Monday, December 25, 2006

In Memory Of James Brown

The Godfather of Soul James Brown – who died on December 25th, 2006- was an essential part of the music movement that shook the world of music in the 60s. Contrary to some singers whose aim was just to entertain, he was, among other groups like the Beatles, calling for social and political change.

James brown influenced many generations, helped to break the cultural and political barriers mainly between blacks and whites. His music was unifying at least artistically, in that it was appreciated by all. He made blacks proud of themselves as black and the whites proud of shaking off their racial prejudices. Like many blacks who rose to stardom, he has become a part of influential music, an icon for millions for what he did and stood for.

Brown is dead but his music will continue to be alive. His eternity will be matched by the eternity of his music.

This short poem in memory of James Brown:

Oh James Brown,

King of Soul in every city and town,

You made glory your own.

Now you have gone,

Colour of coffee and chocolate.

You offered the world a plate

Of gold music to taste.

You will be greatly missed.

Before you leave, your face

Will be passionately kissed.

In your music you will be met

By fans still dancing to your beat,

Making an illusion your death.

James Brown King of Soul is dead.

Long live his music without end.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

UN Security Council Sanctions against Iran, Will they work?

The United Nations Security Council has unanimously voted to impose sanctions against Iran over its failure to halt uranium enrichment. But will these sanctions work?

Iran will continue its defiance of international call for its failure to halt uranium enrichment. For the Iranian regime, its nuclear program is a matter of survival against what it sees threats from the USA and its allies. Iran still has oil weapon in case the situation worsens in the Middle East.

As long as it has trading partners like China and Russia and as long as it has started using the Euro for its international trade in replacement of the dollar, it will have ways to circumvent the sanctions.

The other advantage it has is that this is not a total economic embargo as it was with Iraq under Saddam. The revenues from recent oil boom will help it cope at least for a certain period.

Sanctions against Iran can succeed if they were tougher. The US still has Iran's allies, mainly China and Russia, to persuade for global and not selective sanctions. Iran can still do with Chinese and Russian technology as the US has barred it from its key one since the start of the Islamic Revolution.

The Iranians have monetary reserves from their oil revenues to coax new trading partners in countries hostile to the USA like Venezuela.

The loss that the US can have in case these sanctions fail to make Iran halt its nuclear program is that Russia and China will become it rivals in the Middle East, creating a new balance of influence that can make US political calculations need total review.

In Memory of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, who has died aged 66

The authoritarian president of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, who has died aged 66, created a cult of personality during his two decades in power.

Despite his imposed personality cult, which seems laughable to many people, President Saparmurat Niyazov was benign to the rest of the world. He didn't seek to export his vision to the world by force contrary to the other existing presidents making themselves personality cults like Kim Yong of North Korea who sees nuclear arms as a shield from foreign influence.

Some leaders try to go down history thanks to their deeds and place in the world community. Others are happy to be self-centred and to see their place according to their image. President Saparmurat Niyazov was almost a living God in Turkmenistan. His book was the bible for his people. To make himself omnipresent he imposed his statues, pictures and name everywhere. But as a fake God, his “Holy Script” is likely to become a past if his people convert to real democracy to enjoy full freedom.

It's unfortunate that he died before seeing how many people became intelligent thanks to his book. In heaven, he can know how many are in paradise thanks to it.

Japanese Falling to Paris Syndrome

A dozen or so Japanese tourists a year have to be repatriated from the French capital, after falling prey to what's become known as "Paris syndrome ".

Visiting a foreign place should be done with readiness to meet all possible strange facts and attitudes. It can be an experience of culture shock. In some societies too much formality is a sign of respect while in others it is a means to keep a personal distance.

Paris is a snobbish city even for the French who don't live in it. If one wants to have informal and friendly welcome, they'd better go the Mediterranean part of France. People there are as warm as the weather or they go to Nigeria listed as the happiest country in the world.

Finally one chooses to go to a place for sightseeing or for mixing with people. If people aren't polite, they'd better be ignored. One shouldn't be - to the point of breakdown -the victim of badly behaved waiter or taxi driver. People of such kinds should be treated as machine from whom a type of work is expected and not as people who should show human warmth. After all one doesn't faint because of a vendor machine doesn't smile when putting a coin in it and doesn't say thank you when one gets the goods out of it.

Rice backs 'worthwhile' Iraq war

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has again defended the war in Iraq, saying the investment in US lives and dollars will be "worth it".

Investment in US lives? When has human life become an investment for political end? The US government had better legalised human cloning. So soldiers will be cloned and their death will be considered as the loss of military equipment.

The US has a history of sacrificing its soldiers abroad. There were successes as in the Second World War. But there were setbacks in the Vietnam War where more than 50,000 soldiers died, not to count the surviving with physical and mental illnesses.

Politicians think putting their feelings aside. But considering human death as investment is similar to Senator Kerry's statement that the future of worthless American students was in Iraq. US Soldiers are trained to fight and be prepared to die for their country to survive but not an investment to win political wars.

The war in Iraq was a political investment for the Bush administration in its first term. Many international and domestic policies were taken on the basis of fighting terrorist groups, especially those operating in Iraq.

US can be financially rewarded if peace returned to Iraq. . Every cent spent on the war in Iraq will, in case of success, be returned with a dollar.

It will open the gate for American giant companies to have huge lucrative investment to make up for the billions of the dollars spend on the war in Iraq.

For the US containing the war in Iraq is less costly than if the whole Middle East becomes engaged in a war, especially between Israel and other countries in the region, mainly Syria and Iran. Otherwise, the flow of oil will stop from this region making a barrel cost $US +100.

The war can also protect US friendly regimes in the region. But the US still has Iran to deal with. If the issue of its nuclear program isn't settled peacefully, the US will have to start a new war with more lost lives and billions of dollars.

Investment of diplomatic efforts should be stepped up to find an end to the war in Iraq.The reasonably diplomatic investment will be this: The US should try to reach out to its countries like Iran and Syria for a way out as the insurgents find support in these two countries. Spilling more blood is a shameful investment.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

President Bush Call for Military Increase in Iraq

President Bush has called for an increase in US troops in Iraq as he has admitted that , "We aren't winning". But sending more troops to Iraq is unlikely to change the situation. More troops will be matched by more suicide attacks and sectarian killings. The US troops can't patrol Iraq inch by inch to spot arms depots and would-be suicide bombers. There are armed groups who have the means and the charisma to have faithful and secretive members. These will have where to hide and how to emerge. AS they can melt and come out from the population, they will remain elusive and unpredictable.

Iraq doesn't need more troops, it needs more national trust for the Iraqis to live in peace as countrymen belonging to a country patriotically. Continued sectarian loyalty coupled with suspicion of the other side will make Iraq continue plunging into the abyss of violence.

Compulsory HIV Tests in Indian State

Government Of Indian State Andhra Pradesh, India Proposes Compulsory HIV test Before Marriage. But Compulsory HIV Tests before marriage are only the tip of the iceberg.

There are other causes from drug addictions and needle sharing. Too much still needs to be done before HIV become history. In this sense, HIV test before marriage can be effective if the couple haven't been engaged sexually before marriage. Today many would-be couple are engaged in sexual activities.

Marriage is for life. It shouldn't turn into a nightmare because one partner is HIV positive. Any couple should remain faithful to each other after marriage if they each prove to be HIV negative.

After all for promiscuous people, it is in their interest to take an HIV test regardless if they're married or not as a precaution to know how healthy they are.

Compulsory HIV test should also apply to partners. HIV test should also be made compulsory in countries which have sex tourism as a source of its income. Visitors should be made to testify that that they are free from HIV.

But countries like India will find it difficult to eradicate AIDS as there are large sections of the population that are unaware of it and its dangers. But as long as there is free sex with people risking their lives for money or pleasure, the spread can’t be limited overnight.

What matters, after all, is that every one should have safe sex within or outside marriage. To make tests compulsory, states should also have the means to make them free for all wherever they might be, near or far from health care centres. Ways should be found to make cure available to all the affected regardless of their income or their whereabouts.

Iran Local Elections, Are they a Reflection of People's power?

Elections in Iran are just a charade as all the key political institutions are in the grip of the clergy of the Ayatollahs who have the power to veto any policy not in line with their ideologies.

Former "reformist" President Khatami was ineffective because many of his reforms were blocked by the clergy. Ahmadinejad has to keep his popularity just with the Ayatollahs who had given him the green light to stand as a presidential candidate and to win the second round, creating a big surprise after he had been considered as the underdog in the race for presidency.

The low turn-out in the local elections is a message to the clergy that the results make no difference as radical reformists and dissidents are excluded from standing and making their voice heard to the public without fear of arrest and prosecution.

When Iran can have a powerful president who isn't under the grip of the Iranian clergy, then elections presidential or local - can make the difference.

Monday, December 18, 2006

YouTube, Person of the Year. Couldn't there Be a Better Choice?

YouTube has made it possible for everyone with Internet connection to project their views and send information around the world. It also opened the gate for unchecked reports, videos clips that remain uncensored. Although it lifted taboos on many subjects, its open use can create Internet communities who can publish whatever they want, sometimes at the expense of morality.

YouTube is a wonderful means for the narcissists to project themselves to the world by video or pictures, seeking stranger admirers and getting from them fake admiration. If the sixties were the era of sexual freedom in a single place, YouTube has made it possible for everyone to live their sexual fantasies and look for sexual partners. Some become self-proclaimed world stars by publishing their stuff like songs on YouTube

But again it isn’t like listening to a song from a professional singer getting claim from experienced critics.

Another facet of YouTube is that it has made it possible for ordinary people to become journalists without needing an editor or a newsstand to have their material read. But they remain with a limited audience as now there are hundreds of millions with a site on the net, each expressing their views on matters of narrow interests. The result is mediocrity content as facts remain unchecked.

YouTube can be a threat only to media thriving on gossip about banal matters as anyone can produce the like just by having a daily tour in one’s area collecting information from mouth to ear.

Sites with solid content remain unrivalled. The parallel to draw is the number of TV channels. Today there are thousands of them on the air. But very few in comparison of their number have substantial audiences running in tens of millions. Credible media, including TIME and BBC, remain the only source to get the bulk of credible news. Amateurish & unchecked reports are never 100% reliable. Their authors can become influential if they have the skill to make fake reports look real and the established media fails to have a counter attack to put thing right.

YouTube in essence remains a gamish site for those who can’t concentrate on factual matters done most in script contrary to the unlimited YouTube sites filled mostly with just personal pictures, audio and video sequences, which can be shocking because of being made in bad taste.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Fattah-Hamas Clashes, a New Round

Fatah and Hamas have always been rivals in their quest for governing the Palestinians engaging in bloody clashes. Both have recently been more ready to point guns at one another than sit and talk like reasonable politicians. Fatah has the advantage of being favoured by the EU, USA. and Israel. Hamas is still internationally isolated.

Hamas government is acting on its own principles, but at the expense of the welfare of the majority of the Palestinians who are hard-hit by the cut of aids from traditional donors, mainly the EU and the US.

Palestinians can't go on waking up on the sounds of guns because of clashes between Hamas fighters and Israeli soldiers, then between Hamas fighters and Fatah armed groups.

What can settle the issue at least to ease the economic situations for Palestinians is early elections. Palestinians should get the chance to elect a new government to end current stalemate.

Probing into BAE Systems Alleged Corrupt Arms Deal with Saudi Arabia

The probe into alleged corruption by the arms company BAE Systems and it's executives, dating in the 80s, will do nothing but halt the arms sale to Saudi Arabia. This will be in the interest of rival arms companies in other countries to have deals with the Saudis as long as they have the cash. UK is need of the cash to save thousands of jobs.

After all, the deal isn't a threat to national security. The company isn't selling technology secrets or arms unapproved by the government or the international law. The world of business is familiar with such cases for contracts of big magnitude. UK can't be totally immune from it in a world of ruthless competition.

British companies can’t go against trends at the expense of their expansion. It is also common that many third world countries officials thrive just on such deals. Millions of dollars are yearly given away in bribes for “grandiose” projects carried out by foreign or national companies in developing countries. We shouldn’t forget that even in Japan, one the most developed countries, corruption and bribery are common among politicians and businessmen.

As we say if you can’t beat them, join them. So let the matter close and let British companies seek their markets. A contract in most cases should be seen as a gift horse that shouldn’t be continually looked in the mouth. It's better to keep the economy rolling than closing plants because the ideal client can't be found or was found out not to be such ideal.

It is a sad fact that corruption is sometimes used as effective tools to win contracts. It goes against moral principles as the law is put aside. The treasury doesn’t benefit from the handed cash as it goes into the pockets of the corrupt recipients.

The question to ask is : Will turning a blind eye to cases like alleged corruption by the arms company BAE Systems and it's executives become part of realpolitik?

It is so in many parts of the world where no business can start or continue after its start without bribery. How many other countries will join remains to see.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Male Circumcision 'Cuts' HIV Risk

A recent search has found out that male circumcision 'cuts' HIV risk. Any means to stop HIV AIDS is good to follow. Chemotherapy and herbal medicines have so far failed to stop the spread of AIDS. A vaccine is long, if not impossible to get, to make AIDS a history.

Circumcision can be a new light of hope at least to minimise the risk of AIDS. It is cheaper to carry out than pharmaceutical medicines, which remain too expensive for the affected in poor countries, mainly in Africa.

But the problem with this method can be in societies where circumcision is never practiced and which some men may see as an attack on their masculinity. The question remains if there can be successful campaigns in other parts of the world to make circumcision a healing standard method and if those at risk from it will accept it.

The test was carried on a limited population where circumcision is customary. In many regions of Africa, circumcision is a tradition. If we count the number of Jews and Muslims there are more than 600 million circumcised males. It will be interesting to know the rate of AIDS among such a population before giving a final judgement. If Jews and Muslims have the lowest rate because of circumcision (and sexual conduct), then the latest research should be held as valid. In this case, circumcision should be generalised on the basis if a patient accepts the removal of an organ, limb or teeth to feel better, circumcision should be seen as a better way for prevention.

After all medical circumcision, if it can be called so, is about just the removal of a tiny part of the skin to save the rest of the body from a deadly and overwhelming infection

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Ipswich Prostitute Murders

UK has been shaken up by the serial murder of Ipswich prostitutes. This must shed light on a profession so despised in many societies and the danger prostitutes run almost daily, mainly meeting strangers that can turn aggressive, robbers or worse as murderers.
Prostitution is a fact in many societies. In the UK, it isn’t considered a crime to hire a prostitute as long as the sexual act isn’t performed in public or the person found with her isn’t married risking a charge of infidelity.

It does not make sense to allow striptease, pornographic industry and to exclude prostitution as a trade. For these reasons, prostitution, to be realistic, should be legalized. There should be a prostitution agency. So anyone going with a prostitute will be registered. As there are prostitutes working in the dark or exposing themselves in dark and rarely frequented streets, they are likely to be subject to attacks.

But in essence to protect prostitutes, they should be given an alternative to make a decent living. They shouldn’t go on using their body as their essential capital, suffering in the course of their profession, humiliation and even murder as it was the case in Ipswich town recently.

Prostitutes should be regarded as citizens enjoying legal protections and not to be left to their fate as if they were drug dealers or any other sort of similar activities, waiting for the worse day through imprisonment or murder. They should have a normal life by being offered another trade other the one whose lifespan is as long as how long their body can remain a saleable sex object.

