Egypt needs Real Democracy

I think the Historic poll in Egypt that will be held soon can be read as half-way towards democracy and opennes in egypt. egypt has long story of repression and persecution against dissenters since gamal abdel nasser, anwar sadat and now husni mubarak. most repressions are against muslim brotherhood (ikhwanul muslimin), a social islamic movement which are very popular in the middle east. many indonesian friends of mine who studied there told me that the repression and persecution are so severe; the secret agent is everywhere. you cannot talk in cafe shop against mubarak or you will find your self in torture chamber. so much the dislikeness of the regime to dissent movement with islamist odour like muslim brotherhood that even if you do not belong to this organisation but you have a model of beard similar to theirs, you are officially a suspect of a member of terrorist!

even the poll is historic in nature from egypt perspective (never ever any presidential candidate in egypt other than the incumbent ruler!), but egypt is far away from anything democratic: freedom of expression, transparency and independent judiciary. the information tools like tv channel also fully monopolised by the regime. so, even there is multicandidate, mubarak position is not underthreat whatsoever.

egypt need reform and real democracy desperately. the initiative should come from its biggest allies: the US to pressurize the regime in egypt to make a reform as smooth and fast as possible. the dissenters in egypt has begun to lose patience and start making violence and terror act to be heard of. mubarak should understand that. it’s time to be a ruler with sportmen-like competition: who got the highest charisma and popularity he/she deserve to be in power. that’s the rule of the world.

i hope, the US doesnt protect the egyptian dictators for fear of his would-be-democratic successor will be unfriendly to US and Israel. if it happen so be it. that’s democracy. but im sure, any leader when in power are much more pragmatic than when they are in opposition. so israel and the US should not worry.

Guantanamo Human Rights Commission

Did you know that there was a Guantanamo Human Rights Commission dedicated to ending all forms of internment without trial? Founded in January 2004, the site provides information on the latest on what’s going on with the military tribunals, how to write to civil liberties organizations, and action you can take daily to support civil liberties.

Wobbly America

Wobbly America
– By Michael Wolff

The New York Times publishes a daily box score with the latest list of the soldiers killed in Iraq under the rubric “Names of the Dead.” For instance: l Muy, Veashna, 20, Pfc., Marines; Los Angeles; Second Marine Division. l Powell, Chad W., 22, Cpl., Marines; West Monroe, Louisiana, Second Marine Division. l Valdez, Ramona M., 20, Cpl., Marines; the Bronx, New York; Second Marine Division.

Muy, Powell and Valdez, were the 1,728th, 1,729th and 1,730th American soldiers killed in the Iraq war.

So, 1,602 soldiers have been killed over and above the 128 who lost their lives during the invasion itself and whose deaths were recorded in the New York Times on May 20, 2003 under the rubric “A Nation at War.” Still, 1,730 with a total deployment of 138,000 troops is little more than 1 per cent, which might yet be tolerable. Total losses in Vietnam, after all, reached about 10 per cent of deployment. If the present cumulative kill rate in Iraq is maintained over, say, the same nine-year time frame that US troops fought in Vietnam, we would lose fewer than 7,000 soldiers. But it is unlikely that the present rate will remain the same: either it will fall because our strategy is working — as it appeared to be doing for a time early this year — or it will rise because the strategy isn’t working and the insurgency becomes more proficient, as now appears to be the case.

Furthermore, the death rate doesn’t have to rise by much for the numbers to become dramatically more menacing. From the beginning of the war, we have cumulatively averaged two American soldiers killed every day. Recently, however, that has risen to an average of three a day. At present troop strength, we reach Vietnam-level kill rates with the deaths of just over four soldiers a day.

Declining kill rates spell success, and help foster a level of public tolerance, even of optimism, allowing the administration to stay longer in Iraq as it slowly reduces its troop count, or establishes a permanent presence. Rising kill rates, on the other hand, spell failure. Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican with presidential dreams, was saying recently, “The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It’s like they’re making it up as they go along. The reality is that we’re losing in Iraq.” Senator Mel Martinez, a former Bush Cabinet member, was speculating that Guantanamo might have to be shut down.

For his part, General George W. Casey, Jr, commanding general of the multi-national force in Iraq, was confirming that American and Iraqi officials had begun meetings with Sunni leaders. And while Donald Rumsfeld denied that these were insurgency leaders, he added, “we’re not quite there yet” — seeming to suggest that we might be soon enough.

All in all, after more than two years of combat and any number of cycles of triumphalism followed by dismal comeuppance, you’d have to be a cockeyed nitwit not to realise that the Iraq war might not end happily. People are now talking of a new Tet moment. During the 1968 Tet offensive in Vietnam, the Vietcong, who were said to be demoralised and on the run, were suddenly storming the doors of the American embassy (and on television). In Iraq the insurgents are suddenly upping their kill rate, with attacks of terrible ferocity and obvious strategic smarts.

The Iraq election now seems not to have done the administration any favours. The election, rather than defining the strength of the quiescent population, defined the size of the insurgency. While 70% was a grand turnout, it soon became clear that the 30% unified Sunni population that did not vote were supporting an insurgency against both the occupiers and the rest of the nation. It was a civil war as well as an insurgency.

What’s more, the election produced legislators who turned out to be no help at all. The current US strategy — we put together a working government and then get the hell out — depends on these would-be parliamentarians performing in a minimally acceptable professional manner. But they are simply not getting on with the job. In some sense, this is even more problematic than the war itself — there aren’t too many Republicans who are going to have unlimited patience with recalcitrant Iraqi politicians.

More than any other war in the history of the nation, this is one man’s war. The association is absolute: it’s Bush’s war. But now, as we start to come to the end of the Bush years, the unavoidable question is: who else wants it? Not that many, it seems. After all, it requires signing on to all that Bush family meshugas, and all those neocon intellectual contortions, not to mention all that Bush jut-jawed toughguyness. Indeed, it’s quite impossible to see this war without Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney and Rove and the rest. Once they’re gone, the imperative of the war is gone.

And, in fact, the political reality is that they’ll be gone before they have actually left office. That’s the inescapable second-term curse. Everybody’s career is beginning to shift. Your best people have one foot out the door, or have already left. People who have supported you, because you have supported them, are suddenly a lot more iffy. You simply aren’t the man you were. Indeed, you’re a sinking ship.

There is another unsettling aspect of a second term. A second term demands a denouement — and it’s almost always operatic. Impeachment for Clinton. Iran-contra for Reagan. Watergate for Nixon. Partly this happens because politically you become weak and your enemies get stronger. But it also happens because so much media attention has been focused on you for so long that there is an inevitable push to wrap the story up, to drive it to its most dramatic climax. Then, too, the media, having let a President (especially this one) get away with so much while he was gaining power, invariably take it back while he’s losing it. And to make matters worse, the President invariably digs in — and for this stubbornness and churlishness and insensitivity he’ll be punished. It’s starting. Bush’s speech in June defending the war had hints of that delusional view that necessarily begins when you’ve bet the farm. The President’s “clear path forward” had a cadence and desperation disconcertingly similar to Lyndon Johnson’s “light at the end of the tunnel.” Most insistently, the President’s address to his wobbly nation was about the moral imperative. Beyond cost or method, we are doing this because it has to be done. If we don’t fight them there, we’ll be fighting them on our shores. “Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it…” There was an unmistakable plaintiveness. That’s why he was here — desperately trying to hold on to the crowd.

But back to the numbers. Has there ever been a failing business or a flagging war where they didn’t try to fudge the numbers? Although the President said that he had no plans to send more troops to Iraq, someone in the Pentagon is calculating the effect on kill rates if troop levels are increased, likewise if troop levels are reduced, likewise if more civilians are used. Of course, the better spreadsheet projection concerns the speedy deployment of better-trained Iraqi troops and police. This, assuredly, has been worked out in great and variable detail. It’s just that these gambits and projections and little fictions and recast assumptions are so much harder to maintain and argue and sell — especially as those great salesmen in the White House begin more and more to consider their retirement — than it apparently is for the insurgents (whoever they are) to roll out every day and up the kill rate by one or two more.

Michael Wolff is a columnist for Vanity Fair
Courtesy: the New York Times

The War On Terror: Cause and Effect

Cause And Effect

It’s disconcerting that the British government feels the need to debate the possibility of a connection between the recent attacks in London and the UK’s roll in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. As the Independent’s Patrick Cockburn pointed out in an Op-Ed in yesterday’s edition

”The suicide bombing campaign in Iraq is unique. Never before have so many fanatical young Muslims been willing to kill themselves, trying to destroy those whom they see as their enemies. On a single day in Baghdad this month 12 bombers blew themselves up. There have been more than 500 suicide attacks in Iraq over the last year.

It is this campaign which has now spread to Britain and Egypt. The Iraq war has radicalised a significant part of the Muslim world. Most of the bombers in Iraq are non-Iraqi, but the network of sympathisers and supporters who provide safe houses, money, explosives, detonators, vehicles and intelligence is home-grown.

The shrill denials by Tony Blair and Jack Straw that hostility to the invasion of Iraq motivated the bombers are demonstrably untrue. The findings of an investigation, to be published soon, into 300 young Saudis, caught and interrogated by Saudi intelligence on their way to Iraq to fight or blow themselves up, shows that very few had any previous contact with al-Qa’ida or any other terrorist organisation previous to 2003. It was the invasion of Iraq which prompted their decision to die.

Some 36 Saudis who did blow themselves up in Iraq did so for similar reasons, according to the same study, commissioned by the Saudi government and carried out by a US-trained Saudi researcher, Nawaf Obaid, who was given permission to speak to Saudi intelligence officers. A separate Israeli study of 154 foreign fighters in Iraq, carried out by the Global Research in International Affairs Centre in Israel, also concluded that almost all had been radicalised by Iraq alone.

Before Iraq, those who undertook suicide bombings were a small, hunted group; since the invasion they have become a potent force, their ideology and tactics adopted by militant Islamic groups around the world. Their numbers may still not be very large but they are numerous enough to create mayhem in Iraq and anywhere else they strike, be it in London or Sharm el Sheikh.”

Further to that, in the same edition, Imran Khan very poignantly stated…

“Some history is in order. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the US used Islam to counter the occupation. It sponsored an international jihad in the Muslim world and encouraged volunteers from Muslim countries to join in it. Thousands, including Osama bin Laden, flocked to Pakistan, where US-funded training camps were set up under CIA supervision. These plucky mujahedin were glorified in the West. But once the Soviets were defeated, both Afghanistan and the mujahedin were abandoned by the US. Afghanistan descended into chaos, from which the Taliban emerged.

Pakistan paid a heavy price, being left with sectarian militant groups trained in terrorism and four million Afghan refugees. We were swamped with drugs and Kalashnikovs. Meanwhile, those Muslims glorified as heroes for dislodging the Soviets now turned their attention to other countries where Muslims were being oppressed. As this brought them up against the US, they went from being heroic jihadis to “Islamic terrorists”. The culmination of this was 9/11.

But rather than trying to understand why 9/11 had happened, Bush and his colleagues took refuge in such inane expressions as “they hate our freedom, our way of life, our democracy” and, even more ridiculously, “they love killing”. The main stakeholders used 9/11 to pursue their own agendas for which it was convenient to conflate Islam and terrorism. Hence wherever Muslims were involved in a freedom struggle, they would become “Islamic terrorists”. This is no mere semantic point. Ariel Sharon used the excuse of terrorism to use his formidable military might against the civilian Palestinian population. Similarly Russia would use the magic word al-Qa’ida to squash all accusations of genocide and human rights abuse in Chechnya. But the chief grievances were political, not religious.

Then India claimed that “Islamic terrorists” were operating in Kashmir when that freedom struggle dated back almost 150 years. George Bush would use the term to attack Afghanistan weeks after 9/11, making war a first option rather than a last resort. And later he would use the same pretext to invade Iraq.

[…]

“The war on terror will never be won as long as we do not address the root causes – as long, for example, as the leadership in the US and UK denies that the horrific London bombing had anything at all to do with Iraq. The great danger is that sooner or later some suicide attacker will get hold of chemical or biological weapons and cause far greater damage in the US or UK than we have seen to date. When episodes such as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib are broadcast widely, the Muslim perception grows that it is not a war against terror but a war against Islam. The risk is then that the terrorists become “defenders of the faith”. For that cause they will have no shortage of recruits.”

The denial of involvement in Iraq as probable cause for the recent attacks in London is very telling with regards to the mentality being employed to fight the ‘war on terror’. It is a mentality that stands to promote the accomplishments of those that seek to terrorize by refusing to examine root causes and by responding in the exact same language – violence. I must admit to being perplexed by those who were shocked by the recent attacks in London. For is the UK not at war? Does it not have combat troops in Iraq? Or does out of sight out of mind apply to more than just famine and genocide?

Since March of 2003, Iraq has spiraled into a state of undeniable chaos, despite attempts to hold quasi-elections and sell the world on positive achievements in the region. President Bush’s public admission in late June that ‘the flypaper theory’ is now being relied upon to solve a problem that is far too complex for such a narrow minded solution has not only compounded problems in Iraq, but has also motivated radical elements to re-examine their tactics. I believe that the recent attacks in London and Egypt were directly influenced by the Anglo-American belief that they can effectively use Iraq to ‘contain’ the war on terror.

[all of the above is from matthew good’s mblog]

Tour de France : Congratulations Lance Amstrong!


I am always touched with the way the sportsmen fighting to the finish line, the way they struggle, find a form and sometimes lose it yet they keep fighting again. It’s just a perfect example of life, only in a shorter term. Whoever has championship mentality, he/she will succeed in life and reach the finish line with glory.

Im always touched whenever I see the mind-boggling finish; pressure cooker situation of two or more sportsmen who fight and never give up till the end. And to see that kind of spirit of fight and prevail in a record seven times championship in a row and in most gruelling situation in a person calls himself Lance Amstrong is treat to watch. and to see that done by a Lance Amstrong, a cancer survivor, is even more amazing and awesome. and to see him decide to quit in the peak of his career even make him more of a legend and unforgettable.

Congratulations Lance! You just more than deserve what you got.

Not Again! Bomb Blast in Egypt Resort

It’s horrible when the terrorists rule. It’s even felt from my place thousand km away. The terrorist attack now in Saina, Shamr al-Sheikh Egypt

My heart goes to those victims of terror attack in Egpyt: Egyptian or foreigners. May their soul rest in peace. and to those family of the victims and to all of us may peaceful mind, sanity and persevere prevail.

Honesty is needed for Islam – West Mutual Dialogue

Dont you ever think when the war, terror, and debates on clash of civilization between Islam and the West are going to end? If you ever do, consider these requirements:

(a) hold a dialog between west and islam in any level: people to people (NGO, academician, invidual), government to governments; (b) base all these dialog on honesty, objectivity, and non-partisanship i.e. by acknowledging each other faults. the mayor of london has given the precious example how to be honest to himself. from the muslim side, you can easily find many honest people who’ll acknowledge their side fault.

Below is the statement of Mayor of London on the Link between terror and the west own act in the past, present and the distance future. To be able to be objective and in comprehensive honesty you need to be well-informed not only on from your own side but also from the other source and voice also. the london mayor seems to do just that.

West’s policies to blame: Mayor
Don Melvin

LONDON: London’s outspoken Mayor said on Wednesday the terror attacks in the city two weeks ago may have been a reaction to decades of misguided Western policies motivated by a need for oil, remarks certain to fuel an ongoing debate in Britain over whether the country’s foreign policy has made the country a target for terrorism.

Britain’s Muslim leaders demanded a judicial inquiry into what motivated the four suicide bombers who targeted the subway system and a crowded bus.

Mayor Ken Livingstone criticised U.S. and British foreign policy in the Arab world and called the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a “running sore” that alienates Muslims and incites extremism. He criticised U.S. and British actions since early in the 20th Century. He offered a sweeping indictment of Western policy from the end of World War I through the treatment of prisoners at the U.S. Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Need for oil

“I think you’ve just had 80 years of Western intervention into predominantly Arab lands because of the Western need for oil,” he said on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “We’ve propped up unsavoury governments; we’ve overthrown ones we didn’t consider sympathetic.” He said he had no sympathy for the bombers, and he condemned all violence.

“But he contended that fear of losing oil supplies motivated Western governments to intervene in West Asia time and again.”