The militant Sunni group Isis has said it is establishing a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the territories it controls in Iraq and Syria.
This is not the first border we will break, we will break other borders," its spokesman warns. Standing on a border sign he threatens to "break the borders" of Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. [more inside]
Forty maps that explain the Middle East.
Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
In two weeks of blood and fire, one of the greatest intellectual
and cultural legacies
the world had ever seen came to an end. Crushed under the hooves of a mighty foe (in one case literally
), a dynasty
, an empire
, a city
, and a library
all disappeared. It was perhaps the swiftest and most complete collapse of a civilization ever, still felt to this day
. Now, how about for some context? [more inside]
UK's official use of torture policy.
For MI5 & MI6, special renditions: when to proceed knowing torture would be used during the interrogation. [more inside]
The Modern Art Iraq Archive
(MAIA) is a resource to trace, share, and enable community enrichment of the modern art heritage of Iraq. Explore the works by artist, browse through related textual materials, or add your own images or stories to the archive.
The Surge is working [tm] -- but for gay Iraqis who face a murderous new spate of violence
by theocrats and militiamen, notsomuch
. "More than 430 gay men have been murdered in Iraq since 2003... [but] many officials say they feel that in a country at war, there are more pressing concerns than gay rights."
A teenage girl was stoned to death for loving the wrong boy.
Du’a Khalil Aswad, a 17-year old Yezidi
girl who lived in Northern Iraq, fell in love with a Sunni Muslim boy, and possibly converted to Islam. For this she was stoned to death in a public "honour killing"
which was recorded on video and spread on the internet
(warning: graphic and disturbing. YouTube took theirs down
.) 23 Yezidis have been killed
in retaliation. [Via Disinformation.]
22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East
from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole
"Is the Administration’s new policy aiding our enemies in the war on terrorism?" New article by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker.
A disturbing chess set
uses the US war in the Middle East as inspiration for its pieces. This is only one modern take of many variations
of sets which play off of religious/cultural conflict.
The game itself generally has had a turbulent relationship with religion
. In the 13th Century, Pope Innocent III excused post-chess homicide as an involuntary act
. Some modern Muslims don't approve of chess
, despite Islam having probably introduced it to Europe
. Judaism also has a long, if disputed engagement
with the game, including enduring anti-semitic attacks about "Jewish" gameplay. The Taliban banned chess in Afghanistan
, and the game has returned after their fall
(though it now sounds like the Afghan women's team has been withdrawn
The new GOP buzzword: Fascism.
President Bush in recent days has recast the global war on terror into a "war against Islamic fascism
." Fascism, in fact, seems to be the new buzz word for Republicans in an election season dominated by an unpopular war in Iraq. Donald H. Rumsfeld in a speech to an American Legion convention in Salt Lake City said [of his critics, they are] trying to appease "a new type of fascism."
Before it was
"cut and run
", which was tested using a focus group. On the Senate floor, Sen Hagel earlier decried the tactic: "Focus Group-Tested Buzz Words…Like ‘Cut and Run’…Debase the Seriousness of War." What will they come up with next?
The practical future of the country formerly known as Iraq.
[NewsFilter, but a significant acknowledgement of something long-in-coming.]
Osama bin Laden, littérateur and new-media star
. A thought-provoking analysis of bin Laden's adept use of Koranic language and the Internet by Bruce B. Lawrence, an Islamic scholar at Duke who edited a new anthology of bin Laden's public statements called Messages to the World
. The Western media -- says the millionaire mass-murderer formerly trained as a useful ally by the CIA
via Pakistan's ISI
-- "implants fear and helplessness in the psyche of the people of Europe and the United States. It means that what the enemies of the United States cannot do, its media are doing!" Know thy enemy. [via Arts and Letters Daily.]
My cell was 8 ft by 6 ft, the same size as the detainees’ cages at Guantanamo. It was my turn to be humiliated every time I was taken to have a shower. Naked, I had to run my hands through my hair to show that I was not concealing a weapon in it. Then mouth open, tongue up, down, nothing inside. Right arm up, nothing in my armpit. Left arm up. Lift the right testicle, nothing hidden. Lift the left. Turn around, bend over, spread your buttocks, knowing a camera was displaying my naked image as male and female guards watched. It didn’t matter that I was an army captain, a graduate of West Point, the elite US military academy. It didn’t matter that my religious beliefs prohibited me from being fully naked in front of strangers. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t been charged with a crime. It didn’t matter that my wife and daughter had no idea where I was. And it certainly didn’t matter that I was a loyal American citizen and, above all, innocent... I knew why I had been arrested: it was because I am a Muslim.James Yee: An American in chains
It's OK to demonize the 'Other' if the Other is a Muslim.
Did anyone at Boeing really think this ad through?
Boeing/Bell Helicopters recently put out a print advert showing US soldiers rappelling from an Osprey helicopter onto the roof of a mosque.
Predictably, Muslim groups are not too happy with the ad. It ran twice in the National Journal and Armed Forces Journal. coincidentally, the United States is also trying to repair its image in the Muslim world... with a campaign led by Karen Hughes
In case of emergency, nuke Iran.
From the folks
who brought you Operation Iraqi Freedom
and the "last throes"
of the insurgency, the latest strategy for enhancing homeland security and US global standing is to launch a nuclear first-strike against Iran in the event of another 9/11-style attack -- whether Iran has ties to the attackers or not. As Juan Cole points out, turning a Shiite Muslim nation into the next Hiroshima could have disagreeable consequences
. (First reported by the American Conservative
, not your typical liberal rag, and via DailyKos
two teenagers. Their crime? Making love. Homosexuality is a crime under Sharia
law. Meanwhile, newly "liberated" Iraq moves closer to embedding traditional Islamic laws in its new constitution, reducing rights for women
. Will Iraqi gays
be the next to suffer the wrath of "Allah's law" after years of secular oppression under Saddam Hussein?
Bob Parson's may have (somewhat) changed his tune
when it comes to inhumane treatment of prisoners, but there are still plenty of ways to show
for the little terrorist resort
that could (toture people)
is perhaps the most interesting aspect of the latest less than great Hollywood historical epic
. A leader who seems to have viewed war as the means to a more perfect peace
, his namesake now belongs to the Iraqi provence containing Tikrit
, his birthplace and a city now all too familiar
to us. The modern context
of his story is important and obvious
After about 8.30am, we decided to try to make our way back to the shrine of Imam Al-Hussain (S) so that we could hear the Maqtal (story of his death) being read out. On our way there, as we were opposite the shrine of Al-Abbas (S) coming from the Baghdad Road, a loud explosion went off. It came from the direction of the Imam Al-Hussain (S) shrine. Suddenly the crowd of people started running and were coming towards us. We had no option but to turn back with them, or be trampled on. After about 2 minutes, another explosion went off, it seemed closer. We had stopped by now to see what was happening and after about 3 minutes, we started moving forward again. A few seconds later another bomb went off, this was the closest yet. We walked into one of the hotel lobbies, fearing anything could go off next to us. It was like an air raid, you thought bombs were being dropped. There was smoking rising above both shrines and there was a lot of shouting and screaming. People were running in all directions, desperately clinging on to each other. We stepped out to see what had happended but then another bomb went off. This was the biggest one and it shook us. Glass from the nearby buildings started raining down and we ran for cover. A lot of smoke and dust clouded over the area and we done a head count to make sure we were all together. Shiite Account of Visitation ('pilgrimage') to Holy Shrines of Iraq
is how Juan Cole
titled this first person account.
Beliefs about Saddam
-- some Iraqis find it difficult to believe that their former ruler can die. "How can we really be sure he's gone for good?"
asked Hassam Sahar, 45, an engineer. "We can't trust the U.S. and Britain. They left once before." Some believe that Saddam has links to the occult [audio file]
ranging from a djinn kept in a stone to magic practiced by his mother, which are based in folk islam
[google cache 1 2 3
] Western occultists, too, have something to say about Saddam.
It started in November of 2000,
with Iraq wanting to switch to the Euro for oil payments. Following recent events, Muslims at large are thinking about dropping US currency for the Euro
. With a large US presence now in the Middle East, this event may never occur.
is an provocative proponent of the American Empire
theory, indeed. Here are excerpts from his Blow Back: The Cost And Consequences of American Empire
I heard Johnson interviewed on Episode II, War And Conflict In The Post-Cold War, Post-9/11 Era
of The Whole Wide World
The Cold War and its central conflict - the physical and ideological battles between the United States, the Soviet Union and their proxy states - imposed a certain logic and consistency on the world. Take that away and add the bloody wars in the Balkans, Africa and the Middle East in the ‘90s as well as the terror attacks and warnings of more recent times and you get a very confused picture of a world at war. Is this breaking storm in Iraq about oil, democracy, freedom, empire, culture, water, diamonds, modernizing Islam or nation building in the Middle East? Some, one or all of these things?
It was an excellent program and well worth your listen, either by RA now or mp3 later. (From listening to the radio)
"God's boys on both sides of the Atlantic"
It began back in February
. Now, 6 letters, 350+ intellectuals
later, the great debate rages on, though apparently and regrettably now censored in Saudi Arabia
Elephant in the living room: A radical Islamic Nuclear Pakistan
(NYT reg. : name-metafilter password-metafilter) "Hard-line Islamic parties did unexpectedly well in Pakistan's election last week, and Pervez Musharraf's hold on power may be slipping. Do I need to point out that Pakistan is a lot bigger than Iraq, and already has nuclear weapons?...These guys [Bush Adm]want to fight a conventional war; since Al Qaeda won't oblige, they'll attack someone else who will [Iraq]. And watching from the alley, the terrorists are pleased. " -Paul Krugman, once again forced to state the obvious; the US is, effectively, helping with Al Qaeda's goal of radicalizing Islamic populations. In parts of Pakistan, they call Musharaff "Busharaff", and Nick Kristoff notes
"Even in Kuwait, where Yankees have the best possible claim on Arab gratitude, a significant minority of men and women regard us as worms" and that "The most common name given to Pakistani boys born after 9/11 in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province reportedly was Osama." What does this have to do with a war in Iraq? Well.........
"Who you gonna believe — me or your own eyes?"
NYT's. Safire projects some troubling future.
Salman Rushdie weighs in. (NYT)
An Iraqi writer quotes an earlier Iraqi satirist: "The disease that is in us, is from us." A British Muslim writes, "Islam has become its own enemy." A Lebanese friend, returning from Beirut, tells me that in the aftermath of the attacks on Sept. 11, public criticism of Islamism has become much more outspoken. Many commentators have spoken of the need for a Reformation in the Muslim world.
A Terrorist Profile Emerges That Confounds the Experts.
The prototype for Muslim suicide bombers has been young, single, caught up in religious fervor and, often, desperate. They are usually promised financial security for their parents and told that they will be greeted by 70 black-eyed virgins in heaven. Though suicide is prohibited by Islamic law, some leaders have said there is an exception for soldiers in what they see as a holy war.