Tuesday, December 30, 2003

It is going to be a great year, no question. Go get drunk and promise you will not watch the news for the next three days, it's all bad anyway.
Peace, out!

Friday, December 26, 2003

More from Faiza. here and here (look for the bits where it says "translation").
You really should go read what she writes. try to imagining a nasal whine and words thrown at you at machine gun speed, it will help visualize how Faiza would talk to you. There was a time when I spent more time in Raed's house than at my parents and Faiza is almost like one of my mom's sisters to me. She has a very evolved sense of rightousness, you better have a good explantion for your actions, you would get a lecture otherwise.

and please tip the translator, ahem ahem.
Tonight the daily thuds started a bit earlier. It was around 10 and MBC2 was showing [Sleepless in Seattle], I am a bit embarrassed to say this, but I am a sucker for a Meg Ryan movie. The only problem was the sound of the explosions was a bit too close, it wasn’t just the thud we got used to the last two days but a very deep rumble as well, My mother couldn’t stand it any longer after a while and decided to go hide under her bed pillow instead of exchanging glances after each round of explosions and trying hard to guess where that is. It is the third night now, can anyone please tell me what is going on?

There is a lot that is not being reported and I am not talking about International media, they take what they like and leave. I am talking about the local Iraqia TV, I would have thought that the attacks and explosions are worth a report in the local news, but it seems al Iraqia is just not interested.
The day before yesterday a mine exploded in the Jamia underpass, three Iraqis died and the road was blocked for a number of hours. Does al-Iraqia report? Of course it doesn’t. Today me an my cousins went to get sandwiches from Harthiya street, all the talk in the fast food place was about an explosion just an hour earlier, as we drive away we see a Humvee in the middle of the road, we have to turn back the street is blocked because of the mentioned explosion, The ministry of oil was attacked, SOMO (the sales department in the Ministry of Oil) had a car bomb put in front of it. Does al-Iraqia report? No it doesn’t. The editors there don’t seem to get it, for the foreign media it might be easy to hide part of the picture because their viewers don’t live here. But for Iraqia, turning itself into the good news channel only makes it lose any hope of credibility. Think of it, they don’t have it to lose it.

The other day my uncle, after taking a bottle of nice Lebanese wine I bought for myself, gave me a summary of the policies of various arab media organizations from his point of view.
Want the good news only? Read al-sabah, the lovey-dovey-oh-no-problem-in-this-world paper sponsored by the coalition.
Want the horrible, disturbing version of the news? Read azzaman, news of deaths and assassinations galore.
Want to get your blood pressure up? Watch the arab news networks.
He, and so do we, read all of them. Somewhere in that mess is what is really happening but you need to read the whole lot.

Oh and here is the link to our THIRD film for newsnight.

Thursday, December 25, 2003

I mean .. Don't freak out!
anyone can translate whatever he wants
anyone can say whatever he wants
I mean .. unless its pro-saddam or anti-bush or pro-terrorism or ..

Explosions didn't stop yesterday, nothing new, but .. mmm.. did anyone else hear the sirens? or was it just another nightmare?
usually my nightmares have either Italian girls dumping me, or American soldiers stopping me on check points. But this one was really genuine.

After investigating Abu-Hasan (the night guard), unfortunately it appeared NOT to be a nightmare
(ouch! .. I just started to trust my imagination again)

sirens explosions sirens explosions sirens explosions
weeo booom bom bom weeo wouou bmbm

Fairy tale of the day?
I met a Santa Claus with plastic face and dirty-soldier-shoes at the convention center, I went there with Hamsa and Jo to register(?) Emaar and the red-plastic-face decided to attack us and say "Muarreeeeeeeeeee Christmaaaaaasssss"
"mmmm .. What?" is all that i could say.

sirens explosions sirens explosions sirens Xmas

oh dear, now this was not meant to happen.
A certain site Raed has linked to, a site we do not aprove of neither support ideologically, has translated the last blog I and Raed wrote and decided to use it as proof of certain weapons used in a recent incident. Neither I nor Raed are weapons experts and we have not been asked for permission by the person who translated to arabic or the persons who operate that site. We have nothing to do with them. I would even say it is regretable that we are quoted on that site.
We went thru this talk yesterday, me and raed, and were not sure whether to link to it or not, and this is what came out of it.
I repeat, we don't know them and I don't think they would like us if they met us. Now please don't plant a bomb at our door, let's keep this civil.

Wednesday, December 24, 2003

The same thing exactly happened last night, at around eleven the battle starts. You hear distant thuds, it sounds like someone jumping on the floor above you. When i go out i can't see any flashes but the thuds are very numerous like a proper battle, and you can also hear the sound of distant helicopters. it went on until 1am last night. Tonight it has just started 10 minutes ago. I am more than glad I am no where near where that is happening.
You kind of listen carefully for a while wondering whether it will come closer or not. Thankfully it is only the sound of helicopters going by that gets closer.
I spent last night in my family's house.
Everyone looked very moody and grumpy, Khaled was having problems with uni_girls, Majed was studying for his religion examination, mom was typing more and more diaries on her PC, and my father was reading something.
The boom boom boom thing happened at midnight, and no one had enough energy even to wonder what was happening, but the breaking news at Al-Jazeera tv said American fighters were bombing AdDora, where one of my uncles lives.
My father decided to call them and see what happened, but they were sleeping! my cousin said: "they are using cluster bombs, and we can hear the sound of a 57 (an Iraqi anti-craft gun) shooting back, but everyone here is sleeping"
What?? where did the 57 come back from!!

Today some street fighting happened at AdDora too. Naseem - the guy working in the internet cafe` - was telling me about Fedayeen attacking American troops, "there were dozens of them", and he added with a smile "I'm sure it was a 57 yesterday"

I was surprised to discover some sites putting pictures and speeches about the resistance!
neither me nor Salam expected to see such organized "resistance" signs.

Sometimes I feel completely lost, I can't see the whole picture.
No one can say what is going on.

Reema, the young sister of Hamsa, was telling me about the demonstrations happening in her college. "Some of them were pro-Saddam, others were anti-Saddam. But an hour later it started being more complicated, stupid people were shouting strange things about Shi'aa and Sunna"

What Shi'aa?? What Sunna!!
That doesn't sound very funny!

Tara emailed me form Canada, she's coming back to Baghdad in a couple of weeks. I'm not sure if my offer of exchanging-worlds would really work.
I can't see myself having a "normal" life.
How boring..

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Iraq Blog Count. an excellent idea.
More Iraqis online than you would have thought eh?

S/He calls the family in baghdad blog a [Blog Sitcom]. I have just translated Faiza's (the mom) post and sent it to raed but until it is posted on the site I know Faiza will not mind having the translation here.

Take it away Faiza
it is five in the evening.
Electricity just came back, it has been off since five in the morning. I wonder always how families who do not own an electricity generator or have a subscription with a neighborhood one manage washing their clothes or heating their houses since the alternatives are also scarce in the markets. Kerosene and cooking gas are almost totally unavailable on the market and if you find them they are expansive. And when it comes to gasoline, the lines in front of gas stations are so long they go on for kilometers and are amazing and funny.
Life feels harsh and gloomy. Before the war we were for years under sanctions and we got used slowly to the situation. How to survive and manage in our reality. And although we were cut off from the rest of the world (no sat TV, no communication and no internet) everything was banned, prohibited or very regulated, but we were happier than we are now.
I do not know exactly why, but we were like a family living its troubles and secrets, the good ones and the bad ones, in a house that had closed doors and windows. The people abroad would wonder about us, some like us some hate us but we didn’t care much because like many other people each one of us was living his life with its infinite details and sorrows, and having ambitions for a better tomorrow.
And Today, the doors have been pulled out, noise and chaos rule the big house and the people who live in are killing each other, they are stealing from each other and hurting each other. I ask myself where did all this hate hide for so long?
And then a lot of strangers came, looking at us, a few want to help but many more want harm for their own announced or hidden reasons. It doesn’t matter, the result stays the same.
and there is more
How do I start my day? I driver comes to drive me to my work place since I was denied the driving of my own car, it stands there covered in the garage since almost 6 months because of all the incidents.
On my way I go thru the airport highway where all the trees have been cut down for fear of people hiding amongst them attacking the American forces the road looks sad and deserted now, then suddenly speeding convoys of Humvees go by the end of the convoy is an open car with American soldiers standing pointing their rifles at our civilian cars, afraid of a terrorist act!
I tell the driver to slow down and to try to stay away from them as good as he can, just so that we do not become the victims of a stray bullet coming out of the gun of a soldier who came to liberate Iraq
FlyingChair.net is doing an Asia Blog Award thingy and has a Best Iraqi Blog Category. Go on vote for MeMeMeMe.
As Mr. Raed (who I am not sure whether I am speaking with or not, it depends on the state of my cold) as he clearly demonstrated in the previous blog, Mullah Bremer's Fatwa prohibiting the buying and selling of Gasoline on the black market has become just another excuse for the gas sharks to get even more money out of us.

