Member Profile

Total number of comments: 71 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:55)

Tita

Showing comments 71 - 1
Page:

  • Bad for the Jews: Israeli Annexation of Palestinian West Bank, Scarlett Johansson and BDS
    • I threw away my Sodastream machine in, what was it? 2008? precisely because of what the firm is criticized here. Felt sorry because it worked well but I felt I simply did not want to support a firm like this. I wasn't part of a concerted action or anything, I just happened to read the smallprint, hesitated and then read it again. Judge Ms Johansson with the right part of your body, guys, she could very well have known better.

  • It wasn't Arafat who was Assassinated but the Palestinian People
    • From a doctor's point of view, this is not conclusive evidence. But asking 'cui bono' and doing the math of 'what is more likely, Arafat getting a quite rare hematologic disorder or being killed by his enemies', I find the latter much more likely. About the losing hair matter - ever seen a single hair on his head in a late picture?

  • Against Demonizing Syria's Refugees (Seeley)
    • I think you have to keep a very delicate balance when writing about refugee populations....it is a sad fact out that under such circumstance, criminal activities and brutality expand in any people, be it Mexicans fleeing from a drug war or Serbs after Yugoslavia. Not everyone is becoming a criminal, of course, but if you a re the type who would much rather kill or steal from someone else than get killed or robbed yourself, this is your time. Mercyfully most people never have to find out what their next-door neighbors could become capable of because everyone has enough to eat and the law gets enforced.

      If you as a reporter ignore the fact that this kind of brutalization takes place in order to make their readers feel with the refugees, you risk a) a backlash when the yellow press gets hold of crime statistics (a two-digit percentage of inmates in NY high security prison are or at least used to be Mexicans). You also run danger to b) unvoluntarily support the criminals who terrorize their innocent desperate counterparts while trying to help those innocent people instead. Sounds far-fetched? Have you ever thought about which part of the population is acutally trying to cross our borders - just the hungry, desperate abandoned orphans we like to imagine, or the feckless, aggressive young man who has become a thief and left his old parents and girlfriend with baby behind because he is determined to stay alive regardless at whose expense? Does he deserve our compassion and help - in most cases, yes, absolutely. But are we done with accepting him into our society quietly without asking questions, just admiring his archaic courage.... of course not.

  • The Ghost of Iraq haunts Obama on Syria as British Parliament Defects
    • "The duplicity of Bush and Blair has deeply injured faith in government, even on the part of members of government. Their use of the high-flown rhetoric of protecting helpless populations from tyrants and deflecting dire threats of WMD cheapened those endeavors and trivialized them They bent the sword of state and rendered it useless in any similar situation."
      Yes, indeed. They happen to face the same people now as back then who´ve learned a lesson or two about shameless lies in the meantime. Even when you´ve studied history and know how well even much worse lies like "Poland invaded Germany" and its likes worked, it was still hard to believe something like that could happen in your time, before your eyes, and your oh so independent press was powerless against it. It really did happen, though. But hey, people might be indifferent if the imposed suffering takes place far away from their homes, but they are not endlessly naive and stupid in terms of what´s right and what´s wrong. Gives me hope.

  • Thousands of Germans Protest Obama/ Merkel STASI-like Spying on Them
    • Why don't you get a map of Europe or a Spanish newspaper? I was in Spain during the affair and apparently the Bolivians were fuming over what they perceived as Spanish racism. That's at least what the Spanish media said they were focusing on, and they are written in Morales' mother tongue....

      And by the way: what Germans mind if they do mind anything is not what Obama is doing to his own people. Anyone undertaking any serious efforts in the US to come to Snowden's aid? After all, he was doing it for his own people in the first place? If so, word doesn't get across to us here in Europe. If the US get what they apparently deserve, we can perfectly live with it. What we mind is a foreign nation minding our affairs, and our government obeying to it.

  • How Fast can a Camel Run?
  • Egypt: Over 50 dead in Brotherhood-Army Clash; Baha-al-Din proposed PM; Thousands support Gov't
    • why don't you do what you suggest to Prof Cole, Tahar? If an American suggest a) at the moment, that by itself is reason enough for Egyptians to do b). Set up a blog, try to find out what really happened day by day, and tell us your your opinion. If there still are hours left to the day, make suggestions how to improve the situation you just analyzed before it changes again...

  • Obama should Resist the Clintons & Europe on Syria
    • Keep out of this country, for god´s sake!! as hard as it is to watch the daily atrocities from afar and do nothing. Armed interference will not do any foreign nation much good; for Syria, it will end in a disaster. The only way to end a civil war like this one is to completely starve it. Any deadly missile fired will kill a Syrian; for every Syrian killed, another Syrian will cry for retaliation; if a foreign nation gives in turn weapons to him, the spiral will never end before every grownup male in the country is dead and everyone else exhausted to the bone. This is what we need to avoid by all means at this point: more bloodshed and radicalisation. Salafis *will* send more weapons, they *do* have money, and even if, at the moment, they´re fighting at the same side as the US, they do *seek* confrontation. So even when Assad eventually is gone, there won´t be peace. Their strengthening might exactly be what Obama is afraid of (or the Israel lobby is, and we should be, too)... the only thing is, I think trying to end this with military intervention is too late and suicidal. Starve them of weapons, starve them, starve them!

  • Sunni-Shiite Conflict Spikes as al-Qaeda Massacres 60 Shiites, Gulf States Sanction Hizbullah
    • A civil war is always about various different causes. The Spanish civil war was about law and order in a country on the brink of anarchy and being unrulable; about religion (oh YES, although noone called religious fundamentalists terrorists back then); about ethnic frictions; about loyalties to the ruling classes past and and present. What both wars, all civil wars, "REALLY" are about in the end is subject to the wording of the local or global winner. I suspect, from the personal eyewitness reports of the civil wars I got, for most people, finally going to war themselves was a desperate act of self-defence, as silly as it might sound from afar (enter a war in order to end it).

  • Israel's 'Water-Apartheid' in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank (McCauley)
    • "One day the history will not be written by Israelis and their compromised enablers."
      I wouldn´t bet on that. The chilling thing about history is, we have to believe in documents because the people who were there when "it" happened are dead. The fight for truth can be lost for the moment being and still be won later, sure - but it can also be ultimately lost when the winner´s voice makes its way into the history books and successes in eliminating all credible other sources. Can any historian still claim to be innocently unaware of this in the 21st century?

