Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Retirement & Consciousness

Another retired military/intelligence expert decided to come out and admit using harsh treatment to prisoners. How come the notorious Donald Rumsfeld didn’t follow suit like Lieutenant General Ricardo S. Sanchez? It seems that those guys looked in the mirror more often after retirement and decided collectively to take the next step for them to clear consciousness, and to disclose either their disgust with their superior’s policy or admitting doing wrong (soft word for crime against humanity).

P.S. picture is courtesy of Eddi The Yetti

My Next Trip!

Well, not exactly my next trip, the one after the next! Not bad, not bad at all!

P.S. the picture is courtesy of Four Eyes

Drinking Coffee!

A man pours coffee in his plastic cup from the coffee machine, then put milk and sugar in, and rapidly stirring the whole thing in. He won't drink it, he take another plastic cup, but an empty one, he position the empty cup beneath the one with coffee and pour the coffee to the empty one, and quickly switch the cups position and do the same... this exercise is repeated for four to five to six times, and if there is another person chitchatting then this exercise will be repeated more and more till a moment when the empty plastic cup is thrown to the trash bin and the man enjoy a nice coffee with milk and sugar! This is the way Indians (at least whom I see doing it) prepare and drink their coffee in working place.

It is very interesting to learn about other cultures' practices and ways!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Rasim Al Jumaliy

God bless his soul!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Chávez... Shut Up!

Today, the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, decided to halt diplomatic relations with Spain unless the Spanish king, Juan Carlos apologises for his behavior early this month when he called on Chávez to "shut up".

The video below is from that incident

I can understand Zapatero's plea for respect, and I tend to agree with him, but I don't think it is appropriate for a king to interfere in such a way - far from protocol and diplomatic attitude!

I can't but to compare this incident to ... this below

The video is of Arab Summit, on Saturday 1 March 2003 (a couple of days before the invasion of Iraq). It contains a heated and public exchange of insults between Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi and Saudi King Abdullah (when he was Crown Prince). This was broadcasted live by most Arab satellite television stations, Gaddafi said that during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, he had spoken with former Saudi King Fahd about Libya’s concern over the presence of US troops in the kingdom. “King Fahd told me that his country was threatened and that he would cooperate with the Devil to protect it,” Gaddafi said. such an attribute or a remark to King Fahd – who holds the revered position of custodian of Islam’s two holiest shrines – would be particularly offensive. Before the live feed was cut off, King Abdullah angrily responded: “Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country and not an agent of colonialism like you and others.” Wagging his finger at Gaddafi, Abdullah said: “You, who brought you to power? Don’t talk about matters that you fail to prove. Your lies precede you, while the grave is ahead of you.” A bewildered Gaddafi replied: “By God, I don’t know how I am going to answer this man.”

Friday, November 23, 2007

Foreign Militants In Iraq

According to the Guardian and New York Times, around 60% of all foreign militants who entered Iraq to fight over the past year came from Saudi Arabia and Libya. The information is based on files seized by American forces during a raid at a desert camp, in Sinjar, North-West of Iraq. The files listed the nationalities and biographical details of more than 700 fighters who crossed into Iraq from August last year, around half of whom came to the country to be suicide bombers. In all, 305, or 41%, of the fighters listed were from Saudi Arabia. Another 137, or 18%, came from Libya. Both countries are officially US allies in anti-terrorism efforts. The list goes on to count 68 Yemeni nationals, the third-biggest source, in addition to 64 from Algeria, 50 from Morocco, 38 from Tunisia, 14 from Jordan, six from Turkey and two each from Egypt and France.

The US claims that there are at the moment around 25000 suspected militants in custody in Iraq.

The entire article here

I am not that concerned about the nationalities, I am more concerned with how these people are sneaking into Iraq. Most of the blame is put on Iran and Syria, but why not putting Saudi Arabia and Kuwait on same level of accusations? Why limited to Iran and Syria? because they are now the bad boys in the eyes of the United States? A year ago I read in the news how Iraqi authority arrested a number of men dressing like Saudi military personnel, and the same thing happened from Kuwait, also last year. A day after the news broke out, it was dead quiet on the issue. I couldn't find anything in the news, as if nothing happened!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wassouf's Worst Mixed Albums

Dul Mush Habayeb ( released 2000) in my opinion is the worst produced and mixed album the legendary Syrian singer, George Wassouf has ever made. However, it remains one of my favorite albums ever and it makes me feel horribly sad when listening to the way the end result of mixing the album came out! It made these great songs on the album sounds so lame, no power, but when someone hear them live, these songs easily illustrated with their perfect melodies and powerful musical structure, in addition, of course to Sultan Al Tarab's (Wassouf's nickname in the Arab World) remarkable singing that no one can beat.

I can't pick one song as my favorite, the titel song Dol Mush Habayeb (She is Not A Sweetheart), Kedah Kifayah (It Is Enough), Osha'a Akher Zaman (Lovers of this time), Ana Radi Bel Sahar (Happy to Stay Awake)*, all of them are excellent proof of how Geroge Wassouf used to and remain as one star in the history of Arabic music - if not the last star.

* Eglish translation from the album sleeve

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Interview With Sheikh Ali Hatem Al Sleiman (Updated)

Following are excerpts from an interview with Sheikh Ali Hatem Ali Sleiman of the Al-Anbar Salvation Council, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on September 24, 2007.

Ali Hatem Ali Seliman: We must distinguish between the noble and courageous resistance and those reckless, filthy people, who have come here – each with hair down to his knees. Brother, we must distinguish between black and white. In Iraq, the word "resistance" has become derogatory, because of the confusion in terms. It's best to speak out so that everybody in Iraq knows: The Al-Anbar Salvation Council, the Al-Anbar tribes and their military wing, and all the good people of Al-Anbar have never brandished their weapons against any patriot fighting the occupation. By Allah, this has never happened. We have used our weapons only against those extremist, filthy people, who have created this confusion, and made the world view us with contempt. Our role is to deal a blow to Al-Qaeda and the militias, wherever they may be. The militias, by the way, also play a role in Iraq, when it comes to the displacement of people and mass murder.
Ali Hatem Ali Seliman: Let the American president know that when the heroes of the Iraq tribes... Neither he nor Rice – that sheep who drove our people out of their homes – nor anybody else will be able to enter Al-Anbar, when the people of Al-Anbar get the province and all of Iraq on their feet.
Ali Hatem Ali Seliman: [The Americans say]: "Our forces liberated Al-Anbar." What, your forces liberated Al-Anbar?! With all due respect, that is disgraceful. What, your forces are capable of liberating Al-Anbar? Your forces got into trouble, just like us. The American army got into several problems: It should be in charge of traffic, it should be in charge of building, whatever. We all got into trouble because of the democracy of the "effendi" Bush. [Bush] was not welcome in Al-Anbar. No one knew he was coming for a visit. It does not honor us in any way to host someone like that. We have nothing to do with him. Politically, we have people who represent us on the Al-Anbar Awakening Council and the Al-Anbar Salvation Council. Let them reach understandings with [the Americans]. We have nothing to do with any politician – not the president and not politicians of lower rank.
Ali Hatem Ali Seliman: By Allah, shame on people who say that the Al-Qaeda members are Iraqis. Them, Iraqis? Who attacked us? Weren't we attacked from Dhahran and the other Saudi airfields? Weren't we attacked by American missiles and planes which came from Arab countries? Those despicable people should be ashamed of themselves. All they have learned is to say meaningless things. They should stop exporting their Salafis... Not Salifis, I mean those extremists, who were sent to Iraq to wage Jihad. Let them wage Jihad in their own countries. Syria is occupied by Israel, and the Arab countries are occupied by American and foreign bases.
Ali Hatem Ali Seliman: Listen, my friend, let me tell you one thing. I swear by God that whoever sets a foot on Iraqi soil and dares to insult us and our honor – we will wipe the floor with him, get it?
Interviewer: Sheik, from where do you get all your aid, money, and weapons?
Ali Hatem Ali Seliman: Oh, do me a favor! The Saudis know all about the weapons we have. Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Jordan have complained about [weapon] smuggling. In the days of Saddam, even helicopters were smuggled. Four-barrel and single-barrel missile launchers, mortar, rockets, PKCs – we tribes have all that. Brother, we don't have to beg anyone for these weapons. As for finances, what has the Iraqi government ever given us? I challenge anybody who says that I took a single dirham. Some time ago, on Al-Arabiya TV, or perhaps it was your channel, that black woman from the American embassy said that they were allocating 26 billion dollars to support the tribes. I don't want their billions, and we didn't get a single dirham from them.

The link to the whole interview is here (Arabic)

I watched Sheikh Ali on a number of occasions and on different Arab channels. His concept is simple: the unity of Iraq, purging Al Qaeda elements from other Iraqi provinces, but this is new, by confirming that "the Awakenning" of Al Anbar province was independent from any US support, or let me say, it is the first time I hear / read Sheikh Ali mentioning the issue of US support in that context.

Update: below is another video interview with Al Jazeera

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Sharing Tribute!

I found this picture on website. It is a tribute an Iraqi female graphic designer to her dead cousin. I thought I share this tribute with her and put the picture on my blog

God Bless her soul and of all innocent Iraqis, and may god protect Iraq and the Iraqis from any harm.

Courtesy: zahraa812graphic and deviantart

Message To Security Companies

How this will be developed in the coming days? I don't know, but this is what I read today on the news:
"Iraqi security forces have arrested 43 people, including two Americans and 31 other foreigners, over a shooting in which a woman was wounded in central Baghdad.An Iraqi government spokesman says it was a message to security companies that no one is above the law.An escort team, working for an Iraqi-registered security company, were travelling through Baghdad's Karrada district on their way to the airport when they allegedly opened fire at civilians, wounding the woman.It was not clear who fired at the woman.The security guards in the convoy included 10 Iraqis and two Americans.Those arrested will appear before an investigating judge on Tuesday before going to trial.The role of foreign security guards has been under the spotlight since a September shooting in Baghdad involving private US security firm Blackwater in which 17 Iraqis died."

This is the first time such an action by Iraqi authority to be taken, the question remains how this case will progress? will it be diploamtic raw by the American and other foreign governments to release them? or will they be further persecuted? If not for nothing, such an act would bring some dignity to Iraqi authority in the eyes and the minds of the people! I guess we have to wait and see!

Easy To Take Baghdad Back!

I read today a very article on the New Yorker I read today. In it, not a lot of new to what we know has been unveiled, but the most interesting part from that article is related to the interview with Sheikh Zaidan al-Awad, a tribal leader from Anbar. The Sheikh answered the questions about the purpose Iraqi tribes had a change of heart towards the Americans. He replied that "“We’ve already taken our revenge,” he said. “We’re the ones who’ve made them crawl on their stomachs, and now we’re the ones to pick them up.” He added, “Once Anbar is settled, we must take control of Baghdad, and we will.” There would have to be a lot more fighting before the capital was taken back from the Shiites, he said. “The Anbaris will take charge of the purge. What the whole world failed to do in Anbar, we have done overnight. Baghdad will be a lot easier.”

Is this a talk from strength point of view, or is it just some kind of mockery? Taking into the consideration Al Mahdi Army emergence after the end of the security plan very soon, and the rise of an equal Sunni force in the west, extending towards Baghdad, is that Sheikh trying to say that a real Civil War is destined to be taking place in Baghdad? What does he mean by saying that the capital will be taken back from the Shiites? or is it just translation fault?

Is this the fate of the Iraqi people? everytime they start to immitate normal life after bloodshed, another warning comes out from the east or from the west to remind them that they shouldn't forget that Iraq is not for the Iraqis?!!

Power of the Heart

A couple of days ago, Khieu Samphan, the Khmer Rouge's former head of state of Cambodia, was arrested. He was taken from a hospital in the capital to a UN-backed genocide tribunal. He was in the hospital because of a heart stroke! Under the Khmer Rouge, more than one million people died from starvation or overwork as leaders strove to create an agrarian utopia. In addition, hundreds of thousands of the educated middle-classes were tortured and executed in special centres.

On March 11, 2006, Slobodan Milosevic, the formal president of Serbia, has been found dead in his cell in the Hague, the Netherlands, after suffering from a heart attack. He was indicted in May 1999, during the Kosovo War, by the UN's International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia for crimes against humanity in Kosovo. Charges of violating the laws or customs of war, grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions in Croatia and Bosnia and genocide in Bosnia were added a year and a half later.

Iraq's former deputy prime minister, Tariq Aziz, has suffered a mild heart stroke in 2005, while he was under the imprisonment of US forces. He is one of the high profile officials during the dictatorship rule of Saddam Hussain, which is accused of genocide and persecution of millions of Iraqis for almost three decades.

On December, 2006, Augusto Pinochet, Chile's former military leader has died from a heart attack after some time in hospital, Santiago... He is accused of killing thousands and thousands of political rivals, in addition to torture, forced disappearance, and assassination accusations took place during the Military Junta in the 1970s.

Did they finally realize, after all these years in power, that justice will always prevail?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Eric Clapton - 24 Nights

I have many albums of the legendary Eric Clapton. I love Unplugged album and the more I listen to it the more I realize how superb that album still is. I can also say the same on From The Cradle album. However, the one and only album I consider ahead of its time made by this great guitarist and singer is 24 Nights.

It is the live album where Eric Clapton played his greatest hits in addition having great guitarists and musicians as guests, such as Phil Collins, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, Nathan East, and more. The title of the album, by the way, refers to the number of times Clapton played at the Royal Albert Hall in London between 1990 and 1991.

Why this album is special to me and consider it good? The album comprises of all my favorite music genres; there is rock, blues, pop, and even classical music accompanying "slow hand" with his songs - Michael Kamen on helm for the orchestra parts. There are very little number of albums (and artists) that can acheive all that, with perfection.

Syria Looks

Syria looks is mainly a picture blog about everything beautiful in Syria. The one thing caught my eyes about this blog is how it has been organized based on the labels for each post, so anyone can imagine the amount this blog consists of.

There are many words I can describe this blog, but the one word flashes in my mind right now is "joyful". There is a feeling of peace in every picture, a sense of pride by this fellow blogger to reflect natural beauty of a country so rich with a lot of things; from history to religion, from simplicity of its buildings to vast landscapes consists of green and sand.

I felt sorry for finding out some broken links to some of the pictures, but that did not spoil anything, neither did the annoying pop ups - one time an advert about the next Spice Girls concert in London and another time offering discounts on GSM! I still enjoyed my stay at Syria looks.

Final word, this blog is a must for anyone like to know about Syria! Don't watch a lot of media, don't get dragged on to politics about the middle east, this blog can serve as a great source of information, and fun!

The link here

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Salvation For All Iraq, Not Only Anbar!

I don’t know if the the Anbar Salvation Council has its hand with the events in Al Adhamiya neighborhood in Baghdad, but according to Ahmed Abdul Ghafoor al-Samarai, head of the Sunni Endowment, all Al Qaeda elements have been drawn out from the neighborhood, after two nights of fierce fighting. Al-Samarai is also calling upon shop owners and people from the neighborhood to persume their normal daily life! The Anbar Salvation Council is well known for their success in fighting Al Qaeda and dislodge its members out of the whole westeren province of Al Anbar - it remains a point of argument if this this victory fully credited to the council or is it shared based on logestic and military support and cooperation from American forces! Despite speculations in this regards! In addition, since April 2007, the council publicly announced strong desire to help out other provinces and cities to achieve the same goal. They requested that formally from Prime Minister Maliki on numerous occasions and times, however, no official reply from the Iraqi government was received. The reason maybe from Maliki’s part is the fear from transforming this group of tribal fighters into another sort of militias that would trigger further complication to the already complicated situation. I don't know, but maybe the Iraqi prime minister believes that each tribe should move within its boundaries and not anything else! I might be wrong! However, by observing the political scene in Iraq, one can see that the Anbar Salvation Council is acting faster than anyone can anticipate. This has been illustrated by the visit of a delegation of tribes from Al Anbar province to tribes from Al Qadisiyah province a couple of days ago. I hate to say it, but for non-iraqis, Al Anbar tribes are Sunni, and Al Qadisiyah tribes are Shiite.

I won't give the Anbar Salvation Council a bigger altitude but there are a number of points to be taken into the consideration: the Anbar Salvation Council is the only group in Iraq that calls loudly and clearly for perserving Iraq's unity, by forseeing federal state solution as a roadmap towards division - Others see it differently, such as the Kurds and Al Hakim's SIIC. In addition, they want Iraq to be ruled by one leader, they want a strong government that everyone stand behind, and put their trust and safety in their hand - for that reason maybe they vow to stand behind the current government in dealing with the violence that eating up every neighborhood, city and province. Above all, the Anbar Salvation Council realised their fatal mistake when they allowed "aliens" to Iraq's culture, heritage, social background and beliefs to take over control. There are who considered the council as being traitors to the cause of ressisting the occupier, because they used to fight the American occupier, and now they took another position, but that is what I consider the strength point of the council; they have the power and ability to take things into their hands. The US forces were not successful in combating them in the past, yet, the council succeeded to combat whom they see as the most dangerous element to their existence on the country of their ancestors.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Don't Blame The Government!

Eariler today I read two articles about Iraq; both share a common theme: "who should the US administration blame for the ongoing failures in Iraq?" The first article from ABC news, which explains how public and private exchange of accusations among former and current US officials (including the White House) has reached a new peak, by directing blame regrading the deteriorating situation in Iraq on one person in particular; Paul Bremer, head of Constitutional Provisional Authority. The other article is also an interesting one from AlterNet, which goes further with the US government "blame theme". The writer of that article is assuming that any pull out of Iraq will means total failure, therefore, putting the US administration under pressure for that purpose by the American people and others around the world will not help the cause, and the American people must take full blame for that!

I find blaming the American people for being ungrateful or impatient with their government's attitude towards actions and decisions on Iraq repulsive! Repudiate one's responsibility and mistakes towards certain decisions is far worse than sitting and doing nothing in time of crisis.


Someone asked me the other day about the situation in Iraq now. I answered him with what I am hearing and reading recently from people and on the Internet: "the situation in Baghdad, in particular, is becoming much safer than ever. People started to go to shops... drive their cars around normally, more or less like in any other city in the world. However, not entirely safe, but much better". His was surprised, and asked "so the American surge plan in Iraq has finally succeeded?" I replied "No, I think the Iranian penetration plan in Iraq has succeeded"!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Coffee On The Fly

I went yesterday afternoon to a travel agency for a couple of questions. The travel agency lady working there was very helpful, more than expected, she provided me with more tips and information than I thought. While she was checking two boys came in, one of 10 and the other around 15 years old. The eldest one led the way directly from outside to the coffee machine in the middle of the hall and quietly poured himself and the other boy some. I didn't notice the boys until the travel agency lady stopped working on her computer and started gazing over my shoulders, I turned around and saw the boy picking sugar and milk for him and for the other guy. The travel agency lady couldn't take it anymore out of frustration. Calmly but loud enough she said "hello boys, did you ask permission?" The eldest boy looked confused but didn't seem to be embarrassed at all! He replied "no, we didn't" and with cold smile on his fat face he continued stirring his coffee with the sugar and milk he just put. He then tapped the other boy and pushed him slightly on his back towards the outside door. They ignored the travel agency lady saying "you can't just come in anywhere you like, boys...." They kept on walking carrying carefully the plastic glasses of hot coffee with them. They even didn't say thank you or we are sorry or anything else, which made the travel agency lady say out of frustration "thank you very much..... you are welcome... they do say that, right??" But they didn't say anything and went out.

The surprise was when I saw what it looks like the boys parents standing outside waiting for the boys! The father was watching the situation carefully from outside through the big glass. His face was a bit worried: not because of his boys' behavior, I am sure, he was worried because he saw the travel agency lady was talking to the boys earlier! After they joined them, all together as one moved away from the big glass and walked away.

I don't believe that this has nothign to do with integration or different cultures. It is about how parents can teach their children the most simple manners and behavior towards others, especially in public places. I also don't believe that this has something to do with differences in culture and ethnic background!

This is simply an good example of bad upbringing!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

No Internet!

Two days I received a phonecall from work very early in the morning, because of that I had to check something on the internet, but when I switched on my computer...humm... no Internet! I checked all the cables, router, network and windwos settings, network card, everything seemed to work fine! A couple of hours later I went to work, checked the provider website and what a relief; they published an announcement about maintenance at the same time I was trying to access the Internet.

When I came back home I thought of the moment that morning where no Internet was available... There was a feeling of suffocation, a feeling of being locked out from the rest of the world! I realized how much I became dependent on the Internet. It became so essential in my life, like many others I know; Once I was on a visit to a friend who bought a new house. One of questions asked was whether that friend already order the Internet line and which provider did he choose!

The Internet became the essential source for anything and everything; booking flights for vacation trip; to check on the latest movies, music, software, hardware, clothes, cars, toys, houses, and even finding his other half! It is where we buy and sell stuff... actually many people don't buy anything unless they search for more information on that product, such as reviews and price comparison. With technological advancement, the Internet substituted the TV, and people started to watch their favorite shows through the Internet!

Couple of weeks ago my neighbor, a very old man in his late 60s asked me to fix his computer. A week later I brought the computer back to him. I left, went back home quickly and again out to do some quick shopping. Coincidentally I met that same neighbor's wife, she was on her out of the house when we met. We greeted each other and thanked me for helping them with the computer. She told with a big grin the moment I left their house and until now her husband is glewed on his chair in front of the computer screen and surfing the internet.

Most significance than all, it made the world smaller. It is like I am holding planet earth with my both hands, I turn the globe slowly left and right, read, listen, see, and learn!

So What?

Few days ago, CBS broke out the news of disclosing the true identity of the man code named "Curve Ball". He is considered responsible for providing evidence to build the case for the invasion of Iraq.

The CNN video below focus on Colin Powel, then Secretary of State then, and how he was skeptical about the whole report, which he himself presented during the security council session about Iraq prior to the war

Two questions: first, if this news is true, who should pay the price for what happened to Iraq till now? Second question, so what? will this bring back innocents got killed to their loved ones?

Saddam Warning

This video was filmed during the Iraq-Iran war. I am not sure if this was a meeting of Ba'ath party officials or military officials, I don't know, but Saddam was saying "I swear to God, If I hear any of you talk to any citizen or to any Ba'athist, I am going to chop his body in four pieces with my own hands. Is this clear? Until a decision to be made regarding your fate, get out of here! God damn you"

The second video expose how Saddam feels to those who who oppose him by saying that he would not care less about those who opposes him, whether they are one or two or three thousand people stand against him!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sarkozy In 60 Minutes

This is an excerpt of an interview run by CBS's news program 60 minutes two weeks before the divorce of French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, from his wife Cecilia, after he has been asked about the divorce

Below is from FOX, just some sort of "analysis" on "Sarko" (as American media like to call him) attitude during the 60 minutes interview

It is the interesting the note among the many comments on the second video:
"I love how Fox News always defines pro-Bush as "pro-American," whereas the French who don't like Bush and his repeated lies about Iraq are "anti-American". You right-wingers need to get over yourselves. You ain't America. " I tend to agree with that!

However, from both videos above one can conclude that the new French president is one focus of attention - a big one - by American media.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Football Match

I am not a big fan of football (soccer for those who mix it up with American football), but this match is unique! Supporters are not that much; there are some but a lot left the stadium looking for more interesting things to do! The remaining supporters can be sighted easily, because they shattered sitting here and there among the empty seats. Some of them are focused on the game beneath; others show emotions from sadness to despise, because of the foul play and the very obvious cheating among players. One can easily observe that no single honesty in that match. The first team consists of players from different countries: there is the Iranian player who wants to score at any cost, taking advantage of having his Iraqi co-player on different positions on the fields to pass the ball to him so he can get deeper in and score; the Iraqi player, though, has no chance of either to keep the ball or to score – they must pass the ball only to the other players; There is also the American player! like a bulldozer, run heavily and aggressively, always want to keep the ball to himself, never want to pass the ball to anyone, not even to his British (who play left and right wing) or European players! There are other players in that team but with a less tempo, such as the Turkish player, but when time comes (according to their evaluation it seems) they display fantastic energy and effort! This team does not show some harmony among its players, there is some feud, such as the player with a beard who seems to have a problem with his American co-player! They are both playing in the same team, but they don’t like each other… It happens, you know. There are other players from different backgrounds and countries playing in this team, but I thought it's worth it mentioning the toughest among them.

It is a tough game, the team is fully prepared, they had training, best equipments and facilities to ensure they are fit and have victory.

But wait, what about the other team? Yes, they are doing great, they are trying their best compare it to the humble training and facilities. They can be easily recognized, because each one of them is wearing a three striped colors T-Shirt: red on top, white, and black! When they stood next to each other before the start of the game, they formed the Iraqi flag. The interesting thing is that each Iraqi player is originally from different cities and villages' allover Iraq. They also come from entirely different ethnic, social and religious backgrounds! Despite that, they illustrated most amazing harmony during their play.

The more the Iraqi team defends his goal, the more the other team becomes more aggressive, and as I mentioned earlier, many foul plays took place but the referee seems to be in a different reality. He just whistles and warns players not to do this or that, but no red cards, not even a yellow card.

The match goes on and on and honestly there were some Iraqi scores that made the public sitting at the benches jump and dance with happiness, but they were very little! Some of the Iraqi team supporters were carrying crosses, others carrying their holy books and praying, many others just watch with tears mudding their eyes, shouting endlessly with tired voices words of encouragement, all hoping that the Iraqi team will come out victorious.

Where Did Everybody Go?

Two days ago I watched a program on TV about the issue related to the immunity of the security gang band, Blackwater, in Iraq. The guest was the head of Iraqi Lawyers Union who is happen to be in Damascus, Syria at that. The interview began with a question on Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority then, who granted immunity from persecution in Iraq or the United States for security companies (among other foreign companies) working in Iraq at that time. The question that triggered the discussion and emphasis was the fact that such a decision practically should not be valid anymore after the dissolution of the Coalition Provisional Authority and the end of Bremer's term in Iraq! Therefore these companies must be persecuted for any crime they committed! The dilemma in that interview is not about what juridicially acceptable and what is not, when I looked at the top right of the screen, it says "LIVE" and below it its written "Damascus"! I was wondering if the head of Iraqi lawyers union was in Damascus for work (that might give him some sort of a better position to discuss such issues on a formal or official manner), or he is among the thousands of Iraqis who took Syria as a safe haven due to the fact that law and order is something with no significance.

This will bring me to the second bit of news I read two days ago; it is about prime minister Malaki who suddenly slammed the Iraqi constitution against the wall by appointing two new ministers in his cabinet without the consensus of the majority of the parliament. Two questions: First, what in God’s name the prime minister of Iraq is doing? Second question: Where is the rest of the members of the parliament go? That prompt me to ask a third question: why is it that many decisions require discussion and voting have been always adjourned, either due to withdrawal of some members or there is no enough votes due to absence of others? Where did everybody go?

This is the first time I hear members of parliament and other political leaders (not exiled opposition leaders I mean) run the country from outside the country…. With a remote control, I guess!!

Tom Hanks is James Bond

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

What Love Can Do!

Tom Cruise & Katie Holmes

Loyalty And Friendship!!

This time it is about a new book on former British Prime Minister Tony Blair! According to the book, Blair claimed that he had turned down a last-minute offer from US President George W Bush to stay out of the Iraq war, as the former felt it would look "pathetic."

The rest of the article below:

Bush forwarded the offer in the wake of apprehensions expressed by the US embassy in London just before the crucial Commons vote on the war that the Blair government could be brought down on the issue, The Independent quoted the book, as saying.

The book-- 'Blair Unbound' by Anthony Seldon, Peter Snowdon and Daniel Collings, to be published by Simon and Schuster next Monday-- says that Bush was so worried that he picked up the telephone and personally offered Blair a surprise opt-out.

Nine days before the Commons backed the military action, Bush astonished his then National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice by suggesting that Britain need not join the invasion and could play a less controversial role during the aftermath.

The book further claims that the US embassy in London was sending Washington worrying accounts of Blair's position.

"We were talking to backbenchers. What we heard was a fairly strident message that there was only so far that we could go, and the UN was extremely important. We heard some very ominous analyses of what could happen," one official was quoted, as saying.

Rice told the book's authors: "I remember standing in the Oval Office, and the President said, 'We can't have the British Government fall because of this decision over war.' I said: 'So what are you saying?' He said, 'I have to tell Tony that he doesn't have to do this.'"

Her first thought was to call Sir David Manning, her opposite number in Downing Street, to prepare the ground, but Bush judged there was no time. "I'm going to call him right now," he said.

"What I want to say to you is that my last choice is to have your government go down," Bush was quoted as telling Blair, adding, "We don't want that to happen under any circumstances. I really mean that."

If it would help, he would let Blair "drop out of the coalition" and the US would find some other way for Britain to participate. Rice described the conversation as "very emotional" for the President.

Blair replied: "I said I'm with you. I mean it." One confidant explained: "Having taken it so far, backing out seemed to him a rather pathetic thing to do.

"The book goes on to claim that Colin Powell, who was Secretary of State, plotted with Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, to persuade Blair to restrain Bush. But Blair did not stand up to him when the crunch came."

In the end, Blair would always support the President. I found this very surprising... Jack (Straw) and I would get him all pumped up about an issue. And, he'd be ready to say 'look here, George.' But as soon as he saw the President he would lose his steam," Powell told the authors.

In 2002, according to the book, Blair decided to write to Bush to express his concern that the momentum towards war was growing too fast. But he "faltered and pulled his punches" and in effect told the President: "You know, George, whatever you decide to do, I'll be with you."

Is that an attempt to put all the blame on Blair, and clear up the case of his fellow politicians from both Labour and Conservative parties? On the other hand, I wish that people who oppose the war and those who want to stop the extinction of the Iraqi people day after day can be that close, loyal and bonded to each other, and with such a determination, the way this book depicted Bush and Blair??

Eye Contact

Eye contact is a method used by many people as means for communication. Some consider it impudence, when someone talk to another one and keep a focused eye contact on the other. There are who think otherwise: I used to know a girl who hated the idea of a person talking to her while his eyes rolling now and then in all directions. She believed that a person doing such is not respecting her and she would never talk to him again in her life!! In other words, her concept is that an eye contact is like ""I'm listening..." without saying the word. Some see it as a symbol of winning certain discussion when keep eye contact on the other party involved in converstaion.

I think this has to do with how a person has been raised up! The way his or her personality came to be after certain age. It might have something to do with society or a certain culture background. Many in the west agree that eye contact with conversation partner is a proof of self confidence and personality strength. In some oriental cultures, they believe that personality strength and self confidence coems by voice tone, body language or even a gesture, and not from disrespectful and challenging look in the eys of another person, not that some culture consider eye contact between man and woman forbidden due to elements of attraction or flirting.

It is a little bit confusing, because I can't rule out which is right or wrong! However, the whole issue might be focusing on how we can have a conversation with someone and let that person be confident that you are paying good attention to him and that you are interested in the subject matter during that conversation. It also depends on that person, and what he believe in as guidlines for a healthy conversation, accordingly, a person can use eye contact or not.

Monday, October 29, 2007


This is the name of a heavy metal band from Iraq. Acrassicauda is Latin, which means "Black Scorpion". The four-men band got together in 2001, influenced mainly by bands such as Iron Maiden and Slayer. After the fall of Saddam and deteriorating situation in Baghdad, the band decided to find a safe haven and they fled to neighboring Syria.

Below is a trailer from a documentary made by a Canadian journalist about the band and heavey metal in general.

A full article on the documentary and the band can be found here

According to their official website, the band is still working on their first album during their stay in Syria.

Heaven And Hell: New Album In 2008

I loved the fact that news come from the great Joe Siegler himself regarding the announcement of Heaven and Hell planning to release a new studio album in 2008. This is something that many Iommi / Black Sabbath fans, including myself, are waiting for - except maybe for hardcore Ozzy fans who prefer to have a Sabbath album instead.

I almost fell out of my chair from laughing when reading the last bit of the news... hilarious

The fact that one line statement by Geezer Butler generated such an excitement, it shows how fans are loyal to bands such as Black Sabbath (or Heaven and Hell in this case) and how much they are always looking for new music.
The link to the news is here

7 Random Facts

  1. The oldest toy I still have to this day is a small action figure of Chewbacca (from Star Wars). This year it marked the 30'Th anniversary.

  2. I never had jet lag in my life!

  3. Music, any genre, must be listened to loud, I can't listen to music any other way

  4. One dream I keep on hoping will come true: deep sea diving

  5. Knowledge about the world around me mostly gained from reading the enormous number of books belonged to my father and mother.

  6. One movie can't get fed up with: Heat. Every character in that film represents many combined symbols of everything human nature is made of.

  7. If there were a piece of music that can be applied to a personality of a person, I would choose "concerto for group and orchestra"!

Father & Son

A colleague of mine had his father taken recently to the hospital. After few days he was released, but require a lot of care by people around him due to his old age and blood pressure. He is in his 70s! My colleague, who is in his early 40s and still a bachelor. For that reason, the son took all responsibilities of taking care for his beloved father, who is my nature rejects the fact that he is getting old and that his health won't allow him to do many things, such as driving for long distance and time, or go out a lot... He even get furious of the fact that he is seeing his own friends being ill. Due to that, the son noticed how his father turn more depressed by the day, and complaining more than before... He even started questioning the purpose for being alive in the first place if he (or others in his age) suddenly becoming an eating and sleeping machines. The son tried many times to comfort his poor father, by helping him with shopping or take him to visit other friends and come back for him...etc This didn't help the situation, because the father was sometimes getting angry at his son.

Last weekend it was one of these days with such a very discussion when the son was almost fed up and told his father: "Look to what is happening in Iraq; fathers and mothers go to the market for shopping but they don't come back for their children, why? because they were blown up by a suicide bomber!!! what do you think of that? We can't keep complaining about the good life we have while there are others like us, humans, die with no reason. Do you think it is justice? is it fair for them? Shouldn't we see it as a lesson to be more subtle and satisfied?" The father looked at his son, his eyes slowly relaxed and his rage against himself and his son vanished in seconds. He nodded and said "yes, you are right, son, you are right." The old man was quiet for the rest of the evening, is it thinking of what is happening to people in Iraq, or is it a matter of reconsidering his thoughts?

P.S. I put the picture of Kirk and Micheal Douglas, because my colleague's father's situation is similar to the current situation Kirk Douglas is experiencing now, and my colleague is some how acts like Michael's... not physically but attitude wise.

Bad Attitude!!

Two things I really hate while having a conversation: The first when someone who abruptly interrupt someone else. I was with a number of people in a meeting at work to discuss urgent issues. During the discussion someone asked me a question. I started giving the answer and before finishing the first sentence some idiot I don't know who or what was his position interrupted me very loudly saying that he has a different opinion. The person who asked first addressed the question for a second time to me and the same thing happenned again, that same brickhead interrupted me and started giving his own nonsense contrasting point of view... without even listening to what I was saying. For the third time, I have been asked the same question. This time I couldn't take it anymore. I exploded! I told them "how do you expect me to give an answer, or to discuss any issue while there is someone here keep on interrupting me? what worse that I am not able to finish one sentence!! I believe that some here do not want to hear the answer, therefore I believe the discussion on the matter related to this question must be discussed on another time." and I left the meeting.

The second thing that makes me start boiling from anger is when suddenly someone you are engaged with in a conversation stops responding without any further notice! One of the methods used at work for communication among colleagues and different levels within the organization is to use messaging tools - something similar to MSN messanger. I talk and work with many people from different countries, and some of them I don't even know what they look like. So the concept of reading facial expressions does not apply here. There comes that that guy out of the blue and send me a message with a question or a request for something to do related to work. I give the answer and ask him to verify that everything is working and that the answer provided some sort of solution or at least explanation to what he was wondering about, and there you go... no reply. I give one minute, two minutes and I send another message asking for status or feedback... again nothing. Couple of days ago happened twice! I kept on sending messages asking where he is until he replied and then it was like I caught him with my bare hands from his neck. I asked him why is he not answering? he didn't give me clear answer, because of that I gave him a very good lesson in good manners and how it is not polite to just ignore the other...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

No TV!

I couldn't have proper conversation while the TV was on, even when the sound was muted. I switched it off. Afterwards while I was doing some stuff at home I remembered that the TV was still off. I stood in front of that black box and I kept staring at it. I smiled!

More than five years ago my TV set did not work anymore and I couldn't afford buying a new one, so I decided to have some time off from such a luxury, until a friend of mine managed to get it fixed. I remained without a TV for a long time. Friends were surprised "how come someone who is almost addicted to watching movies, news, and music can live that long without watching any TV?" Most of them asked such a question. To have an idea on how I consider the television as a source of information; sometimes I used to stay watching BBC Learning programs almost for the whole night. I enjoyed every bit of it. However, I didn't care more or less, I spent the time listening to the radio, books became again an essential part of my life, and of course browsing the Internet on daily basis, all provided me with the information and knowledge (and fun on many occasions) I needed. After some time, I noticed the change, not only in being enjoying the new status, but also on my friends. One of them told me that my place became like the fortress of solitude. I laughed because of comparing my small apartment with superman's secret home on the Arctic. Another friend in fact envied me for the atmosphere as a whole; dim lights inside, from the outside one could see random spots of light here and there of other apartments from the distance. Sometimes the moon's light just glow with charm through the main big windows in the living room. That sight was not completed without an accompanying sound to it; the music used to be played out almost the whole time from the speakers located in different corners of my apartment... Even when listening to the news, there was something different about it from watching it on TV! It was like giving more value to the event. There was always a book half open and a pen resting on a notepad, all left lying permenantly on the small wooden table between the two leather sofas.

I wondered many times about the delight of the moment... I didn't want to find an explanation! I didn't look for reason!
After the television was fixed, things were back to the way they used to. Do I miss that period with no TV in house? yes, very much! I got used to it, I loved it, in fact! I won't be exaggerating if I say it was magical.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Baghdad Burning At The Border

I read today a post from Baghdad Burning blog. It tells the story about the situation of Iraqis at the broder between Syria and Iraq. A very strong and emotional post and it struck me how time did not change, in fact it got worse! more Iraqis are forced to leave because of their government, and the situation put forcefully on them!

Some highlights from that post are: " Apparently, our esteemed puppets in power met with Syrian and Jordanian authorities and decided they wanted to take away the last two safe havens remaining for Iraqis- Damascus and Amman." It driving me crazy thinking that those "puppets in power" are the enemies of Saddam when he was in power and they dispised every single action he took. Why they are doing the same? why they follow the same practices?

I liked that remark "The sun beat down on everyone equally- Sunnis, Shia and Kurds alike" and "I cried that night because for the first time in a long time, so far away from home, I felt the unity that had been stolen from us in 2003. "
Iraqis have found their stolen unity again, but in another country!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


A smile from a child can make someone very happy. Helping others can bring happiness. A smile from the one I love is the my ultimate happiness. Ice cream is the source of happiness for a child. A smile with a compliment from somone on the street can bring happiness. Meditation is for some people a great source of happiness. I am very happy when I achieve a goal at work or home or with family, or maybe when reaching the top of a mountain. In fact, friendship (new and old) and spending time with friends are sources of happiness.

Satisfaction can provide great happiness

But, can happiness be fulfilled when someone chasing a dream?

Many Ways To Protest

Protest is a peaceful way for a group of people to demonstrate their opinion about certain issue or an event- well in some cases it goes out of hand and there you go… big fight and police interfere with their sticks hammering left and right! Last Friday an unknown man poured dye into Rome's Trevi Fountain, turning the water into bright blood-red. More information on this here. There are many forms for protests, and for many purposes. There are protests related to an international event, such as the many and many protests against the war in Iraq. An example is shown on a video by heavy metal band, System of A Down video, called Boom:

There are others more spicific protests, such as that against recycled water, which in the protests' opinion will cause infertility. However, there are other protests that goes more and more specific, such as this one....

Some would seek a leader for their protest, like in this one...

Sometimes it goes out of the hand...

There are more explicit, maybe too obvious like the one in 2006 against global dependence on oil.

While watching and reading all this, I thought of the question: What is the strangest way to protest?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Real Iraqi Food

Anyone want to know what typical Iraqi food??

Check out Sunshine's blog

Thanks, Sunshine, for this great blog and great post... you made me hungry :)

10 Rules Of Integration

  1. Stop arguring about politics and religion for a minute, talk about something else, TV series for example?

  2. Stop negativity regarding immigrants and individials from originally from other countries living here. Najib Ahmali, is great, really. Focusing on positive symbols within society will encourage convergence

  3. Stop allowing social and municipal organisations for specific ethnic groups from becoming a lobby, it will generate more isolation and will lead to seclusion rather than serve and support.

  4. Stop this debate on the headscarf! In many cultures women do cover their heads, why bother with a piece of cloth?

  5. Stop whining on this is "our culture and this yours". Respect each other's cultures and social background, we both live on the same spot, bashing one another will have severe results on everyone, inlcuding children. Learning from each other is a rich and useful experience.

  6. Stop beleiving in what everything the media says, sometimes it depict people (not only Arabs) differently, because it always focus on the extreme of things.

  7. Stop talking about integration this and integration that, check many work places, it is full of people working as a team despite their different colors and mentalities i.e. have something in common to do.

  8. Stop being discouraged by the language. It is difficult, yes, just keep on talking, you will notice how much you made progress without notice.

  9. Stop generalization, address the details of the problem rather than saying that most problems are because of that community or the other.

  10. Stop staring with puzzelment when someone tell you that he is the expert who came to fix your computer, or who would make the design for your house. There are a lot who want a chance and will grab it and be super effecient.


Last weekend I was invited to a barbecue by friend. There I met a lot of people, some of them I could recognize and others I met for the first time. One of the visitors was a man from Sweden, on a week visit to the Netherlands, so the talk was about life here and compares it to Sweden. His impression was very high of the Netherlands. That answer did not make one of the guests happy, that was Z, and he didn’t say anything but I can see that on his face. For that reason I asked him how long has he been living in the Netherlands, and he answered “10 years”. I felt what next to come, but I wanted to hear it, so I asked him if he “can give us based on his experience living in the Netherlands, using one word”. My voice was a little louder than usual so the rest turned their attention to us. The young man squeezed hard on his teeth and said “Garbage! My experience of living in this country is like garbage”. I was shocked because of the intensity when he was saying the word “garbage”. Honestly I wasn’t expect it to be that hard, especially from someone who already live here for more than 10 years, working in an international company and from the outside look no one can expect but to get the impression that he has a happy and comfortable life. However, immediately I snapped him with the “why?” I wanted to know!! He started telling me (us) his story in a certain way that made me feel like he was either; relieved, as if he was letting it out his deepest secret, or he was not happy with my question but decided to give the answer, like “I am going to tell you why… I am not afraid of you!” sort of thing.

Without going into all details, he was newly graduate who came to this country and lived with his relatives who promised him to arrange all papers related to his residency. Later on he had a big fight with his relatives because of money and was kicked out to the street. From there he tried to find ways to get a job, money, and papers to stay in the country. He had no work experience – I mentioned he has just finished studying in his own country before coming here. He worked in restaurants, shops, farms…etc and he suffered immensely from the treatments of his work owners in these different places, until finally managed to find his current job and settle down. He has plans to buy a new house for himself!!

While driving late night heading back home I was wondering what forces made a person like that guy decided to stay in the Netherlands, even plan further for his future and life, such as buying a house in a country he doesn’t like? He has no wife, girlfriend, and he doesn’t talk to his relative anymore. He has no friends – he acknowledged that, and he doesn’t want to have any more friends because making friends mean inviting problems and he had enough problems already in the past years. Is his job the main factor feeling secure? I realize that his country cannot provide him with the same life style, he acknowledged that too and talked badly about many aspects in life exists in his own country. In addition, he told me with sad tone that he couldn’t go back to his own country at any moment in the past 10 years, because he consider that some sort of disgrace and embarrassment to his own self, especially when seeing his old colleagues at the university already made a career and moved on with their lives while he was still wobbling!

Does this make him a bad person? Or to be sympathized with?

One thing I can say; that young man is lonely to highest level, something that might make him envious of others in some cases, but that doesn’t make him in particular harmful to others because some keep their feelings towards others inside.

Fend Off Central Authorities!!

I heard on the news that the Iraqi Kurds rejected calls to deport Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) members from the north of Iraq into, which in itself gave some motive for the PKK to do exactly what the Turkish had in mind: incursion through Turkey and attacking the troops, leaving tens of both sides either killed or wounded. On the Kurdish Iraqi political front, Massoud Barazani and Jalal Talabi rejected calls to hand over members of the banned Kurdish party. Barazani expressed his readiness (and his people?)to fight the Turkish troops in case of any incursion. However, Talabani, Iraqi president had a little bit more rational to deal with this issue by saying that the PKK must put down their weapons and turn into a political organization and submit their cause through parliamentary means, especially (according to Talabani) that the PKK actions and operations in Turkey and Iran won’t serve the overall Kurdish cause.

Yesterday I watched an interview on TV with a high official in the regional government of Iraq's Kurdistan. After a long question answer related to the current crisis with the Turkish government, the program host asked: "in your opinion, what the solution?" He replied with emphasis “the solution goes through us, and the government in Ankara must have direct contact and have a transparent dialogue with us to reach a solution for this problem”.

This is one bold statement by ignoring and bypassing the central government in dealing with issues related to a group of foreigners hiding in the mountains of the same country.

Friday, October 19, 2007


If there was something I would really miss (among other things) if one day for a reason or another I decided to move from the Netherlands to another country (not that I am planned to, though) It is the stroopwafel.

I am addicted to stroopwafels.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

We’re Still Alive...

A couple of months ago an Iraqi man of 70 years old died of a heart attack. His poor family mourned his death almost with no one, not a lot of people (including relatives) managed to attend his funeral, because of fear from false checkpoints in different areas in Baghdad. Yesterday I called the man's youngest son to see how he and his family are doing. He told me about the continuous tragic situation ... how people are struggling with living regarding high prices of everything from fruits and vegetables to meat, from the level of corruption penetrated every single aspect in society..etc I asked him: "so people now are more concerned with that more than with the daily kidnapping, killing and other forms of violence?" He replied "They do fear death, but they lost hope in life too, some of them wish to die. Imagine, I was talking the other day to a friend and he mentioned my father. He said "God rest his soul, he's now in a better place. We should be happy for him, because we’re still alive... in this misery!""

Brighter Than A Thousand Suns

We are not the sons of God
We are not His chosen people now
We have crossed the path He trod
We will feel the pain of it beginning

Shadow fingers rise above
Crying figures stab the desert sky
Oh behold the power of man
On its tower, ready for the fall

Locking hands together well
Raise a city, build a living hell
Join the race to suicide
Listen for the tolling of the bell

Out of the universe
A strange life is born
Unholy union
Trinity reformed

Yellow sun, it's evil twin
In the black the wings deliver him
We will split our souls within
Atom seed to nuclear dust is riven

Out of the universe
A strange life is born
Unholy union
Trinity reformed

Out of the darkness
Brighter than a thousand suns

Bury your morals
And bury your dead
Bury your head in the sand
E=MC squared you can relate
How we made God with our hands

Whatever would Robert
Have said to his God
Of how we made war with the sun
E=MC squared you can relate
How we made God with our hands

All nations are rising
Through acid veils of love, and hate
Chain letters of Satan
Uncertainty us all to this

All nations are rising
Through acid veils of love, and hate
Cold fusion and fury

Divide and conquer while ye may
Others preach and others fall and pray
In the bunkers where we'll die
There the executioners they lie

Bombers launch with no recall
Minutes warning of the missile fall
Take a look at your last day
Guessing you won't have the time to cry

Out of the universe
A strange love is born
Unholy union
Trinity reformed

Out of the darkness
Brighter than a thousand suns

Holy Father we have sinned
from the song "brighter than a Thousand Suns" by Iron Maiden

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Joke Of The Day

The Man in the photo smiling is Lieutenant General Carter F. Ham. He is the chief of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, US army, of course. He said today during an interview with a French News agency that Iraq would take the defense of its national sovereignty "quite seriously" in the event of a Turkish incursion. Actually he said “It is important to note that Iraq is a sovereign nation, and they would take their sovereignty and the defense of their territory quite seriously."

The rest of the article is here

Can you feel how he emphasize when he say "it is important to note..."?? I wasn’t aware that an occupied country can also be considered a sovereign state!! Is this man stoned or something? Or did foreign forces left the country yesterday night while I was sleeping?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Questions On Personal Characteristics - P.1

Can someone suddenly decide unconsciously to give up certain characteristics within his personality? There was a colleague of mine during university days. He was very friendly with everyone, always a smile on his face, and known for his good heart. Sitting with him for hours on many occasions surprised me how an emotional person he is – he used to tell me his secrets too, about his first and only love in his life to a fellow student in college who dumped him later for another guy. More than a year went by before I met him again and I was shocked: He was not the same person; I was talking to a cold-hearted man, so dried out of anything related to humanity. He did not want to listen to anything but to himself, and his “achievements”! Do I have to acknowledge that I have been deceived by that person for years till that moment after long absence which gave me the opportunity to see his real face?

How can someone who is for years famous for having certain characteristic suddenly change similar to the way I witnessed with that colleague? Personal characteristics are either inherited or acquired since childhood! I am not talking about meeting someone, get together very well and become close friends, and after sometime gradually discover certain qualities that might effect (and later ruin) that friendship. It is about real characteristics and personalities of people you used to know for years and for some reason… that’s it: for some reason they change!

The most important question related to this is: will that person be back to his old-self? Can I say that the change he has been going through is merely hype?

Do certain personal characteristics change over time? Does age has something to do with it? Maybe it is something to do with the amount of energy one has, or a person’s energy has nothing to do with it? I mean inner energy of a person to be able to do something in particular for years of being able to show certain quality for years. For example, a good listener is someone who many friends (relatives too) like to sit with, talk, trust and seek for answers. Can that good listener suddenly change his habit and becomes something else? Something else not necessarily negative, but he might have the feeling that he has no energy anymore to listen to other like he used to. Or there are other elements in life that made some kind of restrictions within that person inner self? It might be life itself when a person getting older he or she becomes more occupied with many tasks and responsibilities where time becomes more valuable. But would that also be considered a change in someone’s personal characteristics or qualities?

