and the deceptions...
And they write to me expressing their disgust.

Something about this Iraqi "liberation" is viscerally disgusting...

Something about it, something out of this world... Something unseen before, something unfathomable...

As if all the dirt and the scum of the Earth has risen to the surface like the sewage of the streets of Baghdad...

As if this Earth has not stopped vomiting all of its foul bitter acid bile ...covering the whole land of Ur with it.

Never, at least not to my knowledge, has a "liberation" produced so much human filth...
Never has a "liberation" managed to generate so many death mercenaries and contractors being paid up to 5'000 dollars a day with the sole aim of exterminating...and "pacifying".
Never has a country been so openly plundered and pillaged right in front of everyone's eyes and to the utter silence of its spectators...
Never have so many atrocities of an unspeakable kind, not even seen in the worst horror films go by under an aura of such great detached indifference...

When I mention that cadavers are deliberately left lying in the streets until they are bloated by death or chewed at by wild dogs, I am not believed...I am called extraordinary with extraordinary claims.
I am told, surely the civilized world will not allow that!?. I am then asked to prove it.
Like do you want me to send you a corpse by DHL or should I ask one of the mercenaries of Blackwater Inc. to carry one in his suitcase, courtesy of the Crusaders?

When I write to "friends" that some children are seen playing football with the skull of a dead man, something that has been confirmed by the Arab League Ambassador to Baghdad, I am told that I need psychiatric help...Surely no "liberation" will drive children to play ball with heads ?!

When I am told, that some members of a sectarian militias like the Badr Brigades or Mahdi Army of Iran presented a sunni woman with her baby boy roasted and on platter delivered in front of her doorsteps...I say to myself surely this "liberation" cannot give birth to so much cannibalism...and that maybe I do need psychiatric care after all.

When am told that an elderly woman waiting for her son in some street in Baghdad is presented with a plastic bag with her son in it in pieces...I feel I am watching a third rate horror show...and maybe I am having audible hallucinations.

But this is the reality of the Iraqi "liberation".
All these base, bestial, sadistic, psychopathic impulses have been unleashed and encouraged to flourish...

Iraq , the mirror of the West's "suppressed" bestiality? I leave you to ponder on this one.

But whatever you come up with, you must admit, there has never been a "liberation" like this one...ever.

Painting: Iraqi artist, Khaled Thamer.

April 25, 2007

Death in the Ghetto...

My friend's mother Nadia, passed away in the "sooneee" Ghetto. A dark, sad story.
Auntie was not feeling well. She had some breathing problems. They kept saying allergies due to pollution.

They lived in an encircled neighborhood. I will refrain from naming it from fear of retribution for Nadia and her family.

No one can leave this neighborhood or enter it without any authorization from either the "iraqi guards" or the americans. Both iraqi guards and the americans represent the occupation forces. The dual American/Iranian occupation of Baghdad.

This neighborhood has been neglected for over 2 years.
The persians in charge of the ministry of works and construction, water and electricty as well as the municipality refuse to unblock any funds for the reconstruction and the collecting of garbage in the sunni areas. The worst hit areas are Al Adhamiya,Al Amel, Haifa,and al Ameriya...

These neighborhoods are part of a deliberate policy where water and electricity do not reach, where piles of garbage have become mountains, where basic necessities are not found...
Where trying to get to a hospital is impossible, where doctors refuse to pay a visit...

The criminals in charge of this Ministry of Works and Construction and the Treasury report to none other than the iranian Jawad Solaghr. Remember that son of a bitch?
He was minister of the Interior. Remember that Ministry that had offices as Persian torture chambers? And still does...(will say more later when I get to the passport stories). Same guy!

I had mentioned in one of my previous posts that these neighborhoods are littered with putrefied cadavers. I also said that kids stumble upon them when playing...and that no one is allowed to bury them.
Anyone approaching these corpses would be shot at by snipers. We are talking about human bodies here...Do remember will you?
These bodies are to remain lying in the streets as a reminder to anyone who dares fight the DUAL American/Iranian occupation.

Actually it is more than a dual occupation but let us limit ourselves to this one for the time being - the other two, the great (hahaha) british and the israeli zionist in the North through the poor oppressed kurds (another hahaha).

In this Sunni neighborhood, the garbage was getting too much. Mountains of it.
The garbage dump contained human corpses too and the skeletons of a few stray dogs...

The inhabitants decided to take matters in hand, the stench was unbearable...
According to Nadia, they used something, a "gaz" to vaporise this mountain of "rubbish" then set it on fire...

Nadia's mum lived very close to this natural cremator.
There was no way of leaving, not only was she unable to walk out, there were also rumors that the neighborhood was targeted by mortars...she stayed put. Besides who can make it beyond the american check points and the militias? Besides she did not have an authorization to leave the area...

They burned the whole thing...A couple of hours later, Nadia's mom face turned blue and she left...

Some of her children could not come and say goodbye, they lived in a "predominantly shia" area.
Too dangerous. Checkpoints would ask them where they are heading and their true sunni identity would be revealed...
Some of her other children are stranded in nearby countries because their names are too sunni...They too were unable to hug their mom and say a final goodbye.

Nadia is in pieces...
She was even more devastated when the men of the family (what is left of them that is) courageously decided to bury her mum. The funeral and getting to the graveyard is as dangerous as leaving the neighborhood. Many people don't make it back. Nadia managed a faint smile when they returned safely from burying the dead.

She cries and cries...
And those around her keep telling her stop crying, your mother "r'tahat".
"Raha" means rest, "yertah" means to rest, "r'tahat" means she finally got some rest...

They would repeat that sentence with a glint of envy in their eyes...and Nadia cries some more. She says: " Death is our destiny, I do not dispute the fact that she died...it is the way she died that hurts most..."

On Palestinian Pundit, there is a picture of the people of Adhamiya saying "we refuse to become like the Palestinians" (with reference to the new built wall - the brilliant zionist idea of the triple agent (israeli, iranian and american) Chalabi.
Chalabi in charge of the de-baathification process....
De-baathification means the torturing, slaughtering and ghettoization of sunnis.
Just another facet of the american - iranian ZIONIST occupation.

The wall is nothing but a natural logical conclusion of that process...
The people of Adhamiya are known for their resistance...
But they refuse to realize that they are indeed the new Palestinians.
And I would go a little further and say that they are also the "new" Jews of the 21st century.

The Iraqis and the Palestinians of the Diaspora, the Iraqis inside occupied Iraq and the Palestinians inside occupied Palestine - A people behind walls... are the new Jews of the 21st century.
I leave it to your good guess who the "new" nazis and fascists are...

How many more occupations and ghettos would it take for your brave "left" to realize this fact?
The fact of triple occupations - The Israeli, American, and Iranian.
Or am I talking to a fucking brick wall here?

And I, who thought heard you say that holocaust revisionism is anti-semitic and that anti- semitism is a crime!?
Seems you have not desisted from your zionist aryan ways.

As for us, we will keep having more deaths in the ghettos, to the envy of those left behind...

And all of that, behind Your Walls.

Painting: Iraqi artist, Dr.A.Al Bashir.

April 21, 2007

The Uncensored Anger Manifesto - Part V.

The Uncensored Anger Manifesto part V or you may call it the "Hot Bed".
The rules have not changed : If you don't like it...move on.
As for others, who tolerate my "bad" language, you will undoubtedly agree with me that Part V is long overdue.

I have been unable to reach Radhee for the past 3 days.
He lives in a hot spot in Baghdad. A hot bed, a hot "soooneee" bed...
Have you ever wondered why they call it a "hot bed"?

For me, the whole of Iraq is a hot bed...a burning bed, a inflammed spot...that will devastate you, once and for all. You motherfuckers.

They blew the Sarafiya bridge up and now they are constructing a wall to separate the "sooneees from the shiites".
They can't even pronounce the damn word.
They would not know what a sunni or a shia is...just as they can't tell their ass from a hole in the ground.

But,I have news for you. There is nothing to tell, you fucking idiots.
We have intermarried and lived together as ONE for hundreds of years...until the self flagellating hypocrites from Qum took over backed by your shits called the brave boys.

And your brave boys...Don't make me laugh please.
Most of them have not been in an airplane in their lives...Hence they join their army. Free travel.
I kind of miss Juba, the sniper of Baghdad...really.

So what happens if someone is married to a sunni or a shia, will they fuck across a wall...? Like mind fuck across the sectarian wall that you have erected ? Or should they get an authorization from the Al Sadr rapists, or from Maliki the dual ass licker or maybe from your smelly ugly "brave boys"?

Since you cannot erect anything else, you erect walls...
A sign of your impotence maybe?
Which reminds me of your anglo-saxon brothers, the Brits. They "sexed up" the lies about WMD's. The word "sexed up" was used on a daily basis in your media prior to the "liberation". Must have been a real turn on, bombing an innocent country.
What can one expect from rapists but this kind of thrill?

So what's the story of hotbeds and erected walls?
Something missing in your bedrooms maybe...a misplaced sexual frustration transposed across the ocean?
The judeo-christian mind set must have had you right below the belly...

And now we have the enlightened "experts" on Iraq, telling us that soooneees were favored in the past...to the detriment of others.
Bang your heads against the wall like your jewish brethren...and keep talking to that wall.

A wall in Palestine and a wall in Baghdad...And you fuckers are so stupid, you can't even see the similarities...and those of you who do see...Oh well, Ahmadimidget has promised you some inflatable dolls, more inflatable dolls to tintillate your fantasies...
But do me a favor, don't use the real sufferings of the Iraqis to balloon your plastic dolls will you?

Where are your holy Gurus of the "left"? The ones you submit to like moronic idiots, incapable of formulating an independent thought by yourselves. Another case of radical impotence.
Bring them in now with a new mantra, that you can repeat ad hoc till you reach your ultimate vertical stand up with your inflatables.

You know something, I am into my forties and I absolutely love it. Except you mother fuckers have spoiled it for me. For the time being at least...

I mean here I am in my forties and am supposed to enjoy the maturity and the pay offs and you come with your filthy ways and agendas and fuck the whole thing up...
Who will you make it up for me now you assholes?

I am never going to be 40 again you motherfuckers...and countless others will never be 30, 15, 5 or 1 again either...

And instead of just savoring the experience, I am here writing about your failed erections...and your substitute erected walls instead.

Getting back to Radhee, he is more important than you, pile of shit.
As I said, he lives in the "hot bed"...and I still cannot get through to him.

I wake up every day and wonder, who is dead who is alive today...
I wonder will I be alive or dead today...and how much more can I take without imploding, exploding.
But you want me to explode and you want me to implode. This is your aim.

And I tell you, I am here to stay to remind you of your impotence and your failure.

Not only have you failed like your jewish zionist neurotic complexed frigid friends who erect walls in the name of Zion covering up for their fake divine orgasms, you are also defeated you motherfuckers...DEFEATED.
You may want to erect a hundred walls...you are already history.
And tell your friends from EYE RAN, that they are defeated too.
No intellectually honest person buys the Iranian shit anymore, except those who hanker after plastic dolls.

My oh my, dual occupations. Nay, triple occupations. Nay, quadruple occupations. And they are mighty hard. But true Iraqis are hard too...as hard as your walls.

You know hard? That thing you cannot get, so you build cement instead...

And I still can't get over the fact, you are incapable of pronouncing the damn words correctly...Mediocrity is your motto.

You absolutely adore mediocrity. You love it, thrive on it and revel in it.
Mediocrity is safe. Very safe. And you America are a mediocre people.

I don't give a fuck about your technological progress, nor about your discoveries, or your so called scientific advancements.

In my eyes, you have always been and remain mediocre...
You lost the essential and this is what matters most but it seems not to matter to you.
No, wait, I take that back.
What matters most, you never had.

You simply don't have it in you. And those who have managed to retain it, find it, safeguard it, feel like aliens amongst the rest of you...
But that is not my problem. I have shown enough solidarity in my life.
Jumping on the bandwagon...I have done my share.

Now it is your turn.

But what do I see instead ?
I see some half assed pussies crying over the brave rapist boys.
The rapists of Falluja, Mahmoudiah, Abu Ghraib and Baghdad...

I came across one of your boys two days ago...He was pumped up like a peacock but in my eyes he had no feathers. What have you got to say to that?
An all muscle featherless limp peacock.

But hey, I must remain objective here...

You love objectivity don't you? When it suits you and suits your interests.
But in my eyes, he was the ugliest motherfucker I have ever seen in my life.
God, I miss Juba, the sniper of Baghdad.

Wait a second here. Your crimes know no bounds.
What have you done to me? I no longer recognize myself.

And all I wanted was to spend my 40's in relative serenity...

And I still cannot reach Radhee in the "hot bed" of your "undoing".

Painting: Iraqi artist, Rafa Al-Nasiri, "Poetics".

April 20, 2007

A "Recovery" Dream...

I really do not wish to bother you with my unconscious processes, but maybe you can help me with this "strange" dream I had the other night...

I dreamt that I was ushered into some "Recovery" group, so I can heal...
The rules were that I had to be myself and everyone else had to be too. We were all supposedly "equal" on the path.
A collective "unmasking" on our way towards "Healing and Recovery".

I introduced myself and some English parish priest asked me to speak up with no barriers...Remember that was a place of healing...

The minute I opened my mouth to give my name to the group, which was comprised of many nationalities and "faiths", I burst out into tears.

I cried non stop and every time I wanted to utter a sentence, a rational phrase, my words would turn into tears that would come gushing out, profusely, inundating the floor...

In the dream, I tried to be brave, but this was no time for bravery...
I was offered a cup of coffee and asked to talk some more...
And I went searching for the words and all I managed to speak were more tears...

Words became like drops of salted water, taking a shape and form all by themselves, bursting forth like a fountain...and I saw them roll on the floor, between the chairs, around the feet of the attendees...rolling like crystal balls in all directions...

I looked out of the window and I saw a dark sky falling around us...

A "left wing" American Jewish woman I had met in my (real) distant past, came up to me...
I remember that she was a chronic lamenting woman from New York.
She walked towards me and gave me a "friendly" hug.
And she told me in a very heavy nasal accent that she knew all about "It", since her people had to go through the same "Thing"...

And in her embrace, she came very close and lingered a little longer, whispering in my ear saying : " And even today, the Arabs and the Palestinians have not stopped persecuting us ".

I freed myself from her arms...struggling away from her. I pushed her forcefully to the side and started screaming: " Enough of you, enough of all of you and enough of your lies..."

The English parish priest asked me to control myself, calm down and to recollect my composure...and he offered me a glass of something to drink...

I took the glass and smashed it on the floor and saw it break into a million pieces...pieces of crystal glass flying all over the place...mingling with the teardrops that were, by now, covering the whole room.

And I screamed some more..."Liars, fuck you all...fuck you all".

I woke up shouting the F. word, drenched in tears and in sweat.
I also noticed my fists tightly clenched as if ready to punch the darkness surrounding me...

Any interpretations that may be "useful" to you too?

Painter: Iraqi female artist, Eman Ali Khaled, "Whispers" 1992.

April 17, 2007

A tube story...

Two scenes from the tube did a job on me tonight.

The first one was from a documentary called "Iraq's missing millions".
Yes you guessed right. It referred to the 20 Billion Dollars of Iraqi money that simply evaporated during Bremer's "governance" of the "new" Iraq.
The 20 Billion dollars of Iraqi money that were meant to "reconstruct" Iraq.

The program filmed a hospital in Diwaniya, the Southern part.
This was no hospital, this looked like a run down insalubrious toilet. No hospital sheets, no curtains, no medication, no oxygen masks, no surgical gloves, no intravenous serums...

