Thursday, May 26, 2005


بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم


The great thing about blogging and the Internet is that you do not have to worry about what you say; that it may create a problem here or there, or annoy some Tom, Dick or Harry as you say, or some Zayd or Amr as we say. Of course, this is a double-edged sword, a kind of fight to the death where all is permitted, and where there is no referee to intervene.

A friend has drawn my attention to a very interesting site, this, indeed a very sensitive appreciation of what is going on the ground here; particularly, quite an intelligent and perceptive understanding of the nature of the “insurgents”.

Regarding my last post and the peasant question, I am reminded of one of the great English writers: H.G. Wells and his famous “Time Machine”. You all should know that great pioneer “science fiction” work. Do you remember the Eloi & the Morlocks: a society where two distinct races have developed: the one, effeminate, gentle and beautiful, the Eloi; the other, subterranean, cannibalistic and ugly. The Morlocks hide in their underground tunnels only to emerge to prey on the gentle Eloi dragging whomever they can find into their subterranean holes.

I have analyzed the nature of Mesopotamian civilization long ago as being a struggle between the oasis and the surrounding desert; between city and countryside; nomadism and city culture; a struggle that has been going on for thousands of years. This is not only a social process, but also an actual physical phenomenon, where desertification ebbs and flows on the borderlines between cultivation and the surrounding desert, depending on the cycles of rise and decline of the many civilizations that have flourished in this most ancient of lands. This is not my own theory, however, but one that has been most eloquently expounded by one of our greatest modern sociologists, the late "Ali Al Wardi", a great man who has not received the attention he deserves internationally.

Iraq, like all other lands, I suppose, is made of cities and countryside. The countryside is mostly situated at the banks of the rivers the Tigris and the Euphrates (Dijlah and Furat as we call them in Arabic, quite similar words if you look carefully). The name Mesopotamia in Greek means of-course: “the Land between Waters – meaning two rivers”. If you inspect the map of Iraq, you will observe that the two rivers come quite close near Baghdad from a wide divergence; the Euphrates from the west, the Tigris from the North. South of Baghdad, the two rivers form a kind of flood plain, which used to be extremely fertile and covered with very lush palm groves of exuberant cultivation, the soil being continually rejuvenated by annual floods. Further, down to the South a veritable marshland delta is formed, with many fresh water lakes some of which used to cover huge expanses. These are the famous Marshes, which Saddam tried to dry up, upsetting the age-old ecology of the region.

Why do I mention all these geographical details? It is because I believe there is definite and close relationship between the nature of a people and the geography and climate of the land they inhabit. It almost seems that the same attributes applies to both; i.e., the adjectives that may describe the weather and terrain almost invariably are the same that can be used to characterize the mood and nature of a people. Thus, this can be considered an appropriate introduction and preamble to an attempt at understanding a people.

This is the introduction to the analysis that I promised you, which is going to come in comfortable installments, and I promise you to persevere in this effort this time, no matter what happens around me, even as car bombs explode, bullets fly all over the place, and good men fall everyday; that if God’s Wills it of-course (Inshallah).

Good night, for now.

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