(The Son of The Two Rivers)
Thinking Loudly To Be Heard By The World
Sunday, February 27, 2005
The official weekend in Iraq is one day, which is Friday, just like many other Islamic countries. At some of these countries the weekend consists of two days (Thursday & Friday). Last week, the Iraqi cabinet decided to make it two days. The added day is Saturday.
Choosing Saturday astonished me, since it was expected to choose Thursday according to public opinion. Anyhow, I did not judge the matter till I got information which gives reason for it.
I'm not concerned, here, about the pronouncement itself; I'm annoyed by the impression I got from people. They are obsessed by conspiracy theory or something like this. The other day I came across a person whom I know. He is a doctor and I expect him to have a good logical standard. He did not vote in the election and when I met him he started to use bad language and condemn the decision. I asked him 'What is wrong about it?' His reply astonished me 'Don't they know that Saturday is the Jews holiday? The cabinet intentionally chose it'.
A year ago, there was a controversy about the Iraqi flag & should it be changed or not? There was a contest to design a new flag. A design by Rif'at Chader'chee was chosen. Mr. Chader'chee is a very famous Iraqi architect who designed many remarkable buildings in Iraq. He fled Iraq in 1982 after being imprisoned for 20 months for no reason. He is teaching since then at Harvard & other famous universities about philosophy of architecture.
A public idea appeared likening the new flag to the Israeli one. People flew into a rage because of it.
I wonder whether such perverted way of thinking exists in other communities since I've not met many non Iraqis.
I keep on telling my relatives & friends 'I'm afraid that one day we will reject honesty as an ethical value because the Israelis or the Jews say it is a good one'.
Another example is people who doubt democracy and refuse it, because it comes from America. Most of people in the region do not set aside their feelings & prejudices, and use logic to verify an idea. Somebody may say it is human nature.
Once again, I believe that we, the Iraqis, need educational rehabilitation. I'll be pleased to read your comments.
On the 8th of March 1963 the baathists seized power in Syria through a military coup. The baathists in both countries, Iraq & Syria, signed in haste an agreement to unite the two countries with Egypt under the leadership of Nasser president of Egypt.
Nasser reluctantly accepted the agreement, since he had suffered a previous failure with the baathists in the year 1961. In that year a union between Egypt & Syria broke down after three years of its declaration. The breakdown was caused by the baathists. So Nasser was not ready to go with the second attempt hastily.
Arif, the Iraqi president, did not have a decisive policy & could not resist the baathists' desire, since it was them who brought him to power. And even after kicking the baathists out of power on 18 November, he found himself unable to draw different policy. So he worked hard to bring stability to the country but he barely managed.
The period between 18th of November 1963 & 17th of July 1968 was a blurred one. Because of his commitment to the agreement with Egypt, Arif policy was dominated by the Egyptians. He was obliged, under Nasser's demands, to nationalize most of the Iraqi economy sectors & the economy was crippled.
In the year 1966 Arif was killed in a helicopter accident which claimed later to be schemed by the baathists.
One of the remarkable figures at that period was Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Baz'zaz. Till before the coup of 1958, he was the dean of the college of law. When Arif died he was the prime minister and was nominated to be the president. A bunch of military officers opposed the nomination and threatened to use force against supporters of the nomination.
The head of this bunch of officers was Sa'eid Sulaibee, the commander of the military force responsible of defending Baghdad. Most of these officers descend from the north west lands with Bedouin tribal background.
Dr. Baz'zaz, as a civilized person, decided to withdraw and Iraq lost a great opportunity to regain civil life.
Sulaibee inaugurated the late president brother as a president. The new president was a man of no much interest in power. So he became a toy in the hands of several groups. The period of the Arifs witnessed many military coup attempts. Finally the baathists managed to regain power on the 17th July 1968 through a military coup.
On the 5th June 1967 the Six Days War broke out in the region between Israel & Arabs. The Arabs were heavily defeated, which caused great frustration in the Arab world. The baathists used the defeat as a pretext for a military coup on the 17th July 1968. Their plan to seize power succeeded through coordinated effort with the head of the intelligence service & the commanders of the republican guards (responsible of guarding the presidential palace).
Till that day, Saddam worked hard on making contacts to gather as much as possible number of gangstas, and organizing them under his command. He managed to create a group of them, which was called (Hunain group), to represent the armed wing of the Baath party. The gangstas who refused to join Hunain group were killed in mysterious circumstances. One of those gangsta groups, which refused to obey Saddam, was (We'ild As'safra) which means (sons of the yellow woman). They had been killed publicly in a café at Ad'damyah district in Baghdad.
Today is the first day of the new Islamic year. It is the year 1426 of Hegirah. Hegirah literally means 'emigration'. It is the calendar used by Muslims to mark their anniversaries. The year, according to this calendar, consists of 12 lunar months and, as a result, 354 days.
The Hegirah calendar is based on the emigration of Prophet Mohammed of Islam from Mecca to Medina (622 AD). The western references use the word (flight) to describe the journey made by Prophet Mohammed from Mecca to Medina, which I comprehend as an offensive one.
