Afternoon Roundup

The Middle Ground: Hassan Abbasi's dream.
Hassan Abbasi has a dream-a helicopter doing an arabesque in cloudy skies to avoid being shot at from the ground. On board are the last of the "fleeing Americans," forced out of the Dar al-Islam (The Abode of Islam) by "the Army of Muhammad." Presented by his friends as "The Dr. Kissinger of Islam," Mr. Abbasi is "professor of strategy" at the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guard Corps University and, according to Tehran sources, the principal foreign policy voice in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's new radical administration.

For the past several weeks Mr. Abbasi has been addressing crowds of Guard and Baseej Mustadafin (Mobilization of the Dispossessed) officers in Tehran with a simple theme: The U.S. does not have the stomach for a long conflict and will soon revert to its traditional policy of "running away," leaving Afghanistan and Iraq, indeed the whole of the Middle East, to be reshaped by Iran and its regional allies.... [Amir Taheri in Opinion Journal]

It's not just the Iranians and other ME dictators that are waiting for this moment. Many left leaning people have been rooting for this moment since even before Iraq, but certainly, as soon as the first tanks crossed the border between Kuwait and Iraq.

In fact, my youngest brother was crowing last night about the falling support for "Bush's War" sighting a poll that states the beginning of the war had 72% support and it is currently down below 50%. From his comments it is easy to understand the thought processes of many in the United States who have never supported the war or have only done so as "sunshine patriots".

From their perspective, a defeat and ignominious retreat is not a defeat for the United States, but a defeat for President Bush and his policies. A defeat is not a defeat of our military, but a defeat of Donald Rumsfeld. It's not a defeat for democracy or freedom, but a win for realistic foreign policies. It's not a defeat for the American people, but a win for the mass voices that just want to go back to the days when the world was "calm" and did not intrude on their way of life.

ITM: Iraq the soap opera.
Most of the debate in Baghdad today was about the alleged message from Bush to al-Hakeem telling him to replace Jafari with another candidate. The simple people I meet at work have made a simplified version o their own of this story that goes like this "Bush told the government that if they don't agree on a president, I will appoint that I choose"! This is followed by a "whatever, maybe this can put an end for this mess" which reminds me that we still believe in firm and direct orders from a boss thinking that one shout or frown from him would be enough to solve the dispute while negotiations seem boring and taking forever, something not unexpected with all the stress and frustration Iraqis have to deal with.

On the other hand the local media was more interested in yesterday's negotiations that were resumed after being suspended for one day after the raid on Sadr's militia. Anyway, the latest sessions seem to coincide with a call from Sistani to the leaders of the UIA to go back to the table and accelerate the process.

It's clear that yesterday's meetings were no different from earlier meetings and was unsurprisingly followed by contradicting statements from who were just sitting at the same table moments ago. ...

Time is passing by and this is not in the interest of the politicians or the people who are getting tired of the way politicians are performing that many of them would tell you they've stopped following the news. One friend told me yesterday that he used to follow the political news every single day but "not anymore, these negotiations have much in common with those thousand-episode Mexican series, you can skip ten episodes and then come back and you will find things exactly where you left them!".

CTB: Taylor busted.
In an incredible stroke of luck, Nigerian policemen arrested fugitive Charles Taylor as he tried to cross by land into Cameroon. According to eyewitness accounts, he was wearing a white safari suit, driving a Landrover with diplomatic plates and had bags full of dollars in the trunk. He made it through the immigration check point, but was stopped when trying to get through customs. ...