Friday, June 16, 2006


Thanks to all my friends who expressed their relief on being reassured of my safety. That means a lot to me and really touches me. Well I can assure my friends that I am a very careful man and take very good precautions but “Death will overtake you even if you be in built towers” as the holy Koran says. Human psychology is very complex and can adapt to any kind of situation such as the constant presence of danger. But we are not going to go into that right now, despite being a very interesting subject.

Today, I have something quite serious to talk about. At long last, it has come to be realized that any security strategy in Iraq must start from securing the Capital. This is something that I have said long ago and was probably the main reason for starting to blog just to get across this message. It would have been easier to implement such a strategy earlier before the “enemy” has had enough time to infest many neighborhoods and entrench in considerable areas of the Capital. Indeed it was the enemy who started the offensive with a deliberate and coordinated plan that escalated especially after blowing up the shrines in Samara, which was definitely an important part of the plan in order to escalate sectarian violence and invite retaliation which would then facilitate and help a campaign of “ethnic cleansing” to clear increasingly large chunks of the capital and turn them into “Faluja” style safe havens for the “insurgency”. I don’t know whether people abroad are really aware of the real situation in Baghdad right now. The capital is divided along sectarian lines with parts of it becoming no-go zones especially for Shiaa’s, and these zones are not just in the peasant outskirts of the city but have moved to the heart of middle class areas especially to the west of the city. The situation has worsened considerably in the last couple of months. Many of our relatives and acquaintances have left their houses and villas and taken refuge to safer parts of the city with friends and relatives. Certain neighborhoods in West Baghdad have almost become deserted.

Thus the government announced security plan for Baghdad is not so much an initiative but a badly needed counteroffensive to save the capital from a very dangerous situation. I have warned against this many a time to no avail. The onslaught is getting dangerously close to the part of the city where I myself live. The tactic used by the enemy is to concentrate terrorist operations on the areas where they plan to move to and then follow that with a campaign of intimidation and threats to inhabitants with few murders of whole families and the like to induce all undesirables to move out so that they can have a free hand and safe haven in the area and entirely take over the neighborhood. The intent of the sectarian gangs should not be underestimated or misunderstood; they have the serious intent and foul ambition to take over completely at least the western half of the city of Baghdad and that includes by the way the famous Green Zone. Thus you can understand that the true significance of the present operation by Iraqi Government and American forces; it is a necessary, urgent and critical counteroffensive to save Baghdad.

I don’t know if many of my western friends really understand the nature of the geography of Iraq and its cities. In many ways it is different from what you are accustomed to. In particular, Baghdad is a huge horizontal urban expansion of mostly low rise dwellings; i.e. brick and concrete single and two story houses. With the collapse of municipal services the whole city is turning into a great big slum including even the erstwhile prosperous and bourgeois quarters. Thus these vast urban growths with innumerable side streets and alleyways can be bewildering even for us who have lived most of our lives in this place. For instance, I myself in days bygone when one could drive safely anywhere in the city without any fear, could not find my way in many parts of city. The population of the Greater Baghdad Area is estimated at about six millions, that is roughly a quarter of the entire population of the whole country. The mass migration from the provinces towards Baghdad has been one of main problems in Iraq in the last century. The Baathists in particular have encouraged their clans from the Sunni Triangle to come and provided them with land and support to settle in the capital in deliberate scheming to change the demography of the city. Thus most of present day Baghdad did not actually exist half a century ago. The real original Baghdadis do not represent but a small percentage of the present population of the city. The deposed regime actually allocated land on the basis of professional affiliation. Elements close to the regime such as members of the Saddamist security forces and the like had the lion share in these housing projects which explain why certain areas in Baghdad are such hotbeds of terrorism and rebellion.

As I am writing these lines another horrible outrage has just taken place. A suicide attack has been perpetrated in one of the main Shiaa mosques in Baghdad, the ancient Bratha mosque, which had been attacked before recently. The attackers hid the explosives in shoes and slippers. An ugly mood and terrible anger is seizing the street right now, which can jeopardize all the government efforts at reconciliation and national unity. I was planning to examine coolly the requisites for the security plan to succeed but I fear the events are so exasperating that I cannot think dispassionately right now. All I can say is that if the plan does not shift gear and strike with iron fist on quite well known safe havens for the criminals in Baghdad itself, then the chances of success are not very promissing. We are all for national unity and reconciliation but those sensible and honorable elements within the Sunni camp must come forward and take the lead in condemning and fighting these awful killers who are based in their neighborhoods and their midst. The position of these is so crucial and any hesitation on their part can have quite disastrous consequences.


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