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Dear Raed — a blog from an Iraqi bloke called Salam Pax. It’s amazing to read this; a true, educated, passionate, reasonable voice from inside Iraq.

The trenches and sandbag mountains I wrote about last week are now all over Baghdad. They are not being put there by the army; they are part of the Party’s preparations for an insurgence. Each day a different area of Baghdad goes thru the motions. Party members spread in the streets of that area, build the trenches, sit in them polishing their Kalashnikovs and drink tea. The annoyance-factor of these training days depend on the zeal of the party members in that area. Until now the worst was the (14th of Ramadan) street, they stopped cars searched them and asked for ID and military cards, good thing I wasn’t going thru that street, I still have not stamped my military papers to show that I have done my reserves training.

Totally off on a tangent, but that street-name reminds me of a line from McCarthy’s Bar (extract here):

In Germany once, in the military garrison town of Erlangen, I had a few drinks with three American GIs who were planning to visit England because it would be neat to see where John Lennon and Elvis grew up’. They also wanted to know if they could use dollars, and would the street signs be in English? I tried to tell them about Elvis coming from Tennessee, but it seemed to make them want to kill me. The Twenty-eighth Rule states: Never Get Drunk with Soldiers (particularly in countries where the streets are named after dates).