Archive for May, 2008

News and Analysis (5/17-18/08)

Sunday, May 18th, 2008

Hezbollah’s recent tour de force in Beirut has helped reignite political talks in its favor…

…however, its victory comes at a very high price, as sectarian flames re-ignite with a new intensity:

Egypt’s civic movements seek to gain steam going digital, but Cairo’s Leviathan state is there ready to crackdown:

Economic concerns in the Middle East provide traction for Islamists to gain further ground at the grassroots level and in the ballot box:

Part of a larger counterterrorism strategy with Taliban militants, Pakistan secures the release of its ambassador after three months of capture…

… meanwhile, Pakistan’s lawyer movement aims to ratchet up the pressure after disappointment with politicians’ failure to restore the judges:

News and Analysis (5/16/08)

Friday, May 16th, 2008

As Palestinians commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Nakba through marches, flying black balloons and other events…

…Bin Laden seeks to exploit Palestinian suffering to benefit his criminal group…

…but US Muslims and Jews are not taking the bait, instead making interfaith outreach to each other:

Lebanese factions involved in recent fighting head to talks in Qatar to bring the country back from the brink of civil war:

Military reporter Joe Galloway slams the Bush administration for “turn[ing] a propaganda machine loose on the American people”:

Ahmedinejad continues to shoot himself in foot with more controversy over his mismanagement of Iran’s economy and 9th sacking of a cabinet member since taking office in 2005:

The US military is forced to scale back much of its new ambitious military command in Africa after facing strong resistance from African countries viewing the program as “a neocolonalist move to secure US oil interests”:

News and Analysis (5/15/08)

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Abducted Italian imam gives testimony over his experience of being kidnapped by the CIA and sent to Egypt for torture:

Lebanese government officials rescind earlier moves that sparked recent violence, but deeper issues surrounding electoral reform, Hezbollah weaponry and a new president still need to be tackled:

In commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Nakba Hamas representative Naeem Bassem condemns the Nazi holocaust and Zionist exploitation of it to justify the occupation of Palestinian lands:

Despite Thomas Fingar’s reforms to shield intelligence analysts from political manipulation and boost analytic performance, reflected in the recent Iran NIE report’s findings, Bush hardliners remain dissatisfied:

The US continues its policy of ham-fisted missile strike assassinations against suspected terrorists in Pakistan despite the new government’s request to halt the policy:

Analysts speculate recent bombing in Indian city are likely motivated by an attempt to derail Indian-Pakistani peace talks and exploit local Muslim grievances:

News and Analysis (5/14/08)

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

As charges are dropped against alleged “20th hijacker” Mohammed al-Qahtani due to flawed evidence based on torture…

…commentators say the cases of al-Qahtani and suicide bomber Abdullah al-Ajmi show Gitmo’s torture regime is immoral, ineffective and counterproductive:

US officials spin Iranian involvement in Iraqi peace deal as an attempt to stop arming militias, despite a lack of evidence showing Tehran’s complicity:

Pakistan forces withdraw from area where nationalist militants fight for political autonomy and control over their own economic resources…

…meanwhile Asif Zardari gets cleared of another corruption case the day after his suspicious footdragging over judge restoration leads to a split in Pakistan’s coalition government:

News and Analysis (5/13/08)

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Police crackdown on terrorist organization reveals thwarts a plot by “deep state” extremists “of creating an atmosphere of chaos and laying the groundwork for a coup by Turkey’s army”:

Nawaz Sharif’s supporters withdraw from the fledging coalition government due to persistent disagreements over restoring deposed judges:

Analysts say arrests like Hasan Turabi’s, following the recent attack on Khartoum are likely to be the norm until at least next year’s elections:

Egypt’s noose around cyber dissent tightens as it blocks access to opposition movement Kifaya’s website:

Moderate Mauritanian Islamists form a small part of the democratically elected government for the first time:

What’s Islamic about “Islamic terrorism?” House Republicans fail in attempt to suppress U.S. National Counter-Terrorism Center’s guidelines against abusing religious terminology in labeling  terrorists:

Fashion students use their creative skills to make abayas stylish while still modest:

News and Analysis (5/12/08)

Monday, May 12th, 2008

More indefinite detentions and domestic spying continue to erode liberties and national security:

Pakistan experts say US should focus less on military solutions and shed ties to Musharraf to adapt to new changes in Islamabad’s policies:

While a tense calm presides over Beirut, the deaths from fighting in other parts of Lebanon continue to mount:

Analysts speculate the assault on Khartoum by Darfurian militants is about challenging government authority and Chad’s payback for an earlier assault on its capital by Sudanese-supported militias:

Indonesia’s President unveils a new plan to spur economic growth through encouragement of private sector investment:

Iran seeks to snub effects of Western sanctions through a quixotic approach of inefficiently developing its own oil fields without financial investment or technological ability:

News and Analysis (5/10-11/08)

Sunday, May 11th, 2008

Gitmo’s parallel legal system comes under attack again after a military judge disqualifies a top Pentagon lawyer from further participation in the process due to pushing prosecutors “to use evidence under coercive interrogations”:

Whistleblowers reveal a memo showing Scott Bloch, head of the Office of Special Counsel, inverting the agency’s mission by retaliating against people for political purposes:

Tensions in Lebanon remain high as fighting continues in other parts of the country despite Hezbollah withdrawal from West Beirut:

Sudan ends its relations with Chad after accusing it of training militants involved in a failed attack on Khartoum:

Pakistan’s “little Switzerland” sees a reprieve from violence as local Taliban militants sign a truce and agree to enter into peace talks…

…meanwhile talks among coalition parties on judge restoration remain deadlocked:

News and Analysis (5/9/08)

Friday, May 9th, 2008

Lebanon once more teeters on the brink of a civil war as Hezbollah takes over pro-government sections of West Beirut:

More Islamophobia at play in the US presidential elections:

Despite the initial waves made from the NY Times story about deliberate Iraq war disinformation, media outlets largely ignore it:

Pakistan voices strong opposition to Gen. Jay Hood, former head of Guantanamo Bay prison, being top US military envoy to Islamabad…

…meanwhile, contradictory deals among various factions, with Asif Zardari at the center, led to general agreement of judge restoration, but not on their powers:

Saudi female b-ball players hit the court despite the cultural restrictions thrown at them:

Maryland court rules that Islamic procedures for divorce are not legally valid in the US because they lack “due process”:

News and Analysis (5/8/08)

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Former defense lawyer for ex-Gitmo prisoner alleges that the lack of a fair legal hearing and exposure to torture led to Abdallah Salih al-Ajmi to terrorism:

“Landmark ruling” in Malaysia upholds ethnic Chinese woman’s Qur’anic and Prophetic rights to leave Islam:

Using Bill Cosby as their template, American Muslim filmmakers use the Internet’s power to depict themselves as ordinary while humorously identifying with other Muslims:

In a rare legal success, civil liberties groups successfully fight off another FBI abuse of national security letters:

PM Gordon Brown uses electoral fear-mongering and politicization of a top Scotland Yard counterterrorism official to push for more Big Brother powers:

Columnist Dan Froomkin opines that the latest buzz about Bush torture officials being subpoenaed to testify before Congress will not lead to greater accountability:

Delays over restoration of deposed judges and parliamentary elections strain the new Pakistani government’s popular credibility:

Sixty Years of American Support for Israel: Costs and Benefits

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Farspress send me some questions occasioned by the sixtieth anniversary of the state of Israel. Here are my answers.

Q. Given the damage the image of the West has suffered in the Muslim world by its support of Israel, what are the West’s achievements ?

A. While few Muslims would agree that the achievements are worth the costs, the main successes achieved by recent Western intervention into Middle East affairs are the end of Serbian atrocities against the Muslims and Croats, the restoration of relations with Libya and the removal of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban from power. However, the first two could have been achieved without support for Israel and the relations were bad with Libya mainly because of America’s support for Israel. The removal of Saddam was primarily motivated by concerns about his threat to Israel’s security by Richard Perle and his comrades and America’s attack on the Taliban after years of ignoring their excesses was triggered by the 9-11 attacks for which Usama bin Ladin had posited American support of Israel as one of the three main justifications.

Q. What are the costs and benefits due to the support of Israel?

A. Beyond at least three billion dollars per year in direct aid (which does not include indirect and covert aid), the costs of American support for Israel has been high oil prices, a weak currency, bad relations with the Arab and Muslim world, the escalation of food costs (partly due to the diversion of agricultural resources in to biofuels), the erosion of civil liberties for the American people, and the loss of an enormous number of American, Arab, Israeli, and other lives. The only profit has been political support for the politicians who have put Israeli interests above those of the United States and the windfall profit the high oil prices have provided to the oil industry.

Q. What do you think of claims that Israel is the main cause of instability and insecurity in the region?

A. There are many causes of instability and insecurity in the region, and observers differ on their relative importance. However, Israel plays a contributing factor in a number of them. For example, the oppressive regimes in the Middle East often use Israel as a bogeyman to resist democratic, liberal, or Islamic reform. In the end I think one can say that Israel is the single greatest source of instability in the region.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad
Minaret of Freedom Institute
www.minaret.org