Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hip-Hop in Jordan

The pan Arab daily Al-Hayat reported back in late January “ Hip Hop to encourage Jordanian-European exchange”

The small item news said that the European Union is financing a dance workshop of 15 young men and women to better the skills of hip hop dancing in Jordan.

Those who are in charge of this workshop said that the hip-hop workshop is not about just dancing, but it’s more about encouraging cultural dialogue between civilizations.

You might want to call me an old school, but I really don’t understand how hip-hop dancing would encourage the so-called “ dialogue of civilizations”

Hip-Hop, though an almost mainstream art form in America and Europe, however it is still unaccepted by the majority of the societies in the western world for the culture of drugs, sex, and violence it brings. So why should it be accepted in such traditional societies such the one in Jordan, where society ills such drugs, and violence are at the very minimum. And for sure Jordan does not need such problems.

And if you think hip-hop is getting more popular, you are wrong. Recent surveys published by the American press shows that hip-hop is losing popularity among African American community; the community were hip-hop music is more popular.

Rap music glorifies violence,degrades women,incites murder,spreads drugs, and public sexuality, and it has made a significant impact at increasing the levels of crime, and violence and drug culture among the African American community, such problems are part of the reasons for the economical, educational and health disparities between African Americans and other segments of American societies.

Mohammad Badr, one of the participants in the workshop said “ it is a rare opportunity in Jordan, I have been hip-hop dancing with a group of 11 dancers for over four years, but we lack enough support to develop our talents”

I am not sure what Mohammad meant of “ enough support” to develop his talents, and where this support should come from. But thanks to the EU, hiphoppers and rappers got themselves some training so they can go out there and conquer the world! Give me a break!

Of all the problems the Arab world has, from high illiteracy rates, 40 and 60 percent in some areas, to reading habits to economic developments, the EU chose something Americans are dumping in their trashcan then repackaged it Jordan as “ dialogue of civilizations” Are you kidding me!

Maybe someone ought to question the wisdom of choosing Jordan as garbage dump for someone else’s trash.

Iraq war report card

It has been four years since the first shots were fired in the “shock and awe” war against Iraq.
Though the stated goals of this war has shifted so many times over the years from Weapons of mass destruction, the war on terror, to remove Saddam Hussein, to bringing democracy and freedom.

Here is the report card for this war, The data gleaned here shows that fours years worth of “ democracy”, Freedom” and 500 billion of US dollars injected into Iraq, and over 82 billion dollars of Iraqi government revenues from oil sales, did not amount to the levels of Security, quality of life, economic prosperity, education, health care, and civil infrastructure of pre-wars level.

What’s more shocking is that the “pre-war level” term, was when Iraq under Saddam Hussein was languishing under brutal and suffocating sanctions, yet still, four years of shock
and owe, and Shia/Militias-democratic rule, did not reach the “ pre-war levels”
Strange as it seems to be, but the numbers speak for themselves.

All the data included here are from the Brooking Institution Iraq war index, www.brookings.edu/fp/saban/iraq/index.pdf

www.Iraqbodycount.org US mainstream media and US and Iraq government agencies.


The U.S spent $505 billion on the war effort so far
The Bush administration is requesting another $100 billion for 2007 and $140 billion for 2008, which would bring the cumulative total to over $700 billion.
Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq - $9 billion of US taxpayers' money and $549.7 million in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors
Mismanaged & Wasted in Iraq - $10 billion, per Feb 2007 Congressional hearings
Halliburton Overcharges Classified by the Pentagon as Unreasonable and Unsupported - $1.4 billion


Troops in Iraq - Total 155,035, including 141,000 from the US, 7,100 from the UK, and 6,935 from all other nations (other than Iraq).
US Troop Causalities - 3,205 US troops
Non-US Troop Casualties - Total 258, with 134 from the UK
US Troops Wounded - 24,042, 20% of which are serious brain or spinal injuries (total excludes psychological injuries)
US Troops with Serious Mental Health Problems 30% of US troops develop serious mental health problems within 3 to 4 months of returning home
US Military Helicopters Downed in Iraq - 60 total, at least 29 by enemy fire

Journalists killed:
Iraqis Europeans Americans Arabs Others Total
74 11 2 3 5 95

Iraqi Military and Police Casualties - 6,271
Iraqi Civilians Killed, Estimated - A UN issued report dated Sept 20, 2006 stating that Iraqi civilian causalities have been significantly under-reported. Casualties are reported at 50,000 to over 100,000, but may be much higher. Some informed estimates place Iraqi civilian causalities at over 600,000. ( Iraqibodycount.org , IBC )
Iraqi Insurgents Killed, Roughly Estimated - 55,000

Daily insurgents attacks:
Feb 2004 July 2005 Nov 2006 Dec 2006
14 70 180 185

Iraqis kidnapped
January 2004 December 2004 December2005 March2006
2 per day in Baghdad 10 per day in Baghdad Up to 30 per day in Baghdad 30-40 per day in Baghdad

Iraqi prison population:
Peak prison population 2003 10,000
March 2007, 17,00 in US custody
In Iraqi custody, until September 2006 13,000

Estimated foreign fighters in the Insurgency:
January 2004 November 2006
500 800-2000

Nationality of Foreign Fighters:

Algeria SaudiArabia Sudan Syria Yemen Egypt Other countries
600 350 450 550 500 400 150

20% 12% 1 5% 18% 17% 13% 5%

NOTE ON NATIONALITIES OF FOREIGN MILITANTS GRAPH: Two other sources have cited the nationalities of non-Iraqi
Jihadists (one specifying those captured, the other those killed) in Iraq, and the three reports suggest somewhat different trends. Reuven Paz
cites Saudi Arabia as contributing the highest number of jihadists killed (94) from November to March, 2005, followed by Syria (16) and
Kuwait (11). Reuven Paz,“Arab Volunteers Killed in Iraq: An Analysis,” Global Center for International Affairs Center (GLORIA),
Occasional Papers, Volume 3 (2005), Number 1, March 2005.

Internally Displaced persons in Iraq
Since April 2003

2003 100,000
2004 200,000
2005 250,000
2006 685,000
2007 750,000

Iraqi refugees living abroad

Iraqi refugees living abroad 1.8 million
Iraqi refugees in Syria 600,00- 1 million
Iraqi refugees in Jordan 700,000- 750,000
Iraqi refugees in Egypt, Lebanon, Iran 175,000- 200,000
Refugees seeking asylum in Europe, first half of 2006 8,100

Refugees and asylum seekers:
2003-2004 366,000
2005 523,000
Total 889,000

Iraqi Unemployment Rate - 27 to 60%, where curfew not in effect
Consumer Price Inflation in 2006 - 50%
Iraqi Children Suffering from Chronic Malnutrition - 25% in May 2006
Percent of professionals who have left Iraq since 2003 - 40%
Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity 9.6
Average Daily Hours Baghdad Homes Have Electricity 5.7 h
Pre-War Daily Hours Baghdad homes Have Electricity 16 to 24 h
Number of Iraqi Homes Connected to Sewer Systems 37%
Percentage of Iraqi Homes with Access to Piped Water 78%
Water Treatment Plants Rehabilitated 22%
RESULTS OF POLL Taken in Iraq in August 2005 by the British Ministry of Defense (Source: Brookings Institute)
Iraqis "strongly opposed to presence of coalition troops 82%
Iraqis who believe Coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security - less than 1%
Iraqis who feel less secure because of the occupation - 67%

Index of political freedom in Iraq:
Israel 8.20
Lebanon 6.55
Morocco 5.20
Palestine 5.05
Iraq 5.05
Kuwait 4.90
Tunisia 4.60
Jordan 4.45
Qatar 4.45
Egypt 4.30
Sudan 4.30
Yemen 4.30
Algeria 4.15
Oman 4.00
Bahrain 3.85
Iran 3.85
UAE 3.70
Saudi Arabia 2.80
Syria 2.80
Libya 2.05

Note on Index:
Each country is scored on a 10-pint scale, with 1 being the lowest score, and 10 the highest.

Index of Press freedom
149 Gambia 54.0
150 Yemen 54.0
151 Belarus 57.0
152 Libya 62.5
153 Syria 63.0
154 Iraq 66.8
155 Vietnam 67.3
156 Laos 67.5
157 Pakistan 70.30
158 Uzbekistan 71.0
159 Nepal 73.5
160 Ethiopia 75.0
161 Saudi Arabia 76.0
162 Iran 90.9
163 China 94.0
164 Burma 94.8
165 Cuba 95.0
166 Eritrea 97.5
167 Turkmenistan 98.5
168 North Korea 109.0

Note on Index of Press Freedom: the lower the score attained, the higher the degree of press freedom in the respective country.

Political Parties in Iraq:
Registered for December 205 election Over 300

Doctors in Iraq
Iraqi Doctors registered before 2003 invasion 34,000
Iraqi doctors who have left Iraq since the 2003 invasion 12,000 (estimate)
Iraqi doctors murdered since 2003 invasion 2,000
Iraqi doctors kidnapped 250
Average salary of an Iraqi doctor 7.5 million Iraqi dinar per year or $ 5,100 per year
Annual graduates form Iraqi medical school 2,250
Percentage of above that will work outside of Iraq 20%

Note: numbers are estimates.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The new identities of Iraq

“It may turn out that the civil war that destroyed Lebanon was a pilot project for the whole region, and that with very few exceptions states will disintegrate into chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes and regions. Bernard Lewis, Mideast states, pawns no longer in Imperial games. Essay. 1991

What’s happening in The Middle East today, In Darfour, Lebanon and particularly in Iraq is exactly what Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis wrote about 16 years ago in the aftermath of the first Gulf war, and the invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Lewis words are eerie prophetic giving the amount of slaughter, hatred, tribal and sectarian violence fueling the passions in Iraq. Iraq has, more or less, been redrawn and subdivided based on religious sects and ethnicities. The Shias a religious sect stood to reap the fruits of the American invasion and occupation their country leaving others to fight it out and fight them as well. The Kurds have for all intents and purposes carved out a country of their own in the north of what soon to be called “ the former Iraq” while the Sunnis are left to set themselves up some kind of a country in western Iraq.

Ever since the removal of Saddam Hussein regime in 2003, Iraq and the Iraqis are going through profound changes in their political, economic, religious and social lives.

For certain segments of the Iraqi society, this change is welcomed for others it brought doom, but the one thing for sure is that all components of the Iraqi society share, that is a country reduced from an advanced industrious one into a heap of wreckage, a shell of its former self.

In 1991, the first Bush administration opted to leave Iraq without a fight, after liberating Kuwait and therefore leaving it intact. The second Bush administration, however, came into this war with a plan.

But why do Iraqis who share a common heritage, common ethnic stock for the most part, and have lived together in some political configuration or another for thousands of years.
Yet they have transformed their own country into an inferno of killing each other off based on one’s membership of a certain religious sect or ethnicity.

The current occurring of slaughter and hatred has to do with the breakdown of the Iraqi national identity that was the glue that held all Iraqis together regardless of their sects or ethnic groups. Iraqis see each other today differently. Your next-door neighbor has all of the sudden become the enemy, simply because he is not a member of your sect or tribe or ethnic group.

Through Iranian influence and the work of Iranian Ayatollah, Ali Sistani, Iraqi Shias are increasingly embracing their new identity of being just “ Shia” while Iran in the mean time has emerged as the bigger winner since dismantling the previous Iraqi order. The Shias of Iraq look for Iran for support, guidance, and of course weapons and money. Iran for its part had created, trained and equipped thousands of Iraqi Shia precisely for the day they take over their former enemy’s country in some kind of political arrangement that will swallow the oil-rich southern chunk of it under the guise of Shia confederation.

Abdel-Aziz Al Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic revolution in Iraq, SCIRI, an Iranian-sponsored outfit, has called for the establishing of an all- Shia enclave in the south. This, if it happened will be the second practical step to divide Iraq. Kurdistan being the first.
( Hakim)

To facilitate this, Iranians are living in Iraq by the hundred of thousands, particularly in the south and in the city of Najaf area, an unthinkable feat just few years past. Other Arab states stand powerless to influence these events in Iraq, even America is powerless in this regard and there is nothing it can do to change it.

Vali Nasr, Iranian author of the “ Shia Revival” a Mediocre book of polemics touting Shia-Persian nationalism as a new basis of identity for Arab and Pakistani Shias under the leadership of Iran, describes the smashing of the former Iraqi state and establishing a new “ Shia” order by using the term “opening” of Iraq, an old Islamic term used when conquering new territories. According to this view which is being fermented in the halls of power in Tehran and the religious seminaries in Qom and Najaf, other Arab countries are at risk of being “ opened” or conquered particularly those countries with restive Shia populations, such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, whom Nasr described its ruling family as a “ Sunni settlers” alluding to Iran’s territorial claims and ambitions for the Island country.

For " Sunnis" in Iraq, they would still identify themselves in Iraqi national terms and its overlapping larger sense of identity of being "Arabs" and "Muslims", and with the rest of Arabs in other Arab countries, without the narrow secterian bagage.

Israel stands to be the other beneficiary of the new Shia order in Iraq and the emerging Shia nationalism.

For Israel, Iraq has been removed as a powerful Arab country, now reduced to rubbles, thanks in part to the Iraqi Shias who rode America’s military might and enabled Israel in addition to Iran, to eliminate the possibilities of Iraq becoming a powerful industrial State.

Zbigniew Brzeninsky, President Carter former national security advisor, testified on February 1,at a hearing of the Senate Foreign relations committee said that in responding to Senator Joseph Biden that he can imagine several hidden motives for the war in Iraq:

“ One would be to gain American domination over the region’s oil, to put it very simplistically. Another could be to help maximize Israel security by removing a powerful Arab state. Another one could have been simply to get rid of an obnoxious regime with which the United States had accounts to settle going to back to 91 including the alleged assassination attempt against president Bush senior, there could be a variety of motives. But the official motives were weapons of mass destruction.