Saturday, February 27, 2010

Elections 2010: Mithal al-Alusi

mithal. Every single Iraqi knows Mithal al-Alusi, but for many non-Iraqis he is the only politician from Iraq who visited Israel, a move that drew a lot of media attention and public negative responses, for that he has been accused by many Arabs of treason, because his move "is an attempt to rip Iraq off from its Arab nationalism principle, and from its ultimate goal: The liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation." All this because he attended an anti-terrorism conference in Israel in 2005.

Without going into the right or wrong of his doing related to that visit, the man made his visit public, but it was his fault for being honest. It is no secret nowadays the number of Iraqi and Arab politicians already visited Israel secretly in the past years, in peace and war times, and many made trade and economic deals behind the curtains with Israeli officials, while in public showed resentment, or at least rejection to the idea of having normal relations with Israel. So, what is the big deal?

Before I continue, I tried not to start this post on al-Alusi by writing about his visit to Israel. I did not want to sound like another media trumpet when talking about this politician, but I fell in the trap! It was not intentional.

Anyway, there no single person can ignore or even try to deny the fact that Mithal al-Alusi is one of the most outspoken figures among Iraq's politicians. To take the matter to extreme negativity, some describe him as being rude or ruthless - on a side note, some call it a good attitude depending on the situation. His outbursts at journalists and his reaction to questions during TV interviews on a number of occasions is resulted in mixed reactions, not to forget the reaction to his strong presence during meetings in the parliament.

The look at this man's face gives one indication: frustration mixed with anger, a lot of anger, but with sadness, in fact a lot of grief. I don't blame him, as one of the turning points of Mr. al-Alusi's life took place in 2005 when unknown armed men ambushed his convoy in western Baghdad in an assassination attempt, which resulted in killing two of al-Alusy's sons, Ayman, 29, and Jamal, 24, along with a bodyguard. Two years later, Culture Minister then, Asaad al-Hashimi, has been identified as the kingpin behind the killing and was convicted in absentee - Asaad al-Hashimi is now under arrest by an Arab government and should be returned to Iraq in the near future, unless...

I might disagree, and say that al-Alusi's facial expression of grief and anger are merely an expression of frustration towards the situation in Iraq, a bizarre situation where only "open-minded" Iraqis would share and agree to mourn, and to some extent explode from agony.

When I say "open-minded", I am referring to those people who did not align themselves with some who took the news of the killing of al-Alusi's sons as an opportunity to take moral revenge or gloating, by saying "he deserve it, that traitor, because of his visit to Israel." This is non-sense, and inhuman, well, it is common that human value in Arab countries is considered the least to think about - Bush used Arab countries for the torturing and bring up confessions out of his Crusade war prisoners, remember? George W. Bush realize such fact and used it effectively.

Maybe for the above reasons Prime Minister al Malaki asked Mithal al-Alusi (twice?!) to take the position of head of Intelligence and Security system of Iraq. He declined the offer.

Al-Alusi political history is no secret, full of struggle regarding his opposition to the dictatorship of Saddam Hussain. He is affirmative and determine, for example, in December 2002, he was involved in the takeover of the Iraqi embassy in Berlin to protest Saddam's tyranny, and was convicted of hostage taking by a German court and sentenced to three years in jail. His sentence was later reduced to house arrest. After the fall of former regime in Iraq al-Alusi went back to Iraq and resumed his political career with some obstacles here and there due to his outspoken nature, but to all al-Alusi is not just another politician who used to live in exile (Germany), like many we know and heard about, who used to live on social benefits from his host country (and donations from sources with foreign agenda's), while attending meetings and conference to outset the then dictatorship in Iraq.

But... What can Mr. Alusi do for the future of Iraq?

Is he the right person for Iraq?

Iraq needs a strong man to rule, bring people altogether united. Iraq needs ONE figure to clean up the mess, at least for the coming period, at least for the coming 4 to 8 years, especially after the political, social, economic chaos we witnessed after the invasion of US forces and the sectarian violence engulfed the nation and fed by God knows who from east and west.

Wait… I don't want to be misunderstood, Iraq does not need another Saddam, and will never have another Saddam for many years to come, and maybe will never come. Iraq needs a strong political figure with a lot of power, a man who can compensate Iraqis for what they have suffered all the years that gone, but at the same time he can and without hesitation ram his fist do hard down and with might on those who dare to play with the fate of Iraq and the Iraqis.

Unfortunately I did not see that in current prime minister, people praise al-Maliki for being a nice man with nice personality (some call him merciful!), but did not describe him as being powerful, strict, decisive, and I don’t buy these calls by some who align him with promoting law and order, because reality showed that there is none exists in Iraq. 

To the contrary, the qualities of power, determination and baldness all apply to Mithal al-Alusi, yet, many agree that other things goes hand in hand and Mr. al-Alusi  has two weaknesses: The first I already mentioned, his renounced visit to Israel. In my opinion, Isreal is not the United States, neither it is South Africa to just turn the page and starts with another chapter and a new reality. The Arab-Israeli conflict is a complex issue, take a look at what happened after Sadat of Egypt made his move in the late 1970’s, the move was not prepared, the people and citizens are not prepared.

The second point taken against al-Alusi is what some people call it "the political mood of Mithal al-Alusi", or "the quick change of heart regarding Iraq's political scene", as others put it.

To start with, I don't recall someone calls al-Alusi with being Ba'athist, I doubt that someone would dare to do as such, and I laugh when someone dare to call al-Alusi as being Ba'athist, because this show the level of ignorance such a person has, especially that he was one of the founding members of the committee responsible for chasing Saddam's followers after 2003, as I read... but wait, he might get branded with that, is it maybe due to his thick mustache?

Anyway, al-Alusi does not believe in reconciliation, just a one-shot-and-go type of person - maybe this is one of the differences between this man and former prime minister, Ayad Allawy. In addition, Al-Alusi is not a fan of the concept and principle of Arab unity. Further more, he accuses the Arabs of being the portal for the U.S and western allies used to attack Iraq, thus, for the misery Iraq has plagued with. Mithal al-Alusi is a patriotic, meaning Iraq is the first and last priority. He is known for saying "If the interest of Iraq is found deep in hell, I will go there for the sake of this interest". In addition, he shares with his fellow politician Ayad Jamal Al-Din loath and strong hostility towards Iran, because of Iran's interference in Iraq's internal affairs. He shares with Ayad Allawy, though, the idea that Iraq must have a secular government i.e. rejects having religion and politics on the same table, in spite of his strong ties with religious and tribal leaders all over Iraq. Having said the above, it all makes a very complicated formula, in fact, it makes the voter confused by such a figure, taking every point I took independently and deeply into a long and vast argument.

This post is just sharing my thoughts on another distinguished political figure in Iraq, and not to promote another politician. Last time I talked about Ayad Jamal al-Din, tomorrow might be the turn to write about another politician. I would like to share my thoughts and ideas with my friends and fellow bloggers, and to exchange ideas.

On this occasion, having people exchanging their thoughts on the future of Iraq is important, the most important thing for the sake of the people who suffered a lot from wars, dictatorship, death, loss, occupation, being a victim of other’s selfish desire…etc

Above all, we all did see the current government and its conduct in the past 4 years.

I believe it is time for change.

The below video al-Alusi talks about the assassination attempt that killed his both son’s

Monday, February 15, 2010

Real Fake!

This is related to my post on Ayad Jamal Al-DinIt makes me happy that people read my blog and express their admiration to what I write.

Having said that, it saddens me to see someone who just take parts of my writings and tr
...anslate it to Arabic and put it in on an Iraqi website under his signiture.

I would be honored if that person just asks my permission like dear friend, Iraqi Birjwazi did and asked me, becuase this is the way civilized people deal with each other. I will be more than happy to do the translation myself to that person and send it to him/her and not seeing my work published under another name.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Elections 2010: Ayad Jamal Al-Din

After watching his live-interview with Albaghdadia Tv. I thought of writing about what many consider him as the most controversial figure in Iraq politics today, it might be because he has consistently argued that freedom, tolerance and security walk hand-in-hand.
Mr. Jamal Al-Din was born in Najaf in 1961. He went to exile when he was 16 years old, lived in Syria for some time before moving to Qum, Iran where he studied Qu’ran and Shari’a for eight years. He completed his studies earning master degree in philosophy. He is a father of six and lives in Baghdad.

Ayad Jamal Al-Din is the only Iraqi cleric who is promoting for a secular Iraq - he even calling for tolerance among atheists, simply because he is not "representing God's word on earth" - Maybe the reason for that is his big influence by the writing of Ibn al Rumy, a Muslim philosopher and mystic lived in the 9'th century. He strongly believes in Ibn Al Rumy’s say that “religion came to serve the human, and not human was created to serve religion”

He is most known for calling to separate religion from the state: his principle applies to the fact that the state does not have a religion, the people of that state believe in different religions and have different believes, therefore it is not righteous to brand that state with one religion or faith. He praises the political system in Turkey, and expressed his admiration to the doctrine of the United States of America, because both represents the essential concept of building a secular and successful state.

From his own words I quote: A secular state will guarantee the rights and respect of its citizens and a religious state will make its citizens alienate themselves from that state.

His attack on today’s definition of freedom in Iraq did not please a lot of people, check the video below where he was asked whether the bloodshed in Iraq in previous years can be considered as the cost to freedom and democracy in Iraq. His answer was that “we (in Iraq)don’t know what is the definition of freedom, and we don’t know how to deal with the concept of freedom. We are like a small bird who was born in a cage, his father and mother were also born in that cage, as their grandparents before them for more than 1400 years. Now, America came and broke that cage, but that bird is not able to fly high, because he was in the cage for all these years, and never learned how to use his wings. All this caused by our inferior culture, and I don’t the beautiful and tolerant concepts, teachings and principles of beautiful religion of Islam, which set the rules for respect to all humans, I am referring to that culture that made the citizen born and grew up with one thing in mind: to be a slave to his ruler.”

I am not surprised after hearing that this politician had more than 6 assassination attempts on him! Not a lot of people would like to hear such talk today – the uploader of this video is one of those furious from Jamal Al-Din’s talk.

Speaking about that, Jamal Al-Din’s view on other political parties: He calls for transparency among Iraqi politicians, and emphasize for the call for all political parties to declare who is funding them – with all the corruption for the last 4 years and more, Ayad Jamal Al-Din won’t have a lot of good friends around. In addition, he calls for an end outside interference in Iraq’s politics, and THE ONLY SHIITE FIGURE who publicly rejects Iran's role in interfering in Iraq, in addition to his calls for a free Iraq, this include freedom from US occupation. He was for sometime a strong ally to former Prime Minister Ayad Allway (both formed an alliance but fell due to Allawy's policies and overtures to Iran), but he mentions during that interview with Albaghdadia TV that he would be the first to join Allawy on a condition to make the latter’s view on the relationship with Iran clearer and more transparent.

The big question is: will he succeed? He has a big fan base and supporter from both Sunni and Shiite inside Iraq and abroad, mainly because he is calling for the freedom of belief (this is the main concept that Europe adapted after the end of WWII). However, many people are afraid of a cleric in power - someone put it like that "if those religious men in suits came to power and since 2003 did not make one single move to make life easier for the ordinary Iraqis, how do you expect me to elect a cleric?" Ayad Jamal Al-Din replied on a number of interviews that his appearance has nothing to do with the agenda his party is campaigning – he has photos and videos not wearing the Shiite cleric custom, by the way. One of his comments on outside looks and appearance is his rejection to the idea of a woman wearing a headscarf (hijab) in order to find work - which became now the situation in Iraq for many females.

In fact there is a bigger question came to my mind: will he be allowed to succeed? Does Iran ring a bell? What about Saudi Arabia? Ayad Jamal Al-Din criticized on one of the interviews both the first Muslim Khalif Abu Baker and Ayatollah Al Khumaini, and put them both on the same level regarding their use (or misuse) of power.

Finally, I don't want to give the impression by writing this post that I am doing some kind of a free propaganda or promote the image of any political figure, including Jamal Ayad Al-Din, that’s why I didn’t mention his promises in his campaign related to bringing basic services for Iraqis and creating jobs for the unemployed…etc

These are just some thoughts I wanted to share on a political figure in today's Iraq, especially with the elections heat are approaching day after day.

The elections will be next month, 7 of march, unless something will happen that will force it to be postponed - Iraq is the country of surprises.

Below are videos I picked randomly of interviews with Jamal Al-Din (with English subtitles)