In something that looked like an ancient non-functional incubator, laid Zahra, an infant girl and not too far, Abbas, her twin infant brother.

Zahra looked blue black, the colors of asphyxiation. She lacked Vitamin K and some other drug. She was terribly malnourished. She lacked air, she lacked life.

The doctor had no oxygen mask. He pressed a long thick tube, the only one available, against her tiny nostrils, trying to insert bits of it, hoping to give her some oxygen, hoping to revive her ever slowing heart beat.

Zahra's father was absent. He went searching for the drug and the vitamin K on the black market. Zahra's father had to pay for them from his own pocket.
By the time he made it back to the hospital and despite the doctor's best efforts, Zahra was gone.

The doctor told Zahra's grandmother: "This infant is finished".
The following day, Abbas, her twin brother was finished too.

Zahra's father rushes in with two ampoules of Vitamin K. It was too late.
Someone hands him a cardboard box. Zahra's face is covered with a tiny piece of cloth and placed in the box. Just like that.

A cardboard box. You know the one you store your shoes in, or your old newspapers, or any junk you want to eventually get rid of. In the "new" Iraq, infants are placed in those boxes.

The second scene was from Guantanamo. You know Gitmo Bay, your seaside resort.
380 "prisoners" are still with no trial. Many of them are on hunger strike.
One of them is Sami al-Hajj, a sudanese cameraman working for Al Jazeera. Married, father of small boy.

Sami Al-Hajj amongst others, has been in Gitmo for over three years now and still no charges and no trial.
Sami has been on a hunger strike for 100 days already.

One of the lawyers in charge of Sami's "case" gave a demonstration of how Sami and others are force fed by the democratic american authorities there.

They take the "detainee", strap him with leather belts to a sturdy wooden chair. Tie his arms, feet and head, paralyzing any movement.

A 1 meter long tube is then thrust into the "detainee's" nostrils, with no anesthesia of course, past his larynx, through his oesophagus right into his stomach and the food is thus forcefully ingested.

This "procedure" is repeated twice a day.
Sami Al-Hajj has been undergoing this tubal "nourishment" twice a day for 100 days.

Zahra and Sami have much in common. They are Arab "speaking", muslims, brown skinned and share the same "tube" destiny.

In fact they were both caught in the american dark, tight, tunnel of torture with no end in sight...as if trying to live through an interminable tube...

Yes that's it, "Life" in a tube.

Painting: Iraqi artist, Hamid Al-Attar.

April 16, 2007

Blown to the Winds...

Have you ever been lost?

Like, have you ever tried walking in one direction only to end up in another ?

Have you ever been without a map, searching for signposts? A total stranger where the streets, the faces, the roads are the Unknown to you ?

Have you ever walked and kept on walking, thinking to yourself, this it, you have nearly reached your destination only to find out that your destination has moved ?

Have you ever asked for guidance and been given the wrong directions?

Have you ever desperately searched for someone to assist you and found no one?

Have you travelled for miles on foot, erring, wandering and thinking to yourself this has become your route...a route that seems long but is in fact a cul de sac?

In your circumambulations around yourself, have you ever caressed the gates of a home that looked so much like yours?

Have you ever had doors slamming in your face? Have you ever come across banners saying you are not allowed in? Have you ever been made to feel that you are a burden? Cumbersome? Unwanted? Rejected? Despised? Or at best, pitifully tolerated ?

Have you ever felt like a beggar even though you hold all the riches of the world inside of you ? Have you ever begged for validation, recognition, a voice you can borrow, a hand you can use ?

Have you ever been classified, labeled, pigeonholed, branded and given a serial number ?

Did you ever hate yourself in the process? In the process of becoming a non person, a non being, a non citizen of anything ?

No? Then consider yourself very lucky. Unfortunately for the 2 million Iraqis and the hundreds of Palestinians, in exodus, in exile, they do not share your good fortune.

Add to them, the other 2 million internally displaced, living in tents, refugees in their own country.

A country that no longer tolerates or wants them. Most have fled due to sectarian violence, a lot of them underwent torture ordeals, the majority at the hands of the Jaysh Al Mahdi of Muqtada al Sadr and the other death militias tied to the Iraqi puppet government.

Let's call her Umm Fadhil, a woman in her 60's from Falluja. She lost one eye after a sectarian son of a bitch poked it with a screw driver. She lingered in the street screaming, blood pouring out of her eye. She also has a "hole" in her heart, a lung condition, and is asthmatic and above all, she has no one...

Am sure you are very concerned now. Let me ease your guilty conscience, maybe you will feel better.

Umm Fadhil is now in Damascus, sleeping on a mattress on some damp floor, and thanks to the good will of a Syrian woman, she receives food once a week, every Thursday, to be more precise.

Abu Ali, from Najaf, works one day out of ten on the black market. He has a family to support.
They all sleep on the floor of something called a furnished apartment in Damascus. His rent is 245$. Occasionally the shia Hawza gives him 58$ to help him with his medication. Abu Ali has all the physical ills of the world.

Haytham swears that if he has breakfast, he cannot have lunch or dinner. Another "refugee" in Damascus. Living off scraps. His life has become scraps like the scraps he collects trying to make a living.

Yasmeen, a dentist, works for 100$ a month, as a dental hygienist in Amman.
With these 100$ she looks after her parents and grandparents and pays the rent. She also teaches her boss, the Jordanian dentist how to do fillings...

Sobhi, a graduate in computer sciences, spends his days smoking his life away and walking the streets of Amman looking for a job on the black market where he will be getting the wages of a slave. No Iraqi is officially allowed to work either in Syria or Jordan.

Lateef, a Phd in engineering tends the garden of some nouveau riche Jordanian, who made his fortune out of Iraqi blood.

Sarab, a widow, spends her nights in some seedy 2 cents bar, waiting for clients. She has been wearing the same dress for the past 3 months and has 3 kids to feed.

As for the Palestinians, they are once more stranded at the borders, in tents...Over and over again. No neighboring country would allow them in.

A short clip of the refugees from Iraq. Your beloved new democracy.

Shunned, turned down, unwanted and very much alone...

In Jordan, those with a valid permit are refused renewal. Does not matter how long they have been living there. They will simply not renew the residence permits.

UNHCR promised the governments concerned millions. You can make heaps of money calling them refugees.

Mariam, 54, a Phd in industrial engineering was summoned by the "respectable" agency.

" Fill this application for us.
Are you a baathist, a saddamist?
What was your father's name and occupation? Your mother's? Your sibling's? Your uncle's and aunts? Your grandfather,your great grandfather, your great grand mother?

They are all dead.

Does not matter, we still need to know their name and occupation.
What diplomas do you have?

A Phd in Engineering.

Why did you leave?

I lived alone and I received several death threats from the Mahdi Army of Muqtada Al Sadr.

What is your preferred country? Ireland, Australia, England, Sweden? And why?

None of these.

Who do you know there?

No one

We will give you 30 JD a month until you are "placed". Do you really need them ? "

Mariam woke at 5 am to queue at the UNHCR office in Amman, to fill this intelligent application form. Hundreds were queuing before her. The same scene repeats itself in Damascus.

"I don’t want to go to Australia. I have no one in Austalia.

You have no choice.

But I had a permit for the past two years. I am not asking you or the government for anything.
I am even willing to sign a paper promising you I will not work here. Just don't send me to Australia.

You don't understand, you are refugee.

Does that mean I can never go back? Does that mean I will not see my home again?

If you go back you are no longer a refugee. You will not get the 30 JD's a month. And you have no valid passport. "
(the passport issue is a whole story by itself which I will deal with in some later post.)

The queues are getting longer and longer...Some have been queuing for weeks and some for months...
Some have no savings left, some have nothing left...
Most "live", like Umm Fadhil, on the good will of whomsoever gives them food once a week. Most live in squalid conditions with no running water and sometimes no electricity.

