The Exiled Shalash

Friday, March 31, 2006

Ahmad Chalabi for Prime Minister?!?

This is the latest, actually the craziest and maybe even the weirdest news from Iraq, Doctah Ahmad Abdulhadi Abdulhussein al-Chalabi may well be the nominee for the post of Prime Minister. I know I know, he didn't win any seats and he's not even part of the United Iraqi Alliance, but as weird as this sounds, there really are no rules against that. Here's what's against it, I am to start with and I am pretty sure Iran and I are on the same page here.

Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, better known to the Americans as "Zal," you know to de-Afghanize his origins would love such a choice because let's face it, "doctah" Ahmad Chalabi is still the neo-cons' favorite man in Iraq. No WMD, no al-Qaeda connection, no problem!

Ahmad Chalabi has been extremely supportive of Ja'afari's nomination not because there is any love there, but that's Ahmad, he likes to support idiots because he can manipulate idiots. Remember the Najaf crisis? Remember how Muqtada al-Sadr (may he...) went from a terrorist who likes to play PlayStation to a politician who likes to play PlayStation. That was Ahmad's work. Now Ahmad has found himself another toy, Ibrahim al-Eshakher Ja'afari. Amazing indeed.

I don't hate Chalabi, I give a lot of credit to Chalabi for helping liberate Iraq, and let me just add that Chalabi is 100 times better than both Ja'afari and Abdulmahdi combined, but are you kidding me? Is the UIA so stupid as to impose on the Iraqis a man who did not even win one seat? Well the answer to the question is yes, they are that stupid because anybody who cannot get over the fact that immam Hussein was killed a zillion years ago is pretty dumb, but seriously, will that not prove that this so called alliance is a joke?!?

Now let's talk a bit about our very dear next door neighbors, no, not the Chalabi-loving Jordanians because Sunnis don't matter, but rather, the Eye-Ranians! Oh what I would do to see the expression on Khamna'i's face when he hears the news that Chalabi is up for the top job at the new Shi'istan! Iran wants Abdulmahdi and it can tolerate Ja'afari but Chalabi? Nope.

I've always wondered about what to do with Ahmad Chalabi, because whether we like it or not, he's not going anywhere. He doesn't have to win seats for him to be powerful, he just needs to be alive, the man is so many things, but one thing nobody can dispute is that he's a brilliant politician.

So are you ready for the moment of truth?

Ahmad Chalabi should be given the job of director of Iraq's mukhabarat. If he is given that job, he'll crush the insurgency in six months, isn't this the same man who unseated Saddam? We just have to make sure that his salary is close to a billion dollars a year because well who are we kidding, this is "doctah" Chalabi, he needs to be well-paid or he won't be too focused.


When in doubt, read a poem... when depressed, read a poem... when you feel like Zarqawi is winning, read a poem... when the cradle of civilization cannot decide between two idiots (Ja'afari or Abdulmahdi), that's right, read a damn poem. Here's a verse from Nizar Qabbani's, "A secret report from CRUELISTAN:"

هل تعرفون من انا
مواطن يسكن في دولة (قمعستان)
وهذه الدولة ليست نكتة مصرية
او صورة منقولة عن كتب البديع والبيان
فأرض (قمعستان) جاء ذكرها
في معجم البلدان ...
وان من اهم صادراتها
حقائبا جلدية
مصنوعة من جسد الانسان
الله ... يا زمان ...


Do you know who I am?
A citizen residing in a country known as CRUELISTAN
And this country is not an Egyptian joke
It's mentioned in the encyclopedia of countries
One of its most crucial exports...
are leather bags
made of human flesh
Oh God, the times...

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hussein Then and Hussein Now

The Difference: 1400 years (you know give or take).

Jill Carroll Released

I am happy to report that Jill Carroll, the American reporter for the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor has been freed from the swords of the 7th century. Wow! Jill Carroll is a name that entered the American MSM so fast that it makes it hard for us to think about how we as human beings work.

When foreigners are kidnapped or killed in Iraq, there follows a profile of that person, a lengthy eulogy that includes the loved ones he or she left behind. There is a smiling picture of the victim, reminding the loved ones of happier times.

I would like, if I can to join Jill Carroll's family and friends on this joyous day!

Iraqi victims of 7th century terrorism aren't exactly treated that way. They are kidnapped and killed without any mention, we rarely get to know their names or see their pictures. Aren't we also human? Don't we have feelings? Don't we laugh and cry, love and hate like all of God's children?

On this joyous occasion, the day on which Jill Carroll is released, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the Associated Press for this photo whose caption reads, "Iraqi women..." I guess that's enough for Iraqis:

Monday, March 27, 2006

Iraq's Top Criminal: Bayan Jabr

الهم لا تحاسبنا بما فعل السفهاء منا

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Dear Baghdad

Vahal Abdulrahman is by all standards one of the most emotional bloggers I have seen on the world wide web. I religiously read his posts until he stopped, even now, I check his blog from time to time hoping that there is a new post. When in Washington a few weeks ago, I tried to meet him but he didn't respond to my emails. I would like to share this letter with you that I have almost memorized not only because it is so well written, but also because I know that like Shalash, Vahal writes from the heart and that's what Iraq needs. Here's that letter:

There is hope:

Friday, April 15, 2005

There is hope

Dear Baghdad,

I will write this letter to a boy who was born today in let's say Najaf and whose name is let's say Ali.

Dear Ali,

You have come into a new Iraq, one that is very different from the one I came into some 23 years ago. Your Iraq has what my Iraq never had, hope. I always dreamt of your Iraq, I stayed up late fantasizing about what it would be like to be in your Iraq.

My Iraq, dear Ali, was racist, my Iraq was bloody, my Iraq was war-torn, my Iraq was fearful, my Iraq was totalitarian and the only thing that makes me smile is that I can now refer to my Iraq in the past tense. I love your Iraq, not because your Iraq is suddenly tolerant, peaceful, rebuilt and democratic, but because your Iraq has the hope to be all of those things.

In my Iraq, children knew the numbers of all UN Security Council Resolutions, in your Iraq, there is hope that they will know all cartoon characters. In my Iraq, little school children praised SADDAM every morning, in your Iraq, there is hope that they will not even know who the Prime Minister is. In my Iraq, oh dear Ali, most high school students never even traveled to Baghdad, in your Iraq, there is hope that the destinations of school trips will be Beirut and Istanbul.

It is good that you get to know about my Iraq, Ali, not when you're a child because that's a time to know about video games. But when you grow up (and promise that you will take your time growing up), learn about my Iraq so that your Iraq can become something for which to live, something to love, something for which to cheer, something that makes you adore the Iraqi flag more, something that makes you want to recite the anthem more often, something that makes you love the national soccer team.

My Iraq is a time at which your Iraq will hopefully laugh. Laugh when you hear that Saddam had millions of portraits displayed across Iraq. Laugh when you read that food in my Iraq was distributed through rations. Laugh when you see images of military parades for the "Great Leader."

Let Halabja, Anfal, the bombing of your city, the mass graves, the torture chambers be memories of a past about which you will only read.

When you read this letter, a long time from now, I hope that your Iraq will have completely erased my Iraq and turned it into nothing but a memory for you and I both need to always remember my Iraq.

I remain truly yours,

Vahal Abdulrahman
April 15, 2005

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Happy Newroz

Happy Newroz to Shalash al-Iraqi and to his family and to Iraq and Iraqis. Happy Newroz to the people of Zakho, Dohuk, Arbil, Sulaimania, Kerkuk, Musil, Tikrit, Diala and Anbar. Happy Newroz to the people of Sadr city and those of Kadhimiyyah and A'dhamiyyah and Baya' and Shu'la, and all of Baghdad, even that god foresekn place called the Green Zone. Happy Newroz to the people of Hilla and to the people of Najaf and Karbala. Happy Newroz to the masses of Samawa and Diwaniyyah, Nassiriyyah and Kut, Umara and Basrah.

May the coming year be one of peace for the people of this great nation!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Shalash and Um Hussayn

Shalash has a new piece, it's called, "I was on TV," you see in many of his pieces, he speaks to Um Hussayn, a lady that is most likely his wife... he starts, as usual in a simple manner by saying that he was on TV, he says that he was wearing a white shirt, you know the one with stripes.

The supposed TV appearance was on the day of the first, albeit very brief parliamantary session, he describes the crowd as a bunch of theives and liars and killers. Though a few were decent, a few, Shalash says, care about Iraq but he who cares about Iraq these days is a hated man, hated man, hated man! How did we get here?

It is rare that Shalash praises politicians, but he does say to Um Hussayn that he thinks Barham Salih, the current minister of planning is among the decent few. Barham, Shalash says, is a "good Kurd," and hints that either Jalal or Massoud are "bad Kurds," he doesn't say which, but he most likely meant both!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Remember Halabja

Three years after Operation Iraqi Freedom started, so much has happened (see my thoughts in the previous post), but do remember that Saddam was removed because of what was started three years ago, for those who speak Arabic, please read this masterpiece by Mr. Abdulmun'm al-A'sam.

Three Years Later

I remember vividly this day three years ago, I remember it because I often think this day should have been my birthday.

Exiled in a land I couldn't call home, I started, for the first time in many years dreaming of returning to the place where I first fell in love, the place where humanity and civilization had their first kiss, the place where the Tigris welcomes you and where the tea shops welcome you and where Nadhim Ghazali's voice makes you realize that no place on earth can be as sweet as this thing called Iraq.

I wasn't happy about Rumsfeld's "shock and awe," I wanted the bombing to start and be over so that we can be done with Saddam.

The bombing started, 21 days later, it ended and Saddam became a fugitive, 8 months later he became a prisoner, three years later, he's on trial.

Three years later, 36 thousand Iraqi lives later, over 2300 American lives later, billions of dollars later, two elections later, a constitutional referendum later, two governments later, Iraq can still only be labeled as a mess.

I am sorry 36000 lives means 36000 stories, it means tens of thousands of children who no longer have fathers or mothers, it means tens of thousands of sisters and brothers whose siblings are gone, gone forever. 36000 people means 36000 lives that will not be lived, dreams that will not be pursued, smiles that will not be expressed, families that will not be fed. What were their names? Will we ever erect a monument in their memory? Will we ever have a wall for them with their photos? Will we ever call them the martyrs of democracy?

Damn Zarqawi, damn Hakim, damn Sadr, damn all those who have caused their deaths, damn those who have stolen Iraqi money, damn those who have profited from the blood of Iraqi men and women, Iraqi children and elderly Iraqis.

Three years later and the best SCIRI can give Iraq is the criminal Bayan Jabr. Three years later and the best Da'awa can give us is Ibrahim al-Ja'afari. Three years later and the Sunnis are still represented by criminals and thieves and terrorists like Dhari and Jibouri and Delaimy (Harith, Mish'an and Adnan respectively).

This is not the era of polite writers, this is the era for cursing the father of sectarianism, Sistani. This is the age of rejecting Bayan Jabr and his boss, the pathetic excuse for a human being, Abdulaziz al-Hakim. This is the age to expose the likes of Harith al-Dhari for there is little difference between him and Zarqawi.

Let's judge, let's curse, let's wish death upon the profiteers of Iraqi blood, let's say "no" to uncle Jalal and Ayatollah Sistani and Dr. Ja'fari and Bayan Sulag.

The killing of Iraqis can stop if Iraq's political class wasn't so damned sectarian. Yes, the killing could have stopped if there was less corruption and if instead of voting for uncle Jalal because he's a Kurd, we had voted for somebody because he's Iraqi and decent and wants the best for Iraq. If instead of voting for those who have stopped time at the 7th century, we had voted for somebody who lives in the 21st century, the killing could have stopped or been reduced or a few lives could have been saved...

Three years later, people like Shalash al-Iraqi still cannot write under his own name...

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Sistani's Wisdom

I recently had a conversation with a fellow Iraqi man who happens by some historical fluke to have been born into a Shi'ified family, that is to say, his ancestors, like so many of Iraq's Shi'as today converted from Sunnis to Shi'as to avoid the Ottoman military service. The conversation went from sports to politics and finally to Najaf where grand Ayatolla Ali Sistani resides as one of the main leaders of the Shi'a sect. My friend began by telling me that Sistani is very well read and if it weren't for the fact that the old Persian man was so studious, he wouldn't be where he is today.

Now let's get to the fact that Sistani is well read. I am sure the old Persian cleric has read all about the history of Fiq'h and Shari'a, I am also certain that he knows the Quran inside out and he may have committed most of it to memory. The man is also likely to know more than enough about Hadith. He knows and cares a lot about the events that followed the death of Muhammad.

But has he ever read a book that preaches universal brotherhood? Has he ever read a book that teaches the origins of dictatorship? Has he ever read a book that has made him change his mind on women? Has he ever read a love poem by Nizar Qabbani? Has he ever read "Reading Lolita in Tehran" that paints an accurate picture of the Islamic Republic of Iran, his country of birth? Has Sistani ever read a book that would open his mind to the idea that men and women are of equal value?

Don't tell me that the cleric who, in the heart of his heart wants to bring Iraq back to the 7th century is a well-read man for I do not care about books that keep one ignorant. No, I do not care about books that enrich one's knowledge of Shi'a theology and ignore the rest of the world. I do not respect those who believe in polygamy, those whose books teach them that a woman's testimony value in a court of law is worth half of that of a man. I do not have any admiration for a well-read man who condones legislations that allow 9 year old Iranian girls to get married.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Civil War

"I don't know what civil war means," is how Shalash begins his latest piece. You see in Arabic civil war can be translated into al-Harb al-Ahliyyah, but al-Ahliyyah also means "private," and Ahil also means, "family." So is Iraq's civil war a private one? No, I think it is a war among a family, that's probably why it's translated as such.

There is no such thing as a civil war, wars are not civil, not even the one that removed Saddam, if I recall correctly, I think I was a staunch supporter of that war.

Iraq's society is confused, it has gone from Saddam to Sadr (even Sadr city was once called Saddam city). Iraq's society has gone from Saddam to Zarqawi, from cruelty to terrorism, from blood to tears and then back to blood. We have gone from secularist Arab chauvinism to Iranian-style theocracy.

So what is our sin? Why are we now on the eve of a civil war? What have we done to deserve this?

Why is it that a country of 27 million people is stuck between two choices, Ja'afari or Abdulmahdi, how about neither? How about somebody simple, somebody liberal, somebody who respects the Shi'a and Kurds but also respects Yezedis and Christians, Sunnis and Jews? Why not somebody who cries for the children of Darfur as much as the children of Falluja and the children of Kerkuk and the children of Basrah?

Because we're a decent people, we have suffered so much for so long, we deserve someone better than Ja'afari and yes, someone better than Adil Abdulmahdi.

Shalash, the oh-so beautiful writer whose identity continues to be a puzzle writes in his recent piece that Badr and the Mahdi Army are as Iraqi as Zarqawi is Iraqi. He's right, how can you call yourself an Iraqi when you respond to the desecration of the al-Askariyyah shrine by desecration Sunni mosques? Shalash is right, how can you call yourself an Iraqi if you take orders from the Iranian regime, the same regime whose hand is stained with the blood of over one million Iraqis.

Let us re-define "Iraqi," because if Abdulaziz al-Hakim is Iraqi, then to hell with my Iraqiness and if Muqtada is an Iraqi, then I want my Iraqi identity thrown in the Tigris.

I am Iraqi because the victims of Halabja were Iraqis and the victims of Najaf were Iraqis. I am Iraqi because of the marshlands of the south and because of the mountains of Kurdistan and because of Nadhim al-Ghazali and because of Belqis al-Rawi.

Ammar al-Hakim and Muqtada al-Sadr are as much Iraqis as Khatami and Ahmadinejad are Iraqis. Harith al-Dhari and Mish'an al-Jibouri are as much Iraqis as Yassir Arafat was an Iraqi.

When all of this is over, maybe tens of years from now, maybe millions of lives later, maybe after Shalash and after the Exiled Shalash, maybe after Shalash becomes an Exiled Shalash, Iraqis have to put these clowns who now occupy Saddam's palaces on trial. The likes of Bayan Jabr and Abdulaziz al-Hakim and Muqtada al-Sadr and Ibrahim al-Ja'afari whose names have become known to the world at the expense of our blood should all be brought to justice and no, not some justice system crafted in the 7th century, but a real justice system that does not differentiate between a Budhist and a Muslim, a Shi'a and an atheist, a Yezedi and a Jew.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


Today marks the 18th year anniversary of one of the most gruesome chemical attacks in the history of mankind. Today marks the anniversary of the gassing of 5000 Kurds in the hands of Saddam and his gang.

But today Iraqis have no time to sit and reflect, they have no time to take a moment of silence in honor of those who were killed. Today Iraqis are dying in tens, hundreds and thousands only for being Shi'a, only for being Sunnis, just as those Kurds died only for being Kurds. The people of this nation die for the sin of being born Iraqis.

The people of Halabja attacked the monument that was opened after the liberation of Iraq, the man who cut the ribbon at the monument's opening was General Collin Powell. That monument today was attacked by angry protesters.

Everything that can go wrong in Iraq is going wrong.

May the Gods save this nation, may They bring peace to it. Haven't we suffered enough? Haven't enough of us died? When will this stop? When will we have time to mourn our dead and write eulogies for our dead and erect monument in honor of our dead? WHEN? WHEN?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Of Turbans and Democrats

Even the most optimistic planners of Operation Iraqi Freedom did not predict Jeffersonian democracy to be the final outcome of the war, but who knew that the name of this new democracy would be Sistanian? Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is the neo-cons' worst nightmare. If Paul Woolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Douglas Feith and company knew that Sistanian democracy would be the final product of the whole operation, would they have removed Saddam?

Sistani is the type of democrat who believes in elections only because he already knows the results. 555ers swept last December's elections because that slate, like many of its men and women were blessed (instead of endorsed) by Sistani.

Those who call the old Iranian cleric a democrat are living in another world. Sistani believes in not a single principle of liberal democracy except elections and that's because elections (census in the case of Iraq) were easily predictable.

Today Iraq is ruled by men wearing Turbans, their mandate comes from masses who obey a man who in the heart of his heart believes that democracy is a heresy in God's eyes. The Quran says nothing about democracy, the earlier Imams including the two whose shrine was recently blown up by Zarqawi never once spoke of a process where authority is derived from the masses.

The U.S. made Sistani who he is today, Bremer consulted Sistani for every little thing, making him the undisputed leader of Shi'istan!

The thoughts of what could have been done fill my throat with tears. Sistani and his 7th century army of Ali's boys should have been told to endorse democracy not elections. Yes, democracy, that wonderful Greek invention that evolved to mean minority rights and respect for the rule of law and women rights and the right to express yourself and the right not to be forced to write under the name "Shalash al-Iraqi."

Shalash al-Iraqi

Shalash al-Iraqi is a pen name for one of the most courageous Iraqi writers I have ever had the honor of reading. He writes witty columns in Arabic about a crumbling Iraq, a sectarian Iraq, a corrupt Iraq, a bloody Iraq. Though between the witty, sarcastic and critical lines of Shalash, one can detect a broken-hearted man, a man of dashed dreams who is compelled to see the authority in his country transferred from chauvinistic and genocidal Arab nationalists to a group of men who aspire to bring Iraq to the 7th century.

The idea for this blog is not to make another Shalash or even an English Shalash, it is rather to introduce Shalash to the English speaking world.

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