Beijing Olympic Games and "political embarrassment"

The Olympic Games were an occasion for political statements. The West boycotted Moscow O.G in protest of the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan. The communist block boycotted the Los Angeles in retaliation. From 1988 Soul Olympic Games to Athens Olympic Games, things seemed to go smoothly, except for fear of terrorist attacks after 9/11.

But when the boycott of the Moscow O.G was about the USSR foreign policy, now the threat of Beijing O.G is because of China’s internal policy. Maybe the current protests in Tibet were well planned and staged as the Tibetans can’t have a better moment to publicize their cause than the moment when the focus is on China hosting the Olympic Games.

The Chinese government may have little embarrassment as it is used to Western media portraying it negatively because of human right records and the current great divide between the rich and the poor in rural and urban areas. China can avert the influence of foreign media reports by staging a great propaganda at home showing the great progress it has made in the recent years and the outside doesn’t want China to be a unified and strong country.

During the games, China will have the means to make them look a big success. It will use televised transmissions of the games. As a country of bout 1.4 billion people, it won’t lack the huge crowds to attend the games. The fact that US president has confirmed that he will attend the opening ceremony will give a boast to the Chinese.

The Western media can boycott the games. But today there are hundreds of channels in the third world countries that will transmit the games. Many governments in the third world countries use big sporting events to give their people a “good time”. So they went miss on Beijing Olympic Games as they won’t seek to sour their relations with the Chinese government.

Maybe the current events in Tibet are a big worry for the Chinese government. But its control of the media and the streets, plus the glamour of the games and their installations can be a good hypnosis for people at home to look at the good side of things. Tibet then will be a parenthesis in local media as the focus will be on the game results.

Can the Iraqis take full responsiblity for their security?

Fresh fighting has erupted in the southern Iraqi city of Basra and elsewhere, as Iraqi security forces battle Shia militants for a second day.

Unrest in Basra has been stoked by a variety of militias and criminal gangs. Iraq‘s Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has given Shia militants in the southern city of Basra 72 hours to lay down their arms or face “severe penalties”.

Iraq is still far from taking control of its security as long as there are heavily armed militias like that Sadr Militia. Iraq can’t continue under the protection of foreign forces which so far have failed to bring full stability to the country.

It’s up to the Iraqis to solve their problems among themselves through national reconciliation and without any interference from other countries, especially, the USA and Iran. foreign alliances will just perpetuate the current violence and instability.

Iraq also needs a national army made up of all sections of its population, mainly Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis. It also needs friendly neighbors. As now it is surrounded by Iran and Syria the greatest enemies of the USA in the region, Iraq will have to keep vigilant as its close alliance with the USA will make it constantly on the alert. Iran will continue to use the Shiites opposed to the presence of the USA in Iraq to create political havocs in it.

On the whole, the Iraqis must choose between making their country a land of peace or simply a battleground in which they sacrifice just their own countrymen, among whom the number of deaths has reached hundreds of thousands since the US invasion in 2003.

US troops will surely continue to operate in the country. For the US having Iraq under its protection is meant to keep control of the whole of the Middle Est. There is no prospect of the diffusion of tensions in the regions in which the US has long term interests. US military presence in Iraq as in the other Gulf States will continue for years, perhaps until the region dries up of its oil sources and countries like Iran are no longer considered as a major security threat.

Is the world safer?

Has the world become safer?

The war on terrorism seems to have benefited just security companies. This means the world is no longer as safe as it used to be without extra security measures . CCTV cameras are commonplace in many places in the world. UK has the record number per capita, exceeding 4,300,000- which means a camera for every 15 citizens.

In Morocco, there are around 40,000 private security guards recruited following terrorist incidents in Casablanca and the terrorist threats in other major cities, not to mention the rise in crimes.. CCTV cameras are getting installed in major areas. The war on terrorism has made security spending go even higher even in countries where it was normal to walk past key buildings without being spotted by cameras or checked by a guard. The world doesn’t seem safer but forced to keep safe by whatever means. Iraqis have the misfortune of having terrorism concretised through frequent violence. The rest of the world; especially, in countries closely allied to the West, there is the constant scare and alert of might happen.

The world is no longer safe. it is struggling to get safe. It is growing dangerous as the fear of what might happen is another form of being psychologically terrorised.

The right to die!

Life is sacred. Everybody should have the right to a happy life. But life shouldn’t become a slow death for those who are terminally ill. They have the right to terminate it if their case is interminably hopeless. There were cases of doctors who unregrettably used euthanasia in defiance of the law to help their patients die as it was the case in Germany.

Some choose to die because of feeling useless, as it happens in Japan where there are about 30,000 suicides annually, especially among the elderly who feel they are just a burden on society. Others choose to die because they feel they have seen what they should and the remaining of their life will be just a series of successive days without any difference.

There are those who choose to die for a cause, but not without killing as many people as possible as it is the case of suicide bombers. For them suicide is a journey into an eternal life of bliss.

