These are all the Blogs posted on Sunday, 15, 2009.
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Was Hasan Crazy?
The NYTimes has a re-cap article on Major Hasan that presents no new evidence, but shows how the investigators and media are having a hard time understanding "sudden jihad syndrome."
WASHINGTON — When Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan took his two handguns and headed for Fort Hood on Nov. 5, he left behind in his spartan apartment his new business cards. Now they are one more clue for investigators of the 13 killings he is charged with, hinting at the road not taken.
On the cards, ordered over the Internet after Major Hasan was transferred to the sprawling Texas base in July, the 39-year-old psychiatrist omitted the rank he had achieved in the Army he had served for most of his adult life. Instead, he included the cryptic abbreviation “SoA,” apparently “Servant of Allah” or “Soldier of Allah,” perhaps marking a symbolic shift of allegiance from his military profession to his increasingly consuming faith.
But a man plotting mass murder does not ordinarily plan to open a business. Whether Major Hasan hoped to moonlight as a private therapist specializing in Muslim patients or imagined that he might be permitted to exit the Army early, the cards and many other clues will be studied by Army and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents trying to answer the same questions that many Americans have debated over the last 10 days:
Was Major Hasan a terrorist, driven by religious extremism to attack fellow soldiers he had come to see as the enemy? Was he a troubled loner, a misfit who cracked when ordered sent to a war zone whose gruesome casualties he had spent the last six years caring for? Or was he both?...
As Hugh Fitzgerald has pointed out many times, when non-Muslims become depressed they might blame many different people or circumstances for their predicament, or they might simply blame themselves. Muslims, on the other hand, have in their worldview an all-purpose scapegoat-enemy -- the infidel -- toward which their rage may be directed. A personal crisis can trigger "sudden jihad syndrome" in some Muslims. That doesn't mean Hasan was "crazy." I think in this case, circumstances forced him into choosing which side he was going to fight on. He is probably feeling at peace, thinking his sins, such as the lap-dance episodes, have been forgiven due to his murderous rampage in which he fought for Allah. He almost certainly feels no remorse, but this is not a sign of schizophrenia, this is the result of Islamic morality.
Posted on 11/15/2009 6:35 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 15 November 2009
A Voice And A Composer – And An Unknown Pianist
Here is the incomparable Yvonne Kenny singing that wonderful song (Das himmlische Leben) from Mahler’s last Wunderhorn symphony – the fourth. It’s a song originally composed by Mahler some eight years before his fourth symphony was actually composed. This song was originally destined to be somehow included in the lush tonalities of his third symphony which incorporates many of the song’s motifs.
However, the song ended up in the very spare, by Mahler’s standards, fourth symphony and this version – which gives full rein to Ms. Kenny’s abilities and control of her own voice and adds stature to a great accompanist on the piano – is wonderful in evoking the sense of the minimal which Mahler managed to convey in his fourth symphony.
For me, this is a moment of pure musical magic. There is something about this which speaks to me of Mahler at his best! This is a rare little clip which I’m glad that I found. Gustav didn’t do minimalism but I think that he might have approved of this and of Yvonne Kenny’s superb voice heard here at the height of her power and her ability to restrain her vocal accomplishments in order to satisfy the demands of the score in front of her.
Wonderful! Sheer, pure witchcraft!
Here’s the translation:
Das himmlische Leben
(aus Des Knaben Wunderhorn)
Wir geniessen die himmlischen Freuden,
D'rum tun wir das Irdische meiden.
Kein weltlich' Getummel
Hort man nicht im Himmel!
Lebt alles in sanftester Ruh'.
Wir führen ein englisches Leben,
Sind dennoch ganz lustig daneben;
Wir tanzen und springen,
Wir hupfen und singen,
Sanct Peter im Himmel sieht zu.
Johannes das Lammlein auslasset,
Der Metzger Herodes d'rauf passet.
Wir fuhren ein geduldig's,
Ein liebliches Lammlein zu Tod.
Sanct Lucas den Ochsen tät schlachten
Ohn' einig's Bedenken und Achten.
Der Wein kost' kein Heller
Im himmlischen Keller;
Die Englein, die backen das Brot.
Gut' Krauter von allerhand Arten,
Die wachsen im himmlischen Garten,
Gut' Spargel, Fisolen
Und was wir nur wollen.
Ganze Schüsseln voll sind uns bereit!
Gut' Apfel, gut' Birn' und gut' Trauben;
Die Gartner, die alles erlauben.
Willst Rehbock, willst Hasen,
Auf offener Straßen
Sie laufen herbei!
Sollt' ein Fasttag etwa kommen,
Alle Fische gleich mit Freuden angeschwommen!
Dort lauft schon Sanct Peter
Mit Netz und mit Köder
Zum himmlischen Weiher hinein.
Sanct Martha die Köchin muß sein.
Kein' Musik ist ja nicht auf Erden,
Die unsrer verglichen kann werden.
Zu tanzen sich trauen.
Sanct Ursula selbst dazu lacht.
Kein' Musik ist ja nicht auf Erden,
Die unsrer verglichen kann werden.
Cäcilia mit ihren Verwandten
Sind treffliche Hofmusikanten!
Die englischen Stimmen
Ermuntern die Sinnen,
Daß alles für Freuden erwacht.
(From Des Knaben Wunderhorn)
We enjoy heavenly pleasures
and therefore avoid earthly ones.
No worldly tumult
is to be heard in heaven.
All live in greatest peace.
We lead angelic lives,
yet have a merry time of it besides.
We dance and we spring,
We skip and we sing.
Saint Peter in heaven looks on.
John lets the lambkin out,
and Herod the Butcher lies in wait for it.
We lead a patient,
an innocent, patient,
dear little lamb to its death.
Saint Luke slaughters the ox
without any thought or concern.
Wine doesn't cost a penny
in the heavenly cellars;
The angels bake the bread.
Good greens of every sort
grow in the heavenly vegetable patch,
good asparagus, string beans,
and whatever we want.
Whole dishfuls are set for us!
Good apples, good pears and good grapes,
and gardeners who allow everything!
If you want roebuck or hare,
on the public streets
they come running right up.
Should a fast day come along,
all the fishes at once come swimming with joy.
There goes Saint Peter running
with his net and his bait
to the heavenly pond.
Saint Martha must be the cook.
There is just no music on earth
that can compare to ours.
Even the eleven thousand virgins
venture to dance,
and Saint Ursula herself has to laugh.
There is just no music on earth
that can compare to ours.
Cecilia and all her relations
make excellent court musicians.
The angelic voices
gladden our senses,
so that all awaken for joy.
As Mahler says: Kein’ Musik ist ja nicht auf Erden.
And I agree. There is no music which can compare with ours – no other society, no other faith, comes even remotely close. Least of all Islam!
Thanks for reading this far. Here is your bonus. It's the incredible
Roderick Dixon – what a soft, smoke-filled voice, what a wonderfully old-fashioned interpretation.
What a voice! Even Pavarotti
at the Met. in 1972 just doesn’t have the warmth that Dixon has. Pavarotti is technically perfect but cold – Dixon is technically better and warm.
That’s it! Just remember – Kein’ Musik ist ja nicht auf Erden.
And there’s no joy in Islam (Khomeini said so), but enjoy Dixon whilst you can!
Now, this post didn’t turn out quite how you all expected, did it?
Posted on 11/15/2009 6:57 AM by John M. Joyce
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Early Signs Of The Great Awakening
From the Belfast Telegraph:
Why fear leaves us powerless in the face of Islamic terrorism
By Kevin Myers
Friday, 13 November 2009
I imagine a lot of American Muslims this week feel like the Irish once did in London after an IRA bombing there: let this massacre not be by one of ours, dear God. But it was.
Fort Hood was the work of Nidal Malik Hassan, an American Muslim. Not an immigrant, not a September 11 kamikaze intruder, but the home-grown product: the all-American boy who turned on his own people and his own army for politico-religious reasons.
Obviously, most American Muslims want to live in peace with their fellow Americans. But within, it seems, all ‘moderate’ Muslim communities, are some fundamentalists who hold the local |franchise for the global grievance of Islam.
And no one really knows what such Islamic fundamentalists want, because the demands change according to whatever market the local Islamic franchisee is operating in. But at the bottom, jihad — the holy struggle — is the key liberator which enables the Muslim fundamentalist to depart from the rules of the society in which he is living.
Jihad can be formed as a result of the teachings of an imam, but it boils down to a personal contract between Allah and the believer, based on an extreme interpretation of Islam. This effectively declares: “If you feel very strongly that the rules in the Holy Koran about never injuring the innocent, and always respecting women |and children, and respecting the rights of the kaffirs to remain non-believers, are subordinate to jihad, then these rules do not apply to you.
“Moreover, if you feel specifically enjoined to break these rules in pursuit of jihad and martyrdom, the reward shall be paradise and all the blissful wherewithal of the heavenly hereafter.”
This notion of a personal contract with Allah, that authorises a believer to break even the most civilised and civilising laws of the Koran, is a sure-fire recipe for murderous irrationality and social anarchy.
And these have become the defining feature of almost every Muslim society in the world. So where there are no Muslims, the problem of jihadist terrorism does not exist either. It is the most obvious statement imaginable, yet it is worth making. Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Iceland, Japan, Mozambique, Taiwan — they do not have Muslim immigrants, and so do not have the problem of Islamic terrorism.
Here, then, is the San Andreas fault within Islam, on which tectonic disjuncture just about all 20th and 21st century Islamic societies have fallen apart.
No matter how much the majority Muslim population seeks to live in peace and friendship with their neighbours, if enough fundamentalist mavericks feel they have received their heavenly mandate, then the result is the same, and even within outwardly benign communities.
Hence Fort Hood Texas, September 11 New York, July 7 London, Holland, Denmark, Belgium, France, Norway, Bali, Kenya, Tanzania, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Anatolia, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bali, Bombay and Australia. Such universal belligerence has no universal cause, other than in the universality of Islam, which seems so often to respond lethally to local conditions, whatever they are.
To be sure, there is no such thing as a single, typical, Islamic society. The barren and barbaric Hindu Kush is not the same as the perfumed court of the Ottomans. But somewhere inside the greater Islamic mind is an absurd sense of victimhood: and where there is no local grievance, why then there is always ‘Palestine’, as if those few disputed acres in the vast Islamic landmass of Afro-Asia merited the unanimous and indignant global furies of all Muslims, from Delhi to Dearborn.
This same querulous organ of self-pity also resents Muslims becoming the subject of intelligence operations after an Islamic atrocity, as if it were reasonable and wise to subject Mexican laptop-dancers and Lapland reindeer-herders to equal levels of scrutiny and suspicion. India has been the home of Islamic moral-secessionists for longer than anywhere else. And the Indian intelligence services are often almost paralysed in their hunt for Islamic terrorists by the political power of Muslim ‘community leaders’ who unfailingly denounce terrorism — but then equally denounce any action by Indian intelligence against members of the Muslim communities.
Such actions, it is argued, are clear proof of the fundamentally Islamophobic nature of the Indian state and the reason for the fundamentalists' actions in the first place.
This is a sealed moral system, an internal autonomy that is immune to penetration or logic. Fear of such accusations of Islamophobia — phobophobia — almost certainly prevented Major Nidal Malik Hasan's superior officers from disciplining him for his public jihadist outpourings.
Pre-emptive action would certainly have been portrayed by the liberal media as Islamophobic |discrimination against a patriotic Muslim, and would have enraged that reliable stock-character of media portrayal, ‘moderate Muslims’.
Thirteen genuine patriots are now dead as the price of such phobophobic appeasement.
More importantly, the US must now wake up to the consequences of its open-door immigration policy, just as Britain did four years ago after July 7.
The subsequent pattern will presumably be similar.
Watch now, as ‘victimised’ American Muslims close ranks, the burka and the hijab become commonplace amongst their womenfolk and the rest of the US asks in tones of awestruck horror: My God, what have we done?
Posted on 11/15/2009 7:56 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Iraq, Af-Pak, and Shubik Cubed
Read here. about the fiendish auction-game devised nearly 60 years ago by Martin Shubik of Yale.
Now consider the behavior and attitudes of those who continue to justify the American effort -- with all of its by-now obvious squandering of men, money, materiel, and morale -- in Iraq, and in Afghanistan-Pakistan..
And consider the soldiers, especially those who tell the interviewer of how they "lost buddies" and so they don't want to "give up" in Afghanistan (and they said the same,earlier, about Iraq) because that would mean that "all that sacrifice would have been in vain."
It's Madness squared.
It's Shubik, cubed.
Posted on 11/15/2009 8:20 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Portrait of a Jihadist
From the Sunday Times:
An Irish jihadist living in Pakistan’s Swat valley says he is preparing to wage war against British and allied troops in Afghanistan.
Khalid Kelly, a former altar boy from the Liberties area of Dublin who used to be known as Terry, told The Sunday Times he is undergoing weapons training in Pakistan’s mountainous tribal region in order to fight jihad against the enemies of Islam. His dream is to face a British soldier in combat, although he would “settle” for an American, he said.
“I’m already on the path to jihad. I’ve already picked up a gun and done target practice to make myself familiar with weapons. The other day I learnt how to use an M-16 [rifle] in five hours,” he said. “Next week, inshallah, I could be in Afghanistan fighting a British soldier.”
Asked how he would feel about his own three-year-old son becoming a suicide bomber he replied: “I hope he goes to jannah [heaven] before marriageable age.” His son, named Osama after Kelly’s role model, lives in Britain with his Pakistani mother and two younger brothers. His father reckons Osama will be efficient with weapons by the age of ten.
Kelly says he learnt map-reading in the Scottish mountains, terrain similar to Afghanistan, although he admits he is currently out of shape. He justifies his intentions because of the West’s actions against Muslims.
“Why is it such a big deal that I want to do this? Have I not got the right to do the same thing as a guy going into an army recruitment centre?” he said. “As long as we have no security, you will have no security. We’ll kill and bomb you as you have killed and bombed our lands.”
Ireland is also a legitimate target, according to Kelly. “Ireland has a US embassy so it is open to attack,” he stated.
Kelly, 42, is an unconventional jihadist. Having grown up a staunch Catholic and trained as a nurse, he moved to Saudi Arabia in 1996 to work at the King Faisal hospital on a tax-free salary. In 2000 he was introduced to radical Islam by an Afghan when he was serving time in the Al-Ha’ir prison in Riyadh for bootlegging.
“I was living a cushy Western lifestyle, in a three-storey house with a swimming pool. I was your average Western racist,” he said of his time before conversion. “Now I’m living the dream, but the price of paradise does not come cheap. I am getting up at 5am to pray. I travel a lot and I’m experiencing hardship.”
Kelly moved to the UK in 2002 where he joined Al-Muhajaroun, the now disbanded hardline Islamic organisation, and an associate of radical clerics Omar Bakri Mohammed and Anjem Choudary. He achieved notoriety in 2007 when he declared the London bombings of 7 July a “happy day”.
“If I had had the opportunity, I would have been on those tube trains. But my time in London was to give the call,” he said. Kelly also “gave the call” in Ireland, where he returned frequently in a bid to lure young Muslims with his jihadist teachings. He warned that Ireland was putting itself in the line of fire by allowing US warplanes to land at Shannon airport.
Kelly now sees his time in the West as mental preparation for jihad, claiming he spent a lot of time on the internet learning how to make bombs. He left the UK in 2008 after some friends were arrested for extremist behaviour during a protest about the Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed.
After a period underground, Kelly has now re-emerged in Pakistan’s Swat valley, where the army recently drove out the Taliban in a three-month military operation. He travels frequently to Rawalpindi, a garrison city next to the nation’s capital Islamabad, to meet contacts and spread his radical jihadist message.
In a meeting in one of the city’s parks last month he told The Sunday Times that he had a “divine calling” to kill. “I would feel good because you are killing for God. I have practised enough mentally to know that when my time comes I’ll be ready. I pray every night for bravery,” he said.
Kelly said he moved to Pakistan to join the “best of the best” in the jihadist struggle and to work towards replacing the civilian government with an Islamic one. As Islamabad vows to take on Islamic militants, Kelly harbours a dark hope that Pakistan will become like Iraq with “beheadings and kidnappings”.
His face brightens at the mention of suicide bombings and shootings that have devastated hundreds of Pakistani families since the army launched its recent offensive against Taliban and Al Qaeda militants in the tribal belt of Waziristan.
He is also unapologetic about his desire to fund, encourage and take part in terrorism. “I always believe Islam is terrorism. We are told to terrorise the enemies of Islam,” he said. “The world will become a dangerous place. Everybody had better start embracing Islam or people will start flying planes into buildings again.”
Posted on 11/15/2009 8:33 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 15 November 2009
A Musical Interlude: My Old Man Said Follow The Van (Lily Morris)
Ive put this up before, and I'll be putting it up again.
Watch, and listen here.
And while we are at it, watch and listen here.
That's enough for now.
Posted on 11/15/2009 8:49 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 November 2009
The Curious Tale Of Khaled Nawaya
VANCOUVER — From Friday's Globe and Mail Friday, Nov. 13, 2009
A Saudi-born flight instructor who was stopped at the Canadian border with nearly $1-million in his van has been released from custody as terrorism suspicions against him appeared to wane.
But Khaled Nawaya, 34, who was arrested last month while attempting to enter Canada with about $800,000 in undeclared Canadian gold coins, still faces legal and immigration woes.
Mr. Nawaya never made it past the border on Oct. 6. After authorities spotted the gold cache, they found a ring bearing the insignia of Hezbollah, videotapes of the 9/11 attacks and a scarf depicting a former U.S. leader and former Israeli prime minister as monkeys. With suspicions raised, a flurry of calls to embassies around the globe ensued and Mr. Nawaya spent his first night in Canada in a jail cell.
Mounties suspected the money was "terrorist resources" and recommended that Mr. Nawaya be charged under the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act.
But these worst-case suspicions appear to be evaporating, and yesterday, the Immigration and Refugee Board released Mr. Nawaya on the condition that he provide border officials with proof that his money comes from legitimate sources.
Outside the hearing, Mr. Nawaya's lawyer, Phil Rankin, said his client made an honest - although "bone-headed" - mistake by attempting to drive a van filled with undeclared gold across the border.
Mr. Nawaya's assets didn't come from terrorism, Mr. Rankin said. Much of it is from a $400,000 settlement from a university that bungled his U.S. student visa status. The rest was savings from eight years of working as a flight instructor in Oakland, Calif.
Asked why he didn't transfer his assets through a bank wire, Mr. Rankin said Mr. Nawaya lost faith in the U.S. banking system and believed Canadian gold coins were a safer bet.
Yesterday, Mr. Nawaya appeared subdued and shaken as he tasted his first moments of freedom in Canada. He told reporters he is happy to be free and still wants to stay.
Posted on 11/15/2009 9:09 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 November 2009
If Every Muslim Fleeing The Monstrousness Of His Own Society Is Given Refuge...
2 Mich. brothers who fled Yemen can stay in US
DETROIT — Two Yemeni brothers, one who married the daughter of a contemptuous general and the other who was jailed by the man's guards, have won permission to stay in the United States in a case stemming from the forbidden love.
A three-judge panel said this week that the Detroit-area brothers could be killed if they are forced to return home after fleeing in 1999. The decision reversed a ruling by an immigration board.
"They can live and work here. It's beautiful," their lawyer, Richard Kulics, said.
The Associated Press is not identifying the brothers because they fear their family could be persecuted in Yemen.
It was a cultural feud that brought the brothers and the bride to the U.S. A high-ranking general in Yemen did not approve the courtship of his daughter by one of the men because they were associated with the lower meat-cutting class.
The couple secretly married in 1998, which enraged the general. He shot and wounded his son, who encouraged the relationship, and ordered his guards to search for the newlyweds, according to a summary of evidence relied on by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The couple hired a car to take them to refuge in Aden, seven hours from the capital, Sana'a. The general's guards, meanwhile, found the groom's brother and locked him up for three months.
They deprived him of sleep, plucked his chest hairs, forced him to defecate on himself and threw a dead cat covered with bees into his cell, according to the 6th Circuit ruling.
"We can kill your family," the guards told him.
Crying and ready to collapse, the brother fooled the guards by telling them the couple had fled to Saudi Arabia. A local officer took pity on him and, with the help of a district attorney, he finally was released. The general "went crazy" and made threats when he got the news, the court ruling said.
The three all obtained visas and traveled separately to the United States. In 2003, U.S. immigration authorities began deportation proceedings against the brothers, citing their expired visas. They have taken no action against the general's daughter.
The brothers responded by seeking asylum, but an immigration judge found they had missed the one-year deadline and said conditions had improved in Yemen. The men were rebuffed again at the Board of Immigration Appeals before getting a victory at the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati.
"The record contains ample evidence that the general will kill" the brothers and his own daughter if they are returned to Yemen, the court said. "Nothing in the record suggests that conditions in Yemen have changed such that the government there will be able to control the powerful general."
Look, Muslim countries are awful places. Women are treated like cattle or chattle. The rule of law hardly exists. The bigshots do what they want. People do not talk, they scream, scream hysterically. Violence and aggression and treachery are everywhere. So what?
Are we, in the advanced Western world, threatened in a thousand ways byu the adherents of islam, that is mainly responsible for the political despotism, economic backwardness, daily social cruelties, intellectual paralysis, and morally intolerable atmosphere, of Muslim societies, to allow into our country any and all Muslims who suffer from the effects of islam?
The correct answer is No.
Posted on 11/15/2009 9:29 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Saudi Arabia And Iran, Or, Something To Cheer Us Up
Saudi-Iranian Tension Increases Following Clashes Between Houthi Rebels, Saudi Military
The current clashes between the Saudi security forces and the Houthi rebels who have infiltrated Saudi Arabia from Yemen have intensified the steadily escalating conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which is part of the cold war in the Middle East between the pro-Saudi camp and the pro-Iranian camp.
Saudi Arabia and Yemen accuse Iran of encouraging, training, funding, and arming the Houthi rebels. Iran's goals, they claim, are to increase its regional influence and to undermine their stability and security, and perhaps also to gain a safe sea route to Sudan and northward. Articles in Saudi and Yemeni dailies called the Houthis "Iranian agents," and argued that they, like Hizbullah, are selling their blood and their land in order to further Iran's interests. The dailies claimed that Iran is stirring up conflicts in Sunni countries as part of its efforts to export its revolution, and called on these countries to retaliate by encouraging Sunni insurgency in Iran.
Since the outbreak of the clashes, Saudi Arabia has enjoyed broad support from Arab countries, including even countries belonging to the pro-Iranian camp, which could indicate the beginning of a change in their orientation. For example, Syria condemned the "infringement on the territorial integrity of Saudi Arabia" and supported "its legitimate right to defend its sovereignty and its territory."  Solidarity with Saudi Arabia was also expressed at a conference of the Gulf Cooperation Council, held in Qatar. 
The Saudi-Iranian tension also intensified lately on the religious level, in the wake of some recent statements by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad relating to the upcoming Hajj celebrations in Saudi Arabia. These were perceived by the Saudis as inciting against Saudi Arabia and threatening it, and as having the potential to spark political riots similar to the July 1987 clashes between Iranian pilgrims and the Saudi security forces. Voices in Saudi Arabia protested that Iran was trying to exploit the religious festival for political purposes and even to sabotage it in order to tarnish Saudi Arabia's reputation and undermine its standing as the Custodian of the Two Holy Places.
Iran, for its part, denied any involvement in the Houthi insurgency, saying that it is only working to promote stability in the region. At the same time, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki warned Yemen's neighbors not to interfere in the events there, explaining that anyone who poured oil on the fire would eventually be harmed by it as well. He added that he was about to visit Riyadh in order to find ways to cooperate and coordinate with the Saudi officials, so as to create a better atmosphere in preparation for the Hajj. 
Following are excerpts from recent Saudi reactions to the tension between the two countries, and from Iranian responses to the accusations against it:
Editorials in Saudi Dailies: Iran Is Trying to Drag Saudi Arabia into Confrontation
In referring to the clashes between the Houthi rebels and the Saudi military, Saudi officials have so far refrained from blaming anyone but the Houthis themselves for the situation, but have stressed that firm measures would be taken against anyone trying to harm the Saudi state.  However, with the outbreak of the clashes, Saudi government newspapers accused Iran openly and explicitly of using the Houthi rebels to undermine the stability and security of Saudi Arabia. 
For example, an editorial in the daily Al-Watan called the Houthis "Iranian agents," and stated: "The Houthi rebel gangs in Sa'da, Yemen must understand that playing with fire on the Saudi border comes at a very high cost - a cost too steep for the little [Houthi] agents [who are serving the aims of] Iran's sectarian expansion plan... just so that Iran can negotiate with the West, obtain a better deal on the issue of its nuclear fuel, and score political points by using the ignorant Houthis as pawns.
"Our courageous forces will purge our land [of the Houthi infiltrators], and the Houthis know that. Their attacks in the border region are only a stunt for the television and media aimed at turning their uprising into a regional problem that could drive Iran and Saudi Arabia into a confrontation - something that Saudi Arabia would rather avoid, as it prefers to maintain neighborly relations [with Iran]. [Saudi Arabia] does not think that the Houthi problem is a regional one but [only] an internal Yemeni one.
"Saudi Arabia has been patient. It has stayed away from this conflict, which Iranian fingers ignited, and it kept disregarding the Houthi attempts to widen [the scope of] the conflict... [Various indications, such as] the Houthis' sympathy for Iran's ideology, Iran's protection of them, and the Iranian weapons that have been discovered on land and in the sea [and which were meant for the Houthis], all attest to a fact that is already known, [namely] that the Houthis are agents of the extremist faction in Iran... Today more than ever, the Houthis are called upon to correct the error [of their ways], to renounce their connection with foreign forces, and to stop serving as a tool for igniting internal or regional wars..." 
The Houthis - A New Hizbullah in Yemen
Many writers contended that Iran is trying to establish a new Hizbullah on the Saudi-Yemeni border similar to the Lebanese Hizbullah.  In a column titled "The Houthis Are the Yemeni Hizbullah," Saudi columnist Muhammad bin 'Abd Al-Latif Aal Al-Sheikh wrote in the daily Al-Jazirah: "'Abd Al-Malik Al-Houthi, [the Houthi leader] in Yemen, is [the equivalent of] Lebanon's Hassan Nasrallah. The goings-on in northern Yemen and in southern [Saudi Arabia] serve Iran's interests and aspirations in the region. Just as Nasrallah has sold out Lebanon's stability, security and future for Iran's sake, under the pretext of fighting the enemies of the ummah, the Houthis too have sold their country and the blood of their tribe, [betraying] them for the sake of Iran's supreme interest while spouting similar slogans.
"The situation in northern Yemen and in the south of our country, and the situation in Lebanon, are identical [reflections] of Iran's aspirations [and its method of] exploiting the sectarian dimension to further the next Persian agenda... The Iranians infiltrated Lebanon while nobody was looking and set up the Hizbullah militia, meant to eventually become a powerful Iranian tool, first in Lebanon and later in the [entire] region. Hizbullah has fulfilled this Iranian task well, and through it Iran has become an influential factor in the region's power-balances, so that any regional agreement that Iran opposes encounters obstacles and requires negotiations [with Iran]. This means that [no agreement] can be achieved without considering Iran's interests.
"The Houthis serve the very same purpose, though, as an Iranian tool, they are still in the initial stages of formation. If they are met with concessions and their movement is not taken with the seriousness it deserves, an Iranian arm like Hizbullah could emerge in Yemen and on our southern border..." 
Saudi Columnists: What If We Supported the Sunnis in Iran?
Another indication of the growing tension between Saudi Arabia and Iran was the absence of any Saudi condemnation of the October 18, 2009 bombings perpetrated by Jundallah in Iran's Sistan-Baluchistan province. Articles published in the Saudi government press after the bombings did not condemn the attacks but only expressed solidarity with Iran's persecuted Sunnis. Some of them even threatened that Saudi Arabia might start supporting the Sunnis in Iran, just as Iran supports the Shi'ites in Saudi Arabia.
In an article in the Saudi edition of the daily Al-Hayat, Saudi columnist 'Abdallah Nasser Al-'Utaibi called on the Arab states to support the Sunni minority in Iran: "[The Sunnis] in the recent years never had any idea of manufacturing a 50-year Sunni revolution, equivalent to the Iranians' idea of exporting their revolution. This may be because the Sunni Arab states feel no sectarian hostility towards anyone, and because the Sunni [religious] school is not founded upon revolutionary concepts, like some other Muslim schools. Despite this, it would be well if some of the prominent Arab countries strove to support the Sunni movements in Iran, such as the Ahwazi movement in the west [of Iran] and the Baluchi movement in the east. This, so that our rebellious neighbor remain preoccupied with its own affairs instead of trying to export its revolution to [other] nations that have enough problems of their own. The latest step taken by the Jundallah movement in eastern Iran implies that the Arabs have been remiss in fulfilling their duty [of supporting the Sunnis in Iran]. The [Baluchistan] bombing should prompt the Arabs to reassess their way of handling the Iranian expansion..." 
Saudi columnist Khalaf Al-Harbi wrote in a similar vein in an article titled "What If the Countries Harmed by Iran's Intervention... Did The Same in Iran?" published in the daily 'Okaz: "Think what Iran would have said if the Arab countries with a Sunni majority had supported the Baluchi organization Jundallah in retaliation for [Iran's] support of Hizbullah, which is [acting] openly in Lebanon and clandestinely in most [other] Arab countries. What if the countries that have been harmed by Iran's intervention - [the countries] in which it has provided rebels with weapons, funds and military advisors - did the same in Iran? Couldn't this be regarded as a kind of self-defense [on the part of these countries]?
"Does Iran think it [can] continue pelting its neighbors with the stones of sectarian [strife], while they look on and refrain from pelting its glass house with similar [stones]? Iran knows better than anyone else that Jundallah is not an insignificant organization, as evidenced by the fact that it has negotiated with it more than once. Moreover, the [Iranian] political regime is now experiencing a historic rift. Hence, [Iran] stands to be the greatest loser if its foreign policy, which is based on the fanning of sectarian strife in the Arab world, were to continue." 
