Sunday, December 31, 2006

This must have been a very sad month for Donald Rumsfeld. Just think about it. I mean, he lost his job; he then lost Gerald Ford, for whom he had worked. And then came the news of the execution of Saddam, with whom he established that famous and tender US-Iraqi honeymoon of the 1980s.
If Hizbullah really wants to fight the sectarian machinations of Hariri Inc (and Saudi Arabia behind it) it would take a strong stance against the Shi`ite sectarian death squads of Iraq, which are terrorizing Sunnis and Palestinians.
I am told that the latest rumor in Baghdad is that Saddam was not killed, but that his look-alike was hanged. (Life must have been very tough or those look-alikes).
I read a two-page spread in the New York Times: a biography of Saddam Husayn by (the thin-skinned) NEIL MacFARQUHAR. What is striking about it that it does not make references to the support that Saddam was getting from Gulf governments and from Western governments for much of the 1970s and 1980s. It does not talk, for example, about the council that he established with Husni Mubarak, King Husayn, and the Yemeni president. And it quoted objective observers including Sa`d Bazzaz who is identified as "a writer and editor." Bazzaz was in charge of Saddam's propaganda for much of his rule until the 1991 war.
Saudi media give the impression that Muslims from around the world come to Saudi Arabia not to perform pilgrimage but to say hi to the royal family. And would it kill the royal family to train the king on reading the few lines that he has to read once every two weeks?
"U.S. trainers prepare Ethiopians to fight: As soldiers of Ethiopia’s Christian government continued to rout Islamist militiamen in southern Somalia this week, 2nd Cpl. Wonderfraw Niguse celebrated his own victory on the parched scrublands of eastern Ethiopia hundreds of kilometers to the north." (Notice the language of the Stars and Stripes). (thanks Laleh)
How token Arabs get hired at the New York Times: the case of Hassan Fattah. When token Arab get hired, by the New Republic, CNN, or the New York Times, they have to try harder. I don't mean that they have to work harder, no. But they have to try harder to prove their allegiance to the interests of the US empire and to the interests of US-Israeli relations. I really don't believe that another reporter of the New York Times would use such propaganda line as this one: "For those Arabs who celebrated America’s embrace of the rule of law..." "America's embrace of the rule of law? Where? In the US? Or in Guantanamo? Or in Iraq? Please enlighten us further, o New York Times correspondent.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

"A dictator dies - but tyranny of violence goes on and on"
"How Washington and London helped to create the monster they went to war to destroy"
"In 2005, 679 Israeli citizens sought asylum abroad, mainly in Canada. Some 200 requests were approved, mainly of citizens of the former Soviet Union who came to Israel but left claiming they were persecuted, because of their origin or religion."
That is something that will occupy the minds of US officials: "Officials from the FBI and US Treasury are focusing their inquiries on £2.2bn of illegal oil profits."
For those who asked, here is the itinerary of my (east) Canadian universities' tour:
Monday January 15th: University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario.
Kings Collage at 7PM.
Tuesday January 16th: Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario. 7PM.
Wednesday January 17th: Ottawa.
Thursday January 18th: Queens University, Kingston, Ontario. Dunning room 14 at 7PM.
Friday January 19th: Calgary University, Calgary, Alberta. Room CHC 119. at 7PM.
Abu Mazen said that today that he is disappointed that the Israeli prime minister did not fulfill his promise to him to release "a symbolic group" of Palestinian prisoners. A "symbolic group"?
I notice that Saudi media, reflecting always the interests of the House of Saud, are expressing nervousness toward Saddam's execution. They, like all autocrats and tyrants, are made to think of their precarious thrones. They now feel secure with US occupation troops all around, but that will not last forever. This account of Saddam's execution in Al-Hayat (based on an eyewitness account) clashes fundamentally with the account of Muwaffaq Ar-Rubay`i (now proven entirely incredible after the release of the footage of the execution) . And we should remember that average Iraqis are now dying EVERY DAY under the American occupation. This attention to the execution of Saddam could belittle the lives of ordinary Iraqis who wanted "neither Bush nor Saddam."
What's with Drudgereport in the last two days. Yesterday, he decided that the Grand mosque in Mecca is the site of the Saddam execution, and he put the picture of the Hajj to prove it. And now he is saying that Saddam told his executioners to go to hell. In fact, in the full video of the execution, voices can be heard declaring the name of Muhammad Baqir As-Sadr (who was killed by Saddam along with his sister and other members of his family), and then several of them told Saddam "Ila Jahannam." Jahannam is an Arabic word for hell, and it appears in the Qur'an (but etymologically the word Jahnnam is from the old Ethiopic language).
It greatly annoys me how Western and Saudi media act as if the Kuwaitis suffered under the Iraqi occupation more than the Palestinians have suffered since 1948--yes, I said 1948, not 1967.
Let's face it. Mahdawi-style trials take place in all Middle East countries; with or without "liberation."
If you want to read me, paragraphed (but not caramelized).
Experts in the US often identify Islam (and or the "Arab mind") as the major obstacle to democracy in the Middle East. The real major obstacle to democracy in the Middle East (I mean, aside from American sponsorship and support for most dictatorships and tyrannies in the region) is what the US has done to associate the concept of democracy with the mayhem, plunder, murder, strife, and territorial fragmentation, and bombings of daily life in Iraq.
People are wondering why the execution took place on `Id Al-Adha. Is it possible that Dick Cheney consulted with his friend Bernard Lewis, who provided his own suggestion, based on complex calculations drawn from Orientalist numerology?
Muwaffaq Ar-Rubay`i. The status of Ar-Rubay`i in the Iraqi puppet government since the occupation of the country reveals much about the true reality of governance--if you can call it that--in Iraq. I mean, puppet prime ministers come and go (from `Allawi, to Ja`fari, and now to Al-Maliki), and this guy remains as "the national security adviser" of the government--whatever that is. I mean, it is quite clear that he is there in that position in his capacity as the permanent puppet of occupation, not to to be confused with the changing and rotating puppets of occupation. Ar-Rubay`i spoke perhaps prematurely on Al-Iraqiyya TV station last night. He witnessed the the execution, and he said that Saddam looked "very terrified" and totally surrendered to the executioners. But Al-Jazeera's broadcaster pointed out today that his words were soon contradicted by the very footage that was released by the Iraqi government itself. Say what you want about Saddam, but he he did not look terrified in the footage. And the Iraqi media reported that he got into a fight with the guards just prior to the execution, which is not a sign of a "very terrified" man. Saddam's machismo and his acute case of megalomania, coupled with his high sense of his role in Iraqi history (and his role unfortunately has been enhanced by the horrors of the American occupation of Iraq) would prevent him from showing any fear on camera. And when I saw the Iraqi puppet prime minister, Nuri Al-Maliki signing the death sentence of Saddam. I could not help but think: here is a man who has just signed two death sentences: one for Saddam, and the other for himself.
Can you blame people in the Middle East for being drawn to conspiracy theories? I mean, look at it. Here was a dictator who was supported and supplied back in the 1980s--and who warmly received none other than Donald Rumsfeld, the same Donald Rumsfeld, and then he was opposed but not overthrown by the US in 1991. He then is overthrown by the US, and his execution quickly arranged and choreographed, and the oil of the nation is taken over by private companies closely aligned with US economic interests. And here was a Palestinian leader, `Arafat, who suddenly fell ill, and the investigation of his death was clearly covered up by gangs loyal to the Israeli occupation. And you look at Lebanon and the succession of assassinations and bombings, and the foreign interferences in its affairs. I mean, do you blame people in the Middle East for being drawn to conspiracy theories? Attraction to conspiracy theories is merely a reflection of the sense that political affairs are clearly and heavily influenced by outside powers. It is logical to be drawn to conspiracy theories--and I am not talking about kooky conspiracy theories of course.
I have told you before that this Harvard sociologist is the White Man's favorite sociologist. Can you see why: "The [US] stands today as a global model in the sophistication and enforcement of its civil rights laws, the diversity of its elite, the participation of blacks and other minorities in its great corporations and its public cultural life, and in the embrace of blacks as an integral part of the nation and what it means to be an American."
Salih `Umar Al-`Ali, who broke (belatedly--very belatedly--with Saddam in the 1980s, and who was chosen to read the death verdicts of the "spy ring" back in 1968) spoke on AlJazeera today. He expressed his regret for...opposing Saddam. He went on to pay tribute to Saddam. He said that the current government in Iraq is worse than Saddam's government. Why can't one oppose both governments? And do I really want to see George Galloway offer his commentaries on Middle East politics? Basically, just as the US forgives dictatorships that are pro-US, Galloway forgives Middle East dictatorships that are critical of the US. What is the difference? And who will console Ramsey Clark? Ramsey Clark cares more about Saddam than he cares about the people of Iraq. When I saw the footage of people dancing in the streets yesterday to the news of Saddam's execution, I could not help but think: did some of those people dance in previous years to the news of execution of Saddam's enemies by Saddam? Did some of those people yell in previous years--that most repugnant of a chant: "with spirit, with blood, we sacrifice ourselves for you, o Saddam"? I wonder.
Yesterday, Drudgereport had a picture of what it said is "the site of the execution of Saddam." (It was a picture of the Hajj).
I saw Al-Iraqiyya TV last night (you can get it in the US on Globecast satellite). What a channel. It has the feel and texture of a propaganda channel of a tyrannical (and sectarian) regime. It aired non-stop dancing and singing. But it was eerie when they aired a song (sung by a children choir) which basically celebrated executions. Welcome, to the new Iraq.
I noticed that AlJazeera kept airing footage of Saddam with King Husayn. A good reminder of that friendship--you know that Saddam allowed his friend King Husayn to fire the first shot of the Iran-Iraq war? Did you know that the current King of Jordan was very close to `Udayy Husayn? They used to party together. . But I noticed that AlJazeera did not air footage of him with King `Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, or with Husni Mubarak.
Mu`ammar Qadhdhafi is very upset. He declared Saddam a prisoner of war and ordered a three-days of mourning. Qadhdhafi will soon receive a US official who will lecture him on the rules of a US puppet. He still is adjusting to that role, can't you tell? But he will learn.
For those who care, I shall speak about last year's political developments on Aljazeera (Arabic) tomorrow (Sunday) at 1:00PM (Pacific Time). (Viewers will be caramelized).
Now there are "good" torturers (those who are supported by the US) and there are "bad" torturers (those who are not supported by US). In fact, torture in pro-US governments in the Middle East is now officially called REFORM.
"He is alleged to have been a leader of the Argentinian Anticommunist Alliance, known as the Triple A, which Argentinian prosecutors hold responsible for more than 600 deaths, according to the newspaper El País." Anti-communist? I wonder which super power supported him over the years. Do you have any guesses? (thanks Dale)
A reader from Syria--let us call her D.--sent me a message. Here is an excerpt: " I want to tell you a small secret, something I noticed during my 8 years of living here: we are all against our regime in a way or other, but we'll be shot, decapitated, resurected to be hanged again if we'll allow our country to become like Iraq. We saw what liberation did, we know, oh, so well we know, and the images won't get erased from our memory. Our government will come to an end, I'm sure. But it will come at our hands. Until then we compromise."

Friday, December 29, 2006

"The New York Times called Wafa Sultan an "international sensation." Before long, she was giving talks on Muslim extremism at universities, and participating in conferences on Islam in Washington, D.C., and throughout Europe. This past May, Time magazine named her one of the 100 most influential people in the world....She is now focused on a book she's writing, titled The Escaped Prisoner: When Allah Is a Monster."
From the book the Fall of the Golan Heights.
Don't cry for me Mesopotamia: no tears for Saddam. Yet again, the Bush administration looks stupid exactly when it thinks it is being smart, or when it thinks it is being strategic in its actions. Saddam Husayn was not your typical tyrant: he was not even a consistent ideologue; unlike what his supporters would like to think. Saddam switched his views and stances, all depending on the interest of his tyrannical regime. He flirted (and more than flirted) with the US and Israel for much of the 1980s. He was a pagan and atheist in the 1970s: you can see that in the commissioned biographies from that time (Iskandar, Matar, etc), before discovering piety after his defeat in 1991--see my article in the Muslim World journal in which I compared Nasser after 67 defeat with Saddam after 91 defeat, and how they both discovered religion and Jabriyyah in their political thought. But what was always consistent about him: was his deep jealousy of Nasser, and his deep eagerness to emulate Nasser (this is similar to the deep jealousy that characterizes Walid Jumblat's attitude to Hasan Nasrallah). Yet, he had none of Nasser's qualities: he was not modest in his lifestyle, and nor was his family--to put it mildly, and he had none of the oratorical skills of Nasser. Saddam had to pay to get support outside of Iraq, Nasser did not have to pay a mallim. Lebanese columnist Samir `Atallath tells the story of the Arab journalist who visited Saddam during the tough years of the Iran-Iraq war. When the journalist was in Saddam's office, a huge massive bomb was heard, and it shook the building where they were seated. Saddam did not move nor did he show any emotion. He then turned to the journalist and asked: Do you think that Nasser would have acted as calmly, or words to that effect? The Iraqi people of course has the right if they wish to exact a punishment on Saddam for his crimes against Iraqis (and against others). But the execution has been marred by a number of issues that will later serve to backfire against the ruling puppet government of Iraq, and its backers in the US. 1) the entire course of legal and political processes in Iraq, including the weekly or monthly elections, are not legitimate in the presence of the American occupiers. All day long, administration propagandists kept stressing that this was an Iraqi decision. Yeah. Sure. This year, Iraqi puppet officials, including the former puppet prime minister, admitted that in fact the ruling prime minister of Iraq can't order a police officer on a mission without the authorization of US occupiers. And they now want us to believe that the Iraqis acted entirely on their own, as if they can. And the timing itself: it was not dictated by US calculations? And Iraq is not supposed to be sovereign and independent? And the 140,000 US troops are merely there for purposes of traffic control around the country? Whether they are elections or trials, the processes under foreign occupation are not legitimate or valid, certainly not in the eyes of Arab public opinion. 2) The trial itself, like everything that the US managed in Iraq, were bungled. If the US occupiers wanted to show Arabs a legal system or a court proceeding unlike what they have in their own countries, the US failed miserably, just as it failed miserably in translating any of its empty rhetorical promises. The trial was in fact as cartoonish and as politically managed as trials in neighboring Arab countries. From the changes of the judge (and whatever happened to that judge who went missing as soon as he said in "court" that he does not consider Saddam to be a tyrant?), to the selection of the crimes--clearly intending to spare Gulf countries, Europe, and US embarrassment from their association with the crimes of Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war years. That was why Dujayl--of all his crimes--was chosen. And notice that the Anfal trial was rushed in order to not link it to his other crimes during the time. 3) The decision to execute Saddam will further aggravate sectarian tensions in the region. Sistani had to even change the day of `Id Al-Adha. Even the `iD can be changed by that most cowardly of clerics--who was cowardly under Saddam and is cowardly under US occupation. Of course, this could not have been inevitable. In other words, had the puppet governments of Iraq not act in blatantly sectarian ways and forms--and the US occupation was clear from the beginning on utilizing--typically unsuccessfully--and exploiting sectarian differences in Iraq, the people of Iraq could have come together to condemn the crimes of Saddam and to accept a fair and legitimate trial. But the successive Shi`ite sectarian governments of US-occupied Iraq, and their sectarian Shi`ite militias, brought many of the Sunnis of Iraq closer with Saddam. And the support that the puppet government of Iraq receives from Iran and from Hizbullah--openly or not so openly, it does not matter--only serves to reinforce the sectarian cast of the ruling puppet government. This execution will go down as a sectarian decision and not as a political or legal decision, as it should be, because the ruling government a) relies on a foreign army of occupation; and b) because the ruling government employs sectarian death squads that have been killing Sunni Iraqis and Palestinians; c) because the ruling death squads are inspired by a Grand (not at all) Ayatollah who left his house only once in 6 years. AlArabiya (a virtual arm of the propaganda apparatus of the occupation) thought it was being smart when it asked a Shi`ite cleric to first appear and praise the execution. But that cleric is known to be an advocate for occupation. 4) This will not represent the end of the Ba`th Party. In fact, the Iraq Ba`th Party got rid of its worse baggage. Now the Ba`th can unfortunately rally and re-emerge without having to answer or account for the crimes of Saddam. Now they can claim that they did not know, and did not authorize--that it was all Saddam and his two sons who are all dead. The Ba`th Party will come back, just as the Taliban seem to be returning--yet another sign of the failures of the Bush Doctrine. Not a single element of that doctrine was fulfilled, or will be fulfilled. And the Ba`th party, I always argued, is as brutal in the underground as it is in government. 5) Arab regimes are more secure than ever--not from their people (who are either sleeping or outraged over Danish cartoons) but from the wrath of the US. All Arab regimes now know that the option of another US war against any other Arab regime is ruled out for a long time to come. That option was squashed by the stupidity of this administration, and the abysmal failures of the Bush doctrine. Arab regimes are now secure in the belief that the US will resort to threats but threats of a different kind. This explains the recent self-confident tone of the Iranian and Syrian regimes. 6) The quality of the US puppets in Baghdad have in a weird (and unfortunate way) increased the credibility of Saddam in the eyes of some Iraqis and more non-Iraqi Arabs. 7) Revenge attacks will be planned and executed, in Iraq and beyond. The execution of Saddam will be seen by Ba`thists and non-Ba`thists alike as killing of a "leader" and will be used to justify the assassination of Middle East leaders, especially those who are close to the US. 8) People in the region will look back at Saddam with some nostalgia because Arab leaders are now more submissive and subservient than ever to US/Israel, and Saddam's bombast and bluster in his last years will be remembered. 9) It is a sign that the Bush administration has nothing to offer but same of the same. Some brilliant mind in the White House I suspect came up with this idea of the execution hoping that it will galvanize American public opinion--they don't think beyond that. 10) It may be a sign that the US is ready to leave Iraq. It may be part of tying the knots before leaving; they are trying to make sure that Saddam will not be there after they leave. 11) It is because Saddam was such a brutal tyrant, he deserved to be tried in a legitimate and real court; where a non-sectarian government can make him account for his crimes. But that was not to be in the presence of a sectarian puppet government, backed by foreign occupiers. 12) I personally am most happy that Saddam will no more be producing novels and poetry. (I can't believe that `Abdul-Bari `Atwan in his most (grotesquely) hagiographic tribute to Saddam today referred to Saddam's court fulminations as "eloquent")! 13) I am not happy with the coverage that I am watching on AlJazeera now. It is way too somber and way too melancholic, and they ran non-stop a statement by Saddam's nephew, all day long, just as AlArabiyya coverage is way to celebratory and fake in trying to deny the sectarian undertones of the perception of the execution (that is perceived of an act by Kurdish and Shi`ite militias (backed by US) against a "Sunni". Is it not ironical that Al-Arabiya was trolling out Shi`ite voices to legitimize the execution on the same day that a senior Wahhabi cleric in Saudi Arabia officially declared the infidelity of Shi`ites? AlJazeera needs to add footage and coverage of Saddam's crimes. 14) The contemporary history of Iraq will continue to be bloody. I once asked my professor, Hanna Batatu (search the archives of this site for my entry on his great book on Iraq) as to why he was late in producing his book on Iraq. He told me that when he finished his dissertation, he was ready to turn it into a book. But the bloodshed of the early 1960s, and the hanging of communists from electricity poles by Ba`thists, bitterly distressed him. He could not come back to his notes, he told me.
Ethiopian troops are insisting that they will withdraw from Somalia as soon as they complete their mission. Syrian troops said that in 1976 when they first entered Lebanon. Israeli troops never promise to withdraw from lands they occupy.
When I think that the news from Lebanon are gloomy, I come across good news: "On the 17th of October, the Criminal Records Sub-Division in Beirut started giving a new computerized form of criminal records.The citizens are able now, within the official working hours, to obtain this new form in a couple of minutes, only by presenting their identity card or civil status extract directly to the officer in charge.This new procedure aims at sparing the citizens time and efforts." Also the brilliant police minds in Beirut, advise you to hang your bag around your neck--and then stretch until you can't breathe: "In order to limit such a phenomenon, the Directorate General of the I.S.F has given the following instructions: · Watch out for the bikes especially when they carry two persons. · Keep your bag hung around your neck. · Let the bag be on the side of the wall."
" Chavez to shut down opposition TV" (Pro-US dictatorships in the Middle East don't even allow opposition, let alone opposition media)
Well, at least I will no more be subjected to Saddam's lousy novels and poetry.
"Al-Madinah newspaper reported recently that the rate of domestic servants fleeing their sponsors is as high as 70 percent. When they flee, to find jobs with higher salaries, their sponsors lose large amounts of money spent recruiting them and paying for their visas." (Notice that the sympathy of the article is with the employers, and not with the servants. And there is no curiosity on the part of the writer as to the high right of flight of servants.) (thanks Victoria)
When you only have failures to show, throw an execution to the crowd, and hope to get their minds off your abysmal record.
Why Bush will make great progress in Iraq. It is logical, really. Well, Bush, according to Bush, has been making steady progress in Iraq since he invaded Iraq. And now he has a new strategic plan according to which, Bush will offer more--but much more--of the same. So that implies that he will be making more and more progress in Iraq--more of the same progress. OK.
Another reason to detest Annan: "Annan Made the Nations a Little Less United Against Israel." (thanks Laleh)
My sources tell me that Seymour Hirsh is preparing an article that deals with the investigation of the Hariri assassination. I am told that Mehlis will not be pleased; I am told that Walid Jumblat will not be pleased either.
"Witness statements reported by The Times on Nov. 15 indicated that a U.S. airstrike might have killed at least 30 people, including women and children."
"The delivery, which included 2,000 AK-47 rifles, 20,000 magazines and 2 million bullets, would have a street value in Gaza of about £6m. It arrived in Israel from Egypt at the Kerem Shalom border crossing in four lorries and was escorted by military police to the Karni crossing into Gaza, where it was received by members of the presidential guard."
Signs of "liberation" in the Somali capital: "Gunfire echoed around the capital as news of the withdrawal spread. SCIC bases were looted and several people were killed in a return to the anarchy that plagued the city before the courts came to power six months ago. Within hours, warlords who had been driven out by the Islamists were reclaiming their turf, including the presidential palace and the city's main port."
Fu'ad Sanyurah threw a party at his official headquarters yesterday to celebrate the wedding of his son Wa'il--shown above (the one in the front row, to the right, with his mouth open). Congratulations. When Sanyurah was asked about his feelings on the occasion, he said:" hoo hoo." (thanks to Wa'il's classmate who sent me the picture). PS. Correction. I am told it was not a wedding but an engagement party. Secondly, the Sanyurah son is in the middle in the front row, with glasses.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Maronite Patriarch today tossed yet another pearl of wisdom. He said: "Unfortunately, strikes are legal in Lebanon."
`Umar Nashshabah on an ignored topic: mistreatment of prisoners in Lebanon. (At least the mistreatment is not sectarian; it affects all).
There is indeed a new strategic plan for Iraq. I have a feeling that this will turn things around.
It is a miracle. The right-wing, sectarian Christian Lebanonese newspaper, An-Nahar, uncharacteristically published a report on South Lebanon. Wait. It is about the Christians of South Lebanon only. Never mind.
The orders have arrived. Notice how all Saudi media refer to the Somali "government troops" when talking about the invading Ethiopian troops. Did Annan say a word about the invasion?
I read the full text of Saddam's typically tedious letter from jail. His mind is more jumbled than usual, I would say. But what was striking to me is that his characteristic conceit has not diminished one bit in jail. He said at one point: "Many of you have known the owner of this letter in honesty, integrity, clean-handedness, care for people, wisdom, foresight, justice, and firmness in dealing with matters, concern for the money of the people and the money of the state, and that everything lives in his conscience, mind, and that his heart aches and his mind does not rest until he lifts up the status of the poor, and to meet the need the needy, and his heart grows to accommodate all his people and nation, and to be faithful and pious...." What was that?
Hamas prime minister, Isma`il Haniyyah, "expressed hope" to be able to meet the Saudi king during his Hajj. I don't think the US will allow the Saudi king. What can you expect from a movement if its leader's hope is to meet with the Saudi king.
Did you notice that facing Walid Jumblat in his house during his interview on Al-Arabiya was a huge portrait of...himself.
Joseph Samahah on the "internal role of the international tribunal"
I am burning with...anticipation. I can't wait. I really can't. I am talking of course about Bush's new plan for Iraq. I know what it will contain: it will be more, much more, of the same. But I am still excited. I can't wait. How thrilling. What a brilliant plan. What a brilliant mind you have in the oval office.
From my archives: an interview with Walid Jumblat.
"Question: this does not prevent the question, about the fact the Progressive Socialist Party did not participate in operations [of resistance] against Israel; permitting the passage of arms is not sufficient?
Answer: I say that we participated in the way that we felt was appropriate, by allowing weapons, materials, and men to pass through the mountain." In several part of the interview he used the word "ghadr" (treachery) (the same word he now uses to describe Hizbullah) about the Gemayyels and their militias. He also said: "Ghaddar (treacherous) is Amin Gemayyel. Ghaddar. The school of murder and ghadr is known by Amin Gemayyel, and the Gemayyel family brought into Lebanon--they and their tools. Car bombs, from Pierre down....How to look at Bashir [Gemayyel]? A reckless and sectarianly spiteful--very sectarianly spiteful man. Surrounded by killers. He came into power by the bayonet of Sharon...." In the same interview he also claimed that it was Abu Jamal (`Abdul-Halim Khaddam) who forced him to negotiate with Bashir and Amin Gemayyel. From As-Safir, April, 23, 1987, pp. 3-5.
Compassionate conservatism: "Mr. Horst, the biographer, puzzled over the seeming contradiction between the president’s personal and professional philosophies: “The problem with him — he doesn’t like to be kidded about it — but the fact is, this guy would, if he saw a school kid in front of the White House who needed clothing, if he was the right size, he’d give him the shirt off his back, literally. Then he’d go right in the White House and veto the school lunch bill.”"
He is now officially crowned the Antoine Lahd of the PA: "Israel Confirms Arms Shipment Sent to Aid Abbas"
"According to an annual B'Tselem report, from the beginning of 2006 to December 27, Israeli security forces have killed 660 Palestinians, a figure more than three times the number of Palestinians killed in 2005, which was 197....According to the report, about half of the Palestinians killed, 322, did not take part in the hostilities at the time they were killed. 22 of those killed were targets of assassinations, and 141 were minors...According to the report, the IDF demolished 292 Palestinian houses, 95 percent of them in the Gaza Strip. These were home to 1,769 people." (thanks Maryam)
"In three current high-profile criminal cases, federal prosecutors have asked that the identities of Israeli government witnesses be withheld from defendants and their attorneys — a move some legal scholars see as a highly unusual end run around the 6th Amendment." (thanks Mouin)
NY Daily News: Ford "said he'd told Bush he supported the war in Iraq." And the Washington Post: "Ford Disagreed With Bush About Invading Iraq". OK.
May Shidyaq (in her interview with the Maronite Patriarch on Tueaday) bravely asked him about the monies and "fortune" of the church. The Patriarch said: "the church has no money."
Abdullah sent me this from Beirut: "I arrived beirut airport last night. after going through the passport check I recognized Rula Amin from Aljazeera international (cnn in a past life). she couldn't get through to the baggage area and was held there for a bit. while my passport was being stamped i heard some guys in the office behind me talking about where she was from. I don't know if she was able to go in. But all i heard was her saying that she's been coming to the country for four years the same way. I have no clue what was meant by that statement."
"Never should it be forgotten that Jimmy Carter campaigned against Ford as the prophet of neo-liberalism, precursor of the Democratic Leadership Council, touting "zero-based budgeting"."
"Old story: Women may have it worse: Divorce and lost earning time could put living standards in a free fall late in life."
"A former Iraqi Cabinet minister who escaped from a Baghdad prison this month has arrived in Jordan on a U.S. plane, Jordan's prime minister said Tuesday. Ayham al-Samaraie, a former minister of electricity with dual U.S. and Iraqi citizenship, had been serving time for corruption when he escaped mid-December."
The White Man went to Beirut and found some "civilized" people: "The Christian Aounists in orange may be fools for forming an alliance with a bullying Islamist army. But they are civilized people who have no interest in war or jihad." (thanks Emily)
"Ford added, "Any criticism in the press drove him crazy." Kissinger would come in and say: "I've got to resign. I can't stand this kind of unfair criticism." Such threats were routine, Ford said. "I often thought, maybe I should say: 'Okay, Henry. Goodbye,' " Ford said, laughing. "But I never got around to that.""

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"One can argue that he was the President first paving the way toward an Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement."
"Egypt transfers arms to Fatah with Israeli approval"
""Dalits have faced a unique discrimination in our society that is fundamentally different from the problems of minority groups in general. The only parallel to the practice of untouchability was apartheid.""
"Immigration to Israel hit its lowest in 18 years in 2006 due to a drop in the number of Jews arriving from former Soviet states, although immigration from North America edged higher, figures showed on Wednesday."
" Patrick Fearon at AG Edwards said the greenback was hurt by a report that the UAE plans to convert eight percent of its foreign-exchange reserves from dollars to euros by late 2007." (One phone call from a US official to a UAE leader is sufficient to thwart such plans).
When you are paid to lie. Samir `Atallah*, a reliable (and often entertaining) Lebanese columnist who was one of the pioneers for advocating journalistically for the House of Saud back in the early 1970s, here says that most media in Lebanon are under the control of the opposition. Of course, most media in Lebanon are under the control of Hariri and/or Saudi Arabia.
*Samir `Atallah was driving the car with Michel Abu Jawdah, the well-known daily columnist for An-Nahar, in 1974, when goons of As-Sa`iqah (a tool of the Syrian regime that barely exists today as a "PLO organization") kidnapped Abu Jawdah. As the story goes, `Atallah fled as soon as he saw the armed men and ran all the way from Rue Madame Curie to An-Nahar's offices on Hamra street. He arrived into the editorial office Ghassan Tuwayni and sobbed, feeling sorry about abandoning his colleague.
Unsurprisingly, the Saudi government seems to also be supporting the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. Notice that this Saudi newspaper makes it sound as if the invasion is merely an operation by "Somali government troops"--as if there is a Somali government--assisted by Ethiopian troops.
People forget that both sides are bad in the Somali war, and the other side (supported by US/Saudi Arabia (and I am sure Israel is not far behind) is a bunch of criminal warlords. My feelings toward the Somali civil war is similar to the feelings of Henry Kissinger toward the Iran-Iraq war: I want both sides to lose.
High-tech Lebanese Police. Ooooh. I have written before about the competence and skills of the Lebanese security forces. Here, the "Information Department" of the Internal Security Forces (Hariri Militia in Lebanon), issued a statement in which it said that "the Office of Combating Information Crimes and the Protection of Intellectual Property which is part of the Special Criminal Investigation section in the Judicial Police Unit"--I am not making this title up--has uncovered information to the effect that there exists internet fraud through the promise of Nigerian-based cash settlements. The statement added that the offices of the Internal Security Forces have recently upgraded their computers and they now all use the top of the line, Windows 95.
When it snows in Lebanon, Lebanonese media treat the snow as if it is a special gift from God to Lebanon; or as if it only snows in Lebanon; or that the snow in Lebanon is unlike the snow elsewhere.
The Israeli and Egyptian foreign ministers yesterday.
"U.S. Signals Backing for Ethiopian Incursion Into Somalia". No. No way. I never knew. Never suspected it. (Also, notice that "friendly" invasions are always referred to as "incursions.")

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Marlin, an American correspondent in Beirut, sent me this note about Maronite Patriarch Sfayr and his ta' marbutah pronunciations (see below): "I've asked people in the past about Sfeir's ta marbutas, and heard two things: one, it's typical of the local Kisrwani dialect, and two, it's an influence of Syriac. When I retire, I will investigate this further."
"Despite Pledge, Israel Approves New Settlement". Abu Mazen (above) reacted to the news.
Please help us subjugate your co-religionists: "As US troops battle Islamic extremists abroad, the Pentagon and the armed forces are reaching out to Muslims at home. An underlying goal is to interest more Muslims in the military, which needs officers and troops who can speak Arabic and other relevant languages and understand the culture of places like Iraq and Afghanistan." (thanks Junaid)
I never liked the habit of calling sons by the name of the father (using Jr.). Lebanese (who love to emulate superficial Western habits) have acquired the habit--not common at all in the Arab world. So Emile Lahhud has Emile Jr., and the singer Mihlim Barakat has Milhim Jr. Not cute.
I don't buy the theory that the US may reinstall the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam in Iraq. That would be too embarrassing. But they may install the Taliban in Iraq, and Saddam in Afghanistan.
It is hilarious. When Israeli or US media like an Arab journalist and approve of his/her politics, they refer to him/her as "respected journalist." Hilarious.
On the tombstone of any US official, you can always inscribe: "He/she was a great supporter of Israel." They all are.
"What has long been a catastrophic tragedy is also now a horrific farce: The British occupation army's assault on its own police force in Basra confirms Iraq as a far greater disaster than Suez"
`Abdul-Bari `Atwan wrote a very disturbing tribute to Saddam Husayn, of all people.
Many Lebanese have been saying that it is not a coincidence that holy days of Christians, Muslims, and Druze coincided this year. They are implying that there is a divine design. Yes, God (assuming he/she exists) is so consumed with your little insignificant country that he/she wants to really impress you. He/she thinks about you all the time. Maybe he/she gave you a history of civil wars to entertain you?
"The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks -- including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer -- according to Pentagon officials."
I hear that the children of Rev. Billy Graham are quarreling over where to bury their father when he dies. Well, I have ideas; many ideas. I am totally open to making suggestions to the family of Ayatollah Graham. Feel free to contact me.
Hizbullah rightly blames the Hariri Inc (and its regional and international patrons) for the instigation and aggravation of Sunni-Shi`ite discord in the region. But Hizbullah can be also accused of sectarian bias (not only in terms of the composition of the party) due to its uncritical stance toward Grand (not really) Ayatollah Sistani and the gangs of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq--which serves as a puppet of the American occupation, having served for years as a puppet of the Iranian regime.
