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Mideast News Roundup

This past Sunday, Michael Ignatieff wrote an essay in the Times Magazine entitled “Getting Iraq Wrong,” ostensibly a come-clean admission of his misguided support for the war. David Rees of the Huffington Post expected Ignatieff to acknowledge fault and was … Read More

By / August 8, 2007
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This past Sunday, Michael Ignatieff wrote an essay in the Times Magazine entitled “Getting Iraq Wrong,” ostensibly a come-clean admission of his misguided support for the war. David Rees of the Huffington Post expected Ignatieff to acknowledge fault and was sure disappointed in the result: [The New York Times] [The Huffington Post]

The first nine-tenths of Ignatieff's essay, far from being an honest self-examination, is a collection of vague aphorisms and bong-poster koans. It hums with the comforting murmur of lobotomy.

Rees is particularly unimpressed with Ignatieff’s new professional status—from Harvard academic to Canadian politician—being used to justify his initial support for the Iraq invasion:

Right off the bat, he's saying: "It was right for me to support the Iraq war when I was an academic, because academics live in outer space on Planet Zinfandel, and play with ideas all day. But now, as a politician in a country that opposed the war, I'll admit I screwed up, because politicians must deign to harness the wild mares of whimsy to the ox-cart of cold, calculated reality."

Also in Mideast news:

From the JTA: A poll found that most Israelis favor expelling illegal Sudanese refugees. Egypt, Israel and the Sudanese Israel should think twice about sending Sudanese refugees back to Egypt, where they are treated barbarically, argues a Jerusalem Post editorial. [The Jerusalem Post] Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf pulled out from a council of hundreds of Pakistani and Afghan tribal leaders aimed at reining in militant violence. [The Washington Post]

In her first novel, Dalia Sofer tells of a Jewish family in Tehran during Iran’s Islamic revolution. [The New York Times Book Review] Prime Ministers from Iraq and Turkey both station troops in Iraqi Kurdistan to control the Kurdish rebel group PKK. [Iraq Slogger]

The PKK may be facing tough times ahead, and not only from the Turkish military. In a dramatic turn of events, Kurdistan's Prime Minister Negervan al-Barazani on Tuesday confirmed the presence of a limited number of Turkish troops inside the governate, explaining they are in northern Iraq with the permission of the Kurdish regional authorities. Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki signed a memorandum of understanding with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, agreeing to join with Anakara in combating the Kurdish rebel group that has long enjoyed sanctuary in Kurdistan.

Mahmoud Abbas’ close adviser, Jibril Rajoub, is holding secret talks with the Gazan Hamas government spokesman Ghazi Hamad. [Debka]

19-year-old Saudi, Ahmed Abdullah al-Shayea, was recruited as a jihadist and volunteered to go to Iraq as a fighter. Once in the Iraqi capital, he refused to be a suicide bomber and instead was coerced by Al Qaeda into driving a fuel truck through central Baghdad. Militants blew up a nearby truck behind in order to ignite Shayea's. Shayea lived to tell the tell from a Saudi rehabilitation center. [MSNBC/Newsweek]

"I realized that all along, I was wrong," Shayea said in an interview with the Associated Press recently at a hotel in Riyadh, where he was taken for a media encounter before being returned to interior ministry custody. "There is no jihad. We are just instruments of death." Now 22, Shayea may yet have a life. The Saudi program holds out the promise of release, with jobs and help in finding a wife, for jihadis who are judged truly repentant. If Shayea qualifies, as he is on course to do, he will probably be the first suicide (or is it "homicide") bomber to survive his own detonation and win his freedom.

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