Archive for May, 2007

News and Analysis (05/31/07)

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Dispute over TV station reveals various State interferences in the media:

Meanwhile, Morocco blocks YouTube for permitting a video showing Moroccan police beating women during a protest over the Western Sahara:

Turkish Parliament reasserts peoples right to directly elect the President:

Desperation and lack of justice results in an apparent suicide of a Guantanamo Bay detainee:

‘Islamist’ militants’ attack on girls’ schools violates Islamic duty to seek knowledge:

News and Analysis (5/30/07)

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Observers in Pakistan find that greater civic engagement and power-sharing between “secular” democratic forces and the government will roll back extremism, not the status quo… 

… meanwhile, for the first time since the controversy began, the nation’s former Chief Justice provides detailed allegations of pressure by government and military officials to resign: 

While fighting re-ignites between Lebanese government forces and militants in Nahar Al-Bared, a three-delegation group of religious scholars are attempting to broker a deal with Fatah al-Islam: 

State interferes in Malaysian’s conversion to Christianity, refuses have her new religious identity “officially recognized”: 

CS Monitor columnist opines that while its seems both sides recognize that violence is not productive, Washington and Tehran’s posturing and war of words aren’t helping either: 

Al-Qaeda-allied groups extend their reach into North Africa, with counterterrorism experts noting that militants are learning from the lessons taught in Iraq: 

News and Analysis (5/29/07)

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Analysts and opposition members alike find that Musharraf is steadily losing grip on power and will soon be at a crossroads: either step aside and allow for free and fair elections, or declare martial law…

…meanwhile religious radicals continue to advance their agendas and fill in the power vacuum Musharraf has created by playing on peoples’ economic and political discontent:

Federal prosecutors use only 5% of some 300,000 tapped phone calls, with the rest “untranslated and effectively off limits to defense lawyers in FBI vaults”, as evidence against Padilla co-defendants, defense asserts “cherry picking” of incriminating conversations and ignoring exculpatory discussions:

The case of Osama El-Dawoody highlights a fundamental problem of using informants in investigations–are they valuable sources of information or agent provocateurs?

Case of Malaysian convert to Christianity highlights issues of authority in Malaysia’s dual secular-Islamic legal system and ill-informed interpretations of religious freedom in Islamic thought:

Can the U.S.-Iranian Talks Lead Anywhere?

Monday, May 28th, 2007

I was interviewed this weekend by Fars Press (Iran’s first private news agency” about the talks that begin today between the United States and Iran over the security situation in Iraq. Similar talks were held previously regarding Afghanistan, and although the talks were helpful to the joint objectives of the United States and Iran, the American public remains largely unaware of their existence and the United States has in no way rewarded Iran for its cooperation. That makes the prospects for the current round of talks leading to a thaw in relations unpromising.

There are hardliners on both sides that do not want to see a warmer relationship between the two countries, but the possibility to exploit this opportunity remains if both sides are frank about their concerns and allow the general public to be aware of the details of the discussion so that world opinion may be brought to bear on both sides. Both sides will understandably want to put their respective national interests first, but a frank discussion may help both to realize that the realization of justice for the people of Iraq will in fact serve the national interests of both Iran and the United States. Both sides must be frank about their involvement in Iraqi affairs in order to put pressure on the other to adopt a less interventionist foreign policy.

Iran is in a unique position because it is not just a regional military and political power but, because of the common religious denominational affiliation with the majority of the Iraqi people, is uniquely placed to have a direct influence on the perceptions, strategies, and tactics of a large part of the Iraqi population. If the United States and Iran can come to a common visit of how Iraq may provide for its own security without the threat of Iraq becoming a puppet state of either power, or of providing an excuse for other regional powers to try to intervene in Iraqi affairs, then a scenario for the development of a sovereign Iraq will become plausible.

There are four conditions that are necessary for Iraq to attain security after an American withdrawal: (1) the revenues and control of the Iraqi oil industry must be decentralized and allocated in a fair manner among all the people of Iraq so that every Iraqi has an interest in the economic success of the industry; (2)  autonomy of the three regions must be insured; the best way of doing this is to make a federation out of the Iraqi provinces with power decentralized to the maximum degree possible to the provincial and local level. This would obviate any concerns of domination by Sunnis and Shias or Arabs and Kurds, one over the other; (3) open declaration by all parties of commitment to the fundamental human rights guaranteed by Islamic law to all citizens: the right to life, religion, intellect, progeny and property; (4) a coordination of all security forces, meaning national army, local police, and militias to coordinate a united struggle against foreign forces in Iraq, including, but not limited to, al-Qaida.

It’s a very long shot, but it is possible for these talks to provide America with the leverage it needs to neutralize those in Iran who demonize the U.S., but it will require standing up to those in America who demonize Iran and Islam.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad

News and Analysis (5/28/07)

Monday, May 28th, 2007

As the US and Iran directly talk to each other for the first time in more than 28 years, discussing security issues in Iraq, other nations are seeing the spillover effects of that country’s terrorism problems come into their territory:

Religious learning and culture takes another blow in Iraq as criminals kill one of the Muslim World’s leading calligraphers:

In Saudi Arabia, small but important changes take place as the state sets up domestic violence center and women begin to redefine what “dressing modestly” means in their country:

Religious liberty under attack in Switzerland as xenophobes move to ban the display of minarets throughout the country:

News and Analysis (5/26-7/07)

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

UK Experts and former US defense secretary warn against military on strike Iran, finding it ineffective and counterproductive: 

Antiwar conservative academic reflects on his son’s death and the lack of political will to back out of “a profoundly misguided war”…: 

…meanwhile “sharply divergent views” from Iraqis and Americans emerge over the amount of bloodletting in Iraqi if the US military were to withdraw: 

Former Chief Justice of Pakistan makes public speech arguing for separation of powers, stating that, “centralisation of all power in one person or in one institution… is dangerous” 

News and Analysis (5/25/07)

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Tehran and Washington up the ante–with warships, military exercises, detained Iranian-Americans and the latest IAEA report–before talks begin on Iraq’s security:

Editorial in the Washington Post urges the Bush administration to press Musharraf on strengthening Pakistan’s democratic institutions as an alternative to religious extremists coming to power:

Sadr makes public appearance after laying low for a while and publicly reasserts himself over his own organization in the midst of internal purging of rogue elements and renewed overtures to Sunni groups:

Ruling in North Carolina keep the doors of religious liberty open to Muslims, allowing them to publicly swear oaths on the Qur’an:

After PBS rejects controversial film on Islam based on “filmmaking and documentary standards” film is resurrected by CPB, suggesting political motivations and pressure were involved:

News and Analysis (5/24/07)

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

As body count from Iraqi morgues shows sectarian violence continues to rise and domestic opposition to the occupation of Iraq increases, US military official announces that capture/kill strategy for Iraq stabilization not working, instead, “need to bring them to them to the negotiating table”: 

In spite of scathing report from international nuclear watchdog about Iranian defiance of international nuclear standards, IAEA top chief calls for continue diplomacy with Tehran: 

Israel makes raid into Gaza and kidnaps 33 political members of Hamas, deepens political paralysis of Palestinian legislature, government: 

Analysts find that short term US security interests trump long term support for civil society development: 

News and Analysis (5/23/07)

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

Fighting stops – at least for now – but fighting is used by various political parties to call for “unity”, outside actors to funnel arms to the government and refugees to flee the fighting:

Iran entrenches its hardline stances, arresting 4th Iranian-American in recent weeks right before talks are to begin between Washington and Tehran on Iraq security:

Israel threatens to attack political, not military wing leaders of Hamas:

Op-ed in the CS Monitor explores the roots of terrorism in Western countries and puts current concerns about radical Islamist terrorism in historical and comparative perspective:

News and Analysis (5/22/07)

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Residents of Baghdad’s Kadhimiya district live in relative peace in exchange for a certain level of extortion and ethnic cleansing of Sunni residents while violence elsewhere in the city has led to the near-complete departure of a sizable Christian community and closed shops in a once busy market district: 

Standoff in Pakistan between radical religious vigilantes and security forces over kidnapped policemen ends with release of the hostages… 

…meanwhile some analysts fear further authoritarian measures by President Musharraf will risk more destabilization: 

Muslim American woman is tasked to lead engagement initiative between US State Department and European Muslims: 

Latest public opinion data from the Pew Research Center finds Muslim Americans are largely assimilated, happy with their lives, but complain of discrimination since 9/11: