txting n iraq

Text messaging and ringtones hot stuff amongst Iraqi youth. Seeing as my job is all about text messaging and ringtones, this article is pretty interesting for me. Here in the US you can order ringtones via text messages. In Iraq, they’re bought on special CDs. Here’s a some snippets:

In a city bereft of entertainment, text messaging and swapping ringtones are all the rage for young Iraqis trying to lighten their lives. Most restaurants, cafes and movies have closed due to the country’s security situation.

The content of the text messages and ringtones speak volumes about the state of affairs here: jokes and songs about suicide bombings, sectarianism, power outages, gas prices, Saddam Hussein and George Bush.

Cellphone shops, the only crowded stores these days, sell special CDs with ringtones at about $2 apiece. Collections of short jokes especially written for texters are best-sellers.

. . .

The daily reality of violence and explosions has influenced every aspect of Iraqi life — including love notes. “I send you the tanks of my love, bullets of my admiration and a rocket of my yearning,” one popular message reads.

A popular ringtone features the music from Coolio’s Gangsta’s Paradise. But the local version includes a voice similar to Saddam’s rapping in English: “I’m Saddam, I don’t have a bomb/Bush wants to kick me/I don’t know why/smoking weed and getting high/I know the devil’s by my side.”

The song concludes with: “My days are over and I’m gonna die/all I need is chili fries” as a crowd yells “Goodbye forever, may God curse you.”

Competing with Saddam for the most popular song in Iraq today is Iraqi pop star Hossam al-Rassam — “Ma, I’ve been stung by a scorpion.” Its sensual lyrics challenge widespread conservatism in Iraq by talking about a girl’s lips and perfume “that make you live longer.”

Rasha Tareq, 23, has al-Rassam’s ringtone, as well as dozens of others by Lebanese singers. The most expensive ringtones include songs by Egyptian pop star Amr Diab.

“Ah, well, Dad pays for all that,” she said.

Dad also paid for her Nokia 7660 as well as the eight other models she has bought since cellphones first hit the market after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

Iraq has a long way to go before it’s back to “normal,” but I take this as a sign that it’s getting there.

Got ‘im

Al Zarqawi was killed today. 2 500 pound bombs obliterated his safe house.

You’d think after some explosions like that every body in that building would be crushed or blown to bits. However, seeing pictures of Zarqawi’s corpse, it looks like it’s in pretty good shape. Of course I’ve only seen the head, maybe the rest of the body is in a much worse state.

Saddam’s terror links

As long as I’m bringing up war issues, I might as well continue. Newly released documents clarify Saddam’s links to terrorist networks and to Al-Qaeda. Read about it here, and here.

From the first link:

A newly released prewar Iraqi document indicates that an official representative of Saddam Hussein’s government met with Osama bin Laden in Sudan on February 19, 1995, after receiving approval from Saddam Hussein. Bin Laden asked that Iraq broadcast the lectures of Suleiman al Ouda, a radical Saudi preacher, and suggested “carrying out joint operations against foreign forces” in Saudi Arabia. According to the document, Saddam’s presidency was informed of the details of the meeting on March 4, 1995, and Saddam agreed to dedicate a program for them on the radio. The document states that further “development of the relationship and cooperation between the two parties to be left according to what’s open [in the future] based on dialogue and agreement on other ways of cooperation.” The Sudanese were informed about the agreement to dedicate the program on the radio.

I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of this stuff as the tens of thousands of pages of Saddam regime documents get translated and analyzed.

Where are the WMDs? Maybe they’re in Syria, pt.3

An interesting video of Jon Stewart interviewing Georges Sada, former advisor to Saddam Hussein. Currently the video is in the 2nd row on the page. Sada claims to have actually seen Saddam’s WMDs, and they were smuggled out of the country into Syria via plane and truck just before the coalition rocked Saddam’s world. He is also confident that the Bush administration, once it has mustered all the facts and evidence will confirm what Sada believes.

Of course, this can’t be true. Everybody knows there were never WMDs. Bush made that stuff up, right? This Sada guy is probably another Rove puppet.

I’ve blogged about fleeing WMDs before.

An Iraqi Family

The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting profile of an Iraqi family concentrating on who they are voting for and why. A good, short read. Things aren’t always as grim as it is so easy to believe. There’s more than meets the eye, and definitely more going on than your typical media reports of death, defeat, and disaster.