We sometimes wave hello and sometimes stop and exchange a few words from across our "garden fences."
I know that my neighbor, who also lives in Iraqi land, is an editor/publisher of some sort.
The other day, driven by both curiosity and an eagerness to get better acquainted with my neighbor, I invited her over for a virtual cup of coffee.
And since she lives in Uruk Land, I naturally, wanted to find out more...So we chatted a little... I will let you in on our conversation.
First let me introduce you to her. Her name is Paola Pisi and she is the editor of Uruknet.info.
And the following are bits and pieces of our meeting over a virtual cup of coffee...
Since what she had to tell was quite important. I will share it here with you, in its entirety.
So get yourself a cup of coffee, tea or your favorite drink and read on...
I have noticed you've been in the virtual uruknet land for quite a few years now. How did it all start? And today, with so many years of experience being in that virtual land, what are your feelings, impressions, thoughts...
Uruknet started in the spring of 2003, just after the invasion. Its goal was and still is to offer our readers news, comments and analysis from a wide range of sources. With so much propaganda, disinformation and fog of war, it seems to us the battle for information on the issue of Iraq in particular and more in general on the Middle East is paramount in these tragic years.
When we started, it seemed to us that almost everybody was against Iraq, in a way or in another. Four years later that impression has been reinforced by our experience.
Already at the time of the First Gulf War and then during the genocidal embargo, we assisted to a psychological war; even those who condemned the sanctions were at the same time condemning the Iraqi government and Saddam Hussein. In the West this psychological war resulted in a complete isolation of Iraq and after many years it has certainly helped the 2003 invasion of the country.
The US-led war of aggression against Iraq has been an illegal war according to international law and the UN Charter, the Nuremberg’s supreme international crime. All the following effects coming from that invasion are therefore illegal and outside the UN Charter.
All the crimes following the invasion have to be seen as the result of that invasion and ascribed to it. Opposing that war of aggression, that supreme international crime, should have meant calling for the respect of international legality and the UN Charter.
The anti-war movement and generally the left never demanded respect of legality and international right. In that case, they would have struggled for the only solution aligned to international law i.e. restoring the status quo ante the unlawful and criminal Anglo-American war of aggression.
Rejecting the illegal aggression carried out against Iraq should have involved the refusal of all its effects as a logical result, first of all the unlawful removal of the legitimate Saddam Hussein's government; and this whatever opinion one has on President Hussein and on the Baath Government.
By all standing international covenants, Saddam Hussein was Iraqi Republic's legitimate President until his assassination. Instead, the so-called anti-war movement and the so-called left have never drawn this logical and legal consequence.
Even those opposing the war have not called for the respect of international law and all its consequences. The legitimate government of Iraq, the only legitimate government of a country illegally invaded and occupied, has been abandoned by the international community while the sectarian Quisling forces were lynching Saddam Hussein and the other members of his government.
Yes, there have been protests on that scandal known as the trial and its many Kafkaesque absurdities. But the only real, serious point to make should have been the international illegality of a trial where the supreme international criminals and their collaborators put on trial their victims. The international community and the so-called anti-war movement have ignored this gargantuan scandal.
Instead, the so-called progressive anti-war movement backed uncritically, almost without exceptions, demonizing campaigns carried out by imperialist propaganda against President Saddam Hussein and the Baath Government.
They never inquired about the soundness of accusations without proofs coming from the same sources that had been spreading falsehood on WMD and on connections with al-Qaeda. On the contrary, "progressive" not only believed - or pretended to believe - to alleged Baath Government’s "crimes", but added to all this another absolutely false slanderous accusation, according to which Saddam Hussein was a servant of the USA and had been put in power by the CIA.
All this was based on anonymous rumors skillfully spread in order to lessen support to the Baath Government, and also based on a picture of Saddam and Rumsfeld together, that has been high-pressure posted millions of times until, although the picture itself doesn't prove anything, ends up by taking the place of missing evidence.
On the occasion of President Hussein's lynching, the only concern for most of the so-called progressive (besides defending legitimate Iraqi President's executioners, Moqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi army) was to insult the assassinated President, writing that he always carried out USA orders, accomplices in his "crimes". Many "left-wing" websites even published this obscenity, signed by Marc Ash, entitled "Puppet kills puppet": http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/010107Y.shtml
Now we got to the shameful point to read on the alternative websites the protest because the Americans haven’t allowed yet the lynching of Ali Hassan al-Majid, Sultan Hashem al-Tai and Hussein Rashid Al-Tikriti. http://www.counterpunch.org/amiri11032007.html
There is no need to comment of course.
