Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Saddam will have to face the court, along with his gang. Although there are hundreds of thousands that still need to follow them in the same process, it is a start. Let us hope that "past performance does not predict future outcome", as the people of Wall Street say. One good thing that can be cited so far is that the trial is going to be public and TV cameras will be allowed.

I still dislike the idea of having Sam Chalabi as the head judge. Not only because he is a Chalabi, but also because of his background. He also has no experience whatsoever as a judge. It is ridiculous to appoint him as the head judge for a trial the Iraqi government began to call "the trial of the century", as Muwaffaq al-Rubai'i, the Iraqi Natonal Security Advisor, said today.

I am not trying to be cute here, but there is a good reason for my argument, I believe. The lawyers who are likely to defend the dictator started making their case in the media. They did not address the charges at all (it is hard to justify well-documented genocide). Instead, they talk about the lack of legitimacy of the court. You do not want to give them one more thing to complain about -- a judge that cannot be taken seriously. Also, having Chalabi as the head Judge risks the process, because if he screws up the trial because of his lack of experience, the trial would be a farce and the verdict and the sentence would be overturned by any impartial appeal court (if any is allowed) on the basis of the law, rather than justice, or the guy would be executed based on the outcome of a corrupt trial. So they might as well hang him now. Why would anyone want this kind of risk when there are hundreds of unemployed competent Iraqi judges who can do the job right?

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Once a criminal always a criminal. Iraq under Allawi:

"Iraqi ministry of interior officials admitted that around 150 prisoners taken during a raid four days before in the Betawain district of Baghdad had been physically abused during their arrest and subsequent questioning."

When American Military Police raided the place (the first test of so-called Iraqi sovereignty), here is what happened:

"The American asked me why we had beaten the prisoners. I said we beat the prisoners because they are all bad people. But I told him we didn't strip them naked, photograph them or f*ck them like you did," said Nashwan Ali, one of the new torturers in Allawi's Iraq.

"One western police adviser said he had no idea that the ministry itself was being used for questioning suspects. 'It sounds rather like the bad old days,' he said."

It seems that by the time Saddam stands trial, Allawi would have enough to stand next to him. After all, he and Saddam belonged to the same thuggish branch of the Ba'ath party. And the more criminality takes place, the more Iraqis will remember those who installed him on their backs. What did Bush say yesterday about democracy?!

Condescending, antagonistic and ignorant. These are the words that can describe every speech President Bush makes about the Middle East. Here is the latest:

"In some parts of the world, especially in the Middle East, there is wariness toward democracy, often based on misunderstanding," he said while hiding in a castle in Turkey.

It is the dictators of the Middle East who oppose democracy, not the people. If free elections were to be held, you would never see demonstrations against them. If free speech appears on the pages of Middle Eastern papers, people would never boycott them. If the police stop using live bullets directed at the spot between the eyes, we would see massive peaceful demonstrations calling for rights. If Arab TV's become free and open, people would never stop watching.

Those who would be nervous would be the dictators, most of whom are very close to the President and would not last another day without his backing.

It is extremely unfounded accusation -- indeed an insult -- to the Muslims to say that they have "wariness toward democracy" and that they "misunderstand" it. There is nothing smysterious about democracy that a population more that 1.3 billion people fails to understand it. If the President and his speechwriters know some Arabic, he would know that Arab and Muslim theorists have written a great deal about democratic theory and, yes, many Arabs and Muslims do read other languages, including English and other European languages (some even have them as native languages) and they do have access to democratic theory more than the President himself, whose favorite free time is watching sports.

"We must strengthen the ties of trust and good will between ourselves and the peoples of the Middle East...And trust and good will come more easily when men and women clear their minds and their hearts of suspicion and prejudice and unreasoned fear."

I agree, and let's start right here, with many people in Washington, who outperformed Thomas Hobbes in promoting people's "suspicion and prejudice and unreasoned fear."

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, former national security advisor to President Carter, had this to say on the transfer of "power" in Iraq:

"This is not a transfer of power, a handover to a sovereign government. We are transferring limited authority to a satellite government, a satellite government that is still to establish its legitimacy and the longer we stay, the more difficult it will be before it to gain legitimacy... Yes, let's not pump it up and let's not distort it. We have had too much Orwellian language in our discussion of Iraq altogether. The Orwellian language was invented by communists but it's being adapted in our political discourse by the neocons. We talk about liberation when it's an occupation. We talk about peace when it's war. We talk about sovereignty when it's limited authority.

Let's be realistic in our assessments and then I think we'll be in a better position to conduct a serious national debate over what needs to be done and what is being done. I think that this is a step in the right direction but the pitfalls are enormous. Unless we recognize that we have to change course rather significantly, I am afraid we may dig ourselves in and be stuck in the Middle East the way the Israelis have been stuck in the West Bank. They have been there for 37 years. I don't want American occupation forces to be stuck in the Middle East for years."

I was not the only one bothered by Mr. Bush's outrageous talk about Turkey (see posting below).

"Jacques Chirac bluntly told George Bush to mind his own business yesterday when the US president urged European leaders to give Turkey a firm date for starting EU membership talks later this year."

Chirac complained that Mr. Bush "not only went too far but went on to territory which is not his own...It's as if I was advising the US on how they should manage their relations with Mexico."

From the editorial of the New York Times:
"Two days early, with a veil of secrecy and a tight security lockdown, Washington's proconsul in Iraq, Paul Bremer III, handed a hollow and uncertain sovereignty to Iyad Allawi, a former Baathist collaborator of Saddam Hussein who spent most of the past three decades exiled in London, the last one of those in the pay of America's Central Intelligence Agency. It goes without saying that this is not the sort of outcome the nation envisioned when we sent our forces to liberate Iraq last year,"

Monday, June 28, 2004

Here is how a reader reacted to Mr. Cheney's "F" word:

Vice President Dick Cheney's disgraceful use of profanity toward Senator Patrick Leahy on the floor of the Senate has only been compounded by his justification on Fox News: "Ordinarily I don't express myself in strong terms, but I thought it was appropriate here."

Once again, Mr. Cheney is breaking new ground for the arrogance of the Bush administration. His unapologetic statement that he "felt better afterwards" hardly excuses the public desecration of his office. The American people do not feel better afterward.

Az-Zaman newspaper had an article about "Bremer's unregretted departure".

Among other things, it remembered Bremer (that's how Iraqi historians will remember him as well) for "depriving 65,000 Iraqi families of their basic income" because of his infamous decision to fire all of the Iraqi army, all of the Iraqi police force, all of the employees of Iraqi Information Ministry. Also, on his watch, some of the most shameful behavior took place in Iraq, including the humiliation of Iraqi prisoners.

THe only thing az-Zaman regretted was that Bremer "did not take with him all his advisors, who "kidnapped Iraq and treated it like some spoils of war to divide as they pleased."

Some occupiers are like that; they think that they actually can call themselves "liberators" and do as they please and it is the duty of the "liberated" to be grateful, no matter what. But the end of the story is always the same: they leave in secret, without overwhelming crowds throwing roses over their heads.

OK! Bremer is out of Iraq after leaving a legacy of death and destruction. The "terrorism expert" allowed Iraq to be a hang-out for all kinds of terrorists. Many people, including some of his hand-picked puppets, blame him for the sorry state of affairs in Iraq.

Meanwhile, John Negroponte, the new Administrator/Ambassador landed in Baghdad on Monday. Negroponte will have his words backed by 140,000 troops and he will control over $15 billion that was set by Congress for the so-called reconstruction of Iraq. He will also oversee "a U.S. Embassy that probably will be the largest in the world, with some 1,000 Americans assisted by hundreds of Iraqis. Negroponte will be assisted by a handful of U.S. ambassadors who volunteered for duty in Baghdad."

It is theoretically possible that the government of Allawi performs a miracle and avoid being a puppet of Mr. Negroponte. But is this probable? What do you think?

Sunday, June 27, 2004

When I taught American politics, I told my students that, unlike any other elected official, the American president is the only one who represents all Americans -- even those who did not vote for him. When he does something brilliant, all Americans feel proud, and when he falls from a ladder or empties his stomach in the lap of a foreign dignitary, all Americans become embarassed.

I was reminded of this by Bush's last trip to Europe. In Irland, he was received by a very cold-hearted populace (compare that with their reception of J.F.K.). A TV interviewr told him that he was not welcomed by the Irish people (part of the interview ran on the NewsHour). And in Turkey he was "preceded by a series of protests and bomb blasts, including two last Thursday...About 20,000 demonstrators, many members of leftist groups, gathered in a Ankara square on Sunday chanting anti-Bush slogans and protesting American policies in the Middle East."

Here is why the Turks despised him:

"I appreciate so very much the example your country [i.e. Turkey] has set on how to be a Muslim country and at the same time a country which embraces democracy and rule of law and freedom," he said.

First of all, Turkey's government has not reconciled Islam and democracy. It imposed an awkward form of ideology that left the country governed by a regime which is not Islamic and not democratic either.

As to freedom, we all know how free the Turkish people are. I don't know how Mr. Bush can look the Kurds of Turkey in the eyes and say what he said (they are more than half the entire population of Iraq but have no cultural or identity rights whatsoever. Only when Turkey wanted to join the EU, it allowed them to broadcast for a few hours a day in Kurdish with awful scrutiny). Also, Turkish women (including an elected member of the Parliament) cannot enter and work in a government building with their Hijab on -- Mr. Bush criticized France for less than that (rightfully so), but when Turky does the same, it becomes an example of freedom.

Here is how Turkey was described by Human Rights Watch in the 2003 report released this year:
"Police still routinely ill-treat detainees, and reports of outright torture in police custody persist. Prosecutors continue to indict writers and politicians who express a religious or ethnic perspective on politics, charging them with racial or religious hatred, as well as "insulting state institutions." Broadcasting and education in minority languages such as Kurdish were legally authorized in 2003, but regulatory obstructions have delayed the realization of these goals. The government has still not implemented an effective return program to assist the hundreds of thousands of Kurdish villagers displaced by conflict in the early 1990s."

It seems that President Bush nominated to a Circuit Court position a lawyer who practiced his law in two jurisdictions for years without a license.

Speaking of license, I am still unclear about whether President Bush had his flying license renewed when he flew that government-owned jet on May 1, 2003 to declare the mission in Iraq accomplished. I know that his license was suspended because he failed to show up for a physical exam when he was still required to serve in the National Guard.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

"The people in charge of rebuilding Iraq can't be embarrassed, because, clearly, they have no shame," wrote Naomi Klein.

"If Iraq's occupiers were capable of feeling shame, they might have responded by imposing tough new regulations. Instead, Senate Republicans have just defeated an attempt to bar private contractors from interrogating prisoners and also voted down a proposal to impose stiffer penalties on contractors who overcharge. Meanwhile, the White House is also trying to get immunity from prosecution for US contractors in Iraq and has requested the exemption from the new prime minister, Iyad Allawi.

It seems likely that Allawi will agree, since he is, after all, a kind of US contractor himself. A former CIA spy, he is already threatening to declare martial law, while his defence minister says of resistance fighters: 'We will cut off their hands, and we will behead them.' In a final feat of outsourcing, Iraqi governance has been subcontracted to even more brutal surrogates. Is this embarrassing, after an invasion to overthrow a dictatorship? Not at all; this is what the occupiers call "sovereignty". The Aegis guys can relax - embarrassment is not going to be an issue."

Can someone verify This story?

"Vice president Dick Cheney brought a long-running feud with leading Democrats over his former company, Halliburton, to a foul-mouthed climax on the floor of the Senate, it emerged yesterday.
Mr Cheney told Vermont's senator, Patrick Leahy to 'f**k yourself', after he apparently approached George Bush's number two for a chat."

I must say that it is not out of character for the VP. Some Americans might still remember the incident during the 2000 election campaign when Bush described a reporter as an "a**hole" and Cheney said "Yea, big time!"

They both did not know that the microphone was on.

OK, the Washington Post has more on the story. It quotes Cheney as saying, "I informed him of my view of his conduct in no uncertain terms. And as I say, I felt better afterwards."

That is very bad. Decent people do sometimes have a slip of a tongue, but they show remorse afterwords. But to brag about it, it speaks volumes about the character of the person. I am glad that Cheney does not post comments on this website. Then I would be doing a lot of cutting!

The Iraqi army will not have tanks. In a highly hostile region like the Middle East, that has one meaning: Iraq has to be a protectorate of the Americans or risk being a highway for anyone who cares to drive through.

"Right now tanks and heavy armament are not necessary," said Frederick C. Smith, the U.S. senior adviser for national security. "What's needed are well-trained, disciplined troops with the proper equipment." That is to say: equipment to kill Iraqis who dare oppose the puppet government. Hell, even for that they would need some sort of armored vehicles!

Friday, June 25, 2004

More of my translations from Ali al-Wardi's Lamahat Ijtima'iyyah min Tarikh al-'Iraq al-Hadith (Glimpses of the Modern History of Iraq). Too many e-mails keep demanding more, so I have to put many things on hold and comply. Enjoy and reflect!

The speech of Muzahim al-Pachachi (rings a bell? It should!), in a party honoring Sir Arnold Wilsom's departure from Iraq, October 2, 1920:

"I feel sorry that the foolishness of some Arab individuals disturbed the British nation and its honorable mission [i.e. the occupation of Iraq]. These acts were perpetrated because of some dreams impossible to come true, on the one hand, and for personal goals, on the other hand. The current movement -- he means the Revolution -- is not pure Arab. It is rather contaminated by foreign elements, that regrettably succeeded to use the Arab fame and money and blood for their own benefit, and in order to weaken the position of Great Britain in other countries. Therefore, you must not be fooled by the appearances, which are deceptive most of the time -- especially in the East.

Don't consider the present Revolution, which is carried out by some Bedouin tribes, a real patriotic revolution aiming for independence; for, such an uprising cannot be considered representative of the feeling of the whole population.

Elite families in Baghdad can never sympathize with un uprising that destroyed its own country. These are the true feelings of the people who have important opinions, and they are eager to relate what they think and feel to those who call for the withdrawal of Britain from this country. They cannot realize that the withdrawal means nothing less than the violation of the rule of law and the destruction of the population and the ensuing spread of chaos all over the country, which might lead to an Asian war before which Britain cannot stay idle."

Paying the Price: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War
A Study by the Institute for Policy Studies and Foreign Policy In Focus: (Thanks Merry)

"Estimated long-term cost of war to every U.S. household: $3,415
Amount contractor Halliburton is alleged to have charged for meals never served to troops and for cost overruns on fuel deliveries: $221 million
Kickbacks received by Halliburton employees from subcontractors: $6 million
Price of a gallon of gasoline in the U.S. in May 2004: more than $2

Iraqi [innocent] civilians killed: 9,436 to 11,317
Iraqi [innocent] civilians injured: 40,000 (est.)"

Read it! You are guaranteed that it is worth your time.

"The company commander of the U.S. soldiers charged with abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib prison testified Thursday that the top military intelligence commander at the prison was present the night a detainee died during an interrogation and that efforts were made to conceal the details of the detainee's death. Capt. Donald J. Reese, commander of the 372nd Military Police Company, said he was summoned one night in November to a shower room in a cellblock at the prison, where he discovered the body of a bloodied detainee on the floor. A group of intelligence personnel was standing around the body, discussing what to do, and Col. Thomas M. Pappas, commander of military intelligence at the prison, was among them, Reese said."

OK, so now we know that these isolated incidents and the alleged cover-up reached at least a Colonel level. Now, here is where it gets sinister:

"An autopsy the next day determined that the man's death was caused by a blood clot resulting from a blow to the head, and the body subsequently was hooked up to an intravenous drip, as if the detainee was still alive, and taken out of the prison, Reese recalled. There is no known record of what happened to the body after that," accrding to the Washington Post.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

One week before the so-called transfer of power ti the Iraqis it has been reported that about "30,000 Iraqi police officers are to be sacked for being incompetent and unreliable and given a US$60 million payoff...Each officer will receive US$1,000 to US$2,000 in severance pay -- a total package of up to US$60 million."

We report, you smile!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

"I would like my headstone to read, `He always tried to do the right thing,' " Judge Bybee said.

But did he? Not according to a shameful memo he wrote in 2002 when he was working for the Bush administration. In it he wrote: "Only pain like that accompanying 'death, organ failure or the permanent impairment of a significant body function'" can qualify as torture. He asserted "that the president's power to use torture to extract information from suspected terrorists is almost unlimited."

Bybee's reward for his loyalty was an appointment for the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. He was appointed by President Bush and confirmed by the Senate.

"Even if the defendant knows that severe pain will result from his actions, if causing such harm is not his objective, he lacks the requisite specific intent," he opined in the 2002 memo.

"The Bush administration dropped its plan Wednesday to seek renewal of a U.N. resolution shielding U.S. personnel serving in U.N.-authorized peacekeeping missions from prosecution by the International Criminal Court, citing fierce opposition to the initiative."

The Security Council gave the Bush administration the benefit of the doubt once and agreed to grant U.S. personel the immunity they asked for. What was the result?

Soldiers who made a mockery of human decency, lawyers who drafted memos saying it is not torture until a kidney failure is diagnosed, and a president who agreed with them, saying that he reserves the right to suspend the international law and the U.S. Constitution when he feels it is the time to do so.

This time the UNSC says: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me!"

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Thanks to my friend, Emigré, now we have a list of areas in Iraq that need phone repares. Please report any areas that you know of.

The words and actions of the Bush administration on torture are oranges and apples says TERENCE HUNT.

"Rumsfeld's Nov. 27, 2002, memo approved several methods which apparently would violate Geneva Convention rules, including:

-Putting detainees in 'stress positions,' such as standing, for up to four hours.

-Removing prisoners' clothes.

-Intimidating detainees with dogs.

-Interrogating prisoners for 20 hours at a time.

-Forcing prisoners to wear hoods during interrogations and transportation.

-Shaving detainees' heads and beards.

-Using 'mild, non-injurious physical contact,' such as poking.

Prisoners at Abu Ghraib were interrogated for as long as 20 hours at a time, kept hooded and naked, intimidated with dogs and forcibly shaved. Bush and other administration officials have said other treatment at the Iraqi prison, such as forcing prisoners to perform sex acts, beating them and piling them in a naked human pyramid, were unquestionably illegal."

These methods, according to the article, remained in use until April 2003. Then they were replaced by a new methodology:

"Rumsfeld issued a new set of approved interrogation methods later that month, disallowing nakedness and requiring approval for four techniques: use of rewards or removal of privileges; verbally attacking or insulting the ego of a detainee; alternating friendly and unfriendly interrogators in a `good cop, bad cop' method; and isolation."

"An Aug. 1, 2002, Justice Department memo argues that torture - and even deliberate killing - of prisoners in the terror war could be justified as necessary to protect the United States. The memo from then-assistant attorney general Jay Bybee also offers a restricted definition of torture, saying only actions that cause severe pain akin to organ failure would be torture."

"Facts are the enemy of truth", writes Richard Cohen.

His theory is that Cheney and Bush did not lie or exaggerate (he justifies this order, hinting that Bush is a puppet); they simply were blindfolded by their ideology. They saw that they believed rather than believing what they saw.

La doyenne de la faculté de droit de l'université de Mossoul et son mari ont été trouvés assassinés mardi dans leur maison, a annoncé la police de cette ville du nord de l'Irak."Les corps de Leila Abdallah Saad et de son mari Mounir al-Keiro ont été découverts ce matin, le premier criblé de balles et égorgé et le second égorgé", a déclaré à l'AFP le commandant de police Falah Hassan.L'officier a estimé qu'il ne s'agissait pas d'un crime crapuleux, précisant que rien n'avait été volé dans la maison du couple, située dans le quartier Danadan, dans le sud de la ville."Une grosse somme d'argent a été trouvée ainsi que des objets de valeur", a-t-il indiqué, ajoutant qu'une enquête avait été ouverte pour tenter d'identifier le ou les assassins.Un médecin légiste, le Dr Ahmad Abdallah, qui a examiné les corps, a estimé que le couple avait été assassiné dans la nuit, ajoutant que "la doyenne (avait) été égorgée après avoir été tuée par balle".

Monday, June 21, 2004

Iran has seized three British vessels that came to its waters. The British occupation in Iraq claimed that they were training Iraqis.

There is no indication of any Iraqis on board, as far as the reports go. I do not know why no one is asking "How come there are no Iraqi trainees?"

Maybe the British sail and the Iraqis stand on shore, watching the experts do the job. Training by other means, so to speak!

If you have not read this article, you would not know the level of progress being made in "certain places" in Iraq. It turned out that Bechtel is living up to some of its contracts after all. There is no excuse for Bechtel-o-phobics and anti-Halliburtonites, like Shirin, anymore!

Iraqi oil is flowing again, but my family's home phone is still out-of-service.

A Kuwaiti court sentenced a policeman for 15 years in prison and two others for 10 years each for forcing a servant from the Philppines to perform oral sex in November 2003 (Arabic text).

In other news, the court that is prosecuting three soldiers (I thought they were seven) just decided that it "will give the defense access to the military chain of command including Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, the head of U.S.-led forces in Iraq, and General John Abizaid, the region's commander, according to a statement on today's pre-trial hearings released by the coalition command in Baghdad."

"The soldiers, Specialist Charles Graner and Staff Sergeant Javal Davis, are facing courts martial on charges of mistreating and sexually humiliating Iraqi detainees at the Baghdad prison. A hearing for a third soldier, Staff Sergeant Ivan Frederick, was postponed to July 23 to give his lawyer time to reach Iraq."

A whole month to reach Iraq? Why? Is the guy going to Iraq on foot?

Sunday, June 20, 2004

"Israeli military and intelligence operatives are active in Kurdish areas of Iran, Syria and Iraq, providing training for commando units and running covert operations that could further destabilise the entire region, according to a report in the New Yorker magazine," cited by the Guardian.

If it becomes clear to other Iraqis, this is certainly going to be a deal breaker that will set the relations with the Kurds decades backwards. As the article indicates, the Israeli support for the Kurds is "Machiavellian." It is foolish to choose this kind of support over a possible honest relation with their fellow Iraqis. We must remember that the good will for the Kurds among the Iraqi Arabs is more than great.

It is disturbing that the Kurdish leadership still thinks and acts in the same style they did during the Saddam era.

If you listen to them or read their literature or even watch their action on the ground, you see a lot of the Israeli methods. Here are only a few examples:

1. They are creating facts on the ground and hoping that when time everything is normalized in Iraq (if ever), it would be very hard to undo these facts (Israeli method par excellence).

2. They are using the memory of the atrocities of Saddam's regime against their people in trying to punish their fellow Iraqis. It is the same method used by the Zionists to silence their critics.

3. Their constant claims that they are America's "best friends" is hardly different than those of Israel, and cerainly for the same purpose.

4. They only took the Palestinian language in referring to the Arabs in Kerkuk - they call the "settlers", which is the same language used to describe the Zionists in Gaza and the West Bank. This nasty word even made its way to the recent letter to G.W. Bush, written by Talibani and Barzani.

I have not been able to contact my family by phone for almost a month now. So I asked a friend to ask a friend to ask a friend to ask my family about what is going on. Well, the last friend is my family's neighbor and he could not be contacted. So my attempt failed.

Two days ago, I got a call at 4:00 a.m. from someone I don't know who said that he was calling from Jordan abd that my family asked him to tell me that they were OK. Their phone cabin has been damaged when the fighting in Kufa began and no one cared to fix it and no one seems to be inclined to do so in the near future. So thousands of people will remain without phone service for a long time (it takes a few hours to fix it normally).

I say this because it seems that some jobs are done immediately in Iraq, while others just get neglected forever. Take for example this story:

"Oil was again flowing in southern Iraq Sunday after crews completed key repairs on a pipeline sabotaged by insurgents, an oil company official said."

The pipeline was damaged on Wednesday and was fixed in a record time. While things like electricity and phones take a record time delay. There is no problem to keep Iraqis in the killing heat of the summer, but it would be a great setback if oil does not flow out (we are not sure if any money flows in though). Those who asked questions about oil revenue found themselves out of the puppet government.

Meanwhile, we still hear the line that "electricity was restored to pre-war levels". So proud they are that they perform exactly like Saddam's regime in providing some services.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

The bitter fruits of mishandling the Abu Ghraib scandal. The Bush administration still has the nerve to ask for "the exemption of American soldiers from international prosecution."

Kofi Annan "appealed for the second consecutive day to council members to oppose the resolution, distributing a memo at their monthly luncheon on Friday. He said the measure undermined international law and sent an 'unfortunate signal any time -- but particularly at this time.'" Even if the undecided (Pakistan and Algeria) go along, there will be one vote needed.

The position of the U.S. government is very awkward. If the U.S. ratifies the treaty, its soldiers would be tried only if the U.S. does not prosecute them. That's why European governments ratified the treaty.

Friday, June 18, 2004

It has been reported that Arafat is willing to give up the right of return on behalf of the majority of Palestinian refugees. He is allegedly prepared to accept a small number (maybe 30,000 refugees) to be allowed to return to their homes that were stolen in 1948.

I don't know how "Abu Ammar" is going to do it -- lottery maybe?

The UN resolution #194 gives the right of return for all refugees who wish to do so. Not being able to exercise the right, because the world has no shame anymore, does not mean that the right does not exist. And, to my knowledge, none of the refugees gave Arafat or anyone else the power to surrender their rights.

Text of UN Resolution 194 relevant to Refugees, 11 December 1948:

"11. Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;

Instructs the Conciliation Commission to facilitate the repatriation, resettlement and economic and social rehabilitation of the refugees and the payment of compensation, and to maintain close relations with the Director of the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees and, through him, with the appropriate organs and agencies of the United Nations."

Thursday, June 17, 2004

I am amazed by the popularity of my translations from Ali al-Wardi's Lamahat Ijtima'iyyah min Tarikh al-'Iraq al-Hadith (Glimpses of the Modern History of Iraq). Although they are not polished and I do them faster than I run, I try to be very loyal to the original text. Here is another gift:

"It was natural that the people of Basra were divided into two factions, concerning British Occupation [in 1914-1921]. One faction accepted it, while another was angry with it. Those who benefited from the Occupation must have accepted it in a certain way. Among these were the merchants, contractors, workers, and the owners of property and orchards. They reaped huge profits, more than they ever dreamed of before, and they began comparing between the Turks and the British. The former used to confiscate property without compensation, while the latter bought them for high prices.
There are also those who always receive any new government with a welcoming tone and flatter it and try to draw near it. The commons call this group 'the people of robes'. Their notoriety has come from their association with the rulers. Whenever a coup takes place, they do the same with the new regime. The got used to this behavior that they find no shame in it. Indeed, they take pride in what they do.
When General Barrett came to Basra accompanied by his political advisor, Sir Percy Cox, many of the notables of Basra came out to welcome them and congratulate them on the victory. They pretended to be joyful and showed their admiration for British justice and began to pray to Allah the Exalted to keep the flag of Great Britain always flying over their heads. On the first day of December 1915, six Basran notables sent a message to King George V, greeting him on the New Year and showing their gratitude to him for bringing them under the protection of British flag.
This phenomenon was not exclusive for the notables of Basra. Indeed, many of the tribal chiefs near Basra did this too. Ms. [Gertrude] Bell mentioned that the first person to contact them was Shaykh Ibrahim, the chief of the al-Zubayr village. AL-Zubayr was one of the markets where the Beduins used to gather. Therefore, the guest-house (diwan) of Shaykh Ibrahim was the place for the stories about the political affairs of the Beduin tribes. The British took advantage of this because Shaykh Ibrahim became an informant for Sir Percy Cox, telling him the news about these tribes.
Also, one of the famous Shaykhs who cooperated with the British was Shaykh Gbashi al-Sa'ad, chief of the Nihairat village near al-Qurnah. This man was among the first people to contact the British and corresponde with them since the fall of Basra. When the British reached his village they admired him because of his eloquence and attractive personality...He told them about some interesting stories and myths about the local history and informed them about the local traditions. He became their favored companion and they liked his conversations and asked for his advice about the problems that concerned social issues in his area.
The same was done by Haj Adhar, chief of al-Harthah village that is situated between Basra and al-Qurnah. This man had participated in the battle of Kut on the side of the Turks and was wounded and taken POW by the British. Initially, the British wanted to send him to India with other POW's, but Shaykh Khaz'al interceded on his behalf and they released him. Then he began to draw near the British and finally received a job in their service, being the first tribal chief to enter the employment of the British administration in Iraq.
Contrary to that faction that sympathized with the British, we find the other faction that was angry with them. It is represented by the clergy and their followers from the pious and the laity, especially those who did not accumulate money during that period. These viewed the Occupation as a cause for destruction of the religion and corruption for the ethos. The habits of the British and their social traditions excited their wrath and they considered them a cause for dire consequences for religion and life together. Wilson once said that the majority of the Basra residents did not have good will towards us; they had nostalgia for the Turks and they detested our victory over them. They rejected our ways and detested our habits which are strange to them. For example, the naked legs of our of our soldiers used to excite their wrath and disgust.
In other words, the Basran society witnessed a huge social and economic change. Sulayman Faydhi described this in his memoirs saying:
'The change of rule from the hands of Turks to the hands of the British caused essential changes in people's lives and in the social and political values of the individuals. That is to say, the British occupation of Basra represented a decisive change in all aspect of life in the city. When I returned to the city, much of its characteristics have changed. A new class of merchants and contractors and notables have emerged. They exaggerated in welcoming the occupiers and tied their interests with the occupiers' interests. While, on the other hand, the resistance to the colonizer came from those who stayed away from the colonizer and held themselves above going out of their way to please him.'"

26 ex-U.S. diplomats urge Bush's ouster:

"A group of 26 retired U.S. diplomats and military officers said Wednesday that President Bush should be voted out of office in November for damaging U.S. national security interests and America's standing in the international community."

The Bush administration dismissed them as a group of partisans who like Kerry. Indeed, some are, but others did work for Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

There is no evidence that the two monsters had any collaborative relationship, said the 9/11 Commission.

"The US commission investigating the September 11 attacks reported yesterday it had found no evidence that Iraq and al-Qaida cooperated in the plot or had any sort of 'collaborative relationship', bluntly contradicting persistent White House claims...The commission's report confirmed the judgment of US intelligence officials, who have said that since the fall of Baghdad last April no proof has been found of a significant link between the Saddam Hussein regime and Osama bin Laden.

[V]ice [P]resident Dick Cheney, revived the allegation at an election campaign appearance on Monday, telling supporters that Saddam 'had long-established ties with al-Qaida', and President George Bush came to his defence on Tuesday, citing the suspected presence in Iraq before the war of an al-Qaida supporter, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

A poll by the University of Maryland in April found that 57% of Americans believed that Iraq helped al-Qaida before the war, and 20% believed Iraq was linked to the September 11 attacks."

My esteemed reader, Ron (I appreciate all my readers), claimed that this website has a few lies. I asked him to identify them and he came up with the following (again, I thank him for taking the time and post my validation to each one):

"For these self-appointed protectors of the "civilized-world", it is not torture unless the guy has kidney failure or unless he dies, according to this 50-page memo."

This is not a lie. It is in the 50-page memo. Indeed, if you, Ron, read the first pages of that infamous memo, you would find exactly this argument. You owe me an apology for this one.

"many people in the administration, including the big boss, say they do not read the papers."

FOX News, not an ultra liberal or an anti-Bush agency, had this to say: "Bush reiterated that he doesn't read newspapers and prefers getting the news -- without opinion, he said -- from White House chief of staff Andrew Card and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice."

"Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers, said they had not read an investigative report on the" Abu Ghraib prison crimes. "Rumsfeld said yesterday he had seen a summary and recommendations from the investigation. Bush has yet to read it." Mr. Rumsfeld also told reporters: "I've stopped reading newspapers." Another apology is due, Ron!

"Everyone is guilty, but only a few (if any) will face justice."

This is an opinion. It cannot be described as a lie (basics of logic). I based it on the trials of leaders in the past. It is not accepted as defense to say I did not know about what others under my command are doing. The U.S. tried and convicted a Japanese general after WWII, rejecting his claim that he did not know what was going on on the ground. In this mess, one does not have to torture people with his own hands to be considered "guilty". The principle must apply to all, not just to the Japanese,Ron! A third apology is due.

"According to copies leaked to several newspapers, they lay out a shocking and immoral set of justifications for torture."

You do not have to take my word for it. Read the memos. The Administration did not say they are not authentic. They claimed that it was a theory that was not put in practice, despite the photos of the "practice." Also, please read this article by Anne Applebaum in today's Washington Post. In the same issue of the post, the leading editorial article has this to say:

"President Bush and his spokesmen shamefully cling to the myth that the guards were rogues acting on their own. Yet over the past month we have learned that much of what the guards did -- from threatening prisoners with dogs, to stripping them naked, to forcing them to wear women's underwear -- had been practiced at U.S. military prisons elsewhere in the world. Moreover, most of these techniques were sanctioned by senior U.S. officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the Iraqi theater command under Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez. Many were imported to Iraq by another senior officer, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller." How about a 4th apology?

"Iyad Allawi has only 23% support in this poll."

This is on the CPA official website, page 15 of the 48-page poll. Please take the time to see these slides, they are telling. And when you see them, Ron, remember to apologize for the fifth time. You owe it to yourself before you owe it to me and other readers.

"For some time now, I've been trying to find out where my son goes after choir practice. He simply refuses to tell me. He says it's no business of mine where he goes after choir practice and it's a free country...So I'm going to round up all the children in the neighbourhood, chain them and set dogs on them. I might accidentally kill one or two - but I won't have intended to - and perhaps I'll take some photos of my wife standing on the dead bodies, and then I'll show the photos to the other kids, and finally, perhaps, I might get to find out where my son goes after choir practice," Writes Terry Jones.

In a poll paid for by the Occupation:

"Ninety-two percent of the Iraqis said they considered coalition troops occupiers, while just 2 percent called them liberators."

Another shocking result: "54 percent said they believed all Americans behave like the guards."

Of course it is absurd to believe that "all Americans behave like the guards." But it does not matter, because that is, sadly, the impression that will remain in the minds of Iraqis for generations to come (remember my translations from Ali al-Wardi?) The bad behavior of many soldiers and the gross mishandling of the problems in Iraq at the top levels have poisoned any possible relations between the new Iraq and the U.S.

And to show how representative the new Iraqi government is: The Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi has only 23% support in this poll.

The report indicates that these numbers are similar to those found in a Gallup poll and an Oxford poll.

It is very hard to make a Middle Easterner laugh these days, with all the gloomy conditions on the ground: out-of-control dictators, insane extremists, imperialist interventions, etc..

However, there are certain words and phrases that can still perform this miracle. One of them is the phrase "a road map." Whenever such a "map" is proposed, one can be certain that the objective is to confuse, rather than to clarify.

After the discredited "Road Map" to Palestinian sovereignty, Paul Wolfowitz has written a column titled: "The Road Map for a Sovereign Iraq". I kid you not.

To be fair: the article was written for an American audience (Wall Street Journal), where the phrase still makes some sense. But it is so amazing that some "brilliant" person at the CPA (Bremer's Agency which is going to turn into a Negroponte enterprise in 14 days) decided to put it on the website for Iraqis to read it and sleep well, knowing that Mr. Wolfowitz has spent many sleepless nights drafting a "road map" for their sovereignty.

These are the consequences of living behind high walls - they only think they can communicate with the people on the other side.

This business of kidnapping is turning into an ugly nightmare. It is clearly against the teaching of Islam and the principles of common decency. Muslim scholars and clergy must hold a large conference and denounce this practice. With the exception of few extremists, all Muslims are offended by this desecration of their religion by those who claim to belong to this religion.

The Islamic teaching is clear:

"Whoever kills a person [lit., a life], who had not murdered or committed corruption on earth, is as if he killed all humans." (Qur'an, 5:32)

"And kill not the life, which Allah had protected, save with justice. And whoso is killed unjustly, We have given power to his heir, but let him not commit excess in killing. He is helped." (Qur'an, 17: 33)

According to the teaching of Islam, under no circumstances an individual is allowed to set his own freelance court and begin executing people. The exception, in the above verses, that allows for taking away the life of a murderer is reserved for the state. Private courts were part of the practice of the "Jahiliyyah" (pre-Islamic way of life). One of Islam's main concerns was to put a stop to such behavior.

There is no other guiding principle that can be cited in this context. So it is clear that these terrorists are implementing a law that has nothing to do with Islam.

Monday, June 14, 2004

You have to admit this, when it comes to speaking about VP Cheney: He never changes his story, even when the whole world finds out that it is absolutely false. He actually said today "Saddam Hussein had 'long-established ties' with al Qaida, an assertion that has been repeatedly challenged by some policy experts and lawmakers."

He also "listed what he described as the accomplishments of the Bush administration in the war on terror, including fledgling democracies in Afghanistan and Iraq."

Afghanistan, may I remind you, has a snow-ball's chance in Hell for being democratic, so long as Karzai and the war lords are in charge. Hec, the Guardian just reported that "elections in Afghanistan seem certain to be delayed for a second time."

As to Iraq: we all saw how democratic the process has been. Indeed, it was too democratic to be true!

A little, but meaningful anecdote from Ali al-Wardi's Lamahat Ijtima'iyyah min Tarikh al-'Iraq al-Hadith (Glimpses of the Modern History of Iraq): (my translation)

The anti-British resistence that was carried out in Iraq during the [First World] War had great influence in Iran. The influence of the edicts (fatwas) of the clerics [in Iraq] calling for Jihad must have extended to Iran. In their turn, the Germans spent a great deal of efforts and money to spread the call for Jihad in that country. Indeed, they spread rumers among the people of Iran that the entire population of Germany had converted to Islam and the Ruler of Germany had converted to Islam as well and changed his name to "Haj William".

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Iyad Allawi gave his approval to considering foreign soldiers above the law in Iraq. He needs them to protect him and his appointed government. But this was not enough, it seems. Now he is being pressured to make foreign contractors also above the law in Iraq (tourists will be next).

Please do not confuse contractors who are seeking this status with ordinary construction workers and agricultural engineers. You see, these guys are not likely to be involved in torture and murder and rape. So they should not demand immunity against Iraqi laws.

"Contractors" in this context is a euphemism for mercenaries and crooked-suit-wearing-thieves who are about to flood Iraq and take care of the next phase of the occupation.

This is a stupid idea, I believe, and even Allawi should not go that low in bowing down. It will not be good for foreigners as well. Those who are not ready to obey the Iraqi laws against murder, torture, and rape should not go to Iraq in the first place.

Under Saddam's regime, Iraqis used to be treated like dirt by his thugs who used to shoot first and verify later. They were also immune against prosecution. Having foreigners above the law in Iraq will send a message to Iraqis that the only way to get justice is to take the law into their own hands. This should not be the way to go. As such proposal teaches non-Iraqis the feeling of contempt to the population, it will also create an ugly wave of xenophobia among Iraqis (much more than what the images of Abu Ghraib have already created). It is not fun to feel that you are considered inferior in your own country.

I will translate more of Ali al-Wardi to illustrate this point.

As certain people try to cover their behinds, they have to uncover other people's behinds in the process.

"Beginning in November, a small unit of interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison began reporting allegations of prisoner abuse, including the beatings of five blindfolded Iraqi generals, in internal documents sent to senior officers, according to interviews with military personnel who worked in the prison."

"We were reporting it long before this mess came out," The NY Times quotes one of the military intelligence soldiers.

Le général Sanchez, commandant des forces terrestres de la coalition en Irak, a laissé des officiers supérieurs à Abou Ghraib "utiliser des chiens militaires, des températures extrêmes, des privations sensorielles, des changements de rythme de sommeil et des régimes à l'eau et au pain dès qu'ils l'estimaient nécessaire.

Full text of memo presented by lawyers to Mr. Gonzales, Counsel to the President, on the matter of what "tourture" is.

"...certain acts may be cruel, inhuman, or degrading, but still not produce pain and suffering of the requisite intensity to fall within Section 2340A's proscription against torture."

For these self-appointed protectors of the "civilized-world", it is not torture unless the guy has kidney failure or unless he dies, according to this 50-page memo.

If this is how civilized people think and act, then how do the uncivilized one think? It is not enough to say "we are civilized" (Mr. Bush says it in every speech). One has to think and act in a civilized manner.

The assassination of the cultural affairs officer for the Education Ministry, Mr. Kamal al-Jarah, is another sign of the mad situation in Iraq.

The terrorists who assassinated him are not immediately identifiable. The New York Times said that the Iraqi "Foreign Ministry blamed loyalists of Saddam Hussein for the killing."

This sounds dandy and convincing to those who cannot read Arabic. But if you are able to read that hard-to-learn language, you would read in the daily newspaper, az-Zaman that Mr. al-Jarrah was in the re-Ba'athification "committee that just re-instated 12,000 Ba'athist teachers to their jobs."

Of course, this CAN NOT be an EXCUSE for these terrorists to assassinate him. My point is that it is against common sense to accuse Saddam loyalists (Ba'athists) to kill him. They are supposed to want more people like him in government. Don't you think?

Saturday, June 12, 2004

More flawed information was given to the American people.

The State Department’s annual report on terrorism mistakenly reported a worldwide decline when both the number of incidents and the toll in victims had actually increased sharply, the agency said Thursday."

Department spokesman Richard Boucher: "We got the wrong data and did not check it enough...Our preliminary results indicate that the figures for the number of attacks and casualties will be up sharply from what was published...Errors crept in and, frankly, we did not catch them"

Why didn't they check it? It should have looked conterfactual from the beginning. Anyone who reads the papers or watches TV can tell that terrorism is unfortunately on the rise, not on the decline (many people in the administration, including the big boss, say they do not read the papers).

Tony Blair is about to be the next arrogant leader to be kicked out of office because he failed to respect the will of the voters. Democracy stinks when the leader is a dictator at heart.

Blair's Labour was pushed to a humiliating third-place in the local elections, for the first time in living memory. If this is not enough, some of his own party began to prepare themselves psychologically for the idea of loosing the general elections.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. 61% of those polled by LA Times did not believe that any progress is made in Iraq. 53% say the war was not worth it, considering the facts on the ground. "Three-fifths said Mr Bush's Iraq policies had hurt America's image abroad."

Everybody seems to be excited about the so-called endorsement for the new Iraqi government by Muqtada al-Sadr. Here is what he said:

"We accept the interim government if it rejects the occupation and sets a timeframe for its withdrawal."

But this is an impossible condition for Allawi to fulfill. Allawi loves the idea of having 130,000 American soldiers to protect him against the likes of Muqtada for an indefinite amount of time. That's the good news. Bad news is that the longer they stay, the longer and longer and longer Allawi will need them.

Friday, June 11, 2004

More of my quick – but brilliant – translations of Ali al-Wardi's Lamahat Ijtima'iyyah min Tarikh al-'Iraq al-Hadith (Glimpses of the Modern History of Iraq): They are my free gift to the prudent reader.

"In June 1919, Wilson himself went to Karbala to visit [Ayatullah Muhammed Taqi] al-Shirazi in his home. Wilson knew Persian, so he used it to speak with al-Shirazi. The first issue he spoke about was the position of the Kiliedar (custodian) of [the shrines in] Samarra. Wilson asked al-Shirazi to nominate a Shi’i to replace the current Kiliedar, who was Sunni. It seemed as if he was trying to appease al-Shirazi with this move, but al-Shirazi did not give him the opportunity. He replied: ‘There is no difference, as far as I am concerned, between a Shi’i and a Sunni. Furthermore, the current Kiliedar is a kind man and I disagree with letting him go'...Then Wilson alluded to the fighting in the southern parts of Iran between British forces and some Iranian tribes, asking al-Shirazi to issue a ruling (fatwa) to stop the fighting and to stop the bloodshed. Al-Shirazi said: ‘It is not up to me to issue a fatwa about something I have no full knowledge about, especially when these tribes have a government that knows more about the environment ant its conditions.’ At that point, Wilson departed with absolute disappointment.
The British realized that they could not influence al-Shirazi in any way. Therefore, they hated him and defamed him harshly. In his memoirs, Wilson described al-Shirazi as a simple priest with a mood inclined toward deceiving himself and the world, like Pope Leo IX, and that he often does, in the name of religion and piety, things very remote from the essence of religion. On 11 June 1919, Wilson sent a letter to London describing al-Shirazi in the following manner: ‘The chief Mujtahid in Karbala, Merza Muhammed Taqi al-Shirazi, is a very old man, who lost his intellectual faculties, and he is surrounded by a gang of money-lovers who have no honor. They try to gain money before his death…and they work against the British.’
Ms. [Gertrude] Bell followed Wilson’s footsteps in defaming al-Shirazi. She described him as an old man who fell under the control of his older son, Merza Muhammed Ridha, in all affairs. She claimed that Merza Muhammed Ridha was on the payroll of the Turks and that he had no religious credientials, other than his status with his father that made of him a high clergyman. Ms. Bell also claimed that the name of al-Shirazi’s son was mentioned in a message sent by the Belshoviks in Rasht [an Iranian city], indicating that he works for the Bolshevik movement in Karbala."

Thursday, June 10, 2004

"Reagan Was the Butcher of My People:" Father Miguel D'Escoto Speaks From Nicaragua (thanks Merry for the French version):

"The 8 years Reagan was in office represented one of the most bloody eras in the history of the Western hemisphere, as Washington funneled money, weapons and other supplies to right wing death squads. And the death toll was staggering - more than 70,000 political killings in El Salvador, more than 100,000 in Guatemala, 30,000 killed in the contra war in Nicaragua. In Washington, the forces carrying out the violence were called 'freedom fighters.' This is how Ronald Reagan described the Contras in Nicaragua: 'They are our brothers, these freedom fighters and we owe them our help. They are the moral equal of our founding fathers.'"

Jacques Chirac:

"Il n'est pas de formule démocratique toute faite qu'on pourrait transposer d'un pays à l'autre. La démocratie n'est pas une méthode mais une culture."

"La réforme ne se décrète pas de l'extérieur. Elle s'accomplit à l'intérieur. Et les valeurs imposées ne s'assimilent jamais. Elles gardent le goût de l'humiliation...les pays du Moyen-Orient et d'Afrique du Nord n'ont pas besoin de missionnaires de la démocratie...Soyons prêts à aider. Mais veillons à ne pas provoquer."

"Jacques Chirac conditionne la réussite du plan d'action du G8 au Proche-Orient et en Afrique du Nord à la mise en place d'un 'partenariat authentique, fondé sur le pragmatisme, le respect, la confiance et le dialogue'".

"Nous devons prendre la mesure des ressentiments et des frustrations qu'engendre - d'un bout à l'autre du monde arabe - le spectacle quotidien de la violence et des humiliations dans des lieux aussi chargés d'histoire et de symboles."

Everyone is guilty, but only a few (if any) will face justice:

"According to press reports, military doctors and nurses who examined prisoners at Abu Ghraib treated swollen genitals, prescribed painkillers, stitched wounds, and recorded evidence of the abuses going on around them. Under international law — as well as the standards of common decency — these medical professionals had a duty to tell those in power what they saw.
Instead, too often, they returned the victims of torture to the custody of their victimizers. Rather than putting a stop to torture, they tacitly abetted it, by patching up victims and staying silent...
When guards and interrogators become torturers, doctors are first responders. International law demands that they act as such. In Iraq, it appears, a 'don't ask, don't tell' ethic stood in the way. By staying silent for months, until an inquest began, doctors and nurses abandoned their patients. But these doctors and nurses probably saw enough to offer smoking-gun evidence of what went awry at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. It is time for us to ask and them to tell."

There is another group of people that have to be asked many hard questions: translators and interpretors. I am glad that a group of "[h]uman rights lawyers took the unusual step of filing a racketeering lawsuit Wednesday against U.S. civilian contractors who worked at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. The suit alleges contractors conspired to execute, rape and torture prisoners during interrogations to boost profits from military payments...The suit seeks payments for the alleged victims and a ban on future government contracts for Titan Corp. of San Diego and CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Va., whose employees worked as government interrogators and translators"

These people, many of whom -- I am ashamed to say -- are Arab-Americans or U.S. residents of an Arab origin -- decided to remain silent and/or participate in this behavior to keep their dream jobs. I sometimes see Titan advertisements calling for people to joing their team. Another company offers $80,000 + other things as a start salary. No degree or good past employment is required; only passing a test in Arabic and English and, of course, a U.S. government background check.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Part of the rationale for Mr. Bush's war on Iraq was to "prevent Weapons of Mass Destruction from falling in the wrong hands." Well, the war resulted in a WML (Wave of Mass Looting) that caused some problematic components of Saddam's weapons to fall in every hand you can imagine.

After an earlier discovery of "Al Samoud 2 engine in a scrap yard in the Dutch port of Rotterdam," It was found out that [20 other] engines from banned Iraqi missiles were found in a Jordanian scrap yard along with other equipment that could be used for weapons of mass destruction," according to U.N. officials.

Some people will say, "it is the fault of looters." Yes, looters are criminals. But those who stormed into Iraq, as if there would be no tomorrow, and did not prepare for the obvious should also be held at fault.

Jordan loves to get anything looted from Iraq for pennies, and from the Occupation side of the border: "The only controls at the borders are for the weight of the scrap metal, and to check whether there are any explosive or radioactive materials within the scrap."

Does this war seem to you about WMD's? Why are they so sanguine about hunting down those who steal oil, but not missile engines?

You are the "leader of the free world". You can torture people in the name of freedom and get away with it, lawyers told someone to tell the President. However, they said that Cheney could not order any form of torture, because he is technically not the leader of the free world, although he is a de facto one.

"This week, thanks again to an independent press, we have begun to learn the deeply disturbing truth about the legal opinions that the Pentagon and the Justice Department seek to keep secret. According to copies leaked to several newspapers, they lay out a shocking and immoral set of justifications for torture. In a paper prepared last year under the direction of the Defense Department's chief counsel, and first disclosed by the Wall Street Journal, the president of the United States was declared empowered to disregard U.S. and international law and order the torture of foreign prisoners."

What was the title of the movie that has the line, "No lawyer will ever enter Paradise so long as there's room for one in Hell"?

"Artists Express Iraqis' Anger
Baghdad Exhibit Reflects Belief That Iraqi Women Were Raped in Abu Ghraib

"[Qasim] Sabti and other Baghdad artists for the first time have begun to speak out, through their art, about the scandal at Abu Ghraib and, more generally, about the 13-month U.S. occupation of their country. Judging by an exhibition by 25 Iraqi artists at Sabti's Dialogue Gallery in a middle-class neighborhood of northern Baghdad, they have formed a very unflattering idea of the American soldiers and civilian administrators sent here to get rid of Saddam Hussein and make a better Iraq."

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

"Both Mr. Talabani and Mr. Barzani are willing to listen to anybody but Kurdish people and they are willing to sign any agreement with anyone except each other. They are willing to bring Iraqi army back to Kurdistan as they did 1996, and to bring Turkish or Iranian army to Kurdistan as they did in the past. They are willing to do anything as long as they will be in power," writes Mr. Ata Norie, in anger after the U.N. Did not agree to mention the infamous TAL in its resolution.

In a letter to President Bush, signed by both Kurdish party heads, they said:

"America has no better friend than the people of Iraqi Kurdistan. A year ago, our peshmerga forces fought side by side with the American forces for the liberation of Iraq, taking more casualties than any other US ally. Today, Kurdistan remains the only secure and stable part of Iraq. We note that, in contrast to the Arab areas of Iraq, no coalition soldier has been killed in the area controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government." The letter then goes on and on about how they love and "admire [Bush's] confident leadership, [Bush's] vision of a free Iraq, and [Bush's] personal courage," but they indicated that they were very dissappointed with Bush's double-crossing.

It is not a bad timing to remind you about an article I wrote in January about the Kurdish plight in Iraq.

Text of the U.N. Resolution on Iraq.

"The Security Council...
Decides that the multinational force shall have the authority to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security and stability in Iraq in accordance with the letters annexed to this resolution expressing, inter alia, the Iraqi request for the continued presence of the multinational force and setting out its tasks, including by preventing and deterring terrorism, so that, inter alia, the United Nations can fulfil its role in assisting the Iraqi people as outlined in paragraph seven above and the Iraqi people can implement freely and without intimidation the timetable and program for the political process and benefit from reconstruction and rehabilitation activities."

"The resolution makes no mention of the Transitional Administration Law, which will serve as Iraq's temporary constitution after the new interim government takes power on June 30 and until a new constitution is written and approved in a referendum late next year." This seems to be a decisive victory for Grand Ayatullah Ali Sistani and the tens of thousands who went to the streets in the hours before the final draft was made.

Here is how history is written for the coming generations (occupiers' point of view becomes a footnote):

'Ali al-Wardi's Lamahat Ijtima'iyyah min Tarikh al-'Iraq al-Hadith (Glimpses of the Modern History of Iraq). My translation.

"Bombing of the Kufa Mosque:
British planes continued to bomb the revolutionaries in Kufa and around it throughout the time of its siege. On 24 July [1920], one of the planes dropped three bombs on the Grand Mosque of Kufa, which was full of people, a significant number of whom were killed.
The first bomb fell on a stage (dakkah) called the Stage of Justice, because people believe that Imam Ali used to sit on it to judge among the people; therefore people gather around it and seek blessings. A bomb fell there and hit 23 people, including women and children.
The second bomb fell on a corner of the exterior wall and destroyed part of it, but hurt no one. And the third bomb fell outside the mosque, in the beginning of the road that leads to the al-Sahla Mosque, hitting two women and turning them into small pieces.

Revolution leaders published in the al-Furat newspaper a press release directed to the world, condemning this barbaric act. They sent copies of the press release to the consulates of foreign countries in Baghdad and to their embassies in Tehran.

The British felt the repugnance of what they did, so they published in the al-Iraq newspaper [on 7 August 1920] an official release saying:

'news came a few days ago, on the authority of a trustworthy source, that the Mosque of Ali in Kufa was used by the rebellious Shaykhs as a center for their activities. As the planes were flying over Kufa, they received fire from the Mosque. The planes returned the fire, not knowing it was a mosque and dropped their bombs near it.
Anyway, even if this mosque or others were used by the rebels for military purposes, orders have been issued that no bombs be dropped, even if they were used as centers to fire against our soldiers and planes.'" (Vol. 5, pp. 323-24)

Grand Ayatullah Ali Sistani sent a letter to the U.N. "warning against giving legitimacy to the Transitional Administative Law (TAL) that was passed in March, by mentioning it in the new U.N. resolution."

He said that it was "a law that was drafted bu an unelected Counsil, under the Occupation and influenced by it... The Iraqi people will reject such attempt, which would be contrary to its will."

Monday, June 07, 2004

Bush Seeks Support for Middle East Policies at G8 Summit

How do you expect their reaction to him asking everyone: "Imagine if all the Middle East becomes like Iraq and Afghanistan today!"

Afghanistan has the highest opium growing in the world now, after the Taliban's reduction of it to a virtually zero level. And Iraq has the highest rate of terrorism in the world now after Saddam reduced it to a virtually zero level.

Mr. Bush can't even out-perform these rotten, dictatorial, oppressive, criminal, anti-democratic regimes on two of the most horrific problems in the world, drugs and terrorism.

It is not too late to do the right thing in both countries, if the administration really wants to play a positive role. But with Negroponte in the U.N., and soon in Iraq, a miracle is a must.

That's how some prosecutors win cases: they prosecute the case on the basis of a lie of a witness, get the suspect convicted, and weeks or months after the trial is over, they send a document to the defense attorney, which might help the defendent get aquitted.

We want all terrorists to face justice, if possible, but for God's sake, do it right. The good news is that the prosecutor is being investigated.

I was on Al-Aalam TV this evening. Sorry for not giving advance notice to those of you who watch it. They were interested in what I had to say about the not-so-new U.N resolution on Iraq.

I believe that it is a mask to hide the occupation behind a new name, "incomplete sovereignty". Remember that the rights of the Arab people have been lost for decades in the rosy language of U.N. resolutions. One can provide a long list of resolutions that were fashioned after the legal style of "The Animal Farm."

A bad resolution that does not guarantee true independence of Iraq in the "very near" future is a guarantee of a violent revolution in Iraq in a matter of years. We do not want this. Iraq has seen a lot of blood already. The 1958 coup was made possible by a few British planes and a couple of engineers stationed in the middle of nowhere in Iraq and a proposed treaty. "It is the [symbolism], stupid!"

Some of you e-mailed me asking why I did not say anything about Reagan's Death.

There is an Arabic expression that says: "Remember the virtues of your deceased ones". I do not have any good words to say about him, so I'd rather not say any negative things, at least for now. I did not dislike one or two of his movies, though. So "there we go..." I did adhere to the Arabic expression.

OK. It turned out that the capture of Muqtada and putting him on trial was not urgent anyway. So all the rhetoric and shouting and screaming and fighting to establish the rule of law in Iraq was really not for real. Instead, we have damaged mosques, innocent men/women/children/even-animals killed; and a poisoned Shi'i memory that will remain for generations to come, because of the damage to the Shrine of Imam Ali, and the Grand Mosque of Kufa, and the historic al-Sahla Mosque as well as other holy places.

Oh, please don't tell me that it was the fighters' fault that these places were damaged. It does not matter in the years to come. People will recall that it was the Occupation that did the damage. And if capturing Muqtada could wait, as it seems now to be the idea, then Bremer's assault on him was just another unnecessary fight at an outrageously high cost to both sides. Will we see someone asked some hard questions? No, because we will be busy following the news about yet another unnecessary fight. It broke my heart today to see a one-year-old baby being placed in a coffin. It was an adult's coffin, so it was impossible not to see how senseless this particular death was (although any violent death is senseless anyway).

Don't forget to watch Muqtada's sermon in Kufa this Friday! Although I watch them, I find his sermons crude, boring and very predictable. The only speeches that bore me more are those of the Vice President.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Why did 'Ajil al-Yawar (father of current Iraqi President) join the 1920 revolution against the British?

More of Ali al-Wardi's Lamahat Ijtima'iyyah min Tarikh al-'Iraq al-Hadith (Glimpses of the Modern History of Iraq). My translation:

"Ms. [Gertrude] Bell mentions that Colonel Leachman also insulted Ajil al-Yawar, shaykh of the Shammar tribe. This caused Shaykh Ajil to join the revolution against the British, after having been loyal to them. Ms. Bell wrote in a letter dated on 21 August 1921 -- a year after the Revolution -- saying that Ajil al-Yawar visited her several times. One day she asked him about the reason behind his joining the Revolution. His answer was that it had to do with Leachman's insult to him. He told her how Leachman summoned him to his office in Musol and when he wanted to speak, Leachman ordered him to shut up, saying to him that he looked like a woman, and that he (i.e. Leachman) was not going to acknowledge his being the chief of the tribe. Then Ajil told Ms. Bell: 'Khatoun, I am an Arab shaykh. I returned to my tribe. What else could I have done?' Ms. Bell's comment on his answer was: 'I believed what he said. That was Leachman indeed.'" (vol. V, p. 32)

Saturday, June 05, 2004

By the time this war is over (if ever) we will learn that there have been thousands of "isolated" incidents of abuse (AKA war crimes) in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are 16 more incidents, all deemed "isolated".

Friday, June 04, 2004

In response to a request by Dr. Sadick Alsadir I prepared this translation from Ali al-Wardi's Lamahat Ijtima'iyyah min Tarikh al-'Iraq al-Hadith (Glimpses of the Modern History of Iraq):

"Sayyid Muhammed al-Sadr was distinguished among his clergy colleagues in that he was a warrier who carried weapons and he was a first-rate shooter. When he came to Dyala region, he did not stay in one place, but continued to move from a place to another. He obtained a huge mule, taken from the British, and he called it 'Marmaries'. He used it in his tours around the region.
In fact, the looks of Sayyid Muhammed -- dignified figure, sharp eyes, and a big black turban -- had a great effect in spreading the revolutionary message in the villages of Dyala. Rumers spread in these villages about his courage and unlimited strength. One of these rumers was that he carried in his arm a hoopoo's [bird] bone to protect him against bullets. Another rumer was that he could bring down a plane by moving his turban. It is said that the people in the Huwaidir village truely believed in the authenticity of these rumers, but this belief went away from their hearts when planes came to their village while he was there and they dropped bombs and killed some mules and people.
Sayyid Muhammed did not stop his activity in Dyala alone, but also went to the tribes close to Samarra and managed to unite them and made them attack Samarra...then he came back to Deltawa [near Dyala]. Abd Ali Mahdi told us about him when he returned to Deltawa:
'I will not forget his act in the home of Shaykh Habib al-Khalisi when the planes came in the morning and dropped plenty of bombs. He [i.e. Sayyid Muhammed al-Sadr] used to come out to the courtyard of the house with his British rifle in his hands and face the plane's machine gun, greeting bombs with bullets without any fear or reluctance.'
On 25 September [1920], the forces of Britain attacked Deltawa and many people left, including al-Sadr...
He crossed the Tigris, swimming, near Balad [near Samarra]. He took refuge at Shaykh Hatem al-Hadhdhal, head of Tamim tribe; then he went to Shaykh al-Shallal in the Yousufiyya, then to Karbala..."

"This fundamentalist interpretation of Islam has failed to penetrate the thinking of most Muslims, especially in recent times. But religious hard-liners can drive the political agenda in Muslim countries, just as Christian and Jewish fundamentalists have become a force to reckon with in secular nations such as the United States. And with over 1 billion Muslims around the globe, the swelling of the fundamentalist ranks poses serious problems for the West. If only 1 percent of the world’s Muslims accept uncompromising theology, and 10 percent of that 1 percent decide to commit themselves to a radical agenda, the recruitment pool for al Qaeda comes to 1 million," writes Husain Haqqani in Foreign Affairs (merci Merry!)

The plan for elections in Iraq:

"Carina Perelli, a United Nations elections expert sent to Iraq to oversee the process, named a seven-member Independent Electoral Commission and a chief elections officer who will lay the groundwork for the ballot over the coming seven months...
Following a popular European model, Iraq's elections will be held on the basis of proportional representation, a method that favours small parties and should make the ballot more inclusive.
Parties will be able to present a list of candidates, as few as 12 or as many as 275 -- the number of national assembly seats to be filled via the poll -- and seats will be assigned on the basis of the number of votes received, going down the list.
Perelli said that looking at Iraq's population of around 26 million and normal voter participation, a party or person would have to win some 26-27,000 votes to earn a seat in the assembly.
As well as political parties, special interest groups will be allowed to present lists, or candidates can run on an individual ticket. To stand for election, a candidate must file a 500-signature petition with the electoral commission.
On any list, every third name must be a woman to ensure that at least 25 percent of seats in the assembly go to women, a stipulation made in Iraq's interim constitution, agreed earlier this year.
Voter rolls have yet to be drawn up, but Perelli said the commission would build them by auditing Iraq's ration-card system, a comprehensive database used to distribute food while Iraq was under sanctions.
Troops from the 150,000-strong U.S.-led coalition and Iraqi security forces will provide security for the poll, a huge task as up to 30,000 voting stations will have to be set up to enable everyone to vote.
Perelli said the United Nations would encourage the electoral commission to ask for international observers for the election, though the U.N., having helped organise the poll, would not be involved in observing it.
The U.N. has named Carlos Valenzuela, a former U.N. chief elections officer in East Timor, as its adviser to Iraq's electoral commission over the coming seven months, Perelli said."

Thursday, June 03, 2004

More from Ali al-Wardi's Lamahat Ijtima'iyyah min Tarikh al-'Iraq al-Hadith (Glimpses of the Modern History of Iraq): (my translation)

"The men in the patriotic movement in Baghdad and Karbala did not intend in the beginning to carry out an armed revolution against the British [in 1920]. Indeed, their intention was geared toward peaceful demands that the British keep their promises in granting them freedom and independence. The idea of an armed revolution was in fact appealing only to some tribal Shaykhs in the Middle Euphrates area, especially al-Mishkhab (near Najaf). They were the first to call for it, and their appeal was being gradually answered, and the result was the first spark of the Revolution in Rumaithah (Near Samawa)...
Jafar al-Khalili says: 'The late Sayyid M. Ridha al-Safi met Sayyid 'Alwan al-Yasiri in Abu Skhair (near Najaf)...and found Sayyid 'Alwan about to explode from anger. The reason was that he saw first-hand how the British administrator of Abu Skhair humiliated one of the noblemen and kicked him out of his place with insults. Sayyid 'Alwan left the place in great anger...they agreed to meet in Najaf later to arrange for a plan to get rid of the British...'
[The meeting in Najaf took place and] was reported in the memoirs of Muhammed Amin al-Safi, the brother of Sayyid M. Ridha al-Safi, who must've heard about it from his brother:
'...Sayyid 'Alwan came to Najaf and went to the house of Sayyid M. Ridha and they decided to expand the group and contact those who can be fit for the task. The first man they chose was the cleric Abdulkarim al-Jaza'iri, who was invited to Sayyid M. Ridha's house and a meeting took place. After debating all aspects of the situation, Shaykh Abdulkarim agreed with them. That was how the idea took root and, in the beginning, there were peaceful demands, then violence and bloodshed and the Revolution...'
We don't know about the exact date of the meeting between al-Yasiri and al-Safi, but I believe that it was in the spring of 1919." (selected from: vol V, pp. 113-117)

The decree of Ayatullah Ali Sistani about the new government in Iraq. (Arabic text)

He simply says that the government is not legitimate, because it did not come through free and fair elections. However, he says that it can earn legitimacy through its future actions. Four areas are good places to start:

1. Obtaining a U.N. resolution that grants Iraqis full sovereignty - political, ecomonic, military, and security. Also, it must work to remove all traces of Occupation.

2. Providing security all over Iraq and ending criminality and organized lawlessness.

3. Providing services to Iraqis and reducing their unnecessary daily suffering.

4. Preparing well for the general elections in order to establish a national assembly that is not governed by the laws that were created under the occupation, including the Transitional Administrative Law.

"George Tenet Resigns As Director of CIA"

It was a personal decision and had only one basis in fact: the well being of my wonderful family, nothing more and nothing less".

For those unfamiliar with American politics, almost everyone who has been forced out of office by any means has cited the "need to spend more time with the family." Indeed, there is the expression that "the 1974 elections made more Republican family-men than anything else." (the was the election immediately following Nixon's downfall).

Tenet also mentioned that he needs to go to "high school!" Let's hope that he is going to be a role model for Bush, making him announce a desire to go to kindergarden in November. Although he said it with a sense of humor, Tenet is right. Washington needs a lot of re-education.

President Bush said that he only knew about the resignation last night, yet he accepted it immediately. Could this be true?

George W. Bush says that the suicide bombers in Iraq are terrorists, but those who resist the Occupation are not. They just can't endure being occupied. (Arabic text)

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

"Allegations of sexual assault in the U.S. Army have climbed steadily over the past five years, and the problem has been abetted by weak prevention efforts, slow investigations, inadequate field reporting and poor managerial oversight, according to internal Army data and a new report from an Army task force. The May 27 report, sparked by complaints from women's groups and female lawmakers about an apparent increase in reported assaults against U.S. servicewomen in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Here is an idea about these "isolated" incidents:

"According to the data, the total number of reported cases of sexual assault involving Army personnel increased by 19 percent from 1999 to 2002 -- from 658 to 783, with annual increases ranging from 2 percent to 13 percent. During the same period, the number of reported rapes increased by 25 percent -- from 356 to 445, according to the data."

"I don’t think he’d mind my saying this: Bremer is the dictator of Iraq. He has the money, he has the signature," said Brahimi. Also, on one of the members of the hand-picked Governing Council (now gone) was quoted by al-Aalam TV as saying that Bremer acts the same way Saddam did.

Some people say that there is something in Iraq that gives rise to dictators. True! It is the lack of a decent system. America does not have a politician who acts like Saddam because there is the U.S. Constitution and the tradition of adherence to its rules. Take almost any American politician and place him in Iraq (or elsewhere), where the U.S. Constitution does not apply and you will have a Saddam incarnate. That is why defending the Constitution in this country should be considered a moral and/or a religious duty for everyone. If not that, at least it should be done for self-serving purposes.

Update: Here is the interview with Mahmoud Uthman:

"C'est incroyable ! Inacceptable ! Paul Bremer nous a menacé d'un troisième candidat qu'il sortirait de son chapeau. Il se conduit comme Saddam Hussein. Quant à Lakhdar Brahimi, il a carrément dit à Massoud Barzani (chef du PDK, Parti démocratique kurde) que si nous continuions d'insister pour avoir Ghazi Al-Yaouar, que nous avons choisi par 22 voix contre une, celle de son adversaire Adnan Pachachi, il arrêterait net sa mission et rentrerait à New York."

One of the best books on the history of modern Iraq (maybe the best) is Ali al-Wardi's, Lamahat Ijtima'iyyah min Tarikh al-'Iraq al-Hadith (Glimpses of the Modern History of Iraq). It is a seven-volume work (350pp. in each volume). To my knowledge, no English translation was made of this book. Therefore, it is safe to say that no one in the Bush administration has access to it. It is also not on the radar-screen of the "experts". I see some of them (the ones who knew a thing or two about Iraq before 1991) refer to the study by Hanna Batatu, The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq, ( a good book but less important than al-Wardi's and falls in one volume, total of 1283pp.). Never heard any reference to the "Lamahat" by anyone in the U.S.; they all read Batatu's book, or parts of it, because it is in English.

I will try to provide some parts (my translation). This way, when you visit my site, you will get your money's worth. I will start with parts where history seems to be relevant to the current affairs -- which is almost the entire book!

Please note that I am providing an impromptu translation (like an interpreter's job). It is accurate, however.

"During the period after the [1920] Revolution, many of the British, especially those in the military, still carried strong hatred for the revolutionaries. Because their minds were full of what they were told about the images of the exaggerated atrocities and about the brutality of the revolutionaries against the soldiers and officers who fell in their captivity. Therefore, we saw them practice emotional revenge that indicated their desire to get even. Sati' al-Husari recalls in his memoirs that he was in a meeting that included some British officials in 1921, when one of them revealed what was in his heart and began defending the troops who took revenge upon the revolutionaries in excessive ways, saying with some strange zeal: 'We have to excuse these [soldiers and officers] because they saw the atrocities which the revolutionaries committed...they slaughtered some British officers like sheep. They mutilated their feet and hands and chopped them into pieces. We found more than ten bodies in this catastrophic state. We tried to hide this; we did not say that the Arabs fight in this manner. We told their families -- he meant the families of the British casualties -- that we gave them a dignified burial with all the ceremonies. But some people discvered what happened, or saw it. So, when you see them behave with this brutality, you must not be surprised.' Then he added, 'They revolted against us..attacked us..we fought them..we defeated them. Nevertheless, we see them now being proud as if they are saying: 'We won.' This is intolerable.'
The military did not stop at what they did to the revolutionaries -- brutal killings -- but they also destroyed and burnt their villages. Ja'far al-Khalili recalls in his memoirs what he saw first-hand during the final days of the Revolution. He says: 'Fires from the scorched villages were seen, from the roofs of homes in Najaf, for days. The hill in the Mishraq neighborhood (in Najaf), that was known as 'al-Jabal' (the mountain) became a place where people came and stayed for a long time until midnight to watch the fires that British soldiers started in the homes, farms, and storage rooms of farmers. A spectator could see them like raging volcanos whose fires raged forever.'
Still, it seems that all of this was not enough to satisfy the wrath of some, and it seems that they wanted to destroy the areas of the revolutionaries completely. Ms. [Gertrude] Bell wrote on 12 September 1920 saying: 'The good General [H.] had lunch with me days ago and presented an excellent idea; that we must destroy the areas of the Revolution completely.' Ms. Bell indicated that she did not agree with his idea because the lands in some of the revolting areas did not belong to the revolutionaries, but they were the properties of Baghdadis -- among them was al-Naqib and one of the highly respected Jews..." (vol. V, pp. 179-80)

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?