Friday, December 19, 2008
أحذية Arabic for SHOES
To Iraqis, Muntadhar al-Zeidi is a hero. Zeidi is also an Iraqi journalist, now infamously known for hurling his shoes at President Bush. I thought that by now, we (the media) would have stopped discussing the shoe fiasco but here I am blogging about it. Does anyone remember when Iraqis were seen slapping their shoes on Saddam Hussein's statue after his fall? That may put it in perspective for you, just how disrespectful it is to slap or hurl your shoes at someone in the Iraqi culture. An Iraqi throwing shoes at President Bush was a sign of disrespect at its deepest level, and it was interesting to see how Iraqi television stations covered the incident. They hailed him a hero. Demanded his release from prison. I'm willing to bet Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki secretly has the desire to free him, but he has to remember to appease the public and take careful care of Iraqi/U.S. relations.
Shoe story aside, we've been distracted. Does anyone care to know what President Bush was in Iraq FOR? Didn't think so. You'd rather watch the embedded youtube video of President Bush dodging shoes.
Here it is...it's just one of hundreds of versions on the internet.
Now for the real story.
SOFA (state of the forces agreement) AKA "the status of forces agreement which provides a schedule for America's withdrawal from it unpopular engagement in Iraq and the rules governing America's presence there until then."
A SOFA deal is exactly what Americans and Iraqis have been waiting for, and all we can talk about is a pair of size 10 shoes being thrown at Mr. Bush. Well, I'm done laughing. More importantly, Al-Maliki signed the dotted line. The agreement in short, outlines a withdrawal date. Forces will stay in Iraq until December 31, 2011, BUT they will withdraw from Iraqi streets by the end of June 2009.
My thoughts inserted: I never saw the end coming. According to the SOFA agreement, the U.S. is finished with Iraq. But here's some food for thought: after we leave, there will be no shortage of sectarian strife, factional clashes or internal feuding. I wonder where Iraqis will be three years from now. Better off? Or are they worse off now and in the future then they were before the Baathist regime came to an end? And has it REALLY come to an end?
Most recent report dated Dec. 17, 2008: Up to 35 Iraqi Ministry of the Interior officials (some ranking as high as General) were arrested over the past three days. The New York Times says they're accused of "quietly" working to reconstitute the Baath Party.
Iraq has long been run by corruption. It will take at least a century of political dissension to change that. Maybe even longer...