These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 12, 2011.
Sunday, 12 June 2011
Newham - Temporary mosque reprieve slated as â€˜unjust and divisiveâ€™
From London 24
The decision by a government planning inspector that allows Islamic sect Tablighi Jamaat to continue to use their temporary mosque on the site of their proposed so-called ‘mega-mosque’ at West Ham has been roundly condemned by local opposition group Newham Concern.
For years Tablighi Jamaat have deliberately flouted building regulations and planning laws,” said Alan Craig, Newham Concern’s campaign director and former leader of the opposition on Newham Council. “After much delay and procrastination the council at last took the right action and told them to move off site, but the planning inspector has overturned this and apparently decided that illegality pays and they can stay on site with temporary planning permission for two years.
“This is ominous for the future development of this key site. It is unjust, as the rest of us are expected to act within the law of the land or we get penalised . . . And it is divisive as it puts Tablighi Jamaat in a privileged protected position.”
He added opposition against the construction of the “massive monument to separatism, bigotry and misogyny” will continue.
Posted on 06/12/2011 2:48 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 12 June 2011
Police 'covered up' violent campaign to turn London area 'Islamic'
Andrew Gilligan in the Sunday Telegraph. Many of the the individual incidents he cites have been covered here; please use our search facility to find them. However his articulating the collusion of the police and CPS (my opinion of them was low from the very beginning, and has spent 20 years plummeting) is alarming.
Victims say that officers in the borough of Tower Hamlets have ignored or downplayed outbreaks of hate crime, and suppressed evidence implicating Muslims in them, because they fear being accused of racism.
The claims come as four Tower Hamlets Muslims were jailed for at least 19 years for attacking a local white teacher who gave religious studies lessons to Muslim girls.
The Sunday Telegraph has uncovered more than a dozen other cases in Tower Hamlets where both Muslims and non-Muslims have been threatened or beaten for behaviour deemed to breach fundamentalist “Islamic norms.”
Teachers in several local schools have told The Sunday Telegraph that they feel “under pressure” from local Muslim extremists, who have mounted campaigns through both parents and pupils – and, in one case, through another teacher - to enforce the compulsory wearing of the veil for Muslim girls. “It was totally orchestrated,” said one teacher. “The atmosphere became extremely unpleasant for a while, with constant verbal aggression from both the children and some parents against the head over this issue.”
Even during meetings of the local council, prominent supporters of Tower Hamlets’ controversial directly-elected mayor, Lutfur Rahman – dropped by the Labour Party for his links to Islamic fundamentalism - have persistently targeted gay councillors with homophobic abuse and intimidation from the public gallery.
The Labour leader, Josh Peck, was attacked with animal noises and cries of “Unnatural acts! Unnatural acts!” when he rose to speak. The Conservative leader, Peter Golds, was repeatedly heckled as “Mrs Golds” and a “poofter”. It is a source of some wonder to me that Tower Hamlets retains an opposition on its council - all opposition was wiped out last year in LB Newham and LB Barking and Dagenham.
Mr Golds said: “If that happened in a football stadium, arrests would have taken place. I have complained, twice, to the police, and have heard nothing. A Labour colleague waited three hours at the police station before being told that nothing would be done. The police are afraid of being accused of Islamophobia. Another Labour councillor said that the Met is now the reverse of what it must have been like in the 1970s, (oh, this myth of the 70s - stop trying to infer that this is something we deserve for past perceived misdemeanours) with a complete lack of interest when white people make complaints of harassment and hatred.”
. . . the East London Mosque, Tower Hamlets’ most prominent Muslim institution. Although the mosque claims to be against extremism, discrimination, and violence, it has hosted dozens of hate, extremist or terrorist preachers and also hosted a “Spot The Fag” contest. In the same week that it issued a press release condemning the anti-gay stickers, the mosque was also due to host a “gala dinner” with Uthman Lateef, a homophobic hate preacher.
The mosque is controlled by a fundamentalist group, the Islamic Forum of Europe, which says that it is dedicated to changing the “very infrastructure of society, its institutions, its culture, its political order and its creed ... from ignorance to Islam.”
The IFE’s community affairs co-ordinator, Azad Ali, is chairman of the Muslim Safety Forum, an organisation officially recognised by the Met as its “principal [liaison] body in relation to Muslim community safety.” Mr Golds said: “This relationship may explain the police’s feebleness.”
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said: “When any allegation of crime is made to us, we investigate appropriately. We will always take action against hate crime in accordance with, and within the confines of, the law.”
Posted on 06/12/2011 3:02 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 12 June 2011
Even In Impoverished Yemen, Foreigners Apparently Needed For The Critical Work
From The Deccan.com:
500 Indians in Yemen pray for a ticket home
The plight of these prisoners of war is going unheard. More than 500 Indian employees of the Al Thawra Modern General Hospital in Sana'a of Yemen [500 Indians -- how many employees can the Al Thawra Modern General Hospital have in all?]are caught in a no man's land. Their passports are with the hospital authorities and the Indian government is doing precious little to bail them out. Already living under the shadow of war, they also face the threat of losing their only means of livelihood. Their passports with the hospital authority, the only exit route was by remitting two months' salary, getting back their papers and paying for the airfare back home. But deprived of the salary for the last two months, they now live like paupers. Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Mr. Vayalar Ravi, told Deccan Chronicle that the Central Government had contacted the embassy there. "Without much delay, a favourable decision will taken in this matter," he added. However, Mr Abraham George, secretary of Indian Employee Association in Al Thawra General Hospital, when contacted said the association had lodged a complaint with the Indian embassy in Sana'a. Officials issued a request notice to the hospital authorities citing the government's advisory to all Indians in Yemen to return. But there has been little progress after that. He said the hospital authorities were unwilling to budge and stuck to the stand that return of passports was possible only on remittance of two months' salary. “Unfortunately, most of those who signed the contract did it through middlemen and were not aware of the clauses in it. We have also brought this to the attention of the Chief Minister and expect his intervention,” he added.
Posted on 06/12/2011 7:16 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 12 June 2011
The Guilded Princelings of the Eurocracy
As taxes rise to ever more exorbitant levels; as Britain struggles to pull itself out of the economic cesspit bequeathed by New Labour; as pensioners go without meals and rubbish remains uncollected, it is good to know that hard-earned taxpayers' money is spent on a worthy cause. Daniel Hannan in The Telegraph:
I doubt this is what Guy Verhofstadt had in mind when he suggested that Britain save money by allowing the EU to take over its foreign policy. It turns out that Herman Van Rompuy and Baroness Ashton travelled in two separate private jets to the same meeting in Russia. Their flights left Brussels within four hours of each other, both with plenty of empty seats.
Eurocrats are forever lecturing the rest of us about carbon emissions. Perhaps they feel that, by imposing their targets and regulations, they have done their bit, and no further action is needed on their part.
It’s the same story, one assumes, with their attitude to fiscal continence. Austerity measures are for street sweepers in Sligo and classroom assistants in Corfu, not for European Commissioners who – as was revealed last week – have spent £6.6 million on luxury gifts, hotels and entertainment.
Given enough time, the primary purpose of every bureaucracy becomes the employment and comfort of its employees. Its stated function becomes secondary – if we’re lucky. This phenomenon is unusually developed in Brussels, not because the EU attracts unusually venal people [oh, yes it is - M. J.], but because its institutions are unusually remote.
The mediaeval despot, the African kleptocrat, the Oriental potentate, the European apparatchik, the FIFA functionary: all of them behave as people will when they are given great power without having to worry about voters. They bestride the narrow world. We petty men walk under their huge legs and peep about to find ourselves dishonourable graves.
Posted on 06/12/2011 7:59 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 12 June 2011
Spooks Unmask Burka Death Squads
This is a WORLD EXCLUSIVE from the Star on Sunday. Not the most intellectual of the UK's newspapers, but one that has some grass roots sources.
BRIT spooks have stopped SIXTY terror plots involving Black Widow bombers. Many of the Muslim women who were pulled in were carrying explosives, we can reveal.
The operation started when a dozen women in the London and Greater Manchester areas were picked up in security sweeps but allowed to go free. They were put under surveillance and led the spooks to more than 30 terror group leaders. But it is feared there are at least 20 of the Black Widow bombers still at large and ready to carry out their deadly missions.
A senior security source said: “The terrorists rely on a woman in a black flowing dress not being stopped. They can’t be searched easily because of their strict rules and it’s hard to see what they are hiding under their robes. A lot of people would think twice about searching them for fear of offending religious rules or being accused of sexual harassment or indecency.
"We have broken up a number of attacks with women involved. This is not anti-Muslim, it is a fact that women are being used as bombers and so they have to be stopped. By following them and seeing who they met and who these people associated with, we were led to people higher up the chain, the explosives handlers and Mr Bigs.”
It is estimated there are 2,200 people under surveillance in this country, including girls and women. They are usually recruited by fathers or brothers as many are restricted from talking to men outside the family.
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: “If we get any intelligence about suspicious activity related to terrorism we will investigate that and use whatever means at our disposal to do so. Both men and women are involved.”
A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman said: “We don’t know whether women are involved or not. If women are being recruited as terrorists they might be and we might not know. If we have operations running where they are being recruited as teams we would not disclose that. Women in the past have been arrested and charged on terrorism offences.”
Posted on 06/12/2011 8:10 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 12 June 2011
Hague Continues To Give The UN A Significance It Does Not Deserve
Here is the egregious William Hague:
UN must make 'clear statement' to Syria: Hague
LONDON — The UN Security Council must make a "clear statement" to the Syrian government with a resolution condemning its crackdown of anti-regime protesters, Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Sunday.
As Syrian forces clashed with protesters in a flashpoint town and international outrage at the brutal action against demonstrators mounted, Hague said the prospects of passing a resolution were "on a knife-edge".
"I do believe it is time for the Security Council to make a clear statement of the kind that we're advocating," Hague told Sky News.
He said the resolution should call on Syria "to respond to legitimate grievances, to release prisoners of conscience, to open up access to the Internet and to cooperate with the UN High Commisioner for Human Rights".
Britain, France, Germany and Portugal drafted the resolution and have shown their frustration at opposition to it from some of the 15 Security Council members.
South Africa, Brazil and India have expressed strong reservations about the European resolution, which has been amended in a bid to win them over, and behind-the-scenes talks were continuing through the weekend.
Hague said it was "much more difficult" to get a UN resolution on Syria than it had been in the case of Libya, where a resolution authorising the use of force to protect civilians received wide backing.
"There is no prospect of getting through the UN a resolution such as the UN resolution 1973 on Libya," he said.
"In the case of Libya there was a clear call from the Arab League for action and that was a transformative intervention. There is no such call in the case of Syria."
Syria has strong links to Russia, and the inter-connections between the Syrian government and Lebanon -- the current Arab representative on the Security Council -- had made it "impossible for the Lebanese government to take a clear position on this", Hague said.
He also hit out at Iran, saying Syria was "undoubtedly being assisted by the Iranian government", through supplying "equipment" and advising on how to crush protests.
Iran's role was "an extraordinary example of hypocrisy in world affairs," Hague said.
"The prospects of passing a resolution are on a knife-edge at the moment," Hague said, adding he would speak to the Brazilian foreign minister on Sunday and had discussed the issues with his South African counterpart in recent days.
Hague also said it was "high time" that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad spoke to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
UN officials say Assad has been refusing to take telephone calls from Ban in recent days. Ban has become an outspoken critic of the Syrian leader since protests erupted in March in which at least 1,100 people have been killed.
Syrian state television said Sunday that troops had fought violent battles with "armed gangs" in the northern town of Jisr Al-Shughur, where 120 security personnel were killed this month.
The government advance sent thousands of people fleeing across the border into Turkey.
Posted on 06/12/2011 8:55 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 12 June 2011
Jennifer Rubin: Obama Administration Won't Stop Trying To Bully Israel Into Capitulation
Obama bullies Israel; so much for promises at AIPAC
Since the president’s Arab Spring speech, friends of Israel have been nervous about at least two issues: the promise Israel would not have to sit down with those who seek its destruction and the negotiations based on the “1967 borders with land swaps.” This weekend it became apparent that there is much to worry about and that the Obama administration has been playing a game usually practiced by the Palestinians, namely telling its domestic audience one thing and the negotiating parties something different.
The trouble for the administration began on Friday afternoon when Eli Lake published a story for the Washington Times.
The White House is pressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to publicly adopt President Obama’s view that Israel’s pre-1967 border should be the basis for future peace talks.
The Obama White House appealed to Jewish leaders on Friday that the request of Israel was part of an effort to head off Palestinian plans to declare an independent state at the United Nations in September.
The request of Mr. Netanyahu was made Monday to the prime minister’s top peace negotiator, Yitzhak Molcho, at a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the National Security Council, according to an Israeli diplomat based in Jerusalem.
Lake also wrote:
Steven Simon, the new White House National Security Council senior director for the Middle East and North Africa, told representatives of the Jewish Community Friday during a conference call that the White House was looking to get both the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government to adopt Mr. Obama’s “principles as a basis for negotiation,” according to a recording of the call played for the Washington Times.
Mr. Obama’s position is “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”
Is the U.S. president pressuring Israel to adopt a position that is not its own and diminishes its bargaining position? And what happened to the statements in President Obama’s speech to AIPAC that Israel could not be expected to sit down with those who want to destroy it? After all Hamas has not yet agreed to the Quartet principles (recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and abide by past agreements), nor has Mahmoud Abbas separated himself from the unity government. To the contrary now he is renouncing past agreements including the Oslo Accords, which call for mutually negotiated final borders and prohibit the parties from taking unilateral steps that would impair negotiations.
I contacted the White House on Friday regarding the latter issue. I asked multiple times, “1.Can you confirm that the president’s position is that Israel should come to the table even without a commitment by Hamas to the Quartet principles and without Abbas breaking with Hamas? 2.If he is asking for 1967 borders from Israel, has anything been asked of Abbas before coming to the table?” Thomas Vietor, the NSC spokesman, refused to give a direct answer, referring me back to Obama’s speech:
1. The President was pretty clear about this in his speech. He said, “Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table. In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel — how can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist? In the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question.” He also said that “We will continue to demand that Hamas accept the basic responsibilities of peace, including recognizing Israel’s right to exist and rejecting violence and adhering to all existing agreements.”
2. The President laid out several principles for negotiations in his speech. These include that “a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples,” with “Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people,” “a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims” and security arrangements that are “robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism; to stop the infiltration of weapons; and to provide effective border security” in a “non-militarized” Palestinian state. He also said that the “borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”
But that didn’t answer the question. Is the administration now asking Israel to sit down with Abbas absent a commitment by Hamas or a break-up of the unity government? By gosh, that should be an easy answer (“No!”) , yet the administration won’t say.
This is a very, very big deal. Former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams explained to me Friday evening: “I hope news reports of what the Obama White House is privately demanding of Israel are wrong. If the reports are right, the U.S. is now abandoning the Quartet Principles — and asking Israel to negotiate with a Palestinian side that includes Hamas without Hamas taking one single step away from terror. The Palestinian ‘concession’ if these negotiations start would be to pull the plug on seeking U.N. membership.” Moreover, it is a “concession” with very little meaning. Abrams told me that the Palestinians “can’t get U.N. membership if the U.S. vetoes it, so this looks like a desperate White House effort to avoid having to veto. It would leave Israel negotiating with Abbas in the mornings while he is negotiating with Hamas in the afternoons.Then when he gets the Hamas deal the negotiations will collapse, just like they did last year.” He cracked, “The only thing left of that effort is the memory of Mubarak’s purple-black dyed hair in the East Room.” And like clockwork, Obama’s position now becomes the Palestinians’ latest precondition. It’s almost like they are on the same team.
