Thursday, February 22, 2007

Egyptian Blogger Gets 4 Years

A blogger in Egypt has received a 4-year jail term for his efforts. Apparently calling Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak a dictator is a bad thing. This is why some of us blog anonymously. Some bloggers live in places where they could actually go to jail for expressing their thoughts. Others, like me, simply don't want to have to deal with anti-Muslim right-winger harassment.

Monday, February 19, 2007

US Ready to Attack Iran

Well, let's see. The US now has several carrier groups and 2 destroyers in the Gulf. And according to this BBC article, we even have an attack plan ready. The trigger for such an attack would be either evidence of Iran building nuclear weapons, or evidence of Iran directly backing an attack causing massive US casualties in Iraq. Hmmm . . . Let me play Kreskin. I see . . . a man sitting in front of Congress, showing "evidence" of an Iranian attack. Wait, wait! Now I see a man showing pictures of an Iranian nuclear program.

Arms Fair

There's an arms fair going on in the UAE - the largest in the Middle East. Bring the kids!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Russian Middle East

President Putin of Russia has been visiting the Middle East. Yesterday he was in Saudi Arabia, and today he's in Jordan. Can you say "cold war redux?" With the US on one side and Russia on the other?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

More on Iran

The Guardian has an interesting article on the US possibly attacking Iran. Read it here.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Palestinian Agreement?

There's been a lot of factional fighting among the Palestinians lately, and they ended up in Mecca, trying to reach an agreement. Apparently they have. Hamas will keep the prime ministership, and ministerial posts will be split between Hamas, Fatah, and some others, including independents. Let's hope the unity government works.

Armenian Genocide?

For those of you not aware of this topic, in the early part of the 20th century a very large number of Armenians were killed, probably around 600,000. Now, according to Turkey, this was not a genocide. The Armenians were fighting against the Ottomans Turks and the Turks fought back, and 600,000 Armenians were killed or starved to death. I'm not completely sure what the true story is, but I do know a lot of Armenians died. You generally hear this referred to as the Armenian Genocide. To quote a genocide is "the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group." So, the Turks don't like this talk of a genocide. There's currently a resolution in the House of Representatives about the Armenian Genocide, and Turkey does not want it to pass. They say it will mess up US-Turkey relations. Is this a big deal? Possibly. After all, we're talking about a country that prosecutes its most famous writers for "insulting the Turkish nation." And with US cachet being at a very big low, the last thing we can afford is to lose Turkey. After all, it's right next to Iraq, and we have a base there. So this might get interesting.

Al-Qa'ida in Arabia

According to Qatar's Gulf Times, al-Qa'ida has announced it is stepping up operations on the Arabian peninsula, in order to drive out the "crusaders."

Not Al-Qa'ida

I remember hearing this morning that we'd launched an air strike in Iraq and precision-bombed a building and killed 8 al-Qa'ida operatives, and not injured any civilians. My spouse cynically reminded me that anytime the US Military makes an announcement like that, it's because something has gone wrong, and that 2 weeks later we'll see the real story on page 40 of the newspaper. Well, according to BBC News - and I think it's the correct air strike - it wasn't al-Qa'ida but Kurdish Peshmerga troops. You know, the ones on our side.

Jerusalem Fighting

Well, there's fighting going on in Jerusalem around Al-Aqsa Mosque. Protesters vs. Police. See the articles on BBC and France24.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Child Soldiers?

According to reports on France 24, about 15 British soldiers sent to Iraq were under the age of 18. That goes against UN protocol which forbids child soldiers in war.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Update: Iran, anybody?

Well, according to links on VidiotSpeak, that was not the first but the 2nd carrier group heading to the Gulf. My original post mentioned the story from Al-Ahram. Vidiot also mentions there are now 2 destroyers heading that way as well. And of course, that means it's a good time for Iran to hold wargames. I mean, the Gulf is so freaking huge there's no way that could go wrong!

Good Morning Orientalism

Well, I was watching Good Morning America this morning. Diane Sawyer is in Syria, so Robin Roberts & Chris Cuomo were holding down the station. Apparently Diane was going to be visiting a souk (or suq). Robin referred to that as some sort of "Syrian market," and Chris proclaimed that we would be shown some of the "wonders of the east." It truly amazes me how ingrained orientalism has become in our society.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Iran, anybody?

Well, things are heating up a bit. According to al-Ahram, the US has moved 2 aircraft carriers closer to Iran (I'm not sure if this is the 1-2 I had previously heard about or if these are new ones - I'll try to find out). And we're moving Patriot missile systems (for defense) to most of the Gulf States. Also, 2 US generals and an admiral published a letter in the Times about why we shouldn't attack Iran.

News of the Weird: Qur'anic Ringtones

Apparently quite a few Muslims have been using Qur'anic verses as their ring tones, because they believe music is prohibited by Islam. Well, the Grand Mufti of Dubai just issued a fatwa prohibiting it. According to him, that's basically sacrilege. I can't help but be reminded of the early days of radio in Saudi Arabia. Supposedly, the only way to get the ulema to approve of radio as not being Satanic, was to read the Qur'an over the airwaves. Looks like things have reversed now.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Bush Lied: Say It Ain't So

According to this article from the President's numbers are off. Apparently, adding another 20,000 troops to Iraq will also entail adding support troops to, well, support them. So the final number could be as high as 48,000.