Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Other Iraq

Shortly after the drinks arrive and the heat of day begins to fade, our trusty news correspondents issue their two minute summary of the endless violence, death, destruction and pain that is our picture of Iraq today. With a little luck, a native Iraqi stringer and photographer have captured a little violence or bloodshed to spice up the report.

These Green Zone residents have one primary job, provide proof that Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) was right when he
claimed from the Senate floor "Mr. President, Your leading us off a cliff."

I don't want to minimize the violence, but I do want to tell you that the news reports on NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, MSNBC and FOX are terribly misleading. They are horribly wrong. If you believe what you see and hear each night, you will be forced to agree with Senator Biden.

And that would be tragic.

You see, a short four hour drive from the violence in Bagdad will take you into Iraqi Kurdistan, where there is virtually no violence, where Americans are the heroes and welcome as visitors and as investors and even as crusaders hoping to actually change a country even more for the better.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, building is booming. Children (both boys and girls) are in school. The markets are bustling and free of violence. And, while life there today is good, there is promise it will get better.

Not that there isn't a lot of work to do. Enter
Simone Allmen, a feminist activist, film maker, photographer and student of humanity.

Let me emphasize Simone is no friend of the Bush administration and no supporter of the invasion and occupation.

So, it's important that you read her blog, look at her pictures and see her video (some of which is posted on her
MySpace website).

By many accounts, Iraqi Kurdistan is the one of the most liberal and liberated countries in the Middle East. Women have many rights and privileges. But even in Iraqi Kurdistan, they suffer under the burden of centuries of customs, religions and war.

The most important thing about Simone's work, is that she is able to o it at all. Her presence in Iraqi Kurdistan is a victory in the war on terror all by itself.

Here is a little of what Simone has to say. I have edited the format of her writing slightly, but never altered a word. The emphasis is mine. You simply must
read her blog to get the real flavor of her efforts in Kurdistan.

as a gift to me, i was told that i would be going to
the gravesites of where the anfal victims are buried.

i got a little huffy saying i came here for women's
rights. had a moment with my host and we got
past it.

8000 people. nothing like stepping onto land knowing
that this is what is underneath your feet. all the
families praying, crying, singing.

i of course shot beautiful painful footage. i played
hide and seek with 2 gorgeous little girls and then
was given cookies.

i cry at the simplicity and the pain.
again, i recognize that i am graced. blessed. and
truly alive.

the sky is big. the mountains are massive. the
villages are small but many. there are shocks of
color everywhere. i saw so many mountain dogs today.
they look like lions.

things here have changed. life is moving forward.
america is loved and my picture is in many cell

i am not ready to leave. i am not sure if i am ready
to commit. i was asked to give my opinion about the
conference. there were looks that said, well, you'll
come back and help build the shelter, won't you?


i knew this right? i mean i didn't come here thinking
anything less

did i?

i have been awake for hours needing to sleep. my body
clock is a complete mess.

the trip from kurdistan back to los angeles was one of
the most excruciating, painful, exhausting trips of my

thank god for kate, my 21 year old companion. i had
someone to look at for support. i had a mirror image
of myself. travel weary and delirious. it all became
quite the joke after awhile.

besides all that: a truly eye opening experience.
these are some things i shall miss about kurdistan.
sugar in my tea. that is: 1/2 sugar 1/2 tea. sounds
awful, right? not so. quite the addiction.

i will miss the openness of the land. the mountains
full of snow and the valleys covered in green. the

little boys watching over their flock.
bright shiny kurdish clothing.
the looks on the faces as i pass. it's not every day
that i am the one that draws curiosity.
the smiles and laughter of the children. it is in
their faces that i saw deep into a culture.

our driver amel. beautiful boy/man. he enjoys that
song 'glamorous' by fergie. we had a few dancing in
the car moments. he is kind and takes such care. his
story is one that breaks my heart. he does not come
from a rich family but is working hard at making
something of himself.
he loves a girl. when asked by
his family to see her, her family told them that she
was unavailable. she was too busy. when they left,
she was beaten. for love.?

Brilliant and beautiful. Simone in Iraq.





Vigilante said...

How does one make Kurdistan safe from its world, Wizard? All its neighbors (Iran, Iraq, Syria & Turkey)hate and distrust it. It would require supreme wizardry.

the WIZARD, fkap said...

It will take a strong, secure and independnet Iraq. That is only possible if we bite the bullet and allow the current US Government plan to work.

In other words we must protect Iraqi Kurdistan.

I'm growing increasing weary of the "pull out the troops and let the future of Iraq be damned" crowd.

In spite of your very finest efforts, my opinion has begun to move in the opposite direction.

Sadly, I realize it may take many years. I don't think the American public today is willing to make that sacrifice.

When America leaves, Iraqi Kurdistan will become the next genocide we will all mourn.

the Wizard......

Vigilante said...

Wizard, note: Envoy: U.S. may has not ruled out military action against Kurdish rebels