Tuesday, July 31, 2007
IRAQI OIL MINISTRY: NO DEALING WITH UNIONS
WASHINGTON, July 31 (UPI) -- 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.
The unions went on strike in early June and are threatening to stop production and exports again if demands are not met. The unions claim the oil law, if approved by Parliament, will give foreign oil companies too much access to the oil. The unions enjoy enormous support, especially in the south of Iraq.
"The Minister has directed the prohibition of cooperation with any member of any union in any of the committees organized under the name of the Union as these unions do not enjoy any legal status to work inside the government sector," Laith Abd Al Hussein AL Shahir, the ministry's general director, wrote in a July 18 letter obtained by UPI.
The letter was addressed to the all of the ministry's companies, such as the state firms in the north and south of the country, as well as research, development and training centers based in Baghdad, Baiji, Basra and Kirkuk.
"In no way is it permitted for them to use the offices, instruments or equipment of the companies as they do not enjoy any legal status to work in the public sector," the letter stated, giving recipients two weeks to implement the directive.
Saddam Hussein outlawed worker organizing in the public sector; subsequent U.S. occupying powers and now the Iraqi government do not recognize the workers' rights to organize.
Despite that, workers have come together and leveraged their power. Since 2003 they've blocked numerous attempts to privatize management of both oil and other facilities and stopped work over disputes -- most recently early last month over the oil law and other unmet demands.
The unions are calling for Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani to resign or be fired.
"There are no legal unions in Iraq," Shahristani told UPI last week by phone from Baghdad. "Those people who call themselves representatives of the oil workers have not been elected to the position."
'For Zarqawi, the aim was to start a civil war. This would not only confound state-building but also weaken the Shia position and force the United States to leave Iraq withouta positive political outcome. In September 2005, after US and Iraqi troops launched a major offensive against insurgent forces along the Iraq-Syria border, Zarqawi retaliated with three days of mayhem, during which suicide bombings and assassinations killed and maimed hundreds of Shias, including clerics and government workers. The attacks were followed by a posting on an al-Qaeda-affiliated website that called for a "full-scale war on Shiites all over Iraq, whenever and wherever they are found."
Zarqawi's extremist posture also found reflection in the angry rejection of occupation and Shia empowerment by Iraq's Sunni clerics, especially those who gathered in the more militant and also broadly popular Association of Muslim Clerics (Hay'at al-Ulama al-Muslimin). The association was important in giving the insurgency religious sanction. In particular, some of its leaders, such as Ayyash al-Kubaisi, openly endorsed the insurgency as a legitimate jihad. The association also reflected the sectarian bias of the insurgency's Salafi sentinels. Some of its ulama had maintained ties with Saudi Arabia, from which they received financial and moral support. Some of the association's leaders who had recently returned to Iraq after the fall of Saddam, such as its spokesman, Muthanna Harith al-Dhari, who was also an important link between the association and the insurgency, had studied in the kingdom. These ulama favored Hanbali law, associated with Ibn Tayamiya and Wahhabism (and thus a strong anti-Shia posture), over the Hanfali law that has long been the traditional creed of Iraq's Sunni Arabs.
The Shia understood the rage and the roots of the violence that was perpetrated against them. As one Shia cleric put it, "The killers of today are the same killers as yesterday." Still, Shia leaders and their flock, victims and bystanders, all repeatedly chose to blame outsiders for the violence against them. It was almost as if there was great fear in identifying neighbors and countrymen as those responsible. But even if this were true, and if the Shia genuinely believed it, then the question would remain: Who were the outsiders? They were Jordanians, Syrians, Egyptians, and most of all Saudis - all Sunni extremists who had come to Iraq to fight Americans and kill Shias. Their national identity would cast them as outsiders to Iraq, but they were still Sunni Arabs. They shared Sunni religious, Arab ethnic, and in some cases even tribal identities with Iraq's Sunni insurgents, and shared a Salafi ideology that guided their actions.
The notion of insider and outsider had little meaning when broader identities such as Shia and Sunni, Arab and non-Arab were defining the conflict. This point was made clear by Ayatollah Ahmad al-Safi, a close aide of Ayatollah Sistani's and his representative in Kerbala. Safi reacted to the Kazemiya stampede by calling on the ulama of al-Azhar in Egypt - symbolizing the Sunni world - to break their "negative" silence and condemn the insurgency, just as he called on Shias to maintain their "positive" silence and refrain from responding in kind to the violence. Other Shia leaders more directly criticized the country's Sunni clerics for not forcefully denouncing the insurgency's anti-Shia violence.
