16 September 2013

On the Case for War

It's been a while since I've added anything to the blog; really, I only ever do this when I'm incredibly angry at something. This post started life as a facebook status update that got out of hand, so here it is, in its entirety. Enjoy.

I never thought that ten years after protesting against, and later watching helplessly, the invasion of Iraq, I would find myself supporting the idea of another US intervention in the Middle East.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not in any way convinced that the US government has the best interests of the Syrian people at heart. And no, I don't think that the invasion of Iraq was anything but a transparent ploy to either influence the global oil market/settle daddy's old scores/take the American people's attention away from the War on Terror's total failure/increase US influence in the Middle East. But it's not the same thing.

Iraq was crushed in the first Gulf War; its military and any remaining ability to create WMDs was eroded to nothing by a decade of brutal sanctions that killed its people and strengthened Saddam's regime. The UN weapons inspectors took care of the rest, and Iraq complied with their demands, so much that Hans Blix, head of the UN inspection teams reported that the country had no more WMD capability. The US went in anyway, and created the cluster**** that remains to this day, seen in weekly bombings and acts of religiously-motivated murder. Also, embarassingly enough, no WMD were ever found, by ANYONE, in the ten years since.

But Syria is not Iraq ten years ago. And the WMD argument is bull. It doesn't matter that the UN inspectors confirmed the use of Sarin gas in Al Ghouta. It doesn't even matter that chemical weapons were deployed in the first place, or by whom.

What matters is that Assad needs to be stopped, and anything that stops Assad regaining his grip on power and initiating an inevitable campaign of ethnic cleansing against those who opposed him (much like his father did in the 80s) is a good thing.

Yes, intervention will cause deaths and suffering, but in case you haven't noticed, over 100,000 Syrians are dead. I read an article in the Guardian* quoting the figure of 8 confirmed massacres carried out by the Syrian army (Not the rebels, the actual national army). Two million Syrians, half of them children, are now refugees. Suffering and massacres are not some sort of far-off possibility for the Syrian people, but a daily reality for many. This is happening as we speak.

Assad is not the rightful leader of Syria. He's a tyrant; an un-elected president for life who was bequeathed the presidency by his father, who was also president for life, who seized power after a military coup (after which he sold out and eliminated his co-conspirators, but that's a story for another time). His rule is about as legitimate as Kim Jong Un's.

Some people hail Assad's Syria as a bastion of Arab power, beset by western conspiracies. Yet none of these people mention the uncomfortable fact that despite sharing a border with Israel, and being bombed by the Israelis, who also occupy part of the country, Assad has never actually done anything to help the occupied Palestinians, save for offering fiery rhetoric. In fact, the only country Syria has invaded recently was Lebanon.

Also, if he's such a fan of Arab nationalism, why is he in bed with Iran, and why does he have Russian military bases in his country? How is Russian imperialism different to US imperialism?

On that note, why is Putin, the guy who two years ago was practically treated like the antichrist among Arabs, now our chosen saviour? Have we forgiven the second Chechen War and all the deaths that resulted from it, when only recently we were calling him a monster? Do you really believe that Russia and China are interested in the feelings and sovereignty of the Arab people?

So, is the price of "halting US imperialism" going to be paid by innocent Syrians who continue to suffer into the third year of a horrific civil war, the consequences of which will be borne by generations to come? A civil war that is causing ongoing suffering, that will fuel more hatred and cause more deaths the longer it goes on?

Do you feel better that the killing is continuing because at least the "US imperialist machine" has been beaten back? That democracy has prevented nations from going to war? Is it really worth it?

So yeah, the situation is dire. And no, there is no easy way out. Yes, more people are going to die. But if satan himself wanted to take out Assad, I'd gladly sell him my soul. Because you know what? When a nation's army starts systematically killing their own people, the people they are sworn to defend, then there's something very wrong going on. In the case of Syria, that's why so many Syrian military soldiers and commanders defected in the first place. And no, it's not as neat as evil regime vs good rebels. The rebels are responsible for their share of atrocities.

But the fact is, the rebels are ragtag groups fighting for their own ends. The national army is supposed to be held to higher standards, and yet there they are, massacring civilians and shelling them indiscriminately. So no, you cannot equate one to the other. You're a standing army, goddammit! You don't get to play the "War is ugly, so shit happens" card!

And finally, what is up with that brain-dead argument that if the US intervenes, they're supporting Al Qaeda? An idiotic perversion of logic being touted by people I hold (or at least held) in such high esteem, like Robert Fisk and George Galloway. Let me get this argument straight: if two sides find themselves fighting against the same enemy, then they're now somehow in bed with each other? Or do they somehow absorb each others' values through some mystical bellicose osmosis? This is logic worthy of GW Bush's famous statement: "If you're not with us, then you're against us"!

Well, the Nazis banned smoking in public spaces. Does that mean that if I don't want some tactless jerk blowing second-hand cancer into my face, I somehow want to round up ethnic minorities into concentration camps? What sort of moral relativism are we espousing here? How does this even make sense?

Well, there you have it. One person's barely educated analysis of the situation. If you wanna argue, please do. Let's have something logical. You bring your proof, and I'll bring mine. If you're just going to attack me for being a traitor to the Arab cause, then please explain why you're not off fighting to free Palestine and are instead hassling me.

*I can't seem to find the story, but here's a link to the Huffington post. The story was carried by AP: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/11/syria-massacres_n_3905323.html

20 August 2011

Concerning the issue of Jordanian Women's Right to pass Citizenship to their children/ a response to stupid people

I've recently become more aware of the severity of the debate regarding a Jordanian woman's right, or lack thereof, to pass on Jordanian Citizenship to her children (obviously, in cases where the father is a non-Jordanian). It always struck me as ridiculous that the children of a Jordanian mother, even if they have lived in no other country their entire lives, are not eligible for Jordanian citizenship, and are required, in fact, to renew their iqama (basically: Leave to stay in the country) on a yearly basis. They are consigned to live as foreigners in their own homeland, and do not have most of the rights of a Jordanian citizen.

Needless to say, this always struck me as stupid beyond measure, and an obvious violation of the very concept of women's rights (only Jordanian men are allowed to pass on citizenship), and the many international human rights conventions to which Jordan is a signatory. But what really blew my mind is the severe narrow-mindedness that afflicts those who reject any amendment to this law; the utter nonsense that it spouted by people to support this flagrant violation of human rights.

It seems that the majority who are against any changes in this law quote a very specific situation, namely that of the children of Jordanian mothers and Palestinian fathers. I have yet to see any dependable/official numbers about what proportion of women married to non-Jordanians they represent, but they seem to be the go-to category for excuses as to why women should not have this right.

Let's start by recapping some of these "arguments":

1- Giving children of Jordanian mothers/Palestinian fathers will irreparably damage the Palestinian cause
OK, good start there; hit'm where it hurts: Palestinian Rights. So, opponents claim that as soon as these JM/PF kids receive Jordanian Citizenship, they're going to forget their heritage, and lose interest in the Palestinian cause.

First off, the Palestinian cause is not going to be forgotten any time soon, especially in Jordan, which is on the very border of Palestine/Israel and has an enormous number of citizens of Palestinian origin. To say that the primary political obsession of the Middle East is going to be cast aside is ridiculous. But may be the proponents mean something else? Could they mean that this will create problems in terms of political leverage?

Perhaps they do. But look at it this way: Israel was built on the "Historic Jewish Right of Return". If you can prove to be Jewish, you automatically qualify for Israeli citizenship, no matter what passport you hold. If you're a Palestinian, however, tough luck (more on this later). It doesn't matter what you can prove; if you fled your home (or were more likely evicted) during any of the conflicts, you're not likely to be allowed back, let alone given any sort of rights such as citizenship.

But here's the thing: The UNRWA (UN Relief Works Agency), which oversees most Palestinian affairs in refugee camps, has a pretty good idea of how many refugees there are; these names are all documented. Also, 63 years after the establishment of Israel, a whole lot of refugees are now of the second and third and even later generations; they've never been to Palestine, because Israel won't let them in, yet they're not allowed the citizenship of the countries they live in, and thus don't get many rights such as public healthcare and education, or even employment. Isn't it about time we moved on and started giving them some more freedom in the only countries many of them have ever called home?

These individuals still hold onto their Palestinian identity, as do many other Palestinians who live in the Americas, Europe, and Australia, and who are still actively involved in supporting the Palestinian Cause. Why should these be any different?

But the debate does not even concern these Palestinian refugees; it concerns spouses of and children of Jordanian women. Isn't it insulting to think that they would forget their heritage due to a piece of paper? But let's move on to the next point:

2-Sexual Discrimination

A Jordanian man married to a non-Jordanian woman can pass his citizenship to her and to his children. If a Muslim Jordanian man has the legal right to marry four women and give each and her offspring Jordanian citizenship, why is it far-fetched to say that a woman, who is only allowed one husband, be given the same right? Are we to believe that the father plays more of a role in asserting a child's identity, especially in a part of the world that is still overwhelmingly operating under the traditional stay-at-home mother archetype?

If women are supposed to raise the children and spend most of their time at home with them while the father is out working, who is really going to have a more profound impact on a child's identity?

What we have here is pure sexual discrimination.

3- The "Demographic" Argument

This one has to be my favourites, if only for the amount of barely-concealed racism. A lot of people argue that allowing these "multitudes" of half Palestinian children to become Jordanian citizens would adversely impact Jordan's demographic makeup.

Excuse me? So these people who live in Jordan, and have done so for most, if not all, of their lives, who are already part of Jordanian Society and their own communities, who already live here, are going to hugely alter the country's demographic composition? Do the people making this argument even understand what demographics are? It's not like you're opening the floodgates to foreign invasion; these people already live here. They are already a part of this country, although they don't have the rights that everyone else does, most importantly in terms of their hindered access to education, employment and inability to travel abroad. Also, am I the only person who thinks this sounds exactly like one of the reasons Israeli politicians give for not considering the Palestinian Right of Return? To maintain "the Jewish character" of Israel? How are Jordanians being any less racist in this case?

4- The Scary Agendas Argument

It just gets more nonsensical from here on. A lot of anti-citizenship campaigners talk about how those who campaign for the Right of a woman to pass on citizenship are agents for foreign interests and have "hidden agendas" that are aimed at compromising the country's sovereignty.

Let me be frank: this doesn't mean anything to me. It's meant to be vague because that's what the best fear-mongering is about: give them a non-specific threat and make their imaginations fill in the blanks.

Whose agenda is giving women the same rights as men serving? The "West"? Israel? Who could possibly benefit from Jordan becoming a more progressive and lawful country besides its own citizens? Jordan has already committed to a large number of international Human Rights treaties, most important of which is the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights (which is legally binding to all member states).

Discrimination is not something that can be allowed to continue. If Jordanians wish to see their country progress socially, culturally and economically, then we have to embrace these rights that our country agrees to, and not try to show one face to the world and another to our people.

Give women the Right to pass on citizenship to their children and spouses. It's the right thing to do.

Also, if you disagree with what I have to say, you're more than welcome to post a comment below. However, if you're going to be abusive, please note that your comment will not be taken seriously, and will be deleted.

14 February 2010

Funny Man

I've always fancied myself a bit of a funny person; I could always come up with a fairly humourous one-liner when I needed to, and as I got older, I got more confident and started doing this more and more often.

That was fun. But what was even more fun (or funner, as some of my students say, and, if you will allow me to go on a tangent, is a real word that my spellcheck recognises, even through it doesn't recognise spellcheck, humourous, or even recognise).......I sort of got lost.....ah, yes! What was even more fun was going up on stage and doing Stand Up for the first time.

Don't get me wrong: it's a pants-shittingly scary experience: I wrote down ideas for months before I had enough stuff for seven onstage, and only got the chance to perform four minutes' worth. When I got onstage at the Amman Stand Up Comedy Festival, I had actually been to the toilet five times in the hour and a bit I'd spent backstage. It was pretty scary.

But it all went reasonably well. If you'd like to, you can see it here.

Anyway, what I'm trying to do is artificially inflate the number of views, but all's fair in love and war and stand up comedy, no?

If you liked this, myself and a few friends are due to be performing at Books@Cafe in the very near future. It'll be free, so come on down and enjoy a night of laughs. I'll give you the details as soon as I have them.

And remember: Your support is important! Starting a Jordanian comedy scene is a lofty goal, but it also lets me charge people money to talk about their products. So do the right thing!

06 August 2008

The best Sci-Fi and Fantasy books EVER (in my humble opinion) Part I - Fantasy

Y'know something? I'm happy to see all these new bookshops opening around the country, offering quite a wealth of books in Arabic and English (and sometimes French). It's even refreshing to see kids (and adults) taking an interest in some proper Sci-fi/fantasy books, too. I've had a huge love affair with sci-fi and fantasy over the years, and despite the fact that much of what I've read can be classified as trash, there are a few books out there that truly offer unique take on the genres.

Fantasy is somewhat easier to write about: even though I've only ever read one of his books, I think David Gemmel is a very good writer. Terry Goodkind's earlier works (before 2001), though slightly preachy, were compelling reads with good plots (after 2001, he became an ultra right-wing nutter who probably advocates nuking the Middle East, or so his books seem to suggest. The main character, Richard, who is called the Seeker of Truth and is a good guy with a conscience, somehow now has no problem killing evildoers without remorse, since it's only right to do so.....yeah...right...killing people without caring is no big deal. Idiot).

Also, I've started reading Neil Jordan's Wheel of Time series, which, I can say based on an informed reading of the first five pages, looks decent enough to get into.

Although he doesn't quite fall under the same category, the historical fiction of Bernard Cornwell (All the Sharpe books) is superb: the man knows what he's on about, and his more recent series, the name of which I can't remember, save for the title of one of the books, Harlequin, is an entertaining read.

Of course, let us never forget the true master of fantasy, the man who pretty much set the standard for modern sword-and-sorcery: J.R.R. Tolkien himself, whose books, more than fifty years later, are still incredibly popular. If you've never read the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, pick them up now; they're well worth it. The Hobbit is a quick and easy read, and quite entertaining. Lord of the Rings is a bit complicated and spends far too much time describing trees and too little time describing action, but once you get through it, you'll understand why it's the ultimate work of fantasy ever written, and that everything that came after copied Tolkien.

If you are a glutton for punishment, and want to read stories that make the events of LotR look like a pre-school picture book, find a copy of the Silmarillion and read it. Three times. It'll take you that long to sort out everyone's name and understand the relationships between the various characters, but the book is well worth it. Essentially, it is the history of Arda, the world where LotR takes place from creation and until the end of LotR. The stuff that happens in the First Age of the world is so goddamn hardcore, it makes the battle of the Pelennor Fields in Return of the King look like a water balloon fight. Seriously, the Silmarillion should be Tolkien's most popular work.

Well, that's enough for now: gotta head off to a meeting. See you next time for part two: The best Sci-fi books EVER!

07 July 2008

The Shoddy State of Advertising in the Arab World

Is it just me, or is advertising in the Arab world really shite? It seems we are completely incapable of producing anything of any quality, because the majority of our TV and Radio advertising panders to the worst possible set of retarded ideas and even more retarded products.

Exhibit A: Skin Bleaching Creams.

It was bad enough when the stupidly-branded "fair and lovely" started polluting our screens with the idea that if you're not white, you're ugly, now we have Olay, a major cosmetics company, promoting their own bleach-you-pretty products. Now, seriously, do we really want to go around promoting the idea that if you're not a certain skin colour, you are automatically ugly and doomed to a life of failure and being a social outcast?

Exhibit B: Other Stupid Cosmetic Products

Meet Jane Doe: An aspiring journalist with dandruff. Due to the fact that she is afflicted by this terrible modern equivalent to leprosy, syphilis and the bubonic plague rolled into one, she can't find a job. However, the miracle of X-Company's revolutionary Product X can cure her of her stupidity, ineptitude and the unfairness of a capitalist system, allowing her to land a dream job as a TV Reporter.

Well, I fucking want some of that product! I mean, can you imagine the possibilities? Getting into clubs for free? Getting free drinks? Having people pay for your shopping? Getting the Nobel Prize for Physics! The sky's the limit! And all you have to do is get this magical product!

Exhibit C: Dubbing Advertisements

It's bad enough that you have stupid people acting in your ads, but why oh why would you want to upgrade the level of stupidity by having mentally-deficient people dub the damn thing in the SAME language just to "improve" the voices? I mean seriously, people...don't you realise that these idiots you hire are extremely annoying and only make the stupid ad worse? Haven't you realised yet that dubbing never works out completely right, and it ends up sounding like garbage?

Give us a break, and think of something better, dammit! Some originality would be nice!

17 November 2007

So much to catch up on....

Wow...it's really been a long time since I've blogged. There's so much I've wanted to say, a lot of anger I've wanted to let out, and many beautiful things to talk about.

So where does one start after such a hiatus?

Wherever the mind takes you, I guess.

Being Engaged

Now that's a cool experience. Scary as hell considering all the financial questions that keep coming up, especially with property prices being what they are, and all rent control going out the window in 2010. So, what'll happen to us? We can't afford to buy a house, and I'm afraid to think about what rent will be like in two years. Very scary, I warrant.


I feel like a bit of a cheat. I don't really want to vote, even though I strongly believe that I should. I'm sure that a lot of the candidates out there deserve a vote, but to be honest, there's so little I know about any of them. It's ridiculous! Despite websites like 7iber.com (which offers some background on candidates), I still know nothing beyond the stupid gimmicks plastered along with their unflatteringly-photographed faces all over the city. And on that note, why is Mamdouh Abbadi the only person who looks remotely trustworthy? Everyone else looks like they've been photographed after being arrested. And don't even get me started about the bearded guy with the bad comb-over! You're going bald, mate. DEAL WITH IT. Those 12 strands of hair aren't fooling anyone!


No, not the cartoon, but a very interesting TV series I got on DVD about a police forensics expert by day/serial killer by night. But Dexter's actually a very likable character; he only kills "bad" people who escaped the punishment of the law on some technicality. Still, he's a murderer, and a very brutal one at that. Kind of begs the question: How much better than his victims is he? Interesting. In any case, get the series. It's worth watching. Seriously.


Q: Why will piracy never go away, despite the legislation that governments try to impose on copyright and intellectual property?
A: Because everyday people have no wish to pay 15 JDs for a CD that costs 0.10 JD to make.

It's simple math, folks. DVDs and CDs do not cost that much to make or package. Most of the money goes as profits to the people who import, ship, and sell them. You can just potter down to a million places in Balad and buy a DVD for 1 JD a pop, or cheaper if you buy ten at a time. Why on earth would you spend twice as much for an original? One original vs. Twenty pirated. The math is simple. Unless someone wants to start giving consumers cheaper copies, I really don't see why anyone should care that EMI, Virgin Records, or Sony are making any less money. Sell your products at a more reasonable price, and then we'll talk.

That being said, I definitely don't believe that piracy is always justified. I firmly believe that local talent should be supported, mostly because it sucks to be a musician, actor, writer or filmmaker in this part of the world, and you need every qirsh you can get. Plus, local stuff is usually cheaper.

I know a lot of people will have issue with this post, but it's just personal opinion here. Comments are welcome!

It's good to be back...

21 June 2007

What a weird 24 hours!

There's really something to be said about having a bunch of experiences that are completely novel within a 24-hour period. Case in point? It's now nine a.m. I've been up since six working on finishing an article, having gone to sleep at two a.m. yesterday night. Somehow, I'm lucid, possibly thanks to the fact that I don't really have to do anything for a while after today.

Oh, and I proposed to my girlfriend last night, as well. Now that's a novel experience, too. She said yes, by the way, and I knew she would, but it was still a nerve wracking experience, setting everything up to be perfect. Somehow, despite minor glitches, everything worked out perfectly. And there was the look on her face, of course. Excuse me for waxing poetic, but I don't think I've ever seen her look that beautiful.

So, now I have to relearn typing whilst wearing a ring on my right hand (well, an engagement band, anyway...guys do wear those, right? Or is it just after the wedding? I'm confused), and since I haven't worn a ring since I was seventeen (and god, what a hideous ring that was), visions of oddly swollen fingers abound...this should be interesting...

Well, my train of thought left the platform long ago, and here I am, running through the ticket stands trying to catch it, but it remains elusive as a greased eel in a vat of oil (that is to say, very elusive). So, before I go off on another tangent, I'm off to get some seafood...I have a strange craving for fried calamari (and yes, I do realise it's squid, not eel, but work with me!)

27 December 2006

Whatever happened to just being an Arab?

Ah, rants. Life just wouldn't be the same without them. Today's subject of choice shall be "whatever happened to being an Arab?"

It seems to me these days that everyone in the Arab World seems to be Sunni, Shi'a, Kurdish, Maronite, (other) Christian, Assyrian, Phoenician...basically belonging to any religious or ethnic group other than Arabs. OK, fair enough for the Assyrians, and the Kurds, but where does everybody else fit in?

For those who wish to say that the Arab World was never totally ethnically Arab, you're absolutely right. A lot of people tell me I look foreign. That might well be due to my slightly European features and light skin. Yet I don't really look European/white/Caucasian. I look Arab, as far as I'm concerned. The only place I've found people who look like me is in the Arab World, particularly the Levant.

But I guess that's the point. It never was the "Arab" world. Not in the strict sense of ethnicity, I guess. Arabs have probably been the majority in the past few thousand years, but they're hardly the only race that inhabits the area. In fact, the "Arab" in Arab World is closer in meaning to the term "European".

So what does this mean? it means that I believe in the term Pan-Arabism still. I don't want to see the whole of the Middle East and North Africa torn to pieces because of stupid, petty racial and religious squabbles that have no place in our collective culture.

Let's just try to get over these little adolescent tantrums that led Europe through two world wars, and finally to union. We had that union. Though it was never that effective, let's see if we can make it better rather than going through that process again.

04 December 2006

Resolutions: People I should physically harm

I've decided to start a series of articles to publish my violent fantasies of retribution against those who trespass against me, my friends, or the bounds of public decency. Henceforth, when I feel the particular desire to let off steam, I can either hurt someone, or write about it.

So, just a quick entry today on the theme of people I should physically harm. Today's entry is about those three twats who wouldn't stop talking during Casino Royale last Wednesday.

Crime: Speaking and making little adolescent arsehole comments throughout the film.

Punishment: Yell out to my friends for back-up and kick each of their heads in, preferably during the performance and in full view of everyone.

1-Remember that I'm much bigger and stronger than the average 7afartali arsehole
2-Forget about pacifist mindset and live by the rule of Nemo me impune lacessit (Let no man fuck with me)
3-Perpetuate the pre-existing cycle of violence in the world to make myself feel better about dispencing Karmic justice on all deservers.

Man, I feel better already.

05 November 2006

Lost Words

It's strange how often things can snowball and make life unbearable. It's strange how often you feel like curling up into a little ball and avoiding everyone in the world. It's strange how you always need some space, a place to be alone in the world, away from all the terrible shit that seems to cross your path and jump out from behind every corner.

We all need space sometimes; a haven, if you will, where we can just hide, collect our thoughts, or even distract ourselves from those nagging troubles that won't go away. Today, I'm sitting at the office at six thirty in the evening doing just that. There are people who are very close to me who I hate with utter contempt. There are those I love who I find it difficult to be with right now. It seems that those places that used to offer so much support and direction have now become the sources of stress. To quote a much better writer than myself: So from that spring whence comfort seem'd to come, discomfort swells (Macbeth 1II).

The words that are lost are many. They are of betrayal, shame, cowardice (both mine and theirs), and an unwillingness to do what is necessary. But necessary to whom? That is the question.

Well, I have some stale coffee and an old egg sandwhich to get back to. May your day be going a little better.