Friday, February 25, 2011

Gaddafi's Son Denies Crackdown; Loyalists Reportedly Continue Attacks

by Leila Fadel, Ernesto Londono and Debbi Wilgoren

Moammar Gaddafi's son denied Thursday that Libya has killed large numbers of protesters through airstrikes and other attacks, while a former top Gaddafi aide said he quit the government to protest its violent crackdown.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Gaddafi's son, disputed the death tolls that have have been reported since the protests began 10 days ago, saying allegations that hundreds have been killed are a "joke."

"Tripoli is quiet," he said in an interview aired on Libyan state television. "Life is normal."

The junior Gaddafi said Libya intends to provide Western journalists on Friday access to Tripoli, the capital, and other cities, so they can corroborate the government's claim that the country remains under Gaddafi's control.

The U.S. State Department issued a warning to Western journalists who have entered Libya in recent days without government permission. Citing information received from top Libyan officials, the warning said some members of CNN, BBC Arabic and al-Arabiya would be allowed into the country, but any reporters not approved by the government as part of that effort would be considered al-Qaeda "collaborators."

"The Libyan government said that it was not responsible for the safety of these journalists, who risked immediate arrest on the full range of possible immigration charges," the State Department warning said.

Libya appears dangerously fractured, with Gaddafi's regime intent on fighting but its authority beyond Tripoli in doubt. The longtime ruler has tightened his grip on the capital, witnesses say, by flooding the streets with militiamen and loyalist troops who were reportedly roaming the streets and shooting opponents from SUVs.

Rebels who launched an uprising last week have consolidated their control of key eastern cities, however, and continued advancing west across the coastal strip, where most of the country's population is clustered. The opposition has called for a large protest Friday.

In the city of Zawiya, 30 miles west of Tripoli, an army unit attacked a mosque where protesters had been stationed for several days, a witness told the Associated Press. The soldiers opened fire with automatic weapons and hit the mosque's minaret with anti-aircraft missiles, the witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.

He told the AP there were casualties, but couldn't provide exact figures. Some of the young men among the protesters had hunting rifles, he said. He said a day earlier an envoy from Gaddafi had come to the city and warned protesters, "Either leave or you will see a massacre."

"What is happening is horrible, those who attacked us are not the mercenaries; they are sons of our country," the witness said, sobbing. After the assault, thousands massed in the city's main Martyrs Square, shouting "leave, leave," in reference to Gaddafi, he said.

The other attack came at a small airport outside Misrata, Libya's third-largest city, where rebels claimed control on Wednesday, AP reported. Militiamen on Thursday attacked a line of residents who were protecting the facility, opening fire with rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, said a resident who saw the assault

"They left piles of human remains and swamp of blood," the resident told the Associated Press. "The hospitals are packed with those killed and injured."

In Cairo, a cousin and close adviser to Gaddafi said he had defected from the regime to protest its crackdown on the uprising, the Associated Press reported. Gadhaf al-Dam, who arrived in Egypt several days ago, is a member of the Libyan leader's inner circle, handling Libyan-Egyptian relations.

Dam said in a statement that the crackdown has seen "grave violations to human rights and human and international laws," AP reported. He said he left Libya "in protest and to show disagreement."

Oil prices hit $100 a barrel because of the turmoil in the North African oil exporter, a peak not reached since 2008. In Washington and other capitals, attention turned to the possible responses to the crackdown, including economic sanctions or imposition of a no-flight zone over Libya to prevent the use of aircraft against civilians.

In Washington, President Obama said the United States was developing a "full range of options" and would intensify discussions with other nations to address the violent unraveling of Gaddafi's regime.

"The suffering and bloodshed are outrageous and unacceptable," Obama said. The Libyan government "must be held accountable for its failure . . . and face the cost of continued violations of human rights."

But enormous questions remained about whether any foreign powers could wield the influence necessary to head off Libya's dizzying plunge into disorder, much less persuade Gaddafi to reconsider his vow to fight to the death in defense of his 41-year-old regime.

The independent organization Human Rights Watch has estimated that 300 people have been killed in a week of clashes, although some Libyan opposition groups and Western diplomats have said that they fear the figure may be much larger.

A 600-passenger ferry chartered by the U.S. government was in Libya to evacuate U.S. citizens to the nearby island of Malta, but its departure has been delayed by turbulent weather.

Residents reached by telephone in Tripoli on Wednesday said Gaddafi's loyalists appeared to have reclaimed control of the capital after several days of skirmishes. Stores and offices were shut down, the residents said, while blue-uniformed militiamen set up checkpoints and regime loyalists cleaned up graffiti calling for him to step down.

But opposition groups appeared to have taken control of cities across a broad swath of northern Libya that stretched hundreds of miles from Tobruk, near the Egyptian border, to as far as Misurata, 120 miles east of the capital. The loosely organized opposition protected key roads and government installations, with men in fluorescent orange vests patrolling the area, armed with sticks or rocket-propelled grenades.

A state-run radio station previously known as Eastern Radio was under the control of opposition groups, which renamed it Free Radio. In and around Baida, along the northern coast west of Tobruk, the once-omnipresent portraits of Gaddafi had been ripped down or burned.

"Oh Moammar, dictator, it's your turn now," people chanted.

There was ample evidence of recent fighting in Baida. Buildings on Revolution Street were pocked with bullet holes. At La Braq Airport, spent ammunition from rifles and antiaircraft rounds littered the ground. Civilians and defected soldiers climbed on tanks and blocked the runways to stop planes from landing - a precaution, residents said, after people were gunned down last week by purported mercenaries flown in from elsewhere in Africa.

The ability of the rebels to swiftly push west suggested that Libya's powerful tribes, long a beneficiary of Gaddafi's patronage, were turning against him. In recent days, tribal leaders have declared their support for the opposition after Gaddafi's use of warplanes and helicopter gunships to kill hundreds of protesters.

Indeed, the eastern tribes have long complained of being denied a share of Libya's wealth and resources, and eastern cities such as Benghazi have been bastions of opposition. Such grievances led to a revolt in the 1990s and underpinned the ongoing rebellion that began in Benghazi last week, in a country of as many as 140 tribes.

The east's al-Zuwayya tribe threatened to shut down oil production unless authorities stopped the "oppression of the protesters." The Warfala, one of the country's biggest and most influential tribes, has also reportedly joined the opposition. The tribe controls areas around Tripoli.

"We are seeing more and more tribal defections. A lot of police and military in Tobruk, Benghazi and other eastern cities defected because their tribal leaders had ordered them," Ronald Bruce St. John, an author and expert on Libya, said in a telephone interview. "I think you will see more and more in western Libya."

So far, St. John said, it appears that the major tribes in and around Tripoli continue to support Gaddafi.

The signs of a widening rebellion in eastern Libya came as more senior military commanders and government officials defected. The Libyan newspaper Quryna reported that an air force pilot bailed out of his Soviet-made warplane and allowed it to crash rather than following an order to bomb Benghazi.

Residents of Tripoli said a sense of fear pervaded the capital.

"We have been indoors for the past three days," said Rahma, a Libyan American reached by telephone, who insisted that her last name not be used to avoid any retribution. "Tripoli is like a ghost town, as if nobody exists here."

She said her father, also a U.S. citizen, had been detained during an anti-government demonstration a few days ago in front of Tripoli's courthouse and was being held at a hospital on a military base. She said she fears for his safety after listening to Gaddafi's speech, in which he threatened to execute anyone going against the regime.

"We don't know what's going to happen to him," Rahma said.

She said two sons of a neighbor were killed at a protest. The next day, Rahma said, the neighbor placed a green Libyan national flag by her house to show support for Gaddafi and avoid being targeted by his loyalists.

