November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

I've just returned from a Thanksgiving lunch in Houston, TX where I gorged myself with turkey, lamb, oyster stuffing, shrimp, corn bread, sweet potatoes with (yes) melted marshmellows, more turkey, salad, green beans and, for good measure, pecan pie and something called a seven-layer cake--each of these last with a good dollop of vanilla ice cream on top. A couple espressos at the tail end of this gluttony kept me on my feet and allowed me to get through what was left of the afternoon! I feel bloated, of course, but isn't that what one is supposed to do Thanksgiving Day? Well, aside from giving thanks too, of course. Alas, however, no time for lengthy reflections about Plymouth or such today--but do check out the stories below if you need some general cheering up.

First off, from my favorite NYT reporter, John Burns, some perspective (after a week of near hysterical reportage from his colleague Edward Wong):

American hopes that Falluja would be a turning point in the war were dimmed, at least initially, by the concurrent upsurge in rebel attacks elsewhere in the Sunni heartland, especially in Mosul. The fear was that the American forces might have crushed one center of resistance only to ignite others.

But the week since the major fighting in Falluja has also been one of a sudden quickening in political activity before the nationwide election set for Jan. 30, in which voters are to choose a 275-member assembly that will pick a provisional government and draft a permanent constitution. Many Iraqis fear that the election could set off new levels of rebel violence, but the political momentum is building. The leader of the Iraqi Electoral Commission, Abdel Hussein al-Hindawi, said Wednesday that more than 200 Iraqi political parties had registered for the polls, a week before the closing date.

Maneuvering is under way to form consolidated lists of candidates who can draw a major share of the votes. [ed. note: More on all this maneuvering soon]

Oh, and Zarqawi is feeling some serious heat, apparently:

An audiotape was posted on the Internet on Wednesday in which a man identified as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian terrorist leader, condemned the Sunni Muslim clerical establishment in Iraq for abandoning the Iraqi resistance movement in the face of the American military offensive in Falluja and other Sunni cities.

"You have let us down in the darkest circumstances and handed us over to the enemy," the tape said. "You have stopped supporting the mujahedeen. Hundreds of thousands of the nation's sons are being slaughtered at the hands of the infidels because of your silence."

Why is he feeling so abandoned? Here's one reason detailed by Edward Wong (who last week was deep in the full-blown MSM groupthink 'Fallujah-didn't-solve-anything-mode' and whose stories were replete with hyperbolic language such as talk of full-blown second front having developed in Mosul--where some police stations had changed hands)--representatives of some of the insurgent factions appear set to meet with Iraqi interim authority personnel in Jordan.

Finally this Thanksgiving, don't miss some positive news coming out of Powell's visit to Israel. Sharon is being pretty accomodative on issues related to the impending Palestinian elections:

Israeli officials say they will make it possible for Palestinians in East Jerusalem to vote, even if by postal ballots, will pull back troops from big towns in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and will dismantle a number of checkpoints to make it easier for Palestinian candidates and voters to travel freely.

The European Union said Monday that it would send an observer mission for the election. Mr. Shalom, meeting on Wednesday with the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, said those and other observers could enter "to ensure that these elections are fair and the results will be acceptable, not only to the international community but first and foremost to the Palestinian people."

In another public sign of cooperation on smaller matters, the Israeli and Palestinian tourism ministers, Gideon Ezra and Mitri Abu Aida, met Wednesday to sign an agreement on cooperative measures intended to ensure safe and smooth passage of pilgrims and tourists visiting the Holy Land, especially during the Christmas season.

And all this in the New York Times! Anyway, happy turkey day again. More blogging likely tomorrow.

Posted by Gregory at November 25, 2004 10:55 PM

"favorite NYT reporter"

Isn't this a contradiction in terms?

Posted by: Ramrod at November 26, 2004 06:04 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

They sure can eat in Houston. No such thing as small portions in that town.

Posted by: torchpraise at November 27, 2004 12:03 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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