Archive for the ‘Arab’ Category

For Obama, No Higher Priority Than Arab-Israeli Peace

November 21, 2008

The election of Barack Obama to be the 44th president is profoundly historic. We have at long last been able to come together in a way that has eluded us in the long history of our great country. We should celebrate this triumph of the true spirit of America.

By Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski
The Washington Post

Election Day celebrations were replicated in time zones around the world, something we have not seen in a long time. While euphoria is ephemeral, we must endeavor to use its energy to bring us all together as Americans to cope with the urgent problems that beset us.

When Obama takes office in two months, he will find a number of difficult foreign policy issues competing for his attention, each with strong advocates among his advisers. We believe that the Arab-Israeli peace process is one issue that requires priority attention.

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U.S. Unrelenting in Drone Attacks on Pakistan’s Terrorists

October 31, 2008

Despite repeated protests from the government of Pakistan, the United States continues to wage an unrelenting remote control effort to hunt down and kill Arab terrorists, Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas near Afghanistan….

From the Associated Press

Suspected U.S. missiles slammed into two villages Friday, killing 27 people including foreign fighters in the latest strikes inside Pakistan, intelligence officials said.

One of the raids targeted an Arab militant identified as Abu Kasha Iraqi, but it was unclear if he was killed, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Department of Defense (DOD) image of a Predator surveillance ...
Department of Defense (DOD) image of a Predator surveillance drone. A suspected US missile strike in a Pakistani tribal area on Friday killed at least 16 mainly Arab militants, possibly including a mid-level Al-Qaeda commander, security officials said.(AFP/DoD/File/Jeffrey S. Viano)

Suspected U.S. unmanned planes have fired at alleged militant targets in Pakistan at least 17 times since mid-August, putting pressure on extremists accused of planning attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan — and perhaps terror strikes in the West.

But the marked uptick in their frequency is straining America’s seven-year alliance with Pakistan, where rising violence is exacerbating economic problems gnawing at the nuclear-armed country’s stability.

Scores of foreign al-Qaida members are believed to be hiding out in the lawless border area, which is considered a likely hiding place for Osama bin Laden.

The United States rarely confirms or denies firing the missiles and the identities of those killed are also rarely made public. Locals frequently say civilians, sometimes women and children, are among the dead.

The first attack place in Mir Ali village in North Waziristan after drones had been flying overhead for several hours, the intelligence officials said.

The drones fired twice, hitting the house frequented by the Arab fighter and a nearby car, killing 20 people, the officials said, citing reports from agents and informers in the field.

Around two hour later, a second set of missiles hit a village in South Waziristan, killing seven people, including an unspecified number of foreign fighters, the officials said.

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U.S. Calls Raid a Warning to Syria

October 28, 2008

By Ann Scott Tyson and Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post staff writers
Tuesday, October 28, 2008; Page A01

U.S. troops in helicopters flew four miles into Syrian territory over the weekend to target the leader of a network that channels foreign fighters from Syria into Iraq, killing or wounding him and shooting dead several armed men, U.S. officials said Monday.

U.S. officials have long complained that the Syrian government has allowed Arab fighters to pass through the country to enter Iraq, but since last year, top military leaders have praised Syrian efforts to curb the flow. In recent months, officials have estimated that as few as 20 fighters a month have been crossing into Iraq, down from more than a hundred a month in 2006.

But officials said the raid Sunday, apparently the first acknowledged instance of U.S. ground forces operating in Syria, was intended to send a warning to the Syrian government. “You have to clean up the global threat….

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Bush’s successor faces Mideast conflicts

October 19, 2008

By Joshua Mitnick
The Washington Times

TEL AVIV | The next U.S. president will inherit two live tracks of Arab-Israeli negotiations and may find himself weighing in on internal Palestinian politics as well.

Though experts believe that the global financial crisis will knock the Arab-Israeli conflict down on the new administration’s priority list, both U.S. candidates have promised to continue the elusive search for Middle East peace.

A deadline set by the Bush administration for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord by the end of this year is widely considered to be unachievable. The next president will decide whether to extend the negotiating framework inaugurated by President Bush last year, try something new or put the process on the back burner.

While there has been a lull in Israeli-Palestinian fighting, political conditions for an accord are far from ideal. The Israeli government is in transition, while the Palestinian Authority remains weak and at odds with a breakaway Hamas-led regime in the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, there has been only modest progress on confidence-building measures such as relaxing Israeli military restrictions and boosting the Palestinian economy.

Will the new U.S. president choose to invest precious political capital on a diplomatic long shot?

Ignoring the problem risks giving a moral victory to Hamas, Hezbollah and their Iranian allies, who will point to expanding Israeli settlements and the Israeli separation barrier as evidence that a Palestinian state in the West Bank is an illusion.

“Time is kind of running out. Things are getting worse. We’ve got to do something about the Arab-Israeli conflict,” said Steven Cook, a Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. On the other hand, he said, “Why would he [the next president] want to get involved with something so hopeless?”

Neither Democrat Barack Obama nor Republican John McCain has specified how they would reinvigorate the peace process. Instead, the candidates have offered differing views of the regional consequences of not resolving the conflict which hint at the priority each might place on pushing forward negotiations.

Mr. Obama has spoken more emphatically about the urgency of a resolution, describing the status quo as “unsustainable.” Echoing the views of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr. Obama…

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What’s In A Name (January 1, 2008)

January 1, 2008

By John E. Carey
Updated January 1, 2008

A friend who works near where I work is from India.  His name “Naresh” means King.  He must have very hopeful parents! Koumba is a woman from Africa.  Her name means “First Girl.”

Num Pung means “Honey Bee” in Thailand.  Her mother ate honey comb while pregnant.

Alam is a Bangladeshi name meaning glorious or magnificent. It is usually a boy’s name.

Names fascinate me.  Those from the sphere of the Western European influence frequently choose Bible names or Old English names for their offspring. 

Native American youths earned their names for centuries; or were given meaningful names from tribal lore or from nature’s beauty. 

Many Asians have lyrical, almost poetic names; my wife among them.  She is called Honglien or “Pink Lotus.” By coincidence, my friend from Nepal, Kamala, has the same name: Kamala translates to “Pink Lotus.” 

A comman man’s name in Nepal is “Ram.”  Ram means, “Guard of Hindu.”  WOW!  What a great name!

Other men’s names from Nepal include Mukti (”Freedom”) and Diwakar (”Sun”).

In Vietnam one of my favorite man’s name is “Nghi” (pronounced like “knee”).  It means standing straight and tall, standing at attention or really moral and honest.

Africans often bestow meaningful names upon their children.

One customer of mine is an African named Shaka.  He told me he is named for the greatest warrior of all time: Shaka who united the  Zulu nation in Africa. He said Shaka is viewed and respected for his military adeptness like Attila the Hun or Alexander the Great. 

Islamic people have some wonderful names. Monzer (as with all of our names there are various spellings) means “One Who Warns” or “The Warner.”  It is good to name a little girl baby Rahil, which means “innocent.”

The first thing we have to clarify is this: in our modern world, we tend to lump people and even races into groups like “Native American.” When Columbus arrived in North America there were as many as 500 Tribes; many with languages as different as Chinese is from English. The tribes also had many cultural and religious variations. So as we open this discussion, I penalize myself from the start because I am prone to fall into the trap of lumping people together in huge and unnatural generalities like “all Asians” even though I know that is not correct. I know the Vietnamese are vastly different from the Philipino, for example, even though both are Asians. Even among the Vietnamese there are several “tribes” and cultures.

I have an acquaintence from Thailand named Wantanee.  It means “The Greeter.”   Put your hands together as if in Christian prayer and bow: that’s “The Greeter.”

I have been blessed to know many different people from different parts of the world. Some of my Native American friends, that come from different tribes, have names like “Wild Horse,” “Truth to Tell,” “Comes Killing,” “Soars with Eagles,” and my favorite of all: “Shot-to-Pieces.”

I have been told that many Native American earn their names through some act of bravery or some other memorable event. A young boy that kills a bear might be called “Bear Slayer” for example.

Many who trace their lineage back to Christian European nations might have Bible names. I am named for John the Apostle and we celebrate his Feast Day in the Catholic Calendar on this day. My brothers have old English names: William and Thomas. My sisters also have traditional English names: Pamela and Elizabeth. My cousin is Edward as in Edward the Confessor, I think.

Charles means “manly” or “strong.”  I’ll bet you didn’t know that!

I’ve met many people that think Cynthia is an old English name.  Actually, it comes from Greece.  The meaning of the girl’s name Cynthia is “from Mount Kynthos.” It was one of the names of Artemis, the goddess of the moon, and it refers to her birthplace on Mt. Kynthos.