Iraq under Suicide Car Bomb Attacks

The sad analogy to make between some Iraqis looking for a source of living and African illegal immigrants is this. Illegal African immigrants risk their lives on their way to Europe by dying from hunger or drowning in waters far from their homeland. Iraqi workers, especially those looking for makeshift jobs risk their lives in their own home country due to suicide bomb attacks.

Today's car bomb attack isn't the first. Suicide bombing has been used for all types of public gathering: mosques, annual worship, markets, police recruiting centres and casual work stations, to name just what has been widely reported on news organisations. Ironically the sectors that are fully active in Iraq are health services because of the overwhelming casualties they get and the security forces who are on the constant look-out to minimise the casualties hospitals are left to cope with.

Death seems to be one of the responses Iraqi workers get for their applications for a job - be it with the government or with particulars. It’s dreary to live in a country where even the needy are a target of attacks simply because they belong to a section of society whose enemies want to inflict on it any possible damage out of revenge or to spread terror among its members.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Middle East Sitting on a Nuclear Bomb

The nuclear issue in the Middle East will remain problematic for all parties involved in it. What is common about Israel and Iran is that both are secretive about how much they have preceded in their nuclear programs. Israel remains reluctant to reveal to the world its nuclear program and how much nuclear arms it has, refusing international inspection. Iran on its part remains defiant about its own nuclear program, whether, as it says, it is for peaceful purposes or as a deterrent against attacks. It is up to now portrayed as a danger by nuclear powers USA, UK and Israel.

Israel and Iran will remain the source of danger in the Middle East. Israel apparently has the backing of the international community to defend its sovereignty and to continue existing. Iran, if it happens to acquire nuclear weapons, will be a real force in the Middle East. It will be the voice of anti-American activists and their followers. It will also have the power of religion as an instrument for influence , as there are over a billion Muslims, many of whom will be ready to take Iran’s side in its struggle against its giant opponents who can encircle it militarily and economically.

While Israel will seek political, military and economic support from its allies, Iran will find public support in Muslim countries as its asset to offset or stand possible attacks. Not forgetting its use of oil as another form of weapons affecting production in the whole region and its consequence on the world economy. This kind of queer balance of power between these antagonists can create another twisting situation in the middle East far worse than 1973 Israeli-Arab War, the Gulf War between Iraq and Iran in the 80s and finally the current USA invasion of Iraq.

Israel and Iran will continue to be sworn enemies. Israel’s happiest day will the downfall of the current Iranian regime. Iranian President Ahmadinejad’s cherished dream is the disappearance of the state of Israel from the face of the earth. However, both will continue to exist as state and regime without agreeing to live and let live, at least in the foreseeable future. Maybe such political contention is their political sport as each tries to score political points on the other, creating excitement among their fellow politicians around the world about where their political divisions may lead them, with the US, the big boss, fanning the heat between them from time to time.

The wishful thinking remains that one day the Middle East becomes united states where religion and race are no longer used as a pretext to seek one another’s destruction. The politicians should no longer refer to the past to unearth each other felonies. The apocalypses awaiting this region, if the worst comes to the worst, should be just a material for fictional movies like the Day After. Politicians shouldn’t be impatient to see their enemies under their feet just to settle personal counts, disregarding the wish of the public, however politically inept they may appear, to live in peace.

May be such wishful thinking is laughable as the situation in this region is far too complex by resolving it on the ground of compassion and mutual acceptance. It is as complex as carrying a nuclear test for someone who can’t make difference between a nuclear head and a biological one.

Monday, December 11, 2006

European Migration or Population Swap?

Many Europeans, including Britons , are choosing to live outside Europe, mainly in stable countries where they can have a happy life. The money with which they can't buy even a flat in their home country can buy them a high standard house.

Some choose to start a new life mingling with the locals and even adopting their manners. Morocco has become a destination for many Europeans, especially the French who are keen to have a Riad -a Moroccan luxurious traditional house - in old cities, mainly Marrakesh. Some use them for a living, others as a guest house.

The consequence of this is that it has become impossible for a person in Marrakesh with an average income to own a house in the old city. The prices have soared so much in the past few years that the only choice for the locals now is to live in new neighbourhoods, leaving real estate in the old city open to speculation and sale to the Europeans who are, in most cases, ready to offer the highest prices.

The Europeans are lucky to choose where they can live. All they need is a visa which is - in most cases- granted to them swiftly. In contrast, immigrants from poor countries are usually arrested and returned to their countries of origins because they have no money to invest.

As long as the Europeans are richer and as long as host countries are open and welcoming, such a trend will continue. This is what may be considered as a population swap. The Europeans come to third world countries for investment or easy life. People from poor countries come to Europe empty handed in the hope of making enough money to survive in Europe or to return to their home countries with swollen pockets.

Let the world be a better place for everyone, in that they can realize their dreams of living where they want without being hindered by political, geographical or cultural barriers.

Remembering Pinochet

Pinochet will be remembered as a dictator who ruled Chile with an iron fist, stifling any democratic process. Bit he wasn’t the only military dictator in Latin America. He was just one of the bunch of military dictators in this region of the world as in Brazil and Argentina. Argentina has similar history with Chile as both suffered human rights abuses under military rule.

Pinochet was able to stay in power because of his grip on the military establishment and the allies he got outside Chile, notably the USA. For the USA, he was a guardian against the spread of communism in his country and consequently in neighbouring ones. He did a good job for the USA and for himself through disappearances and systematic torture to keep his opponents and communists at bay.

What is remarkable is that the turn of the 21st century is witnessing the fall or death of many dictators like Saddam Hussein of Iraq or Slodonan Milosevic of ex-Yugoslavia. The only difference Pinochet had with these is that Milosevic was brought to justice for his crimes against humanity. He didn’t get any final sentence due to his death in jail. Saddam was brought to justice, his death sentence is awaiting execution pending on the success or failure of his defence and International Human Right Groups to stand his execution.

We shouldn't also forget W Butha of South Africa who died this year and whose era was marked with oppression against black South Africans. What is common between Butha and Pinochet is that both died leaving their respective countries enjoying political stability under democratic rule.

Pinochet should be considered among the luckiest or shrewdest dictators. He escaped justice on many occasions on health or legal grounds, forcibly leaving the victims of his regime frustrated. His death should be seen as an opportunity for Chile to definitely close an era which was for many Chileans a dark one. The Chileans have to look ahead as even before he die, Pinochet became a history. It’s now 15 years since he relinquished power. Chile witnessed the emergence of the democracy for which many Chileans paid with their lives.

Pinochet’s era should only serve as a lesson for the new generations to preserve and develop their democratic process. Pinochet shouldn’t remain a haunting figure souring the fruits of democracy which many Chilean are reaping now. Since 1991 and until the eve of his death Pinochet became politically impotent. His death will make him a history once for all except for his supporters who will go nostalgic about him from time to time, and his victims whose past negatively affected by his dictatorial rule.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Fighting Bribery

The worst bribery is that in which officials, either at high or low levels, are involved. This kind of bribery puts in question the credibility of the whole political system supposed to be at the service of the nation. Many elections, especially in third world countries, are carried by bribing voters to vote for a particular candidate. This naturally leads to institutions whose members see bribery as a source of power. For them the “donations were just an investment to reap big profits from public funds and bribes to provide services without creating obstacles.

Fighting bribery has to do with achieving personal integrity at all levels. But as long as poverty is coupled with greed and as long standing out to corrupt officials is coupled with fear of prosecution, and finally as long as those who are supposed to implement the law are corrupt, bribery will continue to be a way of life in all circles.

Putting an end to bribery seems impossible to achieve when the whole society sees it as a way of life or simply a way to say thank you for a service done quickly.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hezbollah Anti-government Protests

Hezbollah massive protest demonstrations in Beirut are a show of the deep political divide. Lebanese politicians showed faked unity during Hezbollah's summer war with Israel. But as the war ended, the fundamental divisions resurfaced. Key political figures like Saad Al Hariri, the son of late Lebanese PM Rafik Al Hariri has enmity with Hezbollah which can be matched only with the large wealth he has inherited from his father. So there is no love lost between pro-Western Saad, the son of Rafik Al Hariri, and Nasserallah, the son of the Iranian and Syrian regimes.

Looking back at the past four months, there were the crocodile tears of PM Seniora when he was making a speech in front of Arab foreign minister who came to Beirut to show “solidarity” with the Lebanese people. That was, as probably everybody remembers, last summer when Hezbollah and Israel were waging their wars against the civilians more than at each other’s armed forces. At this time there were the fiery speeches of political leaders that Lebanon was united, making of Hezbollah a hero for all the Arab causes.

Now Lebanese politicians are struggling for survival because it is based on foreign alliances and allegiance. Lebanon seems still steps away from becoming really independent because of this and lack of national consensus.

Hezbollah, if it succeeds in holding key positions in power, will be a real warning for more tension escalation in the region. Lebanon will likely become a military base for Iran and the consequence of direct Israeli military involvement under the pretext of defending itself from Iran backed Hezbollah.

The diffusion of the political divisions in Lebanon depends on the understanding of the countries directly involved in Lebanon to keep it from regional tension and not a battleground for proxy wars.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Iraq Sudy Group Report

An Iraq Study Group has issued a report on the current situation in Iraq and how to solve it. The report recommendations in general remain just a wishful thinking as in politics there is little assurance that things of global magnitude go to plan. Many plans for Iraq, at least since 2003 invasion, failed - from general elections, the installation of a parliamentary government, the arrest and killing of dangerous figures etc. Each of these gave a glimpse of hope. But that glimpse was like a candle quickly blown up by the torrent winds.

The situation in Iraq must have become very embarrassing for the USA as casualties are mounting among the US troops. Its military , despite its sophisticated machinery and big experiences in previous wars, failed to curb the violence and round the insurgents. These are showing more defiance to it and to the Iraqi government through daily killings and frequent kidnapping, the most recently spectacular one was the kidnapping of a large number of people from the Education Ministry in Baghdad.

It is apparent that the explosive situation in Iraq is only a part of the unstable situation in the Middle East as a whole. For the situation to stabilise, more diplomatic efforts are needed to make the countries in the region agree on a general peaceful settlement. The area should not remain a ground for non-ending mistrust and preparation for mutual annihilation.

As the situation is far more complex than the US military withdrawal, it is not the Iraqi army that can make Iraq a stable country. The challenges from insurgents operating from inside and outside Iraq will be beyond its power. They will just outstretch it, making of it a scarecrow to birds knowing that it can’t move to catch them.

So in a sense the situation remains an egg and chicken question. Which should come first, political stability or military withdrawal? As it may be expected, there are those who might say political stability can be achieved just by putting an end to insurgents. Others say dialogue should be open on all fronts to end violence.

Maybe these recommendations will be themselves outdated by unexpectedly uncontrollable events asking for political recalculations.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Teenage Motherhood and Abortion

Teenage pregnancies have become worrying in Western countries because at this age girls aren't yet equipped to be mothers as they still have to equip themselves with experience and educational qualifications to face life as single or married persons.

In some third world countries where there is no minimum age for marriage, girls as young as 14 are already mothers. They are so at the expense of their education and health.

Abortion is not an easy step to take as it poses ethical dilemmas, especially from a religious point of view. The best thing as it is always is prevention. Psychological cure is sometimes hard to get as abortion in many cases is carried with a sense of guilt.

If sexual freedom is a right in many societies, it should be taken with great responsibility by parents, tutors and teenagers themselves. It shouldn’t turn out to be a spectre leading to the death of foetuses which are dispensed of as nothing less than a tumour or a cancer in the bodies that are bearing them.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Imam and the Pastor: Healing Conflict in Nigeria

It's interesting to hear an Imam and a Pastor talking as brothers after years of enmity and who have been featuring film in a After all people can have different religions or principles, but in principal they share the same biology and the innate humanity. It's beliefs that make people seen in different colours.

The Nigerian Imam and Pastor can serve as an example for settling interfaith clashes or clashes between different people of the same faith as it is taking place in Iraq.

Talking about Christians and Muslims, too much bloodshed has been split in ex-Yugoslavia where thousands of Muslims were victims of genocide because of their faith, by Serbian Christians. In southern Sudan, hundreds of thousands of Christians have died in Darfur because they are different from the dominant Muslims in the north.

More Imams and Pastors are needed to spread what unites and not what disunites people of different faiths. People can have different identities but they share the same world. It shouldn't be a religious battlefield. It should be a miniature of Eden all believers are aspiring to instead people of a faith see the others of different faith as doomed not worthy of living, but their place is in hell.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Should Princess Diana car wreck be sold?

The sale of the car in which Diana died should be prevented by all means. The French owner of that car, Jean Francois Musa can, as a compromise, have a new limousine if his intent is for compensation. He shouldn’t be allowed to turn into a vulture feeding on the bodies of those who have tragically died.

The question doesn’t end here. If there are his kinds in the world, he will probably go ahead with the sale after getting a go ahead from the court to recover the car.

Diana's death shouldn't be used for commercial purposes. Out of respect for her and her many admirers within and outside UK, she should be an icon. She was an inspiring lady. The car by all accounts shouldn’t be in public view as a reminder of a short life. Diana should be remembered for what she lived for and not how she died. Her possessions should be kept sacred to be above any kind of sale.

Such an incident is a reminder of her lover James Hewitt wanting to make profit of her letters to him.

As a conclusion, greed makes one blind even to deep human values. Any judge who has any consideration for the rights of a person in life and death should oppose any demand to parade a car that was in essence a killer. That car should be out of view for Diana to be remembered as one of the most beautiful ladies and not a distorted body covered in its own blood.

Kofi Annan Legacy after Stepping Down

The only thing Kofi Annan will be remembered by is his being the first black African to be the Secretary General of the United Nations and to have two terms without causing a rift among Security Council members for his second term. The period in which he served was rife with events that were more spectacular than any other time for decades. His ten years as Secretary General of the United Nations witnessed a new world order emerging after the events of 9/11 and the subsequent situation in Iraq and Afghanistan which are still dominating international diplomacy.

In his speeches he has sounded as the champion of human causes, especially those concerning poverty. But the UN as an organisation has had many shortcomings with other precedent General Secretaries. Many resolutions were passed without finding their way to implementation. The UN is practically dominated by the Security Council whose permanent members bear responsibility for many current situations in the world through their vetoes or conspiracy of silence. So his speeches were just an echo in a void land.

In most cases, Kofi Annan, as it was the case with any other UN Secretary General, should be seen as having served like a ceremonial president in a republic or a constitutional monarch. The only difference he has with them is that he can be outspoken, contrary to a constitutional monarch who refrains from making comments or stating national policies.

Kofi’s successor will inherit an organisation only whose members can decide the status of any Secretary General of the United Nations through the consensus they can reach in relations to one another regionally, continentally and worldwide. A divided world will make him just good at speeches and ceremonial activities without having an effective machinery to impose resolutions resolutely and swiftly.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Cuba under Fidel Castro, an Ailing Island

Fidel Castro is one of the rare surviving leaders in the world despite attempts at destabilising his regime mainly from the US government and the Cuban community living in Florida. His rule is only a glory to himself but the Cubans have seen their dreams evaporate under economic hardship and political repression.

Under Fidel Castro’s 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.

Cuba altogether needs a surgical operation to recover from its accumulated ills. While Castro is fighting for his life, the Cubans need a healthy prescription for their lives, not through colourful parades but through a shining economy and a democratic political system.

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.

Castro, due to his apparently incurable illness, has become the symbol of an incapacitated regime which legally should democratically be replaced by a healthy one.