More than 500 Bahrainis gathered outside the Iranian Embassy in Bahrain
yesterday to protest against comments by a hardline Iranian journalist that
the Gulf Arab state belongs to Iran.
Sunni clerics and lawmakers were among the mostly Sunni Muslim protesters
who chanted anti-Iranian slogans.
"This is a message to Iran not to infringe on Bahrain's sovereignty,"
protest organiser Mohammed AlMarran said. "We, the nation of Bahrain, have
been an Arab Muslim country from the dawn of Islam."
Manama said it was seeking an explanation from Tehran over an article by
Hossein Shariatmadari, editor of the leading hardline daily Kayhan, that
said Bahrain was a province of non-Arab Shi'ite Iran, and that Bahrainis
were demanding the island's return to its "native land".
Iran's embassy has distanced itself from Shariatmadari's article and said
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki would address the issue during a
trip to the tiny kingdom. It was not clear whether the row triggered the
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Posted by News Service at 10:21 AM
By: Elias Bejjani
Delusion is defined by the science of Mental and Psychological Disorders as a false belief that is firmly maintained in spite of incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence. A delusion is a detachment from tangible and lived reality, from the facts and the environment, and from the capabilities available to the inflicted individual. It is a thought or thoughts which can be neither addressed nor corrected through logic or persuasion. The most frequent types of delusions are the "Delusion of Grandeur", the "Persecutory Delusion", the "Nihilistic Delusion", and "Guilt".
It is only on the basis of the scientific definitions of the underpinnings of this "delusion", and specifically here the "Delusion de Grandeur", that one can comprehend and interpret Hezbollah's delusional claim of victory against Israel in the July 2006 war. A war it initiated and waged on orders from the rulers of the two Axis of Evil countries, Syria and Iran, to serve their terrorist, fundamentalist, criminal, and expansionist plans.
Hezbollah made a unilateral decision to wage war against Israel without consulting the legitimate Lebanese State and by bypassing its institutions including the Cabinet, the Parliament, the army, and the judiciary. It acted with a self-prescribed "Divine" superiority and with the logic of the state-within-the-state empire it built in Lebanon, against the will of the Lebanese people and the constitution and laws of the country. This is the State of the "Faqih" [Islamic Jurisprudent], which is fully and exclusively affiliated with the regimes in Tehran and Damascus, and which is subservient to the rulers of those two countries. Naim Qassem, Hezbollah's second in command, openly admitted in a recent interview (Al-Kawthar TV, April 16, 2007) that every action that Hezbollah has undertaken since its founding in 1980, immediately after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, is vested exclusively by the "Jurisprudents" of Iran, and not by any other consideration such as Lebanon's national interests.
Hezbollah is simply an Iranian Army in Lebanon, period. In terms of its ideology and doctrine, its web of financial networks and activities, its authority of reference and armament, there is nothing Lebanese to Hezbollah, except for the plastic ID cards of its Mujahideen.
The illusion of victory against Israel which Hezbollah celebrated at this first anniversary of the July 2006 War, and with it Syria and Iran and their mouthpieces and peons in Lebanon, is an exercise in delusional absurdity and childishness, which would be funny if not for the deaths and destruction they visited on Lebanon. This celebration perpetuates the tradition of all previous Arab "victories" against Israel since 1948, where actual Arab-Islamic defeats were always turned - with lies, deceit, and yes delusion - into victories. Celebrating Hezbollah's "divine" victory is nothing short of scandalous and a shameful mockery of the intelligence of the Lebanese people. It stands as an absolute contradiction to reason, logic, and facts.
The ordinary Lebanese citizen who is genuinely concerned with the sovereignty of his country could not care less about the victory or defeat of Israel. Nor with the delusions of Hezbollah's leaders in victory, conquest, and slaughter à la Don Quixote. What matters to the Lebanese are the losses incurred as a result of a war that killed 1,200 people, injured thousands more, and caused large scale destruction of infrastructure estimated at over 20 billion US dollars. Lebanon has also lost 250,000 Lebanese to emigration. The country was set 20 years backward.
When we assess the results of the July war by every measure of reason and fact, it is doubtless evident that Lebanon and the Lebanese alone paid the price of the Syrian-Iranian mad adventure executed by Hezbollah. They paid that price with the blood of their children, their properties, their economy, and the future of their posterity.
As for Hezbollah, with its delusion of "Divine Victory" and all the slogans of liberation, resistance, slaughter of the enemy, and conquest, and despite all the catastrophes and calamities it has caused, it persists in its Iranian-Syrian mission to undermine the institutions, the constitution, the liberties, the democracy, and the very existence of the Cedars Homeland. Hezbollah's actions do not deserve celebration; they deserve the prosecution of its leaders, the seizure of its funds and assets, and the disbanding of its militias. Today, not tomorrow.
It is no longer acceptable to accommodate this illegal organization, give false praises to its disturbed leaders, repeat and reinforce their delusions, and exaggerate their superiority in their delusional victory of July 2006, and before it their charade of "liberation" in 2000. Hezbollah had only liberated the south from its Lebanese people, replaced the country's institutions with its own instruments of dependency, banned the Lebanese army and security forces from setting foot in the south, and then erected its own State within the State.
It is a crime against truth, conscience and logic for the Lebanese political leadership to continue kowtowing to Hezbollah and propagating its lies, and to practice Taqiyah [dissimulating one's true opinion] and Dhimmi submission, through an idiotic marketing of Hezbollah's delusional victories of July 2006 and June 2000.
Facts must be called for what they really are. We can no longer hide the truth, for he who witnesses to the truth, the truth shall set him free.
I conclude with the Lord Christ's response to those who asked him to silence his disciples: "If my disciples went silent, the stones would speak".
Other Google's Definitions of Delusion:
Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)
Posted by News Service at 10:09 AM
"Hizbullah is part of Lebanese politics and must not be regarded as a terror organization, said the French Foreign Ministry in a statement Thursday night.
The statement was an apparent about-turn by France after President Nicolas Sarkozy said that Hizbullah was indeed a terrorist group when he met with the captured IDF soldiers' families in Paris last week. Thursday's statement was prompted by protests from Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah."
Posted by News Service at 3:29 AM
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said his visit to Israel with his Jordanian counterpart, planned for July 25, would only be on behalf of their respective countries.
"This is not a visit where the Arab League flag will be raised," Aboul Gheit told reporters. "This is a matter of principle."
On Wednesday the head of the 22-nation Arab League, Amr Moussa, also said the two foreign ministers would not be representing the League.
Posted by News Service at 2:32 PM
Zionism, Anti-Zionism and Post Zionism
A week ago, Haaretz published an article by Shlomo Avineri, a respected professor and former Director General of the Israeli Foreign Office. I tried to refute his views in a letter to the editor.
Being restricted by the format of a letter, my remarks were necessarily brief. Haaretz cut the letter even more. I am sending here the ...full (unabridged) text of my letter.
A letter of Uri Avnery
In response to The Lie of post-Zionism [Hebrew title of article] by
Shlomo Avineri (Haaretz 4/7)
In 1976, a Jerusalem periodical wrote that I and my colleagues - i.a. Gen. Matti Peled, Eliyahu Elyashar, Col. Meir Pa'il - the founders of the "Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace", are anti-Zionists. We sued them for libel, won the case and were awarded considerable compensations.
In the course of the proceedings, I testified at length, on the basis of my book "Israel Without Zionists". When the judge interrogated me about my attitude towards Zionism, I used, for the first time, the term "Post-Zionist".
"Post-Zionism" in its true meaning is a long way from "anti-Zionism". It recognizes Zionism's historical achievements: the formation of a new society, the revival of the Hebrew language and the creation of the state [of Israel.] It does this without ignoring the dark aspects the historical injustice done to the Palestinian people.
The essence of post-Zionism lies in recognizing that Zionism had fulfilled its role with the foundation of the State of Israel. Since then a new nation was born, the Israeli nation, composed of the citizens of Israel, much as the American nation is composed of the citizens of the United States. Jewish citizens feel a natural affinity to the Jewish world while Arab citizens feel a natural affinity to the Arab world.
An Israeli who is asked abroad "What are you?" answers automatically: "I am an Israeli." It would not enter his mind to say "I am a Jew", unless asked specifically about his religion.
David Ben-Gurion said that the Zionist Federation played the role of the scaffolding in the building of the state of Israel. That is true for Zionism as a whole. A building is not the anti-scaffolding, it is the post-scaffolding.
Posted by News Service at 5:36 AM
...[CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said]"the inability of the government to govern seems irreversible," adding that he could not "point to any milestone or checkpoint where we can turn this thing around,"
"The government is unable to govern," Hayden concluded. "We have spent a lot of energy and treasure creating a government that is balanced, and it cannot function."
Later in the interview, he qualified the statement somewhat: "A government that can govern, sustain and defend itself is not achievable," he said, "in the short term."
Hayden's bleak assessment, which came just a week after Republicans had lost control of Congress and Bush had dismissed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, was a pivotal moment in the [Iraq] study group's intensive examination of the Iraq war, and it helped shape its conclusion in its final report that the situation in Iraq was "grave and deteriorating."
Among the 79 specific recommendations the Iraq Study Group made to Bush was withdrawing support for the Maliki government unless it showed "substantial progress" on security and national reconciliation. And it recommended changing the primary mission of U.S. forces from combat to training Iraqis so that combat units could be withdrawn by early 2008.
Hayden's description of Iraq's dysfunctional government provides some insight into the intelligence community's analysis of Maliki and the situation on the ground. Five days before his testimony, national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley had written a memo to Bush raising doubts about Maliki's ability to curb violence in Iraq, but his assessment was not as bleak as Hayden's.
Asked by former Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a member of the study group, if she was aware of the CIA's grim evaluation of Iraq, Rice replied, "We are aware of the dark assessment," but quickly added: "It is not without hope."
It gets worse...
But we knew all that already. Anyone who did not understand the nature of the disaster in Iraq, has to be deaf, dumb and blind. It is not just the Iraqi government, unfortunately, that is at fault. It is defective and amateurish US intelligence, and policy decisions that result in turning a blind eye to Syrian and Iranian meddling. It is defective US administration that keeps pouring money into a black hole, and more.
One small comfort - a CIA Intelligence estimate in 1947 insisted that the Jews would lose a war against the Arabs of Palestine, even though it also erroneously predicted that Arab states would not fight!
Posted by News Service at 3:07 AM
In "Israel Academic Boycott threatens Academic Freedom," John Furedy takes issue with Israel academic boycott protesters who try to reverse boycotts based on Israel's presumed lack of innocence. That is not the point, he writes. The boycotts threaten everyone's academic freedom. Anyone should have the right to speak up as they wish on any topic.
That is his opinion, but do we really want to leave ourselves defenseless against professors who teach linkage between race and intelligence based on bad data, against Holocaust deniers and other miscreants? How about even less acceptable doctrines? Does a university have the right to fire a professor who teaches the flat earth theory? Does a theology journal have the right to reject an article that insists that Molokh is the real god, and human sacrifice is the only good form of worship?
You be the judge.
Radically principled vs. compromisingly political reactions
to the academic anti-Israeli boycott: "Welcome to the fight".
At end of the classic film, "Casablanca", when Rick finally decides to abandon his neutrality with regard to the Nazi and Vichy regimes, the resistance fighter Victor Laszlo says, "Welcome to the fight." Victor's words seem apt as the academic anti-Israeli boycott, that abuse of academic freedom, continues. Anti-Semitism and other dark impulses may likely motivate the boycott. Whatever the motives for the boycott may be, however, the boycott threatens the central mission of any genuine university. That mission is the search for truth through the conflict of ideas. For academics, then, a phrase from the theme song of Casablanca is also relevant: "The fundamental things apply."
Opposition to the boycott, indeed, is incumbent on all who value a free society, in which freedom of speech is a central tenet. This tenet was recently formulated by Nathan Sharansky, who distinguished between free and "fear" or totalitarian societies. He noted that in a free society, even the most outrageous opinions can be publicly stated without fear of criminal punishment.
For those who believe in a free society, then, academic freedom on campus and freedom of speech off campus should be closely related. In particular, non- academics should not make the mistake of treating academic freedom as merely an "ivory tower" issue. Another mistake is to minimize the boycott on the grounds that it merely places Israeli professors in a sort of academic Coventry. The essence of academic freedom is, as I have argued, the right of all members of the academic community (students and faculty) to be evaluated solely on their academic performance, and not at all on their politics, religion, or citizenship. The boycott denies this right, and is therefore properly labeled an abuse of academic freedom. Those who are not direct victims of this abuse (in this instance those who do not hold Israeli citizenship or are not Jews) should not treat the boycott with indifference, or worse still, join, even in a partial way, those who threaten academic freedom. Like justice, freedom is indivisible.
Read the rest at Israel Academic Boycott threatens Academic Freedom
Posted by News Service at 2:48 AM
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
In recent years a phenomenon called "post-Zionism" has developed in the political-intellectual discourse in Israel. Fundamentally, this is a radical criticism not just of Israel's policy; at its base is total denial of the Zionist project and of the very legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish nation-state.
Definitions of post-Zionism are hard to find, and when they appear they are often not consensual. Supporters and detractors attribute to it different and sometimes conflicting meanings. Chaim Waxman (1997) identifies three contrasting contributions to the term. The first is the anti-colonial argument sustained by old radical 'anti-Zionist' groups in Israel. The second results from a generational change in Israeli universities, as the generation of the 'founding fathers' retires and a new more 'eclectic' generation takes over. The third contribution results from an 'a-Zionist' interrogation of fundamental questions of Jewish nationalism, Judaism and ethnicity questions that, according to Waxman, accompanied the Zionist enterprise from its origins.
The arguments called "post-Zionist" have various aspects - not only political but also cultural. They view Zionism as a colonial phenomenon, not as a national movement that is contending with another, Palestinian, national movement over its claim to the same territory. Some of those who are called "post-Zionists" go even further in their argument that the very existence of a Jewish people is a "narrative" that was invented in the 19th century, and that the Jews are at base a religious community. The attitude of Zionism, which has most of its roots in Europe, toward Jews from the Muslim countries is also perceived in the context of colonial exploitation.
This approach also wants to de- legitimize Zionism's conceptual world: Because some of the so-called "post-Zionist" arguments are drawn from the post-modernist discourse, their spokespersons understand that the terms they use have a force of their own. He who controls the terms controls the debate. Therefore they insist on referring in Hebrew to pre-1948 Eretz Israel as "Palestine;" Jews who come to live here, whom Zionist discourse calls "olim" (from the Hebrew root "to ascend"), are "immigrants," and so on.
At the same time, those who are careful not to accept the Zionist narrative sometimes accept the Palestinian narrative without question. To them it is clear that there is a Palestinian people, that what happened in 1948 is exactly what the Arabs say happened, and that in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict there is, on the one hand, a Zionist "narrative," and on the other, "facts" that are precisely identical to the Palestinian narrative. This of course is absolute folly, and contradicts the principles of post-modernism itself.
But there is also another aspect to all this: Those who call themselves "post-Zionists" are simply anti-Zionists of the old sort. The term "post-Zionism" sounds as though it is something innovative, which came after Zionism. However, here lies a grave mistake: For the term "post-Zionism" to be meaningful, it is necessary to start out from the acceptance of Zionism as a fact and a reality and to try to go beyond it. Thus, for example, post-modern criticism starts out from the acceptance of modernity, grapples with its dialectical outcomes and its contradictions and tries to go beyond it. This is not the case for those who call themselves "post-Zionists": They do not see Zionism and the State of Israel as a reality that has come to pass, but rather as something that is not legitimate from the outset and that must be eliminated down to its very foundations.
However, in this their claims are identical to those of the old-style anti-Zionists. These were, for example, the classical arguments Communists and to some extent also those of the Bundists: that there is no Jewish people (see, for example, Stalin's doctrine), that Zionism is an ally of imperialism and that the Palestinian Arabs are victims of Zionist aggression. Not all of these arguments are entirely baseless, and those who disagreed with them also knew that the debate was a legitimate one.
There is no reason not to repeat these arguments today, if one considers them to be correct. The intellectual dishonesty is in the attempt to create a sense of something new, supposedly "post" and fashionable: This is simply an old car they are trying to sell as though it has just this minute come off the production line of the latest intellectual innovations.
Posted by News Service at 4:22 PM
Posted by News Service at 8:22 AM
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
What About Muslim Moderates?
Washington DC, July 10, 2007/Jim Woolsey & Nina Shea - The Wall Street Journal/ -- Islamist terrorism has led the American and British governments in the past month to launch separate public diplomacy programs aimed at engaging Muslims at home and abroad. A quick comparison shows the two initiatives are headed in opposite directions. At least the Brits have finally got it right.
The Bush administration is building bridges to well-funded and self-publicized organizations that claim to speak for all Muslims, even though some of those groups espouse views inimical to American values and interests. After years of pursuing similar strategies -- while seeing home-based terrorists proliferate -- the Blair-Brown government is now more discerning about which Muslims it will partner with. Stating that "lip service for peace" is no longer sufficient, the British are identifying and elevating those who are willing to take clear stands against terrorism and its supporting ideology.
Thus, in a major address at a two-day government conference early last month (titled "Islam and Muslims in the World Today"), then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, with Gordon Brown in attendance and hosting a reception, vowed to correct an imbalance. He stated that, in Britain's Muslim community, unrepresentative but well-funded groups are able to attract disproportionately large amounts of publicity, while moderate voices go unheard and unpublished.
Mr. Blair emphasized that Islam is not a "monolithic faith," but one made up of a "rich pattern of diversity." The principal purpose of the conference, Mr. Blair stressed, was to "let the authentic voices of Islam, in their various schools and manifestations, speak for themselves." He was as good as his word.
Invitations to participate in the assembly were extended to the less-publicized, moderate groups, such as the Sufi Muslim Council, the British Muslim Foundation and Minhaj-ul-Quran. Notably absent from the program was the Muslim Council of Britain, a group that claims to represent that nation's Muslims but is preoccupied with its self-described struggle against "Islamophobia" -- a term it tries to use to shut down critical analysis of anything Islamic, whether legitimate or bigoted.
Also dropped from the speaking roster was the leading European Islamist Tariq Ramadan, who, while denied a visa by the United States, has been a fixture at official conferences on Muslims in Europe. The grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Mr. Ramadan is fuzzy on where he stands on specific acts of terror -- and he infamously evaded a challenge by Nicolas Sarkozy to denounce stoning.
Mr. Blair committed funds to improve the teaching of Islamic studies in British universities; announced a new effort to develop "minimum standards" for imams in Britain; and, most significantly, declared that henceforth the government would be giving "priority, in its support and funding decisions, to those leadership organizations actively working to tackle violent extremism." Routine but vague press releases against terrorism would no longer do.
A few days later, British backbone was demonstrated again with the knighting of novelist Salman Rushdie. Since 1989, when Iran's mullahs pronounced one of his works "blasphemous," Mr. Rushdie has lived under the shadow of a death threat, the first fatwa with universal jurisdiction against a Muslim living in the West. With the news that Britain would honor him, extremist Muslims rioted. But many Western Muslim reformers, increasingly threatened by death threats and murderous fatwas themselves, cheered the Brits. Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Dutch parliamentarian who was born a Muslim in Somalia, wrote: "The queen has honored the freedom of conscience and creativity cherished in the West."
On the eve of his departure from office, Mr. Blair gave a television interview taking on those he once courted -- British Islamists who have been quick to level charges of Islamophobia and oppression against Britain and the United States: "The reason we are finding it hard to win this battle [against terror] is that we're not actually fighting it properly. We're not actually standing up to these people and saying, 'It's not just your methods that are wrong, your ideas are absurd. Nobody is oppressing you. Your sense of grievance isn't justified.' . . . Some of what is written on this is loopy-loo in its extremism."
Contrast this with the Bush administration's new approach. On June 27, President Bush delivered his "Muslim Initiative" address at the Washington Islamic Center in tribute to the 50th anniversary of that organization's founding, by Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism is the state religion of Saudi Arabia, and its extremist ideology often flows with the kingdom's money. The Islamic Center is not an exception.
A few years ago when we were with Freedom House, concerned Muslims brought us Saudi educational material they collected from the Washington Islamic Center that instructed Muslims fundamentally to segregate themselves from other Americans. One such text stated: "To be dissociated from the infidels is to hate them for their religion, to leave them, never to rely on them for support, not to admire them, to be on one's guard against them, never to imitate them, and to always oppose them in every way according to Islamic law."
Though Mr. Bush's remarks were intended for all American Muslims, the administration left the invitation list to Washington Islamic Center's authorities. Predictably, they excluded the truly moderate, who are not Saudi-founded or funded: the Islamic Supreme Council of America, the American Islamic Congress, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, the Center for Eurasian Policy, the Center for Islamic Pluralism, the Islam and Democracy Project, the Institute for Gulf Affairs, the Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia and many others.
These organizations are frequently shut out of U.S. government events and appointments on the basis that they are considered insignificant or "controversial" by the petro-dollar-funded groups. The administration makes a terrible mistake by making such Wahhabi-influenced institutions as the Washington Islamic Center the gate keepers for all American Muslims.
The actual substance of Mr. Bush's mosque speech -- particularly good on religious freedom -- was overshadowed by the announcement of its single initiative: America is to send an envoy to the Organization of Islamic Conference. Based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, the OIC was created explicitly to promote hostility to Israel, and its meetings largely consist of ritualistic Israel-bashing. At one last year, Iran's president called for the "elimination of the Zionist regime." It has no mechanism for discussing the human rights of its member states, and thus has never spoken out against Sudan's genocide of Darfuri Muslims. It is advancing an effort to universalize Islamic blasphemy laws, which are applied as often against speech critical of the governments of OIC member states as against profanities. Last month the OIC council of foreign ministers termed Islamophobia "the worst form of terrorism." Currently no Western power holds either member or observer status at the OIC.
The Bush administration is now actively considering whether its public diplomacy should reach out to Muslim Brotherhood groups. While such groups may pay lip service to peace, they do not denounce terror by Hamas, a Brotherhood offshoot. It keeps as its motto: "Allah is our objective, the Prophet is our leader, the Koran is our law, jihad is our way, dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." By choosing those whose definition of terror does not include the murder of Jews, honor killings and lethal fatwas against Muslim dissidents and reformers, the U.S. government makes them look strong -- particularly in the shame-and-honor culture of the Middle East -- and strengthens their hand against the real moderates and reformers.
Great Britain, as we were reminded over the past week, has much work ahead in defeating Muslim terror, as well as in overcoming the misguided form of multiculturalism of its recent past. Not all of Britain's measures will be right for America, with our First Amendment. But the British Labour Party socialists appear to have done one major thing right that this American Republican administration has not: Reach out to Muslim leaders who are demonstrably moderate and share our values, even though they may not have petrodollar-funded publicity machines.
While we don't have a Queen to dub knights, Americans do have distinct way of honoring our heroes. Mr. President, confer the Medal of Freedom on one of our own outstanding Muslim-American citizens. For a selection of honorees, look at who was not invited to your recent speech. If Islamists charge "Islamophobia," repeat after Tony: "Loopy loo. Loopy loo."
Mr. Woolsey, co-chair of the Committee on the Present Danger, was Director of Central Intelligence 1993-1995. Ms. Shea is the director of the Center for Religious Freedom of the Hudson Institute.
Posted by News Service at 4:17 PM
"You can't build a whole policy on a fear of a negative, but, boy, you've really got to account for it," Mr. Crocker said Saturday in an interview at his office in Saddam Hussein's old Republican Palace, now the seat of American power here. Setting out what he said was not a policy prescription but a review of issues that needed to be weighed, the ambassador compared Iraq's current violence to the early scenes of a gruesome movie. "In the States, it's like we're in the last half of the third reel of a three-reel movie, and all we have to do is decide we're done here, and the credits come up, and the lights come on, and we leave the theater and go on to something else," he said. "Whereas out here, you're just getting into the first reel of five reels," he added, "and as ugly as the first reel has been, the other four and a half are going to be way, way worse." Hoshyar Zebari, the foreign minister, sounded a similar warning at a Baghdad news conference on Monday. "The dangers vary from civil war to dividing the country or maybe to regional wars," he said, referring to an American withdrawal. "In our estimation the danger is huge. Until the Iraqi forces and institutions complete their readiness, there is a responsibility on the U.S. and other countries to stand by the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people to help build up their capabilities." ... Mr. Crocker, a career diplomat,, seemed eager to emphasize that the report he and Gen. David H. Petraeus are to make in September an event Mr. Bush and his war critics have presented as a watershed moment would represent their professional judgment, unburdened by any reflex to back administration policy. In the interview, which was requested by The New York Times, he said, "We'll give the best assessment we can, and the most honest." Unusually for American officials here, who have generally avoided any comparisons between the situation in Iraq and the war in Vietnam, he compared the task that he and General Petraeus face in reporting back in September to the one faced by Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker and Gen. Creighton W. Abrams Jr., the two top Americans in Vietnam when the decisions that led to the American withdrawal there were made nearly 40 years ago. General Petraeus, too, has warned in recent months that while there is a high price for staying in Iraq, including mounting American casualties, the price for leaving could be higher than many war critics have acknowledged. Some opponents of the war have argued the contrary, saying that keeping American troops in Iraq provokes much of the violence and that withdrawing could force Iraq's feuding politicians into burying their sectarian differences. In the interview, Mr. Crocker said he based his warning about what might happen if American troops left on the realities he has seen in the four months since he took up the Baghdad post, a knowledge of Iraq and its violent history dating back to a previous Baghdad posting more than 25 years ago, and lessons learned during an assignment in Beirut in the early 1980s. Then, he said, a "failure of imagination" made it impossible to foresee the extreme violence that enveloped Lebanon as it descended into civil war. He added, "And I'm sure what will happen here exceeds my imagination." On the potential for worsening violence after an American withdrawal from Iraq, he said: "You have to look at what the consequences would be, and you look at those who say we could have bases elsewhere in the country. Well yes, we could, but we would have the prospect of American forces looking