Regardless of considering him a prophet or not, he is a man who managed to set out a new way of life in one of the most Bedouin communities. I can imagine what kind of social troubles he faced to declare his ideas, when I deal with people of nowadays Bedouin background.
Anyhow, I view him as one of great persons in mankind history, since he succeeded to plant new ideas, managed to change his society, and walked the first step in the way of establishing one of the great empires in history.
I think that one should evaluate great figures according to earthly standards first, and it's up to him/her to add spiritual, moral or any other qualities to these figures. More important is not to compel others to agree to your point of view.
Wishing you all HAPPY NEW HEGIRAH YEAR.
Till the military coup of 1958, Britain had great domination over Iraq policy. After the coup, Iraq was going through a critical period in its history. The communists became very active in Iraq. And because of the cold war, which was at its peak, it seems that great competition was taking place, to have power over Iraq, between East & West. Finally, West won the competition on the 8th of February 1963. A bunch of baathists & Arab nationalists managed to seize power through a military coup.
The general secretary of the baath party at that time, Ali Salih As'sadee, said literally in a famous statement 'We came to power on an American train', as a figurative reference. The later events showed that Iraq, since that time till today, became part of the region dominated by the US policy.
After the 8th February coup, Saddam returned to Iraq and worked in the agricultural bureau of the baath party. Though it was a short period of baathists ruling ended on the 18th of November, but it revealed a lot of the baathists' brutality. During those ten months of seizing power Iraq went deeper into (no-law state) which had begun mainly on the 14th of July 1958.
Most of the baath leaders were rash young men (less than 30 years old). They were very obsessed by the Arab nationalism ideologies. On the other hand, technically speaking, they were totally ignorant about politics. Generally speaking, political traditions have not existed in Iraq. According to the Iraqi way of thinking, influenced by the Bedouin culture, a politician behaves as a sheikh (leader) of a tribe. Anyone who may oppose his point of view is an enemy deserves death.
After the last US presidential elections, it is amazing to see Mr. Kerry visits Syria and speaks on behalf of Mr. Bush. Debates, like the ones took place between them before the elections, may cause great enmity between Iraqi politicians. It is the legacy of (unfair competition) from Bedouin culture.
Back again to 1963, the baathists brutally chased their rivals especially the communists. Unlawful jailing, torturing & executing spread all over Iraq. The conflict reached the leaders of the baath party. In the final weeks, two leading leagues appeared and they clashed against each.
Finally, the president ordered the army to end the turmoil. President Abdul Salaam Arif was used by the baathists as a face for their coup of February. The man was a friend & the main partner with Abdul Kareem Kasim, the prime minister who had been killed brutally in the coup, in implementing the coup of 1958 and later his rival.
One of Saddam's kin, Ahmed Hassan Al-Bakir, became the prime minister after the coup of February. Saddam bet on the man. He started to use Al-Bakir, later, as a face while he took the dirty secret work on his shoulders.
"On behalf of the American people, I congratulate the people of Iraq on this great and historic achievement" are the very last words of the statement by President Bush on the Iraqi election.
Thank you Mr. President and thanks to the people of the US for supporting his policy in Iraq.
On this historic day I headed for the polling place with my brother at 8 AM. Till two days before the polling day, nothing was made public about the polling places. A school about 200 meters from our house was chosen as a polling place. On reaching the school, we discovered it was not the place for us to vote at. The officials told us a name of another school which we had not ever heard about in our neighborhood. Even the officials knew nothing about it. We were disappointed and returned back home. One hour later, my brother saw one of our neighbors who told him about the polling place. So we headed for it immediately.
Since the early morning one could hear machine gun & mortar sounds. Frankly, no one of my family paid attention to the sounds, we were worried about where to vote. The weather was nice. The number of people heading for the polling place was marvelous. The general atmosphere was wonderful. The city was calm, except the machine guns & mortar sounds, because of the curfew; it reminded me about the countryside.
On approaching the polling place, the Iraqi policemen stopped us about 30 meters away from them and asked us, by shouting, to open our jackets so they could see that we were clear. Again at the main gate we have been searched carefully. I admired the search procedure since it gave me the feeling of security.
Inside the building nice young men received us and led us to one of the rooms. There I presented my ID; two ballots were given to me; I went to the voting booth and chose FREELY the candidate I want to represent me. Then I went to the ballot box, but before putting the ballot in the box I had to put my right index finger in inerasable ink. My eyes were filled with tears as I put my ballots in the boxes. It is the very first time in my life I feel that I'm totally free to choose.
On our way back home people were congratulating each other on the occasion as if it was (EID). Children were accompanying their parents though many threats made by the insurgents which one of those had said (We will wash the streets with the voters blood).
Some of our neighbors decided to boycott the election, but because of the curfew we gathered and discussed the political process. It was a very civilized discussion which I admired highly. It is what I referred to, many times in previous posts, as (educational rehabilitation) which I think it has started here in Iraq.
Each one voted was proud to show his/her index finger. For me I wanted to scream in the streets (I'm free).
The Iraqi people proved that they adore freedom.
God bless Iraq.