Best of Blogs Round-Up: Tuesday, February 28, 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: Cheese-Cutter
An Embarrassment of Bias
Shazzerspeak / Feb. 24, 2006
Regular readers of ShazzerSpeak know that my Significant Other is not always thrilled by the fact that I write so regularly about our lives on the internet for
So considering the circumstances, she tolerates my blogging hobby pretty well (even though I do seem to have to explain the concept of "artistic license" to her on a fairly regular basis). Her only consistent gripe is about the ratio of embarrassing moments shared, hers vs. mine. I maintain that it only seems like hers are more likely to become entires because she embarrasses more easily than I do.
7 or 8 people all the world to see. Dr. Darling is a very private person on top of being pretty typically Swedish, which means her preferred mode of operation is "invisible".
For instance, she wants to know why I haven't written about an incident that happened the other night in which I shattered the silence of an empty street with a really loud fart just as a bicyclist was passing us in the other direction. She was mortified that I would let one fly so freely in public, but it's not like we knew the cyclist or will ever see that person again. My belly felt better and we both got a good laugh out of it...what's the big deal?
I mean, it's not like I'm admitting to something like...oh, say...listening to curling on the radio because we were in the car when the Swedish women's olympic gold medal match started.
Now THAT would be embarrassing.
Featured Blogger II: Ghosts of Saddam
Iraq's Shiites, Sunnis and Equal-Opportunity Blame
Free Iraqi /February 23, 2006
Since the end of the war every atrocity committed in Iraq was attributed to the Sunnis, not just the Ba'athists or radical Sunnis but all Sunnis. The poor She'at and Kurds have been suffering for hundreds of years while the Sunnis were all privileged and living in a paradise called Iraq, which is not the same Iraq She'at and Kurds were living in as in that Iraq goods were cheap, salaries hit the skies and we had TV shows where comedians make fun of Saddam. No one had to serve in the military and we were free to travel anywhere we wanted. In those times only She'at and Kurds were forced to serve in the army while Sunnis only worked as managers and ministers. Those poor She'at soldiers and officers were forced to kill their own people in the south and bomb their most holy shrine in Krabala in the 1991 uprising...
When I served in the military I made friends with a devoted She'at Captain, well not made friends but actually I was paying him so that I spent most of the 3 months I had to serve in my home. This guy was very proud of his job and accomplishments. He often talked about his heroic actions against the "saboteurs". Who were those saboteurs? No, not just the Badr Brigade which was active after 1991 but mostly anyone who stood against Saddam during the uprising and that meant the vast majority of the She'at. Yet this Captain always refer to the She'at Imams and quote them during our conversations saying this Imam "Peace be upon him" or that Imam "God bless his secret" which I'm sorry I don't know what it means!
I asked this guy once about how he, a devoted She'at see the bombing of holy shrines in Najaf and Karbala back then during the uprising. He didn't answer the question and kept blaming the saboteurs and Iranians. There were no Americans at that time or he would have blamed them.
That guy was no exception for the denial most Iraqis lived in at Saddam's days and we had many officers like him in our camp. The commander himself, a General was a She'at. This is part of the reason, as I think, why most Iraqis especially She'at do not want Saddam's trial to take its natural long course. They don't want to remember their submission and even collaboration with the tyrant, as it's very humiliating to them. Most of you have seen the tape from Dujail. Who were those hundreds of people racing each other, stumbling to the ground to cheer the great leader? The "Victims" themselves. Yes they had too, but honestly I think they didn't have to take it that far, but it's that paralyzing fear that makes most people not only submit to evil but volunteer most of the time, reporting their own flesh and blood at times to prove their innocence. Do I blame them for that? Not really, as I felt that fear too and it wasn't easy to cope with at all. But I blame them now when they try to show themselves as the innocent victims and blame everything on Saddam and the Sunnis.
No, we were ALL part of the tragedy and those massacres and we all have to own that to finally come clean and start fresh. Only the Kurds seem to have the right to claim that they always stood against Saddam, which is true but then again their motives were not patriotic at all and certainly not humane. They were ethnic.
Saddam's regime was not a sectarian one. It was a dictatorship that relied on family and tribal relations and on petty servants who sold their souls to him for money and some illusionary power from within each community. He oppressed Kurds because they were his slaves and on top of that he disliked them more because they were not Arabs. He oppressed She'at because they were his slaves and then he also disliked their sect. He oppressed Sunnis because they too were his slaves and other than that he didn't dislike them for any religious or ethnic reason, so how fortunate Sunnis were!
The She'at attitude these days makes me compare it to that of the African Americans in general. Yes they were enslaved and severely oppressed for hundreds of years and they're still subjected to some degree of discrimination in some areas by some, but is their reaction to all this healthy, or even helpful to them? And haven't they really gained equality in a way that at least enables them to lead a successful dignified life? I'm certainly not an expert in that and don't want to go deep into something I'm not that informed about but from what I read and heard it seems that some of them are still trapped in that victim's skin and blame all their misfortune on the others.
I think it's human nature that makes us feel comfortable in rushing to give our problems a specific name and that name should not be "us". It's a relief to some people, especially those whom their liberty and independence were taken away from them for a long time, to blame it on the others.
So, Sunnis are not the pure evil and She'at are not that innocent and that was the case since Saddam's days. Yes, Sunnis were more accepting of Saddam's regime in general and were more opposing to the change, but the thing is that they "were" and now things have changed a lot.
She'at control the government totally, except in Kurdistan and have been monopolizing power since shortly after the war. Sunnis opposed the political process in the start and some of them supported the terrorists and the Ba'athists, out of fear, sympathy or hatred towards the She'at, but that changed now and they have accepted democracy and voted in large numbers despite the threats. You hear of She'at killed by Sunnis but do you hear of Sunnis killed by She'at? Not so often but the truth is that it happens on a daily basis that even the Americans and the British are aware of it now. Every now and then we hear about dozens of bodies found handcuffed and blindfolded with a shot in the head. Nobody claimed responsibility for those crimes which is strange given that the terrorists almost always announce their crimes and don't have a problem saying that they targeted She'at since they "collaborate with the occupiers" not to mention that they're "apostates".
What's also strange is that most of those bodies were always found just to the south of Baghdad, in Hilla or Kut. Sunni clerics have been claiming that those are Sunni youth abducted by the police that's under the control of the SCIRI or She'at militias. No one believed them and I myself never believed them because they lack credibility and because they supported the terrorist and we all knew their agenda. Sunnis had had no other representatives other than those Mullahs who collaborated with the terrorists and some ex-Ba'thists because anyone who even try to be involved in politics in Sunni areas get tortured and beheaded by the terrorists or the Ba'athists whom the Americans couldn't drive out of those areas for good.
You know what we fear mostly here in Baghdad? It's not speaking against Saddam or the Ba'ath or the terrorists, not anymore except in places like Azamiya, it's speaking against Sadr and to a lesser extent against the SCIRI.
She'at are no better than Sunnis and the Sadirists and the SCIRI are worse than Saddam. You spoke against Saddam and you're a traitor. You speak against Sadr and you're an infidel AND a traitor. It's only the American presence that's making them tone down their oppression and commit their crimes in the dark. The Sunnis have lost their power and even accepted that and they're now just a minority that needs to be protected not fought. She'at on the other hand have gained their natural right as a majority and they have most of the control but unfortunately those of them in control are abusing the power they gained, just like Saddam.
The main problem is us, Iraqis whether we're She'at, Sunni or Kurds. And the problem is also the American administration's ignorance on many of the facts on the ground with the exception of the American embassy and namely Khalil Zada who I think is doing a great job, but unfortunately it seems like most of the influence is still in the hands of the military and some people in the white house who seem to still think that Sunnis are the enemy.
But I don't want Iraqis and Americans to blame each other, as that's not productive at all. Americans have been doing us a HUGE favor and we need each other and we need to trust each other and part of our cooperation is to tell each other when we're wrong, and I believe some Americans are not seeing what's happening in Iraq very clearly and many decisions were made based on this blurred vision.
I think we should all look at ourselves first and for me I think the major problem is that Saddam's mentality is still running this country through people like Sadr, Al-Hakeem, Adnan Al-Dulaimi and Barzani. It's those people who keep inflaming those already existing divisions for their own benifit, as they represnt nothing but ethnic and sectarian hatred and they feed this fear and hatred among their people so that they vote for them. We Iraqis need to see that and then Americans need to see that too. The solution is certainly not even visible now but I think it helps a lot to identify the problem first.