Tuesday, February 28, 2006

My ode to Brezhnev. Leonid Brezhnev, I must confess that I miss you. While I was growing up, I sympathized with the Soviet side during the Cold War. And then I discovered Kronstadt and the Anarchist criticisms of Soviet communism (and Marcuse's critique), and I became disillusioned with the Soviet Union too. And you read about Stalin, but then you could say (at least back then) that the Soviet Union has changed. But I still never could really like the Soviet Union: did not like the rhetoric, and particularly resented the special supermarket that was reserved for members of the Politburo. I agree with the early Anarchist criticisms of the Soviet Union: that we can trace Stalin in Lenin (and some say and trace Lenin in Marx--of the latter I am less certain these days, perhaps because of ideological nostalgia in the Age of Bush--and Clinton). And I never liked Soviet foreign policy: how they pushed for Arab regonition of Israel, how they gave Arabs their worse weapons, how they misled the Arabs, but they also aided Arab countries, although those regimes sqandered aid, or utilized them for lousy policies (the Ba`th for example). And I look now: you see the UN: how it became a mere tool for US. There was a UN during the Cold War: neither the US nor the Soviet Union could get their way back then. And there was no Kofi Annan back then, and Hariri cult did not exist. If I only can bring back the Cold War, and I would if I can revive Brezhnev. Would that be insensitive to Russian people? Not really. I was reading the approval ratings of STALIN: that muse be due to their disillusionment with "democracy" and "capitalism". During the Cold War, Harvard economists could not exploit Russian economy for their own benefit and profit.
I started writing something about the Dubai Port controversy. Wrote a few lines, but then deleted them. I had to realize that I was writing because people have asked me to comment on it, and I did not want to write unless I really feel that I want to write a comment about something. Otherwise, it can become robotic. So there.
Bush seems to be also making progress in Afghanistan: "The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency told Congress yesterday that the insurgency in Afghanistan is growing and will increase this spring"
"More than 2,290 US troops have been killed in Iraq. President George Bush has attended none of the funerals - for which he is often criticised by the families of those who have died."
Boycott Intel.
Annual Ranking: Women in Parliaments Worldwide (US rank: 69).
"Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, who is accompanying George Bush on a visit to India, Pakistan and Afghanistan that begins today, said in January that hundreds of diplomats would be moved from Europe and Washington to Asia, the Middle East and Africa."
"When the moon hits your eye
Like a big-a pizza pie
That's amore
When the world seems to shine
Like you've had too much wine
That's amore"
A scene of Iraq "liberation" yesterday.
When Hummus Hits the Fan: there were clashes and fist fights in `Alay yesterday between supporters of PSP and SSNP. The Army intervened.
By the way, those women in Afghanistan: are they supposed to be "liberated"? Just wanted to know. Good night.
"Good morning. Kindly open the door. We are your kind and gentle "liberators." Thank you."
Don't forget to watch the documentary on terrorism airing today on Al-Arabiyya (2:00PM Eastern Time). You can watch Al-Arabiyya for free on the internet. This documentary was NOT produced by Al-Arabiyya: It was produced by my dear friend Bassam Haddad, although AlArabiyya bought the rights of the three episodes.
A new Arab TV channel will be unleashed today. Of course, it is funded by a member of the Saudi royal family (Al-Walid Bin Talal this time). It is called Ar-Risalah (the Message) and will focus on "moderate" religion. Please, spare me religious channels--here in the US or in the Arab world. I can't take it anymore. I would rather watch, even Larry King.
Well. A Zarqawi "aide" was captured in Iraq. That would make him Zarqawi aide number 488000303037744th to be captured or killed by US troops. Do you notice that Zarqawi seems to have more aides than Bush or Bill Gates combined?
I hear that right-wing government in Denmark also wants to spread democracy and freedom in the Arab world. If Mussolini and Hitler were alive, I bet they too would have jumped on the band wagon of "freedom and democracy" in the Arab world. Spare me, please.
It is amazing how forgiving US government can be toward dictators and warlords. Just a year ago, Walid Jumblat used a racial/racist slur to describe Condoleezza Rice. Next week, he will be accorded a hero's welcome in DC. Let them ask him about the bells of Christian churches that he has kept in his palace in Mukhtarah. Oh, and ask him about his "progressiveness" and "socialism."
"Bush in India: Just Not Welcome" (thanks Ahmed)
On the popular Islamic TV demagogue.
After my talk at UC, Santa Cruz the other night, I met a student of Lebanese descent. And she is an anarchist. She was surprised when I told her that there are anarchists in Lebanon.
The US government is spending a whopping $5 million to support "independent" media in the Middle East. Israel was excluded from this largesse. Somebody has to pay for the expensive An-Nahar building in downtown Beirut.
"The Nightmare" (1782) by Henry Fuseli.
"The Army has decided to reimburse a Halliburton subsidiary all but $9 million of nearly $222 million in costs that Pentagon auditors questioned for oil industry work in Iraq, military officials said Monday. At issue is a $2.4-billion contract awarded without competitive bidding to the subsidiary, KBR, to deliver fuel to Iraqis and repair oil equipment. The 2003 contract came under criticism because of the lack of bidding and because of Halliburton's links to Vice President Dick Cheney, once its chief executive."
Dictatorships US (and Kofi Annan) finds adorable: "The top civil servant in Kazakhstan's Senate, five members of an elite national security unit and two former security officers have confessed to killing a key opposition leader, the Central Asian country's interior minister said Monday. Opposition leaders, however, said they believed responsibility for the slaying of Altynbek Sarsenbayev, his driver and his bodyguard lay higher in the power structure of the oil-rich former Soviet state."
Dictatorships that US finds cute: "The Libyan government is arbitrarily detaining women and girls indefinitely in “social rehabilitation” facilities, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Officially portrayed as protective homes for women and girls “vulnerable to engaging in moral misconduct,” these facilities are de facto prisons....Libyan authorities are holding many women and girls in these facilities who have committed no crime, or who have completed a sentence. Some are there for no reason other than that they were raped, and are now ostracized for staining their families’ “honor.” Officials transferred the majority of these women and girls to these facilities against their will, while those who came voluntarily did so because no genuine shelters for victims of violence exist in Libya."
News from "liberated" Afghanistan: "Taliban attacks on schools create 'lost generation"
"Israel Defense Force has denied local Negev Bedouin from grazing their herds on land located on the edge of its military training grounds. The Agriculture Ministry speculates some 120,00 out of 180,000 sheep raised in the Negev are dependent on these rearing grounds. Their situation has become dire due to this year's disappointing amount of precipitation."
"A New York theatre company has put off plans to stage a play about an American activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza because of the current "political climate" - a decision the play's British director, Alan Rickman, denounced yesterday as "censorship". James Nicola, the artistic director of the New York Theatre Workshop, said it had never formally announced it would be staging the play, My Name is Rachel Corrie, but it had been considering staging it in March."
While Bush continues to make progress in Iraq: "As many as 1,300 people could have died in the wave of sectarian violence that swept Iraq following the bombing of a gold-domed shrine in Samarra, it was reported today."
According to Lebanese MP, Isma`il Sukkariyyah, the Lebanese people spent $88,200,000 on tranquilizers in 2005.
"German Intelligence Gave U.S. Iraqi Defense Plan, Report Says". There are several things about this report. First: you have to remember that the German chancellor Schroder launched his campaign on an anti-war stance. So he had lied to his own people in that regard. Then you read this defense by the German government: "In a report released Thursday, German officials said much of the assistance was restricted to identifying civilian sites so they would not be attacked by mistake." But then you read this: "On Thursday, the German government released a new report that acknowledged that German agents had provided some intelligence but suggested it was very limited. The 90-page report is the public version of a much longer classified account. The public report, for example, stated that the agents provided information on "civilian protected or other humanitarian sites, such as Synagogues and Torah rolls and the possible locations of missing U.S. pilots." Don't you like this definition of "civilian sites" What about the Iraqi population? They were not civilian sites that the German government was keen on protecting? So the Torah rolls were more important to protect than the Iraqi civilian population? And let us not forget the deceptive Arab regimes who say one thing to their own people and do something else: "Egypt and Saudi Arabia, for example, provided more help than they have disclosed. Egypt gave access for refueling planes, while Saudi Arabia allowed American special operations forces to initiate attacks from its territory, United States military officials say."
"The chaos in Darfur, the war-ravaged region in Sudan where more than 200,000 civilians have been killed, has spread across the border into Chad, deepening one of the world's worst refugee crises." (thanks Ema)

Monday, February 27, 2006

The "Cedar Revolution" Marches on. A house where poor Syrian workers live was set on fire yesterday in Lebanon, in the village of `Ali An-Nahri in the Biqa`.
Making Labnah.
The Coming Storm, 1878. George Inness.
The first part of the documentary by my dear friend Bassam Haddad (and his team) will air this Wednesday on Al-Arabiyya TV (Wednesday, March 1, 2006, 19:00 GMT, 14:00 EST, Episode 1 (Terrorism)). (Angry Arab will speak* in Episode II (State Terrorism) on March 8th.) Here is full schedule:
Wednesday, March 1, 2006, 19:00 GMT, 14:00 EST, Episode 1 (Terrorism)
Wednesday, March 8, 2006, 19:00 GMT, 14:00 EST, Episode 2 (State Terrorism)
Thursday, March 9, 2006, 19:00 GMT, 14:00 EST, Episode 3 (Terrorism and Resistance)
Thursday, March 9, 2006, 20:00 GMT, 15:00 EST, Discussion (Possible live interview w/ Director)
*Outtakes of Bassam's interview with me will not be shown in polite company.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I admit that I had underestimated Muqtada As-Sadr. He has proven to be a very shrewd politician, despite (or because of?) his hot temper and lack of scholarly (religious) training.
(Of course, I still think that he holds a fanatical vision for Iraq).
We must come up with a name for what people in TV news in the US do. I know that there is the word "entertainment" but they don't entertain me. They bore me.
I caught a glimpse of an interview on C-Span with a (an apparently very well-known) blogger known as Instapundit. After watching him talk, I never felt as strong an urge to not be a blogger. Ever.
I read that Shaykh Al-Azhar, who threw an ash tray at a journalist two years ago because she dared to ask him a question that he did not like, has offered to go to Iraq. I say, go for it. Please go. I hear that you are really needed there, and Bush has been making progress. Will you be burning books in Iraq too? And maybe you can take Grand (not really) Ayatollah Sistani out on walks. The man has left his house once in 6 years. And you can yell about Danish cartoons while there.
Read this article about USAID in this Lebanese newspaper. Was this written by the Lincoln group?
For those who are experts in the field: I was reading the details of the budget of the American University of Beirut. It spends 2.4% of the budget on PR. Is that more than average?
"Abbas Not 'Relevant,' Israeli Official Says" (I agree. Abbas has not been relevent since the day he was born).
When you read Western newspapers--including the Guardian, you would think that white farmers are the only farmers in Africa.
"'If they destroy our opium crop, how will we feed our family?'"
"The commander of the Israel Defense Forces division along the Gaza border, Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi, was forced to cancel his planned trip to the United Kingdom after the Military Advocacy instructed that he refrain from commencing studies at the Royal College of Defense Studies this summer, fearing that he would be arrested on charges of war crimes." (No worry for him. I am sure that Harvard will come forward with an offer of a professorship in "peace studies.")
Saudi publisher Hashim `Ali Hafidh died today. He founded Al-Madinah newspaper, Arab News, and later founded Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat. He lived in distress: the House of Saudi stole all his newspapers from him.
No on-air personality annoys me more than Al-Arabiyyah's Gizelle Khuri. Not even Larry King (live or taped). She symbolizes all that I despise and detest about Lebanonese popular culture. She is the epitome of artificiality, superficiality, pretension, conceit, and obnoxiousness. It is my problem, I admit. I can't watch her--and sometimes I do want to hear the person being interviewed--without yelling out impolite--but not sexist--Arabic words. I wish that she works for a network that I don't watch. She would be great for the Golf channel. How about the Fishing channel. Or the Gambling or Fabrics channels?
For those who care, I shall speak this evening at UC, Santa Cruz in Namaste Lounge College 9, 5:00-6:30 PM. The talk is titled “The View to the West, from the Middle East”.
The Syrian government arrested three students because they were forming a peaceful group. Also, the Syrian government now plans to compensate large landowners for the land nationalization (or the land reforms) of 1958. Anything to stay in power.
I used to respect Riyad At-Turk. That was years ago.
"Many elderly Belgrade residents in straitened circumstances share a similar fate. But this is the home of Mrs Josip Broz Tito, widow of the former Yugoslavia's communist dictator. Jovanka Broz, 81, was discovered living in penury after her sister, Nada, wrote to newspapers to complain of the "disgraceful way" the former First Lady was "forced to live"...."He was furious with her because she had meddled in politics, rather than remaining an obedient and loving wife," he said."
"Analysts See Lebanon-ization of Iraq in Crystal Ball" (Beware Lebanonese: this is not a compliment)
"Border Plan Seen as U.S. Conceit: Across Latin America, people are dismayed by a bill calling for a 700-mile wall along the frontier with Mexico to stem illegal immigration."
"Thailand has one of the highest rates of female labor force participation in the world. At 65.1 percent, the country ranks well ahead of other Asian nations such as the Philippines (50.2 percent), South Korea (49.9 percent), and Japan (48.2 percent). The female labor force participation rate for the United States is 59 percent, placing the country ahead of Mexico (40.3 percent), but behind Canada (62.1 percent)."
"Women, scientists on wish lists for Harvard"
"أحدهم يدعو الدولة العظمى إلى مهاجمة دولة شقيقة، سوريا، لمجرد انه قرر مناصبتها العداء بعد سنوات طوال من الاستزلام لها ومشاركة أجهزتها في لبنان مغانم السلطة المسلوبة. وأمثاله يريدون من الناس أن تنسى ما كانوا يقولون في تمجيد سوريا ومغازلتها والتملق إليها إبان حقبة عربدات الأجهزة في لبنان.
يتجرأ أحدهم على تحذير بني قومه من أن <<البحر>>، جاعلاً سوريا في موقع العدو وموحياً أن إسرائيل ليست عدواً. ولا شأن له بما جاء في اتفاق الطائف من تكريس لعروبة لبنان انتماءً وهوية. كيف تستقيم عروبة لبنان باستعداء دولة عربية تحيط بثمانين في المئة من حدوده البرية؟"
A Middle East news agency reported that Mehlis' successor was surprised to find lack of evidence in the files, and that he expected a period of years before the "truth" is found.
"Working-class Americans often have fewer resources and experience greater uncertainty and insecurity. For them, being free is less about making choices that reflect their uniqueness and mastery and more about being left alone, with their personality, integrity and well-being intact."
Taliban at Yale: "U.S. officials had O.K. relations with the Taliban at that time"
The Boat in the Storm, after 1896. Henri Rousseau.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

American Left and the Middle East: the Nation Magazine (again and again and again). I don't have to time to do a word-by-word critique. But this interview with Amos Oz is quite revealing of the motives and stance of the Nation magazine on the Middle East. Worse than Amos Oz's answers are the questions of Jon Wiener. Notice that an Israeli has to comment on Palestinian elections. When was the last time the Nation interviewed a Palestinian on Israeli elections? Hell, when was the last time the Nation magazine interviewed a Palestinian on Palestinian elections? And notice how frequently Wiener invoked the word "fanaticism" and "fanatic" about the Palestinians. But then again. The Nation magazine thinks that if they call the Palestinians "fanatics" it is better than calling them terrorists. It is time that people who care about Palestinian rights and justice realize that the Nation magazine is not a friend of the Palestinian (or Arab) people.
Full text.
The puppet government of Karzai is putting communist oppressors--not Taliban oppressors/fanatics--on trial.
I can't believe I am citing George Will: "Less Freedom, Less Speech"
Arab leaders and Bush: they tremble at his feet. Yemeni President `Ali `Abdullah Salih was interviewed in Al-Hayat. He was asked:
"In the opinion of your Excellency, did the Americans err in Iraq?
Salih: It is possible to pose this question to president (George) Bush, whether he erred or did right. President Bush is the one who can answer such a question."
I read this interview with Isma`il Haniyyah and thought for a second that I was reading an interview with `Arafat.
"Indeed, the disastrous policies of the United States and Pakistan, starting with the aftermath of the war in 2001, have only hastened the radicalization of northwest Pakistan and made it more hospitable to bin Laden and his Taliban allies. The region has become a haven for bin Laden and a base for Taliban raids across the border back into Afghanistan which they had fled....Almost everything the administration claims about the al Qaeda leader is tinged with bravado and untruthfulness."
News from "liberated" Iraq: "Shiite Militias Roam Free Despite Curfew, Occupy Sunni Mosques"
"As torture in Iraq was being exposed, Rumsfeld grovelled before Saddam: ...Last week's visit to Beirut by one of the blindest of George Bush's bats - his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice - was indicative of the cruelty that now pervades Washington. She brazenly talked about the burgeoning "democracies" of the Middle East while utterly ignoring the bloodbaths in Iraq and the growing sectarian tensions of Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Perhaps the key to her indifference can be found in her evidence to the Senate Committee on International Affairs where she denounced Iran as "the greatest strategic challenge" facing the US in the region, because Iran uses policies that "contradict the nature of the kind of Middle East sought by the United States"."
News from "liberated" Iraq: "Hundreds of Iraqis are being tortured to death or summarily executed each month by death squads attached to the Interior Ministry in Baghdad, the UN's former human rights chief in Iraq has told The Independent on Sunday."
"Surprisingly, after Paradise Now won a Golden Globe in January, Abu-Assad took to the stage to generous applause, with no reticence or even booing. That can perhaps be attributed to the fact that the Golden Globes comprises non-US press. Come Oscar night, Abu-Assad may find a Hollywood audience less enthusiastic."
The "Rich and Famous" segment on LBC-TV today aired a segment on Wajdi Mu`awwad. Wajdi who? you are saying, as I did. Well, we were told that he "won" the "best director" award in Canada and that one of his plays was performed "in every part of the world." Is somebody collecting those fabrications for a hilarious DVD or book on the Fibs and Lies of the Hummus (imaginary) Homeland?
I saw Sunni and Shi`ite clerics shaking hands and kissing in Iraq. In Lebanon, Christian and Muslim clerics usually shake hands and kiss just prior to sectarian warfare.
An eye witnessed told me that the cheesy Hariri tomb in Beirut (a monument to vulgarity and bad taste really) has a counter. Can somebody in Beirut send me a picture of the counter? thanks.
"Princeton Tilts Right" (thanks Laleh)
"The attacks, mostly by Shiite militiamen, were troubling not only because they resulted in at least 170 deaths across Iraq, but also because they showed how deeply the militias have spread inside government forces. The Iraqi police, commanded by a Shiite political party, stood by as the rampage spread."
"An Afghan Prison Expands, Filling Guantánamo's Role"
A Storm in the Rocky Mountains - Mount Rosalie, 1866. Albert Bierstadt.
"Is this some kind of designer's democracy then, Dr. Rice?" "In Saudi Arabia, a female journalist, dressed head to toe in a black abaya , demanded: "How is it possible to harmonize the U.S. position as a nation supporting freedom of expression and the right of people to practice democracy with your effort to curb the will of Hamas?"Egyptian Television's Mervat Mohsen also rattled off a series of tough questions. "American calls for democracy have unwittingly brought unprecedented support for the Muslim Brotherhood, but you're not happy with the Muslim Brotherhood in power," he said. "Is this some kind of designer's democracy then, Dr. Rice?"
Democracy My Potato. "Push for Democracy Loses Some Energy: On Mideast Tour, Rice Focuses On Hamas"
But Bush is making "progress": "The number of Iraqi army battalions judged capable of fighting the insurgency without U.S. help has slipped from one to zero since September, Pentagon officials said Friday."
While attack on people go on unnoticed, "Attack on Saudi Oil is Ominous"
Divide and Rule: "Leaders of the Christian community in the Galilee village of Maghar are threatening to boycott the upcoming general elections following a decision to separate Druze and Christian polling stations in the village."
"Ten minutes later, Nixon says to Haig: "Hell, what do we care about Lebanon." "Nixon: "Who are they going to hit though?"
Haig: "Lebanon, though they will find out where based [sic]."
Nixon: "They are capable of it. They have got to hit somebody, don't you think?" (And notice that nobody notices the anti-Semitism of Henry Kissinger in those taped conversations).
"Shell told to pay Nigerians $1.5bn pollution damages"
Lebanese MP Usamah Sa`d accused Hariri Inc of sponsoring a (particularly thuggish) militia in Ta'mir near Sidon.
A Palestinian baby.
"Cedar Revolution" Continues. A tent where poor Syrian workers live near Nahr Al-Barid in Lebanon was set on fire yesterday.
Joseph Samahah, my favorite columnist, writes about the Lebanese ruling coalition.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Lebanonization of the world. Finally, somebody pointing out the lies of LBC-TV when they--among other instances--made a non-Lebanese a Lebanese just because he is "rich and famous." Here, Lebanese journalist Samir `Atallah writes about Elia Kazan.
Just watch. Do I really need to comment?
Atwar Bahjat was killed yesterday in Samarra'. She was for years a correspondent for Aljazeera before defecting recently to AlArabiyya. I did not know her but very much liked her reporting and her excellent command of the Arabic language. She was a poet, and it showed in her use of language.
This Iraqi is reacting to his "liberation" by Bush.
"Liberated" by the Bush Doctrine in Iraq.
Thunder Storm on Narragansett Bay, 1868. Martin Johnson Heade.
"FBI officials who were interrogating terrorism suspects at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002 and 2003 strenuously objected to aggressive techniques the military was using and believed they could be illegal, according to FBI memos released yesterday."
"The popular response to Iraq's latest atrocities has been to blame the occupation, not rival sects"
"Hours after a commercial plane struck the Pentagon on September 11 2001 the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was issuing rapid orders to his aides to look for evidence of Iraqi involvement, according to notes taken by one of them. "Hard to get good case. Need to move swiftly," the notes say. "Near term target needs - go massive - sweep it all up, things related and not." The handwritten notes, with some parts blanked out, were declassified this month in response to a request by a law student and blogger, Thad Anderson, under the US Freedom of Information Act. Anderson has posted them on his blog at outragedmoderates.org."
"Paul Avrich, a historian of the anarchist movement that played a role in the Russian Revolution and flourished in America in the 19th and early 20th centuries, died on Feb. 16 at Mount Sinai Hospital. He was 74 and lived in Manhattan....The subjects of his books included the Kronstadt naval base rebellion of 1921, an uprising of sailors against the Bolshevik regime that left more than 10,000 dead or wounded; the Haymarket Riot of 1886, in which seven Chicago police officers were killed by a bomb thrown at a workers' gathering; and the Sacco and Vanzetti case. He interviewed hundreds of adherents of the movement for one book, "Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America.""
I was most sad to wake up to the news of Avrich's death. I first discovered Avrich while an undergraduate student at the American University of Beirut. I was at the time going through my disillusionment with Marxism-Leninism and developed an obsession with the Kronstadt Rebellion. At the time, I was going to specialize in Soviet studies (which remained my minor even in graduate school here in the US). I was collecting every bit of information that I could find on the rebellion. I wrote a letter to Abrich, and received a very kind response and he showed interest and expressed encouragement. I wanted to write my MA thesis on Kronstadt. My interests continued, but my advisor at the time (Rashid Khalidi) explained that we did not have the resources at the university (in terms of Russian language training) for me to earn a MA in Soviet Studies, and that I needed Russian for the research. Hanna Batatu (who was on sabbatical in the US at the time) agreed in a letter (Batatu had studied Russian in the US). I will today (or tomorrow) reread Avrich's book on Kronstadt.
Shot by Israeli occupation soldiers. US media don't even notice that Israeli occupation troops have not stopped their killing of Palestinians.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I never thought that I would cite David Brooks. This from the conservative NYT columnist: "Nor is Dubai a bastion of Taliban radicalism. All Arabs may look alike to certain blowhard senators, but the United Arab Emirates is a modernizing, globalizing place. It was the first country in the region to sign the U.S. Container Security Initiative. It's signed agreements to bar the passage of nuclear material and to suppress terror financing. U.A.E. ports service U.S. military ships, and U.A.E. firms have made major investments in Chrysler and Time Warner, somehow without turning them into fundamentalist bastions. In short, there is no evidence this deal will do any harm. But it is certain that the xenophobic hysteria will come back to harm the U.S."
Do you know that in this Lebanese parliament there are members of the Lebanese Forces who actually (reportedly) killed with their own hands. I am talking about Farid Habib and Antoine Zahra for example.
"Army officials have recommended a court-martial for a Purple Heart recipient accused of stabbing his young wife 71 times with knives and a meat cleaver."
"Even the leader of Iraq's main Shiite political alliance said he thought Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador to Iraq, bore some responsibility. The Shiite leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, said Mr. Khalilzad's veiled threat on Monday to withdraw American support if Iraqis could not form a nonsectarian government helped provoke the bombing. "This declaration gave a green light for these groups to do their operation, so he is responsible for a part of that," Mr. Hakim said at a news conference."
"The longest sentence for any member of the American military linked to a torture-related death of a detainee in Iraq or Afghanistan has been five months, a human rights group reported Wednesday. In only 12 of 34 cases has anyone been punished for the confirmed or suspected killings..."
Approaching Storm, Beach Near Newport, c. 1866-67. Martin Johnson Heade.
The US and French ambassadors in Lebanon are interfering in Lebanese internal matters to such a degree that the French ambassador now insists on keeping his visits to Lebanese politicians and officials secret. The other day, he canceled a meeting with Gen. `Awn because the latter informed the press of the meeting.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the Pentagon was reviewing its practice of paying to plant stories in the Iraqi news media, withdrawing his earlier claim that it had been stopped. Rumsfeld said he was mistaken in the earlier assertion. "I don't have knowledge as to whether it's been stopped. I do have knowledge it was put under review. I was correctly informed. And I just misstated the facts," he said at the Pentagon. Rumsfeld said Friday that the controversial practice had been stopped. The Times reported Saturday that, despite Rumsfeld's claim, the program had continued."
Did the Bush Doctrine reach Nigeria? "Nigerian religious violence kills 96"
From Heroin Addicts for Bush's Wars: "British Army helpless as Afghan drug crop doubles"
"A new group in the United States, Christians United for Israel, will serve as an umbrella organization for Christian congregations that support Israel, and will lobby for Israel."
"A cloud hovered over Israeli-Jordanian relations Wednesday after a senior Israel Defense Forces commander expressed uncertainty regarding the future of Hashemite rule in Jordan."
Fruits of the Bush Doctrine: ""Democracy," said Joseph Samaha, a Beirut columnist, is not "an alternative to patriotism. It is one of its tools. The mound of western theories and sleights of hand will collapse. The mound quivered in Iraq, and Palestine turned it into ruins. Give us democracy and take resistance." Or, as Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister-designate, put it, "We will go for arms and a parliament, for there's no contradiction between the two.""
"Nato will be in Afghanistan for years, says military chief"
So how does the new "liberated" Iraq look like? "Iraq slips towards civil war after attack on Shia shrine"
This is the actual Bush Doctrine. Bush put those "Grand" Ayatollahs (from right to left, Bashir An-Najafi, Muhammad Sa`id Al-Hakim, `Ali As-Sistani, and Ishaq Fayyad) in power in Iraq. As Iraqis chanted right after the US invasion of Iraq: "Neither Bush, nor Saddam" (and I add: nor the Ayatollahs).
What is interesting, and what most likely will not appear in your local US press, is the statement by `Abdul-`Aziz Al-Hakim. This ally of the US blamed the recent statement by the US ambassador in Iraq for the instigation of sectarian conflict, and even for "giving the [green] light for terrorist groups."
Thus Spoke Karen Hughes: "I've reached out extensively to our Muslim-American community, because I believe they are a very important bridge. We send them around the world, they have a lot more credibility to debate issues of faith than I do as a Christian woman." (thanks Amina)
SPIEGEL: Your government is spending another $75 million to support Iranian opposition groups and radio channels. In the old days of the Cold War that was called propaganda, what do you call it today?
Hughes: It is an effort to communicate with the people of Iran directly..."
This new Lebanese group is dedicated to opposing US hegemony in Lebanon. (thanks Fadi)
Hummus keeps hitting the fan in Lebanon: during a football game in Beirut between a Lebanese and Kuwaiti team, sectarian insults were exchanged, and cars were vandalized.
"عوكر تحكم لبنان بالسياسة والامن. ومن لم يصدق هذه الحقيقة، كان عليه ان يتابع الاتصالات التي كان يجريها السفير الاميركي في بيروت جيفري فيلتمان وفريقه، امس، مع قوى الاكثرية، حول ادق تفاصيل الاجراءات الامنية في بيروت."
Translation: `Awkar [site of the US embassy in Lebanon] rules Lebanon in politics and security. Whoever does not believe this truth, had to follow the meetings that were held by the US ambassador in Beirut, Jeffrey Feltman and his team yesterday with the forces of the majority, over the most minute security procedures in Beirut."
Palestinians: mourning another victim of Israeli occupation shootings.
"وسئل الصدر، الذي اضطر إلى قطع زيارته للبنان بعد تفجير المقام، عن دوره في تشكيل الحكومة العراقية المقبلة. لم يخف غيظه من السؤال، ورد بالعامية العراقية، <<هلق وقت الحكومة، طز بهيك حكومة>>."
"The Ambassador Versus the Ayatollah: Khalilzad to Iraq: No Shiite Control of Interior, Defense: Sistani Contradicts Him"
Full text: "Detainee Deaths in U.S. Custody in Iraq and Afghanistan"
"TV 8 News has learned the FBI and local law enforcement authorities are conducting a statewide raid of service stations and businesses owned by Middle Easterners."
For those who care, I shall speak this evening (5:00PM Pacific Time) on Flashpoint. You may listen live. And I shall speak tomorrow morning (at 7:00AM Pacific Time) on the Morning Show.
Blue Morpho Butterfly, c. 1864-65. Martin Johnson Heade.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

"Rafic Hariri était d'un calibrage conforme aux spécifications de ses mentors, son parrain saoudien et le protecteur américain de la pétromonarchie." (thanks Karim)
This article was printed in the Harvard Crimson in 1888. It sounds like Thomas Friedman in 2006. I was even expecting the word madraaaasaaaaaah to be used: " The Koran, nevertheless, has a firm hold on millions of souls. Islam. although politically dead, is religiously alive. From Gibraltar to China, the religion of Mohammed is that of the masses. It spreads rapidly in Africa, not through the preaching of isolated missionaries, but by the influence of the Arab colonies scattered throughout the continent. The only possibility of progress rests on the diffusion of education. The influence of Christian colonies may become more effective, and stimulate a desire for something better. Islam, however, best snits the national character. The people must have some religion, but no other form is likely to be adopted. A purification of Islam from within is the only hope."
From the Archives of the Harvard Crimson: "Before I went to Palestine last year, I was a confirmed Zionist..."
"Arab-Americans contended on Tuesday that bias and bigotry, not security concerns, lay behind the uproar over a deal that would place commercial operations at six U.S. ports in the hands of an Arab company."
"An award-winning film director who reconstructed scenes of torture and abuse at Guantanamo Bay has called for the immediate closure of the US-run camp."
"The sanitised images of war broadcast on television are a "lethal weapon ""
This is a Zionist account of the event in Toronto last week. The writer partly reported things I had said, and partly made other things up, and partly ignored other things that I said. "Fair and balanced" reporting.
Prestigious...Corruption. "Chief among them was to be a motion to censure Mr. Summers for his role in what has become known as the "Shleifer affair," the professor said. Andrei Shleifer, a prominent Harvard economist and personal friend of Mr. Summers, was a defendant in a lawsuit alleging that he and a former staff member had defrauded the U.S. government through a program intended to help Russia make the transition to a market economy. Harvard defended Mr. Shleifer throughout the litigation and last August agreed to settle the case by paying a $26.5-million penalty. Mr. Shleifer has never been disciplined by Harvard, and in fact was awarded a new chair during the litigation, said the professor who spoke to The Chronicle. As a result, Mr. Shleifer's relationship with Mr. Summers has drawn increasing criticism. The professor said the combination of the penalty and legal fees had cost Harvard $44-million."
Rubble of a house destroyed by Israeli occupation forces.
This Palestinian member of parliament is facing Israeli occupation soldiers.
Rice in Cairo. So Condoleeza Rice was in Egypt. She said--she really said--that the Egyptian dictatorship can lead the region toward democracy. This from the same person who rejected the democratic choice of the Palestinian people. I bet she will also reject the free and democratic choice of the Egyptian people. Keep it up: you may get what you say you want in the "Greater Middle East".
When Hummus Hits the Fan: A group of Lebanese Forces armed men shot at a car carrying people near Al-Kurah. One was injured.
"The planning agency which designed Milton Keynes has been handed the job of reshaping a city which is no stranger to adversity: Najaf, in Iraq." (thanks Nicola)
My Message to Human Rights Watch: have you been noticing human rights violations under the new government in Lebanon? Or do you play by the book of Bush's Human Rights Standards? I say so because I remember that you saluted and lauded right-wing lawyer, Muhammad Mughrabi, during the era of Syrian domination. Do you want names of people who are bravely resisting the oppression of the rule of Hariri Inc? Let me know. Do you know how Syrians and Palestinians are being treated in Lebanon these days? Is this worth a press release? At least Amnesty International issued one brief statement.
Due to fears of Avian flu, the Cairo (Jizah really) Zoo was closed for the first time in its history (it was founded in late 19th century). This has special meaning for me. This was the first zoo I ever visited as a child. And I liked it a great deal especially as we were allowed very close interactions with animals in those days. Back then (the good old days), we could feed stew and rice, or any other food of choice, to any animal in the zoo. It was total free range (for me, not for the animals).
Entertainment in Saudi Arabia. Yes, there is little entertainment in Saudi Arabia: no music, no movie theatres or plays, and no dancing. But the royal Sauds can dance.

Brazilian Forest, 1864. Martin Johnson Heade.
Ode to the Eggplant. (thanks Laleh)

Monday, February 20, 2006

"Are We Safer?"
"U.S. Counterinsurgency Academy Giving Officers a New Mind-Set: Course in Iraq Stresses the Cultural, Challenges the Conventional"
French intellectuals can't feel arrogant about this French "intellectual": "But from the get-go, Lévy seems to go out of his way to seek out the very worst aspects of American culture. He visits myriad strip clubs, megachurches using marketing techniques to target a maximum number of "customers - sorry - potential faithful," a San Francisco sex club, a death-row prison, a Las Vegas brothel, a Texas gunshow where Nazi paraphernalia is being sold, and, of course, the country's largest mall in Minnesota."
Her father (left) and her brother (right) was killed by Israeli occupation forces.
"Report: Pentagon ignored repeated warnings on torture and abuse: Navy's former general counsel warned Defense Department that ignoring international agreements would invite abuse."
His patrons would not approve: "Egyptian authorities turned down a request from Hamas to meet with President Hosni Mubarak, following a request last month by a visiting Hamas delegation after the victory in the Palestinian legislative election."
That is what we needed. Egyptian singer, Sha`ban `Abdur-Rahim, whose singing career has been sinking, produced a song against Danish cartoons.
David Irving: does not need sympathy. (even if one supports no restrictions on freedom of speech). I had made a statement about Nazi "historian" David Irving a while back. A reader (sympathetic to Irving?) wrote that I am following the conventional wisdom about Irving. I never follow conventional wisdom or crowds on any matter, especially the evaluation of books. I in fact read most (if not all) of David Irving's books (from Hitler's War to the Destruction of Dresden to his biographies of Goring and of Goebbels) and reached a firm conclusion that he is a Nazi anti-Semite. You can clearly see that in his biography of Geobbels. And Irving is dangerous: because his books are full of documentation and primary sources and you have to dig deeper to realize that he clearly selects those facts that are in favor of his thesis and ignores those facts that are contrary to his Nazi agenda, especially his claim of Hitler's "innocence" as far as the Holocaust is concerned. (Read here the book Denying the Holocaust by D. Lipstadt). And his speeches and interviews outside of his books only implicates him further. Why am I writing this? Because looking at Arabic newspapers and watching Arab news, I am rather disturbed by the coverage of the verdict on Irving. It is not blatantly sympathetic to Irving, but he is portrayed as a victim of some pro-Israeli forces. I am also disturbed to read this: "An Observer investigation in 2002 found that Irving was backed by an international network of supporters, including a Saudi prince and a former Nazi U-boat commander." The Palestinian cause is too precious to allow Nazi anti-Semites to infiltrate our ranks. They should be rejected from the pro-Palestinian movement. And not every target of ADL should be seen as a friend of the Palestinian cause. Good night.
Saudi Propaganda Services: Pleasing Bush. So as Saudi Arabia and Arab governments instigated and inflamed Arab/Muslims passions about the Danish cartoons because Denmark (which gives the highest percentage of foreign aid per capita) is an easy target, new Bush orders were issued to these governments. The Bush administration ordered Arab governments to cool it. So Saudi Arabia was quick to comply. So the Saudi newspapers lied: they printed the one statement by the Danish newspaper and falsely claimed that this was offered as a "second apology." Even the Danish newspaper has pointed out the lie.
"The toll in human lives is a heavy one: more than 100,000 Iraqis killed according to a 2004 study by Lancet, the British medical journal. Other sources place the toll higher, at 250,000. However, more conservative estimates are provided by Iraqbodycount.org, an independent London-based non-profit volunteer organization. They offer two sets of numbers: a high of 32,041 and a low of 28,427. Either way, it's a lot of bodies. And the Pentagon's tally of killed U.S. military personnel, as of Feb. 17, stands at 2,275 and 16,742 wounded. That's an average of 2.07 Americans killed and 15 wounded every day since the start of the war three years ago....Poverty, they say, has risen by 20 percent. They cite a United Nations report indicating that childhood malnutrition has doubled. They quote a Minority Rights Group International report citing "Iraq as the country where minority rights are most under threat." Frequent conversations with members of the Assyrian Christian community in Iraq confirm that minorities, such as the Assyrians and Turkmen, are being harassed and discriminated against. As in all countries where violence persists, the brain drain of professionals emigrating in large numbers impacts the future of the nation..."The U.S. sponsored National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism counted 3,991 global terrorist attacks in 2005, up 51 percent from 2,639 in 2004," states the report, which goes on to say: "Ironically, a war intended to produce freedom has, according to Amnesty International, lead to an increase in worldwide human rights violations. Tyrants can legitimately argue that since the United States waged pre-emptive war, so can they.""
"Cedar Revolution" marches on. Four tents where poor Syrian workers live in the Biqa` were set on fire yesterday.
"US holds secret talks to weaken Hamas" (thanks Joseph)
The new (old) Lebanon (or Altneuland). During the previous government, An-Nahar and other Lebanonese newspapers highlighted and publicized Amnesty International reports dealing with oppression in Lebanon. Under this current Hariri Inc government, the recent Amnesty International report about torture in Lebanese jails, and arbitrary arrests, was either ignored or marginalized.
Lebanonese Racism. Maronite Patriarch (who gets inexplicable respect in the Tabbulah homeland), Nasrullah Sfayr, gave an interview to As-Safir newspaper. He was warning about the deterioration of security conditions, and then said: "and then we become like any African country, and this we don't want for Lebanon." I want the patriarch to reveal to us the history of secret agreements between the patriarchate and the Zionist movement.
Approaching Thunderstorm, 1859. Martin Johnson Heade.
Finkelstein replies to MEJ (thanks Norman)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

"Number of U.S. prisoners serving life sentences with no parole for crimes they committed while juveniles: 2,225[Human Rights Watch (N.Y.C.)]
Number of prisoners serving such sentences in all other countries worldwide: 12"
Notice that anti-Islam bigots always use Saudi Arabia as "the standard of Islam." It makes their job easier: "In Saudi Arabia, you can get arrested for wearing a cross or having a Bible in your suitcase, while Muslims in secular Denmark can have their own mosques, cemeteries, schools, TV and radio stations."
"The troops were members of a [US] counterterrorism force headquartered in Djibouti."
"Toppling Musharraf: Heat rises on Pakistani leader: His critics call him a Western poodle, the cartoons have fanned the flames, and now Bush is coming to town."
I watched the interview with Muqtada As-Sadr on AlJazeera. He was quite confused when the interviewer asked him about the intellectual origins of his movement. Maybe he just did not understand. It is all religion, he kept saying. He clearly holds a very fanatical vision of the future, where religion will be imposed on all facets of society.
I met a man in Toronto who went to graduate school with Thomas Friedman. He told me stories about Friedman at Oxford. But he does not want to be quoted.
Bush's Book Club: "Over the years, a number of writers have visited President Bush, including Natan Sharansky, Bernard Lewis and John Lewis Gaddis."
Colonial Ironies: when Arafat was in charge, EU and US insisted that political decision making powers in the PA should reside with the prime minister. Now that Hamas has won, EU and US insist that decision making powers reside with Abu Mazen.
My advise to graduate students has been consistent. The task in graduate school is not to learn; but to unlearn.
Who are they? An-Nahar's Syrians. There is a group of Syrian writers who make their living by parroting the dogmas of An-Nahar in An-Nahar (and Hariri rag Al-Mustaqbal), and reinforcing the racism and chauvinism of the newspaper against Syrians and Palestinians. Syrian writer Nazih Abu `Afsh once wrote about them in Al-Adab. They are not even good writers. And it is ironic that this newspaper, An-Nahar, which has an unsavory record against ALL Palestinians and ALL Syrians, and which is responsible for the racist anti-Syrian agitations (and its deadly consequences) in Lebanon, is now suddenly eager to publish Syrian voices.
Ziyad Ar-Rahbani is back: here is the text of what he said on Sawt Ash-Sha`b radio yesterday.
"Still, President Bush has requested a 13% spending increase for Al Hurra. Yet, according to a recent Zogby poll, only 1% of Arab viewers watch it as their first choice. Al Hurra claims 21.3 million viewers, but it will not publish the Nielsen survey that supposedly supports this figure. The station is rightly regarded by most Arabs as a mouthpiece for the Bush administration." (thanks Amer)
Distasteful Lebanese politics: Christian allies of Syria (like Sulyaman Franjiyyah, Emile Lahhud, and Charles Ayyub of Ad-Diyar) have resorted to narrow sectarian Christian agitation. They are hoping that this dirty card will save them.
Today I read that the Mufti of the Islamic University of Al-Azhar has requested that the Danish government (no less) apologizes for the cartoons. Equally, Grand (not really) Ayatollah Sistani has issued a stern statement against the cartoons. I did not know that the two dudes even look at cartoons. I wonder if they like the Family Guy. But those two represent the corruption of Islamic religious leadership, which leads to the rise of militant fanatics within the faith. Those two seem more opposed to "offensive" cartoons than to foreign occupation or to poverty or to oppression by the governments that they serve. I wish that they just would take a vow of silence--did Sistani not take a vow of silence while living under Saddam's tyranny and he refused to say a word against him, while other clerics died fighting him? And the Mufti of Al-Azhar had lost it a while back. He threw an ash tray at an Egyptian journalist because she dared to ask him a question that he did not like.
"Shelving of Panel on Mideast Roils School" (thanks Bram)
If somebody goes to this gallery, please send me a picture of Coignet's A View from Albano. Send it NOW.
I wonder if Hizbullah now feels dumb and foolish for striking an electoral alliance with Jumblat and Hariri in the last election. It should.
View of Albano, near Rome. c. 1835-37. Mikhail Lebedev.
Muqtada As-Sadr's Excellent Adventure. I have been following the Arab tour of Muqtada As-Sadr. He is proving that he may be just another Islamic cleric for hire in the region. After visiting Saudi Arabia and praising its king, As-Sadr is now visiting Jordan and he also praised the king. As-Sadr will also praise your king, if you just invite him to your country.
Propaganda of the NYTimes: you see this headline in the New York Times: "Billions Asked for Afghans and Iraqis." And then you read the text: "The Bush administration sent a request to Congress on Thursday for $72.4 billion in additional funds for the current fiscal year, largely to pay for military operations and reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan."
?! "Four out of 10 British Muslims want sharia law introduced into parts of the country, a survey reveals today."
"An American Salute to 'Egypt's Verdi'"
Now the Yale Daily News wants to "reform Islam." That is what we need. No news on whether the Yale Daily News plans to reform Judaism and Christianity. (thanks Nader)
News from "liberated" Afghanistan: "Taliban's rocket man now an MP"
Hummus will hit the fan. Lebanese Forces Militia: I just arrived from Canada to receive a message from a reliable source in Lebanon that the Hariri government has issued 4,000 gun permits to the Lebanese Forces. Use your imaginations.
"37 million poor hidden in the land of plenty: Americans have always believed that hard work will bring rewards, but vast numbers now cannot meet their bills even with two or three jobs. More than one in 10 citizens live below the poverty line, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening"

Saturday, February 18, 2006

But Alan Dershowitz wants you to know that Israel (in name) does not have the death penalty: "And what about Committee X, the famous ministerial body that was informed about each proposed liquidation and acted as a kind of special court for executions?
"Who said there was a Committee X?"" (And notice how Israeli state killing is always given "nice" names: liquidation, targeted killing, neutralization, etc). A blot unto the nations.
"What nonsense. Editors at mainstream American media outlets delete lots of words, sentences and images to avoid offending interest groups, especially ethnic and religious ones. It's hard to cite examples since, by definition, they don't appear. But use your imagination." (thanks Rania)
This is one of the most beautiful places that you will see.
Do you notice that governments that are aligned with the US are permitted to shoot their own people? I mean, I know that Annan is busy looking for the killers of Hariri, but come on.
"More than 100 inmates at a Los Angeles County jail were ordered to strip naked, had their mattresses taken away and were left with only blankets to cover themselves for a day as Los Angeles Sheriff's Department officials tried to quell racially charged violence that has plagued the jail system for nearly two weeks."
"The impoverished people of Somalia are being forced to surviv e on three containers of water a day for drinking, cooking and washing, Oxfam has said."
"Dozens of Western multinationals have made millions of pounds in profits from exploiting African bio-resources taken from some of the poorest nations on earth, with not a penny offered in return."
"Inside North Korea's gulag"

Friday, February 17, 2006

An Israeli occupation soldier showing his courage against a defenseless Palestinian child.
The star of the Lebanese ruling coalition. Walid Jumblat: "whatever comes from Saudi Arabia is good for Lebanon."
This is Zionism.
"Amnesty International is concerned by reports that some individuals detained in the wake of violent protests outside the Danish Embassy in Beirut on 5 February were assaulted in detention by Lebanese security forces and that others were denied access to legal counsel and may be tried before military courts....Those detained included some 42 Syrian nationals who, according to information received by Amnesty International, were arrested by Lebanese police at an apartment building in Tariq Jdeide, four kilometres away from the Danish Embassy, some of them while the protests were still in progress. They were arrested, apparently, after another Syrian who resides at the same building, was arrested at the demonstration."
"A plurality of Arabs believe that the clergy plays "too little" a role in Arab politics."
The actual Bush Doctrine: "U.S. and Iraqi authorities discovered an apparent death squad operating within the country's Interior Ministry last month when Iraqi troops prevented a group of highway patrol officers from killing a Sunni Arab man the officers had arrested, an American military spokesman said Thursday."
"They 'forgot' one million people: One morning the heads of Kadima woke up and discovered that they were missing an Arab. That morning, incidentally, came a few days after they had presented their list of 50 candidates at a very impressive ceremony in Jerusalem. "Whoops, we goofed," they said among themselves, and confabulated to find a solution. Quickly they phoned the mayor of Al-Shagur, Ahmed Dabbah, and immediately slotted him into the 51st place on the list."
"The graffiti, written in Hebrew, said "Mohammed is a pig" and "Death to the Muslims." Residents of the village of Nebi Elias, where the mosque is located, have accused area settlers of the vandalism."
"Occupation Hazard."
Dalai Lama: in Palestine. That is what I needed. Dalai Lama taking time from his busy life of meeting with Hollywood celebrities in order to visit Israel. He even made some suggestions on how to best deal with Hamas. Dalai Lama: when did he ever take a courageous stance on anything, outside of hanging out with Richard Gere. Dalai Lama only proves what Robespierre had said about the clergy. And the Dalai Lama seems bothered by Palestinian actions, this from somebody who never uttered a word against Israeli occupation or killing of Palestinians. Dalai Lama: you remind me of Jimmy Carter. You are both boring and insignificant, and yet you both arrogantly think that you are doing something for the word. You are not. If anything, you have done only bad things to the word, your declarations to the contrary notwithstanding. Just go away, Dalai Lama. Go spend time with Jimmy Carter on his farm. Just go and hang out with celebrities and spare us you vapid pontification. (thanks Mouin)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

"Judge's anger at US torture"
From the Economist: "AHMED HASHIM is well-placed to study the Iraqi insurgents and their opponents. An American of Turkish-Egyptian origin, he is a professor at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, and was an adviser to the American authorities following Saddam Hussein's fall, both in Baghdad and in hotbeds of violence such as Tel Afar, near the Syrian border. After many delays, his bleak appraisal comes out next month...Of the 600-800 Americans who ran Iraq for the first year of occupation, only 17 could speak Arabic, while the briefings he was given by Americans in authority were “amateurish, pathetic, shoddy and heavily politicised”." (Ahmed had told me that he was marginalized and excluded by the neo-cons around Bremer)
The Actual Bush Doctrine: "Radical Cleric Rising as a Kingmaker in Iraqi Politics"
"Blogging has become the new forum for international scholars to discuss issues. While comparing notes with University of Oklahoma professor Joshua Landis and University of Michigan professor Juan Cole, blogger As’ad AbuKhalil noted that they all spend way more time blogging than they are comfortable with admitting."
Karen Hughes: "The voices of Muslim Americans have more credibility in the Muslim world frankly than my voice as a government official."
"Questions and Answers on the Danish Cartoons" (thanks Ema)
"Not knowing the language."
Errors of the Times. The New York Times published this picture today with this caption: "A Baghdad billboard showed Moktada al-Sadr, who has pushed through his choice for Iraq's next prime minister, pictured between the clerics Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, his late father, right, and Abdel Aziz al-Hakim." Four NYT correspondents contributed to the article that accompanied the picture, and none noticed the error. And the NYT has the largest bureau in Baghdad, and it did not catch the error. This is your "prestigious" newspaper. (Of course, the person to the left is not `Abdul-`Aziz Al-Hakim but Muhammad Baqir As-Sadr).

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

...off to Toronto. I shall return Saturday night. I will give a talk this Friday, February 17th at the Center for Near and Middle East Civilizations (4 Bankroft Ave., room 200, University of Toronto) at 2:00PM, titled "Iraq Today: Regional and International Politics of Religion." I will also speak Friday evening at 7:00PM as part of the Israel Apartheid Week in the Earth Sciences Centre (33 Willcocks Street- South of Bloor off of Spadina), Rm.1050.
Hummus hit the fan: "Politicians and journalists are killed in broad daylight, with apparent impunity. The government seems to be run by ghosts — leaders who have not fled the country are afraid to leave their fortified mansions. Ordinary people plaster their cars and homes with pictures of aging civil war militia leaders and swap pessimistic talk about the economy and foreign interference."
"The government of oil-rich Kazakhstan has been accused of operating death squads after a prominent opposition politician was found murdered with his driver and bodyguard. Altynbek Sarsenbaiuly, 43, was the second opposition leader to be found dead in suspicious circumstances in three months." Upon hearing the news, Annan, Bush, and Chirac pledged to not rest until Hariri killers are brought to justice.
"Civil liberties organisations expressed outrage yesterday after it was reported that the database of terrorist suspects kept by the US authorities now holds 325,000 names, a fourfold increase in two and a half years." (thanks Peter)
"The Bush administration made an emergency request to Congress yesterday for a seven-fold increase in funding to mount the biggest ever propaganda campaign against the Tehran government, in a further sign of the worsening crisis between Iran and the west. Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said the $75m (£43m) in extra funds, on top of $10m already allocated for later this year, would be used to broadcast US radio and television programmes into Iran, help pay for Iranians to study in America and support pro-democracy groups inside the country."
Hanna Batatu once told me that after the 1963 coup in Iraq, and the massacre of communists, he could not work on Iraq, and write his book. He became so disillusioned and so disgusted with the developments. It was only in the 1970s, that Batatu resumed his work. How can one not be disillusioned and not be disgusted looking at the slide toward civil strife in Lebanon? And the merchants of war in Lebanon, always lead the country to war, with a smile on their faces. Just watch Jumblat give his speech yesterday.
The famous Lebanonese nationalist woman took her Sri Lankan maid, again, to Hummus square. (thanks Sevag)
That is sad. The association of Arabic calligraphers in Lebanon presented a petition to the Minister of Education in which they complained about the deterioration of the conditions of the profession due to computers.
OK. Hariri Inc just completed the commemoration of Hariri's 1st anniversary of his assassination. Now they can turn to important business. Now they can start preparing for the 2nd anniversary. Lebanon has a ruling family now; and it is run by another (foreign) ruling family.
A Syrian official was explaining to As-Safir why Riad Sayf and Ma`mun Al-Humsi were arrested. Apparently, they made statements that "crossed a line" said the official. These are the Arab governments; that is what Arab people have to deal with.
My sources tell me that Sa`d Hariri just purchased a house for Walid Jumblat on Avenue Foch in Paris. Do you know that Rif`at Al-Asad has a building on the same street where he keeps (on separate floors) each of his four wives? And now Khaddam has a house there. Lovely neighbors.
This is Zionism.
"Three years after the Persian miniature incident, a movie called "Mohammad, Messenger of God" opened and was promptly panned by critics. "Achingly clumsy," wrote Richard Eder in The Times. It was so bad, he added, that it was "of itself a convincing justification for the traditional Islamic hostility to pictorial representation.""
Dick Cheney speaks publicly about the shooting of his hunting friend. He blamed infiltrators from Syria. (If Cheney's name was Ahmad Cheney, would he not be in jail by now? Or would he have been declared an "enemy combatant"?)
""I don't see, Madame Secretary, how things are getting better. I think things are getting worse. I think they're getting worse in Iraq. I think they're getting worse in Iran," Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., told Rice as she appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee."
"Under the Bush administration's request, Lebanon would receive $4.8 million in U.S. military aid in 2007. Beirut received less than $1 million in such aid for fiscal 2006, which ends in October, Middle East Newsline reported." Look at those amounts. I mean, Sa`d Hariri probably spends that much for his cigar supply. This is hilarious given that Lebanese media had expected that Bush was going to give billions to Lebanon. Enjoy.
Heil Hariri.
"An Australian television network broadcast photographs and video clips Wednesday that it said were previously unpublished images of the abuse of Iraqis held in U.S. military custody at Abu Ghraib prison in 2003."
""The growing power of conservative faculties in Islamic universities also strengthened the old ban on depictions of the prophet," As'ad AbuKhalil said. "So did the rise of the Wahabis in Arabia. Their conservatism went so far that they obliterated the prophet's tomb." They feared its veneration."
"When the government of Malaysia sought to repair its tarnished image in the U.S. by arranging a meeting between President Bush and its controversial prime minister in 2002, it followed the same strategy as many other well-heeled interests in Washington: It called on lobbyist Jack Abramoff for help."
Did you hear? That David Duke (who toured the Gulf region 2 years ago and appeared on AlJazeera among other Arab media) was recently on Syrian TV?
I wish I have time. I need to write something about the Muslim Brotherhood. An organization that, its name notwithstanding, is most unprincipled, that has been willing (in every country) to change its foreign policy either for donations of cash from governments or benefactors. This is an organization that produces the fanatical groups like Al-Qa`idah and others, and poisoned the political and popular cultures of the Middle East. This is an organization that with the support of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, US, and Israel worked feverishly against all ideas of the renaissance in the Arab world, and which devoted all energies and efforts against the Left of the Arab world. This is an organization that never turns down an opportunity of subservience to Arab governments, or to occupation. I was thinking about that when I know that Hariri Inc bought that corrupt branch of the Brotherhood in Lebanon, called Al-Jama`ah Al-Islamiyya. A sectarian organization that declares Christians as infidels, but then pretends to be in an alliance with the Lebanese Forces.
(The answer to the quiz in Joseph Samahah's column today is As`ad Harmush).
For those who want a clear definition of Zionism: "Israel Defense Forces soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man on Wednesday while carrying out an arrest raid in Qabatiyah, near the West Bank city of Jenin. Palestinian security officials said the victim was a mentally-handicapped 19-year-old Palestinian man, identified as Mujahed Al-Simadi, who was carrying a toy rifle."
"Under the radar, Israel has deepened its relationship with NATO over the past year after Jaap de Hoop Scheffer's first visit by a NATO secretary general to Israel last February. It participated in three military exercises in 2005 and has provided valuable intelligence to Operation Active Endeavor, the aim of which is to block delivery of missiles and weapons of mass destruction to terrorist-supporting countries such as Iran, Syria and North Korea. This year, Israel will
> increase its participation in the operation and place a liaison officer at NATO's naval headquarters in Naples, Italy." (from WSJ. Thanks Ryan)
"Bush administration officials who promoted war with Iraq envisioned Americans reshaping the country in their own image after the war. Instead, the reshaping is increasingly being carried out by Iran --the same nation that has provoked a diplomatic furor over its nuclear
> ambitions.> Iran's influence is most apparent in Iraqi politics, where a Shiite-dominated coalition has just nominated a prime minister with close ties to Tehran, but it also emerges in many areas of Iraqi life that get less notice. Iranian businessmen are some of the largest investors in restoring Iraq's shattered infrastructure. Nonprofit groups from Iran are providing basic health services that crumbled in the chaos following the U.S.-led invasion. Iraq's Shiite media are getting training from experts across the border. "America occupies Iraq, but Iran influences us," says Sheikh Kashef al-Qhatta, a prominent Shiite cleric and political analyst based in Baghdad." (From WSJ, yesterday. Thanks Ryan)
"Quick Rise for Purveyors of Propaganda in Iraq"
The New York Times, to its credit, gives no account of the Hariri demonstration yesterday in Lebanon. None. It has one picture, and the caption gives an estimate of the crowd that is half of the Lebanese official account. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Lebanon is in their hands. Be worried. Be very worried.
For those with subscriptions to on-line WSJ. Would you kindly send me the two articles in today's edition about 1) Iranian role in Iraq; and 2) Israel and Nato. I read them and would like to cite passages. Also, a refreshing beverage to go with that (you may send as an attachment in an email. It will not leak, I am told).
Hostility to Islam by people who pose as "the authentic Muslims/Arabs" is now a cottage industry. (And notice that are always listed as "free-lance writers and speakers"--and it never matters if they have degrees in tomato studies). I mean, look at this one. "I witnessed honour killings of girls, oppression of women, female genital mutilation, polygamy and its devastating effect on family relations. All of this is destroying the Muslim faith from within." I lived for the first 23 years of my life in the Middle East (while Manji attended "madraaasaaah" (as she prounounces it), not in Lahore, but in CANADA), and I never witnessed an honor killig; I never witnessed female genital mutiliation; I saw one polygamous marriage (my aunt) when I was there. But I have witnessed oppression of women in the Middle East....AND in the US, and in Europe. (thanks Jeremy)