Archive for March, 2009

News and Analysis (3/21-22/09)

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Imposition of chrony capitalism is resisted by free market-oriented Muslim small businesses:

Officials fear a wave of renewed insurgency as those denied justice by being imprisoned without charge or prohibited from seeing evidence against them are freed:

“Blackwater has ‘created, fostered and refused to curb a culture of lawlessness and unaccountability’ among its employees”:

Israeli police remain so committed to upholding their ” ban on Palestinian political activity in Jerusalem” that soldiers popped red, white, black, and green balloons planned for release at a Catholic school:

Unlike the Shi`a mujtahids in Iran, the religious establishment of Egypt rejects sexual reassignment surgery:

Ayatollah Khamenei holds his position that real change, not mere appeals for dialogue is the prerequisite for American/ Iranian negotiations:

News and Analysis (3/20/09)

Friday, March 20th, 2009

“”If proved, the soldiers’ testimonies could contribute to war crimes charges,” but Falk doubts it because of the “pervasive double standard with respect to the implementation of international criminal law”:

Records show Jews had only rented, never bought the property:

National controversy over a policewoman’s right to wear her hijab has grown support for the Progress Party, which propagates fears of “sneak Islamization”:

Iraq’s political landscape is rapidly changing in anticipation of parliamentary elections scheduled later this year:

Coinciding with the Iranian new year, Obama’s message for Iran is in stark contrast to  Bush’s label as of the three members of the “axis of evil”:

Obama hopes to curb Taliban influence with an emphasis on local leadership rather than the country’s central government:

Further challenging the ineffectiveness of escalating drone attacks across Pakistan:

Government eviction highlights the overall status of Egypt’s impoverished:

News and Analysis (3/19/09)

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Detentions including MPs appear to be an Israeli attempt to pressure Hamas after the failure of recent efforts to win the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit …

… Meanwhile, IDF combat pilots and infantry soldiers confess to the brutality encouraged during the invasion of Gaza:

The political scene in Pakistan remains chaotic as Zadari is viewed as “mostly silent and invisible” in response to the opposition uprising:

Women use the Internet, helping to avoid censorship issues, to fight for equality in Egypt:

To encourage more development, foreign companies might own up to 75% of new ventures to develop oil and gas production:

Obama plans to supplement the troop surge with an increase of civilian workers and a “continued emphasis on rule-of-law issues and combating the narcotics trade”:

Dismissing parliament for the second time in a year, Sheikh Sabah justifies his actions, “Parliament has rights, but they come with responsibilities. Democracy is a tool, not a goal in itself”:

News and Analysis (3/18/09)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Olmert refused to allow the prisoners to return home, demanding they either remain in Gaza or be illegally deported:

Reconciliation meetings stall and negotiations are now in the hands of the Higher Committee:

How long will Pakistan remain an ally if the US keeps expanding the conflict zone:

With violence at its highest levels since the 2001 invasion,

Justice Department prosecutors are seeking to further detain Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri while he awaits trial on charges of conspiracy and material support of terrorism:

Zardari could not count on the military to suppress the demonstrators or unqualified support from the US:

Lieberman, “who out-Sharons even Ariel Sharon”, would be appointed foreign minister if Netanyahu succeeds in forming a coalition government:

News and Analysis (3/17/09)

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

A victory for democracy may spell disaster for Obama’s war in Afghanistan:

In light of the report, Obama should hold to his word to back the prosecution of officials involved in “clear instances of wrongdoing”:

Drones are cheaper than traditional warfare for the same reason a robo-vac is cheaper than a cleaning crew, but robo-vacs don’t cause civilian casualties:

Parties agree to hold joint presidential and legislative elections by January 25, 2010:

Ahmed Abu Haiba offers an alternative to the mainstream music videos he describes as haram and do not represent the Arab world’s cultural values:

“I’m pulling out of the election on the basis of a moral obligation and to avoid scattering the votes so that … change and improvement will be more easily achieved and with less cost”

News and Analysis (3/16/09)

Monday, March 16th, 2009

All judges deposed by Musharraf were ordered to be reinstated, and all lawyers and political activists arrested over the past week are to be freed immediately:

Obama encouraged to open negotiations with Hamas in a letter signed by nine former senior US officials and his current economic recovery adviser:

However you rationalize Bashir’s strategy, the refugees will suffer the most:

Concerns over the logistics, security risks complicate the first round of talks between the US and EU on the resettling of Guantanamo prisoners schedule for today:

Even choosing to store the military equipment poses concerns as most Arab citizens oppose a large U.S. presence on their territory:

Fareed Zakaria interviews Charles Freeman on the controversy over his reasons for withdrawing from his nomination to the NIC:

Thinking Through a U.S. Strategy Toward Gaza

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

On March 3rd something that is (to my knowledge) unprecedented happened in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. A standing room only crowd of over 130 persons heard actual Congressmen (not just outsiders given a platform by Congressmen) objectively discuss the devastation recently visited upon Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces.

It began with an excerpt from a video about the Congressmen’s visit to Gaza that showed what was left of a day-care center. Although not much more than rubble, the center was host to an art exhibit that the staff insisted on mounting after its destruction because it was a center of life. There were also interviews with the staff of a hospital who, although their homes are only an 18-minute drive away, must go through an at least 90-minute (each way) check point every working day.

There was also a grocery store in Jaballia camp in which there were items on shelves thanks to the infamous tunnels. Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) argued that it would be better to open the crossings where freight would be checked.

One must understand that none of the speakers blamed Israel for what happened. Indeed, all who spoke strongly emphasized that they were not taking sides and mentioned the anxieties that militants in Gaza have imposed on Israel with their rocket attacks. Nonetheless, when most in Congress and the mainstream media are in a state of denial about the humanitarian crisis, the fact that these few stood up to show pictures of bombed schools and displaced civilians indicates that there is change in the air and that the time for the Palestinian narrative to complement the other one that has monopolized the discourse in America is timely.

Ellison insisted that his call for opening the crossings, which he said was the only message he had to offer, would enhance Israeli security as well as alleviate the humanitarian crisis. He said that at no time did they hear any anti-American talk, nor anti-Israeli or pro-Hamas comments (although that may have been due to the fact that their visit was for only one day). Ellison noted that without a dedicated constituency, Gazans can expect no action. He noted that there is well-organized Israeli lobby and a somewhat less well-organized Palestinian lobby, but no peace lobby.

Brian Baird (D-WA) said that the original intention of the Congressional visit was for him and Ellison to speak on Islam in the West. Now, he said, the challenge is to be honest about what they have seen without being accused of taking sides. He felt that what has been done in the last couple of months gives people there hope, but that money is not sufficient. Neither the rockets nor the invasion has moved things forward; neither has advanced the prosperity or security of the people there.

Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ) says he never feared for his safety and he never met anyone looking for a fight. He said he found only friendly children and people who wanted to get on with their lives. He expressed the view that letting aid go only through tunnels has not stopped the rockets and not advanced communication between the parties to the conflict, but only enriched outlaws. Holt mentioned seeing a science book at an American school there shredded by the bombings and Baird recalled a book about baseball that mentioned Jackie Robinson’s successful struggle against racism.

The respondent was Daniel Levy, Director of the Middle East Task Force of the New America Foundation. He remarked that the Congressmen had done a service for America’s public diplomacy by restoring hope. He thanked them for resisting playing the blame game and noted that the arbitrary definition of “basic food and medicine” that is now allowed at the Rafha crossing excludes toothpaste, building materials and item arbitrarily labeled ‘luxuries.’ Banknotes are not allowed in. Even when credit is deposited to a bank it can’t be withdrawn because there is no physical currency. He said these are collective sanctions rather than targeted sanctions. He concluded that to resolve the issue there needs to be a deal on Gilad Shalit, the crossings must be opened, and a cease fire accepted. What must not happen, he said, is to continue to hold the entire population hostage. The theory that deprivation of Gaza will cause them to overthrow Hamas has been disproven.

Levy explained that in 2005 there was an agreement that the Rafah crossing would not be used for commerce, and all commerce would go through the five Israeli crossings, but those crossings are now closed. Although 200 trucks now pass through Rafa, the minimal aid requirement is 500 trucks. Baird added that the crossing best equipped to screen trucks for contraband is not open.

In response to reporter Sally Quinn’s allegations of fears by “Arab and Muslim leaders” that Hamas will steal any aid and her inquiry as to whether Gazans are angry at or supportive of Hamas, Ellison replied that Gazans are focused on their survival. Baird added that there was a lot of discussion of long-term psychological effects on children and that they had heard at the Islamic Conference that if we don’t proactively reward moderates extremism will flourish. Because of the frequency of allegations of a “hate filled curriculum,” he asked the children about their attitudes toward the U.S. and got typical kid answers. Levy added that we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact the Fatah position was that by working with the U.S. and Israel they would deliver a Palestinian state; all these years after the handshake on the White House lawn that has become a tough promise to sell. There is a recognition now that Hamas is part of the landscape like it or not.

In response to a question from a reporter from Al Jazeera as to whether the trip and program signaled a real shift in American policy, Baird replied that “you can criticize a friend and still be a friend.” He feels that many in Congress would like resolutions to be more measured and nuanced. Ellison noted that in Israel it is okay to talk about these things; it is only in Washington that politicians fear derision for stating the obvious.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute (more…)

News and Analysis (3/14-15/09)

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

American protester Derek Anderson remains in critical condition as witnesses accuse the Israeli army of “firing the canisters directly at protesters… using the hard plastic-coated metal tubes as a weapon”:

The opposition’s only demand is that Zardari fulfill the promises he made to restore the judges:

The US strategy of pressuring Iran with economic sanctions just became much more difficult:

An interesting question posed: What is the extend of Obama’s authority in Arab-Israeli issues:

As the effectiveness of the United States military comes into question:

Saud Usman Nasution defends the the Indonesian anti-terrorism police and its policy of rehabilitation and re-education:

Where does the menace of stray dogs rank among Baghdad’s infrastructure problems?

News and Analysis (3/13/09)

Friday, March 13th, 2009

As the opposition remains committed to holding peaceful rallies protesting the “dictatorial behavior” of President Asif Ali Zardar…

…many fear the army will yet again  oust the civilian government if the conflict persists:

Hamas denies responsibility for the recent rocket fire as the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights raised the death toll to 1,434 Palestinians including 960 civilians:

Hindering Obama’s promise for peace and substantial change in the Middle East, US has shown no interest in negotiating with Hezbollah or Hamas:

Broadcasting news, talk shows, religious programming and music, Radio Khyber offers forum providing local news and promoting local culture:

Amnesty International says, “Iraq’s creaking judicial system is simply unable to guarantee fair trials in ordinary criminal cases, and even less so in capital cases”:

News and Analysis (3/12/09)

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

In a poll 62% of Iraqis believe Zaidi is a hero and 24% that his actions are criminal — perhaps both are true:

“[W]hen America began its occupation, bombings with half the casualties of Tuesday’s suggested the United States might not prevail. Today, when America and its Iraqi allies seem to be winning, the attack failed to make the front page of the government newspaper”:

Long suffering from the conceit that the religion of Islam belongs to them, some Malays now want to prevent non-Muslim countrymen from using the Malay (originally Arabic) name of the God of Abraham:

A red flag in the protection of freedom of speech:

“It was ‘a fairly major black mark’ for any country to be targeted  in such a report” – Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the UN:

Mirroring what the US could be achieving in Afghanistan, Sharif Ahmed hopes to promote reconciliation through compromise:

Its not difficult to imagine why freed Guantanamo inmates would choose to take up arms again: