Jordan rallies support for Iraq polls

From the BBC

Jordan is hosting a meeting of Iraq’s neighbours on Thursday to rally support for Iraqi elections on 30 January. It wants all the nations present to issue a "clear message" to Iraqis that they should vote in the poll, Jordanian Foreign Minister Hani Mulki said.

However, Iran’s foreign minister is boycotting the meeting in protest at comments by Jordan’s King Abdullah. The king accused Tehran of meddling in Iraq and trying to create a Shia sphere of influence in the region.

I’m of the belief that Iraqis should participate in the elections. Boycotting the polls won’t do the Iraqis any good, as it will only extend the current state of anarchy! To the Iraqis out there, I say, make your voice heard: Cast your ballots.

33 thoughts on “Jordan rallies support for Iraq polls”

  1. Let’s examine what history has to say. Never in modern history has a nation voted for a list of candidates who were utterly unknown to the electorate. The electoral commission refuses to release the names of the candidates on these lists.
    The way the Iraqi elections are set up is as follows: A leading cleric or party leader is atop a list of followers, sympathisers, or strategic allies. Who they are remains unknown. Only his name is known.
    Therefore, Iraqis will be voting blindly for people they do not even know of.
    Furthermore, what kind of elections is it when Iranian-born, non-Arabic speaking Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani issues a fatwa saying, in no misleading terms, vote for the Shia list or you will burn in the fires of hell.
    What kind of elections is it when the electoral ‘lists’ have no pronounced platform. Why are they running, one should ask? Only at the behest of seizing power? If so, then we have entered a Machiavellian nightmare which, if Nicolo knew anything of politics, will certainly end in a bloodbath.
    And under occupation? No, don’t point to Japan or Germany. In Japan, the God-head Emperor Hirohito ordered the Japs to work with the Americans. And Germany, yeah, can you say Berlin Wall?
    So, Iraqis go to vote for someone they have never heard of or know running on an undeclared agenda under the watchful eye of an Abrams tank.
    This isn’t an election, its a farce.
    Why have anything half-baked?
    To say there is no choice but to vote is in itself undemocratic.
    The Shia community are not voting, they are affirming the political wills of their Imams and Ayatollahs to ascend to power. Nothing else.

  2. Metalordie, maybe let’s examine what happened in Afghanistan.
    I personally think Iraqis have a lot more going for them than Afghanis did. Dear friends of ours in Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Arbeil and acquaintances in other cities would certainly take offense at your patronizing attitude taken straight from the editorial pages of the NYT.
    Maybe it would be better to examine what the Iraqis themselves say.

  3. Oh Wendy!!
    AM SO SO SO SORRY. I sincerely apologise to your dear, dear friends in Baghdad, Basra, Mosul and Arbeil (I thought it was Arbil) if I offended them.
    Really. To all the Iraqis who are Wendy’s pals and lapdogs, I so humbly apologise, except for one thing:
    I AM IRAQI, Wendyo! See, it’s not the NYT times you have to worry about, but the true, unadulterated voice of Iraq. The Iraq that was around 7,000 years ago while your ancestors were still picking lice off one another.
    Don’t talk to me about patronising. You just can’t stand to be told you had it wrong. AND STILL HAVE IT WRONG.
    Newsflash, Wendyo. The entire Iraq war, concoted by your dear friends Douglas Feith, Rummy, and the Chalabis of Tel Aviv, was based on a lie which you swallowed hook, line and sinker.
    Where was your voice when the WMD scenario was proven a lie?
    Where was it when it turned out Iraq had NO connections with bin Laden, his mom, his nanny or his mistress?
    Where was it when Iraqis cried out from 13 years of the most punitive sanctions regimen ever imposed on any country, carried out by the US and imposed by the international community of cowards?
    Where were you when Madeline Albright was asked whether the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to malnutrition and disease – as a direct result of the sanctions – was worth containing Saddam?
    And when she answered it was worth it? Why didn’t you contact your dear friends in Basra then?
    Shall I go on with this impromptu history lesson, or should I let you make a fool of yourself.
    Here is one more tidbit, leave Iraq to the Iraqis. Not the ones born and raised in W’s back yard, the ones they paraded on CNN who called Iraq EYERACK, but the real Iraqis who are sticking it out day after day after disastrous day.
    God bless the Iraqi resistance.
    How’s that for patronising. Sheesh, some wannabe telling an Iraqi what to think.

  4. Metalordie, I apologize for offending you. But you obviously haven’t been the places where my voice has been heard.I WAS there.
    I won’t bore you with trying to validate my relationship to Iraq and I don’t care about being ‘right’. Your views are set and I know they are not “the unadulterated voice of Iraq”. My views on Iraq come from Iraqis who have never seen the US, not the US government nor whoever Douglas Feith is.
    You DO owe my friends an apology, however sarcastic. Nonetheless, I hope your future includes a country where you can say whatever you want in whatever manner you choose.

  5. I owe your friends nothing. In fact, if they adhere to the flights of fantasy you tried pushing here, well they owe 28 million Iraqis an apology.
    So does every single tax-paying American. I would suggest y’all start by visiting every destroyed home in Falluja and stopping off at the mass burial grounds for all the women and children butchered by the wheels of democracy.
    And I hope your future includes a country where you can say whatever you want in whatever manner you choose. We all know what happens when someone decries a Bush policy – they get fired, get visited by the FBI, on and on. You can’t even wear an anti-Bush shirt in high school.
    You can’t even question the WH gospel. Phil Donahue tried…he got fired…

  6. Metalordie
    What flight of fancy? Suggesting that the people of Iraq have as least as good a chance as the people of Afghanistan? That Iraqis are not capable of governing themselves?
    I’m not talking about Bush and his policy. I’m not a tax-paying American. Last I heard, it was your former leader who was responsible for mass graves.
    I asked some of my Iraqi friends about your comments.They just shook their heads.
    Just out of curiosity, no sarcasm, what’s your role in rebuilding? Do you have a blog?

  7. In rebuilding? What rebuilding? And who are your friends masquerading as Iraqis? Are they Kurds who have not been touched by the insecurity in Iraq and are pining for secession?
    They just shook their heads? What no great praise of Allawi? Tsk, tsk, tsk…
    Do Iraqis have a role in rebuilding? Did you miss Bremer’s Law 39 which is irrevocable?
    Maybe you missed the one about only 818 million of some 19 billion being spent on rebuilding.
    Go to Mosul, where families no longer go to work or send their children to school. Ask them about the rebuilding…
    Maybe you would like to focus on rebuilding the museums and the national heritage that was stolen from the people of Iraq.
    Or did you mean rebuilding Falluja with ICBMs?
    Here’s a message to your so-called Iraqi friends. Grow a backbone. Realise that Iraq was targeted because it was Iraq. Not because of Saddam. Not because of WMDs.
    Oh and remind them of the dozen or so Shia villages in 1920 who rose up against foreign rule and the appointment of a foreign king and were in return gassed by the RAF. But that’s okay, eh, whats a few more dead ragheads.

  8. Interesting debate? WE know metalordie is Iraqi, but I am curious, Wendy, what are you? I am not sure because you say you are not a tax-paying American and you refer to your Iraqi friends. I am just interested in where you are from and the role you play with rebuilding Iraq. Are you living in Iraq or near it? Please explain.

  9. I want to ask a few questions. Does the so-called civilized world really believe that the Iraqi resistance hate freedom?
    The French Resistance fought the Nazis and their exploits are now legendary. The same for the Dutch Resistance. The Sepoy Mutiny of the mid-19th century redefined the British empire’s relationship with India. Simon Bolivar and his revolutionaries. Even Che Guevara is idolized.
    The American revolutionaries are considered the heroic forefathers of the United States.
    So, why is the Iraqi resistance ostracised?
    Is it because of their tactics? Must we really revisit the tactics of other resistance movements throughout history?
    I am always repulsed when I hear of the revulsion in western media when someone working with the occupation forces is executed or beheaded but there seems near glorification each time an F-15 drops its load on a house in Falluja. Or Ramadi. Or Samarra.
    Why no revulsion there? Are we to understand that the manner by which people are murdered reduces the criminal act to one of compassion and civility?
    Is the wholesale bombing of a civilian district morally sound because it is packaged as a reaction to the killing of some foreign contractors?
    Punitive collective punishment of this kind is reminiscent of German Nazi policies during the occupation of France. Take for example the German Nazi response in the French town of Tulle in 1944. History shows that French Resistance had seized the town of Tulle from the German 3rd Battalion and 95th Security Regiment. When the Das Reich Panzer Division retook the town, they found 64 badly-mutilated German bodies. Revenge would come swiftly: The SS-Panzer Aufklarungs Abteilung 2 platoon seized 99 men and promptly executed them, later hanging their bodies as a sign to others. Some 100 civilians who were deported to concentration camps would die in Germany.
    To the Germans, the civilians were “insurgents and terrorist sympathizers”; to the rest of the world, they were civilians. For its part, the French resistance fighters were not called terrorists; they were called La Resistance (the resistance) and adopted a near mythical, if not legendary, status in European history.
    Such are the fighters of Falluja, Mosul, Ramadi, Baqubah, Hilla, Samarra, Kut and Diwaniya.

  10. Am not letting this go…
    Reports say many things are have improved in Iraq. So what is wrong with accepting the new status quo? US officials are very proud
    to say they have established some schools in Iraq. But were there no schools in Iraq before the occupation? Iraq was honoured by UNESCO in
    1981 for being the first developing country to eliminate illiteracy.
    In 1991 US-led forces bombed Iraq for 42 days. The level of destruction suffered by the infrastructure was three times the destruction done in 2003.
    Yet everything was back to normal in just months. Why are Iraqis still suffering from shortage of electricity and pure drinking water after
    18 months of occupation? — Khair al-Din Hasib
    ” Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are
    being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”
    — Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

  11. Metalordie,
    I appreciate your enthusiasm and concern for your country. However, your attack on Wendy is strange. You blame her as a tax-paying American (which she may and may not be) of befriending Feith, Rumsfeld and their cahoots and of not standing up against “her” government. Well, hundreds of thousands voiced their opinions but just like it was impossible for Iraqis to achieve anything but a death sentence if they protested against Saddam, the anti-war efforts were in vain. But out of curiosity and without implying anything, what did you do to express your opinion on Saddam or the war? Let me say that you are telling the obvious for your audience here; we all know the Dubya’s false reasons for the war and we are most familiar with the history preceding it. But thanks for the well-versed commentary and the WWII trivia. Now let us all go back to the original subject which is the upcoming elections. The damage is done now, debating over the causes or reasons of it is futile.
    The election system is imperfect and a near-accurate list of voters is not available. But does that preclude the Iraqis from participating in it? Maybe, if there is an alternative. But since many great thinkers of Iraq were and still are busy composing eloquent pompous and at times irrelevant replies on people’s blogs, no such alternative was posed (except for probably bombing the hell out of each other until the last few survivors form their government-which is not immune from a bloody coup d’etat in a matter of weeks).
    Sometimes people have to choose the lesser of all evils; many did, though unsuccessfully, in the last US elections. Iraqis should grab on to this opportunity as the lesser of two evils they have at this point in time: continuous turmoil or elections with even a slim chance of change.

