Thursday, March 26, 2009

One More Reason To Target Iraqi Lives

While different media sources have turned their focus towards the progressing process in Iraq, Belagh Media Center, an internet based media outlet established by its Secretary General, Ammar Al-Hakim, chose a different topic to publish on its website.
Ammar Al-Hakim is the son of Abdul Aziz Al Hakim, the president of the “Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council” and the leader of the “United Iraqi Alliance”, the largest block in the Iraqi parliament. Both are very extremist Shiites and have openly attached Iraqi from other sects.
The Belagh Media Center published an article under the title, “Four Corpses of Homosexuals Were Found in Baghdad.” The article says that the Iraqi security forces found the four corpses in the Sadir City, one of Al-Mahdi Army’s, Muqtada Al Sadir’s militia’s strongholds in Baghdad. The article also calls homosexuals with a demeaning slang from the Iraqi dialect, “Little dogs.”
The article expresses fear of the act being one sign of the deteriorating security situation in Baghdad, however, the author justifies, “Even though homosexuality is very spread in the Arab countries, but it is a phenomenon that is hated by Baghdadis.”
This is a media outlet that is followed by many Iraqis just for the fact that they are religious clerics. It is time for human rights organization to advocate against the religious extremism the country is moving towards by these clerics. It is time that the Iraqis live a more liberated life. That is a clear attack against homosexuals. Iraq has no specific laws against sex individuals’ sexual preferences. One might argue that it is too naive to be asking for gay toleration or even gay rights in the Middle East but even during Saddam Hussein’s era, homosexuals were tolerated in Iraq more than most other Middle Eastern countries. This act can be very well related to Iranian influence. Many were outraged by Ahmedi Najad’s comment in New York last year when he told the American public that there are absolutely no homosexuals in Iran and it is against the culture. Ammar Al-Hakim grew up in Iran, where he also attended several Islamic education institutes. Al-Hakims have very strong relations with the current Iranian government.
Homosexual might not be the most popular and most common label to have in Iraq, but to killing them was never common and is one more reason to make targets out of Iraqis.
This is one more example of the obstacles those political religious figures have set in the Iraqi society. If we are to be ruled by Islamic extremist demagogues, democracy, human rights, prosperity will never find their way to the life of the Iraqi individual.

Ali Rawaf

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why Reach To Others When We Can Do Better?

It has filled the newspapers and many other media sources that Iraq has a budget surplus of $79 billion . It is logical that a country would give a surplus estimate after providing the general and basic life requirements for its people. As of today, Iraqis don’t have consecutive hours of electricity, drinking water for all the population, and unemployment had reached its highest levels.

Today, the head of the Municipality of Baghdad, Sabir Al-Esawey has reached to the Shura Council of Bahrain to tell its members, “the importance of the participation of Bahraini companies to win investment projects in the country.” He continued by asking Bahraini business men and government officials who work in the field of construction services to visit the capitol, Baghdad and see the projects that the city has proposed to be done in order to rebuild the city.

This has been the reputation of the Iraqi government; its officials have always reached to foreign countries and their companies to invest the country in the same time that Iraq has an 18-30% estimate rate of unemployment in June, 2008 (CIA World Fact Book). Countries like Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia have been, for a long time investing in Iraq but no real results of their work have been seen on the Iraqi streets.

Not to mention that many Iraqi officials are corrupt enough to steal some of the money provided for construction project, contractors of foreign countries too end up stealing big portions of that money. As Ali Allawi, former finance minister stated for ABC News in 2006, "The current machinery of state doesn't have the control or reporting systems to allow for the kind of detailed cost controls and budgetary controls.” About $500 million were stolen from a one billion budget to equip the Iraqi army after the other half of the billion was spent on outdated military equipment. Examples of corruption of Iraqi officials and foreign companies can be endless to mention.

In order to ameliorate the Iraqi economy, the government must look into the Iraqi federal and the private sector to offer them those investment projects. That way, more jobs will be created for many of Iraqis, and more opportunities for establishments of new local companies.

Instead of wasting Iraq’s money, the government should start looking into pumping the surplus money to the Iraqi private sector, Iraq has a very well educated population and hard work is valued in its culture, Iraqis’ money should not be wasted on foreign entities.

Ali Rawaf