Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My All Time Favorite Guitarists

Below is a list of my most favorite 10 guitarists ever. For some, I grew up listening to them and have been greatly influenced by their guitar playing and the songs they made.

This list is not about technical skills regarding playing guitar. It is more about their song writing , personalities and personal taste in a certain genres of music, otherwise the list will be much bigger if I included other guitar wizards such as Ritchie Blackmore and Tommy Bolin (Deep Purple), Eddie van Halen, Yngwie Malmsteen, Dave Mustaine (Megadeath), Jake E. Lee (Ozzy Osbourne), John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia,Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains), Glen Tipton and K. K. Downing (Judas Priest), Nancy Wilson (Heart) and many more.

Tony Iommi
I am sure that I listened to his playing with Black Sabbath earlier to hearing Heaven and Hell album. I got hooked up to his style after Born Again with the thunderous voice of Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan on the helm. Since then Tony Iommi is considered to be my all time favorite guitarist ever. I didn’t realize one day that a dream might come true and be able to meet the man himself. That dream came true. Imagine, meeting the “master of riffs” and the godfather of a music genre called Heavy Metal.

Without him being in charge of music, there would be no Black Sabbath. I love all albums, no exception. There are many fans who say that Black Sabbath died after Ozzy was kicked out in 1978, but many agree with me that the Dio years Tony Martin years proved wrong. Even the albums with Ian Gillan (Born Again) and Glenn Hughes (Seventh Star) were amazing and still one of my favorite albums of all time. To this day, I hate this comparison between the different eras, because without albums like “Dehumanizer” or “Sabotage”, the sound of Iommi’s guitar wouldn’t be as influential as any fan love to hear and enjoy.

I used to go to a record shop in Karrada district in Baghdad where I meet classic rock and heavy metal fans there. The guys who work in that shop also listen to this type of music with passion. We used to chat about this music and listen when no customers there. On one Thursday, me and one of guys who work in the shop decided to go for a walk and a very nice guy who happened to be a regular customer and a big Sabbath and Pink Floyd fan joined us. He was a soldier on his 7 days leave – during that time it was the Iraq/Iran war on its peak. While we were walking and talking about music the guy gave a strange description to Iommi’s guitar playing and sound. He said: “Did anyone paid attention to the intro of “Sabbra Cadabra” from “Sabbath bloody Sabbath” album? It is like Tony Iommi is stretching the neck of his guitar above the planet earth and started playing…. No sound in space and earth, but his tune… This man is a magician”. He laughed with passion and continued “I love Iommi, I love Sabbath. Most of the time, I stay late at night sitting in my bedroom. Keep the room dark, except for a spot light on a poster of Black Sabbath I hang on the wall, and listen to their albums while smoking cigarettes and drinking arak”. For those who doesn’t know what arak click here

The Three Musketeers
Without mentioning Iron Maiden as a whole, it is difficult to describe the trio Adiran Smith, Dave Murrey and Janick Gers! Each one has his style but all three gave the sound that all Maiden fans adore. From “Powerslave” to “Brave New World” and further, these are examples of how mighty Iron Maiden as a heavy metal band is. I know that some might argue that Steve Harris (on Bass Guitar) is what Iron Maiden all about, without him classics like “Clansman” and “Rim of the Ancient Mariner” would never exist. But the three guitarists participated hugely to the legacy of giving the dual guitars sound and powerful melodies they lent in combination with the rattling sound of the Harris’s bass.

The first time I saw Iron Maiden in early 80s when my neighbor and one of my best friends lent me a video tape, saying: “there is a band called Iron Maiden. The song is just amazing”. It was “Aces High”! I don’t remember anymore how many times I re-winded the tape to watch that song and to look at the power this band can show with their double guitars and killing solos. When “live after Death” came out, hearing the double guitar on each speaker something gave more clarity to the way each guitarist play and sound. When “somewhere in time” came out, it was the moment when I said to myself, this is not ordinary band. With songs like “Sea of Madness” and “Alexander the great”, I thought at that time that this was the highest level that Iron Maiden and any other metal band can reach. I was wrong when they released the 7th Son album. This album was a turning point to me regarding what a concept album should look like. Imaginative, rich lyrics, constructed music all along. All in all, that album wrote history in music generally. It was Friday afternoon when a friend of mine came to our house in Baghdad. He did not ring the bell, just blowing the horns from his car as sign to me that I had to come out. I went in his air-conditioned car. With a smile on his face, his finger tips on the volume, he turned the sound louder to let me listen. As usual in such circumstances, we do not say a word when music is playing, just listening, getting deep into the music. It was a slow part, some keyboard composition, while guitars hammers two chords at certain interval, which led to a build up in music where it kick out with a faster part dominated by a mesmerizing solo. That was the middle to end part of the song “7th son of the 7th son”. I can’t mention that album without giving a notice to one of the most beautiful and most favorite songs I ever heard in my life “Infinite Dreams”: I have never heard in my life a song that can describe someone having nightmares the way that song did. Iron Maiden did that again on “Dream of Mirrors” from the album “Brave New World”.