The renamed Iraqi TV Channel [al-iraqia] is trying to do an awarness capaign thing about the evils of selling gasoline on the black market, I guess the only evil being floating it's price properly and getting the true value for it, since it is so scarce. They have an actor doing a gas station ward refusing to sell even one single litre of gas if it wasn't your day (we have now the odd/even rule, certain days for cars with odd numbers and others for cars with even numbers). The truth in the gas station is that the guy who is holding the gas-hose-thingy will ask you just as he gets close to your prescribed 30 litres (yes you get 30 only and you are supposed to be happy with that for two days) he will ask whether you are prepared to pay an extra 10,000 to get another 30. I suspect Mullah Bremer has close gas station owner friends and he just wanted to make them richer with his new rule. The black market has gone insane with prices and you buy it like you are buying hard drugs, in a hurry and in constant fear of being caught.
The all-new Iraqi Police in their ham fisted ways have already managed to kill a guy selling gasoline. Idiots you are supposed to stop them selling gasoline not stop them breathing, they shot him dead, bang bang, just like that and all he did was sell gasoline on the side of the street. Oh god how criminal, he should have ran to a Fundi sheikh and get paid for throwing hangrenades in the streets. New Iraqi Police indeed.
We are off the subject; I CAN NOT see any sense in the new gasoline rules, none at all. It is so ironic that after filling our heads with " you are a rich nation, lotsa oil and shit" talk we have to import gasoline, there is even gasoline coming in from fucking Jordan. Jordan, for fuck's sake, is D.R.Y. we used to give them oil for free and now we have to buy it back. The lord does surely move in mysterious ways, specially when he has the american administration next to him.

hmmm, I am rambling....maybe should check my temperature.

Since I am confined to my mom's I sit watching the News on the Iraqi TV channel. [al-Iraqia] lives in La La Land, the reporters and anchors smile at each other idiotically like they are on some super-nice drug, the footage they show has nothing to do with the news they are reading. The one bit of news which did get my attention was that the Iraqi Police caught three poeple trying to sell forged Iraqi currency, new 25,000 dinar bills. The ones we were told were impossible to forge. I am glad that not too many Iraqis watch that channel because we would have had the same panic we had after the war when al-Jazeera reported that there are tons of forged 10,000 dinar bills circulating.
Highlight of al-Iraqia's broadcast this morning was the Haj Lottery, the pilgrimage to Mecca is soon and in baghdad alone 40,000 have applied to go but only 7,000 are going to be given permits by the Saudis (it will be a total of 30,000 pilgrims from all of Iraq). even al-Jaafari, a GC member whom I respect a lot, was there overseeing this all important lottery.

Today's weather report: Rain, Cold, Wet, Gray, Mud puddles, cars spraying dirty water on you when you walk, people looking grumpy because they can't find kerosene to work the heaters nor is there enough electricity to keep houses warm. Mmmmmmm, much better than sunny yesterday.

Monday, December 22, 2003

Yeah .. that "thing from the opposite sex"'s name is Hamsa (i.e. whisper) and she will eat you alive after reading your post :") (She's more a storm than a whisper..)
We went to an expensive restaurant, food was ok but their wine was very bad, it tasted like vinegar. So I did a small "drama queen" thing and they opened a new bottle of vino rosso for us.

In fact the interesting thing happened before we went to lunch, I went to pick Hamsa from her place and told her that we need to get some petrol for the car first.
She called her father, and the old man came with us to his relative's house, just near by. We knocked the door,
Abu-Hamsa said: we want some petrol
and immediately everyone started acting in a very professional way, the son came outside and led us to the back door, the daughter went to watch the street, and the father came with 30 liters of petrol, looked as her son and daughter and gave them instructions: keep your eyes opened.
I mean! it looked so funny! just if I was buying drugs or something.
"don't give me the money now .. later .. later".
later .. I gave him 15,000 ID and disappeared.
Fun fact: I would have paid 600 ID to get the same "stuff" before the war.
But the man at least gave us "clean stuff", last time I had a problem for a couple of days because of the petrol mixed with I_don't_know_what..


umm.. did u receive that email telling us "your blog is #1 this week in Blogger Forum's weekly Top Ten list". Jo says I'm the biggest "ego freak" she has ever met.

Listen, I must find a new house before the end of the month. Maybe Jo will keep on being my house-mate. (poor girl)
Do u want to start our "raed vs pax" pub or not? we can start having a pub in the same house I'm living in.
wooo!! :")

call me if u didn't die today

I am not only sick I am slowly dying. I think I had 40 degree fever two days ago and I still can't stand straight and I am very bitchy.

Raed calls me once and never does again as if he is going to catch a bug thru the phone, G. calls me just to tell me he might be going on a trip to Syria and say "go go" the moment he hears my cough, my brother doesn't let me use his internet account and the whole world is out to get me. I crawled out of bed wearing a hundred layers of clothing to get to an internet place because I got sick of reading in bed ("all tommorow's parties" and a book called "1000 classic italian recepies"........... don't say a word!). and what does the world look like outside? nice and sunny with wispy clouds in the sky, I told you everything sucks.

The reason I am in such bad health is because of a third Newsnight thing which did not get shown in the end. and although Raed knew I had a very high fever and could barely stand straight his hormones decided that he had to go have lunch with someone form the opposite sex instead of helping with the edit and never came back. I really hope they show it before they go off air for the holidays. and I sure hope Raed didn't enjoy his lunch with her.
too concerned with my own miseries to care about the miseries in the world around me, sorry.

The little cartoon on the left of this page made me laugh, it's the Guardian Unlimited Blogging software review thingy. The reviwer isn't exactly a Blogger fan.

Sunday, December 21, 2003

It was hilarious listening to the son of Gaddafi yesterday, his name is "Sayf el Eslam" (i.e. the sword of Islam), and he looks like the Libyan version of Uday Saddam Husein.
maybe not that bad ..
whatever ..

He was giving us a classic piece of Arabic speech making, but it sounded more rhythmic than usual.

"Arabs" he said "proved they cannot be trusted"
cool man! go on!
"If we take a look at what happened in Iraq, who was responsible for the entire game? who destroyed Iraq? HIS NEIGHBORS .. they were the spear head"
Didn't everyone enjoy the "spear head" part?
"Why do you think we started these weapons programmes in the first place? do u believe they were for us? for Libya? Naaaah.. they were for the Arabs.. we wanted to defend them" ..
umm?? so?? what happened now dude?
"but now .. you know .. we prefer to think about our country, and about our AFRICAN neighbors"
So Africa is the new trend.

And .. it seems that all other missiles were there to defend Arabs, that's the only reason why Gaddafi and his son decided to destroy them all.

The wisdom of the day?
Cut your nails before we cut off your hands


Thursday, December 18, 2003

One day .. TWO MASKS ..

The Iraqi translator, coming to a secondary school at AlAmryya to help "them" arrest students. Students don't have the right to go on demonstrations.
Americans came with pictures of pupils, a list of their names, and arrested them FROM THEIR CLASSES. The headmaster couldn't speak a word.

The Iraqi Fedayi (one of the fedyeen) running after journalists on one of the demonstrations that happened at Adamyya in Baghdad, preventing anyone from taking pictures of people marching there ...
He shot one of my friends .. Wasif .. in his foot.

Too many things happening the last couple of days, it looks that the capture of Saddam started something.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

hey hey hey! Who is playing the big brother's role here?

Fun Fact 1: Salam decided to delete my last entry about Saddam because it was "politically incorrect", with bad taste too

Fun Fact 2: I will change the site's title to :


:") whatever ..

THREE to TEN years behind bars, is what I'll get if "they" got me buying petrol from the "black market"!!!!
I was reading this arabic leaflet (full of grammar mistakes) printed and distributed last week with my eyes opened .. opened very much .. this much >>> OO
Ladies and gentlemen , you either wait for 6 hours in the gas station queue, wondering how to keep theifs and bullets away from your cars, or you'll enjoy our prisons of freedom for the rest of your life.
Other unemployed free people, you either stop drinking and selling petrol or you'll be considered as "criminals", and the new Iraqi courts will put you in freedom cells; comfortable beds with free breakfast.

Monday, December 15, 2003

Why do all the interesting things happen when I am not in baghdad?
at first I couldn't believe it when I heard it, I got too excited when they reported that the vice president Izat Ibrahim was arrested and then it turned out to be nothing, so my reaction was "yeah right". but the images on TV left no chance to doubt. He looked like a tramp getting a physical and for some reason you expected him to bite that soldier's finger a la Hanibal Lecter. But he just sat there. There was another moment when the GC members were describing their meeting with Saddam and told the journalists about the deriding remarks he made when they asked him about the Sadir's assasination and the mass graves, he sounded like he has totally lost it.
I want a fully functioning Saddam who will sit on a chair in front of a TV camera for 10 hours everyday and tells us what exactly happened the last 30 years. I do not care about the fair trial thing Amnesty Int. is worried about and I don'r really care much about the fact that the Iraqi judges might not be fullt qualified, we all know he should rot in hell. but what I do care about is that he gets a public trial because I want to hear all the untold stories

Thursday, December 11, 2003

This is what happens when you sell your soul to the devil, he is allowed to sit on the blogs you write until he wants to put them in his paper.
The scary DVD blog finally is on the G2 pages, here it is:
In the looters' market, a DVD singing the praises of the so-called resistance is selling like the hot bread of Bab al-Agha

Sunday, December 07, 2003

Iraqi Census
More dirt on the issue. I didn’t exactly dig that out it just fell into my lap.
The Census thing was being discussed since August at the Census Bureau, talk about budgets and possible donations from Japan were on the table for a very long time. The Census Bureau got to a point where it was organizing meetings with neighborhood councils to discuss the details of the whole thing. and someone from the Census Bureau says that the papers have been on the GC’s desks from October. I kind of wonder what important issues was the GC pondering so that they have not seen the stack of paper labeled [Census Bureau]? Boys this is a bit embarrassing, it is ot just a nice place to have lunch in. You are supposed to do some governing beside securing CPA deals for your relatives.
I was only complaining about the tragedy that is this government where no one knows what is going on when a friendly gentleman informed me that they must have known because it has been submitted to the GC two months ago and there have been many discussions about the budgeting. So what happened I wonder? And why did anyone allow the situation to get to a point where the NY Times puts up a headline saying *US* REJECTS IRAQI PLAN, not a very nice combination of words you will have to agree, it has [US] and [rejects] and [Iraqi] one after the other, it kind of rubs in the point that it is not really our decision even if we would like it to be.
What is even funnier is that the same gentleman told me that just today the Census Bureau is still having meetings concerning the polling, business as usual, who cares if the GC acts surprised. Maybe, oh god dare I say it, who cares what the GC decides it is the US who will accept or reject.
Dear GC members just for once, just one single time, surprise me and act as if you are on top of things. My father *did* tell me that it is not the GC whom I should be looking at but rather the ministers; they are a very experienced group of people who have done very little wrong until now, something you can not really say about the GC because they have not done much.
Oh, it will be the right ball please; I am too fond of the left one!
I spent most of the day at home reading [Persepolis] -have a look, this is one of the stories it is called The Trip, - a comic book written by Marjane Satrapi. It is too scary how much we have in common, Iraqis and Iranians I mean. The hate campaigns which were directed towards each other seem to have had the same effect on Iranians as on us, and the same methods were used. Religion, the promise of Jenna [Heaven] and the glorification of death after sugar coating it with the word Martyr. It is sub-titled (a story of childhood in Iran) about a young girl going thru the Islamic revolution in Iran and up to the war with Iraq. Some of the things about the start of the Islamic revolution make me think about what is happening now in Iraq.
It was my third attempt to go thru that “comic book”, I tried once right after I bought it but it made me wince, this time I went thru it in one single go. It is a beautiful book.
I had the urge to start translating it and throwing copies of it on the streets of Baghdad. Why can’t we learn from other people’s mistakes?

Riverbend, how can I get a copy to you?

As usual I am living in my headphones most of the time, at the moment I am at [Never, Never, Land], I can’t get Reign out of my head.

Friday, December 05, 2003

Rain rain rain, the whole city looks like a puddle of mud and everything is too slippery because the rain is not strong enough to wash things away, it is just stupid drizzle and everything is wet.
I found G. he sent me an email saying that he is living with the Guardian people (???) in baghdad and that I should give him a "fucken" call.
G. what are you doing with the Guardian when you are supposed to be working with the NYT ?

Diana linked to this article, I don't always read Friedmann but she linked = I read.
God and Man in Baghdad
My favorite line is this
"If things go reasonably well, the result will be an initial Iraqi government that is more religious than Turkey but more democratic than Iran. Not bad."
He makes it sound as if we are going for consolation prizes now: "You didn't get the Democratic Iraq Package, but hey... very soon you will be getting visas to Iran with no trouble at all".

Thursday, December 04, 2003

U.S. Rejects Iraqi Plan to Hold Census by Summer
I just read yesterday in the "official Iraqi Newspaper" i.e. the coalition funded Iraqi Media Network thing that they have abudget allocated for the census, funny that they say the americans have rejected it now. I am sure they have someone reading the Iraqi papers so how could they allow this to get to press. A few months ago an american press officer at the Governing Council's office was telling a reporter that they do excercise some "information control" so what happened, their control got leaky or what?
besides what is wrong with a census, we do need to now a rough estimate of how many poeple would vote and what sort of ethnic and religious precentages we have. The Governing Council says that it never saw the porposal by the census bureau
"The Census Bureau said it had delivered the plan to the Governing Council on Nov. 1, but apparently it was lost in the bureaucracy."
hmm very promising, now we find out the government doesn't know what its offices are doing.
This could have changed things," ......... some council members would have argued last month that the vote on self-government should be delayed until September when the voter roll became available.
Come on boys give it try we know it is not going to be very correct but at least an indication.
Nasty surprise today in the morning. The guy who owns the electricity generator came by to tell us that he has just raised the price of electricity from 2000 dinars to 3500 dinars per amp and if you don't like it go spend your days in darkness, oh and he is not turning on the generator after 2am. tough luck insomniacs.
These neighbourhood generators are our main source of electricity since the baghdad grid is really not reliable and has been getting worse, so generator owners are twisting our arms now. and it is not like you can switch from one provider to another, you are lucky if you have someone in your neighborhood who has a really big one and decides to sell electricity. In some areas poeple saw ythais as a business oppertunity, get a huge generator and make lots of money because on average you get more electricity from them than from the national grid.
The reason behind the raise in prices is the price and availabity of fuel, and you can't really argue with him. Everyone who owns a car has to either spend the night in his car queuing up in front of a gas station or buy very expensive gas, which is probably cut with anything from water to diesel, on the black market. The other thing is that kerosene which is the fuel most iraqi homes use for heating is also getting more expensive and harder to get. so these days whenver we hear the dingdingding of the kerosene guy (it is a a barrel tank pulled by a horse thing) we start running out to make sure he stops, and you have to be nice to Mr. Kerosene delivery otherwise he will not come next time.
The extra containers we bought for fuel srorage during the war have been very usefull.

Just looked at Unqualified Offerings he has linked to lots of charts and numbers about the electricity situation in Iraq.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Yes I know it is a bit confusing now that we have two poeple writing in the same blog, and I *do not* want to be associated with Raed's ramblings. His mind functions in strange ways. So to make things easier I am trying to color code, Firey Orange is me and boring white is Raed.

This is test blog. Test test tesssst.
I bought the scary CD

*this is a [Where is Raed] special announcement*
We are temporarily changing the title of the blog because we have lost G.
If you have seen him please tell Raed or Salam Pax where you saw him and the exact color of his beard on the day of the sighting, thank you.

end of test

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Today.. ummm.. I saw a camel in Baghdad :")
Camels look really ugly .. they have big lips .. huge lips .. so when they try to smile (just to say hi to you) they look like someone with the "duhhh" expression on his face

One of the restless questions in my head is about camels, why are camels related to Arabs in the western media? (besides the question of why my italiana girlfriend dumped me, this camel thing is really annoying me)
I mean .. it's just like me having an image in my mind about canadians and penguin .. Hey! are you really Canadian? Cool! Do you have a penguin in your bedroom? Do you eat them?


Media .. media .. it can easily put images and ideas in anyone's head. Its like the endless crisis of searching for the "truth". Isn't everything just relative? you have two people coming back from Samerra, one telling you about the blood shed that happened .. "dozens of civilians were killed there! for god's sake! blah blah" and the other with his version of the story "naah .. nothing happened, it was a usual ambush and soldiers freaked out and shot eight people, two were Iranian tourists" .. go to BBC and CNN and you find the first story, go to AlJazeera and you'll read the second one .. with details! they sound like two parallel universes!
at the time of AlKindi it was a bit easier to speak about truth .. "We should not be ashamed to acknowledge truth from whatever source it comes to us, even if it is brought to us by former generations and foreign peoples. For him who seeks the truth there is nothing of higher value than truth itself." Maybe life was better before everyone started listening to NEWS .. brrrr

Monday, December 01, 2003

Can't he at least say hello? HELLO Salaam? where have you been hiding for the last two weeks?
I mean .. how can he just come back like this?

Electricity is still on strike, we didn't have neither electricity nor matches for yesterday's night, and we kept on calling Abo Husien the guard to lend us his lighter every couple of hours .. poor man.
This problem with services is really strange; even other basic stuff here, like petrol and other oil derivatives, are not easy to find. Cars either wait in a long - long queue for hours to get some liters of petrol, or just buy some from the "black" market. The only difference between Baghdad's black market and other cities markets that you don't really have the option of going to the "white" market here :") or whatever it's called. I mean .. besides the socializing opportunity that everyone standing in the queue gets, it's not worth it to spend hours of your life pushing your car (because no one leaves his car's engine on for all of that time) and waiting for a thief to rob you or something. Or maybe it's just our new government's plan for building bridges between the different ethnic groups of the Iraqi people, yes yes! maybe they'll change the name of all gas stations to "social blenders" .. whatever ..

Ummm .. one last thing ..
What the hell does "Support Democracy in Iraq" mean? you know what I'm talking about .. the small logo on your left hand <<<<<
Who is exactly the one supposed to support the Iraqo-demo-cracy thing?? Surprise me! I mean .. Shoot me!

I think it was 4 months ago when I spent three nights in Sammara because it is the closest place to Tikrit which didn't make your skin crawl and it actually had hotels. It was an empty hotel and me and the manager enede up chatting because we both had nothing better to do, I told him that I thought the city there was very quiet and it seemed very peacful, just a bunch of Iranian tourists visitng the shrine of Imam Sadiq al-Mahdi. he told me that I shouldn't be fooled, lots of the Tikritis and Saddam supporters came down to Sammara to hide.
and last night this happened
46 Iraqis Die in Fierce Fight Between Rebels and G.I.'s
Someone talking on arabic BBC said that probably a couple of Iranian tourists were injured but that was not confirmed. Killing 64 means there was a serious battle going on or they just scorched a street after freaking out.

UPDATE: AP just put up a different number
U.S. Says 54 Iraqis Killed in Samarra
and this one is more interesting to read than the NY Times one.
From Riverbend's blog on the 29th
The most amusing thing about his visit was watching Chalabi and Talabani jumping up and down at the airport, cheering and clapping as Bush made the rounds. Muwafaq Al-Rubai'i, also a member of the Governing Council, was just embarrassing- he was standing on tiptoe and clapping like a 5-year-old watching a circus clown.
That was such an embaressing sight, I couldn't believe it, and the way Bush gave them a sideway glance........ I mean they are supposed to be heads of state. Maybe next time we give them cheerleaders uniforms and make them do a little dance.
It is good to know that I wasn't alone cringing as I watched that
I feel like a scary taxi driver magnet. Why do I always get the weirdest ones.
Today's taxi driver had a tape with songs praising the work of "the brothers" in Falluja. I sat there stiff wondering if I should just open the door and jump, in the end I did get myself together to ask him what that was and he was happy to tell me who it was and where to get a copy of anti-american pop songs.
Well, they are not really pop songs they were sung like Thikir, which is supposed to be this sung poetry parising Allah and stuff, but listening to stuff praising the people in Falluja for their bravery in defending the faith and praying for each dead Fallujan to be replaced by 2000 is a bit too much.
The dilemma now ofcourse is should I go buy a copy of that tape or not? anyway if I made the decision to buy one the "highlights" of that tasteless thing will be translated and posted here.

How do you like that for a new developemnet? look at the Iraqi top ten music chart to get a feel for the sentiments in Iraq. Is it going to be Justin Timberlake? or Scary Sabbah with his greatest anti-coalition hits?
I know. It is not funny.

If you have a better internet connection than my lousy dial-up you might want be interested in taking a look at this.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Fun Fact: Hillary Clinton was here too! why dont anyone tell us before these people come! .. however ..

Finally I found Salam, he came back two days ago. The good news that he's going to start writing "seriously" again :)
welcome back Salooma

I discovered that Jo was writing some stuff about our visit to the south and the work of Emaar;the Iraqi organization I founded some months ago .. and she discribed the car accident we had with the american truck too.

whatever .. today was such a boring day, I spent the morning and the after noon with Salam and Hamsa going in circles trying to find any road to take us to the other side of Baghdad, no one can even imagine the traffic jam in Baghdad's streets.
Yalla Salam write anything .. let's start the ping pong game :")

Friday, November 28, 2003

I FEEL BLESSED!! BUSH WAS HERE!! He just stayed for three hours, what a shame. Or was it thirteen? .... Whatever .... :) I just came back from the south. This time Tara and Jo came with me, we went to Nasryya through Hilla, Najaf, Diwanyya and Samawa, and an American truck was that near > < to kill us all. It feels strange to be stopped by smiling soldiers coming from Spain (hola hola), Holland (I don’t know what), U.S.A (hello), Italy (ciao), Poland (No Engleeeezi), and another people with strange faces (peep peep prprpr): all of them in one country!! I'm proud of my country :) When the American truck nearly crushed my car no one agreed to stop to see what happened .. I was waving to all the other trucks in the convoy but without any response, so Tara (she's from Canada) thought it's a good idea to inform the Holland check point about what happened, they where very nice and polite to the point that I was surprised! That guy wanted to cry when I told him about the accident! :) then they took pictures for the car and gave me their contact addresses .. I'll call them later to see what can they do........... (new paragraph) ...................... Tara is arrogant a bit, but I can understand why (everyone falls apart after she smiles) :) you should have been there when we were discussing stuff about god and nature and bla bla bla .. "In the west .. man use god to understand the nature. In the east .. man use the nature to understand god" :) don’t you like that? ........................ (another new paragraph) ........................ Ok .. Salam .. I will call your family today to ask about you .. this is getting serious! what happened? are you still alive or not? you were supposed to come back two weeks ago!! Where is Salam!

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr .. I am angry now .. I AM angry .. and "THEY" come and ask you "why don't you like us?" ... I will tell you why .. >>>> I was just stopped by an American check point .. they let me stand under the rain .. in the mud .. for more than 15 minutes .. a soldier pushed me in a very strong way that I nearly fell down, and the other was investigating me: Why do you have a camera in your car? haaa? !!!!!! What the hell !!! I mean !! duh ?? I have a camera? why not? then came the other americano with a smile asking me: do you film porn? !!! I heard that but I asked him: what sir? and he replied: PORN pee ooo are enn ,, ha ha ha .. (is that funny?) .. Soldiers stopping people in the EID (these are the Muslims' festival days) asking them whether they film porn and pushing them in mud .. I DON'T LIKE "THEM" .. Soldiers are not the best representatives of any culture .. Grrrh ///////////// (new paragraph) SALAAAAM?! where the peep are you? I'll change the title to WHERE IS SALAM.. call me for god's sake .. stronso

Sunday, November 23, 2003

G. came yesterday to my place, with two red wine bottles, Jo was there too. We were discussing the same issue "why don't me and G. have a direct relation?" .. when you are not here we never see each other! ,, we are ""friends in law"" :) where are you now? when are you coming back? yalla .. come to enjoy having electricity for three hours a day. Yes >> THREE<< warm nice hours. 6ayyeb in the summer time "THEY" said we'll have electricity 24 hours a day after the "peak time of summer" ! Zeen what the hell is the new excuse? I'm sure it's because of the peak time of winter .. blah ,,

Friday, November 21, 2003

i hate english.. i hate writing in english.. whatever.. salam you cannot imagine the scene at AnNasryya, i mean .. It's not just about the italians' building .. It's about the entire neighborhood! Houses in the circle of 1000 meter are living without windows, without doors, and with cracks in their walls. The explosion was so huge that it blow off the doors and fences and trees of all the neighbours .. do u like more details? ok :) two people crossed the bridge with that very old water tanker (made in 1950s), and the man "with beard" sitting on the left went out from the window and started shooting on the italian guards and killed them, and the car went directly into the main door of the building killing everyone in the street and most of the italians, italian soldiers heads were found hundreds of meters away from he explosion! brrrrooohhh .. and some iraqi's were burned in their cars in the middle of the street. The "funny" thing that looting started five minutes later, all the machine guns and pistols disappeared in minutes and you can get a cool italiano pistol for $250 now in the gun markets of Nasryya. Abbas (u know him, the restaurant owner..) saw some people steeling a ring from the finger of a dead italian body with no head! brrrrroooohhh .. and looting contenued the next days for the rest of the furnature and air conditioning units ,, the strange thing that everyone at Nasryya was expecting the attack two days before it happens! EVERYONE! policemen and people from the political parties (controlling the city) were going aroung the steets searching for THE bommbed car, thats why when the explosion happened people started demonstrating against the police and parties accusing them of not doing the right job "you just spend our money on stupid meetings and check pionts" .. mmm .. that's it i believe. (how can i start a new paragraph here?) .. (ok .. conceder this as new paragraph) .. I want shoes (like the black ones with hole in the bottom u used to have) and another couple of horny shirts .. mmm .. I broke up with Simona .. mmm .. I bought a new Mercedes car (ML 430) .. Mmmm .. call me .. bye

Thursday, November 20, 2003

G in Baghdad wouldn't write on his blog but he just sent me a wickedly funny email, sorry G this is what happens when you have blogger friends. Here is what he wrote:
tell your friends in London that G in Baghdad would have appreciated them much more if they had demonstrated against the atrocities of saddam.
And if you could ask them when will be the next demonstration to support the people of north Korea, the democratic republic of Congo and Iran?
yup, that's him alright. G so full of surprises.
back to baghdad on monday, G you better have beer in your fridge.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

so raed still remembers his password to this blog

Raed would you please write in english, they don't have any arabic OS 'puters here in london. I can't read what you are saying.
you would not believe what happened to me, my wallet got stolen. I am so happy i don't have any credit cards, don't ask where and how, let us just say allah was trying to tell me something and I wasn't listening.

Bush will be in London on tuesday and there will be a huge demo. the anti-war gang changed their signs from stop war to stop bush which i find funny. really need suggestions for my banner, at the moment i am considering dressing up as one of the spice girls and singing "who do you think you are?" while waving a pink feather boa, that would attract some attention i guess.
do you have G's new number, please text it to me and keep your fucking phone on.
so do you want another "horny devil" t-shirt? and tell me about nassiriyah, did any of the guys talk to you about what happened.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

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Thursday, November 06, 2003

Hi, this is the Baghdad Blogger.
Glad to be talking to you.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003


Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Hmm.... now it is me who linked to this weblog, and I am sure everyone has the right to say what they think, but this is kind of strange.

I would rather have President Bremer (Allah preserve him) ruling us than any of them.

pfui...filthy words wash your moth with soap young man.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

The interview in the German STERN has a picture. the photographer was really cool.
My cousin,after his 3rd beer, is the smartest person on this planet.
For some reason we started talking about whether Bush will have another term on the big chair in the White House. I thought he's out because of all the trouble in Iraq. My cousin puts down his beer and tells me that I am a fool, because:
"Bush is the Devil himself, and you can't beat a Shaitan. Saddam will magically appear in cuffs two months before the elections and American soldiers will be at their homes partying by New Year's. The ground will start spitting up WMD's and al-Qaeda links the moment he touches the ground with his nose, and he will be the next american president".
he puts his beer down and tells me my tuna salad is the worst ever.
Did I mention that G. has stopped blogging for ideological reasons? A statement will be issued.
he is giving his brains time off or something, and he even shaved his beard. The shia mullahs don't do the hug-kiss-kiss thing when they see him anymore. Maybe he got sick of that.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Baghdad's Jews: On their last leg
Two months ago I went to Bataween and looked for the Synagogue, you wouldn't notice it because there is a huge 4 meter wall around it, not even the policemen who were just around the corner knew where it was (or maybe they just didn't want to tell me). Anyway I found it, I guessed it was it, and I knocked on their door. The young man who came out didn't even let me in to take a look, he just told me that I should go away because I will cause trouble. The really scary thing thing was that just a couple of hundred meters away there was the SCIRI headquarters for the Bataween district.
hmmmm funny now that I am writing this I have a strange sense of dejavu. did I already tell you this or did I tell it to Diane only. anyway back to the jazeera article, because it is Jazeera they have to fuck it up as usual. look:
Here was the first person I had met who yearned for the clock to be turned back and former President Hussein to return – not a Baathist sympathiser, not a former member of the secret police - but a middle-aged Jewish woman.
The other two women said they also wished for the return of the former president and swore all their friends felt the same.
"In Saddam's day, there was the rule of law, there was safety. Now I dare not let my daughter out of the house. She won't be able to complete her studies. This is what the Americans have brought", said Subhiyya.
Now aljazeera can make people in the english speaking countries sick as well.
Zeyad's post on the 15th talks about the date the Coalition/CPA/GC whatever chose for the date of the release of new Iraqi currency. I you scroll down a bit and get to the part wher it says [Al-Zahf Al-Kabir] in bold. The point he makes is actually very inetersting and I thought about this as well. I do actually think that it would be a good idea to start superimposing new "events" on old ones. This is actually the best way to clear the markings history makes on certain dates, to just say "it is no more" does not really work. I think it did happen in the Soviet Union where they just adopted the old holidays and gave them new names. Look at the Kurds and Nawruz [unislamic and banned by the Taliban] they still celebrate it, it's meaning was changed so that peole later on forgot where it came from. The same should happen to our old national holidays. It is going to be very difficult to make people really just ignore the 7th of april or the 17th of july, all your life these dates have been engraved on your skull from the inside, so the best thing to do is give them new meanings, new reasons to celebrate. Now we will remember the 15th of October as the day we got our funky new/old money and not the day of al zahf al kabir.
My god I leave for a month and look what happens, Riverbend ranks right behind me on google (I have to start working those links again otherwise I will just drop of the ranking, she is just unstoppable) and there is a NEW IRAQI BLOGGER. It is called Healing Iraq, isn't this nice we have Baghdad Burning and Healing Iraq.
Listen to this, it’s really funny and they (people in the CPA) wouldn’t want anyone to tell you about it so it is double the fun.
Because anyone who is inside the “green zone” does not go outside, it is like they are living on a Martian colony, they have been trying to bring some of the “exotic east” inside the green zone, anyway one of the things they offer inside the green zone is a hair salon, who’s proprietor is the famous Karim Mourad (he’s a big shot Hair guy here) so they have him inside and it is either this guy or another who also offers massages at their salon, basic beauty spa thingy, or is it? For some reason he was doing something nasty on the way. If you were a man and came to get a massage he would get a “nice” young girl to do it for you and apparently things were not very “Halal”. Some killjoy complained about this and they (CPA big cheese) axed the massage parlor. Tsk tsk tsk, no consideration to basic human needs, or it might have been someone who complained because he would much rather get serviced by a nice young man. Killjoy either way. And they decided that no Iraqis are allowed to get hair cuts in there.

Another things Iraqis who work for the CPA or related offices are not allowed to have is Breakfast. If you are seen in the Cafeteria during the breakfast period your badge gets taken away from you and without a badge you get booted out of the compound. I talked to a couple of young women working for the CPA in the green zone and what they told me was very interesting, it seems from what they have been telling me that the ratio of women to men on there is much higher than the normal work space (if you exclude banks, it is very much women’s domain don’t ask me why) that is interesting by itself added to that Iraqis never get promoted to anything, they stay at “level zero”. The maximum pay is $15 a day and in order to be on time for the start of the working day you have to start queuing from 6am because of the long lines at the entrance gates. This lining up is one thing they are all freaked out about, all except the Americans in their green zone. Both women I talked to have been warned against telling anyone their home address and the communication between Iraqis in there is not very good, you don’t want to tell someone where you live only to start getting phone calls telling you stop helping the Americans. This has happened quite often. So although they have this on their minds all they time thay still come to their jobs, yes the pay is good but if they stop coming the “coalition” will be in the blind. They depend on these people to be their link to the “outside” world. And what do they do to insure they safety? They make them wait for hours in lines outside the green zone. The 14th of July Bridge and the Jumhuriya Bridge entrances are very nice places for any sort of saboteur. You only have to drive by with a Kalashnikov to mow down the Iraqis. Look these people are working for you and don’t tell me you don’t need them because that would be a lie, do you want to bring your own civil servants into a war zone? So the least you can do is not to make them into sitting ducks like the Iraqi police now are. This is another thing I would like people to pay some respect to. Iraqi Police kick major ass. Much respect. Wherever you go now and open up that subject you will see a lot of sympathy with those brave men and women and a total incomprehension to what this so called resistance is doing. They are killing Iraqis now. They say Jihad against the Infidel Occupier and they go kill those Iraqi police men. The Baghdad Hotel, the Turkish embassy and many more. It is not the Infidel the attackers are killing but Iraqis and this just might be good because the general sentiment now is “what the fuck do the Jihadis think they are doing?”. I wrote or said some time ago that most Iraqis are just sitting on the fence, well the last couple of attacks are tipping the balance against the Jihadis because they are killing all those Iraqis, they are putting bombs in streets and in front of schools, threatening to bomb banks where Iraqis are standing in line waiting to get their new Iraqi Dinars. So as we say here [biha saleh – something good will come out of it] maybe the people who are dying in those attacks are helping us understand that what those saboteurs are doing is just pure evil, telling people they are Muslim Jihadis doesn’t cut it anymore because they are killing civilians indiscriminately.
The new Iraqi currency is pure nostalgia. Let-us-take-you-on-a-trip-back-to-the-good-old-days type of thing, of course the irony will be totally lost on the younger people but me Raed and G. sat looking at the new 250 remembering the days when we would get a quarter of a dinar a daily allowance. It was enough for a bottle of Sinalco (a yellow fizzy drink) a bar of bad chocolate and whatever sandwich the school cafeteria was selling.

I am sure everybody already has seen pictures but here is a pdf link. we don't have Hundreds anymore.
They have changed the color which kind of spoils the effect, the quarter (250 fils) used to be green now the 250 dinar is bluish. Although the “Government” warned against the trade in the new currency – you know selling for more than its value because it is spanking new – it is already happening, the exchange rate is 2000 dinars per dollar in the old currency and 1900 per dollar for the new.
And we are still waiting for any attacks on banks.

Sunday, October 12, 2003

[written two days ago]
It is four twenty five am and I have just gone past the Iraqi border point from Jordan. It is very very different from what it used to be. There is much less bureaucracy, although they still want you to do the pointless "AIDS test" which actually is just a way for the people at the check point to make money. They will give you a date on which you are supposed to do the test and they would just tell you to go to the nearest clinic to where you live, well I could do that without having to pay 5 bucks for someone to tell me that I should.
The one thing that did not change, and will not if you ask me, is that bribes are still accepted and welcome. Give the people at the check point who are supposed to check your luggage $10 and they will not look. You don’t have to open the trunk let alone bringing it out of the car. It is actually a mighty drag, especially if like me you have got four plus lots of small bags and most of them are filled with books and CDs. You don't really want to explain why you have five Salman Rushdie books, it never makes a good impression on the border guards. He would report you to his superiors as the anti-Allah. Don’t start with your “but you are free now” speech, it will take more tan six months to change that.
So the border point was made more pleasant by paying 10 fucking dollars, can you imagine that, only ten dollars and I could have a car full of explosives. Long live bribable corrupt countries. And of course the foreigners have to mess this up, they go and give a $40 “tip”, my god don’t spoil them like that next time they will want 40 from me as well. Anyway, I am on my way back home. happy happy joy joy.

Coming back into the country is much easier than getting out; first you have the problem of the passport authority. There is none so if yours has expired or you don’t have one; then tough luck. You ain’t getting one anytime soon. The Governing Council did promise that by mid September they would have that up and running but nothing happened, now why am I not surprised? I guess they have a bigger problem making sure they are safe from all the threats to actually do something. And did you read that incredible thing about them getting $5000 lunches. 25 people are costing Iraq $5000 to feed. Well it is not costing Iraq now it is more the “coalition” tax payers who are paying for that. They are Iraqis why are they having $200 lunches, that is unheard of, they are lucky the IHT does not have an Arabic edition, anyway I have strayed. I was talking about traveling out of Iraq.
So you are lucky that you got your passport before the war and you have packed your floral print shirts and polka dot ties, now where to go? It is funny how no country wanted to have Iraqis when we had Saddam and how they still don’t want us. Do we have [trouble] stamped on our foreheads or what? To get anywhere we still have to go thru Jordan, until the Baghdad airport opens for commercial flights. Now let’s look at how our friendly neighbor Jordan is dealing with that.
They have their borders open after the war for the Iraqis with big money to come; they have the families of all the ex-ministers there. They have their money in their banks and they are letting them buy loads of real estate. Then they decide OK this is what we needed let’s make life hell for the rest of the Iraqis. You have to wait for hours at the border only to be turned back. They don’t issue visas they just tell you to go to the border and the officer at the border will decide which is fucking pointless. Have the border guard in Baghdad so that I know whether you are letting me in or not, it doesn’t feel like a border point it feels like the door at a club with a really nasty bouncer. Sorry, not tonight. And it is a 5 hour drive to the border and 5 hours back. The driver who drove me to Baghdad told me that a week ago he drove an old man to the border who has arranged with his son, whom he has not seen for 15 years, to meet him at the border because he was afraid the Jordanian border authority would not let him in. and if they let you in they give you a transit stamp which means you have to leave the country within 72 hours.
Meanwhile they have Raghad [Saddam’s daughter] prancing around Abdoun Mall with two bodyguards waving hellos as if she were a superstar.
Whatever, all we need is for the Airport to open again and there will be no need to go thru Amman anymore, the business they will lose will make them feel sorry for being so mean, just imagine anyone who wants to get into Iraq has to go thru Jordan now. The foreign press the Iraqi expats, all this will go, khalas maku, the Jordanian guard will not have his kicks asking me to empty my pockets.
Three weeks in London and two in Amman, it felt like being out of Iraq for ages. I left Baghdad with one piece of luggage, I came back with three. The number of CDs and books I bought would keep a whole country happy for a year. And what was even better some of the journalists who came to interview brought me book presents with them, in one case I got a book sent by mail, The Devil’s Dictionary. That was a great Interview and a very funny book. Thanks Lina. And I finally got the promised yellow New York cab Diane bought for me before the war.

So here are my best London moments in no particular order :
- Seeing Jack Straw at the BBC and sitting in the same room for 10 minutes without having the balls to ask him : so where are the WMDs?
- having coffee with Ann Clwyd at he Houses of Parliament and finding out that she has been supporting [The Free Prisoners Society]. Before I went there people were telling me that she was so pro-war, when I sat and talked to her she amazed me with her knowledge and commitment. So pro-war she is but her heart is in the right place, if more anti-war people were as committed to helping Iraq out of the bad place it is now as she is things would be great.
- James Lavelle in Fabric, thanks Louisa for telling me I should go there. and London Garage does make sense.
- Birthday dinner, thanks wendy.
- The Demo in London on the 27th. It was supposed to be an anti-war/end the occupation thingy. I went there. I was amused. It felt very much like a nice Saturday family outing, look I have not seen many demonstrations. The ones I have seen are the ones we had here in Baghdad after the war they were all very angry, scary things. Then I go to the one in London and you have this carnival atmosphere. I was really interested in how much the guys selling the whistles were making. It was huge I grant you that and walking among all these people did feel very good. I was looking for an Iraqi flag to go and talk to the Iraqis, I thought there were non there until Yasar sent me a text message telling me they were already by Trafalgar Square [Hi Yasar, thanks]. I left and went to Camden.
- buying [Hatful of Hollow] for 3 Pounds.
- The room at Tate Modern where they have an instillation called [5 angels for the millennium or look at the Tate's page]. I didn’t want to leave that room.
- The Guardian’s G2 people. They make it look so easy; if you see their editorial meetings you would be amazed they have a paper out very day. You know, you expect deadly serious people and lots of arguing, the basic movie thing. It is not. They just sit and crack jokes.

The guys at Atlantic promised it was going to be OK and fun and it was. Thanks.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Still in Jordan, will be back in baghdad by thursday.
did I tell you that while waiting for the BBC Today show Jack Straw was in the same room with me, he was waiting for his turn to be put infront of a mic. It was probably one of the strangest moments in my life ever. I kept looking over the rim of my coffee mug, just making sure that it is actually him sitting in front of me.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

my life has taken a sharp turn towards the surreal.
it starts with this [The Baghdad Blog].
did you see the promo, it is so scary it freaked me out the first time I saw it. do turn up the volume, the track is by the Aphex Twin and when Intro contacted Warp records they said that they can choose any track they want by the Aphex Twin and it's for free. Warp even has the promo linked from its site.
Then there is the today show on BBC Radio 4 later followed by a web chat.
a radio interview with Late Night Live in *australia*.
A daily telegraph piece (needs registration).
A web page on the Guardian site.
A million other interviews by people who are nice enough to bring me books as presents.

Salam Pax has developed a life of his own, he is not me anymore. and I miss baghdad like hell.

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Today we shall have a world premier. An Iraqi blog-fight. Roll up your sleeves Riverbend, let’s talk about al-Hakim’s death.

Two posts [Chaos] and [Position Open]
Look regardless of what he stood for and the fact he and his party are very good buddies with Iran, the significance and the gravity of what happened is not to be overlooked. I agree with you, if SCIRI had its way we would end up as an Iran clone. But he is a religious leader, he is a “Marji’i” and at least for the moment they are playing by the rules. They are adopting a more lenient line, they talk about a constitution and they have Adil abdul-Mahdi who is a very clever man, the people who are behind the curtains are always more interesting than the actual puppets. And if we had abdul-Mahdis in all the religious parties believe we would not have had so much to fear, these are people who know how to walk the narrow path.
With the assassination of Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim the SCIRI leadership has been put in a very difficult position, they have to bring their militia into the play now. Their followers demand it and this is something abdul-Mahdi was visibly agonized about during today’s press conference. We all realize that if Badr Brigade got on the streets of Najaf the other factions will see no reason to send their militias down as well and this is never good, they will start fighting for turf and places like Najaf and Karbala should not become fighting grounds. I hope the Shia in Iraq, their leaderships, are wise enough to realize these holy cities should stay a symbol of their unity, their united struggle.
Most dangerously it will give, the assassination already has given as excuse to the more dangerous Muqtada al-Sadr to get his own militia together, he has been assembling one for quite a while now [Imam Mahdi’s Army] and these are the people we should all worry about, he is pissed off because he has been booted out of the Governing Council and since he is not a Hawza religious scholar he has no power without having his own bunch of thugs. The statements which were spread around today are using the death of Hakim to put more blame on the Americans. Although we know very well that Muqtada al-sadr would not mind getting al-Hakim out of the game. The demonstrators were asking for the security issue to be handed over to Iraqis believe me we do not want to be guarded by sadr’s thugs, their Friday Imams belive that women should not even go to shops and their [groups of virtuous] have been behind the bombing of shops selling alcohol and behind the threats to cinema owners.

Beside the significance of assassinating an Ayatollah these fuckers did it in front of an entrance to Imam Ali’s shrine. What idiot would do that? It is the same question everyone was asking about the bombing of the UN building, what sort of person would do this sort of thing? There is nothing sacred anymore. And right after a Friday prayer. There is just so much to this. Hundreds of people beside the Ayatollah, it is totally devastating.
Yes I know they would want to have an Islamic state here but they are much mellower than the Sadr and his “militant Hawza”, the importance of SCIRI is to counter balance. They have agreed to play the political game and abdul-Aziz al-Hakim (the Ayatollah’s brother) is on the Governing Council, isn’t he? They are working with the Americans.

Whoever did this is pure evil. The UN, an assassination in front of Imam Ali’s shrine. You wonder what will come next. If you ask me I think it will be media. Al-Jazeera I getting threatened quite often, and if you are moving with journalists the scariest thing that could happen is if people think you are from Jazeera. Al-Arabiya reporters were attacked in Najaf today and a couple of Reuter’s guys who the crowd thought were from Jazeera almost got in serious trouble. I got called an American intelligence agent and a collaborator with the Zionist agents, which kind of freaked me out. [here are pictures from the demo pic1 pic2]

you ask
Where is this guy living? Is he even in the same time zone??? I’m incredulous… maybe he's from some alternate universe where shooting, looting, tanks, rape, abductions, and assassinations aren’t considered chaos, but it’s chaos in *my* world.
I have an answer for you.
L. Paul Bremer III, the chief American administrator, was on vacation. Nobody seemed to know when exactly he would return
He is on a beach somewhere in the states; I swear I am not joking. When they called him 3 hours after the incident he had no idea what they were talking about.
And there is another article in the Times worth reading, G was with Neil in Najaf and he is the Shia expert, they love him down there, they think he is a Shia muslim from Iran, if they only knew the truth. Anyway take a look at the article [Car Bomb in Iraq Kills 95 at Shiite Mosque] the death toll is now 113.

more interesting links on Shia Pundit's Blog [Live like Ali - die like Husain].

just saw this from AP
Two Iraqis and two Saudis grabbed shortly after the Friday attack gave information leading to the arrest of the others, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. They include two Kuwaitis and six Palestinians with Jordanian passports with the remainder Iraqis and Saudis, the official said, without giving a breakdown.

Friday, August 29, 2003

Our house was searched by the Americans. That happened almost ten days ago. I wasn’t home, but my mother called the next day a bit freaked out.
They came at around 12 midnight they were apparently supposed to do a silent entrance and surprise the criminal Ba’athi cell that was in my parents house, unfortunately for them our front gate does a fair amount of rattling so my brother heard that and opened the door and saw a couple of soldiers climbing on our high black front gate. When the silent entrance tactic failed they resorted to shouty entrance mode. So they shouted at him telling him that he should get down on his knees, which he did. He actually was trying to help them open the door, but whatever. Seconds later around 25 soldiers are in the house my brother, father and mother are outside sitting on the ground and in their asshole-ish ways refused to answer any questions about what was happening. My father was asking them what they were looking so that he can help but as usual since you are an Iraqi addressing an American is no use since he doesn’t even acknowledge you as a human being standing in front of him. They (the Americans) have a medic with them and he seems to be the only sane person amongst them, my brother tells me they were kids all of them. Anyway so my brother and father start talking to the medic and he tells them what this is about. They have been “informed” that there are daily meetings the last five days, Sudanese people come into our house at 9am and stay till 3pm, we are a probable Ansar cell. My father is totally baffled, my brother gets it. These are not Sudanese men they are from Basra the “informer” is stupid enough to forget that there is a sizeable population in Basra who are of African origin. And it is not meetings these 2 (yes only two) guys have here, they are carpenters and they were repairing my mom’s kitchen. Way. To. Go. You have great informers.
While my family is waiting outside something strange happens, one of the soldiers comes out, empties his flask in the garden and start telling the medic to give him his, the medic shoos him away. They all think that the soldier is filling his flask with cold water from the cooler. Later it turns out that he emptied my father’s bottle of Johnny Walker’s into his flask and was probably trying to convince the medic to give him his to empty another bottle. Weird shit.
Aaaaanyway, they are looking thru my father’s papers by now and their genius translator comes to the commander of operation [Pax House Bust] and tells him he has found “suspicious documents”. They are passes to various conferences he has attended and bank cards for old closed accounts he used to have and most alarmingly for the person in charge was an invitation my father received a couple of days earlier to a meeting with General Abi Zaid to which he and others were flown to the Bakr Air Base north of Baghdad. Now the guy who was in charge starts trying to cover his ass and asks a lot of pointless questions, one of the more surreal ones was “so if one of your sons is writing for a foreign newspaper why are you still here?”. After this goes on for a while he gets the family out of the house again, closes the door and stays in there for 15 minutes. Comes out with the 20 galactic troopers and tells my father that he should inside check everything “I don’t want any complains filed later on”, my father just opens the front gate and tells him that if he wants to file a complaint he will thank you and bye-bye.

They came, freaked out my mother, pissed off my father, found nothing and left.
After refusing to get one my father finally conceded to get one of those cards that basically say you are a “collaborator”, and my mother will be spending a couple of weeks at her sister’s in Amman

Thursday, August 21, 2003

The best Iraqi newspaper in english, I actually wish they would have an Arabic edition. Tell you a secret, the NY Times office here makes suer they have a copy of that paper in the office all the time they scooped them a couple of times.
IRAQ TODAY : The Independent Voice of Iraq
I wish they would ask me to work for them, I am planning to go and beg.

they have a great sense of humour as well go read [Now do you get it?]
They don't update the site as often as one would wish and there was an excellent article explaining the Hawza and its structure wich is not online.
[This is an answer of sorts to an email I got from Rachel, thanks R.]

This has actually been giving me sleepless nights; people interpret everything I say in a thousand different ways. And the problem is that I am not exactly very clear about how I feel about the war and occupation to myself, how am I to explain this to all the people who read this and the article in the Guardian.
G's incident has created a bit of a problem and the stone throwers on both sides have their stash ready to start throwing the moment it goes on the web.
I am not a spokesman for anyone. That is mainly why I don't answer media requests. The guardian said I can write what I want and it won't be them will be asking me about my opinion on this and that. I just had the good fortune to know decent English and know enough about western culture to be able to connect with the mostly western readers.

After the last article I wrote in the Guardian I was wondering whether I should stop whining. the problem is that people want to read that things are getting better and we are happy, but things are getting better in such a slow pace that it is almost imperceptible, and with the one step we move forward on one front we move back 3 steps on other fronts. People need to know that their kids and loved ones are here for a good reason and this is what they want to hear. Otherwise they send me emails saying that I am being part of the problem. They send me emails telling me that I should help the Americans capture the terrorists and Baathists, as if they walk around in the streets wearing signs. Maybe we Iraqis did expect too much from the American invasion, we did hope there is going to be an easy way. Get rid of Saddam and have the Americans help us rebuild. I don't think like that anymore. I am starting to believe that the chaos we will go thru the next 5 or 10 years is part of the price we will *have* to pay to have our freedom. This Beirut-ification is the way to learn how we should live as a free country and respect each other; it is just too painful to admit. It is too painful to have to admit that the [burn it down to build it up] process is what we will have to go thru. There is an Arabic poet who wrote a line which my friend Raed had burned into my memory:
This nation needs to learn lessons in destruction.
Don’t get this wrong, he meant iconoclasm, destroying what has been set in stone to rebuild new rules. When talking to Ghaith about what happened to him he said that he doesn’t want this to sound that he is against their presence here.
But I used to feel safe when around them, if it looked like trouble go stand by the Americans but now I don’t feel this safe anymore. I hated myself for having the same feelings and fear when I was being detained by the Americans as when I was being detained by the Iraqis. I was worried about the space they would put me in and was hoping someone I know would come by so that I don’t just disappear.
someone somewhere wrote that if it were the old regime he and his family and friends would have to worry about their safety. I do need to say that the people who are arrested by the Americans on check points disappear just as they used to do before; this was one of Ghaith’s fears. The Red Cross has access but it is slow. And it takes the Americans ages to “process” you. I am not whining these are facts. Check the Human Rights Watch reports. And Ghaith’s issue should be seen as a broader issue, journalism and this war. This is not the first time a journalist has been harassed by the military. A British friend and an Iraqi who were out reporting got detained for five hours for filming a tank, the film confiscated and of course the Iraqi reporter gets the rougher treatment, the british has the passport to protect her.
And NO it was not a super secret facility.
Yes I know, before you say it this is what I am saying, you don’t have to believe it if you don’t want to. I am a crybaby and a whiner as some like to describe me. Whatever. And I am keeping my anonymity because I want to, most of you do that as well. Sometimes what I have written and still writing puts me in awkward situations with people I must talk to now and then, and I don’t feel very safe about voicing my opinions about certain parties and groups. We still don’t have a First Amendment.

Ghaith keeps insisting that what has happened to him is a small price to pay to get rid of saddam, but you see this is a bright young man talking. And he knows the difference between general policies and the individual reaction of a soldier who feels all Iraqis around him are out to get them. I am slowly reconciling myself to the idea that the Coalition forces will pull out in a year’s time (around election time I would say) and we will be left here to learn a lesson in rebuilding. I hope the UN will still be around.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

RIVERBEND has started a weblog
Baghdad Burning

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

bad scene, very bad scene.
U.N. Says at Least 10 People Are Killed in Blast

was there about an hour after it happened. really bad. very quick response from the American military, the helicopters with red crosses on them were going back and forth and there wer always three waiting to get the poeple to hospitals. ambulances going back and forth. the whole area cordoned off. the worst was having to talk to people who have relative and family in there. it is a car bombed there is no question about it.
you realize this is the second car bomb, the jordanian embassy.
there is a friggin' Iraqi idiot now on Jazeera saying that the security responsibility should be given over to the Iraqi Governing Council. Fuck off, this is not about American presence in Iraq. these attacks have nothing to do with the so called resistance. These are fucking idiots who destroying all the efforts to help this country get back on it's feet. the fucking Governing Council could not control this mess the moment the Coalition Forces move out we are plunged in chaos. We have entered a dark dark tunnel and we have no idea what will happen now.

Ok this is what we know. a truck (some say a cement mixer) was driving by the UN building (Canal Hotel) then swerved past the median stopped in the outside parking lot. and exploded. the west side of the building was destroyed, they were in the middle of a scheduled press conference about land mines in Iraq. the street was chaos people were rushing out of the windows and doors. injured people were all over. the american ,ilitary was there pretty fast and started evacuating the injured. they brought in rescue teams to pull out people from under the building. the place of the blast was a huge crater and was too close to the wall. the word is still out on the issue whether it was a suicide attack or not, the driver could have just parcked the car and left. when we got there there were lots of poeple trying to find out what happened to their families. people crying, shouting. the thing is there is a a hospital right next to the UN building, the cieling there caved in because of the explosion. many injured but no one killed.
this is what I know and what I saw.

I am plunging into a fucking depression, do we have a future? is this country going to be hijacked by shit extremists who want to prove a point?

UPDATE: Sergio de Millo has died during the attack, a couple of minutes ago it was reported that his secretary was taken out of the rubble seriously injured now we have heard word that he has died.
and I think the Americans are finding more evidence that this was a suicide attack.
we have plunged into darkness.

Monday, August 18, 2003

New Photos by G. (pre beating) and I have now the whole incident on tape, he talked and talked and talked. I can be ruthless sometimes. will be on his and this blog in the next couple of days.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

OK it had to happen and there is no point in denying it. The next chapter in [I sold my soul to the Devil] story.


There is a little something being prepared. They tell me he is providing the audio. You can imagine my reaction to that bit of news.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

I am sorry I have been lazy.
here is the thingy I wrote for the Guardian. there is a mistake in the 4th paragraph, it is not the CPA which has a rotating chairman it is the Iraqi Interim Governing Council, sorry about that.

G. my friend got beaten up by US Army last night, he was handcuffed and had a bag put on his head. he was kicked several times and was made to lie on his face for a while. All he wanted to do was to take pictures and report on an attack, he works for the New York Times as a translator and fixer. He got more kicks for speaking english.
his sin: he looks Iraqi and has a beard.
story will be told, I need to get him drunk enough to get the whole thing out of him he doesn't want to talk.

I recommend very much reading Thomas Friedman's latest column Power and Peril. quite good. I met him when he was in baghdad for a couple of days, he is thinner than that picture they have on the site and he is very nice. Everybody was going to roll out the red carpet and stuff but he was very down to earth. and he got that moustache thing going on.........blends right in, you could mistake him for an Iraqi.

oh, and Shadid strikes again:
In Basra, Worst May Be Ahead

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Sanchez the genius has it finally figured out: Their message, he said, has been that "when you take a father in front of his family and put a bag over his head and put him on the ground, you have had a significant adverse effect on his dignity and respect in the eyes of his family."

General Sanchez said the message from the Iraqis was that in doing this, you create more enemies than you capture.
Well, DUH dude. Would you like it if I try that on your family and see how you would feel about it?
I have totally forgotten how wonderful it is to have a dinner which lasts forever with friends. You have to rush home at around 8:30pm otherwise you will never find a taxi to take you home. But Raed arranged for a taxi to come and pick us up, we had a wonderful dinner and ignored the mess. His new friend S. was with him and she is the funniest girl with an Italian accent I have met. I was having such a great time I almost forgot that I loaded [turningtables] on my computer before leaving the office. I am very grateful to the person who sent me an email introducing me to turningtables.

I have spent the rest of the night reading the posts. He found Raed.
inside the barracks...on the walls there are hand prints...and names written in bad english...tell salam i found raed...he wrote his name with his finger next to a really bad self portrait...
moja please stay safe.
For all I know he could be the same soldier I have met a couple of days ago at the entrance of the governing council, listen to this:
……then all of this will have served a glorious purpose that no one can argue with...and we were over here doing the right thing...i need to feel that...i need to know that i helped unplug a dangerous beast before it striked...i need to know that for all those that have died their deaths were not in vain...i need to know that we have prevented horrendous events from transpiring...and i want all of this to go down in history as 'the right thing to do'...but for that to take place there are still a lot of things that need to happen...
moja, thank you. The doubt you express here just makes so more human than the stupid_lame_ass magazine called “THE LIBERATOR” the CPA has out there showing how thankful we should be. And I am sorry you have it so hard here, the post about the young army kids at he pool was sad really. They just don’t belong here. Please stay safe, and maybe re-think your decision about not showing us the “special” fotos you made just for your girlfriend. Show us those big sexy biceps.

oh and I think we should be sending him [get well soon] cards.

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

“I know what we have done is right and we had to do it but there must have been a better way to do it.”

When a soldier starts his conversation like this you can’t help but really really like him. He was standing in the heat, yesterday it was about 52C, guarding the entrance to building where our “governing council” meets. And he was on a roll, the next victims of his attack were the members of the governing council themselves.
“these guys, they work only four days and take the rest of the week off, they should be working 16 hour days to get their constitution going”. Give the man a cigar.
“they have huge lunches, throw tons of food out and they drive stolen cars”, by now we were laughing so loud in the car people were looking at us like we were crazy. He said that if his name is ever mentioned he will be in trouble and mentioned something about an “article 15”. We had 20 minutes with him while we were being OK-ed for meeting a Council member, he was so cool I wish the Americans didn’t freak out every time an Iraqi walks towards them I wanted to shake his hands and say thank you. He made sure I got my pieces of paper back and let us in. But he left us with one more pearl of wisdom:

“They tell you it’s the Oil but I know it is not the Oil, I just can’t figure out what the hell it is we are here for.”

He should be on TV.
The following conversation I was told about by G., but he is so lazy I will tell you about it myself. Inside the Convention Center (or as sometimes called The Iraq Forum), G was at the cafeteria waiting to buy a bottle of water when a man came and asked for a sandwich.
- is it Iraqi meat?
- yes sir it is
- are you sure it is Iraqi?
- Yes it was bought here
- No no, was the lamb slaughtered here in Iraq? Are you sure it didn’t come from Saudi?
- Sir, it is Iraqi. But even if it came from Saudi, the meat is also Halal there.
- No you don’t get it. They are not Shia muslims.
Usually it wouldn’t matter; everyone has his small little weird demands. But the problem was that the guy who doesn’t like Saudi meat because it is not slaughtered by Shia muslims is the head of an Iraqi human rights committee. Yeah, all humans are equal but some are more equal than other, aren’t they?

another little story, Raed’s mother is Shia muslim and they used to live in Saudi (which is Sunni central). One day she was asked by someone who got the courage to come up to her, they asked whether it was true that Shia muslims have little tails and they are allowed to marry their sisters.

Would anyone please remind why we need religions?

Sunday, August 03, 2003

People, I have the most amazing surprise for you, well for those who have been reading the blog before the war. do you remember [Riverbend]? she's in Mosul now she is OK but she had to quit her job because some shia fundi took over wher she used to work and made life miserable. and she sent me something to put on the blog.
and she is *NOT* my female alter ego as some poeple have suggested, actually there were stranger suggestions that [salam pax] is actually [riverbend] but she decided to diguise her self as a man. whatever.
take it away Riverbend:
Sorrrrrrrrrrry Salam it took so long to answer but I had various reasons- won't happen again.

I guess you've been hearing news about Mosul? Well it's worse. The security situation isn't too bad (they don't rely on Americans in these parts- if they did it wouldn't be any better than Baghdad). Electricity is more or less sorted out (although we do have problems)- and no, it wasn't the Amreeeekan who got things running, thank you very much.

Things are really bad for females everywhere. Here it's somewhat safer, but not too much. People are boiling over because of the whole Uday/Qusai saga... I mean give me a break- something like 400 troops for 4 guys??? You'd think they'd want them alive with numbers like that! People are infuriated because of the whole commotion- planes flying, Apaches hovering and freaked-out troops shooting right and left (yes, they shot civilians). Then, on top of all that crap, they decide to show the pictures on tv to 'prove to the Iraqi people' the deaths of Uday and Qusai... Pleeeeease... those pictures were obviously Bush's war trophy. And could they have come at a more convenient time for the nitwit??? I think not...

So, things are tense here. They have been since the end of the war. Someone has told troops posted in Mosul that everyone is the enemy- even little kids- so watch out! And they have been doing just that.

I'm so angry and frustrated Salam as everyone seems to be. We've got thousands of angry, ignorant American troops running around with tanks and guns pointed at everyone. What the hell happened? And since you're working with the press, what's up with not giving the number of American casualties?! It's funny how on Al-Jazeera the give the numbers in the following way: 'two wounded and two dead'... half an hour later it's: 'three wounded and one dead'- 'lo and behold! They are being resurrected!!!

Well, I'm telling you now- there have been plenty of casualties in Mosul during the 'gunfight' and after (in one of the wooded areas), but you'll be hearing about those in the following form: Troops Die in Car Accident in North of Iraq as Car Swerves to Avoid Crossing Sheep!

I was at the Hussein sons burial yesterday, will be blogged. check out Tyler Hicks's photo. he is hardcore i tell you.
go check G.'s new post in the mean time. you want fresh and witty go to G.