Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Confusion Leads to Suspicion (I)

Several matters dealing with Iraq surfaced recently. They added more tension and confusion to the way the Iraqis, Arabs & Muslims view the US, UK & West in general. Many questions are raised. Ordinary people in Iraq, Arab & Muslim world are so confused about the real intentions of the West, represented by US, UK, Denmark…etc.

A video showed a group of British soldiers beating a bunch of teenagers in Basra. Another release deals again with the abuses at Abu-Ghraib prison. The British government is dealing with the matter firmly. Regarding the British official attitude, one may look for an excuse which makes it understandable, since immediate decision is made to pursue the wrongdoers.

On the other hand, the second release of Iraqi detainees’ pictures & videos in Abu-Ghraib, which may have more issues in the future, represents a flaw in the way the US administration dealt with this dossier. Mr. Rumsfeld said in a previous session to the Congress that there would be more of these pictures. He said that he had seen much more than those released in April 2004. The question is “Why the Pentagon did not publish the whole bunch of them at the same time?” On doing so it wouldn’t take the sequence of rubbing salt into the wound every now and then. Moreover, it seems that the martial court did not put much effort to root out the whole story, since many big heads would roll. One may wonder whether the US administration wants to attract more terrorists to Iraq. And if it is so, more American soldiers could be harmed.

It becomes more complicated day after another to defend the decision to invade Iraq. The only tangible thing is kicking Saddam out of power which I think the most important event to make the Iraqis show gratitude to the coalition forces. President Bush
“Removing Saddam Hussein has made America safer and the world a better place.”

Especially Iraq Sir, and thank you for removing him.

Lot of my friends, acquaintances and colleagues are frustrated. They consider me one of the last optimistic Iraqis. Frankly, I can not find more concrete evidence to convince others of my point of view. The political process moves slowly and people are not ready to hear any more about it. They want deeds not words.

Another matter is the Guantanamo bay. It’s not clear under which law or convention people are detained there. What I mean is that US should keep the reputation of the leading nation in the world intact. US have to keep in mind that it represents an exemplar and for that it should take righteous decisions. It is the leader in the world as President Bush said:

“So to make sure America remains the leader in the world, we're going to stay on the leading edge of research and development,…”

And I may add “and morality”. Mr. Bush phrased it like this:
“We say, people matter, every human life is precious.Then those human lives apply not just here at home, but on the continent of Africa, or in Muslim countries.”

To be continued…

Friday, February 10, 2006


It is the new year of Hegira. This year, which started on 31January, has the number 1427. Muslim Shias have certain rituals during the first ten days of the year. They commemorate the death of their third Imam, Hussein bin Ali bin Abi-Talib, who was killed in the year 61 Hegira (683 A.D.). By the way, bin & ibn have the same meaning in Arabic which is ‘son’. Hussein bin Ali is the grandson of Prophet Mohammed of Islam. He is the son of Fatima, daughter of Prophet Mohammed.

Ali is a cousin & son in law of Prophet Mohammed. He ruled as the forth caliph of the Prophet. His period was unstable because of a struggle between him and the governor of Syria, appointed by the second caliph (Omar). Mu’auyah bin Abi-Sufyan, governor of Syria, was a very ambitious man. He wanted so hard to be the caliph, so he used the tragedy of killing the third caliph, by the mob, as a pretext to declare disobedience to the forth caliph. After exchanging many letters, skirmishes & a battle, Ali was assassinated. Ali’s son Hassan was to be chosen as the fifth caliph. Mu’auyah would not let Hassan be the new caliph, so he caused lot of trouble again. After negotiation between the two rivals, Hassan consented to renounce the caliph position & to declare Mu’auyah as the caliph. Hassan, the 2nd Shias’ Imam, made an agreement with Mu’auyah that he would be the successor of Mu’auyah.

Later on, Hassan was poisoned according to the Shias’ story, and Mu’auyah declared his son, Ye’zeed, as his heir to the caliphate. When Ye’zeed became the caliph, Hussein, brother of Hassan, was pledged allegiance by the Iraqis through a series of letters sent to him in Mecca. Hussein was uninterested in the matter of caliphate, since he was a devout Muslim. But the continuous letters from Iraq, and Ye’zeed’s playfulness as a caliph, awakened the reformer in Hussein. So he traveled to Iraq to join his supporters in a town called (Kuffa, about 160Km south to Baghdad). At the same time Ye’zeed appointed a tough man as his representative in Iraq & as the ruler of Kuffa. Amazingly, this man managed to change the standpoint of the Kuffis to be against Imam Hussein.

The events reached the peak on the 10th day of the year 61 Hegira. On that day Imam Hussein, and more than seventy persons of his family & escorts, were killed after a quick unequal battle. The Umayyads, from which Mu’auyah & Ye’zeed descend, is the cousin family of Mohammed’s. Both families descend from a tribe called Quraish, but the Umayyads might be described as power seekers and had a pragmatic perspective. The Umayyads adopted repression as a way of ruling, since the killing of the grandson of Prophet Mohammed caused to them lot of uprisings.

‘Shiaa’ literally means partisans or devotees; it is the name used to refer to Ali & his descendants’ followers. The Shias believes that Ali should be the caliph after Prophet Mohammed, and his sons later. Such demand represented a continuous threat to every muslim ruler. As a result the Shias day after another has become a kind of unorganized political opposition. Each year they try to express themselves through the Ashura rituals. These rituals have no relation to the main Islam doctrine. Because of these rituals, the muslim radical extremists view the Shias as polytheist and deserve death. Repression has its deep roots in the Arab & Islamic culture, which continued till 2003 here in Iraq. The Shias since then are free to practice their rituals. Still, they are a preferable target to the suicide bombers sent to them by the muslim extremists.

The Shias’ rituals are some kind of repentance for not championing Imam Hussein on that historical day. Moreover, the rituals represent a way of spiritual purification from daily wrongdoings. On the other hand, some people view the days of Ashura as a recreation, since many activities take place. Free food is available everywhere; parade-like processions organized; poetry depicting the tragedy of Hussein is recited; characterization of the events of that historical day is presented in streets; processions of people lashing their backs with chains can be seen; others gather in groups listening to poems recited in certain rhythm hitting their chests by hands; clergymen give ceremonial speeches & recite the epic of the tragedy; and many other activities which I may not recall.