Monday, October 31, 2011

What Else Is There?

It's really hard to understand how Americans can take themselves seriously. But yet not seriously enough. They are so hugely admired as a nation because they have managed to excel collectively, at so many human endeavours. Theirs truly does represent a land of opportunities. And the large middle class has managed, up to the present, to be as homogeneously benefited as any society might hope to be.

It's hard to believe that they are, as a nation, so engrossed in religion, and so divided by their religious beliefs. And it's difficult to reconcile realistically the political-ideological gulf that divides the Republicans from the Democrats. A nation that is understandably so proud of itself, of its achievements in so many spheres, from the social, to the political, the scientific to the educational, the medical to the sciences and the arts, can behave so collectively - well - childishly.

After finally having concluded a horribly rancid chapter in their abysmal human rights history, where relations between the races are finally normalized, although the legacy of slavery, ignorance and bigotry still has vestigial influence, the election of a black President of the United States represented a reach for the stars. Blemished by that beguilingly decent man's incapacity to give full confidence to those who elected him with high hopes for the future of their country.

Tarnished by the ill-will extended toward his horribly flawed presidency. That his political opponents can still find solace in the claims of his birthright is appallingly imbecilic. Yet it is more than a trifle disappointing that the presidency of Barack Obama has fallen so short of its premise and its promise. President Obama was imbued in the imagination of the hopeful with qualities he did not possess, although he does possess fine qualities, falling short of the genius of a good president.

The worst that can be said of the man is that he is a very nice man, an impressively nice human being, but the United States of America and the world at large desperately require someone who is capable of far more imagination, determination, creative intelligence and moral certitude to lead the country out of its desert travails and into the Promised Land of its waiting inheritance. The awarding of the Nobel Prize for Peace was immensely hopeful and desperately premature.

The Republicans are hysterically busy seeking a candidate that might represent himself as the saviour that Barack Obama turned out not to be. They've no shortage of proposed candidates. Americans are boldly self-confident as politicians, but they are also abysmally lacking in a complete range of character traits in any single individual that would reveal him to be impressively prepared to take the reins of office.

Egotists present themselves. Ignoramuses strut their credentials. Those who stand forward know little of the world around them, less about foreign relations. They have a feeble grasp of economics. And when candidates for high office open their mouths and begin to speak of evolution, immigration, foreign policy, finances, unemployment and abortion rights/capital punishment, they appear breathtakingly innocent of credible intelligence.

In the final analysis, what is required to steer the United States back into social and political and fiscal health is a compromiser with a will of steel. Someone who will permit the great financial houses their strengths but not at the nation's expense. Someone prepared to inflict the same kind of pain on the public as is being demanded of Greece and Italy. But not before tackling corporate interests. Someone ready to jettison his future to bring his country to a state of fairness for all.

That person will argue with destiny, and battle human nature. He will be derided and despised while in the process of attaining the near-possible. And because humanity is so fallible, so too will he prove to be. Back to square one. But perhaps bypassing the current crop of Republican candidates in the process.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Custodians of the Divine

Can a Canadian Muslim be a trifle too imprudent in aspiring to his once-in-a-lifetime obligation to Islam and embarking on his personal hajj? At the tender age of 33, no less. But then, Usama Al-Atar is an imam, accustomed to teaching and leading prayers as would a cleric, and he obviously felt it behooved him to make his visit to Mecca.

As a Canadian he must also feel that tolerance is a decided asset in the pluralist society which is his home.

Perhaps he found it difficult to believe that a nation representing fundamentalist Sunnis of the Wahhabist sect would be so dedicated to hostile reactions when confronted with the presence of Shia Muslims. But then Saudi Arabia, custodian of Islam's holiest shrines, gives consent to Iranians to make their pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia and Qatar lent their troops to quell the Bahrain insurrection.

Something Usama Al-Atar appeared to be well aware of, since he commented on it critically months ago, denouncing Saudi Arabia: "The atrocities committed today against innocents in several countries such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia among others, are crimes one cannot stand silent about", he said, commenting on the military response to Shia Muslims's protests for equality in Sunni-led countries.

But as a guest in Saudi Arabia, many months later, he must have assumed a certain amount of anonymity would prevail among the millions who annually make their personal pious pilgrimage, in honouring one of the five pillars of Islam. Who would not reason that the Saudi military and police would have more than enough work to do simply in maintaining order and avoiding chaos in the press of the faithful?

The Islamic Shia Association of Edmonton, where Mr. Al-Attar is working on a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta's chemistry department, was more than a little alarmed to learn that one of their own had been arrested in Saudi Arabia. Incautious, perhaps was the decision by Mr. Al-Atar and the handful of other Western-sourced Shia Muslims who had decided to pray outside the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina.

Bringing decidedly unfriendly and perhaps incredulous attention to themselves, for Sunni Muslims, particularly Saudi Wahhabists, do not pray in cemeteries. Mr. Al-Atar was singled out by religious police and guards set upon him, accusing him, improbably, of theft. "They forced him to sit under an air conditioning unit, and squashed him until he was blue in the face", described a witness.

He was arrested and jailed. The incident had many witnesses, several hundred Canadian, American and British pilgrims. And a group of pilgrims sat in silent vigil outside the Central Medina jail where Mr. Al-Atar was imprisoned. He was accused of having broken the arm of a policeman, although witnesses claimed that the young imam had remained unresisting during the scuffle that had taken place.

Mr. Al-Atar has presented in his community as a voice for inter-faith dialogue and communal relations of mutual respect. He has condemned the violent extremism that has plagued Islam. "Although [terroristic] acts may be carried out by Muslims, these are not the teachings of Islam", he has said in the past.

Now Mr. Al-Atar has witnessed and experienced at first hand the effects of Islamism. Through his unfortunate interaction with representatives of the custodians of venomous hostility toward other Islamic sects; those whom Wahhabi Saudi Muslims consider apostates, insults to Islam. He must also be aware that Shia Muslims, particularly those Ayatollahs in Iran reciprocate the venom of the Saudis.

Now that he has been freed from custody and will be returning to Canada, he can raise his voice higher and become a more prominent advocate for Islam to unequivocally denounce those within its inner bosom who have worked so hard to impress 'Islamophobia' upon the world outside Islam.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, October 30, 2011

National Treasures For Sale

Egypt has had a venerable tradition of guarding and safeguarding its ancient historical treasures. In fact the ancient Pharaohs held no illusions about human nature, knowing full well that if they did not employ clever architectural devices in the burial of the fabled treasures and the mummified corpses that accompanied them, it would take no time at all for feral robbers to avail themselves of what lay within, of value.

Most Egyptian tombs were ransacked and looted despite efforts made by their architects to make entry difficult. Human ingenuity, put to the test by the prospect of gaining riches through the looting of treasures has long proven itself up to the task. Those treasures that managed somehow to linger through to posterity and to become the visible archaic wealth of the nation since then, have also been subject to vandalism and looting.

Which is what occurred in tandem with Egypt's famed Arab Spring uprising. Some of the looted treasures have been located and restored. Some things will have been tucked away out of sight for the personal delectation of conscienceless art connoisseurs who believe such magnificent and priceless treasures are safer with them than in the hands of those who cannot adequately secure them.

Should it really be surprising, then, to discover that Libya too was the target of archaeological-inspired thievery? The Treasure of Benghazi which held artefacts dating back to the time of Alexander the Great was a subject of great, intense interests to entrepreneurs with knowledge of just which fabulously wealthy connoisseurs would be willing to part with some of their riches to acquire ancient gold coins.

Ah, but the hoard of looted antiquities were inclusive of jewellery, rings, medallions, bracelets, anklets, gold arm bands,earrings, bronze figurines, glass, and ivory, precious stones. There is a vast world out there of avid collectors more than willing to part with cash for receipt of such irreplaceable goods of ancient beauty and heritage.

"It may have been an inside job. It appears to have been carried out by people who knew what they were looking for", was the opinion of a Libyan archaeologist based at King's College, London. Remarking on the robbery where metal storage cupboards at the National Commercial Bank of Benghazi had been smashed open and ancient gold coins purloined.

A single Greek coin dating from Carthage sold recently in Paris at auction for the record price of $428,000, to give a ball-park figure of the potential gain for these enterprising and gifted looters. Another bit of unsavoury publicity for the National Transitional Council. Particularly as Islamic and Greek gold coins were recently seen for sale in Benghazi's gold market.

Interpol has been alerted. UNESCO has been contacted. The thefts took place in May, and have just recently been publicly revealed to have occurred. As for ancient ruins and heritage sites themselves, not amenable to being carried off quite so handily, they're said to be in fine shape.

an UNESCO World Heritage site

Lepcis Magna or Leptis Magna, an ancient city along the Mediterranean Sea, located near the modern-day city of Al Khums in Libya. The city began as a trading port for the ancient people of Phoenicia around 1000 BC and then became part of the Roman province of Africa Proconsularis. Lepcis was the most easterly of the three cities that gave the North African region of Tripolitania its name.

arch of Roman emperor Lucius Septimius Severus (AD 146-211)

Labels: , , , , ,

At Your Peril

Syria, Latakia: A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency on October 27, 2011, shows Syrians waving the national flag as they rally during a mass demonstration in support of President Bashar al-Assad, in the city of Latakia of north of Damascus. (AFP Photo / Ho-Sana)

Syria, Latakia: A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency on October 27, 2011, shows Syrians waving the national flag as they rally during a mass demonstration in support of President Bashar al-Assad, in the city of Latakia of north of Damascus. (AFP Photo / Ho-Sana)

The West is on notice. Syria will brook no interference. The regime's Syria, that is, the Syria of Bashar al-Assad and his loyalists. The countless Syrians of the Sunni persuasion, not so much. They have invited 'interference'. On the other hand, the Christian Syrians and the Alawites, would prefer the continued longevity of the Alawite-controlled government under President al-Assad.

The Christians, doubtless, fear their fate should the Sunni majority become the government of Syria. For, as their president warns, it it the Muslim Brotherhood, the terrorists, Western interference conspiring against the future of Syria that comprises a danger to be avoided at all costs. And if those costs include ongoing counter-measures, as in death-deliverance to protest organizers, so be it.

The President of Syria warns he is capable of producing an "earthquake" backlash within the Middle East that will embroil all the countries there, and draw into the dread occurrence Western powers. The entire region would resemble what would be left in the wake of an exploding volcano; molten lava, burning embers, a smoking wasteland.

"Syria", he warns, "is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake. Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans? Any problems in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region." Admirable oratorical imagination.

Clearly, food for sober thought, while the West ingests the message and trembles in fearful trepidation.

On the other hand, in his description of the uprising as a "struggle between Islamism and pan-Arabism" secularism, who can argue with him? That is the message of the Middle East. There are two clear choices: Secular dictatorships in an Islamic environment, or Theocratic tyrannies under strict Sharia law.

There are anomalies of course, and somehow it appears to have bypassed President al-Assad's notice that his mentor-state Iran while admittedly not an Arab country is an Islamist theocratic tyranny.

Labels: , , ,

The Innocent Avengers

As proud exhibitionists of ridiculous stupidity violent Islamists have few peers. Other than perhaps with the example of Western gays, lesbians and transsexuals some of whom at propitious moments like gay pride parades have directed their ire toward slandering Israel as an apartheid state, campaigning to delegitimize the only country in the Middle East where their alter-gender roles would keep them safe from an Islamic death sentence.

Jihadists are also fully invested in their own approved methods of destruction, firing off missiles across the Gaza border into Israel. It satisfies the savage breast far more than any satisfaction that might conceivably be gained bargaining for peace. And improbably, in a rational world, but quite explicable in a virtual tribal society claiming outrage that the adversary has responded in kind.

An air strike that sent a rocket deep enough to set off sirens on the outskirts of Tel Aviv tells a story of Islamic Jihad's love tap.
Islamic Jihad militants

Islamic Jihad militants marching at a funeral for one of their men killed by the IAF, October 30, 2011.

Photo by: Reuters

That the IDF had the unmitigated gall to respond with strikes on Islamic Jihad's Rafah training camp, killing a commander and four of his trainees busily constructing bombs and rockets for further fusillades into Israel, is simply intolerable.
"There is no chance of speaking about a truce now, following such a big crime against leaders of the group", declared an Islamic Jihad spokesman, spitting fury.
"Now we are talking about the suitable response to this crime", said Abu Ahmed, Islamic Jihad representative. Retribution against this horrible atrocity will be theirs. That the strike which successfully took out of commission four busy bomb-makers and their commander was in itself a response, and a most suitable one, to the provocation of the jihadists' rockets sent into Israel is lost in the aggrieved mindset of these tribal knuckle-dragging cretins.

Another twenty Palestinian rockets and mortar bombs made their way out of Gaza onto various sites in Israel. With the effect that three civilians were wounded, one killed. What celebration ensued! Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade all fell over one another, hysterically claiming that this represented their victory, as blessed warriors of Islam.

Islamic Jihad going so far as to release images of what it claimed to be its men firing a truck-mounted multiple rocket launcher. Iran and Syria may be gloating with fulfilled purpose, the generous funders and supporters and cheerers-on of the glorious 'resistance' against the accursed enemy.

Perhaps not all the heavy-duty weaponry that Syria spirited out of the country at the initiation of the protests against the al-Assad regime went to Hezbollah.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Calling It Quits

"We have fully complied with the historic mandate of the United Nations to protect the people of Libya." NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Next up? The people of Syria would dearly like NATO to likewise accommodate their equally-compelling desire to unseat their tyrant, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Their latest Friday protest rally was themed around the imposition of a no-fly zone to protect civilians. And just incidentally to help encourage more of the regime's soldiers to defect.

A UN-mandated no-fly zone very similar to the one that was imposed for Libya would satisfy their needs more than adequately, thank you very much. Pity, China and Russia will have none of it. Just as well, on reflection, for neither does the Arab League appear to have any enthusiasm for it. As for NATO itself, the Libyan intervention should perhaps not be seen as an imperialist template for intervention in intra-national disputes.

