Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"MOST UNWELCOME SURPRISE After being picked up at the airport in Damascus, John Denson, an international lawyer in Houston, felt something hard near his feet. It was an Uzi. He asked the driver if it was his, "and he replied that he had his own, and that one was mine, 'just in case we need it,' " Mr. Denson said. "It is amazing how little room a Mercedes has in the back seat when you're trying to avoid touching a loaded Uzi."" (I don't believe this story. And notice that the weapon of choice is an Uzi. And in Damascus).
The Large Pine, Saint-Tropez, c. 1892-93. Paul Signac.

Monday, January 30, 2006

"Afghans Find Key Promises Unfulfilled"
I just read an article by Fu'ad Matar in which he offers fawning praise for King `Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Matar was a staunch Nasserist journalist when he worked for An-Nahar in 60s and 70s. He then became a staunch Saddam Husaynist, and Saddam funded his London-based magazine, At-Tadamun. The magazine was a gift for the fawning biography that Matar wrote of Saddam. Saddam was so pleased with the product, that it was released in three languages. After the end of Saddam's media subsidies in 1991, Matar became a Saudi advocate. His journey is quite symbolic of the trajectory of the Lebanese press.
"Outrage in Kenya as government spends £7m on fleet of Mercedes" (Hariri Inc spends more than that per week on bribes)
Submit to our conditions, or starve. (Imagine if the US Congress makes US aid to Israel conditional on Israeli end to violence, hatred, and occupation).
You have your outrages; and I have my own outrages. While many Arab/Muslims are busy being outraged over a Danish cartoon (Saudi Arabia has recalled its ambassador from Denmark and Libya has closed its embassy in Copenhagen, the Danish capital. Kuwait called the cartoons "despicable racism." Iran's foreign minister termed them "ridiculous and revolting."), I choose to be outraged over this: "Aya was the second child killed by the Israeli army last week. Soldiers near Ramallah shot 13-year-old Munadel Abu Aaalia in the back as he walked along a road reserved for Jewish settlers with two friends. The army said the boys planned to throw rocks at Israeli cars, which the military defines as terrorism."
According to one study by pro-regime Syrian MP, Muhammad Habash, 30% of Syrians attend the Friday prayers in the 9000 mosques of the country. The Syrian regime has established 300 religious schools (I hate it when people in US congress and media now use the word "madrasah", not knowing that it merely means "school.")
Hi. Do you like being "liberated"?
Hamas promised (before the election) to release Ahmad Sa`dat. I shall wait.
This is absurd. In Arabic newspapers, some Western companies took out ads to declare that they are not Danish. This while Arab governments are doing business with Israeli companies. Personally, I boycott Israel and Israeli products, but will not boycott Denmark or Danish companies. Also, I don't need lectures about cultural or religious sensitivity from people who abuse their Sri Lankan maids in Lebanon or in Gulf countries.
AlArabiyya TV kept saying all day today that King `Abdullah of Saudi Arabia received a "royal welcome" in Malaysia. Ya. He is the king. OK.
Hamas was yesterday giving assurances to capitalists around the world. It issued a statement in which it stressed its support for "private enterprise." Hamas also said: "Palestine is part of the world economic system and part of the tools of world market." I wish Karl Marx was alive; only to explain that last phrase for me.
This is a good and concise article on Hamas. For English readers, I recommend the book by Ziad Abu Amr (but it is dated now and is not critical--see my review of it in JPS), and the book by Khaled Hroub.
Lebananese public opinion survey: view of the US. 50.4% of Lebanese people consider the US role in Lebanon as [undesirable] guardianship* over Lebanon, while 38.2% view it as support for Lebanon. And 40% of the Lebanese surveyed consider Jumblat's attacks on Hizbullah to be in the interest of Lebanon, while 60% disagreed. And 31.1% of support actions to overthrow the Syrian regime, while 68.9% disagreed. Looking into the sectarian details of the survey, the attitudes of the Sunnis are quite interesting, and contrary to what is being projected by Hariri Inc. Druzes and Christians seem to be converging in their foreign policy views; but the Sunnis seem to be in disagreement with Jumblat (and his Hariri allies) in the attitude toward Hizbullah and the evaluation of the US role, and the role of Jumblat. That could possibly explain the silence of Jumblat in recent days. This plus Saudi order that he be silenced as was reported yesterday in the column by Niqula Nasif in AnNahar.
*The word in question is wisayah, which in the Lebanese political context is best translated as undesirable guardianship.

Struggle in Saudi Arabia: Sahar Mandur of As-Safir is right. Why is AlJazeera devoting so much time to the coverage of Arab/Muslim protests against Danish and Norwegian publications? (All Arab media are now consumed by that story.) I mean, it is not that the region is not suffering from foreign occupations, poverty, and oppression. And the picture above is really about "struggle" in Saudi Arabia. The store is informing customers that they don't carry any Danish products. That should take care of our problems in the Arab world. (My mother, I found out yesterday, is also quite angry at the Danish press. She heard about my comments here about that, and she strongly disagrees. She argues that if you are outraged at the Danish publications, it does not mean that you are not outraged at the other issues.)
Kata'ib Shuhada' Al-Aqsa (or the branch that is loyal to Muhammad Dahlan) held a rally today, and issued threats to Denmark and to Danish people who "dare visit Gaza". Muhammad Dahlan, and those who support him, don't see the violent Israeli occupation, and American support for the occupation, because they are busy offering critiques of Danish cartoons. Those are the priorities, among other, that caused the defeat of the Fath Movement.
Define the Bush Doctrine: "One official recounted how President Bush had personally but unsuccessfully appealed to Mr. Abbas at the White House last October to disarm Hamas before the elections...What Mr. Abbas instead offered at the White House was a plan to avoid a civil war among Palestinians by winning the election and only then disarming Hamas and folding it into the mainstream. The administration resolved, in turn, to support Mr. Abbas's political party with whatever diplomacy or resources it could....To help Mr. Abbas, the United States and its European partners mobilized hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for the Palestinians to meet their payrolls, field their security forces, make welfare payments and build infrastructure."
Lebanonese arithmetic: The Lebanese Parliament today met and approved the budget for 2005 (yes, last year). The Lebanese parliamentarians approved the expenses and revenues that already were spent or received. According to that budget, 39% of the Lebanese budget goes to paying interest on the foreign [Hariri] debt.
"According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York watchdog group, at least 61 journalists have been killed in Iraq since the United States invaded in 2003. Bombings and other insurgent attacks killed 36 journalists while American fire killed 14, the group says."
The Poor Man's Store, 1885. John Peto.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

"A total of 220 licensed weapons-exporting companies currently operate across the world and sell various kinds of military equipment on behalf of the State of Israel, a study conducted by the University of Derby revealed."
"U.S. Fighter Jet Crashes Off Australia:...The ship, the USS Ronald Reagan, had been due to conduct naval operations in support of the war on terror as well as security commitments in the western Pacific, the ABC said." (?!)
"Iraq sees 'brain drain' as professionals flee threats, violence"
"Women of Gaza fear for their freedoms under new religious regime"
"Netanyahu compares Hamas election win to rise of Hitler" (Is this not insulting to the victims of the Holocaust?)
"A mixed-sex marathon passed off peacefully in Pakistan yesterday, despite threats of violent disruption from Islamic conservatives. Crowds cheered as hundreds of women and thousands of men ran together through Lahore."

The Saudi King, letting his hair down, in Hong Kong.
So do Iraqis seem happy in their "liberated" country? Well, this picture was taken yesterday in Baghdad. Do they seem pleased with the fruits of "liberation"?
Israeli military jets violating Lebanese airspace yesterday (and every day).
Mukhabarat that you find cute: "Jordan: Editor Prosecuted for Posting Articles by MPs: Authorities Revert to Silencing Critics Through Repressive National Security Laws"
Arab nationalist columnist (and Bin Laden and Saddam fan) `Abdul-Bari `Atwan is correct about one thing (in his column today): Israel and Arab governments will use the Hamas victory to justify and receive support for their own oppressive regimes.
A Palestinian girl was shot dead by Israeli occupation troops last week. There was no outrage in the Arab/Muslim world over that. The Arab/Muslim world was busy being outraged over a cartoon in a Danish newspaper. !##??&%%@#!!
The Hariri Inc hold on Lebanese (and some Arab) media is such that they can simply block the publication of any unfavorable or embarrassing news items that dealswith mini-Hariri. After meeting with Bush, mini-Hariri made a statement about Hamas that was not printed in any Lebanese newspaper. Only Muhammad Shirri in Ad-Diyar, mentioned it today. The Jerusalem Post also mentioned it.
Between Garrison Keillor and Bernard-Henry Levy I am supporting Keillor. This is a devastating review of a poseur who acts like a "philosopher." But then again, this "philosopher" has said some profound things, like "God is dead but my hair is perfect. Worse, this brilliant philosopher says somewhere that poverty will not disappear from earth because it says so in the Old Testament. Bernard-Henry Levy is a good punishment for a trend of French intellectual arrogance.
Staffa, Fingal's Cave, 1832. Turner, Joseph Mallord William.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

The brilliant pundit of the Arab media. Today, I was astonished to listen to a `Ala' Bayyumi, a pundit on AlArabiyya TV. He was introduced as a "journalist from Washington, DC." . He did the best job (in terms of foolishness) of defending Bush and the neo-cons; better than Bush himself, but that is not saying much. He said that the problem in US foreign policy is that the neo-conservatives (who love to give democracy to the Arabs) have been marginalized due to their small errors in the Iraq war. He also said that Arabs should understand that the neo-conservatives respect the fruits of Arab democracy, no matter what. He also said that Bush's statements on Hamas contained "understanding" of Hamas.
"Why did Slate hire Ahmad Chalabi's daughter to write tediously about the Iraq elections?" (thanks Mark) "Weisberg also defended the idea of the daughter of a candidate reporting on her father's campaign, an arrangement that I told him I thought was odd."
"CIA Broadens Aim in Hunt for Al Qaeda: 'Targeted killing' with missile-firing drones has been expanded. Some voice concern over civilian deaths and sovereignty issues."
Musharraf loves sovereignty: "While this [strike] is a violation of our sovereignty, I also consider the presence of al Qaeda and foreigners a violation of our sovereignty."
"Daoud reiterated a statement in his 1999 autobiography that the intent was never to kill the Israeli athletes. He was also quoted as saying the 11 members of the Black September group killed by Israeli agents through the 1970s were the wrong people. "The people who were shot all had nothing to do with Munich," he said."
Suddenly, the Washington Post and Western governments will now shed tears over the plight of Arab secularists. Let the crying festival begin, NOW.
"Blair and Bush 'conspired to go to war regardless of United Nations'" (No. Really?)
"Washington refused to listen to Israeli warnings that unsupervised democracy will bring Islamists to power."
I wish Arabs would stop exaggerating the powers and knowledge of the Mossad: "Both Military Intelligence and the Shin Bet predicted a Fatah victory with a small majority over the Hamas."
Demagogue of the Year: Muhammad Dahlan said in a speech that "we have to insist on accountability from those [in Fath] who got us to those ordeals." Like YOU?
" The incoming Hamas government will move quickly to make Islamic sharia “a source” of law in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and will overhaul the Palestinian education system to separate boys and girls and introduce a more Islamic curriculum, a senior official in the movement said yesterday." (thanks Amal) If this is their plan, they will not last in office. Palestinian society will not stand for a Wahhabi-style state.
Khalid Mish`al of Hamas, in a reference to Bush's doctrine, said today: "They want democracy. Welcome. This is the result of democracy."
There were Isreali generals/academics (like Y. Harkabi) who made careers out of dissecting the words of Fath/PLO. We will now witness an era where Israeli generals/academics will dissect the charter of Hamas. Don't enjoy.
The last-minute rolling of Marwan Barghuti for Al-Arabiyya TV to boost the chances of Fath, looks more suspicious now. It also increases my continuous suspicions of Barghuti.
Sa'ib `Urayqat was asking Hamas for its program. He was right: today, Hamas leader Khalid Mish'al, spoke about dealing with "extreme realism" with the effects of Oslo. He did not define such a political term. But what has been the program of Fath since Oslo? I mean, aside from full compliance with Israeli/US wishes.
"Spielberg: I believe that Israel's prime minister had to respond to the monstrous provocation of Munich: Jews were being killed in Germany, and that at the Olympic Games. She could not let an act with such historical implications, such a gross transgression by the Black September movement, go unpunished. Munich was a national trauma for Israel. So in principle I think she did the right thing...From the day I started to think politically and to develop my own moral values, from my earliest youth, I have been an ardent defender of Israel. As a Jew I am aware of how important the existence of Israel is for the survival of us all. And because I am proud of being Jewish, I am worried by the growing anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in the world. In my film I ask questions about America's war on terror and about Israel's responses to Palestinian attacks. If it became necessary, I would be prepared to die for the USA and for Israel." (thanks Kamal)
This is something that always bothered me about many Muslims: their sense of outrage is so odd, to me at least. They get more upset over cartoons in a Danish newspaper than about American or Israeli occupations, or about poverty and oppression. "Kuwait strongly condemns insult of Holy Prophet in Danish papers."
"U.S. Troops in Iraq Held Insurgents' Wives to Get Husbands to Surrender"
For those who like paragraphs. Angry Arab paragraphed.

Ulysses deriding Polyphemus - Homer's Odyssey, 1829. Turner, Joseph Mallord William.
"Rumsfeld's Roadmap to Propaganda" (thanks Laleh)

Friday, January 27, 2006

Some 10% of Palestinian winners in the elections are prisoners in Israeli occupation jails (according to Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat).
Palestinians in `Ayn Al-Hilwa refugee camp in South Lebanon organized their own symbolic "election" voting for the right of return.
Bush's favorite Palestinian threatens to kill government officials in Palestine: Let me report this since US press is too enamored with Dahlan to report: when Muhammad Dahlan marched with his armed thugs yesterday, he gave a fiery speech in which he threatened to kill anybody who fires an official in the Palestinian bureaucracy. He was responding to rumors that the new Hamas government will fire the corrupt Fath officials who fill the key posts of Palestinian ministries.
Hummus-hit-the-fan news item: a clash between supporters of `Awn and supporers of Lebanese Forces at AUT campus in Jubayl resulted in injuries yesterday.
This is an opinion page of a Lebanese newspaper, ostensibly.
"Planted Articles May Be Violation: A 2003 Pentagon directive appears to bar a military program that pays Iraqi media to print favorable stories."
With "sweets and flowers," again: Walid Jumblat assures the neo-conservatives. "Elle ne sera pas un nouvel Irak.
"Egypt's Nobel winner asks Islamists to approve book"
Do you notice that Haaretz puts the word occupation between quotation marks?
"women human rights defenders"
"Bolivian President Evo Morales cut his salary in half and ordered no Cabinet minister could collect a higher wage than his own, with the savings used to hire more public school teachers."
"About 2,000 Fatah protesters gathered outside Mr Abbas's home in Gaza City to demand his resignation."
"The Growing Israel Divestment Movement"
"Concern Mounts on Syria As Opposition Gathers" (thanks Fadi)
Sectarian Sedition. Grand (not really) Ayatollah Sistani issued a statement yesterday. I don't know the occasion for his pontification, but it contains the most narrow and sectarian opinions. He insists on drawing sharp lines between Sunnis and Shi`ites, and takes pride in Western praise for "Shi`ism" as he implies. He also praises Western distinctions between Sunnis and Shi`ites, in favor of Shi`ites, according to him. This man, who left his house only once in 6 years and who was silent and submissive during the rule of Saddam Husayn when other clerics died fighting against Saddam, is not an authority on Western attitudes to Islam, and not an authority on courage under tyrannical rule, or under foreign occupation. Sistani should go back to the crucial issues that he regularly addresses in his fatwas: whether Muslims should play chess or not.
Tell this to Bush: a Lebanese University public opinion survey reveals that 48% of all Lebanese people are optimistic about the future of their country, while 52% are pessimistic. Also, as far as the most popular leaders are concerned, we are not surprised to learn that there are no national leaders in Lebanon: that each sect has its own favorite sectarian leader: Sa`d Hariri for Sunnis; Hasan Nasrallah for Shi`ites; Jumblat for Druzes; `Awn for Christians. Jumblat and Hariri are quite unpopular among Christians.
Call him Dr. Saudi King; or Dr. Guardian of the Two Noble Sanctuaries.
Tunisian newspapers have reported that a high Interior Ministry official who had fled to Europe in recent years, is now accused of working with the Israeli government to facilitate the assassination of PLO leaders in Tunisia in the 1980s and 1990s.
A little girl: shot by Israeli occupation soldiers. This is Zionism.

