Wednesday, October 06, 2004
A different approach

Dear friends, where have you been all this time :)

In most of my previous posts, and in most of the post of all other Iraqi bloggers, the general tendency have been to complain, complain, complain, then to blame the Americans then blame more and more and more.
Since that will not take us anywhere, I’ve decided to be more positive and take a different approach.

If you want to know the current situation now in Iraq, there are many very good Iraqi blogs that are continuously being updated about the situation here and I don’t see any reason why should I repeat what they are saying. Perhaps I do have a slightly different perspective, but the general picture is still the same.

Before I go on any further, I would like to say one thing. From the many letters from Americans that I have received, and from the comments from the Americans that I have read on other Iraqi blogs, I must say that regardless of what I think about the American policy and politicians, I am definitely pro-American-people. Some Americans oppose what their government have done here, others defending it, but both groups are with the Iraqi people and that’s what matters to me.

Dear American friends, given the situation that we are in now, what do you think that we Iraqi and American people can do to help in improving the situation in Iraq and to start with the reconstruction. Reconstruction may not necessarily be in buildings and materialistic things. Reconstruction may well be on the intellectual level, and that is something that we are supposed to be able to do.

The main problems here in Iraq are not bad electrical power supply, bad roads, shortage in fuel , or heavy traffic. Though in most of my posts, those were the things that I kept complaining about!! (One last complain: And now that schools and universities have started, THE ROADS GOT REALLY REALLY CROWDED WITH ALL THOSE BLOCKED ROADES). All the above problems will not get one killed anyway except for the following scenarios:
- bad electrical power supply: one gets hot to death. But on the other hand, deaths by electrical shocks must have been reduced since there is not that much of electricity to shock people!
- bad road: if on falls in a very big hole!
- shortage in fuel: one gets stuck in a fuel queue and gets board to death!
- heavy traffic: one gets frustrated to death!

Our problems are much deeper, and they are all caused by the way the Iraqi people are thinking.
- If many are still thinking of armed resistance, or are sympathizing with, or covering up for, those who kidnap or kill innocent Iraqis and foreigners,
- If many Iraqis think that beheading people is justified in war.
- If many Iraqis think that the new government should either be a 100% like what they want or they should fight it.
- If many Iraqis are not willing to compromise.
- If many Iraqis are not willing to put their hands in the Americans even with those that really want to help.
If this attitude continues, we can never start rebuilding our country.

Our real problems are those that endanger our lives. Problems that are preventing us from doing any action fearing that we might get kidnapped or killed (or beheaded!). So we have two types of problems: Killer problems, and non-killer problems. From now on, I’ll try to stop talking about the latter.

I am sick of keeping on blaming the Americans; this will not take us anywhere. In a comment from and American women, she said: Instead of blaming the Americans, ‘What have you (Iraqis) done to help your country?’, Well she is right. Although, many Iraqis are doing much to help the country, many of them are dying everyday in doing so, but what I, and other complainers, are doing to help Iraq? Blogging!!!! or in other words Complaining!!!!

How can bloggin help? Will bloggin help American voters in voting for the president that will do what’s best for Iraq after better understanding the situation here? Might be. But which president will do what’s best for Iraq? I definitely don’t know. I hope the Americans do, if so, please enlighten me.

Returning to positive thinking:
I would like to know of any practical idea on how Iraqi civilians like me and normal Americans can help?
Many have blamed Iraqis of not reporting about terrorists and criminals. Well, terrorists and criminals are not walking on the streets carrying signs that they are bad people so that we can report them (paraphrased from Salam Pax). So let’s put this option aside.

A group of IT friends are working on establishing a society of professional Iraqi ITs. I consider this to be a small step in rebuilding the country. I am partially helping them and I will keep you informed of their progress because I think that at some point I will ask for your help on this. At least they are doing something instead of complaining.

There shall be no more complains. There shall be work.

“The heights by great men reached and kept, where not obtained by sudden flight. But they, while their companions slept, where toiling upward in the night.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


As foreigners usually greet Iraqis now: Stay Safe

364 comments:

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liminal said...

Ahmed,

I agree with your sentiment entirely. And it is very important to be positive regardless of the situation. But when women cannot go to their jobs and carry on like they once did...and security makes a difference in whether you're able to go to the lab to finish an experiment...when there is silence about the psychological and cerebral damage done to the iraqi psyche because of many traumas, it needs to be pointed out and voiced by Iraqis themselves. One may call it complaining...I see as thereuputic and essential to voicing this will that wants to rebuild, wants to be happy, and wants to succeed. There should be no damper on those who wish to express their views in any manner. Especially, if this mirage of democracy could take a more tangible form in Iraq. If we don't speak we wil do ourselves a greater disservice that will manifest later with an ugly face. I am sure we can work, get things accomplished, and retell our experiences as we make progress. I hope this becomes the norm. But when daily life is effected to such a degree that iraqis cannot go and get those experiences and live that normal life, then not describing the situation (no matter what slant you may have) as it is before your eyes then a crucial part of having the freedom to speak is taken away by ourselves. We must use our voice. Blogging is a blessing in a way, even if not so many people are reading. The Iraqi voice is what will heal the Iraqi mind and the way we are thinking. When things get markedly better, I'm sure our concerns will shift from writing about being worried about going out on the street after 10pm, to getting that grant to complete the construction of a telecommunications tower in the neighborhood.

Here's to Iraq bil Khair...
liminal

Anonymous said...

Your angle on the problem is exactly what the American, British and all the other coalition countries taxpayers want to hear. "What are the Iraqi's doing to help themselves?"

Form a group then get in touch with the Iraqi press and TV stations and get your message across to ordinary Iraqi people that it is in their interest to be pro-coalition forces and why. A TV program at prime time viewing with 4/5 ordinary Iraqi women appealing for help from their fellow citizens is the most powerful voice you can have. That alone is something that has never happened for 30 years, it would be the Iraqi equivalent of "Shock and Awe"!

ps
Email - http://rosebaghdad.blogspot.com/ - then physically meet up with her with a view to start the ball rolling. There must be other Iraqi intellectuals who feel the same willing to offer their help and advice. It will be very interesting to readers of both websites to see how you get on. Who knows, you could start a movement.

Go for it girls!

Johnny - London

Faisal ... said...

Salaam Ahmed

You have said it well and clear. However, I believe that some of the iraqis are fearing their lives (because of these terrorists) and would prefer to keep a low profile. Maybe that's exactly where blogging can help. Maybe some kind of wish list (and progress) database from professionals like you. I don't know and only suggesting.

Anyway, I like your sense of humour as well.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your positive comments! We do a lot of complaining here in America too. Complaining can be a good thing. We saw lots of TV reports from Iraq while Saddam was in power, and any Iraqi that would go on TV always said everything was fine, Saddam treats me like a brother, and every day is a holiday. I guess Saddam's goons were somewhere near.

About your idea of a group of IT professionals, that is a great start and something which is very tangible, real, and beneficial. I'm an IT professional in America, and think such an organization would be great.

When we start seeing competitive software coming out of Iraq, we'll know you guys are getting the job done. It will be great to compete with Iraq in business, rather than us blowing each other up all the time. There must be a fairly lucrative market for Arabic based software, and here's hoping you guys become the best!

Stay safe!
Jerry

Steve in Boston said...

As an American, I don't mind being blamed when we do make mistakes. The problem I've always had is being blamed, but then not offered anything useful in the way of ideas or alternate views on how it could have been done differently, with better results.

As for what have Iraqis been doing to help themselves, well, as with any society, there are those that will help, and there are those that will sit back expecting others to do something. Iraqis have only been free to act for a year or so. It will take time for them to fully grasp what they now have. It will take a lifetime to forget the horrors they were living with for the last 35 or so years. The children of Iraq are the future. They need to be educated in all things. Politics, Technology, Science, and Agriculture. They ARE the future of Iraq.

Examples of what Iraqis are doing to help themselves are easy to find, if you look:

Faiza, who is probably one of the largest critics of the war and the American government (but NOT the American people!), has helped to form a professional women's society as an NGO to do charitable works for the poor and those harmed by the war.

I have heard the 3 brothers (Mohammed, Ali & Omar) are having ideas in the way of actually running for political office(s).

The lines for joining the IP and the INA are long. After each bombing, they grow longer, not shorter.

The government officials at all levels remain in office, at risk to their own lives and the safety of their families. Very few have quit their jobs in spite of all the violence aimed directly at them.

And many others help simply by sharing their forward looking views with other Iraqis they come into contact with each day.

And you are contributing now, by assisting with the formation of a professionally organized IT society.

So, you see, Iraqis contributing to their own reconstruction are out there, in abundance. You just have to open your eyes to see them.

Each person, no matter what station in life they occupy, has a talent for something. Whether engineer, scholar, computer expert, writer, doctor, dentist, electrician, plumber, farmer, artist, musician, carpenter, mason, etc. Everyone has a natural talent for something. The key is discovering a way that your natural talent can be used to benefit your country and her people.

Much good has come from the war, and of course, much bad has come from it. This is no different than any other war that has ever been waged by man, throughout all of history. There is no such thing as a good war, a safe war, or a clean war. War is always bad. It is the results of the war that is the true measurement of its worth, in the end. If Iraqis remain free, and the country is rebuilt to grow and thrive, and rejoin the rest of the civilized world as a beacon of light against the darkness, then, in my own small, humble opinion, those good people that have died as a result of the war, have not died in vain. A free and prosporous Iraq will be a monument to their sacrifice. But it is not truly my opinion that matters here. It is the opinion of each and every Iraqi, that matters.

Before the war, I don't believe that they had any hope of ever being free, or at least not in any of our lifetimes. Now they do, and it is up to them to keep that light burning, and to bring it to the dark places, and spread that hope to all within Iraq. To me, that is the best thing they can do to help in the rebuilding process. Change the minds of those that are stuck in despair, blame, and negativity. Show them the good that does exist now, as a result of the war. They don't have to be convinced that the war is good, because it isn't. No war is ever good. But, the war happened, and it is still happening. Use it to the advantage of Iraqis. Use the opportunity to shape Iraq into something Iraqis can be proud of, into something that will honor the dead, not shame them.

That is the true contibution any Iraqi can give to their own reconstruction.

God Bless Iraq and Iraqis.

Steve in Boston said...

I just read another comment that was posted while writing my own.

I don't think its a question of being "pro-coalition".

And quite honestly, I feel that it is ridiculous to expect any Iraqi that has lost a friend, family member, or loved one to coalition fired weapons to ever be "pro-coalition".

I would hope that rather than to ask them to be "pro-coaltion", ask them to forgive us for those casualties, and to understand that not a single one was on purpose, and that each and every innocent life lost as a result of coalition weapons fire is felt by each and every one of us, as if it were an assualt on us.

I would ask that they understand that while it may have been coalition weapons that took the life of their friend, family or loved one, it was the terrorists that usually instigated the battle. I say usually, because I'm not naive enough to think that we have only played a reactionary role in each battle. Civilians die when we stage offensive attacks on terrorist safe houses too. So, I only ask that they forgive and at least try to understand the reasons behind each action.

The terrorists cannot be allowed to remain in Iraq, or Iraq will never be free, safe or stable. They must be removed, and unfortunately, they must be removed at any cost. It is the only way to completely remove them. The truly terrible part of that method is that the cost will include innocent civilian casualties. The coalition's job is to do their absolute best to keep those numbers down to the lowest possible number, but there will be civilian casualties, no matter how careful they are. And each and every one of them will weigh heavily on all of our hearts and souls.

No, do not ask them to be "pro-coalition", simply ask them to find it in their hearts to forgive, to try to understand why, and to truly be "pro-Iraq" and "anti-terrorist".

I think that you can expect better results from that request, than asking them to be "pro-coaltion". Again, this is just my small, humble opinion on the matter. No offense was intended, and if any was taken, I sincerely apologize in advance.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

That was beautifully written. You just said it all.

Lynnette in Minnesota

Anonymous said...

May God the most merciful and most compassionate bless Iraq and all Iraqis.

May the wondrous and poetic voice of the Iraqis never be stilled; Saddam tried to silence the voice and ultimately failed. Now Saddam's goons and beneficiaries as well as foreign and criminal elements and even CNN/BBC political elements are trying to drown out the legitimate Iraqi voice, so that ordinary Iraqis and well-wishers cannot hear it and be strenthened in their hopes and dreams.

The first casualty of upheaval is TRUTH, so I think establishing a firm media presence on the Internet and on the airwaves is of paramount importance; this is something that can be done by ordinary (brave) Iraqi citizens to combat terrorist propaganda.

The freedom to acknowledge and discuss problems and to discuss possible solutions to these problems should be used widely and publicly via Internet and airwaves. Who in civilization would want a society where bombing children and kidnapping for money are the only proposed suggestions for solving disagreements?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it is enough today just for an old retired person in western USA knows that an inteligent person in Iraq has correctly interpreted his opinion of the wartorn countryside. We hear only the negative attitudes on TV news and seldom hear of any positive changes proposed to reconstruct that community. Freedom brings with it the need to propose and fulfill activities, not to blindly follow orders from politicians or managers.
Good luck on your computer efforts
Don in Washington state USA

Anonymous said...

"Dear American friends, given the situation that we are in now, what do you think that we Iraqi and American people can do to help in improving the situation in Iraq and to start with the reconstruction."

A majority of Americans believe that a majority of Iraqis wish Saddam was back in power.

It seems that no one in the world is appreciative of the cost America is incurring. I understand there is a moral standing that shouldn't be influenced by waivering opinions, but it will be hard for Americans to stomach it much longer w/o some positive signals.

If Kerry is elected then that is the voice of Americans saying the cost is too high and concede to the world that it was a mistake to take Saddam out.

Anonymous said...

I posted a comment like this over at iraqiblogger.blogspot.com, but it has got me thinking more and more about it since then.

I think Iraqis should establish public "forums". This is an old, old thing from ancient Greece, and probably the ancient Mesopotamians did it too. These were places were people would go to debate the issues of the day. Sometimes rowdy, sometimes full of learned philosophers. In America there's also a saying called "getting on a soap box", which refers to someone in a public street just turning over an old crate and standing on it and making a speech to argue for something.

The problem seems to be like you say too many Iraqis who just want to complain, too many who are not willing to compromise, too many who think the government should be 100% what they want or they should fight it.

I think if you got all these people to argue in a public forum over the issues instead of shooting at eachother, they might eventually learn to compromise and cooperate. It might be really loud and chaotic at first, but eventually people would learn the rules of debate, learn to let every side speak, and be forced to concede when they are wrong about something. The better educated speakers would get more respect from the listeners and eventually the stupid people and the radicals would be filtered out. This is how society develops natural leaders, and it's very similar to an actual parliament. A parliament is basically like a forum but in which the the participants are representatives from different regions or groups selected by elections. So it's like sending someone else to argue for you.

The public forums would give Iraqis a much better idea of what democracy is all about. It's not all just a magic thing in which everything suddenly works perfectly. It's a battlefield with words instead of bullets. Which is sort of the point. Getting people to agree to try to persuade others instead of trying to shoot them, and to respect their right to do otherwise if they don't agree.

Anonymous said...

The above comment about the BBC/CNN stifling the voices from within Iraq is well put. We are finding out in the USA that previously respected news organizations (such as CBS) have little more than a partisan political agenda, and if it serves their agenda to potray Iraq as a chaotic quagmire, then that's what they will do. The same goes for Fox news which will probably potray Iraq in more positive terms, not because that is the truth, but because it meets their political agenda.

I suspect the same is true for Al Jazeera, et. al. They will potray Iraq in whatever terms meet their political agenda.

Blogs are saving humanity. That may sound a little dramatic, but we would have never these voices from within Iraq if it were not for the blogosphere.

Stay safe!
Jerry

Maddog said...

As you may have noticed from posters like Jerry, we, here in America realize that Iraq is a central "political" focus in the world now.

The foci of these political entities do NOT have your interest in hand. What is worse is that many of these entities exist in the main stream media, therefore Americans, and others in the world are exposed to their leanings, and in many cases, ONLY their leanings.

You are so correct as to assume that the webblogs serve as a conduit from those of us outside to the people who live in Iraq. We have a very great stake in your future. We "want" Iraq to succeed. You, therefore, as a blogger, make it personal. We, through the blogosphere, get to know you as our friend, someone we then care about.

The Iraqi blogs allow all citizens of the world to "experience" your feelings, your daily worries, your encounters. You, in essence, are OUR "boots on the ground". And, we thank you for that.

Your niece, Najma, is just such an example. When she tells us about her life, so many of us surge forward to help, just like we would a neighbor at home. We accept her just as we would "our" daughter or friend. We do NOT like to hear about an uncomfortable situation we can't help to change for her. As you may have read (in her blog), many of us have offered financial help, have contacted our Congressional representatives to effect a change. This is no small thing to do for Najma. Sometimes we wish we could be there, in Iraq, to make it happen. But it is not possible as you know. Perhaps we are just busybodies.

And why?

Because, just as you have said, we now call you our friend. If there is ANYTHING we can do to make your life better, we, as Americans and other citizens of the world, will do anything we can to help. You are in a tough spot none of us would like to be in. We have sympathy for you and all Iraqis. No one would want that for any of our "friends".

Only a few months ago, none of us had heard, or knew of Najma, for example, but we do now. She is our friend, we hope the best for her and will do whatever we can to help her and her family, including you.

Because she blogs.

Tell all Iraqis to please keep blogging. Complain all you want, and we will understand. You will only tell us what you are thinking. And we will listen.

That's what friends are for.

Good luck to you,

Maddog

submandave said...

I echo the thoughts of many here in that a vitally important thing any intelligent, informed Iraqi can do to help improve the situation in Iraq is to teach. I don't specifically mean becoming a teacher (although that is a noble pursuit) and I certainly don't mean lecturing people (everyone tires of the old wind-bag know-it-all at the café), but just sharing what you know with others who may not not. Share your facts and personal observations with those whose thoughts are darkened by rumors and unfounded talk of conspiracies. Share your knowledge with those struggling to understand the concepts of democracy. Share your impressions and thoughts with the world through reporters and media people who seem more inclined to interview extremists terrorists than average thoughtful Iraqis.

Specifically on the topic of insecurity, I see four main sources and causes:
1. Terrorists and Ba'athist hold-outs that just want to create chaos to try and force the coalition out. They cause much pain and suffering to the Iraqi people both directly (car bombs) and as a result of their actions against coalition, IP and ING (stray bullets and bombs).
2. Misguided Iraqis who genuinely believe it is their duty to fight against the coalition. I don't believe this group is relatively large and they are probably largely being influenced in their actions by the first group. While not likely to directly attack Iraqi civilians, the violence they visit upon coalition and IP/ING still produces stray bullets. If at all possible, this is the group I hope friends and relatives can reach to help them see that they are actually fighting against the best interests of Iraq.
3. Misguided religious extremists attempting to impose Taliban-like order and rules. Again, these people are greatly being used by the first group to add to the chaos and instability. Unfortunately, I don't know how much influence logic will have over them, so we must look to responsible clerics within both Sunni and Shi'ia branches of Islam to try and stop this practice. It is my impression that Sistani is trying to reduce the Shi'ia tendency, but the lack of a recognized individual Sunni religious leader makes this more difficult in that community.
4. The dedicated efforts of individual and organized thugs and criminals. These people are both used by and use the terrorists and Ba'athists and equally deserve no mercy at the hands of the coalition and IP/ING. I believe the greatest threat to Iraqi stability actually comes from this group at this time, but as they are indistinguishable from and supported by the terrorists in many ways the IP has been hampered in going after them. The more we (coalition, IP and ING) reduce the strength, capabilities and resources of the terrorists, the more capable the IP will be to deal with the criminal element.

The major educational challenges I see are:
1. Teaching people to distinguish between fact, rumor and conspiracy theory. It helps noone if it is a normal reaction to blame everything that goes wrong on Americans or the Jews or a conspiracy between the two.
2. Communicating the honest good will of the Coalition. I say this with all sincerity and heart-felt honesty, that almost every foreign soldier in Iraq would like nothing better than to help Iraq become a safe, secure functioning democracy as soon as possible.
3. Educating people on the functioning and theory of a democratically elected government. This, of course, includes the ability to accept a loss. I have said in other conversations that democracy is not made by the first election but more by the second.
4. Communicating the facts and truth of Iraq to the world. As others have pointed out, in the world press it often looks like every Iraqi is pointing a gun at the coalition forces and every street is filled with bodies. If this is true, then it is important to let the world know. If, however, it is not (as I suspect) than it is just as important. What John Kerry does not seem to understand is that when you're winning everyone is your friend, but if you're loosing noone knows you. The more that progress and positive events in Iraq are emphasized, the more Iraq looks like a winner and the more support it will gather around the world.

As an individual, I encourage you to read and learn as much as possible. Not just what is happening in Iraq, but what is being said about Iraq all over the world. If you see something being reported inaccurately or things being mischaracterized, write to the editors and let them know, as an Iraqi, how you feel and what you know about the matter. As an individual, I think a great help you can provide is to let the world know all the great things about Iraq, Iraqis and what is happening there. You can encourage support around the world to help Iraq grow in strength and stability and freedom. Enlist your friends. If every sensationalist story that emphasized the doom and gloom of Iraq was countered by enthusiastic, positive Iraqis pressing the media to report accurately but with perspective, it will help.

Anonymous said...

I think submandave from the comments section has come up with a practical suggestion:

Most people get their information from newspapers. But the articles in newspapers are often written by non-Iraqi columnists and reporters who get their information second hand or are trying to promote an agenda or further their career. On the other hand, "letters to the editor" are also printed by newspapers, and these are written by normal, everyday people.

If literate and eloquent real-life Iraqis could periodically write or email the "letters to the editor" that appear in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, and similar papers, then Americans and others could experience firsthand the innate humanity common to the entire human race and become more determined to respond to Iraqi needs.

God willing, the voice of the Iraqi people will be heard and the cries of the needy will not be ignored.

Kenjiro

Anonymous said...

As an American this is music to my ears.If you need any help let us know. we will do what we can.

Anonymous said...

Here are some comments from my son who is serving in the army in the 9 Nisan area of Baghdad:

i think a lot of people don't really care about anything that doesn't currently effect them in their daily lives. they kind of just do what is right for them at the moment without any regard to the consequences or the broader implications. we see that kind of stuff everyday, from the way people throw their garbage in the street and the way people drive down the wrong side of the road to get someplace quicker and the way they ignore the bombs out in the street as long as it is not in front of their house. i feel like they don't understand that the country is never going to get better if they keep doing this stuff. i know it's not everyone but i feel like there is just a collective laziness that is funny but at the same time pitiful. it reminds me of the simpsons when marge and homer have to go to a parenting class and the instructor says “put your garbage in a garbage can, i can’t stress this enough people” so i think their inability to get the government running stems from this attitude of only doing what is right for me at this moment. i know it will take time to get this stuff working but seeing the everyday iraqis, i just don't know if it will ever happen.

Anonymous said...

You need to create wireless computer networks everywhere. Then install wireless security cameras, have easy internet access within the community. Use this infrastructure to communicate and inform on the bad guys.

I truly believe the more communication abilities you have the more freedom you'll have. It'd be difficult to destroy.

Pete

Anonymous said...

LoL! I just had to chuckle at Pete's suggestion. But I wouldn't recommend constant surveillance, it would create an attitude of paranoia and "who's watching me now?"

Ahmed, your analysis was brilliant. A strikingly clear and intelligent look at the situation right now; thanks for posting it!

In regards to your question, I think Iraqis need to get involved in community efforts to help their neighborhood. Create an upbeat positive "can do" attitude, and focus on your local area. Get your neighbors to join you, clean up the trash in your area and neighborhood streets; paint your local school if it needs it. Start doing little things just to help out your own community. If you can turn your own area into a virtual Iraqi paradise, other Iraqis will see that together they can work to make their own neighborhood better. Who knows, if you're really successful, maybe you'll get widespread publicity which will spread the word even more.

- Ben.

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling that Iraqi communities have been so pulverized by the years under Saddam Hussein that there's no concept of a "neighborhood", or at least not one of people you can trust. My understanding is that most Iraqis trust only members of their own family, extended family and tribe. They do not talk to the guy next door because he could be a Baathist intelligence agent, or these days, a terrorist who will arrange to have them shot if he decides they are "collaborators".

Back in the ex-Regime, the only people who could express their views were the zombies brainwashed by Saddam. Sure, you could stand up in the cafe and start shouting about the damn Americans and what a great leader Saddam was any time you wanted. How is it today? Probably, not nearly as bad, but I'll bet a lot of people still feel like they can't say anything against the insurgents. Like maybe: it's okay to denounce the suicide bombings, sort of okay to denounce attacks on the police and infrastructure, but not okay to denoucne attacks on US soldiers.

That's why I say that Iraqis need to start arguing with eachother. Find out what the people around you think. Create a public space where people can argue instead of shooting at eachother. Maybe if some of these insurgents could get into a good shouting match with some other people they would calm down. Maybe after they get the screaming at eachother over with they'll get tired of it and start to think about how to make things better.

Anonymous said...

I really like the suggestion for you to write emails. I think there may even be one person who would read them and point them out on the air. That is Bill O'Reilly at Fox news. I know maybe some do not like him but I believe with all my heart that if the Iraqi people started writing him letters he would read them on air. He has a powerful voice and is watched by many many people. I have been so enlightened by the Iraq blogs. I feel such a strong love for the Iraqi people and I pray for you all the time. Your voices need to be heard. The press here is so liberal and want Kerry to win at any cost. The picture of Saddam on CNN today made me shiver because I really believe they have no idea how that picture would affect the Iraqi people. They probably don't even know you have access to computers they are so stupid! They are so focused on bashing Bush that they are blinded to the real need, which is helping you. Please give a thought to writing Bill O'Reilly - who knows it just might be the start of something.

My prayers are with you,
Terri

Anonymous said...

I have to say one more thing too. It was the bloggers that outed Dan Rather and CBS news with their phony document. I say bloggers unite and write to Billoreilly@foxnews.com. He always says put your name and town in the email. I am convinced if he starts seeing emails coming from Iraq they will be read!!!

Peace,
Terri

jeff said...

Dr. Ahmed:

So good to see you back! You are the best of the adult bloggers and you have no idea how much it means to have a reasonable voice that loves Iraq and that isn't full of vanity or hatred or conceit. You have taught everyone who reads this blog a lot. I'll bet Americans and Europeans from both sides of the political debate have found real reason to stop and question themselves and reconsider dearly held ideas after reading you. That matters more than you guess, I believe.

It seems to me that the crucial point is going to be the elections. If a large number of Iraqis reject them and decide the new government is illegitimate, then I don't know what more America could possibly contribute.

If the Iraqi people accept them as imperfect, but something that can be improved later by voting again, like we do in America, then either candidate for president will be looking at ways to get out. But if they reject them and there is more resistance, both possible presidents will ALSO be looking for a way out.

My thinking is that the positive thinking and planning right now should be to ask: Are the elections worth bothering with? If so, what can be done to make them as good as possible? What can be done to make Iraqis accept them, even if their guys don't win and even if they are not perfect?

If the elections are no good as planned; What should we do instead?

And, most especially, what are we going to do when the Americans leave? Up to now most Iraqis pro- and anti-coalition have been speaking as if America will be there for a long while. So either the problem has seemed to be How to get them to go (if you are anti-); or How to work with them and what they should be doing next (if you are pro-).

My fear is that people on both sides are going to be surprised by how shallow American commitment is to Iraq. Both Republicans and Democrats have gotten the message that most Americans want to get out as soon as possible, and before long will pay almost any price to do that. TIME IS LIMITED. WHAT ARE YOU IRAQIS DOING TO PREPARE FOR WHEN WE GO?

I don't myself feel that Americans should be so easily frustrated. But I am afraid most of us are. Every day, the impression being fed to us by our media is that Iraq is a hopeless mess and Iraqis hate us and there is no end in sight. The media is saying, "Things are getting worse and worse every day." I have been through this media thing before with Vietnam and I remember it. And the sad truth is that when we left Vietnam, not very many Americans from either viewpoint cared much about what happened afterward.

My hope is that the elections will be GOOD ENOUGH and that Iraqis can accept them as a good start. Because the next phase in American planning will surely be: now, how do we get out as quickly as possible.

So, to those who want to fight and get us out...you may succeed. Have you seriously taken that into account? What then? Just fingers crossed and hope for the best? Or are you trying to organize some alternative? Some kind of United Front of Patriotic Iraqis, or alliance of legitimate resistance groups or something?

To those who want us to stay and help for a little while...we may. But how can Iraqis take back all the responsiblities that they have to shoulder as quickly as possible?

To those who believe that this transition--even if imperfect--is GOOD ENOUGH for a start, the continued volunteering for police and army is one of the best things I see. I believe in the Iraqis and want them to succeed regardless of what they think of us. I've never cared much whether Iraqis are grateful or not. I don't even know if they SHOULD be grateful. I think a free and successful Iraq is good for America, whether it is "grateful" or whether it doesn't much like us. God bless Iraq either way.

Probably the majority of your commenters on both sides feel my intense interest and sympathy. But I fear that general concern and interest will both fade and sooner than most Iraqis think.

Jeff

Anonymous said...

The most important step Iraqis can take to begin to take control of their government and their lives is to vote! Vote in the coming elections! That's the most important duty for American citizens.

Anonymous said...

I would like to add to the above post.
It is the VOLUME of voter's in Iraq who actually cast their vote, which will grab world headlines.

Johnny - London

Anonymous said...

'what do you think that we Iraqi and American people can do to help in improving the situation in Iraq and to start with the reconstruction.'

Look at what prevails best in another democracies. Have irrefutable laws of freedom passed that can not be suppressed. Think about the reconstruction as the opportunity to provide for the future Iraqi people.
A better democracy than the US, which is being stripped of its rights and freedoms. Publicly funded world radio, 'the voice of Iraq' like the BBC world service but free to state situations or conditions to the world that can not be interfered with by occupying forces maybe protected by the UN. A means of keeping the government as honest as possible. The right to bear arms and all the other amendments could be viewed for particular formulations and brought forward as amendments to the Iraqi constitution to protect the Iraqi people. Distinct laws will help in the future, possibly near future. Help in current reconstruction, get the word out to as many world media as possible, again and again, that's what the outside world hears. Not enough electricity, Doctors kidnapped and ransom being paid. A continual reporting of the failure of reconstruction plans in Iraq. Its not complaining, it's keeping the people of Iraq in the mind of people all over. Fresh reporting, people need to hear you don't have power all the time. No refrigeration, no air conditioning in fifty degree heat, ordinary people can understand and feel for that and possibly the terrorist groups will resist harming their own brothers in targeting essential services for the Iraqi people. Where are some of these groups from anyway?
Asking for a declaration from the terrorist groups that they will cease actions against civilians and civilian infrastructure. A demand that the US and Britain replace its funding originally allocated for reconstruction, redirected to police forces back to reconstruction.
A view of what the occupation is prioritizing for Iraq for its own interests and understanding that's where funding will go first. (Maybe they could fix that power and water along the way). Keep doing what you are doing, possibly get more people bloging, stay safe and be well.

submandave said...

Jeff: "My fear is that people on both sides are going to be surprised by how shallow American commitment is to Iraq. Both Republicans and Democrats have gotten the message that most Americans want to get out as soon as possible ..."

Jeff, in the immortal words of PE, don't believe the hype. I do not believe your assesment is accurate. I believe the heart and soul of America, "fly-over country" if you will, understands commitment and knows that just because the sun has gone down it doesn't mean the work's done. You stay until you finish. I said once in another comment thread that there is nothing nuanced about our "exit strategy" in Iraq: as long as we have the current C-in-C our exit strategy is victory. And there is nothing nuanced about victory either. When the Iraqi people have control over their own government and that government has control over its security we will have won. It's not an easy or quick proposition (never has been), but we are making steady progress on both conditions. We don't need Pollyannas, but we don't need Chicken Littles either. That's why I fervently believe the more Iraqis that help get the word out that we are making progress on both goals the better it will be for both us and them.

Johnno said...

I think the US will stay the course in Iraq if George Busbh gets re-elected--because he tends to stay the course. Kerry, I am certain, would start looking for a way out immediately.
As to getting Americans to stay the course, I think the Iraqis have some responsibility here, too. That is to show some postive results for the effort the Americans are expending. All Americans get now on the news is a body county and plumes of smoke or mangled vehicles at some car bomb site!
I might add, by the way, I suspect if we had the same media approach to the news in 1776 as we have today, that the media would be panning the battles during the American Revolution on the 6:30 p.m. news, too!

Anonymous said...

I think an important thing to realize is that you need to work for, and protect, your freedoms... particularly freedom of speech, press and assembly. There are two reasons why this is the key to success:
1. If people cannot get their problems addressed by non-violent means (newspapers, protests, petitions, voting, rallies, speeches, running for office, etc.) then you are rewarding them for using violent means.
2. Collectively, we are smarter. No one person is so smart to know everything, and listening to other viewpoints will lead to a collective understanding that is not possible if some voices are silenced.

It is also important to follow the "rules of law".. detaining people without arrest, using torture, torture-by-proxy, lack of trials and juries, letting criminals run free, and worst of all.... collective punishment for other's crimes. We have all got to agree on what the laws are (world-wide) and then always apply them, no matter what the other side does or does not do. And you have to commit to using as little force as possible to enforse the law.

As far as Bush vs. Kerry: I think their policies for Iraq and the Middle East are very similar. Kerry (eventually) voted for everything Bush wanted. A vote for Bush would be a vote for more of the same (which to me looks like it is not working very well) but a vote for Kerry would be a vote for trying something different(what he suggests does not sound feasible) that may further undermine people's confidence. So, it is a toss up. Or, as a Canadian friend said: the choice between Frick and Frack.

Post war planning and management does seem to be exceptional bad, which was my main concern all along. But then the reasons for the war were WMDs, connections to al Qaeda, and a threat to the USA, which are all bogus, so the foundation for this enterprize was very faulty to start with. This would have been discovered before the war started, if more voices in the USA were listened to. How can you have a good outcome with such a poor foundation?

I think you should blog whatever you want: we read this to find out more of what is going on in Iraq. Unfortunately, most of America is not paying attention, and they think the TV news keeps them informed. TV news in the USA is meant for entertainment, not understanding and knowledge. That's why our presidential campaign is all about polls and slinging insults around, and little talk of substance on real issues.

