Friday, December 30, 2011

Sunni Arabs in Adhamiya celebrate US withdrawal

'Hundreds of Sunni Muslims gathered in Baghdad Friday to celebrate the withdrawal of American forces, but in a sign of the sectarian divisions that re-emerged immediately after their departure, Shiite Muslims did not join the event.

The celebration took place near the Abu Hanifa mosque, the main house of worship in the primarily Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah in northern Baghdad. To secure the event, Iraqi troops blocked traffic on roads leading to the mosque and searched people approaching the area.

During the rally, men and children waved Iraqi flags and raised banners praising those who resisted the U.S. presence in Iraq.'

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Inside Saddam's Reign of Terror

I'm watching Inside Saddam's Reign of Terror on National Geographic. Pretty good summary for a short documentary. I found it on YouTube too:

The courageous Iraqis who stayed

A very nice photo essay about the Iraqis who stayed in Iraq despite the violence: 'Russia Abrahim, 26, lost her father and two brothers to sectarian violence. She insists on staying in Iraq to teach geography.

“Most times when you talk to someone who has been through that, they are bitter and would love to leave the country,” Ms. Bruce said. “She wants to stay and teach geography. She thinks the more people know about others in the world and are more educated, the less likely something like that would happen in the future. She actually has a reason for staying.”

Ms. Bruce said her portrait series grew from long discussions she had with Yasir Ghazi and Duraid Adnan, reporters for The Times in Baghdad, who also helped her to find subjects who were staying in Iraq. Sometimes Mr. Ghazi or Mr. Adnan would excitedly tell her about someone they discovered.'

Thanks Marsha for sharing!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bashar been shelling Homs

"As many as 20 people were killed in heavy shelling and gunfire in the Syrian city of Homs on Monday, opposition activists said, even as the first group of about 50 Arab League observers was expected to arrive in the country to monitor compliance with a regional peace initiative."

Israel might commemorate Armenian genocide

"The Israeli parliament on Monday held its first public debate on whether to commemorate the Turkish genocide of Armenians a century ago, an emotionally resonant and politically fraught topic for Israel, founded on the ashes of the Holocaust and trying to salvage frayed ties with Turkey.

The session resulted from a rare confluence of political forces — a decades-long effort by some on the left to get Israel to take a leading role in bringing attention to mass murder combined with those on the right angry at the way Turkey has criticized Israel over its policies toward the Palestinians."

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Islamist militants bomb Nigerian Churches on Christmas

"The Boko Haram Islamist sect, which aims to impose sharia law across the country, claimed responsibility for the three church bombs, the second Christmas in a row the group has caused mass carnage with deadly bombings of churches. Security forces also blamed the sect for two other blasts in the north."

This is a major violation of the Qur'an, I would say.

Christmas festivities in Gaza a taboo

"Since the Palestinian Authority left the Gaza Strip, festive celebrations and displays of crucifixes have become taboo.

Christians in Gaza say they face intimidation and arrest over Christmas celebrations since Hamas took charge in 2007.

...Of the 1.5 million Palestinians now living in the Gaza Strip, fewer than 1,400 are Christian and those who can are leaving. The church hopes reconciliation will bring them back.

There hasn't been a Christmas tree in Gaza City's main square since Hamas pushed the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza in 2007 and Christmas is no longer a public holiday."

I wonder if Hamas is violating the Qur'an by doing this. According to the Qur'an, Muslims must respect Christians.

Merry Christmas!

Thanks Bruno for sharing.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

CIA may assist Iraqis with security

If needed....

"As the responsibility for nurturing bilateral relations shifts to the State Department, the responsibility for security assistance moves to the C.I.A., which operates in Iraq under a separate authority, independent of the military.

Although the United States military is unlikely to return to Iraq, it is possible that military counterterrorism personnel could return, if approved by the president, under C.I.A. authority, just as an elite team of Navy commandos carried out the raid that killed Osama bin Laden under C.I.A. command.

The C.I.A. historically has operated its own strike teams, and it also has the authority to hire indigenous operatives to participate in its counterterrorism missions."

Hashemi accuses Iraqi govt of bombing Shia neighborhoods

"Iraq's Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi has said Iraq's government was behind Thursday's series of bombings that killed nearly 70 people in Baghdad."

I think many Sunni Arabs believe this. It's either Iran or the Iraqi government, or both, according to them. I don't hear as many Arabs blaming Americans for bombings that kill civilians.

Thanks Anonymous for posting the link.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Sunni Arabs in Iraq protest Maliki govt

"After Friday prayers, with Sunni imams warning Maliki was seeking to foment sectarian divisions, protesters were on the streets of Sunni-dominated Samarra, Ramadi, Baiji and Qaim, many waving banners in support of Hashemi, and criticizing the government."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

They attacked markets, grocery stores, schools, and govt buildings

"Using car bombs and improvised explosive devices, insurgents attacked markets, grocery stores, schools and government buildings in a dozen neighborhoods in central and eastern part of the capital."

Iraq has experienced the equivalent of 300 9/11s since 2003

CSM: "Mr. Maliki has had an arrest warrant issued for Sunni Arab Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, who has fled to autonomous Kurdistan. Mr. Hashemi has been charged with running a death squad. Whatever the merits of the charges against him -- few Iraqi politicians are more than one or two degrees separated from the sectarian violence at the height of Iraq's civil war – the timing of the charges sent a strong message that political consolidation, not reconciliation, is the order of the day.

Since then, the largely Sunni Iraqiya bloc has withdrawn its legislators, Maliki has begun parliamentary proceedings to remove the Sunni Saleh al-Mutlaq from his post as deputy prime minister (a position granted last year in recognition of the strong showing of Iraqiyya at the polls), and the prime minister has threatened to dismiss all of his political rivals from the cabinet and pack the government with Shiite loyalists.

As this paper wrote a few days ago, all of this strongly increases the odds that Iraq could plunge back into a sectarian civil war.

This is not, however, inevitable. The massive scale of Iraq's violence and the cleansing of whole neighborhoods of Christians, Shiites, and Sunnis will reverberate and create challenges for years. At minimum, 100,000 have died from violence in the war. Adjusted for population, that's the equivalent of one million Americans killed, or more than 300 9-11s, since 2003."

16 bombings in 13 Baghdad neighborhoods kill 69 civilians

"A string of explosions ripped through the Iraqi capital on Thursday, killing at least 60 people and injuring nearly 200 just days after the last U.S. troops left the country, police and health officials said.

The attacks came in the midst of a political standoff between the country’s main Shiite and Sunni Muslim factions, heightening fears of a return to the sectarian bloodletting that devastated the country a few years ago.

...There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the seemingly coordinated attacks bore the hallmarks of Sunni insurgents linked to Al Qaeda, who regularly target Shiites and have previously sought to capitalize on political tension to ignite sectarian strife."

12 of the 13 areas bombed are Shia neighborhoods. One of my co-workers is an Iranian American who hates the mullahs. He's convinced Iran had something to do with the bombings. I hate the mullahs too, but it doesn't make sense to me that Iran would bomb Shia neighborhoods in Iraq. My co-worker said that Iran wants to control Iraq. By bombing Iraqi Shia? I don't get it. It is interesting that my Iranian American co-worker is a Republican.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best case scenario for Iraq is to be like Russia?

"The best-case scenario for Iraq is that it will be another Russia — an imperfect, corrupt, oil democracy that still holds together long enough so that the real agent of change — a new generation, which takes nine months and 21 years to develop — comes of age in a much more open, pluralistic society. The current Iraqi leaders are holdovers from the old era, just like Vladimir Putin in Russia. They will always be weighed down by the past. But as Putin is discovering — some 21 years after Russia’s democratic awakening began — that new generation thinks differently. I don’t know if Iraq will make it. The odds are really long, but creating this opportunity was an important endeavor, and I have nothing but respect for the Americans, Brits and Iraqis who paid the price to make it possible."

Iranian & Arab extremists did not want democracy in Iraq

"Iran, the Arab dictators and, most of all, Al Qaeda did not want a democracy in the heart of the Arab world, and they tried everything they could — in Al Qaeda’s case, hundreds of suicide bombers financed by Arab oil money — to sow enough fear and sectarian discord to make this democracy project fail." -Thomas Friedman

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rumors that Maliki to have Sunni VP arrested?

on charges of terrorism?

"Iraq’s political process was unraveling faster than had been anticipated Saturday, with Sunni politicians walking out of the nation’s parliament and threatening to resign from the government even before the last U.S. troops had left the country.

The crisis was triggered by reports that security forces loyal to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, are planning to arrest the country’s Sunni vice president, Tariq al-Hashimi, and charge him with terrorism."

Update: "An Iraqi investigative committee issued an arrest warrant Monday for the country's vice president, who is accused of orchestrating bombing attacks against government and security officials.

The committee of five judges issued the warrant for Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi under Article 4 of the country's anti-terrorism law.

The Interior Ministry, at a news conference, showed what it called confession videos from people identified as security guards for al-Hashimi, the country's Sunni vice president. In the videos, the men described various occasions in which they purportedly carried out attacks under direct orders from al-Hashimi."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Iraqi Shia and Irani relationship is complicated

Liz Sly, WP: "When a senior Iranian cleric announced last month that he was planning to move to this holy Shiite city to open an office, the furor that erupted offered a glimpse into the future of a complicated relationship.

As American troops leave Iraq, Iran certainly ranks high among the beneficiaries of their eight-year presence. As a Shiite power that suffered enormously during its own eight-year war with a Sunni-dominated Iraq in the 1980s, Iran now can generally count on closer ties with a friendly Shiite government next door.

But the biggest winners of all have been Iraqi Shiites, whose ascent to power reversed nearly 1,400 years of sometimes brutal Sunni domination. And while Iraqi Shiites broadly welcome the departure of Americans, they seem in no mood to substitute one form of foreign domination for another — and least of all, they say, from Iran."

Muslims should learn more science

"More than 150 scholars from Muslim countries discusses the causes and consequences of takfir and its remedies at the event organized by the Prince Naif International Prize for the Sunnah of the Prophet and Contemporary Islamic Studies.

Ahmad Hassan Al-Qawasima and Abdul Shafi Ali of Egypt said they found in a study that most students believed that unscientific education was the cause of takfir tendencies among youths. The two researchers said they surveyed more than 300 students at King Faisal University for the study."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fall of Saddam was cause for celebration, but...

"The fact that Saddam Hussein is gone is a genuine cause for celebration. But the list of errors and horrors in this war is inexcusably long, starting with a rush to invasion based on manipulated intelligence.

The Bush administration had no plan for governing the country once Saddam was deposed. The Iraqi economy still bears the scars from the first frenzied days of looting. The decision to disband the Sunni-dominated Iraqi Army helped unleash five years of sectarian strife that has not fully abated. Iraq’s political system remains deeply riven by ethnic and religious differences."

War in Iraq is ending for Americans, maybe not for Iraqis

'Iraqis will be left with a country that is not exactly at war, and not exactly at peace. It has improved in many ways since the 2007 troop “surge,” but it is still a shattered country marred by violence and political dysfunction, a land defined on sectarian lines whose future, for better or worse, is now in the hands of its people.

“It is the end for the Americans only,” Emad Risn, an Iraqi columnist, recently wrote in Assabah al-Jadeed, a government-financed newspaper. “Nobody knows if the war will end for Iraqis, too.” '

Thursday, December 15, 2011

US officially ends Iraq war

LAT: 'The violence also goes on — by some estimates, an average of 30 bombings and other attacks each week and about 10 deaths a day. That death toll is roughly 20% of what it was during the worst days of the Shiite-Sunni warfare in 2006.

More than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed, according to Iraq Body Count, a website that has tracked the war. About 12% died at the hands of American forces and the rest in terrorist attacks, sectarian violence and extrajudicial executions.

The security of civilians is now the responsibility of Iraqi troops and police, visible on virtually every major street in Baghdad, searching passing cars and patrolling avenues. More than a year ago, they took over security responsibilities after U.S. forces withdrew from Iraq's cities.

With the Americans gone, it is up to men like Cpl. Hatim Abdul Kareem to help control the country's endemic violence. He has his doubts. A Shiite, he lost a cousin to sectarian violence. He fears more bloodletting after U.S. troops leave.

"After the Americans are gone, there will be war in the streets," he said. "This is not just me saying this. Other soldiers are saying this. My family, my friends, they're all saying the violence will get worse." '

Bahraini police think Bahraini protesters are paid by Iran

Nicholas Kristof: 'The royal family in this U.S. ally of Bahrain deserves credit for turning a desert island in the Persian Gulf into a modern banking center. The rulers have educated Bahrainis, built a large English-speaking middle class, empowered women and fostered such moderation that the ambassador to Washington is a woman from Bahrain's tiny Jewish community.

Yet our pals here also represent a brutal, family-run dictatorship, and few countries crushed the Arab Spring so decisively as Bahrain. The regime helpfully displayed this darker side a few days ago when riot police attacked the video journalist accompanying me and detained both of us.

...The police promptly detained me. They wedged me in the back seat of a different police car but treated me courteously. The detention turned out to be a fascinating "embed," because the police freely shared their venomous hatred of the protesters and their delusional view that they are all paid by Iran.'

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Some Americans don't like portrayal of Muslims as peaceful

Last night on GAWKER: "On tonight's Daily Show, Jon Stewart took a look at the controversy surrounding TLC's new show, All American Muslim, and the Tampa-based group that hates it. Because the Muslims depicted in the show aren't shown to be terrorists bent on destroying America, the Florida Family Association can't abide it. Like most zealots, all they want is their stereotypes reinforced. Is it too much to ask for Bravo to whip up a season of the The Real Martyrs of Jalalabad? Sheesh."

I love the writer(s) at GAWKER. And of course Jon Stewart is awesome as usual:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Did Gene Sharp start revolutions?

I'm watching "How to Start a Revolution" on CURRENT TV. WOW. I learned about Gene Sharp through the Angry Arab, who didn't have great things to say about Sharp, but until recently I did not know who Gene Sharp is. The Angry Arab does not believe Gene Sharp deserves so much attention. He wrote "All Arab uprisings have had violence in them."

The documentary portrays Sharp as influential in the revolutions of eastern Europe and of the Middle East this year. Many revolutionaries were interviewed and they acknowledge Gene Sharp's influence. The documentary mentioned that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood published Gene Sharp's writings on their web site. An American influenced the Muslim Brotherhood! That is impressive.

The Iranian regime does not like Gene Sharp and think he is a CIA agent! It's funny. I can relate, as I have also been accused of working for the CIA!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Embarrassing to see Shia defending al Assad

It is embarrassing to see Shia defending Bashar al Assad's regime. Hasan Nasrallah defended the dictator. Iran of course is defending him. Even one of my own relatives says the footage out of Syria is fake. Fake!?? Watch Barbara Walters' interview with Bashar al Assad and tell me the video is fake, 3ammu.

We Shia should be supporting democracy in Syria, even if many Syrians did not support democracy in Iraq.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Assad wants "evidence" of his regime's crimes

Bashar al Assad seems to be living in a parallel universe, as if he does not know of brutality and murder by his own goons. He tells Barbara Walters that he has seen no evidence of brutality against Syrian protesters!

Barbara Walters gives some examples of torture and murder by Assad's regime:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

He said only a "crazy" leader kills his own people. He really sees himself as a legitimate leader still.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Obama: "Trickle-Down Economics" doesn't work

Obama gave a good speech today. It's been a while! He said trickle-down economics doesn't work, has never worked.

"Tax cuts for the wealthy, primarily those passed by Republicans in 2001 and 2003, lowered rates for the richest Americans to historically low levels — but those cuts were followed by massive deficits and weak job growth, not the economic boom conservatives promised."

Monday, December 05, 2011

Ashura, day of sorrow

"At least 20 people — many of them women and children — were killed in three bomb blasts about 50 miles south of Baghdad, security officials and hospital officials said. Dozens more were injured.

In the capital, another three explosions in heavily Shiite neighborhoods left three people dead and nearly 20 wounded, police officials said.

The attacks came as hundreds of thousands of worshipers flocked to the holy city of Karbala to celebrate Ashura, which commemorates the death of a foundational figure in Shiite Islam more than 1,000 years ago."

Ashura has been attacked before, and not just in Iraq, but Iraqi Shia have been the primary victims of Wahhabi terrorism since 2003.

More on Ashura: "Shia Imams strongly insist that the day of Ashura should not be taken as a day of joy and festivity. According to a hadith which is reported from Ali claiming it was on that day the God forgave Adam, Noah's Ark rested on dry land, The Israelites were saved from Pharaoh's army, etc. The day of Ashura, according to Eighth Shia Imam, Ali al-Rida, must be observed as a day of inactivity, sorrow and total disregard of worldly cares."

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Al Jazeera sucks (again)

Hayder al-Khoei: "Arab broadcasting has never been renowned for neutrality but the events of the past week in Saudi Arabia have revealed some interesting – if not surprising – bias.

On 20 November, 19-year-old Nasser al-Mheishi was shot dead in Qatif, Saudi Arabia. When the authorities refused to hand over his body to his family, protests ensued the next day and security forces shot another young man, Ali al-Felfel. In the demonstration that followed on Wednesday, two more protesters, Munib al-Adnan and Ali al-Qarayrees, were killed.

On Thursday, al-Jazeera Arabic did mention those two deaths but it simply echoed the Saudi authorities' claims that the security forces were fired upon and shot back in self-defence. The casualties were merely caught in the crossfire. End of story.

Even Al-Jazeera English, which does better than its Arabic sister station, did not follow up its coverage of deaths at Qatif protests"

Unbearable and Unfathomable

"David Emanuel Hickman, 23, was the 4,483rd American military member killed in Iraq, according to, and just the second in November. He was the 53rd to die this year, by far the lowest annual total of the war and 16 times lower than the peak rate in 2007.

Although combat operations have officially been considered over since September 2010, danger remains. Every death in war is tragic, but the loss of a son or daughter as a war winds down seems all the more unbearable and unfathomable."