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Baghdad Leaving
April 27, 2007 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Riverbend and her family decided to leave Iraq.
posted by growabrain (73 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why? What's going on?
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:09 AM on April 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


Same-old-same-old, bunch of white guys move in and the neighborhood just isn't the same any more.
posted by dmd at 8:10 AM on April 27, 2007


Damn gentrification.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:11 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


They should stick around and wait for gentrification, imho.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:11 AM on April 27, 2007


...I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn't know what our neighbors were- we didn't care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it- depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.
...


(i was about to post this too, grow--terrible)

There's a giant refugee crisis already--the UN is only just starting to get involved: ...Frelick said Iraq's refugee crisis represented "a mass exodus, but it's been a slow-moving one; now that it is recognized for what it is, the doors have been closing" to those trying to flee. In order to make asylum space available in neighboring countries, he argued, resettlement was needed to free up places for new arrivals.

Meanwhile, according to Amman-based International Organization for Migration Iraq chief of mission Rafiq Tschannen, during the conference's closed proceeding Iraq's neighbor states had strongly rejected criticism for slowing down their acceptance of Iraqi refugees - after taking in some 800,000 in recent months - from countries that had only taken in a few hundred of those fleeing. ...

posted by amberglow at 8:22 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't see the Saudis or Kuwait rushing to welcome fleeing Iraqis at all.
posted by amberglow at 8:23 AM on April 27, 2007


Dumb and horribly insensitive question: Can Iraqis emigrate to the United States? If so, perhaps we should apologize and encourage sunnis to come here. They are educated and relatively westernized, and they'd flourish here given the opportunities.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:25 AM on April 27, 2007


from UNHRC's Refugees: Iraq Bleeds: Millions displaced by conflict, persecution and violence...Everywhere you look in Syria and Jordan you find impoverished Iraqi mothers, with dead or missing husbands, traumatized children, people in need of major surgery, people at risk from cross-border vendettas, and people who – if they were sent back (both governments insist they are not deporting Iraqis) – would clearly be at great risk.

Many refugees are in a nebulous situation – by and large tolerated, but without a legal basis for their presence in the neighbouring countries. Many visas have expired. New ones are hard to come by. ...

posted by amberglow at 8:27 AM on April 27, 2007


Pastabagel: I don't have a source to cite for you here, but I think the US govt made an allowance for 17,000 Iraqi asylum seekers, though I don't think that number has been reached yet.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:27 AM on April 27, 2007


Dumb and horribly insensitive question: Can Iraqis emigrate to the United States?

It's not dumb, but i think it's too late: We've cemented so much hate in them that it's a danger, and we're obviously not competent or interested enough to determine who does and does not hate us in terms of allowing people in. Millions of Iraqi families have been crushed or affected by either our own violence or the sectarian violence or our actions or non-actions in response to that sectarian violence.
posted by amberglow at 8:30 AM on April 27, 2007


I know Iraqis already here have been getting their own families out where possible, so that's something at least.
posted by amberglow at 8:33 AM on April 27, 2007


Human Rights First: The Iraqi Refugee Crisis. On February 14, 2007, the US State Department announced that the US would resettle 7,000 Iraqi refugees in the United States. Before that US policy was to not admit significant numbers of Iraqi refugees in because Iraq would be stabilized and they'd be able to return home. As of March 11, 2007, 466 Iraqis (TimesSelect link) have been resettled in the US since the 2003 invasion.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:40 AM on April 27, 2007


Ah, it was 7,000. Thanks kirkaracha. It seems the State Department is relying on twisted logic to avoid extending compassion to those whose lives have been ruined by the war.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:45 AM on April 27, 2007



Dumb and horribly insensitive question: Can Iraqis emigrate to the United States?


Big story the other night on Dan Rather Reports on HDTV - Sweden is accepting thousands of Iraqi immigrants no questions asked. Refugees have to rely on human smugglers though. Apparantly there is a very swiftly growing community of Iraqi refugees there. One Iraqi woman interviewed said she paid a smuggler 12K U.S dollars for EACH member of her family. They couldn't afford to get the husband out but her and her two kids are in Sweden now.
posted by spicynuts at 8:45 AM on April 27, 2007


I read her blog for a while but sorta forgot about it when the updates became so infrequent. I started to worry that she'd been killed.

There are moments when the injustice of having to leave your country, simply because an imbecile got it into his head to invade it, is overwhelming...

Amen
posted by DieHipsterDie at 9:01 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


If one wanted to send money to her, but didn't want to get pegged as a criminal for sending money to an Iraqi, how would one do it?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:02 AM on April 27, 2007


Send money to people without the resources to leave.
posted by thirteenkiller at 9:22 AM on April 27, 2007


Thanks for the post, important reading for all of us.

And, I hate the fact that the first four posts in this thread seemed to be jokes..

I certainly didn't find anything to joke about after I read that...
posted by HuronBob at 9:30 AM on April 27, 2007


And, I hate the fact that the first four posts in this thread seemed to be jokes..

The fact that someone cracks a joke about something does not nullify its relevance. People tend to joke about unpleasant situations because they don't have direct control over them and it is usually a more healthy release than imposing dourness.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:33 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


... I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend...
posted by taosbat at 9:39 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Burhanistan...

"The fact that someone cracks a joke about something does not nullify its relevance. "

I can't agree with that. There are some things in our culture, our history, our lives that are beyond humor. To make jokes about those events lessens the truth to be learned and distracts us from the urge to solve the problem. I could make the list, but so could you.

I put the tragedy of Iraq on that list a long time ago.
posted by HuronBob at 9:42 AM on April 27, 2007


Huron, please publish this list of yours so the public at large may be sure not to joke about anything on it and thereby offend you.
posted by dmd at 9:51 AM on April 27, 2007


tbqh that comment was beyond worth reading
posted by 29 at 9:59 AM on April 27, 2007


dmd.. I don't recall saying I was "offended", evidently you didn't read my comment correctly, scroll up and give it another shot.

And, as for the "list", we each have our own... If you don't, then more power to you, you're a fortunate person.
posted by HuronBob at 10:08 AM on April 27, 2007


HuronBob is taking life and comments posted on MeFi a little too seriously. Chill out, guy, or you'll never be able to poop right.
posted by 29 at 10:20 AM on April 27, 2007


Amberglow's excerpt is so telling.

Some pro-war Americans are saying, "hey, it turns out the Iraqis just love carnage, what can you do."

False.

Sunnis and Shia coexisted in that country-- not always peacefully, but they coexisted, probably better than Europe's Catholics and Protestants in the past 350-400 years.

But when you demolish a state-- even a manifestly evil state like Saddam's-- and replace it with nothing, people will turn, in the ensuing chaos, to clan, tribe, ethnicity, whatever they can to try to get some semblance of security.
posted by ibmcginty at 10:20 AM on April 27, 2007


I can't agree with that. There are some things in our culture, our history, our lives that are beyond humor.

I've seen humor as a coping mechanism for some pretty bleak stuff -- inmates making fun of kapos behind their backs at Auschwitz, my Dad joking about the night German scouts overran his OP and he had to play infantryman, that kind of thing. Just sayin'.
posted by pax digita at 11:03 AM on April 27, 2007


pax digita, you make an excellent point..and I agree.. If you've lived the event, been the victim, you've earned the right to laugh about it all you want...whatever works for you..

I'm guessing that the first four posters here don't live in Iraq...but, hell, I could be wrong, in which case I owe all of them an apology!
posted by HuronBob at 11:14 AM on April 27, 2007


Or could it just be that everything is funny in some way and if you can't handle it there's probably a place where you can go to make some fingerpaints which encapsulate your outrage and condemnation?
posted by rob paxon at 11:46 AM on April 27, 2007


I'm glad she's still alive. I'd been wondering about her.
posted by malaprohibita at 12:13 PM on April 27, 2007


everything is funny in some way

only if your a psychopath or otherwise lacking empathy or perspective.

Boy, August 6, 1945, ha ha ha. . .

On the blogger Tacitus' comment section, back in 2003 before we went in, I said this:

"I'm going to laugh my @ss off when the end result of this is the Allahu Akbar party taking over the goverment of Baghdad".

I'm not laughing now.

Riverbend's family is joining the long list of Westernized/secularized, affluent Iraqi bloggers, both pro-neocon and pro-Iraqi, that have bugged out of their country.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 12:17 PM on April 27, 2007


Since before the invasion, I've been convinced that there is no military solution to terrorism or long-term Mid East peace. And I've read and sympathized with Riverbend for quite a while.

But lately, her tone has changed and she seems to blame the US almost exclusively for the suffering going on in Iraq. Rather than criticize those that represent her, she displays the loyalty to sect that is the root of most of the current violence in Iraq.
I remember Baghdad before the war- one could live anywhere. We didn't know what our neighbors were- we didn't care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it- depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.
Perhaps that was true in Baghdad. The mass graves and torture chambers full of Shi'ites and Kurds, even if sensationalized, tell a different story. The political and/or sectarian distinctions in Iraq are not new. Occupation and a desire for retribution for past wrong-doings have brought out the worst in Iraqi society. The US did not bring the sectarian militias and are truly powerless to control them now.

To the extent Riverbend's views can be seen as generalizable, it really speaks to why the US must withdraw. While the US can be blamed for causing and not doing enough to prepare for a foreseeable problem, but I don't think the US can't be blamed for failing to provide a solution. The Iraqi people have to be willing to stand up and do that. People lead, leaders follow.

I want offer my wishes to Riverbend for a peaceful and successful journey. I hope she to continues to blog.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 1:56 PM on April 27, 2007


"Or could it just be that everything is funny in some way... "

Really Rob?

Let me know when someone invades your country, kills a member of your family, rapes another member, and puts a wall down the middle of your city...

Tell me how much you laugh at that..

until then, stfu.
posted by HuronBob at 3:04 PM on April 27, 2007


I really disagree, McGuillicuddy. As I wrote above, zero government presence = chaos; and in chaos, people band together any way they can to try to find security.

If the state ceased to function in Dallas or LA or New York, I submit that racial tensions would flare up as people tried to maintain their own security. If, through happenstance or through a committed enough number of wrongdoers, violence persisted for four years, I bet that race might be the most important thing on people's minds every day. And while you could point to past racial tensions, the fact is that the violence, however entrenced, however atrocious, would not have happened but for the breakdown of governance.

We had in Iraq a population traumatized by decades of brutal dictatorship; and we did not plan for how to keep order and provide for basics of life. Everyone with expertise about nationbuilding warned us; but the administration prefers party allegiance to expertise.

Also, the mass graves were Saddam's doing. They speak to his evil, but not to implaccable, eternal hatred among ethnic groups.
posted by ibmcginty at 3:08 PM on April 27, 2007


Also, they weren't that massive.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:42 PM on April 27, 2007


Also, they weren't that massive.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:42 PM on April 27, 2007


As Riverbend's family along with millions of others prepares to leave Iraq if they haven't fled already, another family gives us these absurd performances: ... There he was, our goddamned President, shakin' his ass in the Rose Garden, and he may as well have taken a shit at the eternal flame at Arlington. ...the First Lady decided it's all about her and her man: "[N]o one suffers more than their president and I do when we watch this." She followed this up by saying that people need to know about her husband, "I hope they do know the burden, the worry that's on his shoulders every single day for our troops. And I think they do. I mean, I think if they don't, they're not seeing what the real responsibilities of our president are." And later, the same goddamn day, the President danced like a lemur with cerebral palsy to show how burdened he is. ...
posted by amberglow at 4:08 PM on April 27, 2007


We should make the Bushes live in Baghdad, in a Sadr city neighborhood. We should make all of them live there.
posted by amberglow at 4:10 PM on April 27, 2007


Mass graves are a difficult topic, especially because the Administration used them as part of the bogus justification for war. However, in kirkaracha's links Human Rights Watch estimated in May 2003 that 290,000 people were "missing". From the article, written in 2004:
Of 270 suspected grave sites identified in the last year, 55 have now been examined, revealing, according to the best estimates that The Observer has been able to obtain, around 5,000 bodies.
Of course, there was a sectarian element to tactics used by Saddam's entire Baathist regime to repress the population. This is not a genie the US invasion let out of the bottle, nor is it one they can coax back in. Saudi Arabia and Iran are conducting a proxy war via an Iraqi civil war, and US options are of limited effectiveness or exceedingly drastic.

I don't think we disagree, ibmcginty. Or I'm unsure on which point we disagree. The US is at fault and Iraqis are behaving as one would expect them to. It is disheartening that intelligent and moderate Iraqis like Riverbend have to make the difficult decision to leave. It is exactly those people Iraq needs most if it is going to rebuild.
posted by McGuillicuddy at 4:41 PM on April 27, 2007


It is disheartening that intelligent and moderate Iraqis like Riverbend have to make the difficult decision to leave. It is exactly those people Iraq needs most if it is going to rebuild.

Isn't it us who officially decimated the middle and professional classes anyway when we invaded, by "deBaathification" of all government and teaching, etc? What were those families to do, when previously for decades to have a good job you had to join the party? Of course families are leaving, and good for them. I wish we could have helped them get settled here or welcomed them or something, before so much blood was spilled.
posted by amberglow at 5:12 PM on April 27, 2007


...I wish I have enough money to leave this country because I cant stand this suffering and I don’t want my sweet 7 months son to live in such mess. My wife asked me yesterday if I have any plans to leave the country. I told her that I wish to but I don’t have enough money and beside, where shall I go? ...
posted by amberglow at 5:14 PM on April 27, 2007


I'm all for air dropping the bushies naked into Sadr City and see how they do as retribution for all the pain and suffering they've caused over the years.
posted by mk1gti at 5:38 PM on April 27, 2007


Maybe not, McGuillicuddy.

The sentence I most disagreed with of yours was, "Occupation and a desire for retribution for past wrong-doings have brought out the worst in Iraqi society."

To my mind, effective occupation-- occupation that was conducted with policing, counterinsurgency, and nationbuilding knowledge, rather than wishful thinking-- would have prevented a great deal of the violence that we're seeing.

I think it's more about chaos than retribution.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:01 PM on April 27, 2007


We dismantled everything about Iraq that worked, and didn't replace it. They had had a secular society with a thriving middle class and one of the best records for women in the region--now they have a theocracy in the making, with various sects killing each other daily.
posted by amberglow at 8:10 PM on April 27, 2007


I sincerely believe that George Bush will burn in whatever hell he believes in because of what he has done to these people. And he'll have a look of confusion and dismay on his face that will communicate that he was too much of an idiot to even understand what he had done or why it was wrong.
posted by HuronBob at 5:42 AM on April 28, 2007


Naw, hell's too good for him. Burning in hell informs one that there is a heaven. People like him are cut off from everything and wander a frozen wasteland alone and clueless.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:20 AM on April 28, 2007


very related: Rebuilt Iraq Projects Found Crumbling
posted by amberglow at 11:20 AM on April 28, 2007


Riverbend leaving; Harry don't go!
posted by taosbat at 12:40 PM on April 28, 2007


Rebuilt Iraq Projects Found Crumbling

That's just the ones that are safe enough for us to inspect...I'm sure the ones we can't get to are another story.
posted by taosbat at 2:09 PM on April 28, 2007


Aw man - this is sad. hers has been one of the consistent tragic voices from Iraq that I have followed since shock and awe. I hope fortunes turn for them ...
posted by specialk420 at 4:16 PM on April 28, 2007


Hundreds celebrate Saddam Hussein's 70th birthday
posted by taosbat at 11:13 PM on April 28, 2007


Iraqi refugees not welcome in U.S. post-9/11-- “Before the 2001 terrorist attacks, the United States accepted several thousand Iraqi refugees a year; since then, and amid heightened security requirements, that number dropped to several hundred. So far this year, just 68 have been resettled.” In total, “an estimated 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes during the four years of war.”
posted by amberglow at 1:25 PM on April 30, 2007


Silber: ... even if we left Iraq within the next few months and made all those reparations that are possible, as we should and must, we must never think there will be forgiveness for what we have done. ...
posted by amberglow at 2:37 PM on April 30, 2007


"cauldron of chaos"
posted by taosbat at 12:23 PM on May 1, 2007


ABC’s Paul Harvey Compares ‘Women And Children’ Killed In Afghanistan To 9/11 Hijackers

I wnder how he feels about 'civilians' in Iraq.
posted by homunculus at 12:58 AM on May 4, 2007


Mission Accomplished
posted by amberglow at 2:33 PM on May 5, 2007


Paul Harvey needs to get mauled by a bear.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:36 PM on May 5, 2007


In a new video posted today on the Internet, al Qaeda's number two man, Ayman al Zawahiri, mocks the bill passed by Congress setting a timetable for the pullout of U.S. troops in Iraq.

"This bill will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American forces which we have caught in a historic trap," Zawahiri says in answer to a question posed to him an interviewer.

Continuing in the same tone, Zawahiri says, "We ask Allah that they only get out of it after losing 200,000 to 300,000 killed, in order that we give the spillers of blood in Washington and Europe an unforgettable lesson..."
posted by taosbat at 3:08 PM on May 5, 2007


And Bush is doing exactly what Zawahiri wants, as usual.
posted by amberglow at 6:57 PM on May 5, 2007


[image]
posted by taosbat at 11:13 PM on May 5, 2007


Iraqis jail many innocents, U.S. says
posted by taosbat at 11:42 AM on May 6, 2007


that image is perfect, taos--the fact that all along we've been doing what he wanted (and that it absolutely perfectly coincides with what the neocons and Cheney wanted) is the most unreported important thing about the Bush Administration, i think.
posted by amberglow at 3:51 PM on May 7, 2007


I'm glad you like it, amberglow. When I first started e-mailing that picture around I upset some folks. It seems like that was a lifetime ago.
posted by taosbat at 4:09 PM on May 7, 2007


Sunni demand could unravel Iraqi government
posted by taosbat at 4:57 PM on May 7, 2007


(like there is a functioning govt at all)
posted by amberglow at 6:26 PM on May 7, 2007


cynic
posted by taosbat at 6:29 PM on May 7, 2007


seriously...they're taking the whole summer off, and i've read that they never even get enough people assembled during regular sessions to actually do anything anyway.
posted by amberglow at 6:31 PM on May 7, 2007


I thought they were supposed to pass some legislation giving Big Oil neo-colonial rights to Iraq's fields before they went on vacation. Hmmmmm? What about that!?!
posted by taosbat at 6:37 PM on May 7, 2007


one of the groups (Sunni i think) already said they're going to stop or kill it--it's not fair to them apparently. It's not fair to any Iraqi, from what i've read.
posted by amberglow at 6:58 PM on May 7, 2007


I heard that same thing.
posted by taosbat at 11:12 PM on May 7, 2007


NYT has a big story on the exodus: ... the collapse of Iraq had created a refugee crisis, and that crisis was threatening to precipitate the collapse of the region. The numbers dwarfed anything that the Middle East had seen since the dislocations brought on by the establishment of Israel in 1948. In Syria, there were estimated to be 1.2 million Iraqi refugees. There were another 750,000 in Jordan, 100,000 in Egypt, 54,000 in Iran, 40,000 in Lebanon and 10,000 in Turkey. The overall estimate for the number of Iraqis who had fled Iraq was put at two million by Guterres. The number of displaced Iraqis still inside Iraq’s borders was given as 1.9 million. This would mean about 15 percent of Iraqis have left their homes. ...
posted by amberglow at 7:52 AM on May 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Mr. President, you did not listen," General Batiste.
posted by taosbat at 10:51 AM on May 13, 2007


Harry won't go.
posted by taosbat at 9:15 AM on May 16, 2007


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