Iraqi bloggers: letters from the inside

My following article appears in today’s Crikey newsletter:

As the “Coalition of the Unwilling” furiously spins new objectives, deadlines and targets for “victory” in Iraq, former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix has labelled the invasion a “pure failure” that has left the country in worse shape than under Saddam Hussein.

The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn writes that, “the greatest American mistake was to turn what could have been presented as liberation into an occupation.”

But what do Iraqis think? Three and a half years after the invasion, our media rarely allows Iraqis (or Arabs, in general) to be seen or heard, except for the briefest of moments. Blogs fill the gap.

One of Iraq’s more famous bloggers, Riverbend, writes… that her family does not “know a single Iraqi family that has not seen the violent death of a first or second-degree relative these last three years.” The country’s apocalyptic violence – and the death of a close friend – has even caused Zeyad at Healing Iraq… to “officially regret supporting this war back in 2003. The guilt is too much for me to handle.”

Alive in Baghdad’s correspondent Qassem proves the power of the internet by recounting his arrest by US Marines due to his blog:

In jail, I found that military intelligence of US army printed out my blogs from my computer and they read it all and wrote their notes about it, and I received many questions concerning my blog. They think that they found useful information and they want more from me… The main purpose for arresting me was to make sure that I am not writing my blogs to support insurgency and marines made sure that I have no relation with any Iraqi carry weapon against US troops.

The fractured Iraqi government continues to frustrate many Iraqis. Baghdad Connect wonders… who is truly winning in the current situation:

Just last week our finance minister approved a release of cash advance worth of USD 14,000 for every MP and to be deducted from their salaries during the next 36 months. BC knows very well that those MPs could use that cash after returning emptied-pocket from their summer vacationing, which apparently they needed so badly after serving their country for a little over four months! As one male MP said “everywhere is getting expensive”.

So, how to end the occupation? Baghdad Connect has a suggestion:

On the light of dropping Venezuelan Oil industries by a private company in the US due to name calling by Mr Chavez with respects to Mr Bush:

Dear Halliburton,

Mr. Bush is a devil, liar and alcoholic. Kindly drop our Oil and go home!