Thursday, September 30, 2004

I made sure to come home on time to watch the debate. It was very modest, I thought and it gave me one more reason to think that the two party system stinks. Here we are, being reduced to waiting for the winner from these two sorry candidates to be the next president of the United States. Are these the finest out of millions of eligible Americans? Certainly not.

Here is what one paper thought:

"John Kerry regained the initiative in the US presidential race last night with a forceful performance in his first debate with George Bush, occasionally leaving the president scowling and at a loss for words.
Instant-response polls by three major television networks all showed that a large majority of their viewers thought the challenger had won the 90-minute verbal contest at the University of Miami - the first of three debates in the last month of the campaign."

In case you missed it, here is the transcript.

A reader signing under the name "Norseman" posted this comment:

"Actually, the original saying is attributed to Jesus. Asked how one might distinguish between true and false prophets, Jesus said 'By their fruits shall ye know them'. (Matt. 3:15-20) In the name of Allah, 34 children were murdered today in Baghdad."

Unless I am missing something here, Norseman says that because some people did something and they said it is in the name of Allah, that makes the Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, a false prophet.
Going by this flawed logic and gross misreading of the Bible, Jesus (peace be upon him) can also be considered a false prophet because of the Inquisition and many other shameful things done in his name.

Please use the comment section to say Bye to Norseman. He is no longer welcome in this forum. No one is above my rules.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

"Since the American takeover of Afghanistan, the major crops there are now opium, human organs and children," says this chilling article. (Thanks, Merry)

The opium problem is common knowledge. As to the other two shocking claims, I will need Roya's input here. Roya: if you read this please let us know what info you might have.

Iyad Allawi came and told Americans that 14 to 15 out of the 18 provinces in Iraq are "completely safe" and ready for elections as of three days ago. He received more applause than truth-tellers.

Now, the New York Times came up with a study that has this to say:

"Over the past 30 days, more than 2,300 attacks by insurgents have been directed against civilians and military targets in Iraq, in a pattern that sprawls over nearly every major population center outside the Kurdish north, according to comprehensive data compiled by a private security company with access to military intelligence reports and its own network of Iraqi informants. The sweeping geographical reach of the attacks, from Nineveh and Salahuddin Provinces in the northwest to Babylon and Diyala in the center and Basra in the south, suggests a more widespread resistance than the isolated pockets described by Iraqi government officials. The type of attacks ran the gamut: car bombs, time bombs, rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades, small-arms fire, mortar attacks and land mines."

Finally, my family's phone was fixed. I spoke with them directly for the fist time in months. Here is what my father said when I asked him about Kufa and Najaf (from the Arabic):

"Kufa is fine, not much damage. But Najaf has been obliterated. Until now some bodies are under the ruins. No one is allowed in the old city."

Then I asked him about the cemetery:

-"when you stand at the 1920-Revolution monument, you can see the sea of Najaf," he said.

-What about my mother's grave, I asked.

- "Do you have a problem with your ears? All are gone," he said in a stoic tone.

So my mother's grave has been bombed to the ground. One of my dreams was to go to Iraq after 13 years and recite the "Fatiha" by her grave, as I always did after she left me at the age of 11 (she was 25).

Tony Blair apologized for the fraudulent reasons for the war, but declined to apologize for the war.

He is like someone who is told that you did something, which you did not do, slaps you on the face, then comes later to tell you "I apologize for the false information given to me but not for slapping you." You are supposed to be content.

"I can apologise for the information that turned out to be wrong, but I can't, sincerely at least, apologise for removing Saddam. The world is a better place with Saddam in prison not in power," he said.

How about the burning and destruction of Iraq, the death of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, the war crimes, the chaos, the violation of sacred shrines and getting dogs into the mosques? None of this deserves an apology?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

"Three years after the Sept. 11 attacks, more than 120,000 hours of potentially valuable terrorism-related recordings have not yet been translated by linguists at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and computer problems may have led the bureau to systematically erase some Qaeda recordings, according to a declassified summary of a Justice Department investigation that was released on Monday," says the leading article in today's New York Times.

"What good is taping thousands of hours of conversations of intelligence targets in foreign languages if we cannot translate promptly, securely, accurately and efficiently?" asked Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

The latest on Iraqi elections from U.S. officials in the past week:

Elections will be held!
Elections will be imperfect!
Elections will be partial! Some areas may have to wait for next time.
Elections will be...will not be...may be...may not be...be may...be not...be will... be may will...may will...will may...will not may...may not will...probably may not will...possibly will not may... "It's getting worse"..."elections must be held throughout the country, including areas gripped by violence"..."if insurgents prevent Iraqis from voting in some areas, a partial vote would be better than none at all"..."we are succeeding"..."I'm not going to make predictions...I will say that we have a goal that we are trying to reach in cooperation with the government of Iraq, and that's elections throughout Iraq by January 2005"..."it would be up to interim President Ayad Allawi 'to see what the situation is at the end of the year and make a judgment'"..."Nothing is perfect in life. So you have an election that is not quite perfect"...""fantasyland of spin"...and here is my favorite: "I don't think you should read into different phrasings of the same idea differences of opinion or differences of assessment." Gee, I almost was going to make that mistake.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Tony Blair says that he does " accept that there was probably one, as I've said before, one error that was made" in Iraq.

If not for that one -- only one -- error, things would be absolutely "fantabulous" in all parts of Iraq!

If you know of other errors, please use the Comment feature to tell Blair about them.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

There is always a New Khidhir Hamza when you need him before an election, before a war, or whenever necessary. Then he can disappear from the scene.

Mahdi Obeidi is now saying that Iraq's "nuclear program could have been reinstituted at the snap of Saddam Hussein's fingers." Significantly less time than the 45 minutes Tony Blair claimed in his disgraceful report.

One of my readers, Scott, took the liberty to write the following in the Comment section:

"Shirin claims Iraq has a history void of civil war. Abbas claims his 'civil war' was going quite well until the Americans caused its failure. Not wants to see more violence, thinks beheading poor migrant workers from Nepal is righteous and just..."

What I took part in Iraq was a popular uprising against the government of Saddam, not a civil war of ethnic factions and religious sects.

As to your charge that I agreed with beheading of anyone, I will give you to the end of the day to search the archives of this site and my articles in order to present evidence. If not, you are banned from here forever, even when you change ID's.

You see, I took a lot of nonsense from you for months, but this is the last straw.

Update: This was posted in the Comment section. Some have not seen it, so I am putting it in the main page:


It seems that, by "Not" you meant "Not Anonymous" and the sentence was not a continuation for the previous one that described my position. I appreciate your clearing this one [and apologize for misreading it. The word "Not" did not immediately sound like the name of a person.]

But I did not make my post for personal reasons. My post was made for the principle. Whether it was me or Not Anonymous whom you meant, the principle stands. You made a serious charge about someone on this forum and I need the quote to back it up, so that I can correct the wrong you claimed to have happened."

Scott, replied to this saying, inter alia, "(Perhaps I am not coming to the correct logical conclusion, but that is what I percieve to be what he is saying.....)"

I take your word for it, Scott, and kindly ask you not to paraphrase what people say in the future; just quote them -- to be safe.

Friday, September 24, 2004

"My inclination was to support the government and the war until proven wrong, and that only came later, as I realized we could not explain the mission, had no exit strategy, and did not seem to be fighting to win."

Click here to find out who the author of this statement is.

It is not my policy to cite an article from al-Quds al-Arabi, because of the position of its editor, who passes no opportunity to speak with respect about the terrorists and Ba'athists. For him, "if you are against America, you must be right all the time."

Of course, this is nonsense, because there are many occasions when both America and its opponents are wrong, America is right and the opponents are wrong, or America is wrong and the opponents are right.

But this article is funny, in an ironic way. It starts with this line:

"Iraqi defense minister Donald Rumsfeld hinted at the possibility of withdrawing U.S. forces before security is achieved in Iraq..."

"I was wrong to support the Iraq war," says this French man, who can't be a neocon; because neocons will insist that they are right until the Day of Judgment and maybe beyond.

Three more bad apples

"In a growing scandal within a scandal, three more members of the Navy Seals have been charged with abusing Iraqi detainees, two of whom died in American custody in Iraq after they were beaten, Navy officials said Friday. One detainee died at Abu Ghraib prison and the other at an Army base near Mosul."

"[A]ny implication that that place has to be peaceful and perfect before we can reduce coalition and U.S. forces, I think,
would obviously be unwise...Because it's never been peaceful and perfect and it isn't likely to be. It's a tough part of the world," Secretary Rumsfeld finally realized. Some might say, "So much for staying the course." I say it is a message for the puppet Allawi that he can be on his own any time, unless...

Thursday, September 23, 2004

"I stand here today as the prime minister of a country emerging finally from dark ages of violence, aggression, corruption and greed," and entering into post-modern ages of violence, aggression, corruption and greed.

After "limited sovereignty", there comes "limited elections" to have limited democracy in limited areas for a limited time.

Quote of the Month:

"Non-Iraqi people of limited intellect with no knowledge of Iraq still feel qualified to pontificate and to lecture Iraqis about how they should run their affairs. You can imagine how impressed we are."
Not anonymous

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Your taxes at work, or at waste, if you will.

Al-Hurrah, the propaganda TV that was meant to make the people of the Middle East love the U.S. is only watched by 2.7% of Iraqis living in Baghdad, acording to a recent survey reported in az-Zaman newspaper. (Arabic text)

The survey was conducted by the Center for Psycological Research at the University of Baghdad, headed by Dr. Harith al-Asadi, who was commenting on the results.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

"Iraq was to the neocons what Afghanistan was to the Taliban: the one place on Earth where they could force everyone to live by the most literal, unyielding interpretation of their sacred texts. One would think that the bloody results of this experiment would inspire a crisis of faith: in the country where they had absolute free reign, where there was no local government to blame, where economic reforms were introduced at their most shocking and most perfect, they created, instead of a model free market, a failed state no right-thinking investor would touch. And yet the Green Zone neocons and their masters in Washington are no more likely to reexamine their core beliefs than the Taliban mullahs were inclined to search their souls when their Islamic state slid into a debauched Hades of opium and sex slavery. When facts threaten true believers, they simply close their eyes and pray harder."

(Thanks Merry)

From Annan's long overdue speech:

"Those who seek to bestow legitimacy must themselves embody it, and those who invoke international law must themselves submit to it."

"In Iraq we see civilians massacred in cold blood, while relief workers, journalists and other noncombatants are taken hostage and put to death in the most barbarous fashion...At the same time...we have seen Iraqi prisoners disgracefully abused."

"Every nation that proclaims the rule of law at home must respect it abroad. And every nation that insists on it abroad must enforce it at home...Today the rule of law is at risk around the world. Again and again we see laws shamelessly disregarded."

Monday, September 20, 2004

President Bush said that Saddam's torture chambers and rape rooms are no more. He is right. The rotten dictator, Saddam Hussein, had nothing to do with the following, it is President Bush's responsibility par excellence:

"Alazawi is reticent about the question of sexual abuse of Iraqi women but says that neither she nor any of the other women in Abu Ghraib at the time were sexually assaulted by US guards. In his subsequent report into the scandal, however, Major General Antonio Taquba found that at least one US military policemen had raped a female inmate inside Abu Ghraib; a letter smuggled out of the prison by a woman known only as "Noor", containing allegations of rape, was found to be entirely accurate. Other witnesses interviewed by the Guardian have said that US guards "repeatedly" raped a 14-year-old Iraqi girl who was held in the block last year. They also said that guards made several of the women inmates parade naked in front of male prisoners."

(thanks, Roya)

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Fouad Ma'soum, the head of the Iraqi so-called National Assembly, says that Iraqi elections may not be fair and free, but it is better that they are held.

The residents of Baghdad do not agree with al-Sha'lan and al-Alusi about their #1 enemy. Here are the numbers in response to the only question in the survey, "Whom do you think is Iraq's #1 enemy":

Israel 32%
USA 23.2%
Extremist Islamic groups 12.3%
Saddam and his supporters 11.4%
Iran 8.8%
Al-Qa'ida 8%
Al-Zarqawi 4.3%

The poll was taken by the Iraq Research Center (a group of Iraq academics). It was done in August and sample of 1,000 respondents was taken from different places in Baghdad (Sunni, Shi'i, affluent, wretched, etc.)

It contained one question only. The 1,000 Respondents were given the following choices: US, Israel, Iran, Islamic extremist groups, al-Qa'ida, al-Zarqawi, Saddam and his supporters, Saudi, Syria, Jordan, Turkey, or another enemy not indicated.

152 forms were discarded because they checked more than one box. Countries receiving less than 5 votes were not considered.

Muwaffaq al-Ruba'i leaves Baghdad (Iraq that is) and sets out to an unknown destination (reads Iran or London).

Many of the "neo-Iraqis" still prudently keep their non-Iraqi passports and still have houses/apartments where they used to live. None of them counts on the short, middle, or even long-term future. Remember Nuri al-Badran?

"The British Army is to start pulling troops out of Iraq next month despite the deteriorating security situation in much of the country, The Observer has learnt.
The main British combat force in Iraq, about 5,000-strong, will be reduced by around a third by the end of October during a routine rotation of units."

"The UN charter is perfectly clear in permitting force in only two circumstances: the first in self-defence and the second when the security council authorizes action to counter a threat, usually one regarded as imminent. Neither was the case in Iraq."

Thursday, September 16, 2004

My new article in Al-Ahram Weekly:

"This lack of discipline within the Iraqi interim government is not accidental. Indeed, it is the manifestation of a bigger problem: the members of the cabinet consider themselves above the restraints of their respective positions in the government. As the famed Iraqi poet Ali Al-Sharqi described a similar group: "These are people all of whom are heads; have you seen the onion farm?" -- onion bulbs being called "heads" in Iraqi Arabic. After all, their nominal chief, Allawi did not choose them, like all prime ministers do to a certain degree. They were simply imposed upon him, and for all practical purposes, he is unable to dismiss any one of them. Iyad Allawi is stuck with a concoction of personalities that may compose a parliament rather than an executive branch." Read more...

Don't you feel blessed for having the United Nations around?

18 months later and tens of thousands of innocent people already dead, then you have the United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, declare:

"I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view [the invasion of Iraq] was illegal."

So what now? Is he going to present a resolution to the Security Council asking hold Mr. Bush and his allies accountable for an "illegal war"?

OK, forget the SC; how about the general Assembly where there is no veto?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Some of you asked about my take on the removal of Al-Ruba'i. This is a textbook Saddamist practice (shouldn't be a surprise when it comes from his colleague Allawi). Al-Ruba'i and the other so-called Shi'a leaders were not meant to be there for long. There are two reasons for including them at this early stage:

1. To appear inclusive and avoid any problems they might create if excluded.

2. It is a wonderful way to trash them and make their followers shed no tears when they go away. Think about the respect Al-Ruba'i, al-Ja'afari, and al-Hakim had before the occupation and compare that to how much they are despised today. In a few months, they would be cursed more than Saddam himself.

In general, if you look at the way things went, Iraq had many political eliminations than the early Ba'athist days. Most of the big names are fading away, to leave Allawi and those loyal to him at the center of the stage. There will be more to come, even among those, mark my words.

Hazim al-Sha'lan, the defense minister (I do not know what that means given that he has no command on any forces in Iraq), said that Saddam will be tried before the 2005 elections.

He told the Jordanian magazine, al-Dustour, "Saddam is sentenced to death because he invaded two countries and killed his people."

So what is the point of the trial? Just kill him and get it over with. Don't get me wrong, Saddam deserves any punishment he may get, but for those who want to try him, they should shut up until the trial is over and the sentence is announced. Some misguided people argue that a trial will show the world the crimes of Saddam. But this is not what trials are for. His crimes can be shown to the world through documentaries, through exhibits of documents, or by giving the press access to the documents and the victims.

p.s. One of these "two countries" which he invaded was recently called by al-Sha'lan himself "Iraq's first enemy."

Monday, September 13, 2004

"There's an injured man. Take pictures - show the world the American democracy,"

"On Sunday, 13 Iraqis were killed and dozens injured in Baghdad when US helicopters fired on a crowd of unarmed civilians. G2 columnist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, who was injured in the attack, describes the scene of carnage - and reveals just how lucky he was to walk away."

Mithal al-Alusi has been fired from the Chalabi inner circle. Out of all the parts of the world where an anti-terrorism conference can be credibly held, he chose to attend a conference in Israel, where killing innocent people is so casual that hardly a day goes by without it. He was quoted "as saying that many elements in Iraq are interested in diplomatic ties with Israel."

He is right. But when they are measured against those who are not interested in such ties, they turn out to be so few that they do not dare express their pathetic "interests", especially after they saw what happened to Al-Alusi, who became an example for those who want to drag Iraq to this unnecessary fake friendship. And speaking of examples, the first name of Al'Alusi -- "Mithal" -- means "example", in Arabic.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Afghanistan continues to be a success story, with a lot of progress.

How does it look from your side, Roya?

"In Baghdad, American military helicopters fired at Iraqis who were scaling a burning American armored vehicle. It was unclear how many Iraqis were killed in the airstrike. At least one television journalist was confirmed dead, and photographs immediately after the strike showed a group of four men severely wounded or dead at the site. American military commanders said the helicopters were returning fire aimed at them from the ground.

"A Reuters cameraman, Seif Fouad, recording the scene, was also wounded in the blast. 'I looked at the sky and saw a helicopter at very low altitude,' he told Reuters. 'Just moments later I saw a flash of light from the Apache, then a strong explosion. Mazen's blood was on my camera and face,' Mr Fouad said from his hospital bed. He added that his friend screamed: 'Seif, Seif! I'm going to die. I'm going to die.'"

The TV footage, including the missile strike incident, showed a crowd of people and journalists around a burning vehicle. I don't know how they can justify firing three missiles in the middle of such a crowd in a place like Haifa Street. These "commanders" should see the tape. It is repugnant.

This article says it all about the "new" era in Iraq: democracy, prosperity, and food rations.

Despite some blood-boiling phrases by the writer (it is NY Times after all), the article reveals all the signs of failure of this miserable project in Iraq.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

It seems that the prisoners at Abu Graib have been raped again this week. One of the heroes who "admitted to handcuffing the detainees and forcing them to crawl on the ground," and, along with "some of the prison guards used their feet to press down on the buttocks of the men to simulate the appearance of a male sexual embrace," saying that "he was aware he was abusing them at the time." got only eight months of confinement.

He was given immunity to testify against others, who will probably be given immunity to testify against others who will probably be given immunity to testify that the prisoners abused each other.

But for now, it is merely eight months for a war crime. Could it be because he "told the judge he was acting independent of higher authorities"? It is hard to believe that he got this funny sentence because his "father [said] his son is a good person and that he chose to serve his country by enlisting to become a soldier," in a tape played for the court. It is clear that -- despite what his father said -- this soldier did not serve his country. Indeed, he betrayed it in the worst possible way.

According to high officials (as high as you can imagine), these bad guys not only acted criminally, but they also brought shame on America and the U.S. military. Now we know that the dignity of the Iraqi prisoners does not matter for many people, but these guys should get some real punishment for "bringing shame on America", don't you think?

Iraqis will be taken to the neo-cons' image of democracy. Those who do not like it will be bombed until they like it. "But one way or another, it will happen."

Meanwhile, in the other success stoty, Afghanistan, things do not seem any brighter.

Friday, September 10, 2004

According to Al-Hayat newspaper, Ibrahim al-Ja'fari, the U.S. appointed vice president in the interim government in Iraq, says that the United states "came to Iraq like an elephant on a war machine" (whatever that meant).

Al-Ja'fari is the most curious figure in the awkward concoction also known as the interim government of Iraq. He does not seem to do much, other than talking on TV. On certain days, I see him on two or three TV stations, saying the same things over and over and over and over and .o.ve.r..."

Thursday, September 09, 2004

"DAVINCI CODE" is banned in Lebanon. This includes the English, French, and Arabic versions.

If you remember, the CPA under Paul Bremer put this book on the list of "Suggested Readings for Iraqi Leaders."

When President Bush said "you are either with us or with the terrorists," I never thought that his statement includes voting in the U.S. elections.

Well, now vice president Cheney seems to think so. This New York Times editorial called his recent talk "A Disgraceful Campaign Speech." I believe that it is more than that. It is anti-democratic. I understand the lust for another term for this lunatic administration, and remember what they did last time to acquire power after they lost the popular vote and did not clearly win the electoral vote. But to say this about voting for their opponents shows how undeserving they are for a second term.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

I was watching an interview with one of the members of the new so-called Iraqi National Assembly. He was raving about how things are improving in Iraq and how security is getting better by the day. Then I began my daily reading of the newspapers. Here is what I read:

US military death toll in Iraq hits 1,000.

Actually, "White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the latest Pentagon figures showed that 997 American troops and three civilian employees of the defence department had been killed in Iraq."

I could not find the number of Iraqis killed to date.

U.S. Conceding Rebels Control Regions of Iraq .

U.S. forces have been battling insurgents in Sadr City, a Baghdad slum where hostilities have frequently erupted. At least 34 people have been killed. Meanwhile there has been little new information about the fate of two French hostages held captive for more than two weeks.

Annan: Iraq violence could deter elections.

Two Italian women working for an aid agency in Iraq have been kidnapped, the agency said yesterday. Gunmen in olive-green uniforms broke into the group's Baghdad offices and took the women, along with two Iraqis, neighbors said. The kidnappers "claimed to work for the office of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, the witnesses said."

Battles in Baghdad Slum Leave 40 Iraqis and a G.I. Dead.

Monday, September 06, 2004

A Question from Jeff:

"Shirin, Abbas, etc,
I can't read Arabic.
Do you agree that this article in Arabic is a mild rebuke of Muqtada al-Sadr by the Shiite religious authority? Does is say explicitly that civil law must take precedence about Sharia?"

Dear Jeff,
The statement is a strong rebuke. It does not call Al-Sadr names and it does not use foul language. Remember, these are clergymen. The Arabic text, as you will see from my translation, is very tough. Also, it does assign all the blame to Al-Sadr, in a sort of "I-told-you-so" tone. The statement also described his so-called "Islamic court" as follows:

"The Hawza had warned against the transgressions of what they called 'the Shari'a Court of the Office of Martyr Al-Sadr' and pointed at its crossing of Shari'a lines and emphasized its lack of the simplest principles and rules adhered to by Shari'a jurisprudence. And here were the recent days; they came to uncover mutilated bodies, torture tools, and crimes in the halls of this court - shameful practices indeed! This non-Shari'a court committed [these acts] in the name of Islam which has nothing to do with this practice."

If you remember, I have written about this problem a while back. I still believe that Al-Sadr's assistants are worthless in the market of Islamic scholarship, and they even do not know Arabic well enough for being mid-level students of Hawza. Some guests accused me of being an elitist for saying that.

As to your question about the civil law vs. the Shari'a:

the statement does not imply any of this. If the document calls for placing civil law over the Shari's, this would be a sign of its lack of authenticity. It simply says: "The Hawza calls for sending all those involved in violating the rules of the Islamic Shari'a -- especially the administrators of this court -- to the fair judiciary so that they receive their punishment." Fair judiciary in the language of clergymen is not necessarily identical with civil law.

Having said that, I must say that this statement is not worth the paper it was written on in the real world. Why? Because it does not have the name or seal of any scholar in the Hawza. It is signed by "a group of scholars in the Hawza of Najaf". The system of religious authority places very high emphasis on names and stamps. A brick in the wall of the Hawza has more authority that an unnamed "group of the scholars in the Hawza of Najaf" as far as the people of Najaf are concerned.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Izzat Ibrahim Al-Duri has been captured.

According to official sources, Al-Duri is responsible for a great deal of the violence in Iraq and he was leading major parts of the resistance in the country.

This site welcomes the news of the capture of this criminal. However, one must be very simple-minded if he/she thinks that his capture will end violence. It is important that no one of these criminals escapes the humiliation they caused for Iraqis. Iraqis paid more than what is due to punish them for their criminality. Everything else is left to the test of time.

It seems that the news of the capture is not final anyway. After one Iraqi minister, Wa'il Abd Al-Latif, came on TV confirming the capture, now the Minister of Defense says that he has no idea what everyone is talking about -- one more example of what I said in my recent article: "At any given day throughout the crisis one could hear three cabinet members voicing three different opinions..."

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Abdurrahman ar-Rashid has an interesting article in Al-Sharq al-Awsat (Arabic text). Several guests asked me to comment on it. Here is my take.

1. The title (The Painful Truth: All Terrorists Are Muslims) is certainly false. However, having titles imposed on my own articles in the past, I cannot blame him for sure. Whoever chose this title (Mr. Ar-Rashid or al-Sharq al-Awsat) has committed a fallacy. Also, the title does not match the argument in the article.

2. He certainly is right on the problem concerning a group of self-appointed religious leaders who find themselves at ease with issuing fatwas allowing bloodshed. This group must be opposed and exposed. I was horrified by the images from Russia for the past three days and I am shocked that certain Muslims actually believe that this can be consistent with Islam in any way, no matter how remote. I must point out here that this crime has been condemned by Muslims all over the world, as should any crime, large or small.

3. Mr. ar-Rashid must start his criticism with his own environment. Al-Sharq al-Awsat smells Saudi money and oil in every inch of its pages. The Saudis and their Wahhabi allies (we must not forget) are the factory for extremism and the founders of a culture that calls for shedding the blood of anyone who does not share their views and interpretations of Islam. I just finished translating (into Arabic) a book on Wahhabism. Here is a little glimpse of their views on other Muslims, let alone non-Muslims:

"The corollary of identifying Muslims other than the Wahhabis as mushrikin (polytheist) was that warfare against them became not simply permissible but obligatory: their blood could legitimately be shed, their property was forfeit, and their women and children could be enslaved. As the events of Karbala (Shi'a city) and Ta'if (Sunni city) 1217/1803 made plain, the Wahhabis by no means shrank from the duties of butchery their doctrine imposed on them." Hamid Algar, Wahhabism: A Critical Essay, p. 34.

Mr. ar-Rashid does not write a word on this particular school, so he opted for the more popular word (Muslims). It is interesting that the Wahhabis use the term "Muslim" to refer to themselves exclusively (as the author of the above paragraph points out). Therefore, Mr. ar-Rashid is perhaps consistent with the claims of his employers.

4. The same can be said about Al-Arabiya TV, which airs over and over again the declarations and videos of these groups, without accompanying their broadcast with commentaries like the one in the article.

5. Yet, despite the questionable nature of the messenger, the message in the article is worth paying a lot of attention to. It would be more complete if blame was assigned to the many causes of terrorism as well as to its effects.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

My article in today's Al-Ahram Weekly.

"The real winner at the end of the crisis was Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani. His return home from a trip to London for medical treatment accomplished a lot for him and for the disputants alike. First, his return cast away allegations that he left the city to avoid any involvement in the crisis. Indeed, no matter what the truth may have been, history would never have treated his trip kindly if he had not made this comeback. Secondly, his well-staged entry to Iraq and the rally that accompanied him from Basra to Najaf was a reminder to everyone that the era of powerless Hawza was over. Such a rally was not assembled in Iraq for an Ayatollah for over half a century. Thirdly, Ayatollah Al-Sistani is now about to be the turbaned king of Iraq -- a father figure for all Iraqis. I say, "about to be" because there is more he needs to do in order to acquire this status and displace many easily replaceable political leaders in Iraqi society." Read more.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

The new judiciary of the new Iraq in nothing but the same old tricks.

Alsadr should be arrested at any cost, we were told. After a lot of destruction and death on both sides. Al-Sadr can go free, they said.

Ahmed Chalabi must go to jail for what he does best, we were told. Then we learn that Chalabi is set free (no reasons given). He is now an "appointed" member of the Iraqi legislature.

Sam Chalabi was supposed to be arrested for an alleged role in a murder (assassination) of a guy who was investigating him, among others. Sam Chalabi was conveniently out of Iraq and could not be arrested. Now we learn that the arrest is changed to an "invitation" to talk to investigators.

If this is the way to handle high profile cases, we can only imagine how other cases are being handled.

"When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming," said George W. Bush in 2000, when accepting his party's nomination.

This article traces this promise, or the abandonment thereof.

Who wants to assassinate Ahmed Chalabi?

"Chalabi's convoy was attacked in southern Baghdad at about 7:30 a.m. as he returned from the holy city of Najaf, said spokesman Mithal al-Alusi." TV news mentioned later that his guards died from the wounds they sustained during the attack.

As they say, "good happens to few, while evil befalls all." The evil of violance and random killing in Iraq does not discriminate. Even highly paid foreign bodyguards seem obsolete at certain times. Although I dislike Chalabi, I am glad that he escaped this incident. Freelance excutioners should not succeed, no matter who the target might be.

Meanwhile, it seems that the government has filed away the arrest order against Chalabi and gave the man a seat in the Parliament. He was not subject to election. They simply appointed him and 18 others. Go figure!

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