Although it was a Friday evening, Capitol Hill was already rumbling. A GOP adviser told me, “If the administration really wanted to, it could pressure the Quartet to formally oppose the Palestinians’ unilateral move at the U.N. and nip the whole issue in the bud in a long weekend. Clearly, they would rather use this situation to box Prime Minister Netanyahu into a false choice between unilateral statehood and ’67 borders. The Congress will reject this false choice and so should the PM.” Moreover, Democrats who have been spinning the president’s conflicting statements as best they can may now feel burned. A longtime Middle East insider put it this way: “If there are preconditions [for Israel], then that is a change in policy. Just like the mistake we made over settlements, as Abbas said, leading him up a tree. And this time, not only creating a new Palestinian precondition to talks, but in essence giving the P.A. an excuse to pursue the U.N. track, if this latest gambit to wrest pre-negotiations concessions from the Israelis — and nothing from the Palestinians — ends in failure.”
Now what about the 1967 borders? Democratic defenders of the president have insisted that “1967 borders with land swaps” is nothing new. But it appears it certainly is. As the insider noted, “Yes, they are pressing for ’67 with swaps, not exactly ’67. But that’s not really the point — they’ve already adopted what was a Palestinian ‘goal’ as U.S. policy.”
And it is actually worse than that. On Saturday I asked a State Department official authorized only to speak on background: Does “1967 borders with land swaps” mean “1967 and then we discuss swaps” or does it mean “1967 borders plus the swaps that the parties previously agreed to in negotiations including the Jerusalem suburbs”? The latter, I pointed out is consistent with the 2004 Bush-Sharon letters, but the former is not. In fact, if it is 1967 and then they discuss land swaps, that is the same as starting with the 1967 borders. Period. And sure enough the State Department official tole me, “It means swaps that the parties will agree on in the course of direct negotiations.”
To be clear, Israel is being pressured to give up prior understandings that the Western Wall and the Jerusalem suburbs, for example, would never be part of a Palestinian state. A veteran negotiator explains, “This administration believes that every single deviation from ‘the 1967 borders’ must be paid for by Israel in a one to one swap. That has never before been the U.S. government’s demand, and it weakens Israel’s bargaining position.” In other words, there is zero difference in the Obama scheme between “1967 borders” and “1967 border with land swaps.” In both, the starting point is borders Israel has deemed indefensible.
Congressional friends of Israel are likely to be enraged A spokesman for Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) conveyed the senator’s view: “The president’s insistence last month that Israel return to the pre-1967 borders represented a significant departure from past U.S. policy and has been roundly repudiated by members of both parties. Given this lack of support, even from his own party, it is inconceivable why the President would continue to undermine the position of our democratic ally Israel in its negotiations with a hostile neighbor.”
I spoke to Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who plainly was angry over the continued effort to bully Israel. He said in a phone interview, “President Obama never learns. His real instinct is to weaken Israel. You don’t treat an ally this way.” He said he has never seen this sort of behavior from any U.S. president. After the apparent “rapprochement” following the Arab Spring speech, King says the current posture is “shameful.” Given the strong support in the Congress for Israel, will there be resolutions or a cutoff of funding for the Palestinians? He said firmly that it is time to start “fighting fire with fire.” In other words, as much as Obama seeks to pressure Israel while whispering vague promises to the American Jewish community, the Congress may very well try to recalibrate the balance. We should at least have one branch of government in our ally’s corner, right?
Posted on 06/12/2011 2:24 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 12 June 2011
East London Mosque under pressure over hate preachers
More on the London Borough of Tower Hamlets from Andrew Gilligan
I’ve written in some detail in today’s paper about the campaign of abuse, threats and violence being mounted by Muslim extremists in Tower Hamlets to “Islamise” this multicultural area. . .
Now some of the people worst affected – the local gay community – are increasingly taking a stand. Last week, a group of gay activists wrote a brave and important open letter drawing attention to the problems and the role in them of the fundamentalist East London Mosque, the area’s largest Muslim institution.
Though the mosque regularly claims to be opposed to hate, its actual actions expose this as a lie. Over the last few years, in the activists’ words, the East London Mosque has “hosted numerous hate preachers who have promoted the most vicious homophobia imaginable.”
The response of the mosque’s supporters is, quite extraordinarily, to blame the victims. According to Bob Pitt, of the “Islamophobia Watch” website, it is they who are the “bigots” for daring to “stitch up” the East London Mosque. (Bob’s passion for truth was also evident the other week, when he attacked me for an incorrect news-in-brief item about the mosque in the Telegraph which I did not write.)
On the same “Islamophobia Watch” website, Terry Stewart, of a group called Out East, repeats the bigot slur and claims that “the highest rates [of homophobic crime] are not in Tower Hamlets or communities with a high density of Muslim people.” Mr Stewart cites the unlikely borough of Kingston-on-Thames as an anti-gay hotbed, pointing out its 83% year-on-year increase in homophobic crimes.
Sadly for Mr Stewart, the “83 per cent rise” in Kingston turns out to be an increase from, ahem, 6 homophobic hate crimes a year to 11. Percentage changes always look dramatic when they are on tiny bases. The absolute number of gay hate crimes in Kingston last year was about an eighth of the number in Tower Hamlets.
Out East is, of course, a self-appointed grouplet which represents nobody – unlike the signatories of the letter, who include a number of well-respected people in the community. But even so, its behaviour is an illustration of the astonishing contortions the hard left can drive people into. How many other supposed gay activists do you know who spend their time attacking other gay people and defending proven homophobes?
Posted on 06/12/2011 3:43 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 12 June 2011
Those American Congressmen In Iraq
Iraq says U.S. congressman, delegation not welcome in country
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, left, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher shake hands in Baghdad on Friday.
Baghdad (CNN) -- The U.S. Embassy in Iraq is distancing itself from statements made by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher that led to a government spokesman saying the congressman and his delegation are not welcome in the country.
Embassy spokesman David Ranz issued a statement Saturday saying "congressional visitors do not necessarily express the views of the U.S. administration or even a majority of Congress. The visitors this weekend made that clear in their remarks."
In widely reported statements after a meeting Friday with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, the California Republican said he informed the Iraqi leader that his House committee is investigating the killing of Iranian exiles by Iraqi forces.
Rohrabacher, the chairman of the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also told reporters during a news conference at the embassy in Baghdad that he suggested Iraq repay some of the cost of the war.
"Once Iraq becomes a very rich and prosperous country ... we would hope that some consideration be given to repaying the United States some of the mega-dollars that we have spent here in the last eight years," said Rohrabacher, according to the Agence France-Presse news agency.
CNN could not independently confirm the comments that were attributed to Rohrabacher. Multiple calls to his Washington and California offices were not immediately returned.
It was unclear whether the U.S. Embassy recorded the news conference. It did not make any video or audio recordings of Rohrabacher's statements available to the media.
Iraq has informed the embassy that the delegation is no longer welcome, Ali al-Dabbagh, Iraq's government spokesman, said Saturday.
"We have contacted the U.S. Embassy and they said the remarks of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher expressed his own opinion and not the official opinion of the United States," the spokesman said.
Al-Dabbagh said the relationship between Iraq and United States is still solid and would not be hurt by Rohrabacher's remarks.
Ranz declined to confirm the conversation, saying "we do not comment on private diplomatic exchanges."
Rohrabacher's comments come at a delicate time for al-Maliki, who is consulting with his government about whether to ask to extend U.S. troops beyond a January 1, 2012, deadline to withdraw.
About 47,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, down from 170,000 in 2007, during the peak of sectarian violence.
Rohrabacher's trip was characterized partly as a fact-finding mission over clashes in April between Iraqi forces and Iranian exiles at Camp Ashraf that left 34 people dead and more than 200 wounded.
Traveling with Rohrabacher were Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan of Missouri; Rep. Ted Poe of Texas, a Republican member of Rohrabacher's subcommittee; Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan of South Carolina; Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas; and Democratic Rep. Jim Costa of California.
Telephone calls to the district and Washington offices of all five congressmen were either not answered or not immediately returned.
Rohrabacher has said his delegation was denied permission by al-Maliki to visit the camp, home to some 3,300 members of an Iranian guerilla group that fought against Iran's government and were given haven by Saddam Hussein's Sunni-majority government.
Iraq has ordered the camp be closed by the end of the year and wants the residents to leave the country. The residents are refusing to budge, and do not recognize Iraqi sovereignty over their camp. The result has been a number of deadly clashes in recent years.
The United States considers the group, known as the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization, or MEK, to be a terrorist organization.
The Iranian dissidents say they will be killed if they are returned to Iran.
The U.S. has proposed a plan that would temporarily relocate the MEK within Iraq, farther from the border with Iran.
Under the plan, they would later be relocated to other countries. That would not include the United States, since U.S. law bars anyone associated with a terrorist organization from settling there.
Nota Bene: Any adherent of Islam must be presumed to take the Qur'an as the immutable Word of God. The Qur'an calls for "striking terror" in the hearts of the Unbelievers, that is the non-Muslims. Isn't that association enough with terrorism, without any need to find enrollment in a particular terrorist organization? Shouldn't that issue be raised by those willing to make "No Immigration Without Representation" their motto, and shouldn't would-be immigrants who are Muslims be asked to abjure, publicly, by writing and by oath, that part and many other parts similar to it (what are called by some, as those who composed the Calcutta Petition, the "Jihad Verses") in the Qur'an, and in the Hadith?
Posted on 06/12/2011 7:42 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 12 June 2011
And Now, From Yemen, Introducing Ansar Al-Sharia
From The Washington Post:
Militants linked to al-Qaeda emboldened in Yemen
SANAA, Yemen — Islamist extremists, many suspected of links to al-Qaeda, are engaged in an intensifying struggle against government forces for control of southern Yemen, taking advantage of a growing power vacuum to create a stronghold near vital oil shipping lanes, said residents, Yemeni and U.S. officials.
Over the past few weeks, the militants have swiftly taken over two towns, including Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province, and surrounding areas and appear to be pushing farther south, said Yemeni security officials and residents. Increasingly, it appears as if al-Qaeda’s regional affiliate is seeking for the first time to grab and hold large swaths of territory, adding a dangerous dimension to Yemen’s crisis.
U.S. and Yemeni officials worry that a loss of government control in the south could further destabilize this strategic Middle Eastern nation, already gripped by political paralysis, violent conflicts and fears of collapse.
The government has not allowed journalists to visit Zinjibar. This article is based on more than a dozen interviews with provincial officials, government employees and tribal leaders from Abyan, as well as Yemeni and U.S. officials, and telephone interviews with residents of Zinjibar and surrounding areas.
They describe a ghost town where streets are a canvas of destruction, struck by daily shelling, air assaults and gunfire. There’s no electricity, water or other services. Tens of thousands, mostly women and children, have fled the city. Men have stayed back only to protect their homes. The extremists man checkpoints, and any semblance of authority or governance has vanished.
“They want to create an Islamic emirate,” said Mohammed al-Shuhairi, 50, a journalist in al-Kowd, near Zinjibar. “I have lived through wars here in 1978, 1986 and 1994. But I have never seen anything as bad as this.”
The Islamist extremists are mostly from various Yemeni provinces but also include other Arabs and foreign fighters. They call themselves Ansar al-Sharia, or Supporters of Islamic Law, residents said.
In an April 18 interview on jihadist Web sites, Abu Zubayr Adel al-Abab, described as a sharia official with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, as the Yemen branch is called, said the militants identified themselves as Ansar al-Sharia.
“The name Ansar al-Shariah is what we use to introduce ourselves in areas where we work to tell people about our work and goals, and that we are on the path of Allah,” said Abab, according to a translation by the London-based International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence.
The takeover of Zinjibar underscores the growing aggressiveness and confidence of AQAP, which appears to be taking advantage of political turmoil triggered by the populist rebellion seeking to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The crisis has further deepened since Saleh was severely wounded in a June 3 assault on his presidential palace, forcing him to fly to neighboring Saudi Arabia for treatment and raising doubts about his ability to rule.
Long before the death of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, American officials considered AQAP among the most significant threats to U.S. soil and worried that it could create a launchpad to target the United States and its allies. The capture of Zinjibar and nearby towns give the group access to the Red Sea and its vital oil shipping lanes. The militants are also well positioned to attack the port city of Aden, about 30 miles south.
U.S. State Department and intelligence officials have worried that AQAP will exploit the worsening security situation in Yemen, and American officials have closely tracked the fighting in Zinjibar as a possible early test of the group’s strength in the region. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said AQAP’s sizable presence puts the country on a different tier compared with other nations hit by political unrest.
“It’s the reason why we’ve had such an ongoing, robust counterterrorism cooperation,” Toner told reporters last week. “But as we’ve said many times, that cooperation isn’t hinged on one individual.” Regardless of who leads Yemen, he said, “we’re going to continue to work with the [current] government” to keep the terrorist group from gaining a foothold.
The rise of the Islamist extremists also complicates a political landscape that is crowded with several groups seeking power, including youth activists, the traditional political opposition, Saleh’s loyalists, powerful tribal leaders and defected military generals.
Although the extremists have not declared any national political aspirations, many fear that they could end up ruling portions of the south in the same way the Houthi rebels have done in the north, further dividing the country and eroding the authority of the central government.
“If they remain, they will have great impact on Yemen’s politics,” said Qassem al-Kasadi, a ruling party lawmaker from Abyan. “They could end up ruling over portions of the south. In the areas they have taken over, they are already manning checkpoints and ordering residents to follow sharia.”
Collapse in authority
Yemen’s rugged south has long provided a hiding place for AQAP militants, who are shielded by sympathetic, anti-regime tribes and impenetrable mountains. One of the group’s top leaders, radical Yemeni American cleric Anwar al-Aulaqi, whom the Obama administration has targeted for assassination, is thought to be in the south.
The New Mexico-born Aulaqi has been implicated in attacks on the United States, including the 2009 Fort Hood, Tex., shootings that killed 13, and the failed Christmas Day attempt that year to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner. Last year, AQAP dispatched parcel bombs on cargo flights to the United States.
It’s unclear how many of the extremists are AQAP members. Thousands of Islamist militants, including many former jihadists who fought in Afghanistan, Iraq and other Muslim nations, live in Yemen. Many have past links to al-Qaeda and express sympathy for the group’s core philosophies. Others have tribal, social and inspirational ties to the terrorist network.
In March, the militants easily seized the small agricultural town of Jaar and surrounding areas, as government troops abandoned their posts. On May 27, extremists took control of Zinjibar, taking advantage of a collapse in authority as government forces battled tribesmen in the streets of Sanaa, the Yemeni capital.
Many of Saleh’s opponents accuse him of intentionally ceding ground as a warning to his allies in the United States and the Arab world, as well as ordinary Yemenis, that the nation would collapse if he were to fall from power. They say he has long exaggerated the threat of AQAP to secure funds and support from the West.
“Al-Qaeda appears whenever the regime wants, and they disappear whenever the regime wants,” said Ahmed Abdullah al-Azani, another lawmaker from Abyan. “If the regime wants, it can easily kick these Islamists out.”
Kasadi said he did not believe that Saleh would allow the Islamists to take over so much territory as a ploy to remain in power. “It’s not in the government’s favor if a province falls,” he said. “That shows part of the government has fallen.”
‘We left everything’
In Zinjibar, residents said government buildings and stores are shut down; many were destroyed by the shelling and airstrikes. Government officials and other sources of authority reportedly have fled.
The militants, mostly bearded youths dressed in civilian clothes, are said to control the streets. They retreat during air assaults, then re-emerge when things quiet down. Residents described the extremists as polite and not oppressive. There are as many as 700 militants in Zinjibar and surrounding areas, said Yemeni security officials.
In recent days, as the extremists seek to push farther south, the fighting has intensified. That forced Hussein Nasser Abdullah, 48, on Wednesday to quickly leave his home along with 35 relatives, joining thousands of other families. Some sleep inside public schools in Aden, the rest with relatives and friends. “We left everything back there,” Abdullah lamented.
Ali Ashoor sent his wife and three daughters to another town. He spends his days searching for food and water. By nightfall, he locks himself inside his home and sleeps on the first floor, enveloped in darkness and fear. Saturday night illustrated why.
“I can hear bullets and shelling. Both sides are attacking us,” the 56-year-old retired government employee screamed over his cellphone. “I feel my home will get bombed at any minute.”
“Our future is unknown,” he added moments later.
Posted on 06/12/2011 8:49 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 12 June 2011
About Policy In Afghanistan, After Ten Years Of Squandering, In Washington Signs People Coming To Their Senses
Obama weighs scale of Afghanistan pullout
Amid growing doubts in Congress over the war's cost, the Obama administration begins an internal debate this week on how many troops to bring home, and when.
By Peter Nicholas and Lisa Mascaro, Los Angeles Times
June 13, 2011
Reporting from Washington
The Obama administration opens an internal debate this week on the size of a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan amid growing doubts in Congress about the cost and purpose of the decade-long war and public pressure to bring it to a rapid end.
President Obama is expected to announce next month the size and pace of a drawdown he promised in December 2009, when he rolled out a strategy that included adding 30,000 U.S. troops in hopes of breaking the Taliban's momentum.
He will reach a decision on the number in deliberations with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Gen. David H. Petraeus, who are known to favor a small initial reduction in the 100,000-strong troops on the ground, and other officials who want to move more quickly.
Obama has given few hints on which way he is leaning, but the ground may be shifting in favor of a much smaller military footprint. Gates is retiring at the end of the month. Petraeus is moving to the CIA, where he will no longer have direct influence over the size of the military force.
And with Washington focused on trimming the federal deficit, the White House is coping with a wave of public frustration over a conflict that is costing $120 billion a year.
Ending the war is one of the few ideas to attract bipartisan backing on Capitol Hill. Last month, 204 House members voted for an amendment that would have required the administration to come up with an accelerated deadline for pulling out of Afghanistan, the strongest expression of disaffection with the war since operations began in late 2001.
The amendment by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) would have compelled Obama to report within 60 days on an exit strategy, including a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops and handing off military operations to the Afghan government.
Although the measure did not pass, it captured 42 more votes than a similar proposal in July. Support ranged from the traditional antiwar left to "tea party" conservatives upset about the cost of the war.
Most of those who supported the amendment were Democrats, including the entire House Democratic leadership. Among them was the No. 2 Democrat in the House, Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, who had been a reliable supporter of the war in previous years.
"It is essential that we fight the smartest war possible against terrorists — but it is fair to ask how a massive troop presence in Afghanistan continues to help us accomplish that goal," Hoyer said in a speech before the vote.
The number of Republicans who supported the amendment increased to 26 — nearly triple the total from the last vote.
Lawmakers say they've lost their appetite for an expensive conflict at a time of high deficits and other priorities closer to home. They cite the death of Osama bin Laden last month, and they contend that mercurial Afghan President Hamid Karzai is not a reliable partner. Some question the wisdom of committing resources to Afghanistan when Pakistan and Yemen may be bigger hotbeds of terrorist activity. [but no one in power apparently questions the need for a large-scale American presence, instead of satellite monitoring, drones, and intermittent attacks from afar, as needed, and otherwise allowing Muslim states to subsist as they can, without Western aid, forcing Muslims, or the most intelligent among them, to begin to understand the connection between Islam and their own political, economic, social, intelllectual, and moral failures]
During a confirmation hearing Wednesday for Ryan Crocker, Obama's nominee for ambassador to Afghanistan, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), a close White House ally, captured the sense of impatience. "While the U.S. has genuine national security interests in Afghanistan, our current commitment in troops and in dollars is neither proportional to our interests nor sustainable," Kerry said. [for Kerry, this is new]
Obama's habit is to split the difference when confronted with competing pressures. Past practice suggests he may opt for a small initial reduction followed by a series of more aggressive withdrawals culminating in the formal handoff of security responsibilities to the Afghans in 2014. McGovern and others who met with the president at the White House recently said they did not get the impression he would order a major troop reduction right away.
"I didn't get the assurance that I wished I would have received that this would be a dramatic drawdown," McGovern said in an interview.
Electoral realities may also sway the decision. The public is increasingly tired of the war — a fact not lost on White House political advisors gearing up for a reelection campaign next year. Americans tend to rate the war low on their list of concerns, but growing numbers believe the U.S. should get out now.
The administration debate will take place in summer, a time when the pace of fighting and the number of casualties traditionally increase. Unlike past wars, however, in which casualties were a singular source of frustration, voters seem more annoyed by the drain on U.S. resources.
A new poll by the Pew Research Center found that most Americans believe that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are the main expense driving the federal budget deficit.
Budget experts say the large deficits are the product of many forces: stimulus, bailout and prescription drug packages that weren't paid for; Bush-era tax cuts; and a slumping economy.
Even so, another poll released by CBS News last week found that 51% believed the U.S. should not be involved in Afghanistan — an increase of 12 percentage points from a similar poll in fall 2009.
"All these things are driving a much more animated [internal] discussion about where we go from here," said an Obama administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Top military officials say it is a bad time to start a rapid withdrawal. The Taliban was routed last year from key areas in its heartland in southern Afghanistan and has been weakened by raids targeting mid-level commanders, they say. But the officials describe the territorial gains as fragile and reversible.
Taliban fighters have struck back in recent weeks in southern districts such as Sangin, where Marines last year suffered some of their highest casualty rates of the war. The militants have also launched a campaign of assassinations against Afghan officials, a tactic to disrupt efforts to provide stability and solid public services in areas wrested from Taliban control.
Gates, on a recent trip to Afghanistan, made the case for a minimal withdrawal of combat troops in the near future, saying he would prefer to pull out support personnel while leaving "shooters" in place.
His likely successor is Leon E. Panetta, who was budget director in the Clinton administration and may be more attuned to the war's costs. Vice President Joe Biden has made it clear that he prefers a small-scale force focused more on routing terrorists than stabilizing Afghanistan.
"Those in the White House who make the argument for a faster acceleration [of troop withdrawal] are in a little bit stronger position than if Gates or Petraeus were staying another six or 12 months," said retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, a former U.S. commander in Afghanistan and now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.
Gates and Petraeus have been hugely influential, Barno said. "It will take some time for their successors to get established and exercise that kind of influence."
Posted on 06/12/2011 9:13 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 12 June 2011
A Musical Interlude: Love Is The Sweetest Thing (Al Bowlly)
Posted on 06/12/2011 9:20 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 12 June 2011
Missing The Point In Darfur
Here, at the site of the Voice of America, is an article about Darfur:
Water Scarcity Root of Darfur Conflict
The conflict in Western Sudan's Darfur region erupted more than eight years ago. It has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced an estimated two million people. Disputes over scarce water and grazing land between black African farmers and Arab pastoralist communities triggered the war. Lack of access to water remains one of the major drivers of the ongoing conflict in Darfur. An international conference in Khartoum at the end of June will focus on the critical issue of water and how the equitable use and management of this limited resource can help build peace in this troubled region.
When people in developed countries want water, they turn on the tap.
When people in Darfur want water, they have to search far and wide for it.
A UN video shows women and children walking long distances through the arid desert to fetch water in Darfur. They wait in lengthy lines at the communal well to fill their jerry cans with water for their drinking and washing needs. This process is repeated every three or four days.
According to the United Nations, one person uses nearly 400 liters of water per day, in the world's wealthiest countries. In Darfur, 400 liters of water is shared by 20 people.
Mohamed Yonis is Deputy Joint Special Representative of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur.
"Water is one of the main root causes of this conflict," said Yonis. "There is a need to address this issue and we do believe that water will serve as an instrument for peace."
The United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has been in Darfur for three and one half years. Yonis says well managed and equitably distributed water resources can ensure sustainable peace for the people in Darfur.
"Water we believe is life and we believe it could contribute to the initiatives that the UN is making in terms of trying to reach peace with the people of Darfur," added Yonis.
The United Nations is mediating Sudan peace negotiations in Doha, Qatar. But, a political solution remains elusive. The world body is hoping for better results from the Water Conference it is organizing jointly with the Government of Sudan at the end of the month.
The conference will seek $1.5 billion from donors to support 56 water projects over the next six years. These projects will focus on rebuilding the water infrastructure devastated by conflict and neglect. They will introduce new technologies and systems for managing water, preparing for drought and helping farmers adapt to climate change.
Robin Bovey, the Sudan Program Manager for the UN Environment Program, says providing water in the Sahel is difficult because there is not much of it. He calls managing water resources a massive undertaking that cannot be done in isolation.
"We are presently setting up drought committees in camps," said Bovey. "There will be another drought. I mean there will be droughts that occur again. This is just something that happens on a cyclical basis. But, where you have population shifts, you have to make sure that people are prepared."
Nils Kastberg, the representative for the UN Children's Fund for Sudan, says getting access to that water requires peace. And peace can best be achieved on the local level.
"If we put a well and that leads to different groups of people fighting over access to that water, than we are contributing to conflict," added Kastberg. "If, instead, we can use the access to water as a way for establishing dialogue between different groups, so that through that dialogue we can provide, for instance, access to water, but at the same time get the dialogue going that is so needed, then we are constructing peace from the local level."
But, aid agencies agree these peace initiatives ultimately will lead nowhere without cooperation from the Sudanese government. They are urging the government to provide services equally to all people in Darfur and to grant them freedom of movement so they can distribute essential relief and care.
They believe the best prospects for peace lie with local communities, not with the Central government. They say people are tired of fighting. They want to trade their goods. They want access to markets and water.
And this, aid workers say, is prompting many communities to conclude their own peace agreements. If this process grows and spreads from village to village, they say, these local agreements could translate into a significant regional-wide peace for Darfur.
That water is scarce is known. But why should that lead to mass killings of hundreds of thousands of black Africans by those who call themselves Arabs? And to mass burning down of villages, and killing or seizing of cattle and other animals belonging to those same black Africans?
There was no "conflict" here, in which two sides had been warring for years. It was a unilateral attack, continuing over many years, using all the weapons of war against helpless -- unarmed -- villagers.
Nor was there any discussion about water.
The issue was not only water. It was land. The black Africans of Darfur are being driven out of Darfur, or killed. That is what the conflict is about.
And Lisa Schlein appears unable to understand that the ruthlessness of the behavior of the Arabs is part of the Arab supremacism for which Islam is a vehicle. The Arabs, being the "best of peoples," who gave the world the gift of Islam -- and all Muslims must ape Arab ways, must worship an eighth-century Arab (who may or may not have existed, but such considerations hardly matter to Believers) as the Perfect Man, and adopt the manners, customs, attitudes, of Muhammad and his Companions.
It would hardly be enough to say that Hitler went to war because he wanted power. There is a great deal else to say about the ideology of Nazism, and how it effected the conduct of the Germans during the war they caused.
It is not enough to claim -- inaccurately because incompletely -- that the war in Darfur is over water.
Not nearly enough..
Posted on 06/12/2011 9:33 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald