Jordan today became the latest Arab country to adopt violent repression as its response to protest – inspired, perhaps, by seeing similar tactic used by US allies like Bahrain and Yemen with little retribution from Washington.
This afternoon, police shut down a major protest camp in Amman, using water cannons. Mubarak-style thugs, widely believed to be hired by the regime, attacked the protesters with sticks and stones. Local news sources are reporting one death and nearly 100 injured.
"It was a disaster," says Fakher Daas, a leader from Jordan's Popular Unity Party who was in the camp. "They surrounded us from the four [sides], thugs and policemen and darak [riot police]. … Thugs were throwing stones from high buildings. … We ran away, but there was nowhere to run."
Later, there were multiple eyewitness reports of police surrounding hospitals and arresting patients or those trying to enter.
The crackdown comes as other Arab regimes are becoming more confident, and flexing their muscles against protesters. Last week, Gulf countries – most notably Saudi Arabia – sent troops to Bahrain to violently suppress protests there, resulting in several deaths.
Shortly after, loyalists of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh fired on protesters in Sanaa, and Syrian security forces have sealed of the southern city of Deraa to put down protests, and today opened fire on demonstrators in Damascus.
Has Jordan been learning by example? Since the new wave of Arab revolutions started, Middle East scholars have warned that the US response to one country's crisis could shape how the others developed.
Unlike Libya, already a pariah state, US allies Bahrain and Yemen have faced no serious sanctions or penalties for their use of force against protesters – something that could be establishing a new norm in the region.
Then again, Syria's crackdown may simply mean regimes feel secure that, after the struggle to get military force authorized against Libya, the West is simply not going to open up yet another front.
For Jordan, the crackdown will have serious consequences. It was only Tuesday that the country made its first significant move towards reform, bringing together a fragile coalition to propose changes to the law and the constitution.
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr al-Hasidi admitted that he had recruited "around 25" men from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, are "today are on the front lines in Adjabiya".
Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters "are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists," but added that the "members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader".
His revelations came even as Idriss Deby Itno, Chad's president, said al-Qaeda had managed to pillage military arsenals in the Libyan rebel zone and acquired arms, "including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries".
Mr al-Hasidi admitted he had earlier fought against "the foreign invasion" in Afghanistan, before being "captured in 2002 in Peshwar, in Pakistan". He was later handed over to the US, and then held in Libya before being released in 2008.
US and British government sources said Mr al-Hasidi was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, which killed dozens of Libyan troops in guerrilla attacks around Derna and Benghazi in 1995 and 1996.
Even though the LIFG is not part of the al-Qaeda organisation, the United States military's West Point academy has said the two share an "increasingly co-operative relationship". In 2007, documents captured by allied forces from the town of Sinjar, showed LIFG emmbers made up the second-largest cohort of foreign fighters in Iraq, after Saudi Arabia.
Earlier this month, al-Qaeda issued a call for supporters to back the Libyan rebellion, which it said would lead to the imposition of "the stage of Islam" in the country.
British Islamists have also backed the rebellion, with the former head of the banned al-Muhajiroun proclaiming that the call for "Islam, the Shariah and jihad from Libya" had "shaken the enemies of Islam and the Muslims more than the tsunami that Allah sent against their friends, the Japanese".
Can Assad Go, But The Alawites Remain To Protect The Christians?
The Alawite sect, which held off the real Muslims by living in the less accessible parts of Syria -- the same way that the Maronites continued to live in the mountainous parts of present-day Lebanon -- got their start when the French, needing locals they could trust, chose for their Troupes Speciales in the 1920s Armenians, Alawites, and Druze. In the end, it was the Alawites who found their calling as military men, and rose through the ranks. And it is the Alawite dominance of the officer corps that allows them now -- though they are only 12% of the population in Syria, to lord it over the Sunni Muslims (who constitute about 70% of the population) and to protect, and out of gratitude and fear of the alternative receive the quiet support from, the Christians of Syria (including Maronites, Greek Orthodox, and the Armenians who, in Aleppo, are so important).
But the Alawites -- to identify them simply as Shi'a Muslims is wrong, for it is their syncretism, including their cult of Mary, that makes orthodox Muslims so wary of the them. In 1980-1982, all hell broke loose in Syria. The Muslims -- the real Muslims -- plotted against the Alawites, and had some spectacular successes. The most memorable may be the graduation ceremony at the military academy where those graduating, all of them Alawites, were massacred. There were more than 80 killed.
In response to this, and other attacks not as well-known, Hafez al-Assad had his army surround the city of Hama, where the Muslim Brotherhood was strongest, and attack from all sides. Anyone shouting "Allahu Akbar" was to be shot down. The Alawite officers made sure that Sunni recruits did their job, or those soldiers would also be killed. Between 20,000 and 40,000 were killed. This bought thirty years of quiet.
Now the copy-cat contamination, not of "democracy" but of revolt against perceived injustice, has spread to Syria. The regime certainly has it coming. And it would be wonderful to weaken it, and to force it to drop its alliance with Iran and with Hezbollah. It would be good to diminish the ability, and the desire, of the Syrian regime to do more than stay in power. But that does not mean that the Alawites should lose their control of the military. For many years I have suggested that the recognition of the useful role the Alawites play inside Syria should be recognized, even as one works to weaken the Syrian regime in Lebanon, and to end its support of Hezbollah and its alliance with Iran.
If Alawite generals were to be made to understand that in the West, many are prepared to help them keep their military control -- and if they do not, then every Alawite village will suffer from Sunni Muslims bent on revenge --if they stop their noxious geopolitics. They can't be allowed to continue to support Hezbollah and Iran, they'll have to give up their ludicrous revanchist notions of getting back the Golan Heights, from which they made life hell for Israeli farmers for decades (the Golan which was originally supposed to be part of the territory included in that assigned by the League of Nations to the Jewish National Home). In return, they'll get something better: they'll be allowed to survive, as Alawites and to continue to protect the Christians in Syria -- including those who recently arrived from Iraq.
That's a good deal for them, for the survival of Christians, and hence Christianity, in the Middle East. It's not a good deal for Iran, the Shi'a of Hezbollah, or the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. What could be better?
Removing -- A Few At First, To Warn The Others -- The Shi'a From The Left Littoral Of The Persian Gulf
There is no solution in Bahrain that is acceptable to both sides. The atmospherics of Islam -- just read the Qur'an, Hadith, and Sira -- encourage aggression and violence, and discourage making genuine peace with Infidels, and the Muslim mindset is that those who are ethnic or sectarian enemies are assimilated, sooner or later, to the condition of Infidels. The Iranian claim to Bahrain pre-dates this decade, pre-dates the Islamic Republic of Iran. So does the claim to the Tunb Islands (Greater and Lesser, and there's a third whose name I forget and am not about to look up at this moment of unwonted and unwanted rosy-fingered dawn), which are claimed by the U.A.E. When an aggressive Iran is attempting to acquire nuclear weapons, when Shi'a missionaries are -- amazingly -- making inroads among Sunnis in some non-Arab Muslim lands, and when Iran's proxies in Lebanon, Hezbollah, are causing such trouble to the Sunni merchant class and to nice Mr. Hariri, son of the Sunni Muslim local boy who went off and made good in Sunnissimo Saudi Arabia, and then returned to help his fellow Sunnis in Lebanon, but was blown up by Syrians doing the Shi'a God's work -- well, it's time to cut short the comedy.
Now you just can't, right now, pick up all the Shi'a in Bahrain and move them. No, that wouldn't look good.
So Step One is t to make clear that the Saudis, the Emiratis, the Kuwaitis (where is Qatar in all this? And why is Al-Jazeera, the famous Arab propaganda outlet that wants us to take it seriously and let it be on cable stations in the U.S., the better to pour poison in our American Infidel ears, doing so little about covering Bahrain?) will not stand for the Shi'a taking control in Bahrain. That's been accomplished.
Now it's time for Step Two. That is to make clear to the Shi'a in Bahrain that the Sunnis can lift up Shi'a and move them out. It will start with non-native Shi'a -- Iranian businessmen, Lebanese, perhaps others. They will not be allowed to return, when on holiday, or have their visas cancelled, or otherwise have life made unpleasant for them. Not only in Bahrain, but in the U.A.E. (in Dubai, for example), and Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. The Shi'a in Bahrain will get the message. They too can be pushed right out of Bahrain, and knocked all the way back to -- well, somewhere, possibly even Iran though they may not all be Iranian even in distant origin.
It's going to be fun to watch. And no doubt it is beyond the wit of Washington to figure this out in advance. But it should be obvious to them. It would be, if their "experts" were doing their job, and understood the texts, tenets, attitudes, and atmospherics of Islam. But they don't. It's too much trouble. It's too painful.
Thousands of Christians have been forced to flee their homes in Western Ethiopia after Muslim extremists set fire to roughly 50 churches and dozens of Christian homes.
At least one Christian has been killed, many more have been injured and anywhere from 3,000 to 10,000 have been displaced in the attacks that began March 2 after a Christian in the community of Asendabo was accused of desecrating the Koran.
The violence escalated to the point that federal police forces sent to the area two weeks ago were initially overwhelmed by the mobs. Government spokesman Shimelis Kemal told Voice of America police reinforcements had since restored order and 130 suspects had been arrested and charged with instigating religious hatred and violence.
"We believe there are elements of the Kawarja sect and other extremists who have been preaching religious intolerance in the area,” he said at a Saturday press conference. “In previous times, we have cracked down on Kawarja because they were involved in violence. Since then they have changed their tactics and they have been able to camouflage their activities through legal channels."
The string of attacks comes on the heels of several reports of growing anti-Christian tension and violence around the country where Muslims make up roughly one-third of the total population but more than 90 percent of the population in certain areas, 2007 Census data shows.
One of those areas is Besheno where, on November 9, all the Christians in the city woke up to find notes on their doors warning them to convert to Islam, leave the city or face death, a Christian from Besheno told FoxNews.com on condition of anonymity.
“Under the Ethiopian constitution we are supposed to have freedom of religion, but Muslim leaders in our town don’t allow us that right,” the source said.
Later that month three Christians in Besheno were assaulted in religiously-motivated attacks and three others were forced to flee the city after being told that Muslim leaders had commissioned hit men to kill them, one of the exiled Christians told FoxNews.com.
“We were told by some Muslims that live in the city that there was already a plan to kill us and that the people who were assigned to kill us had already come from another city to do it.”
A witness to the three attacks was then assaulted in January after testifying about them in court, International Christian Concern (ICC), an organization that aims to fight Christian persecution, reported.
In the southern town of Moyale, a Christian was sentenced to three years in prison in November for allegedly writing "Jesus is the Lord" in a copy of the Koran, Compass Direct News reported. Christians from the area told the website he had actually written the phrase on a piece of cloth.
Sources also told Compass authorities had offered to release the man, Tamirat Woldegorgis, if he would convert to Islam, but he refused.
Additionally, two of his friends were fined for visiting him in prison and taking him food, Compass Direct reported.
And in Oma Village on February 26 a Muslim mob with rocks and rods assaulted and wounded 17 Christian college students who were distributing Bibles during a mission trip, ICC reported.
The mob overwhelmed government security forces that attempted to protect the students, but the students eventually fled, the ICC website said.
"The violence against Christians in Ethiopia is alarming because Ethiopian Muslims and Christians used to live together peacefully. Besides, it’s extremely disconcerting that in Ethiopia, where Christians are the majority, they are also the victims of persecution," Jonathan Racho, ICC's Regional Manager of Africa and South Asia, told FoxNews.com.
Meles said that the government is doing everything it can to stop religious violence.
"We knew that they were peddling this ideology of intolerance, but it was not possible for us to stop them administratively because they are within their rights," he said. "If we can find some association between what they are doing by way of preaching and what happened by way of violence, then of course we can take them to court."
Racho, originally from Ethiopia, said the fact that the government waited a full week before sending troops to Asendabo shows that it’s not doing enough. Going forward, he said he hopes the government "will take measures to ensure that such attacks will not happen in the future," including bringing all responsible parties to justice to show this will not be tolerated.
"The Ethiopian government has arrested around 130 of the perpetrators, and we hope they will be prosecuted according to the law."
In Sudan, Arab Muslims Try To Starve To Death, Or Drive Into Chad, Non-Arab Muslims Of Darfur
Sudan preventing food, health care from reaching Darfur, aid group says
By Rebecca Hamilton, Friday, March 25
The Sudanese government is preventing aid organizations from delivering food and health services to hundreds of thousands of people in the conflict-ridden Darfur region of the country, according to one of the largest remaining groups there.
The crackdown has left displaced populations at risk of disease and malnutrition as the government increases military operations in the area.
Catholic Relief Services was forced to suspend its work in West Darfur state after the government told it to leave Jan. 20, the organization’s country director, Darren Hercyk, said in an interview.
The group’s international staff was relocated to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and its Sudanese employees have not been allowed to deliver services. “Right now, this means that 400,000 people in West Darfur are not receiving food rations,” he said.
Hercyk said the group did not speak out earlier because it hoped the government would reverse its position.
“All along, we felt we were just one week away from returning,” he said. “Before, we always felt like if we got back in, we could catch people up. But now we have reached the point that the situation is dire.”
Last month, the government expelled Medecins du Monde, the only aid group operating in the mountainous Jebel Marra region, which the Sudanese government has bombed in recent months, according to Human Rights Watch. Thousands of people in that volatile area now lack access to medical care.
Darfur became the subject of widespread international concern in 2004, when reports began to detail the Sudanese government’s counter-insurgency campaign against rebels in the region. Coordinated bombings, massacres and rapes by the government and its proxy, the Janjaweed militia, led the George W. Bush administration to label the atrocities as genocide. The United Nations estimates that 300,000 people died and 2.7 million were displaced as a result of the violence.
The United Nations launched the world’s largest aid operation to ensure the survival of those forced to flee their homes. But in March 2009, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir expelled 13 major international aid organizations and disbanded three national aid groups after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The government accused the groups of providing information to the court, a charge they and the court denied.
According to the United Nations, the expulsions removed 40 percent of the aid workers in Darfur. Since then, the remaining organizations have scrambled to cover the gaps in humanitarian assistance.
Catholic Relief Services tripled its staff to help deliver food, health and water services to the nearly 1 million displaced people in West Darfur. No other organization has taken over that role in the past two months.
The Sudanese government has accused Catholic Relief Services of distributing Bibles in Darfur, a charge it denies. Darfur’s population is almost entirely Muslim, and apostasy is criminalized under the sharia law imposed by the Sudanese government in the north of the country.
“That is not something we have done or would do,” said Hercyk, adding that all of the group’s national staff members in Darfur are Muslim and that the government has been unable to show any evidence to support its accusation.
The government has also said it cannot guarantee the security of the group’s staff in Darfur. But Hercyk said he has not been informed of any threats. The representative of another aid organization still operating in Darfur, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisals, said the government often cites security concerns to keep aid organizations from accessing the populations most in need.
It has become increasingly difficult to obtain an accurate picture of the humanitarian need in Darfur. The United Nations stopped issuing a quarterly humanitarian assessment after the 2009 expulsions, and the Sudanese government has not granted travel permits for journalists to enter Darfur for many months.
But a Darfuri leader near the West Darfur capital of El Geneina, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of being targeted by the government, described the situation.
“Now for a second month we here did not receive any food ration. No oil. No beans. People are hungry,” he said in a phone interview.
In recent months, international attention has shifted to southern Sudan, where voters in January overwhelmingly backed independence from the north. With the focus on a different part of the country, the Sudanese government has intensified its military activities in Darfur, which will remain under its control after Sudan officially splits apart in July.
The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Sudan, Georg Charpentier, said in a statement this week that the new fighting has led to the displacement of more than 70,000 people since December, stretching the limited capacity of the remaining aid organizations.
SANAA — Embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh's ruling party has rejected growing demands for his ouster, as soldiers on Saturday killed six suspected Al-Qaeda members in the south of the country.
Saleh, in power since 1978 and a key US ally in its fight against Al-Qaeda, has faced two months of street protests and his regime has been hit over the past week by defections in the ranks of top military and tribal leaders.
"It is unacceptable and illogical to override the constitutional legality or for the minority to impose its will on the majority of the people," his General People's Congress (GPC) said in a meeting late on Friday.
The GPC accused the opposition of having "closed the door to dialogue and sought isolation", and said the crowds who took part in a pro-regime rally of solidarity with Saleh on Friday numbered three million.
Saleh himself said he would hand over power but only to "safe hands", in a defiant speech to his massed supporters, after talks with a top defector apparently failed to defuse Yemen's political crisis.
"We don't need power. We need to hand it over to safe hands, and not to corrupt and hateful hands ... You are the ones who will be handed power," Yemen's strongman told his supporters.
The president, whose concessions and offers to stand down early have been snubbed by the opposition, renewed his invitation for youths at the forefront of the protests to join a dialogue.
"I am ready to talk to you and to form a political party for the youths," said Saleh, 69, who has ruled Yemen for more than 30 years.
In behind-the-scenes talks aimed at averting more bloodshed, Saleh and top dissident General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, considered the second strongest man in Yemen, failed to strike a deal on Thursday night, the two sides said.
Defections to the opposition accelerated after regime loyalists opened fire during a protest in Sanaa on March 18, killing 52 people.
Ahmar, a regional army commander who has vowed to defend the protesters, is leading efforts to form a transitional council grouping all sides, according to sources close to the secret negotiations.
With hundreds of thousands of rival demonstrators on Sanaa's streets on Friday, soldiers fired warning shots to prevent loyalists whipped up by Saleh's speech attacking anti-regime protesters. There were no reports of casualties.
Many in the anti-regime camp brandished football referee-style red cards signaling it was time for Saleh to go.
In southern Yemen, a security source said on Saturday the military killed six suspected Al-Qaeda members who attacked a post in restive Abyan, a stronghold of the Islamist militants.
"The Al-Qaeda members launched an armed attack on a military unit stationed at a power plant in Loder. The military responded, killing six of the attackers," the source told AFP.
Government forces and Al-Qaeda militants fought a pitched battle in Loder in late August, when at least 33 people were killed, including 19 militants.
Analysts have said Saleh's role as a key US anti-Qaeda ally has likely contributed to Washington's relatively muted response to deadly crackdowns on pro-democracy protests in Yemen.
London Yesterday. Sharia for Libya - Sharia for the UK.
This was Oxford Street yesterday. HT MfE. To quote Think Africa Press who put it on You Tube "Walking protests shut down traffic on Oxford Street in central London. Projecting slogans such as "Sharia for UK", demonstrators professed their disapproval of allied involvement in Libya." I recognised several familiar faces, (well the men, the women could have been anybody) bug eyed boy and wispy beard boy among them.
Another question - yesterday was an ordinary school day. Why were the children walking with the black ghost women not in school?
Laughter In The Dark, Or, The Penis Of Julian Schnabel
"Once upon a time in Berlin, Germany, there lived a man named Albinus Kretschmar. He was rich, respectable, happy. One day he abandoned his wife for the sake of a youthful mistress. He loved, was not loved, and his life ended in disaster."
--- From "Laughter In The Dark" (Vladimir Nabokov)
I can't get enough of Julian Schnabel's penis. Can you? For it was that appendage that turned this well-promoted not-very-good painter and not-so-bad-filmmaker into a propagandist for the Arabs ("Palestinian" Division) in his new movie "Miral." And it was that independent gogolian protuberance that pointed out to him, some years ago, a very good-looking Arab girl, one Rula Jebreal whose every wish somehow became his command.. The rest is minor cinematic history. And now this propaganda film, not unartful, which was recently shown at the U.N. will, if Harvey Weinstein has his way, be coming to a theatre near you.
Now it's one thing if, like Nabokov's Albinus Kretschmar, one abandon's one's wife for the sake of a youthful mistress -- go right ahead, it's a free country, pay that alimony, and so on -- such affairs are no affairs of ours. But it's quite another if, as part of the arrangement, you end up disseminating lies that damage the ability of others, others who are in a permanent fight for their lives, and what's more, you defend those lies as the truth. On NPR this morning, I heard Julian Schnabel assert that Rula Jebreal carried scars on her back from a beating she had received from Israeli soldiers. I don't believe it, Not for one minute. I know that Israeli soldiers do not beat Arab women on their backs with sticks. But I do know that all over the Arab and Muslim world, men beat women -- their wives, their sisters -- for all kinds of things. And I also know -- and you can see it today, in all the stories coming from both sides out of Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Jordan -- that exaggeration and lying is simply what Arabs do, all the time, in order to score against a hated enemy. And they lie most of all about Israelis. Simply turn on the PA television, or go to www.MEMRI.org, to see the most extravagant lies. Or just collect the remarks of Saeb Erakat, the "Palestinian" propaganda chief until recently. Few who follow such matters can be unaware of this record. But Julian Schnabel apparently was taken in. And he appears to think that the fact that some Israelis helped him make the movie -- has he no notion of the gideon-levy view of Israel that is represented so strongly in the world of Israeli film-making -- means it must have been a fair and good efffort. Besides, he, Julian Schnabel, "loves Israel." And so does Rula Jebreal, he said on NPR, she too "loves Israel." So they both are permanently immunized against the charge that they have created a clever propaganda film -- with Schnabel himself not quite aware of what he was doing.
I haven't seen the movie, I don't know what other lies and nonsense,are in it, except that the bits and pieces that I have been glimpsed through the commentary of others make clear that this iso ne more of those pretend-sympathies-on-both-sides affairs, supposedly created "so that finally both Israelis and Palestinians can make the peace" that "both long to have" -- the kind of thing that Jewish "peace activists" like to talk about, though the Arabs carefully keep rolling their eyes heavenward in permanent despair at their self-assigned role as victims. Schnabel appears not to have learned any history, before presuming to make pronouncements that are all about history. I don't think he knows the history of the Jews under Islam, or the history, demographic and cadastral, of the two Ottoman vilayets (and one Sanjak) that became modern-day Israel. I doubt if he has any idea when the local Arabs appropriated the word "Palestinian" to describe themselves, and why. I don't think he knows how well, and how often, the Arabs lie; I don't think he his familiar with the phenomenon of the "islamochristian." I don't think he knows the record of the IDF or of the Israeli police. I don't think he knows why the Arabs found it useful to construct (call it the "political construction of ethnic reality") a "Palestinian people" after the outcome in the Six-Day War made clear a new propaganda tack was necessary, the old "let's wipe the Jews of Israel out" just wouldn't cut the mustard. I don't think he understands clearly how the movie he made will be exploited, and what it will mean to those who know even less about Israel, and the Arabs inside and outside it who, in different ways, are working to delegitimize the state, than does Julian Schnabel.
Particularlly inclined to pretend to want to believe -- not knowing a word of the Qur'an, and never having even heard of the Hadith and Sira -- that this movie will contribute to the "solution" of the conflict between "the two tiny peoples, each struggling for their blah blah" is Harvey Weinstein, the movie man. Some in Hollywood and New York have reported that Harvey Weinstein is a crude, boorish, man, devoid of any knowledge outside of money-making-through-movies, indifferent to history or literature, a simplifier and an ignoramus, but endowed with a low cunning in promotiion of movies and of himself. This has made him powerful; many are afraid to cross him and not a few are willing, or eager, to curry favor with him.I don't know how much truth there is in this view of Harvey Weinstein. But from his comments on the movie, it can be concluded that he knows nothing about Islam, and about Arab propaganda.
But as a movie-man Harvey Weinstein cannot have forgotten "The Blue Angel" with Professor Emanuel Roth (Emil Jannings), the professor who loses his head over Lola Lola (Marlene Dietrich). Julian Schnabel merely provides a recent variant on the old theme.
The first public hint as to the backstory to "MIral" was, possibly, its mention at NER on September 10, 2010, when I posted this:
Friday, 3 September 2010
A Blue-Angel Interlude: Falling In Love Again (Marlene Dietrich)
Emmanuel Rath, an esteemed teacher in a local Gymnasium, falls heavily for Lola Lola, and in the end is ruined. In the original movie he is played by Emil Jannings and the fatale femme, the demi-mondaine meuf, by Marlene Dietrich..
Many remakes of that movie are made every day, all over the world. I can think of one or two right now.
In one such current remake, the part of Emmanuel Rath is played, and rather comically too, by the American painter Julian Schnabel. The role of Marlene Dietrich is played by a very goodlooking Arab girl, Rula Jebreal, a "Palestinian," who does a wonderful job in promoting anti-Israel views. I think she should be grateful to all those kidnapped and enslaved Circassian and Georgian beauties in her background who contributed more than their mite to her mixture. Schnabel, smitten and playing the Professor Rath role to the grim hilt, has recently been in Israel making what was to be more propaganda for the cause -- Jebreal apparently leads him around by the nose. Or some equivalent thereof. And he can do so much for her, as sugar daddy and movie maker. I wonder if he ever has second thoughts.
Lola Lola and Professor Rath can be found at the Venice Film Festival here.
Then there is Vittorio Sgarbi with Vittoria Risi at the same festival. But Sgarbi is not Lionello Venturi, and Vittoria Risi is not Moana Pozzi. I knew Moana Pozzi. Moana Pozzi was a friend of mine. And Vittoria Risi, you are no Moana Pozzi. And besides, Sgarbi of course is just clowning for the cameras, and in any case, whatever he's doing or not doing with her, there are no nauseating propagandistic consequences of which we need take note.
There will always be emanuel-roths and lola-lolas. But what infuriates are those emanuel-roths who to win and temporarily keep their lola-lolas, edo damage not to themselves but to many others. In the case of Schnabel's infatuation with Rula Jebreal, the movie "MIral" will, if its propaganda is not adequately dissected, harm the state of Israel and its people.
Don't just refuse to see this movie. Make sure that, for the next year or two, you are careful to avoid any movies that Harvey Weinstein puts out. There are many movies to see; his productions can wait, until, on DVD, you can netflix them. Why not punish him in the only way that means something to him?
As for Julian Schnabel, one wonders if he will ever come to learn enough about Islam, and about the history of the Jews under Muslim rule, and about the Jihad against Israel and the Arab and Muslim campaign to de-legimitze the state to which he has contributed, to regret what he has done.
You know, on second thought, I can get enough of Julian Schnabel's penis.
Wilders; The Failure of Multiculturalism and How to Turn the Tide
Geert Wilders, leader of Freedom
Party (PVV) in Holland
Geert Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party (PVV) in the Hague parliament gave a speech in Rome last night at the Magna Carta Foundation-an Italian conservative think tank. The topic was timely, "The Failure of Multiculturalism and How to Turn the Tide". The full text of his speech can be found on The Freedom Party (PVV) website.
Here are some excerpts that indicate the rising public approbation of the twin evils of Multiculturalism and islamization and what Wilders suggests to combat it.
On the dangers of multiculturalism:
I am here today to talk about multiculturalism. This term has a number of different meanings. I use the term to refer to a specific political ideology. It advocates that all cultures are equal. If they are equal it follows that the state is not allowed to promote any specific cultural values as central and dominant. In other words: multiculturalism holds that the state should not promote a leitkultur, which immigrants have to accept if they want to live in our midst.
It is this ideology of cultural relativism which the German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently referred to when she said that multiculturalism has proved “an absolute failure.”
My friends, I dare say that we have known this all along. Indeed, the premise of the multiculturalist ideology is wrong. Cultures are not equal. They are different, because their roots are different. That is why the multiculturalists try to destroy our roots.
Rome is a very appropriate place to address these issues. There is an old saying which people of our Western culture are all familiar with. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” it says. This is an obvious truth: If you move somewhere, you must adapt to the laws and customs of the land.
The multicultural society has undermined this rule of common sense and decency. The multicultural society tells the newcomers who settle in our cities and villages: You are free to behave contrary to our norms and values. Because your norms and values are just as good, perhaps even better, than ours.
It is, indeed, appropriate to discuss these matters here in Rome, because the history of Rome also serves as a warning.
Will Durant, the famous 20th century American historian, wrote that “A great civilization cannot be destroyed from outside if it has not already destroyed itself from within.” This is exactly what happened here, in Rome, 16 centuries ago.
On the Objective of the Islamization of Europe
Ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake: Our opponents are keenly aware of our weakness. They realize that the pattern which led to the fall of Rome, is at play today in the West. They are keenly aware of the importance of Rome as a symbol of the West. Over and over again they hint at the fall of Rome. Rome is constantly on their minds.
The former Turkish Prime Minister Erbakan said – I quote: “The whole of Europe will become Islamic. We will conquer Rome”
.Yunis al-Astal, a Hamas cleric and member of the Palestinian Parliament said – I quote: “Very soon Rome will be conquered.”
Ali Al-Faqir, the former Jordanian Minister of Religion, stated that – I quote: “Islam will conquer Rome.
”Sheikh Muhammad al-Arifi, imam of the mosque of the Saudi Defence Academy, said – I quote: “We will control Rome and introduce Islam in it.”
Our opponents are hoping for an event that is akin to the freezing of the Rhine in 406, when thousands of immigrants will be given an easy opportunity to cross massively into the West.
In a 1974 speech to the UN, the Algerian President Houari Boumédienne, said – I quote: “One day, millions of men will leave the Southern Hemisphere to go to the Northern Hemisphere. And they will not go there as friends. Because they will go there to conquer it. And they will conquer it with their sons. The wombs of our women will give us victory.” End of quote.
Libyan dictator Kadhafi said, I quote: “There are tens of millions of Muslims in the European continent today and their number is on the increase. This is the clear indication that the European continent will be converted into Islam. Europe will one day soon be a Muslim continent.” End of quote.
Our opponents are aiming for a repetition of the fall of Rome in the 5th century and want to use exactly the same methods. “The strategy of exporting human beings and having them breed in abundance is the simplest way to take possession of a territory,” warned the famous Italian author Oriana Fallaci.
[. . .]
Contrary to the Barbarians which confronted Rome, the followers of Muhammad are driven by an ideology which they want to impose on us.
Islam is a totalitarian ideology. Islamic Shariah law supervises every detail of life. Islam is not compatible with our Western way of life. Islam is a threat to our values. Respect for people who think otherwise, the equality of men and women, the equality of homosexuals and heterosexuals, respect for Christians, Jews, unbelievers and apostates, the separation of church and state, freedom of speech, they are all under pressure because of islamization.
Europe is islamizing at a rapid pace. Many European cities have large islamic concentrations. In some neighbourhoods, Islamic regulations are already being enforced. Women’s rights are being trampled. We are confronted with headscarves and burqa’s, polygamy, female genital mutilation, honour-killings. “In each one of our cities” says Oriana Fallaci, “there is a second city, a state within the state, a government within the government. A Muslim city, a city ruled by the Koran.” – End of quote.
Ladies and gentlemen, make no mistake: The multiculturalist Left is facilitating islamization. Leftist multiculturalists are cheering for every new shariah bank, for every new islamic school, for every new mosque. Multiculturalists consider Islam as being equal to our own culture. Shariah law or democracy? Islam or freedom? It doesn’t really matter to them. But it does matter to us. The entire leftist elite is guilty of practising cultural relativism. Universities, churches, trade unions, the media, politicians. They are all betraying our hard-won liberties.
Ladies and gentlemen, what is happening in Europe today has to some extent been deliberately planned
In October 2009, Andrew Neather, the former advisor of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, confirmed that the British Government had deliberately organized mass immigration as part of a social engineering project. The Blair Government wanted to – I quote – “make the UK truly multicultural.” To achieve this end, 2.3 million foreigners were allowed to enter Britain between 2000 and 2009. Neather says this policy has “enriched” Britain.
Ordinary people, however, do not consider the decline of societal cohesion, the rise of crime, the transformation of their old neighborhoods into no-go zones, to be an “enrichment.”
Ordinary people are well aware that they are witnessing a population replacement phenomenon. Ordinary people feel attached to the civilization which their ancestors created. They do not want it to be replaced by a multicultural society where the values of the immigrants are considered as good as their own. It is not xenophobia or islamophobia to consider our Western culture as superior to other cultures – it is plain common sense.
On EU reaction to the failure of multicultralism and Islamization
Fortunately, we are still living in a democracy. The opinion of ordinary people still matters. I am the leader of the Dutch Party of Freedom which aims to halt the Islamization process and defend the traditional values and liberties in the Netherlands. The Party of Freedom is the fastest growing party in the Netherlands.
Because the message of my party is so important, I support initiatives to establish similar parties in other countries, such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom, where they do not yet exist. Last month, a poll in Britain showed that a staggering 48 percent of the British would consider supporting a non-fascist and non-violent party that vows to crack down on immigration and Islamic extremists and restrict the building of mosques. In October last year, I was in Berlin where I gave a keynote speech at a meeting of Die Freiheit, a newly established party led by René Stadtkewitz, a former Christian-Democrat. German polls indicate that such a party has a potential of 20 percent of the electorate.
My speech, in which I urged the Germans to stop feeling ashamed about their German identity drew a lot of media attention. Two weeks later, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that multiculturalism is “an absolute failure.” Horst Seehofer, the leader of the Bavarian Christian-Democrats, was even more outspoken. “Multiculturalism is dead,” he said.
Last month, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said: “We have been too concerned about the identity of the immigrant and not enough about the identity of the country that was receiving him.” – End of quote.
Five weeks ago, British Prime Minister David Cameron blamed multiculturalism for Islamic extremism. “We have allowed the weakening of our collective identity,” he said. “Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism, we have encouraged different cultures to live […] apart from the mainstream.” – End of quote.
In his speech, David Cameron still makes a distinction between the Islamist ideology, which he calls extremist and dangerous, and Islam, which he says is peaceful religion. I do not share this view, and neither did Cameron’s great predecessor Winston Churchill. Stating that Islam is peaceful is a multiculturalist dogma which is contrary to the truth.
Politicians such as Merkel. Sarkozy and Cameron still do not seem to have understood what the problem really is. Nevertheless, the fact that they feel compelled to distance themselves from multiculturalism is a clear indication that they realize they need to pay lip-service to what the majority of their populations have long understood. Namely that the massive influx of immigrants from Islamic countries is the most negative development that Europe has known in the past 50 years.
Yesterday, a prestigious poll in the Netherlands revealed that 50 percent of the Dutch are of the opinion that Islam and democracy are not compatible, while 42 percent think they are. Even two thirds of the voters of the Liberal Party and of the Christian-Democrat Party are convinced that Islam and democracy are not compatible.
This, then, is the political legacy of multiculturalism. While the parties of the Left have found themselves a new electorate, the establishment parties of the Right still harbour their belief that Islam is a religion of peace on a par with peaceful religions such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism and others.
The problem with multiculturalism is a refusal to see reality. The reality that our civilization is superior, and the reality that Islam is a dangerous ideology.
How to Turn the Tide of Islamization
One thing which we should do is to oppose the introduction of Sharia or Islamic law in our countries. In about a dozen states in the United States, legislation is currently being introduced to prevent the introduction of Sharia. In early May, I will be travelling to the U.S. to express my support to these initiatives. We should consider similar measures in Europe.
Another thing which we should do is support Muslims who want to leave Islam. An International Women’s Day is useless in the Arab world if there is no International Leave Islam Day. I propose the introduction of such a day in which we can honor the courageous men and women who want to leave Islam. Perhaps we can pick a symbolic date for such a day and establish an annual prize for an individual who has turned his back on Islam or an organization which helps people to liberate themselves from Islam. It is very easy to become a Muslim. All one has to do is to pronounce the Shahada, the Islamic creed, which says – I quote “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” It should be equally easy to leave Islam by pronouncing a counter-Shahada, which says “I leave Islam and join humankind.”
A third measure to turn the tide of Islamization is to reemphasize the sovereignty of the nation-state. The peoples of the free world will only be able to fight back against Islam if they can rally around a flag with which they can identify. This flag, symbolizing pre-political loyalty, can only be the flag of our nation. In the West, our freedoms are embodied in our nation-states. This is why the multiculturalists are hostile to the nation-state and aim to destroy it.
National identity is an inclusive identity: It welcomes everyone, whatever his religion or race, who is willing to assimilate into a nation by sharing the fate and future of a people. It ties the individual to an inheritance, a tradition, a loyalty, and a culture.
Immigration and the deracination of the EU
The new government in my country, which is supported by my party, wants to restrict immigration. That is what our voters want. But we are confronted by the fact that our policies have to a large extent been outsourced to “Europe” and that our voters no longer have a direct say over their own future.
On account of international treaties, EU legislation prevails over national legislation and cannot be reversed by national parliaments. Indeed, in 2008, the European Court of Justice, the highest court in the EU, annulled both Irish and Danish immigration legislation. The Court stated that national law is subordinate to whatever is ruled on the European level. In March 2010, the European Court of Justice annulled Dutch legislation restricting family reunification for immigrants on welfare.
The ease with which Europe’s political elite conducts an immigration policy aimed at the deracination of Europe shows the insensitivity of this elite. It willingly sacrifices its own people to its political goal, without any consideration for the people involved.
Lower class blue-collar people have been driven from their neighborhoods. There is no respect for their democratic vote. On the contrary, people who do not agree with the multiculturalist schemes are considered to be racists and xenophobes, while the undefined offence of “racism and xenophobia” has been made central to all moral pronouncements by the European Union, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, and other supra-national organizations. This represents a systematic assault by the elite on the ordinary feelings of national loyalty.
In 2008, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe stated that the member-states must – I quote – “condemn and combat Islamophobia” and ensure “that school textbooks do not portray Islam as a hostile or threatening religion.” – end of quote.
In March 2010, the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution criminalizing so-called “defamation of religions.” The resolution, authored by Pakistan, mentions only one religion by name: Islam. With its 57 member states the Organization of the Islamic Conference systematically uses its voting power in the UN to subvert the concept of freedom and human rights. In 1990, the OIC rejected the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and replaced it by the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, which states in articles 24 that – I quote – “All the rights and freedoms stipulated in this Declaration are subject to the Islamic Sharia.” – end of quote.
This “human rights” charade has to stop if Western civilization wants to survive. Human rights exist for the protection of individuals, not religions and ideologies.
The EU’s aim, meanwhile, seems to be to destroy the old sovereign nations and replace them by new provincial identities, which are all clones of each other. Britanistan will not differ from Netherlandistan, nor Germanistan from Italiastan, or any other province of the European superstate in the making.
We must reclaim Europe. We can only do so by giving political power back to the nation-state. By defending the nation-states which we love, we defend our own identity. By defending our identity, we defend who we are and what we are against those who want to deracinate us. Against those who want to cut us from our roots, so that our culture withers away and dies.
On Reclaiming National Sovreignty from Multiculturalism and islamization
Ladies and gentlemen, it is time for change. We must make haste. Time is running out. Ronald Reagan said: “We need to act today, to preserve tomorrow”. That is why I propose the following measures in order to preserve our freedom:
First, we will have to defend freedom of speech. It is the most important of our liberties. If we are free to speak, we will be able to tell people the truth and they will realize what is at stake.
Second, we will have to end cultural relativism. To the multiculturalists, we must proudly proclaim: Our Western culture is far superior to the Islamic culture. Only when we are convinced of that, we will be willing to fight for our own identity.
Third, we will have to stop Islamization. Because more Islam means less freedom. We must stop immigration from Islamic countries, we must expel criminal immigrants, we must forbid the construction of new mosques. There is enough Islam in Europe already. Immigrants must assimilate and adapt to our values: When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Fourth, we must restore the supremacy and sovereignty of the nation-state. Because we are citizens of these states, we can take pride in them. We love our nation because they are our home, because they are the legacy which our fathers bestowed on us and which we want to bestow on our children. We are not multiculturalists, we are patriots. And because we are patriots, we are willing to fight for freedom.
Let me end with a final – and a positive – remark: Though the situation is bad and multiculturalism is still predominant, we are in better shape than the Roman Empire was before its fall.
The Roman Empire was not a democracy. The Romans did not have freedom of speech. We are the free men of the West. We do not fight for an Empire, we fight for ourselves. We fight for our national republics. You fight for Italy, I fight for the Netherlands, others fight for France, Germany, Britain, Denmark or Spain. Together we stand. Together we represent the nations of Europe.
I am confident that if we can safeguard freedom of speech and democracy, our civilization will be able to survive. Europe will not fall. We, Europe’s patriots, will not allow it.
The Al-Khalifas have ruled Bahrain for nearly two centuries, much of the time as a British protectorate, and for the last forty or so years as an emirate and most recently as a kingdom. With centuries of Persian rule up to about the mid 18th century, the majority of Bahrainis profess the Shia sect of Islam. Unlike other rulers in the Persian Gulf, the Al-Khalifas have had to contend with four major handicaps: (i) Bahrain has no oil or natural gas wealth to speak of, (ii) it is literally a stone’s throw away from the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, where most of Saudi Arabia’s 15 percent or so Shia population live, (iii) the Al-Sauds, who financially support the Al-Khalifas, viscerally hate the Shia and have subjugated and deprived them for decades, and (iv) the Sunnis are, at most, 30 percent of Bahrain’s population. The Al-Khalifas find themselves between a rock and hard place. Understandably, the Shia majority wants freedom and a voice in the administration of their tiny island country, especially in the aftermath of Shia rising to power in Iraq and the broader “Arab Spring.” The Al-Sauds want the Shia subjugated and treated as third-class citizens–just like they are in Saudi Arabia. How have the Al-Khalifas responded?
The Al-Khalifas have thrown their lot in with the Al-Sauds by mistreating their Shia majority. [they have no choice: the Shi'a are more than twice as numerous as the Sunnnis in Bahrain, and would get rid of the Al-Khalifa if they could]The Shia communities have less of everything the Sunni minority enjoys: modern infrastructure, healthcare, education, jobs, wealth, and a whole host of other privileges. To buttress their rule, the Al-Khalifas have put together a harsh security force largely made up of foreign mercenaries: Pakistanis, Jordanians and Yemenis. They have actively recruited and granted citizenship to Sunnis to increase their numbers. And most recently they have “invited” Saudi forces (accompanied by a few from the UAE to afford the Saudis GCC cover) to help them put down the protests, called on Kuwait to help patrol their waters, arrested the leaders of the Shia opposition for no valid reason, killed peaceful protesters and declared a three-month state of emergency, banning any and all peaceful demonstrations. This is not a pretty picture of Al-Khalifa rule in Bahrain—selling the country to the Al-Sauds and starting a process that could surely be classified as ethnic cleansing. Is this something the United States can afford to embrace? No.
America and Western Europe have denounced the use of excessive force to obstruct demonstrators on many occasions, and condemned the killing of peaceful protestors and the use of mercenaries. They have supported the legitimate rights of people to choose their government.[yes and this sentimental attachment to "democracy" is out of place in the Muslim countries, where each situation must be carefully judged, according to only one criterion: what outcome is most likely to weaken the Camp of Islam?] How can the United States and Europeans freeze the assets of the Gaddafi clan, condemn the use of overwhelming force and mercenaries, and say virtually nothing about Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s role therein? [this is inaccurate -- the Americans have repeatedly urged "restraint" on King Hamad -- Robert Gates did it in person the day before the 1000 Saudi troops arrived in Bahrain. It is also silly -- logical consistency of this kind makes no sense. Might as well ask, in 1942, "How can the Americans and British ally themselves with a brutal dictator, and his brutal system, in the Soviet Union, if they claim to be morally opposed to the brutal dictator Adolf Hitler, and his brutal system"?]How can they use military intervention to protect those in peril in Libya and do nothing in Bahrain except to advise ‘restraint’ to all parties? [it's easy] This sort of blatant duplicity will not go answered in this day and age of the Internet, social media and mobile communication devices. Sadly, US policy toward the Middle East and North Africa has been to adopt what is expedient at the time and not consider the future implications for US national security and economic interests. America must not let its ongoing involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, its historic marriage to Middle East dictators or its need for a naval base in the Persian Gulf deter it from looking at all the facts shaping its longer-term national security interests in the Middle East.
Iran’s population is more than the population of the rest of the Persian Gulf combined, while the combined population of Iran and Iraq, both majority Shia countries, is about four times that of the six countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council. Iran and Iraq are respectively 90 and 60 percent Shia, while Bahrain is about 70 percent Shia. Iraqi Shia know what it is like to be discriminated against after decades under Saddam Hussein. In fact Iraqis already protested in Basra last week in support of their brethren in Bahrain. One thing is for sure. Iran, Iraq and their surrogates, such as Hezbollah, will not stand idly by and let this persecution against Shia gather momentum. They will intervene with ominous implications not only for Bahrain, but also for the rest of the GCC and for the future of the United States in the Persian Gulf.
If the United States wants to protect its dictators in the region, it should use tough love to persuade these dictators to change while they have time.[the United States does not have any such powers of persuasion over Saudi Arabia which is not, and never has been, an ally of this country. When its interests overlap, or seem to, with those of the United States, as in the support of the muhajedin fighting the Russians in Afghanistan, it will seem to be doing "what America wants" but more likely, as in the Afghan case, it will have been America that has done, unwittingly, "what Saudi Arabia wants"]
King Abdullah has reportedly taken the position that he will never allow Shia to have a say in shaping their destiny in Bahrain. Such a position is a morally reprehensible. How dare he interfere in the internal affairs of another country?[very easily] How dare he quash the justifiable demands of a people? [oh for god's sake, Mr. Askari -- you weren't born yesterday]Surprisingly, at the meeting in Paris on March 19, the Saudi foreign minister was invited to have a seat at the table with legitimate governments because “the US wanted Arab support” for its intervention in Libya. This was the man who had said he would cut off any finger raised in protest! By courting Saudis, we are sending the message that their behavior is acceptable. It is not. By supporting the Al-Sauds we are sending the same message to the people of the Muslim World, especially to all Shia. And at the same time, we are doing nothing to stop the killing of innocent people by a dictator in Bahrain.
Are the Al-Sauds an ally Washington can afford? [I repeat: Saudi Arabia is not an ally of the United States even if many in America keep calling it that -- see J. B. Kelly, "Of Valuable Oil and Worthless Policies"]In the Middle East, it is said that you really know a person by the company he keeps. Is this how the United States wants to be known in the region, as the ally of the Al-Sauds and the Al-Khalifas? If so, then our future in the Persian Gulf is indeed a dark one.
If we [what do you mean "we"? Hossein Askari thinks that his apparent acquisition of American citizenship entitles him to use the word "we" in pushing his transparent special pleading on behalf of the Shi'a, but I don't think we are all quite so willing to consider the acquisition of such citizenship the same thing as being an American, which could be defined as supporting the legal and political institutions of this country, which flatly contradict those of Islam in every conceivable way. If Mr. Askari is more than just a Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only Muslim, but takes Islam to heart, it is not possible for him to offer genuine loyalty to the political and legal institutions of this Infidel land, and especially not to the Bill of Rights]]continue to support despots in the Middle East we are handing Iran and Iraq unbelievable propaganda material. It is they who will have the moral high ground. We are giving them carte blanche to interfere in Bahrain, and eventually in Saudi Arabia, as the only means to prevent killings and ultimately ethnic cleansing. We are putting them on the right side of history. [see here]. We must stop looking at each event in isolation. These are the conflicts that, if not addressed today, will beget the massive wars of the future.[one hopes that there is a "massive war" between Shi'a and Sunni -- what was better, for the West, than the Iran-Iraq War? It should have gone on forever].
One final remark: Of course, if the Islamic Republic of Iran should fall, and a true secular class, utterly sick of Islam -- and coming to treat it as the poisoned chalice, the "gift of the Arabs," that it has been, and in Iranian history a dangerous vehicle for cultural and linguistic arabization that was halted only by the efforts of Persian poets and thinkers -- then American policy should turn on a dime (as it should have just after World War II, so as to prevent -- as did not happen -- the seizure, by Joseph Stalin, using the Red Army, of all of Eastern Europe) and forthrightly the United States should gladly take the side of the Iranians against all the Sunni Arabs.Civilisationally, no doubt partly because Iranian ethnic identity plays against the Muslim identity, while the Arab ethnic identity, 'Uruba, reinforces it, Iranians in general are higher on the civilisational scale than Arabs. They at least have a chance to diminish the role of Islam -- to do as Ataturk did, even without an Ataturk, so as to create a secular class, a class that one hopes will continue to increase in size so that there is not (as now in Turkey) any going backwards.
There is no contradiction here and no hypocrisy. An Iran where Islam has been put back in its box -- not in spite of, but because of the hideous experience of the last 30 years -- is an iran that could, unlike any of the Sunni Arab states, become a real ally of the Americans. It is too bad the Shah was too corrupt and too vainglorious,which caused many intelligent people in Iran to think that they had to make common cause -- and would "come out on top" so they confidently thought -- with the likes of Khomeini, to be an effective Farsi-speaking Ataturk. Perhaps his years of schooling at Le Rosey, and his francophilic taste for the West, made him just too ungrounded in Iranian reality -- certainly, his big schemes to turn Iran into what he predicted would soon be "the second industrial power in Asia after Japan" showed just how unhinged oil wealth had made him, just as it unhinged the rural and very devout poor in Iran. And when the time came to be ruthless, the Shah just couldn't do it, couldn't allow more than a handful of casualties, preferred to flee rather than put down the kind of people who would lock the doors to the Rex Cinema with nearly 500 people inside, and then set fire to it, and who, when they came to power, were gleeful about Judge Khalkhali, and delighted to see such people as Abbas Hoveyda and tens of thousands of others murdered, and then such noble souls as Shahpour Bakhtiar murdered, in their European exile, by Iranian agents.
Even though Bashar al-Assad is allied with the Shi'a regime in Iran, and delivers weapons to Hezbollah, no one is indignant about his shooting down of protesters because, you see, Syria is a front-line state in a state of war with Israel, and thus the Arab League will never denounce it.
And as Martin Kramer points out, Syria is, in the view of the Arabs, that sacred thing, "occupied"":
"Al-Ahram notes that the Arab League hasn't denounced the Syrian regime's violence against protesters. Why? "Syria is different from any other Arab country," says an Arab League official, because—wait for it—Syria is "a country under Israeli occupation." That's right, the Golan Heights—0.65% of Syria's land mass—is in Israel's usurping hands. So fire away at those protesters! Asad has a license."
In Yemen Ali Mohsen A "Crafty Survivor" Who Is "Charming And Gregarious" And "Favored By Islamists" And "Feared"
Yemen general is feared player: WikiLeaks
March 26, 2011
DUBAI (Reuters) - The top Yemeni general backing pro-democracy protesters is, like Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a crafty survivor who has wielded power for his own benefit, according to U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks.
General Ali Mohsen, a powerful figure close to Saleh, threw his support behind the democracy movement earlier this week and sent in troops to protect protesters in the capital of Sanaa, where they have gathered in the tens of thousands to pressure Saleh into giving up his grip on power after 32 years.
Yet as far back as 2005, Thomas Krajeski, then the U.S. ambassador in Sanaa, painted a picture in diplomatic cables of a brutal military commander likely to back a more radical Islamic political agenda and draw little public support.
"Ali Mohsen's name is mentioned in hushed tones among most Yemenis, and he rarely appears in public," Krajeski wrote in a cable obtained by Reuters. "Ali Mohsen... is generally perceived to be the second most powerful man in Yemen. Those that know him say he is charming and gregarious."
Noting Mohsen's role in ruling Yemen with an "iron fist," the cable said he controls at least half of Yemen's military. Despite its detail and strong opinions, other parts of the cable contained key inaccuracies, such as Mohsen's estimated age as well as the region he commands.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have long relied on Saleh to try and stop al Qaeda from using Yemen as a base to plot attacks on both countries. The impoverished Arabian Peninsula country is deeply divided, and was already on the brink of becoming a failed state before protests erupted in January, inspired by uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
After Mohsen's defection on March 21, Saleh reacted by warning against a "coup" that would lead to civil war and beefed up his personal security for fear of an assassination attempt.
Days later, Mohsen told Reuters that he had no desire to take power or hold office, and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life in "tranquility, peace and relaxation far from the problems of politics and the demands of the job."
The diplomatic cable also indicates that Mohsen would be viewed by the public as an unpalatable successor to Saleh.
"Ali Mohsen would likely face domestic as well as international opposition if he sought the presidency... Yemenis generally view him as cynical and self-interested."
One reason, according to the U.S. ambassador at the time, was because of his side business in smuggling.
"A major beneficiary of diesel smuggling in recent years, he also appears to have amassed a fortune in the smuggling of arms, food staples, and consumer products," his cable said.
Although the opposition welcomed Mohsen's support earlier this week, they are also wary of his loyalties, which fall along the country's tribal and ideological fault lines.
Northern Shi'ite rebels see Mohsen as a ruthless military leader who led the military campaign against them in a bloody civil war. Leftists and southerners worry that their goals for democracy will be overtaken in a military power struggle, while the Islamist opposition is thought to view Mohsen more favorably.
More than likely, Krajeski wrote in the cable, Mohsen would try and orchestrate a transition where he could anoint Saleh's successor: "If he holds true to form, Mohsen would likely prefer to play kingmaker, choosing another loyal military officer to hold the presidency."
UN reports more alleged violations of sanctions against Iran over nuclear issue
Ambassador Néstor Osorio of Colombia
22 March 2011 – Voicing “serious concern,” the chair of the United Nations committee monitoring the arms embargo imposed on Iran over its nuclear programme today reported two additional alleged violations involving material related to fuel enrichment or weapons delivery systems.
“While the increase in the number of reported sanctions violations is a matter of serious concern, Member States’ continuing readiness to report these violations is positive and should be encouraged,” Ambassador Néstor Osorio of Colombia told the Security Council in the latest regular 90-day report on the committee’s activities.
“Reports of sanctions violations by Member States represent an important source of information regarding patterns of procurement and means of circumventing sanctions,” he said, adding that the committee and its panel of experts are examining the cases.
The current alleged violations involve paragraph three of Council Resolution 1737 of 2006, which calls on all States to prevent the supply directly or indirectly from their territories or by their flag vessels or aircraft of all items that could contribute to Iran’s enrichment-related, reprocessing or heavy water-related activities, or to the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems.
Iran’s nuclear programme – which it says is for energy production but which other countries maintain is for making nuclear weapons – has been a matter of international concern since the discovery in 2003 that it had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Resolution 1737 was imposed in December 2006, and strengthened by resolution 1747 the following year which imposed a ban on arms sales to or from Iran, and expanded an existing freeze on assets.
Last December the then committee chair, Ambassador Tsuneo Nishida of Japan, reported two violations of resolution 1747. In the first case, a Member State reported seizing 13 shipping containers of illegal arms reportedly originating from Iran. In the second, another Member State informed the committee that authorities at one of its harbours had seized a container, originating from Iran and destined for Syria, holding the high-potential explosive “T4” or “RDX.”
Today Mr. Osorio said a committee panel of experts had investigated one of these cases and independently confirmed it “with the exemplary cooperation of the reporting State.”
The Council imposed a third round of sanctions in resolution 1803 in 2008, including the inspection of cargo suspected of carrying prohibited goods, tighter monitoring of financial institutions and the extension of travel bans and asset freezes.
Last June, it imposed a fourth round through resolution 1929, in which it also ruled that Iran shall not acquire an interest in any commercial activity in another State involving uranium mining, production or use of nuclear materials and technology.
Ray McCann was born in New York, but moved to San Francisco in 1969. He loved the city and served as one of its ambassadors when he went to work as a cable car gripman in 1979. During the Great Reconstruction in 1982-1984, he wrote Muni's first manual on operating cable cars.
On 12-Aug-1984, McCann and his conductor, Charles Gertsbacher, were taking a full load of passengers up the Hyde Street hill when a suicidal driver drove down the wrong side of the street at high speed and hit the cable car head-on. McCann was knocked off his feet and the car rolled backwards down the hill. Gertsbacher fought through the crowd of passengers and found McCann dazed and bleeding on the floor. Together, they pulled the emergency brake and stopped the car. The [car's] driver died, but many others would have, too, had it not been for the heroic action of the gripman and conductor. They both received medals from the US Department of Transportation.
Mrs Kathleen McCann reports that "...with stitches in his head and still bandaged he went to the barn the day after the accident and gripped one of the cars for a short period of time because he felt that if he didn't face it right away that fear would somehow mar the deep affection he had for working on the Cable Cars".
McCann's many charities included a yearly luncheon for senior citizens at Old Saint Mary's Church.
Ray McCann died on 29-May-1997 of melanoma; he was only 47.
Muni officials called the cable car brakeman a hero and said his actions averted a disaster. The San Francisco coroner said the driver was an unemployed Iranian alien living in San Francisco. He was not identified. The impact of the 4:40 p.m. crash, which took place between Francisco and Bay streets, demolished the auto, a 1974 Chevrolet Camaro, and knocked the cable car out of control down the steep hill. Passengers shrieked in terror and several fell to the pavement as the cable car rolled backward, sideswiping a van and two cars before stopping at Hyde and North Point.
Conductor Charles Gerstbacher said he never saw the car coming. The impact knocked down brakeman Ray McCann. "We were out of control." said Gerstbacher. "Ray was bleeding from the back of the head and trying to stop the car. I went forward and tried to help him apply the emergency brake."
Without McCann's quick action the cable car could have broken loose and careened down the hill into the crowd of tourists waiting at the turnaround.
I could find no further information on the identity of the Iranian who carried out the attack. Other accounts described how the driver waited at the top of the hill for the cable car to start up the hill, then he charged down at full speed. To me, that's not suicide, that's intentional attempted mass murder. This attack occurred only 6 months after the October, 1983 Marine barracks bombings in Beirut that killed 299 soldiers, and which was carried out by Iran; and yet there seems to be no mention of the possibility that the driver had political/religious motivations. Ah, those were days of innocence and sweet naïveté.
UPDATE: Finding myself with an abundance of free time, I have decided to expand on this topic a bit.
Ray McCann and Charles Gertsbacher were no more knowledgeable about the tenets of Islam than was, say, Todd Beamer of Flight 93, who uttererd those words which were heard as "Let's roll". McCann, Gertsbacher, and Beamer knew little to nothing about the motivation for the violence being wrought upon them. They only knew that they were under attack, and they fought to save their own lives, and the lives of those around them.
So, if an Iranian man decides to commit suicide in San Francisco, is that jihad?
No, it is not. Nor is it jihad if a Muslim man gets into a traffic accident. But if an Iranian man decides to aim his muscle car at full speed at a crowded cable car, with the obvious intention of killing and maiming as many people as possible, I think that "jihad" becomes a better interpretation of the event than "suicide". This would be the earliest incident that I have heard of jihadis using wheeled vehicles as weapons. It would not be the last.
Previously, the earliest incident I recall was the March 2006 attack at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill by Mohammed Reza Taheri-Azar, in which he drove his SUV through the campus trying to run down passersby. He hit and wounded 9. Luckily no-one was killed, and since Taheri-Azar survived, he was able to explain his jihadist motivation in great detail.
Months later in August 2006, Omeed Aziz Popal drove his SUV through Fremont and San Francisco, California, killing 1 man and wounding 19. Popal backed up and made multiple attempts to run over his victims. After his vehicle was disabled, two witnesses quoted him as saying, "I'm a terrorist, I don't care." This detail was included in local reports, but was never mentioned by the national media.
In July 2008, Hussam Taysir Duwait drove a bulldozer down Jaffa Road in Jerusalem, crushing cars and killing 3 people. Duwait was heard to be yelling "Allahu Akbar!" inside the cabin as he drove. An Israeli soldier climbed on the bulldozer and shot Duwait, killing him and ending the assault.
Later that month, Ghassan Abu Tir drove a backhoe bulldozer down a Jerusalem street, crashing into cars, wounding 24, before being shot dead by an Israeli policeman.
In September 2008, Qassem Mughrabi, a member of Hamas, drove his BMW at top speed through a crowd of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem. Again, luckily no-one was killed, and the soldiers opened fire on Mughrabi, killing him.
In March 2009, Marei Radaydeh drove a bulldozer in Jerusalem at a police car and a bus. He was shot and killed by the policemen. His was the only fatality. Police found a Qur'an in the cab of the bulldozer.
In all these cases, the motivation of the attackers is disputed by Muslim spokespersons, no matter how clear the evidence.
There is no mention of whether the unnamed Iranian man in the 1984 attack was yelling, "Allahu Akbar!" as he roared down the hill. In 1984, it is doubtful that any of the pedestrians would have recognized the phrase if they heard it. There is no mention of whether a Qur'an was found in the car. In 1984, it is doubtful that an investigator would have thought anything of it. There is no mention of whether the Iranian had shaved off his hair in anticipation of meeting his virgins, or whether stacks of jihadi documents were found at his dwelling. Again, no-one would have thought it relevant at the time.
People commit suicide in San Francisco all the time of course. The Golden Gate Bridge is (in)famous for it. But people do not purposely aim their vehicle at crowded cable cars. I don't know of a single case of a non-Muslim trying anything similar. For suicide, a bridge abutment or wall would suffice. This man was trying to kill. He was trying to kill as many as possible.
If this incident had happened today, the possibility of jihad would have been discussed, if only in the sense that it would be immediatetly and instinctively denied by the police, and by members of the government, and by the media, before any investigation took place. Back in 1984, no such denials were necessary.
Which is not to say that there were no jihad attacks at that time. Besides the Marine barracks, there was the Beirut Embassy bombings in 1983, also carried out by Iran. In 1985, Hizb'Allah hijacked TWA Flight 847 with the assistance of the Iranian government. We were looking for large, state-sponsored attacks. The small, individual, self-directed attacks that have become so popular today would not have been recognized as anything other than "mental illness". We viewed the terrorist attacks back then as being motivated by "nationalism", not by Islam.
An Illustrated History of Central Oregon, Western Historical Publishing Company,
Spokane, WA. 1905, page 422.
CHARLES E. SANDOZ dwells on Mill creek, five miles out from The Dalles, where he
owns ninety acres of choice land and does general gardening and fruit raising.
He was born in Switzerland, on September 14, 1851, the son of Frederick L. and
Julia (Fry) Sandoz, both natives of Switzerland, where they remained until their
death. The father was a shoemaker in early life and later followed gardening. In
his native country, our subject received a good education, learned well the art
of horticulture and in 1870, came to the United States, making settlement in
Kansas. For four and one-half years he operated on rented land there and then
came to California, making his headquarters in Los Angeles. For four years he
did landscape gardening in the city and vicinity and in 1879 came on to The
Dalles in company with his brother. They purchased adjoining ranches which were
a part of the old Caldwell donation claim and since that time our subject has
given his entire attention to the industries mentioned. He is a prosperous man,
well skilled in gardening and a good substantial citizen.
On November 30, 1885, Mr. Sandoz married Miss Laura Heroux, who was born in
Chicago, Illinois, on January 16, 1870. Her parents were Daniel and Martha
(Bailergeon) Heroux, natives of Three Rivers, Canada. They were French people
and had dwelt in that country for many generations. Both are now deceased. Mrs.
Sandoz has the following named brothers and sisters: Joseph, Arthur, Charles,
Alfred, Alma, Annie, Isabelle and Florence. To our subject and his wife two
children have been born, Julius, aged eighteen and Emily, aged fifteen. Mr.
Sandoz is a member of the Foresters, and in politics he is an active Republican.
He has been school director for several terms and takes a lively interest in all
affairs of a public nature. Mrs. Sandoz belongs to the Roman Catholic church.
Mr. Sandoz is a very skillful and talented landscape gardener. He has done some
very handsome pieces of work, especially in southern California and is
considered one of the best in this part of the country.
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Witnesses say suspected al-Qaida militants have seized control of a small town in southern Yemen where police had withdrawn.
The takeover signals Yemen's offshoot of Osama bin Laden's group and other militants are seeking to make gains on the country's deepening political turmoil, as protesters challenge the president's rule.
The town of Jaar sits between an expanse of mountains where al-Qaida is active and the important port city of Aden, 20 miles (35 kilometers) to the southwest.
Resident Walid Mohammed said militants set up checkpoints Saturday and were seizing control of government buildings that had been left vacant.
During the six weeks of anti-government protests, security forces have either withdrawn or been forced out by residents of some cities and towns.
Israeli Government Stupidity Meets Hamasâ€™s Criminal Cupidity
The ‘Loony Left’ is just as much of a problem in Israel as it is in most other free and democratic countries and it is just as confused, cozening and callow, there, as anywhere else. In Israel it has led to a weird state of affairs fully supported by the left-wing that means that the Government is knowingly funding terrorism against its own people and seemingly doesn’t know how to stop doing so or how to correct the abuse of its generosity by the Arabs in the Gaza Strip.
“...the government of Israel ... [will] ... transfer $13 million in cash ... into the Gaza Strip this week.”
The money is ostensibly to pay the maintenance to approximately thirty thousand Fatah members and some thousands of Hamas members in the Strip who, so it is claimed, are on the Palestinian Authority’s payroll.
“... some cash is deposited into the Postal Bank to pay salaries to military and security officials, including to the PA police. Cash is also deposited into the Islamic Bank in Gaza and to the Arab Bank ...”
In practice, however, the cash is rapidly diverted by criminal means to nefarious purposes:
“But the cash has a very short shelf life as Hamas is constantly raiding the banks, forcing some banks to close up business.
“The Palestine Islamic Bank in Gaza City suspended operations after Hamas raided the financial institution and grabbed $16,000,” Middle East Newsline reported on June 28, 2010. “The money [from Israel] was said to have been deposited in the account of the Educational Teaching Society, frozen by the bank several days earlier. This marked the third Hamas raid of Palestinian banks in the Gaza Strip during 2010. Several months earlier, the Bank of Palestine was attacked by Hamas troops, who made off with $280,000 from a deposit held by a Hamas-dominated charity.”
Sources said that the cash is quickly dissipated as it is used to pay the tunnel smugglers from Egypt into Gaza for weapons ...”
"In May , Palestinian gunmen entered the Arab Bank and demanded $400,000 in tax proceeds destined for the Palestinian Authority, expelled by Hamas in 2007. The Arab Bank, with 500 branches in 30 countries, was identified as one of the last financial institutions that operated under international standards. The Arab Bank, the second largest financial institution in the Gaza Strip, has already dismissed hundreds of employees and closed two branches. Executives said the Hamas raids have jeopardized the banking system."
Of course, there are good people in Israel who see the stupidity of paying their enemies to continue attacking them. The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel is one of the organisations fighting this silliness:
“Nachi Eyal, Director General of The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel said that the Supreme Court has already rejected two petitions filed against the cash transfers. Eyal said the public cannot rely on the courts at this juncture.
“What we need now is public pressure,” Eyal said. “About a year ago, we tried to stop the Brinks truck carrying the money into Gaza at the crossing point but the truck just swerved off the road and continued.”
Unofficial sources said that the $13 million will be transferred on March 27 in two Brinks trucks.”
I have written before about the childish stupidity of the Gazan Arabs but whilst this behaviour is certainly childish it is not stupid. It is a well worked out plan to keep the ordinary population of Gaza as poor as possible whilst ensuring that there is no shortage of weapons and ammunition of all sorts to kill Jews with. That the Government of Israel has no solution to this problem, and even if it had is so scared of the Left that it wouldn’t implement it, is nothing short of scandalous.
Despite the openly criminal nature of Hamas there are still western reporters and politicians who attempt to promulgate the big lie – that Gaza has a Government. Gaza has no such thing: it is run by a criminal gang the only interests of which are self-enrichment and Islamic terrorism, and those two characteristics are certainly not, anywhere amongst Islamists, mutually exclusive. It is sad to note that The West Bank is in no better a state.
Nary A Golda Meir, Nor An Aung San Suu Kyi, In The Bunch
The Middle East's Marie Antoinettes
How a handful of rulers' wives became fashion magazine darlings here and symbols of inequality back home.
By Noreen Malone March 23, 2011
Last night, not quite a month after a Vogue profile of Syrian first lady Asma Assad declared Syria the "safest country" in the Middle East, government forces killed six in the southern city of Deraa, site of unprecedented protests against the ruling regime. That would be the regime headed by Asma's husband Bashar Assad, who, as Vogue explained, was elected with a "startling" 97 percent of the vote. ("In Syria," the writer added delicately, "power is hereditary.") The much-derided article did not linger on this point, however, choosing instead to celebrate its subject with a series of besotted compliments following from this opener: "Asma al-Assad is glamorous, young, and very chic—the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies."
But while Vogue was pilloried for its puff piece, this was neither the first nor the last time Asma has been treated to Western flattery. See, for example, a 2009 Huffington Post slide show on "Asma Al Assad: Syria's First Lady and All-Natural Beauty," or even the Harvard Arab Alumni Association's website, which just last week promoted an event featuring Asma, praising her, rather incredibly, as a great supporter of "a robust, independent and self-sustaining civil society." It is telling that a personal appearance from Mrs. Assad is still considered such a get that the organization was willing to ignore such trifles as, say, Syria's terrible record on human rights. As a Reuters piece on the matter put it: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a dictator who wants to be accepted by polite Western society should look for a charming, glamorous wife."
Assad has company among other charming, glamorous wives of Middle Eastern rulers who increasingly find themselves provoking distaste. In recent months, Jordan's cosmopolitan Queen Rania Al Abdullah—even more of a fashion-mag perennial than Asma Assad—and several other of the region's rulers' wives have been held up, both at home and in the international media, as symbols of all that is wrong with their husbands' regimes. It's a modern-day Marie Antoinette problem—one that Americans have been unwittingly exacerbating.
Ask the average Westerner what might be a prerequisite for meaningful progress in the Middle East, and there's a good chance she will mention, among other things, greater agency for women. And so to many American readers, the worldly, educated new generation of Middle Eastern rulers' wives and daughters—a generation that includes not only Rania but also her predecessor, Queen Noor, Princess Lalla Salma of Morocco, and even Hosni Mubarak's tabloid-baiting daughter-in-law Khadija el-Gamal, who works for her own father's real estate company—seem like sparkling symbols of female progress and potential. Yet ask someone in one of the countries where revolution has been bubbling what her country's biggest problem is, and she'll probably cite a lack of democratic government combined with inequality and crippling poverty; extravagant Rania, queen (not first lady) of one of the region's poorer countries, is also a symbol of that.
In many ways, Queen Rania is the clearest—and most vexing—example of this contradiction. She holds a fair claim to the title of most glamorous woman in the world. At least, she was Glamour's woman of the year in 2010—an award she can file away next to her membership in Vanity Fair's Best-Dressed International Hall of Fame and her perch on Forbes' Most Powerful Women list. She's appealing to the magazine editors who compile these lists not just because she's a slender clotheshorse with deep pockets and friends in high places—these things help—but also because her calendar is bursting with loads of commitments that seem to crush the stereotypes of both idle royals and submissive Muslim wives. She has done work for everyone from UNICEF to Operation Smile, while also founding initiatives such as the Jordan River Foundation and the Arab Women's Organization (which many of her royal peers have also worked for). Rania, explaining her influence in a 2009 Vogue profile: "Other Arab countries send us people to train as social workers, and now I can suddenly turn on Saudi television and find them talking about child abuse!" Her friend Wendi Murdoch, wife of Rupert, chimed in: "She's modern; she thinks being queen is a job. She takes on all those issues like women's rights and improving the lives of Jordan's people, and they really love her."
In many ways, Rania's appearance also meshes perfectly with Western ideas of what an enlightened Arab woman might look like: Not only does she speak her mind, she's unveiled, and she wears pretty much whatever she wants. The writer of the Vogue profile half-acknowledged this part of her appeal, writing: "I can look at Rania … and not make assumptions. But, as a Western woman, I do make assumptions when a faceless woman is hidden under a niqab or burka."
Rania's image doesn't play as well at home, however. Muslimah Media Watch blogger Sana Saeed put the problem this way in an email: "Rather than speaking to the very people she seeks to represent, Rania speaks beyond them." Nor do they like her spendthrift ways: The lavish clothes that land her on best-dressed lists rankle in a country where an estimated 25 percent of people live in poverty. During the recent Jordanian protests, a group of the country's Bedouin tribesmen wrote an unpredecented open letter criticizing the monarchy and accusing Rania of corruption and extravagant spending. (For an example of which, see the queen's 40th birthday party, which the Spectatordescribedthus: "Six hundred guests were flown in from all over the world. Two giant figure '40's were beamed on to mountainous outcrops – although the neighbouring villages don't even have electricity. Locals still speak of the water used to dampen down the sand so that the guests could walk more easily, though there were desperate water shortages nearby.") The tribesmen's letter went on to compare Rania to the unapologetically spendy Leila Trabelsi, wife of deposed Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and so-called "Imelda Marcos of the Arab world." Whether or not there is merit to the comparison, or to the corruption charges more broadly, even the suggestion draws attention to the contrast between her personal habits and the values she advocates publicly.
And yet it's hard to imagine, even amid the current turmoil, that Queen Rania and her peers will fall out of fashion globally, at least not as long as they remain in power. Glossy magazines are addicted to royalty, and while there aren't many queens to be found in our parts these days, the Middle East is still thick with them. That Vogue profile of Rania was very clear on this point: "In truth," it explained, "there are very few women movers and shakers at her global level, and they aren't queens." It's an almost wistful sentiment, a longing for the days of Jackie O. and Princess Diana (who still regularly grace Vanity Fair covers, years after their deaths). But here's the irony: The same extravagant lifestyle that vaulted these women to the global stage is what's getting them booed off of it now. We idealized them as models of the female empowerment we've been rooting for, that we're certain will help bring change to the Middle East—but we failed to see that they are also symbols of societies holding back not only their women, but also the vast majority of their men.