The name Michael comes from the Hebrew name which means “He Who Is Like God.” Pretty good name. In the Catholic Church, Michael is the number one angel or Archangel. His feast day is September 29, a day he shares with the other top angels: Raphael and Gabriel. Across America many parishes are named for Saint Michael or Raphael or Gabriel.

Michael is a common name in Spanish speaking countries (Miguel), Arabic and even Russian. My name John becomes Juan in Spanish and is also translated into other languages.

Colin means “Victory of the people.”  The name is derived from Greek but became a common name in what is now Britain.  Traditionally the “O” was soft but American’s have taken to say a hard “O” as in Colin Powell.

The Japanese have a lot of terrific names.  Aika means Love Song.  Keiko means Blessed Child.

I am married into a Vietnamese family and each of the Catholic Vietnamese have a Vietnamese name and a Christian name from the Bible. I know a woman named “White Swan” in Vietnamese. Many of the names are terrific!

My wife Lien is also called Mary Magdalene. Mary “M” was a friend of Jesus that may have had a jaded past. I tell people Mary Magdalene “started wrong but finished strong.” Both our parish priests are called John the Baptist. My mother in law is Mary and a Vietnamese friend is Joseph.

But there are some unusual Vietnamese names and this custom spills over into other Asian cultures. The last child of the family might be called “Last One.” I know of a family that has, translated from the native language, a “Last One” and a “Late Mistake.” A particularly tiny Baby might be named “Little Peanut” or something like that.

The Vietnamese name “Hien” means “Gentle.”

I had a Thai friend that swore her father named her “Cucumber” because she was so small and cute.  The Thai name “Wantanee” means “One Who Greets” or “Greeter.”

Another Thai I knew a long time ago was named “Far,” which means sky or more correctly, “clear blue sky.”

Many African and African American names have meaning. A girl named Wangari should know that she has a name from Kenya that means “Leopard.” Mwamba is a Tanzanian name that means “Strong.”

I met a man named Mr. Erhunmwunse on April 2, 2007.  His name means “My Prayers Have Come True” in his native Nigeria!

Ethiopian names are among my favorites: Kalikidan means “promise,” Adonich means “healing,”  Assefa is an Ethiopian name that means “expansive” or “to widen,  “Zelalem” means”Forever” and Lulseged means “King.”

A woman in Ethiopia might be named “Alem.” It means “World.”

The Bangladeshi name “Rowshanara” means “bright” and is my second favorite name from that part of the world after “Amina.”  Amina means “Trusted One.”

Rowshanara is actually the Persian or Farsi word meaning bright — even though the Rowshanara I know is from Bangladesh.

Amin being the root word for “trust.”  Amina is also a common name in Nepal.

Another great Bangladeshi name for a woman is Farida.  Farida means “Unique.”  Another man’s name is “Sariful” which means “Modest.”

Let’s get back to Rowshanara.  My favorite Rowshanara works in a 7-11 near my house.  She is short and thin and “bright” and very beautiful.

This past Sunday I stopped for milk at the 7-11 and found Rowshanara trapped in the refrigerated food case.  Instead of refilling the case from behind, she opened the front door for a front fill.  She is so small that she needed to stand on the bottom shelf.  She is so thin that the glass door closed!

I knocked on the glass door and said, “So this is what a refrigerated Bangladeshi Rowshanara looks like!”

I freed her and she couldn’t stop laughing!

“Jali” is a Bangladeshi name that means “happy thing.” Not a bad name!

Many Indian words have made it to the regular English vocabulary. Most of them were added during the British imperialistic rule over India from spanning from 16th to 20th century. More than five hundred words of Indian origin were absorbed into English during that period and it has grown ever since.

Currently the Oxford English Dictionary lists over 700 words of Indian origin.

Rowshanara’s boss at the 7-11 has an Indian name that translates into “Happiness.”

Names come and go and what is popular today will undoubtedly be passe a few years from now. Sarah Womack wrote in the (London) Telegraph on December 21, 2006, that “Mohammed, and its most common alternative spelling Muhammad, are now more popular babies’ names in England and Wales than George, reflecting the diverse ethnic mix of the population. “

She continues, “Spelled Muhammad, it is the 44th most popular name and enters the top 50 for the first time along with Noah, Oscar, Lucas and Rhys. “

Rhys? I must be getting old.

My purpose here is only to interest the uninitiated in the vast world of names with meaning. Do a word search for your name or the names of your friends and you might be surprised.

Part of the richness of any culture is its language and one facet of the many sided jewel that is language is the vast array of names parents bestow upon their children.

The article above has been updated many, many times.  Although we continue to learn the meaning of new names, we have finally “locked” “What’s in a Name.”

from Thailand:
“Kanalya” means “Subdued, Cool, or Behaving with Style.”

From India:
“Rohini” is a woman’s name meaning “lightening!”
“Igin” means “Sunshine.”
“Dipti” is a woman’s name meaning “source of light.”

From Arabic (He grew up in Kuwait)
“Mahmood” means “gifted.”

From Ethiopia:
Yework Wuha means “Gold Water” or “Liquid Gold.”
Sehay means “Sunshine.”
Tewodros means “Gift of God.”
Genet means “Heaven.”
Almaz means “Diamond.”
Negussie means “King.”

From Nepal:
Jay means “Victory.”
Surya means “Sun.”

“Azim” means “The Greatest.”
“Habib” means “Beloved.”
“Wahid” means “Unique.”
“Karim” means “Kind.”

From Korea:
my neighbor’s name is “Oh So Young.”

“Nahida” means “Ali’s Power.”

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“Gaffe Machine” Karen Hughes Leaving State Department

October 31, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 31, 2007

An American gaffe machine gets set to go home.  Good riddance.  No amount of costuming on this Halloween can convince us that Mrs. Hughes made a valuable contribution to U.S. foreign policy.

We are not big fans of the U.S. State Department these days so the announcement that Karen Hughes will leave and return to Texas didn’t break any hearts here.

Mrs. Hughes was give her cushy Foggy Bottom job by her pal George W. Bush. When she came to State — amid much publicity and hoopla — the world was informed that Mrs. Hughes would take charge of “winning over the world’s hearts and minds.”

Mrs. Hughes was supposed to restore respect for America and highlight the importance of America’s lustrous democracy.

Mrs. Hughes didn’t exactly impress anyone in the world outside of her buddy at the White House.

Officially, Mrs. Hughes is Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

On her fist major trip as America’s “Goodwill Ambassador,” Mrs. Hughes proved that she was a gaffe machine with little knowledge of the Arab world.

John Brown wrote in The Second Coming of Karen Hughes on August 9, 2007 in the Huffington Post: “her infamous ‘listening tour’ to the Middle East in the fall of 2005 — was ridiculed by both the US and international media as an illustration of her ignorance (she disclosed, to an Egyptian opposition leader, that our Constitution cites “one nation under God”) and lack of cultural sensitivity (she offended some Saudi women by reproaching them for not having the right to drive). After that disastrous overseas venture, she seemed to keep a lower profile, and by 2006 was practically off the media radar screen, especially during the Second Lebanese War. When she did engage in rare (for her official position) public events (many directed to American audiences to show them how good we US citizens were because of our compassionate-conservative aid to less fortunate foreigners) she was not infrequently criticized, including by the right-wing media, which accused her of being too accommodating to Muslim organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).”

Today, the Fox News Channel is extolling Mrs. Hughes’ many accomplishments and achievements. They even allowed Mrs. Hughes to go on screen to brag about, well, herself.

U.S. Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs ... 
Charm machine turned into a gaffe
machine right in front of the world.

But polls show no improvement in the world’s view of the U.S. since Hughes took over. A Pew Research Center survey earlier said the unpopular Iraq war is a persistent drag on the U.S. image and has helped push favorable opinion of the United States in Muslim Indonesia, for instance, from 75 percent in 2000 to 30 percent last year.

“The great irony of this administration is that its opponents credit it with being masterful at spin,” wrote Mr. Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post on September 3, 2006.

“When it is in fact pathetic in managing its messages and its collective image. Whatever small credit Bush was gaining for becoming more realistic about Iraq was quickly wiped out by the controversy created by sharply partisan speeches of Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld last week in the latest example of a gang that can’t spin straight,” Mr. Hoagland concluded.

When asked by NBC News reporter Brian Williams on August 29, 2006 why there is so much anti-American sentiment and out-right hatred for America in many parts of the world., President Bush said “We are great with TV but we are getting crushed on the P.R. [Public Relations] front.”

About a month later Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld mused, “The enemy is so much better at communicating. I wish we were better at countering that because the constant drumbeat of things they say — all of which are not true — is harmful. It’s cumulative. It weakens people’s will and lessens their determination, and raises questions in their minds as to whether the cost is worth it.”

So if the President and his cabinet were Mrs. Hughes’ “customers,” it is difficult to find them happy about her performance.

We were ourselves so distressed by Mrs. Hughes that we made up a word to describe her gaffes: “Misunderspinning.” She just couldn’t get the hang of the spin game and often looked over her head.

And what have former Secretaries of State said?

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said: “Are Iran and Syria regimes that I look down upon? I certainly do. But at the same time I’ve looked down on many people over the years in the course of my military and diplomatic career and I still had to talk to them.”

Powell made the observation on “Face the Nation,” the CBS Sunday morning talk show with Bob Schieffer last December.

Secretary Powell has no illusions that a dialogue with Iran, for example, would change their direction in the pursuit of nuclear weapons, but most former Secretaries of State adopt the position that “Talking and engagement with all nations can have some merit.”

But the official policy of the White House and the State Department was not to dialogue with Iran, North Korea and Syria.

At about the same time that former Secretary Powell made his criticisms, the Iraq Study Group headed by another former Secretary of State, James Baker, and former Rep. Lee Hamilton — a noted expert in international thinking — were saying that America should engage all nations and not ignore places like Iran.

Secretary Powell’s position and that of Mr. Baker and Hamilton rests in sharp contrast to that of President Bush and the current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who branded Syria, Iran and North Korea members of the “Axis of Evil” and broke all relationships and dialogue with these nations at the start of the war against terror in 2001.

Still, the commission said, “Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively.”

Another former Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger, has also made remarks disparaging to the “no-discussion diplomacy” of Secretary Rice and Mrs. Hughes.

When asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr on November 19, 2006, about Kissinger’s plan to remove U.S. troops from Iraq, Dr. Kissinger responded, “At some point I think an international conference – at some early point an international conference should be called that involves neighbors, perhaps the permanent members of the Security Council and countries that have a major interest in the outcome, like India and Pakistan.”

So the spin coming from the State department today is that Karen Hughes made a wonderful contribution and many “achievements.”

Frankly, we view her collective time at State as a gigantic mistake that should have resulted in an even earlier termination.

Village People Need Not Apply

July 7, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
July 7, 2007

Spotting a bumper sticker that said, “China Out of Tibet: Free the Tibetan People,” I took pride and applauded to myself those among us that seek to help the oppressed, free the imprisoned, and tend to the needy.

According to the organization “Boycott Made In China,” China occupied Tibet in October 1950. Since then 157,000 Tibetans have been executed, and 266,000 tortured to death in a continuing campaign to crush all opposition to Chinese rule. Tibetans are now outnumbered by Chinese immigrants in their own country, and are treated as second class citizens in every respect. Many thousands have died or lost limbs to frostbite trying to escape to India via Nepal, by trekking across 400 miles of icy Himalayan mountains.

The Tibetan people look harmless to most people. Many are nomadic herders that follow their Yaks across the gassy lands of Tibet.

The Tibetan people remind me a little of the aboriginal or tribal people of Vietnam. Many dispute the best way to refer to these people, but most call them the Montagnards. My Vietnamese-born bride calls them “The Village People.” But I told her we might move away from this nomenclature because to many, “The Village People” are a rock and singing group of unknown sexual orientation.

The Montagnards assisted the United States during the war in Vietnam. They are oppressed, rounded up and killed, or chased from their mountainous nomadic life by the communist government of Vietnam to this day.

Most people say, the hatred and cruelty shown the Montagnards stems from their support for the U.S. and Democratic Republic of Vietnam during the war. I suspect there is another factor at play too: like the Tibetan herders, the Montagnards are in the way of progress and easy prey for any sort of organized armed force, however small.

In fact, I have a theory that established government, especially those trying to expand and exploit the available land, do not have much use for nomadic tribal people. This is true to some extent about the Arab desert nomads, African herders, and above all, the Native American tribes of North America.

When the United States Army was tasked with moving Native American tribes from their homelands, atrocities ensued on both sides. Promises were broken, what we today would call war crimes were committed, and in the end many tribes faced near genocide.

Adolph Hitler couldn’t accept the nomadic gypsies of Germany. To him they were ethnically unclean and lived a life on the move which contributed to prostitution, smuggling, and trade in drugs and other undesirable products. To Hitler, the gypsies were about equal to the Jews.

So when I pondered that bumper sticker, “China Out of Tibet: Free the Tibetan People,” over more time, I thought what we are seeing in Tibet, though morally reprehensible, has plenty of precedent and should not come as much of a surprise. The Chinese are committing crimes we should and must condemn. But we ourselves and other “civilized” people have a long and ugly history with “The Village People.”