Monday, 9 March 2009

How I introduced Nuggets into the land of War

Today, to prevent a possible explosion of my head from the mess that is life (you know that i really mean lack of...), I went shopping. Such Normalcy. In Iraq. :)



Basically this is an unspoken rule, where when it starts to get hotter, you need start actually visiting people and places. Forget the occasional bousts of gunfire, 'its just people protesting against the iranians'.

Therefore I cannot wear anything with a smart coat on top as I have been doing for the past months. Around December time, I was far to preoccupied with sulking on a sofa, so when it came to getting ready to visit Z or N or whoever, I put on jeans, and a coat. On top of my Pajama top. Should I really mention that when the woman of the house finally wrestled me out of my coat, and exclaimed how "pretty, but aren't you cold habebti?"(-mental response: well why do you think I wanted to keep my coat on?).

My grandfather chuckled loudly with laughter. Fortunatley, no one apart from my grandfather and sister had noticed I had remained unchanged from my pajamas. Such observation skills do we iraqis have, its a wonder how anything manages to get past us.


So no more pajamas and coats for me. Shopping went well, until one certain phase of shopping was reached. Undergarment shopping.

In Iraq, most of underwear stalls (you rarely get shops just for one certain type of clothes) for women are filled with things from 'al quroon il wusta'. i.e. the Middle Ages. They are greying, and old, and weirdly shaped. And made of material that feels like it has been cut out of potato sacks. Therefore, the only solution is to go to the garishly loud stalls, with all their brightly imported from China goods.

Suprisingly, the garish stalls had nothing but brightly coloured hawain shorts or boxers or whatever they're called nowadays.

An hour later of wandering aimlessly, and laughing at how my dad walked ahead, I saw a shop not on the high street. With headless plastic models showing off scary looking underwear.



Basically, I had found a shop (notice not stall, but a shop), that sold underwear for women. Ones that didn't look like they were sown while the factory workers were drunk/stoned.

The colour inside the shop, was a dark pink, with lighting that wasn't bright enough. It kind of made me feel sleepy. All the shop needed now was a smoke machine.

There was no one there, but usually after a while, the shop keeper comes down to serve you.

So I chose happily, and we waited. Chose some more because I got bored of waiting. Waited some more, and then when i hear the 'naam?' (yes?). I am too scared to turn around, because I've realised its a guys voice. Usually, I have no problem with buying all my clothes from guys as is the case in Iraq. But with underwear...in a shop like this one, I kind of hoped, nay expected, a female to serve me. I mean even in the UK, underwear shops for females had female sellers. Or at least had two sellers, one male and one female. Ah, how I miss the choice.


Leaving the shop, I spend the following ten minutes complaining to my sister who does not consolidate, but rather laughs, and rather loudly too. What do I want? An islamic state like Saudi? Well, you'll be suprised (or not) to hear, all their under wear shops are also manned by guys...http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7908866.stm. In Iraq though, it has absolutley nothing to do with religion, and solely to do with the fact that the souk is a man's world. Its considered kind of not so good if you're a woman and you run your buisness (unless its a salon or food), because buisness requires the 'brutality and bravery of men'. *ahem*. Welcome to the after shocks of war.

I just want the ability to choose who serves me, or at least not have a male seller smirk at me, as I try to stop from explaing myself to a stranger.


I have babbled long enough at the horror that occured to me today. Looking at the bright side, at least I didnt get shot by the distant gunfire heard. Or 'fireworks', (I'm not that easily fooled, nor do I live in a rainbows and butterflys la la land).


Onto the main story. My sister complained bitterly of hunger, to the point that I was sure someone was about to hand her a free meal just to make her be quiet.

No such thing occured, but as we drove past shops, we realised there were no food shops/stalls in sight. ?!!! We make a resolution to stop by the first thing we see. Happens to be a stall selling finger chips. As i look down the road, a wave of food cafes and stalls appear.

People walk past the finger chips guy without even turning their heads. He wears a tattered jumper, and beads of sweat lie on his forehead, as he stands next to the hot metal thing.

Really, when there are Mcdonald-esque fast food stores a few minutes away, no one is really going to bother with the finger chips guy.


The finger chips guy is now a rare breed. Before the war, he was to be found in every park and every fairground and outside most schools . Until the parks and fairgounds and schools became battlefields.

But here he stood. The rare finger chips guy.

My mother is going to kill me for persuading family to eat here, and so risk food poisoning.

I do it anyway, and minutes later, our finger chips are ready, as he smiles and hands burning hot food to us. My father turns away ready to go eat in the car (yeah, I know..), but I complain that I'm going to get thirsty soon, and so we need to buy drinks.

So we end up eating outside next to finger chips guy. A few people buy finger chips 'ala al shaheeha malatkum' - basically this means, they're not hungry, but seeing us eating finger chips made them crave it.

We and a few guys are now hanging around finger chips guy, eating finger chips and drinking pepsi. A few jokes are made, laughter.

A few people leave. A few walk by.

We remain eating and drinking. My father has finished, and now just stands waiting for us. Finger chips guy starts talking about buisness and says 'economic recession' in english.


I mention that people want more than finger chips now. (Was i being subconsciously cryptic? Perhaps). I go to the car, and get a frozen bag on chicken nuggets. My sister has a very select diet...My sister follows the bag of nuggets with her eyes, and my father shakes his head, in the way that says 'what are you doing?'. In an answer to his silent question, I tell him my little sister is still hungry, and if 'Ammo' ('uncle'-this is a reference to Finger chips guy) doesnt mind, he could fry them now for her. Finger chips guy smiles, and says 'itdalilee'. (of course?).My father says "all 100 nuggets?". :D

I explain, that there's no other way, because the bag would open in the car and fill the clean car with crumbs and raw chicken mush. That seemed to work. I hand the bag to the Finger Chips guy and he fries them within seconds. He places them in paper, with the paper in a flower arrangement. He makes around ten of these flower arrangements, and there's still more nuggets waiting.


My sister manages to eat one and three quarters of another. I eat the quarter grudgingly. I feel bad for throwing food away, as everytime I do, I'm haunted by images of starving children. Yes, i do need help.


What to do with the 27 remaining nugget flowers? "Sell them". As soon as I'd uttered this phrase, a child had spotted the colourful flower with nuggets and was screaming at his father. Ten minutes later 8 nugget flowers had been sold.


When we walk off, the finger chips guy shakes all of our hands, and I can still remember his smile. I don't want the Finger Chips guy to be extinct. Not because I like his food, not because of pity for him and his tattered jumper, not even because he smiled a lot. It is because to me, he represents the culture which i don't want to disintergrate amongst the incoming flux of Mcdonalds and Starbucks imitators.

I want to see a happy finger chips guy, surrounded by families with chubby children, I want to see the finger chips guy in shiny fairgrounds with a sparkling deelab il hawa (ferris wheel).


Now I wish I did live in a rainbows and butterflys la la land. Stupid Reality.

78 comments:

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

As long as Iraq has people like you, Touta, there will always be a finger chips guy. :) Don't worry, "McDonalds" and "Starbucks" are a novelty right now. Eventually they will just be another place to eat.

I mean even in the UK, underwear shops for females had female sellers. Or at least had two sellers, one male and one female.

lol! I don't see too many guys here selling women's underwear. Usually, except for places like Victoria's Secret, women's lingerie is sold along with many other things in the store. And usually I see women in those departments. You may end up with a male checkout person though.

Now if you were in the market for some power tools, that's usually where you run into male salespeople. :)

C.H. said...

LOL, Touta, I read that same story about Saudi Arabia on BBC a couple of weeks ago. I didn't know that Iraqi women were facing the same problem. I don't even want to think about how difficult that must be.

I imagine its only a matter of time before Starbucks and McDonald's officially come to Iraq. You know, when I was in Tijuana over the weekend there was a very nice Starbuck's cafe there, and I ended up spending an evening in it, even as the sun was setting, something that means danger in a city hit by violence.

I suppose my only objection to what you say is your comment about starving children. I know I haven't been to Iraq, but I have met Iraqis who do not have the same "before the war" mentality as Baghdadis because things were even worse for them in their cities (such as Nejef, Kerbela, Kufa) before that. Children were starving in the streets of Southern Iraq because of Saddam's greed and the genocidal oil for good program that he exploited on his people. Today, there is a lot to be done...if only every city had a few people like you to pass out chicken nuggets we could solve the good crisis facing Iraq, right? :D

I also think that Iraq has been in a state of war since 1980 really, when the Iran-Iraq war started. After 8 years of conflict and merciless destruction of the Kurdish people, the Gulf War ravaged Iraq's infrastructure, then came the 1991 uprising, years of sanctions, the 2003 invasion, and six years of terrorist attacks by genuine scumbags determined to bring Iraq down. I don't see when there was ever a period of calm that settled over ALL of Iraq in the last 30 years.

What do you think?

JG said...

Men working in ladies underwear shops is bizarre! I understand your discomfort.

The only thing I can compare it to is one time I went into the ladies section of a big store thinking of buying underwear for a girlfriend. It freaked me out because I was thinking that the staff would think I'm some kind of lowlife pervert checking out womens' underwear!! I ended up just walking out without buying a single thing, and with a red face!

The finger chips guy sounds like a nice man. I hope he makes a comeback in Iraq! ;)

Corey,

I suppose my only objection to what you say is your comment about starving children.

I think Touta meant starving children in general, not necessarily in Iraq. But yes, there are starving children in Iraq whether you choose to acknowledge that fact or not.

I have to say I hate wasting food too. I have a huge aversion to it.

C.H. said...

JG,

Of course there are starving children in Iraq today. There are starving children here in California, I must tragically admit.

My point was that it is not something that has recently been brought to Iraq in the last few years. Tens of thousands of children and countless others starved to death under Saddam Hussein, although some people, like Sean Penn, would have you believe it was an oasis of peace where everyone had equal rights and was treated fairly by a benevolent leader.

JG said...

My point was that it is not something that has recently been brought to Iraq in the last few years

Nobody said, or even suggested, that it was! Your 'objection' is pointless if you don't mind me saying so, Corey.

Sean Penn, would have you believe it was an oasis of peace where everyone had equal rights and was treated fairly by a benevolent leader

That's silly. Sean Penn does not think that!

C.H. said...

Sean Penn went to Iraq in 2002 to meet with reps from the Iraqi gov't. Forgive me, but I am offended when he has nothing but harsh words for his own government but is eager to calmly discuss matters with some of the world's most brutal and despotic gov'ts, inclduing Saddam's Iraq, Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran.

I only wish he would use a bit of that logic to discuss matters with former President Bush instead of calling him names. Penn recently made a movie about gay rights...he had a big speech about it at the oscars and talked about "Shame in the eyes of America's future generations" beceause California voted for a ban on gay marriage.

If only he had that same outrage when attending Friday prayers at a government run mosque in Tehran. What about the shame of homosexuals being executed by Iran?

hhh, I don't want to get too worked up over this. Touta, my deep apologies for turning your blog into a political battleground.

JG said...

some of the world's most brutal and despotic gov'ts are some of Americans best pals, Corey.

Just off the top of my head we've got the honourable list of Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco, Uzbekistan (who's leader boils opponents alive, but hey George Bush seems to get on just fine with him here).

Venezuela is a democracy, Corey. Even if you do not like Chavez he is elected unlike the Saudi dictators who are wined and dined at the White House.

I have no desire to keep defending Sean Penn. Just wanted to correct the record. You said:

Sean Penn, would have you believe it was an oasis of peace where everyone had equal rights and was treated fairly by a benevolent leader

That is a lie and you know it.

I am also sorry for turning this thread into a battlefield (lol). We can discuss these things another time...

JG said...

Just one more thing...

but I am offended when he has nothing but harsh words for his own government but is eager to calmly discuss matters with some of the world's most brutal and despotic gov'ts, inclduing Saddam's Iraq

Are you offended that Domald Runsfeld was so "eager to calmly discuss matters" with Saddam? Oh, and to sell him weapons too?

At least Senn Penn wasn't selling weapons to Saddam! Eh?

C.H. said...

Find me a quote where Penn expressed criticism of Saddam and then we can say whether or not it was a "lie".

Not once in my life have I ever defended KSA, Morocco, or any of the other countries you mentioned, and I am as disgusted by American government officials shaking hands with the Saudi royals just as much as I am to see Sean Penn shake hands with Iranian leaders. Personally I think the the Iraqi Air Force should bomb Riyadh every time Iraqi blood is spilled in a suicide bombing, and hopefully the Lions of the Iraqi Army will take a stand against the Wahabbi nutjobs who continue to savage attacks, like we saw today in Abu Ghraib.

