Wednesday, July 23, 2008
by Michael Gerson
KIGALI, Rwanda -- Cindy McCain's first visit to this country in 1994 was during the high season of roadblocks and machetes and shallow graves.
Following a call for help from Doctors Without Borders, McCain had assembled a medical team with the intention of setting up a mobile hospital in Rwanda.
Arriving by private plane in mid-April, a couple of weeks into the massacres, she realized that the chaos made deploying her team impossible. At the airport, she paid for the use of a truck and set out for Goma in then-Zaire, where hundreds of thousands of refugees were also headed.
"I never saw anyone harmed," McCain recalls, "but I saw the bodies along the roadside." Checkpoints were manned by 12- and 13-year-olds with AK-47s. "The kids were drinking -- bottles of Guinness, I remember. They would point their guns at you.
They wanted money. We paid."
Along the way, she picked up several abandoned young people, later given to the care of an Irish charity.
"You could see the chaos, hear the shots, hear the screaming. You could smell it." What, I asked her, could you smell? "The smell of death," she replied.
Arriving across the border in Goma, which is now in Congo, McCain found cholera victims stacked beside the road "like highway barriers." "I remember having to step over the decomposing body of an infant, covered with white powder, lime I guess, to get into one building."
The field hospital covered four acres. McCain's team provided primary care for the sick and frightened refugees, many of them suffering dehydration. For nearly a month, McCain organized food and water for the operation, collecting supplies at the Goma airport.
"I have never seen anything like it before," she says, "and never since. ... When I came home, I couldn't put it into words for my husband."
The rushing return of these memories came on Cindy McCain's first visit to Rwanda since the genocide. In the shadow of Barack Obama's world tour, McCain joined a bipartisan delegation -- including former Senate Majority Leaders Bill Frist and Tom Daschle -- organized by the ONE Campaign, a group that advocates for the fight against global poverty and disease.
McCain came back to a very different Rwanda -- peaceful, well governed, and making, with American help, some of the most rapid progress in the history of public health. "What has struck me," says McCain, "is that most people are reconciling.
A woman I met was gang-raped (during the genocide), her throat was slit, she lost her whole family, but was willing to forgive. The reason this will be a successful country is the women -- some of the strongest, most inspiring women I have ever met."
Given her history of humanitarianism, these adjectives might be associated with McCain herself. The election of her husband would also bring to the White House an adventurous, traveled, intriguingly fearless first lady.
Over the years, McCain has brought medical services to a Sandinista stronghold following Nicaragua's civil war; set up a mobile hospital near Kuwait City while the oil wells still burned from the first Gulf War; helped in Bangladesh following a cyclone.
And while in that country in 1991, she found her daughter Bridget in an orphanage -- "She really picked me," McCain insists. Sometimes the desire to save every child is properly concentrated on a single child.
Like most of Cindy McCain's life, these stories are generally hidden behind a wall of well-tailored reticence. She values the privacy of her family and resents the intrusiveness of the media.
None of her relief work has been done for political consumption or Washington prominence. On the contrary, it has been an alternative life to the culture of the capital -- the rejection of the normal progress of a senator's wife. "It is not about me -- it never has been. I felt it was important -- that I had to do it.
I never took government money. It was my own, and I am not ashamed of it."
But all this would have political consequences in a McCain administration. Even if a first lady is not intrusively political, the whole White House responds to her priorities.
Cindy McCain has had decades of personal contact with the suffering of the developing world.
And in some future crisis or genocide, it might matter greatly to have a first lady who knows the smell of death.
Monday, July 21, 2008
AntiMullah has already been sounding a warning of a MAJOR world disruption taking place in Turkey that will totally change it as a nation.
FETULLAH GULEN, SELF EXILED TURK TO THE USA IS A KHOMEINI IN THE MAKING AND WILL TURN SECULAR TURKEY INTO AN ISLAMIC REPUBLIC SIMILAR TO ISLAMIC IRAN. (AntiMullah April 2008)
Two Pronged Islamic Attack on secular Turkey (AntiMullah July 12th, 2008)
Turkey in the Throes of Islamic Revolution
Turkey is half pregnant with political Islam, if one believes Western foreign ministries and the mainstream press. Its Islamist government last week arrested 82 alleged coup plotters from Turkey's military and intellectual elite, on the strength of a secret indictment of 2,445 pages. Turkish media have offered fanciful allegations linking the secular leaders of the alleged 'Ergenekon' plot to al-Qaeda as well as the violent Kurdish Workers' Party. Among those detailed are pillars of the secular establishment, including the head of the Ankara Chamber of Commerce and the Ankara editor of the country's leading daily newspaper, Cumhuriyet.
Before shouting 'Reichstag Fire!' in a crowded theater, one should read the indictment, when and if it is made public. A few Western analysts, such as Michael Rubin at the American
Enterprise Institute, are warning that an Islamic putsch is possible, after the fashion of ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.
The question of the moment, though, is not whether mass arrests of civic leaders on charges that challenge the imagination are compatible with Turkey's image as a democratic nation, but rather why the world's media have printed nary a harsh word about the administration of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
A perfect storm of enmity has come down on the beleaguered Turkish secularists, who find themselves without friends. That is a tragedy whose consequences will spill over Turkey's borders, for the secular model established by Kemal Ataturk after World War I was the Muslim world's best hope of adapting to modernity.
Many years of misbehavior by Turkey's army and security services, the core institutions of secular power, have eroded their capacity to resist an Islamist takeover.
The United States State Department, meanwhile, has found a dubious use for what it thinks is a moderate strain of political Islam. Washington apparently hopes to steer Turkey into a regional bloc with the short-term aim of calming Iraq, and a longer-term objective of fostering a Sunni alliance against Iran's ambition to foment a Shi'ite revolution in the Middle East.
By rejecting Turkey's efforts to join the European Union, France and Germany have destroyed the credibility of the secular parties who seek integration with the West. Perhaps the Europeans already have consigned Turkey to the ward for political incurables, and do not think it worthwhile to try to revive Western-oriented secularism.
Turkey's liberal intellectuals, who suffered intermittent but brutal repression at the hands of the secular military, think of the Islamist government as the enemy of their enemy, if not quite their friend.
Sadly, the notion that moderate Islam will flourish in the Turkish nation demands that we believe in two myths, namely, moderate Islam and the Turkish nation.
Too much effort is wasted parsing the political views of Erdogan, who began his career in the 1990s as an avowed Islamist and anti-secularist, but later espoused a muted form of Islam as leader of the Justice and Development Party (AKP).
Whether Erdogan is a born-again moderate or a disguised jihadi is known only to the man himself. Islam in Turkey flourishes in full public view. At the village level, the AKP draws on the same sort of Saudi Arabian patronage that filled Pakistan with madrassas (seminaries) during the past two decades, and incubated the Wahhabi forces that have now all but buried the remnants of Pakistani secularism.
If political Islam prevails in Turkey, what will emerge is not the same country in different coloration, but a changeling, an entirely different nation. In a 1997 speech that earned him a prison term, Erdogan warned of two fundamentally different camps, the secularists who followed Kemal, and Muslims who followed sharia.
These are not simply different camps, however, but different configurations of Turkish society at the molecular level. Like a hologram, Turkey offers two radically different images when viewed from different angles. Turkish Islam, the ordering of the Anatolian villages and the Istanbul slums, represents a nation radically different than the secularism of the army, the civil service, the universities and the Western-leaning elite of Istanbul. If the Islamic side of Turkey rises, the result will be unrecognizable.
Modern Turkey is a construct, not a country in the sense that Westerners understand the term; it is the rump of a multi-ethnic empire that perished in World War I, and the project of a nation advanced by a visionary leader who could not, however, pierce the sedimentary layers of ethnicity, language and history that make modern Turkey less than the sum of its parts.
Turkey's army prevailed as the dominant institution of the secular state simply because no other entity could array the poor farmers of the Anatolian highlands according to the secular program.
The trouble is that there are not that enough Turks in Turkey. To replace the imperial identity of the Ottoman Empire, Kemal proposed Turkum, or Turkishness, an Anatolian national identity founded on the many civilizations that had ruled the peninsula.
Ethnic identity in the sense of European nationalism informed neither the Ottoman Empire nor the Kemalist state. The Orghuz Turks who conquered the hinterlands of the Byzantine Empire during the 12th century never comprised more than a small minority of the population. At the height of their conquests during the 17th century, the Ottoman Empire ruled over more Christians than Muslims.
Kemal created modern Turkey by thwarting the attempts of Western powers to partition his country after its defeat in World War I, but at terrible cost. The 20 million population of the Ottoman Empire was reduced to perhaps 7 million (by a French government estimate) in 1924.
Up to a million and a half Armenian Christians were murdered in 1914-1918 at the instigation of the Turkish government, to neutralize a population considered sympathetic to wartime adversaries. Most of the killing was done by Kurdish tribesmen.
Between 1.5 million and 3 million Greek Orthodox Christians, whose ancestors had settled Asia Minor thousands of years before the Turks arrived, were expelled in 1924 at the conclusion of the Greek-Turkish War.
Modern Turkey thus began not only with the rump of an empire, but with the turnover of nearly half its 1924 population. Because Kemal's concept of Turkum requires suspension of disbelief in favor of a nonexistent national identity, Turkey has avoided a census of its minorities since 1965.
Perhaps 30% of its population are Kurds, whose integration into the Turkish state is uncertain. Kurds are concentrated in eastern Turkey in an area that before 1918 was known as Western Armenia - because ethnic Kurds replaced the slaughtered Armenians.
In addition, there are 3 million Circassians, 2 million Bosniaks, a million and a half Albanians, a million Georgians, and sundry smaller groups. But even within the majority characterized as 'ethnic Turks', the sedimentary layers remain of millennia of contending tribes and civilizations.
The Kemalists had mixed results in their efforts to pack this ethnic and cultural jumble into a newly-designed national identity. What sometimes is called the 'deep state' - the secretive Kemalist hold over military and intelligence services - may turn out to be shallow as it is brittle.
One Turkish historian told me, 'Like the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid, who fell 100 years ago this week because of an explosion of popular unrest, the Turkish military are the victims of their own success in creating a diversified and modern society which wants to live in a freer system.
The hard hand they turned against intellectual dissenters drove sections of the westernized intelligentsia into the arms of the Islamists - and it is that alliance which is now at work to demolish both the military's influence in politics and (perhaps) the entire heritage of Kemal Ataturk.'
Like its Ottoman predecessors, the Kemalist establishment recognized its danger far too late. This year, the country's Constitutional Court attempted to ban Erdogan's AKP for attempting to undermine the secular state. It seems probable that the suppression of the supposed coup plot constitutes the AKP's response, as well as a pre-emptive action against the last-resort tactic of the secularists, namely military intervention to prevent Turkey from sliding into Islamism.
Turkey presently is composed of 70 million people who do not quite know who they are. If the hologram rotates towards Islam, that is, a return to sharia and traditional life in opposition to modernity, Turkey will no more resemble the 'moderate Muslim' state of 2008 than Kemal's Turkey resembled the Ottoman Empire of 1908.
According to one Turkish analyst, 'The Islamic movement in Turkey is a vast and varied coalition of which the AKP is only the nose cone. It was designed to look studiously moderate and allay the suspicions both of the military and of world opinion. Some sections of the AKP are undoubtedly moderates or pragmatists and deserve their moderate reputation. But alongside the party, there is an enormous groundswell of Islamic movements, at work transforming Turkish society and institutions.
Successful revolutionaries tend to be those who conceal their intentions until the hour of victory: if anyone in the AKP intends to move towards sharia it is unlikely that they would be shouting this from the rooftops.'
It should be no surprise that the State Department looks favorably on Turkey's Islamist drift: that is precisely how Foggy Bottom viewed Iran in 1979, when it sped the overthrow of the shah. It appears that the United States and Saudi Arabia, each for its own reasons, are doing their best to propel Turkey on the way to Islamism. Saudi Arabia's support for Islamist organizations at the grassroots level is an open secret in Turkey, and the influence of Erdogan's AKP at the village level stems to a great extent from Saudi patronage.
Less subtle is the burgeoning importance of Gulf state contracts for the Turkish economy. Turkey has two main sources of external business: consumer goods exports to Europe, and contracting as well as exports in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Economic conditions are deteriorating in Turkey, and the country's stock market is the worst performer this year among emerging markets. With Europe in recession, and prospects fading for Turkish entry into the European community, Saudi Arabia looms larger in the Turkish economy, strengthening Erdogan's hand among the business elite.
Washington's immediate concern is the appearance of stability in Iraq, which will influence the November presidential elections in the US. As a self-styled moderate Sunni, Erdogan seems to be Central Casting's idea of an Iraqi ally. Erdogan received an extraordinary welcome when he visited Iraq last week, with the promise of an economic and political alliance with the country.
An Iraqi spokesmen, Ali al-Dabbagh, declared after Erdogan's visit that 'Turkey is Iraq's door to Europe', adding that Turkey 'can be the best trade partner of Iraq', according to the BBC on July 13. Even more,
'The security and political dimensions are also of paramount importance because the two countries are on the road to democracy. Turkey is a democratic country and democracy has started to take roots in Iraq ... I think this relationship will be a large nucleus around which other countries will rally so that the region will develop into a common market benefiting its peoples.'
Less dramatic, but perhaps more important than the mass arrests, was another development in Turkey. The country's Supreme Court dismissed all charges against the exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, the man Michael Rubin believes will be Turkey's answer to Khomeini.
State prosecutors had accused Gulen of founding an illegal organization with the objective of undermining the secular structure of the state. An elderly diabetic, Gulen has lived in exile in the United States since 1998. 'We expect Gulen here any day,' a Turkish analyst told me.
Whether Rubin is correct to view Gulen as the Turkish Khomeini is of secondary interest. Gulen's movement is one of a number of entities that might form the kernel of an Islamic Republic in Turkey.
The Sorcerer's Apprentices of the State Department do not understand the sort of objects that they are animating. Political Islam will not merely change coloration of the country, but transform its character from the grassroots upward.
For all the crudeness of the Kemalists, American diplomats will regret their failure as much as the fall of the Shah.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Abe Ghafari of Iranian Christians International, Inc. (ICI) was at least a little surprised to learn the news. "Before, it was like an option that an Islamic judge could decide to use or not to use -- but now it will become an automatic thing. And from the language of the legislation, it seems like something that cannot be appealed," Ghafari contends.
The death penalty would primarily apply to those who convert to the Christian faith. "There are large numbers of conversions from Islam, maybe even in the tens of thousands every year, and this is causing concern in the Islamic circles in Iran," Ghafari explains.
People who use the Internet to convert people away from the Muslim faith will also be subject to the death penalty. Ghafari was asked if this information shocked him. "Yes, it does a bit because we do know that under Islamic law of Iran, there was always this option of issuing death penalties for any conversions from Islam.
So this was already available, but it looks like they just want to escalate persecution – making the death penalty almost automatic for anyone who converts from Islam," Ghafari adds.
While Christians are the primary target, anyone converting to the Bahá'í faith will also face the death penalty. Ghafari sees trouble ahead, and is hopeful Christians everywhere will pray for the underground church in Iran.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The selling of AMERICA
WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM ?
By MAUREEN DOWD
OBAMA'S TROUBLING INTERNET FUND RAISING
Certainly the most interesting and potentially devastating phone call I have received during this election cycle came this week from one of the Obama's campaign internet geeks.
These are the staffers who devised Obama's internet fund raising campaign which raised in the neighborhood of $200 million so far. That is more then twice the total funds raised by any candidate in history – and this was all from the internet campaign.
What I learned from this insider was shocking but I guess we shouldn't be surprised that when it comes to fund raising there simply are no rules that can't be broken and no ethics that prevail.
Obama's internet campaign started out innocently enough with basic e-mail networking , lists saved from previous party campaigns and from supporters who visited any of the Obama campaign web sites.
Small contributions came in from these sources and the internet campaign staff were more than pleased by the results.
Then, about two months into the campaign the daily contribution intake multiplied. Where was it coming from?
