Sunday, July 31, 2005

N.O. Muslims, Friedman, Khalidi, Zogby, Neo-Orientalists, Oil, Gaza

1) Here's an outspoken piece about New Orleans Muslims, New Orleans race, and racism. It's on a blog that I'm finding is really worth checking out for intra-Muslim discourse:

Thursday, July 21, 2005
Racial Tension in the American Umma
by Kelly Crosby

I was talking with my father one day and we get into this habit of listing all of the isues of the New Orleans Muslim community. Alhamdulillah, I am happy that I have not experienced the direct brunt of racism, sexism or any other unIslamic behavior...yet. But when I talk to some of my friends and what they have experienced, it's makes me nervous. But one of his comments stayed with me long after we finished talking. He said, "there is no way for African-American Muslims and immigrant Muslims to come together on anything in this community until we all address the problem of Muslim-owned cornerstores."

We all know about the cornerstores. I have a Palestinian friend who taught me some of the deen; his family owns such a store. It began to bother him so much that he left it and got another job. Or in his words, "I want to deal in business that's halal." These cornerstores dot the neighborhoods of poor Black people who don't have the transportation to get to the larger supermarkets. A lot of them are on government assistance so one stop to the local store takes care of everything. I wouldn't have any problems with these stores if they didn't carry certain items--namely, pork, alcohol, cigarettes and lottery tickets. For me it's mostly the alcohol but that other stuff is just as haram.

Many of these stores in New Orleans are located by housing projects where many people believe that they will live and die in the ghetto. Masha'Allah, that's not always the case as I have family members raised in the "projects" and they made it out of there. But many already believe that there is no hope for a better future.
Unfortunately some turn to drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. Some prefer to waste their money by buying lottery scratchouts. And who is the person behind the counter helping his fellow brother in humanity, this beautiful child of Bani Adam, destroy himself? It's the devout Muslim who would never drink, smoke (well, SOME of us don't) or spend our hard earned money on the lottery. This is horrible, hypocritical dawah. In fact, this is the 2nd worst kind of dawah. The 1st is the "Muslim" man who sleeps around, dumps his girlfriends (sometimes inpregnating them and asking for an abortion, eeeewww!) all the while thinking he's exempt from God's judgement just because he is a Muslim.

The subject came up because I was talking a friend who works at an Islamic school. She's the only African-American Muslim teacher amongst the Palestinian teachers and student body. So, she's basically got the burden of teaching our umma's diversity on her shoulders. She told me that sometimes, she'll hear the kids say, "Black people are dirty. They all do drugs. They're all crackheads and drugdealers." Naturally she chimes in, "Wait, I'm Black." But these young, impressionable children say, "But you're a Muslim. You're different." You see where I am going.

Where are these children getting their perceptions of Black people from and why hasn't this been addressed? They are getting their stereotypes from their parents, who just happen to own these funky stores in the poor neighborhoods. What I don't understand is how can you talk about "urban blight" when you sell the very things causing the social decay and then run right back to the suburbs where everything is clean, safe, nice, and uh...ya know. And don't think Black people have not taken notice.

I have been confronted by them, asking, why are Muslims so pious when it's their own kind but treat Blacks in such a disrespectful way? And you know what? There really isn't any answer that's suitable. This is how people start to believe that Islam, of all religions, is anti-Black. (Let's not forget the idiotic Muslim-on-Muslim slaughter in Sudan).

So what's up? When these cornerstore-owners look at their customers, why don't they see Bilal ibn Rabah (radiallahu anhu) or Nana Asma'u?

What about Malcolm X? Mohammad Ali? Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

Why go on about Muslim diversity, brag on its luminous Black figures and then wax on about how those n**gers are tearin' up the neighborhood?

Why live in fear that you may get robbed but the thief blew his money on lottery tickets that you sold him?
Or here's a real funny one. Why go on about how Black people are this and that when your sons and daughters are listening to rap, wearing FUBU, Sean John or any other hip-hop label, speaking slang, using the n-word as a term of affection for their friends and might have Black boy/girlfriends on the side?

Yeah, I went there. Or maybe it's like the comedian D.L Hugley said, "Everybody wants to be Black 'til the cops come."

Now before I move on, don't think I am laying this all on the Muslim storeowners. If you are an American adult, 21 years or older, you have the option of buying alcohol. No one is holding a gun to their head to make them buy it. You can opt for gum instead of cigarettes, beer for soda, turkey instead of pork. Remember, Blacks and Latinos are heavily targeted by liquor and cigarette companies. They intentionally put more billboards in Black neighborhoods and in Black publications (which is something those publications need to think about) promoting these things.

The only reason why I started writing this post is because of Umm Zee's hardships with Islamic schools and then I went off into this tangent as usual. African-American Muslims represent at least 33% of the Muslims in America. Maybe more. How do you think it makes us feel when we see immigrant Muslims, some we know from the masjid, selling poison to our people. Yeah, I said, "our people," not just Black people but humanity. Muslims are supposed to help cure social and cultural diseases, not spread them.

Wouldn't you be horrified if you found your daughter smoking or your son drunk out of his mind? How do you think honest, hardworking, but poor Black people feel when they come home and see the same thing? Just as all Muslims aren't terrorists, not all Black people are crooks, murderers, rapists, welfare mothers and drug dealers. You hate it when people call you "al-Qeada" or "bin Laden." Well we hate the word n**ger and I don't care how many rappers use the word, I still hate it! I would hate to be called a n**ger, just as much as you hate to be called sand n**ger.

See the connection. See how other racists view us? N**ger. Sand N**ger. In their eyes, Blacks, South Asians, Arabs, and Latinoes, are all dirty brown people. They didn't even bother to come with a new racial slur, they just added a word to an older one that still hurts to this day.

Now you know me, I'm not going to end this post on a sad note. Many Muslims from all racial backgrounds are seeing this glaring problem and are doing something about it.

Iman Central is one of those groups.

Here is an article about this group standing in solidarity with African-Americans trying to prevent yet another liquor store from opening in the community.
It's a long link so get highlight the thing then.....ya know what to do.

Click here to read Racial Tensions part 2

Racial Tensions: Part 2

What happens when you don't fill those nicely constructed stereotypes that society creates when it comes to race, color, and ethnicity? Sister Aaminah, Umm Zee, and Umm Abdullah made some good points as to why Muslim store owners don't see the sin in selling haram products in their stores. The media is not kind to Muslims but it ain't kind to Blacks and Latinoes either. It seems that after the Cosby Show went off the air, sitcoms showing successful educated Black people became scarce. You also have to take in the ganster culture which is quickly becoming intimated by young people all throughout the world. Most of the images of Black people is that of the criminal, rapper and basketball player. There's also the comedy shows, where we are the comic relief, basic Step-and-Fetch It. With the advent of "reality television" Black women have been portrayed as the you-know-what. Within two years, I have seen about 6 different reality shows with the same "type" of Black woman--mean, conniving, backstabbing, cruel, wanna be diva with an attitude. The Latina woman is still portrayed as the sexy, brainless tart or worse, the house keeper or maid who can't speak English. And sadly, though these Muslims hate to see themselves portrayed as terrorists, they easily by into the stereotypes of others. May God enlighten us to the truth of His deen to help us overcome.

But what about the politics of color in our umma? You know it's there. We are all familiar with the idolatry of light-skin and Caucasian features. I know that it's in the South Asian community. Some women use skin-lightening cream or cover their faces to avoid the sun. And there's that caste system that put dark Indians on the bottom and light Indians on the top. Many of the Hindu gods are beautiful, light skinned with coal black hair. The most popular Indian actress is Aishwarya Rai, a blue-green eyed, light-skinned woman and that's not mere coincidence. She's gorgeous but does she look like most Indian women? And that mentality has tickled into the community so the Muslims are not immune. Black people in New Orleans had a huge color hierarchy for two centuries, but now that's pretty much gone. Light-skinned Black people and dark-skinned Black people do not seperate themselves as they used to and the ones who do are looked upon as "colorstruck" and stuck in the medieval Creole past.

Entering into this racial, Izzy Mo, African American Muslim woman. Let me tell you a little about myself. I have light skin. Very light skin. I am lighter than both of my parents and sister. My parents are Black; so are my grandparents, great grandparents, and great-great grandparents. I have no living relatives from any other ethnic group and haven't had any since the 1850s, roughly. I really need to look into my family's history because I know that the various hues in my family are the result of racial mixing in New Orleans.
Yep, New Orleans was at one time the heart of Creole country--octoroons, quadroons and mulattoes. It was very common for French and Spanish aristocrats to keep Creole mistresses. It was so accepted that their French and Spanish wives lived in houses right across the street from their Creole mistresses. There was also the forced concubinage of Black slave women resulting in lighter skinned mulatto children. Think Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. Throw in the mixing between Native Americans and African Americans and what you get is Creole--Black, French, Spanish and Native American mixed together. Actually, my great, great grandmother could have passed for white, or passe blanc, as they used to call it. There is a huge blessing in having a great grandmother who can tell you some stories about your Creole speaking ancestors. But we have British, French, Irish and Scottish surnames in our family so the idea of looking up my family past just seems incredibly daunting.

I have approached by flirtateous Latino boys wondering what they were talking about. I've had other Black people ask me if I was "mixed" (as if Black people in America are purely African @@). "Are you from New Orleans?" "Do you have a white parent?" Subhan'Allah, it doesn't help that I speak English properly. Nope, I don't use slang or curse. And I get offended by this idea that in order to be "Black" you have to speak English poorly and use profanity. It's even more depressing to see Black people fall into that trap. So I got insults. "Oh, you talk like a white girl!" Why are you so proper? You ain't Black, huh?" Muslims by into these stereotypes too.

Anyhoo, as an African-American Muslima, meeting Muslims of different races has been a very interesting experience. Very interesting. Back in 2000, my Palestinian friend was shocked to discover that his new buddy was Black. "You're joining the Black Student Union? Why?" I just looked at him like he was on drugs. "You're Black? No, you're not. You're Creole." I told him that I wasn't and that Creole is not a race in New Orleans, It's a type of seasoning mixture that we put in our food like Creole gumbo. Then there was his brother who told me straight up, "You say that you're Black but you look Spanish and talk White." Did I tell you these guys have a father who owns a cornerstore in poor Black neighborhood?! What is "talking White"? They weren't fresh off the boat. They went to school with Black, White and Latino students and yet their views of race and color were stereotypical. Then there was the Pakistani woman who was shocked that I asked her to translate a part of lecture that was given in Urdu. "You don't understand," she asked with a very troubled look on her face. Alas, I became an assimilated Desi girl who couldn't speak Urdu. What terrible Pakistani parents I must have! There was the dude from Turkmenistan who couldn't believe I was American. I was Turkish. Turkish mixed with something, but Turkey had to be there. And the time I was at a Palestinian wedding and some woman was asking me if I wanted more food in Arabic. I had to ask my friend next to me what she had said. Oh! And the Arab teenage girl who told me that I could probably land an Arab husband on the basis of my ambiguous racial features. "Hey, you could pass, ya know." No, I'm not passing or denying anything.

"What are you?" "Black." "Nothing else?" "Not that I know of." I've got relatives with African features, Caucasian features, light skin, dark skin, full lips, thin lips, freckles, no freckles, high cheek bones, narrow noses, wide noses, big hips, no hips, curvy figures, ironing board figures, straight hair, curly hair and everything in between.

It's a sort of touchy subject for me but that's only because they can see Black people as being one a particular type. They don't see Black people pursing college degrees or having green eyes. They don't see us people who can do things outside of dancing, eating, singing and playing sports. They buy into culture that depicts as merely low wage earners, not capable of being intellectual or creative. A people who produce few writers, artists and scientists.

