The real heroes

The vote

This is a quick post to
salute the real heroes of Iraq;
the ones who dodged the bullets and bombs to cast their ballots. Hurray for
you! This is real patriotism: to be willing to die to make your country a
better place by participating in its first real elections!

Kudos to you for your courage!

Caption: [An Iraqi woman cries tears of joy after casting her vote outside a polling station in the holy city of Najaf, Jan. 30, 2005. (Faleh Kheiber/Reuters)]


  1. Luai January 30, 2005 at 9:40 am

    Congrats to those casting their votes both inside and outside Iraq. May this be the beginning of something great….you all deserve it and more.

  2. Roba January 30, 2005 at 11:30 am

    Yey, someone’s reading LOTR! Hope you’re enjoying it 🙂

  3. Ameen Malhas January 30, 2005 at 12:52 pm

    A truly happy day, I almost cried reading what’s happening there. Hopefully, this will fix Iraq, and quell the insurgency.
    And Natasha, maybe Abu Musab will be so marginalized that we will no longer hear ‘the Jordanian militant,’ did this or that.
    “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.”
    – Winston Churchill

  4. linda January 30, 2005 at 2:07 pm

    Though i had hoped they would wait on the elections until the violence came to an end, I have to say I am very happy for the Iraqi people who went out and voted with the threat of dealth looming over their minds. Wow, what courage. As you said Natasha, that is real patriotism. I wish we had Americans that were that dedicated to voting.
    But now, lets hope this election works out for the good and not for the bad. I hope its legit in every way. HEy, if tampering with votes can happen in the USA, it can happene anywhere, unfortunately.

  5. Amir January 30, 2005 at 3:17 pm

    It really is a great moment for them. I think the Churchill quote that is most apt is the one where he spoke about “their finest hour”. In order for nations to be built, they must have pride and sacrifice and the threat of violence turned what would have been an ordinary act, voting, into a courageous one, elevating the action from just a play for political voice to a statement about where they want their country to go.

  6. Wendy January 31, 2005 at 2:15 am

    I’m crying tears of joy!!! So were many Iraqi friends I talked to yesterday to congratulate them. And already making plans to go back! The future won’t be easy, but the the majority have made their voice clear.

  7. Arash January 31, 2005 at 2:42 am

    I’d wait for the results first.

  8. Natasha January 31, 2005 at 3:50 am

    Well Arash, that’s not the point. Regardless of the results, Iraqis sent a very powerful message yesterday, a message that was a blow to the insurgency that is shattering the daily lives of Iraqis. Yesterday, Iraqis unanimously said “no to terrorism”. This by itself is worth celebrating, don’t you think?

  9. Arash January 31, 2005 at 7:30 am

    This by itself is worth celebrating, don’t you think?

    Well to a degree. I’ve seen a few elections in my time, the substance is important not the thing itself. I’m yet to see the country participation break-down, but with Shi’a and Kurd areas in relative calm, I wouldn’t say the Iraqi people sent a message of any kind. Plus using the rations system to identify the voters make me uneasy, very much similar to Iran where many vote just to get the stamp in their ID (next to their would-be ration stamps). Incidentally, so far the reports out of Iraq have been very similar to the Iranian government propaganda after the last parliamentary elections (which was boycotted by many people). Exaggerations in the level of participation and pompous announcements about how ‘the people’ have ‘sent a very powerful message’ to the ‘enemies of Islam’.

  10. Hubby January 31, 2005 at 7:59 am

    I think the effort that was seen is clearly commendable and worth celebrating. Even the effort expended by expats (with some polling places able to clearly demonstrate turnouts over 70%) was really amazing. This fact is worth if not celebration perhpas a smile.
    How it turns out after? That’s another matter and I hope it turns out well. It was far from a perfect event (things don’t go so well in the land of freedom either) but it will remain a tremendous moment in Iraqi history. That it got here the way it did was disappointing and, in fact, that journey is the sour part of it.
    Will it create legitimacy? In those who want it of course. In others, I’m not so sure, but perhaps. Will it end the insurgency? Of course not. Power redistribution is not going to be pretty. We can only hope it doesn’t go the way of the Iranian polls, that Sistani and his ilk err on the side of secularism and inclusion, despite what is bound to be a low turnout on the Sunni side of the street.

  11. Arash January 31, 2005 at 9:37 am

    At the end we’re going to get a system similar to Lebanon. A Shi’a President, a Sunni Prime minister, and a Kurdish Parliament Leader. Then we’ll need the US to stay and keep these groups from tearing each other up. That’s the best you can hope for in these countries that shouldn’t have been created in the first place.

  12. metalordie January 31, 2005 at 1:52 pm

    To all those who think they have an inkling about Iraqi elections, check this out:
    Kurds polled on independence alongside Iraq election: campaign group
    ARBIL, Iraq, Jan 31 (AFP) – An informal referendum on independence for Iraqi Kurdistan was conducted in Kurdish areas alongside the weekend’s historic election, a campaign group said Monday.
    “A poll on independence was organised throughout Kurdistan,” Shamal Huaizi of the Referendum Movement for Iraqi Kurdistan told
    AFP promising to announce the results in a week.
    Huaizi said his association had printed two million forms which were distributed to voters outside polling stations asking: “Do you
    want an independent Kurdistan?”
    He argued that Iraqi Kurds had a legal basis to break away as Britain had forcibly incorporated the then-Kurdish majority Mosul region into Iraq following its capture from Turkey in World War I.
    “Kurdistan was forcefully annexed by Iraq in 1924 and, following the collapse of the Iraqi state, the Kurdish people have the right to be consulted about independence, as was the case following the
    fall of the Soviet Union,” he said.
    Iraq’s mainstream Kurdish parties have carefully avoided any talk of independence in the foreseeable future, knowing that it would be unacceptable to neighbouring Iran, Syria and Turkey, which all have large Kurdish minorities of their own.
    But even their calls for an expanded autonomous region, incorporating the northern oil centre of Kirkuk and parts of two other provinces as well as the existing three, have drawn strong
    opposition from Ankara.
    SO, all those Iraqi monkeys dancing and prancing in celebration of what the think is a democratic process, congratulations. You just voted away 1/3rd of your country. One-half of its oil wealth. And all of its mineral wealth.
    I wonder if any other nation of peoples would be so willing to hold such a vote where they see their country disintegrate.
    Talk is cheap. I want to see you all in a year when Iraq is fragmented. Let’s see how much you give a damn then.

  13. linda January 31, 2005 at 2:17 pm

    Wow! let the real debate begin. Metalordie, you always know how to start a party. but hey bucko, not all of us that posted wanted the election to take place and are skeptical of the process of the election. I mean everyone knows about the stories of dealing with the electronic voting machines with those of the paper ones during the presidential elections in the U.S. Then there was 2000. Dont even get me started. If stuff like that can happen in America, it can happen in Iraq. This election will be take advantage of for sure. But i dont think what you are talking about metalordie will happen. The powers that be wont allow it. We all know who that power belongs to.

  14. iyas January 31, 2005 at 3:10 pm

    “If stuff like that can happen in America, it can happen in Iraq”
    No comment…

  15. linda January 31, 2005 at 4:50 pm

    What do u mean no comment iyas? You quoted me and I would like to know why?

  16. Wendy February 1, 2005 at 1:25 am

    Metalordie, so what would you prefer happen to the Kurds? If you could create the future of Iraq, what would it look like? What would you do with the Kurds, prancing monkeys and lapdogs?

  17. natasha February 1, 2005 at 3:01 am

    I think you should swallow your pride, stop living in denial and admit that the elections were a success. NO matter how you try to spin the turn out, Iraqis INSIDE Iraq (not the ones observing and analyzing from their air-conditioned offices) proved you wrong. So what if the Sunnis turnout was low, big deal, they are a minority anyway, that were given power by Saddam and his cronies. If you think whoever voted was a collaborator, then over 60% of the Iraqi people are! Live with it!

  18. linda February 1, 2005 at 3:58 am

    Response metalordie? I’d like to see how this debate plays.

  19. Thomas February 1, 2005 at 4:32 am

    Something to ponder regarding post and pre-elections spin:

    Some European media are struggling today to reconcile this incredible display of courage and yearning for democracy by the Iraqi people with the distorted picture they have been painting of supposedly abject American failure in Iraq. The shock in some quarters is not unlike that which followed the re-election of President Bush. The inability to predict or even contemplate Mr. Bush’s victory stemmed from the same type of ideological bias that “informed” much of Europe’s Iraq coverage.
    Then as now some are still in denial. “Americans are stupid,” was Europe’s verdict as the results came in Nov. 2. Surely there must be an equally facile answer to why Iraqis risked their lives to vote. Given a little time, someone in Europe will come up with it.

    From the Wall Street Journal

  20. Arash February 1, 2005 at 4:52 am

    I don’t think anyone was under the illusion that a minority of 20 percent going to affect the quantitative side of the things. Democracy isn’t a magic wand, if in a multicultural country people vote according to ethnic and religious affiliations it just won’t work out. Belgium has problems, Lebanon has problems, and so will Iraq. People need education to be empowered, not a bloody ballot box.

  21. metalordie February 1, 2005 at 10:02 am

    Natasha, why don’t you swallow this:
    The Vietnam turnout was good as well
    No amount of spin can conceal Iraqis’ hostility to US occupation
    Sami Ramadani
    Tuesday February 1, 2005
    The Guardian
    On September 4 1967 the New York Times published an upbeat story on presidential elections held by the South Vietnamese puppet regime at the height of the Vietnam war. Under the heading “US encouraged by Vietnam vote: Officials cite 83% turnout despite Vietcong terror”, the paper reported that the Americans had been “surprised and heartened” by the size of the turnout “despite a Vietcong terrorist campaign to disrupt the voting”. A successful election, it went on, “has long been seen as the keystone in President Johnson’s policy of encouraging the growth of constitutional processes in South Vietnam”. The echoes of this weekend’s propaganda about Iraq’s elections are so close as to be uncanny.
    With the past few days’ avalanche of spin, you could be forgiven for thinking that on January 30 2005 the US-led occupation of Iraq ended and the people won their freedom and democratic rights.
    This has been a multi-layered campaign, reminiscent of the pre-war WMD frenzy and fantasies about the flowers Iraqis were collecting to throw at the invasion forces. How you could square the words democracy, free and fair with the brutal reality of occupation, martial law, a US-appointed election commission and secret candidates has rarely been allowed to get in the way of the hype.
    If truth is the first casualty of war, reliable numbers must be the first casualty of an occupation-controlled election. The second layer of spin has been designed to convince us that an overwhelming majority of Iraqis participated. The initial claim of 72% having voted was quickly downgraded to 57% of those registered to vote. So what percentage of the adult population is registered to vote? The Iraqi ambassador in London was unable to enlighten me. In fact, as UN sources confirm, there has been no registration or published list of electors – all we are told is that about 14 million people were entitled to vote.
    As for Iraqis abroad, the up to 4 million strong exiled community (with perhaps a little over 2 million entitled to vote) produced a 280,000 registration figure. Of those, 265,000 actually voted.
    The Iraqi south, more religious than Baghdad, responded positively to Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani’s position: to call the bluff of the US and vote for a list that was proclaimed to be hostile to the occupation. Sistani’s supporters declared that voting on Sunday was the first step to kicking out the occupiers. The months ahead will put these declarations to a severe test. Meanwhile Moqtada al-Sadr’s popular movement, which rejected the elections as a sham, is likely to make a comeback in its open resistance to the occupation.
    The big vote in Kurdistan primarily reflects the Kurdish people’s demand for national self-determination. The US administration has hitherto clamped down on these pressures. Henry Kissinger’s recent proposal to divide Iraq into three states reflects a major shift among influential figures in the US who, led by Kissinger as secretary of state, ditched the Kurds in the 70s and brokered a deal between Saddam and the Shah of Iran.
    George Bush and Tony Blair made heroic speeches on Sunday implying that Iraqis had voted to approve the occupation. Those who insist that the US is desperate for an exit strategy are misreading its intentions. The facts on the ground, including the construction of massive military bases in Iraq, indicate that the US is digging in to install and back a long-term puppet regime. For this reason, the US-led presence will continue, with all that entails in terms of bloodshed and destruction.
    In the run-up to the poll, much of the western media presented it as a high-noon shootout between the terrorist Zarqawi and the Iraqi people, with the occupation forces doing their best to enable the people to defeat the fiendish, one-legged Jordanian murderer. In reality, Zarqawi-style sectarian violence is not only condemned by Iraqis across the political spectrum, including supporters of the resistance, but is widely seen as having had a blind eye turned to it by the occupation authorities. Such attitudes are dismissed by outsiders, but the record of John Negroponte, the US ambassador in Baghdad, of backing terror gangs in central America in the 80s has fuelled these fears, as has Seymour Hirsh’s reports on the Pentagon’s assassination squads and enthusiasm for the “Salvador option”.
    An honest analysis of the social and political map of Iraq reveals that Iraqis are increasingly united in their determination to end the occupation. Whether they participated in or boycotted Sunday’s exercise, this political bond will soon reassert itself – just as it did in Vietnam – despite tactical differences, and despite the US-led occupation’s attempts to dominate Iraqis by inflaming sectarian and ethnic divisions.
    · Sami Ramadani was a political refugee from Saddam Hussein’s regime and is a senior lecturer at London Metropolitan University,2763,1403103,00.html
    Tell him to shove his pride, too.

  22. metalordie February 1, 2005 at 10:25 am

    Pursuant to Sami Ramadani’s piece above, I dug up the original New York Times article he referred to.
    Titled: U.S. Encouraged by Vietnam Vote – Officials Cite 83% Turnout Despite Vietcong Terror
    By Peter Grose,
    Special to The New York Times
    September 4, 1967. P2.
    I also chose a paragraph from Mr. Grose’s article:
    “The purpose of the voting was to give legitimacy to the Saigon Government, which has been founded only on coups and power plays since November, 1963, when President Ngo Dinh Deim was overthrown by a military junta”.
    Legitimacy to Allawi’s government, following the dismemberment of the IGC, is the historical equal here.
    I may be in an air-condition office, Natasha, as are you, but in the end this is my country, not yours, and its best interests are at heart. I have family in Iraq that will be directly impacted by this and may be on the frontlines of a vicious conflict.
    What’s your interest in Iraq? Will you even give it a mention when it is fragmented? Or will you gloat?

  23. Arash February 1, 2005 at 10:27 am

    Kissinger didn’t ditch the Kurds in 1975. Iran was supporting them to pressure Iraq into sharing the Shatt al-Arab. Once the Algiers accord was signed the shah no longer provided them with arms and refuge.

  24. Hubby February 1, 2005 at 10:35 am

    And then there’s this from the BBC regarding UK protests:

    The demonstrators were from Hizb-ut-Tahrir – an Islamic group which is against the elections in Iraq. David Kahrmann, from the Iraq Election Team, said the protesters “were not even Iraqis”.
    “The Iraqi community here were saying, ‘Why are these people who are not even from Iraq protesting against these elections?’,” he said.

    And there’s also this little blurb from AP:

    “A handicapped child was used to carry out a suicide attack on a polling site,” al-Naqib said. “This is an indication of what horrific actions they are carrying out.”He gave no other details about the attack, but police at the scene of one the Baghdad blasts said the bomber appeared to have Down’s Syndrome …
    Iraq’s prime minister, Ayad Allawi, said the seven men who carried out suicide attacks near polling stations Sunday were foreigners.

    It does give one pause, wondering who is this insurgency, what are their real aims and how much do they represent the majority of Iraqis? It’s not really clear either way. The vote tally will provide one measuring stick. But there will be others. I think speculation from afar is really near-worthless at this point; only for the purpose of spin. The final results will speak for themselves and the people living in Iraq will continue that debate, answering any questions those of us outside might have. Many Iraqis spoke on 30 January. Let’s see if we can’t let that develop of its own accord without speculation and spin.

  25. natasha February 1, 2005 at 10:45 am

    Iraqi hostility? Are you referring to the so-called resistance that is run by former baathists and Jihadis coming from Saudi and Yemen. Do you really think that they represent the Iraqi voice? Metalordie, the majority of Iraqis don’t support the resistance and it was proven on January 30. I don’t wanna keep repeating myself. Why can’t you see it!
    The whole point of my post was to give kudos to the brave people who risked their lives for their country. The fact that you are an Iraqi makes your approval of “resistance in Iraq” even more saddening to me. The majority of Iraqis that I know inside and outside want this madness — run by the thugs and so called resistance fighters — to end!
    They voted to make a difference, to improve their lives. Do your fellow countrymen a favour by understanding their needs. If you really care about your country, then you should be more flexible in your opinions and admit for once that this what your people really supported: a right to vote, a right to liberate themselves.

  26. metalordie February 1, 2005 at 11:17 am

    Why do you believe you speak for my “countrymen”? The people who voted were expected to vote in high numbers. Perhaps, I should refer you to an unpublished interview Chalabi gave Al-Arabiya two days before the elections.
    He said the south of Iraq must secede and become a bastion for the Shia.
    The Kurds during the elections, voted in an impromptu referendum on secession as well.
    Would you allow such a vote to happen in Jordan if it risked breaking the country apart? No, you wouldn’t. Would you allow a vote that was mandated by a Syrian urging all Jordanians to vote? No, you wouldn’t.
    Ask yourself why Al-Sistani did not vote. Because he is Iranian. And here he is urging all Shia to vote. Is that legitimate to you? Would an American stand it for even one iota of a second if a Canadian told him how to vote?
    No, Americans are particularly proud about their elections.
    So, why in Iraq is it permissible?
    Do you honestly think I want terror for my country? Are you so ignorant as to think that the Iraqi resistance is comprised of Jihadis?
    Where was your blog when the Iraqi resistance issued a press release saying they will not mount ANY attacks during the elections, nor target polling stations, nor harm innocent Iraqis? How come no one put that up? Could it be that they want to continue to portray the Iraqi resistance as a bunch of thugs, jihadis?
    You say Iraqis have a right to vote, to liberate themselves. Where is that liberty? Did you know that Iraqis will no longer have the right to vote for President, VP or any other official?
    The vote on Sunday ended all that. The so-called parliament they will vote into power will choose the President and so on. Much as in Egypt. A flawed system.
    That’s it for voting rights.
    I don’t want that for my country. The vote will be seen in less than a year than the single worst debacle the Iraqis have brought upon themselves.
    Once again, quit preaching to me what YOU think the Iraqis want. You never spent a day in Iraq and you wouldn’t shed a tear if it was blown to smithereens.
    As for the hostility, you reap what you sow. Live with it.

  27. metalordie February 1, 2005 at 11:28 am

    Oh and Natasha, I would kindly ask you to refrain from racism – Iraqi hostility. You don’t want to go down that path and it besmirches this blog, which claims to be otherwise.
    Tsk, tsk, push a few buttons, scratch the surface, and see what you get…

  28. linda February 1, 2005 at 12:33 pm

    Okay, let’s not all get carried away here. There is a way to properly discuss and debate this issue without getting personal.
    I think it is fair to say that those who support the election and are happy about it are looking at the event in itself, and those who do not support it are looking at the event in an entire picture surrounded by consequences. I think everyone here practically did not support the invasion and occupation of Iraq. If this is wrong, please let your statement on that be heard.
    As for those who did not support the invasion and occupation of Iraq, I am one of those, and I will be proud to stand on top of my roof in L.A and condem my government for doing it. Millions and millions of people in America were against this war for many reasons. One of them is this so called “liberation” of Iraq, a great public relations campaign (that’s all it is, its not true liberation) to cover up the real reasons my government is in that country: oil. This is the fact. It surprises me that so much of the infrastructure in Iraq is still not working or destroyed in this oil rich country. Why isn’t the oil being used to support rebuilding Iraq? It’s a rhetorical question because we all know how Bush’s cronies get around oil. By the way, the word cronies can only be used to identify Bush and his pals. I digress.
    Anyway, the United States has a plan for Iraq and any vote that any Iraqi has made, really does not count because no matter what, the U.S. is in charge. It is as simple as that. The outcome of Iraq after some time? It will be whatever the U.S. will make it, as long as the U.S. government can exploit its rich resources, its people and its pride for the next fours years. As long as the U.S. is occupying Iraq, and Bush and his cronies (see Natasha, that is how you use the word) do not set a timeline for leaving the country, Iraq will always be in chaos. It surprises me that no one really mentioned the fact the WMD search is over in Iraq. No one made a big deal of this, especially our mainstream news media. It sickens me that people are willing to support this war and everything else that goes along with it when it was based on a lie. Democracy is not formed on lies.
    I pray for the people in Iraq.
    P.S. If anyone invaded my country, I would not sit there and take it. I would fight and continue to fight until the invaders left.

  29. metalordie February 1, 2005 at 12:41 pm

    = )

  30. natasha February 1, 2005 at 4:41 pm

    What racism? You are the one who mentioned “Iraqi hostility” in your comment! You said:

    “No amount of spin can conceal Iraqis’ hostility to US occupation”

    Anyway, it saddens me that you can’t indulge in a healthy discussion without getting personal and worse: Acting immature by trying to spam this blog with phony messages [now deleted] under the name “Dina”.
    We can argue forever about this topic and no one will gain anything if the discussion continues on this path. Having different points of view is what makes a discussion healthy, interesting and educational. Unfortunately, that is not what’s happening here.
    You have your point of view and I have mine. We have both conveyed our views but appears that we are at polar opposites without a bridge. Anyway, I do not want to continue this discussion, as it is moving towards an ugly path that I don’t want on my blog. I hope any future discussions can be more peaceable and intelligent and far less personal and threatening.

  31. metalordie February 1, 2005 at 5:25 pm

    First off Natasha, reading comprehenshion lessons are in order. The Iraqi hostility line was NOT MINE, but what I pasted of the article in the Guardian. You would have done well to mention that above.
    Secondly, the way you led a previous blog with Iraqi hostility, was vague and open to interprations. Blame yourself for that one.
    As for acting immature, the Dina thing was to try and enter some humour here, which is sorely lacking.
    You are wheezing over the Syrian affair yet feel perfectly comfortable to delve into issues you have no inkling about.
    Fine. Its your blog. Run it the way you like. But don’t for a second, a single second, hide your notions behind the veil of healthy discussion. If that were true, you wouldn’t have started off talking about pride and on and on and on.
    It’s easy to throw rocks at other people, but introspection is a tough cookie.
    The bottom line, once again, is you are entirely ignorant of the realities on the ground in Iraq. You are not in touch with people there. You can quote the BBC until you are dry in the mouth. That does not impress me.
    You ask me to live with it. I do. Iraq is my nightmare. What has transpired is a nightmare that neither you nor hubby can possibly understand.
    The painful thing is none of you stop to even consider the consequence if this happened in your countries.
    I stand by everything I said. If you don’t like it, tough. I will not compromise what I believe in.
    I am Iraqi, you are not. This is something you refuse to address and continue to talk about healthy debate. You wouldn’t know healthy debate if it crawled up and bit you.
    As for spamming your blog, please. Don’t flatter yourself. As I explained, I was trying to add humour here and the jokes I posted were of the type I usually email you.
    You want to find fault, look inward.
    You don’t want to have ugly paths on your blog. Don’t act self-righteous and smug. Try it. Does a mind good.

  32. metalordie February 1, 2005 at 5:31 pm

    Threatening, Natasha? My, my. How childish you are. Where have I ever threatened you? Or anyone?
    Are you sure you are competent when you type?
    If you are going to make accusations against people, I suggest you back them up.
    Where have I threatened you or anyone else?
    You owe me an apology for this outrageous accusation. How dare you!
    Debate, sure. But leave your little mushroom fantasies out of this. When you accuse someone of being threatening then please back it up, or shut up.
    Some people should show a little more responsibility when setting up their blogs.
    Infantile and derelict.

  33. Thomas February 1, 2005 at 5:49 pm

    Mr. Metalordie, I can’t speak for anyone else here but when I read: “Tsk, tsk, push a few buttons, scratch the surface, and see what you get…” I would have regarded that as threatening. There seems to be a great degree of vitriol in this discussion. I do think that a Jordanian has some interest in the situation in Iraq. Those two nations have had their fates intertwined for some time. It’s not the same as for those that live there but I’m sure it is enough to care and to want to see peace. That’s what I think she was saying she wanted to start this discussion (Correct me if I’m wrong madam).
    I’m not sure what it is you want but it’s clear you are upset. You say you are Iraqi? Are you in Iraq now with your family or do you have immediate family there that are giving you information from the street? I for one would like an opportunity to hear that. You’ve quoted a number of articles from people that just might be in an air-conditioned office. It’d be nice to hear something “real” on this issue. If there is any self-righteousness here I think it smacks both ways my dear boy (I’m just assuming–sorry if you are female). I do think any anger would be better put into things to better Iraq rather than rants in some cyber forum. One thing is for certain in my eyes the vitriol in your earlier posts sank this discussion. I wish it had gone another way because I was interested in seeing something different than every other blog I read.

  34. metalordie February 1, 2005 at 6:57 pm

    Gee, I never knew push a few buttons – which means to raise the temp a bit – or scratch the surface were considered threats. Maybe my proficiency in the English language is lacking.
    Sorry, Thomas. They aren’t.
    Push a few buttons refers to raising someone’s ire. It is not a threat by any stretch of the imagination. But hey, don’t take my word for it:
    3 entries found for push buttons.
    Main Entry: agitate
    Part of Speech: verb
    Definition: disturb
    Synonyms: alarm, argue, arouse, bug, bug up, burn up, confuse, craze, debate, discompose, disconcert, discuss, dispute, disquiet, distract, disturb, egg on, examine, excite, ferment, flurry, fluster, get to, incite, inflame, make flip, move, perturb, push buttons, rouse, ruffle, spook, stimulate, stir, trouble, turn on, unhinge, upset, ventilate, work up, worry
    Antonyms: becalm, calm, not bother, pacify, placate, quiet, soothe
    Source: Roget’s New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)
    Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.
    Main Entry: control
    Part of Speech: verb
    Definition: reign
    Synonyms: administer, administrate, advise, boss, bully, call, command, conduct, deal with, direct, discipline, dominate, domineer, govern, guide, handle, head, head up, instruct, lead, manage, manipulate, mastermind, overlook, oversee, pilot, predominate, push buttons, quarterback, regiment, regulate, rule, run, steer, subject, subjugate, superintend, supervise
    Antonyms: abandon, forsake, give up, let go, relinquish, resign
    Source: Roget’s New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)
    Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.
    Main Entry: distress
    Part of Speech: verb
    Definition: upset
    Synonyms: afflict, aggrieve, agonize, ail, bother, break, bug, burn up, depress, desolate, discombobulate, disquiet, disturb, dog, eat, get, get to, grieve, harass, harry, hound, hurt, injure, irk, irritate, miff, nag, needle, nitpick, oppress, pain, peeve, perplex, pester, pick on, plague, push, push buttons, rack, sadden, strain, strap, stress, tick off, torment, torture, trouble, try, vex, weigh, worry, wound
    Antonyms: aid, calm, comfort, console, help, relieve, soothe
    Source: Roget’s New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)
    Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved
    and as for scratch the surface –
    scratch the surface
    To investigate or treat something superficially.
    Let’s open this up now. Anyone else care to wager how I was being threatening? Thomas had a go and fell in a blaze of glory…Ooops, did I just threaten you Thomas?

  35. metalordie February 1, 2005 at 7:43 pm

    What reality would you like to hear, Thomas?
    You say better Iraq. Fine. A good point. Do you know how many thousands of Iraqi intellectuals were turned away in any Iraqi reconstruction effort since March 2003? I can put you in touch with an Iraqi consortium of investors, architects, engineers, scientists and teachers who repeatedly contact US firms, the CPA and the US state department to become part of the reconstruction effort.
    They have been turned away numerous times. Why? They did not have contacts or were approved by Allawi and Chalabi’s interest groups.
    It is a close-knit affair, this reconstruction effort.
    I would ask you to google Order 39. Or Bremer Order 39. It is an irrevocable order issued by Bremer. It gives Iraqis no say in foreign reconstruction efforts or profits made.
    Who would not want to repair their country? Look at this Blog which is very pro-Jordan, it is always looking for the betterment of Jordan and its people. Why should anyone think the Iraqis would have any less initiative?
    You asked about my family. Fine. My entire paternal side of the family is in Iraq – my mom is non-Iraqi.
    I speak with them nearly every day and it breaks my heart every day. Entire families have moved out of Iraq. The intellectuals are on the run.
    I have three relatives who are teachers, two who are car mechanics, one who is a former Baathist, one who was an anti-Baathist. I also have two relatives who work in local television stations. They are not pro-Resistance or pro-anything. They simply want order in their country.
    My extended family includes Shia, Sunni and Chaldean Christians.
    I would think I have a pretty broad spectrum of Iraqi opinion.
    The Sunnis were dying to vote. They really wanted to. But they claimed this vote was rigged from the start.
    Iraqis in the north of the country are particularly scared. They blame Iranian, Turkish, and Syrian intelligence services of doing everything in their power to maintain a status quo. It is in no one’s interest that Iraq emerge as a viable nation with a strong military again.
    No one thinks of democracy. They say they want order first and they don’t care if it is brought by way of Saddam-lite, which is what Allawi is.
    If Allawi can bring security without the rhetoric, his popularity will soar.
    Young Iraqis are flocking by the thousands to internet cafes. It is their momentary escape and window to a world full of opportunity. Opportunity they do not think they have.
    One relative, in his 40s, in Mosul told me he has never seen Iraq so chaotic. He served in the military during the Iran war. He is apolitical. He deserted from Saddam’s army many times and was beaten and had his head shaved – a sign of desertion in the late 80s. Another relative was forced to stand on his head for an hour as punishment.
    A distant relative of mine who is – surprise, surprise – A KURD, was hung from the ceiling and whipped with salted water as it turned.
    The last time I saw him was in 1994 when he met in Jordan. He smiles and laughs. As do all Iraqis, but below the surface (ooops, there’s that word again) there is despair.
    Iraqis have been raised on bullets and murder and death and war. They laugh to hide a tendency to scream.
    My family in Iraq don’t see eye to eye on all issues as they are multi-ethinic themselves. Sometimes, I am in stark opposition to things they believe in and vice versa. But ideas have been changing and under the despair there is some hope.
    For example, when Mosul plunged into darkness a few months ago, it wasn’t the Iraqi National Guard that restored order. Nor was it the US army – hahaha, that’s a laugh. No, it was the Kurdish peshmerga.
    They dispersed throughout Mosul and Arab families – who traditionally distrust the peshmerga – welcomed them with flowers and candy. Yes, this went unreported because western media are afraid to venture outside the green zone.
    All of a sudden, the Arabs and Kurds seemed to be getting on and Arabs were beginning to wonder whether it wasn’t such a bad idea being part of a Kurdish-run local government. Who would have thought?
    Most families in Iraq have written out or called in their wills lest they die suddenly. A sad note.
    How is that for reality? What else would you like to hear?
    Iraqis now generally are happy that Saddam is gone. But they miss the order he maintained.
    As for the Shia in Iraq, this is their dawn. They have been persecuted in Iraq not only by Saddam and his cronies, but since the wars of Kufa and Karbala and the betrayal of the Ummayads. Under Haroun al-Rashid, they were promised autonomy and political representation in his Abassid courts. But he ended up betraying them and gave Kurds, Persians and Turcomen more power. Persians at the time were all Sunni and the heart of Shiadom was Egypt. It all switched after that.
    The Shia had been waiting for this moment for near 1400 years. And they hate the foreigner more than you can imagine. A lot of analysts will tell you that they hate the US for being left alone against Saddam in 1991. But it goes back further than that. They were betrayed by the British in 1920 and 1921. But the British actually gas-bombed Shia villages when a Sunni Hashemite was injected on a throne in Iraq.
    The Shia deserve their moment. Wendy asked me what I would like to see happen to the Kurds. I believe they should be able to maintain the autonomy they had for the past 10 years, their own currency and to keep speaking Kurdish as they have since 1974. The only country to give Kurds the right to speak Kurdish or say they are Kurd is Iraq. Turkey does not even allow a Kurd to say he is a Kurd.
    But no secession can be tolerated.
    I believe a national reconciliation conference is needed in Iraq. All grievances against and from all must be aired and done away with. The US refuses to allow this to happen.
    Iraq will not survive under sectarianism. There must be national unity. And this does not exist in Iraq.
    Pluralism is the way to go but from the outset, from the creation of the IGC, it was heavy emphasis on sectarianism. Posts were given out by Bremer according to sects.
    These elections are divided along sectarian lines. That is why they are so opposed. They will ultimately move Iraq further from the pluralistic future it so craves.
    Two years ago, I bitterly opposed the Hashemite relative who was a prominent member of the opposition and called for removing Saddam.
    Al-Sharif Ali bin Hussein was very vocal and on all the networks before the invasion. After the invasion, he gave a few press conferences, berated early decisions made by the CPA and then disappeared from public view.
    In hindsight, I admit I was wrong. A constitutional monarchy would have been an excellent option for Iraq and maintained Iraqi loyalty and nationalism.
    Where has Sharif Ali gone?

  36. linda February 1, 2005 at 7:46 pm

    Okay Natasha and Metalordie, I think i need to but in. Somethings were said to each other that maybe you guys regret. I dont know. But anyway, I think too many of us are picking on metalordie because he added a reality check to much of the celebration that was going on with the elections.
    All he did, the first time he posted something was posted an article on Jan. 31 and then asked us if we would care about Iraq in a year when it got fragmented. Thats all he did. I think it would be fair if we stopped getting personal and went on with the discussion. Many of us dont support this election, and many of us do. Lets talk about that and not each other, Pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

  37. Arash February 2, 2005 at 1:07 am

    The only country to give Kurds the right to speak Kurdish or say they are Kurd is Iraq.

    Not really. Iran has a “Kurdistan” province and Kurds publish a number of periodicals and a daily. They make movies with Kurdish as the spoken language, the latest “Turtles Can Fly” won the Best Picture at Spain’s San Sebastian Film Festival. They celebrate the Norouz like the rest of the country. Kurds are, afterall, an Iranian people.

  38. Thomas February 2, 2005 at 4:19 am

    Actually Turkey has done so as well, I believe as part of an EU acceptance concession. Kurdish is allowed. More to the point, the part of your message that was threatening in my eyes was the “see what you get…” portion, not the other you so diligently examined. It follows in the “you do X, Y and Z” and you’ll get what you deserve vein.
    But I digress. What you then proceeded to describe and analyze was truly interesting and engaging Metalordie. I hope that the passion you have for all this can continue along this path and I hope others will continue to engage you in a healthy debate. I’m no referee here, just an interested reader that really wants to see and perhaps participate in a real discussion about the situation in Iraq and the debacle that is US policy there. So how about prince Hassan as your constitutional monarch?

  39. Wendy February 2, 2005 at 6:30 am

    Metalordie, it is good to see your last post, to understand more of who you are and where you come from. Perhaps you have had some of the same arguments here with members of your own family. That kind of writing is SO much more instructive than your previous posts. Thanks for revealing yourself.
    I hope that you will see also that there are many non-Iraqis who have suffered in a very small way with you, of course never to the degree that you and your family have. I could go back to the US and shop at Wal*Mart (sorry, Linda!!:)) but I know that my life energy is best spent with Iraqis in Jordan, even if what you are predicting comes true. My family has been fasting and praying for weeks about the election and it’s ramifications. When I was hospitalized last week, all I could do from that room was pray for Iraq – and every time I did, your name came to mind as well.
    You come from a great nation that could lead the Middle East into a new age. Your passion is needed, as Thomas mentioned above. All the best…

  40. linda February 2, 2005 at 6:32 am

    Arash and Thomas, that post was so filled with important information, and you guys focus on that sentence? Correct it and move on.
    I can see where metalordie is coming from. Almost everybody around the world people are talking about the situations in Iraq. Its always on the news, its even in entertainemnt. Its always the political discussion during dinner, or coffee, or at the office around the water cooler. and its great that so many people are talking about it. but at the end of the day, we can sleep peacefully, because it is not our home going through this torment and chaos. Please dont misunderstand what im saying you guys, feel free to talk about it. But sometimes, for an iraqi, there will always be that feeling of homeland and pride because they are physicaly and emotionally connected to it. We can learn a great deal from people like metalordie.
    I have heard many relatives of mine here, who are are so patriotic for the USA say, “If jordan was ever attacked for whatever reason, I would go down there and fight for it,” because they are Jordanian. And like I said, If anyone invaded the USA for whatever reason, I would not sit back on my butt and do nothing. I would get up and fight and protect the motherland, because i was born here, its my nationality.

  41. metalordie February 2, 2005 at 6:42 am

    Gosh, a foreign monarch? Hmmm…they tried that once before and it didn’t hold leading to the purge of ’58.
    I doubt with all the inflammation in Iraq now it would work.
    As for Turkey giving Kurds the right to speak Kurdish, thats a recent thing brought upon by EU pressure as you rightly pointed out.
    And Arash does touch on an important issue…the Kurds of Iran always felt more Iranian than the Kurds of Iraq felt Iraqi.
    And Arash, Norouz is celebrated by Arabs where I come from…

  42. metalordie February 2, 2005 at 7:13 am

    I think the healthy debate Natasha dreamed of has finally come.
    I am adding an article I came across below. It is a little high on the rhetoric but an interesting read nonetheless.
    The Iraqi Ballot, Translated
    by Hawra Karama
    I had the opportunity to participate in the long-awaited Iraqi elections this weekend. Contrary to popular belief, this was not the first time my opinion has mattered to the Iraqi state. It was actually the third. Saddam Hussein had asked us Iraqis in both 1995 and 2002 if we wanted him to be our leader.
    The question sounded rather silly, considering the amount of Iraqi, Iranian, and Kuwaiti blood on his hands. Nevertheless, in both referenda, Saddam’s approval ratings exceeded 99 percent. That statistic could not have been accurate, could it? Did the Iraqis really want even more years of crushing tyranny, war with neighbors, and ethnic cleansing?
    In retrospect, I could come up with dozens of theories on the shocking outcome of the two referenda. Maybe only Ba’athists participated in the polls. Maybe people were too afraid to say they didn’t want Saddam. Maybe the chads of those who did cast a “no” vote were hanging. In any case, I shouldn’t waste so much time analyzing the past. The bottom line is that there is no such thing as democracy under dictatorship. My time today is better spent taking advantage of democracy under foreign occupation.
    I hesitated before voting for reasons familiar to anyone who follows the news. But then I thought of the disappointment on the faces of my American guests if I did not accept the democracy they brought me. I didn’t want their feelings to be hurt. I didn’t want them to think that the residents of the Cradle of Civilization are not civilized. So I mustered the courage to go to the voting site nearest my house in Baghdad.
    Initially, I thought I was at the American embassy because there were so many American soldiers standing outside. I checked my registration slip. I did in fact have the correct address. So I took a deep breath and walked in. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Iraqi authorities had requested American troops’ presence because they needed help making Iraqi tea for the voters. Their desire was to make the democratic process feel as close to home as possible.
    A young soldier from Texas served me a cup of Iraqi hospitality. Then I nervously proceeded toward the voting booth. My heart was racing, and tears flooded my eyes as I thought of the price that was paid to make this moment happen. On a personal level, my niece had suffered severe burns on her arms and legs when bombs shook Baghdad in March 2003. My backyard was converted into a parking spot for an American tank. More broadly, over a hundred thousand of my countrymen had to be killed, and many more had to be wounded and disabled. Many American families had to mourn the loss of their loved ones in the military. The environment was sentenced to suffer for the next several centuries. Politicians in the White House and Parliament had gone out of their way just to ensure that my cup of tea had the right amount of sugar while I expressed whom I thought should hold the magic wand to make all my agony go away.
    I wiped my tears, pulled myself together, sipped the last drops in my cup, and went into the voting booth. By taking one quick glance at the ballot placed in front of me, I could immediately tell that this experience was going to be differentfrom its 1995 and 2002 predecessors. On those two occasions, I was asked only one question about one tyrant. “Do you want Saddam Hussein to be your president? A) Yes. B) No.”
    This election, on the other hand, gave me a variety of choices on numerous issues. Behold the multitude of questions I was asked:
    1. Do you prefer to be tortured by A) American soldiers or B) British soldiers?
    2. When occupying soldiers stop you in the street, would you rather be strip-searched A) with blindfold or B) without blindfold?
    3. When foreign soldiers enter your house in the middle of the night to arrest your husband and terrorize your kids, would you prefer that they A) knock or B) ring the doorbell? [This question seemed odd because I thought they knew we don’t have electricity and therefore the doorbells don’t work.]
    4. Which of the following CIA-paid Iraqis should represent you? [The list is too long to reprint here.]
    5. Do you want the foreign forces occupying your country to leave? A) No. [I imagine they had accidentally forgotten to print “Yes.”]
    To make sure our voices were being fully heard, some of the questions were open ended. Voters were actually allowed to write in their opinions on a number of issues. Observe:
    6. Which media outlet should hold the copyright to the pictures of your torture?
    7. The occupation has violated the sanctity of the holy sites in Najaf and Karbala and bombed many mosques in Baghdad and Falluja. Are there any other holy sites you believe the occupation has missed?
    8. Which American company do you believe should be awarded a monopoly on Iraq’s oil?
    After reading all the questions, I did the same thing I’d done in 1995 and 2002. I left the ballot blank and walked out.
    On my way out of the voting site, an American soldier handed me a sticker with the words “I voted” printed on it. He looked perplexed as I stuck it on his rifle and left.
    Born in Baghdad, Hawra Karama is an Iraqi-American antiwar, anti-racist activist.

  43. metalordie February 2, 2005 at 8:13 am

    One wonders if being here so much allows me any normal life at all.
    WENDY. Thank you for your last message. God Bless.

  44. metalordie February 2, 2005 at 8:24 am

    Islamic theocracy in the making?
    Another danger of the elections…not very democratic this, now is it? Can anyone say Algeria?
    Top Shiites push for an Islamic constitution
    Large vote turnout boosts aspirations of religious coalition
    Thanassis Cambanis, Boston Globe
    Wednesday, February 2, 2005
    Najaf, Iraq — Some of Iraq’s top Shiite clerics, emboldened by a huge Shiite turnout for their coalition of religious parties in Iraq’s elections, have begun advocating an Islamic constitution.
    The turnout for the top-finishing electoral list, a coalition of Islamist parties supported by the Shiite clerical establishment, has convinced leading clerics in Najaf that religious parties will have a majority in the National Assembly that will write Iraq’s next constitution, several of them said.
    The clerics of Najaf who orchestrated the Shiite coalition say they expect a constitutional debate between hard-line Islamists, who want Quranic law to be the constitution’s primary source, and moderate Muslims who want a milder form of religious law. This debate, they say, will dwarf any challenge from secular parties.
    Some members of the United Iraqi Alliance, the slate that includes Shiite political parties as well as independent Shiite figures, said they were not in favor of an all-clerical government. The list was put together at the behest of the senior Shiite cleric in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose tacit endorsement was crucial in rallying voters.
    Shiites, a majority in Iraq, were kept out of power by the Sunni- dominated government of Saddam Hussein. The power of the Shiite clergy and the political maneuvering room for Sunnis are among the unsettled issues as Iraqis await a final determination of the new national legislature, which will draw up a permanent constitution.
    An official of the United Iraqi Alliance said the list would capture more than 120 seats, or 44 percent of the 275-seat National Assembly.
    The first official returns from the voting, including an announcement of the turnout and some initial vote breakdowns, are likely to be released today, according to officials of the Iraqi election commission. Complete results are expected to take as long as another week, but preliminary skirmishing has already begun in the contest for prominent positions in the next transitional government.
    In addition to the political jockeying over seats in the new legislature and positions in the government, Iraqi leaders are also beginning to debate when to ask U.S. troops to leave.
    At a news conference Tuesday, interim President Ghazi Mashal Ajil al- Yawer said it would be “complete nonsense to ask the troops to leave in this chaos and this vacuum of power,” a position similar to that taken last week by interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.
    The commander of the new Iraqi army, Gen. Babakir Zebari, also weighed in, saying some withdrawals could begin within a year. “In six months, or maybe at the end of the year, the construction of the Iraqi army will be finished, and our forces will be capable of guaranteeing security,” he said.
    The leadership of the new elected government remains up in the air, but U. S. officials are counting on Islamists who oppose a direct role for clerics in government to prevail. The officials say Iraq’s Shiite clergy has supported democratic principles, including elections, and shown political restraint since the fall of Hussein’s regime.
    As the vote counting continues, minority Sunnis from regions across the country say they were shut out from casting votes Sunday — in some cases because of threats by insurgents, but in other places because of bureaucratic snafus and closed polling places in their neighborhoods.
    “Tens of thousands were unable to cast their votes because of the lack of ballots in Basra, Baghdad and Najaf,” al-Yawer, himself a Sunni Arab, said. Najaf is a mostly Shiite city, but Basra and Baghdad have substantial Sunni populations.
    In Baghdad, Maisem Khalil Yacoub and her husband Sabah al-Tayee said they walked fruitlessly from one closed election center to another for three hours in their Adhamiya neighborhood, at one point coming within 100 yards of gunfire, before they went home without having voted.
    “There has been injustice,” said al-Tayee, a 35-year-old Sunni Arab and a supporter of the Constitutional Monarchy Party. “This is a very obvious and unacceptable marginalization of the Sunnis’ role in the new government.”
    In the Kurdish north, an official said 64,000 people voted in the city of Hawija — but that 80,000 people wanted to. “Arabs have been pushed away from the elections,” said Ahmad Hamid al Obeydi, a member of the Iraqi Tribes Party. “We are targets, we are marginalized.”
    Borzou Daragahi and Delphine Minoui of the Chronicle Foreign Service and Chronicle news services contributed to this report.

  45. metalordie February 2, 2005 at 6:40 pm

    Why I opposed the elections:
    Read the article reported by Reuters and on Aljazeera’s website. One thing to keep in mind is that BEFORE the elections Barazani and Talabani carefully avoided any mention of Secession and independence.
    Now, the cat is out of the bag. COngratulations Iraq. To all the heroes who voted – here is your democratic reward.
    Would American voters have been so ready to vote in November if they knew that California would become an independent country?
    This is part of the conspiracy against Iraq launched in 1972.
    From the book The Future of Iraq: Dictatorship, Democracy or Division?
    By Liam Anderson and Gareth Stansfield
    Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
    ISBN: 1403963541
    Pages: 272

    “In a Washington Post interview in the summer of 1973, Barzani had deliberately dangled a tempting carrot in front of the United States… ‘If America will protect us from the wolves we would control the Kirkuk [oil] field and give it to an American company to operate.’” This of course angered the Baghdad government. The deal with the Kurds was broken and “full-scale hostilities looked inevitable and duly erupted in March 1974.” Hoping to weaken the central Baghdad government and punish it for the 1972 nationalization of oil, US and British intelligence units influenced Iran to deploy two full regiments in the north of Iraq.
    Kurdish party says self-rule inevitable
    Wednesday 02 February 2005 7:29 PM GMT
    Kurdish self-rule is inevitable if not imminent, according to Kurdistan Democratic Party chief Masud Barzani.
    Commenting on an almost unanimous vote for independence in an unofficial referendum held on 30 January, Masud Barzani said on Wednesday that “when the right time comes it will become a reality”.
    “Self-determination is the natural right of our people, and they have the right to express their desires,” he added.
    Barzani heads one of the two main Kurdish groups which control Iraq’s northern Kurdish zone.
    The KDP leader was speaking three days after more than 1.9 million Iraqi Kurds – some 95% of those asked – voted for independence in an informal survey conducted by volunteers.
    Iraqi Kurds have long pushed for independence, but Turkey, Iran and Syria – all with substantial Kurdish minorities – oppose the establishment of Kurdish state on their borders.
    The referendum was held on the day of Iraq’s historic elections on Sunday. Its organisers surveyed Kurds as they emerged from polling stations across northern Iraq.
    The volunteers handed out postcard-sized cards with two boxes printed on them next to two flags – one Kurdish and one Iraqi. The question ‘What do you want?’ was written at the top of the card and those polled were asked to tick one box.
    By Wednesday, more than 2.1 million Kurdish votes had been counted, according to organisers who are still awaiting results from the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk.
    Witnesses said some children filled them in and there was often no restriction on people taking more than one form.
    Although the survey was unofficial and not monitored by any independent body, many Kurds said its results were proof of a groundswell of support for the eventual creation of an independent Kurdish state.
    “We want to make sure that the Kurdish people do not suffer any more, and to show that Kurdish people have the will and ability to live in freedom,” said Shamal Hawizy, a senior member of the Kurdistan Referendum Movement.
    The movement, founded in October 2003, is funded through donations and assisted by Kurdish authorities, who paid for the referendum’s cost of around $150,000.
    Last year, the movement collected 1.7 million signatures calling for a petition demanding a similar referendum.
    Paul Bremer, who was in charge of Iraq’s provisional authority at the time, declined to meet Kurdish leaders to accept their petition and the referendum never took place.
    Kurds make up around 15% of Iraq’s population of 27 million. They are expected to emerge as a leading force when results are announced from Sunday’s national vote.
    Most Iraqis oppose Kurdish secession. The international community says it is committed to establishing a unified but federal Iraq in which Kurds have a degree of autonomy.
    “If you asked me whether in 10 years there will be an independent Kurdistan, I’d say yes”
    “The referendum is just a statement that a very large proportion of the Kurdish population up there wants independence,” one western diplomat in Baghdad said.
    “That feeling exists, and it would be silly to deny it, but Kurdish national leaders and Kurdish regional leaders understand that an independent Kurdish state now is not possible.”
    Others said the creation of such a state was only a matter of time.
    “When you have a democracy it’s almost impossible to hold people in a country that they hate,” said Peter Galbraith, a visiting former US diplomat familiar with the region.
    “If you asked me whether in 10 years there will be an independent Kurdistan, I’d say yes.”
    You can find this article at:

  46. Arash February 2, 2005 at 7:46 pm

    Oh well, let them have it! The central government in Baghdad only had a grip on the Kurdish region for less than 60 years. How can you develop a nostalgia for something that was hardly ever there? Nothing ever good comes of a coerced coexistence.

