The American Kafir

2012/05/09

Arming Iraq is a mistake

Arming Iraq is a mistake

Source Article Link: Israel Hayom

By Dore Gold

As Tehran became increasingly frustrated with Turkey earlier in the week, and Iran was looking for alternative locations, besides Istanbul, to hold its nuclear talks with the West, one of the options that came up was Baghdad. It appears that since the U.S. completed the withdrawal of troops from Iraq at the end of 2011, Iran has grown increasingly comfortable, in the diplomatic sense, in the Iraqi capital. There are multiple signs indicating that Iraq is increasingly becoming a satellite state of Iran.

To begin with, there is a considerable Iranian military presence within Iraq, which commands significant political influence. In January 2012, the commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, General Qassem Sulemani, was widely quoted by the Arab press as boasting that Iran today is in control of Southern Lebanon as well as Iraq. Dr. Amal al-Hazani, a professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, wrote in al-Sharq al-Awsat on January 28, 2012, that “even Sunni politicians in Iraq confessed meekly that the Quds Force is the absolute master of Iraqi affairs.”

If that is the present state of affairs, then U.S. plans to build up the new Iraqi Air Force are particularly troubling. A senior IDF officer told Yaakov Katz, the Jerusalem Post’s military correspondent and defense analyst, that Israel is increasingly concerned with intelligence reports that the Revolutionary Guards are solidifying their presence in Iraq. The context of the Israeli concern is the Obama administration’s decision to go ahead with the sale of 36 advanced F-16 Block 52 fighters, which have the same capabilities as the F-16 fighter jets sold to Israel. Iraq is expected to need a total of six fighter squadrons to defend its airspace, which could lead to a force of up to 96 aircraft.

At this time, the commander of the Iraqi Air Force doesn’t expect the F-16s to be operational until 2015, but Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Malaki, is pressing for accelerated delivery by 2013. There are reports that the Iraqi F-16 weapons systems, like its air-to-air missiles, will have “slight downgrades,” but these can be easily fixed. With the Iranian penetration of Iraq continuing, no one should be surprised if there are reports in the future that Iranian pilots are inspecting the Iraqi F-16s in order to develop their own countermeasures to Western aircraft and weapons systems. If the administration is equipping Iraq to be a counterweight to Iran, then somebody in Washington is making a big mistake.

Arms sales to the Iraqi Air Force present a difficult dilemma for the U.S. On the one hand, arms sales are one of the oldest methods employed by the U.S. to develop pro-American attitudes among the officer corps of Arab military establishments. Early this year, Iraqi pilots arrived at an airbase in Tucson, Arizona to begin learning how to fly the F-16. They will develop relationships with their American trainers. Today in Egypt, with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, the time the U.S. has invested in training, equipping and exercising with the Egyptian Army undoubtedly has helped preserve its pro-Western orientation.

On the other hand, building close ties with the officers of Arab air forces does not guarantee the political orientation of their country in the future. In Iran, after the fall of the Shah, Ayatollah Khomeini purged the officer corps of the Iranian armed forces. In Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered the arrest of dozens of Turkish officers who he suspects might plot a coup against his Islamist government. In Iraq, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are right there on the ground, while the U.S. is thousands of miles away with only an embassy, which has been reduced in size, in Baghdad.

Israel is not the only country which should be raising its eyebrows at the prospect of a U.S.-equipped Iraqi Air Force emerging in the years ahead. Saudi Arabia should also be concerned with the Iraqi military buildup. Politically, the two countries belong to competing axes in the Arab world. Iraq is not only pro-Iranian, it also backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Indeed, when the U.S. asked Prime Minister al-Maliki to close off Iraqi air space to Iranian aircraft resupplying Assad, he refused and opted to help Iran instead.

Many forget that al-Maliki lived in exile in Iran for eight years; his party, al-Dawa, was close with Hezbollah. The Iraqi prime minister’s recent actions will undoubtedly reconfirm the suspicions of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who once called al-Maliki “an Iranian agent,” according to a March 2009 Wikileaks cable that was noted on an earlier occasion in this column.

Now the “Iranian agent” will be getting state-of-the-art American aircraft. It should be recalled that Saudi Arabia is Iran’s main adversary in the Arab world and it is a leading opponent of the Assad regime. Indeed, right after the recent Arab summit in Baghdad, al-Maliki launched a verbal tirade criticizing Saudi Arabia and Qatar for their hostile attitude toward the Assad regime. Along with its growing political differences with Baghdad, Saudi Arabia will have to face new Iraqi military capabilities along its northern border, which it hasn’t had to deal with since 1990. The new situation will allow Iran to encircle Saudi Arabia with pressures on three fronts: Bahrain in the east, Yemen in the south, and Iraq in the north.

Israel will need to carefully monitor political and military developments in Iraq. It is imperative that Israel raise this sale with Washington when the issue of Israel’s qualitative military edge is raised. Iraq has been absent from the strategic balance in the Middle East for two decades. Besides investing in its air force, the Iraqi government hopes to build a land army of 14 divisions. It is also buying Abrams tanks from the U.S.

But as much as Washington will still try to control events in a country where its army once ruled, it will have to recognize that, unfortunately, Iran, at present, is emerging as the dominant power in Baghdad, which will ultimately influence what strategic objectives the Iraqi Army will serve along Israel’s eastern front.


(From left) Prof. Joshua Teitelbaum, Efraim Inbar, Ze’ev Maghen and Eytan Gilboa .“We’re realists, not just conservatives.”Photo credit: KOKO

Sanctions or strike: Five Israeli experts weigh in on Iran

Source Article Link: Israel Hayom

By Shlomo Cesana

Israel Hayom presents a special roundtable discussion in which five Israeli experts in Middle Eastern and international politics discuss the Iranian nuclear threat, whether Israel can trust the U.S. and whether the era of American deterrence in the region is over • Meanwhile, 60 percent of Israelis believe the only way to stop Iran is by means of a military strike, according to a new poll.

Seven years ago, Professor Efraim Inbar wrote a document whose bottom line could be summed up as advocating for Israel to attack Iran to stop it from attaining a nuclear capability. This week, Inbar, a political scientist who currently serves as the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, is somewhat encouraged that more and more Israelis have now reached the same conclusion.

To bolster this line of thinking, a poll commissioned this week by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the think tank headed by Dore Gold, indicates that 60 percent of the Israeli public believes the only way to stop Iran is by means of a military strike. Inbar agreed to Israel Hayom’s request and invited four research fellows to take part in a discussion aimed at re-examining the Iranian issue.

“We are realists, not just conservatives,” Inbar said. He also offered a reminder of how his scholar colleagues were correct in their analyses of the Arab Spring, the proliferation of the arms race, the peace process, and Turkey’s shift in policy.

Every semester, Inbar begins the first lesson in his war and strategy course by informing students that there are two significant factors that govern relations between states: Who can hurt the other more; and who can withstand the pain more. He wants to apply these two equations to the Iran issue. “We need to ask ourselves, what goal have the Iranians chosen for themselves and what is the price in pain that they are willing to pay?” he said. “That is the only way we will be able to understand what it is they want to do tomorrow.”

“The way to stop Iran is by means of a military assault,” Inbar said. “I don’t believe that sanctions will help. Officials in Tehran view the bomb as their regime’s insurance policy. Their opinion was reinforced by the West’s behavior toward the Libyan regime. The former ruler of Libya, Moammar Gadhafi, gave up nuclear weapons and eventually was removed from power. If he would have developed nuclear weapons, it would be reasonable to assume that the West wouldn’t cause him any trouble.”

“If the Ayatollahs’ regime comes into possession of nuclear weapons, it will be very difficult to create an effective level of deterrence in the future,” he said. “I also don’t agree with assessments that a second strike is effective enough since this is a dynamic process that requires [Israel] to improve itself in relation to the enemy’s capabilities. Iran’s development of the bomb would trigger a nuclear arms race. In a relatively compact region [like the Middle East], deterrent systems and short distances bear critical significance.”

Trust no one

Inbar minces no words, in expressing his unequivocal view that Israel cannot trust the United States. The era of American deterrence in the region is over. In the short term, the Americans are preoccupied with elections. In the long term, it is uncertain as to whether there will still be a window of opportunity for an attack. Yet even if that window closes, the Americans still believe negotiations can solve everything.

The promises the Americans are making now will not stand up in another month. A history of U.S.-Israel relations teaches us that there have been a great number of promises that haven’t been honored, like the Bush letter regarding settlement blocs that has not been adopted by President Barack Obama.

“States act according to their interests, and they are flexible,” Inbar said. “At the end of the day, you have to be realistic. The world wants quiet. The world wants oil at a reasonable price. If Israel disrupts this calm and upsets global economic stability, the international community will do everything to prevent us from launching a military attack. Another thing is that there are people who say the Iranians are rational. But what if the person who makes this assessment is 10 percent wrong? There is no reason to trust the Iranians.”

Despite his firm beliefs, Inbar knows that the enemy can be unpredictable when it comes to its response to an Israeli or American attack. “It is reasonable to assume that Iran would react with missiles and terrorism,” he said. “We’ve already seen this. People should always remember what price we will have to pay if we don’t attack and if we don’t have nuclear weapons. There’s also the possibility that they won’t do anything and not respond at all.”

Still, Inbar does add a caveat. “On the other hand, I believe that the regime in Iran, in the event that it knows it will one day no longer be in power, is capable of fomenting destruction, and it would want to exit the stage and go down in history as the one who did damage to Israel,” he said. “That is why we mustn’t allow them to reach the stage [of getting a nuclear weapon].”

Worthless sanctions

Professor Eytan Gilboa, who also teaches at Bar-Ilan University and whose area of expertise is U.S. policy in the Middle East as well as international diplomacy, believes the U.S. cannot afford to allow Iran to gain a nuclear bomb. “If Iran goes nuclear, the U.S. would for all intents and purposes lose its position in the Middle East and its hegemony on a global level,” he said. “The Americans are aware of this possibility, and that is why they are constantly declaring they won’t allow it to happen.”

“A nuclear Iran would mean that from now on, Iran is the actor that wields the most influence on governments in the Middle East, not the U.S.,” he said. “Obviously this would give a boost to all of the extremists in the region, which would result in damage to the global economy, the world’s energy markets, and the ability of states to monitor the spread of atomic weapons by way of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.”

To boost his argument, Gilboa also cites America’s guiding principles. “The administration vows that it won’t allow Iran to go nuclear,” he said. “Here we are dealing with the credibility of the U.S. government. They say they will employ whatever means they have at their disposal. To me, this sounds more like an empty slogan. Many within the administration as well as those outside it say that it is impossible to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon. They say the price of a non-nuclear Iran would be higher than that of a nuclear Iran.”

“In the event that Iran does go nuclear, there are two choices: Either halting the program and bolstering deterrence, or containment and deterrence,” he said. “On the surface, the Americans say that containment is not an option. But in the next breath they talk out of both sides of their mouth and begin leaking stories about how they won’t allow an attack on Israel and don’t support it. Officials in Washington don’t want to reach a fork in the road where they’ll have to decide between a nuclear Iran or a military operation.”

“At this stage, the Americans want to exhaust the option of negotiating with the Iranians, and the Iranians, for their part, are not ruling out talks,” Gilboa said. “The question remains: What do you base the negotiations on? The Iranians want talks so that they can move forward with their nuclear program. The Americans want negotiations so that they can stop the nuclear program. And then you have people in Israel and abroad who say, ‘Give negotiations a chance.’ But why? Germany, the U.K., and France held talks with Iran for five years that went nowhere, and eventually they came to the conclusion that Iran was being deceptive in order to continue with its plans. So any attempt by the West to hold talks is playing into Iranian hands.”

“The sanctions and negotiations could work only if the threat of military action was hovering over the Iranians’ heads,” he said. “Since the Americans aren’t wielding this threat, the Iranians understand that while life may be a bit tougher with sanctions, that’s it. They could still move forward with their nuclear program.”

The U.S. has lost its way

Professor Joshua Teitelbaum, an expert on the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia, is less optimistic. In his view, the Americans and the Israelis are both a long way away from understanding the reality in the Middle East. “Since 2003, when the Americans invaded Iraq, the Saudis have gradually lost faith in their most important ally, the U.S. The results of American policy in the Gulf have all proven detrimental to the Saudis,” he said. “The situation has gotten so bad in the wake of the Arab Spring that Saudi Arabia finds itself considerably weakened. Riyadh has understandably asked itself, ‘Is this how the U.S. supports its allies in the region? This is how Washington supports Hosni Mubarak? This is how it supports [deposed Tunisian president Zine El Abidine] Ben Ali?”

“The Saudis are worried about the Iranian nuclear issue, but they understand that the current administration in power in the U.S. is very limited in its capabilities,” he said. “One of the results of the failed U.S. policies in the region was the Shiite uprising in Bahrain that was staged by just 12 percent of the population that lives near a wealthy, oil-producing region. Saudi Arabia views Bahrain as a kind of protectorate, so the massive Iranian presence there is akin to deploying Soviet missiles in Cuba.”

“The U.S. conduct there led them to the conclusion that they need to be more independent,” he said.

A lack of understanding

According to Prof. Ze’ev Maghen, an expert on Islam and modern Iran who currently sits as the chair of the Department of Middle Eastern History at Bar-Ilan University, the West is suffering from a terrible case of ignorance on everything taking place in Iran as well as its relationship with the West and Israel. He was irked by President Shimon Peres’ speech in Washington last month, during which he called on the Iranian people to return to their illustrious past and abandon Islamization.

“The ignorance is also evident in the intelligence assessments in the West as well as the attempt to search for a bomb,” he said. From his standpoint, one can clearly reach the conclusion that the Iranians are building a bomb just by listening to what they are saying.

“They have every reason in the world to build an atomic bomb,” he said. “If I were the president of Iran, I would also make sure my country would have a nuclear weapon. Iran is surrounded by traditional enemies, like Russia and the Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia. The Iranians are using Israel to try to unite the Muslim world under its leadership.”

“Since Mecca, which belongs to the anti-Sunni Wahhabi movement, cannot be the focal point of the Muslim world, there is one place that can unite all the aspirations of various sects in Islam, and that place is Jerusalem,” he said. “That explains [the Muslim] desire to conquer it. We are speaking in completely different languages and our worldviews are also totally different. It is hard for us to understand what a theocracy really is. The West doesn’t understand this reality, one in which a country’s population views the Quran and holy scripture as the last word.”

“Here in Israel, people are always looking for the hidden meaning behind statements,” he said. “They ask, ‘Okay, but what is really happening? Is this a political issue? An economic issue?’ This is where we make the same mistake time and again. The same goes for our attempts to understand the process taking place in Egypt. Here there were those who interpreted the events in Egypt as an oppressed population that rose up to demand its rights. There are obviously masses of people there who want their rights protected, but what they really want is the deeper meaning of life that is predicated on Islam. This is the significance of what is taking place, and it is obvious, but people here can’t quite manage to understand this.”

“From Egyptians’ standpoint, we in Israel have for a while now missed the gist,” he said. “There was a time when they referred to us as the ‘Zionist entity.’ Now they are calling us the ‘shopping mall entity.’ In other words, their reason for being is to take a trip to the shopping mall. They look at us and say, ‘They’ve lost it.’”

America’s strength

Professor Hillel Frisch is a political scientist and expert in Middle Eastern politics who teaches at Bar-Ilan University. He is a fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and the author of a book on security relations between Israel and the Palestinians. His main line of thinking is that over the last 20 years the violent struggle between Israelis and Palestinians has been replaced by an Arab cold war.

There is an ongoing struggle between the camp comprising Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and Syria, and the camp of moderate Arab states. “There is one dimension that is gaining steam all the time, and that is the Sunnis being pitted against the non-Sunnis,” he said.

According to Frisch’s theory, the Americans have adopted the view that empires fall at precisely the moment they have the upper hand, which means that they collapse from within. The sun never set on the British Empire, but the British Empire grew dark from within.

According to Frisch, the Americans are preoccupied with battling another empire – China. Still, he notes: “We have the Iranian problem, which threatens to change the reality in the cold war between Sunnis and Shiites. The Americans know there is a tremendous gap between the economic might of the Saudis and their allies and their military capabilities. So they will continue to preserve their superiority.”

Frisch diverges from his colleagues on this issue. “The Americans have an obligation,” he said. “People think that the U.S. is on the decline from the standpoint of being ready to act, but still they have the ability to do this.”

“The U.S. in the era following its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is a country with significant power,” he said. “I believe that the U.S. will take care of the Iranian threat if necessary, and it wouldn’t be a difficult battle for the Americans. In my view, the Iranians understand the balance of power perfectly. Unfortunately for us, they are smart enough to get the U.S. not to attack.

2012/03/24

Former Iraqi PM Warns Iran ‘Swallowing’ His Country

Source CNS

Former Iraqi PM Warns Iran ‘Swallowing’ His Country

Iraqi former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi warned Iran is “swallowing” his country and the United States is ignoring it. He said he believes Iran is working through its Shiite allies in Iraq.

According to The Washington Times, Allawi said Iran is mostly responsible for what he calls an “emerging dictatorship” in Iraq.

Attacks have rocked the country since Iraqi leaders told all U.S. troops to leave last December. Meanwhile, Allawi said there is no democracy in Iraq.

“To be honest, people speak about Arab Spring,” Allawi said. “What spring is this?”

“Spring is associated with green, renewal of life. We are having blood pouring everywhere in the region and destruction and dismemberment of countries, and chaos is happening,” he told the Times.

Iraq’s vice-president is in hiding after being charged with terrorism against Shiites, a charge some say is politically motivated.

Allawi, who is Sunni, claimed the U.S. allowed the Shiite majority in Iraq to violate a power sharing agreement two years ago. The U.S. State Department has rejected Allawi’s claims.

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2012/03/21

Muslim Persecution of Christians

Source Article Link: FrontPageMag

Muslim Persecution of Christians

By Raymond Ibrahim

The following article was originally published by the Stonegate Institute.

Half of Iraq’s indigenous Christians are gone due to the unleashed forces of jihad, many of them fleeing to nearby Syria; yet, as the Assad regime comes under attack by al-Qaeda and others, the jihad now seeps into Syria, where Christians are experiencing a level of persecution unprecedented in the nation’s modern history.   Likewise, some 100,000 Christian Copts have fled their native Egypt since the overthrow of the Mubarak regime; and in northern regions of Nigeria, where the jihadi group Boko Haram has been slaughtering Christians, up to 95 % of the Christian population has fled.

Meanwhile, the “big news” concerning the Muslim world in the month of February—the news that flooded the mainstream media and had U.S. politicians, beginning with President Obama, flustered, angry, and full of regret—was that copies of the Koran in Afghanistan were burned by U.S. soldiers because imprisoned Muslim inmates were using them  “to facilitate extremist communications.”

Categorized by theme, February’s batch of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed in alphabetical order by country, not severity.

Church Attacks

Algeria: Armed men raided and ransacked a church formally recognized since 1958, dismantling the crucifix above the premises.  The pastor and his family, trapped inside, feared that “they could kill us.” The pastor “has been repeatedly threatened and attacked since being ordained as pastor in 2007. In the summer of 2009 his wife was beaten and seriously injured by a group of unknown men. Then, in late 2011, heaps of trash were thrown over the compound walls while an angry mob shouted death threats.”

Egypt: Thousands of Muslims attacked a Coptic church, demanding the death of its pastor, who, along with “nearly 100 terrorized Copts sought refuge inside the church, while Muslim rioters were pelting the church with stones in an effort to break into the church, assault the Copts and torch the building.” They did this because a Christian girl who, according to Islamic law, automatically became a Muslim when her father converted to Islam, fled and was rumored to be hiding in the church.

Iran:  Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence has ordered the last two officially registered churches holding Friday Farsi-language services in Tehran—Farsi being the nation’s language—to discontinue the language: “Friday services in Tehran attracted the city’s converts to Christianity as well as Muslims interested in Christianity, as Friday is most Iranians’ day off during the week.” Banning church use of Farsi prevents most Iranians from hearing the Gospel.

Kazakhstan: A new report notes that “Churches are being raided, leaders fined and Christian literature confiscated as the Kazakh authorities enforce new laws intended further to restrict religious freedom in the country.”

Kuwait: A parliamentarian is set to submit a draft law banning the construction of churches.  Originally, Osama al-Munawer announced on Twitter his plans on submitting a draft law calling for the removal of all churches in Kuwait. However, he later “clarified,” saying that existing churches can remain, but the construction of new ones must be banned.

Macedonia: A two-century-old Christian church famed for its valuable icons was set on fire in response to “a carnival in which Orthodox Christian men dressed as women in burkas and mocked the Koran.”  Earlier, “perpetrators attacked a[nother] church in the nearby village of Labunista, destroying a cross standing outside” and “also defaced a Macedonian flag outside Struga’s municipal building, replacing it with a green flag representing Islam.”

Nigeria: A Muslim suicide bomber forced his way into the grounds of a major church, killing two women and an 18-month-old child during Sunday morning service; some 50 people were injured in the blast. In a separate incident, Muslims detonated a bomb outside a church building, injuring five, one critically: “The bomb, planted in a parked car, was left by suspected members of Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria.”

Pakistan: A dozen armed Muslims stormed a church, seriously wounding two Christians: one man was shot and is in critical condition, the other risks having his arm amputated; another church member was thrown from the roof, after being struck repeatedly with a rifle butt. “The extremist raid was sparked by charges that [the] church was trying to evangelize Muslims in an attempt to convert them to Christianity. The community several times in the past has been the subject of assault and the pastor and his family the subject of death threats.”  As usual, the police, instead of pursuing the perpetrators, have opened an investigation against the pastor and 20 other church members.

Syria: Some 30 armed and masked jihadis attacked a Catholic monastery—unprecedented in Syria’s modern history—demanding money. According to the Catholic Archbishop of Damascus, “the situation in the country is spiraling out of control as the armed opposition spreads its influence to different regions of the state.”

