Archive for January, 2010

News and Analysis (1/30-31/10)

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

The Taliban leadership council e-mail dismissed “mere futile and baseless rumors” and re-emphasized “continuation of Islamic Jihad against all invaders as a means to frustrate these conspiracies'”:

Israeli news-site confirms suspicions that Israeli Shin Bet and Mossad operatives arrived in Dubai with the explicit purpose of assassinating Al-Mabhouh:

The Bush-era lawyers’ secret memos are written off as merely “poor judgment”:

Demonstrating how fearful the regime is of a “green revolution,” Brig. Gen. Hamedani “declares any dissidents “will be considered an agent of foreigners… Any voice or color other than the voice of the Islamic Revolution will be pushed aside….”:

“By highlighting the defensive nature of the buildup, the administration was hoping to avoid a sharp response from Tehran”:

“I choose to wear this. Not every day, just now and again. But when I do wear it, it is entirely of my own volition. No one is forcing me… If they make us take it off, they’ll be taking a part of us. I’d rather die than let them do it.”

Without a provision guaranteeing  Houthi rebels will not attack Saudi territory:

A Circle of Civilizations

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Prof. Antony Sullivan, a member of the Minaret of Freedom Institute’s board of advisers, spoke at the International Institute of Islamic Thought on the motivations of the creation of the Circle of Tradition and Progress. It was a spiritual and civilized response of Western and Islamic scholars and intellectuals to Prof. Samuel Huntington’s power-driven speculations on the future, seeking to create a new basis for cooperation and dialog. The group was the product of a meeting held in London that ran from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. that included Muslim scholars including Bashir Nafi, Abdul Wahab El-Massiry (a former atheist), and Western scholars including Lou Cantori and Dr. Sullivan. Dr. Sullivan considers the fact that agreement on a text was reached by the end of the day to have been a miracle.

The group represents the view that the modernity project that stems from the European enlightenment has had spectacular technical achievements, but too many negative side effects. Implicit in it is the naive insistence that human fulfillment can be achieved on a strictly material basis and the belief that man can achieve this through reason alone, without any form of divine assistance. The circle aims at progress everywhere, with a scholarly critique of materialism and secularism, an aim to achieve accountable democratic government, basic liberty and human rights, and an economic system that is both liberal and humane. It seeks a reconciliation of reason and religion, of man and God, and of peoples to one another. It is premised on a belief in the transcendence of God and the guidance of revelation.

Dr. Sullivan noted that a commitment to reform has been at the heart of the Islamic project, a rectification of the balance between man’s quest for material success and the reality of God and spiritual matters. At the same time Westerners have recognized the religious imperative and respect for tradition in Thomas Aquinas, Russell Kirk, and Gerhart Niemeyer. The Islamic quest for reform and the Western respect for tradition together provide a basis for cooperation and progress. It requires a rejection of  “Manichean formulations” that impede cooperation between Islam and the West.

Prof. Sullivan rejected the glib definition of traditionalism as the view that nothing should be done for the first time. His concept of traditionalism is not an ideology, but a philosophical system that is the opposite of ideology. The Anglo-Saxon variety is a judicious preference for the past and an inclination to preserve, combined with a willingness to adapt, adjust, and initiate. In the words of Russell Kirk, culture comes from root “cult.” Religion is vital to civilization. Robert Nisbett, Eric Voegelin and T. S. Elliot are examples of thinkers who have belonged to this tradition.

Who are the Western traditionalists today? Prof. Sullivan argues that “Someone named Usama bin Ladin killed the halaqa and George W.  Bush nailed the Coffin shut.” He asks, “Was Huntington right?” or is it time to reconvene the circle? The American traditionalist or (as they used to call it before the Neocons made the term into a dirty word) conservative movement, was destroyed by 9-11. Patriotism became jingoism. People like Robert Spencer were provided a platform to attack Islam and feed into the worst aspects of the Huntington thesis. Despite some improvements in the past three to four years, we all still struggle with notions of “us and them” that are a fact of life that will not make our work any easier.

Perhaps the recent developments have made the circle more necessary, but I believe its revival will require an expansion of its inclusiveness, religiously, politically, and modally. A resurrected Circle of Tradition and Progress should include Jews as well as Muslims and Christians; it should include libertarians or classical liberals as well as paleoconservatives; and it should not be afraid of activism. When the the government impedes free exchange of ideas by unsubstantiated restriction on the travel of some scholars, we should demand an explanation. The people who made a laughing stock of themselves when they banned the musician Yusuf Islam from America on national security grounds should be equally challenged when they persecute intellectuals.

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

News and Analysis (1/29/10)

Friday, January 29th, 2010

US leaders remain skeptical as Karzai attempts a broad move of reconciliation with all Taliban leadership …

… Meanwhile, secret meetings in Dubai indicate hope the negotiation process:

Even as US soldiers focus on small-scale projects,aim to fight greed and corruption in rebuilding Afghanistan …

… they also incite divisions between Afghan and international forces:

Israel seeks to crush the right to protest their oppressive measures in the West Bank:

Hamas holds Israeli agents are responsible for the assassination by electgric shock to the head:

As the government seeks to overturn the court decision that allows Christians to refer to God as “Allah”:

More stories of oppression over veiling in Europe:

News and Analysis (1/27/10)

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

With Taliban leadership convinced they can outlast international presence in Afghanistan, a new role for Pakistan emerges …

Karzai’s time line for training and independently financing Afghanistan troops is upwards of 15 years …

… However, US attempts to ingratiate troops into local politics and gain Afghan trust may expedite the process:

“We have started collecting documents and information which prove that the Israeli occupation has stolen the body parts of martyrs. We intend to prepare a complete legal file to be used in suits against the Israeli government in international courts” -Gaza Minister of Justice Al-Ghoul:

Given Iran’s preference for suppressing the opposition, the protesters strategy is best described as “nonviolent guerrilla warfare”:

A reminder that without international support, the situation in Yemen could rapidly spiral out of control:

News and Analysis (1/26/10)

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

The singer’s attorney disputes the charges and says the arrest is an attempt to stifle free speech …

… while a violation of free press is reversed:

As Hamas and Fatah trade accusations as to which has legal and democratic authority, Palestinians want to know how they can “build a state and a viable political system … when we can’t even have simple elections?”:

American soldiers “help to plan missions, develop tactics and provide weapons and munitions” without personally taking part in the raids:

70% of the Gazans stand to lose electricity unless a new agreement and payment schedule can be drafted by Thursday …

… and the strangled economy is unable to absorb construction workers laid off by the temporary settlement freeze:

Preferring a strategy that would shorten the US military efforts, the Obama administration wrestles with the idea of reconciliation for upper-level Taliban members:

News and Analysis (1/26/2010)

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

“I stand firmly by the belief that cheating took place in the election and the results were doubtful, and I believe the vote count was completely rigged…. However, since Mr. Khamenei endorsed Mr. Ahmadinejad, for this very reason I consider him the president of the current government of this system.” — ”  Karroubi quoted by his son:

There is negligible evidence that concerns of fraud and corruption can be resolved by the unconstitutional delay of the elections to an inopportune date just after Ramadan:

The proposed law would prevent anyone in full veil from using public services, including hospitals, schools and public transportation:

With four death sentences for his role in the killing of hundreds of thousands of Kurds and Shiites previously blamed on Iran:

In a strategy based on the premise that 80% of Taliban foot soldiers fight for money and local grievances rather than as resistance to foreign invaders, jobs, protection and amnesty will be the incentive to lay down their arms:

The Houthis withdraw from Saudi Arabia but pledge to engage in “open war” if Saudi forces continue to pursue the group:

News and Analysis (1/25/10)

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Perhaps bin Laden’s role was mainly inspirational:

Despite the desperate circumstances, skeptics argue the court system will not have the political power to coax the ISI into cooperating with the investigation:

The first step in facilitating a negotiation process with the Taliban:

Opponents say the sudden enforcement of the 1994 law restricting alcohol sales to “to licensed stores and a few private clubs and hotels” is an attempt to garner favor among religious voters by al-Maliki:

With at least 15 are arrested in peace protests against the eviction of Palestinians in Jerusalem …

… Netanyahu shores up roadblocks to peace by claiming parts of the West Bank “will be an inseparable part of the state of Israel forever”:

“You are a superpower and we will help you fight the extremists, but you cannot buy us… You can give us aid, but give us respect and dignity, too. Otherwise, you will spill your blood and spend your money, and the people will still hate you” – Talha Mehmood, a senator from a pro-government religious party:

News and Analysis (1/23-24/09)

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

In the face of worldwide opinion, Israel will rebut the Goldstone report after all …

… Meanwhile, with the border quiet, Israel eyes potential missile sites north of Beirut: …

The increasing arrests of peace activists, including the director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Hagai El AdA, may spark a third intifada:

A serious blow to the legitimacy of the Afghani government, elections will be delayed due to a budgetary shortfall:

“Hamas officials say clan leaders, referred to locally as mukhtars, are free to practice their own methods of reconciliation, as long as the rule of law is respected and justice is served”:

Experts believe overturning Justice Urbina’s decision, which clearly details errors made by investigators and prosecutors is unlikely:

News and Analysis (1/22/10)

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

Will the U.S. grant detainees held as prisoners of war in order to avoid safeguards criminals have against detention without charge and coerced testimony the rights of prisoners of war under teh Geneva Convention?

Despite Gates attempt to personally appeal the decision, Pakistani military commanders cite “overstretched” resources:

A prominent Sunni candidate barred form the election says if the U.S. can’t guarantee “democracy, they should leave right away from Iraq, because their presence means nothing”:

Exhibit A in how little some Muslims understand liberty, Hassen Chalghoumi tells Muslims who disagree with is interpretation of modest dress to leave the country:

Entering his presidency with high expectations for the Israeli / Palestine conflict, Obama admits the US overestimated its ability to influence the negotiation process:

Israeli offers relief to Haiti as it blocks relief to Gaza:

A controversial snub of Championship caliber Pakistani players is believed to highlight the fact “that India is not serious about the peace process with Pakistan”:

News and Analysis (1/21/10)

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Jared Malsin, chief English editor of the Maan News has been deported from the West Bank after refusing to answer questions about his “anti-Israeli” views …

… Meanwhile, Netanyahu makes the outrageous claim that Israeli troops must be allowed to operate in any future and “sovereign[!]” Palestinian State:

Adopting a new “code of conduct” to reposition themselves as a “local liberation movement” and regain popularity among the people of Afghanistan,

Thought to suffer a wider level of discrimination than any other religious group, 53% of Americans view Islam “unfavorably”:

“They are trying to position Ariel as a normal Israeli city. The university is one of the tools they are using to attract people from the outside… An Israeli can drive to Ariel without even noticing they are in the West Bank”:

Despite winning a tough battle against his political opposition to remain in power, Zardari is still viewed as a weak and relatively ineffective politician: