Thursday, July 29, 2010

Al Qaida kills Iraqi Sunni Arabs too

"Gunmen launched a rare, coordinated attack on Iraqi soldiers Thursday in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Baghdad and briefly erected the black flag of Al-Qaida in Iraq near a smoldering army checkpoint.

According to an official with the Iraqi Interior Ministry, the death toll included six soldiers and police officers and 10 civilians.

The violence was the latest in a series of attacks in recent weeks claimed by, or attributed to, Al-Qaida in Iraq. Among them were the bombing of the Trade Bank of Iraq, an assault on the Central Bank, a suicide attack on a satellite news channel and the slaughter of more than 40 Awakening Council members.

In Fallujah, in eastern Anbar Province -- the main battlefield of the U.S. fight against the Sunni insurgency earlier in the Iraq war -- three separate explosions on Thursday killed five people, including three Iraqi soldiers."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sectarian violence continues in Iraq

"Two car bomb blasts near the Shi'ite shrine city of Karbala in southern Iraq have killed at least 20 people and wounded more than 50 others.

Iraqi officials say the attacks targeted Shi'ite pilgrims heading to Karbala for an important Sh'ite holiday this week.

Earlier Monday, another car bomb exploded in front of the Baghdad offices of Al-Arabiya television, killing at least four people and wounding 16 others. Al-Arabiya staffers said the explosion badly damaged the building and left a huge crater. Iraqi officials had previously warned the network about the threat of an insurgent attack.

Monday's bombing was not the first time Al-Arabiya has been targeted in Iraq. The network's Baghdad bureau chief escaped harm in 2008 after a bomb was found strapped to his car. The Arabic-language station is owned by Saudi Arabia and based in Dubai."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Al Qaeda continues to kill Iraqis

'A car bomb near a Shiite mosque in a village north of Baghdad exploded among crowds of people on Wednesday, killing at least 13 and wounding 24 others, the police said.

Residents of Abe Sayeda, a predominately Shiite village located in a heavily Sunni area, blamed the bombing on Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, the homegrown terrorist group, which has remained active in the province, Diyala.

An American soldier was killed there on Wednesday after a roadside bomb exploded as his vehicle passed, the United States military said in a statement.

The bomb site lies near a Shiite mosque, a health center and shops, and was crowded with people venturing outside Wednesday evening after the day’s heat had dissipated somewhat.

“Al Qaeda is hiding in many areas surrounding this village and the families there support them,” said Abdul Rachman al-Tamimi, whose clothes were bloody from helping the injured into ambulances.'

Monday, July 19, 2010

Arab Jews

"Once upon a time not so long ago, an Arab could be Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc… Up until the 1950s, the Jewish community was an integral part of the fabric of Arab society. They spoke Arabic and contributed to the arts and sciences. They had been rooted in countries in like Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Yemen for millenia. Growing up, my grandparents would recount fond memories of their Jewish neighbors and colleagues in the golden days of Basra and Baghdad, insisting that they were always considered – and considered themselves- Iraqi first. They would attend their weddings and parties and my paternal grandfather worked with them in municipal affairs during his career as the Mayor of Basra. And stories abound from Iraqi family friends, about how they, Muslim Iraqis, held their Jewish friends’ possessions for safekeeping when they had to flee. Theirs was a bond that seemed to go beyond friendship. For sure the history of Jews in the Arab World is a complex one that had its ups and downs, but once upon a time, they were brothers and sisters."

Al Qaeda kills more Iraqis

"In one of the deadliest single attacks in Iraq this year, insurgents on Sunday targeted the Sunni militia that was crucial in turning the tide against al-Qaida in Iraq.

That bombing claimed at least 43 lives and rekindled memories of the 2006-07 peak of both Iraq's civil war and its insurgency. It is the latest in a string of recent attacks against Iraqi police and the Sunni Awakening, or Sons of Iraq.

Members of the Awakening, a collective movement recruited by the U.S. military to fight al-Qaida in Iraq, were attacked while waiting on Baghdad's southwest outskirts to receive paychecks from the Iraqi government.

Government officials and Awakening leaders blamed al-Qaida in Iraq."

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Americans with Semitic names

'Barack and Hussein are Semitic words. Americans have been named with Semitic names since the founding of the republic. Fourteen of our 43 presidents have had Semitic names (see below). And American English contains many Arabic-derived words that we use every day and without which we would be much impoverished. America is a world civilization with a world heritage, something Cunningham will never understand.

Barack is a Semitic word meaning "to bless" as a verb or "blessing" as a noun. In its Hebrew form, barak, it is found all through the Bible. It first occurs in Genesis 1:22 -- "And God blessed (ḇāreḵə) them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth."

Here is a list of how many times barak appears in each book of the Bible.

Now let us take the name "Hussein." It is from the Semitic word hasan, meaning "good" or "handsome." Husayn is the diminutive, affectionate form.

Barack Obama's middle name is in honor of his grandfather, Hussein, a secular resident of Nairobi, Kenya. Americans may think of Saddam Hussein when they hear the name, but that is like thinking of Stalin when you hear the name Joseph. There have been lots of Husseins in history, from the grandson of the prophet Mohammed, a hero who touched the historian Gibbon, to King Hussein of Jordan, one of America's most steadfast allies in the 20th century. The author of the beloved American novel "The Kite Runner" is Khaled Hosseini.

...John Adams really only had Semitic names. His first name is from the Hebrew Yochanan, or gift of God, which became Johan and then John. (In German and in medieval English, "y" is represented by "j" but was originally pronounced "y.") Adams is from the biblical Adam, which also just means "human being." In Arabic, one way of saying "human being" is "Bani Adam," the children of men.

Thomas Jefferson's first name is from the Aramaic Tuma, meaning "twin." Aramaic is a Semitic language spoken by Jesus, which is related to Hebrew and Arabic. In Arabic, twin is tau'am, so you can see the similarity.

James Madison, James Monroe and James Polk all had a Semitic first name, derived from the Hebrew Ya'aqov or Jacob, which is Ya'qub in Arabic. It became Iacobus in Latin, then was corrupted to Iacomus, and from there became James in English.

Zachary Taylor's first name is from the Hebrew Zachariah, which means "the Lord has remembered."

Abraham Lincoln, of course, is named for the patriarch Abraham, from the Semitic word for father, Ab, and the word for "multitude," raham. Abu, "father of," is a common element in Arab names today.' --Juan Cole

Thanks Khalid for posting this!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

CNN fires journalist for expressing opinion on Twitter

I like Robert Fisk.

'I might have guessed it. CNN has fired one of its senior Middle East editors, Octavia Nasr, for publishing a twitter – or twatter in this case, I suppose – extolling Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah of Lebanon, calling him "one of Hizbollah's giants whom I respect a lot".

Well, he wasn't Hizbollah's man, but no matter. He was definitely a giant. A man of immense learning and jurisprudence, a believer in women's rights, a hater of "honour crimes", a critic of the theocratic system of government in Iran, a ... Well, I'd better be careful because I might get a phone call from Parisa Khosravi, who goes by the title of CNN's "senior vice president" – what these boss types do or what they get paid for their gutless decisions I have no idea – who said this week that she had "had a conversation" with Nasr (who'd been with the company for 20 years) and "we have decided that she will be leaving the company".

Oh deary, deary. Poor old CNN goes on getting more cowardly by the hour. That's why no one cares about it any more. That can't be said about Fadlallah. The Americans put it about that he had blessed the suicide bomber who struck the US marine base in Beirut in 1983, killing 241 service personnel. Fadlallah always denied this to me and I believe him. Suicide bombers, however insane we regard them, don't need to be blessed; they think they are doing God's duty without any help from a marja like Fadlallah. But anyway, Washington used Saudi money to arrange a car bombing to assassinate Fadlallah in 1985. It missed Fadlallah. But it killed more than 80 innocent people. I do wonder what Ms Khosravi would have thought of that. No comment, I guess.'

--Robert Fisk

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sunni and Shia Arabs do not "kill each other"

"More than 40 people have died and some 100 have been wounded in bomb attacks on Shia pilgrims converging on a shrine in northern Baghdad, say police.

At least 30 died when a suicide bomber targeted a crowd walking through the predominantly Sunni Adhamiya district to the Imam Moussa al-Kadhim mosque."

I came across this photo on facebook. The caption condemned the killing of "non-Muslims" but also said "...when Shias and Sunnis kill each other." Maybe I'm being too sensitive, but I think this statement is misleading. Shia do not kill Sunni kids in the name of Islam.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Some Arab leaders afraid of nuclear Iran

"The United Arab Emirates on Wednesday tried to control the diplomatic fallout after the country’s ambassador to Washington urged the US to use force to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Yousef al-Otaiba, an influential figure in the UAE’s government, told an audience at the Aspen Ideas Festival in the US that a nuclear-armed Iran would be a greater disaster than a military strike.

His remarks shed rare light on the hawkish attitude of some Arab states that are desperate to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. In public, the UAE and some of its neighbours try to maintain cordial relations with Tehran. Privately, however, they appear terrified of the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran dominating the region."

Monday, July 05, 2010

Iraqis in London unhappy with Iraqi govt

I'm in London and the mood among Iraqis here is one of severe disdain for the Iraqi government. The lack of electricity and clean water coupled with rampant corruption in Iraq seven years after the fall of the dictator is an embarrassment to most Iraqis I know. I have been surprised to hear some Iraqi Shia say that Saddam's government was better than the current one. Saddam was better than Maliki? Really?? That is shocking. They are undoubtedly exaggerating, as many Iraqis often do, but it's nevertheless quite the slap in the face for Nouri al Maliki and his Da3wa party.

I have been surprised to see that even many of my religious relatives are now saying that religion must be separated from government. I see more Iraqis mocking Shia clerics who mix religion and politics. More Iraqi Shia I've met in London see Iran as the biggest problem for Iraq rather than Saudi Arabia and they see Ammar al Hakim as subservient to Iran. Muqtada al Sadr is a joke. Yesterday my father's friend called Sadr "majnoon" (crazy) and derided the clerics in the Iraqi government. More and more Iraqis are becoming tired of Iraqi politicians whose priority is religion instead of government.

Maliki is also becoming the butt of jokes. He got on TV last week to apologize about the electricity situation. Nobody believes he is sincere and people think his efforts are too little too late. It seems that the longer Maliki tries to hold on to power, the more Iraqis see him as selfish and out of touch with ordinary Iraqis. As Iraqi political analyst Ibrahim Sumydai put it, "There is a dictator inside each one of them. It is a culture."