People don’t choose to be born. But they have the right to choose how to live and die as long as their lives and deaths aren’t a danger to the others. Keeping an incurable person alive just to uphold a principle is cruel in itself. What is wrong with euthanasia is when it is used by unscrupulous doctors and relatives to benefit from the death of a person because of their wealth or the cost of keeping them in medical care.

5th Anniversary of US led Iraq invasion.

Forty years ago or so the Vietnam War was a major preoccupation for the media. But its resonance didn’t affect much of the world as it was carried out in a “classical” way. There were the American army and the communist fighters that had to stand against each other. As for the world powers, they were dealing with it diplomatically. The only trouble the USA had were the demonstrations at home against it. But the country was safe as there were no threats of terrorist attacks. There were only clashes between the police and the demonstrators at home and the raging war in Vietnam which cost the lives of 50,000 American soldiers and much more of physically and mentally handicapped veterans.

Today, Iraq War has become global. It isn’t just the business of the USA and its Iraqi opponents. There are fighters of different nationalities. Maybe their number in Iraq is dwindling because of their deaths and captures. But there are still Al Qaeda fighters and other Jihadists ready to respond to the US presence in Iraq anywhere in the world by threatening its interests and those of its allies. Security setup has never been so intense to guarantee the safety of key personalities, as the great number of casualties are ordinary people who happen to be in areas with minimum security apparatus.

The Iraq war has just put Iraq decades back in terms of infrastructure and human resources. Many installations were destroyed. The country can’t fully benefit from its oil revenues as production is low compared to the country’s giant reserves. Young Iraqis have poor educations while its well-educated people have fled the country.

This war can be worthwhile just for the American Administration which must have long term strategy in the region and Saddam was an obstacle to its implantation. His removal was a part of its political equation. But for the Iraqis, the War was an opportunity to have revenge on each other after the divide-and-rule policies of Saddam. The Sunnis and Shiites had the opportunity to be at each other’s throats inflicting heavy casualties on each other.

In the past five years, the world saw other international changes. There are currently the souring relations between the US and Russia. There is Iran’s nuclear programme. There were changes of leaders in important countries like Australia, France, Germany, UK and soon Russia. Currently there is the situation in Tibet which must have diverted the attention of the world from what’s going on in Iraq. Prior to this, violence has become almost no news for many as it has become commonplace.

On the whole, the current situation in Iraq will shape the history of this country. It will affect the current and the next generations who will keep the memory of lost loved ones due to terrorist attacks and “mistaken” attacks by the US army.

The Iraqis spent five years killing and mistrusting one another because of sectarianism. Others have become refugees in their own country or in bordering ones. It takes one man to have the lead to influence how a whole community should think and react. But in the current conditions of Iraq, thinking independently of the rest of other factions means the perpetuation of internal struggle that erupts in violence.

Occupation is now a fact. Violence is deadly fact. Iraqis of all sections should find a common ground to end violence through give-and take compromises. If they keep wrangling just about self-interests, Iraq will find it difficult to be stable again. The preoccupations of the Iraqis will be just how to live another day, disregarding the national potentials they should exploit for a better tomorrow.

Race and politics in the USA


US presidential hopeful Barack Obama has made a speech in which he states that US cannot ignore race.

Race is a fact in the USA. It is one of the countries that have a census of its population based on race and colour. There are countries that have no official statistics about its people according to their colour. There still expression used in the USA when it comes to race, like the first black Secretary State or the first black governor in such a state.

Barack Obama has drawn so much interest because of his colour. Fir the Republicans, there was not as much interest as in the Democrats campaign because the major candidates were all white. But Obama isn’t representing blacks. He should be seen purely as American. In his campaign, there aren’t just black people but also whites of great importance like senators and stars. His audience in his campaigns is made up of all races. It would sound queer if his audience was all black as if he was preparing for a civil war to avenge for black enslaved ancestors.

Obama has dreams for a change. But to be frank he is the embodiment of the America dream. Being the son of a Kenyan father who migrated to the USA, it didn’t take his father three or four generations to see his offspring reaching a prestigious position in the American society.
At the same time it is difficult to brainwash people who still have racial attitudes. Obama himself was racially abused by his white grandmother as he has admitted. Voters rejecting Obama because of his race is a really bad setback to the American ideal. Voters can be respected in their choice of candidates based on their messages and not their race or gender.

Whatever, the outcome in the primary, Obama will go down history as the first black who has shaken up racial attitudes in the USA as presidential candidate after the black theorists and activists like Martin Luther King.

Obama’s speech on race is a call for the Americans still holding negatively inherited racial attitudes to look inside and to find if it is still worth it to view their country racially. The American administrations (Republican and Democrat) have taken the lead by appointing black people in key posts, the most famous of whom are Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powel on merit. Now it’s up to the American people to choose who should lead them on merits and not on racial basis.

I had this response from George (USA) on BBC WHYS blog:

“The American administrations (Republican and Democrat) have taken the lead by appointing black people in key posts, the most famous of whom are Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powel on merit.”

You might make the argument Rice and Powel were the only public figures of the Bush Administration who were competent.
It is ironic they were placed in the positions for token race purposes.
If the whole Bush administration had been their quality the USA would be in far better shape today in every respect.
Competence over “elitism” is better government every time, regardless of race or other factors.

This is my response to him

I think that Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powel were put in a higher position as a reflection of the growing powers of blacks in the USA. No one can deny that black people are now in a far better position compared to the situation they were in , about which they were protesting during the marches in the 60s. Maybe secretaries Rice and Powel were appointed for the sake of racial balance in the USA. Obama hasn’t been appointed by anyone to be a presidential candidate. It was his credibility that made him elected as senator and to have great success in his presidential campaign so far. (Remember that Rev Jessie Jackson was “barred” in 1984 by the Democrats from standing as a presidential candidate for the sake of the party as his colour would be a hindrance to any of their chances at the presidential elections.

Obama is a barometer of the depth of racism in the USA. There are still those who look at the man because of his colour and not because of what he is. So far he is doing well, posing a threat to Hilary Clinton and even to the Republicans who may not be returned to power because of the low popularity of George Bush and the current state of the economy. There is no way to predict who’s going to be US next president as long as the Democrat candidate hasn’t been chosen yet and the presidential campaign hasn’t started in full swing yet.

Obama will be an inspiration for those who believe in his ideal. There are those who have a crush on him as there are those who are fearful that he can crush them because of the possibility of his having a great chance to be the first black US president.

Positive discrimination

Women still have a long way to go to achieve equality with men in key positions, such as government and managerial posts. In some societies, this can be due to mentalities which view women in a lesser degree citing examples that they can’t take risk or firm decisions. The other handicap facing them is the discrimination in education making it difficult for them to compete with men to get key jobs.

It is still news today when a female president is elected. In USA primary elections, the Democrats have raised a lot of interest because Hilary Clinton is the first American women to enter the presidential contest.

There are countries like Saudi Arabia where it is still hard to imagine a female minister as women there are still battling for rights taken for granted in other Muslim countries like driving, or travelling unaccompanied. In this country, a woman can’t set up a project without having a male tutor. Recently a Saudi businesswoman was arrested because of being in a café with one of her aids with whom she was discussing her financial affairs. In this country, it is likely that the percentage of company female directors will remain 0% for some time to come.

What can make women reach key positions at an equal rate with men is their ability to be assertive and to have the qualifications to assume their high responsibilities. As for men, they should come to terms with the fact that one’s worth isn’t through gender but through mental assets. Some societies have been revolutionised a great deal. Maybe one day we’ll hear of female army generals. Female heads of states and prime ministers will be commonplace in the majority of the parts of the world. Maybe in this case, the roles will be reversed and men will start asking for more rights as those they have inherited from their male ancestors have been eroded by the unstoppable aggressive advances of women in every field to the tops of all ladders in society.

Facebook trial

It seems that Fouad Mourtada was brought to trial because he broke the rules of Facebook, which must surely have been used as evidence in his trial. Facebook’s terms of use clearly states that for registration one shouldn’t “impersonate any person or entity, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent yourself, your age or your affiliation with any person or entity”. As an educated engineer, he should have taken care to read the terms of use carefully although the site is international and has no means for suing its users in case they break those rules. It seems, it is leaving this to the discretion of the judicial authorities and the parties concerned.

On the second level, he seems to have gone too far by choosing to impersonate a Royal Prince. In Morocco, there are still red lines concerning how openly members of the royal family should be talked about in public, let alone be used for impersonation.

Even in the free West, celebrities sue the media when portraying them in a damaging way, especially when there is a lack of proof about their reports. The latest was the case of Nichole Kidman who sued a photographer for chasing her to take photographs of her. In UK, popular papers are frequently at court for their “defamatory” publications. In Spain ,a Spanish newspaper was tried for making a sexually explicit cartoon of Spanish crown prince and his wife. The examples can’t be exhausted. The common point about this is that there was no imprisonment, just fines.

All these facts can be used as hard proof to indict Fouad. His case got worldwide publicity. In Morocco, it has been the talk of local and national media. There were supports for him and criticism of the “harsh” sentence. Maybe he was used as an example for those daring to cross the red lines that are explicitly stated in the Moroccan Constitution, which talks about the sacredness of the King and by this all his family members: family members shouldn’t be used lightly. In relation to this, many people were tried in Morocco for faking connections with the royal family members as a means to deceive those seeking jobs and intercession in courts and administrations. Recently a gang of this sort was dismantled in which workers in the royal palaces were involved.

For Fouad, his case can be seen by some as stifling free speech, by others as an ignorance of Moroccan law which still prohibits dealing with the royals lightly. Maybe he can get pardon as now his lawyers have appealed his three-year sentence. In the coming days, the end or the continuity of this “saga” will be known.