  • After Benedict: Religions have to Democratize if they are to Survive
    • Thank you so much for pointing out, too, that religion fulfils important needs of societies. "Church congregations have been community spaces for spiritual connectedness that psychiatrists have found contributes to well-being."
      Well, I am no psychiatrist, but I am a doctor and a citizen with a conscience. Our doctor´s offices are overcrowded with people who just desperately need some caring neutral official to talk to - a position that just a couple of generations ago was filled by priests. If you are against pollution, you join Greenpeace, if you are against marital abuse, you volunteer at a shelter; if you are against nothing (except maybe fast food and television withdrawal), noone will address you personally and tell you that it´s your bloody grownup duty to participate in society before it´s your turn to become old, sick and heavily dependent on others. The big tragedy in losing the church is not the cultural loss, it´s the void I just described

  • The Crisis of Urdu (Farouqui)
    • Farhang,
      with all due respect, aren't you mixing data about Hindustani with data about Urdu? Your numbers puzzle me...

  • War of Logistics in N. Syria as Rebel Forces Close in on Aleppo Airport
    • cute map. Why does it have Resafa in it, it hasn't been inhabitated for more than a millennium? (I love that place)
      Now, seriously: is there a map of today's Syria available on the net that shows who has their stronghold where, or is it too difficult to tell at the moment?

  • Rape in India, and the Low Status of Women
    • Would you please spare us with Biologisms, as I´m just sick of them by now... and as they don´t explain anything they claim to "explain"?
      Rape in the context of primitive patriarch societies that don´t acknowledge women as human beings is about humiliation of the men that "own" the raped woman. This woman had a male companion on her ride to death, as had the woman I mentioned in my post above (brother/fiance).

      When you read about rape as a war crime, you´ll find quite often that the perpetrator forces the husband to watch his wife being raped before he´s getting killed.

      Rape in this context is about taking and destroying cherished property (who/what could be dearer to your soon to be defeated enemy, and what can be more destructive to a woman´s soul?), thereby intimidating the enemy.

    • When I went to India this spring, there was an article in the India Times about a case like this every other day. Sad as this is, I could help but wonder why this particular case has sparked such attention.

      As you mentioned, rape is about power. There was quite a brilliant commentary in one of the Indian papers in March on one case where the authors hinted at other power struggles involved. It mentioned people living in the country surrounding New Delhi who didn´t mind getting rich on the rise in value of their properties, yet still demanded to keep absolute partiarchal power on their families in a medieval fashion. The raped and killed girl had committed the crime of crossing their land to go out and have fun in New Delhi, accompanied by her brother in a taxi (she also worked in the city). Apparently, the men in those communities see this kind of behaviour as one single provocation, and the autor asked sarcastically how they can expect to benefit from the blessings of the 21st century without making any concessions to it.
      What made this case remarkable was the public furor that ensued when the Government "reacted" by suggesting a curfew and work hour regulations for women... it showed that, despite women working like men and getting the same education as men are commonplace in Delhi now, the conviction that they are otherwise not entitled to have a life outside of their home is still widespread.

      And this is, in my opinion, what the current uproar in India is about: sadly not about the millions of exploited poor women who have no chance of escaping their patriarch ever, we can´t help those much at the moment. It´s rather about the clash of lifestyles, the medieval clan-style that doesn´t give men much more freedom either, contrasting with the Indian version of educated Individualism.

  • 200 Dead, Many Children, in Syrian aerial bombing of Halfaya
    • "The only question seems to be when Damascus will finally rise up and move against the presidential palace."

      To install who or what? The terrible thing about a civil war is that it will only be over when the power vacuum is finally filled. In the end, it will matter less to the Syrian people WHO will be in charge as long as someone actually IS, so the killing will end.

      Mahatma Gandhi is certrainly right in that history teaches us that it teaches us nothing, but that doesn´t mean lessons from recent unpleasant experiences of our age are better to be forgot. How everyone went for the innocent-Syrian-youth-will-overthrow-Assad-bu...it! Don´t get me wrong here, I don´t say he is no criminal, but how long has there been evidence that the same accounts for driving forces behind the civil war? How long has the West cheered on the tragedy unraveling in Syria as if it were a football game over in a couple of weeks?
      I have no answer as to what we can do for the poor people from the outside, nobody has. But I suggest responsible reporting, which includes educating people in the West why well-meant interfering might as well turn out desastrous, and which foreign parties are interfering already.

  • Top Ten Most Distasteful things about Romney Trip to Israel
    • indeed a sad fact...
      In any case, it proves the Buddhist point that focus without good intention is no virtue. If we paid a little more attention to this as a society on the whole, perhaps we would see less of the moral decline that at least I perceive over decades now (and I´m not overly religious).

      When Mr. X gets fabulously rich, everyone will just buy his book "how I did it" and try to be like him. Mr. X on the other hand never tries to be like anyone else. He is free of any social inhibitions, and he can save the time others waste on being considerate and human to spend it on making even more money. While there have always been people like this, there have been times that were less favourable to their public self-celebration of their, yes, efficiency!

    • What I find most confusing and strange is why they are, in the aftermath of the arab spring or rather its full bloom, are harping on and on and on about Iran and everyone else is buying it. Write an honest list of "top ten dangers from the inside and the outside to the existence and wellbeing of the state of Israel". Will Iran be on it? Who are you kidding? Why, why, why this helpless, starved by now in my eyes victimized noisy scapegoat "enemy" thousands of miles away when there´s an abundance of revolutions next door? How about domestic problems?

      Why are we, from abroad, joing this folie a deux and increasingly just accepting it without question... ok, it is better not to contradict someone in the full throes of paranoia, but Romney isn´t Israeli, why does HE chime in?!

  • Syrian Baath Escalates, Uses Jets to Bomb Aleppo
    • Like Francisco Franco and Jose Sanjurjo? Great... whoever will mop up after the poor to-be-assassinated-again Kurds trying to found Kurdistan for the nth time (read Joshua Landis´ page on this matter) and everyone else who thinks this is his hour will most certainly not be better then the present regime. This is going to take a bad ending.

  • Free Syrian Army Controls Border Areas
    • Looking at the map I come to different conclusions: the border areas to Turkey, surprise? Who would have thought that these bucolic Kurdish hamlets could be taken! where do they get their arms and training from, possibly Turkey? And Deir-ez-Zor: full of Iraqi refugees and semi-nomad folks, that´s at least how I remember it (2008). A mile away from the Euphrates and you´re in the middle of Arabian-desert-nowhere, tribal land as it can be. This is not Syria. That´s like taking things that happen on Navajo soil in New Mexico and in Alaska to represent the US.

      God, I feel so sorry, especially for those Iraqi refugees. Can´t help it but I don´t like the Free Syrian army at all. Free who? To replace the present rulers with what? There are other ways to send a government to hell for the better... their point "..but not with the Assad clan" might be true. But the present lack of enthusiasm of most Syrians signals to me that they, too, feel that they´re just replacing one evil with another.

  • Could Syria-Turkey Conflict Pull NATO In?
    • Situation´s still got a faint taste of Agadir to me.

      And Syria is not just Syria but also Iran and Russia (and China).

      And what I dislike the most about the whole story is the constant bickering going on at the borders between Turkey and its two neighbors, Syria and Iran. If either party tells us half of what this actually is about, we´re lucky. Have you kept track how many times Turkey threatened to cut off Syria from either electricity or Euphrates water? Do you know how many times they´ve been chasing Kurdish people to and fro (respectively how many times they eloped to Syria)? How active a role Turkey played for decades in supporting Syrian "opposition fighters" less because they felt sorry for any Syrians suffering injustice but rather out of pure vengeance and Schadenfreude?

    • I can. As long as it´s not clear at all who brought in this provocation and why, everyone should and will stay put. Good thing we´ve learned a couple of things since Kaiser Wilhelm.

  • Will Houla be al-Assad's My Lai? Artillery Massacre of Children in Syria
    • I made two cities into one: it was Hama they flattened in 1981. Still don´t mind, they´re not too far apart of different.

    • You know Juan this isn´t comparable to Libya where I was absolutely pro-intervention.
      I´m still appalled and shocked. Even more so when I remember how a Syrian guide once shared his personal memories of the Homas attacks by Assad senior with us. It was a story like this one, of utterly disturbed and intimidated civilians arriving at the home of their Damascus relative´s in the middle of the night with nothing more than the clothes on, glad to have escaped alive. That was more than 30 years ago, and the insult of the government keeping everything under wraps added gravely to the injury of the killing and the shelling. Syria hasn´t forgotten Homs No.1, both sides haven´t. While it´s unwise to go for revenge, it´s pure insolence for the regime to think they´ll get away with it again.
      There we meet Qaddafi again: He thought, too, "what the hell, I´ve done that before" (and nothing happened).

      I wished we could do something. We definitely have to try at this point. Remembering the Spanish and the Yugoslavian civil war once more I just pray that the people concerned won´t let the atrocities committed guide they reaction... someone always profits from escalation of hate and brutality, and that someone is never the tormented

  • Top 5 Dangers that the Syria Conflict could Destabilize its Neighbors
    • What´s frightening is not the bread-and-butter-content of the Aljazeera video which tells only the basic facts everyone should know about this conflict by now that concerns us all. It´s the fact that people don´t know, foreign ministers still don´t know and chose to remain ignorant. There goes another war-by-proxy, another Spanish civil war, another Yugoslavia, history repeating itself because people forget. Because they have so many more important threats to fend off? Like, regulated health care and similar atrocities....!

      it probably boils down to people thinking that even a full-blown civil war in Syria won´t seriously affect their private lives anyways.... Another global battlefield where you can safely fight for your ideology as long and as fervently as you want, without any real danger to your own house, family and existence?
      Of course, I wish for my own sake it won´t spread. Only, with all the collaterals you mentioned, I have an uneasy feeling about this. I agree that this is a country where EVERYONE in the near and middle East plus Turkey and Israel has some kind of connection to. Ironically, when Spain and Yugoslavia were concerned, people where much more aware of this fact.

  • Ayatollah Santorum Excommunicates Obama, Mainstream Protestants
    • what I find most appaling about Santorum that I don´t buy any of his "beliefs" as something that bears, in itself, any real importance for him. I think he is in love with Rick Santorum and he will say anything that makes manipulable people love him, too.

      Whatever religion someone believes in, if he truly believes, he´ll always hesitate to make people unhappy, marginalize and punish them, because every religion is about compassion, altruism and love. While different ideas about how is is best achieved this might make dealing with Jehova´s witnesses arduous, it´s still not as unpleasant as dealing with someone you suspect to be a pious impostor.

      His only genuine belief is that Rick Santorum will truly be good for his people. If you read biographies about the greatest dictator in German history, you´ll find that he held the same belief. The story ended with him musing about the unworthyness of the German people, hid securely in a cellar, while thousands and thousands of them died daily for his mistakes. He never even saw that he made any, he never saw even the pain he inflicted on his own people, he died sulking. While that´s of course another story, that´s exactly what people like RS really believe in - their own grandeur. Don´t go for it, America. Obama is as devoted to the US as Rick Santorum isn´t.

  • Why the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's Victory at the Polls May not be Decisive
    • What´s wrong with Sharia serving as a law is simply that it´s subject to interpretation, as all religious rules are. Read about the quakers and the restoration, we´ve had it all in Europe centuries ago, or read Shirin Ebadi, if you like: a religious text is not suited to serve as a sole basis for legislation, because where it´s perfectly clear for the individual what the text tells him or her, the concrete conclusion varies from one person to another. Everything is "in the book" if you search for it, if this is the sole basis for legislation, what you get is the rule of despotism and the only interesting question it boils down is who will be the despot.
      In Saudia Arabia, that´s pretty clear - in Iran, it is, too - so whether you call a state a theocracy or not, the difference is minimal and certainly not what people had in mind when they were calling for one.
      Sad truth remains, whatever is obviously right to me might not appeal the same way to my neighbor, even when it comes down to morality (and all people want the world to be a morally intact place!). Plurality is not about laissez faire, it´s about differences in personal views.

