Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

>Hamas would kill more if they could

>The intellectual minnows on the left who bleat on about Israel’s ‘disproportionate’ response to Hamas lobbing thousands of rockets into its territory in the hope of killing as many Jews as they can miss an important point.

Hamas would kill more if they could.

Thousands more.

The fact that most of the Hamas rockets do little damage is described by many on the left as nothing more than an annoyance, an inconvenience to be stoically borne by Israel.

In making the statement they demonstrate their understanding that Israel is ‘better than that’; a society that has higher standards than their opponents and therefore should show restraint.

How do we know that Hamas would kill more if they could?

Because they have a long history of suicide bombing attacks inside Israel that resulted in scores of dead Israelis – mostly young people in nightclubs and people on public transport – and always with the goal of inflicting as much death as possible.

There’s a reason why Israel built the Israel-Gaza Strip and Israel-West Bank barriers.

I commented on the idiotic issue of proportionality yesterday but, in fact, for Israel to be truly proportionate they would need to:

  • Fire thousands of randomly targeted rockets into Gaza
  • Send in suicide bombers to blow up as many Gazans as they can
  • Use women and children as human shields against incoming rockets
  • Fire their weapons from schools and hospitals
  • Store ammunition in people’s houses
  • Use ambulances to transport troops
  • Employ a bunch of people to stage photos and fake videos for the world’s press
  • Talk about a two state solution while doing everything they can to avoid ever having to implement one
  • Siphon off hundreds of millions of dollars in donor aid to private bank accounts
  • Spend the rest on weapons

Hamas, and their soulmates on the left in the West, truly are pieces of human excrement.

Let’s hope that Israel has the determination to flush them into the sea.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Middle East, Politics

>Gazans seem to live pretty well for being poor, starving and occupied

January 7, 2009 2 comments

>The question is partly rhetorical but why is it that when the facts are so clearly against them the mainstream media continues to not only allow their networks to be used as vehicles for anti-Israeli propaganda but also blatantly promotes that propaganda themselves?

Why do they still allow their guests and analysts to talk about the so-called ‘occupied territories’ when those territories have not been ‘occupied’ since 2005?

Why do they continue with the myth that the people of Gaza are no better off than starving Ethiopians?

Check this short video out to see how dire things are for Gazans.

The issue of proportionality is another staple of media talking heads’ ‘analysis’.

Isn’t it shocking that big, bad Israel has such a powerful defence force and ability to inflict destruction with its arsenal?

Critics point to the 14:1 ratio of Palestinians killed to Israelis killed, as if that somehow is relevant.

What do they want Israel to do to be proportionate?

Throw stones?

Take the guidance systems off their missiles so they end up landing in random places?

Proportionality has an accepted definition under the Geneva Conventions and is summarised as not using any more force than necessary in order to achieve your military objectives.

i.e. If Israel wanted to take out a rocket manufacturing facility in Gaza then it’s not allowed to carpet bomb, or nuke, the whole place. It’s only allowed to use such force as is necessary to destroy the factory.

If you’re sitting at home one night, are disturbed by a loud banging on the door and look out to see a madman with an axe trying to break in then should you grab your axe or your gun?

Using the gun is disproportionate but it achieves your objective of stopping the threat.

Such is the situation facing Israel.

The media is keen to promote the views of nearly anyone who accuses Israel of war crimes but doesn’t apply that same standard to Hamas or Hezbollah.

Placing military facilities among civilian populations is a war crime.

Using schools and hospitals to launch rockets is a war crime.

Transporting troops in ambulances is a war crime.

That the United Nations tolerates Hamas using its schools and ambulances for military purposes shows clearly which side that organisation supports.

No surprise there, though.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Middle East

>Iran opposes peace talks in Middle East

May 24, 2008 1 comment

>Here’s something that has been widely unreported by the mainstream media – Israel and Syria are in peace talks.

Whether anything comes from the talks, which are being held in Turkey, is the big question. Syria wants the Golan Heights back, which it lost in the 1967 war, and Israel doesn’t want to give the territory away, as it provides Syria and its proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, greater ability to attack Israel.