The reason of so-called left and anti-war movements' behavior is surely a complex problem. All got mixed up: hired informers, opportunists who had never wanted to be marginalized by politically correct left, and also many people who are acting in good faith but have fallen in traps drawn up by imperialist propaganda (I myself know people absolutely above suspicion who firmly believe that Saddam was a CIA asset, and don't want to understand that the falsehood of "Saddam man of the Americans" has been the winning card the USA played since the first war in order to prevent Western left approval to the Baath government).
A certain role has been played by many opponents to Saddam living in exile in Western countries, who have been working promptly inside several movements, in order to direct them towards a "No to war No to Saddam" line (obviously, I surely don't want to blame all Saddam's opponents who live in exile: there are many of them who are worthy of respect and esteem, like Imad Khadduri or Iraq solidarity-al-Thawra group and many others).
Still, if anyone wants to go to the root of the matter, I think the real reason is that part of the anti-war movement and of the so-called left do not represent a real opposition to imperialism, but they rather represent the other face of imperialism itself. Her Majesty's Opposition, necessary and subsidiary to the system preservation.
All these reasons explain why the so-called anti-war movement – with just a few exceptions – has never supported the Iraqi resistance. Not only that, but a large and important part of the so-called anti-war movement has expressed sympathy and solidarity with the occupation troops, “our troops”, an occupation army responsible for more than one million Iraqi deaths and four millions Iraqi displaced.
This obscene contradiction is not even perceived as such by the “anti-war”.
It’s as if a pro-Palestinian movement needed to express solidarity and sympathy to the “Israeli” army or as if one of the moral and political imperatives of the anti-Nazi resistance were to express sympathy and solidarity to the Nazi army and the SS.
There have been in these past few weeks a little debate on why the anti-war movement hasn’t supported the Iraqi resistance.
As I said before, the so-called anti-war movement – from the first moment of the illegal war of aggression – has never asked for the respect of the UN Charter, for the restoration of the status quo ante bellum, the respect of international legality, in the case the restoration of the legitimate government of Iraq.
Instead, when the legitimate president of Iraq was captured by the illegal Occupation, one of the founding fathers of this Left, Noam Chomsky, wrote an article that started with the following paragraph:
“All people who have any concern for human rights, justice and integrity should be overjoyed by the capture of Saddam Hussein, and should be awaiting a fair trial for him by an international tribunal.” http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=4736
(Then he continues with the usual lies of Saddam Hussein man of Washington, and therefore the responsibility of the USA in his “crimes”).
On this basis, how could anyone think that THIS anti-war movement, incapable of the most bashful babbling in favour of international right, could ever support legitimate Iraqi national resistance?
To all this we could add that since the very beginning Zionist and imperialist propaganda started speaking about "Sunni" and not "national" resistance (after having falsely described as "Sunni" the Baath Government, when under Saddam Hussein deputies were predominantly Shiite and vice-prime minister was a Christian), and many people fell into this trap too.
The head-on collision between resistance on one side and occupying and collaborationist sectarian militia on the other was described as a Shiite/Sunni civil war. Now many believe - or pretend to believe - that resistance places anonymous bombs that massacre thousands of innocent civilians.
If you are given only a few sentences to describe the Iraqi "experiment", how you would qualify it?
The “experiment” is completely succeeded; Iraq doesn’t exist anymore. The country has been completely destroyed, its People is still being exterminated through a genocide ignored by the international community and even by part of the “progressive left”. It’s difficult to find precedents of such barbarity in recent history. Iraq doesn’t exist anymore, maybe one day…
Being editor in charge of Uruknet.info and working around the clock, I am sure you have seen tons and tons of articles, news clips, papers on Iraq. Bearing that in mind, what are your views on both the mainstream media and the alternative media?
It’s obvious that in an imperial system the mainstream media are in general functional to that system. There are good exceptions and of course many good journalists and writers who still do a very decent, honest work.
More problematic is the situation in the so-called alternative media. Here we have many good websites that offer excellent articles and analysis but there are also many other alternative websites that are the face of a fake opposition to the system they claim to oppose.
It’s evident that a fake democracy needs a fake opposition, based on weak ideas, if any. There are also too many alternative websites that seem to have the goal to distract their readers, with a conspiracy theory after the other.
Other websites publish all and its contrary, without a vision, a political line, without some ideas on priority and hierarchical importance. Too many go just after the mood of the day, the coup de theatre, the sensationalism, maybe just to have more readers.
In many cases the panorama is quite depressing, a postmodernism used to hide its emptiness. Again, as I said, there are many excellent alternative websites and many important writers, journalists and analysts in the alternative media (and sometimes even in the mainstream media).
So what do you think has been one of the major worst faults of the Western Left and anti- war movement?
To all the above, I add that maybe this is the worst fault of a substantial part of western left and anti-war movements: their tendency in favor of Moqtada al-Sadr, presented to the Western public as the great leader of the Iraqi resistance.
It’s a detail that all the Iraqi nationalist websites that support the Iraqi resistance write just the opposite about al-Sadr (often his Mahdi army is called the Anti-Christ army), one of the main enemies. Basically, all Iraqi bloggers, (right, left, centre, pro-Saddam, anti-Saddam, pro-resistance, anti-resistance) denounce continuously the monstrous crimes of al-Sadr’s Mahdi army.
All one has to do is to read the testimonies of the Iraqi displaced in Jordan and Syria; many among them stated that they fled Iraq to escape the persecutions by the Mahdi Army. But in the West, many among those who claim to defend the Iraqi people, praise continuously the virtues of al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army, responsible for the ethnic cleansing and co-responsible for the Iraqi genocide.
Therefore, most of the Western left and anti-war movements have done worse than non supporting the Iraqi resistance: they backed with all their forces Moqtada al Sadr and his death squads, engaged not only in fighting resistance, but also in Iraq ethnic cleansing: in this way many of self-styled progressives made themselves accomplices in Iraqi genocide.
A fake opposition from within the imperialist system can’t but support a fake opposition within the Quisling Iraqi government, as the al-Sadr’s movement.
In some cases there have also been some exiled opponents of Saddam Hussein, like Sami Ramadani in the UK Stop the War, the most Sadrist group of the antiwar movement in the West, whose demonstrations have seen the presence of Sheik Zangani, one of the many spokespersons of al-Sadr. Obviously the work of these Iraqi exiled have been possible because of the more general orientation pro-Iran and pro-Sadr of the most part of the so called left in the west.
From the beginning, the western left allied with al-Sadr since the so called Najaf uprising. Sadr had all the characteristics to become the hero of this left: he had welcomed the US as liberators and after the invaders had captured the Iraqi president, Sadr organized a popular demonstration to ask for Saddam Hussein’s killing without trial (and at last he’s been given what he had asked), and all the media in the West would write that Sadr was the son of a Shiite ayatollah killed by Saddam (obviously this is not true, there is no proof that the Iraqi government killed Mohammed Sadeq al-Sadr). Supporting Sadr for the left meant to not being accused to support the Baath or the Saddamists, which is to say, the resistance.
When finally al-Sadr got into the political process, the support from the western left has increased; in this way the left could support the quisling government and the big lie of an Iraqi government independent or quasi-independent from the occupation. Since after Najaf the Mahdi army didn’t fight the American occupation but focus on the killing of thousands of Iraqis, the western left didn’t have any problem; it could support our troops and the fake "Iraqi resistance" at the same time.
But the worst had still to come. At least from the first attack against the Samarra’s mosque, it’s been clear that the Mahdi army didn’t participate just to the killing of some few targets but it was doing a bloody ethnic cleansing in Baghdad and in the South of Iraq, slaughtering Sunni, nationalists, secular Shiites, and more in general anyone who would dare to oppose the occupation. Only in the three days immediately after Samara attack, the Sadr’s death squads massacred more than 3,000 innocent Iraqi civilians in Baghdad and occupied and destroyed more than 100 Sunni mosques.
On many Iraqi websites and blogs appeared hundreds of testimonies, photographs, videos of these crimes committed by these sadistic Sadrist psychopaths.
We’ve seen photos of children and babies massacred, with their eyes pulled out, just because they were Sunni.
In spite of the atrocious job made by the western mainstream media, some information about the Mahdi army was available for all to know and understand. We have all read stories of the sadrists killing people inside their own ministries, in particular the minister of health and the cruel and revolting persecution of the Palestinians living in Iraq by the Mahdi army.
What have the western left and antiwar movement done in front of all this?
They have given their support to this monster. The most absurd conspiracy theories started to appear in the so-called alternative media. The crimes that all the testimonies and the Iraqi victims denounced as committed by the Mahdi army were instead the work of improbable American death squads. Known and unknown alternative writers wrote that the western media wanted to criminalize al-Sadr, when actually the western media was doing quite the opposite.
Of course there are also US death squads in Iraq, but the existence of the death squads created and funded by the Occupying power cannot and must not be used to deny any involvement of the Badr Organisation and the Mahdi Army in the current Iraqi genocide. The civil war is clearly the aim of the occupation forces that try with any means to incite sectarian fights, to destroy the Arab, Iraqi national identity, so as to finally carry out the project of the tripartition of the country and one of the main means used by the Occupying power to create a civil conflict in that country is exactly the use of the sectarian militias.
One of the worst lies coming from the left was that al-Sadr was seen by the Iraqi nationalists and the Iraqi resistance as the leader able to unite the country against the American occupation. The most sectarian, and extremist of the Iraqi politicians was sold to the western public as the progressist, nationalist al-Sadr, the hero of the western antiwar crowds. In this way the left has promoted the genocide of the Sunni, nationalist Iraqis and made a true propaganda campaign, worse than Fox news.
It’s obvious that many of the promoters of al-Sadr in the West cannot be in good faith. The information on what was happening in Iraq was available to everyone.
As I said, the Iraqi websites supporting the Iraqi resistance have always been full of information denouncing the crimes of the Mahdi army and the resistance sees the Mahdi army as an enemy more dangerous than the occupation. It’s true that most of these websites are in Arabic but the translations were available on the internet.
There have also been several Iraqi bloggers, from all political tendencies and all agree on one thing: the terror coming from al-Sadr’s death squads. Why? Everybody in Iraq knows a friend or a relative or a neighbor who has been kidnapped, tortured and killed by the Mahdi army. Naturally many Western writers, journalists and bloggers who are not specialized in the Iraqi situation have been defending al-Sadr in good faith as a result of the many years of propaganda and disinformation that brought to a compete mystification of the reality on the ground. But whoever directs this choir surely is not in good faith.
When Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was lynched and assassinated by the Mahdy Army, the western left had to explain to its public opinion, completely disgusted by what had seen on TV, that what they had seen was actually the result of fantastic theories, circulated by the western progressists and antiwar campaigner to once again brainwash the population. It was not the al-Sadr movement who lynched the Iraqi President, as we all had watched on TV. No, it was... (you can fill this space with whatever you like: Americans, anti-Sadrists, everyone but the real responsible). The antiwar movement’s intellectuals had to cover once again the responsibilities of this monster.
Do you personally have any concrete examples that points to the above and would like to share ?
Just two episodes that I can tell you since I was directly involved.
Last year Gabriele Zamparini and I wrote a little piece on the kidnapping, torture and killing of one of President Saddam Hussein’s lawyer, Kahmis al-Obeidi. Providing qualified testimonies, we indicated as probable killers the Mahdy Army.
The BRussells Tribunal published an article by one Max Fuller where the author accused Zamparini and I to "do exactly what the occupation wanted". The aim of the BRussells Tribunal and Fuller was to defend the Mahdi Army and the Badr Brigades and to accuse whoever dared to expose to do exactly what the occupation wanted.
We replied with a long, detailed article where, one by one, all the lies of this Fuller and his supporters were unmasked and exposed for what they were. An inept attempt to hide the truth, defend the horrible crimes of the Mahdi army, the Badr brigades and obviously Iran. This Fuller had never written anything on Iraq before emerging as an expert on the Iraqi situation. His only goal was to provide a smokescreen to hide what the Shiite militias were doing in Iraq. The Brussells Tribunal is still selling Fuller’s lies to the four corners of the planet.
The second episode is even more revolting, if possible.
After the lynching and assassination of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, very few groups and internet websites expressed any real criticism and condemnation.
Among these, two linked websites: Workers World and International Action Center (the latter being the organization of Ramsey Clark, one of Saddam Hussein’s lawyers). These two organizations have also organized a protest demonstration for the occasion. This would have been a great job if the first preoccupation of these people had not been to defend the assassins of the Iraqi President!
Workers World issued a statement a few minutes after the lynching of the Iraqi president; http://www.workers.org/2007/editorials/saddam-hussein-0111/
“...The Pentagon, which in fact is against any Iraqis who fight for their sovereignty, has also launched an offensive against the Shiite-based Mahdi Army. The Bush gang is scrambling to come up with a way of sending more troops to Iraq than those available in the U.S. Army and Marine Corps, National Guard and Reserves...”
Sara Flounder, a co-director of the International Action Center immediately after Saddam's lyinching, posted a shameful article in defence of al-Sadr and his drill boys http://www.workers.org/2007/world/iraq-0111/ ):
"It is also suspicious that an unofficial video was released showing alleged Mahdi Army members taunting Hussein. Hussein’s assassination follows news that the U.S. has stepped-up attacks and arrests of members of the Mahdi Army, led by Moqtada al-Sadr. This offensive too is part of a desperate attempt to further divide the country and cut off any avenues of negotiation or phased withdrawal for the U.S. forces.
According to sources who monitor Iraqi resistance web sites, these have contained messages warning resistance fighters that the U.S. occupiers are trying to provoke battles between the resistance and the Mahdi Army. These messages urge fighters to make the main target the U.S. occupation forces, and where possible to convince Mahdi Army militia forces to join the resistance against the U.S."
In the same article, Mrs. Flounder insulted President Hussein and sang the praises of the Iranian mullahs:
“In the 1980s Washington was ready to collaborate with the Saddam Hussein government when it wanted to use the Iraqis against the Iranian Revolution with the Iraq-Iran war. Saddam Hussein was not executed because the U.S. occupation forces considered him a dictator. Although he had in the past been willing to make deals and to maneuver with imperialism, Washington saw his real crime as his refusal to hand over sovereignty or the control of the rich resources of Iraq.”
( After all, not only the ultra pro-Iran Workers world but the most part of the western left has always taken the side of Iran against Iraq; when they had the choice between a reactionary theocracy and a socialist government, the western left had no doubts. Iran has become the symbol of the fight against imperialism and capitalism. )
Workers World website is strictly linked to Ramsey Clark organization. After three day this shameful article was reposted on IAC (Ramsey Clark's OFFICIAL website
Mrs. Sara Flouders and IAC center " organized protest demonstrations on Dec. 30 against the execution of Saddam" Hussein" (and in support of his executioners? ).
After Saddam's assassination Workers world and IACenter posted other articles in defence of his assassins, Moqtada al-Sadr and the Mahdi army.
But Sara Flouders went indeed beyond every limit. She wrote that the resistance websites praise Moqtada and the Mahdi army. Of course it's a lie: all the resistance websites hate that monster. Maybe they hate more al-Sadr than they do the occupiers themselves. So doing, Mrs. Flounders is besmirching the National Iraqi Resistance.
After having read Mrs. Flounders article, I sent her the following letter. Obviously I did not receive a reply.
Sent: Friday, January 05, 2007 1:41 AM
Subject: For the attention of Mr. Sara Flounders
Dear Mrs. Flounders,
I've just read your article "Bush prepares to escalate Iraq war".
"It is also suspicious that an "unofficial video" was released showing alleged Mahdi Army members taunting Hussein. Hussein's assassination follows news that the U.S. has stepped-up attacks and arrests of members of the Mahdi Army, led by Moqtada al-Sadr. This offensive too is part of a desperate attempt to further divide the country and cut off any avenues of negotiation or phased withdrawal for the U.S. forces.
According to sources who monitor Iraqi resistance web sites, these have contained messages warning resistance fighters that the U.S. occupiers are trying to provoke battles between the resistance and the Mahdi Army. These messages urge fighters to make the main target the U.S. occupation forces, and where possible to convince Mahdi Army militia forces to join the resistance against the U.S.”
We too monitor Iraq resistance websites, and we have found only articles and messages blaming Mr. Moqtada al-Sadr and his genocidal gang for having assassinated the Iraqi President in a sordid sectarian lynching and for mass murdering iraqis. Probably we are monitoring different resistance websites.
This is indeed the first time that I see an article condemning an assassination and praising the assassins. Moreover, as far I as know, the Mahdi army fights against the Iraqi National Resistance.
Could you be so kind to tell me which are those resistance websites that defend Mr. Al-Sadr, so that I too can monitor them?
PS: These are some pictures from Sadr City:
And as I said, I have not received a reply to this day.
This visit will be continued in Part 2 over a cup of afternoon tea. So do you join us, again.
Painting: Iraqi artist, Ahmad Sheyban.