Monday, February 28, 2005

"How Dubai, the playground of businessmen and warlords, is built by Asian wage slaves"
"Hind el-Hinnawy shocked conservative Muslim Egypt when she publicly declared herself a single mum and launched a paternity suit."

Not seen in the coverage of Lebanon: An armed gunman in Beirut. Posted by Hello

This is also taking place in Lebanon, but the US media and the Saudi-funded Arab media have not noticed. Armed men take to the streets in Tripoli. France, Syria, and US are all playing with fire in Lebanon. Watch out. Posted by Hello
The Lebanese Army has already split: What has not been reported in the press (not even the Middle East press) is that there are signs of mutiny in the ranks of the Lebanese Army, which was something that the prime minister warned from, and for that he was attacked by the opposition. You see, the Minister of Interior and the Minister of Defense gave orders to the Lebanese Army and the Security Forces to prevent crowds from entering the Martyrs' Square. But many clearly disobeyed the orders. The Lebanese will never unite, and some Lebanese are uniting but only over the outrage over the assassination of Hariri, and they disagree over everything else. And former staunch Syria's client and advocate (Druze feudal warlord Walid Jumblat) again today called on the opposition to avoid "racist" slogans against the Syrian people. I bet that some of those "brave" Lebanese who are beating poor Syrian workers in Lebanon were only yesterday offering to shine the shoes of Syrian intelligence agents in Lebanon. As-Safir newspaper noted today the developments in Lebanon today occurred on the 3rd day of a "mysterious" visit by US deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, David Satterfield. A mere coincidence, of course, as only crazy people believe in conspiracies. There are no conspiracies in the world. The US Empire and all other states operate in the open and under the most transparent conditions.
Lebanon's Pandora's Box: This is missing from the coverage about Lebanon. In sectarian terms, the majority of Lebanese are Shi`ites (at least 55 % of the population). And they are not in the opposition, and their two major movements (Amal and Hizbullah) are still aligned with Syria, for whatever reasons. And then there are those who were formed under the leadership of former prime minister Salim Huss today (he is Sunni) under the banner of The Third Force (independent from the opposition and the government alike), and who are a loose coalition of independents, Arab nationalists, leftists, communists, socialists, Nasserists, etc. They also are NOT part of the opposition. And even within Sunni ranks, there is no consensus, and Sunni public opinion has already expressed disagreement with the right-wing slogans and symbols of the main elements of the opposition. Amid the euphoria, which the Bush administration and its submissive US media want to promote to validate Bush's empty slogans about "freedom" and "democracy", the reality of Lebanese factionalism and sectarianism is disguised. Chirac said that the Bush administration opened a pandora's box in Iraq. Angry Arab says that Chirac himself and Bush have just opened another pandora's box in...Lebanon. How insulting that the Syrian president gave his first comments on the Lebanon crisis Italian newspaper. And how insulting that the US government is treating the events in Lebanon as if they constitute a victory for the US, for some reasons. (Look at Lebanese public opinion orientations toward the US and Bush's wars in the newly released report on Arab public opinion by Jordan University's Center for Strategic Studies (posted below--I think). And how insulting that the Lebanese president is doing what he does best...remaining silent.
For those who care, I will be on Flashpoints tonight live around 5:30PM (Pacific Time) and tomorrow morning on KPFA at 7:00AM (Pacific).
For those who care, and know how to operate a radio, I shall discuss Lebanese developments tomorrow Tuesday on Democracy Now at 5:00AM (Pacific Time). You may listen live.
ABC of the Lebanese opposition and Dirty politics of Lebanon: Developments are moving fast in Lebanon. Karami tendered his resignation. The ultra-nationalists will now demand that the president resigns. And the Syrian government--out of complicity, incompetence, and stupidity or all of them combined--is refusing to budge, thereby strengthening that lousy group of fascistic militia supporters, sectarian-feudal warlord supporters, former enemies of Hariri who are now hailing him as a fallen hero, supporters of the kooky right-wing General `Awn in Paris, and all of whom are grouped in this soon-to-crack front of the opposition in Lebanon. And there are those who think that this little Tabbulah homeland is destined to greatness, once Syria leaves. They will soon discover that the divisions among the Lebanese are real and deep, and that Syria (among others) exploited but did not invent those divisions which existed throughout Lebanese history. The opposition demagogues are highly and unrealistically exaggerating the hopes and aspirations of the youths. Disappointment will soon prevail. I am speaking daily to Lebanon, and many are aghast at the attempt by the right-wing factions and defeated militias from the war years to hijack the movement. That is why Jumblat had insisted as of late on raising only the Lebanese flag (not my Hummus flag--see below); because many Sunnis and Hariri supporters were furious last week when the flags of Lebanese Forces, `Awn people, and the Jumblat Druze sectarian party (that falsely calls itself "progressive and "socialist") dominated the crowds, and only a few pictures of Hariri were displayed. The true sectarian composition of the crowd became too obvious. You have to maintain the myth of "united Lebanon," of course. Now, they are requiring the crowds to only display the Lebanese flags and pictures of Hariri. And why did Karami resign but not the head of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon? He is far more responsible, directly or indirectly, through negligence or worse. The Syrian government cannot have it both ways: it cannot justify its presence in Lebanon on the basis of providing Lebanon with peace and security, while failing to provide security to the major political figure who received threats, and one from Rustum Ghazalah (head of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon) himself according to many accounts I heard or read. But emotions are at an all time high. I was today quoted here as saying: "``The government had to stand down without a doubt to at least acknowledge their failure to protect someone of regional and international stature (Hariri), but to tender their resignation in the climate of Lebanon today may very likely escalate things,'' said As'ad AbuKhalil, a Lebanese political science professor at California State University-Stanislaus. ``This won't be Ukraine of 2004, but maybe Lebanon of 1975,'' he said, referring to the days when Lebanon was wracked by constitutional crises and political disputes." Once this quotation made its way on Yahoo and the Guardian, I received an avalanche of angry messages on my voice mail, and a few angry emails. One of them said: "So if you have something positive to say about the independence uprising, then say it otherwise keep your opinion to yourself and don't spread fears into the American public opinion." This is the real Lebanon that is hidden behind the crowds and the flag waving. These are the ones who are ostensibly supporting "democracy" and "independence" in Lebanon, but would not hesitate to silence critics, or to call for the restoration of colonial rule, as the star of this opposition, Walid Jumblat, has called for. This same Jumblat was key in constructing the very system that perpetuated Syrian political control of Lebanon. But you are supposed to erase your memory, if you want to follow and enjoy dirty Lebanese politics.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Norwegian Harbour, 1894. By Constantin Korovin. Posted by Hello
"The Impermanent Revolution" (this is a very important book)

Two Degrees of Henry Kissinger (from Foreign Policy magazine). (I hesitated before posting this because I do not want to reinforce a deep misconception in the Arab world (especially in Lebanon) to the effect that Kissinger runs the world. Posted by Hello
US is willing to sell Lebanon to buy Iraq, and Syria is willing to sell Iraq to buy Lebanon: Foolishness of Lebanese ultra-nationalists (and of the opposition as a whole): they never learn, and they never grasp their own history, although they claim that they worship the bogus "glory" of the past, of their little Tabbulah homeland. They never learn that outside powers interfere for their own purposes, and they leave for their own purposes, no matter what harm they cause to Lebanon and its people. That Lebanon is utterly (strategically) useless and insignificant, except as a little peg in a larger regional scheme, or as a stepping stone for a larger plan, is clear from reading Lebanon's old and contemporary history. That is how and why Israel, France, Syria, US, Iraq, and Libya intervened in Lebanon, and how the pathetic Lebanese right-wing ultra-nationalists dragged outside forces into Lebanon (including most famously US, Israel, Iraq, and Syria). Just today, I read that Syria suddenly produced the half-brother of Saddam, Sib`awi Ibrahim Al-Hasan at-Tikriti, and surrendered him to the Americans. The American, just watch, will now blame the entire insurgency on this one man. They will now tell you that in his pockets were found documentation of the entire course of the Iraqi insurgency, and the name, addresses, and phone numbers of every Iraqi insurgent. The Syrians undoubtedly and belatedly realized the obvious: that American intervention in Lebanon is about Iraq, and not about Lebanon. Syria and US will then sell and buy, using Lebanon as currency. So this is obvious: Syria will sell Iraq to buy Lebanon, and US will sell Lebanon to buy Iraq. Lebanese opposition will then again be bitterly disappointed, but they never learn. They will, once again, pin their hopes on another outside power. Do some of you remember how the Lebanese right-wing groups pinned their hopes in the 1980s on Saddam Husayn as their savior? They were chanting about "freedom" and "democracy" while regarding the tyrant Saddam as their savior. And Saddam sent Lebanese Forces and `Awn's forces tons of arms, and some torture techniques, no doubt. And today, my ears were offended when I heard Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs, David Satterfield, say in Lebanon that his country's policies were based on American support for "freedom of speech". Really? Really? Does his country also support freedom of speech in Saudi Arabia, or Jordan, or Libya? Do you see why Arabs are very cynical about hollow American political rhetoric? Was his country concerned about Lebanon when it gave Lebanon to the Syrian regime in 1991 in return for Syrian support for American war in Iraq (the first time)? I never revealed this publicly, but I--Angry Arab himself--could not go to Lebanon for 7 years in the 1990s because the Lebanese intelligence service (and its patrons in Syria) did not like a chapter I wrote for a book (Deirdre Collings (ed.), Peace for Lebanon?) (my piece was titled "Determinants and Characteristics of Syrian Foreign Policy in Lebanon). The security service in Lebanon issued a press release in which it said that the book was banned due to my article which "insulted" Hafidh Al-Asad (according to the press release). (I feel morally obligated to insult every Arab regime and Zionism for what they have done to the Arab people). How come nobody complained about the restrictions on freedoms back then when Hariri and Jumblat were the government? Former prime minister Salim Huss kindly told my sister that it would be better for my safety to stay away from Lebanon for a while. I did, until 1998 when I was told that it was safe for me to return. Oh, I forgot to mention that columnist Husam `Itani reminded readers in Lebanon that Walid Jumblat keeps a portrait of Feliks Dzerzhinsky (founder of the horrific Cheka in the Soviet Union) in his Mukhatarah Palace. Did he remove it when he had lunch there today with Satterfield?

Those US occupation forces in Iraq: they just never take a break from "liberating." Posted by Hello
Changing Times: there was a time when Palestinian political groups used to rush to take responsibility for attacks in Israel (even when they were not really responsible). Today, Palestinian political groups, rush to deny responsibility for attacks (even when they are responsible).
Dov Zakheim was a Defense Department official in several Republican administrations. He got in trouble with AIPAC in the Reagan administration when he vetoed the American funding of an Israeli fighter jet (the Levi). Here, he offers a candid American fear of democracy in the Middle East, and a warning to neo-conservatives. He said: "I support the idea of democracy, but we have to be cautious about it. This is not the first time Iraq has had an election. We shouldn't view the future with rose-colored glasses." In an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times (thanks Fadi for the link), he elaborates: "Iraq is not the only Middle Eastern state to have conducted experiments in democracy only to see them fail. Iran had a short-lived progressive constitution and parliament in the first decade of the 20th century. Lebanon's democratic experience lasted longer, about 30 years, before it collapsed in civil war in the mid-1970s....Arab democracies may be hostile to the United States. Elections in the Middle East could yield Islamist leaderships as they nearly did in Algeria. For many religious Muslims, U.S. society represents values they truly abhor, no matter how many sodas they drink, no matter if they like to wear jeans or baseball caps...We must be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that it is not merely democracies that we encourage, but friendly democracies." I should mention that his analysis on Islam and democracy is outright prejudicial and ignorant.
US Official: "U.S. Not Interfering in Lebanon." (And a Syrian official also denied last week that Syria is interfering in Lebanon). Angry Arab: both are lying. Don't believe them.
"Iraqi girl treated at Gemelli wants to thank Pope for his antiwar stance"

I hereby introduce the new Lebanese flag. The cedar has been replaced once and for all. Julie (a reader of the site from the University of Iowa) read my post on the Lebanese flag yesterday and designed this flag. I approve, and offer it to the fascistic flag-waving Lebanese ultra-nationalists. Wave your new flag, NOW. (But be careful; you may spill the olive oil on the Hummus plate). Posted by Hello
Egyptian dictator Husni Mubarak (whose smiling face reminds the Egyptian people of La Vache qui rit) discovered a simple formula for serving a 5th term. First, proceed very quickly in normalization with Israel, and put pressure on Palestinian groups. US Congress will quickly take note, and forgive you for whatever human rights violation you may want to commit. Better yet: promise to visit Israel, which he has promised to do. US Congress would love that. Secondly, help US occupation in Iraq, by pressuring the Sunnis to participate in the election. The Sunni boycott in Iraq just showed how much clout that Mubarak has with them. Thirdly, announce silly cosmetic "reforms" to give the US the opportunity to praise you and hail you as a "reformer." So what he has promised to do (in terms of allowing people to run against him-how dare they?) has been done in Iran (which is not a democracy, last I checked) for 2 decades. Yet, witness how the US will now consider his steps as revolutionary. But my favorite was this headline from the New York Times today: "Mubarak Pushes Egypt to Allow Freer Elections." This implies that Mubarak is pushing for democracy, while the Egyptian people need to be pushed to support democracy. How about "Egyptian people push Mubarak for democracy, while Mubarak offers silly gimmicks." And make sure that you note that Mubarak's "reforms" require that candidates be approved by Shura council, Egyptian parliament, and local councils ALL OF WHICH are controlled by Mubarak's party. This reminds me of the Iranian Council of Experts.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Beach at Dieppe, 1890s. By Constantin Korovin. Posted by Hello
"Israeli jailed in New Zealand headed Cyprus spy ring" (Bush considered appointing him as his intelligence czar)
"Nearly 50 more British soldiers may face charges on abuses in Iraq" (thanks Julie)
From Bagram to Abu Ghraib (thanks to all 34 of you who sent me a copy)
Geraldo was a close friend of right-wing death squad Lebanese leader Bashir Gemayyel (you will find that in Barbara Newman's silly hagiographic book, The Covenant). He is now in Beirut reporting. I heard a segment of his "reporting" on my satellite radio. He was interviewing Lebanese Minister Karam Karam (who taught my brother in Medical School). He asked Karam: will you vote for or against confidence in the cabinet next Monday? Karam, patiently said: "well, I am a member of the cabinet, so I do have confidence in it. Secondly, I am not a member of parliament, so I cannot vote." Upon hearing that, Geraldo, asked him: "Is it not true that Lebanon is close to Nicaragua?"
The US Arab propaganda Radio is "exclusively" and "bizarrely" reporting that there is growing popular support for `Allawi to stay in as puppet prime minister. (The motto of Radio Sawa should be: "We invent the news, and you consume it." Or: "the news that you will not find elsewhere, because WE make it up).
It seems that Ramadi will also undergo Double "Liberation"
Courage, when it is too late, and too useless, is not courage.
"They say 'incident'. To me it's genocide"
"Independent media essential to democracy, says Amy Goodman"
No Child Left Full: "Children Going Hungry"
This is so touching; it is warm and fuzzy. Saudi Foreign Minister: "The relationship with the government of the United States is healthy. It has become more healthy recently. Compared to the warmth that existed before Sept. 11, we are reaching gradually the level of comfort and warmth we enjoyed before."
Lebanese, Potatoese, and Arabic Languages: I just read "Language Barrier" by Joseph Braude in, surprise surprise, the New Republic. (thanks Marc for sending me the article). The New Republic, to be fair, has a long and established record of hostility to (and ignorance of) Arabs and Muslims, and a consistent dedication to fanatical Zionism. It also "discovered" the brilliant phenemenon of Al Gore, as you remember. But the article is not only not original, but is quite lauphable. Anybody who is familiar with the writings of right-wing fascist Lebanese kook Sa`id `Aql knows these absurd claims. `Aql preached for years the writing of what he calls the "Lebanese" language in Latin, and wrote a book in Latin, and even fellow right-wing kooks in Lebanon thought that this was too kooky. `Aql believes that Shakespeare was of Lebanese descent, along with all other famous people in history. He believes that there are three "civilizations" in world history, and that the "Lebanese civilization" is one of them. He believes that Lebanon is one of the few "great nations" in the world. He probably also thinks that Uncle Ben (the rice dude) was Lebanese (he may call him Uncle Habib). I guess you get the picture. But this Braude guy was ovioulsy fed information, and I would be surprised if he knows any Arabic at all. How could anybody say that classical Arabic was "invented" 90 years ago? What kind of Arabic was the bible translated into and printed in in 19th century Lebanon by Christians? What language did Al-Jaziz, Ibn Al-Muqaffa`, At-Tawhidi write in? What language were the first Arabic newspapers in Lebanon written in but Arabic in the 19th century? This is the tune of fanatical right-wing propagandist Walid Phares (who I am told does not say on his c.v. that he was a member of the command council of the Lebanese Forces right-wing militia, and he lists on his c.v. languages he is fluent in as "Lebanese language and Arabic language"). If it is true that Fusha Arabic is not understood by Arabs in the region, why are books, magazines, and newspapers still printed in it? Are they all commercially crazy? In the article I also read this: "...Global Americana Institute, which seeks "to engage in translation, publication, and distribution of books on the United States in Arabic. The initial volume will be the key works of Thomas Jefferson." " That made me wonder. Will that esteemed Institute also translate Jefferson's "Notes on the State of Virginia" (in which he says "the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind" and he compares African-Amerians to monkeys?) Just wondering.
"SYRIA: A 101 Course in Mideast Dictatorships"
Walid Jumblat: America's New Friend in Lebanon. Some people think that Bush is sincerely committed to his ideology, and that he sincerely believes in it. I disagree with that take. Just as George Will once said that George H. W. Bush was the most unprincipled president in US history, I think that the same can be said about his son. Witness how he was willing to ignore his "pro-life" stance to win votes in the last election. And you can also see that in his friendships and alliances; how Qadhdhafi became a friend of the US, based on opportunism, no less. America's new friend in Lebanon is none other than Walid Jumblat. Former US ambassador in Syria Edward Djerijian used to call him a "terrorist"--according to Jumblat himself (in his interview on Future TV with `Ali Hamadah). He was one of the most submissive clients of the Syrian regime over the years, especially during the most brutal days of the regime of Hafidh Al-Asad (which Jumblat still remembers as the "golden years" of his alliance with Syria--he was intimately aligned with the "old guards" of the regime). This sectarian Druze feudal warlord ran a most sectarian thuggish militia which committed massacres against defenseless Christians in Mount Lebanon (although I blame the "War of the Mountain" on the Israeli occupation army and its brutal clients of the Lebanese Forces militias which instigated the war), and ran a reign of terror in West Beirut in the 1980s. He used to mock those who called for distinguishing between Zionists and Jews, and would regularly express his hostility to all Jews on Lebanese TV, and believed (just like `Arafat) that a small group of Jewish neo-conservatives ran US foreign policy as if the president and the vice-president are mere puppets). He urged Iraqis to kill Americans, and publicly expressed his regret when Paul Wolfowitz survived an assassination attempt in Baghdad 2 years ago, and hoped for another one. A year ago (almost to the day) he told Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper that he is happy when "US soldiers are killed" in Iraq. The US promptly withdrew his US visa after that. But things have changed. Assistant Secretary of the State for the Near East, William Burns--the one who visited the Janin refugee camp after its horrific destruction by Israel (and I have less respect for Burns because he IS a Middle East expert and people who work with him or for him assure me that he is sympathetic to the Palestinians--no evidence of that in the policies and actions of his government of course) while his president was declaring Sharon a "man of peace"--had a tete-a-tete candle light dinner with Jumblat two weeks ago in Beirut. How nice. How touching. To please his new patrons, Jumblat in a recent interview with the Washington Post's David Ignatius sounds like a neo-conservative himself. He now claims that he was changed by the American war on Iraq, he who used to be most fiercely opposed to that war. This is a man who lives in palaces, while claiming or pretending that he heads a "socialist" party in Lebanon. This is a man who pretended that he cared about poor people but only in the days and week when his relations with Rafiq Hariri were strained. Hariri was once quoted as saying that Jumblat can be easily taken care of by "payments." Jumblat was furious, but only for a few days. Maybe payments later arrived. This is a man who was an essential element of the Syrian intelligence apparatus of power in Lebanon, and now wants us to believe that he represents voices of democracy and freedom. He now sits next to Amin Gemayyel, his arch enemy, and Gemayyel sent a car bomb to kill him in 1983 when Gemayyel served as president (probably the worst in Lebanon's history--and all were bad mind you). But do not worry. The Lebanese opposition alliance (which comprises murderers, criminals, Mafia types, former essential agents and clients of the Syrian regime, former(?) clients of Israel, warlords, fanatical fascists, corrupt ambitious Lebanese politicians, and medieval clergy men of the Maronite church in Lebanon) will not last. All such fronts crack due to sectarian fissures. These alliances are artificial, and you can see that when they roll out in every demonstration a man carrying the cross and the crescent or the bible and the Qur'an. This has always been part of Lebanese political folklore, even at the height of Lebanese civil war. Right-wing, Maronite-oriented groups want to promote the lie that the Lebanese people, left to their own devices, are in agreement, and that "outsiders" (they mean Arabs) are responsible for all of Lebanon's problems, 120,000 victims of the Lebanese civil war notwithstanding. But all this (the new friendship with Walid Jumblat) should not surprise anybody, unless you are one of those who naively believe the rhetoric of the Bush administration.
Modern Arab fable: Zeina sent me this modern Arab fable:
An old Arab lived close to New York City for more than 40 years. One day he decided that he would love to plant potatoes and herbs in his garden, but he knew he was alone and too old and weak.His son was in college in Paris, so the old man sent him an e-mail explaining the problem:"Beloved son, I am very sad, because I can't plant potatoes in my garden. I am sure, if only you were here, that you would help me and dig up the garden for me. I love you, your father."The following day, the old man received a responsee-mail from his son:"Beloved father, please don't touch the garden. That is where I have hidden 'the THING'. I love you, too,Ahmed."At 4pm the US Army, the Marines, the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the OHS, and the Rangers visited the house of the old man and took the whole garden apart, searching every inch. But they couldn't find anything.Disappointed, they left the house.The next day, the old man received another e-mail from his son:"Beloved father, I hope the garden is dug up by now and you can plant your potatoes. That is all I could do for you from here. Your loving son, Ahmed."
Recommendations for ultra-Lebanese nationalism (or Lebanese Zionism): at a time of high patriotic jingoism, and some Lebanese have entered that frenzy, the scoundrels of nationalism resort to ritualistic flag-waving. Lebanese flag-waving is at an all time high these days. I have often believed that we should take the "proud" cedar out of the Lebanese flag, although many Lebanese ultra-nationalists are very proud of it. They get so disappointed when I remind them that there are more cedars in Morocco. I have often suggested that an eggplant, or a rotisserie chicken, or a Hummus dish should comfortably sit in the middle of the Lebanese flag, which was inspired by the French colonial flag, and they (the corrupt Lebanese deputies who drew it) added the color of blood for special effect. So instead of wavying the flag, you can then just say "Wave your Hummus" or "Wave your Chicken" or better yet, "Wave your Eggplant."
You can now tell the nature of inter-Arab relations by noticing the stresses and nature of coverage in Arab media. There is obviously a silent conflict between Syria and Saudi Arabia. But it is not discussed or even admitted, but the coverage of Al-Arabiyya, especially of the assassination of Hariri, indicates a strong anti-Syrian tendency. One of the wives (she is probably now an ex-wife as I write these words) of Crown Prince `Abdullah is a Syrian sister of the wife of Rif`at Al-Asad. `Abdullah always played a mediator's role between Syria and other Arab countries, but one is not sure that `Abdullah is in charge. A Syrian newspaper today even compared favorably Al-Jazeera's coverage to that of AlArabiyya, and strongly criticized Al-Arabiyya. While I am no fan of Al-Arabiyya, official Syrian media are in no position to offer lessons on mass communications. But I know fine professional Syrian journalists who work under very frustrating conditions in their country.

Friday, February 25, 2005

The River Vorya at Abramtsevo, 1880s. By Constantin Korovin. Posted by Hello
"Mr. Bush issued what sounded like an endorsement of Mr. Putin's handling of "a country that is in transformation." Lauding the Russian ruler as a man who means what he says."

An Israeli and a Palestinian. Posted by Hello
I came across this passage by Muhammad Bin Rahal while reading Zachary Lockman's Contending Visions of the Middle East: The History and Politics of Orientalism: "if the Muslim defends his home, religion, or nation, he is not seen as a patriot but as a savage; if he displays courage or heroism, he is called a fanatic; if after the defeat he shows resignation, he is called a fatalist." (p. 92) How true.
In 1998, a book (Upside Down: A Primer for the Looking-glass World by Eduardo Gateano) was published by Picador in New York. It contains this passage (p. 121): "In mid-1998, the White House put another villain up on the global marquee. He uses the stage name of Osama bin Laden; he's an Islamic fundamentalist, sports a beard, wears a turban, and caresses a rifle in his lap. Will this new star's career take off? Will he be a box-office hit? Will he manage to undermine the foundations of Western civilization or will he only play a supporting role? In horror movies, you never know." (Thanks Ru'yah for brining this to my attention).
This language is from the "liberal" Mother Jones: "Among Shiites, widespread zealotry doesn't translate into political solidarity." Could you imagine the outrage if this language is used about a whole population of another religion?
Images of Palestine: "The Ramallah International Film Festival challenged stereotypes of Palestinians by offering images rarely seen in the West -- and the majority of the works were by women."
May somebody who has a subscrition to the New Republic kindly send me via email "Language Barrier" by Joseph Braude. Oh, and I want it NOW.
Zizek: "It is the United States that is now, as the defunct USSR was decades ago, the subversive agent of a world revolution. When Bush said, “Freedom is not America’s gift to the world, it is the almighty God’s gift to every man and woman in the world,” his apparent modesty nonetheless concealed, in the best totalitarian fashion, its very opposite."
New York Times say: "Women make up almost half the seats in Rwanda's Parliament, but their numbers do not necessarily add up to influence." Angry Arab says: When women make up almost a third of seats in US Congress, the US can then pass judgement on this matter.
"China's Quiet Rise Casts Wide Shadow"

Palestinians protesting illegal occupation settlements. Posted by Hello
"Army Gives Halliburton $9.4 Million in Bonuses"
In an interview with Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat, Pierre Ad-Dahir (the right-wing CEO of LBC-TV) indicated that LBC may be purchase Al-Jazeera TV. That will mean a Saudi purchase, as LBC has a merger (or joint operations, more accurately) agreement with the Saudi-owned (or leased) Al-Hayat newspaper, and is largely owned by Al-Walid bin Talal. Saudi Arabia will then ensure that no voices are allowed in Arab media that are critical of House of Saud.
It was quite a scene. To see the likely Prime Minister of Iraq, Ibrahim Al-Ja`fari, tell the press that Grand (not really) Ayatollah Sistani has "blessed" his candidacy is to be reminded of the new government emerging in Iraq. This is the same government that Bush and Thomas Friedman thought was going to become a model for the Arab world. I am not sure that an Ayatollah government will emerge as a model for the (predominantly Sunni) region.
This is media sexism: Now I am not in any way a fan of Rice, as you know. But--politics aside--she is more qualified and more competent than all the men in government, including especailly Bush himself--but then again, who is NOT more qualified than Bush. Even Tony Danza is more qualified than Bush. So no matter what positions women occupy, they will always be judged on their appearance. Look how disgustingly sexist this passage is from the Washington Post:
"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived at the Wiesbaden Army Airfield on Wednesday dressed all in black. She was wearing a black skirt that hit just above the knee, and it was topped with a black coat that fell to mid-calf. The coat, with its seven gold buttons running down the front and its band collar, called to mind a Marine's dress uniform or the "save humanity" ensemble worn by Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix." As Rice walked out to greet the troops, the coat blew open in a rather swashbuckling way to reveal the top of a pair of knee-high boots. The boots had a high, slender heel that is not particularly practical. But it is a popular silhouette because it tends to elongate and flatter the leg. In short, the boots are sexy."
So the "Presidential Study Group" (supposed to sound impressive) of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (which was founded as a research arm for AIPAC) has produced its report. If you do not want to read it, I will summarize. (First you will notice that the bipartisan contributors represent the full range of opinions: from those who are intensely and fanatically pro-Israel to those who are fanatically and intensely pro-Israel)--and usually they include a token Arab, but not this year--. They do not insist on a long-term US occupation of Iraq, but they also seem to want perhaps a war on Iran. They also would like to expand the list of "terrorist" groups to include any Arab who does not think that Sharon is the most peaceful man on earth.
Iraqi puppet Government officials said yesterday that a key lieutenant to Abu Mus`ab Az-Zarqawi had been captured. That makes him the 560th "key lieutenant" of Zarqawi to be captured by the puppet government.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

A Florence Street in the Rain. 1888. By Constantin Korovin. Posted by Hello
"NATO signals closer ties with Israel"

(The small fish is "Lebanon", and the next one is "Syria", etc). Posted by Hello
I, philosphically speaking, oppose all nationalisms. But some nationalisms are by definition more repugnant (more racist and exlusivist) than others. Lebanese nationalism, German nationalism, and Zionism come to mind.
Bush is ostensibly calling for the spread of "democracy". Will he call on the Vatican to democratize too? Will he call on the citizens of the Vatican (and not the unelected cardinals) to freely select the Pope?
"Iraq's neighborhood councils are vanishing:
After their members were killed, many councils were scared out of existence."
"An American marine who shot dead an injured unarmed Iraqi in Fallujah, in an incident captured on video which led the Pentagon to open a war crimes inquiry, is reported to have escaped prosecution."
"Californian jails end racial segregation"
"Liberated" Afghanistan: "One woman dies from pregnancy-related causes approximately every 30 minutes. One in five children dies before the age of five from diseases that are 80% preventable. An estimated one-third of the population suffers from anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress. Annual per capita income is $190 (£100). Average life expectancy is 44.5 years. Its education system is now "the worst in the world"."
"Our Godless Constitution"
Kofi Annan said today that Syria should withdraw all its troops from Lebanon before the elections in April. I agree. But would this US puppet dare say the same thing about US troops in Iraq?
"A teenage girl and two young men in Iran have been sentenced to lashes for having sex." (I wish I can sentence the ruling clerics to 1000 lashes.)

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Early Spring. 1870s. By Constantin Korovin. Posted by Hello
The ugly face of Lebanon: "A statement signed by more than 35 Syrian intellectuals and human rights activists addressed to their Lebanese counterparts said: "We support your demand for the withdrawal of the Syrian Army from Lebanon and in correcting the Syrian-Lebanese relationship." "But we are extremely pained and angry to see and hear that some Lebanese are insulting Syria and its people without (it) being guilty, and attacking hapless Syrian workers, who are seeking a living in" Lebanon, it said. Dozens of Hariri's supporters also clashed with Syrian workers in the former premier's hometown, Sidon, leaving several Syrians with minor injures. In the Bekaa, reports emerged of various shootings and killings of Syrian workers, and rumors that Sukleen cleaning company no longer has any Syrian workers."
"The World Council of Churches, the Geneva-based ecumenical affiliation of 347 Protestant and Orthodox denominations, has recommended to members that they give "serious consideration" to divesting from companies that aid Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories."

"Youths protesting last month in Baghdad blamed the government and the U.S. for gas and power shortages." (Picture and caption from NYT).
 Posted by Hello
Kirkuk (thanks Nir)
"The United States needs permanent military bases in Afghanistan to protect its "vital national security interests" in the region, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said after talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul."
Lovely US-supported dictatorships: "An estimated 2,400 men from north Sinai remain in Egyptian prisons without charge, four months after security police began rounding them up for questioning in the bombings of tourist resorts frequented by Israelis."
"U.S.' Prewar Visions Get Further Out of Focus"
The "Argentine legislature is considering whether to force clothing manufacturers to cover "all the anthropometric measurements of the Argentine woman" up to size 54(the equivalent of extra large in the United States). The bill also addresses the related problem of so-called "tricky" labeling in which S, M, and L designations vary by brand and are smaller than international standards."

This is Zionism: Israeli occupation forces destroyed his house in Jerusalem. Posted by Hello
Bush's Uncle "Bucky emerges as a big winner from Iraq war"
"Light unto the nations": "Almost one out of five elderly Israelis is exposed to verbal, economic or physical abuse and one out of four suffers from neglect."

I do not want to displease you, but Iraqis really do not want you (American occupation forces) in their country. It looks like "liberation" is getting more and more UNPOPULAR. (Click to enlarge).Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Pearl of Wisdom of the Day (the week, the month, the year...): Bush reveals that "Iran is different from Iraq." When asked whether China is different from Iraq, the president refused to answer.
"Pacification" plans: "Skyrocketing security costs have forced U.S. officials here to slash $1 billion more from projects intended to rebuild Iraq's shattered infrastructure, dealing another blow to U.S. plans to pacify Iraq by improving basic services....The slow pace in rebuilding Iraq has raised protests from Iraqis, who continue to suffer from a lack of basic services. Many Iraqi homes and businesses have electricity for only a few hours a day. Raw sewage still streams straight into the Tigris River, just as it did during Saddam Hussein's rule.Iraqi officials expressed frustration with the latest cutbacks, saying fewer water, sewer and electricity projects could further alienate Iraqis and bolster the insurgency. Already, one top Iraqi official said she had to cut back on plans to deliver clean water to residents of the restive cities of Fallujah and Mosul."
"As part of a broad strategy to spur political change in Cuba, the U.S. government has been quietly sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to activists seeking to undermine" Castro.
The Wonderful Fruits of American "Liberation": "Three years after the United States drove the Taliban out of Afghanistan and vowed to rebuild, the war-shattered country ranked 173rd of 178 countries in the United Nations 2004 Human Development Index." With a few more years of US occupation, Afghanistan can reach the magical number 178.
Hassan Fattah of the New York Times Watch. Today, in an article on Lebanon, he said: "protesters thronged Beirut, chanting "Syria Out! Let's Go!" and "Bashar, you bastard, get your dogs out of Beirut!"" Not true. In fact, the second chant was "Ya Bashshar Ya `Akrut..." "Akrut" is Arabic for pimp, not "bastard."
From Chicago airport: I do not mean to ruin your moods, but this occurred to me on the plane. Now according to the official puppet results by the official puppet Iraqi electoral commission, Iraqi puppet prime minister/car bomber/embezzler-in-Yemen/former Saddam henchman, Iyad `Allawi, received some 13. 00 % of the votes, and yet he got some 40 seats of the 275-seat assembly. Who did the math? By the way, I believe that `Allawi, without American money (and mosly likely other forms of "covert support"), he would have scored much less. In fact, the Iraqi puppet and polygamous president (installed by the US), Al-Yawir, received 4 seats, while the fellow that the US considered making PM, Adnan Pachachi, received one seat. American puppets are not doing so well after all, but the Bush's Ayatollahs are doing just fine.
Bush brings Ayatollah rule to Iraq: Ayatollahs of the region grateful.
Hundreds Join Anti-Mubarak Protest
The tale of the Iraqi librarian
"American officials are talking to negotiators from the anti-US resistance in Iraq, whom they have denounced in the past as foreign fighters and remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime."
Full text of AI report. "Iraq: Decades of suffering, Now women deserve better."

Monday, February 21, 2005

Not a day goes by without reading that US occupation forces or the Iraqi puppet forces have arrested a key aide to Zarqawi, or his 2nd in command, or his propaganda chief, or his potato advisor, etc. That can only imply that Zarqawi has some 50000 advisors and aides, no? On another note, is it not high time for the Sunni clerical grouping in Iraq (which includes clerics who were as silent under Saddam's brutal rule as Sistani was) to condemn in no uncertain terms the crimes and terrorism of Zarqawi and his fellow kooks? What are they waiting for?
"Prisoner Uprising In Iraq Exposes New Risk for U.S.: Nonlethal Weapons Proved Ineffective as Chaos Spread." From a Washington Post's headline. That can only imply that "lethal weapons" are now required, no? Brace yourselves.
Sudden Congressional generosity towards Palestinians is suspicious, at least.
"A report has found 180 million children are ensnared in sexual exploitation, soldiering and forced labour"
US occupation forces prepare to "liberate" Ramadi, AGAIN.
I should have a regular section titled Hassan Fattah Watch. It is amazing how his right-wing standards, not to mention his ignorance of Middle East affairs, prevail in everything he writes, even the punctuation. Here, in this article, he interviews two people, and both are right-wing (and, in the context of Lebanese sectarian standards, Christian) Lebanese. One of them, he identifies as professor without telling the readers that he also is a member of Qurnat Shihwan, the Right-wing Christian grouping. Details, mere details for the New York Times. Leave them alone. They are thrilled that they found an Arab Zionist who graduated from the New Republic.
Three reasons why the US and Europe won't make up (Bush, Rice, and Rumsfeld).
"At the dawn of feminism, there was an assumption that women would not be as severely judged on their looks in ensuing years. Phooey. It's just the opposite. Looks matter more than ever, with more and more women spending fortunes turning themselves into generic, plastic versions of what they think men want, reaching for eerily similar plumped-up faces and body shapes."
"On Monday, the flashy Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, known for its cleavage-baring booze servers, will start weighing all its "Borgata Babes" — and those who gain more than 7 percent will lose their jobs unless they lose the weight."

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Regatta by Raoul Dufy. Posted by Hello to Ann Arbor for a talk at the University of Michigan. Will return on Tuesday night. May not be able to update. But you may stay informed by visiting this site.
Bush's favorite dictator these days: "Libya has failed to meet a deadline for a $540-million compensation payment to the families of the 270 people killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103."
"Flirting with Armageddon: welcome to a new arms race"
This is another laudatory article on Hariri in Washington Post by Lebanese ultra-nationalist Noura Bustany who works at the Post, writing on the fluff facets of diplomatic life in DC.
At least she mentioned that in "the mid-'90s, he introduced a law barring journalists from criticizing "Lebanese allies," a reference not only to Syria but to Saudi Arabia." There are several inaccuracies in the article but I do not have time to correct for you. Would you like a beverage too, dear reader? She mentions, for example, that Hariri helped win passage of a new electoral law in Lebanon. 1) A new electoral law has NOT yet passed in the Lebanese parliament. 2) Hariri was the fiercest critic of the electoral law that she mentions. This is but a small version of the kind of coverage in the pro-Saudi Arabic media. I am suffocating. But here, in the Guardian, there is a really important and balanced article on Hariri's "many enemies."
This Arabic website translated my post on Hariri (Myth and Reality) from below. But they translated "brothels" as "fancy beauty parlors." I was amused.
The brilliant Iraqi puppet prime minister/car bomber/embezzler-in-Yemen/former Saddam henchman, Iyad `Allawi identified the killers behind the assassination of Rafiq Hariri. He said today--I am not making this up--that "terrorism" was behind the assassination of Hariri. In other news, the brilliant `Allawi also stated categorically that french fries come from potatoes.
From the Fatwas of Grand (not really) Ayatollah Sistani:
Question 1: What is Islam's opinion on love, i.e. the love of a boy for a girl?
Answer: If it brought in the impermissible or the fear of it, then it is not permissible.
Question 2: What is the ruling on noble love that aims toward marriage no more?
Answer: No love shall be shown for a foreign woman, and vice versa, because it will often lead to the impermissible, and practicing of love is also impermissible.
Question 3: Is demonstrating love without purpose and without the goal of lust allowed?
Answer: It is not permissible to demonstrate love for fear of falling in the impermissible even if gradually.
Question 5: What is your opinion in forming relationships or friendships or love between a man and a woman through the internet?
Answer: It is not permissible because not falling in the impermissible is not guaranteed, even if
"New information uncovered in Iraq by Human Rights Watch points to Ali Hassan al-Majid (or “Chemical Ali”) as the commander who ordered the summary killings of hundreds of Shia Muslims in 1999."
Those right-wing Lebanese Christian-oriented factions and gangs in Lebanon are now praising Hariri as their hero. Do you know that those same groups used in the 1990s to accuse Hariri of wanting to Islamize Lebanon?
Realizing that he will be on his way out, Iraqi puppet prime minister/car bomber/embezzler-in-Yemen/former Saddam henchman, Iyad `Allawi said in an Arabic interview that he plans to leave Iraq for an Arab country if the new Iraqi government does not protect him. I say that he will not be missed in Iraq (but will be greatly missed in Washington, DC), but I also believe that he will even be less safe in Arab countries. Iyad `Allawi is now an Arabic curse word, or an insult, like the word Hamid Karzai.

Even children are "liberated" in Mosul. Posted by Hello
Hariri: the myth and the reality: None of the laudatory and fawning coverage of Hariri in the Arabic press (and to an extent in the Western press) mentions several basic facts. One: they keep talking about his international stature, and how proud Lebanese are of that stature. Let me tell you what the ingredients of that stature were: they were five. Money, money, money, money, and money. His billions opened the doors for him, and not his wit, his brilliance, or his wisdom. The Emperor of Japan and Bush would not have received him at short notice had he been a carpenter. His billions established his friendship with Jacque Chirac too. And Chirac is notorious for his corrupt electoral campaigns, and Saddam and Saudi Arabia were big supporters of Chirac when he was rising in French politics, and he allegedly received oil money support from these corrupt regimes and their personalities. Saddam, I should remind you, was also a close personal friend of Chirac, and the "wives" got to be friends too. An aide to Chirac told me how Arab oil cash would flow freely during Chirac's campaigns, and envelopes of cash would be circulating without accounting. Those talking about Hariri's reconstruction plans miss to detail his plans, or their consequences. Hariri's policies constituted real wars against poor people in Lebanon, although he was known to distribute bottles of olive oil and some rice to poor Sunni voters during election times. Thirdly, his model for the Lebanese economy was to make Lebanon a horrific playground for rich oil princes--his friends and partners. His version of reconstruction was behind the proliferation of fancy hotels, restaurants, brothels, and casinos all over Lebanon. Hariri wanted to demolish the huts of poor people near the airport road because they may disturb the eyes of "tourists." He was the person behind the $40 billion foreign debt of Lebanon, and he never EVER complained of his subservience to Syrian intelligence apparatus in Lebanon. Of course, all this while Angry Arab strongly rejects the car bombing that mercilessly and brutally killed Hariri and other innocent Lebanese. And in fact, while I never ever agree with anything coming out of the lousy right-wing "opposition" in Lebanon, I do agree that an international investigation is warranted because the Lebanese and Syrian investigations are not credible. (I also call for international investigations of Israeli war crimes in Palestine and US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.) It is also amazing how money can make people discard their principles and their opinions. Many former Lebanese communists and Arab nationalists discarded their ideologies to be in the service of Hariri. And is it not ironic that the head of a party called "Progressive Socialist Party" was the closest ally of Hariri? But this is the Lebanese version of progressiveness and socialism. Fakery is very Lebanese.
New Documents Reveal Widespread Abuse: "The ACLU has released files obtained from the Army, under court order, revealing allegations of abuse by U.S. soldiers. Among the documents are reports that a detainee was beaten and forced to drop his claims (pdf, page 13) in order to be released."
Angry Arab Guide to Middle East Media (Part I, TV) (too displeased with the stupid New York Times’ one prepared by Hassan Fattah 10 days ago):
Al-Jazeera: the most important symbol of Arab media now. Owned by members of the royal family in Qatar, especially the Foreign Minister. But he allows a degree of independence. Many of the people who work in the station (from my own experience) do not like the views of the Foreign Minister. But after American pressures, especially after the Iraq war and occupation, he has replaced the director-general and the board of directors. Al-Jazeera’s orientations are largely vague Arab nationalist, although people in the West would be surprised to learn that people in the Middle East are convinced that Al-Jazeera is run by the Mossad. People in the Middle East do not find Al-Jazeera to be "nationalist" enough. Furthermore, they do not like how Al-Jazeera features Israeli guests/propagandists. The news broadcasts are largely straightforward; the shouting and the anti-American sentiments are expressed on, or confined to, AlJazeera’s talk shows that are widely watched. But they always match the anti-American guest with a pro-American guest. One Al-Jazeera correspondent is now serving time in jail awaiting trial in Spain for alleged ties to Al-Qa`idah. He was the only one that I suspected of harboring some sympathies for Bin Laden, and he lied on the air about his meeting with Bin Laden. I did not like how AlJazeera handled the matter. They should have conducted an internal investigation, which they have not. Most of the anchorpeople are graduates of the short-lived BBC TV (and BBC Radio service). They have excellent command of the Arabic language and very good interviews skills. Some come from Jordan TV. Al-Jazeera covers Bush and his administration very extensively, too extensively if you ask me. For the 11 hours of Bin Laden tapes that AlJazeera has aired since Sep. 11, it has aired more than 500 hours of Bush (or Bin Bush) tapes. They cover all his speeches live, and I have mocked Al-Jazeera (on AlJazeera) by saying that they cover the sneezes of US officials now. It still has the largest audience. It has its biases; when the father of the current Amir came back from exile (the son deposed the father), the station would not have anything to say. No 90 minutes shows would be devoted to the matter, the way they would do to other matters. Furthermore, the Saudi-Qatari feud is reflected in the station especially with the extensive coverage given to Saudi matters, and the platform regularly given to Saudi dissidents. But Al-Jazeera has the best news operation, and refreshingly (unlike CNN which is covering Prince Chargles’ engagement as we speak) stays away from fluff news. You also feel that Al-Jazeera correspondents are increasingly taking seriously the profession that they are in. The staff and anchorpeople come from different Arab countries, and only one anchorwoman wears the hijab (and she did so after working for years without it)--not that this matters but I know how obsessed Westerners are with the "veil". The influence of Islamic fundamentalist demagogue Yusuf Al-Qardawi is highly exaggerated in the station. He has his weekly program and that is where he confines his fulminations and pontifications.
Al-Arabiyya: This is the Saudi royal family’s answer to Al-Jazeera. Pure and simple. It started with vague financial information about its backers, but it was later revealed that it was part of the empire of King Fahd’s brother-in-law. The staff has a disproportionate number of Lebanese, and many Lebanese right-wing Christians. This is not accidental. Saudi and other Gulf countries often prefer Lebanese right-wing Christians because they feel that they are not susceptible to Arab nationalist or Islamic fundamentalist agitations. Also, Lebanse are very skilled in the art of submission to wealthy oil princes, and are willing to sell themselves for oil money. In fact, a Lebanese who worked for Al-Walid Bin Talal wrote an underground damning book about that prince, and how he got in trouble when the prince’s associates discovered that he was a Muslim (he came from the `Awn family, which is most likely a Christian family name in Lebanon). The station came to serve two purposes: 1) to counter Al-Jazeera’s powerful hold over Arab news digestion; 2) to please US. The station recruited anchors by offering fat salaries. The right-wing, and highly annoying Lebanese (lousy) interviewer, Jizel Khuri, was recruited from LBC, while the right-wing Elie Naquzi was recruited from NBN, Najwa Qasim from Future TV, and many were recruited from Al-Jazeera, but none of Al-Jazeera’s big names, except perhaps anchorwoman Muntaha Ar-Ramahi and Gaza correspondent Sayf Ad-Din Shahin. The Arabic of the Lebanese anchors are almost always inferior to Egyptians, Syrians, Iraqis, and Gulf Arabs. The director of Syrian TV told me how they recruited their star, Zeina Al-Yaziji (fluent in French, Arabic, and English). She was paid $400 per month at Syrian TV. Al-Arabiyya came and offered $7000. She promptly left. They are still mourning her at Syrian TV. Yet, none of their anchorpeople have the presence or “star” power of those at Al-Jazeera. The interviewing skills of Khadijah Bin Qanna (on Al-Jazeera) or of Iman Bannurah or of Jumanah Nammur or Jamil `Azar. `Abdul-Rahman Ar-Rashid who ran Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat now runs the station. His imprint is strongly felt. He represents that annoying Arab “liberalism” which is not to be confused with “liberalism” in Europe or even in the US. Arab “liberalism” is really conservativism disguised as support for liberal values. Arab liberals, to a man and woman, are also champions of Saudi Arabia while they preach human rights and democracy especially in countries that are enemies of Saudi Arabia. They also are fans of George W. Bush, and his campaigns for “Freedoms.” They ostensibly support “women’s rights” but not in the most misogynist countries in the world. They of course admire Allawi and Abu Mazin, and they claim to oppose Islamic fundamentalism, but not inside the government of Saudi Arabia. Al-Arabiyya has more recycled news reports than Al-Jazeera but it is getting better. It really discredited itself almost completely with its coverage of Allawi and the unending airing of Allawi commercials and non-commercials. It has charted a path for itself among Arab audiences, but people often sneer at its obvious rivalry with Al-Jazeera. Like Al-Jazeera it also interviews Israeli propagandists. They get very nervous if any guests offer strong criticisms of the US, and they cut them off. But most voices that are critical of Saudi Arabia or of US are not allowed on the station. Their best interviewer is Hasan Mu`awwad (a Palestinian formerly at the BBC), who has a very concise 30 minutes weekly program. Turki Ad-Dukhayl has an excellent one-hour program devoted to Gulf affairs. Jizel Khuri brings to the station that silly and shallow “techniques” of American fluff “news” shows. But I read that her program is popular. Unlike Al-Jazeera, they run fluff pieces. They ran a report two weeks ago from Jordan about how people in Jordan feel about the birth of a new child for the Saudi King of Jordan. People were quoted saying how happy they were for their king. Last week, they ran a report about the Saudi non-election election in which the reporter was fully speaking for the government, and saying how nice it is for the people to shoulder some responsibilities with their leaders. The New York Times Magazine laudatory article about Al-Arabiyya indirectly revealed that some workers and journalists at the station are not happy with the pressures from above. I should also indicate that the US has been extremely pleased with Al-Arabiyya as of late after ignorantly equating AlJazeera and AlArabiyya perhaps because they sound the same to an American ear. American officials now—I think—treat AlArabiyya as their official mouthpiece especially after the failure of the official propaganda TV, known as Hurra TV. Many correspondents of Al-Arabiyyah are good professional journalists.
LBC-TV: this started as a militia TV station, and the founder (Pierre Ad-Dahir) remains at the helm. The non-satellite version of the station is still owned by the right-wing founder, while the satellite version is now owned mostly by Saudi investors (Al-Walid bin Talal has the largest share). The station is mostly entertainment with a widely watched Lebanese-centered news segments that are blatantly and unabashedly right-wing and sectarian Christian in Lebanese political terms. The station succeeds because it is so sleazy and appeals to the worst male sexist and sleazy standards. They have a workout program in the morning that is avidly watched around the region; it is almost pornographic as the sleazy camera has no interest in athletics and all the interest in the details of the woman’s body parts. The entire station is based on sexual exploitation and objectification of women. Their entertainment programs are also popular because they include long and extensive interviews with “stars.” (They pay them well). Their broadcasters do not necessarily have a good command of Arabic (because the Lebanese bourgeoisie like to brag about their foreign language skills and Arabic is for the “masses,” you know) but some do (Walid Abbud and May Shidqaq). They have a weekly news program by the very able Shadha Amr, but it is consistently slanted toward…Saudi Arabia and the interests of the royal family.
Future TV: This one is owned by Lebanese-Saudi former prime minister/billionaire Rafiq Hariri. It followed the recipe of LBC-TV but is more serious, and less sleazy. A mix of news and entertainment, and unlike LBC-TV which seems to only hire Christians, has a very mixed staff of Christians and Muslims. Like the newspaper with that same name (as this corrupt tool of the Saudi royal family is supposed to represent the “Future”), the TV followed the whims and inclinations of Rafiq Hariri. It has talks shows that are rather mild and not sensational, and a weekly Oprah-like and widely watched program moderated by a gifted Lebanese Armenian. I am told that his program (known as Sirah wa infatahat by Zaven) is one of the most widely watched program in the Middle East. Recently, the able journalist `Ali Hamadah of AnNahar started a weekly news show. He brings more diverse guests unlike on LBC-TV.
New TV: owned by Tahsin Khayyat: a Sidon-based businessman with very close ties to the Qatari government. They have mix like Future and LBC. Entertainment and news, and also features sexist standards of presentation. I know from an inside source that a woman was recently hired but was told get a nose job. They also feature the most annoying woman in the world (Maryam Nur) who offers a non-stop monologue that is very new agey. She got that from living in New Mexico for a while. She goes on and one and on. They also have a strident and sensational weekly news program called Bila Raqib (Without Censor). The presenter (Maria Ma`luf) is getting better, and her Arabic is getting much better, but she interviews the guests separately. I had told her that this very boring for the audience, but she has her ideas. George Saliba hosts a very good weekly Lebanese-centered news show, and he is very good at what he does. They also feature American shows, and reviews of American movies. But they seem to think that Mariah Carrey is a big star in the US.
Al-Manar TV: the Hizbullah TV station in Lebanon. Was recently banned in USA and France. If hate is a reason to ban stations, should Fox News not be banned? They spew hate on a daily basis, but I guess American style hate is more “sophisticated” and nice. Al-Manar started as a lousy dogmatic station, with heavy religious programming. But like Hizbullah, Al-Manar soon discovered that that Lebanon is the “sin” capital of the world, and the Lebanese would switch in a heart beat if they continue their dogmatic approach. So they loosened up, and hired not only non-Shi`ites, but also non-religious people, I know. They are too serious, but their news broadcasts are comprehensive and detailed, and non-Lebanese centered. They leave Lebanon news to the end. I am told that it is the number one station in Palestine and some places in North Africa. They have some really good professional correspondents (one whose name escapes me does live broadcasts from main events). They no more insist that women have to appear with their hairs covered. But an American friend of mine in Lebanon (who is active on behalf of Palestinians) appeared once on a program, but during the break they told her to cover her neck with some item of clothing. I told her that she should have refused. They have an excellent weekly news program hosted by an excellent reporter from As-Safir, Imad Marmal, and is devoted to Lebanese affairs. A Lebanese member of parliament (Pierre Hilu) died live on the air in one program. A very able anchorwoman (Batul) does (or used to as I have no access to AlManar anymore) a weekly news program but the guests are always in agreement, which is not interesting to watch. Even when leftists and fundamentalists are invited together, they are not asked to speak on areas of their disagreement but on something about Israel, which they agree on. They also have tons of Shi`ite religious programming. They also air serials, but usually with political message. They aired a stupid and very boring Egyptian serial which had anti-Jewish characters and dialogue. And they seem to favor sensational guests, from the Islamic fundamentalist or the vulgar Arab nationalist currents.
NBN: used to be run by the now director of the official US propaganda channel Al-Hurra, Muwaffaq Harb. It is owned and run by the Shi`ite militia Amal, headed by the now speaker of the Lebanese parliament. It is not widely watched: very non-distinctive. Their talents are not well utilized. But one of their stars told me that they have a huge deficit regularly, and cannot invest in improvement. Very limited appeal and audience.
Saudi TV: if you want to know whether a green toothbrush is preferable to a blue toothbrush from the Islamic point of view, and if you are dying to know whether it is permissible from the Islamic point of view to listen to female voices on the radio, this TV is for you. And if you really are eager to know the name of every person who met Crown Prince Abdullah when he arrived to Riyadh airport from Jiddah, this is your TV. Enjoy.
Abu Dhabi TV: has a good and professional news operations, but is mostly entertainment. Have suffered from continuing budget cuts.
Al-Hurra: I really believe that the US government and Congress were conned by those who started this station. They first had to falsely convince them that Radio Sawa (the US propaganda radio) has been successful, and that Arabs now watch TV and there is a need for a TV station. Radio Sawa plays pop Arabic and American music and is listened to in some places like Kuwait and Jordan, but is far from being the number one station, except probably in Kuwait from what I hear. But this is different from saying that it shapes minds, or changes views. Kuwait students have told me that they listen to their music, and mock their news broadcasts. The TV station, by contrast, is a failure, an abysmal failure when you think of the amount of money that we taxpayers are pumping into its coffers. When I was in Lebanon, I would watch it whenever I visited my mother. Nobody watches it. It has an overwhelming preponderance of right-wing Lebanese journalists, and some from LBC and the defunct MTV (a Beirut-based right-wing station closed by the Lebanese government). There was at one point a live coverage from Iraq on AlJazeera and AlArabiyya, while Al-Hurra was playing a recorded documentary on the sizes of potatoes in Idaho, or some thrilling topic like that. There is not a single star anchor, and they are notorious for lousy command of Arabic. They brought in one star right-wing Lebanese talk show host (Ziyad Nujaym) but he is even hated by more than half of Lebanon, and does not talk in classical Arabic as he is a silly ultra-Lebanese nationalist. The founders did not know that the Arab stations are far more sophisticated and advanced (even technologically) than this American station. Arab nationalists and Islamic fundamentalists celebrated the failure of Al-Hurra. I do not expect it to be around in a year or two. An insider in Washington, DC tells me that people in Congress are concerned over stories of alleged mismanagement and even corruption at the station, and that Sen. Lugar is not happy with Al-Hurra. But the Bush administration will not give up. Now they are planning a propaganda channel to transmit through Muslim i-pods, to be called i-gods.
OK: I have other things to do now. I should write later a guide for print media.
"Sistani's views on women "are restrictive and...he made it very clear that he abides by the age-old opinions regarding women's inequality with men."

Friday, February 18, 2005

Having lost the election in Iraq despite millions of US funds, Iraqi puppet prime minister/car bomber/embezzler-in-Yemen/former Saddam's henchman warns that the winning list has Iran ties (unlike his "good" foreign ties).
"Low-income workers face most challenges under the president's proposed Social Security reforms."

They are demonstrating in Jordan against government repression. Bush keeps praising "democracy" in Jordan. The Arabic word reads "government." Posted by Hello
"In a case that echoes the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq, U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan posed before cameras while threatening to shoot prisoners in the head, shoving a detainee into a wall and punching another inmate. The troops also mugged for "trophy shots" with the corpse of an enemy fighter who had invaded their camp last year."
Every person who dies in the Middle East is now declared to be a "martyr" and every war that the US launches is a "liberation" war. I am suffocating.
"According to Reuters, during their detention "two of the three said they had been forced to insert a finger into their anus and then lick it, and were forced to put shoes in their mouths." Reuters also reported: "All three said they were forced to make demeaning gestures as soldiers laughed, taunted them and took photographs." The employees claimed that U.S. soldiers said they would take them to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and that the soldiers "deprived them of sleep, placed bags over their heads, kicked and hit them, and forced them to remain in stress positions for long periods." Military investigators, who absolved the troops of any misconduct, did not bother to interview the detainees. The case has received scant media attention in the United States."

Israeli occupation forces dealing with Palestinians. Posted by Hello
Journalist group calls US to account over Iraq
The final proof: global warming is a man-made disaster

Israeli occupation forces dealing with Palestinians. Posted by Hello
invisible workers who fear deportation in Israel
German scholar is exposed as fraud
There is "liberation" and then there is "double liberation". I heard Don Rumsfeld yesterday refer to the recent destruction of Fallujah as "the liberation" of Fallujah. But I thought that Iraq as a whole was "liberated" when US invaded the country, and broguht down Saddam's regime. And when you "liberate" the whole you "liberate" the part. So if Iraq was liberated, so was Fallujah. But I guess some towns and cities need to be "liberated" more than once.
Voting for Ayatollah Sistani. I heard Sen. John Warner saying yesterday in a Senate hearing that Iraqis voted in large numbers to show support for "freedom" and "democracy". No, Senator. Iraqis voted in large numbers (in most areas but not all) to show support for an Ayatollah who never left his house in 6 years, and who considers love between a man and a woman to be morally impermissable. (More on that later--I have been reading his fatwas lately).
The Lebanon I left behind, the Lebanon that I will not return to. I saw Druze sectarian feudal warlord, Walid Jumblat, talk about Rafiq Hariri and Syria on Future-TV. He said that he is nostalgic to the old days of his excellent relations with the Syrian regime. He mentioned his past alliance with the likes of `Abdul-Halim Khaddam and Hikmat Ash-Shihabi. These were the most brutal times of the Syrian regime: the days of the brutal crushing of the Hamah rebellion, the days when motorcycles and running shoes were illegal in Damascus, when Syrian troops crushed by force the PLO-Lebanese National Movement alliance, when the Syrian government perfected the Dulab torture technique, when Syrian troops burnt down the headquarters of the Muharrir newspaper in Beirut, and when his own father was gunned down most likely by Syrian troops. And this warlord now dares to speak about "freedom" and "democracy." He must have learned the meanings of those words in the era of Bush, when Iraq was devastated by US bombings in the name of the same "freedom" and "democracy." And most upsetting to me today, was the news that poor and helpless Syrian workers were attacked in South Lebanon and in North Lebanon. This is Lebanon. A country based on a silly myth; a country that does not have foundations for nationhood or statehood, and yet promotes to itself as an "eternal homeland". They never dared attack those workers when Syrian troops where in Lebanon. These nationalist Lebanese need poor and helpless "foreigners" like Palestinians and Syrians in their midst to beat up, and feel better about that Lebanon. These Syrian workers are doing their "dirty jobs" and being punished for it, just as the Palestinians were victims of the oppressive Lebanese army/intelligence apparatus before the war. Palestinians in Lebanon today are living in subhuman conditions, and the Lebanese still think that they are the most "civilized", that they are better than their neighbors. It is always tempting for the Lebanese to blame their problems on outsiders, to claim innocence about themselves, just as Americans like to attribute innocence to America's role in the world. This is not to absolve the Syrian government of responsibility in Lebanese affairs (and I was awakened to politics when Syria intervened to support the right-wing militias in 1976, and I was filled with rage at the intervention back then when I was 16), but in light of the media coverage, it is important to remember that there were other players too. Israel played a very destructive role in Lebanese affairs, and certainly is responsible for killing more Lebanese and Palestinians than Syria over the years. For some reason, I have been re-reading lately those sources: "Desperate Diplomacy: The Zionist-Maronite Treaty of 1946," by Laura Zittrain Eisenberg in Studies in Zionism, vol 13, no. 2 (1992); "Israel and the Lebanese Phalange: The Birth of a Relationship, 1948-1951," by Benny Morris in Studies in Zionism, vol 3, no. 1 (1984); and Laura Zittrain Eisenberg, My Enemy's Enemy: Lebanon in the Early Zionist Imagination (Detroit: Wayne State University); Israel's Covert Diplomacy in Lebanon by Kirsten E. Schulze. You also have to read the accounts of the Israeli invasion of 1982, by people like Robert Fisk, N. Chomsky, Rashid Khalidi, among others. These sinister interventions by Israel in Lebanese affairs, not to mention its invasions and mini-invasions, do not get the attention they deserve. And I saw a roundtable of journalists on a Lebanese TV station praising Hariri's generosity, and how he used to fly journalists with him, and put them in luxurious hotels at his expense. None of those present noted the ethical problems. Ethics. A mere irrelevant inconvenience in Lebanese politics. There are no heroes in Lebanon. No side to support, or champion. Sectarian and opportunist parties and personalities on all sides. But I reserve a special contempt for the gang of right-wing elements in the so-called opposition. These are the ones who started the war, and who invited the Syrian army in 1976, and the Israeli army and the US in 1982. These are the ones that are most responsible for the agony of Lebanon. I was in favor in their decisive defeat back in 1976. Syria saved them.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Hariri's Assassination: Thomas Friedman, it seems, not only produces silly and superficial commentaries on world affairs, but he also produces lies. Today, he talks about meeting Hariri in Lebanon in the 1970s when Friedman was covering Lebanon as a foreign correspondent. Friedman forgot to remember that Hariri was in Saudi Arabia at the time, and did not start coming to Lebanon until after the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. And the Empire of Principle (US) is now saying this: that Syria should not interfere in Lebanese affairs, and that Lebanon should hold elections without Syrian troops. That was exactly my position on Iraq: And notice that when US officials say those words, no reporters (certainly not in the US media) point the ironies and hypocrisies of the US position. Much has happened since my last post. I will focus first on the assassination of former billionaire prime minister Rafiq Hariri. This was a heinous crime, of course. Car bombs are terrorist weapons, no matter who the target is, and they allway kill innocent people. It is a reckless method by people who are reckless about human life. Former Lebanese Minister Basil Fulayhan was sitting next to Hariri in the car, and he is now in Paris in a very critical condition. I knew Basil since he was 5 years old, and was friends with his brother Ramzi. I did not keep in touch with them, especially as Fulayhan became a key trusted advisor to Hariri. I felt bad for him when he got involved in politics, because he was the most unpolitical and apolitical person I knew. But people are weak vis-a-vis billionaires. The US media, as usual, miss the point. They talk about Hariri as if he was some outspoken critic of Syria. He never was. He was one of many uncritical voices toward Syria, and talked insincerely about Hafidh Al-Asad and his son Bashshar al-Asad as his "close personal friends." Even in his last few weeks of friction with Syria, he never uttered a word against the Syrian government. And Hasan Nasrallah (the leader of Hizbullah revealed in a speech two days ago that he was very close to Hariri and that they were meeting once a week or more, and that he was not close to the "opposition.") In fact, the last interview Hariri gave in As-Safir the day before he was assassinated was also pro-Syrian, and distanced himself from the right-wing opposition that is now trying to claim him. And please, do not buy Jacque Chirac's words to the effect that he was a great fighter for "democracy." Hariri was a great champion of Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi regime and Syria, and during his long rule in Lebanon, he muzzled critical voices: in the labor unions, and in the media. He was instrumental in establishing the juridical basis for Syrian political domination in Lebanon. His disagreement with Lebanese president Emile Lahhud (and consequently with Syria) was over two areas: 1) his strong embrace of cruel and aggressive capitalism and globalization no matter what impact it has over most Lebanese; and 2) petty matters between two typical Lebanese politicians. Right wing Lebanese groups as usual are milking the event for their own purposes, in the hope of an American or Israeli war of "liberation" (we saw how those go in Iraq). Those same right-wing Lebanese groups (like the one by Lebanese-American right-wing fanatic Ziad Abdelnour) were referring to him as recently as today (although the piece was written previously) as somebody who "sold the country to Syria". Kooky Lebanese right-wing sectarian General Michel `Awn repeatedly dismissed him as Syrian "puppet" over the last decade. Now, they want to claim him for their own ends. To galvanize sectarian Muslim and international opinion against Syria and its allies (and clients) in Lebanon, they have to turn him into a life-long enemy of Syria. And his disagreements with Syria only began a few weeks ago. Weeks. In reality, Hariri came into Lebanese politics, or was imposed on Lebanese politics through three factors: 1) Syria; 2) Saudi Arabai; 3) his money. This is a man, no matter what you read especially those reading the Saudi-funded Arabic press, who cynically funded militias of the right, center, and left to further his political ambitions. This is a man who for pure cynical political reasons, embraced right-wing fascist militia leader Eli Hubayqah (trained by Israel and later was the mastermind of the Sabra and Shatila massacres--a man who was a tool of the Israel regime and later became a tool of the Syrian regime--and a man who was killed by a car bomb in Lebanon before leaving for Belgium to testify before a war crime tribunal on his role in the Sabra and Shatila massacres and Israel was blamed for the bombing, and Israel was mosly likely behind several car bombings in Lebanon in the last few years that targeted Ahmad Jibril's son, and several middle-ranking leaders of Hizbullah), and Hariri hosted him in his house in Geneva for months at Hariri's expense. I refuse to allow the pro-Saudi coverage of the assassinated Saudi prime minister of Lebanon to obscure the facts. Hariri also used his charitable organizations and foundations to win sympathy and support among the Lebanese people, and to buy votes. How many poor people I met who told me how they receive $100.00 from Hariri campaign officials, and be driven AND WATCHED on election day as they cast the "right" ballot. This is democracy by the rules of Saudi billionaires. His philanthropic contributions declined as he ensured a political space for himself, with strong Syrian support. He had a house in Syria, and allegedly made political and corrupt financial dealings with Syrian officials, and their sons. Is that why Syrian vice-president `Abdul-Halim Khaddam was crying? I do not know. I know that Khaddam used to stay at Hariri's house in Paris, and there were reports that Khaddam's sons benefited from Hariri's wealth. Now who was behind this crime? Let us remember that in the course of the Lebanese civil war, all those parties used car bombs as "weapons": Israel, US, Syria, Lebanese Army Intelligence, Iraq, Libya, Arafat's apparatus, and the various Lebanese militias. So all are capable of doing it. I personally suspect either Syria, or Israel, or Michel `Awn's gangs in Lebanon. If Syria is behind it, it indicates to me that there was a silent unannounced coup in Damascus according to which Bashshar was pushed aside in favor of the more ruthless elements of the regime. If you think about it; the regime may be watching developments in Iraq especially the marginalization not only of the Ba`thists but of the Sunnis and wonder about the future status of the `Alawites in Syria who number no more than 14 % of the population. If Syria was behind, it will indicate a change of the rules "of the game" in Lebanon, and a signal that Syria will fight dirty in Lebanon and elsewhere to preserve the regime. The Syrian regime and their allies in Lebanon have been recently at least stupid and dumb (and who knows if they have been criminal too) in their dealings in Lebanon. As the best Arab columnist Joseph Samah said the other day, Syria and its allies made everything possible to make sure that they are the most suspected party in this crime. While one should reject these crimes and car bombs (there were days when Michael Bakunin quoted in the great E. H. Carr's biography of him said that revolutionary violence requires no more than a rope, a dagger, and poison. Now we live in the era of car bombs, and "strategic bombings" and "collateral damage" and the driving of planes into buildings. Political violence has never been uglier. But one's rejection of those crimes should not mask Hariri's record: of corrupting Lebanese politics more than it has ever been corrupted. He bought media outlets, pens, writers, actors, intellectuals, parliamentarians, and consciences of people. Money was his access to dominance in petty Lebanese politics. I met Hariri once, and he obviously disliked me intensely, and I never was an admirer of him. I spoke against him a lot in the last few years--because very few were speaking against him, and in the last visit to Lebanon New TV (his rival TV station) prominently played my comments against him. Those who are crying on Lebanese TV are crying the man who gave them money: they are the politicians and the tools and clients and slaves of Hariri. I never was one of them. They are not mourning Hariri, they are mourning his wealth, and political money. Of course, there are people in Lebanon who are rightly disgusted by the killing and the car bombing, which brings back the worst images from the Lebanese civil war. Some are worried about the future especially as Hariri wanted Lebanese people to believe that Lebanon will descend into hell if he is out of office. An advisor of him who was a friend of mine, suggested 3 years ago that I interview him as I interview those who are in Lebanese politics. Professor Michael Hudson of Georgetown (and my dissertation advisor) accompanied me when I interviewed his sister Bahiyyah and I am told that Hudson talks about that interview as a classic "How NOT to Conduct Interviews". When I interview the powerful and wealthy, I make a point to be non-courteous and non-polite, and avoid all manners of bourgeois etiquette. I do not want them to think that I want anything from them. So I showed up at the massive Prime Minister's headquarters in Beirut (and please do not say that Hariri rebuilt Lebanon--future Lebanese people rebuilt Lebanon, as Hariri accumulated a foreign debt of $40 billion to "rebuild" Lebanon. His wealth increased while prime minister, while Lebanese were increasingly impoverished under his rule. Pro-Saudi columnist Jihad Khazen urged him to put his wealth in trust fund, but he never did. It was never clear whether Lebanese economic policies or his travels worldwide were about Lebanon or about increasing Hariri's wealth). When she saw me, she did not like it that I was wearing my running shoes. I had to give a long lecture on New Balance shoes 991 and how they are the best for running, and walking and jumping, etc. So I enter his large office, and he was busy snapping at employees. I sat at a table, and he lifted his glasses and looked at me with contempt for daring to sit without being ordered, and for being dressed in jeans in his presence. He invited me to his desk, and I immediately asked: "How do you categorize yourself ideologically? Left, Center, or Right? And what were the factors in your political formation?" He looked at his advisor and was clearly angry at her for brining this jerk (me) to him. He said that he did not know that this was the nature of the meeting. Maybe he thought I just wanted to shake his hand, and take a picture with him, and leave. Or perhaps to offer my brain and my conscience to his services. Maybe that is why he was annoyed. He said that he really had to leave to meet the Speaker of Parliament, and that we can meet later. I said that I was leaving in a few days, but he said that they would call me for a meeting. They never called, of course. and I was not surprised. An uncle was furious: he said that people make money off him, and that I went and got him angry. I later ran into his advisor, and told her that your boss is a liar. She said: no, just busy. What will happen to Lebanon. This may signal the end of the end of the civil war. I never thought that the civil war has ended in Lebanon, and never liked or supported the sectarian agreement produced in At-Ta'if under Saudi/American/Syrian sponsorship. None of the three parties pursued policies I supported in Lebanon. But a resumption of the civil war is out of question for the time being. Hizbullah can take over Lebanon in a few hours. Who will fight whom? Unless, external powers start to arm the right-wing factions. If that occurs, civil wars will resume, and the outcome will not favor either Israel or America or Michel `Awn. Lebanon is such a corrupt country, with such unprincipled people and leaders. And when I hear American and French officials talking about the "freedom" and "sovereignty" of Lebanon, I get the sudden urge to take a shower. I feel the same when I hear the comments of sectarian feudal warlord Walid Jumblat, who has been one of the most loyal clients of Syria, but now is a sudden champion of "sovereignty" and "independence" of Lebanon. He now is speaking against terrorism while his gangs did so much terrorism in Lebanon during the civil war, and his militias killed so many innocent Christians and others. Lebanese politics in the last few months is a great antidote to any nostalgia I may have toward that country. I also do not rule out the possible involvement of fanatical fundamentalist kooks a la Bin Ladenites, especially as his Future TV station was targeted by missiles 2 years ago, as was the Saudi embassy in Lebanon. Also, Hariri was extremely close to Iyad Allawi, who was the last foreign "leader" that Hariri met before his death. Who knows? There are too many dirty hands in Lebanon. Do you also notice that when US talks "sincerely" about Lebanon, it mentions the need for Syrian help in American occupation of Iraq. That is called a position of principles. And some idiot Lebanese, especially the right-wing Maronite Patriarch, believe that US really cares about Lebanon. And could New York Times reporter Hassan Fattah (graduate of New Republic's school of sensivity to Arabs and Muslims) stop making mistakes when he writes about Middle East affairs? Yesterday, he talked a Lebanese-Syrian treaty in 1981, when he meant to say 1991.