News and Analysis (10/27/16)

October 27th, 2016

The placement of American drone bases in threatens to undermine the most promising democratic reform movement in the Arab world …

… adding to the horrors inflicted by drones not only on he victims of American military intervention abroad, but our own soldiers suffering “guilt, anxiety, moral injury, PTSD, sleep disorder, despair” and sometimes suicide”:

The imamah says that resistance from more conservative Muslims has been “quite moderate” but that she has “received threats from right-wing extremists on social media”:

“There are a lot of feminist undertones with the decision to veil parts of yourself in order to make other parts of yourself shine” — Layla Shaikley, NASA intern and cofounder of TedxBaghdad and of software startup Wise Systems :

Erdogan is more fearful of the Kurds than Asad or ISIS:

His father reminded him that his scholarship to Bennington College was “donated by wealthy Americans” and educating a poor African Muslim is “as Islamic as building a mosque” and kept the US “elevated in the eyes of Allah”:

“[M]ore than 14 million people, over half of Yemen’s population … are short of food, with much of the country on the brink of famine, according to the United Nations”:

News and Analysis (10/24/16)

October 24th, 2016

The Togolese soccer player explains how his conversion enables him to more truly follow Christ:

“[A] bill to strengthen legislation on violence against women … [c]hampioned by Ennahdha, a conservative reformist party with Islamic roots and a clutch of dynamic female MPs and officials … is expected [pass] by the end of 2016″:

A cartoon showing President al-Sisi diving in after  a drowning man only to steal his watch “captures the mood of desperation and anger among Egyptians clobbered by tax rises, soaring food price inflation and cuts in state subsidies” …

… while an Oxford professor notes the similarities between Sisi and Trump:

“They may just stay home. There are third-party candidates, and for Muslims they’re very real possibilities. I don’t think anyone can take a Democratic vote from a Muslim for granted”– Dalia Mogahed:

Under the occupation “thousands of Palestinian laborers in the economically depressed West Bank … have no choice but to work” at menial jobs in the illegal settlements”:

A 21-state survey in anticipation of the final FBI report expected next month indicates a shocking increase for Muslims as a percentage of hate crime targets from 2.7% in 2014 to 4.8% in 2015:

“The leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah says his parliamentary bloc will vote for former army commander Michel Aoun for president” making the Christian the probable winner of the parliamentary balloting session”:

“Islam does not encourage divorces and permits only in exceptional circumstances and it must be resorted to only when there is no alternative, and that to, in the most amicable manner”:

“The Bern court ruled that …. a headscarf can only be grounds for termination in cases where it makes it impossible to carry out duties described in the employment contract or if it ‘substantially affects’ the working environment”:

News and Analysis (10/21/16)

October 21st, 2016

“60 prisoners remain in Guantánamo, 19 of whom have been cleared for release. With time running out, President Obama must double down and … end the unlawful and unjust practice of indefinite detention”:

From their viewpoint, “critics of collective responsibility claim that Muslims should “stand up against the state and its violence against Muslims in general”:

“Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms says officials raided its Cairo base, raising fears of revived crackdown”:

“[E]lite Iraqi special forces joined the fight Thursday, unleashing a pre-dawn assault on an Islamic State-held town east of the besieged city, and the U.S. military announced the first American combat death since the operation began”:

“The attack was repelled by local security forces, who said six of the militants had been killed in the operation”:

“Carter, acknowledging it was a delicate issue, declined to explicitly say whether he thought Turkey should be allowed to participate in the operations in Iraq. Washington in the past has deferred that matter to Baghdad”:

The Middle East and the Next Administration: Challenges, Opportunities and Recommendations

October 19th, 2016

[These are selected highlights excerpted from Ambassador Chas W. Freeman, Jr.’s address to the Middle East Policy Council’s 86th Capitol Hill Conference. The complete video and transcript of the entire conference are available at:]

The Middle East and the Next Administration: challenges, opportunities and recommendations [Excerpts selected by Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D., Minaret of Freedom Institute]

CHAS W. FREEMAN, JR. (Chairman, Projects International Inc.; Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia; Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense; Former President, Middle East Policy Council)

I think Osama bin Laden must have died happy. He devoted the last third of his life to creating animosity between the West and Islam and to driving a wedge between Saudi Arabia and the United States. Today, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey are all estranged from our country. And as an unexpected bonus, so is Israel….

America is less secure, we are less prosperous as Americans, and we are less free than we were as this century began. In life Osama was transformative. In death he continues to shape the world he left behind. Can a new administration change this? Will it…?

I do not believe that we are about to elect a president able to govern effectively and to end dysfunction in Washington. Whoever we choose as our president seems certain to be regarded as illegitimate and opposed by supporters of her or his rival…. [A]t heart, the two candidates faithfully reflect the narratives, prejudices and conventional policy approaches of the nation they propose to lead…. This gives them so much in common that I think it’s more efficient to discuss them together rather than separately. So I will refer to Candidates Clinton and Trump as one gender-fluid person, “Candidate Clump.” (Laughter.) Candidate Clump is on the payroll of the Israel lobby’s major donors, wants to isolate Iran, and loves sanctions and other forms of economic warfare more than trade and investment. Clump was for the invasion of Iraq before “hesh” was against it. (Laughter.) Hesh is more interested in poking at the Middle East than in understanding it….

When elected, President Clump will give Israel whatever it must have to fend off its political tantrums … [and] is very unlikely to lead an intelligent interagency or national discussion about what must be done to dig ourselves out of the very large and deep sinkhole in the Middle East that we’ve fallen into….

What situations will our president, Congress and Supreme Court inherit in the Middle East…? [T]here are at least 12 distinct but overlapping wars going on in Syria, maybe more. Saudi Arabia is at war with Iran; foreign-backed insurgents with the Assad government; Hezbollah, Iraqi militias and Iran with the insurgents; Islamists with secularists; foreign-backed forces with Daesh, the Islamic State; Shiites with Sunnis; Kurds with Arabs; Kurds with Kurds; Turks with Kurds; and the United States separately with the Assad government, with Daesh and with Russia.

The United States is indirectly or directly involved in about half of these Syrian wars, aligned with and against Assad and with and against the insurgent forces, sometimes with Turkey and sometimes against Turkey, sometimes with the Kurds but always against Russia. Oh, and Israel continues to bomb Syrians whenever it feels like it….

Assad remains in power. The Gulf Arabs feel let down. Sectarian strife swells. Foreign interventions wax and wane. Iran retains their preeminent political role in the Levant. Turkey turns this way and that. Kurdish self-determination looms and recedes. Turkey and Europe drown in refugees. The U.S. and Russia are ever closer to war. All sides, including the United States, remorselessly violate both international law and the basic canons of human decency. And Daesh revels in its martyrdom. And the slaughter continues….

We accept no responsibility for the 450,000 or more dead Syrians or the 11 million displaced from their homes. Our politicians and public oppose taking in the refugees from the anarchy we have helped to foster. This is craven, dishonorable, and a reproach to our moral standing and prestige. But let’s leave such quibbles aside. This is, after all, Washington, where both common sense and moral accountability come to die….

Part of our reason for joining Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE in attempting to overthrow the Assad government was to show solidarity with them – complicity instead, I should say…. [T]here is no silver lining to be seen in the dark cloud of Syria’s agony

Parallel contradictions are at work in Iraq, which our 2003 invasion and occupation also thrust into anarchy…. As in Syria, our policies appear to align every which way….

Occasionally, presidential candidates hint that they have a plan that diagrams how Americans can end our misadventures in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, but the last box on their plan seems to read “a miracle happens here.” It’s the Middle East, so where miracles are said to have happened in the past so I suppose you can’t rule that out, but it’s hard to consider this much of a plausible probability….

[W]ith the cult of the warrior ascendant in our culture and few Americans dying, the Washington playbook is likely to prevail. We will continue on autopilot but deploy more firepower. Anti-American terrorism with global reach will therefore continue to grow…. Whether homegrown or foreign, our attackers see themselves as humiliated, persecuted, bullied or otherwise victimized. They’re looking for a cause larger than themselves in which to cloak their criminality…. We mistake their terrorist doctrine for their motivation. But they are psychotic, not pious. They are gangbangers, not theologians.

