Friday, January 09, 2009

Collected Salam Pax blogs and new blog on my wordpress blog: Salam Pax

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


Saturday, April 10, 2004

I think Hiatus is the word. Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Remember the days when every time you hear an Iraqi talk on TV you had to remember that they are talking with a Mukhabarat minder looking at them noting every word? We are back to that place.

You have to be careful about what you say about al-Sadir. Their hands reach every where and you don't want to be on their shit list. Every body, even the GC is very careful how they formulate their sentences and how they describe Sadir's Militias. They are thugs, thugs thugs. There you have it.

I was listening to a representative of al-sadir on TV saying that the officers at police stations come to offer their help and swear allegiance. Habibi, if they don't they will get killed and their police station "liberated". Have we forgotten the threat al-Sadir issued that Iraqi security forces should not attack their revolutionary brothers, or they will have to suffer the consequences.

Dear US administration,
Welcome to the next level. Please don't act surprised and what sort of timing is that: planning to go on a huge attack on the west of Iraq and provoking a group you know very well (I pray to god you knew) that they are trouble makers.

Oh and before I forget.........Help please.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

just a couple of posts long but already sounding like a winner
And then do you know what Fiona Katie did next???

Fired an AK47!

Yes, the very first thing I did in Baghdad, just moments after I got out of the vehicle, I borrowed an AK47 from an Iraqi and fired it (into the air).
it is a bout a girl with a tool kit in Iraq apparently. This is why I love blogs, a million times better than television. I can't wait to see what she tries next. Go read Wires. [via the Guardian's weblog]

Saturday, March 20, 2004

and another public announcement

we have finished cutting the Karbala film. It is 13 minutes and 38 seconds long and I am very happy with the result. it should go on air either the 24th or the 25th on Newsnight. It is really good and if you have a chance to see Newsnight you should take a look. I am very glad that I had a chance to see the Ashour thing and to be able to film it as well. It is not about the bombs it is about the festival itself.

and if you are into web chat thingies them maybe you should check this out . talk to you there on Monday.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

I am still alive. I have just been given a 10 minute breather from the small dark room I sit in to script and edit the films for Newsnight. The first one, about the one year anniversary not Karbala, will go out tonight. check the Newsnight website to see if they put a version online. What you can go check out now is a very interesting poll (PDF file). Look thru it, I think it will give you a very interesting view. it is worth your time.

and you are officially reading an award winning Blog, I have won a Bloggy Award. Yay me.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

I am sorry, please accept my apologies for not updating. My mind doesn't seem to be able to multi-task any more, I am in filming mode, and with a certain person here with a whip in her hand, I can't even get a chance to check my emails.

Karbala was one of these things I will never ever forget in my whole life, I don't care what you think of the rituals that are practiced, the fact is that the atmosphere was beautiful. Peacful and so much passion and devotion, it brings tears to your eyes. I have seen things that left me baffled for hours.

I, my mother and my cousin were out of the center of the city, running, by the third mortar. it was the last two that did the damage and it happened near the shrine of Abbas not al-Hussein where we were staying.

I am not sure I am more phased out by the rituals I saw and witnessed there or by the attacks and their consequences. I have gone thru the footage I have from the 4 days over and over again. The world being a very unfair place I can't show you the 400 minutes I have and tell you about them, people will chop it down to 12 minutes.

There was such a feeling of solidarity and unity and peacefulness, you had to be there to feel it. People were sleeping on the street, stands giving out everything, from tea and milk in the morning to full meals, for free. 2 million people squeezed into this one place and not even a small fight.

I frikkin' met an Ayatollah! a real life Ayatollah, I watched him eat a banana and then he put his hands on my shoulder and prayed that I get married soon, my mom was beside herself with joy and I just couldn't stop laughing.
The heretic fagot getting a blessing from an Ayatollah. that is how great those four days were.

I have to go now and finish all the things my lovely producer asked me to do, otherwise I will be whipped tomorrow.

Raed always says that there is a small tiny Salam who wants to believe in the existance of a deity inside of me, during those couple of days in Karbala I was being confronted with this issue every minute and wherever I look. I am so glad I was there. wish you were with me so that you don't only remember the horrible images we saw on TV of the site of the attack but to also remeber that 4 hours later people were back and continued with the rituals of that day.

Now my friendly producer will lock me in a small dark room they call an editing suite.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

salam i was trying to call your phones all the day long, i hope u didnt die in the karbala explosions

I'm coming back to baghdad next week

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

ummm.......we have Arabic [Big Brother] now. The plot to make the whole world eat and watch the same things is going pretty well, don't you think?
Raed you should have been here today, how could miss out Ashura? Well, you still have 5 more days to get your ass back to Iraq and in Karbala,

We are approaching a very important date in the Shia calendar; this is something that has not been publicly commemorated for the last 25 years. Today is the third day in Muharam, in 7 more days the Shia Imam (saint?) al-Hussain will be killed in a battle that almost wiped out all the prophet’s male descendants but one, Zain al-Abideen. And you ask who was going to wipe out Mohammed’s lineage? It was the Sunni Caliph Yazeed.

Go grab that beer, it is story time again. This is the second part of the [what’s up with those Shia and Sunni dudes?] story.
If you don’t feel like a story scroll down to the pictures.

So I assume you have been reading the blog and already know that the prophet announced before his death that whoever sees a leader in him should see a leader in his cousin Ali. Which the Shia took as a sign that the rule of the growing Muslim empire should be in the hands of the descendants of the prophet. Things didn’t happen like that.

The revolution that was led by an orphaned man to make all believers equal in the eyes of Allah wasn’t gaining much ground with the big rich families of Mecca. If you have read Salman Rushdie’s [Satanic Verses] you’ll see how he hinted at the disgruntlement of the big rich families, they were calling it a revolution of “water bearers and slaves”. This is not just fiction, in a book titled [the political left and right in Islam] – please excuse me for forgetting the name of the author - it is suggested that after all of Mecca became muslin, willingly or by force, the older tribes were not going to allow the rule of this growing institution go to the hands of an unknown, an orphan. This gap between the old and the new power, the author suggests, has always been at the heart of Sunni/Shia trouble in the early days of the Caliphate.

Four Caliphs down the line, as we get into the Ummayad period, things are getting more and more decadent and. When Yazeed comes to become Caliph in Damascus he wants to make sure that there will not be anyone from the Prophet’s family to contest his right to the throne. He sends someone to kill al-Hussain, the next in line of Imams.

In the mean time al-Hussain is getting messages from Kufa/Iraq telling him that they support his cause and wish he would come to Kufa and lead the believers there. Seeing that he has no choice al-Hussain moves to Iraq. He takes with him all his family, the prophet’s family and followers of al-Hussain i.e. Shia. It is a small entourage since he is expecting the help of the Iraqis in Kufa. 72 men with their women and children.
Before he arrives a messenger is sent to check things out in Kufa, the messenger is a family member. The first day he arrives all the city prays behind him, a sign of respect. The Sunni Caliph sends his envoy to warn the people of Kufa from following this man. When the messenger comes to pray the next day, no one from the city is in the mosque and when he is killed and hung from a minaret no one from Kufa rises to avenge his death or bring him down for burial. Bad sign for the Shia on their way but with no wireless internet the word doesn’t get to al-Hussain. He doesn’t know that those people who have pledged support are all hot air. He falls into a trap.
Surrounded for 10 days, his few followers try to protect him and die one after the other. Zain al-Abideen was too ill to fight and this saved him from death. The story of the battle has been told on the blog before, will dig into the archives and post a link and some of it.

After this event Islam was split into two for ever. And the Shia have lamented the death of al-Hussain since then. Every 10th of Muharam, the first Islamic month, is a day of deep mourning for Shia. He is seen as a symbol of Shia struggle and the story with all its gory details gets told and re-enacted every year. There is also a deep sense of regret for abandoning al-Hussain in his most difficult hours, hence the flagellation.

Why do they start 7 days before the actual day of the death? That is because so many of the Imams died on that day there is no chance to commemorate all their deaths in one day. The laments on each day tell the story of one of the Imams building up to the big day on the 10th of Muharam. The day of Ashura.

The scenes I saw today are things I have never seen before, my mother and uncles would tell me about them but the event was banned. I, my mother and cousin will be going to Karbala for a week. I hope I will be able to take pictures and blog from there. This is of such significance to Shia in Iraq this year it should not be missed. You said freedom of expression? Well, this event is going to test the boundaries of this freedom. You can bet your ass that the Sunnis will see this year’s Ashura as a provocation and you can bet your friend’s ass that the Shia will use it to provoke. Poking the hornets’ nest is a very close image. So we be there wearing black and a pious beard with a camera in hand.


About today’s pictures; they were taken in Baghdad, Kadhimiya district. The processions took place near the Imam Kadhim shrine. I had a video camera in my hand and although it is nifty and has a place for a memory stick to allow for still photos I forget to press that button. If you want to see the really interesting stuff you will have to wait for the film which will hopefully air on Newsnight, besides you need to hear the sound of the drums and those metal chains going down.


As always, click to see big.

Main street in Kadhimiya, leading to the shrine. It has two gold domes.

The child of al-Hussain was killed at that battle as well that is why there will always be a procession of kids.

the entrance of the Kadhim shrine.

these are called Hodej, they will be lighted up with candles at night.

mysterious blogger turned Reuters journalist. G doing what he does best: scrweing up my shot. He should get [young Iraqi journalist of the year] award, you should see his photography.

this thing is called a Zirengi, I have no idea what it symbolizes but every group of lamenters has one

sometimes they looked worried, sometimes they lookes bemused, but in general the american soldiers managed to keep a low profile at this event.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

I am concentrating all my efforts on growing a beard these days. I read on a web site somewhere that if I sit in total darkness with little balls made of aluminium foil stuck in my ears it will grow faster. I have been giving it a try for a week now, it is not working. I sit in front of the mirror for hours willing my beard to grow.

Happy Islamic New Year Y'all

Now, go easy with that non-alcoholic champagne.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

The first time I got an email from an American soldier in Iraq I wasn’t sure how to react. These days I read a couple of US soldier blogs and a couple even send me emails every now and then. I was answering one of them from [Mr. Somewhere-in-the-north-of-Iraq] when I decided later to post it on the blog. So here it is. And on a more personal note; No [Mr. Somewhere-in-the-north-of-Iraq], it doesn’t bother me that you are “one of the American occupiers?” because I don’t think of you as an Occupier, I know you would much rather be home and you are stuck here because someone said this is where you should be.

This is what he wrote:
What's the right answer?

Is it to have driven Saddam out (which requires a war), but with a truly United, worldwide coalition, along with a master-plan for the post-war? Is there another way to have removed Saddam? Or should he have been left in power, isolated from the international community, and basically allowing the maintenance of the status quo? Although I know most of Iraq wanted him gone, is it realistic to believe that Iraqis would have pushed Saddam from power? I think--but don't know--that Saddam had consolidated so much power over the masses that it would have been impossible for Iraqis themselves to deal the death knell to his regime (that would pass on to his progeny)? Basically, should the issue of Iraq been left 100% to the Iraqis from the beginning (no war)?
On another note, is America too powerful? Doesn't it usually do good things with its power, or does it screw up as much as it helps?
He doesn’t believe in easy small talk does he?

It is pointless to debate what should have been done. There was a war almost a year ago and we have to deal with its consequences, there was time for debate much earlier. The powers that be made their decisions, whether right or wrong, at that time. I am a very pragmatic person, Raed’s nickname for me was [Salam the PragmaPig] I deal with the shit as it happens, never a moment of regret – well almost. But for the sake of debate…….

[Dear readers, please give me a chance to empty my mailbox before flooding it with hatemail, otherwise your passionately written critique will bounce]

What annoyed me most in the whole build up to the war was the act the US administration put on, the way they seemed almost surprised at how much of a baddy Saddam has been and how it was time to slap him on the hand and wash his mouth with soap for all the bad things he has done. The various documents that were produced to show how much of a bully he has been on the international playground were treated as if they were so new and startling. That was just silly. What the US administration didn’t put in those records and documents was the extent of its own involvement in building up this monster and now that he has grown bigger than they thought he could they thought it was time to get rid of him. You ask is there another way to have removed Saddam? Well yes but that would have involved something the US administration didn’t see necessary at the time. It should have happened right after the first gulf war. The scene was set and all the players were ready to play there part in Iraq. More than two thirds of Iraq was out of Saddam’s control. There was a sense that people have achieved things for themselves, truly proud revolutionaries not the scared people who had to be helped by an outsider they are now. But what did the US administration choose to do? It pooped on them; it allowed Saddam to start a persecution of Shia that was so extreme; it left the country with deep scars that will take a long time to heal. Even the political situation would have been easier to handle, the rift between Shia and Sunnis wasn’t as big as it is now. The country still had its secular educated class, which now is all over the world having turned to political and economic refugees trying to escape the claws of Saddam and the difficult economic situation in Iraq after the war and the sanctions.
But as I said it is no use crying over spilt milk, we have to deal with what we have now.

You say “Or should he have been left in power, isolated from the international community, and basically allowing the maintenance of the status quo?” well, that is exactly what the Bush administration chose to do at the time, isn’t it? But that policy didn’t just isolate Saddam but the Iraqi people and gave him more power over the destinies of Iraqis, we became so dependant on a government that wasn’t at all fit to take care of us.

Anyway, all that doesn’t matter now. Saddam is gone, thanks to you. Was it worth it? Be assured it was. We all know that it got to a point where we would have never been rid of Saddam without foreign intervention; I just wish it would have been a bit better planned. Does this mean that I will be wearing a (I [heart] Bush) t-shirt? NO, because I don’t believe there is any altruism in politics and the way he sees the world scares me.
What I do really and sincerely hope for is that the day you and other soldiers and US civilians here don’t have to stay behind those high concrete walls isn’t too far away; and that you feel safe walking in the streets without those hard and heavy flak jackets, so that we can sit and talk about these things in a Karrada Street tea shop.
There are many challenges Iraqis have to face now, so please stick around a bit longer and try helping us get thru them. One of the more serious challenges is the fact that Iraq has become a sort of an open playground for many political and religious factions who are using Iraq as a fighting ground.
So there you have it [Mr. Somewhere-in-the-north-of-Iraq], and by the way you never told me whether you had a blog or not.


This post was created with the assistance of Asian Dub Foundation in the CD player and the great coffee I got as a present form my new Blog friends in my mug

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

The Wise Oracle of Gotham asks:
"Mister President, can you give us the names of three National Guard Service colleagues who served with you between May 1972 and October 1973?"
She would have also liked to ask whether he has ever snorted coke?
Blame her for making me think that Kerry might be able to be the superhero who will save the universe. I do think Iraqis should worry about the presidential elections in the USA, it is scary how much influence someone sitting so far away has over the destiny of a nation.
You live in this place for most of your life and you think you know most of the religious festivals and traditions in your country, right? Wrong.

I walked thru Karada street last night only to be surprised by men standing in the middle of an intersection giving away sweets and candy to people in cars and a couple of kids with what was supposed to be fireworks. Karada (which is a predominantly Shai neighborhood) was full of signs congratulating the Shia nation on the occasion of the Eid al-Ghadeer (Eid is a religious celebration). Not wanting to look like an idiot I took the candy, shook hands with the nice gentlemen and ran home to my in-house Shia expert, my Mom.
She gave me the strangest answer ever: “oh yes, Ghadeer, of course. You have to go find and kiss 7 [illwiya]s. It will bring you good luck” – illwiya is a female descendant from the family of the prophet – kids when your parents give you strange answers try Google. Her sister was a bit more helpful; she suggested I go take a look at the Final speech made by the Prophet Mohammed before he died (the Farewell speech). But I still didn’t get it, there is nothing in it that would make the Shia so especially happy. Unless there is something my school textbook is not saying. As I said; try Google.

It turns out that the Ghadeer thing is the best way to explain the Shia/Sunni schism in a nutshell. Sit comfortably, take a sip of that beer and get ready for a story.


It is the year 10 according to the Muslim Calendar; the prophet has just finished his first (and last) pilgrimage to Mecca, to the house of Allah. On his way back he announces to the 100,000 Muslims following him on that pilgrimage that he has just received a message thru the heavenly Information Highway. They stop at a small pond called Khumm (pond in Arabic is Ghadeer, which makes it Ghadeer Khum). The prophet delivers his last speech to the congregation, starting with saying that he fears he will not meet the faithful in this place next year, somewhere in the middle he says the following:
I am leaving for you two precious things and if you adhere both of them, you will never go astray after me. They are the Book of Allah and *my progeny, which is my Ahlul-Bayt.*.
So with that his family, his descendants were given a free Divine upgrade so to say. But it gets better, later in that speech he also says:
Whoever I am his leader (Mawla), Ali is his leader (Mawla). O' Allah, love those who love him, and be hostile to those who are hostile to him.
And presto you have a schism, you see there were others who had their eyes on the quickly growing thing that was called Islam and they were not going to give that over to this young Ali just because he was the Prophet’s cousin. As I pointed out earlier their full name was [Shi’at Ali] which means the group of Ali. They were the people who have and are still trying to assert the right of the Prophet’s descendents to lead the Muslim community. And Eid al Ghadeer is a big thing because they plaster the streets that bit from Muhammad’s speech “Man Kuntu Mowlahu fa haza Aliyun Mowlahu - this Ali is the mawla of all those of whom I am mawla”.
This in a nutshell is the start of the split in Islam. Hope you enjoyed the story.


On the long list of things that I have not seen or experienced before the fall of Saddam I can now add a new item, Eid al-Ghadeer. Happy Eid al-Ghadeer to you all.


There was one sign that was so creative in what it proclaimed I thought it deserved a picture

It says “Ali the talking book of Allah”. Imagine that!

Two FunFacts about Eid Al-Ghadeer:
-Funfact 1: Everey year right after the Haj ceremonies the Saudi Government make sure that the pilgrims from Shia nations are on the move and not anywhere near the Ghadeer where that speech took place. Just imagine it, A celebration of Shia legitimacy in a Sunni country; we can't have that, can we now?
-Funfact 2: The thing about kissing seven [Illwiya]s for good luck.... I was wondering why the streets of Karrada didn't turn into a kissing fest when I was told that my mind was filthy: girls kiss girls and the boys kiss boys.....on the cheek. My mind is not filthy....excuse me now I have to go find 7 boys to kiss.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Shamless self promotion.
The coolest cover the of the book has to be the Japanese edition and a Polish blogger told me about a site that sells the Polish edition.

Update: A reader from Brazil sent me a link to a sitr selling the Brazillian edition, they seem to have chosen a starnge format.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Yesterday was Raed's birthday, did you wish him a good one? I bet you didn't, shame on you.
The plan was to spend 5 days in Sulaimaniya, cousins 4 and 5, my brother and I. To go to the north of Iraq for Eid, but at the first day of Eid we saw those horrible attacks in Erbil and decided it would probably be better not to go. The plan was to go there take pictures and blog, well the plan fell flat on its face and I will have to do this from my bedroom in Baghdad.

I have a confession to make, well not really a confession, it has been on the blog before but the issue was never properly addressed. Part of outing yourself is to have [The Thing] out in the open and face it head-on.

I have been standing on the wrong side of the fence concerning the Kurdish issue. Even before the war, when people were theoretically discussing future models of Iraq the idea of a federal state made me feel a bit uneasy, the thought that the Kurds might not like us Arab-Iraqis at all was always brushed away.
I needed to hear someone talk about the issue form a very Arab-Nationalistic point of view to realize that I am not looking at the other side at all. The Arab nation is a myth that many Arabs still believe in, the main problem with that point of view is that it forgets the diversity of traditions, culture and races in the so-called Arab world.

The way I saw it was, the Kurds HAD to stick to Iraq, the bonds, the ties, "Kurds and Arabs united" and all that. Well, it is all bullshit. It is actually Arab Iraqis who seriously need to beg Kurds to stay along for the difficult ride the rest of the country is going to go thru the next couple of years.
The Kurds have been thru this and an almost working democracy and governing system has emerged after 13 years of self rule. We will be the unwanted load on their shoulders. We should be grateful if they agreed to stay within the boundaries of Iraq as part of a federation.

The discussion about the Kurdish issue gets you the weirdest reactions from people; it is at points like an atheist and a believer discussing the existence of a deity. There is simply no answer and tempers will flare, people will get angry. And as we have seen in the past this is an issue that could lead to civil war.
A federal state is not an option it is a necessity, there is no way around it. A federal state along "geographical lines" - as some people describe it - will not work; it will be along ethnic lines.
You say "it will rip us apart"? Mmhhm, yep it will. But it is a necessity.
You say "no it will be fine"? I say look at the signs, even before we are declared a federal state ministries are becoming tiny experiments for how the future will look like. To get anything; a job, a promotion in a ministry where a Shia minister has been appointed you better be Shia. Not only that but it would be favorable if you were a member of the same party.
Ministry of oil is shia, Ministry of Communication is also shia but Dawa Party, and it makes all the difference if you get the right references. Now imagine what would happen if we had a three part Iraq, do you really believe that a Sunni from central Iraq could really get a job in southern Iraq? Wouldn?t the Kurd rather have another Kurd working for him because he just doesn?t trust Arabs (I have experienced this when I was working with journalists, my presence was silence inducing the moment they realize I am Arab).

