Give them back
Sir-- Zahi Hawass is correct (Al-Ahram Weekly 14-20 July). In this enlightened age each country should expect the return of their artefacts that are residing in foreign countries. Egypt especially has artefacts of such importance that the practices of the past -- removing artefacts for personal fame or gain -- should be reconciled in a civilised manner. Thank you for such an important article.
Sir-- Dina Ezzat's article 'Still in the game' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 14-20 July) sounds very distressing to me because it shows new US pressure. This pressure shows in the logic of the argument being made. It accepts at face value the "intelligence trance logic" of the US media. The tragic death of Egypt's Ambassador Ihab El-Sherif is not against Egypt as a prominent member of the Arab League. It is aimed at the US State Secretary Condy Rice who has been trying to force the Arab world "to share democracy with its good neighbour Israel".
This is the outcome of a trance logic that the US is imposing on the media. It is trance logic because it is based on false assumptions. One assumption being that Egypt supports the US in its occupation of Iraq. By having a high-level Egyptian diplomat, with former diplomatic service in Israel, Egypt would be supporting the current puppet government. Another assumption is that Iraq has a democratic and representative government, and that Egypt as a major Arab country will give the Iraqi government legitimacy. Other Arab countries would follow suit. This tragic loss of a promising Egyptian diplomat is the outcome of a failed US foreign policy in Iraq which goes against any logical reasoning.
Sir-- Regarding 'Repackaging the occupation' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 14-20 July), I seriously doubt that the Bush administration intends to build bases in Iraq and stay forever. I don't believe that there was any plan after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein other than to declare, "You are a democracy! Have an election and be free!"
Suggesting that the goal of the US government is to establish permanent bases in Iraq is erroneous for several reasons. First, the war in Iraq was planned, but not the peace. Second, no American politician is going to risk his political career by even suggesting permanent US bases in Iraq. Third, not even the right-wing crazies in the US want an extended US occupation of Iraq.
There are, however, people in the US who believe President Bush's baseless assertions and justifications for the war. Even more bizarre, there are Americans who believe there is a link between the events of 11 September and the war in Iraq. These are the people who voted for President Bush in the 2004 election. But not even the slim majority of Americans who voted for President Bush and believe his propaganda would support permanent bases in Iraq.
Make no mistake, the No.1 priority of elected officials in the US is making sure they stay elected officials. No politician in the US would risk a political career by supporting permanent bases in Iraq when they know that the American people would not support them.
Where's the problem?
Sir-- I was interested in the editorial on the call for an international conference on terrorism (Al-Ahram Weekly 14-20 July). Among the many interesting comments made, one in particular stuck out: "It is time the international community agrees that civilians distant from the field of political and military conflict should not be harmed, regardless of their nationality, religion or colour." I was not aware that the international community did not agree on this. After the bombings in New York, Madrid, London, the various attacks in Saudi Arabia, the countless attacks on civilians in Iraq -- all Western leaders have condemned them, as have leaders in other parts of the world.
So where is the lack of agreement? Which members of the international community do not agree with this? Where I live we do not receive much reporting on responses in the Middle East to atrocities such as the recent London bombing. We do not therefore know how political and religious leaders feel about it. Because of this perceived absence, there is a dangerous possibility for people in the West to believe that Muslim political or religious leaders are either indifferent to or support such attacks. I suspect that there is an international consensus on terrorism, but it is not being expressed widely enough in all areas. It is not being presented as a unified voice. The West gets the response of some leaders, the Middle East the response of others. In this, the responsibility of the press cannot be underemphasised.
Citizens of every country need to know what they agree on so that they can band together. We need to know that we are sympathised with so that we can understand and support each other.
Sir-- In 'The show goes on' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 14-20 July) Gamal Nkrumah criticises the military regimes that have governed Sudan. Sudan is no different from Egypt when it comes to the reasons why the military takes over governance of the masses.
Democracy in Sudan has traditionally been aligned on a system of pseudo-religious patronage with the Umma and Democratic Unionist parties led by gargantuan leaders who lived (and continue to live an ivory tower existence) and commanded blind obedience from their minions -- the illiterate, simpleton masses.
These two parties, especially the Umma Party did not sufficiently address the grievances of Sudan's marginalised, particularly in the south.
Military regimes always took power when there was active conflict in the south. There has never been a military coup d'état in Sudan during a time of peace. Military regimes also tried to rectify Sudan's social problems and instigate development for all.
The ultimate testament to the cornerstones of progress that Sudan's military regimes have instigated is the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 9/1/2005. The Sudanese Armed Forces under the leadership of the Salvation Revolution Military Leadership and the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army were the protagonists on the battlefield. Their respective political wings, the National Congress Party and the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement, ironed out Sudan's ingenious CPA.
Long may they cooperate towards the ushering of a real democratic era that is true to Sudan's character.
Still don't understand
Sir-- One of the saddest things about the act in Netanya apart from the injuries and deaths is that most Israelis do not understand or know what brings such things nor do I feel they want to know.
Most Israelis do not have the faintest notion that a 15-year- old Palestinian kid was killed a few days ago, and that the next day three more kids from the same village were shot with rubber-coated bullets (one of them, a 12-year-old, in the head); most Israelis do not know that while Israelis have enjoyed almost half a year of no violence; Palestinians have not had a day without it. That a Palestinian somewhere is not being beaten up at a checkpoint, or being harassed when the Israeli troops enter the village in the middle of the night, or having his/her olive groves uprooted and land expropriated, or house demolished, or being arrested.
Little wonder then dozens of hopeless and helpless Palestinians are willing to spill their blood in places like Tel Aviv or Netanya or London.
Israelis fail to realise that not force but security and freedom for Palestinians will bring a modicum of security for Israelis.
Sir-- The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not one that Israel wants resolved. The only resolution that Israel will ever find acceptable is to either totally exterminate all Palestinians in Palestine, or kick them out. This is the only goal acceptable to Israel.
It is similar to cases of domestic violence in which the victim is constantly physically and psychologically abused to the point that they no longer have self esteem. They keep thinking things will change. The oppressor will change. But the oppressor does not change and many times the victims end up dead.
Israel is the one that is acting with domestic violence. Palestine is the victim. But Palestine needs to wake up and realise Israel isn't going to change. The US isn't going to change. They don't care about you, they have their own people and consumer demands for oil and water. Palestinians are simply in the way and must be removed one way or the other.
The only reason that there hasn't been a total slaughter of the Palestinian people outright is that other nations are watching.
The sooner the Palestinians wake up to this the sooner they will have a future. No one is going to help you.
Not even close
Sir-- The hideous attack in London is a stark reminder that George Bush and Tony Blair have not come even close to removing Al-Qaeda.
Almost four years after 9/11, and still Osama Bin Laden rubs his beard in our faces. Almost four years after 9/11, and still Al-Qaeda is gaining recruits. Almost four years after 9/ 11, and still Al-Qaeda can pull off a coordinated attack in one of the centres of the Western world.
For two years now, Bush has been so fond of saying that we are fighting terrorists in Iraq so we won't have to fight them here at home. But as Robin Cook, one of Blair's former cabinet members, put it in The Guardian the day after the London bombings, "Whatever else can be said in defence of the war in Iraq today, it cannot be claimed that it has protected us from terrorism on our soil."
Al-Ahram Weekly reserves the right to edit letters submitted to Readers' Corner for brevity and clarity. Readers are advised to limit their letters to a maximum of 300 words.