Who throws a shoe? Good ole shoe, that’s who.


I won’t point to all the shoe stories out there, which mostly point out the obvious: “shoe incident highlights cataclysmic perception of Bush administration,” which doesn’t even begin to do justice to this strange little grinning man who decided he would wreak havoc thousands miles away from where he lives and whose country (or at least its leaders) still believe they have a right to do just that. Yankee, will you just go home?

Personally, as a funny aside on shoegate, I much prefer this clip from the great, prophetic movie Wag The Dog – which let’s remember preceded much of the Clinton and Bush era warmongering.

Watch the rest here.

Iraqi refugees in Egypt fly back on Maliki’s plane

Iraqi refugees in Egypt get a free flight to a very uncertain future:

BAGHDAD (AP) _ Several hundred Iraqi refugees flew home from Egypt on Monday on the Iraqi prime minister’s plane, the first government-organized flight aimed at accelerating the return of Iraqis now that violence has waned.

Many of those returning on the free flight, however, said they had come back only because they were broke after years of living outside Iraq and still feared the dangers in their homeland.

“If I had more money, I would have stayed and never gone back,” Abu Hussein, a 32-year-old Shiite merchant, said waiting to board at Cairo’s airport. “We hear from other returnees that they had regret going back because there is still bombing, kidnapping and killing.”

The International Organization of Migration says some 13,000 Iraqis have returned from nations in the region — a tiny proportion of the estimated 2.5 million who fled Iraq’s turmoil after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Nearly 3 million more Iraqis have been displaced inside the country, the Switzerland-based humanitarian group says.

[From Iraqi prime minister gives refugees free flight home from Egypt, seeking to speed up return — Newsday.com]

Sick on Clinton’s Arab strategy

Gary Sick, a Columbia University professor and eminent scholar of the Persian Gulf, has written a short essay on Hillary Clinton’s recent threat to “obliterate Iran” should it attack Israel for the excellent Gulf 2000 listserv he maintains. Notwithstanding the chiefly domestic US political reasons that led Clinton to engage in rather vulgar sable-rattling, Sick analyzes Clinton’s announced strategy of building an Arab security structure designed to isolate Iran, seeing in it both a continuation of Bush administration policies (they just call it the “Sunni-Shia divide”) and a revival of the Clinton administration’s “dual containment” policy towards Iran and Iraq in the 1990s, which enrolled the aid of Arab countries.

This isn’t too surprising, since the architect of dual containment was Martin Indyk, who also heads Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy team and is a contender for Secretary of State in the (now hopefully) unlikely event of her election. Sick’s essay, republished below, highlights something that has become increasingly clear to me in recent years: the continuation, despite superficial differences, between certain Clinton policies and those of the Bush White House when it comes to Middle East policy. It’s not only that the Clintons had their own group of people who favored an invasion of Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein in the late 1990s, but also an attitude of refusing negotiations with Iran (or other designated enemies) and a strategic approach to the region that tends to prioritize not only access and control of oil resources, a perennial feature of US policy, but also puts Israel first in strategic considerations. Considering Indyk’s own AIPAC background this is not surprising, but these policies have been extremely damaging to US interests and, more importantly, the people of the region (notably the Iraqis who suffered tremendously under the Clinton-backed sanctions regime).

This is not to say that Clinton and Bush are the same — over domestic issues and many international ones Hillary Clinton is light years ahead of GW Bush (although arguably not GHW Bush). But in their strategic approach to the Middle East, it’s becoming clearer to me that we are seeing basically the same policies expressed without the bravado of the Bushies. A bad policy, even if implemented with caution, is still a bad policy. Sick, a Clinton supporter, provides an excellent analysis of why one should choose Obama as the better Democratic alternative on foreign policy. Read it all.

Hillary Clinton’s warning that the United States could “obliterate” Iran if that country should “foolishly consider” launching an attack on Israel is, of course, pandering to a broad American constituency that wants to hear tough rhetoric about Iran. It is also intended to appeal to a constituency that needs constant reassurance that America’s relationship with Israel is secure. And, by addressing a strategic hypothetical that would by any measure be many years in the future (“in the next ten years” in her words), it seems intended to convince doubters that a woman is tough enough – perhaps more than tough enough – to be commander in chief.

Continue reading Sick on Clinton’s Arab strategy

Leaked doc shows open-ended US stay in Iraq

No clear end to occupation:

A confidential draft agreement covering the future of US forces in Iraq, passed to the Guardian, shows that provision is being made for an open-ended military presence in the country.

The draft strategic framework agreement between the US and Iraqi governments, dated March 7 and marked “secret” and “sensitive”, is intended to replace the existing UN mandate and authorises the US to “conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security” without time limit.

The authorisation is described as “temporary” and the agreement says the US “does not desire permanent bases or a permanent military presence in Iraq”. But the absence of a time limit or restrictions on the US and other coalition forces – including the British – in the country means it is likely to be strongly opposed in Iraq and the US.

Iraqi critics point out that the agreement contains no limits on numbers of US forces, the weapons they are able to deploy, their legal status or powers over Iraqi citizens, going far beyond long-term US security agreements with other countries. The agreement is intended to govern the status of the US military and other members of the multinational force.

[From Secret US plan for military future in Iraq | World news | The Guardian]

A Shiite Tikriti

Hannah has a great post about a very coquette (and courageous) Shia Tikriti woman:

How on earth, I asked her, does a Shiite Tikriti living under control of the Mahdi Army get away with dressing as she does when these days even Christian women have begun to cover their hair to deflect attention?

K replied that she is simply tired of the fundamentalists who now rule Iraq, both in the government and in the streets, both Shiite and Sunni. The Mahdi Army doesn’t mind if she drives, K said, but she has been warned by “concerned friends” about her exposed hair. Before the sectarian cleansing of her neighborhood, it was actually Sunni militants who were worse in their targeting of women, K said.

The threats got so numerous that one day she stopped caring. She went on about her daily routine, driving and dressing and praying as she wished, crediting only God with allowing her to survive each day.

“Remember when Zarqawi wrote that if you see a woman driving, kill her? Well, they might kill two or three to teach a lesson, but they can’t kill all the women,” K said casually, popping a pistachio candy in her mouth. She began to laugh triumphantly.

“And now what?” she asked. “Zarqawi is dead and I’m alive. I’m still here.”

Iraqi Voices in Cairo

Iraqi Voices in Cairo is a collection of accounts of Iraq refugees’ lives in Egypt, where over 150,000 reside with few opportunities to remake their lives:

Approximately 150,000 refugees from Iraq are trapped in Cairo, Egypt, with little hope of integration and no home to return to. We are an association of reporters and researchers working together with the Iraqi community of Cairo to bring world attention to this unaddressed humanitarian crisis.

Check it out.