“Riverbend” is a storyteller. Her “Baghdad Burning” blog is one part Anne Frank, another part Scheherazade and “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights” – from cyberspace. As she wrote in her first weblog entry, dated August 17, 2003: “So this is the beginning for me, I guess … expect a lot of complaining and ranting. … A little bit about myself: I’m female, Iraqi and 24. I survived the war. That’s all you need to know. It’s all that matters these days anyway.” Riverbend’s experience of war, her political commentary and nuanced slice-of-life descriptions, have won her worldwide respect and appreciation. Now her weblog writings have been published in paperback and are available as a BuzzFlash premium. BuzzFlash is grateful to Riverbend for all she has shared in “Baghdad Burning,” as well as for her e-mailed comments to us (below) on why she
writes, how she experiences American propaganda, Iraqis’ hopes, fears and disappointments, and the elusiveness of “normal” life in Baghdad.[/quote]
[quote=“The Washington Post”][size=109]Omar Fadhil says the media are painting far too dark a portrait of Iraq. Outsiders “think there is fighting at every corner, people can’t walk the streets, the economy is devastated and people are starving,” he says. "No one is showing the good news coming from Iraq. That’s usually ignored. Things are difficult, but life is going on.
Fadhil, 24, is a dentist in Baghdad. He and his two brothers are doing more than just griping about the coverage; they are at the forefront of the first wave of Iraqi Internet bloggers, engaging in a form of expression that was impossible under Saddam Hussein.
Thanks for that link, spook. What a great idea – a blog set up to help support bloggers in Iraq.
You are also absolutely right that are all kinds of different opinions that can be expressed now – and in all kinds of different ways. Brothers like the Fadhils are free to start a blog together, and then to go their separate ways if they want to – and all can continue to speak out.
It’s the kind of stuff many people in the west (and in Taiwan) probably take for granted, but it must be a great feeling for the post-liberation Iraqis, who are getting to experience this kind of freedom of speech for the first time. Regardless of where people stand on other issues in Iraq – I think we can all agree that the way that Iraqis are embracing their new freedom to speak out is a wonderful development.
I figured that Iraqis experiencing freedom of expression for the first time in many of their lives (both supporting the liberation and opposing it – we’ve already seen blogs on this thread showing Iraqis doing both) would be something we could all agree was nice to see. But I guess sometimes if one opposes something strongly enough, then acknowledging any positive aspects may just be unbearable – at least this soon after the fact. Oh well…
I have no tolerance for propaganda. What would really impress me that freedom of expression is alive iin Iraq is if a camera crew and reporters were allowed into Falluja. Have you noticed you’ve seen zero pictures in the news of the aftermath of the biggest battle yet fought in Iraq?
While it’s true Riverbend doesn’t ask for contributions directly, her “book” retails for $14.95.
But I think the implication that someone can be bought is a little insulting. I am sure Riverbend is telling the story as she sees it. Her family was one of the elites in Iraqi society and now they are not so of course she is going to have a negative out look on how things are going. But I consider the fact that she is so unhappy as a good indicator that the ex-Saddam power structure is not reasserting itself but is instead being replaced.
If people are interested in hearing from some non ex-Saddam cronnies, my site has some links to Iraqi bloggers, and one Afhgan blogger, I have been helping out.
I don’t know why ITM solicits contributions. It may well be for entirely legitimate reasons. You, though, apparently know that Riverbend is an ex-Saddam crony. How do you know that? I’ve read everything she’s posted the last two years and have found her to be uniformly sarcastic towards and critical of the Saddam era.
If you’ve read everything she’s posted for the last two years then I’m sure you’ve formed your own opinion, and are of course, entitled to it.
But tvillars is hardly alone in viewing Riverbend as a spoiled child of an elite Baathist family (thus the many years in the US required to develop her flawless idiomatic American English) who is angry that her ruling class has lost their ability to keep the other ethnic groups “in their place”.
Do some googling on Riverbend and you’ll see many comments like these:
[color=blue]----- [/color]“Riverbend was part of the elite, who reaped the benefits of her tribal connections when Saddam the butcher was in power.”
[color=blue]----- [/color]Yeah, she is a little grumpy to lose her servants and status. Oh well. She thought he was great. She got all the gravy.
[color=blue]----- [/color]Water and electricity are more plentiful than they have ever been in the last century in Baghdad. It is just not being exclusively piped into Riverbend’s home. Boo hoo.
[color=blue]----- [/color]Now, the majority of citizens are relatively affluent, well educated and free to lives their lives even if they do cross the government. Demean her for opulence, intelligence, education and position? Yep. Will do. Especially when it comes at the cost of a mass grave."
Blogs like Who is Riverbend have gone through her blog in great detail, and also come to the conclusion that her family benefited from Saddam’s dictatorship, and that her tone is quite nostalgic for the good old days. He also points out, for example, that based on the details Riverbend has released about her life, her family returned to Iraq in the early 90s (i.e. at a time that nobody other than a hardcore Saddam loyalist would be returning to that country – because people without political connections were starving because Hussein chose to use his income for gold-plated palaces rather than food) As I said above – you say you’ve read all her stuff too and you seem to have a different take on her. All I’m saying here is that tvillars’s view does not seem out of the mainstream at all.
Even Wikipedia’s short entry on her mentions the idea that she is believed to come from a family which benefited from Saddam’s dictatorship.
I think it’s a bit sad that whenever a new Iraqi blogger popped up, everyone seemed obsessed with “Is he a fake? Is she a Saddam crony? Is he a puppet of the US?” - which kind of misses the main point: the majority are likely ordinary people complete with their own political viewpoints and history.
I found the original “Salam Pax” weblog riveting as a first hand account of someone living in Baghdad the months before the invasion - it gave a completely different perspective to the one that you saw on CNN/BBC. The fact that he was less than enthusiastic about the invasion was jumped on by one side as ‘proof’ that ALL ordinary Iraqis were against the invasion, while the other side claimed his education level proved he was a privileged Baathist, so discounted anything he said.
The most interesting aspect is that from now on you can expect that you’ll get bloggers like this giving you first-hand views from the cities affected for just about any major conflict (OK - with the exception of one including North Korea)
Well let’s google her blog for the word “neighborhood” and see what we can find out about where she lives:
“The explosions haven’t really put anyone in a very festive spirit. The highlight of the last few days, for me, was when we went to our Christian friends’ home to keep them company on Christmas Eve. We live in a neighborhood with a number of Christian families and, under normal circumstances, the area would be quite festive this time of year- little plastic Santas on green lawns, an occasional plastic wreath on a door and some colored, blinking lights on trees.”
"The whole neighborhood knows about S. who lives exactly two streets away. He