Archive for May, 2009

News and Analysis (5/21/09)

Thursday, May 21st, 2009

In light of Israel’s latest public relations stunt…

… Will the agreement to freeze settlement expansion suffer the fate of previous agreements and become only empty words:

Long term success for Fatah hinges on reforms and compromises with Hamas:

Proof that overtures without substantive policy change have little effect:

Widening its influence while gaining international recognition:

Will Sadr shed his image as a sectarian provocateur or continue to embrace a role as a mujtahid:

With negotiations still in the preliminary stages, a reminder that “America cannot win this war, and the Taliban cannot win this war”:

News and Analysis (5/20/09)

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Under the fear of political reprisal if the detainees end up in America, the Senate withholds funds until Obama presents a plan for relocation:

Hamas believes the new government by Abbas will “sabotage” reconciliation talks between the Palestinian factions:

Will hostility and hawkish attitudes continue to prevail?

Four employees of Xe, formerly known as Blackwater, are accused in a deadly shooting although they were not authorized to carry weapons:

A focus on curbing corruption and prioritizing budget needs is necessary for the survival of the Iraqi government:

Offering only about $55 per refugee, U.S. signals Pakistan should pay the price for civilian flight from the Swat Valley offensive:

The concerns over the torture video implicating Sheikh Issa is unlikely to completely derail the US/UAE nuclear agreement:

News and Analysis (5/19/09)

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Ashcroft and Mueller are found not liable for any “incidental impact on Arab Muslims” in the investigations after 9/11:

Saeb Erekat complains that Netanyahu “says that he wants Palestinians to govern themselves by themselves… How can I govern myself by myself under your wall, settlements, incursions, assassinations, roadblocks?” As expected, …

… Perhaps a more radical solution is needed to compromise with both sides:

Khamenei’s comments are seen as an endorsement for Ahmadinejad’s foreign policy:

The extent of Zalmay Khalilzad responsibility and influence in the Afghani government remains unknown:

Women were expected to participate for the first time in municipal elections:

The Crisis in Pakistan: Is There a Way Out?

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

[I was interviewed by Farspress on the crisis in Pakistan. Here are my answers to their questions.]

Q- What do you see as the main reasons for spreading of Taliban influence in Pakistan, despite the U.S presence in Afghanistan (and Iraq) on the excuse that it was to suppress terrorists?

A. The U.S. presence is one of the main reasons for the spread of the Taliban influence. One must remember that the Taliban’s original dramatic rise in Afghanistan was due to the fact that it was perceived as the one group that could bring peace to people who had had their fill of endless war. Their popularity only began to decline after they had succeeded in establishing themselves and their harshness and divisiveness alienated the people that had welcomed them in the first place. They have gone into the sympathetic Northwestern provinces of Pakistan where they find cultural and ethnic affinity among the locals for whom their excesses are not yet as manifest as the violence of their American pursuers.  The Pakistani government never had a complete hold on these provinces and their efforts at consolidating power have only eroded the influence of the traditional religious establishment, leaving the people exposed to the allure of the newly arrived extremists. The U.S. had just cause to make hot pursuit after terrorists, but not all Taliban are terrorists and not all the peoples of the provinces are Taliban, but drone bombers are incapable of making such distinctions.

Q.- What would you offer to solve the Pakistan crisis?

A. I make no claim to expertise in quick solutions, nor am I convinced a quick one is even possible. However, it is clear that the Pakistan army needs to learn how to fight counter-insurgency, while it has only prepared itself for battle with India. I suspect that their best tactic to buy time until they can develop an effective strategy for counter-insurgency is to grant the Northwest provinces a maximum of autonomy while using full force of arms against any and every attempt by the Taliban to impose themselves on neighboring provinces, such as their recent violation of the agreement regarding Swat. Pakistan has the power to slap down such incursions, as they have demonstrated, but they need more troops to secure the areas in order to let the civilian refugees return safely to their homes as quickly as possible. Otherwise they only prepare a wider area for Taliban intrusion. They should be willing to work with their own civil society institutions as well as with foreign NGOs to provide for the needs of the adversely affected populace during the crisis to prevent wider alienation. They must develop the discrimination to stand firm against terrorists and oppressive extremists, while tolerating or cooperating with those Taliban or other Islamists who have no connection to terrorism and do not wish to overturn local standards with any particular foreign sectarianism.

Q.- What do you think about Iran’s role and it’s affect on the crisis?

A. Because of its rivalry with Pakistan, I don’t think Iran can easily play a constructive role inside Pakistan in the short term. However, I think Iran must be included in the councils of any foreign powers in order that its unique perspective on the rights of the Shi`a inhabitants of Pakistan and the nuances of regional relationships may be fully appreciated. In the long-term Iran could play an important indirect role by doing everything it can now to improve its economic ties with Pakistan. I think the gas pipeline to India is an excellent opportunity in this regard. If Iran, Pakistan and India become better trading partners, the suspicions that they hold against one another may be reduced enough that other opportunities for engagement, both cultural and relating to peacekeeping could arise.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

News and Analysis (5/18/09)

Monday, May 18th, 2009

With the need to generate 100 million new jobs within the next ten years:

Relations between Iraqi Arabs and Kurds rapidly deteriorate:

Analysts fear some of the billions in US aid might be allocated to Pakistan’s nuclear programs:

Hundreds of fighters who had been persuaded to support President Ahmed, a “widely respected moderate Islamist once vilified by U.S. officials but now regarded by Washington as Somalia’s last, best hope” have gone back to the Shabab extremists:

“It is an intellectual way of segregating the minorities from the society and it gives them an impression that they were not part of the nation at all”

BJP members reexamine militant anti-Muslim rhetoric in wake of their poor showing  in the elections:

News and Analysis (5/16-17/09)

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

With Obama set to meet with Netanyahu tomorrrow…

… all Palestinians must be reprsented if any progress is to be achieved:

A Pakistani student says, “we want all nuclear weapons to be restricted for all countries in the world,” not just Pakistan:

“Women gained the right to vote and run for office in 2005 but failed in two previous elections to win seats”

Reform candidates argue that Ahmadinejad’s rhetorical excess only helps Israel and isolates Iran while his populist distribution of oil revenues has failed to produce promised jobs:

Questions of rule of law and the right to adopt in Islam:

News and Analysis (5/15/09)

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Continuing the bullying policies of the Bush administration:

A breakdown of Obama’s changes to the military tribunals now responsible for trying 10 to 20 detainees:

“Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu party said it will propose legislation next week for a ban on the commemoration and jail terms of up to three years for those who violated the law”:

One theory suggests Baghdadi is a fictional character:

Activists call for a constitutional monarchy and “fair and public trials” for the 991 suspects accused of terrorism:

Residents of Bamiyan, an area rich in cultural history, hope to overcome the challenges of encouraging tourism in Afghanistan:

Expectations for the Obama-Netanyahu Meeting

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

I was interviewed by Javier Mendez of Chile’s El Mecurio. Here are my answers to his questions.

Q. What are the expectations for the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu? What are their differences about the possibilities of Palestinian State and the peace in Middle East?

A. We expect Obama to press for Netanyahu to agree to resume negotiations in the pattern of those of the Clinton administration, an approach that, because it ignores or attempts to subvert the right of displaced Palestinians to return to their homes cannot succeed in establishing a lasting peace. However, getting Netanyahu to commit even to a two-state solution all will be an uphill battle for Obama. For the same reasons that the Likud was able to rebuff George Bush Sr.’s modest attempts to put the brakes on Israeli settlements, I mean the unconditional support of the U.S. Congress for Israel, Obama has no leverage to obtain even significant symbolic concessions from Netanyahu. There is also the fact that Avigdor Lieberman, whose support Netanyahu needs to stay in power, is oppose to resuming negotiations altogether. In any case Netanyahu’s insistence that Obama take a more belligerent stance on Iran as a precondition to pursuing peace with the Palestinians is a clear signal that he will not cooperate unless Obama demonstrates a clear acquiescence to the Likud agenda.

Q.  Do your think that they will try to analyze or talk about security issues in Israel, Gaza, West Bank or will they try to driver forward the peace initiative called the Annapolis agreement?

A. I think that Obama will try to persuade Netanyahu that American commitment to Israel’s security is absolutely guaranteed, so that Israel may safely commit to a two-state solution and a settlement freeze, but Netanyahu will argue that Israel will be insecure unless Obama abandons any hope of a peaceful resolution to its differences with Iran.

Q. In your opinion, what could be the chances for peace in the Middle East between Israel and Palestine after the meeting between Obama and Netanyahu? Are there posibilities for a Netanyahu´s goverment to resume peace negotiations with the Palestinia?

A. The chances for peace between Israel and the Palestinians emerging from Obama’s meeting with Netanyahu are very poor. Netanyahu has made it clear he will only consider negotiating about security and economic issues.

Q. What are the Israeli conditions for continuing the peace process?

A. The Netanyahu-Lieberman coalition makes belligerency with Iran, a one apartheid state solution, and abandonment of the Palestinian right of return conditions for continuing the peace process.

Q. Will Obama and Netanyahu have a hard-line with Iran and Syria?

A. I would not be surprised to see Obama attempt to appease Netanyahu by adopting a harder line rhetoric on Iran, but unless he is willing to back it up with actual military aggression, Netanyahu will not be satisfied. The Obama administration has already started talking tougher about Syria.

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute

News and Analysis (5/14/09)

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

In the belief the photos would only “further inflame anti-American opinion and… put our troops in greater danger”, Obama opts against transparency in government:

A detailed breakdown of how the Pakistani government is losing support to “private groups with alternate agendas” risking a “perilous political backlash”…

… Meanwhile, countering Taliban propaganda could prove to be the most effective tactic utilized by US forces in Afghanistan:

Will international pressure amount to substantive change when Obama meets with Netanyahu later this month?

Hass was the first Israeli reporter to enter Gaza in nearly two years:

News and Analysis (5/13/09)

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

The Pakistani dilemma: assume partial control over drone attacks and their consequences or allow the US to continue without any control over their operations:

The man whose torture induced testimony was largely responsible for the belief Sadam Hussein possessed WMDs allegedly committee suicide:

“Curiosity” lead Saberi to copy a confidential Iranian report:

With General Abbas prohibiting reporters and independent observers from the area, the refugees are the only evidence of fighting:

…Meanwhile, the efforts of Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation, formerly known as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, are often “better organized and funded than comparable government services”:

Analysts believe additional US support is needed past the June 30 deadline but al-Maliki’s comments suggest he will not authorize exceptions to the agreement: