Monday, August 30, 2004

What are the odds that pure coincidence had the timing of presidential elections in Afghanistan only three weeks before the U.S. presidential elections?

Politicians' Hermeneutics

"I don't think you can win [the war on terror]. But I think you can create conditions so that the - those who use terror as a tool are less acceptable in parts of the world." George W. Bush

"After months of listening to the Republicans base their campaign on their singular ability to win the war on terror, the president now says we can't win the war on terrorism...This is no time to declare defeat - it won't be easy and it won't be quick, but we have a comprehensive long-term plan to make America safer. And that's a difference." John Edwards

"He was talking about winning it in the conventional sense ... about how this is a different kind of war and we face an unconventional enemy." White House spokesman Scott McClellan

"George Bush admitted yesterday the war on terror could not be won." Julian Borger of the Guardian.

"It was unclear if Mr. Bush had meant to make the remark to Mr. Lauer, or if he misspoke." New York Times

"That's what he was talking about. It requires a generational commitment to win this war on terrorism." Scott McClellan

"Mr. Bush's comment reflected both foreign policy and political realities, and appeared intended in part to emphasize that even a striking breakthrough, like the capture of Osama bin Laden, would not by itself assure the nation's security." Analysts.

"From the start it's been clear that we're dealing with an ideological struggle that affects a region, and not just a single movement or group," Anthony Cordesman

"We'll see an end to global terrorism...It may seem very difficult and a long way off. It may even seem idealistic to say that. But it may not be as far away and as idealistic as it seems." Rudolph W. Giuliani

"A neo-Ba'athist dressing down in Najaf

despite the talk of democracy, Iraq's interim government shares many of the same authoritarian traits as its predecessor.
The new police force is very like the old one. The same Ba'athist instincts - to threaten and intimidate people who cause you embarrassment - appear to be alive and well.
Many of the rank-and-file police officers who served under Saddam Hussein are now back in uniform."

Saturday, August 28, 2004

My article in this week's issue of Al-Ahram Weekly can be read here.

I wrote the article three days before the come-back of Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani to Iraq. This article is very timely for those who want to figure out what is going on in the Shi'a community. Enjoy this paragraph and go to the link for the full text.

"Those young and energetic men who are being driven to the rank and file of Al-Sadr movement are sending a message to the grand Ayatollahs that time has come to set aside the discourse over ablution and purity and types of water, and start paying attention to the affairs that matter in a world that is moving at the speed of light. It is no longer acceptable for a leader to hand down two written lines and remain aloof from the masses. Unlike their counterparts in Iran, Lebanon, and elsewhere, the Ayatollahs of the Iraqi Hawza have been unapproachable for decades. This is not a viable method to lead a crowd so used to demystifying its icons and role models."

Friday, August 27, 2004

"Près de 36 millions d'Américains vivent sous le seuil de pauvreté," according to Le Monde.

"Pour la troisième année consécutive, le nombre d'Américains vivant dans la pauvreté et sans couverture sociale a augmenté en 2003. Selon les chiffres officiels publiés, jeudi 26 août, par le Census Bureau américain (service du recensement), le taux officiel de la population américaine vivant dans la pauvreté est passé de 12,1 % en 2002 à 12,5 % en 2003, faisant basculer 1,3 million de personnes supplémentaires dans l'extrême précarité. Au total, ce sont 35,9 millions d'Américains qui vivent désormais dans la pauvreté. Le taux de pauvreté a augmenté tous les ans depuis 2000 où il atteignait 11,3 %, proche de son plus bas niveau historique de 11,1 % atteint en 1973.
Les plus touchées sont les femmes dont les revenus ont, pour la première fois, décliné depuis 1999, et les enfants. A la fin de 2003, les enfants étaient 12,9 millions à vivre dans la pauvreté. Ils représentent désormais 17,6 % du total (contre 16,7 % en 2002)."

"Henry Kissinger gave Argentina's military junta the green light to suppress political opposition at the start of the 'dirty war' in 1976, telling the country's foreign minister: 'If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly,' according to newly-declassified documents published yesterday."

When you win a "swift victory", the people you liberate will turn against you. This is the last theory on the genesis of the resistence in Iraq, brought to you by President Bush.

The President, however, has acknowledged for the first time ever that "he had miscalculated post-war conditions in Iraq."

And talking about taking Americans for granted:

"Mr. Bush said that Americans will re-elect him to a second term even if they disagree with his decision to invade Iraq."

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

"If you're waiting around for evidence of the phone call from Donald Rumsfeld to Pfc. Lynndie England - the one where he orders the "code red," instructing her to pile up a bunch of naked, hooded men and strike a queen-of-the-mountain pose - you'll wait forever. That's not how armies function. Armies depend on the realities of the chain of command and the cha-cha of plausible deniability."

Yet another report is out and no smoking gun, writes DAHLIA LITHWICK in the New York Times.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani is on his way to Najaf. He asked for a march by his followers. It seems that his return is the greatest blow to the puppets in Baghdad, who were so sanguine about getting their opponents from Najaf, even if they must destroy the whole city. But if they think a little, the will find that he is going to save them from their own arrogance. He is also going to save his legacy from the perceptions that he escaped from the town and gave Allawi a chance to do as he pleases.

We shall see.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The madness in Najaf goes on. As I have said many times, this is a war without winners. No matter who is at fault, history will remember that the government chose to violate the holy shrine in order to save its own pride.

As to Muqtada al-Sadr: he will be remembered like Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr who, 1400 years ago, staged a stand-off in Mecca and had the mosque destroyed by the Umayyads who killed him in cold blood. Al-Sadr should have made his great-grandfather, Imam Hussein, as a model. The Imam refused to fight in Mecca or Medina. He went to the desert of Karbala and was killed, but his principles changed the history of Islam.

I still have some hope in a solution. Iraq cannot afford the blood of another al-Sadr or the destruction of another shrine.

Iraq's Olympic soccer coach said Monday his side should not be seen as a symbol of freedom, taking issue with a campaign commercial for President Bush.

The flags of Iraq and Afghanistan appear in a commercial as part of Bush's drive for re-election in November. A narrator says: "At this Olympics there will be two more free nations -- and two fewer terrorist regimes."

But coach Adnan Hamad said Iraq, still plagued by violence daily, remained a country under occupation.

"You cannot speak about a team that represents freedom. We do not have freedom in Iraq, we have an occupying force. This is one of our most miserable times," he said.

"Freedom is just a word for the media. We are living in hard times, under occupation." (thanks, Shirin)

Sunday, August 22, 2004

"Three US senators have called on US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to account for 8.8 billion dollars entrusted to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq earlier this year but now gone missing."

"The loss was uncovered in an audit by the CPA's inspector general. It has not yet been released publicly and was initially reported on the website of journalist and retired US Army Col David Hackworth...The report says that in one case some 8,000 guards were listed on a payroll but only 603 real individuals could be counted.
'Such enormous discrepancies raise very serious questions about potential fraud, waste and abuse,' added the letter."

"In June, British charity Christian Aid said at least 20 billion dollars in oil revenues and other Iraqi funds intended to rebuild the country have disappeared from banks administered by the CPA."

I was asked to lead the Friday Prayer this week. I reluctantly do this once in every long while, when no one else is available. This is not what I want to say here, but I wanted to mention that, as part of the speech, I asked the people to contribute in any way they can for the victims of the storms in Florida. It is one way, I said, to say "thank you" for the contributions of Americans from all walks of life to the victims of the earthquake in Southern Iran a few months ago. There is a collective effort by Muslim mosques all over the U.S. to do this. We do this as Muslims, as Americans, and as humans. If you find any articles in the media about this, please forward a link to me!!

Of course, I am not looking for articles as a way to seek praise. Helping others in this situation is a duty. I am just trying to see if there is any interest in the media about positive things Mosques often do.

Well...The Iraqis have done it again. 1 - 0 is all they needed to qualify for the semi-finals. And now they are one win away from a guaranteed silver medal and 2 wins away from the gold.

As far as I am concerned, they are as good as gold winners at this stage. However, I was not very happy seeing them playing defensively today. They should have attacked more and scored more goals. Their second half's extra caution gave the Australians more room to threaten Noor Sabri, the man who saved the day five times at least. He certainly deserves to be called the "co-star" of the game, sharing that with the wonderful Imad Muhammed. Another reason the team was not in its best appearance was the untenable absence of Nash'at Akram. When this guy plays, Iraq seems to have 15 players in the field. I hope that he will be there in the next game.

Be that as it may, these guys deserve every inch of their journey. What was written in the media, by surprised reporters, is misleading. They did not get where they are by chance. They eliminated strong and well-funded teams and qualified to go to Athens. Once there, they did the same so far.

As to their game with Morocco: this is what all smart teams do. Adnan Hamad knew that his team qualified to the next round, so he gave his strong players some rest and also avoided the risk of injury or yellow cards that might get them out of the game with Australia. Sometimes, you win by losing.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Iraqi soccer players angered by Bush campaign ads. (thanks Shirin, xyz, and Nadia)

They are right. Those who prepared the ads should be ashamed of themselves claiming any credit for the achievements of these guys. U.S. soldiers took their training stadium (mal'ab al-Sha'ab) and made it a military base. They are also the most underfunded team in the region. It is their achievement and Mr. Bush must not cheapen it with his campaign politics. Also, Iraqi soccer is not the invention of the occupation. Iraq had won many regional and international titles in the past decades.

"Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, said in unusually candid terms Thursday that administration efforts to win hearts and minds in the Muslim world had fallen well short of their targets."

I wonder why!!!

Her solution is more propaganda: "more money needed to be spent on Arabic-language broadcasts and other means of reaching Muslim opinion."

Here is what she needs to know:
1. Only a small portion of Muslims speak Arabic.
2. Only a few, and decreasing, are those who read, watch, or listen to U.S. propaganda in the Muslim World. What is needed is not "more money" to talk the Muslims into adoring U.S. bad foreign policy. What is needed is a change of a foreign policy that failed and continues to fail. But don't count on this. Simply because it means that the prophets who plan U.S. foreign policy must admit failure -- something prophets never do.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

"Iraq's national conference finally chose the country's first post-Saddam assembly last night>"

Here is what happened:

1. There was no election whatsoever. It was one list of names prepared by the government. Take it or leave it! Not much different from Saddam's elections which he always won by 99.99% (he won the last one by 100%).

2. There were 19 members of the Governing Council imposed and no one could do anything about it (the members who did not get a job in the new government). They did not get the post through election, for some reason.

3. Virtually, all Iraqis who are not cheering the occupation and its man, Allawi, were excluded -- one way or another, inside or outside the conference.

It is a process that left all democracy theorists rolling in their graves, and those who are still alive, wanting to die so they can also roll in their graves.

A Republican Representative's last song:

"A top Republican congressman has broken from his party in the final days of his House career, saying he believes the U.S. military assault on Iraq was unjustified and the situation there has deteriorated into 'a dangerous, costly mess.'
'I've reached the conclusion, retrospectively, now that the inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed, that all things being considered, it was a mistake to launch that military action,' Rep. Doug Bereuter wrote in a letter to his constituents."

"From the beginning of the conflict, it was doubtful that we for long would be seen as liberators, but instead increasingly as an occupying force...Now we are immersed in a dangerous, costly mess, and there is no easy and quick way to end our responsibilities in Iraq without creating bigger future problems in the region and, in general, in the Muslim world,'' he said.

Now we know the way to have Republican members of Congress see what this man saw. Send them home in November.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

One rule of campaign propaganda is this: Do not attack your opponent on the basis of issues you are not good at. For example, Bob Dole in 1996 did not make Clinton's marriage problems a campaign issue, because Dole himself had a bad record too.

Now it is interesting that Bush and Cheney are attacking Kerry (whom I do not support, by the way) on his war record. You might recall that Mr. Bush can prove that he got paid by the National Guard, but he cannot prove that he showed up. As to Mr. Cheney: here is how one Senator puts it:

"[Senator] Harkin said he had seen clips of the vice president saying in Iowa last week that Kerry lacks a basic understanding of the war on terrorism...
'It just outrages me that someone who got five deferments during Vietnam and said he had 'other priorities' at that time would say that.'"

He then went on to accuse the vice president of something that I cannot repeat here. I do not want to violate my own rules on personal insults.

Monday, August 16, 2004

My remarks in the San Francisco Chronicle. A little editing has been done to what I said, but with good faith -- it seems.

Some analysts who follow Iraqi Shiite politics say that despite al-Sadr's militancy, there is plenty of room for reaching a deal.

"If you go down the list of Muqtada al-Sadr's demands, none of these demands are absolutely nonnegotiable," said Abbas Kadhim, a Najaf native who is a lecturer in Islamic studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and is pursuing a doctorate in Near Eastern affairs at UC Berkeley.

"They are not ones that the government cannot accept; nonnegotiable would be departure of Americans from Iraq within a week. He's asking the foreign troops to pull out of Najaf, and his people should receive an amnesty. And on the government's side, it's easier than last time (in April). They're now saying they are not planning on arresting Muqtada -- unlike the showdown in April, when (now-departed U.S. administrator Paul) Bremer was demanding his arrest.

"There is a possibility for a deal, but both sides have to act outside the realm of their own arrogance. It's not negotiating over Jerusalem here; it's really an innocuous problem."

Earlier this month, al-Sadr's supporters rejected the interim government's offer of one position on the council, calling it insufficient.

Kadhim says U.S. and Iraqi officials have made a strategic mistake in not giving significant representation to al-Sadr. "Muqtada is not just Muqtada -- he represents the energetic youth of Iraq, the downtrodden, those who were hurt first-hand by the former regime and who feel like they're getting no benefit from the new situation. These are a very large number of people. You can't wage war against all of them."

City of defiance:

"They came from across Iraq, marching in solidarity with Shia brothers. Civilians ­ they bear no arms, for the moment anyway ­ who are willing die on the steps of the Imam Ali shrine. Thehuman shields have arrived in Najaf."

That is, ladies and gentlemen, how one can make a weak enemy stronger. Most of these people are coming to protect their sacred sites with their unarmed bodies. The result is giving Muqtada more joiners.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The long-awaited national conference began. Its proceedings came at the same time with a full-scale invasion of Najaf is being planned. It is hard to tell, which event is meant to steal the cameras from the other. Although the government in Najaf took care of this, sort of, by explling the journalists from the city - Israeli style.

"In many ways, the scene seemed like a metaphor for America's problems in Iraq,..." writes John Burns of the New York Times, who followed the event through a skillful interpreter.

My esteemed reader, Salwa, e-mailed me a few questions regarding my position on some political issues. Although many are addressed on this site and in my writing elsewhere. I am happy to address them again:

The war on Iraq.
I was against it from day one, as I was against the Sanctions. I simply could not agree with starving the people of Iraq, which is what the Sanctions allowed Saddam to do, nor with destroying the country through invasion.

The CPA and the occupation of Iraq before June 28, 2004.
I did not support that as well. I liked to see an election very shortly after the collapse of the regime. Even if it were to be imperfect election, it would still be more legitimate than an occupation or a government appointed by the occupation. It would be very hard to challenge an elected government, but it is very easy to challenge the occupation and its puppets.

The government of Iyad Allawi.
Iyad Allawi has a past that puts him next to Saddam in this world and in the hereafter. His rise to power represents the counterpart of the 1968 coup that brought the Ba'ath to power again. It is what I called: re-Ba'athification of Iraq. He and his friends are the "Team B" for the Ba'ath Party. This is becoming clear every day. I was watching an interview with Dr. al-Basri, who is the head of an NGO defending the rights of Saddam's victims (he was one of the most prominent among them). He said that this government re-hired obscene numbers of Ba'athists and Saddam officers, while paid the victims lip service only. They are still following a directive by Paul Bremer denying employment to political prisoners from Saddam's time, he said.

Muqtada al-Sadr.
I do not support Muqtada al-Sadr and would not vote for him if he runs for any office. I often said that when Muqtada al-Sadr wins this only means that his rivals are losers (or loosers!). However, I do have tremendous respect for the family of al-Sadr and especially Muhammed Baqir and Muhammed Sadiq al-Sadr. As to the followers of Muqtada, I do not see in them any signs of brilliance. All of them, without exception, do not even speak standard Arabic well enough to qualify for the turbans they wear.

The Kidnappings and car bombs.
These represent pure terrorism. They are also very alien to Iraq and Iraqis. All of this terror was imported (or exported) to Iraq because of the open-border policy that was maintained by the occupation in the months after the invasion.

What now?
Elections and withdrawal of foreign troops. The sooner the better.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

The so-called peace talks collapsed in Najaf. Meanwhile, Scores dead in latest Iraq violence.

Whatever the circumstances, this is a war without winners. Al-Sadr fighters cannot achieve a military victory in the face of a better equipped U.S force. On the other hand, the attacking forces cannot achieve their objectives without inflicting a lot of death and destruction in the sacred city of Najaf. This can have one result: more resentment that will certainly render any military victory obsolete.

If this war is about inflicting death and destruction, then it is decisively won. If, however, it is a fight for "the hearts and minds of Iraqis," then it was lost.

But who cares! Vice President Cheney has made it clear that the administration does not believe in a "sensitive war". The message to Iraqis in Najaf is simple: if you do not love our puppets, we will not only bomb you, we will even bomb your ancestors in their graves (literally).

Thursday, August 12, 2004

My new article in today's issue of the Ahram Weekly.

Here are two paragraphs:

"At this point, the Al-Sadr movement has many elements in its favour, the absence of Al-Sistani from the scene being one. For a long time Al-Sistani constituted an impediment to Al-Sadr's ability to assert his authority. The Grand Ayatollah is not likely to leave his hospital bed to pull any strings in the coming days. Politically, the government of Allawi is not gaining any popularity for two main reasons: firstly because of heavy-handed policies -- curfews and clampdowns have alienated many people without making a significant difference on the security front. Secondly, the government has not succeeded in distinguishing itself in any practical way from the regime that was in place before it took charge. This failure to gain popularity is not only affecting the government. All the individuals and groups who have or have had any involvement in its inception and composition are implicated in its shortcomings. They can neither criticise the monster they created nor do anything to make it look better.

Contrary to their previous expectations, the interim government -- or privileged clique -- has garnered little sympathy at grassroots level. Meanwhile, angry young men have no meaningful occupation or even the hope of gainful employment in the near future. Thus they join the ranks of Al-Sadr, not because of his charm but simply because they have been shunned by all others. The leadership of the Shia community must travel the only path towards claiming a wider constituency and a complete return to the people. Failing to do so deprives the people of Iraq of any true alternative to the otherwise untenable support for Moqtada Al-Sadr. They must also realise that calling on the Americans to bomb holy cities on their behalf is not the way to garner support and cultivate favour ahead of future elections."

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Guest Comment: Shirin takes the New York Times' editors to task.

This New York Times editorial takes Iraq's American-appointed so-called "interim prime minister" to task for shutting down Al Jazeera's office in Baghdad and in doing so pretends that Allawi is actually in charge (no, the occupation hasn't ended, it has merely been given yet another false face).

The piece also makes it sound as if the American occupiers have promoted freedom of the press there. The NYT editors appear not to have noticed that this closure was announced mere hours after (yet another) a scathing - and false - verbal attack on Al Jazeera by Don Rumsfeld. This is just one more, in a set of amazing coincidences in which an action against Al Jazeera has followed close on the heels of such criticism.

Apparently the NYT editors have not managed to connect the dots. The U.S. military has bombed Al Jazeera offices "by accident" not once, not twice, but three times - once in Afghanistan, twice in Iraq - each time following hard on the heels of a hot and heavy official verbal attack by someone at the level of Rumsfeld or Colin Powell. The last such bombing left the young wife and infant daughter of a prominent Al Jazeera journalist widowed and orphaned respectively. The American-appointed so-called "governing council" repeatedly threatened to close Al Jazeera's offices - always immediately following heavy (and completely unwarranted) accusations against the news organization by the Bush administration. The U.S. military has violently raided Al Jazeera's offices numerous times, and arrested several of its reporters and staff, at least one of whom credibly reported being tortured while he was in U.S. custody.

Let's not delude ourselves. Iyad Allawi doesn't say anything or make any move without orders from or the approval of his masters in the Republican Palace and Washington DC.

At least the editorial writers DID accurately grasp the true reason for the closure. However, the second paragraph should be rewritten to read "it may spare the Bush administration. the embarrassment of having that violence so visible to a worldwide audience. It may also give the Bush administration a freer hand to abuse human rights and pursue personal political goals in the name of restoring law and order."

So who is lying here? It can't be that all are telling the truth. Or, can it be?

"Halliburton and other U.S. contractors are being paid at least $1.9 billion from Iraqi funds under an arrangement set by the U.S.-led occupation authority, according to a review of documents and interviews with government agencies, companies and auditors.
Most of the money is for two controversial deals that originally had been financed with money approved by the U.S. Congress but later shifted to Iraqi funds governed by fewer restrictions and less rigorous oversight.
Officials of the former Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) have said most of the contracts paid from Iraqi money — obtained from sales of Iraqi oil and frozen foreign accounts from Saddam Hussein's regime — went to Iraqi companies, for the benefit of the Iraqi people."

"A TV station ban, 160,000 foreign troops, trumped up charges: is this the free society Iraqis were promised?", wrote Jonathan Freedland.

"They are falling like skittles in a bowling alley. One by one, the arguments for the 2003 invasion of Iraq keep tumbling. First to go was the big one. War was necessary because Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. It turned out there were none. Next was the insistent promise that a US-led conquest of Baghdad would end completely and forever human rights abuses committed in hell-holes such as Abu Ghraib jail. Except we saw the pictures and realised that abuses had continued even in Abu Ghraib itself - albeit under new management.
The last week has sent one more Iraqi ninepin wobbling. It is the hope on which Tony Blair has had to rest his case for war, the hope that Iraq is on its way to becoming a unique entity in the Arab world: an open, democratic society. There may be no WMD and the occupation may be a mess, Blair seems to say, but Iraq will be a democracy - and that alone will make all the pain and bloodshed worthwhile.
Now this justification is looking as shaky as the others. Of course, Iraq wasn't built in a day - and rooting a democracy in soil dried and hardened by decades of dictatorship will be no easy, instant task. The most one can expect are gradual, baby steps in the right direction. But even those are not coming."

Sunday, August 08, 2004

There you have it. No Loyalty Among Thieves!

Iraq Issues Arrest Warrants for Chalabi, Nephew. (thanks Shirin)

I did not like Chalabi when he was a lap-dog for the neocons, and I do not like him now. But his fortunes certainly say volumes on the fate of those who dive, nose first, at the orders of such masters.

I just saw him on TV saying that he is going to fly to Iraq and defend himself.

Meanwhile, I thought that the statement of the judge, Zuhair al-Maliky, is funny, in a sad way. He said:

"They should be arrested and then questioned and then we will evaluate the evidence, and then if there is enough evidence, they will be sent to trial".

I thought that they should first evaluate the evidence then arrest the guys. The way he put it seems that he was told to issue the warrant and evidence will follow.

"It is the language of Goethe, the Brothers Grimm and Bertolt Brecht. But an official attempt to reform German has provoked an unprecedented denunciation of the changes by writers, publishers and literary critics as 'stupid and confusing'".

Languages have their own wisdom. Simplifying them only helps people with simple minds who cannot deal with intellectual hardship. These people should learn a simpler language and Leave German Alone!

"Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi signed a long-awaited amnesty law today that would pardon Iraqis who have played minor roles in the country's 15-month-long insurgency, but not those guilty of killing."

This amnesty is a great sign that Allawi and those who advised him on this matter are worse than we thought, intellectually speaking. I do not see how giving an amnesty that includes not the killers, would end their activity. At best, this will make the "J-walkers" live happy ever-after.

For the record, I do not believe that killers should be pardoned. But I also believe that such amnesty is not going to give Allawi any results in stopping this madness of violence.

Freedom of the Press in Iraq

"THE Iraqi government last night closed down the Baghdad offices of Al-Jazeera after accusing the pan-Arab television station of inciting violence in the war-torn country.
As violent clashes between coalition forces and insurgents loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr continued, Iraq’s interim government ordered the Qatar-based satellite television network to close its Baghdad office for 30 days."

I am not a fan of al-Jazeera, and I do not have it at home (I used to watch it in the past). But it seems that this act is not consistent with the rhetoric. It sounded like Bremer's misguided decision to shut down al-Sadr's newspaper. I know that some people would say that it causes people to act violently and all of the other lines. But I do not think that without al-Jazeera Iraqis will have a nicer image about their lives. To play with the famous expression: one plane bombing the hell out of you is worth 1000 al-Jazeeras. Or to be loyal to the original: one picture out of Abu Ghraib is worth a 1000 words from al-Jazeera.

Despite what some people might think, the media cannot make an ugly face look nicer, and indeed, it cannot make it look uglier either. I'd say, let al-Jazeera stay at the party of the international voeurism in Iraq.

One of the disadvantages of being isolated in a continent by themselves. Australian former diplomats just discovered that they were misled.

"Several Australian former diplomats and defence chiefs have accused the government of misleading Australia over the reasons for going to war in Iraq.
In an open letter, the 43 signatories said the decision was based on false assumptions and deception.
They also said Australia's involvement in the war had raised its profile as a potential target of terrorism."

Were these people on a hunting trip? Every kangaroo in Australia knows for a while now that the Australian government misled its people.

In Iraq, they say: "When the Ox falls down, knives come from everywhere."

"Iraq's top criminal court is investigating allegations that Salem Chalabi, the organizer of the war crimes tribunal against Saddam Hussein, threatened an Iraqi official days before the man was assassinated, sources familiar with the investigation said.
Chalabi, whose uncle is former Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi, has been accused by two individuals of attempting to intimidate Haitham Fadhil, a Finance Ministry official who was investigating the Chalabi family's real estate holdings when he was killed in May.
Salem Chalabi, 41, denied involvement in the slaying and dismissed the allegations as an effort to remove him as executive director of the Iraqi Special Tribunal, which will try top officials of the former regime for alleged crimes against humanity." (Thanks again, Shirin)

"The United States has asked Israel to check the possibility of pumping oil from Iraq to the oil refineries in Haifa. The request came in a telegram last week from a senior Pentagon official to a top Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem."

Thanks, Shirin. But, how is it going to work if Iraq is going to have a democracy, which Mr. Bush has pledged his own ranch for its establishment? Aside from the puppets who invaded Iraq with the rest of the invaders, I don't believe that there are any Iraqis who are willing to have any relations with the Zionist government of Israel. So, I guess, the choice is going to be between a democracy in Iraq and a pipeline to Israel.

"National Infrastructure Minister Yosef Paritzky said yesterday that the port of Haifa is an attractive destination for Iraqi oil and that he plans to discuss this matter with the U.S. secretary of energy during his planned visit to Washington next month. Paritzky added that the plan depends on Jordan's consent and that Jordan would receive a transit fee for allowing the oil to piped through its territory. The minister noted, however, that 'due to pan-Arab concerns, it will be hard for the Jordanians to agree to the flow of Iraqi oil via Jordan and Israel.'"

Yes! It must be "harder" than planting an Israeli Embassy in Amman. As if Jordan has any saying in these matters.

Friday, August 06, 2004

"My point in describing all this bad news is not to be defeatist. It is to set some realistic context for the political debate," wrote PAUL KRUGMAN.

$25 billion more of your own money is marked for running the Occupation of the Sovereign Iraq. Less than this money can solve most our environmental problems, I am told.

For those of you who know more about these matters, What can $25 billion buy us here?

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"Mohamad Ghiath and his wife Yusir were outside the passport office at 5.30am, long before the sun was up. Both are doctors, and, with a small daughter to raise, the thing they most want is to get out of Iraq... He and his wife are not alone. The new Iraqi government started issuing passports as soon as it took sovereignty on June 28, and every day the offices are virtually under siege."

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Memo to Kerry and Bush Why They Resist
The most extravagant idea that can be born in the head of a political thinker is to believe that it suffices for people to enter, weapons in hand, among a foreign people and expect to have its laws and constitution embraced. It is in the nature of things that the progressof Reason is slow and no one loves armed missionaries; the first lessonof nature and prudence is to repulse them as enemies.
One can encourage freedom, never create it by an invading force.
Signed,The Incorruptible, Paris, 1791. (Thanks Shirin)

Not done by the occupation, but it also could not have been done without it!

"Joseph Braude said his visit to Iraq last summer had been as much about reconnecting with his past and visiting the neighborhood where his mother was born, as it had been about getting information to update a book he had written about rebuilding the country.
But the U.S. prosecutor in Brooklyn contends that he returned to New York with much more than research. Braude, who goes on trial soon, faces charges of smuggling three 4,000-year-old cylindrical marble and alabaster stone seals. The relics, decorated with human and animal figures, had been part of a collection at the Iraqi National Museum, which was looted after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003." (Thanks Merry)

Do we know about the bags that hve no obligation to pass by customs. We know that Mr. Bush "took" Saddam's pistol, which belongs to the Iraqis, and proudly displayed it in his office. Do you think that he could have brought "other things" on Air Force One? How about other high officials who went there? Or did U.S. Customs go through their bags like the did to Mr. Braude? These are just questions. But they can't be totally outlandish, knowing what we know.

Monday, August 02, 2004

In the very sovereign Iraq, the Minister of Culture complains that he and his experts are not allowed in the Iraqi archaeological sites.

Babylon (my birth-place) and the most important city in the Iraqi civilization has become a military base. Damage is beyond measure. We already know that many uncivilized soldiers have vandalized many Iraqi sites and their uncivilized leaders spent zero effort to protect the Cradle of Civilization after they destroyed the country. We also know that the past colonization resulted in one of the greatest thefts in history, and a so many museums in the "very-civilized" Europe continue to display what their criminal armies have stolen with pride, as if it were the accomplishments of their own forefathers. They don't even give a discount to Iraqis.

So many concepts have changed, sovereignty is only one.

"Family members in bleachers screamed and waved flags as the reservists marched into a hangar. A giant American flag hung from the rafters, and a military band played patriotic songs."

It turned out that this was the reception for the 372nd Military Police Company that was at the heart of Abu Ghraib Prison scandal.

Capt. Donald J. Reese, the company commander, told reporters, "We've done a lot of really, really good things."

They certainly have done a lot. But whether what they have done was "good", this cannot even be an open question.

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