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What do Iraqis want? [May. 11th, 2007|03:30 am]

The situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating because the Afghanistan project was always held hostage to Iraq. The Bush administration after 9-11 used Afghanistan as a casus belli to get to Iraq. And you can see this written in the lackluster way in which the administration embraced the project in Afghanistan.

First, they used the war in Afghanistan as an advertisement for Rumsfeld’s theory of lightning fast, high-tech war. Where there wouldn’t be that many casualties; special forces, air traffic controllers embedded with local forces, bomb people from the sky, then Taliban get scared and run away, and finally you call in the Europeans whose NGOs can rebuild Afghanistan, and the inner American in every Afghan will start to blossom. Then you can quickly move onto Iraq, and that’s what they did.

There are several fundamental reasons why the US went to Iraq.

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what iraqis think [Feb. 23rd, 2007|12:43 pm]

Audio: What Iraqis Think (MP3)

(via: yourcallradio)
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"My Country My Country" tonight on PBS [Oct. 25th, 2006|11:54 am]

My Country My Country will appear tonight on PBS on October 25th, 9pm.

"My Country My Country" opened in theaters last August 4th.

Filmmaker/Director Laura Poitras documents eight months in the life of a sunni Iraqi doctor and his family. Dr. Riyadh, a father of six, is trapped under the chaos and mayhem of the Bush/Blair occupation and attempting to deal with the cynicism and danger of the impending Iraqi elections. Very eye opening. Very humorous, scary, poignant, and very human. Definitely a film worthy of seeing.

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Understanding the Middle East Conflict [Aug. 23rd, 2006|07:05 am]

Israel is having more and more trouble putting down this popular revolution over the Occupied Territories. The repression of the Palestinians and the Lebanese is not qualitatively different right now from what it was 40 years ago -- it's just that it's escalated in scale sincee the Palestinians and the Lebanese started fighting back. For the Palestinians it started during the Intifada. So the brutality you see occasionally on television has in fact been going on for the last 40 years, and it's just the nature of a military occupation: military occupations are harsh and brutal, there is no other kind [Israel seized the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria during the Six Day War in 1967, and has controlled them ever since]. There's been home-destruction, kidnappings, torture, collective punishments, expulsion, plenty of humiliation, censorship -- you'd have do go back to the days of the American South to know what it's been like for the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. They are not supposed to raise their heads -- that's what they say in Israel, "They're raising their heads, we've got to do something about it." And that's the way the Palestinians have been living.

Well, the United States has been quite happy supporting that -- so long as it worked. But in the past few years, it hasn't worked. See, people with power understand exactly one thing: violence. If violence is effective, everything's okay; but if violence loses its effectiveness, then they start worrying and have to try something else. In fact, the occupation's beginning to be rather harmful for Israel. So it's entirely possible that there could be some tactical changes coming with respect to how Israel goes about controlling the Territories.

Outside the United States, everybody knows what the solution for resolving the conflict in the region would be. For years there's been a very broad consensus in the world over the basic framework of a solution in the Middle East, with the exception of two countries: the United States and Israel. It's going to be some variety of two-state settlement.

Look, there are two groups claiming the right of national self-determination in the same territory; they both have a claim, they're competing claims. There are various ways in which such competing claims could be reconciled -- you could do it through a federation, one thing or another -- but given the present state of conflict, it's just going to have to be about the modalities -- should it be a confederation, how do you deal with economic integration, and so on -- but the principle's quite clear: there has to be some settlement that recognizes the right of self-determination of Jews in something like the state of Israel, and the right of self-determination of Palestinians in something like a Palestinian State. And everybody knows where that Palestinian state would be -- in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, along roughly the borders that exsisted before the Six Day War in 1967.

All of this has been obvious for years -- why hasn't it happened? Well, of course Israel's opposed to it. But the main reason it hasn't happened is because the United States has blocked it: the United states has been blocking the peace process in the Middle East for the last twenty years -- WE'RE the leaders of the rejectionist camp, not the Arabs or anybody else. See, the United States supports a policy which Henry Kissinger called "stalemate"; that was his word for it back in 1970. At that time, there was kind of a split in the American government as to whether we should join the broad international consensus on a political settlement, or block a political settlement. And in that internal struggle, the hard-liners prevailed; Kissinger was the main spokesman. The policy that won out was what he called "stalemate": keep things the way they are, maintain the system of Israeli oppression. And there was a good reason for that, it wasn't just out of the blue: having an embattled, militaristic Israel is an important part of how we rule the world.

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Nice Bombs Premiere [Aug. 8th, 2006|01:17 pm]

From an extraordinary director: habibi

2:10 minutes, DV, 2006

3733 N. Southport Ave.
Chicago, IL 60613

ChicagoUnderground Film Festival Opening Night film Nice Bombs with afterparty at Schubas featuring Bobby Conn and the Glass Gypsys and Roommate.

see also: DanceHabibi.com
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Cambodia turns down US military request [Apr. 21st, 2006|12:48 pm]

Cambodia has refused to send troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. A recent request by the US ambassador in Phnom Penh to supply military support personnel has been turned down by Prime Minister Hun Sen. He says Cambodia will not contribute to military operations which are not under the flag of the United Nations and went on to describe the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan as too unsafe for Cambodian troops.
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Rape of Babylon [Apr. 19th, 2006|03:51 pm]

For three long years, U.S. troops have wrecked what little remained of the ancient city of Babylon.

They've built roads over the 5,000-year-old walls, poured a concrete helicopter landing pad over an archaeological site, filled sandbags with "soil rich with precious artifacts" and dug trenches through temples.

At least those sins were done for military reasons. There's no such excuse for the graffiti left by American Marines ("Cruz chillen' in Saddam's spot") or the thousands of precious objects the troops sifted from the sand to take home as souvenirs. Looted cuneiform tablets from Babylonian museums have already shown up on eBay.

This week, the former chief of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq offered the lamest of apologies to Dr. Donny George, Iraq's chief of antiquities. "If it makes him feel good, we can certainly give him one," Coleman told the BBC.

If such a snide apology made Dr. George feel any better, he hasn't mentioned it -- three years of organized looting, pointless destruction and American indifference has not made his job especially easy.

"One day millions of people will visit Babylon," Dr. George told the New York Times this week. "I'm just not sure anybody knows when."

The ham-fisted actions of the occupation forces were never even necessary, because the site of Babylon has been one of the quietest in all of Iraq since the 2003 invasion. The ruins are just outside of Hilla, a mixed city of Shiites and Sunnis who aren't at each other's throats. Here, factories kept operating and schools kept teaching kids.

The U.S. military has finally acknowledged its presence in Hilla and Babylon is neither needed nor wanted. The roughly-treated Babylonian ruins have reportedly been handed over to local security forces.

Now Dr. George and his team of archaeologists are faced with an impossible clean-up job.

"How are we supposed to get rid of the helipad now?" he asked. "With jackhammers? Can you imagine taking a jackhammer to the remains of one of the most important cities in the history of mankind? I mean, come on, this is Babylon."

Bad to Worse

As they have throughout the invasion and occupation, U.S. commanders have brushed off criticism. No matter what kind of extensive damage they did, they can always claim it would've been worse under Saddam Hussein or even more chaotic had the ancient sites not been converted to base camps.

There is no doubt Saddam was bad news for the ancient ruins of Babylon. While he employed expert antiquities teams (including Dr. George) and protected Iraq's most precious treasures in the National Museum, archaeology was ultimately just another part of his propaganda.

Saddam wanted to be seen as the modern version of Nebuchadrezzar the Great, who ruled in the 6th Century B.C.E.

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Hi everyone! [Apr. 7th, 2006|07:16 pm]

So, why I'm here, in this community. I'm a student from Russia, my name is Alexandra. I'm very much interested in Middle East and I'm writing a diplom project about Kurdistan and its role in the international affairs now. If somebody gets interested in it - i'll be glad=))
I live in Moscow, Russia and will be glad to any acquaintances.
Best Regards,
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Iran Freedom Concert Follow-Up [Mar. 22nd, 2006|11:17 am]

We are writing to inform you about the Iran Freedom Concert held this past weekend at Harvard University, and ask for your help in spreading the word about its success.

Co-hosted by students at Harvard University and the Hands Across the Mideast Support Alliance (HAMSA, a project of the American Islamic Congress), the concert aimed to promote the message that "civil rights must be respected by any Iranian government, and freedom must become a reality for all Iranians."

The concert was an outstanding success, and was covered by major news organizations. Click here to read an article by the Boston Globe about the concert. 
To see pictures and video clips of the concert, please click here.

Our work, however, is not yet done. We are trying to bring the message and success of this concert to as many people as possible. We are especially trying to reach as many people currently inside Iran as possible, and let them know of this event.

Thus, we would be grateful if you could put a small post about the concert and its success in your journal,  and let as many people know about its message as possible. If you could do us the personal favor of sending us a link to any posts you make about the concert for our records, we would be grateful.

Please e-mail us if you have any questions, and thank you for your time.

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Iran Freedom Concert [Mar. 14th, 2006|03:34 pm]

Harvard Students Hold "Iran Freedom Concert" in Solidarity with Iranian Student Movement for Democracy and Civil Rights

Event to be broadcast into Iran via satellite TV

CAMBRIDGE – On Saturday (March 18) Harvard University will host the Iran Freedom Concert, a rally organized by Harvard students to support their counterparts in Iran.

Prominent Iranian student leader Akbar Atri and Harvard's student body president John Haddock will address the crowd. Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran, will be sending a statement of support.

"As tensions rise over nuclear issues, our diverse student coalition wants to spotlight the human side of the Iran crisis," said co-organizer Adam Scheuer, a senior and editor at the Harvard Middle East Review.

"Iranian students are denied basic rights Americans take advantage of every day. But there is a brave student movement in Iran working for change, and we need to support them." Widespread student protests in Iran have broken out in recent years, despite a brutal crackdown by the regime's security forces.

The concert, which begins at 9 p.m. at Leverett House, features leading campus musicians and speakers from campus groups exposing repression in Iran. Nine organizations are co-sponsoring, including an unusual alliance of campus Democrats and Republicans.

"The coalition doesn't take a stand on policy debates like foreign intervention," explained freshman co-organizer Alex McLeese. "But we agree that the fundamental rights of Iranians cannot be held hostage to diplomatic maneuverings over Iran's nuclear program."

The Iran Freedom Concert takes place just before the traditional Persian new year of Norouz – reflecting the students' hope for a new day for freedom in Iran.

"Iranian students are arrested for what they write on their blogs and have to take their exams in handcuffs," noted freshman co-organizer Nick Manske. "In fact, the essential elements of this concert are illegal in Iran: live singing, mixed dancing, and discussing social messages. Not to mention the restrictions on women, minorities, and journalists."

That message is being echoed on campuses across the country, with simultaneous rallies planned at Georgetown, UPenn, Duke, and other schools. Prominent Iranian dissidents, as well as the American Islamic Congress, are sending statements of support. The event will be broadcast into Iran via satellite TV.

"If there is no international pressure, there will be more crackdowns, arrests, and imprisonments," said Fatameh Haghighatjoo, the youngest female ever elected to the Iranian parliament. "But if there is international concern, these will be reduced."

"This is a critical moment for Iran," Scheuer said. "Iranian activists need to know that American students are ready to help them hold the Iranian regime accountable. We want to help our counterparts in Iran seize the moment and advance their civil rights movement."

For more information, see http://www.IranFreedomConcert.com or call 617.661.0053.
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