A festival of anti-Muslim bigotry on LBC-TV. I could not believe it. I watched May Shidyaq's program today. She featured the Maronite Patriarch, Nasrullah Sfayr. The last segment featured a report on the plight of Christians in the Holy Land and in "the East"--Lebanonese nationalists always use the term "East" instead of the Arab world because they are Pheonicians. Oh, yeah, Pheonicians. The report about the Christians in Palestine said not one word about Israel or about the occupation. You would not even know about Israel or the occupation if you watched that report. The report included some interviews. The Chaldean Bishop of Lebanon spoke first. He said that the East without Christians is like a flower without a color or without a scent; or like light without...light (well, he is not renowned for his literary skills). They then interviewed Greek Orthodox Bishop, George Khodr (who writes those tedious articles in An-Nahar who publishes them because he was a classmate of Ghassan Tuwayni--the owner). Khodr said that Lebanon due to its Christians has distinctions that separate Lebanon and the East from Bangladesh or Pakistan. He also said that the East without the Christians will have no "splendor." The show must have been really bad for the self-esteem of non-Christians of the East who were watching. They don't mention that the flight of Christians from the "East" (which is predominantly motivated by economic not political reasons--Muslims are fleeing too) has been facilitated by Western governments which practice clear sectarian standards especially in recent years with the use and misuse of political asylum cases in which many applicants (I do a lot of consulting for immigration lawyers in the US, so I know about that) concoct stores of persecution. Not that there is no persecution. But who is not persecuted? In some cases Muslims are more persecuted than Christians (like in Syria and Iraq under the Ba`th). Which reminds me. This Palestinian wanted to come to the US utilizing political asylum cases. So he concocted a story of how he was persecuted as a gay person, and that he was kidnapped and shot at by Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. The story traveled and Western reporters were alerted. Human rights groups around the world took note. A documentary filmmaker interviewed him. It came out in the course of interviews with him and with others that he made the story up. Oh, he is now safely settled in the US.
I have written before about the Lebanese fascination with ranking (of everything). Here, there is a claim of the "biggest" Bûche de Noël in downtown Beirut.
Why does Patriarch Sfayr pronounce the ta' marbutah, as in Azmat instead of Azmah? Why? I mean, I understand his urges for censorships, sectarian sentiments, and his opposition to gender mixing but why the pronunciation of ta' marbutah?
May Shidyaq in an interview with Patriarch Sfayr on LBC-TV today talked about "some values" that are invading Lebanon from the outside and are "alien to our sociey and its traditions." Oh, yeah. The traditions of civil strife, brutal gang warfares, sectarian animosities, fake cultural pretensions and claims, and communal hatreds; all that are part of Lebanon's traditions and customs. For sure.
Some Jordanian (state-sponsored) intellectuals are the worst examples of public intellectuals anywhere. Some are unwilling to criticize the King, and in fact they heap praise on the Jordanian royal family, and yet only get incensed over the plight of Saddam in jail. Many exhibit an infatuation with Saddam, for some reason.
Many people have written to me about my brief note on the Progressive. I did meet the staff of the magazine and liked them. I back then made suggestions about the website and the staff clearly were sympathetic to my opposition to the way Rothschild has turned the website--if not the magazine but I have not seen it in a long time--into a collection of his musings on various issues of the day--something you are entitled to do on a blog. Norman Finkelstein sent me this link which contains exchanges that he had with the Progressive. And I wish that Rothschild has devoted as much time and energy to document crimes of occupations around the world instead of trying to prove--on the most flimsy of grounds--that Finkelstein is a "celebrity" of an anti-Semitic group.
Now I know that the construction of an exemplary Iraq model has not really worked out despite the arrest yesterday of two Iranian diplomats in Iraq. But neo-conservatives always point out to the actual exemplary model in the Kurdish (militia-dominated) region. Here is a glimpse: "They were not allowed the Koran, they said. Their rations were meager and often moldy. Sometimes the guards beat them, they said, and several inmates had disappeared. The entire inmate population had either been denied trials or had been held beyond the terms of their sentences, they said — lost in legal limbo in the Kurdish-controlled region of Iraq."
Nothing irritates more than articles in the New York Times about women and politics in foreign countries. The assumption of those articles is that there is full gender equality here in the US, unlike other countries when those countries are in reality invariably ahead of the US in terms of female political representation. Notice this article: "The assumption that politics is the domain of men has been perpetuated in part because of France’s history. The concept of universal suffrage first put forth by the 1789 revolution applied to men only, for example." French history? Is French history also responsible for the sexism, misogyny and male political domination that prevail here in the US?
Heroin addicts for Bush: "Supplies of highly potent Afghan heroin in the United States are growing so fast that the pure white powder is rapidly overtaking lower-quality Mexican heroin, prompting fears of increased addiction and overdoses."
"The pastor at St. Mel’s Roman Catholic Church in Queens said he believed the two men knew where they were going when they broke in through the back door and stole between $20,000 and $30,000 after morning Mass."
I like the Progressive. And I like the staff and and Matthew Rothschild when I visited their office in Madison, Wisconsin. But the website has to decide if it wants to be a Mathew Rothschild's blog or a website of a magazine with different writers. Make up your mind, folks.
When a country invades or bombs another country, and the UN remains silent you know that the US administration is not far behind.
Today I heard Saud Al-Faysal, the Saudi foreign minsiter, say that is government believes in transparency. Oh, yeah. Tell me how much of the oil revenues are confiscated by the House of Saud. Thanks, o transparent one.
"Three more American soldiers were killed in Iraq, officials said Tuesday, pushing the U.S. military death toll to at least 2,975 _ two more than the number killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."
You may go home now. It is over. The Iraq war is now officially over. The "liberation" is now completed. Those who are responsible for the resistance, insurgency, and all the bombings have been found and apprehended. That is right. Apparently, two Iranian diplomats were behind it all. Upon hearing the news, Iraqis took to the streets and danced.
George W. Bush mourns the death of a regional Taliban leader in Afghanistan: He "enriched our culture and influenced generations...his fans came from all walks of life and backgrounds."

Sunday, December 24, 2006

You can't say that US media are not reporting intelligent stories from Iraq: "The Marine pilot did manage to stay in touch with his family, though, sending a DVD of himself reading Dr. Seuss’s “The Grinch” for his 2 ½-year-old daughter. Thanks to technology, his wife, Teresa, was able to ask the little girl, “Do you want me to read to you tonight, or Daddy?”" For my international readers: this passes as foreign policy coverage in US publications.
Follow the money. "The debts by one of the world's wealthiest countries -- owed to the very lobbyists, advisers and event organizers hired to promote the kingdom -- have left a trail that weaves together bitter princely rivalries, diplomatic subterfuge and a policy clash over one of the thorniest issues of the day: what to do about Iran.
Sectarian troops. Aljazeera showed footage of training of the so-called Iraqi army. They were chanting "`Ali, O `Ali. `Ali, O `Ali." But this does not matter anymore. Read below about the new security plan for Baghdad which will end all conflict and bloodshed in Iraq, and beyond.
"If it was not for evil Iran, Blair implied, Iraq and Afghanistan could become holiday hotspots for tourists, following the example set by Dubai, which has had more than a million British visitors this year."
"Some in the Bush Administration had convinced themselves that Saddam was the source of all of the ills of the Middle East and that, therefore, any progress on any issue in the region first required Saddam's removal. This was a key piece of the neoconservative support for Laurie Mylroie's bizarre claims that Saddam was responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, as well as a number of other attacks.[8] Likewise, during the 1990s, this author personally heard individuals who would later become senior Bush Administration officials insist that Saddam's opposition had doomed American efforts to make peace between the Arabs and the Israelis in the 1980s. In so doing, they simply dismissed all of the evidence that no Arab leader except Hosni Mubarak had been more supportive of the peace process than Saddam during that period."
All the tributes to Jubran Tuwayni in US media failed to mention one item on his resume. He led a group of right-wing fascistic goons in 1991, and they stormed the US embassy in `Awkar, and wanted to set it on fire.
I read that Marwan Barghuti will be released from jail. The conspiracy requires his participation in the PA.
This Hariri adviser, and chairperson of the Hariri media, says that he received his PhD from the "University of Northern California in Los Angeles." OK.
Where but in the "professional" Saudi press can you find such news item. This is from the front page of Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat: "Prince Salman bin `Abdul-`Aziz, Amir of Riyadh region, honored the wedding party of Prince Faysal bin Sattam bin `Abdul-`Aziz..."
Bin Ladenites for Hariri. Hariri Inc held a rally in `Irsal in the Biqa` yesterday. The town has been a hotbed of Bin Ladenites in Lebanon. It has served as a major recruiting center for people who want to join Al-Qa`idah in Iraq.
I saw the results of a new Iraqi public opinion survey that was cited on AlArabiya TV. If anybody can find the full results please send them. I remember the figures: 50.7% of Iraqis want an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq; 20.something % of Iraqis want a phased withdrawal of US troops; while 14.something want a withdrawal to follow after an improvement in the security situation. And here I thought that the occupation is quite popular with the "liberated." What ingrates.
It is over: the Iraq mess is no more. There is a new security plan for Baghdad. I know. I know. You have grown cynical. I know. This is security plan number 121st. I know that you have lost faith in the credibility of the occupation authority. But this one is serious. I mean, I am cynical usually but I really believe that this is it. This security plan will spread peace and justice in Iraq, and beyond. Mark my words: this security plan will turn Iraq into the exemplary model that the neo-conservatives wanted it to be. I heard Iraqi puppet officials explain the plan on TV. It sounded most impressive. I was most impressed when the said that the plan will entail the use of "rapid deployment" troops. I mean if rapid deployment troops will not solve Iraqi's problems nothing will. It is over. Peace has finally reached Iraq thanks to the security plan number 121st. If only the occupiers thought of this brilliant idea earlier.
There was a gas explosion in a bakery that makes manaqish near the main gate of the American University of Beirut. Kofi Annan was most alarmed at the news. He said that he will add the damaged manaqish to the list of victims of the assassinations that followed Hariri's assassination. He said that the manaqish are now symbols of the Lebanese struggle for independence. The Washington Post will now feature manaqish in on its editorial pages. Tomorrow's edition will be printed with Za`tar. Enjoy.
This bakery in Beirut has a sign. It reads: "Please don't discuss politics. Thank you."
Unfortunately, he was wrong. I came across this interview that Jamal `Abdul-Nasser (I violate transliteration rules for his name) gave to a Soviet correspondent in February 1966. He was talking about King Faysal's effort to create an Islamic world organization. Nasser said: "There are some slogans that are being promoted, like the idea of establishing an Islamic alliance. This is not a new idea and we have seen similar attempts, and I think that you remember Baghdad Pact, and I don't think that the fate of this alliance if it comes into existence will be different from past efforts. The Arab people have rejected such alliances in the past and will reject them now too. The forces of colonialism and reaction inside the Arab world and outside it have started a new offensive."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What is wrong with this headline in the London Telegraph? "Israeli PM offers Abbas £51m peace gesture" (The money is Palestinian money, of course). This is like me stealing 10 dollars from somebody and then try to offer 2 dollars as a gift to that person.
"Like many Afghans, Khail believes that despite Musharraf's persistent denials, his country's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, still supports the Taliban and at least some of its allies. The intelligence documents show that the U.S. military shared this suspicion as recently as the start of this year."
Look at this story in the Washington Post. You always brace yourself when the Washington Post comes out with its monthly token story on one African-American. This story is like: a black man who does not want to be black. Look at the crux of this article: "For his entire life, Mason had been determined to not be defined by race." How can you not be defined by race when everybody around you defines you by race? How can you not be defined by race in a deeply racist society?
Once a year, US newspapers remember the Christians of the Middle East. How nice.
I was teaching in a visiting capacity one winter (a few years ago) at Colorado College. And I took a cab in Colorado Springs; the driver (not Abed, Robert Fisk's driver) was a native American. So he asked me about my job. I told him. He did not say anything. But a few minutes later, he looked back at me and very seriously said: "Do you tell your students about the White Man and what he did to our people"? It stayed with me.
Wow. Sen. Kerry fights back. He is defending himself against attacks by the Bush campaign more than TWO YEARS AGO. (The article lists Kerry's email. You may feel free to tell him how boring he is. He likes that. He likes to be reminded that he possess a boring personalty. I am told that he takes pride in that.)
S in Beirut tells me that leftists (real leftists not the Hariri leftists grouped under the banner of Yasar Dimuqrati-so called (this is like Jumblat grouping his sectarian followers under the banner of the Socialist Progressive party while his policies are Reactionary and Capitalist) are unhappy with both sides in Lebanon. Of the 1200 tents in downtown Beirut, not one belongs to the Lebanese Communist Party.
Qatar's foreign policy goes like this. One step to please Arab public opinion; 10 steps to please the US/Israel. One step to please Arab public opinion; 10 steps to please Israel/US. Today's vote at the UNSC was part of the steps to please US/Israel.
And another thing. Why does the Washington Post devote so much space to the coverage of Lebanon? This was never the case. It started with the Hummus Revolution when the Iraq war cheer leaders at the Post were hoping that they finally found a place to validate the Bush Doctrine. It would be nice once in a while to read such long articles about the Palestinians for example. Not to mention Iraqis.
This account in the Washington Post carries romanticization of the "Cedar Revolution." And every one of the "average regular" Lebanese interviewed is a supporter of the March 14th movement, and a member of the upper class. And Hariri's niece? Is that a representative sample of Lebanese masses? And why not cover those who descended into the squares on March 14th motivated by sectarian agendas, just as some are descending into the squares now motivated by sectarian agendas? But many Western reporters have a hard time believing that those "western-looking" crowds of March 14th--but without their Sri Lankan maids--are not nice and noble. Are they not telegenic and glamorous after all?
"Lawyers for eight Marines charged with involvement in the massacre of Iraqi civilians in Haditha 13 months ago have warned that they will point the finger much further up the chain of command if it means preventing their clients from being scapegoated."
"There are also large gaps between Jews and Arabs in receiving essential medical services."
The other day Walid Jumblat (probably after reading an article in the New York Review of Books which certifies him as a Lebanonese intellectual) wanted to compare his enemies in Lebanon to the Somali force of the Islamic courts. So he said that "we are facing" the equivalent of the Somali Islamic courts. But he--to his credit--quickly caught himself. He knew that his analogy makes him (and his allies) the equivalent of the notorious Somali warlords. So he added: "they are the Islamic courts...and the warlords."
I have no comment. But does Abbas not look the role? (And look at the expression on Olmert's face. It says it all. He looks like he is thinking: You are a great catch. Where did we get you. You are the chief of collaborators. You deserve a blender. You are so pathetically subservient.)
"Egypt reports two new human cases of bird flu" (Lebanon jealous; claims it had bird flu cases first)
Secular-liberal writer Hazim Saghiyyah (who writes for Saudi propaganda publications) is worried that Shi`ism is spreading among Sunnis by Iranian design. Hazim Saghiyyah now sounds like Mufti Muhammad `Ali Juzu. They fit.
I wish Clovis Maqsud would take a stand on the Lebanese situation. He writes weekly articles in An-Nahar and I still don't know where he stands. It seems that he wants to stay on good terms with everybody--a recipe of avoiding taking a stand on any issue.
Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Nasrullah Sfayr issued his x-mass massage. He pledged to continue to work for the causes that are most dear to his heart: 1) book burning (and especially anything that has to do with the Da Vinci Code); 2) preventing gender integration in public squares and protests; 3) to make sure that Muslims elect Muslims and Christians elect Christians. Good night. And why are Palestinian and Syrian priests and ministers less annoying than their Lebanese counterparts?
White Man Likes Me. White Man Likes Me. The headline of this Libyan newspaper is a report that Tony Blair praised Mu`ammar Qadhdhafi.
What does Waddah Shararah write? Some people make an effort to be obscure hoping that they can sound as profound as Hegel. But some people are obscure and superficial. Sadiq Jalal Al-`Adhm once observed to me that Waddah Shararah writes an inside-joke with....himself. (And it is not even funny).
Arab "liberals" are an odd bunch. They ostensibly champion "liberal" values while working for Saudi Wahhabi propaganda services, and supporting Western colonialism. They also are blatant in their contempt for poor people; they also support human rights but only in countries that are on bad terms with Saudi Arabia. But then again: is that no similar to the contradictions of Western liberalism itself? Here, a writer in the Hariri rag complains that the rif-rafs of Lebanon are turning his downtown into Suq Al-Hamidiyyah. I sure hope that they do.
Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert are America's preeminent authors of corny stories from the heartland. I don't know what is more painful: watching Brokaw converse with Russert or watching Larry King interview Tony Danza.
Today, Fu'ad Sanyurah, issued his holiday greetings in the British accent that he had acquired from years of schooling in Sidon and Beirut. He pronounced the word "holiday" as: "haalidaaaa".
What Bernard Lewis discussed with Qadhdhafi: Why you need to read this Libyan newspaper. If you are a student of political theory, this newspaper is a must. It is called Az-Zahf Al-Akhdar (the Green March (Crawl is even a more accurate translation)). I mean, where else will you find such articles on political thought? This one, for example, is a "Study of the Thought of Plato and Mu`ammar Al-Qadhdhafi." Now I know what Bernard Lewis talked about in his 4 hours meeting with Qadhdhafi. Qadhdhafi in his fake leftist years, used to patronize and cultivate leftist and Arab nationalist intellectuals. Now, it seems, he has found neo-conservative intellectuals to cultivate. The Sultan/president can always find intellectuals to control and to use. There is never a shortage.
I heard chief PA charlatan, Sa'ib `Urayqat, speak on Al-Arabiya today. He was talking about the "good and productive" meeting. For a second I thought that Fath gang leaders have met with Hamas leaders only to know better: Fath gangs are willing to meet unconditionally with Israeli officials (just like the Syrian regime) but they have a number of conditions before they agree to meet with Hamas leaders. He said that the Israeli government agreed to the formation of a committee to "look into" the matter of the more than 10,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. What progress. An Israeli official said that they also agreed--how generous--to relax the entry of Palestinians through Israeli checkpoints: he should have said that Palestinian occupation agents, spies, collaborators, and Dahlan goons will continue to receive special preferential treatment on Israeli checkpoints. A Palestinian sent me this about `Urayqat last week: ""...Saeb Urayqat used to teach at An-Najah University of Nablus, my home town. He was then very notorious as a boot licker. He never respected the fact that a university professor should have dignity enough not to belittle himself for people whom he thinks may do him a favour. He used to run the stair case of the main gate like a small boy to open the door of the car of the chairman of the board of trustees & carry his attache, a behavior that was astonishing to the people of Nablus who, by nature, are well known for looking high at themselves. That's why I am never astonished with any base behaviour he may have. This is the legacy that Arafat has left for us!!!!""
This Hariri family adviser who lives in the US, found the answer. Lebanese Shi`ites are "mercenaries", he said. He also is worried about the "threat" that they pose to Israel. He wants you to go and "liberate" Lebanon for him. Would you?
Lebanese politics. I was looking at issues of An-Nahar newspaper from 1970. The ugliness of Lebanese politics is so striking. You read the names of the politicians of that year and you realize that the same names remain with us today--the same families that have ruled Lebanon for decades, nay centuries especially in the case of Christians and Druzes. In July of 1970, for example, you read that Kamal Jumblat (Walid's father) was nominating Jamil Lahhud (Emile's father) to be president of Lebanon. You also read that Pierre Gemayyel (Amin's father) and Kamil Sham`un (Duri's father) were supporting Sulayman Franjiyyah (Sulyaman's grandfather) to be president of Lebanon. But it is interesting that power of the Sunni and Shi`ite feudal dynasties have been eliminated. In the case of the Sunnis, Rafiq Hariri created a new dynasty--but it is a dynasty built
Iraqization. (Al-`Arqanah). Bush and his crowd wanted to turn Iraq into an emulatable model for the Middle East. In the press conference that `Amr Musa (secretary-general of the Arab League) gave in Beirut today, many of the questions by nervous journalists were about the fears of `arqanah (Iraqization) of Lebanon. The word was first used by Musa at the beginning of his mission when he warned against the horrific prospect. Add that to the list of accomplishments of Bush and his administration.

Friday, December 22, 2006

"Nevertheless, the draft law lays the ground work for private oil companies to take large stakes in Iraq's oil. The new law would allow the controversial partnerships known as 'production sharing agreements' (PSA). Oil companies favor PSAs, because they limit the risk of cost overruns while giving greater potential for profit. PSAs tend to be massive legal agreements, designed to replace a weak or missing legal framework -- which is helpful for a country like Iraq that lacks the laws needed to attract investment. It's also dangerous. It means governments are legally committing themselves to oil deals that they've negotiated from a position of weakness. And, the contracts typically span decades. Companies argue they need long-term legal security to justify huge investments in risky countries; the current draft recommends 15 to 20 years."
"I also task him for not voting against the absurd congressional resolution blindly supporting Israel's Lebanon war, whose avowed target was the civilian political supporters of Hizbullah ­ he voted "present," a cowardly act for someone who wants to be a leader of the left."
"The ambitions proclaimed when the neo-cons' mission statement "The Project for the New American Century" was declared in 1997 have turned into disappointment and recriminations as the crisis in Iraq has grown. "The Project for the New American Century" has been reduced to a voice-mail box and a ghostly website. A single employee has been left to wrap things up." (thanks Hicham)
"Religion does more harm than good - poll: 82% say faith causes tension in country where two thirds are not religious" (thanks G)
If there is penalty for being bland, there should be one applied to Nichols. He assures you that Carter is not anti-Israeli (notice that it is the only credential that the Nation magazine cares about--I mean, why not try to disprove somebody being anti-Palestinian?). He also uses the Camp David accords (which have caused more war and oppression in the region, not less) as part of the alleged achievements of Carter. And notice the introduction of the piece, where nobody is really guilty because all are. (This is the school of thought that the Arab-Israeli conflict is right-versus-right or wrong-versus-wrong and these schools provide pretexts for Israeli occupation and oppression).
"Christians in the Middle East are being put at unprecedented risk by the Government’s “shortsighted” and “ignorant” policy in Iraq, The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, says today."
You read sentences like this in US newspapers in passing: "He agreed to harbor a U.S. military base after it was driven out of Uzbekistan, a favor that ensured that the U.S. administration would show tolerance for blatant abuses of human rights in Turkmenistan, regardless of President Bush's proclaimed mission of bringing freedom and democracy to the world."
When you hear US officials talk about "Arab moderates" this is what they have in mind: "The rape victim was sentenced to 90 lashes for having been with a male friend, which is illegal in this strictly segregated country." Saudi Arabia is their model of moderation.
Here is a brilliant mind on foreign policy: " US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Iraq is "worth the investment" in American lives and dollars and said the US could still win the war."
"Am I dreaming, looking-glass-like, when I recall that in April of 1976, Prime Minister John Vorster of South Africa - one of the architects of this vile Nazi-like system of apartheid - paid a state visit to Israel and was honoured with an official reception from Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin, war hero Moshe Dayan and future Nobel prize-winner Yitzhak Rabin? This of course, certainly did not become part of the great American debate on Carter's book." (Caution. Robert Fisk (not his driver, Abed) is not readable on Lebanon).
Those who care about the Palestinians (and about the people of Syria) can't--should not--trust the Syrian regime--or any other Arab regime for that matter.
Such conferences should be shunned just as conferences in Israel should be shunned.
"Retired narcotics officer tells public how to hoodwink drugs police"
I like New TV and think it is the most secular and least biased news station in Lebanon. Its evening news cast is my favorite, and I never miss it, even when on the road--thanks to my Slingbox--which allows me access to my home TV and satellites from my computer and from my super duper cell-phone as of late. The station also is mixed in the sectarian composition of the staff. And I like the people I met there. And I urge you to sign the petition here which calls on the Lebanese government to release New TVs' investigative reporter, Firas Hatum (and his two comrades), who was apprehended while investigating the case of Hariri-paid "witness" Muhammad Zuhayr As-Siddiq. If the arresting government is not pro-US, this arrest would be all over the news, and the Committee to Protect Journalists (which sometimes operate as an arm of the US Department of State--see their files on Lebanon, how biased they are) which issues daily tears in memory of Jubran Tuwayni would have said a word. One word. But today in their evening news cast, they had some nice words about the hateful anti-Semite, David Irving (you may search this site using google feature below for my past posts on him), and said good things about "revisionism". Unbecoming. Most unbecoming.
Lebanese member of parliament Husayn Hajj Hasan (of Hizbullah) called Ahmad Fatfat "Rambo Fatfat" on NBN TV.
(Under the top balcony is written "a Lebanese (man) married to a Syrian (woman); under the bottom one is written "a Lebanese (woman) married to a Syrian (man))".
Why? "The Department strongly urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Lebanon and also urges American citizens in Lebanon to consider carefully the risks of remaining. This Travel Warning also alerts U.S. citizens to the ongoing safety and security concerns in Lebanon. It supersedes the Travel Warning issued on September 28, 2006." Does this mean that the Bush Doctrine will be visiting Lebanon more frequently now?
"Hizbollah officials claim to have seized a large quantity of weapons that were being delivered to Walid Jumblatt and to have used them during the war – leading them to quip that “in that respect, Jumblatt participated in the resistance”."
In some cases, Al-Arabiya tries to imitate Aljazeera. For example, they have an in-house "investigative journalist" with his own show. His name is Ahmad `Abadullah, and he is supposed to be like Yusri Fuda of Aljazeera. But this `Abdullah is so unqualified: so incompetent. He thinks that if he imitates the tone of Fuda he can succeed. No way.
If Hazim Saghiyyah devotes one article--ONE, not two or three--to the tyranny of the House of Saud he may then attain some--not a lot of--credibility in his writings on "democracy" and "the individual."
Bernard Lewis and Libya's Qadhdhafi. This Saudi website is reporting that Bernard Lewis is visiting Libya, and has met with Mu`ammar Al-Qadhdhafi. It also said that Qadhdhafi honored Lewis, and then offered him the opportunity to fly directly from Libya to Israel--a violation of Libyan laws.
Everything you wanted to know about Ahmad Fatfat, but you were afraid to ask. Fatfat here reveals that (prior to becoming a communist) he started his political career as a member of the SSNP. So we should add another item to Fatfatism: it also includes the ability to adjust to every political party and ideology provided it serves the personal interests of Ahmad Fatfat.
Fi Ash-Shi`r Al-Jahili. This book by Taha Husayn was published in 1926 and then banned shortly hereafter by the book burners of Al-Azhar. (My father who attended law school at Fu'ad I University in Cairo (later renamed Cairo University) in the 1940s told me that he would even then hear demonstrators chanting (on Taha Husayn): A`ma Al-Basar wa-l-Basirah.) AlJazeera interviewed Nasir Ad-Din Al-Asad (an Arab linguist and former speech writer for King Husayn of Jordan), and he showed his copy of the 1926 edition, and said that it is the only one edition remaining (that he knew of, he said). Of course, there are other copies of that edition of that book. I saw one copy at Princeton University Library, and there is another copy at the Hoover library at Stanford, not to mention two copies at the Library of Congress. (I think that I also saw a copy at Widener Library at Harvard--can somebody verify that?) I thought that I had a copy myself (of the 1926 edition), until a printing expert verified that my edition was in fact reproduced years later from the 1926 edition. Poor me. (Brenda confirmed to me that there is a copy at Widener Library at Harvard).
People who know me know that I have no attachment whatsoever to my high school or to my alma mater in Beirut. Private schools are but private and exclusive--nay exclusionary--clubs for privileged people dedicated to the perpetuation of hierarchies in society--hierarchies from which they benefit. I have never attended a reunion of my high school or of my college, especially that in Beirut those events are occasions for graduates to bask in classism, elitism, and chauvinism. And in this alumni newsletter of my high school, they have a tribute for the right-wing, sectarian Christian "publisher" Jubran Tuwayni. Notice that it said that "his terms were moderate." This is like saying that David Duke is reasonable.
How do you say "we came here to liberate you" in Arabic? " The army has awarded a contract for management of translation and interpretation services in Iraq to Global Linguistic Solutions. GLS, a joint venture of DynCorp International and McNeil Technologies, has received a five-year contract, with a maximum value of $4.645 billion."
What is happening to Arab media? I just watched a report on Aljazeera about Robert Gates' visit to Baghdad. It could easily have aired on Fox News. It said that Gates spoke candidly and "did not beat around the bush" (lam yalja' ila al-murawaghah), and then it said that he mingled with the regular soldiers and ate with them (and footage was shown of him filling his plate). What is that supposed to mean?
Put the children to sleep, and return the pigs to the barn. Hassan Fattah is back, I am sorry to say. Guess who is back? Hassan Fattah. Here, we noticed that he was not permitted to cover Lebanon anymore for the New York Times. You may remember his celebratory articles on Lebanon during the Hummus Revolution when he officially declared that all Lebanese are now united behind the Hariri family--he declared all conflicts in Lebanon to have ended. And he anointed his friend Michael Husayn Young as the most popular leader among Lebanese Shi`ites. We remember his articles in which only his neo-conservative friends would be interviewed and quoted. Well, Fattah--my sources tell me--has now been officially hired by the Times. Well, he cut his teeth working for Martin Peretz, and he had established strong credentials as an anti-Palestinian writer. And his interview (with the foreign editor of the Times who asked a reporter whether he/she is a practicing Muslim) went very well. Fattah, my sources tell me, will start doing a stint as a Metro reporter. His first article will focus on the popularity of Rafiq Hariri in Brooklyn; his second article will declare Hummus and falafil as the best Israeli food in New York city. Look at this article from today in the New York Times (which has nothing new that you have not read already in local American newspapers): "“The possibility of having conflict is very high,” said Abdelrahman Rashid, managing director of the satellite news channel Al Arabiya and a respected Saudi columnist." Now, I know that he is friends with Rashid (all these Arab neo-conservatives are close--it sound conspiratorial but is really true), but he is "respected" by whom? I mean, he is respected by the House of Saud, but is he respected by Arab readers? If he thinks that he is, what is the evidence for that? On Arab websites, he and other Saudi propagandists are regulalry mocked, ridiculed, and vilified.
American public views of Israel's war on Lebanon: "A total of 57.6 percent of the 6,296 U.S. respondents to a Zogby interactive poll said Israel was "justified" in its response while 31.1 percent said it wasn't. Of the 124 respondents who said they were Jewish, 69.9 percent said the invasion was called for and 19.3 percent said it wasn't. There was a sharp political divide with 85.5 percent of self-described Republicans supporting the Israeli invasion and 52.7 percent of Democrats saying it wasn't justified. Some 57.8 percent of independents agreed that Israel was justified to invade Lebanon. While 16.1 percent of "progressives" said they agreed with Israel's actions, 92.1 percent of those defined as "very conservative" backed the invasion." (thanks Sellam and Aghyan)
If I were to serve in public office, I would use a cookbook to take my oath of office.
"The glaring error in Carter's book, however, is his insistence that the term "apartheid" does not apply to Israel itself, where, he says, Jewish and non-Jewish citizens are given the same treatment under the law. That is simply not true."
"While Arendt had worried about Zionism’s darker tendencies and imperial dalliances from the beginning, her awareness of the Arab question came slowly. By 1944, however, she had come to see it as the ‘most important’ challenge. Without ‘Arab-Jewish co-operation,’ she wrote in 1948, ‘the whole Jewish venture in Palestine is doomed.’ Zionism left the Palestinians with no options other than emigration or ‘transfer’, which could be accomplished only using Fascist methods, or second-class status in the land of their birth. This last option, she remarked in 1943, assumed ‘that tomorrow’s majority will concede minority rights to today’s majority, which indeed would be something brand new in the history of nation-states’. In the mid-1940s, she warned that the Arabs would soon ‘turn against the Jews as the Slovaks turned against the Czechs in Czechoslovakia, and the Croats against the Serbs in Yugoslavia’. ‘In the long run,’ she added, ‘there is hardly any course imaginable that would be more dangerous.’" (thanks Laleh)
The Daily Star is crying. I kid you not. The newspaper is worried about big business in downtown Beirut. The same newspaper did not worry about big business in downtown Beirut when Hariri fans closed down the city for months after Hariri's assassination.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

"For half an hour last week, mortar rounds rained down on Baghdad's largest Palestinian enclave. Neither Iraqi police at a station nearby nor U.S. troops at a base adjacent to the neighborhood responded."
Look at this memo on Lebanon by International Crisis Group. Notice the language throughout. If you read this would you even know that Israel has just finished a war of devastation on Lebanon? Just notice how many times Syria is mentioned in comparison to Israel. And look at their recommendations. Basically, they mirror the obsession with the Hariri assassination that serves as the thrust of the March 14th Movement. Well, there are many Lebanese who are more eager to find out the truth about the role of the Sanyurah government during the Israeli war than they are about whether Hariri was killed by an underground explosion or an above ground explosion. I do agree with this assessment of the current situation in the report: "It is one street against the other, one Lebanon against another. Mobilising mass support is how this conflict is being waged: it is not how it will be resolved."
"The package is part of an effort by the United States, France, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others to shore up the Lebanese security forces so they can eventually extend their control over the entire country for the first time since civil war erupted there in 1975. It is also designed to strengthen the government's hand over the influence of Hezbollah, Lebanon's last militia and a force often better-equipped than the country's army, the sources said."
" "L'hebdomadaire "Nichane", publié en langue arabe, a consacré dans son numéro 91, du 9 au 15 décembre 2006, un dossier aux anecdotes relatives notamment à la religion. Une poursuite judiciaire a été engagée sur la base de ces écrits contre l'auteur du dossier et le directeur de la publication, en application des dispositions du code de la presse. Parallèlement et compte tenu des dispositions constitutionnelles consacrant l'Islam comme religion d'Etat au Maroc et du rôle de Sa Majesté le Roi, en sa qualité de Commandeur des croyants et de Protecteur de la foi et de la religion, et en prenant en considération l'atteinte que constitue la publication de ces anecdotes à l'encontre des sentiments du peuple marocain, le Premier ministre, es qualité et au nom du gouvernement, en application de l'article 66 du code de la presse, a pris un arrêté motivé d'interdiction de l'exposition sur les voies publiques ainsi que la diffusion par quelque moyen que ce soit de l'hebdomadaire +Nichane+"." (thanks Jamal)
"Saudi Arabia provided Iraqi pilgrims with many facilities". This was part of a "news" "report" on Al-Arabiya TV. Remember that the CEO of Al-ARabiya was quoted by David Ignatius as saying that his operation is basically about "professionalism, professionalism, and professionalism."
"A Saudi Arabian princess accused of breaking U.S. immigration laws by locking up her domestics' passports and forcing them to work for low pay was ordered to be deported, prosecutors said Thursday."