  47. jareer February 2, 2005 at 8:42 pm

    Excuse my ignorance?
    Is this election about choosing a president? or something else?

  48. Thomas February 3, 2005 at 3:01 am

    In the spirit of article exchange I proffer the follwing:

    Beating a Dead Parrot
    Why Iraq and Vietnam have nothing whatsoever in common

    By Christopher Hitchens

    There it was again, across half a page of the New York Times last Saturday, just as Iraqis and Kurds were nerving themselves to vote. “Flashback to the 60’s: A Sinking Sensation of Parallels Between Iraq and Vietnam.” The basis for the story, which featured a number of experts as lugubrious as they were imprecise, was the suggestion that South Vietnam had held an election in September 1967, and that this propaganda event had not staved off ultimate disaster.
    I can’t quite tell why this article was not printed on the day before the Afghan or Palestinian elections, or at any of the times when Iranian voters overwhelmingly chose reform candidates but were thwarted by the entrenched reserve strength of the theocracy. But perhaps now is the moment to state the critical reasons why there is no reasonable parallel of any sort between Iraq and Vietnam.
    To begin with, Vietnam had been undergoing a protracted struggle for independence since before World War II and had sustained this struggle militarily and politically against the French empire, the Japanese empire, and then after 1945 the French empire again. By 1954, at the epic battle of Dien Bien Phu, the forces of Ho Chi Minh and Gen. Giap had effectively decided matters on the battlefield, and President Eisenhower himself had conceded that Ho would have won any possible all-Vietnamese election. The distortions of the Cold War led the United States to take over where French colonialism had left off, to assist in partitioning the country, and to undertake a war that had already been lost.
    Whatever the monstrosities of Asian communism may have been, Ho Chi Minh based his declaration of Vietnamese independence on a direct emulation of the words of Thomas Jefferson and was able to attract many non-Marxist nationalists to his camp. He had, moreover, been an ally of the West in the war against Japan. Nothing under this heading can be said of the Iraqi Baathists or jihadists, who are descended from those who angrily took the other side in the war against the Axis, and who opposed elections on principle. If today’s Iraqi “insurgents” have any analogue at all in Southeast Asia it would be the Khmer Rouge.
    Vietnam as a state had not invaded any neighbor (even if it did infringe the neutrality of Cambodia) and did not do so until after the withdrawal of the United States when, with at least some claim to self-defense, it overthrew the Khmer Rouge regime. Contrast this, even briefly, to the record of Saddam Hussein in relation to Iran and Kuwait.
    Vietnam had not languished under international sanctions for its brazen contempt for international law, nor for its building or acquisition, let alone its use of, weapons of mass destruction.
    Vietnam had never attempted, in whole or in part, to commit genocide, as was the case with the documented “Anfal” campaign waged by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds.
    In Vietnam the deep-rooted Communist Party was against the partition of the country and against the American intervention. It called for a boycott of any election that was not an all-Vietnam affair. In Iraq, the deep-rooted Communist Party is in favor of the regime change and has been an enthusiastic participant in the elections as well as an opponent of any attempt to divide the country on ethnic or confessional lines. (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is not even an Iraqi, hates the Kurds and considers the religion of most Iraqis to be a detestable heresy: not a mistake that even the most inexperienced Viet Cong commander would have been likely to make.)
    No car bomb or hijacking or suicide-bombing or comparable atrocity was ever committed by the Vietnamese, on American or any other foreign soil. Nor has any wanted international gangster or murderer ever been sheltered in Vietnam.
    American generals and policymakers could never agree as to whether the guerrillas in Vietnam were self-supporting or were sustained from the outside (namely the northern half of their own country). However one may now view that debate, it was certainly true that Hanoi, and the southern rebels, were regularly resupplied not by minor regional potentates but by serious superpowers such as the Warsaw Pact and China, and were able to challenge American forces in battlefield order. The Iraqi “insurgents” are based among a minority of a minority, and are localized geographically, and have no steady source of external supply. Here the better comparison would be with the dogmatic Communists in Malaya in the 1940s, organized principally among the Chinese minority and eventually defeated even by an exhausted postwar British empire. But even the die-hard Malayan Stalinists had a concept of “people’s war” and a brave record in fighting Japanese imperialism. The Iraqi “insurgents” are dismal riff-raff by comparison.
    Where it is not augmented by depraved Bin Ladenist imports, the leadership and structure of the Iraqi “insurgency” is formed from the elements of an already fallen regime, extensively discredited and detested in its own country and universally condemned. This could not be said of Ho Chin Minh or of the leaders and cadres of the National Liberation Front.
    The option of accepting a unified and Communist Vietnam, which would have evolved toward some form of market liberalism even faster than China has since done, always existed. It was not until President Kennedy decided to make a stand there, in revenge for the reverses he had suffered in Cuba and Berlin, that quagmire became inevitable. The option of leaving Iraq to whatever successor regime might arise or be imposed does not look half so appetizing. One cannot quite see a round-table negotiation in Paris with Bin Laden or Zarqawi or Moqtada Sadr, nor a gradually negotiated hand-over to such people after a decent interval.
    In Vietnam, the most appalling excesses were committed by U.S. forces. Not all of these can be blamed on the conduct of bored, resentful, frightened conscripts. The worst atrocities—free-fire zones, carpet-bombing, forced relocation, and chemical defoliation—were committed as a direct consequence of orders from above. In Iraq, the crimes of mass killing, aerial bombardment, ethnic deportation, and scorched earth had already been committed by the ruling Baath Party, everywhere from northern Kurdistan to the drained and burned-out wetlands of the southern marshes. Coalition forces in Iraq have done what they can to repair some of this state-sponsored vandalism.
    In Vietnam, the United States relied too much on a pre-existing military caste that often changed the local administration by means of a few tanks around the presidential palace. In the instance of Iraq, the provisional government was criticized, perhaps more than for any other decision, for disbanding the armed forces of the ancien regime, and for declining to use a proxy army as the United States had previously done in Indonesia, Chile, El Salvador, and Greece. Unlike the South Vietnamese, the Iraqi forces are being recruited from scratch.
    In Vietnam, the policy of the United States was—especially during the Kennedy years—a sectarian one that favored the Roman Catholic minority. In Iraq, it is obvious even to the coldest eye that the administration is if anything too anxious to compose religious differences without any reference to confessional bias.
    I suppose it’s obvious that I was not a supporter of the Vietnam War. Indeed, the principles of the antiwar movement of that epoch still mean a good deal to me. That’s why I retch every time I hear these principles recycled, by narrow minds or in a shallow manner, in order to pass off third-rate excuses for Baathism or jihadism. But one must also be capable of being offended objectively. The Vietnam/Iraq babble is, from any point of view, a busted flush. It’s no good. It’s a stiff. It’s passed on. It has ceased to be. It’s joined the choir invisible. It’s turned up its toes. It’s gone. It’s an ex-analogy.


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