Monday, 14 December 2009


The Iraqi council of representatives met last Tuesday after the 5 bombings in Baghdad which claimed the Lives of over 120 people and left over 500 wounded, to discus what went wrong and how such thing could happen.

Most of the parliamentarians were very critical of the security forces. Most of them demanded to summon the security ministers and the prime minister, since he is the commander in chief of the armed forces, to the parliament and hold them accountable. The parliamentarians were so fired up and passionate about that issue especially the general election is only 3 months away. So they all agreed to bring the Minister of interior, Defense and Prime Minister Al-Maliki on Thursday Dec 10th.

On Thursday PM Maliki came to the Parliament, where he was welcomed by the deputy speaker (Khalid Al-Attiya) at the entrance to the parliament and then they headed to the office of the deputy speaker were they stayed for half an hour. Then Maliki headed to the parliament.

The parliament voted at the beginning on making the session closed and secret. Maliki said that it would be OK if the session is Open but he would be freer to talk about security issues in details when it is closed.

The first news that came out of that closed session was that the Prime minister agreed with the presidency that Thursday session would be for him by himself and the Parliament could meet with the security ministers later. Maliki made a preemptive step before coming to the parliament on Wednesday by replacing the commander of Baghdad security plan (staff General Aboud Qanbar) with the deputy chief of Staff.

Maliki started talking about the achievements in the fields of security in Baghdad that his government has made. Something that he has been talking about a lot lately. He said that there are 2 stages in security" lost security" and "infiltrated security". .

The lost security was when entire neighborhoods in Baghdad were under the control of the armed factions and not the state. While now, his Government, and thanks to Baghdad security command, which reports to him directly, the control has been regained over those neighborhoods.

The infiltrated security is what happened on the bombings in August, October and Finally on December 8th. Maliki said that every one is responsible. The Government, the council of representatives all the state offices and "even the citizens" are responsible according to Samira Al-Mossawi, a shiat Parliament member, who gave reporters a briefing on what was going inside the Parliament session..

" Mr. prime minister through the Ball at the Parliament field saying that you should issue legislations that facilitate the work of the security forces " said Eman Al-Asadi , a another shiat parliamentarian.

In another word, Maliki is crediting the successes that took place in the field of security to him and ho his national Unity government and not even crediting the US military surge, while the responsibility of the 100+ casualties bombings are the responsibility of every one.

" Mr prime Minister is the direct executive supervisor on all the security departments in Iraq , . he defended him self by saying that this is the work of the specialized ministries and his office only supervises the plans of these ministries and coordinate between them" Said Mohammed Salman a sonni parliamentarian

" he put the blame on the Iraqi Ministries and hold them directly responsible, while he did not bear the responsibility" Salman added.

Mr. Maliki just twisted the saying "Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan" and making it "victory is all mine, but defeat is everybody's responsibility" .

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Some field notes

Last Night on December 7th 2009 a big explosion took place near school , when the staff of the school decided to burn some trash which piled next to the school, not knowing that IEDs and Ammunitions were hidden underneath that pile of Garbage. Many of the students at that school were injured and at least 6 students were killed. Till a late hour at night, Baghdad Security operation Command, brigadier general Qassim Atta, insisted that no one was killed (which is typical of him). Then late at night the state sponsored TV quoted Atta saying that only 1 child was killed. This morning I woke up early in the morning with an Idea to go to Sadr city east o Baghdad, where that explosion took place, and see how many funeral tents not supposed to be there according to Atta who is Nicknamed now as Qassim Al-Sahaf, after the Iraqi information minister who gave all those ridicules press conferences during the 2003 war.

Unfortunately this idea was interrupted by 5 massive bombings that shook Baghdad. After waiting for some time for things to quite down, and we at the Bureau know where those bombings were. Our team of 3 decided to head to the site of the first bombing in Dura south of Baghdad. We reached a stand still point 2 kilometers from the site of the bombings, when our cars was stranded in the middle of a sea of Cars.

We decided to step out of the cars and walk the 2 Kilometers to the site of the bombing. It has just started to drizzle by then. As we were walking down the road, there were many young men and women, in college students’ uniforms coming down the street. We realized that those were the students of the Technical College by which that bombed car exploded. They had to walk the same 2 kilometers in the rain since no cars were allowed into the area. Cars with Shattered win screens, twisted metal on the side of the Back drove by, coming from the direction of the College.

We reached the site pf the bombing to see a big yellow shuffle burying the 2 meters deep crater of the bombing at the center of the street and a scrambled mini Bus right behind it. Couple of meters to the north of it, lies some twisted metal which used to be a police Patrol SUV. The only indication to it that it was a police car, is a small piece of a green and yellow stripe twisted metal lying next to it, that hardly can be seen.

As we were standing there the police found a human sobered bear foot lying in the middle of the dirt on the side of the road. They were wondering how they could miss that while they collected human flesh from 2 blocks from the site. one of the National Police elements lifted the foot by holding 2 pieces of twisted metal sheets stripped from the cars by the blast and put it next to a 1987 Volkswagen Passat engine, which was lying by it self in the middle of the opposite direction of the street, more than 20 meters from the bombing site.

At least 9 people were killed in that bombing, including the 3 policemen, who were inside that patrol car. We hitched a ride back to our cars with a police car which was going around the sites of the bombings. They have just came from the site of another bombing in Mansour, which they described as “beyond disastrous”.

By the time we left the bureau the Death toll was 63 killed, by the time we got back, it has reached 112. Later the wire service reported that the casualties have gone beyond 120.

While the Iraqi Parliament united for the first time , which is really a rare thing to see, on condemning and calling for dismissing Baghdad security commanders, at the top of which is Atta’s boss, general Aboud Qanbar, Atta issued a statement saying that the weirs’ casualties reports are not true and another statement saying that Baghdad security command will sue an Iraqi TV station for “ defaming, insult and agitating violence” and a third statement saying that the number of people killed in the bombings were 77.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Unanswered Questions

Once again, hell opens its gates and windows on Baghdad and claims the Lives of over 100 Iraqi men, women and Children, and leaving hundreds wounded. From the dust, rubble and the water mixed with soot and blood, a big question mark emerges preceded by the words “ Why ” and More Importantly who is behind it.

In order to try to answer these questions, we should look to what preceded those bloody bombings and then, we try to get a suspect or even do the Impossible and understand what stands behind this Madness.

Earlier this Month there was a bank robbery, which took place in Baghdad. 8 guards were killed and the robbers turned up to be lead by the Iraqi Vice president’s security officials. And they even used official security cars in the robbery. The money ( minus300 Million Iraqi Dinnar which was split among the robbers) was retrieved but the guards, even though they were surrounded at the Newspaper office of that Vice president, but they were not handed out to the proper Authorities. The Prime minister said that they should be handed out to the proper Authorities. The Minister of Interior, who refused to do a cover Up for that robbery after knowing that the guards of that Vice president are involved, stood fast so that Justice is served. This incident has occupied the mind of the Iraqi public opinion through out the Past 20 days. An Iraqi Journalist working at the state owned Newspaper Al-Sabah, wrote an Article Under the title ( 800 000 Blankets) suggesting that the 8 billion Iraqi Dinnar, which were robed from the Bank , was enough to Buy 800 000 blankets, to be distributed by the party of that Vice president on voters in preparation to the coming parliamentary elections next January. Were these bombings that took place today, intended to occupy the Iraqi public opinion with a new thing other than the Bank Robbery? Or was it to get revenge from the Minister of Interior, since he will be the first to be blamed over what is going on?

Prime Minister Maliki has said that he might not join the Shiat alliance in the coming elections. He might form his own “national” alliance. He also went to the extent of describing the Sectarian Alliances as “part of History”. Were those bombings intended to bring down Maliki and his National project? Are they to prove that the Maliki Government is unable to provide security after the American withdrawal from the Iraqi cities?

Maliki Just paid Syria a Visit yesterday. Made some security agreements and among the things he asked the Syrian for were handing over some of the Wanted , former regime elements, who are blamed for the insurgency and violence in Iraq, to the Iraqi government. He also wanted Syria to encourage the tens of thousands of Iraqi refugees in Syria, to return to the now safer Iraq. Maliki also met with Iraqi community in Syria and some of those who were initially invited were not let into the reception hall (about 15 of them) to meet Maliki. Were those wanted elements behind the Bombings as a response to Maliki ? was that a message to the Shiat Ministry ( Finance) and the Kurdish Ministry ( Foreign affairs) from the Sonni Arab insurgency?

Finally, many Iraqi officials accused Saudi Arabia lately of standing behind the latest bombings in Iraq. They also said several times that neighboring and regional powers are trying their best to affect the results of the upcoming elections. Maliki also said on the 10th of this month that we should expect more Violence as we get closer to the elections. The Holy Month of Ramadan is only few days away and there will be strict security measures during that month. Did the Islamic fanatic made their strike before the security forces tighten its grip during the Holy Month? Did the crazy Jihadies, who came with Orders from Saudi Arabia (as Iraqi officials said), are blowing them selves in Iraq during the holiest month for more blessings?

If you got any idea or a Clue to answer those questions please write to me for I could not see through the dust, smoke and soot filling the Iraqi Air. So that I can give an answer to those people, whom I saw late this evening searching through the rubble for their loved ones.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Major Event in Baghdad

For those who did not watch the Late Show with David Letterman last night, I will tell you what happened. The Beatles’ Sir Paul McCartney showed up at the Ed Sullivan Theater for the first time, after decades from the Beatles performance in the late sixties on the same theater. Not only that, Sir Paul McCartney went on the marquee of the Ed Sullivan Theater and preformed to a crowd of hundreds, if not thousands, who spread on all directions on the Broadway street, to see the music icon perform couple of his songs. This is a great by all measures. So big that Bruce Willis came and read the Top 10 list, at the showoff ways he is spending this summer, at the top of which was” I agreed to do a lame top 10 list just to meet Paul McCartney “ . This is how big this event was.

By now, you might be wondering what that got to do with Baghdad, to which this blog is dedicated. Well, as I was enjoying the performance of Sir Paul McCartney on the Ed Sullivan Marquee, along with the hundreds of people on Broadway Street, I was shocked to actually see that there are cars passing in front of the Ed Sullivan Theater. The Taxi cabs were driving among the crowds, who were barricaded by police and behind steel barriers. For a resident of Baghdad to see this large crowd of people and cars are passing freely among them, it is our worst nightmare. For us, any of those cars is a potential bombed car.

In comparison to that great, Ed Sullivan Theater, event, there is a pilgrimage to the Shrine Of Imam Kadhum in Baghdad taking place right now. The preparations to this great Baghdad Event started 3 days ago. Tents were set up on the streets of Baghdad (even on the Major Highways) and I literally mean ON the streets not on the side of it. Major streets were shut down. Entire neighborhoods were sealed off, including my neighborhood, just because they are unfortunate enough to be on the route to the shrine. This siege, which will last for another couple of Days, is imposed on over one third of the city of Baghdad. Just to visit a shrine of a guy who died centuries ago. While we are celebrating a guy who died centuries ago, the entire world is celebrating the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 mission, which landed a Man on the Moon.

All what I want to say, is that Major events could take place without actually stopping life , traffic and confining people to their houses for days, especially when there are 12 Imams in Shaisim , and their Birth, Death , Arbain ( 40 days after the death) and even the wounds of some Imams are celebrated. I have to disagree with some clergymen, who would answer those who tell them that all of this is causing discomfort and inconvenience to people by saying “the people actually rubbing the dirt off the shoes off the pilgrims and putting it over their heads for Blessing” . No sir, life should not freeze and people should not be locked up, just because there is a pilgrimage taking place. Not even for Sir Paul McCartney.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

the Fragile situation

Living in the buffer zone or what you may call no man’s land between Baghdad’s Sunni -dominated Adhamiyah district and the Sadr City area dominated by the Mahdi Army, which is a Shia militia, I know how bad tensions between the two sides can get. I remember a couple of years ago when sectarian fighting – one might even call it civil war - was at its peak.

At the time, mortars and Russian-made Grad artillery missiles flew back and forth between the two areas in north Baghdad. Whenever there was a bombing in Sadr city, the Mahdi Army would retaliate, lobbing mortars into Adhamiyah. The tit-for-tat assaults eventually led to construction of massive concrete blast walls to separate the two districts and the two sides.

For many Baghdad residents, a string of recent bombings in the city’s neighborhoods has resurrected memories of those bad old days. And those attacks are putting people on edge – again.

The other night, following a major bombing in a busy Sadr City market that killed more than 60 people and injured 120 others, I went to dinner at an open-air café in Adhamiyah near the Grand Mosque of Abu Hanifa. It was a couple of hours before the midnight curfew. Unlike other nights, when procedures at the checkpoints leading to Adhamiyah tend to be relaxed by this late hour, Iraqi Army soldiers were asking almost every driver to step out of his car and open the trunk for checking.

Just ahead of me, some men in a white 1988 Chevrolet Celebrity started throwing beer cans out windows and pouring out glasses of Scotch, as they got closer to the checkpoint. They clearly feared they might get in trouble for drinking.

Later, as we sat at the café having our dinner, we noticed an Iraqi soldier with a nickel-coated AK47, standing nearby, nervous but vigilant. “Whose GMC is this?” he shouted, pointing to a large, shiny Suburban parked at the curb a couple meters from us. “We’ll be done in a minute,” a customer sitting at a table with some friends yelled back. “Come and have dinner with us.” The soldier was not amused. “You said the you will only pick up some sandwiches,” he barked. “Move it!”

Meanwhile, Iraqi military Humvees drove up and down Adhamiya’s main street. You could tell they were on high alert in the wake of the recent bombings, including one in the Karada district as well as the Sadr City incident. Also, the alert level has been raised ahead of the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraqi cities, which comes at the end of this month.

Later, as we were leaving Adhamiya, just about a half-hour ahead of curfew, authorities at the checkpoint were still requiring people to leave their cars for a quick check. All the activity was a reminder of how fragile the situation in Baghdad, and Iraq, remains - and how quickly things can go downhill.