But we have to go the way of a federal state, time will heal the wounds and we will learn our lessons, just as long as we can stay within this political entity called Iraq. What it means to be [Iraqi] has to change. At the moment I am kind of worried that our fellow Kurdish blogger might be offended if he were called an Iraqi. To have a post titled: [how to finish off racism in a racist country like Iraq ...some Kurdish thoughts] isn?t a good sign, is it?

My new computer background image says: "Re-examine every thought and concept you have".
A couple of months after the war ended the US army started blowing up UXO’s (unexploded ordinance – it took me forever to figure out what those three letters meant). They issued a warning saying that explosions on the top or half hour were controlled explosions. Just so that we wouldn’t freak out.
Almost half a year later I still look at my watch every time I hear an explosion. I noticed my cousin does the same thing. You wish and hope that this is one of those “controlled explosions” even when I am not really sure the US army is still blowing up ordinance at those times.
I was woken up by an explosion today, opened my eyes and looked at my watch, it was 20 past eight. Went back to sleep wondering if this is going to be big enough to make the news, there are too many of them to mention the whole lot. And around 11pm there was another explosion, very close. You look at your watch, and think oh dear.

Two days ago I spent the night at my apartment instead of staying over at my parent’s. I don’t go there too often anymore; it is too close to the “green zone”. Too much gunfire at night. By now almost every Iraqi can tell the difference between a Kalashnikov (what the so-called resistance is likely to carry) and the sound of the machine guns US troops have.

The constant reminders that it is not over yet.

It all becomes a mess the moment the poor traffic policeman decides to take a break, one of the main features of post-war Baghdad are the amazing traffic jams.

The cool thing is the moment it gets too crazy someone will jump out of his car and do the policman thing, waving his arms around and shouting, or the newspaper guy will volunteer.
In a simple small room with blue mattresses laid on the floor to sit on, Ayatollah Sistani, one of his sons and an assistant met a group of Sunni university professors, tribe leaders and dignitaries. During the 3 hour meeting not one single verse from the Quran was recited, he expressed his fear that federalism might lead to the fragmentation of Iraq and said that if the elections had to be delayed for legitimate reasons he will endorse the delay. My father came back from this meeting quite awed.

In preparation for the transition of power to Iraqi hands there have been numerous conferences and discussion groups, starting at neighborhood levels and going up to more specialized discussions. This has been going on for quite a while and I know that he (my father) was invited to a couple of them to talk, I read one of the papers he wrote on forms of representation, he’s a caucus type of guy. Which kind of makes sense in the current situation, the country is not really ready for a direct one vote per citizen type of thing. Security issues and fraud and the lack of experienced people to monitor the elections come into play.

Anyway, after a couple of those meetings a group of Sunni participants were invited to go and talk to al-Sistani. My father didn’t tell me the [what and how] because he knows I’ll blog it, (my family used to tell me things before they knew about this bad habit I have). But he came back quite impressed saying things like “you wouldn’t find a more secular Imam” which is of course an oxymoron, but it could have been the fact that it was late and he had nothing to eat the whole day. My mom sat with her hands crossed giving him the [ha! So what did you think you’ll meet? A raving lunatic?] look – just I case you are new to this, my father is a non-praying Sunni, my mother is a praying Shia (a Sistani shia) and I think the Quran is a very boring novel.

Apparently there is another meeting planned but no one is telling me when. What impressed my father was the fact that Sistani is much more moderate than the media portrays him. He is very flexible about the way these elections should look like, and sees no problem in them going along in stages. He is also ready to endorse a postponement of these elections if there is no agreement on how they should take place. What he does mind is any form of intermediate stage, if it didn’t work out at the planned time we should keep the status quo until we find a way. He said something along the lines that increasing the Governing Council from 25 to 250 will change nothing, and if the Americans move what they have in their left hand to their right hand it is still in their possession. Basically, either do it right or don’t, which sounds reasonable.

Another interesting thing he said is that Allah gave people the capacity to govern themselves and no one has the right to take that privilege from them, he doesn’t see Iraq as a theocracy like Iran.
All in all a bit confusing. So is he hard-line Shia or not? And why, after staying out of the political game for so long, has he become so central?

More importantly; how can I get that [I’m a blogger] stain out of my clothes? My cousins stop talking when I come into the room unless I swear I won’t put it online.