Friday, March 4, 2011

Farrakhan: Jews Behind Mideast Crisis


Louis Farrakhan, the reliably anti-Semitic leader of the Nation of Islam, claimed Tuesday at the Nation’s annual meeting in the Chicago area that Jews and Zionists were “trying to push the US into war” and — in a revival of hoary anti-Semitic clichés — that “Zionists dominate the government of the United States of America and her banking system.”

The elderly Jew-hater also directed a warning to the president not to move against the man Farrakhan called “my brother and my friend,” Muammar Gaddafi: “President Obama, if you allow the Zionists to push you, to mount a military offensive against Gaddafi and you go in and kill him and his sons, as you did with Saddam Hussein and his sons… I’m warning you this is a Libyan problem, let the Libyans solve their problem among themselves.”

Farrakhan at the same time denied that he was – despite appearances — “just somebody who’s got something out for the Jewish people.” Farrakhan directly addressed those who might get such a crazy idea: “You’re stupid.” And he explained: “Do you think I would waste my time if I did not think it was important for you to know Satan? My job is to pull the cover off of Satan so that he will never deceive you and the people of the world again.”

A rational analyst would be hard-pressed to explain why Zionists might wish the U.S. to embark upon a military operation to remove Gaddafi, when the successor to his odious regime is likely to be an Islamic state that is even more virulently anti-America and anti-Israeli than that of the aging rock star who is still quixotically holding the fort in Tripoli. But Farrakhan’s anti-Jewish conspiracy paranoia is not entirely irrational, either: it is founded in a book revered by Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, albeit not in a wholly conventional fashion: the Koran.

Neither Sunni nor Shi’ite Muslim authorities generally regard the Nation of Islam as an orthodox expression of Islam; nevertheless, its adherents identify themselves as Muslims and read the Koran. And the Koran, whether or not it really is, in the words of Michael Potemra, Deputy Managing Editor of National Review magazine, “one of the loveliest books ever written…full of spiritual wisdom,” is undeniably full of venomous hatred toward the Jews.

The Koran puts forward a clear, consistent image of the Jews: they are scheming, treacherous liars and the most dangerous enemies of the Muslims. This theological tenet provides a basis for Islam’s deeply rooted anti-Semitism, and illuminates Farrakhan’s latest outburst. For the Koran depicts the Jews as a gang of corrupt, deceitful cut-throats.

The Koran condemns Jews for speaking “a lie concerning Allah knowingly” (3:75). The Jews are “men who will listen to any lie” (5:41). They also spread them: “There is a party of them who distort the Scripture with their tongues, that ye may think that what they say is from the Scripture, when it is not from the Scripture. And they say: It is from Allah, when it is not from Allah; and they speak a lie concerning Allah knowingly” (3:78). They are so deceitful that they dare to distort “Divine Revelation and Allah’s Sacred Books. Allah says in this regard: ‘Therefore woe be unto those who write the Scripture with their hands and then say, ‘This is from Allah,’ that they may purchase a small gain therewith. Woe unto them for that their hands have written, and woe unto them for that they earn thereby’” (2:79).

The Jews in the Koran are so obstinate before Allah that they refuse to believe in the prophets Allah has sent them, even Moses, telling him: “O Moses! We will not believe in thee till we see Allah plainly” (2:55). They are hypocrites (2:14; 2:44) who “grow arrogant” before the messengers of Allah, refusing to believe in some and killing others (2:87). They are so arrogant and haughty that they “claimed to be the sons and of Allah and His beloved ones” – a fault they share with the Christians: “The Jews and Christians say: We are sons of Allah and His loved ones” (5:18).

The Jews also try to lead others away from the truth: “Many of the People of the Scripture long to make you disbelievers after your belief, through envy on their own account, after the truth hath become manifest unto them” (2:109). They rejoice in others’ ill-fortune: “If a lucky chance befall you, it is evil unto them, and if disaster strike you they rejoice thereat” (3:120).

And so when Farrakhan refers to Jews as Satanic deceivers, he is actually being more moderate than the Koran itself. For Farrakhan and his ilk, eliminating the Jewish state is not just a foreign policy goal; it is a religious imperative.

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Gaddafi Strikes Oil Areas, Arabs Weigh Chavez Mediation

by Al Arabiya Latest News

Muammar Gaddafi and key aides will be probed over allegations they committed crimes against humanity while fending off the uprising in Libya, the International Criminal Court's prosecutor said Thursday.

"We have identified some individuals with de facto or formal authority, who have authority over the security forces," that have clamped down on a rebellion that started on February 15, Luis Moreno-Ocampo told journalists in The Hague.

"They are Muammar Gaddafi, his inner circle, including some of his sons."

Ocampo also listed individuals including the veteran Libyan leader's head of personal security, and the head of the external security forces.

More than 100,000 people have already fled Libya to escape a vicious crackdown by Gaddafi loyalists which has left at least 1,000 dead, according to UN estimates.

Meanwhile, Gaddafi's forces struck at rebel control of oil export hubs in Libya's east for a second day on Thursday as Arab states weighed a plan to end turmoil Washington said could make the country "a giant Somalia."

A leader of the uprising against Gaddafi's 42-year-old rule said he would reject any proposal for talks with Gaddafi to end the conflict in the world's 12th largest oil exporting nation.

Chavez’s offer considered

We can confirm Libya's interest in accepting this proposal, as well as the Arab League's
Andres Izarra, Venzuela's information minister

Libya and the Arab League are considering a mediation proposal by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in the North African nation, a Venezuelan minister said Thursday.

"We can confirm Libya's interest in accepting this proposal, as well as the Arab League's" interest, Information Minister Andres Izarra told AFP.

He added that Chavez, an ally of Gaddfi, recently spoke personally by telephone with Libya's embattled strongman to discuss the proposal.

The Arab League's secretary general Amr Mussa told AFP Thursday that it is "studying" Chavez's proposal.

"We are studying the proposal," Mussa said, declining to give any further details on the regional forum's response to Chavez's suggestion.

Meanwhile, France rejected Thursday Chavez’s offer and dismissed talk of any solution that would allow embattled leader Gaddfi to stay in power.

"Any mediation that allows Colonel Gaddafi to succeed himself is obviously not welcome," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said in response to Chavez's proposal, speaking after talks with his British counterpart William Hague.

Chavez and Gaddafi have discussed plans for an international peacekeeping mission to mediate the crisis in Libya, rocked by two weeks of bloody clashes with protesters seeking to topple his 41-year-old regime.

Both leaders regularly make public condemnations of U.S. "imperialism" and have exchanged visits in recent years. Ties are so close that Gaddafi was rumored at one point to have fled to Caracas, claims later denied.

Venezuela's leader also refused to condemn Gaddafi for his crackdown on protesters, spoke with the Libyan leader on Tuesday, Information Minister Andres Izarra said through Twitter.

Oil terminal bombed

Witnesses said a warplane bombed the eastern oil terminal town of Brega, a day after troops loyal to Gaddafi launched a ground and air attack on the town that was repulsed by rebels spearheading a popular revolt against his four-decade-old rule.

The rebels, armed with rocket launchers, anti-aircraft guns and tanks, called on Wednesday for U.N.-backed air strikes on foreign mercenaries it said were fighting for Gaddafi.

But perhaps mindful of a warning by Gaddafi that foreign intervention could cause "another Vietnam", Western officials expressed caution about any sort of military involvement including the imposition of a no-fly zone.

A rebel officer said government air strikes targeted the airport of Brega and a rebel position in the nearby town of Ajdabiyah, referring to two rebel-held locations.

Opposition soldiers also said troops loyal to Gaddafi had been pushed back to Ras Lanuf, home to another major oil terminal and 600 km (375 miles) east of Tripoli.

"Gaddafi's forces are in Ras Lanuf," Mohammed al-Maghrabi, a rebel volunteer, told Reuters, echoing comments by others.

The uprising, the bloodiest yet against long-serving rulers in the Middle East and North Africa, is causing a humanitarian crisis, especially on the Tunisian border where tens of thousands of foreign workers have fled to safety.

NATO intervention

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday it has no intention of intervening in Libya but is planning for "all eventualities."

Rasmussen said at a press conference that NATO officials "take note" of a request from the Libyan opposition for foreign nations to launch airstrikes against mercenaries hired by Muammar Gaddafi's.

"We follow and monitor the situation closely, take note of requests forwarded," he said after meeting with Montenegro's Prime Minister Igor Luksic at NATO headquarters.

However he added: "I would like to stress that NATO does not have any intention to intervene but as a defense alliance and security organization we do prudent planning for all eventualities."

The NATO chief has insisted the UN Security Council would have to approve any military action in Libya, including the enforcement of a no-fly zone.

Meanwhile, Germany said that it is against any foreign military intervention in Libya, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said on Thursday.

"We do not participate, and we do not share a discussion of military intervention, because we think this would be very counterproductive," he said at a meeting of central European foreign ministers in Slovakia.

He also said the situation was not ripe to decide on imposing a no-fly zone over Libya.

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Al Arabiya Latest News

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There Are No Jews in Tahrir Square

by Rachel Wahba

You will find no Jews in Tahir Square. Or in Mansoura, where Grandfather Wahba had a drug store. I scan the architecture on CNN looking past the screaming demonstrators. I want to see Egypt, Dad’s Egypt, and imagine what he would be saying about the situation today; almost four years since he died.

Egypt is in the news and how I miss my father.

I see “Rioting in Mansoura, Cairo, Alexandria,” flash on the news. Cities that were home to my dad, at different points in his life. Born to an old Egyptian family in Mansoura, “the Wahbas were real (not transplants from another country), Egyptians” he bragged. They were indigenous to the land, originally farmers, peasants, in Midghram.

When President Obama spoke in Cairo he didn’t ask, “Where are your Jews”? Once not so long ago Egyptian Jews were an integral part of Egypt’s infrastructure. Obama did mention the Copts (Egypt’s Christians,) another indigenous group who suffer discrimination and he asked for “tolerance”.
ASK WHERE ARE THE JEWS WHO LIVED HERE FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS I wanted to break through his eloquence. But yelling at the TV is not my style.

And now I shall deliver some mostly ignored facts and have my own Tahir Square experience:

In 1948 there were 75,000 Jews in Egypt After the expulsion in l956 during Nasser’s reign, most of Egypt’s Jews were forced to flee. My grandfather had to sign a document saying he would never return. A variety of creative humiliations accompanied the confiscation of any property. Nothing of monetary value was allowed out with their one suitcase of clothing.

Penniless, the majority of Egyptian Jews ended up in transit camps in Israel.

A wave of expulsions of Arab Jews from all over the Middle East and North Africa numbered in the tens of thousands:

Financially ripped off and exiled from their native lands, some since Biblical times: Aden (8,000), Algeria (140,000), Iraq (135,000), Lebanon (5,000), Libya (38,000), Morocco (265,000), Tunisia (105,000) and Yemen, (55,000).

The total count is 800,000. Kicked out, and all their possessions confiscated. The world did not scream and there was no CNN, and I don’t know if the refugees made it in the Movie Reel News.

No, there are no Jews demonstrating in Mansoura or Tahir Square today. No Egyptian Jews strolling The Corniche in Alexandria.

In 2005 there were approximately 100 old Jews left in Egypt.

And I imagine most are dead or too old to walk today.

So what next?

Israel is home to most Jews from Arab lands today. They are long out of the Maabarot, the transit camps. They are grandparents and great grandparents to children who serve in the Israeli army.

Egyptian Jews are watching the news, perhaps also scanning the once familiar landscape. They utter “Inshallah,” God willing, may this Uprising end well. I too, from my safe home in America, pray, Inshallah, may it end well, and Israel be safe.

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Rachel Wahba

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The Indefensible Case for Withdrawal

by Ari Harow

The Middle East is in the midst of an historic upheaval. But despite the Arab street’s clear demands for regime change, there are still those who insist that a withdrawal from the West Bank is the recipe for regional stability.

They could not be further from the truth.

In reality, moves to delegitimize our presence in Judea and Samaria, and ultimately to hasten our withdrawal to the 1967 armistice lines, would prove catastrophe for democratic hopes in the region. If there is to be any progress, it must be grounded in the concept of defensible borders.

As the world waits for Libya to become the latest tyranny to tumble, it is far from certain that democracy will follow Muammar Gaddafi’s exit. Similarly, the path to freedom and truly representative government in Egypt and Tunisia is paved with uncertainty.

Democracy ranks alongside military rule, theocracy and numerous other shades of autocracy as possible outcomes.

Lebanon is the most recent reminder, if one were needed, that the Middle East version of democracy is tenuous at best, forever at the mercy of antidemocratic forces. Lebanon is a regional rarity, enjoying free elections for a multiparty parliament.

Yet in January, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah engineered the dismantling of prime minister Saad Hariri’s government, replacing him with a stooge for the Shi’ite terror movement. Abusing the tools of democracy, Iran has strengthened its stranglehold on the country. Only five years ago, Lebanon appeared poised for freedom after its “Cedar Revolution” had ousted Syria. It doesn’t take a vivid imagination to picture the “Jasmine Revolution” and the “Facebook Revolution” deteriorating in similar fashion.

ISRAEL TOO has been guilty of placing its faith in half-baked democracies. The unconditional withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 was heralded as an opportunity for the Palestinian Authority to institute freedom, prosperity and the rule of law. Instead, previously thriving industries in Gaza were left to rot, and poverty remained. Seizing the opportunity, another Iranian proxy, Hamas, seized the reins of power, violently overthrowing Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah, whose officials fled for their lives. More than five years later, the Negev still faces Hamas rockets.

With Hamas dedicated to our destruction, the international community urges greater trust to be placed in the hands of Abbas. Yet his regime is anything but a model of good government. Abbas’s term as PA president expired more than a year ago, and parliamentary elections are similarly overdue. Abbas, seemingly terrified his tenuous rule will be the next target of Arab uproar, scrambled to call elections last week.

And yet this failed democracy is the regime that so many insist we empower by withdrawing from the West Bank.

Even if Abbas were willing to genuinely reform his authority, introducing genuine checks and balances and democratic principles, the clear danger remains that Hamas, backed by its Iranian patrons, will repeat its Gaza trick.

With the Middle East at an historic crossroads, a withdrawal to the indefensible 1967 armistice lines is a risk we simply can’t afford to take, and which the likes of Hamas are all too eager to exploit. A pullout from the West Bank would surely only encourage the Iranian- inspired fundamentalists who hope to add our eastern flank to the trophies of Gaza and Lebanon. Regionally, other extremist forces such as the Muslim Brotherhood would gain inspiration from a perceived Israeli capitulation, fuelling their own appetite for power in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and other countries whose futures have yet to be determined.

Withdrawal threatens not only Israel, but also Western illusions of peace and democracy in the Middle East. A pullback to the 1967 lines would leave the region’s only genuine democracy exposed at a time of immense uncertainty.

In doing so, reconciliation and genuine peace would become even more unlikely. Any future Israeli-Palestinian talks must therefore be predicated on the necessity of defensible borders.

If not, the dream of a democratic triumph will become more distant than ever.

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Ari Harow served as bureau chief to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and is currently president of 3H Global Enterprise.

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Europe's Double Game in The Middle East

by Soeren Kern

The European Union has long claimed the moral high ground in the Middle East, but for many years it has misrepresented its post-modern "soft power" foreign policy as a morally superior alternative to the United States in the Arab world.

The popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East are exposing the hypocritical ambiguities that underpin European foreign policy. At the same time they are drawing attention to Europe's own democratic deficit.

As Egyptians were rising up against their government in early February, for instance, the European Union's "Foreign Minister," Baroness Catherine Ashton, penned an article in the London-based Guardian newspaper saying she wanted to see "deep democracy" take root in Egypt. Ashton warned that Egypt should not become a "surface democracy" with votes and elections, but that it should be a "deep democracy," which involves "respect for the rule of law, freedom of speech, an independent judiciary and impartial administration." Ashton also said the Egyptian government "must respond to the wishes of their people."

The irony of Ashton's cheek in lecturing other countries on democracy is that she was elevated to her current position neither through "surface democracy," nor through "deep democracy," but through backroom wheeling-and-dealing in the European Union's unelected Narcissocracy, which is notorious for ignoring the wishes of European citizens.

Although Egyptian President's Hosni Mubarak's 30-year reign was propped up by phony elections that were rigged time and time again, arguably he had more democratic legitimacy than Ashton, who has never faced the scrutiny of a ballot box (okay, in 1982 she was elected to become the Treasurer of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament at a time when it was receiving financial support from the Soviet Union), but she and has never once campaigned to win over the hearts and minds of the European masses she claims to represent.

Moreover, Ashton's current position, formally known as "The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy," was established by the European Union's controversial Lisbon Treaty. Also known as the Reform Treaty, the Lisbon Treaty is nearly identical to the European Constitution, a document that was soundly rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005. Likened to a "slow-moving coup d'état," the 250-plus page Lisbon Treaty is all about the centralization of political power by an unelected ruling clique in Brussels. The treaty not only establishes a permanent EU president, foreign minister and a European Union diplomatic service; it also obligates European nations to surrender, in many areas, their sovereignty to centralized decision-making.

Given the European Union's own lack of democratic legitimacy, it is not surprising that Ashton's calls for more democracy in the Arab world have come across as patronizing and hypocritical.. It also goes a long way in explaining why Europe's "value-based" foreign policy has been unable to formulate a coherent response to the momentous changes taking place in the Middle East.

Consider the EU's much-vaunted European Neighborhood Policy, a scheme that involves providing aid and trade to countries in North Africa and the Middle East in return for progress on democracy and human rights. Over the past decade, Arab autocrats have received billions of euros in financial handouts, even as Europeans have turned a blind eye to lack of democratic reforms in the region.

While Europeans talk a good game about democracy promotion, in practice they have been far more interested in pursing realpolitik, largely in order to protect their business interests in North Africa and the Middle East, and to ensure regional stability to keep a lid on illegal immigration.

One example involves Tunisia. The autocratic government of Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali secured more than €3.6 billion ($ 4.9 billion) from European taxpayers since 1995, largely at the behest of France. In the midst of the Jasmine Revolution (as the political upheaval in Tunisia is being called), the European Union continued to insist that Ben Ali's government was a success story.

During the early days of fighting in Tunisia, French Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie was vacationing in the seaside town of Tabarka using a jet owned by a Tunisian businessman linked to Ben Ali. She was accompanied on the December trip by her partner Patrick Ollier, also a minister within the French government.

According to the French newspaper Le Canard Enchaîné, Alliot-Marie's parents bought shares in a property company owned by an associate of Ben Ali while protests were going on in Tunisia. Just three days before Ben Ali was removed from office, Alliot-Marie offered the "know how" of France's security forces to help quell the fighting in Tunisia.

Alliot-Marie resigned from her post on February 27; French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that his ministers should stick to France for their holidays to avoid gaffes, after it emerged that Prime Minister François Fillon had accepted a free holiday from ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Another example involves Libya. The European Union, which receives over 85% of Libya's crude oil exports, has been split over how to react to the violence engulfing the country. A few northern European countries have called for immediate sanctions on the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. But they have been opposed by southern European countries like Italy and Spain, which have significant oil and gas and interests in Libya, and which also fear a "biblical exodus" of refugees.

Libya exports natural gas to Italy by way of an underwater pipeline, and to Spain in the form of liquefied natural gas. Libya accounts for some 13% of Italy's total gas imports, and just over 1.5% of total Spanish gas imports. But many more European countries receive crude oil from Libya. Austria receives 21.2% of its crude oil imports from Libya, France 15.7%, Germany 7.7%, Greece 14.6%, Ireland 23.3%, Italy 22.0%, the Netherlands 2.3%, Portugal 11.1%, Spain 12.1%, and the United Kingdom 8.5%, according to the International Energy Agency.

Britain has long been accused of pandering to Libyan autocrats. In August 2009, the Labour government was involved in releasing from prison the bomber of Pan Am Flight 103, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, killing 270 people. British commentators have speculated that the release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi, who had served only eight years of a life sentence, was motivated by lucrative Libyan oil deals as well as anti-Americanism.

Germany, Switzerland and Austria, all of which have important business interests in Iran, have long resisted more vigorous sanctions to contain Tehran's nuclear program.

In Spain, where the Socialist government never misses an opportunity to criticize Israel, the only real democracy in the Middle East, Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has been pleading with the autocrats in Qatar to invest €3 billion in Spain's ailing banking sector.

But European bureaucrats are skilful players of the double game, and will respond with more moral posturing. It's all part of the act.

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Soeren Kern

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The Bloody Beast Salivates as Pro-Islamist Journalists Ring the Dinner Bell

by Phyllis Chesler

The Bloody Beast is really back. Only the willfully blind can deny it.

Let me spell it out, let me risk, yet again, being accused of “Islamophobia” (which does not exist), and of “racism” which very much does. Let the record show: I am not a “racist.”

The Beast is radical, fundamentalist, “Islamist” Islam; the beast is anti-Western, anti-Christian, anti-Hindu and anti-Jewish Muslim supremacists, who are now also terrorists/jihadists. They—Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Moammar Gaddafi, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah—are not wrestling with themselves quietly, spiritually, to overcome lust or hatred. Oh the contrary. They are blowing people up, sending weapons, employing mercenaries, twisting minds, spewing hatred.

Yes, I am talking about the Jihad which has just claimed the lives of two American airmen in Germany—the shooter, 21-year-old Arif Uka, from Kosovo, was said to have yelled the proverbial “Allahu Akbar” (God is Great) as he shot them down in cold blood. This is precisely what the Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Hassan, also yelled as he massacred 13 American soldiers on their home base in Texas.

The jihadists are telling us, showing us, that the Middle East and the Muslim world are here, both in Europe and in North America. Their gruesome and highly symbolic tactics and targets are here and of course, in India too. Does anyone remember 9/11, 3/11, 7/7, 11/26? How can anyone forget the World Trade Center, the Madrid train bombing, the London subway bombing, the attack on Mumbai?

The jihadists are also all over the Western campus (which is about to launch its annual grotesque Israeli Apartheid Week in 55 cities); the beast is present in all the “no go” zones throughout Europe where police dare not tread; it reigns among the politically correct “useful idiots” in the pro-Islamist Western media.

The beast can walk and chew gum at the same time. Thus, yesterday, Shahbaz Bhatti, the only Christian cabinet minister in Pakistan (Minister of Minorities) was assassinated for his opposition to the Islamic “blasphemy” laws. This means that one cannot criticize Islam (especially if what one says is true); if you do, you will be killed. According to leaflets left by his killers, the the 42-year-old Catholic Pakistani Minister was also assassinated because he was, quite simply, an “infidel Christian”; as such, Bhatti was viewed as unacceptable as a Pakistani government leader. In addition to defending the rights of minorities, Minister Bhatti had also defended the rights of rape victims. His killers claim to have acted for the Punjabi Taliban and al Qaeda.

The good news?

Finally, it is, or should be, overwhelmingly clear that the Arab Middle East has problems of its own that go far beyond America’s military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, and far, far beyond Israel’s bright but tiny existence. Enormous poverty, tyranny, corruption, illiteracy, no free press, no freedom of religion, absolutely no personal and political freedom—such sorrows account for the frustration, resentment, and suffering of the majority of its inhabitants. There’s more. Today, both Muslim and infidel women are increasingly at risk in Muslim countries where forced veiling, forced female genital mutilation, forced child marriage, polygamy, and routine honor killings are normalized and even valorized.

