Saturday, December 30, 2006
The answer to this question really depends on who you are.
Saddam was executed by Iraqis. He got what he deserved. He paid for the crimes committed against Iraqis and Shias in particular.
Saddam was executed by Iraqis. He got what he deserved. He paid for the crimes committed against Iraqis and Kurds in particular.
The Shias executed Saddam. No matter what we think about his reign, his removal removed us from Iraq.
Saddam was executed by Iraqis. That was the best Eid gift ever.
All other Arabs and Muslims:
The Americans executed Saddam and they've done so during the first day of the Muslim feast to humiliate us and show our leaders what awaits them if they stood against the US.
The Big Pharaoh:
I don't give a hoot about who executed Saddam nor about Saddam himself. Tomorrow a Sunni suicide bomber will slam his explosives laden vehicle in a group of Shias killing 60 or 70 of them. The next day, 10 Shias will kidnap 20 Sunnis, beat them, drill holes in their knees, and then shot them execution style. After all this, can someone please tell me why I should care about Saddam?
Friday, December 29, 2006
Yesterday I was one of the guests interviewed on the BBC's World Have Your Say program. I went to the station's Cairo bureau. That was the first time I've been to a radio station.
The program was quite interesting. The topic was Islam and why it has been the center of topics most talked about in 2006. There were guests from London, Saudi Arabia, India, the US, and Benin.
I didn't talk much due to the number of guests on the show. However, I really enjoyed every bit of it. I managed to divert the discussion from America America America America America America America to the fact that Muslims should start looking in the mirror because looking in the mirror is what makes nations march forward. The guests then started discussing the crucial issue of reformation in Islam. You know the kind of stuff Martin Luther and the Jewish reformist rabbis discussed.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
It's Christmas and I don't even feel it. El Adha feast is coming up and I won't feel it as well. My company wants to increase its sales during the holiday seasons and that means me have to work work work even tomorrow December 25th and during the Eid el Adha (feast of sacrifice). My catholic colleagues are taking tomorrow off though.
I am very tired. The work pressure and load are killing me and I pray this cursed month of December will just go away.
Merry Christmas to all Christians and happy Eid el Adha to all Muslims.
Friday, December 22, 2006
For the third time in a row I find ideas expressed on this blog in New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman's columns. Does Tom read this blog? Quite possible. Is it a mere coincidence? Quite possible too.
Well, I do like Tom Friedman's writings even if I don't agree with everything he writes. I find his style pretty close to mine. Both of us add a "humorous twist", a wit, in our serious political columns.
Anyway, in my December 8 post I asked Tom this question: how could someone who lived through the Lebanese civil war and wrote a book describing the prevalent tribalism in the Middle East end up believing Iraq would be a beacon of democracy once its iron fist (i.e Saddam) is removed? "How could you fail to predict Iraq would end up like Lebanon," I asked him.
It seems Tom either read my post or realized his dilemma on his own. His latest column reads (and btw TimesSelect, I get any column I want for free..die TimesSelect diiieeeee):
For a long time, I let my hopes for a decent outcome in Iraq triumph over what I had learned reporting from Lebanon during its civil war. Those hopes vanished last summer. So, I’d like to offer President Bush my updated rules of Middle East reporting, which also apply to diplomacy, in hopes they’ll help him figure out what to do next in Iraq.
Rule 8: Civil wars in the Arab world are rarely about ideas – like liberalism vs. communism. They are about which tribe (Sunni vs Shia, Muslim vs Christian, Arab vs Kurd, Arab Muslim vs African Muslim, Arab vs berber, secular fascist vs religious fascist, etc – emphasis added by BP) gets to rule. So, yes, Iraq is having a civil war as we once did. But there is no Abe Lincoln in this war. It’s the South vs. the South.
Rule 9: In Middle East tribal politics there is rarely a happy medium. When one side is weak, it will tell you, “I’m weak, how can I compromise?” And when it’s strong, it will tell you, “I’m strong, why should I compromise?”
Rule 10: Mideast civil wars end in one of three ways: a) like the U.S. civil war, with one side vanquishing the other; b) like the Cyprus civil war, with a hard partition and a wall dividing the parties; or c) like the Lebanon civil war, with a soft partition under an iron fist (Syria) that keeps everyone in line. Saddam used to be the iron fist in Iraq. Now it is us. If we don’t want to play that role, Iraq’s civil war will end with A or B.
Rule 14: The Lebanese historian Kamal Salibi had it right: “Great powers should never get involved in the politics of small tribes.”
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
I found this beautiful clip (h/t Abu Kais). People from around the world say their nationality and when it came to the Lebanese a man said he was Sunni, another Druze, another Shia, and a young lady said she was Maronite. At the end the caption reads: when will we become Lebanese? The ad aims at fighting sectarianism in Lebanon.
Actually, Lebanon has come a long way. I consider Lebanon to be a success story. Look at the anti-Syria March 14 camp. It's a unique blend of the vast majority of Sunnis, Druze, and Christians. Two of the most prominent March 14 leaders are the Christian Samir Geagea and the Druze Walid Jumblatt. Both men's followers butchered each other during the civil war. The Christian-Druze war was so vicious, it drove thousands out of their villages. Yet look at them today, allies in the same cause. And who can forget the picture of the veiled Sunni girl carrying the poster of Samir Geagea? That was unthinkable 15 years ago.
Lebanon's only problem is Hezbollah, the cancer that still wants to retain weapons and pledges allegiance to foreign states like Iran and Syria. Hezbollah is the evil entity that might push Lebanon into a Sunni vs Shia conflict. I predict a very bright future for Lebanon if this cancer ceased to exist.
So, apart from Hezbollah, I think Lebanon has marched long miles towards national reconciliation, the Cedar Revolution is the proof. This small country is the daughter of a civil war and many nations got born out of civil wars and other bloody conflicts. America is a good example.
I predict the same for Iraq. This nation might not be born unless it passes through a civil war. I mean why would it be different than the USA or Lebanon. However, Iraq will be much messier than Lebanon. In the former, we had mainly politics and selfish political ambitions. In the latter, we have suicide bombers, car bombers, head chopers, qaedas, sadrs, irans, religions, and other nasty bloody stuff.
Muhammed Abdul Bari, head of the British Muslim Council, invoked Hitler's Nazi regime while attacking the British government over its treatment of Muslims.
Ummmm, interesting. Well, allow me to have a word with Mr. Bari.
Mr. Bari, Jews did everything they can to flee Germany when stuff such as this
was happening to them.
Why are you still in the UK??? Flee Mr. Bari. Flee before you get thrown in a concentration camp.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Imagine you went to Wall Street to buy a number of stocks. You bought a few shares in a certain bank. When you arrived home, you received a phone call from a Wall Street official informing you that the stocks you bought were nullified because you're a Jew or a Muslim or whatever. You ask the official what does your religion has to do with the stocks you bought. "The bank rules state that only Christians can purchase its stocks," the official answers.
The above might never happen in Wall Street, but here, where modern civilized inventions such as the stock market get coupled with medieval principles, anything can happen. That's exactly what happened to a group of Egyptian Christian investors who bought shares in Faisal Islamic Bank. The Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchange canceled their stocks because the bank allows only Muslim to purchase its stocks.
Now, we have four disasters here. One, we have a bank that have a rule which only accepts investors from a particular religion. Two, we have a stock market that accepts such a rule and thus segregate investors according to their religion. Three, we have people (several comments on Al Arabiya website), in fact many people, who support what the stock market did on the basis of why Christians might want to buy shares in an Islamic bank.
Luckily, MP Anwar Esmat Sadat asked for the summation of the prime minister and the minister of investment in order to discuss this case. Also, government officials asked a group of councilors to conduct a study on the legality of the Faisal Islamic Bank's "only Muslims" rule. Does it really need a study?!
The stock market cancels the transaction of stock buyers because of their faith! God please help me. Don't just help me but save me as well.
Last week I was buying some stuff from the supermarket near my house. I passed by the book stand and my eyes fell on an array of newly published books on Shiism and Shia Muslims. "Who are the Shia?" asked the title of a book. "The Beliefs of Shias," read the title of another book.
There has been an increasing interest in Shias and their religion ever since the war in Iraq and Lebanon. Shias have become daily news. This interest has raised both curiosity and threat. The average Sunni Egyptian is curious to know what those who took over Iraq believe in, he wants to know more about the sect of the man who managed to send rockets to major Israeli cities, something Gamal Abdul Nasser and Yasser Arafat were not able to do.
Besides curiosity, some people feel threatened. Youssef Qaradawi, one of the world's most prominent Sunni religious figures, surprised everyone by the unusual words he said about Hassan Nasrallah. Even these books in the supermarket do not paint a positive picture of Shias and their beliefs.
Two major events brought the Shia genie out of the bottle. The first was in 1979 when an old Iranian Shia cleric (who asked Oriana Fallaci who Mozart and Beethoven were) managed to overthrow one of the most powerful regimes in the Middle East. The entire Arab Sunni world, the West, and the Soviets worked on keeping this genie engulfed within Iran's borders by supporting Saddam Hussein during the Iraq-Iran war. The genie slipped through though, jumped over Iraq, and landed on the friendly land of Syria. It got leaked to Lebanon during the civil war and the genie mutilated into Hezbollah.
In spite of this leak though, the genie mostly remained inside Iran until Saddam Hussein was removed in 2003. Now the genie's biggest foe was no longer there. Iran gained considerable influence over one of the most strategic countries in the Middle East, its Palestinian friends won the Palestinian elections, and its arm in Lebanon is now trying to pull down the Sunni prime minister.
My observation to what might happen in the future is as follows. I truly believe we're on the threshold of a Sunni-Shia clash for a very simple reason: Israel and America are no longer in the equation. The Sunnis of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan are now watching Shias messing up with Sunnis. Let me explain.
Right after the fall of Saddam, Arab Sunnis expected the Shias of Iraq to join their Sunni countrymen in fighting Americans. That didn't happen. Shias welcomed the US invasion and on the contrary of what Arab Sunnis hoped for, the Shias are not killing Americans. They are killing Sunnis. Disappointment number one.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah was Allah on earth, Nasrallah was Allah incarnated simply because he was fighting Israel. Now that duty is slowly fading away from his job description because of the presence of 15,000 foreign troops in his previous fiefdom and the nasty beating he got from the Israelis. And the next time he wants to fight Israel in order to boost his popularity in the Arab world, he'll have to do it on his own because his masters in Tehran won't give him the green light and risk pissing off the countries who form the UNIFIL. As Israel is slowly disappearing from Hezbollah's job list, the Sunnis around Lebanon are watching as he's dropping Israel, just as a dog gives up on a bone it can't reach, and turning towards the country's prime minister who became a symbol of the Sunnis' presence in Lebanon. That's disappointment number two.
While it might take time for the Sunni Arab world to turn against Nasrallah (come on he managed to send rockets to Haifa and Afula!), things are definitely not the same for the Shiite Lebanese leader. I have personally experienced it. First, my Arab nationalist friend who has a portrait of Nasrallah in his room admitted that he changed his mind regarding what he once thought about Hezbollah. And today a colleague I once had a political discussion with told me that I ended up being correct. "Hezbollah did turn against the Lebanese after the war just as you said," he told me.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
OK This is a classic.
A state in Malaysia that is goverened by so-called sharia law has given the green light for discos. However, there won't be any alcohol served and girls have to wear clothes that don't reveal their bellies.
Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat has given the green light for the setting up of discos in the State, as long as Islamic rules – as stipulated by the Pas-led government – are adhered to.
Now, dancing between men and women will also be forbidden. However, another form of dancing will be allowed.
He said he was not opposed to dancing in discos but it must be between members of the same sex.
*rolling on the floor laughting*
Saturday, December 16, 2006
for the light blogging. I'll be back pretty soon. Just been busy with work, work, and more work. 14 days remaining till the end of this month and year. I'm sure many of you are making plans for Christmas. As for me, I'll be in the office on December 31 to look at December sales and see what we've done throughout 2006. January 1, 2007 will be a day off. It has to be a day off because I'll be too drunk to wake up!
Before I go. Some good news from the United Arab Emirates, this tiny Gulf country that houses this miracle called Dubai. They just elected their first woman in the oil rich nation's first national polls. Congratulations Amal Abdullah and thank you Emirati people for making this happen.