Remarkable Ali Brothers

This article from the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Pages is an excellent example of the power of blogging. It is absolutely phenomenal for many reasons. First, the article talks about the “Remarkable Ali Brothers” from Iraq the Model blogspot. These brothers are now touring America and have developed quite a name for themselves from the little blog they set up one year ago in Iraq. The next amazing thing about this article is the example of information that is available from the blogs. The facts listed below like the number of cars in Baghdad, the make-up of political parties, and other progress in Iraq is the reason that millions are flooding to the bloglines to get their news and information. Obviously, the mainstream media is not getting the whole story out to the general public. There continues to be, and there always will be a thirst for truth!

Iraq’s instability, notably in the country’s center, is well advertised by now. Less appreciated, however, is Iraq’s growing measure of economic stability and vitality.

“Baghdad is booming,” says Mohammed Fadhil Ali, one of three remarkable Ali brothers who oversee the Web log, Iraqthemodel.com. Mohammed and his younger brother Omar came this week to the Journal’s offices, their first trip to the States, to discuss Iraq’s future.

They were not overwhelmed by New York’s holiday crush; Baghdad’s population is roughly 5.7 million people. Stores there are overflowing with goods and the streets jammed with shoppers. It appears that the number of cars has doubled in a year. “The middle class is growing,” says Omar. After the April 9, 2003, “liberation,” Mohammed was determined to photograph every new building in Baghdad. “Now there is a new building in Baghdad every day; I can’t count them all.” Land and real-estate prices are surging. Most of the investment is coming out of the Arab world, not the West.

They made a couple of other interesting points about Iraq’s political mood. One, Iraqis won’t vote for a government dominated by Islamist religionists. Why? The abhorred next-door example of Iran’s mullahs. This mirrors elections already held in Iraq. In a local election last year in Nazariya, with 47,000 votes cast amid imams urging support for Islamic parties, the biggest vote-getters were teachers, engineers and other professionals.

And current party coalitions notwithstanding, the man on the street is sounding cussedly independent. A farmer in Samarra told them: “I will vote for a good man, Shia or Sunni.” “We Iraqis don’t trust any government now,” says Mohammed, though Prime Minister Allawi’s public standing rose after he first cleaned up Shiite Najaf, then Sunni Fallujah.

Yesterday in Iraq, the primary Shiite groups presented a voting “list” of 228 candidates. The really notable thing about these emerging lists, or slates, is that they are diverse. Most parties are pursing a “big tent” strategy–by ethnicity, religion and even gender. The Shiite coalition’s candidates, for instance, include Shiite Kurds, Sunni independents from the Shamar tribe, minority Turkomans, even Yazidis, a minority religious sect. Banners from the major political parties are showing up all over Iraq carrying the same message: “Vote.” Sounds like real politics.

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