The New Mesopotamia Times

Falluja residents return home after Operation Extreme 

Falluja . . . . More than a quarter of a million residents of the Iraqi town of Falluja will this week return to their homes for the first time since US Marines completed what has been described as the largest Extreme Home Makeover Show ever. Broadcast live over television news stations worldwide, 'Operation Extreme Makeover: Falluja Edition' involved more than 12,000 Marines who changed the lives of Falluja residents as they re-designed, re-modelled and re-decorated houses throughout the entire town in a full-scale assault that lasted over a week.

Residents returning to Falluja may be "a little shocked."

US Marines supported by heavy tanks, artillery, helicopter gunships and ground attack strike aircraft descended on Falluja in mid-November, sending the residents of Falluja away to refugee camps in the surrounding desert for 7 days while they transformed the impoverished desert town into a bombed-out, smouldering, impoverished desert town.

US military officials warned returning residents that they "may be a little shocked."

"When we were told to leave the town for the makeover and come back two weeks later, we really did not know what to expect," said Fatima Hassan, 45. "I must say I'm not disappointed - there is just so much more natural lighting in the house now that those Maverick missiles have blown the roof away," she said.

"Thanks to just a few high-explosive rounds from an M1A1 Abrams tank, the four cramped bedrooms of my house are now one big, gorgeous open-air studio room," said Saleem Abu Firdaus, 56, as he proudly examined his gutted and smouldering living room. 

US tanks give this Falluja school a thorough makeover
"My friends were always telling me that my clay wall exteriors were just too plain and dull," said Mohamed Zakawi, 35. "It's just amazing how much texture and character a spray of bullets from a 50-calibre heavy machine gun and the odd few shell holes can give a wall surface."

Aisha Kasim, 34, said that her front garden was boring and unexciting before the Marines re-modelled it. "The three bomb craters there would now make excellent lily ponds and water features - now all we need is a water supply."

"Unexploded shells and mines have also made my regular evening stroll in the garden a completely new experience," Aisha added.

"My husband was always complaining that there was too much clutter in our house," said Mariam Hafizi, 34. "After the phosphorus bombs from the first night's artillery barrage set fire to all our worldly possessions, the house now has so much more storage space we can utilise."

Coalition forces also created more open recreation spaces and parking lots in the town by completely levelling  80 of the town's 120 mosques.

"Thanks to the US Marine Corps, I now know exactly what George Bush and Tony Blair mean now when they talk of rebuilding Iraq," said teacher Faruq Sabri as he looked around the pile of burning rubble that used to be his neighbourhood school.
'Extreme Makeover: Falluja Edition' is just the latest in a series of reality TV projects being implemented by Coalition Forces in Iraq as the country prepares itself to embrace Western-style democracy and values. In another successful programme, "I'm in Abu Ghraib, Get Me Out Of Here!", ordinary Iraqis leave behind their coddled lives without electricity and water supply and rough it out in a well-known torture prison. Living manacled, cuffed, chained and hooded during their stay there, the willpower and fitness of contestants is tested with a daily routine of regular beatings and abuse by US prison guards. Guards choose a prisoner each night to carry out a dare or special task - such as mild electrocution or having objects inserted into their orifices or being made to crawl around the prison led by a leash.
"I'm in Abu Ghraib, Get Me Out Of Here!"
In the final week, viewers will get to vote to keep their favourite contestant in prison. The one receiving the least number of votes each night is, however, not forced to leave - in fact, unlike similar reality shows, no one actually gets to leave.

Iraq's version of 'Big Brother', on the other hand, has a dozen or so leading Iraqi celebrities locked in a building called the Iraqi Governing Council. Isolated from the real world in a Baghdad district called the Green Zone, contestants are, from time to time, given tasks assigned to them by Big Brother - known in real life as George W Bush - and these would include chores such as ordering the complete destruction of towns opposed to the US occupation, handing over oil contracts to Haliburton, approving large increases of US troops in the country and other menial duties. 

A panel of celebrity judges consisting of senior White House and Pentagon officials and neo-conservatives will help eliminate contestants each week, leaving one lucky winner the undisputed leader of Iraq at the end of the season. The winner of 'Big Brother: Iraq' will be sworn in as President of Iraq on January 31st in a gala two-hour finale broadcast live from Baghdad.

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A dispatch by our Embedded Satirist in Cambridge, Sabri Zain. For the real story, click here.