One of the web site security monitors began to notice the bulk of the contributions were clearly coming in from overseas internet service providers and at the rate and frequency of transmission it was clear these donations were "programmed" by a very sophisticated user.
While the security people were not able to track most of the sources due to firewalls and other blocking devices put on these contributions they were able to collate the number of contributions that were coming in seemingly from individuals but the funds were from only a few credit card accounts and bank electronic funds transfers.
The internet service providers (ISP) they were able to trace were from Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other Middle Eastern countries.
One of the banks used for fund transfers was also located in Saudi Arabia.
Another concentrated group of donations was traced to a Chinese ISP with a similar pattern of limited credit card charges.
It became clear that these donations were very likely coming from sources other than American voters. This was discussed at length within the campaign and the decision was made that none of these donations violated campaign financing laws.
It was also decided that it was not the responsibility of the campaign to audit these millions of contributions as to the actual source (specific credit card number or bank transfer account numbers) to insure that none of these internet contributors exceeded the legal maximum donation on a cumulative basis of many small donations.
They also found the record keeping was not complete enough to do it anyway.This is a shocking revelation.
We have been concerned about the legality of "bundling" contributions after the recent exposure of illegal bundlers but now it appears we may have an even greater problem.
I guess we should have been somewhat suspicious when the numbers started to come out.
We were told (no proof offered) that the Obama internet contributions were from $10.00 to $25.00 or so.
If the $200,000,000 is right, and the average contribution was $15.00, that would mean over 13 million individuals made contributions?
That would also be 13 million contributions would need to be processed. How did all that happen? I believe the Obama campaign's internet fund raising needs a serious, in depth investigation and audit.
It also appears the whole question of internet fund raising needs investigation by the legislature and perhaps new laws to insure it complies not only with the letter of these laws but the spirit as well.
Monday, July 14, 2008
Olmert Ignored by Assad in ParisIsraeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert looked his way, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad avoided any eye contact when the two leaders attended an EU-Mediterranean summit. As Olmert entered the main hall of the Paris Grand Palais, a Reuters photographer captured him casting glances toward the Syrian leader. But Assad turned away, raising one hand to his face as if to block off any eye contact with the Israeli. It was the first time they had ever been in the same room together. (Reuters)
French Military Against Assad's Presence at Bastille Day ParadeThe French government has banned a demonstration by French veterans meant in part to protest against the presence of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as an honored guest at the July 14 Bastille Day military parade, French media reported on Friday. French veterans blame Syria for the deaths of 58 French members of a UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon in 1983. The FNAME veterans group has called on soldiers marching in Monday's parade to wear black armbands to protest Assad's presence. Former French President Jacques Chirac has previously said he would not be at the July 14 ceremonies because of Assad's participation. Chirac blames Assad for the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, for which Syrian intelligence services have been implicated. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
See also Assad Makes Remarkable Comeback - Roula KhalafAfter years of isolation Bashar al-Assad staged a diplomatic comeback on Saturday, courtesy of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Still boycotted by some of his Arab neighbors and shunned by the U.S., the Syrian president will be in the company of European leaders at the union for the Mediterranean summit in Paris. The trip marks a remarkable turnaround for a leader whose behavior at home and in the region had relegated Syria to the ranks of a pariah state. (Financial Times-UK)
More Power for Hizbullah in Lebanon's New Cabinet - Robert F. WorthLebanon's political leaders formed a new cabinet on Friday, formalizing an earlier agreement that hands decisive new powers to Hizbullah and its allies in the opposition. Under the deal, the opposition won a "blocking third" in the cabinet, which allows it to stop any major government decision. (New York Times)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
Palestinian Wounds Two Policemen in Jerusalem Shooting - Etgar LefkovitsTwo police officers were shot and seriously wounded late Friday night near the Lions Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. In the attack, which was captured by security cameras, a Palestinian with a handgun snuck up on the two security officials posted at the site, shooting them in the head and chest. One of the officers returned fire at the attacker, who managed to flee through a nearby Muslim cemetery. The attack is the sixth since the beginning of the year in the city. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Border Policeman Fighting for His Life - Etgar LefkovitsDavid Chriqui, 19, the border policeman shot in the head at close range Friday by a Palestinian assailant in Jerusalem, remained in critical condition Sunday, hospital officials said. "We are praying for a miracle," said Dr. Yuval Weiss, Director of Hadassah-University Hospital at Ein Kerem. (Jerusalem Post)
Hizbullah Report: Airman Ron Arad Died Trying to Escape During 1988 Israeli Raid - Yaakov Katz, Tovah Lazaroff, and Yaakov LappinAfter 22 years, two photographs of missing Israel Air Force airman Ron Arad, as well as three letters written by him and fragments of a diary, were given to his wife Tami on Sunday. The personal material was part of an 80-page report by Hizbullah detailing the group's search for Arad, who was shot down over Lebanon and captured alive in 1986. The report, which did not solve the mystery of what happened to Arad, represents the first stage of a planned prisoner swap with Hizbullah. The Hizbullah report is merely an updated version of a report it passed to Israel in 2004, defense officials said on Sunday. The conclusion remains the same as the 2004 report, that Arad had tried to escape when his guards went to fight during Israel's Maydun operation on May 4, 1988, and probably died. (Jerusalem Post)
See also Former Mossad Agent: Arad Likely Died During Escape - Tovah LazaroffRami Igra, head of the Mossad's department for prisoners and missing persons until 1999, reportedly traveled overseas more than 100 times to meet with sources and colleagues from other intelligence agencies to gather information about missing navigator Ron Arad. By the end of his tenure, he had concluded that Arad had most likely died while escaping from his captors in May 1988. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinian Rocket Hits Israel Saturday in New Gaza Truce ViolationPalestinians in Gaza on Saturday fired a rocket into Israel in a new violation of a June 19 cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. (Ha'aretz)
See also Another Truce Violation: Two Mortars Fired from Gaza Sunday - Shmulik HadadPalestinians in Gaza fired two mortar shells on Sunday that landed near Kibbutz Nahal Oz. (Ynet News)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Jitters Over Iran - Jim HoaglandPolarization and conflict help Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad maintain his somewhat shaky grip on power and money. His rocket-rattling makes clear to all concerned, including his own diplomats, that he doesn't need no stinkin' peace conferences. Regional war jitters were initially sparked in early June by the staging of Israeli aerial maneuvers in Greece. Scheduled long ago, the high-altitude joint maneuvers have been widely misinterpreted as preparation for a strike against Iran. Israeli Ambassador Sallai Meridor emphasized to me last week that, "Sanctions on insurance and maritime and air transportation would raise the cost of Iran's doing business. But effective sanctions on the import of refined petroleum products could be a game-changer," since Iran produces crude oil but lacks refining capacity. The world's oil companies "should not sell gasoline that is used by Iran's nuclear scientists and its terror chiefs to drive to 'work,'" Meridor said. (Washington Post)
Israel and Iran: On a Collision Course - Jonathan SpyerWithin the Iranian clerical-led elite has arisen an ultra-radical faction, centered on the Revolutionary Guards and represented at the highest level by President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. The desire of this faction is to revive what it sees as the authentic spirit of the revolutionary period, in the face of the waste, decay and corruption that is the reality of contemporary Iran. The drive to project Iranian power across the region is a vital aspect of this ambition. A nuclear capability would make this possible. Hatred of Israel is a genuinely felt sentiment in such circles. It is also a useful tool for building regional influence. Israel sees the Iranian nuclear program within this framework. The hesitant diplomacy of the international community appears a poor tool for deterring the Tehran radicals. (Guardian-UK)
Canada, Australia May Seek to Try Ahmadinejad for Incitement to Genocide - Interview with Irwin CotlerJewish-Canadian legal expert Professor Irwin Cotler has initiated an international effort to bring Iranian President Ahmadinejad to justice for incitement to genocide. Cotler, a former Canadian justice minister, has already discussed the issue with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and it is possible that the Canadian statesman, together with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, will promote this initiative. (IBA News-Hebrew)
See also A Leadership Role for France - Irwin CotlerState parties to the Genocide Convention, such as France or Canada, have not only a right, but a responsibility, to enforce the convention, particularly to prevent genocide. (Jerusalem Post)
Not Israel's Policemen - Alexander Yakobson (Ha'aretz)
Hamas in Gaza is currently interested in a lull. The rocket fire targeting Israel is perpetrated by armed groups refusing to accept Hamas authority - including Fatah operatives. Hamas leaders have spoken out vehemently against the rocket fire, but they have also stated repeatedly that Hamas will not function as Israel's policeman or turn its weapons on other Palestinian groups to defend Israel's security. Such a government has no chance of "convincing" those groups to obey.
This slogan - we won't be Israel's policemen - was adopted by Fatah in the early days of the Palestinian Authority and, more than anything else, this is what decided the fate of the Oslo process. The PA never made a systematic effort to disarm the militant groups or impose the basic rule without which no government can exist: a monopoly on the legitimate use of force.
From Israel's perspective, this slogan disparages the principle of land for peace, since it promises that as long as Israel cedes land, it will get less peace - and that's regardless of the will of the Palestinian leadership.
Mahmoud Abbas has openly and courageously denounced the terror attacks and the armed struggle against Israel. There is no reason to doubt his sincerity, because such comments did nothing to improve his popularity when the prevailing assumption among Palestinians in the territories was that a few exploding buses would topple Israeli society. But even Abbas stuck to the approach that it was permissible to try to persuade those attacking Israel, but that the government should not confront them and certainly should not fight them - because after all, "we're not Israel's policemen."
Indeed, the Palestinian government should not be Israel's policeman. It should act against terrorism for its own reasons. It is hard to imagine a situation in which the operation of a collection of gangs would be in its interest.
The Palestinian unwillingness to do so is not just a matter of weakness, but is also connected to Israel's lack of legitimacy in the eyes of the Palestinian public. The primary issue is whether there will be a Palestinian leadership, whatever its ideology, that operates as a national leadership and as a government - one that polices itself.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
By Andrew Cochran
Steven Emerson prepared the following written statement for the record for today's Senate committee hearing on violent extremism, which features Maajid Nawaz, former senior Hizbut official (see this article about the measures taken to bring him into the country this week).
Investigative Project on Terrorism
Report on the Roots of Violent Islamist Extremism and Efforts to Counter It: The Muslim Brotherhood
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, the security apparatuses of United States have dedicated themselves to combating Islamist terrorism and countering its roots. These efforts have been met with varying levels of success.
Operationally, the U.S. has been largely successful - thwarting terrorist attacks against the homeland and hardening American targets abroad. However, the primary driver of the violence - ideology - has not been successfully countered or even sufficiently understood. The roots of this ideology are diverse and diffuse, but the primary root of Sunni Islamist violence in the modern era is the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun) was founded as an Islamic revivalist movement in the Egyptian town of Isma’iliyaa in March 1928 by school teacher Hassan al-Banna (1906-1949).
The vast majority of Sunni terrorist groups - including al Qaeda, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad - are derived from the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood’s goal has been to promote the implementation of Shari’ah (Islamic law derived from the Quran and the Sunnah). Early in its history, the Brotherhood focused on education and charity.
It soon became heavily involved in politics and remains a major player on the Egyptian political scene, despite the fact that it is an illegal organization. The movement has grown exponentially, from only 800 members in 1936, to over 2 million in 1948, to its current position as a pervasive international Sunni Islamist movement, with covert and overt branches in over 70 countries.
“I did not want to enter into competition with the other orders,” al-Banna once said. “And I did not want it to be confined to one group of Muslims or one aspect of Islamic reform; rather I sought that it be a general message based on learning, education, and jihad.”
According to al-Banna, “It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.”
That helps explain the Muslim Brotherhood’s motto: “Allah ghayatuna Al-rasul za'imuna. Al-Qur-'an dusturuna. Al-jihad sabiluna. Al-mawt fi sabil Allah asma amanina. Allah akbar, Allah akbar.” (“God is our goal, the Quran is our Constitution, the Prophet is our leader, struggle [jihad] is our way, and death in the service of God is the loftiest of our wishes. God is great. God is great.”)
The Brotherhood has reached global status, wielding power and influence in almost every state with a Muslim population. Additionally, the Brotherhood maintains political parties in many Middle-Eastern and African countries, including Jordan, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and even Israel.
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood attempted to overthrow the Syrian government in the 1980s, but the revolt was crushed.
Aside from the Muslim Brotherhood in Israel proper, the terrorist organization Hamas was founded as the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, Article II of the Hamas charter states:
The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine.
Moslem Brotherhood Movement is a universal organization which constitutes the largest Islamic movement in modern times. It is characterized by its deep understanding, accurate comprehension and its complete embrace of all Islamic concepts of all aspects of life, culture, creed, politics, economics, education, society, justice and judgment, the spreading of Islam, education, art, information, science of the occult and conversion to Islam.
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Sunday, July 06, 2008
Iran insists its nuclear plans are peaceful but says its forces are ready to respond to any military attack. Following are some details about Iran's military capability. The totals include equipment held by the Revolutionary Guards, which operate on land, at sea and in the air:
* ARMED FORCES:
Iran has 545,000 personnel in active service. Major General Ataollah Salehi is the armed forces chief.
* ARMY: The army comprises 350,000 men, including 220,000 conscripts. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, viewed as the most loyal guardian of the ruling system, has another 125,000 men.
In 2004 the army was organised in four corps, with four armoured divisions and six infantry divisions.
There are nearly 1,700 tanks including some 100 Zulfiqar locally produced main battle tanks. A large number of Iran's tanks are elderly British-made Chieftains and U.S.-made M-60s. Soviet-made T-54 and T-55s, T-59s, T-62s, and T-72s were also part of the inventory, all captured from the Iraqis or acquired from North Korea and China.
The latest Military Balance report from the International Institute for Strategic Studies says that some of the tanks' serviceability may be in doubt.
There are around 640 armoured personnel carriers. There are 8,196 artillery pieces of which 2,010 are towed, and over 310 are self-propelled.
-- In a 2007 parade to mark the anniversary of 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, Iran showed its Shahab-3 missile, saying it could travel 2,000 km (1,250 miles) -- enabling it to hit Israel and U.S. bases in the region.
Another missile at the parade, the Ghadr-1, can reach targets 1,800 km (1,125 miles) away. It was believed to be the first time it has been shown publicly.
* NAVY: There are 18,000 naval personnel. The navy has its headquarters at Bandar-e Abbas. Iran's navy has three Russian Kilo class submarines, three frigates and two corvettes.
-- As of 2001 the regular Iranian navy was in a state of overall obsolescence, and in poor shape because they had not been equipped with modern ships and weapons. The readiness of the three frigates is doubtful, and the two nearly 40-year-old corvettes do not have sophisticated weapons.
-- In late 2007 Iran launched a new locally made submarine and a navy frigate named as Jamaran. Jane's Defence Weekly reported last November that Iran was also building missile-launching frigates copied from 275-tonne Kaman fast attack missile craft originally purchased from France in the late 1970s.
* AIR FORCE:
-- The air force has 52,000 personnel and 281 combat aircraft. However, serviceability may be as low as around 60 percent for U.S. aircraft types and 80 percent for Russian aircraft. There are F-14 and MiG 29 aircraft.
There are also some aircraft impounded from Iraq -- Russian-built Sukhoi Su-24s and 25s. Iran also has transport aircraft and helicopters.
-- In September 2007, Iran said it had tested two new domestically-produced jet fighters. State television said the Saegheh was a new generation of the Azarakhsh (Lightning) fighter. Iran said it was being built on an industrial scale.
Alan note: not part of the military but still part of the paramilitary is the Bassiji (Suppression Force) that till recently has consisted of Arab mercenaries under Iranian commanders.
Worried by the growing discontent inside Islamic Iran, supreme ruler Ali Khamenei place his new Bassii Commander in charge of the Suppression Forces and the Revolutionary Guards.
And recruited close to two MILLION (very low paid) youths around the nation to act as manpower supplement to put down anti-regime demonstrations, even in small towns or villages. They receive rudimentary arms training but for the most part carry clubs, tire irons and machetes with which to maim and kill.
This releases other better trained and armed forces to handle more serious security challenges.