Friday, December 31, 2004


Some "Anonymous" made a comment on my last posting, here it is:

"So the soccer coach resigned because he "could not go on training his guys in the street", which was, of course, somehow the fault of the Americans. Tell me, all you whining losers, are there no open fields in Iraq? Is it not possible for the soccer players to clear the garbage from an area the size of a soccer field? Are the players unable to construct such a complicated edifice as a soccer goal?
What's the problem, couldn't they even find a white man to tell them what to do?"

1. I will not respond to your racist remark. It speaks for itself.

2. They are "training in the street" is not to be taken literally. Take a basic literature class, will you?

And yes it is "the fault of the Americans," because they used their fields as military bases, and/or entertainment facilities for the occupation soldiers and officials.

Your remark also shows that your intellectual ability is next to zero. Give me one example of a National sports team training in a place just cleared from garbage. Go visit the training facility to a local team next to you and see what it takes to make a team ready.

3. I agree with you on not using your real name and encourage you to keep it this way, because your opinions are not even worthy of a non-intellectual's name like yours.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Speaking of the blind occupation:

U.S. soldiers attacked and trashed the apartment of Adnan Hamad, the Iraqi soccer coach, who was selected the best coach in Asia in 2004. You may remember that he was the coach that achieved with the Iraqi team the fourth place in the Olymics this year. He resigned last week because he could not go on training his guys in the street.

Adnan Hamad is more known than Iraq's appointed president Ghazi al-Yawar in Iraq, but somehow, these 'brilliant' guys didn't differentiate between him and the terrorists. I am glad they did not bomb the place as they often do.

As John Wayne said once: "Before you try'em, you must catch'em!"
And I add: Before you catch them, you must know them.

"Now America has to count on the military to step up when the civilians get out of control", writes ANDREW ROSENTHAL in a must-read editorial.

Now America has to count on the military to step up when the civilians get out of control", writes ANDREW ROSENTHAL in a must-read editorial.

"With Parkinson's kind of reasoning, any goon could be the defense secretary. It's all someone else's fault. Never mind that Rumsfeld beat the war drums as hard as anyone in the administration. Never mind that Rumsfeld insisted that the war could be won quickly and cheaply. Never mind that the intelligence community actually warned that it wouldn't go quite the rosy way the neocons said it would. Never mind that high-ranking officers said it would not work the Rumsfeld way and that way more troops would be needed. Rumsfeld sacked those guys. But no. Spin, more spin, proper spin, that's what it takes, according to Parkinson, who seems to believe that the American public will think "correctly" if only government spins the information the right way.
So, the defense secretary should not be required to be able to imagine or consider that a people might well violently object to having their country occupied. Nobody told him it could turn out that way, so he can't be blamed."

A state of chaos, argues Sidney Blumenthal, is the way to describe the transition from the old G.W. Bush administration to the neo-Bush administration.

He writes about "backstage betrayals, plots and pathologies." Blumenthal was serving in the Clinton administration, we must remember. But this should not reject his argument on this basis. The transition does seem like a political slaughterhouse operation. The new administration will have two kinds of animals: neocons and "Yes"-people.

Monday, December 27, 2004

"You break it, you own it."

So far, all we hear is: 'It was already broken; got a problem with that?'

The latest on Iraqi elections:

Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, survived an assassination. Soon after the invasion, his brother, the real intellectual in the family, Muhammed Baqir al-Hakim, lost his life in a car bombing in Najaf.

Although, I don't think much of the leadership of Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, I am thankful that he was not hurt. Moreover, this family had seen a lot in the past thirty years.

I personally predict a great future for Abdul Aziz al-Hakim's son, Ammar al-Hakim. The guy is brilliant and a fabulous communicator. He is everything his father is not. He must be in his early 20's now, but he is flying solo in the political competition.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Party withdrew from the elections, leaving the Sunni Arabs with a bunch of secular candidates. Very bad news for those who count on the elections to be meaningful.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

I brought to your attention once that the web-site of the U.S. Embassy in Iraq has a link to a magazine (!) called "Hi". It is what we used to call in Iraq "majallah habitah" (bad-taste magazine), as opposed to soild publications like Al-Adab.

Here is their choice for the poem of the month.

We must remember what the Arab poet Nizar Qabbani said about Iraq: "In Iraq a poet is born every minute." From these, only two or three survive in every generation. I can only imagine an Iraqi comparing this poem to the works of Al-Jawahiri, Al-Sayyab, Al-Bayyati, Sadi Yousif, or Adnan al-Sayegh.

I just finished watching an interview with Fuad Ajami, of Johns Hopkins. He was interviewed by Dawod al-Shiryan of Dubai TV.

I must say that I always despised the work of Fuad Ajami. Here is his latest, from today's interview (my translation):

- I am guilty of being more American than the Americans...I was born in Lebanon, but I present myself as an American.

There is nothing wrong with that; he is after all an American citizen. What bothers me is that the people who quote him introduce his opinions as a point-view of an Arab Scholar. It is unfair.

He denied the numbers of Iraqis killed since the invasion of Iraq (100,000), even though the numbers were presented by his own university and even though the Americans themselves did not dispute the figures. How could they? They did not even bother to count. He would not even accept the possibility of 20,000 Iraqis killed. Here is what he said instead:

- I don't believe in the numbers.

He still stands by his statement that the Iraq war was a "noble war...a just war."
He also amazingly said that,
- there was an Iraqi welcoming of the Americans and still there is.

He also claimed that the Arab mind likes to believe in myths.

-"first there was the myth of Jinin (palestine), and then there was the myth of Fallouja."

- Criticizing Paul Wolfowitz is a form of Anti-Semitism.

He dodged every question about Israeli atrocities in Palestine and the U.S. support for Israel. He said that

- the role of the U.S. in the region is marginal and the U.S. is only a bystander.

He also did not miss the opportunity to praise Bernard Lewis, calling him
- the highest authority for scholars of the Middle East.

At the end, the interviewer told Ajami:

- I envy you. You seem to be in perfect harmony with yourself, even though you say things that have nothing to do with reality.

I agree with al-Shiryan, although I do not envy Ajami at all.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Rumsfeld Says Iraqis Must Stop Insurgents.

They sure can, but for this to happen, the 150,000 U.S. soldiers must clear the way. They have been the main obstacle to stability in Iraq for some 21 months.

Friday, December 24, 2004

To all my Christian readers:


Thursday, December 23, 2004

What's up with these "surprise" visits to Iraq? President Bush made a surprise visit, once, to an airport said to be in Iraq, PM Blair just finished a surprise visit, but was more courageous -- he actually entered the Green Zone and had coffee -- and now another surprise visit by Mr. Rumsfeld to Mosul.

Maybe its time for me to make a "surprise visit" to Iraq.

Badr Shakir al-Sayyab was one of the greatest Arab Poets ever lived. Forty years ago, on December 25, he died. He was born in Basra (Iraq).

Here are two poems (English translations). Those who know Arabic also know what I am talking about.

One of the best books about him in English is "Placing the Poet: Badr Shakir al-Sayyab and Postcolonial Iraq", by Terri DeYoung. It was based on DeYoung's dissertation at UC Berkeley. For those who are interseted in linguistic jargon and know Arabic, the best I read was "al-Buna al-Usloubiyyah: Dirasah fi Shi'r al-Sayyab" by Hassan Nadhim. The book is a study on the poetic style in the "Rain Song" (you just read the English translation from the link above). It was also based on his Ph.D. dissertation at al-Mustansiriyyah University (Baghdad). Hassan also happened to be my brother-in-law.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

If you have not checked out Roya's web-site by now, you should. It is the site to read for those interested in Afghanistan.

Roya is a fine lady and a good journalist. Most importantly, she knows what she writes about.

Les ex-otages français d'Irak ont livré leurs premiers témoignages:

"On n'a pas été maltraités", a tout d'abord affirmé Georges Malbrunot. Puis il a confié : "On a vécu une expérience difficile, parfois très difficile. Mais on n'a pas perdu espoir ni confiance dans l'action des autorités françaises."

"On était deux, on a réussi à parler avec les ravisseurs en arabe, on a réussi à faire retomber la tension de temps à autre. Il n'y avait pas d'autre solution : quand vous êtes otages, il faut tenir et se dire que chaque jour qui passe vous rapproche de la fin. Il faut être très cartésien et humble."

"It's like watching your son playing in traffic, and there's nothing you can do," Ms. Bellows said. "You can't reach him."

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The scandal that never goes away. The dispute is now focusing on what to call the practice. Some insist that it is just abuse; others like to call it torture.

As I recall it from my days in Mosul, Al-Ghizlani is one of the largest military facilities in Iraq. It has all kinds of places to have a dining room. Why would anyone have a tent for such gatherings?

Monday, December 20, 2004

Back 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 to those who e-mailed me many times asking for more:

Sir Percy Cox was summoned to London on June 6, 1920 -- he was then a British envoy to Tehran -- for a consultation concerning the establishment of an interim government in Iraq. While on his way to London, the [1920] Revolution began in Iraq. When he arrived in London, he found a heated debate about the Revolution...
The government of Britain...assigned to [Cox] the task of establishing a national government in Iraq. On August 20, 1920, Cox left Britain by sea with his wife and three aides among them was [John] Philby.

While Cox was on his way to Iraq, Sir Arnold Wilson, who was the deputy general political administrator there, war preparing to depart from the country. On September 19, Sayyid Talib al-Naqib had a farewell party for Wilson. Jamil Sidqi al-Zahawi (a poet) gave a speech in praise of Wilson's services for Iraq and said some nasty words about the Revolution and the revolutionaries. Sayyid Talib also gave a speech with the same tone. Finally, Wilson stood up and thanked the host and the audience and expressed his regret for not being able to continue his service for Iraq.

The next day there was another party in the Railroad Office, where Wilson gave a lengthy speech -- to be found in his diary -- attributing the causes of the Revolution to the British policy, which encouraged Nationalism in Iraq, not giving exact ordered to establish a local government in the right time; and to the leaders of the opposition, accusing them of lack of vision, extremism and inclination towards chaos.

On September 24, [1920] Wilson left Baghdad for Basra, by train, and following him was Sayyid Talib, who went to receive Cox. On the night of October 1, Cox and his escorts arrived in Basra. In their reception was a large crowd headed by Wilson and Sayyid Talib. The next day, there was a big party in the Basra Park honoring Cox and it was attended by Shaykh Khaz'al. In the evening of the same day, Sayyid Talib held a grand dinner in his palace on Shatt al-Arab, in the Sabiliyyat area. During the dinner party, the elite of Basra presented a sword of honor to Wilson on the occasion of his departure from Iraq. Abdullatif al-Mindeel and Muzahim al-Pachachi gave speeches, praising Wilso's services in Iraq. Wilson recorded in his diary an excerpt from the speech of Muzahim al-Pachachi, from which we present the following:

"I feel sorry that the foolishness of some Arab individuals disturbed the nation of Britain 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 hands. 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 an 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."

In the next morning the honor guard stood on the platform of the harbor for the farewell of Wilson. In his diary, Philby says the following about Wilson: "I had a conversation with him before his departure and found him very bitterly upset with the general course of events and especially with the newly proposed regime, because it meant the end of his rosy dreams about Iraq as a glowing jewel in the British Crown." (vol. VI, pp. 9-12)

The last Hungarian soldier left Iraq yesterday. (Arabic Text)

I was having a conversation recently with a friend who expressed his frustration that Iraqis equate Mr. Bush with Hulagu, the Mongol tyrant who destroyed Baghdad in 1258.

I told him that I share his frustration because I think that it is unfair to Hulagu. Hulagu was not the president of a nation which has UC Berkeley, Harvard, and Georgetown. Here is what Iraqis will remember for generations to come.

President Bush's exit strategy from Iraq is facing a revolving door.

Training Iraqis to take over is the way to replace US troops. But it is the President who has the final say on whether they are ready. So far, and since there is no election pressure on him anymore, he keeps bragging about their lack of readiness.

Yet, he told reporters, "We're under no illusions."

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Some gunmen killed the daughter of the former Iraqi president, Abd Al-Salam Aarif. They also killed her husband and kidnapped her son, a 20 years old college student.

The Aarif presidency (1963-1966) was the worst episode in the Iraqi modern history. It was known for its sectarian-based politics and policies. It was also the administration that opened the doors for killing Iraqis in large numbers, with or without reason. Among the thugs who helped bring this shameful era one can mention two: Saddam Hussein and Iyad Allawi.

Having said that, I still don't see any reason to attack these three people after all these years. The report does not mention any role for them in the current affairs.

U.S. to UN Development Programme: your report should say that Iraqis are about to explode due to happiness and prosperity under U.S. occupation. And while you are at it, you should say the same about the Palestinians.

Otherwise, you will lose $100 million a year, said the lead writer of a UN report on freedom and governance in the Arab world.

To be fair, some Arab dictatorships did exactly like the Bush administration. Dictators of the world, unite!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

My new article in Al-Ahram Weekly:

Although the supporters of rescheduling the Iraqi elections do not come solely from the Sunni Arab community, but instead from groups that cut across ethnic and sectarian lines, the dispute is generally perceived to be a showdown between Shia and Sunni Arabs. This unwarranted simplification of the election quandary can only obscure the roots of the problem. In order to measure the depth of the dispute we ought to focus on the issues that inspire it. The proponents of delaying the elections base their argument on both practical reasoning and clear wishful thinking.

They rightfully call for an election that can be accessible for all Iraqis without intimidation. Iraqi cities where the Sunnis make up the vast majority are currently the theatre of major military action or in the hands of anti-government groups. Therefore, it should not be a surprise that the Sunnis call for delay. But those who call for three to six months of extra time can present no evidence that these areas are going to be close to readiness for elections even if they are awarded the delay....

In a central location at the Washington Dulles Airport I noticed a very expensive, nicely done and carefully displayed sign that read:

"International Travel Requires A Passport."

Az-Zaman Daily seems to suggest that Iraqi elections will not have international monitoring. So far, the U.N. sent about seven people to monitor tens of thousands of polling stations all over Iraq. They must belong to the Superman/woman type!

"I think the whole Iraqi situation has been a debacle, a very costly one. I don't see how all the rudimentary requirements for a free and safe election can be achieved in another month. How can anyone campaign? How can anyone go and vote without fear?," Said the former U.S. president, whose center "has monitored more than 50 elections around the world."

"However, when reporters have criticised, they have been refused embedding privileges. One was Nir Rosen, an unusual American freelance journalist in that he speaks Arabic and has a dark complexion, enabling him to mix with Iraqis. But when he was embedded for two weeks in late 2003 with a US army unit, he witnessed a raid on a house belonging to an arms dealer suspect named Ayoub. When at first he did not respond to their commands, in English, Mr Ayoub was roughed up and shot with non-lethal bullets and his blood spilled on the floor, Mr Rosen wrote in Reason magazine."

I know Nir Rosen personally. He is a very decent guy.

Well... I am back. Thanks to all of you who e-mailed and commented. I did miss you all and I am certainly glad to be back.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

I have a project to take care of. I might not be able to update the site until Wednesday. I trust that you will keep the debate alive. You all will be missed.

Saddam and 11 of his "sweet" friends started a hunger strike protesting against bad treatment.

How about that?! I am sure the Red Cross is working the phones like crazy.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Three years in Jail. That was the military's idea of punishing cold-blooded murder, or "mercy killing" (as his lawyer put it).

Meanwhile, The Central Criminal Court of Iraq sentenced 28 year-old Alaa Sartell Khthee to 15 years in prison for the death of Lieutenant Kylan Jones-Huffman. He was shot to death in Baghdad in August 2003 when the SUV in which he was riding stalled in a marketplace. (thanks, Boy)

This is a clear evidence on the superiority of American law schools over their Iraqi counterparts. Iraqi law schools never teach lawyers-to-be the virtues of "mercy killing defense".

Compared to this verdict, the punishment given by the American court is like adding insult to a "mercy killing".

"The nanny Mr. Kerik had employed, who has not yet been identified, left the country about two weeks ago, just prior to the announcement of his nomination, a former New York City official said on Saturday, adding that her departure had been planned for at least two months."

Friday, December 10, 2004

The latest invention by the liberators in Iraq: Mercy killing, jut like they used to do to horses.

"A U.S. soldier pleaded guilty Friday to killing a severely wounded Iraqi teenager in what investigators say may have been a mercy killing, the latest of several similar incidents..."

In another "case, witnesses have said Capt. Rogelio Maynulet, 29, of Chicago, shot the wounded man out of compassion."

Compassion? Would they do the same for a wounded GI in the same conditions? Or is it the compassion that is reserved for Iraqis only?

The Hawza (Shi'i School of Najaf) responded to the paper king of Jordan for implying that 65 percent of Iraqis are Iranian agents. Their hidden message in their response to him is: "You supported Saddam for all these years. It is time that you shut up. No more free oil for you."

Jordan was receiving free oil from Iraq until the first week of April 2003. I guess that not all of those who were on Saddam's list of free oil are considered bad, after all.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

"Anti- Semitism is alive and well today worldwide and its major victims are Arabs and Muslims and no longer Jews. The fight should indeed be against all anti-Semitism no matter who the object of its oppression is, Arab or Jew," writes Joseph Massad.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

There have not been as many puppets at any time as the are now.

The paper king of Jordan does not want a Shi'i government in Iraq. Yet he has the nerve to accuse others of interfering in Iraqi politics.

On his part, the paper president of the appointed government in Iraq echoed the same lines. By mere coincidence, they both made their remarks shortly after meeting President Bush.

"Not everyone is politically involved and there are some excellent
scholars in that department," the professor added. "But you either have
to be -- you'll never see a memo on this -- but looking at the people
who come to the fore, and the people who leave, you either have to be on the Israeli side of things or you have to keep your mouth shut." (Thanks Professor P.)

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Some people believe it only when it is stated by the CIA. But it really takes a blind at heart not to see that Iraq is a quagmire.

"A former US Marine said his unit killed more than 30 innocent Iraqi civilians in just two days, in graphic testimony to a Canadian tribunal probing an asylum claim by a US Army deserter.
Former Marine Sergeant Jimmy Massey appeared as a witness to bolster claims by fugitive paratrooper Jeremy Hinzman that he walked out on the 82nd Airborne Division to avoid being ordered to commit war crimes in Iraq.
Mr Hinzman, 26, claims he would face persecution if sent home to the United States, in a politically charged case which could set a precedent for at least two other US deserters seeking asylum in Canada."

Although the Marine is saying this in a special context, trying to make a strong case for his asylum application, it is well-known that manny unarmed Iraqis were executed by their 'liberators'. Some of them were even done on camera. One more reason many Iraqis feel 'ungrateful' for all that which was done for/to them.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Congratulations to the good people of Afghanistan. Karzai was sworn in.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

A military judge yesterday ordered the former commander of U.S. prisons in Iraq to testify at the trial of a soldier who says he was ordered to abuse detainees at Abu Ghraib.

Actually, she should be sitting next to him and face the consequences. It was the U.S. that told the world 50 years ago that commanders are responsible for the acts of their soldiers regardless whether or not they knew about these acts.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

"This 'war of posters and banners', as one Iraqi politician puts it, is about the only visible sign that this is a country which is due to go to the polls less than eight weeks from now. The Iraqi electorate, who are still trying to come to terms with a ruthless US military machine working flat out to destroy what remains of ordinary life in the name of fighting "insurgents", are simply irrelevant to pre- election campaigning activities. Due to the worsening security situation, public activities such as rallies and meetings are as rare as gold dust. As a result, the Iraqi people are hardly aware of the electoral alliances being struck. Most political meetings are held behind closed doors, though access is granted to the country's newspapers," writes my good friend Omayma Abdel-Latif

Naomi Klein vs. the U.S. Embassy: You asked for my evidence, Mr Ambassador. Here it is.

I link, you make up your mind.

More pictures and rotten "apples".

Friday, December 03, 2004

"Gunmen stormed a police station and bombed a Shia mosque in two simultaneous dawn attacks in Baghdad yesterday which killed at least 30 Iraqis and injured several.
Dozens of prisoners were freed and weapons were looted from the police station, a brazen show of strength by the insurgents. Shortly afterwards guerrillas attacked at least two police stations in the northern city of Mosul.
The attacks marked the most serious day of violence in Iraq for some weeks and raised the spectre of sectarian clashes."

Back from Washington, D.C.

Sorry for not updating the site for three days. I gave a couple of public lectures and participated in a conference on Iraq. I will say more about the lectures when I recover from the aftermath of the long flight.

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