When Zarqawi declared "full-scale war on Shiites," the association's Abu Bashir al-Tartousi objected, criticizing this brazen call to arms in a tract entitled "About Sectarian War in Iraq"25 Tartousi argued that Shia civilians did not bear responsibility for the actions of the Shia-led government or US forces and should not be the object of war. However, he prefaced his criticism by validating the general thrust of Zarqawi's sectarian rhetoric, saying that "although sectarian war in Iraq may have been provoked and sparked by the Shia, perceived to be major allies of the occupation forces; and although it is right of the Muslim mujahid [one who undertakes jihad] to defend himself, his honor, and his cities against the crusader invaders and whoever is allied with them, killing according to sectarian affiliation is not justified by Islamic Law." Tartousi saw the victims as responsible for the violence. The insurgents were justified in their anger at the Shia and should merely refrain from "taking justice into their own hands." It was a matter not of the Shia's guilt - Tartousi took that for granted - but of the kind of justice that they should face and from whom.
Tartousi was also less concerned with the morality of killing Shia civilians than with its implications for the success of the insurgency. He wrote in detail on this theme: "Sectarian war is [in] the crusader's interest, aimed at dividing the efforts of the mujahideen...[and] gives grounds for a longer occupation...and causes the legitimate Iraqi resistance to lose its credibility in the eyes of the Islamic world." Tartousi's argument was also reflected in the veiled criticism of Zarqawi by Saudi Arabia's most senior cleric, Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Sheikh, who objected to sectarian war because it would "serve the aims of enemies conspiring against Islam." This hardly amounted to the kind of condemnation that the Shia had demanded from Sunni clerics.' --Vali Nasr, The Shia Revival
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Israel signs off on U.S. arms sale to Saudis
Proposed deal aimed at countering Iran includes boost in aid for Israel
JERUSALEM - In a break from historic Israeli opposition to U.S. arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday his country understands Washington’s plan to supply state-of-the-art weapons to Riyadh as a counterweight to Iranian influence.
The United States, knowing that Israel is sensitive about such arms sales, is also offering a sharp increase in defense aid to Israel and has assured the Jewish state it will retain a fighting edge over other countries in the region, he added.
“We understand the need of the United States to support the Arab moderate states and there is a need for a united front between the U.S. and us regarding Iran,” Olmert told a weekly Cabinet meeting.
The rare agreement reflects shared U.S. and Israeli concern over the potential threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.
The proposed arms deal would include advanced weaponry and air systems that would greatly enhance the striking ability of Saudi warplanes, alarming the Israeli right. One leading hard-liner warned that Saudi Arabia, although not belligerent now, could be taken over by extremists.
Israel’s southern tip is 10 miles from Saudi Arabia across the Gulf of Aqaba.
Weapons boost for Israel
The proposed package comes with a serious sweetener for Israel: a 25 percent rise in U.S. military aid, from an annual $2.4 billion at present to $3 billion a year and guaranteed for 10 years.
The Iraq captain Younis Mohmoud holding up the winning trophy as he and his teammates celebrated victory in the Asia Cup final in Jakarta. (Saeed Khan/Agence France-Presse)
Soccer: From shattered Iraq, a united team triumphs, 1-0
"The solitary goal, 71 minutes into the game, was sparked by a corner kick by Hawar Mulla Mohammed, and headed into the net at the far post by Younis Mahmoud Khalaf.
The majority of those who poured into the streets of Baghdad, Basra, and many other Iraqi towns and cities will not have cared in their euphoria that the maker and the scorer of that goal both happen to be from the minority Kurdish community in the north.
Hawar Mohammed, 25, was born in Mosul and plays his professional soccer for Apollon Limassol in Cyprus. He has been an Iraqi international player since his teens, and was chastised by Kurdish nationalists a few days ago for wrapping himself in the green, red, white flag of Iraq.
Younis Mahmoud, 24, is from Kirkuk. Gunmen opened fire on shoppers in a Shiite Turkomen village southwest of his home city earlier Sunday, killing seven and wounding six according to the police.
Yet this son of Kurdish stock, already the captain of Iraq's national squad, is - if anyone of Iraqi origin is - on his way to stardom."
JAKARTA, Indonesia: Iraq won the 2007 Asian Cup on Sunday in a victory that represented one of the most inspiring moments in sport, but one that was also weighted by the tragedy from which the team has only temporarily emerged.
A 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia clinched Iraq's first ever Asian Cup, with a squad drawn together in ad-hoc circumstances from all parts of the Gulf, and with its players straddling the bitter and violent ethnic divides.
And it was no lucky win. Iraq dominated the final against a heavily favored Saudi Arabia, a three-time Asian Cup champion.
At the final whistle, captain and goal scorer Younis Mahmoud sprinted across the pitch with his elated teammates in pursuit before they collapsed into a pile, overwhelmed with their achievement.
Mahdi Karim, No. 18 and Younis Mahmoud, 10 celebrating with their team after beating Saudi Arabia in the Asian Cup soccer final in Jakarta on Sunday. (Jerry Lampen/Reuters )But that elation was juxtaposed against the tragedy in their homeland, and as coach Jorvan Vieira and Mahmoud sat wearing black armbands in the post-match news conference to commemorate the dozens of fans killed during post semifinal celebration, they represented the victory's bittersweet nature.
"It's very clear, from our arms, our respect to the people who died when we put Korea out of the competition," Vieira said. "This victory we offer to the families of those people."
Vieira also remembered the team physio Anwar, who was killed in a bombing as he was collecting tickets to attend the pre-tournament training camp in Jordan.
"He died and left behind a wife and four kids. He was our physio, everybody liked him. This cup we offer to Anwar, our physio."
The experienced Vieira will leave his post immediately after this match, exhausted by the difficulty of preparing an Iraqi team in such circumstances, but left with strong impressions of his briefly adopted nation.
"I have worked my best to bring a warm smile to their lips and my mission is accomplished," Vieira said. "The satisfaction is doubled when you can get this cup and you bring happiness for a country, not just a team. It's more important than anything.
"Iraqi people, Iraqi players are fantastic people. They are the type of people who have fantastic power within themselves. I learnt a lot with these boys... and I will keep it forever in my life."
Iraq — Olympic semifinalists in 2004 and Asian Games finalists last December — dominated the match from the beginning, and Vieira was not exaggerating when he said the side could easily have won by two or three goals.
The goal to live on in Iraqi folklore came in the 71st minute. A corner by Hawar Mulla Mohammed was floated high to the far post. Saudi goalkeeper Yasser Al Mosailem came for the ball and flapped at it without making any contact, presenting a simple chance for an unmarked Mahmoud to nod in the winner.
Rather than sit on its lead, an inspired Iraq continued to push forward, and only in the last five minutes did they put men behind the ball, clinging on desperately as Saudi Arabia probed for the equalizer to no avail.
Mahmoud won the player of the tournament award — ending as joint top scorer — and midfielder Nashat Akram player of the match.
Amid the Iraq victory, Saudi Arabia was almost overlooked, but left the tournament as worthy finalists.
Coach Helio Cesar dos Anjos said he warned his players pre-match of a the powerful motivation of Iraq, and paid credit to an opponent that never allowed his team to get its fluent passing game going.
"We know the political situation in Iraq, and we are sad for that," he said. "I hope the best for the people of Iraq, they deserve to be happy, but I am also sorry for the people of Saudi Arabia who were dreaming of winning this cup."
Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office announced that each player on the Iraqi team would receive US$10,000 for their achievements.
The jubilation over the ascension of the team known as the "Lions of the Two Rivers" to the final gave Iraqis a rare respite from the daily violence.
Defying authorities, celebratory gunfire resounded across Baghdad after Iraq's final win, when Iraqis welcomed a rare moment of joy that sent revelers pouring into the streets, but the shooting killed at least four.
Mosques broadcast calls for the shooting to stop, while security forces enforced a vehicle ban in the capital in an effort to prevent a repeat of car bombings that killed dozens celebrating Iraq's progress to the finals.
"Those heroes have shown the real Iraq. They have done something useful for the people as opposed to the politicians and lawmakers," said Sabah Shaiyal, a 43-year-old policeman in Baghdad's main Shiite district of Sadr City. "The players have made us proud. Once again our national team has shown that there is only one, united Iraq."
Saturday, July 28, 2007
US accuses Saudis of telling lies about Iraq· First time administration has made concern public
· Claims royal family is financing Sunni groups
Ewen MacAskill in Washington
Saturday July 28, 2007
The extent of the deterioration in US-Saudi relations was exposed for the first time yesterday when Washington accused Riyadh of working to undermine the Iraqi government.
The Bush administration warned Saudi Arabia, until this year one of its closest allies, to stop undermining the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.
The US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the defence secretary, Robert Gates, are scheduled to visit Jeddah next week.
Reflecting the deteriorating relationship, the US made public claims that the Saudis have been distributing fake documents lying about Mr Maliki.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Bombers strike Iraqis celebrating soccer win
At least 27 people killed, 100 hurt during festivities for Asian Cup
BAGHDAD - Two suicide car bombings struck soccer fans in Baghdad as they were celebrating Iraq’s victory in the Asian Cup semifinal on Wednesday, killing at least 27 people and wounding more than 100, officials said.
The victims were among the thousands of revelers who took to the streets of the capital after the country’s national soccer team beat South Korea to reach the tournament’s final against Saudi Arabia on Sunday in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
Perhaps the question should be reversed. Why should doctors not be terrorists? In general, it is not the downtrodden, poor, and illiterate who rise to the top in many organizations, whether legitimate or criminal. Doctors are often intelligent, dedicated, hardworking, ambitious, and of high status, so it should be no surprise that they, alongside bankers, lawyers, engineers, and teachers, tend to reach leadership positions in many terrorist organizations. Should we therefore be any less surprised that a medical doctor could become a prime minister of Norway, a U.S. senator, or a British foreign secretary than that a doctor could rise to power in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine or Al Qaeda?
Clearly, though, there is more to explain. Ambition and the pursuit of power are needed to rise to the top of any organization, but once there, why do some use their position to further their political goals legitimately while others embrace terror and murder?"
Thursday, July 12, 2007
The British media's coverage of the would-be suicide bomber doctors has been pretty much non stop. After these "doctors" received their degrees, they were sworn to save lives, but they decided to mark the end of their careers by killing themselves and as many innocents as possible because they apparently believed their actions would be rewarded by God. British Muslims are understandably embarrassed by these people, and Iraqis in the UK are even more embarrassed that one of the doctors is an Iraqi Brit - he was actually born in England! Evidently he was radicalized after a trip to Jordan in 2000:
Scion of a prominent Iraqi family, Abdullah, 27, was born in England, where his father had come to study medicine. The family returned to Baghdad, where they reportedly enjoyed the privileges of a Sunni family with good connections to Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime. Quiet and studious, Abdullah was always devout. A high-school classmate and friend, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation, recalled seeing Abdullah become worked up when classmates said "Merry Christmas" to each other. "This is not for us Muslims, it's only for Christians," Abdullah shouted. He was radicalized, says this friend, on a trip to Jordan in 2000. "When he came back he was completely changed," says the friend.
One of my cousins, a doctor himself, said that these guys were not true doctors! Now one of the would-be bombers, who lit himself on fire after crashing his car into the Glasgow airport, is being cared for by REAL doctors and nurses.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Friday, July 06, 2007
Bernard Lewis studied at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, specialising in Islamic history. Lewis developed a particular slant on Islam's encounter with modernity that ran counter to the then prevailing wisdom. The conventional view was that the political oppressiveness, social inequalities and economic backwardness in the Middle East were mainly because of the legacy of western imperialism and the west's incessant interferance in the area's affairs. Lewis, however, postulated that the Islamic world's problems were mainly of its own making, driven by a congenital inability of Islamic civilisation to accomodate to its diminished status in the world. 'The Roots of Muslim Rage', the title of Bernard Lewis's now classic essay, was ultimately linked to the failure of Islamic civilisation to accept that it had been relegated to a secondary status by the manifest political and technological superiority of the west. This was even more galling, for this new world was dominated by Islam's historic rival, Christendom. Without this acknowledgement, Muslim societies were unable to rejuvenate themselves and adjust to modernity. Lewis wrote that 'This is no less than a clash of civilisations - the perhaps irrational but surely historic reaction of an ancient rival against our Judeo-Christian heritage, our secular present, and the worldwide expansion of both.'
Lewis's band of admirers grew perceptibly in the 1980s and 1990s and, with the advent of the Bush administration, joined up with the other strands of the 'Alternative Discourse' to dominate Middle East policymaking. Lewis himself put on the mantle of the 'public intellectual', appearing on numerous TV shows, and mentoring and advising all manner of officials in the post 9/11 Bush administration. The 'Lewis doctrine' became official policy all the more so as Lewis was an enthusiastic advocate of using force to efffect change. The invasion of Iraq could now be given a scholarly sheen, carrying the imprimatur of the 'most influential post-war historian of Islam and the Middle East', as Lewis was called by one of his academic followers. The grand scheme of dragging the Middle East, kicking and screaming, into the democratic and secular future designed for it by the 'best and brightest' of the new Washington, would now begin in earnest. Iraq was in the right place and it was the right time to start the make-over of the region. Lewis and Strauss were profound influences, in deep and subtle ways, on the nexus of advisers, policymakers and war-planners that pushed the USA into invading Iraq.
Allawi goes on to say that the Bush team should have read 'other, more cautionary narratives', including the works of Ali al Wardi and The Unanticipated Consequences of Purposive Social Action by sociologist Robert Merton. Allawi asserts that Washington ignored what was happening inside Iraq before the war and that war planners knew very little about Iraq before the invasion.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Death penalty sought in Iraqi slayings
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Federal prosecutors filed notice Tuesday that they will seek the death penalty if former soldier Steven D. Green is convicted of killing an Iraqi family and raping a 14-year-old girl.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Soldiers from 5th IA said al Qaeda had cut the heads off the children. Had al Qaeda murdered the children in front of their parents? Maybe it had been the other way around: maybe they had murdered the parents in front of the children. Maybe they had forced the father to dig the graves of his children. (Thanks RhusLancia)
In the video an Iraqi is kidnapped by terrorists and asked at gunpoint if he is Sunni or Shi'i. "I am Iraqi" he finally answers.
BAGHDAD: A Sunni legislator who says he's joining the "resistance" called Sunday for Arab and international intervention to rebuild Iraq's political system from scratch.
Abdul-Nasser al-Janabi said he made a mistake when he decided to run for parliament in 2005. He spoke to The Associated Press in Jordan, where he announced this weekend that he was quitting parliament to support the insurgency.
"I feel that I've become a target for the Iraqi government which is now, along with its security forces, targeting each and every Iraqi who opposes them and who tells the truth," al-Janabi said. [Iraqis who oppose the government by supporting terrorists SHOULD be targeted, imo]
"We support intervention by all the Arab nations and the United Nations in a direct manner so we can return to the square one with the political process," al-Janabi said.
He added that he backs any effort aimed at "solving the political dilemma in Iraq and also to call for the withdrawal of the occupation forces and to change the existing government and parliament."
Al-Janabi announced he was leaving parliament Saturday — one day after his Iraqi Accordance Front announced it was suspending participation in Cabinet meetings to protest the way Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki handled legal proceedings against one of their Sunni colleagues.
Sunnis are also angry over last month's vote by the Shiite-dominated parliament to remove the speaker, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a Sunni Arab. [This is the guy who was fired for assaulting other MPs and believes that the mass murder of Iraqis "were the fault of Jews, Israelis, and Zionists..."]
"I call upon all Islamists to withdraw from this political process after it has become clear enough that we have been rendered into axes for the occupation," al-Janabi said. "We should withdraw and work against this project. We should work so that Iraq wouldn't be sold to the foreigners and neighboring countries."
Al-Janabi said he believed the only way to rid the country of the U.S. presence was "the military and resistance solution."
Earlier this year, government officials alleged that al-Janabi had ties to the insurgents and would be charged. But the government suspended an investigation under pressure from Sunni politicians.
Sunday, July 01, 2007
Ali, I can't help but say the following. I know we're supposed to be polite here and I apologize in advance if this comment offends you or anybody else. But I must get it off my shoulders.
I have noticed that many Iraqis have been blaming the Iraqi government for failing to provide security while not mentioning a word about the bombers who mass murder Iraqis. In this post, you have used a popular Iraqi idiom to slam the Iraqi government for not reacting properly to the murder of Rahim al-Maliki. I am with you on this, and I agree that the Iraqi govt has not done enough to provide security for all Iraqis. They seem to sit comfortably in the Green Zone while ordinary Iraqis are murdered on a daily basis. But I think that this idiom, '3arab wain w 6anboora wain' applies equally, if not more so, to the Iraqis who constantly attack the current Iraqi govt without mentioning a single word about the salafi khewat el GA7BA [brothers of whores] who mass murder Iraqis like this. I'm sick of hearing Iraqis who expect the Iraqi govt to wave some magic wand that will prevent these salafi scum from wearing explosives and detonating them among our beloved Iraqis like Rahim al-Mailiki. At least mention a word about these murderous moronic "Muslims" before, or after slamming the Iraqi govt.
Was that too much? Am I mean? Ali seems to be a cool cat, but I had to do that to feel relieved.