Saturday, November 26, 2005

Weekend news review

Observer - Ayad Allawi: Iraq worse than under Saddam

Human rights abuses in Iraq are now as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein and are even in danger of eclipsing his record, according to the country's first Prime Minister after the fall of Saddam's regime.

'People are doing the same as [in] Saddam's time and worse,' Ayad Allawi told The Observer. 'It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things.'

'We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are being interrogated,' he added. 'A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations. We are even witnessing Sharia courts based on Islamic law that are trying people and executing them.'

NY Times - How Reality Cut Likud's Vision Down to Size

Eyal Arad joined Likud 30 years ago, at the age of 17.

"We had a dream - Jewish sovereignty in the biblical Land of Israel, on both banks of the Jordan River, and Palestinians could have self-rule and not independence," he said. "I believe it was a beautiful and just dream, but it crashed against the walls of reality."

It was Mr. Sharon who shook dreamers like Mr. Arad awake, and who last week threw a grenade into Likud itself, quitting the party to form his own and to pursue his own approach to what he sees as Israel's new realities...

Henry Kissinger - Merkel will give Germany, U.S. a fresh start

It is likely that any German chancellor would have been reluctant to join the war in Iraq. But no chancellor or foreign minister not of the '68 generation would have based his policy on overt and systematic opposition to the United States and conducted two election campaigns on a theme of profound distrust of America's ultimate motives. Nor would demonstrative joint efforts with France and Russia to thwart American diplomatic efforts at the U.N. have been likely.

The Bush Administration has shown every willingness to cooperate. Indeed, one concern is that cooperation may shade into an enthusiasm that overwhelms the dialogue with short-term schemes drawn from the period of strain. The administration needs to take care to restrain its proclivity to conduct consultation as a strenuous exercise in pressing American preferences. Scope needs to be left for the elaboration of a German view of the future. The key challenge before the Atlantic nations is to develop a new sense of common destiny in the age of jihad, the rise of Asia, and the emerging universal problems of poverty, pandemics and energy, among many others.

Washington Times - US convinced Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons

U.S. intelligence agencies are convinced that Iran is working to build nuclear weapons in secret based on a confidential report produced last week by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and on information from a former Iranian opposition figure.

"In terms of Iran's pattern of behavior, it's a very clear picture that they are hiding and deceiving the world about their nuclear-arms program by claiming it is for peaceful purposes," one official said. "They have clearly lied, and they keep getting caught in one lie after another."

NY Times - A Rush to Excavate Ancient Iranian Sites

Iran has been planning for a decade to build the Sivand Dam in Fars Province, between the ruins of the ancient Persian cities of Persepolis and Pasargadae. But the Iranian Cultural Heritage Organization knew little about the broader region until three years ago, when archaeologists identified 129 potentially important sites in the region that will be flooded by the new dam.

Pasargadae, founded by Cyrus the Great as the first dynastic capital of the Achaemenids and the Persian Empire, was known for its architecture as well as its liberality and respect for cultural diversity before it fell to Alexander the Great.Persepolis was founded by Darius the Great, Cyrus's eventual successor, as the empire's ceremonial capital in 518 B.C.

Observer - How a heart-throb became the voice of liberal America

George Clooney was adamant about one thing last week: he was not attacking the President in his gripping new film about the Middle East - he was slamming the entire geopolitical system.
'It is not an attack on the Bush administration, but it is an attack on the system that has been in place for 60 or 70 years - oil always being at the centre of it,' the actor told an interviewer.

The debonair Clooney, the playboy actor once best known for keeping a pet pig and being the consummate ladies' man, has clearly taken on an unlikely role: the new King of Liberal Hollywood.

In Syriana, Clooney's latest work, which opened last week in New York, the actor plays a world-weary CIA agent caught in a web of political intrigue surrounding control of oil in the Middle East. It is a complex story of interwoven plots which aims to expose the true realities of power in the world. Clooney was also executive producer on the film, which pulls no punches in its conclusion that the political system has become a slave to the oil industry.

He is planning a television remake of the 1970s hit movie Network, a dark comedy in which cynical TV producers discover the on-air nervous breakdown of an anchorman is a huge ratings hit. They then plot for him to be killed on air in order to get more viewers. The film includes the famous line: 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this any more!' Ironically, that could now serve as a new motto for Clooney himself: the Hollywood heart-throb turned real world activist.