Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Destruction of Shirk.

Pakistan:Shrine of Shah Almas blown up in Hangu
By Abdul Sami Paracha Tuesday, 09 Jun, 2009

KOHAT: Unknown miscreants blew up the famous shrine of Shah Almas in Shahukhel bazaar of Hangu district on late Monday night.

The police said that some miscreants planted explosives at the shrine belonging to a particular sect.

On midnight on Monday, a huge explosion was heard in the area and the police started a search to find the site of the blast. Later they confirmed that the shrine of Shah Almas had been destroyed by miscreants.

The shrine was located in the extremely dangerous area where the Taliban had established their writ for the last several years. Therefore the officials did not rule out the possibility of the involvement of the militants in the incident.

‘It can be an act of terrorism because the region is already in the grip of severe sectarian battles and the enemies of Pakistan can easily exploit this situation and weaken the country,’ an official said.

The police have registered the case against unknown miscreants and started investigations.

Obama's Cairo Speech Receives Mixed Reaction Among Turkish Intellectuals

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 109June 8, 2009 01:32 PM Age: 1 days
By: Emrullah Uslu

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a speech in the Grand Hall of Cairo University June 4, 2009.
On June 4 during his trip to the Middle East President Barack Obama delivered a speech at Cairo University outlining how his administration intends to develop a new relationship with the Muslim world. Obama delineated seven interrelated issues which need to be addressed. Those included violent extremism in all its forms, the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world, nuclear weapons, democracy, religious freedom, women's rights and economic development and opportunity.

Obama's speech was welcomed by the majority of the mainstream Turkish media and moderate Islamists. President Abullah Gul found the speech positive and progressive (Anadolu Ajansi, June 5). Most newspapers preferred positive headlines in their coverage of the speech. The liberal Taraf, for instance, used as its headline: "Ve Alykumselam" (welcome in response to Obama's opening statement "Assalamu Aleykum"). Another liberal daily, Star used "Assalamu Aleykum" as its headline to praise Obama's speech.

However, neo-nationalists, who are the main group that promote anti-Americanism in Turkey, accused Obama of pursuing the Christianization policies of the Vatican. For instance, Aslan Bulut in the neo-nationalists daily Yeni Cag, argued that "Obama in his speech at Cairo fulfilled his duty to promote interfaith dialog that was set up by the Vatican in 1991 to promote missionary activities among the communities who do not know Jesus and Bible" (Yeni Cag, June 6).

In the moderate Islamist daily Yeni Safak the neo-nationalist columnist Ibrahim Karagul was equally skeptical toward Obama. He argued that he was only welcomed because he said things that no Muslim leader would ever say. "In his speech he referred to the bad image of the U.S. and tried to make us happy. We want to believe him. Are we convinced? If all the things he said were real, then he is a genuine revolutionary. I suggest being realistic. We should be skeptical in expecting that America will change this fast; from having a president who declared war on Muslims to having one who opens his arms to the Muslim world" (Yeni Safak, June 5).

On the other hand, moderate Islamists warmly welcomed Obama's message. One influential Islamist intellectual, Ahmet Tasgetiren, argued that Obama has an opportunity to enable America to establish a healthy bridge with the outside world. This might enable the West to form a new relationship with the Muslim world, based on human interests and not on a colonialist's perspective. Obama's view toward Islam is a challenge for many communities, who have negative attitudes toward Islam. It is also a new beginning and it is good for the world (Bugun, June 6). Another influential Islamist intellectual, Fehmi Koru suggested:

"Obama's speech in Cairo was even more inclusive than what I was expecting from him. It once again proved that Obama's presidency will be very different than that of previous administrations. If he continues to show this effort, that he wants to establish a just world, he will not wait long to receive support from Muslim world" (Yeni Safak, June 5).

Among influential moderate Islamist intellectuals, the only skeptical reaction came from Ali Bulac, who attempted to draw a parallel between Obama's speech and Napoleon's in Egypt when he conquered it two centuries ago. Bulac said that Napoleon in his speech also showed respect toward Islam. "However, his aim was to establish a great French empire stretching from Europe to India. Napoleon was blaming the Mamluks, who were resisting the Ottoman Sultan at the time, and Obama instead charged radical Islamists. Obama's speech indicates that the U.S. prefers to have a new colonialist style that falls into the category of ‘traditional modernity' and ‘global modernity.' That is a type of colonialism between the French and British versions" (Zaman, June 6).

In Yeni Safa another intellectual attempted to link Obama and Napoleon. Akif Emre alleged that Obama's speech in Egypt indicated that the United States wants to establish a new order in the Middle East, and implied that nothing has fundamentally changed in substance (NTV, June 5).

Similar mixed reactions were also evident among liberal intellectuals. Nuray Mert in Radical, for instance, said that the speech was one of the most clichéd statements, which presented nothing new (Radikal, June 5). Nagehan Alci commented in Aksam that former President George W. Bush also made similar statements. On April 20, 2001 Bush said, "We as Americans respect your religion. Islam is a religion of peace. Those who use Allah's name for their violence harm the name of Allah. The U.S. is not the enemy of Muslims." Therefore, Alci recommended a cautious approach, reserving judgment until it becomes clear as to what Obama will do in practical terms (Aksam, June 6).

In Taraf however, Yasemin Congar considered that Obama's speech was a significant step toward establishing a new beginning with the Muslim world. That might indicate a new world, century and a new worldview (Taraf, June 5). Sedat Ergin said in Milliyet that it was one of the strongest statements that an American president has made in recent times (NTV, June 5). Moreover, another columnist in Milliyet believed that Obama's speech marks a new beginning, which according to Taha Akyol will promote dialog and diplomacy in international relations (Milliyet, June 6).

It appears that Obama's speech has created a mixed yet optimistic reaction among various segments of Turkish society. The speech at least sparked a renewed debate on whether America has changed its policies toward the Muslim world. That debate itself can be considered as a success for the Obama administration.

Iraq to award foreign oil contracts late June

BAGHDAD (AFP) — Iraq will at the end of June announce which major foreign oil companies have been awarded new contracts to work in the country, a government spokesman said on Sunday.
The deals will be service agreements in which successful bidders are paid a fee by Baghdad and not production sharing contracts where profits are shared.
"The Ministry of Oil will announce the names of companies who won business contracts in Iraq's oil industry on the 29th or 30th of this month," Assim Jihad, the ministry's spokesman, told AFP.
A first round of bidding in June last year, open only to companies with experience of operating giant oilfields, saw the number of foreign firms competing for the new business whittled down from 120 to 35.
Jihad, however, did not say how many foreign companies will ultimately be awarded contracts after the second round of bidding.
The decision by Baghdad to award only service contracts to foreign companies differs from the country's autonomous Kurdish region, where numerous profit-sharing deals have been struck.
Iraq hopes to pump six million barrels per day, up from its current stated output of around 2.2 million bpd, within the next four to five years as new projects come online.
Although Iraq has the world's third largest proven reserves of oil after Saudi Arabia and Iran, development of the conflict-ravaged country's fields has been very slow.
The economic publication Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) said in a report in April that exploitation of oil and gas in Iraq is likely to continue being hampered by the country's chaotic politics and unclear project proposals.
Iraq's cabinet also last month approved a bill that will hit foreign oil firms with a minimum 35 percent corporate tax in a bid to boost revenues.
Foreign corporations currently pay a flat tax rate of 15 percent, according to the finance ministry's general commission for taxes.
The draft law will require parliamentary approval.

The situation of Iraqi oil

Al-Qaeda and the Iraqi Resistance Seek to Win Over Fighters of the Awakening Councils

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 15
June 4, 2009 12:21 PM Age: 5 days

After a gradual handover process, the Sunni fighters of the Sahwa (Awakening) Councils have come under the responsibility of Iraq’s Shi’a-led central government. From their emergence two years ago until recently, the Sahwa councils, which cooperated with Coalition forces to drive al-Qaeda out of their areas, have been paid and backed by American forces in Iraq.

On April 2, the handover was completed and all 92,000 men of the Sahwa councils transferred to the payroll and command of the Iraqi government (, April 2). Yet this date was barely indicated in the media, which was still busy reporting the aftermath of clashes in central Baghdad between Iraqi government forces and the Sahwa fighters of the Sunni Fadhil neighborhood. The fighting broke out on March 28 when the Sahwa fighters protested the arrest of the leader of their group, Adil al-Mashadani. After a two-day operation supported by the American army, the Iraqi forces took control of the area and the Sahwa fighters surrendered. Two people were killed and 11 others arrested (al-Jazeera, March 30).

The spokesman of the Iraqi government pointed out that al-Mashadani was a wanted terrorist. An Iraqi military spokesman accused him of leading the local branch of the banned Ba’ath party, but one of al-Mashadani’s men said after their defeat “The Sahwa is over now. Al-Qaeda and the bombings will be back” (al-Hayat, March 30). Violence increased by 40% in the month of April, with mass bombings in Shiite civilian areas and attacks on Sahwa fighters both on and off duty.

Al-Fadhil is a small neighborhood and it is unlikely there was a direct link between events there and the recent surge of violence in different areas around Iraq. Yet the events of al-Fadhil might be an indication of how the relations between the Iraqi government and the Sahwa councils could affect the security situation in that country.

By mid-2007, the American surge strategy had been applied and had started to work. Yet that strategy could not have been effective without the unexpected help of the Sunni population in Iraq. Thousands of Sunni fighters, many of whom were members of insurgent groups (including al-Qaeda), turned against the insurgency and started an alliance with the U.S. military. These fighters formed the first Sahwa councils. The Sahwa movement started in the western province of al-Anbar and expanded to all of the Sunni population in central Iraq. With American support they succeeded in pacifying their areas and violence consequently dropped in the country. Al-Qaeda lost its urban strongholds, all located in Sunni areas. Whereas al-Qaeda elements were comfortable enough in October 2006 to celebrate the declaration of the Islamic State of Iraq with a parade in the main street of al-Ramadi, capital of al-Anbar, within a matter of months Sahwa fighters defeated al-Qaeda in such a way that former American President George Bush was able to visit al-Ramadi in September and meet the founder of the first Sahwa Council, the late Shaykh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha (who was assassinated in a suicide attack a week after that meeting).

The Sahwa Councils and al-Qaeda’s Infiltration Efforts

The Iraqi government and Shiite politicians often refer to an infiltration of the Sahwa councils by al-Qaeda and the Ba’ath party. In addition to the al-Fadhil events, recent developments have included the arrest of 11 Sahwa fighters in different areas around Baghdad and the arrest of Mullah Nadhim al-Jubouri, the prominent Sahwa leader and former member of al-Qaeda from Dhuluiya (north of Baghdad). Al-Jubouri was wanted on terrorism charges related to his earlier al-Qaeda membership and is also alleged to have played a leading role in the killing of Shiites in the town of Dujail (Reuters, May 3).

Many Sahwa leaders do not rule out the possibility of infiltration but see it as a result of government policies and actions. Adnan al-Janabi, a tribal leader from south Baghdad, warned that the security situation could collapse in his area and criticized the government for not fulfilling its promise to recruit Sahwa members from his area into the security forces; “It is possible that al-Qaeda will succeed in infiltrating the Sahwa councils if the situation stays the same” (Al-Hayat, April 23).

The major demand of the Sahwa members has been to join the Iraqi security forces. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has promised that only 20% of them would be able to join the Army and the police. The others are to have civilian jobs or pensions. The Iraqi government says the process of recruiting and employing Sahwa fighters is continuing while the latter believe government hesitation has created a stagnant situation (Al-Hayat, April 23).

