Archive for August, 2007

News and Analysis (8/20/07)

Monday, August 20th, 2007

Action doesn’t match rhetoric and the Bush administration sinks its own democracy promotion agenda by opting for military adventurism in Iraq and support for local dictators over civil society activists:

Iraq’s political leadership takes another big hit as the second provincial leader is assassinated in nine days:

Palestinian children see the effects of the occupation in their daily life, they don’t need reminders planted into their television programing:

As AKP Presidential candidate Abdullah Gul begins his bid for power again and analysts predict his victory in the third round of voting, the military’s opposition to his candidacy remains:

Fear and racism toward Muslims on the rise in Britain:

News and Analysis (8/18-19/07)

Sunday, August 19th, 2007

Seeing that its not safe for children to go to school and learn in their own country, Iraqi children are now attending classes in Jordan, but at the cost of overwhelming their host country’s education system:

“It is not possible… to stabilize Iraq and at the same time destabilize Iran.”

Dictator in Muslim-majority Maldives wins national referendum to create Presidential democracy, causing skepticism among some about the meaning of the elections:

New York Times magazine takes a look at issues of faith and its relationship to liberal democracy among the three Abrahamic faiths:

Months after Thailand’s military coup it is not ready to put forth a new constitution, however language problems of understanding the text and fears of violence will complicate the upcoming referendum:

News and Analysis (8/17/07)

Friday, August 17th, 2007

Conviction of Jose Padilla proves that due process is not an impediment to trial of alleged terrorists, while a Washington Post editorial slams the Bush administration for taking so long to grant him his due process rights

Iraq forms a new political alliance–but without any Sunnis:

After multi-billion dollar deals with regional Arab states US pushes further militarization of the Middle East, signing a deal giving a 20% increase in military aid to Israel:

Seeking to put forth a better image after taking a hit from poor policies, US tries e-charm offensive with former baseball star targeting toward Muslim youth:

Occupation, Nation-building, Fighting Terrorists and NATO

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Here are my answers to some questions posed by Fars Press, an Iranian news agency in Iran.

Q. What is NATO’s function to bring stable and security to Afganistan, and as we see Afganistan is unstable and insecure and also the Taliban threat has increased, how do you evaluate it?

A. Lord Ismay, NATO’s first secretary general wisecracked that the function of NATO was “to keep the Americans in Europe, the Russians out, and the Germans down.” With the fall of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization needed a new purpose. The Neoconservatives who recently have dominated American foreign policy were quick to see the organization as a potential tool for intervention in the Muslim world–despite the fact that neither Iraq nor Afghanistan (nor Bosnia which formed the precedent for this expansion of the NATO mission) are anywhere near the “North Atlantic.” Has the mission changed to one of keeping the Americans in the Muslim world, the jihadis out and the Muslims down? If so, the policy seems to be failing on the second point because al-Qaida is now in Iraq and in Pakistan, the Taliban seem to have obtained a new life in Afghanistan, and the occupation of Iraq, while keeping the Muslims down, has encouraged extremists to replace a long-standing coexistence between Sunnis and Shias in Iraq with a sectarian warfare exceeding anywhere else in the Muslim world.

Q. Given that one excuse to enter Iraq and Afganistan was to suppress terrorism, how do you see the occupation functioning in Iraq and Afganistan?

A. Terrorism in both Iraq and Afghanistan have increased. More to the point, the argument that fighting the terrorists there keeps them out of the West has been proven false by the bombings in London and Madrid. The occupation of Iraq has threatened the unity of Iraq and the occupation of Afghanistan has threatened the integrity of Pakistan. Pursuing the terrorists in Afghanistan made logical sense, but the pursuit, capture and punishment of those responsible for the 9-11 attacks on America got lost in the heat of “nation-building” with the consequence that the criminals who declared war on America remain at large while a new wave of enemies has been cultivated. Invading Iraq was a gratuitous act with no credible connection to 9-11 that, apart from the benefits accrued to the Kurds by their current autonomy, has been an unmitigated disaster.

Q. As you know, the US and UK are facing terrorism problems in their country. Did they come to Iraq to solve this problem?

A. The Bush administration does not tire of asserting that they are fighting the terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan so they won’t have to fight them here, yet the justice department has claimed to have foiled terrorist plots in the United States. The fact that such plots, if real, are probably not under the direction of al-Qaida, is not a sign of success of a war against al-Qaida, but of the fact that al-Qaida made a strategic decision not to attack the United States in the short term. According to social scientist Robert Pape, “an actual al-Qaeda planning document found by Norwegian intelligence … says that al-Qaeda should not try to attack the continent of the United States in the short term but instead should focus its energies on hitting America’s allies in order to try to split the coalition. … [After analyzing] whether they should hit Britain, Poland, or Spain. It concludes that they should hit Spain just before the March 2004 elections because, and I am quoting almost verbatim: Spain could not withstand two, maximum three, blows before withdrawing from the coalition, and then others would fall like dominoes.” (http://www.amconmag.com/2005_07_18/article.html). The implication is that the terrorists seek to use the short-term to take advantage of the increasing resentment of the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan to garner recruit new recruits for their war against America, whom they call “the far enemy.” If they fail it will not be because America is occupying those countries–the occupation does help the terrorists to recruit from the angry and alienated populations–but rather because the terrorists’ own brutality is just as effective at alienating the locals who will strategically choose to cooperate with Westerners to rid themselves of these other foreigners without altering in their intention to resume the resistance once they have disposed of the hirabi Muslim interventionists.
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad

Minaret of Freedom Institute

minaret.org

News and Analysis (8/16/07)

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

Bush administration intends to go ahead with plan to put “Big Brother in the sky”:

Violent disintegration of Iraq ravages people of all faiths, not just Muslims:

Bush administration sought special terrorist designation against Iranian government paramilitary apparatus after seeing that others are not willing to be stampeded onto the war path:

In spite of alarmist report on American Muslims and radicalization from NYPD, prominent terror analyst finds that “America’s Muslim population may be less susceptible than Europe’s Muslim population, if not entirely immune to jihadist ideology”

American Muslim legal organizations fight back against “un-indicted co-conspirator” smear job:

Professor at Naval Postgraduate School compares ongoing events in Iraq to experiences in Northern Ireland and sees a long and bloody confrontation ahead:

Christian Science Monitor argues that when it comes to issues of religion in foreign policy, the US just doesn’t get it:

A Glance at the Word “Intifada”

Thursday, August 16th, 2007

by Alejandro Beutel, Minaret of Freedom Institute (minaret.org)

Recently a fellow blogger had given some commentary on our blurb on August 10 citing a news story about an Arab school principal who was forced to resign from her position after coming under scrutiny for wearing a t-shirt that said “Intifada NYC”. This blogger gave his commentary on the story and our blurb of it and proceeded to give an analysis of the word citing a wikipedia article.

While his citation to the Wikipedia article is correct, he missed the wiktionary entry, which validates the Principal’s definition of the word as “a shaking off”.

However, this was not the only part of his analysis that I felt needed further clarification. My main focus is that he also grossly mischaracterized intifada as “violent radical Islamic nationalism”. A little more research would provide better context into the matter.

An intifada is not necessarily violent nor is it “Islamic” per se. In fact the term is quite secular and there are Palestinian Christians, for instance who support the intifada as well as Lebanese Christians who were involved in their own (peaceful) intifada. In fact, along with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, one of the most prominent hardline and violent opponents to Arafat’s agreement to the 1993 Oslo accords was George Habash, a Greek Orthodox Christian, the founder and leader of the militant PFLP.

Nor is the intifada automatically violent either. In fact, the first Palestinian intifada in 1987 was mostly non-violent. Furthermore, there have been calls for a peaceful Palestinian intifada coming from both Muslims and Christians, however they have been undermined by Israel’s occupation, which if not directly attacking peaceful protesters, then agent provocateurs are employed at peaceful demonstrations.

Hopefully this will provide extra insight into the political, (non) religious, historical and etymological significance and meaning of “intifada.”

Fatah’s “Spiritual” Opposition to Hamas

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Here is a remarkable development. According to an article in the Chrsitian Science Monitor (“West Bank Scholars Push for Spiritual Reply to Hamas Extremism”), Muslim supporters of Fatah like Shaikh Sad Sharaf of Al Rawda College have engaged in ideological confrontation with Hamas on religious grounds and lobby for the creation of a spiritual association attached to the nationalist movement.

 

That the Palestinian nationalist movement is finally waking up to the fact that religion cannot and should not be ignored is a welcome development. That spiritually minded Palestinians from the mainstream are interested in combating deviant claims such as that religion advocates the slaughter of civilians is more than welcome. Even the desire to remove religious misunderstandings and distortions that have been marshaled to prevent negotiation over land issues should be considered a positive development. Hamas’s insistence that all Palestinian land is a trust for the Muslim people is as incorrect and unjust as the Israeli claim that all the land is a trust for the Jewish people.

 

Nonetheless, there are two aspects of this development that prevent me from jumping up and down with optimism. (1) Why do the advocates of this new development feel they must misrepresent Hamas’s position to advance their cause? (2) Are we the only ones disturbed by certain extreme statements made by the so-called “moderates?”

 

The Christian Science Monitor article correctly states, “Hamas’s rise has coincided with growing disillusionment with the secular ideologies that dominated the Palestinian national movement starting in the 1950s.”  It notes that Shaikh Sharaf “criticizes Hamas’s advocacy of violence against Israeli civilians.” Excellent. So does any Muslim who obeys the commandments of the Qur’an. Arguments like this will not only win over the “swing votes” among Palestinian Muslims, but would impact even those Hamas members who sincerely wish to live a good Islamic life. But then Sharaf goes on to criticize the Hamas takeover of Gaza. This seems disingenuous. Both Hamas and Fatah were equally responsible for the violence that ended in the Hamas victory. It was Hamas that, even while victorious, insisted it did not wish to separate from the Palestinian Authority and wished to remain in a power sharing arrangement with Fatah. It was Fatah that scorned this offer in order to court the cynical and largely illusory backing of the U.S. and Israel.

 

But this is the least of the problems with this new development. After all, political partisans always engage in that kind of distortion against each other: look at the smears between the Republicans and the Democrats in the United States. The real problem is that Sharaf, the “moderate” calls for “the creation of one Islamic kingdom as laid out in the Koran (sic).” When we actually take the trouble to read the Qur’an, however, we find this choice characterization of kings in the mouth of the Queen of Sheba: “Kings when they enter a country despoil it and make the noblest of its people its meanest: thus do they behave” (27:34).

 

The closing sentence of the article quotes Sharaf as saying, “Let’s return to the caliphate.” Advancing this ambition as an example of moderation demonstrates a lack of familiarity with the text of the Qur’an. The word “khalifa” is NEVER used to mean a king. In every single instance in the Qur’an it refers to the office God has bestowed on mankind, every male and every female, to be the vicegerent of God, God’s steward on the earth.

 

“Behold thy Lord said to the angels: ‘I will create a vicegerent on earth.’  They said “Wilt thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?  Whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?’  He said: ‘I know what ye know not.’” (2:30).

 

The Qur’an is warning us against those who like the kings who despoil the country and demean the noblest of its people will shed blood and spread mischief on the earth, whether in the name of religion, moderation, or democracy.

A Plea for a Consistent Definition of Terrorism

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

It is interesting that the US would add the Iranian “Revolutionary Guard Corps” (RGC, Iranian Unit to Be Labeled ‘Terrorist’, Washington Post) since branding a national group like the RGC as terrorist goes against the definition in U.S. law (U.S. Code Title 22, Ch.38, Para. 2656f(d)(2)): “the term ‘terrorism’ means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents.” The restriction of the designation to exclude national groups had placed acts of American allies such as Saddam Hussein’s gassing of the Kurds and the Israeli destruction of Palestinian homes outside the definition of terrorism. That the RGC is a national rather than sub-national group doesn’t seem to bother the Bush administration and I don’t think the RGC is any more a clandestine agency that Saddam’s troops or the Israeli Defense Forces. Clearly the administration is motivated by its desire to go after the RGC’s financial network. Perhaps it’s time to amend Title 22 to include all politically motivated acts of violence against noncombatants, even by our allies.

Here’s my nominee for a definition of political terrorism: “the term ‘terrorism’ means premeditated violence perpetrated against noncombatant civilian targets in order to create a climate of terror to advance their political aims.” It makes no distinction between state terrorism and non-state terrorism.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.

Minaret of Freedom Institute

minaret.org

News and Analysis (8/15/07)

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

“One of America’s strengths in this war lies in being able to rally other nations to its side by upholding universal principles. That same strength also weakens terrorists. The jury may well find Padilla guilty, but it may also see the injustice done in his case, and decide otherwise. Victory in war is sometimes a victory simply for the rule of law.” – Christian Monitor Editorial on the Jose Padilla case

Despite some changes to the TSA’s terrorism-watch list, skeptics still see the program as an both ineffective and an invasion of privacy; a Washington Post editorial also argues that a practical balance between extreme secrecy for the sake of security and respect for civil liberties should be upheld when ruling on the NSA wiretapping:

US will add powerful Iranian “Revolutionary Guard Corps” to its list of terrorist organizations in order to go after its financial network, however some analysts fear this will further undermine ongoing talks with Tehran:

Middle East expert Juan Cole analyzes the recent deaths of over 200 Kurdish Yazidis as the beginning of a major territory war between Sunnis and Kurds and provides a compilation and analysis of other major events in Iraq:

Noting change in Mu’ammar Qaddafi’s ideology and engagement with Western states, one international relations expert sees this shift as an opportunity for rapprochement and creating a potential alliance in the War on Terrorism:

The benefits of economic liberty provides catalyst for incremental, but important social and political reforms in Saudi Arabia:

News and Analysis (8/14/07)

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

Re-nomination of Abdullah Gul for Turkey’s President re-ignites bitter debate between the Islamic-oriented AKP and its secular rivals:

Human Rights Watch report slams all sides in Somali conflict and alleges government soldiers and Ethiopian allies intentionally bombed civilian neighborhoods in Mogadishu to eliminate insurgents:

In spite of economic incentives, or lack thereof, issues of corruption and the rule of law are the pivotal factors behind Hamas’ high optimism in Gaza and Fatah’s lackluster morale in the West Bank…

…meanwhile Hamas continues to leave itself open to dialogue with Western countries even in spite of current economic embargoes against it:

As Pakistan celebrates its 60th Anniversary, politicians and analysts reflect on the current dangerous state of affairs the Islamic Republic faces and a Bengali anthropologist sees the 1947 India/Pakistan partition as laying the groundwork for three, not two states:

As the trial for Jose Padilla et al. comes to a close, while the prosecution paints him as a “star recruit” for Al-Qaeda, the defense charges that the allegations laid against him are “politically motivated”: