Wednesday, March 31, 2004

75% of Iraqis surveyed want local committees to select the legislative body in Iraq, and 65.2% said that the most important step for future is to hold direct elections as soon as possible, even it means delaying the so-called transfer of the so-called power to the so-called Iraqis (most of those who are going to take charge do not have valid Iraqi passports. They are still officially citizens of other states, pending any law to re-instate their Iraqi citizenship). Also, 64% said that true sovereignty means no foreign influence (troops) in the country.

So that I am not considered unfair, I must mention that 89.8% of those surveyed said that their areas are safe.

These numbers were obtained through an opinion poll conducted in seven major cities in Iraq. (Arabic text)

These people are being told to jump in the lake. No committees, no direct elections, and the foreign troops will stay and they will command the army of the "sovereign" Iraq.

Today's attacks and the disrespect that was shown to the dead bodies of the American civilians did not only offend the U.S. and the victims, but it was an atrocity against the Iraqi culture and spirit. These people were acting against every decent concept in this life. Like all dignified cultures, the Iraqis I knew would be shocked to see such conduct. It is not consistent with the Islamic ethics as well. The Prophet, peace be upon him said, "It is irreligious to mutilate a dead body, even if it were a body of a mad dog." By that, the Prophet wanted to give an absolute command that the bodies of humans to be treated with all the respect and dignity. These people certainly violated that command. It is a sad day for humanity to see people sink this low in their conduct. These people should be tracked and put on trial and receive the harshest form of discipline, so that such disgraceful behavior does not occur again.

But, on the other hand, this is all the fault of the Bush administration that could not wait to break up the country and demolish the state of Iraq with all of its components (both useful and unuseful). They even could not wait until a post-war plan is made. They were so arrogant and egoistic that they refused even to entertain questions such as: "What if Iraqis did not receive them with roses." They acted as if they were prophets and everyone else (myself included), who said on record that this is going to be an ugly experiment, we were considered heretics.

They committed the exact mistake of the British in 1914. "We were coming as liberators", said the British then. But when they decided to act as occupiers, Iraqis responded with the wildest resistance possible. Fast forward to 2003, and you will certainly see a replay of that bad movie titled "liberators turn into occupiers." Why expect any different results.

Even for an occupying force, the U.S. has been a lousy one. They made a promise after another, only to break them just before the time comes for implementation. The removed Saddam, which is a very good thing, but instead of having a democracy, they brought a group of swindlers and international charlatans and imposed them on Iraq. Instead of democracy, they resisted any elections and fired democratically elected city boards and allowed in thieves and criminals and incompetent people. As I have said before, it is not enough to talk about democracy. You have to act according to its principles. While Iraqis never tasted democracy before, but they certainly have a full knowledge about dictatorship. The replacement of Saddam is not much different than Saddam in its arbitrariness and the disregard for the will of the Iraqis. It is time to change things around before more blood baths and more shameful conduct can occur again.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Did the Bush administration invade Iraq to protect Israel?
Mr. Philip Zelikow thought so. He was part of "a highly knowledgeable and well-connected body known as the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB), which reports directly to the president. He served on the board between 2001 and 2003." Here is what he said at the University of Virginia on September 10, 2002, according to the article:

"Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I'll tell you what I think the real threat [is] and actually has been since 1990 - it's the threat against Israel... And this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don't care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn't want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell."

The Iraqi political meal is about to leave the oven. The cooks are talking (in secret) about what the final stew is going to be. But you do not need such reports, because you can detect the bad smell from 5000 miles away. here are the two likely plans (Arabic Text). Shirin, you might end up being the one with the best crystal ball.

The puppets in Baghdad refuse to allow a UN monitoring of the elections (if they are ever going to be held). I wonder why?

Oklahoma City is aspiring to be Paris of the U.S.; not in everything fascinating Paris stands for, but in the one thing that is rotten and oppressive that Paris had to export recently.

To their credit, the people in the Justice Department stood on the right side:
"No student should be forced to choose between following her faith and enjoying the benefits of a public education... Religious discrimination has no place in American schools", said Assistant Attorney General R. Alexander Acosta. We will see what the judge is going to say, but I have a feeling that we will be referring to Hearn vs. The Muskogee Public School District.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Iraq 93 days before the transfer of power (my philosopher-friend, Ahmed, disagrees with the mere concept of a transfer of power in Iraq. He says that in order to transfer power the Americans must have it. But outside the basement of the former Presidential Palace, the Americans have no power whatsoever, as he saw in his last trip to Iraq).

Anyway, here is how Iraq is now: kidnappings, broad daylight burglaries, and doctors being forced to harvest kidneys of kidnapped people to sell them in the black market, according to Az-Zaman newspaper, which is generally liked by Bremer, I am told.

The most recent high-profile kidnapping is that of Dr. Walid al-Khayyal, one of the best kidney surgeons in the world. He was kidnapped on Friday, in front of his own hospital.

The way things are going in Iraq, there will be more death and horror in the coming 3 -4 years than the whole 35 years of the reign of Saddam. Any problem that follows thereafter is just a bonus. This is why I believe that the play of liberation is like one of those you find in the theater of the absurd.

More on winning the hearts and minds. "Mr. Bremer sent American soldiers to shut down and padlock a popular Baghdad newspaper on Sunday. The stated reason was that by printing false anti-American rumors, the Shiite weekly, Al Hawza, stirred up hatred, undermined stability and indirectly incited violence."

The editorial of the Washington Post is almost correct in stating that:

"Newspapers like Al Hawza do not create the hostility Americans face in Iraq — they reflect it. Shutting them down, however satisfying it may feel to the Bush administration, is not a promising way to dissolve that hostility. The occupation authorities have plenty of means, including their own television station, to get out a more favorable message."

It is wrong, however, in thinking that the puppet TV station can change things. First, becase things have to change on the ground first, before any TV station can do anything, much less can do a TV station that is not being watched at all by the Iraqis.

After winning the hearts and minds of all other Middle Easterners, the U.S. is moving to win the hearts and minds of the Afghans, says this article. Here is how it is being done:

"The more they help us find the bad guys," Lieutenant Finn explained, "the more good stuff they get."

I think this is not going to win them anything. You win the hearts and minds by giving unconditionally. But, this way, Lieutenant Finn is going to get mercinaries, at best, but not friends, and resentment rather than good-will. It is a method that takes the dignity away from the locals and sends them a message that they are, in his opinion, a people without ethics or values.

Who is advising the U.S. army, I wonder? Maybe it is someone who never set foot in Afghanistan, or a Karzai-like person who has very low opinion about his people.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

I don't know how the trial of Saddam is going to be (if it will be held at all). But the lawyer who seems to be a hot candidate to defend the dictator made public his intention to call Donald H. Rumsfeld and Henry Kessinger to testify. He accuses the former in being traveling salesman of WMD's, according to this report. (Arabic text)

update: The latest is that U.S. officials now that"Say Saddam's Not Talking". "Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said he occasionally sees the interrogation briefing reports. 'He's a pretty wily guy, and he's not giving much information that I've seen. But he seems to be enjoying the debate,'" Said Mr. Armitage.

The Iraqi army (if we can now dignify it with this name) will be under U.S. command for two years at least, according to a declaration by Mr. Bremer. But Iraq will be a sovereign state by in less than a 100 days.

I ruined my Sunday trying to figure out how this will work, but finally gave up.

Here is something different than the gloomy postings of late:

After drive-by marriages, Nevada is doing something even more interesting now. It has granted a lisence to a man who sells real estate on the moon.

"I believe with every particle of my being that I'm selling property that belongs to me," says Mr. Dennis Hope who "sells undeveloped land for the bargain price of $19.99 an acre." The report confirms that "more than 1,300 corporations have purchased plots, including Safeway supermarkets in Great Britain, which resold 20,000 lots to grocery shoppers."

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Afghanistan is delaying the elections. Guess why:
Karzai said, "We are ready to manage both elections, for the parliament and presidency, in September." I wonder what he means by manage!!!!

Arab Summit has collapsed. Old News!

Israeli occupation forces murdered a 7 years old boy today. He was in his room when a bullet hit him in the neck. According to reports, this is one of about 600 killings of Palestinian children so far. And you wonder why Israel does not seem to have any future in the Middle East. It is the only force that murders people in cold blood and asks for peace in the same moment.

I spoke this afternoon at the San Francisco Public Library. It was an excellent event and the audience was fabulous. Thanks to those of you who showed up. My good friend, Shayee, gave an excellent presentation. One year after the occupation, it was sad to tell the people that the libraries of Iraq are still in peril. As many of you have seen on TV, the damage of the invasion in March/April 2003 and the days that followed were the worst since the destruction of Baghdad in 1258.

"U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller regrets his vote to authorize a war against Iraq." I am glad that he got this out of his chest.

"We had this feeling we could be welcomed as liberators. Americans don't know history, geography, ethnicity. The administration had no idea of what they were getting into in Iraq. We are not internationalists. We border on being isolationists. We don't know anything about the Middle East", said the "poor" Senator.

But we knew that, didn't we? It is just our elected officials are falling behind. Of course, Sen. Rockefeller can say he was wrong right now. He will not have to face the voters before 2008. By then, the good people of West Virginia will have forgotten all about this vote.

"The United States will transfer power in Iraq to a hand-picked prime minister, abandoning plans for an expansion of the current 25-member governing council, according to coalition officials in Baghdad.
With fewer than 100 days before the US occupation authorities are due to transfer sovereignty, fear of wrangling among Iraqi politicians has forced Washington to make its third switch of strategy in six months.
The search is now on for an Iraqi to serve as chief executive. He will almost certainly be from the Shia Muslim majority, and probably a secular technocrat."

Friday, March 26, 2004

"Soldiers headed for Iraq are still buying their own body armor — and in many cases, their families are buying it for them — despite assurances from the military that the gear will be in hand before they're in harm's way," reports USATODAY. A body armor costs about $1400.

"Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who serves on the Armed Services subcommittee, said she knows soldiers who were told by the military to buy body armor before leaving, rather than risk arriving with nothing but their shirts."

Congress is telling people who are buying body armors to keep the receipts. They might be reimbursed. The President may propose that these families get "tax cuts" instead of cash.

Also in the news, "a Navy F-18 fighter jet on a training mission caught fire on the runway of the Raleigh-Durham airport during takeoff Friday." Don't worry, thank God, the pilot was given parachute before the take-off. He ejected and is safe now. He had to go to hospital for treatment and is reported in good condition.

Bottom line: Human life should be respected and valued over any material considerations. If $1400 can reduce the loss of a life by 0.00000000000001, then it should be spent immediately.

Just like criticizing Israel was presented as a form of anti-Semitism (which makes about 95% of the world anti-Semitic), now the failure to praise Israel in one's academic work is called incompetent Middle Eastern Studies scholarship. This article names some of those involved in this fallacy. Giants like Edward Said are dismissed as incompetent scholars, while insignificant opportunists, like Pipes and Kramer are praised in certain circles. They have the ears of Washington officials every day in the week (I had a chance to see it first hand). And you wonder why the U.S. is having trouble in the Middle East. When policy is based on information received from Pipes and Chalabi, there will never be a good day for American foreign policy in the region.

Here are this week's visitors for this site (by country)

.net Network 1571 77.7
.com Commercial 313 15.5
.edu USA Educational 39 1.9
.be Belgium 20 1.0
.org Non-Profit Org. 15 0.7
.au Australia 14 0.7
.fr France 8 0.4
.ch Switzerland 7 0.3
.uk United Kingdom 6 0.3
.ca Canada 6 0.3
.dk Denmark 4 0.2
.sg Singapore 3 0.1
.nl Netherlands 3 0.1
.int International 2 < 0.1
.se Sweden 2 < 0.1
.pt Portugal 1 < 0.1
.jp Japan 1 < 0.1
.mx Mexico 1 < 0.1
.in India 1 < 0.1
.hk Hong Kong 1 < 0.1
.br Brazil 1 < 0.1
.pk Pakistan 1 < 0.1
.fi Finland 1 < 0.1

"The White House finds itself in the awkward position of trying to explain why Rice, the national security adviser to President Bush can talk at length to reporters but not at the commission's televised hearings because of the constitutional principle of separation of powers," says this report.
Actually, there is nothing that needs to be explained. One can lie to reporters all the time and get away with it. When under oath, you have to tell the truth. This is the one thing the Bush administration is not yet inclined to do.

"President George Bush sparked a political firestorm yesterday after making what many judged a tasteless and ill-judged joke about the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq", said the Guardian.

"A slide showed Mr Bush in the Oval office, leaning to look under a piece of furniture. 'Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere,' he told the audience, drawing applause."

JFK (not that one, I meant Kerry) was the first, of course to jump at Bush:

"585 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq in the last year, 3,354 have been wounded and there's no end in sight. George Bush sold us on going to war with Iraq based on the threat of weapons of mass destruction. But we still haven't found them, and now he thinks that's funny?"

And may I mention the countless Iraqis who lost their life as well?! Of course, for JFK, this would not translate into votes, but it wouldn't hurt him to say a word about them.

Of all the destortions and false images about the Arabs, the Saudis got mad only after a fake story was produced about a horse race. Don't blame blame them, for horses are more important for them than people. (thanks Brid)

As to Disney, I would defer to the words of Peter Harrigan, a British writer and journalist:
"Peddling this movie as a true story is an example of the imperial nature of Hollywood's arrogance.''

Thursday, March 25, 2004

The opposition in Australia is learning from the Spanish experience. If you elect me, I will bring the troops back the opposition leader told the voters. If the U.S. insists on doing a cowboy job in Iraq, we shall see the all the "willing" jump the sinking ship of Iraq.

Even for the anti-Sharon Zionists, Arabs are nothing but "dogs". This is how Yoel Marcus refers to the Palestinians ("top dogs" and this implies that the others are low-level dogs).

We have to remember that this Zionist is writing to a Middle Eastern audience. Therefore, the word "dog" has a different meaning than to a Western audience. You might say that I am reading too much into it. Indeed, I am not, and I accused the Zionists of many things, but never accused them of not being intelligent.

Bias aside, this is an interesting article. Sistani is inches away from being the greatest scholar in Najaf for over a century. I believe that he will be there and I will switch my taqleed to him.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Meet the Post-Soviet democracy. The presidet of Turkmenstan orders all men in his country to shave, yes shave, any hair on their faces, or else.

The EU has been issuing condemnations, left and right (see postings below). Yet, it seems only lip service and statements made for media consumption. When it came to be on record, they took the most stupid position. They simply did not vote for or against a condemnation of Israel, reports Le Monde.:

"L'Irlande, qui préside actuellement l'Union européenne (UE), a expliqué mercredi que, même si les quinze pays de l'Union condamnaient l'assassinat de Cheikh Yassine, ils ne pouvaient pas soutenir une résolution qui s'abstient de dénoncer les attentats commis par le Hamas en Israël. Les Etats membres de l'UE ont donc choisi de s'abstenir."

As expected, "Allié traditionnel d'Israël au sein de la commission, les Etats-Unis ont voté contre le texte." So did the puppets elsewhere: "Tout en votant également contre la résolution, l'Australie a rappelé son "opposition aux assassinats ciblés" et souligné qu'elle craint 'que le meurtre d'un dirigeant palestinien aussi connu ne débouche sur un regain de violence', selon sa représentante, Caroline Millar."

The resolution was passed anyway, leaving those who opposed it and those whi lacked the courage to vote for it on the wrong side of history.

The following is a poem attributed to Donald H. Rumsfeld -- yes the same guy that comes to mind. I did not read the book, but I heared him many times make such "utterly bizarre utterances":

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know we don't know.

Well, the boys in the Iraqi soccer team have done it again. They won their game with Kuwait 2-1. It was worth getting up at 5:00 a.m. to watch the game.
Again, these guys are the example of the true Iraqi spirit. With no government, no stadium, and playing all games out of their home-field (indeed, out of the country), they are at the head of their group (the ultra rich teams of Saudi, Oman, and Kuwait).

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

James J. Zogby is developing ignorance about American politics. He is part of the Democratic party, which is even worse than the GOP in its record of treating Arab-Americans. I do not dispute the content of his article (hence the link), but I simply point at the way he writes and the fake innocence and sincerity he wants us to believe that he has.

Nabil Yasin has an excellent article in al-Hayat, about the family of Saddam and the story that left the Iraqis at loss for decades. Notice that many members of the family (criminals and terrorists par excellence) are harbored by Jordan and Syria with the tacit approval of the Occupation that set them free after all the hot talk about bringing justice to Iraq.

The entire world (except for Israel and the U.S. of course) condemned in very strong terms the assassination of Shaykh Yasin. Even Tony Blair did so.

Juan Cole had a very interesting comments on what he termed "Ariel Sharon's murder of Shaykh Ahmed Yasin." In it, Dr. Cole cites the dangers of such act on the lives of American soldiers in Iraq and elsewhere. It is no secret that the supporters of Hamas have blamed the U.S. for allowing such act to take place, despite the "soft" denial of Ms. Rice and other U.S. officials. They are probably telling the truth, but by their fear to condemn the acts they are giving credibility to their accusers. U.S. Citizens should not pay for the madness of people like Ariel Sharon. It is the responsibility of the U.S. government to ensure that.

See also this excellent comment by the Angry Arab.