When asked, the Jordanians blame "them" for the high rate of inflation and the rising price of real estate, basic services and goods.
Of course they don't blame their government who is still getting preferential rates in oil supplies. They don't blame their businessmen who made millions out of Iraqi corpses.They don't blame their real estate dealers who have inflated the prices for a quick profit. They don't blame America. They blame the destitute Iraqis.

In Syria, the same complaints but the words are stronger. "They" (the Iraqis) are insulted for "taking over" and being there.

Being becomes a sin, survival becomes the biggest crime. Iraqis, the victims, have become the scapegoat. They should have all died instead, so as not to bother anyone.

Both the Syrians and the Jordanians must have forgotten the hospitality of the previous Iraqi regime, where they settled in special buildings and neighborhoods, where they got grants and preferential treatment and if they were students, their logdgings and education were free of charge...Yes memory is short indeed.
Believe it or not, the few Iraqis in Mauritania complain of the same treatment. Seems the Mauritanians have gone amnesic too.

The whole world has become amnesic...And Iraqis are queuing at the crack of dawn...
Erased from the collectivity. Erased from any status. Erased from belonging. Erased from being...

A serial number on some application form, a shadows on a street, a "mob" with no map, no guidance, no acceptance...No nothing.

That same nothingness that has pervaded everything in our lives.
A continuation of your nihilism, a continuation of your absenteeism, a continuation of your silence...

The Iraqis of nothingness. The Iraqis of the void. The Iraqis of your crimes...

The Iraqi and Palestinian refugees. Falling leaves from a branch. A branch forcibly torn away from a tree trunk. And a tree violently pulled out from its roots.

I suddenly feel a chill. A sudden cold wind blowing, through my empty ribs, through my uprootedness...I must be erringly lost too, like some refugee.

The latest from the Geneva meeting around the Refugee crisis in Iraq :
50'000 Iraqis are fleeing the country on a monthly basis.
Presently, there are 4 million Iraqi refugees.
2 Million internally displaced. Another 2 million outside of Iraq.
1 Million in Syria, 750'000 in Jordan, the rest spread out in neighboring countries.
According to the Commission:
"We urge the neighboring countries not to close their borders. We urge the EU and others to actively participate in resolving this crisis. The Middle East is heading towards a disaster of unprecedented proportions known in modern history. The refugee crisis is drawing a NEW DEMOGRAPHIC MAP, retracing Iraq along ETHNIC lines."

Iran and Israel must be gleeing with contentment now.

Painting: Iraqi artist, Naman Hadi. "The Uprooted".

April 10, 2007


Don't you just love those timely coincidences, the synchronicity of dates and events?

Like, Christmas, the Islamic Feast, and New Year's eve were marked by the slaughtering of the legitimate president of Iraq, the hero, Saddam Hussein.

The Persian and Kurdish new Year were marked by the first days of the American "shock and awe" war of aggression.

And now, Passover and Easter are marked by the memory of the "fall" of the city of Peace, or as the Persians call it the God-given one, Baghdad.

Naturally, on this day, I spend the whole time watching the media's coverage of the "fall".
I have been going through this same ritual every 9th of April since 2003.

I know it will come as a shock to you but part of me still cannot absorb the fact that Iraq is occupied. And I am not the only one, I know many Iraqis who share this same disbelief.

I usually dress in black which has become my favorite color, prepare a huge pot of coffee, refuse any intrusions and just watch.
I watch everything related to that somber day of my life – the "fall" of Baghdad.

I am glad that Al Jazeerah has been devoting the past 48 hours to this historical "event".

A very important program with Saifdeen al - Rawi, no.14 on the cowboy's list of " Wanted," gave an exclusive two parts interview to al-Jazeerah from inside Iraq.

Much was said. A lof of it of a military nature revolving around the balance of force prior to the fall of Baghdad. The element of surprise that took the Iraqi republican guards, the overwhelming superiority of the American Air force, Iraq had practically none in 2003. The battles of Basrah, Najaf, Kut...and the battle of Baghdad.

Al-Rawi born in 1949 in al-Anbar province, had spent all of his adult life in the Army. In 2003, he was the commander of the Iraqi republican guards.
Thre is no way I can transcript everything here. I retained some important points though and will relate them to you.

When asked by the interviewer about the "shock and awe" war of aggression on Iraq, Al-Rawi replied that Iraq had been engaged in a war for 13 years, since 1991.
He considered the last aggression as nothing but a continuation of the first in 1991, followed by the economic sanctions, the regular bombings in 1998 (400 bombs) in the 33 and 36th parallel which destroyed over 80 Iraqi war planes and paralyzed the Iraqi air force.

In 2003, Iraq had 600 war planes which were unused since 1991. Only 70 of them were operational. There was no real Iraqi air defense, nor any naval defense except for a few Chinese anti-missile batteries (ground/sea) based in Basrah.
And contrary to most claims, Al- Rawi mentioned that most of the military equipment was French, Russian and Chinese made.

The second war of aggression did not come as a complete surprise to the Iraqi government.
It was more like a logical culmination of all the previous ones that Iraq had been subjected to.

Forty eight hours before the enemy's attack, Bush offered Saddam Hussein and his two sons to leave Iraq. Something that Saddam Hussein obviously refused, stating:

"Do they really think we will leave and let the occupiers take over our country and our people?"

Saddam Hussein then added:

"This is the battle of Destiny. If we become victorious, then it will be Victory not only for us but for all Arabs and if we lose, other commanders will emerge from Anbar, Basrah, Dyala, Baghdad,...and we will defeat America, of this I am certain."

Al-Rawi said that they had been preparing for this eventuality for several years before the invasion. And of course, they were fully aware of the unequal military power. But they prepared nonetheless.
Al-Rawi personally trained 800'000 civilians, since 1994, in the use of firearms.
And a couple of years before 2003, whilst the inspectors were still searching for the non existent WMD.s, searching even the personal wardrobes of Saddam Hussein and destroying all kinds of factories in front of the workers, their livelihood, under the same pretext, the Iraqi government did not stop preparation for that day.

The only thing the Iraqi leadership was betting on in its favor was the time element.
They really believed that the ground invasion, will only take place after a protracted period. At least around Baghdad.

The Iraqi republican guards, 150'000 of them including the special forces and Saddam's Fedayeen were fully prepared for this land battle. That battle did not happen.
Seems that the American soldiers are very cowardly when it comes to ground combat.

The enemy's air offensive on Baghdad lasted 300 hours. Continuous bombardments day and night before the land invasion. Battles did take place in Basrah, Kufah, Kut,... and the famous battle around Saddam Hussein International Airport and which came to be known as the "Battle of the Airport." The Americans used bombs each weighing 9 tons, phosphorus bombs and Neutron bombs.

What al-Rawi stated had been previously confirmed to me by a relative who is a doctor and was working 24/7 during the "shock and awe" campaign, in one of Baghdad's public hospital.
I remember clearly him telling me: "The bodies we received were not only burned and carbonized, they had melted into an mass of ashes. Despite all my experience treating war victims, I had never seen anything like that before in my life."

In the battle of the Airport, over 3'000 republican guards fought till their last breath and were all killed, more like melted into something unrecognizable.

On a side note, I personally had first heard of neutron bombs being designed during Carter's reign and the following thought stayed with me.
I remember thinking then, goodness, how much more materialistic can the Americans get ?
They want to grab buildings and destroy the people who inhabit them. When will these people ever realize the damage they inflict on the rest of the world ? Little did I know these same bombs were going to be used against my people.

Back to al -Rawi's interview. When asked if the Iraqi leadership was aware of its neighbors intentions and strategies. This is what he had to say and please mark it well .

"After 1991, we viewed Syria as somewhat neutral. They did fight in the 1991 war but we thought surely with their Baath ideology close to ours, they will not actively engage with the enemy this time around. (Am not so sure of this one myself).

