Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bikini vs. Burqa

Last night I finished taping my new show “Front Page” with my co-host Ray Hanania which is a continuation of our older shows we have had in the past few years.

The topic of the show was the new Miss America 2010 Rima Faqih which Ray and I have written two opposing columns on. We have different opinions on this issue which shows diversity and fault lines in terms of how Arab and Muslim cultural thinking is dealing with a much more dominant and imposing Western culture. Ray is more like “hey lets just wear bikinis and be Americans” . The issue for me is that there is much more to freedom than just wearing a bikini or burqa.

Ray, as usual, went on to state his case against what he calls the “ Burqa” a style that only tiny fraction of Muslim women anywhere in the world practice and feel that it is appropriate for them and in some cases a form of protection.

Ray and others want to have these women “to be free”, by advocating that Bikini is an expression of freedom where as Burqa and an expression of “slavery”

The problem here is that, this argument is fallacious because it re-defines the issues that face not only Arab-Americans but also the issues of freedom and democracy in the Arab World as a Burqa Vs. Bikini.

I don’t care if Miss America, Rima Faqih wears a bikini or wears nothing at all. She is proud of her accomplishment so is her family and they ought to be! The “bikini” is apparently is her ticket to freedom, whatever that is, (which is not to say that before that she was pious and all covered up, pole dance aside), to stardom as well as to dating famous American men.. UPI has reported that Rima Faqih new boyfriend is Paris Hilton ex-boyfriend Doug Reinhardt.

Just as Rima has the right to wear whatever she likes to wear, why don’t we extend that right to other women who feel that women are best respected by not being objectified and that their education and advancement in society is their true ticket to better life for themselves and for their families.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Obama might cancel the US-Iraq troops agreement?

Obama might cancel the US-Iraq troops agreement.

By : Ali Alarabi

Now that the Iraqi and the US governments have signed the Security agreement yesterday, pending the Iraqi parliament ratification, which will regulate the presence of US troops in Iraq until 2011 and beyond, the real work, however, has not even begun yet.

For the current US administration, it is important to sign this agreement, amended to satisfy domestic Iraqi demands, such as changing the name into the “ The US withdrawal agreement” so as to not leave the US troops in Iraq, come December 31, without a legal cover that protects their presence in the country.

More importantly however, for the out going George Bush’s administration is to legally bind the incoming administration of President Barack Obama with an agreement that represent its own thinking on troops presence and US basis in Iraq and in the Middle East.

The current administration thinking on US troops and its role around the world, however, predates George Bus’s administration, and it started with the Project of the New American Century, an organization formed by neocons such as William Kristol, John Bolton, and Donald Kagan, which at its core want to exercise a muscular US foreign policy that will exercise the US military power, if necessary, around the globe particularly the Middle East and South East Asia.

This Militarist approach to US policy, at its heart, wants to ensure US dominance over much of the global affairs particularly when it comes to strategic issues such as global security, i.e terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and Oil.

Iraq, after its occupation, lies as central to the current administration, the neocons thinking, in continuing with this policy to project the US power, through permanent basis in Iraq and the Arab Gulf countries.

As for the Iraqi government, it really has very little room to decide .The presence of 146 000 US Soldiers in Iraq today, represent the only guarantee that Iraq does not slip in a savage civil war that will leave the country in total ruins. And to keep the current political order in the country alive.

The government of Nouri Al Malki after consulting with Ayatollah Ali Sistani , went ahead and approved the Pact, to the delight of the Kurds who have vested interests in keeping the US troops in Iraq, while Muqtada Al Sadar and the Islamic Scholars Association, opposed the Pact calling it “ a surrender” and” a continuation of American occupation of Iraq”.

As for the incoming US president Barack Obama: he did not issue a statement on this particular issue; he nonetheless was very clear since 2002 in opposing the war in Iraq and voted against a war resolution in Congress.

Will an Obama administration honor this agreement between the current US government and the Iraqi government? I must say that Its doubtful that an Obama administration will stick with an agreement to station US troops not only in Iraq but also in the Gulf region on a philosophical grounds that runs contrary to his own thinking, as well as the thinking of the centrist wing of the democratic party that he represents, on how to run the US foreign policy.

The Democrats have no institutions comparable to the neocon Republicans, like the American Enterprise institute, AEI, who when not in power lay dormant planning their vision of US policy until they assume power in Washington.

Therefore Obama and his democratic controlled congress would not feel obligated to honor this agreement that was founded on a political philosophy they deem very dangerous to American interests around the world and that it has undermined US interests and brought an unnecessary war in Iraq.

Consequently, it is likely that the new US administration will start withdrawing the US troops much earlier what this agreement stipulates with emphasis on withdrawing combat units first, as Obama the candidate has said in several of his speeches that outlined his policy on the war in Iraq.

Obama, however, would not commit a major policy blunder if he withdraws the US from this agreement and cancel all together, certainly, it is not without precedent.

George Bush decided that the Anti-Ballistic Missile ABM treaty signed with the Soviet Union, in 1972, is no longer fit the new US policy in accordance with his ideological line and he therefore on June 13TH 2002 withdrew the US from this treaty. George Busch also decided to withdraw the US from the Kyoto treaty that limits greenhouse emissions upon assuming power in Washington from his predecessor Bill Clinton who signed the treaty.

As for the US changing its position on a treaty after change of power in Washington certainly is not restricted to Republicans. President Jimmy Carter for example decided to withdraw the SALT II from the Congress after it was put there for ratification in response to the Soviet invasion Afghanistan in 1979. Congress, however, was not in hurry to sign the treaty anyway for it was facing several objections and was stuck in Congress without ratification.

President Obama does not have to go along with a US foreign policy that projects the US military force around the globe and ensure US dominance through an interventionist military policy and preemptive wars.

Obama had voiced his objections loud and clear starting with his vote in the senate against the war resolution and his senate bill to withdraw the US from20Iraq to his latest statement on his website that as soon as his assumes power Washington he will direct his secretary of defense to end the war in Iraq and remove the US troops from that country.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Obama’s Revolution and the Impact on the Middle East.

Obama’s Revolution and the Impact on the Middle East.

By: Ali Alarabi

Senator Barack Obama’s victory is no less important than storming the Bastille more than 200 years ago in 1789 which was perhaps the one iconic event that ushered the dawn of the French revolution that ended up changing the French people along with France and Europe and subsequently the entire world.

By all accounts, Obama’s victory is poised to start a revolution, not only because of its historic precedent as the first president of African decent which could be the single most important historical event in American history, when it comes to the issue of race, after Abraham Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation that freed the slaves in 1862. But it is important because Obama sees himself as his records shows that he is a man who through out his professional life had stood for changing the system to make it take into account the wretched of the Earth whom the “Ancien RĂ©gime” according to this view of the world, had deliberately ignored if not destroyed.

Obama is philosophically inclined to understand the third world that exists inside American borders and outside it, more and better. His days as a Chicago state senator had prepared him to work with disadvantaged people and poor communities. He understands that people need more than rhetoric to survive. Americans and a lot of people around the world are going through a vicious economic and political cycle that is wrecking havoc in their lives and shattering their dreams of stability and prosperity. People need American power to be a soft power, not a brute one, a force for good and stability, not a force to wage war and instability.

But the difficult question is that will an Obama administration withstand the storm some members of the “Ancien Regime” will try to wage against him and his new republic, or will his wagon be able to move forward and change things in this country as he promised the American people to do through out his campaign? This however remains to be seen, but it also depends on how he manages a democratic-majority Congress. but one thing for sure however and that if Obama succeeds in bringing the American people of all persuasions to come to terms with his agendas and to better understand his vision, he in this case will start the winds of change to blow not just in the American prairies but also around the world.

The Middle East is one area that will be directly and forcefully affected by Obama’s revolution. He had said in many different ways when it comes to Palestine /Israel issue that America should be a fair and an honest broker for peace in order to bring a Palestinian state to become a viable reality along side Israel. A problem could encounter Obama, however, if he pelages American might and treasure to side with Israel without responsibility or restrain, like his predecessors, or without conditions to end its occupation of Arab Jerusalem and all of the Palestinian territories occupied in 1967.

Barack Obama had also said that he will talk directly and face t face to America’s “current enemies” notably Syria and Iran, without preconditions and without setting up some kind of reward and punishment system that will insult them more than respect them.

Arab countries particularly Syria, in addition to Iran will be very relieved to see George Bush’s term ends without the wrath of US military being unleashed on their heads and seeing their country chopped up as in the case of Iraq. To put it simply, they are just happy to have survived George’s Bush tenure in the white House. Intact.

Iraq on the other hand is a different case. The Iraqi government and the Kurds are fearful of Obama’s intentions of withdrawing the troops from Iraq and leave them to deal with their complicated issues such as whether to keep the country intact or ending up dividing it up between the parties that came with the American forces to Baghdad or start dealing with each other without having the benefit of a handy American power to be used whenever there is trouble. Only Iran however will remain the true beneficiary of an American power vacuum in Iraq and will basically have free hand in Iraq treating Iraq or even re-making it as one of its own territories if Obama did what he said he will do.

A lot of high hopes and dreams are pinned on Obama’s historic presidency will it be like storming the Bastille more than 200 hundred years ago or end up in disappointment, only time will tell

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Rahm Emanuel and chicago politics

Since Rahm Emanuel of the democratic 5th congressional district, most likely will be President Obama chief of Staff, I am wondering why this particular congressional seat is seemingly more powerful than other Chicago area or Illinois congressional seats.

It looks to me that the 5th congressional district seat is the most important Congressional seat in Illinois, despite some of its former occupants have went to jail, but one became governor and the while Rahm had Emanuel served a stint in the Israeli Army in the early 90s and now is poised to become the White House Chief of Staff.

This Congressional seat has always been as far as I remember been occupied by powerful Chicago politicians and leaders who later on either went to Jail or become governors of the state, or eventually might end up in jail!

Historically, as far as I remember, that seat was occupied almost forever by former congressman Dan Rostenkowski, who rose to become the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means committee in the US Congress, and later was implicated in a corruption scandal, found guilty, and served time in a Wisconsin jail.

After Rostenkowski, came a little known Chicago attorney name Patrick Flanagan, who only served one term and nothing became of him,

Then came the current state of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich the son in law of Patrick Mill the long time powerful Chicago alderman who helped the husband of his daughter win this Congressional seat and later on fought with him publically on the pages of the Chicago newspapers (an enjoyable fight!)

Its worth noting that Governor Blagojevich is under suspicion by the federal investigators over his connections with Tony Rizko who later was convicted for corruption.

After the election of Blagojevich to the governorship of Illinois, the seat became vacant and two former White House staffers competed for that coveted seat.

One was Pete Dagher who later lost that election in 2002.

What’s interesting about Rahm Emanuel is that as soon as he ran for the seat, he managed to get the endorsement of Chicago Mayor, Richard M. Daley and governor Rod Blagojevich. While President Clinton was hesitant in the beginning of whom to endorse because both Dagher and Emanuel had worked for him at the White House, albeit Emanuel assumed a higher profile position especially during Clinton Impeachment trial. Later on, Clinton Endorsed Emanuel.

Despite his high profile endorsements and accumulating an impressive amount of campaign money, Emanuel was worried that Dagher could steal that seat from him since both worked for Clinton rendering White House experience of Emanuel a moot point.

I was told, back then, by senior person in Pete Dagher campaign that Emanuel had offered Dagher a job if he gives up his campaign and leave it for Emanuel. Dagher refused and lost the election.

As soon as Emanuel won the seat and moved to Washington, he was offered a powerful committee assignment that placed him in the top democratic leadership in the House.

Compare that with Jessie Jackson Jr. who has been serving in the House since the 90s from the 1st congressional district, yet he is missing in action in the House keeping a very law profile. Jackson won that seat after the debacle and scandalous former Congressman Mel Reynolds who later went to jail for his relationship with an underage “Catholic school” girl” (Remember Mel… J )

The 1st Congressional district was home to former Congressman Gus Savage who got himself in deep trouble for criticizing Israel and its powerful lobby AIPAC. Mel Reynolds ran for Savage’s seat as friendlier to Israel, he was supported by AIPACK and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reisndorf who was one of his biggest financial backers.
Jessie Jackson Jr, comparing to Emanuel, has almost no power on the Hill, despite his seniority in Congress. Perhaps because the Younger Jackson never really got out of his father, the elder Jackson, shadow and limited himself to a local South Side profile.

Even Congressman Bobby Rush of the Chicago 2nd Congressional district, who is senior to both Emanuel and Jackson, is less powerful than Emanuel.
What does that say?
It says that Emanuel got better connections in Chicago especially with the Mayor and better connections in Washington which helped him taking over a powerful position with the Democratic Party and now as White House Chief of Staff.

Monday, September 15, 2008

US secret war in Iraq and the Israeli conenction

US secret war in Iraq and the Israeli conenction

Bob Woodward’s newest book “the War within” which he reveals in it how the Bush administration has administrated the war in Iraq and in it he talks about a US secret program to counter the Iraqi insrugency. Woodward told CNN’s Larry king, earlier this week, that he has obtained secret information on the workings of US military in Iraq that enabled the US forces to stem the tide of violence and al-Qaeda terrorism in Iraq.

Though it looks like it is a super secret as to what kind of program the US forces had developed to counter the military-style attacks in Iraq against its forces, but this supposed super secret is not quite that big of a secret after all.

It was reported in the US and British press as far back as 2003 that the US forces is using the Israeli Army tactics and Israeli advisers for training and consultations to counter the insurgency in Iraq. In a 2003 article titled”Israel trains US assassination squads in Iraq” the British newspaper the Guardian Reported that ”The Israeli defense Force (IDF) has send urban warfare specialists to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the home of US special forces, and according to two sources , Israeli military “consultants” have also visited Iraq”

Israel has developed urban warfare tactics due its decades long occupation of Palestinian lands and its tight control over the population. Israel has been killing off the leadership of Palestinian resistance and organizations leaders through its “Arabaized units” known as Dovdovan” in Hebrew who operate by infiltrating and blending in with the local population as well as dress in Arab clothes and speak fluent Arabic in order to assassinate Palestinian leaders. The Israeli tactics however are illegal under international law because the Israeli presence in the Palestinian territories is also illegal.

Moreover, Israel was successful in its assassination program in part due to its use of huge network=2 0of spies and informants to pinpoint Palestinian members of organizations Israel deems terrorist and deals them a fatal blow. Though Israel has mastered this technique but it is far from subduing the Palestinians and eradicating their resistance to its occupation.

Elaborating on the Israeli connection in Iraq, the Guardian reported“ This is basically an assassination program. That is what is being conceptualized here. This is a hunter killer team” said a former senior US intelligence official .

Israeli presence in Iraq well documented in the press . Israel maintains a well established relations with Kurds in northern Iraq and it has set up shop to operate its intelligence network with the Kurdish and Iraqi leaders to spy on Iran and the Iraqi leadership as it was widely reported by the New Yorker Magazine reporter Seymour Hersh.

Hersh was perhaps the first western journalist to report on the assignation teams set up in Iraq by the US military with the help of Israeli army personal in Iraq and in the US in a well known piece in the New Yorker magazine titled “ Moving Targets” in December of 2003.

This ‘assassination teams” strategy, almost an exact copy of Israel’s assignation campaigns against Palestinians, was formulated during former defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who through his under secretary of defense for Intelligence Stephen Cambone, has been deeply involved in developing the new special forces approach wrote Hersh in 2003 in the New Yorker.

Though it remains to be a well guarded secret as to how this program works but it appears to be working in reducing and in some cases stemming violence in vast regions of Iraq. And if we take into consideration that this program has succeeded in its goals, for the time being, especially in combination of other factors such as the decision of young shia leader Muqtada Sadr to freeze his Mahdi Army military confrontation with the US and Iraqi forces, and the decision of the Sunni tribes in al-Anbar to abandon Al-Qiada who shot itself in the foot by adopting harsh tactics and inflaming the secretion passions with it indiscriminate suicide bombing campaigns against shia and Sunni populations centers.

Another key player in this secretive program is General William” Jerry” Boykin a controversial General with fanatical anti-Muslim hatred and who had made some inflammatory remarks against the religion of Islam and Muslims. General Boykin remarked in 2003 to an evangelical group meeting about his experience in Somalia in the nineties that he worships the true God while his enemies, in Somalia, the Muslims=2 0worship “False God”

Boykin is a well know neocon whose world is black and white, a world raging with battles between good and evil as he sees it. In June of 2003,Boykin repeatedly equated the Muslim world with Satan in an interview with the Oregonian newspaper He remarked: “Satan wants to destroy this nation, he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian Army”

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Ali Alarabi is an award winning Arab-American journalist and columnist and member of Arab writers group syndicate. He can be reached at and by email at

© 2008 Ali Alarabi

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Arab/Muslim Americans Should Not Vote for Obama

published by: AL-Arab newspaper, London
Palestine Chronicle NewsPaper

By Ali Alarabi

The candidacy of Senator Barrack Obama is a remarkable one by all accounts, from a historical perspective it is an unprecedented feat that an African American stands for the highest office in America and a candidate who was not born into wealth or political family.

For Arab American and Muslim voters, however, an Obama-Biden ticket seems like good news for they have had to endure a long arduous 8 year journey of the Republican rule of Bush-Cheney administration that wrecked havoc in their personal lives, eroded their civil rights, a futile war in Iraq, and vehemently supporting Israeli’ s occupation and destruction of Palestinian lands and peoples.

Arab and Muslim voters thought, in Obama that they were witnessing a candidate with a shot of wining, that he was not part of the pro-Israeli establishment that fills the halls of power in Washington who usually go out of their way, sometimes slavishly, to support Israel at expense of Arab and Palestinian rights.

But Arab and Muslims voters did not have wait for too long for their disappointment to arrive when they felt that Obama had increasingly started treating them like a plague avoiding them at all costs so as not to upset the racists and bigots in this country.

In Detroit, last June, Obama's staff made sure to remove two Muslim American women from the seats behind Obama so as not to “ offend” American voters, as if Muslims voters are not “fully” Americans.

This insult to Muslims is too deep to let it go so easily, it also speaks volumes about the hatred and racism in the American society where Arab and Muslim Americans are usually at the receiving end of its repeated blows, and with no end in sight.

It appears to be that Obama candidacy feels that it has to go along with the racist sentiments against Muslims because, in America today, it is not a bad policy to discriminate against Muslims or disrespect them and demean their faith and value system and there will no political ramifications because of it. Except at the ballot box.

Obama went even further in his attempts to appease the right wing racists by repeatedly denying that he is not a Muslims, and he is not, but why does it being a Muslim or not has to be an issue in a country that the faith of the candidate is besides the point, not the point.

As for the Middle East, Obama’s trip to Israel last month as part of his world tour, was pilgrimage American politicians seemingly had to make in order to garner t he Jewish vote and financial support in this country. There, Obama visited an Israeli Synagogue a Christian Church, and, yet again, he had to show his anti-Muslims credentials by not bothering to visit a Muslim mosque. Therefore, Obama’s message to the Muslim American voters is that, “ I don’t care about you, I don’t care about your issues, and I don’t care about your vote.

Moreover, in Israel, Obama was quick to issue the now classic policy proclamation assuring Israeli politicians that if he was to be elected president he will continue America’s policy of ensuring Israel superiority and domination over the lives of all of its Arab and Muslim neighbors, a policy that defies the logic peace in the region and from the perspective America’s interests in that part of the world, it is an irresponsible policy to say the very least.

Arab and Muslim Americans should return the favor to Obama and give their support to a third candidate who albeit his or her chances of wining is next to impossible, but at least they should not support a candidate who does not care about them or about their issues

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Hezbollah Sends a Different Message

published by Palestine Chronicle,

By Ali Alarabi

Last Wednesday prisoners exchange between Hezbollah and Israel in which Israel got the remains of the two soldiers whom Hezbollah snatched from their military jeep in a cross border raid that aimed to eventually swap them with Samir Kuntar, who has been languishing in Israel jails for thirty years. Samir Kuntar, now forty-eight years old, participated in daring military operation of the Palestine Liberation front, whose purpose was, according to reports, to capture Israelis to exchange them with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

For most Americans, Israel is a little country, with an image of being an oasis of democracy and sunshine surrounded by sea of bloodthirsty evil Arabs who are out to squeeze life out of it. If they can.

For this sea of Arabs, however, it is the other way around, ever since Jewish immigrants started coming by the boat load to the shores of Yafa and Haifa of what was then Palestine, Israel has been holding the Arabs by the throat dealing them fantastical defeats humiliating them at every round and at every battle.

The exchange of prisoners and soldiers’ remains between Hezbollah and Israel, last Wednesday though not the first, was by all account the first time ever the entire Arab Nation, from the Atlantic ocean to the Arab Gulf felt a sense of vindication and a measure of justice while the Israeli felt the bitter taste of their own medicine, at least for once.

‘Gone are the days of defeats” said the ever popular charismatic Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah to a million plus crowd gathered in Beirut to see the freed prisoners and to tens of millions more of Arabs who watched the beaming Nasrallah hugging=2 0the former prisoners and greet them before he disappeared to give a speech via video conference.

The jubilant Lebanese headed by president Michel Suliman and the entire Lebanese political class gave Samir Kuntar and four other Hezbollah fighters captured by Israel an electrifying heroes welcome.

For the rest of the Arab World, Hezbollah is viewed as a highly efficient organization with a military wing that perhaps, from a military point of view, is the best small fighting force in the world today, can bring them a victory over an enemy that had been the source of their torment for the past 60 years.

What Arabs were witnessing on TV screens, scenes they were unfamiliar with in that for the first time, victory celebrations and the return of their prisoners and the bodies of almost two hundred of former fighters.

In Israel the scene was a stark contrast to the victory parades in Lebanon. Israel felt a rude awakening, perhaps for the first time in which Israel does not hold a victory parade after one of its wars. The Israeli leaders felt a specially humiliating defeat in releasing their longest held prize, Samir Kuntar who was sentenced to multiple life times of 542 years, and whose release required the signature and the pardon of Shimon Perez the president of the country and the father of Israel’s nuclear bomb.

What Hezbollah did was remarkable by all accounts. In the year 2000 it succeeded in driving Israel out of Lebanon; it held several prisoners swaps with Israel that resulted in releasing its prisoners and several hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and withstood a relentless s bo mbardment of Beirut in 2006 to force it to give up its Israeli soldiers.

To put this in perspective; Egypt the regional heavy weight and who signed a peace tre aty with Israel in 1979 did not bother to claim or investigate the fate of thousands of its missing soldiers during the past wars with Israel, some of them are still buried in secret cemeteries called the “cemeteries of numbers” because Israel put only numbers on the graves without names or nationality or any other markers.

Jordan is another country that signed a peace treaty with Israel still has 26 of its citizens and soldiers held prisoners in Israeli jails some of them are Jordanian soldiers who were captured in 1967 war. The Jordanian government is still not making any real efforts to get its prisoners release or claim the bodies of its fallen soldiers. Israel is also holding 11500 Palestinian prisoners, one Saudi man, several Syrians and Yemenis and other Arabs in i ts jails .

Lebanon, for its part, the smallest country bordering Israel, and the weakest one and without a functional army, was able at achieve feats through Hezbollah that no Arab country as powerful as Egypt or as rich as Saudi Arabia was able to achieve.

The message that Hezbollah is sending here is that it liberated its land from the Israeli grip; it got back its prisoners and the remains of their soldiers without dealing directly with Israel or sign a peace treaty with Israel. As far as the other Arab countries that have diplomatic, open and secret ties with Israel, their peace resulted in Israel still occupies Arab lands and continues to hold thousands of Arab prisoners.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Targeting Sudan's president won't help

published by the Philadelphia Inquirer
Posted on Tue, Jul. 15, 2008

Ali Alarabi

The possible indictment of Sudan President Omar al-Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC) comes as a dangerous and unhelpful development on the issue of Darfur and the unfortunate victims in that troubled region of Sudan.

The issue of Darfur is a political one involving militant groups that use violence to fight a legitimate government over perceived injustices. The issue is not supposed to be resolved through a criminal indictment of a head of state, but rather through political reconciliation between the state and the groups that fight it.

Indeed, there are legal questions with regards to the legality of the indictment and a possible international arrest warrant against Bashir. One question is whether Bashir is entitled to immunity.

The fact that Sudan is not a signatory to the Rome Statute that established the ICC raises the question of whether this statute can bind only states that are a party to it and not those that are not, such as the United Sates. Another question is whether U.N. Security Council resolution 1593, which referred this case to the ICC, can imply the removal of a sitting head of state.

Aside from the humanitarian crises that arose out of this conflict, we must not forget that Sudan, the state, is entitled to preserve its geographical integrity and prevent any party, domestic or international, from breaking up the country through armed struggle.

In the United States, hundreds of thousands of Americans died in a civil war waged by the federal government against one of its regions in order to preserve the unity of the country and prevent its dismemberment. Even today, the United States government - or any government, for that matter - would not let any state or group simply split or break away from the country.

International law, however, appears to be aimed at punishing weak and third-world countries if they are deemed as misbehaving according to the standards of Western powers.

As this issue demonstrates, international law is designed to preserve the interests of the big powers against small, helpless nations.

Sudan is perceived as not playing by the rules set forth by the Western powers when it comes to its energy supplies, its stand on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and its position on Iraq.

Treated differently is Israel, a country that violates international law by continuing its occupation of Palestinian and other Arab lands. It has unilaterally declared Jerusalem as its capital even though international law clearly states that Jerusalem is an occupied city and therefore cannot be declared an integral part of Israel or have its geography or demographics changed by building Jewish-only settlements.

Furthermore, when it comes to the wall Israel is building on occupied territories, international law sided with the Palestinian legal argument and declared the wall illegal. Israel simply ignored the ruling, and no international body, no country, is willing to do anything about it.

There are also legal arguments, as well as moral ones, against those responsible for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a country that did not attack or threaten the United States. Thousands of Iraqis were killed as a result of this war. In addition, millions were displaced or became refugees. So we see that Western powers can get away with virtually anything for political considerations, but poor nations must bear the full brunt of the law.

That said, Bashir should do more to help his country to come out of this ugly war and bring Darfur and its tribes back to the fold of Sudan on equal footing with a peaceful resolution to this tragic conflict. But with this threat of indictment, the international community is exacerbating the problem and making matters even worse, especially for all of the innocent victims in Sudan.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


In May of 1948, Jews, later Israelis, in Palestine and around the world rejoiced at the proclamation of themselves - a new country in Palestine. They called it Israel.

Palestinians mourned. Fate had dealt them a stunning blow, their time had stood still, and life was no more. Palestinians watched helplessly as their country disappeared from the world stage and was replaced by another called “ Israel”. A new people with strange faces, strange languages, who came by the boat load from the shores of Europe to set foot on their land and claim the emptied homes as well as take away their orchards and olive trees.

In 2008, it has been sixty years since that fateful day in May when Palestinians suddenly found themselves strangers in their own land, strangers in the desert, refugees in hostile Arab lands, people without home, without a county.

In 1948 Palestinians were forced to pack whatever they could. Some did not have the chance, for they were cut down before they were able to flee the incoming terror and death.

Those who survived the onslaught left behind homes guarded only by their treasured ancient olive trees that witnessed their misfortunes.

Living a life in exile, in miserable refugee camps, in tent cities, subjected to cruelty and humiliation at the hands of their Arab brethrens. They were treated little better than animals, often times as suspects, as foreigners readily available to be sacrificed or deported to some desolate location; and in many cases simply killed off. Palestinians, however, lived on.

The world had failed the Palestinian people, While Israel and its people are treated as the legitimate owners of the land, received and welcomed in world’s capitals, but more painfully in Arab capitals. Palestinians are treated like outcasts that should be caged, and quartered in ghettos in hostile landscapes.

In 1948 Palestine was lost without a real fight.Five Arab Armies said to have wanted to liberate Palestine from the gripping hands of the Jewish Militias. Contrary to Israelis myths of heroic victory of biblical proportions over six massive armies; the combined Arab forces were no more than 20,000 soldiers. None of those armies had an air force or tanks to fight with. Lebanon, the supposed sixth Arab country, did not fight or send anything across the border. Jewish militias on the other hand totaled over 60,000 soldiers who received superior training in European and American armies, were equipped with top of the line weaponry, trained pilots and a lethal air force.

The same Arab defeat happened all over again in 1967. This time around, Palestine was swallowed whole, and yet again, without a real fight.

Betrayed, the Palestinians were the real losers in all of these wars. Their country was robbed in broad daylight, without a fight. Their society was destroyed and their institutions lay in ruins, and now they had to be content to live at the mercy of this government or that, or receiving hand outs and charity, or to be in prison and murdered in Israeli prisons.

In 2008 Palestinians in Gaza cannot leave that strip of poverty and misery without a gesture of mercy from the ruler of Cairo, or the strange man sitting Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. In Lebanon, the Lebanese government outlaws the Palestinian right to work in the country. The government,instituted Nazi-like laws that prohibit Palestinians refugees from working in 60 professions such as teachers, doctors or engineers. Palestinians carry no IDs, only some pale document that state their status as Refugees that live on the margin of that society in a ghetto with open sewers and no running water.
In Iraq,extremist Shia militias would kill any Palestinian on site upon discovering that he was “ one of them” meaning a Palestinian. Palestinians there carry no identity card; they carry their identity in their hearts.

tormented and murdered wholesale and in detail by their enemies, such atrocities however, did not lessen or succeed in erasing the memory of the homeland from the heart of every living Palestinian refugee, with or without an identity card. Until return, Palestinians are not going away, nor will they simply be content to disappear from existence, for every Palestinian, his existence depends on his resistance.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Palestinians in Iraq;life on edge

Published by AlArab newspaper, London, UK.\04\04-08\zopinionz\960.htm

By Ali Alarabi

The recent gruesome murder of Palestinian female doctor, Layla Ali Taha and her young daughter in Baghdad, this past Friday (4/5/2008)at the hands of Shia death squads, who murdered them in cold blood hacking them with kitchen knives then burning their bodies into charred remains shows not only the grave danger Palestinian face in Iraq, but it also shows a trend of a slow but simmering religious persecution and extermination of Palestinian Arabs at the hands of Iraqi Shias supported by Iran.

According to my Shia Iraqi sources,over 260 Palestinian were murdered in Iraq, in the past five years, at the hands of the Shia government soldiers and religious militias many of those victims were children and women. Among those killed was Shiekh Tawfiq Abdel Khaliq one of the most respected and honorable local Palestinian Imams, who happened to be traveling to an area of Baghdad and was stopped by a checkpoint manned by government shia soldiers and upon learning that he was a Palestinian, he was killed in cold blood.

Palestinians are being targeted because they are mainstream Muslims, they are not Shias and they are not Iraqis. Shia militias, receiving religious blessing from their Ayatollahs and supported by Iran military and financially, are orchestrating a campaign of murder and genocide against the helpless Palestinian refugees.

Shias extremists hold that those Palestinian refugees whose numbers were less than 25000 before the war, were living better than the entire 30 million Iraqis and that they were Saddam’s spoiled cronies and lived better life style while ordinary Iraqis starved.

The truth however is anything but that. Palestinians never had it better than any average Iraqi, true that under saddam they were not persecuted simply because they kept to themselves, and did not intervene in politics, for they were not Iraqi citizens to begin with despite living there for generations.

Palestinian refugees in Iraq lived in a government built system of buildings, a Ghetto that consists of 16 huge old elongated buildings, each building has 4 entrances, and each entrance has three floors and each floor has 4 apartments. That puts number of apartments in each building to 48 apartments and the grand total of apartments in the whole system would be 768 apartments all belong to the government. By law, Palestinians cannot own a property in Iraq, not today under Shia rule, not under Saddam and not before that.

Despite living in Iraq for generations, the only documentation they had was a government issued ID stamped with the word “ Palestinian” and sometimes issued travel documents if they needed to travel.

( Palestinian family in housing unit in Baladiyat)

Caging the Palestinians in this ghetto, in the Baladiyat area is not an indication of a community that lived the life of riches and leisure while Iraqis starved to death so claim the Shia Iraqis and several of their holy Ayatollahs. The Ghetto consists of small apartments and shacks built in buildings courtyards and on rooftops, in order to accommodate natural growth. Any visitor to the Baladiyat area would not see wide tree-lined boulevards filled with mansions or nice villas for the Palestinians to live in.

The Palestinians true crime is that they are Arabs and more, they are Muslims in a country that has been converted into an exclusively Shia country and looks more Iranian than Arab.

That said, however, there are many patriotic Shia Arabs whose identity is Arab and Muslim in the larger sense of word ,and who are committed to the betterment of their country away from the sectarian and mini religious wars simmering under and above the surface,which if persisted will doom the modern country of Iraq in a state of permanent disaster.

Iranians in Najaf and Karbala, Basra, and Baghdad already number in the millions according to Iraqi reports. Iranians live in Iraq freely without noticing any difference between Tehran and Baghdad or Karbala or Najaf. Persian has become a dominant language in Basra and Najaf and other southern cities. Iraqi Shia Arabs feel more kinship and closer to Iran in terms of their religion and belief system than to other Arabs.

As for Palestinians, the key to survive and to avoid an agonizing death at the hands Shia death squads is to never show any traces of Palestinian accent for it will for sure make them marked for death. Speaking Arabic in pure Iraqi Baghdadi accent is one way to survive on a day-by-day basis.

Another way to survive is not to venture outside the Ghetto unless it is absolutely necessary. The Ghetto has its own small business, doctors and other basic services needed to maintain a meager but precious existence. The local mosque, however, was not spared from Shia militias attempts to either burn it to the ground or from firing their guns inside it.

But for older Palestinians of the original generation that made Iraq home after 1948, perfecting an Iraqi accent could be a tricky adventure, for they still retain traces of their accents of villages and town in Palestinian cities they fled some sixty years ago such as Haifa, and Yafa. Luckily however, those older Palestinians who speak a Palestinian flavored Iraqi accent can be mistaken of being Iraqis from the northern city of Mosul, a city that looks and feels closer to greater Syria and its accent sounds closer to the Shami Arabic accent.

Most Palestinian professionals, doctors, lawyers, engineers and others have managed to leave the country by paying their way out, the same trend goes for Iraqi educated class. Iraq has seen most of its professional class especially doctors and scientists either killed off or fled the country forever.

Today, Palestinians numbers in Iraq had shrunk into 14000 thousands, almost half of what it was before the war. 2000 thousands of those are living in camp of Al-Waleed camp in the desert between Iraq, Jordan and Syria. No Arab country is willing to admit those hapless refugees or assist them. They are stranded in the desert under the care of UN higher commission for refugees and an Italian humanitarian agency, which work to arrange medical treatment for sick Palestinian children and place them along with their families in European countries that are willing to take them. Another 300 Palestinian refugees were taken in by Syria and placed in the middle of the desert in camp in the Hasakah province. Brazil had already accepted some of those refugees, and Chile also agreed to take a number of them. The only Arab country agreed to accept the Palestinian refugees is Sudan.

For Palestinians, to live in the Arab world, is to live a schizophrenic life style. Palestinians have to get accustomed to Arab governments and leaders rhetoric and speeches with words like “We support our Palestinian brothers” “ Israel is the enemy” long live free Arab Palestine” and death to Israel” the reality for Palestinians however is that they are the only ones who are doing the dying, thrown in the middle of desert, thrown in Arab government jails, getting killed, burnt to death, or hacked to pieces by the same “ brothers” who were chanting long live Palestine in the yesteryear.

Even Iranian president Ahmadi Najad whose militant pronouncements against Israel threatening her of death and destructions, rings hollow giving that only Palestinians are being killed and destroyed with his money and weapons on his behalf at the hands of his henchmen and subordinates in Iraq.
For those Palestinians in Iraq, life has been suspended and can only resume in another, more peaceful land.

(Ali Alarabi is an award winning journalist and columnist. He can be reached at