Chavez was "elected", but by doing so he has shut down many of his main opposition groups. Also, holding an election to scrap term limits and stay in power raises plenty of questions. Using the tools of a democracy to shut it down is NOT democracy.

C.H. said...

"Are you offended that Domald Runsfeld was so "eager to calmly discuss matters" with Saddam?"

-JG

Yes! Watching Rumsfeld approach that megalomaniac and proudly shake his hand was despicable. But then again, the black and white photos of FDR sitting beside Stalin are also despicable.

The most heinous crime of all was when Papa Bush decided to abandon the Iraqis in 1991 and leave them at the mercy of Saddam.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

JG,

some of the world's most brutal and despotic gov'ts are some of Americans best pals, Corey.

Ahhh, so what shall it be, sanction them or invade them? Both have worked soooo well in the past, no?

I take it then that you disapprove of those people who say we should talk to the Iranians? After all, one might say they are a despotic theocracy.

Touta,

If you prefer an end to political discussion here, please let me know. I will respect whatever you decide.

Corey,

Nice to see you survived Tijuana. :)

Touta said...

Lynnette,
power tools. hmph. Middle eastern men+power tools=national danger. :D hehehe

C.H,
everyone has a 'before the war' mentality, because although we did suffer under saddam, we are still suffering now, and you are wrong about the baghdadi attitude-on the contrary it is the opinion of many. Of MY generation. (i'll explain more later when i have time). I did mean starving children everywhere, but you forget that thousands are starving now, and on top of that, working on the streets too.
Ever heard out of the frying pan into the fire? well,it is very much the case in Iraq, but I suppose freedom has a high price.

JG,
we should all resort to internet buying. :D that or robot sales people. hehehe.
And you're right-theres starving children everywhere. Makes us all even more so lucky.

To All: I dont mind political debates since it has very much to do with humanatarian issues, and since i love discussing humanitarian issues, it is okay, as long as there are no name calling. (the occassional one may be passed and that i can understand) :P

C.H. said...

No name calling? LOL, where is the fun in that? Just kidding ;)

I don't really like that either. But having debates about humanitarian issues is most certainly a good thing.

To all of you, Touta, Lynette, etc. I have posted a bunch of photos of on my blog of my trip to Tijuana, so check it out when you get the chance :D

hhhh, now I need to get started on writing the article :)

attawie said...

Boring me is so against fried food but once it's in the street instead of waiting in the long line of "deelab il hawa"; I would happily run for the finger chips guy (and if chicken nuggets are there, then wow).

The last ten lines made me realized that I want to live in a rainbows and butterflys la la land! Maybe we could be neighbors :D

Anonymous said...

CH, the world could have long ago stopped starvation in Iraq if the US hadn't controlled the sanction system to intentionally create hardships for the Iraqi people to get them to get rid of Saddam themselves.

It was a very cruel and cynic practice that was counter productive since it only weakened every part of Iraqs society and Saddams regime could actually feed off it. And it was the USA that was the culprit!

Hell, you even refused to allow imports of pencils for school children since "the lead in them is a dual use product that can be used to make weapons". Which is bullshit and which was only meant to punish ordinary Iraqis, along with so many other similar restrictions.

After punishing Iraqs population with severe sanctions for 12 years there's the invasion, the devastation and complete dismantling of what's left of their, admittedly corrupt, society. A couple of hundreds of thousands of deaths and 4 million refuges.

Yet YOU seem to believe that the USA is the greatest good ever to come into contact with Iraq. Yeah right! Why the fuck can't you guys stay on your own continent and take care of your own problems?

C.H. said...

Anon, I don't even understand why I am responding to you. First off all, the international community was firmly behind the sanctions, not just the US. It was the UN who enabled Saddam Hussein through the corrupt and even genocidal "oil for food" program, which brought kickbacks to both Saddam's henchmen and their UN counterparts.

When anti-American haters like yourself blame the "US government" it sounds stupid. The US government, over the last few decades, has consisted of many different individuals and administrations who pursue completely different policies. The sanctions were a tragic mistake on the part of the entire international community and as I said, the Iraqi people decided they had had enough of Saddam in 1991. Bush 41 should have stood behind them and that way, the sanctions, the 2003 invasion, and the destruction of Iraq by the Sh*t for brains "resistance" that actually thinks it is doing something good for Iraq never would have had to happen.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Touta,

power tools. hmph. Middle eastern men+power tools=national danger. :D hehehe

lol! Yeah, sometimes I type without thinking of context. :)

JG,

Seems Anonymous disagrees with you. He seems to feel we should have just left Saddam alone. No sanctions, no invasion. Perhaps we should have tried talking to him. Oh, wait, didn't we try that?

Anonymous,

The problem with something like sanctions, or even some of the laws that are passed, is that they may be all encompassing. Their initial purpose may be quite worthy, but they can have adverse affects that were never intended. And yet there is always pressure to do something. You will note JG's dig earlier about our "friendships" with despots.

I always preferred removing Saddam in 1991, and yet we did that in 2003, and that created other problems. There is never an easy answer. And, please, don't just say we (the US) should mind our own business and stay on another continent. The world today is far more inter-connected than ever before. A good example is the economic recession that is gripping the US today. It is also rippling through the global economy.

If given the opportunity, the people of the Middle East have much to contribute to the world. And, no, I'm not talking about oil. But they will not be able to do so if they are hampered by factions that seek power only for their own selfish purposes (be they religious or secular).

C.H.,

I'll check out the photos when I get a chance. :)

C.H. said...

I imagine that Iraq and the Middle East would be very different today if the 1991 rebellion had suceeded (which it nearly did). The uprising was the biggest indication that Iraqis were fed up with Saddam Hussein and his belligerence, as evident by the fact that 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces rose up against him.

It would be nice...my generation (which is also Touta's generation as well) would have been able to grow up in a world without Saddam, with the roots of freedom already in place. Saddam supporters will counter by saying that Iran would have made headway then, but as we see today, Iraqis are too devoted to their country to allow a centuries old rival infringe on their sovereignty.