Iran is not pleased with the talks.

Think about that for a bit.

Why would any nation oppose peace talks between two nations?

Does Code Pink support the talks I wonder rhetorically?

Iran has promised Hamas new rockets and more funds, an expression of the Islamic Republic’s displeasure with recent news of renewed Israeli-Syrian peace talks, the London-based newspaper, Asharq Alawsat reported on Sunday.

According to the report, Syria-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, who held a press conference in Teheran with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki Saturday, expressed his concern over statements issued simultaneously by Jerusalem, Damascus and Ankara last Wednesday in which a renewal of talks between Syria and Israel under Turkish mediation was declared.

Mashaal reportedly told his Iranian hosts that despite commitments he was given by Damascus that peace with Israel would not come at the expense of Syria’s ties with Iran, Hizbullah and Hamas, he was still aware of the fact that Syria would have to make some concessions.

He emphasized that he understood that Syria could not sign a peace agreement with Israel, exchange ambassadors, end the state of war and make the Golan Heights demilitarized and at the same time continue to allow Iran to use its territory to transfer weapons to Hizbullah, train Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists and help in the financing of those groups.

An Iranian source told the paper that in light of Mashaal’s fears, Iranian regime officials promised the head of Hamas’s political bureau that Iran would continue supporting Hamas financially, materially and morally, even if Syria would turn its back on the organization for the sake of an agreement with Israel.

According to the source, the Iranians had even elaborated what that support would be: Newer, upgraded rockets and an increase in the budget allotted to Hamas to $150 million in the second half of 2008.

A source in the office of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Mashaal was promised that Iran would supply every support his organization might need, be it weapons, finance, or military training.

Iran’s defense minister also expressed confidence on Sunday that negotiations would not hamper the strong alliance between Teheran and Damascus, the Iranian FARS news agency reported.

Labeling Syria a strategic ally of Iran, Defense Minister Mustafa Mohammed Nejad called on “Islamic states to strengthen their relations in order to defend themselves against the dangers which threaten the region.”

I wonder whether Syria is looking to regain some semblance of respectability after being kicked out of Lebanon (though Hezbollah is gaining in strength there now) and suffering the embarrassment of Israel knocking out its North Korean built nuclear plant.

Certainly, Israel would not be negotiating with Syria “without preconditions”, as those on the left seem so willing to do in the West.

I also wonder what Lee Bollinger and his crew of appeasers at Columbia University think of their Persian Poster Child opposing peace.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Israel, Middle East

>How can a Turk have a better clue about freedom than many in the West?

>One of my favourite columnists, Mustafa Akyol from the Turkish Daily News, has a piece about freedom that can only be written by a non-Westerner.

Her Majesty is the head of a monarchy which has been much more free and democratic than almost all republics in the world

The first time I went abroad, I was 16, and my destination was Britain. My parents had sent me to spend a summer in London, so that I could improve my English and “see the world.” Staying at a warm family house in Richmond, and touring the whole city almost everyday, I had cultivated a beginner’s admiration for Her Majesty’s country. Actually, at first sight, there were few oddities. I could never understand, for example, why their washbasins had two separate taps, through which you either freeze or burn. But the plus side was dominant.

One thing that was particularly curious was the political system of the United Kingdom. It was, as its name made obvious, a monarchy. And it was, undeniably, a very free and enlightened society. Yet my textbooks have always told me that Turkey became “free and enlightened” when we dethroned our own monarch. So, what was the secret of the British?

Freedom and tradition:

As I grew older, and studied more, I realized that what made Britain so different from Turkey was a set of values and ideas that the British believed, but the founders of Turkey ignored. The latter, of course, had their own set of values and ideas, and, interestingly, they were derived mostly from another European power: France. Both the Young Turks and the Kemalists, who have dominated the Turkish political system since the early 20th century to date, were deeply influenced by the French Enlightenment and its deification of human reason. While despising tradition and religion, they have thought that society needs to be reconstructed by “rational” elites. While the British believed in “change within tradition,” the French opted for “change in spite of tradition.” That’s why the British kept their monarchy. The French used the guillotine to get rid of it.

In one of his important works, “The Constitution of Liberty,” one of the great social philosophers of the 20th century, Friedrich A. Hayek, underlined this crucial difference between the “British tradition” and the French Enlightenment. “The political conclusions of the two schools derive from different conceptions of how society works,” Hayek noted. And he added: “British philosophers laid the foundations of a profound and essentially valid theory, while the rationalist school was simply and completely wrong.”

Actually by their fruits we might know them. From the French tradition there arose the authoritarian and assimilationist nation-state, which often found itself at war with its own people. It was no accident that the “Liberté” of the French Revolution was only valid for those who believed in the principles of the new regime. For the British, though, freedom was the gift of God that no man could alienate. The founding fathers of the United States borrowed this idea and formulated one of the most eloquent defenses of freedom: “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The United States was founded as a republic, but it was much more on the British tradition than the French Enlightenment that would form the bases of most other modern republics. Indeed, the French model swept through the world and influenced many nations, including the Turks.

“The sweeping success of the political doctrines that stem from the French tradition,” argues Hayek, “is probably due to their great appeal to human pride and ambition.” Here was a story telling that once you get rid of all traditional beliefs, you will be thrilled, because you, as a human, have an omnipotent reason which is enough to master all fields and solve all problems. You believe you can plan the economy; hence comes the drive for socialism. You believe you can plan the culture; hence comes the passion for cultural revolution.

Yet all such efforts to reshape the society by a group of authoritarian elites not just failed, but also led to horrible disasters. Stalin’s or Mao’s bloody experiments are the most obvious ones, but other nations, including France itself, also suffered from the war between the revolutionary elites and the traditional masses. The former always believed in the need for using sticks to “modernize” the latter. The latter always disliked these self-appointed guardians and resisted the changes they imposed.

Britain and Islam:

Thank God, the “British tradition” stood firm in the face of this authoritarian tide. Today the United Kingdom, and all the Anglo-Saxon countries that have been blessed by its tradition of liberalism, pluralism, and tolerance, presents the best form of modernity to the nations of the world. Especially at a time when the confrontation between radical modernism and radical Islam shakes the globe, the British tradition offers pious Muslims the hope that they will be welcomed, not deplored, by the West for how they worship and live.

There are indeed so many examples of British acceptance of traditional Islam. Women in headscarves, who are second-class citizens in Turkey, are all free and equal in the U.K. Besides attending any school they want, they can even be teachers or members of the police force. The British government is also very respectful to Islamic observance. Last year, Queen Elizabeth II had ordered the opening of a small prayer room in her palace for the few Muslim employees. (The radical Islamists in Britain, who denounce the very country that gives them all such freedoms, must be out of their minds.)

All this background makes me very willing to welcome Her Majesty, who is on an official trip to Turkey these days. I will be carefully listening to her remarks, but even her very presence on the face of the Earth tells a lot. She is the head of a monarchy which has been much more free and democratic than almost all republics in the world. Her Kingdom, in other words, is a testimony to the fact that what really matters for a nation is the moral values it holds, not the “revolutionary principles” it buys.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Culture, Middle East

>Israel 1948 – what really happened

>The recent declassification of documents relating to the British Mandate in Palestine for the period 1920 to 1948 provides a new ability to understand what was going on in the region and the origins of today’s ongoing Israel-Arab conflict.

Efraim Karsh is head of Mediterranean Studies at King’s College, University of London, and the author most recently of Islamic Imperialism: A History. His article demonstrating what really happened in 1948 – as has always been the correct reading of the matter before revisionist historians like Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe arrived on the scene – is mandatory reading for those who want to understand why there are a million ‘Palestinians’ in Gaza and the West Bank. Ilan Pappe is a communist whose accuracy has been shown to be shoddy even by left wingers like Benny Morris. I wonder whether Morris will revise his position in light of the newly available information?

Sixty years after its establishment by an internationally recognized act of self-determination, Israel remains the only state in the world that is subjected to a constant outpouring of the most outlandish conspiracy theories and blood libels; whose policies and actions are obsessively condemned by the international community; and whose right to exist is constantly debated and challenged not only by its Arab enemies but by segments of advanced opinion in the West.

During the past decade or so, the actual elimination of the Jewish state has become a cause célèbre among many of these educated Westerners. The “one-state solution,” as it is called, is a euphemistic formula proposing the replacement of Israel by a state, theoretically comprising the whole of historic Palestine, in which Jews will be reduced to the status of a permanent minority. Only this, it is said, can expiate the “original sin” of Israel’s founding, an act built (in the words of one critic) “on the ruins of Arab Palestine” and achieved through the deliberate and aggressive dispossession of its native population.

This claim of premeditated dispossession and the consequent creation of the longstanding Palestinian “refugee problem” forms, indeed, the central plank in the bill of particulars pressed by Israel’s alleged victims and their Western supporters. It is a charge that has hardly gone undisputed. As early as the mid-1950’s, the eminent American historian J.C. Hurewitz undertook a systematic refutation, and his findings were abundantly confirmed by later generations of scholars and writers. Even Benny Morris, the most influential of Israel’s revisionist “new historians,” and one who went out of his way to establish the case for Israel’s “original sin,” grudgingly stipulated that there was no “design” to displace the Palestinian Arabs.

The recent declassification of millions of documents from the period of the British Mandate (1920-1948) and Israel’s early days, documents untapped by earlier generations of writers and ignored or distorted by the “new historians,” paint a much more definitive picture of the historical record. They reveal that the claim of dispossession is not only completely unfounded but the inverse of the truth. What follows is based on fresh research into these documents, which contain many facts and data hitherto unreported.

Read the whole thing.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Israel, Middle East

>Turkey and its Islamic enemies

April 24, 2008 1 comment

>What’s interesting about the opinion pages of the Turkish Daily News is that they can freely give their opinion and criticise the government without the fear of coming to physical harm.

the always interesting Mustafa Akyol in which he reveals to those unaware of the country that Turkey is a robust nation with opposing views with a strong desire to maintain its secular government structure.

WASHINGTON – Every country has its own towering figures of intellect, and as a nation torn between several conflicting political philosophies, Turkey has quite many of them. There are prominent liberals, conservatives, socialist, or nationalists. Even the official ideology, i.e., Kemalism, has distinguished supporters, and quite a few of those figures would be as erudite and sophisticated as the eminent law professor, the 79-year-old Mümtaz Soysal.

Prof. Soysal’s life is a real success story. Born in Zonguldak, a small town on the Black Sea coast, he studied law first in Ankara and then in high up Western universities such as London School of Economics, Berkeley and Princeton. In 1961, he became one of the architects of the then new constitution, which was prepared under the auspices of the generals who had launched a military coup a year ago. In the ‘90s, he joined politics on the center-left Social Democratic People’s Party’s ticket, and, for a brief period in 1994, he served as foreign minister. Over the years, he emerged as one of the leading defenders of what some call “left-wing Kemalism” and came to the fore by his resistance to privatization of state companies and other steps that center-right governments have taken to liberalize the Turkish economy. Currently Prof. Soysal is the leader of the Independent Republican Party, whose big issue is to promote a “fully independent” Turkey, which will move on with the original Kemalist project without being distracted by the global forces of economy and politics.

Notes from a Jacobin heart:

I had the privilege of speaking at the same panel with Prof. Soysal a week ago at the Brookings Institution in the U.S. capital, and thus had the chance to get a grasp of his “Jacobin heart,” as he called it. It was interesting and revealing.

Jacobins were, of course, the leading and the most radical party of the French Revolution. Yet more recently their name has become a household term in Turkey in order to define the political cadres and intellectuals who believe in authoritarian ways to “modernize” the nation. It is actually the conservatives or the liberals who call these autocrats “Jacobin,” while they prefer to define themselves as “Kemalist” or “Atatürkist.” Prof. Soysal was, however, apparently unreserved about the imported term.

The crust of his argument was that the Turkish Republic had an “enemy” from the very beginning, and thus a “war” was inevitable. He was also quite frank about the identity of this enemy: The religion of Islam, which “has insisted on its claim to influence this world, as well as the next.” Had Islam undergone a “reform,” Prof. Soysal added, there would not be any problem. It would be a religion with only spiritual claims, and thus would not interfere with the works of the Republic.

The insistence of Turkey’s conservative Muslims to assert their faith in “this world” was, according to Mümtaz Soysal, the root of the problem – and the Republic had all the right to fight against this “enemy.” The headscarf, a symbol of religious observance, was the most visible symbol of this religion-that-defies-limits, and Turkey’s incumbent Justice and Development Party (AKP), by trying to set the headscarf free in the public square, had gone too far. “It is only natural that the Republic will protect itself from threats,” Prof. Soysal confidently reminded. “If AKP is a threat, it will be closed down.”

A war with the people?:

Another way of putting Prof. Soysal’s argument is that the threat to the Turkish Republic is about a half of the Turkish people. That is roughly the political support that the AKP has. Moreover, if we recall the public polls which show that about 80 percent of society believes that headscarves should be free in universities, the “enemies” of the Republic will amount to four out of every five citizens – most of whom are, ironically enough, taxpayers who finance this interesting political system.

Here lies the fundamental dilemma of the Turkish Republic. On one hand, it calls itself “democratic,” which implies a rule by the people. On the other hand, it is at war with its own people. That’s why the Ankara establishment has actually no sympathy for real democracy, and it would hardly approach it if international dynamics did not force it to do so.

All this might sound a bit odd to foreigners, but it is quite reasonable and justified for Turkish Jacobins. “This is a war that will go on for a very long time,” Prof. Soysal noted at Brookings. “And it is a healthy war.”

I tend to disagree. I rather think that the war between the Turkish Republic and its “internal enemies” – the citizens who doubt the official ideology – has been disastrous enough. It has traumatized many lives and has set us back as a nation. We really need to give peace a chance.

To be able to do that, our Jacobins should reconsider their doctrine, especially with regards to religion. Their demand, that Islam should stop “influencing this world,” is actually ridiculous. Almost all religions, especially the Abrahamic ones, aim at influencing this world, and there is nothing wrong about that. The crucial question is the way this influence will be exercised. By trying to establish a religious tyranny that will impose its truths on people? Or by acting as a civil force that will promote its truths in society by democratic means? The former leads to theocracy, which is a horrible form of dictatorship. But the latter leads to the formation of a dynamic and open society, in which all creeds and worldviews can exist and compete.

The invisible reform:

Alexis de Tocqueville, a remarkable French thinker that our French-inspired and French wannabe Jacobins hardly know about, once brilliantly explained this constructive role of religion in his masterpiece, “Democracy in America.” Interestingly the democracy in Turkey is following a somewhat similar route, because Turkey’s Islamic communities are growingly in demand of not an Islamic state, but a secular one which, unlike ours, respects religious freedom. They are, not too surprisingly, also in favor of the European Union process.

In other words, Prof. Soysal and his comrades are wrong to expect a formal “reform” which will detach Islam from “this world.” A reform as a social process is already taking place in Turkey, as its devout Muslims integrate into modernity without abandoning their values and practices. “The headscarf catwalk,” is not a token of “the way back to the Middle Ages,” as our secularists suspect. Quite the contrary, it is a sign of a way forward.

Unfortunately the official grand narrative of the Turkish Republic seems to be too rigid to accept that. That’s why even its most brilliant and erudite representatives, such as Prof. Soysal, reject to consider a different point of view. And that’s why the Republic’s war with its own people regrettably goes on.

(Nothing Follows)

Categories: Middle East

>Arab liberals on the situation in Iraq

>From MEMRI comes an article quoting a number of Arab liberals on the situation in Iraq.

It’s ironic that Western liberals – and especially the Democratic Party – disagree with their Middle Eastern ideological counterparts.

In the days preceding the fifth anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom, on April 9, 2008, the Arab liberal e-journal Elaph published a number of articles and interviews with leading Arab liberals on the Iraq war and its aftermath.

The following are excerpts:

Iraqi Journalist ‘Abd Al-Jabbar Al-‘Atabi: Despite It All, April 9 is a National Holiday

In an April 9, 2008 article in Elaph, Iraqi journalist ‘Abd Al-Jabbar Al-‘Atabi wrote: “Here is Baghdad, still smelling the odor of smoke, hearing the sounds of fright, seeing the tongues of flame, and tasting the bitterness of violence. And nonetheless, with our fingers we feel the face of hope – with the voices of the birds who have not left the city and still chirp and grow in number; with the winds that carry the pollen of the palm trees to the orchards to produce fresh dates; with the glimmer of the predawn, whose appearance gladdens the city’s residents and moves their spirit to rebuild and renew what has been destroyed…

“Yesterday – one day before the anniversary of April 9 [2003] – I spent the early morning hours devoting all my attention to what has been and what will be. I jumped up, eager to visit the places, to walk in the streets and on the sidewalks, allowing my gaze to take in what it may. Oddly enough, as I was doing so I found myself reciting a poem by Nazar Qabbani from 1962:

“Baghdad, oh rhythm of anklets and adornments,
“Oh store of lights and fragrances,
“Do not do me wrong, as you see the rebab in my hand.
“The desire is greater than my hand and my rebab.
“Before the sweet meeting you were my beloved,
“And my beloved you will remain after I leave.”

“I walked in the public street and observed the faces of the people I passed by – those sprawled on the sidewalks, selling goods, those who make their livelihood in the souks and the parking lots, and the beggars. I imagined them five years ago. I might not see a great change in their appearance, but there was something written in their facial features that showed that these people have their freedom to deal with things. As one of them said to me, no one comes and scatters their wares, or chases them away, or demands bribes. They come when they will and leave when they will.

“At the start of my journey I stopped by the newspaper seller to ask how he was after five years of change. He said: I will sum up what you ask in a few words. Despite everything that happened and is happening, I feel pride in the fact that the years of dictatorship are gone. There were no worse years than those, when we were afraid of our own shadows and our own children. I won’t claim that the situation now is ideal, but compared to the past, it is much better, without any comparison… Despite the sorrows I find in our present situation, I feel relieved. In the days [of the dictatorship] I didn’t feel optimistic. Now, I am optimistic about what is to come. What is happening now is passing; while it has gone on long, it will end – it could end in the twinkle of an eye.

“The residents of Baghdad, who recall the days from before April 9, 2003 and up to today – 1,727 days and nights, one after the other, together with all that has befallen and befalls their city – profess nothing but fidelity to it, even though it is engulfed in dangers. They reject those who say ‘Baghdad fell,’ and will answer you sternly if you say this, saying ‘it was the regime that fell’…

“I called a friend who lives in Sadr City and asked him how things were under the traffic ban in force now for a week. He said: I feel love, and then laughed, and continued: There are some things I fear, but I do not fear the coming days. People [here] are in a lamentable state and are afraid of evils that may befall them, but they are not despondent. They are awaiting a change for the better.

“Five years of Baghdad’s new life have passed… and there has been much talk of Baghdad. This is because it is not a city like other cities; it is exceptional, as is everything in it…

“You see that people, despite their proud grief, are talking about hope, and optimism, and the happiness to come. Despite the confusion, the anarchy, and the unconceivable occurrences, you hear the words: the breakthrough is at hand. They speak of the democracy that they had misunderstood, and they emphasize that these five years have taught them a lot and enriched their experience. They have come to know the true from the false and to distinguish between the good and the evil. You hear people saying: April 9 is a national holiday, despite the imported terrorism, or that concocted by the former regime, that came in its wake.”

Egyptian Journalist Ashraf Radi: “Progress, Liberty, and Democracy Demand a Price”

Liberal Egyptian journalist and Reuters correspondent in Cairo Ashraf Radi told Elaph: “No one in the Arab world wrote a single word about [Saddam’s] tyrannical crimes, for which he was brought down, whereas the [Arab] pens unceasingly criticize the Iraqi governments that came afterwards… I find no answer to those who willfully ignore the causes behind the violence and the bloody conflicts in Iraq today other than that progress, liberty, and democracy demand a price, and this price must be paid by the current generations, so that the coming generations will not have to pay double.

“There is no doubt but that Operation Iraqi Freedom has many enemies, both within Iraq and in the neighboring countries… There is no future for Iraq without democracy. Those who sacrificed, and continue to sacrifice, are worthy of liberty, and they will never accept any prize less than this…”

Palestinian Liberal Ahmad Abu Matar: Iraq Needs to Learn from Germany and Japan, Which Were Also Under American Occupation

The prominent Palestinian liberal Ahmad Abu Matar, who resides in Oslo, said: “There are some who completely turn a blind eye to the crimes of the Saddam regime, which included the killing, torturing, and ‘disappearance’ of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, of all ethnicities and sects. These people focus on the period after the fall of the regime and place all of the responsibility for the killing and destruction on the American occupation. And there are others who focus exclusively on the crimes of the former regime, skipping over what has gone on in the last five years, as though Iraq has become an oasis of security, liberty, and democracy superior even to Plato’s ideal republic…

“I think that the international coalition forces, under the leadership of the U.S., did a great and important service to the Iraqi people, with all its ethnicities and sects, by bringing down the criminal dictatorial regime. After that, the U.N. declared Iraq an occupied country, and the Iraqi issue, in all its dimensions, became an international one.

“How should the Iraqis deal with this new situation? The objective answer to this question must draw on similar experiences from recent history. Two countries, Japan and Germany, were also placed under American occupation. How did these two countries deal with the new situation, which was entirely analogous with the situation in Iraq? They both considered the occupation an opportunity to reorder their own affairs [and get rid of] all the negative sides and errors that invited this occupation – from rewriting the school curricula in Japan to putting an end to Nazi ideology and practice in Germany. And look how far Germany and Japan have come.

“The ball is now in the Iraqis’ court…”

Khudayr Taher: An Apology to the Valiant American Soldier

In an April 8, 2008 article titled “Apology to the Valiant American Soldier,” Iraqi liberal Khudayr Taher bemoaned the ill treatment the U.S. army received from those it liberated:

“We forsook you and betrayed you – we, whose history is an expression of massacres, conflagrations, and ruin. We killed you, and we killed our dream and aspiration of reaching the sun, the moon, and the stars – [we killed our dream] of availing ourselves of the opportunity to live as true humans, thanks to your presence.

“My dear, brave American soldier, you noble individual who traversed land and sea in order to write the story of Iraqi freedom for the first time in its modern history – you believed, in accordance with logic, self-evident truths, and rational thought, that a people who had been subjected to repression, starvation, and killing would dance for joy, and would thank Allah who sent you to them as a liberating angel. [You believed that] they would strew flowers and break out in songs of joy that would smash the chains of slavery, ignominy, and humiliation.

“Not even a writer of surrealistic [literature] or [theater of] the absurd would have imagined that the Iraqi people would revolt against their liberator and would rush ardently back to a new bondage of a different kind – that of the religious cleric, the tribal sheikh, and the gang leader. It was unthinkable that the people would go against logic, rational thought, and self-evident truths, in a mad rush towards the abyss and total ruin.

“My beloved, brave American soldier, we apologize to you, and we are saddened at our wretched and miserable selves. Since we are a people that slaughters itself, and kills one another, cutting off heads, what can you expect from us other than ingratitude, perfidy, and stabbing you in the back for the benefit of Iranian and Syrian intelligence and Al-Qaeda?…”

Shaker Al-Nabulsi: The War Has Come To Be One Between Liberalism and Fundamentalism

The Jordanian author and researcher Shaker Al-Nabulsi, one of the leading thinkers of the Arab liberal movement, told Elaph: “Despite all the colossal efforts of the Arabs and others to abort and destroy the new ‘Baghdad 2003’ and to strangle the festival of liberty and democracy that was born on the morning of April 9, 2003; and despite the [efforts of] the Arab and Western media to pin all of the crimes committed in Iraq, from the dawn of that day up to now, on the occupation forces that invaded Iraq – none of that can erase the obvious truth.

“The new ‘Baghdad 2003’ has transformed the war between [the Iraq of] the Saddam Hussein era and America into a war between liberalism and fundamentalism, between modernity and reaction, between dictatorship and democracy…

“It is inevitable that every country and every people, after liberation, pass through a stage of corruption, thievery, and lack of security; but this stage will be the womb that begets the stage of modernity, creation, and the new liberal thought. The best examples of this are Japan, [South] Korea, Germany, and Eastern Europe.”

In an earlier article in Elaph, Shaker Al-Nabulsi wrote about the salutary effects that the removal of the Saddam regime has had on the progress of liberalism in the Arab world on the whole:

“This reckoning should have appeared a year or two ago, so that we liberals could see whether we had lost or gained in the past few years, which have been a critical juncture in the path of Arab liberalism.

“There is no doubt but that our senses and perceptions, and the readers’ responses that are published or that we receive by mail, tell us that we are gaining ground, even if the pace of this advance is very slow and not perceptible on a day-to-day basis.

“We are like blossoming flowers whose blossoming is imperceptible. Yet they do blossom – and the evidence is that with the advent of spring they were just buds…

“The best evidence of the advance of Arab liberalism in the past five years is the fact that so many liberal writers have appeared on the stage of the Arab media and have expressed their views on various Arab issues and problems. This is one of the many kindnesses that the new ‘Baghdad 2003’ has bestowed on us.

“This shows that as time passes Arab liberalism is gaining for itself more and more writers and intellectuals…

“[More] evidence for the advance of Arab liberalism over the past five years is the great number of liberal websites that host the writings of liberal authors, and the huge number of reader responses to these articles. None of this existed in the years before ‘Baghdad 2003’.

“True, these numbers cannot compare with the quantity of fundamentalist websites. But we should understand that what is important is not the quantity, but the scope of influence. Most of the fundamentalist websites repeat themselves incessantly, and reiterate the words of dead people and moldy books, whereas the liberal websites try to present something new every day. They are a mirror that reflects reality in all its details and problems.

“Liberal discourse is not an arousing ballad that excites the emotions and intoxicates; and it is not a populist discourse that gratifies the impulses of the masses, rubbing their wounds with [the balsam of] a jealous and deep-seated narcissism. It is [a discourse] addressed first and foremost to a discerning elite, as it is the discerning elite that makes history…

“Nonetheless, the liberal political, religious, cultural, and social discourse has won great and abundant [support] among the masses. Liberal discourse did not come to them; they came to it, despite the fact that the liberals constantly emphasize that they are not singers at a nightclub, dancers at a wedding, or pulpit preachers who enflame the emotions, the instincts, and narcissistic wounds.

“[More] evidence of the advance of Arab liberalism in the past five years is the appearance of many liberals – men and women – in the Arabian desert and the Arab Gulf region. Those who think that this part of the Arab world is the exclusive staging ground of fundamentalists are in error. [In fact,] it may be that the liberals of this region of the Arab world are the most ardent, courageous, and audacious of them all. Anyone who reads the Gulf press today sees that 90% of it has liberal leanings. It and its writers – and they are the majority – proclaim the need for self-criticism, the filtering of tradition, respect for human rights, gender equality, and the freedom to differ…”

Categories: Iraq, Middle East