The Demise of the Fath Movement: and what is Hamas? Does anybody know? This was destined to happen. The Fath movement (nobody knows when it was founded and Lebanese writer Michel Abu Jawdah found, when interviewing the founders, that they gave different dates as to when it was actually founded--sometimes in late 1950s), was destined to fall. It was so closely linked to the personality and leadership of `Arafat; it fell with him, it seems. `Arafat did not want a movement that would institutionalize Palestinian struggle for independence, or to husband their popular resources. Instead, he institutionalized corruption through the PLO and Fath structures. I never ever admired Fath as a movement, or its rhetoric, particularly its rhetoric, not to mention what it did under `Arafat, who ordered the murder of a cartoonist, Naji Al-`Ali, I shall never forget, and who agreed to the humiliating conditions of Oslo, and who, with Sadat and Saudi Arabia did the most to undermine Palestinian struggle for liberation. But there were many decent and honest members of Fath that I liked and admired. One of them remains a friend to this day. He tried to recruit me back when I was in high school: he recruited a few at my high school, and he was frustrated at my strong opposition to Fath. He now lives in the US, and maintained a friendship. He was a clean Fath member, and not like the dirty Dahlan, Rajjub, and Abu Mazen. In Lebanon, we would refer to Fath as a collection of dakakin (shops); you would find many shops in Fath under `Arafat: a Soviet Marxist shop (headed by Abu Salih); a Saudi shop (headed by Al-Hasan brothers); a Maoist shop (headed by Munir Shafiq—he now is a Muslim fundamentalist); a Ba`thist shop (headed by Faruq Al-Qaddumi); a Muslim Brotherhood Shop (headed by Abu Jihad); an Iraqi regime shop (headed until his defection by Abu Nidal); a Jordanian mukhabarat shop (headed by Abu Az-Za`im); an American shop (headed by Abu Hasan Salamah); and on and on. Abu Mazin did not have a shop of his own; he just did not command a following to warrant a shop. He was close to the Saudi shop though. He just followed `Arafat, took orders, and got money from Gulf countries. `Arafat (especially through Khalid Al-Hasan) succeeded in corrupting Fath, and consequently corrupted the PLO, all for the purspose of preserving his powers. The infusion of Gulf oil money brought millions to the movement, and `Arafat gave monthly stipends to various PLO groups not only to keep them around, but to use them against one another, and to use the leverage of money to get his way. He saved the DFLP (after its defection from PFLP) only to curtail the rising powers of the PFLP at the time. And within every group, he had his own people, that he controlled with money and with perks: Yasir `Abd-Rabbuah in the DFLP; Bassam Abu Sharif in PFLP; Samir Ghawshah in Popular Struggle Front; etc. And he used money to instigate split-offs in several of the groups: Sa'iqah, PFLP, DFLP, Palestinion Liberation Front, Arab Liberation Front, etc. `Arafat did not want to create an effective organization; the organizational (or disorganizational) chaos suited him fine. It facilitated his autocratic style of leadership, and camouflaged his secret dealings. The movement was doomed as a military arm when the first communiqué of Al-`Asifah (the military wing of Fath) contained the lies and exaggerations of `Arafat. That was his specialty. `Arafat also rewarded not effectiveness or competence; only loyalty and submission to his will was rewarded. And honest and effective leader or member could easily be punished if they showed the slightest signs of independence or integrity. Those who were not corrupt (like Abu Dawud, Abu Salih, Abu Musa, Abu Khalid Al-`Amlah) were punished and marginalized. The most corrupt and most unsavory characters rose in the movement: in the Lebanon soujourn (Abu Az-Za`im, Hajj Isma`il, Kayid, `Azmi, Abu Hasan, etc); and later in the Palestine sojourn (Jibril Rajjub; Musa `Arafat; Muhammad Dahlan, Abu Mazin, Yasir `Abd-Rabbuh, Nabil `Amru, etc). To be sure, Dahlan and Rajjub later turned on `Arafat at the behest of US/Israel, but that was his fault. He empowered those people. He was able to spot the corrupt and the unsavory: people who can execute his will, and follow his orders. But `Arafat did not prepare for the era of the siege in Ramallah, when his powers, and his financial leverage, would be curtailed. This emboldened people like Abu Mazen, Dahlan, and Rajjub. Fath did not present an ideology: it spoke about “the independence Palestinian decision making” and yet subordinated Palestinian decision making to Saudi interests over the years (in return for millions); it spoke about “all rifles against the Zionist enemy” and yet excelled most in factional fighting; it spoke (borrowing from Mao’s famous booklet) of major versus minor contradictions and yet `Arafat excelled in attending to the most minor contradictions, and spent a life time trying (to no avail) to appease US/Israel. And the dependence on oil money explains why the later shut off of funds by Gulf countries, in response to US wishes, so crippled the movement. This is a movement that `Arafat did not want to transform into an effective political organization, and that (among other reasons) allowed for wide penetrations by Israeli and Arab intelligence services. The movement would not last; not after `Arafat’s passing. But there are other factors to explain the demise of Fath: the class that inherited Fath had no historical credibility, and they all have a reputation of subservience to US/Israeli interests, and they all are so notoriously corrupt, and so notoriously known for indulgences for luxuries. Those pictures of the inside of the house of Jibril Rajjub (and his famous Jacuzi), and his famous lies, must have sealed his fate, and led to his defeat. There is also a question of personality: Fath fielded corrupt people and most unsavory characters as candidates. In fact, see the details of the results. Fath did far better in the list system (based on proportional representation), than in the single-member-district level of the elections. In the latter system, people were voting for the individuals, and not for the name or heritage of the Fath movement. Hamas selected individuals who do not have the reputation either for corruption or for subservience to US/Israeli interests that Fath candidates have. This explains why Nabil `Amru (a candidate of UAE really) lost his seat. This is also true in elections in Lebanon: the Amal movement lost all credibility for the massive corruption of its leaders and candidates for parliament. Hizbullah realized that: and selected candidates who do “case-work” as we call it in American politics. Support for Hizbullah in elections in South Lebanon, I know, is not purely for the ideology of the party—it is for some of course—but for the efficiency and honesty of the candidates of Hizbullah, and they are so carefully selected, one by one. There are alcoholics in South Lebanon who vote for Hizbullah. The personality factor is quite important especially in a single-member-district kind of election. Hamas has also, unlike Fath, not been tainted by power and power corruption. There will be time for that, who knows how Hamas leaders fare in power. I have seen people in Lebanese and Palestinian politics get corrupted: I have seen communist and fanatical fundamentalists get corrupted by Saudi and Hariri money. And Hamas is not above reproach when it comes to money from Gulf countries whey they in the past did most fund raising. Notice that Hamas leaders are politce and praising of Saudi leader, by the way. This is not an organization above receiving Saudi cash. That is telling for me. Did you hear Hamas' statements after the death of King Fahd? And did you not enjoy the nervous giggle in Bush’s answers to the Hamas questions yesterday? That was quite a show, even for somebody like George W. Bush. But what will Hamas do, or say? Will they perfect the politics of la`am (yesno) that `Arafat was known for? I detected signs in the last few days. Is Hamas for negotiations with Israel or not? Is Hamas for the truce or not? You can never tell listening to Hamas’ officials. If Fath, it was said, was never serious about diplomacy nor about armed struggle—I think it was serious about capitulationist diplomacy, but never about armed struggle—Hamas does not have a definition of its version of “armed struggle” and nothing about its view of diplomacy. And Hamas, in its practice and its rhetoric—and its rhetoric (in the charter and publications) is grotesque with its vulgar anti-Jewish references and “citations”—does not appeal to those who believe in one secular state for Muslims, Christians and Jews, and does not appeal to those who wish for a diplomatic mini-Palestinian state. Is Hamas creating a new sector of Palestinian public opinion, or is it trying to appeal to the mood of despair and helplessness among the Palestinians. And if Hamas has practiced versions of indiscriminate and aimless violence—which I personally reject on principle--, it should be pointed out that Israeli terrorism—in scale and in magnitude--by far exceeds that of Hamas, but nobody has noticed here in the US. Fath is facing a dilemma, and it does not know how to respond. I saw scenes of Fath rank-and-file protesting in Gaza and demanding the resignation of Fath officials. And who did I see in the crowd, yelling with the crowd? The symbol of corruption, thuggery, and capitulation, Muhammad Dahlan (Bush’s favorite Palestinian) himself: he had to utilize his typical demagogic skills to jump on whatever wagon, and address the crowd? That is how Fath stifles reforms in Fath. Dahlan for reform? Was this not what brought the collapse of the Fath ticket? The idea of Dahlan and Rajjub standing as “the new guards” must have offended not only average Palestinians, but also hard core Fath advocates who felt insulted. Dahlan was being groomed: you remember that the British government took him to Cambridge last year to tutor him in English, and who knows in what else. Dahlan is the candidate for prime minister for the US and EU, until the elections that is. I personally believe that elections-under-occupations are meaningless. I believe under occupation, liberation is the priority, not elections or some other gimmicks. That comes later. But the elections are significant because the very weapons that were intended to be used by Israel and US against their enemies, turned against them. The elections that were intended to empower Abu Mazen, empowered the very enemies of the US who were going to be crushed by a new Fath government. Those US hopes have alas been dashed. Bush must now cool down his rhetoric on democracy and on voting. That will change. But then again: the fanaticism of this man, coupled with his deep ignorance of world affairs and geography can take him to new extremes. Who knows: Bush, in addition to his record of Islamic governments in Palestine and Iraq, may also have the chance to install an Islamic government in Syria. Maybe with more chances for the Bush’s doctrine, we may get to see Islamic governments spread--that is the real and actual Bush's doctrine. Do you know that the actual number of seats gained by Hamas is something like 80 seats when you count the “independents” who are close to Hamas? One such “independent” is Hamas supporter, Ziyad Abu `Amru from Gaza. Al-Quds Al-`Arabi mentioned him as a foreign minister in the Hamas government, while a Palestinian newspaper talked about him as a possible prime minister. That does not surprise me. I knew him in my graduate schools years: he never struck me as principled. He posed as a Marxist when it was convenient, and immediately posed as a moderate Islamist when he returned to Gaza. I last saw him when he was trying desperately to sell his collection of Lenin’s works before returning home to Palestine. He offered me the Collected Works of Lenin for $200, I remember. He did not want Lenin to stand in the way of his political ambition. I was sad to see the small number of seats that the left (including PFLP and Mustafa Barghuti) obtained. But I blame them. They failed, when they had the chance. They failed to push for secularism, and they were meek in challenging `Arafat and his shady deals when they had a chance. I felt sad—for the Arab left—and angry when I last saw George Habash in Damascus: he was heaping praise on Hamas and Islamic Jihad in a language that I did not think that a leftist icon like him should use. And when I suggested that the left was responsible for its mistakes, errors, shortcoming, he was more than willing to take blame. Habash is good in that regard, I have to say, unlike all other PLO--or Arab--leaders. But more was, is, needed. Let us face it: since my Lebanon days, I believed that the Arab oil money not only corrupted the PLO and Fath: but also every other tiny or not so tiny Palestinian organization. This was a revolution that had potential when it was poor; and lost its effectiveness and potency when was it starte receiving regularly either oil money (directly or indirectly), or ransom money from regimes and airlines (a la Wadi` Hadad, among others). That does not mean that I am pessimistic about the future of Palestinian struggle: Zionism created its own enemies, and its own enemies will never cease, no matter how powerful the Israeli state is. The Zionist project will not succeed because it can’t succeed, and I am not saying this for emotional reasons. At different levels, the Zionist project has only been imposed by force. You need some consent for success, and there is no iota of consent in Palestinian attitude toward Israel. I don’t have faith in the current spectrum of Palestinian organizations, and have less faith in Hamas’ version of “armed struggle”: more worrisome is the political vision of Hamas, but trust that the Palestinian people will not submit to it. New forms of struggle will be fashioned, and new organizations will emerge in due time. But until that happens, Israel and US will drag a deadly process (they will call it “peace process” for sure) for years if not more, and Israel will continue what it has not stopped doing since 1948 (and earlier): killing Arabs at will.

Colour Beginning, 1819. Turner, Joseph Mallord William.

Mini-Hariri meets Mini-Bush: Two intellectual giants in one room. I mean, look at those two. Really. Just look at those two. I would love to just listen to those two talk about international affairs. Would you not? I mean, would you not be tempted to just sit in the room and watch them and listen to them as they embarrass themselves, and then suppress strong urges to laugh as you watch those two attempt to engage in an "intelligent" discussion of foreign policy? Would you not want to be there just to mock them, and then to go and tell your friends about witnessing those two discuss foreign policy? I bet they got along. I mean, where else would you find a foreign "leader" who is at the very same, very low, level of George W. Bush? Where else would you find somebody as ignorant of the world and its affairs, and as intellectually uncurious, as those two? And could you imagine how the assembled aides must have felt while watching those two talking? Bush tells us that: "We've just had a very interesting and important discussion about our mutual desire for Lebanon to be free." (thanks Mounzer) I bet it was interesting. You finally found your equal, o George W. Bush. Somebody as intellectually distant and aloof and ill-informed as you are. Yesterday, in one meeting I heard mini-Hariri say that the countries of the West gave, yes gave, billions to Lebanon in Paris II. In reality, Lebanon did not even get 1/5 of a billion. All what Lebanon got were promises and pledges of loans, more loans to be added to the billions of loans that Rafiq Hariri enslaved Lebanon with for years and decades to come. Also, please take a minute to look at the smile on their faces. It speaks volumes.
Dirty tricks of Hariri Inc in....Tunisia: "Anou-Khanir continued: “Al-Shabi has initiated a court case this week in the Lebanese courts against the Al-Mustaqbal newspaper in regards to what the plaintiff described as a ‘crime of defamation and distortion. Al-Shabi, leader of the Progressive Democratic party told Al Arabiya.net that he ‘hired a Lebanese lawyer early this week to sue the Lebanese Al-Mustaqbal and Al-Liwaa newspaper for the ‘crime of defamation and distortion’… he also accused the Tunisian government of supporting the two newspapers who had published the article word for word off of a Tunisian daily newspaper (close to the government) ‘al Sareeh’ [Honesty] “[the Lebanese] newspapers Al Mustqbal and Al-Liwaa both published in the last weeks, similar anonymous articles that accuse Al-Shabi of ‘recently joining the international organization, Muslim Brotherhood, after a meeting with the Egyptian leader of the organization Mehdi Akef.’ Al-Shabi told Al Arabiya.net that these articles were aimed at ‘defaming him and the October 14 group’ and denied ‘ever meeting the Egyptian Mehdi Akef or talking to any individual in that organization’. He continued, ‘I have never joined this organization and don’t intend to in the future.’" (thanks Laurie) (I dont have a link for you, but I trust my source. Al-Mustaqbal and Al-Liwa' are owned by Hariri Inc.)
"An audit indicates that hundreds of basic water and electricity projects planned for the nation won't be completed because more than $3 billion was shifted to meet unanticipated needs."
"In responding yesterday to Hamas's victory, President Bush, a man who prides himself on clarity and disdains nuance, was, if I may coin a word, nuancing all over the place."
Of all the injustices around the world, the House of Saud is offended by a cartoon.
Americans seem ready to fight a new war aborad, and at home: "By a wide margin, Americans think Iran is more of a threat to the world than Iraq was before the United States took military action there. Nearly half (47 percent) think Iran is more of a threat than Iraq was, while 25 percent think less of a threat and 19 percent the same. If diplomacy fails, 59 percent support using "whatever military force is necessary," to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons; however, when presented with specific military options support drops. Some 51 percent support using only air strikes, and 46 percent support using air strikes and ground troops. A 54 percent majority is confident in the ability of the Bush administration to handle the situation with Iran" and also "Americans are willing to tolerate eavesdropping without warrants to fight terrorism"
"Hamas has a choice between governing and terror." Unfortunately, that is a false choice. Israel, since its creation, has managed both rather well, especially the latter.
déjà vu, déjà vu: Between 1964 and 1993, Israel and US spent 30 years insisting that that they can't talk to PLO/Fath because they don't talk to terrorists. Israel and US will now spend 30 years or more insisting that they will not talk to Hamas because it is a terrorist organization.
"The ACLU of Georgia released copies of government files on Wednesday that illustrate the extent to which the FBI, the DeKalb County Division of Homeland Security and other government agencies have gone to compile information on Georgians suspected of being threats simply for expressing controversial opinions. Two documents relating to anti-war and anti-government protests, and a vegan rally, prove the agencies have been "spying" on Georgia residents unconstitutionally, the ACLU said." (thanks Amina)
This is Zionism: "Israel Defense Forces soldiers shot dead a 9-year-old Palestinian girl on Thursday in the Gaza Strip near the border with Israel."
"ARMS AND RIGHTS: Rawls, Habermas and Bobbio in an Age of War" (thanks PB)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

"Empire of chaos challenged" (thanks Laleh)
Jumblat sent a letter to the new Emir of Kuwait congratulating him on assuming the throne. He said: "I am fully confident that you will be the best successor to the best predecessor." Jumblat still heads the "Progressive Socialist Party."
Oppression in Barazani's Republic: "Kurd's Writings Land Him in Jail: A Critic of Party Corruption, or a Reckless Defamer?"
Dido building Carthage; or the Rise of the Carthaginian Empire, 1815. Turner, Joseph Mallord William.

Crooks, thieves, charlatans, and demagogues: Bush’s Doctrine in 2006. Now, really. It is high time to evaluate Bush’s doctrine in this year. This new Palestinian election-under-occupation is big, and the results are quite significant not only in terms of Palestinian struggle, but also in terms of Bush’s so-called project for changing the Middle East. You have to think about it: his policies has helped install the rule of the Ayatollah in Iraq (and the fragmentation of Iraq), and now the rule of Hamas in Palestine. Make no mistake about it: the Palestinians were not voting for Hamas’ ideology; nor for its peculiar style of rhetoric and “actions.” This was merely a strong vote against Bush’s Palestinian candidates: a vote against the charlatans, crooks, thieves, and demagogues who lead the Fath’s list of Bush’s candidates. I mean, would you buy a used potato from the likes of Muhammad Dahlan or Jibril Rajjub? I saw a debate a few days ago on LBC-TV between Dahlan of Hamas’ Mahmud Az-Zahhar: it was not about ideology, as you watched. It was the very clear sign that Dahlan represents something very corrupt, very sinister, and very suspicious. I am convinced that the Palestinian people do not necessarily adhere to the ideology of Hamas (and I am not saying this due to my own strong opposition to Hamas’ ideology and record in Palestinian struggle). Hamas succeeded by fielding candidates who benefited merely from not being Dahlan or Rajjub. With Ahmadnajad in Iran, you get a clear picture of the repercussions of Bush’s doctrine in the entire Middle East region. The news in the last few days (first revealed in the Washington Post) regarding US government’s funding of Fath’s candidates has certainly helped Hamas further, and reinforced the suspicions toward the crooks, thieves, charlatans who led the list of Bush’s candidates on the Fath’s list.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Cairo Book Festival is honornig J. Habermas this year. I am not crazy about his politics as of late.
" Suicides of Indian workers in Gulf countries on the increase"
"Maids' shelter hit by cash shortage"
"Ministry of Labor and Foreign Employment do not possess the complete details of the number Sri Lankan women working in the Middle East despite complains of abuse inundates the Ministry. The latest details available with the Ministry were that of the 2003 figures. According to the year 2003 figures available with the Ministry, it has received 2,000 reports of foreign employers abusing maids which is said to be the latest figures available. Furthermore, a total of 123 Sri Lankan women died in 2003 while working abroad of which the Government had classified 45 cases as "Unnatural Deaths." As complaints of abuses on the women workers in the Middle East keep pouring in, Sri Lanka Government has come forward to take urgent measures to all the abuse of tens of thousands of women working abroad, according to Labor Relations and Foreign Employment Minister Athauda Seneviratne."
"Mohammed Mowhoush, the son of an Iraqi general who died in U.S. custody in late 2003, assailed the U.S. military yesterday for imposing a reprimand instead of prison time for an Army interrogator convicted in connection with his father's death, saying the United States has not properly administered justice."
"Munich: Mossad breaks cover: Documentaries challenge Hollywood take on the mission to kill Palestinian terrorists" ("And Mr Barak, who famously dressed as a woman for the Beirut raid, describes the operation with evident relish and nostalgia....Spielberg's film suggests one group carried out almost all the assassinations, but in fact much larger teams of agents were involved;· there is no evidence Mossad worked with the help of a mysterious French criminal "godfather" figure as portrayed in both Vengeance and the film;· the assassination campaign did not fall apart because the agents lost their nerve, as the film suggests, but because an operation went disastrously wrong at Lillehammer in Norway, when the Israelis mis-identified their target - the Black September chief Ali Hassan Salameh - and killed an innocent Moroccan waiter instead. Spielberg does not even mention Lillehammer;· those on the list of assassination targets were not all directly involved in Munich. This is confirmed by Mossad agents, and Spielberg acknowledges this, but only in the last five minutes.")
"US military stretched to breaking point"
Shortcomings of Human Rights Watch. Is it me or does Human Rights Watch suffer from the habit of noting human rights improvements in dictatorial countries that improve its relations with the US government. Human Rights Watch went too far in its report on Libya.
A British newspaper has obtained a copy of video that shows `Udayy Saddam Husayn meeting and joking with George Galloway--the famous buffoon of British leftist politics.
My sources in Washington, DC tell me that mini-Hariri is urging the US government to attack Syria, and to overthrow its government. Hariri is probably assuring US officials that the Syrian people would greet US soldiers as "liberators", and shower them with "flowers and sweets"; and that the Syrian people would mount no resistance to US occupation; and that a small number of troops would be required to keep the "peace" in Syria; and that Syrian pro-US liberals would run the country, and that Syria would quickly emerge as a model for the entire region. OK, Sa`d.
I read the text of mini-Hariri's Q&A at the Wilson Center. I mean, in some way I should be glad that Hariri Inc is being lead by this dude. It would have been more dangerous if he was competent and qualified.
What Lebanese newspapers will not say. The Lebanese jurist, Edmond Na`im, who just died is really known for two things. 1) he was politically a chameleon: he started as a secular socialist, and ended his career a sectarian Christian supporter of the Lebanese Forces; 2) he was known for his ability to give any legal opinion that you want (for a fee), and was willing to give its opposite, for a fee too. Oh, and he had a great personal library.
MBC TV is preparing an Arab copy of the Apprentice. It is called Al-Mustathmir (the Investor), and will feature the Saudi billionaire Walid Al-Jaffali.
New TV seems to be keen on promoting the views of Prince Talal Bin `Abdul-`Aziz. Has Al-Walid infused the station with new cash, I wonder?
There are signs of friction between As-Safir and Hariri Inc. I hope it grows.
When Hummus Hit the Fan. I shall make this a regular feature as was suggested by some readers. Yesterday, former Hariri minister, and current Hariri MP, Samir Al-Jisr, was supposed to give a talk at the Lebanese University complex in Al-Hadath. Upon arriving, supporters of Hariri and supporters of Amal exchanged insults and counter-cheers, and it quickly escalated and members of the two sides engaged in physical fights. There were injuries, and Al-Jisr had to flee for his life. Before fleeing, he asserted that Hasan Nasrallah really liked Rafiq Hariri.
Hamas has produced what it claims to be a document showing an offer of funding from USAID to Palestinian Fath member, Nabil `Amru (see below). Several people sent me links to websites that show the document. I posted it yesterday with a disclaimer. I have read it several times today, and if I were to offer an expert opinion at a court of law, I would most certainly ascertain that this is fake. It certainly is a forgery. That is my verdict.
Peace - Burial at Sea, 1842. Turner, Joseph Mallord William.
"Cronyism and Kickbacks" (thanks Laleh)

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My biggest problem with Kanan Makiya is not his politics really, or only his politics, more accurately. It is his personality. His conceit and self-worship is just unbearable. As far as I am concerned, his biggest problem is psychological. He is obsessed with himself--and he has every right to be obsessed with himself--but it is delusional to think that everybody is obsessed with you, just because you are so obsessed with yourself. Look at what he says about his book: "Cruelty and Silence is everywhere." This is a man who went to Iraq after the invasion hoping that the Iraqi people would cheer him in the streets; read his silly dispatches in the New Republic before and after the beginning of the war, especially the one when he called for more bombing of Iraq (when he was still safe in the US, of course), and especially of the Iraqi tv building, where civilians worked. He and Paul Wolfowitz, I am told, really expected that he would be so widely known in Iraq, and that he would become a prime minister or president of occupied Iraq, that was before any of them heard of the Grand(not really) Ayatollah. Look what he says here: "I was almost a pariah in Lebanon for ten years, because of Cruelty and Silence." I can assure him that he need not worry; nobody knows who he is in Lebanon, and nobody knows his Cruelty and Silence (you may read my long review essay of that book ("Arab Intellectuals on Trial) in Middle East Journal, 1993.) And notice that he has to credit an Israeli mentor for his communist years, just as he now has plenty of Israeli mentors in his neo-conservative years. That's nice. And also, I don't need Makiya to pontificate on Lebanon now. I did not enjoy his Iraq "expertise" and will enjoy less his expertise on any other Arab country, his position at Brandeis notwithstanding. But you have to really admire the politics of Middle East studies at Brandeis. You could be an architect (as Makiya is although he never completed his degree at MIT I am told), you could be a carpenter, you could be a chef, you could be a fire fighter, but you will be permitted to teach about Islam and Arab politics if you have the right pro-Israeli and anti-Arab [people] politics. So Makiya says--his typical generalizations a la Patai: "There's not a single Lebanese who thinks anybody but Syria was behind the assassination." Well, not true. If you follow Lebanese public opinion surveys (and they were cited on my site on many times on this issue), you will know that in fact many Lebanese blame either US or Israel for Hariri's assassination although many also do blame Syria. So wrong again. And look at how this "native informants" informs about Arabs: "And, to show you the worlds of ignorance we live in here." So he must be lucky to not be afflicted with the ignorance that Arabs are afflicted with. But wait: in his book (cited above) he says that the happiest day of his life was when he obtained his British citizenship. Was he talking about Britain then? And he of course lies when he tells his admiring interviewer that Arabs support Zarqawi. That is an outright lie. Not even the fundamentalist extremists are supporting Zarqawi in the Arab world. And by the way: did he mean this cliche: "All of a sudden the shoe was on the other foot entirely." or was he aiming at another shoe cliche, but got confused? And Makiya--notice yourselves--can't stop bragging that he had read Arendt. Good for you, Makiya. OK, Makiya: you read Arendt, and you have been bragging about that accomplishment for 15 years now. What do you want? A blender? (thanks Mouin)
I am watching the Palestinian elections-under-occupation with the same interest that I watch a roll-call on C-Span.
Let them eat...Fayruz. I now regulary check Syrian TV to see its coverage of a non-existent crisis according to the Syrian government. So basically, whenever the Syrian people demand bread or freedom or both, they are given Fayruz, plenty of Fayruz. Day in and day out, Fayruz. There will come a day when the Syrian people, long known for their love for Fayruz, will get fed up with Fayruz, damn it.
Get Dennis Ross a handkerchief: he is beside himself with grief since Ariel Sharon entered the hospital. Whenever I read anything Ross (who studied Russian studies at UCLA--and it shows when he speaks or writes about the Middle East) wrote, I have to shake my head in amazement that he was the envoy to the "peace process." Wait, in fact, that makes perfect sense. So here, Ross pontificates on Palestinian affairs. He says: "Second, that international assistance will be immediately forthcoming for job-creating projects but will cease if Palestinians do not immediately establish law and order in Gaza and the West Bank." Law and order. Don't you love that. By law and order he means exactly what southern governors meant by "law and order" in the south in the 1960s, and what Franco meant by "law and order". And if the Palestinians don't do what they are told, they will be starved, preaches Ross. This passes as political wisdom in Washington, DC.
It is quite a hilarious testimony if the only success that the Bush doctrine has to offer is...Sa`d Hariri.
That is sad: poor US officials. "Iraqi oil production fell by 8 percent last year, with a sharp decline near year's end that left average daily production at half the 3 million barrels envisioned by U.S. officials at the outset of the war in 2003."
Yet another Palestinian child shot by Israeli occupation troops.
No wall will ever stop the Palestinian march to independence.
"A military jury in Colorado issued a reprimand last night to an Army interrogator who was convicted of negligent homicide for using an aggressive technique on an Iraqi general who died during questioning. Jurors decided not to impose any prison sentence for what originally was charged as a murder."
"The Bush administration's effort to increase the popularity of the Palestinian Authority and its governing Fatah party before critical parliamentary elections this week came under intense criticism Monday from a number of candidates, some of whom charged that the program amounted to illegal interference in the democratic process."
"Darfur crisis worsening, UN refugee chief warns"
"Distrust of NSA has roots in '70s"
"Below is the English translation from Hebrew of the radio communications between IDF soldiers that occurred shortly before and after the murder of nine-year-old Amira al-Hams in Rafah.
The recording was submitted in January 2005 in the trial of the company commander, whose
name has been withheld due to a military court order. He faces a maximum of three years in prison. Translated from the Hebrew by Nomi Friedman. Originally from Harper's Magazine, May 2005.
SourcesSENTRY: We spotted an Arab female about 100 meters below our
emplacement, near the light armored vehicle gate.
HEADQUARTERS: Observation post "Spain," do you see it?
OBSERVATION POST: Affirmative, it's a young girl. She's now running east.
HQ: What is her position?
OP: She's currently north of the authorized zone.
SENTRY: Very inappropriate location.
OP: She's now behind an embankment, 250 meters from the barracks. She keeps
running east. The hits are right on her.
HQ: Are you talking about a girl under ten?
OP: Approximately a ten-year-old girl.
HQ: Roger.
OP: OP to HQ.
HQ: Receiving, over.
OP: She's behind the embankment, dying of fear, the hits are right on her, a
centimeter from her.
SENTRY: Our troops are storming toward her now. They are around 70 meters from
HQ: I understand that the company commander and his squad are out?
SENTRY: Affirmative, with a few more soldiers.
OP: Receive. Looks like one of the positions dropped her.
HQ: What, did you see the hit? Is she down?
OP: She's down. Right now she isn't moving.
COMPANY COMMANDER [to HQ]: Me and another soldier are going in. [To the squad]
Forward, to confirm the kill!
cc [to HQ]: We fired and killed her. She has . . . wearing pants . . . jeans
and a vest, shirt. Also she had a kaffiyeh on her head. I also confirmed the
kill. Over.
HQ: Roger.
CC [on general communications band]: Any motion, anyone who moves in the zone,
even if it's a three-year-old, should be killed. Over." (thanks Rochelle and Mezna)
"US accused of using gangster tactics over terror suspects"
A Moroccan magazine published a public opinion survey in which 44% of Moroccan youth do not consider Al-Qa`idah a terrorist organization. And Bush is supposed to be changing minds in the Arab/Muslim world.
Former Syrian (buffoonish) Minister of Defense, Mustafa Tlas, explains the suicide of Ghazi Kan`an to the correspondent of Al-Quds Al-`Arabi. He says that the family of Kan`an has the disease of suicide among its members.
Mini-Hariri met in Washington, DC with Paul Wolfowitz yesterday. I mean, with those two meeting, it is only logical to assume that the plight of the poor was discussed.
Rashid Ad-Da`if writes good titles for his books, but he does write not good books.
The book, Considérations sur le malheur arabe by Samir Kasir is an unoriginal tracing of Arab willingness to emulate Western modernity. It disguises itself as a work that is free of classic Orientalist assumptions (and there is one or two passing negative references to Bernard Lewis for that), but all what it does is to show that there were Arabs (yes mostly Christians, but some Muslims miraculously too) who knew how to internalize Western modernity. He even makes a reference to Freemasony in the Middle East as an example of Western compatibility with things Arab. But in the context of the academe of Lebanon, and in the annals of An-Nahar, Raphael Patai's observations are accepted as eternal dogmas of insightful analysis.
This entire attention to Palestinian election is quite diversionary. I mean, Palestinian struggle has been for the liberation of occupied Palestine; it has not been a struggle for the right to vote.
For the first time, the King of Jordan has finally recognized the Coptic church as a recognized Christian church.
Hummus WILL hit the fan, big time. Lebanese Forces member, Antoine Zahrah (nicknamed Antoine Barbarah for the various human rights violations that he is responsible for when he managed the Barbarah checkpoint during the civil war), finally admitted that the Lebanese Forces are organizing "small" training camps in Mount Lebanon. But he insisted that those military training camps are merely for the purpose of training bodyguards for warlord LF leader, Samir Ja`ja`.
King `Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is visiting India. Given the racism of the royal family against Asian workers (among others), do you think that the king has to resist the temptation when in the presence of Indian officials to order them to fetch him a beverage?
Don't upset the new Kuwaiti Emir. His health may not take it. In 1990, at a meeting of the Arab League, he fainted when the Iraqi vice-president hurled insults at him.
Muqtada As-Sadr, is now in Iran. He is not in Lebanon yet, contrary to what the Washington Post has reported. But he will be in Lebanon tomorrow. In Saudi Arabia, As-Sadr praised the "great" Saudi King, from whom he gets inspiration; in Iran, As-Sadr pledged to put his rag tag army in the service of the Iranian leadership; in Lebanon, As-Sadr may pledge to eat all the Hummus that is offered to him, and may join the posse looking for Hariri killers.
I don't know about the authenticity of this document. It was sent to me by various people, and is posted on a site close to the Hamas movement. It claims to be a letter from USAID to Fath member Nabil `Amru.
Angry Arab has ruled that this "document" is a Hamas forgery. Shame on them for such dirty tricks. I will post on this tomorrow.
Close your eyes. You are "liberated."
Sunrise with Sea Monsters, c. 1845. Turner, Joseph Mallord William.

Monday, January 23, 2006

"Former NSA Chief Says Surveillance Limited"...(to Arabs and Muslims, I wonder?)
In theory, this is an opinion page of a Lebanese newspaper.
"Israelis fear Hamas 'terror state'" (And the Palestinian people fear an already-existing Israeli terror state)
World Bank does not care about the people of Afghanistan, but it is really worried about US puppet Karzai.
"Halliburton accused of supplying contaminated water to US troops and Iraqi civilians at a marine base in Ramadi.
"Fatah struggles with tainted image" (It is much more, and worse, than a tainted image).
Environmental Performance Index of the world (US is ranked 28th).
The Political Vulgarities of the Ba`th Party: I just read a new statement issued by the Iraqi Ba`th Party. I mean, you can't find such level of vulgar and crude political discourse that you find in Ba`thist political literature. And does the Iraqi Ba`th Party think it is cute to refer to Saddam as "president"? I mean, really.
Weekend at...Kuwait's. The struggle between the two factions in the Kuwaiti royal family continued. The Salim branch wanted former Crown Prince Sa`d Al-`Abdullah to assume the throne. But his health condition did not even permit him to take the royal oath. To bolster their case, the Salim branch members could only produce this picture of Sa`d. The picture did not dispel the fears and concerns, however. Sa`d (seen in the middle) does not look well, to put it midly.
Kuwaiti critics of Kuwait's foreign minister calls him "the Orientalist." He avoids diwaniyyaht, and does not hold one in his house.
I read in the Arabic press that Libyan crackpot dictator, Mu`ammar Al-Qadhdhafi (oh, wait. I forgot. He is now a respected and hugged dictator), arrived to the African summit in Khartoum with an entourage of 573 people, and in 12 private jets. His luggage included his private tent, where he stays.
This is Zionism: "A 13-year-old Palestinian youth was killed Monday evening by Israel Defense Forces gunfire in a West Bank village adjacent to Ramallah. An initial report indicated soldiers opened fire in the direction of two children building a stone barrier across a road. Soldiers said they opened fire when they noticed two figures laying a suspicious object on the road. IDF troops shots and critically wounded one of the youths in his chest. The youth was pronounced dead on the scene by an IDF doctor after medics failed to resuscitate him. The boy has been identified as Mundal Abu-Aliya."
AlArabiyya TV: on its weekly program on Iraq, AlArabiyya TV devoted its program today to the Iraqi elections. One of the guests (to analyze the Iraqi elections)...was a US occupation commander (no Macedonian commanders were invited).
I mean it worked for Ilyas `Atallah (the leader of the Hariri "Left" Movement in Lebanon). He was ignored for years by the Lebanese media; he once pleaded on the air with Marcel Ghanim to put him on his show. But miraculously: he is now on every TV channel. His parroting of the Hariri line really worked for him, and got him into the Lebanese parliament.
When Hummus hit the fan. Hassan Fattah will not report this: a clash occurred between supporters of Lebanese Forces and between `Awn supporters in Jubayl in Lebanon. Hummus hit the fan.
"U.S. Spent $1.9 Million to Aid Fatah in Palestinian Elections" (So now we know that US interferred in Iraqi and Palestinian elections. I am waiting for evidence of US interference in the Lebanese elections last year, although Hariri's money did the US a free service there).
Dependency Theory in 2006. When Samir Amin speaks, I listen. He here he is talking about the salience of Dependency Theory (for my Arabic readers, read the book on Dependency Theory by `Abdul-Khaliq `Abdullah, my friend and colleague of UAE University in Al-`Ayn): "In my belief, all this is true, even if names and forms have changed, especially in the matter of the relationship between the Center and the Periphery, and to which I had devoted my special attention in most of my early studies. And I still do, even in different ways. This concept is still in existence as it was in the past. And for a simple reason: that the polarization that was in existence, is still in existence at the global level, and linked to the logic of capitalist accumulation itself, and to its core of existence. There was a Center (or "muhit" (zone) call it what you wish) and peripheries during the first phase of the appearance of capitalism five centuries ago, and this will remain in the future as long as there is capitalism and capitalist accumulation. But this is not to say that the form of the order and the content of the Center and the substance of the monopolies on which these privileges of the centers are based as far as their relationships with the "zone" are concerned..." (thanks Amer). I like what he says about Arab communists: that they are in alliance with US occupation in Iraq, in alliance with Syrian regime in Syria, and in Lebanon they make a transition to Americanized liberalism, he says. (If you want a succinct early review of Dependency Theory, read the piece by Ronald Chilcote in Latin American Perspectives in 1973, I think.)
"Fisk remembers the near sinking of the USS Stark by an Iraqi fighter jet in 1987. Because Iraq was a U.S. ally at the time, President Ronald Reagan blamed Iran -- even though it was clear that nation had nothing to do with the event, he notes. "It was an interesting precedent," Fisk writes sourly. "When Iraq almost sank an American frigate, Iran was to blame. When al Qaeda attacked the United States fourteen years later, Iraq was to blame.""
When Jumblat comes to Washington, DC. Hariri propagandist, Nuhad Al-Mashnuq, revealed it. In his weekly column in As-Safir, Al-Mushnuq inadvertently explained Jumblat's dilemma. Apparently, Jumblat's official visit to Washington, DC was scheduled to take place at a lower level of meetings than desired by him. US embassy in Lebanon explained to Jumblat that his close ties to Hizbullah will not permit him to meet high officials of US government. That was when Jumblat began his salvos at Hizbullah. And Bush's meeting on Thursday with mini-Hariri is quite unprecedented. I mean, mini-Hariri is a member of parliament, in rank, not more. Bush would never meet with members of parliament from any other country. That does not mean that Lebanon is important; on the contrary, it means that Lebanon is being run from Washington, DC.
That Bush: he can't stop winning hearts and minds of Muslims: "Sympathy for al-Qaida Surges in Pakistan"
A sign that reforms have arrived: "Ordinary Iraqis feel pinch of free-market reforms: Grocery prices jump as cost of gasoline soars threefold"
" Liberian leader breaks rape taboo" (thanks Zeina)
Some French intellectuals like to mock Americans. Let us now mock this French "intellectual": "He puts surprising faith in Warren Beatty as a political leader"
"Held in 9/11 Net, Muslims Return to Accuse U.S."
The Poor Fisherman, 1881. Pierre Puvis de Chavannes.
"Across the country, many mobilize against illegal immigration"
"No Change Seen in Sharon's Condition" (No change seen in the conditions of the victims of Qibya, Israeli invasion of 1982, and of Sabra and Shatila. They are all dead.)
"Sri Lanka Still Wed to System: The nation's ancient caste structure with its rigid social hierarchy is waning, but prejudices are hard to shed when choosing a mate."
I can't believe that people still cheer for Kobe Bryant.
"Former Abu Ghraib Guard Calls Top Brass Culpable for Abuse: Wife of Jailed Soldier Says Tactics Were in Place From Start"
The Neo-Con's Model for the Entire Middle East Region: "Professionals Fleeing Iraq As Violence, Threats Persist: Exodus of Educated Elite Puts Rebuilding at Risk"
"Events along the ever-volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan border this month have exposed deep fault lines in the anti-terrorism alliance among the United States, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and officials on all sides say their joint efforts against militants in the region are now highly precarious. The heightened tension comes as militant extremists and the United States have both become more aggressive in their tactics, with the Pakistani government caught in between."
"British embassy in Israel stung for £1m"
"Upsurge of Sunni violence follows election results" (And yet with every election, US occupiers predict that this time, violence will decline)
My Ode to Jimmy Carter. I just wish that Jimmy Carter would stop his tours of foreign countries, and his really silly and vapid statements on foreign policy. And I wish that he would stop his attempts at monitoring foreign elections. Nobody wants him; not in the US and not abroad. And this man, whose great inspiration in life--according to him--is Nazi Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat--has nothing to offer, except self-praise. Please go away Jimmy Carter. Go back to Georgia. If your biggest contribution is the Camp David accords, please spare us any further contributions. Oh, and you are quite boring, as a writer and speaker.
Nothing unto the Nations: "More than 1 in 3 Israeli children live in poverty"
"The International Federation of Journalists today condemned a “culture of neglect and indifference” over killings of journalists which is making journalism more dangerous than ever. The IFJ says that 150 journalists and media staff were killed last year, the highest ever, and has warned that the situation will get worse unless political leaders act to bring the killers to justice."
"Bolivia installed its first indigenous president yesterday, Evo Morales, who insisted he would stick by radical drugs and energy policies regardless of US consternation at another South American country turning to the left."
As some Muslim and Arab American organizations insist that Spielberg is "objective", here he explains his objectivity: "He said that he and his family "“love Israel, we support Israel, we have unqualified support for Israel, which has struggled, surrounded by enemies, ever since its statehood was declared . . . I feel very proud to stand right alongside all of my friends in Israel."
Spielberg's version of history: "Some critics, including the makers of a documentary, Munich: the Real Assassins, to be shown on Channel 4 on Thursday, claim that Yuval Aviv, the man most commonly thought to be the model for Avner, was a fantasist who had worked as an El Al baggage handler, not as a trained killer." (thanks Ema)
David Brooks of the New York Times criticizes Spielberg in Munich because he does not mention "Hamas or Islamic Jihad." This brilliant NYT columnist does not even know that those organizations did not exist at the time of Munich; although Israeli military/intelligence apparatus was at the time cultivating religious Palestinian groups in the hope of undermining the nationalist and leftist groups.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

"Illusion of democracy: Palestinian election plays into vision of U.S., Israel" (thanks Beshara)
"The Bush administration is spending foreign aid money to increase the popularity of the Palestinian Authority on the eve of crucial elections in which the governing party faces a serious challenge from the radical Islamic group Hamas." (thanks Noah)
Flowers, c. 1903. Odilon Redon.
Robert Fisk reviews Legally Blonde I. I have said before that Robert Fisk is one of my favorite foreign correspondents, until the assassination of Hariri when his friendship with Hariri and with Jumblat got in the way of his reporting. I still squirm when I read his dispatches on Lebanon. But let me add this: I also don't enjoy his movie reviews. Just read his review of Munich--he called it "absolutely brilliant", and could not believe it. As if he watched a different movie. But wait: the movie he reviewed is not the Munich that I watched and reviewed. Maybe he was reviewing Legally Blonde I, and did not know it.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

I wrote before: I don't trust Marwan Barghuti. I fully trust, for example, Ahmad Sa`dat. The Israeli government has conveniently and innocently permitted AlArabiyya TV to conduct an interview with Barghuti two days before the elections-under-occupation. This is clearly an attempt to support the Dahlan faction.
This is the most sincere and honest Syrian dissident. Haytham Manna` analyzes the Syrian opposition.
"U.N. Reports Lack of Data on Women in Poverty"
"U.S. Goals Adapt to New Iraq: Disappointed with vote results, Washington is now focused on keeping security forces out of the hands of religious or nationalist parties"
"Spinoza stymies 'God's attorney'"
"The Isolation Pendulum: Expect a Cyclical U.S. Retreat From World Affairs After the Iraq War"
"In Bolivia, a $100 Million Question: President-Elect May End Support for U.S.-Funded Coca Eradication"
"The latest edition of Elie Wiesel's Holocaust remembrance, "Night," corrects several small factual errors, it was reported Thursday."
"Bishara says Arab vote for a Zionist party would be 'shameful'" (Who can disagree?)
A whole political crisis grips Kuwait in the wake of the death of the Emir, and I remember reading (see previous posts) the day after his death various articles in the Western and Arabic press about the "smooth transition" in Kuwait. This can only prove that...Splenda is not a bad sugar substitute.