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Leila Fadel, Ernesto Londono and Debbi Wilgoren

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Second Suspected Syria Nuclear Site Is Found

by Jay Solomon

A second suspected nuclear installation has been identified in Syria, according to commercial satellite photos, providing new evidence that Damascus may have been pursuing atomic weapons before a 2007 Israeli military strike.

The publishing Wednesday of the photos by Washington's Institute for Science and International Security could increase pressure on the United Nations to demand expansive new inspections of suspect Syrian facilities during a March board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency.


ISIS - A suspected nuclear site, identified from commercial satellite images.

IAEA inspectors visited eastern Syria in 2008 and reported that they recovered traces of processed uranium from a site called Dair Alzour, which the Bush administration alleged housed a nearly operational nuclear reactor. Israeli jets destroyed the facility nearly eight months before the IAEA's visit.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government has rebuffed repeated IAEA requests to conduct additional inspections of the site as well as three other facilities the U.N. agency believes could be related to a covert Syrian nuclear program. Damascus's rejection of IAEA inspections could result in Syria being declared noncompliant with its U.N. commitments and referred to the Security Council for formal censuring.

Mr. Assad denied in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last month that his government has pursued a nuclear program. He also said he wouldn't allow the IAEA expansive powers to inspect his country.

The photos published by the ISIS think tank identifies what it says are one of the three additional sites the IAEA believes could be connected to the Dair Alzour facility. In a series of photos, ISIS displays what it alleges were apparent Syrian attempts to disguise the activities of site after the Israeli attack.

"Laying down a new foundation could be an attempt to defeat the environmental sampling the IAEA inspectors would like to carry out to see if uranium was present," the ISIS report reads.

ISIS says the location and contours of the building suggests it housed uranium-conversion equipment that is used to produce nuclear fuel. The facility, in a town called Marj as Sultan, is on the outskirts of Syria's capital, Damascus.

ISIS said it located the site using commercial satellite images based on information provided by sources at the IAEA as well as by a report in the German newspaper, Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has said in recent months that he'd consider calling for a so-called special inspection of Syrian sites if Damascus continues to deny U.N. staff entry. Syria could then be referred to the Security Council, if it again refused the IAEA's request.

Diplomats at the IAEA said Mr. Amano is also considering releasing a report at the March meeting that would detail what the agency says is evidence that Syria was secretly developing a nuclear reactor. Such a move is viewed as less of a political risk than a call for a special inspection, but still could result in Security Council action at a later date.

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Jay Solomon

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Obama to Libyans: You’re on Your Own

by Stephen Brown

Washington finally broke its silence Wednesday over the crisis in Libya when President Barack Obama issued a statement before television cameras in the Grand Foyer of the White House. Until now, the Obama administration had been making only bland declarations concerning the Libyan turmoil in order not to endanger American diplomats and citizens who had yet to be evacuated to safety. Before Wednesday’s statement, Obama had only given out a written declaration regarding Libya last Friday.

But while the cause for the administration’s diplomatic reticence was resolved by a sea evacuation, Obama’s statement nevertheless contained only empty words. Instead of threats or a hard-hitting warning to Gaddafi from the leader of the world’s only superpower concerning the raging violence, the American public was treated to Obama’s well-known multi-polar approach for solving world problems, even when they involve American interests. With Wednesday’s statement, Obama once again demonstrated his continued intent to keep American power off the world stage.

“The entire world is watching, and we will coordinate our assistance and accountability measures with the international community,” Obama declared. “To that end, Secretary Clinton and I have asked Bill Burns, our Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, to make several stops in Europe and the region to intensify our consultations with allies and partners about the situation in Libya.”

Hillary Clinton will also travel to Geneva next Monday for more talks with other foreign ministers, all of which ought to scare Gadaffi into reining [sic] in his bands of killers and mercenaries.

Hundreds of these soldiers-for-hire, principally from Sudan, Chad and Niger, were reported to be heading to the Tripoli area, Gaddafi’s stronghold. According to an analysis by Stratfor Global Intelligence, the oil wealth in that area and the oil around Benghazi, the center of the anti-Gaddafi revolt, could see the current fighting develop into a protracted civil war between the two geographic regions.

Such a prospect would constitute a heavy setback for American and Western interests. With oil already over $100 a barrel for the first time since 2008 and expected to reach $120 within weeks if Libya’s oil ports are not reopened soon, the United States and other Western countries are facing severe economic consequences. One report sums up this dismal financial forecast by warning high oil prices would end America’s and the world’s economic recovery, which is just getting underway. Like with Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which, Obama seems to believe, is caused by the building of Israeli settlements, reality is once more being ignored.

But Obama’s decision to send his diplomats on a world tour first before taking any action regarding Libya, if any is taken at all, is in keeping, as one analyst states, with his leftist world view, one in which there are no superpowers. Or at least in America’s case, a superpower that refuses to act like one. Early in his administration, Obama signaled the days of America unilaterally using its power to defend its interests were over when he told the United Nations General Assembly in September, 2009 “power is no longer a zero-sum game.”

“No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation,” he said. “No world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will succeed.”

These words must have gladdened the hearts of tin pot dictators, like Gadaffi, around the world. Under an Obama presidency, they would not have to fear unilateral American military action for their misbehavior, like the air strike Ronald Regan ordered against Gadaffi in the 1980s. Due to his leftist egalitarianism, Obama has leveled American power down to that of Benin’s, restricting his country’s options in any world crisis. Hillary Clinton, reflecting this approach, said on Tuesday the United Nations Security Council was where action on Libya should be decided.

While Obama’s multi-polar approach was expected, what was most surprising, though, about his Wednesday White House statement is that he announced no course of action at all. With criticisms that he was not being tough enough on Libya, it is baffling that his administration appears not to have even started working on a plan to deal with the crisis. With the Libyan revolt already days old, his words indicated his government is only now developing a course of action, even though he said “my national security team has been working around the clock to monitor the situation there.”

“I’ve also asked my administration to prepare the full range of options that we have to respond to this crisis,” he said. “This includes actions we may take and those we will coordinate with our allies and partners, or those that we’ll carry out through multilateral institutions.”

Obama ended his statement by quoting a Libyan who said: “We just want to be able to live like human beings.”

But for that to happen, what is needed immediately is for the United States and NATO to use their airpower to stop the fighting. Bombing Gadaffi’s forces would cost less lives in the long run than a civil war fought “to the last drop of blood,” as the Libyan leader has promised. This also would allow the all-important oil exports to resume.

Discussions have taken place regarding establishing a no-fly zone over Libya and that is probably what Clinton will take up with her counterparts next Monday. But while this will stop Gaddafi’s mercenary pilots from bombing the opposition, it will not stop the killing on the ground. The only thing that would cause an old executioner like Gadaffi to stop killing is if an American aircraft carrier were to appear before the Libyan coast. But with Obama in the White House, don’t expect such a show of American power, even if it would allow people to start living like human beings.

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Stephen Brown

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Multiculturalism In Retreat

by Herbert I. London

At long last a European politician, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, lifted the curtain on the pernicious dimensions of multiculturalism. After several decades of home grown terrorism and an acceptance of separation by Muslim groups in the United Kingdom, the prime minister said, "Enough."

A new course will be charted that moves from accommodation to integration. There may be a risk of xenophobia with the Cameron approach, but it is a worthwhile trade-off if terrorist impulses are thwarted.

Mr. Cameron called his strategy "muscular liberalism": confronting extremist Islamic thought, and challenging those efforts that attempt to undermine Western values. The prime minister made special mention, for example, of zero tolerance for the subjugation of women, a practice permitted because of Islamic separation and application of Sharia Law.

The notion that different groups within a society should be encouraged to pursue their own cultural paths is a formulation based on religious tolerance. But as George Santayana, among others, noted: the first duty of the tolerant man is to exercise intolerance for intolerance. In other words, a line must be drawn when religious groups use societal tolerance to promote intolerance.

For at least two generations, Europeans have failed to integrate immigrants into their societies. These are recent immigrants who do not speak the language of the host country and have not accepted the basic historic and cultural background of the nation in which they now reside.

After observing the corrosive influence of multiculturalism, a consensus is beginning to emerge. In addition to Cameron's comments, German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared multiculturalism a "total failure." Swiss voters approved a ban on the construction of new minarets on mosques. French authorities have issued a prohibition on burqas and other full-body robes worn by some Muslim women. And the Swedish Democratic Party, which had almost no influence in the politics of the country, gained 5.7% of the vote in national elections after campaigning on a platform of anti-multiculturalism.

France, which has about 10 million Muslims, has introduced mandatory courses for all immigrants on "French values," women's rights and an overview of France's national history. Whether national identity can be imbibed or transcend religious imperatives remains to be seen.

From a sociological perspective integration represents a compromise between the traditions of the mother country and the host nation. Presumably one can be French, share the tradition of liberalism and at the same time be a Muslim. But is this compromise realistic? Will Islam allow for Sharia Law to coexist with liberal traditions?

Assimilation also demands the acceptance of the host nation's values and the shedding of the past. This is an all-or-nothing position that forces a stark choice. Put bluntly, "if you want to join us, you will do so on our terms. After all, no one has forced you to enter our shores."

Clearly Europeans have a right --some would argue an obligation -- to defend their Christian heritage against an onslaught from radical Muslim intrusion. The question is how best to defend this heritage. Cameron's well stated statement against multiculturalism is the sound of national tocsin to preserve British culture. On this side of the Atlantic it is a welcome statement that sets the tone for the challenges the West now faces, and will be facing, in the decades ahead.

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Herbert I. London

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Egypt, the Middle East and the Obama Doctrine

by Guy Millière

The most common – but incorrect--description of the storm that has just shaken Egypt is that it was born spontaneously of a large popular discontent.

There was and still is discontent among the Egyptian people, but the spark that ignited the powder was not spontaneous at all. It is now known ("The Secret Meeting That Sparked The Uprising," The Wall Street Journal, February 11th 2011) that a group of activists met several weeks before the start of the uprising to organize a series of events carefully designed to thwart the actions of security forces, and that these activists included members of various organizations of the left, the extreme left, and Islamists.

It is also impossible to ignore the fact that the Obama administration, beyond attitudes sometimes contradictory, supported the agitation, and that it indicated relatively quickly a determination both to drop Hosni Mubarak to encourage rapid democratization, and to see the Muslim Brotherhood integrated into the game.

Hosni Mubarak is gone, but there was no "revolution," just a coup; and thanks to maneuvers and manipulations, power is now in the hands of a "high council of the armed forces," which includes all military commanders. The constitution was abolished. Parliament was dissolved. The army remains what it has been since 1952: the backbone of Egyptian society.

Maintaining a military dictatorship is still possible, if not likely.

A new constitution is being drafted, and elections are scheduled. The new constitution, written by a committee headed by an Islamist judge, Tarek al-Bishry, will soon be completed. If elections are held, they will almost certainly lead to very disappointing results for those who may still dream of seeing the emergence of a "democracy."

There is a broad discrepancy between what most of the activists say they want, what the English speaking urban middle class protestors shown on American TV news reports from Tahrir square say they want, and what the poor and illiterate people who comprise the bulk of the population seem to want.

Surveys conducted in recent months show that only a tiny minority—less than 5%-- wish for freedom.

An overwhelming majority support instead a solid commitment to the strict enforcement of Islamic Shariah Law -= including stoning and female circumcision -- and to anti-American and anti-Israeli policies.

As poverty and illiteracy will not magically vanish, and sources of opinion, belief and prejudice will remain what they are, the logical consequence is that votes will go mostly to Islamists and radical nationalists.

In addition, one should expect an overall economic decline that Western aid will not curb. Presumably, the growth figures for recent years -- -9% through 2009, and 4.7% in 2010 -- belong to the past. Prices of food and basic necessities will rise again. Poverty, hunger and discontent will increase. It is almost certain, therefore, that trouble and unrest will also increase.

As Egypt needs American financial and logistic assistance, the alliance with the United States will not be broken, but will most likely become more distant and more chaotic.

As the army fears the consequences of another war, the peace treaty with Israel will not be repudiated, at least not immediately. But the border between Egypt and Gaza will probably become more permeable, and Egypt will presumably be less vigilant in controlling the passage of potential terrorists through its territory.

An evolution similar to the one at the end of the reign of the Shah in Iran seems excluded for the moment: there is no political and spiritual leader in Egypt that could be fully compared to Ayatollah Khomeini -- even if Youssef al-Qaradawi, President of the International Union of Ulema and prominent speaker on Al-Jazeera in Arabic, is back in Egypt and could play this role if he decide to play it, and if his health allows (he is 84).

Without fully joining the camp of the enemies of America and the West, Egypt will no longer be a friend; it is effectively lost -- whatever the initial intentions of those who started it all.

The handling of events by the Obama administration will, in all probability, be judged harshly by historians.

During the first two years of the Obama presidency, the position of the United States everywhere in the world has weakened. The president of the United States apologized for the past of his country wherever he went; he reached out to regimes that were supposed to be his worst enemies, and turned his back consistently on regimes that were supposed to be his most reliable friends.

In June 2009 in Cairo, Obama delivered a speech obsequiously extolling the virtues of Islam, and comparing Israel to South Africa during apartheid and Confederate States at the time of the Civil War. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood, considered the mortal enemy of the Egyptian government, were invited to attend the speech.

At the same time, as the Iranian youth were protesting against a rigged election, Obama chose Ahmadinejad over the protestors.

Those two years were also marked by an almost unprecedented isolation and demonization of Israel, and by a strengthening of the camp of Iran in the Middle East: Syria, an ally of Iran for thirty years, was joined by Turkey (Sahar Zubairy, Turkey and Iran: A Growing Alliance, 11-05-2009,, and then by Lebanon. At the same time, the pro-Western camp was weakened and destabilized. Egypt is being lost. Jordan is confronted by protests and riots. Saudi Arabia looks more stable, but events in Yemen, in Bahrain, and now in Libya could have heavy consequences.

Although some think it a coincidence, others discern relations of cause and effect: During the twentieth century, whenever the United States was led by weak and indecisive people, or by ideologues, freedom retreated, and disorder grew.

This unwritten rule seems to apply also to the twenty-first century.

During the first year of the Obama Presidency, some authors spoke critically of an "Obama doctrine," based on docile courtesy vis-à-vis dictatorships hostile to the Western world; anti-Israeli attitudes; hints of anti-colonialism and pro-third-worldism, and a perhaps unconscious desire to weaken the United States. Charles Krauthammer in "Decline is a choice"(The Weekly Standard, October 19 2009) said the Obama doctrine was an "exercise in contraction," the demolition of the moral foundation of American dominance." Ralph Peters, in "The Obama doctrine, Hugging Foes, Hurting Friends» (, April 29 2009) wrote that Obama's foreign policy was « a combination of dizzying naivete, dislike of our allies, disdain for our military, distrust of our intelligence services. »

The Obama doctrine is mentioned again, this time to say that President Barack Obama finally embodies American values; that what is happening will serve the interests of America (Simon Tisdall, "Out of Egyptian protests Obama's new doctrine is Born," The Guardian, February 11, 2011).

