Iraq Bloggers Souring Sheldon Rampton

Iraq Bloggers Souring?

Sheldon Rampton of The Center for Media & Democracy kindly writes:

“In case this hasn’t crossed your viewfinder, you might want to check out recent developments with your old pals at Iraq the Model. Apparently they’re not very happy with the recent election results. Here’s an excerpt from Omar’s January 5 blog post:

“I think this is the darkest image we have conveyed from Iraq in more than two years but it is a fact that it hasn’t been this bad in Iraq ever since the 9th of April 2003.

The general sense of the public opinion in Iraq is that our politicians who we trusted proved to be unqualified for the responsibility.

Everyone I meet says he feels betrayed by the politicians who keep frustrating us with their incompetence and internal fighting over power.

Iraqis expressed optimism before the election and you read that on opinion polls and we could feel it here in the streets but I’m sure that if those opinion polls are repeated, we’ll see that a great deal of that optimism is gone now.”

And here’s an excerpt from Ali’s latest posting on the blog that he set up separately from his brothers:

“I wanted to say something about the elections results but things are still confusing to me and I can’t see any real light from the various possibilities ahead of us. I think there were huge violations and a fraud especially in the south and the north. This elections will cost Iraq and whoever decides to stand by her side at least 10 more years of suffering. The worst thing is that it could have prevented if some of us at least had paid attention to the real danger.”

Here’s another twist: Apparently an Ali Fadhil (the same name as the Iraqi dentist-blogger above) was the Iraqi journalist whose home was recently raided by U.S. soldiers:

“According to reports in the Guardian, U.S. troops on Jan. 8 stormed into the Baghdad home of journalist Ali Fadhil, firing bullets into the room where he and his wife and children were sleeping.

Fadhil was hooded and taken away for questioning. Troops also seized videotapes shot for a “Dispatches” program on Channel 4, a U.K. TV station. Fadhil has been released, but the tapes have not been returned.

The intended TV program is reported to involve claims that Iraqi funds held by Americans and British have been “misused or misappropriated.”

I came across this item on Jeff Jarvis’s website, where he expresses concern but concludes that the Ali Fadhil the dentist is not the same individual as Ali Fadhil the arrested journalist. Incidentally, Jarvis the Model of Civility has been largely silent about Iraq for awhile now, and the obnoxious triumphalism that used to characterize his commentaries seems rather muted. He still manages to be obnoxious on occasion, but the triumphalism is gone.

I’ve been visiting some Iraqi blogs lately as part of the research for my book, and my impression (based on unscientific sampling and possibly shaded by my own bias) is that a number of pro-occupation Iraqi bloggers have either gone silent or are sounding notes of alarm such as the following:

“The U.S. authorities are being too anxious to ingratiate themselves to the various Sunni groups in a way that I think is going too far. I hope to find the time to say something more detailed about this. They are not going to win over the terrorists, but they run a serious risk of loosing their fundamental base of support in the country . . .

The people are boiling and a general conflagration is just around the corner.”

Or:

“Anyway, I completely lost the ambition and hope about a secular Iraq where you can express your feelings and thoughts freely especially the religion, but it seems for the coming three centuries the Islamic acts of beheading in the name of God for fundamentalists in Sunnis, and the sadist whipping as a punishment(till death) for Shia will improve and continue enthusiastically. And might go further to cutting hands and keeping women inside the houses, who knows what is inside the dirty sick minds of the Islamic politicians..God damn them all . . .

We got out of Saddam’s prison and got in a new one with a ‘democratic’ door.. Dreams will never come true as long as Islam is ruling countries and fundamentalists are leading them. Iraq is far away from being free.”

And Zeyad at Healing Iraq hasn’t posted since October 15, when he wrote a terse note saying that he voted against the constitution:

If this trend continues, pretty soon Jeff Jarvis is going to have to start pretending that he meant “pond scum” as a compliment.”

Sheldon Rampton
Research director, Center for Media & Democracy
Author of Weapons of Mass Deception and Banana Republicans

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