From his time in Cairo, Lawrence was aware of the extravagant promises the British government had made to Hussein in order to raise the Arab Revolt: full independence for virtually the entire Arab world..............His first act of sedition — and by most any standards, a treasonous one — was to inform Faisal of the existence of Sykes-Picot.....The True Story of Lawrence of Arabia
. Previously and Previously
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]
On Tuesday, a group of Islamic militants that were thrown out of al-Qaeda for being too violent took over Iraq's second largest city.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (abbreviated as ISIS) kicked the Iraqi Army out of Mosul, a wealthy city in northwestern Iraq. Today, ISIS secured another northern city, Tikrit. It currently controls an area "the size of Belgium," according to Jason Lyall, a Yale University political scientist who studies insurgencies. [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]
Since the end of March, the Wall Street Journal's
new Middle East Real Time
blog has written about Turkey's "unstoppable" export boom in soap operas
, Saudi Arabia's "life after jihad" rehab program
, the persistence of obviously fraudulent bomb detectors across Iraq
, YouTube branding discussions among Syrian rebel factions
, a rising media star Sunni cleric in Lebanon
, a post-revolutionary Cairo arts festival
, and attempts to overcome conservative objections and change the Saudi Thursday-Friday weekend to match the rest of the business world
. Previous non-paywalled WSJ
Real Time blogs include Korea
, Emerging Europe
I feel creatively emboldened to personally say something on the subjects that I am documenting. In terms of how it is produced, intellectually I am more excited than I have been in years. I am envisioning so many more possibilities for the work ... I feel for first time empowered on my own terms. We are calling our own shots and have created somewhat of our own institution.
with the six-woman Middle Eastern documentary photography collective Rawiya
, whose name means "female narrator" in Arabic. [more inside]
“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction,” Cheney said. “There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.” Zinni, sitting right next to Cheney’s lectern, says he “literally bolted” when he heard the vice president’s comments. “In doing work with the CIA on Iraq WMD [weapons of mass destruction], through all the briefings I heard at Langley, I never saw one piece of credible evidence that there was an ongoing program.”
Rachel Maddow hosts Hubris: The Selling of the Iraq War
, a documentary special, based on the eponymous book by Michael Isikoff and David Corn
, that will air Monday, February 18 on MSNBC at 9 p.m.
Tomorrow marks the official end
of the Iraq war. The Obama administration describes it as a 'promise kept'
. The war resulted in a great many casualties
. Although the final troop movement out of the country is not scheduled to begin for a few days, history will record
December 15 as the end of the war, as the flag of the American military mission in Bagdhad is lowered and returned to the US. Scholars at Brown University estimate
the total cost of the war at 265,000 dead and $3-4 trillion dollars. The main contenders for the Republican party's 2012 nomination both expressed approval
, 339 times.
Women Explorers and Travellers of Asia and the Middle East - In an age where women struggled for basic human rights, these individuals were literal trailblazers. Leaving their homelands for varying motivations (but often due to dissatisfaction with their social lot in life), they devoted their lives to "explore these antique lands
before they are irretrievably caught up in the cacaphonic whirl of the modern world." [more inside]
American-Dutch photographer Peter van Agtmael
and English photographer Olivia Arthur
are the two newest nominees recently welcomed into Magnum Photos
. Agtmael's images of Afghanistan and Iraq are very powerful - he discusses his work in Conscientious
. Arthur's recent work has focused on women's experiences in what she calls the Middle Distance
. [more inside]
The Man Between War and Peace.
"As head of U. S. Central Command, Admiral William 'Fox' Fallon is in charge of American military strategy for the most troubled parts of the world. Now, as the White House has been escalating the war of words with Iran, and seeming ever more determined to strike militarily before the end of this presidency, the admiral has urged restraint and diplomacy. Who will prevail, the president or the admiral?" [Via Think Progress.]
In the U.S., motorists do not pay their way.
The US government spends more on highways and other auto-related expenses than it receives from auto-related taxes, unlike almost every country in Europe. In a recent report [pdf], Mark Delucchi
calculates automobile-related costs and revenues in three different ways and concludes the subsidy is around 20-70 cents per gallon or $24-105 billion in 2002. But what are automobile-related costs, you ask? [more inside]
Lessons from Past Western Incursions in the Middle East.
A speech by Juan Cole
at the New America Foundation
in which he discusses his new book, Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East
, and the relevance and lessons of Napoleon's expedition in Egypt to the current American occupation of Iraq. A shorter version, covering many of the same points, is in this article: Pitching the Imperial Republic
Al Hurra television, the U.S. government's $63 million-a-year effort at public diplomacy broadcasting in the Middle East, is run by executives and officials who cannot speak Arabic, according to a senior official who oversees the program.
That might explain why critics say the service has recently been caught broadcasting terrorist messages, ...
from their About US page: Alhurra is operated by non-profit corporation “The Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc.” (MBN). MBN is financed by the American people through the U.S Congress.
US Govt. Accountability Office abstract about other MBN problems here.
This opinion piece
in Prospect magazine argues that perhaps the importance of the problems in the Middle East are overblown. Interesting read.
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.
Visual insight and more from the photographer Simon Norfolk.
The practical future of the country formerly known as Iraq.
[NewsFilter, but a significant acknowledgement of something long-in-coming.]
It's not the war in Iraq that's revolutionizing the Middle East -- it's the media.
"Surprisingly, it may be this new public sphere, rather than the war in Iraq or the Bush's administration's democracy rhetoric, that does the most to promote liberalization and reform in the Arab world. " Marc Lynch, an associate professor of political science at Williams College and the (until recently) anonymous writer behind the popular blog Abu Aardvark
, talked to Mother Jones about how the new Arab public is transforming the Middle East.
Frontline: Rumsfeld's War
, a PBS/Washington Post joint documentary that aired earlier this week is now online
. It is the inside story of Rumsfeld's battle to assert civil control over the military.
Iraqi Indicted for Proposal to Open Talks With Israel
Bringing democracy to the Middle East--let freedom ring. "A court of Iraq's interim government has brought criminal charges against a prominent politician for attending an antiterrorism conference in Israel and publicly suggesting that Iraq should open talks with Israel.
The indictment and arrest warrant, based on a 1969 law promulgated by the Baath Party that bars Iraqis from having contacts with enemy states, are likely to anger the United States government, which has sponsored Iraq's new courts and is a close ally of Israel." So it goes...
Sleeping with the president is not a good idea.
Bush had no answers to big questions, such as 'what happens on the morning after.' The Daily Telegraph reports that documents show Prime Minister Tony Blair signed up to the U.S. policy of regime change in March 2002, a year before the conflict started... after he was warned that postwar stability would be difficult and the U.S. had few answers. Oh, no problem. This week, Bush said he is 'pleased with the progress' in Iraq.'
Terrorist playground: How America created a terrorist haven in Iraq
Jessica Stern, a lecturer at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and author of "Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill"
argues, in a New York Times op ed piece, that U.S. negligence has allowed Iraq to metastasize into a terrorist training camp to which Islamic militants from all over the Middle East are now flocking for a chance to attack American troops, and in which the Iraq/Al-Qaeda links alleged by the Bush Administration are becoming a reality. Listen to Jessica Stern on "On Point"
tonight (a WBUR production and will be archived if you miss it).
$20,000 bonus to official who agreed on nuke claim A former Energy Department intelligence chief who agreed with the White House claim that Iraq had reconstituted its defunct nuclear-arms program was awarded a total of $20,500 in bonuses during the build-up to the war, WorldNetDaily has learned...His officers argued at a pre-briefing at Energy headquarters that there was no hard evidence to support the alarming Iraq nuclear charge, and asked to join State Department's dissenting opinion, Energy officials say. Rider ordered them to "shut up and sit down," according to sources familiar with the meeting.
Iraq in a Nutshell
by O'Reilly Books (not really)
A WARMONGER EXPLAINS WAR TO A PEACENIK
A light hearted look at the oft repeated justifications for war in Iraq and their counter arguments.
Exclusive Middle East sources have tracked down top Iraqi leadership’s bolt-hole:
Now begin to badmouth me. Debka has a going rate that is some 2/3s on target and that makes this piece (headlines) worth considering. Too, they noted some time ago that WMD shipped to Syria. Recall in Gulf war I that they shipped planes to Iran for safe keeping and never got them back. Thus far, we have not found WMD and Iraq has not used any. Ergo....
Reactions from the Arab world
Meanwhile Israel gets more financial aid
from the US further angering Muslims and contributing to Zionist/US conspiracy theories. Sadly, Bush seems to have found how to pay for this war by not supporting the troops.
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)
From the faculty at Salahaddin University in Kurdistan: "We as academic staff for the region's biggest Universities attended by different nations including Kurds, Turkman, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Arabs condemn this terrible threat towards our achievements and legitimate rights and express our complete refusal to any Turkish military intervention into the region's territory and affairs."
Media covers massive D.C. (and world) Anti-War protests, discounts numbers - Backflash: NPR and the NYT later issued apologies for their drastic undercounting of the Oct. 26 D.C. Anti-War protest - later admitted to be between 100,000 and 200,000 in size "...It was not as large as the organizers of the protest had predicted. They had said there would be 100,000 people here. I'd say there are fewer than 10,000"(NPR's Nancy Marshall) Last saturday's D.C. AntiWar protest received far more media coverage but a similar discounting of the numbers. IndyMedia (above link) provided numbers more in line with D.C. Police statements. Many media outlets ran the same AP news feed. [NYT, NPR , CNN, ABC, AP] and claimed..."Thousands" or "tens of thousands" of protesters. But in the words of those who witnessed it (as I did - 2.5 times size of Oct. 26 protest, from what I saw): 'D.C. police chief Charles Ramsey said, "It's one of the biggest ones we've had, certainly in recent times." U.S. Capitol Police chief Terrance Gainer said, "I know everyone is skittish about saying a number, but this was big. An impressive number." A C-SPAN cameraman I spoke to spent the entire protest on the roof of a cargo truck just to the side of the stage. He told me that he had covered dozens of protests in his time, and that the crowd on Saturday was the biggest he had ever seen.' (story) and organizers claimed 500,000 marched in DC meanwhile, a new poll shows support for a war on Iraq is slipping in the US and also dropping at the UN
Have you grown weary of the tiny, grayscale maps of Iraq and the Middle East accompanying most newspaper stories on the region? TomPaine.com
went in search of better geographic tools, and found them at the University of Texas' Online Library, with links to dozens of maps
—political, topographical, historical—of a region many Americans have never scrutinized geographically. More inside...
The Push For War (by Anatol Lieven).
"The most surprising thing about the Bush Administration's plan to invade Iraq is not that it is destructive of international order; or wicked, when we consider the role the US (and Britain) have played, and continue to play, in the Middle East; or opposed by the great majority of the international community; or seemingly contrary to some of the basic needs of the war against terrorism. It is all of these things, but they are of no great concern to the hardline nationalists in the Administration....The most surprising thing about the push for war is that it is so profoundly reckless....What we see now is the tragedy of a great country, with noble impulses, successful institutions, magnificent historical achievements and immense energies, which has become a menace to itself and to mankind."
Excecutive summary: Lord Acton
foretold all fruit of "military superiority".
An Open Letter to Congress
from the editors of The Nation. All the makings of a final plea.
Chinese checkmate ?
"Those who love to quote Sun Tzu might consider his nationality', says James Webb, as he offers still more cogent reasons why a 30 year "MacArthurian regency in Baghdad" is probably not in America's national interest. Why are the military men the ones who have to keep pointing out the unwisdom of an invasion of Iraq? Quoth Secretary Webb:
"The issue before us is not simply whether the United States should end the regime of Saddam Hussein, but whether we as a nation are prepared to physically occupy territory in the Middle East for the next 30 to 50 years."
America Can Persuade Israel to Make a Just Peace
An op-ed piece by former president Jimmy Carter that is going to get a lot of play in the media. Unfortunately, Mr. Carter seems to suggest a rather easy solution: give back the Palestinian lands and have the Palestinians recognize Israel's right to exist. Put the pressure on Israel by withhold financial aid till they do as we bid.
Problem: Palestinians being subsidized by Iraq, Iran, EU and Syria. What about pressure on them? And: Palelstinian issues still in need of resolving: capital and Right of Return....with this left out, we are still not going to get peace. Does Carter simplify or is he on target? reg reqd.
Middle East war predictions
"..what we are witnessing looks like joint preparations by the Palestinian Authority, Syria, its Lebanese client, Iraq, and Iran, for war on a regional scale, against both Israel and U.S. interests. I fear we may face a major, sudden, external assault on Israel, meant to precede U.S. action against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq, and indeed prevent the U.S. from going there by enmiring it in the defence of Israel. [From The Ottowa Citizen, lead link in today's Wall Street Journal Best of the Web]
Saddam stokes war with suicide bomber cash.
"The hall was packed and the intake of breath was audible as a special announcement was made to the war widows of the West Bank - Saddam Hussein would pay $US25,000 ($47,000) to the family of each suicide bomber as an enticement for others to volunteer for martyrdom in the name of the Palestinian people."
Dead Men Walking
Thomas Lipscome urges us to think about 4th generation warfare, the nature of the battle, and the potential dangers well beyond the idea of nations such as Afghanistan and Iraq. From the article: "Terrorists become extraordinarily resourceful playing weak hands against the strong and rich. So do revolutionaries. And it is time to realize bin Laden is both"
This article is short yet wide-ranging, neatly bringing together the Balkans, Clinton, the Media, and 4G warfare.
via follow me here