Saturday, January 31, 2009

Blackwater to be kicked out of Iraq

Good news: State Department Cancels Iraq Contract With Blackwater

Thanks Molly for the heads up. I've posted a lot about Blackwater and I wondered why it took so long for the US government to act. I wonder if they would have done anything if the media (especially Keith Olbermann) had not put so much pressure on them. Still I suppose we should thank the State Department for doing something, even if it is a bit late.

Now I wonder if they will do something about Aegis, the British security firm whose employees did this in 2004:

Interesting that nobody complained nearly as much about Aegis as they did about Blackwater.

Update (2/2/09): I had to find a different source for the video, because YouTube has removed it due to a copyright claim by Aegis.

Provincial Elections

I wonder if any of our Arab and leftist brothers consider these elections to be a step in the right direction.

A step in the right direction

Jan 31st 2009 | NEW YORK

Nervous and hopeful, Iraqis vote in provincial elections on Saturday

'LOCAL elections can often pass unnoticed by the world beyond. But Iraq’s provincial elections on Saturday January 31st are of greater importance than most. The polls are a first test of strength for Iraq’s political factions since a flawed vote in 2005 and should also give some guide to a general election that is due before the end of the year. If the polls on Saturday attract a decent turnout and pass off fairly and peacefully, Iraq will have taken a big step towards becoming a functioning democracy. But much could go badly.

Only 14 of Iraq’s 18 provinces will take part in the regional vote. The three Kurdish provinces in the north, and the disputed province of Kirkuk, will hold their elections later, marking that region’s semi-detached status. Better security, with American troops sitting back and leaving it to local forces, should ensure that most Iraqis with a vote will go to the polls. To this end, some 620,000 police, soldiers and other were allowed to cast advance ballots on Wednesday, freeing them for weekend duties. In a gratifying sign of how the main vote will go, turnout for early voting was said to be high.

This time around Iraq’s minority Sunnis are likely to be drawn into the political process. Dominant under Saddam Hussein, himself a Sunni, they felt shut out and demonised after the American invasion in 2003. As a result most Sunnis boycotted the vote for both national and provincial power in 2005. Therefore this election will be the first real test of Sunni loyalties. If they turn out in large numbers, that would suggest that Sunnis feel they play an important role in the new Iraq. They have begun to claim a role in rebuilding Iraq; their tribal “awakening” of recent years has helped pacify parts of the country and weaken al-Qaeda.'


Friday, January 30, 2009


I know I've been hard on my Arab brethren, and maybe I generalize a bit much about Arabs. Certainly Arabs do not all act or think alike. There are many things about Arab culture that I love, like the food and music, for example. Some of the best Arabic music has been made by Lebanese, who overall may be the most beautiful people in the world. Beirut has always been known as the Paris of the Middle East, and it's where my parents spent their honeymoon in the late 60s. But Lebanon was plunged into sectarian civil war in 1975 and did not re-emerge from it until 1990. It took years for Lebanon to rebuild its tourism industry, and I hope to visit Beirut soon. Every Lebanese I have met in person has been very friendly, and I will not allow one Lebanese Australian on the blogosphere to taint my views of the Lebanese people. The sectarianism that tore apart Lebanon still exists today, although it may be well hidden and not discussed openly. It seems to have resurfaced with the sectarian conflict in Iraq. In the summer of 2007 my sister and I had lunch at a Lebanese restaurant in London. The owner asked us where we are from. We told him we were born in Iraq. He asked what part of Iraq. We said Baghdad. He said "Baghdad is huge. What part of Baghdad?" We knew where he was going with his questions, and finally my sister said that our parents are Najefi. He smiled and said "EHLEN wa SEHLEN!" I guess it's hard not to identify with your sect when your fellow Shia or fellow Sunna are mass murdered, no matter where the murder takes place. But the situation in Iraq is calmer today, and it is time to move on, time to make peace.

Here is a good song by the Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

How Arabs reach out to their Iraqi “brothers”

I find it interesting how some Arabs try to reach out to me on my blog and other blogs. Recently two of my Arab brothers, a Lebanese Australian and a Palestinian American, dropped by to “reach out” by leaving some friendly, Arab-like comments for my post “Obama Talks to Arabs & Muslims”. The Lebanese Australian brother’s first comment on my blog:

Finally the curiosity got the better of me.
Books you're reading:
Elie Wiesel?!!
For godssake mojo!
Elie Wiesel who's closer to a viper than to a weasel? For godsake, mojo!! Should I remind you how despicable this person is? This 'benefactor of humanity', the "great advocate for human rights' who never had anything to say about the Palestinian tragedy but scorn, contempt and accusations of anti-Semitism? Do you provide bags for those who feel like throwing up or should I bring my own?”

So Elie Wiesel is despicable, and I should not have his book displayed on my blog, lest my Arab brothers may vomit when visiting here. I did not know that Wiesel was a journalist for the Irgun, the militant Zionist group that participated in the attack on Deir Yassin in 1948, but I don’t think he deserves to be called “despicable” and I haven’t seen evidence that he supports the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes. Before this discussion, I knew Wiesel only from his book Night.

After the lovely exchange with my Lebanese Australian brother, who has attacked me for my “sectarianism” on other blogs before, a Palestinian American brother chimed in with this comment:

"So Mojo, it is not despicable to support colonialism and settlements in Palestine"?

It depends on what “colonialism” and “settlements” mean, I responded. I insisted that I haven’t seen evidence that Wiesel supports the expulsion of natives from their homes. Colonialism is not necessarily the expulsion of natives from their lands, he retorted. He compared Jewish settlers to the Taliban. Some Jewish settlers are fanatical and some have engaged in horrific violence against Palestinians, but like the Taliban they are not. I wrote that I often see Arabs making inappropriate comparisons, “like comparing Guantanamo to Saddam-like imprisonment, or like comparing Abu Ghraib before 2003 to Abu Ghraib after 2003. Like comparing the IDF to Nazis. It is embarrassing.” He said “you are the embarrassment Mojo.”

He demanded that I tell him if I believe Hamas is a terrorist organization or legitimate resistance. The Arabs are in love with resistance. They drink, eat, and breathe resistance. But they have no answers when I point out that many Arabs who’ve lived all their lives just miles from occupied Palestine ended up traveling hundreds of miles to the east to mass murder Iraqis, except to say that it’s much easier to enter Iraq than to enter Israel or the West Bank, and that I should not use the term "3arab jarab". They have no answers to my bewilderment at the large number of non-Iraqi Arab suicide bombers who have killed and maimed mostly innocent Iraqis. They stay mum when I compare how the Arabs have resisted the occupation of Palestine to how the Arabs have resisted the occupation of Iraq. Apparently they would rather compare Israelis to Nazis.

He went on to write: “The good thing is our Shia brothers in Iraq overall support Palestine and the Palestinians. You are in the minority when it comes to your community and that is a good thing.”

So naturally I had to defend myself and show him that I do in fact support Palestine. I have written about Palestine on my blog. I support Palestine’s right to contiguous independent statehood, to freedom and prosperity, to peace. But I loathe the Palestinians who showed support for Saddam and Zarqawi. I will always call Arabs who supported Saddam and Zarqawi “3arab jarab”.

A few comments later my Palestinian American brother wrote this:

"Mojo, that is why i am reaching out to you but i feel that because i am Palestinians you are automatically rejecting me and judging me and my views.

I believe you support Palestine but i also believe you can't have it both ways, you can't be critical of only Arabs but not Americans who back these Arabs or who back Israel."

I asked him to give me an example of my sectarianism. He responded with: “I said i never saw you use the term Arab Jarab when it comes to Shia death squada. It is always in reference to Sunnis from what i have seen.”

Me: “There are Shia jarab, for sure. They just haven't killed any of my relatives. And the Shia jarab did not incite sectarian conflict in Iraq. There would have been no Shia Death Squads of there were no Sunni Death Squads like Al Qaeda to begin with.”

My Palestinian American brother, reaching out:

“You have no proof of that claim on death squads, it is all assumptions on your part.

Can't we argue there would be no Sunni death squads if they weren't disenfranchised?”

That’s when I found no patience left in me. I wrote “So the Baathists, with the help of 3arab jarab like Abu Musab al Zarqawi, responded to de-Baathification by blowing up markets, buses, police stations, weddings, funerals, universities.“

This is how my Arab “brothers” have reached out to me. It’s not the first time I’ve been called “sectarian”. Maybe I am sectarian. Would I be “sectarian” if the hardcore Baathists and their Wahhabi allies had not mass murdered Iraqi Shia in the first place? I doubt it.