Dhimmitude

[General Abuse, Debasement, and Suppression of non-Muslims as “Tolerated” Citizens]

Bangladesh: Three American Christians were injured after their car was attacked by a Muslim mob that suspected they were converting Muslims into Christians: at least 200 angry locals chased the missionaries’ car and threw stones at it, leaving three with cuts from broken glass.

Egypt: Rather than punishing the perpetrators who opened fire on and ran tanks over Christians protesting the constant destruction of their churches, the government arrested and is trying two priests in connection to the Maspero massacre. And although Egypt’s new parliament has 498 seats, only six are Copts, though Copts make up at the very least 10% of the population, and so should have approximately 50 seats.  Finally, evincing how bad the situation is, Coptic protesters organized a demonstration in front of Parliament to protest “the disappearance and abduction of Coptic girls.”

Indonesia: The Islamist Prosperous Justice Party complained about the Red Cross’ symbol of a cross, saying it is too identifiable with Christian culture and traditions. Red Cross volunteers and activists rejected the claim, saying that any changes to the logo would be “tantamount to giving in to the extremists.”

Iran: A pastor of a major house church movement began serving a five-year prison sentence for “crimes against the order.”  According to one activist,  “His ‘crimes’ were being a pastor and possessing Christian materials.” He is being beat in jail and getting sick, to the point that his hair has “turned fully gray.”

Israel: A mob of some 50 Palestinian Muslims stoned a group of Christian tourists atop Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, wounding three Israeli police officers in the process. The attack is believed to have been instigated by the former Muslim mufti of Jerusalem.

Pakistan: Yet another Christian woman, a teacher, has been targeted by Muslims due to allegations that she burned a Koran.  A mob stormed her school in an attempt to abduct her, but police took her into custody. Also, a Christian student who missed the grade to get into medical school by less than 0.1% would have earned 20 extra points if he had memorized the Koran—though no bonus points for having similar knowledge of the Bible.

Turkey: A new report notes that “Christians in Turkey continue to suffer attacks from private citizens, discrimination by lower-level government officials and vilification in both school textbooks and news media,” adding that there is a “root of intolerance” in Turkish society toward adherents of non-Islamic faiths: “The removal of this root of intolerance is an urgent problem that still awaits to be dealt with.”

Turkmenistan: A 77-year-old Christian man was detained and questioned by police for six hours after he tried to print copies of a small book of Christian poetry. He was forced to write a statement and banned from travelling outside his home region while the case is being investigated.

Uganda: Not long after a pastor was attacked with acid and blinded by “Allahu-Akbar” screaming Muslims, his friend, another pastor, was shot at by “Islamic extremists,” 
in what is being described as “a new wave of persecution against Christians in Uganda.”

 Murder, Apostasy Issues, and More

Egypt:  Two Christians were killed “after a Muslim racketeer opened fire on them for refusing to pay him extortion money.” The local bishop “hold[s] security forces and local Muslims fully responsible for terrorizing the Copts living there, who are continuously being subjected to terror and kidnapping.”

Iran: After enduring five months of uncertainty in a prison, a Christian convert who was arrested in her home by security authorities has been sentenced to two years in prison by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Authorities further arrested six to ten Christian converts from Islam while they were meeting for worship at a home in the southern city of Shiraz.

And Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani awaits execution for refusing to renounce Christianity.

Nigeria: A 79-year-old Christian woman and choir singer was found dead at her home, her throat slit with a note in Arabic left on her chest reading: “We will get you soon,” a message believed to be directed at her son, a pastor at a local church.

Somalia: Al-Shabaab Muslims beheaded a 26-year-old Muslim convert to Christianity who had worked for a Christian humanitarian organization that the terrorist organization had banned.  He is at least the third apostate to Christianity to be beheaded in Somalia in recent months.

Turkey: A 12-year-old boy, Hussein, publicly professed his Christian faith by wearing a silver cross necklace in school.  Accordingly, Muslim classmates began taunting and spitting on him. When the boy threatened to report one of the bullies, the bully’s father threatened to kill him. His religion teacher beat him severely: “Like in most Islamic countries, students of all faiths are required to attend Islamic studies in school. Those who refuse to recite the Koran and Islamic prayers are often beaten by the teacher. And so it was for Hussein. He said he was punished regularly with a two-foot long rod because he wouldn’t say the Islamic Shahada.”

About this Series

Because the persecution of Christians in the Islamic world is on its way to reaching epidemic proportions, “Muslim Persecution of Christians” was developed to collate some—by no means all—of the instances of Muslim persecution of Christians that surface each month. It serves two purposes:

  1. Intrinsically, to document that which the mainstream media does not: the habitual, if not chronic, Muslim persecution of Christians.
  2. Instrumentally, to show that such persecution is not “random,” but systematic and interrelated—that it is rooted in a worldview inspired by Sharia.

Accordingly, whatever the anecdote of persecution, it typically fits under a specific theme, including hatred for churches and other Christian symbols; sexual abuse of Christian women; forced conversions to Islam; apostasy and blasphemy laws; theft and plunder in lieu of jizya (tribute); overall expectations for Christians to behave like cowed “dhimmis” (barely tolerated citizens); and simple violence and murder. Oftentimes it is a combination thereof.

Because these accounts of persecution span different ethnicities, languages, and locales—from Morocco in the west, to India in the east, and throughout the West, wherever there are Muslims—it should be clear that one thing alone binds them: Islam—whether the strict application of Islamic Sharia law, or the supremacist culture born of it.

Previous Reports

January, 2012

December, 2011

November, 2011

October, 2011

September, 2011

August, 2011

July, 2011

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the DHFC, is a widely published author on Islam, and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. Join him as he explores the “Intersection”—the pivotal but ignored point where Islam and Christianity meet—including by examining the latest on Christian persecution, translating important Arabic news that never reaches the West, and much more.

2011/11/27

Iranian Corps Commander stating that “only the Qods Force was involved in Iraq,”

Filed under: Iran, Iraq, IRGC, National Security, Obama — - @ 7:55 pm

Source Link: AsrIran

Describe the different sections of the country and Corps Commander

Corps Commander stating that “only the Qods Force was involved in Iraq,” said the Americans have done, but ultimately failed, and that despite all these pressures was a great success.

Commander of Iranian Revolutionary Guards of the Islamic Revolution, said Shahid Hasan Thranymqdm efforts result in specific defense projects will be announced in the near future.

According to ISNA, the General Conference of Major General Jafari’s enduring message of December the second anniversary of the Student Basij Jabrabn Hayyan Hall University spoke with congratulations and condolences to the testimony of martyrs Qadir said the recent bombing incident was a particularly painful incident prior to the testimony of martyrs.

He was a unique individual Thranymqdm Shahid Hassan and his experience was that of a holy war in defense of a particular subject and a few years he had tried to develop this capability.

Referring to Shaheed Thranymqdm high spirits continued during the last few years, about ten days before the explosion of technology that had become lost and had to conclude that happiness and said that it all works, and only when all For testing needs.

He expressed that “we still can not announce the details of this technology,” said: The results of these efforts will be announced in the near future, but you should know that things were normal and the incident that happened only because the enemy had no involvement in the The problem is that Israel wanted to win it all does not dare to do such things.

Corps Commander said: Designer and scientific forces that this technology is in their hands, and with all the new organization of work is being continued in the future we will see the results.

Parsley to the Islamic awakening in the area and stated: revolutions in various categories will be analyzed, but in a sort of time is divided into three sections. The first section of this classification system to the development and consolidation of the Islamic Revolution and the great movement of God to prepare the infrastructure and its deployment is concerned, despite all Dshmnyhayy that each one of them was sufficient to stop the continued their way.

The elimination of nationalist, captured spy nest, and the failure of liberalism and the hypocrites from the actions described in section 8-year revolution occurred, and said: Each of these actions could easily defeat a revolution, but At this point, we had good growth in the Revolution and promise of the revolution to world war we’ve issued.

He “was the first stage of our revolution” that was the issue, but other nations did not believe in the mind and words, and especially those who rely on Many look to God there was no doubt that the continuation of this revolution finds or not.

The second section describes the parsley and said that this stage lasted about 15 years since the beginning of the 68th and continued until about age 83, was stopped at this point or revolution or move slowly or to the bottom and the half-life in situ handling, stop or leave the supreme leader, despite repeated reminders, especially the executive authorities.

Iranian Revolutionary Guards chief commander of the Islamic Revolution of neglect and disregard of the principles and values ​​under the pretext of the need for reconstruction and development of the country with the Western model of the most important factor in the Failing to stop at this point, as he said.

He added: In the second section of the diversion approach, we have problems and the black revolution and reform movements of May, which was 8 years ago, there was some work to stop the revolution officially announced and the only one who The incident was stood in front of the Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution Chfyhay means to fight the opposition to put the neck.

He continued to promote secularism and try out the system of religious democracy and pale to the documentation that clerical authority after a 88 intrigue and it still remains a part of it which I hope later to be part of the events The second point is.

Jafari pointed out: The issues that arose in the zone nations had a right to be skeptical of the Islamic Revolution and its success. Within ourselves because we were also troubled by doubt, and this lasted for about 16 years and therefore can not be expected because of Egypt’s historical message of the Iranian nation and at the same time listen to the people of the revolution was Nkrdyd and the hopelessness of this period. Later this period of stress in the nuclear debate was partly put on their leaves, and this also was another shameful since the reform period.

Jafari said the third point in the description: This section was about 83 years and the great danger of deviating from his path and stopping it after it was found that between 82 and 83 in the Seventh House their main route this time moving back and forward movement that accelerated during this period of time is golden.

He expressed that “the values ​​in the third period was reactivated by the people and officials,” said the approach to the valuable discussions and it was quickly followed by the supreme leader was very clever actions helped.

Corps Commander stating that “executive officials associated with the rapid motion of the third degree and hopes to help other nations to” said sections in the opposition and resistance against the route was changed and this was very serious resistance until that the media was drawn. Clear reflection of the positions in the past 7 years rapid development and impact on other nations, where it helped in any other era, perhaps this was not enough.

Jaafari also said the third level of military and economic threats and arrogance at the top of the rise and its effects in the 78 years since we’ve seen in 88 years and in addition to these direct military threats to Iran by the United States around the its peak was a fabricated story of September 11 was the presence in Iraq and Afghanistan was just an excuse.

He expressed that “America will leave Iraq without any achievement,” said something to them in Afghanistan will not achieve their goal of attending one of these countries to stop the diversion of passive smoking or the revolution.

He expressed that “sanctions and pressure in the third degree in all aspects of political, cultural, economic, and security was at its peak,” said the officials and people standing on the main issue was the failure of the war in Iraq today, the hard The softness in the political field between Iran and America and Americans in Iraq were fighting a holy war and the rest of the Haj Qassem Soleimani, and ate its impact on politics and not military.

Corps Commander stating that “only the Qods Force was involved in Iraq,” said the Americans have done, but ultimately failed, and that despite all these pressures was a great success.

Jafari said the following: Over the past 8 years of internal conflict between the hardness of the thinking or the opposite view and favor the view that the stop was in front of them and also there was a path back to the Revolution, during the reform era because his time was almost one way and the government in power after 83 years, but the value fell to the forces, but they had resisted the temptation to Ryyshhha and measures the height of the conflict and confrontation was 88. 88 enemies to intrigue, and even much hope for it had formed a shadow government.

Sardar Jafari, stating that “seditious 88 sequence was 30 years old,” said the end of January 9 was seditious movement of people did that and came out victorious from this trial difficult to divine the main theme of clerical support in the day because they knew the enemy was aimed at the opposition to put the province. 88 intrigue and oppressed Shiites in many hearts trembled and were extremely worried about the fate of the great personalities so that Hassan Nasrallah said he had been contacted and expressed concern and even cry.

Jafari stressed: an end to sedition, 88, 9 January was valid in that line of thinking took hold.

He continued with the analysis of Islamic awakening lasted only a year and this year even as the reliability of the oppressed nations said they wanted to be sure whether this will pass or not pass? The awakening began and the end of 89 years.

He expressed that “the first 90 years into the fourth stage of the Islamic awakening movement have become,” he said: I had a pest control pest at ninety years of proud history and unique achievements of the Islamic Revolution, pride by people who have an effective role in the and some others had in 88 years and had fallen in 90 years.

Corps Commander stating that “the events of the 90 most disappointed” that the people and authorities in the long term we should be cooked and tempered Ryzshhayy’ve been, but certainly the most growth.

He expressed that “the consequences of 90 years starting 33 years of endurance,” said: If the pride of the pest and the pest have not passed Camera Phone feat Neyo Yet it also has its effects even on the outside, and certainly I believe we transferred to the world that can stand against the American and world domination.

Parsley in another part of his speech pointed out that “the nature of events in Europe and America are different,” continued the corrupt system of capitalism and imperialism are tired and discouraged, and the inefficiencies that have realized the need for this nation for 30 years Today we see people stand up and shout and blessing of the blood of martyrs and heroes stand up to people and the provinces of Iran have realized that he could stand the pressure.

He expressed that “the Basij and Revolutionary Guards are the official guardians,” said the Basij and Revolutionary Guards that their destiny is tied up with the decisive role that has found its way through the exam is difficult. But this question, especially for the student Basij is a duty they are today?

He expressed that “the situation is not acceptable today,” said the forces defending the very idea of ​​what they currently have Rsalthayy Brdvsh, keep expanding and deepening the Islamic Revolution in one of the hard work and our main stage in the Supreme Brshmrdhand revolution led to the Revolution, and the third stage of consolidation and the establishment of an Islamic state. It has successfully passed that stage now for the third stage of the Islamic government in the executive branch not only try.

He pointed out: we must protect the progress in its efforts to deepen the revolutionary spirit and idealism, and this just might.

He expressed that “the country’s bureaucracy is difficult, and today this task is to mobilize the students,” said my 58 years in the Tehran University’s Cultural Revolution and Chrndyaty that was given to the students wanted the university to close the micro and Bstym .

He is one of the misfortunes of our country is that nothing has been done in the humanities. Students should begin their work for change in the humanities.

Jafari pointed out at the end of his speech: In defense of the revolution has passed the stage of Jihad and its main areas of current scientific and cultural forms. The main problem today is the management issues and you should prepare yourself for solving this crisis.

At the end of the mobilization of students who presented papers and business officials who were honored.

2011/10/10

Iran’s 2012 Jihad in Iraq

Filed under: Iran, Iraq, Jihad, National Security, Obama, United States Military — - @ 6:47 pm

Source Article Link: FrontPageMag.Com

Iran’s 2012 Jihad in Iraq

Written By Ryan Mauro

al-Sadr

Moqtada al-Sadr is back and is thirsty for the blood of American soldiers in Iraq. The Iranian-backed cleric says he will revive his Mehdi Army militia and starting on January 1, 2012, he’s coming after every single one of the 3 to 4,000 U.S. soldiers remaining in Iraq.

On October 4, all of Iraq’s political parties but one agreed that U.S. trainers should be asked to stay past the 2011 deadline for withdrawal. The Iraqi government did not, however, agreed to give them immunity from prosecution as demanded by the U.S. The faction dissenting was the Sadrist bloc, the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr. He has vowed to attack any American soldier on Iraqi soil come 2012, even if they are trainers and not combat soldiers. The Obama Administration envisions reducing forces to 3-4,000, rebuffing the request of General Lloyd Austin to have 14-18,000 troops.

Al-Sadr has shown what he is capable of. He led a radical Shiite uprising that nearly threw the country into civil war, and has positioned himself as a powerful force in Iraqi politics. At its height, his Mehdi Army was 60,000-strong, far more than the force Al-Qaeda in Iraq mustered. Since he disbanded the militia, splinter groups have kept fighting. He went to Iran around the time of the 2007 surge, where he began studying in Qom to receive the title of Grand Ayatollah. With that addition to his resume, he has returned to Iraq to expel U.S. forces and become the religious leader of the Iraqi Shiites.

The U.S. military detected a mobilization of Al-Sadr’s forces in the south earlier this year when they attacked rival Shiites. The rhetoric of Moqtada al-Sadr became more and more heated. He threatened to “escalate military resistance” and one of his aides said, “We are all time bombs and detonators at the hands of Moqtada al-Sadr.” His website published a letter from a supporter expressing his eagerness to become a martyr once the jihad is declared and that no public property or civilians will be targeted. Al-Sadr’s response was to thank him.

Iranian proxies increased their attacks on U.S. forces when summer began. Kataib Hezbollah, whose leader resides in Iran, used Iranian arms. Two other proxies, the Promised Day Brigade and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, took credit for a string of rocket and mortar firings. The death toll for the month was the highest since 2008. Defense Secretary Panetta and General Lloyd Austin, commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, spoke cryptically about how they’d respond. In August, the Iranian-backed attacks significantly declined. The Iranians backed down, but they also must have sensed that it was better to wait until 2012 when there are less American soldiers and attacks will be more acceptable.

It is unknown if al-Sadr can assemble the force he did before, but Iranian-backed proxies can make up the difference. Kaitab Hezbollah numbers only 1,000, but its training by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and armaments make it a threatening force. Asaib Ahl al-Haq gets $5 million every single month, along with weapons, from the Iranian regime. Al-Sadr and these proxies will capitalize upon the anger of Iraqis who disagree with the prolonged stay of the U.S. military.

Moqtada al-Sadr can also cause massive political instability by undermining the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The massive protests in February against government inefficiency were a symptom of discontent. The Sadrists helped al-Maliki win a second term, but will never forget how he ordered the Iraqi military to crush the Mehdi Army. The Sadrists have 40 deputies in parliament and seven ministers in al-Maliki’s government. By withdrawing support for the unity government, he can cause a major political crisis and potentially bring al-Maliki down if he does not bend to his will.

The U.S. is putting together a covert campaign to deal with Iranian meddling as troop levels decrease. Reportedly, this will include secret operations to stop arms shipments to Iranian proxies. Some officials want the campaign to be regional in scope, targeting Iranian support to the Syrian government and terrorist groups outside of Iraq. The administration rejected this idea, and is limiting operations to Iraq.

The Iranian jihad could compel the Sunnis to again take up arms, perhaps embracing militias and Islamic extremists like Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The New York Times interviewed Iraqis around the country and found that many are afraid of Iranian domination. As a result, Iraqi public opinion has warmed up to the idea of extending the stay of American forces. However, this is not a large majority and so Iran’s proxies will have plenty of anger to use to their advantage. Iraqi Shiite opinion is very hostile to Iranian meddling, but a desire to expel U.S. forces among could override this hostility for some. Much will depend upon what the pro-withdrawal Shiites feel are appropriate means and whether it is worth rewarding Iran with greater influence.

Iraq gets little attention these days, but if Moqtada al-Sadr and his Iranian patrons have their way, that will suddenly and dramatically change beginning on January 1, 2012.

2011/08/20

Islamic Persecution of Christianity.

Written By Walt Long

This morning I was reading another article concerning Christian Persecution by Muslims. This posting is an attempt to bring to sunlight the many atrocities, as in many infections, sunlight helps in the disinfecting, not only on flesh, but in society as a whole. Most of these atrocities are being swept under the rug by the Mainstream Media. If you click on the title it will take you to the actual article, I have only included what I personally felt was the highlight of the article. With the many persecutions of Christianity I will be updating the article from time to time.

Before I start with the various headlines and highlights of the articles in order to mute many of the Progressive Liberal’s of the Left and atheist’s, I would like to post a great article titled Comparing Islam With Other Faiths, written by an Iranian Ali Sina when he was being questioned by a fellow Iranian, I skipped to questions 3 and 4 with Ali Sina’s response.

3. I must say i am really sorry for saying this but i think you are very wrong for thinking that christianity and judaism ares better than islam….judaism have pedophilia, christianity does and islam….three of the religions have killings…..how come only islam is bad and the rest are good?

4. Why do you never criticize christianity or judaism? they have scientific errors, encourage killing and have peadophilia in them

There is no comparison between Islam and Judaism or Christianity.  Just look at the followers of these religions. One has to really twist the meaning of the New Testament to commit crime in the name of God, as some Christians do. If one follows the spirit of the teachings of Jesus one becomes a better person. The example of a good Christian is Mother Theresa. The example of a good Muslim is Khomeini, Ahmadinejad and Osama bin Laden.

You can distinguish between a good tree and a bad tree by their fruits.  Look at Muslims and compare them to Christians, Jews or the followers of other religions. Muslims as a norm are angry hateful people. Those Muslims who are good people are often nominal Muslims who do not practice Islam. This can’t be said about the followers of other faiths.  There are bad apples everywhere, but they are exceptions.  Among Muslims, it is an exception to find good people.

This is not something we have to argue about. All one has to do is watch the news and read the history. Muslims behave as a less evolved sub species of human race. This is not genetic. It is all the nefarious influence of Islam on them.

Call to pray for Pakistan’s besieged Christians

Police are seeking to whitewash the assassination of Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, says Elizabeth Kendal

By: Elizabeth Kendal, Religious Libert Prayer Bulletin
ASSIST News Service
Saturday, 27 August 2011

Sharia Law prohibits Christians testifying against Muslims in court. Consequently, in an Islamic state Muslims are essentially guaranteed impunity for crimes committed against Christians.

As would be expected, impunity and legal discrimination then fuels further persecution. The resulting profound insecurity is doubtless the most devastating aspect of dhimmitude (subjugation under Islam).

Furthermore, as Islamic fundamentalism rises in constitutionally secular Muslim-majority states, Sharia provisions are increasingly being enforced to appease politically powerful hardline Islamists, even though these provisions conflict with the law of the land. Weak and fearful governments are increasingly opting for ‘reconciliation’ and ‘harmony’ over justice.

As the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) recently noted, ‘Legal discrimination against religious minorities and the failure of Pakistan’s federal and provincial governments to address religious persecution by Islamist groups, effectively enables atrocities against these groups and others who are vulnerable.’

The police are now seeking to whitewash the 2 March 2011 assassination of Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti (a Christian) by shifting the blame from those who claimed responsibility – militants linked to the Tehrik-i-Taliban – to Bhatti’s Christian relatives.

Bhatti died because he was defending Asia Bibi, a Christian woman jailed in June 2009 on a charge of blasphemy. Asia has been languishing on death row since her conviction in November 2010. Her refusal to convert to Islam had earned the hatred of her Muslim co-labourers. One day they refused to drink the water she delivered, claiming it was contaminated because Asia was an infidel. Asia responded that her Jesus was the Son of God while their Muhammad was no prophet.

After her arrest, a local Muslim leader offered to pay US$6000 to anyone who killed her. Two of the three MPs who have risen to defend Asia have been assassinated, leaving the remaining MP, Sherry Rehman, fearing for her life. Not safe even in the local jail, Asia has been transferred to Multan Prison. Her husband, Ashiq, and five children have been driven into hiding.

Mukhtar Masih is an ordained pastor of the Full Gospel Assemblies of Pakistan. While running a small fellowship from his house in Gloria Colony, Sheikhupura, Punjab, he also established and ran the Good Shepherd High School. Islamic fundamentalists complained about the school’s Christian activities whilst other Muslims coveted the school’s land.

Eventually these hostile forces used Islamic militants to threaten and terrorise Mukhtar Masih until he fled Pakistan for his life, taking his daughter Mary with him. Mukhtar’s sons, Samuel and Emmanuel, and his brother Araf Masih then took on running the school.

Directed by Muslim lawyer Muhammad Ashraf, the Islamic militants eventually forced Mukhtar’s relatives to sign over the property and make the Muslims shareholders in the business. Mukhtar’s relatives have also had to sell their homes to meet the Muslims’ extortion demands. Muhammad Ashraf has occupied the school and changed its name to Focus School System.

The National Director of the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), Joseph Francis, brought the case before the local court, which cancelled the agreement and ordered the return of the property.

Muhammad Ashraf responded by sending armed militants to kill Mukhtar’s relatives, who fortunately managed to escape. Now he has started filing false charges against the Christians, including robbery and murder. From experience, the great danger is that they will be accused of blasphemy also, an emotive charge that carries a mandatory death sentence.

Please pray specifically that:

God will anoint more Pakistani MPs, lawyers, writers and artists to speak up for justice to great effect for the sake of Pakistan’s besieged Church.

‘Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped . . .to open doors before him . . . I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me . . . I equip you, though you do not know me, that people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.’ (From Isaiah 45:1-6 ESV)

the Holy Spirit will draw all the Church in Pakistan to rely on God who raises the dead and delivers his people in answer to prayer (2 Corinthians 1:8-11).

God will provide all the needs of Asia Bibi, Mukhtar Masih and their families and deliver them from evil; may the Lord’s ‘own arm’ deliver justice against the wicked and recompense for the persecuted.

Say to those who have an anxious heart, ‘Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.’ (Isaiah 35:4 ESV)

Muslim Extremists from Niger Help Kill Christians in Nigeria

Boy, 10, and security guard for local official among those slain.

KADUNA, Nigeria, August 31 (CDN) — Armed Muslims from Niger entered Nigeria’s Kaduna state this month to help Islamists there invade Christian communities, where they killed two Christians, including a 10-year-old boy, area sources said.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 21, the Muslim extremists entered Fadiya Bakut village in Bajju district of the Zango-Kataf Local Government Area, and attacked the home of Andrew Allahmagani, the district head in Fadiya, Allahmagani told Compass by telephone.

Allahmagani said he was sleeping that morning when he suddenly heard gunshots near his residence.

“They [the attackers] later moved around the house shooting into windows and doors, including that of my wife,” he said. “Afterward, they moved to the quarters of my brother, where they shot and killed my nephew, Fidelis Ishaku, who was 10 years old, and shot and injured my mother, who is 70.”

A Christian security guard at the house, 52-year-old Zaman Kaki, was also killed in the attack by about 10 assailants armed with guns, cutlasses and other dangerous weapons, Allahmagani said. Kaki leaves behind a wife and four children.

The slain boy’s grandmother, Laraba Ishaku, received a life-threatening wound in the thigh but survived after receiving treatment at Zonkwa Medical Center, he said. Also receiving hospital treatment for wounds was Bartholomew Ishaku, 20, and 31-year-old Clement Yohanna, he said.

Eyewitness Danjuma Sarki told Compass that about 30 spent shells were recovered from the scene of the attack, which kept many Christians from meeting for church services that day.

Read it all here

Muslims Beat Christian With Rods for Refusing Islam

Angry Muslims
Two Christian men were seriously injured by young Muslim men this month in Karachi when they refused to convert to Islam, a family member told Compass.

Liaqat Munawar, a resident of Essa Nagri in Karachi, told Compass by telephone that his brother, Ishfaq Munawar, and another young Christian man, Naeem Masih, were returning home after an early morning prayer service at their church in Sohrab Goth on Aug. 14, Pakistan’s Independence Day, when ethnic Pashtun youths near Sea View harassed and later attacked them.

“Ishfaq and Naeem were riding a motorcycle when six Pashtun youths signaled them to stop,” Liaqat Munawar said. “They asked the two boys to identify themselves. Ishfaq told them that they were Christians returning from their church after a special prayer service.”

The Muslims asked them why they were in Sea View, and they replied that they had made a brief stopover to participate in Independence Day celebrations at the beach, he said.

“The Pashtun youths then started questioning them about their faith and later tried to force them to recite the Kalma [Islamic conversion creed] and become Muslims, telling them that this was the only way they could live peacefully in the city,” Liaqat Munawar said. “They also offered monetary incentives and ‘protection’ to Ishfaq and Naeem, but the two refused to renounce Christianity.”

After cajoling the two Christians for some time, the Pashtuns sat in a white car parked nearby and eventually drove away. Ishfaq Munawar and Masih got back onto their motorcycle and were about to start it, Liaqat Munawar said, when suddenly the young Muslims reversed their car and rammed it into the Christians.

“The Muslims got out of the car armed with iron rods and attacked Ishfaq and Naeem, shouting that they should either recite the Kalma or be prepared to die,” Liaqat Munawar said.

He said the Pashtuns severely beat the two Christians, fracturing Ishfaq Munawar’s jaw and breaking five teeth, and seriously injuring Masih. He added that the two Christians fell unconscious, and the young Muslim men left assuming they had killed them.

Liaqat Munawar said his brother underwent jaw surgery at Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and is now recovering. He said the family had not registered a case with police, fearing reprisal by the Muslims, but were now considering filing a formal complaint.

This was not the first time Liaqat Munawar’s family has witnessed religious violence, he said, as Pashtun Muslims last year attacked his cousin, Eric Sarwar, founder and executive director of the Tehillim School of Church Music and Worship, which is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of Pakistan.

Liaqat Munawar also spoke of an incident in which Muslim Pashtuns shot at a Christian funeral passing through their area without any reason, injuring six Christians.

Elvis Steven, a Christian rights activist in Karachi, told Compass that he was in contact with the Munawar family, and that although he had yet to speak with the victims directly, he would attempt all possible means to have the assailants arrested.

“The situation is not that bad for Christians living in areas controlled by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement [MQM], but those living in areas dominated by the Pashtuns are under constant threat,” Steven said. “The Pashtuns are extremist in their beliefs. They have a militant mindset, and there have been several incidents of religious violence involving the Pashtuns in Karachi.”

While this violence was clearly religiously motivated, Karachi, Pakistan’s financial hub, has been roiled by ethnic violence this year. Ethnic gangs backed by political parties have reportedly ratcheted up their turf wars, with the MQM, said to represent the majority ethnic Mohajirs, increasingly assailed by Pashtun and ethnic Baloch gangs.

Political parties representing all three groups, including the MQM, are fighting over rights to extort money from businesses and homes in Karachi, violence that some have falsely portrayed as religiously motivated violence.

Christians make up only 2.45 percent of Pakistan’s population, which is more than 95 percent Muslim, according to Operation World.

Christian Genocide in Somalia

In 2008, al Shabab members sliced the head off of Mansuur Mohammed, a 25 year-old convert to Christianity. According to witnesses, the insurgents took a video of the slaughter and circulated it in Somalia purportedly to instill fear among those contemplating conversion from Islam to Christianity.

In July 2009, al Shabab beheaded seven prisoners it accused of abandoning the Muslim faith; in August 2009 four Somali Christian women working for an NGO orphanage were beheaded after refusing to renounce their faith; and in July 2009 a 40-year-old Christian mother of 10 and her 23-year-old daughter, who was six months pregnant at the time, were both raped and held captive for five days before the terrorists left them for dead.

In July 2010, Muhammad Guul Hashim Idiris, a Christian convert from Islam, was taken by al Shabab members to a makeshift soccer stadium, attended by hundreds, and executed. A statement from Sheik Adan Yare, the al Shabab governor of the Bakol region, read: “Our holy warriors have today…executed in front of angry Muslim witnesses a young man who insulted our beloved prophet.”

In September 2010 al Shabab members broke into the home of Osman Abdullah Fataho, an active participant in the underground Christian community, and shot him dead in front of his wife and four children. The terrorists then took Fataho’s children as recruits to be trained as child soldiers in its organization.

In January 2011 insurgents slit the throat of Asha Mberwa, a recent convert to Christianity and mother of four; in March 2011 al Shabab insurgents shot Madobe Abdi to death. Abdi’s alleged crime was not that he was a convert from Islam but rather was an orphan raised as a Christian.

Finally, in May 2011 militants shot and killed Yusuf Ali Nur on suspicion he was a Christian as well as killing 21-year old Christian convert Hassan Adawe Adan, dragging Adan outside and shooting him several times before shouting Allahu Akbar (“God is great”).

African Jihad Gathers Pace: Muslims Burn Down Zanzibar Church!

Muslims on Saturday (July 30) burned down a church building on Zanzibar island off the coast of Tanzania, church leaders said, just three days after another congregation’s facility on the island was reduced to ashes.

In Kianga, about 10 kilometers (six miles) from Zanzibar town, another church building was burned down on Wednesday (July 27) at about 2 a.m., said Pastor George Frank Dunia of Free Evangelical Pentecostal Church in Africa.

On neighboring Pemba island, suspected Muslim extremists in Konde on June 17 razed a Seventh-day Adventist Church building, a witness said.

“It was at 1 a.m. when I saw the church burning,” said a neighbor who requested anonymity. “There have been issues that the Muslims have been raising about the existence of the church.”

The Seventh-day church owns a large property near Chake-Chake town but has been unable to erect a building due to hostility from Muslims, sources said.

“If we do not stop the growth of the churches here in Pemba, then soon we are going to lose our people to Christianity, especially the children,” Sheikh Ibrahim Abdalla of Chake-Chake Mosque reportedly said.

Charred corpses line road after Nigeria vote riots.

On the outskirts of Kaduna, burned out minibuses and cars littered the highways, and at least six charred bodies could be seen. Skull caps and sandals were strewn nearby, left behind by those who frantically fled amid the chaos.

Authorities and aid groups have hesitated to release tolls following the riots across northern Nigeria for fear of inciting reprisal attacks, but the National Emergency Management Agency confirmed there had been fatalities. The Nigerian Red Cross said Tuesday that nearly 400 people had been wounded.

Horrific photo of what muslims are doing to christians sent by a BNI reader in Nigeria

Violence Erupts in Nigeria After Christian President Elected

What sparked the violence? The election of a Christian president. Nigerian citizens voted in Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian politician from the People’s Democratic Party. But Muslims are lashing out. The violence comes as no surprise, considering the pre-election violence.

The violence is erputing in predominantly Muslim states, including Adamawa, Bauchi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Sokoto, Gombe, Yobe and Katsina. There are reports of rampaging youths taking to the streets in protest against the President Jonathan’s victory.

Indeed, the backlash is growing worse. According to Open Doors, more than 60 churches were torched, thousands of houses belonging to Christians were destroyed, and both pastors and church workers killed. Christians in the villages were not spared. Many Christians were seen fleeing, abandoning their homes for fear of attack.

“Last year there were more martyrs in Nigeria–approximately 2,000 Christians killed in the northern part–than in any other country in the world,” says Open Doors USA President and CEO Dr. Carl Moeller.

No Big Deal, Just Some People in Africa, Right?

Christians are killed by the hundreds for no reason other than they are Christian. Where is the world outcry and at what point will someone we know be next?

It’s a shame that people in this country don’t believe those of us who warn about creeping Sharia and Islam.

Would it make the headlines if over a thousand Christians had been killed in, say, a South Carolina town for no other reason than they are simply Christian? Well, per capita, that is exactly what is happening in Nigeria. Funny how, when I do see a story on it, it is usually buried somewhere inside the paper or it’s just a small 30-second story on the television news.

The stories are horrifying, the pictures are stomach wrenching – men, women and babies, yes, babies being hacked into pieces by machetes.

“Dogo Nahawa is a Christian community,” the Christian leaders said in a statement. “Eyewitnesses say the Hausa Fulani Muslim militants were chanting ‘Allah Akbar,’ broke into houses, cutting human beings, including children and women with their knives and cutlasses.”

Well, there you have it yet again. “Allah Akbar.” It seems to be a recurring theme and I for one am sick of it. I am tired of writing week after week and month after month, but not many Americans seem to be moved by the catastrophe around us. Do we need another worldwide holocaust to occur before we stop worrying about our petty problems and wake up? What happened to the caring, concerned America I remember?

(all emphasis added by me)

Killing Christians in Somalia, and burning Bibles in Pakistan

while the “trendy brigade” and “political correct” pat themselves on the back about supporting the Islamic faith and showing how tolerant “our Western societies are.” They remain mainly silent about reports which highlight the rape of Christian females in Egypt and the forced conversion of these Christian females by their Muslim rapists. Sadly the same brutal method of rape against Christian and Hindu females in Pakistan by Muslims is also a disturbing reality but you have no demonstrations nor is the mass media “sinking their teeth” into issues like this.

Therefore, we have a strange “mirror” which is being told by the majority of the mass media. On the one hand we are told that Islam means peace but we know that all apostates face death in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, the Maldives, and a few other nations. Even in so-called moderate nations like Egypt, prison awaits the apostate from Islam and the family court system in Egypt clearly discriminates against all Christians in divorce cases involving children.

The sad reality is simple and it applies to the “dhimmis” bending over backwards in order to appease the Islamic agenda of stealth jihad. After all, Muslims are free to build their mosques all over America, India, the United Kingdom, and in other democratic nations.

Christian pastors have been beheaded in Nigeria; Hindu and Christian females have been raped in Pakistan; apostates to Christianity are being killed in Somalia; the Christian community in Iraq is under siege; Buddhists are killed and persecuted in southern Thailand; the Ahmadiyya suffer systematic persecution in Pakistan; the Baha’is reside in fear in Iran; and the list is endless.

Priests among 46 Christians killed in Iraq hostage drama

Grieving Catholics in Baghdad marked All Saints Day in mourning on Monday for 46 Christians killed during a hostage drama with Al-Qaeda gunmen that ended in an assault by Iraqi forces backed by US troops.

The rescue drama on Sunday night, two months after US forces formally concluded combat operations in Iraq, ended with two priests among at least 46 slain worshippers.

“It was carnage,” said Monsignor Pius Kasha, whose Syriac Catholic church was targeted by the militants. Witnesses said the assailants were armed with automatic rifles and suicide belts.

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2011/03/23

Candidate Obama would demand impeachment of President Obama

By: DrJohn

Barack Obama says he was all for World War II:

I don’t oppose all wars. My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton’s army. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil.

He doesn’t oppose all wars- just dumb Bush wars:

I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war.

And he is opposed to wars which distract us from our terrible economy:

What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.

And he is opposed to a war in which there is no threat to the United States, because that would be a dumb war:

Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power…. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors…and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

And we should fight with those who oppress their people- like the Saudi’s

You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East, the Saudis and the Egyptians, stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies so that their youth grow up without education, without prospects, without hope, the ready recruits of terrorist cells.

Here’s Barack Obama making sure the Saudis don’t oppress their own people.

Barack Obama has done nothing to stop the Saudis from oppressing their own people but Barack Obama said we should fight them to stop the oppression.

Both Curt and I have observed how eerily similar Obama’s actions recent actions are to those just prior to the Iraq war. Now so has Drudge:

MARCH 19, 2011
OBAMA: ‘Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world’…

MARCH 19, 2003
BUSH: ‘American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger’…

The actions taken by Obama represent a complete reversal of his own administration. Not long ago the establishment of a no-fly zone was called “loose talk” by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The Secretary of State said that the US was “a long way from making that decision.” In fact, Gates said, the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya would constitute “an act of war.”

“A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya.”

Now I know for a fact that Congress has not authorized this action by the US military. I also know how someone else named Barack Obama opposed any such action:

Q: In what circumstances would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress?

A: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action. As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J.Res.23, which states in part that “any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress.”

So Barack Obama said that Barack Obama does not have the authority to initiate the military action that Barack Obama just ordered and Barack Obama is in violation of the legislation proposed by Barack Obama.

If you really want to read the words of a miserable lying hypocrite- just read the entire article at the link. For example:

Q: Is there any executive power the Bush administration has claimed or exercised that you think is unconstitutional?

A: I reject the view that the President may do whatever he deems necessary to protect national security, and that he may torture people in defiance of congressional enactments. I reject the use of signing statements to make extreme and implausible claims of presidential authority. Some further points:

* The detention of American citizens, without access to counsel, fair procedure, or pursuant to judicial authorization, as enemy combatants is unconstitutional.
* Warrantless surveillance of American citizens, in defiance of FISA, is unlawful and unconstitutional.
* The violation of international treaties that have been ratified by the Senate, specifically the Geneva Conventions, was illegal (as the Supreme Court held) and a bad idea.
* The creation of military commissions, without congressional authorization, was unlawful (as the Supreme Court held) and a bad idea.

Barack Obama has ordered military trials to continue at Gitmo, but Barack Obama said they were unlawful.

Click Here to Read It All At Flopping Aces

2011/03/16

Various Articles Concerning the Unrest in Bahrain

Bahrain: Defense Force Issues Statement On Crackdown

March 16, 2011

The Bahraini national guard and Public Security Force initiated an operation to clear “outlaws” from several public areas in Manama, the General Command of the Bahrain Defense Force said March 16, BNA reported. The operation targeted protesters in the Bahrain Financial Harbour, the Salmaniya Medical Complex and surrounding areas, and the Gulf Cooperation Council Roundabout. The roundabout has previously been referred to as Pearl Square, or Martyr’s Square by the protesters.

Iran: President Comments On Situation In Bahrain

March 16, 2011

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said he could not understand how a government that would use weapons against its own people would want to govern them, Ahram Online reported March 16, citing Iranian state media. The statement is in reference to the ongoing political unrest in Bahrain.

Lebanon: Hezbollah Denounces Military Intervention In Bahrain

March 16, 2011

Military intervention and the use of force against a peaceful popular movement will not lead to a solution in Bahrain, according to a March 16 statement from Hezbollah, Ahram Online reported.

Kuwait: Shiite Lawmakers Denounce GCC Troop Deployment To Bahrain

March 16, 2011

Shiite lawmakers in Kuwait strongly criticized the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) decision to deploy troops to help quell the protests in Bahrain, Ahram Online reported March 16. One lawmaker threatened to question Kuwaiti Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Muhammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah if he deployed troops to Bahrain.

Iran: Parliament To Investigate Bahrain Killings

March 16, 2011

The Iranian parliament will launch an investigation into the suppression of anti-government protesters in Bahrain, Press TV reported March 16. During a closed-door meeting, Iranian lawmakers expressed concern over the killing of Bahraini protesters and the deployment of Saudi and UAE forces, according to a spokesman for the parliament’s presiding board.

Bahrain: Al Wefaq Deputy Head Says Movement Now Has 3 Martyrs

March 16, 2011

Khalil Marzouk, deputy head of the al Wefaq movement and a member of parliament, said the movement now has three martyrs, referring to the three protesters that Bahraini police killed in the capital’s Pearl Square, AFP reported March 16. Marzouk said the police were barring access to many hospitals in the capital, both public and private. He said most of the villages around Manama are surrounded.

12 Shariah Judges Resign Over Use Of Force

March 16, 2011

Twelve Shariah court judges in Bahrain resigned from their posts March 16 in response to police attacks against demonstrators at Manama’s Pearl Square, Al-Wasat reported. Given the excessive use of force against unarmed citizens, the judges of will resign from the judicial council in al-Jaferia region, according to a statement released by the judges.

Iraq: Al-Sadr Supporters Rally In Support Of Bahraini People

March 16, 2011

Supporters of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr demonstrated March 16 in various parts of Iraq in support of Bahraini Shiite protesters, Middle East Online reported. About 2,000 gathered in Sadr City in eastern Baghdad carrying Bahraini and Iraqi flags and banners reading, “Bahrain is free, free, oppressor, get out.” Two hundred demonstrators from the al-Sadr Trend marched in An Najaf, south of Baghdad, condemning violence against unarmed Bahrainis. About 500 al-Sadr supporters marched from the Tamimiya area of Basra carrying Iraqi flags and pictures of al-Sadr and his father. Tens of protesters rallied in Ad Diwaniyah, near An Najaf, in support of the Bahraini people, Alsumaria reported.

Iraq: Grand Ayatollah, PM Condemn Events In Bahrain

March 16, 2011

Iraqi Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on March 16 urged Bahrain’s government to stop the use of violence against unarmed protesters and expressed concern about government measures, Al-Iraqiya TV reported. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also voiced concern over events in the country and the foreign intervention there, saying the presence of foreign forces will complicate the regional situation rather than resolve it.

Saudi Arabia: King Speaks With Obama Over Phone

March 16, 2011

Saudi King Abdullah received a telephone call March 16 from U.S. President Barack Obama, SPA reported March 16. The leaders discussed bilateral relations and developments in the Middle East, including the situation in Bahrain.

Kuwait: Bahraini Leaders Trustworthy, Dialogue Necessary – Al-Kharafi

March 16, 2011

Kuwaiti National Assembly Speaker Jassem al-Kharafi said March 16 that Bahraini leaders are worthy of trust and that dialogue between the the two parties is necessary in order to end the current turmoil in the country, KUNA reported.

Lebanon: 2,000 Demonstrate In Support Of Bahraini Protesters

March 16, 2011

Approximately 2,000 mostly Shiite protesters gathered March 16 in central Beirut in support of protests by Bahrain’s Shiite majority, Reuters reported. Protesters waved Lebanese and Bahraini flags and carried banners of Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, which orchestrated the demonstration, as they chanted slogans for sweeping change in the Middle East. A Hezbollah lawmaker who was allegedly jailed in Bahrain for 18 years said Bahrainis were both civilized and peaceful in demanding their rights. Both Sunni and Shiite religious figures attended the rally.

Bahrain: 7 Shura Council Members Resign – Opposition

March 16, 2011

A parliamentarian from Bahrain’s opposition group Al Wefaq said there are divisions within the ruling authority of Bahrain, Iranian Al Alam TV reported March 16. Seven members of the Shura council who were appointed by King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa resigned March 16 to dispute the suppression of the protesters and protest the intervention of foreign forces in internal affairs.

U.S.: Bahrain, Allies On ‘Wrong Track’ – Clinton

March 16, 2011

Bahrain and four Gulf Cooperation Council countries that sent troops to put down anti-government protests in Bahrain are “on the wrong track,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a CBS interview March 16, Reuters reported. Calling events in Bahrain “alarming,” Clinton said there was no security solution to the people’s demands. Bahrain must negotiate a political agreement, Clinton said.

Bahrain: Regional Officials Discuss Saudi, UAE Intervention

March 16, 2011

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi on March 16 spoke with his counterparts in Iraq and Syria and with Kuwait’s deputy prime minister after UAE and Saudi forces entered Bahrain to put down protests, Mehr reported. The officials discussed the importance of international consultations to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Bahrain and exchanged views on the foreign intervention and its consequences. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem soon will visit Tehran.

Bahrain: Jordan Supports GCC Deployment

March 16, 2011

Jordan supports the decision to send Saudi and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) forces to Bahrain, Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said March 16 in a statement carried by Petra news agency, DPA reported. Jordan fully supports “all sovereign decisions” by GCC member states, particularly those intended to safeguard stability and security, Judeh said. Jordan considers the undermining of Bahrain’s stability and security, or that of any other GCC state, as a redline, Judeh added.

Iraq: Shiite Leaders Comment On Situation In Bahrain

Filed under: Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Shi'ite, Sunni — - @ 11:11 am

Source Link:Stratfor

Basheer al-Najafi, one of Iraq’s top Shiite authorities, said the Shia of Iraq condemn the suppression of Bahraini protesters, Ahram Online reported March 16. Al-Najafi also denounced foreign security forces’ use of violence against peaceful protesters. Meanwhile, around 2,000 supporters of Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr staged a demonstration in central Basra in solidairty with the protesters. Sadr al-Deen al-Qubbanchi, another Shiite cleric in Najaf, characterized the Bahrain protests not as a Shiite uprising but rather a popular movement. Al-Qubbanchi also condemned the military intervention against the protesters, saying it a ploy to help a weak regime, not an attempt to help the people.

2011/03/09

An Arab world in ruins or a new regional beginning?

Source Link: J Post

Written By Zvi Mazel

Analysis: It is clear that the Middle East will go through years of instability.

The Arab world of tomorrow will be very different from what we knew. After decades of oppression, Arab masses are on the move.

They have discovered that they can change their fate. Not all regimes will crumble, but they all will have to implement substantial reforms and allow a measure of freedom of expression as well as greater respect for human rights.

This does not mean that the core elements which characterized the political, economic, social and religious framework of Arab nations will disappear overnight. These nations will have to overcome the legacy of centuries of backwardness and fight beliefs and faiths which have molded them since the dawn of Islam.

Will revolutions free them from tribal and client systems which still prevail in Arab societies? Will discrimination and oppression against women cease? What about the high percentage of the population which is partially or totally illiterate? It is doubtful that they can take a meaningful role in shaping democratic values or initiate economic progress.

Many questions and too few answers. It is unfortunately clear that the Middle East will go through years of instability before the new regimes can find the right balance between the demands of the emerging political forces and those of traditional Arab societies.

The revolutions are far from over and the masses will fill the streets time and time again to protest measures taken by the new regimes or the reforms instituted by the old regimes which survived. Radical elements will try to divert these multitudes to their own ends and thus hijack the revolutions. Such is the way of popular revolutions until they peak and die. Look at the path taken by the French Revolution or the Russian Revolution.

However, through this fog of uncertainty a few facts have emerged. The first is that the Palestinian issue had no part in getting the masses into the streets. Here and there opposition forces tried – and are still trying – to get the people to demonstrate against Israel because of the intifada or the wars against Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon, but with very little success.

The Israeli question, used for decades by Arab rulers to focus their peoples’ attention away from their sorry economic state, is now revealed for what it was: just a ploy. A similar conclusion can be drawn on the subject of radical Islam on both of its main aspects, the jihadist organizations and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Neither was able to inflame the masses and lead them to topple the regimes.

Al-Qaida and its offshoot jihadist organizations did manage to conduct countless terror attacks in Arab countries and carried out extensive campaigns of incitement through the Internet, in the mosques and with the help of satellite channels such as Al-Jazeera, but all they could achieve was to recruit a few thousand youths. Al-Qaida and the like were never an alternative to the regimes in Arab countries, with the possible exception of Somalia, where the central government was toppled years ago and anarchy now reigns.

The most they could do was to whip the crowds into a frenzy against the West following the publication of the Muhammad drawings in a Danish newspaper.

The Muslim Brotherhood, active for decades in Arab countries, is working openly to create an Islamic regime and is regarded as a permanent threat in the Arab world. Yet it has failed – up to now – to achieve its goal. It was for economic reasons that in Egypt and Tunisia students and unemployed belonging to the lower middle classes started to demonstrate.

The Muslim Brothers did not join them at first, thinking, wrongly as it turned out, that the demonstrations would fail and taking part in them would not further their objectives. They realized their mistake fairly quickly and did join the protesters, but kept a low profile.

On the other hand, the fact that the movement’s foremost theologian, Yusuf al- Qaradawi, was allowed to conduct Friday prayers in Tahrir Square, where hundreds of thousands had gathered, testified to the fact that the Brothers had been busy behind the scenes. They now have representatives on the committee that was set up to amend the constitution, and they have managed to block the cancellation of Article 2, which states that Islam is the country’s religion and that Shari’a is the principal source of law. In other words, the Army Supreme Council had decided to adopt a conciliatory attitude towards the Muslim Brothers – having come to the conclusion that they constituted a well-organized political force, but also that for the present Egyptians on the whole wanted to preserve the Islamic nature of their country.

In Tunisia, though the leader of the Brotherhood, Rashid Ghannushi, came home after 20 years in exile, the organization does not seem to play a meaningful role in the ongoing revolution. It is probably due to the success of president Habib Bourguiba and his successor Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in curtailing the movement, which led to an increased Western influence.

The exact opposite has occurred in Jordan, where the Brothers are the main force against the regime, though at the moment King Abdullah’s throne appears secure enough. Regarding Libya the situation is unclear but it does seem that Islamists make up one of the strongest elements against Muammar Gaddafi.

What is no less interesting is that the Muslim Brothers themselves are affected by the currents washing over the Arab world. In Egypt, a group of young bloggers who are members of the movement are calling for a demonstration on March 17 in front of the Brothers’ Cairo offices. They demand the resignation of the group’s supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, who was elected barely a year ago, the dissolution of all the movement institutions, and free and transparent elections.

These are extreme demands striking at the heart of the Brotherhood and they could not have been formulated even a month ago; the bloggers affirm that no fewer than 30,000 members have voiced their support and will demonstrate.

Brotherhood official leaders, for their part, protest that the movement is united behind them and that they are pursuing their efforts to set up a “democratic country on the basis of the Shari’a.”

They intend to form a political party which shall be called “Freedom and Justice,” a satellite television channel as well as daily and weekly newspapers. In other words, they want to be an influential part of the process.

The Brotherhood has always been known for its unswerving, dogmatic positions on theological matters; at this stage it is not clear what the winds of change will bring to the almost century-old movement.

There are therefore a great number of unknowns in the unrest spreading over the Arab world. Will Islamists succeed in setting up “moderate” Islamic political parties, and how “moderate” would they really be? And what will happen in Saudi Arabia? The king is 87; he is just back from the United States and Morocco after a difficult surgery for a slipped disc. He immediately ordered to give every family $500, a move seen as trying to placate the people ahead of trouble, but which falls woefully short. Saudi Arabia is not better prepared against revolutions than other Arab countries. Most of the huge oil revenues go to the 20,000 princes who lord them over the masses. Poverty and unemployment are rife and the extravagant lifestyle and corruption of the rulers is a source of powerful resentment.

The Shi’ite minority suffers from oppression and discrimination; it is to be found in the east of the country – where most oil reserves are situated – close to Bahrain, a kingdom where the Shi’ite majority is trying to overthrow the Sunni royal family. Will Saudi King Abdullah be wise enough to give up some of his privileges to pacify both the masses and the Shi’ite minority? He has made in the past a few minor reforms in the field of education, but nothing to deal with the real problems.

He undoubtedly worries about events in Bahrain, Yemen and Oman – his nearest neighbors suffering from the same ills. On the other hand, he may be relying on the traditional alliance between the royal family and the Wahabi religious establishment, though that alliance may falter in front of an Egyptian-style revolution. For the moment the kingdom welcomes fallen dictators such as Ben Ali and has offered sanctuary to Mubarak.

President Barack Obama’s most recent declaration about welcoming changes within existing regimes is being seen as tacit support for the embattled oil-rich kingdoms.

When all is said and done, the main question today is how, and in what measure, if at all, can Islamic tradition and Arab nationalism be reconciled with democracy and equality.

In the meantime, it does seem as if the issues which dominated both the Arab world and the West in recent years – the Israeli- Palestinian conflict and radical Islam – no longer occupy center stage. Arab masses above all want better economic and social conditions.

Finally, Iran appears to be the main beneficiary of the turmoil, since its strongest opponents, the so-called pragmatic rulers, are busy with their internal problems – which some say Iran has actively promoted.

The writer is a former ambassador to Egypt and a fellow at The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Winning Counterinsurgency War-The Israeli Experience

Conventional armies can indeed defeat terrorist insurgencies. This study details the six basic conditions which, if met, enable an army to fight and win the war against terrorism, among which are control of the ground where the insurgency is being waged, acquiring relevant intelligence for operations against the terrorists themselves, and isolating the insurgency from cross-border reinforcement with manpower or material.

If the U.S., Israel, or their Western allies incorrectly conclude that they have no real military option against terrorist insurgencies, then the war on terrorism will be lost even before it is fully waged.

View this document on Scribd

2011/03/08

Bahrain and the Battle Between Iran and Saudi Arabia

Source Link: Stratfor

By George Friedman

The world’s attention is focused on Libya, which is now in a state of civil war with the winner far from clear. While crucial for the Libyan people and of some significance to the world’s oil markets, in our view, Libya is not the most important event in the Arab world at the moment. The demonstrations in Bahrain are, in my view, far more significant in their implications for the region and potentially for the world. To understand this, we must place it in a strategic context.

