Archive for June, 2007

News and Analysis (6/29/07)

Friday, June 29th, 2007

Ethiopian opposition slams Prime Minister for Iraq-like military intervention and internationally respected Somali civil society leader’s office raided by transitional government:

Habeas corpus and the rule of law score small victory as Gitmo detainees will have hearings in civilian appeals courts, not kangaroo military commissions:

Government cracks down on reporting and protests over gasoline ration plan in Iran:

Largest Sunni bloc in Iraqi parliament boycotts government meetings over legal action against one of its ministers:

Angred by a slow response from the state, villagers mob local mayor’s office:

News and Analysis (6/28/07)

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

Religious Muslim charities and individuals come under increased scrutiny from Fatah due to alleged affiliations with Hamas:

Although in control of key positions within the military, support for Musharraf is gradually slipping among soldiers due to civilian discontent and rising violence and instability from pro-Taliban factions:

Judiciary committee slaps the White House with a subpoena, ordering it to hand over relevant information in investigation of NSA domestic spying:

Review of tapped phone calls show Jose Padilla as a lazy and bumbling fool, not exactly the motivated ideologue terrorist organizations want to recruit:

Rather than making substantive policy changes Bush administration announces creation of “special envoy” to the toothless Organization of Islamic Conference:

In landmark polygamy case, Muslim scholars in Indonesia affirm monogamy as the norm in Islam, says polygamy is “not a basic right” and only allowed under very limited circumstances:

News and Analysis (6/27/07)

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Under a Freedom of Information Act request, the CIA partially discloses past misdeeds that similarly resonate today:

Letters from human rights and civil liberties lawyers slam earlier op-ed by Air Force official attempting to whitewash record of detainees’ treatment at Gitmo:

“Ultimately the question is: Who gets to rule? Sixteen generals or 160 million people? Sooner or later we have to decide that once and for all.”- Zarfarullah Khan, Pakistani lawyer and opposition figure

Prosecutors in Padilla case show ’97 television interview with Bin Laden; defense claims irrelevant to case and only serves to inflame sentiments of jury over 9/11:

Although constraints on Egypt’s journalist have been relaxed–for now at least–but “[a]ny story, any column can lead to a suit”:

Being a female Afghani journalist is an increasingly difficult job as Taliban rebels seek to quell their voices through threats of violence and assassinations:

The Israeli Prisoner Release: Preparation for War

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Why has Israel decided to release 250 Fatah members, but refuses to release 400 women and children? Especially when the release of the innocent civilians would lead to the release of its own soldier held captive by Hamas? Israel makes contradictory statements about this strange decision. In one sentence Israeli Prime Minister Olmert says the prisoners to be released are innocent of bloodshed, yet must promise to abandon violence: “As a gesture of goodwill toward the Palestinians, I will bring before the Israeli cabinet at its next meeting a proposal to free 250 Fatah prisoners who do not have blood on their hands, after they sign a commitment not to return to violence.” (What were they doing? Blowing up empty buildings?)

 

Is Israel asking them not commit violence against Hamas? Then instead of asking potential militants that Fatah can turn loose against Hamas, it should release noncombatants who would be of no help to Fatah in a war against Hamas. The answer seems obvious. Israel only considers violence to be violence when it is directed against Israel. Against Hamas, or Lebanon, or noncombatant Palestinians, (or against Fatah, for that matter—it wasn’t that long ago), it’s not violence.

 

Divide and conquer is a strategy as old as warfare itself, so one cannot fault the Israelis for employing it. (Look how easily and effectively it is being used against the Sunnis and Shi`a in Iraq!) However, one can, and should, fault the Palestinians for not seeing through it.

 

I have met Mahmoud Abbas, and he seemed to be reasonably intelligent. Thus, we must ascribe the ease with which he has been manipulated into permitting the internecine warfare among the Palestinians that has taken place on his watch to a lack of leadership on his part. Either he lacks the ability to enable the two main factions of Palestinian political society to work together for their people or has for whatever reason chosen to allow Israel and the Bush administration to take the lead in turning Palestinian violence inward.

 

The root of the problem is that neither Hamas nor Fatah has taken the democratic process seriously enough. When Fatah and Hamas each had been given control over one of the two branches of Palestinian government, both should have worked to protect the turf each had won fair and square. Instead Fatah sent in its security forces to marginalize Hamas and Hamas responded in full force to whup them at their own game. Now the embargo against the West Bank is being lifted while relief to much harder hit Gaza will be limited.

Now, 250 men in fighting condition will be freed to help further fuel the intra-Palestinian dispute, while 400 women and minors continue to languish in prison. We understand why this pleases the Israelis.

 

To give Hamas its due, they have tried to minimize the consequences of their own actions by insisting that they do not wish a rupture in the Palestinian government, that they hold power in Gaza on behalf of the PA, not in rebellion against it. They have offered a general amnesty to those who attacked them. Does Abbas reject this because he fears his religious co-nationals more than those who occupy his country? If he thinks of Hamas as religious fanatics, then why not call their bluff? You don’t have to be a genius to understand that your best chance of dealing with religious fanatics is to invite them to follow their profession. Or has he been bought off with the promise that he can spend all the tax money the Israelis have taken from all the people of Palestine (plus the promised foreign aid) and spend it on his political base in the West Bank without sharing any with the domestic opposition in Gaza? Or, does he understand the situation, but is simply too weak to do anything about it?

 

Whether the explanation lies in fear, greed, or weakness, the Palestinians and the Israelis will not be the only ones to suffer from these latest setbacks on the road to peace and justice. Al-Qaida and other extremists in the Muslim world will gleefully point to yet another failure of democracy in their recruitment campaign. The Neocons and other Islamophobes will gleefully remonstrate that force is the only language that these sub-human Muslims understand, and they will prescribe as medicine more of the poison that brought us to this point: more military intervention in the Muslim world and fewer civil liberties at home.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad

Minaret of Freedom Institute

minaret.org

News and Analysis (6/26/07)

Tuesday, June 26th, 2007

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty report conducts survey of sophisticated Internet propaganda machine of militants, finds slick messaging that is “fast-paced and clearly aimed at the video game generation” but for Iraq’s children the country ongoing violence is no virtual fantasy, creating lasting psychological scars:   

Former heads of the 9/11 Commission argue that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board must be strengthened with subpoena powers, political balance and requires to have its members confirmed by the Senate:   

Commemorating international day of solidarity with victims of torture, local civil society activists in Pakistan raise awareness about its prevalence in spite of national laws prohibiting it:   

News and Analysis (6/25/07)

Monday, June 25th, 2007

Vice President Cheney uses his “thoroughgoing secrecy, persistence of focus, tactical flexibility in service of rigid aims and close knowledge of the power map of government” to consolidate more executive power and block intra-administration efforts to close down Guantanamo and end torture in interrogations:

Iraqi court sentences “Chemical Ali” to death and gives two others life-sentences; justice is little more than “a footnote” to ordinary Iraqis caught up in ongoing civil war:

After clashes between Lebanese army and Fatah Al-Islam continue in Nahr El-Bared, fighting shifts to nearby Tripoli between Islamist militants and local law authorities:

A look at three Muslim Americans serving in the US military:

Afghan President Hamid Karzai slams civilian deaths caused by US/NATO forces, Associated Press body count lists civilian deaths by US/NATO forces higher than Taliban attacks on innocents:

News and Analysis (6/23-24/07)

Sunday, June 24th, 2007

The man behind the curtain: A look into Vice President Cheney’s crucial role in crafting American policies:

Iran moves closer to totalitarianism as state-imposed “cultural revolution” cracks down on “labor leaders, universities, the press, women’s rights advocates, a former nuclear negotiator and Iranian-Americans” out of fear of US-sponsored “regime change”:

Both the New York Times editorial board and a former secret surveillance court judge slam the Bush administration for its erosion of human rights and civil liberties standards at home and abroad in its fight against terrorist networks:

In spite of Hamas’ attempts to maintain a democratic unity government, Fatah ignores call and receives further political and economic support from Israel, Arab and Western states:

“If it bleeds, it leads” an inside look into the military’s spin on the Haditha massacre:

News and Analysis (6/22/07)

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Citing recent GAO report, New York Times editorial slams Bush administration’s disregard for the rule of law as a “formula for autocracy” and calls on Congress to rein in its executive power abuses:

While VP Cheney suggested abolishing oversight unit of National Archives after it objected to VP’s persistent resistance to routine scrutiny…

…the CIA reveals some of its dirty laundry from the 1950s to 1970s, revealing kidnappings, assassination attempts and surveillance of domestic political opposition movements:

Greater media and personal freedom allow Saudis to fight back against abuses of state-imposed and strict interpretation of Islam:

“Some well intended but misguided politicians insist that the balance between law and security must always favor security. But they miss the mark, for there is no balance to be struck. Terror thrives at law’s demise, reveling in its impotence. Law is security; lawlessness invites terror.” – Joseph Margulies, Northwestern University Law Professor

Grand jury abuse continues:

Review of Tariq Ramadan’s new book on Muhammad (PBUH) is a sincere attempt to apply principles from the Prophet’s life to modern social and political challenges for Western Muslims:

News and Analysis (6/21/07)

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

Fatah arrests elected Hamas officials and destroys institutions affiliated with the party in the West Bank, Hamas responds that such actions “could lead to Fatah’s downfall”:

In wake of massive corruption and rising violence, Iraqi Shi’a VP hands in resignation, shows signs of political fraying within community:

Seeing the power of faith in politics, US military strategists prod Iraqi religious leaders to incite hope and reconciliation, not divisiveness:

Transfer of FBI agents to counterterrorism cases from street crime and abuse national security letters makes America less safe and less free:

Former US Ambassador for international religious freedom finds that all of the worlds major faiths must respect and protect each other’s right to freely worship, even in spite of major theological disagreements:

News and Analysis (6/20/07)

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

In the aftermath of the Gaza fighting, ordinary Palestinians and members of Hamas begin the task of removing debris and reconstruction: 

Political advisor to former PM Ismail Haniyeh argues that external attempts to isolate Hamas have backfired and also calls for Palestinian political unity and outside political engagement with Hamas: 

Muslim law enforcement agents in France and an American military chaplain navigate the sensitive relationship between their relationship with their country and their relationship with their faith: