Posts Tagged ‘history’

Al Hamad becomes first female Qatar Olympian

July 28th, 2012 Comments off

Two points away from reaching the women’s 10m air rifle final, Bahya Mansour Al Hamad still made history by becoming the first female Olympian of Qatar. The 20-year-old, dressed in headscarf, who …
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A Major Contribution to Gulf History: Digitizing the India Office Records

July 24th, 2012 Comments off

The Guardian reports on a major project that will contribute greatly to researchers pursuing the history of the Gulf: funded by Qatar, the British Library is digitizing some half million pages of India Office records, a treasure trove for reconstructing the Gulf from the mid-18th century onward. They also are digitizing some 25,000 Arabic manuscripts as part of the same project.

I envy the next generation of historians the growing wealth of digital source material. For centuries historians have had to go where the archives were, but we may finally be about to transcend that.

It’s interesting that, in the article, an archivist (if quoted correctly by the newspaper) actually compares this immense undertaking to the accomplishment of J.G. Lorimer in compiling his great 5000=page Gazeteer of the Gulf, which I’ve discussed on this blog before. That may understate the goals of this huge project, but it does indicate an appreciation of the immensity of the contribution of John Gordon Lorimer to the history of the Gulf.

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Cole Twitter, Facebook,, Email, Books (Repeat)

July 24th, 2012 Comments off

Some book keeping for new readers.

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You can follow the blog via Twitter @jricole.

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Those who like reading history and want a background on Egypt might enjoy these books of mine:

Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East. This is written for a general audience and you will have some deja vu as you read about the Cairo revolt of October, 1798.

Engaging the Muslim World, revised Paperback October, 2010– has a chapter on the Muslim Brotherhood and the radical Muslim movements in Egypt as well as chapters on countries likely to be affected by the Egypt events such as Saudi Arabia.

For those who like pretty serious academic history, my Colonialism and Revolution in the Middle East: Social and Cultural Origins of Egypt’s Urabi Revolution may be rewarding.

For more general reading on the modern Middle East, there are suggestions on the top left of this page.

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Habari Ya Lamu, the Story of Lamu

July 19th, 2012 Comments off

Lamu; Photograph by Daniel Martin Varisco

by Irena Knehtl, Yemen Post, April 15, 2012

One of the city-states founded by Yemeni Hadhrami Arabs was Lamu, an island off the present Kenyan coast, a world heritage site

Throughout its history Yemen has been a seafaring nation, famed for boat building and its mariners navigation skills. While the Yemeni sailors harnessed the monsoon winds to reach distant ports, inland its farmers harnessed water to develop life-sustaining agriculture adopting to a harsh and often formidable environment.

Archaeologists are still investigating these long gone civilizations that have played a major role in transforming global history. These ancient civilizations introduced deep-sea sailing vessels capable of long distance travel and trade. At this time writing, banking, shareholding were established and developed societies were formed for perhaps the first time over.

Linen, cotton, wool and metal were taken to China, where cargoes of silk, camphor, musk, spice were exchanged and Yemen acquired ceramics. Southern Arabia was on cross roads on the trade routes between China and India to the East, and the Red Sea and East Africa to the southwest providing merchants with a huge and lucrative markets. One of the city-states founded by Yemeni Hadhrami Arab travelers was located on the island just off the northern coast of present day Kenya called Lamu.

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Is Michele Bachmann an agent of the Muslim Brotherhood?

July 18th, 2012 Comments off

It has become increasingly apparent that politics and business often attract psychopaths, because of the opportunities they offer for the gratification of narcissism, grandiosity, sadism and other severe pathologies.

For psychopaths, really on an Anders Breivik pre-massacre level, no one takes the cake in American politics more than Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, of Minnesota’s 6th District.

Bachmann has recently been charging that the federal government is infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and gives poor Huma Abedin, an aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and wife of former congressman Anthony Weiner, as her evidence. I mean, this stuff is reminiscent of the LaRouchies and of Nixon’s dirty tricks, and of course of McCarthyism.

But as Karl Marx remarked, everything in history occurs twice, first as tragedy, and the second time as farce. Bachmann is the farce.

But the irony is that Bachmann is right. There is a figure in the Federal government that has suspicious ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Muslim fundamentalist movement that began in Egypt in 1928. It is Michele Bachmann.

1. Bachmann is a major supporter of the MEK (Mojahedin-e Khalq or People’s Holy Jihadis), an Iranian terrorist group that joined in the taking of US diplomats hostage in 1979-81. The MEK was formed as a mixture of Marxism and Muslim fundamentalism, and was influenced by Sayyid Qutb, a major thinker of the …. Muslim Brotherhood.

2. Bachmann has accused President Barack Obama of ‘leading from behind’ and not being interventionist enough in Syria. She wants the secular, Arab nationalist regime in Syria overthrown. But the major opposition force in Syria is the Muslim Brotherhood, and it would have a good chance of coming to power (just as happened in post-revolutionary Egypt) if the Baath falls. AnsaMed writes

“In spite of ”long years of repression by the regime,” the movement has remained strong in Syria, said Brotherhood leader, Mohammad Riad Shakfa. The biggest force on the Syrian National Council, which is the West’s main opposition interlocutor, and very influential in the Syrian Free Army…

So Bachmann is actually herself a strong ally of the Muslim Brotherhood of Syria.

3. Bachmann is a supporter of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan and tried to visit with them.. The Northern Alliance was a coalition of forces fighting the Taliban. It consisted in part of the Jami’at-i Islami, to which many of its prominent members belonged. The Jami’at-i Islami is the AFghanistan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded by Egyptian missionaries in the 1960s. Another component of the Northern Alliance was the Shiite Hizb-i Vahdat or Unity Party, which was allied with Iran in the 1990s.

So Bachmann is, once again, closely connected with the Muslim Brotherhood via the Afghanistan Northern Alliance.

4. In fall of 2011 as the US was preparing to withdraw from Iraq, Michele Bachmann opposed the troop withdrawal. She said that the US was being kicked out of Iraq because the Shiite government of PM Nouri al-Maliki was under the thumb of Iran, and taking orders from it.

Iraq’s disgraced former vice president, Tariq al-Hashemi, also accused Tehran of orchestrating the launches of charges against him of being involved in terrorism. Bachmann is therefore an ally of Hashemi, since they have the same analysis and resentments toward Iran’s role in Iraqi politics, and they oppose that role together. Hashemi was for a long time a leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party, which is the Iraqi branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded by an Egyptian missionary in 1934 in Mosul.

In all seriousness, the Muslim Brotherhood is not a centralized party. It has its own history in each country where it exists, and the leaderships don’t coordinate. The largest MB party is in Egypt, and it is not only not a terrorist group, it is behind the Freedom and Justice Party, which got 46 percent of the seats in the parliament and won the presidency. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood made a commitment to non-violence and to civil politics in the 1970s and is not a terrorist organization.

Still, it is very suspicious the way it has managed to recruit a Minnesota congresswoman to its cause.

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"Alexander the Not-So-Great": A Persian Perspective

July 16th, 2012 Comments off

At the BBC, Professor Ali Ansari reminds us that the traditional view of Alexander the Great might not be shared if looked at from the Persian side. An excerpt:

Although Alexander is characterised by the Persians as a destroyer, a reckless and somewhat feckless youth, the evidence suggests that he retained a healthy respect for the Persians themselves.
Alexander came to regret the destruction his invasion caused. Coming across the plundered tomb of Cyrus the Great in Pasargad, a little north of Persepolis, he was much distressed by what he found and immediately ordered repairs to be made.
Had he lived beyond his 32 years, he may yet have restored and repaired much more. In time, the Persians were to come to terms with their Macedonian conqueror, absorbing him, as other conquerors after him, into the fabric of national history.
And thus it is that in the great Iranian national epic, the Shahnameh, written in the 10th Century AD, Alexander is no longer a wholly foreign prince but one born of a Persian father.
It is a myth, but one that perhaps betrays more truth than the appearance of history may like to reveal.

(Hat tip to Trita Parsi for this one.)

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Israeli forgery

July 10th, 2012 Comments off
Thomas sent me this:  “Hello, I’m one of your french followers,
Here is what I’ve found on Le Monde today: a beautiful example of cynism, and forgery about

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Mujahideen-Khalq paying ‘big money’ to erase a history of terrorism!

July 9th, 2012 Comments off

“… Victoria Toensing of DiGenova & Toensing, a lobbying shop famous for its involvement in the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal, was paid $110,000 in 2011 to lobby for the resolution. The firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld dedicated five lobbyists to getting signatures for the resolution, and was paid $100,000 in 2012 and $290,000 in 2011 to do so. Paul Marcone and Association similarly lobbied for the resolution, and received $5,000 in 2010 and $5,000 in 2011 for its efforts.
“It’s a worthy cause,” said Toensing, who believes the M.E.K. has reformed from its violent past. “Have you ever seen a more bipartisan disciplined group as the one that supported this issue?”…”

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Colorado blaze: Most destructive in history – Christian Science Monitor

June 29th, 2012 Comments off

Christian Science Monitor

Colorado blaze: Most destructive in history
Christian Science Monitor
Leaving hundreds of homes in its wake, Colorado's fire has caused more damage than any other in the state. Aerial images clearly show the damage. Several western fires are still burning. By P. Solomon Banda and Thomas Peipert, Associated Press / June
Hundreds of Colorado Springs homes destroyed in fireBBC News
Colorado Springs fire ranks as state's most destructive on recordReuters
Colorado Springs fire destroys 346 homes, mayor saysFox News
Los Angeles Times –CNN
all 7,100 news articles »

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An-Nahar newspaper

June 16th, 2012 Comments off
My weekly article in Al-Akhbar:  “An-Nahar: History of a dying newspaper“.

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