Wednesday, July 26, 2006

wrong idea, wrong time

On 26 April 2004 the Iraq Interim Governing Council announced a new flag for post-Saddam Iraq. The occupied government stated that from around 30 competing entries, it had chosen a design by the distinguished Iraqi artist-cum-architect Rifat al-Chaderchi (aka Rifat Chadirji) .

The flag was white, with parallel blue-yellow-blue bands across the bottom quarter or third; the blue bands represented the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, and the yellow represented Iraq's Kurdish minority (the reason for this symbolism was unclear, but the flag of Kurdistan does feature a yellow sun). In the middle of the white field was a large Islamic crescent which was, unusually, depicted in a shade of blue.The design marked a notable break with the colours used in other Arab flags, which have lengthy histories – green and black are used to represent Islam and red is used to represent Arab nationalism. Islamic crescents are usually depicted in green or red in Arab heraldry. (Not confusing the flag colours of Iraq's non-Arab neighbour Iran which represent cultivation (green), peace (white) and defending Iran's territory (red)). The new flag's predominantly blue-on-white appearance immediately led to controversy in Iraq because of its resemblance to the flag of Israel, with whom Iraq has had considerable antagonism (a number of the original proposals for the Israeli flag included yellow). The new flag was reported to have been burned by insurgents in Fallujah on 27 April 2004, the day before its planned official adoption. Massive protests took place after the announcement in other provinces as well. In the face of the controversy, adoption of the blue crescent flag appears to have been abandoned. At the handover ceremony on June 28, a slightly modified version of the 1991 flag was used, retaining the "Allahu akbar" but with a stylized script replacing the handwriting.

This brings me to my point: Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki is due to speak to Congress this week. Last Saturday Maliki renounced Israel for its raids in Lebanon and Gaza and called on the world to bring an end to Israel's actions. Congressional Democrats are rushing over themselves in a vain attempt to recapture their boosted numbers which followed the Dubai port debacle earlier this year. They are throwing a fit, saying his address should be cancelled under he apologizes to Israel for 'failure to condemn Hezbollah's aggression and recognize Israel's right to defense'.

They think moving to the right of the Republicans by using interventionist foreign policy gambits is the solution to their insecurity over foreign policy. Everybody loves Israel right? The Congressional Democrats here take the idea that the Iraq government is entirely under US control or even that they still 'owe' us something for all the blood and treasure we've lost, way too seriously. Maliki is in no position to argue an alliance with Israel, considering all of the major parties are virulently and openly anti-Semitic. It might be their only common viewpoint and for Maliki to even recognize the right of Israel to exist would fit him for a pair of cement overshoes. I thought the Iraqis were to be independent, but now we expect them to share all of our positions? Or what will you do, congressional Democrats? Maybe stop the fucking war?!?!?

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