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.

Nov 30, 2011

The Egyptian Revolution and Inception of Democracy

During the past two days (Nov. 28 – 29), the Egyptian population experienced their first free democratic rights, which they have been deprived of for the last 6 or 7 decades.

It was an interesting experience to observe a huge number of people standing in line, which in many areas stretched for at least one to two km. People waited in an orderly way to get into the designated area to cast their votes.

It was also of interest to notice how calm the people were, even when they had to wait in many places for two to three hours to exercise their democratic rights. In some areas it was even raining.

I saw large numbers of women and men of different ages standing in two different lines with smiles and eager expressions on their faces, ready to fulfill their obligations and to satisfy their political desire for the first time in their lives. The cooperation of the public was amazing to observe. Help was given to the handicapped and to many of those who were too old to get to the voting booths.

I saw large numbers of women carrying their babies, waiting in line to fulfill their obligation. It was reported that at least 70% of the eligible voters (whose numbers may exceed 15 million) have participated in the first stage of the election.

It should be recognized that during the two days of voting, no significant problems were reported to discourage people from voting.

The last two days, Egyptians in general have shown their genuine national character, which the whole world has observed. The international press in general has given excellent reports reflecting on the smooth transitional stage of democracy. The voting proceeded into a smooth and peaceful manner. This reflects a complete and drastic change from previous forged parliamentary elections during previous decades when less than 20% of the public was involved. Such changes, politically and socially, are the result of the sacrifices of the younger Egyptian generation. They should not be forgotten. They have started a new trend in Egypt, where the blanket of fear of the ruling officials no longer is tolerated.

The first stage of voting has also set a pattern for the rest of Egyptians who will also exercise their voting rights during the second and third stages in December and January. Egypt is on its way to create a democratic institution and setting new trends for the rest of the Arab world to follow.

Nov 29, 2011

The Prosecution of George W. Bush

Many speculations were made about the possibility of prosecuting George W. Bush for crimes committed during the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003.

However, nothing materialized to prosecute the previous president and some of his associates, such as Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Minister Donald Rumsfeld. It was reported that President Obama was warned by his Transitional Committee to look forward and not to attempt to investigate the previous president.

In a previous post that focused on this issue, President Obama was warned to not get involved in the investigation of the Iraq war because he might face a rebellion that might remove him from the White House.

Nevertheless, other international organizations have been calling for the prosecution of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld for war crimes during the Iraq War.

On September 11, 2011, Amnesty International issued an official request to the Canadian government to arrest and try George W. Bush during his visit to Canada on October 20th, 2011.

Amnesty International provided the Canadian government with substantial evidence about crimes committed between 2002 and 2009 that were in violation of international law. These crimes were committed by the U.S. in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

According to Susan Lee of Amnesty International, the Canadian government should arrest Bush according to international law, since the U.S. government has failed to assume that responsibility.

Furthermore, if the Canadian government will fail to do that, then it will also be in violation of international law, and nobody should be above the law.

The Canadian government has ignored the request.

Another mock trial was held in Kuala Lambour, Malaysia, on November 19, 2011, by a tribunal of international judicial experts who accused Bush and Tony Blair of committing crimes in Iraq in violation of international law.

Members of the tribunal deliberated over the case and after examining the evidence, they unanimously issued a guilty verdict for Bush and Blair for crimes committed in Iraq. The invasion of Iraq was unlawful according to international law.

The seven members of the international tribunal, which was chaired by former Malaysian federal court judge Abdul Hadir Sulaiman (who presided over the trial) issued this guilty verdict in absentia. They have pointed out that the evidence shows that the drums of war were being beaten before the invasion. The accused, in their own memoirs, have admitted their own intentions to invade Iraq, regardless of international law. (www.readersupportednews.org, 11/21/2011). Since the tribunal court has no power, the verdict was purely symbolic.

It was also reported that the international tribunal is expected to conduct a mock trial for crimes committed by Cheney, Rumsfeld and several other American officials who were involved in the Iraq war.

It is interesting to recognize at least in theory that in the U.S. nobody is above the law. But in reality and practice, the influence of money, which has been used by multinational corporations and their lobbyists in the nation’s capital, has turned many members of Congress to serve that segment of society over the people who elected them. It is regrettable to say that the traditional foundations of American democracy (government by the people, to the people and for the people) is part of the past. Instead, now it is government by the people to the minority and for the minority.

It is of interest to read some remarks that were made by the well-known American film producer Oliver Stone. At a film festival held in Algeria, he stated that, “Americans worship the dollar”. That statement was made in connection to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Mr. stone produced the films “Wall Street” and “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps”. He produces other films, but his main point is that there is no democracy in the U.S., those who are running society and government are multi-national corporations, especially the American military industrial complex and the military establishment. At the present, Mr. Stone is working to produce a ten hour film: “The Untold Story of the U.S.”, which will be shown in May 2012. (www.aljazeera.net, 11/20/2011).

The only hope, as I see it, to save the American democracy is to send politicians to Washington D.C. for one term only. Then they will not be forced to cave under the pressure of lobbyists and their financial contribution to their elections. The problem has gotten even worse since the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the ceiling on the amount of money contributed to politicians. I interpret such a decision by saying, “In the dollar we trust” instead of “In God we trust”.

Nov 27, 2011

The Tunisian Revolution

On October 23, 2011, the Tunisian people exercised their democratic rights and elected their first congress after three decades of authoritarian rule. Nearly 90% of the population voted in the election.

The Islamic Nada political party won 89 seats, which was followed by the Dastour political party with 29 seats and the Takatul Democratic political party with 20 seats. The three major political winners have pulled 147 seats out of the 217 total seats and have agreed to share power and form a collision government.

The Islamic Nahda was given the prime minister position. The Dastour party was given the position of president of Tunisia. The Takatul Democratic party was given the position of the president of congress. The next major step for the newly formed Tunisian government is to arrange for the drafting of a new constitution that will be the second one since Tunisia’s independence in 1956.

The Tunisian revolution experienced some political problems during February 2011, when some of the followers of the previous regime tried to redirect the objective of the revolution but failed to influence its direction. The protestors were aware of the plots that were influenced by followers of the previous regime, but continued their uprising until they eliminated the influence of those who were trying to redirect the goal of the revolution. This ensured their success.

Unfortunately, similar things have been going on in Egypt, which is contributing to a split in that society. The major factor behind the feeling of letdown among the majority of the population is attributed to the negative role that the Egyptian Higher Military Council has been playing. They want to maintain their power despite their denial of that. After all, they are part of the previous regime.

It should be of interest to compare the role that the Tunisian military has played during the revolution and the period that followed until the election took place vis-à-vis the Egyptian military role.

So far, and by any standard, the Tunisian population has played a very constructive role that has led to the success of their revolution. In addition to that, the various organized political parties have played a very constructive role in the political arena that has added to the civility of the Tunisian democratic election process. The Tunisian political elections reflect a very positive model that other Arab states should imitate.

Nov 26, 2011

Manipulation of American National Interest

Last October (2011), President Obama announced that all American troopers in Iraq would be brought back to the U.S. by the end of 2011. This is according to an agreement by George W. Bush before the end of his term (2008).

Prior to President Obama’s withdrawal being announced, a few high-ranking American politicians traveled to Iraq to pressure the Iraqi government to permit a few thousand American troops to remain in Iraq, but the Iraqi government rejected that request.

Nevertheless, President Obama’s decision to withdraw American troops has been criticized by several Republicans in both the Senate and the House. The rationale used is that such a policy will endanger American national interest in the region. The frequent usage by politicians of the American national interest contributed so much to the confusion of the American public. Politicians always fail to mention what they mean by “American national interest”. If they are referring to oil, then they are misleading the American people as usual. Oil is a natural resource that belongs to states that produce it. It is their main and major natural resource to sell in the world market as an economic commodity. The revenue from the sale of oil is very critical to their survival and they can’t drink it. They pay the price which Wall Street’s influence and can get as much oil as they want.

American politicians should not cave to the demands and pressure applied on them by multinational corporations through their lobbyists that do the dirty work for them. These corporations view their own interests from a narrow angle, focusing on what is in it for them and not on how it will affect American national interest.

The U.S., which keeps advocating free enterprise, should also follow the humanistic approach on a global scale and this will ensure their national interest and provide them with free access to the natural resource of many foreign countries worldwide. Therefore, the use of force is not the answer.

Therefore, using vague concepts such as the American national interest to justify military invasion or occupation is nothing but an act of colonialism. Another rationale that was used by some American politicians is that the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq will open the door to the Iranian government dominating or influencing the Iraqi government’s affairs. Even if such rationale is possible, they should have thought of such a possibility before the invasion in 2003. Also, let me remind the naïve American politicians that Iraq under Saddam Hussein fought a proxy war on the behalf of the U.S. for eight years in the 1980s against Iran after they took more than 400 American hostages during the Carter administration. Furthermore, if American politicians were concerned about the dangers of Iran, then why did the American czar of Iraq, P. Brenner, dismantle the Iraqi army after the invasion in 2003?

Let me put it briefly and cleanly that American foreign policy, since the end of World War II, has been a major destabilizing factor in the Middle East in general and the Arab world in particular.

Nevertheless, Obama’s decision to withdraw all of the American troops from Iraq has been supported by the majority of the American people. According to a survey about the withdrawal of American troops that was conducted by CBS in October, three out of four people support President Obama’s decision to withdraw all troops from Iraq. Also, 77% of the respondents said that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a big mistake and was not worth the deaths of more than 4,450 American soldiers, as well as the financial cost, estimated to be around $2.5 – 3 trillion. Furthermore, 41% of the respondents said that even the removal of Saddam Hussein from power was not worth all of that sacrifice paid by the American people. American politicians in general do not have the courage to say that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was influenced by the lobbyists and supporters of both American oil companies and Israel.

It is also of interest to read in the U.S. press that the American troops leaving Iraq will be transferred into various states in the Gulf region. Negotiations have been taking place between the U.S. and Kuwaiti government to station 4,000 American soldiers in Kuwait. If this plan is implemented, the U.S. military forces in Kuwait will reach 20,000. Remember what President Obama said: all soldiers in Iraq will be back home before the end of 2011.

Nov 23, 2011

Second Face of the January 25 Egyptian Revolution

During the past few days (third week of November) the protestors in Tahrir Square have clashed with the Egyptian security forces, which have led to the deaths of more than 30 people and the injuries of more than 650 people. It is regrettable to say that the Egyptian Higher Military council is still using some of the security tactics that used to be followed by the previous regime.

Also, it is unfortunate to say that the Egyptian army, which has supported the 25th of January Revolution that forced Hosni Mubarak to surrender his authority, also led to the investigation and arrest of less than a dozen people from the previous regime.

The Egyptian public began to suspect the sincerity of the Egyptian Higher Military council and their commitment to support the revolution. So far, the Military Council has failed to fulfill the demands of the protestors, which has led to the uprising.

In a previous post, I raised the following question: was the 25th of January uprising was a revolution or did it turn out to be a military coup? In my judgment, the members of the military council were part of the previous regime. Furthermore, the military force has been the ultimate authority in Egypt since 1952 and they are not going to surrender that power to an elected civilian authority. The purpose of the protest movement, which has been taking place for the last eight months, is to send a message to the military council of demands that have not been implemented. For example, some of the demands that the protestors have made clear are: first, the trials of many of the members of the previous regime, including Mubarak, need to be expedited. Second, the judicial system needs to be cleansed of people who were appointed by the previous regime. Third, the emergency law must be removed and suspects must be tried by civilian courts instead of military ones. Fourth, a civilian cabinet must be established that will be responsible for conduction and managing the society business during the transitional period until an elected parliament is completed. Furthermore, the transitional government should be independent and not under the thumb of the military council as has been the case with the cabinet of Isam Sharaf.

The Military Higher Council’s basic responsibility is to secure the borders of Egypt and to support the security police force in maintaining security and orders for the Egyptian population. On this count, the military has failed to perform that task.

The turn of events during the past few days reflects similar scenes of what used to take place between January 25th and Feb. 11th, 2011. For that reason and others, the protestors have been calling on the Military Higher council to surrender their authority to a civilian one.

It is also a surprise to hear the military council issuing an official statement that was aired in the Egyptian mass media in which they have expressed their condolences to the families who have lost loved ones. Also, they have asked the Higher Judicial council to form a committee to investigate what happened in Tahrir Square and those who were responsible for the deaths that took place and to be held responsible for the crimes committed.

Such an official statement by the Military Higher council is nothing but a public relations gesture. The Egyptian people have overthrown the blanket of fear that prevailed during the past six decades. The demands for freedom and a democratic government is the main goal of the protestors and the sooner the Higher Military council reckons with this fact, the better the end result will be for all.

Nov 18, 2011

Syria - Arab League’s Resolution

The Arab Spring Revolution, which began in December 2010, has so far led to the fall of three tyrants in Tunis, Egypt and Libya. Despite the fact that people have been uprising in both Syria and Yemen for more than eight months, both regimes are still waging war on their people and innocent civilians are being killed. I predicted more than five months ago that the revolution would last a long time, but that in the end, the governments of Bashar al-Assad in Syria and A. Saleh in Yemen will collapse. One of the main reasons governments in both countries still resist the pressure from protestors is attributed to the support of the army to both regimes. In Syria, the president’s brother Mahir al-Assad, is the commander of the presidential Republican army, which is the largest and best military equipped with weapons. In addition to that, some other army battalions are commanded by high ranking officers who are members of the Alawite religious groups that Bashar al-Assad is also affiliated with. Those army officers have provided an umbrella of protection to the Syrian regime.

A similar situation exists in Yemen, where President Saleh’s son is the commander of the Republican guards’ regiment, who has been the force behind the president. Regardless of such situations, I have previously stated that it will be a matter of time and more bloodshed before both authoritarian regimes will ultimately collapse.

This trend has already started in Syria, where high-ranking officers began to rebel against their military commanders in protest of the Syrian army’s brutality against their own people. Deserting the army has been a rapidly increasing occurrence. More than a dozen high-ranking officers have deserted their army units and have established a military council to combat the regular Syrian army who has so far killed more than 4,000 protestors.

Furthermore, a few days ago, the Arab League met to discuss the bloodshed in Syria. 19 members of the 23 have voted to suspend Syria’s membership in the organization if they do not stop killing the protestors. The Arab League’s resolution gave Syria four days to stop the killing, to pull army units from public streets in Syrian cities, to release all prisoners that were arrested during the protests and to open Syria’s borders for foreign observers to enter the country as well as a group of observers from the Arab League.

The resolution also stressed the fact that the Syrian government should start negotiating with the opposition group to discuss the transitional authority into a transitional council. It is regrettable to say that the specified period of four days has passed and the Syrian government has ignored the Arab League’s resolution and increased its attack against the protestors. In the meantime, and according to the resolution, the Arab League is expected to impose a political and economic punishment on Syria and will call on all Arab ambassadors to leave Damascus and for the Syrian ambassadors in Arab countries to return back to Syria.

The Arab League Resolution is very strong and the punishment ultimately will lead to the collapse of the Syrian regime. On the other side, the Syrian regime will become more belligerent and my prediction is that ultimately there will be a broad uprising in the Syrian military forces that will bring an end to the Syrian regime.

Some Arab heads of state began calling on Bashar al-Assad to surrender his authority and to facilitate the peaceful transfer of authority to stop the bloodshed that has been taking place during the past eight months.

The Yemeni situation is also bad and the protestors continue to demand the resignation of President Ali Saleh. The irony of this leader is that he continues to say that he will resign in due time, but never keeps his word. The latest statement by President Saleh is that he will surrender his authority during the next 60-90 days, based on the Arab Gulf plan.

It is a very strange cultural phenomenon that has been prevalent in Arab society since independence, that those who assumed power during the past 60 years in all Arab states (with the exception of Lebanon) did not surrender their authority willingly. Either they have died while in office, such as Abdel Nasser, have been killed while in office, such as A. Saddat. Or have been removed as a result of a military coup, as was the case in Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Iraq. The people in the Arab world have not experienced a real democracy so far. I hope that the Arab Spring Revolution, which has removed the blanket of fear, will end up ushering in a new horizon of freedom. This trend has already begun in Tunis and will be a free election in Egypt at the end of November 2011

Nov 17, 2011

Global Weather Changes and Desertification

During the previous two years I have written several posts regarding the global weather changes. The Middle East and North African region have been hit by an extensive drought and an increase in temperature. Such global weather changes began to increase desertification, especially in North Africa and the Middle East, negatively impacting the agriculture sector in the region.

Even before the recent global weather changes, less than one third of the land was suitable for agricultural cultivation and the rest was barren desert. Water resources in the region have been decreasing rapidly. Nearly 18 Arab states have been classified as water poverty stricken. The majority of Arab states depend on rainfall for their cultivation. The two major rivers that flow in a few Arab states (the Nile and the Euphrates) start beyond the boundaries of Arab states. The water flow in both major rivers has begun to decrease, which has already impacted Iraq, Syria and Egypt.

The U.N. declared June 17th, 2011 the International Day to Combat Desertification and Droughts. The U.N. report revealed a grim picture of Egypt and ranked the country as number one in desertification. The report further revealed that Egypt loses 3.5 acres per hour of fertile agricultural lands in the Delta region and along the Nile River as a result of urban expansion. This loss of lands equals more than 30,000 acres per year and at this rate, Egypt’s agricultural lands will totally disappear during the next 160 years if desertification continues.

It should be noted that Egypt’s agricultural lands have already decreased from eight million to six million feddan (acres). Furthermore, nearly 85 million Egyptians are living on only 6% of the total land of Egypt and the rest is barren desert.

The desertification of Egypt’s agricultural lands due to urban expansion should be viewed with keen and serious interest, because Egypt’s future is in danger. First, Egypt is not self sufficient in food production and it relies on imports for its food needs. Egypt imports 42% of food and 60% of its wheat. Secondly, population growth has been a problem for Egypt, despite government efforts to encourage family planning and birth control. Family planning and birth control programs date back to the mid 1930s. Since the 1952 revolution, the Egyptian government has officially declared and supported a family planning and birth control policy. The impact of such an official government policy has not been successful. Third, Egypt adds 1.2 million people to its population per year. This means 1.2 million new mouths to feed. For example, Egypt’s population in January 2000 was around 70 million. By January 2010, the population increased by nearly 14.5 million to reach nearly 84.5 million people. At this rate, Egypt’s projected population size will be 160 million by the year 2050. It should be noted that nearly half the Egyptian population is below the age of 29 years and the median age is 24.3 years. As of 2011, 2.97 children per woman were born in Egypt.

From a demographic point of view, even if each married couple limits themselves to two children, it will take Egypt around 50 years to reach a zero population grown (ZPG), which means that the birth rate will be equal to the death rate which translates into ZPG.

Fourth, according to the U.N. report, nearly 43 % of Egypt’s population lives below the poverty index level, which is $2 per person per day. Fifth, the Egyptian government heavily subsidized basic food needs such as bread, cooking oil and sugar to enable the poor to survive. According to the Census Department the Egyptian government spends 109 Egyptian pounds per year on subsidies (ahram.org 11/18/2011)

Therefore, and in light of the population growth and its impact on the Egyptian economy, the government should wake up and take a serious look at the problem of desertification as a result of urban expansion. Egypt already has a law that prohibits urban expansion on agricultural lands. The tragedy is the fact that, as usual, the public officials are not enforcing the law and no public official is held accountable for such violations. Corruption is the name of the game at all governmental levels.

Furthermore, the fragmentation of agricultural lands, which has been taking place since the 1952 revolution, has contributed directly and indirectly to the desertification. When a person inherits a fraction of a feddan (kerat or two), he can’t use it for cultivation because of its small size. As a result, he sells it or builds on it.

There ought to be a new law pertinent to urban expansion. People should be encouraged to expand their homes vertically and not horizontally. This will provide an alternative to curb urban desertification.

Nov 14, 2011

The Greed of American Oil Companies

A few days ago, Vice President Joe Biden went to Iraq in an unannounced visit. It was reported that he was there to discuss the future political and military security relations between the U.S. and Iraq after the withdrawal of American troops by the end of 2011.

At the same time, it was announced that Exxon Mobil Oil Company signed a contract with the Kurdish government to drill for oil in their region.

The government in Baghdad has issued a warning stating that no contract signed by the Kurdish authority will be honored unless it is approved by the central government.

Exxon Mobil is already involved in the production of 370,000 barrels of oil on a daily basis in al Kurnah Field. The American oil company is also aware of the fact that no contract for oil will be honored unless it is approved by the central government. Why, then, did Exxon Mobil bypass the central government?

Exxon Mobil’s greed does not help its aggressive policy for more control of Iraqi oil. The company is aware of the Iraqi government’s law, which clearly states that contracts signed by the regional government will not be honored by the central government.

The Iraqi central government has prevented oil companies who signed contracts with regional governments from participating in bids elsewhere in Iraq. In 2009, the Iraqi central government signed a contract with Exxon worth $50 billion of investment to develop and increase oil production in southern Iraq.

It was reported that the Iraqi oil minister was outraged about Exxon Mobil’s contract with the Kurdistan regional government without consulting proper central government authority.

I am wondering if the central government will cancel its contract with Exxon Mobil as a result of its violation of Iraqi oil law.

The Iraqi government should do that to set a standard, especially with aggressive American oil companies. What Exxon Mobil has done is increasing the ethnic tensions between Kurdistan’s regional government and the central authority in Baghdad.

Furthermore, I wonder if Vice President Joe Biden’s recent trip to Baghdad and the Kurdistan region is connected with Exxon Mobil, the Kurdistan regional government and the central government in Baghdad.

It seems to me that through their lobbyists, American oil companies exert so much pressure on the U.S. government to do their dirty work for them. After all, the American oil companies have played an influential role in supporting the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The American oil companies have never forgotten the Saddam Hussein nationalizing of all oil companies during the early 1970s.

Iraq is viewed as the richest country in oil reserves, which puts it ahead of Saudi Arabia. As a matter of fact, Vice President Dick Cheney, while in office, pointed out publicly at a conference in Britain that Iraq will be the country that will sell the last barrel of oil.

It also should be stated that Vice President Joe Biden has advocated after the U.S. invasion in 2003 and the partitioning of Iraq into three states: a Kurdish state in the north, a Sunni Muslim state in the center and a Muslim Shiaa state in the south. Mr. Biden’s rationale was that such a plan would lesson the conflict among the three major groups in Iraq.

Foreign interference in Iraqi internal affairs, especially by Britain and the U.S., has been going on for many decades. The strategy of divide and rule has been followed by the West, especially in the Middle East. This policy was and still is a major destabilizing factor in the region, which has created sectarian and ethnic conflicts among various groups, especially in the Arab world. Not a single Arab state has escaped such Western interferences directly and indirectly.

Nov 11, 2011

The Fate of Young Political Activists

The Egyptian Revolution of January 25th 2011 has been recognized worldwide as a model for its peaceful success, which brought down the previous authoritarian regime of Hosni Mubarak.

The young Egyptians not only inspired the uprising but also were the vanguard of the revolution. Their political success has inspired younger generations globally to rise up and challenge their governments, even in democratic societies, demanding political and economic reforms. Such political movements have been going on in many cities, particularly in the U.S., Spain, Italy, Germany, China and India.

It is regrettable to say that the Egyptian Higher Military Council, who played a positive role in protecting the revolution during its first stage of uprising, began to change its original strategy.

Many of the demands set by the protestors were not met. Furthermore, many of the supporters and followers of the previous regimes are still part of the functioning government, especially in the areas of the judicial system, the media both electronic and print and the political security system. Also, the emergency law that was supposed to be lifted is still in use. According to the Egyptian press, more than twelve thousand Egyptians have been arrested and many consists of young political activists who have defied the military power and continue their protests to achieve their goal. However, during the past few weeks, several prominent members of the leadership of the young group who played an active role in the Egyptian uprising have been arrested and are waiting to be tried by an Egyptian military court.

The latest well-known political activist is Alaa Abed il-Fatah, who has been accused by the military security as a criminal who stole weapons from the Egyptian military security and was calling on young Egyptians to attack the military security forces during the Copts’ protest in front of Maspero TV station in Cairo last October 9th. Alaa has denied the accusation and he has been in prison pending further investigation by the Egyptian military court. The Egyptian press has revealed a rumor that Alaa was offered release if he stopped attacking General Tantawi, the head of the Egyptian Higher Military Council, but he refused to do so and said that his supporters will continue the struggle for the liberation of Egyptians from the authoritarian rulers. The Egyptian press reported (11/9/2011) that Alaa’s mother, Dr. Liala Sueif began a hunger strike in protest of the jailing of her son. Another young Egyptian individual has joined the protest with Alaa’s mother to send a message to the Military Council demanding that he be tried in front of a civil court instead of a military one.

The supporters of Alaa marched with his mother to protest in front of the Turah prison and were attacked by a group of hoodlums to disperse their protest. I wonder who sent such hoodlums to do the dirty job for the military.

In the meantime, international press such as the British Guardian newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor, the Washington Post and other newspapers have criticized the Egyptian Military Council for their un-democratic ruling and the suppression of free press and free speech. After all, the Egyptian revolution objectives were not only the removal of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, but also to restore democracy, justice, freedom and free expression. The emergency military law should be abolished and civilian, not military, courts should try suspected violations of the law. Torture of suspects is still taking place in Egyptian prisons. The security officers who killed Khalid Saeed received seven-year jail sentences. Such light sentences encourage some security investigators to continue with their inhumane torture of prisoners. The latest murder case that was reported a few days ago was the death of Issam Atta. Reports revealed that the security found a cellular phone in the possession of Atta and that led to his torture and death. If they are found guilty, those security officers should receive death sentences in order to set a new standard for others. It is regrettable to point out that many indications going on reflect on the changing policy of the Egyptian Higher Military council. The military commands are drifting away from the Egyptian public and want to maintain their authority and control of the Egyptian society. After all, they were part of the previous three regimes from 1952 until January 25th, 2011.

It will be a miracle if the Egyptian Military Council will surrender their authority to a civilian government after the forthcoming election, which is scheduled at the end of November 2011. After all the main objectives of the January 25th Revolution were democracy, justice, equality and freedom of expression. Let us hope that such demands will finally be accomplished without more bloodsh

Nov 5, 2011

The Vanishing of $40 Million in Iraq!

Recently, an inquiry has been reviewed about the disappearance and lack of accountability for the $40 billion Iraqi money that has been referred to as the biggest financial mystery of all time.

After the invasion of Iraq by American troops in 2003, the U.S. Federal Reserve shipped $40 billion in cash of Iraqi frozen money by the Air Force to Baghdad International Airport. The money was supposed to be used for civil and economic restoration after the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s government. During the past few years, investigators in the U.S. and Iraq have failed to trace or even find evidence to account for what happened to that huge sum of money. (readersupportednews.org, 10/27/11). Even congressional hearings and inquiries in Washington and Baghdad have failed to find out what happened to that huge amount of money. It is a very puzzling situation. If the amount that was missing was equivalent to one or a few billion it might be understandable in light of the corruption that was rampant in Iraq even before the invasion and which increased drastically after. In addition, of the greedy and corrupt foreign contractors, many were American and have abused and taken advantage of the absence of control and accountability during the past eight years of fighting in Iraq. Many of these contractors were investigated in the U.S. and some were found guilty. Even some American officers were involved in such corrupt deals.

CNBC has reported that former Congressman Christopher Shays co-chaired the commission on wartime contracting, digging into waste, fraud and abuse in Iraq, has traveled there many times and was unable to find any trace of that huge amount of money. He continued to say “It just blows you away”. (CNBCNews, 10/26/11).

The money was shipped from the U.S. and was designated as “Development Fund For Iraq”. The $40 billion were frozen Iraqi assets as a result of the sanctions imposed on Iraq by the U.S. and the U.N. prior to the Iraqi invasion of 2003.

It should also be made clear that since the American Invasion of Iraq, corruption became a way of life at all governmental and civil levels. This is attributed to a number of factors, but the most important one is the absence of official accountability in various governmental institutions. This led to the rapid deterioration of public services in nearly all economic and physical structures of Iraqi society.

According to an international report on corruption issued in Belgium, Iraqi corruption was referred to as a virus that has contaminated all governmental institutions and has led to the deterioration of Iraq’s economic, political, physical and social institutions.

One of the main factors behind such corruption has been attributed to the fact that government high officials who were responsible for the prevention of corruption were afraid to investigate high government officials due to threats on their lives. It has been reported by the Iraqi press that some journalists and public officials who tried to report on corruption have been killed.

The report also revealed that in various governmental ministries, corruption takes place as part of business contracts where government funds are being abused due to the lack of accountability. The U.S. government ahs bragged that the war removed Saddam Hussein’s authoritarian regime and turned Iraq into a democratic state. It is unfortunate to point out that the new government in Iraq has been created as a result of a free election, and yet is worse than Saddam Hussein’s authoritarian regime. At least prior to the invasion there was stability politically, economically and socially in Iraq, while the present regime in Iraq resembles mafia rule because the election was based on sectarianism which has directly and indirectly fed the conflict between the major Iraqi religions and ethnic groups such as Sunni versus Shiaa, Arabs versus Kurds, Kurds versus Turcoman and Assyrians, and Muslims versus Christians.

For example, during the entire period of Saddam Hussein’s rule, not a single attack against Christian churches took place, while many attacks and bombings of churches have taken place in Iraq since the invasion in 2003. It was reported that half of the Christian population in Iraq has left the country to escape potential threats.

Furthermore, under Saddam Hussein, Iraq was among the most secular states in the Middle East region. Saddam was the number one enemy of bin Laden when he described the regime in Iraq as more dangerous to Islamic militant groups than the U.S.

What did the American invasion of Iraq accomplish? Nothing but destruction, physically, environmentally, politically, economically and socially. Many Iraqis are yearning for the days where Saddam Hussein was in power. People felt secure economically and physically as long as they did not interfere in governmental affairs. At the present, many Iraqis fear even leaving their homes and wonder if they will return home safely at the end of the day.

Nov 3, 2011

The U.S. and the UNESCO

Despite the U.S. government and Israeli pressure and threats, the UNESCO members have voted to admit Palestine as a fully-fledged member of the U.N. organization. 107 members have voted yes, 14 members including the U.S., Israel, Germany and Canada voted no, and 52 members have abstained from voting.

The U.S. government has already declared that it will stop its financial support to UNESCO, which amounts to 20% of its budget, $60 million. The Israeli government also stopped its financial support to the organization, which amounts to 3% of the organization budget. The U.S. congress, which is under the thumb of AIPAC and some Jewish Zionist organizations passed a bill in 1990 preventing the funding of any U.N. organization that admits the Palestinians as full members before an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal is accomplished. Of course, negotiations have been going on for more than 40 years and the Palestinians have rejected Israel dictating the terms for peace. This policy was pursued by the Israelis to give them more time to continue their expansion in the occupied West Bank.

The points that ought to be raised for the benefit of Americans and the public in general are as follows. First, the biggest loser is the U.S. government, who continues to lose influence, not just in the Arab-Islamic world, but worldwide. American society, with more than 310 million people, are under the influence of Jewish Zionist organizations who put Israeli interest ahead of the U.S.’s interest.

Second, the U.S. foreign policy for the last 6 decades has been consistent in its support of the Israeli Zionist state, regardless of the issue. The U.S. representative at the U.N. Security Council has used its veto power more than 75 times – more than any other permanent member – to protect Israel.

Third, this type of American foreign policy has been a major cause referred to by Islamic terrorist groups as a justification to attack the U.S. Some of these organizations have made it clear that the U.S. should play a neutral role in this conflict and not side with Israel against others, especially the Palestinians.

Fourth, the U.S. government has supported the Israeli government, not just politically, but also militarily and financially. The U.S. provided Israel with the most sophisticated armament that was not even given to members of NATO. Furthermore, Israel, since its creation, has received more than $170 billion in economic and military aid.

I would say that generosity should start at home. There are more than 40 million Americans who are classified as “poverty stricken”. The irony of such a policy is that Israeli never put the U.S.’s national interest ahead of its own.

Now, the positive admission of the Palestinians to UNESCO will give them the right to protect their heritage, antiquities, educational system and religious institutions (Islamic and Christian) from destruction by Israel.

For example, to illustrate this point, is the recent Israeli government’s announcement to incorporate Al-Haram Al-Ibrahim “The Ibrahim Mosque” and the Bilal ben Rabah mosque in the occupied West Bank to be listed as part of Jewish heritage antiquities and religious sites. Such an act has already been criticized by UNESCO.

Irene Bukove, the director of UNESCO, stated that these sites are also important for members of the Muslim and Christian community. She stated that Israel should not proceed with this illegal plan. Such an illegal act will contribute more to the instability of the region.

Furthermore, Katherine Ashton, the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the European Common Market pointed out that the Israeli action will create more obstacles towards peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Israel has been following an aggressive policy since its creation in 1948. This is attributed to total U.S. support. It is about time that American national interest should supersedes the Israeli one.