Archive for August, 2013

News and Analysis (8/28/13)

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

Stratfor’s president says the red line on Syria was meant to be a grand gesture, but it has backfired and even if the rebels or a third party are behind the use chemical agents against civilians, unless he “can get overwhelming, indisputable proof that al Assad did not — and that isn’t going to happen — Obama will either have to act on the red line principle or be shown to be one who bluffs” …

… so now despite pleas from the UN, Russia and Syria that the former be allowed to do their job …

… and warnings from various quarters that military intervention, is not only illegal, it hasn’t worked out well in Iraq (and Libya and Afghanistan), and ought to at least wait until we know which side employed the chemical weapons will be an even bigger disaster in Syria …

… the US, seemingly relying on Israeli intelligence and backed British enthusiasm for the West to once again take on the “White Man’s burden,” signals it is ready to plunge into the abyss:

“A military court on Wednesday sentenced Major Nidal Hasan to death for the 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, giving the army psychiatrist a path to the martyrdom he appeared to crave in the attack on unarmed fellow soldiers”:

“The apparent about-turn adds to speculation that the government is beginning to prepare for a possible political settlement to the crisis”

While Saudi Arabia cleans up its act …

… in Pakistan, “revivalist extremism is a deliberate, modern product of 20th century Islamists. Despite being steeped in the ritualistic mechanics of Islam [the brutal wife-killer]  failed to absorb the foundational beliefs central to Islam …

… and despite being steeped in the secularism  of the Enlightenment, French Islamopobes failed to absorb the fundamental ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity:

Following “the announcement the day before that Ansar al-Shariah, the country’s most prominent organization of ultraconservative Muslims known as salafis, was a terrorist organization”, Tunisia “presented evidence, including taped confessions and a document allegedly written by the group’s leader, Seifallah Ben Hassine, pledging allegiance to al-Qaida”:

Can a PR campaign persuade Americans and Europeans that “the slaughter, the ethnic cleansing, the land-grabbing, the cruelty and the blatant disregard for international law and UN resolutions” of Israeli policy are justified by our shared “values with the racist regime in Israel and that its abominable behaviour therefore deserves our support” …

… like an airlift that brings Ethiopians into a state where they are viewed “‘infiltrators’ rather than refugees or asylum seekers”

“The structure of the madrasa does not give the appearance of a building where any training camp could be run – its classrooms are too cramped”, and the school’s administrator insists, “We never received any foreign funding to run this madrasa. Rather, the funds for the students of the madrasa are generated through a soap factory”:

 

News and Analysis (8/26/13)

Monday, August 26th, 2013

With Syrian approval, the UN begins its investigation into which side is responsible for the deadly chemical attack, but the British foreign secretary says that the UK has already made up its mind and it and the U.S. are preparing for war despite the reticence of the American public:

As the army proceeds full-speed ahead on the reversal of the progress towards constitutional government, setting up a constitutional committee, which has proposed scrapping changes made to the constitution under ousted President Mohamed Morsi, and reinstating some Mubarak-era policies …

… the deposed dictator gets a speedy retrial for “the deaths of protesters in the 2011 uprising … [while] Muslim Brotherhood leaders must wait two more months to stand trial” …

… and “the army ousting of Egypt’s Islamist government may have prompted some Libyan radicals to step up violence against secular critics”:

“The ruling said the government failed to tell defense attorneys that the FBI had paid a key prosecution witness, that government agents exceeded the scope of a search warrant on Seda’s computer hard drives and that prosecutors provided an unfair summary of classified information relied on by the government”:

“The Only Motive I Could Think of is that They Wanted to Leverage Anybody in this Country”; if there are an Americans who do not yet realize that the government is deceiving us about the existence, scope, and purpose of the NSA database on American citizens, they need to watch this:

“The criteria used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to blacklist immigrants are overly broad and include traveling through regions where there is terrorist activity, the report said. The criteria disproportionately target Muslim immigrants, who often wait years to get a response on their citizenship applications and in some cases are denied”:

“The lawyer of a man convicted of building and promoting pornographic websites says a death sentence against his client has been converted to life imprisonment”:

“Police shouted at the mob to disperse, but did not take any serious action”:

British Muslims have to prove their patriotism:

News and Analysis (8/23/13)

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

The U.S. wants a U.N. investigation of the most recent chemical weapons accusations in order to protect itself from repeating Bush’s error in Iraq (where yet another 26 people were killed today) and Russia  wants it because it is expects the rebels have fabricated the evidence …

… but even the children who have escaped the carnage of the war cannot escape its consequences …

… and FBI director Robert Mueller fears Americans fighting in Syria may bring the war home with them:

Blaming his murder spree during his fourth deployment on alcohol and other drug abuse, Sgt. Bales is sentenced to life …

… but why wasn’t Maj. Hasan, an American soldier who boasts to having deliberately targeted other American soldiers because he switched sides in a war tried for “treason” rather than “murder”?

In the Qur’an God says “fear them not, but fear Me”; although Mubarak was released on a technicality, the timing of the release makes it symbolic of the of the significance army’s full-force repression that, although it intimidates many, does not intimidate all Egyptians, and thousands continue to go to the streets …

… and “[t]housands of Bahrainis were allowed to march peacefully outside Manama calling for democratic reforms on Friday, 10 days after police cracked down on scattered protests organized by an online group inspired by recent demonstrations in Egypt”:

“We have some female flight attendants. Would you be able to follow their instructions?” Oh, sure, that question would be nowhere near as insulting had it been put to a Muslim passenger; but Jetblue stands by its crew member’s decision to deny the brown-skinned man service:

“Four rockets fired on Thursday caused damage but no casualties in northern Israel. They were claimed by an al Qaeda-linked Sunni Muslim group rather than Hezbollah” but to Israel an Arab is an Arab whether Sunni, Shia, or Christian and a spokesman says it “will not tolerate terrorist aggression originating from Lebanese territory” …

… but to the Lebanese the distinctions are only too clear:

Khalid Asakreh, released in the deal brokered by John Kerry “now supports nonviolent ways of ending Israel’s occupation of the West Bank,” but the man who taught him nonviolence, called Palestine’s Nelson Mandela, continues to languish in an Israeli jail along with thousands of other political prisoners:

With a $5m bounty on his head, the man “accused of masterminding a deadly siege at an Algerian plant in January” has announced the merger of his al-Qaeda linked “Masked Men Brigade and the Mali-based Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa” to “take revenge against France for its military campaign in Mali”:

News and Analysis (8/21/13)

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Egypt’s plans to consider releasing overthrown dictator Hosni Mubarak  even as it prepares its prosecution of both secular politician Mohamed El-Baradei and the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual guide sums up the reversal of the advancement of Egyptian democracy…

… while the Gulf states, cheered by Egypt’s deteriorating Christian-Muslim relations  offer to pick up the slack as the US suspends aid …

… and journalists who cheered when the military that seized power, now face live bullets and accusations of spying:

… and “violence in Sinai has intensified since the toppling of Mr Morsi, suggesting that events in Egypt’s core are closely linked to those in its periphery”:

“An Afghan teenager who survived a rampage by a U.S. soldier who killed 16 unarmed civilians last year testified on Tuesday about the pain of losing his grandmother, at the start of a sentencing trial for the man behind the carnage”:

Syria says accusations of a massive poisonous gas attack are a rebel effort to distract UN investigators from their mission, American reluctance to even limited military intervention is motivated by concern that the rebels would not support U.S. interests, and Syrians in Jordan resort to self-help because international local aid groups are overwhelmed by the crisis:

Amina Sboui attributes her change of heart to Femen chants “insulting to Islam” and to “other ‘Islamophobic’ acts” as well as their “obscure financing”:

“[T]he organisers of ‘hijabuppropet’ urged Justice Minister Beatrice Ask to take measures to ‘ensure that Swedish Muslim women are guaranteed the right to personal safety and religious freedom, without being subject to verbal and physical attacks'”:

“[W]ith rebels blockading key oil ports and the capital, Tripoli, braced for armed confrontation[, l]eaders in the provinces of Cyrenaica and Fezzan are considering breaking away from the centre with rebel militias mobilising across the country”:

“More than 1,800 Rohingya who fled Myanmar by sea this past year are being detained across Thailand, often in overcrowded centers and shelters, and thousands more have been intercepted and pushed back out to sea by the Thai authorities”:

“Israel has already treated the [Gazan] gas fields as its personal property”:

Israeli “price tag” attacks are not restricted to Muslim targets:

News and Analysis (8/19/13)

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Ennahda’s decision came after a rare and previously unannounced private meeting in Paris on Friday between Ghannouchi and Beji Caid Essebsi, a former prime minister and the head of the main opposition … party. … [T]he Tunisian army has no tradition of interfering in politics and also has no parallel business empire to defend”:

Worried about NSA bugging your phone? Be more worried about that cute neighbor boy sleeping over with your kids planting a tracking device for a drone strike. The U.S. denies involvement, but its minions in Yemen trained an 8-year-old boy to plant a tracker on a Yemeni who cared for the youth, “targeted … for what [he] might do”:

After undermining American negotiating efforts and murdering over 80 demonstrators, the Egyptian military has now killed dozens of prisonersdetained foreign citizens,  threatens to ban the Muslim Brotherhood opposition as part of an ironically declared “war on Terrorism” …

… and accuses Europeans that any refusal to continue funding the slaughter would constitute interference in Egypt’s “internal affairs” …

“[A]rmed popular committees have become part of Cairo’s social fabric,” and “with huge numbers either furiously in support of the Muslim Brotherhood or furiously against them, it appears that the committees – or perhaps, plainclothes agents of the state claiming they belong to the committees, or both – are going to play a larger role”:

J.J. Goldberg states the real reason the U.S.  hesitates to end aid to Egypt: “America’s billion-dollar-plus annual aid package to Egypt does not exist for Egypt’s benefit, but for Israel’s. It’s the carrot, or bribe, that keeps Egypt faithful to its peace treaty with Israel, despite its enormous unpopularity on the Egyptian street” …

… and Israel continues its support for their allies in the Egyptian military who continue to fight the front-line battle against their common enemy in SInai:

As the Saudi monarch pledges  $5 billion in aid to drive a stake into the heart of Egyptian democracy …

… “Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has fired the director of an Islamic TV channel for ‘admitting he belongs to the Brotherhood terrorist (sic) movement'”:

“The allegations against my client are no more serious than many, many Saudis who have been sent home…. It just baffles me” — attorney Martha Rayner:

“Relations between Christians and Muslims in the village, which had worsened since Morsi’s election in 2012, grew even more tense as Islamists spread rumors that it was Christians who were behind the protests against Morsi and his ouster by the military on July 3”:

“Washington said in June it believed Assad’s forces have used them on a small scale, while in July Moscow said rebels fired sarin gas near Aleppo in The U.N. team … will try to establish only whether chemical weapons including sarin and other toxic nerve agents were used, not who used them”:

News and Analysis (8/16/13)

Friday, August 16th, 2013

“[T]he coup leaders have undertaken repressive and extra-legal measures against liberties and human rights, including the detention of hundreds of opponents, closing down satellite channels, freezing bank accounts, imposing travel bans, and staging politically motivated trials”  …

… and killing journalists …

… after rejecting an EU-US proposal that had been accepted by the Muslim Brotherhood” …

… and ignoring the hundreds of civilian deaths to dwell on the deaths of handful of storm troopers …

… the Egyptian military, which has cultivated a mythological self-image inspired by the late Korean dictator Kim Il-Sung …

… have embarrassed not only themselves, but the U.S., which still refuses to call a coup a coup even after the regime has unambiguously shown its colors to the rest of the world …

… as well as that “coterie of writers and artists who insisted on regarding the coup as just another stage in the revolution of 2011 [and who] will – after the blood and el-Baradei’s resignation – have to use some pretty anguished linguistics to escape moral blame for these events” — Robert Fisk:

An Egyptian polls shows that over two-fifths of the 69% who reject the military coup over 2/5ths identify with no Islamists,  while of the 25% who support it, 55% “consider themselves former Mubarak regime loyalists, while 17 percent identify themselves as Coptic Christians” …

… and the violence begets more violence …

… as the “Egyptian Christian who was one of the key figures behind an anti-Islam film that sparked violence in the Middle East and elsewhere was released from a Los Angeles prison”:

“Instead of releasing Nabil and the other prisoners who have been classified as no threat to the US, the administration decided to prevent suicides by force-feeding the strikers” — author John Grisham:

“Iran’s conservative-dominated parliament rejected three of the new president’s 18 nominees for his Cabinet on Thursday but approved 15 others, including those heading ministries key to implementing his agenda to reduce the Islamic Republic’s international isolation and improve its economy”

“I don’t care whether it’s a black man in office, but we have to have a true-blooded American. I think he is Muslim and trying to destroy the country, catering to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt” — Virgil Henke, a 65-year-old Missouri livestock farmer explaining why his hatred of Obama is not racist:

“The day after the deadliest bombing since Lebanon’s civil war …Hassan Nasrallah warned that …the takfiri groups … would kill Sunnis, Shiites, and Christians. They send suicide attackers to Sunni mosques and to churches. If these attacks continue, Lebanon will be on the edge of the abyss”:

“The US National Security Agency (NSA) broke privacy rules and overstepped its legal authority thousands of times in the past two years… according to documents published by the Washington Post”:

Livni admits her motive in participating in the doomed Middle East negotiations is the hope of driving a wedge between “moderate” Muslim (read: those who are willing to close their eyes to Israeli human rights abuses) and “extremists” (read: those who consistently condemn Israeli apartheid and contempt for international law):

… while a senior Israeli “government official responsible for promoting positive images of Israel on social media networks” executes his charge by publishing offensive (even to the point point of obscenity) comments targeting Muslims, the Church of Scotland, and the victims at Hiroshima and Nagasaki:

“It was not clear if Kakar was targeted because she was a high-profile woman, or because of her position as a senior politician. She is one of 69 female representatives in the 249-seat lower house of parliament”:

News and Analysis (8/14/13)

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

With at least 149 dead as the military bloodletting gets underway …

… Western indifference to the subversion of the electoral victories of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood gives Iran an opening:

“Palestinians … are upset that no Israeli Arabs or Jerusalem residents were among the first wave to be released. In addition, 14 of the prisoners will be sent to the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, a move that has been criticized for separating SOME prisoners from their families and hometowns”:

“The Israeli daily Haaretz identified the official heading the project as Danny Seaman, a spokesman who has written Facebook posts criticized by the media as being incendiary and anti-Muslim. Seaman declined comment”:

In a (presumably unintentional) reminder of Zionist-Nazi collaboration to ship Jews to Palestine, Merkel insists that Israelis should not be concerned with German criticism of its illegal settlements because “Germany’s support for Israel’s security is part of our national ethos, our raison d’etre”:

“On August 8, 2013 – far from China’s Tiananmen Square, in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, a lone worshiper prayed the Eid Salat and was encircled by an army of riot police. The image shows a man on his knees praying unintimidated as a phalange of soldiers, bearing shields and batons, looked on”:

“Activists have stepped up a two-and-a-half-year-old campaign to push the Sunni Muslim ruling family into allowing more democracy in the Shi’ite-majority state of 1.25 million people”:

“The French interior ministry said the sergeant is believed to be ‘close to the radical far right’ and had allegedly planned to open fire on the mosque at Vénissieux in the Bordeaux region on Thursday last week, when Muslims celebrated the end of Ramadan”:

“Rather than targeting Christians strictly for their faith, she adds, Boko Haram has used existing tensions between Muslims and Christians to increase the chaos in Nigeria’s north” and now threatens to “confront the United States of America”:

“Close to 560,000 Israeli nationals now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention”:

 

News and Analysis (8/12/13)

Monday, August 12th, 2013

“A security official in the capital told BBC Arabic the authorities had hoped the announcement to disperse them would encourage protesters to leave. But this has not happened and the number of people at the sites is increasing”:

“The previously undisclosed rule change allows NSA operatives to hunt for individual Americans’ communications using their name or other identifying information” providing the NSA with a loophole potentially allowing ‘warrantless searches for the phone calls or emails of law-abiding Americans’:

“In a handwritten complaint filed in federal court, the inmates say they have been denied congregational Friday prayer” and that evening meals to break their day-long fast during Ramadan were delayed until more than two hours after the time at which the Qur’an required the fast to be broken”:

“[T]he inherent double standard in the treatment of white/powerful women who cover their faces versus the treatment of poor/disenfranchised/ brown women who do, is far more interesting to me than the problematic regurgitation of orientalist clichés which frankly, I’m virtually inured to” — Myriam Francois Cerrah:

We got no clear explanation why the embassies were closed, and now we get no clear explanation of why it is safe to reopen them:

“Once again, an inexperienced and impatient mass movement has overreached after gaining power. Once again, liberals have been frightened by the changes their former partners want to enact and have come crawling back to the old regime for protection”:

A speed bump in southern Egypt and no parking signs in Texas are flashpoints:

“Attempts to bring stability to Myanmar’s strategic northwest Rakhine State could be unraveling after police opened fire on Rohingya Muslims for the third time in two months, reviving tensions in a region beset by religious violence last year” …

… while “hard-line Buddhist groups have mounted a campaign against Muslim and Christian targets” i Sri Lanka:

“The island, which is home to the U.S. Fifth Fleet and sits between top oil exporter Saudi Arabia and Iran,” last year expelled “two American rights activists were deported for trying to report on events marking the first anniversary of demonstrations for democratic reforms”:

News and Analysis (8/9/13)

Friday, August 9th, 2013

“Tunisia’s new leaders missed opportunities to make badly needed economic reforms” instead “offering unsustainable quick-fix[es] …[and] impossible promises of” rural development, fueling resentment” while Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood “that had long operated in secret, it was predisposed to … a lack of transparency”:

Once again a paper tiger, the U.S. continues to avoid calling the military coup a military coup, its diplomatic intervention fails, and Egypt teeters on the edge:

“The claim of US ‘officials’ that Ayman al-Zawahiri conducted a 12-country conference call … flies in the face of every assumption and informed opinion about Al Qaeda’s operational security that there is.” Besides, “everyone knows that 20-person conference calls never accomplish anything”:

The government plays hardball in defense of NSA spying. “I have been forced to make a difficult decision: to become complicit in crimes against the American people, or walk away from nearly 10 years of hard work by shutting down Lavabit” — Lavabit LLC owner Ladar Levison:

Unlike the case of the other embassy closings, the State Department says this time the threat was “specific” but they won’t say what it specifically was:

Benghazi is one of the most unstable parts of post-revolutionary Libya. Last month, some 1,200 prisoners escaped from a jail in the city…. Libyan journalists have been the target of attacks and kidnappings by militia in recent months, according to campaign group Reporters Without Borders”:

“Earlier this week, the Israeli Cabinet expanded its list of West Bank settlements eligible for government subsidies. The Cabinet approved a range of housing subsidies and loans for more than 600 Israeli communities deemed ‘national priority areas'” …

… and the reality of Israeli apartheid becomes harder to ignore:

The man who campaigned to turn the Danish cartoon episode into an international incident finally agrees with us that the “Jyllands-Posten newspaper had right to print them”. Now, how long until he also agrees that the right to act like an obnoxious idiot is one best not exercised. (We refer to both him and Jyllands-Posten):

The drone “assassination campaign in Yemen” is “leading to intensified attacks on the government from Yemenis seeking revenge for its assistance to the US program, essentially creating the very instability on which Al Qaeda thrives”:

News and Analysis (8/7/13)

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

“Tunisia has become increasingly polarized by rival street movements. Ennahda came out in a show of force a few days earlier, drawing the largest crowd since Ben Ali’s ouster for a pro-government rally that it said topped 150,000. Ben Jaafar’s decision to suspend the Assembly, meanwhile, could deepen the country’s political crisis”:

While Yemen claims that it has “foiled … plans that may have been the subject of last week’s Al Qaeda communications that triggered a broad US closure of its diplomatic missions around the world” …

… an American conservative asks Sen. Lindsey Graham, “After 58,000 dead we left Vietnam. How many Americans have the Vietnamese killed since we left?”

As the US charges a former Libyan commander in the Benghazi attack, the country continues to unravel in its attempts to deal with its proposed constitution, its economy, and its security:

“Roubaix is one of just a handful of cities that have broken with a rigid interpretation of the country’s state secularism. The city stands out for its effort to take discreet but pointed steps to promote an active Muslim community, and in doing so it has diminished the ethnic and sectarian tensions that have afflicted other parts of France”:

“The exchange prompted the judge, Col. Tara Osborn, to halt the long-delayed trial on only its second day. She must now decide what to do next, knowing that all moves she makes will be scrutinized by a military justice system that has overturned most soldiers’ death sentences in the last three decades”:

“[W]ith terrifying reports of Muslim women and children being massacred” and “monks goading on frenzied mobs”, and suspicion that extremists “have backing from the highest levels of the Burmese government”, the “fear now is that the plight of the Rohingya has become a battle cry for Islamist militants in Indonesia”:

“The killing came despite an agreement between Thailand and Muslim rebels from the region to try to avoid bloodshed during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ends this week”:

American Unitarian Rachel Corrie “was killed by a military bulldozer two months [after joining the International Solidarity Movement], while trying to block the demolition of a pharmacist’s house in Rafah, Gaza. The play’s Israeli director Ari Remez says, “I wanted to understand what brought her here, and what that says about us”:

Sens. McCain and Graham add their weight to the US administration’s efforts to bring the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian military to the negotiating table, but all sides in Egypt remain united only in their anger at the US: