Tuesday, 29 November 2011
More Confident And Baseless Predictions Of The End Of The Alawite Rule In Syria
From the Financial Times:

November 29, 2011

Syrian regime reaches point of no return

Why exert pressure on Syria, bemoaned Walid Muallem, the foreign minister, in one of his recent meandering interventions. The country’s crisis, he confidently predicted, was reaching “the beginning of the end”.

Many of Mr Muallem’s neighbours would agree with part of his statement: this is the beginning of the end – not of the popular revolt now in its ninth month, however, but of the regime itself.

Beyond the toughening rhetoric and the series of sanctions imposed against Syria by the Arab League on the weekend, lies the unspoken assumption in many Arab capitals that the regime of Bashar al-Assad has reached a point of no return.

The objective of the Arab League sanctions announced on Sunday – including travel and airline restrictions, asset freezes on officials and a ban on dealing with the central bank – is to dry up the regime’s access to financing.

Most important, however, is the political message sent to insiders and some of the regime’s remaining pillars of support, including the merchant classes that have helped keep the main cities of Damascus and Aleppo on the sidelines of the uprising, that it is time to switch sides.

“We’ve moved to political shock tactics to try and collapse the regime,” says Salman Shaikh, analyst at the Brookings Doha Center. “It’s an attempt to send clear signals to insiders in the regime that the time is up.”

Senior Arab officials insist that the Syrian regime still has a way out if it agrees to end the killings of protesters and to a gradual transition outlined in an Arab League peace plan. Yet few hold out hope for a change of course because an end to the crackdown is likely to provoke even wider protests and lead to the regime’s demise in any case.

The Arab League is expected to ask the UN Security Council to adopt the sanctions it has issued, although Russia is likely to block such a measure. There are discussions in the region about creating a contact group with Turkey and European states to co-ordinate Syria policy.

“The Arabs are now preparing for regime change,” says Paul Salem, head of the Carnegie Middle East centre in Beirut. “A coup is one scenario but the spreading of the unrest is another.”

Arab officials warn that the conflict could drag on for many months. “The level of violence will go up,” says a senior official. “The Arab moves have emboldened the opposition but there will be more brutality by the regime because it is fighting for survival.”

For the Arab world as much as for the Syrian opposition, the best outcome of the pressure would be to trigger cracks within the regime, with senior officers from the Alawite minority from which the regime is drawn turning against the Assad family, which controls the key security agencies. Although the regime has proved remarkably resilient, close observers of Syria say concern over loyalty is leading to the movement of heads of battalions around the country every few weeks.

But part of the dilemma for senior members of the regime is a lack of confidence in the opposition, which has yet to impose itself as a credible alternative, and is dominated by the Sunni majority.

“The Syrian street so far has also not reassured the Alawites and this is another major deterrent for officers to defect,” says a Damascus-based analyst, who asks to remain anonymous.

An International Crisis Group report argues that one of Mr Assad’s achievements has been to link the fate of the Alawite community to its own by inflaming sectarian sentiment in mixed cities like Homs, where violence has escalated in recent weeks.

The regime distributed weapons and bags of sands to communities long before any threat to them was apparent, leading more Syrians to blame the community for their predicament and provoking “a state of panic” among the Alawites, says the report.

As long as the regime remains united, it will face a rising torrent of international and regional pressure and the conflict will head towards more militarisation and a greater risk of some form of outside intervention.

The Free Syrian Army, a Turkish-based group of defectors, has raised its profile in recent weeks with attacks on regime targets, and its leader, Colonel Riad al-Asaad, has called for the establishment of a buffer zone on the border with Turkey.

Ankara has shown no appetite for such intervention but the option of buffer zones, whether on the border with Turkey or Jordan, has already been raised among Arab states.

France, meanwhile, is discussing with European partners the prospect of establishing humanitarian corridors, acknowledging that this would involve armed escorts.

Within the region and beyond, the risk of some form of international intervention appears to be nearing. As Mr Sheikh argues, despite Russia’s blocking of UN action, Syria is emerging as a “slow motion version” of Libya, with the various elements of potential intervention gradually coming into place, one step at a time.

Posted on 11/29/2011 10:52 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Suspicious Hizbullah Arms Depot Blast is a Fraud

 Our suspicions about the story surrounded the alleged blast at a Hizbullah arms depot near Tyre have been confirmed in an Arutz Sheva –Israel National News article.  In our post we had questioned not only the Beirut Star story but also one ironically published in Arutz Sheva Israel National News, especially the comments of anti-Israel US blogger Richard Silverstein based on his sheer over the top speculations. It was left to IDF surveillance drones to produce proof that the blast never happened. That should be enough to convince Israeli news sources that Silverstein has little credibility. Perhaps Hizbullah fabricated the story about a  fictional  Israeli attack on the arms depot  to justify yesterday's Katyusha rocket attacks  into northern Israel from southern  Lebanon.  Today’s Arutz Sheva Report: “Hizbullah Warehouse Explosion Fabricated” noted:

Last week’s reports of an explosion at a secret Hizbullah terrorist warehouse may have been fabricated, according to a report on Monday by Israel’s Channel 10 News.

The reports last week said that the explosion occurred near the coastal city of Tyre, located in southern Lebanon not far from Israel’s northern border, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Beirut.

The blast occurred in an area under the control of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

Hizbullah forces prevented security personnel from reaching the site, making it impossible to obtain any information about what actually happened.

However, if the report by Channel 10’s veteran military correspondent Alon Ben David is correct, the explosion never even happened.

Ben David said the IDF sent a drone in recent days over the area where the explosion supposedly occurred, but to the military’s surprise it found no smoke and no damage that may suggest an explosion had taken place.

Posted on 11/29/2011 9:36 AM by Jerry Gordon
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
US Air Force: "We're here to accommodate all religions, period."

In the still of a cold November evening, a small gathering of pagans, led by two witches, begins preparations for the coming winter solstice. But these are not just any pagans, and this is not just any setting. They are future officers of the United States Air Force practicing their faith in the basement of the Air Force Academy's cadet chapel.

Their ranks are slim. According to the academy's enrollment records, only three of 4,300 cadets identified themselves as pagans, followers of an ancient religion that generally does not worship a single god and considers all things in nature interconnected.

Still, the academy this year dedicated an $80,000 outdoor worship center — a small Stonehenge-like circle of boulders with propane fire pit — high on a hill for the handful of current or future cadets whose religions fall under the broad category of "Earth-based." Those include pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches and followers of Native American faiths.

Witches in the Air Force? Chaplain Maj. Darren Duncan, branch chief of cadet faith communities at the academy, sighs. A punch line waiting to happen, and he's heard all the broom jokes.

For the record, there are no witches among the cadets this year. But the two spiritual leaders for all Earth-based religions — one a civilian, one an Air Force reservist — are witches and regularly cast spells, which they say is not so different from offering prayer. There also are no druids this year. But there could be next year.

"We're here to accommodate all religions, period," Duncan says. The building of the Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle on the hilltop, he says, is no different from the past conversion of chapel rooms into worship spaces that serve this year's 11 Muslim, 16 Buddhist and 10 Hindu cadets. There are also 43 self-identified atheist cadets whose beliefs, or lack of them, Duncan says are also to be respected.

"It is very nice to have our own space," says Cadet 1st Class Nicole Johnson, a 21-year-old senior from Florida who became a pagan after entering the academy.

This is not about religious tolerance — a phrase Duncan, a Christian, rejects as implying that the majority religion is simply putting up with the minority. He calls it a 1st Amendment issue. If the military is to defend the Constitution, it should also be upholding its guarantee of religious freedom. "We think we are setting the standard," Duncan says.

Posted on 11/29/2011 5:52 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
Fears of vigilantism after rape of young girl

From the Copenhagen Post

Somalian teen arrested for rape of 10-year-old girl after week of fear of reprisals against small town’s immigrant community.

The rape of a ten-year-old has shocked the residents of a small town in Jutland, and led to fears residents would seek revenge against the suspect – a 16-year-old boy of Somalian descent. A week ago last Saturday two girls were threatened at knife-point by a boy and led into a forest. While the nine-year-old girl managed to escape and sound the alarm, the ten-year-old was raped.

It took over a week for the police to make an arrest, and in the meantime the description of the culprit – an 'African-looking' male between the ages of 16 and 18 and with black curly hair – was circulated.

Some 40 percent of the town’s residents are immigrants and several boys and young men fit the description given by the girls. While the police began collecting evidence, rumours started circulating that groups of residents were looking to take matters into their own hands and young immigrant men were warned to stay indoors.

Kaj Mortensen, the manager of a local housing association, who told the press that fears of a vigilante mob forming were overblown, though it was worth reminding residents of the consequences of vigilantism. The parents of the children raped and threatened need no reminding of the consequences of allowing the values of islam into their community.

Twenty members of the Danish Defence League (DDL), were spotted in the nearby town of Herning on Thursday night on their way to Gullestrup, where the next day posters could be found declaring the town an ‘Sharia Free Zone’ and signed by the DDL. In a press release, the DDL declared it was prepared to take on the role of the police at times when they felt the Danish people were not being protected

“The Danish Defence League declares that we will take the streets in areas where the number of rapes are rising if the authorities in Denmark are not getting the situation under control. We take this position after the Danish police once again have shown that they either can’t or won’t – or don’t have the resources to – protect the Danish people from Muslim immigrants’ perverted desires.”

A 16-year-old was been arrested late last week after forensic evidence linked him to the crime. The police would not confirm what the evidence was but one report suggests his fingerprint was found on a condom packet lying close to the scene of the crime.

According to information obtained by the tabloid Ekstra Bladet, the 16-year-old had recently returned from a year in Somalia and had reportedly witnessed that country’s strife at close quarters. Acquaintances of the suspect described how the experience has affected him. “He was unrecognisable when he came home. He seemed hard and superficial and spoke very loudly, almost shouting all the time,”

Posted on 11/29/2011 4:20 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
20-ton Marmite spill blocks M1 motorway

A large-scale clean-up operation was under way after a tanker carrying more than 20 tonnes of yeast extract - believed to be Marmite - overturned on a busy motorway.

Police shut a section of the M1 in South Yorkshire at around 10.15pm last night following the incident, which saw the vehicle crash and and spill its contents onto the carriageway. The tanker driver was taken to hospital but their injuries are not believed to be serious

The road remains closed in both directions between junction 32 and 33 near Sheffield this morning and is expected to cause delays for rush hour commuters.

Police are reported to have summoned a fleet of Kingsmill lorries, and were seen flagging down a small pantechnicon belonging to Arla foods - Yorkshire Butter division.

Posted on 11/29/2011 2:47 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Monday, 28 November 2011
Equivalences: A Short Test

Is Exeter to Andover as Eton is to Harrow?

Is Bedale’s the English Putney, or is Putney the American Bedale’s?

Is New England to America as East Anglia is to England?

Is Vermont the American Umbria?

Is the Ile de Ré the French version of Martha’s Vineyard?

Is Virginia Water the English version of Tuxedo Park?

Is Bernard-Henri Lévy the French equivalent of Jeffrey Sachs?

Is John Montague to Seamus Heaney as Lavinia Greenlaw is to Carol Ann Duffy?

Those are the limbering-up questions.

Now it is time for the test:

Kathryn Harrison is to Marguerite Duras as ? is to Marguerite Yourcenar.

Steven Pinker is to Noam Chomsky as Quentin Skinner is to ?

Élodie Navarre is to Laura Morante as John Malkovich is to ?

And for your final, and most difficult, question:

Noel and Freddie and Isaiah are to Martha and Cass and Amartya as A and B and C are to X and Y and Z.

Solve for all six.

Posted on 11/28/2011 8:23 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 November 2011
A Cinematic Interlude: Springtime In The English Countryside (1944)
Watch, and listen, here.
Posted on 11/28/2011 8:04 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 November 2011
In Iran, Yet Another Work Accident

From Haaretz.com:


Explosion rocks Iran city of Isfahan, home to key nuclear facility

Semi-official Fars news agency says blast heard distinctly in several parts of the western Iran city; a uranium conversion plant near Isfahan went online in 2004.

By Yossi Melman 

An explosion rocked the western Iranian city of Isfahan on Monday, the semi-official Fars news agency reported, adding that the blast was heard in several parts of the city.

According to reports, frightened residents called the fire department after the blast, forcing the city authorities to admit there had been an explosion.Residents reported that their windows shook from the explosion's force.

Speaking to an Iranian news website, the government of Isfahan said that the explosion occurred as a result of a military drill, denying reports that the blast was somehow related to the nearby nuclear facility.

"There is no such thing, the blast was entirely from the military maneuver," the Iranian official said.

The Isfahan uranium conversion plant operates under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and is frequented by its inspectors and surveyed by cameras that broadcast to the IAEA headquarters in Vienna.

Thus, had the explosion occurred at the nuclear site, the UN's nuclear watchdog would have known of the incident.

Speaking with Fars news agency earlier Monday, Isfahan’s deputy mayor initially confirmed the reports and said the authorities are investigating the matter. However, after the incident was reported in Israel, the report was taken off the Fars website.

It seems that city authorities and the Iranian government were embarrassed by the reports of a blasts, releasing contradictory versions of the alleged events. One example is a statement given by the same deputy mayor to the Mehr news agency, saying he had no reports of an explosion.

Another confirmation came from the head of the city's judiciary, who said an explosion-like sound was heard. Meanwhile, the Mehr news agency reported there has been a blast at a petrol station near the city. Another report pointed to a training accident.

The reported incident occurred about two weeks after Gen. Hasan Tehrani Moghaddam was killed together with 20 other Guard members Nov. 12 at a military site outside Bidganeh village, 40 kilometers southwest of Tehran.

The Revolutionary Guard said the accidental explosion occurred while military personnel were transporting munitions.

It should be noted that Iran operates a uranium conversion plant near Isfahan, one with an important function in the chain of Iran's nuclear program.

It first went into operation in 2004, taking uranium from mines and producing uranium fluoride gas, which then feeds the centrifuges that enrich the uranium.

Since 2004, thousands of kilograms of uranium flouride gas were stockpiled at Isfahan and subsequently sent to the enrichment plant in Natanz.

Commenting on the report of an explosion in Isfahan, U.S. State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said: "We don't have any information at this time other than what we've seen in the press as well. But certainly we're looking into it."

"As you know, we're somewhat limited in our ability to glean information on the ground there, but we're certainly looking into it," Toner added.

Earlier Monday, a top Israeli security official said that the recent explosion that rocked an Iranian missile base near Tehran could delay or stop further Iranian surface-to-surface missile development.

The official added, however that the Iranian nuclear program was continuing to gain ground, despite considerable international pressure and attempts to destabilize the Iranian regime.

Posted on 11/28/2011 3:55 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 November 2011
The Muslim U.S. Military Experience

Justin O. Smith writes from Murfreesboro, Tennessee:

There are approximately 3500 Muslims currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, and perhaps the majority of them have been able to disassociate themselves from the most radical of commands found in the Sura and the Hadith. Some have stated that they only observe and worship in accordance with the Abrahamic verses that the Quran has borrowed from Judaism and Christianity. However, it does become extremely discomforting and troubling for anyone to discern between "peaceful, moderate Muslims" and those who think deception (taqiyya) and political and violent jihad are acceptable practices in defeating one's enemy, as they endeavor to subjugate or kill all those who oppose them or will not submit to Islam and the "will of Allah."

Major Nidal Hassan stated in his infamous Power Point 'The Koranic Worldview As It Relates to Muslims In The U.S. Military' that "Muslims are moderate (compromising) but God is not." Some Muslim scholars have tried to direct Islam towards the "mercy and compassion" exhibited in the early words of Mohammed; however, too many Muslims hold to the tenet and premise that the last words of Mohammed supercede all the others, and the last words of Mohammed were his most violent. These extremists who actively engage in political and violent jihad (holy war) also believe they are compromising their Islamic values when living in Western societies.

One of the most recognized peaceful verses from the Quran states "God invites you into the abode of peace" -10:25. However, the following passages are some of those most accepted by the majority of Muslims world-wide, including here in America: * Fight against such as those... as believe neither in Allah nor 'The Last Day'... and do not embrace the true faith, until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued. - Sura 9:29....*When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads... bind your captives firmly.. -Sura 47:1....*Do not befriend them (Christians, Jews, infidels) until they have fled their homes for the cause of Allah. If they desert you seize them and put them to death wherever you find them. -Sura 4:87

Mohammed Khan left Pakistan to learn to fly in the U.S., and in 2007 he participated in U.S. Navy excercises off the coast of Iran on the USS Stennis aircraft carrier. As a squadron commander, Khan sees no conflict between being a devout Muslim and serving in the U.S. Navy, and he stated that his religion had never interfered with his duties.

I can acknowledge that there probably are numerous cases of Muslims serving honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces, and there are many headstones of Muslim U.S. soldiers killed in action. However, it takes an effort of will not to wonder how many of these were simply biding their time in order to commit some act of treason against the U.S. or were already in the process of following and implementing an Islamic jihadist agenda. Remember, Islam demands a Muslim's full allegiance.

Are honorable Muslim soldiers loyal to America and the U.S. Constitution the exception or the rule?

If one looks at the Muslim community of 2-3 million within America, we find a community reticent to help law enforcement and intelligence officers locate and capture terror suspects. Information is rarely received from a Muslim informing on another Muslim. Then, when one looks at the largest concentration of Muslims living in the U.S., 250,000, in Dearborn, MI, one sees a community that, time and again, almost annually attempts to insert Sharia Law principles into their city codes, even as Jessica Mokdad was murdered in an "honor killing" near the city limits. Even moderate Muslims tend to protect the most radical within their ranks from are ingrained from birth with a strong sense of loyalty to the "ummah"...the world-wide Muslim community.

How can imams reconcile the Islamic view of dar al-Islam, the territory of Islam, and dar al-harb, the territory of war which includes all states and communities not under Muslim rule, in conjunction with the aforementioned Sura verses and Our U.S. Constitution? I do not believe they can, nor in all too many instances do they desire any peaceful cooperation and solutions.

From 1993 until 2001, the triple agent Ali Mohamed compromised U.S. intelligence as he worked for Al Qaeda. Mohamed was a former Egyptian captain turned CIA operative, who also went became a U.S. Special Forces advisor and an FBI informant. He penetrated the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center at Ft. Bragg, while simultaneously training the cell of extremists from the Farouq Mosque in Brooklyn that detonated the first bomb at the World Trade Center in 1993. In 1998 he trained bin-Laden's bodyguard and took surveillance photos that bin-Laden used to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Kenya.

In April 2001, naval signalman Abujihaad disclosed the location of Navy ships and their weaknesses to an online forum, while serving on the USS Benfold. He also discussed sniper attacks on military personnel and attacks on U.S. military recruitment sites; he received a ten year sentence.

Sgt. Asan Akbar of the 101st Division's 326th Engineer Battalion was not allowed to participate in the first Gulf War because of his Islamic faith, and we soon learned why that represented sound logic. Shortly after being deployed to Iraq, Sgt. Akbar threw grenades into the tactical operations center killing or wounding fifteen soldiers.

Army Captain and Muslim imam, James "Yousef" Lee was charged with espionage while serving at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He was caught with detailed maps of the detention facility and other classified materials.

In Jan. 2010, we witnessed seven U.S. counterterrorist officers and one Jordanian intelligence operative murdered by Al Qaeda double agent Khalil al Balawi in Khost, Afghanistan. Balawi was working for the CIA after an intense screening by Jordanian intelligence. Somehow traditional operational compartmentation broke down, and Balawi found them all in one room and detonated his bomb!

In June 2011, twenty-two year old Yonathan Melaku, a Marine Reservist and a radical Muslim, shot at the Pentagon and other military buildings in northern Virginia. The FBI found videos and notebooks with bomb making procedures; Melaku actually videotaped himself saying "That's my target...It's going to be attacked," and then he opens fire shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) according to court papers.

Just last week, eleven CIA agents were outed in Lebanon and Iran, and it seems more than likely that this betrayal occurred in the upper levels of our intelligence agencies or the State Dept. These agents are now in the hands of Hezbollah and two are thought to be dead. The remaining agents are probably suffering real torture beyond imagination, a far cry from the harmless waterboarding U.S. forces utilize to extract information. I daresay that this betrayal will eventually be traced back to one of the Obama Administration's known Muslim appointees in any number of sensitive positions with access to classified materials, such as Umah Abedin, Sec. of State primary aid, Arif Alikan at the Dept. of Homeland Security or Dahlia Mogahed, advisor to Pres. Obama!

When I view the question, "Should Muslims be allowed to serve in the U.S. military" from a holistic viewpoint, there exists a multitude of reasons not to have Muslims serving, the common thread being Islam, and Rep. Rick Womick was quite correct in his assessment of our current military situation: "They are not allowed to kill their fellow Muslims; we're at war with Muslims. The only solution I see is that they not be allowed in the military... Personally I don't trust one Muslim in our military. If they truly are a devout Muslim and follow the Quran and the Sunnah (Sura and Hadith), then I feel threatened because they're commanded to kill me." Of course Saleh Sbenaty and various supporters of Islam and Sharia Law, such as CAIR, charged that Rep. Womick's statements were "inflammatory," "anti-Islamic," "bigoted" and "un-American." But, before one more U.S. soldier dies at the hands of a Muslim jihadist on a mission of martyrdom for Allah, not only should Muslims be kept out of the military, Muslims should not serve in government positions that have access to classified military information. Rep. Rick Womick should regularly be re-elected, he is a true American patriot and he only stated what many U.S. Veterans and Americans were already thinking!

Posted on 11/28/2011 3:14 PM by NER
Monday, 28 November 2011
From The Annals Of Them-As-Has-Gets

From USA Today:

November 29, 2011

3 Conn. co-workers claim $254M Powerball jackpot

ROCKY HILL, Conn. (AP) – Three Connecticut men who work at a startup asset management firm have claimed a $254 million Powerball jackpot.

Gregg Skidmore, Brandon Lacoff and Tim Davidson revealed themselves as the winners Monday at the Connecticut Lottery headquarters. The three are from the Greenwich area and are taking the after-tax lump sum of nearly $104 million in cash. They say a significant portion will go to charity.

Davidson bought the $1 quick pick ticket for the Nov. 2 drawing at the Shippan Point Getty station in Stamford. The winning numbers were 12-14-34-39-46, Powerball 36.

Skidmore says: "It feels good."

The jackpot was the largest ever won in Connecticut and the 12th biggest in Powerball history.

The three men work as asset managers at a small firm called Bell Asset Management.

Posted on 11/28/2011 1:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 28 November 2011
3 killed, 27 injured in Philippine hotel bomb attack blamed on Islamic extremists

From Taiwan News and News Australia

A powerful blast killed at least 3 people and wounded 27 others in a southern Philippine hotel packed with wedding guests, officials said Monday. The explosion, happened late Sunday in the port of city of Zamboanga (a predominantly Christian trading city with its international seaport 860 kilometers south of Manila) on Mindanao island, was so powerful it caused much of two-story hotel to collapse, blew off the roof and shattered windows from nearby buildings.

Police said they had also found traces of chemicals used in making improvised bombs in the ruins of the Atilano Pension House.

Investigators believe the blast and ensuing fire that gutted the two-story Atilano Pension House in downtown Zamboanga City late yesterday was a terrorist strike and that it was not linked to the wedding, city police director Edwin de Ocampo said. Still, many of the victims were from a group of more than 20 people who occupied six of the hotel's 35 rooms for a planned ceremony today. The tragedy forced the wedding to be postponed, Zamboanga Mayor Celso Lobregat said.

The blast was believed to be one of two simultaneous bombings planned by al-Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaff militants. The other would have been on nearby Basilan island, where two explosives were separately found and safely defused by authorities in Isabela city on Sunday, de Ocampo said.

Posted on 11/28/2011 1:53 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 27 November 2011
Rauf Naqishbendi: A Kurdish View Of Iraq After The American Withdrawal
American Troop Withdrawal from Iraq: Doom and gloom upon Iraq
Kurdishaspect.com - By Rauf Naqishbendi
"Even as our troops come home, the United States' commitment to Iraq's future as a secure, stable, democratic nation remains as strong as ever," said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Tajik capital following the Obama Administration’s decision to withdraw American troops from Iraq. President Obama asserted, "As promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year.” He added, "After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over." What he didn’t say is that the Iraqis will be left on their own to succeed or to fail.
Regarding the Secretary of State’s comments, Iraq is neither secure nor democratic. Iraq, in a sense, is in chaos with its leaders fomenting self-destruction. Iraq is threatened by its neighbors, mainly Turkey and Iran. President Obama admitted that the Iraq War was costly with a price tag over a trillion dollars. Be sure that all the money has gone in vain for this has been a losing war, not only because of its monetary cost, but also because of the human toll and disheartening misfortune that ensued as tens of thousands of Americans have been crippled or killed. In addition, most of those who made it home or who are about to do so need to be treated for Post-traumatic Iraq Syndrome. These are the disheartening tragedies that are America’s challenge for decades to come.
Turning the leaf over to the Iraqi people, who also have lived with the burden of hundreds of thousands who have been perished or vanished by the hands of terrorists and during U.S. bombings of Iraq. The Iraqi people have seen the demise of the Butcher of Baghdad, Saddam Hussein, but in his place they found new leaders who are neither the beacon of prosperity nor agents of the Iraqis’ dream. Instead the leadership is comprised of corrupted leaders who are looting the Iraqis for their own self-promotion and affluence.
Unemployment in Iraq exceeds 30 percent by all accounts, and only a few of the cronies of those in power are reaping the benefit, while the majority are struggling for survival, living from one paycheck to another, with a labor force that lives hand to mouth. This is the economically inequitable situation fashioned by the government of Talabni-Maliki.
In the agricultural arena, Iraq is able to feed itself. However, farm subsidies are nonexistent, and so is planning for and assisting farmers. As a result, great numbers of farmers have forfeited their farms, seeking construction labor jobs in big cities. Sadly, the Iraq authorities has done no material good in any arena. Rest assured that the only good they have done is for themselves and their cronies. The Kurdish leaders are living proof of the corrupted mentality of Iraq’s leaders.
Presently, Iraq is a country that it imports everything it consumes, from vegetables, to cheese, clothing, every tool they use, every car they drive, every carpet they recline upon, every appliance in their houses, including silverware, every medicine they take, every bed they sleep on, every piece of stationery they use, every beverage they drink, every chemical they use. They are all imported. Therefore, what is it keeping more than 25 million Iraqi people busy? The answer is the oil money that has created an unproductive society, one that is unable to produce anything above the ground. All their revenue comes from underground oil, of which the government spent a portion to pay for the social programs, but the rest of the money is deposited in the coffers of the ruling authorities and their cronies. These cronies embark on the construction of big hotels, shopping malls, and fancy restaurants, even gorgeous golf courses that all together paint Iraq as a prosperous country to the eyes of foreign visitors. The emphasis on construction is the reason for the lack of investment and finances in other industries.
Notably, Iraq is a country with a population of 25 million, having a wealth of oil reserves and fertile land. Given the little industry the country possesses, there exists an immense number of industries the government can embark upon to at least accommodate for domestic consumption. These disturbing facts are a direct result of the Iraqi government, both in the south and north, being dominated by fledgling leaders who are lacking the knowledge even to run an elementary school. They have no sense, experience, or expertise regarding matters of democracy, governing, financing, or management.
While the money is available for these construction extravaganzas, yet there is a shortage of school buildings. Consider the city of Sulaymania where most of the students attend two schools. Deteriorating education standards is a matter of troubling concern. Iraqi universities and high schools, even during the time of Ba’ath leadership, used to be some of the most advanced in the region. Iraqi college graduates, to a great extent, had no problem finding employment in their fields of study, even during Saddam’s time, but under the new Iraqi government that is just an empty dream. Gaining employment is not a matter of excellence, knowledge, experience, or high education, but rather the connections and affiliation. Those unaffiliated with the ruling parties are locked out from prestigious public posts. This atmosphere of unfair employment practices has been discouraging, as a majority of college graduates are left with dismal future employment prospects.
Other areas of concern are the lack of basic and necessary public services such as electricity and clean drinking water, which was unknown to Iraqis during Saddam’s regime. In the health care arena, Iraq has left behind all its neighboring countries. Health care in Iraq is dismal, and serious illnesses have to be treated in Jordan, Iran, Turkey, or Europe. The richest can afford to travel abroad while the less unprivileged citizens go untreated.
True statistics concerning the number of millionaires created post American invasion is not available, but the facts on the ground suggest that Iraq has since bred more millionaires than any other country in the region, if not the world. Sadly, these millionaires are the cronies and family members of the newly established leadership both in Kurdistan and Iraqi Arabia.
President Obama’s decision to disengage Iraq militarily is well justified. In hindsight we know the Iraqi invasion was a historic American blunder. Judging by what the Iraqi leaders have accomplished with American aid, one should not have high expectations for Iraqi leaders to do better without America. It must be realized that Iraq is a special case, special in its vices not virtues, for the Iraqi people have never been united to secure or prosper their country. Now, more than ever before, given Iraq’s internal division, power struggles in lines of ethnicity and religion, hideous neighbors, and corrupted leaders, one can only project doom and gloom.
As things will turn sour in Iraq post American troop withdrawal, Iraqis shouldn’t blame America but rather their selfish, corrupted, and incompetent leaders. Besides, Iraq was a mess before the American invasion and will be the same after America’s disengagement.
Rauf Naqishbendi is a contributing columnist for Kurdishaspect.com, American Chronicle, Kurdishmedia.com and has written Op/Ed pages for the Los Angeles Times. His memoirs entitled "The Garden Of The Poets", recently published. It reads as a novel depicting his experience and the subsequent 1988 bombing of his hometown with chemical and biological weapons by Saddam Hussein. It is the story of his people´s suffering, and a sneak preview of their culture and history. Rauf Naqishbendi is a software engineer in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Posted on 11/27/2011 10:06 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 27 November 2011
A Cinematic Interlude: Brief Encounter (The Bridge Scene)
Watch  here.
Posted on 11/27/2011 9:15 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 27 November 2011
Berbers Protest Arab Supremacism In Libya

From Agence France-Presse:

Libya's Berbers press for government inclusion

TRIPOLI — Hundreds of Libya's minority Amazigh Berbers marched on Sunday to the premier's office for the second time in three days, stepping up pressure to be represented in the government.

Chanting "Take our minister," more than 500 members of the community -- men, women and children -- waved their blue, green and yellow flag as they set out from a gathering at Martyrs' Square in Tripoli.

They demanded that their rights be accepted, also yelling: "Tamazight is our language and it must be recognised!"

"We are marching to the prime minister's office to... ask why our representative was not included in the new Libyan government and also demanding that our language be officially recognised," lawyer Milod Ahmed, a member of the National Amazigh Congress, told AFP.

The protest comes two days after a similar rally by dozens of Amazighs.

During Moamer Kadhafi's 42 years of hardline rule, the Amazighs -- whose name means "free men" -- were banned from publicly speaking, writing or printing anything in their own tongue, tamazight.

The Berbers, who make up about 10 percent of Libya's six million people, are angry after their community was left unrepresented when a new cabinet list was unveiled this week.

They have been present in Libya since before the Arab conquest in the seventh century and are remembered for their military resistance to the Italian occupation which ended 60 years ago.

A minority nationwide, the Amazighs form a majority in the northwestern Nafusa mountains, in Zuwarah region 120 kilometres (75 miles) west of Tripoli and in Ghadamis province on the frontier with Algeria.

Ahmed said that the local council of Zuwarah had "frozen its ties with the National Transitional Council over the past five days" in protest against the new government.

The Berbers are also angry after being active from the start of the revolt against Kadhafi as they worked with the Arabs to topple the regime.

With the war over, they now want to contribute and take their place in Libya's political and cultural life.

Interim prime minister Abdel Rahim al-Kib "had said that his cabinet would be made of technocrats (but) where are these technocrats?" asked Khaled Zikri, an adviser to the finance ministry who himself is an Amazigh.

"If this is true, then we have several qualified technocrats," he said.

After Thursday's unveiling of the cabinet, the National Amazigh Congress called on all Libyans, and Berbers in particular, to end cooperation with the NTC and government.

Posted on 11/27/2011 9:57 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 27 November 2011
Dr. Shakespeare

A retired gastroenterologist in Somerset, Dr Kenneth Heaton, has concluded that if doctors knew their Shakespeare better, they would order fewer unnecessary (and expensive) tests for symptoms of psychological origin: for no one ever described or understood those symptoms better than Shakespeare.

In fact, our national playwright and poet has long aroused the interest of at least a minority of doctors, who have written extensively on his knowledge of medicine in all its aspects. They range from John Charles Bucknill’s Psychology of Shakespeare, of 1859, to Paul M Matthews’s The Bard on the Brain, of 2003. The late Dr Murray Cox, consultant psychotherapist at Broadmoor, used Shakespeare as a psychotherapeutic instrument, and maintained that there was no human situation which he did not illuminate somewhere in his work.

The playwright’s clinical observations are astonishingly accurate, especially when compared with those of his son-in-law, Dr John Hall, who saw his patients through the misleading lens of the humoral theory that he had been taught. His only book, Select observations on English bodies, or Cures both empericall and historicall performed upon very eminent persons in desperate diseases, is of antiquarian interest only, its prescriptions hardly distinguishable from the ingredients of the witches’ cauldron in Macbeth.

By contrast, there is barely a Shakespeare play that cannot arrest a doctor’s attention. It is not just that he describes things accurately from a physiological point of view; he seems to know what it is like to feel them as well, and how to make us feel them, too.

The other day, reading Richard II, I was struck by the queen’s description of her own anxiety after Richard leaves her for Ireland:

“Some unborn sorrow ripe in Fortune’s womb

Is coming towards me, and my inward soul

With nothing trembles…”

One of Richard’s courtiers, Bushy, in effect tells her to pull herself together and stop worrying over nothing, but his advice is unavailing:

“For nothing hath begot my something grief,

Or something hath the nothing that I grieve…

But what it is that is not yet known what, I cannot name…”

No medical textbook could put it better.

Shakespeare’s ability to cast a light on almost any situation is uncanny. I have had, among my patients, young Muslim women who attempted suicide because they were being forced into a marriage that they did not want. Consider the predicament of the heroine in Romeo and Juliet, who says to her mother exactly what these young women say to theirs today.

“Is there no pity sitting in the clouds

That sees into the bottom of my grief?—

O sweet my mother, cast me not away!

Delay this marriage for a month, a week.

Or, if you do not, make the bridal bed

In that dim monument where Tybalt lies.”

I also used to see victims of domestic violence. By far the most common motive was insensate jealousy. Beaten women would protest that they had given the man no cause to be jealous, whereupon I would quote Emilia, who replies to Desdemona’s “Alas the day, I never gave him pause”:

“But jealous souls will not be answer’d so,

They are not ever jealous for the cause,

But they are jealous for they are jealous; 'tis a monster

Begot upon itself, born on itself.”

Leontes in The Winter’s Tale describes perfectly the way a jealous man misinterprets the slightest sign and works himself up into a rage:

“Is whispering nothing?

Is leaning cheek to cheek? Is meeting noses?

Kissing with inside lip? Stopping the career

Of laughing with a sigh? – A note infallible

Of breaking honesty-horsing foot on foot?

Skulking in corners?…

…is this nothing?

Why, then the world and all that’s in’t is nothing.”

All that is then needed for “things to kick off”, to use a phrase known to every casualty doctor, is a nightclub and some alcohol.

For all Shakespeare’s acumen, however, I am not sure that Dr Heaton is right in thinking that if doctors knew more of his works, they would order fewer tests and would put patients less often in those expensive scanners that one practitioner I know derisively calls “the answering machine”. The reason that many over-investigate symptoms that are probably caused by anxiety rather than by physical disorder is that they fear, partly for legal reasons, to miss a diagnosis, however unlikely it may be. That is, they fear “what it is that is not yet known what, [they] cannot name”.

That is their “nameless woe”.

First published in The Telegraph.

Posted on 11/27/2011 6:02 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Sunday, 27 November 2011
Christian worker loses her job after being 'targeted' by Islamic extremists

From the Telegraph

She said that she was the subject of a complaint by an Islamic colleague which was specious and that when she raised her own concerns as a Christian, she was the one who was dismissed.

Now she is distraught at losing her job on allegations made by what she describes as a small group of "extremist" Muslims.

Mrs Halawi, 47, said: "I have been sacked on the basis of unsubstantiated complaints so there is now great fear amongst my former colleagues that the same could happen to them if one of the Muslims turns on them.

"This is supposed to be a Christian country, but the law seems to be on the side of the Muslims."

She says they harassed Christians at work by making fun of them for wearing crosses, ridiculing Jesus and telling them they would go to Hell if they did not convert to Islam.

"One man brought in the Koran to work and insisted I read it and another brought in Islamic leaflets and handed them out to other employees," she said.

"They said that 9/11 served the Americans right and that they hated the West, but that they had come here because they want to convert people to Islam.

"They say that Jesus is s***** [shitty] and bullied a Christian friend of mine so much for wearing her crosses that she came to me crying."

Mrs Halawi says she was targeted by the fundamentalists after she stood up for her friend, who is 62 and who she is keeping anonymous because she still works at the terminal.

In May, five of her Muslim colleagues complained to David Tunnicliffe, the trading manager at World Duty Free, accusing her of being anti-Islamic following a heated conversation in the store.

The row had stemmed from her description of a Muslim colleague as an allawhi, which means 'man of God' in Arabic. Another Muslim overheard this and thought she said Alawi, which was his branch of Islam.

Following the complaints she was suspended immediately

Posted on 11/27/2011 3:29 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 26 November 2011
A Musical Interlude: Let's Misbehave (Irving Aaronson And His Commanders)
Listen here.
Posted on 11/26/2011 9:05 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 26 November 2011
Maldives - Hundreds protest UN's 'anti-Islam' comments

From the New Zealand Herald and Haveeru News

Hundreds of Maldivians are protesting against the United Nations after an official called on this Muslim nation to end religious extremism and practices like punishing women by flogging.

About 300 people shouted slogans against UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay Friday night, a day after she concluded a visit to the Indian ocean archipelago. Addressing the country's Parliament, Pillay on Thursday called flogging of women found to have had sex outside marriage "inhuman and degrading." She also called on Maldivian authorities to remove the "discriminatory" constitutional provision that requires every citizen to be a Muslim.

Minister Naseem told Haveeru that the government would not open a basic Islamic principle such as flogging for public debate in the Maldives despite requests to do so. "What's there to discuss about flogging? There is nothing to debate about in a matter clearly stated in the religion of Islam. No one can argue with God," he said. "Our foreign ministry will not allow that to happen. . . The government will follow the recommendations given by the Islamic Ministry on religious issues. . .Maldives is a 100 percent Muslim country."

Posted on 11/26/2011 2:36 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 26 November 2011
Tom Friedman, Who Maintains Everything And Its Opposite

From the London Review of Books:

Thomas Friedman’s Confusions

In his most recent book, Thomas FriedmanNew York Times columnist, Pulitzer Prize winner, presidential adviser – says of the Iraq War that he has ‘nothing but regret for the excessive price that America and Iraq have had to pay in lives and treasure’. The body count seems to be less cause for concern, however, than the fact that China, which has not been distracted from domestic infrastructure projects by pricey wars abroad, can now build a convention centre in approximately the same time it takes for the Washington Metro crew to repair two escalators in Friedman’s local subway station (the book is called That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back). Still, he’s come a long way since May 2003, when he said that the US military had to go ‘house to house from Basra to Baghdad’, wielding ‘a very big stick’ and instructing Iraqis to ‘Suck On This’.

This was necessary, Friedman explained, in order to burst the ‘terrorism bubble’ that had emerged in ‘that part of the world’ and posed a ‘fundamental threat to our open society’. Four months earlier he had said that the real threat to ‘open, Western, liberal societies today’ was not ‘the deterrables, like Saddam, but the undeterrables – the boys who did 9/11, who hate us more than they love life’. Iraq was nonetheless part of the ‘cement mixer that is churning out these undeterrables’, and in case anyone detected any inconsistencies in the argument that fighting a war against deterrables will deter people who cannot be deterred, Friedman later offered the broader assessment that ‘we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could.’

There was also the question of oil. In January 2003, Friedman conceded that ‘any war we launch in Iraq will certainly be – in part – about oil’. By October 2003, he had decided that ‘US power is not being used in Iraq for oil’. A year later, Hummer drivers in the US were somehow still to blame for the deaths of their neighbours’ sons serving in Fallujah – unlike New York Times columnists who sold ‘democratising a fractious Iraq’ by force as ‘the most important task worth doing’.

As for ideology, in April 2003 Friedman said the Iraq war was ‘the war the neoconservatives wanted… the war the neoconservatives marketed’. In October 2003, he said it was a ‘radically liberal war’. In November 2003, he said he was ‘a liberal on every issue other than this war’.

You’d think that someone so committed to exporting democracy would have a solid handle on what democracy means. But in 2005, Friedman praised Tony Blair ‘as one of the most important British prime ministers ever’ for having ‘not only defied the overwhelming antiwar sentiment of his own party, but public opinion in Britain generally’. For the US, too, the Iraq war was a ‘war of an elite’ and ‘not a war that the masses demanded’. Meanwhile, ‘the problem with Saudi Arabia is not that it has too little democracy. It’s that it has too much.’

In April 2003 Friedman said that Arab journalists who talked about the US ‘occupation’ of Iraq were guilty of ‘Saddamism’. In August 2003 Friedman wrote: ‘This is an occupation.’

In 2007 he surmised that Iraqis ‘hate each other more than they love their own kids’. In 2009 he hoped that they’d learned from America’s ‘million acts of kindness’ and ‘profound example of how much people of different backgrounds can accomplish when they work together’.
In 2005 Friedman argued: ‘We have to have a proper election in Iraq so we can have a proper civil war there.’ Earlier this year, he wrote: ‘For all of the murderous efforts by al-Qaida to trigger a full-scale civil war in Iraq, it never happened.’ Never mind that in 2006 he said: ‘It is now obvious that we are not midwifing democracy in Iraq. We are baby-sitting a civil war.’

Posted on 11/26/2011 9:45 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 26 November 2011
Trinidad: Muslims 'uneasy' over plot against Kamla - Muslim academics among 12 arrested

From the Trinidad Express, Reuters Africa and the Trinidad Guardian

Twelve people are being held in police custody in connection with an alleged assassination attempt of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and three of her Cabinet Ministers — Attorney General Anand Ramlogan; Housing Minister Roodal Moonilal and Local Government Minister Chandresh Sharma. The suspects were arrested at different times between Monday and yesterday by police and Defence Force officers.A 48-year-old man of Diego Martin, with links in Guyana, reportedly was arrested by officers of the Special Branch officers as his home on Wednesday night.

The man is said to have been a former member of the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen and involved in the 1990 attempted coup. He also was found not guilty of a double murder which occurred at a popular nightspot in west Trinidad, several years ago. Two former soldiers, both dishonourably discharged from the Defence Force a few years ago, were arrested during police raids at their home on Tuesday night.

Two Muslim academics, of Princes Town, also were said to be arrested by police. The men are said to have studied in Saudi Arabia and spent time in the Middle East.

THE State is being called upon to identify which Islamic organisation is alleged to be involved in a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and several senior government ministers.

General secretary of the Trinidad Muslim League (TML), Azid Ali, said yesterday his and other organisations are "uneasy" over the possibility that Muslims from a local group are behind the plan. I think they (the government) definitely have to clarify which particular group they have held members of and are questioning. This reflects badly on all of us Muslims. It not only tarnishes the image of those groups allegedly involved but on all Muslims."

Details of the planned assassination have been scarce since Persad-Bissessar announced on Thursday that security forces are on high alert since uncovering the plot.

On Wednesday, police arrested Selwyn 'Robocop' Alexis for his alleged connection to the plot, which security sources on Wednesday told the Express had targeted the PM, Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan, National Security Minister, Brigadier John Sandy, Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Surujrattan Rambachan, several others ministers and several senior police officers.

Several people arrested in connection with the plot are said to be practicing Muslims and a senior government minister on Wednesday also said the plot had its source in an "extremist fringe group".

On Thursday, some Muslims in Central Trinidad complained of being "branded" in a negative fashion, in light of the alleged plot.

Ali said he was not familiar with the problems being experienced by some Central Muslims, though he understands searches have been conducted at mosques and Islamic centres not only in Central Trinidad but other parts of the country.

Other reports suggest that the alleged plot was organised by the Army, others think it was by organised criminals anxious to resume their activities. Others think that the allegations are exagerated and designed to enable the governemnt to continue with the restrictions (curfew and suchlike) under the current State of Emergency in Trinidad and Tobago, imposed in order to deal with criminal gangs whose activities had got out of hand.

Posted on 11/26/2011 4:06 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 25 November 2011
A Turkish Columnist Recognizes That The Christians In Syria Support The Alawites

From TodaysZaman:

Christian support for the Baathists

According to classic templates that abound, one would really expect this article to discuss how a Muslim group was supporting an authoritarian, bloody-handed regime. This is because of all the religions it is generally Islam that issues like terrorism, dictatorships and the support of authoritarian regimes are linked and considered synonymous with.

So are there no marginal groups that carry out inhumane acts in the name of Islam? There are. Are there no leading Muslim figures who support, either voluntarily or because of fear, some authoritarian regimes? There are. But today we are going to speak of Christians working to keep some of these very same authoritarian regimes on their feet, and who even see their futures in the continuation of these oppressive regimes.

In Syria, which is undergoing a period of painful change, there are more than 2 million Christians, or around 10 percent of the total population, who want to see the Baath regime continue on its path. Words spoken at a meeting in Paris by Maronite Christian Patriarch Bechara El-Rai sums up this viewpoint: “The collapse of the Baathists could lead the way to the birth of a fundamentalist Sunni regime and this could lead the way to sectarian violence or even the division of the country into three or four parts based on sectarian differences. These are scenarios that are deadly for the future of Christians in Syria.”

The view held by a regular Christian citizen speaking to a reporter from the Independent newspaper in Damascus was not very different: “All of the international media -- from Al Jazeera to the BBC to CNN -- they all lie. There is no problem in Syria. Today, Christians here live their religions freely. They go to church, drink if they like. If Assad falls from power, all this will end.”

There are some Christian figures in the region who deny this ironic set of views, which seems to tie Christian wellbeing to authoritarian regimes like the Baathists. For example, the Syrian Orthodox patriarch shared the warnings of fellow Patriarch Rai on fundamentalism, but rejected the idea of defending their existence in the region at the cost of the freedom of others. What’s more, some Christian activists in Syria reject what they see as interventions in domestic events by figures like Rai, or the linking of their future wellbeing to the continuation of Assad’s power.

While certain factors such as the attacks on Coptic Christians in Egypt, or the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood and Ennahda after the revolutions, make Christian worries understandable, these views also work very well for Assad’s propaganda -- repeated both at home and abroad -- that asserts, “What follows me will be chaos. I am the protector of Christians.”

From the perspective of history and politics, there are understandable dimensions to this all. To wit, until the time the Ottomans departed in 1918, the leadership in Syria was based on a Sunni majority. In order to create a new threshold for themselves, the French who moved to Syria put the spotlight on the Christian and Nusayri bases of citizens. The ideology that was appendaged to this new threshold was Arab nationalism. If one really takes note, one can observe that it was largely Christian intellectuals at the helm of this ideology. When the revolution took place in Syria, the Baathists took this same threshold of citizens as its essential basis. At the point where Arab nationalism began to lose its strength, sectarianism entered into the loop. And so, democratization in the wake of the collapse of the Assad regime in Syria will mean that these old structures will lose the privilege once afforded to them, while new structures gain this privilege. The most critical subject at this point in the discussion is the fact that members of the Christian minority in Syria are lending support to Bashar al-Assad out of fear that in his wake, they will not be granted the rights they have had, or they will lose their current freedoms. Just as this is significant in terms of the legitimacy of the regime at home, it is also significant in terms of international balances and especially the West’s approach to Syria.

The following important warning is being offered to Christians in Syria who support the Baathist regime from authorities watching the developments closely, and from Western circles who support the idea of change there: It is only democracy that can guarantee not only the rights of Christians but in fact all Syrians. The degree to which the Christians continue to support the Baathist regime, despite the wishes of most Syrian citizens, means their situation could become worse post the collapse of the Assad regime as they will be identified with the old regime. In the meantime, it appears that this warning could serve well not only for Christians in Syria but also for Sunni businessmen, diplomats, intellectuals, and Nusayri bureaucrats who persist in lending support to the oppressive Assad regime.


Posted on 11/25/2011 8:45 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 25 November 2011
The Perfect Terrorist PBS Documentary Reveals Global Jihad by ISI and al Qaeda

David Coleman headley passport picture

 A PBS Frontline documentary, The Perfect Terrorist,  about Islamic terrorist David Coleman Headley reveals his key role scouting targets for the Lashkar-e–Taibar terror attacks in Mumbai on November 28, 2008 that killed over 164 innocent victims, injuring more than 308. Prominent targets were the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel and the murderous siege at the Chabad Nariman House in Mumbai. Later in 2009, Headley traveled to Copenhagen to scout a possible terror attack for senior al Qaeda member Ilyas Kashmiri. The target this time was the editorial offices of Jyllands-Posten, which published the controversial 12 Mohammed cartoons in 2005.    Kashmiri was later killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan in June, 2011.

Headley, was born Daood Gilani to a Pakistani father and an American mother, was raised Muslim and moved to Philadelphia where his mother owned, the Khyber Pass Pub.  Headley was arrested  by the FBI upon his return to Chicago in 2009 from Denmark. He was interrogated  indicted and turned evidence against co-conspirator  Chicago businessman Tahawwur Rana that resulted in the latter’s conviction in June, 2011. Headley provided detailed evidence on the organization, planning and control of the Mumbai massacres leading to indictments of his Pakistani handlers, Sajid Mir and an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) officer “Major Iqbal”.  Headley’s revelations according to Indian security sources apparently soured US-Pakistani relations.  His cooperation with the US prosecutors enabled him to avoid a death sentence.  There is a sequence in the PBS documentary showing him doing a high five in apparent victory about his reprieve. That may have been a reward for Headley’s alleged role as a double agent for US Drug Enforcement.

Watch  the PBS Frontline documentary, The Perfect Terrorist:

Watch A Perfect Terrorist on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

In our NER article about the tragic events that occurred three years ago, this coming Monday, “Mumbai Jihad Madness”, we discussed the grisly murderous assault on the Chabad Nariman House:

A Los Angeles Times report focused on how events unfolded at the Chabad Nariman House, where several hapless ex-patriate Israeli, US and Mexican business travelers –all Jews- were ensnared in the murderous assault.  It noted that  Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife, Rivka  and four others were murdered leaving the Holtzbergs'  traumatized two year son as a bloodied, anguished orphan seized by his Nepalese nanny from her hiding place and taken to safety. The Holtzbergs and the other Jews murdered in Mumbai were laid to rest in the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem.

What the Times report did not comment on was that the Jihadi hit team tortured Rabbi Holzberg's wife, who was five months pregnant with their unborn child in front of her husband who himself was subsequently tortured and murdered.  

The Perfect Terrorist  transcript reveals  the deceitful taqiyya of the  Pakistani ISI handlers in setting up the hapless Chabad hostages for eventual murder by the Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists.

SEBASTIAN ROTELLA: There was one more target to pinpoint. Hidden in the back streets, just a few minutes’ walk from the Taj Hotel, Chabad House, a synagogue and hostel run by an American rabbi and his wife. Major Iqbal chose the target. His objective, the global jihad against Jews and Americans.

Headley had his GPS unit with him. He input the location for the attackers. And with that, his job in Mumbai was done.

[. . .]

SEBASTIAN ROTELLA: The police were able to intercept the attackers’ cell phone calls. This is when they overheard the conversation with one of the hostages.

[. . .]

SAJID MIR: All we want is to stop operation and let’s negotiate. We must speak to—

NORMA: What is it that you want to negotiate?

SAJID MIR: Just sit back and relax and don’t worry, OK? Maybe you’re going to, you know, celebrate your Sabbath with your families.

SEBASTIAN ROTELLA: The prisoner swap didn’t happen. Then another call from Sajid Mir. This time, he’s speaking in Urdu.

SAJID MIR: [subtitles] Go on. I’m listening. Do it. Sit them up and shoot them in the back of the head. [Sound of gunshots]

Then this from the segment concerning  Headley’s scouting for a proposed  al Qaeda attack on the Jyllands-Posten offices in Copenhagen. He had been visited by his ISI handler, Mir and Iqbal, a month before the Mumbai attack for a jihad attack in Europe.

SEBASTIAN ROTELLA: He acted like a tourist, recording his trip and narrating the images along the way.

[. . .]

 But his true intent was to case the city and this newspaper, Jyllands Posten. Four years before, it caused outrage across the Muslim world by publishing 12 cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. The plan was for Headley to get inside the newspaper to plot its destruction.

Headley would take two trips to Copenhagen in 2009. But between the two, he changed allegiances. Back in Pakistan, his sponsors were under suspicion after the Mumbai attacks. Sajid Mir and Major Iqbal called off the Copenhagen plot. They told Headley to lay low.

But he went looking for a new sponsor instead. He found one, a notorious terrorist named Ilyas Kashmiri, who has since been killed by a U.S. drone strike. Headley was now working for al Qaeda, which paid for his second trip.

[. . .]

It’s very chilling, you know, because Headley gathers all this information — the videotape, the notes — and he goes back to Pakistan and he meets with one of the most fearsome terrorists in the world [the late], Ilyas Kashmiri. And they have a detailed conversation about how this plot would go down.

It’s Mumbai-style, three or four attackers with automatic weapons who go in and take hostages, but add a wrinkle, which is the beheading of hostages. Kashmiri says, “You shoot the hostages first. It makes it easier to behead them. You behead them, and you throw the heads out the window. Why? Of course, for the shock and the awe and the terror. This would be an international spectacle here in the heart of Denmark that will be seen by the world.”

With his new al Qaeda connection, Headley ended up meeting with extremists who were under surveillance. In the summer of 2009, Danish intelligence shadowed his every step. Now the FBI was now watching him, too, from when he returned to Chicago in August, until one day when he went to the airport.

He was on his way back to Pakistan. In his bag, he was carrying his Denmark surveillance footage. October 9, 2009, here at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, federal agents arrested Headley.

Posted on 11/25/2011 5:55 PM by Jerry Gordon
Friday, 25 November 2011
Cairo rally: One day we'll kill all Jews

Its Friday, its outside a mosque, what do we expect? From Ynet news.

Arab hate: Muslim Brotherhood rally in Cairo's most prominent mosque Friday turned into a venomous anti-Israel protest, with attendants vowing to "one day kill all Jews." Some 5,000 people joined the rally, called to promote the "battle against Jerusalem's Judaization." The event coincided with the anniversary of the United Nation's partition plan in 1947, which called for the establishment of a Jewish state.

However, most worshippers who prayed at the mosque Friday quickly left it before the Muslim Brotherhood's rally got underway. A group spokesman urged attendants to remain for the protest, asking them not to create a bad impression for the media by leaving.

Speakers at the event delivered impassioned, hateful speeches against Israel, slamming the "Zionist occupiers" and the "treacherous Jews." Upon leaving the rally, attended were given small flags, with Egypt's flag on one side and the Palestinian flag on the other, as well as maps of Jerusalem's Old City detailing where "Zionists are aiming to change Jerusalem's Muslim character."

Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen, as well as Palestinian guest speakers, made explicit calls for Jihad and for liberating the whole of Palestine. Time and again, a Koran quote vowing that "one day we shall kill all the Jews" was uttered at the site. Meanwhile, businessmen in the crowd were urged to invest funds in Jerusalem in order to prevent the acquisition of land and homes by Jews.

Throughout the event, Muslim Brotherhood activists chanted: "Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, judgment day has come."

Speaking to Ynet outside the mosque following the prayer, elementary school teacher Ala al-Din said that "all Egyptian Muslims are willing to embark on Jihad for the sake of Palestine. Why is the US losing in Afghanistan? Because the other side is willing and wants to die. We have a different mentality than that of the Americans and Jews," he said.

Posted on 11/25/2011 1:39 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 25 November 2011
Syrian Pilots Assassinated

From The Jerusalem Post:


Syrian military says air force personnel killed during strike which "proves foreign involvement in revolt against Assad."

BEIRUT - The Syrian military said on Friday that 10 air force personnel, including six pilots, were killed in an attack on a base and said the action proved foreign involvement in the eight-month revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule.

"An armed terrorist group undertook an evil assassination plot that martyred six pilots, a technical officer and three other personnel on an air force base between Homs and Palmyra," a military spokesman said on state television.

The attack took place on Thursday afternoon but the spokesman gave no other details about how the assault took place.

"This confirms the involvement of foreign elements and their support of these terrorist operations in an effort to weaken the fighting capabilities of our forces," he said.

The Syrian army has been struggling to quash what began as peaceful protests against the Assad family's 41-year rule, in which some 3,500 people are estimated to have died.

But they are facing an increasing number of attacks by army defectors who say their aim is to protect demonstrators. Damascus says some 1,100 of its security forces have been killed.

The spokesman said the "enemies of the nation" had benefited from the attack, particularly Israel.

"The army is always ready to protect the security of the nations and its citizens and to cut of the sinful hand that targets Syrian blood and threatens the security of its homeland," he said.

Posted on 11/25/2011 9:56 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 25 November 2011
Advertisers Flee "All-American Muslim"

Bob Unruhe writes in WND:

"All American Muslim" a new program on The Learning Channel that is being touted as a "powerful series" that carries viewers "inside the rarely seen world of American Muslims," is being dropped by advertisers. [Sears, Wal-Mart, Home Depot and others have dropped support for program.]

Critics say the program is nothing more than video jihad propaganda, and the Florida Family Association says it is contacting companies whose advertising appears on the show to ask them to quit. So far, 18 of 20 companies contacted have done so, the group said.

The organization said that among the companies that initially supported the program, but later did not have any advertising aired, were Airborne Vitamin, Amway, Diamond Foods, Dyson Vacuum, Estee Lauder, HTC Phones, Home Depot, McDonald's, Petsmart, Pfizer, Sears, Sonic, T-Mobil and Wal-Mart.

The Florida group said it sent out an email alert to constituents only a week ago, who then contacted the sponsors.

"The Learning Channel's new show 'All-American Muslim' is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Shariah law," the organization's report on its work said. "The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish."

The association cited a "troubling scene" in which a Muslim police officer stated, "I really am American. No ifs, ands or buts about it."

"This scene would appear to be damage control for the Dearborn [Mich.] police who have arrested numerous Christians including several former Muslims for peacefully preaching Christianity," the association report said.

"Dearborn police falsely arrested Nabeel Qureshi and Paul Rezkalla in 2010 and Sudanese Christian Pastor George Saieg in 2009 for preaching Christianity at the annual Arab International Festival," the report said.

The association's suggested message from consumers to sponsors said the show is trying to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad and Shariah, which is Islamic religious law...

Posted on 11/25/2011 6:18 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Showing 51-76 of 398 [Previous 25] [Next 25]

Join leaders of the American Middle Eastern community to endorse

Donald J. Trump
for President of the United States

and spend an evening with his foreign policy advisors featuring
Dr. Walid Phares
and other surprise campaign guests.

Monday October 17th

Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street Northwest
Washington, DC 20008

cocktails at 6pm - dinner at 7pm
Business casual attire

$150 per person / $1500 per table

Sponsored by the American Mideast Coalition for Trump

Buy Tickets