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edited by S.B. Kelly
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Thursday, 31 March 2011
Aymenn Corner
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I have indeed been banned from the increasingly pusillanimous  Harry's Place - all intelligent and articulate critics of Islam are banned, while stupid and illiterate ones remain - but I still read it occasionally, and I read this:

The commentator Horowitz refers to in his article opposing ODS is one ‘Ali Sina’, a Canadian-based Iranian blogger endorsed by Robert Spencer and by Mary Jackson, who denounces all Greeks as ‘corrupt thieves’, has been banned from commenting at Harry’s Place and writes at the New English Review.

The horror. This would be the same New English Review that you write for? Or is it some other?  Perhaps you are trying to "change the system from within", like all those Socialist hedge fund managers - or perhaps you are just hedging your bets.

As for Greeks being corrupt thieves, as far as Britain is concerned, they and the rest of the siesta countries of the EU certainly are. Greece falsified its accounts in order to get into the EU, so it could qualify for EU subsidies from hard-working Britons, and now a bailout from the hard-working Germans. That is robbery.

Sooner or later, Aymenn, you are going to have to get off the fence. Your bread is probably buttered on the other side.

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Posted on 03/31/2011 1:19 PM by Mary Jackson
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Thursday, 31 March 2011
Pseudsday Thursday
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Here is a song by someone or something called IAMX. The song is "I Salute You Christopher", and subtitled "An Ode to Christopher Hitchens". Thanks to Jeremy Harding, who appears to take it seriously:


I salute you, Christopher I salute your life/ How you played the dice. / Your words will live in us / timelessly insane / explosive, fresh, and wise. / Some will just forget / some will close their eyes / some will turn the tide. / I salute you Christopher / whiskey raised and downed / You risked, and you took the crown / Console yourselves / that a scientific death is better than a fairy tale / of the eternal life / Control yourselves / because the man in the sky is a tyrant and a lonely psychopath / dreamed up to steal your minds / A horseman on a trial / A brilliant gentle wreck / with a brutal mouth for press / No submit, no compromise / Saint Christopherof the truth / and the destroyer of smoke screens and threats / They will learn to see in time / they will think before they refuse / the civilization rules / I salute you Christopher/ I declare you as our King / or Queen, depending on your mood...

This is all I could find. I don't know if those three dots mean there's more. Perhaps: "...depending on your mood/ I salute you Christopher, even though you could sometimes/Be rather rude./ I salute you Christopher, though none can/ Say you're well/ But plenty in better health could not/Write such a Hitch-free book on Orwell."

You hum it and I'll sing it.

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Posted on 03/31/2011 12:24 PM by Mary Jackson
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Thursday, 31 March 2011
Just A Reminder To The Alawites
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The Massacre of the Military Artillery School at Aleppo - Special Report
SHRC

On 16th June 1979, in collaboration with a number of the Combatant Vanguard (Attali’a el-Moukatillah) headed by Adnan Uqla, Captain Ibrahim  el-Yousuf, the officer on duty (in charge of moral and political steering and head of Ba’ath Party Unit) at the Military Artillery school, located at el-Ramouseh district in Aleppo province, committed a massacre, killing 32 cadets and wounding 54 others. The culprits targeted cadets from the Alawite sect, however the then minister of information Mr. Ahmad Iskander Ahmad stated that they included Christians and  Sunni Muslims.  

The then Syrian minister of the interior, Mr. Adnan Dabbagh accused, in an official statement on 22nd  June 1979 the Muslim Brotherhood Organisation for being behind the killings. He said: “ The latest of their (Muslim Brotherhood)  assassinations was that in the artillery school in Aleppo, where they were able to bribe a member of the armed forces, Captain Ibrahim el-Yousuf, who was born in Tadif, a village in the Governorate  of Aleppo. They utilised his presence and his powers on the day when he was duty  the officer at the school. On the evening of Saturday 16 June, el-Yousuf was able to bring a number of criminals of the Muslim Brotherhood organisation into the school. He then called the cadets to attend an urgent meeting in the mess hall. When they rushed from their beds in response to his orders and came to the hall, he ordered his criminals accomplices to open fire. Automatic weapons were fired and hand grenades were thrown. In a few moments, 32 unarmed young cadets were killed and 54 wounded.” 

On their part, the Muslim Brotherhood Organisation denied any knowledge of the carnage prior to its occurrence, they also denied any involvement in a statement distributed two days later, on 24th June 1979. The statement was entitled: A Statement from Muslim Brotherhood about facts finding and history testimony regarding the artillery school incident in Alepp “The Muslim Brotherhood organisation was surprised, exactly as the others were surprised at the campaign launched against them by Adnan Dabbagh, the Syrian minister of the interior, accusing them of treason and treasury …, charging them  with things  which he is well aware that they have nothing to do with. He blamed them for the carnage committed at the artillery school and also the assassinations that took and are still taking place in Syria.” 

In their statement, Muslim Brotherhood made clear that the group that committed the carnage, including Ibrahim el-Yousuf  are well known to the Syrian authority, and that they have nothing to do with Muslim Brotherhood: “a- Captain Ibrahim el-Yousuf  who committed the carnage at the artillery school in Aleppo is known as an active member of the (ruling) Syrian Ba’ath Party. He has not any connection with Muslim Brotherhood. So, why his actions are imputed to Muslim Brotherhood ? “ 

In the aforesaid statement, the Brotherhood challenged the Syrian authority to give any evidence about their involvement in the massacre: “ The Muslim Brotherhood challenges any authority in the world to prove, via neutral inquest, whether their leadership or members have ever committed violence; nonetheless the Syrian rule have found many adversaries who believe in the use of violence.”   

Twenty years later, the present leader  general of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood Mr. Ali Sadruddin al-Bayanouni defended his organisation’s innocence when interviewed by “ No Frontiers”  programme transmitted by  Aljazeera satellite channel on 7th July 1999: “the Syrian authority made us responsible for incidents which we have nothing to do with, like the artillery school massacre, despite the fact that we issued a statement revealing our position. Those who committed the carnage left their statements”, he said Mr. Husni Abo, the leader of the “Combatant Vanguard” who was arrested after the massacre and executed in prison in 1980,  said in a televised interview (while still in custody) broadcasted by the Syrian TV in 1980  that he had not approved the massacre. It is said also that Mr. Abdusattar el-Zaim who was killed by the authority near Damascus (1979) and who led the Vanguard after the death of Marwan Hadid in prison (1975) was also against executing the massacre. In the meanwhile Adnan Uqla was very determined to carry out the action. He planned for the massacre and committed it in collaboration with Captain Ibrahim el-Yousuf. 

Immediately after the massacre, a country-wide campaign was started to uproot  the Muslim Brotherhood organisation. In two weeks time, the authority had already arrested about 6000 citizens. Fifteen Muslim Brotherhood members already in prison were executed. The decree issued by the supreme state security court on 27th June 1979, some of whom had been in jail since 1977 all of them have nothing to do with this issue. 

Cairo radio commented on the Syrian authority’s executions on 10th July 1979: “ The Syrian authorities have tried to put the blame for the massacre on the Muslim Brotherhood so as to divert attention from the covert conflict between Alawis and Sunnis within the Syrian party… The members of the Muslim Brotherhood who were executed recently had been detained in Syrian prisons since 1977 and had no connection with the artillery school incident.” 

The Brotherhood’s statement we quoted, regarded the accusation as a pre-arranged plot made by the authority to trap and condemn the Muslim Brotherhood: “ Numerous Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders and members have been detained for months, and some of them for years. Is the announcement issued by the authority yesterday no more than a plot to condemn them (Muslim Brotherhood) with something they have not done ?”

The Syrian authority linked between the artillery school massacre and the external opposition supported by the Egyptian president regime of Anwar Sadat, because of the former  refusal to sign a peace treaty with the Zionists as the latter did: “ These people moved immediately after the (Egyptian-Israeli)Sinai agreement (signed in September 1975). Their criminal actions escalated following al-Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem (in November 1977), and again following the signing of the shameful and humiliating agreements with the Zionist enemy. They began a series of assassinations in Syrian cities, in Aleppo, Hama and Damascus. The victims included innocent citizens in various walks of life and of diverse employment.”  

The brotherhood’s response was very critical : “ It is incredible  to accuse the Brotherhood of  dealing with Israel, however , their struggle on the land of Palestine is known to all, meanwhile the others (Syrian authority) bear the responsibility of the successive defeats.”  “ The (Syrian authority) claims that the Brotherhood are acting in favour of Camp David treaty is refuted by the fact that they are the only party  who sincerely and insistently  refuse a Jewish state on even  a foot of the Palestinian land.” 

The Combatant Vanguard members (Attalia Almoukatilah) wrote their organisation’s name on the board in the mess hall,  recording their responsibility for the operation, leaving literature that confirmed their liability and disclosed their motives behind the massacre. Moreover, a year later on 11th June 1980, Adnan Uqla confirmed the Vanguard’s responsibility for all military actions taken, including the massacre at the artillery school. He stated: “ The Combatant Vanguard has its independent leadership since its conception in 1975, the Combatant Vanguard is the only party responsible for the historical confrontation resolution with the ignorance (Syrian regime)…” 

Names of  the main figures who planned and executed the massacre of the artillery school in Alepp

1-       Adnan Uqla : born in 1953, an architect, resident of Aleppo, his family come from southern Syria. His membership in Muslim Brotherhood was terminated either in 1974 or 1977 because of his opinions regarding the armed confrontation with the Syrian regime.

2-       Captain Ibrahim el-Yousuf: An active member in the Ba’ath Arab socialist party and the officer of moral and political steering  at the artillery school. He was born in Tadif village in the governorate of Aleppo. It was said that his brother was killed by the Syrian authorities and he determined to avenge him. Other sources said that Adnan Uqla convinced him to work for the Combatant Vanguard.

 

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Posted on 03/31/2011 12:06 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 March 2011
Mr. Rennert Writes, For The Umpteenth Time, To Mr. Brauchli
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Dear Mr. Brauchli:
 
Janine Zacharia, the Washington Post's Jerusalem correspondent, concocts a conjectural piece entirely with anonymous sources that Israel somehow hopes that Bashar Assad will emerge from spreading anti-government protests in Syria still firmly in power ("Israel, no fan of Assad, may prefer that he stay" March 30, page A8).
 
While acknowledging that Assad has been allied with Iran in providing massive amounts of rockets and other weaponry to the Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebaon, on balance, Zacharia concludes, Israelis feel they're better off with him than with some problematic Islamist or radical successor.  After all, he's maintained quiet on the Syria-Israel border for decades.
 
"Israelis have been forced to confront the notion that they may well be better off with him than without him," she writes.
 
To support her thesis of an Israeli tilt toward Assad, Zacharia quotes an unnamed cabinet member as predicting that Assad will survive the current unrest.  She also cites a comment from an unidentified "senior Israeli military commander that "we've had a dictator, but it's been very quiet."  But even he -- whoever he may be -- stresses that "it's absolutely clear to us that the Syrians play a negative role in the region."
 
Thin gruel indeed to substantiate the headline and Zacharia's conclusion that Israelis would prefer to see Assad remain in power.
 
But it gets even worse.
 
Zacharia's only clearly identified source totally rejects her notion that Israelis think they're probably better off with Assad than with any likely successor regime.
 
Ehud Ya'ari, a commentator on Arab affairs for Israel's Channel 2 television station, tells her that "A different regime is not naturally an ally of Hezbollah and the Iranians.  People would very much like to see Assad gone and his whole regime replaced.  That doesn't mean they don't have concerns about what's coming next."
 
Ya'ari, however, appears at the very end of her piece -- well after she has written the very opposite of his view that Israel would be better off with Assad gone.
 
Zacharia -- had she chosen to do so -- could have written a a totally different conjectural piece that Israelies "would very much like to see Assad gone" by quoting Ya'ari at the top of her article instead of at the bottom.
 
I suppose she figured she could make a bigger splash in the Washington Post by concocting a piece about Israelis supposedly wishing to see Assad remain in power.
 
But all this theorizing is totally beside the point.  Israelis are realists.  They've got Assad's number and know that, whatever happens, they will continue to live in a tough neighborhood.  Wishful thinking is not their wont.
 
What is more reprehensible in Zacharia's piece than her concoction of a phony lead based entirely on anonymous sources is outright anti-Israel bias in dealing with real threats Israel faces on both its northern border with a Lebanon under Hezbollah's sway and on its southern border with Hamas-ruled Gaza.
 
Zacharia writes that Israel, in publicizing Hezbollah's huge arsenals of missiles in southern Lebanon, would like to avoid "the kind of international rebuke it received after it launched an operation in late 2008 to try to stop Palestinians militants from firing rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israeli towns.  About 1,300 Palestinians were killed in that offensive."
 
For the second day in a row, Zacharia tosses in a "Palestinian" fatality count on the high end of various estimates that fails to tell readers that most of those 1,300 Palestinians were operatives of terror groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.  Fewer than half were civilians, according to both IDF and Hamas reports.
 
She similarly injects a misleading bit of history when she writes that Heabollah has been expanding its weapon arsenals in southern Lebanon, "all since 2006, the last time Israel attacked the Shiite militia."
 
Again, no mention that Israel attacked Hezbollah in 2006 to put a halt to numerous cross-border attacks by Hezbollah into Israel after Israel's complete withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000.
 
Thus, Israel is painted as killing only "Palestinians" -- not terrorists in Gaza, and Israel ends up being the aggressor against  Hezbollah in 2006 without mention of  prior provocations by Hezbollah, like crossing the border to kill and kidnap Israel soldiers. 
 
Distorted anti-Israel history a la Zachaira and the Washington Post.
 
Leo Rennert
 
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Posted on 03/31/2011 11:25 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 March 2011
A Musical Interlude: You Was Right, Baby (Peggy Lee)
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Listen here.

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Posted on 03/31/2011 11:18 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 March 2011
Save Iran -- Bomb Iran (A Continuing Contretemps)
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In the heady days and weeks of the Green Revolution, and the Islamic Republic seemed to some just about  to topple because of demonstrators in the streets, Amil Imani was among those most hopeful. So hopeful was he that he took issue with those -- well, with me -- for suggesting that the one thing that would ensure the permanent survival of the Islamic Republic of Iran would be the attainment of nuclear weapons. For this would make the regime impossible to dislodge militarily, and within Iran, would cement the support of the Muslim masses, who would be so proud of such an achievement. No land invasion of Iran is necessary, but military strikes, to supplement Stuxnet, and from on high, could be undertaken, especially now that Sunni regimes and peoples in the Gulf are so exercised about Shi'a Iran and its real or perceived troublemaking and threats to the wellbeing of local Sunnis in Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq. 

I don't know if this position still disturbs Amil Imani, or whether he's reconsidered his earlier reliance on street demonstrations to overturn the regime in Iran. A Russian patriot could have ardently desired American -- or later, during that dustup on the Ussuri River, even Chinese -- attacks on the Soviet Union. A German patriot could right up to 1945 have ardently wished for military attacks on Nazi Germany to succeed -- have rooted for Bomber Harris and those raids on Hamburg, Dresden, Cologne, Berlin. But many Iranians in exile seem to be unwilling -- Amil Imani is not alone -- to call for such military strikes. Why that should be, why they are incapable of understanding -- like those young "pro-democracy" Arabs who fail to understand who is most likely to be able to take advantage of a weakened state, or like those secular and Mossadeghesque Iranians (Ghotbzadeh et al.) who thought they would take power in Iran, only to find themselves outmaneuvered, and outnumbered, by Khomeini and his sinisiter associates who knew they had the support of the primitive and unhinged-by-oil-wealth masses.

Perhaps he has had time to think about this some more. Or not.

Here, re-posted, iust to remind readers, is the article about Iran that was prompted by remarks from Amil Imani, an article intended to continue the contretemps. Only he knows if he still holds to his original position. I see no reason to change mine.

Save Iran - Bomb Iran

by Hugh Fitzgerald (January 2010)


In remarks published at this site recently, the Iranian-American exile, Amil Imani, a fearless apostate, and a patriot (who wishes both his former country, Iran, and his new country, America, well), argues that it would be misguided for either the United States or Israel to bomb the nuclear project of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He is totally opposed to such an action:

“Bombing the [nuclear weapons] facilities is the worst thing America and Israel can possibly do. By so doing, they throw the Mullahs a lifeline and hugely hurt the Iranian people.” A military attack would also solidify the Islamic world against America, Israel and the West. The best thing to do is to impose the measured but effective sanctions that I have listed above and provide moral and financial support for the Iranian opposition in Iran.”
I think Amil Imani, and other Iranians in exile who may share his views on this, are dead wrong, and that the interests, in some cases, of Iranian nationalists, even the most un-Islamic of them, and of the Infidels – the Americans and the Israelis above all, but not only the Americans and the Israelis – require that the nuclear weapons project, that has gone on, without any significant or long-term halt (whatever some in the C.I.A. may have tendentiously insisted a year or two ago) and the final achievement of which has become an obsession with the people who rule Iran, the remaining loyalists among the “akhoonds” (a term for a Muslim cleric, used only dismissively by Iranians in exile) and the ferocious Revolutionary Guards, called the Basiji.
For what Amil Irani should ask himself is this: what will be the consequences of the attainment of nuclear weapons by the people who run the Islamic Republic of Iran? It is not true that the Islamic Republic of Iran is on its last legs. It has demonstrated a ferocity – see Mohammad al Jaffari, see Shirazi, see Ali Larijani (just a few months ago breathlessly described as a “moderate” in the Western press), see assorted clerics who have not echoed the late Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, see many others. And see, too, how silent are the rural poor, the Iranian villagers who, it should not be forgotten, far outnumber the educated, or the being-educated, that is, the students of Tehran and Ispahan and a few other cities, and whose minds and hearts will swell with pride when the Islamic Republic of Iran acquires nuclear weapons, and perhaps even explodes one in the desert over, say, Baluchistan, just to make things clear to any Sunnis in that area, or to the southwest, in Khuzistan.
But, some Iranian exiles may insist that we will win, we are practically toppling the regime now. I don’t agree. I don’t think the regime is about to go. It would be nice to think so. But again and again, those who have been of a secular bent have always miscalculated the power of Islam, and those impelled by Islam. When Kanan Makiyya confidently predicted, for his Washington friends, a brand-new Iraq, sane and stable and grateful to the Americans, what was he thinking? He himself now says he did not understand, he did not appreciate, the realities of his own country. Could it be that, as someone who inhabited a world consisting of the moral and intellectual elite among the Iraqis in exile, and what’s more someone who had been not only out of Iraq, but out of the Muslim Arab Middle East for many years, he had forgotten the hold of Islam, and what the attitudes and atmospherics of Islam do to the minds of men, save for the remarkable few (such as Mithal al-Alusi), who must live in a society, a state, suffused with Islam?
Iran is not an Arab country. It has another, pre-Islamic identity, and the narrative of Iranian history, with its Darius and its Cyrus and its obvious monuments – Persepolis and similar places are hard-to-ignore evidence of the pre-Islamic history, and the Persian poets are held, in the Iranian national narrative, to have helped Iran withstand the cultural and linguistic imperialism of the Arabs, who benefited so often from all the ways in which Islam is, and always will be, a vehicle for Arab supremacism. When it came to Arab cultural and linguistic imperialism, the Iranians managed to repel it. But now a regime that has nothing to do with the history of Iran, and that has everything to do with the curse of Islam, could stay in power forever, or at least for many more grim decades, if it manages to obtain nuclear weapons.
Like Kanan Makiya, like Rend al-Rahim Francke, like perhaps even Ahmed Chalabi, Iranians who have spent years abroad come to believe, I think, that the regime must be crumbling. Vladimir Nabokov somewhere describes how like millions of other Russian émigrés, living in Paris, Berlin, Harbin, Prague, in the 1920s, he was absolutely convinced that the Bolsheviks would fall. They didn’t fall, not for another sixty years, and tens of millions of victims later. For years there have been those who claim to have inside dope about Iran, and “contacts with Iranian exiles” (think of Michael Ledeeen), and for years these people have been claiming that Iran’s regime is just about to fall. It should; it deserves to; it is a monstrous regime. But all the excitement of the demonstrations, the two weeks of them that followed the “election” of Ahmadinejad, and the recent smaller demonstrations that have caused such hope and such excitement and such premature anticipation, should not cloud minds that have to think about the consequences, and the consequences not only as they are viewed by Iranian exiles thinking only of how best to shake the regime, but of the security calculations that must be made by those responsible for protecting the people of the United States, of Western Europe, of Israel. The view, and the analyses, may be different; the interests may even be different.
I don’t think they are, however. I think that the greatest damage to the interests of Iranians in Iran, and in exile, that is those who want to remove the Islamic regime, is to see that regime manage to obtain that weaponry. I repeat: the Primitives always outnumber the advanced, secular classes. In Turkey, the secular class, after 80 years of uninterrupted and systematic constraints, of all kinds, put on Islam, find themselves under siege, find that Islam is back, despite Kemalism, and with a vengeance, discover that they, the secular class made possible by Kemalism, do not constitute a majority of Turks but more like one-quarter of the population, and that is not enough to resist the onslaught, clever and relentless, by Erdogan and the others we call “Islamists” but who should merely be called “the Turkish Muslims who take Islam seriously.” Just as the secular Turks miscalculated their power, secular Iranians miscalculate their power, or rather, they dismiss too readily the majority of Iranians who, while they may not be enthusiastic about the Islamic Republic, nonetheless will be so thrilled by Iran becoming a nuclear power (Kissinger appeared to be in favor) – a goal sought by the vainglorious Shah, and he might have received that nuclear information from America, and other forms of technical assistance, had he, the Shah, not been deposed by Khomeini by means of those tapes made at Neauphle-le-chateau, and the ruthlessness of Khomeini’s primitive brigades, who did such things as burn down the Rex Cinema (killing nearly 500 people trapped inside), deemed “decadent” for its perfectly innocent (but Infidel) movies.
Now the Iranian exiles should ask themselves this question: if the Shah had made his request for nuclear knowhow a few years earlier, and if his request had been granted, and if Iran had become a nuclear power, and if Khomeini and his bezonians had then managed to depose the Shah, they would have come into possession of such weaponry. And then where would the world be today? But, we are told, the epigones of Khomeini, the akhoonds and the Basiji, are on the ropes. Are they, really? And will they still be on the ropes if a nuclear bomb, an Iranian bomb, the Iranian, the Shi’ite, the Persian bomb, is dropped in the desert, or will they be hailed and hailed and hailed by the kind of people whose families supply the sons who go and become members of the Basiji, and enjoy smashing the skulls of those who like to watch Kierostami, or go skiing, or simply enjoy the book-learning of universities?
Let’s suppose that in the best of outcomes, the regime falls in Iran, and is then replaced by, say, a regime as close to that of the Shah, minus the corruption and minus Savak, as possible. Imagine it to be headed by the Shah’s son, who would take guidance from his charming francophone mother, the former Shahbanou. And imagine, too, that many Iranians in exile move back to Iran, determined to curb the power of Islam in Iran. Imagine even that, say, Abbas Kierostami, and a dozen other figures of similar stature, mimic the act of Emir Kusturica (who, though born into a Muslim family, and considered to be a Muslim, decided a few years ago to have himself christened as Serbian Orthodox because, he said, of course that was what his ancestors had been before being forcibly converted to Islam by the conditions of Ottoman rule), and decide to become Zoroastrians, noting that this is the religion of Iran, and that the conditions under which their ancestors were converted can well be imagined, and they thought it time to publicly demonstrate that freedom of religion, including freedom to jettison Islam, would now be protected, and so on. Stirring. Wonderful. But what would be the reaction, not to my imaginary scenario, but to something far more modest, if there were an attempt to re-secularize Iran, at least to the extent it had been under the Shah? Would the primitive masses of Iran easily acquiesce? If the Shah of Iran, that seeming pillar of stability, with that great oil wealth with which he attempted to make life better for the rural poor, could be followed by Khomeini (and the 30 years of hell that followed), why and if Khomeini and his epigones could then be followed, come the new regime, by the Son of Shah, then why could not the Son of Shah be replaced, ultimately, by another Khomeini-like figure, some Muslim cleric, or some military man nostalgic for Islam? In other words, Infidel lands that are the potential victims of Muslim nuclear aggression or nuclear blackmail, cannot rely on a change in regime, both because that change may not be quite so inexorable or impending as one may be led to believe, and because even if the change does come about, no Muslim country – even Iran – can be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, beyond the single unfortunate case of hideous Pakistan, a country which, however, is being vigilantly monitored and not being allowed to acquire more potent and effective means to deliver such weaponry.
It may be painful for those who are Iranian patriots to hear from those who wish them well that nonetheless we do not wish them so well that we are willing to accept their assurances, and their hopes, about the use of nuclear weapons. And it may seem presumptious, too, that a non-Iranian who does not know Farsi, and cannot possibly have the kind of contacts that Iranians in exile have, nonetheless is unwilling to go along with the hopeful enthusiasm and belief in an impending change in regime or, to some still more outrageously, saying that it doesn’t matter what regime Iran comes to have, because it still is a country, like Turkey after 80 years of Kemalism, still possesses masses who are Muslim, and who are susceptible to the siren song of Islam, even to a “return to Islam” as has happened, alas, in Turkey.
The series of assumptions made by Amil Imani and other Iranian exiles, including those who have shed their Islam forever, when it comes to the nuclear bomb project of the Islamic Republic if Iran (IRI), need to be examined. First, the assumption that the regime is teeter-tottering, and any day now, before the acquisition of nuclear weapons, that regime will fall. This is not a given. Then there is the assumption that even if the regime is still in power when those nuclear weapons are finally produced, and perhaps even tested, that will have no effect on the ability of the regime to withstand those who wish to overthrow it. Really? When I claim that such a feat will win the Iranian regime all kinds of support, formerly lukewarm, among the primitive masses (50% of the Iranian people? 60%? 70%?), outside of the major cities, what is the reply? Is it that most Iranians will not be thrilled by such an achievement, Iran now a nuclear power, for all to see? Oh, they will be thrilled. They will say to themselves, well, yes, the elites of North Tehran and the exiles may think one way, but the Islamic Republic makes us proud, proud, proud. When one reads the observations on Iran and Iranians by acute foreign students, such as Sir Reader Bullard and A.K. S. and J. B. Kelly,-the one aspect of national character that is always mentioned is that of pride.
One source of Western woe has been the naïve belief that Islam can be permanently constrained. It keeps coming up from under the ice like Rasputin under the Neva. It keeps trying to return, in the Shah’s Iran, in Ataturk’s Turkey, in Egypt under both the ancient regime of fat Farouk and then under the stratokleptocrats of Nasser and Naguib, and then just Nasser, and Sadat, and Mubarak with his Friends-and-Family Plan. The mistakes have been shared both by Western specialists, and by the secularists themselves. Bernard Lewis has spent much of his life studying modern Turkey, and he did forefeel the return of Islam (the title of an early essay in “Encounter”), but he surely has been surprised at how thorough and rapid has been the assault on Kemalism in Turkey. And so have the Turksih secularists themselves, who never expected to be threatened as they now feel threatened. And the power of Islam can be seen in post-war Iraq, where not the secularists (how many votes did Mithal al-Alusi receive when he last ran?) but the parties connected to particular Islamic sects are in the ascendant, though to read some of the secular Iraqi bloggers, of course writing in English in order to influence American policy, you would think that the secularists would soon be shown to be in control. But it isn’t so. The wishful thinking, all over the lands of Islam, of the secular and the Westernized is remarkable. Having managed to jettison Islam themselves, they refuse to recognize its fantastic and continued hold on the minds of others, of so many others.
Not only should the Americans bomb the nuclear project of the Islamic Republic of Iran, for their own good and siffucieint reasons. But they should do so, pace Imani, pace many other Iranians in exile, because it is the one thing that will so humiliate the regime in the eyes of its own people, that it will not recover. Oh, I’m sure in the first weeks, even for several months following such an attack, there will be a Rally-Round-the-Flag effect. Some of the less sober Iranian dissidents will ostentatiously declare their outrage, and some may declare their outrage and add that “we were on the verge of winning and now this” which will be a convenient way to explain, and lay blame for, the regime’s sturdy ability to resist those who would overthrow it.
But what happens after those weeks or months are over? How likely is it that the aggressive regime of Ahmedinejad , Khameini, Jaffari, Shirazi, Larijani, will be able, once it has been proven impotent, and its most important program, the focus of the entire regime, upon which vast sums have been spent, and yet now, though it will not be entirely destroyed, will have been so damaged as to be set back, by many years, and what’s more, the regime, like Saddam Hussein after the destruction by Israel of his nuclear reactor in 1981, did not dare to again pursue nuclear weapons, but abandoned it, knowing that Israel meant business and would attack again. If the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear project is attacked, it need not be completely destroyed for the attack to be a great success. The attack need only buy time, and also make clear to the Iranians that the Western world, beginning but not ending with the United States and Israel (ideally, acting in concert), mean business.
The regime will have lost face, and will also have been seen to have squandered tens of billions of dollars on a project that has in the end came to nothing. It is surely not beyond the wit of the Iranians in exile, and of the Iranians in opposition, to make that point, again and again, and to explain that whatever other horrors the Islamic Republic has inflicted on those it rules, it has also wasted the country’s patrimony on its attempt at weapons acquisition of a kind that would inexorably call forth the kind of response that the smoldering soil of Natanz reflects. The regime will become no longer feared, but a figure of fun, of ridicule, of waste, and this will be understood not only in Teheran, but in the villages all over Iran. And the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has shown its ferocity, and shown it can withstand the students and their supporters, of every age and type, in the streets, will not be able to withstand the destruction of everything it has been working for, by the implacable military power, the planes, rockets, and missiles, deployed in a good cause by Infidel nation-states that are not kidding around, and are fully prepared to use them, in order to deny Iran or any other Muslim state, the possibility of acquiring weapons of mass destruction, prepared to use them, if necessary, again and yet again. 
The most farseeing of the dissidents should not oppose, but ardently hope for, a military attack on the nuclear project that, if it succeeds, will only ensure the survival of the Islamic Republic of Iran for many more unendurable decades of cruelty and misrule.
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Posted on 03/31/2011 10:57 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 March 2011
Amil Imani On Those Missing Muslim Moderates
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From FamilySecurityMatters:

March 30, 2011

The Missing Moderate Muslims

 
 “I am already against the next war,” read the bumper sticker on a car ahead of me. I long to tell the driver: the next war is already here; Islamists are waging it in every corner of the globe and the “moderate Muslims” are either actively supporting them, placing the blame on the West, or simply looking the other way. This war aims to wipe out everything that free people cherish, including the right of expressing their sentiments. Banishing war has been the perennial dream of mankind’s best, while its worst have been frustrating its realization. To renounce war unilaterally and unconditionally is surrender and death.

Humanity has suffered horrific wars in the past. Yet, the present multi-form and multi-front war waged by Islamists has the potential of inflicting more suffering and destroying more lives than any before it. Ruthless Islamic forces are advancing rapidly in their conquests while those of freedom are acquiescing and retreating. Before long, Islamism is poised to achieve its Allah-mandated goal of cleansing the earth of all non-Muslims. Any and all means and weapons are to be enlisted in the service of this final holy war that aims to establish the Islamic Ummah.

But Islam is a religion of peace and the great majority of Muslims are not party to any plans and actions of the radicals, so claim academic pundits, leftist journalists, and hired Islamic apologists. The incantation of these “authorities” is the lullaby that puts the people into a sleep of complacency. For an average free human busy with all manners of demands on his time and resources, would hardly want to worry about the threat of Islamism when those he believes are “in the know” emphatically claim that there is nothing to worry about. Some of these advocates of Islam go further by accusing those who sound the alarm as racist, bigot, hatemonger and much more.

But where are all the peace-loving moderate Muslims that supposedly are in great majority? The Muslims who are neither jihadists themselves, nor do they support them? I and others, time and again, have been calling upon them to stand up and show the world that they oppose the fanatical Islamists. It is small comfort even if the vast majority of Muslims are not fanatic radicals, when they do nothing to demonstrate their position. It is instructive to recall that it is invariably a minority, and more often than not a very small minority, that launches a campaign of death and destruction.

Perhaps it is wishful thinking on the part of the non-Muslims to believe that one can be a Muslim moderate, given that Islam is radical at its very core. To be a moderate Muslim demands that the person explicitly renounce much of the violent, exclusionary, and radical teachings of the Quran. By so doing, the individual issues his own death warrant in Islamic countries, is condemned as apostate if he lives in a non-Islamic land and may even earn a fatwa on his head.

It is deadly, in any confrontation, to assess the adversary through one’s own mental template, because the two templates can be vastly different from each other. People in the West are accustomed in relativistic rather than absolutistic thinking. To Westerners, just about all matters range from black to white with an array of gray shades between the two poles. To Muslims, by contrast, nearly everything is in black and white and with virtually no shades of gray. The former type of thinking is typical of more mature minds, while the latter is that of young children and the less-enlightened.

This absolutist thinking is enshrined in the Quran itself. When the starting point for a Muslim is the explicit fanatical words of Allah in the Quran, then the faithful are left with no choice other than literally obeying its dictates or even taking it to the next level of fanaticism. Good Muslims, for instance, do not shake hands with women, even though the Quran does not explicitly forbid it. Although the Quran stipulates that men are rulers over women, good Muslim men take it upon themselves to rule women not much better than they treat their domesticated animals.

All extreme systems operate outside of the constraints of checks-and-balances and according to the principle of negative feedback loop. That is, once it starts, the extreme becomes more and more extreme until self-destructs and takes the larger system down with it. Cancer is a case in point. It begins with only a few cells. Left unchecked, the few cells continue expanding and stop only with the death of the host.

Fanatical Islam may indeed be a minority. Yet it is a deadly cancer that has metastasized throughout the body of the world. Urgent confrontation of this advancing disease is imperative to stave it off.

Dozens of Islamist shooting wars of lesser and greater bloodletting are presently raging in the world, aided and abetted by the “moderate Muslim” majority. The so called moderate Muslims, even if they exist, are complicit in the crimes of the radicals either by providing them with funds, logistics, and new recruits or by simply failing to actively confront and unequivocally renounce them.

As is the case with cancer cells, it is the malignant minority that is death-bearing.

In Germany of the 1930s, for instance, very few people were Nazis and most Germans dismissed them as a bunch of hot-headed fools. Before long, the hot-headed few cowed in the dismissive masses and as a result millions lost their lives.

The tentacles of the Islamist hydra have deeply penetrated the world. The Egyptian-based Muslim Brotherhood poses a clear threat in Egypt with its large block of representatives in the parliament, but also wages its deadly campaign through its hundreds of well-established and functioning branches all over the world.

The Wahhabis finance thousands of madressehs throughout the world where young boys are brainwashed into becoming fanatical footsoldiers for the Petrodollar-flush Saudis and other emirs of the Persian Gulf.

The end-of-the-world believers of the bomb-aspiring Iran’s Khomeinism are busy establishing the Shia hegemony in an arc extending from the Gulf of Oman to the Mediterranean Sea.

Al Qaeda and dozens of its like-minded jihadists relentlessly carry their barbaric campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, the Philippines, the former Soviet Union republics, the Russian federation, Somalia, North Africa and parts of Europe, as well as other lands.

I keep hoping that the purported peace-loving moderate Muslims are indeed the great majority who would prove me right by demonstrating their peacefulness and moderation in action. Thus far, only a faint murmur of equivocation is all that I hear from these people.

Are “moderate Muslims” an illusion? The only viable alternative for peaceful people of Islamic background, therefore, is to leave the bondage of violent Islam altogether and join ranks with humanity’s free.

The selected puppet president Ahamadinejad boasts that Iran’s mullahs’ nuclear train has no reverse gear and lacks brakes. He should harbor no illusions. The non-Islamist masses of Iranians will not docilely submit to the mullahs’ maniacal plans. It is the unmatched force of freedom that has no reverse gear and it is the force fully capable and determined to bring the mullahs’ train to a screeching halt before it is armed with the Armageddon nuclear weapons they so doggedly pursue.
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Posted on 03/31/2011 10:52 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 March 2011
Sunnis And Shi'a Doing What Comes -- In Islam -- Naturally
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From The Economist:
 
Sectarian bad blood

Regional tension shakes Iraq too

Mar 31st 2011 | BAGHDAD

Baghdadis want to have their say too

STILL recovering from its own bloody sectarian strife, Iraq has been rattled by events in Bahrain, where a mainly Shia protest movement has been quelled by the island kingdom’s ruling Sunni minority, backed by forces from Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf states. After the Saudi troops moved into Manama, Bahrain’s capital, in mid-March, Iraqi members of parliament fired off a string of angry speeches.

Politicians from Iraq’s Shia majority, including a former prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, castigated the Saudi intervention. Some Sunni, Kurdish and Christian members of Iraq’s parliament also condemned the Saudis, but the speaker, Osama el-Nujaifi, who hails from a leading Sunni family in Mosul, Iraq’s strongly Sunni city in the north, decided to close parliament down for ten days. Some Iraqi politicians, including Iyad Allawi, a Shia who leads the main Sunni block in parliament, said that a hiatus was required to stop sectarian tension boiling over in parliament.

But it is still bubbling. Politicians and religious leaders have continued to respond to events in Bahrain along sectarian lines. Muqtada al-Sadr, a populist Iraqi Shia cleric with a big following who leads his movement from a temporary home in Iran, has castigated the intervention too. Members of his political party have called for Bahrain’s embassy in Baghdad to be closed, whereas Haider al-Mulla, a Sunni MP, blames the uprising in Bahrain on Iranian interference and says that Iran’s embassy in Baghdad should be shut.

The prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, a Shia who spent several years in exile in Iran, has also slammed Saudi Arabia, embarrassing his own ministry of foreign affairs by disparaging so powerful a neighbour ahead of a summit of the Arab League planned for May. Far from curbing his language, Mr Maliki later went on to say that the Saudi intervention in Bahrain could lead to a sectarian war in the region.

The authorities in Bahrain have since suspended flights to Iraq, as well as to Iran and Lebanon, where Hizbullah, the Shia party-cum-militia which underpins Lebanon’s current coalition government, has praised Bahrain’s protesters. Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbullah’s leader, enraged Bahrain’s ruling al-Khalifa family by likening it to Libya’s Qaddafis. This, said Bahrain’s foreign minister, Khalid al-Khalifa, was tantamount to a “terrorist threat”. Hizbullah, he claimed, was training Bahrain’s opposition; the leader of one of Bahrain’s more radical opposition movements, al-Haq, had stopped off in Beirut to meet Hizbullah people on his way back from exile in London to Bahrain. Newspapers in the Gulf say the authorities in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have deported several hundred Lebanese Shia expatriates.

Iraq’s parliament has now reopened but the row has weakened a coalition government that is in any case built on a fragile ethno-sectarian power-sharing agreement. More than a year after elections, no defence or interior minister has been appointed. Iran, it is said, has been promoting its own candidate for the interior ministry, whereas the defence ministry was promised to Mr Allawi’s Sunni-backed block. But Mr Maliki has rejected several of Mr Allawi’s nominees. Although the prime minister has a firm grip on the security services and has been trying to expand his own executive powers, he is looking more isolated as erstwhile allies complain that he has broken the promises he made when he was putting his ruling coalition together.

