Professors in Iraq Have Been Killed

I have just heard about a number of professors in Iraq who have been assassinated or otherwise intimidated. This is what was sent to me:

Among the more than 250 college professors who have been killed since 30 April 2003 in Iraq are the following historians:

**Khalid M. al-Janabi, PhD. in Islamic history, faculty member at the College of Art, Babylon University. Date of assassination unknown.

**Essam Sharif Mohammed (also spelled Hissam Sharif), Ph.D in History, assistant professor at the College of Art, Baghdad University. Date of assassination: 25 October 2003.

**Mahfoudh al-Qazzaz, PhD. in Islamic history; faculty member at the College of Art, Mosul University. Killed by a death squad in front of his family at his home in Mosul on 20 December 2004.

**Jamhour Karim Kammas Al Zargani, PhD. in History; department head at the College of Education at Al- Basrah University. Abducted for two days, tortured, and killed. His family found the dead body with broken arms and legs in a nearby street in Basra on 19 August 2005.

**Kemal Nassir, professor of history, lecturer in Mustansiriya and Kufa. Date of assassination: 1 October 2006.

**In addition, Abd-Asalam Ali Hussein, PhD. in Islamic History, was arrested on 22 May 2005.


Enough Evidence to Believe There Is No Exit From Iraq

Eurasianet’s Weekly Update provides more than enough evidence to believe that there will be no useful exit for the Americans from Iraq and that the region more generally could easily decay into a broad civil war:
Sunni – Shia with Iran being the main source of funding for the Shia side and Saudi Arabia for the Sunni side. Or am I unusually pessimistic?

Mr. Sheikh, as the Editor in Chief of Al-Jazeera, you are one of the most important opinion-makers in the Arab world. What do you call suicide bombers?
Lunch with Robert Fisk: Video: Robert Fisk talks about his latest posting to Lebanon, shares his intimate understanding of the Middle East and tells us where the region-wide struggles are heading

U.S. made Hezbollah stronger, analysts say: America’s failure to stop Israeli attacks weakened the Lebanese government, critics argue

Taliban ‘Mini-State’ In Pakistan?: Peace deals between Islamic militants and Pakistan’s government have created a virtual Taliban mini-state near Afghanistan, giving militants a “free hand” to recruit, train and arm for cross-border attacks, a think tank reported Monday.

Darfur crisis crosses borders : Both Chad and the Central African Republic have become engulfed in fighting that involves a toxic mix of rebel groups, government forces, armed militias, and civilians.

Britain stops talk of ‘war on terror’:
A Foreign Office spokesman said the government wanted to ‘avoid reinforcing and giving succour to the terrorists’ narrative by using language that, taken out of context, could be counter-productive’. The same message has been sent to British diplomats and official spokespeople around the world.

Sunni and Shiite Resistance Remain Mystery to U.S., Iraq Report Charges :
Nearly four years after the invasion of Iraq, the United States still does not understand the enemy that American troops are fighting, according to last week’s report by the Iraq Study Group.

Prominent Saudi Muslim clerics urge Muslims to support Iraqi Sunnis against Shiites: Over 30 prominent Islamic clerics from Saudi Arabia on Monday called on Sunni Muslims around the Middle East to support their brethren in Iraq against Shiites and praised the insurgency.

History will not treat us kindly By Tim Andersen
We will be remembered as the Americans who insulated themselves from reality and remained self-absorbed, concerned with their own personal comfort and privilege while our government wrecked havoc on the world and destroyed our own culture.

The militarily organized practice of torture, the sexual abuse, and all other abuses of men and women, clandestine incarcerations and forced disappearances, are not new in the history of the Third World, and of Latin America in particular. It has been instead an historical constant of colonial, neocolonial and neoliberal domination.

Revolution in the air as Lebanon’s rift widens By Robert Fisk

With Fouad Siniora’s cabinet hiding in the Grand Serail behind acres of razor wire and thousands of troops – a veritable “green zone” in the heart of Beirut – the largely Shia Muslim opposition, assisted by their Christian allies, brought up to two million supporters into the centre of the city yesterday to declare the forthcoming creation of a second Lebanese administration.
The Americans don’t see how unwelcome they are, or that Iraq is now beyond
repair By Patrick Cockburn: Manipulation of facts was often very crude. As an example of the systematic distortion, the Iraq Study Group revealed last week that on one day last July US officials reported 93 attacks or significant acts of violence. In reality, it added, “a careful review of the reports … brought to light 1,100 acts of violence”.

Good News and Bad News From Afghanistan

There is both good news from Afghanistan and bad news. The BBC published an encouraging report on Herat on 12/5/06. Herat has had five years of relative calm since the fall of the Taliban, whereas the Taliban have been gaining strength in Pakistan and southern and eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban were never accepted here. This is a Persian speaking city (the Afghans call their dialect “Dari”), and mainly Shi’ite, so the Taliban had no use for the local population. The Taliban spoke Pushtu and the widespread use of Urdu among them emphasized that their roots were really Pakistan rather than Afghanistan. Now that they are gone schools for girls are no longer banned, television is available, music is now again part of every day affairs. People wear clothes, jeans. Medical care is better: women doctors and nurses can work now. “There are a lot of private clinics and labs with relatively sophisticated diagnostic machines. Health facilities have been opened up in remote areas.” Even so, many women are still wearing the burka – preferring to remain covered to avoid insults from the men.

But the BBC has also published a report on suicide among Afghan women. “Driven to desperation by forced marriages and abusive husbands, more and more are seeking release through self-immolation.” Such a painful way to die – and some survive: we wonder what kind of world they will be able to live in now. Jealousy, forced marriages, a culture that permits domestic violence, and the hardships of living in a society broken by war – these are the sources of the despair of young women seeking to destroy themselves.

Exposing the Truth of Abu Ghraib Wasn’t Easy

Joe Darby is the man who revealed the abuses at Abu Ghraib. For revealing the abuse of other human beings he was rejected by his fellow soldiers and his home community. He feared for his life and even now lives incognito, in fear that someone from his former company or community might do him in.This is America? Even what our leaders say our troops were fighting for was being outraged. Consider the moral values of the American heritage: “The doctrine of blind obedience and unqualified submission to any human power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, is the doctrine of despotism, and ought to have no place among Republicans and Christians.”:
Angelica Grimke – (1805-1879) Anti-Slavery Examiner, September 1836

Perspectives From Central Asia: Installment Four

More on public sentiments in Central Asia:

Kate Clark of Unreported World has reported that “five years after the fall of the Taliban, western intervention has produced a mafia-style state” in the northern part of the country.

Clark was far from the region where the Taliban are rising, but there she found “an economy dominated by the drugs trade.” Those in power are the commanders from the days of the Northern Alliance. Now they are prominent in the police and in parliament, and some of them are accused of human rights abuses. “The father of a child killed in an attack on NATO Peace-keeping forces says civilians have no-one to turn to – commanders are powerful in the local administration and foreign peace-keepers are seen to be working with them.” Clark interviews a local commander who claims that “senior members of the police force with links going up to the heart of the Kabul government” are in involved in the drug trade. He tells her that the local people are “re-arming themselves and selling weapons to their old enemies, the Taliban,” because not only in opium but in weapons “serious money” can be made. She is shown “palaces” that “commanders and cabinet ministers have built on government land.” She meets a woman, unnamed, who has “publicly criticized the warlords” and so has become “a magnet for those wanting to complain about abuses.” The
young woman is, however, plagued by death threats. Such is the situation in late 2006.

Compare the hope that was expressed by a courageous young woman in 2004, Malalai Joya, in the face of threats in her time. Joya was at that time was running an orphanage and health clinic. “One woman’s words defy might of Afghan warlords; Malalai Joya tells Hamida Ghafour of the threats she faces in a battle to end her country’s violence”] She also was courageous, openly accusing the “warlords and criminals” of her area, Farah, of “drug trafficking, land seizures, rape, and looting of houses.” Farah is a very different province of Afghanistan, and it is now at risk of being overrun by the new Taliban. Even in those days Joya was being threatened; her home had just been ransacked by soldiers. Even so, she had been able to persuade President Karzai to evict the sitting governor of Farah for criminal activity. “These people should be taken to court,” she said. If not, she warned, “Those people will be in parliament and the country will revert to bloodshed. Maybe it will be me they kill, but there will be others whose voices will be louder than mine.” The bloodshed she predicted seems to be coming true, but we wonder if there will really be others like her with the courage to speak out. Pray that she and others like her will have the courage to call a spade a spade in the face of the rising criminality of public officials.

“Extraordinary Rendition” of an Innocent Man

I have been deeply grieved by this brutality which is relevant and troubling.

Canadian Was Falsely Accused, Panel Says
Published: September 19, 2006 (The Washington Post)

TORONTO, Sept. 18 – Canadian intelligence officials passed false warnings and bad information to American agents about a Muslim Canadian citizen, after which U.S. authorities secretly whisked him to Syria, where he was tortured, a judicial report found Monday.

Abuse of rape victim by the Pakistan government

Thank God for Nicholas Kristof. I pray that Pakistan will face up to itself;
this should help if anything will. Best, RLCRaped, Kidnapped and Silenced
New York Times: June 14, 2005No wonder the Pakistan government can’t catch Osama bin Laden. It is too busy
harassing, detaining – and now kidnapping – a gang-rape victim for daring to
protest and for planning a visit to the United States.Last fall I wrote about Mukhtaran Bibi, a woman who was sentenced by a tribal
council in Pakistan to be gang-raped because of an infraction supposedly
committed by her brother. Four men raped Ms. Mukhtaran, then village leaders
forced her to walk home nearly naked in front of a jeering crowd of 300.Ms. Mukhtaran was supposed to have committed suicide. Instead, with the backing
of a local Islamic leader, she fought back and testified against her
persecutors. Six were convicted.Then Ms. Mukhtaran, who believed that the best way to overcome such abuses was
through better education, used her compensation money to start two schools in
her village, one for boys and the other for girls. She went out of her way to
enroll the children of her attackers in the schools, showing that she bore no
grudges.Readers of my column sent in more than $133,000 for her. Mercy Corps, a U.S. aid
organization, has helped her administer the money, and she has expanded the
schools, started a shelter for abused women and bought a van that is used as an
ambulance for the area. She has also emerged as a ferocious spokeswoman against
honor killings, rapes and acid attacks on women. (If you want to help her,
please don’t send checks to me but to Mercy Corps, with “Mukhtaran Bibi” in the
memo line: 3015 S.W. First, Portland, Ore. 97201.)A group of Pakistani-Americans invited Ms. Mukhtaran to visit the U.S. starting
this Saturday (see Then a few days ago, the Pakistani government
went berserk.On Thursday, the authorities put Ms. Mukhtaran under house arrest – to stop her
from speaking out. In phone conversations in the last few days, she said that
when she tried to step outside, police pointed their guns at her. To silence
her, the police cut off her land line.After she had been detained, a court ordered her attackers released, putting her
life in jeopardy. That happened on a Friday afternoon, when the courts do not
normally operate, and apparently was a warning to Ms. Mukhtaran to shut up.
Instead, Ms. Mukhtaran continued her protests by cellphone. But at dawn
yesterday the police bustled her off, and there’s been no word from her since.
Her cellphone doesn’t answer.Asma Jahangir, a Pakistani lawyer who is head of the Human Rights Commission of
Pakistan, said she had learned that Ms. Mukhtaran was taken to Islamabad,
furiously berated and told that President Pervez Musharraf was very angry with
her. She was led sobbing to detention at a secret location. She is barred from
contacting anyone, including her lawyer.”She’s in their custody, in illegal custody,” Ms. Jahangir said. “They have gone
completely crazy.”Even if Ms. Mukhtaran were released, airports have been alerted to bar her from
leaving the country. According to Dawn, a Karachi newspaper, the government took
this step, “fearing that she might malign Pakistan’s image.”Excuse me, but Ms. Mukhtaran, a symbol of courage and altruism, is the best hope
for Pakistan’s image. The threat to Pakistan’s image comes from President
Musharraf for all this thuggish behavior.I’ve been sympathetic to Mr. Musharraf till now, despite his nuclear negligence,
partly because he’s cooperated in the war on terrorism and partly because he has
done a good job nurturing Pakistan’s economic growth, which in the long run is
probably the best way to fight fundamentalism. So even when Mr. Musharraf denied
me visas all this year, to block me from visiting Ms. Mukhtaran again and
writing a follow-up column, I bit my tongue.But now President Musharraf has gone nuts. “This is all because they think they have the support of the U.S. and can get
away with murder,” Ms. Jahangir said. Indeed, on Friday, just as all this was
happening, President Bush received Pakistan’s foreign minister in the White
House and praised President Musharraf’s “bold leadership.”So, Mr. Bush, how about asking Mr. Musharraf to focus on finding Osama, instead
of kidnapping rape victims who speak out? And invite Ms. Mukhtaran to the Oval
Office – to show that Americans stand not only with generals who seize power,
but also with ordinary people of extraordinary courage.Please see my “concerns” page:
My blog: