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These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 1, 2011.
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Wistrich: Iraq's

Professor Robert Wistrich, Hebrew University

Seventy years ago, on June 1, 1941, the most dramatic and violent pogrom in the Arab Middle East during World War II took place in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. Known in Arabic as the FarhÅ«d, this devastating pogrom left approximately 150 Jews dead, hundreds more wounded, and led to the ransacking of nearly 600 Jewish businesses. The grim events of June 1-2, 1941 were the Iraqi Arab equivalent of the mass violence on Kristallnacht, which had taken place some two and a half years earlier across Nazi Germany. The anti-Jewish riots were mainly led by Iraqi soldiers (bitter and frustrated by their defeat at the hands of the British Army), some members of the police and young paramilitary gangs, swiftly followed by an angry Muslim population that went on the rampage in an orgy of murder and rapine.         

The pogrom struck at what was the most prosperous, prominent and well-integrated Jewish community in the Middle East – one whose origins went back more than 2,500 years – long before there was any Arab presence in the country. The 90,000 Jews of Baghdad, it should be said, played a major role in the commercial and professional life of the city. However, in the 1930s they already found themselves confronted by an increasingly virulent anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist propaganda in the Iraqi press and among nationalist political groups. This agitation treated the intensely patriotic Iraqi Jews as an alien, hostile minority who had to be ejected from all the social, economic and political positions it held in the Iraqi state.

Iraqi Arab nationalists, like their counterparts in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Egypt, had been much influenced in the 1930s by the rise of Nazi Germany. Hitler’s National Socialism attracted them as a spectacular, authoritarian model for achieving Iraqi national unity and a wider union of Arabs in the region. It was no accident that the pro-German ideologue of pan-Arabism, Sati al-Husri, exerted a major influence on Iraqi education after arriving in Baghdad in 1921, or that Michel Aflaq, the chief theoretician of the Iraqi and Syrian Ba’athists had also absorbed German national-socialist ideas while studying in Paris between 1928-1932. The Director General of the Iraqi Ministry of Education in the 1930s, Dr. Sami Shawkat, was another fanatical ideologue, especially active in instilling a military spirit (resembling the German Nazi model) in Iraqi youth. He also developed radically anti-Jewish ideas which were heavily indebted to Nazi anti-Semitism. In a book published in Baghdad in 1939, These Are Our Aims, Shawkat openly called for the annihilation of the Jews in Iraq, as a necessary prerequisite for achieving an Iraqi national revival and fulfilling the country’s ”historical mission” of uniting the Arab nation.         

Significantly, it was also in Baghdad that the first official Arabic translations of parts of Hitler’s Mein Kampf appeared in 1934. In order not to offend Arab sensibilities the final translation “edited” out Hitler’s racial theories about inferior “Semites” – making it clear that anti-Semitism related only to Jews, not to Arabs. The Iraqi translator of Hitler’s “magnum opus” was YÅ«nus al-Sab’Ä�wÄ«, a young Nazi enthusiast and extreme anti-Semite. A close confidant of nationalist officers in the Iraqi army, Al-Sab’Ä�wÄ« came to play an important role in Iraqi politics. From April to June 1941 he even served as Iraqi Minister of Economics. Al-Sab’Ä�wÄ« was indeed one of the architects of the FarhÅ«d in which his anti-Semitic para-military youth group also took part. Al-Sab’Ä�wÄ« had earlier established a close connection with Nazi Germany’s Ambassador to Iraq in the late 1930s, Dr. Fritz Grobba. The latter was a distinguished Orientalist (fluent in Arabic, Persian and Turkish) who eventually convinced Hitler that helping Arab nationalists to throw off British control of Iraq should be part of German strategy. Grobba also contributed much through the networks he had established in Iraq, towards spreading the idea that Iraqi Jews were a “fifth column” of Great Britain – sworn enemies of Germany and of the Arab nation. Equally, Palestinian nationalists, led by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini (who had had fled to Baghdad in the late 1930s), conducted an especially vicious campaign to incite a jihad among the local Arab population against Great Britain, Zionism and the Jews of Iraq. The Mufti – a close ally of Hitler during the four years he spent in Berlin between 1941 and 1945 – would also exert a particularly toxic influence on the pro-Nazi politician Rashid Ali al-Kailani, whose successful anti-British coup had forced the unpopular Hashemite Regent Abd al-IlÄ�h to flee the country. The coup brought to power on April 1, 1941 some of the most rabid Jew-baiters in Iraq. Anti-British and anti-Semitic propaganda now reached a zenith that greatly contributed to the violence that burst forth two months later.         

Ironically enough, it was the decisive victory of the British and the return of the Regent on June 1 that immediately provoked the pogrom, an act of unparalleled revenge by the Muslim masses against the Jews of Baghdad that expressed their deep disappointment at the fall of the popular Rashid Ali regime. The British Army, now encamped on the outskirts of Baghdad, could easily have intervened but it chose not to do so, dubiously claiming this would have damaged the prestige of the (pro-British) Regent in the eyes of his own people. The British behaved in a similar fashion on several occasions in Mandatory Palestine, in Libya (November 1945) and in Aden (December 1945) – standing by as Arab mobs killed defenseless Jews. In fact, for most Iraqi Muslims in 1941, the British were perceived as oppressive colonizers, the Jews as their “agents” and the German Nazis as “anti-imperialist” saviors! But German military assistance, when it finally came, was too little and too late to save the Rashid Ali regime.         

The FarhÅ«d has been incomprehensibly ignored or downplayed both in Zionist historiography and even more in general histories of the Middle East. Arab historians have been silent or else falsified the facts and there are even Israeli and Jewish writers who have unconvincingly tried to dismiss its importance. Yet this traumatic event was indeed of seminal importance. It proved beyond reasonable doubt the strength of Arab nationalist anti-Semitism and of Nazi-style incitement on a Muslim population that had come to see in its patriotic Jewish minority “the enemy within.” The Jews of Iraq, seventy years ago, suddenly found themselves in the crossfire of three converging forms of murderous anti-Semitism – that of the German Nazis, the Palestinian exiles in Baghdad led by Amin el-Husseini, and Iraqi pan-Arab nationalists. Ten years later, the government of Iraq under the pro-British Nuri es-Said, expropriated, dispossessed, disenfranchised and brought about the forced emigration of nearly 120,000 Iraqi Jews, thereby cruelly terminating the oldest of all Diaspora histories. This was not only a crime against humanity but an insufficiently acknowledged part of the history of the Holocaust. The FarhÅ«d exposed with shocking clarity just how vulnerable the Jews in Arab lands really were and what their fate was likely to be under any decolonized Arab regime in the future, especially if there was a breakdown of law and order.

Despite the “Arab Spring” not much has changed for other minorities in the Middle East in the last 70 years. As for the Jews, from Morocco to Iraq and Iran they would be “ethnically cleansed” after 1945 by their Muslim rulers. The FarhÅ«d already represented the writing on the wall for those willing to read it. The reinforcement of a strong Israel was and still remains the only viable long-term answer to the repetition of such horrific atrocities in the future.

 

Prof. Robert S. Wistrich is the director of The Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (http://sicsa.huji.ac.il/) and the author of A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (Random House, January 2010).  This article is a condensed version of a recent lecture on the 1941 pogrom in Baghdad hosted by the Center in Jerusalem.

 

 

Posted on 06/01/2011 3:03 AM by Robert Wistrich
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Final remarks of Geert Wilders at His Trial in Amsterdam, June 1, 2011

Geert Wilders in Amsterdam District Court

Mister President, members of the Court,


I am here because of what I have said. I am here for having spoken. I have spoken, I speak and I shall continue to speak. Many have kept silent, but not Pim Fortuyn, not Theo Van Gogh, and not I.

I am obliged to speak. For the Netherlands is under threat of Islam. As I have argued many times, Islam is chiefly an ideology. An ideology of hatred, of destruction, of conquest. It is my strong conviction that Islam is a threat to Western values, to freedom of speech, to the equality of men and women, of heterosexuals and homosexuals, of believers and unbelievers.

All over the world we can see how freedom is fleeing from Islam. Day by day we see our freedoms dwindle.

Islam is opposed to freedom. Renowned scholars of Islam from all parts of the world agree on this. My witness experts subscribe to my view. There are more Islam scholars whom the court did not allow me to call upon to testify. All agree with my statements, they show that I speak the truth. That truth is on trial today.

We must live in the truth, said the dissidents under Communist rule, because the truth will set us free. Truth and freedom are inextricably connected. We must speak the truth because otherwise we shall lose our freedom.

That is why I have spoken, why I speak and why I shall continue to speak.

The statements for which I am being tried are statements which I made in my function as a politician participating in the public debate in our society. My statements were not aimed at individuals, but at Islam and the process of islamization. That is why the Public Prosecutor has concluded that I should be acquitted.

Mister President, members of the Court,

I am acting within a long tradition which I wish to honour. I am risking my life in defence of freedom in the Netherlands. Of all our achievements freedom is the most precious and the most vulnerable. Many have given their lives for freedom. We have been reminded of that in the commemorations of the month of May. But the struggle for freedom is much older.

Every day the armoured cars drive me past the statue of Johan de Witt at the Hofvijver in The Hague. De Witt wrote the “Manifesto of True Freedom” and he paid for freedom with his life. Every day I go to my office through the Binnenhof where Johan van Oldenbarneveldt was beheaded after a political trial. Leaning on his stick the elderly Oldenbarneveldt addressed his last words to his people. He said: “I have acted honourably and piously as a good patriot.” Those words are also mine.

I do not wish to betray the trust of the 1.5 million voters of my party. I do not wish to betray my country. Inspired by Johan van Oldenbarneveldt and Johan de Witt I wish to be a politician who serves the truth end hence defends the freedom of the Dutch provinces and of the Dutch people. I wish to be honest, I wish to act with honesty and that is why I wish to protect my native land against Islam. Silence is treason.

That is why I have spoken, why I speak and why I shall continue to speak.

Freedom and truth. I pay the price every day. Day and night I have to be protected against people who want to kill me. I am not complaining about it; it has been my own decision to speak. However, those who threaten me and other critics of Islam are not being tried here today. I am being tried. And about that I do complain.

I consider this trial to be a political trial. The values of D66 [a Dutch leftist liberal party] and NRC Handelsblad [a Dutch leftist liberal party] will never be brought before a judge in this country. One of the complainants clearly indicated that his intentions are political. Even questions I have asked in parliament and cooperation with the SGP are being brought as allegations against me by Mr Rabbae of GroenLinks [the leftist Dutch Green Party]. Those on the Left like to tamper with the separation of powers. When they cannot win politically because the Dutch people have discerned their sinister agenda, they try to win through the courts.

Whatever your verdict may be, that is the bitter conclusion of this trial.

This trial is also surrealistic. I am being compared with the Hutu murderers in Rwanda and with Mladic. Only a few minutes ago some here have doubted my mental health. I have been called a new Hitler. I wonder whether those who call me such names will also be sued, and if not, whether the Court will also order prosecution. Probably not. And that is just as well. Because freedom of speech applies also to my opponents.

My right to a fair trial has been violated. The order of the Amsterdam Court to prosecute me was not just a decision but a condemning verdict by judges who condemned me even before the actual trial had begun.

Mister President, members of the Court, you must now decide whether freedom still has a home in the Netherlands

Franz Kafka said: “one sees the sun slowly set, yet one is surprised when it suddenly becomes dark.”

Mister President, members of the Court, do not let the lights go out in the Netherlands.

Acquit me: Put an end to this Kafkaesque situation.

Acquit me. Political freedom requires that citizens and their elected representatives are allowed to voice opinions that are held in society.

Acquit me, for if I am convicted, you convict the freedom of opinion and expression of millions of Dutchmen.

Acquit me. I do not incite to hatred. I do not incite to discrimination. But I defend the character, the identity, the culture and the freedom of the Netherlands. That is the truth. That is why I am here. That is why I speak. That is why, like Luther before the Imperial Diet at Worms, I say: “Here I stand, I can do no other.”

That is why I have spoken, why I speak and why I shall continue to speak.

Mister President, members of the Court, though I stand here alone, my voice is the voice of many. This trial is not about me. It is about something much greater. Freedom of expression is the life source of our Western civilisation.

Do not let that source go dry just to cosy up to a totalitarian ideology. “Freedom,” said the American President Dwight Eisenhower, “has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.”

Mister President, members of the Court, you have a great responsibility. Do not cut freedom in the Netherlands from its roots, our freedom of expression. Acquit me. Choose freedom.

I have spoken, I speak, and it is my duty – I cannot do otherwise – to continue to speak.

Thank you.

Posted on 06/01/2011 4:53 AM by Geert Wilders
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
We can't keep tabs on freed Muslim terrorists warn security services

Dozens of convicted Islamic terrorists are to be released from prison this year despite warnings it will be impossible to monitor them. Ministers have been told that at least 45 terrorists – including several convicted of involvement in bomb plots designed to slaughter hundreds of people – are due to be released in the next 12 months.

They include Saajid Badat, who was sentenced to 13 years in 2005 for his involvement in the notorious shoe-bombing plot, and Moinul Abedin, who was sentenced to 20 years in 2002 for running a bomb factory in Birmingham.

Many of those due for freedom – after serving just half their sentence – are still deemed a threat. Both the probation service and security services have warned ministers privately that the mass release threatens their ability to cope.

The revelation will intensify debate about Government plans to water down control orders, which are due to be debated by MPs next week.  Critics complain that the plans – championed by Nick Clegg – will make it harder for the security services to keep tabs on terror suspects.

The planned reforms will end the virtual house arrest of those on control orders.  In future, suspects will be allowed greater access to the internet, allowed telephones and permitted to meet friends. They will be electronically tagged but able to leave their homes for part of each day.

Harry Fletcher, of the National Association of Probation Officers, said that as many as 70 al Qaeda terrorists could be released during the next 12 months, along with about 130 other criminals who have been radicalised in prison and are now classed as dangerous.

He said: ‘They are all deemed high risk, and in profile they are totally different from the rest of the criminals that we deal with.  They are more likely to have A-levels and been to college. Therefore, they have to be supervised by us and the police at a fairly intensive level. My fear is that as cuts to the frontline cut deeper, we’re going to be unable to give them the close attention we have hitherto. It’s a real concern that these men require maximum levels of supervision and we’re not going to be able to do it. That will undermine public protection.’

Tory MP Patrick Mercer said many people did not realise that terrorists, like other criminals, were eligible for release after serving just half their sentence. Mr Mercer said this underlined ‘the need for a really effective system of control orders because many of these individuals will still be highly dangerous’.

A spokesman for the Probation Service said: ‘Public protection is one of our main priorities and any savings will look to retain frontline services which will ensure the public is protected and re-offending is reduced. The Probation Service must, as with all other areas of Government, make savings.’

Penny wise pound foolish.

Posted on 06/01/2011 5:24 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
A Musical Interlude: Love Letters In The Sand (Lee Morse)

Listen here.

 

Posted on 06/01/2011 8:51 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Bilingualism

Read the story here.

Charlie Sheen knew from friends about its benefits long ago.

Posted on 06/01/2011 9:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
A Literary Interlude: Comus (John Milton)

Comus:

O foolishness of men! that lend their ears

To those budge doctors of the Stoic fur,

And fetch their precepts from the Cynic tub,

Praising the lean and sallow Abstinence!

Wherefore did Nature pour her bounties forth 

With such a full and unwithdrawing hand,

Covering the earth with odours, fruits, and flocks,

Thronging the seas with spawn innumerable,

But all to please and sate the curious taste?

And set to work millions of spinning worms,

That in their green shops weave the smooth-hair'd silk,

To deck her sons; and, that no corner might

Be vacant of her plenty, in her own loins

She hutched the all-worshipp'd ore and precious gems,

To store her children with. If all the world 

Should, in a pet of temperance, feed on pulse,

Drink the clear stream, and nothing wear but frieze,

Th'All-giver would be unthank'd, would be unprais'd,

Not half his riches known, and yet despis'd;

And we should serve him as a grudging master,

As a penurious niggard of his wealth,

And live like Nature’s bastards, not her sons,

Who would be quite surcharg'd with her own weight,

And strangl'd with her waste fertility:

Th'earth cumber'd, and the wing'd air dark'd with plumes,

The herds would o'er-multitude their lords;

The sea o’erfraught would swell, and th'unsought diamonds

Would so emblaze the forehead of the deep,

And so bestud with stars, that they below

Would grow inured to light, and come at last

To gaze upon the sun with shameless brows.

List, lady; be not coy, and be not cozen'd

With that same vaunted name, Virginity.

Beauty is Nature’s coin; must not be hoarded,

But must be current; and the good thereof 

Consists in mutual and partaken bliss,

Unsavoury in the enjoyment of itself.

If you let slip time, like a neglected rose

It withers on the stalk with languish'd head.

Beauty is Nature’s brag, and must be shown

In courts, at feasts, and high solemnities,

Where most may wonder at the workmanship.

It is for homely features to keep home;

They had their name thence: coarse complexions

And cheeks of sorry grain will serve to ply 

The sampler, and to tease the huswife’s wool.

What need of vermeil-tinctured lip for that,

Love-darting eyes, or tresses like the morn?

There was another meaning in these gifts;

Think what, and be advis'd; you are but young yet.

 

                                                                                 ll. 706-755

Posted on 06/01/2011 10:04 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
The Most Important Part Of This Article Is In Bold

From The Washington Post:

No more leniency for ‘honor killings,’ Abbas promises after brutal slaying of young woman

By Associated Press, May 19

SURIF, West Bank — A 20-year-old Palestinian woman who was thrown into a well and left to die in the name of “family honor” has not become just another statistic in one of the Middle East’s most shameful practices.

The killing of Aya Baradiya — by an uncle who didn’t like a potential suitor — sparked such outrage that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas scrapped laws this week that guaranteed sentences of six months or less for such killings.

And in another sign of changing attitudes, the young college student is being mourned as a “martyr” and her grieving parents are being embraced, not shunned, by neighbors.

So-called “honor killings” are committed regularly in traditional Arab societies that enforce strict separation between the sexes and view an unmarried woman’s unsupervised contact with a man, even by telephone, as a stain on the family’s reputation. There were nine such killings in the West Bank last year, and Jordan reports about 20 every year.

Women’s activists hailed Abbas’ decision as a milestone in what they say is still a long road toward protecting women from such abuse.

“Such a tragic event managed to send a message that change is needed,” said rights campaigner Hanan Ashrawi. “We have traction and we are going to move.”

Suha Arafat, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s widow, emerged from self-imposed seclusion to praise Abbas. Speaking in an interview with The Associated Press, she said she tried to persuade her husband many times to take such a step, but was told the Palestinian people faced other pressing problems that needed to be dealt with first.

One of 13 siblings, Baradiya lived in the West Bank town of Surif near the city of Hebron, where she majored in English literature at Hebron University. She wore the traditional Muslim headscarf and classmates described her as chaste and noble-minded.

“She was lovely. She was intelligent. She had a big heart,” said the woman’s mother, Fatma, calling her daughter “the dynamo of the household.”

She disappeared on April 20, 2010, and was killed that same day, though her body was not discovered until 13 months later, on May 6, after her 37-year-old uncle, Iqab Baradiya, confessed to the crime.

On the day of the killing, the uncle and two accomplices snatched the woman and tied her hands and feet, Hebron police chief Ramadan Awad said. The suspects told interrogators she screamed and demanded to know why they wanted to kill her, but the uncle said only that she deserved to die, he said.

She told them she had done nothing wrong, then her attackers dumped her into the well.

The water would have reached to her neck, Awad said, adding: “We can’t be sure ... if she died immediately or it took her a long time to die.”

Aya Baradiya’s parents, Ibrahim and Fatma, said they reported their daughter missing within hours after she failed to come home from university but did not learn her fate until this month.

Fatma Baradiya said she barely left the house during her daughter’s unexplained absence because she sensed her neighbors’ disapproval. In Arab society, women live with their parents until they marry, and a sudden absence from home quickly causes gossip.

The police chief said suspects in honor killings often come forward immediately because they don’t face serious punishment and a confession is part of the “cleansing” of family honor. However, Aya Baradiya’s uncle remained silent, even saying at one point that his niece had called him and told him she just decided to go away.

Palestinian media say the uncle disapproved of the woman’s suitor, who had approached the family through traditional channels, asking for her hand in marriage. One accomplice said the men talked about the alleged relationship as they planned the killing.

The woman’s father, Ibrahim, said he had given his blessing to the union but wanted her to wait until she finished university.

Iqab Baradiya, who has been in custody since his confession, showed remorse in a television interview, saying he was influenced by town gossip about his niece, though he did not elaborate on what drove him to kill her. “I feel like a criminal,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking.”

As the horrific details emerged, Surif residents and students at Hebron University staged rallies, demanding the death penalty for the killers. They held up signs calling Aya Baradiya a “martyr,” the ultimate badge of honor in Palestinian society.

Palestine TV dedicated a program to her last weekend, and a senior Abbas aide, Tayeb Abdel Rahim, called in, saying the Palestinian president was watching and was saddened by the case. He said Abbas planned to scrap the laws guaranteeing leniency for such slayings.

Ashrawi, a former legislator, said Abbas had promised women’s groups several years ago to scrap the laws, but put the issue on ice until the most recent killing.

Abbas delivered on the promise Sunday, signing a decree that scraps provisions that make killing for family honor a mitigating circumstance, Abdel Rahim told AP. Suspects could now even face the death penalty, he said.

Leniency for honor killings dates back to a 1960 Jordanian legal codex, parts of which are still in effect in the West Bank; the area was under Jordanian rule until it was captured by Israel in 1967. Awad, the Hebron police chief, said that under the old system, someone who killed for family honor would get a maximum of six months in prison.

In 2010, there were nine family honor killings in the West Bank, Awad said. In most cases, “family honor” was just a pretext, he added: Men would kill to clear the path for remarriage, get their wives’ gold or because of problems in the family. The tougher new laws will likely reduce the number of such killings, he said.

In Hamas-ruled Gaza, at least 10 women were killed by male relatives over the past three years, according to a local activist, Majda Ibrahim. She said punishment is generally light, though in one case, a man was sentenced to death for killing his cousin after she rejected his marriage proposal. The man is on death row.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II and his wife Queen Rania, a women’s rights activist, have faced an uphill battle with the country’s conservative tribal parliament to impose stricter penalties for honor killings. Even though perpetrators now face up to 15 years in prison, judges still hand out lenient sentences.

Arafat’s widow, Suha, said that when she lived in the Gaza Strip with her husband in the 1990s, she used to hide women feeling threatened by male relatives and would help smuggle them to safer areas.

She said she and the wives of other leaders in the region, including Jordan’s then-Queen Noor, tried in vain to persuade their husbands to do more to protect women. “I said, ‘Yasser, we have to do something’,” Arafat recalled in a telephone interview from the Mediterranean island of Malta.

Jordanian activist Rana Husseini said change is coming, even if slowly. “I am really happy to see governments are moving,” she said. “It’s not the movement we are expecting, but better than nothing.”

In Surif, Aya Baradiya’s family wants the death penalty for her killers.

Her 29-year-old brother, Rami, welcomed the promise of tougher punishment, saying he hoped it would serve as a deterrent. “This is a victory for all of us,” he said.

Posted on 06/01/2011 10:31 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Muslim fanatic fined £100 for 'gay free zone' stickers

From The Telegraph

Mohammed Hasnath, 18, posted stickers warning gays that homosexuality was wrong and that "Allah is severe in punishment". The stickers showed a rainbow flag with a black line through it stating "Gay free zone".

Hasnath, who is on benefits, admitted putting up a handful of the notes but said he had been given them, and pointed out there were "hundreds" of similar offensive stickers in the area.

Darren Watts, prosecuting, said: "This is in relation to a series of homophobic stickers put up around the East End area in February."

The stickers, which were posted at Bow Church DLR, on the inside of a bus, at a bus stop in Whitechapel and outside the Royal London Hospital, showed a rainbow flag with a black line through it. Above the flag was printed "Arise and warn" and below it said "And fear Allah: Verily Allah is severe in punishment." Both were followed by references to the English version of the Koran.

Mr Watts told Westminster Magistrates Court that Hasnath was arrested after he was spotted on CCTV putting up the sticker at Bow Church and confessed to police he had also been handing them out to young Muslim men in the area.

In a statement read to the court Jack Gilbert, a board member of the Sandys Row Synagogue and co chair of the Rainbow Hamlets community forum, said: "For me I read this no differently from a sign that said 'Jew free zone'. When I see that sticker I see the signs my mother saw in 1930 which actually carried less suggestion of punishment. For me I perceived an immediate threat of violence and had to make an instant risk assessment to my personal safety."

The statement of a police officer working in the East End read to the court added: "I felt upset and offended. It made me feel I shouldn't be working in the area and it should be a gay free zone. As far as I am concerned I should feel free and at peace to work in my community."

When told the allegation against him of a public order offence of using threatening or abusive words or behaviour between February 11 and 14 Hasnath said: "But I just put up stickers, I didn't harass or swear at anybody or anything. Basically, some people just handed them to me so I just put them up. I didn't say anything, it doesn't say that I am going to punish them it just says what God says in the Koran. I wasn't the one who made them, some people gave them to me and I only put up a few, there were hundreds of them up . . . "

Hasnath, who was representing himself, pleaded guilty to the offence. Remember the knee jeck reaction in certain 'liberal' quarters? That a 'right wing' group, aka the EDL were putting them up to ferment discord.

District Judge Coleman said: "I think you used these stickers deliberately to offend and distress people, you certainly succeeded in doing that".

The court heard that Hasnath is on bail for allegedly defacing a women's fashion advertising board. We know, somebody gave him a pot of black paint and everybody else was at it.

Posted on 06/01/2011 10:54 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Pseudsday Pswednesday

Ever wondered why Islamic countries are, in the absence of oil, impoverished hell holes? Ever wondered why Muslims fail to win Nobel prizes, why billions of dollars of aid makes no difference to them, why girls and women continue to be beaten, raped and honour-killed, and why the men rage against a cartoon, but not against those beatings, rapes and honour killings? Could it be the Koran, the Hadith and the Sira? Could it be Islam?

Honi soit qui mal y pense - "Honey, your silk stocking's hanging down," as Sellar and Yeatman translated it. Well, not so much stocking as tights, according to "cross-cultural psychologists". No, I don't know either, but I imagine I'd be cross if I were a cultural psychologist. From ABC News, with thanks to Christina:

A society with a history of threats such as wars or natural disasters is more likely to tightly control the behaviour of its people than other societies, say cross-cultural psychologists.

Professor Yoshi Kashima of the University of Melbourne and colleagues report their findings today in the journal Science.

Some countries tolerate deviation from the norm of social behaviour more than others, Professor Kashima says.

He and colleagues set out to try and understand more about the reasons for this difference, which they see as having the potential to cause conflict between cultures.

According to one theory, developed by an anthropologist named Pelto in the 1960s, cultures that tightly control social behaviour develop from exposure to particular environments.

Professor Kashima and colleagues quantified the 'tightness' of different countries by surveying nearly 7,000 people from 33 countries in five continents. Africa was absent from the survey.

"Tightness is how tightly social behaviour is controlled or regulated," Professor Kashima said.

The researchers asked the study participants for their perception of how tolerant their country was, and how much latitude people were given, when it comes to deviating from social norms.

They were also asked to rate the appropriateness of 180 behaviours including arguing or eating in an elevator, swearing at work, flirting at a funeral, crying at a doctor's surgery, singing while walking down the street, laughing out loud on a bus, and kissing someone on the mouth in a restaurant.

From the survey they developed tightness scores ranging from a low of 1.6 for the "loose" Ukraine and 12.3 for the "tight" Pakistan.

Australia came in at the loose end of the spectrum at 4.4, not as tight as the US, at 5.1, or the UK, which had a score of 6.9, slightly tighter than France.

Professor Kashima and colleagues also gathered research on historical statistical information on each country, in some cases dating back to 1500 AD.

That far back?

"We tried to relate the tightness score to this statistical information," Professor Kashima said.

They found countries that have a history of high population density, food and water scarcity, vulnerability to natural disasters and a high prevalence of wars and disease are more likely to be tighter than others.

The researchers also found such societies were likely to have developed autocratic rule, less open media, more laws, more severe punishment (e.g. death penalty), less crime, more religion and fewer political rights.

Constraints on behaviour was not only evident in everyday interactions on the bus, in the bank or at restaurants and parties, but was reinforced through characteristics of individuals themselves.

For example, individuals in tightly-regulated societies were more cautious, dutiful, had higher impulse control and were less tolerant towards outsiders.

Data on the accuracy of clocks in major cities also suggests they also pay much stricter attention to time.

You don't say.

Early research on traditional cultures suggested that agricultural societies that require strong norms to foster the coordination necessary to grow crops had stricter child-rearing practices than hunting and fishing societies.

Professor Kashima and colleagues wanted to see if delving into the history of modern nations could also explain cultural differences, specifically why some countries control people's behaviour more than others.

They theorised that a culture that has had to deal with a higher number of wars, natural disasters and other large-scale threats, may over time place greater limits on people's behaviour.

"Nations facing these particular challenges are predicted to develop strong norms and have low tolerance of deviant behaviour to enhance order and social coordination to effectively deal with such threats," the researchers wrote in their article.

"Nations with few ecological and human-made threats, by contrast, have a much lower need for order and social coordination, affording weaker social norms and much more latitude."

[...]

The researchers warn against judging systems different from one's own as dysfunctional, unjust and immoral.

"Such beliefs fail to recognise that tight and loose cultures may, at least in part, function in their own ecological and historical contexts," they wrote.

But they do say the research has implications for modelling how tight and loose cultures are maintained or changed.

On a personal level, Professor Kashima says the findings help explain why people in other cultures behave so differently.

"It will help us understand why some people seem a lot more uptight than others," he said.

"And why what might seem like a simple joke to people from one culture causes serious offence to others."

I always thought tight meant either drunk or stingy. And what about Jack Lemmon in Some Like It Hot, who was "kissed in the elevator"?

Posted on 06/01/2011 11:09 AM by Mary Jackson
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
In Pakistan, More Than 2/3 Of The Population Wants Total Islamisation Of Society

From The Nation:

67pc want Islamisation of society

By ASHRAF MUMTAZ May 6, 2011

LAHORE – As many as 67 per cent people of Pakistan want the government take steps for Islamisation, a clear indication that for whatever reasons they have lost faith in the existing system.


According to a survey carried out by Gilani Research Foundation, 31 per cent people want the government take the required steps at once. However, 48 per cent think that the needed steps should be taken one by one. People approached for survey had been asked: “In your opinion should the government take steps to Islamise the society?” These findings clearly mean that the claims made by various elements that Pakistan should be a secular state are totally baseless and contrary to the wishes of the people.


This is a unique kind of survey carried out by an organization (Gallup Pakistan) in a society where more than 90 per cent people are Muslims, no matter which sect they belong to. That 31 per cent people want ‘immediate’ steps for Islamisation means that they are totally disappointed with the ability of the existing system to solve their problems and want to switch over to the Islamic system, for the sake of which the country had been created in 1947.


According to the survey, 48 per cent people are for a gradual approach. In other words, they want the government to take the required steps one by one.


Without any iota of doubt, these people also pin their hopes on the Islamic system, but want it introduced gradually, which, ostensibly, means that no hasty step should be taken which had the potential to backfire.


Thirteen per cent of those approached for their opinions said there was no need for Islamization. Such people could be secularists, liberals or of the minority communities.


Twenty per cent people, according to the survey, gave no response.


Their decision not to answer the question may mean that for them Islamization is not that important.


Their silence could also be taken to mean that they are not concerned for what the government does, or doesn’t do, on this front.

Posted on 06/01/2011 11:50 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Geert Wilders' Closing Remarks at Trial (Video)

With special thanks to Vlad Tepes. The transcript is here.

Posted on 06/01/2011 11:58 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Allah may not be watching, but the technologically advanced kufir is

This Guy Has My Mac Book, and he didn't give khums (20%) of the booty to Allah.  (Not my Mac Book;  it and the website are Joshua Kaufman's).

Posted on 06/01/2011 1:07 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
As This "Arab Spring" Withers, What's Best For The West?

Perhaps  it is not too soon to take some stock, at this point, of the  farcically-named "Arab Spring," subliminally echoing the "Czech Spring" of Alexander Dubcek, General Ludvik Svoboda, and others who desired not to replace this or that despot -- Ben Ali, Mubarak, Assad, Saleh, Qaddafy -- so that more of the money could be shared, or possibly so that among those described so inaccurately as "pro-democracy" protesters, the faction (in Yemen, a tribal faction), or sect (Sunnis instead of Alawites in Syria), or geographic region (though the opposition to Qaddafy can be found everywhere in LIbya, the opposition is strongest in the east, olim Cyrenaica, centered on Benghazi, and Qaddafy's forces and family still have support, and might have even more if he leaves, in the west, centered on Tripoli).

Now NATO has decided on a  three-month extension of its expensive intervention, that "imposition of a No-Fly Zone that has metastasized into bombing here, and bombing there, without any pretense of it having to do with a No-Fly Zone And the more than 7,000 sorties the NATO pilots have had to fly are adding up. Why isn't Qatar, why aren't the Emirates being asked to fully reimburse the West for all of its expenses? Wasn't it the Arab League that called for Qaddafy to go? Wasn't it that call, by the Arab League, that allowed the West, or propelled the West, or inveigled the West, into this NATO mission and gave rise to some forlorn hope that the Arabs in the Arab League actually supported "democracy" when what they really supported was the West ridding them of Qaddafy who had for decades ridiculed many Arab rulers, and mocked the Arab League itself?

What would be the best outcome for the West? 

And what a strange-sounding question even to ask, isn't it, since we have become used to asking a different  one which goes, more or less, likethis: "What's best for the Iraqi people"? "What's best for the Afghan people?" "What's best for the Pakistani people?" "What's best for the Egyptian people?" "What's best for the Tunisian people?" "What's best for the Libyan people?"

Had that question been asked in the middle of World War II, about the Soviet Union, would the American government have been able to send the Lend-Lease money and war materiel it sent, to the government of Joseph Stalin, in order to help the Soviet Union, in its titanic struggle with the Nazi invader?

And when our leaders write about "the Iraqi people" do we not now wonder if they think the Kurds and Arabs consider themselves one people, if the Muslims consider the Christians to be an indissoluble part of one "Iraqi people," or if the Sunni Arabs and the Shi'a Arabs truly believe they constitute "one Iraqi people"? And in Syria, do the Sunnis think of the Alawites (and those many Christians in Syria who, thinking of their own future safety, reluctantly continue to support Alawite rule, for fear of what might otherwise come) as part of "the Syrian people"? In Libya, is Saif al-Islam correct when he emphasizes the power of the tribes, and the weakness of any national identity, or does he have it wrong, and the likes of young Ben Rhodes (Obama's Deputy National Security Adviser, and the writer of both that disastrous Cairo Speech, and the recemt one about the "Arab Spring" and the 1949 Arab-Israeli Armistice Lines), have it right?  Is there a "Yemeni people" or aren't there rather, different tribes, different sects, yoked unharmoniously -- no discordia concors to be found here -- together, and the result can never be sweet music but, rather,  a never-ending caterwaul by millions of wanda-gag cats.

Buit if one were quite sincere with oneself, and really did want "the best" for the Muslims of the MIddle East, one would wish that in each country a local Ataturk migfht be found, and that he might proceed to do as Ataturk did, systematically constraining Islam, and doing it, as Ataturk did, without being monstrously greedy, and with a corrupt court too obvious in both its corruption and in its greed. If one wanted the best for Muslims, whose travails are the result -- we know, even if they do not or cannot admit it -- of Islam itself. So we should want to create the conditions in which Muslims will be forced, as conditions forced Ataturk, to recognize the true effects of Islam, the ways in which Islam explains the political, economic, social, intellectual, and moral failures of Muslim states and societies. But if we keep sending billioins and tens of billions in aid, we delay the day of that recognition, we allow the people in these countries to keep on living as if the Infidels will always be there to bail them out, and their populationis skyrocket, and the men, sex-starved, full of aggression, congregate in angry mobs, against the Infidels of the world, but also in order to try to improve their lot by undoing authority, on the assumption that somehow a magic solution to unemployment (which is partly the result of grotesque overpopulation given the resources available) and the general economic desarroi disguised, but not cured, by aid from elsewhere.

What's best for the West is not an end to conflict, but continued conflict, where the warring groups in these countries spend their resources, and devote their attention, to fighting each other. But if, in the end, there must be a government, let it be one that does not receive, yet again, any military aid of any kind from the Western world, nor -- if we truly wish those peoples best, over the long run -- any economic aid either.

That's what's best for the West. And it's also what anyone who knows enough about Islam and about the conditions that made Ataturk, able to do what he did, would agree is best for the Muslmis. Ataturk was a remarkable man, but he came to power at a time when there was no television to film what he did, no mass audience abroad, full of sentimentality and ignorance, to denounce his sometimes violent and certainly relentlessly ruthless suppression of those Muslim clerics and others who tried to oppose him.

tThat ruthlessness, that police-state, was employed by the secular class in Tunisia. Ben Ali was not nearly universally opposed for his ruthless continuation of the taming-Islam policies of Bourguiba, but for his, and his in-laws, spectaculasr and unhidden greed and corruption. And ideally, Tunisia will find one man, or a group of men, worried about the resurgence of Islam and the re-emergence of Rashid Ghannouchi, and will take power, and do what Ben Ali did, but without the greed, and without the corruption -- in other words, will emulate Ataturk.

This has to be done from within, by Muslims-for-identification-purposes-only Muslims, who having grasped, by listening to the discussion in the West (so far, the discussion only in those two websites where such a matter was first, and then repeatedly, raised)  cannot deny its truth,as they look about them, and decide -- out of some kind of distinctly non-Islamic local patriotism, to do what Ataturk did, and to create the conditions for the rise of a secular class large enough, and cunning enough, and vigilant  enough (Erdogan's rise in Turkey should serve as a monitory example) to keep Islam constrained, and at bay.

The conditions that Muslims must confront are those of failure, of disarray. If we try to help them, help those "pro-democracy" demonstrators through aid, we will end up not helping them in the long run, but merely supplying the money upon which many in the ruling class (military and civilian) will batten. With our aid, military and civiliian, we have provided the wherewithal for the corruption we claim to deplore.

The only example of non-Muslims successfully constraining the practice and appeal of Islam among a Muslim population is that of the Soviet Union in Central Asia. It was a great achievement. But it was done through ruthless means, even if the same ruthlessness was exhibited evenhandedly toward all religions. Those means are no longer available, in the age of instant and mass communication, of the Internet, that is emails and Twitter, and a time of mass ignorance and mass sentimentality (the latest being the breathless and idiotic coverage by various celebrety journalists from Tahrir Square) Such ruthlessness would never be tolerasted today.

So do what's best for the West, which is also what is best  for Muslims. Leave them alone, don't give them aid, don't pay too much attention to them, but turn attention to all the things -- global warming, educational collapse, the rise of an economically aggressive China that may become aggressive in other ways, too -- that we have been paying insufficient attention to, as we have turned many of our newpapers into Jihad News, and given far too much attention to the doings of  people who do not as yet recognize how they have been primitivized by Islam.

 

 

Posted on 06/01/2011 11:54 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Two Grateful Iraqis, Brought to US, Plot Killing US Soldiers from Bowling Green

From AP via The Tennessean:

LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Two Iraqis living in Bowling Green, Ky., have been arrested and charged with conspiring to kill U.S. soldiers with improvised explosive devices in Iraq.

The pair also is accused of plotting to send Stinger missiles, cash, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers to Iraq.

They are accused of picking up the weapons, including machine guns, from a storage facility in Kentucky, believing that it would all be sent to insurgents supported by al-Qaida.

In fact, it was all part of an elaborate sting that was set up by a confidential informant, and none of the weapons ever had any chance of being shipped abroad.

Waad Ramadan Alwan, 30, and Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, 23, both former residents of Iraq who lived in Bowling Green, were charged in a 23-count indictment unsealed Tuesday for which they could be sentenced to life in prison.

They made their initial appearance Tuesday in a federal court here, where they both pleaded not guilty and were ordered detained.

Neither is charged with plotting attacks within the United States.

The FBI, the U.S. attorney’s office, the Louisville Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Justice Department’s national security division jointly announced the arrests.

U.S. Attorney David Hale said the indictment should send a message to terrorists.

“Whether they seek shelter in a major metropolitan area or in a smaller city in Kentucky, those who would attempt to harm or kill Americans abroad will face a determined and prepared law enforcement effort,” Hale said.

According to court records, the FBI began investigating Alwan in September 2009, a few months after he entered the United States. Records indicate that a confidential source for the FBI secretly tape recorded him as he bragged about using IEDs hundreds of times against Americans in Iraq from 2003 until he was arrested by local authorities in 2006.

Not idle boasts

Asked whether he had achieved results from the various devices in Iraq, Alwan reportedly told the informant, “Oh, yes,” adding that his attacks had “f..... up” Hummers and Bradley fighting vehicles, according to court records.

FBI Special Agent Richard Green said in an affidavit that investigators discovered Alwan’s claims about his use of explosive devices were not idle boasts: The FBI said it identified two of Alwan’s fingerprints on an unexploded bomb recovered by U.S. forces near Bayji, Iraq.

Alwan also reportedly told the confidential source that he liked to use a particular brand of cordless telephone in constructing his IEDs, and his prints allegedly were found on a phone of the same brand, according to Green’s affidavit.

The indictment says Alwan recruited Hammadi to help export weapons and cash to Iraqi insurgents, and that Hammadi also claimed to have experience deploying IEDs. In one conversation with the informant, Hammadi reportedly said he had been captured by authorities after the car in which he was driving got a flat tire shortly after he and others placed an IED on the ground...

Posted on 06/01/2011 2:14 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
In Libya, Unsurprisingly, War Crimes On Both Sides

From ABC News:

Both sides committed war crimes in Libya: UN

 

An injured member of Gaddafi's forces is paraded through Benghazi after his capture.

An injured member of Gaddafi's forces is paraded through Benghazi after his capture. (AFP : Patrick Baz )

A UN panel has accused Libyan leader Moamar Gaddafi's regime of carrying out systematic attacks on the population, saying it committed not only war crimes but also crimes against humanity.

While it found fewer reports of violations by the opposition, the commission of inquiry set up by the UN Human Rights Council also found rebel forces committed acts that constituted war crimes.

"In accordance with its mandate to look also at crimes committed in Libya, the commission has ... reached the conclusion that crimes against humanity and war crimes have been committed by the government forces of Libya," said the commission in a statement.

"The commission received fewer reports of facts which would amount to the commission of international crimes by opposition forces, however did find some acts which would constitute war crimes," it added.

The 47-member UN Human Rights Council set up the investigation into suspected crimes against humanity in February after Mr Gaddafi's regime dispatched Libya's army and air force to fire on civilians.

The team found evidence suggesting Mr Gaddafi's forces "used excessive force against demonstrators, at least in the early days of the protests, leading to significant deaths and injuries."

In addition, the regime impeded access to hospitals, as well as carried out arbitrary detentions and torture.

"The commission has found that there have been acts ... that were committed by government forces as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population with knowledge of the attack," the panel said.

"Such acts fall within the meaning of 'crimes against humanity'."

While it had received fewer reports of violations by opposition forces, the panel nevertheless found that some acts of torture carried out on people in detention, migrant workers and others believed to be mercenaries, constitute war crimes.

Led by former UN war crimes investigator Cherif Bassiouni of Egypt, the panel of investigators also includes Jordanian lawyer Asma Khader and Canadian Philippe Kirsch, a former judge and president of the International Criminal Court.

