After communism and capitalism, there is asterism.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Axis of Oil - Ukraine devoured by democracy

As the old saying goes - "you can't eat domocracy". Here is a little snippet from the Times:

At 10am on Sunday, Russia is threatening to unleash the most powerful weapon in its post-Soviet arsenal: unless Ukraine agrees to a fourfold increase in the price it pays for gas, Russia will simply turn off the tap.
Nor is it just Ukraine under threat — the EU imports about half of its gas from Russia and 80 per cent of that comes through Ukrainian pipelines.

Ukraine, last year, voted in a pro-Western govenment encouraged wholeheartedly by the US and Europe who dangled before the Ukranians big carrots - EU membership and NATO protection. Russia, with 80% of its gas sales to Europe going through Ukrainian pipes and its Southern Fleet based there was none too pleased.

It is all very well having an Orange Revolution but EU and NATO membership does not feed the economy. Cheap gas does and Europe is not going to bail you out.

The same Times article goes on to say:

Within the next ten years, Russia aims to be at the centre of a spider's web of oil and gas pipelines feeding all the major world markets.

So there you have it - a new Cold War is coming. Russia is becoming a new Oil super-power because Iraq failed to become the domain of US oil-power and Iran is proving impossible to isolate.

The next thing to happen is Europe realising that its real interests lie with guaranteed oil supplies from Russia and US isolation will be complete.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The oldest game in poltics

Thou who shalt be king hereafter, protect thyself vigorously from the Lie; the man who shall be a Lie-follower, him do thou punish well, if thus thou shalt think, 'May my country be secure!'

so said Darius I,King of Persia c. 500 BC

Many times a study of ancient history gives better insight into the world today than the best analysis.

Darius came to power by assassinating the king of Persia, Smerdis son of king Cyrus, in a good old coup d'etat... Except it wasn't Smerdis that he had killed. Oh no, you cant simply go around killing the king of Persia and expect everybody to declare you the new monarch. So the official story of the assassins was that Smerdis had been killed years before and replaced by an evil impostor pretending to be Smerdis. Darius had thus not only killed an impostor but saved Persia from a fate worse than death. So he was chosen as the rightful heir by the gods.

As the above quote puts in chilling terms, anyone who dares challenge this story as a Lie is not just to be simply told-off but should be completely destroyed and made an example-of. So no one would dare repeat the Lie for fear of suffering the same fate. And the king must persecute the Lie-followers vigorously or risk losing his country.

Fast-forward to the present day. Let us look at how the western world follows Darius's teachings...

Anyone who dares challenge the legitimacy of the state of Israel is to be not just to be contradicted - no,he must be labelled with the foulest of insults and consigned forever with the foulest of people. And this must be done vigorously by all protectors of Israel - 'May their country be secure!'.

It also explains how the Dutch court must define the attack on Halabja as more than a war crime but as an act of genocide without challenging all the evidence. To say otherwise is to become a follower of the Lie. And the fate of the world order depends on repression of the Lie-follower.

It is also why the assassination of Kennedy will never be described as anything other than the act of a lone mad gunman.

It also explains why Saddam was never able to shake off image of genocide and mass destruction that was built around his regime. Over time, the order of the Western world had become dependent on this Lie. It was simply not possible for Clinton to undo it and politically expedient for him to push the Lie and chase the Lie-followers. Unfortunately it was the belief in this Lie that led the world to the disaster that is Iraq now.

One can only look to the future and see the next Lie being built around Iran and wonder if it will lead to an even bigger disaster.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Election round up

With 90% of Iraq's election called, the result has oddly united both the pro- and anti- war camps. Here is a short round-up of the comments I have collected (in no particular order):

Marcus at Harry's Place:

The secular parties seem to have done less well than some had hoped...

[which led one commentor to compare this to Hirohito's "The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage.."]

Larry Diamond - architect of this whole election process:

It's troubling to think that the U.S. intervention in Iraq could lead to the rise of a Shiite theocracy, led by parties spawned in Iran, some of them virulently anti-American, representing views that violate basic principles of human rights. How are we going to square that with the loss of over 2,000 U.S. troops?

Dayez at Iraqi Rebel:

If this is democracy then I spit and shit on democracy.

Congratulations everyone. I congratulate everyone who participated and cheerleaded this farce, including myself.

Salam Pax at

I slightly feel like the wind has been knocked out of me and I have been avoiding all the news and election predictions as much as I can. So Iraqis chose hard-line Shia and hard-line Sunni.

Mohammed at Iraq the Model:

I think most of you have seen the disturbing results of the elections...Right now we're in facing a big crisis that leaves us before two possibilities; either the Sunni agree to be part of the government and we get a parliament with 200 Islamist members ... [or] the rival parties will enter another conflict in which words will not be the only weapon, we will also hear the democracy of mortars and RPGs speak loudly.

The final comment goes to Aunt Najma at A Star form Mosul:

I pray to God to take Iraq out of the deep hole it's in now.. I'm not sure if I can hang on this thin stick more; either it will break, or I will get tired and fall.. Or God will find me a way out!

As for me - I am not so pessimistic. Iraq survived worse and she will survive this. And if anyone still want an answer - for gods sake listen to Murtha. He is the only one who has made sense of all this.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Now it is time for America to listen to the Iraqis

With the massive turnout in Thursday's election, Iraqi's have sent an overwhelming message to the world that they want a political solution to the crisis in Iraq not a military one. It is time for the US government to listen to them. The previous heavy-handed tactics of the US military has goaded too many people into violent opposition of the occupation that even the Iraqi security forces are compromised by being both keepers of the peace and the front line of defense for foreign soldiers. If Iraq is to have a stable future this cannot go on.

America needs to announce a clear withdrawal plan and start the process immediately. Without this there will be no incentive for the newly elected parliament to negotiate an equitable compromise between the disparate parties. One side or another can dig in its heels and create a stalemate, confident that either the US military or the Insurgency will keep it safely in power. We have seen all too clearly after the last election the crisis such a stalemate can create.

Without the US presence, the mostly Sunni insurgency will lose its legitimacy and core support for being a force against occupation. The Shiite religious parties will lose their protection from a militarily stronger opponent. In such circumstances the politicians will be more motivated to seek compromise than to remain belligerent as their personal survival will depend on it. Also such compromise has now the endorsement of the people.

The on-going war in Iraq is no longer an American problem. A spiralling conflict will draw in regional countries and endanger the stable oil supply that keeps the world economy turning. The Iraqis and the world needs to send America a clear message. Now is the time seize the opportunity to leave Iraq on the positive note of a country united in the aim of resolving its differences politically or become one side of a spiralling, bloody conflict.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Quote of the day - Seen on the blogosphere

Sometimes the comments page in a blog makes more interesting reading than the blog itself. Over at Harrys Place commentor Zin invited his friend Uri to post his comments. It is good to see that at least one other fellow Iraqi exile has a positive outlook. I post his comment here for your reading pleasure...

Thank you for the questions. I hope these answers are helpful to your discussions.

Who did you vote for and why?

I voted for the Iraqi Patriotic Slate (Iyad Allawi/ICP/Secular/and some tribal notables). My main concern in choosing the right list to vote for is the threat of growing sectarianism, religious intolerance and the impending catastrophic partition of my homeland. I do believe that voting for the Iraqi Patriotic Slate is the last ditch attempt by a secular democrat such as myself to keep- our country together. Unity is the only way to achieve independence, self determination and bright future for my people.

How did you end up in Britain?

Many members of my family have been opponents of the Baathist dictatorshipfor the last 40 years. My aunty was the founder member of the first women's liberation movement in Iraq, back in the 1950s. Others were members and supporters of the Communist Party, the trade union movement and the democratic opposion. Quite of few of them were imprisoned and tortured.

What is your view of Saddam?

Saddam was originally a paid CIA thug who was hired in the late 1950s with the purpose of destroying the Iraqi labour movement and also to destroy the nascent Iraqi civil society. He achieved his mission by enlisting right wing military establishment in Iraq, the corrupt ruling elite of Arab chauvinists, the oil greedy and anti communist USA and fellow Arab dictatorial regimes. In the process Saddam's bunch of thugs have managed to gas the Kurds annihilate the Iraqi left, wage a war on the Shia community, wage a war on Iran with the encouragement of the usual suspects mentioned above. Saddam's thugs played the divide and rule game between ethnic and religious sections of the community. His mission was accomplished when in 2003 Iraq went back to being a Western colony.

Did you support the invasion of Iraq? Why do you think the Americans invaded? What do you think of the occupation?

I opposed the Anglo American aggression, primarily because I realized that our people need to achieve democratic self determination free of the military terror, colonial rule and torture chambers. I knew that the invading imperial army will have a very different agenda from mine.

The occupation's first act after "victory" was to abolish the civil service, police and the Iraqi army. 400,000 Iraqi military personnel "liberated" from their duties and, for what purpose? The borders of Iraq were left unguarded. The ministries were looted and all records were lost. Why????

The US neo-cons wished to create their own utopian fantasy Iraqi state, like a brand new toy. Neo-liberal, "free market" free for all Iraqi replica of themselves. But instead of achieving Capitalist Utopia, they open the door to the Jihadi reactionaries from across the world to rain havoc on the defenseless Iraqi people. With no secure borders and no security, only the sectarian militias of Sunni and Shia Islamists could provide semblance of authority.

The US set up a Governing Council based on purely ethnic and religious sectarian basis, in order to reinforce that sectarian catastrophe.
The occupation forced through laws that allowed the US corporations to siphon billons of Dollars from the Iraqi oil industry, a large part of which is unaccounted for. The occupation tried to pass laws that will fasiliatte the privatization of Iraqi oil and all industrial infrastructure. The sectarian partition of Iraq will mean in the future that each regional warlord will be able to strike a separate dirty deal with Western corporations on the expense of the Iraqi people.

IN conclusion, I think the Iraqi people have been manipulated by the US led coalition, by mixture of brute force and false promises. Just like under any dictatorial regime. What's new ?

Should foreign troops be withdrawn immediately?


What do you think of the insurgency?

Counter-effective and rather stupid. If it was like the ANC in South Africa (non-sectarian and socially progressive), I would have supported them. I want to see my country free.

What do you think of the religious aspect to Iraqi politics?


Is Iraq a democracy?


Are you hopeful or pessimistic about the future?

Hopeful for independence, democracy and social justice.

In another three years time Iraq will have developed a stronger civil society or does he think that the ethnic/tribal rivalries present in Iraq make this unlikely?

I have no idea, but I hope for the former.

...later he added...

My soiled election finger is a testament to my belief that the colonial occupation of Iraq shMould be opposed in different possible ways. First step, Iraqi civil society should be mobilised to reject sectarian, tribal, ethnic and religious racism in our society. We must work to free ourselves from the oppressive feudal mindset that we have inherited in the years of colonial and dictatorial tyranny.

When large enough section of Iraq begin to see through the corrupt manipulation then they will act together as mothers, fathers, gays, women, workers, students who share a desire for liberty. Liberty from poverty, sexism, racism, colonial tyranny and free from fascist rule of any type. We already have a consensus on some of those issues according to the opinion polls.

The next step after that would be a program to empower a new resistance movement
Based on humanist demands to gain independence in order to share the oil wealth for building schools, providing free healthcare, education, workers rights, human rights and equality. We will achieve those aims: "Peacefully if we may forcefully if we must", as the British chartist used to say.

Someone asked if I could have voted if there wasn't an invasion. It's the same as asking if you would have continued breathing if you didnt hand over your purse to the guy with a gun pointed at your head. I can breath without someone holding a gun to my head. I would prefer to vote in a liberated and happy Iraq, thank you very much. Not in one occupied by colonialists who are dividing us up for their own reasons and preventing us from having real choices. We have had enouigh of people forcing things on us and terrorising us for whatever purpose.


Posted by: Uri at December 15, 2005 06:19 PM

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Chat of the Day: Hope and Irony

Following is a conversation I had with a friend about today's election in Iraq..

Have you voted? Though I expect not

well I dont have anyone to vote for and anyway if my vote only counts for 40 of the seats - what's the point??

my whole idea is to keep radicals away from the parliment whether sunnis or shias

these poeple will fight and cheat for every seat they can get
One interesting thing this time - I have heard nothing from the UN
aren't they supposed to be monitoring that the elections are being conducted and counted fairly?

I think the whole process is organized and probably monitored by iraqis only this time. Scarey. huh

exactly - but at least the police are independent after all the US and Britian spent ages choosing them carefully

do you really think that police are independent?

I am being ironic

I see
I've personally seen police men with Muqtada al sadir pictures on their cloths
same for Badr,
they are loyal to their party first, then the police

But they are responsible for the secutiry of the ballots


do you think they will resist the temptation to peek inside the ballot boxes

good question. I think that they will not dare to do that in sunni and northern cities, but the south is completely left for them to do whatever they want

well then they get control of their own cities
so do you think things will be better after the election

I can only hope so

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Sale of the Century

Looking at Ahmed Chalabi's posters in BagNewsNotes. Chalabi is offering the Iraqi people direct personal ownership of the oil wealth of Iraq. Sounds like a good deal - well it isn't.

This is nothing new. It is a crude form of the confidence trick that Margret Thatcher pulled on the British people in the 80's and the Russian government pulled in the 90's. Here is how it worked...

- In the 60's and 70's the State bought/built Britsh industries and utilities, like trains, telecom's and steel at great expense to tax payers.
- In the 80's Prime Minister Thatcher sold these same assets back to the same tax payers at highly discounted prices under the guise of selling them shares.
- Of course these shares were highly undervalued so the share price rose sharply after the sale.
- Tax payers grabbing a quick profit sold these shares back to same big investors that had owned these assets before the 60's.
So as a result Thatcher managed two tricks. 1. To sell to the British people their own property and 2. To transfer the assets of the British state to the big investors that financed her party at a large discount.

People were better off - at first. Then 10 years later chickens came home to roost. All the money that the state and the people made from the sale of these assets was spent not reinvested. All the profits that these industries genereated and will generate in the future go into private pockets and even get sent abroad. The state now has to try to force services down to a minimum and taxes up to a maximum as its only income is now from taxes.

Well it seems like Chalabi is going down the same road - give Iraqi oil to the people who will then sell it to big-oil at discount prices. Even cheaper than privatisation!

Monday, December 05, 2005

The right to pick your chains

On 15th December Iraqis get to choose who will run the country for the next 4 years. If you can seriously believe a democratic election can be held during a situation of open warfare I have a used car I want to sell you.

Given the situation of almost complete lawlessness in Iraq, the only parties that can seriously organise are ones with big militias. All other parties are irrelevant - they cant campaign, keep their posters up or generally stay alive. The result is Iraqis are now presented with 3 different kinds of dictator.

There are the Kurdish dictators - Talabani and Barzani. The latter more a feudal lord than a modern dictator. They have almost complete rule over their respective domains. Rumor has it that they pre-arranged their respective territories and cooked the last election results to reflect that.

There is the American dictator - Iyad Allawi. He has the militia with the biggest guns - the US army. It is telling that when he was chased out of the mosque in Najaf yesterday in a hail of sandals, he had an Apache helicopter follow him to keep him safe. During his rule the defense ministry was robbed of 1 billion dollars, a plane-load (literally) of new Iraqi dinars strangely turned up in Lebanon and god know what other corruption. On the democracy front he is no more than a rebooted Baathist and his first act was reconstituting Saddam's old secret police.

Lastly you have the Shi'a parties of SCIRI and Badr - which I will lump together as they are really two sides of the same coin. These have arguably the largest militia - which is the whole of the Iranian army. Badr, as you will know from reading the Baghdad Burning blog, were based, funded, and directly supported by Iran right up to the end of Saddam's rule. They are well known for torturing Iraqi soldiers captured in Iran/Iraq war and now have the same reputation of torturing Sunnis in Iraq. They are also known for forcing women to cover up completely in public, torching musical instrument shops and lining their ministries with their own cronies. Their current plan is to split the south of Iraq - together with its oil - away from the rest of Iraq and leave the centre of Iraq impoverished and desolate. If the Sunni's don't like it - Badr will call in the Iranians for protection.

Yet none of these dictators have the same security apparatus as Saddam. None can rule alone with only the support of one section of society. Neither side is powerful enough or has the police or intelligence apparatus to infiltrate and defeat the other side. Separation of Iraq is simply a non-starter. Iraq is a large-flat country. One cannot draw a line across the middle and expect Sunni's to stay on their side.

So what you will see, regardless of the election, is a growing conflict between armed sections of the Sunnis, Shi'a and Kurds, drawing in outside countries for support of the respective sides and leaving a bemused Iraqi population in the middle watching on while trying to keep alive. This will continue to grow until these petty dictators have exhausted themselves or the Iraqi people have had enough or the rest of the world gets seriously scared of losing its oil.

The way out of this cycle must be based on a broad secular movement that is at least respectable and not tainted with the current corruption and petty-dictators. The people to form this movement exist and the potential support for such a movement exists. To give a recent example - in 1958, a group of army officers ousted the British-backed monarchy and created a popular constitution which all the current Iraqi parties (even the Kurds) signed up to. At the same time Iraqi people flocked to the Communist party. Not for ideological reasons but because it was the only secular party that promised to unite the country.

By contrast the current constitution does no more than legitimise a land-grab between the Shi'a and Kurds and these parties are creating the grounds for civil war, ethnic purges and a wider international war.

Unfortunately, a broad-based secular movement would not be interested in giving American corporations first refusal on the economic resources of Iraq. But given the alternative, America should seriously consider dropping support for the gang of various sectarian or corrupt parties that it currently surrounds itself with.

Dictatorship Software Rebooted

Just to rub it in - I am writing this post while watching the sun set over the Pacific and - do you believe it - there is a wi-fi link on the beach!

The title comes from Stirling Newbury's (of Bop News) prediction of what will happen in Iraq. And he was right - this is what we are seeing now. My last post was on how even the sanest person can succumb to the madness of dictatorship. I am just amazed how quickly the current Iraqi government has fallen into this pattern. Take the current president of Iraq. Jaafari was by all accounts a mild-mannered physician before becoming president. Now, under his rule, his interior ministry sanction El-Salvador style death squads and the crudest of torture chambers. Look at these two reports:

Juan Cole published a tranlation of an online debate on the [Sunni] IslamOnline website with Dr. Ali al-Adad, a prominent member of the [Shiite] Central Council of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), to a live exchange with its readers of Islam Online. In an answer to a question on the Iraqi Interior Ministry torture chamber uncovered by US Soldiers al-Adad said...

The recent incident in al-Jaderiya [the intervention by US troops in a location under Ministry of Interior control, where tortured prisoners were held] is a pretext used to question the legitimacy of the noblest and most honorable regime freely and democratically chosen by the Iraqis. The truth on what is said about al-Jaderiyya will be revealed after the investigation.

What is important is that all should know that there are daily operations of extermination and mass murder using bomb cars perpetrated by criminal Ba'athists and Takfeeris [Sunni Islamic fanatics] in Iraq, and we have not heard a condemnation of these acts from some Arab brothers abroad who know quite well what Saddam's regime used to do and what criminals belonging to Saddam's bunch are doing today.

Robert Dreyfuss after meeting Iraq's deputy president, Adil Abdul Mahdi, wrote..

When I asked him about reports that Iraqi police and interior ministry squads were carrying out assassinations and other illegal acts, he didn't deny it--but, he said, such acts were merely a reaction to the terrorism of the resistance. "There is terrorism on only one side,:" he said. "Inappropiatem acts by the other side, by the police--this is something else. This is a reaction." As far as civilian casualties in Sunni towns, he had this to say: "You can't fight terrorism without attacking some popular areas."
Abdul Mahdi had this to say about Fallujah, the city that was obliterated by the the U.S. armed forces a year ago. "It is one of the most peaceful areas in Iraq. I don't know whether the people are happy or not. But it is one of the most peaceful cities."


What is chilling is that when both people were questioned about the torture, they didn't see it as a bad thing that they should not be associated with but simply excused it because of the terrorism. So a whole section of society is singled out for torture and random killings because of the actions of a few gangs. These are not the words of a government that looks to make peace with the Sunni population but the words of a dictatorship conslidating its power.