Thursday, April 07, 2005

Hail to the Chief

Today was a momentous day in the history of Iraq. Today, the first freely elected President in 50 years was sworn in and a new Prime Minister was appointed. The newly elected President is the Kurdish, Jalal Talabani and the PM is Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who is a Shiite.

As I write this I can hear what you're thinking, "Shiite...Kurd...Sunni, what the heck does all that mean?" Trust me, I follow this stuff pretty closely and I still find it confusing. So in an effort to expand your geo-political knowledge from the persepctive of someone on the ground I'll give you a quick lesson. (I promise to keep it simple so I don't lose your attention. Especially you, Amy. Don't go surf'n over to Ebay before you read all the way through.)

Shiite (also referred to as Shia): Are the largest ethnic group in Iraq. They tend to live in more rural areas and practice a more conservative form of Islam. When I'm on the road and see sheep and camel herders outside of small villages, they are most likely Shiities.

Kurds: The second largest ethnic group in Iraq, and the hardest to categorize. They are considered Sunni Muslim, but because of their nomadic, non-Arab past they have a completely different heritage and dialect. They have been oppressed for centuries, and with the fall of the Ottoman Empire after WWI they were promised an independent state, which was never fullfilled. They have been striving for their independence ever since, and this strife contributed to Saddam's murderous chemical attack on the city of Halabja in 1988.

Sunnis: The etnic minority in Iraq, but the ruling power under Saddam. Saddam was a Sunni, so they have had all the power for the last 30 years. They have a minority of seats in the National Assembly largely due to the fact that most of them boycotted the elections.

Now that all of this is as clear as mud, maybe some of the news will make a little more sense to you.

I'm sure the news of the newly elected officials taking office may not be very exciting to everyone back home, and the story was probably buried beneath coverage of the Pope's funeral, and the Michael Jackson trial. To those of us here, however, it means we are one step closer to handing this country back to the Iraqi people, which means we are that much closer to getting everyone home.

Oh...one other thing that was pretty cool about today's proceedings...Sadaam watched the whole thing from his prison cell.

I love it when a good plan comes together.

3 Comments:

Blogger Aunt Maidi said...

John -

Thanks for the history lesson. It helps to learn someting about the different ethnic groups in Iraq. Yes, indeed, we are happpy that the election has taken place, because we will rejoice when we are able to hand Iraq back to its citizens and bring our soldiers back home to their families and loved ones.

How grateful we are to you for allowing us to experience firsthand some of the exposures you have. Your description of the young man's funeral was incredible. I read your blog entry to my bible study. We continue to lift you and your fellow soldiers up in prayer.

Thanks, John, for sharing.

Grace and peace,

Aunt Maidi

6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well big brother joan says i need to write something serious on here about how im proud of what you and our sister are doing and i am but all seriousness and no fun makes everyone a dull person, grandma upperman taught us best if you cant have humor or fun you shouldnt be livin, i am fighting the war over here to in my own neighborhood, some white supremisist is passing out leaflets on how we should save our race to everyones yard, well i go right behind him and pick them all up and throw them away, its 2005 give me a break

jus

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello John, just wanted to chime in and say hi and we are praying for you as well. Luke was over and spent the night the other night. The family all seem to be doing well. Leslie and Amy have had a couple of scrap booking nights that they seem to really enjoy together and are looking after one-another. I really enjoy your well-worded comments and chronicles. God bless you and stay safe.
Monte Gawthorp

8:33 AM  

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