Friday, February 01, 2008

New beginning

So this chapter in my life is coming to an end, living and working in Kuwait. A new beginning is in front of me as I head off to another continent. My next big adventure is to learn more about humanism.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Arab Humanism


Many medieval Muslim thinkers pursued humanistic, rational and scientific discourses in their search for knowledge, meaning and values. A wide range of Islamic writings on love poetry, history and philosophical theology show that medieval Islamic thought was open to the humanistic ideas of individualism, occasional secularism, skepticism and liberalism.

Religious freedom, though limited, helped create cross-cultural networks by attracting Muslim, Christian and Jewish intellectuals and thereby helped spawn the greatest period of philosophical creativity in the Middle Ages from the 8th to 13th centuries.[5]


Contemporary humanism can be traced back through the Renaissance back to the Islamic Golden Age to its ancient Greek roots. Humanism can also be traced back to the time of Gautama Buddha (563-483 BCE) and Confucius (551–479 BCE) and the Warring States Period, though the term "humanism" is more widely associated with Western philosophers.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Iraqi Philosopher

Al-Kindi was born and brought up in Kufah, which was a center for Arab culture and learning in the 9th century. This was certainly the right place for al-Kindi to get the best education possible at this time. Although quite a few details of al-Kindi's life are given in various sources, these are not all consistent. We shall try to give below details which are fairly well substantiated.

Al-Kindi defined Philosophy as 'the establishment of what is true and right' and believed that the pursuit of philosophy was compatible with orthodox Islam. He said - "We ought not to be embarrassed of appreciating the truth and of obtaining it wherever it comes from, even if it comes from races distant and nations different from us. Nothing should be dearer to the seeker of truth than the truth itself, and there is no deterioration of the truth, nor belittling either of one who speaks it or conveys it."


Backing Kuwait's Stand against Terrorism
By Michael Knights
February 11, 2005

Five firefights between Kuwaiti government forces and terrorist cells since January 10, 2005, have brought the hitherto low-profile issue of Kuwait's role in the war on terror to the fore. The incidents highlight the increased terrorist threat in a country that, in addition to attracting the normal commercial contingent of Western expatriates, plays the vital role of hosting an estimated 37,500 servicemen and military contractors supporting operations in Iraq.


Since the jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, Kuwait has had no shortage of militants willing to undertake violent acts in the name of Islam. After playing a part in armed resistance to Iraqi occupation, scores of young Kuwaiti militants joined the jihads in the Balkans, Caucasus, post-September 11 Afghanistan, and now Iraq. Kuwaiti militants draw on a range of motivations. The surviving 120 or so veterans of the original Soviet-era jihad in Afghanistan are under tight surveillance, but some of their sons and grandsons have sought out their own jihad experiences. Being too young to recall Palestinian support for the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, younger Kuwaitis have responded to continuous coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Arab satellite television with increasing anger against the United States and the West. The growing tension between traditionalist tribal society and urban modernity is a further source of radicalization.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Kuwaiti Ambivalence

Underlying Reasons for Kuwaiti Ambivalence

Kuwait's delicate balancing act with regard to Islamic fundamentalism reflects a society that remains traditionally Muslim in many ways. True, there are no mutawwa (religious police) as in Saudi Arabia, nor do the five daily prayer times make much of an observable dent in public activities. Yet, the Kuwaiti public as a whole supports Islamic traditions, and alcohol, gambling, mixed dancing, and other such Western amusements are difficult for Kuwaitis to find. And since nearly all Kuwaiti citizens are Muslim, Islam provides a unifying identity that promotes national cohesion. Accordingly, any action by the government against Islamists, however legitimate, becomes a sensitive issue.

Kuwaitis on UN Blacklist

Blacklisting Terrorism Supporters in Kuwait
By David Pollock and Michael Jacobson
January 25, 2008

On January 16, the UN Security Council's "Al-Qaeda and Taliban Sanctions Committee" designated three Kuwaiti nationals for providing support to al-Qaeda. Although the UN measure is a welcome step forward, it is unlikely to have much impact without aggressive implementation by Kuwait. Given the Kuwaiti government's mixed record in cracking down on terrorism financing, there is reason to be skeptical that it will take strong action. At the same time, the UN blacklisting already appears to have affected Kuwaiti counterterrorism efforts in a way that previous requests from the United States alone could not accomplish.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Taliban who?

The Taliban ("Students of Islamic Knowledge Movement") ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001. They came to power during Afghanistan's long civil war. Although they managed to hold 90% of the country's territory, their policies—including their treatment of women and support of terrorists—ostracized them from the world community. The Taliban was ousted from power in December 2001 by the U.S. military and Afghani opposition forces in response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the U.S.


Regimes that recognized the Taliban - Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. A look back in history to understand how we arrived at today.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Iraq’s Parliament just passed the Accountability and Justice Act, the official aim of which is to let former officials from the Baath Party back into the government. Do you think it’s a serious step toward political reconciliation?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Al-Qaeda on the Run

Qaeda on run in Iraq, using more suicide bombers: US experts

20 hours ago

BAGHDAD (AFP) — Al-Qaeda in Iraq is on the run, forcing its elusive Egyptian-born leader to be more selective about targets and to rely increasingly on suicide bombers, US military intelligence experts said Sunday.

Current leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri is less ruthless and more selective about his targets than was his predecessor, Jordanian Musab al-Zarqawi -- killed in June 2006 -- the experts told Western reporters in a background briefing.

The leadership of the jihadist network inside Iraq is dominated by foreigners although most rank and file fighters are Iraqis, said the experts, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"Zarqawi was very ruthless and did a lot of massive indiscriminate killing," said one expert. "Masri is more tempered ... and has to be more selective about his targets."

The Egyptian, however, is not to be underestimated.

"He is powerful and very elusive. Very few people have contact with him."

The experts declined to speculate on how many Al-Qaeda fighters are operating in Iraq but believed the number to be less than the 10,000 that US commanders gave a year ago.

The significant growth in the past year of "Awakening" anti-Qaeda fronts -- termed concerned local citizens (CLCs) by the US military -- combined with increased capabilities of the Iraqi and US militaries was impacting on Al-Qaeda's ability to plan operations, according to the intelligence chiefs.

"It's tough to plan an operation when you're on the run," said one. "They have less mobility, less access to caches and are resorting more and more to suicide attacks as their ability to stage car bombings is eroded."

US military spokesman Rear Admiral Gregory Smith earlier told a press conference that operations by Iraqi and US forces in 2007 had seen some 2,400 Al-Qaeda fighters killed and 8,800 captured.

"Of those, we captured or killed 52 emirs, 32 improvised explosive device (bomb) leaders, 24 cell leaders and 92 facilitators," said Smith.

"Their areas of control and influence were diminished. We have reduced their (car bomb) networks, disrupted the flow of foreign terrorists, weapons and logistical weapons, and kept constant pressure on Al-Qaeda, forcing their leadership to be on the run."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Camp Arifjan


How can our finite brains understand an infinite universe?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Dark Side

"A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies," Cheney told Americans just after 9/11. He warned the public that the government would have to operate on the "dark side."

In "The Dark Side," FRONTLINE tells the story of the vice president's role as the chief architect of the war on terror, and his battle with Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet for control of the "dark side." Drawing on more than 40 interviews and thousands of documents, the film provides a step-by-step examination of what happened inside the councils of war.

click the title "The Dark Side" to go to the Frontline site and watch the story. Very interesting that one man, Dick Cheney, and his neocon brothers, can send America to war in Iraq just because that's what he wants to do. Again I'll say we need to be in Afghanistan looking for UBL and not in Iraq.

Bush meets top Iraq aides in Kuwait

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait (AFP) — US President George W. Bush met with his top political and military commanders in Iraq at a US base in Kuwait Saturday, a day after conceding that US troops could stay in Iraq for a decade.

Bush, on the first leg of a four-nation Gulf tour, held talks with General David Petraeus, the commander of US forces in Iraq, and with US ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker at Camp Arifjan, a US military base 60 kilometres (35 miles) south of Kuwait City, a US official said.

He was due to address US troops stationed in Kuwait and hold a meeting with Kuwaiti women activists on Saturday before leaving for Bahrain -- another key military ally and home of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Around 15,000 US troops are stationed in Kuwait, which served as a springboard for the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and hosts Camp Arifjan, one of Washington's largest military bases in the region, and other camps.

Iraq has been hit by a new surge of violence since the start of the new year with more than 100 people killed in bombings, suicide attacks and shootings, half of them in Baghdad.

On Thursday the US military unleashed a massive air blitz on Al-Qaeda targets south of the Iraqi capital, in which 47,500 pounds (21,500 kilograms) of explosives were dropped on 47 targets within 10 minutes.

Bush told NBC television in an interview broadcast on Friday that US troops could have a long-term stay in Iraq.

Asked whether it might last 10 years, Bush said: "It could easily be that, absolutely."

Iraq is at the centre of Bush's preoccupations and a surprise visit by the US president to Kuwait's violence-wracked neighbour has not been ruled out.

Bush has been to Iraq three times since he ordered the invasion of the country in March 2003, most recently in September last year.

The US president arrived on Friday in Kuwait, ahead of trips to Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, to rally the support of Sunni Arab allies against what he calls the "threat" posed by Shiite Iran.

Bush flew in aboard Air Force One after his first presidential trip to the Holy Land, where he said he believed a peace treaty would be signed within a year and called on Arab nations to reach out to the Jewish state.

His tour of the oil-rich Gulf region comes amid escalating tensions between the United States and Iran over a naval confrontation in the strategic Strait of Hormuz last Sunday.

Iranian speedboats approached US naval vessels in two previously undislosed incidents in the Strait of Hormuz in December, including one in which a US warship fired warning shots, a Pentagon official said Friday.

But several commentators in the region have voiced strong misgivings about Bush's intentions, amid fears Washington could resort to military action to halt Iran's disputed nuclear drive.

In Israel on Wednesday, Bush warned that Iran posed "a threat to world peace" and should not be allowed to develop the know-how to build a nuclear weapon. Iran denies seeking nuclear arms.

Although Kuwait is welcoming Bush as a friend, officials have said the emirate will not allow the United States to use its territory as a launchpad for any strike against Iran.

"Mr President, the region needs smart initiatives not smart bombs," the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai said in a front-page editorial.

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, also warned Iran over the Strait of Hormuz incident.

"Please do not misread restraint for lack of resolve," Mullen said in Washington, adding that US warships were always ready to defend themselves.

Tehran has accused Washington of using the incident in the waterway -- a vital conduit for energy supplies -- as a propaganda stunt to paint Iran in a bad light during Bush's regional trip.

On Friday night, Kuwaiti ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah hosted a banquet for Bush after a round of talks that focused on Middle East developments and bilateral ties.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Bush to visit Middle East

By Matt Spetalnick

WASHINGTON, Jan 8 (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush heads for the Middle East on Tuesday, aiming to nurture Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts in the face of deep skepticism while trying to rally Arab opposition to Iran.

Once wary of hands-on Middle East diplomacy, Bush will make his first presidential visit to Israel and the West Bank in a bid to shore up fragile negotiations aimed at forging a peace treaty by the end of the year.

The chances of a deal before Bush leaves office in January 2009 appear slim, and no breakthroughs are expected during three days of talks following up on an international conference he hosted in Annapolis, Maryland, in November.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ron Paul

follow link

Dr. Paul

Dr. Ron Paul is running for president of the US. He has some very interesting ideas that I like including smaller government and fiscal responsibility in monetary policy. I hope to hear more from him in the debates, if they let him participate. Just another reason I think Fox News is a joke.

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Shut out of a GOP presidential candidate forum sponsored by Fox News, Ron Paul staged his own televised town hall meeting today in which he fielded questions from undecided voters two days before the key primary election here.

The Lake Jackson Republican congressman faced a range of questions from the audience of about 100 people in the public access television station several miles from where four other presidential contenders were to later participate in the Fox debate.

Paul responded to one participant who asked why he should chose the libertarian-leaning Texan over more mainstream GOP contenders such as Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee, saying he had been more consistent in his views than his rivals.

"They are seen as flip-floppers," Paul said. "People look at my record and say he's a stick-to-his guns guy."

One voter noted that Paul was running hard-hitting ads that pledged a crackdown on illegal immigration. He suggested that the campaign promise would entail a beefed up federal bureaucracy and would be inconsistent with Paul's philosophy of reduced government.

Paul said his plan would not mean more federal employees, but rather would bring home border guards now serving in Iraq.

Asked about his views on the Arab Israeli conflict, Paul suggested that he had been unfairly portrayed as anti-Semitic because he opposed U.S. aid to Israel. The congressman said he would also block foreign aid to Arab countries, which would be to Israel's benefit.

The one-hour forum was choreographed to portray Paul in a positive light. He was introduced and questioned by his campaign chairman, Kent Snyder.

On the side of the studio sat his supporters, who clapped enthusiastically after each of his answers.

At times Paul took a professorial approach, lecturing the crowd on the history of monetary policy and his view that abandoning the gold standard was a critical mistake.

The decision by Fox to limit participation in the forum infuriated Paul supporters and even drew the ire of the New Hampshire Republican Party, which withdrew its sponsorship of the event.

Fox had invited Republican candidates Rudolph Giuliani, John McCain, Romney, Huckabee and Fred Thompson to the forum, but excluded Paul as well as California congressman Duncan Hunter.

Paul protested, arguing that he raised $20 million in the last quarter of 2007, almost the same amount as Hillary Clinton. Furthermore, a Research 2000 poll published in the Concord Monitor released Sunday showed Paul garnering 7 percent of the vote, besting Thompson and only 1 point behind Giuliani in the state.

Throughout the day Paul was accompanied by Barry Goldwater, Jr., the son of the late Arizona GOP senator who unsuccessfully ran for president in 1964.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Islamic Republic News Agency (IRAN)

The Islamic Republic News Agency in Retrospect

The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) was established in 1934 by the Foreign Ministry of Iran as the country's official national news outlet. For the next six years it operated under the Iranian Foreign Ministry working to disseminate national and international news. Pars Agency, as it was then known, published a bulletin twice a day in French and in Persian which it circulated among government officials, international news agencies in Tehran and the local press.

In May 1940, the General Tablighat Department was founded and the agency then became an affiliate of the department organizationally.

Agence France Press (AFP) was the first international news agency whose reports Pars Agency used. Gradually, the Iranian news agency expanded its sources of news stories to include those of Reuters, the Associated Press (AP) and the United Press International (UPI). An agreement with the Anatolia News Agency of Turkey further expanded the agency's news outlets to countries worldwide. The link-up also enabled it to provide classified bulletins to a limited number of high-ranking public officials.

It was in 1954 that Pars Agency made a significant move forward. It recruited better-educated people thereby improving its professional services while continuing to avail of dispatches of international newsagencies. It also went on air with radio broadcasts of international
news which it translated into Persian and offered to subscribers

Expanding further in news coverage, it operated under the supervision of various state offices and ministries such as the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Post, Telegraph and Telephones, Office of the Prime Minister and the Labor Ministry until 1947. In 1957, the General Department of Tablighat fell under the supervision of the Publications Department of Tehran Radio as an independent department.

In 1963 the Information Ministry was created and activities of Pars
Agency was brought under this ministry. Its name was changed to `Pars News Agency,' or PANA, which then began operating 'round the clock.

In July 1975 a bill was passed by the country's legislature which
established the Ministry of Information and Tourism and changed the status of Pars News Agency to a joint public stock with capital assetsof about 300 million rials. It then became an affiliate of the new ministry. Its Articles of Association in 23 paragraphs and notes were adopted by the then National Consultative Assembly of Iran.

After the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in February 1979 the
revolution's council, in June 1979, decided to rename the Ministry of Information and Tourism to the National Guidance Ministry (or Ministry of National Guidance). This was followed in December, 1981 bya bill passed by the Islamic Consultative Assembly (Majlis) changing the name of the country's official news agency from Pars News Agency to Islamic Republic News Agency.

Arab Foreign Ministers

Politics 1/6/2008 1:28:00 PM

CAIRO, Jan 16 (KUNA) -- Israel's settlement policy, the implications on peaceful settlement and the negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians based on the Annapolis peace conference topped the agenda of a closed session for the Arab Foreign Ministers on Sunday.
Up to 17 Arab Foreign Ministers together with representatives of five Arab countries are taking part in an extraordinary ministerial meeting that kicked off today at the Arab League in Cairo.
The closed meeting was devoted to the settlement issue and how the Arabs would respond to that obstacle that constitutes a menace to a peaceful settlement in the region. The forthcoming Middle East tour by the US President George W Bush featured high on the meeting agenda, an informed source that attended told KUNA.


My last two years in Kuwait have been enlightening and dangerous. This is not a safe country, especially on the roadways. It has been interesting to live in an Arab culture for a time though I have not interacted with many Kuwaitis. It seems that their are more people from other countries than from Kuwait. I am looking forward to leaving and will spend some time thinking more about what I have seen and experienced in Kuwait.
I have also traveled to Afghanistan, Qatar and Bahrain during the last two years and especially enjoyed the beauty of Afghanistan.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Bill Moyers Journal

Bill Moyers Journal

Good Ideas

Dr. Ron Paul seems to have lots of good ideas. Ideas that have been thought out and considered. What a refreshing change of pace in politics. Someone who thinks before he acts. Someone with reason and intelligence. We need to watch this US presidential candidate.

Ron Paul

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all. 2008 is going to be a great year for me since I will be returning home for good this year.
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