Saturday, August 18, 2007

Al Qaeda Dislocates US Security Plan by Genocidal Massacre

Four suicide bombers in a single attack in Iraq kill aproximately the same number of persons as the earthquake in Peru: 500.

This time, Al Qaeda in Iraq selected a tiny, isolated, unprotected community of some 150,000 Yazidi Kurds, persecuted by Sunni and Shiite Muslims alike, as the victims of its barbarity. Tuesday, Aug. 14, within minutes, three oil tankers driven by suicide bombers had murdered at least 500 people, injured more than 1,000 and transformed an ancient indigenous Iraqi sect into a humanitarian problem.

While rescuers were still digging bodies out of the rubble of their destroyed homes in Qataniya and Adnaniya near Mosul, tens of thousands snatched their remaining belongings and streamed to the Syrian border.

Complete article: Al Qaeda Dislocates US Security Plan by Genocidal Massacre

Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru.


For internal consumption: Iranian rulers don't like USA, Israel

Iran's government leverages on US and Israeli anti-Iran moves to gain support at home. We can learn this from an AP article in the Jerusalem Post:    
Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday that Israel was the standard bearer of Satan and the Jewish state would soon fall apart, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Saturday.
...the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards said they would not bow to pressure and threatened to "punch" the US, in their first response to Washington's plan to list them as a terrorist organization, newspapers reported Saturday.

Local newspapers in the Iranian capital of Teheran quoted Revolutionary Guards leader Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi saying that he could understand Washington's ire towards the group because of their recent successes against the US.

"America will receive a heavier punch from the guards in the future," he was quoted as saying in the conservative daily Kayhan. "We will never remain silent in the face of US pressure and we will use our leverage against them."

The fact that the remarks, made on Thursday in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, appeared in local newspapers rather than the official state news outlets suggest the comments are for domestic consumption.

"For internal use only." The guards, and perhaps Ahmadinejad, are fighting an internal political fight for survival against more moderate forces.
Ami Isseroff

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Ahmadinejd: Rule of Islam only way for salvation of mankind

Am I the only one who finds this scary?

President: Rule of Islam only way for salvation of mankind
Kabul, Aug 14, IRNA

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said here Tuesday that rule of Islam on
mankind is the only way for salvation of human beings.

"There is no truth on earth but monotheism and following tenets of Islam and
there is no way for salvation of mankind but rule of Islam over mankind,"
said Ahmadinejad in a meeting with Afghan Sunni and Shiite ulama at Iranian
Embassy in Kabul.

President Ahmadinejad said nations are today distancing themselves from
culture of materialism and selfishness and look for a new way for their
prosperity, that is the path of Islam.

He said that the world is on verge of a great upheaval and ulama at this
juncture shoulder a heavy responsibility that is introducing genuine Islam
as it is.
"Nations today have no haven but religion," the Iranian president announced,
cautioning Muslim nations against enemies' divisive plots.

He said, "All of us have the duty to resist the enemy by closing our ranks."

He said that the Iranian nation today feels more than ever the need to stand
beside the Afghan nation.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran has kindly received their Afghan brothers and
will continue to do so in future. Minor issues will cannot affect Iran's
policies on Afghanistan," he added.

The president said Islam belongs to all generations and Muslims should get
ready for global mission of Islam.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

India's Jews

There's no question that India's secularism is under strain. Militant Hinduism remains as much a potent force as extremist Islam. The ongoing bloodletting in Kashmir is an open sore, and the periodic spasms of communal violence in Gujarat, combined with memories of the Mumbai bombings of 2006, have led to undeniable tensions. Just have a chat sometime with a Kashmiri Pandit--a Hindu displaced from that war-torn region--and you will know what I mean.

Yet this country of 1 billion largely impoverished people, home of the second-largest Muslim population in the world, still manages to maintain a sturdy system of democracy based on respect for religious and ethnic diversity. In the U.S., diversity is a politically correct slogan. In India it is a historical fact. Much as we in the West may resent it, India has a lot to teach us when it comes to religious tolerance.
Complete article: India's Jews

Thomas Braun, Lima, Peru



Springtime for Osama and Nasrallah: the banality of evil and ordinary people

In Daily Star, Rami Khouri writes about The epic story of Arab ordinariness. His complaint is that the Arabs are really very ordinary and nice people, and it is only Western journalists who manage to seek out and find every little fault:
...I was able to contrast this Western news-anchored view of a troubled Middle East with the personal experiences of two graduate student friends of our sons who came to the Middle East for a two-week vacation this month.
They visited four different corners of the Arab world - Dubai, Beirut, South Lebanon and Damascus...
The experiences of our American friends and the coverage of these regions in the mainstream American and Western press are as different as night and day. On the ground in the region, the visitor sees and experiences the full range of issues that define contemporary Arab society, the good and the bad together: extremism and compassion, suspicion and hospitality, destruction and construction, tension and relaxation, political concerns and the assertion of a powerful humanism, anger at American policy but also a warm embrace of individual Americans.

Especially in places like Damascus, Beirut and South Lebanon, visitors from abroad experience the nuances and subtleties of daily life, political sentiments and social-cultural dynamics that unfortunately are largely missing from the global media's reporting on our region.
Global reporting about the Middle East has presented it almost exclusively as an arena of aberration and violence, seen primarily through the lens of conflict and extremism, emotionalism, exaggerated religiosity, and deep ethnic or religious prejudice. The underlying human rhythms, prevailing moral norms, and routine cultural and political values of the 500 million or so Arabs, Iranians, Kurds and Turks are not presented accurately or fully.
Rami, people can get used to anything, and when they do, they consider it, and themselves to be "ordinary." I wonder if you are acquainted with the story, "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson. It is about a town that holds a lottery each year. A very ordinary town with ordinary people. They have always held this lottery. It is a custom. Each year they choose one person to be stoned to death. For them, it is "ordinary." For you, dictatorships, terrorism, gangsterism, assassination, religious fanaticism and racism are just part of the scenery.
After all, what could be wrong in a place like Damascus, which hatches plots to murder foreign polticians? Beirut and South Lebanon are so ordinary. Isn't it the case that opposition politicians are murdered on a fairly regular basis in every country? Doesn't every country have a region of dug-in military fortifications manned by gangster religious fanatics who participate in the government? Doesn't every ethnic group in the world take it into their heads, once in a while, to lob suicide bombing kidnapped airplanes at skyscrapers? And of course, in Paris and New York and even in Tel Aviv and Moscow, it is clear that once in a while the powers that be decide to wipe out the opposition, cut them up into steaks and send them to their families. Aren't most leaders elected in one-candidate elections? Doesn't everyone in the world have a copy of Protocols of the elders of Zion?
And let us not neglect this too:
... prevailing moral norms, and routine cultural and political values of the 500 million or so Arabs, Iranians, Kurds and Turks are not presented accurately or fully
Consider the prevailing moral norms in Iran, where homosexuals are hanged, as an example. It is an ordinary sort of thing entirely. I don't know why you dragged the Turks and  Kurds into this, as they do seem to be ordinary and decent people by most standards, and the Iranians, while not too ordinary, are not Arabs either. Unfortunately there are extremists in Turkey and problems between Turkey and Kurds, and these must be reported as news. "Ahmed and his friends had breakfast today and discussed the football results" is not news, so it doesn't get reported. "Ahmed and his friends got blown to kingdom come while discussing the football scores" is more likely to be reported.
If you live in stench for a long time, you get used to the smell. Tom Friedman recounted the tale of the Beirut housewife, who, during the civil war, asked her guests whether they preferred to have dinner now, or wait until after the evening gunfire. You get used to everything. For you Rami, this sort of thing is normal apparently.
There is a Hebrew joke, perhaps originally Arabic or Russian, who knows? - with a universal message: 
"Baby snake asks mamma snake, 'Am I venomous too'?" Everyone thinks they are ordinary and every society thinks that what they do is ordinary. After all, they eat, they work, they sleep, they raise children. The wife of the Reichsfuhrer SS who knitted socks for the Winter Hilfe to help the boys on the front considered herself an ordinary person, and the mother of the suicide bomber is an ordinary person, and the mothers of Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir as well. And all these ordinary people admire the "ordinary" deeds of their monstrous sons. Stalin was a regular sort of fellow too. The ante-bellum USA southland was really an ordinary place, with high moral values, except for the detail that they had African slaves.  
Why indeed are Western journalists persecuting the poor Arabs for no reason? Perhaps you should write a musical, "Springtime for Bin-Laden, a romp with Osama and the gang in Bora-Bora."
Ami Isseroff

Sunday, August 12, 2007

British lawmakers for negotiating with genocidal terrorist groups

The spirit of Chamberlain lives on...
Aug 12, 8:03 PM EDT

British lawmakers say country should talk to Hamas and Hezbollah militant groups

LONDON (AP) -- Britain should begin talking directly with three of the Middle East's most prominent radical Islamic groups, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, a committee of lawmakers said in a report released Monday.

British diplomats should speak with moderate elements from such groups and continue engaging Iran and Syria because their influence in the region can no longer be discounted, Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee said.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is strong in Egypt, and Hamas and Hezbollah cannot be ignored," the report said.

The government is not obliged to act on the report, which criticized Britain's role in the international boycott of Hamas after the militant group won Palestinian elections in January 2006, saying that had contributed to the collapse of the unity government in the Palestinian territories earlier this year.

Britain's priority should now be to draw Hamas back into a national unity government with the more moderate Fatah movement and persuade it to renounce violence, the committee said.

The lawmakers urged former Prime Minister Tony Blair, the new envoy for the "Quartet," an international group of Middle East mediators, to negotiate directly with the militant group.

A similar approach was recommended for dealing with Lebanon's Hezbollah group and the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's outlawed opposition party. Lawmakers described Hezbollah's role in Lebanon as malign and said the scope of the Brotherhood's Islamist agenda was uncertain, but the committee said the power and influence of the two made dealing with them unavoidable.

The recommendations run counter to existing policies.

Hamas, which was expelled from the Palestinian government after its forcible takeover of the Gaza Strip in June, is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union. Both have refused to negotiate directly with group.

Britain's Foreign Office said it had challenged Hamas to renounce violence before it would talk with the group. "There have to be some ground rules," the office said in a statement.

The U.S. has also labeled Hezbollah a terrorist organization and prohibits contact with the group. Britain has outlawed the movement's armed wing.

U.S. officials this year met with parliamentary members of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which has been banned since 1954 but is the country's most powerful opposition movement.

The report said dialogue with Syria and Iran must feature in regional negotiations. It said Damascus - long accused of destabilizing Lebanon - "may slowly be changing for the better."

While the report largely covered British policy in the Middle East, it also questioned U.S. foreign policy. The committee said the U.S.-backed "roadmap" for Mideast peace had become irrelevant, that its "surge" strategy in Iraq was unlikely to succeed, and that the "War on Terror" vocabulary espoused by U.S. officials created resentment across the Middle East.

Lebanese Canadians Condemn Billboard Promoting Hezbollah, a Banned Terrorist Organization

Is there really a Hezbollah billboard in Canada? That is scary!!

Lebanese Canadians Condemn Billboard Promoting Hezbollah, a Banned Terrorist Organization
By: Elias Bejjani
LCCC Media Chairman
August 13/07

The LCCC, (Lebanese Canadian Coordinating Council), strongly condemns the erection of a billboard in the city of Windsor which surreptitiously promotes the terrorist organization Hezbollah, which has been banned in Canada since 2002. While not identifying Hezbollah by name, the billboard depicts Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the controversial group. Printed in English are the words: "Lebanese and Arab communities in Windsor city congratulate the Lebanese people for their steadfastness and endeavor to establish peace in Windsor."

According to the Canadian anti-terrorist act it is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison to knowingly provide financial support to a terrorist organization. Canadians who knowingly "facilitate" the activities of Hezbollah (or any other listed terrorist group) even if no tie between their actions and any terrorist or other illegal action can be demonstrated—are liable to be jailed for 14 years.

LCCC views publicly advocating or promoting Hezbollah's party leader as an abuse of freedom of expression; rather, it is a blatant assault directed towards all those Canadians who believe in human rights, peace, democracy and tolerance .

Therefore, we call on the Canadian judiciary, security authorities, and Parliament to look thoroughly into this unacceptable conduct and take immediate action to put an end to such an underhanded attempt, as simple as it might look, that might threaten Canada's stability and peace.

Allowing this terrorist group to challenge boldly the Canadian people and government, and test the country's democratic system is an act that should not let go without sending a very strong deterrent message to those Canadian Citizens or organizations who erected the billboard, and for Hezbollah party leadership in Lebanon, who most probably intended purposely to test the Canadian Governments' commitment to its Anti Terrorist Act.

Hezbollah is tirelessly endeavoring to bring back the Syrian occupation to Lebanon by intimidation and threats, and preventing its elected and legitimate government from executing its duties. Promoting these on-going attempts to cripple Lebanon's Parliament and erect in Lebanon a replicate of the Iranian dictatorship. 

Spreading Hezbollah's propaganda in Canadian needs to be stopped. If the current Canadian Anti- terrorism Act does not cover such dangerous infringements, it must be amended as soon as possible. There is no room for neutrality in facing terrorism and terrorist organizations, and Canada has already sided in the global war declared against terrorism. This Windsor Billboard Atrocity must and should be seen as an act of terrorism against Canada, its democratic system and its peace-loving people.

"No" to Hezbollah, "No" to Terrorism and a big "Yes" for peace and tolerance.


**Elias Bejjani
Chairman for the Canadian Lebanese Coordinating Council (LCCC)
Human Rights activist, journalist & political commentator.
Spokesman for the Canadian Lebanese Human Rights Federation (CLHRF)

LCCC Web Site
CLHRF Website

Israel-Palestinian peace negotiations: Wheel is turning, Hamster may be dead

The text says:
Israel and the Palestinians have been trying to work out differences blocking the resumption of peace talks ever since moderate Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas expelled the militant Hamas from government in June, in the wake of the Islamic group's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip.

The United States is prodding the sides to renew negotiations and has set a meeting of regional leaders for the fall. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met Abbas in Jericho last week.
Indeed. There are only a few minor problems to be worked out, like how Abbas will control violence, and how Olmert will get his government to evict settlers from even one illegal outpost, let alone the entire West Bank or large parts of it. Also, there is the matter of Abbas's plan to flood Israel with three million Palestinian refugees or so. That shouldn't be a problem, right? I mean everyone would want to have Al-Qaeda members from Lebanon as their neighbors, wouldn't you? And anyone would jump at the deal to get a country so small it makes tiny Israel look big. Wouldn't you like to live there?  And anyone would love to have as their neighbors the nice Hamas movement, which is in the habit of lobbing rockets at towns across the border, and occasionally cuts people up into steaks and sends the steaks to their families. Bon appetit
I guess nobody will be running out to take any of those deals after all, so it is not surprising that the peace non-process is all talk.
Doron Rosenblum comments: Even the spin has become tired. Nobody here believes any of it. Neither Palestinians nor Israelis. Apathy reigns in the summer heat. The implication however, cannot be ignored. The US needs a peace deal, or some progress to present at the upcoming peace conference. A peace conference without a peace deal will be a catastrophe for all forces of reason in the Middle East, and a victory for Syria, Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. Springtime for Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad.
Ami Isseroff

Hezbollah getting ready for the next round

For many months, we have been hearing and reading about the preparations of Hezbollah for its next round with Israel. This doesn't come as a surprise. The big question nobody is asking, is why nobody at all, including Israel, is trying to do something about it. The encroachments of the Hezbollah are accepted as though they are a fact of nature, like aging or the weather.
Hizbollah buys frontier land to attack Israel
By Charles Levinson in Chbail, Lebanon, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 12:35am BST 12/08/2007

Hizbollah is buying up large tracts of land owned by Christians and other non-Shias in southern Lebanon as the militant group rebuilds its defences in preparation for a new war with Israel, The Sunday Telegraph has been told.

Hizbollah is buying land beyond the reach of the UN

The land grab is thought to be driven by the Iranian-backed guerrillas' efforts to rearm themselves and fortify the strategically important ravines north of the Litani River, just north of the front line in last year's 34-day conflict with its Jewish neighbour.

Here, Hizbollah has been free to press forward without harassment from the 13,000 United Nations peacekeepers and 20,000 Lebanese army troops who were deployed south of the Litani as part of the ceasefire agreement that ended the conflict.

Just south of the Litani, the UN is conducting hundreds of patrols each day in a bid to keep Hizbollah weapons out of the area, but the peacekeepers' mandate ends at the river.

The Lebanese army, meanwhile, is about 50 per cent Shia and seems to be turning a blind eye to Hizbollah activities north of the river.

In these rugged gorges, the group appears to be readying for round two with Israel, and many fear it is not far off after the inconclusive end to last year's war and reports of -Hizbollah rearming.

The area's forested wadis, or valleys, make ideal terrain for Hizbollah's brand of guerrilla warfare and, just 10 miles from the border, are within rocket range of Israeli cities.

The Shia encroachment into a mixed area of Christians, Shias and Druze Muslims threatens to disrupt Lebanon's delicate sectarian balance, which is already teetering after three years of political tumult.

"Christians and Druze are selling land and moving out, while the Shia are moving in. There is an extraordinary demo-graphic shift taking place," said Edmund Rizk, a Christian MP for the area until 1992.

On a scenic, sparsely populated ridge, the farming village of Chbail was once Christian. Today, the land belongs to a wealthy Shia businessman with alleged ties to Hizbollah. Its new residents are recent Shia transplants from the Hizbollah-controlled south.

Entry to the village is forbidden to outsiders - not by the Lebanese army that technically holds sway here, but by the chabab, the plain-clothed, bearded youths who act as look-outs in Hizbollah territory.

"The village is closed for security reasons," said a youth who had recently moved from a Hizbollah-controlled area near the regional capital, Tyre.

Like many neighbouring hamlets, Chbail has steadily decayed ever since civil war broke out in 1975. Fleeing first Palestinian guerrillas, then invading Israeli soldiers, and finally Hizbollah, villagers steadily migrated to seek better lives in Beirut or overseas.

While The Sunday Telegraph was at Chbail's outskirts, a rust-coloured Volvo station wagon rolled in, piled high with wooden building beams. A dozen or so other young men with dirt-caked fingernails came and went freely. On the wadis' western edge, a metal sign strung across an unmarked dirt track erased any doubt about what, or rather who, now lies beyond.

"Entry forbidden. Hizbollah area," the sign read in Arabic. The closure was manned by a pair of teenage gunmen in olive green fatigues, armed with walkie-talkies and AK47s.

The buy-up of land in Chbail and half a dozen Druze and Christian villages is said to be the work of a wealthy Shia businessman, Ali Tajeddine, who made his fortune trading diamonds in Sierra Leone before returning to Lebanon and starting a successful construction company.

Squat and bearded, Mr Tajeddine keeps a Hizbollah charity box in the waiting room of his Tyre office. He is believed to be a major player in Hizbollah's massive reconstruction programme called Jihad al Bina, or the Building Jihad.

During an interview, Mr Tajeddine fidgeted nervously as he denied any connection with Hizbollah. He said his projects at Chbail represent just a fraction of the dozens of developments he is building throughout Lebanon.

But his distinctive arc of land-buys around Hizbollah's new stronghold has triggered alarm among the district's Christian and Druze leaders, who say he is using Iranian funds to buy land from destitute villagers at up to four times the going rate. Druze sheikhs have responded by forbidding the sale of land to Shias and wealthy Christians have been asked to buy property in the area to stem the Shia tide.

In Chbail and two neighbouring Christian villages, Mr Tajeddine has already bought 200-300 acres of land, according to the mayor, Kamil Fares. "There are new people coming," he said. "Shias have moved into apartments belonging to Ali Tajeddine. But we're poor. What can we do?"

In the Druze village of Al Sreiri, the mayor, Hafed Kiwane, told a similar story. "We have nothing here, so it was good to see money coming into the area, but now we fear there are suspicious motives," he said.

Among the Hizbollah settlements is the fledgling village of Ahmediyya, where a billboard in Hebrew warns Israeli invaders: "Do not enter!"

Dozens of housing units have been built here in the past year. A supermarket is open for business, and 10 Shia families have moved in so far. Among them is project foreman Mohammad Atwa, 51. As two men photographed The Sunday Telegraph's car, he said: "The rockets of the resistance showed us there was someone to defend us."

Critics fear that Ahmediyya will further stretch the Shia reach to the north-east, as part of a grand scheme to create a strip of Shia-controlled land connecting the south to Hizbollah's other power centre in Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley.

"It is part of Hizbollah's plan to create a state within a state," said Walid Jumblatt, a Druze leader. He also pointed to the four-lane road being built to connect the Hizbollah stronghold of Nabatieh in the south to the western Bekaa.

Banners openly proclaim the source of the road's funding: "510km of new roads paid for by the Iranian Organization for Sharing in the Building of Lebanon".