Concerns about Iranian Riots During the Hajj; Saudi Arabia: Iran Is Trying to Politicize the Pilgrimage Season
The tension between the two countries also intensified following warnings that were conveyed to Saudi Arabia on the eve of the Hajj festival by Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. On October 26, 2009, Khamenei criticized the Saudis' "insulting behavior" towards the Shi'ite pilgrims, which "sabotaged [Muslim] unity and served the goals and desires of America and of the foreign espionage apparatuses." He added that "the Saudi government must do its duty by fighting such [phenomena]."  Khamenei warned that "the pilgrims coming to Mecca cannot remain indifferent to what is happening in the Muslim world, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and parts of Pakistan..." He called on the Iranian pilgrims to perform the ritual of baraa in Saudi Arabia,  saying that "the participation in this ritual is a great [act] of da'wa... through which [a pilgrim] performs the pilgrimage in the fullest way and in all its dimensions."  Ahmadinejad likewise called to perform the baraa ceremony, saying that "it is necessary to maximize the potential of this ritual and use it as a special opportunity." 
Khamenei's and Ahmadinejad's statements were perceived by the Saudis as an attempt to politicize the Hajj and to destabilize Saudi Arabia in order to divert the world's attention from what is happening inside Iran. A harsh editorial in the Saudi daily Al-Watan stated: "Does your eminence [Khamenei] want to relive the experience of Iranian demonstrations like those that curdled the atmosphere of the Hajj during the 80s?... Clearly, the Saudi state - to whom Allah has entrusted the task of ensuring the Muslims' safety during [their pilgrimage] - will not let anyone, no matter how mighty he regards himself to be, keep other Muslims [from performing the ritual in peace], regardless of what they may say in Tehran. [We beseech] Allah to help our Iranian brothers resolve their [internal] conflicts, but in Mecca and Medina, the last word regarding the Hajj and the safety [of the pilgrims] belongs to the [Saudi] officials- from the lowliest clerk to the most high-ranking official in our dear and honest country." 
Saudi Columnist: Is Iran Planning Bombings in Saudi Arabia?
In an editorial the daily 'Okaz, columnist 'Abdallah bin Bajjad Al-'Utaibi warned against Iranian attempts to stage terror attacks in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj. He wrote: "First, we must understand [Iran's] destructive and aggressive policy. Second, we must react to its aggression with all firmness and strength. Third, we must employ against it the same tactics and methods [it uses against us]..."
Al-'Utaibi then warned against Iranian attempts to generate strife and stage bombings in Saudi Arabia during the Hajj: "Are the statements of Iran's leaders aimed at stirring up unrest during the pilgrimage season in Saudi Arabia? Is [Iran] planning to organize mass political protests or bombings during the Hajj, as it has done in the past...? Worse, is it planning to employ elements it considers loyal [to its causes], in the peripheral regions of Saudi Arabia, concurrently with this new attack? Is it planning bombings or terror attacks by Al-Qaeda Yemen... who, as we know, has close ties with Iran? It is quite likely that Iran is planning [to realize] one of these [scenarios]. Anyone who reads about the history of the Islamic Republic or follows its moves knows that such has been its character since the revolution and to this very day." 
Iran Warns Saudi Arabia
Iranian officials rejected the Saudi accusations, and made threatening statements. Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said, "The fact that the Saudis have dared to invade a Muslim country [i.e. Yemen], and to massacre the Muslim Yemeni people, should cause all Muslims to feel [outrage]."  Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said about the fighting in Yemen: "We firmly warn the countries in the region and [our] neighbors against interfering in Yemen's internal affairs. Stability in Yemen will contribute to the stability of the region, [whereas] any instability in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan will have a [negative] impact on the entire region. We firmly warn that [supplying] financial and military aid to extremist terrorist groups, or oppressing the people by means of military attacks, will have very [undesirable] outcomes."  Mottaki added: "If people pour oil on the fire of fitna, they must realize that they too will inevitably be harmed by the resulting flames and smoke."  At the same time, Mottaki said that "[Iran's] position on Yemen's territorial integrity and on its national unity, and [Iran's] opposition to extremist terror attacks, are very clear." He advised the Yemenis that rehabilitating the relations between the Yemeni government and the public, including the Shi'ites, would benefit both sides, adding that Iran had already announced its willingness to mediate between them, and denying that his visit to Yemen for this purpose had been canceled.  Mottaki stated that contacts were underway with Saudi Arabia to arrange his visit in Riyadh, aimed at finding ways for mutual cooperation and coordination so as to create a better atmosphere in preparation for the Hajj. 
At a November 10, 2009 press conference in Istanbul, Ahmadinejad said, "All the disagreements can be resolved through dialogue and mutual understandings... We call on all the sides involved in the clashes in Yemen to exercise restraint. Iran's policy is only to strengthen the unity, brotherhood, and cooperation among all nations. The situation in Yemen is detrimental to the interests of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen [itself], and the entire region. An end to the killing is mandated by Allah's [commandments], by Islam and by the Iranian culture." 
An article in the daily Iran, which is associated with the Ahmadinejad government, claimed that Saudi Arabia has an interest to ignite war in Yemen, and that this country is conspiring with the U.S.'s plots in the region. "Saudi Arabia's meddling in the Yemeni war is obvious to everyone... This war, which has been forced on the Shi'ites in Yemen, is a coordinated conspiracy by America and several Arab governments in the region, particularly Wahhabi ones... as evidenced by the fact that Saudi Arabia has occupied three Yemeni provinces and some 10 Yemeni islands... and is unwilling to withdraw from them, because they are very rich in oil... Creating a big crisis in Yemen... seems to be a Saudi goal." 
* R. Green and Y. Admon are research fellows at MEMRI.
 SANA (Syria), November 11, 2009.
 Al-Hayat (London), November 11, 2009.
 Al-Hayat (London), November 11, 2009.
 For example, Saudi King 'Abdallah bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz said that "Saudi Arabia is strong and can repel and defeat any enemy," while Deputy Defense and Aviation Minister Prince Khaled bin Sultan said that Saudi Arabia would destroy anyone who wished to harm it in any way. He added that the air and artillery strikes against the Houthi militants would continue until they stopped infiltrating Saudi Arabia, and that the king had instructed the Saudi forces "not to invade even an inch of [another country's] territory, [but also] not to let anyone invade even an inch of Saudi soil." Al-Hayat (London), November 9, 2009.
 Similar accusations against Iran were made in several other articles and editorials, including a November 8, 2009 editorial in the daily Al-Riyadh, titled "The Houthis - Foolish Tools of War"; a November 6, 2009 editorial in the Al-Jazirah daily, titled "The Houthis Are Digging Their Own Grave," which referred to Iran implicitly by stating that "the enemies of Arabness and Islam" were behind the Houthis; a November 8, 2009 article in the London-based Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, by chief editor Tariq Alhomayed, who wrote that Iran was using the Houthis in an attempt to form a front against Saudi Arabia; and another November 8 article in Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, by Al-Arabiya director-general 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, which characterized the Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia as an Iranian act.
 Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), November 5, 2009.
 Yemen president 'Ali 'Abdallah Saleh accused Iran of supporting the Houthi rebels in his country, and said that these rebels had received training similar to that of the Hizbullah operatives in South Lebanon, implying that Hizbullah commanders are present in the Houthi stronghold of Sa'da and are training the fighters there. Al-Zaman (London), October 20, 2009.
 Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), November 8, 2009. The editor of the daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Tariq Alhomayed, spoke in a similar vein. He told the Al-Arabiya website that Iran may be trying to form another Hizbullah on the Yemeni-Saudi border, in order to undermine the stability and security of Saudi Arabia, and that if the Houthis succeed in infiltrating Saudi Arabia and forming sleeper cells there, it could pose a grave danger to this country. www.alarabiya.net, November 8, 2009.
 Al-Hayat (London), October 27, 2009.
 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), October 21, 2009.
 Leader.ir, October 11, 2009.
 A type of ceremony, advocated by the founder of the Islamic Revolution regime, Ayatollah Khomeini, in which the pilgrims express their renunciation of the infidels and the enemies of Islam by shouting political slogans such as "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."
 Khamenei.ir, October 26, 2009.
 President.ir, October 26, 2009.
 Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), October 28, 2009.
 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), November 9, 2009.
 ISNA (Iran), November 11, 2009.
 Etemad (Iran), November 11, 2009.
 Fars (Iran), November 10, 2009.
 Etemad (Iran), November 11, 2009.
 Fars (Iran), November 10, 2009; Al-Hayat (London), November 11, 2009.
 IRNA (Iran), November 10, 2009.
 Iran (Iran), November 10, 2009.
Posted on 11/15/2009 9:35 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 November 2009
One More Foolish And Dangerous Decision By Eric Holder
A comment, by IraqPundit (a secular Muslim Arab who returned to Baghdad from the West), on the decision to try Khaled Sheikh Mohammed in New York City, and in a civilian, not a military, court:
How KSM Looks from Baghdad
Will KSM beat the Americans at their own game? This is what Iraqis are asking about the case of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. It's hard to say how many are paying close attention, but some Iraqis are watching the developments
. The most common answer I'm hearing is that yes, KSM will win.
The first victory for the terrorist is that United States is set to grant KSM a trial in New York city, the site of al-Qaeda's most successful attack. According to various reports, this is what he demanded from the moment he was captured in Pakistan. The NYT
says, " He wanted a lawyer, and he wanted to be taken to New York." Sure it took about eight years, but he still has gotten what he requested.
There is no doubt that KSM will use the trial to make himself look like a hero to the Muslim world and the developing world in general, by appearing as the little guy who outwitted the super Americans. Indeed, by granting him a civilian trial with full constitutional rights, the U.S. administration appears to have outwitted itself. The U.S. will be in a tough position: a closed trial would make everyone suspicious, and an open trial will be a circus. Either way, KSM will be in a position to capitalize.
From his own point of view, there is almost no way KSM can lose. Attorney General Eric Holder has already called the water boarding KSM endured "torture." It will be very easy for his supporters to portray KSM as a hero to the Muslim world for tolerating 86 torture sessions. Holder also has said that he will seek the death penalty. And KSM already has said he want to die. He will go down a "martyr," which is what he wants. KSM will be granted all the rights of the U.S. he despises, and he will use each one to advance his own agenda.
What's curious is that the so-called "terrorism experts believe that Mr. Mohammed will always be considered too secular — and too practical — to be completely accepted by the terrorist network’s senior leaders. " Secular? Huh? Where does that come from? Have these experts seen the dude's beard? And okay, so Ayman Al Zawahiri doesn't mention KSM in his messages, but he will maximize the instant KSM becomes the celebrity of the hour.
What's the U.S. to do? I really don't know. But does the law say that these rights are due to citizens? Is KSM a U.S. citizen? What the murderer deserves is to be forgotten. Most people have a short attention span. If the press doesn't splash his stories on their pages, and his visage is not shown on television, he could fade away. But the upcoming trial short-circuits that option.
The terror experts say that KSM is disliked by the higher ups in al-Qaeda. “That’s what set him apart, and that’s what made him so scary.” No, that's not what makes him scary. What makes him scary is that he knows how to use the U.S. system against the American administration in order to win the game on his own terms.
Posted on 11/15/2009 9:48 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 November 2009
An Innocent Abroad
From The Wall Street Journal:
SINGAPORE (Dow Jones)--President Barack Obama headed to Shanghai on Sunday to press China on issues from climate change to economic restructuring, amid rising concerns that his first swing through Asia will yield more disappointment than progress on trade, human rights, national security and environmental concerns.
A flurry of actions here this weekend raised more questions than they resolved on a broad sweep of issues confronting both sides of the Pacific. On Sunday, leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum dropped efforts to reach a binding international climate change agreement in Copenhagen next month, settling instead for what they called a political framework for future negotiations.
Obama became the first president to meet with the entire Association of Southeast Asian Nations, including the military junta of Myanmar, and White House officials say he personally demanded the country's leaders release political prisoners, including opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. But Obama failed to secure any mention of political prisoners in an ASEAN communique.
The U.S. and Russia now appear unlikely to complete a nuclear arms reduction accord by Dec. 5, when the current Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty expires. Obama met for closed-door consultations with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, but National Security Council Russia specialist Michael McFaul said major issues remain, and the two countries are working out a "bridging agreement" to extend previous arms-ratification rules.
On trade, the U.S. president committed this weekend to re-engage the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a fledgling free trade alliance in the region. But a presidential shift in tone toward more trade engagement will face its real test Thursday when Obama visits South Korea to discuss a free trade agreement with that country that remains stuck.
And on Iran, Obama and Medvedev were left to warn leaders of the Islamic republic once again that "time is running out." Iran has yet to agree to a Russian offer to provide nuclear material for research in exchange for the closure of a nuclear reactor that Western powers say could be used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.
Halfway through his Asian tour, Obama is confronting the limits of engagement and personal charm.
International efforts to combat climate change took a significant blow when the leaders of the APEC forum conceded a binding international treaty won't be reached when the U.N. convenes in Copenhagen in three weeks. Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen flew to Singapore on Saturday night to deliver a new, downsized proposal to lock world leaders into further talks.
"Even if we may not hammer out the last dots of a legally binding instrument, I do believe a political binding agreement with specific commitment to mitigation and finance provides a strong basis for immediate action in the years to come," Rasmussen told APEC leaders at a hastily convened meeting organized by Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Sunday morning.
The election of Obama, a believer in strict limits on greenhouse gas emissions, had raised hopes among environmentalists that Copenhagen would produce a tough, binding treaty to follow the Kyoto accords of 1997. The landslide victory of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan brought to power a new government pledging deeper emissions cuts than its predecessor. And Chinese President Hu Jintao proposed in September to adopt what he called "carbon intensity targets," the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere per unit of economic output. Emissions from surging economies like China's would continue to rise but at a slower rate.
But political opposition in the U.S. Congress over Obama's climate change proposals and continuing resistance among developing countries to binding emission reduction targets slowed consensus ahead of the Copenhagen summit.
Rasmussen laid out in some detail his goals for the Copenhagen summit. He said leaders should produce a five- to eight-page text with "precise language" committing developed countries to reductions of emissions thought to be warming the planet, with provisions on adapting to warmer temperatures, financing adaptation and combating climate change in poor countries, and technological development and diffusion. It would include pledges of immediate financing for early action.
"We are not aiming to let anyone off the hook," Rasmussen told the leaders. "We are trying to create a framework that will allow everybody to commit."
But the leaders didn't say when a final summit would be convened to ratify a real treaty.
"There are two choices that we face, given where things are. One was to have a political declaration to say, 'We tried. We didn't achieve an agreement and we'll keep on trying' and the other was to see if we could reach accord as the Danish prime minister laid out," said Michael Froman, White House deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs.
Obama, in a speech Sunday, took his appeal for a new world economic order to the leaders of Asia that must help make it happen. He said the U.S. would strive to consume less, save more and restructure its economy around trade and exports. But he appealed to Asian nations to make their own economies more dependent on domestic consumption than U.S. profligacy.
White House officials say a similar message will be delivered in Shanghai and Beijing, but it is unclear how hard the U.S. president can press Beijing to allow the Chinese yuan to appreciate. At the APEC summit, leaders "until the last moment" tried to secure a commitment to stabilize foreign exchange markers, according to a top adviser to an APEC head of state. But disagreements between the U.S. and Chinese delegations kept any commitment on currency out of the APEC final statement.
A more valuable yuan would empower Chinese consumers to buy, while making Chinese exports less attractive to U.S. consumers. But Washington cannot afford to anger China, which it needs to float a U.S. budget deficit that reached $176.4 billion in October alone, a monthly record.
Indeed, the Asia trip is exposing the limits of Obama's policy of engagement. The U.S. president met with ASEAN, declaring that efforts to marginalize the government of Myanmar had failed. Human rights groups had hoped a communique out of the meeting would call for the release of Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest. Instead, it made a cryptic reference to a previous ASEAN foreign ministers communique that called for her release. Sunday's statement did say that 2010 elections in Myanmar must be "free, fair, inclusive and transparent."
The failure to single out Suu Kyi was "another blow" to dissidents who want more pressure on the Myanmar junta, said Soe Aung, a spokesman for the Forum for Democracy in Burma, a Thailand-based organization. "We keep saying again and again that the U.S. should not send a mixed signal to the regime."
A White House official said the president never expected the leaders of Myanmar to accept any mention of the Nobel Laureate opposition leader but did press for a mention of political prisoners.
U.S. officials had taken pains to reduce expectations for the meeting, which was part of a new initiative by the Obama administration to improve its ties with Southeast Asia and increase interaction with the Myanmar government. The U.S. imposes stiff sanctions on the country, also known as Burma. But many analysts view those sanctions as a failure as Myanmar has expanded trade with China and other Asian nations, and U.S. officials now believe they might have more influence over the country's leaders if they talk with them more regularly.
Myanmar's military has controlled the country since 1962, and is accused of widespread human rights violations while overseeing an economy that remains one of the least developed in Asia. The country's profile has risen over the last year, however, amid reports of growing ties with North Korea. The regime plans to hold elections next year, the first since 1990, in a bid to boost its international reputation. But the U.S. and others contend the results cannot be fair unless Suu Kyi and her supporters, who won the last vote, are allowed to participate.
(Costas Paris contributed to this article.)
Posted on 11/15/2009 10:14 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Scottish Defence League in Glasgow - opposition divided against itself.
I have been trying to find out what happened in Glasgow yesterday afternoon with the Scottish Defence League rally and the counter demonstrations.
I do not have the understanding of Scotland that I do of my own country.
Until the SDL put up their own account all I have are the Scottish press reports, not all of which make even an attempt at impartial reporting, plus the left wing blogs of Socialist Worker and Worker’s Liberty. And comments left on the press report websites.
My efforts have been hampered by the reports being rewritten since last night.
The first news agency to report was that of the Press Association who reported some 5 arrests and the positions of the several groups. Overnight this report diminished into three sentences which do have the virtue of being unemotional and factual.
Skirmishes broke out as two rival demonstrations were held in Glasgow.
Members of the Scottish Defence League (SDL), which claims to oppose Islamic militancy, held a protest in the Cambridge Street area of Glasgow.
Elsewhere in the city, more than a thousand supporters of Scotland United - a group backed by politicians, trade unionists and faith groups - held a counter-demonstration to celebrate multi-culturalism and oppose the SDL demo.
The most informative report seems to be this one in the Sunday Herald.
Standing precariously on a bin as thousands of people swarmed into George Square banging drums and chanting, anti-racist campaigner Aamer Anwar yesterday proclaimed a victory for the people of Glasgow over “racism, fascism and the Scottish Defence League (SDL)”. I definitely read somewhere yesterday (it may have been in the Daily Record as their page in my ‘history’ for Saturday takes me to a new article on the days events dated today Sunday 15th) that he declared ‘We control Glasgow”.
His celebration followed a day in which the far-right group’s threat to march on Glasgow Central Mosque came to nothing, as police penned its members into a pub before bussing them to various spots on the periphery of the city, extinguishing the chances of a conflict before it had the chance to ignite. There were a few minor skirmishes in and around the city centre between the tiny SDL contingent and rival demonstrators, who were out in their thousands. Five people were arrested.
Although both sides claimed to have achieved their aims, the sheer numbers that mustered under the banner of Scotland United, a broad-spectrum alliance of political parties, trade unions and civil society groups, demonstrated that most of Glasgow has little truck with the “anti-Islamic” policies of the SDL and its English counterpart.
The SDL, announced plans to march in Glasgow several months ago after the English Defence League (EDL) attracted hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of supporters to rallies in cities including Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.
The groups formed to protest exclusively against what they view as Islamic extremism, and claim to be a new political movement which has dispensed with the racist policies of far-right parties like the British National Party (BNP).
But critics, such as Mr Anwar, claim they are nothing but “a violent wing of the British National Party”.
Yesterday, the first protest in a day of political action in Glasgow took place at St Enoch Square at 10am.
Organised independently of Scotland United, the demonstration was made up of socialists, left-wing students and anti-fascists, who gathered outside the underground station before marching up Buchanan Street, chanting “Nazi scum off our streets” and “we’re black, white, Asian and we’re Jews”.
Daniel O’Donnell, a 61-year-old member of the Scottish National Party and veteran of anti-fascist protests, said: “Far-right and fascist movements have got more publicity now than I remember them ever having before, particularly after the BNP were allowed to speak on Question Time.
“The Scottish Defence League claims to be different from the BNP, but on paper, say critics, they look the same.
“This is not about showing the SDL who’s boss,” said O’Donnell, “but showing them that they are not welcome in Glasgow. We have enough problems in this city without them stirring up hatred. They have no place here.”
So already we see two separate protests against the SDL. If you look at the various socialist, workers, activists, and Scottish websites you will see each group criticising the other. Cries of UAF= SWP, and an unflattering description of Weyman Bennett as a ‘self appointed leader’
An hour after the protest started in St Enoch Square, the SDL gave out information about its meeting point on a phone number it had advertised on internet bulletin boards. Its members had organised the demonstration in secrecy on Facebook, other social networking sites and online discussion forums, withholding their exact plans from police and the city council.
The Sunday Herald was at the meeting point, a small pub in the city centre called The Cambridge where around 150 activists gathered, although police claimed there were only 70. Some covered their faces with scarves as they chanted and waved banners in the street.
Several key members of the SDL and EDL had been stopped on their way to the pub and some claimed to have been visited by officers from Strathclyde Police and banned from the city centre for the day.
The Sunday Post says Police have also confirmed they visited a number of SDL organisers in advance to warn them of their responsibilities while taking part in protests.
Thomas “Tuck” Milligan, who helps run SDL’s Facebook page, posted a message to members on Friday saying he had decided to stay away from the march after Strathclyde Police officers had visited his home to warn him that “if any trouble was to kick off I would be arrested”.
Inside,the leader of the SDL, who would only give his name as Don, attacked the anti-fascist protesters, claiming they were “spouting tired old rubbish” by labelling the SDL Nazis or racists.
Don said: “As soon as you say anything you’re labelled a racist, a Nazi, a fascist or a knuckle-dragging skinhead. We’re none of those things. We just want to highlight the Islamification of the country and show people that some, not all, young Muslims are having hate and militancy preached to them.
“People say that this sort of thing doesn’t happen in Scotland, but it is. I bet they didn’t think someone would try to blow up Glasgow Airport. We don’t want young Muslim schoolboys to be radicalised, go away to train and then come back to blow up the city.”
One member from the Airdrie branch said: “We’re just here to protest against extremist Islam and Republican terrorists, who have tried to take over our country for 40 years and failed. We’re not racist, we’re not Nazis and we’re not the BNP. I’ve got black friends and Muslim friends – race doesn’t bother me.”
He added: “Our great-grandfathers fought and fell against the Nazis in two world wars. It’s a slur on our grand-fathers to call us Nazis.”
There was a brief stand-off as the anti-racist protesters from St Enoch Square marched near the pub, after using the SDL’s phone line to find out its location. They rallied for a few minutes before heading down to Glasgow Green to the mainstream Scotland United event to listen to the speakers.
After being penned into the bar from 11am until about 12.30pm, police briefly allowed the SDL members out to protest, giving them the opportunity to chant slogans like “no surrender to the IRA” or sing Rule Britannia.
Police tolerated their protest for barely 20 minutes before packing them off in a bus. They were dumped at the Red Lion, a pub on Paisley Road West, and warned that anyone who tried to go back into town would be arrested.
The SDL’s original plans to march on Glasgow Central Mosque were thwarted at the point of application. Glasgow’s policy on marches is “somewhere between Northern Ireland and England” said a city council source, with special legislation designed to manage Orange marches. This means that while a static demonstration requires no permission from the council or police, any moving procession needs to be given the go-ahead by the authorities.
However, the SDL’s application for a moving procession was made using only the first name, Donald. The council’s request for more information was rejected. When the SDL was warned that its members would not be allowed to use the streets to protest, it replied that they would be happy to use the pavement – something a council source said would still be illegal.
At the same time as the SDL’s brief protest, the Scotland United rally at Glasgow Green heard speakers including Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie, Labour MP Mohammed Sarwar and the Rev Ian Galloway from the Church of Scotland.
In a rousing speech, Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m proud to be standing shoulder to shoulder with Scotland’s Muslim communities. . . "These people (the SDL) have no right to be heard. . . we will not have it in Glasgow and we will send you packing from every corner of Scotland”.
If you look at the website of the Daily Record you will see that not everybody was happy with this attack on free speech.
Back to the Sunday Herald
Ahead of the Scotland United event Osama Saeed, chairman of the Scottish Islamic Foundation, said that the only people missing from the coalition were Muslim elders themselves. There had been frantic wrangling behind the scenes as Mr Saeed and Mr Anwar tried to persuade mosque elders to take part.
Mr Saeed said: “The people running mosque don’t get involved in anything and tend to be very reclusive – this is another manifestation of it. A lot of them are immigrants and don’t see themselves as part of society, not the prominent actors they could and should be. It requires a huge change of mindset.”
Afterwards, Aamar Anwar claimed his coalition had inflicted a “humiliating defeat on the Nazi defence league”, but Don, the organiser of the SDL protest yesterday, gave one final warning: “He may say it’s a victory, but it’s hollow, because we’re not going nowhere. The next victory will be ours. We will stage demonstration after demonstration after demonstration. Today has gone well. We’ve had a peaceful protest, we’ve not hurt anybody. We’ve had the real victory today and won many more supporters. It’s been a big day for us.”
But not all SDL members agreed with Don. On the group’s Facebook site, even supporters were questioning the success of the Glasgow demonstration. In a post called Demo Today, one SDL member wrote: “I’m embarressed (sic).”
Scotland is complicated. Glasgow most complicated of all.
They don’t really like the English much so describing the Scottish Defence League as an ‘offshoot’ of the English Defence League meant that they had an initial handicap before their aims were ever considered.
Add to this the sectarian concerns of Protestant against Roman Catholic, support or dislike of the Orangemen, the heritage of Scottish against Irish, which still manifest itself, as can been seen in the comments, in football. The rivalry of Arsenal v Spurs, Man U v Man City is as nothing compared with the malevolence of Rangers v Celtic. Only one match will ever unite them. England v Scotland.
But if Scotland doesn’t watch itself and my unconfirmed recollection of Aamer Anwar (the human rights lawyer who was declared an unreliable witness when he accused of racism the woman whose car his wife damaged) and his cronies declaring “We control Glasgow” ultimately comes to fruition they can’t say that they were not warned.
Posted on 11/15/2009 10:44 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Is that a poem in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?
Evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller has written a book called Spent, subtitled Sex, Evolution and the Secrets of Consumerism. Is "Spent" a pun, or is it me? There are not, I suspect, many laughs in evolutionary psychology, a mean little discipline, which at best justifies male chauvinism, and at worst reduces us all to apes.
Reviewer Paul Seabright quotes in the Times Literary Supplement from Miller's earlier book The Mating Mind (2001): "Women find intelligence sexy (which explains the adaptive pressure on men) and women need intelligence to discriminate among intellectually pretentious men, which explains the adaptive pressure on women." The idea that women, or indeed men, can be intelligent for purposes other than mating, seems not to figure. If Miller had used religion, rather than cod science, to relegate women's brains to the role of catching a man, feminists would be kicking him in the intellectuals. In fact the idea sounds suspiciously Islamic; it is Islam, rather than Christianity, which regards the whole woman - brain too - as arwah.
I say "cod science"; codpiece science is more the size of it. Miller's research has led him to the startling conclusion that rich men puff themselves up with expensive baubles to attract women. But the brainy have baubles too. Paul Seabright summarises:
Given how attractive the rich are to potential mates, many would like to pretend to be richer than they are. So to send a credible signal about their vast earning power, the truly rich have to waste money on baubles whose only merit is their being unaffordable to the poor. To signal their intelligence, the brainy may likewise have to do some really pointless and wasteful things (like write sonnets or compose symphonies) that are just too difficult for the unintelligent person to do. That said, natural selection has, over vast stretches of time, trained us to want to do these things, so that sonnets and symphonies (or at least the best of them) cease to seem so pointless and wasteful. But they are no less baubles for that.
So, at a stroke, all artistic and intellectual endeavour is reduced to the status of a Rolex watch or a Ferrari, worn, or driven, in order to pull the birds. Presumably female artists and scientists are an evolutionary aberration, as are the uxorious, or the celibate, or the scholar whose work is unfashionable. And, since Miller is a disciple of Darwin, what of the brainboxes whose field is less than sexy? Fossils, for instance? "Come up and see my ammonites" doesn't sound quite right.
This materialist, reductionist view of human achievement has parallels in Islam. If not outlawed altogether, science and art are baubles to be "bought in", whether in the form of Western medicine, or, grotesquely, in the proposed Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Posted on 11/15/2009 10:44 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 15 November 2009
I dislike the word "competency" and dislike even more its plural "competencies". There is a word "competence" and a word "skills". "Competencies", used to mean the skills of a competent person, is unnecessary. Increasingly "competencies" is used in the context of qualifications, in particular National Vocational Qualifications, whose requirements are couched in ugly and woolly jargon. Our culture of "pro-activity" and "dynamism" means that these requirements are always phrased in terms of doing rather than learning, even if this means twisting the meaning and syntax into something jarring and meaningless. Here, for example, is an extract from the Level 4 NVQ in Environmental Management:
A2 Manage activities to meet requirements
B4 Determine the effective use of resources
C10 Develop teams and individuals to enhance performance
D2 Facilitate meetings
D4 Provide information to support decision-making
F3 Manage continuous quality improvement
G3 Contribute to project closure
Am I alone in wondering what students of this unit will actually be learning?
A supposed advantage of this style of syllabus is that the "competencies", sometimes known as "performance criteria" or "learning outcomes", can be ticked off one by one, until the learner is supremely competent. Failure under these schemes is impossible, or rather it is merely deferred success: a student is either marked "competent" or "not yet competent". Presumably there are no hopeless cases, as in the bad old days of pass and fail.
This tick-box approach has crept into A-Levels, once the gold standard of secondary education and is now, worryingly, proposed for university research. Stefan Collini writes in the TLS on the proposed "Research Excellence Framework", which is to determine the funding for academic research.
In many respects, the REF will be quite like [its predecessor] the RAE, and will require similar kinds of evidence in the submissions (selected publications, information about research environment, etc). But one very significant new element has been introduced. In this exercise, approximately 25 per cent of the rating (the exact proportion is yet to be confirmed) will be allocated for “impact”. The premiss is that research must “achieve demonstrable benefits to the wider economy and society”. The guidelines make clear that “impact” does not include “intellectual influence” on the work of other scholars and does not include influence on the “content” of teaching. It has to be impact which is “outside” academia, on other “research users” (and assessment panels will now include, alongside senior academics, “a wider range of users”). Moreover, this impact must be the outcome of a university department’s own “efforts to exploit or apply the research findings”: it cannot claim credit for the ways other people may happen to have made use of those “findings”.
Now consider [an] example. Three historians of Anglo-Saxon England, scattered across three different university history departments (there are rarely many of them in one place), read each other’s work over a number of years and slowly find they are developing a revisionist view of the significance of, say, weapons found in burial hoards. They publish their findings in a series of articles in the relevant professional journals, and other scholars duly ponder and are persuaded, incorporating the new interpretation in their own writing and teaching.
The curator of a regional museum, himself a recent graduate of one of these history departments who still keeps up with some of the scholarly literature, thinks that this new line would provide an excellent theme for an exhibition. He arranges for the loan of material from other museums, asks his old teacher to check the accompanying information panels, and the exhibition turns out to be very popular. This may appear to be a model case of research affecting the understanding of a wider public, but when the REF submissions are made by each of the history departments, none of this can be mentioned because the exhibition was not the direct result of the departments’ own “efforts to exploit or apply the research findings”. The impact score of the research is zero.
Adequately to capture the impact of the new “impact” requirement on research, we probably have to pursue this example a little further. In the case of the first of the three scholars, his department’s REF Committee is furious about this missed opportunity, and that scholar has to spend a considerable part of the next five years contacting museum curators and TV producers on the off chance that his research (which he now has less time to do) will be taken up for their own purposes. He also has to produce annual reports on his efforts to do this and annual plans for attempts to do it in the future. At the second scholar’s university, a diktat comes round from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) that no funding or leave will be given to support research unless a “demonstrable impact dimension” is in place beforehand, and staff are urged not to share with colleagues in other universities any information or contacts which might allow those universities to get in first. The second historian becomes fearful for his future: he does less research, ghostwrites the King Alfred Book of Bread and Cakes, and then becomes the university’s Director of Research Strategy (Humanities). At the third university, the historian in question simply cannot stand any more of this idiocy: he takes a post at an American university and goes on to do “highly innovative” and “groundbreaking” (but impact-free) research which changes the way scholars all over the world think about the field.
Perhaps our ears no longer hear what a fatuous, weaselly phrase “Research Excellence Framework” actually is, or how ludicrous it is to propose that the quality of scholarship can be partly judged in terms of the number of “external research users” or the range of “impact indicators”.
Instead of letting this drivel become the only vocabulary for public discussion of these matters, it is worth insisting that what we call “the humanities” are a collection of ways of encountering the record of human activity in its greatest richness and diversity. To attempt to deepen our understanding of this or that aspect of that activity is a purposeful expression of human curiosity and is – insofar as the expression makes any sense in this context – an end in itself. Unless these guidelines are modified, scholars in British universities will devote less time and energy to this attempt, and more to becoming door-to-door salesmen for vulgarized versions of their increasingly market-oriented “products”.
Collini should be grateful "impact" is still a noun. Still, who cares, as longs as it's sexy? We're all marketeers now.
Posted on 11/15/2009 11:49 AM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Minnesota Somali community “heartbroken” over arrest in Holland of alleged terrorist recruitment ringleader
Our colleague, Ann Corcoran at Refugee Resettlement Watch spotted this local Rochester, Minnesota Post-Bulletin Report about the local Somali émigré community reaction to the apprehension in The Netherlands of alleged Al Shabaab recruitment ringleader, Mohamud Said Omar. See our previous post on this story here.
Apparently, both the family of Omar and the local Somali community are “heartbroken.” The Rochester Post had these comments:
"It gives a bad image to our community," said Abdifattah Abdinur of Rochester. "As American Somalis, we don't condone any kind of violence or extremism, whether it's here or in our country or back home. It's heartbreaking to hear about these kinds of people."
The Somali man arrested in the Netherlands, Mohamud Said Omar, 43, is accused of financing Islamic terrorists. One of his brothers, Mohamed Osman, 51, lives in Rochester.
Another brother, Abdullahi Said Omar of Minneapolis, said Mohamud Said Omar was so poor he couldn't afford to bring his new wife from Somalia to the U.S.
Mohamed Osman said Mohamud Said Omar worked low-paying jobs to make ends meet and didn't have enough money to send to terrorists.
"He was homeless, he didn't even have a place to stay," said Mohamed Osman. Both brothers said they feel Omar is innocent.
This may be part of a taqiyya campaign by the Somali community to position Omar as a victim of his desperate acts to finance weapons and recruit more than 20 Somali émigré youths, only to have six of them die as suicide bombers or be murdered by Al Qaeda affiliate, Al Shabaab in Somalia. Omar not being able to bring his “wife” to the US, might be traceable to by the temporary hold by the State Department, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration placed on the P-3 Visa family reunification program, when DNA tests in Kenyan refugee camps revealed that more than four fifths of DNA samples taken by field agents of US immigration teams from Somali refugee applicants didn’t check out. If Omar was so poverty stricken where did he obtain the funds to flee to The Netherlands, facilitated by his possession of a US green card, to hide out for several months before he surfaced and was caught red handed at a Dutch Asylum center north of Amsterdam?
We await more information, when Omar is extradited to the US and arraigned at a federal court hearing in Minneapolis following an interview with the FBI conducting investigations into the Al Shabaab recruitment in the twin cities. These news reports reflect the intimidation of the media by the Somali émigré community in Minneapolis, whose presence is significant. A friend from Philadelphia, who recently traveled to Minneapolis on business, noted what he observed in an email exchange following our earlier post:
I was recently in Minneapolis' Somali and N. African neighborhood briefly and was shocked by how large it is and also how people I spoke in that city do not know its size and scope and what goes on.
“Shocked, shocked??” Tell that to the Congress who passed the Refugee Act of 1980, which abdicated US sovereignty over designation of legal humanitarian refugees to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. That is why we have large Somali émigré communities in the twin cities area, Columbus, Ohio and a number of other cities, both large and small. That abdication by federal refugee authorities spawned the rapid growth of the Somali émigré community in America and the unfortunate recruitment of youths as Jihadi terrorists in Somalia. Witness, the possible “honor killing” that we have reported Fort Morgan, Colorado, a secondary immigration destination because of employment in the meat packing plant of Cargill, Inc. As we keep saying, a complete overhaul of the Refugee Act of 1980 is long overdue. The Omar case is one reason why Congress should open hearings on the reform of this immigration law.
Posted on 11/15/2009 2:18 PM by Jerry Gordon
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Tina Trent: Hate Crimes?
For a bracing dose of common sense - impassioned common sense at that - I turn to Tina Trent's blog Crime Victims Media Report. Here she puts the Fort Hood killings in context:
What happens if you sign a hate crimes bill, and then all the wrong types of people commit “hate crimes?”
Well, you keep your mouth shut about it.
Last week, as Barack Obama signed the Defense Appropriations Bill that was being used as a vehicle for his Hate Crimes legislation, he declared:
“After more than a decade, we’ve passed inclusive hate-crimes legislation to help protect our citizens from violence based on what they look like, who they love, how they pray or who they are.”
Who they are. Except, of course, if they are women being tortured by a cheering mob in Richmond, California; or women being lured off the streets and strangled while their killer spews hate-filled invective about women deserving to die in Cleveland; or random women gunned down while attending a workout class in Pittsburgh.
Or soldiers in Fort Hood, gunned down by a killer attacking what the soldiers stand for — that is, Americans.
Or the 3,000 people killed for being American on 9/11.
Before going on his killing spree yesterday, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan apparently felt strongly enough about vigorously responding to even the most minor identity-based offenses to report himself as a victim of a hate crime after someone (perhaps Hasan himself) keyed his car recently. So will the feds return the favor? Will the F.B.I., newly anointed by the President with expanded powers to prosecute hate, declare the murder of 12 and wounding of 31 acts of violence “based on who the victims are”?
Will Obama stand in front of a microphone and declare that Hasan will be prosecuted as a hate criminal, to send a message that in America we will not tolerate violence committed by those who strike out at people because of their identity?
Of course he won’t.
Kill 12 Americans for being Americans and wound 31, and the president and the F.B.I. will refuse to call your actions anti-American hate crimes.
The same thing happened in the wake of 9/11: those 3,000 anti-American murders were not counted.
And the 12 murders and 31 woundings in Fort Hood will not be counted, either. We couldn’t possibly have the most prevalent form of hatred in our country (by a power of thousands) being nationality-based hatred against Americans, now could we?
Posted on 11/15/2009 4:12 PM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Karen Armstrong & Tariq Ramadan Form "Charter for Compassion"
Along with Paul "you can call me Ali" Simon (sorry, I just couldn't help myself). From the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report:
Global media is reporting on a “Charter for Compassion” launched in connection by former nun and writer Karen Armstrong and whose council includes global Muslim Brotherhood leader Tariq Ramadan. According to one report:
Religious leaders from around the world joined a former nun on Thursday to unveil a Charter for Compassion that urges people to embrace understanding and shun violence. A charterforcompassion.org website that sprang from a wish Karen Armstrong was granted in 2008 at a prestigious Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) Conference went live Thursday. “It requires you in your own sphere to work for a more compassionate world,” Armstrong told AFP. “The terrorists and extremists are all highly organized and networked; we must do the same.” The charter’s growing list of “affirmers” includes the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Queen Noor of Jordan, Grand Mufti of Egypt Sheikh Ali Gomaa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu; author Sir Ken Robinson, and musician Paul Simon.
Previous posts have identified Ms. Armstrong as a participant in several events and organizations involving the global Muslim Brotherhood.
Tariq Ramadan is perhaps best described as an independent power center within the global Brotherhood with sufficient stature as the son of Said Ramadan and the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood to challenge positions taken by important Brotherhood leaders. His statements and writings have been extensively analyzed and he has been accused by critics of promoting anti-Semitism and fundamentalism, albeit by subtle means. On the other hand, his supporters promote him as as example of an Islamic reformer who is in the forefront of developing a “Euro Islam.” Ramadan is currently professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Theology and senior research fellow at St. Antony’s College (Oxford), Dohisha University (Kyoto, Japan) and at the Lokahi Foundation (London).
Posted on 11/15/2009 4:24 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 15 November 2009
The CIA Is Paying Millions To Pakistan's ISI
This is on top of the billions we give Pakistan in military aid so that they will continue to pretend to be our ally in the "war on terror." From the L.A. Times:
Reporting from Washington - The CIA has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to Pakistan's intelligence service since the Sept. 11 attacks, accounting for as much as one-third of the foreign spy agency's annual budget, current and former U.S. officials say.
The Inter-Services Intelligence agency also has collected tens of millions of dollars through a classified CIA program that pays for the capture or killing of wanted militants, a clandestine counterpart to the rewards publicly offered by the State Department, officials said.
The payments have triggered intense debate within the U.S. government, officials said, because of long-standing suspicions that the ISI continues to help Taliban extremists who undermine U.S. efforts in Afghanistan and provide sanctuary to Al Qaeda members in Pakistan.
But U.S. officials have continued the funding because the ISI's assistance is considered crucial: Almost every major terrorist plot this decade has originated in Pakistan's tribal belt, where ISI informant networks are a primary source of intelligence.
The White House National Security Council has "this debate every year," said a former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official involved in the discussions. Like others, the official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. Despite deep misgivings about the ISI, the official said, "there was no other game in town."
The word "game" is a telling description.
Posted on 11/15/2009 7:17 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Mary Poppins banned from child minding
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious news from Newsbiscuit:
Self styled ‘nanny’ Mary Poppins has today been served with a court order banning her from all child minding activities. Following the hearing, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s Social Services department issued a statement outlining the reasons for the order.
‘Ms Poppins, of no fixed abode, has no recognised child care qualifications from any accredited organisation. Her previous employer, a Mr Banks, raised a number of concerns with us including her administration of spoonfuls of an unidentified medicine to children in her care, all of them laced with unhealthy amounts of sugar. The children spoke of flying up to the clouds for tea so we are carrying out tests to establish whether it may have been an opiate based drug administered to make the children more placid.’
The statement went on to list occasions on which Ms Poppins left the children in the care of an unknown male, possibly a chimney sweep from the East end of London, who lacked the proper CRB checks and who may have led them to make unsupervised excursions to the East End. They were also exposed to other hazards, including a neighbour with access to high explosives and possible links to a terrorist organisation. The Health and Safety Executive are also looking into claims that the children were taken up onto roof tops without any safety equipment or a proper risk assessment being made.
I would ban Mary Poppins the film on the grounds that it is sugary sweet and nothing like the book. And what kind of Cockney is Dick van Dyke - surely a contradiction in terms?
Posted on 11/15/2009 2:43 PM by Mary Jackson
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Unsurprisingly, Russia Feels No Need To Keep Its Promises
Russian Deal on Afghan Supply Route Not Done Yet
WASHINGTON — When he met President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia in April, President Obama sought to open an important new supply corridor for Afghanistan by flying American troops and weapons through Russian airspace. Visiting Moscow in July, he sealed a deal for as many as 4,500 flights a year, in what he called a “substantial contribution” to the war and a sign of improving relations with Russia.
Seven months after the idea was raised and four months after the agreement was signed, the number of American flights that have actually traversed Russian airspace?
One. And that was for show.
The failure so far to translate words into reality amid bureaucratic delays, including one involving a Russian agency insisting on charging air navigation fees that the Kremlin had said would be waived, underscores the challenges of Mr. Obama’s effort to transform ties between Washington and Moscow. For all of the lofty sentiments expressed at high-profile summit meetings, actual change has never been easy to deliver.
The need to break through the logjam will soon take on fresh urgency if Mr. Obama decides to deploy tens of thousands of additional troops to Afghanistan. For eight years, the American military has struggled to find and maintain reliable supply routes into Afghanistan, but Mr. Obama may send more troops in a single order than at any point in the war, straining the system.
Because of the difficulties in getting supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistan, the new Russian air corridor “would be fairly important,” said Ronald E. Neumann, a former ambassador to Afghanistan and now president of the American Academy of Diplomacy. “This doesn’t answer the question of how much we’ll be able to rely on the Russian connection, and that will be a big part of how much of a difference it can make.”
Anthony H. Cordesman, a military expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington who has advised Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander in Afghanistan, said the United States “needs as many options as it can get” to send troops and equipment.
“There is no way to predict how reliable any given route will be during a war that seems nearly certain to last for three to four more years,” he said. “There is no way to guarantee Pakistani stability, and almost any major base could be the subject of a large-scale Taliban bombing. The U.S. can live without a Russian option, but it would be much better off with one.”
The uncertainty comes at a tenuous moment in Russian-American relations, as Mr. Obama seeks more support from the Kremlin in pressing Iran to scale back its nuclear program, and as the United States and Russia race to agree on a new nuclear arms treaty before the current one expires Dec. 5.
The problems with opening the air corridor as part of a so-called northern distribution network stem from a variety of technical issues that American officials are working to resolve, among them a dispute over who will pay. Under the pact that Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev sealed in July, the Russians agreed to waive air navigation fees typically charged for right of passage and air traffic control.
American officials said the new route would save $133 million a year in fuel, maintenance and other costs. But the Russian agency that collects the navigation fees has so far refused to exempt the Americans.
The Obama administration is sending a technical team to Moscow to try to work out what standards should apply to the flights, and spokesmen for the two governments played down the problem.
“We are working through procedural delays on the Russian side and hope to begin regular flights soon,” said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary.
Aleksei Pavlov, a spokesman for Mr. Medvedev, said the Kremlin had every intention of fulfilling the agreement. “We are eager to resolve this issue in the nearest future,” he said.
But such seemingly minor complications have bollixed Russian-American agreements before. President Bill Clinton and President Boris Yeltsin agreed in 1998 to open a joint early warning center in Moscow, where Russian and American personnel would work side by side to detect missile launches and avoid misunderstandings that could lead to accidental war.
Their successors renewed the agreement, but the center has been delayed for 11 years amid disputes over issues like construction liability. Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev vowed to try again last summer, but in the latest holdup, the Russians have delayed allowing American inspectors into the country to examine the still unopened facility.
The idea of sending American forces through Russia to a war zone is fraught with a complicated history and mutual suspicion. For years, the idea was out of the question. Then in 2008, Russia agreed to open a land corridor, but only for nonlethal supplies.
The agreement to allow American troops and weapons to fly over the territory of Russia, its onetime cold war enemy, was seen as a symbolic breakthrough as much as a logistical one, and administration officials argued that it was a triumph even if no planes actually ever used the route. Still, just as some people in Moscow appear apprehensive about American forces in their airspace, some American officials are wary of putting too much faith in the Russians, who could easily close down the corridor if political tension rises again.
The latest transit agreement formally went into effect Sept. 4. A week later, the Pentagon sent Moscow a general description of cargo and personnel that would be shipped under the agreement, as well as the regular destinations of the planes, according to an administration official. The Russians accepted the request, and the two sides arranged for a single test flight on Oct. 8, just before Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton visited Moscow.
But the dispute over the air transit fees has yet to be solved, complicated by whether the planes used will be American military craft or contracted civilian planes. Moreover, the American side is still working to amend its overflight agreements with Poland and Kazakhstan so the flights can traverse those countries as well.
Administration officials said that they remained confident these issues could be worked out, and that they had requested a second test flight to try to advance the program. They said that they did not expect Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev to talk about the issue when the presidents meet in Singapore on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting, but that they hoped to resolve it at lower levels.
Posted on 11/15/2009 8:19 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 November 2009
A Musical interlude: Make Yourself At Home (Sophie Tucker)
Posted on 11/15/2009 9:48 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 November 2009
UN panel adopts Pakistan's draft on self-determination right
Following their "anti-defamation of Islam" resolution, the UN continues their march against the West, for the benefit of Islam. From the Daily Times in Pakistan:
UNITED NATIONS: A committee of the UN General Assembly on Friday adopted a Pakistan-sponsored resolution, reaffirming people’s right to self-determination, and called for cessation of foreign military intervention, occupation and repression.
The resolution, approved by consensus, seeks to draw the world's attention towards the struggle by the people for their inalienable right to self-determination, including those in Kashmir and Palestine. [Errata: For "including," please replace "specifically". Artemis]
Next month: Pakistan has been tabling this draft in the 192-member assembly's Third Committee since 1981, and each year it passes without a vote. The text – sponsored by over 50 Asian, African and Latin American countries – will come up for endorsement in the General Assembly next month.
The resolution reaffirms the universal rights of people to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Charter and international covenants on human rights. Through the text, the assembly reaffirmed that the universal realisation of the right of all people – including those under colonial, foreign and alien domination – to self-determination was a fundamental condition for the effective guarantee, observance, preservation and promotion of human rights.
The assembly also declared its firm opposition to acts of foreign military intervention, aggression and occupation, since those have resulted in the suppression of the people’s right to self-determination and other human rights in certain parts of the world.
It also called on the states, responsible for the invasion, to immediately cease their military intervention in, and occupation of, foreign countries and territories, as well as all acts of repression, discrimination, exploitation and maltreatment.
The assembly also deplored the plight of millions of refugees and displaced persons who had been uprooted as a result of these acts, and reaffirmed their right to return to their homes voluntarily in safety and honour.
It also requested the Human Rights Council to give special attention to the violation of human rights, especially the right to self-determination, resulting from foreign military intervention, aggression or occupation. The co-sponsors of the resolution include Albania, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Bolivia, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Central African Republic, China, Comoros, Congo, Ivory Coast, Dominica, Egypt, El-Salvador, Eritrea, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, the Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Thailand, East Timor, Togo, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and Zimbabwe
What a rogue's list that is. I wonder if this was meant to apply to Kurdistan in Iran, Turkey, and Iraq? Or Balochistan in Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan? Or the Rohingya people of Burma? Or the Kabylie Berbers in Algeria? Or the Sahrawi people of Morocco, Algeria, and Mauritania? Or the Tuareg Berbers of Niger, Algeria, Mali, and Libya? Or the Aden Governorate of Yemen?
There are plenty more instances of people in Dar al Islam yearning for their independent home lands, and "self-determination". I'm certain that Pakistan and the UN do not have them in mind with this resolution. None of these people deserve an independent home land. Their (Muslim) governments should be allowed to use military force to put down their "insurrections".
No, only the Indian and Israeli governments should be constrained from holding on to their territory in Kashmir and "Palestine," respectively. This resolution, if passed, would only apply selectively to grant Muslims "homelands" taken from kuffrs' lands. "Self-determination" is merely a euphemism for the inability of Muslims to submit to the rule of non-Muslims.
Posted on 11/15/2009 9:45 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden