In two weeks of blood and fire, one of the greatest intellectual
and cultural legacies
the world had ever seen came to an end. Crushed under the hooves of a mighty foe (in one case literally
), a dynasty
, an empire
, a city
, and a library
all disappeared. It was perhaps the swiftest and most complete collapse of a civilization ever, still felt to this day
. Now, how about for some context? [more inside]
Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here
is a project initiated by San Francisco bookseller and poet Beau Beausoleil that began as a response to the 2007 bombing [previously on MeFi]
of the Baghdad bookselling center Al-Mutanabbi Street. After the attack the authorities made an effort to revive the area
but recently the government has begun to make life difficult
for the booksellers and intends to turn the street into an animal market
. The Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here project
consists of book art created by 260 artists and authors from all over the world
, but also includes essays
, some of which have been put online as videos
. You can see a lot of artists' books online at the Jaffe Center for Book Arts
and the Centre for Fine Print Research
). The history of the project was told in a recent essay in World Literature Today
by Persis M. Karim.
A farewell to Yasser.
The Times of London's driver of seven years in Baghdad was killed in a bombing this week. This was his story. [more inside]
Baghdad Zoo and Entertainment Experience
- “massive American-style amusement park that will feature a skateboard park, rides, a concert theatre and a museum. It is being designed by the firm that developed Disneyland.” Here's a quick roundup
of some commentary
. (last link with concept design sketches)
"The neighborhood of Bab al Sheik
dates from a time, more than a thousand years ago, when Baghdad ruled the Islamic world... Ten centuries later, Bab al Sheik is less grand, but still extraordinary: it has been spared the sectarian killing that has gutted other neighborhoods, and Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and Christians live together here with unusual ease." A NY Times
story (by Sabrina Tavernise and Karim Hilmi) about interesting people in an interesting place. (Print version
for them as wants one.)
Iranian envoy wounds 'confirmed':
The head of the International Red Cross in Tehran, Peter Stoeker, says he saw wounds on an Iranian diplomat who has alleged that US forces in Iraq tortured him. There were marks on Jalal Sharafi's feet, legs, back and nose. [photos
On 4 February soldiers from the Iraqi army 36th Commando battalion in Baghdad, considered to be under American control, had seized Jalal Sharafi, while he was carrying a videogame
, a gift for his daughter. Read more about the US secret operations against Iranians in Iraq in an exclusive report
by The Independent.
Web documentary series about the life of 20 somethings living in Baghdad - an interesting addition to the list of more famous web threads on life in Baghdad.
Construction of the largest embassy on Earth
will shortly be completed in Iraq. Roughly the size of Vatican City, and previously estimated to cost nearly 1 billion, (later reduced to a mere 592 million
), this remarkable feat of engineering "...will have its own water wells, electricity plant and wastewater-treatment facility, 'systems to allow 100 percent independence from city utilities,' says the report..."
Baghdad: Mapping the violence.
Interactive flash based bomb data navigator from the bbc.
The Bookseller's Story, Ending Much Too Soon.
Anthony Shadid of the Washington Post
writes about Mohammed Hayawi, "a bald bear of a man," who ran the Renaissance Bookstore on "Baghdad's storied Mutanabi Street." Back in 2005, Phillip Robertson wrote a Salon article
about Al Mutanabbi Street, "Baghdad's legendary literary cafe, the Shabandar, " and Hajji Qais Anni's stationery store: "Hajji Qais had been on Al Mutanabbi street for 10 years and the vendors all knew him... He wore a beard and was also known as a devout Sunni who had no problem hiring Shia workers or spending time with Christian colleagues." Both Hayawi and Hajji Qais were killed by bombs, the cafe has been gutted, and the street that "embodied a generation-old saying: Cairo writes, Beirut publishes, Baghdad reads" is no longer its old self. "When the Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258, it was said that the Tigris River ran red one day, black another. The red came from the blood of nameless victims, massacred by ferocious horsemen. The black came from the ink of countless books from libraries and universities. Last Monday, the bomb on Mutanabi Street detonated at 11:40 a.m. The pavement was smeared with blood. Fires that ensued sent up columns of dark smoke, fed by the plethora of paper." Two views of a part of Baghdad that doesn't make the news much.
