Iran won't start war
Sir-- Although you have valid issues, you have overlooked numerous points beginning with the fact that this regime has never started any wars ('If Iran gets the bomb' Al-Ahram Weekly 18-24 January). It was Iraq, with the help of Arab countries, that started the eight-year war, not Iran. It is not about to start a nuclear war. Furthermore, and partially because of this, the country that one has to dread is Pakistan, a Hanbali Sunni radical government.
Iran not only does not sponsor terrorism, but would no more start a nuclear war, than would Russia, because it realises the consequences. Finally, Iran has made it clear that it does not want a military nuclear programme. Its programme is for peaceful purposes. However, it would appear that none of these issues matter to you or other Arab writers who share your views. It seems that your concern about Iran's programme is less about Iran's use of nuclear technology, and more about the weakening of Arab Sunni influence in the region. Perhaps if you and other Arab writers had spent more time criticising corrupt and weak Arab leaders than going after Iran, which seems to defend Arab honour, whether it is the Palestinians or Lebanese, then the average Sunni Arab populace would be supporting Iran.
Sir-- I would like to comment on this portion of the article that Nermeen Al-Mufti has written ('State of fear' Al-Ahram Weekly 18-24 January): "In Kirkuk, several Turkoman figures and buildings have been targeted in a spate of car bombings. Turhan Ketene, political adviser of the Turkoman National Movement, says that the Kurds are trying to change the demography of Kirkuk ahead of a referendum on self-determination. Turkey and Egypt want the referendum to be postponed, fearing that it may instigate ethnic cleansing. The two major Kurdish parties have already brought 600,000 Kurds in to Kirkuk. Meanwhile, Kurdish armed groups are said to be threatening Turkoman businessmen, telling them to leave town or pay hefty protection fees. Of those who refuse to pay, several have had their companies bombed."
First of all, I challenge the author to provide any evidence of the charges mentioned in her article, against Kurds. I am sure there is no shred of evidence that supports her unsubstantiated argument. Second, most of the Kurds who are the original denizens of Kirkuk and were evicted by force from their homes by Saddam's regime, are still living in camps around Arbil and Suleimania. If Kurds are to return anybody to Kirkuk, they would first return those to their homes, not others from other towns, as they have been alleged to have done. Kurds are the majority of Kirkuk, and they have always been so, despite an Arabisation campaign. Kurds are also committed to the Iraqi constitution that was voted on by the majority of Iraqi people, unlike some regional countries such as Turkey and Egypt. The latter are trying to intervene in internal Iraqi affairs, a situation that is only exacerbating the ongoing cycle of violence in Iraq. It would be better for them to support reconciliation efforts aiming to end this violence by supporting the constitution, and laws of the country.
Wrong about Pakistan
Sir-- Your editorial is factually incorrect, has several errors in it, and is biased, presenting only one side of the picture ('Pakistan's old new year' Al-Ahram Weekly 18-24 January). Your story shows a lack of historical knowledge of Pakistan and only peripheral knowledge of the political process of Pakistan. This is endemic of all Egyptians who are not taught anything positive about Pakistan. Someone needs to do his/her homework.
President Pervez Musharraf was duly elected by the elected National Assembly of Pakistan, as well as the Senate of the four provincial assemblies. All the major opposition parties, the PPP and the MMA participated in the election, and allowed President Musharraf to stay in power as per the constitution of Pakistan. Your general comments about the Pakistani nation are beyond the pail of criticising President Musharraf. Mr Akbar Bugti was leading an insurrection against the Pakistani state, and was hiding in a reinforced bunker in a cave with dozens of armed foreign miscreants.
Who lives by the sword dies by the sword. It is ironic that Al-Ahram is blowing the bugle of democracy from Cairo, a country living under the Nasser-Sadat-Mubarak dynasty, without a credible opposition, or even any voice of dissent being raised in the press. During the sixties, Muslim Brotherhood founder Sayed Qutb was hanged in Egypt, and the Brotherhood remains banned. In sharp contrast to what happened to the Egyptian Brotherhood, Moudodi led his party and died a natural death, and his Jamaat e Islami runs the government in the Frontier and in Baluchistan. There are several dozen channels in Pakistan that criticise the government and Musharraf. We don't hear too many voices in the official media in Egypt. People living in glass houses should not throw stones at others.
Hearts that hurt
Sir-- I commend the article written by Curtis F J Doebbler for his outspoken opinions relative to the lack of US foreign policy and silent world leaders ('Note from America' Al-Ahram Weekly 18-24 January). I truly believe that the vast majority of world leaders are missing their opportunity to structure resolution, by remaining silent on very important international issues. I feel that peace between Arabs and Israelis is better than the current situation. I do not support either side; instead, I support the civilians of both sides, because both sides need constructive mending of their crisis.
I believe peace can be achieved, but its leaders need to recognise their faults, neglect of their citizens and lack of compassion for each side. As the years have passed, countless lives have been lost in both Israel and Palestine because of the abundance of politicians, and lack of true statesmen. If I were an Israeli, or a Palestinian citizen, I would demand a brighter future for both sides. I perceive the absence of compassion on both sides and blame world leaders, Palestinian and Israeli politicians, and biased news media outlets. They are the ones who only project one- sided opinions of a topic.
I believe speech is far stronger than bullets, when people remain open-minded to change. Some of you might feel, in your heart, that revenge is better but this is truly not commendable. You do not support your future generations, by such actions. Think of the legacy you are providing your children and their offspring.
I blame both sides, for the needless death suffered by both sides. Currently, the silence is very unproductive.
Reputation at stake
Sir-- For the last six years Ms Amal Catta has been flooding me with her remarks on my noviceness in the field of opera singing ('Christmas unwrapped' Al-Ahram Weekly 21-27 December). I have endured a lot of degradation because of her remarks, which have affected my international career. It is very disrespectful on her part to assume that she can give me advice in public about breathing techniques and diction, which I can only accept if she were an expert in the opera field, which she is not.
For years I have gladly accepted her criticism, but I cannot tolerate public condescendion, especially when it does not come from an expert.
Cairo Opera Company