Best of Blogs Round-Up: Friday, February 24, 2006
EDITED BY PIERRE TRISTAM/Candide's Notebooks
Non-disclaimer: We're liberal to the core, but we include in this daily blog review the political, the social, the cultural and the undefinable from the left, the right, the in-between from all over the globe. And we're suckers for good writing regardless of ideology. Clicking the link will take you to the original post.
Featured Blog I: Iraq FAQ
Why They Won't Love Us
Fafnir, Fafblog /Feb. 20, 2006
Q. Why are we in Iraq?
A. For freedom! Recent intelligence informs us it is on the march.
Q. Hooray! Where's it marching to?
A. To set up a government of the people, by the people, for the people, and held in check by strict adherence to the laws of Islam.
Q. Huh! Freedom sounds strangely like theocracy.
A. No it doesn’t! It is representative godocracy, in which laws are written by the legislative branch, enforced by the executive branch, and interpreted by an all-powerful all-knowing deity which manifests its will through a panel of senior clerics.
Q. Whew! Is democracy on the march?
A. Democracy was on the march. Sadly, freedom and democracy were caught in a blizzard and freedom was forced to eat democracy to survive.
Q. It died as it lived: sautéed in garlic sauce with a side of scalloped potatoes. Read the rest...
Featured Blogger II: Operation Bushy Freedom
Avoiding Iraqi Death Squads for Dummies
Zeyad, Healing Iraq /February 17, 2006
I have said it before, and will say again: Iraqis continue to live between the hammer of terrorists, so-called insurgents, and the anvil of American, British and Iraqi security forces.
Note that the detainees in the photos are not necessarily wanted insurgents. Any Iraqi could be caught in a raid and sent to Abu Ghraib, Camp Boca, or worse, to a secret cellar run by Iraqi Interior Ministry forces. No one is safe.
To better understand the extent to which Iraqis do not trust Iraqi security forces, read the following guidelines circulating in Iraq (my translation from Arabic):
Before reading the guidelines, please keep the following facts in mind:
1- The mere fact that you are arrested by security militias would mean possible death or deadly injury, even if you were innocent. Therefore, your main goal should be to escape arrest by any means possible.
2- The phrase "We have a few questions, and you'll be back in an hour" usually means your disappearance for months or, God forbid, your death. Therefore, do not be naive to trust security forces.
3- Remember, your presence in detention means 11 dollars a day for prison officers to feed you; a dollar for your food and 10 for the officers. As a result, keeping you in detention is a guaranteed source of profit for security officers, even if you were innocent.
The following security plan to avoid detention depends on organising neigbourhood watch teams, and in the following manner:
1- Look for trustworthy friends in your area and remind them that your cooperation is vital to save many lives in the neighbourhood.
2- Draw a simple map of your area. Put down the main streets and back alleys that would be used by Interior ministry forces to reach your area. Remember that security patrols will not land on your house from a helicopter, but will instead use main streets leading to your house.
3- You can use Internet services such as Google Earth to identify the streets leading to your area. Download it from http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html
4- Coordinate with your neighbourhood team to watch and to patrol surrounding streets, according to the diagram. This should be around usual raid hours.
5- Exchange landline and cellular phone numbers with your team. Upon noticing a patrol (usually modern 4 wheel drive vehicles with no number plates) entering your area, call to notify neighbours and the rest of your team members.
6- Train your family and friends to be alert to movement in the street, strangers or suspicious activities. Regularly discuss the neighbourhood’s situation with your team members.
7- Every person should be trained on the appropriate method to hide or escape. Learn to hide valuable items and jewelry within minutes of a raid. Remember that all cupboards and drawers will be opened. Beds and blankets will be turned over.
Things to remember:
1- In most occasions, the raiding force is unaware of your identity, until you tell them! Train yourself on impersonating someone else when necessary.
2- It might be a good idea to carry a second ID card, with your own photo but under a different name. Some people have escaped arrest by claiming they were guards with no relation to the family living in the residence.
3- If you are not familiar with your neigbourhood, now is the time to be so. Stay up to date with events and gossip in the area. The murder of your neighbourhood's baker, for example, could lead to the murder of the storeowner next door, as an act of vengeance by security militias. It does not matter if both were innocent.
4- Security militias rarely know you in person. They usually learn your name and address from an informer in your area. It is of the utmost importance to remain alert at all times. Do not enter and leave your residence at known intervals. Do not use the same vehicle if possible. Try to spend a few nights away at friends or relatives.
5- Arrange with your neighbours to place small roadblocks (palm tree trunks) at all entry points to your area. Every extra minute you gain is on your side, and would help you escape more easily.
6- Do NOT resist the raiding force, under any circumstances. Just try to escape capture, using any trick possible. Remember that you know the insides and outsides of your area better than anyone else.
7- Remove anything from your residence or your computer that might be interpreted by the raiding force as related to 'terrorism'. Books, posters, photos, religious leaflets printed in Saudi Arabia, websites, audio and video clips and CDs, even if they are commonly available on the market.
8- Important data on your computer might be lost forever. Use an online storage service to backup your important files, or use a well-hidden flash memory stick, or even your email inbox. If you are forced to destroy your SIM card, you can store your telephone contacts using the same method. Remember that cell phones are almost always stolen during raids. You might endanger your friends and family if security militias confiscate your cell phone.
9- People are commonly arrested and killed because of the surname in their ID cards. If you have a surname that identifies your sectarian background (such as Al-Dulaimi or Al-Janabi), try to issue a new ID with no surname or tribe name if possible. If your birthplace is Ramadi, Fallujah, or Madain, for example, be sure to issue a new ID to keep you safer. Do not drive a vehicle with Al-Anbar number plates in areas of sectarian unrest.
1- Women should arrange to hide valuables such as jewelry, money and important documents as they see fit. The raiding force rarely searches women.
2- Most victims of sectarian killings or torture had specific religious appearances. Try to shave your beard, and avoid behaviour, appearances and discussions that might identify your sectarian background.
3- Before you leave the house, watch for movements and any suspicious vehicles or strangers around you. Do not use the same road often, and try to leave and return at different intervals.
4- If you receive a threat, do NOT ignore it. Move to another area or governorate for some time.
5- Avoid entering sectarian or religious discussions, for whatever reasons, even when you feel you, or your beliefs, are intentionally provoked. Your life is more valuable than a pointless debate.
6- Be respectful and tolerant of your colleagues. Let them feel you are sympathetic and understanding to their feelings. Respect other people’s religious occasions. Close your store or business if necessary. Learn to compliment!
7- Keep the above guidelines in mind all the time. Pass it on to others. Reject sectarianism and remember that all Iraqis of all sects and ethnicities are paying dearly for this.