Friday, December 28, 2007

For $22 K in Doha

The item below is copied and pasted from an ad in the employment section of Craig's List. I've cut out the contact info of the recruiter, and with the exception of a few spots that I have put in bold for your attention, I'm leaving it here without further input from me. I think the ad speaks volumes on its own:

Allworld Language Consultants is currently seeking a qualified Farsi, Arabic and Urdu linguists to fill a vacant position in Doha, Qatar. The linguists will provide extensive Farsi, Arabic and Urdu language support, both in translating written documents and providing oral interpretations where and when needed.
Specifications include:
· Term of employment: immediate employment opportunity for existing contract.
· Prerequisites: Must pass standardized language test. (*Very high language skill set in both Farsi and English).
· Citizenship cannot be or cannot have the following passports: Iran, Iraq, or Somali.
· Salary: $22K, plus provided housing or housing stipend, Qatari visa sponsorship, transportation to and from work site, life insurance, medical insurance, RT airfare to home of origin.
· Location: Doha, Qatar.
· Support of US Government Operations.
· Approximately 8 hours a day of work in comfortable office atmosphere, 5 days on- one day off.
· 21 days vacation annually.
· Position does require a one-year commitment with the option to renew.
Candidates will be required to pass a Farsi or Arabic or Urdu and English language test to qualify for the contract. ALC will set up the test to be administered.
The position is available immediately.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Of all of the suicide attacks we've been unfortunate enough to learn about in recent years, when was the last time the attacker sniped his victims dead-on and then proceeded to kill him or herself? Benazir Bhutto didn't die because of a suicide attack, she was sniped by two bullets, one to the neck, and the other to the chest. My guess is that the aim of the blast that followed the shots was not to maximize casualties or to make extra sure that Bhutto died but to give the distinct impression that all of the deaths, including that of Bhutto, was a result of a suicide bomber. The failure of the bomber--whether he/she was a suicide attacker or whether he/she detonated the bomb via remote--was that he/she failed to destroy the evidence that Bhutto was killed by a sniper. In other words, the bomber failed in his mission to make the whole thing appear to be a massive suicide attack.

And why would they want to make it appear to be a suicide attack? To pin it on "the Islamists" and thus far away from Musharraf, who shared with Bhutto a distaste for them and thus could not be blamed for conspiring with them against her. For Musharraf (and perhaps his US-backers as well) the situation is a win-win: Musharraf's biggest challenger in the elections is eliminated, and he gets to condemn his other enemies, "the Islamists," for her violent death and justify more crackdowns on the people of Pakistan to boot.

When Benazir first returned to Pakistan, I made up a little jingle that will make sense only to Persian and perhaps Urdu speakers: Benazir may be be-nazir, but musharraf is bi-sharaf.

I was not a fan of Benazir. I know very well that she has been accused of ordering the assassination of her own brother, and everyone knows about the charges of financial corruption, but I think it was brave of her to return to Pakistan and refuse to make a power sharing deal with Musharraf. And her murder in Rawalpindi, in the same town where her father executed nearly thirty years earlier, will make her an icon, if she wasn't one already.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

1. Holidays are nice and all, but this time of year doesn't mean much to someone like me who doesn't celebrate christmas and marks the new year with the spring equinox (nowruz). Iranians do celebrate the winter equinox (shab-e yalda), however, and it was nice to be able to have friends over for a mini-party. This was our humble Shab-e Yalda spread, complete with requisite items such as dried fruits and nuts along with fresh servings of pomegranates and watermelons, as well as a copy of Hafez's poetry, which you use to read your fortune from:

For more background information on the history and traditions of Shabe-e Yalda, you can check here and here.

2. I was sad to hear both about the christmas day mauling of visitors to the San Francisco zoo and the killing of the tiger who was responsible for the death of one person and the injury of two others. Tatiana, a Siberian tiger weighing about 300 pounds, was the same animal that ripped the flesh off a zookeeper's arm just before Christmas 2006. I guess poor Tatiana really hated christmas or something!

3. These days I'm experiencing an overwhelming amount of frustration with nearly all Iran-related discourses, whether they originate in or outside Iran. I'm going to publicly commit myself to trying to take-on and unpack some of this stuff in 2008 because I'm not happy with the relative silence I've fallen into over the last few months. I hope you'll hold me accountable!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Saddam and Sarkozy

Sarkozy's Rumsfeld moment:

And of course, this is the original rumsfeld moment:

Monday, December 10, 2007

1. The other Batebi, Maria, is a superstar athlete who has received gold, silver, and bronze medals at a number of national and international competitions. The post is in Persian, but you can scroll through to see the pictures at least. Unfortunately, Maria's accomplishments have not been celebrated as much as they should have been because of her brother's political situation, but I hope that all of that is in the past and that she receives the recognition she deserves.

2. Who is the famous person who appears in this clip? Can you guess?

3. How come the announcement that Iran will be dropping the dollar from oil deals is hardly making any noise? After all, it was Saddam's switch from dollar to Euro that really did him in, and not his non-existent WMD or his no-existent threat to his neighbors. Instead of wrangling over the hidden meanings of the NIE or declaring victories over its findings, Iran war-watchers should pay close attention to this issue of currency precisely because it is being downplayed.