ISLAM, DEMOCRACY AND IRAQ'S CONSTITUTION
By Bill Roggio
One of the most controversial items from a western standpoint is the role Islam will play in the laws of Iraq. The common cry [paraphrased] is “did we sacrifice our soldiers to establish an Islamist state?” Security Watchtower excerpts the text of the draft submitted to assembly (the full text can be viewed at Newsday.com). The text of the constitution gives sound reason to believe Iraq is not being established as an Islamist state. Article Two of the submitted draft explains the role of both Islam and democracy:
The political system is republican, parliamentary, democratic and federal.
1. Islam is a main source for legislation.
* a. No law may contradict Islamic standards.
* b. No law may contradict democratic standards.
* c. No law may contradict the essential rights and freedoms mentioned in this constitution.
Article Seven denounces terrorism and vows to fight it. Chapter Six, Article 151 grants the women one-quarter of the seats on the assembly. Article 36 grants “Freedom of expression by all means” and “Freedom of the press, printing, advertising and publishing.” Article 39 states “Iraqis are free to abide in their personal lives according to their religion, sects, beliefs or choice.” The rights of various ethnic groups are protected throughout the document. These are not the guarantees of an Islamist state such as that of the Taliban or Iran.
It is unreasonable to assume Islam will not play a role in influencing the society of Iraq, or any other predominately Muslim nation. Christianity played an influential role in the laws and society of western nations, and continues to do so today.
The real test of Iraq’s commitment to democratic principles under the influence of Islam will come with the implementation of the constitution by the next elected assembly. But to state an Islamist regime has been created based on the text of the constitution is unfounded. A simple reading of the document will reveal this.
Update: Robert Mayer notes that Afghanistan's constitution is similarly worded, and there was no hue and cry when it was ratified.
CONSTITUTIONAL DELAY, ROUND 2
By Bill Roggio
Three more days.
Iraq’s constitutional committee has moved the draft out of committee and submitted it to the National Assembly. Omar from Iraq the Model provides the details of the day’s events. The Assembly deferred a vote for three days to gain further consensus, and again followed the proper procedure according to Transitional Administrative Law (TAL).
"The Assembly has received the draft from the CDC but because there is a number of issues that still need further discussion and in accordance with clause 61-f of the TAL, voting will be postponed for another 3 days until the leaders of political blocks can reach accord on the few remaining disputed issues" said Hachim Al-Hasani chairman of the Assembly.
Apparently they think that it is in the best of the process to have accord among all the political blocks.
There are positive and negatives in the extension. The easiest path for the supporters of the draft constitition to have taken would have been to take this draft and ram it down the throats of the dissenting parties, as the Shiite and Kurdish coalition maintains a majority of the votes needed to pass it. The Assembly and individual leadership of the various parties understand the import of reaching an agreement. The law has been followed to the letter. The Iraqi people are watching their elected government negotiate in a democratic fashion. And the US is being perceived by Sunni leaders as playing a positive role in assuring consensus is reached.
"Zalmay [Khalilzad, US Ambassador to Iraq] is the boss,'' said Saleh Mutlak, a leading Sunni member of the drafting committee, before tonight's delay. "He's played a very good role slowing the other parties down, in talking to those who are asking for too much."
"We are not getting any impression that they are with this side or with that. We feel they are trying to help our side as much as the other side," said Iyad al-Sammarai, spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni political group whose leaders have been arrested by American forces in the past. "I'm sure [the US] has a feeling that if a constitution is approved only by the Shiites and Kurds, they will not get what they want. What they want is stability."
But the process cannot be extended indefinitely. Consensus must be reached, and reached soon, lest the confidence of the people erode and while the insurgency moves to capitalize on any disagreements. It is imperative an agreement be made within the three day timeframe.
DEMOCRACY BECOMES INFECTIOUS IN IRAQ
Seems like the democratic bug is really catching on across Iraq. It doesn't take much to get the Kurds and most Shias to the polling stations, but judging by the recent frenzy, there will be crowds going to the constitutional referendum right across the country. The recalcitrant Sunnis have been doing most of the leg work to catch up:
Sheik Mahmoud al-Sumaidaie, of the influential Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars, told worshippers at Baghdad's Umm al-Qura mosque to register for the upcoming votes because "we are in need to your voice to say 'yes' for the constitution or 'no.'
According to another report:
The general conference of Sunnis in Iraq, which includes "the Sunni Mortmain", "the Association of Muslim Scholars", "the Iraqi Islamic Party", and a group of Sunni parties and organizations, was held in Baghdad and has urged all Arab Sunnis to participate in the coming elections.
In his speech before hundreds of attendees, Ahmed Abdel Ghafur Al Samera'i said, "Participating in the plebiscite on the constitution is a prescribed duty for all Sunnis."
He added, "I swear to Allah that the greatest privilege, through which you gain the love of Allah, is your efforts in participating in the coming elections and gathering the Sunnis, hoping that Allah would alleviate their suffering."
Alaa Maki, member of the political bureau in the "Iraqi Islamic Party", has confirmed, "The party has suggested the provision of cities of Sunni majority with additional lists, so that everyone would be able to register their information in the electors and plebiscite on the permanent constitution records."
One of the interesting aspects of the new "no Sunni left behind" campaign is its overtly religious trappings. At Iraq the Model you can check out the flier being distributed by the Islamic Party, convincing Sunnis that voting is a religious duty, supported by Koran and religious tradition. What a difference a few months can make.
Even the dreaded Fallujah is catching on:
Falluja's clerics council advised the Imams of the mosques and the people not to miss this historical chance and to take part in it through the four centers opened there. Community leaders and clerics organized lectures to educate the people about the importance of their participation and that the constitution is for the interests of all Iraqis, which will decide their identities."
As this report explains:
In Fallujah, considered one of the major hotbed of Iraqi insurgency, clerics of mosques called on the residents in the city to participate in the constitution referendum scheduled to be held in mid October.
They urged the residents through loudspeakers to participate and say "no" to those who want to isolate them from the political process.
The Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest Sunni party, also distributed handouts calling on the people to participate the referendum. Many of the residents showed support and desire to participate.
Four registration centers have now been open in Fallujah, and apparently they're doing great business.
