As you're all aware, sovereignty was formally handed over to the interim Iraqi government yesterday, a couple days ahead of schedule (But do you know that a blogger scooped CNN et. al?).
So, what are the Iraqi bloggers saying about all this?
- Omar at Iraq the Model is overjoyed in Go Iraq Go. "Our hope and our goal is to see the day when we can elect our representatives freely and more important is to be aware that the process is moving as we wish and there will be no room for those who dream of bringing back the past."
- "Sam" at Hammorabi notes that the handover's timing didn't just mess up the terrorists. It also surprised Al-Jazeera and the Arab media, who had an attack or two of their own planned.
- Alaa reminds us of a popular Arabic phrase in That Which Has Benefit for the People. "This day, this modest ceremony, no elaborate celebrations, no fanfare; yet surely this is a "Mother of Days" for Iraq, and history will remember this day."
- Ays of Iraq at a Glance was worried about the 30th. It will be fun to see what he thinks once he starts blogging again from Basra. Meanwhile, his blog's motto says it all.
- Sarmad Zangna at Road of a Nation is pleased, and has some thank-yous. None for Mr. Zarqawi, though: "I donít believe that those man are human ,or related to any kind of humanity ,they donít know any thing ,just killing and killing..." We noticed that too.
- Kurdo's World is less than happy, but then the Kurds are less than happy these days. Ironically, moving the USA aside means the new government is going to have to start paying more attention to what the Kurds want.
- Fellow Kurd and new blogger Karda of Land of the Karda isn't so sure. "In the Western world people are represented by political parties. Itís very simple. If these political parties are not able to do what they have promised to their members, then they will get lesser votes for the next election. Weirdly, things go very different in ME."
- Firas Georges has some thoughts from Baghdad, as he contemplates the house he's building. I suspect a lot of people feel this way.
- O at Iraqi spirit is A bit weary. Of the pro-American camp in the Arab world, and of the anti American camp as well. "To both camps.... Leave us alone...you never helped Iraq, you just sat there and watched while Iraqis were being abused/killed and stripped of their humanity whether under Saddam or the present regime. It is our problem and we will sort it out. LONG LIVE IRAQ" That was back in May. Hopefully, a year or 2 from now O will still be happy he wished for that. I love his blog's motto.
- Fayrouz may be "Live from Dallas", but she points us toward A Star from Mosul, written by 16 year old Najma Abdullah as she describes her school life and hopes for the future. You go, girl!
- Daniel Drezner has some "man in the street" reactions from Baghdad, via the Boston Globe.
I always like to end on a lighter note, so here's a joke from Bahir J at Baghdadee. It seemed entirely appropriate now that Iraqis get to deal with their own political leeches:
"A wealthy person decided to gift one of the politicians a flashy car. The politician rejected the offer fearing that it might be considered as a bribe. To make it looks OK, the wealthy offered the car for only $20. The politician agreed to take two cars instead of one!!!!"
Come to think of it, that joke would work here in Canada too.
Joe's Take On All This
Things aren't even close to over in Iraq, but the Iraqis have their country back now and this was a good move. The advanced date? A brilliant fake-out, all the more brilliant for how tightly the secret was held. Suddenly, the stage has been jerked out from under all those long-planned terrorist attacks, and any bombs going off June 30th risk a serious backlash against their perpetrators. Hammorabi's observations re: the effect on al-Jazeera et. al. are also worth a look.
Still, a note of caution: there are rocky times ahead. An Iraqi government may know a few things the Americans do not, but like all governments it will screw up. Some lessons the Americans absorbed the hard way will need to be re-learned, and ike Bahir J, I doubt that the long history of corruption in Arab (and socialist) political cultures has vanished overnight.
All this will vex American commanders on the ground, even as the handover changes other dynamics on the ground in favour of a positive long-term outcome.
Inconsistency will also plague allied commanders and Iraqis alike. With Iraq gearing up for January 2005 elections, expect a lot of jockeying as the celebrations die down and the usual political "hangover" begins. It will look confusing and chaotic, and that will be a good thing - because Iraqi politics is exactly where all their real confusion and post-Saddam sort-outs need to be channeled. It will not be pretty, but it is necessary.
Which brings us to the trillion-dollar question: How will it all end?
That's the question everyone's asking, and there's only one honest answer: nobody really knows. Not Bush, not Kerry, not Chirac, and not Allawi. Not me, and not my Iraqi blogging counterparts. Not even Zarqawi. Nobody. The world gives us bets, and odds. Not certainties.
Still, reading the Iraqi bloggers will tell you this: it's one hell of a story. Many Americans and Iraqis and British and Poles and others are living in it. Some are dying, and more will follow. Some of us can only watch from afar, and honour those who sacrifice for something better, and support efforts like Operation Give or Spirit of America.
Will it be enough?
Well, that depends on what "enough" means to you. America could never promise Iraqis paradise. It was good enough to promise them a chance, and it seems to be delivering on that promise. Now it's up to Iraqis to seize that chance; and up to us all, in America and beyond, to hold out our hands and offer them the help they need.
I wish my Iraqi counterparts very best of luck - and today, I'm happy to celebrate with them again. We know that there will more mourning in our future, and more celebrations. We know, too, what we value. Soon, we'll all learn what we're really determined to do, in order to make Iraq's next chapters better than its last ones.
Perhaps we will fail, at the end of all things. Or perhaps it will be enough. Perhaps some of their hopes, and ours, can still become real in an imperfect world. In the end, however, it's not about what one thinks or believes - it's what one does that will help tell the story.
What will you DO?
"Many a mile to freedom, many a smile to tell
Ask my bluebird to sing you, from the heart of a wishing well
Call all my reindeer to graze here, call all my grain to grow
Then together we flow like the river
Then together we melt like the snow...
...A few more miles to go
Miles to freedom."
- Stevie Winwood, "Many a Mile to Freedom"