×

Iraq’s ‘Obrah’ needles chiefs

War-weary country welcomes kooky comic

One of her guests is a suicide bomber who teaches how to detonate an explosive vest, another a “minister of sectarianism” who orders Sunnis and Shiites in the audience to sit separately.

Meet “Obrah,” Iraq’s comic answer to Oprah Winfrey.

Played by comedian Meys Gumar, “Obrah” and her talkshow on satcaster Al-Sharqiya have become welcome viewing for war-weary Iraqis.

With violence down over the Ramadan holy days — 38% fewer incidents against the same period last year, according to U.S. military commanders — Iraqis are allowing themselves to smile a little more easily.

“Obrah” more than lives up to her name — the word means “needle” in Arabic — pricking the effectiveness of the country’s ministries and parodying its officials.

Nothing escapes Obrah’s needling: Lack of water and electricity, security failings and the unraveling educational system are all mocked.

A musical sketch comedy includes a soothsayer who foretells clients’ future: explosions, roadside bombs, killing and displacement. Lyrics opening the segment include: “Here comes and goes Condoleezza, while Iraqis are dying for visa.”

Many Iraqis remain frustrated that while the U.S. invasion unleashed sectarian violence that sent some 2 million people into exile in neighboring Jordan and Syria, the U.S. is the country the least likely to take any of them in.