War for plunder
Sir-- The 'liberation' of Iraq was nothing more than an unjustified, ill-advised campaign to 'liberate' Iraq of its water, land and oil resources for those corporations stupid enough to support George Bush and his oil grabs along with giving major support to Ariel Sharon and his land/water grabs.
Pay attention to US politics: Condoleezza Rice is now mulling over whether to run for California governor; her position supporting this war places her in a good position for a future run at higher office here.
This was not 'liberation', this was a bald attempt to grab resources coveted by US/ British governments for years. I just hope the Iraqi and other Arab peoples will recover and get rid of any government the US tries to place in power for its own edification.
Sir-- In her article 'Breaking the closed circle' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 1-7 May), Hala Mustafa was insightful, articulate, and, above all, courageous. I wish she would write another article (or more) where she would delve from the general to the specifics, with examples in each of the areas she identified.
In particular, the undue emphasis on conspiracy theory and the over-employment of the 'external other' in our 'espoused' (not actual) positions.
I am aware that her emphasis is usually more strategic than detailed, but at these unusual times the courage to take positions such as hers is required by all to help people guide their tactical implementation of the message of her article.
For example, how can the layperson use the meaning of her article to reevaluate how the news is articulated and delivered to him/her daily? What are the examples from daily news in this age of media? When I juxtapose her article with those written by Fahmy Howeidy, I cannot escape the questions emerging from the contrast (or dialogue).
Once again, wonderful work.
Iraqis to blame
Sir-- I'm not sure how you can say that the Iraqi people deserve the right to self-determination. They've had that right for quite some time now and they have done nothing with it. They should be quite relieved to have the United States instead of Saddam in power, because without American intervention Saddam would have continued to oppress the Iraqi people.
I love the fact that we rid you of a dictator and now the Iraqi people deserve the right to self-determination. They forfeited that right by submitting to Saddam's administration.
While I realise that this topic is extremely broad and there is a lot of history in the region that I'm not privy to based upon my position here in the US, I urge you to consider that the United States knows the mistakes that it has made in the past and is much more capable of running a country than both Saddam and the Iraqi people (again, who, by tacit agreement, as a whole, supported the ideals of his regime, including the gassing of its own people).
Sir-- I know in my heart that my country has committed a grave mistake in attacking Iraq; the coming years will convince those who today believe that Iraq had it coming. In fact, this is the beginning of World War III. If the USA, which has such power and potential for global security, has breached its role of leadership what can one then expect of the rest of the world but resentment and retaliation?
Regrettably, I can no longer serve in a military sense because of my disgust towards our military attitude, and I hope that if recalled to duty I will have the courage to say No.
San Antonio, TX
Sir-- I am a Kurd and would like to say that we welcome America and the Zionists to Baghdad, Iraq. In the past, we hosted the Greeks, the Persians, the Mongols, the Crusaders, then the Ottomans, the British and French. We even hosted King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.
We did not have the technology to fight each invader, and their visits lasted between a few years to hundreds of years. But in the end, each one of the visitors put their tail between their leg and left us.
America will leave soon defeated.
Every 10 years
Sir-- History shows that on average once every 10 years, the US, Israel and Britain go to war in the Middle East. 1948, 1956, 1967, 1970 (Jordan versus the PLO), 1982 in Lebanon, 1991 Gulf War I, 2003 destruction of Iraq.
A war against Syria will be coming soon.
Sir-- First it was Iraq, Israel's most powerful enemy, possessor of weapons of mass destruction -- none of which has been found. Now it's Syria, Israel's second most powerful enemy, possessor of weapons of mass destruction, or so President George Bush Junior tells us. No word of that possessor of real weapons of mass destruction, Israel -- the number of its nuclear warheads in the Negev are now accurately listed -- whose prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has long been complaining that Damascus is the "centre of world terror".
But Syria is a target alright. First came the US claim that Damascus was sending gas masks to the Iraqi army. The Syrians denied it, but what if it's true? Why shouldn't an Arab neighbour offer Iraqi soldiers protective clothing during an American invasion which has no international legitimacy? Then Syria was accused of sending, or allowing, Arab "volunteers" to cross into Iraq to fight the Americans. This is much harder for the Syrians to deny. I've met a few of them here in Baghdad, most anxious to return to their homes in Homs and Damascus, others -- from Algeria and Morocco -- telling me that they will be safe if they can reach the Syrian border because "there will be no trouble from there." But here, too, there's a whiff of hypocrisy.
Whenever Israel goes to war, there are hundreds of "volunteers" from the United States rushing to Tel Aviv to join the Israel Defence Force, and America never complains.
Sir-- My only hope, as a Christian and a human being, is that the good people of Iraq will have a better future. I pray they will have a peaceful future where the wealth of Iraq is for the people of Iraq. I pray the British, who have fought for what is right without any thought for commercial gain will persuade the Americans to do what is right, rather than give the soil of Iraq to exploiters.
I believe the Americans have done this war for the wrong reasons, the British, for the right reasons: free Iraq and the land, and the spoils of Iraq belong to the people of Iraq. The British are a good and moral people, they respect the Arab nation and Islam. They wish the best for the people of Iraq, at whatever cost for themselves.
What have you done?
Sir-- It is indeed a sad day for mankind. Victory -- as it is propagated by UK/USA -- is no different than Hitler's occupation of many countries, again for the same reasons -- liberation. At the same time, I cannot at all understand the attitude of Arab people. We Christians from the UK/USA are not to be blamed for anything that has happened in Iraq. Arabs themselves were with us when we were bombing civilians. Not a single Arab despot (as known in our countries) spoke against us. Kuwaiti/Bahraini/Qatari Arab Muslim rulers offered land, air and sea for our armies to invade a Muslim country. They knew we were going to kill the innocent.
What I would like to know is why is it that Arab populations have not asked their rulers why they are helping the UK/USA destroy the people of Iraq for the second time? I can assure you that in the West we rose up and told the world that we are against this war. My question to my Arab brethren, is what have you done to stop your rulers?
All are guilty
Sir-- To deny a sick person, a child, medicine is a criminal offence; to even know about it without helping is a criminal offence. You and the UN knew about the consequences of the UN sanctions, why did you not intervene, make it public, help those poor Iraqi mothers and children? Help the Iraqis to put their case forward to the WHO.
It's easy to blame others, but in fact it was all of you, all of us who allowed this to happen. There are enough specialists in the Arab world who could analyse the soil and water in Iraq after the first Gulf War. Why was the contamination caused by depleted uranium not made public? There are enough NGOs in the world who would have put this issue on their agenda.
Sir-- I find it amazing how educated people from all parts of the world can address the same problems with such drastic differences. I think it is great that Egypt produces an English speaking publication from an Arab stance. However, the anti-Americanism that takes place within this publication I find to be offensive and a step backwards towards peace in all regions of the world.
The US has gone to war and risked the lives of its own people for the Muslim people in need of help. I can note, Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo and Somalia, along with going through great strains during the Clinton administration to secure peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I ask why your publication continually ignores these facts and continues to feed negative outlooks of the US on readers of your publication.
Where has the Arab world been to assist the starving Muslims in Somalia, or the oppressed peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq? Nowhere. How about putting the US in a little more honest light besides bashing it at all times.
Sir-- This country, America, has been hijacked by an evil and corrupt administration. The Bush administration has used this country as a weapon of mass destruction. I live in a city with a large Muslim population and despite Bush's lies, the Muslims are a good, honest and peaceful people. Bush is using lies, racism and religion to persecute and kill innocent people and to rape and steal their countries.
We live in a world full of differences and those differences must be accepted, embraced and learned from, not used against one another. Bush and Blair have isolated themselves and our countries from the world and peace. They have also isolated themselves within their respective countries.
Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle etc, are members of a vile neo- conservative group: Project for a New American Century (PNAC). They have targeted Iraq for its oil fields and Middle East location to fund and support future theatres of war against the Middle East and Asia. They have a hit list, written in the mid-1990s, that includes Syria, Libya, Iran, North Korea and many others.
This agenda must be stopped. I do not support the allied troops in Iraq, I support the innocent and the intelligent -- not the evil doers who are slaughtering them or the idiots who support the Bush administration. The Middle East has my heart and my prayers.
May you all prevail over this illegal, immoral, unjust and repugnant aggression.
Sir-- The US attack on the Hotel Palestine in Baghdad, in which most of the international journalists were staying, was symbolic in two ways. First as metaphor for the arrogance the US administration showed to the international community, especially to the UN, before the beginning of the invasion of Iraq. Second, the destroyed Hotel Palestine reflects the situation of the Palestinians under the brutal Israeli occupation.
The physical and mental sufferings of the Palestinian people must not be forgotten even if the Israeli authorities go forward with their atrocities, while the attention of the media focusses on another illegal and immoral action.
Sir-- Thank you for your objective reporting on the US war in Iraq. You have excellent writers, like Edward Said and Hani Shukrallah, among others.
We hear and read only what our government wants us to hear or read. This has never happened before in America, and I regret the state- dominated journalism vis-à-vis the current anarchy in Iraq.
Israel has achieved its goals without the loss of a single Israeli soldier. This Israel connection is never mentioned in the US.
Sir-- Now, more then ever, it is our duty to boycott American products. Today, with the United States causing so much damage around the world, it is time for us to see that economic, political, military and humanitarian agendas are so interdependent that we must view them as parts of one framework. When you examine the concept of boycotting, the rationale is clear, consistent and effective.
American companies such as McDonald's and Philip Morris do business in Egypt for one reason: to make money for their shareholders. It is self-evident that American corporations sell products here to increase their profits, not to benefit Egyptian society. The bigger picture is that this extracts money from the Egyptian economy with the purpose of transferring it to America.
The common perception of a boycott as a way to hurt the American economy misses the point. Alternatively, people need to view boycott as an opportunity for Egypt to strengthen its own economy. A strong boycott would benefit Egypt by keeping money that would otherwise go to the USA within the Egyptian system, contributing to growth, employment and increasing overall wealth. While Egypt plays a relatively small role in the American economy, the role of American products in the Egyptian economy is substantial. We should better understand that sending Egypt's resources to the US hurts our growing industries; it denies Egyptian businesses and merchants the money they need to feed their families, pay employees, and buy necessary supplies.
Of course, let us not forget that American companies pay American taxes and subsequently fund the American military and the Israeli occupation. The moral argument for distancing ourselves from these evils needs little explanation. According to their own financial statements, in 2001 McDonald's paid approximately $400 million in taxes to the US federal government. Depending on how military spending is defined, this means McDonald's gave between $93 and $164 million to the US military that year -- enough money to buy about six F-16 aircrafts. With that in mind, just imagine how many tanks and missiles your cigarettes help to buy. We cannot allow ourselves to continue to fund such atrocities.
In both Gandhi's independence struggle and the South African Anti-Apartheid movement, the use of boycott was vital. Billions of people worldwide participated in those efforts. By doing so, they played an essential role in ending imperialist oppression. Now it is our turn to do the same.
Marching for freedom
Sir-- I believe that many Americans have great sympathy for the Palestinians. American history is a series of struggles for individual freedom, for due process, for human rights. Americans do not like to see people's homes destroyed, people starving, and children being shot in the streets. Americans should be able to associate with the plight of the Palestinians, but they haven't. With our TVs depicting both Jews and Palestinians in acts of violence, Americans are loathe to take sides and remain sidelined.
Americans will never be as familiar with the history of your part of the world as they should be; Americans tend to live in the present. For Americans to become truly involved, they need to see a side which is clearly morally right, right now.
So what is needed to get the American public firmly rooted on the side of the Palestinian cause? Non-violent peaceful protest akin to Martin Luther King's "freedom marches". No one could condone the acts of violence against the peaceful demonstrations of the blacks. No one could deny the blacks exercising the most basic of liberties granted in our view to all people of this world. The peaceful tactic was also used successfully by Ghandi. Dr King used these peaceful protest to pit his morally superior position and viewpoint, against the immoral views and acts of the American Southern states.
It is obvious that there are millions of Palestinians who could and would march for freedom. They do so everyday with rocks and guns, willingly giving their lives for their cause. If Americans saw the images of those same marchers, holding signs asking for freedom, and using their voices in a call for peaceful change, it would do more for their cause than rocks and rockets they use now.
The "million man march" was very effective in America. How many millions of Palestinians could be organised for a peace- ful march on a single day? In a year?
Sound and fury
Sir-- I ache over the Israeli and Palestinian conflict and wonder why surrounding Arab (and Muslim) countries don't intervene in this war. Clearly the Israelis have gone insane, but how do you fight insanity with insanity?
I ask myself the same question looking at my government and its insistent support of the Israelis -- clearly this is crazy. They tell us it is all political, ie war is based on injustices, but aren't Israel and Palestine warring over the primitive spiritual aspects of their differences? And aren't the Arab nations warring over fundamental spiritual differences?
The dilemma here is the fact that there are many and varied spiritual differences within Arab nations and within America. What seems to be clear at the onset becomes muddy and confusing ultimately, and a clear and decisive direction is again lost. Then what we have is this feeling of powerlessness which produces all sorts of raw and fragmented character assassinations against one another. Suddenly, God is lost in the process, and what we have is surely "the sound and the fury".
Insight on injustice
Sir-- The article 'The freedom to take our land' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 3-9 April) was very interesting. In short, it makes me realise just how unjust the laws really are. I was for the removal of Saddam Hussein and still believe it is best for the Iraqi people, as long as we do not stay there. This particular article, however, indicates to me that there is indeed a double standard and a problem of mass proportion in Israel, and I am not sure if it is one that can be overcome.
The logic is, as stated in the article, that there is a given amount of land, and if one group gets more land the other group has to lose land. If that land has been in your family for generations, it is very easy to see why there is resentment and difficulty in reasoning.
I am not pro-Arab or pro-Israel, and always considered myself neutral, however I do appreciate the insight of the article, and the understanding it has given me on the true inequity of the whole situation.
Loud and clear
Sir-- I have been reading your publication for some time, and am never disappointed but rather always find interesting articles and perspectives on the politics and very rich life of the Arab countries. I wish you to continue your work to champion the most weak and betrayed of our times: the Arab people. In these dark times, when most of the media has sided with the terror and destruction, it is reassuring to hear the very voice of the victims.
I am an admirer of Arab culture, and as a Spaniard feel very close to the peoples of the Mediterranean region. I have visited Tunisia and Egypt and I felt in my heart the humanity of the people, still untainted by the greed which originated in the darkest side of the Western culture and is spreading and destroying the ancient cultures of the world.
Congratulations and support to Al-Ahram Weekly staff and writers.
Sir-- All countries in the world are taking severe preventive measures against this pandemic syndrome of SARS. Here, in Egypt, nobody is moving, no preventive measures have been taken to this date, no campaign.
What is our minister of health doing? Couldn't we do something before thousands die, couldn't we respond before it is too late -- just for once?
Dr Ahmed Samir Ibrahim