Friday, 28 November 2008


One night, few years ago I fancied a hand watch at a store in Baghdad. Few days later, I took a friend of mine who was, unlike me, good in Bargaining and went to the store to get that watch. The guy at the store did not budge off his position regarding the price of that watch which was really cheap. My Friends efforts went in Vain, but it was I who actually managed to get that watch in a price less than the asked price. No, I did not “Make him an Offer that he can’t refuse” in Marlon Brando’s tactic at the Godfather. I simply talked to him in the manner that every Iraqi understands. I simply Said to the seller “ do you really expect me to go back home with the watch and tell the people at home that I actually bought the watch for the asked price!”. The Man immediately realized the sense in what I was saying (as an Iraqi) and sold me the watch for 14000 Iraqi Dinnar in stead of the 15000 the guy was asking for in the first place. Back then the difference was less than a Dollar.
You might ask what made me remember this incident. Well when I saw the Iraqi Government sending the back the Final draft of the security draft to Washington for last minute changes, this incident jumped to my mind immediately. The draft was fine for the Iraqi Government and they would have said yes to it at that Moment, but this would have made them look bad that they have actually said yes without a little bargaining.
This security pact, which was initially said that it would organize the presence of the troops in Iraq or as it is known by the name ( SOFA), suddenly changed to become the pact to organize the withdraw of the Foreign troops from Iraq. It set the date of the end of July 2009 for the American troops to pull out of the Iraqi cities, and the date of 31/12/2011 for them to pull out of Iraq.
Well this should come as great news to the people who were calling all along for a withdraw time table of the troops from Iraq, regardless what that time would be. Among those who were calling for this time table where Crazy Moqttada’s group ( the Sadrists), the association of the Muslim scholars and hard line sonnies. Iran and Syria were also were calling for such withdraw. That is why it came as a surprise that all the above mentioned people were against this practically withdraw pact. The Iraqis where split into 2 factions, those who are pro the Pact which would automatically make them Pro American and those who were anti the Pact which would also automatically make them Pro Iranian. Many Iraqi officials where just in the middle of this ordeal, if they said Yes to this pact then they will be stained that they are favoring America and if not then they are taking Iran’s side. That is quite understandable because this agreement would basically make Iraq a strategic Ally of the United States.
When the Government actually approved the final draft of the agreement, after the last minute touches, and sent it to the Iraqi Parliament to ratify it, the Fun started. The Sadrist raised hell during the initial reading of the pact at the parliament by shouting and then beating on the desk with File Boxes and finally physically attacking the other members of Parliament who were reading out the draft of the pact. The scene repeated it self at the voting on the agreement with minor changes, like the Black scarf that the Sadrist MPs wore as sign of mourning and the Banners which each of them , especially the female street venders they call Sadrists MPs, which read “ No, No to the Agreement”. On the other hand, the accordance front ( the sonni block at the parliament) refused to pass the pact without some extra bargaining so they came up with this lame “ political reform document” which they read, voted on and passed right before the security pact.
The security (or the withdraw) pact, since the official Name of it in Arabic is the withdraw pact, by 149 votes.
Now as an Iraqi I feel safer that the security pact has been signed since I woke up on Thursday morning on the sound of an explosion followed by gunshots, and no one reported because they were busy covering the parliament and the Bombay attacks, and was not able to sleep later at night because of the sound of American helicopters hovering over my neighborhood all night till the next morning.

Thursday, 6 November 2008


Since the start of the presidential election campaign I had some reservation on Barak Obama, especially on issues like Iraq. I was more of a Clinton supporter. But once Clinton was out of the picture , it became obvious whom I would rather see at the white house. Probably you would think that this is only because I’m an Iraq and electing a new president at the white house who would have a direct effect on my country and that is why I’m concerned. It is true to an extent. One morning as I was driving to work, had the radio on BBC Arabic. They had a talk show and they were receiving calls and comments from all over the Arab world reflecting on the American elections. One caller from Sudan, as I recall, said that it is gone be impossible for Obama to be elected. “ do you really believe that America is let a black man of a Muslim back ground be elected as its president” the guy said on the radio. “It is impossible” he added.

At that very particular moment I really wished that Obama would win just to prove to that Man in Sudan and the rest of the Arab world how wrong they could be, by making such prejudice remarks and judgments.

Through out the campaign, as the reports were talking about Obama’s double digits lead over the war veteran McCain, that caller from Sudan was always in the back of My mind. And when one day in the streets of Manhattan , during my visit to the US, I saw a black man who had to wait for 20 minutes to get a taxi and Taxi drivers refuses to stop for him just because he is black , and this is in 2008, that man from Sudan was in the back of my mind. Seeing that first hand shock my faith in all what America stands for. That is other what we, as Iraqis, have seen through out the past 8 Bush’s years on the white house.

On November 4th, what was considered impossible by many, did happen. A black man called Barak Hussein Obama became the 44th president of the United state of America. Every body agreed that it was a historical moment. It is not a historical moment Just because an African American man has been elected as a president of the United States. It is a historical moment because you Americans have given the whole world a valuable lesson in democracy and the power of the people’s will , when you all chanted “ yes we can” and proven that man from Sudan wrong . Your march to the polling centers did to democracy what no tanks, fleets or warplanes were able to do. It brought back faith in America as a super power and in democracy. So …Thank you America.