Alive in Baghdad
is a video blog that began when filmmaker Brian Conley visited Iraq in 2005. He has provided several local reporters with video equipment and training to produce weekly posts of first hand accounts from ordinary Iraqis, like this tour of two houses after American raids
, or this interview with a Sadr City doctor
It took a long time for many achievements of the ancient world to be duplicated. The first city to reach one million people was Baghdad in 775 CE
(or possibly Rome
nine hundred years before), a feat that would not be duplicated until London and Beijing grew in the 19th century
. The largest building in the world was the Great Pyramid
for forty centuries until the 19th
, and the world's current longest canal
is over two millenia old. Some mysteries still remain, such as the formula of Greek Fire
, but it looks like a different ancient weapon's secret has been discovered, that of Damascus steel
. The key ingredient -- nanotech
"I'm not here for the Iraqis. I'm here for George Bush."
How the reconstruction of Iraq was bungled by inexperienced staffers and officials who passed the GOP's loyalty test -- including their views on Roe v. Wade. A WashPost excerpt from Rajiv Chandrasekaran's new exposé Imperial Life in the Emerald City
. (Corruption in Iraq previously discussed here.)
The practical future of the country formerly known as Iraq.
[NewsFilter, but a significant acknowledgement of something long-in-coming.]
Baghdad is calm, except it's neither.
So this guy Howard Kaloogian
is running for Congress in California, and he supports the troops. Thinks they're making all sorts of progress that simply isn't reported by the evil lib'rul mainstream media, so he went to see Baghdad for himself, and posted a picture
of a calm Baghdad street - See? No terrorists here!
Except that certain sleuthing types
found something awfully fishy about that photo...
A Dweller in Mesopotamia.
Donald Maxwell was Official Artist to the Admiralty during World War I, and the end of the war found him in what was then called Mesopotamia (now Iraq); he compiled the sketches and paintings he did there into a book which Project Gutenberg has put online. I'm posting it for the frequently beautiful images, but the text is interesting too. He says Baghdad and Basra don't live up to the Westerner's romantic preconceptions ("The first general impression of Basra is that of an unending series of quays along a river not unlike the Thames at Tilbury"), but he also describes age-old scenes that are now gone for good. (Via wood s lot
, one of the few sites I visit every day.)
'...Today, such famous sites as the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, the ziggurat at Ur, the temple precinct at Babylon, and a ninth-century spiral minaret at Samarra have been scarred by violence, while equally important ancient sites, particularly in the southern provinces, are being ravaged by looters who work day and night to fuel an international art market hungry for antiquities. Historic districts in urban areas have also suffered from vandalism, looting, and artillery fire. In response to such widespread damage and continuing threats to our collective cultural heritage and the significance of the sites at risk, World Monument Fund
has taken the unprecedented step of including the entire country of Iraq
on its 2006 list of 100 Most Endangered Sites
.'The 2003- Iraq War & Archaeology
The Smash of Civilizations
Logistical issues threaten to undermine Iraqi elections. "I just can't see how we can hold these elections," an American consultant working with Iraqi election planners said on the condition of anonymity."
I found out about this story, btw, from someone working on the elections in Baghdad. They write:
"We've got a leak. Someone, an American, is talking to the press. And ___ is *pissed*. It's a good article, though... er, even though I'm not commenting on it. Or expressing an opinion. But if you've got any interest in these elections, you should read it."
They also cited several of the problems they are having:
"Because our meal times are regulated by (KBR), it only allows us about five hours a day . . . with our Iraqi counterparts. Iraqis bolt for home at around 3 PM to avoid being shot in the head or blown up . . . After a mortar attack, car bomb, or any other security related exercise, the US military shuts down the Iraqna mobile phone network . . . We have become the focal point for . . . everything that the Iraqi staff cannot handle . . . which includes getting people (and) equipment into the building, getting water (and) lunch for day laborers, preventing mass resignations due to salary disputes, replacing windows broken by car bombs, removing trash, cleaning toilets, fixing locks, moving (and unpacking) boxes . . . It makes it difficult to get our actual jobs done, although I have forgotten what those are."
Iraq says 'impossible' explosives taken before regime fall
Bush: wrong before. Wrong again..."A top Iraqi science official said it was impossible that 350 tonnes of high explosives could have been smuggled out of a military site south of Baghdad before the regime fell last year...."
"Iraqi blogger" indulges in disinformation.
"Sam" of http://hammorabi.blogspot.com
has graphic pictures on his site of children killed by Zarqawi terrorists in Baghdad on Thursday. Horrible and tragic, indeed. Even more tragic, however, is that a Reuters camera crew filmed their identical twins
, who died that same day after a US airstrike in Fallujah
. Is "Sam" a victim of US disinformation, or is "Sam" a practicioner? Could "Sam" be an uncle, perhaps?!
Yesterday, Mazen al-Tomasi, a reporter for Al-Arabiya, was broadcasting live from the scene
of a carbombed Bradley Fighting Vehicle, which had attracted a crowd of locals. While making his report, a sudden noise came from behind Mazen
Two Apache helicopters flew in overhead, and one of them started attacking the crowd
, with their guns. The crowd, which included several small children, tried to run away. A helicopter launched a missile...
Mazen al-Tomasi was struck by shrapnel
from the blast on live television. His cameraman, Seif Fouad, fell down from the force of the explosion. Mazen's blood spattered across the camera's lens
and the screams of the dying and injured were heard. Mazen screamed to Seif for help: "Seif, Seif! I'm going to die. I'm going to die."
Seif grabbed Mazen and started to pull him out of harm's way. Suddenly, another missile was launched, and Seif was hit by shrapnel in the leg and abdomen. Seif, seriously wounded, watched his friend Mazen die soon afterwards. Twelve were killed, 61 wounded in the attack.
A US military spokesman said the helicopters opened fire after coming under attack from the crowd, and that they fired to prevent looters from stripping the vehicle. That said, the vehicle was burning too badly to be stripped, and the television footage showed no evidence of any shooting from the ground, or indeed, any armed Iraqis whatsoever. The full video of this is was seen by millions of Arabs and is apparently something that Reuters has the rights to -- Saif works for Reuters -- but something tells me that it will never make the evening news.
An eyewitness artist's report from the Iraqi capital. Amazing watercolors.
"Frankly, part of our problem is a lot of the press are afraid to travel very much,
so they sit in Baghdad and they publish rumors," Paul Wolfowitz declared Tuesday - a slur that didn't sit well with a lot of journalists risking their lives in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq. After callouts from Howard Kurtz, Maureen Dowd
and Editor & Publisher's new rabble-rousing chief, Greg Mitchell,
Wolfowitz has submitted an apology. (PDF version.)
Ever helpful, Wonkette supplies a translation. (mostly via Romenesko)
How to Get Out of Iraq
by Peter GalbraithMuch of what went wrong was avoidable. Focused on winning the political battle to start a war, the Bush administration failed to anticipate the postwar chaos in Iraq. Administration strategy seems to have been based on a hope that Iraq's bureaucrats and police would simply transfer their loyalty to the new authorities, and the country's administration would continue to function. All experience in Iraq suggested that the collapse of civil authority was the most likely outcome, but there was no credible planning for this contingency. In fact, the US effort to remake Iraq never recovered from its confused start when it failed to prevent the looting of Baghdad in the early days of the occupation.
Where is Raed?
Salam Pax's pal Raed Jarrar now has his own Blogspot site, Raed in the Middle
, after some guest posts on Salam's blog. Foreboding political commentary (scroll down to "Three Smart Political Steps") on how AlSadr is making shrewd moves to unite Sunnis and Shi'as against American forces. In addition, Raed translates diary entries from his mother Faiza
, who also Teaches you Arabic
The battle the US wants to provoke
Make no mistake: this is not the "civil war" that Washington has been predicting will break out between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds. Rather, it is a war provoked by the US occupation authority and waged by its forces against the growing number of Shia who support Moqtada al-Sadr (by Naomi Klein in Baghdad).
The Beneficiaries of Saddam's Oil Vouchers: The List of 270
(This is the first xlation I could find). The following report from MEMRI's Baghdad office is a translation of an article which appeared in the Iraqi daily Al-Mada, which obtained lists of 270 companies, organizations, and individuals awarded allocations (vouchers) of crude oil by Saddam Hussein's regime. The beneficiaries reside in 50 countries: 16 Arab, 17 European, 9 Asian, and the rest from sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. Only a portion of the 270 recipients are listed and identified.
Nightline: Baghdad blogger, Salam Pax,
gives Ted Koeppel an interview and a tour of Baghdad.
Bush in Baghdad, Behind the Scenes.
Drudge has posted Washington Post reporter Mike Allen's raw notes from the 2-day secret whirlwind trip to Iraq. It reads like a script from "The West Wing." (The stripped-down finished article appears
in Friday's Post.
) Meanwhile, some in the journalism field are pissed,
says Howard Kurtz. Says one: "Reporters are in the business of telling the truth. They can't decide it's okay to lie sometimes because it serves a larger truth or good cause."
Iraqi official shot dead over parking violation. U.S. military officials said Tuesday that U.S. soldiers shot to death the chairman of Sadr City's governing council during a heated argument this week.... Officials said the quarrel got under way Monday when the chairman, Mohannad Ghazi al Kaabi, tried to park his car near the District Advisory Council building in an area closed to traffic.
Do you suppose this might have a negative impact on public opinion in Iraq?
US soldier kills rare tiger in Iraq zoo
...during a drunken night of revelry involving - you guessed it - feeding the animals. Geez, this occupation gets better every day.
“The Baghdad Bulletin is Iraq’s only English-language newsmagazine and one of the country’s only independent publications. The third issue (published Monday, July 7) is now being distributed across Iraq and in Jordan.” They have a short bit about how Chemical Ali may have escaped
Nuke components found in Baghdad back yard.
U.S. officials say it is no smoking gun but investigators point out that there is no way they would ever have found these components buried in a barrel in a back yard under a rose garden for 12 years unless someone such as this Iraqi scientist came forward.
The New Sculpture in Fardus Square:
"The last thing artists think about is politics. Politicians get paid to talk, that's the opposite of what artists do."
new baghdad blogger
Salim Pax's friend G. now has his own blog. The writing isn't nearly as tight, but the one entry so far is intresting
Salam Pax, the Baghdad Blogger
is finally tracked down
Oh never mind....
The vast majority of antiquities feared stolen or broken have been found inside the National Museum in Baghdad, according to American investigators who compiled an inventory over the weekend of the ransacked galleries. A total of 38 pieces, not tens of thousands, are now believed to be missing, according the Chicago Tribune. Can this be true? Registration required.
The Memory Hole: doctored photo?
'On 9 April 2003, the front page of the London Evening Standard (circulation: 400,000) contained a blurry image supposedly showing a throng of Iraqis in Baghdad celebrating the toppling of Saddam Hussein. What we are really looking at is an incredibly ham-fisted attempt at photo manipulation. ' Opinions?
Iraqi teen shares her diary of war
In an Iraqi teenager's youthful hand, Amal wrote her war diary, committing to the pages of her orange journal the emotions of a family at Baghdad's ground zero. Amal's diary - often written by lamplight using the floor as a table - charts how some Iraqis' thinking has been transformed in a month.
City Size Comparison
lets you, well, compare the relative sizes of various US cities side-by-side. The site also lets you compare US cities to Baghdad
, which "may be useful if you are trying to envision driving through, searching or invading Baghdad, but you've never actually been there."
"It's been a rough few days for the A-10,"
the pilot told her father after she landed, but she assured him that the A-10 'Warthog' is a "a durable and reliable plane." It. Sure. Is.
But the pilot brought it back from Baghdad in this condition with dead hydraulics, using only manual controls, and landed safely. The A-10 may be slower than birds
, but it's loved by the Army.
via The Cellar's Picture of the Day
A dissappearing history.
The National Museum of Iraq
recorded a history of civilizations that began to flourish in the fertile plains of Mesopotamia more than 7,000 years ago. But once American troops entered Baghdad in sufficient force to topple Saddam Hussein's government this week, it took only 48 hours for the museum to be destroyed, with at least 170,000 artifacts carried away by looters.
Euphoria in Baghdad •
In scenes reminiscent of the Cold War's final days
, citizens are filling the streets
, throwing flowers
, tearing down monuments
of Saddam Hussein
and any reminders of
his long, brutal
regime. As this is a moment of reckoning for many people, a lot of questions lie ahead: Was it a risk worth taking, despite the casualties? Could any amount of liberation and jubilation compensate for those casualties? Will this be a celebrated historical moment, or the staging ground for new aggressions
? However one feels about the war, it sure is good to see all the smiling Iraqi faces.