Archive for the Middle East Category

Waltz with Bashir

Posted in History, Lebanon, War with tags , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2009 by mariayzk
Theatrical poster

Theatrical poster

Imagine watching an animated film that is crafted so brilliantly that you can feel every horrific nightmare and trauma associated with a war to the bone. Waltz with Bashir, is one such film that takes you deep inside the mind of a teenage Israeli soldier who had barely begun to shave. If you fancy animated features, take a break from the seven dwarfs and the little mermaid and tune in to learn history the animated way. Strap up, sit back and pretend you’re an Israeli soldier ready to take on the enemy, except you don’t know the why, how and when. The 1982 Lebanon War through the eyes of Ari Forman; an Israeli veteran, here’s presenting Waltz with Bashir.

Written and directed by Ari Folman, the film is Folman’s autobiography, where he narrates his journey back in time to recollect memories from the 1982 massacre by interviewing the soldiers who had served alongside him during the war. Waltz with Bashir frames war as a meaningless exercise that holds no real relevance to its perpetrators, including Folman. Folman’s amnesia shows an interesting depiction of how injustice and violence during wartime is so easily forgotten and accepted.

Continue reading

Post Mortem Report; The Migration-Displacement Nexus in Pakistan

Posted in Afghanistan, Asia, Children, Iran, Pakistan, Politics, Refugees & IDPs, War with tags , , , , on June 29, 2009 by mariayzk

swat_refugees_081A looming threat from Al Qaeda & the Taliban militia and an in-flux of Afghan refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) has left Pakistan in a worst refugee crisis since the partition in 1947. US led drone strikes and Pakistan military’s onslaught against the Talibans has crippled a great mass of Afghan and Pakistani civilians. Why do states always carry out post-mortem reports on innocent war causalities, instead of ensuring civilians’ security prior to the attacks?

afghn-101351In view of Pakistan and Afghanistan’s corrupt governments and the rising number of people uprooted by the growing conflict in north-west Pakistan, can we trust these governments enough to tackle the fragile situation or is it a case of another humanitarian disaster? Perhaps another Kashmir, another Palestine. The victims in the end are always the civilians, who end up losing their only prized possession; their identity.

May 5, 2009: Afghan officials say up to 120 non-combatants were killed when US warplanes dropped bombs on two villages in Bala Baluk, a Taliban-controlled district in the western province of Farah.

May 11, 2009: UN estimates, over 360,000 people have escaped from the three worst affected areas of Dir, Swat and Buner.

May 12, 2009:­­­ A total of 501,496 displaced people from the new influx had been formally registered by authorities, with UNHCR’s help, since May 2.

May 13, 2009: The number of people who have fled the fighting in northwest Pakistan this month and been registered or recorded by authorities reached 670,906 on Wednesday, up from just over half a million the day before.

May 15, 2009: Almost 1 million displaced people so far registered this month by authorities and UNHCR are in addition to another 550,000 uprooted people who fled fighting since last August. According to the latest figures, 987,140 people have been registered from the current influx, including 907,298 outside camps and 79,842 in camps.­­

swat_refugees_05What will be the outcome of Pakistan’s face-off with the Talibans? Will success be measured on the battlefield in the Swat Valley and the Pakistan-Afghanistan border or will it be measured by the number of civilian casualties? Continue reading

The Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse in Iraq -Subjection & the workings of Power

Posted in Middle East, Politics, War with tags , , , , , on June 25, 2009 by mariayzk

cgr_eng_iraq_afghanistanWe often construct images of aliens to define ourselves in contrast as normal, and in doing so set standards of right and wrong; punishing those considered others by engaging in wars and violent activities. It is a tactic; a thought out strategy to prevent the other from rising to power. The war on Iraq was initiated on similar grounds; to protect and discipline this other.

As the respected Shri Shri Ravi Shankar quoted; war to him denotes worse action for reason. Even though the war on Iraq, like any other war was fought on the grounds of being a disciplinary practice, in reality it demonstrated clear power politics between states; played to control the bodies within the states and threatening their ultimate human security.

When I first heard about the incident, a number of questions sprung to my mind. What was the extent of these abuses and what exactly caused the American soldiers to perform such heinous acts? Yet, the more answers I tried to find, the more conflicting my judgments became due to differing media projections. However, I was anxious to determine where the accountability of these abuses truly lies; in black and white, the American soldiers were the culprits, but what if there is a grey in between? What if the American soldiers were socially disciplined and trained to act in ways that they did.

The abuses at Abu Ghraib might have occurred in a physical prison built out of steel and concrete, but what about the psychological prisons that the American soldiers, along with the Iraqi detainees subjectified into? Here, it would be noteworthy to mention that such mental prisons are not isolated to the Abu Ghraib incident solely; they are social constructs of society, brought into form when we construct divisions; like us and them, sane and insane. Hence, even though the American soldiers were the explicit agents in these abuses, other implicit factors, like racism, religion and sexism were all at play together. When the soldiers were abusing the Iraqis, they were in reality abusing the enemy, the evil, the other. Continue reading