Wednesday, October 31, 2007
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 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.
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.
- 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.
- I never had jet lag in my life!
- Music, any genre, must be listened to loud, I can't listen to music any other way
- One dream I keep on hoping will come true: deep sea diving
- Knowledge about the world around me mostly gained from reading the enormous number of books belonged to my father and mother.
- 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.
- 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"!
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.
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.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
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!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
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!
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
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
- Stop arguring about politics and religion for a minute, talk about something else, TV series for example?
- 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
- 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.
- Stop this debate on the headscarf! In many cultures women do cover their heads, why bother with a piece of cloth?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stop being discouraged by the language. It is difficult, yes, just keep on talking, you will notice how much you made progress without notice.
- Stop generalization, address the details of the problem rather than saying that most problems are because of that community or the other.
- 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.
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.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
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!""
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
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
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
Out of the darkness
Brighter than a thousand suns
Holy Father we have sinned
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
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
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
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).
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:
Friday, October 12, 2007
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
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”.