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Riverbend resurfaces in Syria
posted by dinsdale (36 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Who is "riverbend"?
posted by mrnutty at 4:37 PM on September 6, 2007


Just came here to post this. She hadn't posted since April, and I was getting worried. Alhamdullilah!
posted by ottereroticist at 4:40 PM on September 6, 2007


Cool, was wondering what happened to her.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:41 PM on September 6, 2007


I was wondering as well; thanks for posting.
posted by frobozz at 4:45 PM on September 6, 2007


I for one thank the powers that be that she is fine
she was my one ray of hope in that hell hole we made
posted by Elim at 4:56 PM on September 6, 2007


What mrnutty said.
posted by brautigan at 4:59 PM on September 6, 2007


And Omar of "Iraq-the-Model" has made it out, too. Let Freedom Reign!
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:13 PM on September 6, 2007


Brautigan & mrnutty: riverbend is an Iraqi blogger. She's not posted anything since April, so many were concerned. Dinsdale links the blog up top - start at the beginning to get the jist of it.
posted by swell at 5:18 PM on September 6, 2007


And Omar of "Iraq-the-Model" has made it out, too. Let Freedom Reign!

IM UR LEADERZ BOOKMARKZ
HE LIKEZ TO IRAQ THE MODEL

posted by Poolio at 5:23 PM on September 6, 2007


Before clicking the link, I thought, "Since when did Riverdance go missing?" Clearly, I'm out of touch. Or can't read.
posted by jal0021 at 5:25 PM on September 6, 2007


Sorry for not providing background material for the FPP. Short answer: nobody knows exactly who she is, save her closest confidantes.

She is a young, educated Iraqi woman who has been posting periodic reports since shortly after the American invasion. Sometimes just vignettes of life under siege, blogging during the one hour of electricity what she was experienced in the other 23 - the rationing, the rumors, the checkpoints, and towards the end, the steady encircling violence that finally forced her and her family to flee. She announced this back in April and hasn't been heard from since - till now. (Blogosphere breathes collective sigh of relief)

previous mefi thread
posted by dinsdale at 5:46 PM on September 6, 2007


Just was listening to NPR and Since Jordan has closed it's borders now, Syria is the only place allowing people in without visas. That's changing.

Now that they're over the border, they still have a long ways to go. NPR had a second story regarding obstacles in coming to America.
posted by Eekacat at 5:55 PM on September 6, 2007


Hope opportunity comes their way.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:56 PM on September 6, 2007


Alhamdulillah indeed.

Nothing has illuminated for me the enormity of the disaster in Iraq like Riverbend's writings. Having followed her blog since early 2003--even before the Day of Shock and Awe--I have agonized to read how this vital and eloquent young Arab woman, a living testament to the success of a secular Iraqi society, became a prisoner in her own home--and then a refugee from her own distressful country. Even as her former life vanished irretrievably, her writings were incandescent and corrosive by turns, an unforgettable voice of a torture victim who is still able to articulate the pain of her sufferings as they are administered by the torturers. When her blog would go dark, I, like many of her admirers, feared the worst.

It is a blessing River has escaped the ruin of Iraq. I hope she gets a chance to shelter in the United States. It is only fitting that the country that made her a refugee grant refuge to her and her family.
posted by rdone at 6:01 PM on September 6, 2007


Riverbend won the 2006 Lettre Ulysses Award for the Art of Reportage.
posted by Poolio at 6:03 PM on September 6, 2007


That is quite a pompous award name. I'm surprised it's not "Awarde" and "Arte".
posted by smackfu at 6:18 PM on September 6, 2007


I am disappointed by the lack of earth science in this post. Please delete this post and replace it with one about subterranean aquifers.
posted by Eideteker at 6:21 PM on September 6, 2007 [4 favorites]


I like reading her blog, as much as anyone can enjoy reading about Iraq these days. However, one thing to keep in mind about Riverbend is that, while we don't know exactly who she is, it's fairly certain that she's a (comparatively) rich, educated Sunni who was very invested in the old order. Her horror and disgust at the US' ignorance and stupidity only slightly exceeds her horror and disgust that someone actually put those filthy Shiite rabble in suits and let them into the halls of governance.

Every once in a while she remembers that her mostly liberal readership doesn't like that sort of talk and throws in a cogent observation about the universal suffering of Iraqis. But my overall impression is that she'll never be happy with anything the US does, because what she wants (the restoration of her kinsmen as the proper and exclusive ruling class in Iraq) isn't going to happen.
posted by xthlc at 6:24 PM on September 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


I just got turned onto her blog by the NYT today. How goddamned depressing.

(Flipped over to Foxnews.com for ironic relief. Headline: Bush: 'We're Kicking A**' in Iraq.' Their asterisks, not mine.)

Does anyone know of any other good on-the-ground accounts of life in occupied areas?
posted by bicyclefish at 6:26 PM on September 6, 2007


Back in January, Christian Caryl reviewed a published version of Riverbend's blog in the New York Review of Books.
posted by russilwvong at 6:34 PM on September 6, 2007


Riverbend mentioned a wall being built by US forces around the Sunni area of Adhamiya in Baghdad. At the time of that particular posting (April), there were a number of news stories about the wall, but I can't find any followup. Does anyone know: did that wall go up, or was the project scrapped?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:35 PM on September 6, 2007


xth: I got the impression her anti-shiite "bias" was largely due to the losing of the freedoms of a Westernized/modernized society (wrt attitudes and expectations towards women) in the aftermath of our intervention.

I only read 50% or so of her stuff, but I don't think she had a problem with the secular shia per se:

Abu Ammar shook his head and sighed, “Well if we’re New York or we’re Baghdad or we’re hell, it’s not going to make a difference to me. I’ll still sell my vegetables here.”

I nodded and handed over the bags to be weighed. “Well… they’re going to turn us into another Iran. You know list 169 means we might turn into Iran.” Abu Ammar pondered this a moment as he put the bags on the old brass scale and adjusted the weights.

“And is Iran so bad?” He finally asked. Well no, Abu Ammar, I wanted to answer, it’s not bad for *you* - you’re a man… if anything your right to several temporary marriages, a few permanent ones and the right to subdue females will increase. Why should it be so bad? Instead I was silent. It’s not a good thing to criticize Iran these days. I numbly reached for the bags he handed me, trying to rise out of that sinking feeling that overwhelmed me when the results were first made public.

It’s not about a Sunni government or a Shia government- it’s about the possibility of an Iranian-modeled Iraq. Many Shia are also appalled with the results of the elections. There’s talk of Sunnis being marginalized by the elections but that isn’t the situation. It’s not just Sunnis- it’s moderate Shia and secular people in general who have been marginalized.

posted by Heywood Mogroot at 6:50 PM on September 6, 2007


I get it now! She was airdropped by the Israelis!
posted by limon at 6:55 PM on September 6, 2007


Female Score: 2199
Male Score: 2739

The Gender Genie thinks the author of this passage is: male!
posted by fandango_matt at 7:23 PM on September 6, 2007


Has anyone confirmed if this is real? These entries read more like those of a European expat than an Iraqi woman.
posted by fandango_matt at 7:33 PM on September 6, 2007


What are Iraqi women supposed to write like?
posted by Liosliath at 8:01 PM on September 6, 2007


"Has anyone confirmed if this is real?"

IIRC the other non-PNAC/warblogger/PajamasMedia-sanctioned Iraqi blogger (Where is Raed?) vouched for her.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 8:24 PM on September 6, 2007


Great to see her back. Her blog is one of the best most powerful things on the internet. The fact that her thoughtful humanity strikes so many readers, even here, as somehow unreal is sadly telling.
posted by washburn at 9:21 PM on September 6, 2007


I read her writings occasionally from the time of the invasion onwards, until I got sick of her anti-US nationalism. xthlc speaks the truth: she is a Sunni nationalist first and foremost, and an anti-democrat, and has always been pro-destabilization of Iraq if it meant defeat for US forces.

She has done much, much less for her country than she believes.
posted by dydecker at 9:33 PM on September 6, 2007


curious, dydecker. I just saw her living in the world as it was, not as we wished it would be.

The US went in in bad faith on a false pretext, screwed up the occupation six ways from Sunday under Jerry and his Heritage Foundation interns, and then proceeded to put Iranian-associated clerics in power while we vacillated between killing, raping, and destroying Shiite, Sunni, and AQiM enemies.

Some bitterness from her would be entirely justified, in my book.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:00 PM on September 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


I read her writings occasionally from the time of the invasion onwards, until I got sick of her anti-US nationalism.
Funny, I've read her almost from the beginning and felt she was extremely moderate, given that the United States came in and destroyed her country and her life.

But heck, there are lots of Republicans who are angry at the Iraqis because they aren't grateful enough to the US for "liberating" them.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:59 PM on September 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


She has done much, much less for her country than she believes.

Please explain.
posted by homunculus at 11:20 PM on September 6, 2007


she is a Sunni nationalist first and foremost, and an anti-democrat, and has always been pro-destabilization of Iraq if it meant defeat for US forces.

Is there some other blog written by some other Iraqi woman in Baghdad also called Riverbend? What are the chances?
posted by chillmost at 12:54 AM on September 7, 2007


No RSS feed?
posted by public at 2:36 AM on September 7, 2007


This makes me sad to read. Sad for Riverbend, sad for America, sad for Iraq. What in God's name have we done?
posted by Doohickie at 7:57 AM on September 7, 2007


xthlc is right. River is great blogger but she can barely hide her Sunni Baathist bias. But I wonder how much of that bias is imposed on her. I doubt in her surroundings she could admit that every single suicide attack in Iraq for that past 4 years has been by perpetrated by Sunnis. This is a common theme among middle east bloggers, they insist they and everyone around them is neutral but their criticism is always toward US, Israel, and certain other ethnic groups that God has forsaken.
posted by StarForce5 at 7:58 AM on September 7, 2007


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