Archive for April, 2008

News and Analysis (4/30/08)

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Ankara’s parliament passes incremental changes to Turkey’s notorious “insulting Turkishness” law, but the small reforms leave free speech advocates unsatisfied:

Latest incident over who is responsible for four dead Palestinian civilians—an Israeli tank shell or nearby munitions owned by militants—threatens to torpedo fragile cease-fire talks:

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee seek to finally rein in the FBI’s massive abuses of so-called National Security Letters:

Increased US-Iraqi military presence in Sadr City leaves 400 dead since Maliki’s failed offensive last month, including 28 killed in the most recent clashes:

Pakistani leaders seek to resolve impasse over conditions of how judges deposed under Musharraf’s martial law are to be reinstated before their self-imposed deadline ends…

…meanwhile despite the failures of Musharraf’s old US-supported military-centric strategy, Washington continues to express alarm over Islamabad’s fresh mix of military, political and economic policies:

News and Analysis (4/29/08)

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

Once the DoD’s top legal gunslinger, Col. Morris Davis recently testified under oath that the Pentagon and Bush administration seek convictions in its kangaroo courts to score political points, not administer justice:

Social and economic discrimination of European Muslims lead to a disproportionate incarceration rate in France and other European countries:

Call for religious reformists’ death by extremist clerics are interpreted by some to signal diminishing influence of hardliners in Saudi Arabia…

…meanwhile members of a violent fringe test Indonesia’s religious tolerance and pluralism by attacking mosques belonging to a heterodox sect of Muslims:

Iranian director Nader Talebzadeh’s flick on the life of Jesus (PBUH) as a fully human prophet, rather than Divine, attempts to initiate more religious dialog:

A former TV producer claims network TV’s bias toward military experts distorted the debate over Iraq and helped push the country into war:

Iraq acknowledges Iranian military aid to militias, but also tells Washington to back down from its belligerent tone toward Tehran and pursue quiet diplomacy instead:

After earlier reports of Taliban and Pakistani government negotiators nearly coming to a deal, Taliban militants pull out of talks, citing “foreign forces” undermining peace talks:

News and Analysis (4/28/08)

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Drawing on lessons of ending Nepal’s civil war, former President Jimmy Carter finds diplomatic engagement with Hamas and Syria will pay greater peace dividends than isolating and economically punishing them:

By finally acknowledging long-ignored trends in Muslim-majority countries and communities, the US begins to gain some strategic leverage over Al-Qaeda:

Big Brother uses its spy powers to violate attorney-client confidentiality and subvert the notion of a fair trial:

Islamophobic personalities and organizations use guilt by association and fear-tactics to undermine a New York-based Arabic-language school and its principal:

Chinese policies of restricting religious freedom and importing ethnic Han Chinese to change Xinjiang’s ethnic demography have many native Muslim Uighur feeling like they are “the Indians in America”:

Developed nations’ farming subsidies create massive food market distortions, hurting poor countries like Muslim-majority Mauritania:

American Muslims’ unique social context leads them to interpret and apply Islamic principles in creative new ways, balancing out social desires with a faith-based need for personal modesty:

News and Analysis (4/26-27/08)

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Secret DoJ letters given to Oregon Senator Ron Wyden argue the Geneva Convention protections do not apply to interrogations used specifically to combat terrorism:

Prominent civil society advocate’s arrest and release signal growing power among the Kingdom’s pro-democracy activists and bloggers:

In spite of the recent assassination attempt, President Hamid Karzai slams US and UK troops for undermining his authority by inflicting heavy civilian casualties and continuing policies of arresting Taliban members that clash with his reconciliation programs:

Columnist Rami Khouri argues that if Western and Israeli leaders believe Hamas’ 10-year truce is a farce, the best way to prove it is by “calling their bluff” and accepting their offer:

University of California-San Diego professor Babak Rahimi argues sanctions not only hurt ordinary Iranian citizens, but also strengthen the country’s authoritarian power centers:

Opposition parties are at an impasse over whether shorter terms for Supreme Court judges should be part of the reinstatement package for all federal judges deposed by Musharraf:

Daily Star Lebanon editorial argues that, in a highly twisted sense of irony, the Israeli and American governments are making the same political mistakes in towards Gazans that American and European governments did during WWII when the Holocaust was taking place:

News and Analysis (4/25/08)

Friday, April 25th, 2008

Former Israeli combatants blow the whistle on army abuses of its occupation in the Palestinian Territories; meanwhile, based on a letter “personally delivered to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon”, Tel Aviv claims they had a secret nod from Bush to continue its settlement expansion:

US takes meager steps toward reconciliation by releasing 200 of tens of thousands of prisoners it has detained in Iraq:

US photos of Israeli-bombed Syrian facility have experts unconvinced it was part of a secret nuclear weapons program:

Federal security agencies jettison clumsy terminology to describe Al-Qaeda terrorists after hearing recommendations from American Muslims:

In a discussion with a Federal judge, Bush administration lawyer Anthony Coppolino refused to state whether Congress has the authority to limit the President’s power in terrorism and espionage cases:

News and Analysis (4/24/08)

Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Federal magistrate judge in Chicago says invoking “state secrets” is an invalid justification to refuse telling Americans whether or not they are on the terrorism watch list:

Huge paper trail in Freedom Of Information Act filing by human rights groups underscores depth of CIA’s torture program:

Egypt passes a new law forbidding public demonstrations on or near religious places of worship:

Seeking to “stay plugged into Muslim opinion” Zawahiri’s online Q&A session elicit many angry responses from its supporters over its reckless tactics killing innocents:

Prominent New Jersey Imam who successfully ran his mosque and engaged in interfaith work is getting the boot from DHS due to issues over whether or not he allegedly falsified his immigration application:

Taliban commander accused of killing Benazir Bhutto orders his men to ceasefire and enters into negotiations with Islamabad:

Harsh cultural practices legalized in Saudi Arabia concerning women and their public activities are slammed by latest Human Rights Watch report:

News and Analysis (4/23/08)

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

Caught between ongoing violence and economic deprivation, many of Iraq’s one million widows fight each day to survive and maintain their families, while Iraqi Christians struggle to maintain their presences within Iraq:

Former extremists create an organization dedicated to reaching out Muslim youth vulnerable to radical organizations:

Afghan TV stations remain steadfast in their refusal to ban certain soap operas—already heavily edited by the networks—despite orders from the government, egged on by religious hardliners:

CATO military analyst David Isenberg debunks recent neo-con attempts to spin latest military report disproving linkages between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda:

Neo-con group uses fear-based ads to attack civil libertarian politicians for their firm opposition to Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program:

News and Analysis (4/22/08)

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Experts on law and terror financing find government prosecutions of Muslim charities use McCarthyite tactics and reasoning that arrest innocent individuals, erode civil liberties and ineffective in fight terrorist networks:

The declassified Yoo torture memo gave the government that has increasingly used terror tactics in the “War on Drugs” the green light to use drugs in the “War on Terror” …

…meanwhile Columbia Law School professor Scott Horton argues whether Yoo was merely dispensing legal advice or providing out right protection from prosecution, the former DoJ official is legally liable for prosecution:

Pakistan immediately begins implementing its new counterterrorism policy by releasing a former militant leader from jail after he and his group renounced violence and agreed to peacefully engage in politics:

Rather than using persuasion to avoid programs they deem “not acceptable”, religious hardliners use their political clout to pressure the Afghan government into banning certain Indian soap operas:

Leading Uighur human rights activist Rebiya Kadeer dismisses official Chinese claims of alleged terror plots to disrupt the Olympics:

Lebanese columnist Rami Khouri argues Bush’s democracy promotion strategy in the Middle East “…has gotten nowhere, given that American policy tends to totally discount the will of the Arab people…”

The personnel demands of maintaining empire force America’s prestigious all-volunteer military to increasingly rely on ex-cons to fill its ranks:

A Metric of Security Failure: America “Bleeding Green” in the Fight Against Al-Qaeda

Monday, April 21st, 2008

A few days ago Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad wrote an incisive analysis on the economic costs of the US-led military occupation in Iraq. In it he described how the price tag of empire is hitting the American economy very hard. It is something impossible to ignore despite the administration’s best efforts to systematically spin the ongoing failures in Iraq.

I argue that the economics of occupation is also a security “metric” to be constantly scrutinized when examining the fight against Al-Qaeda. Why? Because economic exhaustion is central to Bin Laden’s overarching goal of removing American military presence from the Middle East and other Muslim countries. While fighting terrorism on the cheap may not necessarily be a sign of success, its exorbitant financial costs are certainly a metric of security failure.

Bin Laden rightly recognizes that his bloodthirsty criminal enterprise is no match for American forces in a conventional fight. Drawing from lessons learned during the battles against Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, he has drawn his militarily stronger enemy into a tactical and strategic form of warfare he could actually win. Tactically it involves guerilla-style cloak-and-dagger methods, while strategically it is an economic (and public) war of attrition.

Under this scenario, size matters and it is a huge disadvantage to the larger party. The Soviets were sucked into an unfamiliar battlefield and got stuck in a huge quagmire that drained them of men, money and materiel. The enormous costs of maintaining the occupation, in addition to keeping pace with US in the arms race led to the Soviet Union’s eventual economic implosion.

This is exactly what Bin Laden is doing in Iraq. The Bush administration fell into Al-Qaeda’s trap by picking an unnecessary fight with Iraq,—which had no weapons of mass destruction, nor any operational links to Al-Qaeda—remaining militarily bogged down and forcing America to financially hemorrage itself.

In an interesting and scary economic analysis by Bin Laden himself, he found that for every dollar he and his affiliates spend in military operations, the Bush administration spends one million dollars in reaction. Those figures led him to calculate the US war debt at one trillion. However recent analyses suggest that these numbers may skyrocket beyond the terror leader’s wildest dreams.

Had the Bush and his neo-con cabal decided to remain focused on Afghanistan, perhaps America would not be faced with a massive military spending bill that will cost at least $2.4 trillion, for the entire war on terror, by the CBO’s relatively conservative estimate, or between $4-5 trillion, for just the Iraq occupation on Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes’ account. Bush’s Iraq adventure has allowed Bin Laden to regroup his forces and carry out other attacks around the world, including other economically sensitive targets like the massive oil refinery in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia.

Indeed, we have not been hit with another military attack from Al-Qaeda since the invasion of Iraq. However, the argument of “we’re fighting them over there so they don’t fight us here”—with which I am sure the British and Spanish would not agree—does not hold when examined from an economic perspective. American taxpayers are not bleeding red on their own soil; they are bleeding green instead, just as the enemy planned.

News and Analysis (4/21/08)

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Carter returns from his meeting with Meshaal and other Hamas officials saying they are open to a peace deal, but with certain conditions…

…meanwhile Israel faces a greater military and public relations threat from Hamas as the tactical lessons it learned from Hizbullah lead it to focus on precise attacks on military, not civilian targets:

Analysts say the latest legislative drive by Afghan religious hardliners (ab)using shari’a is simply a power play:

FBI and DoJ score few victories in counterterrorism trials by making arrests before enough evidence is gathered to make a strong case:

Big Brother seeks genetic surveillance of family members in order to crackdown on crime, leading some to raise privacy issues and disproportionate effects on minority communities:

Pakistani parliament is set to restore all high-level judges deposed by Musharraf, including Chief Justice Chaudhry, while reducing the former general’s powers to “little more than a constitutional figurehead”…

…meanwhile Britain gives a nod to Pakistan’s new counterterrorism strategy mix of military strength and political negotiations: