April 25, 2008

Fresh Impressions from Baghdad.


I have a distant relative who lives in England. He went to Baghdad a month ago via Erbil, no visa required in his case as he holds the British nationality.

He stayed in Erbil for a few days and went to Sulaymania.

In Erbil, he says he needed "a translator" as Arabic was hardly spoken there. Thankfully, he managed with English.

He stayed in Sulaymania for a few days then head to Baghdad to visit his family and his in-laws whom he has not seen in several years.

These are his impressions of Baghdad today.

- Overall, most Baghdadis he met, both Sunnis and Shias are totally fed up with the Mullahs and their doctrines. Most Iraqis really want a "secular country" and a "secular government." ( Well they had a secular country before their "liberation" - bunch of Idiots!)

- The Baghdadis he met, both Sunnis and Shias (his wife is a Shia by the way) are quite happy to see Muqtada go for ever. They are sick and tired of the Mahdi Army and they see Iran's DIRECT hand over the latter. They also understand that Iran's new game having backed the other Iranian puppets (Maliki & Hakeem) is to weaken the present "government" so it can have another center of power more loyal to it than Maliki and Co who "looks as if he is too much in the American Camp."

- Sadr's support is not widespread as "analysts" in the West like to believe.
Sadr's support is limited to his own militia. According to this relative, even people who live in Sadr City are fed up with him and his gang, since the residents are forced to pay on a monthly basis some "commission" to the Mahdi gangs - a form of tax that goes directly to support the Sadr militias.

- "Iranian tourists" have swamped Baghdad. You can find them freely roaming there, with big concentrations in Al-Khadhem area (lieu of a religious Shrine). Next to Iranian "tourists", one can also find "lots of Bahrainis."

Even though this relative didn't visit Nejaf and Kerbala this time around, but he said he heard that both these places are full of "tourists" as well.

- In the "all sooooooooooneee" Ghettoes, like Aadhamiya, people are aware that Maliki is an Iranian backed sectarian, son of a bitch, but in support of his latest move against Sadr, whom they detest and with good reason since he exterminated half of the Sunni population, they even put up Maliki's pictures in a few grocery stores, encouraging him to finish off the Mahdi militia. I don't blame them.

- According to this distant relative, most of the Sahwa members are young men aged between 18 and 25, they are trying to keep some sense of law and order in the Sunni ghettos by keeping both the AQ and the Shiite militias away from them - which means that today "Aadhamiya has become one of the safest places in Baghdad." Hope it stays that way.

- There are two other neighborhoods that are relatively safe today in Baghdad; Al-Mansur and Karrada. And these three neighborhoods, Aadhamiya, Kerrada and Al-Mansur are the places most frequented by the Baghdadis. Curfew is still in place from 10 pm to 7 am all over Baghdad !

- Since Baghdad is clearly divided into walled off areas, areas like Al-Amil, Fadil... are no entry places. They are considered "most dangerous pockets where both militias and gangs reign."

- Again, according to this relative, "there's an upsurge of secular thinkers and publications in Baghdad", which according to him is a healthy reaction to both the sectarian ideological Shiite political climate and to Iran. (Again, what a bunch of sell-out idiots. You had that before!)

- The majority of women in both "predominantly" Sunni and Shiite areas are veiled, and it is rare to find a woman walking around with an uncovered head. YET, the cafés by the river are back to serving alcohol. Well, the ones he visited.

- In Basrah, the minute the Shiite militias of Al-Mahdi were "conquered" the cafés serving alcohol re-opened in no time. Seems that Iraqis are very secular indeed when it comes to their regular drink but not when it comes to women.

- "Baghdad has become ugly" this relative says. Concrete, wires and checkpoints everywhere and he adds "It will need ages before it returns to what it once was."

End of Report. Enjoy your "liberation."

Painting: Iraqi artist, Haidar Al-Basri.