Thursday, June 30, 2005

"With the Aug. 15 deadline for writing a new constitution bearing down, a cadre of powerful, mostly secular Shiite politicians is pushing for the creation of an autonomous region in the oil-rich south of Iraq, posing a direct challenge to the nation's central authority."

I'm all for it. What is good for the Kurds should be good for the people of Basra. Fifty years of drinking contaminated water is more than enough for the region that sits on half of Iraq's oil. Previous governments and the current government have been guilty of ignoring the people of Basra.

Today I was watching the Inspector General in the Ministry of public Services and he said the ministry allocated only 2% of its budget to Basra. Basra is the second largest city in Iraq. This is outrageous. Even if they allocate the money equally among the provinces, Basra will have 5% of the budget. Now we know they must steal 50% of the money before allocation. This still going to leave Basra with 2.5% of the budget. How did it end up with 2% is beyond me.

Full text: George Bush's Iraq speech at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as provided by the White House.

"The work in Iraq is difficult and dangerous. Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed. Every picture is horrifying and the suffering is real. Amid all this violence, I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the future security of our country...."

But this editorial writer disagrees:

"Sadly, Mr. Bush wasted his opportunity last night, giving a speech that only answered questions no one was asking. He told the nation, again and again, that a stable and democratic Iraq would be worth American sacrifices, while the nation was wondering whether American sacrifices could actually produce a stable and democratic Iraq."

Well, this is the bad thing about wars. You can time when to engage in one and how, but once this happens, others take it from there. It is unfair to ask how this will end and who will win -- especially when "win" does not necessarily mean a military victory. All we can do at this point is hope for the best and keep praying.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld promised Iraq 12 years of insurgency. That time goes for the presence of American troops there as well.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Senator Dick Durbin's statement on the floor made him number one target of the torture-supporting crowd.

Here is the part that angered many people:

"When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here -- I almost hesitate to put them in the record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:

On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold....On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.

If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

My interview with SF Gate:

You teach students in the United States about Islamic ethics and the Quran. How well do you think Americans understand Islam today?

I would say that the average American is more informed about Islam now than prior to 9/11. Before 9/11, most Americans were either completely ignorant or misinformed. But there's been a lot of learning since then.

Still, what would you say are the biggest misconceptions?

Many Americans still think of Islam and terrorism as one and the same thing. This is a big problem. I mean, there are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world. If all of them are terrorists, the world is doomed, right? There are a certain number of Muslims who are taking their violent agenda and giving it a mask that is Islamic, but this is not what Islam is. I defy anyone to bring me one verse in the Quran that advocates violence. The Quran talks about fighting and other things, but always in self-defense, and even the verses that mention fighting say that peace is the way to go.

Some critics have faulted Muslim leaders for not speaking out against violence conducted in the name of Islam. What do you think?

Muslims have been speaking out against violence all along. The fact that some people are not listening is not their fault. If you go to the majority of Muslim mosques in the world today you will see people calling for peace and denouncing violence. You will hear that same message at conferences in the Muslim world. This isn't surprising when you consider that the people who are paying most heavily for terrorism are Muslims. If you look at the people who have died in Iraq, it's mostly Muslims, by a ratio of 10 to 1. So, it's in the best interest of Muslim people to denounce violence, and they are advocating against it -- writing books, writing articles. I'm only one of hundreds, if not thousands, of Muslims who are using their voices to do that.

When you were living in Iraq, you fought to overturn Saddam Hussein's regime during the popular uprising of 1991. However, you opposed the recent U.S. invasion. Why?

I anticipated chaos, and it happened. I mean, they [the Bush administration] have been wrong in everything they have done there. And when things have worked well, it hasn't been because of them; it is despite their plans. There is no nice way to run an occupation. The moment you occupy a country, you have killing, torture and violations of international law. The last two years have been very, very bad for Iraqis. For every good day, there are about two months of chaos and horror.

What do you think is going to happen in Iraq? Do you think the country will eventually stabilize itself?

Yes. Iraqis have done very well in handling themselves with adversity. They have gotten their country back much faster than was planned. The original plans were to have a military ruler of Iraq for five years. Iraqis got a government within a year and a half. People are already being sent to jail for corruption and theft. Terrorists are being captured. So Iraqis, if they are left to their own devices, they will do very well. And if there is any trouble, I think it will be because of the interference of people who are trying to pass a different agenda.

What role do you think Islam should play in building the new Iraq?

More than 95 percent of Iraqis are Muslim. These aren't just Muslims; they are practicing Muslims. In a population with that kind of majority, the religion has to be factored in future plans. It's important to remember that whatever small success has occurred in Iraq so far has been the result of people using Islam as a positive force. The elections were not an American idea; they were the idea of [leading cleric] Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani, who insisted on them. He also has been using his leverage to denounce violence. After the collapse of the regime, there was a wave of looting, and it was the mosques that called for people to return what was looted, and the majority of the things were brought back to the mosque. The mosque has been the only institution in Iraq really functioning in a positive way.

What about the fear that Iraq will become a theocracy, like Iran? Are you concerned about that?

This is not going to....

Monday, June 13, 2005

"I voted for the resolution to commit the troops, and I feel that we've done about as much as we can do," said Rep. Walter Jones, who coined the phrase "freedom fries" to lash out at the French for opposing the Iraq invasion.

It seems that he is about to coin the phrase "freedom flight."

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Al-Hayat -- a London-based Saudi-funded paper -- could not find anyone in Iraq to report on his misery. So the reporter had to go to Saddam's home village to tell the world about the hard economic situation in the mother of all monsters (Arabic text).

Abbas, you wrote:

"'Bush holds up Turkey democracy as example.'

This is because he has no clue how it works in Turkey. It is not a democracy; it is a state run by the military. Unelected generals have full oversight on what laws get passed."

Maybe Bush knows more about Turkey than you think. Your description actually sounds exactly like his concept of democracy.


John C.

OK John, I stand corrected.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

"Bush holds up Turkey democracy as example."

This is because he has no clue how it works in Turkey. It is not a democracy; it is a state run by the military. Unelected generals have full oversight on what laws get passed.

If Turkey is to serve as an example for democracy, it would be example of what not to do.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

"A group of American security guards in Iraq have alleged they were beaten, stripped and threatened with a snarling dog by US marines when they were detained after an alleged shooting incident outside Falluja last month.
'I never in my career have treated anybody so inhumane,' one of the contractors, Rick Blanchard, a former Florida state trooper, wrote in an email quoted in the Los Angeles Times. 'They treated us like insurgents, roughed us up, took photos, hazed [bullied] us, called us names.'" ...s.a.d..m.u.s.i.c.!!!

Iraq is in the process of putting a stop to Australian junk exports. You get real money to send real flour. One sign that thieves are no longer the only decision-makers.

"The new government of Ibrahim al-Jaafari, which said it wants to curb graft in the system, is requiring the approval of a Cabinet-level committee for all big ticket contracts, including three million tonnes of mostly Australian wheat a year."

Friday, June 03, 2005

A comment from Shirin:

"Hi Abbas,

Zarqawi is not only superman who can travel the entire width of Iraq with one leg and a chest split open by shrapnel, and without being "captured or killed" (or even seen), he is apparently able to charm the Iranians into believing that he is only kidding when he says Shi`a Islam and all its adherents should be erased from the earth, and that he really loves the Shi`is like his brothers."

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A federal judge has ordered the US Army to release more than 100 photographs and several videos taken by an American soldier relating to detainee abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, court documents say.

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