Saturday, September 30, 2006

Do you notice that "liberated" Afghanistan is looking increasingly like "liberated" Iraq?
"University of Texas constitutional law professor Sanford V. Levinson described the bill in an Internet posting as the mark of a "banana republic." Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh said that "the image of Congress rushing to strip jurisdiction from the courts in response to a politically created emergency is really quite shocking, and it's not clear that most of the members understand what they've done.""

Friday, September 29, 2006

Gris, Juan, The Siphon, 1913.
International media are reporting that a French teacher is now under protection because he received threats via emails in the wake of an article in which he attacked Islam. I mean, I receive threats regularly and that does not become an international story. Or does it all depends on who is threatening whom?
"Pakistan: Human rights ignored in the ‘war on terror’"
"There’s the president, who once said, “I don’t have the foggiest idea about what I think about international, foreign policy,” deciding that he’s going to remake the Middle East and alter the course of American foreign policy."
"Marwahin, 15 July 2006: The anatomy of a massacre"
Why is the Independent publishing an article on Lebanon by Anthony Bourdain? Don't think that celebrity worship is an American phenomenon. The article did not have one interesting thing to say. I wish he stuck to Shawirma talk.
I noticed that people and media in UK have brought up the issue of the human rights violations in Pakistan during Musharraf's visit (unlike her in the US). "President's boast undermined by human rights violations."
"The United States Congress Friday approved an additional $500 million for developing joint defense projects with Israel."
"About six in 10 Iraqis say they approve of attacks on U.S.-led forces, and slightly more than that want their government to ask U.S. troops to leave within a year, a poll finds."
"It is not clear whether Mr Bush raised Mr Nazarbayev's shaky human rights record, though he did say: "I'm looking forward to buying you lunch.""
Islamist book burners of Al-Azhar are angry. (thanks Marc). They did not like a very historically accurate account of changes in verses in the Qur'an that Muhammad `Abid Al-Jabiri presented in this article. Early books on Islam talked about such matters but in the Shakhbuti era (as Yasin Al-Hafidh called the Saudi era) you can't be critical in your examination of Islam and its history.
The fanatics that supported the fanatics: "After a conflict within the military itself, a rightwing coup backed by the United States seized power and proceeded to crush the left. In rural Java especially, the new power was enthusiastically supported by Islamists, led by the Nahdat ul-Islam grouping. A convergence between the anti-communism of the military and the Islamists was one of the factors in the rampant orgy of killing which took the lives of up to a million people. The impact of this event was enormous, both for Indonesia itself and the balance of forces in southeast Asia at a time when the struggle in Vietnam was about to escalate. The second country, Afghanistan, also had an outcome of great significance for the cold war as a whole. During the Soviet occupation of the 1980s, the most fanatical Islamist groups - funded by the CIA, Pakistan and the Saudis to overthrow the communist government in Kabul - were killing women teachers, bombing schools and forcing women back into the home in the areas they controlled."
I don't agree with his conclusions. I don't know any leftist who supports Islamic fundamentalism. Hallidy does not seem perturbed by Christian or Jewish fundamentalism.
"But it is hard -- indeed, I would say it is impossible -- to reconcile Bush's absolutism over allegedly human life when it is a clump of unknowing, unfeeling cells with his sophisticated, if not cavalier, attitude toward the loss of innocent human life when it is children and adults in Iraq."
There is something that SOME Lebanese can--or should--agree on. Why can't those secular anti-sectarian Lebanese come together to form a movement calling for the full secularization of the Lebanese state AND society? Why can't we make civil marriage yet again a priority among priorities, and away from demagogues like Ilyas Hrawi? Why can't secular Lebanese regard secularization as the top political priority? Why can't we decommission the demagogic clerics of ALL sects in Lebanon? That is the only hope of Lebanon. And as long as secularism is not on the agenda of reform, I have no hope for Lebanon.
Where is my late father on all this? The other day, I had a pressing question for my mother. It has been on my mind for a week, if not more. I needed to know. It became pressing, the more I thought about it. I was wondering what my father's political stance would have been had he been alive. How would he have reacted to the developments in Lebanon? My father was quite (personally if not intellectually) secular and non-religious (he was not an atheist though), and really enjoyed earthly pleasures--every one of them. Politically, he was hard to categorize; and if I elaborate on this matter I may anger my sister. Certainly, he disliked the traditional feudal za`ims, like Kamil Al-As`ad. He knew them too well, and could not respect them when he saw them up close. So when I asked my mother that question, she first paused. My sister in the background was offended. "He was a leftist" I could hear her say. (He was not a leftist, but my sister has a habit of projecting her own politics on people she loves). And then my mother stated that he would be sympathetic with Hizbullah's current political position. He always disliked Rafiq Hariri she assured me, although my father died before Hariri became prime minister. But I asked her whether he would be more sympathetic to the Amal movement--the movement often attracts less (and non-) religious Shi`ites. She said no. She also said that he became more aware and proud of his Shi`ite identity in his last years, although he was always proud of his Shi`ite identity. He kept `Ali's legendary sword, Dhul-Fiqar on the wall (as much as my mother and sister wanted it down). `Ali's macho personality greatly appealed to my father, and he took pride in it, in a secular way. But his Shi`ite identity, was not religious nor was it sectarian. The people of Tyre, I always felt, were non-sectarian. Or they were the least sectarian of the people I knew in Lebanon. My grandfather's house in Tyre was close to the Christian quarter, and the AbuKhalils of Tyre had friendships with Christians which I did not see among the Sunni Beirutis (or among Christian Beirutis). He went to school in a Christian area (Hikmah) and then studied in Egypt. My father never entered a mosque. I never saw him pray. He probably fasted one day in his life, and I am not sure that he made it for the whole day. There is a dispute in the family over whether he completed the fast or not "that day." I don't know why I was curious. But that would help me understand the complicated position of many non-religious and non-sectarian Shi`ites toward Hizbullah and its weapons.
"There would have been no established Byzantine or Roman Christianity if the faith had not been spread and maintained and enforced by every kind of violence and cruelty and coercion. To take Islam's own favorite self-pitying example: It was the Catholic crusaders who sacked and burned Christian Byzantium on their way to Palestine—and that was only after they had methodically set about the Jews, so the Muslim world was actually only the third victim of this barbarity."
Nawal Saadawi is to feminism what Bush is to peace. On New TV today she said: "The wife who is beaten, deserves to be hit; the one who is humiliated by her boss, deserves humiliation because she is weak." In the West, this woman is considered a "feminist" because she does not offend the precious Western ears, and reinforces the worst Western stereotypes about Muslim/Arab women.
Arab Orientalism: English is "the language of reason and logic." Raphael Patai would have so approved of Edmond Sa`b of An-Nahar (the right-wing, sectarian Christian newspaper), who started his career by translating from English into Arabic American anti-communist propaganda. (thanks Amer)
I have had it with the unending coverage and investigations of the assassination of Rafiq Hariri. No UN committee bothers to investigate the death of millions of poor people around the world. I really want this Hariri saga to end. Toward that goal, I have decided, in the spirit of "Christian love", to forgive the assassins. Just don't do it again.
"Kazakhs Shrug at ‘Borat’ While the State Fumes"
"Borat, the fictional TV reporter from Kazakhstan, may have gotten under the skin of Kazakh officials but on Thursday he couldn't get past the gates of the White House. Secret Service agents turned away British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, in character as the boorish, anti-Semitic journalist, when he tried to invite "Premier George Walter Bush" to a screening of his upcoming movie, "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan." Also invited to the screening: O.J. Simpson, "Mel Gibsons" and other "American dignitaries.""
Gris, Juan, Landscape at Ceret, 1913.
News from "liberated" US: "At the same time, the bill immunizes U.S. officials from prosecution for cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of detainees who the military and the CIA captured before the end of last year. It gives the president a dominant but not exclusive role in setting the rules for future interrogations of terrorism suspects."
News from "liberated" Iraq: "Under a broad new set of laws criminalizing speech that ridicules the government or its officials, some resurrected verbatim from Saddam Hussein’s penal code, roughly a dozen Iraqi journalists have been charged with offending public officials in the past year. Currently, three journalists for a small newspaper in southeastern Iraq are being tried here for articles last year that accused a provincial governor, local judges and police officials of corruption. The journalists are accused of violating Paragraph 226 of the penal code, which makes anyone who “publicly insults” the government or public officials subject to up to seven years in prison."
"Taliban attacks along Afghanistan's southeastern border have more than doubled in the three weeks since a controversial deal between Pakistan and pro-Taliban militants, the US military said yesterday."
"Israel violated the UN-drawn border it shares with Lebanon on Thursday, six weeks after its cease-fire with Hezbollah guerrillas went into effect in the region, the spokesman for the United Nations peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon said."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

An American correspondent in Beirut sent me this:
US ambassador in Lebanon "was at a dinner party a week or two ago and left, complaining that he was tired because he was "too busy running this country" he later burst out in complaint "i hate this country, i cant wait to leave" i think he's getting frustrated with the march 14 people asking him what to do all the time and bullshitting him."
I can't of course confirm this report, and will ask the American correspondent to see if he can confirm it. (The American correspondent confirmed the news to me and gave me the name of the source).
"Jerusalem Tolerance Museum Sparks Fight"
"According to Woodward, insurgent attacks against coalition troops occur, on average, every 15 minutes, a shocking fact the administration has kept secret. "It’s getting to the point now where there are eight-, nine-hundred attacks a week. That's more than 100 a day. That is four an hour attacking our forces," says Woodward."
"Israel Stealing Wazzani River's Waters" (thanks Emily and Karim)
Ziyad Rahbani at the "Divine Victory" Rally. (thanks anonymous).
"When Vice President Dick Cheney came to this oil-rich Central Asian nation this spring he expressed admiration for what he called its “political development.” Yet just a day before his visit began, the authoritarian government effectively shut down the two most prominent American democracy organizations working here."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

John Stewart on CNN/Fox News.
"[Israeli] Army chief makes it clear that if terror group members continue to demonstrate [on their own territory] and hurl stones at vehicles near fence, IDF will not hesitate to open fire at them."
"Christians: We'll fight for Israel: Evangelical delegates from around the world arrive at Knesset to express 'love for Israel"
"What Is Torture? An interactive primer on American interrogation"
I give Christopher Hitchens a year before he follows in the footsteps of Bernard Lewis and starts engaging in numerological predictions.
"The Abu Ghraib files"
" A new WPO poll of the Iraqi public finds that seven in ten Iraqis want US-led forces to commit to withdraw within a year." (thanks Amer)
"Upon Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, Lerner ostensibly condemned Israel without actually criticizing it." (thanks Steven)
Latest news from the "beacon of freedom": "The legislation loosely defines "cruel or inhuman treatment" of detainees, which would constitute a war crime. The administration said the term should apply to techniques resulting in "severe" physical or mental pain, but lawmakers set the standard at "serious." The abused detainee's symptoms would have to include "serious and non-transitory mental harm, which need not be prolonged.""
Gris, Juan, Landscape with Houses at Ceret, 1913.
You have to read the autobiography of the American historian, John Hope Franklin. It is a delightful account by a delightful man.
Cruel and unusual: "Inmates executed by lethal injection in California may have been conscious when they were administered a drug that induces suffocation and an "excruciating'' experience comparable to drowning or strangulation, an anesthesiologist who has reviewed state execution logs testified today."
If you have ever read more insightful analysis than this, please let me know. Michael Husayn Young at his best: "Siniora's tears began a process of ridding the South of Israeli soldiers."
(Next in Michael Young's column: a feature on Saniora's sneezes, and how they will begin a process of solving the Arab-Israeli conflict).
"Zaha Hadid gets her due in Guggenheim retrospective"
"This week, Newsweek magazine - motto "Our voices. Your voices. Every day" - illustrates that division by offering readers in different parts of the world different cover stories. The international edition of the magazine, on sale in Europe, Asia and Latin America, features a fearsome-looking man wearing a turban and pointing a grenade launcher towards the reader. "Losing Afghanistan" screams the hard-hitting headline. Instead of a man with a gun, US readers are offered a woman with a camera surrounded by children and celebrities. "My life in pictures," purrs the softly spoken headline over a picture of celebrity snapper Annie Leibovitz. While Leibovitz cradles her children, a pregnant Demi Moore and a smiling Nelson Mandela look on. Newsweek's international editor, Fareed Zakaria, said that in the US, Newsweek was a mass market magazine with a broad reach, while overseas it "is a somewhat more upmarket magazine for internationally minded people"."
"It could take between eight to 14 months to fix a Gaza Strip power plant destroyed in an Israel Air Force strike in late June, and to restore full electrical power to the region. Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem has accused the Israel Defense Forces of war crimes for bombing the plant, which has left many areas of the Gaza Strip without full electricitical power the last three months."
"A public relations company known for its role in a controversial U.S. military program that paid Iraqi newspapers for stories favorable to coalition forces has been awarded another multimillion dollar media contract with American forces in Iraq. Washington-based Lincoln Group won a two-year contract to monitor a number of English and Arabic media outlets and produce public relations-type products such as talking points or speeches for U.S. forces in Iraq, officials said Tuesday."
"She also asked why Israel is not cooperating with the UN in assisting civilians in areas where cluster bombs were fired to locate the bombs. A 12-year old boy was killed and three other children wounded Wednesday by the explosion of an Israeli cluster bomb in southern Lebanon. The children were playing in a field when they accidentally touched a bomblet which blew up. So far, 15 civilians have been killed by Israeli cluster bombs since the war ended, and almost 90 have been wounded."
Bush's Favorite Lebanonese: "IDF presence in Lebanon 'mother of all ills'"
That girl was shot by Israeli occupation troops. You will not read about her in US press. She is a Palestinian after all, and her killers are Israelis.
"A strong majority of Iraqis want U.S.-led military forces to immediately withdraw from the country, saying their swift departure would make Iraq more secure and decrease sectarian violence, according to new polls by the State Department and independent researchers....Another new poll, scheduled to be released on Wednesday by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, found that 71 percent of Iraqis questioned want the Iraqi government to ask foreign forces to depart within a year. By large margins, though, Iraqis believed that the U.S. government would refuse the request, with 77 percent of those polled saying the United States intends keep permanent military bases in the country." (That is very significant. So basically, all Iraqi Arabs want the US (and Macedonian) occupation troops out of their country. Which of those words the US government does NOT understand?)
Joseph Samahah on the Saudi role in Lebanon. (Would somebody volunteer to translate articles by Samahah into English to post on their website?)
Since Lebanese like to rank, Ni`mat Allah Abi Nasr is probably the most sectarian agitator in the country (and there are many competitors).
We need to ask Anis Naqqash this question. Did `Abdul-`Aziz Butufliqah (the current president of Algeria) receive a cut from the ransom money when Carlos (the jackal) and Naqqash and their team kidnapped the oil ministers in that famous operation? He mediated at the time. (There are people who are still looking for some of that money that was left by Wadi` Haddad).
Tariq Mitri was appointed Minister by Emile Lahhud (or more accurately by his son-in-law (soon to be former son-in-law), Elias Murr); he now serves Fu'ad Sanyurah 24 hours a day.
"Since the cease-fire, 14 Lebanese have been killed and 90 injured by the bomblets, the United Nations said, while about 40,000 of the bomblets have been cleared. The officials estimate that about 40 percent of the cluster bombs failed to explode."
And notice that According to the New York Times Israel NEVER occupies Arab lands. It merely "captures" them: "Israeli forces have now left approximately 90 percent of the buffer zone in southern Lebanon captured during the war." Or: "Israel captured the strategic plateau in the 1967 war and unilaterally annexed it in 1981."
("In the scene that offended Muslims and led to security fears, a king places the severed heads of religious leaders on chairs").
("A scene added to “Idomeneo,” shown in a 2003 rehearsal, includes Muhammad and other religious figures.").
Conclusion: show the performance, NOW. When it mocks ALL religions and prophets, it can't be bad.
PS. Of course, the New York Times would never ever show images or texts that are offensive, say, to Jewish people or to African-Americans. (thanks Ema)
The puppets have spoken. Don't you like the way the US justifies its occupation of Iraq? Basically, when asked: US officials say: "ask the puppets that we have installed in power in Iraq if they want us to leave. They want us to stay." That should settle the matters. The puppets have spoken.
The Iraqi "public service" announcements that air on AlArabiya TV look so bizarre and so Orwellian. Saddam would have approved of them: contents and style.
AlArabiya TV ran a "documentary" on prisoners held by Polisario. Would they dare run a "documentary" on prisoners in Moroccan jails? There is no question that AlArabiya is the worst most propagandistic news network in the region, but Washington Post's columnist, David Ignatius, who does not know Arabic, considers its operation to be "professional."
US official (dealing with Iraq) David Sutterfield (what ever happened to his reported links to the AIPAC spy scandal?) was on AlJazeera today. If he did not appear via satellite, he was about to punch the anchorman and anchorwoman who interviewed him. They did a great job. He dared to invoke the mantra about the need to end the intervention in Iraq affairs by Iraq's neighbors. Lina Zahr Ad-Din dared to ask him about intervention by the US, and why intervention by US is not considered intervention? There was a few seconds silence at that. The other anchorperson asked him about the daily death toll in Iraq, and Sutterfield blamed (the very dead) Zarqawi for that. Kid you not. With that, the anchorpeople ended the segment, having learned of US foreign policy what they had not learned before.
This is media globalization. AlArabiya TV actually ran a story about the US "rescue" of Lebanese...pets. The same channel that avoided blaming the aggressor in the Israeli war on Lebanon.
I was surprised when I saw this article by Thomas Friedman on "oil dictators." I was surprised because I have noticed that Friedman, ever since he was officially invited to Saudi Arabia after Sep. 11, never ever criticizes the Arab oil dictators. But then I read the piece and was no more surprised. Notice that in this article, he considers Chavez (who was elected) a dictator but NOT the King of Saudi Arabia. I finished the article having learned about the US media what I had not known before.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More dirty tricks by Fath (thanks Yusuf)
I never thought that I would live to read Condoleezza Rice offering her "analysis" of the Shi`ite situation in Lebanon. I did not enjoy Rice's work on the Soviet Union, and I enjoy less her "work" on the Middle East. But how ill-informed she is. There is no Amal Movement to speak of. Nabih Birri needs Hizbullah, and the latter could easily win all elections without Amal, and Amal can't win elections without Hizbullah support. But most importantly, Nabih Birri today issued a strongly-worded statement in response to Rice in which he stressed the firm bond between Hizbullah and Amal, and he accused her of restoring to the same simplistic analysis that prevails in Iraq.
Gris, Juan, Three Lamps, 1910-11.
News from "liberated" Iraq: "Kurds, Sunni Arabs Clash in North -- a Small Echo of Larger Dispute"
Oh, yeah. Clinton has come up with a solution to Afghanistan's problems. What a wise man. What keen insights on international affairs. I thought that he was busy building his monument to himself (the presidential "library").
"For fear of Muslim anger, the bosses of the world-renowned Deutsche Oper in Berlin have cancelled performances of Mozart’s Idomeneo. The decision has unleashed a storm of disapproval from politicians and writers, who claim that Germany has fatally compromised the freedom of expression." Show the performance NOW, I say.
Poor oil. Or oil as a victim: "RIYADH: OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia has expressed concern that oil could become a victim of "selective" environment policies and called for striking a balance between a cleaner environment and development."
"In the House of Islam, you cannot have a principle other than that of the community." What? "House of Islam"? What does that mean? Why not the Mansion or Bungalo of Islam? Are we reverting to 19th century Western lingo here? Which house of Islam are you talking about? Millions of Muslims now live under non-Muslim rule, so such language is obsolete, o wise one. Furthermore, it is not true that "The beheading of the Sudanese journalist Mohamed Taha Mohamed Ahmed in early September was the latest example of community punishment of a journalist/writer." Community punishment? What are you talking about? Many condemned the killing in the Sudan itself. The group that killed the brave journalist was a fanatical Bin Ladenite group, and probably linked to the oppressive government of Bashir. And the man was probably killed not for printing an article about Muhammad, but for consisently attacking Bashir. This is not a "community punishment." Having said all of that, we of course, should aspire to remove all taboos from Muslim, Christian, and Jewish societies, and allow people to attack, mock, ridicule, and criticize religions, prophets, and clerics freely. And if you really want more freedoms in the Middle East, you should be addressing yourself to the Bush administration which is responsible for arming and supporting those oppressive regimes: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Mauritania, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, etc.
I know that Daoud Kuttab has been on a mission to please the White Man for a long time. But what is this nonsense here? I know that he wants Arab media to cover less Israeli and American aggression in the Middle East, but of course there is local coverage in Arab media. Like Saudi media cover Saudi issues (lousily of course) and Lebanese media cover Lebanese issues, and Egyptian media cover Egyptian issues. Do you read Arabic Mr. Kuttab?
Full text: "Declassified Key Judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States” dated April 2006"
As Al-Akhbar points out. The governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon eagerly wants to be president of the republic. He has influence over Lebanese media because he "extends loans" to many publishers. Ad-Diyar for example is a free platform for Salamah who won the "best falafil consumer" award at an international competition recently.
This is Zionism: "Israel Air Force air strikes on a house in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah early Wednesday killed a 14-year-old girl and wounded seven other people, hospital officials said."
"George Bush yesterday suffered a blow to his argument that the removal of Saddam Hussein had made Americans safer after he ordered the release of an intelligence report warning the war in Iraq had become a "cause celebre for jihadists"."
Evidence that Iraq has been indeed "liberated": "Amnesty International is greatly concerned at the sharp increase in executions carried out by the Iraqi authorities since the beginning of September 2006. On 21 September 11 people were executed by hanging in the city of Arbil, in the Kurdish-controlled area of Northern Iraq."
This is journalism in Hariri media. An article is titled: "Saudi Arabia is a state for faith, and a kingdom of goodness and humans."
Fatfatism by Husam `Itani.
(Indirectly, Bush's allies) Hariri allies: Al-Qa`idah in North Lebanon.
It is hilarious that Bush administration officials have no clue how Hamid Karzai, Iyad Allawi, and the rest are perceived by the people of the region. Just hilarious. Did you see Hamid Karzai with the press conference with Bush today?
Nolde, Emil, Autumn Sea VII, 1910.
It is hilarious that Bush administration officials have no clue how Hamid Karzai, Iyad Allawi, and the rest are perceived by the people of the region. Just hilarious. Did you see Hamid Karzai with the press conference with Bush today?
Saddam's trial. When you think about it, this trial is symptomatic of all that went wrong for the US occupation. Nothing could go right for that brutal and lousy occupation. Even the trial of Saddam. I mean, how difficult it is to prove that Saddam committed war crimes and crimes against humanity? Yet, the American occupation managed to botch that simple trial. The trial was intended to showcase "the rule of law" for the Arab people. Instead, the Arab people were exposed to an all too familiar trial: it looked like the farcical trials in Arab countries.
AlJazeera usually does not miss an opportunity to embarrass the Saudi government. But they have not been playing up the news of Saudi-Israeli meetings. They can't given the regular meetings between Qatari and Israeli officials.
"Liberal" Saudi Media: yesterday, I saw part of a new religious show on Al-Arabiya TV. They had this Muslim male cleric, Hamzah or something, and he was preaching to a group of women. He basically was telling them that women should not leave their house unless there is a reason: like buying food to cook for their husbands. In US media, AlArabiya TV is hailed as "professional" and "liberal."
Let me the summarize the Brammertz report for you. Well, no clue. Absolutely no clue. It could be this, and it could be that, and it could be the other. It could be personal, financial, or political. Abu `Adas (or Father of Lentils) knows more intellectually but less technically than members of militant groups. But then again, it could be something else. The explosion: either from above ground, or underground, or from the air or all of the above. Brammertz, the thorough investigator that he is, did not rule out the role of aliens from outer space in the assassination. Good night.
"It's over for "The Boondocks" comic strip, at least for now. After six years -- a remarkably short run for a strip that found its way into 300-plus newspapers, including The Washington Post -- Universal Press Syndicate told subscribers yesterday they should start looking for someone to replace political/social satirist Aaron McGruder."
"In Lebanon, a War's Lethal Harvest: Threat of Unexploded Bombs Paralyzes the South"
Lebanonese Minister of Social Affairs, Nayla Mu`awwad (who was a close ally of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon) did not want to be late for the rally of the right-wing, sectarian Christian Lebanese Forces militia. (thanks Toufic)
Foreign occupiers don't protect the women of Afghanistan from Taliban attacks.
"George Bush suffered a serious rebuke of his wartime leadership yesterday when his army chief said he did not have enough money to fight the war in Iraq."

Monday, September 25, 2006

A day in the life of Arab intellectual, Nasif Nassar.
Moran, Thomas, Fort George Island, 1880.
"Prince Bandar, secretary general of the Saudi Arabian National Security Council and former Saudi ambassador to the United States, may be the senior official at the center of reports of contacts between Riyadh and Israel, Haaretz has learned."
Orientalist Numerology: "On September 22, 2006, Iran was supposed to attack Israel and perhaps the entire Western world. And why precisely on this specific day? Because it is the 27th day of the month of Rajab (in the year 1427, according to the Muslim calendar), the same day Mohammed ascended to heaven on his legendary horse Buraq. And why attack on this day? Because this is what the well-known Orientalist Bernard Lewis said. One could have dismissed this prophecy with a grin had it not aroused a dispute among a number of renowned scholars, had respected newspapers (like the Wall Street Journal) not published it prominently and had statesmen not regarded it as intelligence requiring study." (thanks Mouin)
The book burners of Al-Azhar are at it again. What do you expect from an institution led by a senile and servile cleric who threw an ash tray at a female journalist who dared to inquire about his relationship with the Egyptian state?
Egyptian Islamist fanatical "professor", `Abd As-Sabur Shahin, would have been a great addition to the staff of the kooky inquisitors of medieval times. He was behind the campaign against Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd and he is now behind the campaign against Hasan Hanafi. And Hanafi is not a secularist: he is by my standards at least a moderate Islamist; I once had a very long exchange about secularism with him at the house of Halim Barakat. He is a very modest and very knowledgeable man who does not agree with the fanatics of AlAzhar. Shahin started the campaign because Hanafi said in Alexandria that the Qur'an is like a "supermarket" (i.e. you can pick and choose). Who can disagree with that? It is also true about the Bible of course. Hanafi also said that there are contradictions in the Qur'an. Who can disagree with that? And who gave Shahin the power and the authority to declare the infidelity of others? Those fanatics were unleashed by Anwar Sadat and the House of Saud in the early 1970s after the death of Nasser, and they have been terrorizing Arab political and popular cultures ever since.
"History Hears the Music, Not the Politics"

Sunday, September 24, 2006

To my readers around the world. This (headline?!) passes as serious journalism in the US: "In private meetings with families, [Bush] expresses his sorrow for losses."
"Sacha Baron Cohen has upset Kazakhstan with his character Borat Sagdiyev." (I am afraid that I find that Borat character very funny. I know. I know. But then again: I very much enjoy watching Family Guy.)
Taliban-for-Bush: here, a journey into a new Taliban republic established by Bush.
(Ignore--Fake). The joke is on whom? An Iraqi boy posing with an American soldier in Iraq. On the cardboard is written (in Iraqi dialect): "George Bush is a donkey and this American (a word that I can't decipher in Iraqi dialect--somebody told me it means "idiot") does not understand because what is written on this cardboard is Go Iraq Go." (thanks Hani) (PS. I don't like to take down a post after posting it. But several comments reminded me that this may be fake. So I can't vouch for its authenticity, and in the absence of proof or evidence, it should be treated as a "joke").
"Irish academics have called on the European Union in an open letter to impose a moratorium financial support to Israeli academic institutions until Israel ends the occupation in the Palestinian territories."
The Fath Movement started as a "national liberation movement" and has degenerated into a surrogate army at the best of foreign occupation. All Fath forces loyal to Abu Mazen and Dahlan are exact replicas of South Lebanon Army.
Supporters of Israel are willing to resort to any trick, gimmick, deception, or ploy to make Israel look good. Alarmed at rising anti-Israeli sentiments in European countries, this American Zionist outfit phrased a question to European public opinion in such a way as to generate less hostility to Israel. Look at this dumb question: to ask people whether conflict in Middle East is due to tension between moderates and extremists is like asking people whether conflict is due to conflict.
They may not care about our people but they seem to care about our...animals: "Pets orphaned by war in Lebanon to be airlifted to U.S. for adoption." (thanks Mick)Now Lebanon's unlikely victims of war - its pets - are being airlifted to the United States on Monday for adoption.

People askmed me to comment about Samir Ja`ja`'s speech. Why should I? He is most insignificant. If democracy is about numbers, the Lebanese Forces militia represents some 20% of 70% of 25% of the Lebanese population. Go figure.
Bassam Haddad (looking very surprised above) in Beirut. (Bassam: don't forget the two books and Arabic sweets).
Moran, Thomas, Autumn, c. 1893-97.
"Anger at U.S. Policies More Strident at U.N."
"The war in Iraq has become a primary recruitment vehicle for violent Islamic extremists, motivating a new generation of potential terrorists around the world whose numbers may be increasing faster than the United States and its allies can reduce the threat, U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded."
"THE American army should scrap the Warrior Ethos, a martial creed that urges soldiers to demonstrate their fighting spirit by destroying the enemies of the United States at close quarter rather than winning the trust of local populations, according to senior US officers and counter-insurgency experts." (Too late.) (thanks Michele)

Saturday, September 23, 2006

"America's spy agencies have concluded that the invasion of Iraq has created a flood of new Islamic terrorists and increased the danger to US interests to a higher level than at any time since the 9/11 attacks." (Did you need "spy agencies" to reach that conclusion?)
"Far-right radicals threatened to use violence to oust Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany last night"
When the moon hits the Islamic sky. Conservative Muslim scholars, both Sunni and Shi`ites, insist on declaring the beginning of the months of the Muslim (lunar) calendar by on insisting on physically spotting the moon in the sky. To his credit, Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah has fought against that, and now declares the months on the basis of science. In Saudi Arabia, the Mufti (who is blind and who sets the standards for the pro-Saudi Sunni clerics in the Arab world) waits until somebody tells him that he (he does not accept the testimony of women) has actually spotted the moon before declaring the beginning of the month.
Did you see the Lebanese Army boat off Naqurah? If that will defend Lebanon from Israeli aggression, please dissolve the Lebanese Army NOW. Train them in falafil making.
Hariri media are posting this ad: Hariri media are desperately looking for Shi`ites who support Hariri Inc. Pay is good.
Hariri propaganda often promotes Iyad `Allawi (former Iraqi puppet prime minister/car bomber/embezzler-in-Yemen/former Saddam's henchman).
Not to upset the March 14th Movement: but there are rumors in Lahhud's circles that he may get his presidential term extended, AGAIN.
I am not making this up. Lebanese Minister of Phones, Toasters, and Blenders, Marwan Hamadah, said on a Lebanese radio station that the tears of Fu'ad Sanyurah were "one of the most important diplomatic weapons" of Lebanon. Falafil sandwiches were the second most important weapons, he added.
An Arab source who was in Syria and who met with a top Syrian official told me this. Najib Miqati (the former Lebanese prime minister) was arranging for the sale of a French air defense system to Syria a few years ago, when Rafiq Hariri (who was then alive and skimming) informed Miqati that the Americans are not pleased with his role. Soon later the French-Syrian deal was cancelled. Now the Syrian army provides an air defense system made up of fire crackers.
Check out the new issue of Al-Adab. The magazine needs your support. Here, is a long excerpt from my article in the new issue: "Revisiting Conspiracy Theory: Accountability Begins with Rafiq Hariri."
Whistler, James, Nocturne: Blue and Gold - St Mark's, Venice, 1879-80.
"How the UN meeting turned into a festival of anti-Americanism - and boosted Dubya's election hopes"
Bush summons two puppets to the Oval Office: ""I admire your leadership. I admire your courage,'' Bush told Musharraf. "And I thank you very much for working on common strategies to protect our respective peoples.'' There will be even more compliments on Wednesday when Musharraf and Karzai, who both came to the United States this week for the United Nations General Assembly opening in New York, meet jointly with Bush at the White House."
The Mufti of the House of Saud, `Abdul `Aziz Al-Ash-Shaykh (shown above) yesterday attacked those who "adopt the defense of human rights." In other news, the Minister of Interior of House of Saud stated that the closure of the moral police is rejected "yesterday, today, and tomorrow."
"Israel and Saudi Arabia have been conducting secret negotiations, the top-selling Hebrew daily reported on its front page yesterday. "Secret negotiations between Israel and Saudi Arabia," headlined Yediot Aharonot, reporting that contacts had begun during the recent 34-day war in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah. Asked whether there were secret talks going on with Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted as saying: "I don't have to answer every question". Olmert was quoted as saying, however, he was "very impressed with various acts and statements connected with Saudi Arabia, both those that were made publicly and others as well. "I am very impressed with (the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques) King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz's insight and sense of responsibility," he added, when asked about whether he regarded a Saudi peace initiative favourably." (thanks John)

The speech by Nasrallah and the rally in the southern suburbs of Beirut are the big news in all Arab news. I can only see Walid Jumblat’s face—not smiling. The event is most significant for the unprecedented size of crowd. This WAS the biggest crowd in Lebanese history, ever. Did you hear that o American correspondents in Lebanon? Will the Nation magazine publish a piece paying tribute to the demonstrators as they did when demonstrations took place against Syrian domination? Will MERIP now assign a piece by Nicholas Blamford to note the “photogenic” quality of the demonstrators as they did for the 2005 demonstrations? Why do some demonstrations register in the US press and others don’t? And why didn’t the Lebanese “liberal” intellectuals who took to the streets to cheer victory against Syria not show up to cheer a victory against Israeli aggression, wondered my friend Joseph? But I agree with the wise words of Joseph Samahah today in Al-Akhbar (the newspaper has quickly emerged as “the most” important newspaper in Lebanon): he said that let us at least, stay away from the war of numbers, and let us at least note that public opinion is split in half, and let us at least stop reducing all of Lebanon to the likes of Jumblat and mini-Hariri. The best measure of the impact of the speech is my mother (a Beirut Sunni). A week ago she was quite displeased with Hasan Nasrallah because he invoked the phrase “divine victory”. She worried that the expression may connote a hidden agenda of Islamization of the republic. Today, when I spoke to her, she was most ecstatic and most pleased and most emotional. She kept saying: “May God protect him. May God protect him.” She felt that Nasrallah struck just the right tone, and she reported to me that her Sunni relatives (many of whom had supported Hariri) were in full support of the speech, and were most impressed that he appeared non-sectarian (sectarian people may define “non-sectarian” differently from the way I would). A Christian-born Arab leftist called me in tears after the speech. I did not think that the speech went far enough but my standards are different from the standards of Hizbullah, and my mother said that Hizbullah has political calculations that I don’t have. The speech was clearly most effective on the Arab/Islamic level which already considers Nasrallah as their hero, but most significantly the speech may have been quite successful on the Lebanese scene (measured by the standards of Lebanese politics). He knew which buttons to push, and which to ignore, and the language to use. My mother has a theory which has validity: that Walid Jumblat’s attitude to Nasrallah is motivated by deep-seated jealousy. Jumblat is quite jealous at the wide popularity and charisma of Nasrallah and wishes that he has it, just as Nayif Hawatimah was deeply jealous of the charisma and popularity of George Habash. I think that the size of the crowd sent the strongest message: not only about the attachment of millions in Lebanon to Nasrallah and to Hizbullah, but also to the opposition by at least half of Lebanon to the lousy March 14th movement. The crowd clearly had more than the Hizbullah mass audience—there are many Lebanese of different sects who are rallying against the lousy March 14th Movement, and for different reasons—sectarian and secular reasons. Furthermore, the Hariri Inc-Jumblat alliance has further alienated Christians because they have further marginalized and disregarded Christians in Lebanon, just as that Rafiq Hariri had done. I think that Nasrallah’s very presence at the rally was courageous: there was a clear danger to his life. He wanted to make a point by his very presence. Some lines of the speech were quite good rhetorically, and his tribute to the Palestinian question struck a chord with many in the Arab world at a time when Arab leaders including the Palestinian Hamid Karzai want to ignore the Palestinian cause. (But I have seen Nasrallah give much better speeches, in structure and in delivery, but again people are judging the speech differently—in less than academic or coldly political evaluation). And he criticized Arab governments (in very general and very vague terms—which always irritates me) without really criticizing them by name, and a Hizbullah member of parliament (the effective and media savvy Hasan Fadlallah) was today in Kuwait praising the Kuwaiti government. Nasrallah mildly criticized the Hariri Inc coalition but still operated on the very naïve assumption that “business can be done with them”, or that their danger can be simply neutralized. His criticisms of Jumblat I felt were very (or too) mild, but others felt that they were strong. It was a political speech, and it was successful at that: if you judge it by the standards of evaluation of speeches at Republican and Democratic conventions, you can easily say that it was a most successful speech in that he was able to delight his audience, while also pleasing the audience of March 14th Movement. That was masterful for sure. His reference to that quotation by the “old and great man” (a reference to Khomeini) was not quite accurate. That statement, or a variation of it, was first attributed to Chairman Mao and later to Algerian leader Howari Bumedyan long before the appearance of Khomeini. Hariri Inc is facing a crisis, and they will have more difficulties especially as they fall under more increased US, i.e. Israeli, pressures to press on against Hizbullah. But the meetings that US ambassador has been holding with pro-Syrian Christians (like Sulayman Franjiyyah and Elie Frizli) have been interesting if not odd. I don’t understand the game here although the pro-Syrian sources are saying that US ambassador is fed up with the Lebanese Forces and is discovering that they have no popular standing, and the autocratic style of Samir Ja`ja` has split the small movement into multiple tribes. The demonstration yesterday should disabuse US officials of any notions of Hariri Inc’s ability to run all of Lebanon on behalf of US. That notion should be discarded once and for all. Just as Maronite leaders (in 1958 and in 1982) were incapable given the sectarian structure of Lebanon to shape Lebanon on behalf of US interests, Hariri Inc will fail. Its signs of failures were marked by the foot of demonstrators yesterday. Take note. I should note that the New York Times's article by Michael Slackman was atypically fair althogh the pictures on the website did not show what the pictures of Lebanese newspapapers have shown: that there were non-veiled and non-bearded members in the large crowd.
HezBUHlah. Lessons in Arabic pronunciations from the American heartland: "Lebanon Hezbollah (hez-BUH'-lah) leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah (HAS'-ahn NAS'-ruh-lah)." (thanks Kamal)
Prime minister boo hoo hoo explains his tears.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I am so glad that the "Day of Anger" against the Pope's speech that was announced by tele-Islamist demagogue, Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, was a flop. His call was largely ignored, and the news of Hizbullah's rally in Beirut dominated the Arab and international media. Qaradawi is a man who was never angry at Arab or Muslim governments for abusing and offending their citizens. And this shows that Arab regimes (and Aljazeera and Alarabiya--those two rarely agree) all participated in the campaign to whip up anger at the speech of the Pope because this was a safe issue for them--just as safe as the Danish cartoons; safe because they don't require anger at the US or Israel. In the list of outrages for Arab and Muslim people, the Danish cartoons and the lousy speech by the Pope should not rank that high. There are more pressing outrages. Qaradawi can now go back to his weekly program of religious fulminations.
"There is a sense among residents that the U.N. force was designed to protect Israel, a notion reinforced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel's comments last week that her country's participation in the U.N. force was designed to bring peace to the region, and in view of Germany's responsibility for "Israel's right to exist.""
"Bush made no mention of the dramatic events on Tuesday and left New York yesterday without ever seeing the deposed prime minister, much less offering any public support for a onetime strong ally of the United States. The president's spokesman later provided a strikingly mild response only after being asked by a reporter, pronouncing the White House "disappointed" by the coup."
This is how the coalition of Jumblat, Gemayyel, Sham`un, mini-Hariri (and the other sectarian crooks and warlords) is referrred to in the New York Times: "the American-backed pro-democracy movement." But at least they noted that Jumblat's "conversation [is] punctuated by heavy sighs and bitter chuckles".
Chomsky is very much alive and...kicking.
Tamayo, Rufino, Animals, 1941.
"The Super-Rich Get Richer: Forbes 400 Are All Billionaires"
"The chief education officer of the IDF, Ilan Harari, told a conference of senior IDF officers that he believes Israel lost the war - making Harari the first senior officer to state openly what other officers have been saying privately."
" The republic of fear is born again. The state of terror now gripping Iraq is as bad as it was under Saddam Hussein. Torture in the country may even be worse than it was during his rule, the United Nation's special investigator on torture said yesterday."
"Three years on, Guantánamo detainee, 78, goes home"
"The Bush administration threatened to bomb Pakistan "back to the stone age" after the September 11 attacks if the country did not cooperate with America's war on Afghanistan, it emerged yesterday. In an interview to be aired on CBS television this weekend Pakistan's president, General Pervez Musharraf, said the threat was delivered by the assistant secretary of state, Richard Armitage, in conversations with Pakistan's intelligence director."
"Nearly 7,000 civilians were killed in Iraq in the past two months, according to a UN report just released - a record high that is far greater than initial estimates had suggested. As American generals in Baghdad warned that the violence could worsen in the run up to Ramadan next Monday, the UN spoke of a "grave sectarian crisis" gripping the country."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bush today said that he asked his secretary of state to reactivate the "peace process." O people of the Middle East: get to the bomb shelters, FAST.
And I used to like Charles Rizq (the Lebanese Minister of Justice). The more he increases his presidential aspirations, the more ridiculous Charles Rizq sounds. And I used to like him and I respect him--especially when he once told me about his clashes with Bashir Gemayyel. Today on LBC-TV he said: that the Lebanese public opinion is "more intelligent, more enlightened, better informed, and more aware" than European public opinion. I once was with him at a conference hosted by the Canadian government, and he began by paying tribute to the "civilization" of the Lebanese people and their sophistication. I had to interrupt him in mid-sentence. I urged to stop right there: that it was insulting to the audience to speak in this manner about a people most famous for a savage civil war, the "Lebanese contributions" of Elia Kazan notwithstanding. Also Charles: can you once appear on TV and not remind the audience that you have a Ph.D.? Thanks. And did you know that Rif`at Al-Asad and Rustum Ghazalah and `Udayy Husayn all had PhDs?
Walid Jumblat said on LBC-TV that the German people under Hitler were "the most civilized" in the world.
They steal lands, water, cultures, and homelands: why would they not steal cash: "Israeli troops raid branch of Jordan National Bank among number of financial institutions, seize 1.5m in cash from West Bank cities, town" (thanks Laurie)
My friend Amer wrote me this today: "The reason why hizbollah will never become a real movement of national liberation is that its activism is directed solely at Israel, and not at changing Arab regimes and creating the environment for real national liberation (not even changing the regime in lebanon)." I can add that Hizbullah can't even be said to be a revolutionary movement and it has largely ignored socio-economic struggle during the Hariri years.
Are you not amused when you read in Arabic newspapers news of trials by the "Security of the State Court" in Arab countries?
"Even by U.N. standards, where the United States is frequently criticized as the world's superpower, Chavez's anti-American remarks were exceptionally inflammatory. They were also received with a warm round of applause."
"Polls show that Chavez is the third-most popular leader in Latin America. According to a report by Consulta Mitofsky, a Mexican polling firm, based on surveys taken March through May, Chavez is supported by 70 percent of Venezuelans, trailing only his leftist allies Evo Morales of Bolivia and Nestor Kirchner of Argentina, at 81 percent and 80 percent, respectively."

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The US government has accused the Islamic courts in Somalia of ties with Al-Qa`idah. In fact, this accusation was also used to justify US support for the warlords in the Somali civil war. Today, the chief of the courts told Al-Jazeera that they are negotiating with the US government.
Ibrahim `Allush was on Al-Jazeera's Ittijah Al-Mu`akis. He said that Theodor Herzl and other Zionists worked for the fragmentation of the Arab world after WWI. Herzl died in 1904. OK.
I ask world Muslims to urge the Mufti of Al-Azhar (who had lost it a very long time ago) to apologize for his many offenses to Muslims, including changing his views (and his religion if asked) to suit the interests of the Egyptian ruler.
Trevino, Jesse, Senora Dolores Trevino, 1982.
"No One Dares to Help: The wounded die alone on Baghdad's streets. An offer of aid could be your own death sentence, an Iraqi reporter writes."
"Africa's gifts to the world"
"Women work two-thirds of Africa's working hours, and produce 70 per cent of its food, yet earn only 10 per cent of its income, and own less than 1 per cent of its property."
"The clash between Arab citizens' loyalty to the state and their affinity with the Arab nation (and not just the Palestinian people) is steadily worsening. At its root lies their refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the Zionist idea - a refusal that is nourished by the foolish and evil policy of discrimination adopted by all Israeli governments." (thanks Suheir)
This French "philosopher" says that "Le Coran est un livre d'inouïe violence." and then cites the great late scholar, Maxime Rodnison, as if Rodinson would endorse his views and prejudices. Rondison was opposed to all religions; he was not a bigot. Rondinson's contributions to Islamic studies are immesurable. And many Christians in the West are capable of mocking the religious rituals of Muslims (as this guy does) and yet treat their own religious rituals with utmost respect.
"In Tubas, where an attempt to set fire to a church failed thanks to the residents' alertness, people said openly that the thrower of the Molotov cocktail might be connected to the Israeli occupation."
A detailed and learned analysis of the Pope's speech by Rudwan As-Sayyid (also a speech writer for Hariri Inc).
The Theory of the Innocent Coincidence. Walid Jumblat explains: "It happened that my policy coincided with American policy"
"Iraq was more complex than just Saddam. We should have learned from the experience of the British in the 1920s, when modern Iraq was created—namely, that bringing in outside leaders would not work. People expressed views about the need to plan for a post-Saddam Iraq, about the potential for sectarian violence and the rise of militias, about the fact that the Shiites would want to rise politically. These were not minority views in the intelligence community, but the administration ended up listening to other voices. The focus was on invading Iraq and getting rid of Saddam, and after that everything would be fine and dandy." (thanks Ken)
Khalid Saghiyyah says that Walid Jumblat "lost it."
Joseph Samahah at his best. Here, he responds to Minister of Ping Pong (and acting Minister of Interior) Ahmad Fatfat. Kudos Joseph.
From Lebanon on LBC-TV. I have written before about this daily segment on LBC-TV (the station of the right-wing sectarian Christian militia, the Lebanese Forces) which celebrates famous Lebanese and alleged Lebanese like Elia Kazan. Yesterday, it was the "famous" hip hop singer Masari. Who? Masari. According to LBC-TV this Lebanese-Canadian singer is huge worldwide now. Last year--according to our kooky station--he won the award for "the best video clip" ever, and the following year he was selected as the "best pop singer" anywhere. This is the Lebanonese culture industry poising the minds of the Hummus generations.
Of the eight professors teaching Arabic at Harvard, two are Israelis. Of course, I am against holding the nationality or ethnicity of a candidate for any job against him/her (or for him/her), and I fully trust that Harvard only hires on qualifications, and that Harvard does not regard political matters as relevant. Oh, yeah. And the Harvard Corporation is a very neutral and all matters, especially when it comes to Israel. Oh, yeah.
There have been many Hariri signs in north Lebanon funded and instigated by Hariri Inc in Beirut. Hariri Inc is worried about growing signs of opposition to Hariri Inc in north Lebanon. This sign in Tripoli says: "Sa`d, o our eyes; arm us, and [leave] the rest to us." (thanks Mohamad) None of the Lebanese media printed this sign for some reason.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Kiefer, Anselm, Nero Paints, 1974.
The PA Ministry of Prisoners have calculated that the Israeli occupation state has arrested 700,000 Palestinians since 1967. 10,300 Palestinians remain in Israeli occupation jails.
Not in the US press. An American delegation from the US embassy was planning to visit the village of `Adshit near Nabatiyyah in South Lebanon today. On their way there, (escorted by "elite" US internal security troops, i.e. troops highly trained in serving tea and Hummus to foreign occupiers) the delegation was informed that the people of the region are outraged at the visit, and that the people of `Adshit don't want the American delegation to visit them. The delegation hesitated, and the internal security forces held several journalists who were following the convoy, and then they turned back having learned of Lebanese public opinion what they did not know before.
"US may ban sale of cluster bombs to Israel" (Fat chance).
"The trial of Saddam Hussein descended into farce yesterday as the chief judge was sacked after Iraq's government claimed he had lost his neutrality after stating in court last week that Saddam was not a dictator."
"Former Israel Defense Forces commandos secretly trained Kurdish soldiers in Northern Iraq to protect a new international airport and in counter-terrorism operations, the BBC reported on Tuesday." (Do Kurdish leaders think that these acts will improve Kurdish-Arab ties in the future, especially after US (and Macedonian) occupation soldiers leave Iraq? (thanks Mouin)
Fawwaz Trabulsi reminds the Lebanese of the real nature of the Swiss model.
George W. Bush is not only smart, but he also looks smart.
My mother (a Sunni Muslim from Beirut) has been very supportive of Hasan Nasrallah. During the Israeli war on Lebanon, she would not allow any criticisms of him or of Hizbullah. But this week, my mother has been displeased with Nasrallah. In his invitation for the Friday rally, he referred to "the divine victory." That phrased really bothered my mother. She asked me whether that reveals some hidden religious agenda about Islamizing the Lebanese state.
"A Flight Attendant’s Revenge"
There was a coup in Thailand. I am jealous. Very jealous. When was the last time we had a coup in the Arab world? Wait. We had one in Mauritania and it was pretty lousy. Never mind. Just day dreaming.
Neither Hamas nor Fath issued strong condemnations of the burning of churches in West Bank. But then again: I never had high hopes for either.
Do you have doubts that years from now we will know the full extent of Chirac's corruption and his ties to Arab oil money? He probably started his career accepting bribes of $5 and $10 from oil princes.
My east Canadian univerisities' tour is being rescheduled. Here is some information: "The university administrations across Canada are now copying this system. We have experienced this for the first time all across the board, for the same speaker. In McGill U we have received approvals from both the security and the conference services for our events for October, but the security is still holding the request for your event. At York U, the administration is refusing your event on the ground that the new security assessments need 20 working days in advance of an event. At McMaster, the administration introduced the same system this semester, they kept sending the applications for the approval back to our local asking for missing this or that, since nobody knows what the proses is. So this leaves me with only 2 of the 5 venues booked (Ottawa U and Queens U)..."
There are people who are most unprincipled in this world. Walid Jumblat comes to mind. And Bill Clinton is another. But Yasir `Abd-Rabbuh is one of the most unprinipled Arabs I know. Even when he was assistant secretary-general of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, he was under the tight control of Yasir `Arafat (who killed the cartoonist, Naji Al-`Ali). `Arafat was smart in that he would find the weakest and most corrupt individuals in every Palestinian organization: `Abd-Rabbuh in DFLP, Bassam Abu Sharif in PFLP, etc, and then shower them with perks and luxuries.
How convenient. This should really get the attention and sympathy of the US government. The Yemeni president alleged that the bodyguard of his opponent is a Qa`idah member (and a "big terrorist") who was planning attacks on US targets. He did not tell us how he found out.
"In the few short years since the first shackled Afghan shuffled off to Guantanamo, the U.S. military has created a global network of overseas prisons, its islands of high security keeping 14,000 detainees beyond the reach of established law."

Monday, September 18, 2006

"In the end, it's fitting that Bill Clinton would eulogize Texas ex-Governor Ann Richards for the "big things" she accomplished. Executing 49 people, including two juveniles and two mentally disabled prisoners certainly is "big." Clinton only executed three people as Governor of Arkansas."
Figure at Window, 1925. Dali.
According to a new poll, 66% of Palestinians oppose recognition of Israel.
"An Army specialist who alleges she was sexually harrassed while serving in Iraq faces possible court martial after not returning for second tour."
Today, the Syrian government arrested the director, `Umar Amiralay. The government of Bashshar Al-Asad exhibits a unique combination of oppressiveness and stupidity. Amiralay is best known for his hagiographic film on Rafiq Hariri. How could anybody really support the government of Bashshar Al-Asad. Like Jordan and Egypt: that government should be overthrown, NOW.
Freedom comes to Iraq. Freedom comes to Iraq. Read all about it. The US-run Iraqi government may have achived a new...low. According to one study, 109 journalists sit in Iraqi puppet and US jails in Iraq.
"Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here. According to an ABC News report from last fall, procedures used by C.I.A. interrogators have included forcing prisoners to “stand, handcuffed and with their feet shackled to an eye bolt in the floor for more than 40 hours”; the “cold cell,” in which prisoners are forced “to stand naked in a cell kept near 50 degrees,” while being doused with cold water; and, of course, water boarding, in which “the prisoner is bound to an inclined board, feet raised and head slightly below the feet,” then “cellophane is wrapped over the prisoner’s face and water is poured over him,” inducing “a terrifying fear of drowning.” And bear in mind that the “few bad apples” excuse doesn’t apply; these were officially approved tactics — and Mr. Bush wants at least some of these tactics to remain in use."
Daily Star now publishes op-ed pieces by Robert Hunter. Enough said.
Do you remember when Israeli military claimed that they arrested tens of Hizbullah fighters during the war? Well, they have three. Did the Israeli government tell one truth during the war?
"Canadian police wrongly identified an Ottawa software engineer as an Islamic extremist, prompting U.S. agents to deport him to Syria, where he was tortured, an official inquiry concluded on Monday. Maher Arar, who holds Canadian and Syrian nationality, was arrested in New York in September 2002 and accused of being an al-Qaeda member. In fact, said the judge who led the probe, all the signs point to the fact Arar was innocent."
Spinach linked to Al-Qa`idah. Read all about it.
" Jihad Abu Snaima was just the most recent of more than 37 children and teenagers under 18 killed [out of a total death toll, including militants, of 228] in the operations mounted by the Israeli military in Gaza since 25 June, according to figures from the Palestinian Centre of Human Rights (PCHR)."
"What all of these people have in common is that they are not ordinary illegal immigrants. They were born here, or have lived here for dozens of years, and they have nowhere else to go. However, due solely to bureaucratic reasons, they have no legal status here." Oh, yeah, Haaretz. Solely "bureaucratic reasons." You figured it out, you smart one.
London Times supports the Pope.
"Dubai has sold its soul to globalization like few cities have. A glittering capitalist fantasyland has taken shape at the heart of the Arab world."
The passage of time makes me more--not less--angry at Yasir `Arafat. He did so much damage to the Palestinian cause. He was more harmful to the Palestinian national movement than Hajj Amin Husayni and Ahmad Shuqayri combined. What do you expect from a man who ordered the assassination of a cartoonist?
I remain convinced that the Arab people will not be able to deal with all their challenges (oppression, poverty, Zionism, return of colonial threats and foreign intervention, divisiveness, obscurantism, clerical powers, fundamentalism) without a change of government in Saudi Arabia. It should be the priority of Arab collective action.
Saudi media can't get enough of Iraqi Shi`ite cleric (and a member of the Iyad `Allawi gang--`Allawi being the former puppet prime minister/car bomber/former Saddam's henchman/embezzler-in-Yemen), Iyad Jamal Ad-Din. He (along with Zarqawites) is one of the most effective agitators and promoters of Sunni-Shi`ite discord.
Qasim Qasir is a very well-informed writer on Islamic affairs. I have always urged him to leave Hariri rag, Al-Mustaqbal. Here, he gives a good analysis of the radicalization of Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah.
This article by Hariri vulgar propagandist, Faris Khashshan (only in Lebanon he would be considered a "journalist") proves that Muhsin Ibrahim is close to the stance of Walid Jumblat. Shame on Muhsin Ibrahim.
Our friend, Hanady Salman, writes from South Lebanon. (Hanady ends her article with "We shall not forget; we shall not forgive").
Khalid Saghiyyah on the second-tier leaders of March 14th Movement.
I have commented before about the highly annoying feature in Lebanonese culture according to which everything and everybody is ranked. Today, all Lebanese media are highlighting an item that claims that some European magazine has "selected" the Governor of the Central Bank in Lebanon as "the best governor of a central bank in the world." I rank this story as the silliest story in the world.
Al-Adab magazine has just published its new special issue devoted to the Israeli war on Lebanon. My article in it is titled "Revisiting Conspiracy Theory: Accountability Begins with Rafiq Hariri"
For those who care, I will be on for the whole hour tomorrow (Tuesday) on KQED's Forum program. The topic is the Pope and the Muslim reactions. You may listen live at 9:00AM (Pacific Time).
When Joseph Samahah writes, Angry Arab reads, carefully. Here, he writes about the former leftists and former Arab nationalists in Lebanon.
How Fu'ad Sanyurah (the Pierre Laval of Lebanon) is obstructing the reconstruction of South Lebanon.
Tele-Islamist demagogue, Shaykh Yusuf Qaradawi called for a "rational day of anger" on Friday against the remarks of the Pope. This religious demagogue knows what issues to champion without offending the ruling dynasties of the Gulf region. I did not hear him call for a Day of Anger during the Israeli war on Lebanon. During the war, Qaradawi praised Hasan Nasrallah in Doha and criticized him in Cairo. Qaradawi should be held responsible for any violence that may occur on that day.
The Memo by Tawfiq Tirawi. I am told that Fahmi Huwaydi published in a UAE newspaper (al-Ittihad or Al-Khalij) the text of a memo by Fath's (PA's) intelligence chief in West Bank in which he called on Fath Central Committee members to increase the pressure on Hamas. Can somebody find me the text? thanks.
George Corm on LBC-TV. I watched George Corm on LBC-TV's Naharkum Sa`id. I am biased in favor of Corm: I have always admired his intellect and his principled secularism and anti-Harirism. Corm did an outstanding job, as always; more than any other Lebanese I know, he insisted on deconstructing the rhetoric and terminology of the ruling dynasty in Lebanon. His patience must have been strained to sit across the table from the thick-headed Walid `Abbud (a grandson of the progressive and secular Marun `Abbud, I hear?). But I disagreed with Corm on three points: 1) he said that he adhered first to Lebanese nationalism. I think that we secularists should come to the conclusion that secularism is incompatible with the very existence of the Lebanese entity--which will always be sectarian. We should aim at dissolving Lebanon in a larger Arab (secular) entity (no, not with the current lousy Syrian regime), and any form of Lebanese nationalism is repugnant to me; 2) he was too soft on the fanatical Pope; 3) I also disagree with his opposition to the Cairo Agreement. I in fact call for the restoration of the Cairo Agreement in Lebanon. I firmly believe in the right of the Palestinian resistance movement to operate from all Arab countries. But Corm did an outstanding job in refuting the arguments of Hariri Inc.
"The End of Harirism?" by Husam `Itani.
"When free speech costs a career: How profs' political advocacy outside academia can threaten their success within it." (thanks Mazin)

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Paul Klee, Refuge.
"The U.S. military in Iraq has imprisoned an Associated Press photographer for five months, accusing him of being a security threat but never filing charges or permitting a public hearing."
Those who perpetrated the massacre in Haditha are such nice people after all, argues Time magazine. (thanks Jamal)
"Deadly harvest: The Lebanese fields sown with cluster bombs: Lebanese villagers must risk death in fields 'flooded' with more than a million Israeli cluster bombs - or leave crops to rot"
"Revealed: the tough interrogation techniques the CIA wants to use"

"In the 12th century, Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny, initiated a dialogue with the Islamic world. "I approach you not with arms, but with words," he wrote to the Muslims whom he imagined reading his book, "not with force, but with reason, not with hatred, but with love." Yet his treatise was entitled Summary of the Whole Heresy of the Diabolical Sect of the Saracens and segued repeatedly into spluttering intransigence. Words failed Peter when he contemplated the "bestial cruelty" of Islam, which, he claimed, had established itself by the sword. Was Muhammad a true prophet? "I shall be worse than a donkey if I agree," he expostulated, "worse than cattle if I assent!" Peter was writing at the time of the Crusades. Even when Christians were trying to be fair, their entrenched loathing of Islam made it impossible for them to approach it objectively. For Peter, Islam was so self-evidently evil that it did not seem to occur to him that the Muslims he approached with such "love" might be offended by his remarks. This medieval cast of mind is still alive and well."