Saturday, March 03, 2007


Letter to the UNESCO Regarding al-Aqsa Excavations

The UNESCO has decided to send a technical mission to the Old City of Jerusalem, inscribed on UNESCO's Wolrd Heritage List and on the World Heritage in Danger List, to a carry out a technical assessment of the works on the access to the Sacred Sanctuary (Al-Haram al-Sharif)...

Several fellow bloggers have posted this on their blogs, a plan to start a campaign of sending letters TODAY (the 3rd of March) to the UNESCO and ask them to assign a permanent chamber in the Old City to monitor the excavations and stop any attempts to damage the foundations of the Aqsa Mosque as an important part of world's heritage.

Following extensive consultations with all the parties concerned, the Director-General requested the mission to leave as soon as possible, probably early next week. It will be led by the Director of UNESCO's World Heritage Centre, Francesco Bandarin, and include the Director-General of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM), Mounir Bouchenaki; the President of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), Michael Petzel; and Véronique Dauge of the World Heritage Centre...

Below is a template of a letter that I strongly encourage You (You, reading this right now) to send on your behalf to the Director-General of UNESCO Mr Koichiro Matsuura (geneva (at) unesco (dot) org ), and Director of UNESCO office in Ramallah, Palestine - Mr. Bechir Lamine (b(dot)lamine (at) unesco (dot) org)).

Update: Mr. Bechir Lamine of the UNESCO office in Ramallah is currently on vacation, please contact Ms. Hala Tannous (h (dot) tannous (at) unesco (dot) org)

Dear Sir,

We acknowledge and appreciate your great efforts to protect and save the priceless human heritage all over the world. Recently, we read that a group of professional investigators has been sent by the Unesco to Jerusalem to investigate the situation of Israeli excavations at the area of the sacred sanctuary of Al Masjed Al Aqsa, which we have a big concern that this may affect the foundations and lead to buildings collapse for one of the most important historic elements of this area and all over the world.

We do support your efforts and your investigation group and looking for assigning a permanent chamber near this area to monitor, announce and stop any trial to destroy our heritage either for political or religion reasons.

Thank you and best regards,


Sunday, February 25, 2007


War or Peace ?

Monday, February 19th, 2007

Peace be upon you…
The news from Iraq are still annoying and uncomforting; the explosions didn't stop. It is true that they became less frequent than their numbers of some weeks ago, and it is true that the death bands reduced their presence, but people there are still controlled by fear, thinking that this is a temporary situation, due to the implementation of the new security plan, because the occupation forces, the police and Iraqi army are besieging areas, and because they raided the headquarters of the suspected militias, those involved in acts of sectarian violence, where they found weapons and explosives.
Some people say that this plan was late coming; for these criminal militias grew and spread, acquiring power on the streets more potent that the power of the government and the occupation forces. Those people are still fearful that these militias are hiding temporarily now, that they will eventually come back to slay the Iraqi people, Sunnies and Shia'ats, to carry out a plan to split Iraq, a plan over which most Iraqis are furious, Iraqis who would not accept the idea of dividing the country into regions or sectarian federalisms.
Others see that things are moving in a positive direction towards putting an end to violence and controlling matters. And these are steps towards stability in Iraq.
I personally hope that the second prospect is the correct one, but I do not like being naïve, for problems are not solved by mere wishes, while reality says something else….
The solution in Iraq should be political before being a military one. Meaning- all the national forces existing in the field should join in a national unity government. We believe that this would be the first step in the right direction, for then, everybody will work to calm things down, to lower the violence rate and reconstruct the country, and all shall benefit.
But if a portion of Iraqis were marginalized, then this would be a stupid negative act, for that marginalized portion will keep on stirring problems, hampering the government's work and embittering its life.
And I am talking about national Iraqi forces, not about terrorists, Al-Qaida'a, or some such silly talk, for those aren't among the national Iraqi forces.
Justice is needed, and so is balance, for these two are the way to pull the country out of its dilemma. As for blood shedding, violence and military attacks; all those are fruitless methods to achieve stability in the country.
I do not work in politics, but the trials of life taught me how one can behave in times of crises. And the only sensible solution to create a safe and stable Iraq is by the participation of the Iraqi national intellects in manufacturing the decisions concerning Iraq's future. I mean, for four years now, the Bush administration has been supporting and encouraging only the faction that answers its demands, only the faction that obeys its orders. The faction that passes a request to the United Nations asking to renew the remaining of the occupation forces, without consulting the Iraqi people. The faction that supports the view of the new deformed constitution, the idea of sectarianism, of regions, and the dividing of Iraq. The faction that supports passing the Iraqi Oil Exploitation Law, for tens of coming years, with unjust conditions against the Iraqi wealth, and against the interests of the Iraqi people.
The country is destroyed, in need of billions of dollars to repair the infrastructure, and to create jobs for Iraqis, so they could live a good life. We do not want, for a country like Iraq, to be attached to the International Bank, where it's economy would be depleted by silly conditions that would hurt people. We do not want the rich to become richer and the poor to become poorer, as we have seen in a lot of countries around the world, due to the Privatization policies, the Free Market economy, and other new globalization laws that would inflict injustice and poverty upon most of the people, to make a limited number of individuals or companies rich.
These are the principles that the Bush administration wants to implement in the future- Iraq. And a lot of the national Iraqi intellectuals refuse them, and these people were marginalized and pushed away from decision making in Iraq, since the invasion till now.
I think the story of violence and civil war serves the Bush administration interests, for it distracts the people everywhere away from what is truly taking place; the-arrangements-under-the-table, to control the Iraqi economy and future.
These laws are being fixed and passed in the throng of this chaos, shouting, violence, and bloodshed. And when the storm calms down, we will go back to discover we are faced with a fait we cannot easily change; the constitution, the federalism and region's law, the Oil Exploitation Law, production association, and the existence of foreign military bases and an American embassy that is the largest in the world; all these are achievements that are being consolidated in Iraq, to become accomplished facts that can't be changed.
Now, while the Iraqis are drowning in seas of chaos, killings and displacement, they do not know what is happening around them, what Bush and his administration are planning for their future.
Iraq will not be calm if the occupiers kept killing, robbing and tricking. A withdrawal plan must be scheduled. Iraq must be left into the hands of Iraqi nationals who want their people's interests before all else.
This is the true story in Iraq.
As for the stories of Bush about Al-Qaida'a formation; that he is there to eliminate them, well- those went in there with him, to effectuate his play, called- war against terrorism.
The truth is; it is a war to control Iraq and its wealth, as was the case for all oil countries in the region. Is there an oil country in the Middle East, which doesn't have American military bases?

Well, I always wonder: they occupied the oil sources in many Arab countries, silently and without bloodshed. Why is this happening in Iraq?
And I think the answer is: because the Iraqis have comprehension, culture and civilization . They refuse to be controlled by the occupier or the foreigner. They love independence, self-esteem, and courage. So, how can all this be destroyed in them, how to vanquish them, and make them accept the presence of the occupier?
So; on to break their noses, their dignity, and their unity, to spread death bands and mercenary sectarian militias, to kill the Iraqis, tear them to shreds, and spread the myth of civil war among them.

Well then, did this plan work?
Apparently, to an extent; yes, it did.
For the whole world was tricked with these false stories about sectarian fighting, about the necessity for the occupying forces to remain in order to protect the civilians from insurgents and Al-Qaida'a.
While in fact, the plan failed.
For the Iraqis are still holding on to their unity; they reject the occupier, they reject sectarianism and federalism, they reject the remaining of the occupation forces, they reject the exploitation of their oil by foreign monopolizing companies, who suck their blood, and drown them in hunger and ignorance.
This is the truth of what struggles are taking place in Iraq after the occupation.
Days will go on, and all shall be cleared.
********************** *
Two weeks ago, I attended a conference in Malaysia about war crimes, held by a non-governmental organization, headed by the former Malaysian Prim Minister, Mahateer Muhammad.
This was the first time I meet him or listen to him talk.
I respected him very much…
He said in his meeting with the delegations that nations should understand that the decision of war isn't one of the options. Meaning- when a problem would arise between two countries, war shouldn't be placed as one of the solutions, but problems must always be solved in peaceful ways. And nations should also elect peace-loving heads of states, they should sign a pledge not to wage war as long as they were in power.
I liked the idea. All the people on earth are peace-loving, even the American people, but the American government is greedy and aggressive, fooling their people, presenting forged justifications in order to wage wars, or to continue financing those wars.

At the end of the conference, he said a sentence that I liked very much. He said: In this world, there are two great powers; one- the power of armies, the other- the power of the public opinion. We, as peace-loving people, should work together to support the second power, the power of public opinion.
This power can topple governments, like they did lately and changed the governments of Italy and Spain, and like they changed the majority of congress in America from republicans to democrats. All these governments supported the war on Iraq, but they fell because of the people of these countries.

By God, his words gave me a great optimism.
We are certainly passing now through a sad phase. People around the world are walking in demonstrations against the war, refusing violence and bloodshed, rejecting the civilian victims, denouncing the destruction of the lives of peaceful families, how their lives turned into a fearful nightmare, full of kidnapping, killings, and explosions. Like what is happening to the Iraqi people since four years. Some were killed, kidnapped, or run away from their country, families scattered or lost some members, fled their homes to live in tents or skeletons of buildings, drinking unfiltered water, yearning for a blanket or a heater in this cold weather, or even longing for a kilo of flour to bake some bread for the children.
And still, there are some fools in the governments who would say that this war deserves the sacrifices, that the important thing is that we toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Well then, ask yourselves; what is the alternative you presented to the miserable Iraqis? You destroyed their houses and their economy, you messed up their lives, killed their men, women and children?
Could there be more foolishness or stupidity than this?
I remembered my father, God bless his soul, who always used to tell us a story that looks like what the American administration has done in Iraq: there was a man who had a bear, the bear loved his master, and one day a fly landed on the man's nose, and the bear ran to drive away the fly, so he carried a big stone and threw it on the man's nose, smashing his face and nose.
The man said to the bear: may God curse you, and curse whoever takes you as a friend, for nothing good comes out of a foolish, stupid friend.
Ha,ha,ha. I always used to laugh when I listen to my father tell the story…
Isn't that what happened to the Iraqis when the American administration came and invaded Iraq, under the pretext of rescuing us from the regime of Saddam Hussein, the dictator?
In many cases I am asked; did some relative or a friend of mine die in this war?
And I usually go into deep thinking to remember the names and the faces that we lost.
Today I want to remember some of these names and faces, and how we lost them during this silly war, and the illegitimate occupation of our country…
The first one we lost was a doctor, our family doctor, one of the best doctors in Iraq, head of the Doctors' Union, Dean of the University of Baghdad. I don't care if he was a Ba'athie or not, for these are silly, empty words.
The man was a genius, peaceful, and friendly to everyone.
An armed gang entered his clinic, and shot him in front of his patients, his secretary, and his wife, the pediatrician, who shares his clinic.
That was the first catastrophe, then, pieces kept falling, like the domino effect…
My friend, the pharmacist; I saw her wearing black in mourning for her young brother, who was killed in a trapped car in the street.
My uncle's wife was hanging the laundry in the garden, when a shrapnel of an American missile landed on Al-Qadisiyah District in Baghdad, killing her immediately.
My brother's brother in law, (the husband of his wife's sister) was shot dead in his shop without a reason, or perhaps for sectarian reasons, and that was a new trend, which came to us after the occupation.
A pharmacist friend of mine, who has three children; someone entered her pharmacy in Al-Ghazaliya and shot her. She remained for weeks in hospital, then died. I couldn't believe; she was so merry, so active and life-loving.
Another pharmacist, our neighbor in the Doctor's Quarters in Al-Ameriyah; one day I saw a black banner on her pharmacy, and I learned that an armed gang attacked her and her daughter in the pharmacy, killed her and wounded her daughter, intending to rob them.
Our neighbor the car dealer; they killed him in Al-Ameriyah Street and stole his car.
The driver who used to take my son Raed to the south of Iraq, when he used to work with "Civic" organization collecting statistics for the Iraqi wounded and dead in Iraq, the driver didn't come on that next week, for he was killed and his car stolen.
Among the commercial department stores on the 14th of Ramadan St.; the owner of "the Master of Prices" department store was killed. It was the most famous store on the street; he used to offer beautiful Chinese wares, clothes, objets d'art, carpets, and electrical equipments. He was killed with his son in front of the store, we don’t know why.
The owner of a toy shop in Al-Mansoor was killed with his sons, I don’t know why.
The staff working in the bakery shop in front of us, an armed gang killed them inside the shop, and ran away.
The owner of a furnishings store in front of us was killed, when a trapped car exploded in front of the store, destroying it.
The wife of our friend, a doctor, was out shopping when she was shot, and her car stolen.
An engineer we know, who works in building contracts, was killed by random shootings on the road to the airport, fired by some occupation soldiers terrified from their own shadows.
The relative of my sister's driver was killed by a stray bullet, entering his head while sitting on a chair at the front gate of his house.
University professors and doctors we know- everyday you hear a new story:
- Do you know Dr. "…."?
- Yes, what about him?
- He was killed yesterday in front of his house…
And the sentence is usually followed by an intake of breath, then a long, sad bow of the head…
In my last visit, I no longer asked about: where is this woman, or that man…
My heart couldn't endure to listen to more stories of sadness…
Did all those people go as the victims to the play of liberating Iraq?
And what would be the size of the memorial monument we shall build one day to commemorate their memory?
What have we gained until now?
What can I say about the Iraqis here, in Amman?
They spend their days in panic; thinking- will the residency permit be extended or not? What would be the fate of their children in the private schools, will they continue their studies, or shall we take them back to Baghdad? That is, if the family was well off to pay for school fees. But for the poor families, the children are just sitting home without studies, because if you do not have a yearly residency permit, you cannot put your children in the free public schools. And a permanent residency means depositing the sum of a $ (100,000) in the bank for one year.
Who has that much money?
The poor families are suffering, not being able to pay the rent of the flat, the living expanses, or the medical fees. They are in a cross fire, between the burning expanses here with the lack of resources, and going back to the hell of exploding cars and the free killing in Iraq.
And the international organizations; the United Nations or the Refugee Aid, are residing on the margins of what is taking place in Iraq, as if they are organizations sleeping under the sand, and have nothing to do with the calamities befalling the Iraqis.
They closed their offices in Iraq after they were bombed, well then, what are their offices outside Iraq doing?
Nothing. They are extinct organizations without deprived of will, which Bush would awaken from their sleep only when he wants to use them to pass on a penalty against some country…
Huh, a comedy by god, about which you don’t know whether to laugh, or cry…

The summery of it all is, as I see it, is that the world is going through an astonishing phase; for those who posses the money and the decision-making power are in most cases stony-hearted people, greedy, without conscience, or morals, or mercy. And the people who posses mercy, morals and conscience are usually the poor and the crushed, without the power to produce any decision. And here, I remember the call of Mahateer Muhammad: the role of these people should be activated, when we put our hands together, we, the ordinary, peace-loving people, shall have a way to be rid of those villains from that first category, who ruined our lives and turned the globe into a place we no longer like to live in…
There must be away to get rid of those criminals, to remove them from the position of decision-making…
This is the responsibility of us all…

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