MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Saddam: Divisive death of a demonic dictator
By now everyone knows that Saddam Hussein, former dictator of Iraq, was hanged this morning at 6:00 AM. Iraq time.
There can be no doubt that Saddam was guilty many times over, and that he caused the execution or death of countless people without a semblance of any judicial process. Nonetheless, the execution is questionable, and has brought protests from the UN and others.
Prophet and Loss Statement 2006
As is our yearly custom, below is a review of our Crystal Ball predictions for 2006. The correct ones are in bold, the errors are in italics, and those that are half and half are in bold and italics. Overall, by my reckoning, about 26 of the 37 (70%) predictions we made last year were approximately correct. There were also some nasty surprises. We did not predict the election of Hamas or the war in Lebanon and bombardment of northern Israel (failures we share with Israeli Military Intelligence and Mossad) or the subsequent face off in Beirut that is still ongoing.
The Israeli peace offer that was part of the platform of the Kadima party seemed like the surest bet among all the predictions. Because of the rise of Hamas and the war with Hezbollah, the predictions were only partly fulfilled, very late in the year, and the offer has not gotten down to details about borders yet. However, an offer very close to what was outlined below is being mooted by Israeli FM Tzippi Livni, and PM Olmert made a conciliatory speech offering prisoner exchanges and referring to the Arab peace initiative, and he did meet with President Abbas and promise to remove checkpoints.
Some of these predictions may seem trivial in retrospect. Remember them however, the next time you read that the US is about to invade Iran or that Bashar Assad is about to resign. Last year at this time I wrote: "However, this year there are numerous uncertainties. Once can at least hope we have picked out the right events to watch, but the outcomes may be quite unforeseen." We missed a few of course. [more]
Monday, December 25, 2006
Iran: Laughing all the way to ground zero
Time out for a bit of history. The year is 1935. Italy had invaded Abyssinia, the League of Nations failed to stop it. [more]
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Abbas and Olmert - What meeting?
The long awaited meeting of Israel Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas took place on Saturday evening, December 23, with hardly any fanfare, and with hardly any results either. It should have been a "great event," but if you blinked, you may have missed it. [more]
Monday, December 18, 2006
U.S. Government and American Muslims Engage to Define Islamophobia
On December 4, 2006, the national leadership of American Muslims met with key senior U.S. government officials to discuss the state of Islamophobia in America and US Muslim relations. The conference was organized by the Bridging the Divide Initiative of Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. It was co-sponsored by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists.
Israel and Syria: Not missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity
History reveals strange and unpleasant truths. In a few years, it may be remembered that the worst error of the current Israeli government was not the mishandling of the Lebanese war or the failure to learn the lessons of that war. The worse error of the current government is probably being committed right now. [more]
Friday, December 15, 2006
Iraq - Arab-Israeli Peace Linkage - in which direction?
Almost everyone who knows, seems to agree that there is linkage between the Iraq fiasco and the Israeli-Arab conflict. There is linkage, but not in the direction that they think there is linkage.
The Iraq Study Group report proclaims, "The United States will not be able to achieve its goals in the Middle East unless the United States deals directly with the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Like so much else in the report, the statement is backed by nothing more than the authority of the study group. No logical reasons are given as to why, if the Israeli-Arab conflict is solved, the Sunni and the Shia and the Kurds of Iraq will lie down together, and a little child shall lead them. [more]
Friday, December 8, 2006
Iraq report: No wiser than we were
The much awaited Iraq Study Group (ISG) Report is almost universally decried as a disappointment. Since the problem of Iraq is probably not solvable, it was inevitable that this report would be less than brilliant. Still, it did not have to perpetuate and magnify many of the mistakes of the past.
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
Lebanon Crisis: What can be worse than violence?
Lebanon's latest crisis may be the terminal illness of Lebanese democracy. A Hezbollah led, Syrian-supported demonstration has paralyzed the government for six days. Lebanese loyal to the government, as well as Western and Arab nations, seem to be paralysed like deer in the headlamps of an oncoming vehicle. Everyone deplores the crisis and offers calm, but nobody is doing anything to resolve it or to help the Seniora government face down the Hezbollah. [more]
Tuesday, December 5, 2006
Eyewitness in Beirut: A Truly Divided Nation
A pseudonymous friend in Beirut sent this eye-witness report, on December 3.
A truly divided nation
Time will tell what today's developments in central Beirut will bring, but this morning's two major events are symbolic of the deep divide that separates the political camps which now make up Lebanon.
My Sunni Muslim wife and I returned at noon from the 2006 International Beirut Marathon, which had been postponed for one week because of the period of mourning following the assassination of the conservative Maronite-Catholic Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel on 21 November. Traditionally located in and around the predominantly Sunni old city of Ras Beirut, this event symbolically begins just across the former "Green Line" in predominantly Eastern Orthodox Achrafieh. To get to the starting point we had to pass by the now massive tent city surrounding the Serail, or Lebanese parliament, in which the democratically elected, so called 14th of March majority is now holed up. Seeing that we were obviously marathon participants, a likeable, young, orange clad guard, supporting former Military Commander Michel Aoun warned us to stay clear of the campers, many of whom would consider us to be "enemies of the nation" because we were not part of their opposition movement. [more]
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