Apr 20, 2011

Young Israelis and Palestinians Debate


Here in a program directed by Riz khan on Al Jazeera, young Palestinians and Israelis face off in a debate about their past, present and future. What do they think about their leaders, and do they think they will see peace in their lifetime?

It seems that to Israeli youth the pain of Palestinians are not quite understandable. Palestinians have suffered from multiple losses, including losses of territories and also human beings since the formation of Israel in 1948. On the other side, Palestinian youth are complaining about the way they are treated by the Israeli soldiers and settlers. Rez khan has done a great job bringing these youth from both sides together to talk about their issues. Without a doubt, this kind of debate would have impact on both sides and would be important to pave the way towards negotiation and peace. What these young people hope to achieve is peace for both sides. Both have shared pains, but the new generation should take initiatives towards peace.

Apr 18, 2011

"Three Cups of Tea" Spilled Over Dirt

I just opened up my twitter account and tweeted Greg Mortenson, the author of the well-known book “Three Cups of Tea”: “What's up Greg? It seems your Three Cups of Tea spilled over dirt. I never heard of your schools in Afghanistan. Why is that?”

Last night, the 60 minutes report, raised questions on the accuracy of the Three Cups of Tea. According to CBS, the show "also checked on schools that Central Asia Institute claims to have built in Pakistan and Afghanistan and found that some of them were empty, built by somebody else, or simply didn't exist at all. The principals of a number of schools said they had not received any money from Central Asia Institute in years."

CBS also said that the dramatic stories in the best-selling "Three Cups of Tea" have become the source of speeches Mortenson is paid to make and the partial basis of nearly $60 million in donations to the charity he founded.

In 2009, while I was at Duke University on a media fellowship program, I was invited to talk on the situation of Afghan children to Carolina Friend School students in Durham. In the end, one of the teachers gave the “Three Cups of Tea” as a gift. I heard about the book before but never read it. I later on read the book, although the book encompasses fascinating stories and sometimes inspiring on humanitarian efforts, I found something different compare to what I had been hearing from others. I thought the book a fiction not based on personal experience of the writer.
It was hard for me to believe that he made schools for girls in a very dangerous and volatile zone like Kunar province. When last night I watched 60 minutes report, it made sense to me to understand the book that the story is really fabricated.

Here the 60 minutes report on the fraud book called Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson.

Apr 11, 2011

Daunting News: Egyptian Blogger Sentenced to 3 Years Jail

Daunting news from Egypt in post-mubarakism surprised the world by jailing a blogger for three years. It shocked people because even in the Mubarak era, jailing bloggers was not as common as these last two months after Mubarak was forced to leave the power.

The only and the first case during Mubarak was Kareem Amir who was sentenced to 4 years in jail because of allegedly insulting Islam and Husni Mubarak. According to BBC, Maikel Nabil was arrested last month for blog posts where he criticized the role of the Egyptian Army during anti-government uprising. Based AFP, a military court sentenced him to three years in prison.

The Maikel Nabil case harks back to Mubarak era; it seems the Army is still remaining in its authoritarian nature and it would likely be hard to expect changes in institutions like the military. It clearly tells us that Egyptian Army does not tolerate criticism and it raises lots of unanswered questions about whether people’s efforts would finally succeed to a democratic society or not, was it worth it to sacrifice and how much power people have to change the governmental institutions. Anyway, the Maikel Nabil case is shocking and it makes the world look at post-mubarakism with doubt. Those who understand the nature of the Egyptian authoritarian regime which was headed by Husni Mubarak over the past 30 years will understand the nature of the Egyptian military and its court sentence for an internet activist and blogger of three years imprisonment.

We should not forget that it was Egyptian bloggers who were at the forefront of uprising since the beginning of uprising. I shall later write a separate piece more specifically on the role of blogging in the Egyptian revolution. It was the famous blogger, Khaled Said who was dragged from a cybercafe out into the street and beaten by police which led to his death. His death on June 12, 2010, outraged Alexandria’s residents and ultimately inspired many to stand up against Egyptian authoritarian regime which was headed by Husni Mubarak. Once again, even today, when in the case of Maikel Nabil proved that blogs continue to play an important role among traditional media, which is controlled by the state, but ultimately the uprising was caused by the bloggers who had relative freedom but not without intimidation and serious threat to their lives.

Apr 8, 2011

Malalai Joya's Pointless Tour to The U.S

Malalai Joya is currently touring the United States and I am a bit confused at what she hopes to accomplish here. She speaks poorly of the U.S, NATO, International Communities, and everyone in Afghanistan. She sometimes appears to be a feminist, sometimes a politician, and sometimes a human rights activist. Some believe that she fails to fulfill all these roles, but rather wants to be the center of attention.

She does not have a clear agenda as to when she wants the NATO troops out of Afghanistan. She also demands US withdrawal from Afghanistan, a demand she shares with the Taliban. If NATO troops leave Afghanistan Joya would not have chance to speak out like now.

Here what she says:

“The Afghan people are squashed between three enemies: the Taliban, warlords, and occupation forces.”
She always rants and raves about government, the Taliban, NATO forces and warlords which are all pointless. Warlords have no power anymore; they were devastated and disarmed four years ago. They have no voice in the Afghan public domain, and if they do, they have no influence.

Joya is ignorantly supporting the Taliban right now because their demands match hers. The Taliban asks U.S forces withdrawal as well.

Here is another pointless claim of hers:
“The reason they refused to give me a visa, I think, is because I exposed the wrong policies of your government, and I talk about the reality of the so-called ‘war on terror,’ and I talk about the war crimes your government is committing in the name of the American people,” said Joya. “These are the reasons they are afraid of me and do not let me enter the U.S.”
I don't know who would be naïve enough to believe that she correctly understands the situation in Afghanistan. Joya is living in her own hysterical, and sometimes paranoid, world that she created from the Afghan public sphere. She has little voice in the country, even among women. Her typical speech always descends into a rant against the government, tribal leaders and foreign forces that often get her into trouble.

While representing her country, she portrays a very bad image of Afghanistan and, more specifically, Afghan women. She believes that the situation women are in today is worse than than their situation was under the Taliban. I disagree. She ignores the fact of hundreds of thousands of girls going to school today and thousands of women employed by numerous government and NGOs since 2002.

I would suggest instead of repeating everything that she used to say five years ago, she should come up with an idea. She can raise money for building schools for girls; she can be a good feminist and work specifically for women’s rights. She can raise money for widows and homeless women, who are now in despair. Malalai Joya must understand that she has not left room for herself in Afghanistan because she's always in fight with quite everyone in power there.

Apr 5, 2011

Endgame in the Slaughter Coast

Finally, after heartbreaking news from mass murder of more than 1,000 people in Ivory Coast, we have got some good news on UN and French troops humanitarian intervention in that country. According to BBC, the UN has said that three generals loyal to Ivory Coast's besieged President Laurent Gbagbo are negotiating terms for surrender in return for guarantees of safety for him and themselves.

Also, for the past days, thousands of people crossed the border to take refuge in Liberia. In meantime, the The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, has warned that the dispute in Ivory Coast could destabilize adjacent Liberia.

Obama has also issued a sternly worded statement for Ivory Coast's besieged former President Laurent Gbabgo, saying: "To end this violence and prevent more bloodshed, former President Gbagbo must stand down immediately."

Apr 3, 2011

Humanitarian Intervention in the Slaughter Coast

The humanitarian intervention of Western power commits a double standard if they do not intervene in Ivory Coast to stop the massacre. People believe that the Western intervention on Libya is based on some benefits rather than a humanitarian intervention.

In Ivory Coast, there is a massacre going on right now where 200 UN peacekeepers are not capable of preventing a mass murder. According to aid agencies, at least 1,000 people have been killed in an act of mass murder by forces loyal to President-elect Alassane Quattara.

The news came out just a few weeks after NATO’s intervention in the war in Libya. One would ask why do NATO allies not intervene in Ivory Coast to stop the massacre? Well, let’s see what will happen in the next few days. French troops have already taken control of the airport in the commercial capital Abeidjan as the fighting continues in the country.

The answer to the aforementioned question is quiet clear. The countries involved in Libya’s war are taking aim to protect international commerce, mainly oil. As unrest in Libya continues, oil prices rose to their highest point since 2008. This is the biggest concern of those countries that benefit from Libya’s oil. In Ivory Coast nothing is significantly important, at least not in terms of economic or strategic value.

Geographically, Ivory Coast is located in West Africa. Ivory Coast is considered one of the biggest cocoa and coffee producers in the world. The country has a potential of an economic take off, but until the political crisis is resolved, international investors would not dare to invest in the country.