It’s been a year since I took over editorship of the Carnival of the Liberated for Dean Esmay. Editing the Carnival has been my joy and I’ll keep on doing it as long as Dean lets me. Thanks, Dean.
The year has been enormously eventful for Iraq, the Iraqi bloggers, the Iraqi blogosphere, and the blogosphere as a whole. In this post I’m going to recap the year briefly. I may even indulge myself a bit and make a few more observations of my own than I do in a typical Carnival of the Liberated. Have no fear: the stars of the post will continue to be the Iraqi and Afghan bloggers.
There are now two Afghan bloggers blogging from Afghanistan: Afghan Lord and Afghan Warrior. That’s two more than we had last year at this time. Thanks, guys. It takes enormous courage to do what you’re doing. Keep up the good work. I hope there are a lot more of you by this time next year.
It’s been a year of upheaval for Iraq and the Iraqi blogosphere. Many of the core Iraqi bloggers when I started editing the Carnival aren’t posting anymore; others have taken their places. Some have left the country: Ahmed of Life in Baghdad and Rose of Diary from Baghdad (husband and wife) have moved to Dubai where Ahmed has found work. Khalid Jarrar of Tell Me a Secret left the country after his ordeal. I believe he is in Jordan. This isn’t a good trend. If the best and the brightest leave Iraq it will be that much more difficult to rebuild the country.
Some bloggers have returned to Iraq. Salam Pax, the original Iraqi blogger, has returned to Iraq and is posting again. His observations on the new constitution have been particularly good. neurotic iraqi wife has joined Hubby in the Green Zone and is working to build the new Iraq. But she’s discouraged and posts infrequently these days.
To my mind the most significant issues and events of the year for the Iraqi blogosphere were the U. S. elections, the Battle of Fallujah, the Iraqi election, the deteriorating security situation in Baghdad and Mosul, the arrest of Khalid Jarrar, the tragedy of the A-Imma Bridge, and the new constitution.
The U. S. Election
Iraqi bloggers split along party lines on the subject of the American presidential election. Those most hopeful about the possibilities of a free and democratic Iraq were relieved, even overjoyed. Here’s what Firas Georges of Iraq and Iraqis wrote:
I have come back from Basra yesterday, filled with happiness about the American election result which I stayed awake all night to follow for the first time of my life. I am still busy to finish my accumulated work here in Baghdad and wanted to congratulate the Americans with the re-election of President George W. Bush for another four years.
The Mesopotamian wrote:
Friends, tears came twice to these old eyes yesterday; once in sadness, and once in happiness.[ ]
The second time they were tears of emotion and happiness. As I saw the American people turn out in record numbers, to say their word. And it seems to be the word of defiance and courage. Despite all the propaganda and the feverish campaign, the American people have proved something very important, although the final conclusion still seems to be not official, but every indication is that this is only a matter of little time. This is a most significant and far reaching event. It was most gratifying to see the discomfiture and hardly disguised rancor of Al Jazeera commentators as the results started to take a definite direction. I believe that this outcome and the record turn out have largely for their motivation the considerations that we have in common and which I mentioned in my previous posts.
Not all Iraqi bloggers felt that way. Those most closely affiliated with the old regime and those most opposed to the Occupation were bitter. The Great Iraq wrote:
You deserve no better- I couldn’t wish worse on you if I tried. He represents you perfectly… and red really is your color. It’s the color of the blood of thousands of Iraqis and by the time this four-year catastrophe in the White House is over, tousands of Americans, likely.
Abu Khaleel of Iraqi Letters, IMO the most thoughtful of anti-Occupation Iraqi bloggers, comments:
As an Iraqi, although I have to respect the choice of the American people expressed through a democratic process, I don’t have to be happy about it!
To me it means an approval of “pre-emptive wars”, of taking the “war to the enemy camp” (which means me, my family and my country), of more chaos in Iraq, of Abu Ghraib, of Halliburton; of the bombings and killings, of incompetence, of continued neo-con influence, of unilateralism, of disregard to world opinion, of trying to dominate the world instead of leading it, of more religious antagonism, of more animosity towards Europe and of the ascendancy of fear over hope.
The Fallujah Campaign
Opinion in the Iraqi blogosphere was sharply divided on the Battle of Fallujah. Rose of Diary from Baghdad was sad about it but realized it was a long time coming:
I think Fallujah needed a campaign similar to this long time before the terrorists and gangs strengthened themselves and made large cells and killed many innocent people. Maybe if they did it before they might have made it less bloody with less casualties and without destructing the whole city and driving away thousands of people from their homes and forced them to live in tents without source of heat in this cold weather. As I heard from people living in Fallujah, they had enough from those terrorists , but they could not do any thing against them because the terrorists would kill them with their families. I heard that some of the terrorists forced many families to have them at their homes and I heard that many of those families were killed during some attacks by the US forces. And that’s why the people of Fallujah want to put an end to it.
The Mesopotamian took a similar view:
It does not please any Iraqi to see any city or town in our country suffering the kind of fate that seems to await unfortunate places like Falujah and Ramadi; but whose fault is it really? Were not the people in the town given every chance to reform their ways and stop sabotaging their own country, only to have the place hijacked by extremists who turned the place into a safe haven for killers, kidnappers, be-headers and suicide bombers exported to Baghdad and elsewhere? Extremists turned the place into a Taliban like hell where ordinary people were subjected to the most ignominious and cruel treatment, and I refer you to the few reports that came out from inside the town, and also to the letter from Dave (link on the side bar) where he reports incredibly, that some of the residents are asking the American forces to bomb their own houses which have been occupied by terrorists.
Riverbend saw only senseless barbarity:
The mosque strewn with bodies of Iraqis- not still with prayer or meditation, but prostrate with death- Some seemingly bloated… an old man with a younger one leaning upon him… legs, feet, hands, blood everywhere… The dusty sun filtering in through the windows… the stillness of the horrid place. Then the stillness is broken- in walk some marines, guns pointed at the bodies… the mosque resonates with harsh American voices arguing over a body- was he dead, was he alive? I watched, tense, wondering what they would do- I expected the usual Marines treatment- that a heavy, booted foot would kick the man perhaps to see if he groaned. But it didn’t work that way- the crack of gunfire suddenly explodes in the mosque as the Marine fires at the seemingly dead man and then come the words, “He’s dead now.”
neurotic iraqi wife, September 2004:
When HUBBY had his first vacation over a month ago now, he asked what would I like for him to get me from Iraq, apart from the Saddam watch(which I never got), I told him please get me Iraqi earth, Iraqi soil. And here it is right infront of me, the earth, the earth of my beloved country Iraq.
So my Iraqi Earth, I only ask from you one thing, and that is to please protect all the innocent lives on your soil and above all, protect my HUBBY who just for your sake left his angelic(NOT) WIFE and came to you. You are the only thing that can bring him back to me into my loving arms…….My Iraqi Earth……
neurotic iraqi wife, August 2005:
I ve lost hope in the future of Iraq. I know many of you will find this distrubing but this is generally my own views and what I came to realize by being here. Im sorry, but the free democratic Iraq we all are hoping for wont take place, not now, not in 5 years not even in 10 years unless we get a real government who cares sincerely about the Iraqi people. Iraq needs someone who is honest yet firm, someone who is caring, yet strong. Someone who really is serious in building a country and reviving the people.
I don’t think we Americans, far away from carbombs and fear and death, can really understand what the Iraqis have been going through day after day, month after month. I hope we never shall. But when you read the Iraqi bloggers day in and day out it’s pretty clear that the security situation there has really worn them down.
Iraqi blogger arrested!
Without question the greatest cause célèbre of the year in the Iraqi blogosphere was the arrest of Khalid Jarrar. On July 12, 2005 Khalid Jarrar of Tell Me a Secret was arrested by the Iraqi secret service. His brother, Raed, posted about it here. He was detained, questioned, and released almost two weeks later. Khalid told his own story here. In the meantime it caused an enormous stir in the Iraqi blogosphere, particularly among the younger bloggers. They organized, started letter-writing campaigns, and encouraged others to lobby for his release. It was horrible and frightening but, in retrospect, a pretty proud moment for the Iraqi blogosphere.
The Tragedy of the Bridge
One of the most posted-on events of the year for Iraqi bloggers was the tragedy that took place on the A-Imma bridge in Baghdad on August 31. Here’s how Iraq the Model reported it:
Today Baghdad is witnessing a tragic disaster; hundreds have died and more were injured when huge crowds of pilgrims heading to the shrine of Imam Kadhom caused the fence of the A’imma bridge to collapse pushing people to fall into the Tigris river.
The news is still uncertain about the cause and casualty toll of this disaster but sources in the ministry of health say that around 640 people were killed in the incident.
The government is to blame for a large deal of the incident as they should have arranged sufficient safe pathways for the passage of the crowds especially that such ceremony had been practiced by Iraqis for so many years.
Our condolences to the families of the victims, may God give them patience.
During the time of the Sunni regimes like Saddam regime the rulers used to prevent the Shiites from commemorating their festivals for the same reasons which caused Haron to kill Imam Mosa Al-Kadhem.
The exact and same reasons of the black and hatred ideology caused the Wahabi terrorists to program today’s event. First they were firing rockets over the crowds away from the bridge then they pushed a thug between them over the bridge who shouted ‘terrorist, terrorist; there is bomber over the bridge ‘. The people when heard that run to catch him. The others tried to run away. Whether or not there was a suicidal or not the tool of death reached about 900 people.
The Interim Iraqi government should bear its own responsibility for this and there should be investigation to punish those who were unable to prevent such tragedy.
A Glimpse of Iraq provided context and background.
This story, taking place as it did at roughly the same time as the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina were unfolding on the U. S. Gulf Coast, received less attention than it deserved from the U. S. press and blogosphere. Make no mistake: this is an important story. Fear and rumors have reached the point in Iraq at which imaginary terrorists can kill more innocents than real ones do. As I see it the only real solutions to this are peace and security there and, unfortunately, those are probably some time away.
The New Constitution
For the last several months many of the Iraqi bloggers have commented on the new Iraqi constitution with a mixture of reactions. Iraq the Model and Salam Pax have done particular service in this area in some cases live-blogging the deliberations or providing hour-by-hour commentary. Here’s Iraq the Model’s post on the final discussion session with updates at 1:00pm, 1:10pm, 2:10pm, 2:55pm, 3:35pm, and 4:10pm. Salam Pax did the same thing on August 22 with a whopping 12 updates. Here’s his take on the final product:
The Shia want Shiastan, the Kurds already have Kurdistan and they have both signed a draft, which they think is agreeable to both groups. It is the rest who are being left out and are now trying really hard to fight for the scraps these two groups are throwing at them. And please don’t forget that the ignored groups include secular Arabs who are not really welcome in Kurdistan and won’t find a home in Shiastan.
What the Kurds and the Shia Coalition (grouped around the Iran friendly SCIRI) want is a weak central government which they can easily bypass and start forming their own happy states.
But where do I go?
A poster on Friends of Democracy had a similar take: the new form of government in Iraq is Kilmen Eedeh Ileh (do whatever you want).
Riverbend and The Mesopotamian weighed in today on the constitution and I linked to their posts in this week’s Carnival of the Liberated.
We don’t honestly know yet whether the new constitution will be accepted or rejected or whether, if accepted, it will be successful in preserving an Iraq worth liberating. But that will largely be up to the Iraqis.
I’m looking forward to the next year of Carnival of the Liberated and lots more Iraqi and Afghan bloggers and reading many more great posts. May the next year bring us all peace, prosperity, and freedom.
Cross-posted to Dean’s World