In response to the clashes in al-Fadhil, al-Maliki took to the government-owned television station to deny reports of a clash with al-Sahwa. “What have been happening in al-Fadhil lately were not armed clashes with the Sahwa forces but with a Ba’ath party branch… We want what happened in al-Fadhil to be a message to all of those who follow the route of the gang … They might think that they operate and make contact out of the sight of the state and its security forces. They are all under monitoring and surveillance and each of them will receive his fair punishment” (al-Iraqiya, April 3).

Al-Qaeda Makes an Offer

Al-Qaeda would not have missed the opportunity to gain something out of the row between al-Maliki and the Sahwa councils. The leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (a.k.a. Abu Ayoub al-Masri), called upon the Sahwa fighters to switch their loyalty back to al-Qaeda and the insurgent groups. “The Sahwa fighters are criminals. They committed crimes against their religion and people. However, if they abandon what they do and sincerely repent to Allah we will not chase or hunt them down. Those who were in groups which claim jihad will have our word to ensure their safety on condition that they do not carry arms again until we make sure that their repentance is sincere” (, April 22). It was interesting that al-Muhajir, who had not been heard from for almost two years, chose this moment to renew an offer he made earlier in late 2006. That offer did not bring much interest at the time, a rejection that led al-Qaeda in Iraq to form the Siddeeq brigade to fight the Sahwa Councils.

Recruitment Attempts by the Jihad and Change Front

Months before the current crisis, the Jihad and Change Front (JCF), an Iraqi insurgent organization, claimed that its attempt to change the loyalty of the Sahwa men had been met with a positive response. In an internet interview, a JCF spokesman claimed many Sahwa fighters were ready to join the resistance:

"The front was approached by groups and individuals from the Sahwa councils…our call was for all who realized the scale of the conspiracy and the reality of the American traps…The response proves the sincerity of the JCF’s initiative. It also indicates that those who are aligned with the occupying American forces to fight the extremists of al-Qaeda or to confront the Iranian-backed Safavid [i.e. Shi’a] militias have concluded that they served the occupation. Their positive response expresses their faithful intention to change their course and to make amends for what they have done against the country and the armed resistance. What also helped the Sahwa members was that the American occupying forces had used the Sahwa Councils for their occupying purpose. When the Sahwa Councils had done what the Americans wanted they were no longer necessary. The Americans started to get rid of them. With the increase in assassinations, hunting and arrests of the Sahwa elements, many of them decided to respond positively to the JCF initiative" (, September 26, 2008).


Trying to create a political representation to support their demands, many of the Sahwa councils formed political groups and participated in the last provincial election in January 2009. With the exception of the western province of al-Anbar, where the population is overwhelmingly Sunni and Sahwa Councils are part of the tribal structure of the society, most of the Sahwa groups failed to place members in parliament.

With their choices significantly reduced, the Sahwa are not in a comfortable negotiating position with the Iraqi government. If the latter intends to maintain a hardline approach, it will not be surprising if some of the Sahwa fighters decide to rejoin the insurgency or give up their positions in the government. The recent deterioration in the security situation might be an indication that some fighters have already done so. The Sahwa row reflects one of the most significant questions in post-war Iraq - how to deal with the Sunnis. It is no secret that many of the Sahwa council fighters used to be active members in the insurgent groups, including al-Qaeda. By the Iraqi and American definitions, they have committed crimes. They attacked Iraqi and Coalition forces and during the Shiite-Sunni sectarian conflict some of them may have been involved in crimes against civilians. Yet the Sunnis argue that the Shiite militias on the other side are guilty of similar behavior. There is currently a great need for a legal and political framework to deal with this situation. Without an effective and workable national reconciliation, the danger of a great deterioration in security will always be there, as proven by recent setbacks.

With a timetable now set for the American withdrawal from Iraq, sectarian tensions have become the major challenge to Iraq’s stability. Both the Shiite and Sunni insurgents found the energy and resources to fight each other and the Coalition forces in 2005, 2006 and 2007. It would be naive to rule out the possibility of a new wave of Shiite-Sunni violence if the issue surrounding the Sahwa councils is allowed to deteriorate.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Suspect in soldier shooting says he was justified