During its probe, it travelled to Libya and met with more than 350 people, including detainees in Libya and others who had been displaced.

It also studied more than 5,000 pages of documents, more than 580 videos and more than 2,200 photographs.

Meanwhile, Libya's top oil official became the latest leading figure to desert Mr Gaddafi's regime, complaining of "unbearable" violence and adding political momentum to a revolt against the leader's long rule.

The defection by National Oil Corp head Shokri Ghanem, who is also a former prime minister, came two days after the defections of eight army officers including five generals and those in earlier weeks of senior diplomats and former ministers.

"I left the country and decided also to leave my job and to join the choice of Libyan youth to create a modern constitutional state respecting human rights and building a better future for all Libyans," he said.

Speaking at a news conference in Rome organised by the Libyan ambassador, who has also defected, Mr Ghanem said he had left his job because of the "unbearable" violence in Libya.

"I have been working in Libya for so many years believing that we can make a lot of reform from within. Unfortunately this became not possible, especially now, when we see the spilling of blood every day in Libya, our best youth and our best men getting killed."

In rebel-held eastern Libya, an explosion damaged two cars outside Benghazi's Tibesti hotel, a building that has been used in the past for news conferences by the rebels seeking to topple Mr Gaddafi, Arab television stations reported. There was no immediate word of what caused the blast, or of any injuries.

Posted on 06/01/2011 7:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
"The Indictment Should Send A Message To Terrorists"

Two Iraqi men, admitted to the United States after what is presumed to have been rigorous checking  -- no fools, they, who work for the  Immigration and Naturalization Service, nor the American military, who would have known how to find out about the beahvior and the sympathies of these two men while they were in Iraq  -- have just been arrested for plotting to kill American soldiers at a nearby base in Kentuchky, and to acquire and send deadly weapons to Iraq to be used by fellow Muslim Arabs to kill other American soldiers.

The indictment of the two men sends a message, says U. S. Attorney David Hale.

To whom?

To terrorists:

"The U.S. Attorney David Hale said the indictment should send a message to terrorists".

Is that it? Is that the end of the matter? That terrorists, unnamed, have been sent a message, which message they presumably already knew, which is that there is a possiblity of their being caught, being indicted, and being found guilty (as these two will be) and then to be sentenced not to death, but to life, albeit life in prison (as these two will be).

And the two of them in prison will cost American taxpayers, over their lives, several millon dollars in room, board, medical care, the works.

What's more, unless they are sentenced to solitary confinement, and they won't be, they will be able to conduct Jihad, the Jihad of "pen, tongue," that is propagandizing for Islam, and helping to convert fellow inmates to Islam, And perhaps some of those fellow inmates will in turn help spread Islam -- not only to other prisoners (not all of whom will be in prison for life), but through other prisoners, to their families too. In other words, these men who planned to participate in Jihad can now, in prison, with all expenses paid and not a care in the world, devote their energies to conducting Jihad by promoting Da'wa, the Call to Islam.

So to whom else is that message being sent? It is being sent to the members of the U.S. Government. It is being sent to the members of Congress, who vote on immigration legislation, and who could, if they would only recognize the full danger in time, revise the laws so that Muslims, or rather "those who do not explicitly renounce Jihad in all of its forms" will not be admitted to the United States, and instead, whatever diminished quota may be assigned to a Muslim-majority country will be filled by those who can rightly claim, as non-Muslims, to have a reasonable fear of persecution (from Muslims).

And the message is also being sent to the Executive, that oversees the Immigration and Naturalization Services. It is being sent to members of the military, who should realize, after repeated errors over many years, that they are not good judges of the trustworthiness of Muslims. Think of all the Muslim military men who have turned on their American or NATO trainers or supposed comrades-in-battle, and killed them.

And finally, the message was sent -- he obviously didn't even think in those terms -- to U.S. Attorney David Hale himself, so that he wouldn't say, as he did, without more, that "the indictment should send a message to terrorists."

Posted on 06/01/2011 3:38 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Yemen Turns Out To Be Exactly Like Yemen

From The Wall Street Journal:

Rebel General Fights Yemen Regime

Urban Battle Escalates as Tribal Fighters Get Reinforcements, While Government Is Said to Deploy Elite U.S.-Trained Forces

Yemen edged closer to open civil war as the country's most powerful general sent troops to fight against government forces and the president was said to have deployed elite U.S.-funded counterterrorism troops against political opponents for the first time.

Forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh battle with a powerful tribal group backing his ouster in the Yemeni capital San'a.

Wednesday's moves promised to escalate the urban battle that has run for two days in the capital and appears to be the bloodiest in the country's four-month uprising. At least 37 people were killed in fighting Tuesday and Wednesday and dozens more were wounded, hospital officials in San'a said.

More fatalities were expected as fighting in San'a continued into the night, with explosions reverberating throughout the capital every few seconds early Thursday.

Brig. General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who for three decades provided the iron fist of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's rule, deployed about 1,000 of his troops late Wednesday in support of his fellow Hashid tribesmen. These tribal fighters have been at the fore as this spring's peaceful protests turned into a broader armed conflict, after negotiations broke down last week to ease Mr. Saleh from office after 33 years in power.

Early Thursday in San'a, two people familiar with Yemen's security forces said Mr. Saleh's government had deployed U.S.-trained counterterrorism troops to battle these tribal fighters. These people said the forces were deployed Tuesday.

It is believed to be the first time the troops—part of a U.S. bid to gain Mr. Saleh's cooperation in fighting Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula—have been deployed against political opponents.

"We have not received evidence that counterterrorism assistance has been used against demonstrators or political opponents during the current unrest," said Col. David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman. "We consistently monitor our counterterrorism assistance to Yemen and take allegations of misuse seriously."

Senior U.S. officials have peatedly repeatedly cautioned Mr. Saleh against using U.S.-trained forces and weapons against the protesters, officials say. U.S. law could force Washington to cut off assistance to U.S.-backed Yemeni forces if they are found to have committed human-rights abuses.

Amid the fighting, Germany, Italy and Kuwait said Wednesday they were evacuating much of their embassy staff from San'a.

Gen. Ahmar, who defected from Yemen's military more than two months ago and backed the protesters nonviolently, has roughly 40,000 men under his command and controls heavy artillery and armored vehicles.

Mr. Saleh has roughly 50,000 to 60,000 troops loyal to him. The pro-Saleh forces are among Yemen's best trained, including the Republican Guards, commanded by Mr. Saleh's son, and the Central Security force, commanded by a nephew, which includes the counterterrorism forces.

Gen. Ahmar's move holds potential to move the country toward a sustained civil war, or urge it to a more decisive end.

Abdul Jabbar, director of the independent Dar Ashraf Research Center in Yemen, characterized Gen. Ahmar as the president's closest ally over three decades. He suggested that by deploying a small number of his troops, the general appears to be pressing for the president's exit while seeking to avoid fueling clashes that could spur thousands of casualties.

"'Its a strong message to Saleh," Mr. Jabbar said. "The general knows that the more deaths that are recorded, the faster Saleh will go. He does not want to be remembered as a killer before he retires."

Reuters

A Yemeni tribesman is taken for aid Wednesday after a battle in San'a near Sheik Sadeq al-Ahmar's house.

Gen. Ahmar, who is also Hashid, first staked out a position as a defender of the nonviolent protests, and about half of Yemen's generals joined him when he defected. In March and April, he redeployed some of the armored vehicles and artillery under his command to San'a but stayed out of clashes last week between his tribe and pro-Saleh soldiers.

Gen. Ahmar is considered a conservative Islamist. He has close ties to Saudi Arabia and is linked with the conservative Islah party, Yemen's biggest opposition party.

People familiar with Gen. Ahmar said government forces attacked the general's compounds several times with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades on Tuesday and Wednesday before he retaliated.

Tareq al-Shami, spokesman for President Saleh's ruling party, blamed the country's tribes for sowing chaos and taking up arms.

"The Ahmar family always attack the government and complains first," he said. "The tribes are working in the same front with the defected military leaders. All those who are against the law are aiding one another for their personal benefits, and harming the country."

Yemeni soldiers shelled parts of the northern districts of the capital Wednesday evening, continuing what residents said has been nearly continuous battles that broke out Tuesday after a tenuous cease-fire, was struck over the weekend, fell apart.

Much of the two days' fighting centered on neighborhoods that are home to property and businesses owned by Sheik Ahmar's family, with clashes stretching from the north of the capital to the southern districts, where the family has several housing compounds.

Residents of northern neighborhoods reported nearly uninterrupted explosions and gunfire throughout Wednesday as fighters loyal to Sheik Ahmar gained control of key government buildings in the area. Fighting in the north extended to within three miles of San'a's international airport and edged close to the main airport road.

The people familiar with the elite counterterrorism unit's deployment said they have been fighting in Hasaba, an area in the capital's north where Sheikh Ahmar lives, and are at the heart of other battles.

In the south part of the capital, dozens of families were attempting to evacuate the area amid heavy gun battles, some residents said.

Regional Upheaval

Track events day by day in the region.

Hospital officials said the past two days' casualties include tribesmen, soldiers and civilians. They said they expected the number of fatalities to rise as clashes continued into Wednesday night.

Last month's proposal, part of political negotiations sponsored by Gulf Arab countries and supported by Washington, would have called for Mr. Saleh's exit but would have allowed him and his relatives immunity and influence over how the transition of power occurred. Amid the breakdown in the negotiations, the international community strongly condemned the violence and repeatedly urged President Saleh to take the deal.

Diplomats have yet to come up with an alternative plan or a way to stem the bloodshed.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said John Brennan, Mr. Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, was traveling this week to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to discuss "options to address the deteriorating situation in Yemen."

"We strongly condemn the recent clashes in San'a and the deplorable use of violence by the government against peaceful demonstrators in Taiz," Mr. Carney said. "These tragic events underscore the need for President Saleh to sign the GCC-brokered transition proposal and to begin the transfer of power immediately."

The weak bonds of confidence between the regime and its citizens frayed further Tuesday, as Hashid tribal leaders blamed the breakdown of the weekend's truce on the government. The two sides had agreed to Yemeni tribal mediators as a way to halt the violence that had flared up the week earlier.

Part of the truce was that the Hashids would end their occupation of government buildings, which they say they had seized last week as a way to protect their members' homes and property across the capital. Hashid members say that when they left those buildings Tuesday, government troops used those positions to attack them again.

 

Posted on 06/01/2011 11:15 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
A Musical Interlude: You're My Everything And What A Fool I've Been (Frank Luther)

Listen here.

Posted on 06/01/2011 11:21 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Jalaluddin Haqqani: For Americans He Was Once "Goodness Personified"

Q+A: Haqqani: From White House guest to staunch U.S. enemy

Tue, May 31 2011

By Michael Georgy

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan is gearing up for a military offensive against North Waziristan, a local newspaper reported, an operation that would pit the army against some of the world's most dangerous militants in the tribal region along the Afghan border.

Washington will push Pakistan to eliminate the Haqqani network -- which is based in North Waziristan and is one of its fiercest enemies just across the border in Afghanistan -- in any North Waziristan operation.

While the Pakistani military has launched major offensives in other regions in its unruly tribal belt, it has been hesitant to attack North Waziristan, which could pose the biggest risk.

Here are some questions and answers on the Haqqani network:

WHAT IS THE HAQQANI NETWORK?

Named after its leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, it is one of three, and perhaps the most feared, of the Taliban-allied insurgent factions fighting U.S.-led NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.

Jalaluddin gained notoriety as an anti-Soviet mujahideen commander in Afghanistan in the 1980s. His bravery and ability to organize mujahideen fighters won him funding and weapons from U.S. and Pakistani intelligence services and Saudi Arabia.

Former U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson, who fund-raised for the Afghan resistance, once called Jalaluddin "goodness personified". The warrior was held in such high esteem he visited the White House when Ronald Reagan was President.

After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Haqqani turned his ferocity and battle skills on Western forces. He earned a top spot on the CIA hit list, along with his old friend Osama bin Laden, whom he met during the anti-Soviet resistance.

Despite ill health, Jalaluddin, who is in his 70s, still inspires Haqqani foot soldiers believed to number up to 4,000, as well as other militant groups who revere him. His son Siraj, seen as more ruthless, runs the daily affairs of the network.

WHERE DO THE HAQQANIS OPERATE?

The Haqqanis are ethnic Pashtuns from the Zadran tribe in southeastern Afghanistan's Paktia province. The group is active across much of southeastern Afghanistan and seeks to regain full control over its traditional bases in Khost, Paktia and Paktika provinces.

The Haqqanis are thought to have introduced suicide bombing to Afghanistan. They are believed to have been behind several high-profile attacks in Afghanistan including a raid on Kabul's top hotel, an assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai and a suicide attack on the Indian embassy.

The Haqqanis are based in North Waziristan, although they have been heavily targeted in recent months by missiles fired from pilotless U.S. drone aircraft.

WHY DOES PAKISTAN ALLOW THEM TO STAY IN NORTH WAZIRISTAN?

The Haqqanis have become one of the biggest sources of tension between allies Washington and Islamabad.

Pakistan has denied supporting the Haqqanis but has long resisted U.S. pressure to launch a full-scale offensive in Waziristan to crush the network for both domestic and foreign policy reasons.

As one of the most powerful insurgent groups in Afghanistan, the Haqqanis could act as a spoiler if Pakistan feels its interests are threatened in any settlement to the ten-year war.

It also sees the Haqqanis as the best insurance policy against the growing influence of rival India in Afghanistan.

But caving in to Washington and attacking the Haqqanis could further destabilize Pakistan.

The armed forces are already stretched fighting a nexus of dangerous homegrown militants -- both Taliban and other groups -- who have found shelter in Haqqani-controlled territory and in return for an unofficial protective shield.

"They see him (Jalaluddin) as the Guardian of the al Qaeda forces in this region. If Pakistani troops launch an all-out attack on the Haqqani network that would mean upsetting the hornet's nest," said Imtiaz Gul, author of "The Most Dangerous Place: Pakistan's Lawless Frontier".

WOULD THE HAQQANIS FIT INTO ANY AFGHAN PEACE SETTLEMENT?

Pakistan hopes the United States will eventually welcome the participation of the Haqqanis in any Afghan peace talks. Kabul also understands the group can't be excluded.

Although the Haqqanis fall under the command of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, U.S. officials believe they do not always accept Taliban authority and can act independently.

Jalaluddin has historically shown a penchant for changing sides, as the Americans know all too well, and he may be more flexible than the hardline Siraj.

Washington is scrambling to bring stability to Afghanistan before its gradual withdrawal in July of 2011. Striking a deal with the Haqqanis may be wise while the ailing Jalaluddin might still have a say.

Posted on 06/01/2011 11:41 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald

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