Friday, July 30, 2004
Do Me and John Kerry a Favor
Could someone do John Kerry a favor. Please call the flip-flopper up and tell him that he saw the SAME intelligence reports that President Bush saw and that he saw the SAME threats that President Bush saw and that he voted for the SAME war.
Also, could someone do me I favor. Call John Kerry and tell him that I feel I need to apologize to him. I think I slept in the middle of his acceptance speech because I don’t recall him mentioning any words about his senate years. I am sure he mentioned them because those 20 years earned him the “Most Liberal Senator” title. I am so upset with myself, I should have stayed awake!!!!!!!!!!
Thursday, July 29, 2004
Important Dead Man vs. Unimportant Dead Man
Israel is building a fence around and inside portions of the West Bank to prevent suicide bombers from reaching Israeli cities. The fence that snakes through areas inside the West Bank has made the lives of a few thousand Palestinians inconvenient (frequent readers of this blog know that I support the fence 100% but I disagree with its current route inside the West Bank). Arab/Muslim nations are preparing to elevate the issue to the Security Council. Left wing European and American (and Israeli) â€œpeace activistsâ€? flocked to Palestinian areas and painted protest slogans that they did not even put on the Berlin Wall. My Egyptian government announced that this fence (or wall as they like to call it) should be removed.
Let us look at another forgotten area of this world, Sudan, Darfur to be precise. The central government of Sudan assisted Arab militia to literally wipe out the black Africans in Darfur. Villages were burned and leveled to the ground, women were raped, and black skeleton-like children are left to die from malaria and malnutrition in the refugee camps on the Sudan-Chad borders. Human Rights Watch labeled the actions of those militias as â€œgenocideâ€?. Kofie Annan, awaken from his long siesta and finally discovered that it is OK to agree once with the US, threatened military intervention in Darfur unless the government of Sudan halt the killing machines there. And how did my Egyptian government respond? It said that a UN resolution is not needed. Oh, how interesting! So, my fellow Egyptians at the foreign ministry think that making the lives of a few thousand Palestinians inconvenient is much more disastrous and barbaric than mass slaughtering non-Arab black Sudanese in Darfur. Egyptian newspapers display the most gruesome images coming from the Palestinian areas almost on a daily basis, yet up until this very hour, I havenâ€™t seen a single picture of a dead black skeleton even though I am sure there are thousands upon thousands of them. Why are we allowed to see pictures of Israeli bulldozers demolishing a number of Palestinian homes to prevent weapons smuggling, yet we never see a single picture of how the government-backed militias in Sudan are burning down entire villages in Darfur? Are the Palestinians more valuable than the black Darfurians? Are there important and unimportant corpses?
The above example is just one case to show how pathetic, crooked, and deceptive the Arab media is. In the coming post, Iâ€™ll discuss the stupidity and ignorance of the so-called Western â€œpeace activistsâ€?
Tuesday, July 27, 2004
America the Slave
A lot is being said in the Arab and the leftist European media about American “hegemony” and how the US considers itself the policeman of the world or simply the bully on the block. Personally, I most often see a different America, an America that enslaves itself to other countries or entities just to reach a short term goal. OK OK, am I talking nonsense? Let me elaborate. What I mean is that sometimes the US, in order to take care of current interests with a certain foreign entity, chooses to lock itself in a cage and act as a hostage to this entity even if it was hurting the US in one way or another. Below are just few examples of what I mean.
Let us take the UN for example. It is now clear that tremendous corruption and theft occurred in the UN’s oil for food program in Iraq. This issue is so great that if investigated correctly (and truthfully), can blow right in the face of US basher Kofie Anan. There are also indications that even his son might be implicated in the scandal. What has the US done? In order to win UN involvement in Iraq, Paul Bremer (and the state department) has done everything to prevent the previous Governing Council from investigating the scandal on their own. US forces embarrassed their Iraqi counterparts by storming the house of former Governing Council member (and anti-UN and anti-Brahimi) Ahmed Chalabi and confiscated crucial documents related to the oil for food program fiasco. Chalabi claimed that the state department and the CIA were afraid lest his efforts might hamper Brahimi’s work in forging an interim government. And what did the Arabist Lakhdar Brahimi, who didn’t move a single hair on his buttock when Iraqi corpses were filling the mass graves, say today? He slammed the liberating war calling it “useless”.
Let us go to Saudi Arabia. For so long the Saudi ruling family was treated by the US just as a poor villager would treat a fat hen that laid its eggs on time. As long as the Saudis were pumping oil in the market, the US didn’t care much about what they were doing to their people or about what they were printing on their elementary school books. The oil in Saudi was a blessing to many (especially the ruling elite) and a curse to others. Instead of really spending on improving the standard of living for all Saudis and teaching kids that hating Christians and Jews is not a nice thing, oil revenues just made the rich richer and left the poor to their poverty and to their ignorance. The oppressed and humiliated Saudi youth (who didn’t join the oil party) were exploited by radicals such as Bin Laden and flew planes into the tallest of buildings. It always amazes me how a country such as South Korea that had absolutely no natural resources managed to create a democratic society and a functioning economy that tremendously exceeds the medieval society that Saudi is still in.
Now we turn to Qatar. This tiny country loves to wear oversized shoes. It hosts the US’ largest military base in the region and competes with Saudi Arabia in who will have better relations with Washington. However, the Qatari government finances Al Jazerah channel that has mutual beneficiary relationships with Al Qaeda and had a direct link with Saddam’s intelligence. The channel employs some of the most radical figures in the Arab media and never ceases to spill out the most awful anti-America propaganda. This channel incites violence in Iraq and indirectly caused the death of hundreds of coalition forces and Iraqis. A recent Saudi Arabian hostage who was kidnapped in Iraq and released after a US raid on the terrorist hideout filed a law suit against Al Jazerah accusing the Qatari channel of directly collaborating with his kidnappers. What was the US’ response? A few harsh words from Colin Powell to his Qatari counterpart that did absolutely nothing to change Al Jazerah’s propaganda. Does the Emir of Qatar have influence on the channel? Sure he does (he’s its money pipeline!). Al Jazerah is allowed to fiddle and mess with any Arab country except Qatar. If Colin Powell really wants to influence Qatar, he could simply pick up the phone and call the Qatari foreign minister and frankly tell him “dude, if you’re not going to fix that out, we’re out of Qatar”. The Emire of Qatar will simply pee in his pants and might do a little bit of change to his mouth of horror. Has the US made that phone call? No.
Germany, the most ferocious anti-American country on the face of the European continent. Anti-Americanism there runs so deep and I simply do not know why the US’ base is still there. New European countries such as Poland and Romania, two Reagan babies, are worthier hosts.
Now Israel. The relationship between Israel and the US is so vital and it should remain so. Israel deserves the friendship of the US and I don’t have a problem with that. However, sometimes the unequivocal support for Israel conflicts some of America’s interests. For example, during the premiership of Palestinian Prime Minister Abu Mazen, President Bush said clearly that the fence that Israel is building “is a problem”. Bush didn’t mean that the fence in itself is a problem, but the problem arises when it snakes through the occupied territories and makes the life of thousands of Palestinian villagers literally impossible. After sensing that Israel will not abandon its plans to build the fence inside areas of the West Bank, the US had to silently nod its head to this and appeared as if it is defending the idea of building a fence that would cause hardships to thousands of Palestinians even though Bush pointed to this negative issue before. Where are the days of Eisenhower and Reagan? Sensing danger to US strategic interests, President Eisenhower called for the withdrawal of all British, French, and Israeli forces from the Sinai in 1956 war. President Reagan wanted to sell one of America’s most sophisticated aircrafts to Saudi Arabia but the pro-Israel lobby and the Israeli government objected to that. What did the Gipper say? He said “it is not the business of other nations to make American foreign policy”. Reagan was a great friend of Israel and a firm defender of its security, but he simply put America first.
Saturday, July 24, 2004
America is Winning
America is winning in Iraq. Despite the continuous violence and the kidnappings we witness everyday, I now believe that the US and its Iraqi allies are on the right track. The US can easily see light at the end of the tunnel simply because it seems that Iraqis started to realize that they are not living in a country from Rent A Country.
Before June 28th, many Iraqis felt that their country was owned by the US who literally took it from its previous owner Saddam Hussein. Today it seems that more and more Iraqis are beginning to feel that there is a political process currently underway which will put the average citizen behind the steering wheel.
One of the most important developments I have heard so far is the increasing number of Iraqis who are willing to break the “fear barrier” and supply the Iraqi Police with valuable information about criminals and terrorists. My fellow blogger Mohammed reported on this in one of his recent posts.
Even the military situation began to change. We are literally back to square one. The vast majority of recent US casualties occurred in the Sunni triangle which still produces a deadly cocktail of Saddamists and Sunni Islamist radicals. The Shia areas in the south and Kurdistan in the north did not have major problems until today. The US most important goal for the coming days is to help the Iraqi government train and equip a viable Iraqi army that is willing to kill fellow Iraqis. Yes you heard me well. Iraqis must start busting their bad apples if they are going to sleep at night. It is so unfair that the Saddamists and their Islamist radical pals (both foreign and local) are killing innocent Iraqis everyday while many in the police and army are not willing to do the same thing to their potential killers. Egypt brought its own terrorists under control when we started liquidating some bad apples right in their homes. Saudi Arabia is doing the same thing today.
The US must also do everything possible in order to decrease its presence in major cities. This is so crucial. Besides helping in building a strong army and police force, the US military must concentrate on relocating outside in the desert and ending those useless patrols, but rather respond only when called upon. This will decrease US casualties and tighten the Iraqi grip on the steering wheel.
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Is Al Arabiya Born Again?
I am starting to sense a slight change in the coverage of the satellite news channel Al Arabiya. It is becoming a little bit less supportive of terrorism in Iraq and a little bit more supportive of the new government’s efforts to bring security. While ferocious anti-Americanism will always run in the veins of any Arab media, I somehow sense that this is not in Al Arabiya’s top priorities anymore.
Recent talk shows interviewed several Iraqi government officials who talked about the hope they want to install in their people and their plans to make Iraq a success. A show host went on to provide his personal wishes for the success of the Iraqi government in bringing security to the country. Recently, Al Arabiya also interviewed liberal thinkers such as Ahmed El Robaie and Abdul Rahman El Ansari. Today they had a news report on the new Iraq civil defense force where they interviewed an Iraqi female officer who looked brilliant in her uniform and stylish eye glasses.
My guess is that Al Arabiya might be going through a slight reevaluation phase after the appointment of the brilliant Abdul Rahman El Rashid as the channel’s general manager. El Rashid was the editor in chief of my favorite London based newspaper El Sharq El Awsat (The Middle East). I mentioned before that this paper is neither pro-America nor anti-America but it is pro-Iraq. The paper tries very hard not to be biased and it hosts different editorial columns from the awful Islamist Fahmi Hewaidi to progressive thinkers such as Egyptian Mamoun Fandi and Kuwaiti Ahmed El Robaie. El Sharq El Awsat is the only paper that I’m willing to spare a couple of pounds to buy.
Nevertheless, I am not claiming that Al Arabiya suddenly became an angel. It is the second most watched news channel in the Middle East and El Rashid will have to sprinkle some doses of anti-Americanism and “bravo terrorists” in its coverage just so that his channel won’t appear to be very different from the mouth of horror Al Jazerah.
One of El Sharq El Awsat and Al Arabiyah’s drawbacks is that they are both linked to the Saudi royal family. In other words, just as Al Jazerah can’t mess with Qatar, El Sharq El Awsat and Al Arabiyah have their own red line that they’re not allowed to cross: Saudi Arabia.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Egypt – The Cradle of Civilization — Part 2
What really bothers us Egyptians is the misperception that many Westerners have about life in Egypt. Many in the West still believe that we ride camels everyday to work and live in tents in the desert. Whenever Egypt is mentioned in the Western media, we almost always see a picture of the pyramids and a few Bedouins (desert dwellers) around it.
This is far from the truth. Cairo is a humongous city of 20 million people that literally has everything in it from a Rolls Royce dealership shop to the donkeys’ market. It is a very rich and also a very poor city. There are areas where you can find the finest and the most extravagant 5 stars hotels and areas that contains the most miserable slums. You can also find a dirty donkey cart walking side by side with the latest Mercedes or Jaguar. I guess this is so typical in any developing country where there is a huge income gap between the rich and poor.
Apart from the pollution and annoying taxi drivers, tourists love everything in Cairo because it is so different than what they are accustomed to. They visit the pyramids, the Egyptian museum, the city’s Islamic district, and the several old churches dating back to the 4th century. Foreigners tend to enjoy Egyptian food because it is so different and exotic to them (besides it being very tasty of course!). However, those who are afraid to put “alien food” into their stomachs resort to standards such as McDonalds or Pizza Hut.
There are 2 main types of tourism in Egypt: cultural and entertainment. Those seeking to know about the culture and history of Egypt tend to visit Cairo and 2 main southern cities called Luxor and Aswan. Those who want some entertainment and glorious diving experiences tend to go to the Red Sea and the Sinai area. Millions of Italians, Germans, and Russians flock to Sinai’s resort every year because, unlike Europe, Egypt is considered a very affordable holiday destination.
Saturday, July 17, 2004
This is my first picture on my blog after I downloaded the Hello thing. Please proceed to the new post below. I hope you enjoyed today’s lesson at the ATS (Afghanistan Terrorist School)
Friday, July 16, 2004
Egypt: The Cradle of Civilization — Part 1
Egypt is a 7000 years old country in northeastern Africa with a population of over 70 million people. This ancient nation had the most magnificent civilization ever known to mankind. Until this very day, modern science cannot explain how ancient Egyptians managed to create such wondrous works such as the pyramids and the huge temples in southern Egypt. Even though the pharaohs and the ancient Egyptians are considered to be the “stars” of Egyptian history, there are still other crucial periods such as the Greek, Roman, Christian, and Muslim eras.
The vast majority of Egyptian land is desert and nearly all Egyptians live along the Nile river and the Mediterranean sea coast. There are 3 main deserts: the western, eastern, and the Sinai deserts. The Eastern desert and the Sinai have large mountains.
Egypt has several sources of income; the most important are tourism, fees from the Suez Canal, and agriculture. The country has some oil but nearly all of it goes to local consumption. Recent natural gas discoveries are expected to be a major Egyptian export commodity. About 10 years ago, remittances from Egyptian working in oil rich Arab countries were an important source of income. However, because of the worsening economic situation in those countries, Egyptian workers came back home and swelled the number of unemployed citizens.
An average Egyptian is very kind by nature. You can easily win his heart with a smile or a small wave. We love those who show us kindness and humility. We hate arrogant and puffed up people. This is the reason why many Egyptians feel resentment towards Arabs from the Gulf who sometimes acts as if we’re inferior to them. Westerners are adored here because they’re simple and are not complex.
Egypt is 80-85% Muslim and 15-20% Christian. The vast majority of Muslims are Sunnis. There is a tiny Shia community who are not allowed to exhibit their faith publicly. Egypt had a vibrant Jewish population 60 years ago; there are almost no Jews today.
The Christians of Egypt are called Copts. This word is derived from the Coptic word Egiptos which means Egyptian. As far as the situation of Christians is concerned, the degree of dissatisfaction varies from a region to the other. In urban areas, Muslims and Christians live together in harmony. However, severe tensions exist in poorer rural areas especially in southern Egypt where the majority of Christians live. Many Christians complain about the inequality they feel in areas such as government employment, access to the media, and building places of worship.
I believe one of the blessings we have in Egypt is that the population is homogeneous. Apart from the Muslim-Christian divide, Egyptians regard themselves as Egyptians who are committed to the well being of their country. We don’t have multiple ethnicities and sects as Lebanon and Iraq do.
Thursday, July 15, 2004
I got 3 questions in the column section and was asked to answer them.
GM, as you might have read on Sarmad’s site, (and on other blogs over time), there seem to be a number of Iraqis who believe that Saddam was a US “puppet,” or at the very least that we put him in power.
Do you think this view has any effect on the attempt to democratize Iraq? If so, what do you think can be done about it?
Do you think other Arabs believe this?
What is your belief on the subject?
Yes, it is a known fact that the US had a mutual beneficiary relationship with Saddam when he was fighting Iran. The US choose the lesser “evil” and had to help its “son of a b–ch” fight Iran which was considered much more hostile to the US. Arabs, including many Iraqis, know this very well and several commentators just cannot buy the “liberation” thing because of the US’ past history of supporting “lesser evils”. When the US announced that Saddam is a prisoner of war, a Kurdish leader who turned sour towards the US said “well, of course he is a prisoner of war to them, he’s their old friend”.
What those people fail to understand is the whole world was on Saddam’s side, from the Soviet Union, to France (that built his nuclear reactor), to little Kuwait. The only country in the region that covertly helped Iran was Israel! Israel was helping its own “son of a b–ch” for 2 main reasons. First, Israel considered Saddam to be much more dangerous to its security. Second, it wanted to buy the protection of the small Jewish community in Iran. The Reagan administration’s sale of weapons to Iran was via Israel (the Iran-Contra scandal).
What do I think about all this? Well, I simply don’t care. As I said before, if the US and the rest of the Western world supported dictators in the Middle East within the cold war context, I believe they don’t have this option anymore in our post 911 world. As I said before, Bush was born on September 11, 2001.
Just like bacteria in stagnant water, terrorism feeds on the frustration felt by many in the Muslim world. Creating a decent functioning state in the midst of the Middle East will render a severe blow to the terrorists’ “food store”.
This is the reason why Iraq is so crucial. I don’t believe the US past relationship with Saddam will affect the democratization of Iraq because the vast majority of Iraqis are looking forward and not backward. We, the Arab people, are busy cursing America and calling Saddam’s trial court as “illegitimate”, but we’re also secretly watching Iraq from under our eye glasses. Let’s pray Iraq becomes much better than all of us. If Iraq succeeded, the US will succeed.
N.B I will break up a little bit from world affairs and concentrate the upcoming one or two posts on Egypt in general.
Tuesday, July 13, 2004
My Internet Adventures
I have a cheeky way to know what people around the world really think about something. I enter Yahoo chat rooms using a female name and I instantaneously get bombarded with private messages from guys who want to meet a pretty girl online. After introducing myself to my prey, I smoothly shift the conversation to where I want it to be in order to get a reflex reply from him. I admit I sometimes feel guilty for doing such a thing, but I just can’t help it, my curiosity always overpowers me and drives me to these various chat rooms.
I once pretended to be an Iraqi girl who works as a translator with the US forces. She helps in translating training instructions for female soldiers in the new Iraqi army. This girl is not from my imagination, I read about her long time ago. Equipped with the few Iraqi slang words I know, I entered the Arab chat room and introduced my fake name and occupation. These were some of the reactions I got:
“What? Did they rape you?”
“How dare you work with the occupation? Aren’t you ashamed?”
“Are you Muslim?”
“You’re a pretty girl. They will rape you. I heard that they rape Iraqi women on the street.”
I left the Arab chat room and entered an Iranian one. These were a number of the replies I got after informing them of my exciting job:
“Really, that’s cool”
“I like America” These words came from an Iranian Turk who hates the Persians and wants America to invade his country so that Turks would get their rights in Iran!
I won’t comment on the Arab replies because I’m sure you all know why I got them. But what made the Iranian youth who frequent those chat rooms react in such a different way than their Arab counterparts? Isn’t Iran supposed to be one of America’s enemies? Didn’t these kids chant “death to America” every morning in their school lines? Didn’t they sing the song that their religious rulers invented which includes a verse saying “the blood of Iran’s youth is dripping from America’s nails?” Why did I get such reactions? Why were they the only Muslims who voluntarily held vigils after 911?
The answer to all the above questions is very simple: America is just against their theocratic dictators. They are friends for free. America doesn’t have to pay anything to earn their friendship; she just has to continue to press for their freedom. How? By doing Iraq right. Buy Iraq, get Iran free.