Friday, December 31, 2004

Latest developments in Iraq & Palestine

In Iraq from Informed Comment: “Ansar al-Sunna and 2 other guerrilla groups in Iraq have threatened to kill anyone participating in what they termed "the farce" of Iraqi elections.CNN is reporting that all 700 voter registration workers in Mosul have resigned after death threats. The guerrillas are alleging that the secular process of American-sponsored elections will result in un-Islamic laws. I don't see how Mosul can participate in the election under these conditions…That the Revisionist-Zionist extremist Daniel Pipes has fond visions of rounding up Muslim Americans and putting them in concentration camps isn't a big surprise. That a mainstream American newspaper would publish this David-Dukeian evil is. Of course, this is also a man that President Bush appointed to a temporary vacancy at the United States Institute of Peace, after the Senate understandably balked at a regular appointment for him. Pipes's little project requires him to attempt to justify the internment of American citizens (of Japanese ancestry) during World War II, a violation on several grounds of the Bill of Rights…If the American yahoos ever start putting people in concentration camps, I think we may be assured that they won't stop with the Muslims or the Asians, and Mr. Pipes will come to have reason to regret his imprudence and, frankly, his demonic implication…The Iraqi newspaper "al-Adalah" published on Dec. 23 the platform of the United Iraqi Alliance, the mainly Shiite coalition sponsored by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. It was translated by BBC World Monitoring. Since this party very likely will dominate parliament, it is worth looking at the platform.First, the coalition includes the following parties:
1. Supreme Assembly of Islamic Revolution in Iraq SAIRI [Or Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, SCIRI]

2. Islamic Al-Da'wah Party.
3. Centrist Grouping Party.
4. Badr Organization.
5. Islamic Al-Da'wah Party/Iraq's Organization.
6. Justice and Equality Grouping.
7. Iraqi National Congress INC .
8. Islamic Virtue Party.
9. First Democratic National Party.
10. Islamic Union of Iraqi Turcomans.
11. Turcoman Al-Wafa Party.
12. Islamic [Faili] Grouping in Iraq [Shiite Kurds].
13. Islamic Action Organization.
14. Future Iraq Grouping.
15. Hizbullah Movement in Iraq.
16. Islamic Master of Martyrs Movement.

As to the platform itself, it has two parts, basic principles and vision of Iraq's polity, and then specific areas of endeavor. As for basic principles: First, the Iraq that we want:
1. A united Iraq - land and people - with full national sovereignty.
2. A timetable for the withdrawal of the multinational forces from Iraq.
3. A constitutional, pluralistic, democratic and federally united Iraq.
4. Iraq that respects the Islamic identity of the Iraqi people. The state religion is Islam.
5. Iraq that respects human rights, that does not discriminate on the grounds of sects, religions, or ethnicities, and that preserves the rights of religious and ethnic minorities and protects them against persecution and marginalization.
6. Iraq that provides a climate of peaceful coexistence among Iraqis without preferential treatment for any group.
7. Iraq in which the judiciary is independent and in which justice and equality prevail. I'm not sure most Americans realize that the biggest and most important party coalition in Iraq, which will almost certainly form the next government, has explicitly stated in its platform that it wants a specific timetable announced for withdrawal of US troops from the country.

The rest of the statement promises security, fighting terrorism, a depoliticized military; a state guarantee of a job to every Iraqi, social security and workmen's compensation, state support for the building of houses for homeowners; providing health services and medicine and health insurance; supporting women's participation in politics, the economy and social life; support for youth and for families; developing industry and agriculture and the provision of basic services; education; etc.An independent foreign policy is promised, as is membership in the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference. [This plank implies non-recognition of Israel until there is a global peace settlement accepted by these two organizations). I think we are looking at the policies of the new Iraq. They aren't what Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld and Mr. Wolfowitz imagined.”

Another interesting article I came across from The Jordan Times talks about the clash of civilizations: “One by-product of the widespread “clash of civilisations” discourse overtaking discussion of US-Islamic/Middle Eastern relations is the idea that world citizens are either positioning themselves in agreement with or in opposition to the notion of a colossal clash of values between two distinct peoples. Peoples, here, are defined by religious faith and predispositions of thought and attitude based on ethnicity and geographical location…Meta-narratives describing a clash between “the Muslims” and “the West” have certainly been useful for pundits and politicians wishing, for various reasons, to frame the very complex state of today's international affairs in 30-second sound bytes which often replace the West with the word “good” and the Muslim world with the word “evil”… Serious observers of the root causes that fuel recruits for Middle East-based terrorism concur that the political problems are rooted largely in: 1) the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and 2) dictatorships in the Muslim world, and the support that has been given to them now and in the past by the United States…Unfortunately, in the United States today, these first two points of contention continue to be relegated to a “problems that cannot be named” status in public discourse, the open secret fuelling much of this conflict. The unnamable status of these conflicts has perpetuated massive confusion and misinformation in the United States about the grievances, concerns and worries of our interlocutors in the Middle East. Also underlying the problem is a profound misunderstanding between the so-called Muslim world and the West at the level of culture. Here, there seems to be two basic problems: On the “Western” side, what is needed is a realisation that concepts like freedom, justice, a decent standard of living, safety for children, and a good life are not the exclusive domain or desire of the West. For too long, many in the West have been deluding themselves with absurd notions that “Muslims”, “Arabs”, or those in the “Middle East” are simply not interested in such lofty concepts or do not have such basic human needs. This attitude is only possible through dehumanising the other, a perennial problem that must be addressed as a prerequisite to conducting all other work.”

In Palestine from The Guardian: “Israel was accused yesterday of undermining the election of a Palestinian Authority president by allowing only a few thousand Palestinians to vote in East Jerusalem. More than 100,000 will have to leave the city if they want to vote. The government has told the Palestinian Election Commission that it will not allow privacy screens in the voting booths in East Jerusalem post offices, nor will election officials be allowed to mark voters with indelible ink to prevent fraud. The prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has admitted that the arrangements are designed to show that Israel has sole sovereignty in East Jerusalem. Palestinians say it could make the election meaningless and reduce the credibility of the winner. Amar Dweib, the chief electoral officer, said that the commission had been told that 5,367 people could vote at five post offices in East Jerusalem. "We asked the Israelis to increase the number of polling stations, but they refused," he said. "I do not know the precise number of eligible voters in East Jerusalem, because the Israelis would not allow us to register them, but we think it is around 120,000. The rest... will have to undertake long journeys around the separation wall in order to vote." …Qais Abu Leila, leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, whose candidate, Tayseer Khaled, is third in the opinion polls (on 7%), said the Israeli obstruction would call the result into question.”