Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Winds of War

Israeli fighter jets flew today over Syrian President Bashar Assad’s summer home in northern Syria an escalation that has put the Middle East on tenterhooks.

This move was apparently meant to send a strong message to the Syrians that Israel can reach anybody anywhere in Syria, meaning Hamas leaders, and that even Bashar Aasad himself is not safe in his own bedroom.

CNN reported that Syrian TV said that defenses had intercepted the Israeli aircraft and "forced them to separate and leave the area." It called the Israeli airspace breach "an unacceptable, hostile and provocative act.

Aljazeera reported today that Israeli soldiers have kidnapped 8 ( so far) Palestinian cabinet ministers and over 20 members of Palestinian Parliament in addition to scores of Palestinian government officials and activists across the West Bank. This massive military campaign is predicted to undermine and perhaps dismantle the entire Palestinian government. Such scenario if occurred, chaos and war will be the order of the day.

The only official Arab reaction thus far had come from the Qatari foreign minister, who had lamented, in Aljazeera interview, about the Arab governments paralysis in facing Israeli aggression.

Jordan’s king Abdullah, on the other hand, had earlier condemned the Palestinian military operation against the Israeli checkpoint that resulted in taking a soldier prisoner.

It is worth noting that neither King Abdullah nor Hosni Mobark of Egypt or any Arab president or king have called on Israel to stop its wholesale killing of Palestinian civilians, nor did they try to press the issue with the Israelis since some of those Arab governments have diplomatic relations and in some instances are bedfellows with the Israelis.

World leaders who have supported Israeli aggressions seem to neglect the fact that Israel has kidnapped Palestinians civilians from Gaza, only few days ago and has committed kidnapping, and assassinating against Palestinian almost on daily basis.

While Israel has refused to negotiate a prisoner swap with the Palestinian government therefore defusing the crisis, claiming that it will not negotiate with “ terrorists” Israel however, have in the past kidnapped several Hizbullah leaders in south Lebanon to use them as barraging chips for its pilot Ron Arad who's missing since 1982 and still hold some them after 25 years of captivity.

Last week, the Lebanese authorities uncovered an Israeli terrorist cell operating in Lebanese cities and was responsible for acts of terrorism, car bombings and assassinations against Palestinians and Lebanese activists.

The US government said (in its efforts to win the hearts and minds in the Arab world) that “Israel has the right to defend itself”. Though it is unclear how would Israel be defending itself while it masses an entire army around Gaza, and have bombed and destroyed a water plant, and an electrical grid leaving hundreds of thousands of Palestinians without water or power.

Palestinian minister for Prisoners affairs said that there are over 12000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, 155 of them are women, and 360 are children under 18, and that between 1967 and 1994 Israel had arrested and imprisoned over 650.000 Palestinian 85% of those were tortured and abused.

So basically Israel can almost declare war on the entire Arab world for its one soldier, and can kidnap, assassinate, car bomb, and blow up anybody anywhere while issues of international laws, international sovereignty, international airspace, matters very little if any at all.

Israeli aggressions go unchecked, and often times disguised in euphemistic terms, such as “ self defense” “ fighting terrorists”.

Once again, the Palestinians are left defenseless and alone facing the world’s most aggressive and militaristic state.

The arrogance of power

Israeli army tanks, warplanes, gunboats and infantry soldiers are gearing up to invade Gaza to free the soldier kidnapped last Sunday in a daring tunnel military operation by Palestinian militias.

This upcoming mayhem is going to cap over two weeks of Israeli bombardments of Palestinian cities from the air, the sea, and from the land. The results were tens of Palestinian civilians were killed and wounded many of them were children.

Israeli politicians have threatened blood and gore and to assassinate Palestinian leaders if the captive Israeli solider was not released. Palestinians militias have offered the release of the solider if Israel would release the 150 Palestinian women and 300 children it holds captive in its prisons. Israel has refused to negotiate with the “ terrorists”

Israel has also refused to negotiate with Abbas, and before that with Arafat, Israel in fact has refused to negotiate peace with any of the 3 million Palestinian “ terrorist” it occupies and from time to time send its F-16s to swoop down and fire missiles on cars carrying Palestinian activists killing them, and killing more civilians in the process.

Before taking the Israeli solider captive, Israel had a free hand to bomb Palestinian towns; killing tens of civilians while the world paid little or no attention to the plight of Palestinians.

But when two Israeli soldiers were killed one taken prisoner, the world rose to help Israel obtain the freedom for its soldier and punish the Palestinians.

US, French and European officials urged calm, and offered help to Israel. Israel’s Arab allies, too, rose to help Israel free its solider from the hand of Palestinian “ terrorists”

The Egyptian government pressed Abbas, and since it has no favor with Hamas.(since in support of Israeli government position it refused to talk to Hamas unless it recognizes Israel)

The Jordanians also, offered their help to Israeli, but they too, have no influence with Hamas, since they support the Israeli position and shunned Hamas politicians.

None of the world leaders or Arab governments noticed the Israeli butchery of Palestinian civilians. That in the eyes of the Palestinian public in the West Bank and Gaza shows how hypocritical those leaders were. In the eyes of those leaders, Palestinians feel that they are less-human and their blood is cheap and it’s ok to be spilled and in large quantities but the Israelis are full human beings and their blood is all too precious.

Abbas has no real power with the Palestinian public, but I won’t be too surprised if his intelligence and security agencies are working day and night to free the Israeli solider to prove their worth and serviceability to the Israeli government.

Today, Israelis officials have threatened Hamas leader in exile, Syrian- based, Khaled Mashaal of assassination, claiming he was responsible for the planning of this operation.

Israeli accusations are all too familiar; in the past they would hold Yaser Arafat responsible for any violence against them, claiming he was not doing enough to combat the Hamas and other militants. Even after they destroyed all of the Palestinians police buildings killed its members thus leaving Arafat basically powerless.

Israel would perhaps threaten to assassinate any of the Palestinian leadership if any Israeli slipped on a banana peel.

Israel feels it can do whatever it please with the Palestinians, it can send its warplanes to bomb a moving car in a middle of Gaza street, have its navy warships bomb a beach killing civilians, or have its tanks fire lethal shells on Palestinian houses.

World leaders would bashfully ask Israel for “ calm” and “restraint” but more than likely Israeli atrocities and crimes would go unchecked and perhaps, Palestinians hold, that it has a measure of support in Washington, Paris, London, Amman, Baghdad, and Cairo.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Europe's handout

The European countries have decided to give the Palestinians about 100 million dollars, on condition that a mechanism to be set up by July to give this aid directly to Palestinian government employees.

The Europeans are trying to bypass the democratically elected government of Hamas, so as to punish Hamas for not recognizing Israel or Oslo agreements between Israel and the Palestinian authority.

Or so they say.

To me, the Europeans actions were stupefying, on one hand they called for free, real and democratic election in the Palestinian areas, and on the other, they condemned, boycotted, and punished the Palestinians for electing the wrong party. Why bothering having an election if the designated winner should have been Abbas-Dahlan Kleptocracy all over again.

Perhaps Europe’s “ democracy talk” was just a vaporous talk, or maybe they’ve learned the art of hollow sloganeering from their Arab buddies.

Though the Palestinians did not elect Hamas for a 100-year term in office, but rather a mere 4-year term after which the choice will be for the Palestinian electorate to either retain them or fire them.

How about giving democracy a chance to grow and flourish where everybody thought it was impossible to take root.

The Palestinians have experienced a truly democratic expression, which is in unique measure conveys not only their desire of freedom of choice, but also their determination to rid themselves of a rotten growth that was going back in life rather than advancing it.

Moreover, it is very important to establish this mechanics of power as the only way for anyone to ascend to power or descend from it. . Democracy should be the safety valve against the abuses of leaders-for-eternity types.

I think it is rather conspicuous and at the same time hilarious that those who are calling on Hamas to recognize Israel are trying to be, in essence, Israelis more than the Israelis themselves. I have yet to hear any Israeli official calling on Hamas to recognize them so they can begin their “ Peace talks”

The Arab governments position is a mind boggling one. It is a position that is worthy of the theater of the absurd. For decades they shed crocodile tears for Palestine; but in a miraculous transformation they metamorphed into Israel’s cheerleaders and staunchest allies.

Lets say that Hamas has recognized Israel tomorrow. Then what?

Well… then there is nothing. Israel will not flinch

Essentially Hamas would be recognizing Israel's right to keep its military boots pressed hard and heavy on Palestinian necks.

But the real issue is not about recognizing Israel. If my own senses are not failing me, I am pretty sure that Israel does in fact exist, and I am sure that Hamas too, is aware of the fact that outside the Great Wall Israel has built there is a state called Israel and that it is a real country with an annual budget of over 50 Billion dollar, and an annual GDP of 154 Billion dollar (2005 est. according to CIA world fact book)

Compare that to a the Palestinians budget of around One Billion when Fatah was in power (Spent mostly on the well being of Armani -wearing, Mercedes-riding revolutionaries)

Hamas-government budget now is maybe…my own guess.... mmm is about 20,000 dollar

In the news today, Israeli planes bombed a metal shop in Gaza!

So I take it that Israeli air force has decided to destroy the Palestinian Strategic Aerospace Rocket-Defense Force(SARD) in Gaza, which is basically the Palestinian equivalent of NORAD, (North American Aerospace Defense Command).

Good job!

Perhaps in the next raid, Israeli Air defenses and Air force will bomb out all of Gaza’s donkey carts, tin shacks, wooden huts, fruit stands and all of the mechanic shops too.

Only then will peace arrive!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Vichy state of Palestine

(Picture of the Israeli Wall)

During the Nazi occupation of France between 1940-1944 a Nazi-puppet regime was set up in Paris after it surrendered to Germany. This regime, headed by former WWI hero, Marshal Petain, accepted Nazi occupation of France and collaborated with it against the best interests of the French and France itself. The French society was marred by civil strife and fractious politics out of which the Vichy State was born.

The tremors of civil war simmering in the West Bank and Gaza today looks more like France under the Nazi occupation during WW II. Political chaos, economic collapse and brutal occupation are conditions and an environment ripe for a Vichy-like regime to exist within the Palestinian areas.

A Palestinian Vichy state would only be possible after the democratically elected Hamas government is toppled and militarily defeated.

Recently, Israel, Jordan and Egypt have authorized shipments of weapons as well as millions of dollars to Abbas presidential coffers to combat Hamas military strength.Implicit in this infusion of money and arms shipments, however, is the thinking that a looming showdown with Hamas in inevitable, if not a necessary condition, to implement the Israeli vision of " Peace" that post-Hamas government ought to accept and sell to its people.

Conversely, however, many Palestinians are questioning the wisdom behind weapons supplies from Israel and its Arab allies while they, the Palestinians, are facing major food, health, and social crises due to tightening sanctions imposed on them after their democratic election.

Ever since it assumed power, Hamas was unable to deal with the mounting problems it inherited from the outgoing Ahmad Kurie government, whose tenure was tainted by corruption scandals. Though Hamas is still trying to find its ways in the business of governing, something Hamas has to mature up to at this critical time.

But problems like providing the basic needs and necessities for its citizens, providing security and order have proven to be tough challenges in the face of brutal economic and political sanctions.

Under those conditions, governing has become an elusive goal for Hamas, particularly when Fatah armed gangs roam the streets shooting at people, kidnapping government officials, bombing public buildings, wreaking havoc, and instill fear in the hearts of ordinary Palestinians, therefore turning Gaza and parts of the west Bank into lawless wilderness.

Israel is happy with Hamas victory that gave her an excuse that it will not negotiate with a terrorist government, despite that it did not negotiate or even talk with the man, it lobbied to be first prime minister and then president of the Palestinian authority.

While the Palestinians are busy killing each other off, Israel in the meantime, continues ahead with building its massive wall that looks a lot like the Great Wall of China, which will end up being the borders between Israel and the future Palestinians state, a state that looks more like a block of Swiss-cheese than a real contiguous state.

Israel will also go ahead with its plans to annex the entire Jordan valley and major parts of the West Bank which will leave the Palestinians with approximately half the size of the west bank. Basically crumbs to call a state. A Vichy state.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Hikind anti-Arab, anti-Muslim laws

Dov Hikind anti-Arab, anti-Muslim racial laws

Dov Hikind a democratic Assemblyman in the NY state legislature has proposed a bill last week that would allow law enforcement agencies in NY State to target Muslim men by considering their race and ethnicity as a “terrorist profile”.

Newsday, a New York paper, reported that the law if passes it would "consider race and ethnicity as one of many factors that could be used in identifying persons who can be initially stopped, questioned, frisked and/or searched."

Dov Hikind proposed law is designed specifically to target Muslims and Arabs, simply because they fit a racist stereotype that an Arab or a Muslim, in his mind, is more likely to commit an act of terrorism.

“Suicide bombers and terrorists fit a very specific intelligence profile, and race and ethnicity is very much a part of that profile." Said Mr. Hikind

Quite obvious that Hikind whose official website declares him as “a champion of human Right and Jewish causes” feels that Arab and Muslim men deserve no Human Right considerations from him, or perhaps his views of Muslims and Arabs are clouded with prejudice and racism he declares he is against.

Mr. Hikind website also informs us that he was “ Inspired to action by the anguish his parents endured at the hands of the Nazis, Mr. Hikind has devoted his life and political career to redressing injustices in the form of discrimination, racism and anti-Semitism”

It’s also evident that Mr. Hikind has also devoted his career to the Hatred of Arabs and Muslims, and his proposed law, in my opinion, has nothing to do with terrorism or patriotism.

In Nazi Germany, like all Jews, Mr. Hikind parents were victims of racial profiling, racism, and were subject to racial laws that made them targets of the notorious Gestapo police.

I am afraid that Hikind racial laws would be the first step to a pogrom against Arabs and Muslims, similar to those of Nazi Germany in which Jewish persecution was legislated with Nuremberg laws in 1935, and culminated with Kristallnacht on the night November 9th, in 1938.

Remember that the Holocaust in which millions of Jews were murdered had its start not just in WW2, but rather it started when the Nazis in Germany published their anti-Jewish 25 point pogrom in 1920, and in 1937 they enacted the “ Law for the Restoration of professional civil service” according to which German Jews and other politically questionable individuals were excluded from the state civil service.

Murderous events like the Kristallnacht, and the Holocaust had their start in little noticed racial and ethnic laws. They were enacted when no one paid attention or cared, but eventually led to unspeakable crimes.

America today is not Nazi Germany of yesterday, but lets not make it feel like one for Arab and Muslim Americans.

Hey Nouri ... I am in town

Bush in Baghdad

President Bush arrived today in Baghdad in a surprise visit to Iraq.

No one knew about the visit but a handful of people including some reporters, media sources said. Though not one Iraqi knew about it.

But wait a minute.

Isn’t Iraq supposed to be a sovereign country, moreover, a democratic country with a brand spanking new prime minister, and that international diplomacy and protocol requires visiting heads of states to inform their guests of their visit.

I understand that security arrangement is so tight for the president, but its not like Iraq’s Kurdish President and Shia Prime minister would tell on him to any of the twenty or so religious Sunni, Shia, Kurdish, and government-affiliated terrorist groups operating in Iraq now. I am not counting the non-religious groups.

Prime minister of Iraq, Nouri Al-Maliki found out about the visit only five minutes before Bush met with him. apparently no one at Bush's White House have enough trust in him to tell him about this visit. and perhaps they don’t respect him as a real prime minister who was supposed to be elected democratically.

Nouri Al-Maliki appeared sweetly surprised; smiling from ear to ear, like an overjoyed girlfriend happily shocked by her boyfriend’s gesture of asking her hand in marriage.

Obviously Al-Maliki did not even get a call from the president, something like “ Hey… Nouri, I am in town, I just dropped in to see how is everything going buddy”


This visit underscores the administration thinking that no Iraqi official, including the president and prime minister, merit any trust of advance knowledge of a visiting US president. And that Iraq, in reality, is no more than a US-owned territory.

Any American official can go to Iraq, land at Baghdad international airport, stay in the Green Zone, drive around in a hummer, with no questions asked, like he was going to Miami of Detroit

Imagine if the much-celebrated Iraqi prime minister sneaks into the presidential compounds at Camp David, or even at the Iraqi embassy in Washington.

