Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Correction. While Mr. Bush has been insisting that the US has been "making progress" in Iraq, it was revealed tonight by Dick Cheney on CNN that in fact the US has been making "significant progress" in Iraq.
Even a Zionist fanatic is conceding this point: "Last week the Knesset passed in preliminary reading a law that would require the Jewish National Fund (JNF) to allocate land that it owns only to Jews. Presumably this means that Jews who are not citizens of Israel would qualify, but Israel's Arab citizens would be barred from access to land owned by the JNF. A blatant violation of the norms of democracy."
"New report documents past quarter century of Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians"
"Bulgarian intel chief: Mossad helped free nurses from Libya"
I came across this the other day: "Free competition is the relation of capital to itself as another capital, i.e. it is the real behavior of capital as such...It is not individuals but capital that establishes itself freely in free competition." Karl Marx, The Grundrisse, (London: Harper and Row, 1971), p. 129.
"Compare and contrast. Here is a quote from Condoleezza Rice from almost exactly a year ago"
Corruption of PA in numbers.
This guy misses the era of the crusades, real bad.
"The Jerusalem District Prosecutor's Office decided Tuesday not to indict Border Police officers suspected of being responsible for the January death of 10-year-old Abir Aramin from the West Bank village of Anata near Jerusalem." (thanks Rashid)
The work of Hariri Inc: Al-Qa`idah in Lebanon.
On the sectarian festival in Matn by Khalid Saghiyyah
"When it comes to wages, men ask for more and women end up paying for asking, according to a study published out of Carnegie Mellon University. The study confirms that women still are paid less than men, and they negotiate salary offers less often than men. The study also found that women more often are penalized for trying to negotiate. Just as other researchers before her, economics professor Linda Babcock found that women working full time earn about 77 percent of the salaries of men working full time. When differing professions, education levels and other factors are taken into account, women who work full time and never have taken time off to have children earn about 11 percent less than men with equivalent education and experience."
Iraqi-Communist-Party-for-Bush news: "Iraq's Oil Ministry has directed all its agencies and departments not to deal with the country's oil unions. The unions and Iraq's government, especially the prime minister and oil minister, have been at odds for months now over working conditions and the draft oil law." (thanks S.)
"Israel has come out in support of a multi-billion dollar U.S. arms deal to Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. I can't remember the last time Israel supported a deal like this. Probably because it never has." (thanks Amer)
"Cockerham and his wife, Melissa, 40, were arrested in San Antonio on July 22, and Cockerham's sister, Carolyn Blake, 44, was arrested in Dallas on July 24. John Cockerham is charged with bribery, and all three are accused of conspiracy to launder about $15 million in bribe payments Cockerham allegedly took from at least eight government contractors operating in Iraq and Kuwait."
"A British resident who was seized by the CIA, transported on an "extraordinary rendition" flight and held at a U.S. military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, sharply criticized U.S. and British officials in an interview published on Sunday. Bisher al-Rawi, who moved to England as a teenager after fleeing Saddam Hussein's Iraq, reportedly had served as an intelligence source for MI5, the British domestic spy agency, and had helped it keep track of Abu Qatada, a Muslim cleric in London accused of being Osama bin Laden's "ambassador in Europe." But the MI5 did little to protect Rawi, 39, when the CIA detained him in Gambia in November 2002. He was taken to the U.S. base in Bagram, Afghanistan, and held there for about a month before being transferred to Guantanámo. Rawi was released in March, after more than four years in U.S. captivity." (thanks L)
"Iran and the US are two of only eight countries that have not joined the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw)." (thanks May)
Sexism that Western media don't notice for some reason: "Rabbi Ovadia: 'Women should stick to cooking, sewing'" (thanks Laleh)
"The four men in traditional Arab garb didn't attract the attention of Ahmed Khalil, 27, when he drew near his farm not far from the town of Beit Hanun in northern Gaza. They looked like the vegetable merchants who usually come to buy produce in the early hours of the day. But as soon as they approached, two of them fired at his head with pistols equipped with silencers. He died immediately. The four men, disguised as Palestinians, were members of the most recent death squad formed by the Israeli government in Gaza to eliminate Palestinian fighters. The four thought that Khalil was a member of the resistance movement on his way to carry out an operation against an Israeli target, Israeli military sources later said. The Southern Zone Command of the Israeli army said that the death squad was formed on instructions of the Israeli mini-cabinet." (thanks Yasmine)
"A US court has ruled that it has no jurisdiction to hear a lawsuit accusing Dubai's ruler of enslaving thousands of children to be camel jockeys." (thanks Zacharia)
Sheikh Mo can Use a Cellphone: and Dubai has "no politics"--whatever that means. Afshin Molavi: I read a lot of propagandistic fluff pieces on Dubai in the Arabic and Western press, but this by far is the worst I have read. Full of cliches and devoid of substance. It could have easily been written by many of the PR firms that are hired by Sheikh Mo to improve his image. And was it not reliable that everybody you interviewed (two the three businessmen interviewed were my classmates in Beirut) to talk about your idol is a businessman--you don't seem interested in talking to women--with interests in Dubai? That would really complete the full picture of the Shaykh. And then you say: "From his offices on the 44th floor of a sleek steel-and-glass skyscraper, he juggles nonstop cell-phone calls and dashes off salvos of quick-fingered text messages. "Sorry," he says with a wan smile to a visiting reporter. "It's a very busy time."" What? You were impressed that your Shaykh can use a cellphone? Get him a blender next time as a reward. And I know that you like cliches but what is this about Dubai being "not political"? "In a region where everything is political, Dubai's greatest distinction—and the secret of its prosperity—is that it is almost utterly apolitical." What does that mean? So when Rice summoned the chiefs of the security services--you don't seem to know that there is a very robust intelligence service in UAE to the point that people on the phone don't refer to Sheikh Mo by his name but they give him a fictitious Western name--to meet with here, and one of them was from UAE, was non-politics discussed? And the close security-military role of UAE (and Dubai in particular) in the region in support of US, is that also non-politics? Also, you really did not even need to mention in passing the mistreatment of Asian workers: that was as token as it gets. And unlike any expert in the world, Afshin declares this: "The negative publicity has helped improve the treatment of laborers somewhat." No evidence is given but probably Afshin did research on that in the few days he spent there. Maybe he asked Sheikh Mo, and Mo told him that it has improved. If this article was a job application for a PR role for Sheikh Mo, you got the job Afshin.
"The Lebanese al-Akhbar daily reported that a “semi-official” autonomous government was announced yesterday in Southern Iraq. The paper said that “over 40 tribal chiefs from the provinces of Basra, Nasiriya, 'Amara and Samawa” have signed an agreement announcing the birth of a “self-ruling government” in the Shi'a-dominated southern provinces; and released a statement signed by “the administration of the autonomous government of the South.”"
"New US legislation will eliminate need for visa for Israeli tourists wishing to enter US for three months or less."
"In a briefing with reporters, Burns said that such security assistance "is very much in our national interest" because it strengthens America's allies in the region and helps them counter the threat of terrorism and an increasingly ambitious Iran. He added that the arms would be "for defensive purposes - most of it.""
"Pentagon was trying to ease Israeli concerns about the arms deal to Riyadh by asking the Saudis to accept "restrictions on the range, size and location of the satellite-guided bombs," including a commitment not to store the weapons at air bases close to Israeli territory."
Today, Carlos Iddi (the "dean" of the National Bloc party) declared the support of his party for Amin Gemayyel in the by-election in Matn. He further called on the two members of the party in Matn to vote for Gemayyel.
"The report, written by U.S. advisers to Iraq's anti-corruption agency, analyzes corruption in 12 ministries and finds devastating and grim problems: "Corruption protected by senior members of the Iraqi government," the report said, "remains untouchable.""
""These exorbitant arms sales should be read as a last-ditch effort by the Bush administration to keep matters stable for the tyrannies of the region and to reward those who stood with him in his unending wars," said As'ad Abukhalil, an expert on Saudi Arabia based at California State University at Stanislaus."

Monday, July 30, 2007

Rules of Engagement. "In the Haditha cases, where enlisted Marines are charged with murder, defense attorneys assert their clients were following the rules of engagement when they shot 24 Iraqi civilians, including women and children..."
"The number of Iraqi children who are born underweight or suffer from malnutrition has increased sharply since the US-led invasion, according to a report by Oxfam and a network of about 80 aid agencies. The report describes a nationwide catastrophe, with around 8 million Iraqis - almost a third of the population - in need of emergency aid. Many families have dropped out of the food rationing system because they have been displaced by fighting and sectarian conflict. Others suffer from the collapse in basic services caused by the exodus of doctors and hospital staff."
"But ironically, his breakthrough film internationally was a comedy - Smiles of a Summer Night."
Who is scaring whom? A Palestinian kid facing Israeli occupation soldiers who are destroying an Arab house near Jerusalem.
Guess who suddenly discovered the Israeli lobby? The Saudi media. Only when it comes to arms sales to Guly dynasties, do those governments express concerns over the Israeli lobby. Al-Watan is displeased that the Israeli lobby is not supporting arms sales to the Kingdom. Let me assure the Saudi dynasty that the lobby will wind up supporting the sales to reward House of Saud for...bad behavior.
Hamas bans Fath's newspapers in Gaza, and Fath bans Hamas newspapers in West Bank. The Palestinian people deserve so much better than those two.
""The magic number was 30," said Marc Garlasco, who was the Pentagon's chief of high-value targeting at the start of the war. "That means that if you hit 30 as the anticipated number of civilians killed, the airstrike had to go to Rumsfeld or Bush personally to sign off." If the expected number of civilian deaths was less than 30, however, neither the president nor the secretary of defense needed to know." (thanks Zakaria)
The internet has done some harm to political analysis and discourse in the Arab (and other) media. Every time somebody has some kooky theory to share, he/she needs only to say "it is on the internet" (or "Inturnet" in Egyptian accent).
Watching Arab media. Do feel my pain as I watch and report to you on Arab media? Just now Al-Arabiya TV ran a flash. I thought it must be an urgent matter. I shall translate: "The Saudi King sent a telegram congratulating the Iraqi president on the victory of the Iraqi soccer team."
Talk for Women. Don't you hate it when sexists try to talk about women's issues, and to present their own version of what they think is feminism? There is a new talk show on women on NBN-TV by the highly incompetent Su'ad Qarut Al-`Ashshi. She talks about women's issues in the most patronizing and condescending way. Every time I see the promo of the show, I yell a few words in Arabic.
I never say this but...YOU HAVE TO READ THIS ARTICLE IN FULL. "Hamas leaders say they acquired thousands of paper files, computer records, videos, photographs and audio recordings containing valuable and potentially embarrassing intelligence information gathered by Fatah. For more than a decade, Fatah operated a vast intelligence network in Gaza established under the tutelage of the Central Intelligence Agency....Michael Scheuer, a former top CIA counterterrorism analyst who left the agency in 2004, said the U.S. had provided the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority with "substantial help" in training as well as computers, other equipment and analytical tools. Other former intelligence officials confirmed that the U.S. gave Fatah-controlled services sophisticated intelligence-gathering equipment, including eavesdropping technology, though these officials wouldn't provide more precise details about the technology. This kind of technology, along with the knowledge it yields, is broadly known in intelligence circles as "Sigint," which is shorthand for "signals intelligence." It can include eavesdropping equipment, devices used for intercepting radio, microwave and telephone communications and telemetry technology that allows the user to pinpoint the location of someone holding a communication device, such as a cellphone. "The United States invested a lot of effort in setting up this system in Gaza -- construction, equipment, training… filings, the logistics, the transportation. It was a big operation, and it's now in the hands of the other side," said Efraim Halevy, who formerly headed both the Mossad, which is Israel's foreign-intelligence agency, and Israel's National Security Council...Avi Dichter, Israel's public-security minister and the former head of Shin Bet, the domestic intelligence-and-counterterrorism agency, also said he didn't want to overemphasize the potential benefits to Hamas. But he confirmed that the Islamist group seized Sigint technology and expertise during its Gaza sweep. He declined to provide specifics, but said it had been provided by the Americans, the British and the French....Mr. Hayya alleges that while many officials from Arab and Muslim nations knew Mr. Dahlan was cooperating with U.S. intelligence agencies inside the Palestinian territories, many of those same leaders "are going to be amazed and surprised when they discover had actually worked against them for the Americans." He wouldn't directly answer a question about which nations were allegedly being spied on, but he said Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had the most to be concerned about from potential disclosures....This includes circumstantial evidence that he was personally targeted in an Israeli assassination attempt after he was fingered by Fatah intelligence officers as a top security threat. After taking over Gaza, Mr. Hayya said Hamas recovered notes from a meeting of senior Palestinian Authority intelligence officials in which they discussed Mr. Hayya's value to the Islamist group. On May 20, less than a week after the meeting, an Israeli missile was fired into his home, killing eight people. Mr. Hayya was en route at the time, but says the strike came about five minutes after his 35-year-old cousin, Ibrahim, entered the home. The Hamas leader said he and his cousin look very similar. "They thought it was me," he said. A spokeswoman for the Shin Bet declined to comment." (thanks G.)
"It blew the whole town away,' said Randy Bernett, a partner at Katy's, which served King Abdullah a breakfast of pancakes and mixed fruit. Abdullah and about 10 Harley riders then left for a ride down the Big Sur coast. The king's visit was meant to be low-profile, said a Jordanian consulate official, though it's rather difficult to remain incognito in the small city of Carmel when your entourage includes a host of Secret Service agents, members of the royal guard, a California Highway Patrol escort and a lineup of black SUVs. Bernett said Abdullah and his group arrived at the restaurant about 10:45 a.m. Wednesday. An advance team had arrived earlier to make certain that the seating arrangement was correct and to clear out the restaurant. Would-be diners of lesser royalty were asked to wait outside until the king arrived, but were allowed in when Abdullah was seated, Bernett said, who added the king apparently picked Katy's 'at the recommendation of a good friend.'" (thanks Nader)
"The soldiers on remand are also being investigated for fabricating a coordinated story of the events: They said one of the soldiers was wounded in the foot and they therefore stopped the cab. They also said they shot at the Palestinian because they mistook him for a fugitive." (thanks Sellam)
"The Iraqi captain, who like the rest of the team wore black armbands to remember the dozens killed by car-bombers following the side's semi-final victory over South Korea on Wednesday, said the United States presence in his homeland was a "problem". "I want America to go out," he said. "Today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, but out. I wish the American people didn't invade Iraq and hopefully it will be over soon.""
Do you notice this in the US and Saudi media? How they are treating the victory of the Iraqi soccer team as it is a validation of the Bush doctrine? We will live to a day when countries are invaded under the pretext of improving the performance of their soccer teams.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

"Iraq: One in seven joins human tide spilling into neighbouring countries"
"He also says that "the committee is investigating on behalf of the PA the failure of Fatah"
"Israel signs off on U.S. arms sale to Saudis"
"Ashraf Alhajouj, 38, said he was beaten, held in cages with police dogs and given electric shocks, including to his private parts. He said that he and the nurses were sometimes put together naked in the same room and tortured...He said he saw the women being raped and watched as one of them broke a piece of glass from the window and cut her wrists when she could not bear it any longer."
""This administration does not have an arms sales policy, except to sell, sell, sell," said Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association. "That approach in the Middle East can be like throwing gasoline on a brush fire.""
" I believe that Israel's rebirth in 1948 was divinely inspired by God" (thanks May)
"In this regard, information strategists can consider clandestinely recruiting or hiring prominent bloggers or other persons of prominence already within the target nation, group or community to pass the U.S. message. . . . Sometimes numbers can be effective; hiring a block of bloggers to verbally attack a specific person or promote a specific message may be worth considering." (thanks Laleh)
Amin Gemayyl promised to not exploit the death of his son in his political campaign for the parliamentary seat in Matn.
Yesterday, I posted a comment on Clovis Maqsud. In a phone call, Maqsud denied ever having been a member of the Phalanges Party. I was asked for my source. Here it is: It is listed in his bio on page 127 in Kemal Karpat, ed., Political and Social Thought in the Contemporary Middle East, (NY: Praeger, 1982). It says: that Clovis "was a member of the Lebanese Phalanx and subsequently joined the Arab Nationalist Bloc..."
The White Man is concerned about Africa after all.
Let me make this prediction. Sports teams of countries with governments submissive to the US will be miraculously winning more games in the near future. In fact, with the new Salam Fayyad government, I would not be surprised if a Palestinian team wins the World Series. And it would not be surprised if Fu'ad Sanyurah is declared the world heavy weight champion of boxing, and if the Saudi King wins a gold medal in high jumping.
Today, in his report on New TV, Riyaq Qubaysi talked about the flourishing of Baghdad during Umayyad and Abbasid times. Tell Mr. Qubaysi that Baghdad was not founded until after the end of the Umayyad dynasty.
This only proves my theory: that public opinion is fickle, ill-informed, malleable, naive, gullible, and shifty. "Americans’ support for the initial invasion of Iraq has risen somewhat as the White House has continued to ask the public to reserve judgment about the war until at least the fall."
Some of those who claim to be most sensitive about anti-Semitism are the most insensitive--no, most bigoted--about matters relating to Islam and Arabs. Look at this trash.
"The administration began by dismissing the misconduct at Abu Ghraib as the work of what President Bush called “a few American troops.” The bad-apple defense quickly crumbled, though, with the leak of government memorandums authorizing the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” These new methods were specifically sanctioned for members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda being held at Guantánamo Bay, who the administration determined were not entitled to Geneva Conventions protections. But it is not difficult to draw a line from Camp Delta to Abu Ghraib. In August 2003, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the commander of the joint task force at Guantánamo, was dispatched to the Iraqi prison — formerly Saddam Hussein’s favorite torture chamber — to make it a more effective laboratory for producing intelligence that might help defeat the insurgency. In Iraq, the use of harsh interrogation techniques required the signature of a superior officer, though that was apparently not much of a deterrent. “I never saw a sheet that wasn’t signed,” McKelvey quotes one interrogator as saying."
"“Driven Out” cites records of more than 100 roundups, pogroms, expulsions and ethnic cleansings (to use Pfaelzer’s various terms for these actions) in which white Westerners united to drive the Chinese out of their communities from 1850 to 1906. They used warnings, arson, boycotts and violence to achieve their goal. In many circumstances, labor organizations led the campaigns, casting the Chinese as competitors for jobs and depressors of wages. But middle-class civic leaders often acted in alliance with workers."
Kooky. (Click to enlarge NOW).
"Members of Congress vowed yesterday to oppose any deal to Saudi Arabia on grounds that the kingdom has been unhelpful in Iraq and unreliable at fighting terrorism."
My willingness to accept conspiracy theories is such these days that I would not be surprised if the victory of the Iraqi soccer team in the Asian games was arranged for political reasons.
The Sound of Music. Yesterday, I heard songs from Sound of Music while I was driving. It was the first movie I ever saw as a child. I remember leaving the theater with a crush on every single female in the movie--at least in that family. You know the story in Lou Cannon's biography of Ronald Reagan? There was an important summit between Reagan and the Soviet leader at the time, so James Baker pressed on Reagan the need to read the briefing book. The next morning, Baker sees Reagan and asked him whether he read the briefing book. Reagan said: [No but] Sound of Music was on TV last night! (In the US, the incompetence and know-nothingness of US presidents are seen as charming and cute.)
The most grotesque aspect of Lebanese politics is the monthly proclamations by the Sunni, Maronite, and Shi`ite clerical councils. It used to be a feature of the Maronite bishops but the virus has now spread to all sects. I can't believe how more and more sectarian becomes. Today, I heard a once-decent man, Nasib Lahhud (who used to speak against sectarianism), say the following: "Whatever the Maronite Patriarch designs, we will wear." Lebanon needs a dosage of the secularism of Turkish generals (no, I don't support Turkish generals who are quite fascistic but allow me to make my point).
"Oil-rich Iran turns heat on President over petrol rationing"
This is about the guy who sponsored Muhammad Dahlan: "Fayad, a U.S.-educated economist who enjoys international respect for fighting corruption and implementing reforms, presented the platform to Abbas on Thursday."
"Olmert welcomes 'significant' boost in U.S. military aid." Abu Mazen agreed.
"Saudi authorities call on soccer fans not to celebrate possible victory in the streets" (They just lost).
Arms as diplomacy: "The Bush administration is expected to announce a massive series of arms deals in the Middle East tomorrow that are being seen as part of a diplomatic offensive against the growing influence of Iran in the volatile region."
"The Second Intifada against Israel is over, they say. Now, Fatah must focus its energy against its domestic threat, Hamas....Furthermore, there has been another significant development in the ties between Israel and the PA, although it has been kept under wraps from the media. For the first time in years, the Shin Bet is making use of intelligence it receives from the PA's security organizations, information it uses against terrorists in the West Bank." (thanks Naseer)
"Grab some olive oil and roll up your sleeves, because Israel's best food recipes are now revealed in Janna Gur's fresh cookbook, The Book of New Israeli Food." I bet that they are all Israeli dishes, like Hummus and Falafil and Baba Ghannuj and Shawirma. (thanks Wally)
"Petraeus, who says their ties are "very good," acknowledges expressing his "full range of emotions" at times with al-Maliki. U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who meets with both at least weekly, concedes "sometimes there are sporty exchanges."'" (thanks Wissam)
"USAID is working very closely with the U.S. Security Coordinator on vital infrastructure and security upgrades on the Palestinian-side of the Karni/al-Mintar cargo crossing. This work, which we expect to begin very soon, includes constructing large roads, primary and secondary inspection areas...The activities will improve
physical security at the Karni crossing, while addressing Israeli security concerns and boosting cargo throughput to target levels in the Agreement on Movement and Access." (thanks Yasmine)
"Three Arab princesses were thrown off a packed British Airways flight after refusing to sit next to male passengers they didn't know....Three Arab princesses were thrown off a packed British Airways flight after refusing to sit next to male passengers they didn't know."
"According to both administration and congressional officials (anonymous when discussing such issues), the White House and intelligence czar's office are now urgently trying to negotiate a legal fix with Congress that would make it easier for NSA to eavesdrop on e-mails and phone calls where all parties are located outside the U.S., even if at some point the message signal crosses into U.S. territory."

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Clovis Maqsud started his political life as a Phalangist. I hope that he does not return to Phalangism at this point in his life.
When Omar Sharif was at his prime in Hollywood in the 1960s, he was more than willing to bash Arabs and Muslims. Out of a job in Hollywood, Sharif is now back in Egypt doing TV serials and movies. He has been more than willing to bash Westerners. This is a man who can't be trusted on anything.
Adam Ereli, former State Department spokesperson and ambassador to Bahrain, was on Al-Ittijah Al-Mu`akis. It was from two weeks ago but I just watched today. Ereli looked good--as good as that guy who lasted for 30 seconds with Mike Tyson before he knocked him unconscious. Usually, Ereli is very arrogant in his appearances but not this time. At least he did not speak in Arabic--somebody must have told him that his Arabic is incomprehensible. At one point, the host, Faysal Al-Qasim, asked him a simple question about an article in the Independent about oil in Iraq. Ereli told him that the Independent newspaper is not good enough for him to wipe his nose "after" he sneezes, as he said. That is the level of US discourse in Arab media by Mr. Ereli (Later Ereli explained that his comment was really about that particular article and not about the whole newspaper.) The other guest was the demagogue MIsh`an Jabburi. I swear to you that early after the American invasion of Iraq, Jabburi (a former Saddam man) used to appear on AlJazeera to defend to the war and occupation, and now he appears to defend the resistance.
The French foreign minister is visiting Lebanon. A reporter asked him a serious question about what France was really doing to help Lebanon. He answered her by telling her that "she is pretty" and that he salutes her. Can you imagine if an Arab minister did something like that? Can you imagine the hue and cry from Western (colonial) feminism? Of course, Western colonial feminism does not even notice sexism and misogyny in Western societies.
The US is financing and arming Sunni and Shi`ite sectarian militias and then wondering why there is sectarian warfare in Iraq. "The U.S. military in Iraq is expanding its efforts to recruit and fund armed Sunni residents as local protection forces in order to improve security and promote reconciliation at the neighborhood level, according to senior U.S. commanders."
Sudan version of the Muslim Brotherhood. The head of the Muslim Brotherhood in Sudan was on Ziyarah Khassah on AlJazeera. The guy was so out of it that he reminded me of the theories that were popularized by King Faysal of Saudi Arabia. He said--actually said--that he is opposed to the inoculation of Sudanese children against diseases because he believes that "Jews and Freemasons" have devious plots from those medical procedures. When the patient host, Sami Kulayb, asked him for any evidence, he said that he saw that on the internet--I kid you not. Kulayb later said that he did not challenge the guest because it serves no purpose. I disagree.
"It is time for this chaos to end and for people to use popular means to achieve their goals,” Nimer Hammad, a senior Abbas aide, said." What is popular, O Mr. Hammad? Is the corruption of Fath popular? Is the performance of collaborationists in Fath gangs popular? Who defines what is popular? And is "an aide" to Abbas different from "an aide" to Zarqawi?
New TV has been advertising this competition for the "best" Nabtean poem. The theme has to include a denunciation of terrorism. I don't know who is funding this context, but the prize is "a cool"--whatever that means, I hear that in movies-- $1 million. I am entering this contest. I wrote this poem (this is a translation), let me know what you think. Do I have a chance of winning?
"I hate terrorism. Terrorism is no good. Terrorism is bad, very bad. Bad. Bad. Cha cha cha."
What gives? Today, the sectarian Amal's movement TV, NBN, reported that "the Lebanese Army has made slow progress" in Nahr Al-Barid. The coverage of NBN is quite nauseating. As if the Amal's war on the camps in the 1980s (with the full support of the Syrian regime) was not enough.
The revolt of the thirsty in Egypt. (thanks Hicham)
Muhammad Habash versus Jamal Khashuqji: Is Bin Laden a Takfiri? LBC-TV's Kalam An-Nas (the episode from previous week) featured Syrian (rubber stamp) MP, Muhammad Habash (one of the most effective and articulate propagandists/advocates of the Syrian regime) against Saudi propagandist, Jamal Khashuqji (like many present-day Saudi "liberals" he was a former staunch Bin Ladenite). Habash won the day hands down. At one point, when Khashuqji was blaming Syrian for the the infiltration of fanatical fighters from Syria, Habash had to remind him of the history of Saudi sponsorship of those takfiri groups (Habash also indirectly bragged of the Hamah massacre in 1982). He also brought up the fact how Saudi government used to even pay for the plane tickets of those who wanted to fight in Afghanistan, and join those non-liberal groups there. He told him that Saudi Arabia created "the Afghan Arabs." At that point, Khashuqji would only say that "but these were not takfiris." Habash retorted: Are you saying that Bin Laden and Al-Qa`idah are not takfiris??
If you criticize or oppose the sectarian Shi`ite militias that rule Iraq, they accuse you of sympathy for Saddam--who is dead.
Her grandson was killed by Israeli occupation soldiers. (AFP)
Arab royal families may not care--don't care--about the plight of their people or about the plight of Palestine or Iraq or Darfur, but they care about this: "The leader of the party, said to be a member of the ruling al-Thani family, was reportedly appalled to find his wives had been seated elsewhere and, in each case, alongside an unknown male passenger."
Fath: the Gangs of Israeli occupation. "Senior UN officials reported Friday that the Palestinian representatives have been relentlessly operating in recent days to foil an initiative ultimately aimed at issuing a Security Council presidential statement criticizing the situation in the Gaza Strip." (thanks Lisette)
"The Israeli and Egyptian proposals would lock in U.S. commitments for the next 10 years. The total for Israel would rise from $2.4 billion to about $3 billion a year, and Egypt would continue to receive $1.3 billion a year."
"US accuses Saudis of telling lies about Iraq"
"Although gender-based abortion is illegal, parents are choosing to abort female foetuses in such large numbers that experts estimate India has lost 10 million girls in the past 20 years. In the 12 years since selective abortion was outlawed only one doctor has been convicted of the crime."
A friend sent me this from Jordan: " I thought you might enjoy these images of the full page ads Abu Ghazaleh is placing in the newspapers here on a regular basis. Note the reference to "unconstitutional and unlawful" practices. This is significant because it is widely believed and understood that the king himself has a major investment in the Abdali project along with
Hariri Inc. Abu Ghazaleh is attracting support because the sorts of practices he is resisting are seen as widespread as the economy and public property undergo massive and non-transparent privatization."
"The Bush administration is preparing to ask Congress to approve an arms sale package for Saudi Arabia and its neighbors that is expected to eventually total $20 billion at a time when some United States officials contend that the Saudis are playing a counterproductive role in Iraq. The proposed package of advanced weaponry for Saudi Arabia, which includes advanced satellite-guided bombs, upgrades to its fighters and new naval vessels, has made Israel and some of its supporters in Congress nervous. Senior officials who described the package on Friday said they believed that the administration had resolved those concerns, in part by promising Israel $30.4 billion in military aid over the next decade, a significant increase over what Israel has received in the past 10 years." (Is it not cute that the NYT offers a comparison to aid to Israel?) (thanks Wissam)
"The US House of Representatives appropriations committee nearly doubled American funding for Israel's Arrow and short-range missile defense programs this week, bringing the 2008 total to $150 million. The amount is not only more than last year's $135 million, but comes earlier in the budget process, holding out the expectation that the allocation will be increased considerably more by the Senate before the final bill is voted on in the fall."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Speaking on behalf of the innocent children still stuck in Nahr Al-Barid.
Among the accomplishments of Ahmad Fatfat: "Participating, attending and giving lecture in the Conference of the Health- Tourism in Lebanon."
(He forgot to list among his "accomplishments" this: Inviting, funding, and sponsoring a variety of fakfiri fanatics in the hope of boosting my popularity in the North.)
Abu Mazen appointed a Fath committee to investigate...Fath in Gaza. The committee submitted its report today. It basically concluded that Fath has been making progress in both Gaza and West Bank.
"State restrictions on use of the Internet have spread to more than 20 countries that use catch-all and contradictory rules to help keep people off line and stifle feared political opposition, a new report says. In "Governing the Internet", the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) presented case studies of Web censorship in Kazakhstan and Georgia and referred to similar findings in nations from China to Iran, Sudan and Belarus."
I saw a handful of people protesting the Army's assault on Nahr Al-Barid. Was it me or the New TV report showed the group to be mostly Westerners? I salute them all. The reporter, Christine Habib, looked as it she was ready to hit the demonstrators.
When you hear references to "elite force" or "special forces" or "commandos" of the Lebanese Army, don't you feel like laughing? I unfailingly do.
I swear that I don't make those up. Al-Arabiya TV started the newscast by quoting a Lebanese Army source who asserted that the Army is "making progress" in Nahr Al-Barid.
"David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, signally distanced himself from recent US calls for direct military action against Pakistan-based Islamists today on a visit to Islamabad." (His father was a famous Marxist intellectual and David used to be critical of Israel prior to assuming his post. I am told that he is anti-Zionist in private).
In his last interview with AlJazeera, Hasan Nasrallah said that Syria was planning to go to war with Israel if Israel were to move troops in the `Arqub region. Sure. But the Asad regime (father and son) has been asserting since 1973 that it alone chooses "the time and place of the battle" with Israel. So the battle could erupt any day...in Belgium.
I was jealous. Today I read that NYC has 52 public swimming pools. There is not a single one in Beirut. In fact, Rafiq Hariri--who only deserves scorn and contempt for the harm that he has done to the people of Lebanon, Syria and Palestine (he also was involved in shady deals with Iyad `Allawi in Iraq) was planning to privatize the entire coast in Lebanon, and he succeeded in privatizing most of the beaches in Beirut.
This is explosive. Rafiq Hariri confidante, MP Bahij Tabbarah who has been boycotting the meetings of Hariri bloc of 8 months, gives an interview to Al-Afkar (they have a lousy website so I will not link) in which he criticizes the "deviation" in the Hariri camp, and criticizes the position of mini-Hariri during the Israeli war on Lebanon. Tabbarah and his wife, as is well-known, are very close to Nazik Hariri.
This is an actual headline from a Lebanonese newspaper: "The Army rejects initiatives that denigrate the sacrifices and prepares to celebrate its victory in 'Al-Barid'". (thanks Toufic)
"As the Bush administration struggles to convince lawmakers that its Iraq war strategy is working, it has stopped reporting to Congress a key quality-of-life indicator in Baghdad: how long the power stays on."
This is not my actual computer. My real laptop is in repair so I am using my super cute (but super small) travel laptop. Can you tell? No way. When you think of it: how much we are dependent on those computers. I typed my MA thesis on a type writer and you had to retype it again for corrections and changes--I still am grateful for my then adviser, Rashid Khalidi, who urged me to learn typing if I wanted to go to graduate school. I went to a typing school in Beirut: and sexism was overt: there were all women (wanting to be secretaries) and my friend and I were the only males.
"Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev criticized the United States, and President Bush in particular, on Friday for sowing disorder across the world by seeking to build an empire. Gorbachev, who presided over the break-up of the Soviet Union, said Washington had sought to build an empire after the Cold War ended but had failed to understand the changing world. “The Americans then gave birth to the idea of a new empire, world leadership by a single power, and what followed?” Gorbachev asked reporters at a news conference in Moscow."
"Palestinian president for Fatah says he will change electoral rules next week to hamper Hamas' ability to win parliament majority in elections. Abbas welcomes new 'seriousness' in Israeli approach to negotiations, swears he will not speak to Hamas until they've 'apologized to the Palestinian people'"
"Now, Bush administration officials are voicing increasing anger at what they say has been Saudi Arabia’s counterproductive role in the Iraq war. They say that beyond regarding Mr. Maliki as an Iranian agent, the Saudis have offered financial support to Sunni groups in Iraq. Of an estimated 60 to 80 foreign fighters who enter Iraq each month, American military and intelligence officials say that nearly half are coming from Saudi Arabia and that the Saudis have not done enough to stem the flow." (thanks Wissam)
"Two former employees of First Kuwaiti Trading and Contracting, the company that's building the new $592 million U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, testified to a House of Representatives panel Thursday that they'd observed abuses of construction workers." (thanks Amina)
This is where the Ta`awuniyyah area used to be in Nahr Al-Barid camp. Lebanon and its army should never be forgiven for this. March 8 AND March 14 movements both covered up and legitimized the slaughter and destruction. (thanks LS)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I never thought that somebody can be as lame and as vapid and as boring as Queen Noor. I was wrong.
"Saudi Arabia's top cleric on Thursday defended the country's powerful religious police in the face of increasing complaints of malpractice and brutality, warning that critics are spreading moral corruption."
"Palestinian security organizations loyal to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas have transferred information on terrorist plots in the West Bank to Israel, security sources said. The information served Israeli security services in countering plans to carry out terrorist attacks."
There is nothing like the truthful Arab media. Here, the Syrian government claims that the explosion in Aleppo was due to "hot temperature."
The Palestinian doctor released from Libyan jails says that "we were treated like animals."
"In April 2002, with no other company offered the chance to bid, Blackwater was given a $5.4 million contract to provide 20 guards for the new CIA station in Kabul. At $270,000 per guard, for six months, they didn’t come cheap. A pattern of high value, no-bid mercenary contracts was set, leading to a current contract portfolio Scahill estimates at more than half a billion dollars. When the government first put Blackwater on its approved list of contractors in 2000, it anticipated doing $125,000 worth of business with the company over five years. In fact, it did well over $100 million. Much of the increase was due to Iraq. One of Blackwater’s contracts was to protect the US proconsul in Baghdad, Paul Bremer. Just before leaving Iraq, Bremer promulgated a decree giving the occupation’s private contractors immunity from Iraqi law ‘with respect to acts performed by them pursuant to the terms and conditions of a contract’." (thanks May)
"The Rendition of Abu Omar" (thanks Laleh)
"Hannity & Colmes previewed debate by suggesting Arabic-language school would be "madrassa"" (Thanks Marc)
Rami Khuri on Future TV. I watch the weekly program Transit on Future TV. Its host, Najat Sharaf Ad-Din is one of the few serious reporters on Hariri TV. Her program is devoted to media coverage, although her small segments that intend to be fake imitations of Jon Stewart will make you cringe because they are not only unfunny, but are quite annoying and obnoxious. But she hosts a decent program on that lousy channel. On today's episode, she had Ghassan Bin Jiddu and Rami Khuri. In the course the program, Khuri tried to explain to the Lebanese that Lebanon is quite secondary in US policy, and that it is merely used for the primary US policy toward the neighbors of Lebanon. It is very important that the Lebanese know that, although I doubt that they will because many Lebanese are still being told from infancy that their Cedars and Hummus are at the center of the universe.
The Lebanon of LBC-TV is a Lebanon that I am most estranged from, most alienated from, and am most opposed to. If you enjoy the political and entertainment programs of LBC-TV it is a sure sign that you are somebody that I can never get along with.
Anwar Raja believes that the conditions in Lebanon today may permit the perpetration of a massacre in the refugee camps.
A documentary on the '67 war has aired on AlJazeera. In it, Israeli intelligence released an audio tape of a phone conversation between Nasser and King Husayn. I can't judge the authenticity but it sounded like Nasser. (Kamal should offer an opinion on the matter ASAP). But Nasser does not come across well at all in the conversation: he comes across as manipulative, deceptive, and tricky. (Especially that Egyptian accounts on the private deliberations of Nasser and his aides during the war indicate that Nasser was angry at `Amir's attempt to claim that Egypt lost the war due to intervention by US forces. Nasser reportedly asked `Amir for evidence, while Nasser in the phone conversation is heard seeking to falsely claim that US and British planes were involved in the war.)
PS For me the unforgivable sin of Nasser is the 1967 war.
""Faconnable represents for us the cornerstone in the development of our strategy aimed at investing in luxury products with a big potential for growth," Mikati said. Nordstrom purchased Faconnable for $169 million in 2000. The line has been sold in the U.S. at Nordstrom stores and Nordstrom-operated Faconnable boutiques since 1989, where it became one of the company's top-selling labels."
The Jordanian Mukhabarat.
"I have covered the Christian right intensely for over four years. During this time, I attended dozens of Christian right conferences, regularly monitored movement publications and radio shows, and interviewed scores of its key leaders. I have never witnessed any spectacle as politically extreme, outrageous, or bizarre as the one Christians United for Israel produced last week in Washington. See for yourself." (thanks Max)
"Turkish ambassador to Israel says, 'We see Israel as the country we trust most, elections haven't changed a thing'" (thanks KB)
Some questions regarding the Latest Pew Global Poll. I have been reading and thinking about this Pew global poll for the last two days. I shared with a handful of friends/colleagues to see their opinion too. We all seem to be skeptical--I am talking about the Middle East section. Don't get me wrong. I think it is not necessarily intentional, but there are serious problems. When Americans take their polls and surveys overseas, problems arise (in translation and in methodology). My best example is from one massive study by University of Michigan's Ronald Inglehart who has done more global surveys than anybody. But in his massive book, Human Values, which contains the results of global surveys, people were asked how they feel about having Muslims as their neighbors. According to the study, more than 90% of people in Turkey said that they would not like to have Muslims as neighbors. That leads you to believe that some misunderstanding, or mistranslation happened along the way. Many questions (like ones about suicide bombings) don't translate and the methodology needs to have section for the language of each region or country. I want to know how questions were translated. It says that in the section on Lebanon questions were asked in Arabic, (and in French and Arabic in Morocco). Who did that? Some of the polls are subcontracted, and some polling firms in Lebanon (from either side) can obtain the results that you want. If I compare the survey with all surveys in Lebanon, it just does not make sense, especially about attitudes to Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah, Hizbullah, etc. Of course, there is no unanimity on those issues, but the results just don't make sense. On Palestine, Ali for example observed to me: "As for the finding that only 60% of Palestinians see Israel as the greatest threat. I think that is just bizarre. I have no idea what that is measuring." And what really aroused my suspicion are attitudes to Saudi Arabia and King Abdullah. And when ask about attitudes to Saudi Arabia: how do they phrase the question? The words "favorable" and "unfavorable" don't translate easily into Arabic. Do people think of Aljazirah (as in historic Arabia) or do they think of the government? I just came back from Pakistan (can I tell you about my experience with lizards there?) and I can categorically tell you that I don't believe that a mere 9% of people in Pakistan support suicide bombings. I told you that I felt strong negative vibe in the audience when I spoke in a relatively moderate Muslim audience (at the Institute of Policy Studies in Islamabad) against suicide bombings. It was clear to me at least there is a sense of a near unanimous support for them. Also compare the results with the result of a 2002 poll by Pew in Pakistan. I also find it hard to believe that there is more support for suicide bombings in Jordan and Nigeria than in Lebanon. Take the issue of attitude to Bin Laden. Some 38% of people in Pakistan express confidence in Bin Laden, and yet only 9% find suicide bombings (the specialty of Al-Qa`idah) to be justifiable? Does not make sense there. I also believe having read the methodology that the fact that the poll was conducted in face-to-face interviews mars and distorts the results. People in those countries are less--far less--to express themselves freely when they are talking to a group of strangers asking them questions that clearly sound Western-originated. Even phones are tapped in those countries, so you have to look at those results with a bag of salt and peppers. And when you look at the question on perception of US military threat, the picture becomes clearer. In that section, you find the attitudes in the region are rather close in condemnation or fear of threat. Here, people may feel more feel to express themselves as opposed to questions on Bin Laden where the wrong answer can get you in jail or in Guantanamo. The question on Hamid Karzai is telling: because again there are no penalties if people express negative views as opposed to the wrong answer on Saudi King. And according to survey, there are more favorable ratings for Hizbullah in Ethiopia than in Lebanon: even if you factor in the changing opinions in Lebanon and the rise of Sunn-Shi`ite conflict, Lebanese public opinion draw a different picture. And then you look at the appendix of polls to be released later, and you discover that "the very favorable" ratings of Hizbullah are higher in Kuwait than in Lebanon. Also notice Q55 on page 145: 74% of Lebanese consider Israel the biggest threat, while 43% consider Syria the biggest threat, and some 38% consider US the biggest threat. OK, I need to go now.
PS The successor to Hurra TV, Al-Arabiya TV, has this headline: "King `Abdullah is the most popular at the Arab and Islamic levels according to an American study."
"Israel authorized the transfer of 1,000 rifles from Jordan to the security forces of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, Israeli and Palestinian security sources confirmed to Haaretz Wednesday night." (thanks As`ad--not me)
"Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the bank also set off an intense debate within the U.S. government over whether to take strong action against its alleged role in extremist finance. Confidential reports by the Central Intelligence Agency and other U.S. agencies, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, detail for the first time how much the U.S. learned about the use of Al Rajhi Bank by alleged extremists, and how U.S. officials agonized over what to do about it." (thanks G.)
"“Assrah, Assrah,” a Macedonian Soldier shouted during the sprint relays, encouraging the Iraqi Soldiers. “Assrah, means faster. I learned that this morning,” the Macedonian Soldier explained in broken English." (thanks Hannah)
I am not making this up. NBN TV just reported that the Lebanese Army has "made more progress" in Nahr Al-Barid.
Yesterday, my mother told me that she is very pleased with the Christian presence in Lebanon. She said that it will be the guarantee against the spread of Islamic extremism.
"Delay: US and Israel must enjoy second coming." Personally, I enjoy a fifth coming. (thanks Amina)
A friend in Jordan sent me this. "Attached is a photograph I took of the two buildings in Amman belonging to Talal Abu Ghazaleh that have now been forcibly expropriated by the Amman municipality on behalf of Hariri in order to build an access road to the Solidere-style Abdali development. As you recall, Abu Ghazaleh resisted all attempts at intimidation to force him to sell. His son told Baha al-Hariri: 'if you sell me your father's house in Quraytim, then I will sell you my father's headquarters in Amman."As is now typical in Jordan, the state authorities were mobilized on behalf of private interests, and expropriation orders have now been issued for the buildings. He can appeal after sixty days. Abu Ghazaleh is planning to fight to the last, as you can see from the signs. Government workers have removed the signs more than once, and Abu Ghazaleh has put them back up. He is planning to keep people in the buildings night and day in case the bulldozers come. Abu Ghazaleh, originally from Jaffa (and expelled in 1948), is a self-made business man with the most highly respected accounting firm in the Middle East. He employs hundreds of people in Jordan alone and I know for a fact that he employs many people from poor backgrounds strictly on merit. In 1991 he was forced out of Kuwait, and now he is fighting again in Amman. You can imagine that if this is the struggle a prominent and wealthy businessman must put up, with no guarantee of success, then what chance does the ordinary citizen ever have to defend her rights?"
"hummus for Israelis and Palestinians is a savory sustenance devoured by the vat everywhere from dusty refugee camps in the West Bank to yuppie hot spots in Tel Aviv." (thanks Bill)

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"The just-published diaries of a communications director for Prime Minister Blair, Alastair Campbell, indicate that James Murdoch launched into a foul-mouthed tirade that suggested that the behavior of Palestinian Arabs was justified by their poor treatment by Israelis. The outburst occurred at a private dinner with his father, his brother, Lachlan, Mr. Blair, and others at no. 10 Downing St. in January 2002. The elder "Murdoch was at one point putting the traditional very right-wing view on Israel and the Middle East peace process and James said that he was ‘talking f— nonsense.' [Rupert] Murdoch said he didn't see what the Palestinians' problem was and James said that it was that they were kicked out of their f— homes and had nowhere to f— live," Mr. Campbell recorded, adding that the News Corp. chairman was "very pro-Israel, very pro-Reagan."" (thanks Ali)
Lebanonese Orientalism. An-Nahar has this headline (of its "study"): "In the East, Emotional Factors Trumps Democratic Principles." Yes, brilliant minds of An-Nahar. Because in the West, people have no emotions?
On the love of...ads by Fawwaz Trabulsi.
Grotesque Lebanonese Nationalism. "Lebanese women taking part in a beauty pageant at a hotel in north Lebanon pose for a picture 13 July 2007. The Pageant participants posed for photographers in camouflage combat gear to salute Lebanese soldiers." (thanks Wissam)
My article in Al-Akhbar, "The Triumph of The Phalangist Doctrine."
(On the same page is my response to `Abdullah Rizq who wrote in criticism of my article "Who Can Rescue the Shi`ites (except Sa`d Hariri?)"
This is from Mulhaq An-Nahar (considered the "left" of the right-wing, sectarian Christian, anti-Syrian (people), anti-Palestinian (people) newspaper--like the "left" of the 700 Club). This right-wing writer, Raymond Jbara, wrote a column two weeks ago in which he basically said that there is not a single innocent person among the Palestinian civilians. So Syrian dissident, Muhammad `Ali Al-Atasi, wrote a polite disagreement with Jbara. Here, this racist Jbara wrote a response mocking that Al-Atasi has three names, and then he goes on to generalize about all Syrians.
Saudi National Anthem: to your i-pod NOW. Sometimes I realize why Lebanese journalists specialize in prostrating for the House of Saud. I mean, there is not much to admire in the beheadings, stoning, and lashes in the Kingdom, but you have to admire the National Anthem of Saudi Arabia, especially when it says: "Long Live Our Beloved King. Our Spirits Are to Be Sacrificed for his Sake, he The Guardian of the Holy Site. Hey, Yell Out Long Live the King. Hey Raise the Banner of the Homeland; Chant and Recite this Anthem. Long Live, Long Live the King."
PS It has been pointed out that this is the old anthem, but you can still enjoy it, no?
There is something about Arab puppets. They just look the role. Look at those two. O Arab people: just remmber that those two foreign ministers are claiming to speak on behalf of the Arab peoples. Hazulat.
That is how they say her name on Al-Arabiya TV: I kid you not--Nancy Lahone (for Lindsey Lohan).
I swear that I say this without exaggeration: Al-Arabiya TV is more blatantly pro-US administration than Fox News. Imagine. That is media globalizaton.
There is one thing that I find to be as repugnant--if not more--as sectarianism: and that is tribalism. The US managed to revive both in Iraq.
Gen. Petraeus was on Al-Arabiya TV for the second time in around a month. He is very free with his time. Do you notice that US officials are now less likely to waste their time on Al-Hurra TV, which makes me wonder, yet again, why am I, as a taxpayers, still funding that failed channel when Saudi media are offering a free platform for US propaganda? The right-wing Lebanese personality, Elie Naquzi, is tasked by Al-Arabiya for interviews with heads and symbols of US occupation. He is the one who does the hours of hagiographic coverage of Iyad `Allawi (former puppet prime minister/embezzler-in-Yemen/Saddam's henchman/car bomber) whenever he runs in puppet elections. But I was impressed: Petraeus managed to say "thank you" in Arabic. Saying "thank you" in Arabic with the right sympathy for Israel qualifies one to receive a high degree in "Near" Eastern studies from Princeton University. The host of the show was almost about to hug and kiss his guest, and he basically told him that, yes, there is a great progress in Iraq, but those dumb Iraqis don't seem to get it. In other news, for those who follow the propaganda conspiracy in the Middle East, Al-Arabiya TV led the news today with more than 10 minutes--I had to switch the channel--on Iraqi soccer team victory. I swear that the correspondent kept talking about "happines in the North, Center and the South" that you are left with the impression that Mr. Bush is indeed making great progress in Iraq. I can see Al-Arabiya correspondent standing at a site in Iraq when the last US soldiers is leaving Iraq, and reporting about "the goodwill" that US occupation soldiers have left behind.
I am amused--not really--that some readers actually want me to turn the blog into a platform for their own preferences. A blog is a reflection of its owner's politics AND quirks, eccentricities, and preferences. And if that bothers some, remember that you can go here.
""The king of Jordan arrived on a Harley-Davidson on a recent visit to Carmel, California, stopping for a pancake breakfast before taking off with about 10 other bikers for a ride down the Big Sur coast."" (thanks Ala`a)
I can't keep track: Fath, Fath-As-Sultah, Fath-Al-Asalah, Fath-Intifada, Fath-Al-Islam, and Fath-Potato. Yesterday, in an interview on AlJazeera TV, secretary-general of the Fath's Central Committee, Abu Al-Lutf, made a distinction between "Fath-As-Sultah" (Fath-The Government) (a reference to Fath of Dahlan and Abu Mazen) and "Fath-Al-Asalah" (Fath-The Authenticity) (a reference to his Fath).
Al-Quds Al-`Arabi has reported that the Syrian government has canceled a meeting of Iraqi anti-occupation forces in Damascus, largely under pressure from Iran. As is well-known, Iran is now officially trying to make the occupation better for the US--at least publicly.
When I first came to the US, the Middle East program at Brookings was run by William Quandt. Now it is run by Martin Indyk. That only proves my theory--or one of them anyway: that things only get worse when it comes to the Middle East in the US.
Peace is at hand. I have been guilty of mocking the new position of Tony Blair as special envoy to the Middle East. When asked about it in Pakistan, I observed that this is as credible as appointing Ariel Sharon to solve the conflict in Kashmir. But yesterday, I changed my mind. Blair called on both sides to reconcile. What insight. What brilliance. I mean, if only somebody else came along to the Middle East and offered this useful recommendation. I will not be surprised that this expert on the Middle East also call on the Lebanese people to reconcile.
This is the most sensitive state on earth: "Police cadets at a Shfaram officers training college have begun to study Arabic and Arab culture in an effort to increase sensitivity toward the Israeli Arab minority." Let me guess. They use the writings of Baruch Goldstein as their source on Arab culture. Cadets were instructed on how to greet Arabs in Arabic...before shooting at them.
This is how Israeli Orientalists now "documents" their silly generalizations about Arabs: "These words, written by a reader named Khaled, were posted on the Al Jazeera Web site the morning..." This is in the footstep of Bernard Lewis who in one article cites "a letter in the New New York Times" and "an Arab" with whom he talked in a shop.
"A Middle Eastern businessman spent over $210,000 in a five-hour, champagne- and vodka-fuelled spending spree in a London nightclub at the weekend." (thanks Amina)
"To see the daughter of Itzak Rabin and the son of Bachir Gemayel in cordial conversation, though their nations are locked in conflict, was remarkable." (thanks Michelle)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I subjected myself to an interview with the annoying Ghassan Tuwayni. Those who know me know how much I detest An-Nahar. He said (about his granddaughters): "they speak French, and English, and Filipino [from the maids]...and lastly Arabic."
"The percentage of Muslims saying that suicide bombing is justified in the defense of Islam has declined dramatically over the past five years in five of eight countries where trends are available. In Lebanon, for example, just 34% of Muslims say suicide bombings in the defense of Islam are often or sometimes justified; in 2002, 74% expressed this view. However, Palestinians stand out for their broad acceptance of suicide bombing. Seven-in-ten-Palestinians say this tactic is at least sometimes justified."
This is Israel: "For a start, racism against Arabs in Israel is rising, according to at least one recent poll. In a survey for the Centre Against Racism, a poll of Jewish Israelis found that more than half believed it was treason for a Jewish woman to marry an Arab man; 40% said Arabs should no longer have the right to vote in parliamentary elections; and 75% opposed apartment blocks being shared by Jews and Arabs."
""They're not leaving Iraq for a long time," said Hashim Hamad Ali, another guard, who called the compound "a symbol of oppression and injustice.""
The Lebanese Forces is organizing a public lecture on Wilayat Al-Faqih. The speaker is the Mufti of Tyre (he was Hizbullah during the hostages' year, he then became Amal during the War of the Camps, and now he is a Hariri follower.) He is known to produce fatwawawawawawa to go.
The Maronite Patriarch for Beginners (by Khalid Saghiyyah)
ABC of US Policy in Iraq. Let me explain to you US policy in Iraq: the US invaded Iraq and toppled the Ba`thist regime. That led to the installation of Al-Qa`idah in Iraq. Now, the US is aligning itself with the Iraqi Ba`thists to get rid of Al-Qa`idah. And those of you who doubted the brilliance of Mr. Bush's mind.
What is the morale of the Libya story in the news? It is simple. You will always fare better as a white European under oppressive Arab/Muslim governments.
Why does Jumana Nammur (an anchorwoman on Aljazeera) make such an effort to pronounce English words in an American accent, and French words in a French accent? Relax. You don't have to say "Wa-sh-ing-tin" for Washington.
AlJazeera TV strictly refrains from referring to US occupation troops in Iraq as...occupation troops. Which makes you wonder. Do the US government and its client regimes in the Middle East think that people would forget that US occupation troops are occupation troops if those media stop referring to them as occupation troops?
"SB: Miss Ayaan Hirsi Ali has now assumed a public role of exaggerating and driving Islam and everything related to Islam into the corner of fascism or a kind of theocracy. Her statement is simply uninformed. It is not a statement that can be taken seriously by anybody who is a democrat." (thanks Nader)
For two days, I could not sleep or eat or drink or concentrate. I was anxious and nervous. I did not know what to do. But once the results of his colonoscopy were announced, I resumed my life.
"The Saudi domestic intelligence forces arrested two of the country's most prominent reformers, casting doubt on the government's promises of reform, Human Rights Watch said today. Dr. Abdullah al-Hamid, a lawyer, and his brother 'Isa al-Hamid, were arrested on July 19, 2007, as were a group of five women who had been peacefully demonstrating for the speedy trial of their relatives, one of them a client of al-Hamid."
She looks good--but surprised in her mug shot.
"Not all the experts agree. Juan Cole, a professor at the University of Michigan and perhaps the most outspoken liberal critic of Bush among Iraq specialists, said "the U.S. troop presence in some areas of the country is probably stirring people up and doing more harm than good. And the foreign military occupation may be prolonging and deepening the eventual conflict.""
"Public editor sides with reporter's dismissal" (thanks Karim)
"As a last-ditch strategy, the State Department briefly considered translating the article into Arabic and trying a Lebanese paper. But finally they just gave up. "I kept hearing the same thing: 'There's no news in this.' " Floyd said. The piece, he said, was littered with glowing references to President Bush's wise leadership. "It read like a campaign document."" (thanks Ziad)
"In pictures: The work of Naji al-Ali" (Al-`Ali, as is well-known, was assassinated on the orders of Yasir `Arafat). (thanks David)
A Saudi man was sentenced to 16 years and 1500 lashes for flasely assuming the identity of a security person. (thanks Haytham)
"Palestinian security forces in Ramallah attacked the children of former Fatah Secretary-General in the West Bank Marwan Barghouti, the Al-Hayat al-Jadida newspaper reported Tuesday." (thanks Amina)
It is without exaggeration that I say that more than 70% of AlArabiya TV's programming is nothing short of full US propaganda efforts. Yet, we American tax payers are still funding Al-Hurra TV. WHY?
"Burg said that contemporary Israelis “are not at the stage to be sensitive enough to what happens to others and in many ways are too indifferent to the suffering of others. We confiscated, we monopolized, world suffering. We did not allow anybody else to call whatever suffering they have ‘holocaust’ or ‘genocide,’ be it Armenians, be it Kosovo, be it Darfur." (thanks Manal and Ziad)
I debated this guy early this year.
The racism of the Israeli state is officially more open and blatant than say racism in Saudi Arabia. "Rubinstein's proposal follows a bill, which passed its preliminary reading, that restricts the leasing of JNF lands to Jews."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Saudi media. This director of Al-Arabiya TV (former editor of Prince Salman's mouthpiece, Ash-Sharq Al-Awsat) praises the "dynamism of Saudi media." By dynamism he is referring to news of official beheading and lashes in the kingdom.
During tonight's Democratic debate, there was this question:
"QUESTION: Hello, my name is John McAlpin (ph). I'm a proud serving member of the United States military. I'm serving overseas. This question is to Senator Hillary Clinton. The Arab states, Muslim nations, believe it's women as being second-class citizens. If you're president of the United States, how do you feel that you would even be taken seriously by these states in any kind of talks, negotiations, or any other diplomatic relations? I feel that is a legitimate question." It seems that this person gets his knowledge of world affairs from Die Hard movies. He does not seem to know that while the US has never ever had a female president, there have been three heads of state in Muslim countries in contemporary times: Turkey, Pakistan, and Bangladesh (and I am not counting the historic "forgotten queens of Islam"--read the book by that title by Fatima Mernissi.)
Iraqi women standing in line, waiting for the occupation soldier to give them a meal. (AP)
The oppressive Syrian government is prosecuting a Syrian leftist because he talked on the phone with a member of March 14th Movement in Lebanon.
This picture is from Turkey (people celebrating the election results). And there are some Lebanese who think that Dabkah is purely a Lebanese thing. Dream on.
Crimes against women in Palestine. One should not postpone the fight for gender equality (and safety) in Palestinian society in the name of focusing on liberation, as PLO groups have done while failing to achieve liberation.
When you mix religion with medicine you get quackery. Enjoy.
This is Arab diplomacy: don't be surprised if the Arab League appoints Pat Robertson as its secretary-general. "The Arab ambassadors at the meeting included Lebanon, Bahrain, Algeria, Libya, Iraq, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Morocco, Egypt and the Arab League. The evangelicals included Ralph Reed, the former head of Christian Coalition; Vernon Brewer, founder of the Christian relief organization World Help; and Don Argue, former president of the National Association of Evangelicals. Hinn compared the meeting to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Israel in 1977, the first by an Arab leader, which was opposed by many in the Arab world. "I told them, we've had our arm around Israel for years. It is time for us to put our other arm around you," Hinn said. "It's time for us as Christians to show the love of God to all people."" (thanks Nader)
I did the show on AlJazeera TV. The other guest was Michele Dunne who is now with Carnegie. (She was previously a Middle East expert at the US Department of State). I was pleasantly surprised because we took a class together at Georgetown back in 1985-86, and I have not seen her since. I remember her because she had an excellent command of Arabic (and French, if I remember correctly).
Dear Joseph Massad on the tasks of Palestinian intellectuals.
"Moreover, 42% believe Americans would be most concerned about their child dating a Muslim; followed by an atheist (17%), and a Mormon (14%)."
Light unto the...Gangs. "Rival underworld gangs are waging bloody battles for control of gambling and protection rackets, targeting each other with bullets, bombs and anti-tank missiles. Organized crime, long overshadowed by the Arab-Israeli conflict, has become such a part of everyday life that Israel has its own “Sopranos”-style TV series, “The Arbitrator,” in which even synagogues are no refuge from hit men."
"The Nahr El Bared Displaced Committee, Beirut:
In response to the worsening humanitarian situation in the Nahr El Bared and Baddawi camps, the Nahr El Bared Displaced Committee-Beirut invites Lebanese, Palestinian and International associations to take part in an organizing meeting for solidarity action. It's time to focus attention on what's happening in Nahr El Bared and to highlight the fact that there are still civilians remaining in the camp, amongst them an estimated 45-50 children.
Meeting date: 24.07.07
Place: Rawda Café, Al Manara
Time: 5.00 pm" (thanks Marcy)
Regarding the new version of history in Israeli schools, the US media are not pointing out that the book: is "to be used only in Israeli Arab schools."
"The stench of human confinement intensified as the guard led the way to the back of the room and down a dark, flooded hallway to the bathroom, where half-naked detainees stood barefoot amid muddy puddles, broken floor tiles and stopped-up urinals. A shower and sink were filled with human waste. The guard dropped his cigarette butt in a puddle as detainees relieved themselves in two holes and rinsed off under a broken water pipe. Things had improved since the morning, the detainees said. The water was flowing. This facility, the National Police detention center in northwest Baghdad, was intended to house up to 300 inmates when it opened two years ago. Nearly 900 are now crammed inside — an unwieldy mix of suspected insurgents, alleged criminals and apparent innocents."
"The Los Angeles resident, an Iraqi who fled Saddam Hussein's regime 25 years ago, is a member of the Screen Actors Guild with a smattering of small parts alongside the likes of George Clooney and Omar Sharif. But he'd rather be known for his current role: as Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's advisor on judicial matters and executions and the go-to man for all things gallows."