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A Muslim convert charged with fatally shooting an American soldier at a military recruiting center said Tuesday that he doesn't consider the killing a murder because U.S. military action in the Middle East made the killing justified.
"I do feel I'm not guilty," Abdulhakim Muhammad told The Associated Press in a collect call from the Pulaski County jail. "I don't think it was murder, because murder is when a person kills another person without justified reason."
Pvt. William Andrew Long, 23, of Conway had just completed basic training and was volunteering at the west Little Rock recruiting office before starting an assignment in South Korea. He was shot dead June 1 while smoking a cigarette outside the building, and a fellow soldier, Pvt. Quinton I. Ezeagwula, 18, of Jacksonville was wounded.
Ezeagwula (eh-ZAG-u-la) spoke briefly at a news conference at a Jacksonville recruiting center Tuesday, saying he had wounds in his back, head and buttocks from the shooting.
The private, who also had just completed basic training, said he hopes to become a heavy equipment operator in the Army and later serve as a drill instructor. An Army captain repeatedly stopped Ezeagwula from answering questions about what happened during the shooting or his thoughts about the suspect.
Muhammad told the AP he admitted to his actions to police and said he was retaliating against the U.S. military.
"Yes, I did tell the police upon my arrest that this was an act of retaliation, and not a reaction on the soldiers personally," Muhammad said. He called it "a act, for the sake of God, for the sake of Allah, the Lord of all the world, and also a retaliation on U.S. military."
In the interview, Muhammad also disputed his lawyer's claim that he had been "radicalized" in a Yemeni prison and said fellow prisoners that some call terrorists were actually "very good Muslim brothers."
He also said he didn't specifically plan the shootings that morning.
"It's been on my mind for awhile. It wasn't nothing planned really. It was just the heat of the moment, you know," said Muhammad, who was arrested on a highway shortly after the attack.
Prosecutor Larry Jegley, who on Monday won a gag order in the case, declined to comment specifically on Muhammad's remarks.
"I asked for the gag order to protect Mr. Muhammad's right for a fair trial," Jegley said. "I've never had a situation like this with a gag order and I'm sure Mr. Muhammad's attorney will take care of it."
The Associated Press sent an interview request to Muhammad last week, before a judge ordered parties in the case to remain quiet. After Tuesday's interview, Muhammad's lawyer Jim Hensley sent an e-mail to the AP asking it to withhold his client's remarks.
Muhammad, 23, said he wanted revenge for claims that American military personnel had desecrated copies of the Quran and killed or raped Muslims. "For this reason, no Muslim, male or female, sane or insane, little, big, small, old can accept or tolerate," he said.
He said the U.S. military would never treat Christians and their Scriptures in the same manner.
"U.S. soldiers are killing innocent Muslim men and women. We believe that we have to strike back. We believe in eye for an eye. We don't believe in turning the other cheek," he said.
Asked whether he considered the shootings at the recruiting center an act of war, Muhammad said "I didn't know the soldiers personally, but yes, it was an attack of retaliation. And I feel that other attacks, not by me or people I know, but definitely Muslims in this country and others elsewhere, are going to attack for doing those things they did," especially desecrating the Quran.
Muhammad was arrested on a capital murder charge in state court and could face the death penalty. FBI spokesman Steve Frazier said Tuesday a federal investigation continues and any information that's gathered is being shared with local law enforcement. He declined to comment further.
An FBI-Homeland Security intelligence assessment document obtained by The Associated Press last week suggested the gunman may have considered targeting other locations, including Jewish and Christian sites in several eastern U.S. cities.
Muhammad had moved to Arkansas in the spring to work at his father's bus tour company and had never attended the Islamic Center of Little Rock, a mosque frequented by most of the area's Muslims, said Iftikhar Pathan, the center's president.
Pathan said he spoke with most of the nearly 300 people who attend Friday prayers at the mosque and no one knew him. Those at the mosque also spoke with FBI agents in the days immediately after the shooting, he said.
"What he had in his mind, God knows," Pathan said.
Last week, Hensley said his client, born Carlos Bledsoe, had been tortured and "radicalized" in a Yemeni prison after entering the country to teach English. He was held there for immigration violations, and Yemeni officials have denied mistreatment.
"Those claims ... are all lies," Muhammad said Tuesday. "That never happened in Yemen. The officials dealt with me in a gentle way."

Bombers strike luxury hotel in Pakistan

AP: By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer Riaz Khan, Associated Press Writer 06/09/2009

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Suicide attackers shot their way past guards and set off a massive blast Tuesday outside a luxury hotel where foreigners and well-to-do Pakistanis mixed, killing at least 11 people and wounding 70, officials said.

The bombers struck the Pearl Continental Hotel at about 10 p.m., when nightlife was still in swing. The attack reduced a section of the hotel to concrete rubble and twisted steel and left a huge crater in a parking lot.

The blast came a week after Taliban leaders warned they would carry out major attacks in large cities in retaliation for an army offensive to reclaim the nearby Swat Valley region from the militants. No claim surfaced immediately for the bombing in Peshawar, the northwest's largest city with about 2.2 million people.

Earlier in the day, officials said Pakistan's military engaged militants on two fronts elsewhere in the northwest. The army dispatched helicopter gunships in support of citizens fighting the Taliban in one district and used artillery fire against militants in another after sympathetic tribal elders refused to hand them over.

Neither operation was anywhere near the size of the military's offensive in the Swat Valley, where 15,000 troops have battled up to 7,000 Taliban fighters.

But the battles Monday and Tuesday in the Upper Dir and Bannu districts suggest that pockets of pro-Taliban sentiment remain strong in some areas, while the militants' form of hardline Islam is unpalatable in others — particularly because of the violence the militants have used to enforce it.

Peshawar lies in between the two districts. The Pearl Continental, affectionately called the "PC" by Pakistanis, overlooks a golf course and a historic fort. The ritziest hotel in the city, it is relatively well-guarded and set far back from the main road.

Police official Liaqat Ali said witnesses gave vivid accounts of how the bombers carried out their attack.

Three men in a pickup truck approached the hotel's main gate, opened fire at security guards, drove inside and detonated the bomb close to the building, Ali said. A senior police officer, Shafqatullah Malik, estimated it contained more than half a ton of explosives.

The chaotic scene echoed a bombing last year at Islamabad's Marriott Hotel that killed more than 50 people. Both hotels were favored places for foreigners and elite Pakistanis to stay and socialize, making them high-profile targets for militants despite tight security.

The method of attack also matched a May 27 assault on buildings belonging to police and a regional headquarters of Pakistan's top intelligence agency in the eastern city of Lahore, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility. A small group opened fire on security guards to get through a guard post, then detonated an explosive-laden van.

In Washington, two senior U.S. officials said the State Department had been in negotiations with the hotel's owners to either purchase or sign a long-term lease to the facility to house a new American consulate in Peshawar. The officials said they were not aware of any sign that U.S. interest in the compound had played a role in its being targeted.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations were not public and had not been completed. They said no immediate decision had been made on whether to go ahead with plans to base the consulate on the hotel grounds.

Lou Fintor, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, said there were no immediate reports of American casualties.

North West Frontier Province Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain told The Associated Press early Wednesday that officials were reporting 11 deaths in the blast. Other police and government officials could confirm only five dead.

An AP reporter saw six wounded foreigners being helped out of the Pearl.

The U.N. identified a staff member as among the dead: Aleksandar Vorkapic, 44, an information technology specialist from Belgrade, Serbia, who was part of an emergency team from the office of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees helping with the crisis.

Peshawar district coordination officer Sahibzada Anis said the blast wounded three others working for the U.N. agency — a Briton, a Somali and a German.

