Monday, July 24, 2006

Mysteries of the Middle East

Analyzing world events used to be easy. Not anymore. Nothing makes sense now.

In the past week, for example, US President George W. Bush vetoed his first bill in five years in office, a bill supported by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist that would expand the federal restrictions on stem cell research, allowing US scientists the opportunity to find a cure for diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. His concern for human life was cited as the reason for his veto, Bush said.

Bush's concern for human life, of course, did not extend to Lebanese human life as he steadfastly refused to ask the Israelis to stop bombing the civilian areas of Lebanon where more than 300 Lebanese have been killed and more than 500,000 people displaced.

Many Lebanese Christians were among those killed by Israelis who were out to kill Hezbollah Muslims. Unfortunately, a bomb cannot distinguish its victims' religions, politics, ages or genders. These victims are "collateral damage".

Question: Which Middle East country's Parliament voted unanimously to demand that Israel stop its bombing of Lebanon? Answer: Iraq.

The Shite-dominated Iraqi Parliament was concerned about the killings of Lebanese Shites. The Lebanese Shites are principally supported by the Iranian Shites who support the destruction of Israel.

Let's see now. The US invaded Iraq in 2003 to topple the Sunni government of Saddam Hussein and to install an Iraqi Shite-dominated government, that is now heavily influenced by the Iranian Shites.

Even if the US succeeds in Iraq, an increasingly unlikely prospect, it still loses. If the US succeeds, an Iraqi government closely allied with the Iranian government will remain in power. If the US loses, a civil war will ravage Iraq back to the Middle Ages causing the US to lose Iraqi oil, as well as Iranian oil, which will exacerbate the energy crisis in the US substantially increasing the cost of gas.

What was the rationale again for invading Iraq after the Weapons of Mass Destruction turned out to be false? Right. Installing Democracy in the Middle East.

As a result of US pressure, democratic elections were held in the Middle East in places like the Palestinian Authority. As a result of credible, honest elections there, the Hamas party won handily, bringing to power a government which the US considers to be a terrorist organization.

With honest credible democratic elections in Lebanon, the Hezbollah Party won in south Lebanon and is part of the ruling coalition government of Lebanon.

With honest elections in Egypt, the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood wins a substantial minority of seats in the parliament.

About the only country in the Middle East that has staunchly refused to conduct democratic elections is Saudi Arabia, the strongest US ally in the region.

One Middle East pundit warned, "Fight a Dictatorship and you must kill the regime. Fight a Democracy and you must kill the people." That is a problem for the US and Israel.

So much for Democracy in the Middle East and concern for human life.

The war in Lebanon is exacting a heavy toll on the more than 30,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who lived and worked there before the Israeli bombing began. Thousands have since escaped to Syria or Cyprus while the rest are making plans to evacuate as well. The loss of 30,000 jobs will only heighten the poverty among the families dependent on the income of the OFWs in Lebanon.

There are more than 1.5 million OFWs in the Middle East. As the war expands throughout the region, more OFWs will lose their jobs as more Muslims will be unemployed, willing to accept jobs now being held by OFWs.

Filipino OFWs are so desperate for jobs, however, that 7,000 have gone to work in Iraq at US-run facilities there. According to the Philippine Department of Labor, at least 3,000 of them are undocumented.

According to Asia Times reporter Cher Jimenez, "Filipinos are taking up work at US-run facilities in Iraq, dodging an official Philippines travel and employment ban on the war-torn country and providing the US military and its affiliated contractors the cheap, English-speaking manpower it is having increasing difficulty recruiting at home."

The US government may not care much for undocumented aliens in the US but they are welcome at US facilities in Iraq. That may be the Republican solution to the nagging problems of illegal immigration and finding volunteers for Iraq.

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