Jill Carroll and Dan Murphy explain how, because of the U.S. waning influence in Iraq today, Americans will likely cut a deal with political figures who've had direct ties to the insurgency in order to "cut the Shiites down to size." [the words of Dan Plesch, a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London]. This will very likely increase the short-term risk of violence. Expect more blood, violence, and death. It's too late, from a political standpoint, for the U.S. to "reoccupy" Iraq. Taxpayers would never "go for" the costs that it would entail in lives and treasure. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad will be a key player in future negotiations (with "terrorists" - or whatever George W. Bush and the Pentagon are calling "them" these days). This is a far cry from the early muscular Bushworld promises of never negotiating with the "enemy." That kind of rhetoric may have won Bush some votes, but in the real world, it never could have won this war.
The idea of the creation of an international donor body is being entertained. It would have to be one that would allow for real influence to be exercised by all partners. David Mack, vice president of the Middle East Institute in Washington says:
"If we could do something like western Europe after World War II, where economic support for Iraq was internationalized and we contributed heavily, that would be far more attractive to the Iraqis than anything we have offered so far."
This should be an interesting development to watch.
The second PEN World Voices Festival will feature 50 international writers who will gather in April, 2006 to explore the timely theme of Faith and Reason. Some of the featured writers:
Chris Abani, Boris Akunin, Sherman Alexie, Roberto Calasso, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Nadine Gordimer, David Grossman, Moses Isegawa, Elias Khoury, Henning Mankell, Helen Oyeyemi, Anna Politkovskaya, Asne Seierstad, Colm Tóibín
Nadia - A Victim of the Silent War in Afghanistan Women in Afghanistan, victims of domestic violence, continue to struggle for their rights
Violence against women in Afghanistan is still a major problem. Being female - being a writer - and being a wife in Afghanistan is still an extremely perilous proposition. This is a story that is a couple months old, but was only discussed briefly on the blogs. Last November 4, following a fight with her husband, young Afghan poet Nadia Anjuman died. Farid Ahmad Majid Nia, 27, Nadia’s husband of 15 months, was arrested and charged with her murder. A lecturer in philology at Herat University, he has vehemently proclaimed his innocence. Nadia committed suicide, he insists. His story goes:
She became angry, and cursed me, calling me names like ‘ass’ and ‘son of a bitch’. I slapped her,” he said. A few hours later, according to Farid, Nadia came to him and told him she had taken poison. [about.com]
Nadia’s family and friends did not believe her husband.
“Farid called me and told me that Nadia had taken poison,” said Nadia’s mother, who did not want her name used. “But when I got to the hospital, I saw that Nadia’s face and neck were all bruised.
A close friend of Nadia said:
“Nadia was very religious and she strongly condemned those who committed suicide. She said it was against Islam.”
This is not to publically try the husband, but to point out that violence against women should never be accepted or tolerated - not in any culture. What makes this even sadder is that Nadia and her husband had a six-month-old daughter. What will that little girl grow up to understand about her mother, whose face and touch she may never remember?
Women are not seen as human beings in Afghanistan, but like commodities that people can sell, trade or buy. There are totally inadequate human rights for women in Afghanistan - they cannot study, they cannot work, they are married off at the age of tweleve or thirteen.
Even though human rights issues are greatly discussed and cared for by the society and the government, protection of women’s rights has not been a priority. The murder of 25-year-old poet Nadia Anjoman by her husband, a university professor in Herat, is a symbol of this inhuman violence that has strongly affected people who care for and struggle to protect human rights and human values.
The United Nations condemned the killing as symptom of continuing violence against Afghan women four years after the fall of the Taliban. Afghanistan is a place that is rich in poetic tradition where the common people love to hear or read poems and often know quite a few by heart. The Sufi poet Rumi was from a village in what is now Afghanistan. Nadia risked torture, imprisonment, perhaps even death to study literature and write poetry in secret under the Taliban. She was becoming well known, especially in literary circles. She was widely praised for her first book of poems, titled "Gule Dudi," or "Dark Flower." A tip of the hat to Mah-mag for the translation of one of Nadia's haunting poems:
A poem by: Nadia Anjuman Translated by: Mahnaz Badihian
No desire to open my mouth What should I sing of...? Me, who is hated by life, No difference to sing or not to sing. Why should I talk of sweetness? When I feel bitterness. Oh, the oppressors feast Knocked my mouth. I have no companion in life Who can I be sweet for? No difference to say, to laugh, To die, to be. Me and my strained solitude. With sorrow and sadness. I was borne for nothingness. My mouth should be sealed. Oh my heart, you know it is spring And time to celebrate. What should I do with a trapped wing? Which does not let me fly. I have been silent for too long, But I never forget the melody, Since every moment I whisper The songs from my heart, Reminding myself of A day I will break the cage. Fly from This solitude And sing like a melancholic. I am not a weak poplar tree To be shaken By any wind. I am an Afghan woman, Makes sense to moan always.
