Before now poetry has taken notice
Of wars, and what are wars but politics
Transformed from chronic to acute and bloody?
from "Build Soil"
Robert Frost

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Iraq Gov. Moves Against AMS

Representatives of the Government of Iraq entered a mosque in Baghdad today to close the offices and shut down the radio station of the Association of Muslim Scholars- a Sunni religious network often seen as supporting or affiliated with some of the more radical elements of the Sunni insurgency, including elements of al-Qaeda.

Aswat al-Iraq (Voices of Iraq) has the story-

Baghdad, Nov 14, (VOI) - The Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) said on Wednesday that the government's Sunni Awqaf (endowments) department closed the association's head-office at Um al-Qura mosque in western Baghdad and ceased its radio broadcast.

"A force sent by the head of the Sunni Awqaf department Ahmed Abdel Ghafour al-Samarrae forced employees of the Muslim Scholars Association to leave its headquarters at Um al-Qura mosque and to cease its radio broadcast under orders from al-Samarrae," the association said in a press release published on its official Web site.

The history of AMS and its leadership is somewhat long and complex-

The Association of Muslim Scholars was formed just after the invasion of Iraq as a religious group concerned with representing Sunnis in Iraq. As such, the ASM oversaw thousands of Sunni mosques, and hundreds of thousands of worshippers.

The AMS started out non-violently opposed to the war and the occupation of Iraq, but quickly became an encouraging mouthpiece for many elements of the Sunni insurgency. Official AMS releases indirectly encouraged the insurgency, while Sunni Imans within the association sent many young men to fight without directly telling them to wage jihad. AMS condemned the siege of Falluja in late 2004, and used their network of Sunni mosques to gather and funnel water and food into the city before the battle in November 2004.

AMS continued to occasionally speak out against the worst crimes perpetuated against the people of Iraq, including admonitions to al-Zarqawi to limit his killing of Shi'a after the bombing of Samarra's Golden Mosque. In doing so, AMS continued to walk the fine line between encouraging the insurgency and alienating fellow Iraqis.

Late in 2006, the leader of AMS, Harish al-Dhari, fled to Jordan in advance of a warrant issued for his arrest by the Government of Iraq. He continued to speak out against the GoI and the newly-formed Anbar Awakening Council of sheiks co-operating with coalition forces and the Iraqi government.

He recently responded to questions about splits within the AMS in an interview with the Iraq News Network:
About your question of AMSI split, I answer that there is no such split as some thinks. There are two figures of our consultation council who have joined the new Council of Iraqi Scholars that recently installed. ...
AMSI is more tied [tight?] than ever from the point view of all aspects.
The Council of Iraqi Scholars was formed earlier this year in response to a call from the Sunni waqf to stop sectarian violence and promote national reconciliation. Some of the scholars call for "legal ways and means to end the occupation"- a long step from insurgency, while Sheikh Ahmad Abdul Ghafour Al Samarrae says that all Iraqis must work to promote moderation and counter the takfiri. Takfiri is the radical, messianic branch of Islam that calls for war against all non-Muslims while at the same time laying the groundwork for fundamental Islamic rule- in short, al-Qaeda and similar groups. Sheikh Ahmad Abdul Ghafour Al Samarrae is also the head of the Sunni waqf and the man who ordered the closure of the AMS offices and radio station today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Massive Link Spam

(AKA Blogworld Pt. 2)

The night of my last post was the opening party for the blogworld expo. There was a light dinner to be had with conversations yelled over the thumping music. There were awards handed out to the winners of the 2007 Weblog Awards (congratulations to Michael Yon for the Milblog win, and Michael Totten for the Best Middle Eastern blog). Best online comic went to a site near and dear to my (nerdy) heart- XKCD has math and computer jokes, romance, and obscure references. Mouse over the comics for shockingly funny notes hidden within the frame. Best of all, the opening party had an open bar. I managed to match Uncle Jimbo and AWTM drink for drink till we all stumbled home.

The next day was a blur of people and motion made all the more fantastic by my lack of sleep and food and compounded by too much caffeine and a slight touch of hangover. Hey, it's Vegas, right? The only thing I didn't understand is why the restrooms stock a half-standard width toilet paper. Seriously. People come to Vegas to see strippers, not to feel like one!

That night was spent at a so-called tequila bar that for some reason happened to also be the first place I found Guinness and decent whisky in Vegas. We gathered all the milbloggers and associates around (and since the inestimable Steve Green seemed recovered from his last bout with milblogger parties, we invited him along). We weren't long into the night before someone (Uncle Jimbo, if my memory serves) clumsily opened a wallet and "accidently" dropped a challenge coin ringing to the table. T Boggs and I dropped ours, and Major Z followed immediately with his own, and the words "Anyone beat me having one made just for me?". BLACKFIVE's response glittered blue and white on the tabletop- the Seal of the President of the United States.

Jack and Jill Army sat together looking cute and happy to be together again. Speaking of cute, Townhall columnists Mary Katherine Hamm and Katy Favazza stopped in for a few hours. The SpouseBUZZ ladies sat together, trading obscure references and setting someone up teh bomb.
Bill Roggio and Paul Hanusz traded stories with Butterfly Wife. Michael Totten's friend Ali stopped by as well.

I ended up back at the hotel around 5am, following far too many scotches (and a brief history of same from BLACKFIVE) and a few long talks with new friends. I flew out at 8am.

You can sleep when you're dead.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Which is a better way to attract wanderers to a blog booth: free beer or beautiful women in short skirts? That's a question that may well be answered at the first Blogworld and New Media Expo in Las Vegas. Me, I'm currently more attracted to the beer- something that the women in my life will probably be happy(er) to hear. Yeah mom, you're on that list.

It's been an eventful day. I got up earlier than I ever thought I would while in the City of Sin, and the whirlwind hasn't stopped since. I was interviewed today by a French radio/news service (I'll post a link once it airs), and was tapped as a last-minute panelist addition to the conference session "From the Front" which as the name implies covers blogging from combat zones. I also started to explore some other venues for publication.

Speaking of venues, the quote of the day belongs to Bill Roggio with a gem that I'll paraphrase from memory as "Things have gotten to the point where I need to have a new blog on my blog". Blogs on blogs is like Starbucks across the street from Starbucks. What is the world coming to?

I'll post some pictures and maybe talk a little more later- for now it's time to think about heading towards the door for the opening night party at the Hard Rock Cafe. I'll be knocking back some of those beers and talking with newly-met old friends.

Friday, November 02, 2007


There was peace in the twilight / And for a moment or more
There was a world without danger / A world without war
And I would take all your suffering / If it would do any good
Cause we are one flesh / One breath, one life / One blood

I was with her a couple of nights ago, driving back from a weekend with the family. The sun was setting- the globe of it was crimson and hung low in the clouds. I found it odd that the clouds did not catch and tease the light like they normally do, taking on its color and spreading fleeting glory across the darkening sky. The sunset fascinated me me; I found it beautiful and captivating and terrible all at the same time.

I mentioned that it was similar to some I had seen in Iraq- I did not mention which sunset still haunts fading in my memory, the sunset that the other night was most like. I pulled off the freeway a few exits early and sat at the top of the ramp for a few minutes, quiet in my thoughts, and watching the sun slowly sink.

She looked at me and said "You miss it, don't you?".  She struck closer than she knew: at that moment I was remembering it, but not missing it.

I do miss it, and I don't.

I miss the rush- I miss the excitement of missions, of the hide&seek "treasure" hunt, the excitement of everything going right. It's an awesome feeling to go to sleep at night with all of your guys ok, a few more bombs out of the ground and a few more terrorists in it. 

I don't miss the boredom- the waiting for something to happen, the third time through The Simpsons because no one can sleep and our next mission is still a couple hours off.

I don't miss the way the "real world" intruded into Iraq. 

I wish I could miss the way Iraq intrudes into the real world.

I stood by the river / That ran red with shame
I stood in the killing fields / Where death had no name
I stood with my brothers / And awaited flood
And we were one flesh / One breath, one life / One blood

Then I fell to the ground / Tasted ashes on my tongue
Thinking that only the dead / Are forever young

Lyrics from Terence Jay - One Blood

Thursday, November 01, 2007

2007 WebLog Awards

Voting is open for the 2007 WebLog Awards. The winners will be announced at the Blogging and New Media expo in Las Vegas Nov 8&9th. Acute Politics is not in the running this time, so you won't have to worry about excessive, self serving promotion coming from this page. That'll teach me not to update! Seriously, though... the list has some great blogs that really deserve to win some recognition.

On the MilBlog front, the contenders are:

Michael Yon
The Long War Journal
American Soldier

Jeff Emanuel
Badgers Forward
The Sandbox
Army of Dude