Sir-- After reading the coverage of the elections in the Arabic issue of the daily Al-Ahram over the past two weeks, I was very pleasantly surprised to read your excellent and comprehensive coverage. Your articles were objective and gave a true picture of what really happened during the elections.
Is the truth, when written in Arabic, different than in English?
Like rich, like poor
Sir-- In 'The limits of power' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 8-14 December) the American experience would suggest that rich and educated folks show as poor a judgment on governmental matters as uneducated folks.
Now it's clear
Sir-- I was at a loss to see how the US was going to divide and rule in Egypt. After reading the recent articles about the Copts, it has become very clear.
Time to start
Sir-- Now that the parliamentary elections have ended, regardless of who won, it's time to implement President Mubarak's electoral programme, which includes the creation of 4.5 million jobs, the establishment of 1,000 factories and the cultivation of one million feddans.
Good for him
Sir-- I want to salute the governor of Cairo for declining to accept the Merit State Prize, saying it could not be accepted by high-ranking state officials. At a time when many are trying hard to get any sort of prize, we have a light in the middle of the darkness.
It's a miracle
Sir-- A very nice article on the lack of strong Japanese-Islamic cultural exchange, 'Two suns in the East' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 1-7 December). What I did find very interesting is how you gloss over the "miracle" of the Japanese rebirth into a global economic power. Maybe they didn't teach you the history of Japan, especially the defeat at the hands of the Americans and how after bringing the Japanese to their knees, they recognised the importance of rehabilitating this ancient society -- ergo the "miracle". Maybe the Arab world in all its grandeur can take notice of the "miracle" and emulate the Japanese model of hard work, open education, respect for other peoples, and last but not least a total respect for law and order.
Sir-- I was amazed and amused by the article 'The only way is out' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 8-14 December). Not only has the author mistaken the political in-fighting in Washington DC for evidence of real weakness but the statement that the only people opposed to Saddam Hussein and the former Iraqi state are "some Kurdish leaders who seek separation, and some Shia politico- religious men" is hilarious. Since that includes about 75 per cent of the population of Iraq the author not only fails to grasp the concept of majority rule but is living in a dream world. In the real world the Kurds and Shia in Iraq together account for most of the population, control the government and control the military and police forces. No matter what the US does now there is no way the Sunnis will ever rule Iraq again.
Replaced by Arabs
Sir-- Given the political stalemate in the Gulf region over Iraq and its occupation by American and allied forces and the counter by various factions internal and external fighter/insurgents both religious and political, there is a possible mechanism for altering this quagmire. Shortly after the coming elections, this mechanism should be implemented. The process would be carried out by American forces starting a phased withdrawal by various numbers being equaled by an introduction of local Arab forces into Iraq. For example, 20,000 to 50,000 troops being withdrawn by American forces, that being matched by the introduction of local regional Arab forces into the American role over an agreed time frame to the point where there would be no longer any American or allied forces in Iraq. This process would be best negotiated through the Arab League and regional powers; Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. This would bring greater cooperation amongst the Arab peoples and it would accelerate political normalisation within Iraq and the region.
Deployment of troops would be determined by tactical officers. The process, when completed, would be a true test of the newly-erected Iraqi infrastructure and political framework. In concluding the process it would give the Iraqi people the opportunity to demonstrate a new collective national resolve and fulfillment of their aspiration. This would allow the American people to begin moving toward closure on this very contentious period.
Sir-- Most Iraqis do not want the US or anyone else there and they do not feel a foreign presence makes them safer. One half says they support insurgent attacks on coalition forces and a majority says they feel less safe when foreign troops patrol their neighbourhoods, according to polling of Iraqi citizens sponsored by the US government earlier this year. In the Bush White House, the balance in Washington's Iraq debate seems unchanged. True, most Americans now understand they were duped into war. Senior retired Republican office-holders had begun to speak publicly about a White House cabal; Republican Congressmen were scrambling to put distance between themselves and Mr Bush lest the president's still sinking poll numbers drag down their own re-election chances next year -- and Messrs Cheney and Bush are now disparaging the Democrats for suggesting they'd faked the evidence of Saddam's (non-existent) WMD. Still, the American president's heraldic nonsense about being on a hunt, about fighting 'them' there so as not to have to fight 'them' here, about spreading freedom and democracy in the Middle East (while unfortunately destroying them at home) -- the status quo seems to be holding.
Sir-- Usually nothing practical ever comes out of any Muslim summit except a joint condemnation of Israel. This year, however, the OIC leaders were at least discussing the right issues. We appreciate the call for more rights for women, better education and more cooperation between Muslim countries but we want delivery. We are tired of promises. First, people should be able to express their opinion or criticise their leaders in the press. On education, we want leaders to stop wasting public money on decorating airports, building nine-star hotels and pathetic palaces. Instead, all villages/towns in Muslim countries should have world class libraries, with computers and modern equipment. And not just books that only praise their leader, but thousands of books covering all major subjects. Also, nuclear weapons may be banned, but what about conventional weapons? During the last few years we have learnt one thing: in global politics, the definitions of right and wrong depend on the size of the bomb you have. So, let Muslim countries work with each other and develop modern weapons, capable of defending their rights, lands and resources.