Anonymous said...

I was in your country in 1991 as a part of the American Army. I have stayed in touch with many Iraqi friends I made then. I am praying to God that your country will thrive. do not feel bad abourt complainig, it is the right of those in war. Saying that, I still want to encourage you to do what you seem to have started. I think one of the most important things you can do is to promote the election. It is a powerful thing to be able to choose your leaders, It give a country confidense and internal strength. Americans of all political views have a high regard for the Iraqi people and are in awe of your resilance through such times as you have lived. My greatest wish for you is that you be free..Remember true peace is not an absence of war, it is an absence of threat

Pat in NC said...

I found you through your dear niece, Najma. I feel like she is part of my family. The suggestions made are all good. I read in another blog that there is a talk show on radio. Call in, express your views. I am so fond of the Iraqi friends I have made via blogs and feel the same response from them. One wrote that the Quaran tells you to think (if I understood correctly) if so, using that among the peace loving Moslems might help. It seems that you have been taught for so many years not to think mainly by Saddam. Tell people what democracy means and that they will not then have another dictator. I pray for the good Iraqis and for our troops that those who use brutality to achieve their goals will soon be defeated.

Tamquam Leo Rugiens said...

I found you through your niece, Najma, dear soul that she is.
I do not worry that the Iraqi people are unable or unwilling to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. I worry that those whose vested interest is the reduction of Iraq to anarchy or fundamentalism will intimidate the Iraqi people into compliance with their evil plots. The thugs, the gangs, the pawns of foreign powers, the minions of fanaticism are strong in producing fear in ordinary people. I think that the ordinary Iraqi people will have to suffer much and oppose these evil types to the point of shedding their blood, and what is more diffficult still, shedding the blood of those they love. That, my friend, is hard to do.

mtnyogi said...

"Dear American friends, given the situation that we are in now, what do you think that we Iraqi and American people can do to help in improving the situation in Iraq and to start with the reconstruction".

I think that you have made a good start in your article. The way I see it is that you need to have a picture of the future that you'd like to see for Iraq in your mind. You need a goal before you can make a plan.

I see that many of the American and other foreign commenters have a picture of the future of Iraq. But I don't see Iraqis talking about a picture of the future. They are focused on all of the problems of the past and present. When they do speak of the future it seems to be more "get rid of the bad stuff" than "I'd like to see this good stuff". It is not enough to want to end the bad things, you have to have good things to look forward to. It also seems like the Iraqis are thinking that it is somebody else's job to come up with this picture of the future.

So, assuming that all of the current problems are temporary, what kind of good things would you like to see in Iraq's future? I have yet to see an Iraqi paint a picture of the future. I mean way down the road. What kind of country will your children's children grow up in? I posted an article in my blog trying to ask many questions about Iraq's future. I'd like to see an Iraqi's answer to this. I think that it might help to set a direction for you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your writing. The Iraqi blogs have affected me so much! I am an American and can have no true idea of the fears you must live with every day. However, I can say, that terrorists, of any nationality, only win when you show TERROR. Your fear is their reward. OUR fear is their reward. The only advice I would give to the Iraqi people is to hold your heads high! Be PROUD of who you are. Live your lives as normally as you possibly can. Iraq has a rich history that extends far before Saddam was even conceived. And that rich history can continue for centuries after he is gone. Let your voices be heard! To any and to all that you come in contact with, by any means.

emigre said...

A society of professional Iraqi ITs? You have no idea how happy i am to hear that. Hope there will still be room for amateurs though, seeing as most bloggers do it for free.

Take Care.

Johnno said...

Now you will find this incredible to believe or to do, but I think the most significant step Iraq could take would be to condemn the Palestinians for using humans to bomb other humans!
For years I have heard Arabs/Islamic types complain about Americans favoring Israel over the Palestinians. I don't, and I don't think most Americans do. What we do not like is the terror the Palestinians use!
If the Palestinians used diplomacy instead of bombs, they would garner a lot more support in the US.
I might add, I keep asking myself, are the Palestinians stupid? I mean everytime they bomb something in Israel, Israel responds with force that kills at least two times the number of Palestians over the number of Israelis killed. Then I hear some Hammas person say, "We will get our revenge!"
Of course, they try to get revenge, but then that will result in a bigger response from Israel.
I keep thinking that at some point the Palestinians would realize that all that ever happens when they kill Israelis is they also kill Palestians. And, I keep thinking that at some point they will want it all to stop!
It has to stop.
Iraqis! Condemn terror as a weapon for any purpose by anyone against anyone! And, don't, as the Palestinian politicians quibble to say, "We condemn killing civilians."
The condemnation has to be all inclusive. Anything less will result in the killing of civilians!
Just yesterday I saw a picture of a young Palestinian girl who'd been hurt by some Israeli bullet or bomb. She carried her brother who also had been hurt. What tragedy! Of course, you can also see the same picture in Israel and, now Egypt, and in Iraq almost every day.
Until the whole world joins to condemn and stop terrorism, no one in the whole world will be safe from it.
AC Blue Eagle

Anonymous said...

AC Blue Eagle

I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say.
Liken Israel and Hamas/Hezbolah to Northern Ireland and the IRA. They are similar situations Hamas/Hezbolah want Israel pushed into the sea and the IRA wanted Northern Ireland joined with Southern Ireland as a united Ireland and not controlled by the British from Westminster. Impossible situations? President Clinton came over and met members of the political wing (Sinn Fein) of the IRA, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuiness, which helped broker the peace we now have there. It was known as the "Good Friday Agreement".
Gerry Adams and McGuiness are now Members of Parliament at Westminster with a voice.

Ps
A British soldier was arrested two weeks ago and charged with killing an Iraqi civilian in Basra, the case is being brought by the British Crown Prosecution Service and tried in a CIVIL court in London. Any evidence or Iraqi witnesses will be flown to England for that trial.

Two British soldiers have today been charged with selling FAKE photographs of British soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners in the back of an army truck. The Sun newspaper that bought and printed them has admitted they were FAKE and accepted liability and will also be taken to court.

Today an American pilot fired a laser guided bomb into a building in Fallujah where an Iraqi wedding reception was taking place killing 12 including the groom and injuring 17.

Today British hostage Kenneth Bigley was beheaded. Coincidence?

Johnny - London

stephie said...

Do not feel that all you are doing is complaining. You are venting your feelings and frustrations as well as giving a lot of people insight into what is going on all around you. I also found your site through your lovely niece Najma.

As you can see from all of the above postings a lot of Americans care deeply about what is going on in Iraq. It doesn't matter who each of us feels would be better to run our country. It matters that we have a choice, that we can discuss matters with one another and not fear retribution. This is what democracy has brought our people. That is why people are right to tell you that voting is so important. Town hall type meetings and public forums are important. People should always, if fighting must be done, fight with words. Words can hurt but not nearly as much as bombs and bullets.

Democracy in our country was hard fought and hard won but thankfully our forefathers wanted their children and their children's children to live in a world where they would be free to express themselves. A country where it is acceptable to be a different religion than their neighbor, have different ideas and ideals than other people around them. Many people would like to see this for Iraq and the Iraqi people.

Unfortunately there is no magic wand that can be waved to make everything better. It is up to the people of Iraq to make the most of their country. To rebuild what has been torn down. To plant flowers in a schoolyard or clear the garbage from an empty field near their house. It is the Iraqi's who have the day-to-day responsibility of creating a government, going to work every day to maintain or start businesses, rebuilding roads and schools and hospitals. It is not an easy task, however, many people feel that it can be done. There are many people who want to help and who will do everything in their power to assist Iraq in it's efforts to move forward. Learn everything you can from these people and then build on that knowledge, expand it and mold it to fit Iraq's best interests.

Always remember that there are people who are rooting for Iraq to emerge as a strong, economically sound, democratic and free country. Do it for the children and for their children. One small step at a time.

Your friend in America.

Fayrouz said...

Ahmed,

You have no idea how much I missed you posts.

Establishing an Iraqi IT group is a great idea. Please, let us know what does the group need. You may never know who among your readers would have the answer to your needs and questions. I say this from a personal experience with my readers.

I hope you and your family stay well and safe,

susi from california said...

Ahmed-

Enjoyed your post. Blogging is a good forum to ask this "virtual community" on possible suggestions how Iraqis can help themselves in their current situation and how others outside of Iraq can help. Helpfully this forum can tap into some of the brightest minds out there and help fight against the terrorists who are terrorizing the Iraqis and folks who want to help in reconstructing the country.

I am not in law enforcement but I hope bloggers who are can provide practicle steps that Iraqis can take to help in their current situation. I have some suggestions that might help:

1)Good Iraqis need to be armed with information on who to look at for so that they can report it. As you said Iraqis are being kidnapped. We have amber alerts when a child is kidnapped which is an immediate over the television, radio and internet information about the kidnapping and a description of the child so others may be on the look out for the child. Information is also sent to all the police stations so that they are aware as well. Iraqis need to develop a such a rapid response so that the public becomes aware immediately and can be on the look out for the child/person. The program is called Amber Alert and I think there is information on the internet about it and how it works.

2)This is something your IT professional group might also want to discuss and see if it can be implemented in Iraq. South America has experienced kidnapping for ransom as well. Kidnappers usually take executives of corporation because they assume the corporation will have the funds to pay the ransom. I read in an article that executives have gone to having chips implanted so that when they are kidnapped the chips help in locating them. I don't know if something like that can be done and if it would be cost effective. Something to discuss at one of your first IT meetings.

3)I also believe that some of these would be criminals need to be put to work. If they are busy working on reconstruction and earning money, there is little motivation, I think and you tell me if I am wrong, to want to earn money the wrong way. Idle hands can lead some to mischief. Complain to the local governments, etc saying you want more reconstruction to keep people busy.

4)There is a mindset that Iraqis need to fight against which is this martyr mentality. I hate reading about young Arab men who think its much better to die for example suicide bombings then it is to live. Maybe Iraqis need to put together some effective Public Service Announcements over the radio, televison and internet to help fight off this mentality. A PSA for example, helped to get word out to the public about AIDS and the causes of AIDS. Movie stars, sports stars, and other influential people made commercials talking about AIDS to effect people's behavior. Maybe if Iraqis of stature (ie Iraqi soccer plays, etc) were on televison, radio & internet advising young Arab men that they are needed and that their lives matter to society that it might be helpful in preventing some of the suicide bombings. Young Arab men matter and shouldn't want to give up on their lives so easily.

Ahmed again thank you for your wonderful post and I hope that you get many thoughtful inputs to help Iraqis. I've read many articles about Iraq in past and almost all of them conclude that Iraqis are smart, educated, hardworking and resourceful people which I believe they are. If solutions can be found for dealing with the terrorists effectively, then I think Iraq can achieve almost anything.

God Bless and Stay Safe.

Anonymous said...

The Iraqi people need to come together and take back their country. They need to get organized...

Classes and education on self defense (stun guns, mace etc.)
Plan for identifing kidnappers, where they live etc. Valuable information can be obtained from the people that were kidnapped. These thugs need to be caught.
Organized neighborhoods. Watch groups patroling the area. If you don't belong there you don't get in. Cameras in neighborhoods.
Classes on what to look for and what to do in regards to cars with bombs. If someone "thinks" there could be a problem blow a horn.
Set up an anonymous system for people to call in or send email to turn in these thugs.
There are many things that an organization can do with a good plan.

Anonymous said...

"- bad electrical power supply: one gets hot to death. But on the other hand, deaths by electrical shocks must have been reduced since there is not that much of electricity to shock people!
- bad road: if on falls in a very big hole!
- shortage in fuel: one gets stuck in a fuel queue and gets board to death!
- heavy traffic: one gets frustrated to death!"

hahah sounds like LA ^_^

Anonymous said...

I think the only harmful thing is apathy. Whether you complain or praise ... you are helping Iraq learn how to discuss their problems in the open. An article in Mesopotamian blog got me thinking about talk radio. If you wanted to do some action, then go to radio station and start a program where people telephone in and express their opinion without any censorship. Perhaps it already exists?

Anonymous said...

IDEAS:

Well, people have to start caring again in order to rebuild.

1. Set up an anonymous phone line or web site whereby ordinary Iraqis can report suspicious activity or suspicious people so that fearful townspeople can get help without being betrayed or targeted. These reports can be translated and sent to coalition/Iraqi intelligence.

2. Begin small projects for developing community confidence, caring, and unity. For example, a local school class or youth group can be placed in charge of cleaning up a section of street or garbage lot; they can post signs there asking people not to litter, and the signs can say something like: "Thank you for not littering. This section of street cared is cared for by volunteers from Classroom A of Such and Such High School (or local Mosque or youth group)." The class can also have it's own colorful logo or graphic that can proudly be displayed on the sign.

3. Habitat for humanity. Volunteers can get together on Saturdays to do some sort of construction work. Examples can be to help construct a park or a playground, a portion of a school, repairing damage from bullet holes, et cetera. Maybe the group could get part of its funding from the Americans nearby.

From reading blogs [http://rosebaghdad.blogspot.com] I get the impression that, after so many years of fear and dictatorship, the civic sense of community has been damaged, and people must build together as a confidence measure, to regain trust and confidence in each other as neighbors even if no words or opinions are exchanged.

If you build it together, people will come. (Good luck!)

Kenjiro

johnny said...

Thanks Kenjiro - good practical post.

Perhaps any Iraqi reading this post can print a few copies of it and hand them out to young members of the local community and give them a chance to prove to their elders what can be achieved. What a great way for Iraqi kids to start building their own future. A few pictures of them working on a project and sent to the International/Arab Press would touch a few hearts. Let the Terrorists see children repairing the damage they are causing. They could send videos of it to Al Jezeera where 93% of their phone in viewer's thought 'beheading foreigners' was OK.

Kathleen A said...

I really enjoyed your post - offering an olive branch for openings of ideas between each other. THIS will be the only way understanding can be found between cultures, by talking about ideas and finding solutions together. Many of the comments before mine were great and I hope you can gather them together and find some good ideas.

I would suggest something really simple through TV, radio or in the form of flyers that you can post called "My Iraq" - where you remind people to take pride in their country and get involved by doing their small part to throw garbage out, keep their street clean, help the elderly, report crime (we have Neighborhood CrimeWatch for people to report suspicious activities). Organize small groups of people to plant flowers or sweep the streets once a week.

"Take back the streets, one block at a time." I speak to many Iraqi bloggers through instant message and email and I understand the fear (although I've never lived with it myself). They are followed to and from work by criminals working for terrorists. Their families are threatened and in the case of some of them - their friends have been kidnapped or shot for working 'with' the Americans or the coalition. I don't know what I would do in that situation.

There are things you can do - site unseen - anonymously. Suggest anonymous tiplines be set up for phone or internet to report suspicous activity to the IP or ING. Start a campaign like we have here in America called "America's Most Wanted" where criminals or crimes are highlighted so people throughout the country can help catch them (you remain anonymous so no one comes to get you).

I can't imagine the weird world Iraqis live in now - before everything was done for them, including their thinking - and now they must think for themselves and people are fearful. Armed gangs don't help that situation either. I think blogging is the voice we depend on here to understand Iraqis. A year ago I had never heard a story about Iraq from an Iraqi living it. I am SO THANKFUL for finding Iraqi blogs and it has opened an entirely new world to me, to my family and to my country.

We can't solve the non-killing problems or the killing ones either. But together, as friends, we can brainstorm solutions and give you support to get things done.

I am very thankful to have found Iraqi blogs in my life. I have made great friends with Iraqis - something I didn't even consider in my life 2 years ago. I have learned much about myself about my country and about Iraq through this process. It is a learning experience I didn't know I would have - and it has changed my life for the better.

You can complain. You can blame America. I can accept the mistakes we've made and apologize for them for they were not done out of hate. I have learned a lot about my country and why people hate America (but not American people). I can even agree with some of the criticisms of my country - but that's why I'm here. I want to do what little I can to show people what an American really is. We're not monsters. We're not evil (not most of us) and we're not trying to imperialize Iraq. We are offering our hand in friendship so the future will be brighter for your children and for ours.

Kat said...

Dear Dr. Ahmed,

You have written the most important posting yet. How can we work together to help the situation? What can you or your family or your friends do to help improve the situation?

Many have written excellent suggestions here and I believe that my post will be but a repeat of some of those suggestions. But, looking at your situation, it reminds me of a program that was started in New York City a little over a decade ago. This program was called "Broken Windows".

Some here have posted grand ideas about getting the word out, writing, voting, public forums. These are fantastic ideas, but I have the feeling that we (you and we writing) should try something on a much smaller scale first and some people here have actually identified some of those small scale projects.

Let me explain, first, what the "Broken Windows" program was in New York. This program worked on the theory that you cannot change things on a large scale. Changes must happen at the lowest possible point first. The other part of the theory basically works on human nature. If people see that an area is dirty, full of trash, broken windows and doors, abandoned cars, etc, they will assume that no one cares about that area and they can act as they want. No one will interfere. They can throw trash, break windows, commit crimes, etc.

The mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, worked with all of his commissioners to put this plan in place, but they started with one neighborhood. They did very basic things. Some things that people have posted here which I will repeat:

1) Organize a neighborhood cleanup committee.
2) Pick up all the trash, tow away abandoned or broken cars.
3) Fix the windows and broken doors
4) Paint houses, repair holes, whatever is necessary to make the homes appear better.
5) Fix the neighbors homes, too. Anything inside, like broken lights, poor electrical connections, water pumps or fawcets and toilets.

Start small. This does not have to be the entire neighborhood at first. Just a few houses on your side of the street or the houses on your block if you can do it that big. Your street must be the first street that is the "model" if you will.

You should start with the simplest things that do not cost any money in order to start the process immediately. Money, however, will be the next issue and we can work on that together. But let me continue with the point of the "broken windows" program.

The step that is most important is, once you have done the initial cleanup and fixing, you must organize people to insure that they don't repeat what caused it in the first place. Your committee would have to do a small PR program on your block.

1) Information about not throwing trash in the streets.
2) Collection of trash once a week to be taken to a dumping site.
3) Expectations for keeping the houses up.
4) How to request help in fixing the homes should something else break.
5) If it breaks, fix it again. If it breaks again, fix it again. Once everyone gets the idea that it is not acceptable to have broken windows, doors or houses or trash or abandoned vehicles in the area, they will start acting like it is not acceptable and participate. Also, pride in your local neighborhood can be an important first step for creating a cohesive group of people willing to work towards bigger plans. Like local representation to councils, or businesses and even security.
6) Your committee will have to be people that are, in short, committed to the process. It can't stop or it will return to as before.

The broken windows program is designed to force the "bad" elements from one street, one neighborhood at a time to the next, until they are pushed out entirely.

Once you have put your neighborhood at the front of the leadership roll, you may be able to continue this program to the next street and get supporters there.

But, it doesn't end there. The next step is about the "neighborhood watch". This isn't just about reporting terrorists or kidnappers. Neighborhood watches, which can start as just a few homes on one street, are designed to look out for the neighborhood. You probably already have something similar that is just not recognized or organized. Most likely, the women on the block who remain at home, know what goes on, who lives there, etc. They can be formalized. Each person needs to have a telephone. Each one needs to know their neighbors phone number. Each should feel able to call on the other and notify them of problems. The neighborhood as a whole will have to help enforce some things.

For instance:
1) If someone in the neighborhood does not keep their yard clean or throws trash in the street, the entire neighborhood must be able to present them with a petition or a group who will go over and speak to the person. Not yelling or threatening. Just continue to talk about the program of neighborhood cleanup and get them "in". Also, to be able to offer assistance if there is a problem why they cannot comply.
2) If someone sees some teenagers vandalizing something, the group should know who the teenagers are and they should be spoken to by the neighborhood council or speak to their parents.
3) Ask people to drive on the right side of the road. Ask them not to speed.

Basically, any infraction of general rules should be dealt with. If you allow one rule to be broken, then all other rules can be broken, too. They must be willing to call the police, too, on any problem, including strangers, vandalizing, etc. Of course, we are not talking about calling the police if the trash is not picked up. That is for the neighborhood to take care of. (smile)

Again, this is just your small area and it is not about politics or religion or family. It is about your neighborhood and how you envision it to be (somebody else said first you must have a goal and then you develop a plan on how to achieve it; that is obviously good common sense).

Even all that I have listed is a little on the grand scale, but achievable. The best thing to do is make a very small list of things that can be done, pick one and do it first. don't try to do it all at once or you will get nothing done or be discouraged which is the current problem.

For instance (and excuse me if I assume anything about your neighborhood or street): Picking up trash.

This is very simple and cost little money. Mostly, it will require time and energy. But, maybe you need a big dumpster to put all of the trash in and this costs money? The money issue can be resolved through three ways (even all together):

1) Take up a collection (whatever people can afford) into a community pot. (If people put in money, they are more likely to participate and stay with the plan. It's their money after all)
2) We here can offer monetary assistance. We can donate a few dollars per person that can quickly add up. And don't look at this as charity. Look at it as your friendly neighborhood people that want to help, but can't physically participate because of distance.
3) Reconstruction funds from your local American commander. They have discretionary funds that are meant for just such projects. They often go around looking for projects to spend the money on. If you are concerned about contacting them, we can assist. Possible the money could be given to the local council and then distributed to you to avoid any concerns about "collaboration". You could even speak to your local council (if you know they already have some contact).

If it is not trash or refuse that is a problem, maybe the houses need renovation? Or even the street itself? or maybe just simple beautification, like painting or planting flowers or date trees, etc.

Small things that can make an impact with people and make them believe in the future. It also gives you a sense of community and a way to share and build trust. Once this is in place, other things can happen, like spreading to other streets. Or working together to get the electricity or water or sewage updated. Or even working together to get the city council to do some work in your area or represent your political desires. Also, it is well known that business like to come to neighborhoods that are nice and secure. This can employ people in the neighborhood on a small scale and help the local economy. Once the area is clean and secure, it is a simple thing to find a business and lobby for it to move to your neighborhood. Even if it is just a clothing shop, a barber, etc. It is money in the economy.

And we here can help you even more. Some people have the ability for organizing or writing or pictures. We could help come up with slogans and other materials to jump start whatever program you wish to start.

We could also start a very simple "friendship" exchange. Najma often posts pictures. We could do that as an exchange between us. You could post pictures of people in your neighborhood. First names. What they do. Even a little blurb about what they want in the future or anything they want to talk about.

We can do the same, by sending you emails with pictures and information.

Exchanging information is a good way to help people understand that we are the same and together in this no matter how far apart we are. We could set rules about what sort of information is posted. We can even say on what day it will be and maybe we could have a direct exchange of ideas. You could get a group of people together to see their photos and information posted and to see ours. We could know the day (pre-arranged here) and come to look.

That may be even the simplest way to start.

I apologize for the length of this comment, but I am hoping we have talked about practical ways to make a difference.

You have spoken truly here that we sincerely want for you to live well and be free. We can do this together. We may even be able to start an "adopt an Iraqi Nieghborhood" program. There are many things.

I hope this post has given you some ideas. Feel free to email me for further discussions.

Regards,
Kathleen

Kat said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Frankly, if you want to help Iraq, then be Pro-Iraq.

This means you subordinate your feelings about the coalition occupation, about your particular group or sect, about your particular religion to the greater goal of your country.

Proclaim a vision of Iraq free, democratic, independent and prosperous. Someone has to articulate a vision of the future. Someone has to proclaim the goal. someone has to set the direction. Only a few can lead, many only follow. Can you lead? If not you, who?

America took almost a decade to sort out its form of government after its Revolutionary War victory in 1783....we struggled with the Articles of Confederation, before we eventually adopted the Constitution in 1789. Germany and Japan took similar periods after WWII to adjust.

Self goverment is not easy. It takes people willing to assume the burden of responsibility. It takes people with a common vision (yet, they can disagree about the best way--but they have to have a compromising spirit) and an energy to drive to that vision against all obstacles. Are the Iraqi people willing to put their country first? Are the Iraqi people willing to take on personal responsibility?

The Afaghanis did.

Scott from Oregon said...

One of the things that we can do, is exchange e-mails. Create a bond of understanding between individuals, which will transcend national distrust. My e-mail is included. Any Iraqi wanting to have a direct link to an average American guy, send me your queries.... I've got a little extra time, these days, and I have some stories to share...

kazooboo@cmextreme.com

Anonymous said...

I think you should create an "Iraqi Election Blog" and begin reporting on elections RIGHT NOW. Ask what is being done TODAY to prepare for elections. There are forums underway, though maybe not publicized, that are discussing what democracy will look like in Iraq. Get the dialogue going about democracy. Get people debating how democracy should be introduced. Thus, you begin the democratic process immediately. Why wait for elections? The formation of a democracy is one of the biggest event that happens to a nation.

Newshues said...

Ask the question "What is best for Iraq?" of everyone, all the time, again and again and again. Iraqi's need to feel like they have a voice before they can express that voice. The only way you have a voice is to think about things fully. As other's pointed out, being pro-Iraq is not pro-coalition.
An Iraq run by all Iraqi's is best for Iraq. Is that possible if the terroist/fundamentalist elements gain control and force the withdrawal of coalition forces?
Is expecting the coalition forces to do everything what's best for Iraq? Or is it better that Iraqi's do for themselves as much as possible?
Questions spread like a thought virus, when questions are a subset of the more general question "What is best for Iraq?" it changes the way people think. Keep asking the question, "What is best for Iraq?" for every problem.

Chris H. said...