It is difficult to see how what happened in Egypt, and what happens in other Middle Eastern countries serve the interests of America. It is even more difficult to see, in Obama's words and reactions, a clear embodiment of American values.

It is easier to see the effects of the Obama doctrine as it was defined by critics of Obama in 2009. Obama's words and reactions could be described, at best, as a lack of any sense of leadership, or, more simply, using the words of Niall Ferguson ("Wanted: A Grand Strategy for America,, 02-13-2011), a "colossal failure."

Contagion, which many thought would not occur, has occurred, but it was helped by a mix of bad intentions, naivety and incompetence that will have to be analyzed at a later date.

Hostile dictatorships are facing trouble, but less trouble than allies of the West are facing -- and the dictatorships can use the most brutal and unrestrained repression. They will almost certainly survive. Allies of the West might not be so lucky. Iran continues to place its pawns: two Iranian warships just crossed the Suez Canal, after a trip through the Red Sea with a stopover in Jeddah, forty miles from Mecca. What, as well, will happen if Jordan falls; if Egypt is ruled soon by a combination of Islamists, radical nationalists and generals, and if Saudi Arabia has to consider that the "strong horse" in the region is Tehran, and no longer Washington? What will happen if Yemen and Bahrain, and then Bab El-Mandeb and the Strait of Hormuz, fall into the wrong hands?

Several presidents during the last decades spoke of America's determination to make the world safe for democracy. This determination seems to have been replaced by hesitations and by what seems to be a strange propensity to make the world safe just for powers that are toxic.

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Guy Millière

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In Libya, an al-Qaida Ally Lurks in the Shadows

by IPT News

The mounting violence in Libya could have the unintended consequence of reviving radical Islamists including the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), a terror organization aligned with al-Qaida.

As Muammar Gaddafi's 41-year-old dictatorship totters on the brink, U.S. policymakers should pay close attention to reports that LIFG members are being released from Libyan jails, according to Jonathan Schanzer, a former Treasury Department official who monitors jihadist organizations. Until now, the LIFG has been essentially moribund inside Libya since Gaddafi's regime launched a repression campaign against it in the late 1990s.

But last week, more than 100 members of the LIFG were reportedly set free under mysterious circumstances from a jail near Tripoli. It is unclear whether they were released by anti-government forces or by order of Gaddafi, whose government says it has freed close to 850 purportedly reformed jihadists from prison in recent years.

Whatever the reason, news that LIFG members are getting out of jail is very troubling, according to Jonathan Schanzer, currently vice president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. "Either way, what we're risking is a resuscitation of the LIFG," he said.

Since late 2003, when Gaddafi agreed to relinquish his weapons of mass destruction, the Libyan regime has sought to re-brand itself as an ally of the West in fighting al-Qaida and has provided intelligence on the LIFG.

As his domestic situation deteriorates, Gaddafi may believe it is in his interest to release terrorists "in order to say to the West, 'you need to back us'" and to drive home the point that the war against al Qaida will suffer if he is driven from power, Schanzer told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Monitoring LIFG's situation should be a top priority of U.S. intelligence agencies as they watch events in Libya, he said, and congressional committees would do well to examine the issue in oversight hearings.

On Sunday, a Libyan official said that Islamist gunmen last week attacked an army weapons depot and a nearby port, killing four soldiers and seizing hundreds of weapons. On Wednesday, Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Khaim told European Union ambassadors that al-Qaida has established an emirate in the eastern city of Derna headed by a jihadist released from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.

Italian Foreign Minister Francesco Franco Frattini also mentioned reports that an emirate had been declared in that region of Libya. He said it would be "worrying" if "radical Islam is only a few hundred kilometers away from the European Union's front door."

The LIFG was formed by Libyans who went to join the Afghan mujahedeen in fighting the Soviet Union during the 1980s. The organization's goal was replacing Gaddafi's government "with a hard-line Islamic state," said Noman Benotman, a former member of the LIFG's Shura Committee. In the mid-1990s, he said, the group spent years planning an operation to overthrow Gaddafi. That effort failed, as did several attempts to assassinate the Libyan dictator in the 1990s.

Between 1997 and 2001, LIFJ and al-Qaida increasingly coordinated their operations and the LIFJ established two military training camps in Afghanistan. After 9/11, LIFG joined al-Qaida in attacking U.S.-led Coalition troops who were fighting to liberate Afghanistan from the Taliban. In 2002, senior al-Qaida operative Abu Zubaydah was captured in Pakistan alongside at least three LIFG operatives.

In December 2004, the State Department designated the LIFG a Foreign Terrorist Organization: "LIFG members have been directly or indirectly implicated in a number of terrorist activities, particularly in North Africa…The LIFG constitutes the most serious threat to U.S. interests and personnel in North Africa."

According to the State Department, senior LIFG leaders based in Europe helped plan a wave of suicide attacks in May 2003 targeting Western and "Jewish" interests in Casablanca, Morocco, including a restaurant, a hotel and community centers. More than 40 people were killed and more than 100 injured in the attacks.

In 2004, CIA Director George Tenet said in Senate testimony that one of the "most immediate threats" comes from "smaller international Sunni extremist groups who have benefited from al Qa'ida links," such as the LIFG.

In February 2006, the Treasury Department announced it was formally designating four organizations and five individuals as financial supporters of the LIFG, "an al Qaida affiliate known for engaging in terrorist activity in Libya and cooperating with al Qaida worldwide." Patrick O'Brien, assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing and financial crime, said the LIFG "threatens global safety and stability through the use of violence and its ideological alliance with al Qaida."

Within the next few years, however, the Gaddafi regime (which has provided the United States with intelligence on LIFG) embarked on a campaign to persuade LIFG members to abandon jihad. It was spearheaded by the Libyan ruler's Western-educated son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who began a dialogue with LIFG members.

In 2009 and 2010, the Gaddafi Foundation (an organization headed by the younger Gaddafi) brought foreign journalists to Libya to showcase its campaign to persuade jihadists to change their ways. During one visit last year, the foundation arranged for the journalists to interview 88 low- and mid-level members of the LIFG. They had won their release after signing a document criticizing al-Qaida and denouncing attacks against non-combatants.

The outreach efforts won the Gaddafi regime generally favorable coverage from the Los Angeles Times.

"A nation the West once considered a major sponsor of terrorism may have pulled off a groundbreaking coup against Al Qaeda: coaxing a group once strongly allied with Osama bin Laden to renounce its one time partner as un-Islamic," read the Times' December 2009 account. "The defanging of a group that the U.S. has listed as a terrorist organization since 2004 is the fruit of a years-long dialogue between the militants and the government."

Schanzer expressed skepticism about the Gaddafi Foundation's claims of success persuading jihadists to abandon violence. "I'd like to see the recidivism rates," he said, referring to statistics that could shed light on the percentage that have returned to the battlefield. Schanzer said advocates had yet to provide any data on the subject.

"To what extent can you trust Gaddafi's judgment on who they let out?" he added. "Do they go back to join the global jihad?" Based on the available information, "it is impossible to tell."

Reports that Libyan jihadists are being freed from jail are an ominous indication of where the country is headed, Schanzer said.

In interviews with the Washington Post last year, some participants in the Libyan rehabilitation program showed why a healthy skepticism is in order. Sami al-Saadi, a founder of the LIFG and a former aide to Osama bin Laden released from a Libyan prison two months earlier, expressed doubt the al Qaida boss "is calling for the killing of any single civilian."

Others said they still believed in waging war against American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also said the conflicts in Somalia and the Palestinian territories were legitimate forms of jihad.

"When America invades a country, the insurgency is legal and lawful. From a religious point of view, it is permissible and we have to support it," said one of the men, the group's emir. "And U.S. policies in Israel and other places adds (sic) fuel to the fire."

The Libyans brought in a mediator (described by the Post as a "moderate Islamist") to engage with the ex-militants. He agreed with the former jihadists. "Violence against occupation is a sacred act," he said. "It is a sacred jihad."

"I don't know how you parse jihad," U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz told the Post when asked about these comments. "If it means that, 'If you don't do it in Libya, you are free to go and do it elsewhere,' that would be a little troubling to us."

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IPT News

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Gaddafi's Fin de Régime

by Daniel Pipes

The violent demise of the Middle East's longest-ruling leader – who came to office in September 1969, just a few months after Richard Nixon – stands well outside the mainstream of the region's politics, but then Moammer Gaddafi always did.

Moammer Gaddafi in regalia.

Gaddafi (for the record, the correct spelling of his name is Mu'ammar al-Qadhdhāfi) began his rule at the tender age of 27, just as Pan-Arabist ideology was dying down; undeterred, long after others had given up on this fantasy, he remained a proponent of the notion of turning all Arabic countries into one gigantic whole. Eventually frustrated with Arabic-speakers, where the small population of Libya limited his influence, he turned south, where his outsized energy income bestowed real clout in Africa.

Fortunately for the world, every one of his hare-brained schemes came to naught. What I observed in 1981 still holds true: "For all Qadhdhafi's hyperactivity, he rarely gets his way; empty promises and fanaticism on his part have repeatedly undermined his ceaseless efforts to project power. … Qadhdhafi has won many battles but not a single war."

How deeply satisfying will it be to watch as a brave and desperate people sweep this eccentric, nasty, and repressive tyrant into the dustbin of history. How gratifying that he has alienated nearly the entire world, even the U.N. Security Council. May his ugly example serve as a permanent warning to other dictators who make war on their populations.

On a personal note: I have watched Gaddafi with interest through the years in part because my career in Middle East studies began coterminous with his rule. Also, he invited me in 2007 to Libya for a one-on-one chat. Although at the time curious about meeting him, in retrospect I am glad I did not. A shower does not cleanse oneself of some encounters. (February 24, 2011)

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Daniel Pipes

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

If Anyone Cares - and Few Do - the UN Sorta Condemns Libya

by Rick Moran

If it had been the US or another western country using helicopter gun ships to mow down unarmed civilians in the streets, my guess would be that half the UN delegates would have had a case of apoplexy and demanded drum head trials and executions of American leaders.

But this is the bunch that elected Libya to the Human Rights Council - a mistake that they are refusing to rectify despite what is turning out to be Tiananmen Square on steroids. The UN resolution on Libya is full of fire and brimstone:

The council's 15 members said the Libyan government should "meet its responsibility to protect its population", act with restraint, and respect human rights and international humanitarian law.

The Libyan authorities should also hold accountable those people responsible for attacking civilians, and respect the rights of its citizens to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and press freedom, they added.

British ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the statement was "extremely strong", and indicated further measures were likely in the coming days.

Well, perhaps not fire and brimstone. More like milquetoast and oatmeal. A UN spokesman gravely announced that it was "too soon" to talk about sanctions. Nothing like quick, decisive action by our international Keepers of Human Rights.

Meanwhile, Gaddafi is probably congratulating himself that the world, as usual, will stand by while he cleanses his country of anyone who doesn't agree that they live in paradise.

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Rick Moran

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The Mad Dog of the Middle East

by Sami Moubayed

DAMASCUS - Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was new to the scene when he marched into the Arab summit in Cairo in September 1970, exactly one year after he had staged a successful coup in Libya, at the young age of 27, ousting his predecessor, the ailing King Idriss, aged 80.

Dressed in military uniform with a revolver strapped around his belt, the flamboyant young man wanted to come across as an "Arab Che Guevara". The Arabs assembled in Egypt were busily trying to hammer out a solution to a bloody showdown in Amman between King Hussein and the Palestinians, known as Black September.

Gaddafi, a protege of Egyptian president Gamal Abdul Nasser who was ostensibly committed to Arab nationalism, was furious with Hussein. In words that seem strangely appropriate today, Gaddafi barked, "We are faced with a madman like Hussein who wants to kill his own people. We must send someone to seize him, handcuff him, stop him from doing what he is doing, and take him off to a mental asylum!"

King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, a wise old man, gently said, "I don't think you should call an Arab king a madman who should be taken to an asylum." Gaddafi snapped back: "But he is mad! All his family is mad! It's a matter of record!" Gaddafi was making reference to Hussein's father King Talal who abdicated in 1951 because he was mentally unfit to rule Jordan.

The wise Faisal remarked: "Well, perhaps all of us are mad." Nasser intervened, "Sometimes when you see what is going on in the Arab world, your majesty, I think this may be so. I suggest we appoint a psychiatrist to examine us regularly and find one which ones are crazy."

Days later, Nasser was dead - but apparently Gaddafi dodged the mental check-ups. Had a psychiatrist examined him in 1970, he probably would have declared him mentally unfit to rule Libya. Young and still very insecure, Gaddafi resorted to outrageous behavior and loud publicity stunts, probably to cover for his tremendous internal weakness and complexities, especially when compared to older, wiser and better established Arab leaders.

He lacked the charm of Nasser, the nationalistic credentials of Tunisia's Habib Bourgeiba, the brains of Syria's Hafez al-Assad, or the wisdom of Saudi Arabia's King Faisal. Eager to prove himself equal to all the rest, he entered an ill-fated union with Egypt and Syria in 1972, which never saw light, followed by another failed attempt at union with Tunisia in 1974, which quickly turned into animosity.

When both attempts failed, Gaddafi took off his military uniform and began to dress in outrageous Peacock colors, certain that if his policies failed to attract world media, then his colorful costumes, and assortment of 40 women bodyguards (ostensibly all virgins) certainly would.

He then opened his country to every resistance movement across the planet, provided it was seriously involved "in fighting Western imperialism". In 1975, he authored his ridiculous philosophical work, The Green Book, copying from Nasser's own book, The Philosophy of Revolution and the works of other revolutionaries like Mao Zedong's Little Red Book. Chairman Mao's book came out over the years 1964-1976, while Gaddafi's was released in three volumes between 1975 and 1979.

When it was clear that his people were not going to take The Green Book seriously, seeing it as a compilation of rubbish, he imposed the book on schools, universities, bookstores, TV, radio, and every foreign visitor coming to see him in Tripoli, translating it into several languages. He did not stop there, taking up green as the official color of Libya.

Gaddafi then decided to "adopt" the Palestinian cause, lavishly dishing out money to then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. When Arafat refused to track down and assassinate Gaddafi's opponents outside of Libya, Gaddafi immediately turned against him, expelling the Palestinians from Libya, closing down their offices, and halting his subsidies.

Another forced exodus of 30,000 followed in 1995, and he threatened to extradite "up to one million" Palestinians, regardless of what their fate would be, to punish Arafat for signing Oslo with the Israelis. The fact that he was persecuting the Palestinians - the sacred cow of Arab nationalism - did not really matter to Gaddafi; and nor did the fact that he was repeating what King Hussein had done to them in 1970. He continued to insist that his welfare state was committed, in rank-and-file, to the Palestinians.

For the past 41 years, Gaddafi has tried to fill the oversized shoes of Nasser, who died one year after the Libyan colonel came to power. He saw Anwar al-Sadat's 1979 peace with Israel as a god-sent opportunity to become godfather of Arab nationalism, but was outsmarted by Syria's Assad, who picked up the mantle after Nasser.

