Thursday, March 31, 2011

Libya meets specific conditions

LAT: 'Obama indicated in his speech to the country Monday that Libya met a set of specific conditions for military action, including an international mandate, a broad coalition willing to take part and appeals from Libyans themselves. Rebels in eastern Libya quickly formed an alternative government and sought foreign intervention through establishment of a no-fly zone.

"I don't know if those circumstances could be duplicated anyplace else," Obama told ABC News on Tuesday. He added that in each case, he needed to measure the national and international interest, and the possibility of success versus the risks involved.

While the death toll has risen into the dozens in Syria, officials point out that it is still far lower than the thousands feared killed in Libya, and probably many fewer than would be needed to build foreign support for military intervention there.'

Is oil a big factor in meeting those specific conditions?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

US forces in Libya

This is like Iraq 1991, except the US is helping the rebels this time. This time the US might actually arm the rebels, instead of allowing the dictator to fly his helicopter gunships. Saudi Arabia and Qatar have also indicated a willingness to arm the "freedom fighters" as Ed Schultz says correctly. I guess it's quite different from 1991. I'm glad we're on the right side this time, and it's being done by a Democratic President!

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14-year-old Bangladeshi girl executed after being raped

In Bangladesh? I thought this kind of thing happened only in Saudi Arabia.

Nicholas Kristof: "Hena collapsed after 70 lashes and was taken to the hospital. She died a week later, by some accounts because of internal bleeding and a general loss of blood. The doctors recorded her death as a suicide. (Women and girls who are raped are typically expected to commit suicide, to spare everyone the embarrassment of an honor crime.) I’ve covered enough of these kinds of stories to know that it’s difficult to know exactly what happened unless you’re on the scene talking to everyone who was there; maybe the imam has a different version of events. But all accounts that I’ve seen such that this was a brutal attack on a helpless girl in the name of sharia and justice."

A commenter on that article explains: "This is what was formerly known as East Bengal. Something like this would never happen in West Bengal. If a girl is raped or even as much as "eve teased" forget about it - the whole township will beat the rapist. In East Bengal and in Muslim dominated areas, it is the other way around, its always the girls fault. Apart from religion, nothing separates East and West Bengal, they share the same language, the same culture, similar cuisine, same love for Rabindra sangeet, same music, same dance, same love for literature, even similar passion for debating and chatter. Sad and grim."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

What is conservatism in America?

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Libyan rebels in retreat

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Prominent Bahraini blogger arrested

Global Voices: 'Shortly after 3am local time, prominent Bahraini blogger Mahmood al-Yousif was arrested in his home. Before leaving with police officers, the blogger tweeted:

"Police here for me"

Al-Yousif is an influential blogger whose writings of late have been in favor of unifying Bahrainis.'

America should help rebuild Iraq, says Iraqi ambassador

WP: 'Having helped liberate it, America should also share in the rebuilding the country’s infrastructure and educating its children, which will require the participation of international companies, he said.

“But (the ones competing for contracts) are mostly from India, China, Italy, Turkey, Germany, not so much from the United States. The United States is the country that paid the highest price for Iraq to be turned around. We would like the United States to be at the front of the line, not at the end of the line.'

Monday, March 28, 2011

Libya not gonna be like Iraq

Not for Americans.

'President Barack Obama, addressing the American people directly for the first time since military operations began in Libya, offered no new details about how the U.S. commitment there will end, but pledged that it won’t become another Iraq.

“Regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya,” Obama said.'

Read more:

Libya does not have the sectarian issues that Iraq has.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Saudi prince advocates meaningful reform

"Disheartening as this Arab condition may be, reforming it is neither impossible nor too late. Other societies that were afflicted with similar maladies have managed to restore themselves to health. But we can succeed only if we open our systems to greater political participation, accountability, increased transparency and the empowerment of women as well as youth. The pressing issues of poverty, illiteracy, education and unemployment have to be fully addressed. Initiatives just announced in my country, Saudi Arabia, by King Abdullah are a step in the right direction, but they are only the beginning of a longer journey to broader participation, especially by the younger generation.

The lesson to be learned from the Tunisian, Egyptian and other upheavals — which, it is important to note, were not animated by anti-American fervor or by extremist Islamic zeal — is that Arab governments can no longer afford to take their populations for granted, or to assume that they will remain static and subdued. Nor can the soothing instruments of yesteryear, which were meant to appease, serve any longer as substitutes for meaningful reform. The winds of change are blowing across our region with force, and it would be folly to suppose that they will soon dissipate."


Thanks Rawlins View for posting on fb.

Friday, March 25, 2011

America's freedom packages

On Monday The Daily Show made fun of US foreign policy. In case you missed it. It's just satire. One of the things I love about America is that we can poke fun at our government's hypocrisy in foreign policy. I like the last part: offer does not apply to the West Bank or Gaza.

Tens of thousands protest in Syria

NYT: "Tens of thousands of demonstrators in the southern city of Dara’a, on the border with Jordan, and in some other cities and towns around the nation took to the streets in protest, defying a state that has once again demonstrated its willingness to use lethal force. It was the most serious challenge to 40 years of repressive rule by the Assad family since 1982, when the president at the time, Hafez al-Assad, massacred at least 10,000 protesters in the northern Syrian city of Hama."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Arab Revolution + Japan disaster = higher oil prices

A couple of weeks ago on facebook Media Matters posted something about media blaming Obama for higher oil prices. A few commenters on that post said Obama "wanted" oil prices to rise. Apparently these commenters were arguing that Obama (as Senator) said that cap and trade would result in higher energy costs. He was right, of course. Obama predicted that putting limits on greenhouse gas emissions would cause the price of energy to rise. This doesn't mean he wanted prices to raise.

Even without regulations and taxes, one could predict that oil prices will rise, given the turmoil in the middle east. This is why oil prices have already risen. Speculators have been betting that prices of oil will rise at rates higher than inflation - those are the people who want prices to rise, not Obama. The nuclear power disaster in Japan only adds to the pressure on fossil fuels, no doubt. The US government has has handed out dozens of permits to oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico, even though safety has not really improved since the Deepwater Horizon blowout, as Rachel Maddow explains below.

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US special forces leaving Iraq

NYT: "MOSUL, Iraq — Several nights a week, Iraqi and U.S. special forces operatives head out in Humvees or Black Hawk helicopters to arrest extremists in the most volatile region of Iraq.

After years of training with their U.S. counterparts, the black-clad Iraqi forces are taking the lead, busting in doors and arresting suspects while their American advisers monitor the mission."

Sarah Palin calls Israeli occupation of West Bank a "zoning issue"

I don't think Palin has any chance in a Presidential election, but this is the kind of stuff right-wing Americans believe when it comes to Israel. Perhaps she also believes the removal of the Cherokee from their homeland was a "re-zoning issue".

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jon Stewart criticizes Obama on Libya

Jon says we've been accustomed to the "run-up" to war, he says Obama shoulda made his case for war on Qaddafi.

Jon says he understands there was a time constraint, but it was a time constraint of a few weeks. I'm not sure I understand Jon here. Qaddafi's rebels were about to trounce on Benghazi. It was the right time to act. No time to get the approval of the Congress. Maybe he could have taken a vote, and maybe he shoulda, but I think Obama did the right thing given that the rebels were about to be crushed by Qaddafi's forces.

But many left-leaning politicians in America are nevertheless unhappy with Obama.

Bomb explodes at Jerusalem bus stop

"A bomb exploded at a crowded bus stop Wednesday in central Jerusalem, killing one woman and wounding 38 in what appeared to be the first militant attack in the city in several years."

Like in Iraq, victims of terrorists in Israel are often poor people.

Bashar al Assad thought Syria was stable

"Syria seemed relatively stable before massive protests erupted last week in the city of Daraa, a small city south of the capital. Demonstrators chanted for freedom and for the end of corruption.

These protests were met with violence from security forces that claimed the lives of five innocent civilians. In a rare interview accorded to the Wall Street Journal at the end of January, Bashar al-Assad claimed that Syria was immune from such unrest because he had always been close to his people and he, unlike Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, understood his people's needs."

American citizenship saved NYT journalists

' “Shoot them,” a tall soldier said calmly in Arabic.

A colleague next to him shook his head. “You can’t,” he insisted. “They’re Americans.

They bound our hands and legs instead — with wire, fabric or cable. Lynsey was carried to a Toyota pickup, where she was punched in the face. Steve and Tyler were hit, and Anthony was headbutted.

Even that Tuesday, a pattern had begun to emerge. The beating was always fiercest in the first few minutes, an aggressiveness that Colonel Qaddafi’s bizarre and twisted four decades of rule inculcated in a society that feels disfigured. It didn’t matter that we were bound, or that Lynsey was a woman.'

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

America not at war with Islam

Rachel Maddow says the master narrative has been that America is at war with Islam. Has that been the "master" narrative? Really? Was that the master narrative during the Bush era? Didn't Bush say we are not at war with Islam?

I know there are Americans who misunderstand Islam and hate Islam, but the US government is not at war with Islam and that is obvious. Otherwise the US would have invaded Saudi Arabia, the perpetuators of Wahhabism! And currently, the US is in bed with Saudi Arabia.

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Eugene Robinson asks: why not Bahrain?

In the clip below Eugene Robinson poses the question: if we're helping the rebels who want democracy in Libya, why not help those who want democracy in Bahrain? It's a good question.

Why not help in other parts of the world, like in Ivory Coast?

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Reviewing the wave of revolution

Richard Louis reviews the "hot spots" across the Arab world. He says the Bahraini king has imposed a 3-month state of emergency to "quell the violence" without noting that Bahrainis have been protesting peacefully, and that security forces have reacted with violence.

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Bahraini doctors remain in king's detention

HRW posted this March 20: "Bahrain should end its campaign of arrests of doctors and human rights activists, Human Rights Watch said today.

On March 19-20, 2011, state security forces, often masked and in civilian dress, arrested four medical doctors, and two human rights activists, and sought the arrest of a third. Human Rights Watch also remains concerned about the whereabouts of those doctors and rights advocates still in detention. The arrests, some of which occurred during pre-dawn hours, appear part of a broader government crackdown involving nighttime raids on the homes of those viewed as supporting pro-democracy protesters, Human Rights Watch said."

Today a facebook friend posted a link to Free Dr. Ghassan Dhaif and Bassem Dhaif. Thanks Arwa for posting!

Monday, March 21, 2011

History of US military intervention since 1982

Since 1982, every US President announced on TV the intervention of the US military, in small wars and big wars. And those are just the ones that were announced, as Rachel Maddow says in the clip below. Obama is trying to be different, he seeks Arab consent and minimal US involvement.

Engel says the rebels are a mixed bag, many are uneducated and/or untrained. Engel said that he would estimate one in five rebels are fighting Qaddafi because they believe Qaddafi is Jewish.

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GCC supports crackdown in Bahrain

The GCC "is a political and economic union of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait." People are worried about a "sectarian divide" and a regional spillover.

Jeffrey Feltman has been dispatched to Bahrain.

Thanks Arwah for posting on fb.

Benghazi was fertile recruiting area for Al Qaeda?

At about 3 minutes into the clip below, Howard Fineman says that eastern Libya, the area around Benghazi, has been one of the most fertile recruiting grounds for Al Qaeda in the world. I did not know this. Even if true, this doesn't mean that the Libyan people who want democracy support Al Qaeda.

The American left seems hesitant to support Obama's decision to intervene in Libya.

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Many Bahraini protesters angry with USA

NPR: 'Last week's crackdown on protesters in Bahrain has left many in the capital, Manama, angry with the United States.

They say they believe the White House tacitly approved the attacks on demonstrators and put its strategic interests over democratic principles.

On Friday at the Sadiq Mosque in Manama, the preacher recounted the week's extraordinary events. Sheik Issa Qassim criticized Bahrain's royal family for sending in soldiers and police to crush an anti-government rebellion — an assault that left at least seven dead and hundreds wounded.

Then, he criticized the United States for not doing more to prevent it.

"They have influence they're not using to save the people here," he said.'

Angry Arab reports on Antisemitism in Saudi media

Angry Arab: 'Since Zionist organizations don't cover Saudi anti-Semitism anymore due to the intense love affair between Israel and House of Saud, I shall cover such manifestations. Here, columnist Jihad Khazin (who writes in Khalid Bin Sultan bin Bribe's mouthpiece, Al-Hayat) writes that "Judaism is a savage religion." '

Interesting. If this happened in Iran, US media (especially FOX News) would have been all over it.

Arab League made it ok for Obama to act against Qaddafi

America's balls are in Royal Saudi hands, it seems. Very sad.

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US strikes Libya 8 years after start of Iraq war

WSJ: 'As bombs started falling on Libya Saturday, blogger Glenn Reynolds noticed something striking: "Hey, it's exactly 8 years to the day since Bush started bombing Iraq!" Eight years--which is to say, Barack Obama ordered the bombing of an Arab dictatorship at precisely the same point in his presidency that George W. Bush did.

Of course, there were some differences. The Libya war is new; the Iraq one was an escalation of a conflict that had been under way for 12 years. The U.N. Security Council had authorized action in Libya for the first time two days earlier, vs. 17 times in Iraq. Bush had persuaded a large majority of the public that escalating the war was a good idea; Obama had to act more quickly, without making a sustained case to either the public or Congress.'

US policy: Qaddafi must go

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Obama didn't want to strike Libya in cowboyish fashion

ROSS DOUTHAT, NYT: "Just a week ago, as the tide began to turn against the anti-Qaddafi rebellion, President Obama seemed determined to keep the United States out of Libya’s civil strife. But it turns out the president was willing to commit America to intervention all along. He just wanted to make sure we were doing it in the most multilateral, least cowboyish fashion imaginable."

Bahraini king: Iranian interference must not be tolerated

"Unrest in Bahrain has eased in recent days. On Tuesday, the king said a foreign plot against his Sunni-led island state had been foiled, and the head of the Gulf Cooperation Council said interference by Shi'ite Iran in the Gulf Arab states would not be tolerated."

I wonder if the Arab kings believe Bahraini Shia are agents of Iran, like Saddam used to think of Iraqi Shia.

Iraqi court sentences AQI leader to death

"An Iraqi court on Wednesday ordered the execution of an al-Qaida leader and five of his lieutenants for masterminding some of Baghdad's deadliest bombings, a judiciary spokesman said.

Munaf al-Rawi was convicted and sentenced to death for the attacks that included the August 2009 government ministry bombings that killed more than 100 people, according to Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council spokesman Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar."

Thanks Arwah Iraqia for posting on fb.

Al Qaeda's magazine for women

For women who "launch" LOL.

Thanks Fareed for posting on fb.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bahraini king gets repressive

"Despite assurances from the royal family that the country is back to normal, Salmaniya hospital provides stark evidence of the grim reality settling over Bahrain, a close ally of the United States and home to the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet. Armored vehicles and soldiers in ski masks ring the medical complex, turning away most visitors, including journalists.

Bahrain's health minister resigned after the military's incursion into the hospital. Several physicians have been arrested and others face regular harassment, doctors said. Many in the country's majority Shiite Muslim population, which has been at the forefront of the demonstrations against the Sunni royal family, refuse to go to Salmaniya for fear of arrest, doctors said."

US ally Bahrain disappearing protesters from hospitals

LAT: "Reporting from Manama, Bahrain— Bahraini security forces have intensified their crackdown on the opposition by removing an estimated 20 to 80 wounded protesters from Salmaniya Medical Complex, the country's largest and best equipped hospital, said a human rights group and doctors in contact with hospital staff.

The raid on the hospital and relocation of patients to undisclosed locations, if verified, would be an escalation of the state's harsh response to a largely peaceful protest movement whose persistence and size have shaken Bahrain's ruling Khalifa family."

Who believes in "Book of Revelations"?

"Glenn Beck doesn't know if this is the end of the world."

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US & allies team up to hit Qaddafi

I haven't posted in a couple of days because I've been busy with work and my parents, who visited me this week. But I've been listening to the news. For a while there I was afraid the US & allies weren't going to do anything about Qaddafi. I drove my parents to the airport yesterday, and during the ride BBC World Service reported that western nations, led by the UK & France, were hitting Qaddafi's air defense forces. My dad, who was in the seat next to mine, gave a thumbs up and said GOOD!

MSNBC: 'Moammar Gadhafi vowed a "long war" as allied forces launched a second night of strikes on Libya on Sunday, and jubilant rebels who only a day before were in danger of being crushed by his forces now boasted they would bring him down. The U.S. military said the international assault would hit any Gadhafi forces on the ground that are attacking the opposition.'

Arab regimes suppress protests with bribes or violence

or a combination of both. The clip below was taped on Friday. Richard Engel said there are two approaches Arab regimes have been using to deal with the protests: bribe the people or crack down on the protests. Yemen cracked down HARD on Friday. Engel compares Bahrain to Libya, says they don't really compare.

The protests in Syria, where an "emergency law" has been in place for four decades, have seemed to take most people by surprise. Protesters in Syria "set fire to the ruling Baath Party’s headquarters and other government buildings in the southern city of Dara’a on Sunday, as protesters rallied and clashed with the police for a third straight day".

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Friday, March 18, 2011

40 Protesters killed in Yemen

NYT: "Security forces and government supporters opened fire on demonstrators in the capital on Friday, killing at least 40 people, according to a doctor at a makeshift hospital near the scene. But the crackdown failed to disperse the protest, the largest seen so far in the center of the city.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh declared a state of emergency shortly after the violence, and denied that security forces had been involved in any shooting.

The level of violence dwarfed that seen in previous clashes during weeks of large protests in cities around Yemen calling for Mr. Saleh’s immediate ouster."

UNSC backs no-fly zone over Libya

BBC: 'The UN Security Council has backed a no-fly zone over Libya and "all necessary measures" short of an invasion "to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas".

In New York, the 15-member body voted 10-0 in favour, with five abstentions.

Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi's forces have recently retaken several towns seized by rebels in an uprising.

Rebel forces reacted with joy in their Benghazi stronghold but a government spokesman condemned UN "aggression".

Loyalist forces are bearing down on Benghazi, home to a million people.'

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Turkey helps free Iraqi journalist from Libya

"The Turkish government played a role in helping free the Guardian journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad from prison in Libya, it has been disclosed.

Abdul-Ahad had been detained by the Libyan authorities for a fortnight after being picked up from the coastal town of Sabratha on 2 March, along with a Brazilian correspondent."

Saudi Shia call for troop withdrawal from Bahrain

Reuters: "Saudi Shi'ites held more protests in the kingdom's oil-producing east on Thursday in support of Shi'ites in Bahrain and called for the withdrawal of Saudi forces from there, activists said.

They said hundreds attended four protests in and around the eastern region's main Shi'ite center, Qatif, and also called for the release of Shi'ite prisoners in the kingdom, where the austere Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam is applied."

Deadly shelling of Abidjan market

"Shells have been fired at an Abidjan district opposed to disputed President Laurent Gbagbo, with reports of at least 10 dead.

A shell landed in a busy market in the Abobo area, residents said."

UN rights chief: police takeover of hospitals in Bahrain a violation of international law

'Navi Pillay, the UN rights chief, said in a statement she was "deeply alarmed by the escalation of violence by security forces in Bahrain, in particular the reported takeover of hospitals and medical centres" in the country, which she called a "shocking and a blatant violation of international law."

Rights activists have deplored a bloody crackdown mounted by Sunni rulers against Shiite-led protests, accusing security forces of preventing the injured from reaching hospitals and of beating medics trying to collect the wounded from the streets.

Manama's main hospital was sealed off by police armed with shotguns, and Nizar Baharna, Bahrain's health minister, a Shiite, announced his resignation after police allegedly burst into a Manama hospital.'

Thanks Homam for posting on fb.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Obama admin backs UNSC resolution to aid Libyan rebels

"The administration, which remains deeply reluctant to be drawn into an armed conflict in yet another Muslim country, is nevertheless backing a resolution in the Security Council that would give countries a broad range of options for aiding the Libyan rebels, including military steps that go well beyond a no-flight zone.

Administration officials — who have been debating a no-flight zone for weeks — concluded that such a step now would be “too little, too late” for rebels who have been pushed back to Benghazi. That suggests more aggressive measures, which some military analysts have called a no-drive zone, to prevent Colonel Qaddafi from moving tanks and artillery into Benghazi.

...President Obama is under pressure from both foreign leaders and allies in Congress to take decisive action. The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, sent a letter to the United States and other members of the Security Council, urging them to vote for the Lebanese resolution authorizing a no-flight zone, saying that the world had only days, or even hours, to head off a Qaddafi victory."

Thanks Bruno for posting on fb.

Four NYT journalists missing in Libya

"The New York Times reported Wednesday that four of its journalists covering the fighting in Libya were missing.

The newspaper said it had received secondhand information that reporters Anthony Shadid and Stephen Farrell and photographers Tyler Hicks and Lynsey Addario had been picked up by government forces near Ajdabiya."

US "caught between our allies and our values"

Nicholas Kristof: 'Today the United States is in a vise — caught between our allies and our values. And the problem with our pal Bahrain is not just that it is shooting protesters but also that it is something like an apartheid state. Sunni Muslims rule the country, and now they are systematically trying to crush an overwhelmingly Shiite protest movement.

My New York Times colleague Michael Slackman was caught by Bahrain security forces a few weeks ago. He said that they pointed shotguns at him and that he was afraid they were about to shoot when he pulled out his passport and shouted that he was an American journalist. Then, he says, the mood changed abruptly and the leader of the group came over and took Mr. Slackman’s hand, saying warmly: “Don’t worry! We love Americans!”

“We’re not after you. We’re after Shia,” the policeman added. Mr. Slackman recalls: “It sounded like they were hunting rats.” '

Hillary Clinton alarmed by developments in Bahrain

BBC: 'US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she is alarmed by developments in Bahrain and criticised the government's use of force against protesters.

The US has made it clear to officials in Bahrain that "we think they're on the wrong track", she told the BBC.'

'Iraq Shiite authority condemns Bahrain crackdown'

AFP: 'A leading Iraq-based Shiite Muslim authority on Wednesday condemned a deadly government crackdown on mainly Shiite protesters in Bahrain, saying the violence must stop immediately.

"We condemn this irresponsible act," Basheer al-Najafi, one of the world's four top Shiite authorities, said in a statement.

"We call on those responsible to immediately halt this injustice to citizens," Najafi said from his base in the Shrine city of Najaf in central Iraq.

Hundreds of Bahraini riot police early Wednesday launched an assault in Manama's Pearl Square, where protesters inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have been camping for weeks demanding political reforms.

Bahrain's mainly Shiite opposition said at least two protesters were killed and dozens wounded in the violent assault.'

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Iraq wants to import electricity via Syria

"Iraq asked Syria to allow it to join a regional power grid in order to import electricity from Turkey, state-sponsored Iraqiya television said today.

The regional grid connects Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Libya and the Palestinian territories.

Iraq has been facing violent street protests demanding better living conditions and better electricity supply. The Arab country, home to the world’s fifth-largest oil reserves, is struggling to raise power supplies, which are currently at half of its domestic demand of about 12,000 megawatts."

US military dependents may leave Bahrain

"ABC News' Luis Martinez reports: The deteriorating security situation in Bahrain has led the Pentagon to authorize the voluntary departure of military dependents and non-DOD civilians based at the U.S. Naval base in Bahrain. The base is the home of the Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which conducts operations in the Middle East.

Bahrain’s king imposed martial law today after deadly clashes between government forces and Shiite protesters seeking reforms from the Sunni monarchy. Two protesters were killed in today’s violence and there are reports of as many as 200 needing medical treatment."

Qaddafi calls rebels "rats and dogs"

AJ: 'Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has addressed supporters in Tripoli as his forces continued a counteroffensive which threatens to force rebels all the way back to their eastern stronghold in Benghazi.

Speaking on Libyan state television, Gaddafi said the outside world is portraying a false image of his country and called those trying to end his decades-long rule "rats and dogs".

He said there was "no internal problem in Libya".

Addressing supporters late on Tuesday, he said: "You are saying Gaddafi is going to leave the country. Do you think Gaddafi would leave?"

"Those traitors who let Libya down during the Italian imperialism, they have left their children with the shame."

The speech, broadcast on big screens in Benghazi, was greeted angrily there by crowds who threw shoes and debris at Gaddafi's televised image.'

Saudi displeasure with Obama

NYT: 'Saudi officials have made no secret of their deep displeasure with how President Obama handled the ouster of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, charging Washington with abandoning a longtime ally. They show little patience with American messages about embracing what Mr. Obama calls “universal values,” including peaceful protests.

When Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were forced to cancel visits to the kingdom in recent days, American officials were left wondering whether the cause was King Abdullah’s frail health — or his pique at the United States.

“They’re not in a mode for listening,” said one senior administration official, referring to the American exchanges with Saudi officials over the past two months about the need to get ahead of the protests that have engulfed other Arab states, including two of Saudi Arabia’s neighbors, Bahrain and Yemen. In recent days, Washington has tried to focus on the areas where its strategic interests and those of Saudi Arabia intersect most crucially: counterterrorism, containing Iran and keeping oil flowing.'

UK "extremely concerned" about Bahrain

"Britain is extremely concerned about the escalation of the situation in Bahrain and the declaration of a state of emergency, Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Tuesday."

Non-Bahraini forces in Bahrain

A few people on Nicholas Kristof's facebook page are calling the protesters in Bahrain "pro-Iran terrorists" and are suggesting the protesters are being aided by Iran.

"Down, down with Hamad!"

'Thousands of protesters marched to the Saudi embassy on Tuesday, protesting against the arrival of Saudi troops to help restore calm in the Sunni-ruled kingdom after weeks of protests by the Shi'ite majority.

Carrying Bahraini flags, some 5,000 people marched from Pearl roundabout, the focal point of protests, to the embassy in an upscale area of the capital where streets were otherwise deserted.

"Down, down with Hamad!" the crowds chanted, referring to Bahrain's ruler, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.

Bahrain declared martial law on Tuesday, a day after Saudi troops rolled across a causeway that joins the neighbors.

Analysts saw the troop movement into Bahrain, home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, as a mark of concern in Saudi Arabia that concessions by the country's monarchy could inspire the conservative Sunni-ruled kingdom's own Shi'ite minority.'

Also if you have the stomach, watch: WARNING: Graphic video. Absolutely disgusting. DOWN with Hamad!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

US tax breaks for oil companies decades old

From a July 2010 NYT article about tax breaks for oil companies: "Some of the tax breaks date back nearly a century, when they were intended to encourage exploration in an era of rudimentary technology, when costly investments frequently produced only dry holes. Because of one lingering provision from the Tariff Act of 1913, many small and midsize oil companies based in the United States can claim deductions for the lost value of tapped oil fields far beyond the amount the companies actually paid for the oil rights."

Other tax breaks were born of international politics. In an attempt to deter Soviet influence in the Middle East in the 1950s, the State Department backed a Saudi Arabian accounting maneuver that reclassified the royalties charged by foreign governments to American oil drillers. Saudi Arabia and others began to treat some of the royalties as taxes, which entitled the companies to subtract those payments from their American tax bills. Despite repeated attempts to forbid this accounting practice, companies continue to deduct the payments. The Treasury Department estimates that it will cost $8.2 billion over the next decade."

Wow, it seems the US did all kinds of stupid shit in the name of fighting communism.

A chance to support a new beginning

Professor Anne-Marie Slaughter: 'Gen. Wesley K. Clark argues that “Libya doesn’t sell much oil to the United States” and that while Americans “want to support democratic movements in the region,” we are already doing that in Iraq and Afghanistan. Framing this issue in terms of oil is exactly what Arab populations and indeed much of the world expect, which is why they are so cynical about our professions of support for democracy and human rights. Now we have a chance to support a real new beginning in the Muslim world — a new beginning of accountable governments that can provide services and opportunities for their citizens in ways that could dramatically decrease support for terrorist groups and violent extremism. It’s hard to imagine something more in our strategic interest.'

Thanks Mona for posting on fb.

Qaddafi forces crushing rebels, Saudi forces in Bahrain

I forgot to mention yesterday that the Arab League voted for a no-fly zone over Libya. Hillary Clinton has met with the Libyan opposition as Qaddafi makes gains against the rebels. Michael Singh said it's "hard to say no" to a no-fly zone if the Arab League is asking for it. The Arab League, it needs to be reminded, did not ask the US to help Iraqi rebels who wanted to overthrow Saddam in 1991. It has been said that the US allowed Saddam's generals to fly helicopters during the 1991 uprising because KSA asked the US to allow Saddam's generals to fly helicopters. The Wahhabis are the scum of the earth, they hate democracy. Remember what they did in Iraq after the dictator was overthrown? It still surprises me to see the "greatest" country in the world side with the backward fundamentalist royal douches.

Also in this clip they discus events in Bahrain. More than 1,000 Saudi troops have entered Bahrain, and UAE may also send troops. Micheal Singh said a "sectarian conflict is brewing there".

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Women's rights in Iraq

"Iraq was once at the forefront of women’s rights. In the 1950s, it became the first Arab country to have a female minister and to have a law that gave women the ability to ask for divorces.

But under Saddam Hussein, women had no role in the government, and the resistance movements were dominated by men. After he was ousted in 2003, women successfully lobbied the American administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, to set up the constitutional requirement that a quarter of Parliament’s members be women."

Women's rights in Iraq were advanced by Abdul Karim Qassim, who was assassinated by Baathists.

Bahraini police fire tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters

BBC Arabic is reporting Saudi troops are in Bahrain. BBC Arabic is also reporting that masked men have attacked protesters at the University of Bahrain with sticks and swords.

Al Jazeera English reported on March 10 about "sectarian clashes" at a Bahraini school.

Iraqi journalist detained by Libyan govt

AJ: "Libyan government officials say they are holding an Iraqi journalist who was reporting on fighting in the west of the country for the UK's Guardian newspaper.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, an experienced correspondent who has reported from conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia, is believed to have been detained along with a Brazilian journalist Andrei Netto near the coastal town of Sabratha after entering Libya from Tunisia, the Guardian said."

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Maliki asks Iraqis if they prefer dictatorship

No, Mr. Maliki, but Iraqis do prefer better leadership and better governance than you and your team have provided. Iraq needs somebody who will stand up for Iraq's minorities, not just the Shia, and you have failed in that regard, Mr. Maliki.

"Iraq's prime minister on Saturday described protesters calling for a regime change as out of step with the will of the nascent democracy and brushed off his critics as few and weak.

In a defiant nighttime interview on state TV, Nouri al-Maliki also questioned if those who want him to go would prefer Iraq to return to the days of dictatorship.'

Al Jazeera cameraman killed in Libya

"An Al Jazeera cameraman has been killed in what appears to have been an ambush near the rebel-held city of Benghazi in eastern Libya.

Ali Hassan Al Jaber was returning to Benghazi from a nearby town after filing a report from an opposition protest when unknown fighters opened fire on a car he and his colleagues were travelling in.

Two people including Al Jaber were shot. Al Jaber was rushed to hospital, but did not survive."

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hillary Clinton says no-fly zone over Iraq didn't bring down Saddam

At two minutes into the clip below, Hillary Clinton said "we had a no-fly zone over Iraq. It did not prevent Saddam Hussein from slaughtering people on the ground and it did not get him out of office."

CNN reporter Chris Lawrence, NBC reporter Richard Engel, and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton implied that there was a no-fly zone over Iraq during the 1991 uprising. All seem to be unaware that a no-fly zone over southern Iraq was enforced 17 months after the uprisings began in March, 1991. Mr. Engel said the no-fly zone in Iraq did "not apply" to low-flying helicopters. In fact the US allowed Saddam's peeps to fly helicopters during the uprising:

at the Safwan negotiations, Schwarzkopf carelessly authorized the Iraqis to use helicopter gunships on their side of the cease-fire line. The Iraqi generals were so surprised by that concession—which permitted them to strafe and rocket Kurds and Shiites from the air—that one of the Iraqi generals incredulously asked: "So you mean even the helicopters that are armed can fly in the Iraqi skies?"

It's interesting when smart people don't get the facts right, or make comparisons that don't work. The US dropped 250,000 bombs and missles on Iraq during 40 consecutive days and nights in 1991. The first thing US & allied pilots did was to destroy Saddam's SAMs and radar installations. They made sure American pilots could fly planes and helicopters over Kuwait and Iraq without being fired on, and then US troops marched into Kuwait and Iraq, almost all the way to Baghdad. Kuwait was liberated and the cease-fire with Saddam was signed on Feb. 28. Then the uprisings began and the rebels were slaughtered by Saddam's helicopter gunships. I guess Richard Engel's statement (of the three mentioned here) comes closest to the truth: the no-fly zone "did not apply" to low-flying helicopters. LOL!

If there was a real no-fly zone over Iraq during the 1991 uprisings, one that "included" low-flying helicopters, the uprising might have succeeded.

Iraqis have more TV choices since 2003

MAHMOOD AL-BACHARY: "Before 2003 there were two Iraqi television channels. One represented the state and the other was run by the president’s son Uday Saddam Hussein. Now there are 22 local television channels in Basra, and more than 30 newspapers. Each house now has a satellite dish to receive every television channel in the world. All of these beautiful scenes in the country have revived the Iraqi people toward progress and prosperity. But still, Iraq, one of the largest oil-producing nations in the world, imports electricity generators because there is no electricity to allow the citizens to enjoy these achievements."

Thanks Fayrouz for posting the link.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The risks of continued passivity

Nicholas Kristof: 'If the Obama administration has exaggerated the risks of a no-fly zone, it seems to have downplayed the risks of continued passivity. There is some risk that this ends up like the abortive uprisings in Hungary in 1956, in Czechoslovakia in 1968, or in southern Iraq in 1991.

The tide in Libya seems to have shifted, with the Qaddafi forces reimposing control over Tripoli and much of western Libya. Now Colonel Qaddafi is systematically using his air power to gain ground even in the east. As the International Institute for Strategic Studies, an arms analysis group in London, noted this week, “The major advantage of the pro-regime forces at the moment is their ability to deploy air power.”'

Conservative Americans worried about Sharia law

They are afraid that Sharia law will be used in US courts, lol. Newt Gingrich is a cartoon character, no?

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James Rubin blasts White House on Libya

He says we need to do something now, at least enforce a no-fly zone, alone if we have to.

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Frenchman linked to terrorism convicted in Paris court

Canadian Press: "A Paris court has convicted a Frenchman who went to Iraq in 2004 to fight as an insurgent and sentenced him to five years in prison.

The court issued a warrant for 28-year-old Peter Cherif who attended the trial but wasn't present for the verdict Thursday. His lawyer also was absent.

Cherif was among a group of Paris youths who left for Iraq in late 2003 and early 2004. Two were killed, one as a suicide bomber, another in a bomb explosion.

Cherif was arrested in December 2004 in Fallujah and held for 19 months by U.S. troops, then turned over to Iraqis and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He escaped to Syria and was sent to France. He was freed in 2009 but charged with criminal association linked to terrorism.

Seven others in the French group have been convicted."

Dictators disappear their foes

This happened a lot under Saddam.

"Disappear is a transitive verb for dictators. That’s what they do to foes, disappear them in the night for questioning that becomes a nameless forever.

No law governs these captives’ fate. They vanish — and then they are tossed into mass graves. Qaddafi massacred over 1,000 political prisoners at Abu Salim in June 1996. Was Jaballa Matar among them?

It’s important to have names. The skulls in the sand were once sentient beings who screamed for justice."

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Baghdad at a crossroads

between freedom and dictatorship. The intolerance of Islamic fundamentalists is choking Iraq, stifling its economy and education, and taking Iraq backwards.

Thanks Tony for posting the video on PP.

Qaddafi on border of insanity

"One of the more emotionally disturbed leaders"

Bomb kills wife and daughter of Sahwa member

"Also in the day, gunmen blew up an explosive charge in the house of a member of a local anti-Qaida paramilitary group, named Awakening Council group, in Abu Ghraib area, just west of Baghdad, wounding him and killing his wife and daughter, a local police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity."

Football unites Palestinians

There haven't been protests against Salam Fayyad, I've noticed.

Head of interim govt in eastern Libya wants a no-fly zone

He expects the international community to do more to help the rebels.

"The head of the interim government in eastern Libya pleaded Wednesday for the international community to move quickly to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, declaring that any delay would result in more casualties."

Iraq's main problem is political unity

The National: 'More than anything, though, Iraq's popular uprisings underscore that an unhappy public is no longer content idly watching a kleptocracy emerge. Iraq's leader should take heed.

Broken promises, endemic corruption and a fractured governing coalition have allowed anger to fester. But unlike Tunisia, Egypt or Libya, Iraq has the institutional framework to address people's grievances. Baghdad could theoretically eliminate power outages and increase workers' pay. Iraq's main problem is not its technical abilities, but its political unity.

...Of course Mr al Maliki is not the only Iraqi leader hijacking the political process. Leaders at all levels appear unable or unwilling to exercise the will of the public. As the Iraq analyst Reidar Visser noted this week, the inability to "rise above camaraderie and cliquishness" is suffocating any hope of lasting political reform.'

Christians can be radicalized too

I've been following the debate about the radicalization of Muslims in America. Congressman Peter King will be holding a hearing tomorrow to begin investigating the radicalization of Muslims in America. Chris Matthews said something interesting in the clip below, about six minutes into it: he asked why aren't Arab Christians included in this investigation? His comment reminded me of Sirhan Sirhan, and I wonder if that's what Chris was thinking too. Sirhan Sirhan, the man who assassinated Robert Kennedy, was born to Palestinian Christian parents, and he was not radicalized by Islam.

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11 die in Cairo in Muslim-Christian clashes

It started over a Muslim-Christian love affair!

"Muslim-Christian clashes in the Egyptian capital Cairo have killed 11 people and wounded more than 90, security and hospital officials said on Wednesday.

The clashes broke out Tuesday night when a Muslim mob attacked thousands of Christians protesting against the burning of a Cairo church last week. Muslims torched the church amid an escalation of tensions between the two religious groups over a love affair between a Muslim and a Christian that set off a violent feud between the couple's families.

The officials said Wednesday that the killed were six Christians and five Muslims, all died from gunshot wounds. They said 94 people were wounded - 73 Muslims and 21 Christians."

Thanks Fayrouz for posting on fb.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Islamic law bad for women, bad for Iraq

Fundamentalist Islam is backward and it has taken Iraq (and Iran) backward.

H. Patricia Hynes and Yanar Mohammed, truthout:
Studies on the ground of the war's impact on women and girls come to vastly different conclusions. In October 2002, Saddam Hussein released criminals from Iraqi prisons. This and the soon-to-follow 2003 US-led assault on Baghdad, created conditions for bloodletting, for a sharp increase in organized crime trafficking in drugs, stolen cars, and women and girls; and for the ascendancy of armed Islamist conservatism. Saddam's tightly controlled violence and reign of terror were replaced by unpredictable, widespread violence against Iraqi women. The immediate consequences for women: hejabs worn by Muslim and Christian women alike (and abayas in some regions) to avoid being harassed and beaten in public; an epidemic of women killed in the city of Basra by fundamentalist men, who leave them in the street as a lesson to other women; increased rape, including of women in detention; abduction into prostitution; and a dramatic rise in "honor" killings, or the murder of women and girls by male family members to restore family honor. Muta'a - Sharia law-permitted exploitation [or dating*] of women by men in so-called temporary marriages, which serve as fronts for prostitution [or just premarital sex*] - rose after the war began, with men targeting desperate, penniless widows and the Shia militia targeting single girls. The real ruler in Iraq today, according to Iraqi Professor Maha Sabria, "is the rule of old traditions and tribal, backward law" with a US-brokered Constitution based in Islamic law, one which does not assure women basic rights or protections.

The Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), which investigated women's deaths in Basra by visiting city morgues, found that most of the women killed by fundamentalist "vice squads" in Basra were largely professionals, activists and PhDs. The lesson to other women: end any participation in the public, political and social spheres and stay home under male surveillance. By early 2008, only 20 percent of primary and secondary students countrywide were female; the rest were prisoners in their homes. Houzan Mahmoud, who has risked her life to organize a petition against the introduction of Islamic law in Kurdistan, summed up the impact of the war: "If before there were one dictator persecuting people, now almost everyone is persecuting women."

*The charge that "Mut'a" or "temporary marriage" is a front for prostitution, an exploitation of women, is wrong. I'm sure many Shia men do exploit women and engage in prostitution, but many Shia men do "Mut'a" just to engage in consensual pre-marital sex. When I lived with my girlfriend in college, my parents found out about it eventually, and when they did, they were very disappointed. They told me the only way to make it ok by God is to do a "temporary marriage" with her. And that's what I did with my American girlfriend from Arkansas, just to make my religious parents happy, or more happy than they were when they discovered I was living in sin.

"Mut'a" is one of those words that some Sunni Arabs love to throw at Shia as an insult, as if Sunni Arabs do not engage in pre-marital sex.

Crackdown on journalists concerns US govt

NPR: 'A surge of protests against Iraq's U.S.-backed democratic government has provoked a violent crackdown on demonstrators and journalists that is raising concerns about a rollback of civil liberties throughout the country.

In recent weeks, journalists and activists have been detained and beaten by Iraqi security forces, TV and radio stations attacked in the dead of night, and protesters blocked from getting to demonstrations. In the most serious incidents, an Iraqi reporter claims he was tortured with electricity and three people who went to a protest turned up dead the next morning.

The attacks on journalists have sparked a rare public demand by the American government for accountability.

"We call on the Iraqi Government and Kurdistan Regional Government authorities to follow through on their pledges to investigate these incidents fully, and punish the perpetrators," the embassy said Monday.'

Islamic State of Iraq "Finance Minister" arrested

M&C: "Mosul, Iraq - Iraqi army forces arrested an insurgent affiliated with al-Qaeda on Tuesday, and six people were killed in separate attacks, according to security officials.

Army forces arrested the so-called finance minister of Islamic State of Iraq in the northern city of Mosul, an army source said."

Monday, March 07, 2011

Top Saudi clerics: protests are un-Islamic

No surprise here. Have they issued a fatwa yet? Or just a faswa?

"Saudi Arabia's top clerics have condemned calls for protests as un-Islamic, the Al Hayat newspaper reported Monday, ahead of a demonstration planned in the kingdom later this week.

The Council of Senior Scholars said that 'reform and advice do not take place by protests or methods that lead to sedition'.

A protest is being planned in Saudi Arabia Friday to call for political reforms, the release of political prisoners, more employment opportunities and greater freedoms."

Engel: No-fly zone would help Libyan rebels

Richard Engel in the clip below says that a no-fly zone would definitely help the Libyan rebels. He's right, assuming NATO (or whoever) pilots don't kill civilians. There are many risks in enforcing a no-fly zone.

Engel mentioned that after the war in Iraq in 1991, there was a no-fly zone, but it didn't "apply" to low-flying helicopters, which Saddam used to crush the rebels. Now that's not getting it quite true. I know it's hard to get this all into a few seconds. It might take a minute: the US and allies had already destroyed Iraq's air force by the time US troops entered Iraq in February 1991. At the end of 40 days of aerial bombardment, Iraq's air force was decimated and US forces had complete control of the sky and the ground. No Iraqi dared fly anything over Iraqi airspace. So when the uprisings began in early March (20 years ago!), it was quite a surprise when the US, represented by "Stormin" Norman Schwarzkopf and Colin Powell, allowed Saddam's generals to use helicopters:

at the Safwan negotiations, Schwarzkopf carelessly authorized the Iraqis to use helicopter gunships on their side of the cease-fire line. The Iraqi generals were so surprised by that concession—which permitted them to strafe and rocket Kurds and Shiites from the air—that one of the Iraqi generals incredulously asked: "So you mean even the helicopters that are armed can fly in the Iraqi skies?"

The no-fly zone over southern Iraq was not enforced again until August, 1992, 17 months after the uprising began. It is inexplicable, especially when you consider that US troops were already on the ground in Iraq, and there was already a no-fly zone that was established after 40 days of continuous bombing.

I hate it when good reporters are forced to summarize so much that they end up skimming the history and not getting it right. At least Mr. Engel deserves credit for reminding the public that the US allowed Saddam to use helicopters to crush a rebellion that might have toppled him otherwise.

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Raise taxes on the rich

Raise taxes on big oil. NOW.

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What's the profit margin on crude these days, Mr. Koch? How about for Chevron? What was Exxon's profit last year? What kind of profit margin are the Royal Wahhabis looking at, even after they subtract the cost of bribing the people with free money? I bet it costs the Saudis less than $5 a barrel to extract the crude from underneath the eastern provinces.

Check this out: "Saudi Arabia's `Day of Rage' Lures Record Bets on $200 Oil".