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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The year that was...

2005 will be remembered as the year that citizens across the world started to realise the rules of the game in the "war on terror." Extraordinary rendition, US supported and administered torture, unauthorised spying on citizens, privatised killing, diving support for the Iraqi quagmire and a growing Iranian influence. Liberation, indeed.

In other news, we saw the shameful response to Hurricane Katrina, world apathy on the Sudanese genocide, military threats towards Iran's supposed nuclear arsenal, Latin America's challenge to US imperialism, Israel's talk of peace but further entrenchment of the occupation, Pacific islands starting to feel the effects of global warming and climate change starting to be taken seriously, in some quarters anyway.

We should take heart from the fact that the US's global influence is waning. Still a superpower but heavily weakened by the Iraq war and imperial arrogance, Latin American countries provide perhaps the best example of a way forward towards a world without constant US threats and bullying. The mainstream media is being challenged like never before and many people are simply ignoring the "establishment" sources and looking elsewhere.

In Australia, we experienced the full force of the Latham Diaries - the finest and most insightful political book about the local scene for a very long time - and the Howard government's control of the Senate saw a flurry of legislation likely to benefit the business community and the Murdoch press, but few others. Opinion polls now show the ALP in front, a direct connection to draconian industrial relations "reforms." The Labor party remains an archaic institution and appears to inspire less people every day. Support for the Greens is steady but climbing in some states. Robert Fisk made his first tour to the country (and returns next March.)

On a personal note, the year has been challenging. My book on Israel/Palestine is nearly finished and will be released in July next year through Melbourne University Publishing. My time in the Middle East - and constant, almost obsessive, threats - makes me even more determined to challenge the Zionist version of the conflict.

I've recently signed with Random House to write a book about the parlous state of the Australian media, the often corrosive impact of the US media and the curse of "insider" journalism. It will be released in 2007.

My regular column for growing online magazine New Matilda - and the positive emails I receive after nearly every article - has proven that there is an appetite for dissenting work in the Australian media.

After being appointed to the board of Macquarie University's Centre for Middle East and North African Studies, we intend to inject some humanity and diversity to the often one-dimensional, Orientalist and racist views of the Arab world and Islam present in Australian society.

There are a number of other projects in development and I should be able to confirm these early in 2006.

As for this humble blog, thanks for all the comments, thoughts and suggestions. I have a number of ideas to expand the site next year. Let's all try to lower the abuse and increase the insights.

I'll be back in the first days of the new year.

Peace to you all.

34 Comments:

Blogger leftvegdrunk said...

And peace to you and yours, too.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 10:21:00 am  
Blogger M.Kerjman said...

In Australia, this year is to remember as one marked with outbreaks of racism at all levels.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 3:37:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

Middle East Progress Amid Global Gains in Freedom


New York,December 19, 2005

The people of the Arab Middle East experienced a modest but potentially significant increase in political rights and civil liberties in 2005, Freedom House announced in a major survey of global freedom released today.

The global survey, "Freedom in the World," shows that although the Middle East continues to lag behind other regions, a measurable improvement can be seen in freedom in several key Arab countries, as well as the Palestinian Authority. In another key finding, the number of countries rated by Freedom House as Not Free declined from 49 in 2004 to 45 for the year 2005, the lowest number of Not Free societies identified by the survey in over a decade. In noteworthy country developments, Ukraine and Indonesia saw their status improve from Partly Free to Free; Afghanistan moved from Not Free to Partly Free; and the Philippines saw its status decline from Free to Partly Free.

According to Thomas O. Melia, acting executive director of Freedom House, "The modest but heartening advances in the Arab Middle East result from activism by citizen groups and reforms by governments in about equal measures. This emerging trend reminds us that men and women in this region share the universal desire to live in free societies."

"As we welcome the stirrings of change in the Middle East," said Mr. Melia, "it is equally important that we focus on the follow-through in other regions and appreciate the importance of the continuing consolidation of democracy in Indonesia, Ukraine, and other nations."

Complete survey results, including a package of charts and graphs, and an explanatory essay are available online. The Ratings reflect global events from December 1, 2004 through November 30, 2005. Country narratives will be released in book form in summer 2006.

This and much more at www.freedomhouse.org

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 10:12:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

Threats from lone freaks mean that you're interesting. Threats from parliamentarians and 'peak bodies' mean you're a threat to vested interests. Congratulations of reaching 'threat' status! Keep workin'!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005 10:20:00 pm  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Yes, most of us have a vested interest in the truth. We'll see what you've actually done to harm the truth when we read your book.

Who knows? You might actually have written something true. But the odds aren't with you on that one.

Most likely you've wrapped some kernal of truth in layers of bullshit and expect the public to accept the bullshit as reality for the sake of the nugget.

Thursday, December 29, 2005 12:36:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

If Al was so full of BS, I doubt he'd be getting the attention he has been getting, along with the threats.

A liar is no threat to anyone. It's whistleblowers that scare the establishment.

Thursday, December 29, 2005 12:45:00 am  
Blogger asdfsdafsda said...

ibratard, you wouldn't know the truth if it came up and bit you on the arse.

Thursday, December 29, 2005 2:55:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Were it not for the BS, it would attract scant attention.

Noticing the fate of whistle blowers and the fate of most establishments, it would appear that whistle blowers get blown away while establishments just plug along.

Notice all of the dead palestinians at their brothers' hands, while hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Fatah just keep plugging along.

Luckily for AL, he blowing nothing but hot air.

Thursday, December 29, 2005 3:10:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

"Were it not for the BS, it would attract scant attention."

Wrong. BS is easy to dispel and therefore ignore. If what AL had to say was BS, then his critics and opponents would have been able to put the issues to bed long ago.

"Noticing the fate of whistle blowers and the fate of most establishments, it would appear that whistle blowers get blown away while establishments just plug along."

That's why they are called whistel blowers. They take great risks to reveal informatino that challenges those in power. Sometimes it pays of, but more often than not, it doesn't. Are you suggesting that this is proof whistel blowers are nto worth listening to? Nixon would have served 2 terms if what you say was true.

"Notice all of the dead palestinians at their brothers' hands"

Yes it's tragic. The whole goddam mess is a tragedy.

Thursday, December 29, 2005 4:24:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Addamo - your ignorance is frightening. The Protocols are an obvious and proven fake, yet it continues to be a best seller in many arab lands and continues the rounds of the Internet.

And the Nixon Affair has not done a thing to stop any American President or Agency from doing most anything.

Thursday, December 29, 2005 6:40:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

The Protocolas are citied by whom Ibby int he mainstream? Want to scrape the barrel any deeper?

You are right abotu the Nixon affair not having done anything as farf as checks and balances are concerned. If anything, they have only tightened the noose.

Thursday, December 29, 2005 8:22:00 am  
Blogger asdfsdafsda said...

Well Ibratard has cited the Protocols of the elders of Mecca many times in his hate mongering. Protocols of Mecca being little more than the Protocols of Zion with all the references to Jews and Judaism replaced with references to Muslims and Islam.

Thursday, December 29, 2005 8:49:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

What was the old fart talking about?

Thursday, December 29, 2005 12:26:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

Ibrahamav said...
Yes, most of us have a vested interest in the truth.

Yes, must of "us" do. You're not one of "us" however, Ibby. You're one of the "lone freaks" I was referring to.

Thursday, December 29, 2005 12:59:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

Edward ,
a while ago you wanted to know if anyone could find a statement from an imam about women being in part responsible for the actions men take against them . Is this correct ? If not I apologise .The following is from the SMH today-
" With few imams able to speak English, and with mosques unable to provide a culturally relevant version of Islam, it is little wonder many young people flock to the more radical sheiks. One of these, Feiz Mohamed, was brought up in Australia and speaks fluent English. He heads the Global Islamic Youth Centre in Liverpool.

Many will remember Feiz for his remarks attributing sexual assault to the manner in which some women dress. " Irfan Yusuf SMH 29/12/05

This isn't from the original source so the claim may be disputed .

Thursday, December 29, 2005 1:18:00 pm  
Blogger brokenleg said...

Antony,
The purile attacks from your critics who represent the powers that be should be worn like a medal of honour.
Keep up the great work and I look forward to your books, and remember, the establishment is built on ignorance. Expose them for what they are and it all will come crashing down like a house of cards.
Regards
Broken Leg

Thursday, December 29, 2005 8:35:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

boredinHK said...
Feiz Mohamed

Yeah I read this too ... and remember when it was reported at the time.

Here are some random comments on this:

1. Feiz Mohamed is, in fact, an imam and has qualifications from a certain Saudi Arabian university.

2. He has a bit of a following (about 1,000 people apparently) because he (a) speaks English and (b) is one of those nutty evangelising types (a bit like an Islamic Hillsong).

3. Technically, what he said was in a "khutbah" - a sermon - on Friday arvo. A khutbah doesn't have the same status as a "fatwah" - a legal opinion (in the same way as whatever the priest says in the Sunday sermon doesn't have the same status as a Dogmatic statement).

4. He got slammmed for this by other imams because what he said was a (rednecked) personal opinion and not one based on the "shariah" (law) or "fiqh" (jurisprudential interpretation).

Here's a link. http://www.smh.com.au/news/Opinion/Muslims-must-speak-out-or-be-condemned-for-their-silence/2005/04/27/1114462100745.html

Thursday, December 29, 2005 9:10:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

The comments from Irfan Yusuf in the link you gave are very reasonable.
I am intrigued that he prefers the sufi style of things - would this opinion or manner of thinking be in a minority among the muslim community in south west Sydney ?
His comments over on webdiary are also a pleasant antidote to the general level of rancour and malice in much comment on matters regarding islam in Australia.
Thanks for the link.

Thursday, December 29, 2005 9:23:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

boredinHK said...
I am intrigued that he prefers the sufi style of things - would this opinion or manner of thinking be in a minority among the muslim community in south west Sydney ?

It's a good question. There is no objective answer to this at this point in time because no survey work has been done in this field. You'd think someone would be collecting such data, but as far as I can tell, not (much of) a sausage. (Academics seem to be mainly interested in social attitudes, socio-economic status and so on. They appear to be little interested in people's theological views.)

From my own anecdotal observations, no striking patterns emerge. The average Muslim will have their own personal, unique views, which depend on their ethnic background, level of education, personal life experiences and so on. Some know about Sufism, some don't. Some reject it as irrational, some think it is the spiritual heart of Islam. Some who don't know about it at an intellectual level, nonetheless practice it in their daily lives.

The whole area cries out for basic research.

Friday, December 30, 2005 10:48:00 am  
Blogger boredinHK said...

This is from the South China Morning Post today - via a news service .
Abdel Al Barri Atwan is one commentator who always looks for the background conspiracy so this fits right in .
U.S. Exit Strategy in Iraq: Hand Quagmire to Iran

New America Media, News Analysis, Jalal Ghazi, Dec 22, 2005

Editor's Note: Arab media are tracking Iran's continued importance to U.S. policymakers seeking a way out of Iraq.

For Arab media commentators across the region, the provocative speeches of Iran's new president merely aim to distract attention from that country's increasingly central role in Washington's emerging exit strategy from Iraq.

"The (American) decision to open direct contacts with Iran means that Iraq will be handed over to Iran," Fadel Al Rabee, a spokesman for the National Iraqi Alliance, told "Behind the News," a daily news program on Al Jazeera. "The U.S. is ignoring the Saudi advice not to do so. Instead, they are allowing the Iranian influence to grow stronger in Iraq," Al Rabee added.

He said the U.S. exit strategy is similar to the one used by the French to drag the Americans into Vietnam before they left. In this way Shiite Iran will become a "partner in the occupation of Iraq" and inevitably find itself head-to-head with the Sunni-led national Iraqi resistance.

"The U.S. is helpless in Iraq and needs Iran in Southern Iraq and to negotiate with the Shiites," Al Watan Al Arabi magazine quotes Ayatollah Mahdi Haeri, a spokesman of the Iranian Muslim Scholars Abroad. "The Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Al Jafari, who keeps saying that the U.S. must speak with Iran to achieve security in Iraq, is trying to mediate a deal between Iran and the U.S.," Maeri adds.

There is already speculation that 50,000 U.S. soldiers will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of 2006 and the rest will be stationed in 12 American bases throughout the country. According to Al Jazeera, the U.S. Congress has allocated $236 million to build another permanent base in 2005.

Abdel Al Barri Atwan, chief editor of the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper writes that the Americans have realized that their policies toward Iraq have increased Iran's influence in Iraq, and are looking for ways to take advantage of this reality.

At the same time, Atwan says the United States is planning to exploit Arab countries' growing animosity toward Iran by selling them tons of weapons. Atwan adds, "Just like the Gulf countries were fooled into spending their wealth for American weapons to fight Iran during the Iran-Iraq war, they might be fooled again to spend their huge surplus from the increase in oil prices to do the same thing."

A more pronounced role for Iran is agreeable to Iraq's dominant Shiites, who want a no-holds barred fight against the Sunni resistance. An Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper commentator, Huda Al Husseini, quotes Abdel Aziz Al Hakim, the leader of the Higher Council for the Islamic revolution and president of the United Iraqi Alliance (both form the backbone of the Iraqi government) as saying that the United States should let the Iraqi government pursue the Sunni fighters more freely.

Al Husseini also quotes the National Security Consultant for the Iraqi government, Muwafaq Al-Rabie, as saying, "The Sunni fighters are more dangerous than the followers of Abu Musab Al Zarqawi because the Sunni fighters enjoy the support of many Iraqis and receive financial support from Gulf countries."

Meanwhile, the Saudi government is wary of a U.S. pullback from Iraq. A report aired Dec. 20 on Al-Arabiya Television, which is partially financed by Saudi Arabia, said that some 2,500 Saudi nationals have gone to Iraq to fight alongside the Sunni insurgents. If the U.S. forces withdraw from Iraq, the Saudis will be compelled to support them, to keep Iraq's Shiites in check. In addition, Saudi Arabia, like the rest of oil-rich Gulf countries, has a significant Shiite population, which could become an internal threat should the Shiites monopolize the Iraqi government.

Like Saudi Arabia, smaller Gulf countries dependent on the United States for protection are also extremely concerned that a new American-Iranian arrangement in Iraq may encourage Iran to be more aggressive in the region. Iran's nuclear ambition was the main concern during the two-day Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. Furthermore, Iran continues to occupy three UAE islands in the Persian Gulf.

Sunni insurgents share with Gulf countries the same concerns about Iran's growing influence in Iraq. The Dec. 16 issue of Alwatan Al Arabi Magazine ran an article titled, "The hidden facts in the secret negotiations between Washington and the Sunni resistance -- Al Zarqawi in exchange for Saddam." The author, Saed Al Qaisi, writes that the Sunni resistance is even willing to turn against Al Zarqawi if the Americans let Saddam Hussein live, set a time table for U.S. withdrawal and strengthen the Sunnis' political position in the new Iraq.

Al Qaisi adds that Iraqi President Jalal Talibani has mediated a series of meetings between the Sunni resistance, the American authorities, the Iraqi government and some Arab leaders. One result of these meetings is that the United States has stopped isolating the Baathists, despite strong Shiite opposition. The Iraqi defense ministry has finally accepted the return of 2,662 Saddam-era Iraqi officers to the new Iraqi army. Al Qaisi explains that the Americans were quick to agree to that because they know that only Sunni forces are capable of eliminating Zarqawi extremists. However, Al Qaisi writes that the Americans refused to commit to saving Saddam from execution.

Al Zarqawi, suspecting that the national resistance might eliminate him, retaliated by killing two prominent Sunni leaders, Iyad Al Azi of the Islamic party of Iraq and Abbas Al Esawi of the Muslim Scholars Association. Sunnis usually blame Iran-backed Shiite groups like the Badr militia for assassinations of prominent Sunni leaders. This time they accused Al Zarqawi of the killings.

Friday, December 30, 2005 1:14:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

This seems to be the new thoery that is also being peddled by Justin Raimondo: http://antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=8307

"If we step back, however, and look at the balance of forces in the region, there is a certain logic to the American strategy. The rise of a Shi'ite super-state in the midst of a formerly Sunni-dominated Middle East means that the Muslim world is divided against itself – an outcome that can only be favorable to the Crusader-invaders. Forget the BS about "democracy" and "freedom," and look only at what the folly of our policy actually achieves: a regional religious civil war, endless strife, and the prospect of continued American military intervention as far as the eye can see. Look beyond Iraq: to Syria, and even to Saudi Arabia, where restive Shi'ites could form the basis of a future move to destabilize the Saudi monarchy. Look to Lebanon, where the same sort of ethnic divisions that bedevil Iraq are the order of the day: that is the future of Iraq, and much of the region. The atomization of existing Muslim-Arab states, regional civil war, and, of course, an overbearing and permanent American military presence to keep the pot from boiling over – this is what we have to look forward to."

Friday, December 30, 2005 2:16:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

SO , the states with oil will all have a strong interest in keeping it flowing to the West and East Asia,(their need to buy arms and allies ) .
The military conflict in the middle east will keep the arms dealers and manufacturers busy - including Russia and France .
NATO can then concentrate on trying to help Afghanistan.
The incentive to keep oil output and production high may depress oil prices, this helps keep inflation under control,the long term US interest rates don't rise too precipitously and the US consumer can continue use their housing equity to keep spending and the world economy ticking along.
The oil states recycle their petrodollars into US bonds financing the whole deal(with help from the japanese and chinese)
Come 2008 another Republican wins the presidential election ,all the while praising the " vision " of the Bsh administration.
I've got to stop drinking so much coffee in the mornings!

Friday, December 30, 2005 2:55:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

I'm not as cynical as you Borderlink, but who knows where we are headed.

Let's not even list down here the endless litany of Bush's fuck-ups from the invasion of Iraq down to CIA agent outing down to lies and scandals and more lies (the true half-brother of spin). The first 5 years of Bush are already writ down as monumental failures. If the laws of nature, or science, posits that micro mimics macro, what is above so is below, then the first 5 years is the already the template set in stone for the Bush's fate after 8 years and beyond.

You "only reap the fruits of your toil" speaks eloquently about the flawed logic and reasoning that underpinned all of Bush's motivations and actuation. In the Iraq invasion, for example, Bush set out to glorify himself as the nemesis of the "brutal dictators" and all the "Axis of Evil" that bedevil the Muslim world. Bush wanted to "liberate the Muslims" from these brutal dictators and axis of evil, and bring to them the "freedom" and "democracy" that are so valued by an imperialistic society like the U.S. Behind all the rhetoric on "freedom and democracy," the motive of gain and profit loomed larger than life. And Halliburton trying to drill out the Iraqi oil and make tremendous profit from the "reconstruction" business personalizes that. What to say of profit from war-making itself that is the primary concern of the Pentagon under Rumsfeld. This situation is described by the Scriptures as thieves who disguised themselves by their dress as kings.

Deep in the innermost recesses of its soul, Bush & Co. are tainted by the darkest of all desires and acts: to profit and gain and glorify themselves at the expense of others. Surely, when you do horrible harm and injury to others in order to profit yourself, you have yourself become the victim of your own cupidity and lust. You planted weeds, don't ever expect to harvest sweet grapes.

Bush and Co. are now undergoing the process of the material energy's idea of recycling. It's like being dumped inside a cement mixer and being slowly mixed while the truck is on its way to the construction site of hell.

Bush & Co. are already doomed in smaller and greater understanding. 5 years or 8 years of Bush's tenure do not really matter. Nobody can alter destiny, once set on its course. And nobody can fool time that sets destiny in motion. All they are doing now is kid themselves that they still can "save" his "terms," and with them, Bush. It's also called "wishful thinking."

Bush is already doomed beyond "saving." At least I hope so.

The demand for oil and control of it will increase. Chine just announced that their economy is growing at a significatntly faster rate than projected (http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/12/20/business/chicon.php).

I can almost see the paranoya in the Washington growing.

Friday, December 30, 2005 3:43:00 pm  
Blogger Human said...

To all my friendlies here at Antony's place and to Antony himself- MAY ALL YOUR HOPES, DREAMS AND WISHES FOR THE NEW YEAR COME TRUE! HAPPY NEW YEAR!
PEACE.

Saturday, December 31, 2005 3:55:00 pm  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

May they not. Like the monkey's paw, the wishes of many on this site would prove fatal.

Sunday, January 01, 2006 7:19:00 am  
Blogger weezil said...

Ant, my gift to you in 2006 will be teaching you how to filter your commenters by IP... your trolls have more sockpuppets than Jim Henson ever did.

Sunday, January 01, 2006 9:57:00 am  
Blogger Rich Bowden said...

To Human,

Thanks, and as you would say....peace.

To all, Happy New Year and may '06 bring you luck, happiness and, if you're into that sort of thing, prosperity.

Sunday, January 01, 2006 10:02:00 am  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

Is there any wonder why Weezil is called such?

Sunday, January 01, 2006 1:45:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

weezil said...
"Ant, my gift to you in 2006 will be teaching you how to filter your commenters by IP... your trolls have more sockpuppets than Jim Henson ever did."

Interesting. Is it possible for the comments to stay but an indicator "sockpuppet" appears next to the name? That's what happens for Wikipaedia 'voting' on entries, I think.

Sunday, January 01, 2006 11:31:00 pm  
Blogger violet said...

is laughing and laughing and laughing at you calling The Laughing Diaries the' finest and most inciteful political book...'

Monday, January 02, 2006 5:37:00 pm  
Blogger neoleftychick said...

Happy New Year To All. And May Israel and the the Anglosphere nuke those Iranian assholes, Hamas-supporters and other related vermin till they glow! What a vile culture of people! YUK!

On AL, I think the book will be great. He might be quite shocked that his eastern suburbs white european narcissism doesn't outsell Byrce Courtney; not because of the "Zionist run media" but because the vast majority of Australians are sick to death of the whingeing stone-throwing nuke-threatening, holocaust-denying, terrorism-voting ragheads. You see, THIS is why local media doesn't give the Arab-Israeli issue much play anymore.

To whit, it's B-O-R-I-N-G!

From my level of education and general I.Q. I would say that AL will be a copy-and-paste job with a tonne of cringe-inducing over-the-top adjectives and adverbs dribbling throughtout the same tired old arguments that we can read for free from Noam Chomsky, Finkelstein, blah, blah, blah.

Still, I am looking forward to its publication! And, of course, the opportunity to go-to-town on the abonominably bad "analysis" and writing that spews out of Fairfax alumni.

Thursday, January 05, 2006 11:58:00 am  
Blogger orang said...

And Aleikum Salam to you neo. I hope you had an ecstatic New Year Eve and success in your hedonistic pursuit of Middle Eastern flavours.

Thursday, January 05, 2006 12:07:00 pm  
Blogger neoleftychick said...

orang

And to you. suspect you are not one of the ones I mean. In fact, there are many, mnay, many drop dead gorgeous raghead men. What would say to a night with Imran Khan in his prime for example?

One of the most delightful "ships passing in the night" moment of my youth was with a half-Jordanian, half-Italian 19 year old!

Grrrrrrr....just thinking about it! ;))

Thursday, January 05, 2006 12:51:00 pm  
Blogger Ibrahamav said...

At least sex has no conscience. Hopefully you felt guilty, atoned, and was rewarded with a life not as great as you expected, and it all worked out.

Friday, January 06, 2006 12:48:00 am  

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