Friday, April 30, 2004

This prison torture thing has excited many emotions in many people.

Shirin, it is not surprising that all the reactions from the U.S. and its allies has been self-centered. None of these people, from Bush to Blair to Kimmit to Karpinsky to many soldiers, give a damn about the Iraqis, living or dead.

This is demonstrated by their callous attitude to insist on not keeping record of Iraqi casualties (e.g. more than 400 deaths in Fallujah were said to be women, children and elderly -- completely innocent). Even those who kill insects keep track on how many they whacked.

Scott, there is nothing more embarrassing, to use a kind word, than quoting someone who says the crimes of these soldiers are nothing as compared to those of Saddam. I do not know if the person you quoted is a real Iraqi, but I do not know of any Iraqi who is happy to replace his Ba'athist torturers with blonde American female-torturers. Torture -- mental and physical -- is something you and other people like you have not experienced it (I do not wish it for anyone). I experienced both in Iraq, in addition to being tortured to near death in Saudi Arabia.

There is nothing that can be called "better torture" or "less torture." So let me be poetic here: Torture is like love, you have to taste it for a minute to know what it is. Reading about it does not qualify you for anything. So stop comparing the "bad" torture to the "better". This only makes you sound "batraan" as the Iraqis say (it is not an insult word).

Peter (I see your sarcasm). You are right. Many Americans have not realized yet that Iraqis belong to the same kind they belong to. Hence their question, "Why aren't Iraqis grateful to us?"
The price of ridding them of Saddam, for Iraqis, is supposed to be accepting the daily humiliation, the bombings, the loss of safety and jobs, the installation of thieves and charlatans in government, and much more. If they say "NO", then they are put again under the same Ba'athists and have the same old practiced in place. Oh, those "ungrateful" Iraqis!!!

Josh, I disagree with you totally when you claim that nothing changed in Iraq under the occupation. The torturers are much more beautiful than those who were hired by Saddam. I can't believe that you did not detect this from the pictures. This is what Karpinsky referred to when she praised the new Iraqi prison management and daily operation.

p.s. For my wonderful friends (Shirin, Roya, Merry, and any other self-respecting lady who might read this note), please do not take my remarks as a sexist attitude. I am well-known for my respect to ladies. But for these female soldiers who were involved in torturing naked male-prisoners, I have no respect and I do not feel obligated to dignify them with the language that is deserved by noble women -- the ones who are mothers, wives, honest workers, and caring friends.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

More on the prison scandal. Wait until the tribes in Iraq see this. By the way, this is exactly what Saddam will be tried for. What a bunch of hypocrites!!!

A Tale of Two Occupations (thanks Shirin):

"Yesterday Mr Ahmed, who left Falluja with 13 members of his family, some of them sitting in the boot of his car, admitted that he held a long-time grudge against the British. The British had killed his brother in 1941, he said, during the second world war.
British troops had just invaded the country for the second time to get rid of its pro-German government. 'My brother and I were walking across the desert near Falluja when we were attacked by a British plane. We were just kids. The plane came and shot him from the sky. That was a terrible occupation too.'"

"The folks who led us into this hideous madness in Iraq, against the wishes of most of the world, sure seem to have been smoking something," says BOB HERBERT.

I'd say they must've been smoking a cocktail of a few things!

"Reality was the first casualty of Iraq. This was a war that would be won on the cheap, we were told, with few American casualties. The costs of reconstruction would be more than covered by Iraqi oil revenues. The Iraqi people, giddy with their first taste of freedom, would toss petals in the path of their liberators. And democracy, successfully rooted in Iraq, would soon spread like the flowers of spring throughout the Middle East. Oh, they must have been passing the pipe around."

If anyone is doing this to American prisoners of war, they would be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity (and rightfully so). Here is how the liberation looks from inside Iraq:

"Last month, the U.S. Army announced 17 soldiers in Iraq, including a brigadier general, had been removed from duty after charges of mistreating Iraqi prisoners. But the details of what happened have been kept secret, until now. It turns out photographs surfaced showing American soldiers abusing and humiliating Iraqis being held at a prison near Baghdad. The Army investigated, and issued a scathing report. Now, an Army general and her command staff may face the end of long military careers. And six soldiers are facing court martial in Iraq -- and possible prison time."

"It was American soldiers serving as military police at Abu Ghraib who took these pictures. The investigation started when one soldier got them from a friend, and gave them to his commanders. 60 Minutes II has a dozen of these pictures, and there are many more – pictures that show Americans, men and women in military uniforms, posing with naked Iraqi prisoners...There are shots of the prisoners stacked in a pyramid, one with a slur written on his skin in English. In some, the male prisoners are positioned to simulate sex with each other. And in most of the pictures, the Americans are laughing, posing, pointing, or giving the camera a thumbs-up."

One of the soldiers presented "an excuse that is worse than the crime," as the Arabic proverb goes:

"We had no support, no training whatsoever. And I kept asking my chain of command for certain things...like rules and regulations...And it just wasn't happening."

Does this moron think that one needs a manual to know that you can't do these criminal acts?
I bet he will find a lawyer who gets him out without any punishment.

And people still wonder why Iraqis are unhappy under the occupation!!! How would you like to be treated this way? Remember, this is only what we know? Does anybody know what is happening to the female prisoners in Iraq?! Does similar behavior exist there? I don't know, but I would not be surprised if it does? Can Bush and his aids claim to be better than Saddam and his aids. You see, Saddam will say in the trial that he did not know about what happened in the same prison when he was president. I do not believe him. But why should I believe Bush if he makes the same claim? Had these pictures not come out, would any of this be imagined?

I bet the families of these morons are proud of their sons and daughters who went on a "heroic mission" to "serve their country". But they are a disgrace for their country, indeed for humanity. And it is also a disgrace that their commanders are not held responsible, with all of this going on under their noses. They are simply going to dismiss a one-star general and move on.

This general, "Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinsky, ran Abu Ghraib prison for the Army. She was also in charge of three other Army prison facilities that housed thousands of Iraqi inmates. The Army investigation determined that her lack of leadership and clear standards led to problems system wide. Karpinski talked with 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft last October at Abu Ghraib, before any of this came out."

"This is international standards," said Karpinski. "It's the best care available in a prison facility."

To see the difference between a real Middle East expert and a mercenary-like-one, go no further than the yesterday's News Hour's interview with RASHID KHALIDI and FOUAD AJAMI.

"FOUAD AJAMI: ... I mean I think we know what is going to happen. I mean, this has in fact we have empowered Brahimi. We live with this. June 30 is upon us. We live with this. But I don't think we should just give this constitutional process... it looks very precise and very neat that Brahimi has come up with. I don't think we should give it that much credit. The force is on the ground and the fight on the ground and the forces on the ground will determine what happens in Iraq. The people in charge of Iraq will be Bremer and it will be Negroponte and our military commanders who run these provinces of Iraq and have done a decent job of it."

"RASHID KHALIDI: Sovereignty certainly will be in name only. But I think that the very problem that we're going to be facing for the next year at least, has to do with the realities that we've just heard about. If American military commanders control the provinces that they run, if Ambassador Negroponte or High Commissioner or Viceroy Negroponte, whatever we want to call him, is the power in Iraq, then I don't think things will get better.
I think things will continue to be as bad as they are or get worse. Part of the problem this is administration had no intention of creating an Iraqi government that would be independent. We could hear this from the kinds of things they talk about. We want Iraq to recognize Israel. We want Iraq to send oil here and there. We want to privatize this, privatize that. These are not things the Iraqis would necessarily want. They weren't asked. I think that the sooner that Iraq is in the hands of Iraqis, the better things will be there. I think that having American military officers whose job is to fight wars, in charge of provinces, is a recipe for disaster.
We should go back and look at what happened to the British when they had a situation like that. I think that having an American viceroy or ambassador, whatever one wants to call him, sitting in an embassy with thousands of employees running Iraq is a recipe for disaster. This will not work."

"FOUAD AJAMI: And a general antagonism. I also want to add a footnote. Ambassador Brahimi was under secretary-general of the Arab league when the Kurds were being gassed by the Saddam regime. He had nothing to say about this. When he goes to Iraq, he goes with a solid record. This is not the messenger and the angel that we take him out to be."

"RASHID KHALIDI: If silence while the Kurds were being gassed would disqualify people from being in Iraq, a large part of the Bush cabinet would have to recuse themselves, starting with the secretary of defense. But more to the point, I think, we are talking about someone who has come in and said a few very intelligent things. Whatever his background may be, his experience, I think, as has been pointed out, has been to help in the resolution of some virtually irresolvable problems. He has made a few intelligent suggestions.
Carpetbaggers like Ahmad Chalabi who came into Iraq on the backs of American tanks and no support within Iraq probably should not be involved in government. Nor should people who would like to run for elections, including some of the incredible people from the parties that do have a following in Iraq and have been involved in the governing council. It would be like having say Democratic Party of Illinois or Republican Party of Texas drawing up redistricting boundaries.
You are going to get an election reflecting who controls the election process. What he is suggesting in effect is that technocrats be in charge during period in which hopefully elections will follow. I think there are a number of suggestions like that in his plan, kinds of things that people should have been thinking about long, long ago -- in addition to which, hopefully this will take the heavy hand of Washington off of every single decision in Iraq in the future and fundamentally change the situation where every single position in Iraq for the past year has been made by Mr. Bremer or Douglas Fife of the pentagon or Secretary Rumsfeld or the president himself. This is not the way to run Iraq."

After finding that "the majority of Iraqis say they want the U.S. and British troops now in Iraq to leave within the next few months," Gallup's director of international polling, Richard Burkholder, said Thursday:
"There's a sense of disillusionment...They had higher expectations of us. If we can sweep their army aside in a matter of weeks, why can't we stabilize their country? We're a victim of their high expectations."

Excuse me?!!!!!

Is this how a poll analyzed?! And what are these "high expectations"?

To have electricity for more than 3 hours a day? Or to have clean water? Or to be safe on the street? Or to have hospitals that can actually treat people? Or to have the flag they like? Or not to be bombed by their "liberators"? Or to have gas for their cars (in the country with the second lagest oil reserve)? Or to have a job? Or to have a replacement for Saddam who is not a thief?

If anyone knows of a real high expectation Iraqis are setting, please use the comments feature!!!!

Except for the Kurds in the north, two-thirds of Iraqis say that US troops "make no attempt to keep ordinary Iraqis from being killed or wounded during exchanges of gunfire," while 60 percent say the troops conducted themselves "badly or very badly," according to this poll.

British officials share this concern, according to the article: "We must be able to fight with the Americans. That does not mean we must fight as the Americans."

U.S. officials cannot refute this. "Last month the US Army announced that six US reservists serving as MPs face a court martial for allegedly abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Also, disciplinary actions has been recommended against the seven senior US officials who help run the prison, including Brig. Gen. Janice Karpinski, the commander of the 800th Brigade."

The (puppet) Minister of Culture in Iraq said that his ministry had no idea about the new tasteless flag before it was adopted, according to this article (Arabic text). As you remember, the guy who designed it is an architect who happened to be the brother of the puppet Nasir al-Chadirchi, a member of the Council.

They claim that it was selected from 30 designs, but no one saw the other designs to see why this piece of trash was the winner, as one Iraqi told the reporter. Indeed, they did not announce a competetion for all artists to participate. They simply had an under the table deal, like the contracts and everything else in Iraq these days. If this flag is accepted in Iraq for a long time, then count me out of the circle of "real experts". Indeed, it is the kiss of death for any government that favors this stupid flag.

It takes no special intelligence to see a major resemblance to the Israeli flag. Most Iraqis complained of this, of course. They also complained that this thing does not stand for anything Iraqi. Indeed, they saw in it a flag for a company, rather than a flag for the country with the oldest civilization on earth.

Let us remember: the Iraqi flag was not Saddam's flag. All of us, Iraqis, have it in our homes, despite being strongly against Saddam. There is no way in Hell I am going to admit this new piece of trash in my home.

"The vast majority of the United Nations' oil-for-food contracts in Iraq have mysteriously vanished, crippling investigators trying to uncover fraud in the program, a government report charged yesterday."

I always believed that the UN is nothing but an international ring of thieves who work for the interest of themselves and the superpowers. A whole country has vanished, so how difficult is it for these thieves to make a few files disappear?

If these oppressed countries (about 90% of the members of the UN) have any guts, they should pull out and destroy this scam. They can establish their own UN, one that does not have some people more equal than others and no one has a veto power to abuse 99% of the time. It is a different world and it certainly needs a different UN. This is my idea of reform and international democracy.

57 percent of Iraqis say the foreign troops should leave. Yet the Bush administration is still insisting that they are loved in Iraq. Bush demands a recount of the results of the USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll, which contradicts his false claims of being loved by Iraqis.

If he is despised by a majority of Americans according to a recent poll, why would Iraqis love him, for bombing the hell out of their towns? For disrespecting their mosques and shrines? For his complete indifference to their dead for whom he does not even bother to keep a list?

But for someone who falsely claims to be appointed by God to destroy the world, it is easy to claim that Iraqis appointed him to destroy Iraq. The only thing that did not occur to his small brain is that people can ask Iraqis and find out that he and his puppets are not wanted in Iraq.

As this Iraqi told the surveyor:
"I am not ungrateful that they took away Saddam Hussein... But the job is done. Thank you very much. See you later. Bye-bye."

What part of this "go away" doesn't he understand?

The gold-rush in Iraq is over:

"BP's chief executive delivered a serious setback to hopes of rebuilding Iraq when he said that the oil company has no future there.
John Browne, one of Tony Blair's favourite industrialists, indicated he had given up on Iraq because the political and security situation in the country had deteriorated so much."

"A government that can't pass laws, a nation that doesn't control its own armed forces. Many of Iraq's U.S.-picked leaders wonder just how sovereign a state Washington will give them on June 30."

Answer: partial sovereignty is a code-word for the twenty-first century colonization.

You might wonder why I did not show up today to update the site. Don't be mad. I slept for the first time without having to hug a book and lose it.

The Exam is over, and as Shakespeare said, "All's well that ends well."

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I keep pointing at favoritism and nepotism whenever I find it. From ministers to garbage collectors, all have to be related to the members of the puppet Governing Council. But this is the most outrageous case of nepotism:

The guy who designed the new Iraqi flag, which was deemed to be tasteless by everyone with a pair of eyes, is Rif'at al-Chadirchi.

He is the brother of Nasir al-Chadirchi (a member of the puppet Council).

Saddam, the fascist, was much better than these despicable puppets

"The military actions of the coalition forces must be guided by political objectives and by the requirements of the Iraq theatre itself, not by criteria remote from them. It is not good enough to say that the use of force is a matter for local commanders. Heavy weapons unsuited to the task in hand, inflammatory language, the current confrontations in Najaf and Fallujah, all these have built up rather than isolated the opposition. The Iraqis killed by coalition forces probably total between ten and fifteen thousand (it is a disgrace that the coalition forces themselves appear to have no estimate), and the number killed in the last month in Fallujah alone is apparently several hundred including many civilian men, women and children. Phrases such as 'We mourn each loss of life. We salute them, and their families for their bravery and their sacrifice', apparently referring only to those who have died on the coalition side, are not well judged to moderate the passions these killings arouse," wrote a number of former British ambassadors, high commissioners, governors and senior international officials in a letter to Tony Blair.

OK, I am not an expert on making puzzles, but this one forced its way:

What is common between Ahmed Chalabi and Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi?

You give up?

Both were tried, convicted, and heavily sentenced (20 years and death respectively) in Jordan and both are still at large doing exactly what they were accused of.

Quote of the day (voted for by Scott)

Shirin's opinion in the Iraqi Flag's makeup: "What a steaming pile of processed bull food this whole thing is!"

Monday, April 26, 2004

"The real mystery is why the Bush administration has engaged in a three-year fight — which reaches the Supreme Court today — to hide the details of a story whose broad outline we already know.
One possibility is that there is some kind of incriminating evidence in the task force's records. Another is that the administration fears that full disclosure will highlight its chummy relationship with the energy industry. But there's a third possibility: that the administration is really taking a stand on principle. And that's what scares me...What Mr. Cheney is defending, in other words, is a doctrine that makes the United States a sort of elected dictatorship: a system in which the president, once in office, can do whatever he likes, and isn't obliged to consult or inform either Congress or the public," says PAUL KRUGMAN.

"Kerry Demands Bush Prove Guard Service".

Now this is unfair. The thing was in 1970's. The guy cannot even prove more recent things -- like the Iraqi WMD stockpile claims.

"On Sunday, a top Bush adviser criticized Kerry for leading anti-war protests after he returned from the battlefield."

"If George Bush wants to ask me questions about that through his surrogates, he owes America an explanation about whether or not he showed up for duty in the National Guard. Prove it. That's what we ought to have...I'm not going to stand around and let them play games" Kerry told NBC News in an interview.

For the record, I believe that Kerry and Bush are equally bad for the world, not to say much about their potential harm for this country.

After fixing the water system, the electricity, and establishing a very peaceful and safe environment for the Iraqi children; and after feeding the poor and ending all corruption in Iraq; and after securing jobs for all unwemployed Iraqis; and after having not even one urgent thing to handle, "Iraq's Governing Council has adopted a new national flag." (thanks Shirin)

Iraqis found out in the morning when the newspapers hit the street. I remember that the puppet legislature of Saddam, known as al-Majlis al-Watani, did a better job when it adopted the flag. They held an hour long public debate and the TV carried it live. The flag is the symbol of the country. It should not be adopted by an illegitimate government.

But this is not the first time this happens. Remember that it is the same group of despicable puppets who adopted April 9th, the day of the fall of Baghdad, as the Iraqi National day, making Iraq the only nation on the planet that has the day of its occupation a day for celebration. What did you expect?

I guess if there will ever be a legitimate government, it should have a very busy start -- cleaning all this trash.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

There was a Syrian comedy in the 1970s, with one of its characters being a journalist. Throughout the events, he tries to write an article for his paper. Every time he starts the first sentence, something happens that distracts him. The sentence he repeated a thousand times was:

"If you want to know what happens in Italy, you must know what is happening in Brazil."

I remembered this as I read this article:

"Afghan President Hamid Karzai returned Sunday to a Taliban stronghold where he was nearly assassinated 19 months ago, and said he would welcome rank-and-file members of the militia back into society. But Karzai said about 150 leaders of the ultra-religious Islamic movement supplanted by his government after a US-led war are unworthy of rehabilitation and could be prosecuted. 'Our problem is mainly with the top Taliban - who may number no more than 150 people - who had links with Al Qaeda,' Karzai said. 'Those people are the enemies of Afghanistan and we are against them.' 'But those Taliban who are doing jobs and tilling the fields and working as shopkeepers, we want to welcome those Taliban,' he said. The president has said in the past that he believed most Taliban could be reintegrated back into society, but this appeared to be the first time he put a number on those the nation sought to prosecute."

From re-Ba'athification to re-talibanification, life imitates the Syrian comedy.

"If you want to know what happens in Afghanistan, you must know what is happening in Iraq."

"President Bush apparently has taken my job...Bush, as the self-appointed Palestinian negotiator, finally exposed the 'Middle East peace process' for the charade that it has become -- a mechanism by which Israel and the United States impose a solution on the Palestinians," wrote Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestine Liberation Organization.

You only thought that you had this job, Saeb. Negotiate what? With whom? And why? The so-called "Middle East peace process' has not just become a charade; it was always this way. It is you who failed to see it for what it is, or simply refused to see it as such.

"In Bushworld, we can create an exciting Iraqi democracy as long as it doesn't control its own military, pass any laws or have any power.

In Bushworld, we can win over Falluja by bulldozing it.

In Bushworld, it was worth going to war so Iraqis can express their feelings ("Down With America!") without having their tongues cut out, although we cannot yet allow them to express intemperate feelings in newspapers ("Down With America!") without shutting them down.

In Bushworld, you don't consult your father, the expert in being president during a war with Iraq, but you do talk to your Higher Father, who can't talk back to warn you to get an exit strategy or chide you for using Him for political purposes.

In Bushworld, they struggle to keep church and state separate in Iraq, even as they increasingly merge the two in America." writes MAUREEN DOWD.

"Will there ever be a street in Baghdad named after George W. Bush or any U.S. president? The fact that even asking the question today seems absurd tells you how far things have deteriorated," says the curious Thomas Friedman.

Indeed, George H.W. Bush (the President's father -- remember him?) had the best chance of not only having streets named after him, but Iraqi children as well. But, when he double-crossed us in 1991, his face was printed on doormats in Iraq, where people stepped over on their way in and out. There is no telling of what the creative mind of the Iraqis will have in store for the son, who is much more despised by Iraqis as far as everyone can tell.

The allocation of money in the mythical reconstruction of Iraq.

"-U.S.-financed contractors rebuilding Iraq are spending a quarter of their money (English text) to protect workers and insure their projects against surging violence, according to American officials monitoring the work."

We already learned that a big portion of the money goes to bribes (as one member of the puppet Governing Council revealed recently (Arabic text)

Since no reconstruction is taking place anywhere in Iraq as we speak, the money that is left over, after paying for bodyguards and bribes, goes directly to the bank accounts of the contractors, on top of the tax cuts they keep getting from their friends in Washington.

Who said the war is an ugly business? For some people it certainly is not !!

Yesterday, I went to the San Francisco Zoo (I like to go there often). There was a crowd of demonstrators protesting the cruel treatment of the elephants that were kept in a hostile weather.

I love the elephants and feel sorry for their plight, to be sure. But I wonder if these demonstrators knew about this cruelty to humans as well:

"The wave of fighting ... has killed up to 1,200 Iraqis and 111 U.S. troops, nearly as many in 25 days as the 115 Americans who were killed during the two-month invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein a year ago."

May I remind you that this "wave of fighting" was completely optional for Bremer, who could not stand being criticized by a newspaper in Baghdad, where he acts as a typical local dictator?!

"Dan Senor, said weapons were being stockpiled in mosques and schools in Najaf."

Do you believe him?

While it is not impossible that he is telling the truth, the problem is that he and his ilk made so many false statements that they cannot be believed anymore unless they show some hard evidence (like pictures or videotapes, or independent journalist accounts, which is not hard to produce). But with only Dan Senor's word, I can't help but remember the statements that Saddam had stockpiles of WMD's in his bedrooms and that he was ready to unleash them within 45 minutes. These are people who showed us that they prefer falsehood over truth even when telling the truth would not hurt them.

It will not help me to hear Mr. Powell say, after my family (in Kufa/Najaf) is obliterated, that the intelligence about stockpiles of weapons in mosques were not very accurate.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Mahmoud Mursi passed away.(Arabic text) A great loss for Arab theatre and cinema. He was one of the giants.

One of the puppets in the Governing Council said that many contracts were given purely to the companies that knew whom to bribe. They paid the bribe, got their payment, and left without doing the job.

May I remind you that these companies are stealing the Iraqi money and the money that was paid by U.S. tax payers as well? The $18 billion that was assigned by Congress (if it ever gets there) is supposed to make some reconstruction. As I posted earlier, contractors are sitting all the time in the Green Zone and doing no reconstruction whatsoever. Where is the money going? Does Congress care?! This puppet is doing her best, considering her limitations. Those who have clout should take it from there, don't you think?

"Now, in an echo of the Tikriti nepotism that characterised Saddam Hussein's rule, his nemesis Ahmed Chalabi, a convicted fraudster and the principal puppet in the US-appointed governing council, has chosen his nephew, a Yale-educated Wall Street corporate lawyer with no criminal law experience, to try the former regime prisoners.

No legal justice can come from rampant illegality. The governing council is not the government of Iraq - and neither is Bremer or his successor, John Negroponte, the former point man for the Nicaraguan Contras: those slayers of priests, nuns and literacy teachers in the Reagan era. They are all in Baghdad as a result of an illegal invasion and occupation," wrote George Galloway, a longtime member of the British parliament.

I did not like his friendship with Saddam, but e a powerful argument is worth considering, even if George Galloway happens to be the one who makes it.

Quote of the day by As'ad and Shirin!

Ross Ritter: "[Certain people] live in a mushroom culture. Fed [manure] and raised in the dark."

Walled city

In addition to their private security force of ex-Ghurka soldiers, they have erected a solid three-metre-high concrete barricade wall around the entire neighbourhood.

"The Americans have taken over all of Saddam's palaces and they have occupied the same houses as the Baath party," said Anmar al-Saadi, a 42-year-old former soldier in Saddam's presidential guard.

"While the Iraqi people hated Saddam and his regime, the Baath party did not have to live in fear behind a concrete barrier. It is like the Berlin Wall."

And here is how the re-construction is going in Iraq:

Most of the civilian contractors have sought refuge inside what is known as the Green Zone – a 10km sq walled compound that encompasses Saddam's main palace, a number of former government buildings and the landmark Al-Rashid hotel.

"With everyone trying to get inside here, real estate in Baghdad's Green Zone is more valuable than property in Manhattan," said Dave McCracken, a former Canadian combat engineer who is currently managing a de-mining programme in Baghdad.

"About 90% of the people inside will never venture outside during their entire 12-month tours of duty."

If you wonder who is behind this brilliant idea of "re-Ba'athification" of Iraq, don't be surprised. It is the new war minister, Ali Allawi. He and Iyad Allawi, as you may know were Ba'athists to the core.

Iyad Allawi's main objective is to bring back the Ba'athists to power claiming that many of them were not friends of Saddam. Believe someone who has twenty four years of experience living under the Ba'athist regime. There is not an inch of difference between a Saddam Ba'athist and Iyad Allawi. If you doubt this, read the autobiopgraphy of Talib Shabib, among many others.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Dear Mr. Bremer,

I hope that when you finish your lesson in the Arabic Alphabets this evining, you will read this article (it is in English).

When you do, you will know what the Ba'athists are after.

The high members of the Ba'ath are back to run the country according to a decision by Lord Bremer.

Ahmed Chalabi described this decision (Arabic text) as a step "similar to allowing the Nazis to go back to power immediately after WWII."

This decision is a desperate attempt to achieve some popularity among the minority of Ba'athist supporters. But it also creates other troubles:

1. it rewards the terrorists who planted bombs to kill Iraqis and soldiers, whichever came first.
2. it angers the majority of Iraqis who were tormented by the Ba'athist for 30 years.
3. it seems funny that the U.S. went through all this mess only to bring back the Ba'athist to power.
4. with the Ba'athists back in power, their past victims will start taking the law into their own hands.
5. the Ba'athists will not stop supporting terror, because their goal is to have 100% of the power in Iraq, not just a few jobs. Any semi-educated about Ba'athist literature (Bremer is obviously not) would know that the Ba'athist have no interest in power-sharing. Never did, never will.
6. Iraqis who waited 35 years to overthrow the Ba'ath and sacrificed a lot for that will not let this one pass. The removal of the Ba'athists from power is the demand of people, animals, and even plants in Iraq. I can't believe that some people don't see this.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

"Everybody wants stability in Iraq and reconstruction put on a track. But the actual conditions in the country have made losing propositions of both moving ahead and turning back.
Spain's rebellion appears to represent the international community's frustration with the American government, which refuses to make a radical change in its Iraq policy," says this Japanese editor.

U-turn on hiring of Ba'ath party members

"There are many senior officers remaining in this country who can match all the criteria that have been established in the de-Ba'athification policy and still have a signification (sic.) contribution to offer," said Brigadier General Mark Kim mitt, the US military's deputy director of operations in Iraq.

These are the officers who used to shoot Iraqis on the spot to please Saddam Hussein. As if Iraqis don't have enough to complain about.

The adventure of Bremer and Gen. sanchez to provoke Muqtada al-Sadr and force their way in Fallujah came with the cost of 700 million dollars and more than 700 U.S. soldiers (sorry, I didn't find the price paid by Iraqis). Of course, they did not capture al-Sadr, nor did they enter Fallujah. They just lost three countries from the coalition and about to lose more. I think they should be fired. What do you think?

The cup is half full !!!

"About 50% of the security forces that we built over the past year stood tall and stood firm," Gen Dempsey, commander of the US army's 1st Armored Division, said.

Here is how the other half looks: "About 40% of them walked off the job because they were intimidated and about 10% actually worked against us."

But he got the Math right: about 50% + about 40% + about 10% = about 100%.

Ibrahim al-Ja'fari, one of the 25 main puppets asked Muqtada al-Sadr (Arabic text) to leave Iraq in order to avoid a crisis.

I don't get it. If the guy is a murder suspect as they say, isn't al-Ja'fari showing high contempt for the rule of law in Iraq they claim to be defending?

It is outrageous to go back to sending political opponents to exile, especially after these hypocrites signed a law banning this practice. If they have any evidence against al-Sadr, they should announce it and have a legitimate court of law look into the matter (not a free-lance judge, as they did). If not, then they owe the Iraqis and Muqtada an overdue apology. But sending people to exile should not come back.

Meanwhile, there are 5000 cases of Murder, kidnapping, assassinations, and other grave crimes (Arabic text) crying for a court to look into them. All are ignored. Why? It turned out that the killers do not have militias, so they are not dangerous enough to be captured or tried. And those who have militias, they are members of the parties from the Governing (puppet) Council.

Quote of the day:

"The end of 'Plan of Attack' says that when Mr. Woodward asked the president how history would judge his Iraq war, Mr. Bush smiled. 'History,' he said, shrugging, taking his hands out of his pockets, extending his arms out and suggesting with his body language that it was so far off. "'We won't know. We'll all be dead.'"

Terrorism is evil. No matter where or when or why it happens. But the terrorist act in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia today combined evil and an eye opening message. By blowing up the building of the Saudi security forces, they are telling the Saudis that they cannot count on a government that cannot protect itself. But the Saudis knew that already, I think.

"George Bush's staunchest ally in continental Europe yesterday signalled it was getting cold feet over its military presence in Iraq.
Poland's prime minister, Leszek Miller, said he was considering a retreat from Iraq and conceded that the decision by the new Spanish government to pull out was a problem - a view echoed by the conservative Australian prime minister, John Howard.
Australia has 800 servicemen and women in Iraq, while Poland has a detachment of 2,400 and is in command of 9,500 soldiers from 23 countries, including Spain, in the south-central sector of Iraq that has been rocked by intense insurgency in the past few weeks."

Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic said it is leaving in weeks, following Spain and Honduras.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

One more reason why Iraqis will start to be nostalgic to the days of Saddam. Please read who John Negroponte is. Bush could not find worse than him in the 50 States to appoint for the post of Ambassador to Iraq.

Quote of the day is from a letter to the editor by

SARA SCHLEY: "Mr. Powell let loyalty trump his integrity."

Those who accuse me of bias against the U.S. media are cordially invited to read this article.

"Karen Jurgensen, the top editor of USA Today since 1999, resigned abruptly Tuesday evening, citing her failure to intercept what were apparently fabrications in articles by Jack Kelley, who was the newspaper's star foreign correspondent...a report, as yet confidential, from three outside journalists asked to investigate how Mr. Kelley's deceptions had gone into the paper unchecked."

These are the chefs who spoon-feed many Americans the information about the mysterious world behind the Atlantic. And you think you know what really goes on in Iraq and Palestine! Well, think some more...

"Arabs in the Middle East hate the United States more than ever after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq and Israel's killing of two Hamas leaders, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt said in comments published on Tuesday. Mubarak, who visited the United States last week, told the French newspaper Le Monde that Washington's actions had caused despair, frustration and a sense of injustice in the Arab world."

"Les Américains ont-ils jamais été aussi détestés qu'aujourd'hui dans le monde arabe ?

Au début, certains considéraient que les Américains les aidaient. Il n'y avait pas de haine envers les Américains. Après ce qui s'est passé en Irak, il y a une haine sans précédant et les Américains le savent. Les gens éprouvent un sentiment d'injustice. Ils voient par ailleurs Sharon agir comme il l'entend, sans que les Américains lui disent quoi que ce soit. Il assassine des gens qui n'ont ni les avions ni les hélicoptères qu'il a. Il utilise les F-16, les Apache, les chars, et il prétend que c'est de l'autodéfense."

After explaining the entire doctrines of Islam to the people of France, this self-appointed mosque dictator found nothing else to talk about other than wife-beating in the Qur'an and the virtues of polygamy.

"Abdelkader Bouziane, imam de Vénissieux dont les propos sur les femmes et la polygamie cités par un magazine lyonnais ont provoqué un tollé, a été expulsé mercredi vers 09H20 en direction de l'Algérie, a annoncé la préfecture du Rhône.L'imam salafiste, de nationalité algérienne, âgé de 52 ans et père de 16 enfants français, a été embarqué dans un vol régulier de la compagnie Aigle Azur en direction d'Alger."

I am interested to see if this idiot had any proper theological credentials to speak on these issues with any authority, or is he just another "halal meat" butcher who heads the local mosque fashionable, as it is fashonable in many mosques, unfortunately.

It is reported that Imam 'Ali (the cousin of the Prophet of Islam) found a man teaching in the mosque. He asked him if he knew the order of revelation for all the Qur'anic versed and which ones abrogate which. The man said "No". Imam 'Ali took the man by the ear and led him out of the mosque and told him to never do it again.

It blows my mind to watch countless people pray behind certified idiots like this guy and his ilk. With one year away from finishing a Ph.D. in Islamic theology, I still shiver whenever I am asked to speak in a mosque. How dare these people take this matter so lightly?!

The trial of Saddam is going to be the worst precedent for the centuries to come.

According to al-Hayat Newspaper, the court will be headed by Salim al-Chalabi (formerly Sam Chalabi).

Two things must be mentioned here: (1) Chalabi has never been a judge in his clumsy career as a lawyer. All he did was forging shadowy deals (like Godfather Ahmed Chalabi), including his reported partnership with a Zionist Israeli lawyer in a company that started business in Iraq immediately after the occupation.

(2) It is not mentioned (although very obvious) who made this appointment, and what right they had to do this. Saddam's trial and his fate are the business of the Iraqi people, who were oppressed by him. Chalabi had no such claims, since he fled Iraq in the 1950s.

This is one other reason why Iraqis resent the occupation and everything it does. Nothing is being done in a decent way and nothing will be. To allow the likes of Sam Chalabi to spoil the justice system in Iraq is nothing but a complete return to Saddamism, where illiterate thugs used to preside over special courts and hand down writs of mass executions. Bush and Bremer ought to be ashamed of themselves for allowing these absurdities to go on. Hell, it is likely that they are behind it. Remember, there are many "behinds" to cover if this trial ever takes place.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

In the past, prisoners in Saddam's jails often died before they saw a judge. Under the current Occupation, many of them also die before they see any judge:

"Insurgents fired 12 mortar bombs at Baghdad's largest prison Abu Ghraib, killing 22 prisoners and wounding more than 90."

Elsewhere (Basra to be exact), "explosions ripped through three police stations in southern Iraq on Wednesday, killing more than 40 people, including schoolchildren on a passing bus, and wounding 200, officials said."

Meanwhile, the CPA website still insists that "order has been restored all over Iraq." Indeed, they say, everywhere you go, you see wolves and sheep enjoying each other's company. Iraqis are also reported as happy, calm and at peace with the new situation -- as seen from behind the walls of the Green Zone. Embedded journalists report that thousands of Iraqis are gathering everyday outside the walls and the closed gates of the former Presidential Palace carrying banners in Arabic, which are thought to be containing statements of support for Paul Bremer (no translators reported to work recently to decode the writings on the banners). Considering the resored order, these banners cannot be seen otherwise, they added. Their analysis has been supported by American experts who spoke on FOX, CNN, and MSNBC.

They hold themselves above the international law by refusing to adhere to UN resolutions and by their daily killings of Palestinian children. And internally, they also hold themselves above the law of their own state:

"The son of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon testified Tuesday that he destroyed potentially incriminating tapes relating to a corruption investigation targeting him and his father because he no longer needed them, a report said."

We will see how this mess is sorted, or maybe not!

Webster's Dictionary ignores professionalism and defines concepts on the basis of political expediency. In the latest edition, Anti-Semitism is expanded to include those who oppose Israel and Zionism, as this article (Arabic Text) reports.

Anti-Semitism is hating the Jews because of who they are. It is wrong and indecent to hold such sentiments.

Being against the Zionists and Israel, however, is opposing certain people because of what they do and/or what they believe (reading the literature of the major Zionist figures is enough to reveal their racism and a terrorist theory that was put into action by people like Sharon and his ilk). Most of this filth is available in English, or in the original, in the library near you.

It is a form of anti-Semitism (I believe) to equate Zionism and Israel with Judaism.

I never liked Webster's Dictionary anyway.

Monday, April 19, 2004

Quote of the day is brought to you by my favorite

Richard Cohen: "Bicycling to War."

Another politician seems to be on a hunting trip where he could not read the newspapers:

"Polish Defense Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski said Spain's decision caught him by surprise."

I am sure that he did not know (but he will be surprised soon to know) that "Honduras followed suit late Monday night with President Ricardo Maduro announcing the pullout of his troops 'in the shortest time possible.'"

"But Albania immediately said it was ready to increase its presence. At the moment Albania's commitment is mostly symbolic, consisting of 71 non-combat troops patrolling the city of Mosul under U.S. command." They will probably double their troops in Iraq by sending as many as 71 non-combat troops!!!!

While claiming to be in Iraq for reconstruction and security, the occupation cannot secure the food for its soldiers, according to az-Zaman (Arabic Text).

"Some units offer one hot meal, while others offer two hot meals." They cite the attacks on the roads as a reason. "We do not want to exhaust the food, because it is as important as life itself," said the person in charge of the main food facility in al-Anbar, Western Iraq.

If you think that Iraqis will have enough food soon, think again!!

Meanwhile, the CPA website announced that law and order (this should include security, don't you think?) has been restored ALL OVER IRAQ. I am not kidding; this is what they say!!

Latest poll (4/18/04):

a. The economy----------------------- 44 --------- 54
b. The situation in Iraq ----------------45------------54
c. Education -------------------------- 51------------43
d. Social Security----------------------41-------------51
e. The cost, availability and coverage
of health insurance---------------------33 ------------61
f. Taxes ------------------------------48 ------------49
g. Creating jobs-----------------------42------------54
h. The US campaign against terrorism--63-----------35
i. The federal budget deficit ------------34-----------60
j. The issue of same-sex marriage------45-----------49
k. Prescription drug benefits for
the elderly-------------------------------38----------46

Meet the army of mercenaries in Iraq!

For those who never read Machiavelli, here is some glimpse:
"Mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous. Any man who founds his state on mercenaries can never be safe or secure, because they are disunited, ambitious, undisciplined, and untrustworthy...they have no fear of God, nor loyalty to men...in peace you are under their mercy, and in war at the mercy of your enemies. The reason is that they have no other passions or incentives to hold the field except for their desire for money, and that is not enough to make them die for you." The Prince

"The divide that prevented Europe from having a common position is being overcome," said the European Commission president, Romano Prodi, praising the decision of Spain to pull its troops out of Iraq. Meanwhile, reports from Iraq are indication big celebrations in the headquarters of Spanish military base in Najaf and similar sentiments in Spain.

If this means anything, it must mean that the U.S. is putting all of its money on the military, while showing no interest in diplomacy.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Quote of the day by:

BOB HERBERT: "Follow me, said the president. And, tragically, we did."

"Mr. Powell's memoir also recalls an exchange in the early 1990's, in which Mr. Powell accused Mr. Cheney — jokingly, he insisted — of being surrounded by "right-wing nuts like you." In the last year, the Woodward book says, Mr. Powell referred privately to the civilian conservatives in the Pentagon loyal to Mr. Cheney as the Gestapo," According to this article in the New York Times.

A new poem from my good friend, Hasan al-Nawwab (Arabic Text).

There is no bad or even good Iraqi poet. ALL of them are excellent and superior. This has been the rule since God created the poets and enabled them to produce poetry. Every country had a time in its history when there was no great poet alive. It never happened in Iraq, nor will it happen.

Spain's prime minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, ordered Spanish troops pulled out of Iraq as soon as possible Sunday, "fulfilling a campaign pledge."

"Driven by the deepest democratic convictions, the government does not want to, cannot and will not act against or behind the backs of the will of the Spanish people," he said.

When was the last time a U.S. president (or any elected official) kept a promise? This is the essential difference between the politics of the U.S. and its European counterpart. Of course, it is all because of the difference in the quality of the voters. European voters vote for the politicians they think to be truly democratic, but if this does not turn out to be true, they send them home. While the American voters vote for the politician CNN and FOX think and tell them they should vote for.

Iraqi cheap blood aside, the loss in U.S. troops has been at a rate of 5.5 soldiers per day. This is probably to costliest pursuit of a "murder suspect" in recent history. If Najaf and Karbala are invaded, it will only be uglier. Why can't these politicians and generals get it?

"In his Observer article last week about Iraq, the Prime Minister wrote that a 'significant part of Western opinion is sitting back, if not half-hoping we fail, certainly replete with Schadenfreude at the difficulty we find'. There's a reason for this which he may have appreciated better at the end of last week than he did at the beginning. A vast proportion of intelligent Western opinion is sick of the world's most delicate problems being subsumed to the ambitions of a few American politicians," writes Henry Porter.

Indeed, it is not only the world's most delicate problems", but also America's most delicate problems (the economy, civil rights and liberties, the environment, health and education, and the list goes on).

I think it was scott who asked recently why Middle Eastern Experts do not want to work for the government. This editorial from the Washington Post can provide an eloquent answer.

As a citizen of this country, I still give the government my honest advice whenever they ask for it (they often do). But that is about as far as I go.

Quote of the day:

An American official in Iraq: "But it's a Catch-22. We can't start the work that's supposed to help improve security until security improves."

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Bush and Powell sent letters (Arabic Text) to Bashshar al-Asad, president of Syria, prasing the Syrian National Day, at the same time they are calling him and his father dictators and applying sanctions against his regime and calling Syria a country that supports terrorism. You wonder why these letters were sent? It is simple, they need al-Asad's help with the situation in Iraq as it is getting out of control.

The U.S. just praised Iran and asked for Iranian help in Iraq, while still maintaining that Iran is part of the "Axis of Evil". Soon, I am afraid, we might see a letter to Bin Laden on the anniversary of the founding of al-Qa'eda and a plea to help, by pulling out his terrorists out of Iraq.

A very powerful article by NIALL FERGUSON.

"To understand what is going on in Iraq today, Americans need to go back to 1920, not 1970. And they need to get over the American inhibition about learning from non-American history."

This is exactly what I said on KPFA a week ago. There is no difference between what happened in 1920 and what is happening now in Iraq.

Sharon rewarded Bush, for the support he got, by timing the murder of Dr. Abdel Aziz Rantissi immediately after his return from the U.S. and, thus, giving the Arabs every reason to believe that he had the green light from Bush to go ahead, as all Arab media is saying now. If this is false, Mr. Bush owes it to the American people to come out and condemn this reckless behavior of Israel. The last U.S. veto to a Security Council resolution condemning Israel started a new wave of hate against the U.S. and everything American. The citizens of this country should not continue paying for the crimes of Israel. It is not fair.

It is not enought to issue "a guarded expression of concern."

Palestinians, "fuming over unprecedented concessions Bush gave Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last week for a Gaza pullout plan, felt Rantissi's killing was just another action in the same vein."

"It was Bush," they said, almost unanimously, as the reporter describes the mood. Mr. Bush now can either clear himself and the U.S. away from this accusation, or confirm it by yet another veto, giving Israel the incentive to do more killings and home destruction. I doubt that he even knows what to do, so the decision is maybe left for one of his Sharonesque officials, unfortunately.

Friday, April 16, 2004

I posted, weeks ago, a question abut Khidir Hamza, the guy who was a major fiction-maker about the Iraqi WMD (please tell me when they turn up). He was daily on FOX and the Republicans in the Congress loved to invite him to testify (why isn't he punished for lying to Congress?)

This article says that he was not kept in his reward-job with the ORHA.

IF you decide to read the article, please be advised that the group of puppets that were hired as advisors are nothing but a major scam. I met many of them in Crystal City during two different trips I made (as a real advisor) to the D.C. area. Many of them are practically illiterate, much less qualified to advise anybody on anything. Khidir Hamza and a few other Ph.D. holders were just a few who had higher education. The original plan (before Bremer took charge) was to put these sorry puppets at the front and have Occupation people work behind the scene. This was changed later when Bremer decided to pick more known puppets (the governing council).

I was approached by some members of the group to join and my answer was an emphatic "NO!" I simply could not accept being a puppet anywhere, but especially on the sacred Iraqi soil.

Quote of the day is brought to you by

Donald H. Rumsfeld: "It's a tough road. And it's a bumpy road. And I'll be honest, it's an uncertain road."

"Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not expect so many recent American casualties."

He also did not expect that Ahmed Chalabi was kidding when he told him that Iraqi children will line up in Basra and other cities with roses in their little hands waiting for the liberators.

You can go to sleep and have sweet dreams. General Richard B. Myers promised to capture Bin Laden:

"We will be successful against al-Qaida and their leadership, but I'm not going to put a timeline on it, because I just can't tell you.''

If you translate this into straightforward English, it should read as follows: "If we don't capture bin Laden our grand-grand-children will, or he will die on his own. Whichever comes first."

George W Bush took five days' holiday at his Texas ranch while the rest of America was at work, and looked to be enjoying himself while US soldiers were dying. By Andrew Stephen.

"Four years ago, I traveled the length of Iraq, from the hills where St Matthew is buried in the Kurdish north to the heartland of Mesopotamia, and Baghdad, and the Shia south. I have seldom felt as safe in any country. Once, in the Edwardian colonnade of Baghdad's book market, a young man shouted something at me about the hardship his family had been forced to endure under the embargo imposed by America and Britain. What happened next was typical of Iraqis; a passer-by calmed the man, putting his arm around his shoulder, while another was quickly at my side. 'Forgive him,' he said reassuringly. 'We do not connect the people of the west with the actions of their governments. You are welcome,'" Writes John Pilger (Merci Merry).

This is exactly how I remember Iraq and the Iraqis -- a people that loved their Western guests , but despised their imperialist governments. I am shocked to watch on the news a new Iraqi people: one that kidnaps, kills hostages, burns and mutilates dead bodies.

This new Iraq has two men to blame for its corruption, Saddam Hussein who put them through decades of misery, and George W. Bush, who stole their dream of freedom and turned it into an everlasting nightmare.

A new poem (Arabic text) by the brilliant Sa'di Yousuf. If you can't read Arabic, please consider learning it. If for no other reason, then just for being able to read Sa'di Yousuf and Badr Shakir al-Sayyab. If you don't like their poetry, you can keep the language.

Vietnam shook the nation's confidence not just because we lost, but because our leaders didn't tell us the truth. Last September Gen. Anthony Zinni spoke of "Vietnam, where we heard the garbage and the lies," and asked his audience of military officers, "Is it happening again?" Sure enough, the parallels are proliferating. Gulf of Tonkin attack, meet nonexistent W.M.D. and Al Qaeda links. "Hearts and minds," meet "welcome us as liberators." "Light at the end of the tunnel," meet "turned the corner." Vietnamization, meet the new Iraqi Army.

"Deux des otages libérés veulent rester en Irak, début de polémique au Japon" reports Le Monde.

Deux des otages japonais libérés à Bagdad ont indiqué vendredi qu'ils souhaitaient rester travailler en Irak, déclenchant aussitôt incompréhension et exaspération de leurs proches et des dirigeants politiques."Je vais continuer (ma mission en Irak)", a déclaré Nahoko Takato, une coopérante volontaire de 34 ans, à la chaîne de télévision arabe Al-Jazira peu après sa libération.Les ravisseurs "m'ont fait subir des choses que je n'ai pas aimées. Mais je ne peux pas haïr le peuple irakien", a-t-elle ajouté en essuyant des larmes.De son côté, le photographe indépendant Soichiro Koriyama, 32 ans, a fait savoir à sa famille qu'il désirait rester pour couvrir l'actualité en Irak, selon des proches."Mon boulot est de faire des photos", a expliqué l'ancien soldat alors que, filmé par Al-Jazira, il venait de retrouver la liberté avec ses deux concitoyens.Ses propos n'ont pas été du goût de sa mère Kimiko qui a traité son fils de "cinglé". "Je ne pense pas qu'il réalise bien la somme des soucis qu'il a provoqués", a-t-elle jugé.Le frère de Mlle Takato a estimé que la jeune humanitaire n'avait pas totalement appréhendé la gravité de la situation."Je veux qu'elle se repose afin de pouvoir comprendre rationnellement toute cette épreuve", a prôné Shuichi Takato.Les commentaires des deux otages ont irrité au plus haut point les dirigeants politiques, en particulier le Premier ministre Junichiro Koizumi, confronté pendant une semaine à la crise la plus grave depuis son arrivée au pouvoir il y a trois ans."Comment peuvent-ils dire pareilles choses après que tant de fonctionnaires du gouvernement aient travaillé si dur sans dormir ni manger ? Il ont besoin de se réveiller !", s'est-il exclamé, visiblement irrité.Ces anciens otages ont un profil de militants engagés dans la mouvance associative pacifiste, antinucléaire et tiers-mondiste.Un engagement politique qui les a conduits en Irak et, paradoxalement, entre les mains des insurgés irakiens.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Quote of the day (a new feature I hope to keep):

General Myers : "everybody in Iraq must have an RPG."

Gen. Richard Myers, "chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday that the deadly insurgency that flared up this month is 'a symptom of the success that we're having here in Iraq' and an effort to undermine the country's transition to self-government."

"I think it's that success which is driving the current situation, because there are those extremists that don't want that success...They see this as a test of wills, a test of resolve against those who believe in freedom and self-determination against those who prefer a regime like we saw previously in Afghanistan, or perhaps a regime like we saw previously in Iraq."

So now, the Shi'ite in the South want a regime like Saddam. Two weeks ago they were said to be against that, remember? Of course, I will not dignify the claim of "success" with a comment. I know that some of you would hate me if I did.

This is what I said on April 10:

"It seems that the news about the release of the Japanese hostages is real. In all cases, I do not think that they will be harmed. All these threats are just to twist arms. At the end, they will be released."

I was right, and, I am very happy for the families of these Japanese journalists and for the good people of Japan. They have always been good friends of Iraq and It would have been a terrible thing if these three Japanese were hurt. I hope that they will have a nice vacation after this ordeal.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Paul Bremer is unhappy and "a bit" surprised by the decision of Nuri Badran to leave Iraqi after he fired him from his post as Minister of Interior. (Arabic Text)

Well, the guy is an opportunist who came to be a minister in Iraq. He was fired, so what would he be doing there, enjoying the fireworks? As the old line says: "No loyalty among thieves".

Meanwhile, if this is true, Iraq will be forcing the first citizen into exile. I thought that the so-called constitution made it illegal to force any Iraqi into exile. It is "Animal Farm" all over again.

I began wondering about Chalabi recently. He was nowhere to be found. Well, it turned out that he is still around.

"Najaf must not be touched. This is what we told the coalition. We must seek a peaceful solution. On the other hand we must enforce the law in Iraq...The Sadr family has strong support...It is the movement of the dispossessed, the people who felt oppressed by Saddam, and their current state of mind is that they have not seen any change in the situation in Iraq to favour them. They have been excluded from the political process," he told Reuters.

This is probably the only right thing he said in years.

George W Bush's contribution to human knowledge: "Look, nobody likes to see dead people on their television screens," but he would continue to make everyone see that until the whole world gets sick.

As to what is happening in Iraq, he said: "It's not a civil war. It's not a popular uprising. Most of Iraq is relatively stable."

I never knew that three cities held with an iron fist by the two Kurdish parties can add up to "most of Iraq."

If he talks like Saddam, acts like Saddam, and depends on the same criminals of the Saddam regime, he must be Mr. Bush.
"It's very clear that we've got to get more senior Iraqis involved - former military types involved in the security forces. In the next couple of days you'll see a large number of senior officers being appointed to key positions in the Ministry of Defence and the Iraqi joint staff, and in Iraqi field commands", Gen Abizaid said.

This reminds me of a Syrian play, wherein the head of the village stages a coup every time people get angry and appears in different clothes to give a speech, cursing the old regime. For that matter, I think that Saddam with his beard would make an excellent Prime Minister for Iraq.

"April became the deadliest month for the U.S. military since the Iraq war began in March 2003. At least 87 troops have been reported killed in action in less than two weeks. Last November, 82 were killed."

As if this is not enough, "A 2,500-strong U.S. force, backed by tanks and artillery, massed Tuesday on the outskirts of Najaf for [another] showdown."

"The target is not Najaf. The target is Muqtada al-Sadr and his militia...We will hunt him down and destroy him. We would prefer it not in Najaf or Karbala. We have very great respect for the shrines, for the Shiites." said Brig. Mark Kimmitt, deputy head of U.S. military operations in Iraq.

So, according to this lip-service statement, Najaf is just going to be destroyed by accident.

"Philippines considers withdrawing troops from Iraq," according to recent reports.

Don't be alarmed, they only have 100 soldiers in Iraq. That is just about enough to regulate the traffic in two intersections in Baghdad.

"The decision on whether or not to withdraw our peacekeeping forces will depend on the security situation in Iraq in the days to come," said President Arroyo, who was described as "one of Asia’s staunchest US allies." What does that mean? I thought that troops are there to keep security, not the other way around: security keeps troops!

U.S. Forces are ready to crucify another Iraqi city. "The military build-up around Najaf, south of Baghdad, was going ahead on Wednesday just hours after U.S. President George W. Bush vowed to stay the course in Iraq despite a surge in violence and said a June 30 handover to Iraqi sovereignty would go ahead."

This time, it will be a war that leaves no chance for reconciliation. It is like bombing the Vatican and saying that you are bringing democracy to poor Catholics. Mr. Bush is basically burning the last bridge with the Shi'a of the world, not just those in Iraq.

This is absolutely unnecessary, since the city now is controlled by the Iraqi police. If the objective is to capture one man (being accused of involvement in a murder case), then it certainly does not justify destroying an entire city and murdering countless innocent men, women, and children, not to mention the loss of life among the American soldiers themselves. The justice system can wait to bring Mr. Sadr to trial, and he is not going to leave Iraq anyway. To wage a war like this is to show absolute disregard to innocent human life. It is inconsistent with every religion, every human principle and every kind of morality.

Mr. Bush treats his dog better than his men in Iraq treat the Iraqis. This is not right. It will leave everlasting scars in the Iraqi memory. In 1990's I remember people who never lived under the British colonization speak about it with the same despise I read in the memoirs of those who did.

Mr. Bush is acting like a recalcitrant child who says, "If I can't have the toy, I am going to destroy it so no one can have it."

To show you that the issue of arresting Muqtada al-Sadr is nothing more than a pretext to do some damage and change the bad image of Mr. Bush and his generals, consider this report:

"After besieging the town of Falluja for more than a week, with the loss of an estimated 700 Iraqis as well as scores of Americans, the US has given up on its demand for the handover of those who killed four American security guards and mutilated their bodies, say senior Iraqis involved in talks in the town."

If the U.S. is willing to give up the pursuit of those who killed and mutilates Americans, why can't be a decision to delay the arrest of a person accused of involvement in the murder of al-Khoei, who was not American anyway? It is not like he was the only innocent Iraqi who was killed lately!

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

"This morning, as we sit down to read newspapers in the comfort of our homes or offices, we have an obligation to think of our fighting men and women in Iraq who awake each morning to a shooting gallery in which it is exceedingly difficult to distinguish friend from foe, and the death of every innocent creates more enemies. We owe it to our soldiers and Marines to use absolutely every tool we can muster to help them succeed in their mission without exposing them to unnecessary risk. That is not a partisan proposal. It is a matter of national honor and trust," writes John Kerry.

But he does not seem to think that he owes the Iraqis anything after all the death and destruction caused by this bogus war.

Blind in Baghdad

"Once again, we are feeling our way in the dark. We have 130,000 troops in Iraq. We have 77,000 Iraqi police officers on our side, supposedly with their ears to the ground. We have the supposed loyalty of all those Iraqis who tell pollsters that they are grateful for what Americans have done for their country and how much they want the United States to stay. Still, somehow, not a one of them blew the whistle when Sadr was issuing orders and patting his fighters on the back as they were heading out the door...We went to war for the wrong reasons, and with too few troops and too few allies. Just about every expectation turned out to be misplaced. The occupation has not been financed by oil revenue, as we were assured. The Iraqi army and police are not, as promised, up to the task of maintaining order. Americans were often greeted as liberators, but also as conquerors. The United States did not commit enough troops to intimidate looters and the civilian leaders we backed turned out to have larger followings in Georgetown than in Baghdad. Victory remains possible, but first we'll have to figure out what victory is."

Monday, April 12, 2004

"Soon after the Occupation, the United States and its allies--military and ideological--referred to the Iraqi resistance as 'foreign elements' 'terrorists' or 'former loyalists of the Saddam regime'. This phraseology
has now become redundant and US military spokesman are now referring to the guerrillas as 'anti-Iraqi forces' as if to suggest that the US, British, Spanish, Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Italian, Japanese, South Korean and Polish troops represent Iraq but the Iraqis who resist the occupation are anti-Iraqi.

It's a strange world," writes Tariq Ali. (Merci beaucoup, Merry)

Sunday, April 11, 2004

I just received an invitation to go to Washington, D.C., and advise the administration on the situation in Iraq.

It will be the fourth time I advise them in a year. It is also going to be the fourth time they will not listen to me. I almost feel bad for the effort and for the humiliation I have to subject myself to in every airport on my way to and from D.C. -- all being in vain.

-- "Why go then?" you legitimately ask.
-- I go because, this way, (1) I will get a paid-for trip to D.C. where I can do many good things there, like giving public talks and meeting many friends working there, who keep inviting me to visit them and do some work there, but they can't pay for my trip; (2) this way, I also have the right to criticize the policies, as things go wrong; and (3) as a citizen of this country, I owe the government to give my honset advice when I am asked, even when I do not agree with its actions.

Democracy in Iraq. Favoritism, nepotism, mutual back-scratching, and chess games.

The first revelation that is being circulated (Arabic text) about the firing of Badran, the former Minister of Interior, had to do with a simple equation. You need to keep balanced numbers of every puppet's relatives in the formula. If you add one at any time, you must take one off. They added the brother of Iyad Allawi as a Minister of Defense (defending what with what?) Therefore, they had to remove his in-law from the Ministry of Interior Affairs.

This exclusive club is worse than Saddam's era and Lebanese politics combined. The most obscene thing about it is that it is being marketed as a form of democracy.

If there is one strong talent the Bush administration has, it must be the talent of making enemies. The talent that comes next is the talent of losing friends. The greatest weakness, on the other hand, is their failure to admit it.

"US marine commander in charge of the siege of Falluja claimed 95% of those killed were legitimate targets."

Even if he is correct, what about the other 5% (30 people). Why illegitimate targets be hit? And what about the estimated 1500 wounded? And why no one asked him about how he managed to make sure of the percentage he gave, considering that he only saw the outside walls of the city!

Here is the account of someone who was actually in the town: "Yesterday, the director of the town's general hospital, Rafie al-Issawi, said the vast majority of the dead were women, children and the elderly."

"Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, spokesman for the US military in Iraq...suggested any civilian deaths were caused by insurgents hiding among them."

Where did I hear this line before? Wait, don't say it! I remember who always says this, and so do the people in the Middle East. If anything, this is an admission that the generals are throwing the baby with the bath-water. I do not think Iraqis appreciate this.

If you believe in polls (all politicians do), this might interest you:

"Approval of US President George W. Bush and his administration's handling of Iraq was down to 44 percent of Americans, according to the poll, new elements of which were released Sunday, down from 51 percent surveyed March 26-28. Meanwhile, Bush's overall approval rating had sunk to a record low of 49 percent since CNN/Time started polling the earliest days of the Bush presidency in 2001."

If this is not enough, "a minority of 41 percent expressed satisfaction with Bush while 54 percent disapproved of his economic management of the country."

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush "Prays for a Drop in Iraq Casualties", according to the Guardian. "Obviously, every day I pray there is less casualty, but I know what we are doing in Iraq is right."

How about doing something in addition to prayers (which are very important), like using less force and more common sense in Iraq?

Mr. Hamill, who was kidnapped on Friday and was shown on TV, turned out to be working "for the Houston-based engineering and construction company Kellogg, Brown & Root, a division of Halliburton, his wife, Kellie, told The Associated Press...In a statement released late Saturday, Halliburton said its primary concern was for the safety and security of its workers"

Untrue! Their primary concern is to make as much money as they can by using their connections to the administration to have a monopoly over as many contracts as they possibly can. If they really cared about their civilian employees, they would have pulled them out untill Iraq is safe and the conditions for their work improve. What on earth was Mr. Hamill doing in the middle of a war zone, where even soldiers are not going? Can Halliburton enlighten us, or his family?

Let's hope that he gets out of this ordeal unharmed.

It seems that the Intelligence trend of these days is to underestimate. We all remember that the mistakes that were made and led to the war were due to overestimating Saddam's stockpiles of WMDs. Now no one wants to be accused of exaggerating anymore.

The latest estimate of the supporters of al-Sadr are estimated to be "between 300 and 400 hard-core fighters". Considering that they are spread in about 12 cities and towns in Iraq, this means that there are 33 supporters of al-Sadr in every city. With 135,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, this means that the al-Sadr movement is outnumbered by 337 to 1.

It should not take a great commander-in-chief to do well with such odds, don't you think?

Nermeen Al-Mufti, reports on the "freedom of expression" in the new Iraq.

You can write, say, and sing anything in praise of Bremer, Chalabi, and the occupation. Indeed, you can curse Saddam and the Ba'ath party for the first time in 35 years. Why aren't Iraqis grateful?

This reminds me of a story narrated by Ayatullah Khumeini in his book, Islam and Revolution:

"It is said that a new British military administrator was appointed in Baghdad. After spending the first night, he was horrified at dawn when he heard all kinds of loud speakers shout something in Arabic. He called his guard and asked what was going on, the guard replied:
-- 'They are calling for prayer, Sir.'
-- 'Are they saying anything against Great Britain?' asked the general.
-- 'No Sir, it is purely religious.'
-- 'Fine then, let them call for prayer as they please.'"

While Iraqis outside Kurdstan are still feeling deep heartache over the atrocity of Halabjah, the two Kurdish satellite TVs are completely indifferent to the sad situation in most Iraqi cities for the past week. Nothing of what is happening is making it to their news segments. Indeed, they have more good news than the website of the CPA itself.

Hans Blix is trying to make some money of his shameful role prior to the war. Here is a review of his book, Disarming Iraq.

"He speaks admiringly of Colin Powell, feels that he was always treated courteously by Condoleezza Rice and writes less charitably of Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. He recalls a meeting with Cheney at which the vice president tried to intimidate him, threatening to 'discredit inspections in favor of disarmament' if he did not produce quick results."

As the Bush failure in Iraq becomes more apparent, Neocon journalists turn to writing about poverty and compassion. It is very true that, while even the illusion of success has a thousand parents, failure continues to be an orphan.

"We did not sign up to fight Iraqis," the new Iraqi army told the commanders of the Occupation, according to the Washington Post.

"The 620-man 2nd Battalion of the Iraqi Armed Forces refused to fight Monday after members of the unit were shot at in a Shiite Muslim neighborhood in Baghdad while en route to Fallujah, a Sunni Muslim stronghold, said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who is overseeing the development of Iraqi security forces. The convoy then turned around and returned to the battalion's post on a former Republican Guard base in Taji, a town north of the capital."

Saturday, April 10, 2004

This is what you see.

This is what Middle Easterners see.

Hence the difference in public opinion

So far, those who speak about Iraq being like Vietnam focus on the similarities in the consequences of the two involvements. "This article, quite rightfully, focuses on the causes:

"The Americans failed in Vietnam because they backed a government that had no local legitimacy. In trying to create an Iraq that suits their own culture and ideologies they are in danger of making the same error."

Sharon promised Israelis security and wonderful life if they gave him 100 days in office. Years later, 760,000 Israelis [are] living outside Israel, a figure that has risen from 550,000 in 2000, according to the country's Absorption Ministry.

"I am not afraid of bombings, but I am tired of them. Tired of the pressure and the mentality of hatred and fear that people have developed," said Abby Spero, who is joining those who are lucky enough to be holding American or European passports. "Israel hopes to attract another million immigrants by 2010, but only 23,000 are expected this year." At this rate, Israel needs 43 years to attract the million immigrants. While at the same time it will lose 225,7500 who will leave, if the same rate goes continues.

It seems that the news about the release of the Japanese hostages is real. In all cases, I do not think that they will be harmed. All these threats are just to twist arms. At the end, they will be released.

In any event, I believe that the Japanese government should pull its people out of Iraq. After all they are not combatant troops and they are not there to participate in military operations. They are said to be part of the reconstruction efforts. But now, there is no reconstruction, nor are there the conditions for any reconstruction. They can send them back when the situation becomes suitable for them to do their mission.

This, I believe, goes for all the reconstruction people. They are there in very precarious position and in the past days, many of them were kidnapped or shot dead.

President Bush said in his weekly radio spin that those who fight the occupation are "a small faction"

If Mr. Bush is lying to us, he should resign.

If he is telling the truth, he should also resign.

Because, if he cannot control a small faction of lightly armed men -- with 134000 U.S. soldiers and all the jet fighters and helicopters and the technology at his disposal -- he has no business being the Commander-in-Chief.

So what is it going to be?!

Iyad Allawi, whom I never liked nor do I trust, decided to suspend his membership in the Governing Council (text is in Arabic). It is unclear whether he did so because he is mad at the military and Bremer because of the recent events, or because Bremer fired his relative from the Ministry of Interior. Badran was the representative of Allawi in the cabinet. Most likely, he did it for the second reason and opportunistically sold it as a patriotic action.

A Japanese paper calls for the release of the three Japanese hostages. "They have nothing to do with the military or the government."

I add my voice to this cause. It is not ethical or noble to take this kind of action. It is certainly not consistent with the teachings of Islam as well.

Please let these people go!

Friday, April 09, 2004

I am passing this to you according to my "calling it like it is" principle. (Thanks Merry):

U.S. Muslims seek Pentagon probe on Iraq photo.

It is very disturbing and it explains the gap between the talk and the action at all levels.

"I had gone off to Vietnam in 1962 standing on a bedrock of principle and convictions. And I had watched that foundation eroded by euphemisms, lies, and deception."
-- "My American Journey," Colin Powell

Colbert I. King traces Powell's preaching and practice. Read it please, it is enlightening.

"It is a mistake to think of the current crisis as simply an attack by Mr. Sadr on the occupation," write Yitzhak Nakash.

Despite my disagreement with several points he makes in the article, I think that he is right in advising that a big war with the Shi'a is not the way to go in Iraq. He also makes a good point when he argues that any compromise should not result in humiliating Muqtada al-Sadr or marginalizing his movement.

But, most likely, U.S. officials will listen to the advice (on the same page) of David Brooks, whose knowledge about Shi'ism is next to nothing. He admits that he wrote his article after spending "the last few days talking with people who've spent much of their careers studying and working in this region." That is how things are done in Washington, by the way (second-hand and heresay experts reign all over the place).

Brooks says: "The Shiite violence is being fomented by Moktada al-Sadr, a lowlife hoodlum from an august family...Sadr has the advantages that always accrue to fascist thugs. He is vicious, while his opponents are civilized.." He also called him a "brown-shirt" (i.e. Nazi), in an interview today with Jim Lehrer.

I must say this: I have been watching what is being done in Iraq. There is nothing civilized about it. Whole cities being crucified because of -- as the U.S. says -- only a few people resist the occupation. Even the puppets of the U.S., like Pachachi, are calling this military operation "unacceptable and illegal."

Life in Afghanistan after the liberation: Drugs, Drugs, and More Drugs.

"Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador, said in a recent interview that with Afghanistan's elections approaching — they are now scheduled for September — 'the politics of it may require not to go too harsh' with eradication."

A nice lesson in U.S.-style democracy, don't you think? Leave the dirty work to after elections, and if you lose, it becomes another politician's problem.

The former puppet, Badran, left the theater after puppet-master, Bremer decided that he is not useful any longer. Az-Zaman Newspaper reported that Badran left Iraq and went to Amman (Jordan) after he was forced to resign (as he told the reporters yesterday). It will be interesting to read what he has to say after he starts talking (if ever) about his year-long experience as a puppet.

The replacement is a Sunni member of the Governing Council (al-Sumayda'i). Bremer probably believes that a Sunni minister of interior will happily order the police to shoot at the Shi'ites in the South, as it used to be the case during the time of Saddam. There is a glitch, however, which is that the police will not obey such orders. The system that made it possible for Saddam is no longer there.

Deux soldats américains disparus après une attaque à l'ouest de Bagdad.

"'Deux soldats ont disparu à l'issue de l'attaque de leur convoi vendredi autour de 12h25 à la mi-journée. L'attaque a eu lieu tout près de l'aéroport international de Bagdad', a affirmé à l'AFP un porte-parole de la coalition joint à Bagdad, Justin McCue.Le porte-parole n'était pas en mesure d'affirmer si ces soldats ont été enlevés."

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