Most bizarrely, both the main Sunni insurgent group, Ansar Al Sunna, as well as Shia radical Muqtada al Sadr, have been calling on supporters to register to vote in the constitution referendum:
[One] statement issued by six of the seven Ansar groups promised that there will not be attacks against Americans on the day of the referendum, 'to protect those who go to vote.' 'Voting is a jihad of words and is no different from the jihad of the sword,' the statement said. 'There are no objections to participation in the referendum to show the world our strength and to defeat federalism'.
Just about the only person who doesn't want to vote in the coming referendum is Al Zarqawi - which is just as well, because as a Jordanian citizen he wouldn't be eligible to.
"Jihad of words" - I like it. If the insurgent morons have thought about it two years ago it's quite likely that Iraq would have a stable government by now and the Coalition forces would have been in the middle of withdrawal.
The big test, of course, will not be what happens on the voting day, but afterwards - that is, whether everyone will accept the results and move in a peaceful manner. It's been said often enough that democracy is a process, not an event (one of Glenn Reynolds' favorite phrases). There are no guarantees that the unhappy will not revert to violence after the poll, but so far, at least, the signs are encouraging.
Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, while the Taliban will not be voting in the parliamentary election, the movement has announced that they will not be targeting polling stations. Killing civilians exercising their democratic right just doesn't seem so popular anymore. Tuesday, August 23, 2005
ARMED FORCES RECRUITMENT EXCEEDS TARGETS
Ralph Peters has a nominee for August's most important unreported story: while the media were in a frenzy over Cindy Sheehan, the armed forces have quietly exceeded their recruitment goals for FY 2005:
Every one of the Army's 10 divisions — its key combat organizations — has exceeded its re-enlistment goal for the year to date. Those with the most intense experience in Iraq have the best rates. The 1st Cavalry Division is at 136 percent of its target, the 3rd Infantry Division at 117 percent.
What about first-time enlistment rates, since that was the issue last spring? The Army is running at 108 percent of its needs. Guess not every young American despises his or her country and our president.
The Army Reserve is a tougher sell, given that it takes men and women away from their families and careers on short notice. Well, Reserve recruitment stands at 102 percent of requirements.
And then there's the Army National Guard. We've been told for two years that the Guard was in free-fall. Really? Guard recruitment and retention comes out to 106 percent of its requirements as of June 30.
As Peters says, patriotism is alive and well. But what do the young men and women who enlist and reenlist see when they open a newspaper?
The Cindy Sheehan Extravaganza. Predictions of disaster. The depiction of Michael Moore as a hero and our soldiers as dupes. And a ceaseless attempt to convince the American people that there's no hope in Iraq.
The ugly truth is that much of the media only cares about our soldiers when they're dead or crippled. That's a story.
If the major media weren't too self-absorbed to see outside the liberal cocoon, they'd be ashamed of themselves.
Via Betsy Newmark, subbing for Michelle Malkin.
UPDATE: Rush Limbaugh read this post on his show today.
FURTHER UPDATE: Many readers pointed out this Fox News story, which begins:
The U.S. Army will miss its recruiting goals this year but will be able to sustain troop levels in Iraq over the next four years, a high-ranking general told FOX News.
"We're gonna fall short of our recruiting goal this year. We know that,” [Lt. General James] Lovelace told FOX News. “We're putting in place mitigation plans to begin to address it in ’06."
The Fox report agrees with Peters that re-enlistments are exceeding projections, so the difference must lie in first-time enlistments. Peters says that for the Army, they are "running at 108 percent of its needs." The Fox story, on the other hand, says that "Military officials will not go into specifics about the numbers of new recruits signing up for Army duty." Odd.
With respect to Army Reserve and National Guard units, the Fox story says that re-enlistments are running at more than 100% of projections, which is consistent with Peters' theme. But, while Peters says that the Army National Guard is up to "106 percent of its requirements as of June 30," Fox says that "in total, the Army Guard has about 331,000 soldiers, 94.5 percent of its authorized strength of 350,000." Is there a difference between "authorized strength" and "requirements"? I don't know, but there should be more data out there somewhere that would resolve the inconsistencies.
SCOTT adds: NRO's Stephen Spruiell caught up with Peters today and reports that he "was most likely the victim of a bureaucratic mixup."
UPDATE: This DoD page seems to have definitive information as of the end of July--which leaves some mystery regarding the Fox story's statement that the Army doesn't release data on new recruits. Anyway the DoD numbers are consistent with the conclusion that re-enlistment is very high, while new recruitment is a little below targets. As I read the numbers, Army, Navy, Marine and Air Force recruiting (not re-enlistment) is at a combined 95% of goals with two months to go in the fiscal year. Combined recruiting for the Army National Guard and the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Reserves is at a combined 89% of targets, also with two months to go.
So some of Peters' numbers do seem to be off, but it's hardly a deficit to give the liberals anything to crow about, especially with sky-high re-enlistment numbers in the units that are engaged in combat in Iraq. Tuesday, August 23, 2005
UNDER US NOSES, BRUTAL TERRORISTS RULE SUNNI CITADEL
Jihad Watch Readers will not be surprised at this, but the folks in the White House and State Department probably are. The Guardian gains rare access to Iraqi town and finds it fully in control of 'mujahideen' (with thanks to Rudolf)
The executions are carried out at dawn on Haqlania bridge, the entrance to Haditha. A small crowd usually turns up to watch even though the killings are filmed and made available on DVD in the market the same afternoon.
One of last week's victims was a young man in a black tracksuit. Like the others he was left on his belly by the blue iron railings at the bridge's southern end. His severed head rested on his back, facing Baghdad. Children cheered when they heard that the next day's spectacle would be a double bill: two decapitations. A man named Watban and his brother had been found guilty of spying.
With so many alleged American agents dying here Haqlania bridge was renamed Agents' bridge. Then a local wag dubbed it Agents' fridge, evoking a mortuary, and that name has stuck.
A three-day visit by a reporter working for the Guardian last week established what neither the Iraqi government nor the US military has admitted: Haditha, a farming town of 90,000 people by the Euphrates river, is an insurgent citadel.
That Islamist guerrillas were active in the area was no secret but only now has the extent of their control been revealed. They are the sole authority, running the town's security, administration and communications.
A three-hour drive north from Baghdad, under the nose of an American base, it is a miniature Taliban-like state. Insurgents decide who lives and dies, which salaries get paid, what people wear, what they watch and listen to... Monday, August 22, 2005
From the New York Daily News: Another insult to America's heritage at Freedom Center (via Take Back The Memorial).
A global network of human rights museums is urging the International Freedom Center to downplay America in its exhibits and programs at Ground Zero, the Daily News has learned. ...
"Don't feature America first," the IFC has been advised by the consortium of 14 "museums of conscience" that quietly has been consulting with the Freedom Center for the past two years over plans for the hallowed site. "Think internationally, where America is one of the many nations of the world." ...
[T]he Freedom Center said on its Web site and newsletter that it had "drawn inspiration" and received "important practical advice" from the International Coalition of Historic Site Museums of Conscience.
"We have many, many advisers who have given us lots of advice," Richard Tofel, Freedom Center president, said last week. "Some of it we've taken and some of it we haven't -- that's the nature of advice." ...
"No one in the civilized world would ever defend what happened on 9/11," said Sarwar Ali, the coalition's chairman and a trustee of the Liberation War Museum in Bangladesh.
"But what happened after 9/11 -- with restrictions placed on human rights and the cycle of revenge and the allegations of human rights abuses in prisons -- must also be explored," Ali said in a call from London. ...
Coalition members gathered for their annual conference at a Holocaust site in the Czech Republic in July 2004 -- and assailed the United States for "reasserting its power in an arrogant way," the conference report shows.
Among its suggestions for the place where the United States was attacked and nearly 3,000 innocents massacred: "The Freedom Center must signal its openness to contrary ideas."
Philip Kunhardt, the Freedom Center's editorial director, was in attendance at a session called Bringing Conscience to Ground Zero and was given this advice: ...
n "Use reports from human rights organizations to examine contemporary abuse of rights."
n "Involve the United Nations, UNESCO and other international bodies."
n "Use the museum as a venue for international meetings, where all views are welcomed and considered." [Emphasis added]
From a related Daily News editorial: Making a mockery of Ground Zero.
The coalition's annual report ... certifies that 9/11 families were right to warn that the Freedom Center was being taken over by bash-America propagandists. It also shows, again, that Gov. Pataki had no clue what he was doing in giving the Freedom Center and a second cultural group, the Drawing Center, a franchise at Ground Zero.
Take Back The Memorial continues its petition drive (which is over 40,000 signatures) and is staying on top of all developments, including the withdrawal of the Drawing Center and the withdrawal of backing for the memorial by the Uniformed Firefighters Association. In a New York Post commentary, UFA President Steve Cassidy wrote:
What we are seeking is that which is morally correct -- a fitting memorial erected at Ground Zero that reflects the memory and sacrifice of the victims, the rescuers and their families and all affected.
Tim Sumner of 9/11 Families For America also writes:
As I sit here watching the National Geographic documentary Inside 9/11 and once again hear the voices of firefighters -- including my wife's brother's -- on the FDNY audio tapes from the World Trade Center's South Tower, the anger rises once more.
I highly recommend Inside 9/11, which airs again on Thursday, September 8 and is available on DVD. Also recommended: A&E will rebroadcast The Anatomy of September 11th on Thursday, Sept. 1,; it's a documentary I saw in 2002 and remember as being an excellent, detailed account of those who survived WTC attacks (and it is no longer available on video).
For other survivors' stories, The New York Times has posted over 12,000 pages of testimony from 503 firefighters, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians: Oral Histories From Sept. 11 Compiled by the New York Fire Department. Tuesday, August 23, 2005
SOME THOUGHTS ON CASUALTIES IN TIMES OF WAR AND PEACE
It is universally acknowledged that public support for the Iraq war is eroding. Some of the polls supporting this claim are faulty because they are based on obviously misleading internal data, but the basic point cannot be denied: many Americans, possibly even a majority, have turned against the war.
This should hardly be a surprise. On the contrary, how could it be otherwise? News reporting on the war consists almost entirely of itemizing casualties. Headlines say: "Two Marines killed by roadside bomb." Rarely do the accompanying stories--let alone the headlines that are all that most people read--explain where the Marines were going, or why; what strategic objective they and their comrades were pursuing, and how successful they were in achieving it; or how many terrorists were also killed. For Americans who do not seek out alternative news sources like this one, the war in Iraq is little but a succession of American casualties. The wonder is that so many Americans do, nevertheless, support it.
The sins of the news media in reporting on Iraq are mainly sins of omission. Not only do news outlets generally fail to report the progress that is being made, and often fail to put military operations into any kind of tactical or strategic perspective, they assiduously avoid talking about the overarching strategic reason for our involvement there: the Bush administration's conviction that the only way to solve the problem of Islamic terrorism, long term, is to help liberate the Arab countries so that their peoples' energies will be channelled into the peaceful pursuits of free enterprise and democracy, rather than into bizarre ideologies and terrorism. Partly this omission is due to laziness or incomprehension, but I think it is mostly attributable to the fact that if the media acknowledged that reforming the Arab world, in order to drain the terrorist swamp, has always been the principal purpose of the Iraq war, it would take the sting out of their "No large stockpiles of WMDs!" theme.
One wonders how past wars could have been fought if news reporting had consisted almost entirely of a recitation of casualties. The D-Day invasion was one of the greatest organizational feats ever achieved by human beings, and one of the most successful. But what if the only news Americans had gotten about the invasion was that 2,500 allied soldiers died that day, with no discussion of whether the invasion was a success or a failure, and no acknowledgement of the huge strategic stakes that were involved? Or what if such news coverage had continued, day by day, through the entire Battle of Normandy, with Americans having no idea whether the battle was being won or lost, but knowing only that 54,000 Allied troops had been killed by the Germans?
How about the Battle of Midway, one of the most one-sided and strategically significant battles of world history? What if there had been no "triumphalism"--that dreaded word--in the American media's reporting on the battle, and Americans had learned only that 307 Americans died--never mind that the Japanese lost more than ten times that many--without being told the decisive significance of the engagement?
Or take Iwo Jima, the iconic Marine Corps battle. If Americans knew only that nearly 7,000 Marines lost their lives there, with no context, no strategy, and only sporadic acknowledgement of the heroism that accompanied those thousands of deaths, would the American people have continued the virtually unanimous support for our country, our soldiers and our government that characterized World War II?
We are conducting an experiment never before seen, as far as I know, in the history of the human race. We are trying to fight a war under the auspices of an establishment that is determined--to put the most charitable face on it--to emphasize American casualties over all other information about the war.
Sometimes it becomes necessary to state the obvious: being a soldier is a dangerous thing. This is why we honor our service members' courage. For a soldier, sailor or Marine, "courage" isn't an easily-abused abstraction--"it took a lot of courage to vote against the farm bill"--it's a requirement of the job.
Even in peacetime. The media's breathless tabulation of casualties in Iraq--now, over 1,800 deaths--is generally devoid of context. Here's some context: between 1983 and 1996, 18,006 American military personnel died accidentally in the service of their country. That death rate of 1,286 per year exceeds the rate of combat deaths in Iraq by a ratio of nearly two to one.
That's right: all through the years when hardly anyone was paying attention, soldiers, sailors and Marines were dying in accidents, training and otherwise, at nearly twice the rate of combat deaths in Iraq from the start of the war in 2003 to the present. Somehow, though, when there was no political hay to be made, I don't recall any great outcry, or gleeful reporting, or erecting of crosses in the President's home town. In fact, I'll offer a free six-pack to the first person who can find evidence that any liberal expressed concern--any concern--about the 18,006 American service members who died accidentally in service of their country from 1983 to 1996.
The point? Being a soldier is not safe, and never will be. Driving in my car this afternoon, I heard a mainstream media reporter say that around 2,000 service men and women have died in Afghanistan and Iraq "on President Bush's watch." As though the job of the Commander in Chief were to make the jobs of our soldiers safe. They're not safe, and they never will be safe, in peacetime, let alone wartime.
What is the President's responsibility? To expend our most precious resources only when necessary, in service of the national interest. We would all prefer that our soldiers never be required to fight. Everyone--most of all, every politician--much prefers peace to war. But when our enemies fly airplanes into our skyscrapers; attack the nerve center of our armed forces; bomb our embassies; scheme to blow up our commercial airliners; try to assassinate our former President; do their best to shoot down our military aircraft; murder our citizens; assassinate our diplomats overseas; and attack our naval vessels--well, then, the time has come to fight. And when the time comes to fight, our military personnel are ready. They don't ask to be preserved from all danger. They know their job is dangerous; they knew that when they signed up. They are prepared to face the risk, on our behalf. All they ask is to be allowed to win.
It is, I think, a reasonable request. It's the least that we--all Americans, including reporters and editors--can do. Tuesday, August 23, 2005
PALESTINIAN CLERIC: WE WILL ENTER PALESTINE AS CONQUERORS, NOT THROUGH NEGOTIATIONS BUT THROUGH JIHAD
On August 19, Palestinian Clerics Association Deputy Director Sheikh Muhammad Ali was interviewed by Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV. In the interview, he discussed Jihad as the duty of all Muslims, and the coming conquest of all of Palestine through Jihad, not negotiation. He went on to explain in detail the prophetic tradition of "the stone and the tree" (Wa'd al-hajar wa-'l-shajar) saying, "The Jews acknowledge this because they find it in their forged Torah." He also stated that this tradition called for "the wiping out of the Zionist enemy."
Sheikh Muhammad Ali: "Any land, any piece of land, over which flies the banner of 'There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is His Messenger,' and which at a certain point belonged to the Muslims – as far as we are concerned, plundering and occupying such land is forbidden, and it is the duty of all Muslims to do what they can to liberate this land, wherever it may be. True, many precious Muslim lands are under occupation today. They have been forgotten, and Andalusia is one example. Nevertheless, it is the duty of the Muslims to liberate them. But since we are discussing Palestine, Gaza, and so on, let us focus on this precious piece of Muslim land, especially since Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque belong to all Muslims, and have become a part of the Muslim faith...
Sheikh Muhammad Ali: "The Prophet Muhammad foretold in a hadith that 'Judgment Day would come only when the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims would kill the Jews, and the stone and tree would say: 'Oh, Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew' – of course he was referring to the occupying Zionist Jew – 'there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him', except for the Gharqad tree.'"
"Allah willing, we will enter [Palestine] as conquerors and liberators, not through negotiations, but through Jihad and resistance, because the hadith goes: 'And the Muslims would kill the Jews' – there is killing involved."
Moderator: "This divine prophecy, which appears in the hadith and in Koranic verses, denies the legitimacy of normalization or any agreement, because it is only a matter of time, and the Muslims will eventually liberate Jerusalem and regain Palestine."
Sheikh Muhammad Ali: "How peculiar it is that the Zionists believe this, while many leaders, regimes and Arabs do not believe this. This is very sad, strange, and puzzling. Of course, I mean the Muslims and Arabs that are misinformed. The Jews acknowledge this because they find it in their forged Torah, in their Talmud."...
"Since they believe that the Zionist entity will disappear... They are only trying to stall. They are not trying to establish themselves but to delay the fulfillment of the divine prophecy of the liberation of all of Palestine and the wiping out of the Zionist entity. If the Jews and the Zionists were to leave Palestine now, the war would be over, and the Middle East and the entire world could sigh in relief. But the Jews, these Zionists, are against humanity, not just against Muslims." Tuesday, August 23, 2005
This is more like it: Bush: Palestinians must take next step.
The Palestinians have the onus of moving forward on the road map, US President George Bush said on Tuesday. In a conversation with reporters in Idaho, where Bush is vacationing, the President made it clear that the Palestinians must take the next step towards peace, by reforming their government and their security forces.
“Of course we want to get back to the road map, but I understand that in order for this process to go forward there must be confidence, confidence that the Palestinian people would have with their own government to perform, confidence with the Israelis, that they’ll see a peaceful state emerging,” Bush said.
Nice words. But how much progress are the Palestinians making toward that “peaceful state?”
PA won’t disarm Hamas, Islamic Jihad.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced on Monday that they have reached an agreement with the Palestinian Authority according to which the two groups would not be disarmed.
The agreement was reportedly achieved during talks in Damascus between PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Qurei met Sunday night in Damascus with leaders of various radical groups, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and discussed ways of cooperating with them after implementation of the disengagement plan is completed. Sources close to the two groups said Qurei made it clear that the PA would not confiscate the weapons of any of the armed groups in the Gaza Strip.
Musa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas leader based in Syria, said the meeting was held in a “cordial atmosphere” and that the two sides agreed that the Palestinians should have a joint strategy after disengagement. “We stressed during the meeting that the Palestinians have the right to continue the resistance [against Israel] and that there would be no attempt to collect weapons from the resistance groups,” he said.
“The weapons of the resistance were founded to defend the Palestinian people and resist the occupation,” he added. “The Gaza victory was achieved with the weapons of the resistance, which is the only strategy to drive Israel out of the rest of our lands.”
Palestinians may rename settlements after Arafat, Yassin.
Palestinians are planning to rename the settlements in the Gaza Strip “to erase any memory” of Israel’s presence in the area.
In recent weeks, the PA received many requests from Palestinians asking that the settlements be given Arab names. Most of the requests have come from families of Palestinians who were killed since the second intifada broke out in September 2000. The families want to honor their sons by calling some of the settlements after them. Others have demanded that some settlements be named after Palestinian leaders. ...
According to Agence France Press, some Palestinians have proposed to name Neveh Dekalim, the largest settlement in Gush Katif, after Yasser Arafat.
The agency said other proposals called for naming Atzmona after a Palestinian “martyr” and Netzarim or Kfar Darom after slain Hamas leader Ahmed Yassin.
Can’t you just smell a peaceful state emerging?
Appeasement weasel Gerhard Schroeder has been nominated for a Nobel peace prize. (Hat tip: Ron.)
If the Nobel Peace Prize still meant anything, this would be an outrage. But the Prize was rendered worthless when the fools in Oslo gave it to arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat. And then there’s Jimmy Carter.
If Schroeder wins, he’ll be in appropriate company.
OSLO - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has been nominated for the Nobel peace prize, well-informed sources said Tuesday when contacted by Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
Nobel literature laureate Guenter Grass of Germany, who won the 1999 literature prize, said Monday that he considered Schroeder a candidate for the peace prize over his opposition to allowing Germany to participate in the U.S. led attack on Iraq.
When the Pope visited Cologne recently, he gave a speech to Islamic community leaders, but declined to visit a mosque. Here’s why: How the Muslim Brotherhood is Challenging the Pope. (Hat tip: Hans ze Beeman.)
ROMA, August 18, 2005 – The penultimate event of Benedict XVI’s visit to Cologne, before the vigil and Mass with the young people of World Youth Day XX, will be a Saturday, August 20 meeting with the “representatives of some of the Muslim communities.”
The meeting will take place at the residence of the city’s archbishop. The Muslims asked the pope to visit a mosque, but Benedict XVI declined the invitation.
His prudence is understandable. Cologne and Munich – where Joseph Ratzinger was archbishop from 1977 to 1981 – are the cities in which the Muslim Brotherhood, which has for decades been the main ideological and organizational source of radical Islam in the world, has gained control of most of the mosques and of active Islam in Germany and in Europe.
Mahdy Akef, an Egyptian now residing in Cairo who is the present murshid, or supreme guide, of the Muslim Brotherhood worldwide, is an explicit supporter of the suicide terrorists in Iraq. From 1984 until 1987, he directed the most dynamic Muslim center of Germany, in Munich, with its great mosque in the northern part of the city.
Munich was the birthplace of the Islamische Gemeinschaft in Deutschland, IGD, one of the largest Islamic organizations in Germany. The IGD is under the full control of the Muslim Brotherhood and has sixty mosques spread throughout the country.
For a few years, its organizational headquarters has been located in Cologne. The president of this body is Ibrahim Al Zayat, a 39-year-old Egyptian, the charismatic leader of a network of youth and student organizations that are linked to the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, WAMY, the largest Islamic youth organization in the world. WAMY is financed by Saudi Arabia, bears a strong, rigorist Wahhabi imprint, and produces vehemently anti-Jewish and anti-Christian publications.
Read it all. Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Today’s LA Times gives column space to Fariborz Mokhtari, a professor at the Near East South Asia Center of the National Defense University in Washington, to tell America why Iran needs nuclear weapons. (Hat tip: Eg.)
Lost in the rhetoric is the truth that Iran needs a way to deter its perceived enemies. Its security concerns are real and legitimate. The country is surrounded by U.S. bases and troops. Instability in the Caucasus, Central Asia, Afghanistan and Iraq feeds its security apprehensions. If Pakistan’s government and its nuclear arsenal were to fall into the wrong hands, it would be menacing to Iran. And Iran’s Arab neighbors, with few exceptions, proved unreliable (and in some cases, hostile) when Saddam Hussein’s forces invaded the country, even remaining deafeningly silent as Iraq showered the Iranians with Scud missiles and chemical warheads.
Frankly, Iran cannot afford to develop only conventional deterrence against such threats, and it will not rely on imported armaments again. Which may explain why Iran’s rulers would desire an alternative deterrent: limited nuclear weapons coupled with domestically manufactured missiles. Monday, August 22, 2005
AIR AMERICA: POST FINALLY REPORTS ON FINANCING ISSUES ... SOMEWHERE ELSE
Now we know why the Washington Post has still failed to file a single report on the ongoing scandal at Air America, where $875,000 of grant money earmarked for poor kids and Alzheimers patients wound up funding the liberal radio netlet. Aside from running the single AP overview of the New York City investigation into AAR's connection to the fraud, the Post has ignored the story. Apparently, their silence comes from a commitment of resources to another financial issue involving a political group, one that promises to shake the earth with this revelation (second item):
The Christian Coalition is having a spat with a vendor over unpaid bills. That could be a bad sign for an advocacy group that was once one of the most potent and well-funded forces in conservative politics.
Mailing giant Pitney Bowes is suing the Christian Coalition to recover unpaid postage fees. The firm, which provides postage meters and other services, says that from September 1999 to June 2003, the organization ran up $13,643.44 in charges that it now refuses to pay. When political organizations stop or miss payments for utilitarian necessities such as rent and mail vendors, it sometimes is an indication of deeper trouble with their finances.
A lawyer for the Christian Coalition, Brad Weiss, dismissed such speculation. "It is not unusual for many organizations, both profit and nonprofit, to have disputes with suppliers," he said, adding: "I have no idea what would make this noteworthy."
Wow -- the Christian Coalition finds itself in court over $14,000 in dispute over unpaid bills! I agree with the Post and Jo Becker and Brian Faler that such developments can indicate serious financial difficulties for non-profits. That makes the Post's interest in reporting this to its readers perfectly understandable.
Maybe their readers would also find this interesting:
* The New York Department of Investigation finds itself looking into the illegal transfer of $875K from Gloria Wise to Air America. They want AAR parent Piquant Media to pay it back, but so far Piquant is either unable or unwilling to do it.
* Air America owes $225K in legal fees to Multicultural Radio and has yet to repay it.
* Multicultural Radio is suing Piquant and AAR for over $1 million in unpaid airtime fees.
* One of their former hosts and programmers, Lizz Winstead, is suing Air America for $290K in back pay.
It seems to me that all of these bills that AAR either refuses to pay or has no funds with which to pay them make this story around 200 times more fascinating than the Christian Coalition story. The Washington Post wouldn't delegate its resources based on the political orientation of CC and AAR, would they?
You bet they would -- at 200-1.
UPDATE: If you want to know
when if the Post finally covers this story, be sure to check at Postwatch. Chris' site provides a full-time blog on bias at the Washington Post and has adopted this particular crusade since the first days of the scandal eruption at Air America
ABLE DANGER: MORE ON ATTA TIMELINE
Andy McCarthy makes a good point on today's Corner at National Review Online regarding Able Danger and its impact on the timeline given for Mohammed Atta by the 9/11 Commission. He writes:
The commission could, of course, be right. It’s quite possible Atta never went to Prague in April 2001. But the commission could also be dead wrong. And for present purposes, the point is: how sure can we be of its Atta timeline? The timeline based on which the commission insists Atta was not in the U.S. before June 2000, and based on which it rejected Phillpott, whose account has now been seconded.
McCarthy also recaps the known facts surrounding the timeline and the basics of the nagging Czech allegations that Atta met with an Iraqi diplomat and an IIS agent on April 9th, 2001, in Prague. McCarthy notes that the Commission rejected the Czech intelligence for several reasons:
* Atta didn't travel under aliases
* No video or photos of Atta in Prague or coming through Czech borders
* Cell phone activity during the period in question
* Testimony from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh
* No reason to conduct such a high-risk meeting with the muscle hijackers preparing to enter the US
Even the Commission did not go so far as to completely rule out the visit, by the way. On page 229, the report says that the Commission "cannot absolutely rule out the possibility that Atta was in Prague on April 9, 2001." It just concludes that the Czech intelligence is faulty, for the above reasons.
However, in my Daily Standard column tomorrow, I will point out that Atta had a damned good reason to check his six in Europe: the arrest of two Iraqi spies in Germany six weeks earlier and the exposure of their network, as covered in my previous Daily Standard column. The column reviews the information left out by the Commission in the final report and, combined with the Able Danger debunking of their timeline, shows that almost everything that the Commission assumed about Atta's travels come from two sources: KSM and Binalshibh, who may have good reasons to create a disinformation campaign. Tuesday, August 23, 2005
MAINSTREAM REPORTER COACHES SAMI AL-ARIAN
By Daniel Pipes
The wiretaps on Sami Al-Arian's telephones in Tampa picked up not just his terrorist chatter but everyone he spoke with, including reporters. For years, the local press divided on him, with the Tampa Tribune critical of him and the St. Petersburg Times very gentle on him.
Actually, we now learn, not just gentle but complicit. Fox News' O'Reilly Factor last night played back two parts of a conversation between Al-Arian and Jim Harper, a reporter at the St. Petersburg Times. (The transcript of the show is available online, as is a streaming video is.) In the first clip, Harper brings to Al-Arian some useful news:
JIM HARPER: You probably read … in the Tribune that a former state senator thinks you ought to be fired and so on and so forth.
SAMI AL-ARIAN: Is that what she said?
AL-ARIAN: Who's she?
AL-ARIAN: Who is she?
HARPER: She's just—she doesn't hold any office now but she's I think considered a leader in the local Jewish community.
AL-ARIAN: Oh, she's Jewish, huh?
HARPER: Yes, Helen Gordon Davis.
In the second, Harper advises Al-Arian how to deal with the rival Tampa Tribune:
HARPER: I think you should confront the Tribune directly.
HARPER: And ah, ah I think that every error that they make I think that you should at the least, ah, write them a letter.
HARPER: You know, I mean I - I'm giving you advice as a journalist. That's how you build a record against somebody that's treating you unfairly.
HARPER: I'll give you that advice ‘cause I don't [laughs] plan to treat you unfairly.
O'Reilly reports that Harper no longer works at the St. Petersburg Times and no one there will say what has become of him – "He just kind of vanished." Steven Emerson, discussing this topic with O'Reilly, points out that Harper "not only bought into Al-Arian's denials that he was a terrorist, but he actually started coaching him. … This was a wholesale bias that was deliberately perpetrated by the St. Petersburg Times for years."
Comment: It would surprise me to learn that Jim Harper and the St. Petersburg Times are the only media guilty of siding with accused terrorists. More than a few other reporters and newspapers come right to mind. (Hint Permalink: Look for the reporters who win awards from pro-terrorist organizations.) Sadly, their conversations may not make it to prime-time television. Tuesday, August 23, 2005
TALKING FREELY ABOUT THE ENEMY
By Daniel Pipes
Two recent developments prompt some reflections:
- The State Department took the unusual step of condemning the views of a member of the U.S. House of Representatives as "insulting and offensive"; and
- A subsidiary of the Disney Corporation fired a talk-show host.
In both cases, the trigger was the same – speaking about Islam.
I disagree with Congressman Tom Tancredo about keeping the option open to "take out" Mecca and with Michael Graham that "Islam is a terror organization." But I do think it vital that they and others be able to conduct a freewheeling discussion about the Koran, jihad, radical Islam, Islamist terrorism, and related topics, without fearing a reprimand from the U.S. government or a loss of their livelihood.
Americans are seriously discussing the nature of the enemy and how to defeat it. It is a confusing topic; for proof, look at how many differing ways George W. Bush has described the enemy, from "terrorists" to "evildoers" to "an ism" to "a fringe form of Islamic extremism" to "Islamic militants."
Especially at a time when establishment institutions are so timid or even deceptive, nothing can be off limits in this debate; and there must be no penalty for those who express their views. Monday, August 22, 2005
THE DARK FRONTIER
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's press conference enroute to Paraguay is interesting for a number of reasons -- the first being Paraguay itself. The Power and Interest News summarizes the region's strategic importance to the US. South America is wracked by a confluence of resurgent Marxism, fueled by Venezuela and Cuba; failing states and coca. Of particular interest is the Tri-Border area, centered on the town of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay on the border of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. The Associated Press described it as "a key South American point for Islamic terrorist fund raising to the tune of $100 million a year." The Tri-border area is sometimes described as the Muslim Triangle and is alleged to be one end of a conveyor belt leading to the US southern border.
So great is the supposed US interest in the Tri-Border area that the Vermont Guardian hinted at the planned establishment of an American military base in the vicinity, an allegation that Paraguay later denied. The Vermont Guardian echoed the characterization of Tri-Border area a possible springboard for Islamic terrorism.
The triple border between Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil has been long been rumored to be an “Islamic terrorist training ground.” According to New Yorker reporter Jeffrey Goldberg, the area is “one of the most lawless places in the world … also the center of Middle Eastern terrorism in South America.” In 2002, Goldberg reported that Hamas and al-Qaeda are associated with the terrorists in this region.
But Vermont Guardian journalist Benjamin Dangl noted that some sources felt that the perception of Al Qaeda in South America were the fevered imaginings of an agent of Zionism, just as was the connection between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.
As the U.S. was gearing up for a war in Iraq, Goldberg also wrote an article linking al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein that was used by the Bush administration to further their argument for war. Muckraking writer Alexander Cockburn found various inaccuracies in the article, and also noted that “Goldberg once served in Israel’s armed forces, which may or may not be a guide to his political agenda.”
Whatever the truth to these rumors, Rumsfeld's press conference produced another gem on the arming of the Iraqi insurgency by Iran. After the media asked precisely one question about the Tri-Border area ("Q: Will you be talking about the tri-border issue in Paraguay? A: I think the cooperation that the countries in the tri-border area have demonstrated has been a useful and constructive thing. It's been good. ...") they skipped straight to the subject of the Middle East.
Media: There have been reports about Iran specifically facilitating -- I mean you've addressed them a little bit. But over the weekend there was an even more detailed report in Time Magazine about Iran’s Revolutionary Guards setting up a specific unit in Iraq to carry out car bombings against Coalition forces. Are you aware of those kinds of reports? Do you think Iran's involvement is getting more intensive as the process of writing the constitution goes along?
Rumsfeld: I've not seen that report. I see intelligence reports and we know that we're finding Iranian weapons inside of the country. They don't just get there by accident. They don't fly there. And we know that Iran has a system of government it would like to replicate in Iraq, and we know the system of government they have with a handful of clerics running the place and telling everyone want to do is fundamentally inconsistent with the kind of a constitution that's currently being drafted in Iraq. And an Iraq that is democratic and representative will stand in stark contrast to Iran.
So one ought not to be surprised that they're engaged in the kind of activities that they're engaged in. They're making a mistake, in my view. I think they're going to have to live with their neighbors like any country does over time.
Media: -- Iranian weapons on more than one occasion?
Rumsfeld: I've got another [inaudible] secure videoconference --
Media: These discoveries in the past couple of months -- What do you think it indicates?
Rumsfeld: What I just said.
Some Belmont Club readers have repeatedly written to ask why Secretary Rumsfeld would be at pains to downplay Iranian intervention in Iraq -- both before and after Operation Iraqi Freedom -- when these revelations would serve to strengthen the linkage between terrorism and it's state sponsors, a connection whose existence has been repeatedly denied. (Speculation alert) One possible reason for turning a public blind eye to Iranian belligerence is that any administration which very strongly emphasized it would logically be compelled to do something about it, a step which the Bush administration may be unprepared to take or believes cannot be sustained by domestic political consensus.
One interesting historical parallel to the refusal to acknowledge Iranian aggression was the ignorance feigned by Britain, France and Russia to Italy's torpedoing of neutral merchant shipping en route to Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War. Both Germany and Italy operated U-Boats against shipping and one Italian submarine even sank a Republican warship, the submarine C3. Despite the fact that no major power would acknowledge belligerent acts by Italy and Germany against neutral shipping, the "international community" of the 1930s went on to negotiate the Treaty of Nyon proscribing acts of "piracy" without naming the pirates. The text of that treaty (which you can read by following the link) says:
Whereas arising out of the Spanish conflict attacks have been repeatedly committed in the Mediterranean by submarines against merchant ships not belonging to either of the conflicting Spanish parties; and
Whereas these attacks are violations of the rules of international law referred to in Part IV of the Treaty of London of 22 April 1930, with regard to the sinking of merchant ships and constitute acts contrary to the most elementary dictates of humanity, which should be justly treated as acts of piracy ... the British and French fleets will operate up to the entrance to the Dardanelles, in those areas where there is reason to apprehend danger to shipping in accordance with the division of the area agreed upon between the two Governments.
In order to prevent matters from being brought a to a head, Britain and France simply pretended they didn't know who was sinking neutral shipping and instructed their naval forces to conduct a secret war at sea against an enemy they would not acknowledge until two years later. Nor were they alone in this charade. The US Naval Institute has an interesting article describing FDR's undeclared naval war on Germany in 1940.
On the day of the 29 December 1940 "fireside chat," the world waited in anticipation of what the President of the United States would say about national security. Unknown to the public was that months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy was secretly hunting German and Italian warships in the North Atlantic.
Divided Western public opinion on the subject of Islamic terrorism has prevented the issues from being faced definitively. Neither the liberals nor the conservatives -- like the isolationists and interventionists of the 1930s -- have been able to establish a consensus for their point of view. Policy is consequently being made in fits and starts in the tug-o'-war between the sides, essentially awaiting events before taking a categorical direction. Whether that direction will be a genuine "peace for our time" or a new Pearl Harbor is unknown. Until history resolves the dilemma the twilight struggle will continue all over the world, from the Tri-Border area to the Iranian frontier. Tuesday, August 23, 2005
By Bill Roggio
The battles against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda and the insurgency in Iraq are increasingly being pushed towards the borders. The Taliban and Iraqi terror campaigns are relying on cross border havens to muster, arm and train fighters entering the country. The movement of combat from the political centers of gravity to the outlying border areas highlights the cumulative political and military successes over the past year. In both Afghanistan and Iraq, progress has been made in creating viable political and security institutions, increasing the legitimacy of the governments while decreasing the appeal of the al Qaeda sponsored insurgencies.
While this creates an increasingly difficult set of problems for Coalition forces in rooting out the bases of the insurgencies, the outsourcing of the Taliban and Iraqi insurgencies creates an opportunity for the Coalition. Once insurgencies are forced to operate outside of their natural borders, they become susceptible to the whims of their host government. Though it may not be obvious based on reviewing the news, combat fatalities or other metrics, the Iraqi insurgency, which appears to be stronger and more dynamic than the Taliban, is actually in a more susceptible position based on its reliance on Syria.
Afghanistan’s Border War
In Afghanistan, the majority of the fighting is taking place along the Pashtun areas along the Pakistani border. The most recent round of fighting, which resulted in 105 Taliban killed, is the latest in a string of operations along the Pakistani border. The Taliban are attempting to reestablish a foothold along the border and disrupt the upcoming elections in September.
According to US and Afghan officials, the support for the Taliban originates in Pakistan, which was the origin of the Taliban movement in the earlier 1990s. President Hamid Karzai is blunt in his assessment; “All the weapons, ammunition, budgets, money transfer systems and safe havens for terrorists are located in Pakistan.”
An anonymous US military source expresses frustration over the Pakistani’s unwillingness to deal with the problem, citing recent examples of attempting to cooperate with Pakistani forces in pursuing the Taliban; “But when we showed the pictures in Islamabad they said, 'We saw nothing.' It's the same when we call on our direct communications lines to say we're chasing the Taliban over the border - they see us coming and they refuse to pick up the phone.”
The Taliban and al Qaeda are taking advantage of the jihadi infrastructure of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which was created to foment terrorism in Kashmir and Jammu (see LeT it be for background) but is an al Qaeda affiliate. An interview with a Taliban fighter of Pakistani origin details the support infrastructure in Pakistan. The Taliban camps are believed to be lead by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a hero of the Afghan-Soviet war and a former minister in the deposed Taliban government (see this short profile).
Maksud [the trainer of the Taliban recruits] never gave the name of the group that was training him, Ali said. However, the hills around Mansehra overlook Pakistan's border with Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan province that is split between Pakistan and India.
The area has long been a training ground for Kashmiri guerrillas, unofficially supported by Pakistan. In recent years, several Kashmiri groups have joined forces with al Qaeda or the Taliban to attack Western targets, but critics charge that the Pakistani military remains reluctant to defang them.
Iraq’s Border War
In Iraq, the majority of the fighting is taking place in the western portion of the country, particularly in the Mosul region, Baghdad, and along the Euphrates River in the Anbar province. The recent string of operations along the Euphrates River has been designed to increasingly put pressure on the insurgency and close the ratline to Syria. The recent operation in Rawah is seen as crucial to severing the ratline. A base in Rawah has been built, allowing for local operations to be conducted north of the Euphrates close to the Syrian border.
Efforts to close border crossings continue. Security Watchtower highlights the efforts along the Syrian border, including the training being provided to Iraqi border agents and a detailed map of existing and future border fortifications designed to stem the flow of foreign jihadis.
It is difficult to deny Syria's involvement in the Iraqi insurgency. Its security services are aware of who is involved with Islamist activities, and it alternates between cracking down on activities to looking away or even providing assistance.
Pros & Cons
Pakistan’s failures to police its own borders and the tribal regions are more due to its status as a quasi-failed state, and Syria’s is due to its status as a rogue state. While it may seem counterintuitive, Pakistan is the country more difficult to deal with at this juncture, for the following reasons:
- The rugged, mountainous terrain along the Afghani-Pakistani border.
- The lack of clearly defined borders.
- Pakistan’s fragile situation with extremists and their domestic supporters.
- The hesitation of the Pakistani government in asserting itself in the tribal regions.
- The ISI (Pakistan’s intelligence service) and the continued training of the LeT.
- Pakistan’s status as a US ally.
The situation along the Syrian border is different. Syria, while hostile to US efforts in Iraq, is isolated in the region, and weak from its humiliating withdrawal from Lebanon. While it is no small task, sealing the Syrian border is of an order of magnitude easier than the Pakistani border due to the relatively few border crossings separated by wide swaths of desert. The government is in control of the regions along the border, unlike Pakistan, and there are few political issues with clamping down on the support system.
The inevitable comparison between Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh Trail and Pakistan/Syria are made. The Syrian Ratline/Ho Chi Minh Trail analogy is woefully inaccurate, and a Pakistani/Ho Chi Minh Trail comparison would be as well. For one, the Taliban is not operating with the assistance of the Pakistani government; the presence of the Taliban is more of a function of disorder than complicity.
There is one other reason any such comparison is inaccurate for both Pakistan and Syria. Unlike the Korean and Vietnam wars, where the pursuit of the enemy was prohibited across an arbitrary boundary, there is no great power to act as a brake on a US military response. Because of this, the US is not restrained in its response to the problem.
The options to address the situation include engaging in diplomatic negotiations, embargoes, the sealing of the borders, and even hot pursuit across the border, can be carried out with little negative affect. And should the US decide to incur the domestic political cost and strained relations in the international community, the option to conduct air and ground strikes against known camps, estabishing a safe safety zone, and crossing the border to establish enclaves within these countries exist.
Pakistan’s multiple attempts to correct its problems buys it time, but Syria has no such luxury. As the war pushes closer to its border, Syria’s complicity in Iraq will increasingly become the object of attention. The logical choice for Syria would be to turn on the terrorists in its midst, but as we saw with Saddam prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom, logic isn't always present in the minds of dictators. Monday, August 22, 2005