Scapegoating Israel and America for such cultural, historical, tribal, and religious barbarism will not solve these larger problems. The cell phone generation that tried to launch a genuine revolution in Iran has, so far, been defeated. It remains a question as to whether their brave counterparts in Egypt will actually be able to win the day away from the far more powerful and organized Muslim Brotherhood and away from all the Egyptians who still want sharia law.

This point is utterly lost on both Tom Friedman in the New York Times and Andre Aciman in the Wall Street Journal.

Aciman wrote what promised to be a good op-ed piece. He understands why Israelis might be “nervous” about what’s happening in Egypt.

The opening of the Suez Canal to two Iranian warships does not bode well. Neither does radical Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s ability to draw over a million Egyptians to hear him preach in Tahrir Square. Nor does last week’s attack by the army on a Coptic monastery, or the brutal assault on CBS News correspondent Lara Logan.

So far so good, yes? But then Aciman, an Egyptian Jew, born in Alexandria, does a 360 degree turn and writes that “Israel cannot afford to wait and see which way the wind blows as rebellion sweeps through the Middle East…this means striking an honorable deal with the Palestinians, vacating areas whose occupation is unjustifiable and allowing the Palestinians to have a country….Israel must learn to dream again.”

Is Aciman still dreaming of an Oslo Accord? Is he truly dreaming? Israel has never opposed a Palestinian state. The “Palestinians” (who used to be the Jews) and the Arab League have “occupied” a state of refusal for nearly a hundred years, at least since the Balfour Declaration. Why is Aciman bringing Israel and the Palestinians into this column? What politically correct reflex, what tunnel vision has guided him to spend four paragraphs on this non sequitur?

Then, we have Friedman. He congratulates President Obama for being an “African-American” (not a bi-racial American, which he surely is), and he congratulates Americans for having elected an “African-American with the middle name Hussein as president.” He believes this is one of the “factors” that have led to what he views as a mainly positive uprising in the Arab world. Friedman mentions other factors of influence (Google Earth, for example), but then, like Aciman, he just can’t help himself and he brings in Israel in a way that is both disquieting and patently ridiculous. He actually writes this:

The Arab TV network Al Jazeera has a big team covering Israel today. Here are some of the stories they have been beaming into the Arab world: Israel’s previous prime minister, Ehud Olmert, had to resign because he was accused of illicitly taking envelopes stuffed with money from a Jewish-American backer. An Israeli court recently convicted Israel’s former President, Moshe Katsav on two counts of rape, based on accusations by former employees.

Excuse me? Is he saying that the people who came out to listen to al-Qaradawi or who voted for Hamas or for the Muslim Brotherhood—the Arab men who assaulted Lara Logan, the naked-faced infidel, will be holding orderly due process trials? Is he, too, dreaming?

Actually, Friedman gives Israel a great back-handed compliment. He states that since Israel tries its leaders for corruption and brings them to justice that the Arabs can’t help “but notice.”

I worry about the Arab Muslim dissidents, the southeast Asian Christians, the women, oh, how I worry about the women. Algeria once had a revolution too—but not for women, for whom they rolled the clock back. Khomeini’s so-called revolution set women back 50-100 years. I have just been told that Tunisian women are afraid—very afraid—that the post-self-immolation uprising in their country might spell their doom in terms of women’s rights.

Thus far, the only Arabs who have been calling for a feminist revolution are some brave Saudi Arabians (I’ve written about this here, here, and here) but thus far, they have remained a “virtual” revolution on Facebook only. Their modest demands for human rights and for women’s rights have not been heard in Tahrir Square, in Tripoli, in Tunis, in Manama.

Andre, Thomas, are you awake or are you both still dreaming?

Update: Arif Uka, the Franfurt shooter, is, according to my German-based source, a “known Islamist” who “calls himself on Facebook Abu Reyyan. He seems to be friends with Salafi Islamists like Pierre Vogel and is part of a hardcore scene of Islamist militants in Germany.” The Facebook page has been taken down.

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Phyllis Chesler

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Hearing: Yemen's Instability is al-Qaida's Gain

by IPT News

Unrest in Yemen threatens to create a power vacuum that can be exploited by al-Qaida's franchise there and there's little the United States can do to help, three experts testified before a House subcommittee Wednesday.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) already constitutes the most dangerous terrorist threat to attack the U.S. homeland, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano testified last month. The panel of security experts before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism Wednesday agreed with her assessment.

As President Ali Abdullah Saleh fends off growing protests against his regime, military resources will be diverted away from efforts to combat al-Qaida operations there. That gives the terrorist group space to coalesce with other tribal groups and enhance their base of operations.

"With the regime increasingly focused on its survival, it is likely to shift resources away from targeting AQAP, freeing the organization to plot attacks," said Barak Barfi of the New America Foundation. "In short, 2011 holds great promise for a group that has historically thrived on political instability."

The terrorist group already has benefited greatly from the deteriorating security situation in Yemen. President Ali Abdullah Saleh's security forces are currently at war on three fronts: 1) a civil war against Houthi tribesmen in the north; 2) the fight against a secessionist movement in the south; and 3) the war against al-Qaida, which Yemen regards as a relatively minor threat to its stability.

The government's inability to control its territory "provides the space al Qaida craves, using poverty and legitimate grievances against a repressive domestic regime to win support," said Christopher Boucek of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

As a result, AQAP has eclipsed the core al-Qaida organization "as the primary terrorist threat to U.S. national security," said Boucek. "AQAP has emerged as the organization most likely to kill American nationals and to attack U.S. interests."

Boucek, Barfi and fellow panelist Jarret Brachman of Cronus Global painted a troubling picture of the situation in Yemen. AQAP is an increasingly dangerous, capable group of terrorists, they agreed, while a weak, corruption-plagued Yemeni government struggles to keep up.

The attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 235 on Christmas Day 2009 demonstrated al-Qaida's determination to stage an attack on American soil. The October 2010 plot to conceal explosives in cargo packages mailed from Yemen was another example. In both cases, the worst-case scenario was narrowly avoided, "but not by successful proactive counterterrorism efforts," Boucek said. "We cannot count on our luck continuing."

Recruiting New American Jihadists Online

From its base in Yemen, AQAP has developed a successful strategy for using the Internet to mobilize online followers in the United States. "AQAP now provides its online community with a compelling, comic-book experience, one that equips individuals with the tools they need while de-mystifying the path they must take to become their own al-Qaida superhero," Brachman said.

He likened the jihadist recruitment effort to fantasy football, allowing armchair fans in the United States and other Western countries to "put on a jersey" and feel committed to the team. "They've turned al-Qaida into an online game, into a fantasy football event," he said.

"Just as kids in the United States trade comic books and baseball cards, Tweets and Facebook comments, American supporters of al-Qaida now can trade AQAP media products and insights. They can play along online or try to replicate AQAP's adventures at home," Brachman said. "AQAP has been able to put those American supporters on a noble quest to vanquish injustice and save the world from the invading evil."

In addition, Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born jihadist cleric, "has managed to become the most likable terrorist among Western al-Qaida supporters," Brachman said. In tandem with AQAP's Inspire magazine, Awlaki has managed to lower practical and psychological barriers for potential jihadists. In the past, al-Qaida had been frustrated by the fact that its online supporters were content to be part-time terrorist sympathizers who were unwilling to act on their beliefs.

A Weak Ally in Yemen Strengthens the AQAP

AQAP "is firmly entrenched in Yemen," Barfi told the subcommittee. U.S. airstrikes in 2009 and 2010 failed to neutralize the organization, and last year it stepped up attacks on Yemeni military units. Although U.S. military training has gone a long way to strengthen Yemen's armed forces, the government remains "ill-equipped to subdue AQAP," he said. "It is unable to operate efficiently in the tribal areas the organization calls home. Units dispatched to arrest AQAP cells are often captured."

In addition, the Saleh regime does not regard the AQAP as the major security threat Washington does. Saleh (the strongman who has run the country for more than three decades) has sought to co-opt jihadists in the past, using them to quell domestic rebellions. Moreover, Saleh has told American diplomats that he is more concerned with fighting secessionist forces in Yemen than in fighting the AQAP.

The group remains obsessed with launching large-scale attacks against the United States, but smaller, "lone wolf attacks" have a greater chance of success. From a security standpoint, the problem is that attacks capable of doing economic and psychological damage to the United States do not take much expertise, Barfi said. The terrorists are constantly changing the nature of attacks, which he described as "vexation and exhaustion exercises."

People don't have to die in order for an attack to be effective in hitting the United States. After the "underwear bomber" and the cargo package attacks, the United States made changes in airline security and cargo screening, both of which increased terrorism's costs to the country.

Effective American options are limited. If the United States takes military action against jihadists in Yemen, it undermines Saleh and aids his domestic opponents who seek to cast him as an American tool. American economic and technical aid could be increased, but corruption is a major impediment. The witnesses suggested short-run solutions to the problem could include persuading Saudi Arabia to play a more constructive approach towards Yemen. "Unlike Washington's aid, which seeks to strengthen Yemen, Riyadh's money is funneled to the tribes to weaken the central regime and keep it in line" with Saudi goals, Barfi said.

For now, Washington's best bet appears to be bolstering the Saleh government in an effort to persuade it to take a more forceful stance against the AQAP. "Very clearly, Yemen's problems are not staying in Yemen and AQAP poses a grave and growing threat to American domestic security," Boucek said.

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IPT News

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan's sole Christian Minister, is Assassinated in Islamabad

by Karin Brulliard and Shaiq Hussain

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Pakistan's federal minorities minister, a Christian, was gunned down by suspected Islamist militants in this capital city Wednesday in the second killing this year of a senior government official who had spoken out against the country's stringent anti-blasphemy laws.

Shahbaz Bhatti, the sole Christian cabinet member in majority-Muslim Pakistan, was shot multiple times by gunmen who surrounded his car as he left for work from his mother's house, near his home in a residential neighborhood. The attackers fled, but fliers scattered at the scene bore the names of the militant Islamist groups Punjabi Taliban and al-Qaeda.

In Washington, President Obama said Bhatti had "most courageously challenged the blasphemy laws of Pakistan under which individuals have been prosecuted for speaking their minds or practicing their own faiths" and called on Pakistan to bring the killers to justice.

The assassination came as a severe blow to Pakistani liberals, who are increasingly being silenced by Muslim hard-liners willing to use violence against those who do not share their views. Bhatti's death removed one of the few leaders still openly advocating the reform of laws that make insulting Islam a capital crime - a stance that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and other politicians disowned after the governor of Punjab province was killed in January.

The governor, Salman Taseer, had also argued for changes to the laws, which he and Bhatti said were used as tools to settle vendettas and persecute members of religious minorities. The Pakistani news media and a broad spectrum of clerics have repeatedly turned that characterization around, equating its proponents with blasphemers.

The police guard who killed Taseer has since been lauded as a hero even by Pakistan's lawyers and mainstream Muslims, exposing the broad reach here of religious conservatism and intolerance.

As they did after Taseer's assassination, government officials condemned Bhatti's killing Wednesday. Farahnaz Ispahani, a spokeswoman for President Asif Ali Zardari, said in a statement that "the time has come for the federal government and provincial governments to speak out and to take a strong stand against these murderers to save the very essence of Pakistan."

But the government, led by Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP), has not championed the views of Taseer and Bhatti. Zardari and Gillani did not attend Taseer's funeral. Sherry Rehman, a ruling party lawmaker who had proposed legislation to reform the anti-blasphemy laws, withdrew the bill, saying the party did not support it. The firmest party statement against extremism after Taseer's killing came from the son of Zardari and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007 - but he spoke from London.

A senior government official defended those responses as pragmatic steps taken deliberately by the party, which says it stands for liberal ideals.

"These people are trying to push us into a position to react in an open way, and when we do that, there is going to be a wholesale slaughter," the official said, referring to extremists.

Rights activists say that position amounts to an appeasement of extremists. Ali Dayan Hasan, Human Rights Watch's representative in Pakistan, said that the government must systematically arrest those who incite and praise killers in the name of religion and that the PPP needs to mobilize its large voting base to take to the streets in support of tolerance.

"This whole idea that you can effectively combat the Taliban and Talibanization without combating intolerance in Pakistani society is a big hoax," Hasan said. "There are 100 different ways of signaling large-scale support for [people such as Bhatti.] The PPP failed to engage in any of those."

Bhatti led a government investigation late last year into the case of a Christian woman sentenced to death on blasphemy charges, a penalty that drew international attention. Bhatti said at the time that he had determined she was innocent and deserved to be pardoned and that Zardari had appointed him to a committee to review the blasphemy statutes.

The fliers left at the scene of his assassination made apparent reference to that committee, saying it was formed "in support of the blasphemers" and led by "a Christian infidel, a cursed one, Shahbaz Bhatti."

In an interview last month, Bhatti declined to criticize the government for not pushing for the reforms, saying Zardari and Gillani had demonstrated their support by keeping him on as minorities affairs minister after a cabinet reshuffle. But he said he would continue to press for changes to the anti-blasphemy laws and work on interfaith initiatives.

"I can't compromise," he said. "I want to give hope for those people whose voices are under fear and threat. . . . If you look on the ground, there is no one boldly speaking out."

Bhatti said threats to his life, which he had received for years, increased after Taseer's death. One recent phone call, he said, came from someone who identified himself as a Taliban member and threatened to behead him. Bhatti said that he had requested additional security but that law enforcement authorities were "dilly-dallying."

Wajid Ali Durrani, the police chief in Islamabad, said Wednesday that Bhatti had been assigned two police squads of about five officers each to escort his vehicle but that he had chosen not to travel with them Wednesday.

Rising religious extremism has prompted concern in the United States, which has given billions of dollars to help Pakistan's military and government counter the trend.

Bhatti was well known in Washington, which he visited last month and where he met one-on-one with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

On Wednesday, Clinton denounced Bhatti's slaying as an attack "not only on one man, but on the values of tolerance and respect for people of all faiths and backgrounds." She said she had met Bhatti and found him to be a "very impressive, courageous man."

The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, called Bhatti a "Pakistani patriot and a voice for understanding" who was dedicated to making his country "a beacon of democratic tolerance."

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Karin Brulliard and Shaiq Hussain
Staff writer Joby Warrick in Washington contributed to this report.

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Gunman Screams 'Allahu Akbar', Obama Sees Motive Unclear

by Peter Wilson

A terrorist described as a "21-year-old Kosovar who lives in Frankfurt," opened fire at the Frankfurt Airport, killing two American soldiers. Kosovo's population is 80% Muslim. The New York Times reports that "the gunman first talked to the military personnel to find out who they were and then opened fire, shouting ‘God is great' in Arabic."

President Obama mentioned the incident at a press conference:

I want to take a brief moment just to say a few words about a tragic event that took place earlier today in Frankfurt, Germany...We don't have all the information yet, and you will be fully briefed as we get more information, but this is a stark reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our men and women in uniform are making all around the world to keep us safe, and the dangers that they face all around the globe.

Once again, the President and the mainstream media -- even the report on Fox News -- scrupulously avoid the words "Muslim," or "Islam" and reference to any possible religious motive for the attack. It is true that we don't have "all the information"-not that this has been any impediment in the past for the President to shoot off his mouth-but we do have some extremely strong evidence that the man was an Islamic terrorist. The President however sticks to vague generalities and switches the focus away from the murderer toward the sacrifices of the victims.

"A tragic event"? "A stark reminder" of "sacrifices" to "keep us safe" from "dangers"? No, Mr. President, it's a stark reminder that the world is full of Muslim males in their twenties who believe that their God has commanded them to murder Americans.

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Peter Wilson

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Obama, the Apostate

by Jack Kerwick

Has being born to a Muslim father made it more difficult for President Obama to deal with Islamic terror? The question must be asked.

Prior to Barack Obama's election, the conventional wisdom -- not just among the left but a majority of Americans -- was that America's enemies in the Islamic world were motivated, fundamentally, by a hatred of George W. Bush. Thus, the expiration of the 43rd president's second term and the election of his successor, a young, black Democrat with an Islamic-sounding name, elicited ecstatic responses by legions of people in America and Europe who anticipated a virtual end to Western/Islamic hostilities.

Interestingly, things have not only failed to pan out as predicted, evidence suggests that Islamic aggression toward America has actually risen under Obama's watch. For example, Time -- no conservative or right-wing publication -- has reported that over one-third of the 32 terrorist-related events that America has endured since 9/11 occurred during just the first year of Obama's presidency. And lest we forget the true nature of the Fort Hood massacre shooting of 2009, Obama also has the distinction of having presided over the first terrorist attack on American soil since that day of infamy almost a decade ago.

That the Islamic terrorist has become significantly more emboldened during President Obama's watch is indeed a phenomenon provoking no inconsiderable measure of curiosity. Republicans doubtless attribute it to the president's lack of strength and seriousness with respect to "the evil of our time," as Sean Hannity refers to the Islamic threat. Obama, they insist, is an "appeaser," and our enemies know it.

But there are problems with this assessment. In fact, no less than the very same people who subscribe to this position inadvertently contradict it when they observe, correctly, that in spite of his campaign rhetoric and promises, Obama has prosecuted "the War on Terror" not very differently than his predecessor had. On Monday February 14, Donald Rumsfeld, for example, articulated this position on Bill Bennett's radio show -- and the host readily agreed.

This, of course, isn't to suggest that Obama necessarily shares Bush's moral vision; I think there is little question that our current president isn't nearly as comfortable with the hand that circumstances have dealt him as our last president was with the role that history thrust upon him. But this doesn't change the fact that the substance of Obama's reply to the Islamic threat is largely identical to that of Bush's when it comes to boots on the ground.

So, if perceived weakness in Obama doesn't necessarily account for the rise in Islamic hostilities to the United States, what else could it be?

Perhaps we should consider a theory that no one, from what I have been able to gather, has yet advanced in quite the form in which I shall present it. While it is admittedly speculative, it is not for that either implausible or unreasonable: it is not a position that I defend as much as a line of inquiry that there may be some profit in exploring. The thesis is that our enemies in the Islamic world certainly hated Bush, but they hate Obama even more, for while Bush was an infidel, Obama is something worse: an apostate.

Before he was elected, a small handful of people raised this issue of apostasy vis-à-vis Obama: Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, and Edward N. Luttswak (who published his argument in the New York Times, of all places!). There are two questions that they examined: (1) Under Islamic law, is Obama an apostate? (2) If so, how will the belief in the Islamic world that he is an apostate impact his engagement with international terrorism?

A few things are clear.

First, whether Obama ever considered himself a genuine Muslim is neither here nor there -- and he knows this: his father was a Muslim, a consideration alone that, according to the Islamic tradition, decisively establishes that he is, or was, a Muslim. Beyond this, however, while living in Indonesia, he was recognized by all who knew him as a Muslim, for not only was he registered as such at the two schools that he attended, but Obama and his family also attended Mosque services, even if not as regularly as would be expected from a reasonably devout Muslim.

Second, Obama denies that he is a proponent of Islam.

Taken in conjunction with one another, these premises yield the conclusion that in Muslim eyes Obama is indeed a defector of Islam -- that is, an apostate. Whether he is considered from the Islamic perspective as an adult apostate, in which case he deserves a death sentence, or a "youthful apostate," as Spencer suspected is more likely, is immaterial: an apostate he is.

The aforementioned authors were anxious over whether the belief in Obama's apostasy would, in the event that he became president, impair his ability to garner the support of Islamic nations in the fight against terrorism. The theory that I submit for attention is of a different focus.

We now know that Obama is the president of "the Great Satan." As far as I am aware, he hasn't had any more difficult a time in cooperating with the governments of Islamic nations than had President Bush, so it would seem that the fears expressed above haven't come to pass. Yet, as Time has rightly recognized, we also now know that Islamic terrorists have become more aggressive against the United States since Obama was elected. In light of our present knowledge, is it so ridiculous to think that the belief in Obama's apostasy has fueled the jihadist's rage?

Republicans have rightly chided leftists for failing to come to terms with the nature of the evil that we face. But at the same time, they themselves have anything but a perfect record on this score, for they continue to judge the Islamic jihadist in accordance with Western categories. Only once we supplement our evaluative concepts with those by which Muslims perceive the world will we make some distance in reckoning with those who want to slaughter us.

And only once we do this will we recognize the hypothesis I put forth provides some real food for thought.

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Jack Kerwick

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A Middle East on the Edge

by Ryan Mauro

Almost every single government in the Middle East is on the edge or is in danger of severe destabilization. Protests continue to spread throughout the region and beyond in a domino effect that may be on the scale of the collapse of the communist East Bloc. However, the outcome may not be as positive as it is still very uncertain who will fill the power vacuum.

The revolution in Libya continues despite the horrific violence used by Qaddafi’s forces. Local police and military personnel continue to defect as the opposition advances towards Tripoli. There are frequent unconfirmed reports that the defected personnel and armed demonstrators are planning to travel to Tripoli to intervene. Qaddafi has offered no concessions except for a payment of $450 for every family. Europe is taking the lead in helping the Libyan opposition with France and the U.K. endorsing a no-fly zone over the country and Secretary of State Clinton says the U.S. is reaching out to the opposition. There were protests in Tripoli following Friday prayers last week and it should be expected again this week.

Opposition groups have publicized several dates for rallies in the region. On March 1, the Iranian opposition plans major protests after the arrests of the two top opposition leaders, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi. The regime was too afraid of a backlash to make this move until now, with the top prosecutor saying they would be put on trial “once public opinion is ready.” The regime may very well have over-played its hand this time, as a letter allegedly written by senior Revolutionary Guards officers in early February has surfaced where they said they would not open fire on protesters and demanded that the regime change its behavior.

On March 8, protests are going to be held in Kuwait by the Popular Action Bloc and Kuwaiti Progressive Group to try to force the resignation of the Prime Minister. A Facebook group is calling for protests throughout Syria on March 11, though there will likely be protests in front of the Libyan embassy before then. The Syrian security forces arrested 14 people and dispersed a gathering of about 200 people at the embassy recently. The regime is also preparing another aid package to appease the population. Anti-Assad graffiti is now appearing in Damascus and the regime is saying that the holiday of Nowruz on March 21 will not be celebrated, something the Kurds are not going to take lightly.

March 11 is also the day that Saudi activists are planning a protest in the Kingdom in favor of free elections, particularly for the Shura Council, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the release of political prisoners, an independent judiciary and significantly, changes to the religious order. Protests are also being planned for March 20 in Saudi Arabia. A letter has been signed by 100 businessmen, activists and academics calling for the creation of a constitutional monarchy and the reformists received clerical support from Sheikh Salman al-Ouda. King Abdullah has reacted to the pressure by announcing a massive $36 billion aid package and promising to spend $400 billion by 2014 on education, health care and infrastructure.

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and his supporters are holding protests against Hezbollah on March 14. There were protests over the weekend already in Beirut where at least 500 gathered against the sectarianism of the government. One report said as many as 4,000 assembled and also demanded secular rule. Protests will be held the next day in the Palestinian territories to demand unity between Fatah and Hamas. In Gaza, Hamas just stamped out a demonstration of dozens of Palestinians for the release of political prisoners and freedoms. A Facebook group has been created to organize a protest in Qatar on March 16 to demand the resignation of the Emir, the cutting of ties to Israel and Iran and the dismantling of a major U.S. base there.

The unrest dramatically spread to Oman over the weekend when 2,000 protesters assembled in Sohar. They rioted, setting fire to a police station and supermarket. About 500 of them blocked truck deliveries to the port and the security forces intervened, killing between two and six people. Sultan Qaboos bin Said responded by announcing that $390 would be given to the unemployed every month and 50,000 government jobs would be created. A government delegation is being sent to negotiate with the protesters.

The protests in Bahrain continue to escalate with the largest one yet being held last week with over 100,000 participants. The government has released 308 political prisoners, shook up the government and allowed Shiite opposition leaders to return to the country. This has not stymied the protesters, who have now blockaded parliament.

The story is similar in Yemen. On February 25, over 100,000 protested across the country, including 30,000 in Sanaa. The opposition says it will not relent in its demand for the resignation of President Saleh and will not accept a unity government with his party. Eight members of parliament have quit his party and 59 are said to soon follow. A very powerful tribal chief, Hussein al-Ahmar, has joined the opposition and is calling on Saleh to step down. The President still has significant tribal support, though, as the northern tribes have confirmed their support for him and 11 tribal chiefs declared their endorsement for him on Sunday.

Protests of a much smaller size continue in Jordan. On February 25, protests were held in Amman. The government said there were 6,000 but the opposition said it was over 10,000.The Muslim Brotherhood played a major role but the rally was supported by 19 other parties and organizations. King Abdullah is slowly losing the support of tribes, with one staging a small protest and 36 tribal officials signing a letter calling for limits on his power.

Iraq saw nationwide protests on February 25 despite Prime Minister al-Maliki’s pleas not to join them, claiming they had been organized by Al-Qaeda and Baathists without giving any evidence. Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani and Iranian ally Moqtada al-Sadr also said Iraqis shouldn’t take part, but they did anyway. Al-Maliki gave another concession and gave a 100-day deadline to all of his ministers to clear out corruption and carry out reforms or be dismissed.

The revolution in Libya seemed to provoke some protests in the Arab countries of Africa. Algeria had its first protest since the state of emergency ended. The Algerian press said about 500 turned out in Algiers but the opposition says it was above 5,000. Whatever the true number was, the protests have still declined from what they once were. Tens of thousands protested throughout Morocco as well in favor of limiting the power of King Mohammed VI even though the main Islamist organization was not involved. A protest against voter fraud was prevented in Sudan when over 100 security personnel surrounded the headquarters of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement.

The Middle Eastern uprisings have spread well beyond the region, as reported here last week. Protests were again attempted in China over the weekend and the Cuban government is putting greater pressure on a group of mothers of political prisoners. A group of over 80 students ended their hunger strike in Venezuela after the government agreed to release seven political prisoners and negotiate further with them. There have been brief clashes in North Korea and South Korea is trying to spread the word to Kim Jong-Il’s population about the revolutions in the Middle East. In Vietnam, a democratic opposition leader was just arrested after calling for an uprising to overthrow the communist government.

A decisive point in history may be unfolding at this moment. As these governments teeter, forces for genuine democracy will battle the Islamists to write the next chapter. A new Middle East is being created but no one knows yet what it will look like or what it will mean for the West.

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Ryan Mauro

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An Appeal to Brigitte Gabriel to Withdraw Her Petition to Ban the Muslim Students Association

by David Horowitz

An ally in the struggle against Islamo-fascism, Act for America, which is led by a courageous woman, Brigitte Gabriel, has launched a misguided campaign to combat the malign influence of the Muslim Student Association on campus. The campaign calls for the banning of the Muslim Students Association.

As documented by the Investigative Project and by our publication The Muslim Students Association and the Muslim Brotherhood, and by our profile page in, the Muslim Students Association is a creation of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is a sister organization of the terrorist group Hamas. It is conducting an on-campus campaign whose goal is to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state so that Hamas can destroy it and push the Jews into the sea. But Act for America has decided to oppose the MSA not with arguments, not by exposing its monstrous lies and evil intentions, but by banning it as a campus group, by denying its members their First Amendment rights to assembly and free speech. We at the David Horowitz Freedom Center are unequivocally and unalterably opposed to this petition and its demand.

There is no greater or more important bulwark against totalitarianism — and therefore against Shari’a and the Islamo-fascist jihad than our First Amendment freedoms. The chief agenda of the Islamists is to ban any criticism of their totalitarian agendas and terrorist methods by calling it blasphemy, hate speech, and offensive to Muslims. That is what the prosecution of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands is about; that is what the UN resolution banning speech that is offensive to Muslims is about.

Right now we at the Center are attempting to combat the genocidal campus campaign of the Muslim Brotherhood to label Israel an “apartheid state” with a counter-campaign to put up the “Palestinian Wall of Lies.” The Palestinian Wall of Lies exposes their historical fabrications and present-day slanders. It is an argument, not an appeal to authority to shut them down. On the contrary, it is they and their progressive allies who are attempting to shut us down. Through a campaign of intimidation by calling any student who challenges them “racist” or “Islamophobe,” the left is attempting to prevent students from supporting our campaign and thereby preventing us from having access to campus to put up our wall. We have submitted an ad to campus newspapers containing the wall of lies. Of the five school papers to whom we submitted the ad so far four rejected it on the grounds that it would “offend certain religious and ethnic groups.” No specifics were given except that we could not refer to a group like “Arabs” or “Palestinians” as a group even though the ad was about the war conducted against the Jews by Arabs and Palestinians and even though one hundred percent of Palestinians have voted for one of two terrorist groups — the PLO and Hamas. Even the fifth paper, which printed the ad — the UCLA Daily Bruin– required us to reword passages to avoid the use of the terms “Arabs” and “Palestinianas” and said we could not refer to the goals of Hamas and the PLO as “genocidal” even though they are. Of course, no such injunction against offending religious and ethnic groups applies to Jews or Christians or Israelis or Americans.

The frontline battle against Islamic totalitarianism is the battle to defend the First Amendment — the right of assembly and free speech. Yes, these rights are regularly abused by Islamic totalitarians and their “civil rights organizations” like CAIR (a creature of the Muslim Brotherhood and a sister organization to the MSA and Hamas) just as they were by Communist totalitarians during the Cold War. This is a vulnerability of free societies — that they give rights to those whose goal is to destroy those rights — but it is a vulnerability we must deal with by combatting them through vigorous argument and by exposing their lies. What we must not do is abandon the very rights that keep us free. I implore Brigitte Gabriel and Act for America to withdraw this petition to ban the MSA and give up this misguided campaign.

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David Horowitz

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New War Ahead: China-Pakistan vs. U.S.A.

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

China has been deploying thousands of soldiers in the strategic Gilgit-Baltistan, a mountainous area in northern Pakistan, and a region historically contested by Pakistan, India and its inhabitants.

Although cooperation between Pakistan and China is not new -- it was China in the 1970s that supported Pakistan's attempts to acquire its nuclear capability -- the deployment of Chinese troops in Pakistan, however, indicates a worrying alliance for the US. The US would do well to monitor these developments before a catastrophic scenario, especially for its troops, takes place.

The presence of the Chinese People's Liberation Army [PLA] in the contested Gilgit-Baltistan region, where a nascent revolt against the Pakistani rule is taking place, constitutes the direct involvement of Beijing in the dispute over Kashmir, making any future understanding between Pakistan and India more difficult, and can only arouse a new and serious rift between New Delhi and Beijing.

According to Mumtaz Khan, director for the International Centre of Peace and Democracy in Toronto, many Western analysts who view China's stance merely as a bargaining chip against India will unfortunately soon realize that China is redefining its priorities and interests in South Asia and beyond. "The current involvement of China in Gilgit-Baltistan and Pakistan administered Kashmir consists of more than just providing military and diplomatic support to Pakistan. Soon, Pakistan will swap its role to take the backseat as China exerts itself as a major player in the Kashmir issue" and maybe also in Afghani one.

The Gilgit-Baltistan region borders Afghanistan to the north; China to the northeast; the Pakistani administrated state of Azad, Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) to the south, and the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir to the southeast. Recently, the New York Times reported that two major developments are taking place there: a rebellion against the Pakistani rule, and the influx of an estimated 7,000 to 11,000 soldiers of the PLA.

China's Grip on Pakistani Strategic Area

"China wants a grip on the strategic area to assure unfettered road and rail access to the Gulf through Pakistan," stated the NYT. Beijing intends to create a corridor from the Indian Ocean up to the Chinese province of Xinjiang. The first cornerstone of this grandiose project has been the construction of the Gwadar Port, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf and outside the Strait of Hormuz. It is near the key shipping routes used by the mainline vessels that have connections to Africa, Asia and Europe, and it enjoys a high commercial and strategic significance.

The port was financed and built by China and inaugurated in 2007 by the former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. At present, it takes a Chinese tanker about 16 to 25 days to reach the Gulf. Once high-speed rail and road links through Gilgit-Baltistan are completed, however, China will be able to transport cargo to and from Xinjiang to Gwadar and to other Pakistani port facilities, within 48 hours.

PLA's soldiers in Gilgit-Baltistan are also expected to work on the infrastructure in the region. According to reports, China is planning the construction of roads and bridges; a high-speed rail system, and nearly two-dozen tunnels. As the whole area is closed to foreign observers, news can only be obtained through intelligence information, as well as satellite imagery that shows construction activities are underway throughout the region.

Many of the PLA soldiers are supposedly currently building the railroad. Others are extending the Karakoram Highway, which connects China and Pakistan across the Karakoram mountain range, and engaged in activities for constructing dams, expressways and other projects.

Their presence is also apparently meant to deter any possible disturbances from the local population, within which are simmering rebellious sentiments against the Pakistani rule.

China and Pakistan's Common Interest is India

The presence of Chinese soldiers on Pakistani soil is not an ordinary matter. If all Pakistani governments have always objected to the deployment of U.S. troops in the country, why is there such openness towards the Chinese army?

The alliance between the U.S. and Pakistan appears to be becoming less and less sound. The U.S.-led war against the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups in Afghanistan is quickly deteriorating into a growing open conflict with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)., which represents the core of Pakistani military power and can also act independently from Pakistan's government. The agency is responsible for the creation of the mujahiddin movement in Afghanistan during the war against the USSR; and later, for the movements for the "liberation" of Kashmir, as well as the first attack on World Trade Center, and the attacks on hotels and a Jewish Habad Cenmter in Mumbai. . The main ISI's concern, however, is India's rule in Kashmir. This is why the ISI, in order to confront New Delhi, is providing help and shelter to Islamist groups ready to fight for the "Muslim" Kashmir.

China and Pakistan share many common interests: both have territorial disputes with India. China and India, whose populations, combined, make up slightly less than 40% of the world population. They are also both striving for strategic regional supremacy. By linking its western province to the Indian Ocean, China will not gain just a strategic stronghold and access to the Persian Gulf, but also could significantly influence the geopolitics and trade in the Indian Ocean Region, as well as in Central Asia.

A Possible War Between Pakistan/China and the US

The possible scenarios coming out of the present situation are also dangerous. A deterioration of the relations between the U.S. and Pakistan over the war in Afghanistan could lead to a direct confrontation -- in which event, the involvement of the giant China, as Pakistan's ally, might be inevitable. The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports that already a delegation of the Chinese Army visited the Pakistan-Afghan Border last October[5].

The same MEMRI's analysis also predicts that in a possible war between Pakistan/China on the one hand and the US on the other, Russia would be on the side of the West. Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister, Sergei Ivanov, has said that Russia does not want the international troops to leave Afghanistan. Moscow, concerned about development in this region, has begun strengthening the Afghan police forces by supplying weapons and ammunition.

In the meantime, the relationship between Pakistan and Russia are marred by the Cold War legacy, and will take a long time to get normalized. MEMRI reports that the Urdu-language Pakistani daily Roznama Nawa-i-Waqt has warned that "another enemy of Pakistan" –. Russia – has been added to the list of the countries influencing Afghanistan; and that the presence of Russian troops in Afghan will reinforce anti-Pakistan forces in Afghanistan.


Before apocalyptic scenarios become a reality, it would help if Washington exerted exert maximum efforts -- and firmness -- to convince Pakistan not to continue on such a dangerous path. Two new war fronts seem rapidly to be opening: Afghanistan on one side, and Kashmir on the other.. The explosion of a possible war could involve both fronts, the Afghani and the Kashmiri, where the US ally, India, might pay a heavy price, finding itself between two enemies: Pakistan and China.

The US will admittedly have a hard role, given the fact that relations between the Washington and China are already fragile, especially since the "Star Wars arms race" launched by China in 2007, but it is urgent that serious efforts be made.

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Anna Mahjar-Barducci

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To Culturally Transform America

by Herbert I. London

When societies reach a stage obsessed with sensual pleasure, as in ancient Rome, the great Russian social philosopher Pitirim Sorokin pointed out, it is inevitable that the desire for belief, or religion, will percolate in the core of the culture. Although this argument is based on Marx's vision of historical inevitability, history, too, bears out that religious zeal seems to emerge when sensual pleasure cannot satisfy the soul's longing for transcendence.

The question is, how can beliefs be channeled to transform society?

Change occurs when the cultural message message is changed from debased to uplifitng. Moral reversals can be inspired by literally capturing popular culture, much as Wilburforce and his colleagues transformed British social norms in the 19th century, to include the abolition of slavery. Suppose films for television and movie consumption subtly adopted the stance of honor, courage, sacrifice, civic virtue? Suppose our heroes were not those who flouted the law, but those who defended freedom? Suppose the dark and sinister lyrics of misogynistic rap music were replaced by romance and courtship? Is it possible that a debased culture which has had a profound effect on shaping public attitudes can be transformed into the vehicle for capturing the culture and serving as the vanguard of an ideational era?

A lapse into personal or cultural narcissism comes from disbelief in the transcendent. As Dostoevsky noted, if there is no God, anything is possible-- including the belief that people can be gods: not only we can recreate the world in man's image, but there is no wrong except for the limitations we impose on ourselves, and taboos are the social conventions that restrain us from the lure of sheer pleasure.

From these assumptions, the institutions that once mediated between the individual and the state have been rendered weak and battered. The family is in disarray; even terms like mother and father are now politically incorrect, replaced by terms such as "parent one" and "parent two." . Schools no longer teach social conventions; what counts is "expression." Churches are less religious centers and more social organizations, there to promote the latest emerging fad. The Tocquevillian view that these mediating structures gave America unique qualities seems anachronistic against the backdrop of present reality.

For the United States to survive as a democratic republic, we must examine the internal threats, not merely the external ones Our inability to withstand external threats may in large part be due to our unwillingness to consider the cultural decay around us. It certainly is not easy to envision the transformation that might be necessary, especially when the role-models for youth sell debauchery and sensual pleasure at any price. But there are Wilburforcians in our midst who understand the historical stakes and are willing to tease out of the American past the romance and excitement that led directly to the establishment of this exceptional nation.

If there is a cycle to history, catching this wave will not only promote a desirable social outcome, it may even have commercial possibilities. It isnot coincidental that PG-rated films invariably do better at the box office than R-rated films. America is poised for change if only the channels of popular culture can be opened to consider that which is uplifting. Although one can never be sure of what the future holds, reclaiming liberty, defending the republic and appreciating the noteworthy in our history are goals worth realizing through the influence of cultural expression.

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Herbert I. London

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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