Thursday, August 31, 2006

Child trafficking

The main causes of child trafficking are poverty in their country of origin and family disintegration. Such children are sold by their parents, kidnapped or lured to take a journey for a better life. The problem doesn’t lie just in host countries alone. Countries of origin should have the mean to protect its young population from the delinquencies. Education centres should be setup to save those trapped. As long as children are available for trafficking, a dissolved network engaged in such an activity will be replaced by another. The solution is not legislating laws, but finding concrete means wherever these children happen to be to stop them from being trafficked around.

Smuggling adults or post-teenagers seeking work can be less embarrassing; in that, these people seek work. Their existence can raise political debates. But child trafficking raises moral issues. Accepting this on European soil is simply accepting human rights violations in a more abject manner.
Illegal immigrants can have a legalised situation through time. But it remains unimaginable to make child prostitution legal in any country.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Career Women & Marriage

In developed countries it is a foregone conclusion that, in most cases, if a man is set on marriage he will meet a career woman since women have become a major force in the market although discrepancies still remain for top jobs. But this fact is creeping in developing countries. Some work areas recruit more women than men such as the textile industry, nursing.

A lot of men are resentful to see women at the top because of their chauvinism. When it comes to marriage, a man likes to be the boss in the house. For that, a woman with a career -especially superior to his- finds it difficult to have the last word.

A man still sticks to his sense of superiority to women. It is no wonder if the majority of men prefer for their marriage a woman who is less old, less tall, less rich, less educated, less situated in work than them. Some women, if not the majority of them, take pride in marrying men superior to them to show themselves and their surrounding how valuable they are. In a sense, women brandish the equality law just to have a status in society and to be independent. When it comes to relations or marriage it is nature that dominates. A man feels pride in protecting a woman and she, too, takes prides in being protected. A man seeks protection from a woman emotionally, rather than financially.

As career is about income and responsibility, some men find it difficult to adjust to the fact that the women with whom they share the same roof can be a person inside the house and another in the place of work, where they have professional responsibilities entailing professional relationships. Men, in other cases, resign to women with a career just for economic reasons or fir fear of not being able to have any prospect of marriage at all. it has now become rare to find a woman ready to sacrifice her career to be blessed by marriage, which at any time can end in divorce.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Nasrallah, Regret & self-mockery

Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah expressed his regret about triggering a war with Israel. In other words, he confessed his political immaturity. His political short-sightedness led him to think that he would changed the course of history in the Middle East probably as it had been revealed to him in a dream from a messenger.

Many upstart politicians depend on stirring the public emotions to achieve popularity. Hassan Nasrallah had his heydays for more than a month in which he was portrayed as the new hero or the new superman of the Middle East. After the ceasefire, he was bold enough to declare victory despite the devastating damages.

His regret is an implicit recognition that he has given more than he has taken. To free a score of Lebanese in Israeli jails, he caused the death of at least 1000 people and the injury of thousands others. To free Shabaa Farms, he caused the destruction of considerable areas in Lebanon.

His expression of regret is an admission of defeat. He has never expressed sorrow for the damages Israel suffered because of his rockets. But his declaration can be seen an “olive branch” to Israel or simply an order he received from his masters in Syria and Iran. Basshar Al Assad of Syria retracted his derogatory statements about the conduct of some Arab political leaders during the war.

If Nasrallah has learnt his lessons and means his words, politically he will have to make it easy for the UN peacekeeping force to succeed in its mission by not envisaging any other foolish act that will stir Israeli retaliation. The good news can be for the UN to send the agreed number of forces at least to test Nasrallah on his public expression of regret and desire for peace.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Rape in Muslim Countries

In many Muslim countries, rape is common but the idea that there should be four witnesses to prove the rape can be hard to produce as rape can take place when the aggressor and the victim are totally alone.
Some women prefer not to report the rapist for fear of scandal as sex outside marriage or rape is seen as dishonouring their family.

The Islamic law or sharia condemning the aggressor to flagging or death is practised in very few countries like Saudi Arabia. In other Muslim countries like Morocco the penalty is imprisonment and a fine or the aggressor with the consent of the victim in case of deflowering her should marry her.

Another point is that in many Islamic countries rape within marriage isn’t recognised as the woman should be at the beck and call of her husband even in sexual matters. But in countries like Morocco, there are associations formed to help women in difficulties with their husbands, including the sexual abuse they can be exposed to.

In view of the traditional restrictions on sexual freedom in Muslim countries and the desire for a romantic relation, many women fall victims to rape resulting in deflowering which is considered as a loss of dignity for the woman and a dishonour to her family.

To deal with the problem of rapes and to have real statistics about it in the Muslim world, taboos on this should be lifted and open debates should be organised to sensitise women about the legal procedures they should follow as well as sensitizing societies and families to provide the victim with support instead of looking down on her as a shame to her surrounding.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Kidnapping for Money & Statement

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Kidnapping is a form of terrorism. The reasons for kidnapping are many. They can be for some political organisations a means to get publicity or it can be for spreading fear or simply to get ransom.

Kidnapping has become a business in some countries like Brazil where people are kidnapped for money. But there were famous case of kidnapping ending in murder like the late Italian Prime Minister Al Do Moro who was kidnapped and later found dead on the street in Rome. Lebanon, during the civil war as notorious for kidnapping westerners by political organisation as a pressure on their countries to comply with their political demands.

There have been different cases of kidnapping of all sorts. There was the kidnapping of UN keeping soldiers in Ivory Coast, the kidnapping of tourists in Algeria and yemen, the kidnapping of journalists, just to give some examples.

At present Iraq has become one the most notorious places for kidnapping. None is excluded. There was the kidnapping of diplomats, businessmen, policemen, workers of Iraqi or foreign nationalities.

But dealing with kidnappers should be done carefully to save the life of the kidnapped and not to yield to their demands, especially when it is about ransom.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Iran Growing Influence?

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Iran is using the current situation in Lebanon and its confrontation with USA over its nuclear programme to find more fuel for support in the Muslim world which increasingly sees the USA as a malevolent power trying to influence their traditions and shape their identity. Iran as a Muslim country uses this asset to galvanise support based on religion. The Muslim world sees in Iran an alternative to change the course of events in the Middle East.

Economically Iran is banking on its geographic position in a region rich in oil and of which Iran is a great supplier.

But Iran can’t achieve its goal of toppling US influence in the region if it is itself confronted with sanctions, weakening its power and leaving it stand alone among countries in the region that have no choice but to remain US allies.

The past events have shown that many figures gain popular support by standing to the US whether they are head of states as it was the case in Iraq where Saddam was humiliatingly toppled and paraded on the media after his capture. Kaddaffi, Libyan leader had to abandon his nuclear programme to win US friendship. Iran has a history of confrontation with the US since the establishment of Iranian Revolution. There have been rounds of diplomatic confrontations prior to the nuclear programme. Time will tell how the US and Iran will work out their deep differences without either losing face or involving the whole region in complete instability or ruin similar to what we are witnessing in Iraq or Lebanon.

Migration, Causes and Consequences

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Migration is the consequence of the economic and political problems facing the countries where migrant come from. There are many people who are forced to migrate because of drought, civil war or political repression. There are many displaced people in Africa for whom leaving their country is the only way-out. Africa, in particular, is in the news because the would-be migrants take huge risks, including death, to reach European shores.

These migrants are starting to cause political embarrassment for their countries, the recipient countries and the countries they take as a transit. There is mainly great pressure on European countries, mainly, Spain and Italy which are the nearest to Europe.

The great loss that developing nations face is brain drain. There are many people from the third world with good qualifications. Their countries don’t give them incentives or find them jobs. Developed countries remain their destinations.

But rich countries and the governments of the countries where the migrants come from bear responsibility for this. G8 in particular failed many times to concretise its goal to make poverty a history. The governments of the migrants are inefficient in dealing with economic and social problems. The international community should work together to regulate migration, which is becoming a source of pressure on all sides, breeding just networks for which people smuggling is a lucrative industry.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Terror and Paranoia

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Two men of Middle Eastern appearance raised suspicion when they were on a plane. . They were taken off a flight bound for Manchester after some passengers became alarmed about what they regarded as suspicious behaviour. Then they were allowed to resume their journey.

From this incident, it seems appearance is not the only criteria needed to become suspicious of someone based on ‎their race or clothes or even their look. A would be terrorist can be of European ‎decent, recruited by a group. They can use him to blow up a plane if he escapes ‎stringent security measures. There was the case of John Walker, the American caught ‎in Afghanistan in 2001 fighting with the Taliban. There was the case of John Reid ‎who had explosives in his shoes. In Morocco, after the terrorist attack in Casablanca ‎on May 16th, 2003, a Frenchman was found among the terrorist group that was behind ‎the attack.‎

‎ It is not enough to mount strict measures just in UK and USA to face terror on flight. ‎The same measures should be in all international airports. If a terrorist can’t make it in ‎UK, he will try his “chance” in another major airport where there are American ‎airliners.‎

A would-be terrorist can look cheerful on the flight without raising any suspicion, ‎engaging in a lively conversation and telling jokes. What is needed is thorough ‎examination of passengers and the detection of would-be terrorists before even they ‎get close to the airport. Once all the passengers are stripped of any suspicious material ‎before they get on the plane, any suspicion will be just the result of paranoia ‎

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Baby Boomers Turn 60

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The US baby boomers witnessed and forced changes in their society. That era was marked by sex, drug and rock n’ roll. America had, to a large extent, been shaped by the forceful ideas of the sixties.

But age must have brought up changes in the attitude of these baby boomers. Those who are now in power have different views as they are faced with the reality of the world. Pt Bush who in his youth was alcoholic and maybe drug addict has changed side and become one of the ferocious advocate of conservatism, ready to wage wars for US interests.
Many of the BB are parents or grand parents struggling to perpetuate family values according to their views after being conservative in their youths was considered as reactionary. Their impact is still felt as a lesson to all.

In many third world countries, there was a baby boom. Their concern was to reduce birth rate. But these baby boomers didn’t have a great effect on the course of things. The majority of them were illiterate, under political systems struggling for survival or putting the basis for a modern state following independence. So we can talk just about the achievements of baby boomers in the developed countries where these babies boomers were fighting for their rights and the right of others like blacks in the US, because in their countries they had freedom of expression.

The current generations are faced with a new reality. They inherited much from BB. But the age of new technology and their incessant aspirations for a better life economically, culturally and socially will be assessed in what the world would look like in view of the spiral changes on all levels.

Friday, August 18, 2006

War of Words and Make-believe

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After the ceasefire following the relentless attacks and counter-attacks from ‎Hezbollah and Israel, the field was left to the war of words as militarily nothing was ‎achieved for Israel or Hezbollah. Israel didn’t manage to return its captured soldiers as ‎it failed to completely disarm and destroy Hezbollah. Hezbollah didn’t get the release ‎of Arab prisoners from Israeli Jails as it didn’t mange to get Israel out of Shebbaa ‎Farms it claims to be Lebanese soil.‎

But in view of the big mismatch between Hezbollah force and Israeli force both in ‎men and equipment, Hezbollah can claim victory in that Israel destroyed more ‎civilian installations than military ones and it killed in its raids more civilians than ‎Hezbollah fighters. In a sense, Hezbollah force remained intact. ‎

Hezbollah also won huge popularity, especially in the Muslim world at the expense of ‎Israel that has been portrayed as an aggressor. During the war, there were big ‎demonstrations in many Muslim countries as there were “victory” celebrations at the ‎start of the cease-fire. Hezbollah seems not to have disappointed its backers Syria and ‎Iran as through its confrontation with Israel it stirred the international community to ‎take action including sending huge peacekeeping force.‎

Hezbollah can now use its TV channel Al Manar showing footage of its struggle ‎against Israel, the damage, human and material Israel left in Lebanon to keep hold of the hearts and minds it has won. Hassan Nasr Allah may give himself the ‎right to be the new idol in the Muslim world and the Middle East. ‎

Hezbollah has more time to be in the news as there are still international preparations ‎for completing the peacekeeping force. When all is quiet, it will no longer be in the ‎news drawing such an interest. Then it will have the real task of keeping its credibility ‎among the Lebanese population and its stature among Syrian and Iranian leaders, its main ‎supporters.‎

The international community has to see the outcome of this war in its context. It has ‎to look to Lebanon, the country and to resurrect it from the rubble it is under now ‎instead of letting it continuously remain the battleground where proxy wars are made and in ‎which the civilian population pay the heaviest price.‎

Forgotten Conflicts and Media Focus

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There is the old saying that good news is no news. The events that attract more ‎attention are those that are about deep troubles or crises. Good news can be a one-day ‎event without follow-up. So do areas of little international importance where the war are waging have become forgotten like DR Congo. ‎

There are some parts of the world that are almost daily in the news because of their ‎impact on international affairs as they draw public interest as well as the involvement ‎of international leaders . Iraq has been prominently in the news since 1991. There ‎isn’t a single day in which we don’t have a report of violent deaths and destruction. ‎

But in general people get more interested in local and regional news. International ‎news can become of second importance if they are about a distant country. Daily news ‎in general has to do with age group and personal interests. Economic news attracts ‎less attention than political news except when there is a major stock market crash.‎

The Middle East has been at the focus of international news because it is a volatile ‎region. The most notable countries are Israel, Iraq and Iran‎
But for other countries as in Africa, they are rarely in the headlines on daily basis ‎despite the cases of refugees, diseases, famine and civil wars. Perhaps their cases ‎don’t look newsworthy as they don’t have a great international impact.‎

Whatever focus news media give to a topic, the public decide what to follow or ‎simply change for entertainment news without caring deeply about what is going on in ‎troubled areas around the world.‎

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Pardoning Executed Soldiers

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There are many soldiers with perfect military training. However, like ordinary people, they ‎prefer to live in peace. Others feel boredom because of remaining confined to their ‎military barracks with no battle to wage, where they can show their heroism. Prior to ‎British military involvement in troubled countries, especially Iraq and Afghanistan, ‎many British pilots felt bored because there was no fight to make.‎

But there are other soldiers who object to go into war on moral grounds. These are ‎conscientious objectors. There were cases in Israeli army where some soldiers refused ‎to act in Gaza or the West Bank during Palestinian Intifada or uprising. ‎

It remains problematic that a soldier refuses to be in action. If the whole army is of the ‎same opinion, the country remains defenceless. Soldiers are trained to obey orders, ‎and to sacrifice their lives for their country. Deserting the army is a treason, which ‎means unpardonable.‎

But talking about pardon, there were cases of national reconciliation as in South ‎Africa after the end of apartheid or Argentina after the end of dictatorship. Many ‎alleged abusers were not brought to trial. Very few were tried.‎

So talking about pardoning dead soldiers for refusing to carry their military duty ‎should be equated with those who committed national atrocities. If it is in the national ‎interest of many countries to turn a new page and let the past buried, the same should ‎apply for prosecuted soldiers, at least for the honour of their families. They should ‎enjoy pardon as long as they were not involved in national treason, crime against humanity or their motive was ‎groundless.‎

Living in a Multicultural Society

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Living in a multicultural society can be a wonderful experience. It is a chance for its ‎members to enjoy human richness culturally. When it is a mosaic of communities, one ‎has the chance to know people of different religious and cultural backgrounds. But there some who are sceptic about multiculturalism.

But in the present time many multicultural societies, especially in Europe, are ‎suffering discord among its various communities. In the past, some of these ‎communities were arriving immigrants. Their first priority was to get sources for ‎survival. But the new generations of these communities have become full citizens, ‎enjoying full rights. So their demands differ from those of their ancestors or parents ‎who were just immigrants, struggling to adapt without having any political agenda to ‎influence the course of societies where they happened to be. ‎

However, their children are faced with identity problem. Legally they are the citizens of the countries where they were born. ‎But emotionally, they yearn to their origins. Because of the political power they now ‎have, they try to make their points. Some are members of parliaments, governments ‎and other high circle.‎

But the problem with some communities, especially Muslim ones, are looking to other ‎Muslim countries where there are religious tendencies that try to influence them. One ‎result of this is the birth of fanatic groups who become representative of terrorist ‎organisations. The dismantlement of a terrorist group –grown in UK but of Pakistani ‎origin - is an example of this.‎

Here we have an exchange case. As the West is exporting many of its lifestyle to ‎Muslim countries, with bad or good consequences, Some Muslim countries are ‎exporting their lifestyle to Muslim communities in the West. There are examples of ‎religious practices calling for tolerance, as there are others calling for extremism.‎

As the world has become a small village, where ways of life infiltrate different ‎societies easily, all societies should foster moderation. All populations should be ‎exposed to foreign cultures for appreciations and not for developing prejudices. In this ‎case, communities of different cultures will be a link between the host country and the ‎countries they come from. Such communities should work to improve the image of ‎their countries of origin, instead of being the cause of their embarrassment and shame.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Will Ceasefire Hold in Lebanon?

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The UN resolution is for a cessation of hostilities. But the ceasefire is unlikely to hold because the resolution didn’t redress the political problems in the Middle ‎East, the cause of frequent open hostilities, namely the Palestinian issue and permanent political borders between Israel and its neighbours, which are the core of these problems. It means nothing. Sooner or later trouble will re-emerge. ‎
Hezbollah and Israel are ideologically opposed. They will keep their mutual distrust. Hezbollah has military ‎and political power in Lebanon. The latest conflict has made it a new political power in the Muslim world, especially among the Muslim public.
The Lebanese army has little influence as it stood powerless in face of Israeli ‎attacks, as it didn’t have any power to disarm Hezbollah. Hezbollah has acted on its own, using its TV Al Manar ‎to propagate its ideology as it has used its militia to carry armed attacks, disregarding Lebanese officials who are ‎opting for moderation. It finds its strength in allying with Syria and Iran for whom Israel is enemy number one in the ‎Middle East. This means the Lebanese government despite its agreement the on cease-fire resolution won’t ‎control it. ‎
Israel is set to destroy Hezbollah by whatever means. The days of fighting showed the level of ferocity on both ‎parts. Each making signal to the other that future fights will be the same or more tense.‎
The war attracted too much attention. It settled nothing for either side. It just caused mere deaths, injuries and destructions.
In view of the complexity of the problem, with its wide implications for the whole region, permanent peace will ‎remain hard to achieve in the near future unless moderation is reached by all parties directly or indirectly ‎implicated in this stalemate. In other words, all international resolutions will remain a piece of paper whose ‎wordings can, in itself, give justification for restarting hostilities.‎

See the video link by clicking on the following items: Mid-East Peace Plan and Mark Malloch-Brown on the web page (August 2006)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Image of Muslims Following Foiled Terror Plot in UK

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Following the foiled attempts in UK to blow up planes in the air the Muslim communities in UK seem to be facing new threats as some of its members are seen to be behind such an attempt.
The terrorist attacks taking place around the world, especially in the 21st century have ‎been attributed to radical Muslims. These attacks reached wide proportion because ‎they targeted western countries like USA, UK and Spain. Some see Islam as the new ‎threat facing the globe after the fall of communism and the end of the Cold War.

In the mind of many, Islam is the source of terrorism or Muslims can’t live in peace. ‎They can justify this by the terrorist attacks of big magnitude that have taken place in ‎the West, by the sectarian violence in Iraq, by the fiery speeches of Iranian leaders ‎about Israel, by the threatening messages of Bin Laden and Azawhiri on Al Jazeera ‎TV. There are sections in Muslim societies or communities which condone and ‎support such acts.‎

Some fanatic religious leaders exploit the ignorance of their followers by instilling in ‎them hatred and contempt for other religious beliefs.‎

War and terror are the worst means to find solutions to political problems. It doesn’t make sense to use terror to make a point as it doesn’t make sense to kill John because Paul killed James. If terrorists think they’re doing justice to Islam by killing innocent people they’re wrong.

They are a threat to modern civilisation in which dialogue and democracy should prevail. Some Muslims are wrong in thinking the West is the source of their problems. Their inability to agree on a common policy or agree to disagree – as it is the case in Iraq - that makes them spell their anger on their fellow Muslims or on those they consider as infidel.

But let’s not forget that the majority of Muslims are for peace. The proof is that members of the Muslim communities in UK that tipped the British police about the plot. They aspire for ‎progress. In the West it is false to put the blame on any member of the Muslim ‎communities because of the fanaticism of the very few, who resort to terrorism under influence or by the desire to impose themselves on society because they failed to do following the norms. In the USA, the Mafia is directed essentially by criminals of Italian ‎origin. But this doesn’t mean all Italians should be seen as linked to it. ‎

Moderate Muslim societies and communities have the right to practice their religion ‎in appropriate manners and peace. The world should stand by them. Stereotyping them as ‎terrorists is paradoxically practising terrorism on them as anyone can’t trust them or ‎seek to have any relationship with them.‎

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Foiled Terror Attempt in the Air

The foiled attempt to blow up planes in the air shows that terrorist attempts have their ‎security measures match. These terrorists aim at causing the biggest scare around the ‎world and fuelling violence and giving their masters and followers what to cheer ‎about. They try to exploit any event like the war in Lebanon to give justification for ‎their deadly deed.‎

Planes are their targets. This is symbolic. They want to make travelling scary and ‎contact between people difficult. As they embrace an ideology based on narrow-‎minded dogma that sees liberal beliefs as heresy, they seek to make the world a hell ‎where free movement is taunted with danger. ‎

The terrorists are disastrously intelligent in the way they devise means to carry their ‎attacks. Security measures should be in advance of their attempts. The vigilant ‎securities measures have foiled many of them, although they had some “success” like ‎July 7 London bombing. But maximum alert should be kept to thwart their attempts. ‎The world should remain free, free as the air. Its air should not be hovered over by ‎terrorist crows and vultures. ‎
‎10/08/2006 17:32‎

As UK and USA are twin in foreign policy, sometimes standing alone on world stage ‎as it is the case of their policy in Iraq, both have to work jointly in fighting terrorism ‎at the national and international level. For terrorists, hitting UK or USA is the same ‎for them as Pt Bush and PM Blair frequently use the same diplomatic language when ‎talking about international crises, which terrorists use as a pretext to carry their deadly ‎attacks.‎

The world can differ with USA and UK about some political matters. But everyone ‎should unite to fight a common threat. If terrorists can’t make it in areas where ‎security measures are high, they can select trouble areas to swell the number of their ‎recruits, waiting for the opportune time to hit, wherever. ‎

Children and War

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When there is a war – as it is happening in Lebanon , children arte the most hit. They ‎are too young to cope with the trauma resulting from their ordeals. Some see their ‎parents dying, they see parts of blown up human bodies. This must have a tremendous ‎effect on their lives at present and in the future. By exposing children to such ‎atrocities without counselling or by educating them not to get involved in violence, ‎we simply prepare a generation full of hatred, seeking revenge for the loss of their ‎loved ones and a normal childhood.‎

In Lebanon, Hezbollah is training young children militarily. This kind of children, in ‎view of the tension in the region, can find it difficult to adjust to civilian life. They are ‎easy to brainwash, ready for attacks and suicide attacks. When grown up, filled with ‎religious and political dogma, they can be a threat to Lebanon itself, seeking to have ‎modern ways of life. ‎

In view of the religious mosaic of Lebanese society, they can be the instigators of a ‎civil war by refusing to live and let live – and by refusing to become part of the ‎mainstream, politically, militarily and socially.‎
The issue of arming children should have its fair share in today’s debate.‎

The children in BBC Haveyoursay programme were impressive. In addition to their ‎innocence, they were expressive of hope for peace. They sounded patriotic. But ‎unfortunately in their speech lies the stiffness that characterizes the adults hardliners ‎in their countries. They all stood for what their leaders were doing. ‎

But the final note in the conversation gave hope for optimism. The children said good ‎bye to one another hoping to talk another time, but not about war.‎

If children in all parts of the world were protected from the evils of politics, they ‎could build a solid bridge between them. Unfortunately adults leave their legacy in ‎their children. The parents of the children who were guests of the programme must ‎have been children or still unborn when the Middle East conflict erupted. Parents ‎should work not to let their children inherit ideologies that were born in different ‎circumstances. Children should live their life in peace.‎

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Rules of War

Human history is full of incidents of war. Chronologically there isn’t a single year in which we don’t have cases of armed fights within a country or between countries. Each nation has its share of war and tries to make it – in case of a big victory -a national occasion that is yearly celebrated.

Today we have different types of war that can be carried contrary to Geneva Conventions . There is War on Terror which needs a particular strategy, not involving just the army but all components of society.
There is the civil war as it is happening in Sri Lanka. There is the allegedly proxy war as it is happening in Lebanon where Hezbollah is fighting on behalf of Iran and Syria. Israel is doing it for the USA, which wants to eradicate all religious radicals in the Middle East.

There is also the war of words. But this war is very cheap. It doesn’t need military equipment or training. All you need is mastery of words to silence your enemy.

The equipments of many armies remain secret, especially if they have banned chemical weapons.
Armies in fight try to win by whatever cost. There are many armies that commit atrocities, especially in civil wars. There have been cases in DR Congo, Sudan and Rwanda. Little was done by the international community to stop it. The only thing it can do is to impose arms embargo. Even this doesn't succeed as there is a black market at least for light weapons.

In armed conflicts, it seems that the civilian population and installations are the main targets. Israel, unable to pinpoint the exact arms location of Hezbollah, makes random attacks. Hezbollah unable to reach Israeli military installations fire rockets. The important is that they reach Israeli land, wherever.

The war, despite the rhetoric remains subject to the law of the jungle. We have incidences in Iraq where some American and British soldiers showed disregard for military ethics. They engaged in rape, torture and killing of civilians.

When war starts, there is little to refrain it. Each army tries to keep its pride. For this it must do what it can not to show its weakness. Action must continue at whatever cost. It’s no wonder if Israel confuses military and civilian targets and if Hezbollah spares no missiles. Both sides seek to leave their landmark in the history of war.

War doesn't have rules because it is war. After the event, there are elaborate justifications, expressions of regret or celebration for the maximum damage inflicted on the enemy.
As long as there is a clash of ideologies and as long as the end justifies the means, there will little regard for internationally recognised rules of law.In each war there are reciprocal accusations of violations of the rules of war.
A war is a fight for survival. When it is raging, soldiers don't open the book of rules. They open fire with all the might they have.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Concluding a Debate on Religion and Nationality.

The debate carried by the programme World Haveyoursay for two days was like an “informal” academic forum on the old question: which should come first religion or nationality? Religion marked the history of mankind. For Christianity and Islam, they shaped the world we are living in today. There were Christian and Muslim empires. They disintegrated but they left their religion implemented. For example the Othoman Empire shrank to become today’s Turkey. But Islam remained in parts of Europe, like Albania. The British Empire introduced its type of Christianity, namely Protestantism in many of its colonies in Africa and Asia.

During colonialism the fight for independence, for example, in Africa was based on nationalism as the colonies there wanted to forge a nation.
In the Arab world, religion was used to fight for independence as the indigenous population was largely Muslim, and the colonial power was Christian. This was enough to provoke resistance.

Today religion seems to surface as a power for political shake-up in many countries long after their independence. It was the tool of repression in countries like Afghanistan under the Taliban who imposed a restricted and archaic view of Islam. There was ethnic cleansing in former Yugoslavia where the Christians carried genocide against the Muslim Bosnians.

Today we have instances of Sunni Muslims Shiaa Muslims in Iraq who daily kill one another and who ironically condemn Israel killing of Lebanese and Palestinian people.

As a conclusion to the debate, it’s good to have a religion as long as it gives guidance but it should not lead to extremism. The lesson to be drawn from the history of religion is to consider religion as a personal matter; nations should find a framework to unite under respect and cooperation. Borders should be dismantled, be it political, cultural or religious. Everyone should see themselves as a citizen of the world, for which everyone should care. Then the dilemma of religion and nationality will be of secondary importance.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Lebanon, a Bttleground

Lebanon has the misfortune of being geographically the cross link between Syria and Israel. Both of these have a history of animosity because of Syrian opposition to have normal ties with Israel. Both countries are still technically at war as Israel is still occupying the Golan Heights. In 2005, Syria was forced to leave Lebanon. This must be considered as a humiliation for it since according to its belief it had protected Lebanon from Israel total occupation.

But ironically it was sections of Lebanese society that allowed their country to be under occupation. During its occupation of southern Lebanon Israel formed an alliance with Christian militias under Michel Aoun.

Syria during its presence/occupation of Lebanon formed tight links with Hezbollah.

So both Syria and Israel, even after their departure from Lebanon left the seeds for future troubles. Israel didn’t surrender Shebbaa Farm to Lebanon, pretending it was part of the Golan. Hence it was Syrian, not Lebanese. Syria -during the period it was warned to leave Lebanon - must have worked to keep its influence there. It must have equipped its resistant allies, especially Hezbollah with weapons as it has left in power President Emile Lahoud, who it has put in power against the will of many prominent politicians like late former PM Rafik Al Hariri.

So Lebanon is theoretically an independent country. But at least since 1975, the year of the start of the civil war, it hasn’t enjoyed a single year of political independence free from outside interference, be it political or military.

The warring parts in the Middle East use Lebanon as a battleground. When they leave it they leave political and military mines behind them. It’s no wonder if it continues to be under such a state. When the peace in the whole region is established, then Lebanon can be an independent state in its own rights.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Is BBC anti-Israel?

The Jerusalem Post has accused the BBC of being anti-Israel. But The BBC should be accountable for reports made by its correspondents. There is an editorial board that works to broadcast balanced news and views. The fact that BBC is allowed to work both in Israel and Lebanon, carrying interviews from the makers and the shakers of the events taking place there shows well it has credibility on both sides.
But there are instances of live programmes like Haveyoursay in which speakers chosen from both sides air their views. There are speakers who are eloquent enough and well informed. They come up with convincing arguments. Others give shallow arguments.

Perhaps some want the BBC to record the programmes and to exercise self-censorship as it is done in some channels where the programmes are government oriented - as live ones can sound embarrassing.

The BBC has a history of ups and downs with Israel. An example of that was its documentary some years ago on Ariel Sharon’s implication in the massacre of Sabra and Shatila.

Let’s not forget its having been banned from Zimbabwe just because of reporting the truth and its being British. Reason enough for Zimbabwe government to expel it because Britain worked to expel it from the Commonwealth, following its farming policy.

As Israel has sophisticated weapons to wage war in Lebanon, it should use sophisticated media to wage media war for its account.

The BBC is an independent organisation. It is financed by the British government but not controlled by it. It has many times stood up to its attempt to censor it. Two examples, its documentary about the IRA more than twenty years ago and its documentary about Iraq alleged possession of mass destructive weapons about two years ago.

Religion or Nationality, Which Comes first?

History is full of religious bigotry. It was the cause of wars between countries as it was the cause of civil wars. Lebanon suffered from 15 years of civil war because of the struggle between Muslims and Christians. It is the source of unrest in many parts of India where Muslims and Hindus mount attacks against one another from time to time.

The international institutions like the UN seem to have failed to put a stop to Israel acts in Palestine and Lebanon. Some Muslims seem to have lost faith in them as they are put up by the west. To have a sense of unity, religion becomes a tool where a Muslim should defend a Muslim be it Shiaa or Sunni as long as they have a common enemy, namely Israel.

It seems that religion has become a means of protest and resistance for many people in many Islamic countries as they have become disenchanted with the policies of their governments. Some religious groups have affiliations or support for religious doctrines like those of Al-Qaeda. The statements made by Bin Laden or Al Zawahiri find more resonance than those made by political leaders. The daily violent killings in Iraq show that Shiaas and Sunnis are divided by religion. Iraqi nationality means little to them, as their country has become a battleground where they kill one another and ironically condemn Israel for killing Palestinian and Lebanese people during its military operations.

For a final note, nationality has become vague even in countries where there aren’t religious problems. Individualism has made many people think just of themselves. Some people live in clans or join clubs for a sense of identity and belonging. In modern societies, sport has become the national pride. Stadiums and sport channels are the most frequented venues. It seems many people want to have an easy life where game should take precedence over conflict. It’s better to see people in the street celebrating the victory of their national teams than lining up the streets to watch victorious armies returning home after ample killing and destruction.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The War in Lebanon, Actors and Spectators

As Israel is setting the agenda for its military action in Lebanon, ironically to pave the way for an international force after the fight is over, it seems Israel is dictating to the world what should be done. It should wait for the go-ahead from it. So diplomacy under any form is a waste or time. The international community is doing the talking under different forms, sometimes soft, another time tough, while Israel is doing the toughest actions under the eyes of an indignant but passive world.

Hezbollah seems hardened by the effect of the strikes and having its morale lifted through the support it gets inside Lebanon and from some governments and people alike. It must feel that it is remaking history through armed resistance, which , for it, Arab governments in the region have failed to do. It tries to put them to shame by indirectly waging propaganda against them as most of them are US allies and some of them have diplomatic ties with Israel.

Hezbollah must have the rare chance of being under the spotlight internationally. Now it is the subject of talks in every circle. Without such a fight, it could have remained in the dark, known just through its TV channel Al Manar.

Both Israel and Hezbollah try to capitalize on this event. But they don’t seem to have calculated its cost for the present and the future.

Now having the pictures filled with smokes from small and big guns and tumultuous voices from the actors in the scene, the spectators and the critics, the whole action is confusing, making understanding and deduction hard to reach about a scenario that daily needs re-planning.

Cuba, with or without Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro has relinquished power to his brother Raul Castro, following a medical surgery.
But under his rule, Cuba missed the chance to be a prosperous island. It has been under the dictatorship of a communist regime which sees its neighbour the USA as a giant worthy of fighting instead of becoming liberal and enjoying the benefits of a political and economic alliance with it.

Its proximity from it could have made it a tourist resort for the wealthy Americans. But Fidel Castro opted to make a pact with the Devil by allying with the Soviet Union. During this alliance Castro regime had a honeymoon period. He enjoyed full support from Soviet leaders. Cuba had good social services, for example it had the best health care, not enjoyed in the Soviet Union itself. But Cuba was only exploited by the USSR. It wanted to make of it a window/ façade for other countries to show them the prosperity communism can bring to people.

With the fall of communism, Cuba economic situation plunged. Fidel Castro became like Dr Faustus who had sold his soul to the devil, faced with economic hardship and cajoled with lip services from “progressive” regimes.

Now Cuba altogether needs a surgical operation to recover from its accumulated ills. The continuation of a dictatorship will make no difference if either of the Castros, Fidel or Raul, is in power. What Cubans need is a new era where they can get the breeze of freedom and not a bloody nose when they try to revitalise their political scene with a new, vigorous and young blood, instead of remaining under the grip of the dictatorship of an ageing elite of . An elite whose principle was to free the Cubans from a regime it had deemed reactionary. But it has ended in enslaving them under the banner of propaganda which offers too many promises but very few results on the ground.