Friday, August 29, 2008

Barbara Nimri Aziz's new book: Swimming up the Tigris: Real Life Encounters with Iraq

“Swimming Up the Tigris: Real Life Encounters with Iraq” by veteran anthropologist and journalist Barbara Nimri Aziz wins praise from all sides of the public spectrum.

Etel Adnan, poet, essayist, and artist writes: "It's so human. I loved the poems, the images, the anecdotes. They're heartbreaking. You want to hug these people. They will survive, and they will rebuild. We have to believe in that."

Scott Ritter, chief United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq (1991-1998) says of this unique perspective on Iraq: "Barbara Nimri Aziz has written a must-read book which puts a human face on an Iraqi people dehumanized by simplistic, misleading and inaccurate media accounts before, during and after America's illegitimate invasion and occupation of their homeland.
She also puts an inconvenient truth to the lies and misrepresentations often held as a fact by many Americans…, the awful impact of sanctions before the 2003 invasion, and the sophistication and depth of a thousands-year-old culture in the process of being destroyed."

Anthropologist Professor Laura Nader sees Aziz’s report on her many years observation of Iraq as “informative, empathetic, and eye-opening”. Nader writes “This gripping story about the embargo war on Iraqi peoples and culture is critical to understanding how American foreign policy erases history and the collective memory of both Iraqis and Americans”.

Aziz herself sees this account, stories and facts culled from her 42 trips to Iraq, as a portrait of a people who love their country. “If this concept, so lacking in war and conflict portrayals, can be grasped by Americans who too love their land,” she writes, “there is hope”.

This is a book which combines the analytical skills of a veteran anthropologist and the narrative ability of a journalist.

Returning from her Fulbright professorship in Algeria, Dr. Aziz will be touring the country, speaking at colleges and community centers. To set up an engagement, contact, or write directly to

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Last Pharaoh: Mubarak and the uncertain future of Egypt in the Volatile MidEast

A new book predicts the end of the Mubarak and the coming political earthquake

Aladdin Elaasar

For Immediate Release
Chicago, IL - Award winning journalist, Aladdin Elaasar has just released his latest book: THE LAST PHARAOH: MUBARAK AND THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE OF EGYPT IN THE VOLATILE MID EAST, predicting the downfall of President Mubarak of Egypt and the aftermath of the collapse of his regime .
Packed with facts and telling the story of both modern and Ancient Egypt, how the modern Arab and Islamic Worlds evolved, and interviewing and quoting experts, politicians, journalists and Western diplomats, Elaasar tells a compelling story that needs to be read by every one. Combining an uncanny sense of clarity and understatement, Aladdin Elaasar weaves E gypt’s historical grandeur with an unnerving cascade of political intrigue that reveal a side of Mubarak the world cannot long ignore. In one fell swoop, my admiration for Egypt is both strengthened, and the source of my20unease revealed, as the author sheds light on the darkness of Egyptian politics that could one day turn catastrophic. With so much at stake, the west is slowly coming to grips with a new reality; a reality which no single book or author could possibly address. The Last Pharaoh should be indispensable to anyone hoping to understand Egypt’s role, not only the Middle East, but the potential for Mubarak’s Egypt to impact the destiny of global events.
"Peeling back layer after complex layer of Egyptian intrigue, culture and politics, Aladdin de-mystifies Egypt without tarnishing her almost mystical status as the pinnacle of Arabian culture, and the bedrock of human civilization. The book is stunning in its revelations of Mubarak’s stranglehold on every aspect of life in this glorious, long suffering nation. Connecting one mysterious dot to the next, Aladdin teases the reader from chapter to chapter as he lucidly explains the details of Egypt’s worst kept secrets of all…the ‘secret’ of Mubarak’s power and how he plans to rule from his own royal crypt, " says Professor Tate Miller, expert on International Negotiations; Conflict Management; Government Relations and Diplomac y; Cross-cultural Communication, and Senior Lecturer at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
“Egypt is the next domino to fall and, as they say, so goes Egypt so goes the Middle East...explaining why a pillar of American dominance in that part of the world is about to crumble.” Says Robert Baer, former Middle East-based CIA operative and author of See No Evil, and Sleeping with the Devil.
The 83 years old President Mubarak of Egypt has been in power since 1981 and was elected for six more years in 2005. Concerns about Mubarak’s health draw much greater attention to the question of who will next rule the nation of Egypt? Succession plan for Mubarak’s son Gamal is already in place.
Haunted by the memories of the overnight fall of the Shah of Iran to the Ayatollahs, U.S. policymakers fear a similar event in Egypt. Once thought to be a strong U.S. ally, the Shah, lost his grip over power to the zealous clergy sabotaging every effort for peace and stability in the region. Marcos and Suharto, two old dictators considered strong U.S. allies, as well, fell to the angry mobs in the Philippines and Indonesia. Bush's successor is likely to=2 0find himself (or herself) facing an unbelievably bad choice in the largest Arab country. Would America intervene militarily to preserve Gamal’s faltering rule? Is Africa where Al-Qaeda hides its money, guns, recruits, training camps—and its future? Africa would be the last gr eat stand in this Long War, where all those impossibly straight borders will inevitably be made squiggly again by globalization's cultural reformatting process. Now this fight heads south...and yes, the Long War could be even uglier there.
About the Author
Born, raised and educated in Egypt, lecturer and writer Aladdin Elaasar is one of the foremost authorities on Egypt and the Arab World. Some of his writings are: “Iraq, the State & Terrorism”; where he predicted the downfall of former Dictator Saddam Hussein. Elaasar also wrote “Silent Victims: the Plight of Arab & Muslim Americans in Post 9/11 America”, 2004. He has been a frequent commentator on Middle Eastern affairs on several local American TV and Radio networks since 1992.

