Little East

Women, Writing and the Iraqi Ba'thist State: Contending Discourses of Resistance and Collaboration


Date: 17 November 2020Time: 5:30 PM

Abstract Women, Writing and the Iraqi Ba‘thist State: Contending Discourses of Resistance and Collaboration, 1968-2003 (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) traces the turbulent history of Ba'thist discourses on women and state patronage of the novel, and explores various literary responses from a wide spectrum of Iraqi women writers. It attempts to show the correlation between 'progressive' discourses on women and the rise of a nationalist novel, both of which were used as markers of culture and progress by the State. It also argues for the inclusion of a broader range of texts in literary analyses, and offers the novels of Saddam Hussein and the didactic religious romances of Shia authors as examples of 'transtextuality' that help us better understand the cultural landscape of Iraq even after the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

 Organiser: SOAS Middle East Institute.

More on the organiser's website

24 October - Working for Peace in the Middle East

I am working* for Peace in the Middle East.

I am dreaming "Holy Lands" as a name for the country where Arabs and Jews live together in love and peace overwhelms the cradle of civilisation and wealth that is the Middle East.

I am dreaming that the Syrians and Lebanese - now the Lebanese started taking the Mediterranean Bouts - will return to their countries and continue running their marvelous lands.

I am dreaming that the people of Iran will unite regardless of their credence and I shut the cries of my horrified brain that objects that "Changes', or transition to a unified people, in Iran will be much harder than in any Eastern European country, because the amounts of blood shed by the Ayatollahs mean that the country has been diverted into a path of which there will be no return, just as the Communists did in Russia.

Here I am today on this grey Saturday morning - my candle of dream had been lit to cet on flame my torch of hope for the first time in 2020, a year that started with bad, turning into very bad news until now.

I am working for Peace in the Middle East.

* Whatever I do I do it for free - unlike TB- see bellow - in Life's sake and Beauty's also.

23 October - Little Peace

In the light of the achieved Sudan-Israel peace agreement, I proposeTony Blair to hand over the money he earned between 2007 and 2015 as Middle East Peace Envoy* to Donald Trump - regardless of elections and results. 

I also propose that his title "Middle East Peace Envoy" be retroactively symbolically revoked and accorded to Donald Trump - again regardless of election results. 

*On Blair's performance as Middle East Peace Envoy here 

"Beirut is the sister of Baghdad", poem attributed to Iraqi poet Muhammad Mahdi Al-Jawahiri.

حلال النفط

البارحة، بعث ليّ بابا فيديو دون تعليق

في الفيديو طلعوا رجال ونساء عراقيين يشتكون امام الكاميرا،  ان بعض المصادر الشيعية، صدرت فتوات تسمح سرقة  النفط العراقي،  وجعلته حلالا، منطلقة من المبداء الديني "مثلما المطر لأصاحب له لانه جاي من السمى، كذلك النفط، لا صاحب له، لانه جاي من الارض. ومثلما الاستفادة الذاتية من المطر حلالا للجميع، كذالك النفط، حلال لكل من استفادَ منه". حتى اشتكى احد الرجال قائلا " المشكلة سهلة، كيف يعني سرقة النفط حلال، لكن  شرب الكحول حرام؟

بعد مشاهدة الفيديو قُلت،   "عندكم حق تغارون - في الغرب لا يحتاجون لفتوة  لسرقة اي شي، نفط كان ام بطاطة و بعد السرقة، يشربوا الكحول للتعقيم

فالمسلم معقد  شنسوي

Upgrade عاشت الجوازات او

اتصل 'ابو جاسم' يبشرني ان البارحة اخذوا بصماته من شان اصدار جواز بريطاني له

قال: صرت اجمع جوازات... عندي  - عراقي وبلغاري وبريطاني

قلت له : تهانينا والرابع انشالله امريكي

قال: لا، ماأريد أمريكي، انا من اصغير ما احب امريكا

قلتُ له : تحب او ماتحب، غصبا عنك راح تاخذ جواز امريكي، اذا ردت جواز قمري. فجواز القمر راح يصدروه الامريكان وراح يعطوه لاصحاب الجوازت الامريكية فقط

صرنا نضخك. شنسوي

Soveida, Sunday, 16 February London

Where Iranian Women Can Sing

London is where Iranian women can sing.

Verily this is a paradox - Iranian women can sing everywhere in the world, apart from in their own country.

Iranians wanting to hear their favorite female singers are obliged to travel to attend gigs in neighboring countries. While these same Iranian female singers, longtime emigrants to the West, are obliged to travel to Azerbaijan or Turkmenistan, to perform concerts for their numerous fans. And this is only one of the many massive absurdities that this bearded, women-fearing regime is creating.

Anyhow, I liked the female Iranian voices I heard last Sunday, 16 February at the gig of Soveida - a seven strong band of four women and three men, all singing, playing instruments, but mostly drumming - performing ancient Iranian spiritual music on ancient musical instruments. To my surprise the music adorned with lyrics based on mystical poems by Rumi, Hafez, Saad and other poets, reminded me both a specific sort of Bulgarian folk music and Brazilian Samba (Unfortunately, the audience had to sit instead of swirling into trancetic dance). 

What I loved most of the gig were the women voices, because they were all absolutely natural and unbothered with any Sopranosр Mezzos, or other stagings of the voice. Thus creating yet a third association, this of French women speaking - Natural, unmadeover voices, springing freely from the hearts on the top of wild rhythms.

For this is the happy news: Bearded Ayatollahs have only one country to rule (their presence in neighboring countries is only temporary and in disguise) while Iranian women have the whole world to sing around. 

nah nah nanana 

18 February 2020

More on Soveida here

Another gem that I, as a linguist, picked there was that in Old Persian, 'Ali' before becoming a man's name meant heartbeat. I told you a nation of poets has been kidnapped by bearded men. 

Being a linguist also implies always some-sort of suspense wordwise for example when I was hearing "Ali John, Ali John" and my imagination was going wild on what is John doing with Ali; only to find out the chanting was merely "Ali jan ali jan" translating as  "Dear life, dear life" (mind you I don't speak Farsi, so it might effectively be that they were chanting about something entirely different, like John for example).

The Times, 16 January

The Pomegranet Blossom Plan or The Veil Reciprocity

Reciprocity is important not only in love, but also in international relations.

As EVERY woman in the World - be her Montenegrian, Tasmanian or Burkinafasoian - is obliged to wear veil upon her entry in Iran. And no, absolutely no, exception is permited; thus every Iranian woman should be obliged to take off her veil upon het entry in the World and no exception should be permitted. In the name of reciprocity of course.

No, I repeat, NO other Islamic country - NOT EVEN SALAFIST SAUDIS - are as eager to control women (as to impose vail-wearing to foreign women! Which is why Saudi women are free to wear their veils around the World) as the women-cowardly bearded men in Iran! It seems that their fear of women is mightier then their fear of God!

Reciprocity is a simple thing et voila.

I really don't see why no country so far has bothered to protect their female nationals from the Iranian abuse by demanding veil reciprocity.

Et voila!

If the wife of the British Ambassador to Iran has to wear god-unmade veil on her head while in Tahran; else to say has to dress and look in a way different than she would normally do in England. Then, I would also like to see the wife of the Iranian Ambassador to UK dressed and looking differently than what should normally do, during her stay in London and more precisely exposing her godmade veil called hair.

Two options are possible : 1. each keeps her looks wherever she goes. 2. Both change their looks in the foreign country. Reciprocity is very important especially with regimes susceptible to perceive cultural tolerance as weakness.

This is reciprocity et voila.

* Women-cowardly means owe struck by women

16 January

Photo of Princess Haifa Al-Mogrin as on the front page of "the green newspaper" الشرق الاوسط on Wednesday, 15 January

Good News and LAAF's Cherry Blossom Plan Reminder

On the occasion of the excellent news of the appointment of "Princess Haifa Al-Mogrin on Tuesday as Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The Kingdom became a member of UNESCO’s Executive Council in November, and will remain so until 2023."*  LAAF would like to remind of its Cherry Blossom Plan elaborated in April 2019 and dedicated to Maha and Wafa Alsubaie .

It went like that : In regards to women's right in Saudi Arabia and reflecting on Suad Abu-Dayyeh's ( Middle East and North Africa expert of Equality Now) statement that "Governments and businesses around the world need to place greater pressure on authorities in Saudi Arabia". (The Independent 17 April) Laaf suggests all progressive governments and businesses that have to do with the Saudi Kingdom to gradually but relentlessly replace all their male staff with female.

Change them one by one, do it step by step, but in a year's time every single representative of a progressive government or business in Saudis Arabia should be a woman.

Every single person Saudi authorities and businesses encounter or communicate with in the progressive world would be a woman.

Do this until the Saudi Kingdom get the impression that they are the only men in the world, a lonely island in a women's ocean.

That would be a positive message and implemented through a positive action. No sanctions, no heavy words, no criticism, no accusations, just soft and tender power. All governments and businesses that call themselves progressive should have the sufficient goodwill and womenpower to execute the Cherry Blossom Plan.


More on the Maha and Wafa Alsubaie (unfortunately as old as May 2019) here

Maha and Wafa Alsubaie photo from the link of nbcnews.

Now is the Time - LAAF'S APPEAL

آن الاوان للمتظاهرين العراقيين لإبداء الدعم و التظامن مع المحتجين الإيرانيين، و العمل معاً ضد الفساد و عدم الكفاءة. الكل معاً ضد الحديث السياسي والديني الفارغ. الكل معا من أجل حياة أفضل.للعراقيين والإيرانيين نفس الأهداف وهي العيش في سلام و آمن ورخاء

Now is the time for Iraqi protesters to show solidarity with Irani protesters. All together against state violence and religious totalitrism. All together against corruption. All together against incompetence. All together against empty political and religious talking. All for better life. 

Iraqis and Iranis have the same goals - to live in peace and prosperity - let's show it.. Now go together ! 

- ‎اکنون زمان آن رسیده است که معترضان عراقی با معترضان ایرانی همبستگی نشان دهند. همه با هم در برابر خشونت دولت و توتالیتاریسم مذهبی قرار دارند. همه با هم در برابر فساد. همه با هم در برابر بی کفایتی. همه در برابر مخالف صحبت های سیاسی و مذهبی خالی. همه برای زندگی بهتر. عراقی ها و ایرانی ها اهداف مشترکی برای زندگی در صلح و سعادت دارند - بگذارید این را نشان دهیم

13 January  

PS  They will remain in history as the IraX protests! Other option will be the iRank protests.

"I wish you success! May you be well, free and safe" is my prayer for all protesters in Iran and Iraq.

Unexpected Item in Bagging

... in Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. King Faisal of Iraq oil on canvas portrait from 1919 by Augustus John. Strangely this is the opening piece of the museums' British Contemporary Art Rooms.

توجد هذه اللوحة -بورتريه للملك فيصل في قاعات 'الفن البريطاني المعاصر' لمتحف الفنون في مدينة برمينغهام

وهي للرسام 'وغستس جون' من سنة  

Troubled Windows or The Crackdown on Human Rights and Freedoms in Bahrain

This is an appethiser. Appethiser of impressions.  

The Crackdown on Human Rights and Freedoms in Bahrain, the panel

The Arab Organisation for Human Rights in the UK type-O-negatived the Home Office (HO) very seriously for its training of the Security Services of the Kingdom of Bahrain. Thus participating into the capture, torture and killing of people attempting to practice their right of free consciousness, expression and association.

I guess that the HO is in desperate need for cash. And the nearly £1800 of which it robbed me in return for the promise that in a years time, and under the condition that I deliver more cash, it may, or may not, give me what according to the regulations I should already have been given; I was saying that the money stolen from me (and probably from many more little, harmless, speechles speople) under the pretext of document issuing did not suffice the HO and it went selling its now-how and expertise in perfidiy to Bahrain. This on British Budget.

To be honest I, as a taxpayer, when hearing 'Foreign Aid' as a strand of the budget, don't imagine the government sponsoring the HO to train the security services of a non-democratic monarchy in the Middle East in efficiency in capturing, torturing, killing and striping of nationality its citizens.

While it turns out that it is precisely this.

More on the subject and the excellent young people on the panel of The Crackdown on Human Rights and Freedoms in Bahrain will be coming soon.

For now I want to mention two names:

Sayed Aleadaei, a young activist from Bahrain’s Institute for Rights and Democracy. Many of his family members are held in Bahraini prison at the moment. Sayed was stripped from nationality because of his energetic campaigning for his father’s right of medical treatment while in prison. Sayed has an asylum status in the UK.

Olivia Rosenstrom, a young barrister and winner of The Human Rights Lawyers’ Association Bursary Award, amongst others; who has worked hard to prepare a serious HO type-O-negativing file. Each brilliant in their own way.

The Windows

Last spring, during my first visit to the Houses of Commons ( at their original address Westminister) I found myself wondering "How come that the windows of The Houses of Commons are dirtier than mine?”

Well, this time while visiting the Houses of Commons secondary address (1 Parliament Street, Westminster ), I found the answer to the question. And the answer is simple :

The Houses of Commons doesn't like to see clearly what is going on in the street. They prefer to see the streets wrapped in soothing 50s' fogs and smokes. Actually, they don't insist on seeing the street at all. I had to lift up dirty curtains to make the short clip above. Dirty curtains over dirty windows that is.

When watching the clip please keep in mind : a) no filter was used for making this video. This is exactly how vaguely Parliament Str is seen from 1 Parliament Str population; b) no Extinction Rebellion banner was readable because of the windows' dirt. It might be that the users of the two buildings (Westminister and 1 Parliament Street, Westminster) haven't been updated yet on the invention of the taps (let alone the tap mixer) and still draw Themes' water in buckets.

Extinction Rebels outside. Bahraini Rebels inside. Dirty windows in between. And me stuck thinking about the schizophrenia of a Home Office training UK ally Bahrain, while giving asylum to Bahraini rebels in the UK.

To know more about Bahreini Rebels in London, you might want to watch this video

Bahraini Rebels in London