I still laugh with myself about when I went to a music instrument shop to buy effects pedal for my guitar. I asked the guy who in charge if he can show me a simple guitar effects that can make the sound of Iron Maiden’s. He was wondering and said: “why everyone is looking for that guitar sound in particular?”

Steve Morse
I wasn’t paying attention to a lot of American guitarists, maybe because I like more English rock than American rock. Something I regretted later on when I discovered many great musicians, specifically guitar players who I become a big fan of many of them now due to their technique and the way they write songs and music in general. One of those great guitarists is Steve Morse. They call him the man who can play anything! This has been clearly illustrated in his album “Major Impact”. Steve Morse is one of those geniuses in rock history. Very rear someone can see a guitarist who is so relaxed when playing complex techniques without frowning or squeezing his face features – did anyone saw that guy with the thin moustache from the Eagles? how his face looked during the final solo part on the song “Hotel California”? I thought the guy was having diariah and he needed to control himself!

Steve Morse is for many is currently the guitar player for the legendary Deep Purple, after Ritchie Blackmore left the band in 1993. He managed to put his stamp with his playing style successfully from the beginning, especially on his first album with the great rock band called Purpendicular. I have my reasons to consider him as one of my most favorite guitarists ever: First, his playing style is different from Blackmore’s. Second, he could play the same Purple classics live with the same beauty. Third, He added new musical elements (I call spices) to different classic Purple songs. I love the long tremolo during the singing of “perfect strangers” or when he make the speed car sound from his guitar in the beginning of “Highway Star”, or the way he put his mark on “fools”. Steve Morse has been chosen by readers of the Guitar magazine as the best guitarist for 5 years in a row. This made him decided to exclude himself from the competition for the following years.

I don’t have regrets about Morse joining the giant Purple. I never doubted that Deep Purple music deteriorated after Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord departures. Listen to “Bananas” and “Rapture of the Deep” and you know what I mean.

Music of the Blues
I love Blues, and nobody can play with emotions this type of music other than two of my guitar heroes: Eric Clapton and B. B. King. Anyone plays guitar know about “slow hand”. That’s what Eric Clapton is called. The first time I heard Clapton was on the FM radio in Baghdad. It was a “bad Influence” from the album “August”. Albums like Journeyman and 24 nights album were for me something extraordinary to hear this mix of blues, pop and rock. Clapton kept on inspiring me for years to come, despite my disappointment with albums like Pilgrim, I didn’t like that album because of the way it has been produced. But the album that made me addicted to Eric Clapton is his “From the Cradle” album. Its true that this album consisted of cover songs from classic blues albums.

Eric Clapton opened new horizon in music production by introducing the MTV unplugged series. That album and its consecutive video remain as one of the best music records of all time. It was the first time in years since the sudden death of his little boy son that Eric Clapton performs live. It was also the first time I see him not playing his electric guitar, instead, he played his songs on semi-acoustic and classic guitar. Yet, for years to follow and on every concert, Eric Clapton starts his performance with some acoustic / unplugged numbers. Sitting on a chair, no band accompanying him and slowly build up the show with such atmosphere.

On the other hand, we have the King, B.B. King. He is the only guitarist who only uses three notes in all his career. I am joking, but B. B. King is considered by many critics to be one of the rear guitarist who uses very simple notes, and uses very simple musical structure in his songs. I was like frozen on my chair while watching him playing “Sweet Sixteen” from his live concert in Kinshasa, Zaire in 1974 (a celebration of the boxing fight between champion Mohammed Ali and George Foreman). Nowadays, B. B. King and due to his old age he sits on a chair and plays his beloved ‘lucy’ (his guitar name) accompanied by his band. Still his concerts remained joy able and his charisma did not change in all the years past.

Upon reading his biography, I was very touched with the way this great singer/guitar player used to live. Like many, he had very hard life as an African American. His first air playing was just seconds long piece of guitar tune as the theme of a radio station he used to work for. Now, he is one of the musicians in the world who has vast collection of albums and numerous live albums and compilations.