For a free preview please click here:

New Book "Prophets and Princes" by Mark Weston released


Prophets and Princes – Saudi Arabia from Muhammad to the Present By Mark Weston
Presents a new, post – 9/11 history of Saudi Arabia

New York, NY – Saudi Arabia is easy to criticize. It is the birthplace of Osama bin Laden and fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers. Saudi women are not permitted to drive, work with men, or travel without a man’s permission. Prior to 9/11, the Saudis sent millions of dollars abroad to schools that taught Muslim extremism and to charities that turned out to be fronts for al-Qaeda. Yet the country is the economic and spiritual center of the Middle East, the source of one fourth of the world’s oil, and the cradle of Islam.

In PROPHETS AND PRINCES (Wiley, August 2008, $35.00), Mark Weston, a scholar who has lived in Saudi Arabia, writes that despite its serious shortcomings, the Saudi kingdom is still America’s most important ally in the Middle East. The country is a voice for moderation toward Israel and on the price of oil, and it is starting to make the economic and cultural changes necessary to adjust to modern realities.

Most books on Saudi Arabia focus on current events and give short shrift to the long history that is the key to understanding the Saudis. PROPHETS AND PRINCES begins with the birth of Muhammad in 570, but almost half of the book is a revealing portrait of Saudi Arabia today. Drawing on interviews with many Saudi men and women, Weston portrays a complex society in which sixty percent of Saudi Arabia’s university students are women, and citizens who seek a constitutional monarchy can petition the king without fear of reprisal.

PROPHETS AND PRINCES is loaded with new information about Saudi Arabia, painting a more complete picture of the country than other recent books on the topic do. For example:

· The Saudi government has stopped charities from doing any work abroad since 9/11, fired 1300 radical clerics and forbidden them to preach, and is completing the process of replacing over a million textbooks that had hostile references to Christians and Jews.

· The terror-filled spring of 2004, when Westerners were getting killed every few days, came to an abrupt end in June of that year when the Saudi police raided several terrorist hideouts after receiving tips from “disgusted neighbors.”

· 22 members of the bin Laden family were able to leave the U.S. in the days after 9/11 because the FBI had already thoroughly investigated the entire family, with their full cooperation, after the 1998 African embassy bombings.

· The outrage following the tragic girls’ school fire in Mecca in 2002, when fifteen girls were trampled to death as religious policemen prevented fire fighters from entering the school because the girls were not wearing the full veil, has led to a freer press and the transfer of the administration of the nation’s girls’ schools from religious authorities to the Ministry of Education.

Weston also brings to life the story of Muhammad, his successors, and origin of the Sunni-Shi’ite split in the 7th century; ibn Abdul Wahhab and the rise of Wahhabism in the 18th century; the discovery of oil in the kingdom in the 1930s, and the influence of the Egyptian writer Sayyid Qutb on al-Qaeda in 20th and 21st centuries.

Mark Weston, a former Visiting Scholar at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, has been a lawyer for ABC Television and a journalist for ABC News. His articles have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Los Angeles Times. He is the author of Giants of Japan, The Lives of Japan’s Greatest Men and Women and The Land and People of Pakistan.

Filled with new and underreported information about life in Saudi Arabia, PROPHETS AND PRINCES is a must-read for anyone interested in the Middle East, oil, Islam, or terrorism.

Friday, August 1, 2008

"If Olaya Street Could Talk" gives Americans a clear and fascinating perspective on Saudi Arabia

(Listen to podcast interview with author, below). Saudi Arabia is the whipping boy of the American public. Any time something goes wrong, blame it on the Arabs and the symbol of the Arabs remains an old, outdated video clip of King Faisal in old black sunglasses with a keffiyeh on his head and wearing long white gowns surrounded by similarly dressed sheikhs. King Faisal was a very dedicated Arab leader who did his best to bring the Arab World into the modern century without losing the cultural uniqueness of being an Arab. It continues today, but Americans only selfishly think of oil and blame their own troubles on everyone else, and Saudi Arabia often takes the beating.

But a new book is out that is perfect for American readers called "If Olaya Street Could Talk." It's written by an American, John Paul Jones, who launched one of the only real Arab American printing houses to focus on badly needed objective books about the Middle East, Taza Press at

Jones offers firsthand insights into the reality of Saudi Arabia and focuses on the Islamic-Western divide which is often exaggerated to achieve political agendas.

Olaya Street is the principle thoroughfare in Riyadh, which Jones notes is the equivalent to New York ity, a street he first saw in 1978 when he first arrived in the country. Back then, he remembers, it had goats grazing along its easements. But today, 60 story office buildings garnish the main arterial road. The cover photos alone show how the street changed from a desert highway with oil rigs and cranes to a bustling cosmopolitan city that Jones guides the reader through, offering a real, firsthand look at the Saudi people, their customs and their religion, Islam, a religion of peace.

Jones does what most other Islamic scholars and activists fail to do, separate the political agendas and their selfish needs from the reality of life, when the Vietnam Veteran returned home to find a possible opportunity working for a company in the desert kingdom.

What he brings back thirty years later is an objectivity and a truth that no one who has covered Saudi Arabia and the Arab and Muslim Worlds has ever managed to give the American public. An unvarnished, accurate look at the reality of life there without worrying about the political agendas that transform lies into truth and truth into propaganda.

"If Olaya Street Could Talk" is a book Americans definitely should invest what little money they have left from their salaries that isn't spent on gasoline and other products exploited by multi-national corporations and balmed on the Arabs.
Author John Paul Jones
Albuqurque, New Mexico
2007, 236 Pages

PODCAST INTERVIEW: POINT TO POINT. August 1, 2008: Ray Hanania interviews Author John Paul Jones on his new book "If Olaya Street Could Talk: Saudi Arabia the Heartland of Oil and Islam" published by Taza Press. A detailed look at the Saudi world through the eyes of a typical American. Listen to podcast?