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Young Iraqis Beginning to Favor Western Style of Clothing over Traditional Garbs

Traditional outfits and modest clothing are being abandoned in favor of sleek new styles for this generation of youth in Iraq. For both young men and women, they are beginning to adopt western styles of fashion. This means skin tight jeans and high heels for girls, and slacks and spiky hairdos for guys. While the youth are enjoying more freedom with their wardrobe selection, the transition is a nightmare for the older generation who feel that customs and tradition are being abandoned in favor of what is hip and popular.

A few clerics, however, find the fashion sense to be in violation of religious morality and have took it upon themselves to dispatch a group of security guards to assume the role of fashion police and crack down on youth who dress provocatively.

Posters have also been displayed warning people, especially women, to dress conservatively and to be covered from head to toe. Posters have also reminded women to wear a head scarf.

Some residents in Baghdad have even petitioned for a law to pass to require women to be veiled when walking in public areas. The government, however, has been in support of personal freedoms and even ordered posters that enforced dress codes to be removed.

By law, women are only required to wear a headscarf when entering a mosque. Outside, however, they are encouraged to wear one out of modesty though it is certainly not against the law not to wear one.

Western styles have become more prominent ever since the U.S. invasion that lead to the topple of Saddam Hussein’s regime. More women are beginning to abandon their head scarves and favor tight fitting clothing. Men are also beginning to break from tradition by getting tattoos and piercings.

There is a clear division between the youth who value personal freedom and the older generation who maintain that traditional customs and respect for religion must be adhered to.

Sunni and Shiite Muslims Battle for Control of Holy Site

Shiite and Sunni Muslims have been killing each other for years over trivial differences in the way they interpret the Koran. The violence took a turn for the worse in 2006 when the two sects began fighting for control over the Askariya Shrine in Samarra, a site that has been deemed holy. Since then, retaliatory attacks have been exchanged and left hundreds of civilians dead.

A recent attack by a suicide bomber who rammed his car into a Shiite religious building killed 18 and left 125 wounded. Later that day, a bomb was found lodged in the back of a Sunni Endowment office. The area was cordoned off where police safely detonated it.

Sunni and Shiite endowment offices are the logistical centers for religious matters regarding mosques and cultural locations. The two authorities have been disputing over how the Askariya shrine and surrounding perimeter should be reconstructed and developed.

While violence in Iraq has quelled in recent months, sectarian attacks remain a serious epidemic. Just a few days before, a series of bombings took place at a Shiite neighborhood market, killing 17 and injuring scores of others.

Some locals suspect that some of the attacks are orchestrated by government officials, as it is believed that some who hold office have ties to militia.

Following the 2006 bombing, an army brigade was dispatched to seize control of the shrine from the Sunni locals. This began a steady transition where rights to the shrine were given to the Shiite endowment. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, however, has taken measures to prevent full control from being granted to the Shiites. Sunni officials from Sumarra have vowed to take legal action to limit Shiite authority over the shrine.

Though Sunni Muslims are the minority, they held control over most of Iraqi policy and law. That is, until the U.S. invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein’s reign. Since then, the tide has shifted to the Shiite majority. This has created embitterment that led to the back and forth violence that has resulted in nothing other than countless civilian deaths.

US & Israel Consulting on Iran

Some great new quotes from the US starting with State Department Deputy spokesman Mark Toner regarding the Iran Nuclear time bomb and the failure of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s to Tehran:

“This is a disappointment. It wasn’t all that surprising, frankly. But, you know, we’re going to look at the totality of the issue here and the letter and what we think is the best course of action moving forward”.

“let’s be very clear that we consult very closely with Israel on these issues,” he added. “We are very clear that we are working on this two-track approach. We believe, and are conveying to our partners, both Israel and elsewhere, that this is having an effect.”

Then, White House spokesman Jay Carney:

“We regret the failure of Iran to reach an agreement this week with the IAEA that would permit the agency to fully investigate the serious allegation raised allegations, rather, raised in its November report…”

“Unfortunately this is another demonstration of Iran’s refusal to abide by its international obligations..”

In a blatant F U finger gesture Iran raised the hopes of the world nations that still believe in Santa Clause, when it sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton last week, raising hopes for the prospects of renewed talks with world powers. To this Carney said the United States was continuing to evaluate Iran’s intentions and that

“This particular action by Iran suggest that they have not changed their behavior when it comes to abiding by their international obligations..”

Please try and understand. Iran is building a nuclear bomb and nothing and no one will stop it. As soon as it has the weapon it will use it to change the balance of power in the Middle East and around the world. If nothing is done by force it will continue to piss on the world community. The best proof is the response Ahmadinejad gave a few days ago to Hilary Clinton’s remark “that all options are still being examined and are on the table” – to which he answered “those options can stay on the table and rot there”.

Just a little background on the Iranian mentality – Iran fought Iraq for eight years in the First Gulf War (1980-1988) – the longest Conventional War in history. And not only it did not give in, it rejected attempts for cease fire by Iraq’s Sadam Hussein: “On 21 June 1982 Khomeni rejected the Iraqi peace offer in a speech and proclaimed that Iran would invade Iraq and would not stop until the Ba’ath regime was replaced by an Islamic Shia republic. Given that Saddam’s offer of 1982 served as the basis of the 1988 ceasefire, Khomeini’s decision extended the war for the next six years”.

According to journalist Robin Wright:

“During the Fateh offensive [in February 1987], I toured the southwest front on the Iranian side and saw scores of boys, aged anywhere from nine to sixteen, who said with staggering and seemingly genuine enthusiasm that they had volunteered to become martyrs. Regular army troops, the paramilitary Revolutionary Guards and mullahs all lauded these youths, known as baseeji, for having played the most dangerous role in breaking through Iraqi lines. They had led the way, running over fields of mines to clear the ground for the Iranian ground assault. Wearing white headbands to signify the embracing of death, and shouting “Shaheed, shaheed” (Martyr, martyr) they literally blew their way into heaven. Their numbers were never disclosed. But a walk through the residential suburbs of Iranian cities provided a clue. Window after window, block after block, displayed black-bordered photographs of teenage or preteen youths.”

The Iran–Iraq War was horribly costly, it is considered one of the deadliest wars since World War II. It cost Iran an estimated 1 million casualties, killed or wounded, and Iranians continued to suffer and die as a consequence of Iraq’s use of chemical weapons. And still, not all was negative according to the Iranian government-owned Etelaat newspaper who had this to say:

“There is not a single school or town that is excluded from the happiness of “holy defence” of the nation, from drinking the exquisite elixir of martyrdom, or from the sweet death of the martyr, who dies in order to live forever in paradise.”

Get the picture?

Jews Against Obama?

With the first round of GOP primary debates already underway, a lingering question is whether President Obama honored the Jewish vote he had so clearly secured when he won the 2009 presidential race.

Republican Bob Turner’s upset victory last Tuesday in the special election for the mostly Democratic congressional seat in New York’s ninth district is said to be a referendum on Obama’s failed economic policies and relations with Israel.

House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement Tuesday night that voters from New York “delivered a strong warning to the Democrats who control the levers of power in our federal government. It’s time to scrap the failed ‘stimulus’ agenda and the misguided policies on Israel and focus on getting America back to creating jobs again.”

Obama’s campaign is downplaying the suggestion that Jewish voters are turning against the president. Pete Sessions, the National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman however said in a statement that the race demonstrates “voters are losing confidence in a president whose policies assault job-creators and affront Israel.”

Other issues are lingering wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan and Libya where a NATO assisted coup on the Qadaffi regime will win control over the region for the al-Qaeda.

Democratic State Assemblyman who lost to Turner, David Weprin, is an Orthodox Jew while Turner is a Catholic who has managed to maintain a stronger pro-Zionist stance than his Jewish opponent.

Ed Koch, former New York Mayor and Jerusalem Post columnist said this summer he was endorsing Turner as a way to “send a message” to Obama on his policies toward Israel.

Executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Matt Brooks said in a statement “without question, Obama’s policies are causing significant numbers of Jewish voters to re-examine their loyalty to the Democratic Party.”

Abe Novick wrote on his blog over at Jerusalem Post:

“From Rick Perry to Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum et al., their backing is clear. During the last decade, especially since President George W. Bush had to confront the reality of terrorism head on, the GOP has worked to position itself as the more supportive party, favorable and in line with Israel and therefore to many Jewish voters. At the same time, for the past several elections, Democrats have taken the Jewish vote for granted. Behind the scenes, JStreet, the leftwing lobbying organization, has been overly influential on the Obama administration and has shaped and influenced its policy vis-à-vis Israel.”