As for Libya, well, matters are progressing as they will in a society divided against bitter tribal lines. Which is par for the course in Africa and the Middle East.

The International Criminal Court has issued a warrant against Saif al-Islam, once the darling of the West, who promised ongoing 'progressive' regime changes that would continue to make his father's rule more palatable to those who continued to welcome him with honour in their capitals despite his terrorist-inspiring background.

NATO has decided it would decidedly not accept the latest appeal by the National Transitional Council to remain yet awhile. Citing potential ongoing attacks by Gadhafi loyalists, Libya's new regime asked for NATO to stay in place. The UN Security Council vote to cut off their mandate for foreign intervention has assisted the NATO mission in its desire to decamp.

The summary execution of the former dictator, rancid as he was, did not sit too well with most Western observers. The unfortunate videos of his harrowing humiliation, mutilation and death did nothing to endear the NTC militias to those who aided their aims. Nor does the fact, far less reported let alone discussed, of the ongoing executions of regime supporters.

NTC militias are continuing their vicious, reciprocal battles with diehard Gadhafi regime supporters; reports of dialogue leading to rapprochement and unification are understandably premature.

Labels: , ,

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friends, Neighbours Lend Me Your Arms

Turkey has dropped Syria from its list of favoured countries. Iran is still up there, however, and perhaps Hezbollah and Hamas remain non-state favourites. But Syria, no. For one thing, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan is one of those statesmen who insists on being recognized as a statesman. If he goes out of his way to visit and to remonstrate and to caution and to advise and his words of cautionary wisdom are ignored, he becomes rather annoyed.

Irascible might describe his frame of mind, and his is a mind that is in lock-step with his vision of Islam and justice. The ideology that is also representative of Islam might colour his perceptions to a good degree but he seems capable of seeing beyond the Muslim to the inner man on occasion. And Bashar al-Assad isn't exactly screening his inner man. It's visible in the ordered assaults of his military against peaceful protests.

The Arab League may have decided to come calling, but Damascus doesn't appear willing to listen to them, either. And let's face it, the Sunni-Shia divide is the size of the Grand Canyon. And Arab countries in the Middle East will not have forgotten too readily, Syria's decision to side with Iran. Syria's Sunni majority is reflected in the greater Sunni majority in most Arab countries.

Turkey is preparing to impose sanctions on President al-Assad's regime, a Shiite, Alawite offshoot. And Turkey is also hosting an armed opposition group, even to permitting them to launch cross-border attacks. The Syrian National Council, the new opposition group is a welcome guest in Turkey, and the Free Syrian Army, comprised of Sunni military defectors mounting their opposition to the regime is guarded by Turkish troops.

Of course, Turkey's decision via Prime Minister Erdogan, to dispose of its formerly warm relations with Syria might seem somewhat awkward, given Turkey's still-warm relations with Iran, Syria's mentor-state. But that relationship appears to remain intact, with Turkey and Iran working in tandem to destroy the notoriously audacious and bothersome PKK, if they can.

Turkey's relations with Middle East countries has undergone quite a turn-about under Prime Minister Erdogan. And the prime minister has much on his plate; sending troops into Iraq after the Kurdish rebels, attempting to stem the humanitarian disaster of Turkish Kurds in the aftermath of the earthquake, accepting international assistance, even of Israel, though denying that strained relations will be eased, and cutting Syria loose of friendship.

The Free Syrian Army's Colonel Riad al-As'aad is grateful to Turkey: "I knew there was greater potential to lead operations in a place in which I was free". And Col. As'aad asks of the international community its assistance as well. "We ask the international community to provide us with weapons so that we, as an army, the Free Syrian Army, can protect the people of Syria."

This oblique request for NATO involvement, a la Libya is not likely to result in a similar response by the West. But Turkey, as a NATO member with one of the largest standing armies, and with its own huge arsenal of weapons could surely spare some shoulder-fired anti-tank missiles and other weapons, and allow its military to support the rebels?

Labels: , , ,

Mea Culpas

Asking forgiveness, claiming ownership of fault and guilt, whether appropriate or not, appears to make people feel better about themselves. They're humble, they seek understanding. Their admissions of wrong-doing - even at a remove of a hundred years, a thousand years - for things they did not personally do, but which was done to others and for which they confoundingly have found personal responsibility, require forgiveness.
And throughout all Eternity I forgive you, you forgive me. William Blake
Pope Benedict has inaugurated a mass confessional for religious leaders of the world. He has acknowledged "with great shame" the force that Christianity had used throughout its tw0-thousand-year history. He made this admission of shame before 300 religious leaders from around the world - Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Taoists, Shintoists and Buddhists.
O Thou, who Man of baser Earth did make, And ev'n with Paradise devise the Snake: For all the sins wherewith the Face of Man Is blackened - Man's forgiveness give - and take! Rubiyat of Omar Khayyim
Each of those present at this gathering for peace that took place in the city of St.Francis, solemnly pledged they would dedicate themselves to the promotion of dialogue and understanding among their communities and between religions other than their own. All those present pledged to apply themselves to work incessantly against the commission of violence.
It is just that he who asks forgiveness for his offenses should give it in turn. Horace
"Violence never again"! War never again! Terrorism never again! In the name of God, may every religion bring upon Earth justice and peace, forgiveness and life, love", said the Pope with passion.
"As a Christian I want to say at this point: yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith. We acknowledge it with great shame. But it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the christian faith, one that evidently contradicts its true nature."
God never pardons: his laws are irrevocable; the mind that deserts its better knowledge must suffer. God always pardons; for remorse is penitence and penitence is new life, and returning peace.

This gathering was a "pilgrimage" for truth and peace. Delegates withdrew to contemplate what they had heard and pledged. This part of the program was one of "silence, reflection and personal prayer".

And perhaps in some small corners of the world, there will be sweetness and light, and a better place.
To forgive much makes the powerful more powerful. Publilius Syrus

Labels: , ,

Them's The Breaks

"They're right to be talking about growth, because unless they get the economy going and arrest this slide into a slump, there's no chance of getting public finances across the union under control. It's not so far showing up in terms of a change in strategy." Simon Tilford, chief economist at the Center for European Reform
What's ailing the European Union? Too much togetherness, perhaps. The mucilage of cohesion is proving to be a trifle awkward to stick to when not everyone is pulling in the same direction. The result is a bit of economic chaos, never helpful, but particularly not at a time of disintegrating financial viability, production, trade, and employment.

The EU's PIGS have been too generous at the trough, not sufficiently resourceful, nor abstemious, living far too high on the hog; imprudent! It's like a group of collegial acquaintances wanting to keep in touch with one another and arranging for regular lunches where everyone orders whatever they like, the tab is pooled and everyone pays an equal share.

After awhile the light eaters begin to look askance at the appetites of the gourmands, and wonder why they have to pay for a luxury meal when they themselves eat a bare minimum? Germany is one of those capable of restraining its appetite, and France and England, comparatively speaking. Yet it is their economies that must be strained to rescue Greece.

