Wednesday, March 12, 2003

The Michael Rivero -- whatreallyhappened.com story archive

What Really Happens At Whatreallyhappened.com?
For a website dedicated to exposing hidden truths, there is a suspicious lack of information about those who support the enterprise.

Borrowing the Skeleton from Senator Trent Lott's Closet
Continuation of the original story

The other side of the "What Really Happens" story
The detailed concerns of the corporation named in the previously installments of "What Really Happens at whatreallyhappened.com"

A picture worth 269 words
Michael Riveo of whatreallyhappened.com offeres bogus "evidence" of World Trade Center conspiracy

Forgeries, Denials and the Facts in-between
Confronting false charges made against Anne Frank's diary and the "infiltration" of Indymedia

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Misjudged and Misplaced
Rania Kashi, 19 year-old daughter of exiled Iraqi Shiite Muslim parents and a Cambridge University student, was quite surprised to hear her words quoted by Prime Minister Tony Blair last month. An email she sent to a few close friends detailing her thoughts on the Iraq crisis had apparently been flash forwarded across the internet. In the days since her email gained international noteriety, Rania has attained an unwanted, if quiet, celebrity. Her unconventional argument serves as a poignant reminder that the opinion of the Iraqi population has been largely ignored.

Courtesy of openDemocracy.net

Dear All,

I am writing this email after a lot of deliberation about whether I have the right to argue the case for an invasion in Iraq. But in the end I have decided that if I keep quiet I have more to lose.

My parents, my family, are from Iraq. My parents fled from Iraq some twenty-three years ago leaving everything and everyone behind. At that point, seventeen of our relatives had been "disappeared" or imprisoned for no reason whatsoever.

They sought refuge in Kuwait for four years, but once again were forced to flee with us (my brother and I) when Saddam had the Kuwaitis deport the Iraqi men back to Iraq. On the border he had these returnees shot dead.

We were lucky; we made it safely to Britain. My father was lucky – his brother was caught trying to escape, and tortured. So here I am, nineteen years later, never having set foot in the country of my parents.

The anti-"war" feeling prevalent among most people I speak to seems to me totally misjudged and misplaced. (Incidentally, the quotation marks here are deliberate: in truth it will be no war, but an invasion. A war presumes relatively equal forces battling against each other, with resistance on both sides. A US-led force will encounter no resistance from the Iraqi people nor the army).

I have to be honest here and say that, to me, this feeling is based partly on a great misunderstanding of the situation in Iraq, and partly on people's desire to seem "politically rebellious" against the big, bad Americans.

Let me say also, that I agree the American government is indeed big and bad; I have no illusions about its true intentions behind an attack on Iraq. The Iraqis have long known the ignorant and truly atrocious attitude of the American government towards most of the world's population. Iraqis felt the effect of this when America (and other western countries) eagerly supported and supplied Saddam when he waged his war-of-attrition against Iran between 1990 and 1998, causing the death of 1 million Iraqis and Iranians and the disappearance of many more. There was no anti-war movement to help them.

Iraqis also felt the effect of this attitude when America and the west ignored, supplied even, Saddam's use of biological weapons on the people of Halabja in 1998, killing 5,000 people immediately, and causing the deformed births of children in the area to this day.

Iraqis knew well the untrustworthy nature of western governments when the coalition gave Saddam permission, a few days after the end of the Gulf war of 1991, to massacre the rising people after they had wrested control from him of most of Iraq's cities.

In short, the people inside Iraq know the realities of American and western policy towards their country far better even than Iraqis outside -- for they live with its realities every day.

Questions to the protestors
I now want to invite those who support the anti-"war" movement (apart from pacifists -- that is a totally different situation) to ask themselves some hard questions about their motives and reasoning.

You may feel that America is trying to blind you from seeing the truth about its real reasons for an invasion. I must argue that in fact, it is you who are still blind to the bigger truths in Iraq. I must ask you to consider the following questions:

  • Saddam has murdered more than a million Iraqis over the past thirty years; are you willing to allow him to kill another million?

  • Out of a population of 20 million, 4 million Iraqis have been forced to flee their country during Saddam’s reign. Are you willing to ignore the real and present danger that caused so many people to leave their homes and families?

  • Saddam rules Iraq using fear; he regularly imprisons, executes and tortures large numbers of people for no reason whatsoever. This may be hard to believe, and you may not even appreciate the extent of such barbaric acts, but believe me you will be hard-pressed to find a single family in Iraq which has not had a son/father/brother killed, imprisoned, tortured and/or "disappeared" due to Saddam’s regime. What then has been stopping you from taking to the streets to protest against such blatant crimes against humanity in the past?

  • Saddam gassed thousands of political prisoners in one of his campaigns to "cleanse" prisons; why are you not protesting against this barbaric act?

  • This is an example of the dictator's policy you are trying to save. Saddam has made a law excusing any man who rapes a female relative and then murders her in the name of adultery. Do you still want to march to keep him in power?

  • Throughout my life, my father and many other Iraqis have attended constant meetings, protests and exhibitions that call for the end of Saddam's reign. I remember when I was around 8 years old, I went along with him to a demonstration at the French embassy, protesting against the French sale of weapons to Saddam. I have attended the permanent rally against Saddam that has been held every Saturday in Trafalgar Square for the past five years. The Iraqi people have been protesting for years against the war: the war that Saddam has waged against them. Where have you been?

  • Why is it now -- at the very time that the Iraqi people are being given real hope, however slight and however precarious, that they can live in an Iraq that is free of the horrors partly described in this email -- that you deem it appropriate to voice your disillusions with America's policy in Iraq?

Speak out -- for democracy in Iraq
Whatever America's real intentions behind an attack, the reality on the ground is that the majority of Iraqis, inside and outside Iraq, support invasive action, because they are the ones who have to live with the realities of continuing as things are -- while people in the west wring their hands over the rights and wrongs of dropping bombs on Iraq, when in fact the US and the UK have been continuously dropping bombs on Iraq for the past twelve years.

Of course it would be ideal if an invasion could be undertaken, not by the Americans, but by, say, the Nelson Mandela International Peace Force. That's not on offer. The Iraqi people cannot wait until such a force materialises; they have been forced to take what they're given. That such a force does not exist -- cannot exist -- in today's world is a failing of the very people who do not want America to invade Iraq, yet are willing to let thousands of Iraqis die in order to gain the higher moral ground.

I say to them: do not continue to allow the Iraqi people to be punished because you are "unhappy" with the amount of power America is allowed to wield in a faulty world. Do not use the Iraqi people as a pawn in your game for moral superiority -- when you allow a monster like Saddam to rule for thirty years without so much as protesting against his rule, you lose the right to such a claim.

Do not get me wrong. I am not saying that war is a good thing and that all should happily support it, but I feel that the current anti-"war" movement has been hijacked by an anti-Americanism that ignores the horrors and realities of living under Saddam's rule.

If you want to make your disillusions heard then do speak out. But I urge you to put pressure on Blair, Bush & Co to keep to their promises of restoring democracy to Iraq. Make sure they do put back, in financial aid, what they have taken out over the years. Make sure that they don’t betray the Iraqis again. March for democracy in Iraq, be part of ensuring that America doesn't just install another dictator after Saddam.

I urge you to consider your reasons for supporting the anti-"war" movement, and if you are going, the anti-"war" demonstration on 15 February. If you still feel that what I have said does not sway you from this stance, then I can do no more.

There is much to admire about the movement; it has proven what people can achieve when they come together and speak out. Unfortunately for Iraq, nobody spoke out earlier.

Please feel free to email me with your counter-arguments, comments and thoughts.

Monday, March 10, 2003

A Message from the Arab American Institute
While the rhetoric flies and the cruise missiles wait, one cautious voice struggles to be heard.

Washington Watch
March 10, 2003

SHEIKH ZAYED WAS RIGHT
Dr. James J. Zogby
President, AAI

The United Arab Emirates' Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Nahayan did the right thing by publicly calling on Saddam Hussein to resign and go into exile. On at least three significant counts, he was right.

Firstly, it is important to acknowledge, that the awful regime in Baghdad has lost any claim to legitimacy. It has been extraordinarily brutal and repressive. It has a history of reckless adventurism and it has squandered its nation's human and natural resources. The consequences of this behavior have been tragic. The Iraqi people have paid a terrible price, as have the Kuwaitis and others as well.

In fact, to understand how disastrous this regime has been, one need only imagine what Iraq, and the region as a whole, might have become had the qualities, intelligence and wealth of the Iraqi people been directed by a wiser leadership. Given the record of this group in Baghdad, it should be delegitimized and ostracized. They should go. And contrary to the charges of the Iraqi spokespersons, calling on this regime to step aside is not a traitorous and cowardly act, in reality, it represents the best of Arab patriotism.

A second reason why Sheikh Zayed was right to issue his proposal is that this question of Iraq should be an Arab responsibility. This is not a matter for the United States or Great Britain. Their involvement has no foundation in international law and can only create greater regional instability.

The people of Iraq need a message of support and hope from the broader Arab world. The regime has brutally crushed its opponents and has killed even those it merely imagines to be its opponents. And now it is, once again, playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship that places the lives of its people at risk.

Recent efforts at western intervention have proved disastrous for the people of Iraq. The U.S. and others cruelly played both sides of the Iran-Iraq war. And the post-Gulf War sanctions program was devastating to the people of the country. The impact of sanctions has been to allow the regime to control vastly diminished wealth, which it has used to consolidate its power at the expense of the majority of the Iraqi people.

The Iraqis need to know that the Arab world cares about their future and will work with them to reconstruct their country, preserve its sovereignty and integrity, and help it be restored to its regional leadership role.

Finally, Sheik Zayed was right to issue to this challenge as a last ditch attempt to stave off a devastating war that will have terrible consequences in human life and regional stability. The neo-imperial goals of the architects of this imminent war pose a great danger to the region. The consequences of the unilateral war being pressed by the Bush Administration will have a negative impact on US relations with the Arab world. It may harm our allies, inflame public sentiment in some quarters, put our interests at risk and further compromise our values. The American people have not been told a simple truth which is that, in the eyes of most Arabs, America lacks the legitimacy and moral authority to impose itself on Iraq. As a result of our unbalanced policies, we are not viewed as liberators who will bring democracy and freedom.

By seeking a broad Arab consensus to delegitimize the Iraqi regime, to pressure it to quit, to empower the Iraqi people and to pledge Arab and United Nations support to rebuild, Sheik Zayed's proposal offers an alternative to a war that must be avoided.