Firas Al-Atraqchi

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Latest by Firas Al-Atraqchi


What did the Arabs really win in the 1973 War with Israel?

CAIRO: To the Arabs, the “victories” of the October 1973 (Tenth of Ramadan) War proved that Israel was not invincible. To the Israelis, the Yom Kippur War proved that even when taken by nominal surprise, its military can strike back with tactical superiority. But in the 37 years since, the Arab world has little to …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

Obama’s ‘No, we won’t’ moment in Iraq

The US political and military establishments have made numerous grave errors in judgment when it comes to Iraq policy, foremost of which is the choice to invade and occupy the oil-rich nation. However, in hoping to save face with a history that will not forgive the blundering in Iraq, the White House is about to …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

Jolie’s ‘Salt’ is indigestible

In the past few months, billboards, TV spots and newspaper ads all asked the same question, who is Salt? After watching the action thriller starring Angelina Jolie in the title role, the answer became disappointingly self-evident. Salt is Lara Croft, Sarah Connor, La Femme Nikita, Mrs. Jane Smith and Ripley. Salt is John Rambo and …

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Knight and Day: A mission impossible for Tom Cruise

  The first few minutes of James Mangold’s “Knight and Day” are packed with interesting dialogue, a literate script bordering on the philosophical, simmering sexual tension, and masterful character development.  June Havens (Cameron Diaz), a clumsy if not oafish car mechanic about to board a flight from Wichita to Boston where she plans to attend …

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Does a plan come together for the A-Team?

“I love it when a plan comes together.” This iconic phrase was first uttered by Colonel John ‘Hannibal’ Smith when “The A-Team” action series debuted on the NBC network in the US in 1983. But did the scriptwriters, producers and director Joe Carnahan (“Smokin’ Aces”) really have a plan when they signed on to make …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

Arabs Believe Obama is Powerless in the Middle East

The unprecedented enthusiasm in the Arab and Muslim world which greeted Barack Obama’s election win nearly 20 months ago has been replaced with disappointment and anger. Millions of Arabs and Muslims applauded when Barack Obama addressed the Muslim world in Cairo on June 4 last year, and cheered him when he said “America will not …

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Prince of Persia: Swashbuckling fun, but history lost in Sands of Time

The latest production based on a popular video game, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” is great fun, filled to the sword hilt with swashbuckling adventure, mysticism and all the conspiracy and treachery that would make Machiavelli proud. But the film has also had its fair share of controversy. While the advertising blitz for …

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Iraq's political turmoil could lead to civil war

The decision by an Iraqi court to disqualify dozens of candidates — including one winner from the Iraqiya coalition led by former premier Iyad Allawi — for alleged ties to the Baath party could push the country closer to civil war. There is an old adage in the Middle East that Arab rulers in power …

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Sherlock Holmes: Ritchie's super sleuth

Quick question: What movie-making elements guarantee the success of a film? Are they the script, the direction, the cast, the action sequences, the subject matter, or the vigorous marketing campaign? In the case of “Sherlock Holmes, directed by maverick Guy Ritchie, it is a composite of all of the above. Ritchie builds on the popularity …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

The Avatar decade

James Cameron s latest epic “Avatar is the work of a visionary … but if you are an avid moviegoer who has followed his work in the past three decades, you probably already know that. In the 1980s, Cameron created a myopic future fashioned in the fanaticism of a technology that for too long went …

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Harry Potter and the Half-Baked film

Our children have all grown up now and in the world of adolescence, the world of magic is no longer innocent. At least, the viewer is made to think so in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth installment of J.K. Rowling s phenomenally successful franchise. Harry and his entourage are immersed in the …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

Europe must address Islamophobic threat

The murder of Marwa Al-Sherbini, a veiled (and pregnant) Egyptian woman, as she prepared to give evidence in a German courtroom against a man who publicly slandered her, has incensed the Muslim World and re-ignited the debate over whether Europe is a truly tolerant society or one on the cusp of xenophobic extremism. Muslims say …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

An untold story of tragedy and compassion in Iraq

Thousands of Iraqis are celebrating the redeployment of US troops out of their cities and into military bases throughout the country. But the fireworks fired into the air and the pomp and circumstance of so-called Sovereignty Day, the sobriquet the Baghdad government has chosen to earmark the US redeployment, cannot mask the grief felt by …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

Transformers 2: Revenge of the sullen

If I were to use two words or less to critique Michael Bay’s sequel “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen they would be Megan Fox. Megan Fox. That’s it. Nothing to see after that folks, move along. Move along. Sarcasm aside there really isn’t much beyond Megan Fox worth watching in this action-comedy extravaganza. In the …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

Are Arabs ready for peace with Israel?

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak s op-ed on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Wall Street Journal (June 19) should not be viewed through the prism of economic and political challenges he faces at home nor should it be influenced by the increasingly vocal domestic demands for democratic reform. Failure to put his speech in the proper …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

Arab pro-democracy movements should support Iran's new revolutionaries

The coming days will determine whether Iran continues to be governed by a rogue and expansionist regime hiding behind the veil of a moral theocracy or a government that is friendlier, less intimidating and a cooperative member of the international community. Iran’s Arab neighbors must ensure that it is the latter which prevails. The youth …

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'State of Play' takes on media wars

At first glance, “State of Play has the makings of a typical run-of-the-mill high stakes edge-of-your-seat thriller infused with a good measure of political intrigue, scandal and Washington melodrama. A young female aide to influential congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck) meets a gruesome death just as he begins investigating a powerful security firm for misconduct …

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Jay Leno passes the baton … but he'll be back

Three days before he walked out of a Burbank, California theater and bid farewell to “The Tonight Show, which he had hosted for 17 years, Jay Leno made one last jab at Hollywood icon Arnold Schwarzenegger. He gave the best vocal impersonation yet of the Austrian Oak (who later appeared as a guest) in a …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

Terminator franchise can still be saved

Terminator Salvation, the new ‘us-versus-machines’ blockbuster, immediately presents a number of quandaries. The title, for example, could signal that this is the concluding opus to the 25-year franchise. In theological terms, salvation comes after a fall (sin) and the consequent search for redemption (freeing of sin); it is an end to a means, which leaves …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

To boldly re-launch a franchise

When “Star Trek debuted as a television series in 1966, it was designed to be a Western flick in space; think “Rawhide in the Alpha Quadrant. But it soon became so much more as writer/producer Gene Roddenberry probed the most pressing issues of his contemporary society – racial inequality, the Vietnam War, and the Iron …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

Hamas delivers Israel a stunning victory

As the crumbling state of affairs in Gaza and the West Bank continues to shock Arab media and analysts, a more covert and perhaps duplicitous scenario begins to emerge. Since January 2006, Arab media pundits have joined their western counterparts in expressing surprise that the Islamist militant group Hamas could so sweep the elections and …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

Adieu to the troops in the trenches

Running, managing, and editing a newspaper is very much like operating on a battlefield, sticking it out in the muddied trenches with your troops, barking orders at the crack of dawn and ensuring that the men s morale is always high. At The Daily Star Egypt, there developed a sense of Semper Fi as the …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

Everyone is allowed to give the Palestinians a good kick

Go on, then. Find a Palestinian – man, woman, child . irrespective; refugee and downtrodden preferred. Now give them a good wallop and make sure it smarts. There, chalk one up for freedom. But freedom or the war on terror cannot be measured in the successful killing of innocents. Take the recent debacle in Lebanon …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

Opposition parties in orbit

Gamal Mubarak, head of the National Democratic Party s Policies Committee, is getting married in early May. Congratulations to Mr Mubarak and his bride. But what is disconcerting about the upcoming wedding is the hoopla and near hysteria displayed by the so-called opposition newspapers. They have hatched conspiracy theories that the marriage is a means …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

God bless Ehud Olmert

Call it a master stroke. Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s surprise announcement on Sunday calling for a regional peace conference is bound to shame the purportedly successful Riyadh Summit. Last week, Arab leaders – with pomp and circumstance – reiterated their peace initiative first expressed at the Beirut Summit in May 2002. Ironically, the Arab …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

Between Iran and Israel, all is lost

Do not put any hope in the Riyadh Summit of the League of Arab Nations. The Arab heads of state are meeting at a time that will go down in history books as the most critical and dangerous in the past 2000 years. Two thousand years – the history of past generations and conflicts in …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

Four years later, the annihilation of Iraq is still on course

Four years ago, US-led forces began a vicious aerial bombardment of the oil-rich country of Iraq. Referred to as Operation Iraqi Freedom, the opening salvo ushered the vital Arab nation into an era of darkness, dread and destruction. The first signs that Iraqis were in for a bloody and inhumane occupation were felt in the …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

O Ummah of Mohammed, have you died?

The Haram Al-Qudsi (Noble Sanctuary) housing the Al-Aqsa Mosque was invaded and occupied by Israeli police yesterday. Stun grenades were fired by Israeli forces at worshippers. Live ammunition was also used. And the Muslim world slept. Israeli forces told the media that they had reinforced an already existing police presence in the area with an …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

The US should pay Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan

There is a refugee crisis in the Middle East that is unprecedented and far supersedes the Palestinian Diaspora of 1948. Millions of Iraqis – some educated and as well off as one would expect of a peoples fleeing genocide, others impoverished and forced to live off the kindness of strangers – have streamed across their …

Firas Al-Atraqchi

Egyptian diplomacy in the spotlight again

But can the uneasy Fatah-Hamas truce last? Another flare-up in the Arab world and another Egyptian diplomatic initiative to bring about an end to hostilities. The past two years have proven to be most challenging for Egypt’s diplomatic corps and mediators, flying nearly non-stop from one Arab and African capital to the next. And I …

Firas Al-Atraqchi