Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Pakistan & Jordan on Iraq

Recently, two key US allies in the Middle East cast doubt on the state of Iraqi affairs. King Abdullah II of Jordan said, "It seems impossible to me to organize indisputable elections in the chaos we see today. Only if the situation improved could an election be organized on schedule. If the elections take place in the current disorder, the best-organized faction will be that of the extremists and the result will reflect that advantage. With such a scenario, there is no chance the situation will improve."

President Parvez Musharraf too did not present a pleasant scenario, saying Iraq "Iraq had brought more trouble to the world. Musharraf said the US is only fighting terrorism in "its current context," which is "not very farsighted." Check this article that appeared in my university newspaper, A new Iron Curtain threatens to divide. At the opening of the UN General Assembly last week, "borrowing a prophetic phrase from a 1952 speech by Winston Churchill, Musharraf asserted that Muslim grievances must be addressed “before an iron curtain finally descends between the West and the Islamic world.” That Cold War allusion is well chosen. Decades of blind U.S. support for Israeli and Arab dictators have laid a solid foundation for anti-Western sentiments among Muslims. Now the war in Iraq risks hardening the Islamic-Western divide even further. Five-hundred-pound bombs dropped in Fallujah might wipe out Iraqi insurgents, but they also create a new generation of Muslims embittered by U.S. actions. As if in response to Musharraf, Zapatero (Spanish Prime Minister) called for an “alliance of cultures” to strengthen political and cultural ties between Western and Islamic nations."

On a happy note, this week has seen the release of several foreign hostages in Iraq. Also, oil prices that had reached a level of $50 a barrel seems to be easing - many analysts were blaming it on the evacuation that was caused by the hurricanes & storms, along with instability in Iraq and renewed political crisis in Nigeria. "Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest oil exporter, had earlier attempted to reassure markets, saying it would raise production capacity by 1.5 million barrels to 11 million barrels a day."

Kudos to Market Place from National Public Radio on their investigation report, Power Trips: "Whether it is a weekend in Florida - or a week-long tour through the south of France - Congressional trips give lobbyists and their clients a chance to mingle with members of Congress in relaxed surroundings. Now an investigation for Marketplace by American Radio Works shows members of Congress have taken trips totaling more than $14 million in the last four years. The bill is picked up by outside interests doing business in Washington. This may just be a sliver of the hundreds of millions of dollars special interests spend each year to influence the political process. But paying for congressional travel has an outsized impact."

Also check this out from the NY Times: More than 120,000 hours of terrorism-related recordings have not been translated by the F.B.I., and computer problems may have erased some Al Qaeda recordings.