      Once more, the difference between Saudi Arabia (monarchy without constitution) and Morocco (monarchy with one) is far greater then the difference between Saudi Arabia and Iran - the latter being the rule of the strongest which is simply Neanderthal. That´s precicely what you need a constitution for and why you can´t do with Sharia alone.

  • 2011 Revolutions and the End of Republican Monarchy
    • The two genuine kings have survived the Arab spring, Mohammed VI and Abdallah. Was that because they were at least honest enough to call themselves kings all along? Because they entertained better relations with the West (there´s no doubt that they did) and therefore, were better at securing a better standard of life for their subjects? If there´s anything I learned from the Arab world it is that not everything called democracy equals good and everything else is bad ...

  • Iranian Students attack British Embassy
    • That such a step would not benefit Iran is very clear to educated Iranians. I remember talking to a sad American-Iranian at the carpet museum in Tehran who told me that every time he came for his annual visit, he always had to come alone because his American wife could get no visa. When I said, just wait and times will change, he pointed out that they had already been waiting for over 30 years.

      While this might be a sad individual case, it is typical for what people in the streets told me all over the country: we´re fed up with being isolated, we´re fed up with only being talked about in the Western world instead of being talked to. There are political resentments towards the US and Britain, but educated Iranians reject the US embassy affair and never want to see anything like this again. In the matter of "being talked about", I feel with them, to their suspicions that there are double standards for Israel, I absolutely agree.
      (Of course, I don´t know what really is going on. But one country continuously has to prove that it´s innocent while the other one has to be caught in the act with a smoking gun to be found guilty. Iran is on the Internet, they have relatives abroad, and they´re not stupid.)

      One point that the "students" are Bassidj: All the women in the Al Jazeera video wear Tchadors. Of the female population of that age in Tehran, maybe 20-30% wear it nowadays, if at all. Certainly not the average educated urban young woman. If you are not used to wearing it (e.g. use it as a costume to make your point), you can´t climb boxes, wave your hands in the air or throw stones, you´re too busy holding it together with one hand.

  • Top Ten Things Americans can be Thankful for 2011
    • Wholeheartedly agree on the middle & near east issues.
      When the Iraq war loomed, I remember I was clueless but still thought noooo, nooo, this is all wrong. Now, a decade later after extensive traveling to middle & near east countries (not professionally) I am surprised how easy it is to tell correct and helpful Western interaction from the wrong types in most instances, yet how woefully ignorant most Westerners are.
      While this is ok for Mr Everyman, perhaps the biggest and saddest revelation of the past decade for me was just how ignorant those with responsibility (politicians, media people) are, too. In that respect, Obama was exceptional and it worries me what will come after him. Laughing about Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich is fun as long as they stay where they are ... I´m afraid of 2012.

      Since yours is a positive article, I want to tune in again with my last sentence: let´s make sure that all this progress in 2011 supported and carried in part by thoughtful und helpful US (and European) foreign policy will not be endangered by nationalistic populism. Life is getting financially tighter for Americans and Europeans and still, most of them followed the Arab spring with altruistic sympathy which is absolutely great given where we come from (just remember how many ridiculous prejudices European peoples harbored against their next-door neighbor not even a century ago - not to mention the racism all whites shared towards anyone who was not white and Christian!)

  • Arab League Suspends Syria as Israeli Warns of "Islamic Empire"
    • Like, which ones?
      Things can get far worse and they probably will. I´m not a fan of Assad´s, but self-styled liberation armies about to drag the country into a civil war that no single party can possibly win in the near future are my own private nightmare scenario for all the nice people I know in that country and I deeply feel with them.

      My own folks lived through the Spanish civil war which was another example how things got from bad to worse through a civil war. This is NOT a two-party situation where good and bad are outlined nearly as easily as in Libya!!!!!

  • Arab League Sets Syria for Suspension
    • Back to London. I don´t think he´d want to live in the sticks in a third-world-country (imagine Mr. Football-player-Qaddafi-son in one of the 10 poorest countries of the world right now).
      If I were him, I would have resigned as long as there still was a chance to resume a peaceful civilian´s life in a country with urban culture. I don´t think much of what we see is actually his work: I think he is a puppet of his dad´s cronies.

  • Iraq, Iran and the Nuclear Phantasm: We've Seen this Picture
    • Who is behind all this? I don´t get it. Is it once more distraction from domestic problems? In which country, whose problems?
      Obama doesn´t need this, who else in the US might? The mullahs.... might.... I agree that Khamenei is a sinister geriatric irresponsible piece of sh..t. But then again, the whole country of Iran repeats oer and over how many wars were waged on foreign soil from Iran in the past century... So is it Israeli politicians?

      Someone has lost it, but who?

  • Would Obama Greenlight an Israeli Attack on Iran?
    • Israel can´t afford a strike neither domestically nor internationally. This is pure domestic distraction - from what?? Which moron came up with this?

      Tell me in the middle and muddle of the aftermath of the arab spring, with the US weakening and all the change in all the countries around, why the hell would any Israeli citizen be interested to support an aggression towards the only "enemy" country that´s kept quiet in the past year? Just how suicidal do their politicians think the Israelis are?

  • Why a No-Fly Zone won't Work in Syria
    • PS of course, I neither meant to say "let the Syrians be butchered to spare the Iranians more sanctions", nor "allow the mullahs to intimidate the international community".

      I am convinced in the first place that a military intervention would not only be no good for the people we all want to help but would also be perceived as an incursion and an insolence by most Syrians regardless on which side. The international community would be busy till the end of times after doing their bull-in-the-china-shop number to consecutively defend and reinstall religious and ethnic minorities´ rights.

      The very fragile balance between different religious and ethnic fractions inside of Syria precludes an easy solution from the outside. The very fragile balance between powers between the nations of that region clearly just frightens me, and I am surprised how people suddenly seem to forget what area of the world we´re talking about.

    • You forgot one reason that´s, well, something of a far cry but would worry me anyways: Iran would feel obliged to do something at the point of a military intervention. Most likely, they would content themselves with rhetorical venom, but you never know, and even that...

      I know how isolated people in both countries (Iran and Syria) feel from the rest of the world. An intervention even on their behalf would isolate them even more. Any new sanction as a consequence of martial rhetoric would just hurt Reza Hashemi and Mohammed Fruitseller in the street in the first place.

  • Ambassador Ford's Departure a Defeat for al-Assad
    • ...Syria is way more densely populated (20 Mio people compared to 6) by a way more diverse and educated population and the days of Lawrence of Arabia are over there. This is turning into a civil war certainly not between equals, but any foreign military intervention would be the bull in the china shop. Imagine European countries sending troops to "make peace" in a American or Turkish civil war. Sounds arrogant, ignorant? So would this be.

      Al-Assad is a terrible idiot to send Ford away. I´m diappointed how much of a puppet in the hands of the Baath party he is.... everyone knew all along that that was how he came to rule the country in the first place, that wasn´t his fault as heir apparent in a police state - but there are limits in how far one has to bend even in that position.

  • Why did the Egyptian Military Attack the Copts?
    • The taking sides of Egyptians with the copts across religions and special interests seems like a worrisome sign to me. After almost a year of unrest and protest, I don´t think they´d stick out their heads in unison like they do if it wasn´t in their own interest as well. For me, that´s a proof that they are angered by the arrogance of the army and worried what the military is actually up to.

  • Steve Jobs: Arab-American, Buddhist, Psychedelic Drug User, and Capitalist World-Changer
    • You very well might if you travel to Dharamsala. My suggested reading is Sarah MacDonald´s book "holy cow"

  • Muslim Brotherhood Rebukes Erdogan for Advocacy of Secularism
    • Eventually yes, if you follow Shirin Ebadi and Samuel Pepys. Living in a non-secular state implies that jurisdiction has to be tailored to which God is the right one, what´s right and wrong for his followers (e.g. don´t eat pork, honor Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays). Law has to cover consequences for those who commit a "crime" in a religious sense. Laws around what´s wrong in the name of God are exclusively wishi-washi since He doesn´t talk to us himself. Therefore they are prone to abuse like nothing else is and legal trials on religious grounds alone eventually end up absurd.

      You could argue that this boils down to mere invonvenience like the copts being prohibited from keeping swine, but I´m concinved you always end up with way more serious interference that you expected (which is by the way nicely illustrated by the swine flu hysteria in Egypt, spring 2010! What a party for denunciation and scapegoating).

      Secular democracy is the only functioning bulwark against power-mad people and people with a serious mission. This is about people who can´t leave other people alone even in their bedrooms and their most private religious beliefs in the backs of their heads. They´ve always been there and they always will be and their interfering is more than an unfortunate side effect, it´s what they essentially are about. Luckily, they´re usually only a small minority. But since they KNEW from the first day of their lives that they were right, they of course also know that THEY have got God on their side. And as soon as God has a say in Legislation, they figure since only they know what God wants, it´s also high time for them to raise their voices.

    • Whatever Al-Arian wants, the majority of the people at least in Lower Egypt will want a secular state and they will eventually enforce it. Whatever one´s private religious beliefs are - secularism ins´t about that the other religions might after all be right, too - it´s about economy. Businessmen flourish in a state where law, rights and and crimes are concrete and definite. Ideologies, on the other hand, cripple economies and traders like nothing else, they bring on corruption and numerous opportunities to backstab the competition if you can´t beat it by worldy virtue alone. People know that, in Turkey as well as in Egypt. We´ve all known it here in Europe not too long ago, when the Catholic church still tried to define from offstage who was a good citizen worth your support and who was not. You can be a very religious person and still be glad that these times are over.

  • State of Alert in Egypt after Breach at Israeli Embassy
    • So you suspect this might have been agitation and arson. But who is the true arsonist?

  • Obama on Libya vs. Trump, Palin, Bachmann, Romney, Gingrich and Carrot Top
    • Call me racist but, for me as a European, the north african Arabs are our next-door neighbors. If I was given a choice to help the poor people from North Korea who are currently starving among other things or the Libyans, I´d once more go for Libya.
      Read Juan´s part about Churchill and think it over again: did the positive effects of the US financial and structural aid to various countries after WWII outweigh the facts that it was distributed grossly unfair? Countries like Poland that suffered the most got the least help, mostly because helping them got simply too difficult. Is that a reason to withdraw any help altogether?

    • Thanks for the summary, I feel the same way and I feel so much better now then a week ago. (Only please remember that the Serbs dealt with Milosevic in a very different way then Romania did with Ceaucescu... couldn´t in fact have been more different, not a very flattering memory for Serbia... oh well.)

      on Trump, Palin, Bachmann, Romney: do you have to reply to every dog barking in the street? I mean... people who believe what THEY say don´t read your blog anyways, neither do they ... neither of them ever reads anything, because they just can´t care less how things outside of the US really are. It wouldn´t be that hard to understand once they took the slightest interest... you can´t change the fact that they simply are NOT interested by correcting them.

  • All Hell Breaks Loose in the Middle East
    • PS: for those who rightfully say "the Alawite minority rules the country and noone else has much of a say, not just the Druze and Sunni population of a single region" - yes, I know that. But in my eyes, that´s what´s making a power vacuum in a country like this so dangerous. Every ruler will be accused of putting his own people first (and probably will indeed be expected by his folks to do that.) Nothing is won for the Christians, the Alawites, the Kurdish, the Druze etc. when the next president is a Sunni from Bosra, I think having someone from a relatively unpopular minority is an advantage because he´s got to work on his popularity. What happens to minorities when the ruler is from the majority can be studied with the Glaoua Berbers or the Rifi..

    • What do the clashes in Hauran have to do with the ethnic mix of that particular region? Easy to see why they didn´t take place in the An-Nusayriyah Mountains ...
      this is the first of the Arabian unrests that rather worries me right from the beginning instead of just inspire hope for the people. Its not to be expected that the secret police in Syria would act any less rapid and brutal then in the past, which is clearly repugnant to human rights. (They´re "only doing what they have always done" and I can relate to the Syrians that they want this era and attitude to be gone once and forever).
      Still I remember that people put great hopes in Bashar El-Assad. I didn´t get the impression that he personally was any worse a ruler then M6 or Abdallah, who will certainly "profit" from some pressure from the people below but nevertheless seem to be the best kind of insurance against anarchy, horrible blodshed and finally just another shady new "strong men". I can relate to such fears. I would wish for the Syrians that they take the Moroccan or Jordanian route.

  • How the No Fly Zone Can Succeed
    • Neither does it in my opinion. Same initial feelings as me, about both wars.

    • We don´t know how this will end, noone of us.
      I followed the events and I was scared nobody would come and do something for the poor folks in the east of Libya, who, Arabs, tribal people and not the only opressed people in the world or none of all that, were and probably still are in real danger of being killed within the next two weeks.

      If you´re dead, you can´t re-join peace talks later on when the world has finally made up its mind that the guy who killed you might, after all, have been a villain large-scale enough to do something about him. Qaddafi played that card like he´s always done - let them talk.

      That was one the things that infuriated me most about Bosnia back then - that it actually seemed liked politicians HOPED if they talked a little longer, their problems would solve themselves. Well, they did more often then not, the war was an absolute disgrace for the European neighbors.

      We´ve had quite a lot of none-of-our-business-talk here today in Germany... people tend to forget they can´t keep out of the matter entirely any more because by selling weapons and conducting business with Qaddafi but not with his people, we´ve all taken sides already. Apparently, the Swiss three-monkey-model sells best with voting cattle.

  • Qaddafi threatens to Join al-Qaeda as his Forces advance on Rebel Strongholds
    • @uninformed comment: which planet do you live on, do you think the rebels will get a parking ticket and have to pay three months´worth of community service?

      What else could this self-righteous brutal lunatic do to lose any right to rule his country for one single extra day? He´s done all he can already and you say "go home, get butchered, boys, enough for now. Peaceful transition, you hear me?"

      That´s adding insult to injury, and in a way, even to treason. Anyone in Libya who followed foreign reactions to the revolt e.g. on Al-Jazeera, Al-Arabiya or the Internet must have been under the impression that the world was behind them and an unrising like theirs was legitimate and promising just as the ones in Tunisia and Egypt were.

      Now, what exactly MAKES the difference, where were they wrong where the Egytians were right? The difference was the power-crazy lunatic who ruled their country who didn´t give a shit for the lives of his people, which was what infuriated the people on the streets in the first place (e.g. that they shot at funerals in the aftermath of - yes, mostly PEACEFUL protests).

      These rebels are schoolboys, shepherds, farmers, teachers, who probably had no idea what kind of nightmare would unfold half a year ago. When Qaddafi wins, they´ll all get butchered and the world looks elsewhere. This is an absolute disgrace and we´re all guilty in a way.

  • Qaddafi's Scorched Earth Policy, at Home and Abroad
    • Do you BELIEVE that? Qaddafi has a pretty uninhibited way to tell the truth or not. Whatever makes the puppet at the end of the strings dance!
      He probably gets up in the morning greeted by his computer asking him "who do you want to intimidate this morning?" When he types "USA" the computer spits out "Al Qaeda" and high oil prices", when he enters "Israel", the computer will reply "Instability" and when he types "Europe", he´ll get "illegal immigrants". He´ll then play exactly that card and have breakfast while his victims go "waaaah".
      He might have promised Berlusconi that he´ll take the refugees. He actually might have taken some. But don´t forget he was the reason why Libyans wanted to leave North Africa in the frist place.

    • while there doubtlessly are people who nurse the kind of wet dream that you decribe here, let me give a European reply to it:
      a) I doubt Obama is vain, ignorant and greedy enough to act like that - neither do I think he´s eager to spend that much of his time and energy on foreign policy battlegrounds.
      His agenda is mostly domestic - your scenario would put the trust of the American people in his capabilities as a Feldherr to the test - he doesn´t have all the time in the world to complete No. 1 show he´s worth No.2.
      His predecessor neither had nor wanted a (badly needed) domestic agenda and needed his Iraq war do distract from that fact...
      b) With all due respect, I think the days where the US had the capacity to achieve your scenario are gone

    • I don´t think it looks good at all at the moment for the rebels, in terms of ousting Qhaddafi anytime soon. Just a gut feeling, I hope I´m wrong... Four thoughts crossing my mind:

      1) If they are mostly left to themselves, is any side likely to ever win the whole country if it takes to the level of a tribal conflict?

      2) Might this problem motivate external powers (governments) to intervene because "they" (oil firms) need a definite partner to talk business to?

      3) If intervention follows via selling weapons not only to Qaddafi (at any rate, can´t change the past, he´s probably bought enough already) but also to his adversaries, we´re still waiting for the first time in history that this strategy won´t backfire - not only at the "friendly" nations who ship the TNT but also at the local population

      3) How do the armies of guest workers from all over the world go together with the army of Libyans apparently left out from big money? Will they coexist, how much did they actually know about each other before the conflict began...

  • Ras Lanuf Falls to Rebels
    • How about what we hear from Zawiya this morning? now that sounded serious in my ears, for the rebels (without any professional experience whatsoever). It looks to me on the whole, they´re stuck now, with Zawiya, Brega, Misrata going back and forth and back and forth for how long now....

      Is it time to get seriously worried for the rebels´ mission?

  • Kusha: Iran vs. Egypt: Qualitative Differences in Capabilities
    • My spontaneous answer to why the young protesters in Iran were not successful where their counterparts in Egypt and Tunisia were is:
      because their parent´s and grandparent´s generation is currently so exhausted, intimidated and disillusioned. Their grandparents remember being instrumentalized by a "revolution" that ultimately betrayed their goals, they also remember the never-ending bloodshed by the regime in the 80ties. Their message is more often than not "be careful and stay away from trouble" and "double-check who you stick your head out for".

      Depending on were events in Egypt lead to, Egyptians might tell their children the same sad lines of fright and resignation in 30 year´s time (I very much hope not. And I don´t state here that the Iranians are a frightened and negative people in general, the certainly are not!).

      As you mention the Russian revolution: 30 years after 1918 was the height of Stalin terror. Countless documents from that time bear an impressing witness how far you can go in terms of intimidating a whole people, ransack, brainwash, scare, torture them, if you only do it long enough. Long and perfidious: if 1918 hadn´t initially been something for the whole nation to believe in, it would not have caused so much speechless horror and paralysis.

      I think you can effectively terrorize an entire people into a state of near-paralysis if your ruthless enough, your people are exhausted and disillusioned enough, and you´re good at harping on ideological strings. None of that applies to the Egytians to any extent comparable to the Iranians.

  • 30% of Libya in Hands of Youth Movement
    • Have never watched any of his speeches before. Whow. Is he under drugs, something like a functional illiterate or suffering from Alzheimer´s disease - or is he always like that? Ceterum censeo, ahhhh. mmmh. Carthaginem esse, hmm, sort of, hmmm? delendam!!

      What will presumably happen to the guest workers from Bangladesh & other countries who are running the oilfields at the moment? Is it likely they´ll be target of hostilities? If so, is the abandonment of the oilfields a likely scenario?

  • Days of Rage in Libya, Yemen and Bahrain
    • How come we hear so little on Libya? Ghaddafi may have bribed his people and successfully excluded foreign media from his country. Nervertheless, there are very interesting thnigs going in in this country now as well and I´m having a hard time to find anything going beyond "we believe that there are unrests as well".

  • Scenarios for Egypt's Future: How Democratic Will it Be?
  • Wael Ghonim vs. Barack Obama: Change we Can Believe in, Yes we Can
    • with all due respect, could anyone in the position of the president of the United States do it right under circumstances like these?
      What Egyptians want most is independence. Some strong government that proves that Egypt as a country is ultimately free to act how the majority of its population thinks it should act, on a national as well as on an international stage.
      The situation is comparable to a teenager with a dominant parent. If the parent wishes to remain in control, he or she will try to convince his offspring that whatever he "suggests" is in his best interest. Even if this clearly is the case - and it has not always been true between Egypt and the US, which is not Obama´s fault - the major goal of the teenager will be assure that he is the boss in his own life. The best way to prove this is to do assume a position different from one´s parent, and be it for the sake of it.

      The only wise thing for any president of the US would be to shut up and restrain himself as much as possible when it comes to good advice. They´ve had too much of it.

  • Anzalone: The Muslim Brotherhood Myth
    • In my eyes, the Brotherhood is taking up something like the stance of the Haredim in Israel now.
      Most of you argue that they don´t represent the will of the majority of the Egyptian people, therefore, they don´t intend to do so e.g. by trying to be part of the future government. (All they said about this subject so far was indeed very reserved.)
      If one thing is true, the other certainly is wise, especially when you consider that in their eyes, their legitimacy comes from God alone (so they´re not entitled to go for compromises!). I could imagine they haven´t shaken off Hama and 30 years of oppression in Egypt yet.
      Still, if we come to the conclusion that the brotherhood acts careful and considerate at the moment and certainly wouldn´t impose Sharia law tomorrow even if they had the power to:

      we should carefully evaluate the implications of accepting ANY political element into ANY society that claims to receive its orders directly from high above. In my opinion, the real challenge is allowing them to lead their discussions about certain kinds of racism and injustice being justifiable, yet strictly banning it away from courts and public opinion. The Haredim in Israel are not exactly grateful, undemanding and quiet about all their extra rights. Who would welcome a Jehova´s witness political party into any Western country?

  • Why Egypt 2011 is not Iran 1979
    • Get a grip Julie. I was one of them (i.e. the German Tourists you quote). We knew each other by first name after we bumped into each other in Esfahan, Teheran, Yazd and Shiraz - not only the Germans but all the other Westerners, too, because we were so few.
      Egypt doesn´t make its money with cultural tourists but with the hordes being bused into Luxor each morning from the red sea resorts. They´re probably doing what you´d call "support women´s rights" by showing off their fat sunburnt bodies in spaghetti tops and men´s underpants (some of them by paying male prostitutes - what a fantastic display of emancipation!), but almost everybody is relieved when they´re leaving town in the evening. What great embassadors of western values and lifestyle they are!
      By the way, how come you know about the tourists in Iran? you weren´t visiting the country yourself as a tourist, were you?

    • "Many women who wear headscarves do so to legitimate their entry into the modern labor force and appearance in the public sphere." Exact same as in Iran (only definitely less stylish):-)

      Thank you for that summary, I found it very valuable!

      The question that continues to worry me, though, is how many Egytians get a share of the cake Tourism - and how many are manipulable because they feel left out. Of course you shouldn´t slaughter the cow that gives you the milk just because someone else gets a bigger share that you ... and a lot of people profit from tourism from the far e.g. because they produce goods for it.
      Traveling through the delta made me wonder though if the people there are aware of it.

  • Million-Person March Planned as Elbaradei made Opposition Leader
    • that´s a tricky one. according to Israeli newspapers, that´s precisely what Israelis are wondering themselves these days: how. is. our. government. going. to. react? since it was made a no-talk subject

  • Egyptians Defy Protest Ban, Plan big Rallies for Friday; Death toll Rises to 6
    • "Now opposition has someone to rally around."

      Is that so? Is Mr. Baradi charismatic enough to charm the youth? or will he be viewed as just another part of hated establishment and gerontocracy? Does Egypt have a generation conflict big enough to cause real turmoil or is it mainly that in the eyes of mosts Egyptians, Mubarak is overdue to and they don´t want his son as a successor?

  • Egypt forbids Protests a Day after it was Shaken by Thousands of Demonstrators, 3 Killed
    • I don´t know the answer, I´m just curious: how can one tell that the Muslim brotherhood does NOT surf on this wave?

      Egyptians have been fed up with Mubarak for quite some time now... but IMHO there are also more Egyptians who have quite a lot to lose when the situation gets out of control compared to Tunisia.

  • Egyptian Official: Israelis Might be Behind attacks by Sharks, which seem to be Beasts of Prey
    • Well, couldn´t that be putting ideas in people´s heads.
      I found the tension between police and government protecting tourism on one side and ... well, who exactly were they protecting us from? - on the other side almost palpable when I was visiting middle Egypt on an Archeology field trip in 2009. No chance to shoot people at Deir el Bahari ore on crusie ships on the nile any more?, well, throw some dead goats into the red sea offshore, it´ll do the trick in a much more subtle manner!

  • The Rumors of Multiculturalism's death Are Exaggerated (Against Merkel)
    • You´re projecting a problem that every Western European country has upon Germany because it´s making headlines in Germany at the moment. WHY it´s making headlines has correctly been explained by Astras already.

      Every German city deals differently with the problem of "Ghetto formation". Munich´s strategy to avoid it has worked very well so far, the Turkish population lives if not everywhere in the city to the same extent, still in areas of the city that are respectable and attractive to Germans as well (I live in one of them). Other cities have different backgrounds and different strategies (interestlingly, it seems like having had a very liberal government for long periods of the past is somewhat of a risk factor. Symptom for something else or cause, whatever?).
      With all due respect, if you compare the "Ghetto" situation in Germany to the one in the US, no urban American from whichever city is in any position to point a finger anywhere. Come and see for yourself, instead on solely relying on our written self-accusations please.

  • Have Terrorism, Floods, Poverty Left 1/3 of Pakistanis Mentally Ill?
    • Let´s not forget that 100 years ago, children were declared mentally ill (and thus unfit to leave Ellis Island and immigrate to the US) when they associated the picture of a rabbit with "food" instead of "cute".
      What is "mentally ill"? Sleep disturbance? Mood swings? Feelings of hopelessness? In the US, you might very well get a prescription for antidpressants for this these days. But who wouldn´t suffer from these symptoms with a permanently empty stomach, flea in the mattress and no idea where and how you will live a month from now? I´d say it´s rather a healthy reaction to feel depressed under these circumstances. It´s definitely a sign that you can still tell right from wrong even after having had to endure "wrong" for so long. And that, again, is the basis for national recovery once war and flood are over instead of falling into a state of agony like Haiti.

      Drug addiction on the oher hand is, under these circumstances, a very serious national mental health matter. I´m pretty sure that crises of the individuum constitute a dwindling pecentage of even those Pakistani mental health cases overall that do receive treatment. Most will be addicts, paranoid schizophrenics and manic depressives (like anywhere else on world independent of circumstance).
      So while it´s definitely important to feel with the Pakistani in their everyday worries, we better be careful to label something a mental illness before we´ve made clear what that is, for us.

  • Wikileaks on Hiding the War; and, American Security? Rethinking Afghanistan Pt. 6
    • Excuse me if I sound a bit bilious here, but what kind of plan does the leave-the-country-NOW-fraction have for Afghanistan? "Go home and let them fight their civil war alone" on which moral grounds?

      Was going there in the style it was done after 9/11 ever justified in the first place? What has changed since then (the civil war for sure isn´t new)? So it´s justified now to say "in the light of what we learned in the meantime (where exactly was the unpredictable part?) after we further sunk another country in the region further into chaos, we better go home now" because of what extra information? Because war can be a very ugly business and wrong decisions can have especially disastrous consequences here? Surprise!
      To prevent further loss of lives concerning US troops who are increasingly fed up with being in Afghanistan. That is the direct consequence of what happens to their morale when this kind of talk gets broad attention in their home country. They want to know what they risk their life for. If public opinion runs massively against it, US involvement in Afghanistan will end, that´s no more and no less then a self-fulfilling prophecy. The question of right and wrong, in my eyes, remains untouched by this. Don´t you think you owe the country a third option after all you´ve done to it in the first place? I think the US does.

  • Beck Subtext: Obama Planning to Assassinate Tea Partiers
    • Obama´s never been the figurehead of left-wing America in the first place. He has been elected by the whole country for his pragmatic approach, not because a majority in the US exactly agree with everything he stands for (in a country with some 100.000 people, no such person will ever exist).

      At the moment, he clearly loses his cool. Denying habeas corpus is definitely something he should be able to do without (on the other hand, under Bush, this wasn´t talked about but simply done). Totally agree with you that this is ugly and inexcusable.
      But again, I never saw Obama as the saint and saviour who´d achieve all the goals of left-wing intellectual america for the whole country because, face it, you´re a minority, he´s the president of the whole country and that was what he wanted to be all along. If you 10.000 plus politically informed guys want to convince (or at least stop) some 10.000 hardliners, you´ve got to do it yourself. Remember what happened with Khatami in Iran - he was the first promising head-of-state since decades, and people just couldn´t get enough changes fast enough and radical enough, he lost support, and that was the end of everything.

      Our mainstream media give him a good whacking for kissing-ass towards the right at the moment
      ("Obama und die Medien —Angst vor den Meinungsmachern"). That´s as far as I´d go.

    • Why "waste so many posts" -
      Because people like me from overseas who don´t always have the time to follow American media on top of the media of their own/neighbouring countries learn a lot from posts like these. From post and from the comments like the ones from Don, Cocomaan, Glen (the other one).
      You´re right, this might not be the place to gather information for Americans who have already heard most of the stuff discussed here via radio/newspaper before they reach work in the morning and thought about it. Whoever has an opinion already (weighed or not) is not very likely to change it while reading this, but for me, that´s not the point of this blog.
      I read it mostly for background informations on things going on on the Middle and Near East. I´ve spent enough time there to realize that a) most times, I don´t have a real clue why happened what just happened in Iran, Afghanistan, Irak, Yemen ... ... and, b), sadly, that holds true for most mainstream western media as well where it seems that neither readers nor journalists can care less. And yes, since I left the US more then a decade ago, I realize that I lost touch to what goes on in peoples heads as well.
      This is not for the sophisticated informed educated reader who has plenty of other sources - in m opinion, it´s for the globally interested one who is aware of his limitations and of the challenge that being informed globally poses.

  • The Hypocrisy of Netanyahu
    • "And since there is no Gazan state with which Israel can be at war, but only a squalid slum under the Israeli jackboot, it is not in fact legal for Israel to rampage about .....the idea that Netanyahu is yet again just doing his bit to defeat Adolph Hitler .... rings hollow indeed. It isn’t always 1938 or 1942, folks"

      It rather reminds me now of these times indeed - of how the Nazi regime went about their dealing with the Warsaw ghetto. They didn´t say publicly "we want to kill all of them and get over with it", it was rather a process of slow dehumanization. Any time, the desperate people in the ghetto fought back, a public (German) media outcy followed: "see how dangerous they are! See how dirty, lawless, aggressive they are! Daaaaanger to you! Danger to us all!" The sad thing is, this way to defame people works like no other kind of propaganda.
      ... if you don´t want someone to fight like a cornered rat you shouldn´t corner him in the first place, but the deep dislike for "cornered rats" is rooted somewhere deep down in the gut, leaves you prone to manipulation .... we should all think about it from time to time.

Showing comments 71 - 1
Page: