Friday, June 23, 2006


Shalash al Iraqi

I haven’t posted for a while. Many of the Iraqi bloggers are also less vocal than usual. It is understandable that some of the rosy-picture painters may be short of material. But this cannot explain the silence of others. There is no shortage of material there!

I myself have been having such difficulty. It is anger and some element of desperation! I nowadays have more feelings of fury and bitterness than inclinations towards rational discourse.

One writer who has emerged during the past year called himself Shalash al Iraqi. He is a resident of Sadr City with a great deal of first-hand knowledge of that part of the city. The name he has chosen certainly has ‘redneck’ overtures. He has a unique, lovable writing style: sarcastic, critical and funny. He writes in classical Arabic but frequently interjects local terms and colloquial expressions. He covered numerous subjects of present-day Iraq, mainly concentrating on social and political aspects. He has no love lost for the previous regime, no time for the ‘new political process’, no tolerance of the farce now called Democracy and certainly no disposition for sectarianism. I followed his writings closely with great admiration. He never failed to make me chuckle while reading his essays. He was mentioned now and then by vigilant outsiders such as Cecile of Streamtime. Dr. Imad Khadduri sarted a blog to collect Shalash’s writings. Yet, he remains largely unknown outside Iraq.

Shalash too was quiet for several months. However, over the past three weeks he has written three essays. I will translate his last one to give a feel of a prevalent mood.

Shalash is no longer funny

Shalash’s new essay has a different flavor. There is nothing funny or sarcastic about it. It is entitled “A Desperate Letter!” the essay is written in long paragraphs! I have taken the liberty to segment it and tried my best to retain the original flavor but I cannot do that with the style.

A Desperate Letter

As I and others expected, the ‘security plan’ became a cover for murderers and night gangs that have allied themselves with infiltrators into security forces to kill people and dump them in garbage piles. Otherwise how would those in charge of the plan explain how those killings, assassinations, kidnappings and abductions take place with such a massive deployment of armed forces and the nightly curfew? How do those criminals move and do their deeds and how do they spread death in the streets in such cold blood?

Are they ghosts that move outside the vision of check points during curfew hours. Or are they part of the forces implementing the curfew?

I know that the government has no explanation or is ashamed to admit the politically embarrassing truth. People, Mr. Prime Minister, well know now that those death gangs are no longer 'secret death squads' as the media are fond of calling them. Those same gangs are publically proclaiming their acts and that those ‘death lists’ are being openly circulated between members of what you call militias.

The bitter truth brothers, and I say this for the thousandth time, is that certain gangs have infiltrated the Sadrist Movement with the knowledge of some of the Movement’s leaders.

They do all sorts of criminal acts and intimidate the Police that they have infiltrated. The disaster is that senior officers in the [Ministry of] Interior fear criminals who have criminal records in Iraqi courts prior to the Fall [of Baghdad].

The name of the “Sayyed’s Office” [Branch of Muqtada’s offices] now terrifies the police more than the previous regime’s security forces terrified the people. On top of that, the crimes that started as political and revenge-motivated ‘liquidations’ have turned into a culture. There is a new fearsome ‘addiction’ to killing and taking pleasure in blood! There are murders just for the sake of murder; killings for reasons that the very act of contemplating is a crime against humanity. Now, there are people who cannot go to bed before shattering people’s skulls with their pistols. What a sour life between the days of car bombs and nights of criminal gangs…

From this place, from the mountains of pain, terror, solitude and fear I address the Prime Minister…

Your Excellency, for a reason unknown to me, I though well of you. The solution is not through massive deployment of security forces, Police Commandos and forces of Occupation.

The simple solution is for you to go to Sayyed Muqtada and ask him to publicly disown those murderers and declare that they don’t belong to his movement and remove his cover of them and leave the people to deal with them. People already have lists of these gangsters and their connection to the Sayyed’s Office is common knowledge. Sooner or later the People will take their revenge from those killers. And when they do, Iraq will again sink in seas of blood in comparison to which the rivers of blood now flowing will seem like little ditches.

We have had enough.

The fearsome nights are stifling us and we now have come to hate the Fall [of Baghdad]; we hate Liberation; we hate Sunnis; we hate Shiites; we hate turbans and sidaras [Baghdadi head gear – a reference to Adnan al-Dulaimi a ‘Sunni’ politician]; we hate Jihad and Jihadists, resistance and resistors; we hate concrete; we hate streets and sidewalks; we hate the Ministries; we hate Establishments; we hate news channels and news and communiqués; we hate the Parliament that has now become a venue for swearing-in ceremonies and nothing else; we hate songs; we hate commercials; we hate newspapers; we hate cars and car-depots; we hate conferences; we hate ‘surprise visits’; we hate neighboring countries; we hate the ‘multinational forces; we hate the night; we hate the day; we hate Summer; we hate the sun that sends hell; we hate sleep; we hate water and electricity; we hate petrol and corruption and theft; we hate sectarianism; we hate sectarian ‘allocations’; we hate Reconciliation; we hate the government of national unity; we hate committees and Commissions of Integrity, Trash, Rehabilitation and Silliness; we hate [political] parties and organizations; we hate assemblies, demonstrations, banners and chants; we hate laughter; we hate crying; we hate work; we hate study; we hate each other. And we hate ourselves. But (and this is our problem) we still love something that was called Iraq.

Will you save what is left of this Iraq?

What have they done to this country? Is this what they mean when they say “Freedom is messy”?

And yet… I still have hope. It is people like Shalash al-Iraqi who, despite all their suffering, have not lost their humanity and have not lost their compass… that give me that hope.

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