February 27, 2003

Baghdad-Based Blog Check out this

Baghdad-Based Blog

Check out this blog based in Iraq.

Here's what they say about "human shields" descending on the town:

"A reader sent me an angry email a couple of days ago (not the reader who writes in the comments, someone else) asking me why I dislike the Ňhuman shieldsÓ so much, he/she actually asked Ňwhy do you spit on them?Ó. Ewww. Now I was never that unfriendly. I have not met any of them in person, which just might happen in the next couple of days, what I dislike is the idea. But since dissing them gets people so exited, here we go and do what [destinyŐs child] donŐt, Ňcause their mamma taught them better than thatÓ, we be dissing the shields again on the internet.
One of the latest group to arrive in Baghdad, mostly Europeans, were welcomed to the Rasheed hotel , which is like the Waldorf Astoria of Baghdad, no other hotel is more expensive and exclusive. All of them were wearing T-shirts with what was supposed to be "Human Shields" in Arabic, but they had it all wrong it said "Adra'a Basharia" instead of "Duru'u Basharia" which got them a few giggles and a new name; they are now the "Adra'a" just to show how clueless they are. A lot of funny Arabic these days with all these HS's running around, a van with a foreign number plate standing near the ministry of information has "No War" written all over it in many languages the biggest in Arabic. All over the front of it is says "La Harba" which is wrong and sounds like a night club, my cousin thought that was cute. Anyway, what really got my goat this time was finding out that they get food coupons worth 15,000 dinars per meal, 3 for every day.fifteen thousan.
Do you know how much the monthly food ration for a 4 person family is worth, for a whole month not per meal (real cost, not subsidized) ? 30,000 dinars, if you get someone to buy the bad rice they give you for a decent price. 15,000. What are they eating? A whole lamb every meal? Let's put this within context. Today in the morning Raed, our friend G. and I went for a late big breakfast we had 2 tishreeb bagilas (can't explain that, you have to be an Iraqi to get it otherwise it sounds inedible) and a makhlama (which is an omelet with minced meat), tea, fizzy drinks and argila afterwards (the water-pipe-thingy) all for 4,750 dinars, and we were not going super cheap. A lunch in any above-average restaurant will not be more than 8,000 dinars and that includes everything. 15,000 thousand is a meal in a super expensive restaurant in Arasat Street, in one of those places that really almost have an "only foreigners allowed, no Iraqis welcome unless you are UN staff" sign on it. I will stop calling them tourist when they stop taking all this pampering from the Iraqi government. Did I tell you about the tours? Today was Babylon day. You are really missing it, the cheapest way to do the Iraq trip you have wanted to do but were too scared.
And I have a tip for all freelance journalists who are not getting their Visas. Join your colleagues. It's the best way to get past the visa thing, every third one of these "shields" will be writing an article somewhere. Hurry contact your local "war tourism" travel agent.
Sorry, I just don't get it. What are they doing here?"

Good question, isn't it?

And another sample post from February 5th:

"A quick run thru what is going on in Baghdad before uncles and aunts flood the house. The juiciest bit of news actually happened about a week ago but I was told about it today. A couple of days ago it was rumored that all top officials had their phone numbers changed, well who cares itŐs not like I call Saddam every night to chat, but today a friend explained why. Around six days ago the phone lines of the Iraqi air defense units were ŇattackedÓ. When you picked up the phone in some of the command units you didnŐt get a dial tone but a male voice speaking in broken Arabic. What it said is close to what the infamous email said, donŐt use chemical or biological weapons, donŐt offer resistance, and donŐt obey commands to attack civilian areas and so on. This went on for a couple of hours. Now everyone has new numbers. I have no idea how that is at all possible. I do know that for some rural areas we use microwave signals for phone connections but they canŐt be so stupid as to use it for military purposes.
Way to go uncle Sam. This is going to make one hell of a James Bond movie.

The trenches and sandbag mountains I wrote about last week are now all over Baghdad. They are not being put there by the army; they are part of the PartyŐs preparations for an insurgence. Each day a different area of Baghdad goes thru the motions. Party members spread in the streets of that area, build the trenches, sit in them polishing their Kalashnikovs and drink tea. The annoyance-factor of these training days depend on the zeal of the party members in that area. Until now the worst was the [14th of Ramadan] street, they stopped cars searched them and asked for ID and military cards, good thing I wasnŐt going thru that street, I still have not stamped my military papers to show that I have done my reserves training.

Saddam is still meeting officers daily, and we have the pleasure of watching these meetings three times every day. Each batch he meets leaves the place with a 1.5million Iraqi Dinars check and a brand new car. The latest cars to be put in the warehouses I pass by are Toyota Corollas, all white. The warehouse has around 150 of them (we counted the trucks standing outside). It is said that there are a couple of thousand more new cars waiting just outside Baghdad, parked so close to each other when one of them caught fire they couldnŐt get to it fast enough, 38 cars burned."

Methinks the Toyota Corollas won't buy loyalty past the first 48 hours or so of the impending offensive.

Posted by Gregory at February 27, 2003 11:38 PM
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