And possibly Italy and Spain. "What you see across Europe is the recognition that the lack of growth is a problem. I'd like to tell you that therefore they'd do something about it, but I'm afraid I can't", is the dim view given to the situation by a former British finance minister, Alistair Darling.

So the International Monetary Fund, heavily involved in Europe's bailouts of Greece, Portugal and Ireland, is getting nervous about the lack of stimulation. Without stimulation how can growth result? Stimulation as in spending, producing, growing the economy. But that's the issue; with high unemployment and the insecurity it brings how can people spend, and if they don't spend, there's no production and zero growth.

Factory orders are stagnant, people aren't buying, they're worried, and they're upset and they're mad as hell and won't take it any more. Or wouldn't, if they could. Europe ideally could use something in the neighbourhood of $1.4-trillion. Can't look to the United States to help them out, since the U.S. could use an additional trillion itself.

China, on the other hand, is being cited as a possible source and accordingly wooed. China is interested in selling its products, in increasing its manufacturing potential, in acquiring raw materials and energy sources.

And here's the combined trading strength of the EU mewling for financial breaks.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Signalling Gratitude

There are some beasts that are so lethal they must be approached with safety uppermost in mind.

This, despite that those who approach these beasts become the very source of their continued life. Those who love and respect animals who live in zoos far from their natural habitat, for example, and whose duties include feeding those dangerous animals and cleaning their enclosures, and generally looking to their continued well being.

They must exert the utmost of care in preserving their own lives against the instinctive urge to attack that motivates these wild creatures which, in their natural environment are deadly predators, vicious and morosely omnivorous. So, approach them if need be, but at risk of your life if you are not schooled in self-protective techniques which must be respected and maintained in self-defence.

What of human beings whose visceral reaction at the sight of other humans whose physiognomy, colour of skin, thought processes, values, do not reflect their own, and cause them to lash out violently? They are no less lethal than wild animals able to use their superior strength, wild cunning, teeth and claws to eviscerate an unwary and helpless animal - or human being whose guard has lapsed.

Take someone like Margaret Hassan, a 48-year-old British national who was married to an Iraqi, and who had herself lived in that country for three decades. Her natural proclivity was to exhibit compassion for other human beings, to become sturdily involved in humanitarian work in her fragile attempt to help make life better for the oppressed and the poverty-stricken.

She had the respect and the gratitude of those whose lives her efforts had touched and enriched. She loved what she did, in improving the lives of those without reason to hope and aspire for better opportunities for themselves and their offspring. And she was held in high regard, a reciprocation of affection by the many whom her efforts assisted.

All of which impressive dedication and background in humanitarian work did nothing to protect her from being abducted by violent Islamists. She was able to speak fluent Arabic with them, to help her in her appeal for her life. She could describe to them the manner in which she had dedicated her life to assist their own people. Nothing availed her.

She was enlisted by her abductors to produce a video wherein she appealed to her country of birth to help gain her release.
"Please help me. These might be my last hours. Please help me. Please tell the British people to ask Mr. Blair to take the troops out of Iraq and not to bring them here in Baghdad. Please, please, I beg of you."
A heart-rending appeal for help, when she must have known her wishes could not prevail, and the end result would be, as promised by her abductors, that her life would be forfeit. All that she had personally sacrificed for the ennoblement of her spirit and the practical help she offered to those in need, negated - in one fell, foul swoop.

CARE issued a press release on November 16, 2004, announcing this extraordinary woman's summary execution. Iraqis had rallied to beg for her release. Al Jazeera, which had never failed to report on events and atrocities refused to broadcast this one.

Labels: , , , ,

Weary, Burka-clad Eyes, and Wary Eyes

And here Saudi women had begun celebrating their gradual, albeit incrementally brighter future. They would be able to vote in municipal due time. They might gain the right to drive themselves to and from destinations they wished to reach on their own as independent, intelligent human beings - in good time. Their ruler, as he ages, is becoming somewhat more enlightened, they rejoice.

Saudi Arabia was rocked only moderately by the kind of protests that have assailed Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Qatar, Syria, Yemen. The oil-wealthy kingdom had only to disburse a few billion dollars as an emollient to salve the discrete and rather discreet protests for a more relaxed rule, though they are loyal to King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, 87, and his theocratic rule under Wahaabi-branded Sharia law.

Ah, dear...those hopeful celebrations were rather precipitate. The unfortunate but predictable - given the state of his health - death of Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, a year younger than the King, removes him as the likeliest successor to the Saudi throne. Now the Allegiance Council must face the urgency of selecting a new Crown Prince who will be responsible for the country's future trajectory.

And, it would appear that Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz al Saud, seems the likeliest candidate. A WikiLeaks release describes Prince Nayef as "a hardline conservative who at best is lukewarm to King Abdullah's reform initiatives", according to the U.S. diplomatic cable from which that apprehension is taken.

"Nayef is much more conservative than either Abdullah or Sultan, and much more suspicious of America - especially after the Arab Spring. He holds grudges forever", warned a former Middle East expert for the Central Intelligence Agency. "But Nayef also hates Iranians and all Shiites, and his son and deputy minister has become a ruthless foe of al-Qaeda."

Well, a little bit of a glimmer of 'good news' for the United States which has been tenderly negotiating with Islamist Saudi Arabia and its oil accessibility since forever, angling to maintain its relationship intact despite 9/11, and despite the growing threat from Iran. And a real downer for Saudi women who aspire to be respected as intelligent and independent human beings.

For Prince Nayef has been notable for opposing moves by King Abdullah to grant women the vote in municipal elections, come 2015. And his support for fundamentalist clerics whose opposition to female drivers and insistence on male sponsorship of women enabling them to travel or open bank accounts only by male consent appears unshakable.

Can't please everyone, in other words, but according to an expert on such matters with the Brookings Institution: "In short, we can work with him like we have with Sultan - with a wary eye."

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Disaster Detritus

There are vast floating islands of plastic detritus to be found in the great oceans of the world. Discards, junk, garbage that has made its way from land-based cities where people endlessly consume products and carelessly dispose of the wrappings, containers, broken discarded objects, and they somehow make their way out to sea where passing ships make note of the stigmata of waste.

In huge, lonely areas of ocean where there may be nothing to see but sky and the occasional seabird, this floating collection of waste products, testament to unbridled human consumption of all manner of resources, exists as a huge blemish on the conscience of the world. Unseen, it bothers few of us. Reported, it becomes a nagging self-doubt.

But it is not only the product of human waste that ends up clogging the ocean bottoms and floating along on the waves, to finally wash up on shores distant to where the discards took their land leave. Sometimes it is the result of environmental, and natural calamities that have wreaked incalculable harm resulting in the chaos of human dwellings and machinery washing far out to sea, carried there by giant waves.

The immense tsunami that hit Fukushima Province in Japan after its monumental earthquake on March 11, for example, was said to have generated 4 to 20 million tons of water-borne debris. Some of which finally settled on the vast ocean bottom, and some of which simply bobbed away on ocean currents.

That estimate of up to roughly 20 million tons of debris is mind-boggling. That would be boats, that would be buildings, that would be vehicles, farm equipment, household furniture and appliances, and everything in between, from children's toys to the children themselves.

Researchers based in Hawaii developed computer models for the purpose of forecasting the movement of the debris to enable them to predict when and where those floating oddities of debris would be washed ashore. The computer models seem to have miscalculated. A Russian vessel travelling to the Russian Far East from Hawaii ran into tsunami debris in the northwestern Pacific.

"The first populated area to be affected by the debris is Midway Atoll. We expect this winter the first pieces of tsunami debris will arrive there", said a representative of the International Cacific Research Center at the University of Hawaii, mapping the projected debris field.

"...We picked up on board the Japanese fishing boat. Radioactivity level normal, we've measured it with the Geiger", the Russian ship's first mate Natalia Borodina wrote, logging the debris. "At the approaches to the mentioned position we also sighted a TV set, fridge and a couple of other home appliances."

Labels: , , ,

Humanitarian Sacrifices

More abductions of foreign aid workers. Two people, a man and a woman, from the U.S. and Denmark were kidnapped at a town north of territory controlled by al-Shabaab. Somalia is not a country to be engaged in for the faint of heart or those less than totally dedicated to needy humanity.

Counting the two Spanish aid workers carried away from the huge refugee camp on the border between Somalia and Kenya set up to succour thousands of starving refugee Somalians, the kidnapping of a British woman whose husband was murdered before her eyes, and a French wheel-chair bound woman (now dead) who lived in Kenya it's easy enough to recognize a trend.

It's open season on Europeans. If they're there, readily accessible, they can be swifted away and held for ransom. That they're visitors, tourists, residents or foreign humanitarian aid workers is quite irrelevant. Law and order and humanitarian gestures and international compassion for the plight of the oppressed, the ill, the starving are civilized matters, not to be confused with a failed country like Somalia, with its coastal pirates and its Islamist marauders.

The two aid workers, along with a Somalian colleague who was also taken hostage, were working for the Danish Demining Group, part of the Danish Refugee council. "I saw the car carrying the foreigners leaving their office and the next minute I heard gunshots and two cars moving at very high speed through the town", explained a local shopkeeper in Galkayo.

The government of Kenya is tremendously put off by incursions over the border from Somalia by al-Shabaab. This, while Kenya has been extending itself to make accommodations possible for the countless refugees who streamed into Kenya; exhausted, fearful, victims of war and drought. It has dispatched several military platoons into Somalia to challenge al-Shabaab.

Somalia welcomed them at first, then had second thoughts. This is Africa, after all. Tribal enmities and national sovereignty are paramount in displays of relations between governments. And foreigners, just incidentally, make easy pickings.

Labels: , , ,

Backward Process...Expected Different?

Rice Memoir Reveals: Olmert Offered Abbas 94%; Abbas Said No
by Elad Benari Rice Reveals: Olmert Offered Abbas 94%

Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s new memoir sheds some light on the groundbreaking offer made by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in 2008.

The memoir, entitled "No Higher Honor," will be published on November 1, and Newsweek magazine presented some excerpts from it this week.

Rice writes in the book that both she and President George W. Bush were “impressed by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s desire to get a deal” and that then Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, whom Olmert placed in charge of the negotiations, “admitted that she didn’t know the issues as well but she came up to speed very quickly.”

Rice recalls one trip to Jerusalem, in May of 2008, when Olmert asked to have dinner with her. During that dinner, she says, Olmert told her that “‘Israel needs to get an agreement with the Palestinians before you leave office. I want to do it directly with Abu Mazen,’ he said, referring to Mahmoud Abbas by his nom de guerre. ‘You are going to see him tomorrow. Tell him that I want to appoint one person. I have someone in mind. He is a retired judge that I trust. I want Abu Mazen to appoint a trusted agent too. We can write down the agreement in a few pages and then give it to the negotiators to finalize,’ he said.”

It was during that same conversation, Rice says, that Olmert told her the details of his groundbreaking proposal.

“‘I know what he needs. He needs something on refugees and on Jerusalem. I’ll give him enough land, maybe something like 94 percent with swaps. I have an idea about Jerusalem. There will be two capitals, one for us in West Jerusalem and one for the Palestinians in East Jerusalem. The mayor of the joint city council will be selected by population percentage. That means an Israeli mayor, so the deputy should be a Palestinian. We will continue to provide security for the Holy sites because we can assure access to them.’"

"That’s probably a nonstarter, I thought," Rice writes. "But concentrate, concentrate. This is unbelievable. He continued, ‘I’ll accept some Palestinians into Israel, maybe five thousand. I don’t want it to be called family reunification because they have too many cousins; we won’t be able to control it. I’ve been thinking about how to administer the Old City. There should be a committee of people—not officials but wise people—from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinians, the United States, and Israel. They will oversee the city but not in a political role.’”

“Am I really hearing this? I wondered,” Rice writes. “Is the Israeli prime minister saying that he’ll divide Jerusalem and put an international body in charge of the Holy sites? Concentrate. Write this down. No, don’t write it down. What if it leaks? It can’t leak; it’s just the two of us.”

“The next day I went to see Abbas and asked to see him in the little dining room adjacent to his office,” she continues. “I sketched out the details of Olmert’s proposal and told him how the prime minister wanted to proceed.”

The breakdown, Rice describes, came during a meeting between Olmert and Abbas in which the Prime Minister urged Abbas to sign an agreement then and there. Abbas said he wanted to consult his experts, but Olmert refused to give him the map with the proposed borders of a future Palestinian state.

“The Israeli leader told me that he and Abbas had agreed to convene their experts the next day. Apparently that meeting never took place,” writes Rice.

She continues to say that she wanted to preserve Olmert’s offer and as such, asked Bush to host Olmert and Abbas one last time before he left office.

“I worried that there might never be another chance like this one,” Rice writes. “Tzipi Livni urged me (and, I believe, Abbas) not to enshrine the Olmert proposal. ‘He has no standing in Israel,’ she said. That was probably true, but to have an Israeli prime minister on record offering those remarkable elements and a Palestinian president accepting them would have pushed the peace process to a new level. Abbas refused.”

“We had one last chance,” she recalls. “The two leaders came separately in November and December to say good-bye. The President took Abbas into the Oval Office alone and appealed to him to reconsider. The Palestinian stood firm, and the idea died.”

“Now, as I write in 2011, the process seems to have gone backward,” Rice concludes.

Abbas himself admitted last January that he had reached agreements with Olmert that Jerusalem would not be divided. The two leaders agreed, he said, that Jerusalem would remain open to all religions and would have two municipalities operating side by side, one Jewish and one Arab.

Secret documents later revealed by the Al-Jazeera television network claimed that the PA made “historic concessions” during those negotiations, agreeing that Israel could keep most of east Jerusalem.

PA negotiators rejected these documents, calling them “a pack of lies and half-truths.”

In his address to the United Nations last month, current Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reminded the audience of Olmert’s concessions to Abbas, saying Abbas “didn’t even respond.” He called on Abbas “to stop negotiating about the negotiations. Let’s just get on with it. Let’s negotiate peace!”

As published online at ArutzSheva, 26 October 2011

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

From Tyranny to Farce

Is there such an animal as a "moderate Islamist"? This is what the headlines claim: "Moderate Islamists claim victory in Tunisia". One knows how to ingest the term "moderate Muslim". But "Moderate Islamist"? Come, now. Islamists are identified by their fundamentalist credentials. Fanatic is not too strong a term to describe Islamists. They cling to the individual Arabic letter of every parsed segment of the Koran.

Notoriously, Islamists insist on Sharia law to guide them and their followers through every facet of their daily lives. And written into that law are some fairly dramatic and spine-chilling punishments for social offences, religious offences, political offences which are forbidden under those laws. Those Muslims who are insufficiently pious are considered apostates.

In Tunisia, a country that has been one that practised more modern, liberal values under a long succession of secular governments under dictators, yesterday's election, following the triumph of their "Arab Spring" as the first country to settle with its large revolutionary demonstrations, the Islamist party that the former regime had suppressed, the Ennahda party, has gained a majority.

"We will spare no effort to create a stable political alliance ... We reassure the investors and international economic partners", pledged Ennahda's campaign manager, Abdelhamid Jlazzi, pledging that his party was prepared to form alliances with the two secular follow-up parties. And with an eye to the economic well-being of the sparkling new Tunisia.

"This is an historic moment", observed a young hijab-wearing woman, outside the Ennahda headquarters. "No one can doubt this result. This result shows very clearly that the Tunisian people is a people attached to its Islamic identity." Tunisia's Habiba Bourguiba who ruled the country after its independence from France spoke of the hijab as an "odious rag".

Rachid Ghannouchi who lived in British exile for 22 years now leads Ennahda into government. His tormentor, President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled in disarray to Saudi Arabia when the revolution became too hot and harried. Mr. Ghannouchi wears Western-style suits, his wife and daughter wear the hijab.

"I really feel a lot of fear and concern after this result. Women's rights will be eroded" mourned Meriam Othmani, a 28-year-old Tunisian journalist. "Also, you'll see the return of dictatorship once Ennahda achieves a majority in the constituent assembly.

Labels: , , ,


Obama Pulls Terror Training Manuals Referencing Islam
by Gavriel Queenann Obama Pulls Terror Manuals Referencing Islam

Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole confirmed on Wednesday the Obama administration was recalling all training materials used by the law enforcement and national security communities, in order to eliminate all references to Islam.

“I recently directed all components of the Department of Justice to re-evaluate their training efforts in a range of areas, from community outreach to national security,” Cole told a panel at the George Washington University law school.

The move comes after complaints from Muslim advocacy organizations, including the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which was identified as a Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas front group in the 2004 Holy Land Foundation terror fundraising trial.

CAIR founders Omar Ahmad and Nihad Awad were originally officers of the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), described by former FBI analyst and US Treasury Department intelligence official Mathew Lewitt as, "intimately tied to the most senior Hamas leadership."

Both Ahmad and Awad participated in a meeting held in Philadelphia on October 3, 1993, that involved senior leaders of Hamas, the Holy Land Foundation (which was designated in 1995 by Executive Order, and later convicted in court, as an organization that had raised millions of dollars for Hamas) , and the IAP.

According to electronic surveillance of the meeting subitted as evidence in the Holy Land trial by the FBI, "the participants went to great length and spent much effort hiding their association with the Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas].... Participants at the meeting discussed forming a 'political organization and public relations body,' "whose Islamic hue is not very conspicuous."

In a Wednesday Los Angeles Times op-ed, Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) president Salam al-Marayati threatened the FBI with a total cutoff of cooperation between American Muslims and law enforcement if the agency failed to revise its law enforcement training material.

Maintaining the training materials in their current state “will undermine the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim American community,” al-Marayati wrote.

Ties between CAIR and MPAC, both of whom have been guests of honor at numerous Federal events and symposiums, and Obama administration dinners, are well documented. Both organizations are members of the American Muslim Political Coordination Council, which seek to coordinate political advocacy efforts.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 15 October 2011

Labels: , ,

The Actual, Historical Truth

Israel’s UN Ambassador Separates Lies from Truth
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu UN Ambassador Separates Lies from Truth

Israel’s United Nations envoy Ron Prosor put the facts on the line Monday and stated that the Arab world blames Israel for all its woes while failing to help its own people.

He said during a debate on "The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question” that “for generations, the Arab world has failed miserably to address the needs of its own people.”

Prosor was highly successful as ambassador to Britain before taking up his new post in the summer and his oratory already has proved him to be one of the best Israel UN ambassadors in years.

“From 1948 until 1967, the West Bank was part of Jordan, and Gaza was part of Egypt.” Prosor stated. “The Arab world did not lift a finger to create a Palestinian state. And it sought Israel's annihilation when not a single settlement stood anywhere in the West Bank or Gaza.”

He also exposed in simple but glaring language ”a glimpse into the real world of the Middle East.”

Prosor stated, “Young people struggle without access to jobs and education. Women are denied basic rights. Free expression is repressed. Minorities are persecuted. Elections are a sham."

“And with their world in flames, Arab leaders continue to blame Israel and the West for all their problems. For years, it's the only explanation that they have been able to offer to their own people… Everything wrong in the Middle East, according to many Arab leaders, is simply Israel's fault. If it's not the Mossad, it's the CIA, or MI6, or some other ‘foreign force.’

Pointing out the brutality of rulers and former rulers in Egypt, Syria, Iran and Libya, the ambassador added, “Two roads stand before us. There is the future offered by Iranian and Syrian leaders -- a future of more extremism, greater violence and continued hate. And there is another road - a path of progress, reform and moderation…

“It is time for this Council to stop ignoring the destructive forces that seek to keep the Middle East in the past, so that we can seize the promise of a brighter future."

Prosor also admonished Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for omitting any reference to Judaism when he told the United Nations last month, "I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him)."

“He denied 4,000 years of Jewish history,” Prosor said. “It was not a small omission. It was not an oversight. The Palestinian leadership attempts to erase the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel."

Prosor also told the UN Security Council that "Today the Palestinian leadership is calling for an independent Palestinian state, but insists that its people return to the Jewish state".

"The idea that Israel will be flooded with millions of Palestinians is a non-starter. The international community knows it. The Palestinian leadership knows it. But the Palestinian people aren’t hearing it. This gap between perception and reality is the major obstacle to peace. The so-called right of return is the major hurdle to achieving peace," he stated.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 25 October 2011

Labels: , ,

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Mispoke" Himself

A dictator, however benevolent he likes to portray himself to that proportion of his people whom he is intent on harnessing to his agenda by doling out little favours here and there, will nonetheless become enraged at the unwary presumption of those whose duty it is to remain steadfastly and unctuously loyal to his vision. And that vision cannot and will not be accomplished without the living presence of that dictator.

To assess his medical-health condition as a health practitioner is wont to do, and then to carelessly and publicly share the assumptions evident from symptoms and treatment of that condition, is to invoke the wrath of the subject under discussion. So really, it was most incautious of Dr. Salvador Navarrette, who was more than a trifle naive, to discuss with a reporter his perception of Hugh Chavez's longevity.

Suffering from dread cancer, and treated with surgery in Cuba, inclusive of the following chemotherapy, Mr. Chavez remains as bumptiously, egocentrically upbeat as ever. Declaring for all to hear that he is en route to defeating cancer just as he successfully defeated that great evil on the world stage, the United States, by his diabolically-clever mockery of its status.

President Chavez's grandiloquent gestures in sharing his country's oil wealth with his less fortunate neighbours, including providing subsidized heating oil to poverty-stricken Americans, as a marked jibe against his despised nemesis, his clownish antics in desperately poor taste, but certain to elicit appreciative giggles from his supporters, ensure no change in his demeanor, despite the change in his health prospects.

Having earned the wrath of Hugo Chavez by publicly airing his view that the president has fewer than two years to live and wreak diplomatic turmoil among his peers and his detractors alike, Dr. Salvador Navarrete has fled Venezuela to himself survive the next two years.

Labels: , ,

Common Determinations

Now there's a marriage meant to last. If they share a religion, a common background, an ancient heritage, a geographical consanguinity, political ideology, and enemy-antipathies there is enough in common to weather the occasional little disagreement. And they've found one another at last. The failed relationship with another suitor is in the past, well shed, and the new relationship is blooming.

Well, there are slight instances where they're on shaky ground, where Turkey claims it cannot stomach their mutual relations with Syria on the basis of the regime's current backlash on its determined revolutionaries intent on unseating their president. While Iran has full confidence in Syria's ability to tamp down the protests, much as they did themselves, halting their own Green Revolution in half-stride.

Seems they've patched up the little squabbles between them and have now focused on another issue that has concerned them, for neither they nor Iraq nor Syria envision stomaching the absurd notion that they would willingly surrender an acre of their land to the presumptuous demands of the Kurdish nation anxious to re-assemble their real estate in an internationally-acknowledged parcel of their own.

"Our common determination in fighting against PKK and PJAK (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan; Iran) will continue in the strongest way. We will work together in a common action plan until the area is completely free of the threat of terror", expounded Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey's foreign minister, meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi.

It is perfectly all right, needless to say, to encourage, train, arm terrorists to threaten other nations because they can be named freedom fighters, guerrillas for Allah, holy jihadists. Quite another thing to be on the receiving end of implacably-determined attacks by those who insist it is their human right to be recognized as a nation with a landmass dedicated to them alone.

Labels: , , ,

"No Comment To Make"

"This investigation launched in February 2011. It targeted a Canadian citizen of Lebanese origin who exported parts of assault weapons, which they call an AR-15. Any criminal act that poses a potential threat to national security is dealt with very seriously by all law enforcement agencies including our national security enforcement team." Corporal Luc Thibault RCMP "C" Division, Montreal
Another Diab heard from, another Lebanese-born struggling to defend the reputation of Muslims against the unfounded accusations of the West. In Hassan Diab's case, the accusation by France that he was involved in the rue Copernicus Synagogue bombing that killed innocent French civilian passersby rather than his intended target, innocent French Jews who were praying to God; presumably the same Spirit that Muslims venerate, under their own nomenclature.

He is innocent, he and his supporters claim, of all manufactured charges brought unfairly against him, and is resisting the request by the Government of France that Canada extradite him to face trial on those very charges. He has no desire to clear his name in France, to prove that the evidence brought against him is insubstantial and cannot be substantiated. And, he insists, his name is a most common one in Lebanon.

He has proved his point in the instance of the name, for here is yet another Diab, this one with the given name of Mouna, a young woman living in Montreal who has been active in her community presenting Muslims as peace-loving and law-abiding citizens of Canada. An investigation launched in February of 2011 through the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in Montreal led to Ms. Diab's arrest by the RCMP at Montreal's Trudeau Airport in May.

She had prohibited items in her luggage. Parts for the assemblage of an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Other parts had already been shipped by air to a destination in Lebanon. Why send weapons to Lebanon? Lebanon is weighted down with weapons. Lebanon has more weapons-grade metal on its soil than the weight of its citizens combined. Not merely leftovers from its civil war, but all that has been smuggled/imported into the country despite the UN Resolution on Lebanon.
"No person in Canada and no Canadian outside Canada shall knowingly export, sell, supply or ship, directly or indirectly, arms and related material, wherever situated, to any person in Lebanon." Section 3 of the Canadian Regulations Implementing the UN Resolution on Lebanon
Ms. Diab is a busy young woman, very involved in her community. She was listed as 2007 vice-president of the association des jeunes libanais musulmans in Montreal. This is a website linked to the sites of a few Shiite clerics; notably Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamist Republic of Iran, patron of Lebanon's Hezbollah.

As well as another Iranian whose claim to fame is his contention the West is involved in an effort to "wipe out" Muslim culture. Sensibly, Iran plans to strike before it is struck, and has targeted the symbol of Western culture in the Middle East, warning time over time, even within the United Nations, that it is prepared to "wipe out" the State of Israel.

Another link is to a now-deceased Lebanese cleric's website, where can be found the legend that it is "obligatory to wage war" against Israel. Any attempts, let alone thoughts, of making peace with Israel are "not permissible", and it is severely incumbent upon Muslims in "occupied land" to provide "material or moral support" to fighters. And obviously, Mouna Diab, as an obedient and devout Muslim is prepared to do just that.

This is an association of young 'activist' Muslims, which appeared among those signing a statement in 2006 for the purpose of denouncing Prime Minister Stephen Harper's declared position on the legitimacy of Israel's right to defend itself against the violence against its land and its people, emanating from Lebanon through the auspices of Hezbollah, funded by Syria and Iran as their non-state military proxy.

A member of the executive committee at the Lebanese Islamic Centre in Montreal, a venue where Ms. Diab was involved in the youth association located there, advised that the centre has never condoned breaking the law. Furthermore, said Ali Chibli, he found it puzzling, the nature of the charge against Ms. Diab.
"In Lebanon, they don't need people to ship them [gun] parts from here. ...In Lebanon, it's easy to get weapons. It's easy to get rifles. It's easy to get whatever you want."
The conundrum being, on her journey to her homeland of Lebanon, what was this Canadian citizen planning, whom was she meeting, where are her loyalties, and why is she a citizen of Canada, not content to live in Lebanon where it is far more congenial to live for those committed to the messages cited and linked at the website for des jeunes libanais musulmans?

AR-15 rifle

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Some Things Change, Some Become Worse

Graffiti on a wall in Benghazi, Libya, mocks disposed leader <span class=

Majid Saeedi, Getty Images

Graffiti on a wall in Benghazi, Libya, mocks disposed leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Now that the results of the Arab Spring protests are well underway, it's instructive to look at those results, with the jaundiced eye of one who expects little of social or political value to come the way of those who initiated the protests against the indignities they lived under. Their detested tyrants who made a mockery of good governance have been opposed and some have been dethroned. So what is in store for those who finally summoned the will to speak out forcefully and often violently for themselves?

In Tunisia, the first of the countries to experience change, Tunisians were able to vote for the first time in their lives. One interviewee said he had voted previously, on one other occasion, but there had been but one name on the ballot. Typical of sham 'democratic' elections wherever they were held in the Middle East, and where Hosni Mubarak garnered 86% of the popular 'vote' in Egypt. Egyptians now are awaiting the ruling military's next call, the promised elections within the next 6, 9, 24 months.

People thought they were freer to express their frustrations. Unfortunately when they venture out to those same 'freedom' and 'liberty' squares they are ushered away from them, and not too gently. Their less-than-esteemed dictators and tyrants may have been deposed, but in their place wait the political and ideological parties that they had energetically kept under control, incarcerated. Islamism is on the rise everywhere in the Middle East and North Africa.

The populations of those countries may yet live to rue the impulse that gave them the courage to confront the authority of their oppressors and demand change. Their demands for employment, for lower costs of goods, of food and energy, may in the end result in nothing but more of the same. If Islamist governments opposed to associations with the West prevail, needed investment and tourism will fail.

Libya's Moammar Gadhafi's mutilated body is now being triumphantly viewed by the people he once dominated. The National Transition Council has declared that a new government will be pieced together, it will be a democratic one. Also emphasized was that Libya is an Islamic State, and Sharia law will prevail. One reporter in Tripoli recounted hearing children playing and shouting that Libyan Jews not be permitted return to Libya.

In formerly largely secular Tunisia, the small Jewish community is facing the prospect of a diminished freedom to remain and live peaceably in the only country they have ever known, as the Islamist Ennhada party is on course to garner at least a quarter of the seats in a constitutional assembly. Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali had, like Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, suppressed his country's Islamist movements, imprisoning and torturing Islamist supporters.

In Syria the regime's critics, anti-government protesters and militias, want to see President Bashar al-Assad go. They've called for his death, in response to his harsh military crack-downs on protesters who have been largely peaceful. Video images of Moammar Gadhafi's violent overthrow and subsequent execution are very popular in Syria, where the anti-Assad coalition would like to emulate the Libyans, but without the assistance of withholding NATO.

In Syria, scorn has been heaped on Bashar al-Assad for brutalizing Syrian rebels, and torturing civilians. People shout that he should be making accommodation with Syrians, not butchering them; he should be battling Israel for the return of the Golan Heights, not his own people who want nothing but a life free of his damnable manipulative constraints. All of these dictators have blamed the influence of the West, of Israel, of terrorist Islamists.

They all pointed to the presence of Israel in the Middle East as a baneful destabilizing presence, a danger to Arabic and Islamic unity, a pestilence that should be removed. But they had also learned, over a succession of futile, humiliating war losses, to live with the presence of Israel. Now that their rule has been imperilled, their populations which they had tyrannized, are expressing their hatred for Israel and for Jews.

The most execrable, demeaning contempt they could envision for their hated tyrant Gadhafi, was to portray him in a cartoon graffiti wearing the Star of David on his headgear. Some things may change in the Middle East, and possibly, none of them ultimately for the better.

Labels: ,

Israel-Turkey Diminishing Relations

Israel offers aid to Turkey in wake of massive earthquake

Defense Minister Barak instructs top official to contact Ankara, despite the deep diplomatic crisis that has engulfed the two nations in recent years.

By Barak Ravid and Reuters Tags: Israel Turkey Ehud Barak Turkey earthquake

Israel has offered to aid the Turkish government in any way it can after a massive earthquake shook the Turkish southeast, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Sunday.

An earthquake measuring 7.3 in magnitude hit near Van in southeastern Turkey earlier Sunday, with state-run media initially reporting some buildings had collapsed and 50 people had been injured.

Turkey quake - Reuters - 23.10.2011

Survivors reacting as the rescue workers try to save people trapped under debris after an earthquake in Tabanli village near the eastern Turkish city of Van October 23, 2011.

Photo by: Reuters

Turkey's Kandilli Observatory estimated a few hours after the earthquake struck that some 500 to 1,000 people were killed.

The Geophysical Institute of Israel indicated that the quake was also felt in residential high rises in central Tel Aviv.

Following word of the massive jolt, Barak instructed the head of the Defense Ministry's diplomatic-security bureau, Amos Gilad, to contact Turkish officials and offer them "any aid that they may need."

Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry officials have also initiated contact with Ankara in order to estimate the extent of aid required, if at all.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor indicated that, following orders by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, he had contacted Turkish authorities, saying "Israel's embassy in Ankara had already issued the offer to Turkish officials."

Palmor said Israel was willing to provide "anything from food, medicine, medical staff and equipment and search-and-rescue teams." He said Israel was awaiting Ankara's reply.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz instructed the IDF's Home Front Command to prepare for the possible launching of a special delegation to the Turkish disaster zone.

Ties between Israel and Turkey have taken a dramatic turn for the worse ever since Israel's raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, which resulted in the death of nine Turkish nationals.

Israel has repeatedly refused to apologize for the incident, since it viewed the flotilla as a Turkey-sponsored provocation.

However, despite recent tensions, Turkey offered its aid during a massive wildfire which consumed a large part of Israel's Carmel region late last year, eventually sending several firefighting aircraft.

As published online at, 23 October 2011

Labels: , ,

Honouring Palestinian Terrorists

Abbas Uses More Foreign Aid to Pay Freed Terrorists
by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Abbas Uses More Foreign Aid for Freed Terrorists

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has bested Hamas’ generosity and is honoring freed terrorists with a $5,000 grant, partially funded by the United States and the European Union. Meanwhile, Hamas urges more kidnappings.

A PA law states that salaries "will be implemented... on the basis of available sources of funding," reported the Arab daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida last April. Abbas warned earlier this month that Washington's decision to suspend financial aid to the PA damages the "peace process."

Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) noted at the time that “it is the contributions by the United States and other foreign donors to the PA general budget that facilitates the payment of monthly salaries to the terrorist prisoners.”

Palestinian Authority Prisoners Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqi stated at the end of last week that Abbas would pay the grant to hundreds of the freed terrorists and security prisoners, more than the $2000 grant announced by de facto Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas.

He did not immediately state the amount of the grant, but Israel state radio reports had estimated it at more than the usual amount of double the $860 monthly salaries paid to military personnel.

Abbas has frequently stated that the PA cannot pay monthly salaries without foreign aid.

The grants to terrorists also contradict Abbas' commitments not to encourage terror.

Meanwhile, Hamas continues to urge more kidnappings of Israeli soldiers as bargaining chips to force the freeing of approximately 5,000 Arab security prisoners and terrorists still in Israeli prisons.

As published online at ArutzSheva, 23 October 2011

Labels: , , ,

Follow @rheytah Tweet