It was more like a numbers contest than a vote to choose a common political future for an anguished nation. Members of Iraq's diverse communities turned out in large numbers on December 15 to elect their representatives for a four-year parliament. But instead of voting for political platforms that would foster unity and reconciliation, most Iraqis voted for lists representing their own communities.
America has been so decisively defeated in Iraq that no amount of verbal sophistry by US president George Bush or his neocon allies can hoodwink the American people into believing otherwise. The cabal operating as the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which led the chorus for “perpetual war” and “full-spectrum dominance”, appears to have gone into permanent hibernation.
The Holy City was host to a very different gathering of Muslims from all over the Ummah, the “Kings, Heads of State and Government, and Emirs of the Member States” of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the club of Muslim countries established after the burning of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in 1969
Sitting alongside US senator John McCain at a White House press conference on December 15, announcing that he would support a new law banning cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of terrorist suspects, president George W. Bush looked the very picture of reassurance. “We’ve been happy to work with [McCain] to achieve a common objective,” he said. “And that is to make it clear to the world that this government does not torture and that we adhere to the international convention on torture, be it here at home, or abroad.”
As Crescent International goes to press, it remains uncertain whether the elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) that are due to take place on January 25 will actually go ahead. Israel made a clear attempt to sabotage them on December 21, when it announced that Palestinians in Jerusalem would not be permitted to vote if Hamas were allowed to take part in the polls.
Beset by mounting problems in Iraq and a precipitous drop in approval ratings at home, President George Bush asserted on December 19 that the United States is “winning the war” in Iraq. According to the Associated Press, he issued a plea to Americans divided by doubt: “Do not give in to despair and do not give up on this fight for freedom.” He was forced to admit, however, that Iraq is proving more difficult than had been expected.
The inauguration of Afghanistan's new assembly on December 19 was a fairly accurate reflection of the country's present plight: Dick Cheney, dubbed vice president for torture in his own country, came all the way from Washington to preside over the bizarre event that nearly did not happen because three days earlier a bomb had exploded outside the building.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev secured a third seven-year term of office after receiving 91 percent of the votes in a probably rigged poll on December 4, while his main challenger, Zarmakhan Tuyakbai, came second with only 6.6 percent. Most pre-election predictions were that the corrupt, authoritarian ruler of oil-rich Kazakhstan would win, but with a much smaller majority.
Last month, the Organization of the Islamic Conference held an Extraordinary Summit in Makkah to discuss urgent issues facing the Ummah. Unlikely though it may seem, ZAFAR BANGASH, the director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought, hopes that some good may come of it...
The latest round of trade negotiations held by the World Trade Organization (WTO) was characterised by all the features that have become familiar parts of such high-profile gatherings.The trade ministers of the 150 member-states, and 6,000 other delegates, spent six days in intensive negotiations at a major international conference venue, barricaded by hundreds of police and security personnel to protect the WTO and the Western powers that run it from the wrath of ordinary people from all over the world who recognise the talking shop for what it really is: a way of forcing the world’s poorest countries to accept and legitimise a trade regime designed to protect and further the interests of the economic elites of the world’s richest countries.
‘THE OATH’: A SURGEON UNDER FIRE by Khassan Baiev with Ruth and Nicholas Daniloff. Pub: Walker & Company, New York, USA, 2003. $26.00 "Two reasons motivated me to write The Oath. First, I wanted the world to know that war is a hellish thing that victimizes the innocent. In war there are no winners. Secondly, and equally important, I wanted to introduce my readers to the Chechen people." -- Dr Khassan Baiev, The Oath
In October, Crescent International (South Africa) issued a booklet called The Struggle for Al-Quds to mark Yaum al-Quds 1426AH. Here we publish an adaptation of the second part of this booklet, focusing on the evolution of the Palestinian liberation movement. The first part, focusing on the problem of Israel and the threat to al-Quds, was published in the last issue of Crescent International.