Friday, May 14, 2004

Some people were worried about Sunni-Shi`ite conflict in Iraq. I do not see evidence of that, or not yet anyway. But I certainly see evidence of Sunni-Shi`ite frictions--if not conflict--in the larger Arab world. Many Shi`ites feel that Arab Muslims have been largely silent about the plight of people in Najaf and Karbala'. There is that perception out there regardless whether it is true or not. Just today I saw on TV Ayatollah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah (the highest religious authority in Lebanon and who has influence among Shi`ites in Kuwait, Iraq, among other places, and whom I had interviewed in the past, and who has moderated his views over the years and now does not get along with Hizbullah at all) in his Friday sermon wondering why there was such a Muslim outcry over Fallujah in comparison with what he saw as silence over events in southern Iraq. In other news, a Friday preacher loyal to Muqtada As-Sadr (`Abdul-Hadi Ad-Darraji, Director of "the Office" of Muqtada As-Sadr) in Baghdad was openly recruiting suicide bombers (males and females). This gloomy reality of Iraq reminds me of a poem written by one of the greatest Iraqi poets--some of the greatest Arab poets are from Iraq, why Sinan?--, Badr Shakir As-Sayyab in the 1960s:(my translation)

"Death in the streets,
barrenness in the farms
Whatever we love dies.
Water has been restricted inside the homes,
And streams are running out of breath from drought.
The Tatars* have come,
a hemorrhage looms over the horizon,
our sun is blood, and our provisions are blood.
And Muhammad, the orphan, was put on fire,
and the night is brightened from his fire,
blood has boiled out of his feet, his hands, and his eyes,
and god was burnt down in his eyes.
...Is this my city, these potholes?
these bones?
Darkness emerges from its houses,
and blood is painted with gloom,
to erase its traces, so no passer-by can see..
Is this my city? With injured domes?"
*[a reference to those who sacked Baghdad in 1258 AD]