What should Iraqis do? I wish I could help right off the top of my head with that but I don't have a detailed enough knowledge of the situation.
However, while I'm thinking about it, we in the US as well as most people in the West have not the least idea of what it is like to be a citizen of a country where the government terrorizes the people. We don't know what it is to live where people can be arrested in the middle of the night and never be seen again.
Thirty years ago when Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s "The Gulag Archipelago" arrived in the US, most people here were totally surprised to learn how little they knew of the brutal realities of the Soviet corrective labor system and of the secret police. Solzhenitsyn’s book transformed Western opinion.
At some point in the future, Iraqis who lived through Saddam's regime need to write down and compile their experiences for their children's children, for people in neighboring Middle East countries and for us who live in Western democracies. It is inevitable and easy for free people to wind up despising their own freedoms without such resources.

Chris H. said...

I pray for the people of Iraq too.

Anonymous said...

"Dear American friends, given the situation that we are in now, what do you think that we Iraqi and American people can do to help in improving the situation in Iraq and to start with the reconstruction."

Iraqis could start tomorrow by voting in some decent leadership whose love of Iraq is greater than their desire for personal power and wealth. Then, it a good next step would be for those statesmen to compose a decent constitution, respectful of individual rights and the rule of law. I would highly recommend a democracy, with effective mechanisms for balancing power. But the Iraqi people must decide. Think up a good plan, come up with some good ideas, and write a letter to your local paper. There are lots of things Iraqis can do. Simply put, build your country however you want to.

But, if you don't vote, you are by default casting your ballot for rule by terrorists. You are abdicating your right to have a say in how your new government will be formed. There is little that Americans can do from this point forward, but try to get your back and pray the Iraqi people choose the right way forward for yourselves.

Iraqis have a simple choice for the first time in their lives. This could quite possibly be the only chance you ever get to vote. I hope Iraqis choose to exercise their God given free will and elect some decent statesman from among them to craft their future government. Seems that would be much preferred to being, not just targed, but governed by people who slit throats and plant car bombs in front of schools and churches. YOUR CHOICE, Iraqis. I will be praying for you.

Regards,
Tom Penn

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CONGRATULATIONS!!!
Welcome to the world of free nations!!!
Although I am sure you understand the difficulties ahead,please rejoice in your newfound freedom!!!
May GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!!

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Anonymous said...

This is to All the Good Mouslim people who came to this country to enjoy the freedoms that we as Americans fought and given our lives so you can have your freedom.after All it's what you came to this Country for. Now it's time to Act like an American and do your duty to speak up and help your fellows Americans keep out the reasons You left your hometowns.Do you want America to turn into the reasons you left your home country. If so you are not an American and should go home.
And don't try the Religion excuse on me, if you are what you believe and claim your Religion is a peaceful and you live in the coummunities where these terrorist come from and you don't speak up and when ordered to tell,you say I don't know anything. And say you have a peaceful religion please recall peaceful doesn't correspond with terrorism.So if you truly don't know anything then you as a people need to prove to All Americans that you are willing to keep up with what is going on in your communities and help the police and anyone you can to save lives, of Americans and any other lives. So if you truly are American you would work with fellow Americans to Stop these terrrorist from entering any part of the world you may live.
And for those who do these terrorism shame on you,can't get what you want and hide behind Religion.Shame on you for messing with the young peoples mind have them mindwash to do your bidding your Alla can never touch my JESUS

emeraldwriter78 said...

I don't think that the American people, me being one, will elect a president that will do what is best for Iraq. Instead, I think any president will do what is best for America; However, I feel our president now is doing his best to destroy Iraq, which is very unforunate for both citizens. I just wish we did'nt have so many self-centered Americans in this country who only care about what happens on American soil. Don't get me wrong I am surrounded by people who care very much about what is going on, but I am also acutley aware that there are many that hold the view "better on thier soil." Keep up the good work. Hopefully sharing your stories will reach more people. Peace to you.....

Registered Nurse said...

Dear Ahmed,
My Brother recently returned after one year in Iraq. I assure all of you the soul intention was to replace Saddam who was a threat to ALL countries in the Middle East and to give the Iraqis a chance that will not come again, to grasp freedom. He says he is absolutely shocked at the way the American Media is portraying the war. He says the majority of Iraq is at peace.
The Islamic Facist movements are supported by the Mujahadeen and Al Quaeda. And the members are from all over the world, including the United States. They are portrayed to the Islamic Communitees as human rights organizations but are truly a form of socialism and specificly Facist. They are anti semitic and anti western. They believe in Dictators.
One of the things my brother says will help Iraq is infrastructure. There are no addresses or post offices. The Iraqis who want to succeed in freedom are being threatened by the terrorist organizations.
My brother 47 years old at the time brought his men home alive. One example of many that he went through was "a bomb went of and many Iraqi children were killed. I had to secure the bomb, and when I got to it alot of grenades started going off around me. I thought I was going to die."
He didn't even get a scratch.
Iraqis and the entire culture do not protect their children. They allow 2 year old little girls to beg on the street. They blow up children. They target them. They allow the little children to carry and deliver weapons. I mean little children. A Social Services for the protection of children needs to be develop. Children don't have toys. We need to send educational toys to them. And they need health care. Glasses. Dental Hygein. Right now our Army is providing some of that. But it's not enough.
Women die like flies there. They are not allowed to be examined by a physician. But our Army is training women to examine other women. A health care system needs to be started.
Development is needed there desperately. I hope the Iraqi people and the Afghanis are ready for change. Because it is coming. Freedom that is not free, with great cost it has been bought by the blood and sweat of our men and women in the armed services. I pray they don't throw it away. It will not come again.
FLifeforce@aol.com

Lucy said...

Many children may in reality be begging on the streets because they are going through things we cannot even begin to imagine.


"Asmaa Rasheed, a Sunni Arab, is a program manager for the Kurdistan Save the Children Fund (KSC), an NGO that has been operating in northern Iraq since 1991.

The organization opened a Baghdad branch a year ago, just after the fall of Saddam Hussein. It opened a shelter for street children in the Iraqi capital in November

Rasheed, a young woman with a shy smile, says her work with KSC is the hardest job she has ever had, but also the most meaningful.

Many of the children she meets have lost their parents during the U.S.-led invasion of the country, or in the near-constant violence that has followed.

But many others were turned out on the street from state-run orphanages that ceased to function after the collapse of the Iraqi regime.

Rasheed says street children have only two alternatives. If they are lucky, they will find someone to care for them. More often, though, they are forced to turn to crime in order to survive."

http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2004/06/f0d81bca-e15d-4d87-80de-f2610a393da0.html


Some of those begging are not only homeless and orphaned but are also disabled:

"Even after the Anglo-American troops leave Iraq, Iraqi children will continue to suffer. Unexploded cluster bombs, originally dropped by US-British troops on populated areas, continue killing and maiming children, farm animals, and wildlife-any living thing that touches them by accident. The bomblets are deliberately made to look like playing things - yellow bright and look like beer cans – to attract children. Thousands of children have been killed by dormant bomblets in Afghanistan, and Iraq."

Dr. Osama Saleh Al-Dulaimi [2004] at the al-Kindi hospital confirms the absolute majority of patients are women and children, victims of...shrapnel and most of all, fragments of cluster bombs. ‘They are all civilians’, he said. ‘The International Committee of the Red Cross is in a state of almost desperation...casualties arriving at hospitals at a rate of as many as 100 per hour and at least 100 per day’". In Hilla south of Baghdad, Reuters reported scenes of children with no limbs and babies cut in half. The majority of the 348 who were killed or wounded by the bombs were women and children.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=HAS20050809&articleId=822


On hospitals - WE need to rebuild rather than destroy them and WE need to help rather than fire at ambulances and hospital workers.

"Doctors from Fallujah General Hospital, as well as others who worked in clinics throughout the city during the US siege of Fallujah reported that US Marines obstructed their services and that US snipers intentionally targeted their clinics and ambulances.

“The Marines have said they didn't close the hospital, but essentially they did,” said Dr. Abdulla, an orthopedic surgeon at the General Hospital who spoke on condition of using a different name. “They closed the bridge which connects us to the city [and] closed our road…the area in front of our hospital was full of their soldiers and vehicles.”[33]

He added that this prevented countless patients who desperately needed medical care from receiving medical care. “Who knows how many of them died that we could have saved,” said Dr. Abdulla. He also blamed the military for shooting at civilian ambulances, as well as shooting near the clinic at which he worked. “Some days we couldn't leave, or even go near the door because of the snipers,” he said. “They were shooting at the front door of the clinic.”[34]


http://dahrjamailiraq.com/reports/HealthcareUnderOccupationDahrJamail.htm#summary


People starving, children orphaned, homeless and often disabled. People wounded and hospitals being targetted. These are some of the things that need addressing urgently, but by us all - not by a population who are already devastated and do not have the means to do so.

We have caused much of the devastation and are responsible for much of the death, disability and homelessness of children, and we are the ones who need to be looking at how we can help.

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