Sunday, April 5

Six Years Since the Fall of Baghdad...

Oh Baghdad, what have they done to you?
seas and deserts took us far apart,
but do not worry, Dear, I will be back to you,
Don't you see that I left you with my heart?

It was a solemn morning and I’d been preparing myself for the last two days not to cry. You won’t cry, I kept saying, because you’re coming back. You won’t cry because it’s just a little trip like the ones you used to take to Mosul or Basrah before the war. In spite of my assurances to myself of a safe and happy return, I spent several hours before leaving with a huge lump lodged firmly in my throat. My eyes burned and my nose ran in spite of me. I told myself it was an allergy.
- Riverbend
I wish now that we had cried, to let our tears mix with the soil that we was leaving toward an unknown future.

Wednesday, April 1

Pentagon Report: on Military Research Contract with AUC in 2007

The American University in Cairo and the American embassy in Egypt denied Monday allegations that the university was receiving secret funding from the Pentagon after an Egyptian paper exploded the controversy in a press report.

The American University in Cairo (AUC) denied in a press statement issused Monday that it received funding from the Pentagon, saying the allegations made by the oppositional Egyptian daily news paper al-Masry al-youm were "misleading."

Al-Masry al-yowm published a report earlier on Monday claiming that AUC signed a contract worth 3.4 million Egyptian pounds ($ 600,000) with the Pentagon to supply confidential information about Egypt's national security to the U.S. Department of Defense and Marine Corps. The report argued that despite the contract was listed on the U.S. government website, information available on the contract was vague and warranted suspicion.

AlMasry Aywam published a SECOND report today morning, showing that the research was partially on infectious diseases and Avian Flu but it did contain other information about Egypt which the Pentagon report descried as 'Confidential.'

The research was done in 2007, and several Israeli researchers spent the summer in AUC labs despite students' strikes and requests for president David Arnold not to accept Israeli researchers on campus since it is agianst the Constituion of Universities of the Egyptian Ministry of Higher Education and will jeoperdize AUC's reputation and accreditation in Egyptian universities, also it was against the Academic Boycott of Israel document that AUC had signed on in year 2000 when the second intifada in Palestine broke out.

Yesterday the egyptian political show 'ten o'clock in the evening', was hosting some spokesman from AUC and an editor from the Egyptian newspaper who revealed the Pentagon Report, the AUC person was assuring everyone all the way that the work was public and transparent and it merely did some researches regarding Avian Flu... Then one of the researchers who worked at AUC during that summer joined on the phone and he told them that the research contained biohazrdous experiments, and there were labs for Egyptian researchers to work on Avian Flu, while there were other two labs with locked doors and security guards in which Israeli researchers worked. He added that researchers who entered that room always were sanitized and had to wear latex gloves and masks before they were admitted to the room.

Today 25 Egyptian parlimantarians submitted a request to open an investigation in the type of the research that was made in summer 2007 at AUC. On another note, two Egyptian independent parlimantarians wrote a petition today to the minister of higher education asking him to take serious steps toward this issue. "The AUC has given detailed information about Egypt to a military organization of another country, and that is a direct violation of the Egyptian Constitution" they mentioned in their petition, and requested that AUC's accreditation by the Ministry must be withdrawn immediately, and there must be a judicial punishment in response to their action. They also demanded the government to confiscate its new campus which AUC had apparently purchased its 500-acre land from the Egyptian government for free under some political pressure from US-AID nearly a decade ago.

Most Egyptian newspapers today had this news in their front page headlines, and several international law experts wrote articles this morning about the level of the violation to the Egyptian law that AUC has committed.

Despite anything that can be said for or against this Pentagon report, AUC seems to have gained a very bad reputation among Egyptians for being 'an educational institution that hides many suspicious activities behind the curtains of learning' and 'a second American embassy in Cairo with many suspicious connections with the CIA.'