General David Petraeus on Leadership

Just a quote, nothing more:

“It’s the hard work of drinking tea with the locals, delivering air conditioners to the mosques, meeting with the neighbourhood clerics, getting to know the imams, and all the rest of that,” he says.

“You gotta build institutions, not just units”

General David Petraeus

Troop Deployment Protest Debate

This is my reply to an email inviting me to “protest” here in Perth, Western Australia against the 20,000 additional troops to be deployed to Baghdad by the US military. Of course I am an anti-occupation activist and was most definitely a member of Perth’s anti-war activist community opposing this war – but protesting this deployment is not something I can see any purpose in. Here is my reply to the email:

I would like to start a constructive conversation with the members of Just Peace as to the reasons they are opposing this troop increase (in reality its not much of an increase- it’s merely taking troop levels back to what they were this time last year). Yes I am against the occupation and yes I am against anything which will worsen the situation in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq.

However over the last two years I have become deeply involved in many Iraqi communities both within and outside of Iraq- most importantly of all in the Iraqi blogosphere. This has given me the privilege of an insiders view of everything from Iraqi culture & language- through to an anti-occupation US soldiers perspective (who was and is no longer posted in Baghdad; he has since left the army).

In all honesty this is NOT the time to protest. This is the time to join the discussion and use words and wisdom to determine where to go next with Iraq once this operation is over (either it fails or succeeds- either which way this is the very last move the US government can make as an occupier of Iraq. All future increase in deployment will be blocked by congress (this one can’t since the money is left-overs from 2006 budgeting).

More over any future increase will be blocked by the Iraqi Government itself and the Iraqi militias and resistance if the US were to fail in this operation aimed at targeting these two opposing sectarian forces. The Shiite militia’s and the Sunni extremist’s being targeted by these operations are the ones which have caused most of the violence in Iraqi’s main cities since the Iraqi government was established.

There is a very interesting debate about this troop deployment occurring across the Iraqi blogosphere- and though many Iraqi’s were at first pessimistic about it’s chances of success in confronting the militia’s- and some still are; others believe this is the only chance left to prevent an Islamofascist government coming to power against the will of the majority of Iraqis.

I will not be attending this protest as I believe as good as its intentions may be it’s stance is ignorant. “TROOPS OUT NOW” was a great slogan before the fall of Saddam Hussein and even after, while the sectarian warfare was NOT killing hundreds per day and when the Iraqi civilian death toll had NOT been estimated at over 650,000- the vast majority of which are victims of the very same armed sectarian groups which are to be targeted by this final US action in Iraq.

If one can look past all prior judgements on what the USA was planning for Iraq and see the real situation they are in; where their prestige has been entirely lost, their power in the middle-east has fallen and their chances of “success” in Iraq entirely lost—— then we can easily see that this must be their final action. The Democrats WILL be voted in next election; they already control congress so there would be no point in another Republican attempt at defrauding the voting system.

The will of the American people has been totally realised- the timetable for Iraq has already been set. The democrats will not allow this occupation to continue unabated like the Republicans so wished- they want out as soon as possible- but their leaders definitely realise the necessity of leaving Iraq in a semi-stable condition with a government that can actually exist without the support of deadly Shia militia’s such as the Mehdi Army.

What needs to be done now is to wait it out and see wether this is PLAN (some would argue that this is their first actual PLAN for Baghdad since the “Shock and Awe” campaign) is successfull, and in the mean time find our own ways to actually HELP the people of Baghdad. If there is anyone truely interested in this I can bring many suggestions- I am the founder // editor in chief of “The Olivebranch Network”- the biggest active group-blog in the Iraqi Blogosphere with over 30 Iraqi contributors and two Iraqi sub-editors, as a result of the efforts put in to develop this network I have made some very good friends who are actively finding ways to help better the lives of their fellow Iraqi’s.

The Olivebranch Network can be found at but unfortunately has been having hosting problems for the last two days as the server is upgrading its software and in the process has damaged one of the database files required for the Olivebranch Network’s comments section to function correctly.

I will be posting this email on my blog and anyone who wishes to debate or discuss anything mentioned in this email is welcome to leave me a comment there- I will be checking for replies frequently over the next few weeks.

All in one years work

As I begin writing this post it is January 16, 2007. If I track back one year the Olivebranch Network was yet to exist even as an idea- but would within a matter of days.

I had recently won web hosting through a competition run by Sydney-based journalist/author/blogger Antony Loewenstein – who has since released a best-selling book entitled “My Israel Story” and is now working on a new book.

In the year since winning this prize I have, albeit with a lot of encouragement and support from many others, built a network in excess of 30 members- the vast majority of whom are Iraqi, most of whom were already bloggers, but some of whom were not. The first post on the Olivebranch Network was on January 25, 2006.

The Olivebranch Network has been cited on television in the United States of America as the “Most Insightful look in to the Iraq war anywhere” by NBC News Tech Reporter “Mike Wendland”. I personally have been interviewed here in Western Australia by a local broadcaster “Access 31” on their morning show “Wake Up Perth”.

The interview was a 7 minute breakdown on what the Olivebranch Network is, how it came to existence  what it contains and where it is headed in the future. Just last month the Olivebranch Network was featured in the Pakistani monthly magazine “Spider”.

On top of this we have recruited many of the Iraqi Blogosphere’s prominent and not-so prominent bloggers and I have personally befriended most of them; which for me was a major source of gratification and inspiration which helps me continue this project through to this very day and hopefully far into the future.

Importantly a sense of community has developed at the Olivebranch Network with chit-chat and comment exchange occurring regularly in the comments sections; especially amongst the girls. The first year has seen many events of significance and nearly 10,000 hits- which means our aim of educating people about Iraq is truly beginning to work.

Who ever said one man can’t make a difference?

More troops for Anbar and Baghdad

I heard on the news today that US President Bush is going to officially announce his plan to send an additional 20,000 US troops to Iraq. The news report said the troops were going to Baghdad with the mission of confronting the Shiite militia’s and Sunni insurgency to quell the violent sectarian war which has been plaguing Baghdad of late.

A later report on the news said the new Iraqi Government had also decided to increase troop levels in Baghdad to match the US surge- this article suggested a door-to-door search would be conducted by joint US-Iraqi forces. The aim is to root out militias and insurgents in hope of stabilizing Baghdad before a gradual US withdrawal. There have been rumours Democrats in the new congress would not provide funds for these troops- yet the most senior Democrats insist they will not cut off funding for US troops in Iraq.

Assuming this all goes ahead and the Iraqi army can equal the US troop deployment (unlikely, they will probably match at least half however). I would assume at least 25% of these forces will not be present in Baghdad and will likely go to Anbar as suggested. Continue reading More troops for Anbar and Baghdad

The Execution of Saddam Hussein

There are many reasons that Saddam Hussein’s execution will be remembered as one of the important political events of 2006, probably a close behind the Democratic takeover of Congress in the US.

There are so many points to discuss in considering whether this execution was a fitting end to Saddam’s tale, or whether there were better options. I for one believe the latter, and will be arguing so through-out this post. It may become a little long winded but I will try to stay on topic.

I for one believe an execution is definitely a fitting end to the rule of any tyrant- yet I also believe that a humans worth should be totally exhumed before the wasting of their life- and this is especially applicable to calculated, paranoid dictators like Saddam. Continue reading The Execution of Saddam Hussein