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 Gate crashing the British Illusion

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Dr.Hannani Maya
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الدولة : العراق
الجنس : ذكر
عدد المساهمات : 37598
مزاجي : أحب المنتدى
تاريخ التسجيل : 21/09/2009
الابراج : الجوزاء
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مُساهمةموضوع: Gate crashing the British Illusion    الخميس 13 يناير 2011, 12:07 am

Gate crashing the British Illusion






While many non-Iraqi’s have welcomed the return of Muqtada Al-Sadr back from his self imposed "exile" in Iran, for those who can see beyond his phrases of "peace" and "resistance", it’s a shame that I have to gatecrash the cheerleaders party, by being the bearer of real news.

I can understand that some in Britain do like to cheer on behalf of the four horseman of the apocalypse but it is clear, that its ok to cheer as long as the proverbial s**t doesn’t land on the door step back home in Britain, but it never will while Al- Sadr’s anti-US rhetoric is placed in higher prominence than his declaration of wanting to "eradicate" the "depravity" of Iraq’s LGBT community.

Equally as unimpressive to grace the British media, is the fact that Al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army, in areas such as Basra, have imposed a ban on such deviant behaviour like listening to music or worse still, having a non religious ringtone gracing the ears of a member of this Iranian trained clerics, cheap imitation of Hitler’s brown shirts.

Nothing is more offensive to Al-Sadr either, than the sight of men wearing shorts, where his issue of a Fatwa in 2005 banning such garments, resulted in the murder of a coach and two members of Iraq’s national tennis team, while a further Fatwa denounced football as "evil" and "sacrilegious", with sports in general described by Al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army, as being part of an "Israeli conspiracy".

While some may be impressed with phrases like "We are still resisters and we are still resisting the occupier", for many Iraqi’s, they have been left unimpressed with such slogans, opting instead to describe the occupations Vichy, by their "moustaches" and "long beards", or as Iraqi residents call them "the Taliban Amarah."

So while some may welcome the description which Al-Sadr provides, of the US and UK being the "common enemy", it needs to be remembered that he and his band of marionettes’, were only ever given their job of "forming a government", in the presence of an ongoing occupation.

Sorry to ruin the party.

by Hussein Al-alak, The Iraq Solidarity Campaign




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Iraq: When Destruction Sickens






Twenty years ago this January, the world waited for a war that was almost certain. On January 16, 1991 the US-led attack on Iraq began. A little more than two months later, it was over.

Millions of people around the world took to the streets to oppose the drive towards war. From Washington, DC to London; Berlin to Tokyo; Bangladesh to Gaza, massive protests were held in the months leading up to the January 16, 1991 attack. I myself attended one of the most emotionally powerful antiwar protests I had ever attended the day before the war began.

It was in Olympia, WA. Over 3000 people (in a county with a population of around 100,000) attended a rally and then marched to the Washington State Capitol. We then took over the building and remained there for several hours. Here is a brief description of the moment from an essay I wrote many years ago (it appears in my book Tripping Through the American Night-Ron):

"After the majority of the crowd had reached the parking lot in front of the Capitol, Peter Bohmer began to speak. He gave a rousing twenty minute talk tying together the fight for justice and against imperial war and then urged everyone to join him inside the Capitol where we would attempt to present a petition demanding the Washington State Legislature pass a resolution opposing a war against Iraq. People headed towards the doors.

As they went inside police asked them to leave their signs at the door. Once inside, the chant "No War!" began in earnest once again. While most of us remained in the rotunda, about 500 protesters went looking for a door into the chambers. Eventually they found one and streamed into the room. The Legislature had closed early that day because of the demonstration and the room was empty. Not for long, though. Soon, close to a thousand people were in the room, chanting, talking, and dancing. Some of the more organized members of the crowd began to strategize a plan for the longer term.

They called the group to some kind of order and expressed their desire to occupy the chambers until the legislators responded to the proposed resolution. Meanwhile the police were gathering their forces and talking to each other on walkie-talkies. The press was sending out their version of the events on the national wire and over the television airwaves via CNN. Within the hour, news of the action had spread and more media were streaming in as protesters began to settle in for a long stay. By dark most folks had left the chambers. Some headed home. Most, however, joined a vigil and prayer session that had begun an hour earlier in the Capitol rotunda."

The following day saw protests around the world after the attack. But the protests too fell on deaf ears. George Bush, the Congress and the Pentagon were going to end the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all, no matter what.

After that part of the war was over and US troops had come home to a display of empty nationalism that included parades and generals throwing out the first pitches at Major League Baseball games, the Iraqis rebuilt their country as best as they could and the US soldiers were left to deal with their demons on their own. Fewer than 500 US and other coalition troops died during the war. Over 50,000 Iraqis died.

In the years that followed, it is estimated that more than a million Iraqis died because of the sanctions that were placed on their nation by the United States (with United Nations Security Council complicity). US and British warplanes continued to fly sorties over Iraq that they called flyovers, occasionally attacking Iraqi towns and military positions. Untold US veterans became ill and/or died from war-related causes, including a new medical phenomenon that became known as Gulf War Syndrome.

It's not like the sanctions and US flyovers were a time of peace. Looking back, it's easy to see that these acts were just another part of Washington's twenty year war against Iraq--a war that continues to this day. As we all know, it is a war that was ramped up several notches in 2003 when George W. Bush followed in his father's steps and helped launch an even bloodier phase in the war. This phase has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, more than 4400 US troops and several hundred more fatalities of soldiers and workers from other nations. It has been a war whose destruction has been almost complete.

Some of its goals have been reached, some obfuscated and some forgotten. Some have been dropped. Israel is even more dominant in the Mideast than it was twenty years ago. The government of Saddam Hussein has been completely destroyed. The US price of oil is not cheap and Washington's control of it is not a sure thing. More importantly, the country of Iraq is in a shambles and continues to suffer from (among other things) car bombings, banditry, rampant corruption, and the continued lack of an infrastructure that was destroyed by US forces in the 1991 war, rebuilt by Iraqi technicians and destroyed again in the phase of the war that began in 2003.

The destruction, death and suffering wreaked upon the people and nation of Iraq by the United States stands as one of history's most infamous crimes. Yet, no one has had to answer for it. Instead, many of those most responsible for this crime are presented as decent, even moral humans. They are given awards and positions of honor. George Bush the Elder sits with Bill Clinton on boards that collect money for the victims of Haiti's earthquake, their hands dripping with the blood of innocent Iraqis.

Tony Blair is appointed as an envoy to the Middle East on behalf of the UN. The younger Bush and many in his administration profit from books including, in Bush’s case, one describing his complicity in the multitude of war crimes committed in Iraq in the name of the United States of America. Perhaps they should sign their books in the blood of those they have killed. Generals and politicians profit from the crime known under a multitude of names including: Desert Storm, Shock and Awe, Operation iraqi Freedom and now Operation New Dawn. Eventually, even Barack Obama may find himself echoing Lady Macbeth as he searches for a means to wipe the blood from his hands. Or, will he be as guiltless as those who went before him seem to be?

Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is published by Mainstay Press. His most recent book, titled Tripping Through the American Night is published as an ebook. Fomite (Burlington, VT.) is publishing his new novel, titled The Co-Conspirator's Tale in Spring 2011 He can be reached at: rjacobs3625@charter.net


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Kurdish club scene booming






Dozens of men gathered in the smoky little club to watch five scantily clad dancers sway their hips to the beat of a drum and the grooves of an electric piano. Once a common sight in Iraq's capital, Baghdad, the scene can now only be found in the more liberal Kurdish north. Dozens of dance halls and clubs have opened across the Kurdish region during the past months, capitalizing on a crackdown against alcohol in Baghdad, where officials in November began closing clubs serving booze and banned alcohol sales at stores.

That prompted the capital's nightlife - its musicians, dancers and impresarios, and the patrons who flock to them - to migrate north. "Baghdad has become a dead city where there is no more amusement, no drinks and no music. They have dressed the capital in religious clothes," said Hameed Saleh, a Baghdad Academy of Music graduate who plays the drums and oud, the Arabic forerunner to the lute, at Kurdonia Club. "Now I play music in Sulaimaniyah and my life is secure.

Baghdad in the 1970s and 1980s was renowned for being the capital of Middle East nightlife with the most raucous nightclubs and an endless flow of whiskey. UN sanctions and Saddam Hussein's newfound piety dimmed its star a bit in the 1990s, but it was the US-led invasion in 2003, the violence that ensued and the rise of conservative Islamic militias that all but snuffed it out.

Nightlife in Baghdad tried to rise from the dead after violence declined in 2008, but the final blow came when religious conservatives began enforcing a Saddam-era ban on alcohol in clubs and added a ban in stores. Now artists and entertainers have joined the refugees who over the past seven years streamed from other parts of Iraq into the three provinces that make up the Kurdish Autonomous Region in the north, seeking a safe haven from violence.

At the Love Club in Sulaimaniyah, Muhanad Hamad, a 26-year-old trader from the city of Tikrit, 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Baghdad, was showering one of the singers with wads of cash. "This is the only place in Iraq where I can enjoy my personal freedom and seek joy far from security worries. Nobody can question me about what I am doing," he said.

Many of the clients in these places hail from Baghdad and other provinces to the south, said club owner Haithem al-Jabouri, himself from Baghdad. He picked Sulaimaniyah to open his club in November because it's so much more secure than the rest of Iraq. It was security that also drew Raghad Abdul-Wahab to the city. The 26-year-old used to dance at clubs in one of Baghdad's wealthier neighborhoods but religious leaders near her home tried to convince her family it was immoral. She always felt unsafe when she would leave the club in the evening, and then when Baghdad officials turned off the alcohol, she decided to move north.

I am free here, and I can dance as I like. I just do my job and I get some money," she said. The Kurdish government's tourism department has given licenses to at least 10 clubs and bars in the province over the last month, said Mustafa Hama Raheem, director of the licenses office in the tourism department. Many more clubs have opened in people's homes or private buildings without licenses, he said.

He said the clubs and dance halls are a boost for the local economy. "We have to attract tourists to stay for a longer time here and our young men who used to travel to other countries seeking their personal freedoms," he said. The clientele is a mixture of Kurds and people who come from the rest of Iraq for entertainment, he said. The women are mostly from Baghdad, Basra and some southern provinces.

Many of them went to places such as Syria and the United Arab Emirates in 2006 and 2007 but returned to work when things became safer in Iraq. The nightlife boom has not been to everyone's liking. An imam at a mosque in Sulaimaniyah, Hamza Shashoi, said the government should be more concerned with addressing issues like unemployment among young people than opening clubs that promote vice.

Opening the nightclubs is very risky. ... We are a Muslim society," he said. But the difference between Baghdad and Sulaimaniyah is that those religious beliefs don't dictate society's rules for everyone, said a spokesman for the Kurdish Ministry of Religious Affairs, Meriwan Naqshabandi. "In the Kurdish region, the clerics or religious men have no role in the government of the region, they cannot exercise any pressure on the government's resolutions," he said.

Until nightclubs can once again freely operate in Baghdad, artists and dancers like 23-year-old Muna Maad will stay in Kurdistan. One recent night she was dancing among a group of young men, her eyes lined darkly with black eyeliner and wearing a short white skirt. Periodically the men would slip Iraqi dinars into her tight white shirt in a show of appreciation.

It's a long way from a moment six months ago in Baghdad, when a group of gunmen raided the dance hall where she was working. "When they found us dancing they insulted us ... and forced us to leave," she said, adding "I will not return to a place where no rules and laws exist."

The Kuwait Times
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Gate crashing the British Illusion
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