Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Obama on Syria's Assad: Human Dignity Cannot Be Denied

Obama just said that in his state of the union speech. He also said the US is determined in preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Egyptian Salafi party wins 25% of vote

"The Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s dominate political and religious force, won 47% of the 498 seats in the lower house of parliament, according to official final results. The ultraconservative Salafi Islamist party Al Nour won nearly 25%, followed by the secular parties New Wafd and the Egyptian Bloc, with about 9% each.

...The relatively moderate Brotherhood and the puritanical Salafis will likely battle over how deeply Islam should shape the constitution and be ingrained in public life. Both parties have said social and economic challenges are the most pressing concerns, but the Salafis, who receive funding from Persian Gulf nations, are certain to push for an Egypt more rooted in sharia, or Islamic law."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kuwaitis hated Saddam too

I stumbled upon this Wiki entry on Musallam Al-Barrak, member of the Kuwaiti National Assembly:

'On January 6, 2007, Al-Barrak called for halting foreign aid to Yemen and other countries that have seen protests against the execution of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Al-Barrak strongly condemned the positions of Yemen, Libya, Fatah, Hamas, and certain groups in Jordan that deplored Saddam’s execution and hailed him as a martyr. Al-Barrak ridiculed Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, calling them “the orphans of Saddam Hussein who will face the same dark fate." Al-Barrak was quoted by the Kuwait Times as saying, "Yemen’s president has said that Saddam’s execution is an insult to all Arabs and we say that it is an insult to all leaders who oppress their people. Saddam has gone to the dustbin of history while his orphans Saleh and Gaddafi wait for their dark fate." Al-Barrak went on to say he regretted the flow of Kuwaiti financial aid to Yemen and other countries, the latest of which was a $200m interest-free loan to Yemen: “It appears that our destiny is to increase aid and help to countries while they increase their insults towards us. We urge the government to defend the dignity of the Kuwaiti people."'

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"the system now is just like under Saddam"

'How do you make detainees confess? "We hang them from the ceiling and beat them until they are motionless corpses," he said. "Then they confess."

"Look," he added, "the system now is just like under Saddam: walk by the wall, don't go near politics and you can walk with your head high and not fear anything. But if you come close to the throne then the wrath of Allah will fall on you and we have eyes everywhere."'

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Explosion kills 53 Shia in Basra

"The explosion hit a tent where pilgrims were being fed around 8:30 a.m., killing at least 53 people, including several police officers at a nearby checkpoint, and wounding more than 130 others, local officials said."

PS: CNN says it was a suicide bomber: "A suicide bomber disguised as a policeman targeted Shiite pilgrims Saturday outside the southern Iraqi city of Basra, killing at least 53 people and wounding 137, the Interior Ministry said."

Friday, January 13, 2012

Would Iraqi Arabs fight Sunni Arab dominated states?

"The whole region is going to pay the price of the chaos that may occur in Iraq" if the political crisis continues and al-Maliki retains power, al-Mutlaq said. "Maybe what Iran wants to do is have the Arabs in Iraq fight (other Sunni-dominated Arab states) on behalf of their regime."

Is that what Iran wants? Would that be like the 8 year war that Iraqi Arabs fought against Iran on behalf of the Sunni Arab states?

Monday, January 09, 2012

Al Qaeda-linked group claims responsibility for Baghdad bombings

"A terrorist group affiliated with al-Qaeda has asserted responsibility for 37 recent attacks in Iraq’s capital, including what the organization called a failed attempt to assassinate the prime minister, as violence continued throughout the country Monday."

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Ahmad Hasan al Bakr died 3 months after Saddam took Presidency

I'm watching Saddam and the Third Reich on H2. I watched a shorter version of this documentary a couple of years ago. This version is two hours long and it contains footage I've never seen before. Also I learned something new: Ahmad Hasan al Bakr, the president of Iraq throughout the 70s, died mysteriously three months after Saddam put himself in charge of Iraq. After leaving Iraq, I often wondered what happened to al Bakr. According to this Wikipedia article, Ahmad Hassan al Bakr died in 1982. Somebody is wrong.

Conspiracy theories a currency of daily life in Iraq

'Even some supporters of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki criticized the decision to play the videotaped confessions of Mr. Hashimi’s bodyguards.

Iraqi judicial officials pulled out of a news conference the security forces called to announce the arrest warrant because the officials wanted to keep the confessions off the air. Ibrahim al-Sumaidaie, a political analyst close to Mr. Maliki, said broadcasting the confessions shredded due-process rules in Iraq’s Constitution and was reminiscent of how Saddam Hussein manipulated the news media to cow his enemies and expose endless plots against his government.

“It is a crime to put this on television,” Mr. Sumaidaie said. “It is a shame, and it is a legacy of the former dictator. The one who plays these confessions succeeds to divide the people between Shia and Sunni again. What is the benefit?”

But Iraqi officials have largely brushed off the criticism. In a country where conspiracy theories are the currency of daily life, the confessions and images of shackled prisoners offer convincing evidence that Iraqi officials are hunting down criminals.

“If we say we caught the leader of Al Qaeda, who will believe it?” said Maj. Gen. Adel Daham, an Interior Ministry official. “This is to show credibility. We are sure we are doing the right thing.” '

Conspiracy theories are popular among all Arabs, it seems.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Two Sunni soldiers killed trying to protect Shia pilgrims

'Meanwhile, top officials in Nasiriyah, worst hit by Thursday's bloodshed, held a funeral for two Sunni soldiers who, officers said, tried to prevent a suicide attack that killed 47 people in the southern city.

...Lieutenant Nazham Faleh and Private Ali Ahmed Sabah, both Sunnis from north of Baghdad, tried to wrestle the insurgent away from a crowd of Shiite pilgrims who were resting on their way to the shrine city of Karbala for Arbaeen commemorations, their commander said.

The bomber, who security officials said was carrying 35 kilograms (77 pounds) of explosives as well as nails and ball bearings, was nevertheless able to detonate his payload.

"If they did not do that, the number of casualties would have doubled because of the huge amount of explosives he was carrying, and the huge number of people around," said Colonel Sattar Jabbar al-Rizzi, commander of the Iraqi army brigade responsible for securing the area.'

Thanks Haydar for sharing.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

In 1914 there was a "striking variety" of people in Baghdad

Written by an American journalist and published by National Geographic in Dec. 1914:

'Americans in Bagdad are as yet an unknown quantity. For a year I lived there, the sole specimen of my kind. Yet the 180,000 inhabitants show a striking variety, almost justifying the tradition which locates the "Tower of Babel" near Bagdad. Certainly the mixed races in Bagdad produce even now a striking "confusion of tongues":

Sunni Moslems.......... 120,000
Shia Moslems............ 15,000
Jews.......................... 40,000
Chaldeans................. 1,600
Syrians..................... 1,200
Greeks....................... 150
Hindus....................... 75
Europeans.................. 40

The mixture preserves a peace balance, undoubtedly, and saves Bagdad from the race wars and massacres common in Asia Minor, where Moslem meets Christian.'

Interesting that in 1914 there were more Jews in Baghdad than Shia! Also I found this photo of wealthy Jewish homes in Baghdad very interesting:

Thanks Haydar for sharing!

US policy on Bahrain: a gap between American interests and American values

I was glad to hear NPR's Kelly McEvers report on Bahrain this morning:

'Bahrain's uprising didn't get quite as much attention as some of the others in the Arab world last year. But it was one of the first, beginning on Feb. 14.

...At first the protesters asked for things like an elected Parliament, a new constitution. But then when demonstrators started getting killed, tens of thousands of Bahrainis converged on a place called the Pearl Roundabout to call for the fall of the ruling Al Khalifa family.

Bahrain State TV called protesters traitors and agents of Iran, which is nearby and also has a Shiite majority.

...And so Bahrain became the one Arab country whose uprising was definitively put down. One reason, argues Toby Jones, a professor of Middle East history at Rutgers University, is that the United States and its allies wanted it that way.

For all America's talk during the Arab Spring about supporting those who seek freedom, Jones says, Bahrain was different.

"If there is a place globally where there is not just distance but a huge gap between American interests and American values, it's in the Persian Gulf," Jones says. "And its epicenter is in Bahrain. Bahrain is ground zero for the Arab Spring in the Persian Gulf. And the United States has chosen sides. It has decided that it wants to see the Bahraini regime survive and endure. And that's important not only for the American relationship with Bahrain but for Saudi Arabia."

The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet is based in Bahrain, giving the U.S. a major presence that has only increased in significance following the U.S. withdrawal of forces from Iraq.

In addition, Saudi Arabia didn't want protests in its own backyard, Jones says. And it didn't want a Shiite-led uprising to encourage its archrival, Shiite-dominated Iran.'

An abundance of ignorance about Iraq

I just read this comment by a "Sven Auge Jensen" on NPR's article about today's bombings that targeted Shia in Iraq: "Let me see if I've got this right. We destroy the entire country. We remove the worlds second largest known oil reserves from the world market. People murdered and maimed. Treasure squandered. And if all that wasn't enough we hung the one guy that could keep this nation of maniacs in line."

Saddam was allowing takfiri idiots to roam Iraq throughout the 90s (there were Salafi ties to Iraq before 2003) and Saddam did not keep this "nation of maniacs in line" unless keeping the nation in line means mass murdering Iraqis who were critical of the government, plunging the nation into an 8-year war with Iran and then invading Kuwait and subjecting the nation to 40 consecutive days of intense bombing and cruel sanctions and putting down a popular uprising and killing 300,000 Iraqi Shia. And we did not remove Iraq's oil from the world market!

I can see how uneducated Sunni Arabs would believe this kind of crap. But a westerner named Sven? Sven also seems to believe America hung Saddam. No, Sven, you've got it all wrong. I see a lot of ignorance and twisting of truth on the web with respect to Iraq. It is annoying. I just wanted to vent.

Bombings kill 71 Shia in Iraq

"A string of explosions targeting Shiite Muslims that killed at least 71 people bore the hallmark of Sunni Arab insurgents who have a history of trying to capitalize on tensions among Iraqi politicians to reignite the communal violence that nearly tore the country apart."

Monday, January 02, 2012

Iraq War death toll: 162,000

"A report released today by Iraq Body Count -- an anti-war group that compiles statistics on confirmed deaths from violence in Iraq -- estimated that the death toll from the start of the Iraq war to the end of 2011 was approximately 162,000 people.

That figure includes US and other foreign troops, Iraqi government forces, members of militias both local and foreign, and civilians. The group found that a minimum of 114,212 civilians have been killed in the Iraq war to date."