Insofar as Jordan is concerned, we assumed they will not allow full American troops in because the Jordanian people will never accept it. However we were aware that they will authorize American air force and mercenaries to penetrate Iraq and they will provide logistic support. (Touche Mr. Al Rawi).

As for Saudi Arabia, clearly the Saudis cooperated in 1991 and fought the Iraqis in Diwaniyah and Kerbalah. We believed that in 2003, the Saudi people will refuse to allow the enemy's ground troops crossing from its borders. But we were sure that the Saudis will allow American war planes flying from their bases and will provide logistic and other support to them.
(Damn right Mr. Al Rawi. May I add that Egypt, Qatar, Bahrain allowed it too).

Now Kuwait is a different story altogether. Kuwait was a full participant in this war of aggression and all the American military force was mobilized in Kuwait. This latter provided them with everything.
(I bet. Including pumping Iraqi oil and selling it to finance the American war effort).

Turkey as you know is an ally of NATO and they have a base there. They facilitated the attacks on the northern parts of Iraq, Mosul and the rest of the Nineveh province."
(In timely cooperation with Israel and the Kurds, naturally).

"So what about Iran?" Asked the interviewer.

"Iran is a long story. As you know we have over 1100 km of borders with Iran.
And since the days of Kourosh when he attacked Babel right through to the Shah and ending with Khomeini, Iran is clearly a historic enemy to us.
I will tell you something that was related by Qusay Saddam Hussein, may God have mercy on his soul. When we were in Kuwait, Rafsandajani told us:
"Stay in Kuwait, and we will support you with combatants from the Islamic revolutionary guards who will fight alongside with you". Upon this assurance from him, we asked them to shelter a good number of our war planes. (these planes are still in Iran by the way and were never returned to Iraq after the Kuwaiti episode.)
The Iranian combatants were never sent and not only that, when we retreated, on our way back, the Islamic revolutionary guards attacked us below, on the ground in southern Iraq while the American air force attacked us from above.

(Now, Mr. Al Rawi, when will you learn never to trust Iran ?)

Dear Reader, just in case you did not know, Iraq has borders with all of these wonderful neighbors.
Unless Iraqis were supermen, there was no way on earth Baghdad would not fall.
Now, do place this in a contextual time frame, will you please ?
A first war of aggression followed by 12 years of sanctions, great neighbors who all conspired and another "shock and awe" cocktail of neutron, cluster, DU, B.52's, (9 tons each bomb), and phosphorus fireworks...

You must agree it is a miracle Iraqis are still around...well sort of.
Talk about being entrapped...

Today was also marked by other "events".

The "Duce" Ahmadinajad of Iran, chose the 9th of April to deliver one of his speeches in Isfahan interrupted by some Persian sentimental songs (am glad they are still allowed) and assured his fervent audience that Iran has nearly completed its enriched uranium program and threatened to leave the non proliferation treaty.

On the same day, whilst a curfew was imposed on Baghdad and not even a shadow was seen on the streets, the drill boys and followers of Muqtada al Sadr (who is still in Iran by the way) went on a great show of zeal with so called anti-occupation demonstrations in Najaf.
Huge banners with slogans "no to the occupier, no to the USA" were being upheld amidst Iraqi flags waving.

I remember clearly when Baghdad fell, this same crowd went on demos shouting:
" No to America, no to Saddam".
Today the slogans were limited to " No to America". Of course not one word mentioned about Iran (who has bought off 90% of Najaf and Kerbalah and has colonized Basrah).
Al Sadr in this show of so called "patriotism" in a timely setting coinciding with Ahmadinajad's speech, is trying to achieve two things :

1) cover up for his abominable sectarian crimes against the sunnis and against all true Iraqi patriots and most importantly against the Iraqi Resistance.
2) protect Iran in Iraq (along with Maliki, Al Hakim and Sistani - Iran's watchdogs)

Iran and its dogs in Iraq have never really fought the American occupier.
On the contrary, they have collaborated with the enemy in the fall of Baghdad and its subsequent occupation.
The Americans (and little G.B.) and the Iranians have destroyed Iraq in the South and in the Center and the Israelis and the Kurds have destroyed it in the North. Don't you ever forget that.
And these three and a half, (G.B being the half) have not ceased conspiring against the Iraqi Resistance who is now the ONLY force fighting the Occupation and who is now considered by Iraqis as their ONLY legitimate representative.
I did say by Iraqis , not sectarian dogs.

Now whether the USA and Iran are foes or friends, does not matter, the Iraqis have paid the price and continue to pay the price.
The Iraqis are entrapped in their respective political games. But I am sure the Iranians and the Americans are trapped in Iraq as much.

On the Northern front, Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister did not have many kind words towards the zionist Kurd Barazani. This latter has been threatening to unleash his other branch of peshermagas,the PKK into Turkey, if Turkey does not cease interference in Kirkuk.

Masood Barazani in his typical zionist way is faitfhfully following his father's footsteps who did exactly the same by unleashing his chauvinistic hordes into Iraq from Iran during the times of the Shah's and thereafter during Khomeini's.

Now Turkey and the "representative of Kurdistan" are at each other's throat.
I wonder if Israel is not trying to dig a hole for Turkey. I do not exclude that.
Having entrapped the Iraqis they are now trapped together.

In whichever scenario to come, American, Iranian, Turkish, Kurdish, Israeli, who traps who...
Please don't count on my tears. Have none left.

On the 9th of April, all hell was let loose. If you cannot kindle the fire, don't start it.

Trapped in Iraq after 4 years? Oh yes for sure. And who has outwitted them all?
The Iraqi resistance, of course.

Al-Rawi said that the Resistance has enough arms to last it another 50 years. They do not need any outside help.
And please don’t give me this crap about foreign Arab fighters and this al-Qaeda bull.
Al Qaeda – if it does exist that is – is responsible for 1% of all operations.
And the Iraqi Resistance wants nothing to do with it.
News have it (and I believe those news) that the Kurds (Israel) and the Americans are responsible for most of the car bombs. That does not surprise me.

And facts on the ground have it that Iran is responsible for the execution of the sectarian plan devised by the Americans. Sectarian torture and killings through its militias.
Iran funds, trains, backs and provides men and logistics to these militias. If you still doubt that, sorry to tell you then, that you are either not very bright or on some Iranian payroll.

Those who entrapped are now trapped.

The Iraqi Resistance, on the other hand, is neither limited by time nor space.
They choose when, where and how. They are in fact as free as birds now.
This is what I call "Operation Freedom."

Did Baghdad really fall? Is the battle of Baghdad over after 4 years?

" Not over our dead bodies, we will fight them till the last drop."
These were Saddam Hussein's last words to Al-Rawi.

What a wonderful realization !

Painting: Iraqi artist, Amer Al Obaidi " The Birds Window"

April 8, 2007

And thus She spoke...

"And on the third day, I rose…

Something inside keeps pushing me to write through.
Even though I have no "ink" left.
Something, someone, like a still little voice deep from within, from without, gently commands me...WRITE.

And I struggle and I wrestle...with words.
Words that keep eluding me, slipping through my fingers like ether, like mercury...
I compress, squeeze, wring...
I shake, as if shaking a bottle for the last drops to trickle and hopefully quench.

And I struggle some more and nothing comes out.
Many a times I have cried out : Oh God why have you forsaken me? Why have you abandoned me?
And I hear nothing but the silence of my cries like an echo in a mass grave.

There is no shortage of misery, there is no lack of suffering...
Maybe it is too grandiose for me to deal with alone and where should I start?

Torture and death? Emptiness and hunger? Untreated Illnesses and agony ? Orphans and roaming street children ? Poverty and hunger? Exile and refugees? Destruction and paralysis? Ruins and rubbles? Grief and resignation? Violence and occupation? Madness and loss of direction? Unemployment and mendicity? Depleted Uranium and Tumors? Widows and loneliness? Abductions and kidnappings? Bombs and explosions? Interrogations and imprisonment? Corruption and executions? Mercenaries and contractors? Blood spilling and lack of transfusions? Hospitals and lack of medication? Militias and drills? Oil and theft? Longings and torment?

The enemies at my gates were numerous and my Judas had many masks.
Each mask bearing a different origin, a different color, a different lie and each mask hiding another...

Where do you want me to start?

Help me here…

Lend me one of your so called Christian charitable hands and tell me what do you want me to begin with?
Lend me some of your so called Muslim piety and stand by me, at least for a little while.
Lend me some of your so called Jewish tears and speak of the persecuted, the defamed...
Lend me one of your so called Arab pompous, prideful voices and trigger me off.
Lend me one of your so called Solidarity fists and multiply my voice, multiply my absent words...
Lend me one of your so called civilized humanistic orations and halt my blood.

Stop giving me vinegar pretending it is water.
Stop digging more nails into my body pretending they are balms.
Stop crowning me with thorns pretending they are flowers.

Stand by me, stand with me...
Stand with me as am losing grounds, stand with me as am sinking, stand with me as the earth is being eroded from beneath my feet.

I am tired of shaking you like am trying to shake this empty bottle.
I am tired of explaining to you, of trying to convince you, of showing you, of relating to you...

I am tired of your empty temples, tired of your hollow shouts, tired of your fake statues and your endless idol worshipping.

I feel terribly alone here...doing the unthinkable...doing the improbable...doing the unfathomable...doing the miraculous.

My faithful, courageous, men and women are resisting you and they have been doing so for years...alone.
Resisting your tyranny, resisting your dictatorship, resisting your violence and brutality, resisting your spite, your hatred and your greed...alone.

I am tired of your accusations, of your snide remarks, of your mistrust, of your projections, of your slanders, of your ignorance, of your idiocy, of your lack of presence, of your lack of will…

Here I am trying to find words as if crawling on four, trying to gather lost, scattered beads from a rosary.
Get down with me and search for them...Reclaim your sacred vows, rediscover your language.
I am giving you this opportunity, I am offering your this gift, over my dead tortured, massacred body...

You have nailed and crucified me and I am resurrecting again and again.
Don't shut me out, dont shut me off...
Don't shut yourself off and repossess the words with me.

Maybe we will find a common language.
Maybe we will find a common prayer.
Maybe you will be raised again and taste life once more...

And if you do abandon me and my plight, and I do go into the underworld, remember that I will drag you along with me.
For you are neither alone nor immune.

If I could sink the Goddess Ishtar into the tenebrous lows, I can sink you too.
if I could sharpen Gilgamesh's axe, surely I can touch you too.
If I could survive a thousand invasions from the times of Babylon through the Mongols right down to the pale skinned ones and their dark servants, surely I can survive you too.
If my womb gave birth to hundreds of prophets, surely it can give birth to you too.

Do not mistake my crying out to you as helplessness...Take it as my hand finally saving you.

Remember me. Remember my history and remember who I am, and don't you ever forget my name. I am Iraq.

I have died a thousand times and have resurrected. And have died once more...and will resurrect again.
But this time around it will be your final end and my eternal beginning."

And thus She spoke, on the third day, on the Cross.

Happy Easter and Happy Resurrection.

Painting: Iraqi artist, Dia Al-Azzawi:" Homage to Al Jawahiri"

April 5, 2007

So, what's cooking ?

The other day, several ladies came for an afternoon tea.
You need to understand a cup of tea, Iraqi style, has nothing to do with your ordinary one.
Iraqi style means several hours on end of talking...And it also means Layla's lending a hand, for a whole morning, in the kitchen preparing...
A cup of tea and a couple of biscuits are simply out of the question. Iraqi style has to be elaborate.

Knowing that a supposedly one hour visit will stretch to 4 hours, in time for an early supper or at least an appetizer, one prepares in advance for that inevitable probability.

I am not very much of a social person. I like social gatherings in small doses and when relatives and relatives of relatives gather, I usually disappear. That afternoon, I stuck it out...

On the menu : Dolma, boorak , and klechah. Don't worry will provide you with a culinary translation.

Dolma is basically stuffed wine leaves, aubergines, onions, tomatoes, courgettes and bell peppers. Any or all of these vegetables depending on availability. They are stuffed either vegetarian style with spiced rice and cooked in olive oil then we call it "dolma bel zayt" and served cold or stuffed with spiced minced meat and rice and served hot.

Now some people pretend that Dolma is a Turkish and/or Greek dish. Wrong, dead wrong.
Archeological digs confirm, beyond the shadow of doubt, that the first people to actually write culinary recipes on cuneiform tablets were the Sumerians and guess what the archeologists found as the first cooking recipe ever? Dolma.

So yes, it is indeed a Mesopotamian/Iraqi dish and I don't want to hear about this Turkish/Greek nonsense anymore.

Boorak is puffed pastry filled with grated white cheese mixed with fresh or dried mint and baked gently till melted and golden brown.

Klechah on the other hand is a typical Iraqi sweet. It is like a cookie, stuffed with nuts or dates and covered with a golden hue of saffron.

All the above takes hours to patiently prepare. Iraqi tea is also a whole ceremonious concoction.
Tea bags are a blasphemy. Whole leaves of black tea are gently brewed in a small pot sitting over a kettle of boiling water. That is the only way a tea can brew without giving a bitter taste. And it is usually served in small glasses called "Isteekan."

Everything was ready for this "women only" gathering.
They arrived one by one or two by two and there was over a dozen of them.
Some of them I knew well enough and others I was meeting for the first time.

Now let me see...
There was Uncle Zayd's daughter in law, Sumaya (i.e Tarek's wife).
Also present was Auntie Afaf, Sumaya's mother. Umm Issam a relative of Sumaya's mother. Then two of Uncle Zayd's daughters, Khadija and Bouthaina. Also our neighbor Auntie Amira and her daughter. And Auntie Noora and her daughters and more aunties and more daughters...
A megadose of "Yin" energy for one afternoon. And a tad too late to pull my disappearing act.

After the customary greetings, the subject naturally took the direction it was expected to take...The Occupation.

Different faces, different names but the same stories repeating themselves endlessly, painfully, tediously, sometimes to the the point of banality.

Who got killed, who got tortured, who got kidnapped, who fled, who emigrated, who lost his job, who lost an arm, who lost an eye, who lost a leg, who lost a husband, a son, a daughter...security, electricity, water, the government...
The usual stuff, courtesy of the American occupation.
And of course every single woman present, had a story to tell…

Some I had heard already so I switched off as they were being repeated over and over like an "occupation mantra".

More tea was poured, the food served, and amidst a symphony of tea stirring and stories of brutality mixed with sentences like "pass the dolma", "this klechah is great" and "how do you prepare this puffed pastry?"... Auntie Afaf caught my full attention.

I noticed from the moment she walked in until the minute she left, she was clutching her hand bag tightly against her full abdomen...

You could tell that Auntie Afaf loves food but her love of food was betrayed by a very sober, grave look, marked with a deep perpetual frown.

Auntie Afaf would eat, drink tea, talk, move her hands, stretch her legs, and her handbag would not budge from her lap. I was almost sure there was a story to this handbag. I was just waiting for it to unfold...

Sumaya, her daughter, 5 months pregnant, cleared her throat and said :

"I need to tell you this story. We did not want to "bother" you before, but now I can share it with all of you.
A month ago, "they" came. You know we all live at Uncle's Zayd's house. Tarek and I, my mother, the kids and Tarek's sisters Khadija and Bouthaina, their kids and their husbands and of course Uncle Zayd. We had to move to his house. You know Tarek is a civil engineer and he lost his job and so did Khadija's and Buthaina's husbands. We simply could no longer afford to pay the rent..."

Everyone nodded in sympathy, understanding and recognition.

"And as some of you know, we moved part of our furniture and belongings there, well at least what we could rescue...So when "they" came early in the morning, they barged in and searched the whole house. Then, they got to the kitchen. They opened the fridges - we have two and one freezer - they said :
What is that? Why do you have two fridges and one freezer?
Tarek replied : Can't you see we are 4 families living under one roof ?
But why do you have two fridges and one freezer? Who are you feeding ? Who are you cooking for ?
Tarek tried explaining to them that two of the fridges were unplugged and only one was functional. Besides we have no electricity. But they kept insisting.

You must tell us who you are cooking for ?
Tarek nearly lost his temper. Can't you see the fridge and the freezer are unplugged, can't you see they are empty, can't you see we have no electricity and the generator is down...? Why are you harassing us like that?
They kept pressing with their questions despite the obvious. Then, they took Tarek for interrogation. I swear I felt labor pains and I felt I was about to deliver there and then...
Tarek disappeared for the whole morning and afternoon. I thought I was never going to see him again, ever. But praise to Allah, they released him.
They finally believed we were not cooking for anyone. What is the matter with these people, have they not seen empty fridges before ? What is this curse that has befallen us ?"

Auntie Afaf, still clutching her handbag tightly, said :

"Wallah this is nothing compared to what I had to go through."

Auntie Afaf in her 70's is originally from Hit, the much hated Anbar "soonnee" province. She used to live there with her son, daughter in law and her grandchildren.

"Why, don't you know what they did to us in Hit? Tell them Sumaya, tell them..."

And as Sumaya was about to relate her mother's story, Auntie Afaf interrupted and said:

"No wait. I will tell them..."

As if to regain ownership of something...

She redressed her white scarf hanging loosely on her hair, sat upright and took an even more solemn tone...

" They came...and they did not stop coming.
It started one day at noon just in time for lunch. I had been up all morning.
I baked the bread in the tannoor
(a natural, oven on wood, usually located outside the house), prepared the Ambar rice (a very perfumed and rare kind of rice) and Bamiah stew (okra or ladies fingers - a favorite dish among Iraqis).
Of course, it was a struggle finding the Bamiah and the meat but the rice I had saved for a special occasion. You see, it was my son's 40th birthday. And I wanted it to be a surprise...We wanted to pretend things were normal...and feel a little alive again..."

Everyone nodded in sympathy, understanding and recognition.

"I had prepared everything and we were just about to sit and have our lunch and my son and the grand children were overjoyed with the surprise...it had been a long time...
They came. They did not even knock on the door...They hammered at the door and broke it down...Ya Allah, everytime I remember this day, I feel I am about to die...

There were 8 of them. Two went upstairs to the bedrooms, two in the living room, two in the basement and two in the kitchen...where we were seated just about to eat.
We heard a lot of noise, I thought to myself, this is it, they destroyed everything we own...lots of slamming and banging, upstairs, downstairs and in the living room...

The two American soldiers in the kitchen with their armor and boots kicked the closets, the drawers...everything. I was secretly praying that they do not touch the saucepans on the cooker...Ya Allah...I will never forget that day...

They said : What is that?

My son who is fluent in English explained that I had just prepared lunch for a special occasion...

One of them took the lid off and said : That smells good...
And he removed the other lid...the Ambar rice I had saved all these months...
By then, the others had finished their round of destruction...He called them in the kitchen...Another one said : That smells good...am hungry.

I noticed Auntie Afaf clutching even more tightly on her handbag, her fingers turning into a reddish blue...

He continued...So what's cooking here ? My son trying to avoid problems explained to them the bamiah and rice...Sounds good, the American said.

They shoved us all in the living room, clearing the table for themselves, ordered my son's wife and me to pour the food and they grabbed the fresh bread...
What could we do, they were armed...They sat down, ate everything whilst we were in the next room hearing them eat and talk...
They did not leave one grain of rice, not one slice of bread...Of course forget the bamiah...it was gone... My poor son, it was his birthday and the children were crying from fear and hunger...
Then they opened the fridge. I had saved a few bottles of Pepsi for the children. They opened the bottles, drank it all and burped.
Then, they left saying the food was good and they promised they would be back for more... We stayed without food for over 48 hours after their first visit.

Wallahee, since that day, they took it a habit and came regularly, under the pretext of searching. They would check what was cooking for the day.
And everytime it was the same thing, they would push us all into the living room and they would sit down and eat our lunch and we would stay without food...
In the end I stopped cooking and life had become too unbearable...
One morning we left everything...I took nothing but my handbag.
May Allah's curse fall upon them.

"Ameeeen" was the response in total unanimity.

"By Allah, Afaf, the same thing happened to me...They also came, emptied the little I had in the frigde and ate what I cooked but it was worse, much worse. They took my money and jewelry...What could I do ? I am an old widow alone and my son was not there to protect me... "said Umm Issam.

"May Allah curse them again and again".

"Ameeeeen " again and again in unison.

Auntie Noora who is usually very talkative was conspicuously silent that afternoon.
She coughed signaling it is her turn now.

"You think this is traumatic? Ha!
Suhair's husband (her eldest daughter) was kidnapped 4 weeks ago – Jaysh al Mahdi.
He got beaten up so badly, we did not recognize him when he was found dumped in the street next door...But praise to Allah he is still alive.
They wanted 100'000 dollars...They took his car, we sold Suhair's house and her jewelry...They accepted 75'000 dollars - They gave us a "discount".
What a pity and how sad, her husband has lost all speech since. Suhair tells him eat, eat, look what I cooked for you...He just stares at her.

May Allah, curse them ...over and over again."

"Ameeeeeen" was the choral response.

"So Layla, how did you cook this dolma in olive oil ? You are right, meat is not good for your health...Nuts are too expensive, nothing beats dates in the Klechah.
Anymore tea ? This tea revives the soul..."

And just as we seemed adamant about holding onto our traditional tea gatherings and pretending we are a "little" alive...
And just as Auntie Afaf seemed so adamant about holding onto her empty handbag, the only thing she had left, so are other Iraqis elsewhere...
Iraqis holding on to their dignity whilst clutching on their empty pots.
Waiting for the good will of others, at the doors of churches, mosques, ngo's, neighbors...
Waiting for someone to give them their fill for the day...and wondering what's cooking, if anything.

Maybe Nancy Pelosi, another American "gourmet taster" (like her brave boys in Eye Raq) touring Damascus, visiting other cooks specializing in Persian delicacies, can tell us what's new on the Iraqi menu .
Or should we address the chief gastronomer, Condi Rice and her Iranian counterpart during their next tete a tete meeting ?
Would someone ask them what more and what else can they possibly be cooking for the Iraqis ?

May Allah curse all of them for ever and ever...and you can repeat after me :


Painting: Iraqi artist, Sadiq Toma. " The Hurricane", 1996

April 2, 2007

Sleep in Peace.

Did you know that the 28th of March was the 7th International Sleeping Day?
Yet another "special day" was celebrated by a cozy nap "en masse" in the rustic French town, Bordeaux.
A photo depicted dozens of people lying on their ritualistic little pillows specially carried for the occasion , marking the day with a wonderful collective siesta.

Who said the Arab world is behind in innovations?
We too had our special day of sleep and it coincidentally took place the same day as the collective snooze in Bordeaux. However, ours was called the Arab Summit.

For those of you who don't know what the Arab summit is, I will give you a brief description.
Heads of states, Excellencies, Ambassadors, Royalties, gather every few years to discuss the same agendas except at each Summit, you can be sure that the "Arab condition" has worsened.
The reason is quite simple. "They" are either catatonically asleep or in some profound "reverie".
Does not really matter, the end result is always the same - No results.

A good example was Jalal Talabani, our kurdish peshmerga turned buffoon, the president of the New Iraq. He was in full oneiric vagary himself.
Jalal Talabani corpulently collapsed in one of these opulent golden armchairs, flushed rosy cheeks, blushing with puerile excitement at the wonderful developments taking place in Iraq.
He stated unequivocally that the "liberation" of Iraq was the "best thing" that happened since the last Arab summit in 2002.

His indicators of overall wellness of the Iraqi population rested on the following:
- salaries have increased "substantially" from 150 $ to 250 $. Of course he forgot to mention two other indicators, namely over 150% inflation and an unemployement rate around 75%.
- there is a democratically elected government and of course he forgot to mention that his government ministries are made up of death squads and torture militias.
- that Iraq was now an open market economy and all the signs of an economic boom were looming on the horizon (no joke). And again our buffoon forgot to mention that Iraq is now considered the second most corrupt country in the world after Bangladesh.

I am sure Arab countries are already coveting Bangladesh ranking as no.1.
They will compete for first position in next year's survey and am certain the "ambitious Iraqi government" will win the top prize as the most corrrupt in the world.

His Excellency, Amr Moussa, the Ambassador of the Arab Leg - sorry meant League, having proclaimed the peace process dead a few months back, revived it.
The Pharaonic high priest who previously embalmed mummies suddenly gave them the secret elixir of life. Who said we can't resuscitate the dead ?!

"Al Rayess" Hosny Mubarak assured us on the other hand, that the region could not handle more turmoil and another war. No shit?
Al Rayess also forgot to mention that he (as well as the Saudi monarch) were the first to agree to the Coalition of the Brave Farts bombing of Baghdad on condition that this time around Saddam Hussein be removed from power.

H.M of the Hashemite Kingdom had his speech composed by Buckingham palace and Downing street whilst his charming wife was touring Oxford and mobilizing opinions against poverty.
I am terribly touched now...I am even a little teary.

Talking about tears, that reminds me of the Lebanese Government.
Two delegations were sent instead of one, each representing a faction. Fortunately however, they managed to deliver one speech instead of two saving Fuad Seniora more shedding of tears...

Syria's President Bashar al Capone al Assad was there too.
They tried embracing him back into the Arab bosom and he looked rather spaced out trying to figure out if his arms were wide enough to embrace the Arabs and the Persians simultaneously. Typical Syrian thinking...I was hoping he would surprise us with something slightly new this time around. But alas, nothing.

As for the Palestinian "freedom fighter" Abbas, he was all smiles. He walked in and out as if he had just won a poker game except his deck of cards were left behind with Olmert.

"Al Kaid" The Colonel, M.Al Qaddafi was absent and am not even sure he was missed.
After having rushed to destroy his WMD's as per the strict orders from Washington, he afforded himself the luxury of yet another white suit, mao style collar on which was pinned a striking green jade color map of somewhere. The African Continent? Palestine? Iraq? Lybia? Go figure...
The important thing is that the brooch was hanging there on his chest along with his slogans...
And in his typical megalomaniac fashion he kept looking from the corner of his eyes upwards as if awaiting further instructions....

Now His Majesty, King Abdullah, the Monarch of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Don't you just love those long titles?) dared call the Iraq occupation "illegal".
Oh thank you your Highness. After 4 years of total destruction - I hope you did not lose too much sleep over it.
In any event, he was quickly reprimanded by the White House for erring from the herd's line.
But let us give the Saudis the benefit of the doubt. They did affirm that Israel may not be interested in peace after all. It only took the Saudis 48 years and 90% of Palestinian land occupied to realize that. Behind their times per chance?
Not really, since they too had joined al Rayess of Egypt in showering the American cowboys with money, logistics and blessings, profusely thanking their uncle Bush for finally delivering the long awaited promise. Regime change in Iraq.

After all, they are your moderate buddies. Their women are not allowed to drive, but they are moderate. So good to know that.
And no one can accuse them of not being true feminists. They do take orders from a woman and are eager to serve, please and satisfy...always. Ask Condi Rice.

As for the rest of the Gulf States, Kuwait, UAE, Oman, Yemen - lots of yawns interrupted by kisses.
By the way seems that a prominent Qatari Emir has purchased a beautiful property in the southern part of Tel Aviv. A small detail "en passant".

Let me see who else was there... Ah right. Sudan, Turkey (sitting far away from the buffoon) and a representative from Iran. His mind was sailing in different waters though.

Meanwhile in Iraq...

Over 350 dead in less than a week and over 500 injured. The militias are back in full swing on a drill and kill rampage...

I,too wanted to have my Arab summit so I spent the whole day on the phone...calling relatives to wish them a happy Mawled Nabawee.(the Prophet Mohamed's Birthday celebration).

Spoke to Radhee. Remember Radhee? The man who got sacked from his job by his Sadrist boss.
Radhee lives in a very "sooooneeeee" neighborhood.

- Radheee, happy Mawled
- Thanks but it was on Friday.
- It was on Saturday.
- Depends on which neighborhood you live in.
- So how is the neighborhood?
- What neighborhood? You mean the Ghost Town?
All shops are closed, all pharmacies are closed, no one can leave the house, no groceries...I am running out of medication, heart medication, hypertension medication, asthma medication and it is getting worse from the sewage, the dust and the mortar explosions...I have no aspirin left, I have nothing left... Kamel's wife sits all day in the kitchen talking to herself, I think she has gone crazy...
"They" came again two days ago...searching. They said: how come you speak good English? I said I learned it from the days of the British. They offered that I "work" for them, they said I looked "smart". I told them I used to be smart, I was a chartered accountant, now am a taxi driver. They left promising to come back again. May God have mercy on us...

And I who thought that "sooneeees" were moderates? Did you not say so at the Arab summit?

Called Auntie Sameera, she babbles on as usual, pauses, catches her breath and rants some more...
- Oh by the way, "they" came again this morning.
- Again?
- But they were polite, they kept saying sorrrry, soorrrry
- And?
- Nothing, but...
- But what auntie Sameera?
- They walked into the living room (auntie has two of them) and said why do you have two living rooms? When did you buy this furniture? I said to them I've had this living room since 1973, we have no visitors, can't you see the dust? Well it looks brand new to me Ma'am was his reply...
Layla , by Allah tell me , what does my living room have to do with the security crackdown?
I am going crazy...Everytime they come, Randa screams for a whole week and you know Wafa'a has not one but two frozen shoulders from the tension...Do you have any Valium or Voltarene? Can't find any...

Called Zakariah.

- So what do you think of the Arab summit?
- What Arab summit? Come and see my condition first then talk to me about the Arab summit.
- But Talabani said there is an economic boom?
- An economic boom huh ? The only "booms" are his own farts and the explosions near my house...

Called Sahar.

- They are so lucky Layla.
- Who is ?
- The cats and the dogs in the streets....at least they can roam freely and no one shoots at them...

Called Munir.

- Do you have ducks I can borrow?
- Munir what ducks? Are you ok?
- Am serious, I want to rear ducks.
- Munir, you have no water to flush your toilet, let alone rear ducks...
- Who said? I have a beautiful pond right in front of my house and give it a couple of days and it will turn into a lake...
- Ah a pond!
- Yes the sewage has turned into a huge pond, so do you have ducks or not?
- Will "they" allow it?
- I guess you are right, I may get arrested for animal rights abuse...

Meanwhile in Northern Gaza.

300 people have fled from the sewage floods which killed two elderly women in their 70's, two toddlers and one teen age girl, injuring 35 others and destroying 100 homes.

Between occupied Iraq and its floods and occupied Palestine and its floods, who said there is no Arab unity ?!

You can go to sleep now, joining the lot from Bordeaux and Riyadh, but before you leave, let me offer you this poem as a lullaby.
It was written by the famous Iraqi poet M.Al-Risafi during Her majesty's colonial rule in Iraq in the 30's and is entitled :

"Freedom as understood by the occupiers"

"People, do not speak
speaking is forbidden.
Sleep, sleep, and do not awaken
victory is only for those
who are asleep.
Postpone in advance
whatever you are supposed to do
and leave behind all understanding
for it is best that you do not understand.
Take root in your ignorance
for it is evil that you become learned men.
As for politics, leave it aside
lest you regret..."

Nite Nite

Painting: Iraqi artist, AbdelAmeer Alwan.