Stocks are among the casualties:

"Fear of terrorism gripped Wall Street on Monday, sending stock prices plunging and extending a steep decline that began last week. Selling began at the opening bell when the Palestinian group Hamas pledged retaliatory strikes against the United States and Israel after Israel killed the group's spiritual leader. The mood darkened further as traders absorbed news that the Pakistani military had failed to capture senior al Qaeda leaders after a lengthy siege." The Dow is very close to go under 10,000 again. I do not own stocks, nor do I ever intend to do so, but like everyone here, I like to see a better economy, even if I have no share in it.

From Around the World:
* British foreign secretary Jack Straw "yesterday condemned the assassination of Sheikh Yassin as unacceptable, unjustified and unlawful."

* EU Foreign ministers: "The EU recognises Israel's right to protect its citizens against terrorist attacks. Israel is entitled to do this under international law. Israel is not, however, entitled to carry out extra-judicial killings.
Not only are extra-judicial killings contrary to international law, they undermine the concept of the rule of law which is a key element in the fight against terrorism."

* A spokesman for Tony Blair said: "It goes without saying that the prime minister also condemns today's killing. We have repeatedly made clear our opposition to Israel's use of targeted killings and assassinations."

* Jacques Chirac: "la France et tous les pays européens ont condamné l'action qui avait été conduite contre le cheikh Yassine, parce qu'elle était contraire au droit international".

* French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, said it would "only fuel the cycle of violence".

* Joschka Fischer, his German counterpart, expressed "deep concern about the possible consequences".

* Poland's foreign minister, Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, said: "I understand that Israel defends its own country. However the picture of a wheelchair-bound person who was killed with a rocket is probably not the best way of promoting Israeli security."

* Javier Solana, le Haut Représentant pour la politique étrangère et de sécurité: "Dans ce cas particulier, je pense que la condamnation doit être plus forte. Cela sera très, très mauvais pour le processus de paix".

* Jean Paul II a déclaré "s'associer à la communauté internationale pour déplorer cet acte de violence qui ne peut se justifier dans aucun Etat de droit".

* "In Egypt, about 7,000 students from al-Azhar University and more than 10,000 from Cairo University staged demonstrations. Tens of thousands more protested in Jordan, Sudan, Yemen and Lebanon."

* "They say that Hamas is a terrorist organisation, but the truth is that Israel is a terrorist state," said Muhammad al-Saqir, head of the foreign affairs committee in Kuwait's parliament.

* Lebanese president, Emile Lahoud, condemned the "savage crime committed by Israel".

* King Abdullah of Jordan: "We are annoyed and pained by what happened despite our arduous and persistent efforts with all sides, including the Israeli government, to refrain from its policy of military escalation."

* Asked what impact the assassination would have on the peace process, President Hosni Mubarak replied: "What peace process?"

"L'assassinat, lundi 22 mars, du chef suprême du Hamas, cheikh Ahmed Yassine, dans un raid aérien à Gaza, a suscité la colère des pays arabes et de nombreuses condamnations dans le monde. Washington, qui a affirmé n'avoir pas été informé à l'avance qu'Israël se préparait à cette opération, s'est refusé à condamner formellement la liquidation de cheikh Yassine mais a néanmoins affirmé être 'profondément troublé' par l'opération israélienne. Le porte-parole du ministère américain des affaires étrangères, Richard Boucher, a déclaré 'qu'il n'y avait aucun doute qu'Israël a le droit de se défendre" contre les groupes radicaux comme le Hamas, mais a ajouté que "cet événement accroît la tension et ne contribue pas aux efforts pour progresser vers la paix'", reports Le Monde.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Shaykh Ahmed Yasin was assassinated by Israel. Mark my words: it is going to be ugly.

Is this what Israel and Sharon want for the Middle East? Whoever the decision maker of this stupid act, he has not given a damn about the blood bath that will follow.

update: in its reporting of the incident, the AP also reported that "Since September 2000, 474 people -- the majority of them Israelis -- have been killed in 112 Palestinian suicide bombings." Yet it did not find it important to mention how many innocent Palestinians were murdered by the Israeli war machine. A lot of Palestinian blood is still fresh on the streets. I am interested in knowing how al-Hurrah will report the assassination.

Hamas leaders said that "Sharon has opened the gates of hell and nothing will stop us from cutting off his head," reports Haaretz, which also quoted Deputy Israeli Defense Minister, Ze'ev Boim, as saying -- in a Mafia kind of language -- that Yassin had been "marked for death."

US government faked Bush news reports

"TV news reports in America that showed President George Bush getting a standing ovation from potential voters have been exposed as fake, it has emerged.
The US government admitted it paid actors to pose as journalists in video news releases sent to TV stations intending to convey support for new laws about health benefits...Lawyers from the investigative arm of Congress discovered the tapes as part of an investigation into federal money that was used to publicise the new law".

I am curious as to how it was listed. Was it like: "Standing Ovation Fees"?

"Un ex-conseiller de la Maison Blanche tire à boulets rouges sur Bush", reports Le Monde.

"M. Clarke a indiqué qu'il avait écrit dès le 21 janvier 2001 à Condoleezza Rice, la conseillère du président Bush pour la sécurité nationale, lui demandant une réunion "urgente" pour "examiner "les attaques imminentes d'Al-Qaïda". C'est seulement en avril qu'une réunion a eu lieu et la conversation a été centrée sur l'Irak, a-t-il regretté."

"Richard Clarke, who retired as the White House counter-terrorism coordinator last year, accused the president of putting pressure on him to find evidence of Iraqi involvement in the September 11 attacks, despite being told repeatedly that there was no link.

'I think he's done a terrible job on the war against terrorism,' said Mr Clarke.

'Frankly, I find it outrageous that the president is running for re-election on the grounds that he's done such great things about terrorism. He ignored it. He ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11. Maybe. We'll never know.'

'Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq,' Mr Clarke said in last night's interview. 'And we all said ... no, no. Al-Qaida is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan. And Rumsfeld said there aren't any good targets in Afghanistan. And there are lots of good targets in Iraq.'

And here is the site to find out more about this story.

"The United States says Iraq will be sovereign, no longer under military occupation, on June 30. But most power will reside within the world's largest U.S. Embassy, backed by 110,000 U.S. troops." Thanks Shirin.

Now this is exactly the way it was with the British between 1932 and 1958. I believe that it will not take that long (26 years) for Iraqis to have a bloody revolution. Iraqi history, about which I know a thing or two, confirms this in very clear terms.

My good friend, Juan Cole, became a four-time star on Campus Watch. He is again the author of their "quote of the month". With all this publicity, I think that Juan should consider changing his photo -- it is making him look less handsome that he really is.

The rate at which the Bush administration claims to kill terrorist leaders, there must be no leadership left for these groups, especially so when they also claim to be isolating those who are still at large.

Yet, on the other hand, the terrorist acts seem to be increasing in a very noticeable fashion. What does this tell us?

Well... Either the claims are not true, or what they claim to be doing is true, but not effective. I think that it is a mix of both. The Bush administration is exaggerating (REALLY?) the number of terrorist leaders killed, and the killing that actually happen do not effect much. The terrorists are normally people who act semi-independently and when a leader is killed, there are many others who will step up and take his place.

The administration has to pay attention to this fact and stop fooling many people (officials included) by such statements as: "we have killed or captured two thirds of the leaders of al-Qa'eda". While two thirds mean 66%, which is impressive on paper, the fact remains that the terrorists can re-generate leaders at a rate of 120%. How do you like to be in such a race?

A new strategy must be devised, or we all are in trouble.

The most dangerous job in Afghanistan.

The job of the aviation minister is vacant again. The son of the war-lord who had the job was assassinated, according to the AP. This is the second minister of aviation to be assassinated (I do not know why they need such a ministry in a country that has no aviation anyway).

Roya, I know it is tempting, but please don't send your C.V.; It is enough for me to worry about the father of my friend, Bahar, who is the minister of interior, so do not increase my anxiety.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

"Virtually every serious and honest study of anti-Americanism in recent years recognizes that people around the world are critical of the US mainly because of the consequences of US foreign policy. It is time for the American people to wake up to the seriousness of this dynamic, because this is now a problem for all Americans, and not just a problem for a single president, or party or administration", writes the Daily Star of Beirut in its editorial.

More excerpts from the letters of U.S. soldiers, killed in Iraq, to their families. It takes strong nerves to finish them all.

"Iraq: a year after the 'democratic' occupation". Dr. Abdul-Aziz al-Muqalih write about an Iraq that disappeared in the darkness of a "democratic" occupation, as he termed it. "Iraq has gone and will not return, neither to its people, nor to the democratic occupation. And the monsters that appeared on the land of the two rivers -- whether for or against the occupation -- will not spare what was called Iraq or the capital that was called Baghdad", wrote the poet and literary critic (Arabic text).

"The reality from March 20 last year to March 20 this year has been grotesquely different. Two of the world's most sophisticated armed forces brushed aside a tinpot army of soldiers without boots, smashed Iraq's cities to pieces, killed thousands of civilians and captured Iraq's oil more or less intact. There were, as any intelligent observer could have told them, no WMD, no centre of world terrorism, no aggressive intent", wrote Richard Overy.

Noam Chomsky said that the Bush administration was so "cruel and savage". He endorsed Kerry, admitting that the latter is the lesser of two evils.

Friday, March 19, 2004

I will be speaking at the San Francisco Public Library, on Saturday, March 27. The event is titled:

"The Baghdad Library in Flames, One Year Later:
What Happened? Why Does It Matter?"

Please check this website for more information.

Juan Cole's article: "Welcome to the quagmire".

"The Bush administration invaded Iraq a year ago expecting a shower of rose petals. Today, the country is on the verge of chaos, and there may be no way to stop it", says my friend, Dr. Cole.

If you want to see how petty and zealous this administration is, read this article. When the paranoid Neocons arrested this guy, they made it look like he was worse than Bin Laden. And when they had nothing on him that smells like espionage, they said "we were right to arrest him" because he was cheating on his wife and he possessed pornography. Now, after dragging the guy in the mud, they are dropping all charges against him.

And you wonder why Arab and Muslim-Americans are afraid to work for the government, leaving the jobs they can do very well for some absolutely incompetent people -- many of them have no more than one year of Arabic and three weeks of "cultural training in Pentagon City". I met many of these in my visits to D.C. and know how pathetic they are.

If you watched Mr. Bush speak to a bored group of people today, you must have realized that even he did not believe the words that were written for him to recite. That is why he, and the speech, were very boring.

Meanwhile, Mr. Powell entered Iraq in an "undercover" visit (the former war hero was too scared -- it seems -- to announce that he was going there). To add insult to injury, many journalists left the room while he was about to start his speech, leaving him to speak to the chairs and the remaining sycophants, who did not have the decency to do the same in protesting the killing of their colleagues a day earlier.

Mr. Powell said that he respects the right of the 30 reporters who left the room, but the story off camera was ugly, according to the reporter of Al-Aalem TV, who was among those who left the room. "We were mistreated and verbally insulted by the guards of Bremer and Powell. They were mean and nasty in their treatment of the departing reporters", he told his news anchor immediately after the event.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

I am in favor of the woman's right to wear a "hijab", if she chooses to. Fiqh scholars believe that a modest dress code, including a head-scarf, is a requirement for an observing Muslim woman. But this article does sound curious, especially when the Saudis are the ones behind it (the word hijab in the article refers to the face-cover):

"The veil or hijab may be a factor in the low incidence rate of nasopharyngeal (nose) cancer among Saudi women according to Dr. Kamal Malakar, head of the oncology department at the Princess Norah Oncology Center at the National Guard Hospital in Jeddah...The main causes of nasopharyngeal cancer are virus infection and smoking. Dr. Malakar suggests that the low number of cases among Saudi women is because they wear a veil from an early age, which protects them from the virus."

I am interested to see if the rate of catching the "flu" virus is also lower among Saudi women.

"When freedom and self-government have taken root in Iraq, and it becomes a force for good in the Middle East, the rightness of our efforts will be clear", wrote DONALD H. RUMSFELD in today's New York Times. Now, if you read this carefully, you will see that it is a mere paraphase of the infamous dictum: "The end justifies the means."

The trouble is that we will not see the end any time soon, but will be stuck with the means.

The most misleading statement in a long time was made today by, who else, Paul Wolfowitz:

"Remember back last summer we were having some problems with electricity. You heard about it a lot. Electricity is now back to prewar levels. It doesn't make news," he told Jim Lehrer of the News Hour.

When the uninformed hear/read this they think that Iraqis are enjoying air-conditioning 24 hours a day. Well, pre-war level of electricity was two hours a day in most places in Iraq. My sister told me this morning on the phone that she might fail in her Ph.D. exams because she can't study in the day because of the heat and in the night because there is no light. Mr. Wolfowitz should feel lucky that this "doesn't make news."

"The Americans are trapped: not able to withdraw and not able to go forward. We see that they control the heavens above Iraq but cannot control a single street in Falluja." George Galloway, anti-war campaigner and a British MP.

This quote and many others including Chomsky are in these Guardian interviews. Don't be shocked when you find that some "Iraqis" are still licking the boots of their new masters, B. & B. Here is what one of them told the interviewer:

"I still think the US was right to invade, in spite of all the mistakes". I do not know what his definition of RIGHT is!

The other is more stone-headed than all of the Neocons combined: "I have a gut feeling that WMD will be found somewhere in the deserts of Iraq", he said.

The President of Poland is finally seeing the light. He told reporters that "le président George Bush l'avait trompé sur l'existence d'armes de destruction massive en Irak : "Qu'on nous ait leurrés avec les armes de destruction massive, c'est vrai. On nous a menés en bateau".

Poland has a command post in the Shi'ite areas southern Baghdad, including Babylon.

In another report, "Kwasniewski said Poland may start withdrawing its troops from Iraq early next year, months before previously planned. He cited progress toward stabilizing Iraq." Well, Mr. Bush keeps claiming that Iraq is a success story. The president of Poland is smart enough to use this as a way out.

"Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, speaking on PBS' News Hour With Jim Lehrer, questioned Kwasniewski's comments.
'I use the word 'misled' when somebody knows a fact and tries to persuade you of a different fact. When somebody tells you their best estimate of a situation and it turns out to be wrong, that's life. That happens often,' he said."

I am sorry, Paul, but when being wrong costs lives, it is not just "life" its liability.

Al-Qa'eda loves Bush and wants him re-elected. They say that "it is impossible for them to find someone more idiotic or more fanatic in his religious beliefs", according to al-Quds al-Arabi. They say that "the [Muslim] nation needs someone like [Bush] in order to wake up."

Well, there you have it. It seems that both sides enjoy this bloody game and want it to last as much as possible. How Pathetic!

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

How much the life of an Iraq worth? When you read this article, you will get a better idea on why projects like al-Hurrah TV cannot do much to make the U.S. look good in the eyes of Middle Easterners. Here is a sample:

"Nearly a year ago, Ali Kadem Hashem watched his wife burn to death and his three children die after an American missile hit his house.
Last week, he got $5,000 from the United States government and an "I'm sorry" from a young captain.
Mr. Hashem sat for a few moments staring at the stack of bills, crisp $100's.
"Part of me didn't want to take it," he said. "It was an insult."

Of course it is! $5,000 for the senseless death of 4 innocent people? A car accident compensation in the U.S. would be much more than this.

or check this one (beggers get better treatment):

"I just want something," the burned boy said.
"Come back later," a guard told him. "You'll get some money. But we're busy."

A powerful explosion destroyed a hotel in central Baghdad last night, killing at least 27 people and injuring 40.

No matter how many Iraqis die, "such attacks would not change US policy", says the Bush administration. Scott McClellan, White House spokesman was quoted as saying: "This is a time of testing, but the terrorists will not prevail." He did not say how, though. Because they clearly seem to be prevailing until now, and after a year of U.S. occupation. They hit where they want, when they want, and any way they want.

Meanwhile, there seems to be a lot of change in Europe after the defeat of Aznar, in the aftermath of the 3/11 tragedy in Spain, reports Le Monde:
"L'europe en quelques jours a changé. Les attentats du 11 mars ont ébranlé tout le continent. Les événements qui ont suivi à Madrid modifient d'ores et déjà de façon irréversible l'équilibre des relations euro-américaines. George Bush a perdu beaucoup plus que le soutien indéfectible dont le gratifiait José Maria Aznar. Dès lundi, les langues se sont déliées.

En écho à José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero déclarant que 'la guerre en Irak a été un désastre et -que- l'occupation continue d'être un désastre', le ministre français des affaires étrangères s'est totalement départi de sa retenue de langage habituelle. 'La guerre en Irak était une erreur, je dirais même une faute, a déclaré lundi matin Dominique de Villepin. Nous ne pouvons pas ne pas voir qu'il y a aujourd'hui deux foyers qui nourrissent le terrorisme dans le monde : le premier, c'est la crise au Proche-Orient, et le deuxième, c'est l'Irak.'"

Remember that these European countries are democracies, not dictatorships. Therefore, the Bush administration made a mistake counting on the words of some leaders who pledged their support against the will of the vast majority of the voters. Such pledges were bound to go away, or the leaders themselves would go away (as Mr. Aznar did).

"CLAREMONT, Calif. (AP) - A professor who claimed she was targeted in a hate crime that stirred student protests at the Claremont colleges is suspected of staging the vandalism herself, police said Wednesday.

Kerri F. Dunn's car was vandalized and covered with racist, anti-Semitic and sexist epithets on March 9, leading faculty to cancel classes and students to stage rallies the following day.

Two witnesses interviewed by police investigators allegedly saw Dunn, a visiting professor of psychology at Claremont McKenna College, commit the vandalism, police said in a statement"

Spanish soldiers cheered the collapse of Aznar. It makes sense: they will be home soon.

There is a lesson here, however: if this is what it takes to go home faster, and probably not go to another needless war any time soon, Mr. Bush should not count on the vote of the men and women in the U.S. military in Iraq.

Saudi arrested those who called for political reform. I said this before: The Saudis, among others, used this tactic to get rid of potential opponents. They open the door a little to see who is out there, waiting to step out. This method never fails, so long as there are naive people who think that these rotten regimes can be "reformed".

Four Iraqis, including three children have been liberated, according to the U.S. Army. (Arabic Text).

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Who said the Germans are not funny. Check this article (German Text) in the Spiegel:

"Bagdad - 'Hasta la vista, baby'. Irakische Jugendliche markieren gerne den starken Mann und zitieren dabei vorzugsweise Actionhelden, bekannt aus Funk und Fernsehen und Raubkopien. Der markige Abschiedsgruß auf Spanisch von Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger hat aber in Bagdad eine neue Bedeutung bekommen. Die Ankündigung nach dem Machtwechsel in Spanien, die iberischen Soldaten aus dem Irak abzuziehen, trifft am Tigris auf ein geteiltes Echo - je nachdem, mit wem man spricht: Bürgern oder politisch und militärisch Verantwortlichen."

When the victims of Nazism think this way, it is a sign of real moral bankruptcy:

"The targeted assassination of a terrorist, in the course of which ten innocent Palestinians are killed, is no less moral than a decision not to act, as a result of which the terrorist succeeds in carrying out a terrorist attack in which ten innocent Israelis are killed."

This person says that you should kill 10 Palestinians in cold blood if you think that you will prevent the killing of 10 Israelis. This is the sickest argument I ever read in my studies of ethics.

This Washington Post editorial did not get the logic of the new Prime Minister of Spain:

"Mr. Zapatero said his first priority would be to fight terrorism. Yet rather than declare that the terrorists would not achieve their stated aim in slaughtering 200 Spanish civilians, he reiterated his intention to pull out from Iraq in less equivocal terms than before the election."

Well... it is called keeping good faith with voters by doing exactly what he promised them before the election. The Post did not get it because it is not familiar with such tradition in the U.S., where there are two sets of speeches: one for the time prior to elections and another for post-elections. So when a truthful politician comes along, he is called all kinds of names.

If you want to see the panic of the Neocons, read this article by George F. Will. His spin is so obvious, you will deserve an award if you finish the article. The guy appeals to everything you can imagine to make a point, but fails miserably.

Monday, March 15, 2004

"This is an oil-driven war, and I don't think any soldier signs up to fight for oil,'' says this soldier.

This is what I meant when I wrote on Sunday (scroll down) that "soldiers who died did not do so to enrich the already too rich corporate giants, nor did they -- for the most part -- own huge stocks in these companies, and make more money if the prices of the stocks improved, which is what this war was all about."

"Audiences for US journalists decline", according to the Guardian.
"The study on the state of the US news media by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, which is affiliated to Columbia University's graduate journalism school, found that only ethnic, alternative and online media were flourishing...Circulation of English-language daily newspapers has dropped 11% since 1990; network news ratings are down 34% since 1994; late-night local television news viewership has fallen by 16% since 1997; and the number of viewers watching cable news has been flat since late 2001."

Why am I not surprised?!

Spain shifts to the "coalition of the unwilling"

"Spain's new prime minister, the Socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, yesterday followed his dramatic election triumph with a pledge to bring troops home from Iraq and accusations that Tony Blair and George Bush lied about the war.
'Mr Blair and Mr Bush must do some reflection ... you can't organise a war with lies,' he said in his first radio interview after ousting the ruling conservative People's party in a Sunday election", according to the Guardian.

The New York Times also quoted him as saying, "The war has been a disaster; the occupation continues to be a great disaster. It hasn't generated anything but more violence and hate. What simply cannot be is that after it became so clear how badly it was handled there be no consequences".

And there you go, Shirin:

"My impression is that what happened now that the Socialist government in Spain has taken power will have a great impact in the November elections in North America in the duel between Bush and Kerry," Mr. Zapatero said in the radio interview.

Is Iraq an Experiment?

From today's Daily Press Briefing of Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman (thanks Roya):

"QUESTION: But how can you say that it's not going to weaken the -- the coalition? I mean it's a major ally of the U.S. I mean, you have Spain and you have Britain, and Spain now, under the influence of a new government that they might pull out?

MR. ERELI: All I'm saying is, let's wait to see what happens.

QUESTION: Yeah, but do you think you need a new strategy to deal with the situation? Like, you cannot ignore it, definitely.

MR. ERELI: I'm not ignoring it. I'm just saying let's see -- wait and see what happens, number one, and number two, the point I just made is that I think that it's, by and large, it's accepted as a given that Iraq's success -- that we all have a stake in Iraq's success; and that we're all going to contribute to it in the ways that we can. And I don't -- you know, so for that reason, you know, I'm not -- I don't think there is cause for concern about the future success of the experiment -- or not the experiment -- the future success of what we're all trying to accomplish in Iraq."

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Juan Cole is unhappy with the Iraqi constitution. I don't blame him. I too never liked it.

"The constitution specifies that the yet-to-be-elected parliament will choose a president and two vice presidents in a single vote; the president will be the candidate with the highest number of votes and his deputies will be the two runners-up. The implicit expectation is that the three will include one Shiite, one Sunni Arab, and one Kurd."

This was almost the original plan in the U.S. Constitution before the XII amendment. It had to be changed, because it did not work out. The executive has to be united. Can yo imagine an executive made of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, Muhsin Abdul Hamid, and Masoud Barazani?

Mr. Aznar is the first casualty of the war in Iraq, or the war on terror. His party lost "big time", according to this report. He, like Mr. Bush, thought that putting all his eggs in the war basket can bring him political success. Well, the voters think otherwise; and, guess what, theirs is the final word.

"Powell: Too Soon to Link Spain, al-Qaida", according to the Guardian, even though al-Qa'eda "was reported" to have admitted its responsibility for the savage acts.

Remember, he was in a great hurry to link Saddam to al-Qa'eda despite the denial of both sides. Is it because there is no war on the immediate horizon? Or is he becoming wiser than before?

Should Iraqis condemn the U.S. Soldiers in Iraq?

My answer as an Iraqi is "NO". Indeed, if I were to have any saying on such matters, Iraq should have a monument in honor of those American soldiers who died over there. On the day of unveiling the monument I would invite only the families of the soldiers (no politicians).

Those who deserve to be remembered with despise are the ones who send them over there with a plan that had no regard to their own lives, the lives of the Iraqis, and the whole Iraqi civilization (dating back to 7000 years ago).

The soldiers who died did not do so to enrich the already too rich corporate giants, nor did they -- for the most part -- own huge stocks in these companies, and make more money if the prices of the stocks improved, which is what this war was all about. Indeed, the rich guys knew even how to avoid the draft, as Mr. Bush did.

Having said that, there remains the issue of abuse of Iraqis by some soldiers. These are to be condemned in the strongest of terms. And still, the condemnation is shared between the soldiers and their superiors. I was in the army once and know how it works: if a soldier has strict and enforced orders to behave, he/she would. If the soldier knows that nothing bad would happen, some soldiers act like beasts. This is a universal law for all armies. This is why the U.S. once charged a Japanese general with the war crimes of his troops in the field (where he was not present).

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Another way to look at the war on terror:

"Here is a pop quiz. Rank the following in order of the number of American lives they claim in a typical year: food, guns, terrorists, flu and cars.

Ready? The most deadly are automobiles, which kill 117 Americans a day, or nearly 43,000 a year. Then comes flu, which (along with pneumonia, its associated disease) kills 36,000 people. Third is guns: 26,000 deaths. Fourth, food-borne illness: 5,000. And finally, terrorism, which in a typical year claims virtually no U.S. lives — with horrific exceptions like 2001. But antiterrorism efforts get most of the attention and the resources."

The writer's point is that we need to pay a lot of attention to terror and its threat, but other things should be dealt with too.

What do the extremists achieve when they act the way they did, say, in New York on 9/11 or in Spain on 3/11 (if the recent letter from al-Qa'eda is authentic)?

1. they killed or wounded completely innocent people (some are Muslims).

2. They gave a great chance for Islamophobes to write trashy books and make $ millions for selling their ignorance and falsification to the unsuspecting readers.

3. They made the life of Muslims in the West a living hell. All you need, in order to believe this, is to watch how Muslims and Middle Easterners are treated in airports and checkpoints.

4. They made an otherwise very dull and flavorless president into a "war-president", as he now calls himself.

5. The 9/11 seems to be the only asset for Mr. Bush in his re-election campaign. You know, someone's misery is another's fortune.

6. Tens of thousands of innocent Muslims (many are children and women) have been killed in the wars that followed.

this is, of course, among many other things. They deserve no sympathy and their acts have nothing to do with Islam or any human concept. Yes, as a Muslim, I feel betrayed by these insane and savage acts. And yes, as human being, I am deeply troubled by the indifference to human life which is displayed by both sides in this fight.

Justice Department inspector general confirmed Rumsfeld ''has a piece of the airplane that flew into the Pentagon.'' The Associated Press obtained a copy of the report Friday.

The Chicago Sun-Times quoted "Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita [as saying] Friday night that Rumsfeld has a shard of metal from the jetliner that struck the Pentagon on a table in his office and shows it to people as a reminder of the tragedy Pentagon workers shared Sept. 11."

"The Justice Department investigation ... criticized FBI agents for taking souvenirs from the World Trade Center site", according to the same article.

I have been asked about the reasons behind the Iraqi people's ignorance about the new constitution.
"Are these people illiterate?" Scott asks.

No they are not. Indeed, Iraqis were the ones who invented writing, so their literacy should not be questioned.

Simply, the document was not released until it was signed by the puppets of the occupation. Then it was published on the Internet, where you found it. With the exception of a few, Iraqis do not have access to the Internet.

The way it works with decent constitutional processes, the government publishes the document in massive numbers and gives it -- free of charge -- to the people to read. This has not happened. Iraqis were not treated as a relevant party to this constitution. Their name was in the preamble, but they were not present in the writing, the signing, or the ratification.

Friday, March 12, 2004

"Bush tells it like it isn't".
This long article is very important. It shows that Bush's interview with Tim Russert not only was clumsy and nonsensical, but it also contained "a number of assertions that were patently false or - at the very least - misleading."

Four Iraqi policemen were accused of killing two Americans in Iraq. These policemen, keep in mind, were recruited and trained by the U.S. and were put on the street of Iraq. How do you like this for "nation-building"?

The Shi'ites continue to condemn the constitution. Muqtada al-Sadr is comparing it to the infamous Declaration of Balfour. I compare it to a cheap used toilet paper.

Iraqi police almost captured Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi. At the same hour of the same day, he also avoided being caught by the police in six other countries. This Shi'ite clergyman was quoted as saying that Zarqawi was saved by the intervention of the Bulgarian soldiers. He did not say how.

The majority of Israelis justify the beating of women, according to a new poll, says al-Hayat. The poll, that was published by an Israeli paper, claims that 57% of Israelis say that violence against women is justified all the time, or most of the time. The sad thing is that 53% of Israeli women blame the woman for the causes of such violence. 59% of the new immigrants were among those with anti-women attitudes. Al-Hayat believes that Arabs were not included in the survey (maybe because they wanted to get nice results by excluding the "notorious wife-beaters").

This is a sad day not just for Spain, but for the world. Wheather it is al-Qa'ida or the ETA group, it is clear that the so-called "war on terror" is not making the world any safer.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Are the U.S., UK, and Spain becoming "the axis of coups d'Etat"?
Le ministre zimbabwéen de l'intérieur says so, according to Le Monde.
I could not find anything on this story in the Washington Post and the New York Times (my first preferences), therefore, to make you happy, I went to the newspapers of Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe Post directed me to a U.S. paper called the Seattle Post Intelligencer.
Here is what makes the story interesting:
"Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea say they have arrested 79 suspected mercenaries who were plotting to overthrow Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang.
Most of the suspects were arrested after arriving on a jetliner in Harare, Zimbabwe, allegedly to pick up weapons before heading to the oil-rich west African nation. Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge said they could face the death penalty", reports the Seattle Post.
The Guardian had the following to say: "The affair triggered a backlash in South Africa against its growing numbers of mercenaries. The foreign affairs minister, Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma, said she was in no rush to assist the South Africans in Zimbabwe, or another group which is under house arrest in Equatorial Guinea. 'They are not exactly innocent travellers finding themselves in a difficult situation,' she said."
There is also a report on the website of Fox News.

Don't miss Juan Cole's article in the Guardian:
"The interim constitution contains a clause, insisted upon by the Sunni Kurds, which says the future permanent constitution will be "ratified if a majority of the voters in Iraq approve and if two thirds of the voters in three or more governorates do not reject it". Shia spokesmen complain that some Iraqi provinces are lightly inhabited, with only a few hundred thousand residents. They say it would not be right to allow less than a million people to reject a constitution supported by the other 24 million Iraqis."

There was an excellent interview today with Anthony Shadid, the reporter of the Washington Post in Baghdad. Too bad, there is no audio or a transcript on the The News Hour website. However, you may see the interview with Juan Cole if you scroll down to March 8. I think Juan was too nice with Feisal Istrabadi, one of those responsible for the so-called Iraqi constitution.

The "previously" only democracy in the Middle East (no longer, after Iraq and Afghanistan became domocracies), is allowing a company to ban the use of Arabic by its employees. "McDonald's...has banned the use of Arabic, which is an official language of Israel spoken by 20% of the population." Arabic has been banned just like the non-official languages like Russian.
Of course, I never entered a McDonald's in my life. But those who do should inquire if this racist behaviour is in place. I would not be surprised if it is. In another part of the article, we learn that the wonderful and democratic Israeli Knesset has been, until this week, forcing Arab workers "to wear distinctive helmets", which reminds you of the way Jews used to be forced to wear special marks by racist governments.

In the real world, one never does business with anything from a vendor after discovering that he is corrupt. This is the rule, but the U.S. government is the exception. "Washington is paying the Iraqi National Congress exile group headed by Ahmad Chalabi about $340,000 (£190,000) a month for intelligence about insurgents and other matters, US officials said yesterday," according to the "Guardian. This group of swindlers have already given "intelligence from inside Iraq that critics now say was largely spun to alarm Washington into taking action against Baghdad."

"Abu Abbas, the Palestinian who masterminded the infamous hijacking of a cruise ship 19 years ago, has died in US military custody in Iraq, where American forces seized him last April, it emerged last night." According to the Guardian, "his death ... was a result of 'natural causes'".

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

This is how legitimate the new Iraqi constitution is:
"In several interviews in Karrada, a crowded commercial district in the Iraqi capital, the dominant theme was ignorance of the interim constitution's basic features, even among those who said they watch and read the news regularly. Those who were familiar with the outline of the new law said they doubted it would produce political stability and democracy after the U.S. civil occupation officially ends on June 30", according to the Washington Post.
Isn't it an insult to Iraqis to begin the document with: "The people of Iraq...." Here are the people of Iraq saying, "We have no idea what is in this law."

If I have to pick one good thing in the new so-called constitution, I would have to point at the making of Kurdish an official language with Arabic. I always advocated this cause in Iraq, ever since I spent my beautiful undergraduate years in Musol, in a college with a huge Kurdish student population. Finally, the language of the Kurds is now recognized somewhere. I hope that the other countries, where Kurdish is spoken, will have the decency to do the same. I will continue lobbying to have Kurdish taught in Berkeley. It is a beutiful language and it deserves a place in the front row.

Mr. Chalabi goes to Washington. A curious article that talks about the making of a puppet.

Monday, March 08, 2004

"The father of Iraq's nuclear bomb program denied Monday that Saddam Hussein tried to restart his atomic activities, but acknowledged Iraq tried to conceal its banned weapons operations before destroying them 13 years ago", reports the Guardian.

I believe him for a simple reason: None of these guys liked Saddam, who humiliated them all along. With the absence of loyalty to the dictator, or any retaliation against them or their families, it would serve these scientists' best interest to tell the Americans about any weapons or programs (if such thing this is there) and be safe, and possibly profit, rather than lie and face consequences.

It is interesting that Khidr Hamza, who was EVERYDAY on Fox and its sister propaganda machines telling the world that he worked on Saddam's Bomb program and that he was inches away from having the Bomb (he even wrote a book), is not questioned about his falsification. Last I checked, he was rewarded with a well-paying job with the CPA. His testimonies before Congress went very far to convince some lawmakers that a war was the only way to go. Is anyone reviewing his sworn testimonies? NOT AT ALL, as far as I know. Indeed, he is so harmful to the war lovers now that no one even mentions his name.

The text of the Iraqi so-called Constitution. Notice that the preamble states "The people of Iraq...". To my knowledge, it is Mr. L. Paul Bremer who is going to ratify this document, not the people of Iraq. This is an insult to the people of Iraq to have their name used this way. Until THEY have a saying in the process, the preamble is false. The swindlers who signed the document today do not qualify to speak in the name of the people of Iraq.

The law will allow Israeli-Iraqi citizenship, with full rights to own property in Iraq, vote, and hold office -- including higher office -- at the same time Israel says NO to the return of Palestinians to their stolen land. I believe that this kind of issue should be decided by the elected Assembly, not by this so-called constitution.

I agree with the forced labor clause. But in the same item, slavery in Iraq was abolished. What is that? Do these abolitionists think that Iraq has slaves and slave traders? If anything, it gives this impression to those who do not know Iraq and its society.

"No one has got what they really wanted but everyone has had a veto," says
Toby Dodge of the Warwick University.

He is right. Take for example this much-debated article (61) (C): "The general referendum will be successful and the draft constitution ratified if a majority of the voters in Iraq approve and if two-thirds of the voters in three or more governorates do not reject it." This means that any of the three groups can prevent any draft of a constitution that does not meets its demands, no matter how silly they might be. The Kurds with three governorates, the Sunnis with three governorates, and the Shi'ite, who have many more than three governorates. This is the most absurd item to agree to, considering the bitterness and fears and the lack of trust among the key figures in Iraq.

consider also the appointment of judges: it is done by the Higher Juridical Council and the Presidency Council with no involvement of the elected legislature to make sure that dirty tricks do not prevail and every Chalabi, Hakim, Bahr al-Ulum, and so on will be judges (they did this when appointing the Ministers, so I am not dreaming here).

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Another anti-Mel Gibson article. The writer is talking about an interview Gibson's father gave to a talk-show. Yet this writer, who rightfully identified Anti-Semitism as a "European disease'', could not resist the temptation to drag the Arabs in, quite unnecessarily, I dare say.

If you can read Arabic, don't miss this article by Edward Said. It is being published for the first time in Arabic, per the wish of the late author. I will post the link for tomorrow's second part. I will also look for a site where the English version is.

update: Here is the second part of the Edward Said article.

This is a very well argued and worthy article by ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI. Forget about the name of the author and go right away to what he says.

"US troops in Afghanistan are operating outside the rule of law, using excessive force to make arrests, mistreating detainees and holding them indefinitely in a 'legal black hole' without any legal safeguards," a report published today says." Human Rights Watch is also critical of the situation, according to Brad Adams, executive director of the organisation's Asia division. "The United States is setting a terrible example in Afghanistan on detention practices," said Mr. Adams. He claimed that there "is compelling evidence suggesting that US personnel have committed acts against detainees amounting to torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment." This kind of situation can only undermine the credibility of the U.S. and its assertions about advocating democracy and human rights in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, even before the most naive and unsuspecting. The U.S. of course has a poor record when it comes to disciplining its troops for this kind of stuff. Instead, the government is going around making bilateral treaties to exempt U.S. soldiers from any legal accountability before any international court.

As to the situation of women in Afghanistan, who were liberated by Mr. Bush, we are told that "more and more young women have set themselves on fire, desperate to escape the cruelties of family life and harsh tribal traditions that show no sign of changing despite the end of Taliban rule and the dawn of democracy... Daughters are often exchanged between families, are given in marriage as compensation for crimes, or are married to men two or three times their age," according to this report in the NY Times. Of course, it is naive to ask: what is Mr. Karzai doing about all of this?

Also, al-Hayat reports that the growing of Opium in 2003 in Afghanistan alone is equal to 75% of its growing in the entire world. I guess no one can dispute the accomplishments of the Bush-Karazai efforts to improve the agricultural efficiency in Afghanistan.

"[W]hile the American ideological factory is working nonstop, it vanishes when it is required to translate its ideas into acts", says this Haaretz article. This writer is desperately needed in either the Washington Post or the New York Times.

In another article, we learn that "Israel is refusing to return to the United States enriched uranium it received from the Americans many years ago for the refueling of the nuclear research facility at Nahal Sorek, according to an internal U.S. Department of Energy report." It seems that the Israelis have been telling their allies to go jump in the lake since 1996. "The report stated that the efforts made to retrieve enriched uranium were not sufficient." Why not?

This article (Arabic Text) can be very interesting for those who like the Shi'ite-Sunni debate on Islamic law (fiqh). It is ironic, however, that the Wahhabi teacher Muhammed al-Nujaymi calls the Shi'ites gulaat (extremists). He considers any talk about doctrinal similarities is "an insult to the inteligence". Yet he is so kind to accept to debate them "for the purpose of talking some reason into them." Still, I think the article is very useful. As usual, Dr. Yousuf al-Qaradhawi is remarkable.

A new "fatwa" by a Saudi shaykh to prohibit viewing the American sponsored TV satellite (al-Hurrah). He said that it is "a corrupt TV that aims at fighting Islam." Now I must say that I dislike this Shaykh and al-Hurrah together. The fight between him and al-Hurrah is the best example on the clash of stupidities.
Al-Hurrah cannot be worse than LBC and al-Mustaqbal (both owned completely or partially by his own government) and viewed with burning desires in his country. His fatwa regarding al-Hurrah is an opportunistic way to tell the people to do what they already did. Here is how Arabs view al-Hurrah:

"The Pentagon, the State department and the CIA have combined resources to launch Al-Hurrah (The Free, in Arabic) with a horde of cheap reporters and commentators who will meet the same fate as that of the forgotten VOA. Listening to Al-Hurrah, an Arab can easily smell a rat. The Palestinian resistance fighters are labelled as terrorists, the American forces in Iraq are not the occupiers but liberators. As if this wasn’t enough, the Palestinian and Iraqis are reported to be getting tired of the resistance and want more McDonald hamburgers and Pop Music. Al-Hurrah was meant to reduce anti-American sentiment in the Middle East. The Anti-Americanism in Arabia is mainly a result of US double standards and selective morality when it comes to the Arab Israeli conflict. If that is to remain without change, Al-Harrah attempt will be close to being mission impossible. The Americans refuse to press Israel to abide by 31 UN Security Council Resolutions which it had ignored. The US also refuses to mention Israel Weapons of Mass Destruction while it invaded Iraq and continues to press Libya and Iran on the same issue. But the worst of all, the Americans aren’t leaving Iraq. Many believe Al-Hurrah is a waste of efforts and resources ..."

As you see, Islam will be fine, with or without al-Hurrah around.

Another Iraqi star fades away...

Décès de l’artiste et théoricien irakien Chaker Hassen
"Chaker Hassen, figure de proue de l’art irakien, n’est plus. Décédé à Bagdad, jeudi dernier des suites d’une longue maladie, il laisse une œuvre tourmentée et tragique qui reflétait depuis longtemps le drame de la société irakienne. Plasticien et théoricien réfractaire, son art était celui d’un être dont la sensibilité à fleur de peau avait une conscience aiguë de l’existence et présageait déjà le drame de l’une des plus grandes civilisations de l’humanité. La plupart de ses œuvres, calcinées volontairement, étaient à l’image de la conscience arabe elle-même, vouée à l’échec et au suicide. Son passage à Tunis en 1997 (galerie Artémis) fut très remarqué par les amateurs d’art et il fut qualifié comme «l’incendiaire de la pensée négativiste, aveugle et insensible» aussi bien de l’Orient que de l’Occident."

I keep thanking Mel Gibson for his film, although I believe that he is dead wrong in thinking that the Jews had anything to do with the crucifixion of Jesus. But thanks to Mr. Gibson, here is another article that mentions Islam, without forcing a negative motif next to the word. Two more films and the journalists will leave Islam and the Muslims alone for a very long time.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

"Major Censorship Action Alert for Middle East Studies"

My good friend, Juan Cole, writes about the Neocons' attack on the Middle East Studies. He kindly agreed that I post his comments in full:

"Some of you know that some unsavory political forces have convinced the House of Representatives to create a Big Brother committee to police the thought of university professors who write about world affairs. The bill is HR 3077. The main goal of this legislation is to impose an ideological agenda on university teaching, research and writing about issues like the Middle East. The point of the committee is to warp academic study and ensure that independent researchers are not allowed to be heard. But it was precisely the imposition of such ideological litmus tests in Washington that led to the case of the missing Weapons of Mass Destruction and the conviction that Iraq was 3 years away from having a nuclear bomb, both propositions completely false. It would not be doing the United States any favors to muzzle the academics, as well.
I plead with all the thousands of you who have expressed interest in this site and read it frequently, to FAX your senator, or the senate generally, expressing your conviction that this advisory committee be excised from the final bill. The contact information is below. An email is better than nothing, but the FAX is what would get the job done.
The fact is that international studies in the United States is extremely underfunded. Probably Federal spending on it annually is about equivalent to buying two F-16e fighter jets. In the entire country, at all universities and colleges. It is nothing compared to the need. Among the main programs is Title VI, which funds over 100 area studies centers at major universities. But it funds just 15 or so fully fledged Middle East Centers, in the entire country! (A Middle East center typically has 20-30 faculty members who study the Middle East proper since 600 A.D., in various disciplines, though if you add in the scholars who work on the ancient Near East and the people who work on the Caucasus and other related areas, it might come to 60). Actually, usually a lot of the money goes to language fellowships for graduate students. But since nowadays it costs around $20,000 to pay tuition and a stipend even at a state university, you can see that not many students can be funded for Arabic or Persian language study at that rate.
When I came to the University of Michigan in 1984, we were able to give about 20 such fellowships annually. The Reagan administration annually zero-budgeted Title VI, which is to say that Reagan tried to abolish Federal support for things like Middle East Studies altogether, every year for 8 years. Congress always put the money back, but it did not increase it at the rate of inflation. By the late 1990s, the University of Michigan had been denied funding for its Center altogether, and only 2 or 3 graduate students were being supported to study Arabic, Persian, or Turkish. Now, these same old-time Reaganites are coming and saying that we haven't done our jobs and need to be watched.
Although the Middle East is a huge policy concern for the US now, we probably don't have more than about 1,000 full time faculty members who specialize in the area, know the languages, and write mainly about it. That is a tiny group for a region stretching from Morocco to Afghanistan, and needing to be covered for the past 1400 years.
The Neocons would have you believe that the Middle East specialists at universities have fallen down on the job by not all becoming terrorism experts. But none of the Neocons who did Middle East or South Asian studies wrote their dissertations on anything to do with US security, and most still have not contributed to its security--often quite the opposite. Many of them were hand in hand with creating the Afghan Mujahidin and al-Qaeda by throwing billions of dollars at such groups in the 1980s. University professors mainly research in the areas they teach, and most teaching jobs are for history or cultural studies. This is what the students want, and nowadays universities pay attention to student demand. These positions are largely at small liberal arts colleges or private universities, and most are not supported by the Federal government, so I should think those institutions can shape the positions as they please. If the US government wanted lots of Arabists at lots of security studies programs in universities, it should have spent some money on that goal. It did not.
But it is also true that a significant part of the US government is now busily reading the books and articles about the Middle East produced by Middle East academics at US universities. Without that corpus of literature, these brave and dedicated men and women would be flying blind. Doing anything to gut this academic establishment would be extremely self-defeating for a US that is going to be increasingly engaged with the Middle East. The tack of trying to intervene in the region without knowledge of it has been shown to be a disaster.
Frankly, the Federal government doesn't make use of the experts it has. There are only a handful of us who write professionally about Iraq, because for most of our lives it was hard to do field work there or get access to primary sources. I could mention Peter Sluglett at Utah, Yitzhak Nakash at Brandeis, and a handful of others. I don't know about them, but I have never, ever even once been invited to a State Department conference on Iraq. And, as we all know, even if I had been it would not have mattered, since the Neocons at the Pentagon threw all the work Tom Warrick at State had done on the Future of Iraq project into the trash can and prevented Tom himself from going to join the CPA! This is what I would have told anyone who had asked me a year and a half ago about the pros and cons of going to war in Iraq.

The removal of Jean-Bertrand Aristide is called "coup d'Etat moderne", according to Le Monde. The U.S. and France still refer to it as une démission volontaire.

"U.S. Team Is Sent to Develop Case in Hussein Trial", says the New York Times. After all is put together, then the Iraqis will take it from there. The head prosecutor is going to be (who else?) Sam Chalabi, who now calls himself Salem Chalabi to have an Iraqi flavor. The defense lawyer for Saddam will probably be a Chalabi as well.

One of my esteemed professors kindly sent me this list of names and contact information for senior administrators and librarians at institutions in Iraq. It is very helpful for those who need such info.

Finally, the complaints of my friend, As'ad AbuKhalil, are echoed in the sceince community. "NASA's celebration last week of gritty evidence that Mars once had enough water to support life has spawned more questions". George Washington University sociologist Amitai Etzioni is one of those who began asking such questions:
"What difference does it make to anyone's life?" he said. "Will it grow any more food? Cure a disease? This doesn't even broaden our horizons."

The administration says, "there is water on Mars and we will find out where it went and have that information available for the press along with the information on Iraq's WMD's, no later than a week after the November elections". They backed this theory by citing the "fact" that Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi was detected on Mars many times. "How could he survive on Mars without water?", says a the spokesman.

This article about Chalabi sent a bad chill down my spine. I have seen this before. For those who can't read Arabic, here is some hint:
"He hired his relatives and friends in the vital positions of the state...including the ministers of oil, trade, and treasury...and handpicked the heads of the biggest three banks in Iraq", remember his banking accomplishments in Jordan, which is mentioned in detail in the same article, wherein the writer says that "he established the Betra bank with the help of the Royal Family in Jordan and, when the 300 million dollars vanished, Chalabi escaped to Syria in box of a car with the help of Prince Hasan, the Crown Prince of Jordan at the time." The article lists other powers in Chalabi's hands now, including "the intellegence agency and the mechanism of de-Baathification." In other words, Mr. Chalabi is the new Mahdawi of Iraq.

update: Thanks to Shirin, here is an English version of the article.

Now I can sleep well, knowing that G.W. Bush, an expert on constitutional law, has "hailed a new [Iraqi] interim constitution". Remember that even the swindlers who wrote it are not quite satisfied with it and the U.S. is so doubtful about it that it will be ratified by Bremer rather than the Iraqi people.
Mr. Bush also finally remembered to comment on the Karbala and Baghdad murders almost a week later -- he did better by his dog, spot, than by the victims of these attacks, who died because of his failure to secure the country.
"The killers' strategy will fail", he said, but did not say HOW!!!

Veli Nasr says that Zarqawi mabe there, but he can't be making all this fuss, from Pakistan and Afghanistan all the way to Baghdad and Karbala, all alone.

Please join me in congratulating the Iraqi soccer team for its big win (4-0) against 'Oman. These young men, playing out of their land and despite the lack of even the basics, are making history. Adnan Hamad, the team's head couch was a master. He certainly made the brothers in 'Oman reconsider the huge money the have wasted on Mr. Machala. By the way, the team of 'Oman is my favorite when it plays against all teams, other than Iraq of course.

"Deux incendies volontaires contre des mosquées", reports Le Monde. "Le premier incendie s'est produit vendredi vers 2 heures du matin et a totalement dévasté la salle de prière de Seynod, d'une superficie d'environ 80 mètres carrés," says the report.

Maybe it's time to build a "Security Fence" in the middle of Haute-Savoie.

This article in the Spiegel Online is very interesting. "Der Bombenterror im Irak zielt längst nicht mehr in erster Linie auf die amerikanischen Besatzer", argues Claus Christian Malzahn. Well... they may be aiming primarily at the American occupation, but Iraqis are certainly the ones who bleed.
Measures must be taken to prevent any bloodshed, from any nationality.

Is there a resentment in Germany because of the use of English? For a "long time everyone became accustomed to the presentation of 'English as a world language'. Even 'Denglisch', that fashionable mix out of German and English, has economic trend in Germany, all over the media, advertising and youth culture... Even Spanish and Arabic stood up", says this writer (German Text), "Do we speak English forever?"

Friday, March 05, 2004

Haaretz published an interesting letter to the editor. While I disagree with the double-standard use of terminology, I think the writer has made a good point (notice that the Palestinian is called a terrorist, but the person in case #4, who supposedly does exactly the same thing, is simply called a "leader of a Jewish underground cell". Here is the letter:

"Regarding 'Those who cry with one eye' by Asa Kasher, February 29, and 'The Israeli army's house philosopher' by Reuven Pedatzur, February 24.

I wonder how Asa Kasher and Reuven Pedatzur would resolve the following dilemmas:

1. A Palestinian terrorist who is masterminding suicide bombings, and successfully evading capture, has been sighted in his aunt's Nablus home where he has arrived for five minutes to comfort her on the loss of a relative. There is no time to send forces to seize him before he fades back into the underground. A rocket from a plane can kill him, as well as several relatives, guests and passersby. How many innocent deaths would be acceptable toward ending his murderous career?

2. Same as above, but the house is in Umm el-Fahm, the innocents killed will be Israeli citizens who are Arabs.

3. Same as above, but the guests in Umm el-Fahm include Israeli Jews who were friends of the deceased relative.

4. The leader of a Jewish underground cell, who continually evades the security forces, who has bombed and is known to be preparing further bombings of Arab schools in East Jerusalem, has been sighted among his supporters in an extremist Jewish settlement. Only a rocket can stop him before he escapes to safety. Under what circumstances should the rocket be fired?

If the answers are different for these four cases, what is the basis of ethically correct action?"

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