on while civilians by the thousands were slaughtered. Not a pretty prospect." In setting out what he called "the kind of things you have to think about" before an American troop withdrawal, the ambassador cited several possibilities. He said these included a resurgence by the insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which he said had been "pretty hard-pressed of late" by the additional 30,000 troops Mr. Bush ordered deployed here this year; the risk that Iraq's 350,000-strong security forces would "completely collapse" under sectarian pressures, disintegrating into militias; and the specter of interference by Iran, neighboring Sunni Arab states and Turkey. That may be true, but there is an ominous note to this insight by the ambassador: The ambassador also suggested what is likely to be another core element of the approach that he and General Petraeus will take to the September report: that the so-called benchmarks for Iraqi government performance set by Congress in a defense authorization bill this spring may not be the best way of assessing whether the United States has a partner in the Baghdad government that warrants continued American military backing. "The longer I'm here, the more I'm persuaded that Iraq cannot be analyzed by these kind of discrete benchmarks," he said... Perhaps it is true. But there have to be some benchmarks that you can use to measure Iraqi progress, and for that matter, American progress. Hoshyar Zebari said, "Until the Iraqi forces and institutions complete their readiness, there is a responsibility on the U.S. and other countries to stand by the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people to help build up their capabilities." But how do we know Iraqi forces and institutions are completing their readiness or making any progress at all, without benchmarks? What evidence is there that anything at all has gotten better in Iraq?? Ami Isseroff
"You can't build a whole policy on a fear of a negative, but, boy, you've really got to account for it," Mr. Crocker said Saturday in an interview at his office in Saddam Hussein's old Republican Palace, now the seat of American power here. Setting out what he said was not a policy prescription but a review of issues that needed to be weighed, the ambassador compared Iraq's current violence to the early scenes of a gruesome movie.
"In the States, it's like we're in the last half of the third reel of a three-reel movie, and all we have to do is decide we're done here, and the credits come up, and the lights come on, and we leave the theater and go on to something else," he said. "Whereas out here, you're just getting into the first reel of five reels," he added, "and as ugly as the first reel has been, the other four and a half are going to be way, way worse."
Hoshyar Zebari, the foreign minister, sounded a similar warning at a Baghdad news conference on Monday. "The dangers vary from civil war to dividing the country or maybe to regional wars," he said, referring to an American withdrawal. "In our estimation the danger is huge. Until the Iraqi forces and institutions complete their readiness, there is a responsibility on the U.S. and other countries to stand by the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people to help build up their capabilities."
... Mr. Crocker, a career diplomat,, seemed eager to emphasize that the report he and Gen. David H. Petraeus are to make in September an event Mr. Bush and his war critics have presented as a watershed moment would represent their professional judgment, unburdened by any reflex to back administration policy.
In the interview, which was requested by The New York Times, he said, "We'll give the best assessment we can, and the most honest." Unusually for American officials here, who have generally avoided any comparisons between the situation in Iraq and the war in Vietnam, he compared the task that he and General Petraeus face in reporting back in September to the one faced by Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker and Gen. Creighton W. Abrams Jr., the two top Americans in Vietnam when the decisions that led to the American withdrawal there were made nearly 40 years ago.
General Petraeus, too, has warned in recent months that while there is a high price for staying in Iraq, including mounting American casualties, the price for leaving could be higher than many war critics have acknowledged. Some opponents of the war have argued the contrary, saying that keeping American troops in Iraq provokes much of the violence and that withdrawing could force Iraq's feuding politicians into burying their sectarian differences.
In the interview, Mr. Crocker said he based his warning about what might happen if American troops left on the realities he has seen in the four months since he took up the Baghdad post, a knowledge of Iraq and its violent history dating back to a previous Baghdad posting more than 25 years ago, and lessons learned during an assignment in Beirut in the early 1980s. Then, he said, a "failure of imagination" made it impossible to foresee the extreme violence that enveloped Lebanon as it descended into civil war. He added, "And I'm sure what will happen here exceeds my imagination."
On the potential for worsening violence after an American withdrawal from Iraq, he said: "You have to look at what the consequences would be, and you look at those who say we could have bases elsewhere in the country. Well yes, we could, but we would have the prospect of American forces looking on while civilians by the thousands were slaughtered. Not a pretty prospect."
In setting out what he called "the kind of things you have to think about" before an American troop withdrawal, the ambassador cited several possibilities. He said these included a resurgence by the insurgent group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which he said had been "pretty hard-pressed of late" by the additional 30,000 troops Mr. Bush ordered deployed here this year; the risk that Iraq's 350,000-strong security forces would "completely collapse" under sectarian pressures, disintegrating into militias; and the specter of interference by Iran, neighboring Sunni Arab states and Turkey.
That may be true, but there is an ominous note to this insight by the ambassador:
The ambassador also suggested what is likely to be another core element of the approach that he and General Petraeus will take to the September report: that the so-called benchmarks for Iraqi government performance set by Congress in a defense authorization bill this spring may not be the best way of assessing whether the United States has a partner in the Baghdad government that warrants continued American military backing. "The longer I'm here, the more I'm persuaded that Iraq cannot be analyzed by these kind of discrete benchmarks," he said...
Perhaps it is true. But there have to be some benchmarks that you can use to measure Iraqi progress, and for that matter, American progress. Hoshyar Zebari said, "Until the Iraqi forces and institutions complete their readiness, there is a responsibility on the U.S. and other countries to stand by the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people to help build up their capabilities." But how do we know Iraqi forces and institutions are completing their readiness or making any progress at all, without benchmarks? What evidence is there that anything at all has gotten better in Iraq??
Posted by News Service at 1:26 PM
July 10 (Bloomberg) -- An operation by Pakistani troops to end a standoff with militants at Islamabad's Red Mosque was ``almost over'' late today after deputy chief cleric Abdul Rashid Ghazi was killed in crossfire, an army spokesman said.
The assault was in the ``final stages,'' the spokesman, Major General Waheed Arshad, said in a phone interview from the capital. ``We have control over 90 percent of the complex. Some militants are still resisting,'' he said.
The dispute began in April when chief cleric Maulana Muhammad Abdul Aziz, Ghazi's brother, established a religious court at the Red Mosque, or Lal Masjid, to try to bring the Pakistani capital under Islamic law. Today's raid started when troops poured into the southern side of the complex, after 11 hours of talks between the government and Ghazi failed.
Posted by News Service at 10:14 AM
But Olmert, speaking at a joint press conference with Prodi, said, "Israel's position is clear: we will never be able to resign ourselves to the possibility that a state threatening the destruction of Israel will have nuclear capabilities.""Iran, through the voice of its president [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, calls almost daily for the destruction of the State of Israel. A country like this cannot, under any circumstances, possess unconventional capabilities, and everything must be done to prevent this," Olmert continued.At the press conference, held at Olmert's Jerusalem residence, Prodi echoed the prime minister, saying "Iran must not develop nuclear military capability. Because Iran is a regional power, it must act responsibly, and give up any nuclear military program."
Posted by News Service at 9:08 AM
July 9, 2007, 12:37 PM (GMT+02:00) www.debka.com
Damascus is also moving home Syrian students at Lebanese universities due to "unstable conditions."
Our Washington sources connect the cancellation of defense secretary Robert M. Gates four-tour national Latin American tour this week, among other things, to the deteriorating security situation in the Middle East and Gulf.
Sunday, DEBKAfile disclosed that Iran, Syria Hizballah feared stoking major conflagration in Lebanon to forestall Security Council reprimand on July 16. Saudi and Lebanese intelligence report sighting hectic preparations by Iran, Syria and the Hizballah to foment major trouble in Lebanon up to and after mid-July. They intend the eruption to throw off track the July 16 UN Security Council session called to castigate their non-implementation of its Resolution 1701, especially their defiance of the clauses banning the continued arms smuggling to Hizballah from Iran and Syria.
Our Washington sources report that ahead of the session, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appealed to a number of European and Asian governments for contingents to bolster the UN force patrolling South Lebanon. None refused outright, only explaining they were short of military manpower. This would also apply to the United States.
DEBKAfile's intelligence sources expect the ructions already gripping Lebanon to escalate from mid-July and climax in the first week of September, when the pro-Syrian president Emil Lahoud ends his tenure. Damascus, Tehran and Hizballah are aiming to bring down the pro-Western Fouad Siniora's government in Beirut or at least shrink its jurisdiction to a number of neighborhoods in the capital similar to Nouri al Maliki's administration in Baghdad.
Word has reached Riyadh from Damascus indicating that president Bashar Assad plans to use the showdown in Lebanon to ignite war clashes in all of Lebanon and against Israel on two fronts, the Golan and the Gaza Strip.
Posted by News Service at 8:45 AM
Twenty British lawmakers want to engage Hamas after its help in freeing BBC reporter Alan Johnston in Gaza
BBC reporter Alan Johnston freed in Gaza July 4
They include MPs from all three parties including Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond. Their petition said Hamas because of its pivotal role in ending the kidnap should join Palestinian reconciliation efforts. The motion was tabled by the ruling Labor's Richard Burton. Hamas is boycotted by western powers as an extremist terrorist group dedicated to destroying Israel by violence. The Israeli soldier Gilead Shalit whom Hamas-led raiders kidnapped a year ago is still in captivity.
Posted by News Service at 7:37 AM
The Iranian judiciary says a man has been stoned to death for adultery - the first time it has confirmed such an execution in five years. Jafar Kiani was executed last week in a village in north-west Qazvin province.
Posted by News Service at 7:11 AM
Monday, July 9, 2007
It's Hard to be an Arab
Prof. Barry Rubin - 7/5/2007
Once, many years ago, I stood outside the door of a Middle East Studies Association meeting addressed by the late Edward Said as he thundered against those he deemed "the enemies of the Arabs." He even provided a list of names. Strange it was to think this was supposedly an academic meeting, not a rally of some extremist totalitarian political party.
Supposedly, there are those who love the Arabs and their cause and those who hate them. It is common to see the "supporters" as those who extol or apologize for the dictatorships that oppress Arab peoples; the "resistance" which blows them up; steals their children to be suicide bombers or fighters in futile battles; radicals who urge them to fight to the death; and journalists who make good livings by lying to them.
Pretty ironic, isn't it?
While many experiences have prompted these observations, the two latest ones are Hamas's triumph in the Gaza Strip (due to be followed by horrendous repression and a Taliban-style regime) and a statement by Kuwaiti parliament speaker Jassem al-Kharafi explaining that his and other Arab countries "have no fear" about Iran having nuclear capabilities, adding that Iran was obviously seeking nuclear technology for solely peaceful purposes.
Imagine his situation. The Kuwaitis went through a terrible invasion and looting by Iraq in 1990-1991 and are no doubt quaking at what could happen to them if Iran has the bomb. Not that Tehran would drop it on them but because they would do anything to save themselves from being obliterated, hopping to Iran's every demand.
Come to think of it, though, they tirelessly appeased Iraq before the invasion. Poets wrote odes to Saddam Hussein's greatness, Kuwaitis strained to prove their Arab nationalism, and of course the money flowed freely. It's a tough, stressful life.
You cannot even speak up in your own self-defense.
A few years ago, a Lebanese friend of mine living abroad was invited to come home by the son of his country's president. When he told his aunt of the planned visit, she told him in no uncertain terms that he dare not set foot in the country. "Even if the president himself is your host, any Syrian sergeant can throw you into prison," she said. Last week, I heard the same story from a Lebanese journalist, except now the threat isn't a Syrian prison but a Syrian assassination team.
At best, you have to keep your mouth shut; at worst you have to sing the praise of your dictators, those leading you to disaster. What if you are Palestinian or Lebanese and terrorists chose to use the roof of your house to fire rockets at Israelis? Do you run upstairs and tell these desperate armed men to stop shooting and go away? Can you even dare criticize them publicly after your home gets blown up in an attack?
Periodically, people think they have scored some point when they tell me that polls show ordinary Palestinians want peace with Israel and an end to the fighting. That may well be true, I respond, but do their leaders and all those gunmen care at all for how these people feel? And these are the forces ensuring that there be no two-state solution and end to the endless violence from which they benefit.
Years ago, when Saddam Hussein was still in office, I was asked to address a visiting delegation of Arab journalists. The other American speakers gave the standard blah-blah. We felt their pain, we were working to resolve the Israel-Palestinian issue, we were sensitive to their Arab nationalist sentiments.
Having no ambition to hold high political office, I decided to introduce a dose of reality. Let's face it, I explained, we know that your real enemy isn't Israel or the United States but the regimes in Libya, Iraq, Syria, Iran, as well as Yasir Arafat and others. They are the ones who take away your rights, wreck your societies, destroy your dreams. Afterward I was mobbed--in the friendliest sense possible--by the audience who all wanted to thank me and say that they agreed.
It is heart-breaking. What do you say to a Syrian dissident who is facing prison and quite possibly torture? Can you tell him that the West will support him, that journalists will condemn the regime that beats him, Middle East experts will give papers at conferences praising his work, U.S. congressional delegations won't visit unless he is freed, or European governments will demand his release?
How can one not feel the misery of the Arab peoples, intoxicated as many are by the opiate of Arab nationalism and Islamism, the false promises of impending triumphs and the horror stories of satanic foes?
How can one not sympathize with the frustration of real moderates who live in societies where they are treated as madmen and traitors?
And how can one not feel the utmost disgust at those living comfortably in the West who celebrate or advocate their own countries' surrender to all the evil forces holding them down and back?
Prof. Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary university. His new book is The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).
Full text at: http://globalpolitician.com/articledes.asp?ID=3049&cid=2&sid=44
Posted by News Service at 8:43 AM
White House officials fear that the last pillars of political support among Senate for President Bush's strategy are collapsing around them, according to several administration officials and outsiders they are consulting. They say that inside the administration, debate is intensifying over whether Mr. Bush should try to prevent more defections by announcing his intention to begin a gradual withdrawal of American troops from the high-casualty neighborhoods of Baghdad and other cities.Mr. Bush and his aides once thought they could wait to begin those discussions until after Sept. 15, when the top field commander and the new American ambassador to Baghdad are scheduled to report on the effectiveness of the troop increase that the president announced in January. But suddenly, some of Mr. Bush's aides acknowledge, it appears that forces are combining against him just as the Senate prepares this week to begin what promises to be a contentious debate on the war's future and financing.
Four more Republican senators have recently declared that they can no longer support Mr. Bush's strategy, including senior lawmakers who until now had expressed their doubts only privately. As a result, some aides are now telling Mr. Bush that if he wants to forestall more defections, it would be wiser to announce plans for a far more narrowly defined mission for American troops that would allow for a staged pullback, a strategy that he rejected in December as a prescription for defeat when it was proposed by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group.
"When you count up the votes that we've lost and the votes we're likely to lose over the next few weeks, it looks pretty grim," said one senior official, who, like others involved in the discussions, would not speak on the record about internal White House deliberations.
Posted by News Service at 1:39 AM
Posted by News Service at 1:31 AM
Sunday, July 8, 2007
RIYADH (Reuters) - A religious edict by a prominent Saudi cleric suggesting liberals are not real Muslims has enflamed debate over reforms in the conservative Islamic state, with self-professed liberals fearing they will be attacked.
Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries that rules by strict application of Islamic law, giving clerics a powerful position in society, but Islamists fear that liberal reformers are gaining ground under the rule of King Abdullah.
Posted by News Service at 6:20 AM