Saturday, January 17, 2004

Mafqud means disappeared in Arabic. is the first site devoted entirely to the disappeared in Iraq, and the first fully bilingual (Arabic/English) site dealing with human rights in Iraq. The state of human rights in Iraq is among the worst in the world.  To date, no one has an exact count of the Iraqi disappeared, but it certainly exceeds 100,000. Thus, enforced disappearances are among the most egregious abuses of human rights in Iraq: per capita, the number of disappeared in Iraq is the highest in the world.

No Iraqi community has been spared from these disappearances: Arabs, Kurds, Muslims, Christians, Shia, Sunni, · All have suffered, but those who have suffered the most are the Iraqi Kurds, principally because of the Anfal Campaigns, during which thousands of villages in Iraqi Kurdistan were emptied of their inhabitants, and many were killed. Several thousand were killed using poison gas, as happened in Halabja.

-this is an online database of the disappeared in Iraq. (

Today on CBS television, Paul Bremer boasted, "In the last three or four weeks we've seen a rather dramatic reduction in the number of attacks on the coalition. They are down by about 50 percent,"

I read this quote to my friend Hamoudi here in Baghdad. He raises his eyebrows and says,

"But attacks on helicopters has been up 100%. The resistance is finding it easier to attack the helicopters than the ground patrols. Attacks are not decreasing, they are changing. Doesn't Mr. Bremer see this?"

from Dahr Jamail,
anybody catch salam pax on NIGHTLINE?

It was a great show. I do hope to meet him.

I called my Mom and she is VERY UPSET that I am going back to Iraq. She said she feels like all her hard work to bring me here (to the USA) is now being flushed down the toilet.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Everyday someone donates a little money to help us with our trip and project. I do thank you all for your generous contributions.

I've been going through some of my links and reading the various bloggers coming out of Iraq. Things still sound rough over there but there seems to be a faith in better things to come. I really like reading Omar, who is a Civil Affairs Sergeant in the US Army, stationed in Baghdad. He is Arab-American and has a genuine investment in helping Iraq. You should check out his photo albums.
I hope we meet.
You know, I feel like Saddam has kept many of us Iraqis from really loving our country because he kept putting his picture in front of our faces. When I was a young boy living in Basrah I had a large poster of Saddam in my bedroom. It was a color portrait of his younger days, the one that was in every classroom in Iraq.

Are there any Saddam faces up anywhere? Will they create a museum just for his many statues and golden renditions of his face?

So we are about a week away from leaving and we are both anxious and nervous. I think if I just focus on my father I will be okay. My father is able to take everything in stride, even at times of crisis. That is if he doesn't lose it and we end up fighting. That 11 hour treck from Amman to Baghdad will have to be spent in peace or we will fight the whole trip. Really.
That's K's fear.
Anyway I don't want to fight. I just want to go to Iraq and see my uncle Kamal and uncle Abdullah and make some new friends and hopefully not get blown up or shot or robbed or carjacked.
This made me sad.
There was an article I read today about a young boy playing soccer in downtown Baghdad when he stepped on a mine and died. Poor kid... I can't seem to find the artcile, I guess it's yesterdays news. Who is responsible for this attack?

I've also been following the Iraq Diaries (from Dahr Jamail) from

in the south of Iraq:

Iraq's most powerful Shiite Muslim cleric has notified President Bush that he won't compromise on his demand for the direct election of an assembly that would select a new government, a senior administration official said Friday.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al Husseini al Sistani is tough. He is not backing down and Bermer and Bush are scrambling. So far there has been a peaceful protest in Basrah. But the threat for something violent is made known.



Thursday, January 15, 2004

It's foolish on all practical levels for me to make this ambitious trip to Iraq. Not only am I returning to a place I have not seen for 24 years...I'm also attempting to make a movie about the experience and about Iraq today. But that in itself is complex. My personal encounters and perspective will set some of the tone, but I do hope to get as many people as I can to talk about their lives, hopes and dreams in Iraq today.

I will listen and I will try to keep my camera at a respectful distance.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

It's official. K and I purchased our tickets today. We hope to arrive in Amman, Jordan by Jan.27 and after spending some time with my father and my step-mother we will head out to Baghdad. I'm leaving the transportation up to my father and I hope all will go well. I just don't want to draw too much attention with our video and photo equipment.

But K and I are excited. At first when the prospect of me going alone was a reality we were a bit moody and emotional about the whole trip. But now, with K coming along we are optimistic and eager to get this project moving along.

24 years ago I left Basrah with no intention of ever returning. War can have that effect.

I am upset about some of the headlines and information that is coming from Iraq. Soldiers behaving badly. Contracts and decision made for the Iraqis without their consent. You remove a brutal dictator and you replace him with a fantasy of 'freedom' and 'democracy'. Yes, Iraqis are grateful, but so what?

When were the Americans when Saddam gassed the Kurds? Or how about the chemical weapons he used on Iranians that the US helped by supplying him with satellite pictures of the Persian landscape.

Lets stop hallucinating. Americans were terrified over the attacks on 9-11 and had no idea what the hell was going on. They trusted the US government when it said it had credible evidence that Saddam was harboring weapons of mass destruction and was ready to use them on the USA. Powell got up there with his charts and some distorted radio-messages which proved that Saddam was hiding WMD(?)
yeah, okay...
and the public in the USA still shaken up by 9-11 and terrified of those 'terrorists' went along with the lie.
and now?
Back in early 2003, when there were many anti-war demonstration going on it was really difficult for me to be completely against the US lead invasion into Iraq. I knew that the reasons, the WMD and the Al-Qaida links with Saddam, was a lie. I suspect most Arabs knew exactly what was going on.
But I was not against toppling Saddam and only the US can be audacious enough to do something like that.

Okay, enough complaining. Let us look forward to a better Iraq. The people in Iraq have to be involved in the political discussion that will lead to a democratic country with full rights for everyone.