Welcome to the Middle East Today

The Middle East has traditionally been important for the world economy. The Middle East situation today has an impact on all aspects of life in America and much of the world.

Only by understanding the motivations of the various factions in the Middle East can we hope to understand how to promote peace and national security for Middle Eastern nations, Europe, and the United States.

Oct 27, 2010

The Widows and Orphans of Iraq

The American invasion of Iraq in 2003 has led to the destruction of the Iraqi society, physically, economically, politically and sociologically. All of this was the result of President Bush’s deceptive political policy and the manufacturing of false intelligence reports to use as justification for the invasion of Iraq. Not only should Bush be tried as a war criminal, but so should the majority of the members of the American Congress, who failed to demand valid intelligence reports that Iraq posed a threat to the U.S. Nevertheless many of these members who are under the thumb of lobbyists were pushing for the invasion to start with that will meet their objectives. Among the many negative consequences of the American invasion is the destruction caused to millions of Iraqi families who are paying heavy price at the present because Bush wanted to prove to everyone, especially his father, that he was a tough man. After all, he stated publicly that Saddam Hussein tried to kill his father. It is a cowboy type of mentality. This reckless policy lead to, among other things, the deaths of more than 4,400 American soldiers. Furthermore, there have been many reports published about the Iraqi causalities that exceeded more than 1.2 million people. Also, there are millions of Iraqi widows and millions of orphans.

Recently, the UNESCO issued a critical report about the dangerous living conditions of Iraqi children. The report noted that more than 15 million children have been impacted by the war and are suffering deprivation of many of their basic needs. The report noted that more than 360,000 children are suffering from psychological personal problems. Furthermore, more than 50% of school age children are not attending schools and more than 40% can’t get clean water to drink. In addition, many of these children are put to work to help support their families. It has been stated that due to economic hardship some families resort to selling their children to strangers who smuggle them out of Iraq. The tragedy is that some of these children are used for prostitution. (al-jazeera.net, 10/19/10).

The dilemma of Iraqi children also extends to the period of the 1990s when the U.S. through the U.N. imposed an economic embargo against Iraq which lasted until the U.S. invasion of 2003. According to another UNESCO report, the embargo caused the deaths of more than 500,000 Iraqi children due to shortages of medications for their basic needs. During the Clinton administration, when Secretary of State Albright was asked about the UNESCO report, her response was, “Go and blame Saddam Hussein for it”. The tragic thing is when people die due to American policy, the deceased are viewed as collateral damage in order to implement their policy.

Unfortunately, the Iraqi government is not extending enough assistance to the millions of widows and their children who have lost the heads of their family. The present government of Iraq is driven by corruption and very few get benefits from the sales of Iraqi oil.

Saluting President Jimmy Carter and the Elders group

The Elders, an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who offers their collective influence and experience to support peace building, helped address the major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interested of humanity. The Elders group was formed in 2007 to support worldwide peace-making and challenge injustice. Their recent visit to the Middle East is to help the Israelis and Palestinians reach a peaceful settlement and lift the unjust blockade of Gaza.

The Elders group, which consists of former Irish President Mary Robinson, former President Jimmy Carter, Indian activist Ela Bhatt and Algerian ex-Foreign Minister Lakhdar Brahimi, is on a peace mission in the Middle East. They have visited Syria (10/19/2010) and met with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. The Elders were in Cairo a few days earlier. Also, they held talks with leaders and civil society groups in Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank. The Elders called on Palestinian political factions to unite, while in Damascus, former President Jimmy Carter said that Palestinians are “living in a cage” in Gaza and that the militant Hamas must be included in all major efforts for peace. President Carter made the remarks in the forum of a delegation, “the Elders.” (www.informationclearinghouse.info/article, 10/12/2010)

It is unfortunate that the U.S. government, under the pressure and influence of the Israeli government, has classified Hamas as a terrorist organization and refused to recognize the group as part of the peace negotiations. Hamas won the first free election by a majority vote of the Palestinian people in 2006. Despite the fact that foreign observers supervised the election that took place in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, the U.S. and Israel refused to acknowledge the outcome of that free election. American politicians, as usual, speak from both sides of their mouths. Quite frequently, they advocate democracy and free election, but when the results of an election are not in their favor, they turn their back against the free democratic elections. The American government has been responsible for the creation of the Palestinian tragedy, which has been going on for the last sixty years. The Palestinians have been treated like sub-human creatures by the fascist Israeli government on a daily basis. Former President Carter’s remarks about 1.5 million Palestinians living in a cage has been recognized by many world leaders, including President Obama, who stated publicly that the blockade of Gaza must end. The irony of such a situation is that even President Obama himself does not have the backbone or the courage to stand up to the Israeli government and their supporters in the U.S. Even the Goldstone Report of the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2008 stated that the Israeli army committed war crimes against the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza. More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the invasion and most of the dead were women and children.

Israel has been condemned by many world and legal organizations for its crimes against the Palestinian people. The tragedy is the fact that when the Palestinians resist occupation, which they are entitled to do according to the 1948 Geneva treaty, then they are labeled terrorists. Furthermore, when the Palestinians take their case to the Security Council of the U.N. to complain about the Israeli aggression, the U.S. always uses its veto power and neutralizes any possible outcome from the Security Council. The U.S. has used its veto power at the Security Council more than any other member to protect Israel.

Oct 26, 2010

Wikileaks : The Pentagon Documents

The Wikileaks report revealed Pentagon secret documents about the Iraqi War (2003-2009), reflecting on the number of Iraqi civilian causalities committed by American troops, the Blackwater security forces, and Prime Minister al-Maliki’s special forces. Furthermore, the Wikileaks documents reflect on the U.S. ignoring military torture of Iraqi civilians in prison camps.

The Wikileaks secret document was given to a few leading newspapers in the U.S., Europe and al-jazeera.net.

The U.N. Secretary General called on President Barack Obama to investigate human rights abuses during the Iraqi war. Also, other human rights organizations in Iraq and other countries are calling for an international investigation to see if war crimes were committed in Iraq.

The Wikileaks revealed military documents reflecting that between 2003 and 2009, more than 285,000 Iraqi civilians were killed during the war. According to the document, American air bombardment played a significant role in the civilian casualties.

When the previous Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was asked by the press about the number of Iraqi causalities, his response was “We do not keep record of the number of deaths of Iraqis”. As usual, President George W. Bush and some of his high-ranking administrators were lying to the American public about the Iraqi war. The Wikileaks documents of the civilian causalities in Iraq is very low in comparison to other international studies, which puts the number of Iraqi deaths between 2003 and 2007 at exceeding 1.2 million people.

The Wikileaks secret Pentagon documents revealed that the Blackwater security forces participated in the killing of Iraqi civilians, especially at inspection posts. It was reported that more than 1400 incidences of shootings by the Blackwater security forces took place. In 2007 the Iraqi government ordered the expulsion of Blackwater from Iraq, but the American military authority ignored the order and renewed their contracts. Not a single member of Blackwater security forces was held responsible for the many killings they have committed.

The Wikileaks secret military documents also revealed that the American military authority has ignored the reported human torture of Iraqi detainees in prisons. The documents revealed that more than 180,000 Iraqi people were kept in prisons and most of them were Sunni Muslims. All sorts of torture were used on a daily basis against many of these prisoners that lead to the deaths of some of them and no questions were asked. Several years ago, the torture of prisoners by American soldiers at the Abu Ghraib prison was revealed in pictures by American soldiers. That incident was condemned by many human rights organizations.

The Wikileaks secret document also revealed that the Iraqi Prime Minister N. al-Maliki ordered his secret special forces to kill high-ranking Sunni officials in the army and police force. The American authorities were aware of al-Maliki’s secret killings but they overlooked such violations.

Furthermore, the secret documents also revealed Iranian secret aggression in Iraq by smuggling weapons into Iraqi Shiaa groups. Also, Iranian agents committed assassinations against some of those who were against Iranian interference in Iraqi affairs in order to support Shiaa groups.

The invasion of Iraq by President Bush should be investigated to set the record straight. The ex-president should be held responsible for the war crimes committed in Iraq. He started an unnecessary war that lead to the killing of many innocent people on both sides. If the Iraqi civilian causalities are viewed as collateral damage, what about the more than 4,440 American soldiers who have died in vain? Vincent Burgliosi, in his book, “The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder”, says that Bush should be prosecuted for the killing of American soldiers who have died in the unjust Iraqi war, as well as for the war crimes committed against Iraqi civilians.

Oct 23, 2010

International Food Day – One Billion People are Hungry

FAO, the United Agency, stated in its 30th annual meeting (10/16/10) that there are around one billion people worldwide who are hungry and do not have enough food to eat on a regular basis. Most of those who face hunger are in Asia and Africa. The FAO’s report revealed that the main reasons behind the spread of hunger are attributed to global climate changes, lack of financial investment in agricultural development and the increase in poverty. The FAO meeting called on world leaders to increase their investment in food production and help the more than one billion people who experience hunger on a daily basis.

In previous posts, references were made to the fact that none of the 22 Arab states could be classified as food sufficient. All rely on food imports to meet their basic food needs. Even Sudan, which was classified as having the potential to be the bread basket of the Middle East and Africa, has been listed by FAO as among the 25 countries who are experiencing hunger. The reasons behind this are attributed to the incompetence of the Sudanese government, the lack of experts in agricultural development, the lack of financial investment and the poor infrastructure in the country as a whole.

Sudan possesses a high percentage of good agricultural land and plenty of available water for cultivation. Unfortunately, Sudan’s incompetent political leadership and the civil conflicts in Darfur and southern Sudan have been a distraction from economic development. Furthermore, foreign interference in Sudan has also created many problems for Sudan.

Recently, the World Bank warned Egypt and Morocco, who are the biggest wheat importers in the Middle East, of the continuous increase of wheat prices. Such increases will add further financial burden on the cost of food imports.

International experts also warned Egypt that the shortages of water will impact food production. This also should be viewed in light of the continuous population growth. At the present, Egypt imports half of its wheat from abroad, which is nearly 7 million metric tons per year. Also, Egypt imports 40% of its meat. The prices of food continue to increase and the majority of Egyptians can’t afford to buy meat.

According to Egyptian experts, the shortage of food production is also attributed to government’s poor management of water and the agricultural sector, as well as poor investment in the development and growth of food production (www.almasry-alyoum.com, 10/16/10). Furthermore, the FAO also stated that Yemen is listed among the countries that have been experiencing shortages of food. The report noted one person out of three experience hunger on a continuous basis. This reflects that one-third of the Yemeni population (7.2 million people) are experiencing hunger (www.aljazeera.net, 10/16/10). What also adds to the Yemeni hardship is the shortage of water and the civil wars that have been going on for several years.

Oct 21, 2010

The Iranian President’s Visit to Lebanon

The recent visit of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Lebanon has created tensions among some Arab states and created an ill feeling in the White House and the state of Israel.

First of all, Ahmadinejad was invited by the Lebanese head of state Mr. M. Suliman, and he received an impressive welcome by the majority of the Lebanese people. The Iranian president visited southern Lebanon, where Israeli bombardment caused extensive physical and human damages. Iran helped Lebanon financially to repair the damage caused during the Israeli invasion in 2006. At the time, President Bush was the power behind the Israeli attack of Lebanon. The irony is the fact that many American politicians have failed to learn a lesson from their previous mistakes. As a result of that, the image of the U.S. in the Middle East in general and the Arab world in particular has dropped to the lowest level since World War II.

Second, some of the Arab states, in particular, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, were not happy about the visit of the Iranian president to Lebanon. The leadership of both states are puppets for the U.S. government, which is under Israel’s thumb. Regardless, the U.S. government policy in the Arab world is usually implemented by the political leaderships that have failed to learn from previous experiences. American foreign policy in the Arab world has been nothing but a disaster since the end of World War II. Furthermore, American foreign policy in the Middle East is shaped and influenced by the Israeli government. The U.S. and Israel’s governments have launched a campaign against Iran to prevent it from achieving its nuclear development program. Second, the Iranian, as well as the Turkish government has taken a stand in support of the Palestinians, unlike the majority of the Arab states. Such a policy did not sit well with the U.S. government, which is under the illusion that Western colonialism is their best approach to dominate the region.

The Iranian president’s visit to Lebanon threatens and weakens American influence in Lebanon. Also, it boosts the power and influence of Hezbollah, who is enemy number one to Israel. The Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported that, “Israel had asked the United States, France and the United Nations to pass on the message that it viewed Mr. Ahmadinejad’s planned visit to southern Lebanon as a provocation” (New York Times, 10/14/2010). Since the Iranian president was officially invited by the Lebanese president, Israel’s objections to that visit reflect its military arrogance. Furthermore, Hezbollah’s hostility against Israel is attributed to Israeli occupation of part of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah has stated publicly that they will continue to resist Israeli occupation until Israel leaves Lebanon.

The Western powers have, for hundreds of years, been applying the concept of “divide and conquer”. As an example, the Sunni vs. Shi’a conflict has been cultivated and encouraged by Western powers and their puppet regimes in the Middle East. When Iran extended its help to Lebanon or to the Palestinians, it is referred to as an Iranian extension of Shi’a religious influences on the Arab world. This was well played, especially in Lebanon, whose political structure is based on sectarianism. The Lebanese Shi’a are the largest group in the country, but they don’t have equal representation in terms of their population size.

Another factor that also enhanced Iran’s influence in some Arab states, in particular, Lebanon and Iraq, is the absence of Arab political leadership in the region. Since President Saddat signed a peace treaty with Israel (1970s), Egypt’s influential role in the region began to shrink, especially in the Arab world. Saddat was under the illusion of President Jimmy Carter’s promises to help Egypt build its economy. Such promises never materialized. Another factor that also contributed to the political vacuum in the Arab world is the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in the 1990s. This led to the U.S. Gulf invasion in 1991. That invasion also received the support of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Furthermore, the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 dealt a blow to the Arab world. That invasion took place under an American policy of deception, which left Iraq in ruin. The American invasion put Iraq on a silver platter that was handed to Iran. President Bush should be prosecuted for this mistake. Another winner in the invasion of Iraq is Israel. Bush publicly stated that the invasion made Israel safer.

One disaster after another in the Arab world illuminated its political influence at both the regional and global levels.

Oct 16, 2010

The Arab League vs. the European Common Market

Recently, the heads of Arab states met in Surt, Libya (10/9/2010), to discuss an urgent agenda by the Arab League concerning problems in some Arab states. The discussion focused on Sudan and its southern problems, the Lebanese sectarian conflicts, the collapse of the Palestinian-Israeli peace discussions and other issues pertinent to the Arab League Charter. AS usual, the meeting reflected the usual rituals that have taken place for the last sixty years. All such activities by the Arab League and the political leadership of the Arab world is nothing but the usual ritual to deceive the Arab population and give them the impression that the political leadership is aware and concerned about what is going on in the region.

In reality, the Arab League in particular and the political leadership of the Arab world have been practicing a dangerous demagogue that led them nowhere. A political paralysis has been set since the creation of the Arab League, due to, among other things, the lack of professional experts to push for and implement some of the decisions that were agreed upon by the political leadership of the Arab world. For example certain agreements in the area of Arab economic market, defense, employment, education, and water and food security are among the issues that were dealt with during the past six decades. However, not a single significant issue was fully implemented. Let me use one example as a reference for the benefit of the readers: “free trade among the Arab states.” As of 2009, only 5% of all trades took place among Arab states and 95% with non-Arab states. The implementation of an Arab Common Market will create more investments at the regional level and create jobs for the many millions of unemployed young Arabs, including many college graduates. The ignorant Arab politicians are not aware of the fact that the unemployed, especially college graduates, are a walking time bomb. It should also be of interest to compare the Arab League, which was created in 1947, to the European Common Market, which emerged in 1957. The European Common Market’s current membership, as of 2010, is 25 member states with a common single economic market and one single currency adopted by 12 of the 25 member states. The European Common Market has created a single European economic region that extends its protection to its members against nonmembers by establishing fence-tariff against nonmembers.

The significant achievement of the European Common Market in various areas was not only limited to the economic field, but also the political sphere where the European Union created a parliament to reflect the equal representation of all members. Because of the language and cultural diversity of the 25 member states, they agreed that the 25 languages of the member states of the European Union would be officially recognized. All policies and decisions made by the institutions of the European Union are translated into all official languages of the member states. Furthermore, citizens of the member states will move freely from state to state and work without restriction. The European Common Market concept has been implemented due to the prevailing democratic institution in these states. The people vote freely and make the final decisions.

The Arab League, which consists of 22 member states whose populations speak the same language (Arabic) and have common cultural backgrounds and history has failed to accomplish and implement the Arab League Charter. They are still on ground zero and this is attributed to the absence of democratic rules. Authoritarian corrupt regimes in the Arab world are the obstacles to meaningful, constructive progress that will enable the region to catch up with the rest of the world.

Oct 12, 2010

The Arab States and their Proposed Nuclear Reactors

The Arab states led by Egypt have been trying to turn the Middle East region into a zone free of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The only state in the region with substantial WMD is Israel. It acquired its nuclear reactor from France and helped build it in 1964. The British and the Americans were also secretly involved in the project. Britain provided Israel with heavy water and Israel stole nuclear fuel from the United States. Israel, as a result, emerged as the nuclear power in the Middle East. The CIA estimated that Israel possesses between 200 and 300 nuclear heads. Israel has refused to open its nuclear facilities for inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and refused to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty( NPT)

Nevertheless, during the past three decades, Israel has been conducting a secretive war to prevent any nation in the region from acquiring or developing nuclear facilities. Israel bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor as well as suspected nuclear facilities in Syria. Furthermore, Israel has been accused of the assassination of Arab and Iranian scientists. For the last few years, Israel has been threatening to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities and has been pressuring the U.S. to do the job for them. The end result of the Israeli threat to Iran remains to be seen.

During the past few years, the U.S. government has been pressuring Egypt and Arab states to stop pushing the IAEA to pass a resolution forcing Israel to open its nuclear facilities for inspection and turn the Middle East into a zone free of WMD. Arabs and their allies’ attempts have been blocked by the U.S., Israel and their Western allies. The Arab proposal at the annual meeting was defeated by five votes: 46 votes against and 41 votes in support of the proposal. Since the creation of the state of Israel, the U.S. government has adopted a one way policy, which is implementing whatever Israel wants politically, economically and militarily without questions asked. This U.S. policy has been confirmed by few members of the American Congress, which I have discussed in previous posts. Evenhanded American foreign policy towards the Arab world has never been practiced by the U.S. government, regardless of who is in the White House. This type of policy has been a threat to the American national interest. Nevertheless, new trends began to develop in the Arab world, such as the development of nuclear reactors for peaceful means (to generate power, which many Arab states need badly).

Unfortunately, due to Israeli pressure on the U.S. government, objections to the development of nuclear reactors began to emerge, first against Jordanian plans (see post 6/19/2010). This is despite the fact that Jordan has signed the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty and publicly announced that the nuclear reactor will be a joint public and private project. This will provide the transparency needed so that the enriched uranium will be used for peaceful objectives.

Fortunately, Jordan recently discovered a rich deposit of raw uranium in 2007 that will facilitate its use to fuel its nuclear reactor, which is under construction. The Jordanian government is negotiating with French and Japanese companies to build the nuclear facilities to enrich the uranium to fuel its reactor. The Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty permits Jordan to enrich its uranium for peaceful purposes. Nevertheless, the U.S. government and Israel objected and began to put obstacles in the way of the Jordanian nuclear project. This was not a surprise, despite the fact that Jordan has signed a peace treaty with Israel. As I stated previously, Israel’s strategy is clear: it focuses on preventing Arab states from acquiring a nuclear strategy so that it can dominate the region.

Nevertheless, the U.S. government continues its pressure on Jordan, as it already has done to other Arab states, requiring them to import the enriched uranium instead of producing it at home. The proposed American-Israeli policy to force Arab states to rely on foreign powers (basically Western ones), will put Arab states under the mercy of the West.

Since the majority of Arab states have announced their plans to develop nuclear reactors for peaceful use, they have a golden opportunity to create an Arab Nuclear Research Consortium and collectively develop their nuclear policy. This collective Arab stand will be the best to stand up to Israel and the U.S. The Arab states have many strong options to use against those who try to prevent them from exercising their legal rights. For example, according to international law, states that have signed the non-proliferation treaty have the right to enrich their own uranium for peaceful use. Jordan, having discovered a large deposit of uranium ore, is trying to build its facilities to enrich uranium to fuel its reactor. They would be able to supply the Arab states with enriched uranium to fuel their own nuclear reactors.

This approach will be very advantageous for Arab states in general and Jordan in particular. The advantages are economical as well as political. The Arabs will not be under the mercy of Western powers such as the United States, which is greatly influenced by the Israeli government and the American Israeli Pubic Affair Committee (AIPAC).

The age of Western colonialism is over and Arab leaders should stand up for their rights.

Oct 8, 2010

A Major Obstacle to the Solution of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Recently (September, 2010), 87 out 100 members of the U.S. Senate sent a letter to President Obama urging him to pressure Mahmoud Abbas, the chair of the Palestinian authority, not to withdraw from the negotiations with Israel. They emphasized in their letters that the Palestinians should not threaten to leave the negotiations that might lead to peace and security for Israel. No reference was made to the fact that Israel should continue the freeze on the construction of settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The Israeli Prime Minister, as of October 3rd, 2010, has refused to extend the freeze on the construction of settlements. This lead the Palestinians to declare publicly their withdrawal from the peace negotiation as long as Israel continues their construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Despite all the efforts that President Obama made to convince Netanyahu to continue the freeze, he was ignored by the Israeli prime minister. Even the major Israeli newspapers noted that the American president made extensive offers in his last letter to Mr. Netanyahu of more sophisticated military equipments to Israel, in addition to written guarantees to protect that safety of Israel, provided the freeze be extended 2 months. The Israeli press even wondered if all these offers to extend the freeze did not convince Netanyahu to do so, then what would it take for him to sign a peace treaty with the Palestinians? The major reason behind the Israeli prime minister dismissing Obama’s offers is attributed to the fact that Israel has successfully put the U.S. Congress under its thumb. During the past year, several letters were signed by members of Congress and sent to the president telling him to stop pressuring Netanyahu, and also accused Obama of being hard on Israel. These members of Congress who are backing the Israeli Zionist ideology of expansionism are not aware that they are ignoring the American national interest and encouraging international terrorism. Those who are aware of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will recognize that it was President Truman who pressured the U.N. to partition Palestine in 1948 into a Jewish and Palestinian state. Even at the time, the majority of the population was Palestinian. Furthermore, since then, the U.S. government has failed to play an evenhanded role between the Palestinians and Israelis. In my judgment, that type of continuous pro-Israeli American foreign policy is a major factor influencing the rise of al-Qaeda and international terrorism. As I mentioned earlier, Obama offered advanced military equipment as well as the promise to protect Israel and use its veto power, as usual, against any proposal against Israel that might be submitted at the Security Council. These generous offers did not convince Netanyahu to extend the settlement construction freeze.

The president has lost his courage and objectivity in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The American Congress has lost its bearings and cannot resist the influence and power of the Israeli-Jewish lobby (AIPAC). The president should address the American public directly to get their support since he has been challenged by his Congress on the issue.

The other alternative is for the Arab states to challenge the U.S. government and demand that the U.N., who created this mess, implement its resolutions and stop the Fascist state of Israel from their continuous human rights violations against the Palestinians. If the U.N. fails to respond, then the oil producng countries in the Arab world should exercise their judgment, as they did in the 19270s, and force a solution to end the conflict.

It is unfortunate to say that Arab political leaders lack the courage to stand up to their rights. Hence, they do not have the ability to stop abuses and bring sanity back to the Arab world.