I thought if the above can be applied on a relationship between a man and a woman! No, I don't see it relevant at all! Maybe because of the nature of intimacy that make such an analysis of personal characteristics approached differently.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bab El Hara 2

The final episode of this series in its second part has ended last Saturday. Bab El Hara is really a great series ("Bab" means gate or door in English, and El Hara means Neighborhood, or district)! The title of this series episodes refer to the main gate of a neighborhood in old Damascus, Syria, and the events surrounding the life of the inhabitants of that neighborhood with each other and towards others from nearby neighborhoods. Like millions of Arabs around the world, I was paralyzed on my seat watching this show every night from 9PM onwards - I used to watch it for a second time on another channel at 10PM - it sounds crazy, in the weekend I watched it during the day for a third time sometimes! I can’t recall when was the last time I followed every single episode of an Arabic show. There are many reasons I loved that show; one for sure is simplicity; no gigantic special effects (it is not Star Wars), neither the useless overestimated budget applied on production like many Egyptian drama series in recent years. I also loved mostly the little details on every scene (big salute to the director, Bassam Il Mila), such as the scene when women from the neighborhood as a group visited Suaad; The focus of the scene was on the group of old women with their daughters entering the house and the way they greeted each other after long time no see. It was beautiful to watch small details like young Khairiyah sneaking through the other women and walked exactly behind her mother with a shy smile on her face. There were many other small details I considered adorable while watching Bab El Hara, a gesture, a wave and even a movement by a man or a woman, all were done perfectly. The atmosphere reflecting Damascus in the early 20’s century was so real and believable, from the grocery, rituals of Ramadan, the food, the customs, the alleys in the neighborhood, even love. The relationship between the different characters, old and new captivated the hearts and minds of all.

I don’t know if it was the director who is so smart, or the actors (main and secondary roles) are so perfect and professional, or both? Each character played by each actor was done in thrilling and astonishingly excellent way. It is the first time that I fail to find a point of criticism towards an Arab show ever.

I read that in Arab countries it was like martial laws imposed during the time the show time. The effect on Arabs in Europe was no difference, the majority was glued in front of the television screens waiting to see what will happen to Abu Isam during the period he locked himself up in his shop, or what is the next move by the wicked Firial (Um Taufiek), or how and when the killer of the neighborhood’s leader, Al Za’eem, will be caught and justice prevail… The episode was packed with thrilling events surrounding numerous characters. The influence the show made has reached real life in some Arab countries: I read that young teens on the streets of Lebanon adapted the same terminology and nicknames used in the show, such as calling the brave by the name of “Ageed”, which the nickname of one of the main characters, Abu Shihab, or children shouting in the streets “beleele …” imitating the villain, Abu Ghalib in the series, or some people who exchanged SMS messages wishes each that God protect him from the magic of Um Abdallah (played by the great actress Muna Wassif).

I loved the end, and loved the way the two main actors in the show, Abbas Il Noory (Abu Isam) and Samer Al Masry (Abu Shihab – Ageed) appeared at the end titles wearing suits and without the familiar make up we used to see them on that show – they looked younger, actually more handsome, and with cute sense of humor indicated that part 3 of Bab El Hara might have a lucky woman will be the wife of Abu Shihab.

Gale's Life Thoughts

The intention is not to advertise one's blog on my own blog, but this one I am really enjoy reading recently, it is Gale's:

The variety of topics she writes about and diversity of feelings expressed on her blog (and within the comments and replies on her own posts) are really outstanding!

Above all reasons I liked most about Gale's blog is the simplicity!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Whom Do You Follow?

First, Happy Eid to all Muslims all over the world, and special wishes to our beloved ones in Iraq. May this Eid mark the end of sorrow and pain put upon us and on them and that Iraq and Iraqis regain good and prosper life, forever.

As its always the case on every year, not all Muslim countries announced today as the first day of the Eid. Some countries are celebrating that today, though, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Libya, and Muslims in non-Arab countries such as those in China, Afghanistan and Philippine followed along. While Egypt, Syria and Oman announced that Saturday is the first day of the Eid! It has been the case for years, and every year I see on TV the endless discussions about how to put an end to such a dilemma. However, there is none and it seems that even if one muslim climb the roof of his house in the middle of the night and see the sign in the sky (a crescent), he will not be able to celebrate the joyful days because the country did not announce through its official religious channels!

The chaotic situation, in my opinion, is when someone like me living in Europe, do I have to celebrate the Eid on the same as in Iraq, because I am an Iraqi? The Sunnis are celebrating today and it looks like the Shiite are going to do that tomorrow! But I don’t believe in this Sunni and Shiite concept! I have no option but to celebrate for four days instead of the three days in this case, but that against the rules, right? A little bit of simple thinking provided me with more than one solution, in fact: we should count the days of the month of Ramadan and accordingly decide which day to start celebrating the Eid. The other solution is to follow suit on a one religious figure in the Netherlands (for sure there is one, or not?) who would watch the sky at night for a clear sigting of the crescent then declare the next day as the first day of the Eid. Simple, especially if we take into the consideration that Ramadan rituals (fasting) is based on the local time in the country where I live i.e. The Netherlands, not local time in Jakarta!

Yet, there are some here who decided to reject such simplcitiy: the mother of a friend of mine met yesterday with her neighbor, and during conversation she asked her about the first day of the Eid. The woman neighbor looked confidence and replied “whom do you follow?” She meant Sunni or Shiite??

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Immigrants, A Disaster

Three days ago I waked down to the entrance of the building where I live, when I saw on advert-board a big peace of paper printed on it "Immigranten een Ramp", which means “Immigrants, a disaster”.

I don’t know if the person who hang that piece of paper meant a certain ethnic group or is he generalizing to include all non-Dutch citizens, especially that there in addition to me there are Asians, Indians, Spanish and even Albanians living in the same building! Or is it targeted as the case now (by some) towards Islam and Muslims in particular?

In the evening, when I came back home from work, that piece of paper was taken off!

There are many changes within the way the Dutch conceive immigrants, this started by the late 1990s, but it reached its climax after the death of the famous film director, Theo van Gogh by an extremist who thought that he could change things with a knife, a sword, and a pistol! Since then the smile I used to see on street from the by-passers has diminished. There is fear, and fear leads to rejection – and for many to hatred. This is among other reasons why one and a half million people voted in the last general election for someone yet with another extremist ideology i.e. Geert Wilders

Yet, it is not that immigrants living in the wet green low land must pack their stuff and leave, because doom’s day for them is near due to this kind of behavior by some. There are a lot efforts clearly witnessed to bridge the ever expanding gap between the two: It is like some “forces” trying their best to lay down a sort of a status quo of hatred towards Muslims living the Netherlands (which in no way that is going to impact other ethnic groups), however, there are who counter attack (or defend) these forces.

It is very interesting to see a documentary the other day about a couple of interviews with Jewish scholars and academics who gave their opinion about Muslims in the Netherlands, mainly, when they resembled them with the Jewish during Nazi Germany, when the whole situation began with hatred within the one society, and gradually developed into a mass humiliation, deportation, which ended up towards mass concentration camps for them. I won’t ask if this would happen in the Netherlands, and see Muslims are relocated in such camps, but as one friend of mine once told me: “Unfortunately, any major event similar to the death of Gogh would take place in the future, accusations will be directed to ALL Muslims in the country and not only to the one who committed that crime”.