Wednesday, February 09, 2005

The Iraqi blogging scene

With a new major news item coming out every day, it’s hard to stick to one’s blogging ideas. Was Bush père Deep Throat? That question was asked on a French radio station yesterday morning during the 8-10am slot. Or how about this one: Peace in the Middle East! What won’t they think of next? I must say, if the pictures and videos I saw yesterday are anything to go by, Condi Rice has an uncanny ability to bring a smile to the face of even the most hardened Middle Eastern politician. But I digress. I’ve only just started this blog, and already I’m getting sexist. Back to my original topic: blogging in Iraq.

In the course of setting up my blog, I came across lots of others. Including – you guessed it – blogs about Iraq, and in particular, blogs from Iraq. The first one I saw I found truly amazing for its description, in beautiful English, of everyday life in “post-war” Iraq. Beautiful English because, as the blogger, pseudonym Riverbend, explains in an early post, she lived abroad for several years as a youngster.

But if I forward this link to you, I thought to myself, the CIA, FBI, CPA, INC and OIF will all be at my front door, noose in hand, within the hour. Then I looked around, and I found that Riverbend is not the only Iraqi blogger. (I also saw no agents in dark glasses.) Not only that, but the viewpoints expressed in these blogs cover the entire political spectrum. Here is one, called Iraq the model and written by two dentists if I remember correctly, that is far to the “right” of Riverbend, so much so that another blogger, Winter Soldier, has done an amusing comparison of the two. Some are much more to the “left” than Riverbend – I’ve put “right” and “left” in quotes because it’s hard to apply essentially Western labels to Iraqi politics – or maybe I’m just influenced by how well Riverbend writes, so I (incorrectly) think she’s more knowledgeable, reasonable and middle of the road. Many of these blogs list still other prominent blogs (e.g. Iraqi Bloggers Roundup, itself now inactive, but with a good list in the right-hand sidebar). Finally, A Family in Baghdad is similar in viewpoint to Riverbend, but arguably with more local color, even though one contributor has actually been writing from Amman, Jordan.

I can’t possibly reproduce here even a fraction of the wealth of information contained in these blogs. You’ll just have to read them. Spend a few hours with them. They’re poignant, wrenching, personal and insightful. I hadn’t seen anything remotely like them in any American (or British, French, German, Canadian, etc.) newspaper, magazine or TV program … until last week, when an article by an Iraqi woman appeared in Le Monde. (Pssst, I can translate it for you if you’re interested.)

I don’t know what this means for reality. The more I read about this war, the less I think I know. Everyone seems to have his or her own reality.

Answers to Saturday’s “quiz”. Country: South Vietnam. Date: Sept. 4, 1967.

Next post: “Food, glorious food” (unless it’s about something else).

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