Archive | January 4th, 2012

Iraq 2011: The Return of the Poets

Al-Akhbar Management

Iraqi poet Muzaffar al-Nawab. (Photo: Al-Akhbar)

By: Hussam al-Saray

Published Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Poet Muzaffar al-Nawab’s visit to Baghdad in May 2011 was one of Iraq’s national and cultural highlights this past year.

In addition, after a series of protests over the last year, Iraqi intellectuals succeeded in preserving the legacy of the poet Muhammad Mahdi al-Jawahiri (1899-1997) by preventing the sale of his house in Baghdad, which had been slated to be converted into a commercial space.

Many creative people passed away in 2011, perhaps the most significant of whom was theater director Hadi al-Mahdi, who was assassinated in September; pioneering sculptor Muhammed Ghani Hikmat; music critic Adel al-Hashimi, who died suddenly in Cairo; and pioneering novelist Mahmoud Abdul Wahab.

Other important individuals who passed away in the past year include archaeologist Donny George; critics Qassim Olwan and Adnan Quttub; poet and journalist Muhammad Darwish Ali; his colleague Salam al-Nasser; the poets Mahdi Muhammad Ali and Ali al-Shibani; linguist Nima Raheem al-Azzawi; writer Mahmoud Zamdar; and the poet and artist Khaled Dulayr.

The growth of new cultural organizations in Iraq during 2011 has not been as impressive as other years. The initiative “Young Baghdad,” started by the poet Abdul Khaleq Kaytan, has gone quiet after he returned to Australia.

Other organizations that were established in 2011 have been limited in their activities since being established. One such group, the collective “We Are Baghdad,” was set up by the musician Naseer Shamma in response to the Mercer Consultancy Group’s choice of Baghdad as the worst place to live in the world.

One of the more significant phenomena that has evolved during the last few months has been Iraqi intellectuals establishing networking and dialogue groups on Facebook, similar to electronic cafes.

These internet-based groups include “The Generation After the Change,” for poets who appeared after the American invasion; “We Want to Know,” which aims to investigate events in a transparent and responsible way; and “My Nose Writes Stories,” which is administered by the novelist Ahmad Saadawi to share Iraqi, Arab, and international narratives.

Activists and intellectuals have also been reacting to the Arab Spring since January. They issued statements and came out in solidarity in Baghdad’s public squares.

Many of them have joined and supported the popular demonstrations against corruption and deteriorating social conditions in Iraq which began in February. Some of these activists and intellectuals have even been detained and humiliated by the security services.

Despite this cultural activity, the desire to leave the country has been on the minds of many intellectuals and artists due to a general feeling of despair and the intensification of political conflict and instability in Iraq.

The poet Shaker Laibi, who came back a few months ago with the intention of settling in Baghdad and returning to academia, quickly changed his mind and went back to Tunis.

Despite the overall gloom of the situation, there have been glimmers of light and successes here and there.

The first round of the Baghdad International Book Fair was held from April 20 to May 5. Najaf hosted the Theater Forum and the International Iraq Short Film Festival in 2011 as well as the Second Festival of World Poetry, which the city hosted in November.

In the cinema scene, Iraq won several prizes. The documentary film, Cola, by Yahya al-Allaq won second prize at the Gulf Film Festival in Dubai. The film also won the prize for best documentary at the Beirut International Film Festival.

Qutayba al-Janabi’s film, Leaving Baghdad, won best film at the Gulf Film Festival in Dubai and director Sahim Omar’s film, The Land of Heroes, won second prize in the Arab Muhr Competition for Short Films at the Gulf Film Festival.

Akram Hido’s film Halabja – the Lost Children won the special judges’ prize for documentaries in Dubai.

Meanwhile, a few local festivals took place such as the Baghdad International Film Festival in October, which critics say “was not a complete disaster, but experienced some clear organizational failures.”

The same could be said of the Mirbad Poetry Festival in Basra during April, which did not succeed in overcoming the mistakes of past years.

The ability of publishers to market Iraqi books did not improved last year. Writers continue to seek Arab publishers who will market their work with many local publishers still unable to make a success of their publications.

Meanwhile, publishers established abroad before 2003, such as Al-Jamal and Al-Mada, have continued to participate in Arab and international book fairs.

Mudafar Al-Nawab – مظفر النواب




Posted in Middle East, LiteratureComments Off on Iraq 2011: The Return of the Poets




Posted in AfricaComments Off on HISTORY OF CONGO




Posted in AfricaComments Off on CRISIS IN THE CONGO







By Chris Marsden

The visit by Arab League observers to Homs, Hama, Idlib, Deraa , the Damascus suburb of Douma and other conflict zones has become the focus of concerted demands for the Western powers to intervene militarily into the ongoing civil war in Syria.

The mission was endorsed by Syria, in line with an Arab League plan calling for the withdrawal of military forces, a halt to violence against civilians and the release of detainees.

The opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) initially responded with a media campaign designed to discredit the mission. Demonstrations were staged wherever the observers visited.

The Arab League monitors are clearly under orders from Washington to come up with a hostile report on the regime of President Bashir al-Assad. On Tuesday, the US State Department warned that “if the Syrian regime continues to resist and disregard Arab League efforts, the international community will consider other means to protect Syrian civilians.”

There is no reason to assume that the Arab League will disappoint the US. The head of the observers, Sudanese intelligence chief General Mustafa al-Dabi, has been denounced for his involvement in war crimes in Darfur, especially after he said the “situation seemed reassuring” on his initial visit to Homs. But Sudan’s Islamist government was given charge of the mission as reward for its support for the war to overthrow Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.

By Friday, amid mass opposition rallies following prayers in several cities, there was a marked change in tone towards the mission. Washington urged critics to allow the monitors to finish their work and businessman Rami Abdul Rahman, head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, described the Arab League’s presence as “the only ray of light” for Syrians.

Foreign Policy magazine this week wrote that “top officials in President Barack Obama’s administration are quietly preparing options for how to assist the Syrian opposition,” including the option of setting up a no-fly zone. The US National Security Council (NSC) “has begun an informal, quiet interagency process,” led by NSC Senior Director Steve Simon.

In mid-December, former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds wrote that US troops have been stationed on the Jordanian and Syrian borders.

Foreign Policy cites a policy paper of the Syrian National Council, entitled “Safe Area for Syria,” which lays out the argument for armed intervention. The magazine fails to explain that the paper was produced by the Strategic Research and Communication Centre, whose head, Ausama Monajed, was previously in charge of Barada TV, a London-based US government-funded satellite network.

An Arab front for military operations with the aim of deposing Assad is considered politically expedient by Washington and other Western powers. This would deprive their ultimate target, Iran, of its main regional ally and help consolidate US hegemony of the entire Middle East, to the detriment of Russia and China.

SNC head Burhan Ghalioun has made clear that the SNC understands the Arab League plan to be a diversionary tactic behind which imperialist intervention is being prepared. He urged the Arab League and the United Nations “to defend Syrians by establishing isolated and secure areas inside Syria.”

The Arab League “plan to defuse the crisis” is a “good” plan,” he said, “but I do not believe the Arab League really has the means” to enforce it. “It is better if the UN Security Council takes this (Arab League) plan, adopts it and provides the means for its application. That would give it more force.”

Events in Syria closely mirror the run-up to the military campaign to depose Gaddafi in Libya, with the SNC acting as a front for the operations of US, British and French forces and those of the Gulf regimes.

On December 27, the right-wing Israeli web site DEBKAfile alleged that Qatar was building up a “Sunni intervention force of Libyan, Iraqi terrorists against Assad.”

It wrote, “The new highly mobile force boosts the anti-Assad Free Syrian Army, whose numbers have jumped to 20,000 fighters, armed and funded by Qatar and now forming into military battalions and brigades at their bases in Turkey… the Qatari and Saudi rulers approved a crash program for the Qatari chief of staff, Maj.-Gen Hamas Ali al-Attiya, to weld this mobile intervention Sunni Muslim force out of Al Qaeda-linked operatives for rapid deployment on the Turkish-Syrian border.”

DEBKAfile reports that the force numbers 2,500, including 1,000 members of the Islamic Fighting Group in Libya (IFGL) and 1,000 operatives of the Iraqi Ansar al-Sunna.

The report cannot be verified, but it is in line with statements made by Britain’s Sir David Richards, chief of the defence staff, to the Royal United Service Institute in London this month. He insisted that the “key” to the success of the Libyan intervention, providing a model for future UK foreign policy, was “integrating the Qataris, Emiratis and Jordanians into the operation.”

These countries had made up the key land element of the war in Libya, Richards said. “Without them and their defence chiefs’ leadership,” he declared, “especially the huge understanding they brought to the campaign, it is unlikely that the NTC’s [National Transitional Council] militias could have successfully acted as the land element without which the right outcome would have been impossible.”

Qatar first admitted its role in providing ground troops to Libya in late October. Chief-of-Staff Major-General Hamad bin Ali al-Atiya, said, “We were among [the NTC] and the numbers of Qataris on the ground were hundreds in every region. Training and communications had been in Qatari hands… We acted as the link between the rebels and NATO forces.”

The Wall Street Journal on October 17 reported: “With the blessing of Western intelligence agencies, Qatar flew at least 18 weapons shipments in all to anti-Gaddafi rebel forces this spring and summer,” the majority directly to “militias run by Islamist leaders.”

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan were all also active in the Libyan intervention.

Back in November, Richards told Sky News that Britain had contingency plans should Iran’s nuclear program or a deteriorating situation in Syria necessitate action. “We’ve got a lot of plans in the locker, and we talk to other nations who would inevitably be involved in them so that if ever the situation deteriorated to the stage where armed force would have to be used, we could do it quickly and efficiently,” he said.

On December 29, Reuters issued an eyewitness account of the real situation on the ground in Homs. He describes a “vicious sectarian fight … tearing Homs apart and overshadowing peaceful protest. Roads are blocked with checkpoints and some neighbourhoods are carved up by trenches. Kidnappings are an almost daily occurrence.”

The Free Syrian Army “launch attacks with increasing frequency,” Reuters wrote, while in Alawite neighbourhoods armed men and the security forces have formed their own squads.




 by Nahida the Exiled Palestinian



“The singular triumph of the Zionist movement is that it invented a state and a people – Israel and the Israelis – from scratch. The first Hebrew-speaking child in 1900 years, Ittamar Ben-Avi,
was not born until 1882. His father, the brilliant linguist Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, created a modern language for him to speak by improvising from the language of the Bible.”

MJ Rosenberg Information Clearing House



“This attempt to justify Zionism through genetics is reminiscent of the procedures of late nineteenth-century anthropologists who very scientifically set out to discover the specific characteristics of Europeans. As of today, no study based on anonymous DNA samples has succeeded in identifying a genetic marker specific to Jews, and it is not likely that any study ever will. It is a bitter irony to see the descendants of Holocaust survivors set out to find a biological Jewish identity: Hitler would certainly have been very pleased! And it is all the more repulsive that this kind of research should be conducted in a state that has waged for years a declared policy of ‘Judaization of the country’ in which even today a Jew is not allowed to marry a non-Jew.”

Shlomo Sand. The Invention of the Jewish People. Verso, 2009.



“When we speak of ‘Palestinians’ or of the ‘Arab population [of Palestine]‘, we must bear in mind their Canaanite origin. This is important because their legal right to the country stems…from the fact that the Canaanites were first, which gives them priority; their descendants have continued to live there, which gives them continuity; and (except for the 800,000 dispossessed refugees [of 1948 along with the 25,000 expelled just prior to and during Israel’s first invasion of Egypt in 1956 and the additional more than 400,000 driven out during and after the war Israel launched on 5 June 1967]) they are still living there, which gives them present possession. Thus we see that on purely statistical grounds they have a proven legal right to their own land.”

Professor Ilene Beatty, Historian/anthropologist and “Holy Land” specialist:

“Arab and Jew in the Land of Canaan” 1957

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on INVENTED PEOPLE

Shoah’s pages