This would be unthinkable in the United States, but in Iraq, anything goes.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Perspective on Monday

Massacre on Gaza beach
Blaming the victims

Last Friday, Israeli gunboats rained bombs, missiles, and death on Palestinian beach goers accompanied by artillery tank fire across from Gaza borders. killed were scores of innocent Palestinian civilians who were enjoying a summer day on Gaza beach.

Over 24 people lost their lives in this killing frenzy. Many of those killed were young children. One nine old girl survived after her entire family were wiped out.

On Gaza's beach, Palestinian families flocked to take a break from suffocating life in the strip, a very crowded narrow strip of land Israel had left after almost 40 years of occupation.

Though Israel had withdrawn its troops from the cities. It still, however controls every aspect of life in the strip.

Gazans cannot go to the west Bank, or Israel's proper for work, or do anything else without humiliating long hours of standing at the military check points. Gaza's borders with Egypt still has controlling, and invasive Israeli presence.

Even when Palestinians turned to the sea for some relief , Israel, once again, hit them from the sea, from the air and from the land.

The reality for every Palestinian is that they have nowhere to go; they are being caged-in in this miserable strip of land that will eventually implode.

For the massacre on Gaza beach, the Israeli government declared that it will " investigate" the killing of civilians; it also added that the killing of innocent civilians was "regrettable"

I am thinking, what would the Israeli government investigate?

Did the gunners on its warships know that they were firing on a crowded beach? Or maybe they did not see the people on the beach!

Or is there a remote possibility that the Israeli navy warships were perhaps trying to bomb Tehran but it hit Gaza instead, and by accident!

Undoubtedly, this was a deliberate act of cold-blooded murder; the Israeli government has no respect for human life particularly if that life was a Palestinian one.

The US, Europeans, and Arab governments have called on the Palestinians to exercise restraint.

Hamas and other Palestinian organizations should indeed refrain from firing their homemade rockets on Israel.

The balance, militarily and economically, between Israel and the Palestinians is vastly disproportionate and lopsided toward Israel.

While Israel feels that it has the right to bomb and kill civilians spending time on the beach and call that massacre" regrettable"The Palestinians, however, will end up being bombed out of their very existence for firing few useless home made pipes they call " rockets" which really caused no significant damage, let alone killing anyone.

Israel's strategy is simple: Israel kills Palestinian civilians, usually using its airpower causing so much carnage, which in turn enrages militants who feel emotionally compelled to retaliate.

Their retaliation gives Israel a pretext to deploy much more lethal power against them and declaring to the world that it was defending itself against those " evil" and "terrorist" Palestinians.

The world really works in a strange way, Palestinians, the weak, who have their persons occupied, their land occupied, Their air occupied, their water occupied, their airwaves occupied, their farms, orchards, and olive trees occupied,and are the ones who mostly killed . Yet, they are the ones to be blamed.

Many innocent Israeli civilians are getting killed too, it is worth noting, also, that many peace-loving Israelis understand the Palestinian plight and support them in their quest for freedom and independence.

Many of the world's governments have called on Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist, almost none of those countries have called on Israel to recognize the Palestinians right to exist and to have a sovereign state of their own.

Even if Hamas recognizes Israel right to exist tomorrow, Israel simply does not care; they will not negotiate with any Palestinian unless he surrenders every Palestinian national right including Jerusalem.

Only then this Palestinian will be declared as a " Partner for peace" and perhaps gets to have lunch and his picture taken with president Bush and make it on the cover of Time's magazine, as the man of the year.

I would not be surprised that the world major powers including Arab governments would call on the Palestinian people and their government to limit their resistance of occupation to writing letters to the editor in Israeli newspapers.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The end for Abu Musab Al Zarqawi came swift and violent, the same end he inflicted on his countless victims killed in Iraq and Jordan.

In the Arab world the reaction was mixed, In Iraq the mood was festive and jubilant despite several car bombings and more Iraqis were being killed. In the city of Zarqa, his hometown in neighboring Jordan, the mood was somber particularly within his tribal family who held memorial services for him, declaring him a “martyr for Islam” despite killing over sixty people in suicide bombings that rocked the Jordanian capital Amman.

During an interview on Aljazeera satellite channel, Zarqwi’s brother in -law spoke of him as some kind of a saint or a wise sage; Jordanian intelligence agents, however, arrested him during the live interview.

While the overwhelming majority of Muslims shudder at the thought of Zarqawi being immortalized as a martyr for Islam or a saint of sort, his career in which scores of Muslims and non Muslims were either beheaded in cold blood, or blown up into pieces by car bombs or suicide bombing could be anything but the work of a pious man.

Zarqwi’s support in some corners in the Muslim or Arab world stems not from his religiosity or his knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence, which is like his mentor Ben Laden, is negligible. But rather it is because of the fact that he in their mind stood up to western powers that has long abused and exploited them.

Ironically, he and Ben Laden have killed and caused to be killed tens of thousands of Muslims because of their terrorism, destroying two Muslim countries in the process. Afghanistan and Iraq.

Zarqwi’s brand of terrorism in Iraq is a peculiar one, though he declares deep animosity toward the US forces in Iraq, often times referring to them as “ Crusaders” and “ infidels” he nonetheless had terrorized mostly innocent Iraqi civilians in shia or Sunni areas.

Shia Muslims according to Zarqawi extremist religious beliefs are “infidels” and “ heretics”. In his thinking, Shia’s religious and political leadership support and facilitation of American invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq is further proof of their “ heretical” beliefs and tantamount to “treason”

Extremists turned terrorists like Zarqawi and Ben laden, are detached from the realities of the modern world and the trappings of modern history, they seek to reincarnate a puritanical Islamic state modeled after early Islamic experiences in the 7th century.

The Taliban State in Afghanistan was exactly such a state. For Zarqawi, he fought to establish a similar state in Iraq.

The Talibans, however, had forced, the Afghanis to live in 7th century conditions, shutting down schools, banning TV and other worldly and modern amenities. But that was exactly what Ben-Laden and Zarqawi had wanted to see in Afghanistan and if possible elsewhere, however, creating in Afghanistan, instead, the most backward and repressive Islamic state, a state that physically existed in the 21st century but lived in the 7th.

Zarqwi’s sheer brutality in addition to his savvy use of the media and the Internet had propelled him into the spotlight and notoriety at the expense of indigent Iraqi resistance, which sees itself as a legitimate national resistance movement.

Despite that he had only recently declared his allegiance to Bin Laden and Al-Qaida, Zarqwi’s death will momentarily deal a sever blow to AlQaida high profile presences in Iraq and will likely demoralize its rank and file, but as expected, Zarqwi’s death will not end its presence in Iraq, but perhaps reinvigorate it from that point on.

It is very Ironic, however that the killing Zarqawi by American forces could have delivered an unexpected gift to Al-Qaida operations in Iraq.

Though according to many reports put forth by the pentagon as well as congressional testimony by US generals, Zarqawi and other non-Iraqi fighters in Iraq constitute only a small percentage of those operating the daily violence and carnage in Iraq.

Ben Laden main focus in Iraq was fighting the American occupation forces without alienating Iraqi Sunnis and Shias, Zarqawi on the other hand sent suicide bombers and car bombs to kill Iraqi Shias, Sunnis, Christians, and everybody else. His Internet declarations urged Sunnis to fight the Iraqi Shias, calling for civil war between the different segments of Iraqi society.

Zarqwi’s actions, contrary to what Al-Qaida leadership goals in Iraq, had prompted them to remove him from the top leadership position in Iraq and make him only a member of the ‘Shura council” a consultative body of religious organizations fighting in Iraq.

His absence will likely enable Al-Qaida to appoint a local Iraqi leader to head its operations there and therefore give it an image that Iraqis might identify with and refocusing its fight on American and other coalition forces.

Other Iraqi nationalist groups will also likely to benefit from his absence and raise their profile since they never supported his slaughtering of hostages and civilians.

Zarqwi’s death will close one chapter in Iraq but will indeed open yet another one.

Ali Alarabi is a columnist and a co-host of cable and Internet TV talk show, the Counter Point.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Murder in Haditha,

What's going on in Iraq?

By: Ali Alarabi


News reports uncovered a bloody murder and a cover-up in Haditha and Is-haqi , two Iraqi villages where US marines and Navy personnel have reportedly murdered 24 innocent Iraqi civilians in cold blood, engaged in cover up, and in one case, murdered an Iraqi civilian in his house, dragged him outside, and placed a shovel and an AK-47 on him so as to make him look like an insurgent, according to latest press reports on the investigation.

The soldiers actions constitute war crimes under the Geneva conventions accords, which the US is a signatory. Under the US military code of Justice, the soldiers actions, if proven, could be punishable by death.

More grim news came when the chopped off heads of Iraqi men were found stuffed in fruit boxes. It was a grisly reminder of how deteriorated the situation in Iraq has become.

A few days ago, over 50 school kids were taken off their school bus and executed in cold blood. In Basra the second largest Iraqi city, murder and slaughter of Sunnis at the hands of Iranian-trained the Bader terrorist brigades and the Mahdi Army thugs have intensified. All of Sunni Mosques in Basra have shut down; Sunni Iraqis are fleeing the city in a frightening reminder of the brutality of the new Iraq.

In Baghdad, AlQaida terrorists blow themselves up in crowded markets killing scores of innocent Shias.

For Iraqis, this madness has become a gruesome reality without an end in sight. Each day if Zarqawi's terrorist suicide squads are not killing them, or Bader terrorist Brigades not doing the same thing Zarqawi is doing they will find their relatives chopped up into pieces, stashed in an alley by Sunni/shia terrorism.

Iraqi Christians are not doing well either, their churches have been targeted and bombed out repeatedly. Iraqi Christian community have lived in that area for over two millennia are about to be all but wiped out, exiled, or reduced to a small community too frightened to venture outside their own houses.

Despite the US administration officials’ constant reminder of “ progress” In Iraq, or “ democracy” in Iraq, the sad reality is that Iraq is neither progressing nor democratic.

The truth is that Iraq is no longer a functioning country.

Billions of hard US dollars were spent on training the Iraqi army and police force, only to realize later that the US had in effect trained, armed, and financed Shia and Kurdish death squads that extract vengeance on their fellow Iraqi citizens.

Not to mention that Iraq, thanks to this war, has become proving grounds of AlQaida terrorists which now is sprouting in Somalia.

The larger question , in my opinion, is where is this so-called Iraqi government!

It is no where to be found since it is a government that was largely composed of and formed to satisfy the different Iraqi militia groups, the offices of the corrupt Ayatollahs, the secessionist Kurds, the vengeful Shias and the willing Sunnis.

Not one group, it seems, sees itself as patriot Iraqi group. The national Iraqi identity has shrunk and subdivided into that of the Kurdish, Shia, and Sunni, and as a result each group is trying to control the major government ministries such as Oil, Defense, and Interior, because those ministries represent the power and wealth every group is trying to control and loot.

Billions of dollars has been reported looted by current and previous government officials, figures such as the former minister, Mr. Shaalan, who held that position under Alawai's interim government. He now resides in Jordan and denies the allegation.

The systematic and organized looting of Iraq's oil by Iraqis themselves shows that Iraq's natural resources are seen as a bonanza by the warring Shia and Kurdish warlords in Basra and Baghdad, Irbil and Mousl.

Comparing what's going on in Iraq today to pre-war conditions, Saddam Hussein would certainly look like a Mother Theresa, whose crimes and atrocities pale in comparison to what the Jafari's death squads, Abdel-Aziz Hakim (head of the ruling shia coalition) Wolf squads, interior ministry's Kurdish units, and the Mahdi's Army murderous thugs are doing to all Iraqis today.

In the final analysis, the US government has unwittingly installed a rein of mayhem and terror in Baghdad.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The weekly perspective

Chicago's Arab Community, what went wrong!

By Ali Alarabi

This past weekend I attended an Arab community function in south suburban Burbank. Chicago area. This event was intended to raise some funds to help poor and struggling Palestinian families with essential and basic food supplies particularly after cutting off all humanitarian aid to them after the election of Hamas.

Inside the hall, few tables were filled, it was basically half empty, or half full, depends on your thinking paradigm.

I initially thought as I was driving there that the hall would be packed with people who were filled with the sense of charity and good will, and why wouldn't they be, Chicago has perhaps the largest Palestinian community in the country. A 100,000 people would be a round about figure.

The Mosque foundation by contrast, or the Harlem Mosque as the community calls it, can muster millions of dollars a year without even bothering to have a single event like that.

Harlem Mosque rise to prominence and wealth came at the expense of the community’s social and cultural centers, which all but one has shut down.

Part of those centers demise had to do with it's anachronistic leadership and partly because most people go to the Mosque to seek God (maybe!) Or to see God’s representative, (most likely) asking for reprieve from a very seductive way of life.

Two years ago, and during the month Ramadan, and specifically on it’s most revered nights, the last ten days, the Harlem Mosque’s Imam, sheik Jamal Said, whose skills in fund raising pales everything else, have collected about Million and a half dollars in a span of two hours.

A million and a half dollars is a staggering figure. This is not just a testimony to the rising affluence of the Arab and Palestinian community, but it also shows how influential and powerful Imam Said is.

And for the new Mosque that is being built in the affluent south suburbs of Orland Park, Sheik Jamal, I was told, had raised a cool $ 600.000, in one night, like it was nothing.

At the gloomy hall, where I was, there were old friends and colleagues, the same faces and the same people who always come to such events, driven in part by their since of solidarity with a distant land and to a struggling people suffering in an uncomfortable shackled life.

I asked my long time friend and colleague, Ray Hanania who sat next to me at one table if he can do one of his stand up comedy routine; perhaps he could lighten up the mood in the hall.

He quickly brushed that idea off since he himself was not in his best mood. " These people in here would not laugh,” he murmured." Maybe you would, and maybe they would too,” pointing to a couple of young women, who sat at our table. " Other than that, I will have the rest of these people in here staring at me like I am a some kind of a nut” he added.

But that made us both laugh nonetheless.He then lamented on the good old days, in the seventies and the eighties when the Arab community had more fun at their events, more committed to their causes, and more people attended functions, despite that the community was much smaller than what it is today.

But The Mosque represents religion, and religion is the most potent force in non-renaissance societies of the Middle East.

Few years ago I attended a fundraiser held for a Mosque in Jordan, Imam Said was the chief fundraiser aided by another sheik from Jordan who came to Chicago for that purpose.

I watched with a sense of amazement how the two sheiks, practically, sold heaven as a real estate plots to the highest payer.

If one for example donated, $50.000, God will build him a mosque or a palace in heaven or paradise. The two sheiks kept charging up the audience to give, donate, many verses from the Quran were used to remind the people that this earthly life was worthless, money was worthless, and they need to give more. I thought it was like if someone was trying to sell me an insurance policy for the after life.

An after-life insurance policy! Maybe I should give this idea more serious thoughts.

But what’s a 50 or 100 thousand dollars that might eventually spare you from being roasted in a hellish fire? It’s a nothing really if you come to think about it!

But what about those people like me who cannot afford to buy their way out of the roasting pit.

I know that Sheik Said and his aids would not even bother to ask for less than a thousand dollar.

And I better not try to donate twenty dollars, hundred or two hundreds, I should not even think about it, I'd perhaps get myself publicly humiliated by those who bought themselves mansions and water front properties in paradise.

Moreover, the sheik would not even mention my name or even look at me or worst look in my general direction, thus punishing me even further for insulting him with a hundred dollar donation.

Millions of dollars, however were collected for our less fortunate “ brothers and sisters” in Kashmir, Nigeria, and Uganda or wherever our brothers and sisters happened to be located.

While the Mosque had collected tens of Millions of dollars as far as I remember since the early nineties; those millions, however, did not materialize into a single functioning community institution.

There is not one community- funded public school. Only two private Islamic schools that charge hefty fees to basically teach Arab American kids how to say the words " Humus" Salamalikum" and "Falafel" and for the most part the schools are beyond the means of an average Arab American family.

No social institutions could be found within the community that caters to the elderly, the young, the newcomers, or institutions that might help stem the frightening high divorce rate in the community.As far as where would Arab American kids go to learn some Arabic, or about their cultural heritage, nowhere in Chicago of course but maybe they can go to Nigeria or Uganda.

Ali Alarabi is a veteran Arab American journalist .He writes a syndicated column every Monday.