Mr Sadr has sought to capitalise on Mr Maliki’s weakness by making himself look less sectarian, for instance by holding press conferences alongside Mr Allawi. The Sadrists have also declared themselves in favour of a freer press and have sounded sympathetic towards protesters on the street. If relations with Mr Maliki worsen, the Sadrists may throw their weight wholeheartedly behind the protesters, who have so far been mainly secular. But some of them say they would work with Mr Sadr’s anti-Western religious movement if that would help their cause.

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Posted on 03/31/2011 10:23 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 March 2011
When An Al-Sabah Meets An Al-Sabah Going Through The Rye
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Kuwait government resigns to avoid parliament grilling

Mar 31, 2011

 

Cairo/Kuwait City - The Kuwait government resigned on Thursday, the official news agency KUNA reported, after parliament filed an application to question three ministers.

The cabinet had been expected to quit after the ministers, all relatives of the emir, were set to to be grilled by legislators over allegations of impropriety and administrative violations.

Among the cabinet members due to be questioned was Oil Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Abdullah al-Sabah, who also serves as Information Minister.

Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah was expected to accept the resignation and reappoint Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah to form a new government, according to Kuwait media.

It is not unusual for parliament to try to call ministers to account for their actions. However, the ruling family considers it a breach of their honour if a relative of the emir has to justify himself to the legislature.

In addition to the oil minister, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad al-Sabah and the minister for economy, construction and development, Sheikh Ahmed al-Fahd al-Sabah, had been called for questioning.

Several members of parliament have said the motion had nothing to do with the upheavals in the Arab world.

But Shiite Muslim opposition lawmaker Saleh Ashour said he wanted to question the foreign minister because he had 'failed to safeguard the integrity and interests of the country in the face of insults from Bahrain,' according to the Kuwait Times.

Ashour said that highly offensive statements were made against a number of Kuwaiti Shiite families, his included, on Bahrain state television over the weekend.

Kuwait sent troops to Bahrain, after a request by the government there was made to neighbouring Gulf States, to help quell anti- government protests led by the Shiite majority against the Sunni minority monarchy.

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Posted on 03/31/2011 9:25 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 March 2011
CAMERA On Akiva Eldar, One More Israeli Who Cannot Bear To Face Reality
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From CAMERA:

Eldar on Who Started the War

Eldar Arab League.jpg
The August 2001 bombing of Sbarro pizzeria

In his column Monday berating the Israeli leadership for not having accepted the Arab League initiative, veteran Ha'aretz journalist Akiva Eldar provides another example of his selective vision ("Arab peace initiative is another missed opportunity for Israel"). He writes:

Instead of making peace with all the Arab states, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon launched a war against the Palestinians the day after the March 2002 Arab League summit: In response to the murder of 30 Israelis in the Hamas suicide attack at a Passover seder in Netanya's Park Hotel, he ordered the army to reoccupy the territories (Operation Defensive Shield ).

That is an interesting take on reality. If Eldar considers Operation "Defensive Shield" the launching of a war against the Palestinians, how does he describe the year and a half-long terror offensive directed against Israel which preceded the operation? In Eldar's mind, was the murder and carnage of Israelis on buses, cafes, and pizzerias, and the firing of rockets at Israeli towns -- which first began in the beginning of 2001 -- simply the normal course of affairs?

Eldar's sentence reflects his worldview in which methodical and institutionalized Palestinian violence against Israelis is natural and acceptable. Yet, when Israel responds (after 135 Israelis were murdered in one month alone), and attacks in return in order to defend its citizens, and not to murder innocent civilians indiscriminately, Eldar accuses Israel of "launch[ing] a war."

-- By Yishai Goldflam

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Posted on 03/31/2011 9:17 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 March 2011
Among The Twittering Masses
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There is this funny comment on Assad's speech:

"What about yesterday. One of #Assad's "parliamentary" goons crossed the line... "Labayaka ya Bashar". Blatant Shirk."

Here's how you are supposed to say it.

 

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Posted on 03/31/2011 9:07 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Thursday, 31 March 2011
Youths in punch-up on council coach trip to Blackpool
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From The Express and Star

A group of Asian and Muslim teenagers started a fight in Blackpool after being taken on a taxpayer-funded trip to the seaside resort to stop them causing trouble at an English Defence League march in the Black Country. Please stop trying to kid us that there were Hindu and Sikh youngsters in the troop – we are not stupid! But during their day-long excursion, they were involved in a fight which left father-of-two Derrick Brownhill unconscious and with bruising and swelling to his face and head, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard. The trip cost the public purse more than £2,113 and saw the group, who were aged 17 and 19 and from the Tipton and Oldbury areas, accompanied by a police officer and officials from the council.

Prosecutor Mr David Swinnerton told the court that “The five defendants were part of a group of 19 Asian and Muslim males specifically taken to Blackpool by a police officer and five other officials from Sandwell Borough Council for the purpose of distracting them from anti-social behaviour on the day of the EDL march in Dudley.”

At the time of the violence, two of the gang were on bail for a hammer attack in Tipton that took place three months before the Blackpool incident.Three of the defendants were jailed for up to 21 months by Judge Amjad Nawaz yesterday, who told them:
“There is nothing more disturbing than to have to sentence a dock full of young people just past their childhood years having engaged in offences of such severity that custodial sentences are inevitable.”

The Telegraph has their names and a little more about what they actually did. They are:- Riad Hussain, Wasim Telhat, Fahad Atiq, Raja Rashid and Mazahar Taheir.

. . . the group confronted Mr Brownhill, a father of two, who was travelling on a coach parked nearby that had travelled from the Kingswinford area of the West Midlands. . . Mr Brownhill was punched and hit with such force by Riad Hussain that both feet left the ground and he was unconscious for a brief period. Members of the group were heard chanting racist comments towards the coach, in earshot of Mr Brownhill's pregnant partner, two young daughters and a group of elderly people

Councillor Derek Rowley, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for safer neighbourhoods, said: “Clearly, this was a very unfortunate incident which we totally condemn. We have a duty to foster good community relations and we will continue to work with local people and all our partner organisations towards that aim.”

He said the men were sent to Blackpool because it was thought they could be aggressors as well as targets. During the EDL march in Dudley, a 16-year-old girl suffered a broken leg, six protestors were hit by a car and 21 people were arrested.

If I remember correctly the speeding car, which scattered protestors one of whom was the girl whose leg was broken was driven by a man of Asian appearance, accompanied by a passenger ditto. I do not recall hearing of their eventual arrest.

It (Sandwell Council) said although it had no plans to do anything similar in the future, it would have to consider removing young people from situations in an attempt to prevent them from getting into trouble.

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Posted on 03/31/2011 3:14 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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Wednesday, 30 March 2011
...And in sports...
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Even those who, like me, know absolutely nothing about cricket can take pleasure in India's win over Pakistan in the semi-finals of the World Cup. 

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Posted on 03/30/2011 11:36 PM by Artemis Gordon Glidden
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Wednesday, 30 March 2011
A Musical Interlude: Keepin' Out Of Mischief Now (Lee Wiley)
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Listen here.

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Posted on 03/30/2011 11:06 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 March 2011
In Libya, The Rebels Flee, And Expect The West To Do Much Of The Fighting
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From The Los Angeles Times;

Libya rebels flee eastward by the hundreds

Kadafi's forces appear poised to take Port Brega after pushing the opposition fighters out of Ras Lanuf, another oil refinery city.

 
 

Dispirited rebel fighters continued their headlong retreat across eastern Libya on Wednesday, surrendering a strategic oil city they captured just three days earlier and fleeing eastward by the hundreds.

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi appeared poised late in the day to seize a second oil refinery city, Port Brega, as rebels in gun trucks near the city turned and fled at the sound of exploding rockets and artillery. Kadafi's men had pushed rebels out of Ras Lanuf, site of a petrochemical complex and port, on Wednesday morning.

Escaping rebels poured through the western gate of the crucial crossroads city of Ajdabiya, where allied airstrikes Saturday ended a 10-day government siege. Some rebels vowed to make a bloody stand in the nearly deserted city, but others fled in panic.

Most of the rebels in Ajdabiya have retreated 130 miles from Ras Lanuf. Since early Tuesday, rebels have backpedaled more than 200 miles in a desperate attempt to avoid confronting Kadafi's better-armed and better-trained forces.

The rebel effort is plagued by confusion and dissension. Clusters of volunteer fighters bickered over tactics and weapons Wednesday, with many refusing to take orders from defecting army regulars nominally in command. Others demanded to know why allied warplanes were not attacking their enemy, and why tanks and rocket batteries captured from Kadafi's men were not being used.

Rebels in gun trucks with antiaircraft guns, heavy machine guns and recoilless rifles seemed unwilling to fire on advancing government troops. Many of the rebel gunners seemed content to melt away and hope — or pray, as one said — that allied airstrikes would save them.

It was unclear how far Kadafi would push his forces and expose his men and weapons to allied warplanes in the flat, open desert between Port Brega and Ajdabiya.

The chaotic retreat sent rebel vehicles speeding past burned-out hulks of government tanks, rocket launchers and troop carriers destroyed in allied airstrikes at Ajdabiya. It was uncertain Wednesday whether warplanes had attacked government forces pushing relentlessly eastward.

"We're hearing that the planes are bombing near Ras Lanuf," said Ashral Kwaifi, an oil engineer-turned-rebel at a checkpoint north of Ajdabiya.


But Kwaifi acknowledged that the information was little more than conjecture. With no cellphone coverage in the war zone, rebels often repeat rumors spread by passing motorists.

Last weekend, airstrikes cleared the way for a rapid rebel advance by demolishing government armor. Late Sunday, rebel fighters were within 50 miles of Surt, Kadafi's hometown and with a well-defended garrison. The rebels had advanced 150 miles in less than 24 hours.

But they have been running from government forces since. Among those fleeing were soldiers who defected last month from Kadafi's army in eastern Libya, men who opposition leaders say are leading undisciplined rebel forces.

Many rebels have rebuked regulars and commandos brought in by Kadafi's former interior minister, Gen. Abdul Fatah Younis, a defector whom opposition leaders describe as the rebel commander. They say they don't trust Younis or his troops because of their longstanding service to Kadafi.

Some rebels accused commandos and army defectors of hoarding tanks and Grad rocket systems abandoned by Kadafi's fighters during the airstrikes. Those heavy weapons have not been seen at the front.

"Where are our tanks and Grads?'' asked Hamsa Mohammed Cherkasi, 25, a rebel fighter just outside Port Brega, as the crash of government artillery sounded nearby. "That's all we have to stop these Kadafi people, but the army is keeping them for itself."

At an army base in Benghazi, Yahya Abdulsalam, a rebel guard, said nine captured government T-72 Soviet-made tanks inside the garrison could not be operated because rebels didn't know how to turn on the engines.

"We're trying to find some soldiers who know how to use these tanks, but the only tanks they know are the older ones," Abdulsalam said.

As a safeguard against a coup, Kadafi outfitted army units in eastern Libya with old, outdated or poorly maintained weapons.

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Posted on 03/30/2011 10:54 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Shia MPs To Be Put On Trial In Bahrain
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From The Telegraph:

Bahrain hardliners to put Shia MPs on trial

Bahrain is facing renewed turmoil after regime hardliners began preparations to put on trial Shia legislators accused of backing protests.

Bahrain hardliners to put Shia MPs on trial
Ali Salman, the Shiite opposition head has warned Iran and Saudi Arabia against using his country as a 'battlefield' in a proxy war Photo: AP
 

The kingdom’s parliament effectively stripped 11 MPs from the Wefaq party – a quarter of the legislature’s sitting members – of their immunity from prosecution, signalling a further hardening of the ruling family’s position.

Western human rights activists also accused the regime of torturing wounded protesters being held in a hospital in the capital Manama.

Bahrain has declared martial law and called in troops from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to quell protests that have left at least 24 people dead.

Saudi officials say they gave their backing to Western air strikes on Libya in exchange for the United States muting its criticism of the authorities in Bahrain, a close ally of the desert kingdom.

Ali Salman, the Shiite opposition head has warned Iran and Saudi Arabia against using his country as a "battlefield" in a proxy war.

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Posted on 03/30/2011 10:23 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 March 2011
The War In Libya (Autres Temps, Autres Peurs)
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Watch, and listen, here.

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Posted on 03/30/2011 9:38 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Sunni Hostility Toward Shi'a (And Alawites), Openly Expressed, Unsettles Syria
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From The Washington Post:

In Syria, many uneasy about where struggle for power might lead

By Leila Fadel, March 29

CAIRO — When anti-government protesters buried their dead last week in southern Syria, their chants made clear that the divisions now coursing through Syria run even deeper than politics.

“No Iran,’’ they shouted. “No Hezbollah. We want Muslims who fear God.’’

To anyone listening, the message was unmistakable: that the quest to topple the Assad family also reflects years of pent-up grievances among majority Sunni Muslims who resent the power held by the minority Alawite sect.

That sectarian tension lies behind some of the passions now exploding in Syria as President Bashar al-Assad seeks to appease an angry population. But it also explains the apprehension being voiced by many Syrians uneasy about where a struggle for power might lead.

On Tuesday, as Assad offered new concessions to his opponents, thousands of Syrians gathered in downtown Damascus to show support for a leader whose family has kept a tight lid for more than 40 years on a country with a potentially explosive mix of religious sects and ethnicities.

Assad hails from a dynasty of Alawites, the minority sect that makes up no more than 16 percent[correction: no more than 12 per cent, and possibly as little as 10%] of Syria's population of mostly Sunni Muslims with a sprinkling of Christians and Druze. The challenge now being mounted by opponents is the most serious yet to the Assads’ grip on power, but it is also prompting warnings that any regime change in Syria could ignite internal violence.

“The Syrians have looked into the abyss, and they realize that Bashar al-Assad is not going to step down, that the Alawite regime is not going to go away, and in order for it to go away, they would have to go through a civil war,’’ said Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma.

Activists say the government is trying to ignite unease by portraying their democratic movement as a sectarian one. The government has described the protests as a foreign “conspiracy” and a “project to sow sectarian strife.”

But there is evidence that the possibility of such clashes has unnerved some Syrians.

The Sunni Arab elite of Syria largely supports Assad, seeing him as an agent of stability and economic reforms. That is now threatened as foreign companies begin to pull out their staffs and tourists flee.

Religious minorities worry that if the Sunni majority came to power, Syria could become a repressive Islamic state. They would rather continue to live under the current system, sacrificing their freedoms in a secular and repressive state, than risk what might follow if Assad is ousted.

As a minority we know that under a regime that is also a minority at least there is a secular system we’re comfortable to live under,” said a Christian resident of Damascus.

Now it is pretty safe and people do not have problems with each other,” he said. “That’s because we know in the back of our minds if sectarian violence did break out it would be bad and it would be long term.

Protesters have continued to press for reforms. On Tuesday, Assad accepted the resignations of his cabinet ministers, as he sought to contain the most serious threat to his rule since he assumed power nearly 11 years ago.

The action, reported on state TV, marks the latest concession by Assad since protesters forced a string of political promises from his government, including a pledge to lift a 48-year-old emergency law. On Saturday, Assad released hundreds of political prisoners and pulled back security forces from the city where Syria’s unrest began this month.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton expressed “strong condemnation of the Syrian government’s brutal repression of demonstrators” who had joined the uprising. But the Obama administration has made clear it has no plans to press for a no-fly zone similar to the one in Libya.

“Our preference is to let these things play out as a Syrian process, not one imposed by us,” said one administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to candidly discuss policy.

So far, the Syrian opposition has tried to keep protests united under the banners of freedom and nationalism. But as anger grows over violent government crackdowns that have killed at least 60 people, an undercurrent of sectarianism is slowly bubbling up.

The chants of mourners last week in Daraa, the center of the burgeoning unrest, revealed the majority’s anger at being ruled by a minority religious group, and at their leaders’ close ties to Shiite Iran and to Hezbollah, the Shiite militia in southern Lebanon.

And last weekend, armed men rampaged through the port city of Latakia, where Alawite communities surround a predominantly Sunni city center that has a small community of Christians. At least 12 were killed in the rare outbreak of violence.

There is the fear of sectarianism, and then there is the fear of the regime,” said Yassin Al-Haj Saleh, a Syrian intellectual and member of the opposition who was imprisoned for 16 years.

“This type of thing pushes many people to identify with the regime, to ask for protection from the regime, and the regime is completely aware of this,” he said. “This is their strategy.”

Ghimar Deeb, a lawyer in the capital, dismissed the idea of underlying sectarian tensions and said Assad needs time to implement reforms. “I believe this case that we’re living through right now will make Assad and Syria stronger and more Syrian,” he said.

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Posted on 03/30/2011 8:53 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 March 2011
A little more about that vandalised Hindu temple in Auburn, where Muslims now comprise 40 % of the population
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There are more details about the state of siege endured by the Shri (or Sri) Mandir Hindu Temple in Auburn, in the western suburbs of Sydney, in the original Sydney Morning Herald report, which I will reproduce here to supplement the account that has already appeared on this site.  I will also supply a little extra background information on the temple itself, the current demographics of the suburb, and Hinduism in Australia.

From the Sydney Morning Herald's 'religious affairs' reporter, Leesha McKenny.  There is a photo at the link.

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/fear-strikes-as-temple-showered-in-bullets-20110329-1ceuo.html

"Fear strikes as temple showered with bullets".

'The bullet holes can still be seen on the exterior of Auburn's Sri Mandir Temple'.

'Less visible are the marks left by the shot that made its way inside Australia's first Hindu temple, when it was peppered by about eight rounds.

Visiting the Temple website, I discovered that it was built in 1977.  It is indeed Australia's first known Hindu place of worship, although Hindu Indians, as well as Sikhs, have lived and worked in Australia since the 19th century - CM.

'The bullet ricocheted from the roof and hit the carpet - not far from a scorch mark left by a firework once thrown through the doors opened for worshippers, who are now protected from the frequently hurled bottles and eggs by a metal screen.

This is unconscionable. No-one should have to put up with that level of harassment, on Australian soil.  - CM.

'Two men in balaclavas were captured firing the shots on the night of March 19 by the temple's CCTV cameras.

'A police spokeswoman said detectives were working closely with the community as part of investigations into the incident.

'The president of the Council of Indian Australians, Yadu Singh, said the shooting was a sign that attacks on the temple were becoming more serious.

'There were no worshippers in the building at the time of the shooting - unlike an incident last November when two windows were smashed by people armed with metal bars.

Smashing windows with metal bars, while there are people inside the building thus attacked.  That is only one step from hitting people with iron bars. - CM.

"The bottom line is that something needs to be done, because it is not a one-off", he said.

"We have a right to exist; we have a right to practise our religion".

Hire guards, Mr Singh, and a couple of big black dogs, and wait.   See who you catch: citizens' arrest.  Make sure there are a lot of you, in case whoever you catch attempts to summon an insta-mob. - CM.

'The temple's priest, Jatinkumar Bhatt, who lives on the site, said he had been harassed by youths (hmmm - 'youths' - I wonder what kind of 'youths'? Chinese Buddhist or Taoist youths? Indian Hindu youths? Lebanese Muslim youths? Turkish Muslim youths?  Muslims comprise 40 percent of the population of Auburn, according to recent information. - CM)  but he was scared by the shooting. "I have a family as well, three kids and my wife", he said. "Throwing eggs and bottles is an ongoing process (why is anyone allowing it to be an ongoing process? The police in Auburn need to lift their game - CM) but this bullet really put us in a panic."

'A Granville resident, Yogesh Heer, who was in the temple when it was attacked in November, said he was contacted by a concerned family in India when news of the shooting made the country's press.

'Indian nationals Vijaya Patel and her husband Kanti Lal Patel, who have been attending the temple every day during their visit with Sydney relatives, said they were surprised and insulted by the attack.

'The 35 year old temple hosted an interfaith meeting attended by the Member for Auburn, Barbara Perry, as well as local Muslim and Christian groups earlier this month.

'The building was shot up about 10 days later'.

Question.  Which community does one suppose is more likely to take up a gun and fire shots into a Hindu temple?  The Christians or the Muslims?  And which community's 'youth' would be more likely to throw bottles and eggs at people or buildings? - CM.

'Ms Perry said the Hindu temple was well respected in Auburn'.

I think if Ms Perry were able to become a fly on the wall in the Gallipoli Mosque in Auburn, which is described as 'one of Sydney's busiest mosques', and heard what Muslims say behind closed doors to one another, about Hindus, she might not be so sure about that 'respect' and how widespread it is. - CM.

And a few extra details on the relentless campaign against the temple, and the predictable effect that it is having, from the 'Press Trust of India'.

'Tension after bullets fired at Hindu temple in Oz'.

'Melbourne: The Hindu community in New South Wales is worried about a series of attacks on one of Australia's oldest temples, the Sri Mandir Temple in Auburn.

'Security cameras captured two men in masks (hmmm - are they locals, who don't want to be identified? - CM) firing shots at the temple on the night of March 18.

On the night of March 18. That was - I just checked my calendar - a Friday night.  Hmmm.  After Friday 'prayers' let out at the mosque, perhaps...- CM.

'Rohit Revo, a Sydney resident and an editor of a local Indian newspaper, 'The Indian', says the temple has been attacked several times since 2004.

'Of the most recent, he said in his paper, "A few bullets hit the wall at the temple entrance, just a feet (foot?) away from the main door.  One of the bullets grazed through the wall and ricocheted hitting the emergency door on the side of the temple...a bullet was also fired on the roof of the temple which found its way through the false ceiling inside the temple".

'No-one has been killed or seriously injured so far, but the tension is beginning to keep worshippers from visiting the temple...".

Which, if this campaign - as I strongly suspect - is being carried out by the local Muslims, would be precisely what the attackers want to happen.

Now, what kind of place is Auburn, these days?

According to wikipedia  "Auburn prides itself as one of the most multicultural communities in Australia.  The traditionally Anglo-Celtic European population has slowly been replaced by a high percentage of immigrants from Turkish, Lebanese and Vietnamese backgrounds."  The Turks and the Lebanese being, of course, overwhelmingly Muslim.

"Auburn also has fast-growing Somali, Bosnian, Iraqi, Iranian, Afghan, Sudanese and Chinese communities".

The Chinese would be Buddhist, Taoist/ Confucian, or Christian; a good few of the Sudanese would be Christians, and a few of the Iraqis; but the Somalis, Bosnians, Iranians and Afghans would be wall-to-wall Muslim, as would the majority of the Iraqis.

I found a reasonably recent estimate of the religious demographics.  Auburn is 40 % Muslim (Sydney as a whole is 4 %).  21 % of the population is Catholic (compared to 34 % for Sydney as a whole), persons of no religion comprise 10 % (13 % in Sydney generally), Buddhists make up 8 % of Auburn's population (as opposed to 4 % in Sydney as a whole), and Anglicans comprise 6 % (versus 23 % in Sydney overall).  So the suburb is 40 % Muslim, 27 % Christian (if one combines the Anglican and Catholic percentages), 10 % nonreligious and 8 % Buddhist.  Seemingly the number of Hindus living in the suburb was regarded as too small to register.

I think that when one looks at those figures, and recalls what is happening to non-Muslims in other parts of the world where Muslims have reached a similar percentage of the population (indeed, trouble often begins when Muslims  reach something like 10 %) one realizes that there is probably worse ahead, not only for Hindus in Auburn and their temple, but for everyone else who is identifiably non-Muslim.  And no matter how many 'interfaith meetings' - hopefully hosted by Hindu temples, Christian churches and Jewish synagogues - are attended by smiling and plausible Muslim 'religious leaders', trouble is surely coming.

To slightly adapt something that Mr Fitzgerald has frequently said, here and elsewhere:  "The large-scale presence of Muslims in parts of Australia has created a situatiion, for the indigenous non-Muslims, and for non-Muslim immigrants also, that is far more unpleasant, expensive and physically dangerous than would be the case without that large-scale presence".

Post scriptum.  The firing of shots at the Sri Mandir Temple is not the first time that shots have been fired at a non-Muslim place of worship in this heavily-and-increasingly-Islamised part of Sydney.

During the so-called 'Cronulla riots', shots were fired at the St Joseph the Worker Primary School in South Auburn, while people were attending a Christmas carols event. 

To quote a 'Sky News' report from December 2005, as recorded at Jihadwatch

http://www.jihadwatch.org/2005/12/australia-shots-fired-at-church.html

- "People attending a Christmas carols event at St Joseph the Worker Primary School in South Auburn heard what sounded like gunshots.  Two of the school's staff members later discovered bullet holes in their cars and more than 20 shells were recovered from the scene.  The Catholic Church says it is especially concerned at the targeting of Christmas celebrations at a school attended by children as young as five.  The Carols service at Holy Spirit Primary School in Lakemba (nota bene - Lakemba is another heavily Islamised suburb, with a very large mosque - CM) has now been cancelled".  

And so, as with the frightening away of Hindus from the Sri Mandir Temple in 2011, Muslim - I will put my reputation on the line and say confidently that it was Muslim - terrorism had the desired effect: the manifestation of a non-Muslim faith was suppressed.

The Skynews report didn't give the half of it, either: in the comments at the jihadwatch discussion, an Australian offered the information that as the annual Christmas concert was getting underway, 'some carloads of Men of Middle Eastern Appearance rolled up and started to abuse the parents and children.  When the people had rushed inside the hall - some gunshots were fired. The holes are still in the building (and some cars parked outside got the bullet holes as well."  And another poster noted that the church of St Joseph the Worker was mostly used by Lebanese Christians.  

 

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Posted on 03/30/2011 7:23 PM by Christina McIntosh
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Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Muslim Piracy Extends Its Area Of Operation And the Governments Do What Exactly? Oh Yes – Nothing At All
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This from The Telegraph, Calcutta, India:
 
The 53 Indian sailors in Somali pirates’ captivity could be much closer home than believed.
 
The pirates are now operating closer to the Indian coastline than ever before, perhaps less than 100km from Lakshadweep, the Centre has indicated. Security agencies are investigating suspected links between these pirates and Pakistan-based terror groups. They believe that the Somali insurgent group Al Shabaab, which controls large swathes of the east African country and generates funds through piracy, has al Qaida connections.
 
“A few recent incidents (involving Somali pirates) have taken place about 250 nautical miles from the Indian coast,” foreign minister S.M. Krishna said on March 10 in a written reply to a question from Congress MP Motilal Vora.
 
This would put the pirates’ area of operation within 50-100km of Lakshadweep, somewhere near the Maldives. Officials said pirate vessels had been sighted around the smaller islands in the Maldives, where the pirates “had developed significant support structures” among the native population.
 
This, they said, allows the pirates to hold hijacked ships and their crews for months while negotiating for ransom. Krishna said the pirates were “operating further and further off the Somali coast” and had “extended their reach to 16,000-19,200 km from the Somali coast... to bypass the security corridor established by international naval forces in the Gulf of Aden”.
 
The government said the navy and coast guard had stepped up vigil and jointly launched the “Ops Island Watch” last December 13, neutralising two pirate “mother ships” and capturing 43 pirates. The operation will be on till the end of this month.
On January 28, the coast guard rescued 20 Thai crew members of a fishing trawler and arrested 15 Somali pirates near Lakshadweep.
 
The Indian hostages’ plight came up for discussion in the Rajya Sabha on March 10, with Krishna assuring all parties that the Centre would “do everything possible” to get them freed.
 
“There is no use getting worked up or getting excited or getting emotive,” he said when BJP member S.S. Ahluwalia asked if India would use force against the pirates.
Krishna said any emotional response could put hostages’ lives at risk and cited how a US assault on some pirate-held ships had led to the death of four hostages. India, therefore, would have to depend on back-channel negotiations and on the ship owners.
 
“That is the only way we can operate,” the minister said, ruling out a deadline for securing the hostages’ release. He hinted that the release of hostages, including 11 Indians, from the MV Rak Africana on March 10 had been secured through the payment of a huge ransom by the ship’s owner.
 
Some of the 53 Indian hostages have been in captivity for nearly a year. They were captured from the hijacked MV Iceberg, MV Suez, MT Asphalt Venture, MV Sinin (all of which fly the Panamanian flag) and MT Savina Caylyn (which flies the Italian flag).
 
Many of their family members were in Parliament on March 10 to demand that the Centre ask the shipping companies to speed up negotiations. New Delhi says its missions are in regular touch with the shipping companies. Officials said 124 Indian sailors had been released by pirates since 2008.
 
The UN Security Council and the International Maritime Organisation are working on preventing piracy. An Indian Navy ship has been deployed in the Gulf of Aden since 2008.
 
You can find the same story in the Somaliland Times.
 
What I find entirely reprehensible is the reluctance of our politicians to admit first of all that there is a serious problem with piracy in Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean and then to admit further that something, other than simply paying up, must be done about it.
 
Piracy has been acknowledged by us civilised people for centuries as being one of the top five worst crimes that can be committed and yet it seems that our governments are telling us that we must respect the pirates and treat them as if they were civilised and our equals. That must rank as just about the most stupid thing to say or believe that any western politician has ever advanced.
 
As evidence mounts that some of the money the pirates steal from us in ransoms is making its way into the pockets of East African Muslim terrorists (is there any other kind) and that entire coastal communities are living off the proceeds and abandoning their traditional means of earning a living it is becoming more and more obvious that something needs to done.
 
I am NOT advocating, at the moment, that we go in with all guns blazing and slaughter the damned Muslim pirates – tempting in one’s anger though that scenario is, and I would not care, if we had to enact such a thing, one jot or tittle about any collateral damage as there is no such thing as an innocent person in the pirates’ home communities for all, without exception as far as I can see, support the pirates’ actions and benefit from them in one way or another.
 
No, what I strongly suggest, at the moment, should be done instead of such violence is the unilateral imposition by the western powers of a twenty mile limit for Somali ‘fishing’ boats. Any Somali ‘fishing’ boat found outside that limit should be blown out of the water without warning and without mercy. Somali boats wanting to fish in deeper waters should be required to gather at one or two points on the edge of the limit zone where western armed marines should check the boats thoroughly for armaments and issue licences to proceed valid only for a set number of days or hours and which must be displayed clearly at the top of the mast of such boats. Any boat contravening its licence should be, again, blown out of the water without warning and without mercy.
 
What is more, any western company or person found to have paid, aided in the payment of, or commissioned the payment by a third party of, a ransom should be fined the minimum of the same amount and have its vessel, and its cargo, permanently confiscated by the government of the jurisdiction wherein it primarily functions.
 
Of course, I have a great deal of sympathy for the illegally imprisoned crews and their families, but no ransom should ever be paid in such circumstances. Had the first few ransoms never been paid then this situation would not have developed into the dangerous, and far-reaching, threat to us that it has.
 
However, it should go without saying that no ransom should ever, under any circumstances, be paid to a Muslim. Enforcing such laws against piracy might just bring this widespread Muslim immorality back under control again. It won’t fix the problem permanently because is Islam is, by definition, immoral, but it should re-impose the necessary control over this particular piece of Islam inspired criminal behaviour and teach the Somali Muslims that they cannot break the Laws of the Sea with impunity.
 
Just in case anybody reading this thinks that the problem is tiny and irrelevant let me just remind you that in the first three weeks of this year 25 very large ships were attacked by Somali pirates (http://allafrica.com/stories/201102220846.html) and the situation has become even worse since then – even the amateurish, vile and biased BBC is forced, reluctantly, to admit that the situation is out of control:
 
... is any real progress being made in the fight against piracy off Somalia? The statistics are not encouraging.
 
Currently at least 30 ships are being held, along with more than 700 hostages.
 
And something has changed in the last few months.
 
The pirates are using around eight so-called mother ships, far out to sea - large captive vessels with hostages onboard that allow them to stay in business during the violent monsoon winds.
 
Wing Cdr O'Kennedy says the rewards are just too tempting for Somali pirates to be deterred by a handful of international warships patrolling over 4m[illion] sq km.
 
"What we are dealing with here is a business model that is so good, that for a matter of tens of thousands of dollars you can put together a pirate action group, you can send it to sea and if you are lucky and hit the jackpot, you can come back with a vessel that within six months will bring you a return of nine-and-a-half million dollars.
 
"We are the first to admit we are not deterring piracy."
 
This violent, murderous (oh yes, hostage crewmen have been murdered in cold blood by these immoral and unG-dly Muslim criminals), ongoing and ever expanding piracy (theft of what is ours) will, unless checked, have a real impact on us and on world trade generally.
 
Also from the BBC:
 
... one of the richest-ever cargos of crude oil was seized off Oman, worth $200m.
 
The capture of the Greek-owned Irene SL is the fourth time an oil supertanker has been pirated.
 
"We could very quickly be reaching a point where we're going to have to call for seafarers to refuse to sail into this area," says Mike Dickenson, from the seafarers' union Nautilus.
 
"Now what will that mean for the world economy? Well that means ships can't go into the area, that means we have an oil shortage again, maybe then people would take notice, maybe when the supermarket shelves start to empty, when there is no petrol in the forecourt, then people will realise how critical the shipping industry is."
 
This Muslim piracy, so redolent of that which went on in the Mediterranean a couple of hundred years ago, naturally enough worries Lloyds, the insurers, but they are also getting rattled by the effect the Libyan situation might have on protection measures:
 
INTERNATIONAL anti-piracy naval patrols will be stretched by increased military operations off Libya, according to senior shipping industry sources.
 
So there you have it. The one big question remains – when will our disgusting Islam loving politicians stand up and start ordering some strong measures to protect our countries from this horrible threat?
 

This year? Next Year? Sometime? Never?

The bold emphases are mine.

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Posted on 03/30/2011 4:36 PM by John M. Joyce
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Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Magnificat
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Paws for thought from The Sun:

Her roars of contentment have left her owners reaching for earplugs and unable to watch television or talk on the phone when she is nearby.

‘She has always been very vocal and purrs at some level nearly all the time,’ said Ruth Adams, who adopted Smokey from a rescue centre for her ten-year-old daughter, Amy.

‘She even manages to purr while she eats. The only time she is quiet is when she is asleep.

‘When I’m on the phone, friends often ask what the loud noise is. They can’t believe it is coming from a cat.’

Most cats purr at about 25 decibels but Smokey averages more than 80 and has been recorded at a deafening 92 – the same as a hair dryer.

‘It’s either adorable or annoying, depending on what mood you’re in,’ said Mrs Adams, who also shares her house with husband Mark, two children, two dogs and two other cats. ‘You don’t even have to stroke her to start a purring session – often she’ll do it for no reason.

‘It can be annoying if her loud purring starts as you are watching television and it has reached a romantic bit in a film, because it’s impossible to hear and spoils the moment.’

Smokey, 12, did not seem bothered by the noise, although it sometimes made her cough, said Mrs Adams.

‘It’s not just the volume of her purr which is unusual – she makes quite a unique sound, as if she has a dove stuck in her throat,’ she added. ‘My daughter thinks it is adorable.’

The family, of Pitsford near Northampton, has now sent an application to Guinness World Records. ‘The record for the loudest scream by a human is 129 decibels,’ said a record official.

‘If Smokey the cat is able to purr at over 80 decibels, it would be an astonishing feat.’

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Posted on 03/30/2011 2:11 PM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Muslims for Israel
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In its wildly optimistic search for that demmed elusive moderate Islam, Harry's Place trumpeted an organisation called British Muslims for Israel. At first I thought this was a joke, like Turkeys for Christmas or Queers for Palestine. Actually, Queers for Palestine is real, but it's still a joke. Here he is on Israel National TV (h/t Gates of Vienna)

I'd put money on this chap being sincere. Even the most practised taqiyya-artists do not praise Israel; it sticks in their throat. But I suspect that like the Judean Popular Front in Monty Python's Life of Brian, he is on his own. And he may not be long for this world.

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Posted on 03/30/2011 1:46 PM by Mary Jackson
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Wednesday, 30 March 2011
A Musical Interlude: Untitled Jam Session (Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Jack Teagarden)
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Listen here.

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Posted on 03/30/2011 1:56 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 March 2011
As Always, Tom Friedman Emotes And Self-Promotes
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Tom Friedman's house blend of stupidity, ignorance, banality, obviousness, and self-promotion  is as comical as ever. He never disappoints. comical aspects his columns never disappoints. And above all, for Tom Friedman, the I's always have it.

Here, from today's vaporings In "Looking For Luck In Libya": the characteristic tom-friedmanian note:

""That thought came to my mind as I listened to President Obama...."

"I don't say that as criticism."

"I say it with empathy. This is really hard stuff, and its just the beginninng."

"That's why I am proud of my president, really worried about him, and just praying that he's lucky."

"I found the way he spelled out his core argument on Monday sincere..."

"I am glad we have a president who sees America that way."

"But, at the same time, I believe that it is naive to think that we can be humanitarian only from the air...."

"I don't know Libya, but my gut tells me that any kind of decnet outocmce three will require boots on the ground..."

"But I am deeply dubious that our allies can or will handle it without us, either."

""Which is why, most of all, I hope President Obama is lucky."

"I hope Qaddafi's regime collapses like a sand catle..."

 

 

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Posted on 03/30/2011 1:03 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, 30 March 2011
"God, Syria, And Bashar" -- But Can Baby Assad Order In The Tanks?
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From The Christian Science Monitor:

President Assad's defiant speech stuns Syrians who call for more protests

 

In a long-awaited speech to the nation following multiple deadly protests this past week, Syria's President Bashar al-Assad failed to announce concrete changes or meet any of the protesters' expectations.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addresses the parliament in Damascus on March 30. President Assad defied expectations on Wednesday that he would lift Syria's decades-old emergency law after nearly two weeks of protests that have presented the gravest challenge to his 11-year rule.

By Nicholas Blanford, March 30, 2011

Beirut, Lebanon

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad struck a defiant stance Wednesday, blaming “conspiracies” for two weeks of unprecedented antiregime protests and stopping short of offering a widely anticipated reform package.


The content of Mr. Assad’s first address since the unrest began dismayed the opposition, which had hoped that the president would reveal details of how he plans to reform the tightly policed state. Despite the government earlier this week dismissing the ruling cabinet and hinting at lifting the emergency law, Assad failed to announce concrete changes or meet any of the protesters' expectations.

We have returned to the point zero,” says Razan Zeitouneh, a human rights lawyer in Damascus.

Protests that erupted two weeks ago in the southern city of Deraa have since spread to cities around the country, including in the capital, sparking clashes with police that have killed more than 60 people. Regional neighbors have watched with trepidation, as the unrest could have major strategic ramifications for allies Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas.

Looking relaxed and smiling and chuckling frequently, Assad delivered his hour-long address to the Syrian parliament in a customary conversational tone. His statements were interrupted every few minutes by parliamentarians standing up and offering individual messages of support and loyalty. He entered and exited to a standing ovation, and was frequently interrupted with coordinated applause.

“Only God, Syria, and Bashar!” chanted the parliamentarians.

Assad says not all protesters are 'conspirators'

“I am talking to you at an exceptional time. It is a test that happened to be repeated due to conspiracies against the country,” said Assad, who became president in 2000 on the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad. “God willing, we will overcome [this conspiracy].”

He acknowledged that reforms have been slow in coming, but he blamed the delay on traumatic distractions over the past decade, including the 2000-2005 Palestinian intifada, the September 2001 attacks, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the Hezbollah-Israel war of 2006.

“We know we haven’t addressed many of the people's aspirations,” he said, adding that not all those that have taken to the streets since March 15 were “conspirators.”

He said that Syria was heading toward “another phase” and admitted that proceeding without reforms “destroys the country.” He said that there would be new measures to combat corruption and “enhance national unity” and that the new government would announce them later. The previous government of Prime Minister Najib Ottari resigned Tuesday, and a new premier is yet to be named.

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Posted on 03/30/2011 12:23 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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