Baghdad cleared or ‘al-Qaeda’? I call bullshit.

Al-Qaeda in Iraq has been cleared out of Baghdad by the US military. *BULLSHIT*.

Here’s what is really happening. The US invasion has piece-by-piece destroyed the very fabric of Iraqi society; beginning with it’s economy and family units during the invasion of 2003. Foreign interests have pushed tensions to boiling point and beyond, exacerbating the poverty and poor conditions in Iraq.

Eventually distrust and even hatred have become the unifying factor shared by many Iraqi’s. They distrust their extremists neighbours who support and supply the many dangerous terrorists and militia’s amongst both Iraqi Shia and Sunni. They HATE Al-Qaeda in Iraq. They HATE what Iraq has become since the US invasion. Though they may not all trust each other Iraqi’s are coming to realise they can’t trust anyone else to intervene in their internal conflicts, and as such are beginning to turn against the foreign elements who wish to control Iraq for their own purposes.

Here are a few of the catalysts behind this unification:

Firstly I will start by mentioning the biggest no-no. The decision by the US Senate that it would be a good idea to split Iraq along sectarian lines.

Secondly we have the Blackwater incident, which confirms the story we (who give a damn about Iraqi civilians) have KNOWN all along; that the foreign security contractors are trigger-happy and above the law.

Third is actually two-parts; part one is the constant pressure the US has placed on Iraq to pass oil-laws which would open oil-reserves to “private” investors. Part two is the recent deal made between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Texan Hunt oil company.

And need I mention the al-Askari shrine bombings, the seemingly unreported rise of the  Badr Brigade militia in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, extremist members of Al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army and their connections to Iran.

These are just some of the reasons why we can see an gradual easing sectarian tensions in Iraq and the fall of foreign extremist groups like Al-Qaeda in Iraq. It has little to do with the “surge” though some may disagree. Even a US soldier based in Fadhil district of Baghdad can confirm; the recent cleansing and actual reconstruction going on in that part of town was a localized event.

It was Baghdadis’ who rose to the challenge and expelled extremists from the area. It was Iraqi’s who have laid mains-capacity electrical cables in preparation for the arrival of new electrical generators promised by the US military. It was even Iraqi Sunni who expelled Sunni extremists from the formerly Shia parts of Fadhil and invited the displaced Shia families to return to their deserted houses with the promise of security.

Now lets hope the US delivers on their promise and that this process can be emulated across other parts of Baghdad.

Not to say that things are all well in Baghdad or across Iraq. There is still wide-scale aerial bombardment going on, suicide bombings and mafia-style kidnappings, extortions and general thuggish activity. The infighting still exists it’s just changed. There is shia-shia conflict between members of the Mehdi Army & Badr Brigade; and there too is conflict among the sunni. There are tribal conflicts too.

Nothing is going to change overnight, but it has been confirmed to me; Baghdad is improving at the moment- and I stress that point; “AT THE MOMENT”.

We are all the same (really)

While Muslim’s leaders demand apologies and the Muslim street breaks out in protest against the Pope’s use of an anti-Islamic quote from a 14th century Byzantine leader, many bloggers look at the reaction wondering why?.

Keefy from Adventures in Dubai posted the entire text of the pope’s speech and bet most of the protesters had not read it. Ramrumple wonders why it’s not OK to portray Hassan Nasrallah (Hizballah Leader) in a comical sketch, but it’s OK for al-Jazeera TV to do the same by portraying the pope as shooting down peace (in the form of doves)? Iraq Pundit gives an almost comical commentary of how the situation has unfolded, pointing out the irony in these violent reactions. He also wonders why there is no reaction from the Muslim street when hundreds of Muslims are killed each day in Iraq in the name of Islam.

Iraq The Model, one of the most popular blogs in the Middle East, tries to look at things from a different perspective, using an academic approach by quoting respected Arabic books on Islamic History. However a few days later Omar posts his anger about what he calls a “War on Peace” by Islamic extremists.

In the comments section of this post there was an interesting conversation about the role of militant islam’s role in global terrorism. Two interesting comments were posted by “bg” on the 25th of September the first was the introduction to an excellent “weekly roundup” of radical islamic activity around the globe written by by Charles Bird from Obsidian Wings. Thesecond comment sampled and linked this article, which discusses true role of Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network (literally, The Base network) in organising and perpetuating militancy among Islamic extremists around the globe.

There were over 150 comments from people all-over the globe on that particular post, and the same or more on most other recent posts at Iraq The Model; this blog is a very successful forum for discussion about Iraq and the Middle East in general. There was much other discussion in the Middle Eastern blogosphere aside from the Pope issue. As usual there are always some stories of hope such as the post “Iraqi Muslim Amongst Jewish People! Felt Welcomed!” from 24 Steps To Liberty, an Iraqi blogger who moved to America very recently.
Truth Teller, the Iraqi doctor who blogs at “A Citizen of Mosul” briefly tells the story of having to move his clinic somewhere safer due to poor the security situation. Discussion about the Middle East outside of the blogosphere tends to be limited to professional opinions, journalistic reporting or discussion about western policy and wars in the area.

Just search Google for “Online Discussion” + “Middle East” and see for yourself. However in the Middle Eastern blogosphere, especially for those who delve deep into the comments sections, there is a wealth of practical analysis and discussion about moving forwards. What’s most impressive is how some people like the Tel Aviv university lecturer Ze’ev Maoz can breach cultural boundaries and discuss the situation realistically.

I have recently been asked the question “is the blogosphere going to bring a solution to the problems in the Middle East?”. To this I must say no, it is not the solution itself, it will definitely be part of the solution. But to end this post here is something from Hala_S to remind us that we all come from the same place.