Saturday, July 31, 2004

Off to Jordan

Don't get jealous , I'm going to Amman tomorrow morning..if Raed opens his mail we may meet if not then hardluck maybe next time...So Raed ..hope you are reading this ..leave your thesis for a couple of hours please...How about a capuccino at one of the cafes in Swefiyeh or Mecca Mall :) you have my cell phone so call me...

Friday, July 30, 2004

Replies to your questions PART II 

I'm back from Lebanon and here is the second batch of answers to your collective questions:

11.     In terms of world politics, you can find plenty of international conflicts where the United States is accused of partisanship for or against one side; try Taiwan and China, or North Korea and South Korea.  Yet none of those locations have sent terrorists across the ocean to fly planes into American buildings.  You can find people anywhere who are angry or annoyed at American meddling into their affairs, but only in the Middle East do you find large groups that are actually up in arms about it.  There must be some reason, intellectuals say, why we cannot negotiate a position of mutual benefit with the Arab world, when we have been able to achieve our own aims elsewhere in the world without inciting hatred and anti-Americanism. 


You see that is exactly the point, you only want to establish your aims on and in our countries, but it never even occurs to you that the other party would like also to establish their aims in your country and you do not want to give them that privilege. That is not mutual benefit that is exploitation.The Taiwanese are not against you because you help them and also because they need all those investments, they have no oil remember. While China is serene that you will not really threaten it when push comes to shove because you need it as a future giant market and also because they have the nuclear deterrent. North Korea is a Nuclear country, see how the US has been placating it even though it is the country which really has those fabled WMD. South Korea is an American ally. Other peoples in whose countries you have meddled are getting even by sending drugs galore; that is a more painful, expensive slow and subtler death then those spectacular skyscrapers. I think killing is a crime in whatever way it was done, and that Bush should have grabbed the opportunity granted him by the Taliban to have OBL. He would have avenged the deaths by putting OBL in court and giving him the death sentence and he would have saved thousands of lives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia without unleashing the ‘terrorism’ genie from the bottle and without going to war. I still think that the oil, a strategic position in the heart of the world, moving the historic fight from the American shores combined with a personal vendetta are the real goals. I hope to be proved wrong by history. 

12.      …Or, put another way, how to join the modern world of liberal democracy and scientific and economic achievement without losing the moral basis in Islam. As for the political grievances you have, what do you want to do if we happen to have political grievances of our own, which are in direct contradiction to yours?   

Paul, Islam does not prevent you from modernizing or achieving, on the contrary it always asks you to strive towards learning and improving and inventing and seeking knowledge. Re. political grievances, you win for the time being because you have the strongest weapons, but a time will come when the proverbial worm will turn, then we may come to a compromise and the scores would be settled.  

13.      Have you personally been assaulted by Americans or do you base your opinion on the experience of other abused Muslims? Are you just as outraged over the genocide occurring in the Sudan against black African Christians and animists in the southern part of the country? 

  • Yes I along with the residents of Benghazi and Tripoli have been assaulted by a whole fleet of Americans; remember the air raid in 1986? Who carried that? was it not US servicemen under the leadership of the late President  Ronald Reagan or were they hired contractors?
  • Thanks for bringing up the outrageous genocide in Darfur which is practiced by Arab Sudanese, let me inform you that Libya has been negotiating to stop this bloodshed for years, and that it has recently even pledged to send aid to that area and help the Americans with a passage from Libya. 

14.My question for you is how did Gadhafi become your leader and if you had a choice would you choose him or someone else to continue to lead? 

Brian, he became a leader, in 1969 when he carried out a bloodless revolutionary coup against the Western appointed King Idriss. I would still choose him  because I do not want my homeland to fall into anarchy and chaos. I prefer one of my own than a foreign power or a Chalabi style guy. Also Libya is too close to Europe and we are aware of what is going on in the world around us. Libyans have had an extensive chance to apply politics in person so they will know what to do at the right time. One more thing is that we are only 5 million composed of about 600 000 families and 600 names, we all can trace our ancestors to at least the pre-Islamic era, all of us, Blacks, Berbers, Arabs, we are all Libyans and proud of it and we all know each other.

 15 . also do you know of any other Libyan bloggers so far?
Well, mitchtemporarily , so far I’m still the only Libyan blogger, but many Libyans have webpages and websites which are quite interesting and informative. If you are interested I can send you the links.

  Please watch out this space for upcoming replies about your questions on Libyan system of government and  Italian occupation !

Monday, July 26, 2004

Off to Lebanon

I'm sorry if I have not replied to some friends' emails ..I'm going to Beirut for a couple days :)
Yippee I love Lebanon !

Friday, July 23, 2004

In Defense of the Arab WomanNasren
by Alissa,

 Westerners will never achieve human awareness of Arab women if they continue to peer through the frosted glass of a single image, a narrow definition of what every woman should be.
Westerners ignore and prejudge Arab women, making them victims in the process of stereotyping. Many people look at Arab women and think of them negatively or feel sorry for them. Some Westerners look at the Muslim women in Afghanistan and think that all Muslim women in other countries are treated the same way.
Erasing the essential individuality of individuals or groups and stereotyping them is not a new phenomenon. It is difficult to imagine a society or a period of history completely devoid of this particularly cruel method of robbing people of their humanity. It is also impossible to imagine an individual who could live an entire life without being a victim or villain in the process of stereotyping.
There is little understanding of either Arab women’s status or the total context of their lives. Like other maligned groups, Arabs do their best to understand these misperceptions and in their own way confront them. There is no Arab woman who underestimates the difficulty of changing Western assumptions.
The stereotype of the Arab woman, “imprisoned behind a veil of powerlessness,” will not be eradicated in our lifetime. Arabs are often shocked into numbness by the depth of that misunderstanding. They know that each epoch of awareness is a new beginning and a new opportunity for them and their families.
Like most stereotypes, this image is not merely wrong or insulting, it is ludicrous. Long before Western women even considered themselves as a group, let alone a group deprived of its rights, the Islamic woman had begun her emancipation. From the beginning of Islam, 1,400 years ago, every Muslim woman was born with an array of rights — cultural and spiritual — due to a human being.
When the Christian church was still debating the existence of a woman’s soul, women in the Islamic world knew they had one. They knew they were full entities and as free human beings, had choices. Islamic women were given the right to run their own businesses, to keep their financial autonomy after marriage and, more importantly, the right to learn, the key to emancipation.
Many Western women in the recent past have sought to keep their maiden names after marriage. Islamic women have enjoyed this tradition for centuries. After all, the wife is one of a pair, a term literally conveying equality. In fact, the Arabic word for wife, “alzawja,” literally means “one of a pair.”
Western women had few or no rights under Roman law. They were under perpetual tutelage from childhood on and deprived of the freedoms that the modern Western woman takes for granted. Prior to the year 1000, recognition of woman as a human being was still disputed.
The Arab world fared better. I can imagine the surprise among feminists when they learn that the Prophet’s first wife, Khadijah, was an able businesswoman. It is perhaps even more interesting that Sheikha Nafissa was a theologian from whom the Imam Shaffei, one of the four scholars of Islam, was proud to say he had learned.
How many Western women know that even in the early days of Islam, Arab women fought in battles alongside men in full equality or that the glamorous Queen Zubaidah built a canal to provide water for the pilgrims en route to Makkah? How many know that, since the 10th century, Arab women throughout the Islamic world have been doctors and nurses?
None of this is meant to demean the struggle of the Western woman. All women involved in this kind of difficult human endeavor understand the hardships only too well. All involved women know that the woman’s struggle — in day-to-day low profile or high media terms — continually confronts the limits of social pressures. We are cognizant of the finite nature of the political environment. Women’s changing status is not different from other political, cultural or social processes.
To understand what Islam has established for woman, there is no need to deplore her plight in the pre-Islamic era. Islam has given woman rights and privileges that she has never enjoyed under other religious or constitutional systems. This can be understood when the matter is studied holistically rather than partially. The rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of man but they are not necessarily identical with them.
Equality and sameness are two quite different things. This difference is understandable because man and woman are not identical — but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no problem. It is almost impossible to find even two identical men or women.
Arab and Muslim women have been a viable entity for a long time. They have struggled, realized and enjoyed emancipation in their daily lives for centuries. As for the Muslim woman, no one can take away from her the Word of God through his Messenger. Her evolution is her own and she knows she can accomplish her emancipation on her own.
The Arab woman appreciates the concern of her Western counterparts. She understands the excitement that Western women feel having so recently discovered their own terms within the reality of their own culture in this particular historic moment. But Arab women have the benefit of wisdom accumulated over nearly 14 centuries.
Most of all, the Arab woman has the advantage of making her own choices in creating and experiencing an entirely new epoch of emancipation. The Arab woman is experiencing the joy of new growth but she appreciates the concern of others. She is too utterly involved to stereotype the Western woman and she respects her struggle — without forcing her to fit our expectations. We simply expect the same consideration in return.
* * *
(Nasren Alissa is a Saudi writer. She is based in Riyadh.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Blogging from Aleppo
I went to my favourite internet cafe here and to my horror I find that it had closed . Luckily I  found a good one a mere 300  metres down the road . Still I can't stay long as we have a lot of places to visit and the program is full .. so this is just to say that when I return to Damascus I will write some more ( emails and posts).

Friday, July 16, 2004

Libya to open Darfur aid corridor
Libya has agreed to open a new aid corridor across the Sahara Desert to speed up the delivery of supplies to refugees from Sudan's Darfur region.
A new template
Please make sure to scroll down the sidebar to access once again the links I lost a while ago.
You will find, the photopages, the Libyan recipes and news and other stuff.. I'll test the image upload ( thanks Blogger) but hope not to loose all my settings again ;)


Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Replies to your questions PART I

Below are the rest of your questions from emails and the comment section which have remained unanswered I will post them over several parts:

1. Libyan version of perestroika?

Alan, sometime ago you sent me a link for an article which suggests that the current activities in Libya where some kind of a perestroika a la Libyan. My opinion is that Libya cannot remain isolated for much longer we are too near Europe and other countries and it needs to catch up with the rest of the world .What is the use for all the heartache of taking a beating for causes which are not our cause and for which the legitimate people concerned already deal with America behind the scenes while paying lip service for their cause. So I think that in the end what has happened in the last months should have been undertaken years ago. If paying and declaring the WMD will get my country out of a fix it partially and maybe naively got itself into then by all means let’s close this chapter the way America wants. Then we can start a new page, improve ourselves, increase the education of our people, join the industrialized world, and stop worrying about being the champions of the underdog. I believe that when you can achieve realistic goals one at a time the farther away dreams will get nearer once you get used to being winner.

2. What do Libyans know and think of the fact that your government practiced terrorism and bombed civilian planes in the past?

Marco, Libyan alleged practice of terrorism is only that: alleged, there is no proof beyond reasonable doubt that those civilian planes have been bombed as a result of Libyan meddling. If you read the transcript of the two court cases you will find that some statements leave a lot to be desired. Also remember that only one Libyan got convicted (and he wants to appeal) while at the beginning everyone was adamant that it was both Libyans. History will show the truth sooner or later. At the moment clearing our name one way or another is the best strategy to go forward. If later on it turns out that it was a deliberate Libyan act then I’m sure Libyans will totally refuse it. But if it turns out that we have been wronged then I would demand suitable reparation for the years of hardship the Libyan people suffered from the West and especially America and France regarding this question. I would like to point out that any act of terrorism by whoever is totally condemned by the Libyan people. We also have suffered from terrorism.

3. arabs - can't live with 'em, can't nuke 'em

Paul, I noticed you on many Iraqi blogs, and your comments always seemed to be prejudiced against Arabs and so much anti – Arab and anti- Muslim (you put the two in the same bag interchangeably) . Of course that is your privilege and you are entitled to your opinion even though at times you did write comments which I found logical. I just wanted to tell you not to base your views about us from people who have renounced Islam, and others who keep denigrating their fellow Arabs. Why don’t you try to reach out, meet or interact with Arabs and Middle-Easterners who are at the same time good examples of Muslims (it is possible you know). Don’t make the same mistakes that you accuse Arabs of that they are namely being prejudiced against Americans.

4. Afghanistan is effectively imprisoned by foreign troop (Pakistani, Iranian, Chinese, Uzbek, Tajik, Turkmenistan).Somehow they manage to live in those conditions. Perhaps Afghans are more mature and intelligent and peaceful than Arabs?

Again, If you remember Zeyad’s posts about the history of the Arab tribes? You will understand why Arabs are unable to manage to live under foreign troops even though they may be more benign than the local dictator. This is derived from the make up of the Arab personality. I personally believe that ‘when you can’t fight them, join them’ to survive and have peace. Look at Germans they gratefully took the Marshall plan and proceeded to become a success and the Japanese also grabbed the American offer after being carpet bombed in WWII. The Arab’s pride will yet be their doom , they are not less intelligent than the Afghan but collectively they have more money, they are not literally all starving en masse, they do not all have to live on handouts or from the proceeds of the drug trade (I know some Arab countries are enjoying a lot of American aid, I know some others have famines and grinding wars, but perhaps I’m being overly romantic but I think that collectively they are not as needy as the Afghans). I would have saved myself the heartache and bowed to the superpower now, because if I do so I will live to become in time a strong superpower or my kids would; but if I stand in the face of the storm I may be decimated. Unfortunately we still think according to the Arabic rhyme which says [biladi wan in jarat 3aliya 3aziza, wa ahli wa in dhanu bi kiramu] – ‘my country will remain dear to me even if hurt me , and my people will remain generous despite having failed me’. Roughly speaking it is my nation and I will love it against all odds. This might be a wrong attitude in the western eyes but that is how many Arabs think still and that is what prevents them from accepting foreign occupation even when it is covertly done and even if accepting the status quo may be better in the long run.
Personally I wish that the Iraqis would stop the insurgency and stop giving the Americans the reason to remain one day more on Iraqi soil. This way Americans will eventually have to go. My idea is that we will see some more bloodshed.
Occupation does not have to be military also, the worst type of occupation is the economic one and that is obvious in many countries and that makes me very mad, but until we allow them to take advantage of us and don’t work on improving ourselves so that we may compete, then we deserve what befalls us.

5. These are not hate words – in case you think that somebody disagreeing with you hates you.

Somebody sent me the above words. Once and for all, I do not consider anyone disagreeing with me as someone who hates me. He/she does not know me to hate or love me in the first place. In fact those who disagree with me open my eyes to many matters heretofore unknown which may help me in my personal growth. Whilst those who sent me real hate filled words, where I would like to say that the fact that they took the time to read my posts and actually write to me to utter those hate words (not disagreements) means that they don’t really hate me or my words, but that my words have somehow reached their subconscious/hearts and perhaps affected/touched them and they are reaching out in their blindness looking for someone to lead them to the truth.

6. “Can you honestly say that everything bad you hear about the Americans is true and that the Iraqi insurgents are all innocent people just fighting for their freedom? It’s about the power struggle and who really doesn’t believe that insurgents are using mosques to fight from?”

No, there are bad and good people everywhere. Some of the Iraqi insurgents may not be lily white, but in their fight against an occupying army small details do not count anymore and they become freedom fighters and anything they do to get rid of their presumed enemy becomes legitimate. I don’t think they should have used the mosques though. Personally they should have just let the Americans walk through( as I said above), but I think that there has been also much provocation from the American side. As I said Arabs are very proud people when loosing face before a stranger especially and this characteristic is not to their advantage at the moment. The time of chivalry and knights is long gone.

7. “If a Muslim killed an American child playing dolls in their yard just because the child was American, another Muslim can’t turn him in because the child is an infidel and you can’t turn on a Muslim to give justice to an infidel. Isn’t that what some Muslims teach? There might be a lot of things wrong in the US but believing that everyone who is your religion is better than everyone who isn’t your religion is not one of them.

No JstMeZ, a Muslim is not going to kill that child just because she is American: that is a crime. If some deranged people teach that, then they are going against all the principles of Islam ans should be locked up. But we have to listen to Mr. Bush himself who said there are rotten apples everywhere so these maybe our rotten apples. Threfore no, Islam does not condone hiding a criminal just because he is a Muslim, rather justice should be brought upon him. That is regarding the particular example you raised. What we Muslims believe is that the better amongst us is the person who has the strongest faith in God. Sometimes the most outwardly devout one may not be the best one. The Koran says “lakum dinakum wa li dini”, that is you have your religion and I have mine! Since you have been informed about Islam then the choice is up to you, take it or leave it. Once we clearly make our choices then we are held accountable for them. Not all Muslims are good, but also not all non-muslims of whatever ethnicity are good either. The only people who believe that everyone who is from their religion is better than the rest are guess who? : the Jews. Please go check their scripture. Please remember that only in Islamic countries, different races and religions managed to live harmoniously and equally.

8. No, the root of terrorist violence lies in the "traditional arab" value system.

I admit Dan that some Arabs have resorted to terrorism but that is not an exclusive trait to us. Please remember IRA , the shining path, the Ku Klux Klan, the US government , the Khmer Rouge, the Spanish ETA, the Corsicans, Abu Sayaf, the Mafia, the Crusaders, the Israeli Army, JFK’s assassin, Ronald Reagan’s would be assassin, those Japanese groups which used sarin gas and many more. I don’t think these people share an Arab ancestry or the traditional Arab value system do they? So maybe you should learn a little about the traditional Arab values before, professing an opinion.

9. How many bases do we have in Libya?


How many in Syria?

How many did we have in Iraq?

NONE, but now you will have many as of now which makes up for all the ones not present in Libya or Syria.

10. Who 'controlled' Iraqi oil before liberation?

Bob, before ‘liberation’ oil was controlled by Saddam who was an American puppet. When he stopped wanting to be a puppet he was not in control at all anymore and America controlled the oil via the UN arm. I mean if he was really was in control of the oil he would not have sold only the quotas allowed by the UN oil- for- food program.
You can say that the only side benefit for the Iraqi people from this latest war on Iraq is the accidental removal of Saddam. If you really cared for their freedom then you would have removed him and allowed them to choose how to carry on with their lives..but that is for another post.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Scarves, hijab, veil, modesty and the right to choose: PART II

Sometime in February I wrote about the veil promising a sequel about Libya I hope it will be helpful.

Decades ago Libyan women donned the traditional Libyan clothes, these had nothing to do with Islam even though they may cover the head and body. This is just folklore. With the revolution and modernisation, free and compulsory education for all from kindergarten to university and many women entering the working force more and more since the late 50’s our parent’s generation (ie people in their sixties now) have started to wear western clothing be it conservative or modern. In fact my elders tell me that back in the 70s wearing a skirt below the knee was considered backward and oh so passé. Then something happened in the mid 80’s and I started noticing many young women wearing a hijab , veil or scarf whichever version they preferred, by the late 90’s the traditional Libyan women’s dress was worn at ceremonies and by senior citizens only. In this century the majority wear a scarf, but we have it all, the potential Britney Spears look-alikes and the black abaya with everything in between. 100% of Libyan women are wearing a scarf voluntarily, but not ALL Libyan women are wearing a scarf spot the nuance here.

What happened in the 80’s to promote this voluntary action by Libyan women? The war in Afghanistan, and the perceived renaissance of Islam, and the great pride in the Muslim fighters and how they dealt a blow to Russia (let us not forget with the help and funding from the USA). Many Islamist parties flourished with the patronage and blessing of America in the cold war, they were then called gallant freedom fighters etc…In brief, many of these parties had the necessary funding to produce tapes and videos of their various preaching and fatwas and because the majority came from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, ordinary people took these words as law since Saudi is the keeper of the holy shrines. And since Islam does advocate modesty of dress, just like other monotheistic religions, many girls were influenced and started wearing the Saudi- like extreme form of dress code voluntarily (in KSA it is the law). This has nothing to do with the State in Libya it was a people’s thing a mass movement and choice. Wearing a hijab then gained momentum and became a fashion statement; after all you are really freer and more anonymous when you are modestly clad. In the early 90’s the majority of girls in universities were still casual, by mid 90’s we started seeing more and more of them with a scarf. This was a major step in a girl’s life and as I said before we congratulate her heartily. It is obvious that Libyan men nowadays prefer their wives, sisters or mothers or any female relative to be modest and that is why I believe that this phenomenon which started as an Islamic revival has grown into a social/fashion status. Nowadays the modest clothes can be latest catwalk styles but properly adapted ie long sleeves and long skirts + a scarf and you will find a multitude of colours, in fact it’s an art to combine the matching scarf with the shoes bag and jewellery. I went to my class reunion this year at university and I stood out like a sore thumb with my ‘westernised’ look even though I had the impression that my black business suit was sometimes more ‘modest’ than what some girls were wearing.
Bareheaded girls were a minority now.
I want to stress once again that this is their choice which does not hinder in any way their ordinary life as students, workers, producers, managers, teachers, lovers or whatever. Women enjoy great freedom in Libya and they really are grateful for the revolution which took up their cause. We have women in the army, police, customs, law, medicine, social sciences and workers, education, politics, services and all aspects of a society, not forgetting engineers and oil engineers who work in the oil fields for weeks on a par with their Libyan men colleagues and expatriate colleagues and as I said many wear a scarf so it is not a backward phenomenon but more of a freedom of choice thing. I think my American readers would appreciate that it is not a sign of great religiosity or extremism or fundamentalism. Not at all! Many Libyan women are devout Muslims yes but full of optimism and openness to the west, after all we are across the Mediterranean and not too far from Europe. They love fashion, and make up like all females across the globe but some like to add their own personality to it and I believe that is called individuality, a much lauded characteristic right?

Despite all that I will be realistic and say that another dimension has been added to this phenomenon in the last couple of years; some peer pressure. For example, a prospective suitor would much prefer to marry a girl with a scarf even though her dress may be more revealing then a bareheaded woman. I know it is hypocritical but somehow this small triangular piece of cloth changes everything. This is a typically chauvinistic macho Arabic thing and nothing to do with Islam, unfortunately many young girls have also chosen the scarf for the sake of a man and not for the love of God and those are the ones that I despise as they are the ones who usually dare to criticise other girls. In Islam you have a choice; you make that choice knowingly and live with it. Islam is not a rigid doctrine it is adaptable and very easy to follow.

So to recapitulate: Libyan women wear a scarf by choice, for some it is for God, for others it is a fashionable Islamic identity, others yet believe it preserves their privacy and modesty and another group use it to be attractive to men. Now be honest and tell me which woman does not want her lover, boyfriend, husband, partner, flirt or simply man not to get attracted to her? People achieve this attraction in different ways, for some of us it may be a nice sexy little top with a lovely low cut V-neck and for others it may be a turquoise scarf with the matching skirt, shoes and bag. Looking at it this way it ain’t that bad right? We are all fashionistas in a sense!

Personally I think that making the choice requires guts because going back on it is embarrassing in our culture. Some have taken off their hijab also so that’s fine.

I have an update on the girl I used as an example for my rant in PART I, and I am happy to inform you that this struggling bright medical student got a scholarship and will pursue her studies in the US, she also is happily married to an engineer and best of all she has won her case for the right to wear a hijab at work against her foreign boss. I am very happy and proud for her.

Many of you wrote to me about this issue, someone said ( and please forgive me for forgetting your name) that perhaps her management saw fit that it would be more pleasant if she and other female workers wore no hijab in a tourism industry. I would like to thank him and tell him that he may be right but with all due respect to his opinion, that would be sexual discrimination. Being professional at her work she can still wear her uniform with the scarf in her own country, after all the Sikh men get to keep their turbans ( I know I mentioned that in an earlier post). Her scarf will also never prevent her from performing her duties in the ward or operating room would it?

My next post about the subject of women will deal in more details on equality of the sexes.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Libyan American Friendship Association

Building A Bridge of Communication
The Libyan American Friendship Association (LAFA) was founded in 1995 with a vision that the American People and Libyan people need to reach out to one another and start an era of communication to pave the road for better relations between our two nations....

There is a lot of information on that site if you are interested.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Saturday, July 03, 2004

DAMASCUS 4:00 am

Following my post about Egypt I have uploaded some of the pictures I took while there and which would not compromise my identity ..hope you will all like them. Egyptian journey!

Also upcoming posts not necessarly in the following order:

Arab Civilization
Effect of US sanctions
The Palestinians
Trip to Syria
Trip to Jordan
Trip to Lebanon
Collection of replies
Scarves part 2
Libyan wedding ceremonies
The war on Iraq, Saddam & suggestions.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Opposite Goals
by Jihad Al Khazen Al-Hayat 2004/07/2

I read this article online and could not help posting it as it is just too perfect !!!!

I have always known that every goal our Umma (nation) aims at, is contrarily accomplished, to the extent where I started asking myself why don't we ask for poverty, slavery, and ignorance, in the hope that we might achieve wealth, freedom, and knowledge.

Perhaps things got mixed up in my head because of my many plane trips and lack of oxygen, but I am writing today from the ground, and I still believe that we are failing each time, to the extent that I started asking for failure in order to achieve success.

When I was a young boy, the topics in Arab politics were restricted to the liberation of Palestine, and the achievement of unity. Then came Jamal Abdel Nasser, and we had a leader whom we wished would liberate and unite us.

Unity between Egypt and Syria was established in 1958, was supposed to last forever, and to include the countries and the people of the Umma; but it collapsed in 1961, and made every unity seeker reevaluate his stance. The 1958 Iraqi revolution was a logical ally to the Egyptian revolution, and a future ally of the sought unity; but the revolution ate-up its people, and withdrew from the concept of unity.

When Moammar Gadhafi came to power, as a spitting image of Nasser, he revived the demands for unity in a way that convinced every Arab country of the virtues of separation.

This with regards to unity; as for Palestine, we all know what is going on, and we all refuse the division of 1947, because Palestine is entirely Arab. We have lost the 1948 war, and were left with 22% of the land of Palestine, when we could have kept more than its populated half.

The 1967 war lost the rest, and we now ask for the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which were originally ours, but not ours.

In the meantime, most of us followed the illusion of communism; the concerned Arab governments acted here with rare intelligence; they realized that they will not allow the poor to reach the level of the rich, so they made the rich reach the level of the poor, with the exception of the ruling military elites and their entourages.

Does the reader remember the slogan unity, freedom, and communism? It is a nice slogan that was preached by the Arab Communist Baath Party, as it was the "trend" back then. But the party of unity itself was divided in two: a Syrian and an Iraqi; it was the biggest political enmity between the members of one party, and the result was that we did not achieve the unity that the party presented in its political rhetoric.

What did I cover so far? The liberation of Palestine that made us lose the rest, the unity that strengthened division, and communism that made everyone poorer on the basis of making everyone live the same misery in order to achieve equality.

I move now to the Gulf, as in the days of poverty, and before the high demand on oil and the increase in its price, nobody asked about the Gulf or its people. However, when these became rich, we heard about 'Arab oil,' not Saudi or Kuwaiti for example. But fortune did not corrupt all Gulf people, as Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan sponsored the establishment of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a constant unity, which may be the only exception to the rule.

But the Gulf was the ground for achieving the total opposite of what was required, in a tragedy the consequences of which we still suffer.

I remember that there was an American base in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, which the Americans used to pay the price for, before the oil era; this money used to constitute an important portion of the Saudi budget back then. There was also a maritime American presence in Bahrain, and some British military ships, from Amman to Kuwait.

The American base in Dhahran was closed, and the others' presence in the Gulf remained unnoticeable. Then the Iranian Islamic Revolution took place, and demanded the expulsion of foreign forces from the Gulf. The region suddenly became a large port for the ships of major Western countries. Saddam Hussein refused to see the Iranian revolution making more mistakes than he was, so he attacked Iran, and the foreign ships doubled in the Gulf; then he invaded Kuwait, and the Gulf was filled with 800,000 soldiers, and a massive war machinery that no one ever imagined would be found in this region. Saddam Hussein, with his political and military genius, and what was known of his forecasting perceptions, found a way for the occupation forces to enter Iraq itself, after he gave up his head on a silver platter, to the enemies of the Umma.

All that I have mentioned so far does not come close to the terrorism that we are currently suffering from, and how the contrary, or the opposite, took place.

In the West, they call it Islamic terrorism, which leaves the impression that Muslims are terrorists.

The terrorists want to help Islam, and all they are achieving is harm to Muslims everywhere. They have launched a war in order to expel the infidels, which they are not, from the countries of Islam. Moreover, these foreigners, who manufactured the weapons that these terrorists use, made all that is in our countries, from the asphalt on the streets to the computers we use.

If the terrorists are the soldiers of Islam, then Islam does not need enemies. And if they succeed, they would take us back to caves and grottos; but they will not succeed, because they are the enemies of God and his people, the enemies of nature, the enemies of humanity. In their counter-defense of Islam, they achieved what Ariel Sharon and the enemies of Islam have failed to achieve, and the world currently talks about the beheading of an American or a Korean, and forgets the beheading of an entire population.

I think that if these terrorists fight Islam, then this latter would win, and the age of the first conquests will be revived.