Realizing that the Arab neighborhood was not his cup of tea, he began supporting liberation movements and rebels in West Africa, notably Sierra Leone and Liberia, declaring that Libya was more African than it was Arab. In the 1980s, Gaddafi graced the world stage as a firm opponent of US president Ronald Reagan, who personally dubbed him the "mad dog of the Middle East".

By March 1982, the US had declared a ban on import of Libyan oil, and the export of US technology to Libya. In April 1986, the US intercepted messages from the Libyan Embassy in East Berlin suggesting Libyan involvement in bombing of La Belle, a now famous Berlin discotheque.

Reagan ordered a massive bombing of Libyan cities in response, which led to the killing of hundreds of civilians, including Gaddafi's adopted daughter Hanna. Gaddafi fired two Scud missiles at the US Coast Guard stationed next to an Italian island, both of which landed in the sea, with no casualties.

His relations with Britain also suffered when a British policewoman was shot outside the Libyan Embassy in London while monitoring anti-Gaddafi demonstrations. As a result, Gaddafi's relations with London were suspended for an entire decade, and restored after Tony Blair visited him in Tripoli in 2004.
Probably Gaddafi's most infamous act was the Lockerbie Bombing of 1988, bringing down Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland, killing 270 innocent passengers. International sanctions were imposed over Libya throughout the 1990s, and were only lifted when Gaddafi decided to come clean, shortly after the toppling of his friend and comrade, Saddam Hussein.

In August, 2003 Gaddafi wrote to the United Nations formally accepting responsibility for Lockerbie, paying compensation of up to US$2.7 billion for the families of victims. World leaders flocked to Libya in reward, with French President Nicolas Sarkozy paying him a visit in July 2007, followed by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in August 2008, and UN secretary of state Condoleezza Rice in September.

For four decades, ordinary Arabs dealt with Gaddafi as a sad reality that they just had to live with - given that they could not change. Gaddafi has worked with four Saudi kings, three Syrian and three Egyptian presidents, and five Arab League secretary generals. He has survived eight US presidents, several of whom served for two terms, and five French ones.

He would often gloat that he is the "king of kings in North Africa" and "dean of Arab kings and presidents". Arab leaders were never too fond of him, because of his eccentric behavior, humoring him early into his regime, because he was a protege of Nasser.

Gaddafi learned, at the young age of 27, that he could do just about anything he pleased in the Arab world - and get away with it. Nothing stuck to Gaddafi, no scandal from eccentric behavior, no guilt because of bloodshed, and embarrassment because of poor leadership.

That all explains why the "king of kings" did not even blink when mowing down protesters in Benghazi and Tripoli over the past week, whipping up a death toll of nearly 300 Libyan citizens. He hired African tribes to kill his own countrymen, fired at the unarmed demonstrators from airplanes, contaminated the waters of Benghazi, and cut off fuel to prevent opponents from commuting between Libyan cities. It was Gaddafi being Gaddafi, right until the apparent end.

The outrageous Gaddafi, who likes to be called "Brother Muammar", has made it clear, through his son Seif al-Islam, that he will not step down, because if he does, "Western imperialism" will return to Libya. He will fight until the last man, and woman, and insists on staying in power until curtain fall.

Seif al-Islam's speech was one ripped right out of his father's dictionary, reeking of violence, brute force, and dictatorship. Probably learning from the Tunisia and Egypt scenarios, he will refuse to flee like Tunisia's Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali or resign like Egypt's Hosni Mubarak.

"Big Brother Muammar" will either be toppled when and if the angry Libyan street storms his palaces in Tripoli, or if he is arrested by a military coup. Suicide perhaps, would be easier for him, than surrender.

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Sami Moubayed is editor-in-chief of Forward Magazine in Syria.

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Two Million Egyptians Chant Death to Israel


Two million Egyptians in Tahrir Square chant “To Jerusalem we are heading, Martyrs in the millions”:

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The Left’s Hand in Fort Hood

by Ryan Mauro

When Major Nidal Malik Hasan went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009 and killed 13, his shouts of “Allah Akbar” during the attack left little doubt that it was motivated by radical Islam. A new Senate report finds that that the attack was preventable and that the government failed to take indications of Hasan’s extremist ideology seriously and this resistance to calling a spade a spade is ongoing.

The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs report, titled “A Ticking Time Bomb,” says that the Department of Defense and the FBI “collectively had sufficient information to have detected Hasan’s radicalization to violent Islamist extremism but failed both to understand and to act on it.” It said that there were “specific systemic failures in the government’s handling of the Hasan case and raises additional concerns about what may be broader systemic issues.”

Senator Susan Collins criticized the Obama Administration for failing to mention the ideology behind the terrorists, including Hasan, saying “the refusal to distinguish violent Islamic extremism from the peaceful, protected exercise of the Muslim religion sends the wrong message as it implies they can’t be distinguished.” The Obama Administration, on the other hand, is purposely vague out of the same concern.

On May 13, 2010, Attorney General Eric Holder was testifying before Congress when he was pressed on this issue. “There are a variety of reasons why people do things. Some of them are potentially religious,” he said. Rep. Lamar Smith pressed him to define the ideology behind Hasan, to which Holder said, “No, I don’t want to say anything negative about a religion.”

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano spoke with more clarity in February 2010, saying “Violent Islamic terrorism…was part and parcel of the Ft. Hood killings.” She had earlier been criticized for referring to “man-made disasters” instead of specifically mentioning terrorism, a decision she described as part of a “move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”

This lack of clarity has been present throughout President Obama’s time in office. The War on Terror has alternatively been referred to as an “overseas contingency operation,” “a campaign against extremists who wish to do us harm,” and “countering violent extremism.” Terms like “radical Islam” do not appear in the Quadrennial Defense Review, Quadrennial Homeland Security Review or the National Security Strategy documents, the latter of which had “The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict on the early years of the 21st century” removed from its contents. Even in the specific case of the Fort Hood shooting, none of the military branches’ reports mention radical Islam in investigating what is obviously a radical Islamic terrorist attack.

The Fort Hood shooting is a case study in ignoring unmistakable signs of adherence to radical Islamic beliefs. In 2007, he gave a talk where he spoke in support of Osama Bin Laden and claimed the War on Terror is a War on Islam. He also said that infidels should be beheaded and would have burning oil poured into their throats in hell. He asked his superiors in the Army about whether patients could be charged with war crimes and recommended that Muslims be allowed to leave the military as “conscientious objectors.”

A former colleague said that Hasan applauded the shooting of two military recruiters in Little Rock, Arkansas on June 1, 2009 and stated that “Muslims should stand up and fight the aggressor,” referring to the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hasan’s fellow psychologists even held a meeting to discuss his mental state and other officers called him a “ticking time bomb,” the inspiration for the title of the Senate report. Yet, despite these red flags, Hasan was never even investigated. In fact, an evaluation of Hasan said he had “extraordinary potential to inform national policy and military strategy.”

Dorothy Rabinowitz recounts in the Wall Street Journal how his supervisors lavished praised on him, calling him a “star officer,” even though he was in the bottom 25 percent of his class and his outbursts caused concern amongst his colleagues. His business card even had an acronym for “Soldier of Allah” on it and spelled “health” incorrectly.

“A resident who didn’t represent the diversity value that Hasan did as a Muslim would have faced serious consequences had he behaved half as disturbingly,” she writes.

“He was a star not simply because he was a Muslim, but because he was a special kind—the sort who posed, in his flaunting of jihadist sympathies, the most extreme test of liberal toleration. Exactly the kind the progressive heart finds irresistible.”

The FBI should also be embarrassed by the attack. The agency intercepted 18 emails between Hasan and Anwar al-Awlaki before the attack. He made Internet postings in favor of suicide bombings under the name “NidalHasan.” He attended the extremist Dar al-Hijrah mosque at the same time as two of the 9/11 hijackers when the imam was al-Awlaki. The FBI read the evaluations of Hasan’s Army superiors and concluded that his suspicious Internet activity was innocent research. The agency declined to interview him or any of his colleagues and did not pass this intelligence to the Army.

This attitude is encouraged by the Muslim Brotherhood affiliates in the U.S. who accuse anyone using terms like “radical Islam” of promoting anti-Muslim bigotry. Shockingly, an official with the Islamic Society of North America came to Fort Hood after the shooting to lecture the soldiers about Islam. The official, Louay Safi, wrote in 2003, “The war against the apostates [non-believers of Islam] is carried out not to force them to accept Islam, but to enforce the Islamic law and maintain order.”

“It is up to the Muslim leadership to assess the situation and weigh the circumstances as well as the capacity of the Muslim community before deciding the appropriate type of jihad. At one stage, Muslims may find that jihad, through persuasion or peaceful resistance, is the best and most effective method to achieve just peace,” Safai wrote.

The government’s colossal failure to put the pieces together about Nidal Hasan’s intentions is a testament to how political correctness and overall naiveté is leaving gaping holes in our defenses. Not all attacks can be prevented, but the Fort Hood is certainly one that could and should have been.

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Ryan Mauro

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The Multiculti Tango

by David Solway

It takes two to tango, goes the cliché, a truth so evident even the cliché must blush with embarrassment for expressing it. But what is true of the tango is no less the case for the complex immigration dance in which the newcomer is expected to partner with the cultural norms and usages of his adoptive country—or, to be precise, was expected to do so before the terpsichorean disaster of multiculturalism introduced the scrum we see daily enacted before our eyes.

The successful integration of the immigrant into society demands a series of intricate, syncopated steps: he (or she, as it goes without saying) must learn the language well enough to function in the marketplace and the public square; should acquire a familiarity with at least the rudiments of the country’s history; needs to seek employment so as not to become a burden on an overextended welfare system; and must abide by his oath of loyalty and assimilate peacefully into the life of nation.

The conventional metaphor regarding optimal immigration is what is known as the “melting pot,” the paradigm developed in the United States, not the “salad bowl” model prevalent in Canada and Europe. The melting pot works, more or less; the salad bowl, with its fragmented ingredients, plainly does not. A nation composed of immiscible elements is asking for trouble. To revert to my controlling metaphor, immigrants must learn to dance chest to chest and hip to hip with the partner they have agreed to tango with.

All too often, the synergy does not “take.” Indeed, an alternative form of tango has become popular in recent years. The tango nuevo, as it’s called, provides for an open embrace which permits the “leader” to perform all manner of figures and evolutions of his choosing. Similarly, the immigration dance has become “heteronormative,” that is, the “lead” falls to the arrivalist who creates a kind of hyphenated space in order to impose the motifs he prefers on the other.

The tango nuevo is fine and dandy on a Rioplatense dance floor, but it does not belong in the multicultural ballroom. This means, of course, that there is no room for the separating hyphen in forming one’s national identity. Responding to the current events in Egypt, an Egyptian-Canadian interviewed on CBC radio affirmed, without the slightest awareness of the discrepancy, “I am proud of my country.” The question that naturally arises is: which country? For this particular individual, who has been long settled in Canada, the answer is dismayingly clear. He is not dancing to Canada’s tune, but to the exotic strains of another cultural and political world.

One recalls, too, that during the 2006 Israel/Lebanon war, the Canadian government repatriated, at taxpayer largesse, several thousand Lebanese-Canadians caught in the midst of the turmoil. After hostilities had ceased and a year or so had passed, most of these hyphenated beneficiaries of what they considered their entitlement as Canadians returned to their sunny Mediterranean billet as native Lebanese.

What we are observing in all too many cases is not a dance in which two partners agree to enact the proper steps, but a razzia, a raid by one party upon the generosity of another while retaining what amounts to an alien and often parasitical identity. Canada is especially prone to such depredations. As Canadian Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, points out, “Canada has the highest relative level of immigration in the developed world” and is, additionally, saddled with a judiciary that is soft on refugee claims. Again, this is asking for trouble, and there has been plenty of it. Our position requires excessive caution and stringent rules of admission, both in the protocols governing the reception of illegals to our shores and the vetting of legitimate applications.

Canadians who are proud to be Egyptian should be…Egyptian. Canadians who flee Lebanon at government expense and then return as soon as the coast is clear should be…Lebanese. Canadians of Muslim descent who attend radical mosques and plan jihad against the country that has welcomed them, and who have no compunction profiting from its social, medical and fiscal services, should not be tolerated but deported. They have no place in the dance hall. As Hungarian-born and National Post columnist George Jonas said somewhere, he came to Canada because Canada needed more Canadians, not because Canada needed more Hungarians.

Several European politicians have declared, however tardily, that multiculturalism is a failed social experiment. Whether they will act on their belated discovery or not is another issue, but Angela Merkel, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy appear to have heard the beat. Certain rules apply if chaos is to be avoided and a measured harmony to prevail. You dance with the one who brung you and you dance to the music that is playing. There is a rhythm to the history, customs, practices and civic expectations of a country—what is loosely called the “national character—that needs to be honored in the observance and not in the breach, even if one is not, to cite Hamlet, “native here/And to the manner born.”

This is not to say that the newcomer must slavishly adhere to every single cultural demand and practice or that he or she cannot lobby for change and amelioration. Canada at one time refused women the vote. Before and during WW II, Jews were not welcome in this country—“None is too many,” advised a minister in the Mackenzie King government. Such aberrations should be—and were—addressed, and nothing prevents an immigrant from participating in the social discourse to bring about needed reformations.

But the point is that Canada, like other Western nations, comprises the sort of political environment in which gradual and meaningful improvement is possible and perhaps even inevitable, within the framework of the larger cultural parameters established by the tradition of parliamentary democracy, the rule of law, and the intellectual breakthroughs of the Enlightenment. And it is these traditions and advancements to which the newcomer must adapt and remain faithful, irrespective of the discrete imperfections that pertain at any given time. The orchestra may hit wrong notes or one’s native partner may stumble from time to time, but the pattern is discernible and needs to be followed.

In short, it takes two to tango; it takes only one to wreak havoc on the dance floor, especially if he is new to the dance and decides to cavort as he sees fit. The conclusion is obvious. The multiculti tango needs to be abolished or at the very least reconfigured, and the open space where the hyphen inserts itself closed. Will Canada’s leaders have the courage to adopt the necessary steps?

Otherwise, the eventual sequel does not seem especially promising. Last tango in Canada, anyone?

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David Solway

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Egyptian Armed Forces Demolish Fences Guarding Coptic Monasteries

by Mary Abdelmassih

Egyptian armed forces this week demolished fences surrounding ancient Coptic monasteries, leaving them vulnerable to attacks by armed Arabs, robbers and escaped prisoners, who have seized the opportunity of the state of diminished protection by the authorities in Egypt to carry out assaults and thefts.

"Three monasteries have been attacked by outlaws and have asked for protection from the armed forces, but were told to defend themselves." said activist Mark Ebeid. "When the terrified monks built fences to protect themselves, armed forces appeared only then with bulldozers to demolish the fences. It is worth noting that these monasteries are among the most ancient in Egypt, with valuable Coptic icons and manuscripts among others, which are of tremendous value to collectors."

On Sunday February 20, armed forced stormed the 4th century old monastery of St. Boula in the Red Sea area, assaulted three monks and then demolished a small fence supporting a gate leading to the fenceless monastery. "The idea of the erection of the gate was prompted after being attacked at midnight on February 13 by five prisoners who broke out from their prisons," said Father Botros Anba Boula, "and were armed with a pistol and batons. The monks ran after them but they fled to the surrounding mountains except for one who stumbled and was apprehended and held by the monks until the police picked him up three days later."

Father Botros said after this incident they thought the best solution to secure the monastery was to erect a gate with a small fence of 40 meters long at the entrance of a long wiry road leading to the monastery, which would be guarded day and night by the monks, and advised the army of their plan. According to Father Boulos, the army came with armored vehicles to demolish the gate, but it was agreed the monastery itself would undertake the demolition of the gate in stages as army protection is reinstated. "We told the Colonel it would look ugly to the outside world if Egyptian army is demolishing a gate erected for the protection of the unarmed monks under the present absence of security forces. We gave them full hospitality but we had a feeling that they wanted to demolish the gate in a 'devious' way."

On Saturday morning, seeing that only three old monks were guarding the gate, the army returned. "When the army found that very few monks were present the soldiers, who were hiding in military vans, came out," said Father Botros, "bound the three monks, threw them to the ground and confiscated their mobile phones so as not to photograph the incident."

The monks were set free after the gate and the 40 meter fence were demolished." Only four soldiers were left to guard the huge monastery.

"The army was here not to protect the monastery as they claimed, but to carry out their agenda of demolishing the gate" said Father Botros to activist Ramy Kamel of 'Theban Legion' Coptic advocacy. "By removing the gate and the supporting small fence, the army is giving a message of encouragement to any thief or thug to break into the monastery."

On February 21, armed forces demolished the fence surrounding the 5th century old Monastery of St. Bishoy in Wadi al-Natroun in the western desert.

Father Bemwa Anba Bishoy said that after the January 25th Uprising, all the government security forces that were guarding the monastery fled and left the monastery unguarded. He said they were attacked by prisoners who were at large after escaping from prisons during that period.

"We contacted state security and they said there was no police available for protection," Said Father Bemwa,"So we called the Egyptian TV dozens of times to appeal for help and then we were put in touch with the military personnel who told us to protect ourselves until they reach us." He added that the monks have built a low fence on the borders of one side of the monastery which is vulnerable to attacks, on land which belongs to the monastery, with the monks and monastery laborers keeping watch over it 24 hours a day.

Although security officials welcomed this step., a fanatical Muslim officer at the district police headquarters named Abdo Ibrahim incited the Muslims in the neighborhood, but when the circumstances were explained to them and that the fence also secures the nearby mosque, they agreed. "Ibrahim then incited the army against us, so they came with heavy equipment and armored vehicles, insulted the monks, demolished the fence and left," said Father Bemwa. "Now the monks are left in the open, vulnerable to attacks from prisoners who are still at large or Muslim fanatics" (video of demolished fence).

In a related incident, Father Boulos, a monk at the Monastery of Abu Magar, also called St. Makarios of Alexandria in Wady el-Rayan, Fayoum, said that on February 21 armed forces stormed the monastery and wanted to demolish its fence and gate. He explained that after the security vacuum during the January uprising, the Monastery was attacked by thugs and Arabs armed with automatic weapons, leading to the injury of six monks, including one monk in critical condition who is still hospitalized.

"The perpetrators took advantage of the fact that the monastery is a nature reserve and has no fence for protection. After the incident we have built a fence around the monastery to protect it, but the environmental agency rejected it and sent for the security forces and the army to remove the fence." He added that they were given 48 hours by the authorities to demolish the one-meter high fence, otherwise the army would be back to destroy it.

"If no authority is in a position to protect us," said Father Boulos, "then let us do it ourselves, the way we see fit."

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Mary Abdelmassih

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Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza: Gilad Shalit

by Arsen Ostrovsky

There is one person certainly suffering from a humanitarian crisis in Gaza: Gilad Shalit. He has been held hostage by the terrorist group Hamas, in breach of every international law and human rights convention, for over 40,800 hours,, 1700 days,, 4.5 years; and denied so much as a visit by the Red Cross. Shalit, born in Israel in 1986, was kidnapped by eight Hamas terrorists in an unprovoked attack on June 25, 2006, when he and other Israeli Defence Soldiers were guarding a border crossing named "Kerem Shalom," ironically translated as "Vineyard of Peace," to enable trade between Israel and Gaza. Today of course there is very little trade with Gaza, with the exception of humanitarian supplies, out of fear that terrorists will abuse it to smuggle weapons.

During the attack, two Israeli soldiers, Lieutenant Hanan Barak and Sergeant Pavel Slutzker, both 20, were killed, and three others were seriously injured. At the time of Shalit's abduction, he was 19 years old; this August he will turn 25.

Since that day, with the pitiful exception of one 3-minute video and three letters over a period of four and half years, Shalit has been denied any contact with the outside world: no Red Cross, no Geneva Convention rights, no letters or packages from family: Nothing. The details of his physical condition, and even his location, remain unknown.

At the time of the Flotilla incident last June, so called "peace activists" bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza rejected a request by Shalit's father to bring his son a letter and small package.

As a soldier, Shalit is entitled to certain basic rights afforded to Prisoners of War as enunciated in the Third Geneva Convention: humane treatment (Article 13); knowledge of the location of his captivity (Article 23); regular exchange of correspondence with the outside world (Article 71), and visitation and unfettered access to him by Israeli representatives and the Red Cross (Article 126). In 1700 days of captivity, Hamas has not afforded a single one of these rights to Shalit.

Human Rights Watch states that Hamas authorities are violating the laws of war and that his prolonged incommunicado detention is "cruel and inhumane and may amount to torture". Even the Goldstone Report, which out of 600 plus pages devoted only 2 paragraphs to Gilad Shalit, urged his immediate release on humanitarian grounds, and, pending such release, that he be given the full rights accorded to a prisoner of war under the Geneva Conventions, including visits from the Red Cross.

The response from Hamas or pro-Palestinian activists when the name Shalit is raised, often is: "but what about Israel? They have thousands of our prisoners." The Israeli Prison Service acknowledges that there are approximately 2,000 Hamas prisoners currently serving time in Israeli prisons for offenses of national security. But the Hamas prisoners, together with their associates from Hizballah, Islamic Jihad, PFLP, and so on, had routinely committed war crimes, including indiscriminate and deliberate attacks upon civilians; failure to carry weapons openly; failure to wear fixed distinctive signs recognizable at a distance (many purposely dress as civilians to be indistinguishable from them), and generally failing to conduct their operations in accordance with the laws of war.

Although, unlike Shalit, these individuals are not entitled to the benefits and privileges afforded by the Prisoner of War protections under the Third Geneva Convention, and are subject to prosecution as war criminals, Israel affords them these protections nonetheless. Terror prisoners in Israel have full visitation rights from the families; access to lawyers (paid for by Israel); access to judicial review; regular visits and inspections by Red Cross representatives; and their location is publicly known. Many of these prisoners also receive cell phones, have internet access and the ability to study for further degrees.

Ironically, therefore, fighters belonging to groups like Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, who are not entitled to the protected status of POWs, are afforded those rights by Israel, whereas Shalit, who, as a POW, is entitled to these rights, is afforded not even one of them.

To mark the anniversary of his capture, a two-week Awareness Campaign was launched this week by the Israeli Embassy in London, in coordination with some non-governmental organizations. There will be various events across the UK, including "ad-vans" driving around the country telling Shalit's story. On February 24, vigils will be held also in London, Manchester and Leeds.

Yes, there is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza: the continued detention of Gilad Shalit, 1700 days and counting. Will anyone else speak up?

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Arsen Ostrovsky

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