Amjad Jamal, spokesman for the World Food Program in Pakistan, said more than 25 U.N. workers were staying at the hotel. He said all seven WFP workers were safe.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Jeffrey Feltman on Lebanon elections

Obama's Tax on the Poor

Taliban will never be defeated, says Colonel Imam

Press Trust Of India
London, June 07, 2009

A Pakistani intelligence agent who trained Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader and the warlords to fight the Soviets has claimed that NATO forces will never be able to overpower their enemies in Afghanistan and should talk to them rather than sacrifice more lives.

"You can never win the war in Afghanistan," said 'Colonel Imam', who ran a training programme for the Afghan resistance to the Soviet Union's occupation from 1979 to 1989, and then helped to form the Taliban.

"I have worked with these people since the 1970s and I tell you they will never be defeated. Anyone who has come here has got stuck. The more you kill, the more they will expand," Imam told The Sunday Times.

Imam has offered to find the Americans a way out and says the US must negotiate with its enemies.

"We can give them a face-saving solution but they must change their strategy."

First, he said, they must spend billions on reconstruction. Then they must open talks with Omar rather than the so-called moderates.

"When are you people going to understand that there is no number two Taliban," he said.

"Those who break away from Taliban have no place in the society. You may make deals in Dubai or Saudi Arabia, but when they come back to Afghan and people know they compromised with the Americans, they are finished."

Barack Bonaparte ‘Soft Power’ and Personal Charm

By Hizb ut-Tahrir

June 05, 2009 "Hizb ut-Tahrir" -- When
the European conqueror Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Egypt as part of his quest for world domination, he told the people: You will be told that I came to destroy your religion; do not believe it … I have more respect than the Mamelukes for your God, His Prophet, and the Koran and many more sweet words besides.

Barack Obama’s speech in Egypt has been hailed by some as a new direction in policy towards the Muslim world. Although this appears a seemingly positive gesture towards the Muslim world, the actions of his government appear every bit as ruthless as the Bush administration. He differs only to the extent that, unlike Bush who spoke with frank hatred, he uses ‘soft power’ and personal charm to cover his intentions. Instead of the rhetoric, let us look at the facts:

On Pakistan: In his first few months in office, Obama’s administration has succeeded in creating 3 million refugees by pushing the corrupt Zardari regime to launch a war in Swat. Even before he took office he declared Pakistan the most dangerous place on earth, and said he would even bomb Islamabad if he had to. His whole policy in the region is driven by trying to secure America’s foothold in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and fighting a popular insurgency – except he has decided to sacrifice Pakistan’s soldiers instead of American ones. We have even seen evidence of dirty tricks of the sort used by the CIA in Iraq or Central America, to instil hatred and division between Muslims and Obama has continued US drone attacks in Pakistan.

On Palestine: Obama boasts he wants to see the ‘road-map’ implemented towards securing a Palestinian state. People seem positive because he seeks to challenge the Israeli politicians who oppose this. However, what people forget in this propaganda about the ‘road-map’ is that this so-called Palestinian state will be little more than a glorified prison camp, where the guards are Palestinian instead of Israeli – because if they did not keep Israel’s security to a standard it is happy with, it will simply invade again.

On supporting Israel: Obama appointed, Rahm Emanuel, the son of an Israeli Irgun terrorist, as his Chief of Staff. Emanuel has said that Obama did not need his influence to “orientate his policy toward Israel”. This is true because before he was elected, Obama said “We must preserve our total commitment to our unique defence relationship with Israel by fully funding military assistance and continuing work on the Arrow and related missile defence programs”. Moreover, he went further than any US President saying, “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.” His response to Israel’s massacre in Gaza was “America is committed to Israel’s security. And we will always support Israel’s right to defend itself against legitimate threats.”

On Guantanamo Bay and torture: Obama has promised to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and most people had expected the military tribunals to end. However, many of the Guantanamo prisoners will remain imprisoned elsewhere, and he has decided to continue with the very controversial military tribunals. Although he has made a lot of rhetoric of the CIA being banned from using torture, he has decided not to prosecute anyone who carried out torture in the past, and he has not ruled out using evidence gained through torture in other parts of the world.

On imprisonment without trial: In May 2009 Obama went on record supporting indefinite detention without trial in the USA. He used very Bush-like language saying there are some “very dangerous people” where there is not enough evidence to convict, so they needed to be locked up.

On Supporting tyrants and criminal rulers in the Muslim world: Obama is as supportive of the tyrants and criminal rulers in the Muslim world as any of his predecessors. In his recent BBC interview he described Mubarak, the Pharaoh of Egypt, who tortures and represses his opponents saying “he’s been a stalwart ally to the US… he’s been a force for stability and good in the region”. He also praised Mubarak’s “sustained peace with Israel” which included blockading the people of Gaza from getting help and humanitarian relief.

Muslims should not be deceived by Obama’s words. The United States of America is a Capitalist state. Its institutions are geared towards maintaining America’s power around the world, even if they have to exploit others in the process; they are geared to crush any competitor to America in the world, even if it means people have to live under occupation and tyranny. So regardless of whether it is Bush, Obama or anyone else, fundamental US interests and policies will never change.

The real reason why Obama is making these gestures is to improve America’s image as it is both economically and morally bankrupt. Its economic system has been exposed as a fragile house of cards, ready to collapse at any time. Despite their promises of creating wealth to relieve poverty, they have made poverty a reality for billions. Its superior moral tone about its political system – democracy and human rights – has been exposed as nothing more than lies, as it killed, imprisoned and tortured people without limit.

What Obama is trying to do is a desperate attempt to thwart the rise of an alternative and rival in the Muslim world. The CIA predicted that by 2020 the world would see the emergence of a new Khilafah State in the Muslim world. This would be a state that would not create the terror unleashed by the United States, but a state that would end occupation and bring stability and security in the Muslim world. It is a state that would have an economic system to help end poverty and bring tranquillity to the world. It is a state that would uphold the Shariah of Allah (swt), the dignity of His Messenger (saw), and the well being of its citizens.

What is required by Muslims all over the world is to continue working, following the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw), to remove the corrupt rulers that the Western leaders court, and re-establish the leadership for the Muslim Ummah, the Khilafah State, once again.

وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُم فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَى لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِّن بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا يَعْبُدُونَنِي لَا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا وَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

“Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their religion – the one which He has chosen for them; and that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace: ‘They will worship Me (alone) and not associate aught with Me. ‘If any do reject Faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked” [Translated meaning of the Quran 24:55 ]

Hizb ut-Tahrir - Britain

Obama's Speech - America’s Violent Extremism

By Paul Craig Roberts

June 05, 2009 "
Information Clearing House" -- -What are we to make of Obama’s speech at Cairo University in Egypt?

"I’ve come here to Cairo to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect."

Cairo is the capital of Egypt, an American puppet state whose ruler suppresses the aspirations of Egyptian Muslims and cooperates with Israel in the blockade of Gaza.

In contrast to the Islamic University of Al-Azhar, Cairo University was founded as a civil university. Obama’s Cairo University audience was secular.

Nevertheless, Obama said startling words that many Muslims found hopeful. He said that colonialism and the Cold War had denied rights and opportunities to Muslims and resulted in Muslim countries being treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. The resulting blowback from "violent extremists" bred fear and mistrust between the Western and Muslim worlds.

Obama spoke of the Koran, his middle name, and his family connections to Islam.

Obama praised Islam’s contributions to civilization.

Obama declared his "responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear."

Obama acknowledged "the responsibility we have to one another as human beings."

Obama acknowledged Iran’s "right to access peaceful nuclear power."

Obama declared that "no system of government can or should be imposed by one nation on any other."

Obama’s most explosive words pertained to Israel and Palestine: "Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."

Obama declared that "the only resolution [to the conflict] is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security. That is in Israel’s interest, Palestine’s interest, America’s interest, and the world’s interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience that the task requires." For Obama’s commitment to be fulfilled, Israel would have to give back the stolen West Bank lands, dismantle the wall, accept the right to return, and release 1.5 million Palestinians from the Gaza Ghetto. As this seems an unlikely collection of events, the nature of the "two-state solution" endorsed by Obama remains to be seen.

After the euphoric attention to idealistic rhetoric dies down, Obama will be criticized for extravagant words that create unrealizable expectations. But were the extravagant words other than a premier act of schmoozing Muslims designed to quiet the Muslim Brotherhood in our Egyptian puppet state and to get Muslims to accept US aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Obama decries regime change, but continues to practice it, invoking women’s rights to gain support from secularized Arabs. He admits that Iraq was a war of choice but claims that al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and 9/11 make Afghanistan a war of necessity.

Obama said that "the events of 9/11" and al-Qaeda’s responsibility, not America’s desire for military bases and hegemony, are the reasons America’s commitment to combating violent extremism in Afghanistan will not weaken. Will Muslims notice that Obama’s case for America’s violent extremism in Afghanistan and now Pakistan is hypocritical?

Al-Qaeda, Obama says, "chose to ruthlessly murder" nearly 3,000 people on 9/11 "and even now states their determination to kill on a massive scale." These deaths are a mere drop in the buckets of blood that America’s invasions have brought to the Muslim world. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of the Muslims America has slaughtered are civilians, just as are the unarmed Palestinians slaughtered by the American-equipped Israeli military.

Against al-Qaeda, whose "actions are irreconcilable with the rights of human beings," Obama invokes the Koran’s prohibition against killing an innocent. Does Obama not realize that the stricture applies to the US and its "coalition of forty-six countries" in spades?

America’s wars are all wars of choice. The more than one million dead Iraqis are not al-Qaeda. Neither are Iraq’s four million refugees. Yet, Obama says Iraqis are better off now, with their country in ruins and a fifth of their population lost, because they are rid of Saddam Hussein, a secular ruler.

No one has a good tally of the dead and refugees America has produced in Afghanistan. Nevertheless, declared Obama, "The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals and our need to work together."

In his first 100 days, Obama managed to create two million Pakistani refugees. It took Israel 60 years to create 3.5 million Palestinian refugees.

What Obama has really done is his speech is to accept responsibility for the neoconservative agenda of extending Western hegemony by eliminating "Muslim extremists," that is, Muslims who want to rule themselves in keeping with Islam, not in keeping with some secularized, Westernized faux Islam.

Muslim extremists are the creation of decades of Western colonization and secularization that has created an elite, which is Muslim in name only, to rule over religious people and to suppress Islamic mores. All experts know this, and most of them hail it as bringing progress and development to the Muslim world.

Obama said that "human progress cannot be denied," but "there need not be contradiction between development and tradition." However, the West defines development and education. These terms mean what they mean in the West. Muslim extremists understand that these terms mean the extermination of Islam.

In typical American fashion, Obama offered Muslims money, "technological development," and "centers of scientific excellence."

All the Muslims have to do is to cooperate with America and be peaceful, and America will "respect the dignity of all human beings."

Why the Taliban won't take over Pakistan

For reasons of geography, ethnicity, military inferiority, and ancient rivalries, they represent neither the immediate threat that is often portrayed nor the inevitable victors that the West fears.

| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

It has become the statistic heard round the world. The Taliban are within 60 miles of Islamabad. Just 60 miles. Every dispatch about the insurgents' recent advance into the Pakistani district of Buner carried the ominous number.

Washington quivered, too. A top counterinsurgency expert, David Kilcullen, reiterated that Pakistan could collapse within six months. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said flatly if the country were to fall, the Taliban would have the "keys to the nuclear arsenal." On a visit to Islamabad, Sen. John Kerry – the proctor of $7.5 billion in Pakistani aid as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – warned bluntly: "The government has to ratchet up the urgency."

The Pakistani military did launch a major counteroffensive that has sent 2 million people fleeing their homes. For now, both the US and many Pakistanis appear to be relieved that the military has drawn a line at least somewhere, in this case in the fruit orchards of the Swat Valley and the city of Mingora, north of Islamabad.

Yet Pakistani analysts and officials here caution that the casus belli of all the commotion – the infamous 60 miles and the threat of an imminent Taliban takeover – is overblown. The Visigoths are not about to overrun the gates of Rome. Bearded guys with fistfuls of AK-47s are not poised to breeze into Islamabad on the back of white Toyota pickups.

True, the Taliban threat remains serious. By one estimate, the militants maintain a presence in more than 60 percent of northwestern Pakistan and control significant sections along the Afghan border. Moreover, the possibility of the insurgents one day getting their hands on nuclear material remains the ultimate horror – it would probably be more ominous than the Cuban missile crisis.

But experts note that, even if the current operation by the Pakistani military stalls, or the Taliban return to areas they've been ousted from, the insurgents may not significantly expand their footprint in the country anytime soon. For reasons of geography, ethnicity, military inferiority, and ancient rivalries, they represent neither the immediate threat that is often portrayed nor the inevitable victors that the West fears.

"The Americans have become paranoid about Pakistan," says Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani military general. "They are losing their objectivity, and I think they need a reality check."


A planned city built in the 1960s, Islamabad is a strikingly modern South Asian metropolis. Broad streets lie along a spacious, uncluttered grid filled with trees. Nearby, its sister city, Rawalpindi, is more a reflection of old Pakistan but serves as its protectorate: It is the headquarters of the world's seventh-largest army.

One of the biggest houses in "Pindi" goes to the chief of Army staff. Clustered near the military compound are tony neighborhoods where retired generals live. Colonels, majors, and businessmen mingle in upper-middle-class enclaves, and farther away rise the starter homes of the lieutenants.

The elite area features a commercial center with a movie theater showing, at the moment, "Fast & Furious IV," as well as a big-box store and a McDonald's. Sitting on a bench, a young Pakistani businessman dressed in jeans laughs at the question of a Taliban takeover. "No," says Omar Ali with incredulity. "Do you think the Taliban are going to take over Washington?"

If it sounds as if Mr. Ali lives in a world far removed from the Taliban, it's because he does, literally and figuratively. The drive from McDonald's to the mountain hamlets of Buner, where the Taliban are trying to gain a sandal hold, takes about four hours. It may be 60 miles as the drone flies, but it's double that by pickup truck.

The M1 Motorway heading out of the capital starts like an American Interstate highway – three divided lanes in each direction, manicured on and off ramps. Take an exit toward Buner and soon the pavement grows intermittent, as does the sight of any women in public view.

Eventually, a bridge spans the rock-strewn Indus River. Historically, this has marked a significant divide – and serves as a reminder of how geography and history intrude on the Taliban. "West of the Indus [versus] East of the Indus – the cultures, attitudes, and linkages with Afghanistan are very different," says General Masood.

West was frontier and Pakistan still calls it that: the North West Frontier Province. In this direction, the land rises toward Afghanistan, and the lives get harder as mountains tear apart arable land and communities divide into insulated tribes.

The worldview of the Taliban comes from West of the Indus. For them, the plains represent exposure. "The Taliban have been able to operate in certain [mountainous areas] because of the terrain and the sympathy factor," says Rifaat Hussain, a military expert at Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad. "But the moment they begin to move out of the hideouts, they are exposed. If you have 100 truckloads of Taliban on the Peshawar Highway, all you need is two helicopter gunships" to wipe them out.

Coming down from the hills also would expose the Taliban to a more secular, urban world that views their way of life as something on the cover of National Geographic. Or, as a colleague of Professor Hussain puts it: "They are a bunch of mountain barbarians."


One area halfway between Islamabad and Taliban country looks like the California Central Valley, with donkey carts. The roads in the area, the Haripur district, are lined with eucalyptus trees, agricultural fields tumble off in the distance, and brickmaking kilns puff smoke from stout stacks.

The Taliban have threatened to come to this area to free comrades held in prison. As a result, officials mobilized extra security forces and intensified intelligence activity. But Haripur's best defenses lie with the people. "There is absolutely no support for Taliban in this district," says Yousaf Ayub Khan, Haripur's nazim, or ruler. The main reason: This is non-Pashto country.

More than 90 percent of residents speak Hindko, as opposed to Pashto, the language of the Pashtun people – and the Taliban. It's a common saying these days in Pakistan that all Taliban are Pashtuns, but not all Pashtuns are Taliban.

Haripur sits along a vast ethnic fire wall against further Taliban conquests. To the north and west are Pashtun lands, to the east and south – toward Islamabad – other groups dominate. "Pashtun areas have always been very conservative and religious, so they become easy prey," says the nazim, who also happens to be Pashtun. "People are docile here [and] their thinking is more toward Islamabad."

The grievances that the Taliban exploit, such as unemployment and tribal feudalism, don't exist as much here. Schools poke out from nearly every alley of Haripur city, and the district – with more than 1,000 private academies – is among the most educated in the country. Lush farmland and an industrial center support relative prosperity.

There are limits to the ethnic fire wall, of course. Ahmed Rashid, author of "Descent into Chaos," suggests the Taliban enjoy support in the Punjab region – Pakistan's heartland – among jihadi groups originally fighting in Kashmir. Moreover, many Pashtun refugees, including those displaced by the latest fighting, exist in places as far away as Karachi, the nation's financial center.

On the edge of Haripur, two camps house refugees who fled the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. After three decades, the original tents have transformed into a little Kabul with mud, brick, and wood-pole structures. Residents say even police fear to go here, and some suspect the Afghan camps play host to militants.

"They visit often, they have links there," says Dr. Faiza Rasheed, a member of the provincial assembly and local gynecologist. "I think if [the Taliban] came, Afghans will support them, but not the local community."

Internet cafes in Haripur city have received threatening calls from insurgents, and some, like the Speed Link, have people frisking Afghans before entering.

Yet many Afghans chafe at the suspicions cast on them. "They blame us, saying that all Afghans are the Taliban," says Basti Gul, a barber at the Islamabad Beauty Parlor. He denies there are any Taliban in town and says the local populace – Afghan and Hindko speakers – are united against them. "We will not welcome them," he says. "The people of Swat liked them. But the people of Haripur don't."


The notion of a Taliban conquest of Pakistan also bumps up against some simple arithmetic. The Taliban in Swat number 5,000, and the total from all factions in Pakistan is estimated in the tens of thousands, at most. The Pakistani military, meanwhile, numbers more than half a million.

"There would have to be a collapse of will on the part of the Army to defend the country," says Hussain. "Yes, it's a state that's under stress, but it's not a failed state in the sense that people refer to Somalia or Afghanistan."

Until the latest counteroffensive, US and Pakistani analysts questioned the military's resolve in fighting the insurgency. Armies do not like fighting their own people. And Pakistani intelligence agencies have a history of funding militant groups to achieve foreign-policy goals.

But the counteroffensive in Swat has convinced many analysts here that the Army is serious – at least for now. The mass displacement of civilians offers grim confirmation of heavy engagement.

Until recently, it would have been easy in the war rooms in Islamabad to see the Taliban as someone else's problem. Since 2007, however, at least 17 suicide attacks have rocked the twin cities, killing more than 250 people. The Marriott hotel, scene of the most deadly strike, has turned into a five-star fort hidden behind a rock-wall barrier. Neighborhood conveniences are a little less convenient, too: The drive-through at the McDonald's in Rawalpindi has turned into an obstacle course with four concrete barriers and a checkpoint.

The military also senses it has public backing for the operation – as scores of interviews with average Pakistanis confirm. "The government is fair to do operations in Swat and Buner because the government has already given a chance to the Taliban to give up weapons, but they did not," says Muhammad Murtaza, a student at Quaid-i-Azam.


Some of the fiercest opponents of the Taliban are those who lived under their reign, making it more difficult for the movement to spread. Mr. Murtaza's classmate, Muhammad Nisar, worries every time he moves between school and his home.

A year ago, he and three other students were waiting for a van in Swat to head back to Islamabad when a group of Taliban approached. They brandished guns and said, "Go pray in the mosque."

"I was scared, so I went to the mosque," says Mr. Nisar. "But the prayer was just a formality. They are just using Islam."

He says that for years the Taliban in Swat were just students of a local religious leader, Maulana Fazlullah. At first their goals were limited to building a mosque, and locals willingly helped. But he and other residents say the Taliban grew increasingly belligerent as outsiders and criminals joined their ranks. "I think 50 percent of the Taliban are criminals," says Nisar. "They have no jobs, no other opportunities, so they join the Taliban."

The Taliban enforced bans on movies, music, and modern mores, with threats broadcast over FM radio. They ordered CD stores closed, and once a bomb ripped through the music market. Residents who fled from Swat and Buner told of public floggings and rampant kidnappings. One aid worker was hanged in the street.

Certainly, many are upset with the military's tactics. One resident of Buner, Sherin Zaida, says the government gave his town three hours warning – but bullets flew within 15 minutes. He and 11 family members carried his mother, who can't walk, for two days until they reached a camp in Swabi.

Yet much of their wrath is reserved for the Taliban. Not long after the insurgents invaded Buner, two masked men approached Mr. Zaida, a court clerk, and told him: "We know which is your village and your family. Why don't you just shut down the court, put a lock on it, and go back home." The judge told him to comply. This is how law and order left Swat and Buner, one courthouse and police station at a time. "We don't want the military, we don't want the Taliban," says Zaida.


From her desk at the RAND Corporation, C. Christine Fair watches Pakistan and the prevailing zeitgeist in America about it. What she sees at the moment is fear among more than a few in Washington that the Taliban will sweep into Islamabad in some sort of ragtag swarm and seize the city. She and other scholars consider this notion almost cartoonish.

Yet there is another danger she sees lurking on the leafy streets of Islamabad, and this is the main caveat to the argument that the Taliban won't prevail in Pakistan. Call it the jihadi within. "What does it mean that they are 60 miles outside of Islamabad when there are actual cells within Islamabad?" she asks.

She's referring to infiltrators who have the capacity to conduct suicide bombings, which they could carry out frequently enough to make residents of the twin cities more wary about public spaces and private intimidation. English-language schools in Islamabad have already had to close temporarily after receiving bomb threats.

Even worse – though unlikely – Taliban cells might be able to operate with enough inside help to succeed in nabbing nuclear material as it's transported. Or they could blow up a key installation such as the Tarbela dam or sever the road between Islamabad and Peshawar.

In other words, the real threat isn't the Taliban occupying urban territory. It's their ability to attract followers and sow chaos. One reason given for the conversions: US meddling. "The mujahideen are not the products of the madrasas," says Syed Yousef Shah, who heads one of the largest religious schools. "They are the product of American actions." He argues that the militants attack Pakistan because of its cooperation with America and its intervention in the region. "A person whose house is destroyed by a drone attack and sees his parents and his brothers dead, what will he do? A suicide attack demands no lecture."

As enemies go, Talibanization may prove trickier to fight than the Taliban. Just ask Fahad Marwat. At an upscale coffee shop in Islamabad, the 20-something reaches for his cellphone and pulls up a photo of a young man with a Taliban beard. That's my cousin, he says. Over the course of a year, his cousin went from being an unemployed college graduate to Taliban sympathizer. "I was like, 'Who is this guy?' " says Mr. Marwat.

It's taken his family six months – and the counsel of "peaceful" clerics – to reverse the process. "We do make fun of him," says Marwat. "[But] he's very thankful to us for forcing him to come back."

• Rehmat Mehsud contributed to this report.