Blame it on my father. My proud, Afrocentric, former anti-racist activist father who saw the brunt of it first hand who taught me to be proud of our African ancestry. Blame it on the fact that I went to an all Black high school where the reading lists included Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston and Haki Madhabuti. It's that knowlegde of knowing what your folks have done in the past that's makes you proud and it's a shame that some of them can't see that. And what is the deal of downing people with dark skin? Last time I checked, Nigerians, Somalis and Ethiopians were some of the most beautiful people in the world. I almost deleted this post but I had to get it. I hope you won't take it the wrong way. We've got a lot of cultural barriers to overcome and hopefully, we can let Islam guide the way.

2) Here's an excellent rebuttal analysis of last week's Friedman op-ed urging blacklisting of those who disagree with him. It's from that same blog:

Putting the Spotlight on Friedman
By Mohamed A. Faraj
July22, 2005

In today’s New York Times article “Giving the Hatemongers No Place to Hide” (July 22, 2005), Thomas L Friedman simply continues on his long path of doing what he does best, i.e. acting as self-declared and passionate mouthpiece of the U.S. government. It is nothing new in the recent history of mainstream news reporting, with journalists and reporters competing with each other to score bonus points with the powers-that-be. It seems to be the great journalistic fad of our times that has journalists in bed with politicians and military authorities and academics all in one. In this arena, Friedman simply leads the way by leaps and bounds.

Take for example his recent article on the aftermath of the second wave of London bombings. His concern is that in addition to fighting the “war on terror” on the military, political, and economic playing fields, a thorough effort has to be made to deal with them on ideological grounds as well. The same line of thinking occupied the Cold War debate, where the argument was made that communism had to be discredited ideologically and the benefits of capitalism demonstrated intellectually in order to win over the hearts and minds of poor peoples throughout the Third World. Thus Friedman argues that a “war of ideas” must be vigilantly fought against the type of radical Islamist thought that promotes and feeds off hate and ignorance. His suggestion reads as follows: “We need to shine a spotlight on hate speech wherever it appears. The State Department produces an annual human rights report. Henceforth, it should also produce a quarterly War of Ideas Report, which would focus on those religious leaders and writers who are inciting violence against others.”[1]

As an example of this problem of hatemongering, Friedman uses the bookstore (called “Iqra Learning Center”) frequented by some of the London bombers. To be more specific, Friedman quotes the Wall Street Journal to reveal how this bookstore happened to be “the sole distributor of Islamgames, a U.S.-based company that makes video games. The video games feature apocalyptic battles between defenders of Islam and opponents. One game, Ummah Defense I, has the world 'finally united under the Banner of Islam' in 2114, until a revolt by disbelievers. The player's goal is to seek out and destroy the disbelievers.”[2] Now this is where most mainstream academics and journalists in the West get all tangled up and a bit hazy. This is precisely where they began to lose their consistency and fall into that shady world of hypocrisy and double standards. For unless Friedman himself is childless and therefore hasn’t ventured much into the world of video games, one cannot understand exactly how he overlooks the virulent video game culture in the West that promotes and incites hatred against Arabs and/or Muslims.

“For years, American combat video games have featured Arabs as enemies, encouraging gamers to kill anonymous Middle Easterners with barely a second thought. China is the enemy in a rash of recent games, prompting the Chinese government to ban some of them. Even the United States military is getting into the act, using games to recruit soldiers.”[3]

This, too, is nothing particularly new. Any twelve-year old with an X-Box or PS2 or computer with a competent video card and a fast processor must have been exposed to the likes of these games at some point or other. The shooting and killing of rag-headed Afghans or Iraqis (especially after the first Gulf War) in video games ideally should fall under the umbrella of “inciting violence against others”. According to David Leonard of Washington State University, who critically analyzes video games as part of “an important pedagogical project of U.S. war practices”; “Virtual war games elicit support for the War on Terror and United States imperialism, providing space where Americans are able to play through their anxiety, anger, and racialized hatred.”[4] By pointing this out, we do not contend that two wrongs make a right, nor is this a diversionary tactic used to deflect attention away from the very real and serious problems in the Muslim world. Yet it is worth noting that Friedman chooses to simply ignore the flip side of the coin, as all well-trained hypocrites are apt to do. Inciting hatred only bears value when it is “them” inciting hatred against “us”. Their video games and literature must thus be analyzed thoroughly, “exposed” and “spotlighted”, according to Friedman, so that they know that the world is listening to and watching them vigilantly. In doing so, we may conveniently ignore our own forms of inciting hatred and our own crimes. We have the magnifying glass directed towards those “others” and stubbornly refuse to use it against ourselves, presumably out of fear of what this would reveal, though this thought is rarely ever spoken.

Friedman is most probably the leading liberal U.S. mouthpiece writing in arguably the world’s most influential and far-reaching newspaper. It is therefore no exaggeration to state that his views and ideas are to be taken seriously, especially as he gives advice to the powers-that-be. Thus when someone like Thomas L. Friedman suggests that “excuse-makers” for terrorism “are just one notch less despicable than the terrorists and also deserve to be exposed”, it is safe to assume that such advice will seriously be taken into consideration. It is nothing less than advice to stifle and muffle dissent, to purge by exposition those who disagree with the views of Friedman and his official buddies. According to this logic, there is absolutely no correlation between worldwide grievances and terrorism. Actions that happen in one part of the world have no effect on what may happen some other place across the globe. There is no cause and effect relationship here, only the fluke and random acts committed by crazed fanatics. This type of deductive reasoning is quite convenient because it consciously refuses to engage the question of what conditions and circumstances breed criminality and/or terrorism.

Friedman maintains that terrorists do what they do because they are terrorists, clear and simple. He quotes Middle East expert Stephen P. Cohen as saying that “These terrorists are what they do", then slyly adds “And what they do is murder”. As if it takes a genius to figure that one out. Terrorists by nature commit terrorist acts, which by definition include murder. In any case, the logic is quite reductive. This type of reasoning is akin to the type of grade-school clichés that claim that “You Are What You Eat”. It bears no substance or clearly thought-out argument. Why is a terrorist a terrorist? What makes people engage in terrorist acts? Is it simply ideological leanings? Are there absolutely no other legitimate motives that can be included within the equation of terrorism? These clichés simply reaffirm standard and conventional thinking because they are convenient, uncomplicated, and because everyone seems to regurgitate them ceaselessly so that in the end they become self-evident truths.

To argue that terrorists are criminals and mass-murderers who deserve to be brought to justice, but at the same time to argue that perhaps some of their motivations do come from legitimate grievances, is taboo and unacceptable. Friedman, like many of his colleagues, has trouble making the distinction between “justifying” terrorism and “explaining” it. The same diligence that social scientists apply to problems such as crime and poverty, for example, and the links and correlations between the two, would not apply when it comes to terrorism. Those who engage in terrorism do so because they are inherently evil and because it’s in their nature to do so, according to the likes of Friedman. No other rationale is acceptable or tolerated, and if it is considered at all it is lumped under some derogatory category such as “excuse-making” or “justifying terrorism”. Again, the great guru of the liberal mainstream media has thereby effectively marginalized and quarantined dissent by portraying those who try to explain the motivations or reasons of terrorism (so as to better deal with it) as not much better than the terrorists themselves. Presumably, by the standards set out by Thomas L. Friedman, the Mayor of London himself, among other respectable figures, would also fit nicely into this subhuman camp, being “just one notch less despicable than the terrorists” themselves.[5]

[1] Thomas L. Friedman, “Giving the Hatemongers No Place to Hide”, The New York Times Op-Ed, July 22, 2005.[2] Ibid.[3] Nick Lewis, “How the Seductive Power of Video Games is Being Harnessed to Push Deadly Agendas”, Calgary Herald, July 9, 2005.[4] David Leonard, “Unsettling the Military Entertainment Complex: Video Games and a Pedagogy of peace”, Studies in Media & Information Literacy Education, Volume 4, Issue 4 (November 2004).[5] Andrew Sparrow, “Western policies are to blame, says Livingstone”, The Daily Telegraph, June 20, 2005.

3) Here's a defense of Rashid Khalidi, whom I pointed out disowned a plagiarized piece when it surfaced, while
Dershowitz continues to defend his own purloined produce:


Contact: Rafi Dajani
Phone: 202-887-0177

Washington, DC, July 26 - The American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) today expressed full support for Dr. Rashid Khalidi against recent charges of plagiarism. Professor Khalidi is Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University's Middle East Institute. Professor Khalidi served as president of the board of directors of the American Committee on Jerusalem (ACJ) until 2003, when ACJ was dissolved and ATFP was created in its place, at which time he served as vice-president for one year.

Professor Khalidi has recently been the target of accusations of plagiarism for an article that appeared on the now discontinued ACJ website, the byline of which had mistakenly been attributed to Professor Khalidi by an ACJ staff member. ATFP had received a number of calls from the media asking for clarification on the issue. In response, ATFP executive director Rafi Dajani responded with the following statement: "The byline to the 'Jerusalem, A Concise History' article was changed from 'By Rashid Khalidi' to 'Compiled by ACJ from a variety of sources' for the simple reason that at the time of its 2001 posting, an ACJ staffer had mistakenly attributed the article to Dr. Khalidi. Dr. Khalidi had only contributed to the article at the time and was mistakenly given full accreditation for it. Even though Dr. Khalidi was president of the board of directors of the ACJ at the time, he was not involved in any way in posting articles on, or making changes to the ACJ website, nor in supervising day-to-day activities of the ACJ. The mistake escaped unnoticed until it was brought to our attention in May 2005 as a result of the plagiarism contention. That was when the byline change was made to correct the error."

Commenting on the issue, ATFP president Dr. Ziad Asali said: "Professor Khalidi is an outstanding historian and scholar who has made invaluable contributions to our country's understanding of the Middle East, and ATFP is fully confident in Professor Khalidi's integrity. To assume that Professor Khalidi, the author of numerous books, articles and opinions would resort to plagiarism for a website article is categorically rejected. As far as we are concerned, this matter is closed."

4) James Zogby op-ed on the US immigrant experience vs. Europe's, vis-a-vis Arabs and Muslims:

The difference
James J. Zogby

There are important differences between the Arab and broader Muslim immigrant experience in Europe and that of the Arab American and American Muslim communities in the United States. First and foremost, there is the fact that America itself is different, both in concept and in reality. I have heard third generation Kurds in Germany or Algerians in France complain that they remain on the margins of their societies. With difficulty they may obtain citizenship, but not the identity of being German or French. On the other hand, becoming “American” is a process that has brought countless immigrant groupings into the US mainstream. Being “American” is not the possession of a single ethnic group, nor does any ethnic group define “America.” Within a generation, diverse ethnic and religious communities from every corner of the globe have been transformed into what we know as Americans. Problems remain, to be sure, and intolerant bigots periodically rear their heads, but as US history demonstrates, the pressures of incorporation and absorption are decisive.
“Becoming American,” in the end, means more than obtaining a passport and a set of legal rights. It also means adopting a new identity and absorbing a shared sense of history. At the same time as each new group has entered the American mainstream, the concept of America, itself, has been expanded and transformed.
I recall a rather remarkable meeting of US ethnic leaders with former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore in the White House Cabinet Room. We had been convened by the president as part of his effort to win support for his “One America” initiative, to heal the US' racial divide.

Rather spontaneously, individuals seated around the table began telling their own immigrant stories or the histories of the difficulties their communities faced as they sought acceptance in the American mainstream. At the end of this sometimes emotional session, Clinton observed that all of the stories combined were the collective American story. They were, in fact, the shared history of the “One America” he was seeking to promote.

Because of this unique American experience, recent Arab and Muslim immigrants come into a society that is more prepared to accept them and see them as enriching the already complex American mosaic. Immigration is not new to America; it defines the nation's experience. Therefore, ethnic and religious organisations abound. A foundation based on diversity and acceptance already exists with fertile ground prepared to accept new communities and to include them in the ever-broadening definition of America.
After 9/11, for example, when Arab Americans and American Muslims felt threatened by a backlash, support was immediately forthcoming from a broad coalition of Asian American, Hispanic American and African American organisations as well as a host of other ethnic and religious groups that came to our defence. It is worth noting that these groups constitute over one-third of the American people!

On this same note, it is worth pointing out the importance of the foundation built by an earlier generation of Arab Americans. Because the Arab American community has already formed comparatively strong organisations that have paved the way for acceptance, more recent immigrants, despite difficulties, find a supportive network in place. While the earlier immigrants formed groups that were secular (including both Arab Christians and Muslims from all regions of the Arab world), they have provided both support and models for more recent religion-based organisations.

Another important difference between the European and US experience is the extraordinary social and economic mobility that is possible in the US. I have heard some argue that the reason Europe's Muslims live marginalised and alienated, in ghettos, while Muslims and Arabs in the US are now integrated, is because the immigrants to the US were white-collar professionals, while those to Europe were uneducated labourers. This is simply not true. The US and Europe have each had their share of the Arab “brain drain.” At the same time, in recent decades, the US has taken in tens of thousands of North African Arabs who started as waiters; Yemenis who come as farmworkers and dockworkers, Lebanese autoworkers and Syrian steelworkers, Egyptian and Palestinian cabdrivers and poor Iraqi Shia refugees as well as thousands more from South Asia.
They do not remain in the lower socio-economic strata, because they have found that opportunities for enterprise abound. Within a few decades, for example, thousands of Yemenis worked their way out of California's fields into small business ownership in a number of states. While each new generation may experience initial hardship, the progress made by Arab Americans and American Muslims is a record to be proud of.

None of this should suggest that Arab Americans and American Muslims do not face discrimination, share deep frustrations with American foreign policy and have real concern with threats to their civil liberties. But because they are American they voice their anger and concern as citizens, not as aliens.
Events of the past two weeks are worth noting here. The day after July 7, for example, all of the Arab American, South Asian and Muslim groups were brought together in a conversation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). This was part of an ongoing dialogue and partnership with DHS and an extension of the working relationship that has been built with the new leadership at the Department of Justice.
Not only have all of the groups repeatedly condemned terrorism, but also the government officials with whom we work have continuously reaffirmed their support for the rights of these communities. The DHS conversation was followed by a community briefing with the Democratic leadership of the US Senate and a meeting with the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

None of this is to suggest that extremists do not exist here. But it is they, and not the communities themselves who are on the margins. The Arab American and American Muslim groups are ever vigilant to deal with and ostracise these elements. While this mindset existed prior to 9/11, the shock of that horror only sharpened the resolve of the community to shun extremism.

That the communities have done this while not being silenced as political constituencies sharply critical of disastrous US foreign and domestic policies is a tribute both to their viability and self-confidence, and to the openness of the US process. That's the difference.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

5) Speaking of racism...and "flying while brown":

You Can't Fight Terrorism With Racism
By Colbert I. King
Saturday, July 30, 2005; Page A19

During my day job I work under the title of deputy editorial page editor. That entails paying more than passing attention to articles that appear on the op-ed page. Opinion writers, in my view, should have a wide range in which to roam, especially when it comes to edgy, thought-provoking pieces. Still, I wasn't quite ready for what appeared on the op-ed pages of Thursday's New York Times or Friday's Post.

A New York Times op-ed piece by Paul Sperry, a Hoover Institution media fellow ["It's the Age of Terror: What Would You Do?"], and a Post column by Charles Krauthammer ["Give Grandma a Pass; Politically Correct Screening Won't Catch Jihadists"] endorsed the practice of using ethnicity, national origin and religion as primary factors in deciding whom police should regard as possible terrorists -- in other words, racial profiling. A second Times column, on Thursday, by Haim Watzman ["When You Have to Shoot First"] argued that the London police officer who chased down and put seven bullets into the head of a Brazilian electrician without asking him any questions or giving him any warning "did the right thing."
The three articles blessed behavior that makes a mockery of the rights to which people in this country are entitled.

Krauthammer blasted the random-bag-checks program adopted in the New York subway in response to the London bombings, calling it absurd and a waste of effort and resources. His answer: Security officials should concentrate on "young Muslim men of North African, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin." Krauthammer doesn't say how authorities should go about identifying "Muslim men" or how to distinguish non-Muslim men from Muslim men entering a subway station. Probably just a small detail easily overlooked.

All you need to know is that the culprit who is going to blow you to bits, Krauthammer wrote, "traces his origins to the Islamic belt stretching from Mauritania to Indonesia." For the geographically challenged, Krauthammer's birthplace of the suicide bomber starts with countries in black Africa and stops somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. By his reckoning, the rights and freedoms enjoyed by all should be limited to a select group. Krauthammer argued that authorities should work backward and "eliminate classes of people who are obviously not suspects." In the category of the innocent, Krauthammer would place children younger than 13, people older than 60 and "whole ethnic populations" starting with "Hispanics, Scandinavians and East Asians . . . and women," except "perhaps the most fidgety, sweaty, suspicious-looking, overcoat-wearing, knapsack-bearing young women."

Of course, by eliminating Scandinavians from his list of obvious terror suspects, Krauthammer would have authorities give a pass to all white people, since subway cops don't check passengers' passports for country of origin. As for sweaty, fidgety, knapsack-bearing, overcoat-wearing young women who happen to be black, brown or yellow? Tough nuggies, in Krauthammer's book. The age-60 cutoff is meaningless, too, since subway cops aren't especially noted for accuracy in pinning down stages of life. In Krauthammer's worldview, it's all quite simple: Ignore him and his son; suspect me and mine.

Sperry also has his own proxy for suspicious characters. He warned security and subway commuters to be on the lookout for "young men praying to Allah and smelling of flower water." Keep your eyes open, he said, for "a shaved head or short haircut" or a recently shaved beard or moustache. Men who look like that, in his book, are "the most suspicious train passengers."

It appears to matter not to Sperry that his description also includes huge numbers of men of color, including my younger son, a brown-skinned occasional New York subway rider who shaves his head and moustache. He also happens to be a former federal prosecutor and until a few years ago was a homeland security official in Washington. Sperry's profile also ensnares my older brown-skinned son, who wears a very short haircut, may wear cologne at times, and has the complexion of many men I have seen in Africa and the Middle East. He happens to be a television executive. But what the hell, according to Sperry, "young Muslim men of Arab or South Asian origin" fit the terrorist profile. How, just by looking, can security personnel identify a Muslim male of Arab or South Asian origin goes unexplained.

Reportedly, after Sept. 11, 2001, some good citizens of California took out after members of the Sikh community, mistaking them for Arabs. Oh, well, what's a little political incorrectness in the name of national security. Bang, bang -- oops, he was Brazilian. Two young black guys were London bombers: one Jamaican, the other Somalian. Muslim, too. Ergo: Watch your back when around black men -- they could be, ta-dum, Muslims.

So while advocates of racial profiling would have authorities subject men and women of black and brown hues to close scrutiny for criminal suspicion, they would look right past:

· White male Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people, including 19 children, and damaged 220 buildings.

· White male Eric Rudolph, whose remote-controlled bomb killed a woman and an off-duty police officer at a clinic, whose Olympic Park pipe bomb killed a woman and injured more than 100, and whose bombs hit a gay club and woman's clinic.

· White male Dennis Rader, the "bind, torture, kill" (BTK) serial killer who terrorized Wichita for 31 years.

· D.C.-born and Silver Spring-raised white male John Walker Lindh, who converted to Islam and was captured in Afghanistan fighting for the Taliban.

· The IRA bombers who killed and wounded hundreds; the neo-fascist bombers who killed 80 people and injured nearly 300 in Bologna, Italy; and the truck bombings in Colombia by Pedro Escobar's gang.
But let's get really current. What about those non-Arab, non-South Asians without black or brown skins who are bombing apartment buildings, train stations and theaters in Russia. They've taken down passenger jets, hijacked schools and used female suicide bombers to a fare-thee-well, killing hundreds and wounding thousands. They are Muslims from Chechnya, and would pass the Krauthammer/Sperry eyeball test for terrorists with ease. After all, these folks hail from the Caucasus; you can't get any more Caucasian than that.
What the racial profilers are proposing is insulting, offensive and -- by thought, word and deed, whether intentional or not -- racist. You want estrangement? Start down that road of using ethnicity, national origin and religion as a basis for police action and there's going to be a push-back unlike any seen in this country in many years.

6) Neo-Orientalism and Terrorism. Very good, but long:

By Anders Strindberg and Mats Warn
Journal of Palestine Studies
Spring 2005 Issue

In the U.S.-led "global war on terrorism," al-Qa`ida and its militant affiliates have come to serve as both symbol and explanatory matrix for a range of disparate militant groups in the Middle East and beyond. Included among these are the Palestinian rejectionist factions and the Lebanese Hizballah, despite the fact that their roots, worldviews, and agendas are inimical to those of al-Qa`ida. This article argues that the scholarly and political effort to lump together diverse resistance groups into a homogenous "terrorist enemy," ultimately symbolized by Osama Bin Laden, is part and parcel of neocolonial power politics whereby all "native" struggles against established power structures are placed beyond reason and dialogue. The authors contend that while the Palestinian rejectionist factions and the Lebanese Hizballah may be understood as local representations of the anticolonial "third worldist" movement, al-Qa`ida and its affiliates operate within a "neo-third worldist" framework, a dichotomy that entails tactical and strategic differences, both political and military. The article draws on an extensive series of author interviews with leaders and cadres from Hizballah and the Palestinian factions.

In response to al-Qa`ida's 11 September 2001 attacks, the United States declared war not merely against those who had set upon it, but against an open-ended range of "terrorist organizations and those who harbor and support them." Within two weeks of the attacks, U.S. President George W. Bush informed Congress that the new war "begins with al Qaeda, but . . . will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated." The target range quickly widened to include those without global reach and do not operate outside their direct theaters of conflict. Thus, the Lebanese Hizballah and the Palestinian rejectionist factions-that is, the factions that rejected the Oslo accords and continue to engage in military struggle -all long-standing fiends in U.S. political demonology, found themselves pushed to the head of the list of key enemies in the new war. In January 2002, Bush talked of "a terrorist underworld" that included "groups like Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad," and exhorted the world community to "eliminate the terrorist parasites."
It mattered little that neither Hizballah nor any Palestinian faction had been involved in the attack against the United States or that their longstanding policy positions explicitly rejected the ideology and modus operandi represented by al-Qa`ida as well as attacks against the United States on American soil. Sayyed Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, the senior-most Shi`a cleric in Lebanon with significant ties to the resistance, immediately condemned the 11 September attacks as religiously unjustifiable. Hizballah's deputy secretary general Shaykh Na`im Qassem contrasted Bin Laden's al-Qa`ida organization with what he called "the true base" for armed struggle: popular support for a project of national liberation, as opposed to a grandiose war for Islamic world domination. Ramadan `Abdallah, the secretary general of Islamic Jihad, called the attacks morally reprehensible and politically unwarranted. `Imad al-`Alami, a senior member of Hamas politburo, declared his organization's support for the U.S. right to pursue the perpetrators and bring them to justice. The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), along with all other significant secular Palestinian rejectionist factions, denounced the attacks.

Much of Western punditry nevertheless scrambled to make sense of the 11 September atrocities by ignoring such differences, focusing instead on a selection of iconic but superficial parallels.
Al-Qa`ida's airplane hijackings, suicide attacks, rogue state sponsors, and so forth were used to conjure images of the historic and current activities of Hizballah and the Palestinian rejectionists. Thus, given the global political importance of the new war, it seems useful to examine its underlying narratives and assumptions by comparing and contrasting key aspects of the ideology, activities, and agenda of al-Qa`ida and its affiliates, on the one hand, with those of Hizballah and the Palestinian rejectionist factions-principally the Islamist organizations-on the other.

Terrorism, Orientalism and the Advent of Usama Bin Laden

The U.S. designation of the Palestinian rejectionists and Hizballah as enemies of the United States following the 11 September attacks owes much to the power of the stereotypes and simplifications on which the American war rhetoric was constructed. In this discourse, the entrenched notion that all those classified as "terrorists" somehow share a "terrorist code of ethics" and work toward some transcendent "terrorist objective" is grafted onto the equally ingrained Orientalist ideas of "the Arab mind" and "the nature of Islam." The result is a range of interlocking neo-Orientalist imaginings of a global Arab-Islamic terrorist cabal, a monolithic and evil Enemy Other, and the negation of "Western" culture and values confirming Samuel Huntington's clash of civilizations theory. In this Manichean model, Hizballah, the Palestinian rejectionists, and their state allies Syria and Iran are lumped together without distinction with Osama Bin Laden, al-Qa`ida, and the Taliban as "enemies of the civilized world."

Applied to the Arab Middle East, today's neo-Orientalist terrorism discourse is part of a long tradition of Western "scientific" vilification of subaltern critics and opponents. Dag Tuastad has identified it as an instrument of "symbolic power" that sustains neocolonial interests through what he refers to as the "new barbarism thesis"-"presentations of political violence that omit political and economic interests and contexts when describing that violence, and present the violence as resulting from traits embedded in local cultures." Particularly glaring cases in point are the efforts to develop psychological profiles of "terrorists" that depict them as acting out mental disorders, rather than reacting to sociopolitical stimuli that can make political sense of their actions. Suicide bombers have attracted particular attention over the last decade, and an illustrative "diagnosis" offered by Joan Lachkar suggests that they suffer from borderline personality disorder brought on by "Islamic child rearing practices." Thus, suicide bombers are presented as terminal cases of a general Muslim malady. The image of "the crazy terrorist" does not so much describe an individual as degrade an entire society-native culture as a patient in need of Western medicine.

Such narratives complement the clash of civilizations theory, which tells a story of fundamentally incompatible and geographically bounded ideals. The West is defined in terms of its most "agreeable" principles-Enlightenment rationalism, individualism, democracy, tolerance (all without reference to pogroms or the Holocaust) - while the non-West is depicted as emotional, communitarian, despotic, violent, and traditionalist. These grotesque caricatures obscure the sociopolitical diversity involved in any and all cross-cultural analysis. Yet distortion of native cultures and their debilitating effects on individuals has always formed a crucial element in colonial and neocolonial domination. As Amilcar Cabral observed, it is "within the culture that we find the seed of opposition" and "whatever the material aspects of [foreign] domination, it can be maintained only by the permanent, organized repression of the cultural life of the concerned people." For this reason, Frantz Fanon noted, "the native is declared insensible to ethics; he represents not only the absence of values, but also the negation of values. He is, let us dare to admit, the enemy of values, and in this sense he is the absolute evil."

The dehumanizing and disempowering discourse that Cabral and Fanon identified is perhaps most blatant in the works of the psychologists of terrorism, but its impact is far greater in the narratives of prominent scholars who define Western imaginations of the Middle East and underpin the war on terrorism, including Bernard Lewis, Fouad Ajami, and Barry Rubin. Their images of the Muslim Arab as irrational, irresponsible, and belligerent, fanatically religious but prey to wicked passions, differ in degree, not in kind, from the anthropological treatises that once spoke of the "childlike" or "primitive Negro" in order to legitimize colonial domination of Africa under the guise of a grande mission civilisatrice.

Osama Bin Laden was a godsend to this tradition of stereotyping and vilification. Fiercely militant and zealously devout, he and his men dwelled in caves, sported turbans, kept their beards long, and appeared to shun the modern world. Their chilling rhetoric seemed ripped from the pages of the most patently Orientalist textbook.

Their spectacular and atrocious actions indicated no discernible program beyond a rejection of the West. After 11 September, Bin Laden's image within the neo-Orientalist narrative was elevated to the status of icon, empirical proof, explanatory matrix, trend indicator, and warning sign all rolled into one. Thus assisted by Bin Laden, neo-Orientalist scholars succeeded, particularly in the United States, in defining and promoting the twenty-first century version of the "white man's burden": pacifying Middle Eastern terrorism; bringing secularism, democracy, and free market economics to the natives; and making the region safe for that eastern outpost of Western values, Israel. This agenda has become the master narrative of the war on terrorism and the so-called Broader Middle East project, putting an idealistic gloss on the continuing economic exploitation and deepening political domination of the Arab Middle East. The image of a monolithic and culturally conditioned terrorist enemy is crucial to the neocolonial effort.

Third Worldism and Neo-Third Worldism

Cabral noted that national liberation movements "are not exportable commodities," but "the outcome of local and national elaboration . . . essentially determined and formed by the historical reality of each people." The neo-Orientalist narrative, however, can survive only if removed from the local and specific. Thus, its image of a homogeneous and monolithic terrorist enemy loses all credibility when the nature and agendas of Hizballah and the Palestinian rejectionists are compared, even briefly, to those of al-Qa`ida and its affiliates. The struggles of the former are territorially based, against a specific enemy, and rooted in the needs and aspirations of specific peoples. The specific national projects of these movements aim at developing institutions and empowering their constituents; they stand accountable to those they represent; and they form part of, and cooperate within, a pluralistic spectrum of ideologies and creeds. In sharp contrast but with equal specificity, al-Qa`ida's struggle is rooted in Wahhabi theology, the tribal legacies of the Hijaz and the Najd, and the cumulative experiences of Afghanistan, the Balkans, Somalia, and other theaters of war. Bin Laden's movement stands accountable to no specific constituency because it limits its struggle to no specific territory; it seeks to create an alternative to the institutions and thought of modernity; and it rejects, other than on tactical grounds, political and religious pluralism as those outside the group are seen as kuffar (infidels) or murtadun (apostates). While both Hizballah/the Palestinian rejectionists and al-Qa`ida and its affiliates are engaged in a resistance project, they are not engaged in the same resistance project. Briefly stated, the former have adopted what could be called a "third worldist" agenda, while the latter could be said to be practicing a form of "neo-third worldism."

Neo-third worldism is perhaps easiest to understand in relation to third worldism, which Robert Malley has described as a specific ideological and political construct linked intimately to colonialism and its overthrow. It was the paradigm within which individual existences were made collective, a space in which the oppressed (colonized and poor) were able to reappropriate precious means of discourse and of action. Key here is dignity, the yearning of equal status and worth that both was impelled by and grew out of decolonialization.
Neo-third worldism, as described by Vedi R. Hadiz writing about Indonesia, is not a polar opposite to third worldism but "a more inward-looking version" of it, "characterized by indigenism, reactionary populism and strong inclination towards cultural insularism . . . nostalgia for a romanticized, indigenous, pre-capitalist past." It emerged with the decline of third worldism in the post-cold war era as a "sorry riposte to the triumphalism of unbridled U.S. power." Hadiz uses the term "neo-third worldist" to signify Islamist groups and movements that define non-Islamist counterparts as enemies that must be confronted regardless of any commonalities within a "national dimension." Neo-third worldism is thus an extreme form of nativism, "the doctrine that calls for the resurgence, reinstatement or continuance of native or indigenous cultural customs, beliefs, and values."

Third worldist scholars and practitioners appear always to have been cognizant of the dangers of lapsing into neo-third worldism, for within the third worldist understanding of the anticolonial struggle, group-specific ideologies and religious doctrines often overlap with the national whole so as "to preserve the positive cultural values of every well-defined social group . . . and to achieve the confluence of these values in the service of the struggle, giving it a new dimension-the national dimension." But although anticolonial movements historically may have walked a fine line between indigenism and universalism, perhaps the most fundamental division today between Hizballah and the Palestinian rejectionists on the one hand and al-Qa`ida and its affiliates on the other is precisely the culturally inclusive and universalistic understanding of struggle of the first, versus the culturally insular and chauvinistic approach of the second.

Al-Qa`ida's unleavened cultural insularity has been clear from the outset. In 1996, for instance, Osama Bin Laden, as head of the Saudi dissident Organization for Advice and Rectification, identified a "fierce Judeo-Christian campaign against the Muslim world" as its primary political challenge and argued that "the highest priority, after faith, is to repel the incursive enemy which corrupts the religion and the world, and nothing deserves a higher priority after faith [than to] unite our ranks so that we can repel the greater kufr," that is, godlessness and atheism. This "cosmic" and sectarian dimension of Bin Laden's struggle was reinforced in 1998 when he participated in the launch of the World Islamic Front Declaration of Jihad against Crusaders and Jews. In a statement issued as a fatwa, the front announced that the "ruling to kill Americans and their allies-civilians and military-is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it." Ultimate justification, it was argued, was found in "the words of Almighty Allah," in whose name Bin Laden and his cohorts called on Muslims to "fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together."

It is noteworthy that "pagans" and "infidels" are not only Christians, Jews, and Muslim-born apostates such as nationalists and socialists, but also Shi`a Muslims. "They hate us even more than they hate the Jews," Shi`a cleric Shaykh Hani Fahs observed.

Indeed, while the five groups belonging to the World Islamic Front are geographically dispersed, all are adherents of the Wahhabi interpretation of the Hanbali school of Islamic jurisprudence, whose aggressive animosity against Shi`a Islam is deeply rooted and well documented. A significant part of the armed activity of al-Qa`ida and its affiliates in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and elsewhere has targeted Shi`a communities and institutions. At the time of the World Islamic Front statement, one Saudi Islamist remarked that Hamas would be a welcome addition to the worldwide jihad if it were prepared to "reject cooperation with those engaged in kufr"-meaning all its secular and nationalist partners in the Palestinian national movement, plus Syria, Iran, and Hizballah.

Such expressions and actions are emblematic of the insularity of neo-third worldism.

Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in early 2003, this wholesale rejection of cooperation with pagans and
infidels was modified, but only for clearly delineated tactical purposes. Shi`a Muslims, however, remained beyond the pale and continued to be seen as fair game for attack. After the al-Qa`ida affiliated Jihad wa Tawhid ("Holy War and Unity") had carried out coordinated suicide attacks in Karbala and Baghdad in March 2004, killing close to 300 Shi`a pilgrims and wounding almost 400, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, secretary general of Hizballah, railed against the "fanatic, radical, and tyrannical groups that still live in the Middle Ages, lacking brain, mind, religion, morals, but that are Muslims or claim their affiliation to Islam." Arguing that focus on sectarianism rather than national liberation was divisive and destructive, he added that "if we can surmount, isolate, and besiege this [intra-Muslim] sedition, we will bring down the gravest weapon possessed by America and Israel." Restating his point, he later remarked, with reference to the targeting of Iraqis, that, I cannot say that this is ignorance; it is treason. . . . Those who kill and target the occupiers can be classified as Islamic fighters and loyal patriots.

On the other hand, those who target the Iraqis are assassins belonging to the American caravan. They are accomplices in the American crime.

Nasrallah's lambasting of al-Qa`ida's so-called religious purity clearly demonstrates the essential "nationalism" of the third worldist perspective, be it secular or Islamist. The explanation by `Ali Fayyad, Hizballah's leading intellectual, of the theological and philosophical foundation of his party's condemnation of neo-third worldist activism emphasizes the contrast between the cultural "insularity" of the Bin Laden approach and the inclusiveness and sense of pluralism of Hizballah, as well as the Palestinian Islamist resistance groups:

We practice the idea of umma ["nation"], taken from the root amma, which means "to go," "to move forward,"
"to have some place as your destination." The idea is that a group has a common objective, a common goal to struggle for. This means that the umma must be a flexible and not rigidly conceived. . . . There may be many roads towards reaching this goal, not just one. This differs from the conception of the umma as a group, which is held by the Wahhabis.

Their conception of the umma does not imply plurality, they believe in one solid entity. Our conception
involves plurality. Taking this from the theoretical to the practical level, it enables us to say that the umma includes a variety of parties, currents and sects.

All these are Muslims, those concerned with the faith and those who are not. Even secular Muslims are a part of this umma. This is completely different from the thought of the Wahhabi movements. . . . By extension, this implies that the conception of the umma may also include non-Muslims, Christians and Jews. . . . If we apply this notion of the umma, we can never endorse the notion of takfir [declaring Muslims to be apostates].
Osama Hamdan, Hamas's representative in Beirut, similarly suggested that Wahhabi militancy as embodied by al-Qa`ida and Jihad wa Tawhid "are efforts to create a fitna ['brotherly strife'] or crises within this umma, which would naturally benefit U.S. interests and contradict the interests of the resistance in the region." Since the early 1990s, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have pursued a strategy of infitah ("opening") aimed at establishing and maintaining a Palestinian national dialogue across sectarian and factional divides, thereby creating momentum for a territorially based national liberation struggle. As Islamists, they have adopted, and incorporated themselves into, a national project, consistent with the "outreach" approach of third worldism.
One way of understanding these differences in the use of Islam as an instrument of resistance has been suggested by the Iranian philosopher Abdolkarim Soroush. He has argued that "one of the greatest theoretical plagues in the Islamic world" is that some Muslims are "gradually coming to understand Islam as an identity rather than truth." Describing what is certainly a neo-third worldist trend, Soroush deplores the tendency of growing numbers of Muslims to commit themselves to Islam as a means of resisting the centrifugal powers of globalization, rather than as divinely revealed truth. To him, the commitment to Islam as identity is, "by its very nature, belligerent and bellicose," while a commitment to Islam as truth-in the sense of the divinely revealed foundation of knowledge and action-"can coexist with other truths. . . . I don't argue that Muslims have no identity but that Islam should not be chosen for the sake of identity."

The Palestinian Islamists were not always open to such pluralism.

In the early years of its existence, Hamas activists clashed with members of the secular Palestinian factions, especially the PFLP, in part due to power rivalries, but also because of a view of the atheist Marxists as apostates. As the PFLP's Abu Khalil recalled, "Hamas was rallying around slogans such as 'The people of the book'-the Jews-'are closer to us than the reds.'" While Hamas's initially high-pitched religious rhetoric was successful in creating a distinct group identity, eventually it became clear that the focus on "authentic Islamic identity" and confrontation with other nationalist forces hampered its own national project. After all, Hamas's central indictment of the PLO was based on the latter's failure to bring about national liberation, and Hamas's own emergence was intended to provide a more effective channel for that project. Indeed, Hamas's founding charter stated that "nationalism, from the point of view of the Islamic Resistance Movement, is part and parcel of religious ideology." Hamas's realization that undue emphasis on identity was counterproductive set in motion a process of political adaptation that changed its relations with the secular resistance. The change is clear in the distinction made by a senior cadre from the PFLP-itself fiercely opposed to Islamic politics-between the "enlightened Islamism" of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizballah on the one hand, and the "darkness and irrational fanaticism" of al-Qa`ida, on the other.

The melding of religious and nationalist objectives had already been introduced into the Palestinian arena by Islamic Jihad, which, since its establishment in 1979, worked within an ideological framework influenced by the Islamic revolution in Iran. Situating itself within the Khomeini school of Shi`a Islamic thought, the Sunni Islamic Jihad demonstrated not only cross-sectarian tolerance but also incorporated a strong commitment to the themes of social justice, egalitarianism, and national liberation that permeate Shi`a political thought and activism. It was therefore able to cooperate with, as well as challenge, the PLO leftists.

The Palestinian Islamists' focus on nationalism became evident at the time of the 1993 Oslo accords. Speaking about the Alliance of Palestinian Forces, the cross-factional assembly established in response to Oslo's Declaration of Principles, `Imad al-`Alami noted that, "we did not need to debate whether alcohol should be permitted in a future Palestinian state or whether banks should be allowed to charge interest. The first step had to be to work together to guide the national movement back onto a correct course." Osama Hamdan has similarly noted that "the Palestinian situation requires all these forces and trends to center on one common objective, to end the occupation. There is no monopoly on the cause, and it is important that everybody is in the movement so that, if it is shaken, it is, as a whole, able to stay the course because of the firm principles shared by all, the liberation of the homeland."

"Not a Clash of Civilizations…"

As noted above, the neo-Orientalist insistence that Arab-Islamic "terrorism" is part of an ongoing clash of civilizations rests on the notion of culturally conditioned differences between "our" and "their" fundamental values-secular versus sacred, modern versus primitive. This dichotomy in turn draws on the notion that modernity is universal in application but necessarily Western in form and content: to be modern, one has to act, think, and consume like a Westerner (or, rather, like the idealized self-image of the civilization theorists). This perspective has been evangelized with increased political fervor since the war on terror was declared.
Al-Qa`ida's understanding of Islam as identity arguably validates the clash of civilizations hypothesis insofar as it constitutes an inverse version of it. However, this position is fundamentally challenged by the Palestinian rejectionists and Hizballah, whose main quarrel is not with the Enlightenment ideals per se but with the Western failure to apply those ideals to subordinates in the neocolonial order. This distinction is in part connected to divergent understandings of the legitimacy of the current structures of global politics: al-Qa`ida rejects the so-called Westphalian nation-state system in its entirety, attacking it "from the outside" with an ultimate aim of bringing about a new Islamic order. Hizballah and the Palestinian rejectionists, on the other hand, accept the basic parameters of nation-state geopolitics and seek to rectify its flaws rather than destroy it wholesale. This difference is perhaps natural, as Hizballah and the Palestinian rejectionists are rooted in the political experiences of constituencies defined by the nation-state, while al-Qa`ida's struggle is simultaneously rootless and transnational and therefore transcends any specific nation-state context. In the words of Olivier Roy, al-Qa`ida adherents "are indifferent to their own nationalities. Some have several. . . . They all define themselves as Muslim internationalists and link their militancy to no particular national cause."

To al-Qa`ida and its affiliates, the West and Islam represent fundamentally irreconcilable values that are pitted against each other in a struggle for cultural and religious supremacy and survival. By contrast, Hizballah and the Palestinian rejectionists view the rhetoric of "the clash of civilizations," like that of "terrorism," as a cover for Western, specifically U.S., neocolonialist interests and actions. Hizballah's Na`im Qassem, for example, sees the Huntingtonian paradigm as a "smokescreen" for dodging discussion about the ongoing battle between those who seek to "rule by strength" and those resisting political and economic subordination. "This battle has a history that stretches far back in time," he noted, but "it is not a clash of civilizations, but rather one of influence and hegemony, of new markets being created in favor of the arrogant powers."

The argument that the Arabs need to pull themselves up by their bootstraps-what Barry Rubin calls their "paralyzing and obsessive" preoccupation with blaming the West for their predicaments rings hollow to those who know that any activism against a neocolonial system that perpetuates the region's democratic deficit will be instantly crushed. In the words of Fadlallah, We do not see that there is any conflict between us and the West concerning the intellectual outline on the idea of civilization, yet we do have problems with the Western . . . regimes that seek to control the economies and policies and security of the Muslim world. [For them,] talk of freedom and democracy is the talk of freedom to implement Western interests and a superficial kind of democracy, rather than democracy in any profound sense of the word. These regimes do not wish the people around here to practice real freedom because that practice may well contradict the interests of these Western regimes, the big business monopolies, and prevailing economic, political, and security interests. . . . We believe that the Arab world and the Muslim world-maybe the whole third world-suffer from the problem of having to move in circles that place obstacles in the way of their development and self-determination. There is a situation where the foreign powers, the great arrogant states, impose conditions on the people of these parts of the world, like placing an iron necklace around their necks, in terms of economy, politics, knowledge. . . . The various kinds of dictatorships that are present in the Arab, Muslim, and the third world are linked to colonialization or the issue of hegemony.

It is this situation that explains, according to Fadlallah on another occasion, "why aborting democracy is associated with the West." Moreover, the economic interests and rising consumerism promoted under neocolonial domination have obvious implications for nationalist-oriented political activism and the entire resistance project to the obvious benefit of the local gendarme, Israel. In this regard, according to the analysis of a senior PFLP cadre:

The new American culture here is intended to separate individuals and groups from each other-"I control this, he controls that" so that everyone may have a new suit of clothes as well as a new way of thinking, both of which would make you a foreigner to the region. This is what Israel needs, aggravating ethnic and sectarian problems, taking a mosaic and making sure that none of the pieces fit together anymore. This has been started in Iraq. If they succeed, they will transfer it to the next arena in the region, smash it to pieces, move on, and so forth. Meanwhile, Israel can sit back and watch the resistance against it disappear . . .

The clash of civilizations theory fails to explain how Hizballah and the Palestinian Islamists have bridged the supposedly unbridgeable gap between secular and sacred, or the longstanding overlap between the two, in the manner of Eric Rouleau's suggestion that Islamism is "the continuation of the [nationalist] movements that failed, although with an Islamic face." Indeed, Gamal Abdel Nasser himself spoke of Islam as one of "the three circles" that "should be the theater of our [revolutionary] activity" (the other two circles being the Arab world and Africa). "In the West, you sometimes find a diffuse and generalized image of Islam as excluding or rejecting 'others,' but this view is wrong," argued Na`im Qassem. "Within Islam," he explained, there is a flexibility that allows for the concord between Islamic, nationalist, and patriotic topics, as these may cover common ground. If, from a religious point of view, the declared topic is to liberate the land, then one should liberate the land. From a nationalist viewpoint we believe in independence, and from a patriotic standpoint we cooperate with those who, like us, are damned, for the sake of our common geographical origins. So there is no clash or conflict between us, there is instead a sanctioned policy among us.

"A Human Being with no Dignity has no Life"

Robert C. Young, a leading theorist of postcolonialism, has suggested that violence in the course of anticolonial resistance fills, in part, a psychological function. It offers "a primary form of agency through which the subject moves from non-being to being, from being an object to subject." The colonial and neocolonial system brutalizes its subjects-natives and settlers alike-by consecrating violence as the sole available mechanism for settling conflicts, while proscribing only the violence by those who resist the status quo. Yet for these latter, violence is seen as a desperate means to stand up for oneself and one's community.
"Wherever people feel that their dignity is trampled upon," argued Abu `Imad al-Rifa`i, Islamic Jihad's chief representative in Lebanon, people will rise and resist.

Look at the killings [in Palestine], the destruction of homes, the checkpoints, the unethical practice by Israeli soldiers against women and children. Palestinians cannot sit idle while they see these violations of their dignity. . . . A human being without dignity has no life. I don't think that a human being can live without dignity, and if he does, then he ceases to be a human being."

Beyond its psychological function, revolutionary violence also has a more "traditional," instrumental function: to inflict damage on the enemy. This is true both for the third worldist Hizballah and the Palestinian
rejectionists and the neo-third worldist al-Qa`ida.

Given the asymmetry between them and their antagonists within their respective theatres of conflict, they seek to create and maintain a painful balance of terror; to "level the playing field." Thus, following the attacks of 11 September, Bin Laden stated that just as they're killing us, we have to kill them so that there will be a balance of terror. This is the first time the balance of terror has been close between the two parties, between Muslims and Americans, in the modern age. American politicians used to do whatever they wanted with us. The victim was forbidden to scream or to moan . . .

Hizballah and the Palestinian rejectionist factions also talk of a balance of terror, but there is a crucial difference: Because the struggle is territorially defined and politically limited, it can be brought to an end. Abu Ahmad, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad, argued:

We have told the Israelis numerous times that if they stop attacking our civilians we will stop attacking their civilians. . . . Then give us our land and our rights and we will live in peace and security. Yet they don't want that. . . . So what should we, as Palestinians, do? In Lebanon, Hizballah forced the Israelis to withdraw from the land, and after the withdrawal they did not go after the Jews. We also want the Israelis to withdraw from our land. If our rights cannot be given to us in peace, then we'll have to fight for them. . . . We only want to live like humans. If the Israelis recognized our rights and left us alone so we could establish our state, we would not kill one single Jew, neither civilian nor military. This is our standpoint.

The Palestinian rejectionist factions have repeatedly declared a willingness to implement a hudna ("truce") with Israel. From the early 1990s onwards, Hamas leaders have openly declared their conditions for a long-term truce with Israel. While it is true that al-Qa`ida and its affiliates see themselves as engaged in an eternal struggle against infidels and pagans, it is simply not true that Hamas (or any other Palestinian rejectionist faction or Hizballah) "has pitted itself in a mortal confrontation" with the Jews. The same applies to confrontation with Israel's primary political backer and material supplier, the United States. While al-Qa`ida and its affiliates seek to attack American civilians on American soil, Hizballah and the Palestinian factions have deemed such action both immoral and fruitless. Nai`m Qassem explained that al-Qa`ida has adopted a position against the Americans to go after them directly. They have declared this and expressed that they will confront the American presence wherever the U.S. may be present in the whole world, whereas Hizballah's choice has been entirely different. Hizballah perceives that the confrontation must be restricted to the Israelis where they are occupiers of the land, and that does not involve going after all the Jews in the world, or even going after the Israelis wherever they may be present in the world. Therefore Hizballah's [and al-Qa`ida's] projects are poles apart. . . . Hizballah's project has to do with liberating the occupied land whereas al-Qa`ida's project is about confronting the U.S. directly as an international hegemon. So those who examine the background closely will find a clear distinction between these movements. . . . Yet the American view does not distinguish between Hizballah and [al-Qa`ida] and one main reason for that is America's global ambition: Any one who disagrees with U.S. policy is classified as "terrorist," regardless of whether he attacks U.S. directly or whether he only promotes a conviction contrary to the American order.

"We Want the Same Solution as South Africa . . ."

The refusal by the global powers to recognize the lack of, and need for, self-determination, equality, and dignity in the Arab world is perhaps best encapsulated in the nonresolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the West's willingness to overlook Israel's ongoing defiance of international norms. Israel was created and enlarged by territorial conquest, ethnic cleansing, and annexation in violation of the Geneva Conventions and UN resolutions, yet the world community has for half a century been unable or unwilling to force it into compliance with international law. Tuastad argues that Israel's deftly marketed emphasis on self-defense against "barbarism"-Arab aggression and Islamic terrorism-has allowed it to "diverge from questions concerning refugee return or giving up conquered territories," and that "racist imagery and 'terrorist' or 'Arab mind' labels serve as powerful images of a non-civilized Other" that understands only brute force and repression. Because of the seeming carte blanche Israel has been accorded by the international community, it has come to be seen by many in the third world as the most glaring symbol of Western colonial impositions and neocolonial hypocrisy. It is for this reason that, in the words of Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad:

For Muslims, Palestine is a cause. It represents the demand for the right of a people to self-determination, democracy and freedom. It is also the demand that the West recognize that an Arab person is equal to a European person, or as some Palestinians put it, that a European Jew is not better than a Palestinian Christian or Muslim and has no superior right to rob, destroy, expel, kidnap, or kill without consequences.
It is Israel's symbolic value that allows Islamist groups and individuals removed from the actual conflict, such as those within the al-Qa`ida network, to identify it as a primary enemy. In their embrace of Islam as identity rather than truth, as Soroush put it, these neo-third worldist Islamist groups see Israel as symbolic of the Jewish people, which justifies in their minds attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions wherever they may be. A similar justificatory mechanism is applied to the United States and Americans.

For the constituencies of Hizballah and the Palestinian rejectionists, on the other hand, Israel is not simply a symbol of their woes but the direct source of dispossession and humiliation.

Consequently, they are not engaged in some symbolic reaffirmation of "authentic identity," but an actual life-and-death struggle.

Hence, their rejection of Israel and its legitimacy bears little resemblance to that of al-Qa`ida. While the policy position of al-Qa`ida is squarely anti-Jewish, the policy positions of Hizballah and the Palestinian rejectionist factions are anti-Zionist, and, regardless of the populist conflation of the two terms, there is a clear conceptual difference. Thus, the factions base their refusal to recognize Israel on their direct experience of Zionism as Jewish ethno-religious hegemony and oppression, not on some wish to expel Jews from the region. Some factions have always espoused this position. Already in the late 1960s, the PFLP, for instance, argued that The Palestinian liberation movement is not racist or hostile to the Jews. It is not aimed at the Jewish people. Its aim is to break the Israeli military, political and economic entity which is based on aggression, expansion and organic unity with the interests of imperialism in our homeland. It is against Zionism as a racist aggressive movement in alliance with imperialism. . . . The aim of the Palestinian liberation movement is the establishment of a national democratic state in Palestine in which the Arabs and Jews can live as equal citizens with regard to rights and duties . . .

Even factions that have been more ambivalent or more radical have gravitated toward similar positions, a process that has gone largely unnoticed among those whose narratives define the Western debate. A significant building block in this intellectual process was the success of the African National Congress (ANC) in bringing about an end to apartheid in South Africa. Leaders of secular rejectionist factions repeatedly invoke the parallel and point out that a unitary South African state for all citizens did not lead to the exodus or expulsion of the whites. "We want the same solution as in South Africa," explained Fadl Shururu, politburo secretary of the PFLP-GC and senior editor of al-Quds Palestinian Arab Radio.

No one told the ANC to accept that the blacks should be relegated to the Bantustans, to accept the legitimacy of the apartheid state just because it was strong. . . . Now they have one state for one people, the South Africans, blacks and whites. No one pushed the whites into the sea. This is what we want in Palestine.
This rejection of ethnic exclusivism is shared by Hizballah and the Palestinian Islamists. Naof Musawi, a high-ranking Hizballah official, for instance, emphasizes that his movement's calls for "eliminating Israel" do not imply ethnic cleansing but "the destruction of a racist system founded upon Zionism. . . . This is comparable to what happened in South Africa where the elimination of a racist system did not involve the killing or expelling of whites. So why not eliminating a racially defined state in Palestine?" Even Islamic Jihad, generally regarded as the most radical and hard-line of the resistance organizations, sees South Africa as an example to be emulated, while nonetheless doubting its feasibility. Abu `Imad explained:

I don't see that such solution in Palestine is possible [although] we accept coexistence with the Jews in this land, especially the Jews and their descendants who lived here before the first Zionist conference in 1897, which proclaimed Palestine to be the land of the Jews. Throughout Islamic history Jews have been able to live in this region in dignity; they lived in peace and their situation here was far better than that of the Jews in Europe. . . . We have nothing against Jews as Jews; we are hostile against the occupiers as occupiers. We accept coexistence with Jews because they are a part of the regional environment; we accept them as human beings,but will not accept them when they become criminals and killers.

The rejectionist factions' own view of their position on Israel can be summarized as the "rejection of Israel's right to practice state racism." From their perspective, recognition of Israel as a Zionist state-founded on the expulsion without redress of 750,000 Palestinians and self defined as a "state for the Jews" would concede the racial superiority of one group over another. It would also endorse the ethno-religiously based "right of return" for world Jewry to its biblical homeland after well over a millennium at the expense of the Palestinians' right of return to the homes and properties from which they were expelled scarcely a half century ago. "If they want to end Palestinian rejection of Israel's right to exist," suggested Suhayl Natur, member of the DFLP's central committee, "they simply have to give us the minimum rights that enable us to live next to each other in mutual acceptance. . .. We want our inalienable rights as laid out by the international community through the UN. We don't demand anything more than the UN resolutions, but we will not accept anything less."

All the evidence, as manifested in declarations and actions, suggests that the objectives, ideologies, and modi operandi held by the al-Qa`ida network, on the one hand, and the Lebanese and Palestinian resistance movements, on the other, are virtually antipolar. According to the neo-Orientalist narrative, however, they are all essentially identical; they are all bent on the destruction of the West, and must therefore all be hunted down and destroyed. Is this narrative the result of poor research and scholarship, or a willingness to serve as "intellectual hit men," deliberately conjuring up distorted and fraudulent images in the service of neocolonialist agendas?

Whatever the case, the influence wielded by the neo-Orientalists in the corridors of power contributes to and sustains policies that are not only flawed and misguided, but ultimately dangerous. At the receiving end are peoples whose dispossession, humiliation, and anger are quietly reinforced. These are the "voices of the periphery," robbed of legitimacy by neo-Orientalist teachings and pushed further to the margins of political discourse. In Palestine, demands that the West take seriously its own standards of human and political rights are condemned as extremism. The objective of replacing ethnocracy with democracy is written off as genocidal yearnings. The struggle for a life in dignity in accordance with UN resolutions is condemned as terrorism. What will be achieved? Once the third worldist movements have been sufficiently weakened and muted, the stage is set for the emergence of neo-third worldist groups willing to channel the frustration and hopelessness of Palestine as an enduring symbol of neocolonial hubris and domination into a pitched battle between races, sects, and religions. The neo-Orientalists will then be able to turn around and say, "you see, we said so all along. They really do hate us for our values. . ."

7) Iraqi oil article. Note the eagerness this author has for privatizing Iraq's oil industry, which will lead to a
nirvana for all concerned:

Reconstructing Iraq: Bringing Iraq's Economy Back Online
by Gal Luft
Middle East Quarterly
Summer 2005

Before the war in Iraq began, many policymakers and oil industry experts believed that Iraq's oil industry, with the second-largest proven reserves of light crude in the world, would recover and provide most of the funds needed for Iraq's reconstruction. On March 27, 2003, for example, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said that Iraq's oil revenues could bring between US$50 and $100 billion within two or three years following the country's liberation. "We're dealing with a country that can really finance its own reconstruction, and relatively soon," he said.[1] Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi promised that American oil companies would have a "big shot at Iraqi oil."[2]

Such optimism was unwarranted. More than two years after Saddam Hussein's statue fell, the performance of Iraq's oil industry is far below prewar expectations. Looting, sabotage, neglected infrastructure, and mismanagement have all curbed production and kept major oil companies away from Iraq. But the Iraqi leadership could reverse this trend should it learn to manage its vast oil resource in a productive way, ensuring it becomes an engine of growth and prosperity rather than a curse.

Untapped PotentialIn 2004, Iraq's oil production averaged 2.4 million barrels per day (bpd), well below the
coalition's stated goals of 2.8 to 3 million bpd and even lower than the 3.5 million bpd Iraq produced prior to 1990.[3] After deducting Iraq's own domestic needs, an average of only 1.5 million bpd is left for exports, a level lower than that of the prewar period. As a result, total oil revenues are just over $25 billion.[4] This figure would have been far smaller if not for last year's sharp jump in oil prices.

To many policymakers, the underperformance of Iraq's oil industry seems mundane. But it could be not only the most critical element determining success or failure in reconstructing Iraq but also an important issue to the global economy. With demand for oil soaring due to the Asian economic boom, the need for Iraq's oil is more pressing than ever. As the consumer of a quarter of the world's oil and leader of the coalition in Iraq, the United States has the highest stake in having Iraq's oil industry operate at full throttle.

What makes the disappointment with the Iraqi oil industry's failure so deep is the scope of potential oil
resources that rest beneath its sands. There are many estimates about Iraq's oil reserves. The Energy Information Administration of the Department of Energy suggests Iraq has over 112 billion barrels of proven reserves, roughly a tenth of the world's total. Other petroleum analysts believe the country's reserves may be twice as high.[5] They may well be right. Of all the oil producing countries, Iraq is perhaps the least explored. There are only 2,300 wells in Iraq, compared with one million in Texas alone. Only ten percent of Iraq has been explored.[6] Only 17 of 80 fields discovered and evaluated in Iraq are operating, most of them clustered around Kirkuk in the north and Rumaila in the south.[7] Two decades of isolation have taken their toll. Virtually no exploration has occurred in recent years, and what little has was without the benefit of
sophisticated exploration techniques.

Such potential wealth might catapult Iraq to a high place in the list of major oil producing countries. But the industry is burdened with structural and regulatory problems. The Baathist government nationalized Iraq's oil industry in 1972, slamming the door on foreign ownership or investment. Under sanctions (1990-2003), the industry suffered from neglect and lack of investment, which precipitated a steady decline in production. Under the Oil-for-Food program (1996-2003), Iraq could only export two million bpd in exchange for food and medicine. While the Iraqi government produced oil in contravention to sanctions, the industry had neither the capability nor the incentive to modernize. With political stability and sufficient investment, Iraq may be able to bolster production to as much as six million bpd by 2010 and eight million bpd by 2020. To ramp up production to such levels, Iraq will have to attract billions of dollars in foreign investment, a level contingent on achieving better security.

The Sabotage CampaignVarious spoilers have waged an all-out war against Iraq's vital economic infrastructure, first and foremost among which is the country's web of pipelines, pumping stations, wells, refineries, and terminals. Since the April 2003 end of major hostilities, insurgents have targeted oil more than 220 times.[8] They spared no part of the 4,000-mile pipeline network. Attacks on the pipeline running from Kirkuk to the Turkish port of Ceyhan have severely curtailed Iraq's exports. Every day that this pipeline is not operational, Iraq's tottering economy loses $7 million.[9] In March 2004, terrorists began targeting oil installations in the south near Basra where more than two-thirds of Iraq's oil is produced. There has also been a shift in insurgent focus from export lines to the complex network of pipelines feeding the refineries in and around Baghdad and the Bayji refinery complex 125 miles north of the capital. The insurgents' intention is to prevent Iraq's nascent government from providing basic services. In November and December 2004 and in January 2005, for example, insurgents simultaneously struck all three crude oil pipelines connecting the northern fields to the Dawra refinery in Baghdad, the nation's largest producer of gasoline, kerosene, and other products, and the main source of fuel to Baghdad's main power plant.[10] The campaign of oil terrorism is directed not only against infrastructure but also against those who operate it. Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi masterminded a campaign against truck drivers who import fuel from Turkey.[11] Terrorists have murdered senior members of the country's oil industry. On March 29, 2005, the head of Iraq South Oil Company, Iraq's largest state-owned oil company, narrowly escaped assassination.[12] Many firefighters, security guards, oil engineers, and workers have quit their positions because of terrorist intimidation.

Altogether, the sabotage campaign has reduced Iraq's oil production by approximately one million bpd. Iraq's oil minister, Thamir Ghadban, estimated lost export revenue from sabotage at about $7 billion in 2004.[13] As oil prices continue to climb, the loss of potential revenue grows. At current oil prices of roughly $55 per barrel, this constitutes a loss to the economy of $15-$18 billion per year.

Not all of Iraq's failure to rebound is of its own making. Too many interests in and outside of Iraq have a stake in preventing it from becoming a major oil producing country. Sunni insurgents target oil in order to undermine the efforts by the coalition and Iraq's interim government to rebuild the Iraqi economy. The precision and sophistication of the attacks raises suspicion that former members of Saddam's oil ministry aid the sabotage campaign. Shi'ites attacked oil facilities in response to coalition operations in Najaf last summer.[14] Jihadists from across the Muslim world attack oil as part of their holy war against the West. They hope their attacks will cause oil prices to soar, damaging the American economy. In mid-December 2004, Arab satellite channels aired an audiotape message by Osama bin Laden in which he called on his cohorts to attack the oil industry in order to disrupt supplies to the United States from the Persian Gulf.[15] Two days later, a follow up statement by the Saudi branch of Al-Qaeda was published, calling on "all mujahideen ... in the Arabian Peninsula" to target "oil resources that do not serve the nation of Islam."[16] These statements reflect the post-9-11 reality in which terrorists see the world's energy system as "the provision line … to the artery of the life of the crusader nation."[17] "The killing of ten American soldiers is nothing compared to the impact of the rise in oil prices on America and the disruption that it causes in the international economy," one jihadist website declared.[18] The sabotage campaign could affect the U.S. economy. The financial burden of reconstruction rests upon the United States. If Iraq cannot pay for its own reconstruction, U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill. This coupled with high oil prices could worsen the U.S. trade deficit and unemployment.[19] Many jihadists are even willing to sacrifice their lives in order to hurt the U.S. economy and deny Iraqis oil revenues. On April 24, 2004, three suicide boats attempted to destroy the Basra terminal zone, Iraq's only offshore export outlet in the Persian Gulf.[20] Had the attack succeeded, it would have cut Iraq's oil revenues to almost zero.

The countries surrounding Iraq are not enthusiastic about the prospects of its economic revival. Their financial interests may allow some countries passively if not actively to support insurgents. The House of Saud is concerned about the prospects of democratic Iraq and even more so by the empowerment of Iraqi Shi'ites. Such a development could bring about destabilization of Saudi Arabia by its own Shi'ite minority, which is concentrated in Saudi Arabia's oil-rich eastern province. Any unrest in this region could significantly weaken the Saudi government and devastate global oil markets. Neither is Iran, for its part, eager to see a prosperous Iraq on its border. Should Iraq rejoin the small club of giant oil producers, the gradual increase in Iraq's OPEC quota would come at their expense. A conservative estimate is that between 1990 and 2003, Saudi Arabia raked in at least an extra $80 billion and Iran an extra $24 billion from having absorbed Iraq's quota.[21]

Neither Saudi Arabia nor Iran has done much to prevent insurgents from crossing their borders into Iraq. Terrorism specialist Reuven Paz compiled the names of jihadists identified by Islamist websites and newspapers as killed in Iraq between September 2004 and March 2005. Sixty-one percent of these were Saudis. Syrians accounted for little more than 10 percent, and Iraqis just 8 percent. More than two-thirds of those carrying out suicide attacks were also Saudis.[22] With an active military manpower of 150,000 men[23] and with no immediate enemy threatening its territory since Saddam's ouster, Riyadh would have been better equipped to seal the border than the nascent Iraqi army or the otherwise engaged multinational forces in Iraq. Instead, the Saudi government told U.S. officials that if terrorists crossed the Saudi-Iraqi border, then it was the U.S. responsibility to stop them.[24] Syria, for its part, might have also been the source of some of the saboteurs who blow up pipelines in the north.

Though it is difficult to determine exactly who stands behind the attacks, one thing is clear: the insurgents are well organized and technologically savvy. In order to prolong disruption, they go after critical junctures in the pipeline system and focus on equipment that is difficult to repair or remanufacture. "They know what they are doing," Aiham Alsammarae, the Iraqi electricity minister, said. "I keep telling our government, ‘Their intelligence is much better than the government's.'"[25]

The Impact of the Oil WarThe insurgents' sabotage campaign has hurt the morale of the Iraqi people and affected their attitude toward occupation. Despite its huge reserves, Iraq suffers from an endemic shortage of refined petroleum products, forcing it to import half its gasoline and thousands of tons of other refined products such as heating fuel and cooking gas. Angry Iraqi drivers spend hours in line for gasoline at Baghdad's gas stations. Exacerbating the problem is the more than 50 percent rise in domestic oil consumption. The number of private cars has tripled. Gasoline is widely used to power home generators that are much needed due to the low reliability of the power system. While the coalition and Iraqi government struggle to restore electricity to prewar levels, domestic demand has increased because of the postwar, custom-free import of freezers, air conditioners, and other power-hungry appliances. Unlike in the United States where only about 3 percent of electricity is produced from oil,[26] most of Iraq's power plants operate on petroleum. Any disruption in oil delivery immediately creates power outages that add to Iraqis' vexation with their government and the coalition. The cycle creates a Catch-22: without power, the Iraqi oil industry cannot function. Electricity is needed to inject water to the oil wells to maintain reservoir pressure and to operate refineries and pumping stations.

The sabotage campaign also has an impact on Iraqi economic development. To meet its growing needs for foreign exchange, Iraq must begin to develop its untapped reserves, especially those in the western desert. Under normal circumstances it takes between five and ten years to translate reserves into production. This means that investment in new capacity should begin as soon as possible so that sufficient revenues can be generated toward the end of the decade. But Iraq is, today, considered the riskiest destination for foreign investment of any of the world's emerging markets.[27] Some of the world's largest international oil companies, such as Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch/Shell, and ChevronTexaco, have indicated an interest in developing Iraq's oil resources but without security and a hospitable investment climate, they are unlikely to send skilled workers and expensive equipment to Iraq or make the multi-billion dollar investment required. "There has to be proper security, legitimate authority, and a legitimate process ... by which we will be able to negotiate agreements that would be longstanding for decades," Sir Philip Watts, chairman of Royal Dutch/Shell, said. "When the legitimate authority is there on behalf of the people of Iraq, we will know and recognize it."[28] While many potential Iraqi fields sit idle, foreign oil companies are scrambling to find entry into Libya where the lifting of sanctions allows a safer outlet for investment.

Making Iraq CompetitiveIraq's ability to become a top oil producing country depends on three factors: a secure environment, infrastructure investment, and good governance. The most urgent priority for stability is defeat of the insurgency. Beyond this, the government will have to bolster efforts to protect critical energy infrastructure. In the months following Saddam's fall, the Coalition Provisional Authority entrusted oil security to private contractors. These contractors, in turn, hired tribal interests to guard oil installations at a monthly rate of over $1,000 per mile secured. This approach failed largely because the tribes began to compete amongst each other. Losers would blow up pipelines and oil wells in the territory of the tribe that won the contract in order to prove the successful bidders' incompetence.[29]

Toward the end of 2004, responsibility began to shift from foreign contractors to the indigenous security forces. The Iraqi Oil Ministry today employs about 14,000 guards to protect oil facilities all across the country. Some 2,000 guards have been posted in the area north of Baghdad and along the pipelines running from Kirkuk. The remaining 12,000 are in the south, whose oil terminal accounts for more than 80 percent of Iraqi exports.[30] That sabotage is concentrated in the Baghdad and Bayji regions indicates that the Iraqi government should deploy more guards to this vulnerable region.

Technology might also play an important role in the effort to secure Iraq's oil infrastructure. As a result of
progress in high-resolution remote sensing and image processing technology, it is now possible to deploy sophisticated surveillance systems, including small and medium-sized unmanned aerial vehicles and unmanned helicopters to survey critical areas. Some defense contractors are even developing unmanned aerial vehicles mounted with lethal weapons for use against saboteurs. New technologies for seismic sensing of underground vibrations can provide early warning when saboteurs approach the protected area. Naturally, such systems are expensive and would add to the production cost of Iraq's oil. But over the long run, better security is likely to pay off since it will attract foreign investors and reduce the number of costly disruptions. Furthermore, these technologies rely on small numbers of rapid-response teams and eliminate the need for large numbers of security guards.

Should the country be unable to afford such technologies, it should invest in mechanisms to minimize the damage attacks can cause. The cheapest and most effective way to protect a pipeline is to bury it or prevent easy access by surrounding it by walls and fences. Pipes can also be fortified with external carbon fiber wrap that can mitigate the affects of explosive devices. Equally important is shortening the lead-time between the attack and the repair. Saboteurs often target pipelines at critical junctions or hit custom made parts that take a long time to replace. As a result, ruptured pipelines are often out of operation for weeks. To reduce the lead-time, pipeline operators should be equipped with sufficient repair teams as well as inventories of spare parts.
Even if security forces quelled the sabotage, the Iraqi government would still need to invest considerable funds to replace aging equipment and leaky pipes, train its oil workers, and overcome wasteful and environmentally damaging practices. In most oil producing countries, for example, gases separated from oil prior to the refining process are captured and turned into usable products. In Iraq, due to lack of relevant infrastructure, they are simply burned. The first step needed in order to generate sufficient income to meet reconstruction needs is for Iraqi export facilities to be repaired and upgraded. Absorptive capacity is also a problem. The Iraqi government has nearly $8 billion in bank accounts it cannot use. Throwing money at problems is not enough if there is a lack of skilled labor and security. Iraq's most important export facility is Mina al-Bar on the Persian Gulf. The facility, which was heavily damaged during the 1991 Kuwait war, can handle just half of its original capacity. Another exit to the Persian Gulf is located at Khor al-Amaya, which has not been in operation since 1991. Substantial repairs need to be made in both terminals in order for Iraq to be able to ramp up its Persian Gulf exports. Similar effort is needed in the other outlets in the north. The government is planning to invest $3 billion in its oil infrastructure in 2005 and increasing sums thereafter.[31]

In addition to physical security, foreign investors also need political stability and financial security. Dealing with an interim government is risky because there is no guarantee that subsequent governments will honor contracts. This is why it is so critical that elected government officials project in their private and public statements a sense of stability and continuity. It is also important that the elected government handle Iraq's oil wealth with care, providing transparency and accountability to the people of Iraq and the international community at large. Iraqi officials have already indicated that the new government will open its oil business to foreign investment and allow foreign energy companies to bid for oil and gas concessions.[32] Former Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi promised in January 2005 that "economic policy will move away from government intervention and allow private investment. The state will no longer monopolize everything, including the oil sector, except for the upstream, which will be under the jurisdiction of the elected Iraqi government."[33] Experience with privatization efforts in other countries shows that privately held energy infrastructure generates greater efficiency and higher profits than projects run by centrally-planned and state-owned entities. But privatization will not be an easy process. After decades of tight government control over the oil market, the Iraqi oil industry is unaccustomed to a strong private sector and open market practices. Additionally, Iraqis see oil as part of their national identity; many still believe that the United States invaded Iraq to seize its oil.[34] They are, therefore, averse to the idea that part of the country's oil reserves be controlled by foreigners.

Privatization will also require the introduction of a new pricing system to the heavily subsidized market of refined petroleum products. In Iraq, government subsidies keep gasoline prices so low that it can be purchased for about five cents a gallon. Such low prices encourage not only inefficiency and over-consumption but also sustain a black market and an industry of fuel smuggling to neighboring countries. Privatization is likely to entail a painful rise in fuel prices that many Iraqis cannot afford. To persuade the public that privatization of the oil industry is for the good of the people, the government should guarantee that the process takes place gradually and in a fully transparent manner. The public aversion to high fuel prices could be overcome by providing low income Iraqis with ration stamps for fuel. Ordinary Iraqis should realize that despite the problems, a privatized oil industry is the best way to ensure high revenues for the Iraqi economy, better living standards for the Iraqi people, and the return of Iraq to a leadership role in the world community. Successful privatization could also serve as a model for other state-owned oil industries in OPEC countries, hence weakening the cartel's domination of the energy markets.

Most important, as Iraqis lay the foundations for a democratic future, their leaders should think how to ramp up oil production and become a major oil producing country while avoiding many of the pitfalls and social illnesses associated with over reliance on natural resources. With the exception of countries such as Canada and Norway, most oil economies have failed to utilize their oil wealth for the benefit of the people. Democracy in these countries is either flawed or nonexistent. There are, however, positive examples of oil producers that introduced potentially useful models to address the problem economists call "natural resource curse." Norway set up a trust fund in which oil revenues are kept for the benefit of future generations. In Alaska, oil revenues are distributed directly to all citizens, and in Chad, the World Bank mandates that nearly three-quarters of the royalties are spent on health, education, and poverty reduction. Such models can only succeed in countries with honest or, in the case of Chad, independent monitoring.

As a new democracy, Iraq might explore similar models. With very little other than oil to offer the world, Iraq
will continue to rely on oil revenues as a key element of its economy in the years to come. But it is the country's ability to develop its human resources and diversify its economy that will guarantee future economic and social stability. If every dollar invested in oil production is matched by at least a dollar invested in education and the creation of a private sector and manufacturing economy, Iraq could become the first functional market economy among the major oil exporting countries. Failure to diversify the economy will invite corruption, uneven distribution of wealth, a disgruntled population, authoritarianism, human rights abuses, and growing radicalization—all of the scourges from which Iraq had to be liberated in the spring of 2003.

Gal Luft is executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security.

[1], Apr. 15, 2004.[2] The Washington Post, Sept. 15, 2002.[3] Iraq Index, Tracking Variables of Reconstruction and Security in Post-Saddam Iraq (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, Mar. 25, 2005), p. 21.[4] "Crude Oil Export," Iraq Weekly Status Report, U.S. Department of State, Mar. 16, 2005, p. 18.[5] Gal Luft, "How Much Oil Does Iraq Have?" Iraq Memo #16, Brookings Institution, May 12, 2003.[6] Newsweek, July 5, 2004.[7] Lawrence Kumins, "Iraq Oil: Reserves, Production, and Potential Revenues," Congressional Research Service, Sept. 29, 2003, p. 1.[8] Iraq Pipeline Watch, Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS), Mar. 28, 2005.[9] Associated Press, Sept. 8, 2003.[10] The New York Times, Feb. 21, 2005.[11] Reuters, Oct. 16, 2004.[12] Bloomberg (New York), Mar. 30, 2005.[13] Agence France-Presse, Jan. 2, 2005.[14] Iraq Pipeline Watch, Aug. 14, 2004.[15] Agence France-Presse, Dec. 16, 2004.[16] Associated Press, Dec. 20, 2004.[17] CNN News, Oct. 14, 2002.[18] "Insurgents Heed Call to Attack Oil Pipelines," SITE Institute, Washington, D.C., Nov. 3, 2004.[19] Milton Copulos, America's Achilles Heel: The Hidden Costs of Imported Oil (Alexandria, Va.: The National Defense Council Foundation, Sept. 2003), pp. 40-53.[20] Reuters, Apr. 24, 2004.[21] Based on an average price of $20 per barrel and Iraqi base production capacity of 3.5 million barrels per day.[22] Reuven Paz, "Arab Volunteers Killed in Iraq: An Analysis," PRISM Series of Global Jihad, no. 1/3, Mar. 2005.[23] "Saudi Arabia," Middle East Military Balance, Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies, Oct. 10, 2004.[24] Energy Security (Washington, D.C.), Jan. 21, 2004.[25] The New York Times, Feb. 21, 2005.[26] "Electricity Generation," Energy Information Administration, Washington, D.C., Mar. 2003, accessed Apr. 5, 2005.[27] The Economist, Feb. 26, 2005.[28] Financial Times, July 24, 2003.[29] Associated Press, Nov. 30, 2004.[30] Energy Intelligence, Dec. 16, 2004.[31] The New York Times, Mar. 3, 2005.[32] The San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 26, 2005.[33] The San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 30, 2005.[34] Ibid.

8) Why Gaza withdrawal is not a panacea:

“Gaza Withdrawal Does Not End Occupation:West Bank and East Jerusalem Settlements Matter Too”
Summary of Lecture by Geoffrey Aronson
For the Record, No. 229 (4th of 4 in Series) /
28 July 2005

Israel has said it will pull its settlers out of the Gaza Strip by the end of 2005, however “everything Israel is doing in the West Bank today is aimed at increasing its ability to command the future there,” said Geoffrey Aronson, Director of Research and Publications at the D.C.-based Foundation for Middle East Peace and Editor of its bi-monthly Report on Israeli Settlement in the Occupied Territories. Addressing the increased Israeli settlement activity and Wall construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Aronson argued that a comprehensive peace remains elusive despite Israel’s unilateral Gaza disengagement plan.

Speaking on 21 July 2005 at the D.C.-based Palestine Center’s 2005 Intern Lecture Series, “In Pursuit of Peace: Dialogues on Final Status,” Aronson said that despite protests from settler and Zionist groups in Israel, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is moving forward with his plan to remove Israel’s settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip. Some 8,000 Israeli settlers control 20 percent of Gaza and one-third of its coastline, Aronson said. The settlements support relatively successful light manufacturing and textile industries as well as a profitable agricultural sector, which are geared toward Israeli and European markets. While many on the Right in Israeli oppose the Gaza disengagement, Aronson said pointedly, “That train has left the station.” He added that by the end of 2005, the U.S. and the international community can expect an end to Israel’s “effective direct control over the Gaza Strip.”

According to Aronson, there are several contentious issues concerning Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, such as what to do with the settlement buildings and infrastructure that will be vacated. The 1,100 units of housing that comprise the Israeli settlements, formerly the center of fierce debate, are set to be demolished in mid-August. Aronson noted that the Palestinian Ministry of Planning has said their existence there is “an obstacle to the effective utilization of this land by Palestinians.” However, much of the infrastructure, such as settlements’ potable water, electric and telecommunications systems, would be very useful to Palestinians. Nevertheless, Aronson observed that Palestinians would gain little by acquiring Israeli agricultural equipment because they would still lack sufficient markets and transportation to make the industry viable. The main obstacle to the creation of profitable agricultural enterprises in Gaza is therefore “access to secure markets” as well as “transparency and regularity in the export process from Gaza to Israel.” Neither of these two elements are addressed by the evacuation itself, and will therefore be the source of further tension, said Aronson.

Aronson believes Israel has no intention of withdrawing its troops or settlers from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. While Israel is preparing to remove settlers from Gaza, the Jewish population in other sections of the Occupied Palestinian Territories has been increasing at an annual rate of 3 to 5 percent, mostly in the larger West Bank settlements, Aronson said. These large settlements, many of which are considered middle-class suburbs and are indistinguishable in appearance from the homes and suburbs in Israel, are located almost exclusively on the western (i.e., Israeli) side of Israel’s separation Wall, thus effectively annexing them to Israel. “Israel’s definition of security includes protecting these settlements,” Aronson observed, even though they are not part of Israel based on the 1967 borders.

Aronson said that East Jerusalem, which is home to some 175,000 settlers, has not seen significant population growth due to a combination of the harsher climate and political tensions between a large Palestinian population and an ultra-orthodox Israeli community. Aronson explained that the population in the eastern, more traditionally Arab side of the city “has stagnated” as young, educated Israelis move toward the coast.

The most visible manifestation of Israel’s intention to stay in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is the Wall, which includes three large swaths of Palestinian territory and is well on its way to completion, said Aronson. Incorporating 80 percent of West Bank settlements into Israel, Aronson stressed that the route of the Wall is “a function of the settlement map and don’t let anyone tell you anything else.” Aronson argued that the barrier not only “affects the livelihoods and the everyday existence of tens of thousands of Palestinians who find themselves cut off from their lands or major centers of commerce,” but he said it also has negative implications for Israel. “West Jerusalem once again becomes a dead end,” said Aronson, pointing to the economic and labor losses resulting from its territorial and geographic separation from Palestinians.
Aronson argued that American and Palestinian leaders’ lack of adequate data on the geographic realities facing Palestinians contributed greatly to Palestinians’ current hardships. “One of the problems that the Palestinian community has faced has been the lack of interest demonstrated by its political leadership in the maps,” said Aronson. “The Israelis never permitted the [Oslo] negotiations to center on discussions over the maps themselves.” He explained that Israeli negotiators focused on “vague principles” rather than territorial viability, which was in Israel’s interests but disadvantageous for Palestinians.

While acknowledging some possible benefits from Israel’s withdrawal of its troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip, Aronson was quick to note that the “evacuation” itself does not mean an end to Israeli’s occupation of Palestine. Israel’s construction of the Wall, along with its other policies toward the Palestinian people and land, are intended “to consolidate Israel’s occupation, and not to undermine it,” said Aronson.

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