Iraqi Kurdistan’s plans for a Sept. 25 referendum on independence have been met with frustration from many sides. Neither the United States nor the government in Baghdad, nor other regional capitals like Tehran or Ankara, are pleased with the prospect of a third of Iraq breaking away completely. Such a move, they fear, could further destabilize Iraq and the wider Middle East. The United States is now pushing the Kurdish government to postpone the referendum indefinitely.
Those fears are unfair. After all, the policies of the governments in Baghdad, Tehran, Damascus and Ankara have done more to wreak havoc in the Middle East than Kurdish voters possibly could.… Seguir leyendo »
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton complained to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about proposed cuts in her budget, saying that more money was needed to improve the U.S. image overseas. But she didn’t say at least two other things:
One, even when then-President George W. Bush declared a “war of ideas” and increased the diplomatic budget, the United States wasn’t able to improve its reputation, particularly in the Muslim world.
Two, the damaged reputation doesn’t stem from the highly regarded American principles of freedom and justice, of the kindness of the American people, or of advances in science and technology, but from aspects of foreign policy.… Seguir leyendo »
The mostly Christian and animist southern Sudan voted almost unanimously last month to secede from the mostly Muslim and Arab north.
Am I, a Northern Arab Muslim, supposed to celebrate, although I have been called by some southerners an oppressor, a colonialist and a slave-trader? True, my grandfather had slaves from the south, but was that my fault?
More than half a century ago, I saw the first southern Sudanese, when he visited my village, Wadi Haj (population 100), near the town of Argo, on the Nile River in Northern Sudan, south of the borders with Egypt.
An educational administrator, he was visiting the town’s schools, and was making courtesy calls to the village elders when we, young boys, curiously followed him from one house to the other.… Seguir leyendo »
The five Muslim Americans who were arrested in Pakistan last month for terrorism recently told a Pakistani court that they were not members of al-Qaeda, didn’t want to harm Pakistan and were on their way to Afghanistan to wage jihad against Western forces there. One of them declared: “We are not terrorists. We are jihadists, and jihad is not terrorism.” Their lawyer added that they only wanted to “help the helpless Muslims.”
This sparked me to resume my own jihad — in front of the White House.
During the last days of the Bush administration, I started standing in front of the White House on weekends, silently holding a banner that asks on one side “What is Terrorism?” and, on the other side, “What is Islam?”
I have lived and worked in Washington since 1980 as a correspondent for Arabic newspapers and magazines in the Middle East.… Seguir leyendo »