Nonetheless, Abe Novick writes:

1. Prior to yesterday’s win in the Brooklyn-Queens district where Anthony Weiner had been the Democratic Representative to Congress, a Democratic polling firm (Public Policy Polling) found that 54% of all voters in the Weiner district and 68% of Jewish voters, disapproved of Mr. Obama’s position on Israel. Additionally, 37% of all voters and 58% of Jewish voters said Mr. Obama’s Israel position was “very important” in deciding their vote. Yesterday, even in the heavily Democratic district where they have a 3-1 majority, Republican Bob Turner won. Moreover, in a district that is 40% Jewish, Turner is a 70-year-old Catholic who won against David Weprin, a Jewish Democrat. If that’s not a wake-up call, then the Whitehouse needs to install air raid sirens from Israel.

2. In the midst of the upcoming U.N. vote on Palestinian statehood, the Obama Administration has only recently publicly said they plan to veto it in the Security Council. Why the long wait in making a public statement and elongating the mystery? Meanwhile, he has sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton off in a last minute attempt to beg and cajole the PA not to go through with it. By not understanding that the PA is now one-half Hamas, due to their alliance, he’s dealing with a terrorist organization and one that does not and will not recognize Israel.”

Capability: Dealing With Iran

Deputy Prime Minister and former IDF chief of staff, Moshe Ya’alon has declared that Israel has the technological capability to make a military strike on Iran.

In an address at a conference on air power at the Fisher Institute for Air & Space Strategic Studies, Ya’alon said that Israel’s experience in carrying out air strikes, such as Iraq’s nuclear reactor Osirak in 1981 and Syria in 2007 could feasibly, even easily be applied to the distantly located Iranian regime.

“There is no doubt that the technological capabilities, which improved in recent years, have improved range and aerial refueling capabilities, and have brought about a massive improvement in the accuracy or ordnance and intelligence…This capability can be used for a war on terror in Gaza, for a war in the face of rockets from Lebanon, for war on the conventional Syrian army, and also for war on a peripheral state like Iran.”

Ya’alon posited air strikes to “decapitate or blind” an enemy by targeting its early-warning defenses or even its leadership:

“As far as I’m concerned, attack remains the best form of defense.”

Israel views herself at a de facto war with Iran as a result of its sponsorship of Hezbollah and Hamas:

“There is no doubt, looking at the overall situation, that we are already in a military confrontation with Iran…Iran is the main motivator of those attacking us.”

IRAQI NO-NO

According to recent reports, Iraq is moving to remove the Jewish elements from the tomb of the prophet Ezekiel, and turn it into a mosque. A MOSQUE?! Yeah, a mosque. You might say they are making a mosquery of a very holy site.
Ezekiel lived about 2,500 years ago and preached about the salvation of the Jewish People – you may recall his Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones.

Ezekiel lived in Babylon at the time of King Solomon’s temple. Legend holds that he is buried in the village of Al Kilf, to the south of Baghdad.
Professor Shmuel Morre, former head of the Arabic Language and Literature Department at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, had this to say:

“I received information from a senior Iraqi scholar pertaining to the local authorities’ intention of turning the tomb into a mosque under the guise of ‘preservation’ of the holy site…the man who provided me with the information stressed that the Iraqi antiquities department has been under heavy pressure to erase any proof of the Jews’ connection to Iraq.”

Iraq is also the home of the tombs of Ezra the Scribe, the Prophet Jonah and King Zedekiah.
Local authorities in Iraq have already begun to erase Hebrew inscriptions off Ezekiel’s tomb, in order to turn the site into a mosque.
For hundreds of years the tomb has been placed carefully in the hands of leaders of the Jewish community in Iraq.
Currently the country contains only eight Jews. Two short and too short of a minyan, sadly. The rest have become Muslim or are in hiding for fear of being murdered by terrorists…something which has been known to happen in Mess-O-Patamia.
Manager of the “Justice for Jews” organization, Shlomo Alfassa has approached US government authorities and has demanded to

“stop the Islamization of the Jewish prophet’s tomb.”

An appeal has also been made to the UNESCO headquarters, which is responsible for maintaining the religious character of holy sites.

The Osirak Payback?

Here’s a good classroom discussion:

Iraq has demanded that Israel pay a compensation for bombing the unfinished nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981. A justified demand?

Actually Muhammad Naji Muhammad is planning to enlist the United Nation’s help to put pressure on the Jewish Country to compensate Baghdad, for its world famous stealth mission.

“Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and the Foreign Ministry turned to the UN and the Security Council demanding that Israel pay us reparations for damage caused to the reactor in 1981.”

Firstly, Baghdad is demanding that the UN establish a committee to assess the scope of the damage caused by the Israeli strike in order to calculate an appropriate compensation fee.

Iraq is basing its demand on UN Security Council Resolution 487. The resolution was drafted following the bombing of the reactor in June 1981. It harshly condemned Israel’s aerial stealth and said that Iraq had a right to demand compensation over the damages.

Of course the resolution came before the “Gulf War” of 1990-91, when Saddam Hussein decided to fire missiles at Tel Aviv.

Meanwhile, Iraq has decided that the time is right to build a new reactor.

“We are co-operating with the IAEA and expanding and defining areas of research where we can implement nuclear technology for peaceful means,”

Iraqi science and technology minister Raid Fahmi told a British newspaper.

“After the dissolution [of the regime] we did not have an industry, but we have become more and more conscious of the need for nuclear technology. This was raised several months ago with the relevant bodies.”

US Should Down IAF Jets Over Iraq? Are you CRAZY?

Back when Barack Obama was just a junior Senator from Illinois and running for president, much of the Jewish community was up in arms about the various friends and advisers surrounding the young presidential hopeful. They included the vitriolic anti Semite Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s personal pastor, Weather Underground member Bill Ayers, who was caught plotting to bomb the Pentagon over Vietnam in the 70’s, and there was also a former cabinet member in the brzezinski zbigniewCarter Administration, National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who besides having way too many consecutive consonants in both of his names, has been known to be viciously anti Israel in his past statements. Brzezinski was luckily denied a position in the Obama Administration thanks largely to efforts of the pro Israel lobby in blacklisting him and putting pressure on Obama to repudiate him as a possible adviser by hanging the Jewish vote over his head.

In any case, Obama’s fans downplayed each of these associations, saying they either weren’t important or didn’t influence his opinions, Obama is just trying to be diplomatic and friendly with the other side, etc. Maybe they are right. However, today, Brzezinski came out with a statement that may just knock their socks off. Brzezinski has actually urged Obama to make it clear that if the IAF tries to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities via Iraqi airspace, the US Air Force will shoot down the Israeli jets.

Wow. Talk about total lunatic-tinged insanity.

He continued, “We are not exactly impotent little babies,” Brzezinski told The Daily Beast in an interview published Sunday. “They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch? … We have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not.”

The implications of such a confrontation would be entirely catastrophic in so many senses that it is impossible to count or assess. For one, and most immediately, it would ensure the safety of the Iranian nuclear program until the entire Islamic middle east is armed to the teeth with WMD. Second, it would irreversibly damage, if not destroy the friendship between Israel and the US for years, if not decades, to come. It would quite simply change the entire world in a matter of seconds.

That, however, does not seem to matter to Brzezinski. It seems that his distaste for Israel and its existential safety are of no concern when it comes to his not wanting to look like “impotent little babies,” in the eyes of the Jews with the planes.

Here’s one word of advice, Brzezinski. Allow Iran to complete its nuclear ambitions by shooting us down, and you will end up an impotent little baby in front of the Ayatollahs. And unlike Israel, they don’t take well to being shot down if they’re armed with nuclear weapons.

Saudi Arabia WILL NOT let Israel Use Its Airspace – Damn!

Thanks Karin! This was published a couple of days ago:

Mossad head Meir Dagan assured Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that Saudi Arabia would allow IAF jets to fly over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Sunday Times reported.

Iran nuclear facility in BushehrThis was published now: Saudi Arabia Denies Reports Regarding Israeli Use of Its Airspace

WASHINGTON, July 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia today issued the following statement in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia:

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia totally and categorically denies accounts published by a British newspaper regarding contacts with Israel or permission to use Saudi airspace for any hostile activities. The Kingdom is greatly puzzled by the publication of this false information, which directly contradicts the established, firm and clear policies of the Saudi government regarding relations with the occupying government of Israel and the Kingdom’s prohibition against the use of its territories or airspace for aggression against another nation.”

This is distributed by Qorvis Communications, LLC on behalf of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia. Additional information is available at the Department of Justice, Washington, DC. Source: Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia

CONTACT: Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Information Office, Washington,
DC, +1-202-337-4076

So that’s it – we’re back to using Syria and Iraq…

Obama’s Egyptian Overture

He came with all the fanfare and adulation as a newly crowned Prince of Peace. Only this time, Barack Hussein Obama came to speak in Cairo as the 44th President of the United States of America, and spoke before a packed audience within the opulent Presidential Palace, the former residence of King Faruk, the last Egyptian king. He began his fine toned and eloquent address by saying “Al Salaam Aleikum”, May Peace be Upon You, and told the packed auditorium that he hopes to usher in a new era of relations between his country and the Nation of Islam, of which he said, the country of Egypt and City of Cairo are one of that religion’s finest realms.

Obama in EgyptIn regards to the religion of Islam, Obama told his audience that America is “not at war with Islam”, but will confront violent extremism and their aspiration to “kill as many innocent people as they can”, especially those small groups (such as Al Qaeda) which have gone against the positive dictates of the religion and have committed gross acts of terror, such as 9-11; and who still vow to commit more such acts.

After noting what his country plans to do in regards to the situation in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places where American soldiers are still on active duty, Obama reached the part of speech we all had been waiting for , i.e. that part regarding his plans and desires for dealing with the situation involving Israel and the Palestinians. While he did say that his country has a ” very close and historic relationship with the State of Israel”, and mentioned the long persecution of the Jewish People and the horrors of the Holocaust ( “anybody who denies the Holocaust is ignorant and hateful”) he then countered by comparing this with the “suffering of the Palestinians in pursuit of a homeland” and that for more than 60 years they have lived in refugee and displaced person’s camps due to the occupation ( in all of Israel, perhaps?).

And again, he received loud applause when he spoke about “two states for two peoples to live side by side in peace and security” and that “America will not turn her back on a state for the Palestinian People”.

Side by side – peace and security. Many in Israel wonder how this will be accomplished, especially in light of current realities; and in light of Hamas’ (and even Fatah’s ) relations with Israel.

Obama also went on to speak about achieving democracy in the Middle East, saying that “elections alone do not make democracy”. He was obviously referring to the situation in counties like Egypt where the situation is far from being democratic (probably making his host Hosnei Mubarak squirm a bit). He also talked about women’s rights (a topic probably added by his wife Michelle and by his Sec. of State Hillary Clinton), saying that women who are denied an education are denied equality. He said: “I am convinced that our daughters (he has two) can contribute as much as our sons to society” and promised that his country will help Muslim countries to give more opportunities to women” (that must have gone over like a lead balloon to any male listening in countries like Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan).

We’re sure Mr. Obama does realize that Israel gives more opportunities to women than any country in the entire region, and that this will always be the case. Perhaps Palestinian women might pick up on this message though, providing their men-folk are willing to let them do so.

He ended his speech by quoting the Golden Rule, which he noted is also found in the Quran: “to do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. In a way, this “rule” has been practiced in this region, although not exactly in a positive framework. And that is where the entire matter may be found; i.e. in how this rule can be more positively applied.

In any respect, people will be analyzing his speech in the weeks and months to come, as well as being on the lookout for any hidden meanings. He did tell the young people of the region (including young Israelis we presume) that “you have the ability to change and reshape this world”.

Let’s all hope that this “changing and reshaping” will be within a positive framework.

Duck George, Duck!

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8GOrc0-Ygg[/youtube]

When I saw this I was actually surprised by the responsiveness of the American president. Not bad at all. I think that most world leaders, especially some of the guys we have here would definitely have gotten whacked by one of those shoes.

I was also surprised by the ease with which one could approach the US President and the really slow reaction of the Secret Service. They were really in slow mode. I guess all the good guys are watching the new guy 🙂

In any case about the shoes themselves: In Iraqi culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt (Al Jazeera) in case you had any doubt.. So of course is calling someone a dog.

And on the topics of dogs… This is a new YouTube hit:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVuBPaJsNQc[/youtube]

7 Years to 9/11

It’s been seven years since the world’s largest terror attack. Thousands of people died within minutes, in one surrealistic September morning. And then the world changed forever.

What would the world be like if there was no 9/11? Would America still go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq? Would George W. Bush still be elected for a second term? Would the Georgian conflict and the possible emergence of a second Cold War still be happening?

We don’t know. And it doesn’t matter. This is the world we live in, and we have to do our best with what we’ve got. More than 3000 people did die 7 years ago, and this wasn’t a Hollywood special effects scene. Personally, I still cannot comprehend the full meaning of that morning in New York. The mind cannot deal with such surrealism, so we try to repress what happened — and once a year, the unreal penetrates through our defense shield and we remind ourselves that life is ultimately uncertain.

The Great Peacemaker

Iraq WinsIraq; that worn torn country where sectarian violence is rampant and daily car bombs and other forms of terrorism have become a way of life, finally had reason to celebrate when their national football team won the Asian Cup by beating Saudi Arabia 1-0. Many might wonder how this beleaguered land could even have a sports organization capable of sending a national team to play in an event that is one of the preliminary qualifying tournaments for playing in the World Cup football competition, played every four years.

What is really thrilling is seeing how the Iraqi people have come together to celebrate this event; displaying an element of national pride that hasn’t been around for years – even during the more than 30 reign of dictator Saddam Hussein. Following the Iraqi team victory, Iraqi citizens from all backgrounds; Sunni, Shiite, Kurds, and others came together to not only celebrate their team’s accomplishment but to display their own national pride which had been lacking there for nearly two generations.

This is not the first time that sporting events have brought people together and instilled in them a sense of deep national pride. It happens all the time and for a brief while, old animosities appear to be forgotten and individual hatreds are put on a back burner. The Iraqi team victory may not mean much to people living in Israel; but the spirit of it should show both Israelis and other people living in this region that perhaps there is a better way to deal with differences and hatreds other than by force of arms.

Perhaps the time has come for peoples in this region to agree to compete against each other not by military aggression but by participation in sporting events. Taking the Asian Cup into account, Israel does not play in this event due to the religious and political animosity that still exists between the Jewish State and her neighbors. Suppose that it were possible for Israeli teams to participate in sporting competitions with countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and even Iraq. Such events might help a lot towards solving political and cultural differences, and might even help to bring people closer together. For some reason, the comradeship that takes place in athletic competition, including the Olympic Games, at least contributes towards peace and friendship, if only for a limited time.

The next Olympiad is only one year away. Perhaps the time has come for Israeli athletes to be able to compete more against athletes from countries with which Israel is still technically at war. In any event, it is worth any possible risks; and if Israeli athletes or teams are able to directly compete against athletes from countries like Iran, than perhaps the “ice” will melt; or at least thaw out a bit.

So while Iraqi fans are still celebrating their team’s victory, perhaps some of that good feeling might work its way towards Israel. Why not? Let sports be the great equalizer as it has shown to be in Iraq.

The Saddam Hangman Game

I found this version of the old Hangman game with a new twist. While you guess the letters Saddam will taunt you. I guess in light of the recent letter and the looming execution this is just a first in a line of “new ideas”..

Eating Humble Pie: Rumsfeld Resigns as Defense Secretary

Following an apparent Democratic Party sweep of both houses of Congress, U.S. President George W. Bush announced yesterday that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has resigned his position as head of America’s defense establishment. In a short speech at the White House, Bush said that he met with Rumsfeld and that “we both agreed that it was time for him to step down as Secretary of Defense.”

Bush as nominated Robert Gates, a former CIA head during Bush’s father’s Presidential Administration, to replace the outgoing Rumsfeld. Gates is a close friend of the Bush family, and is currently President of Texas A & M University. He served as CIA chief from 1991 to 1993. Upon accepting the nomination, Gates said: “the world is fighting terrorism on a world-wide scale. It is no longer a regional issue that many can ignore”. The nomination of Gates, however, is not a ‘shoe-in’ and must now be confirmed by a Senate which is no longer in ‘partisan’ hands. Rumsfeld’s resignation did not come as a surprise to many; and had probably been in the pipeline for some time, awaiting the right opportunity.

It’s still too early to say what changes will be made within the Defense Department. With a less friendly Congress to deal with, it’s certain that the situation in both Iraq and Afghanistan will be a top priority. Increasing opposition against the military actions and occupation by an American public who want solutions will be the new Congress’s most pressing agenda when it convenes in January, 2007. Incidents such as the Abu Ghiraib prison scandal and many incidents involving the rape and killing of Iraqi civilians by American troops only added to the problems during Rumsfeld’s ‘watch’, with far too many high ranking officers complaining of inadequate equipment and manpower to do the job.

More pressing priorities, such as a nuclear armed Iran and North Korea, now face the incoming Defense Secretary, not to mention the current situation in the Middle East. The Bush Administration in its remaining two years will have to deal with a war on terror involving increasing religious ideology versus Western democracy. America will have to decide whether to conduct a strategic retreat from both Iraq and Afghanistan, letting the peoples of those countries sort out their own problems; or to make an all out effort to achieve military victory on a scale not seen since World War II, which will include a return to military conscription (the draft) as well as possible rationing of fuel and certain commodities on the home front. Fighting a ‘partial war’ just won’t work, as the ultimate stakes are much too high.

Photo; Associated Press

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