bm258 Alive in Baghdad and the New Berlin Wall

As the producer of one of the best information sources coming out of Iraq, BaghdadBrian is passionate about raising awareness about what life is really like for regular Iraqi’s living under occupation. While attending the Republica Conference last week, he and I had a chance to walk around Berlin and even do some tourism. Just as you’ll hear us comparing in this podcast, we often found ourselves comparing the divided post war Germany days to the situation in Iraq today.. specifically when it comes to dividing a city with walls.


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8 thoughts on “bm258 Alive in Baghdad and the New Berlin Wall

  • April 15, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    BM, please excuse me for ‘hijacking/spamming’ your blog comments, but I’m passionate about the Zimbabwe issue and believe that the more people who read the message below, the better. I have a conviction that your readers will agree and that they will take whatever action necessary to help Zimbabwe in her time of need and will give every assistance in contributing to the restoration of democracy. Any act no matter how small or seemingly insignificant…yes…even a signature on an Internet petition may be the key that will unlock the floodgates and mark the return to decency in and dignity for the people of Zimbabwe.

    I have just received the message below and have taken the liberty of posting it here. Zimbabwe is just one more world crisis along with Darfur, Tibet, Iraq, etc. However we do have the power to at least try to do something instead of sitting back and merely watching from the sidelines. It doesn’t cost anything to sign a petition and your action may contribute to a solution.


    The Zimbabwe crisis is spinning even further out of control, but the international response is gaining steam.

    In less than a week, more than 120,000 people from 215 countries and territories including thousands from across Africa have signed the Avaaz petition demanding the release of the election results. On Wednesday, as world leaders enter the United Nations for a special summit chaired by South Africa, a plane hired by Avaaz will soar above them pulling a massive aerial banner reading “MBEKI: TIME TO ACT DEMOCRACY FOR ZIMBABWE.”

    To make this message count, can you help us reach 150,000 signatures by the end of the day? Forward this email to your friends and family, and urge them to sign the petition at this link:

    Yesterday, the Zimbabwe High Court ruled against requiring the immediate release of the results of the March 29 Presidential election. In response, opposition called for a nationwide strike, and Mugabe deployed police throughout the country.[1]

    All of this came just after South African President Thabo Mbeki who, more than anyone else in the world, could influence Mugabe’s actions said on Saturday that “there is no crisis in Zimbabwe.”2

    But Mbeki isn’t off the hook just yet. Tomorrow (Wednesday), he will chair a special United Nations Security Council meeting, where diplomats have promised to raise the Zimbabwe crisis.[3] If he looks up as he enters the United Nations headquarters, Mbeki will see a 280 square metre (3000 square foot) banner amplifying the voices of Avaaz members around the world and if he doesn’t see it then, you can be sure he’ll see it in the newspapers the next day. International press have already begun to report on the planned fly-over of the banner.

    Throughout the day, Avaaz will update reporters in Southern Africa and at the United Nations on the growth of the petition. If all of us forward this email to friends, co-workers, and relatives, we can add tens of thousands of new signatures in one day, and show Mbeki and Mugabe that the world is watching and supporting the people of Zimbabwe as they demand democracy.

    It’s easy to sign at this link:

    This Friday, the 18th of April, marks Zimbabwe’s Day of Independence from colonial rule. Amidst the worsening poverty and danger, civil society organisations across Zimbabwe are gearing up for nonviolent resistance to Mugabe’s regime, calling for local actions and urging supporters to wear white in solidarity. And Zimbabwean media organisations many now operating outside the borders are broadcasting news about the international support that Zimbabwe’s people are receiving.

    Mugabe was once the hero of Zimbabwe’s liberation. Now his own people embody the principles he once championed. For those of us around the world, it is our privilege and our responsibility to stand with them.

    With hope,

    Ben, Ricken, Galit, Paul, Milena, Graziela, Pascal, Iain, and Milena—the team


    AFP: Zimbabwe opposition strikers face police crackdown
    Zimbabwe is not in crisis, says Thabo Mbeki
    Reuters: US, Britain want UN council to tackle Zimbabwe. (See final paragraph.)
    Zimbabwe National Association of Non Governmental Organizations _

    ABOUT AVAAZ is an independent, not-for-profit global campaigning organization that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people inform global decision-making. (Avaaz means “voice” in many languages.) Avaaz receives no money from governments or corporations, and is staffed by a global team based in London, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Paris, Washington DC, and Geneva.

    Don’t forget to check out our Facebook and Myspace pages!

    To contact Avaaz write to You can also send postal mail to our New York office: 260 Fifth Avenue, 9th floor, New York, NY 10001 U.S.A.

    If you have technical problems, please go to

  • April 17, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    I had the great opportunity to drink beers and chat politics with Brian at a Philadelphia pub a few months ago. Very bright, articulate and passionate young man.

    • April 19, 2008 at 11:00 am

      completely agreed.

  • April 18, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    NY Times has an article today (4/18) about wall building in Baghdad. Maybe they heard your podcast!

    • April 19, 2008 at 10:59 am

      Totally.. NYtimes, Guardian, BBC… all these cats are listening to me and picking up on what I point out. Ahh… yes.. Im a leading source of inspiration for mainstream media!??!>

  • April 18, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    I’m not quite sure from your conversation why the walls are a bad idea. I mean… I’m sure that these Baghdad walls will come down eventually.

    I mean, if they can stop temporary violence, that’s good, right?

    However, I think that the wall might actually help escalate the tension between the Sunnis and the Shiites.

    • April 18, 2008 at 11:17 pm

      Chris, there was an AIB episode that addressed some of the huge problems with building walls that divide neighborhoods in Baghdad – you can watch that here.

      Mark, this was a great interview. I really enjoyed hearing the passion come from Brian’s voice as he talked about his work – very, very inspiring. I can’t imagine someone listening to this and not wanting to go out and do something, anything. Even if it’s just donate money to make sure this project continues.

    • April 19, 2008 at 10:58 am

      Hi Chris — hmm Ill have to re-listen but you do make me wonder if we didnt develope that point enough. Indeed on frequent occasions, not including this interview, Brian has elaborated on the fact that communities are completely divided, people cant get to work, friends and family cant see each other, and generally speaking, the conflict these walls are supposed to resolve, do not exist or dont work the way the wall builders seem to think. There you have much of the reason for the Berlin comparison.. that walls dont solve problems. But again that may not have been developed in this episode… but yeah Tami has a good recommendation from alive in baghdad and while we’re at it, Ill alert Brian to come respond to some comments here as well.

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