Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I'm off

to Tunisia...my ground zero !

Sunday, July 16, 2006

War > Strategic and Tactical Analysis

Israel is at war, again.

I had a hard time believing that Israel didn’t participate in triggering the war. In fact, since the withdrawal from Lebanon by then PM Ehud Barak, Israel was faced with a big dilemma. How to keep the northern border safe while at the same time silencing Hezbollah?

Hence came planning for the ‘Lebanon campaign’. Israel was just looking for the right time and motive to initiate it.

By attacking Hamas, Israel predicted that Hezbollah (the only other hostile force in the region) will retaliate to show solidarity with the Palestinians. Israel hoped that the extent of Hezbollah’s move was to fire few rockets in some isolated towns, which in military term is called a ‘skirmish’, that will draw a classic response of shelling the south.

But, Hezbollah, this time went further by kidnapping soldiers from within Israel itself and setting traps to IDF SAR teams (busted a tank with 4 crew in it). By military standards, this operation could be classified as total success because it showed a high level of coordination, planning, sealth & execution, only reserved to the big guys.

Israel, could not let unnoticed such success, and had to react, it had two options, perform a prisoners swap or engage in a long punishing campaign, the ‘Lebanon campaign’.

The US administration, dominated by the neo-con, the Christian-Jew coalition & a desire to put more pressure on Syria and Iran and get rid of Hezbollah once and for all gave the much needed green light to Israel to start the campaign.

The campaign has many facts to it:

1) Military.

a. Phase 1: Israel should cut off Hezbollah from its suppliers and cripple its ability to wage a long war. Hence the shelling of bridges, the sea/air/land blockade, the airports etc. Hezbollah itself, as a war machine was little harmed; instead the IDF went after the infrastructure that supports Hezbollah, unfortunately such infrastructure is Lebanese too. This will guarantee that Hezbollah’s reserves and munitions will deplete quickly with no supplies.

b. Phase 2: Once Hezbollah is completely cut-off, its C&C destroyed, its ability to move fighters and coordinate rocket lunches is degraded, then Israel will move into southern Lebanon and establish a buffer zone and reduce the risk of northern shelling, this of course, if no cease-fire was agreed upon by both parties. But given the current conditions of Israel for a cease-fire, it is unlikely a comprise will be agreed upon in the very short term and Israel knows that !!!

c. Phase 3: Expose Hezbollah’s hidden arsenal, technologies acquired from allies, level of sophistication and potentially mercenary links and so far they have succeeded to gather critical information about Hezbollah’s weaponry. The Iranian land to sea missile used to knock-off an IDF naval vessel is an example, with more surprises to come. This is a tremendous opportunity for Israel to adjust its defensive and offensive plans and get on par with Hezbollah’s threat.

2) Political:

a. Israel is using this context to prove & enforce the designation by the world that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization and that the latter needs to be uprooted ASAP while ironically referring to UN resolutions. So far it is somewhat working since 3 Arab states already feel into the trap and re-aligned their position to Israel by denouncing Hezbollah indirectly.

b. Olmert, a novice PM is using Israel’s emotional reaction to the abduction of soldiers - a soldier is a son in view of the Jews population – to implement the military sponsored Lebanon campaign and to settle once and for all the question of whether he can govern or not.

c. Israel was always singled out as an agressive nation, an opressive nation. The kidnapping as well as the shelling of the north is an opportunity to turn the tide in the eyes of the public opinion and put israel as a victim state defending itself. This is so far working, but it will eventually wear out.

3) The hidden agenda:

a. Lebanon is growing as strong democracy in the Middle East, a prosperous nation, a competitor in the tourism sector, foreign direct investments and agricultural output. From an economical standpoint, that is a threat to Israel that needs to be eliminated or crippled for the next 20years. What a better excuse, than using Hezbollah?

b. Israel is to send a reminder message to Syria and Iran, that it can go after many fronts, although the Gaza front is a piece of cake, Israel is proving to its neighbors, and to the world that it has the might to handle more than one front – a US doctrine – and that it can go after the enemy wherever they are. Although, one can debate it’s feasibility from a tactical standpoint. This is extremely important to the public opinion and the morale of the Jews who constantly feel under threat.

c. Israel, a country built on military might and wars has not been in open warfare since 1982. This is for them a golden opportunity to practice new tactical plans learned over the past 10years, especially the latest mods to their F-16s, their new integrated yet mobile C&C, their ability to mobilize man and hardware in a very short time and their civilian emergency preparedness In military terms, this is called an integrated tactical engagement.

d. Ironically, the ultimate goal of Israel is to seek Peace very quickly as Ciceco, says “Let war yield to peace, laurels to paeans”. But a Peace on their own terms. Israel has the might granted, but as a sustainable economy, it is very fragile and they can not withstand a long campaign because the American tax-payer can not afford it…and there is a risk that the Arab population may take things in their own hand. Prolonging the campaign without keeping a backdoor open is extremely risk business for Israel too, as motives for the intervention will fade way and be replaced by day to day pictures of suffering and despair. A good general always think about options to retreat & negotiate prior to firing the first salvo.

4) The Risk:

Either party can make the following mistakes:

1) Hezbollah fires at tel-aviv or use non conventional weapons.
2) IDF makes a blunder and triggers an un-acceptable number of collateral damage (i.e. a 400 death at once)

In either case, the campaign will become un-planned, un-predictable, un-calculated and extremely dangerous.

Scenarios could include
1) Air strikes against military installation against Syria, with latter declaring war against Israel and flying missiles in.
2) Air strikes against Iranian nuclear installation backed by the US intelligence, which in return will trigger long range missile barrage against Israeli targets.
3) Increase in world-wide terrorism.
4) Iraq meltdown
5) Oil embargo

But the world has also learned to intervene the right time, and i believe this will get resolved within the next few days...and this war will go into the history books ....as any other war...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Why ??

These are bad times for the lebanese, , the arabs, the muslims, the christians, the jews and the entire humanity.

Suffering leads to despair.

Violence breads violence.

Death leads to repraisal.

This war is uncessary, uncalled for, unacceptable, unhuman, barbaric and insane.

Nothing will come out if this, nothing.

The most decorated general, the highest skilled politician, and the supreme religious authority all know that.

God bless lebanon and the lebanese.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Divorce Revolution / Explosion de Divorce

What the hell is going on, in here and in Tunisia…I keep hearing an increasing number of divorce cases, many of them for next no valid reason.

In the State where I live, two Tunisian buddies having the same age as mine, are getting a divorce, and what a divorce!!! A very expensive one, with lawyers & fees & settlements on the financial side, and kid’s custody & humiliation & stress on the emotional side.

The first case is adultery. The guy working hard found his Tunisian wife dating a black (no stereotyping intended) guy in a bar; she claimed she had to work over time then later, changed her version to looking for more 'diverse' friends.

The second case, the lady failed to integrate into the Canadian society and the guy was not accomodating and patient enough to help her out. So she went home, filed a suit against him in Tunis for improper treatment, and another one in Canada for damages and failure to attend at her needs. Luckily, no kids are involved here. Case to be continued…

The third one: The husband was middle-eastern and decided all of a sudden to close down and go home. The Tunisian wife didn’t comply, but then for the sake of her family's well-being, she moved out with him. Things were fine at first, but the Husband's family had a different agenda, re-marry their son to a local and kick out the Tunisian back to her home country. Since middle-eastern law (except modern Lebanon) favors male in marriage litigation, the wife could not challenge the husband’s decision and the matter was refered to the foreign office.

In Tunis, one close family member is also filing for divorce. Initially, the procedure was peaceful with a settlement favorable to both parties, but later the ex-wife became greedy and she disputed the settlement and took the initial decision to appeal. In the mean time, both are locked in a pseudo-seperation-divorced-limbo state. Each party is waiting for the other to make mistakes (adultry that is) to score points with the court.

Last but not the least, a pilot aged 50+, realized that his wife - going through menopause - is not longer attractive (he meant no longer fulfilling her duties) and he needed a change, therefore he dumped his entire family (kids aged 18 & 20) and moved out of the country with a married 25yr flight attendant, whowanted to experience an extra marital relationship.

What the hell with these peoples? I can imagine this happening in kids aged 20+ but not with individuals aged 40s or 50s.
I’m sure there is a good reason for every divorce, after all it’s allowed by the religion when the atmosphere and the relationship within the couple becomes unbearable. But so far, the arguments are quite shaky, most of them are around:

# 1: Money: your money, my money, I take yours butI keep mine. No sharing whatsover

# 2: Family: Bad influence from the elderly, too much interference from relatives & friends.

# 3: Attractiveness and chemistry, also referred to as ‘Sex’: You can hear arguments like he’s not capable of performing his male duties or the opposite, she’s frigid and ‘unresponsive’.

# 4: Kids: She cannot conceive (or he sometimes, but shuut, never admitted) so she’s dumped.

# 5: Mixed marriages. They work at first but two thirds of them fail at the very end (usually 15+years) and they fail miserably.

Com’on people (especially you the youngsters) think twice between you step into a relationship. Think 100 times before you step into a marriage. Think 1 million times before you conceive kids and don’t think about divorce at all, think how you can make it work instead.

Stop being selfish and learn to give to your party and last but not the least, there is no perfect relationship, no perfect marriage.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Society > Tunisian Friendship 101 / Amities Tunisiennes

Friendship, TN way, has changed dramatically the past 15years or more. Before I used to have friends that I can really talk to and spend quality time with, without the need to worry about the after talk. It was simple and straightforward concept of friendship, there were no strings attached, trust and respect was high and mentalities were not twisted.

Nowadays…..it’s a totally different business, actually it is a business.

Story 1: (Hot from the oven)

Yesterday, a friend of mine called from Tunis over Skype. I was surprised he knew my nickname, but it turned out he’s a friend of an old friend that I’m constantly in touch with

Mr X started talking about his life, the good old days & the fun compared to the misery of today’s Tunisia. He went on detailing his struggle to make ends meet, talked about his brand new car, the ‘Portable’, the babes, the long nights and the debts.

I felt good that some old timer remembered and bothered to call me (well, it’s free, but c’est le geste qui compte).

The conversation was quite flat; mostly talking about the past, and the present in the abstract, touching on the weather from time to time.

Mr X was about to hang up when he suddenly brings the subject of electronics and mentions how expensive they are in Tunisia, and even in Europe due to the currency exchange. He then jumped talking about E-bay (pronounced E-BYE in Tunisia), then went ballistic against the prestigious organization because his account does not work anymore (I understood it was suspended).

I could not figure what this talk was about exactly, but I kept listening.

He then jumps to discuss his work, how demanding it is, how hectic the travel was and how he’s constantly on the road, managing deliveries and time (btw, I don’t know what he does exactly, but who cares).

Then he starts asking me about this gadget called XDA sort of Palm Pilot sort of PDA, sort of Mini computer, sort of GPS, sort of Mobile phone, sort of Radar Detector, sort of everything.

I replied ‘No’, I’m not really aware of such device, i’m quite basic person.

He then tries to convince me to buy it for myself, he kept venting the benefits it would have on my life, both personal and professional and how better off I would be, especially in-front of my colleagues.

I kindly told him that I don’t need these things and that they’re quite expensive anyway and over my modest budget (Napo does not buy anything above 200$ when it comes to gadgets)

Finally, he gets real and moves to the point, and asks me if I can buy one for him (1500 US) and bring it with me when I go home on my next vacation.

I replied: Sure, well, I mean, you’re going to pay for it or you want it as a gift?

He replied: Of course I’ll pay you my brother, you’ll have your money waiting for you in cash

I asked: Ok, granted I buy it and bring it with me, what if customs (Diwana) put a hold on it, after all Radar detector & GPS are prohibited in Tunisia.

He replied: I don’t think so, you’re “bouha”, you can bring even a car and no body will notice it. I remember you buddy, you were the smartest ass around

I asked: Ok, thank you for the compliment, but still, what if customs put a hold on it?

He replied: Well, you pay and then we’ll talk, I have many friends at customs, I’ll get your money back

I asked: We talk what and when?

He replied: When time comes.

I kept silent for a minute then I told him that I have a better idea: Why don’t you order it yourself? If you have an E-bay account then you must have a credit card, and if you have a credit card, you can buy it anywhere in the world and get the item shipped to TN.

He replied: It’s too complicated and I don’t know how to do it, besides Customs will definitely charge me 150% and I don’t have the money to pay for it

I then replied: I will help complete the transaction, don’t worry.

He said: it’s ok, don’t worry about it, Aya good night, it’s really late here and tomorrow I have long day at work.

And the line goes silent…before I even say “Nighty Nite”

Story 2 (A year or so ago)

This is a Tunisian in Montreal that I knew when I was a student, last seen or heard of was 7years ago.

Phone rings ***

Napo: Hello

Mr. Y: Bouha Napo, how you doing my brother?

Napo: Hamdullah and you, who’s speaking?

Mr. Y: It’s me, chnouwa you don’t remember people anymore? I’m Mr Y, oh man, I’m disappointed in you!!!

Napo: Yes, Yes, How are you doing my friend? Long time no hear. How have you been? did you find a job after graduation?

Mr. Y: Yes, I’m a director a local tech firm now, lots of money and lots of fun, life is good.

Napo: Wow, impressive. Aya Hamdullah, inshallah it stays like that all the time.

Mr. Y: So, how come you don’t visit me? I missed you a lot; you should come over from Toronto, and enjoy some fun here. We have lots of babes.

Napo: Oh, I’m no longer into drinking & flirting, I’m settled now.

Mr. Y: Ah, aya mabrouk..

Napo: Thank you dear, inshallah likewise.

Mr. Y: I was married, then divorced and I have one kid in France.

Napo: Really? Oh, and a kid too? Why France? Oh well, Sure?! (I didn’t know what to say)

Mr. Y: Look Napo, You’re my man tonight. I have a small thing to ask you, and I could not find a reliable true man among the many friends I have here. They’re all Junk but you’re the best pick because you were and still are my best friend.

Napo: Glad to help. Inshallah Khyr.

Mr. Y: Actually, I need your mailing address.

Napo: Sure, you’re coming for a visit, when? Aya marhbé.

Mr. Y: Not really, I need it for some paper work.

Napo: Paper work? You mean to send me postage?

Mr. Y: No (idiot) I need your address so I can use it to file my income tax in Ontario so I pay less tax. I also need it because I have a female friend in Tunisia who I may marry but I want her to visit first so I can check her out, and she needs a ‘Certificat d’hebergement’ for a visitor’s visa.

Napo: Oh, that’s risky business man. First, for the income tax, you don’t want to do that, because that’s fraud and you don’t want to hurt me right?

Mr. Y: Don’t worry, it’s all good, I’ll take care of it

Napo: No you won’t, please forget about it.

Mr. Y: Ok, no problem. I think you’re quite paranoid. I just thought you would be brave with me, but looks like friendship these days is no longer like before. Ok, what about the certificate?

Napo: Sure, I can help write one for you. But wait, why do u need my mailing address? Can’t you use yours?

Mr. Y: I can’t, because I don’t have a job now.

Napo: How can you bring a girl and have no money? What about her family?

Mr. Y: Oh, things have changed now. Tunisian girls are very easy, and they look forward to any opportunity to leave the country or even married man, as long as there is money. Tthere are hundreds of them, you just have to go to the right places to find them.

Napo: humm, ok, that’s news to me but not surprising after all what i read, hear and see. However, didn’t you say you’re a director at a local tech firm?

Mr. Y: Well, I was, but I decided to leave and look for a better job (he means, he was fired, this is if he truly was a director)

Napo: Ok, granted you have my address, you still need my signature right?

Mr. Y: Don’t worry about that, I’ll take care of it, that’s none of your business.

Napo: Wow, how so? You’re going to send it without signature?

Mr. Y: Yes and No, but don’t worry now.

Napo goes silent, humm, ok, this guy is nuts, but I need to keep him cool and play by his rules.

Napo: Here it is, 12345 Rue St-Y, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Mr. Y: But that’s not your address? You’re not in Montreal. Com’on now.

Napo: Right, I’m moving there in a month.

Mr. Y: But that’s right where I live now. How come, you’re moving here? I thought you’re staying in Ontario, I need you in Ontario.

Napo: Sorry man, I have found a better position in Montreal and now I’m looking forward to meeting you more often.

Mr. Y: Sure, ok, Aya marhbé and call me when you’re here, good night. Actually do you have a friend - does not matter if Tunisian or not - that lives in Ontario?.

Napo: Yes I do, but he’s on a visitor visa.

Mr. Y: No, that does not help, Good night.

Napo: Bye