Bombing the so-called Islamic State and snuffing Muslims from the air with drones don’t help cure anti-American terrorism with global reach. They feed the very paranoid delusions on which it thrives. Eliminating the Islamic State’s control of parts of Syria and Iraq will not eliminate the causes of terrorism directed at the West.

It’s time for a different approach. The place to start, I think, is Syria … [where reliant on external support, combatants] have not needed to court popular support by avoiding atrocities against civilians. Cutting off overt and covert aid to combatants would help restore their incentive to do so, meaning to take account of the feelings of the people they are victimizing in Syria.

[All parties] would all be better off if we and all other external parties agreed to mutual restraint and an end to the supply of weapons and training and fighters to Syria … [and] would also bring the world back into conformity with the principle that one should do no harm and mark a return to respect for international law….

As part of a search for a regional détente, the United States needs to have a serious discussion with the Saudis about a war termination strategy for Yemen … [which could] help detoxify the U.S.-Saudi relationship. It’s become politically poisonous in both countries, as illustrated by the blossoming of American Islamophobia, Saudi vituperation against America, and the recent override of President Obama’s veto of JASTA, the cynically named Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. This is actually the “shyster’s relief act” of 2016.

Despite decades of efforts by the United States to broker peace between Israel, the Palestinians, and the Arab and Muslim worlds, the so-called peace process is now dead and buried. It cannot be exhumed and it will not be resurrected … [meaning that] the United States will have no political cover internationally at all for its continuing subsidies to the Israeli settlement enterprise or for its protection of Israel from international condemnation and punishment for its gross violations of the rights of its captive Arab populations, illegal territorial expansion, and intermittent military assaults on neighbors….

Israel has become one of the wealthiest countries on the planet. It dominates its region militarily yet U.S. taxpayers will pay, or more likely borrow, $3.8 billion each year for the next 10 to subsidize it – this despite the fact that Israel contemptuously opposes most U.S. policies in its region. It goes out of its way to demonstrate its defiance of U.S. and international opinion of its policies and seems to many to be hell-bent on doing itself in. Unconditional support for Israel does grave harm to Israel by enabling it to behave in ways and take risks with its future that it otherwise would not….

U.S. attempts to advocate human rights, oppose racism, promote the rule of law, empower women or support the democratization of government as insincere, hypocritical or downright duplicitous. Americans speaking out for our values in the Middle East now persuade no one there. We just remind them of our unflinching complicity in Israeli policies and practices that mock the ideals we claim to champion.

On its way out, the Obama administration has begun speaking more honestly – which means more harshly – about the extent to which Israeli statements and behavior now trouble Americans, including, by the way, the great majority of American Jews. But in the region this just comes across as: Who are you going to believe, America or your lying eyes?

… [T]he probable result of doing more of the same is more of the same. That’s really too bad, both for us and for everyone in the Middle East….


News and Analysis (10/19/16)

October 19th, 2016

After years of pretending that Asad had a monopoly on chemical weapons in Syria, the U.S. finally admits to (some of the) evidence that his opponents have used them:

Unless the Sunni population’s antipathy to Iraq’s “Shia-dominated government … changes, the military defeat of … Isis … within Iraq will mutate into a … sectarian conflict that will usher in the next mutation of Wahhabi extremism”:

Recently freed movement “leaders have sworn to liberate Ethiopia from the western backed Tigrayan ethnic minority regime presently ruling the country.” Muslims are the majority and Islam forbids ethnic discrimination:

As a counter-terrorism computer scientist he risks facing violence in Pakistan, but he prefers that to what his family endured in the US:

The Muslims visited by the gymnast showed him “what they learn & the true meaning behind there religion of peace” and he now says he would not use his video as an endorsement of free speech but as a example of bad taste:

“You can always count on the authorities to make us look stupid” — a Malaysian Facebook commentator:

When Lindsay Lohan began her study of Islam, “the reaction from her fellow Americans was negative and somewhat shortsighted.” But an online fan says, “If Islam is helping her find and keep her sobriety, that’s awesome”:

“The issue of openly demonstrating religious signs becomes increasingly touchy in secular France as it also becomes more politicized” …

… but Macron challenges the prevailing French view that there should be no religion in public life, “If the state should be neutral, which is at the heart of secularism, we have a duty to let everybody practice their religion with dignity”:

The picture of a Muslim supporter in Trump’s ad has two tiny problems: he’s a Sikh and he’s not supporting Trump:

News and Analysis (10/16/16)

October 16th, 2016

Unsatisfied with the mass murder of Muslims, the home-grown terrorists planned to target “churches that had supported refugees … [and] allegedly plotted attacking city and county commission meetings and even landlords who rented to Muslim refugees” as well …

… but threats in Georgia indicate that the Kansas plot is just the tip of an ugly iceberg:

The accusation that when a young Muslim confessed to suicidal thoughts after his girlfriend broke up with him, an FBI informant urged to die for a terrorist cause instead lends credence to charges that he FBI is turning troubled youth into terrorists:

Decades before Jenner developed his smallpox vaccine, Cotton Mather described how his Muslim slave taught him the method of inoculation, showing “in his Arm ye Scar,” and “perhaps saving thousands of lives in early 18th-century New England”:

After a U.S. supported attack a funeral killed 140 mourners we blame unnamed sources of bad intelligence, rather than ask “So, what’s wrong with our culture?”

Kerry refuses to name the released Americans nor has he revealed what they were doing in the war zone:

Clinton advisers tell her to express her opposition to the Palestinians’ right to return to their homes in  way that doesn’t offend liberal Jews’ “discomfort” with Israel’s brutal occupation policies:

Unlike the Citadel, “Norwich was quick to agree to make the accommodation, which will also apply to Jewish men who wish to wear a yarmulke along with their uniforms”:

“The Islamic State even named its monthly magazine Dabiq,” in reference to a Prophetic tradition about the end times, in its effort to legitimize its terrorist activities:

“Why don’t these clerics press for Shariat laws against Muslim men accused of rape and other such crimes?” — Muslim Mahila Foundation president Nazneen Ansari:

News and Analysis (10/14/16)

October 14th, 2016

“This is a clear sign that the terrorist organization has started to lose support not only from the population, but even from its own members” — Iraqi Counter-terrorism Service spokesman Sabah al-Numani:

“With this direct US involvement in Yemen’s civil war, the US bears greater responsibility to end it”:

“We are at a crossroads where we can either emerge as a pluralistic democracy in Asia and in the Muslim world or where our nation will implode from grand corruption and different religious and ethnic groups being pitted against each other fighting for limited resources”:

Many of “the girls are from a Christian enclave in the predominantly Muslim northeast. Many of their parents are involved in translating the Bible into local languages and belong to the Nigerian branch of the Elgin, Illinois-based Church of the Brethren”:

Treating drug addition with compassion instead of coercion or alternative drugs. “The reason Laila’s camp has had a higher rate of success than government-run hospitals has a lot to do with the emotional and psychological care [the workers] provide to the addicts”:

The PA issued a statement regretting Israeli attempts to shift focus from Israel’s illegal and colonial actions … to issues irrelevant to the content and objectives of the resolutions, which aims to put an end to Israel’s dangerous and illegal actions against holy sites”:

“Article 72(2) of the FIFA 2016 statutes … states “members associations and their clubs may not play on the territory of another member association without the latter’s approval”:

The new airstrikes reported by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights will add “at least 358 civilians … killed in eastern Aleppo since the U.S. and Russian-brokered truce collapsed on Sept. 19 … [including] over 100 children have been killed in the campaign”:

News and Analysis (10/10/16)

October 10th, 2016

“[T]wo days after an apparent Saudi-led air strike killed 140 mourners at a funeral attended by powerful tribal leaders” …

… “diplomatic neglect as well as US and UK arms sales have fueled Saudi-Iranian proxy war that could blow up in west’s face”:

The whistle blower says he was hired to make “television commercials portraying al-Qaeda in a negative light, … fake news segments intended to look like they were ‘created by Arabic TV’ … [and] fabricated propaganda films made to look like they came from al-Qaeda”:

Following Trump’s advice that Muslims report hatred when they see it, a college professor in Brooklyn tweeted, “I’m a Muslim, and I would like to report a crazy man threatening a woman on a stage in Missouri”:

Denying any terrorist links, Kimberly Miners says, “You don’t get **** for wearing nowt, but the second you start wearing [Islamic attire] you get accused [of extremism] and stuff”:

Tennessee has passed a law aimed at distinguishing teaching ABOUT religion for teaching religion:

Why are Muslims persecuted for acting on a commandment found in the New Testament (James 4:13-17)?

“Bacon isn’t … Kryptonite”:

“The Mandal officials said that ‘triple talaq’ has been abolished in many Islamic countries and has no support in Islam”:

News and Analysis (10/7/16)

October 7th, 2016

When it comes to recognizing women’s achievement, architecture historian Mary Woods thinks that the Pritzker committee has much to learn from the precedent set by the Muslims’ Aga Khan Award for Architecture:

Since coming to America this Ahmadiyya Muslim met many Muslims who “sympathize with the plight of the Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan … but can count on one hand the number of Sunni and Shia imams who have come forward to call out the injustices against Ahmadi Muslims”:

In the same way that knowledge of the history of evolution or the determination of the age of the universe violates her child’s (or should we say her) religious beliefs?

“When Khairuldeen Makhzoomi was pulled off a Southwest Airlines flight and interrogated by police officers, he said he felt like he was back in Iraq — a police state. But the recent UC Berkeley graduate was in Los Angeles, waiting to take a flight back to Oakland”:

Despite the fact that the Qur’an does not condone stoning for any crime whatsoever, Iraee wrote a story (never published) in which a young woman who burns a copy of the book after being enraged by viewing a film depicting the fatal stoning of a  young woman stoned to death”:

“A joint session of the lower and upper houses of parliament, broadcast live on television, approved the new anti-honor killing law, removing a loophole in existing law that allows killers to walk free after being pardoned by family members”:

“If ISIS loses the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in the coming battle, its visions of a caliphate would fade, while the government in Baghdad would have the chance to rewrite Iraq’s national narrative” …

… but “complaints from fighters and commanders in the National Mobilisation force about lack of weapons from the Baghdad government highlights sectarian faultlines that could undermine the offensive and chances for sectarian and ethnic harmony”:

News and Analysis (10/5/16)

October 5th, 2016

Snowden tried to warn us. Did Yahoo comply with an illegal order from the U.S. government?

“The Pentagon confirmed the PR firm did work for them…. US law prohibits the government from using propaganda on its population, hence the use of an outside firm to create the content”:

“The ministry accused Kamal of running armed branches of the group. But the Arab world’s oldest Islamist organisation insists it is committed to peaceful activism”:

“As both Kaskas and Hungerford have deep knowledge of their respective religious texts” it  was important that their translation not put “words in God’s mouth”:

“Its lush musical textures notwithstanding, the play poses unsettling questions” about profiling, entrapment, the prosecution of possible predisposition to terrorism, “‘extraordinary measures[ that cross the line of torturing American citizens”:

“[R]efugees must prove that they were forced to leave their country because of  ‘a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group'” …

… and “[f]ar from being a threat, [this Muslim refugee] was willing to lay down his own life to protect an American soldier”:

“Analysts say there isn’t a single known case of a native Bulgarian Muslim joining a Middle Eastern extremist group. But that has not stopped the country’s right-wing politicians from advancing one of Europe’s most anti-Muslim agendas”:

Ankara has ignored Iraq’s call for the withdrawal of unauthorized Turkish troops fighting Daesh in violation of Iraqi sovereignty:

“When you are in orbit, there is no country and race” — Iranian space agency chief Mohsen Bahrami: