My thoughts on the IranTalks

Here’s my take on this after reading this: http://mobile.nytimes.com/2015/04/06/opinion/thomas-friedman-the-obama-doctrine-and-iran-interview.html?smid=tw-share&_r=2&referrer

Iran is using the nuclear issue to push for removal of all sanctions, which goes against what many in the US and Israel want which is regime change and “democracy” brought to Iran like Iraq and Libya.

Iran’s big strategy is to put giving up its rights to enrich uranium which are provided to every nation that signs the NPT, in exchange for lifting of sanctions.

Rouhani believes in the deal, while extremists in the US and Iran view the chances of a deal unlikely and don’t trust each other.

Once it gets a deal, it will be admitted into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and China and Russia will have the back of the Iranians. Meaning the sanctions will be reduced and actively oppose the remaining sanctions while beefing up Iran’s military.

Iran can then in 10 years restart its nuclear weapons program with no fear of Israeli or US interference. it will be like India and Pakistan, the US and EU will put new sanctions and make angry faces in 2025, none of which will hurt Iran which has shielded itself from further economic blackmail by then.

By agreeing to a deal the Israelis and Gulf Arabs are right to be pissed off, because you acknowledge the independence and middle power status to Iran in the future.

Turkey and India are the 2 main countries that officially accept sanctions against Iran but unofficially are its biggest trade partners.

They are Iran’s best sanction busters.

The sanctions against Iran are hurting the Dollar and Euros long term stability because they have encouraged countries like Iran, Turkey, India, Pakistan, China and Russia to trade with each other using currency swaps in their mutual currencies and gold.
This is one of China’s many small moves towards the end of dollar hegemony over the world economy, they have been quietly yet furiously encouraging this behind the scenes.

Obama wants to derail China’s long term plans to destroy dollar hegemony and give it a couple more decades to survive, he will see a deal and let the sanctions against Iran go.

The Iranian business community is also very powerful.

Of course, the news isn’t mentioning any of this. But it’s bigger than Iran’s position in the region.

The Internet

I was going through my old Metal Gear Solid games the last few weeks and just played through Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The first time I played this game was when I was 12 years old. But now playing at as a 24/25 year old and the genius of Hideo Kojima is so much more apparent. This game came out in 2001 and at the time the internet was steadily growing but the evolution was nowhere near what we have now.

The evolution of the internet is an interesting thing. At the same time that it gives us access to infinite numbers of resources and data, it also introduces us to an infinite amount of ‘noise’. Pornography, gossip, humor, conspiracy mongering, it’s all right there for anyone to lay hold of. They are two heads to the same beast. Unfortunately, for a large segment of the population, that’s daunting. Some of us are capable, and even trained, to sort through data and verify claims against further and further resources.

It’s damaging though, and I couldn’t have realized, when I was in my teens, how prophetic Metal Gear Solid 2 was going to be in an era of one-source internet surfers and news watchers. I never realized a station like CNN would be relied upon solely to provide information. I remember watching that station in 2003 and, at the time, being a sucker for it all. Then I watched more, and checked other sources, and slowly realized I couldn’t trust them. Not fully, and it was a conclusion that I’ve confirmed over the years.

From the dialogue near the end of Metal Gear Solid 2:

The digital society furthers human flaws and selectively rewards development of convenient half-truths. Just look at the strange juxtapositions of morality around you.

Billions spent on new weapons in order to humanely murder other humans.  Rights of criminals are given more respect than the privacy of their victims. Although there are people suffering in poverty, huge donations are made to protect endangered species.

Everyone grows up being told the same thing:

Be nice to other people.  But beat out the competition!

“You’re special.” “Believe in yourself and you will succeed.” But it’s obvious from the start that only a few can succeed…
 
You exercise your right to “freedom” and this is the result. All rhetoric to avoid conflict and protect each other from hurt. The untested truths spun by different interests continue to churn and accumulate in the sandbox of political correctness and value systems.

Everyone withdraws into their own small gated community, afraid of a larger forum. They stay inside their little ponds, leaking whatever “truth” suits them into the growing cesspool of society at large.  The different cardinal truths neither clash nor mesh. No one is invalidated, but nobody is right.

Not even natural selection can take place here. The world is being engulfed in “truth.”

And this is how the world ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper.

We’re trying to stop that from happening. It’s our responsibility as rulers. Just as in genetics, unnecessary information and memory must be filtered out to stimulate the evolution of the species.

Rumors about petty issues, misinterpretations, slander…
All this junk data preserved in an unfiltered state, growing at an alarming rate.
It will only slow down social progress, reduce the rate of evolution.

[…] Who else could wade through the sea of garbage you people produce, retrive valuable truths and even interpret their meaning for later generations?

That’s what it means to create context.

[…]

That’s the proof of your incompetence right there. You lack the qualifications to exercise free will.

That which you call self serves as nothing more than a mask to cover your own being. In this era of ready made ‘truths’, self is just something used to preserve those positive emotions that you occasionally feel. Another possibility is that self is a concept you borrowed under the logic that it would endow you with some sense of strength…

[…]

In denial, you simply resort to looking for another, more convenient ‘truth’ in order to make yourself feel better, leaving behind in an instant the so-called ‘truth’ you once embraced.

Should someone like that be allowed to decide what is ‘truth’? Should someone like you even have the right to decide!

You’ve done nothing but abuse your freedom. You don’t deserve to be free!

The game sure as hell describes the internet today accurately.

All the trouble in the world!

Maybe its because I live in the Washington DC area, work in the city, and have a bunch of news and pundits on my twitter feed… but man I am sick of the constant demonization!

I didn’t really care in college. I don’t think I really care now.  But it has become more irritating especially because of stupid groups like Da3ish (you can look up who they are.. hint: they are always on the news). But the Muslim haterade just keeps pouring in and it just amazes me that it is the same exact rhetoric it has always been. I mean, look at this video:

Branding “DOES ISLAM PROMOTE VIOLENCE” across the screen, using a video clip of Netanyahu’s (wildly inaccurate) statement – rather than one of the hundreds of Islamic scholars who have repeatedly denounced violence in the name of religion – and refusing to acknowledge any of Aslan’s positive examples of Muslim majority countries…it’s all a conscious decision, not just ignorance or an irresponsible money-making strategy. And that’s what’s most depressing.

Nobody today has any idea what is Sharia, and there is no islamist group that knows what they are doing.

One should simply look to the past.

The Europeans have been progressing at a steady state forward during their history, this is how they see progress.
While Muslims experience along with the rest of the world has been fluctuating between progress and regression, up and down. The European experience has been exported onto the rest of the world through colonialism. So strange ideas such as secularism vs. religion is a foreign concept in Muslim history when both have been intertwined. However, the European experience was getting rid of the church to progress which has created the rhetoric of today of those on the airwaves of eliminating religion once and for all to solve the world’s problems.

As has been established however, he Muslims from the past were more advanced socially and economically, their understanding of Sharia is thus more relevant, in my opinion, than these rag tag groups in Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, etc.

Many people such as the haters of Islam and the Islamist groups only think and talk about hudud punishment laws especially Capital Punishment. However, during the entire reign of the Ummaya Khalifa there was only about 8 cases of stoning for adultery, during the Prophet Muhammad (saw)’s time there was only a couple cases…and this was becuase the people involved demanded to be stoned. I mean, where are you going to get the required witnesses, either?

So many people today don’t have a clue.

We do not have to get rid of religion so that we could progress, this is what Europe did due to the rigidness of the Church and its stance. In the Muslim experience, history backs up reason, logic, and science as this has been part of worship despite the rhetoric of the groups we have running around today.

Sharia is not about cutting off peoples hands and stoning adulterers, these hudud laws are just a tiny fraction.. and again, in the system there’s always procedures but unfortunately the people who hate Islam and the people right now committing idiotic practices in the name of the faith have a lot in common.

Eid thoughts

Man, what a month of Ramadan. I’m exhausted physically but Alhamdullilah there’s some uptick in spirtuality and growth from the beginning to the end. 

I spent much time with family and friends. Re-connected with plenty of people who I hadn’t seen in months and not to mention I hit up lots and lots of free Iftars. US-Arab Chamber of Commerce, Turkic American Alliance, DC Muslim Caucus, Arab American Institute, and two Qatari ones. One at the Ambassador’s Residence which WAS BALLIN. The other at America’s Islamic Heritage Museum in Anacostia. 

Sprinkle in some fundraisers for Syria and Palestine relief in there as well. This is of course the month in which giving is amped to new levels. 

I also learned about the Burmese Iftar late which was fundraising for the persecuted people’s in Burma who are suffering at the hands of radical violent Buddhists. Also the Muslims in the Central African Republic, who are 15% of the population,  are being religiously cleansed.

 

The irony is that Muslims are portrayed as violent perpetrators while the reality is that they are at the brunt of violence everywhere. But we can’t forget that Muslims are pretty good at killing each other senselessly. See Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan as your prime examples. 

I pray that these atrocities stop. And there’s always an end to something. Nothing in this world is permanent! So that gives me comfort.

 

Speaking of Somalia, my dad is nearly finished with his hotel in Mogadishu. Check out this room:

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Gotta get out there!

Secrecy

http://www.salon.com/2014/03/23/confessions_of_a_secret_muslim/

 

Just read that article right now. A few thoughts pumped out of my head that I’ve been thinking about for a while now.

 

1. The need to be a “secret muslim” post 9/11 was definitely real. Most of us in public schools had to deal with the terrorist name calling and other BS at pretty young ages. Our names, our roots, and heritages being under consistent fire by every element of society around us.

2. The fakeness of people. Man, so many times have I seen people mock Islam and Muslims right in my face and that awkward moment comes about when they realize they been shit talking the whole time in front of one. In the day and age of internet commentary, ain’t no one saying that stuff to your face.

3. Can’t hide forever. The author of this article is younger than me and I can’t help but think of how many other kids are in hiding because of fear of what other people think of their faith. Back in 2001, my parents just told me to defend myself if people tried to attack me because I’m Muslim which to them would mean I’m somehow complicit in 9/11 and other foolishness going on. At some point, you have to stand up for what you believe in, even if it makes people MAD and to be honest, it’s hilarious to see people mad about Islam. Yes, it’s sad people are still ignorant but in my mind, it’s also some twisted comedy.

Now I’ll admit, I’ve prayed in public spaces and was thinking “oh man, they gon throw dirt on me” but once you overcome that and overcome what phony folk think, you’ll be comfortable in your own skin and be better served to defend yourself (education always is key).

*End random rant about fake people not being man enough to come to a Muslim’s face and say half that shit they be talking*

I still can’t rent a car

Sitting here on my 24th birthday, I’m now creeping into that mid 20s where the quarter life turns into the third of life stage. Time’s really passing by here. I just finished my first semester doing my Masters part time and the transition has seemingly been OK while still working full time. The only problem is the lack of free time has become very draining mentally to get certain errands done and having any semblance of a life hah. But all’s well.

Reminiscing on the last year just makes me realize how much has happened in such a short time. I lost my grandmother this past summer, my family sold our house of 10 years and we moved in the Spring, my dad has been in Somalia since June, we got a cat running around in our house, my other grandmother (mom’s mom) has been healthy but with a couple trips to the ER for infections, and then there’s school coming back into play. Phew. I’m just so glad I have a little break here. But it just means I have more time to do things that I put off.

But it brings me back to turning 24. I think to what my parents were doing at that age. My dad had already been in the U.S. for years at my age on his own and working… my mom at 24 had me as her first child (wow!) and she had only been here a few years and again she was on her own for the most part too. Just thinking of their challenges just makes me realize how easier it is for me despite the difficulties to move up in this particular society.

I think turning 23 brought responsibility… and I pray 24 will bring more reward for responsibility. I’m a realist much more than an idealist but I have a strange feeling of going more with the latter as I turn the page to a new year of life.

The solstice has passed and we moved from the darkest time of year into the slow arrival of more light. This analogy could prove useful for the entire past year. Difficult struggles shall pass. Just as tomorrow fades into a dusky death and the birth of a new day”s dawn. Take a moment to hear the wispy winter winds sending snowflakes scurrying across the driveway or the highway. Take a moment to hear the chickadee afoot in the spruce tree. Take a moment to hear the sunflower shells drop from the birdfeeder as the juncos scurry about. Take a moment to hear your own breath amidst the chaos of this world.

We’ll see what 24 brings insha’allah.

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN and Black Hawk Down

For anyone living under a rock, the Federal Government has partially shut down due to the budget fight in Congress. I’m OK for now as I’m not a Federal employee but my job does do work for the Feds. I think this will be resolved within a few days but many folks are hurting already. The disdain for Congress reaches new lows every day. And with the woman who just drove at the White House and the Capitol earlier today, it may be a sign of unrest to come…and we have the debt ceiling to worry about.

With all of that doom and gloom, today also marked the 20th anniversary of…

https://i0.wp.com/www.impawards.com/2001/posters/black_hawk_down_ver1_xlg.jpg

Ok. Well THAT film was made in 2001, but Black Hawk Down occured on October 3-4, 1993. It’s been 20 years since that incident where 1000 Somalis perished along with about 18 U.S. Army Rangers. It’s the one thing most Americans know about with regards to Somalia. Though, the cowardly acts of Al Shabaab, the recent famine, and piracy off the coast have made headlines the last few years. It’s really one of those *sigh* moments where the land of my ancestors is just known for “bad” things and being the butt of jokes.

Anyway, U.S. Foreign Policy to Somalia has been shaped by this incident for the last two decades. It still haunts people here but with that timidness showed a lack of political will to help end the Somali civil war. Even though this isn’t a popular opinion, but I sometimes wonder what would have happened if the U.S. stayed and really tried to do some nation building as they are with Afghanistan and Iraq. Would it have killed clannism? Would it have spurred further opposition? No to the former, yes to the latter I suppose.

But if there’s one problem in Somalia, it is security. I truly believe if a force was propped up and created, it would take control over every territory in a couple of days. The only way to unite that country is to have a force of that nature. A force like that would put up quite the resistance to outside groups and really establish a new era for Somalia. The Somali government as it stands right now is still reliant on African Union forces. It would have more legitimacy if those soldiers were Somalis that are trained and paid to carry out their jobs. That is the key to order and stability. Food sustainability and affordable housing are others but none of that is possible without the push for security. I’m quite frankly sick of reading news on Somali websites or hearing/watching reports from BBC, Al Jazeera specifically on suicide/homicide bombs via cars all over Mogadishu every few weeks. It’s just madness. I hope the end of Shabaab and blood thirsty killers comes sooner rather than later.