I have seen no updates on the murder case, and I wonder if any will be forthcoming. Nadia's words call out for justice, in her own case and in the case of all women in Afghanistan today. It is said that terror will always be present where democracy fails to exist. If that is true, what can we say of the new "democracy" in Afghanistan? If women continue to be terrorized in the quiet places beyond the sounds of the warlords' guns and bombs, how has democracy succeeded?
When we hear our President speaking about "bringing terrorists to justice," we have to ask ourselves - what happens to the terrorists who are culturally empowered to abuse women?
In other women's news, Ritu Sharma, president and co-founder of the Women's Edge Coalition, a Washington-based advocate for the world's poorest women, explains why she believes that investing in women and giving them a prominent voice and role in reconstruction is the most effective way to help a community recover from natural disasters.
At the Women's Edge Coalition website, there are updates on the Tsunami recovery.
According to campaign donation information gathered by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics, the following officeholders and candidates have received political donations from Abramoff since 2000:
Tom DeLay (R-Texas). John Ashcroft (R-Mo.). Frank A. LoBiondo (R-NJ). Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Arlen Specter (R-Pa.). John Ensign (R-Nev.). Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). Charles H. Taylor (R-NC). Chris Cannon (R-Utah). Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). Mark Foley (R-Fla.). Richard Pombo (R-Calif.). Christopher S. "Kit" Bond (R-Mo.). Curt Weldon (R-Pa.). Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.). Doug Ose (R-Calif.). Ernest J. Istook (R-Okla.). George R. Nethercutt Jr. (R-Wash.). Jim Bunning (R-Ky.). Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.). Tom Feeney (R-Fla.). Dan Burton (R-Ind.). Eric Cantor (R-Va.). Suzanne Terrell (R-La.). Rob Simmons (R-Conn.). Charles W. "Chip" Pickering Jr. (R-Miss.). Connie Morella (R-Md.). Gordon H. Smith (R-Ore.). James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.). James M. Talent (R-Mo.). John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.). John Thune (R-SD). Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.). Bob Smith (R-Fla.). Bob Ney (R-Ohio). CL. "Butch" Otter (R-Idaho). Carolyn W. Grant (R-NC). Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.). Elizabeth Dole (R-NC). Heather Wilson (R-NM). J. Randy Forbes (R-Va.). Jack Kingston (R-Ga.). James V. Hansen (R-Utah). John Cornyn (R-Texas). Kimo Kaloi (R-Hawaii). Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.). Mike Ferguson (R-NJ). Mike Simpson (R-Idaho). Ralph Regula (R-Ohio). Ric Keller (R-Fla.). Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). Dave Camp (R-Mich.). Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.). Tom Young (R-Ala.). Bill Janklow (R-SD). Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.). Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.). William L. Gormley (R-NJ). Bill McCollum (R-Fla.). Bill Redmond (R-NM). Bob Riley (R-Ala.). Claude B. Hutchison Jr. (R-Calif.). Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.). Francis E. Flotron (R-Mo.). George Allen (R-Va.). Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.). Walter B. Jones Jr. (R-NC). Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Bob Smith (R-Fla.). Joe Pitts (R-PA). Charles H. Taylor (R-NC). Bob Ehrlich (R-Md.). Charles R. Gerow (R-Pa.). Ed Royce (R-Calif.). Elia Vincent Pirozzi (R-Calif.). Jerry Weller (R-Ill.). Mark Emerson (R-Utah). Tom Davis (R-Va.). Van Hilleary (R-Tenn.).
Americans for a Republican Majority, Leadership PAC of Tom DeLay (R-Texas). Republican Majority Fund, Leadership PAC of Don Nickles (R-Okla.). Keep Our Majority PAC, Leadership PAC of Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Leadership PAC, Leadership PAC of Michael G. Oxley (R-Ohio). Rely on Your Beliefs, Leadership PAC of Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Friends of the Big Sky, Leadership PAC of Conrad Burns (R-Mont.). Senate Victory Fund, Leadership PAC of Thad Cochran (R-Miss.). American Liberty PAC, Leadership PAC of Bob Ney (R-Ohio). Battle Born PAC, Leadership PAC of John Ensign (R-Nev.). Fund for a Free Market America, Leadership PAC of Phil Crane (R-Ill.). Team PAC, Leadership PAC of J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.). The Republican Party of New Jersey.
George W. Bush (R).
Notice anything similar? Each and every name listed, each and every PAC, has an (R) after it. The Center for Responsive Politics does not have one Democrat - not one - listed as having received a donation from Jack Abramoff.