It is not enough to commend the American President for wanting to help establish a contiguous Palestinian state. It is not enough that I have expressed sympathy with Palestinians who were expelled from their homes, who lost their children to Israeli bombing. Apparently Iraqis must express support for Hamas as well, or at least agree that Hamas is a legitimate “resistance” organization. We must condemn American support for Israel and US foreign policy in the Middle East in general, even as the same Arabs who hate America emigrate to America and become successful in America. We must not become angry when our Palestinian American friends say “bad move Shia” when we express joy or satisfaction at the hanging of Saddam or one of Saddam’s henchmen - we should at least find the humor in such statements, I am told. We must agree with our Arab “brothers” that Americans caused the sectarian conflict in Iraq, and IF Sunni Arabs caused violence in Iraq, it is because they were disenfranchised. We should not “demonize” Palestinians by linking to articles that show how some Palestinians supported Saddam or Zarqawi. We should avoid discussing Saddam's crimes before 2003, and if we must discuss life for Iraqis before 2003, we should say that it was better than after 2003, and we should blame the Americans for that and nobody else. And we must not display on our blogs books written by such “despicable” characters as Elie Wiesel.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Obama Talks to Arabs & Muslims

Obama gave his first televised address as President to Al Arabiya! WOW! This is huge. Obama continues to make history. Did he actually say that a Palestinian state should be contiguous? Did I hear that right? That's amazing. The American President said that??

I love what he said about Usama bin Ladin and Al Qaeda. He said that Al Qaeda isn't talking about how Muslim kids should get an education; AQ isn't doing anything good for Arabs and Muslims. Yeah baby! That's what I'm talking about. "...their ideas are bankrupt. There's no actions that they've taken that say a child in the Muslim world is getting a better education because of them, or has better healthcare because of them."

"Now, my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries," the President said.

I am pleasantly surprised by how quickly our new President has jumped into the role of peace broker in the Middle East.

This is the part where the President talks about Al Qaeda:

Saudi Patience Running Out

So the Saudis are losing patience. They are angry about the situation in Gaza. That's scary. Iraqis should be on high alert, should stop going to restaurants for a while until Saudis are happy again.

Iraqis continue to pay for Saddam's crimes

I find it strange that Iraqis are forced to pay compensation to Kuwait, a country that Saddam invaded 18 years ago. Also I find it strange that our ultra wealthy Arab "brothers", the ones who supported Saddam during the 80s while he massacred Iraqis, the ones who allowed their "mujahideen" to enter Iraq after 2003 to punish Iraqi "traitors and apostates" for being overjoyed at the overthrow of Saddam's regime, are forcing Iraq to pay them hundreds of millions of dollars for something that most Iraqis had nothing to do with.

Iraq agrees to pay Kuwait Airways $300 million
2 hours ago

BAGHDAD (AP) — The Iraqi government says it will pay $300 million in compensation to Kuwait Airways Corp. for claims related to Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of the neighboring emirate.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh says the Iraqi Cabinet "approved a final and comprehensive settlement" on Sunday.
He says Iraq's Justice Ministry will handle the payments.

But a spokesman for the state-owned Kuwaiti airline says the payment is by no means a "final" settlement. Adel Bourisli said Monday that the airline's total claim is $1.3 billion including interest.

The claim is part of Kuwait's efforts to force Iraq to pay reparations for the 1990 invasion that led to the 1991 Gulf War. Kuwait Airways has demanded compensation for aircraft and equipment stolen during the Iraqi invasion.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Some Gitmo detainees should not be freed

At least two former Guantanamo Bay detainees ended up murdering Iraqis after they were released. Today we learn that another former detainee, freed in 2007, has become the deputy leader of Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch. Thanks Molly for posting the link to the story below.

Freed by the U.S., Saudi Becomes a Qaeda Chief

Published: January 22, 2009

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The emergence of a former Guantánamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.

The militant, Said Ali al-Shihri, is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen’s capital, Sana, in September. He was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and passed through a Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists before resurfacing with Al Qaeda in Yemen.


Monday, January 19, 2009

African Iraqis Inspired by Obama

I just saw this on Rachel Maddow:

Obama's rise inspires African Iraqis in politics

By Aamer Madhani, USA TODAY

ZUBAYR, Iraq — In this dusty town with a large population of Iraqis of African decent, the rise of President-elect Barack Obama spurred a simple question: If he can, why can't we?

For many years, the black residents of Zubayr say, they have lived a second-class existence in Basra province, an area where Africans were first brought as slaves about 1,500 years ago. They hold no political office, often live in crippling poverty and are still sometimes referred to as "slaves" by other Iraqis.

Yet, taking inspiration from Obama's campaign, a slate of black Iraqis who call themselves the Free Iraqi Movement is making a long-shot run in the elections for provincial legislatures Jan. 31.

"We heard Obama's message of change," said Jalal Chijeel, secretary of the political party. "Iraq needs change in how they see their own black-skinned people. We need our brothers to accept us."



I found this quote on a facebook group protesting Israel's war on Gaza: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." --Martin Luther King, Jr.

Where were these people during Saddam's long reign of injustice in Iraq? Or are we not supposed to talk about injustice in Iraq before 2003?

Friday, January 16, 2009


I have been thinking about writing a post about Palestine for months. I wanted to explain how Iraq's relationship with Palestine has deteriorated since 1991 and why the Palestinians in general have supported Saddam Hussein, and how disappointing that has been for many Iraqis. I wanted to point out that the Arabs never protested the mass murder of Iraqis as much as they have protested the Israeli bombing of Gaza. It sickened me to see photos of Palestinians in Gaza protesting the killing of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the Jordanian who mass murdered Iraqis and instigated the sectarian war in Iraq.

Even after all this, it is hard for me not to sympathize with the Palestinian civilians who just want to live normal lives, especially after I read about the killing of children. Iraqi civilians have also been "accidentally" killed by US forces, but in Gaza the number of civilians, and children, killed by the IDF seems unusually high. What have these children done to Israel?

The conflict in Palestine has lasted more than 60 years now, and the root of the conflict remains the same: the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes. The Palestinian Diaspora is huge, and many of the original refugees and their descendants live in Gaza. The conflict will continue if its root is not resolved fairly.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Mass Graves

Thanks Scott for sending me this.

U.S. Scientists Unearth Truth of Saddam's Reign of Terror

Tuesday, January 6, 2009 2:13 PM

By: Dennis Fisher

A feature story in the January issue of Archaeology Magazine reports that U.S. efforts in Iraq are doing more than just bringing freedom to the once totalitarian state. American scientists are also delivering a measure of justice to the families of tens of thousands of Kurds slaughtered by Saddam Hussein's forces, according to the magazine, which hit newsstands this week.

At the prodding of the investigators at Human Rights Watch, who had heard horrific first-hand accounts of the mass executions from survivors, U.S. Army archaeologists and other experts in 2003 began excavating mass graves and gathering evidence for trials that resulted in convictions last year for several Iraqi officials and military commanders on charges of crimes against humanity.

The extraordinary - and dangerous - work done by the Army Corps of Engineers team and other forensics experts uncovered horrific scenes in more than 200 mass graves spread out across the country. Their efforts, detailed in the current issue of Archaeology, were led by Corps of Engineers archaeologist Michael Trimble.

Trimble tells Archaeology's Heather Pringle that his team unearthed evidence of ethnic cleansing from the 1990s that leaves no doubt about the atrocities committed by Hussein's regime.

"If Steven Spielberg ever did a documentary on what happened to the Kurds, this is where he would come," Trimble tells the magazine. "There are graves as far as the eye can see." Trimble’s team team picked one, and brought in heavy equipment to scrape off the top layers of sand revealing bodies just a foot and a half below the surface.

Discoveries like this one, along with a stack of documents listing the execution orders and plans for rounding up political enemies of Hussein's regime, brought international attention to the slaughter of the Kurds and was the heart of the prosecution's case against Hussein and his cronies. Trimble's testimony, which included pictures of mannequins wearing the clothes of victims, was too much for the Iraqi trial judges.

Partway through his presentation Trimble noticed one judge dabbing his eye. Two others soon followed suit. At first Trimble was puzzled, thinking something was wrong. Then he realized what was happening. 'My God,' he thought, 'they are all crying,' Trimble told Archaeology.

© 2009 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

"wainkum ya 3arab?!?!?!"

Yesterday I was watching Al Jazeera coverage of the Israeli bombing of Ghaza, and I saw a Palestinian woman yelling "wainkum ya 3arab?!" (where are you, oh Arabs?) at the camera. Today I found the answer, posted by an American Jew named Molly: the Arab "mujahideen" are too busy killing Iraqis. Also, the Gulfie Arabs are too busy collecting money owed to them by Iraq. These tasks take time and resources, the Palestinians should know.

Update (1/5/09): Another suicide bombing in Iraq. The Arab masses will begin to protest these suicide bombings very soon, I am sure of it.

Iraq suicide bombing kills at least 36
Usama Redha,Kimi Yoshino, Los Angeles Times
Monday, January 5, 2009

(01-05) 04:00 PST Baghdad --

As Shiite Muslim pilgrims made their way to a holy shrine in Baghdad on Sunday to mark one of the sect's most important religious holidays, a female suicide bomber detonated her explosives at a crowded checkpoint, killing at least three dozen people and wounding 72, Iraqi police said.

It was one of the capital's worst attacks in months and the second major bombing in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah since Dec. 27, when a minibus exploded, killing 24.

Iraqi army and police put the deaths at 38, although the prime minister's National Operations Center said it was 36. Conflicting reports on the number of dead and wounded are common in Iraq in the chaotic aftermath of attacks.

At least one report from the Health Ministry said the dead included 17 Iranian pilgrims, seven of whom were women. Seven Iraqi women were also killed by the blast, which sent shrapnel hurtling across the crowded square.