Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Country with deep roots

I remember seeing this about a year ago, and a coworker forwarded it to me yesterday. Can anybody tell which part of it is false?

1. The Garden of Eden was in Iraq

2. Mesopotamia, which is now Iraq, was the cradle of civilization!

3. Noah built the ark in Iraq

4. The Tower of Babel was in Iraq

5. Abraham was from Ur, which is in Southern Iraq!

6. Isaac's wife Rebekah is from Nahor, which is in Iraq!

7. Jacob met Rachel in Iraq

8. Jonah preached in Nineveh - which is in Iraq

9. Assyria, which is in Iraq, conquered the ten tribes of Israel

10. Amos cried out in Iraq!

11. Babylon, which is in Iraq, destroyed Jerusalem

12. Daniel was in the lion's den in Iraq!

13. The three Hebrew children were in the fire in Iraq (Jesus had been in Iraq also as the fourth person in the Fiery Furnace!)

14. Belshazzar, the King of Babylon saw the 'writing on the wall' in Iraq

15. Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, carried the Jews captive into Iraq

16. Ezekiel preached in Iraq

17. The wise men were from Iraq

18. Peter preached in Iraq

19. The 'Empire of Man' described in Revelation is called Babylon , which was a city in Iraq!

And you have probably seen this one: Israel is the nation most often mentioned in the Bible. But do you know which nation is second? It is Iraq! However, that is not the name that is used in the Bible.

The names used in the Bible are Babylon, Land of Shinar, and Mesopotamia. The word Mesopotamia means between the two rivers, more exactly between the Tigris
and Euphrates Rivers. The name Iraq , means country with deep roots.

Indeed Iraq is a country with deep roots and is a very significant country in the Bible. No other nation, except Israel, has more history and prophecy associated
with it than Iraq.

And also, This is something to think about: Since America is typically represented by an eagle. Saddam should have read up on his Muslim passages...The following verse is from the Koran, (the Islamic Bible):

Koran ( 9:11 ) - For it is written that a son of Arabia would awaken a fearsome Eagle. The wrath of the Eagle would be felt throughout the lands of Allah and lo, while some of the people trembled in despair still more rejoiced; for the wrath of the Eagle cleansed the lands of Allah;
And there was peace.
(Note the verse number!) Hmmmmmmm?!

PS - I just found this: Iraq In The Bible
by David L. Brown, Ph.D
--scroll to the bottom to see these claims repeated (or originated?) there.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What Iraq needs to do to be accepted by IOC

Too good not to post.

Don't Hold the Olympics Without Iraq
July 29, 2008; Page A17

The decision last week by the International Olympic Committee to ban Iraq from participating in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing reflects far more negatively on the committee itself than on Iraq.

The country's sin, as described by the IOC, is to have changed the members of its national Olympic committee, awarding posts based on local political loyalties. This is an interesting accusation -- given that the previous chief of Iraq's Olympic effort was Uday Hussein, the son of Iraq's former dictator.

If Uday Hussein was acceptable to the IOC, why is the committee up in arms about the Iraqi government's decision to reshuffle its Olympic management team? The answer is that Iraq's new Olympic managers have not yet been accredited by the IOC. What will it take to get them accredited? Will they have to start torturing their athletes the way Uday used to do, when they failed to perform to his liking?

There is a lot more at stake here than the bruised egos of IOC bureaucrats -- who for the most part, owe their own appointments to political connections within their national governments. The mission of the International Olympic Committee is to provide support and coordination for an event that aims to bring nations together through sports. And Iraqi athletes have, in recent years, overcome overwhelming odds for a chance to join in the Games.

Many have come under attack from al Qaeda terrorists. In May 2006, for example, an Iraqi tennis coach and two players were shot to death for wearing shorts. Meanwhile, most Iraqi athletes have had to train for the upcoming games in a country where daily chaos and a dire lack of financial support and equipment made their efforts to qualify for some of the upcoming events all the more heroic.


Monday, July 28, 2008

AQI running low on male suicide bombers

Today four women blew themselves up among pilgrims and Kurdish protesters. Al Qaeda in Iraq has been turning increasingly to women to carry out suicide bombings in the last year. The rise in female suicide bombers in Iraq has compelled many Iraqi women to join Iraq's security forces to frisk women at checkpoints - for $10 per day.

Iraq Banned From Beijing Olympics

This is sad, especially considering this is the fault of the sectarian idiots in the current Iraqi government!

"The dispute between Iraq and the IOC began when the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved on May 20 to replace the members of the Iraqi Olympic committee, which included Iraqis of various ethnic and sectarian backgrounds. The new committee is made up almost entirely of Shiites, according to two members of the disbanded panel."

And to add insult to injury, to prove to the world just how stupid they really are, the new committee's secretary general, Sameer al-Hashemi, said "I'm sure our athletes wouldn't win anything, even if they could go."

I think this story is symbolic; it is more proof of the Iraqi government's unwillingness to represent and unify all Iraqis.

Olympics-Iraq banned from Beijing Games, says NOC chief

By Waleed Ibrahim

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq have been banned from next month's Beijing Games because of a government decision to disband the country's National Olympic Committee (NOC), a senior official said on Thursday.

"This morning we were informed of the final decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to suspend the membership of the Iraqi Olympic Committee," NOC general secretary Hussein al-Amidi told Reuters.

"It is a blow to Iraq and its international reputation, its athletes and its youth."

The government of Iraq disbanded the NOC in May because of a dispute over how it had been assembled. The IOC gave Iraq a deadline to reinstate the committee but the government has refused to back down.

Iraq had planned to send a small team despite violence that has killed more than 100 athletes in the country since the 2003 United States-led invasion.

At least seven Iraqi athletes, two rowers, a weightlifter, a sprinter, a discus thrower, a judoka and an archer, had won places in Beijing.

"There's nothing I can do. The government of Iraq wanted this. I can't believe I'm not going to take part in the Beijing Olympics. The news is hard to take," archer Ali Adnan told Reuters from Egypt where he had been training.


Monday, July 21, 2008

"The Qur'an" on YouTube

Why are there so many interpretations of the Qur'an? Why is Islam practiced so differently throughout the world? Local cultures have a huge influence on how Islam is practiced and this is illustrated very well in this film. As I wrote before, this is an excellent documentary.

This is part 2:

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12

Mithal al Alusi

Mithal al Alusi survives another assassination attempt.

Talisman Gate: Alusi Survives Yet Another Assassination Attempt

"Liberal Iraqi MP Mithal Alusi’s family home in West Baghdad's Hai Al-Jam’ia neighborhood was reduced to rubble this morning after terrorists had rigged the structure with explosives in an apparent assassination attempt. Alusi, a Sunni, had been leading in recent weeks the drive to repatriate internally displaced Shia and Sunni families back to their neighborhoods in Western Baghdad.

A couple of days ago, Alusi visited the house that his late father, a college professor, had built in the 1970s but did not enter the premises. There is a ‘Sons of Iraq’ checkpoint manned by ex-insurgents directly across from the house. An investigation as to the causes of their negligence (surprise, surprise) is underway by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior.

Today’s event is a reminder that men such as Alusi, whose two sons were killed in a previous assassination attempt in February 2005, are still active in Iraqi politics and had never given up on the country despite being embattled and unfunded. He always stood for a secular and non-sectarian patriotic agenda, one that is being emulated by many Iraqi politicians now. It is even being parroted by the Consensus Bloc that rejoined Maliki's cabinet a couple of days ago. They have come a long way since their previous candidate for the Ministry of Culture fled Iraq over a year ago--with U.S. official connivance--ahead of an arrest warrant charging him with the murder of Alusi's sons."


Mosques increasingly not welcome in Europe

I wonder why. Compare this to America, where the US State Department is promoting a "Mosques of America" calendar, and some American conservatives are unhappy about it.

Mosques increasingly not welcome in Europe

By Jeffrey Stinson, USA TODAY
LONDON — Europeans are increasingly lashing out at the construction of mosques in their cities as terrorism fears and continued immigration feed anti-Muslim sentiment across the continent.

The latest dispute is in Switzerland, which is planning a nationwide referendum to ban minarets on mosques. This month, Italy's interior minister vowed to close a controversial mosque in Milan.

Some analysts call the mosque conflicts the manifestation of a growing fear that Muslims aren't assimilating, don't accept Western values and pose a threat to security. "It's a visible symbol of anti-Muslim feelings in Europe," says Danièle Joly, director of the Center for Research in Ethnic Relations at the University of Warwick in England. "It's part of an Islamophobia. Europeans feel threatened."

The disputes reflect unease with the estimated 18 million Muslims who constitute the continent's second-biggest religion, living amid Western Europe's predominantly Christian population of 400 million, Joly says.

Anti-Muslim sentiment

The clashes also represent a turnaround from the 1980s and '90s, when construction of large mosques was accepted and even celebrated in many cities. "I think the tide has turned," Joly says.

Indicative of the change:

• Supporters of the Swiss referendum collected enough signatures two weeks ago to call for a constitutional ban on minarets, the towers used to call worshipers to prayer. No date has been set for the vote.

• Italy's Interior Minister Roberto Maroni announced this month that he wants to close a Milan mosque because crowds attending Friday prayers spill onto the street and irritate neighbors. In April, the city of Bologna scrapped plans for a new mosque, saying Muslim leaders failed to meet certain requirements, including making public its source of funding.

• In Austria, the southern province of Carinthia passed a law in February that effectively bans the construction of mosques by requiring them to fit within the overall look and harmony of villages and towns.

• Far-right leaders from 15 European cities met in Antwerp, Belgium, in January and called for a ban on new mosques and a halt to "the Islamization" of European cities. The group said mosques act as catalysts for taking over neighborhoods and imposing Islamic ways of life on Europeans.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Iraqi on US long-term presence: “I find it in Germany and that’s a strong country. Why not in Iraq?”

A good article about Iraqis' feelings towards Barack Obama. Thanks IraqPundit!

In Iraq, Mixed Feelings About Obama and His Troop Proposal

Published: July 17, 2008

BAGHDAD — A tough Iraqi general, a former special operations officer with a baritone voice and a barrel chest, melted into smiles when asked about Senator Barack Obama.

“Everyone in Iraq likes him,” said the general, Nassir al-Hiti. “I like him. He’s young. Very active. We would be very happy if he was elected president.”

But mention Mr. Obama’s plan for withdrawing American soldiers, and the general stiffens.

“Very difficult,” he said, shaking his head. “Any army would love to work without any help, but let me be honest: for now, we don’t have that ability.”

Thus in a few brisk sentences, the general summed up the conflicting emotions about Mr. Obama in Iraq, the place outside America with perhaps the most riding on its relationship with him.

There was, as Mr. Obama prepared to visit here, excitement over a man who is the anti-Bush in almost every way: a Democrat who opposed a war that many Iraqis feel devastated their nation. And many in the political elite recognize that Mr. Obama shares their hope for a more rapid withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.

But his support for troop withdrawal cuts both ways, reflecting a deep internal quandary in Iraq: for many middle-class Iraqis, affection for Mr. Obama is tempered by worry that his proposal could lead to chaos in a nation already devastated by war. Many Iraqis also acknowledge that security gains in recent months were achieved partly by the buildup of American troops, which Mr. Obama opposed and his presumptive Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, supported.

“In no way do I favor the occupation of my country,” said Abu Ibrahim, a Western-educated businessman in Baghdad, “but there is a moral obligation on the Americans at this point.”

Like many Iraqis, Mr. Ibrahim sees Mr. Obama favorably, describing him as “much more humane than Bush or McCain.”

“He seems like a nice guy,” Mr. Ibrahim said. But he hoped that Mr. Obama’s statements about a relatively fast pullout were mere campaign talk.

“It’s a very big assumption that just because he wants to pull troops out, he’ll be able to do it,” he said. “The American strategy in the region requires troops to remain in Iraq for a long time.”

It is not certain exactly when Mr. Obama will arrive here or whom he will meet. Such official trips are always shrouded in secrecy for security reasons.

But as word spread of the impending visit — Mr. Obama’s first as the presumed Democratic nominee for president — there were fresh reminders of the country’s vulnerability. In the past two days, around 70 Iraqis were killed in suicide bomb attacks, despite recent gains in safety that Mr. Obama uses as one argument for withdrawal.

And despite those improvements, street interviews remain risky in Iraq. For this article, 18 people were interviewed about their opinions of Mr. Obama, in Baghdad, in the northern city of Mosul, in the holy Shiite city of Najaf, and in the Sunni suburb of Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad.

Even as some Iraqis disagreed about Mr. Obama’s stance on withdrawal, they expressed broad approval for him personally as an improvement over Mr. Bush, who remains unpopular among broad portions of Iraqi society five years after the war began. No one interviewed expressed a strong dislike for Mr. Obama.

Saad Sultan, an official in an Iraqi government ministry, contended that Mr. Obama could give a fresh start to relations between the Arab world and the United States. Mr. Obama has never practiced Islam; his father, whom he barely knew, was born Muslim, but became a nonbeliever. Mr. Sultan, however, like many Iraqis, feels instinctively close to the senator because he heard that he had Muslim roots.

“Every time I see Obama I say: ‘He’s close to us. Maybe he’ll see us in a different way,’ ” Mr. Sultan said. “I find Obama very close to my heart.”

Race is also a consideration. Muhammad Ahmed Kareem, 49, an engineer from Mosul, said he had high expectations of Mr. Obama because his experience as a black man in America might give him more empathy for others who feel oppressed by a powerful West. “Blacks suffered a lot of discrimination, much like Arabs,” Mr. Kareem said. “That’s why we expect that his tenure will be much better.”

But Mr. Obama also frames the sometimes contradictory feelings Iraqis have about America as the withdrawal of troops has moved closer to the political mainstream in both countries. Already, the units brought in for the so-called surge last year have left, and the Bush administration has in recent days acknowledged the need both to transfer troops from Iraq to an ever-more-volatile Afghanistan and to recognize that a broader withdrawal is an “aspirational goal” for Iraqis.

Mr. Obama has advocated a withdrawal that would remove most combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office. Despite some fears about such a departure, that stance is not unpopular here. Many Iraqis hate American forces because soldiers have killed their relatives and friends, and they say they want the troops out.

“Of course I want the American forces to leave Iraq,” said May Adnan Yunis, whose sister was killed, along with a female and a male co-worker, when they were gunned down by American soldiers while driving to work at Baghdad International Airport three weeks ago. “I want them to go to hell.”

After the killings, a statement by the American military describing the three employees as “criminals” who shot at the soldiers inflamed Iraqi officials even more. In a rare public rebuke of the American military, the Iraqi armed forces general command described the American soldiers’ actions as crimes “committed in cold blood.”

For General Hiti, who commands a swath of western Baghdad, the American military is a necessary, if vexing, presence. He ticks off the ways it helps: evacuating wounded Iraqi soldiers, bringing in helicopters when things go wrong, defusing bombs, getting detailed pictures of areas from drone planes.

But the issue of withdrawal is immensely complex, and some of the functions mentioned by General Hiti would not be affected under Mr. Obama’s plan. The senator is calling for the withdrawal of combat brigades, but has said a residual force would still pursue extremist militants, protect American troops and train Iraqi security forces.

In negotiations on the future troop presence, both sides were initially focused on concluding a long-term security agreement. But the Iraqi government is now rejecting that and has focused solely on a temporary agreement to begin next year after the United Nations mandate that serves as the legal basis for the American military presence expires.

For weeks American officials had insisted that widespread Iraqi objections to the long-term pact were merely overheated words from Iraqi politicians. Now, they acknowledge that they underestimated Iraqis’ fears of acquiescing to what the Iraqis see as a colonial relationship that would allow American forces to indefinitely operate permanent bases under special laws.

“The Iraqis have a real political issue here,” said one American official, who said the Iraqis viewed any deal that would replicate the broad powers Americans now have “as a scarlet letter.”

But for some Iraqis the American presence remains the backbone of security in the neighborhood. Saidiya, a southern Baghdad district, was so brutalized by violence a year ago that a young Iraqi television reporter who fled thought he would never come back. But a telephone call from his father in December persuaded him to return. An American unit had planted itself in the district, helping chase away radicals. The family could go out shopping. They could drive their car to the gas station.

“The Americans paved the way for the Iraqi Army there,” said the young man, who married this year. “If they weren’t there, the Iraqi forces could not have taken control.” Even so, he agreed with Mr. Obama’s plan for a faster withdrawal. American forces “helped the Iraqi Army to get back its dignity,” he said. “They are qualified now.”

But Iraq is now a complex landscape. Some areas are subdued, and others are still racked by violence and calibrating troop presence will be tricky.

Falah al-Alousy is the director of an organization that runs a school in an area south of Baghdad that was controlled by religious extremists two years ago. Former insurgents turned against the militant group, but local authorities still rely heavily on Americans to keep the peace; the Iraqi Army, largely Shiite, is not allowed to patrol in the area, Mr. Alousy said.

“Al Qaeda would rearrange itself and come back, if the Americans withdraw,” he said. As for Mr. Obama’s plan for withdrawal, “It’s just propaganda for an election.”

Most Iraqis dislike the fact that their country is occupied, but a few well-educated Iraqis who have traveled abroad say they would not oppose a permanent American military presence, something that Mr. Obama opposes. Saad Sultan, the Iraqi government official, said his travels in Germany, where there have been American bases since the end of World War II, softened his attitude toward a long-term presence. “I have no problem to have a camp here,” he said. “I find it in Germany and that’s a strong country. Why not in Iraq?”

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Lebanese to celebrate release of murderer

How embarrassing for my Arab brothers. How embarrassing for the Shia. How can anybody celebrate the release of this cockroach??

Lebanon to celebrate prisoners' return from Israel

'Kantar is serving multiple life terms in Israel after he and three other Lebanese infiltrated Israel in 1979 and staged a grisly attack in the northern coastal town of Nahariya. An Israeli court convicted Kantar of killing a policeman and then kidnapping a man and his 4-year-old daughter and killing them outside their home.'

From another article: 'Among those due to be handed over is Samir Kuntar, who has spent nearly three decades in Israeli jails for murder and attempted murder. In 1979, at the age of 16, he was one of four militants who sailed from Lebanon to the coast at Nahariya on a rubber dinghy and then attacked an apartment block.

They broke into a flat and dragged out a man, Danny Haran, and his four-year-old daughter Einat. Kuntar, according to witnesses, shot and killed Haran and then beat his daughter to death. Haran's wife, Smadar, hid in their bedroom with their second daughter, Yael, who was two, but, as she tried to silence the child's cries, she accidentally smothered her to death.'

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Khomeinists are EVIL

I would not mind if a powerful entity overthrows the evil regime in charge of Iran. I do not advocate the bombing of civilians, but the Ayatollahs who order the murder of teenage girls for "acts incompatible with chastity" must be jailed or killed. Just my opinion.

The Qur'an

Last night I watched half of "The Qur'an" on UK's Channel 4. It is an excellent documentary that discusses the different interpretations of Qur'anic verses, including the verse that has compelled many Muslim women to wear the hijab, niqab, and ibaya:

And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their chests, and not to reveal their adornment.” (Quran 24:30)

Does this mean that a Muslim woman must cover her hair, her face, her hands? Meanwhile France has denied a Moroccan woman French citizenship apparently because she wears the niqab.

Other controversial verses are reviewed in the documentary, and some interesting people were interviewed, including Christopher Luxenberg, an author who theorized that many Qur'anic verses were mistranslated from Arameic.

Watch the full episode here.

Survivors of the Mutanabi Bombing

This is an interesting, sad, and hopeful story about an Iraqi man who lost his son and brother in the bombing of the Mutanabi Street book market in Baghdad last year. It reminded me that ordinary (and extraordinary) Sunni Arabs have also been victims of car bombs and suicide bombers in Iraq. Thank you David All for the link.

In the long anthology of Iraq's tragedies, the Hayawis represent the promise of the country's future. Despite their grief, they tenaciously refuse to surrender to the current turmoil. They belong to the fading but still influential group of middle-class Iraqis who are alarmed by their society's sectarian fissures and emerging Islamic identity and determined to preserve its cosmopolitan, secular nature.

In a country hobbled by a lack of basic services, high unemployment and scarce foreign investment, the family stands for a vibrant alternative. Violence has driven out more than 2 million people, draining Iraq of skilled professionals, but the rebuilt bookshop remains, an engine for fresh ideas and intellectual growth. Every day on Mutanabi Street, a Hayawi sells books, educating a new contingent of lawyers, doctors and computer programmers.

The Hayawis stay in Iraq out of nostalgia, nationalism and a sense of tradition, as well as economic necessity. When U.S. troops withdraw someday, Iraq will depend on families like theirs to rebuild itself, physically and psychologically.

"Iraq is my soul," the bald, silver-bearded Hayawi said. "I go and come back. But I will never leave."


I am always surprised by people who claim these bombings were the work of Americans who wanted to divide Iraqis.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sectarian violence in 1991

As my mother told me last night about her relatives who were killed in 1991, she reminded me of her uncle's wife Bumooni. Bumooni's mother was a beautiful Iranian woman who met the mayor of Najaf in Iran and eventually married him and moved to Najaf with him. Bumooni worked most of her adult life as a midwife in Najaf. My parents say she was very generous and she became famous among Najafis. In March 1991, as Saddam's forces besieged Najaf, Bumooni and her daughter took shelter in the Imam Ali Mosque. Saddam's henchmen attacked the mosque and gunned down almost everybody inside. Bumooni was shot in the abdomen. Her devastated daughter and a good samaritan carried Bumooni to her home, where she died.

In my post "No sectarian violence before 2003" I posted a documentary about the Shia uprising of 1991 and Saddam's subsequent attacks on Najaf and Kerbala.

Sanctions kill poor people

Last night my mom told me about her relatives who died in 1991. I have written about my mother's aunt (we called her 3amma), who suffered from asthma in her later years. After sanctions were imposed on Iraq in August, 1990, asthma inhalers were nowhere to be found in Baghdad, and soon after she ran out of her medicine, during the intense bombing in January, 1991, she died. My cousin told me how difficult it was during the bombing to transport her body from Baghdad to Najaf for burial.

My mom also told me about my cousin's wife's mother, who had adult-onset diabetes. She developed a kidney infection during the summer of 1991. With no antibiotics in any Iraqi pharmacy, she died. Countless Iraqis died as a result of sanctions. Rich Iraqis were not affected by sanctions. Sanctions only made Saddam stronger, which is perhaps why Saddam said no in 2001 to a British proposal to ease sanctions.

So maybe it's not quite true to claim that none of my relatives have been killed by the US.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Takfiri War on Pakistani Shia

Forward from my uncle:

Please forward this info to as many people as you can.

A Protest has been organised by Majlise Ulama Shia Europe
Saturday 12th July 2008, 2:30 PM

Against the Brutal killing of the Shias in NW Pakistan by the Taliban

Please all Brothers & Sisters attend

Venue: Pakistan High Commission
The Posters will be sent to you soon

In the name of the Most High

Mass Killing of Shī'ah Muslims in North West Pakistan

Sayyid Ali Raza Rizvi

'Whoever slays a soul, unless it be for manslaughter or for mischief in the land, it is as though he slew all men; and whoever keeps it alive, it is as though he kept alive all men' (Qur'ān: 5: 32).

This is a declaration by the Islamic Holy Book, the Qur'ān. However, there are people who call themselves Muslim, though they should not be even considered human, for they openly violate this verse. They are better known as the Taliban. Taliban (seekers) they may be, surely not of knowledge, but of blood! No one in recent history compares to them; however, they are similar to a group of people in the time of Imam 'Alī (AS) 38 AH, 6 century CE, who were known as the Kharijites (Khawārij).

People have heard and seen some photographs of their brutality and killing of innocent human beings in Afghanistan. I wish they had been stopped there, but we see them spread all over, especially in Pakistan, where they have made a covenant to kill every single Shī'ah. They started their activities in North West of Pakistan and took over some small cities and villages in tribal areas in the name of establishing Islamic states. Now we see them outside the tribal areas as well. In recent months, they have killed hundreds of innocent civilians in D.I. Khan and Kurram Agency. The two areas are deprived of many facilities and advancements that we take for granted in the western world or even the city life of Pakistan. Most recently, on 19th June 2008, twelve tribesmen were abducted by militants of Sadda. Their bodies were badly mutilated. Eight of them were found beheaded and slaughtered with chopped legs and arms and the other four were found burnt. There are other incidents continuing till today. We are pleading in the name of humanity to stop this slaughter and bloodshed.

We, the Majlis-e -'Ulamā' Shī'ah Europe, have waited long enough for reactions from Pakistani law enforcement authorities against the inhuman and brutal killing of the innocent people in the foresaid areas. Moreover, the prevailing of democracy in Pakistan has not brought any change to the situation there. Now, we believe that it is our human and religious duty to stand up in protest against this violence and oppression. We began our activity through making our community aware. However, we felt it did not have enough affect. We have made our first protest in front of the Pakistani Embassy in London on 4 July, 2008. Our representative there spoke with the Pakistani High Commissioner and made our demands known to him; namely, that we want this killing to stop as from now, otherwise, these protests will not stop here. They will continue here in London and around the globe as a voice for those who are oppressed and are not allowed freedom to live in peace.

'A government may remain with disbelief, but will not remain with oppression.' --Imam 'Alī (AS)

Majlise 'Ulamā' Shia Europe

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Saudi ex-Gitmo detainees get Royal treatment

I'm watching a BBC special on what the Saudi government is doing to rehabilitate former Guantanamo prisoners. The so-called "beneficiaries" are kept at a detention center with swimming pools, Play Stations, large screen TVs, and catering. When they graduate, their lives are sponsored by the Saudi government and everything is paid for. These guys supported Al Qaeda. Some of them committed murder. One of them is Ahmad Abdullah Al-Shaie. He was interviewed and he says he's a victim, because in Baghdad, while engaged in his jihad, he was tricked by two Iraqis into driving a fuel tanker, which exploded a few minutes later, killing nine Iraqi civilians. He said the media reported that the explosion wounded 60 civilians. He said it should be 61.

ISF & US Troop Deaths

ISF and US killed in action in Iraq, from Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq.

Based on this graph, I've estimated 190 ISF killed per month and 59 US troops killed per month over the 29 month period.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Iraq's Sovereignty

Just when I thought things were improving in Iraq, I read a depressing article about another tragic shooting of Iraqi civilians by US troops. It makes it worse that it appears the soldiers lied about it:

The U.S. military issued a press release the day of the shooting. It said troops from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, were stopped on the roadside when "criminals" traveling the road fired on them. When the soldiers fired back, the statement said, the car crashed against a wall and "exploded." Two of the U.S. vehicles had bullet holes and a weapon was found in the burned car according to the military.

Meanwhile the Iraqi government and the US are negotiating a security agreement between them that would allow US troops to operate in Iraq as they please for many years ahead. Many people are worried about Iraq's sovereignty. Initially, US officials wanted US troops to have immunity from prosecution, but eventually dropped that demand. Now Maliki says for the first time he wants a timetable for withdrawal.

Blackwater and a few US troops have been responsible for some horrendous crimes against Iraqis. With continued senseless murderous attacks on Iraqi civilians, I can understand why Iraqis would be concerned about signing a security agreement that would allow such irresponsibility, the likes of which have happened before.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Iraq's debt to Kuwait should be forgiven

Iraq's remainder of the UN-imposed $53 billion in compensation claims to Kuwait should be forgiven. Saddam Hussein made the decision to invade Kuwait. Most Iraqis did not want to go to war with Kuwait. I think it is ridiculous to force Iraq, a cash-poor war-torn country whose citizens suffered through 12 years of sanctions while Saddam got richer and stronger, to pay billions of dollars to Kuwait, an oil-rich country. Kuwait's population is just 3 million, and it was the 11th largest oil producer in the world in 2006. Kuwait was able to rebuild quickly after the 1991 war and produce 2 million barrels of oil a day by 1994 - in that article I found this interesting:

"The rebuilding phase is over," said Nader Sultan, the deputy chairman and managing director of the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corporation. "The new phase for the next five to 10 years is looking for growth markets."

Yet Kuwait's growth strategy has been influenced by the Gulf war. Twenty years after nationalizing its oil business and defiantly vowing to make its own way, Kuwait is once again looking to work closely with the West's big oil corporations. Pragmatism prevails in Kuwait these days, and that means viewing the oil companies as useful sources of capital, technology and skills. After the war, Kuwait also recognizes that there might be security benefits from partnerships with Western oil companies.

Architects and engineers are at work now on blue prints for a petrochemical plant costing nearly $2 billion that will be built and operated jointly with Union Carbide, and the Government has contracted with British Petroleum and Chevron for help with exploration, drilling and training of Kuwaiti technicians.

It made me wonder how many US troops have been in Kuwait since 1991. Certainly US troops were in Kuwait in large numbers prior to the invasion of Iraq. Yet we haven't heard of suicide bombings or market bombings in Kuwait City. No attacks on Kuwaiti security forces. Maybe this is the worst part: many insurgents who fight in Iraq grew up in Kuwait. It's like the Jordanian who lived all his life within 15 miles of the Palestinian border, and to fight the infidel invader (ostensibly) he travels hundreds of miles and ends up mass murdering Iraqis.

Furthermore, Iraq has suffered through cruel sanctions and another war since the war of 1991. The damage inflicted on Iraq since 1991 has been much greater than the damage inflicted on Kuwait during the six months it was occupied by Iraq. Iraq has already paid reparations totaling $19 billion by 2005. Iraq still owes about $28 billion. The UN should make the move (because Kuwait apparently won't) to forgive Iraq's debt to Kuwait. It is only fair, in my opinion, given that Saddam and his henchmen killed any Iraqi who refused to serve in their army. It seems wrong to impose this debt on Iraq.

PS: I just deleted this part of the post: "Kuwait's government won't even recognize Iraq's new government, yet they demand reparation payments from Iraq." Iraq and Kuwait restored diplomatic relations in 2004! Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is still considering restoring diplomatic ties with Iraq.

More Arabs recognize Iraqi govt as legit

More good news. Arab nations are finally beginning to recognize the legitimacy of the Iraqi government and are officially normalizing relations with Iraq. It does not surprise me that KSA will probably be the last Arab country to restore diplomatic relations with Iraq and might be the last country on earth to forgive Iraq's debt, which was incurred during Saddam's rule. Thanks Maury. Bold below is by me.

UAE cancels Iraq debt, names new ambassador

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer Sun Jul 6, 8:51 PM ET

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - The United Arab Emirates canceled billions of dollars of Iraqi debt Sunday and moved to restore a full diplomatic mission in Baghdad, evidence of Iraq's improved security and growing acceptance of its Shiite-led government.

The Abu Dhabi government announced the debt relief and the naming of a new ambassador to Baghdad shortly after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki began a visit to the wealthy Gulf nation.

The news was sure to bolster al-Maliki's government, which has been urging Iraq's Sunni Arab neighbors to forgive loans made during Saddam Hussein's regime and restore diplomatic relations.

Al-Maliki, who has been in office since May 2006, thanked the UAE for the debt cancellation, telling local businessmen it was a "swift and courageous" decision.

The Emirates' official news agency, WAM, quoted the president, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, as saying he hoped canceling the debt would lighten the "economic burden" facing Iraqis and he urged the country to unite behind al-Maliki's government.

WAM said the debt was $4 billion excluding interest. A UAE official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media said the total debt was $7 billion with interest.

Iraq has been appealing for relief of at least $67 billion in foreign debt — owed mostly to Arab nations that have been reluctant to forgive Iraq's belligerence during Saddam Hussein's regime.

In addition, the U.N. Compensation Commission says $28 billion remains to be paid for Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Iraq now gives 5 percent of its oil revenue to meet the compensation claims.

Al-Maliki's American backers also have pushed Arab states to restore ties with Iraq, where violence has declined by 70 percent over the past year. Neighboring Jordan named an ambassador last week, and Kuwait and Bahrain say they will soon follow suit.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Reminder: NONE of my relatives murdered by US

On the Palestinian Pundit this comment was addressed to me: "If only Mojo attacked the US crimes & Sectarian death squads in the same manner/passion he attacks the resistance."

I responded: 'Sorry Zara, but none of my relatives have been murdered by the US or "sectarian death squads" (as if Al Qaeda and the "Islamic" Army of Iraq are not sectarian death squads).

Still, I've written about Blackwater and the Dogs of the Shia on my blog. Perhaps you have difficulty with my blaming the Sunni Arabs who incited the civil war in Iraq. I don't blame all Sunni Arabs, but you are sensitive to the truth, and you are sensitive to my attacks on the slime who mass murder Iraqis. I'm sorry if you are offended.

I've written on my blog about my distant relatives who were murdered by a Sunni Arab death squad - they were criminals who stole $20k from our relatives who'd lived in Amriya all their lives, and after taking the money the criminals murdered the father and his son in front of the mother and the son's Sunni Arab wife. She begged for her husband's life, telling the sectarian criminals that she is Sunni. They told her they should kill her too, for marrying an apostate. Then they took off with the family's two cars.

In 2005 my uncles, who grew up in Amriya, received letters from the local "mujahideen" warning them to leave Amriya or be killed. They moved to Najaf, along with their families, where they still live. My uncle's wife's sister was married to a translator and they decided to stay in Baghdad. Just a few weeks after my uncles moved to Najaf, the translator was shot dead in front of his family while buying bread. That happened months before Shia death squads began drilling holes in Sunni heads.

Read my first post to learn what Saddam's regime did to my two cousins in 1980 and my dad's Sunni Arab friend a few years later.

This is the truth, this is what happened to my relatives and our friends. And here you are wanting me to condemn the crimes of the US, as if I'm ok with US crimes in Iraq.'

For the record, and because I've never discussed this specific crime on my blog, even though I've discussed it in the comments: I was horrified by the gang rape and murder of Abeer Hamza al Janabi, but I do not believe all US troops should be punished for the crimes of the sick and twisted soldiers who committed that crime. By the same token, I do not blame all Sunni Arabs for the crimes of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and I don't blame all Iranians, or all Shia, for the crimes of JAM and Badr. I still believe that nonviolence is the way to go, the best way to end the US presence in Iraq, and for Iraq to succeed as a peaceful and prosperous nation.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Separation of Mosque and State

Good news: Iraq seeks ban on religious imagery in elections

POPULAR: A street vendor in Najaf sells posters of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani in 2004. His image was used widely by Shiite parties in the 2005 vote. This year he has prohibited them from doing so.

The government calls for parties to avoid using images of religious leaders. The proposed election law changes also include allowing voters to choose individuals rather than entire lists.

By Doug Smith and Saif Hameed, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
July 4, 2008

BAGHDAD -- In a move to separate mosque and state, the Iraqi government said Thursday that Islamic houses of worship should be off limits for campaigning in provincial elections scheduled for the fall.

Government spokesman Ali Dabbagh also said that photos of anyone but the candidates would be banned from campaign advertising.


Referendums in the Arab World

Here is a rare (and amusing - scroll down to see the poll) case in which non-Iraqi Arabs embrace democracy. This is an Al Jazeera poll that shows what Arabs are really concerned with these days. After Saddam Hussein was executed, Al Jazeera asked viewers if they agree with the execution. Almost 90% of respondents said "No". I doubt Iraqis were included in that poll. Nor do I believe that Iraqis were included in a 2006 Al Jazeera poll in which half of respondents said they support Usama bin Ladin. I wonder what Algerians think of the 54% of Al Jazeera viewers who said they were in favor of the double suicide bombings in Algiers last year - the results of that poll are scary. Kudos to Al Jazeera for conducting these polls and giving us an insight into what Arabs are thinking. But do Arabs care what Iraqis are thinking? Do they wonder why 87% of Iraqi Kurds and 65% of Iraqi Shia believe the invasion and overthrow of Saddam's regime was right?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

First Arab leader to visit Iraq in 5 years

For discounted oil, apparently. 

Iraqi officials say Jordan's king plans visit

AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — Jordan's King Abdullah II plans to visit Iraq soon in the first trip by an Arab head of state since Saddam Hussein was deposed in 2003, Iraqi officials said Thursday.

Abdullah's visit would be a significant step in Iraq's quest for more support from its neighbors.

Sunni Arab nations have been wary of Iraq's Shiite-dominated government and its ties with regional power Iran. Arab leaders have avoided visiting and embassies have been closed or staffed with lower level officials because of security concerns.

Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said Abdullah will hold talks next week with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and other officials.

He described Abdullah's visit as "very significant," saying he will be the "first senior Arab official to (visit) Iraq" in five years.

It "represents the continuation of Arab relations with Iraq," al-Dabbagh said in Baghdad. "The Iraqi government and people welcome this visit and we believe that such a visit would stimulate other senior Arab officials to visit Iraq to enhance bilateral relations."


Iraq today

A great post, titled "Iraq today", by Bruno Mota. Excerpts (my comment is in red):

On AQI: "The Sunni nationalist insurgency's strategic goal was to suppress the resurgent Shia, restore Sunni hegemony, and expel the Americans. The Sunnis lost the civil war to the Shia, no longer hope to rule Iraq alone, and increasingly turn toward the Americans for protection against the 'Persians'. Most of them flipped sides or went home, with the remainder gravitating towards the Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI, which incidentally shares the ideology but is only loosely associated with AQ itself).

AQI's strategic goal went a bit beyond Iraq's borders, and included inspiring an Afghan-style jihad to expel the Americans (thus making them useful allies to the Sunni nationalists), and leveraging this victory into turning the Sunni parts of Iraq into a proto-caliphate (the Islamic State of Iraq, declared in late 2006, which their erstwhile local allies were less keen on). AQI nearly succeeded when the Samarra bombing and other atrocities deliberately ignited a bloody ethnic [I would say sectarian or ethno-sectarian] war that nearly destroyed (or finished destroying) the country. Eventually, however, it lost too. Significantly, its defeat is due in large measure to the rejection, in Anbar and elsewhere, of its ideology by what was supposed to be its core constituency: conservative Sunni Arabs under American occupation."

On JAM: "Although totally opposed to the American presence, the heterogeneous Mehdi army (or Jaysh al Mahdi, JAM for short) was never primarily, or consistenly, a proper Shia insurgency. After staging two uprising in 2004, which the Americans put down after some hard (if lopsided) fighting, direct confrontations subsided. JAM insurgent activity was minor compared to attacks by Sunni groups until late 2007, which is also when the EFP started appearing in greater numbers. Indeed, most of JAM spent most of its time either ethnically cleansing Sunnis in eastern Baghdad or running various criminal enterprises, rather than fighting the US. Mind you, the Sadrists are extremely nationalistic and no friends of the Americans (their rank and file are also far more anti-Iranian than, say, Badr cadres). But it is a different dynamic from that of Sunni insurgents. First, JAM has more of a return address, or at least has arrestable public faces and some physical infrastructure. Second, they have a constituency which demands protection from AQI tender mercies and goodies from their patronage network. Thirdly, they are or were in the government."

On insurgent groups in general: "JAM is not beaten, but it has taken a beating. Unlike AQI, however, it still retains substantial popular support. As I will attempt to show, the most significant factor determining what happens next in Iraq is whether the Sadrists and the remains of the Sunni nationalistic insurgency, who are currently marginalized by the central government, can be brought back into something resembling a political and social compact.

For a decent outcome to happen, it is necessary that these outsiders be given enough of a stake, both in terms of government services (or, more realistically, patronage), and political participation. In that regard, the obduracy of the Maliki government (by dragging its feet on the hiring of Sunnis, or in providing them with governmental services) is probably one of the most worrisome (and intractable) problems in Iraq today.This is compounded by widespread corruption, and the absence of a competent civil service or a functioning civil society."

On the future: "Much will depend on the manner in which the upcoming provincial, and later national, elections are conducted. If popular groups or individuals are excluded, or if there is significant vote rigging or voter intimidation, the Sadrists and the various Awakening/Sons of Iraq/etc groups will probably abandon the political process altogether. A fair and well-run election on the other hand will bring into the political process these outsiders and sweep away many of the currently underperforming insiders. A blatantly rigged or eternally postponed election will probably push said outsiders back to a new insurgency, and will lead to either a resumption of the civil war or (more likely, in my view) the imposition of a Dawa/SIIC/Kurdish co-dictatorship."

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Send a book, build democracy

I admire Christopher Hitchens.  Thanks vza for the link.

Book Drive for Iraq

How you can do your bit to build democracy.

Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty. Click image to expand.

It's quite common to read, usually from liberal opponents of the engagement in Iraq, that George W. Bush's administration hasn't asked the American people to make any sacrifices. I must confess that I never quite understand this criticism. As a society, we collectively contribute a great deal from our common treasury to give Iraq a fighting chance to recover from three decades of war and fascism and to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemies of civilization. And as fellow citizens, we experience the agony of loss when our soldiers, aid workers, civil servants, and others are murdered. (That each of these is a volunteer is a great cause for national pride.)

However, I do believe that many people wish they could do something positive and make a contribution, however small, to the effort to build democracy in Iraq. And I have a suggestion. In the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniya, the American University of Iraq has just opened its doors. And it is appealing for people to donate books.

Here is some background: In 2006, the McKinsey consulting group was hired by my friend Barham Salih, the deputy prime minister of Iraq, to produce a business plan for a university along the lines of the existing success stories of the American Universities in Cairo and Beirut. The board of trustees includes Ayad Allawi, Iraq's former prime minister, Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins, Kanan Makiya of Brandeis, and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. The U.S. Congress has pledged more than $10 million to the project, as has the Kurdish Regional Government, the autonomous administration of the country's northeastern provinces. For reasons of security, the only campus open at present is in this area of Iraq, where Americans are not targeted and where al-Qaida dares not operate. But Salih, who is himself a Kurd and a native of Sulaymaniya, hopes that as the situation on the ground improves, there will also be campuses in Baghdad and Basra.


Iraq Opens 6 Oil Fields to Global Bidding

Just days after it was reported that Iraq was in the final stages of signing short-term service contracts with four oil giants, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani announced that long-term contracts on six existing oil fields will be opened to global bidding.

Iraq Opens Oil Fields To Global Bidding

60% Increase In Output Sought

By Sudarsan Raghavan and Steven Mufson
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, July 1, 2008; Page A01

BAGHDAD, June 30 -- Iraq's government invited foreign firms Monday to help boost the production of the country's major oil fields, beginning a global competition for access to the world's third-largest reserves.

Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani said the government would seek to tap Western technology and capital to increase Iraqi oil production by about 60 percent, or approximately 1.5 million barrels a day, swelling Iraqi oil revenue and potentially easing tight petroleum markets where prices have doubled in the past year.

Shahristani said 35 companies -- including firms from the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and India -- had been selected to bid on long-term contracts to provide services, equipment, training and advice on the country's biggest oil fields, which have suffered from age, technological neglect and mismanagement during years of war and economic sanctions.