Saturday, May 9, 2009
The speech, fulfilling an Obama campaign promise, will focus on how Americans and Muslims abroad can secure the "safety and security" of their children in a more hopeful future, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
The trip, certain to unfold amid a massive security operation, will come as Obama tries to ignite stalled Middle East peace efforts, and will represent his most significant attempt yet to engage the Muslim world.
Arabs and Muslim believers across the world have been alienated by the war in Iraq, abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib jail outside Baghdad and the Guantanamo Bay "war on terror" camp which Obama has ordered closed.
Gibbs said that the exact venue for the speech had yet to be decided, but most speculation will center on Cairo, the capital of Egypt, the most populous nation in the Arab world.
"On June 4, the president will give a speech in Egypt. The speech will be about America's relations with the Muslim world," Gibbs said.
He added that there were no plans for Obama to make any further stops in the Middle East during the visit, which will precede a trip to France and Germany focusing on World War II commemorations.
The president promised during his 2008 election campaign to make a speech at a major Islamic forum within the first 100 days of his administration which ended last week, but the timetable slipped for logistical reasons.
He did however make a speech in the Turkish parliament last month, during his first presidential visit to a Muslim-majority nation, declaring the United States was not at war with Islam, and noting his own partly Muslim heritage.
As Obama tries to kick start Middle East peacemaking, the visit will follow trips to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas.
Obama is also trying to coax sworn US foe Iran to the negotiating table in a bid to halt the Islamic state's nuclear program.
Gibbs defended Obama from claims that by choosing Egypt, where the State Department says there are "significant restrictions on the political process and freedom of expression" the US president was watering down US support for democracy promotion abroad.
"It is a country that in many ways represents the heart of the Arab world," Gibbs said. "I think it will be a terrific opportunity for the president to address and discuss our relationship with the Muslim world."
Obama last month reached out to Muslims from the well of the Turkish parliament.
"You cannot put out fire with flames," Obama said, arguing that brute force alone could not thwart extremism as he sent a flurry of coded messages throughout the Middle East.
Obama, who spent part of his childhood in Indonesia, and is the son of a Kenyan father of Muslim heritage, drew on his own biography as he sought to forge new trust with the Islamic world.
The president said US ties with Islam could not be simply defined by opposition to terrorism, decades into a US struggle with extremism that was sharpened by the September 11 attacks in 2001.
"The United States has been enriched by Muslim Americans. Many other Americans have Muslims in their family, or have lived in a Muslim-majority country -- I know, because I am one of them."
Within days of taking office in January, Obama launched his effort to engage the Muslim world by granting an interview with the Al-Arabiya television network.
"Obama has created a combination of curiosity and excitement throughout the Middle East," said Jon Alterman, the director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here. "He embodies change in a region where many people are terribly thirsty for political change."
The White House also said Friday that Obama will visit the German city of Dresden and the former Nazi death camp at Buchenwald in June 5, before traveling onto D-Day commemorations in France.
Obama's great-uncle, Charlie Payne, took part in the liberation of part of the Buchenwald camp in 1945 with the US Army, but Gibbs said it was unclear whether he would travel with the president.
Payne was a private in the 89th Infantry Division during World War II when he took part in the liberation of Ohrdruf, a forced-labor camp that was part of Buchenwald.
The Israeli genocide of Gazans has now claimed at least 821 lives, 235 of them children, 90 women and 12 medics as of Saturday January 10 and according to leaflets dropped by Israeli aircraft, the Zionists are to launch a “new phase in the war on terror” in coming days thus continuing the indiscriminate terrorism of an entire civilian population. Israel launched Operation Cast Lead against Gaza on December 27 claiming it was to halt Hamas rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. However it seems to be by now apparent to everyone except those plugged into the mainstream press that this is simply just not the case. Intellectuals and journalists across the board have attempted to attribute the invasion to a number of factors including retaliation for its humiliating loss to Hezbollah in 2006 to the intent to strike up changes in the polls for the upcoming Israeli elections. Some have accepted that Israel truly is acting simply to remove Hamas from power in Gaza and to protect its citizens from terrorism. While other extremes allege it is to provoke an all out war in the Middle East, thus advancing the Zionist drive for a greater Israel. While all these theories are plausible, the reality is much simpler: the attacks on Gaza are to prevent Islam from playing a role in the region. Where Israel claims to be advancing a new phase on the War on Terror it is only continuing the failed policies of Western secularism’s War on Islam. The Zionists are destroying Gaza to destroy Hamas but not in order to protect Israeli civilians from Qasam rockets as they would have us believe, they are there to prevent the notion of jihad and liberation espoused in the Quran from growing within the hearts, minds and actions of sincere Muslims across the globe and to squander yet another effort to establish a sovereign Islamic State.
Zionist existence in Palestine absolutely necessitates that not even the faintest sense of the true Islamic Creed exist in the Muslim world. Allah says that, “Those whom We have given the Book recognize him (Muhammad) as they recognize their sons (Quran 2:146) and so if anyone is more aware of the threat that Islam, as an all-encompassing ideology poses, it is the Khazar Jews that occupy Palestine. The Jewish Diaspora existed for 2000 years before 1917 when the Balfour Declaration addressed to Lord Rothschild, international financier, granted the British Empire’s support for a homeland in Jerusalem for European Jews. In 1918 a British army led by General Allenby defeated the Ottomans and took control of Jerusalem. From 1919 to 1948 Britain ruled on mandate conferred by the League of Nations. During this period of time the world witnessed the massive emigration of European Jews to the Holy Land. The tremendous German hatred of the Jews due to the fact that German Jews made a deal with Britain to get the USA to enter the first world war in support of Britain in exchange for Britain’s promise to give them the Holy Land when the war was won, and the resultant rise of Hitler which led to a dramatically increased Jewish emigration from Europe to the Holy Land and finally after World War II in 1948 when the U.S. took over as global hegemon and immediately recognized Israel as a sovereign state to say nothing of the Palestinians. The Six Day War in 1967 witnessed a massive land grab by Israel thus initiating the long Israeli occupation of Gaza that did not end until 2005 when Jewish settlers numbered only 8,000 compared with 1.4 million local residents yet controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and most of its water. The end of Gaza’s occupation was only superficial as Israel maintained a complete economic embargo, moved its military through Gaza at will and prevented any sovereign government from being established. In 2006, the election of Hamas, an Islamist party, infuriated the Zionists and widespread violence resumed. While Qassam rockets killed 11 Israelis since withdrawal from Gaza, from 2005-07 IDF forces killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza including 222 children alone. Still, many Palestinians have struggled to realize self-determination through Islam and continue to support Hamas and thereby side with Islam.
Israeli aggression is only possible with the absence of Islamic identity and complicity of the international community including the Arab apostates, EU, UN and especially the US government that gives more than $3 billion in aid each year to Israel and recently agreed to a $30 billion, ten-year defense contract that places no conditions or restraints on the use of weaponry transferred into the varieties we now seeing being used against the civilian population of Gaza. The link between the Zionists and America is finally being shown for what it is the world over and these attacks on Gaza will earn Israel only more enemies on the international stage. This close relationship is becoming a curse for America in that it serves as a high cost to the US treasury and in that any attack on America is an attack on the Zionists and vice versa. The U.S. is Israel’s main accomplice in the assault on Gaza, having boycotted Hamas and covertly funded secularist Fatah in a civil war that failed from the time of election in 2006 until Hamas ejected Fatah militants from Gaza earlier this year. The Muslim world must by now recognize that the fear these allies truly hold is unification under Islam and a new global order based on the miraculous Quran and its tenets, a book “wherein there is no doubt” and that “answers all things.” As the Western economic order of globalization plunges deeper into despair and the world awaits the incoming salvation it expects from the Obama Administration, while the War against Islam continues on all fronts, it is time Muslims recognize how serious a situation we are in. Allah has informed us in the Quran that “I am going to place in the earth a khalifa, they (angels) said: What! Will You place in it such as shall make mischief in it and shed blood, and we celebrate Thy praise and extol Thy holiness? He said: Surely I know what you do not know. (2:30). Man is caretaker over Earth and entrusted to respect the commands Allah has sent down and it is only in Islamic consciousness that hearts find rest but Allah explains that, “The Unbelievers are protectors, one of another: Unless ye do this, there would be tumult and oppression on earth, and great mischief. (8:73). We must unite and return from our slumber and unwitting allegiance to solutions supported by the united attack on Islam by all other ideologies, otherwise the killing and mischief promoted by the enemies of Allah will continue and the whole world will experience great oppression the likes of Gaza.
Israel claims that it is acting in retaliation for Hamas’ rocket-firing. However, Hamas had strictly observed a 6-month cease-fire until it was violated on November 4, when Israel launched an airstrike into Gaza that killed 5 and injured several others. The latest aggression has witnessed a disproportionate number of casualties. Israel has attacked mosques and tunnels allegedly in order to protect their civilians from what they and their US backers have designated a terrorist entity. It is alleged that Israel has used white phosphorous and depleted uranium, weapons banned by international law. The International Red Cross criticized the Israelis for allowing children to starve beside their dead parents just meters away from an Israeli military base. The UN Relief and Work Agency removed its assistance after one of its workers was killed saying Gaza is too dangerous to deliver aid. Israeli has banned all journalists from Gaza and went so far as to bomb the compound housing journalists from Press TV. With the latest drop of leaflets, it is apparent the slaughter will continue; chief rabbi Mordechi Eliyahu passed religious legitimacy to the attacks claiming, “an entire city holds collective responsibility for the immoral behavior of individuals. In Gaza, the entire populace is responsible because they do nothing to stop the firing of Qassam rockets.” Israel has come this far and now cannot pull out, the international community is watching, protests pile thousands onto the streets every day, they are embarrassed covering casualties, stuck on the ground like the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, infuriated they must now commit to long term military occupation or revert in defeat and attempt to compensate with deceiving diplomacy. No matter the choice they will not stop as Moshe Yaalon, then IDF chief of staff, summarized in 2002, “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”
And when it is said to them, Do not make mischief in the land, they say: We are but peace-makers. Now surely they themselves are the mischief makers, but they do not perceive. (2:11-12)
The most difficult problem for those that can see the reality of Israeli Fascism is that they typically misunderstand the dimensions of the problem. As Ayman al-Zawahari explained recently, “what you are facing today is not an occupation trial, limited within an area or a specific country, it is a part in the series of the Zionist-Crusader campaign on the Muslim nation, and these raids are a gift for you from Obama before he takes his post, and Hosni Mubarak the traitor is the main partner in besieging and killing you. For in the time that the Israeli aircrafts bombard you from air, he closes the borders with his troops, to achieve the plan of killing Muslims in Gaza. The same dirty role which the Jews played in Sabra and Shatila massacres with the battalions' forces.” He also called for continued strikes in Egypt and across the Muslim world and recommended that the consequences of the raids on Gaza carry over into the replacement of the Mubarak government, who have themselves been busy facing a fatwa calling for jihad signed by 40 scholars and suppressing protests violently in an effort to stem public resentment. At any given time the millions in Egypt may rise up but will only produce an effective mobilization in the event they rally around Islam. Allah says, And now have We set thee (O Muhammad) on a clear road of (Our) commandment; so follow it, and follow not the whims of those who know not. (45:18)The attacks on Gaza are an effort to suppress the ongoing Islamic Renaissance. It is essentially a U.S. backed, covertly funded coup with the intent of destroying the will of the Palestinian population and imposing on them a Mahmoud Abbas led Fatah party that is corrupt and un-Islamic and that has allied with the West in the War on Islam. Intervention will not squash Hamas militarily but may succeed to do so politically. Israel and the U.S. would be just as content to witness Fatah control the Gaza bank for numerous reasons. BG Group Plc, discovered $4 billion of natural gas off the Gaza coast in 2007 and have been transferring funds to Abbas’s Palestinian Authority. The PA signed a deal that would give only 10% of the profits to them and in turn allow them through corruption to create the type of cronyism Palestine has always witnessed organized under secularism. “The military operation is to squash the citizenry and the public relations campaign that will wrap up the attacks in the coming days will prove remarkable and document the distorted morality of the mainstream press. The chess pieces are in place for a grand finale that will usher in the Obama Administration in memorable fashion, possibly erase the memory of the Gaza attacks, restore Israel’s reputation, replace Hamas in Gaza, and make Mubarak and kufr in Egypt all the more stronger.
The U.S., Israeli, Arab Apostate conspirators have been planning this excursion since Hamas removed Muhammad Dahlan’s CIA backed, covert militia from Gaza in mid-2007 and they have a clear deliberate outcome in mind. In September 2008, the US Congress approved a plan to sell Israel 1,000 bunker-buster bombs, of the Guided Bomb Unit-39 (GBU-39), thus assisting in Israeli preparations. On December 31 just two days after Israel launched its current offensive against Hamas, US Military Sealift Command issued a solicitation to ship ammunition from Greece to the Israeli port of Ashod. Meanwhile, Egypt brutally prevented the border between it and Gaza from being opened. Since the attacks on Gaza began, humanitarian aid from across the Arab and Islamic world has been flown into the city of Al-Arish, 40 km west of Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip. But Egyptian authorities are preventing the transportation of food and medicine into the besieged territory. NBC anchorwoman Andrea Mitchell said Sunday on Meet the Press that US military officers from the Corps of Engineers had been stationed on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing in order to prevent "arms smuggling from illegal tunnels" by Palestinian fighters. These tunnels are also the only means of transporting fuel, medicine, and food as well. Egypt says it cannot reopen the Rafah crossing, the sole transit point along its roughly 14-kilometre border with the Gaza Strip, in the absence of Palestinian Authority (PA) officials and EU observers, under a 2005 security agreement. Israel has thereby been given the go ahead for collective and genocidal punishment. The US Senate on Thursday passed a non-binding resolution promoted by the influential Israeli lobby AIPAC, effectively endorsing Israel’s war on Gaza. The resolution recognizes “the right of Israel to defend itself against attacks from Gaza” and reaffirms “the United States’ strong support for Israel in its battle with Hamas”. The statement recognizes no right of Gazans to resist occupation or defend themselves from targeted attacks. It also makes no mention of the atrocities aforementioned and it totally blames Hamas. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council voted on a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire but the U.S. expectedly abstained, claiming that they were waiting for the outcome of an Egypt-brokered mediation and giving the Israelis the go-ahead to continue attacking.
There will be peace but the covert-op is far from fulfillment and the propaganda campaign to follow may prove worse indeed.Hosni Mubarek claimed that Hamas, “must not be allowed to emerge from the fighting with the upper hand,” and the Israelis are publicizing him as the key to peace. Abbas is set to have talks with him over the next few days and will be subsequently portrayed as helping to broker a peace deal. Germany and France have also sent delegates and Israel is in communication as well. With Barack Obama ready to assume the presidential role in the next 10 days, what one can expect from this point forward is a plotted and planned propaganda campaign. The war will continue until directly before Obama takes reign. Abbas, whose presidential term actually ended on Friday pledged his allegiance claiming, "We demand democracy, we defend democracy and therefore whenever there is Palestinian reconciliation there will be legislative and presidential elections, together, at the same time," paving the way for rigged elections that will give Fatah complete control after all is over. The peace deal will be brokered by Mubarak, with Israel and Abbas. Diplomats are already working on a plan which would place Fatah over the Gaza Strip and send in international forces. Expect the final deal to be completed and publicized sometime over the next few days.Thereafter Barack Obama who hid behind his statement that there can only be one president at a time during the initial onslaught, can come in after inauguration and proclaim his desire to bring peace to the Middle East and moderate the region. In December he pledged his commitment to speak in the Muslim world after taking the position claiming it offered “a unique opportunity to reboot America’s image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular.”Obama said he would convey a message of no-tolerance toward terrorism, while emphasizing the values America wants to share with the world. This speech will take place in Cairo, Egypt immediately after his election and the War on Islam will continue as the West struggles onward trying to prevent the resurrection of the greatest ideology the world has ever known. People will trust him, accredit him for playing a role in the peace process, and speculate about his ability to bring “stability” to the Muslim world. In reality, this will all be hogwash and is actually only an attempt to do what America has done for decades now, usurp democratically elected and populist regimes and replace them with authoritarian and brutal dictatorships, thus placing wealth in the hands of an elite entirely loyal to U.S. interests. Obama typifies this mentality. When he said, "If missiles were falling where my two daughters sleep, I would do everything in order to stop that", he failed to consider that the statement also applied to Palestinians. He is either incredibly pliable and controlled by forces he is too ignorant to recognize or is entirely aware and is content with being a party in the planned conclusion to this charade. The plan is to deceive the mass populations the same way they’ve been doing for countless years. It is propaganda in its finest, blared over the radio, print, and television screens all over the world. The ultimate, long-term consequence of the Obama regime will be a friendly fascism the world has never known, a corporatist renovation of international architecture actually planned from the shadows by power unseen. Take, for example, the statements of Henry Kissinger on CNBC recently. He said, "The president-elect is coming into office at a moment when there is upheaval in many parts of the world simultaneously. You have India, Pakistan; you have the jihadist movement. So he can't really say there is one problem, that it's the most important one. But he can give new impetus to American foreign policy partly because the reception of him is so extraordinary around the world. His task will be to develop an overall strategy for America in this period when, really, a new world order can be created. It's a great opportunity, it isn't just a crisis." Indeed created crisis pose big opportunities for the powerful that create them and the attacks on Gaza are part and parcel of a much larger master plan. Still, Allah (SWT) says
Do not give up and do not be downhearted. You shall be uppermost if you are believers. (3:139)
Most of the Muslim world will discontinue protesting and working against the War on Islam after this wondrous display of public relations. They will soon forget the plight of the men, women, and children of Gaza. And it is because they are not firmly grounded in an accurate understanding of the Islamic religion, which leads one toward self sacrifice for the greater good, toward justice and fair treatment, toward courageously working to establish Islam in the land. However, many will continue on striving for the Islamic State, seeking to counter the false peace promoted by those that reject the fact that “the only religion in the sight of Allah is Islam (3:19)” In the event that resistance continues and the protests turn into a call for the revival of Islam all of the pessimism associated with the aforementioned can be erased. Mubarak can be overthrown, a Muslim government can exist in Egypt, the U.S. will finally be removed, millions of Egyptians can pour into Gaza, open the border, treat the wounded, defend the land. The Islamic banner of La ilaha il Allah can be raised from Afghanistan to Africa. Regimes propped up by Western aid and influence can be overturned, the Islamic revolution could spread to the Persian Gulf and take the natural resources from the Kings and give them to the people, the dollar would be destroyed, the dinar and dhiram would become the currency of choice,. Barak Obama’s infrastructure plan would be scrapped, America would lose its hegemonic role on the international stage and Muslims returning to their religion would rule by Islam justly and the world would be a better place. There is no justice for the powerless in the international arena. If there were, Israel and the US would be tried daily for violating Justice Robert H. Jackson's words from the Nuremberg Trials that "to initiate a war of aggression...is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Those expecting international laws and institutions to pose solutions are sadly mistaken and stuck in empty and irrational ideologies. The notion that secular law is equitable and accessible to the powerful and powerless alike is propaganda. Gaza is one example on a long list. No ideology like the complete system that is Islam offers alternatives to the present order. Indeed it truly is the only solution. Khaled Meshaal, political leader of Hamas, spoke over Gazan television on Saturday and recommended that after Israel fails militarily, “we need more stern resistance in Gaza and we need more fierce protests in the Arab and Islamic world and the international community to achieve victory for the people of Gaza. We need a third 'Intifada' in the West Bank and a revolution in the Arab, Islamic world until the enemy withdraws from Gaza, the siege is lifted and the border crossings are opened.” Oh Muslims, Allah (SWT) has said that, Whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted from him and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers (3:85) Another verse states, “This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion" (5:3) Islam is much more than just a religion, it is an all-encompassing way of life. Everything is covered in the Quran. We invite all to understand it and become one of those dedicated to seeing the revival of Islam spread throughout the land. May Allah make us,
Those who, if We establish them firmly on the earth, will perform the prayer and give the alms, and command what is right and forbid what is wrong. The end result of all affairs is with Allah. (Surat al Hajj, 41)
WE ASK HIM TO GUIDE US AND TO HAVE MERCY ON US ALL, MAKE DUA FOR THE MUJAHIDEEN!!!
AMMAN, Jordan -- For more than 20 years, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then the Vatican's top doctrinal czar, was the intellectual architect of the papacy of John Paul II.
Thus, when Ratzinger was elected to succeed John Paul as Pope Benedict XVI in April 2005, it was widely seen as a vote for continuity with the late pontiff's policies.
Four years later, there's only one strong substantive difference between the two popes, and it's on display this week as Benedict XVI visits Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories: their approaches to Islam.
With 1.1 billion Roman Catholics and 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, representing about 40 percent of the world's population, it's a difference that matters.
While John Paul II was a bridge-builder, Benedict is determined to walk across those bridges, pushing Islam toward a rejection of extremism and an acceptance of religious freedom -- toward an integration of reason and faith.
It's an approach that puts its finger on critically important concerns, but one also fraught with potential for conflict.
In general, John Paul II was a great pioneer of Catholic-Muslim relations. He met with Muslims more than 60 times over the course of his almost 27-year pontificate, and in 2001 he became the first pope ever to enter an Islamic mosque: the Grand Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria.
John Paul's opposition to the two U.S.-led Gulf Wars and his broad sympathy for the Palestinians was also appreciated by many Muslims.
Like John Paul, Benedict XVI sees himself as a friend of Islam. Friday in Amman, Jordan, on the first day of his weeklong swing through the Middle East, Benedict reaffirmed his "deep respect for Muslims."
His broad vision is what he calls growing "intercultural dialogue" between Muslims and Christians, which implies an alliance against forms of secularism in the West that the pope regards as hostile to religion.
The fact that Benedict XVI has chosen to begin his tour by spending three days in Jordan, which the Vatican has long regarded as a model of Muslim-Christian co-existence, suggests the emphasis he places on Islam. When John Paul came in 2000, he spent just 24 hours here. Watch a walk through Amman for everday Jordanians' reactions to the visit »
Among other things, Benedict hopes Christians and Muslims will join forces in defense of shared values such as the sanctity of human life and the family, which can translate into political efforts in opposition to abortion and homosexuality.
The precedent was set in the mid-1990s, when the Vatican and a bloc of Muslim nations resisted efforts at U.N.-sponsored conferences in Beijing and Cairo to recognize a right to abortion as part of international law.
Yet the price of admission to that partnership, Benedict XVI believes, is a reform within Islam that would move it in the direction of a greater capacity for pluralism, including the rights of religious minorities, especially Christians, within Islamic societies.
Saturday, for example, Benedict visited the King Hussein mosque in Amman, telling his Muslim hosts that religious freedom "includes the right, especially of minorities, to fair access to the employment market and other spheres of civic life."
Benedict also argued that much tension between Christians and Muslims is the result of "ideological manipulation of religion, sometimes for political ends," and pointed to what he called "the fundamental contradiction of resorting to violence or exclusion in the name of God."
To date, Benedict XVI's efforts to convince Muslims that he's advancing these arguments as a friend, from a shared space of common religious concern, have brought mixed results.
His famous September 2006 speech in Regensburg, Germany, in which he cited a Byzantine emperor linking Islam to violence, set off wide protests across the Islamic world.
Here in Jordan, some leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood have turned a cold shoulder to the pope's visit, insisting that he must apologize anew for the Regensburg address.
In effect, one core aim of Benedict XVI's journey this week is to re-introduce himself to the Muslim world, clearing away the debris from what he conceded this morning is "the burden of our common history."
The drama is whether this 82-year-old pontiff, who has sometimes had his problems with public relations, is able to pull it off.
A 29-page Arabic-language book entitled Sharpening the Blades in the Battle Against the Government and Army of Pakistan was released by al-Fajr Media Center on April 30. The author is Abu Yahya al-Libi, a leading al-Qaeda ideologue and Pakistan-based member of al-Qaeda’s core leadership.
Most of Abu Yahya’s work is dedicated to vilification of Pakistan’s security services, and condemning the army, intelligence agencies and police as collaborators in “the non-believer alliance that is waging war on the religion of Islam”, saying “They have established military bases and private air spaces for the various types of aircrafts of the disbelievers. They have facilitated and protected their supply lines and set up prisons to detain the monotheist believers…There is no doubt after this that this criminal army is an accomplice to the Christian armies in the crimes they carry out. They are their accomplices, and the punishment will be jihad against them.”
Abu Yahya calls on scholars of religion to promote jihad in preparation for a decisive battle against the disbelievers. “This is an invitation for the virtuous scholars of Pakistan and their righteous proselytizers to recognize the responsibility they have in inciting the believers to fight, and that the day of epic and dire meeting is coming, regardless of how hard we try to postpone or avoid it.”
The al-Qaeda leader outlines three reasons to fight the Pakistani military and “the rest of the institutions that are considered the pillars of their tyranny”:
1. Islamic scholars are agreed that non-believing rulers must be removed from power. “The non-believer (whether he is a non-believer to begin with or an apostate) is an object of humiliation and contempt, inferiority and lowliness.” Abu Yahya insists that Salafists have always taken the lead in preventing non-believers from assuming power in Muslim communities. Abu Yahya takes care to present the arguments made by famous religious scholars in support of overthrowing non-believers, relying heavily on the works of Hanafi scholars (the dominant school of Islamic jurisprudence in Pakistan) such as Abu Bakr al-Jassas al-Hanafi (d.961), Imam Ja’afar Al-Tahawi (d.935) and Ali ibn Sultan al-Qari (d.1605).
According to Abu Yahya, the president of Pakistan is just another in the line of non-believers, arguing, “If Muslims in Pakistan are ordered by the Shari’a to remove those non-believing and corrupt rulers, it will be achieved only through fighting their army and intelligence services that defend and protect them, strengthen their power, stand in the path of Muslims, and prevent them from fulfilling their duty.” Abu Yahya dismisses the idea that the army provides collective security to the Muslim community and should not be fought as contradictory. “How would [Shari’a] order us to disavow a non-believer’s rule over us and at the same time forbid us from that because the non-believing ruler’s group that defends him pretends to be Muslim, or is Muslim?” Abu Yahya notes the Pakistani armed forces are a volunteer force and thus their members are legitimate targets for the mujahideen.
2. The Pakistan Army rejects Islamic law. Abu Yahya says the army and intelligence services do not abide by most Islamic teachings and use all their power to prevent the implementation of Shari’a.
Abu Yahya makes numerous appeals for believers to attack NATO supply lines running through Pakistan. “[The government] opened the doors of supplies to the occupying enemy so that now more than 80 percent of its military, logistics and other supplies come through Pakistan, under the protection of the Pakistani army… These forces guarded their convoys, military bases, and secret prisons, and were used to pursue the mujahideen wherever they are- directly handing them over to Christian America to violate their honor and desecrate the book of God before their eyes to spite them.”
3. The Pakistan Army is an enemy that assaults Islam and must be fought. Abu Yahya accuses the military and the security services of Pakistan of invading homes, demolishing houses and torturing men and women. “It is needless to wait for them to launch a new assault. I want to emphasize that it is imperative for people to be compelled to fight these sects [i.e. the security services]. The fight is not limited to Waziristan, Peshawar, Suhat or other places, but extends to every speck of Pakistani territory.” Abu Yahya sees no difference between the current situation and that encountered at the time of the “apostate communist Russian occupation of Afghanistan.” With Pakistani forces clearly allying themselves with the “Christian Crusaders and their helpers,” the al-Qaeda ideologue concludes there is no law that would prevent Muslims from fighting them.
Condemning the government’s decision to allow Shari’a rule in Swat, Abu Yahya insists this is nothing less than an admission that the rest of Pakistan is not ruled by Shari’a and that the armed forces were fighting Muslims in Swat with the intention of preventing the implementation of Islamic law. Pakistan’s army “was established and founded not to implement Shari’a, as they claim, but to prevent it; not to help those seeking to implement it, but to fight them and not remove non-Islamic rulers, but to strengthen them and fight with them.”
Pakistan is preparing for a humanitarian crisis as hundreds of thousands of people flee fighting between the Taliban and government troops in the country's northwest.
Residents were prevented by frequent curfews from joining those who had already fled as helicopter gunships blasted Taliban positions in the Swat valley on Saturday.
Sohail Rahman, Al Jazeera's correspondent reporting from Islamabad, said: "It's very difficult [to flee] because as soon as sporadic fighting occurs between the military and the Taliban then the curfew - unannounced - gets reimposed in that area."
The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and Pakistani officials say that about half a million people have been displaced in the last few days since the Pakistani government launched a major offensive against the Taliban.
Another 500,000 people had reportedly been displaced by sustained violence in the region over the last few months, bringing the total number of displaced people to a million.
Antonia Paradela, a spokeswoman for Unicef, the UN children's rights organisation, said aid agencies would need more funding to cope with the influx of refugees.
"We need urgently more funds - for example Unicef needs at least $10m to continue helping the previous group of displaced families, which is more than half a million people," she told Al Jazeera.
"We're talking now more than 200,000 - and more [are] on the move."
The crisis has been intensified by other aid groups halting their work in the face of the fighting.
"A week ago we had to suspend our services due to growing insecurity which has left large numbers of the population without the necessary medical care at a time of dire crisis," Chris Lockyear, the Doctors without Borders' head of mission in Pakistan, told Al Jazeera.
"We would like to go back ... but at the moment we are finding the security is not even allowing us to evacuate patients to safer areas for treatment," he said.
"The situation in Swat has been dire for a number of months now. Over the last 12 months our ambulance service has been used 1,300 times for critical cases.
"There are critical cases located in hospitals in private homes with doctors and other medical staff who are running out of supplies."
The fighting has prompted the abandonment of a peace deal, agreed in February, between the government and the Taliban.
The pact, brokered by Sufi Muhammad, a local religious leader, allowed for the enforcement of the Taliban's strict interpretation of sharia, or Islamic law, across Malakand division - which includes Swat valley - in return for peace.
The deal had been criticised both at home and abroad and its critics, especially in the US, have welcomed the government's offensive.
During a visit to Washington, Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan's president, pledged an all-out war against the Taliban fighters.
"This is an offensive - this is war. If they kill our soldiers, then we do the same," Zardari told America's PBS public television.
Zardari was in Washington for talks with Barack Obama, the US president, and Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president.
For his part, Obama pledged a "lasting commitment" to both Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the US is fighting Taliban forces.
'On the run'
Up to 15,000 members of the security forces have been deployed in Swat, located in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province (NWFP).
The military says it has killed scores of fighters and claims to be beating back the Taliban.
"They are on the run," the army said in a statement on Saturday.
A later statement said that helicopter gunships had attacked hideouts near Mingora, Swat's main town, and killed 15 fighters.
It said an estimated 30 to 40 more died in clashes in more than a half-dozen other locations.
People fleeing the area have also accused the military of killing civilians in its bombardment.
BAGHDAD -- Violence is on the rise in Iraq as American troops withdraw. A ground-level look at the handover provides one explanation: The Iraqi government is neglecting many of the successful counterinsurgency initiatives it is inheriting from the U.S. military.
In the Adhamiya neighborhood of Baghdad, once an Al Qaeda stronghold, contractor Hossam Hadi used to send 1,000 military-aged men out on U.S.-funded jobs to pick up trash and repair bullet-riddled store fronts. That work pacified potential troublemakers, but now he's down to 60 workers.
In Baghdad's Shaab district, residents say that when the constant patrols of U.S. troops gave way recently to Iraqis who manned static posts, kidnappings and robberies rose. And just south of the capital, a former Sunni insurgent hired by the U.S. to keep the peace says his 145 militiamen are angry because they've received only a month's pay since Baghdad took over their program in January.
Many Iraqis fear a security gap just as the U.S. military hands the reins to the Iraqi government. American soldiers are already fading from Iraq's streets ahead of this summer's deadline for the withdrawal of forces from Iraqi cities. The Iraqi government, meanwhile, has been slammed by dwindling oil receipts -- leaving it tens of billions of dollars short in its budget for security and other bills.
All that has coincided uncomfortably with a wave of attacks since late March. Iraqis worry that insurgents and sectarian militias may be regrouping and appraising an Iraqi force that lacks the money and will to replicate tactics the U.S. used to quell violence.
The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has promised recent budget cuts won't affect security. "The militias and the criminals believe there will be a security vacuum as the U.S. withdraws, and they're testing the Iraqi forces," said government spokesman Tahseen Sheikhly. "But we will show them."
The U.S. counterinsurgency strategy, implemented by Gen. David H. Petraeus in early 2007, called for soldiers to live in bases among the population and run constant foot patrols. It also called for reconciliation with enemies who were willing to negotiate, and encouraged buttressing the economy with jobs for locals.
U.S. officials say job-creation programs like the one Hadi oversaw in Adhamiya yielded big counterinsurgency gains. Many are now being abandoned.
MINGORA, Pakistan — Pakistan's army vowed to eliminate militants from a northwestern valley but warned that its under-equipped troops face thousands of Taliban extremists who have seized towns, planted bombs made from pressure cookers, and dragooned children to be suicide bombers.
As air force jets roared overhead and gunbattles raged, terrified civilians from the Swat Valley and neighboring districts accelerated their exodus, with U.N. and Pakistani officials predicting 1 million refugees will soon burden the turbulent Afghan border region.
The army formally announced Friday that an offensive was under way. It has drawn praise from U.S. officials alarmed at the Taliban's recent advance to within 60 miles of the capital, Islamabad.
Washington describes the militants as an existential threat to nuclear-armed Pakistan itself, as well as to U.S. chances of destroying Al Qaeda or of winning the war against their insurgent allies in neighboring Afghanistan.
"The army is now engaged in a full-scale operation to eliminate the militants, miscreants and anti-state elements from Swat," said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, chief army spokesman. "They are on the run and trying to block the exodus of civilians from the area."
There are doubts about the ability and resolve of the army and the government to sustain the kind of grinding counterinsurgency warfare needed to defeat extremists whose rhetoric resonates widely in a Muslim nation deeply skeptical of U.S. goals in the region.
Abbas sought to counter portrayals of the military as ill-trained, saying that they had learned a lot in eight years of fighting along the border. But he said they need helicopters, surveillance drones and night-vision equipment, which the U.S. is scrambling to provide.
Pakistan's army is fighting to wrest Swat and two neighboring districts from militants who dominate the adjoining tribal belt along the Afghan frontier, where U.S. officials say Al Qaeda chief Usama bin Laden is likely holed up.
The army announced its offensive after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said the government would wipe out groups trying to "take Pakistan hostage at gunpoint." Battles and bombing runs by helicopters and jets have been going on all week.
Abbas said Friday that more than 140 militants and two soldiers had been killed in Swat in the last 24 hours — roughly doubling the number of casualties reported so far.
The latest figure included 100 militants killed in bombardments of remote training camps and arms dumps. Abbas didn't explain how the body count was done. Fighting in neighboring Buner and Lower Dir killed another 31 militants and three soldiers, he said.
Officials say they are unable to confirm accounts from fleeing civilians of innocents killed and wounded by indiscriminate gunfire and shelling. Abbas said troops were advancing slowly to try to minimize such collateral damage.
But the stream of civilians seeking safety appeared to have intensified, leaving Pakistan facing a humanitarian emergency.
The mayor of Mardan, the main district to the south of the fighting, said an estimated 250,000 people had fled in recent days. Of those, 4,500 were staying in camps, while the rest were with relatives or rented accommodation, he said.
On Friday, the U.N. refugee agency said provincial officials had told them 500,000 had fled, were on the move, or were trying to flee. About a half-million have already been made homeless elsewhere in the border region since August 2008, when the army launched its last major anti-Taliban operation in the Bajur border region.
Tens of thousands of people are trapped in Mingora, Swat's main town. Some have accused the Taliban of not allowing them to leave, perhaps because they want to use them as human shields. Others came under attack even as they fled.
Taliban militants seized much of the area under a peace deal, even after the government agreed to their main demand to impose Islamic law in the region.
U.S. officials likened the deal to a surrender. Pakistani leaders said the agreement's collapse had opened the eyes of ordinary citizens to the extremist threat.
Abbas wouldn't say how long it would take to clear the valley of 4,000 or 5,000 militants, including small numbers of foreigners — Tajiks and Uzbeks — as well as Punjabi extremists and tough Waziri fighters.
He said the military was reinforcing the 12,000 to 15,000 troops already in Swat. He gave no details, but he predicted a tough fight against militants who exploited the peace deal to regroup, descend from mountain hideouts and seize most of Swat's towns.
The troops faced guerrilla tactics, including remotely detonated homemade bombs made of explosives, steel pellets and nails packed into pressure cookers, Abbas said. Mines have been laid in Mingora.
Insurgents had forcibly recruited young boys from poor families in Swat, and sent some of them to train as suicide bombers in the South Waziristan tribal region, he said.
"We have seen with the capture of Mingora that the initiative has been taken by the militants," said Nasim Zehra, a fellow of Harvard University's Asia Center and a prominent Pakistani security analyst. "It's obviously an operation that is going to take weeks, or more."
By Ambrose Evans-PritchardLast Updated: 1:13PM BST 07 May 2009
Comments"A policy mistake made by some major central bank may bring inflation risks to the whole world," said the People's Central Bank in its quarterly report.
"As more and more economies are adopting unconventional monetary policies, such as quantitative easing (QE), major currencies' devaluation risks may rise," it said. The bank fears a "big consolidation" in the bond markets, clearly anxious that interest yields will surge as western states try to exit their QE experiment.
Simon Derrick, currency chief at the Bank of New York Mellon, said the report is the latest sign that China is losing patience with the US and aims to diversify part its $1.95 trillion (£1.3 trillion) foreign reserves away from US Treasuries and other dollar securities.
"There is a significant shift taking place in China. They are concerned about the stability of the global financial system so they are not going to sell US bonds they already have. But they are still accumulating $40bn of fresh reserves each month, and they are going to be much more careful where they invest it," he said.
Hans Redeker, head of currencies at BNP Paribas, said China is switching into hard assets. "They want to buy production rights to raw materials and gain access to resources such as oil, water, and metals. They know they can't keep buying bonds," he said
Premier Wen Jiabao left no doubt at the Communist Party summit in March that China is irked by Washington's response to the credit crunch, suspecting that the US is engaging in a stealth default on its debt by driving down the dollar. "We have lent a massive amount of capital to the United States, and of course we are concerned about the security of our assets. To speak truthfully, I do indeed have some worries," he said.
Days later, the central bank chief wrote a paper suggesting a world currency based on Special Drawing Rights issued by the International Monetary Fund.
Some economists say China is suffering from "cognitive dissonance" by anguishing so much over its reserves, accumulated as a result of its own policy of holding down the yuan to promote exports. Quantitative easing by the US Federal Reserve and fellow central banks may have saved China as well, since the country's growth strategy is built on selling goods to the West.
China's fears of imported inflation may reflect its concerns about over-heating. The M2 money supply rose 25pc in March on a year earlier, and there has been explosive credit growth since the government relaxed loan restraints. There are concerns that the stimulus is leaking into a new asset bubble rather than promoting job growth. The Shanghai bourse is up over 50pc since November
This is a major increase from the $400 million set aside for this purpose in the current fiscal year which expires on Sept. 30.
This marks the first time since 2003 that the Afghan war funding surpassed the outlay for Iraq. The Pentagon is seeking $130 billion in war funds for 2010, including $65 billion for Afghanistan and $61 billion for Iraq. For 2009, the Pentagon had request $87 billion for Iraq and $47 billion for Afghanistan.
The move demonstrates a shift in US priorities as the Obama administration increases its focus on fighting the militants it holds responsible for planning and executing the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
The proposed fund for Afghanistan covers the deployment of 21,000 additional US troops this year, raising the total to 68,000. More funds would be required if President Obama decides to meet the request of US commanders for 10,000 more troops next year.
The Pentagon’s $534 billion base budget is $21 billion, or four per cent, larger than last year’s. It includes key initiatives to reshape the US military to fight insurgencies across the world.
Major spending increases include $2 billion on intelligence and reconnaissance, $500 million to field and maintain helicopters, and funds to add 2,400 personnel to Special Operations Forces in 2010 as well as aircraft to support them. More will be spent on some modern weapons systems, with an increase in the purchase of littoral combat ships and the ‘fifth generation’ F-35 fighter jets.
The 2010 Pentagon eliminates $8.8 billion in weapons programmes that were in the 2009 budget. It would halt the programme for the F-22 fighter jet after 187 are manufactured.
Other major cuts include ending the $13 billion presidential helicopter programme, which has more than doubled in cost; the $19 billion transformational satellite programme; and the Air Force combat search-and-rescue helicopter programme, as well as cutting $1.2 billion from missile defence.
May 08 2009 "The Independent" -- "Herat"
-- Shouting "Death to America" and "Death to the Government", thousands of Afghan villagers hurled stones at police yesterday as they vented their fury at American air strikes that local officials claim killed 147 civilians.The riot started when people from three villages struck by US bombers in the early hours of Tuesday, brought 15 newly-discovered bodies in a truck to the house of the provincial governor. As the crowd pressed forward in Farah, police opened fire, wounding four protesters. Traders in the rest of Farah city, the capital of the province of the same name where the bombing took place, closed their shops, vowing they would not reopen them until there is an investigation.A local official Abdul Basir Khan said yesterday that he had collected the names of 147 people who had died, making it the worst such incident since the US intervened in Afghanistan started in 2001. A phone call from the governor of Farah province, Rohul Amin, in which he said that 130 people had died, was played over the loudspeaker in the Afghan parliament in Kabul, sparking demands for more control over US operations.The protest in Farah City is the latest sign of a strong Afghan reaction against US air attacks in which explosions inflict massive damage on mud-brick houses that provide little protection against bomb blasts. A claim by American officials, which was repeated by the US Defence Secretary Robert Gates yesterday in Kabul, that the Taliban might have killed people with grenades because they did not pay an opium tax is not supported by any eyewitnesses and is disproved by pictures of deep bomb craters, one of which is filled with water. Mr Gates expressed regret for the incident but did not go so far as to accept blame.The US admits that it did conduct an air strike at the time and place, but it is becoming clear, going by the account of survivors, that the air raid was not a brief attack by several aircraft acting on mistaken intelligence, but a sustained bombardment in which three villages were pounded to pieces. Farouq Faizy, an Afghan radio reporter who was one of the first to reach the district of Bala Baluk, says villagers told him that bombs suddenly, "began to fall at 8pm on Monday and went on until 10pm though some believe there were still bombs falling later". A prolonged bombing attack would explain why there are so many dead, but only 14 wounded received at Farah City hospital.The attack was on three villages – Gerani, Gangabad and Koujaha – just off the main road. It is a poppy growing area of poor farmers and there were several fields of poppies near the villages. The Taliban are traditionally strong here and the police and soldiers waiting around the villages were said by eyewitnesses to be frightened. This would explain why Afghan army commanders might have been eager to call for US airstrikes, though they would have needed the agreement of American special operations officers.Provincial officials, including the governor Rohul Amin, say that in the lead-up to the bombing there was heavy fighting between hundreds of Taliban and the Afghan Army and police. Going by Mr Faizy's account there had been, "a fight some seven or eight kilometres from the three villages in which two Afghan Army and a US Humvee were destroyed. A third Afghan Army vehicle was captured." Three police were killed and four wounded, as was one American and one Afghan army soldier. This was hardly a major military engagement, but the pro-government forces seem to have got the worst of it and their burned out vehicles still stand in the road.The loss of life in Afghanistan from air strikes is often worse than in Iraq where houses are more modern and usually have basements. In the villages in Farah, people were living in compounds with mud brick walls which crumbled easily. Pictures of the aftermath of the attack show people standing beside the remains of a relative which often only looks like a muddy pile of torn meat. One elderly white bearded man, said by neighbours to have lost 30 members of his family, squats despairingly beside a body that has been torn into shreds. Among the few wounded to stay alive is a child with a badly burned face.One reason why US bombing inflicts such heavy civilian casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq is that both are very poor countries in which houses are very crowded. When the US used air strikes and heavy artillery with little restraint in the siege of Fallujah in 2004 it caused serious loss of life. Wedding parties in both countries have often been mistaken for "terrorist" gatherings and bombed.In Afghanistan opinion polls show that support for the Taliban and for armed attacks on foreign forces rises sharply after events like the bombing in Farah. President Hamid Karzai frequently criticises the US military for wantonly inflicting civilian casualties, attacks which his opponents say is an opportunistic effort to burnish his nationalist credentials.The Taliban increasingly use tactics developed by insurgents in Iraq, notably suicide bombing on a mass scale and IEDs, or mines in the road detonated by a control wires or electronically. In Helmand province yesterday a suicide bomber killed 12 civilians in an attack on a foreign military convoy near the bazaar of the town of Gereshk. No foreign troops were killed by the explosion, though two were wounded
Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 12May 8, 2009 03:44 PM Age: 9 hrsCategory: Global Terrorism Analysis, Home Page, Military/Security, Middle East, Terrorism, Terrorism Monitor By: Babak Rahimi
These are challenging times for Nuri al-Maliki. Despite the victory of his coalition, the Dawlat al-Qanun (State of Law) in the provincial elections, al-Maliki's government is facing major security threats and political unrest that could undermine his political authority before December’s general elections.
On the security front, Iraq has seen an outburst of violence with a series of at least 18 attacks in April. The twin bombing in the Shi’a shrine-city of Kazemayn was the deadliest of all, adding 60 people to a death toll of more than 150 in merely a week (al-Jazeera, April 24; Etemad, April 26). The recent string of attacks is reminiscent of the February 2006 Samarra shrine bombings that unleashed a wave of sectarian hostilities, bringing the country to the brink of civil war. With responsibility for the attacks being claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq—a coalition of Sunni militants with many foreign fighters—it may well be that a new wave of sectarian violence is about to overtake Iraq (al-Arabiya, April 24).
However, the insurgents’ strategy for carrying out the attacks is mostly political rather than sectarian. The violent incidents, mostly targeted at the Shi’a (including a failed attempt to assassinate Ayatollah Sistani), have also included attacks on members of the Awakening Council, a coalition of Sunni tribes receiving money from the government for fighting against al-Qaeda insurgents (Tabnak [Tehran], April 27; al-Jazeera, April 7, April 11). The Sunni insurgency also continues its assault against U.S. forces, which under the terms of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) are required to withdraw from Iraq by the end of 2011. The first phase of the withdrawal from Iraqi cities is scheduled to be completed by June 30, 2009 (Tabnak, April 22). All in all, the attacks signal an all-out military assault by the insurgency to weaken the state ahead of the U.S. withdrawal.
On the political front, al-Maliki faces two other major challenges. The first is the rise of a loose coalition of pro-federalist and Sunni factions, known as the "153" bloc, which seeks to reverse al-Maliki's political gains in the January provincial elections. The bloc challenges al-Maliki’s centralist policies which, according to some, recall the days of Ba’athist rule (Etemad, April 21). The election of the new speaker of parliament Iyad Samarrai, a major figure in the Sunni Islamic Party of Iraq with the backing of the pro-federalist Kurdish and ISCI (Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) parties underlines the successful coalition-building which the anti-Maliki factions have carried out in recent weeks (Etemad, April 21).
Although much of their success should be credited to Maliki's own failure to muster enough support after his provincial election victory, the 153 bloc was primarily formed in response to Baghdad's increasing centralization policies, seen as a major threat by pro-federalist Kurds and the ISCI. The political struggle between the pro-federalist and centralist factions, which includes diverse groups like the secular Iraqiyya and the Shiite Sadrists, should also be viewed in parallel with al-Maliki's attempt to limit the activities of the Awakening movement by arresting some of its leaders and fighters under the pretext that al-Qaeda has infiltrated the Sunni group (Azzaman, April 3; al-Jazeera, April 6). Al-Maliki's anti-Awakening strategy has angered many Sunni members of parliament, who see this move as another attempt by the government to monopolize power (Azzaman, April 9).
More important opposition has come from al-Maliki’s own Shi’a constituency, groups that see his softer stance on Ba’athism as a sign of appeasement that will allow a revival of Sunni power (Etemad, April 21). Many Shi’a factions objected to al-Maliki's earlier attempts to include the Ba’athists in the national reconciliation project. Even Ayatollah Sistani, a major backer of al-Maliki's government, has indirectly criticized the Prime Minister for his failure to denounce Ba’athism (Tabnak, March 30). It is this opposition that has recently forced al-Maliki to shift his position and wage a new set of verbal attacks against the Ba’athists, accusing them of masterminding the latest string of violence (IRNA, April 8, 27).
Finally, there is Washington, where the new Obama administration has been less focused on Iraq due to its preoccupation with domestic concerns and an increase in security since late last year. The new administration's perceived lack of involvement in Iraq has opened the political field in Baghdad to new contenders from many sides and factions, who perceive al-Maliki's political power as being in jeopardy with the much anticipated departure of U.S. troops.
One positive observation can be made here. The unfolding political rivalry could open up a new chapter for the post-Ba’athist era—the formation of an autonomous Iraqi government that would need to undergo self-adjustment through internal conflict and cross-sectarian alliances between factions seeking to gain influence over the constituencies they represent. As a transitional stage in Iraq's democratization (and a move away from sectarian politics), the latest political turmoil, therefore, should not be seen as a setback for Iraq, but as progress toward non-sectarian party politics.
The problem of security on the ground, however, could render such a transition incomplete. In the coming months leading to the elections, the key for al-Maliki’s regime is to contain the bloodshed by showing the government’s military strength against the insurgency while bringing to his side both pro-Awakening Sunni and pro-Sadr Shi’a factions that maintain considerable support in the eastern and south-central provinces. Amidst the unrest on the ground, the anti-Maliki parliamentary factions could continue to keep al-Maliki in check in order to curtail the total centralization of power prompted by an obvious response to concerns over security ahead of the American withdrawal. Of course, the success of such political tactics would depend on whether al-Maliki could maintain reasonable distance from Washington and appear self-reliant to Iraqis, who overwhelmingly support the U.S. withdrawal (al-Jazeera, April 10).
President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's government is struggling against a powerful insurgency and trying to woo other rebels over to his administration, seen by many as the best hope to restore peace after 18 years of war.
Al Shabaab fighters and those of an Islamist group loyal to the government exchanged mortar and anti-aircraft fire late on Thursday along an industrial road in the Somali capital, residents said.
"The stubborn opposition attacked our fighters and the government soldiers on our side," Sheikh Abdirahim Isse Adow, a spokesman for the pro-government Islamic Courts Union, told Reuters by telephone.
"We killed eight of them and injured 30 others in one spot. I am sure more died. We also captured an anti-aircraft missile mounted on a battle wagon from them. From our side, four died and six others were injured. Innocent civilians were also injured."
Al Shabaab officials were not available for comment.
Residents said they saw at least 16 bodies and hospital sources said 55 people were injured in the fighting.
"We have no hope of peace ... I have not seen battle wagons fighting in Mogadishu for years," said resident Halima Ali.
In another incident in central Somalia, al Shabaab captured 200 new recruits heading for police training in Mogadishu, a local official said.
"Al Shabaab disappeared with them into the jungle and blindfolded them. These recruits were not armed but I think they will not be killed," said Mohamed Barqadle, chairman of Buloburde district in the central region of Hiran.
Somalia, without an effective central government since 1991, has become synonymous with anarchy, and pickup trucks with machineguns mounted on the back are its signature image.
Thousands of people have been killed and one million displaced in fighting since Ethiopian troops ousted the Islamic Courts Union from Mogadishu in late 2006, making Somalia one of the world's worst humanitarian emergencies. (Reporting by Abdi Sheikh, Abdi Guled and Ibrahim Mohamed; Writing by Jack Kimball; Editing by Andrew Dobbie)
Washington; and Baghdad – The United States military has not yet been allowed to question what Iraqi officials describe as a top Al Qaeda leader in their custody and cannot confirm his identity, says General Ray Odierno, the top US general in Iraq.
“We have not yet had access to him to question him or ask him any questions so I can’t say that our intel can confirm it,” General Odierno told reporters at the Pentagon Friday. He said he expected that the Iraqi government would eventually turn the man they have identified as Abu Omar al-Baghdadi over to US authorities to interrogate.
Odierno noted that it was important that American officers be allowed to question the man themselves. He noted that Iraqis want to do a “thorough” investigation first.
In Baghdad, though, senior US military officials say they do not believe that a suspect in custody of Iraqi security forces is Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the leader of an Al Qaeda affiliated group whom the Iraqi government announced last month it had captured.
“I don’t think they do have him,” says a senior US official here, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said, however, that the arrest, in which a suspect was caught with six suicide vests, still demonstrated success by Iraqi security forces in their ability to capture insurgents.
“I don’t know who they have, but he was caught at a checkpoint with six suicide vests,” says a second senior US commander who also did not want to be identified by name speaking on the subject. He says Iraqi authorities have still not allowed American officials to see or question the suspect.
The Iraqi government last week produced a photograph of a man they identified as Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State in Iraq, a group affiliated with Al Qaeda.
US officials have consistently said they are uncertain whether the name refers to a specific person or is simply a commonly used pseudonym within the insurgency. US officials say the arrest of the man identified by the Iraqi government as Baghdadi appears to have had no discernible effect on the group’s operations. They maintain that overall, the effectiveness of insurgent attacks continues to decline despite a recent increase in the number of high-profile bombings in Baghdad.
The Islamic State in Iraq has claimed responsibility for some of the deadliest suicide bombings in Iraq. American military officials say that, despite an increase in April in suicide bomb and other attacks, they believe that the ability of Al Qaeda in Iraq and other groups to launch the type of complex attacks they have in the past has been severely degraded.
“The environment for their operations, their freedom of movement, their recruiting, the passive or active support for their efforts is all diminished and continues to diminish,” while the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces’ capability is increasing, says a third US official.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Steven Green was said by his lawyer to have gone 'mad'
Private Steven Green was found guilty of 16 counts of murder, rape and obstructing justice at a court in Kentucky.
Three other US soldiers were given life sentences for their part in the March 2006 atrocity.
Geeen confessed to the murders when army investigators were called to the scene the next day.
But the involvement of the others only came to light when stress counsellors talked to their squad several months later.
The chief prosecutor said the pressures of serving in Iraq and the tragic losses suffered by Green's unit there did not excuse his actions.
"The evidence in this case suggests the defendant was acting purposefully and intentionally with full knowledge of what he was doing," she told the jury.
She said Green and other soldiers changed their clothes and disguised their appearance to throw suspicion on insurgents.
They also burned the body of the 14-year-old girl, Abeer al Janabi, and their own clothes to destroy any evidence that might link them to the crime, she said.
Green's defence lawyer told the jury the stresses of war had cost him his sanity. "Madness. That's the only possible word," he said.
He pointed out Green had been diagnosed as having Combat Operational Stress Disorder three months before the attack.
He also contended the other soldiers involved, Privates James Barker and Paul Cortez, took advantage of his mental condition to carry it out.
The pair told the jury they raped Abeer while Green took her six-year-old sister and her mother and father to another room where he shot them dead.
After raping Abeer himself, Green placed a pillow over the girl's face and shot her three times with an AK-47.
Private Jesse Spielman also received a life sentence for raping the teenager and participating in the murders.
A fifth soldier, Private Bryan Howard, was given a 27-month jail sentence for acting as a lookout.
The jury heard the crime plot was hatched as the men drank whisky during a game of cards at the checkpoint south of Baghdad where they were based.
AMMAN, Jordan (CNN) -- Pope Benedict XVI arrived Friday in Jordan's capital city of Amman, embarking on a weeklong tour of the Middle East that will take him to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.
His Alitalia flight taxied down the runway with the Vatican and Jordanian flags flying on either side of the cockpit window.
Jordan's King Abdullah and Queen Rania led the welcoming ceremony, which included members of the royal family, political and religious leaders. Several cannons were fired as the pontiff walked down the red carpet and greeted members of the welcoming committee.
Pope Benedict XVI will deliver a speech at the airport.
It will be the first papal visit to some of Christianity's most holy places since Pope John Paul II made the pilgrimage in 2000.
While in Jordan, he will take part in several prayer services, visit the Al Hussein Ben Talal Mosque, and meet with Islamic scholars, diplomats and academics, according to Jordan's Petra News Agency. Watch the difference between two popes: the populist and the professor »
On Monday, the pope will fly from Amman to Tel Aviv to begin his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. He is scheduled to pay a courtesy visit to the grand mufti of Jerusalem and the two chief rabbis of Jerusalem.The pontiff will return to Rome next Friday.
The facts on single-payer healthcare, a key function of truly Islamic government
Essentially what was reported today is nothing more than a cold and calculative effort by the government to get one last bailout for the banks as stress stessed were revealed, but the policy is to save the debt-based consumerist system as it exists and so they are either deliberately or non-deliberately setting thmeselves up for absolute chaos in the long-term. There will be a burst with this stimulus but then the dollar may very well start a rapid decline and so we, inshallah, will keep you updated aqs the economic situation unfolds, but we implore you to understand economics as an essentia component of saving the world with Islam as all revolutions had certain economic components to their makeup. E-mail economics questions to email@example.com and we will respond appropriately.
Younus Abdullah Muhammad
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Afghanistan and Pakistan are making progress in efforts to combat violence in the region but without such co-operation "success is not achievable", the US envoy to the region has said.
Speaking after talks with influential US politicians, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, and Asif Ali Zardari, his Pakistani counterpart, Richard Holbrooke said the three nations would hold a second trilateral meeting after Afghan elections in August.
Zardari, for his part, said military operations against Taliban fighters in Swat in Pakistan's northwest would continue until "normalcy" returns to the area.
Thursday's meeting came as US congress drafted a multi-billion-dollar aid package to help combat instability in the region.
Karzai's visit to Washington has coincided with widespread anger in Afghanistan over the reported deaths of dozens of civilians in an alleged US raid on Monday in the western province of Farah.
Asked about the Farah deaths, Karzai said all US politicians had expressed regret and "emphasised the need for working out measures that will reduce and eliminate eventually the possibility of civilian casualties".
"It causes pain to Afghans, it is something we want to have addressed very, very seriously and in a manner that will soon end casualties to the Afghan people," he said. "All of the Senators who were present today were encouraged by the reality with which both presidents addressed the questions and summarized the challenge," Kerry told reporters. Karzai, who is to run for re-election in August, said the talks "brought us to the right light of mind on questions that we have together" and again pledged closer cooperation. Zardari said meeting senators who play a key role in overseeing US aid to Pakistan and Afghanistan "brings strength to the situation that we have and anything that brings strength is very good". Al Jazeera's James Bays in Washington said the meetings between Afghan and Pakistani leaders appeared to have gone well but that no specific policy pledges had been made. Obama praise Barack Obama, the US president, promised on Wednesday a "lasting commitment" to Afghanistan and Pakistan after holding talks with the two nations' leaders in Washington DC. He said the two countries, along with the US, shared a common goal of dismantling, disrupting and defeating al-Qaeda, the Taliban and its allies, and improving security in the neighbouring nations. "Our strategy reflects a fundamental truth, the future of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US are linked," Obama said. Obama praised both Karzai and Zardari as fully appreciating the "seriousness" of the situation in the region. However, he cautioned that people should expect more violence and more setbacks. Obama has pledged to deal with the situation in the two countries with a joint strategy that deploys about 20,000 more troops to Afghanistan to combat the rising threat from Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters and hand billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan.
John Kerry, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the two leaders for answering US politician's questions about the conflict, now in its seventh year in Afghanistan.
"All of the Senators who were present today were encouraged by the reality with which both presidents addressed the questions and summarized the challenge," Kerry told reporters.
Karzai, who is to run for re-election in August, said the talks "brought us to the right light of mind on questions that we have together" and again pledged closer cooperation.
Zardari said meeting senators who play a key role in overseeing US aid to Pakistan and Afghanistan "brings strength to the situation that we have and anything that brings strength is very good".
Al Jazeera's James Bays in Washington said the meetings between Afghan and Pakistani leaders appeared to have gone well but that no specific policy pledges had been made.
Barack Obama, the US president, promised on Wednesday a "lasting commitment" to Afghanistan and Pakistan after holding talks with the two nations' leaders in Washington DC. He said the two countries, along with the US, shared a common goal of dismantling, disrupting and defeating al-Qaeda, the Taliban and its allies, and improving security in the neighbouring nations. "Our strategy reflects a fundamental truth, the future of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US are linked," Obama said. Obama praised both Karzai and Zardari as fully appreciating the "seriousness" of the situation in the region. However, he cautioned that people should expect more violence and more setbacks. Obama has pledged to deal with the situation in the two countries with a joint strategy that deploys about 20,000 more troops to Afghanistan to combat the rising threat from Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters and hand billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan.
He said the two countries, along with the US, shared a common goal of dismantling, disrupting and defeating al-Qaeda, the Taliban and its allies, and improving security in the neighbouring nations.
"Our strategy reflects a fundamental truth, the future of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US are linked," Obama said.
Obama praised both Karzai and Zardari as fully appreciating the "seriousness" of the situation in the region.
However, he cautioned that people should expect more violence and more setbacks.
Obama has pledged to deal with the situation in the two countries with a joint strategy that deploys about 20,000 more troops to Afghanistan to combat the rising threat from Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters and hand billions of dollars in aid to Pakistan.
Pakistan has ordered its military to eliminate "terrorists" as air and ground troops continue to battle Taliban fighters in the country's northwest.
Attack helicopters and fighter jets bombarded suspected Taliban hideouts in the Swat valley on Thursday.
Swat is a part of the Malakand division of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).
Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, said military operations against extremists would last until "normalcy" returns to Swat.
"It is going to carry on until life in Swat comes back to normalcy," he said at the US Capitol after meeting influential senators.
Zardari's comments came after Yusuf Raza Gilani, his prime minister, urged Pakistanis to unite against extremists and support the military offensive against the Taliban.
The latest bout of fighting has all but extinguished a peace deal struck in February by the government with the Taliban fighters.
In his televised address on Thursday, Gilani accused the Taliban of threatening Pakistan's sovereignty and volating the peace deal with attacks.
That agreement, brokered by a local religious leader, sought to put three million Pakistanis in a wide region of the NWFP under sharia law, in exchange for an end to a nearly two-year Taliban uprising. "In order to restore honour and dignity of our homeland, and to protect people, the armed forces have been called to eliminate the militants and terrorists," Gilani said. "The time has come when the entire nation should side by side with the government and the armed forces against those who want to make the entire country hostage and darken our future at gunpoint. "It was agreed that militants would lay down arms ... but after the agreement violations continued. There were attacks on checkposts and... hundreds of thousands of people migrated from Swat as a result of militants' activities." Fighting surges The Pakistani military says it has killed more than 80 fighters in recent heavy fighting in Swat, Buner and Lower Dir, all part of Malakand. At the same time, to avoid getting caught in the crossfire, thousands of residents have fled the three districts for the safety of camps for internally displaced people (IDP). The army launched its major offensive on Wednesday, with reports of aerial support being used overnight into Thursday. Al Jazeera's Sohail Rahman, reporting from the national capital Islamabad, said: "The military offensive has continued overnight and into Thursday ... our producers on the ground say the curfew in the region has been lifted and will be reimposed at midnight [18:00 GMT]. "The roads are blocked and there is very little transport for those fleeing the fighting, so they have taken to the roads on foot to reach IDP camps." "We are also hearing reports of jet fighters being used - that will be the first time in this battle and, if true, it is a very worrying development." Kifayatullah, the eldest son of Sufi Muhammad, who brokered the February accord, was killed in a bombardment on Thursday in Lower Dir. Helicopter raids Describing the fighting on Thursday, a military official said helicopter raids preceded the ground incursion to retake a forested region in Swat where a number of mines are sited. "Security forces were being targeted from emerald mines. In retaliatory fire, 35 militants were killed," the military said in a statement on Wednesday. Another 49 pro-Taliban fighters were reportedly killed in Buner. Our correspondent reported that three Frontier Corps paramilitaries were killed in a Taliban assault on a checkpoint in Lower Dir. Eleven others were captured. The military spokesman said there were also reports of a number of civilian deaths. The government said it was preparing to shelter up to 500,000 refugees, while the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned of a mounting humanitarian crisis in the region. The ICRC said that they were marshalling aid to provide for 120,000 people, but could no longer reach the areas most affected by violence. Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, in Peshawar, the capital of NWFP, said: "We are getting reports that people desperate to get out of harm's way are now trying to run out of that area. Whatever transport they can get. "While [the military's] objective is to neutralise the Taliban, the civilians are caught in the middle. "The big question is how does the military expects to achieve its objective in a heavily populated area." Exodus from Mingora Khushhal Khan, the chief administration officer in Swat, said: "More than 40,000 have migrated from Mingora [Swat's main town] since Tuesday afternoon." Many told stories of their deprivation at the hands of the Taliban and government attacks. The Taliban said on Wednesday that it was still in control of 90 per cent of Swat. Muslim Khan, a Taliban spokesman, said: "If the government launches an operation against us, we will give them a fitting reply, which it will remember for a long time." Imtiaz Gul, head of the Centre for Research and Security Studies, a think-tank in Islamabad, told Al Jazeera: "This is a time when people in Pakistan realise this has now turned into a war on Pakistan and for Pakistan. "The Pakistani military is the key to winning this war ... There is quite a clear consensus within the Pakistani ruling elite that they need to act in unison, that they need to demonstrate to the world that they are sincere in this war against the militants, which are basically attacking the foundations of this country."
"In order to restore honour and dignity of our homeland, and to protect people, the armed forces have been called to eliminate the militants and terrorists," Gilani said.
"The time has come when the entire nation should side by side with the government and the armed forces against those who want to make the entire country hostage and darken our future at gunpoint.
"It was agreed that militants would lay down arms ... but after the agreement violations continued. There were attacks on checkposts and... hundreds of thousands of people migrated from Swat as a result of militants' activities."
The Pakistani military says it has killed more than 80 fighters in recent heavy fighting in Swat, Buner and Lower Dir, all part of Malakand.
At the same time, to avoid getting caught in the crossfire, thousands of residents have fled the three districts for the safety of camps for internally displaced people (IDP).
The army launched its major offensive on Wednesday, with reports of aerial support being used overnight into Thursday. Al Jazeera's Sohail Rahman, reporting from the national capital Islamabad, said: "The military offensive has continued overnight and into Thursday ... our producers on the ground say the curfew in the region has been lifted and will be reimposed at midnight [18:00 GMT]. "The roads are blocked and there is very little transport for those fleeing the fighting, so they have taken to the roads on foot to reach IDP camps." "We are also hearing reports of jet fighters being used - that will be the first time in this battle and, if true, it is a very worrying development." Kifayatullah, the eldest son of Sufi Muhammad, who brokered the February accord, was killed in a bombardment on Thursday in Lower Dir. Helicopter raids Describing the fighting on Thursday, a military official said helicopter raids preceded the ground incursion to retake a forested region in Swat where a number of mines are sited. "Security forces were being targeted from emerald mines. In retaliatory fire, 35 militants were killed," the military said in a statement on Wednesday. Another 49 pro-Taliban fighters were reportedly killed in Buner. Our correspondent reported that three Frontier Corps paramilitaries were killed in a Taliban assault on a checkpoint in Lower Dir. Eleven others were captured. The military spokesman said there were also reports of a number of civilian deaths. The government said it was preparing to shelter up to 500,000 refugees, while the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned of a mounting humanitarian crisis in the region. The ICRC said that they were marshalling aid to provide for 120,000 people, but could no longer reach the areas most affected by violence. Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, in Peshawar, the capital of NWFP, said: "We are getting reports that people desperate to get out of harm's way are now trying to run out of that area. Whatever transport they can get. "While [the military's] objective is to neutralise the Taliban, the civilians are caught in the middle. "The big question is how does the military expects to achieve its objective in a heavily populated area." Exodus from Mingora Khushhal Khan, the chief administration officer in Swat, said: "More than 40,000 have migrated from Mingora [Swat's main town] since Tuesday afternoon." Many told stories of their deprivation at the hands of the Taliban and government attacks. The Taliban said on Wednesday that it was still in control of 90 per cent of Swat. Muslim Khan, a Taliban spokesman, said: "If the government launches an operation against us, we will give them a fitting reply, which it will remember for a long time." Imtiaz Gul, head of the Centre for Research and Security Studies, a think-tank in Islamabad, told Al Jazeera: "This is a time when people in Pakistan realise this has now turned into a war on Pakistan and for Pakistan. "The Pakistani military is the key to winning this war ... There is quite a clear consensus within the Pakistani ruling elite that they need to act in unison, that they need to demonstrate to the world that they are sincere in this war against the militants, which are basically attacking the foundations of this country."
Al Jazeera's Sohail Rahman, reporting from the national capital Islamabad, said: "The military offensive has continued overnight and into Thursday ... our producers on the ground say the curfew in the region has been lifted and will be reimposed at midnight [18:00 GMT].
"The roads are blocked and there is very little transport for those fleeing the fighting, so they have taken to the roads on foot to reach IDP camps."
"We are also hearing reports of jet fighters being used - that will be the first time in this battle and, if true, it is a very worrying development."
Kifayatullah, the eldest son of Sufi Muhammad, who brokered the February accord, was killed in a bombardment on Thursday in Lower Dir.
Describing the fighting on Thursday, a military official said helicopter raids preceded the ground incursion to retake a forested region in Swat where a number of mines are sited.
"Security forces were being targeted from emerald mines. In retaliatory fire, 35 militants were killed," the military said in a statement on Wednesday.
Another 49 pro-Taliban fighters were reportedly killed in Buner.
Our correspondent reported that three Frontier Corps paramilitaries were killed in a Taliban assault on a checkpoint in Lower Dir. Eleven others were captured.
The military spokesman said there were also reports of a number of civilian deaths.
The government said it was preparing to shelter up to 500,000 refugees, while the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned of a mounting humanitarian crisis in the region. The ICRC said that they were marshalling aid to provide for 120,000 people, but could no longer reach the areas most affected by violence. Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, in Peshawar, the capital of NWFP, said: "We are getting reports that people desperate to get out of harm's way are now trying to run out of that area. Whatever transport they can get. "While [the military's] objective is to neutralise the Taliban, the civilians are caught in the middle. "The big question is how does the military expects to achieve its objective in a heavily populated area." Exodus from Mingora Khushhal Khan, the chief administration officer in Swat, said: "More than 40,000 have migrated from Mingora [Swat's main town] since Tuesday afternoon." Many told stories of their deprivation at the hands of the Taliban and government attacks. The Taliban said on Wednesday that it was still in control of 90 per cent of Swat. Muslim Khan, a Taliban spokesman, said: "If the government launches an operation against us, we will give them a fitting reply, which it will remember for a long time." Imtiaz Gul, head of the Centre for Research and Security Studies, a think-tank in Islamabad, told Al Jazeera: "This is a time when people in Pakistan realise this has now turned into a war on Pakistan and for Pakistan. "The Pakistani military is the key to winning this war ... There is quite a clear consensus within the Pakistani ruling elite that they need to act in unison, that they need to demonstrate to the world that they are sincere in this war against the militants, which are basically attacking the foundations of this country."
Exodus from Mingora
Many told stories of their deprivation at the hands of the Taliban and government attacks.
The Taliban said on Wednesday that it was still in control of 90 per cent of Swat.