Monday, May 31, 2004
Below are the answers to the extra questions I got in the comment column
I’d like to ask you whether you were educated in the U.S.? (university)
Yes, I went to the American University in Cairo (AUC) which was established by American missionaries in 1919. Today, AUC is one of the most prestigious universities in the Middle East. However, the vast majority of students and faculty there disagree with my views. So do not make a link between getting an American education and having rather relative pro-America opinions.
I’d also like you to clarify what you mean when you say you wish US aid would go instead to African nations.
American would do itself well if it diverted all its â€œpolitical aidâ€? to countries that really need it. Egypt is a poor country but our poverty cannot be compared to nations such as Mozambique for example. Also, I donâ€™t think Israel needs to be the highest recipient of US economic aid in the world! I understand that aid is an excellent reward, but I believe helping to ease African poverty is much more important.
I’ve read stories that say the CIA has an unmarked small jet that they use to collect suspected terrorists from countries around the world to fly them to Egypt. Once the militants are “rendered” to Egypt, they are pretty much never heard from again.
I think this is true. Recently, Human Rights Watch blamed the Swedish government for extraditing a well known terrorist (who wanted to seek political asylum in Sweden) to Egypt. When we got the guy, we sent him to our Abu Ghreib! It appeared that the CIA asked the Swedish government to extradite him to Egypt right after 911. Many terrorists now live freely in Europe under the â€œhuman rightsâ€? banner.
If the papers are owned by the government, will they tell the truth about what happens in Iraq?
Most Egyptians only read the papers to know sports news! We get the political news from satellite channels. However, those channels will never broadcast something good in Iraq even if God himself became the prime minister. So to hell with Arab opinion, to heaven with Iraqis opinion.
What will the reaction be with the Iranian people change their government?
AHHHH, I wish I can live see this day. Itâ€™s a dream. If I had to pay money for Iran to be free, Iâ€™ll do that. A moderate secular Iran will help Iraq. Those two will change our world. Thatâ€™s why it is so important to do Iraq right. As Thomas Friedman once said â€œbuy one get one freeâ€?.
Do you or most Egyptians feel that it would be better to have them all (Egyptian artifacts) in Egypt or does it not really matter much to people in general?
We have enough problems of our own right now. I really donâ€™t think Egyptians are giving much attention to this issue. So I canâ€™t answer your question in a correct way.
Do any of your friends want to ask questions to the readers of your blog?
I didnâ€™t think about that. Well, Iâ€™ll try to find someone who might be willing to participate in this exchange.
Any festivals you enjoy?
Well, in Egypt we have 3 types of holidays: national (independence, October war, etc), Muslim holidays, and Christian holidays. One particular holiday is called Sham El Nessem. Itâ€™s a day when we welcome the spring. Egyptians celebrate it ever since the Pharaohs were around.
Have you visited the new library in Alexandria?
Yes, itâ€™s huge and neat. I still think they should add more books though. I love Alex, itâ€™s a magnificent city.
Any Egyptians we should root for in the Olympics?
Iâ€™m not aware of any. The sports field is getting worse everyday. I wonâ€™t be surprised if no Egyptian won a single medal.
Is hatred of America running any higher now than it did during previous administrations?
I donâ€™t think so. Some people believe that Bush added gas to the fire of hate, I donâ€™t think so. It was always there. Clinton was hated the same way Bush is today. May be Bush messed up a little bit in Europe, but nothing changed here.
How do Egyptians regard the Palestinian people themselves, apart from the conflict with Israel (to the extent that distinction can be made)?
Many people do not like the Palestinians as people; they just support them because they are Arab and Muslim. Many think that Palestinians would eat your flesh and throw your bones. Some say they are devious and you cannot trust them. I believe this is mere stereotyping. I know many Palestinians whom I love and respect.
What would Egyptians most like to see America do?
Most will tell you that they would like America to:
1) be more harsh on Israel and give the Palestinians a free state
2) Stop being biased to Israel
3) Stop supporting dictators
4) Stop attacking Arab/Muslim countries like Iraq and Syria.
I believe that even if America will do the above, it will still be hated somehow. They will always come up with a reason for this hate. Itâ€™s a clash of civilizations, I truly believe in it.
If we’re true to our word in Iraq, how much might that bolster our case in the region?
That might do 2 things. First, they will start to search for any future problem in Iraq to claim that the US was not true to its word in Iraq (this is why the Abu Ghreib photos were priceless here, they proved a point). Second, however, if Iraq did in fact become the only Arab country that elects its leaders, Arabs else where will start to think silently and say â€œummm, it seems that those bastards were rightâ€?. I yearn for the second thing.
Do Egyptians view the Iraqi people differently than they did a year ago?
Let me give you a chronology:
Before April 9, 2003: Iraqis were brave Arab/Muslims who will fight the invading forces
After April 9, 2003: After welcoming the US forces as liberators, Iraqis suddenly turned to traitors. Shias and Kurds were despised because they welcomed the removal of Saddam.
Today: After the end of the honeymoon between the US forces and Iraqis, they once more became brave Arab/Muslims who are fighting the occupation.
The greatest loss during the past year was the end of this honeymoon. Richard Perle put it so eloquently yesterday on ABC when he said â€œwe allowed the liberation to turn to occupation. We treated the GC members as school childrenâ€?. (Iâ€™m looking for the transcript of his interview with ABC, any clues???)
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Here are my answers to the questions I got. I hope the answers satisfy all those who sent their questions.
I received many questions concerning the US aid to Egypt. Iâ€™ll answer them all below.
Egypt is the second largest recipient of US aid, Israel is the largest. We get $2 billion annually, $1.2 billion in military aid and $800 million in economic assistance. Civilians obviously benefit from the $800 million only. The US started its aid program after Egypt signed a peace agreement with Israel; however, the first aid package arrived when Egypt left the soviet orbit and joined the US orbit after the 1973 war. The US became committed to the government of Egypt ever since.
The $800 million cover a wide range of socioeconomic programs ranging from importing subsidized American wheat to educational campaigns in rural areas.
The average Egyptian believes that US aid comes with a price tag on it. With the rising anti-Americanism in the country, all sorts of conspiracy theories run wild. Some say that the aid is aimed at â€œenslavingâ€? the Egyptian government and forcing it to succumb to US demands. Others believe that itâ€™s aimed at â€œsilencingâ€? the Egyptian government towards what is happening in Palestine. At the height of the Palestinian uprising, some voices demanded that Egypt refuses to accept any US aid and â€œbreak looseâ€? from this chain.
Personally, I find the issue of US aid so ironic. I fully understand that the US wanted to â€œenticeâ€? both the Egyptian and Israeli parties into forging a peace agreement, and that the US is committed to both countries. However, I really wish to wake up one morning and find that Mozambique, Western Sahara, Angola, and Kenya became the largest recipients of US economic aid and not Israel, Egypt, Columbia, and Jordan.
Do you provide opinion for local consumption? Newspapers, TV, radio, etc.
No, the media is much regulated; there are few channels where we can freely discuss political and social issues. The internet and satellite channels are the only venues.
Is the hotel, the Garden City House, still in existence in Cairo?
No, but there are numerous lavish hotels in Cairo today. Four Reasons, Hyatt, and Concord recently opened some very fine hotels here.
Do Egyptians truly accept the viewpoints of the media, or do they have other opinions in private?
No body believes the media where local news is concerned. Headlines such as â€œThe government assures that 40,000 jobs will be availableâ€? are never believed. However, we soak every bit of anti-America news found.
Do Egyptians consider madrassas to be real schools?
If you mean madrassas a la the ones find in Pakistan, we donâ€™t have them. The government keeps a very tight grid on schools and their curriculum.
Are there any militia-type “enforcers” from the Muslim Brotherhood or similar groups making sure disagreement is punished?
No, you wonâ€™t find someone with a stick hitting any unveiled girl he sees. However, such things might happen on a very small scale in rural areas where the governmentâ€™s grip is looser.
Is the standard of living in Egypt rising or falling?
London Bridge is falling down falling down. It was rising in the mid 90s, but currently recession and unemployment are having a party.
What are the economic conditions in Egypt? Is there private property or does the state own the property?
Economic conditions were bad for the past 5 or 6 years. However, the government is undergoing a program of privatization to catch up with the world economy. Some people are happy and others are upset with these policies, it depends upon which economic school you subscribe to.
How deep is the Anti-Americanism?
Deeper than the deepest ocean. However, American people as people are not hated. I think Egyptian anti-Americanism differs from French anti-Americanism in a sense that an American tourist is welcomed with an open arm while this same tourist might face some â€œenvy/hidden hate/stereotypingâ€? from a Frenchman walking in Paris.
How much of a hold do the militant Islamists have on the people?
It depends upon the person, how frustrated he is, how easily can he soak what another person is telling him, how religious he is, and how he tends to interpret his religion. I can say that militant Islam is a huge huge force in Egypt, so strong that the Muslim Brotherhood is considered to be the most powerful opposition body. They feed on the peopleâ€™s sense of frustration and humiliation. Kind off like what Khomenei did 25 years ago with the Iranian people who were frustrated with the authoritarian rule of the secular Shah. Today, their children know that their parents followed the wrong guy. Egypt didnâ€™t reach this point; weâ€™re still in the â€œKhomeneiâ€? period.
What will be the response in Egypt if Iraq becomes a free and prosperous country?
It will make us think and think. Thatâ€™s why I support the US efforts in Iraq. A free decent country in the Middle East will definitely have repercussions across the region.
How are the efforts for expansion of ariable land through irrigation proceeding?
There is a huge project called Toshka in Southern part of Egypt. Desert land was turned into ariable land. However, some people blame this massive project for sucking badly needed finances.
What is the general opinion of your people about the War in Iraq?
Theyâ€™re clap for anything that will upset the US. It is occupation and the US must get out (without giving a damn ratâ€™s butt about the political future of the country). You get the idea.
Why do Arabs hate the Israeli’s is it because of religion?
Yes and no. 60 years ago, there were Jews in almost every Arab country. The largest department stores in Egypt were owned by Jews. Anti-Semitism was born when the state of Israel was born. People started clearing the dust from their Qurans and started quoting all the anti-Jewish scriptures found there. Now hating Jews is a normal reaction towards the Arab-Israeli conflict. Some minds declare that our fight is not with the Jews but with Zionists (those who believe that Jews have a right to have a country in historical Palestine). Anyway, Jews are definitely not cool here.
What kind of reforms are going on in Egypt? If so how real is the talk or is it just lip service?
Even if it is just lip service, I think it is a good start. Yes, for the very first time the word â€œreformâ€? is mentioned. When will they match words with actions? I donâ€™t know. I think if Iraq turned out to be decent, it will definitely give the reform agenda a good push.
How do you and/or most Egyptians feel about the ancient pieces from your country that have been stolen and scattered about the world?
There have been efforts to return them to Egypt especially from Britain, our past colonial ruler. Some did return but others were kept in Western museums as â€œambassadorsâ€? of Egyptian history. Thatâ€™s as far as I know.
How does Egypt combat terrorism and the hardliners that promote it? Or does Egypt even bother with it aside from saying they do?
You know Abu Ghraib? Multiply is by 1 million and you get the picture. Islamists are the governmentâ€™s main opposition and they are not tolerated, period.
To what extent do you think that the Soviet Union and associated Marxist-Socialist ideology during the Cold War have contributed to the development of anti-American sentiment in the Middle East?
In Egypt there are 2 main opposition groups that formed a recent surprising alliance to counter â€œUS attacksâ€?: Islamists and the remnants of socialist leftovers from the Nasser era (we call them Nasserists). Those two groups hate the USA with every ounce of their flesh even though they have 2 different local agendas. On June 6th Bush will go to Italy. Youâ€™ll see Italian communists, tree huggers, and immigrant Islamists joining hands in rallies against him. You get the picture. Hate of the American government is widespread here, religion is the main thing that adds oil to the fire. Now it is not just I-donâ€™t-agree-with-US-policies but rather I-donâ€™t-agree-with-those-christian-jewish-crusaders.
how bad is the overall sentiment towards Israeli’s in Egypt?
Bad, bad, bad, bad, ba, zzzzz
Also, why aren’t Egyptians ever having their holidays in Israel? We do have a peace treaty…..
Before the uprising, some Egyptians did go to Eilat and enjoy the sun there even though those were still frowned upon. Today, nobody can go to Israel with such conditions. Egypt withdrew its ambassador remember.
What do your friends think about communicating with the blog readers?
I am not aware of any Egyptian blogs except http://arabstreetbum.blogspot.com
He once posted a ferocious attack on me without giving me any notice. I emailed him my response and Iâ€™m waiting for his.
Is it true that the Copts can’t build any new churches due to some Ottoman-era law?
Yes, however, they can build churches after going through various crippling bureaucratic procedures. Getting a license to build a mosque will take days; getting a license to build a church will take months. I am totally against that. However, the government has taken various measures to address the â€œCoptic problemâ€? after it received international scrutiny. www.copts.com is a site by Copts in the Diaspora.
what are the major newspapers in Egypt?
Egyptâ€™s main newspapers are the Al-Ahram, Al-Akhbar, and Al-Gomhoriya. They are all government owned. Most of the papers are owned by the state. However, various opposition political parties have their own small newspapers as well. Recently, there is a trend going on to start independent papers. All papers are free to criticize the ministries, the president and national security issues are untouchables.
why do the opinions of the majority of your countrymen differ so much from yours?
I am realistic by nature, I refuse to follow, I like to have an independent view on things. Besides, you will always find a rebel in every society. Yesterday I was talking with an Iraqi who works as a translator with the US army. He is very pro-America. I was shocked when he told me that he is from the Adhamiya, the Sunni district in Baghdad. This area is the most pro-Saddam and anti-US area in Baghdad. He told me how some people sent his mother a message threatening to kill her son if he didnâ€™t stop working with the US army. See, Iâ€™m like him, I refuse to follow, Iâ€™m a rebel.
I have often wondered why there are so very few voices from the middle east region who embrace the theories of liberalism and who prefer religion to be that of a personal nature rather than a collective rule of the land.
There are. However, they are muted by the tremendous force of radicalism that emerged in the region. About 8 months ago, a liberal newspaper started appearing on Egyptâ€™s newsstands. Before its release, several commentators, especially the Islamic among them, accused the paper of receiving funds from the US State department. The paper is in fact very liberal in its thinking (against radicalism, etc), however, its editorials are very anti-America in order to combat this accusation and simply to be regarded as an â€œinsideâ€? paper. I used to buy this paper on a regular basis but ceased to do so. I hate anti-Americanism for the sake of anti-Americanism.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
I was going to post yet another OP-ED on Iraq when I came across this fellow blog. The blog owner allowed his readers to send him questions about Iraq and he answered them on his blog. I liked the idea. I think I should focus more on Egypt since I can see that most of you guys would like to know more about my ancient land. So, send me any questions you might have via the comment section or email. I will try to answer as many as possible. If you would like to email me any question and comment, please don’t hesitate to do so at email@example.com
Monday, May 24, 2004
Back to Egypt
Here is some stuff about Egypt.
Rubyâ€™s Belly Button not Welcomed
The Ministry of Culture passed a law forbidding any video clip sporting naval buttons to be shown on state owned television. The law came after Ruby, one of Egyptâ€™s latest pop singers (and sex bombs), released two â€œrevealingâ€? video clips. In the first clip, Ruby is shown dancing with a belly dancer costume while the camera is focusing on her belly and legs (where else would it focus?). The other clip shows Ruby singing on a gym cycle in compromising postures. However, this law is not enforced on private satellite channels and the internet. Well, bad luck, most of us watch those video clips on satellite!
The Humiliation Factor
Today I was standing in front of a newsstand trying to search for a good magazine to buy. One magazine had a huge picture out of the Abu Ghreib album on its cover. Two teens were standing in front of this magazine. â€œI feel so angry when I see those picturesâ€? one told the other. I think he choose the wrong terminology, I think he should have used the word â€œhumiliatedâ€? instead of â€œangry. We Arabs feel so humiliated from many different things. We react to this humiliation in many different ways. Some of us blow twin towers, wage war against our rulers who did a horrible job in running our lives, or simply do nothing and keep the humiliation piling. However, very few of us decide to give the post-911 US a chance and pray that she will use its tremendous power to help us bring change a la Germany, South Korea, France, and Eastern Europe. I belong to this group.
Saturday, May 22, 2004
A Little Fresh Air
It seems that bad news only get the most coverage. Today something significant happened that received no coverage whatsoever from the 2 main Arab propaganda satellite channels. A group of senior clerics in Najaf sent a harsh worded letter to Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the radical Lebanese Shia group Hizbollah, accusing him of telling half the truth when he accused only the US forces of desecrating the holy shrines in Najaf and Karbala. The letter mentioned that Al Sadrâ€™s militias fought from inside the shrines, it even went further to accuse Al Sadrâ€™s men of shooting at the shrineâ€™s doom and intimidating Sistaniâ€™s group by spraying his house with bullets.
In addition, news began to surface indicating that the senior clerics of the sadrist movement disapprove of the way Muqtada is behaving but they are afraid to say so in public lest they be killed.
Iâ€™m wondering why such news do not get reported by our Arab media. I am also so upset that no Western media, as far as I know, reported this news. I found the news in several Iraqi websites including the reputed Iraqi newspaper Azzaman.
Friday, May 21, 2004
Dear Paul Bremer,
Fire your entire CPA (can’t provide anything)experts staff and employ those instead:
Yizak Nakash (shia expert)
Amir Taheri (check out this PLEASE)
ME! (I’ll work for free just for the sake of Iraq)
Thursday, May 20, 2004
I wanted to complain to someone about the problems in Iraq. I found none except this person:
I am just writing to ask you why is everything going on so bad in Iraq? Why havenâ€™t we heard at least some good news in the recent months? It seems unfair. Iraq means a lot to freedom lovers in the Middle East. We, the freedom lovers of the Middle East, are ready to support anyone, even the USA, so that Iraq becomes at least a decent country in such a dark region. God, I know that you have created us as free beings. You gave freedom to Adam and you made him decide whether to sin or not. It seems that you love freedom. Then why is all this happening in Iraq? Bombings, fear, insecurity, Al Jazeerah, and now the Abu Ghreib photos. Why is it so messed up?
God, I donâ€™t give a hoot about Arab opinions, I do support George W. Bush because I choose to believe in his sincerity towards creating a decent country in Iraq. I am not asking for a Denmark, not even an India, but a decent country that is better than the other 21 Arab nations. I do not believe I am asking for much.
God, if you are against the USA and choose to give her such a hard time in Iraq, then I suppose you are pro-baathists, pro-islamists, and pro-muqtada al sadr. Forgive me, I find it so hard to believe that you can somehow favor those 3 groups. God, baathists killed thousands upon thousands of Iraqis, Islamists stand against all your values of freedom and love, and Muqtada al Sadr is an Iranian puppet who has no problem terrorizing the people of Najaf and Karbala just to score some political points. He too stands against all your values. Please God, if you want to punish the USA for something then please punish her somewhere else.
When New York Times columnists Nicholas Kristof told Ayatollah Nazeri – an excellent moderate cleric in Iran- that he comes from the â€œGreat Satanâ€?, Nazeri responded by saying â€œno, you are a small devil, the great satan is here, the self-appointed Iranian religious ruling classâ€?. God, I believe Ayatollah Nazeri is right. The USA is not the Great Satan but she is a small devil, in fact, there are no Great Angels anywhere in the world. So, I urge you to support the small devil because he has an excellent plan for Iraq.
God, something deep inside me tells me that you hate Muqtada al Sadr. Then can you tell me why on your earth the latest poll showed that his popularity surged in Iraq. God this is not fair. The USA is getting a hit after a hit after a hit whether in Iraq or the US congress and I am getting tired of this. For the sake of humanity, for the sake of Iraq, please intervene. The US has a noble cause in Iraq; she just needs your help. Please protect her from the wolves outside and the wolves within. The wolves outside are the baathists, islamists, sadr, al jaeerah, non-Iraqi and non-Kuwaiti Arabs, Iran, Syria. The wolves inside are those Pentagon officials who had no post-war plan whatsoever and still believed that they can run Iraq on the cheap. The inside wolves are also those who know nothing about Arab culture and ordered their female soldiers to pose in front of naked and dead prisoners.
Donâ€™t convince me that you are a pacifist who is against the war in Iraq. I donâ€™t buy this because if you were against this war then, forgive me, I have to accuse you of being passive towards the slaughterer Saddam Hussein. I didnâ€™t send this letter to your self-appointed ambassadors the Vatican because I see no difference between them and the Pharisees whom Jesus met. They stood silent while millions of Jews were burned in the holocaust, they stood silent when kids were raped by some of their priests, and they stood silent when Saddam was filling his mass graves with Iraqi bodies. Why are they acting as angels now and boasting an anti-Bush attitude? Well, mere hypocrisy. This is the reason why I sent this letter to YOU.
God, please forgive me if the mess in Iraq was not created by you. I believe that we accuse you of many things that you are innocent of. For example, we sometimes accuse you of bringing lung cancer to us while we choose to smoke 3 packs of cigarettes a day. However, I believe that you can intervene regardless of who made this mess. You heal and mend the broken without asking about who did the damage. Please heal Iraq. Please make George W. Bush win in Iraq. PERIOD
Private comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Today I have decided to break away from Iraq and report on things that are going on in Egypt.
Egypt Got a Zero from FIFA
Egypt wanted to organize the 2010 world soccer championship. Last Saturday, Egypt got no votes from the FIFAâ€™s 25 members committee. South Africa got the highest number of votes and will organize the reputed championship in 2010.
Everyone was expecting South Africa to win, but nobody expected such a shameful loss for Egypt. We were hoping for an honorable loss.
The parliament decided to look into the matter to decide who was responsible for the defeat. As usual, the Minister of Youth and Sports blamed outside forces such as FIFAâ€™s chairman playing politics, biases towards South Africa, etc. The usual â€œeverything but our faultâ€? kind of thing.
Muslim Brotherhood MPs Do Not Want Mel Gibson!
A number of Muslim Brotherhood members of parliament sent a letter to the parliament leader asking him to bring the Minister of Culture (who allows or disallows movies to be shown) to testify before the parliament and explain why he allowed the screening of the movie â€œthe passion of the Christâ€?. They claimed that this movie opposes the Quran; the Quran says that Jesus was not crucified but they crucified someone whom they thought to be Jesus. All sound MPs and intellectuals disagreed with their stand and expressed their positive opinions on the movie. An intellectual wrote an excellent OP-ED today citing several reasons why this movie had to be shown in Egypt. Among his reasons was the fact that the movie reflected the opinion of its maker and we shouldnâ€™t forbid art. Another reason was that Zionists tried to stop the movie in the USA and we shouldnâ€™t be acting in the same way. Here in Egypt, anything that pisses the Jews becomes an instant hit.
Well, even if the Ministry of Culture was to ban the movie, thousands of Egyptians saw it on pirated CDs and DVDs. I personally saw it and it literally shook my bones.
35% against 65%
Yesterday I logged on Egyptâ€™s top web portal www.masrawy.com. They had an opinion poll asking web surfers whether they agree or disagree with the beheading of Nicholas Burg. 65% said yes they agree, 35% said no they donâ€™t. I was shocked and disgusted.
Well, when I entered the forum where people discuss the poll, I discovered that most of those who participated in the written forum were from the 35%. They kept saying how they were shocked at the 65% number and how those who voted â€œyesâ€? were so barbaric and inhumane. They said that Burg was there to help in the reconstruction of Iraq and he was not military personnel. I was relieved when I read their comments.
Saturday, May 15, 2004
Muqtada Al Sadr just got what he was waiting for. The holiest shrine in Shitte Islam was slightly damaged. That is what I have been fearing for so long. I wish like taking the person who is responsible for the military in Najaf, put him on a plane, and fly him out of Iraq as soon as possible. That was one of the most stupid mistakes done by the US forces. So stupid, I can’t find words to even describe the stupidity and lack of responsibility. It doesn’t matter who hit the shrine, where US forces were, how badly it was hit. The shrine was hit and “God’s enemies” did it, end of story. I have been saying it over and over and over: don’t attack Najaf, don’t attack Najaf, don’t enter Najaf. I am feeling so angry, so angry because I am also allergic to stupidity and not just Arab hypocrisy. Goodbye Najaf.
Friday, May 14, 2004
They Won Phase One
April 10, 2003, a day I will never forget. A day after the fall of Saddamâ€™s statue in Baghdad, I went to my work with a lot of eagerness to know the reaction of my colleagues. The reaction I was greeted with could be summarized in those 2 words: shame and unbelief. â€œI am ashamed to be an Arabâ€? one girl told me. My fellow colleagues didnâ€™t feel shame because Baghdad fell so quickly but because they saw Iraqis greeting US forces with a huge grin on their faces. They saw a young man carrying a Kalashnikov in front of a camera saying â€œno Saddam, no Saddam, Bush is goodâ€?. They watched as Iraqis cooperated with US forces in pulling the statue of Saddam down. â€œIraqis were always known to be traitorsâ€? one man told me. â€œMost of them are Shias and the Shias are known to be the worst Muslims on earthâ€? another added. Even my housekeeper commented to me how she felt so angry when she saw an old Iraqi woman gently tapping the chest of an American soldier.
The sudden love affair between a sizable majority of Iraqis and US forces annoyed my fellow colleagues; it also annoyed the Arab media, the Bathists, and the Islamists in Iraq. This poisonous group started to fight phase one in the war against the coalition which is to end the honeymoon between this sizable majority and the coalition forces. With the full backing of the Arab media, the Bathists and Islamists have done everything from bombing oil pipelines, the UN, the Red Cross, and police stations just to create chaos and insecurity in the country and create a rift between Iraqis and their liberators. From what Iâ€™m seeing so far, I believe the dividers have done an awesome job. They have won phase one in the war. With the recent Abu Ghreib pictures and the continuous fighting in Najaf and Karbala, I can comfortably say that the last nail in the â€œIraqi hearts and mindsâ€? coffin had just been hit.
Nevertheless, I do not blame just the dividers for ending the honeymoon but also the coalitionâ€™s fatal mistakes in Iraq, the Shia and Sunni religious authorities, uncontrollable circumstances, and the unmeet expectations of Iraqis. Today there is no doubt that the Kurds are Americanâ€™s only â€œheart to heart friendsâ€? in Iraq. I hope and pray that the USA will not squander these newly discovered lovers. I also hope and pray that the dividers wonâ€™t win phase two of the war either by convincing this sizable majority that killing coalition forces is the only way out. If the US did not do everything to end the fighting in Najaf and Karbala, if it insists that the new interim government should relinquish some sovereignty to the coalition, then we can all kiss winning phase two goodbye.
Watch out for future OP-ED on:
â€¢ Why are the Kurds different from the Shias and Sunnis in their reaction towards the USA?
â€¢ What are the coalitionâ€™s fatal mistakes?
â€¢ The difference between Iraqis and Iranians
â€¢ Why I am so skeptical regarding any goodwill between overall Islam and America in the coming years or even the coming 1 million years.
Another Stupid Decision
This has just been through. Paul Bremer refused the deal forged by a massive number of tribal and religious leaders to resolve the Sadr standoff, another stupid mistake from Bremer. He lost the hearts of Baghdad, now heâ€™s loosing Najaf and Karbala. Phase 2 is on its way unless he starts thinking before he speaks. No deal leads to fighting that leads to civilian deaths among shias in najaf and karbala that leads to loosing hearts and minds that leads to unarmed resentment that leads to phase two in the war. As simple as that.