  12. Iraq is a predominantly Islamic country. There is no such thing as lesser of two evils in Islam. There is only justice.
    The lesser of two evils is a western conception of escapism and idealizing the status quo.
    You can’t simply wipe away crimes against humanity and international law by saying everything is in the past. If that’s the case, why do we still hear about the holocaust, have the story of anne frank stuffed down our throats; why is germany building a memorial? Why are so many US senators so hung up about how arabs deal with the holocaust?
    Why should we forget about how the Iraq crime came about and year after year bring up the holocaust, 9-11, pearl harbor, normandy, on and on?
    Those who do not learn from history are cursed to repeat it.
    No, the past is not the past. The past is now. You cannot run away from it and the Iraqis will not let go of it either.

  13. Metalordie,
    Thanks for informing me that Iraq is a predominantly Muslim country. I am surprised you mentioned that because clearly you don’t know much about Islam. The concept of “lesser of two evils” is a solid principle in Fiqh. Numerous past and modern-day scholars have agreed on it and used to issue fatwas justifying, for example, abortion if the mother’s well-being is at risk, or even masturbation if committing adultery was the alternative. The religious ruling in that case would be “The duty was left for an excuse and the evil was done for the sake of preponderant interest, or for the sake of necessity, or for averting a worse evil”.
    For the sake of brevity, I will refer you to the below link to serve you as a starting point on the subject and to provide you with examples from Islamic doctrine about the choice of the lesser of two evils.
    The Case of ‘Choosing the lesser of two evils’
    But again, you are missing the point. I did not suggest we forget about the crimes against humanity committed by the outcast Iraqi regime or the “coalition” forces. The point is: the troops are on ground now and military operations are underway every hour; arguing about the justifications of war is futile.
    And again you did not offer an alternative solution, or answer my question about your role in protesting Saddam’s atrocities or this war.
    Oh, and thanks for making me smile at “the past is now.”

  14. Yes, the past is now (analogies of the US occupation to the British one of 1920, analogies comparing the US use of the Patriot Act to the Nazis’ Kristallnacht and Anschluss, analogies comparing the current Arab political climate to the 12th century rule of Crusader kingdoms by proxy…the list is bountiful), but let’s hold on a sec here and examine just what you mean by Saddam’s atrocities. Is it the butchering of political dissidents you refer to?
    Since you seem to be Jordanian, let’s look at the house made of glass before hurling rocks at others. If you aren’t, well consider this a freebie history lesson.
    I would ask you to refer to the tradition of sacking entire towns and pummeling them to rubble, all with the blessings of Ol Uncle Georgie. I refer you to Maan. Every time a prominent Maan resident spoke out against the Clinton admin’s bombing of Iraq or the impending 2003 war, the entire city would be under siege.
    Syria was just as effective in the 1980s:
    The fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood seized Hama as the first step towards its goal of a national uprising against the secular Baathist regime. The Syrian President demanded their surrender. His army shelled the city, and special forces went in to kill or capture the militants. The Syrians employed the same strategy that the US is using now. Its tanks and artillery waited outside the city; they fired on militants and civilians alike. Its elite units, like the American Marines surrounding Falluja today, braced themselves for a bloody battle.
    The US condemned Syria for the assault that is believed to have cost 10,000 civilian lives. The Syrian army destroyed the historic centre of Hama, and it rounded up Muslim rebels for imprisonment or execution. Syria’s actions against Hama came to form part of the American case that Syria was a terrorist state. Partly because of Hama, Syria is on a list of countries in the Middle East whose regimes the US wants to change (Charles Glass in Sulaymaniyah, The Independent, November 9, 2004).
    There are currently 100 “temporary laws” which severely limit freedom of expression in Jordan, as I am sure in most Arab countries. Former MP Toujan Faisal was convicted and imprisoned in May 2002 for publishing online a letter critical of a temporary law increasing the cost of car insurance that personally benefited the family of Prime Minister Ali Abu Ragheb.
    When a youth arrested by crack police units in Maan died in custody of sudden “kidney failure”, his townfolk demonstrated. In typical democratic fashion, Maan was surrounded by special forces, army units, helicopter gunships, armoured vehicles and tanks. That’s the price of protest and dissent in Jordan.
    According to Amnesty, more than 1,700 people were arrested during 2000 for political reasons. Many were held in prolonged incommunicado detention by the General Intelligence Department (GID). Some were later released without charge and others brought to trial.
    In fact, torture is so superbly applied in Jordan that the CIA is now using it as a base of operations to garner information from detainees.
    According to Rowan Scarborough in his book Rumsfeld’s war, “US interrogators are known to threaten some detainees with shipping them off to Jordan if they don’t co-operate. Like other Middle Eastern countries, Jordan uses physical means to coerce confessions and vital intelligence information.”
    But Jordan is not alone in this, and therefore must not be singled out. Every Arab government, from Bahrain to Morocco, flagrantly and persistently violate international agreements, human rights laws and wholeheartedly use various forms of torture against political and criminal elements.
    That Iraq is singled out, however, is testament to the power of the media. If you want to talk about Saddam’s atrocities you have to talk about those of all other non-democratic Arab regimes, especially so when Saddam’s human rights record is used (having failed and exhausted all other justifications) as a central argument in invading the country.
    As for choosing the lesser of two evils, it is still a concept foreign to the teachings of the Quran and to be used in severely limiting cases.
    The Quran talks of the suraat al mustaqeem. The straight path, not the wobbly or lets-divert-a-teensy-weensy path.
    Evil is evil. The examples of masturbation and urination in the wonderful link you provided are simply silly and infantile when questioning the benefits of an entire nation.
    For example, the issue of abortion would be applicable in the lesser of two evils concept. All schools of Muslim law accept that abortion is permitted if continuing the pregnancy would put the mother’s life in real danger. This is the only provision accepted for abortion after 120 days of the pregnancy.
    It says something that you find moral equivalency between the Iraqi situation and masturbation.
    The fatwas you mentioned are misplaced. They confuse the concept of communal well-being, which the Quran regards as central to human life. There is a concept in Islam called Istihsan, which means “to look for the common good”. This is leagues away from the lesser of two evils.
    Looking for the common good in Iraq’s election case would be to postpone the elections until a national reconciliation conference – bringing all parties and ethnicities together to hash out their difference – were to be held.
    I would also ask you to refer to the economic relevance of Sharia maxims.
    According to Al-Qaida Al-Fiqiyah, “Unlawful things are to be prevented irrespective of benefit”. The war was unlawful. It produced an unlawful occupation – the CPA, which appointed the unlawful IGC, which diluted itself into the current unlawful interim government, which is itself overseeing the way the elections are held.
    This maxim is explained by Hassanuzzaman as follows: Trading in unlawful items and earning with unlawful ways might provide employment to a large number of persons and bring substantial revenues to the government. Nonetheless the unlawful items in trading must be eliminated since the removal of corruption has priority over acquisition of benefits – economic, social or otherwise.
    Hassanuzzaman further explains the Sharia maxim “A wrong is not avoided by another of the same kind” by applying it to the responsibilities of government: It is not lawful for any government to rob a person or a group in order to provide benefit to some other person or a group. Thus it may not provide employment to some by denying it to others. Likewise it may not irrigate some farms by drying up similar other farms.
    In the Jurisprudence of Assimilation, Asif Khan says “The principle of: ‘outweighing the best of two good actions, and rejecting the lesser of the two evils”, for the one who adopts this principle, applies to the Muslim who has no other option. An example for that is when one had to save a woman from death while her ‘awrah had become exposed. If a man who finds her in this situation and he is compelled to help her, then he should do so even if he has to look at her ‘awrah. As for that which can be avoided, it is not allowed to use such principles. Sh. Abdullah Bayya, stated, “I feel it is important that people are concerned with political candidates in this country. If we support the candidates who are known to have positive attitudes towards the Muslims and who are supportive of Muslim causes and even those who are just better people than the opposing candidates, in the usooli knowledge, this would be considered taking the lesser of two evils.”
    Participating in kufr systems is something, which can be avoided. As for the one who defines the best of two good actions and two evil, it is the Shariah and not the mind. Since the Muslims gave their human minds the right to define and outweigh, which they are not able to do, due to the disparity in minds and views, they elected Tony Blair and rejected the Conservatives on the basis of this principle. What was the result? Did they prevent the worst of the two evils or did they bring it about?”
    As for saying I clearly don’t know anything about Islam, it proves that you are entirely judgemental, something I have not been with you. But that is a classic Arab flaw, which originates in takfir.
    Were Saddam’s policies of dictatorial rule negligible? Certainly not. Were they abhorrent? Definitely. Did they warrant the invasion and wholesale destruction of the Arab world’s most industrialised societies? No. And that’s the crux, eh?
    Lastly, I leave you with words of wisdom from the Quran:
    “Repel evil by that which is best. We are best Aware of that which they allege.” Surat Al-Mu’minoun (23:96)

  15. Um, where did you unearth this nugget:
    “I refer you to Maan. Every time a prominent Maan resident spoke out against the Clinton admin’s bombing of Iraq or the impending 2003 war, the entire city would be under siege.”
    I think you’ll find that none, either pro or anti-government, have ever suggested any of the unrest in Maan stemmed from speaking out against the action of Clinton or his admin. I think when delivering a history lesson you should refrain from being flip, else you risk cheapening your position.

  16. I am not defensive of “all Arab governments” but comparing Saddam’s gassing of civilians, mass graves and improvised torture methods to what happens or happened in Ma’an or elsewhere or to a 100 “temporary laws” is simply unrealistic. And I agree with the above comment by “Hubby”: know what you are throwing randomly into your discussion.
    As much as your first part of the response is, in my opinion, yet again irrelevant, I have to give you credit for finally offering your preference to voting in the upcoming Iraqi elections. I too would rather see the elections postponed; in fact that’s what I would have said have we had this discussion a few months ago, but I do not see this as a viable option with less than 3 weeks to go, especially that postponing it will weaken Bush’s position who insisted on several occasions that the elections will be held on time-something the American administration neither wants nor will allow to happen.
    As for the choice of the lesser of two evils, I will keep my response short because I have no intention of turning this into a religious debate. The examples I gave were only to show that this principle is indeed found in Islam and not an imported “western conception.” But I find it ironic that you implicitly accuse me of takfir yet you deem the current system “kafir”. Well, how about you work to change it? The easiest thing right now would to participate in the upcoming elections!
    And Linda,…Oh Linda! It seems that you have taken sides in this discussion long before I joined it. But let me suggest a more politically correct way of inquiring about someone’s nationality, namely, “Where are you from?” because asking “what are you?” can simply be answered “oh, I am Homo sapiens, how about you?”

  17. Actually Jameed, if you look at my fist comment in response to metalordie’s first comment, I was shocked that someone would suggest not supporting Iraqi’s to vote in the election. but, i followed the debate, and i just found metalordie’s arguments to be more persuasive.

  18. A kafir? Where did I call you or anyone else, political system or mashed potatoes, a kafir. I never said the current political system is kafir.
    As for the evidence on Maan, its out there.
    This Guardian article scratches the surface:
    According to Anthony Shadid, Iraq is one of many reasons of dissent – and the consequential siege – in Maan:
    and… hinting that dissent over Iraq was one of the reasons the government used pre-emptive force.
    = )

  19. Oh yes, I see. Here in the Post article you quote you must be referring to the only reference to Maan: “Security forces also kept close watch on other demonstrations outside mosques in the cities of Irbid and Maan.”
    And here in Arabic news you must be referring to: “One Jordanian was killed and another three were wounded in Maan, 22 Km, south of Amman by Jordanian security forces today while curbing a large demonstration staged against US threats to strike Iraq.”
    And you are say these statements make your comment: “Every time a prominent Maan resident spoke out against the Clinton admin’s bombing of Iraq or the impending 2003 war, the entire city would be under siege” true. How are you doing the math here? I see no reference to prominent residents or Clinton.
    In your largess, you miss the point. You take the podium and proceed to teach history but instead offer hyperbole. What occurred in Maan was not some simple moment where citizen X decided to take a moment out and speak out against the bombings in Iraq and from such came a siege. There were mass demonstrations in Maan, as we used to call it “the restive city” — so often the reference in wire reports. If you were referring to the JEA chariman’s arrest, that happend in Amman, not Maan.
    If you feel the pomposity to teach everyone history don’t do it a wink and a smile, tell the story and tell it fully. What you said is not a fact; recognize that. When you tell the history, tell the facts. In your attempt to be smarmy you misrepresent the history.
    I’m not suggesting that there weren’t large demonstrations in Maan that were put down. I’m not even suggesting that the motives of the protestors were against Clinton’s actions. I’m sure they were, at least in part. I’m taking issue with how you are representing it here. You’ve simplified it to the point that you have altered the reality.
    Your burden of proof — from your off-hand statement that you represent as history — is to show that every time a prominent resident of Maan spoke out against Clinton’s bombing of Iraq there was a siege of that city. That is simply not true. It is far too simplistic and not representative of the full facts of the situation. I ask, since you’ve taken it upon yourself to teach us history, that you not fill your lessons with half-truths.

  20. Three quick comments to save valuable bandwidth.
    First: “Hubby”, thanks!
    Second: Linda, wait until the debate is over. I am – 7 GMT and a delay in a response may be due to my body’s demand for sleep.
    Third: Metalordie, I am just going to quote you here “Participating in kufr systems is something, which can be avoided” and “As for saying I clearly don’t know anything about Islam, it proves that you are entirely judgemental, something I have not been with you. But that is a classic Arab flaw, which originates in takfir.”

  21. You choose to argue about Maan (and my points as half-truths) because you can’t argue about the real issue at hand.
    Hubby, the facts speak for themselves. The Jordanian government has long had problems with Maan and these came to the fore when Clinton ordered Operation Desert Fox. Fine so we agree on that.
    But you do the bulk of the argument injustice by picking one sentence “every time a prominent…” and churning your whole dissatisfaction around that leaving the greater context ignored. The arguments you make are cosmetic.
    Fine. It isn’t every time; some of the time? Most of the time? Is that what’s picking your brain so?
    Who’s simplifying what? Because it wasn’t every time does that mean the entire argument is flawed?
    You say I simplified the situation whereas it is you that boiled down all the links I sent to a mere sentence or two.
    But no problem, here is some more, perhaps overlooked, literature on the issue.
    From the Guardian:
    Jordanian authorities yesterday imposed a clampdown on reports of violence from the southern town of Maan amid fears that the Hashemite kingdom could become the first casualty of a possible war with Iraq.
    Army units and riot police rounded up suspects after four people, including a police sergeant, died and two dozen were injured in Sunday’s clashes in Maan, a poor town of about 70,000 and a tradition of Islamist and pro-Iraqi militancy.
    Telephone lines to Maan were disconnected and nobody – including the media – was allowed in or out. It was reported that a total curfew had been imposed, with shops, schools and offices closed.
    Okay, so we agree on the clampdowns. But notice below…
    From the Washington Post:
    Around the corner from an armored car and beyond the steely glare of police, Sheik Subhi Mughribi sat in the back room of a cramped stationery store, thumbing his well-worn string of yellow worry beads. He effusively apologized that conditions prevented him from being more hospitable, as Bedouin traditions would dictate. His phone line was cut. And because he is a prominent tribal and religious leader in this restive city, police were keeping a close eye on his home.
    “But,” he said, waving his hand, “I’m not afraid.”
    In a country where dissent is sometimes whispered, Mughribi was blunt. He was still angry over clashes in November that left six dead in this southern Jordanian city. The government blamed the violence on lawless gangs and smugglers. But many here attributed it to poverty, neglect, anger over U.S. policy in Israel and Iraq and the heavy hand of a worried government.
    Please pay attention to the use of the phrase “prominent tribal and religious leader”.
    From Palestine Chronicle:
    Although some analysts say that the crackdown was in response to unrest provoked by the kingdom’s neglect of the city, others say that the government is weeding out any voices of dissent that might demonstrate against an American war in Iraq. A security official told the Associated Press, on the condition of anonymity, that the government was attempting to “put things in order before the possible war on Iraq.”
    And from Middle East Report Online:
    Again in 1998, Maan’s residents demonstrated repeatedly against the missile attacks of the Clinton administration on Iraq. The attempted arrest of Shubaylat, who had criticized the US and defended Iraq in a speech in Maan’s main mosque, caused such protest that the army placed the city under siege for 40 days. Eight people were killed as the troops sought to maintain control of the streets, while police combed houses to confiscate weapons and demonstrate the regime’s ability to extend its control into Jordanians’ private space. Shubaylat was quickly released, but the humiliations of 1998 were not forgotten.
    Notice here how two prominent figures spoke out against actions in Iraq. Both times – 1998 and 2003, the consequences of their dissent resulted in a siege.
    That’s two for two. But hey, fine, I won’t extrapolate to keep you happy. I will stick to both times rather than “every time”. Since the use of “every time” makes me pompous and the disseminator of half-truths.
    And jameed, you need reading glasses, go back up and check the passage on Kufr. It was from Asif Khan’s dictum on the issue. I, personally, never mentioned the word kafir. Nor did I judge your familiarity (or non-familiarity) with Islam. It remains that you did, but that is a classic antic – define your adversary before he defines himself. Except these aint the US elections, my friend. And your audience comprises a handful. Bantha fodder, really.
    This entire discourse started out about the plausibility of elections in Iraq given the circumstances. jameed chose to bring up Saddam’s human rights record, which was a diversion, and I, mistakenly, took the bait.
    It remains that Iraq, as a society and political paradigm, worked under Saddam, whether you liked him or hated him. That’s why when Radio Dijla conducted a live poll, 48% of Baghdad respondents said they would prefer Saddam back in power, because of the lack of security in Iraq today. The poll was circa early July.
    Even Shia political prisoners who were tortured under Saddam, have come around and said they would prefer Iraq under him. No, not all, but some.
    When Saddam was first interrogated, he told Bremer and Chalabi, at the time, he would like to see how they are going to control Iraq.
    The world wants Iraqis to vote no matter what the present political climate, lack of proper voting procedure, lack of platforms, lack of security, etc because it does not want to deal with Iraq anymore.
    Too much of a headache.
    But, this thing hasn’t even started.

  22. Linda, I am American by birth, haven’t lived there permanently since 1988, and don’t make enough to pay taxes…no one can blame me for supporting the governments’ actions with my taxes.
    In 1988 I started working in a UN refugee camp in Austria. The Iraqis I met there were fleeing the war with Iran, and yes, some were Kurds. The tenacity and passion (yes, even in Metalordie) of the Iraqis drew me to them, and after the Gulf War in the early 90’s my husband and I moved to Amman to do refugee assistence work and support micro-enterprise work to help refugee families be self-sustaining. My husband now teaches leadership training courses throughout the Middle East that seem to be mainly attended by Iraqis. Our home is open to Iraqi families who need a break from the pressure and violence. My ten year old sons best friend is Iraqi.
    Metalordie, I am sincerely sorry for the past and it’s repercussions in today, and for what the US has done in many ways. That’s why we are doing what we do, there is a sense of obligation. My Iraqi friends aren’t rebuilding houses that show, they are rebuilding businesses, relationships, curriculums and hope…person by person. It sounds as if you need this kind of inner-rebuilding, as your bitterness will not only keep you from seeing truth, it will destroy you in the end.
    Linda, Metalordie may have won a debate in your eyes if it stood by itself. There is just a whole lot of the other side of the story, as jameed and hubby have pointed out.

  23. Yeah, Wendy, but you forget, only Metalordie is Iraqi, and as such is in the best position to speak of Iraqi affairs.
    There may be a million sides, but if they haven’t been raised by Iraqis, they simply are moot.
    Sorry, but I don’t think Americans like it when they are told how to vote or Jordanians when told not to go ahead with the Israeli QIZ.
    Simple, really.

  24. Interesting commentary
    The right to rule ourselves
    For nearly a century, democracy has been denied to the Arabs by the west. There is little sign of that changing
    Azzam Tamimi
    Friday January 7, 2005
    Arabic-speaking peoples from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf suffer one common chronic ailment, namely oppressive despotism. Most of the states that stretch between the two water basins came into being less than a century ago; many were former colonies of one or other of the European powers. France and Britain in particular were instrumental after the first world war in shaping the entire map of what is today the Middle East and North Africa.
    These two ageing imperial powers were also responsible for creating and, until the US took over, maintaining systems of governance in these newly emerging entities – providing ruling elites with moral, material and military support. Little has changed since then, apart from the imperialist master and the fact that the advance in technological warfare has enabled this master, so far, to maintain the status quo with ever greater vigour.
    Unlike other parts of the world, and in contrast even to the norm in some neighbouring states, the Arab peoples ruled by these regimes have had very little say, if any, in the manner in which their affairs are run. While some analysts find it convenient to blame Arab or Muslim culture for this lack of democracy, I would argue that it is only the stringent control imposed from outside that denies to the peoples of this region what has readily been recognised as a basic human right elsewhere in the world.
    The Algerian example of 1991-92 has been carved in the memory of Arabs and Muslims across the globe. Democracy is not on offer to whoever wishes to have it, and the Arabs – many Muslims too, for that matter – do not qualify to join the privileged club. More than 10 years ago France was horrified at the prospect of an Islamic government in its closest former colony, Algeria. The rest of the western world agreed and coalesced to abort the democratic process before it delivered the reins of power to the FIS (Islamic Salvation Front).
    The Iraqi people suffered all forms of repression at the hands of the (until 1990) pro-western Ba’athist regime of Saddam Hussein. But it was far from being a unique despotic regime in the region. As far as the democratic powers of the west were concerned, it did not matter what any of those despots did to their own people, so long as their regimes posed no threat to what were seen as western interests – namely oil and Israel – and still better so long as these regimes were loyal allies.
    Preparations are now under way for elections in Iraq. But few in Iraq or the region believe these elections are aimed at producing a truly representative government. The US did not invade and occupy Iraq to allow a genuinely free election that risked producing a government that might tell the Americans to leave. The purpose of the Iraqi elections is simply to try to bestow some spurious legitimacy on a regime that is as unrepresentative and as oppressive as Saddam’s.
    Does anyone really believe that former Ba’athist Ayad Allawi, America’s stooge in Baghdad, who gave the orders for the total destruction of Falluja, has the interests of Iraqis at heart? How different is this from what Syria’s President Hafez al-Assad did to the city of Hama in the early 80s or from what Saddam himself did to the Kurds or the Marsh Arabs?
    This weekend the Palestinians are to be given the right to elect a new leader, they say, for a change. However, if peace-making is to be resumed and if Israel is to agree to talk to the Palestinians, they can only choose Mahmoud Abbas – hence the international pressure to eliminate the popular Marwan Barghouti from the race. The fact that many Palestinians do not see Abbas as representative of their aspirations or willing to defend their rights does not matter to Israel or its western allies. Nor is it of any concern to the US and the EU that Hamas has increasingly strong support among Palestinians (as highlighted by their recent performance in municipal elections); they still will not talk to its representatives. It is fully acceptable for Israelis to elect whomever they deem fit to lead them, even a war criminal like Ariel Sharon. No Arab people are allowed the same luxury.
    Who would free Arabs be likely to choose to speak for them? President Mubarak of Egypt is reported to have said to some western guests “don’t talk to me about democracy; through democracy the Muslim Brotherhood will rule Egypt”. The Arabs have experienced all sorts of political and ideological groups over the past century. But there is little doubt that if free elections were held today in the Middle East, Islamic movements would reap the fruits. It is not of course that these Islamists are anything like the media usually portray them: fundamentalist, backward or even terrorists. It is simply that they are honest, serious and more interested in the public good than personal interests. Thus democracy is denied to the Arabs.
    And who is the real victim in all of this? It is none other than democracy itself, whose name has been tarnished and whose values are increasingly associated in the minds of many Arabs and Muslims with military invasion to replace one corrupt despotic secular regime with another more willing to bend the knee to US and western diktat.
    · Azzam Tamimi is spokesman of the Muslim Association of Britain and director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought
    Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

  25. Thanks, Linda. Blessing is on us, it’s the only way this middle-aged, second generation hippie wants to live.
    Metalordie, you ARE a voice for Iraq and I have learned from you. And I will continue to reflect what my Iraqi friends tell me in my sphere of influence, and settle for second-hand best.
    I haven’t told you how to vote, but I will invite you to join in a 24 prayer and fasting vigil on Thursday, for Iraq. I will pray for you that day. I love your country and your people.

  26. Wendy wrote:
    My Iraqi friends aren’t rebuilding houses that show, they are rebuilding businesses, relationships, curriculums and hope…person by person. It sounds as if you need this kind of inner-rebuilding, as your bitterness will not only keep you from seeing truth, it will destroy you in the end.
    My response: I would laugh if the situation in Iraq weren’t so tragic. In the many phone calls I have made to Iraq – Baghdad, Falluja, Mosul – I have heard nothing but despair.
    In fact, Iraqis have drawn up wills. When a son leaves for school in Baghdad, he bids fare well as if he were to never return home.
    People no longer go to work. There are curfews and shortages on EVERYTHING. In Mosul, for example, parents I have spoken to no longer send their children to school.
    Unemployment is 60 percent in Iraq.
    In Falluja, there is nothing. In Sadr City, sewage runs amuck, as it does in Mosul. Kidnapping and ransoming are the orders of the day.
    Yes, they are rebuilding alright.
    And that’s the consensus of US journalists who wouldn’t dare venture out of the Green Zone compound. They’d rather write about the eating habits of the GIs.
    Newspapers are shut down and their editors arrested.
    Truly great merits for rebuilding the spirit of hope.

  27. Telling it like it is.
    One of the few op-eds on the elections that I find balanced…
    January 9, 2005
    How a Vote Could Derail Democracy
    tanford, Calif.
    IRAQ is about to reach a point of no return. If, as President Bush insists, it goes ahead with elections for the new transitional government on Jan. 30, Iraq may score a huge moral and political victory for democracy over violence and terrorism. More likely, however, these elections will only increase political polarization and violence by entrenching the perceptions of Sunni Arab marginalization that are helping to drive the violence in the first place. This would not be the first instance when badly timed and ill-prepared elections set back the prospects for democracy, stability and ethnic accommodation. Think of Angola in 1992, Bosnia in 1996, Liberia in 1997.
    Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the problem is not simply that there is too much mayhem and disorder in significant parts of Iraq. Let’s face it, at some point Iraq will have to hold elections, and foreign terrorists, religious fanatics and diehard defenders of the old order will try to use violence to obstruct them.
    Rather, the problem right now is that the opposition to holding elections goes well beyond these irreconcilable spoilers. It includes a great many other actors – many of them moderate and democratic – who believe that elections this month cannot possibly be fair, and who have therefore resolved not to legitimize them by participating.
    These people – encompassing a wide array of Sunni Arab civic, tribal and religious leaders – can be brought into the political process. If they were to participate in elections, the insurgent and terrorist violence plaguing Iraq would be substantially reduced. If their exclusion from the political process is confirmed by elections this month, ethnic and religious animosities will only intensify, and the country could well slide toward civil war.
    The most serious calls for postponement come from Sunni political forces that oppose not democracy per se, but rather the structure of the transitional political process. Specifically, they object to the electoral system of proportional representation for the new assembly that will choose a transitional government and write a constitution; seats will be allocated not based on geography but on the national vote results. With violence and instability much more pervasive in the Sunni provinces, they worry that polling will be disrupted, hurting Sunni slates’ chance of winning enough votes to qualify for seats.
    If turnout is much heavier in the Shiite south and Kurdish north than in Sunni provinces like Al Anbar (which includes Falluja) and Salaheddin (whose capital is Saddam Hussein’s hometown, Tikrit), the Sunnis, who account for about 15 percent to 20 percent of the population, may win only a tiny percentage of the seats. Then, they fear, their bid for a fair share of power and resources in the new system would be crushed. (That the Kurds and Shiites have been subjected to such treatment by the central government for decades doesn’t justify their perpetuating it.)
    Sunni political and social leaders are not calling for an open-ended cancellation of the election. They are requesting a one-time postponement of several months, in order to establish the “necessary conditions” for a fair and inclusive vote. They want a more transparent electoral commission. They want citizens to be better informed about the electoral process. They worry that some who have registered to vote are foreigners (mostly Iranians) recruited to back the more militant Shiite parties.
    Most of all, however, these Sunnis want electoral districts to be established (perhaps along the lines of the existing 18 provinces), so that each province can be assured of some minimum representation in Parliament, based on its estimated share of the national population. Proportional representation would give each party or coalition a share of the seats in each province equivalent to its share of the provincial vote. (In fact, a version of this electoral system is precisely what I and other experts recommended to the Coalition Provisional Authority early last year, but our suggestion fell on deaf ears.)
    Yes, Sunni opposition forces have made other requests that cannot be fully accommodated, including the withdrawal of American forces from Iraqi cities within a month of the election and the restructuring of the current interim government. But the need now is not for pure concession or pure rejection, but rather for negotiation.
    Fortunately, it is no longer true, as has often been argued, that there is no one to negotiate with. Over the last few months, Sunni religious, tribal, civic and political leaders have begun meeting and forming alliances. At a conference in Tikrit on Dec. 23, Sunni representatives from seven provinces met, released a statement articulating their concerns and requests, and elected an “executive body” to negotiate on their behalf.
    The group’s leadership committee includes Hatem Mukhlis, the surgeon who met with President Bush in the Oval Office two months before the invasion of Iraq and is now a member of Iraq’s interim advisory council, and Saleh Mutlaq, a former senior Iraqi Army officer who was sentenced to death by Saddam Hussein in 1978 for refusing to suppress the Shiite community, then was spared and became a successful businessman. Also prominent in this new coalition is the Association of Muslim Scholars, the principal body of Sunni Muslim clerics, and another recently formed group, the Iraqi National Founding Congress, whose spokesman is a Baghdad University political scientist, Wamid Nadmi.
    The members of this Sunni coalition are varied. Some of them are moderate, with democratic credentials. Some are extremely anti-American – Arab nationalists and Islamists who have openly sympathized with the insurgency. The Bush administration is adamant that it “will not negotiate with terrorists” – and will not condone the Iraqi authorities doing so either. But in conditions approximating civil war, you are not going to find many Mother Teresas. You negotiate with agents and sympathizers of violence who decide that they are ready to take a different path.
    The Sunni coalition leaders have said that if the voting is postponed and their concerns are addressed, they will call on their followers to participate in the rescheduled elections. Otherwise, they are committed to a boycott, which in the existing climate of violence and fear would likely depress voter turnout to minuscule levels in their provinces.
    While Prime Minister Ayad Allawi last week reiterated the call for keeping the elections on schedule, an ever-growing group of Iraqis is now coming to recognize that they must be postponed. This includes two respected Sunni politicians who were members of the Iraqi Governing Council: Adnan Pachachi, who led the drafting of Iraq’s liberal interim constitution, and the moderate Islamist politician Mohsen Abdul Hameed. The advocates of postponement now also include an overwhelming majority of Iraq’s 33 ministers, and last week President Ghazi al-Yawar discussed having the United Nations reassess whether elections should be held.
    What is needed now is for all of Iraq’s social and political stakeholders to sit down and talk. The outlines of a compromise are visible. The Sunnis could get a one-time postponement of the vote, an electoral system based substantially on provincial districts, and certain other political and administrative reforms. The leading Shiites, who have drawn together into the United Iraqi Alliance and seem set to win an election no matter when it is held or under what system, could get a commitment on the part of the Sunni opposition groups to end the electoral boycott and to work to reduce the violence, and thus to create a political situation in which their victory will be worth having.
    In crises, democracy is not forged through a sudden moral conversion of warring parties to principles of freedom and the rule of law. Rather, bitter antagonists come to see a democratic accommodation as their second-best option – worse than the domination they would prefer, but better than the mutual destruction that they risk through continued strife.
    In the coming days, Iraqi political and social leaders have the opportunity to reach across their lines of division and begin to forge such a historic compromise. It is in America’s interest to urge them to do so. If, instead, they plunge forward with elections that leave one section of the country excluded and embittered, we will all be the losers.
    Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and an editor of The Journal of Democracy, was an adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad from January 2004 to April 2004.
    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  28. Um, No. You are incorrect. I chose to take you up on Maan because you were wrong on that point and you partially admit so here. Because I have challenged you on this point has little to no bearing on my position on your larger point. Do I have to hate everything you say or the overall idea of your argument so that I can make a legitimate point? Can’t someone find fault in part of your discussion? Of course.
    And the point I made very early on was simple: It is important to consider the small points you make, as they serve as the foundation for your overall argument. You degrade your position if you do not take everything you say as worthy of consideration and you add to that degradation when you highlight your points by calling them “lessons” and when some of your lessons are wrong.
    I mentioned one issue that you represented improperly. Likely I wouldn’t have mentioned it at all except for the attitude that surrounded its delivery. You say I only took two points of your defense. Well, those articles were the ones you said defended your point specifically: “As for the particular snide about no report of anti-Clinton sentiment in Maan …” So I investigated, found and relayed that those two articles did not say what you indicated. So you went to find more proof.
    You quote the Post again and cite “prominent tribal and religious leader,” as if that answers your original claim: “I refer you to Maan. Every time a prominent Maan resident spoke out against the Clinton admin’s bombing of Iraq or the impending 2003 war, the entire city would be under siege.”
    Here again, neither this article nor the others you cite backup your simple claim that every time a prominent citizen speaks out the city was put under siege. In Maan the situation was much more complex than this, as evidenced by your own proof — article after article describing the events vs. the two sentences you provide. Do you not recognize that your statements — you describe as history — do not tell this story accurately or completely, that you’ve ridiculously oversimplified events? That is the problem with your statement. It creates what I properly termed a “half-truth.”
    Don’t you recognize in your own delivery your flip and sardonic tone? If you decide that you want to “educate” those reading what you have to say, don’t you think it’d be best not to take on airs? And if you think you haven’t done so, why don’t you do a quick poll of those of us reading?
    No, I’m not taking issue with some of the things you’ve said because I don’t disagree with all that you’ve said. But here, in near the first historical point of your treatise you simplify a story that deserves the full treatment and in so doing what you say becomes wrong. And I point it out for the reason I mentioned earlier: you weaken your position by not fully representing an issue, something particularly noteworthy when you’ve decided to deliver a history lesson.

  29. An informed source

    Does anyone out there have any idea what percentage of the Iraqi resistance is Shia?
    How about the percentage of Shia vs. Sunni that are willing to take part in the polls?
    Just some things to ponder.

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