When I checked the news today, the horrific picture– selected by Time as a front-cover–of Aisha’s face, an 18-year-old Afghan woman whom was sentenced by the Taliban to have her nose and ears cut off for fleeing her abusive in-laws greeted me. International newspapers reported the news and the picture is now one of those icons of Afghanistan, which, interestingly enough, are often released in an apparent attempt to provide an ethical dimension to a war (particularly after Wikileaks leaked the massive documentation on the Afghan war) which is increasingly difficult to justify. Indeed, I am sure that many will remember the National Geographic split cover image that contained two photos of Sharbat Gula, the first having been taken at the time of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the second at the end of the Taliban regime. While in the first picture she is a beautiful young girl with intense green eyes and her hair gently covered by a burgundy scarf, in the second she lifts the oppressive burqa to reveal a hardship-worn face that has been marked, as the article explains, by life under the Taliban. Continue reading
Nine and a half have passed since the US and allies invaded Afghanistan. American and European soldiers (among whom the most affected are the British) sacrificed their lives for political games, international interests and local corruption, as well as strategic failure. While an unstoppable abacus precisely tracks each soldier’s death, little is really known about the civilian fatalities, which suggests a silent confession that, in this war, human blood weighs differently between the civilizer and the (un)civilizable Afghan. Continue reading
Days have passed since the so-called ‘Gaza Flotilla’ was brutally raided by Israeli forces. As usual in these cases, I tend to take my time before writing my opinion. Let me start from some simple observations:
The Gaza blockade is irrational. It breaches international law and affects the most vulnerable people within Gaza. By contrast, politically, it reinforces Hamas. Indeed, anybody with even a minimum of knowledge or contacts in Gaza knows that supporting Hamas or becoming an active member remains the only solution to enjoy some benefits and relieve one’s family from the hardship of the illegal embargo, enjoying the few products smuggled through the endless number of Egyptian border tunnels controlled by Hamas. Continue reading
How much blood has been spilled in Afghanistan? It is very difficult to say; official estimates speak of an improbable 12,000 to a more probable, but still conservative, 32,000 casualties. Of these deaths, the “insurgents” of various affiliations (so not only the Taliban) would have been responsible, according to very conservative statistics, for almost a sixth. Certainly, as repugnant as they may be, the suicide bombers and road-side bombs as well as the Taliban’s punitive and revenge killings cannot be compared to the 30000lb air-bombs dropped by NATO. Continue reading
Palestinians in Gaza are again living another nightmare. The world, however, appears less interested than usual. Dead Palestinians are common products on the international political markets at least last since 1967. As many may have observed, I have rarely commented or written about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I am not a political scientist and I think that too much has been said and too little done. This post is intended to be just a reflection provoked by the sight of innocent people suffering and trapped in an endless conflict. Continue reading
Iraq is now a safari run amok, where there lurk soldiers, guards of various companies, mercenaries of variegate extractions, militias of any religious or political ideology, as well as many versions and perversions of al-Qaida mujahidin. All of them hunt the poor ordinary Iraqi dreaming only of a normal life, at least as normal as it could have been under the cruel Saddam. Saddam could handle a gun, as we know, but, from the prospective of the game, one hunter who is more or less predictable is better than many who shoot indiscriminately at anything that moves.
Day after day, Baghdad is stained in fresher blood than it had ever been before. Going to buy food, searching in desperation for the few medicines left, looking for drinkable water, all these also mean facing possible death for the ordinary Iraqi. An Iraqi friend of mine, with a dark sense of humour, recently asked me if I thought that, with the right campaign, the WWF might consider to include Iraqis among the species facing extinction. This is an example of the trust that Iraqi people can be expected to have in the power of the absentee UN to save them from this collective sacrifice to force-imported democracy and freedom. Indeed, a higher number of Iraqis, year after year, are asking whether democracy is not really the deadly Western disease that the more radical preachers describe to them, a rebounding Black Death instead of a legitimate political process for achieving ultimate freedom that grants happiness and economic success. Continue reading