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Business Backs the Iraq Embargo (5/00)

I can buy anything. If I have to agree to take oil or gas to Dubai, I’m going to do it. I’m not here in Iraq for the excitement. I want to make money; I’m like you … . This embargo is going to end. I need an order. I need it now." It was one of those blunt realities which idealists, especially those moved to actions by human suffering, refuse to believe. Too crass to be true. Too pragmatic to face. 

It happened two years ago. I was in Baghdad, in one of the five star hotels where businessmen stay, and talk. You find no humanitarian oriented social activists in the lobby here. "Too many secret service agents," they say. Few journalists hang around here, either. But I was meeting a friend. Behind me sat two men, facing each other, and apparently unaware of me. They talked freely, although in low voices. My back was to them, and I leaned forward over the coffee table in order to write down verbatim what I heard. I didn’t look at the men, but I could recognize from their accents that one was an Iraqi. The other was a US businessman. He did most of the talking, was very blunt, and spoke without formalities. read more

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Satellite Broadcasting (12/98)

"One thing about our part of the world," said an Iraqi professor enthusiastically; "it’s always changing. We don’t usually know what is going to happen, but things are constantly moving in the Middle East." The latest phenomenon in this capricious world is called Al-Jazzerah Television Network, and it has the entire Arab world talking about its controversial political talk shows.

First, Al-Jazzerah drew attention for airing Lebanese opposition party views; then it dared to debate the sensitive issue of "who is a Jordanian?" The majority of Jordanians are Palestinian, and there’s been debate about whether they should have equal citizenship. Al-Jazzerah is the first to tackle such controversies. Doubtless, its location in a distant corner of the Arab world helps. So does wealth: Al-Jazzerah is funded by oil profits. read more

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Palestinian Disillusionment (11/98)

The fifth anniversary of the Oslo Accord arrived on September 13, then passed on through history. If mentioned in the world press, it wasn’t in terms of celebration. In those areas liberated from Israeli Occupation, Palestinians find few reasons for jubilation. And they’re left with little optimism for the next five years.

If the treaty were implemented according to its principles and timetable, note critics of the peace process, all 14,000 political prisoners would be reunited with their families by now, and the Palestinian Authority would be in control of 85 percent of the West Bank, including all of Hebron. Palestinians also would have their own airport and a new sea port; these would mean thousands of new jobs created by trade and by the tourists sunning themselves on the beaches of Gaza. read more

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Back to the Margins (3/98)

In the long struggle between Iraq and the US, Iraqi women have been the most harmed of that nation’s beleaguered masses. Like men, of course, they’ve lost opportunities and seen their living standard plummet. But they’ve also been forced into social contracts which they thought ended a century ago.Seven years of sanctions have desiccated more than bombs could. The casualties include not only Iraq’s modern, secular society, with its advanced medical and educational systems, self sufficiency, university research, and child vaccination programs, but also the progressive lives of eight million Iraqi women. Before 1990, Iraq had an exemplary policy of educating women and opening the professions to them. Before the Gulf War, women were found in all sectors of life. But in the years since then, those gains have been reversed. read more

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Review: The Mediterranean Cauldron (3/98)

World wars, the advance of empires, and resistance to encroaching invaders have often centered on the Mediterranean Sea or taken place near its shores. Called the "cradle of civilization," it’s 10 times the size of the five Great Lakes of North America, with winter storms as horrendous as any on the Atlantic, Pacific, or Indian Oceans. Today, however, it’s also a cauldron of human conflict. And a majority of those who suffer are historically the most wretched of the Earth: women and their children. read more

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Palestine: Libraries for Peace (2/98)

When Naheda Abd Almajeed Yagi graduated from El Emam University in Saudia Arabia in 1990 with a degree in library sciences, she returned to the Gaza Strip, then under Israeli control. Unemployed for six years, she now works as a reference librarian at the College of Education, a teacher training institution in Gaza City. Almajeed Yagi hopes one day to earn a post-graduate degree in library service – if her English improves, in the US, where she can realize her dream of visiting the Library of Congress. "I’m ambitious," she said with a shy smile. "Someday I want to be a chief librarian." read more