Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Ayatollah Sistani returns to Iraq

As the battle in Najaf continues, the Grand Ayatollah Sistani has returned to Iraq after his brief stay in the UK for medical reasons. He is planning to go to Najaf to use his influence to end the violence, the futile death of innocent people & more destruction of the city & the shrine of Imam Ali. Shias all over the world will be celebrating Imam Ali's birthday on Sunday, August 29, which will be Rajab 13 on the Islamic calendar. Rajab is one of the holy months for Muslims and comes 2 months before Ramadhan - the month of fasting. Interestingly, it is Iraqi forces that are approaching the shrine in attempt to quell the rebellion & many are hesitant to hurt their fellowmen.

However, Defense Minister Hazim al Shalaan said at a US army base outside Najaf. "If they do not, we will wipe them out." On al-Jazeerah, he said, "If Muqtada al-Sadr will surrender himself, that would be superb. He will be given safe passage and treated with perfect respect. But if he refuses, he will face either death or prison." or words to that effect. Obviously, the al-Hayat report that PM Iyad Allawi was trying to rein in Shaalan was incorrect; either that, or Shaalan has more pull with the Americans than Allawi does (from Informed Comment). Will be interesting to see the turn of events.

The Kerry campaign is being haunted by the swiftboat ad & trying to counter it in several ways. A NYT report suggests that the Bush campaign's top outside lawyer said Tuesday that he had given legal advice to the group of veterans attacking Kerry's Vietnam War record and antiwar activism in a book, television commercials and countless appearances on cable news programs.Read John Kerry's testimony against the Vietnam War in April 1971. The passion is unquestionable, and I agree that since then, he has lost much of his liberal politics. However, when I compare him to Bush, his words back then sound like music to my ears & give me hope that a Kerry Administration will have more to offer than the current one.

Grim news continue to come in as the investigation into the torture at Abu Ghraib has been advancing. I still beleive the humilitaing tactics were sanctioned from the Penatgon's top officials. I hate to allow Hollywood movies to taint my opinions, but the story in A Few Good Men, was pretty clear about the secrecy involved in certain military practices. One also cannot ignore that prisoner abuse accusations are also coming in regarding detainees in Guantanamo Bay & Afghanistan.

On a lighter note, here's an article about being opinionated: is it good or bad? What are the cultural & societal ramifications? Is it tolerated from men more than from women? Check out Gosh, I wish I hadn't said that!