Monday, February 28, 2011

KSA arrests Shia cleric

"Saudi authorities should immediately release a Shia cleric apparently arrested on February 27, 2011, for calling for a constitutional monarchy and equal rights for Shia in his Friday sermon, Human Rights Watch said today.

The domestic intelligence agency, the General Directorate for Investigations, summoned Shaikh Tawfiq al-‘Amir to Hofuf in the al-Ahsa district of the Eastern Province and then arrested him, according to family members. No official reason was given for his arrest."

Mousavi & Karroubi jailed?

"Mousavi, Karroubi in Heshmatiyeh Prison: Opposition Website"

Their wives were arrested too!

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No-fly zone an option, says USA

Libya 2011 is looking more like the 1991 uprising in Iraq by the day, at least from a US perspective. Except the US doesn't have half a million ground troops near Libya, and with respect to the Iraqi uprising it took the US 17 months (after the uprising started) to enforce a no-fly zone in southern Iraq: "In August 1992 the NFZ in the south to the 32nd parallel was established..." Between the beginning of the uprising (March 1991) and the establishment of the no-fly zone in the south (August 1992), Saddam's regime had murdered at least 300,000 Iraqis.

Will the US get involved militarily in Libya, other than to enforce a no-fly zone? Would the US send ground troops, or even special forces? What if Qaddafi crushes the rebellion, like Saddam did? Would the US allow him to stay in power for another 12 years, like Saddam did?

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Protesters in Oman set supermarket ablaze

"Demonstrators set a Lulu supermarket ablaze and rallied at two places in this Omani seaside town yesterday in a third consecutive day of clashes.

About 1,000 protesters blocked the entrances to the Sohar Industrial Area, home to the sultanate's major industries, demanding jobs, witnesses said."

The Sultan is reponding: "The sultan of Oman has ordered the hiring of 50,000 citizens in the wake of protests over the weekend that left at least one person dead and 11 others injured."

Read more:

I was going to write the other day about Oman and how peaceful it is. My parents visited Oman a few years ago and they loved it. They said it was so clean and beautiful! So I was a little surprised to read the other day about protests in Oman. I thought everybody loved the Sultan of Oman.

Oman is vital to US interests even more than Bahrain. The Strait of Hormuz is just 54 kilometers wide at its narrowest.

Al Jazeera's positive role in uprisings

Al Jazeera's web traffic has tripled in the last month. That's impressive. Al Jazeera has played a huge role in the uprisings. But these guys on the Dylan Ratigan show don't talk about the differences between Al Jazeera Arabic's coverage of Bahrain and their coverage of Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt.

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Battles rage on in Libya

NYT: "Street battles raged in two rebel-controlled cities on Monday, as the Libyan government mounted a counterattack aimed at blunting recent gains by the opposition, Libyan and rebel officials said.

Rebel commanders reported that Libyan Air Force Migs conducted at least two bombing runs in the east, while government special forces soldiers retook a major oil refinery."

Maliki gives ministers 100 days to deliver

or be fired.

"Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki gave government ministers 100 days to deliver results and eliminate corruption or be fired, the government announced after an emergency cabinet meeting Sunday."

Sunday, February 27, 2011

1,000 years of foreign rule, monarchy, and dictatorship

is ending, I hope. Fareed also talks about America's redefined role in the Middle East. Fareed says "buckle your seat belts" at the end, talking about the future, the outcomes of these revolutions. He's right, of course.

All in the name of liberty

"There is no overstating the importance of the fact that these Arab revolutions are the works of the Arabs themselves. No foreign gunboats were coming to the rescue, the cause of their emancipation would stand or fall on its own. Intuitively, these protesters understood that the rulers had been sly, that they had convinced the Western democracies that it was either the tyrants’ writ or the prospect of mayhem and chaos.

So now, emancipated from the prison, they will make their own world and commit their own errors. The closest historical analogy is the revolutions of 1848, the Springtime of the People in Europe. That revolution erupted in France, then hit the Italian states and German principalities, and eventually reached the remote outposts of the Austrian empire. Some 50 local and national uprisings, all in the name of liberty." --Fouad Ajami

The Arab masses hadn't been blameless

Fouad Ajami: 'The crowd hadn’t been blameless, it has to be conceded. Over the decades, Arabs took the dictators’ bait, chanted their names and believed their promises. They averted their gazes from the great crimes. Out of malice or bigotry, that old “Arab street” — farewell to it, once and for all — had nothing to say about the terror inflicted on Shiites and Kurds in Iraq, for Saddam Hussein was beloved by the crowds, a pan-Arab hero, an enforcer of Sunni interests.

Nor did many Arabs take notice in 1978 when Imam Musa al-Sadr, the leader of the Shiites of Lebanon, disappeared while on a visit to Libya. In the lore of the Arabs, hospitality due a guest is a cardinal virtue of the culture, but the crime has gone unpunished. Colonel Qaddafi had money to throw around, and the scribes sang his praise.'

Yes indeed, farewell to the Arabs who supported dictatorship and tyranny, those hypocrites.

Similarities between Saddam and Qaddafi

I have noticed some similarities between Saddam and Qaddafi. Like Qaddafi, Saddam believed he was the leader of some united Arab nation. They both believed they fought valiantly and defeated the US.

Saddam was also flamboyant, although Qaddafi is on a different scale, I admit. "The only real regional analogue in recent memory is Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, but even there the megalomania and cult of personality didn’t run as deep."

They both built a number of palaces for themselves. Angry Arab wrote today: 'The tyrant who claims to not hold any official title, and who claims that the "masses" run Libya, has collected a number of palaces in Libya.'

Both dictators made their respective tribes powerful and put their sons in high positions, but there was internal conflict. "Libyan dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi heads a fractious family obsessed with power, wealth and chart-topping R&B stars, according to U.S. diplomatic cables released by anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks."

Both tyrants became wealthy from oil that lies underneath land where the dictators' political foes live: "The rebellion began in Cyrenaica, a region endowed with oil that was home to Libya’s first and only monarch, King Idris..."

Both tyrants gave up their WMD, but they kept their guns and police states.

Perhaps the most striking similarity is their determinations to fight to the bitter end: "Iraq taught us that magnitude of destruction has to be immense. Muammar Qaddafi's rhetoric suggests he understands this and is willing to follow through. This will depend on the willingness of the army to follow his directives. Saddam did not have the army, but he did have a series of concentric circles of supporters loyal to him because of the patronage he extended them (special-forces units and tribes). He had tied their interests to his survival so successfully that they could not risk defecting.

...Mr Qaddafi, like Saddam Hussein, probably cares less about external pressure because the damage has been done. He may feel he can go it alone, as he has in the past."

20 years ago in February 1991, while US & allied troops marched towards Baghdad, many Iraqis were looking forward to the end of Saddam's regime, and a rumor spread among Iraqis that suggested Saddam and family had their bags packed and were ready to go to Libya. It's too bad that didn't happen. Saddam and Qaddafi could be fighting together today.

PS: They both believed they were great authors and governors: "Colonel Qaddafi had presented himself as the inheritor of the legendary Egyptian strongman Gamal Abdel Nasser. He had written, it was claimed, the three-volume Green Book, which by his lights held a solution for all the problems of governance, and servile Arab intellectuals indulged him, pretending that the collection of nonsensical dictums could be given serious reading."

PPS: Now that I think more about that rumor about Saddam going to Libya, I believe the rumor started before the US & allies began the aerial bombing campaign in 1991.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Kuwait celebrates liberation day

"Kuwait has marked two decades of liberation from Iraq by staging a large military parade made up of servicemen from many of the coalition countries that took part in the Persian Gulf War. A total of 34 nations helped to drive Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait 20 years ago, bringing the conflict to an end."

..."It's been a success story," said O'Hara. "Kuwait is a success story. And I feel, and so should all the other veterans from the many countries that participated, should feel a sense of pride that they took part in that operation 20 years ago."

Crackdown on Baghdad intellectuals

WP: 'Iraqi security forces detained about 300 people, including prominent journalists, artists and lawyers who took part in nationwide demonstrations Friday, in what some of them described as an operation to intimidate Baghdad intellectuals who hold sway over popular opinion.

On Saturday, four journalists who had been released described being rounded up well after they had left a protest of thousands at Baghdad's Tahrir Square. They said they were handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with execution by soldiers from an army intelligence unit.

"It was like they were dealing with a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives, not a group of journalists," said Hussan al-Ssairi, a journalist and poet, who described seeing hundreds of protesters in black hoods at the detention facility. "Yesterday was like a test, like a picture of the new democracy in Iraq." '

Protests continue in Baghdad

Obama urges Qaddafi to step down

"Ratcheting up the pressure, U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday said Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has lost his legitimacy to rule and urged the Libyan leader to leave power immediately.

It was the first time Obama has called for Gadhafi to step down, coming after days of bloodshed in Libya. Gadhafi has vowed to fight to the end to maintain his four-decade grip on power in the North African country."

Tunisia is most secular Arab country

Perhaps the most progressive, at least in education. Will that change with Islamic influence? I hope not.

'For all its restrictions on direct political participation, for decades, Tunisia was the most secular and progressive country the Islamic world has ever known. The regime was the least brutal in the region, its people the wealthiest and best educated.

The poverty level was just 4  per cent when the revolution broke out, which is among the lowest in the world.

Eighty per cent of the population belonged to the middle class. And the education system — allocated more funding than the army — ranked 17th globally in terms of quality. The veil was banned in public institutions, polygamy was outlawed, mosques were shuttered outside prayer times, and men needed permission from the local police to grow a beard.

It was the only Muslim country where abortion was legal, where frank sex education was compulsory in schools, and where children had it drummed into their heads that religion and politics were distinct and separate.

Radical Islamists opposed to this strict secular order were either exiled or imprisoned. Now, however, with the collapse of the old order, the Islamists are starting to come back — with a vengeance.'

Read more:

Attack shuts down Iraq's biggest oil refinery

WP: "Gunmen shot their way into Iraq's largest oil refinery early Saturday, setting off explosions that forced the facility to shut down for at least two weeks, officials said.

Insurgents have attacked pipelines before, but an assault on a facility is rare, if not unprecedented, an industry analyst said.

The attack occurred about 150 miles north of Baghdad in the city of Baiji, known as an insurgent stronghold. Four guards and an engineer were killed."

Tripoli in open revolt

NYT: "TRIPOLI, Libya — A bold play by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to prove that he was firmly in control of Libya appeared to backfire Saturday as foreign journalists he invited to the capital discovered blocks of the city in open revolt.

Witnesses described snipers and antiaircraft guns firing at unarmed civilians, and security forces were removing the dead and wounded from streets and hospitals, apparently in an effort to hide the mounting toll."

Sistani calls for progress

'The spiritual leader of Iraq's Shiite majority urged politicians on Saturday to slash their benefits and improve public services, a day after thousands took part in a deadly nationwide "Day of Rage".

The cabinet is to dedicate its meeting on Sunday to the issues raised in the Friday protests, while a human rights group said investigations had to be opened into the deaths of demonstrators who rallied against high levels of corruption, unemployment and poor public services.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said the government needed to make progress on improving power supplies, providing food for the needy, creating jobs and combating corruption.

He also called on Iraq's leaders to "cancel unacceptable benefits" given to current and former politicians, and said they must "not invent unnecessary government positions that cost Iraq money".'

Basra governor resigns

I can't find this story in western media.

"In a press conference he held in Basra, Governor Sheltag Abboud announced his resignation upon the demands of the people.

More than 4000 demonstrators staged protests in denunciation to bad services in Basra and called on Governor Shetlag Abboud to resign.

Basra residents called to provide them with ration cards and eradicate unemployment and corruption in the country."

Friday, February 25, 2011

300 have been killed in Benghazi

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Where's the Money Mr. Maliki?

"Most people want to get inside the Green Zone and ask Maliki where the country's money is," said Adel, 33, a taxi driver who did not want to give his last name. "Is it under his bed, or did he send it to Iran to build nuclear weapons to attack Iraq?"

Israelis and Palestinians on Egypt

Watch this to the very end.

Iraqis don't want to go back to dictatorship

But they do want change, quickly.

'The hope was to tap into the zeitgeist of relatively non-violent democratic upheaval across the Arab world, especially that of Egypt. But it was also meant to be different: not aimed at toppling a long-reviled regime, but to hold a new administration to its promises and push it to improve. After all, as analyst Hiwa Osman points out, "Iraqis know very well what dictatorship is all about and want no part of it." Saddam Hussein, perhaps the most brutal of autocrats in the region, is still a vivid part of living memory.

But Friday's nationwide protests were far from non-violent. In the restive northern city of Mosul, at least six people were killed when security forces opened fire on a crowd of job-seeking protesters. In the southern oil center Basra, an eyewitness told TIME that some 5,000 protesters knocked down concrete blast walls, and forced the governor to resign while trying to storm the provincial council building. Clashes between crowds and security troops were also reported in Fallujah, Tikrit and Hawija. At least 15 people were killed and dozens wounded across Iraq, according to media reports.'

Read more:,8599,2055525,00.html#ixzz1F1dfj17j

Weapons exhibition in Abu Dhabi

The crown prince of Abu Dhabi is very concerned about political developments in the region. But he doesn't discuss politics with reporters.

Saif Gadhafi: "the people are with us"

"Hundreds of Thousands Protest Across Mideast"

NYT: "Hundreds of thousands of protesters turned out in cities across the Middle East on Friday to protest the unaccountability of their leaders and express solidarity with the uprising in Libya that Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi is trying to suppress with force.

The worst violence of the day appeared to be in Libya, where security forces shot at protesters as they left Friday prayers to try to launch the first major anti-government demonstration in the capital. Demonstrations in recent days have been in other cities, and several of those have fallen to armed rebels determined to oust Colonel Qaddafi.

Protests in Iraq also took a violent turn, with security forces firing on crowds in Baghdad, Mosul, Ramadi and in Salahuddin Province, killing at least ten people. Unlike in other Middle Eastern countries, the protesters in Iraq are not seeking to topple their leaders, but are demanding better government services after years of war and deprivation.

Religious leaders and the prime minister had pleaded with people not to take to the streets, with Moktada al-Sadr saying the new government needed a chance to improve services and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki warning that insurgents could target the gatherings. But on Friday, the deaths came at the hands of government forces.

Demonstrations elsewhere — in Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt and Tunisia — were almost exclusively peaceful.

In Bahrain, pro-democracy demonstrations on a scale that appeared to dwarf the largest ever seen in the tiny Persian Gulf nation blocked miles of downtown roads and highways in Manama, the capital. The crowds overflowed from Pearl Square in the center of the city for the second time in a week, but the government once again allowed the demonstration to proceed."

Obama admin view: Arab kings will not fall

"As the Obama administration grapples with a cascade of uprisings in the Middle East, it has come to a stark recognition: the region’s monarchs are likely to survive; its presidents are more likely to fall."

Demonstrations turn violent in Iraq

"Demonstrations turned violent across Iraq on Friday, as protesters burned buildings and security forces fired on the crowds. At least 10 people have been killed, including at least two in Mosul and another in Ramadi."

No more Iraq-like wars for US

"Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates bluntly told an audience of West Point cadets on Friday that it would be unwise for the United States to ever fight another war like Iraq or Afghanistan, and that the chances of carrying out a change of regime in that fashion again are slim."

Saudi terror plotter apparently acted alone

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At least 5 people killed in protests across Iraq

'Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets Friday in a nationwide "Day of Rage" inspired by uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and other Middle Eastern nations.

At least five people were killed in clashes with security forces. News reports say the deaths occurred as demonstrators tried to storm government buildings in at least two Iraqi cities.

At least three of the people were reported killed in the northern city of Mosul, while at least two were said to have died in Hawija.'

Update: This msnbc article says at least 10 people were killed.

Shia clerics back right to peaceful protests

'Iraq’s senior Shiite Muslim clerics affirmed the right to peaceful demonstrations as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told Iraqis to stay home after five people were reported killed in clashes with security forces.

“Demonstrations on the streets of Iraq are taking place because people are collectively saying that they want to be heard,” Sheikh Ahmed Al-Safi told thousands of Muslims gathered at Imam Hussein Square in the southern city of Karbala today. “The constitution guarantees the right of protests and it is the right of any person to protest peacefully.”

Al-Safi is a spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, Iraq’s top Shiite religious leader.'

AQI "war minister" killed

"Iraqi security forces say they have killed the man considered to be the military leader of al-Qaeda in the country.

Al-Nasser Lideen Allah Abu Suleiman, also known as Noman Salman, was a leader of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), a branch of al-Qaeda.

He is believed to have been the group's "war minister" since two of its other senior leaders were killed last year."

Could the Iraqi people have overthrown Saddam?

'The Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings succeeded because the military forces of those countries refused to protect the regimes by cracking down on their own countrymen. The Egyptian military's self-image is that of a force that protects the nation and the people, not Hosni Mubarak. Yes, many top officers were his cronies, but when the push came to shove, their loyalty to the state was greater than their loyalty to the regime. The same was true in Tunisia.

Saddam, on the other hand, could always count on two armed groups whose ONLY reason for being was their loyalty to him: the Republican Guard, and the paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam. As they showed while putting down the Shi'ite uprising after the Kuwait war, these forces were perfectly happy to kill tens of thousands of Iraqis on his orders.'

Read more:

Thanks RhusLancia for posting over at Zeyad's Healing Iraq.

Fedayeen Saddam were not formed until after 1991. Otherwise Bobby Ghosh is right. Fedayeen was just another tool Saddam & Sons used to control Iraqis. Saddam was stronger in 2003 than he was in 1991.

I asked my my mom a couple of weeks ago if she thought Saddam would have fallen as easily as Mubarak. She said maybe not as easily, but she thinks eventually he would have fallen. I didn't have time to talk about 1991, but I disagree with her. Saddam had already brutally put down a major uprising in 1991 and he had a firm grip on Iraq in 2003. Saddam might have been overthrown if Iraq's Sunni Arabs, including his Republican Guard and Fedayeen, had been united with the Shia and Kurds to overthrow Saddam.

Tony Blair was helping Qaddafi with rehab

'Blair's role was particularly vital in Gadhafi's international rehabilitation.

The former British prime minister flew to Libya in 2004, holding talks with Gadhafi inside a Bedouin tent. He praised the leader for ending Libya's nuclear and chemical weapons program and stressed the need for new security alliances in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. British commercial deals soon followed.

Britain sold Libya about 40 million pounds ($55 million) worth of military and paramilitary equipment in the year ending Sept. 30, 2010, according to Foreign Office statistics. Among the items: sniper rifles, bulletproof vehicles, crowd control ammunition, and tear gas.

"What did the Foreign Office think Colonel Gadhafi meant to do with sniper rifles and tear gas grenades — go mole hunting?" asked Britain's Guardian newspaper.'

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques is Nervous

"Ten years ago Bahrain forswore torture and set up a parliament, albeit with few powers. It was praised for this by Britain and America, but reforms have since stalled. Proper steps towards democracy will annoy some of the prince’s own relatives, who hold most of the high cabinet posts and much of the country’s wealth.

The government is also caught between its Western allies, who want to see democratic progress, and its Gulf neighbours, who urge caution. Saudi Arabia, with the largest population and the biggest unemployment problem, is especially troubled. Saudi pressure probably helps explain the sudden escalation of force in Bahrain last week. Indeed, the Saudi foreign minister, with four Gulf counterparts, visited Bahrain last Thursday to support its government. They warned against “foreign meddling”, usually code for Iranian interference; most of Bahrain’s protesters were Shia, but there is no evidence that they were helped by Iran. On February 23rd Bahrain’s king jetted off to Saudi Arabia for further talks about the unrest.

In Saudi Arabia itself, last week, seven men were thrown in jail for establishing a political party. This week King Saud, who is 86, returned to the country after lengthy medical treatment overseas. He offered $37 billion in new public spending to stave off unrest. Civil servants will get a pay rise; unemployed students will get grants; more housing is to be built. But as Shibley Telhami, a Middle East specialist at the Brookings Institution, has observed, Arab protesters are seeking dignity, not just bread. Saudis have been offered no more say in the way they are governed." --The Economist

BBC: "The daughter of the former Saudi oil minister, Sheikh Yamani, Dr Mai Yamani has said the economic measures announced this week by the Saudi King will not satisfy the demands of the country's young people. Dr Mai Yamani told the BBC World Service that greater political reform was urgently needed."

Maliki says protests planned by insurgents & Saddam loyalists

'Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is calling on Iraqis to boycott an anti-government "Day of Rage" protest planned for Friday.

In a televised speech Thursday, he said such demonstrations are organized by insurgents and supporters of ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Mr. Maliki said insurgents and Saddam loyalists want to incite violence. '

I have a feeling Iraqi Shia will protest anyway.

Saudi in Texas arrested on terrorism charges

"A 20-year-old Saudi student has been arrested in Texas in a bomb plot that may have targeted former President George W. Bush and nuclear plants, U.S. authorities said on Thursday.

Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, who was admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa and was attending college in Lubbock, Texas, was arrested on Wednesday by FBI agents, the Justice Department said.

He was accused of terrorism charges involving the purchase of chemicals and equipment to make a bomb, with potential targets that included nuclear power plants. One of his e-mails included the Dallas address of Bush. Another cited three former U.S. military members who had been stationed at the Abu Ghraib prison, where Iraqis faced abuses by their American jailers."

Thanks Maury for posting.

Bahraini king frees 308 political prisoners

"King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa freed 308 political prisoners Wednesday, a day after tens of thousands of men, women and children, mostly members of the Shiite majority, formed a ribbon of protest for several miles along the Sheik Khalifa bin Salman Highway as they headed for Pearl Square, the hub of protests in the country, calling for the downfall of the government."

Iraqi forces raid journalists' office

"Gunmen raided the office of an Iraqi journalists' organization Wednesday, taking equipment such as flak jackets, laptops and video cameras, the director of the Baghdad-based independent group said.

The men wore black, military-style uniforms, said Ziyad al-Ajili, head of the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory, adding that he did not know where they were from. A Baghdad military spokesman told The Associated Press that the men were part of the Iraqi army; he gave few other details.

Al-Ajili said the gunmen made off with years of files gathered by the organization about violations against the media as well as the equipment stored in the group's downtown Baghdad offices. The group works to protect journalists in Iraq."

Benghazi is liberated

The people are celebrating.

PS: Thanks Bruno for posting this on fb!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shiite leaders urge Iraqis to defer protests

"Iraq’s top Shiite religious leaders, the populist cleric Moktada al-Sadr and Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called Wednesday for Iraqis to defer their protests, leading many members of the country’s Shiite majority to say they would not join in nationwide demonstrations scheduled for Friday.

Many Sunnis said they still planned to go ahead with the demonstrations, which are being billed as a “day of rage.” But the Shiite withdrawal dealt a significant blow to protest organizers, who had hoped to fill Iraq’s streets with millions of people to call for improved government services.

...According to a top Sadrist leader, Hazem Araji, Mr. Sadr plans to organize an informal referendum, beginning Sunday, to ask Iraqis if they think that the government has improved its services and whether they would protest against the government in six months if the services had not improved."

Even Iraq's Kurds are sick of corruption

"There is no justice in the Kurdistan region. Most of the politicians have accumulated huge wealth due to the corruption," said one of the protesters, 25-year-old Hindrin Jabar, an unemployed college graduate. "The government keeps giving false promises with no action."

خطاب القذافي باختصار....Qathafi speech in Libya

This is funny even if you don't know Arabic. He says "I smashed America! I smashed America, and France and Holland and Italy!" LOL!

Conservative Americans want to get off foreign oil

They think our foreign policy and our economy is "held hostage" by foreign oil and the likes of Qaddafi and Ahmedinejad. Joe Scarborough repeated "held hostage" several times throughout his show today. I'm still not quite sure what he means by "held hostage".

I categorize the hosts on Morning Joe as conservatives. On today's show, which included Jim Cramer (the stock guy) and Steven Rattner (a private equity investor), they discussed Thomas Friedman's article "If Not Now, When?". Mika read part of Friedman's article and said "I just wish we would...get off our dependence, so that we can not be in this situation." What situation, Mika? Please elaborate.

The implication is that we're in bed with dictators, and conservative Americans like Mika and Joe don't like that. Steven Rattner said we have no choice, we have no influence with the Saudis because we are so dependent on them. I agree with Rattner that nothing we will do in the foreseeable future will change our dependence on middle east oil. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Also it doesn't mean that we shouldn't (or can't) influence what happens inside KSA and other oil-rich states.

If the US can get the Saudis to do business (ARAMCO being the significant one in history) with us, if we can get them to be nice with Israel, if we can get them to match dollar for dollar in funding the fight against communism in Afghanistan, if we can get them to invite American soldiers (half a million of them) onto their soil and fight a war with them (against another Muslim country), then we should be able to influence them on their human rights and democracy record.

Joe emphasized the need to develop alternative forms of energy, not because it might help reduce greenhouse gases, but because it would reduce our dependence on foreign oil. And we gotta keep up with China. Those are the factors that drive conservative Americans towards energy independence.

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They didn't even mention Israel, except the part in which Mika read Friedman's reference to Israel.

At least conservative Americans are beginning to realize the importance of clean energy. In this clip Joe deserves kudos for giving credit to Jimmy Carter, who started talking about a sensible energy policy in 1977. Why doesn't the US spend more to develop clean sources of energy? Joe asks the question, but there are no answers, not on his show. Jeffrey Sachs, a Columbia University professor, answered that question on The Last Word today, and explains how billionaires are influencing politics in America. If we are being held hostage, we are being held hostage by the Koch brothers.

العقيد السعيد The Happy Colonel

I found this talented cartoonist Kharabeesh on the facebook page of my childhood friend Raad.

Any Saddam fans support Qaddafi?

I remember some Arabs, including a few Iraqis, who implied that Saddam's crushing of the armed rebellion in 1991 was natural and justified, given that the rebels wanted to overthrow their government. I wonder if they would say the same thing about the armed rebellion taking place in Libya today. Where are you, Saddam fans? Qaddafi needs your help.

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Blast walls start coming down in Baghdad

"At a time when other parts of the Arab world are in turmoil, Iraq is feeling stable enough to begin removing some of the tall concrete blast walls that went up as protection against bombings and insurgents during the height of the war.

Iraqis have seen it before. In 2009 Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki started taking down walls, only to restore them when a series of government buildings were bombed.

But in the past couple of weeks they've been coming down again, starting in Baghdad, and if this time it's for good, traffic jams will ease, trade will pick up and Baghdadis will be rid of an ugly symbol of everything Iraq has gone through since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion."

Oil hits $100/barrel

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The Arab youth are demanding reform

'It is about time. For the last 50 years, America (and Europe and Asia) have treated the Middle East as if it were just a collection of big gas stations: Saudi station, Iran station, Kuwait station, Bahrain station, Egypt station, Libya station, Iraq station, United Arab Emirates station, etc. Our message to the region has been very consistent: “Guys (it was only guys we spoke with), here’s the deal. Keep your pumps open, your oil prices low, don’t bother the Israelis too much and, as far as we’re concerned, you can do whatever you want out back. You can deprive your people of whatever civil rights you like. You can engage in however much corruption you like. You can preach whatever intolerance from your mosques that you like. You can print whatever conspiracy theories about us in your newspapers that you like. You can keep your women as illiterate as you like. You can create whatever vast welfare-state economies, without any innovative capacity, that you like. You can undereducate your youth as much as you like. Just keep your pumps open, your oil prices low, don’t hassle the Jews too much — and you can do whatever you want out back.”

It was that attitude that enabled the Arab world to be insulated from history for the last 50 years — to be ruled for decades by the same kings and dictators. Well, history is back. The combination of rising food prices, huge bulges of unemployed youth and social networks that are enabling those youths to organize against their leaders is breaking down all the barriers of fear that kept these kleptocracies in power.'

--Thomas Friedman

Libyan soldiers executed for refusing to fire on protesters

Yet another graphic video, this one showing the bodies of Libyan soldiers executed by mercenaries for refusing to fire on protesters.

Indiana deputy attorney general suggests using "live ammunition" against protesters

'Jeff Cox, deputy attorney general for the state of Indiana, suggested via Twitter that riot police "use live ammunition" against demonstrators outside Wisconsin's capitol building on Saturday night, reports "Mother Jones." '

He must be a fan of the the Saudi king or the Libyan dictator. How embarrassing!

The leftists who aligned themselves with dictatorship

Angry Arab writes "among those leftist leaders who flocked to Qadhdhafi's Libya was none other than George Habash. That can't be denied. Habash's PFLP also inexcusably aligned itself with Saddam Husayn. Those sins of the left are unforgivable by my standards because they burdened those of us leftist who came later, and they damaged the cause of Leftism in the Arab world."

I've been meaning to write a post about the Arabs and leftists who stupidly defended Saddam for all those years. What do they think now? Do they still think Saddam was a cool cat?

Too young to understand dictatorship

Chappatte : The Editorial Cartoon Site - EDITORIAL CARTOONS on World Affairs - Political Cartoons by Chapatte -

Funny! Thanks Jeri for posting on fb.

Egyptian military ignored KSA's advice

'Egypt’s military, calculating that it was no longer worth defending an 82-year-old, out-of-touch pharaoh with no palatable successor and no convincing plan for Egypt’s future, ultimately sided with the protesters on the street, at least for Act 1.

In so doing, they ignored the advice of the Saudis, who, in calls to Washington, said that President Hosni Mubarak should open fire if that’s what it took, and that Americans should just stop talking about “universal rights” and back him.'

WOW. I guess we know what to expect if there are massive protests in KSA.

Hat tip to Angry Arab for posting.

Saudi king boosts economic benefits

"Saudi Arabia's king on Wednesday ordered billions poured into a development fund that helps Saudis buy homes, get married and start businesses, state TV reported, as the oil-rich nation warily watches the unrest spreading around the Middle East.

The step appeared aimed at shoring up popular support and fending off unrest that has spread to neighboring Bahrain, the first nation in the oil-rich Gulf to experience the region's anti-government upheaval. Much of the unrest is linked to poverty as well as demands for more political freedom."

Protest planned for Friday in Baghdad

'Iraqi activists and a gamut of groups ranging from intellectuals to unemployed workers to widows are preparing for large demonstrations Friday in al-Tahrir square in central Baghdad, along with large protests in most of Iraq's provinces.

The organizers have used Facebook, Twitter and websites to circulate invitations for demonstrations on February 25, calling them the "Iraqi revolution." A Facebook page called "The Iraqi Revolution" includes still pictures and videos of previous demonstrations in Iraq and claims nearly 20,000 supporters.

On Tuesday evening, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh and Baghdad military operation spokesman Gen. Qassim Atta held a joint news conference regarding the planned demonstrations.

"The Iraqi government welcomes any demonstration by Iraqi people as long as it's a peaceful demonstration," said Al-Dabbagh.'

Qaddafi clan's lavish spending

'As the Qaddafi clan conducts a bloody struggle to hold onto power in Libya, cables obtained by WikiLeaks offer a vivid account of the lavish spending, rampant nepotism and bitter rivalries that have defined what a 2006 cable called “Qadhafi Incorporated,” using the State Department’s preference from the multiple spellings for Libya’s troubled first family.

The glimpses of the clan’s antics in recent years that have reached Libyans despite Col. Qaddafi’s tight control of the media have added to the public anger now boiling over. And the tensions between siblings could emerge as a factor in the chaos in the oil-rich African country.'

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How to spell the Libyan dictator's name?

From a WP blog post:
"According to Twitter trending topics it's spelled Gaddafi in D.C., but nationally it's Qaddafi and worldwide Gadafi/Kadhafi," Garance Franke-Ruta, an Atlantic correspondent, wrote on Twitter Monday night.

While Libya revolts against its autocratic government, the world struggles to spell the target of the protesters' name. Is it Moammar Gaddafi or Gadhafi? Both spellings could be found on the Washington Post Web site this weekend. The Stylebook at the Post has it as Gaddafi. The Stylebook at the Associated Press has it as Gadhafi.

An old Libyan Web site from 2005 had it as The Library of Congress has the "Name Authority Record," as Muammar Qaddafi. In 2009, ABC News created a list of 112 variations of the spelling of the name.

Angry Arab spelled it Qadhdhafi today. I've been spelling it Qaddafi.

I didn't even know how his name is spelled in Arabic, so I just googled it. According to Wikipedia his name in Arabic is spelled: القذافي‎. If that's correct, I would transliterate that as "Élqéthafee", with the "th" inflected and pronounced like the "th" in the word "the".

I see where the confusion comes from. The problem is that the Arabic letters "ق" and "ذ" do not exist in the English alphabet. We've already been using the letter "q" to represent the Arabic letter "ق", as in the "q" in "Iraq" and "Qabbani", for example, so we should be consistent and stick with "Q" to represent the first letter of the Libyan dictator's name (after the "Él" is dropped). "ق" is definitely not "G", "Gh", "K" or "Kh". There is no English letter other than "q" that could be used to represent the Arabic letter "ق".

The Arabic letter "ذ" is best represented by "th", but again it's pronounced like the "th" in the words "the" or "other" and not like the "th" in the word "math". Angry Arab's use of "dh" (it's repeated in his spelling because it's inflected) to represent "ذ" would be OK if "dh" were not already used to represent the Arabic letter "ض", as in the name "Dhia" or "Dhiyaa".

So the best way to spell the Libyan dictator's name, after dropping the "Él", is Qéthafee.

PS: This article explains why Libyans spell it with a G instead of a Q. The Arabic letter "ق" sounds like a G in the Libyan dialect. I did not know that. I find all north African dialects difficult to understand. Many parts of his speech the other night sounded like this to me.

Saddam's atrocities after 1991 uprising

A reminder of what Saddam's regime did to Iraq's Kurds and Marsh Arabs after the uprising of 1991. I hope Qaddafi does not survive like Saddam did after 1991.

Iraqi immigrant convicted of 2nd degree murder for killing daughter

'The father of a 20-year-old woman from Iraq, run over because she allegedly had become "too Westernized," was convicted Tuesday of second-degree murder.

The Maricopa County (Arizona) Superior Court jury convicted Faleh Hassan Almaleki, 50, in the 2009 death of Noor Faleh Almaleki.

It also found him guilty of aggravated assault, for causing serious injuries to Amal Edan Khalaf, the mother of Noor's fiance, and two counts of leaving the scene.

Almaleki, an Iraqi immigrant, was acquitted of more serious first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder charges.

He could receive up to 22 years in prison on the murder charge alone. Sentencing testimony begins Wednesday.

...Defense lawyers said Almaleki was trying to spit on Khalaf, but swerved and ended up running down both women, KTVK reported.'

I wonder why he was not convicted of first-degree murder. The schmuck deserves life in prison, if not death.

The Muslim Brotherhood

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Qaddafi loses control of eastern Libya

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Protests continue in Bahrain

'Tens of thousands of people marched in the biggest anti-government rally since the public disturbances in the island nation erupted last week, and chants of "No Shia, No Sunni, only Bahraini" and "The regime must go" rang through the multitudes tramping across the center of Manama.'

Qaddafi, the cult of personality

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Qaddafi will do anything to stay in power

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Muammar Qaddafi is a narcissist

'Without acknowledging the gravity of the crisis in the streets of the capital, he described himself in sweeping, megalomaniacal terms. “Muammar Qaddafi is history, resistance, liberty, glory, revolution,” he declared.'

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bahraini Shia should reach out to Sunnis

Nicholas Kristof writes about the protests in Bahrain: "Two things bother me about the protests. One is that the participants are overwhelmingly Shia. I’ve met a few Sunni on the roundabout, but very, very few – and that makes it less authentic and broad-based an opposition movement than it should be. There are lots of disgruntled Sunni, but they don’t go out on the streets, either because they don’t feel comfortable in a Shia-dominated movement or because their families work in the army or police (as many poor Sunnis do) and would get in severe trouble for doing so. Nonetheless, the protest organizers could try harder to reach out to the Sunni community, and a first step would be to stop the “Death to al-Khalifa” chants and similar slogans. The other day I saw a sign reading “Imagine Bahrain without the al-Khalifas.” That kind of thing is utterly inappropriate. The opposition has to do what Nelson Mandela did so brilliantly in South Africa – make clear that majority rule will not lead to persecution of the minority. Every time the democracy movement scrawls “Death to Al-Khalifa” on a sign, it erodes its own legitimacy before the world."

Qaddafi's days are numbered

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Saudi monarchs worried

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Arab Spring could be al Qaeda's fall

'The political, economic, and cultural stagnation that al Qaeda fed off for more than two decades has been replaced by the fastest moving change the region has ever witnessed, the most promising of Arab Springs.

The burgeoning democracy movement across the Middle East appears to have caught al Qaeda off guard and threatens to reduce the terrorist group to irrelevance.

"If you have freedom, al Qaeda will go away," said Osama Rushdi, a former Egyptian jihadist.

"Al Qaeda can work under a dictatorship regime, but I think if we open the door for all people to be part of society and have human rights, then there will be security not just in Egypt but around the world," Rushdi told CNN.'

Bashir says he won't run again

in four years.

"President Omar Hassan al-Bashir of Sudan, who has been in power for more than 20 years and faces international charges of genocide, will not run for office again after his current term ends in four years, a Sudanese government spokesman said Monday."

Suicide bomber kills 12 policmen

"A suicide bomber detonated a truck packed with explosives outside of a police headquarters just north of the Iraqi city of Samarra on Monday, killing 12 officers and wounding 20 others, according to a local official and a law enforcement official."

Qaddafi uses warplanes and helicopters

This is starting to look more like what Saddam did in 1991.

"The faltering government of the Libyan strongman Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi struck back at mounting protests against his 40-year rule, as helicopters and warplanes besieged parts of the capital Monday, according to witnesses and news reports from Tripoli."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Autocrats' enemies are youth and technology

At least 50 people killed today in Libya

200 people killed since the beginning of the uprising.

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Qaddafi to fight to the "last bullet"

I think Press TV is wrong. I think Qaddafi is more like Saddam than Mubarak.

MSNBC: 'After anti-government unrest spread to the Libyan capital and protesters seized military bases and weapons Sunday, Moammar Gadhafi's son went on state television to proclaim that his father remained in charge with the army's backing and would "fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet."

Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, in the regime's first comments on the six days of demonstrations, warned the protesters that they risked igniting a civil war in which Libya's oil wealth "will be burned."

The speech followed a fierce crackdown by security forces who fired on thousands of demonstrators and funeral marchers in the eastern city of Benghazi in a bloody cycle of violence that killed 60 people on Sunday alone, according to a doctor in one city hospital. Since the six days of unrest began, more than 200 people have been killed, according to medical officials, human rights groups and exiled dissidents.

Libya's response has been the harshest of any Arab country that has been wracked by the protests that toppled long-serving leaders in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt. But Gadhafi's son said his father would prevail.'

Press TV: Qaddafi leaves Libya

Tehran-based Press TV: "Libya's Muammar Gaddafi has left his country for Venezuela or Brazil, as protests calling on him to step down have turned violent, a report says."

Thanks Ghadeer for posting on fb. I hope this is true.

US very concerned about Libya violence

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TV station in Sulaimaniya burned down

"Gunmen burst into a Kurdish television station in northern Iraq on Sunday, shooting up equipment and setting fire to the building, apparently in retaliation for footage it aired earlier in the week of a deadly protest, station officials said.

Later Sunday, about 2,000 demonstrators took to the streets of this Kurdish city, 160 miles (260 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, for a fourth consecutive day to demand political and economic reforms from the parties that control the region. Police and hospital officials said at least four people were injured — two of them by bullets — after Kurdish forces fired in the air to disperse the crowd.

The attack on the television station took place Sunday morning. Forty to 50 gunmen wearing military-style clothes stormed the network's headquarters in Sulaimaniyah, spokesman Farhang Hars said. Officials at the station suggested the raid was retaliation for broadcasting footage of a demonstration last week in which two people were killed. The station had only been on air for a few days."

Iranian govt prevents protests in Tehran

NYT: "Anti-government protesters gathered in Tehran, Iran for a rally on Sunday to mark the deaths of two men killed in clashes one week earlier, but the police mounted a stultifying security presence in the city, arresting protesters and using tear gas in an attempt to prevent the unrest from escalating

Despite a steady rain, large crowds of protesters gathered throughout Tehran, the capital, from the main thoroughfare to city squares, according to opposition Web sites and witnesses. Those sites and witnesses reported that ambulances were being driven into crowds and officers were making arrests. Security forces, some on motorcycles, deployed tear gas to disperse crowds near Valiasr Square. A hazy cloud of tear gas hung over Vanak Square.

Plainclothes officers randomly stopped and frisked people on the streets and removed people from vehicles, witnesses said. There were reports of police officers firing on the crowds, although that could not be immediately verified because foreign journalists were largely not allowed to report in Iran..

Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, reported that the police had arrested the daughter of former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, one of the central figures among traditional conservatives, for taking part in a banned opposition rally and shouting anti-government slogans, according to The Associated Press and Reuters. She was later released, The AP reported."

Iran warns that protesters may be shot

by the Mujahedeen Khalq. Why would the Mujahedeen Khal, which wants to see the overthrow of the Iranian regime, shoot at protesters who also want to see the end of the regime?

WP: "An Iranian pro-government news agency claims armed opposition groups plan to shoot at people in a protest rally set for Sunday afternoon.

The report says that teams of the Mujahedeen Khalq, an Iraq-based Iranian opposition group, have entered the country to shoot people during the protest rally.

The report by hardline Fars news agency is seen as a warning to potential protesters that the demonstration will become violent.

Iran's opposition has called for a rally Sunday to mark a week since the deaths of two people in Feb. 14 clashes between security forces and opposition protesters in Tehran.

It was the largest demonstration by the opposition in more than a year.

The opposition blames the deaths on government forces."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Bahraini army withdraws from Pearl Square

Libya cuts off Internet service

"Internet service has been cut off in Libya as protesters step up demonstrations against longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, according to a U.S. company that monitors Internet traffic.

Massachusetts-based Arbor Networks said data collected from 30 Internet providers around the world showed that online traffic in and out of Libya was disconnected abruptly at 7:15 p.m. EST on Friday.

The data also showed two partial service interruptions earlier in the day.
It was unclear if service was still unavailable.

Dozens of protesters were killed in clashes with Libyan security forces in the eastern city of Benghazi on Saturday, a witness said, in the worst unrest in Gaddafi's four decades in power."

Libyan boy shot by sniper

Another graphic video of a protester, this time a young boy in Libya, after being shot in the head. Qadaffi is disgusting.

Thanks Ghassan for posting on fb.

"Arab Zionist" vs. "Self-Hating Jew"

The other day on facebook I noticed that Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, a facebook friend and a brilliant young author on his way to Oxford, slammed Nir Rosen for his unwise tweets about Lara Logan. Nir posted his apology on his facebook page, and there Aymenn criticized Nir. I forget Aymenn's original comment (I don't see that thread anymore) but Nir commented that "an Arab Zionist is an abomination" in reference to Aymenn. I was surprised to see that Nir and Aymenn are friends on facebook.

On his own facebook page, Aymenn posted that he "is thrilled to have had his existence described as an 'abomination' by the disgraced Nir Rosen! A hearty 'Aymenn' to that!" Aymenn wrote in a comment: "If 'self-hating Jew' has any meaning, then Nir Rosen matches that definition."

In the late 1990s on the Yahoo message boards I saw many pro-Israel Jews and Christians calling Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Ralph Schoenman, and other Jewish critics of Israel "self-hating Jews" but I have never seen an Arab call anybody a self-hating Jew until a few days ago on facebook. What is a "self-hating Jew"? And what is an "Arab Zionist"?

I believe that Nir Rosen is also a brilliant author and journalist, although I haven't always agreed with him. I think Nir wants what's best for Iraqis, but Nir's views on Iraq have often seemed to be "pro-resistance" and I've criticized him for ignoring the history of sectarian conflict in Iraq before 2003. But calling him a "self-hating Jew" is a bit over the top. Just because Nir is pro-Palestinian doesn't mean he hates Jews, and he definitely does not hate himself. On the other hand, calling Aymenn an Arab Zionist also seems to be wrong. I wondered what makes Aymenn a Zionist, so I asked him how to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. He responded:

I support the two-state solution along the pre-67 borders as the best option. A West Bank confederation with Jordan has its merits, but it's not going to be accepted any time soon. Anyway, paramount to a lasting two-state solution will be the recognition of Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state by the Palestinian leadership- a requirement as per UN General Assembly Resolution 181- and that the right of return is simply untenable. The population has to be taught this as well- it's no good to give a different message to the people.

On the other hand, elements of the Israeli right have to realise that the West Bank cannot remain occupied, and continued construction of Jewish settlements across the West Bank will become the vanguard of a binational state, thereby endangering the very character of the Jewish state they claim to espouse. That said, I don't think that settlement building should be a reason to refuse to continue negotiations. I would like to see a final agreement reached even if settlement building continues- it's an issue that can be easily resolved after a deal is struck. Incidentally, a land swap whereby Israel gets to keep some of the major settlements like Arial in return for some land from 1948 Israel for a Palestinian state is reasonable.

Whilst Palestinian leaders should not feel a need to exclude Jews from being part of a Palestinian state, they have every right to demand that Israel respect its right to exist as a Palestinian state (also per Resolution 181).

As for East Jerusalem, it should be subject to a referendum as I find that many polls indicate that the Arab inhabitants would prefer to remain with Israel rather than become incorporated into a Palestinian state.

Hamas: it's unreasonable to expect Hamas to be incorporated into the peace process when the group doesn't recognise Israel's right to exist- what's the point in negotiating with someone who doesn't recognise you? In fact, progress in negotiations with the PA leading to a two-state solution could well prove essential for getting rid of Hamas, as it is hard to imagine that the people of Gaza would want to be 'left behind'.

In this context, I should note that it was disastrous for the Palestinian leadership to reject Ehud Olmert's offer for a Palestinian state:

As for my view of the history of the conflict, Israel's record has not been entirely clean (e.g. expulsions in 1948), but ultimately the blame for a lack of a Palestinian state lies with the Arab states who repeatedly launched wars of aggression to try to destroy Israel. They should simply have accepted the original partition in 1948.

That seems reasonable. So Aymenn is a Zionist because he believes that the Arabs should accept Israel's existence according to 1967 borders? I have never seen a right-wing Zionist call for Israel to withdraw to 1967 borders.

I've written a few posts about Palestine, and anybody who has read any of them would probably conclude that I am pro-Palestinian, yet I have been called a "Zionist" before. What is a Zionist? According to the Advanced English Dictionary (iPhone app) a Zionist is a "Jewish supporter of Zionism" and Zionism is a "policy for establishing and developing a national homeland for Jews in Palestine." Obviously Aymenn is not Jewish, yet he supports Israel's right to exist. Maybe in a way this makes Aymenn a Zionist. But does this make him an abomination? I don't think so.

I wonder what Nir's solution to the conflict would be. Does Nir believe that Arabs should naturally be against Israel? Does he believe that Israel should be destroyed and that Arabs should support the destruction of Israel?

I don't agree completely with Aymenn's views. It's easy to say today that the Arabs should have accepted partition in 1948, and I don't believe that the Arabs launched wars in all five cases. To say that in 1948 the Arabs launched a "war of aggression" against Israel is to be simplistic and misleading. From the Arab point of view, they were defending Palestine, an Arab land, against colonialism. I like what Ghandi wrote in 1938:

“Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French...What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct...If they [the Jews] must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs... As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regard as an unacceptable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.”

--Mahatma Gandhi, quoted in “A Land of Two Peoples” ed. Mendes-Flohr.

By 1948, however, after the Holocaust and the foolish Farhood al Yahood in Iraq, the Jews had gained the sympathy of the world. Most people agreed that the Jews should suffer no more and that they deserved a homeland. But was the partition of Palestine fair to the Arabs? Palestinian scholar Sami Hadawi wrote in A Bitter Harvest:

“Arab rejection was...based on the fact that, while the population of the Jewish state was to be [only half] Jewish with the Jews owning less than 10% of the Jewish state land area, the Jews were to be established as the ruling body — a settlement which no self-respecting people would accept without protest, to say the least...The action of the United Nations conflicted with the basic principles for which the world organization was established, namely, to uphold the right of all peoples to self-determination. By denying the Palestine Arabs, who formed the two-thirds majority of the country, the right to decide for themselves, the United Nations had violated its own charter.”

Furthermore, Zionist leaders were intent from the beginning to take all of Palestine:

“In internal discussion in 1938 [David Ben-Gurion] stated that ‘after we become a strong force, as a result of the creation of a state, we shall abolish partition and expand into the whole of Palestine’...In 1948, Menachem Begin declared that: ‘The partition of the Homeland is illegal. It will never be recognized. The signature of institutions and individuals of the partition agreement is invalid. It will not bind the Jewish people. Jerusalem was and will forever be our capital. Eretz Israel (the land of Israel) will be restored to the people of Israel, All of it. And forever.”

--Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle

1967 is another one of those "wars of aggression" that the Arabs allegedly launched. I believed this too until I entered college and began reading Noam Chomsky:

“The former Commander of the Air Force, General Ezer Weitzman, regarded as a hawk, stated that there was ‘no threat of destruction’ but that the attack on Egypt, Jordan and Syria was nevertheless justified so that Israel could ‘exist according the scale, spirit, and quality she now embodies.’...Menahem Begin had the following remarks to make: ‘In June 1967, we again had a choice. The Egyptian Army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him.’“

--Noam Chomsky, “The Fateful Triangle

Since 1967, Israel has demolished thousands of Palestinian homes and has annexed large parts of what remains of Palestine. Even the US government agrees that Israeli expansion into Palestinian territory since 1967 is illegal.

Too many westerners have accepted the notion that the Arabs launched "wars of aggression" against Israel. It's kinda like saying, without elaborating, that the native Americans launched "wars of aggression" against the US after 1776. Apparently right wing Israelis and Americans believe that it is Israel's manifest destiny to take all of Palestine. But how do they do this and keep Israel a Jewish state? Even the "Arab Zionist" Aymenn says that "Jewish settlements across the West Bank will become the vanguard of a binational state, thereby endangering the very character of the Jewish state they claim to espouse." I agree. Also I agree with Aymenn that negotiations must continue, even with continued settlement building (because Israel will continue to build settlements even without negotiations), and that if the Palestinians of East Jerusalem vote to become part of Israel, then so be it, although I question Palestinians' desire to be part of Israel. I do not agree, however, that the Palestinians should be arm-twisted into accepting concessions that make them look foolish. Aymenn and many westerners evidently believe that Olmert and Barak made generous offers to the Palestinians, but I don't blame the Palestinians for rejecting those offers. Why should the Palestinians settle for anything less than complete control of the entire West Bank and Gaza, just 22% of historic Palestine?

I'm not Jewish, and had I lived in the Middle East in 1947, I probably would have been against the partition of Palestine. Palestine was partitioned nonetheless, and the Arabs lost their fight to keep it whole. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled their homes and were not allowed to return. That was an abomination, just as the subsequent expulsion of Jews from Arab nations was an abomination. The continued oppression of Palestinians and Israel's expansion into Palestinian land is also an abomination, I believe, and it is why the conflict continues. However, to call for the destruction of Israel is not only wrong, not to mention impractical, but I believe it hurts the Palestinian cause.