BTW Touta, did you see the latest with the shoe thrower? He was jailed for 3 years. Iraqi Mojo said it best earlier...he should have thrown the shoes at the FIRST George Bush for what he did in 1991.

Touta said...

Saddam is not a problem any more, and personally there is a lot more emphasis on saddam in the west than here right now.
When I visited the Uk a few months ago, and I was asked about my thoughts on the war etc, the main reason that everyone used to justify how great the war was, was because 'it removed saddam from power'.
And the thing that a lot of iraqis cannot come to deal with, is the world has had years to remove him from power, but chose to silently let iraqis suffer for decades.
And then of course the sudden shia-sunni thing right after the war didnt help, especially since those that are my generation did to an extent know the divide, but no one looked at their neighbour and blamed them for bombs and destruction.
Unfortunaly, just as the sectarian violence seems to have died down now, there have been recently explosions all over the country.
And annoyingly, theres so much wrong in the world still, but absolutely nothing is being done about it. I'm still unsure of what to think about the war, but part of me is annoyed that Bush was clearly following in the footsteps of dear daddy, when there are tens of other countries which also need to be helped immediatley.

C.H. said...

Bush has helped those other countries. He has donated more aid to sub-saharan Africa than any other president in US history. Did you see the reaction to his visit in Dar es Salaam. It was as if they were welcoming a God, waving American flags and cheering for him as his motorcade made its way down the streets.

Then there is Tibet. While Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are embracing China, Bush honored the Dalai Lama with an award and praised his efforts.

...and Touta, I find it very hard to believe that Iraqis "didn't know a sectarian divide" before 2003. I have a friend who, along with his family, has spent his entire life in exile because of what Saddam did in 1991, burning down Karbala and massacring hundreds of thousands of Shia who had risen up against him.

Everyone in the media is so quick to blame "ancient hatred" for the violence today in Iraq, but remember that many of these scumbags who are strapping on bombs are the same people who cheered Saddam when smoke was billowing over Karbala and its holiest shrines were being ransacked. He turned Iraqis against each other and made them divided, and people like Zarqawi kept it going.

Touta said...

Well, me and my friends didnt emphasise on such divisions pro war-it was intensified by the war, and you cannot deny that.
And I do find it hypocritical that Bush finds charity so necessary but still has not cancelled any of the international debts which many countries are toiling to pay back.
And saddam did not only kill kurds and shias, but ruined the lives of many different ethnicities.
Unfortunalty, politics and life is always full of hypocrisy and stupidity. I believe the phrase 'Life is Unfair' has never been more correct.

C.H. said...

I guess it depends on where Iraqis post-war lived. The families being neglected in southern Iraq and having their money stolen probably had a lot more emphasis on sectarianism before 2003.

You are right though that saddam spared no one, just like the "resistance" in Iraq has done. Everyone who threatened his rule was a fair target--Sunnis, Shias, Kurds, Christians, Turkomen--anyone.

Touta, just don't lose hope. You mentioned the recent explosions but you can't ignore all of the good news. Look at Anbar's cities, look at Kirkuk and Basrah. International airports are being built in the northern and southern provinces. The terrorists are in their death throws and they are desperate. I am angry at the media here for failing to recognize the success while being so eager to report on the bad things, like what happened the other day. All of the sudden, there is room for more news beside the recession and it is shameful.

Touta said...

meh, life has the good and the bad. Part of the fun of life is knowing that you've been through bad stuff and can therefore endlessly complain... :D

C.H. said...

Exacty right :D

What's most important though is looking to the future and making it better.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Touta,

And the thing that a lot of iraqis cannot come to deal with, is the world has had years to remove him from power, but chose to silently let iraqis suffer for decades.

A very good point. Unfortunately, you are running up against the politics in other countries, such as the US. There has always been a divide between those who do not want to get involved in other countries and those who feel they have some sort of obligation to try to help. And even those who want to help cannot agree on how to do so. This disunion breeds inaction.

And then of course the sudden shia-sunni thing right after the war didnt help, especially since those that are my generation did to an extent know the divide, but no one looked at their neighbour and blamed them for bombs and destruction.

I think anytime you have a violent upheaval as what occurred in Iraq you will sew the seeds of distrust. It will take time to heal those wounds. But whether you are Sunni or Shia, you have all went through an extremely difficult time.

I'm still unsure of what to think about the war, but part of me is annoyed that Bush was clearly following in the footsteps of dear daddy,...

I'm not quite sure what you mean. The first President Bush was totally against sending US forces into Iraq to remove Saddam. And President Clinton, who served after the first Bush, did nothing to bring any kind of change to the status quo in Iraq. I am still of the belief that the second President Bush may not have pushed for an invasion either if it hadn't been for 9/11. This is not to say that Iraq was actually involved in 9/11, but that what happened then changed the political climate in such a way as to make people willing to interceed.

Part of the fun of life is knowing that you've been through bad stuff and can therefore endlessly complain... :D

lol!

Yeah, but that doesn't explain the people here who haven't been through that bad stuff, but still complain!

Okaaaay, now I'm going to check in at Corey's. :)

JG said...

Lynnette,

Perhaps we should have tried talking to him. Oh, wait, didn't we try that?

Sure. Rumsfeld tried talking sense to Saddam but Saddam wouldn't listen to the reasonable and virtuous American so Rumsfeld sold him some weapons to kill his own people with instead.

You will note JG's dig earlier about our "friendships" with despots.

It wasn't a dig. Just stating well known facts. I don't joke about regimes who boil their political opponents alive. Don't they look happy though?

What do you think of your country's record of toppling democratically elected leaders in Latin America and replacing them with despots? Do you think the US were correct to support the Shah, whose SAVAK agency made Saddam's Mukabarat look like gentlemen?

My point, if it's not clear, is that America's record is horrible, so no sane person would believe they had anything other than selfish intentions in invading Iraq.

there is never an easy answer. And, please, don't just say we (the US) should mind our own business and stay on another continent. The world today is far more inter-connected than ever before.

So you would defend the right of other countries to invade the US without UN backing? If the US can do it why not others?

Also, why invade Iraq? Why not Saudi, Tunisia, Uzbekistan etc?

C.H. said...

"whose SAVAK agency made Saddam's Mukabarat look like gentlemen?"

Rubbish...I'm not going to defend the Shah, but Saddam inflicted far more destruction on Iraq than the Shah ever did to Iran. Qom was never burned to the ground and I have never heard of an incident where 5,000 people were burned alive in a single village. The Shah was an evil man, but there were no homosexuals being strung around the neck with steel cable and publicly hanged, as Khomeinists love to do.


"Also, why invade Iraq? Why not Saudi, Tunisia, Uzbekistan etc?"

-Because Saddam had it coming for over a decade. He threatened his neighbors and was a frequent threat to stability to the region. I think that the strategy has been the hope that Iraq's democracy will spread. I have heard some very stupid people say that the invasion of Iraq was done in collusion with the Saudis--Iraq is the only Arab country ruled by a Shiite government, and its democracy poses and existential threat to KSA, which explains why KSA is so eager to send suicide bombers over the border.

C.H. said...

I just got through with another debate over on another blog about the US and Latin America.

No one can deny that the US was forced to support some very nasty people during that time frame, but the critics always leave out the fact that the Soviet Union was making headway into Latin America and supporting equally murderous thugs--Castro, the Sandinistas, Che Gueverra, among many others. The two superpowers were using surrogate warfare and BOTH of them showed complete disregard for the well-being of the rest of the world. You make it sound like the US was running around the world support terrible people for its own entertainment, which you know is BS.

And as for the US "staying on our own continent", would you have preferred that the US hadn't helped in the negotiations to bring peace to Northern Ireland?

Anonymous said...

CH: "First off all, the international community was firmly behind the sanctions, not just the US."

Indeed. Because the purpouse of the sanctions was to rid Iraq of Saddams WMD programs, which we now know was accomplished.

But the aim of the US administration under Clinton was also to use the sanctions to pressure Iraqis to force a regime change, to make life unberarable in Iraq so the people rebelled against the regime, or rather that someone more cooperative from WITHIN the regime/military would overthrow Saddam himself and assume control. This was NOT something the "international community" was behind, nor was it something that was stated in the sanctions resolutions, but something the US forced through unilaterally (well, aided by the UK to be fair) with harsh interpretations and veto power on the UN sanctions panel. See my "pencil" example above. Look at how chlorine was refused for water purification since it "can be used as a WMD" with a serious health crisis as a consequence, etc.

Iraqs civilian population was intentionally made to suffer to further US/UK foreign policy. Now, what do we call it when Hamas/Hezbollah/AQ, etc target civilians to further their causes?

CH: "It was the UN who enabled Saddam Hussein through the corrupt and even genocidal "oil for food" program, which brought kickbacks to both Saddam's henchmen and their UN counterparts."

Genocidal?! It was a corrupt program - yes. It was also a program that anually saw food supplies worth billions of dollars go to Iraqs beleagured population.

CH: "I imagine that Iraq and the Middle East would be very different today if the 1991 rebellion had suceeded (which it nearly did)."

No it did NOT nearly succeed. Not even close. It stood no chance whatsoever on its own. You have no idea what you are talking about.

Saddams security apparatus and his elite military forces were left largely intact after the routing of his army by the coalition. It was still BY FAR the strongest force in Iraq.

As soon as the international troops pulled back there was not the slightest chance in hell that the insurrection could have succeeded. Yet you claim it "nearly did" and this shows me just how little you know of history. Read up boy.

CH: "The uprising was the biggest indication that Iraqis were fed up with Saddam Hussein and his belligerence, as evident by the fact that 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces rose up against him"

Yes, in this you are right. Saddam himself was actually very surprised since he really thought he was loved by "his" people (well, not the Kurds, he knew that much), which of course he wasn't. He felt betrayed and in his egomania he saw the people as being ungreatful to him. He explained it away as an Iranian mastered insurrection, which to a degree it was - Iranian supported anyway, and set his "henchmen" on the task of putting it out, using all means necessary, no strings attached.

But it was not an organised popular uprising under one leadership with one idea for Iraqs future. It was a spontaneous yet disorganised rebellion. And it was quite easily shut down in its infancy.

JG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C.H. said...

Iraqs civilian population was intentionally made to suffer to further US/UK foreign policy.

Evidence? Bill Clinton had very little interest in removing Saddam from power. He wasn't much for intervention, which is one reason he stood by during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and its aftershocks that rippled through Congo.

This was NOT something the "international community" was behind

Again, based on what? Many European countries still believe that it would have been useful to continue the sanctions policy.

No it did NOT nearly succeed. Not even close. It stood no chance whatsoever on its own.

Partially correct. The rebels suceeding in driving out the Iraqi military and taking control of every city in southern Iraq and the norther Kurdish provinces, this is very impressive considering they were poorly armed and much of their ammunition was captured from abandoned Iraqi army and Republican Guard posts. Its hard to doubt that if the US has simply kept up its operations in Iraq...even an air war, that the rebellion would have succeeded. In the end, because the US and the international community left the Iraqis to die, Saddam was able to win because he had most of the guns.

And it was quite easily shut down in its infancy.

I don't think that the killing of tens of thousands--or perhaps hundreds of thousands--of people is an easy task, do you? The only way Saddam was able to "put it down" was through a scorched-earth policy that included the destruction of Karbala and the assassinations of top-clerics who had organized the rebellion. Saddam also made sure it could never happen again, by forcing prominent supporters, like the Al-Khoei family, into exile.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

Anonymous,

Because the purpouse of the sanctions was to rid Iraq of Saddams WMD programs, which we now know was accomplished.

They may have removed the weapons, but they did not remove the knowledge. As long as Saddam was in power there was a threat of reconstitution of the programs. A very real threat given what Saddam told the FBI in his debriefing.

But the aim of the US administration under Clinton was also to use the sanctions to pressure Iraqis to force a regime change, to make life unberarable in Iraq so the people rebelled against the regime...

That doesn't square with Clinton's refusal in the mid '90's to help the Kurds with their planned rebellion. He just let the situation drag on because he didn't have the guts to deal with it.

Look at how chlorine was refused for water purification since it "can be used as a WMD" with a serious health crisis as a consequence, etc.

Which was shown to be workable by the Iraqi resistence after the invasion. This was used as a weapon then and the GOI subsequently limited the importation of chlorine, which helped lead to the cholera problem in Iraq.

JG,

What do you think of your country's record of toppling democratically elected leaders in Latin America and replacing them with despots?

You mean like Chavez was democratically elected? The President for life wanna be?

My point, if it's not clear, is that America's record is horrible, so no sane person would believe they had anything other than selfish intentions in invading Iraq.

Our record compared to whom? What other country has been in the position that America has?

I'm not saying that all of our choices have been wise. But perhaps you should at least look at what our options were. You say we supported despots in Latin America or the Middle East. Did we believe them to be despots at the time? Did we believe them to be the lesser of two despots? Even Saddam actually had a record of improving things in Iraq in the beginning. Until the delusions of grandeur set in, of course.

So you would defend the right of other countries to invade the US without UN backing?

You are comparing apples and oranges, JG. The US is not in the same situation as Iraq. We get rid of our unwanted Presidents via the ballot box.

C.H. said...

"Which was shown to be workable by the Iraqi resistence after the invasion."


-Very good point, Lynnette

Touta said...

I don't get why the CIA and MI5 and KGB etc etc actually start doing work and just assasinate all these leaders. Apparently life isnt that simple.

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

I think people look on agencies like the CIA, MI5, or the KGB, as all powerful. That's not always the case. Plus, in the case of the CIA, domestic pressure and politics can lead to their hands being tied. I think that was the case during the Clinton administration. I have read where the CIA and President Clinton did not have a good working relationship.

JG said...

Lynnette,

You just side-stepped each and every substantive point I made!


[Me]What do you think of your country's record of toppling democratically elected leaders in Latin America and replacing them with despots?

[Lynnette]You mean like Chavez was democratically elected? The President for life wanna be?

In other words: "I don't want to answer this!"

[Me}So you would defend the right of other countries to invade the US without UN backing?

{a simple 'yes' or 'no' would have been fine}

But...

[Lynnette]You are comparing apples and oranges, JG. The US is not in the same situation as Iraq. We get rid of our unwanted Presidents via the ballot box

In other words: "I don't want to answer this!"


[Lynnette] Did we believe them to be the lesser of two despots? Even Saddam actually had a record of improving things in Iraq in the beginning. Until the delusions of grandeur set in, of course.

Are you arguing that the US backed Saddam until they realised he really wasn't a good guy and then they stopped?! That's what it sounds like!

JG said...

You mean like Chavez was democratically elected?

Yes, Chavez is democratically elected. And his constitutional amendment abolishes term limits so he can run for the presidency again. So once a majority of people continue to vote for him then, YES, he can be president for life. And good luck to him.

But I was hinting at the democratically elected Salvador Allende of Chile actually. Toppled in a US-backed coup and replaced by that nice man Augusto Pinochet. Another mass-murdering American ally. Are you seeing a pattern here?

Our record compared to whom? What other country has been in the position that America has?

No comparison is necessary. The facts speak for themselves.

But all this is expected. Any powerful state would act in the same way. Preserving its own strategic interests at all costs and ensuring its hegemony and power is preserved.

To suggest that the US's attack on Iraq is altruistic is either hopelessly naive or deliberately dishonest.

Also, why invade Iraq? Why not Saudi, Tunisia, Uzbekistan etc?

JG said...

[Me]whose SAVAK agency made Saddam's Mukabarat look like gentlemen?

[CH]Rubbish..

It's not rubbish. The SAVAK were utterly brutal and terrorised and terrified Iranian society. You should read Shah of Shah's by Ryszard Kapuscinski for details on just how brutal they were.

I'm not going to defend the Shah, but Saddam inflicted far more destruction on Iraq than the Shah ever did to Iran

Strawman.

The Shah was an evil man, but there were no homosexuals being strung around the neck with steel cable and publicly hanged, as Khomeinists love to do.

I totally oppose the current Iranian regime but the Shah was far, far worse, Corey.

I think that the strategy has been the hope that Iraq's democracy will spread.

LOL! Why not invade Uzbekistan? Maybe democracy will spreak around central Asia. Why is that somehow less important?

You make it sound like the US was running around the world support terrible people for its own entertainment, which you know is BS

Not at all. The US runs around the world protecting, defending, and fighting for its own stategic interests. It's not an American thing, any powerful state would behave the same way. But let's not be so naive as to believe that the US invaded Iraq to somehow save Iraqis from Saddam! They SOLD WEAPONS to Saddam in the 1980s. They dealt with Saddam when it suited them, and got rid of him when he became too much trouble.

would you have preferred that the US hadn't helped in the negotiations to bring peace to Northern Ireland?

I didn't say anything about staying on your own continent! Senator George Mitchell played a role in the Irish peace process. He was invited to be a facilitator and by all accounts did an excellent job.

He came with a helping hand, not with bombs and fighter jets, luckily for us.

if the 1991 rebellion had suceeded (which it nearly did...

That is so far from the truth.

khalid jarrar said...

sometimes i could swear you are not as young as you claim.

you are too bright to be that young touta.

"I don't want the Finger Chips guy to be extinct. Not because I like his food, not because of pity for him and his tattered jumper, not even because he smiled a lot. It is because to me, he represents the culture which i don't want to disintergrate amongst the incoming flux of Mcdonalds and Starbucks imitators."

i love, i love, i love, tremendously.

khalid*

Touta said...

JG, Lynnette, CH,
the problem with wars is how unpredictabel they are. Personally i miss the days that wars were fought on a battlefield.

Khalid,
well, there is less than 6 months to my 18th birthday. :D
hahaha, anyway, thank you. :)

C.H. said...

Touta, I don't think either of us--or any of us who have been commenting here--were alive when wars were fought strictly on battlefields, lol. I think the Korean War was the last time, from the history I have read. Vietnam is where the tactics of war really changed.

You know, I think Khalid is right. When I was first introduced to your blog, I was surprised to see you were only 17. You have done and seen so much in such a short time :D

C.H. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
C.H. said...

Hmmm...since you are 17, you were born right after or around the time of the Gulf War, right?

I was alive then but I don't remember hearing about it because I was too young :)

JG said...

I was 12 years old at the time and in my final year of primary school. I remember it well.

the problem with wars is how unpredictabel they are. Personally i miss the days that wars were fought on a battlefield

True. Innocent people have always born the burnt of war but even more so in recent years.

Jeffrey said...

I think Khalid is an ass. Each time I think he'll change, but then he writes something like this "love love love" crap.

What a freaking fairy.

*

attawie said...

I thought I did comment on this post!

Great one and it makes me feel I wanna be in that rainbows and buterfly la la land :D

attawie said...

Yes I did!

:D

Touta said...

CH,
True. I was born in Summer 1991,and since my parents and brother were living in baghdad, they said there was a large chance I would never have been born. :D Wouldn't you all miss me then.lol. Anyway, my parents would tell me of how the next neighbours house was reduced to rubble, and how all extended family stayed in one house in Baghdad, so that if they died, they would all die together..etc etc. Aren't i cool. :D

JG,
exactly. Wars always force children to gain a new prospective on life in general. Even more in recent years-true, what people fail to recognise is that this burden of war is only going to cause more violence and anger.

Jeffrey,
Does that mean you don't agree that the finger chips guy is an important part of iraqi culture?

attawie,
yes you did! and i was going to say maybe we can form our own cut off land in those man made islands of the UAE, but i forgot to reply because of the exchange between anonymous and CH. I was busy checking up the facts and seeing which argument made more sense. :D

Jeffrey said...

Touta,

Nah, I'm sure the finger chips guy is central to Iraqi cultural dynamics. I just don't like Khalid. Heh heh. Who ever heard of a woman wearing a beard?

I'm like one of those snarling, vicious dogs that you find inside used-car lots at night here in the States. You'll never change me. I'll chomp down on anyone's leg without even thinking about it.

*

Touta said...

I recently had an 'debate' with one of my neighbours who told me that plucking eyebrows was wrong...Moqtada has strange fetishes I tell you.

And comparing yourself to a rabid dog? Whatever you say Jeffrey...*ahem*

And the finger chips guy has a degree in mathematics i found out the other day-he just can't find work. :)

JG said...

Does Moqtada pluck his eyebrows?

Jeffrey said...

Touta,

The last photograph I saw of Muqtada showed him with one long, thick, very unplucked UNI-BROW. It's amazing how ugly that dude is. Hey Muqty, think COLGATE (once a year for starters).

I guess knowing some math (heck, maybe even calculus) might not be such a bad thing for a finger chip guy. Who knows? Maybe all Iraqi finger chip sellers need to know about limits, infinitesimals, and derivatives. It's probably why Iraq leads the world in finger chip selling.

Heh.

*

C.H. said...

Touta, you are very cool, and you have quite a story to tell :D

Many of the young Iraqi bloggers amaze me...born into a war, live through sanctions and dictatorship, more war, and terrorism. That's a lot to deal with and yet you are the one writing blog posts with a good sense of humor to make us laugh and brighten up our day :)

I guess its one reason you seem so much older. My brother is almost your age and he has absolutely no idea what he wants to do with his life, lol.

Touta said...

JG,
no, and he thinks women shouldnt either....*ahem*

Jeffrey,
I agree with first paragraph, buuut:
finger chips=fries
fries=mcdonalds
most mcdonalds=USA
so, Iraq isnt leading the world in finger chips unfortunatly.

CH,
Its life I suppose. I don't think that its bad your brother doesn't know-he should make the most of his childhood and unresponsibility. :D

JG said...

Wow. Muqtada is no fun! Neither is Sistani:

Question: Is playing chess and black gammon, without betting, permissible?

Answer: It is not permissible to play both.

http://www.sistani.org/local.php?modules=nav&nid=5&cid=427

C.H. said...

Wow JG, that's just crazy. It is a good thing that many of the religious parties or "fundies" as my friend calls them, have been voted out and replaced by more moderate leaders.

JG said...

Corey... I'm not religious myself but I respect everybody's right to believe whatever they wish.

However I think it's always a negative thing to have religious parties in power, in any context. Church and state should be totally separate.

C.H. said...

Well, we have the same problem with fundamentalists here in the US who try to force their beliefs on other people. I am sure you have heard of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, etc. I am all for religious freedom but no one should ever have to have it forced on them, regardless of what religion it is.

JG said...

I totally agree, Corey.

I've heard of Robertson, yes. And I've also heard of the Phelps family who picket military funerals and funerals of gay people, carrying hateful placards, and causing even more pain to the families.

The church here in Ireland still has too much influence in my opinion. I'd like to see them further marginalised. Their record is horrific, despite there being many good individual priests.

JG said...

I have to say I am intrigued by some of Sistani's rulings. Some of them are completely nuts like not allowing people to play chess or play the violin! But, incredibly, he allows birth control. Catholic's aren't meant to use birth control and I would have guessed someone like Sistani would have been even more strict. But no...

http://www.sistani.org/local.php?modules=nav&nid=5&cid=423

Corey said...

JG,

A few years ago, when I lived in Boston, followers of the Phelps Family came to my high school to protest the same-sex marriage ruling that Massachusetts adopted. It was sickening. Free speech is a good thing but they violate it when they deny other people their right to grieve...like the families at the funerals they picket.

JG said...

For sure. Picketing funerals has got to be one of the most mean-spirited, cruel, acts a person could do to another person or family. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Touta said...

*thinks of mentioning how many funerals there are a day here*. Well, at least the grave diggers and funeral planners have jobs...same can't be said for around 70% of the population. :D

JG said...

Yeah....

That's a grim thought, Touta. I remember seeing reports about parks in Baghdad being converted into graveyards to accomodate all the bodies. Very sad.

C.H. said...

As scary as Fred Phelps may be, funerals in the Muslim world face much more dangerous threats.

I remember last year, I read about a police chief in Pakistan who was killed by a roadside bomb. Later in the day, a suicide bomber attacked his funeral procession. As if the first strike wasn't enough for such evil people.

JG said...

Not just the Muslim world, Corey.

Here in Ireland, back in 1988, there was a gun and grenade attack on a funeral which killed three and injured six, right in the graveyard.

It was the funeral of three IRA men who had been killed by the British army.

Peoples' sense of morality becomes debased in war. What excuse have the Phelps got?

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

JG,

You just side-stepped each and every substantive point I made!

Nope. You just weren't listening. :)

I said quite clearly that I do not consider every decision we have made in the past to be wise. The point I was trying to make was that in the decision making process there may have been choices that could have been worse.

Are you arguing that the US backed Saddam until they realised he really wasn't a good guy and then they stopped?!

No. I'm saying that we may have dealt with Saddam in the past because we felt at the time that Iran was the greater threat to stability in the region.

Yes, Chavez is democratically elected. And his constitutional amendment abolishes term limits so he can run for the presidency again. So once a majority of people continue to vote for him then, YES, he can be president for life.

And if they do, then they are fools. Because that is how two-bit dictators are born.

And good luck to him.

I totally disagree with you. May the people of Venezuela pull back from that slippery slope.

But I was hinting at the democratically elected Salvador Allende of Chile actually. Toppled in a US-backed coup and replaced by that nice man Augusto Pinochet. Another mass-murdering American ally. Are you seeing a pattern here?

No, actually, I'm not. In the case of Chile it appears we were opposed to a socialist President(Allende) who did his best to run Chile's economy into the ground. Unfortunately, with the coup we got a former army general(Pinochet) who by any stretch of the imagination would have been termed a dictator. Neither was a good option.

If Bush had wanted to do the same thing in Iraq, he would have listened to people like TAI, who supported a military coup.

Our record compared to whom? What other country has been in the position that America has?

No comparison is necessary.


It is always best to try to look at all of one's options. If not, you are stepping into the same muck that we have in the past. How warm and fuzzy do you think living in a world with the former Soviet Union as the sole superpower would have been? Or perhaps China in the future?

The US runs around the world protecting, defending, and fighting for its own stategic interests. It's not an American thing, any powerful state would behave the same way.

Fair comment. It's called self-preservasion.

But let's not be so naive as to believe that the US invaded Iraq to somehow save Iraqis from Saddam!

If Bush's goal was to try to turn a dictatorship into a democracy in the middle of the Middle East, in a strategically important country like Iraq, the end result would be to "save Iraqis from Saddam".

Touta,

the problem with wars is how unpredictabel they are.

The only thing predictable about wars is that people will die. It is a horrendous way to have to try to solve an intractable problem.

Personally i miss the days that wars were fought on a battlefield.

I think once air power came into being, the days of limited warfare were at an end. But even during our Revolution civilians were not spared. It is the nature of guerrilla warfare. I don't think there is ever no suffering in wartime.

Jeffrey,

What a freaking fairy.

Quite impossible. I have observed Khallid for some time now and have noted that he is a terrible flirt with the girls. (Be warned Touta. :D )

Touta,

Back to the finger chips guy. To compete with a business like McDonalds he has to find a niche. Something that they can't provide, or can't provide as well. Fast food chains have not always been known for high quality. I remember asking one of our soldiers who had been to Iraq about the food there. He was very impressed with the freshness and quality compared to our chains here. Get a good cook, or a special recipe, etc. and people will come. Has he tried different seasonings for his fries? How about dipping sauces? Does he sell anything else besides fries? Ohhhhh there are all sorts if ideas. I haven't even got into pricing...

Lynnette In Minnesota said...

JG,

And I've also heard of the Phelps family who picket military funerals and funerals of gay people, carrying hateful placards, and causing even more pain to the families.

Yes, totally disgusting behavior. There is a motorcycle group that tries to appear when they do to try to block their picketing.

Touta,

*thinks of mentioning how many funerals there are a day here*.

Horrible. They were just mentioning on the news about a couple of suicide bomb attacks in Baghdad.

C.H. said...

JG,

When I stayed in Ireland, I was right on the border and my hosts told me a lot of stories about "The Troubles". It must have been a very frightening time--the shootings, explosions, torture, etc.

Hhh, where's the love in the world. I always ask this question.

JG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JG said...

Lynnette,

Good luck to that motorcycle group. I mean, freedom of speech is great and all, but funerals (anybody's funeral) must be out of bounds IMO.

Corey,

Where's the love indeed?! :)

I know it was a truly awful time but, thankfully, I didn't experience it personally because I lived in Dublin and was too young to be politically active in any case. I was fourteen when the first ceasefire was called.

Both my grandfathers fought in previous incarnations of 'The Troubles' and the ceasefires made my parents very happy. Sadly things seem to be flaring up again recently. I hope it doesn't all blow up again, so to speak.

Oh and Lynnette, I do not support the recent killing in Ireland. I just resent people (over at Zeyad's) demanding condemnations from me.

Touta said...

JG,
its the circle of life i suppose. (said to Lion King music- a wimba weh a wimba weh...). :D Life and death are perhaps two sides of the same sword, the problem and sadness is those who are elft alive have to cope with the loss of a human.

Lynnette,
very true. In iraq now, females make up the majority-i think almost 70% of the population, because everyone else has died.

hhhhhhhhhhhh, and thanks for the warning. I'll hand down the tips to the finger chips guy. :D I was soo suprised he had a mathematics from one of Iraqs best universities. I just hope i didnt look too shocked when he told us..

"Horrible. They were just mentioning on the news about a couple of suicide bomb attacks in Baghdad."....and Mosul, and Al Anbar, and one in Diyala. But some of these have been attacks, not suicide bombings.

CH,

Annoying that politics can overshadow what people want most in the world- peace.
"As scary as Fred Phelps may be, funerals in the Muslim world face much more dangerous threats"-the media likes to make everything seem a lot more savage in the middle east...there is evil and bad things everywhere, its just more publicised in the middle east. Its one reason why I have a hate-hate relationship with the media (and so never want to be a journalist lol.)

C.H. said...

Touta, I can't stand the media either. The way they treat Iraq is just despicable--its as if the Iraqi people are a bunch of savages.

I don't know, I think a lot of this has to do with their hatred of Bush, but that's just the way I see it. One reason I want to be a journalist is so that I can be honest :D

JG said...

Corey,

The problem with journalism, as I see it, is that everybody brings their own prejudices to the table.

So even independent journalists (like the ones funded by online readers) are quite partisan.

I think if you are covering a war it would be very hard not to become emotionally involved on some level. Being impartial would be next to impossible.

its the circle of life i suppose. (said to Lion King music- a wimba weh a wimba weh...). :D

LOL!!! :)

the problem and sadness is those who are elft alive have to cope with the loss of a human.

Exactly. A women here recently published a book called 'Bear in Mind These Dead' about all of the forgotten victims of the conflict. The people whose names we don't know but are suffering in silence every day and will carry their grief for the rest of their lives.

People should think about this before excusing violence. There are no winners in war and normal people bear the burden of pain.

That said, I think that sadly there is a time when war is just. If people are treated badly they will eventually strike back. It's human nature.

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