Both B. B. King and Eric Clapton surprised everyone when they released their album “riding with the king” in 2000. I see this album as a meeting point in the career of both Blues guitar legends. It is like they were walking on a road on their own and finally they decided to meet in a café or something where they decided to play together and the result was that album.

David Gilmour
Who doesn’t know the man who is one of five men responsible for creating a unique musical genre, I mean Psychedelic Rock? A genre that resulted in Pink Floyd. David Gilmour is another guitar virtuoso in the history of rock music. He is the one created the most haunted tune ever, I mean the famous tune of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”!

One of my dreams is to attend a concert by Pink Floyd. This of course will never happen, well, we don’t know, but I doubt it. I had the chance to see them in London when they performed in Live 8, but at the last moment, I was in the airport ready to get into the airplane when something happened that prevented me from completing the trip - I will never forget that day, it was horrible, but I won’t tell it because it is another story!

Like Eric Clapton, David Gilmour performed live on acoustic guitar, but differently. It was not in the same shape and layout that the MTV Unplugged series. He just toured as David Gilmour where for the first time I realize that Gilmour can take Pink Floyd songs into a new direction, where he played songs semi-acoustically among other well known songs from his solo catalogue. A highlight from that concert is the French speaking song “Je Crois Entendre Encore”, and this sensational performance accompanied with a female cello player

If one want to watch the way David Gilmour can do a solo, for example, check out “comfortably numb” from the live album “Pulse”. Outstanding performance.

Like Black Sabbath, there are who consider Pink Floyd dead after the departure of Roger Waters, something I don’t share and don’t see it right because Division Bell album is proved otherwise. Songs like “what do you want from me” from that album is just pure, in my opinion, a typical Pink Floyd style. It cannot be something else!

David Gilmour is one of few guitarists who does not use the little finger on guitar fret so often like the rest of the guitarist i.e. he relies on three fingers instead of four fingers!!

John Petrucci
Super guitarist, this is my opinion of progressive metal band, Dream Theater. The man can play anything from Trash Metal though Classic Rock and even Death Metal. His influence in guitar playing from the classic rock band Yes has surpassed to much higher level. I don’t consider John Petrucci as just an extremely advanced guitar virtuoso, I put him with the same level of great classical music composers, but in a different field i.e. rock and metal.

His mark can be noticed in his work on both Liquid Tension Experiment, a side project band with some of his Dream Theater mates among others. John Petrucci can play the most complex guitar techniques ever exists. In fact, he is someone who tries to transfer compositions written specifically for Piano and succeeded in playing them on guitar. Is this a reason why he uses a seven strings guitar? Forgot to say that Petrucci (with his bandmate, Mike Portnoy) are both producers of all Dream Theater albums.

Doug Aldrich
This is one of the latest American guitarists I got to listen to in the previous years. Aldrich has an octopus fingers when moving up and down the guitar fret.

I never had the chance to listen to his solo stuff, but the first time I heard him on the song “Rush” from Dio’s album “Killing the Dragon”. Before that I read about him joining Dio band to record that same album, I was curious about what this guitarist might bring other than previous ones to Dio’s musical legacy. He did not stay with Dio for long, after the tour he joined the reformed Whitesnake on their extensive world tour. Aldrich was the real star on that tour. He played all classic Whitesnake stuff in a way that made me wonder more than once if all solos for these songs were originally written by Aldrich himself due to the accuracy he illustrated.

I would like to listen more to this great guitarists achievements and I am sure I will do that in the future.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Changing Strategy or Amending Tactics?

Yesterday, the American president, George W Bush, presided a 90 minutes meeting with his top generals in the US forces to review policy in Iraq. According to the news on media channels – even Bush himself addressed that in his weekly radio speech, the purpose of the meeting is to review and maybe change tactics used in Iraq, and not to change US strategy in the country. I don’t doubt that a minute, especially with the stubborn nature of Bush and his men around him. Besides, it is very dangerous politically to suddenly come out to the public and say that “we have a new strategy in Iraq”, while there are the Congress elections coming very soon. In addition, voting pole in the media in regards to support for the government is essential. It is also dangerous because any failure will create an problem among Americans themselves: for those who support the war, there are who believe that there is a noble cause for this war i.e. liberty, freedom, democracy, WMD…etc, and all is part of the war on terrorism. For those supporters, this means that they are losing this war! On the other hand, for those who oppose the war, this means that more anger towards their government because their beloved ones fought a war which their government did not plan for properly, additionally to considering the war as one without cause.

There are rumors coming out form Washington about a plan by the U.S. Administration demanding the Iraqi prime minister, Maliki, to come up with a scheduled plan to end this violence, including disarming militias and implement a number of economic, military, and political measures. In the proposed plan, which is supposed to be implemented next year, the US will have more control on actions to be taken! Wondering what else they want to control? They do control everything!!

Speaking of taking control, earlier today, I was reading Faiza’s (Family in Baghdad) latest blog – she did not write anything new for some time, and I wouldn’t agree with her more about every word she wrote. She has been busy risking her life trying to help Iraqis in need by visiting houses, non-government organizations, Parliament and meeting its members. She explained the sad and frustrating experiences she has been facing through during the past period.
I salute her efforts and also admire her faith in herself and in what she believe. My compliments to her and to the ability that she can do something despite the danger she is facing day after days.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Al Mahdi Millitias Take Control Over Amara

It became obvious from the past two days that the Mahdi army has controlled the southern Iraqi city of Amara. They also burned three police stations, and looting the surrounding buildings. Very interesting becuase this is exactly what is happening everytime there are clashes between the militias and police/army forces in the post Saddam era: burning and looting!!

In the meantime, the government gave up its insistence that the new security plan was successful, instead they are in deep discussions with the U.S. to find another solution to the deteriorating situation. In the meantime, orders were given to the British troops to move forward towards to the city and support the Iraqi forces, after they decided in the beginning not to intervene so they can give the Iraqi officials the chance to resolve the dispute on their own! The British troops handed Amara after two years occupation to the Iraqis last August.

Some says, It sounds like this Iraqi forces and military men are so crippled that they are just not prepared to fully defend their stations after all. For this reason, the presence of the occupation forces is essential to bring order. Did the British bring peace and security to their controlled regions?

The whole thing about these clashes began when a family tribe in Amara accused Al Sadr militia men of killing their family member, and as a revenge that tribe kidnapped the brother of the local leader of the Mahdi army militia. As a reaction, the militia decided to storm the city after their call to release that leader went in vain.

There are some who comes up with an opinion that the Shiites in Iraq were oppressed by Saddam for years, and this one of the reason for the violence which has been witnessed in day to day life in Iraq.. I don’t agree with that opinion because:
First, it became clear to many – even the media is increasingly showing this through their reports and news bulletins – that violence is caused by two groups of people: one group is looking for political gains and misusing the name of a certain religious group for this purpose. The second group consists of thieves, killers, and some other losers who are looking for financial gains. It also might be some kind of a political maneuver, but Muqtada Al Sadr did himself send a letter to his militia in Amara demanding them to stop, “otherwise, Al Sadr will disown you all”. This did not put a halt to the bloodshed in the begining!

On the other hand, Last wednesday, a couple of days ago all media channels showed a pro-Qaida group in Ramadi staging a defiant parade-like show off in the western city of Ramadi. They were driving their cars and on motorcycles freely and in the middle of the day carrying their rifles with their black and white masks and slogans.

Some media sources named this show of force as "Sunni fighters take over Ramadi". It made me wonder, though, if the whole clashes affair in Amara by the Shiite Al Mahdi millitia is just a reply message from Al Sadr to the Sunni group in Ramadi, and not only about a local leader who has been kidnapped!!

Second, Saddam did not only oppress Shiites. Saddam is not considered as Sunni as some think, and that he is loyal to Sunni Islam! In fact, Saddam did not give a damn to whether that person is Sunni or Shiite or even believe in devil: the essential thing is to eliminate anyone who might dream of opposing anything related to the regime. Saddam created his own “sect”, his own “social” group. Yes, a mutant social group within the Iraqi community. Back to Saddam’s created social group: This group became the effective tool that helped in planting successfully two things: fear from the regime, and distrust among citizens. This included people from all sectors, and from different religions.

Any Iraqi remember how Baghdad used to be during the time Saddam used to rule Iraq. I am sure that a lot of Iraqis remember seeing that man in dark olive color military uniform walking in the street, a pistol hanging on right down side of his belt, shoulders pushed up, and arms semi-floating on both sides like wings ready to spread, while the eyes rolling right and left to see if anyone dare to challenge! For non-Iraqis, this man is a member of the Special Security forces. Guys from Al Mansoor or Karrada districts also remember the other “boys” around the block: Those boys used to wear suits, very expensive suits, with very light beard grew up on their angry faces, and short hair. They used to drive their luxurious cars, especially on some Thursdays. Again, for those who don’t know, those are Uday’s (Saddam’s eldest son) thugs. In addition, the view did not end to that; we used to have a group of military men called the Military Disciplinary forces. Those boys with the famous red band tied to their wrists was specialized in setting up check points in different areas in Baghdad along side with the intelligence service - who used to wear civilian clothes. Their job was to stop cars, check every man’s ID, and face – if they don’t like your face, then…well, fate might vary from one lucky to another!!

Does anyone have any idea if the situation in the past has something to do with the current situation in Iraq? Or does this organized terror and someone’s fear from trusting a colleague in school, for example, or the salesman in the near by shop have its impact on attitude towards others?

OK, let me ask the question from a different angel: what has been changed in Iraq today, compare it to the past?

Check points? still there, and maybe more, but the military disciplinary forces were replaced with either the militia, or police or military (without making similarities).
The man in dark olive military uniform has not been spotted anymore today, because he has been replaced with men wearing either black or white from head to toe.

Fear did not vanish, on the contrary, because in the past the source of fear and terror came from one direction: Saddam regime. Today, terror (and death) comes suddenly from a side bomb planted by terrorists while driving a car, or a bullet from an American soldier’s reacted irrationally, or a ‘unknown’ men storming a shop, while coincidently some poor man was standing there wanting to buy cigarettes…etc

I don’t want to put the blame on the U.S. troops here. I am not going to do so, but the U.S. defied international community in order to ‘liberate’ Iraq from Saddam’s tyranny, and to ‘bring change’ to the Iraqi people. After all, they are trying, with these news about the meetings and analysis they are putting energy and effort into – determining the results of James Baker’s commission is one option. I still have my doubts. I remember now the discussion I had with a couple of fellow bloggers, they said that only a miracle can bring a solution to the current violence!!

Do we really need a miracle? Or human brain can find a solution?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Islam Permits Wife Beating

I came across this video while browsing youtube.com

Instead of spreading a message of granting nobility to wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters, by treating them with love and compassion, by supporting them and strengthen that holy bond between man and his wife. Instead of doing all this, the mufti of Egypt is allowing aggression, permitting shame and pain to be present in the family. Actually, he is even destroying a life-time partnership between married people.

What is the difference between a woman from the west and another from the east? Culture? What culture has to do with how to treat my wife? He is arguing that other cultures consider this act as barbaric or aggressive, therefore Islam will never permit it in these countries, but it is allowed by a man from the middle east or an Islamic country to beat the hell out of his wife! What a mockery!

I don’t believe that the mufti of Egypt still consider it civilized when his sister or daughter comes to him with bruises all over her body because her husband decided one night to check out his muscularity

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Battles of George Galloway

I watached today an interview with George Galloway on Sky news, in which he talked about the deteriorating situation in Iraq and how the coming period is not showing any good hopes, especially with increasing pressure on Bush and Blair to withdraw from the most closest aide. He also talked about the recent row created by Jack Straw regarding his objection to muslim woman wearing niqab (full veil). Unfortunately, I could not find it, it was very interesting especially with his analysis related to the the U.S. and U.K withdraw from Iraq tactics in order to avoid embarresment and remain having support from their people.

Instead, I decided to post this video of Galloway's testimony back in May 2005 when he rejected accusations related to oil-for-food program corruptions.

I am also posting here the famous interview Galloway had with Sky news during the summer 2006 war in Lebanon.

Wow, the man can really talk on others :)

Lesson in Physics

At the university of Copenhagen, students were doing their physics degree exam. One of the questions came as follows: How to determine the height of a skyscraper using a barometer?

The correct answer, of course, is by measuring the difference in air pressure between the roof of the skyscraper and the ground. However, one of the students gave another answer:
“Tie a long piece of string to the neck of the barometer, then lower the barometer from the roof of the skyscraper to the ground. The length of the string plus the length of the barometer will equal the height of the building."

On basis of such a provoking answer, the examiner decided to fail the student without further notice, despite the student insistence that his answer was correct. The university decided to appoint an independent arbiter to investigate this issue and come up with the decision on who is right and who wrong.

The arbiter judged that the answer was indeed correct, but that answer did not show any pre-knowledge relating to physics. Still, the arbiter decided that the student must be brought to him and demanded that the student has only 6 minutes to prove that he has the basis knowledge in Physics. The student sat down for 5 minutes, did not say anything, look like he was very deep with his thoughts. The arbiter warned the student that time was running out, but at that moment the student replied by saying that there are more than one answer for the question, but he did not make up his mind on which one to choose from, but when he was asked to hurry up he replied:

"Firstly, you could take the barometer up to the roof of the skyscraper, drop it over the edge, and measure the time it takes to reach the ground. The height of the building can then be worked out from the formula H = 0.5g x t squared. But bad luck on the barometer.

"Or if the sun is shining you could measure the height of the barometer, then set it on end and measure the length of its shadow. Then you measure the length of the skyscraper's shadow, and thereafter it is simple matter of proportional arithmetic to work out the height of the skyscraper.

"But if you wanted to be highly scientific about it, you could tie a short piece of string to the barometer and swing it like a pendulum, first at ground level and then on the roof of the skyscraper. The height is worked out by the difference in the gravitational restoring force T = 2 pi sq root(l / g).

"Or if the skyscraper has an outside emergency staircase, it would be easier to walk up it and mark off the height of the skyscraper in barometer lengths, then add them up.
"If you merely wanted to be boring and orthodox about it, of course, you could use the barometer to measure the air pressure on the roof of the skyscraper and on the ground, and convert the difference in millibars into feet to give the height of the building.

"But since we are constantly being exhorted to exercise independence of mind and apply
scientific methods, undoubtedly the best way would be to knock on the janitor's door and sayto him 'If you would like a nice new barometer, I will give you this one if you tell me the height of this building'."

The student was Niels Bohr (1885-1962), the only Dane to win the Nobel prize for Physics.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Creating New Bounderies

I read today that many Christians are migrating back from different areas in Iraq to their old villages in northern Iraq, and that the regional government in Kurdistan (Barazani) is giving them all sorts of support in order to settle down. Those Iraqi Christians were forced to leave their villages during Saddam’s rule. In fact, some sources indicates that this displacing Christians from north Iraq took place before Saddam became the president, specifically, according to the same source, from 1975 onwards. They were forced to leave their land, their houses and villages and locate them in other areas all around Iraq, and in the meantime the government put non-Christians in their place.

Well, I called them non-Christians and not as written in the original article: “Christians were forced to leave their villages and territory and were replaced by Arabs”, which is not correct because in my opinion Arabs consist of different religions and social groups.

This counter-immigration of Christians back to their territory is a combined effort by the regional government in Kurdistan Iraq and the Christian Affairs Committee, where the two is trying to bring all Christians originally from these areas within one geographic area, which will later be part of the Kurdistan Iraq region (not as it is right now as as part of the province Ninewa). We are talking here about an approximate of 4 to 5 million people form villages such as Tilkeef, Karamles, Bakhdida, Al Qush and many others.

Further more, the Kurdish regional government already made a number of measures in order to make this process easier for immigrated people: by building houses, sport and education centers, renovate old and build new churches! In addition, is working on promoting the Assyrian language in primary schools, by financially support these schools and giving funds for printing books and staff training. All this effort is for the purpose of establishing an independent geographic entity for Christians that will provide social protection for their citizen rights in the future, according to a Kurdish official interviewed about this matter.

This news comes after the national assembly voted less than a month ago in a swift move with very slight majority on a law allowing all provinces in Iraq to run a referendum to see if the people would favor the federal status for Iraq. Personally I find it very strange that the national assembly members discuss the federation issue, and I am not talking about the sectarian violence that is raising day after day, but I am referring to the never-ending-debate among the different political parties on the very issue of the federation and the way it has been written in the new constitution. There are still many obvious gaps in that constitution where even the supporters of the federation admit that a lot of work needed to be done until full agreement is reached. Despite that, the national assembly took the decision!

Last week I was listening to a political analyst who said that since the end of the war in 2003 and till this month, October, approximately 1.5 million people were forced to leave their places and live now in other areas in Iraq. The same analyst said that between 1.2 and 1.5 million have left Iraq since the end of the war to mostly neighboring countries.

According to the BBC, more than 300,000 people were internally displaced since February this year. Further more, The UNHCR came with a result on the number of travelers to Syria, for example, saying that “2,000 people a day coming across, so it's more than 40,000 people a month just into Syria."

The full BBC article can be found here

My conclusion from all has been said is that no different between the people now on power from those during Saddam era? Both regimes forced people to abandon their homes; both reallocated (and still are) communities the way they see appropriate to their best interest. Both forced millions of Iraqis flee their country and became refugees all over the world,, but what make things worse is the pace of such actions, unbelievable!! Each party or group is acting quick, each sees justice with own way! For example, I don’t believe that Barazani did consult with the central government regarding giving northern Iraq Christians a favor and to arrange this counter-immigration I mentioned earlier, simply because “politicians and politics in Baghdad does not concern me” I don’t blame him, it is logical that he doesn’t need to consult with anyone. Why getting headache from something he shouldn’t be bothered with?? On the other side, the politicians in Baghdad are giving the best example of a shattered unity, by either having a group occupied with the best way to get more money, or another group thinking with whom they should put their loyalty (or bet on), or another group (or individuals) are shining with their attitude by insulting each other and criticize each other to the level of accusing each other of incompetence and sometimes accusing each other of the highest level of stupidity – watch any satellite channel to enjoy the bashing of one politician against the other.

Another conclusion I can draw from the current situation is that the whole chaos in Iraq is not chaotic after all. These actions is part of a programmed process, and a long-term political agenda. Yes, it is a planned process by people who really know the inside and outside of Iraqi society, Iraqi history, and geo-political nature of Iraq. They know what they are doing, really. I am not referring to a conspiracy theory or something similar to that, because such a theory is supposed to be made by one particular source, but in Iraq’s case there are many, each is pulling a string, and this is leading the country into more disastrous situation, parallel to the daily torture and killings.

How can someone categorize all those I mentioned above? I can only put them in one category: They all share the responsibility of the crime committed towards the innocent Iraqi people. I am not execluding the American administration from this responsibility too.

I can’t imagine someone who lived for more than 20 years in Basrah suddenly is being forced to live in Ramadi!! I can’t imagine someone who live in Baghdad will need a permit to go to see his brother who live in Amara!!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Die... For Freedom

Like many, I was shocked during the past days with the lancet report regarding the approximate number of people killed in Iraq since the invasion in 2003. Most surprising is the comments published on the Iraq Model Blog. It was more shocking to me the concept presented by the writer on that blog: for freedom it doesn’t matter how many lives should be sacrificed! That such a report is considered an insult to the souls of the Iraqis!!

There is no point in an attempt to turn the eyes and minds from the fact that the force that brought freedom to Iraq is having its share of the crime towards the Iraqi people, like many other criminals from inside the country and outside.

Whether it is 6 people or 600000 people, what difference does it make? Do those people who have been under the oppression of Saddam for decades ago have the right to live in peace? They do have the right to build the country with their own terms and conditions without any interference from any scum? It is not fair to turn the table around and distract people by point fingers to different direction while there are more and more people from different ages are falling down for the sake of something called “the export of freedom”. Anyone, in any country, living in any city or village in the whole world knows that the whole Iraq freedom issue is now sinking deep in the blood of innocent victims. There was a target to bring peace and order, and to put a democratic government for Iraq. All that did not happen, and will not happen; I am afraid!

I am not going to debate the accuracy of that report, especially taking into the consideration its timing which might grant some political gains to Bush opponents in congress. But I find it disgusting to eliminate and to burry the outcome of that report. The contradiction in dealing with this report is also outstanding, especially when the US department, the UN and the British government all praised the same source for bringing terrifying reports about the conflict in Congo some years ago. And now we see Bush disapproving the latest report without going into deeper analysis explaining why he doesn’t do so. The more contradictory the comments are, the more frustration is build up: Blair dismissed the report by saying that he only believes in the reports coming from doctors in the Iraqi hospitals, oh yeah? But the Iraqi doctors did indeed praise and confirmed the results of that report!

Any person understands that there are conflicting agendas of a ‘holy cause’ to some and green currency on the other. As some call it, there is for the GOOD OF ALL MANKIND thing in the process, but who is paying the price? The Iraqi are getting killed, forced to leave their houses, by leaving their country and almost start begging in neighboring countries just to support their families.

Why there should be comprise for the Iraqi people?

The Iraqi people deserves peace, for God’s sake… They deserve TO BREATH clean air like any other human being on this planet. They deserve to sleep at night without suddenly jumped out of their beds either by the sound of an explosion or by hearing the door of their houses smashed to pieces and seeing some god only knows who storming to arrest a member of members of his family. The Iraqis are tired of politicians’ lies and deception… no, Iraqis are frustrated of the greed that those politicians show.

Black color became the most demanded one in Iraq: there who mourn their poor and beloved dead ones are wearing black. There are those who kill, they also wear black! Black slogans are hanging in different locations, where names of victims are written. Even people who are afraid, they decided to wear black, from top to toe… maybe because other colors bring attention to them!!

Iraq and the Iraqi, from north to south, all deserve a better live, they do, but in their own way, not by importing other people’s culture, or other nation principles.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Quick Sorry Note

I don't know if anyone experienced the same thing in his/her blog, but for the past period I noticed that some of the comments I recieve are not correctly published on the main page for the related topic. When I click on "publish post" button under the moderate comments tab, the post just disapear and doesn't show on the main page.
I want to apologize for any inconvinience from the people who posted their comments but noticed that they are not published. Don't be upset because this is something out of my hand, at the moment.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Don't Shoot! ... I have another story to tell you

I don't have a lot to say about this book, my reasons are no different from these of my friend aNarki here - you took the words from my mouth :) As Kyubai put it in his comments regarding this book, "we Iraqis stick together"... and word must be spread all around.
The only thing I want to say about this book and its author(s) is a wish from deep of my heart that a lot of people buy it, or read, and I don't mean Iraqis only, because Iraqis live in this situation, but for people from other countries to be able to realize the disaster related to the real situation - not what the media is showing on TV and on newspapers.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Yara – voice of an angel from Lebanon

Due to the deteriorating music scene in the Arab world, where everyone wants to sing so they can become rich and famous I did not pay attention to the album when I received it some months ago. The album in question is called “Twasa Fiei” (be tender with me), and it is by a female singer from Lebanon called Yara. It is her first album, and as many newspapers, magazines and media channels said: it is Yara’s ladder to stardom. I regret very much I did not listen to the album earlier, and preferred to remain listening to music from my big collection, until that moment when I was looking for pieces of music background for a home DVD I was working on. Since then I was hooked up with the music of Yara.

“Finally, I found the perfect female voice that can REALLY SING Arabic music” That was my first reaction after hearing Yara’s album “Twasa Fiei”. I listened to the album once, twice and three times… and I still love the album.

The big bang came when Yara sang with the big Lebanese singer, Fadl Shaker, the song “Akhedny Ma3ak” (Take me with you). With this song, Yara’s voice was extraordinary beautiful, very emotional: her voice from the first word in the lyrics, her singing is like some cold breeze in a summer time refreshing the listener soul. To be fully fair, both singers were great, they were like telling us about their trip of eternal love and romance. The video clip of the song supported the lyrics and the melody by filming in a sort of paradise sort of place. It is like Adem and Eve in paradise, singing for each other, excellent choice. No wonder rumors about a relationship between the two singers were spreading in the media.

Maybe no one is used to the fact having a complete package of a great love or romantic song in one!

The main factor in distinguishing Yara from many of today’s female singers is her pure voice and the way words are coming out from her voice. Yara managed to lend a different taste, a different flavor, fitted perfectly with the atmosphere on every single song. On “Bala Eshk” (one of my favorites on the album), Yara was someone who didn’t care about love, did not want love – as the title means. To the contrary, in “Hub Kbier” (big love), her voice on that ballad was showing how someone can be desperate for love and can be full of emotions and ready to give that big love. Yara did not stop there; she proved that she can also do an amazing and wonderful performance in traditional Arabic music. “Lama tetalaa” (When you look at me) is a great example of this excellent signer. That song just remind me of classic Arabic tunes where a person listen to music and not only dance on it. But the illustration of excellence did not halt there, having Yara’s voice doubled in harmony on “Ayam” (days) was sort of haunting and very clever thing to do considering the atmosphere the song was providing. I am not going to talk about “Twasa Feie” (be tender with me) simply because it is the passport that took Yara to the heart of her fans all around the Arab world. However, Yara’s voice in “Alf Zaiak” (thousand people like you) showed powerful element to her voice with the way she deals with the Arabic scales. From the beginning of the song when she starts with “ya leel….” she gives us an illustration on how the Arabic maqam should be sung with the perfect intro to that that perfect song. By the way, the song is also featured in “twasa Feie” video clip, but by the girls preceding Yara into the singing contest, very smart and funny idea!

One thing worth mentioning is the mixing of that album. All involved did an outstanding job in mixing and producing this album. To name a few: the keyboard playing in the background of “Alf Zaiak” just gave another dimension to the song, especially towards the end of the chorus singing. Another example is “Bala Eshk”, the rhythm section of that song is just amazing, especially with the part “mali, w ana mali…”, you cannot have better than this.

Songs of the album are:
Bala Eshk بلا عشق
Law Bsalli لو بصلّي
Wana Janbak وانا جنبك
Hub Kbier حب كبير
Lama tetalaa لما تطلّع
Twasa Fiei توصّى فيّ
Nassitni Zamani نسيتني زمان
Alf Zaiak الف زيّك
Ayam ايام

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Don't Bomb Us - A blog by Al Jazeera Staffers

I might be a little bit late in finding this, but it is interesting to know that some employees from Al Jazeera network are blogging.

The link is above, and can also be found here

I am not doing some kind of a propoganda here, I just thought the blog worth some reading.