Thursday, January 4, 2007

The First Wave: 2003

Iraqi bloggers in 2003 that still blog (or important ones that discontinued blogging):
1. Salam Pax (Dec 2002)
2. Raed Jarrar (Dec 2002)
3. Emoul
4. Riverbend
5. ITM Brothers
6. Nabil
7. Hammurabi
8. Ays
9. Zeyad
10. Ihath
11. Fadhil Badran
12. Faiza Jarrar
13. Khalid Jarrar
14.Fayrouz Hancock
15. Ladybird
7 bloggers have also started out this year but their blogs have all been discontinued, the only one worthy of mention is Ghaith Abdul Wahid, the important Guardian photographer who blogged for three months starting June 2003.
This is what I would like to term the 'first wave' of Iraqi bloggers, it is the strongest wave yet because all of its bloggers are some of the most dedicated bloggers in the Iraqi blogosphere, it suffices to mention that it contains all the 'Big Five' Iraqi bloggers: Salam Pax, Riverbend, Iraq The Model, Zeyad, and Raed Jarrar - as well as many other well-known bloggers, including the introduction of the 2 most prominent families: the Fadhil and Jarrar families.
Which brings us to a question, why are the most famous bloggers introduced at the same year? Does the fact that they were all early to catch the train be the single most important factor in their come-uppance? I have read many latter-day blogs and a lot of them deserve a lot of the attention these holy ones got.
To answer that question, I felt that it would be quite fitting to have a look at some of the other blogs that showed this year which didn't get the same attention as them. And this has inspired me to select my first review (see previous post)


The Mesopotamian

The Mesopotamian has got a lot of the right ingredients for a successful Iraqi blog, since 99% of the audience of Iraqi blogs are American-readers, one would expect that The Mesopotamian's unhinged desire to please American readers with his friendly (and that's an understatement) portrayal of Iraqis as people who want to erect statues of George Bush would face little problems in raising Alaa, the creator of the blog, to the highest ranks of Iraqi blogodrome. Alas, that is not the case.

Alaa's first month of blogging, presents to you one of the defining aspects of this blog: Alaa spends most of his posts on thanking people over and over for reading his blog and being so kind and grateful and charming to liberate Iraq, even forgetting that he has to actually write something else ; He sounds so overexcited that I suspect he has lost many a clean underwear that month…Here's a sample that is more or less identifcal to five or more posts:
"My God, the other Iraqi bloggers must have experienced this too. The deluge has started already. But I am overjoyed, I try hard to read every comment. Most of them so full of Love. Yeah, it is about Love after all. Each comment deserves to be answered and discussed in depth. Forgive me everybody. The task is simply impossible. People ask questions; serious questions; questions that need to be answered. It makes you wonder; what for these multi-billion media empires if the most elementary information so badly required by the people are not available? "
While being friendly is always admirable, he does this too much that by the end of this month you feel like you want to punch him in the face to get him talking, Luckily, he does get to talking.

It is clear that Alaa is the embodiment of all the things Americans want to hear from an Iraqi: Undying loyalty and gratitude, complete faith and featurless obedience. Early posts suggests that all of Alaa's being is focused on highlighting everything that is good and wonderful about the new stasis of creation that he has found himself in…When things start to feel wrong in Falluja, Alaa is quick to curse and defame and to insist on the fact that those are "barbaric scum that has little to do with the majority of Iraqi people". Since then, he adapts his cumbersome, heavy-handed style into explaining his theories about how to wage the war on terrorism, - This proved useful for Alla at first, but there is little clue as to what went wrong on the reality in his blog, as things progressively get worse and worse, Alaa keeps on trying to assure us of the brilliance of George Bush, who he has a huge crush on, and the stupidity of everyone else. Also, his blog is largely void of any personal experiences or the daily life of an Iraqi, a crucial ingredient to the success of blog and a backbone of blogging in the first place, he only posts once about something personal, in my opinion the only really worthwhile post, about his grandmother but other than that, Alaa could be in another country and it wouldn't make a difference, on top of that, it seems to that the initial surge of drunken happiness has elevated Alaa into the dangerous territory of self-importance – you could actually envisage Alaa lighting up whatever he smokes, inhaling deep puffs, thinking it over and then proceeding to write down his deep-seated wisdom online for all to see with all the grace and seriousness that is required for the ordeal. Alaa is basically an armchair philosopher, with a main objective to praise Americans and condemn all their enemies, over and over again, to make you sure that we're going to win, but one wonders what Alaa will do when even his idol will adopt a strategy change.
So who is this blog for? In its style and ideology, the mentality behind this blog is very much like Ahmed al-Chalabi...An extremely gloated, overconfident all American glorification but little actual explanation or objective commentary. It is clear why has Alaa failed to break through : He's nowhere as journalistically integral as Zeyad, a powerful story-teller as Riverbend or to be a little in his own league: as intelligent, informed or diplomatic as ITM, Mesopotamian falls in the same category as Hammurabi, shadowy 2nd-hand versions whose un-American traits shuns them of being the cuddled like their higher-grade counterpart ITM, who has much to share with Alaa, but ITM knows the knobs that turn on the true patriotic American and they work them very well, The Mesopotamian is the clueless Iraqi puppy-love who has little to show for it when things get tough, his exceeding gratitude makes him come out as a bit too unreal, and mighty unprofessional at that, another point where he misses and the Fadhil brothers strike bullseye is that ITM guys are agnostic/atheists – they have no religion bias to hinder them and they can survey everyone with a comfortable objective distance, save the Americans of course, who're the main catch all along – Alaa has the unfortunate coincidence of being a Shia who observes his religion more or less, he's a staunch upright believer of Shia being treated unjustly throughout the whole three years there's barely a mention of Muqtada al-Sadr or Badr's death squads, or even a precise detailed reporting of major incidents such as al-Aimma bridge massacre or the Askari shrine explosions, and this lack of objectivity brings him at a grave disadvantage for being the American citizen's justification fix.
Alaa's writing was prolific at 2004, it noticeably slowed down at 2005, it continued at the same uneven rate in 2006, there are possible hints of abandonment, but I wouldn't expect it. His excessive nicety sometimes makes you wonder if he's doing all this just to hint someone out there to 'rescue that genius', to quote a fellow blogger. I do not know whether The Mesopotamian buys his own goods or not, but in either cases; he's a losing horse – At this particular league, ITM is a far more professional choice and they even won their sellout ticket, whether they meant it or not.
BLOG NAME: The Mesopotamian
AUTHOR: Alaa DATE: November 2003 LOCATION: Baghdad, Iraq SECT: Shiite GENDER: MALE SIMILAR BLOGS: Iraq The Model, Hammurabi, Nibras Kazimi. IMPORTANT POSTS Bibi
KEYWORDS: Pro-American, Anti-Sunni Insurgency. Analytical, Cumbersome.
PROS: Friendly. Not really sectarian, but has potential to be one.
CONS: Too firendly sometimes, extremely unobjecitve, Very unrepresentative of Iraqis in general, too condescending to American viewpoints, very unprofessional, daunting, ultimately boring.
VERDICT: An extremely American-Starstruck Iraqi, inside his official tone: all emotion but little explanations. If you want a convincing American sellout, stick to Iraq The Model.