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Meanwhile in Iraq

Two days ago, a car bomb exploded in a crowded Baghdad market, killing 200 people. Unlike the 32 victims of Cho Seung-Hui, we will never see their photos or hear their life stories. According to witnesses:

    The street was transformed into a swimming pool of blood.
    Some people were burned alive inside minibuses. Nobody could reach them after the explosion. There were pieces of flesh all over the place.

So is the surge working in Iraq? According to General David Petraeus one month ago:

    Sure we see improvements, major improvements…. We got down at the people level and are staying. Once the people know we are going to be around, then all kinds of things start to happen.

How wonderful it is to be “at the people level” in Iraq! “All kinds of things start to happen” thanks to the American occupier!

Just for comparison, here is what life is like in Iran, a nation next door which is not under American influence.

Thanks to Black Iris of Jordan for the Baghdad photo (original source: AFP via BBC) and to Forever Under Construction for the photo of Tehran (original source: online gallery of photographer Kamyar Adl).


Comment from Golanya
Time: April 21, 2007, 03:10

Excellent comparison Eatbees; many people believe that Iran as bad as US and forget that each has its own type of evilness, I certainly want the regime to be changed in Syria but I’ll never take the risk of collaborating with a worst evil ever like US; the pictures say it all.
It is a shame that the “leading” Syrian opposition are American allies, and they dare to call themselves: “reformers”!!

As for the American people, I do sympathize with the victims parents, really, but their tragedy is of a “normal” happenings in a certain country, while that of the Iraqis are of another country’s chaotic, economical and militarily colonization; US.

We are buying the American people’s self-centrism; they feel sorry for the American soldiers in Iraq, the armed ones, the trained ones, and not minding the daily horrific tragedy of unarmed families in Iraq.

Americans must start care the foreign politics in their country or else they are as cooperators as murderers as Bush!

Comment from Amre El-Abyad
Time: April 21, 2007, 09:27

eatbess, I can almost Imagine the Iranian vampires with an evil glee across their Persian faces.

It Iran who is responsible for this. Americans committed a crime for sure by destroying Iraq but that is not an excuse for overlooking the Iranian terrorism. It was Iranians that resisted American secularization plans and infuriated sectarian strife by pushing back into Iraq traitors, Persianised Arabs and Arabic speaking demagogic Rasputin-like Mullahs who have brain washed the simple religious Shiites in the south of Iraq. Thus t incurring a string of Sunni-shiite strikes and counter strikes

Comment from eatbees
Time: April 21, 2007, 18:07

@Golanya — I agree with you completely (as usual?) and I think you make two important points here:

1) What Cho Seung-Hui did is, unfortunately, “normal” in the U.S. and a product of American culture, an internal problem; but what is happening in Iraq wouldn’t be happening if the U.S. hadn’t invaded, which makes it far from “normal” even though it happens every day.

2) Americans see the world in a self-centered way; they think it is only about them, and usually don’t see anything unless they are part of the story. Worse, they project this attitude onto the rest of the world and force the world to live with the consequences of this self-centered behavior which defines everything in terms of “American interests.” Of course (the final irony) these are really the interests of a few powerful industries, not of the American people.

My conclusion is that the U.S. has been taken over by evil forces, and is doing more harm than good through its behavior. Even under Bill Clinton we were imperialists, but at least we were gentle imperialists. By contrast, the Bush administration is almost completely destructive in its behavior. The American people have a moral responsibility before the world to take back their government and redirect the policy to humanistic ends. And you are absolutely right that we should get over our self-centrism that causes Americans to think it is “all about us.”

Comment from eatbees
Time: April 21, 2007, 18:08

@Amre — It might be correct to call the Iranian leaders “vampires” but not the Iranian people! The Iranian people are quite simply people who drink tea, fall in love, listen to music, try to raise families…all of the things you do. We can call Ahmadinejad or Khamenei a “vampire” and I’m sure many Iranians would agree, but isn’t it true as well to call Mubarak or Assad or Qaddafi or King Abdullah or King Abdallah “vampires”? Try to be wise about this. The problems of the region will never be solved, in my opinion, so long as the people allow themselves to be divided by these narrow, factional interrests like “Sunni vs. Shia” or “Arab vs. Persian” or “Muslim vs. Christian” instead of learning to communicate across these boundaries and find solutions to common problems. So long as the people believe in these illusions, they can be maniplated by kings and dictators and foreign interests, and the blood will continue to flow.

Thank you for coming here and taking the time to comment. I’m planning to read your blog so I can better understand your thinking. I notice you’ve invited people to put their own words on your blog, which means you are open to an exchange of views. Let’s help each other to build a new reality, a reality based on communication and not division…!

Comment from homeyra
Time: April 22, 2007, 05:26

Although war is “televised”, so many people don’t even seem to realize what is life, day after day after day in Iraq, or any other war zones, and those who realize feel absolutely powerless. And how can anyone undo all that harm?

eatbees, I had added a link in my answer to your comment on my blog. here it is, although the obsession with nose job is rather annoying!

Comment from amre El-abyad
Time: April 22, 2007, 07:23

Eatbees you are very welcome to post or comment in my blog. I absolutely open for all opinions. One thing i cant tolerate,, that is downgrading an debate or a conversation into a “perconal issue” you are very welcome to crticise and wack my views, objectives and hypocracies. so far as, nothing perconal is involved.

I totally agree with your point about Arab regimes being called vampires..

However, that comparison can be very misleading!

The Arab governments pursue certain foreign (and internal) policies that dont seem to conform to the best interests of Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Syria…..etc or even the mass opinions of the cattle Arab people corrupted by their stagnat uninnovative regimes!

As Arab nations or countries we share common, language culture, historical congruencies and the same sort of porblems .

Therefore an Egyptian nationalist like myself realizes very well that a pan Arab framework and vision is matter of vital necessity for the welfare of that region extending from Morocco to Iraq. Leave aside the metaphysical, emotional feelings, for instance if Morocco quarrels with Spain , whether i want it or not, i cant help but sympthesing with Morocco.

that why saudi people, Egyptians, Jordanians………etc feel very sympathetic and wounded just like the beloved Iraq.

In case of Iran, it the the other way round! Iranian governmet is putting up an anti-imperial facade and pseudo supporting Palestinians, in order to pursue PERSIAN national interests.

However, Iranians people are different, their dislike of Arabs is very obvious (it is a part of their culture) they have no problems with Israel whatsoever, on the contrary, they consider Arabs to be their historical complex. Just run over Israeli Iranian relations in 20th century.Or even for that matter, the ancient one(Cyrus the Persian liberated hebrews, Nabuchtanasser the Iraqi enslaved Israelians and so did the Ramses of Egypt)

Policies of both Arab and Irani govenrmet are not sustaniable basically because they go against their “nature”. Therefore there is no way whatsoever to compare a genuine poular symapthy with Iraq with Iranian popular feelings that regard Iraq the same way Arabs do Israel

Dearabising Iraq is in the best interest of Iran….. While in our case it is a disaster because it definetly entails a drastic reduction in strategic weight of all Arab countries and the level of their future prospects.

Again I have to say I’m deeply impressed by your dynamic creative blog and postings. Especially the conversation you had with a freind of yours about the comparison between Egyptian and morrocan oppostion.

I dont know if you like football or not, but Aziz Bo Derballah is my idol!

Comment from eatbees
Time: April 22, 2007, 19:20

@homeyra — Thanks for the tip! The site where you found the article (Newshoggers) looks like it’s worth visiting regularly.

It must get frustrating when even in the well-meaning articles about Iran, the author finds it necessary to start by deconstructing the image of “glowering ayatollahs, book-burning mobs, fatwas of death and the black chador.” Not to mention “Islamic scientists” who are even more scary!

I can’t help noticing this line in the article: “Iran is our natural ally in the Middle East, a European civilisation trapped by history and geography in the midst of Arabia. It does not belong there, culturally or religiously.” I think this statement will play right into the hands of our friend Amre, who feels that Iranians hate Arabs, resent having them as neighbors, and will do everything they can to prevent an Arab renaissance.

My own feeling is that Hitchens is looking at the Middle East from a perspective of European cultural superiority. Seeing a culture that “wants to be like us,” he rushes to embrace it, implying in the process that other cultures in the region are NOT “natural allies” of the West because they are too stubborn or backward to “want to be like us.” I have no idea whether Iranians view Arabs as “less European” than them and therefore inferior. But I’m suspicious of the Eurocentric lens Hitchens is using, which embraces Iran for “wanting to be like us” and subtly brings Iran under the tent of Western hegemony.

We have really got to do away with the idea that Western culture equals progress, tolerance, enlightement and modernity, while everything outside the West (like “Islamic scientists”) is somehow dark and Satanic. Indeed, the idea itself is neither progressive, tolerant, enlightened nor modern, if you see what I mean. It shows that whatever the West may say about other cultures, it hasn’t fully outgrown the Middle Ages itself, with its need to divide the world into dark and light.

That said, I appreciate that Hitchens visited the poorer, more conservative parts of Tehran to show that even there, support for the regime is failing. In Morocco the situation is reversed—the Westernizing elites are in control, so the conservative poor are more opposed to the regime than are the trendy, café-going upper class. But I think that in both societies, the government hasn’t really delivered on its promises, at least not in a way that gives the majority a sense of optimism. So young people regardless of class or ideology are united on one thing—a government that answers to the people is the only way forward.

I also appreciate Hitchens’ central point—that Western hostility to Iran (and lack of understanding of what is really happening there) is only pushing the people closer to a government they don’t really like. Too often, incompetent leaders are able to distract their people by rallying them against a “common enemy.” This is as true in the West (the “war on terror”) as it is in Iran (the “Great Satan”) or the Arab world (Israel and Iran). This looks to me like a three-way mindf**k, and who benefits but the leaders themselves? I wish we could do away with nation states altogether (a 19th and 20th century model), and work together as citizens to build a global democracy without borders.

Comment from amre El-abyad
Time: April 23, 2007, 04:38

eatbees, i dont feel Iranians hate Arabs, on he perconal level they were usually trying to be friendly with me.

Objectively speaking , Iranians hate Arabs and are a bit jealous of them. In Iran they use Arabic Alphabet and so many of them blame Arabs for bringing them Islam- while they forget that their Perisan civilsation is a mere cut and paste from Iraqi one. the greatest persian temple for example , the pride of Iran is built on babylonian style………

Comment from homeyra
Time: April 23, 2007, 23:38

It is true that Iranians are caught among two forces: one is despising the “other”, be it a lower class person, a “darker” one or a different one. But again is it typically Iranian?
In the other hand we have a literature – which in my opinion is our strongest cultural feature – which starves to go beyond these sort of boundaries and accept the “other”, respect and love him: The Dervish is superior to the King.
The only positive thing I can say about this duality, is that the same person who will vociferate the despising approach – often due to the lack of education, or frustration or simply absence of thought and real attention, usually can easily be brought to go beyond this attitude when it is pointed out to him. People have somewhere in their psyche that the opposite attitude has been praised by all our cultural gurus, whom we are so proud of.
I agree with all of what you wrote about the article. The thing is that Iran is so demonized that most visitors are so glad not to be “hanged in public” that they bestow us with the greatest compliment the can think of : “people are so westernized” :) Although we get the irony, it is certainly not an offense.

Comment from eatbees
Time: April 24, 2007, 13:47

@homeyra — When you say “Iranians are caught among two forces,” one that is generous and another that despises, this reminds me a lot of what Moroccans like to call “blad skizo”—”blad” meaning “country” and “skizo” meaning of course a divided personality. Moroccans pride themselves on being the most generous people on earth, but at the same time they have officials who aren’t just cruel but who truly enjoy their cruelty, and common people who are always looking over their shoulder at others to see what there is to condemn. It’s this love-hate relation that drives Morocco and give it its special energy. It isn’t “rational” but I think it comes from a feeling that any kind of passion is better than neutrality. Morccans are intensely social people who are never indifferent to each other or to outsiders. That explains both the amazing generosity and the way they meddle in each others’ business. This craziness never leaves you alone until after a while it makes sense! But you are right that there needs to be a “sweetener” in it for balance, what you call the Dervish mentality. I’d love to hear more about this—if you can recommend an Iranian author who you feel captures that, please do.

I’m not sure if it’s relevant to your comment, but I wrote about “blad skizo” in another, more political context here.

Comment from homeyra
Time: April 25, 2007, 03:07

I read your previous post: we have a lot in common! I could write a similar post about Iran and Iranians :) I guess this is a characteristic of less developed countries where people can escape many rules of the advanced countries.
I am myself a fan of differences: we live and we (have to) included in our lives many different people, those we like and those we dislike. If you master the… let’s say “art” of dealing with all type of persons, you almost get addicted. If not you’ll have a difficult time.
Your referred to the “Dervish”. I wrote: “The Dervish is superior to the King.” I should have written that “he is equal to the King”, this would be the exact words of a very famous poem and song.
Unfortunately I am not a good source to develop on this subject the way it deserves. In short all of our literature strives to a world of love and peace, beyond judgments and ignorance and cruelty. This literature is respected even by those who practice just the opposite. The highest form of our literature, the poetry, has naturally escaped the constraints of any organized ideology.
I would refer you to all of our classics: Hafez, Rumi…

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