As STRATFOR has been saying for quite a while, a decisive moment is approaching, with the United States currently slated to withdraw the last of its forces from Iraq by the end of the year. Indeed, we are already at a point where the composition of the 50,000 troops remaining in Iraq has shifted from combat troops to training and support personnel. As it stands now, even these will all be gone by Dec. 31, 2011, provided the United States does not negotiate an extended stay. Iraq still does not have a stable government. It also does not have a military and security apparatus able to enforce the will of the government (which is hardly of one mind on anything) on the country, much less defend the country from outside forces.

Filling the Vacuum in Iraq

The decision to withdraw creates a vacuum in Iraq, and the question of the wisdom of the original invasion is at this point moot. (The quick withdraw brought on by Obama and his Progressives are coming back to bite us in the Ass, [emphasis added]) The Iranians previously have made clear that they intend to fill this vacuum with their own influence; doing so makes perfect sense from their point of view. Iran and Iraq fought a long and brutal war in the 1980s. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Iran is now secure on all fronts save the western. Tehran’s primary national security imperative now is to prevent a strong government from emerging in Baghdad, and more important, a significant military force from emerging there. Iran never wants to fight another war with Iraq, making keeping Iraq permanently weak and fragmented in Tehran’s interest. The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq sets the stage for Iran to pursue this goal, profoundly changing the regional dynamic.

Iran has another, more challenging strategic interest, one it has had since Biblical times. That goal is to be the dominant power in the Persian Gulf.

For Tehran, this is both reasonable and attainable. Iran has the largest and most ideologically committed military of any state in the Persian Gulf region. Despite the apparent technological sophistication of the Gulf states’ militaries, they are shells. Iran’s is not. In addition to being the leading military force in the Persian Gulf, Iran has 75 million people, giving it a larger population than all other Persian Gulf states combined.

Outside powers have prevented Iran from dominating the region since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, first the United Kingdom and then the United States, which consistently have supported the countries of the Arabian Peninsula. It was in the outsiders’ interests to maintain a divided region, and therefore in their interests to block the most powerful country in the region from dominating even when the outsiders were allied with Iran.

With the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, this strategy is being abandoned in the sense that the force needed to contain Iran is being withdrawn. The forces left in Kuwait and U.S air power might be able to limit a conventional Iranian attack. Still, the U.S. withdrawal leaves the Iranians with the most powerful military force in the region regardless of whether they acquire nuclear weapons. Indeed, in my view, the nuclear issue largely has been an Iranian diversion from the more fundamental issue, namely, the regional balance after the departure of the United States. By focusing on the nuclear issue, these other issues appeared subsidiary and have been largely ignored.

The U.S. withdrawal does not mean that the United States is powerless against Iran. It has been reconstituting a pre-positioned heavy brigade combat team set in Kuwait and has substantial air and naval assets in the region. It also can bring more forces back to the region if Iran is aggressive. But it takes at least several months for the United States to bring multidivisional forces into a theater and requires the kind of political will that will be severely lacking in the United States in the years ahead. It is not clear that the forces available on the ground could stop a determined Iranian thrust. In any case, Iraq will be free of American troops, allowing Iran to operate much more freely there.

And Iran does not need to change the balance of power in the region through the overt exercise of military force. Its covert capability, unchecked by American force, is significant. It can covertly support pro-Iranian forces in the region, destabilizing existing regimes. With the psychology of the Arab masses changing, as they are no longer afraid to challenge their rulers, Iran will enjoy an enhanced capacity to cause instability.

As important, the U.S. withdrawal will cause a profound shift in psychological perceptions of power in the region. Recognition of Iran’s relative power based on ground realities will force a very different political perception of Iran, and a desire to accommodate Tehran. The Iranians, who understand the weakness of their military’s logistics and air power, are pursuing a strategy of indirect approach. They are laying the foundation for power based on a perception of greater Iranian power and declining American and Saudi power.

Bahrain, the Test Case

Bahrain is the perfect example and test case. An island off the coast of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are linked by a causeway. For most purposes, Bahrain is part of Saudi Arabia. Unlike Saudi Arabia, it is not a major oil producer, but it is a banking center. It is also the home of the U.S. 5th Fleet, and has close ties to the United States. The majority of its population is Shia, but its government is Sunni and heavily linked to Saudi Arabia. The Shiite population has not fared as well economically as Shia in other countries in the region, and tensions between the government and the public have long existed.

The toppling of the government of Bahrain by a Shiite movement would potentially embolden Shia in Saudi Arabia, who live primarily in the oil-rich northeast near Bahrain. It also would weaken the U.S. military posture in the region. And it would demonstrate Iranian power.

If the Saudis intervened in Bahrain, the Iranians would have grounds to justify their own intervention, covert or overt. Iran might also use any violent Bahraini government suppression of demonstrators to justify more open intervention. In the meantime, the United States, which has about 1,500 military personnel plus embassy staff on the ground in Bahrain, would face the choice of reinforcing or pulling its troops out.

Certainly, there are internal processes under way in Bahrain that have nothing to do with Iran or foreign issues. But just as the internal dynamic of revolutions affects the international scene, the international scene affects the internal dynamic; observing just one of the two is not sufficient to understand what is going on.

The Iranians clearly have an interest in overthrowing the Bahraini regime. While the degree to which the Iranians are involved in the Bahraini unrest is unclear, they clearly have a great deal of influence over a cleric, Hassan Mushaima, who recently returned to Bahrain from London to participate in the protests. That said, the Bahraini government itself could be using the unrest to achieve its own political goals, much as the Egyptian military used the Egyptian uprising. Like all revolutions, events in Bahrain are enormously complex — and in Bahrain’s case, the stakes are extremely high.

Unlike Libya, where the effects are primarily internal, the events in Bahrain clearly involve Saudi, Iranian and U.S. interests. Bahrain is also the point where the Iranians have their best chance, since it is both the most heavily Shiite nation and one where the Shiites have the most grievances. But the Iranians have other targets, which might be defined as any area adjoining Saudi Arabia with a substantial Shiite population and with American bases. This would include Oman, which the United States uses as a support facility; Qatar, headquarters of U.S. Central Command and home to Al Udeid Air Base; and Kuwait, the key logistical hub for Iraqi operations and with major army support, storage and port facilities. All three have experienced or are experiencing demonstrations. Logically, these are Iran’s first targets.

The largest target of all is, of course, Saudi Arabia. That is the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, and its destabilization would change the regional balance of power and the way the world works. Iran has never made a secret of its animosity toward Saudi Arabia, nor vice versa. Saudi Arabia could now be in a vise. There is massive instability in Yemen with potential to spill over into Saudi Arabia’s southern Ismaili-concentrated areas. The situation in Iraq is moving in the Iranians’ favor. Successful regime changes in even one or two of the countries on the littoral of the Persian Gulf could generate massive internal fears regardless of what the Saudi Shia did and could lead to dissension in the royal family. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Saudis are moving aggressively against any sign of unrest among the Shia, arresting dozens who have indicated dissent. The Saudis clearly are uneasy in the extreme.

Iran’s Powerful Position

The Iranians would be delighted to cause regime change throughout the region, but that is not likely to occur, at least not everywhere in the region. They would be equally happy simply to cause massive instability in the region, however. With the United States withdrawing from Iraq, the Saudis represent the major supporter of Iraq’s Sunnis. With the Saudis diverted, this would ease the way for Iranian influence in Iraq. At that point, there would be three options: Turkey intervening broadly, something it is not eager to do; the United States reversing course and surging troops into the region to support tottering regimes, something for which there is no political appetite in the United States; and the United States accepting the changed regional balance of power.

Two processes are under way. The first is that Iran will be the single outside power with the most influence in Iraq, not unlimited and not unchallenged, but certainly the greatest. The second is that as the United States withdraws, Iran will be in a position to pursue its interests more decisively. Those interests divide into three parts:

  1. eliminating foreign powers from the region to maximize Iranian power,
  2. convincing Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region that they must reach an accommodation with Iran or face potentially dangerous consequences, and
  3. a redefinition of the economics of oil in the Persian Gulf in favor of Iran, including Iranian participation in oil projects in other Persian Gulf countries and regional investment in Iranian energy development.

The events in the Persian Gulf are quite different from the events in North Africa, with much broader implications. Bahrain is the focal point of a struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran for control of the western littoral of the Persian Gulf. If Iran is unable to capitalize on events in Bahrain, the place most favorable to it, the moment will pass. If Bahrain’s government falls, the door is opened to further actions. Whether Iran caused the rising in the first place is unclear and unimportant; it is certainly involved now, as are the Saudis.

The Iranians are in a powerful position whatever happens given the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq. Combine this with a series of regime changes, or simply destabilization on the border of Saudi Arabia, and two things happen. First, the Saudi regime would be in trouble and would have to negotiate some agreement with the Iranians — and not an agreement the Saudis would like. Second, the U.S. basing position in the Persian Gulf would massively destabilize, making U.S. intervention in the region even more difficult.

The problem created by the U.S. leaving Iraq without having been able to install a strong, pro-American government remains the core issue. The instability in the Persian Gulf allows the Iranians a low-risk, high-reward parallel strategy that, if it works, could unhinge the balance of power in the entire region. The threat of an uprising in Iran appears minimal, with the Iranian government having no real difficulty crushing resistance. The resistance on the western shore of the Persian Gulf may be crushed or dissolved as well, in which case Iran would still retain its advantageous position in Iraq. But if the perfect storm presents itself, with Iran increasing its influence in Iraq and massive destabilization on the Arabian Peninsula, then the United States will face some extraordinarily difficult and dangerous choices, beginning with the question of how to resist Iran while keeping the price of oil manageable.

Links:
[1] http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/friedman_on_geopolitics
[2] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110221-international-effects-libyan-unrest-energy
[3] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110222-update-protests-bahrains-pearl-square
[4] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20100215_special_coverage_us_withdrawal_iraq
[5] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20101111_progress_not_completion_iraqs_government_formation
[6] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/geopolitics_iran_holding_center_mountain_fortress
[7] http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100816_us_withdrawal_and_limited_options_iraq
[8] http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20100830_rethinking_american_options_iran
[9] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110214-shiite-unrest-bahrain
[10] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110211-mubarak-gone-egypts-system-stays
[11] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110228-oman-and-middle-eastern-unrest
[12] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110302-array-challenges-yemens-embattled-president
[13] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110301-saudi-arabia-arrest-could-lead-unrest
[14] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110303-iran-sees-opportunity-persian-gulf
[15] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110217-unrest-middle-east-special-report

2011/03/07

Intelligence Guidance: Week of March 6, 2011

Source Link: Stratfor

Intelligence Guidance: Week of March 6, 2011
ADAM JAN/AFP/Getty Images
Bahraini protesters at a demonstration outside Manama’s Al-Qudaibiya Palace on March 6

Editor’s Note: The following is an internal STRATFOR document produced to provide high-level guidance to our analysts. This document is not a forecast, but rather a series of guidelines for understanding and evaluating events, as well as suggestions on areas for focus.

New Guidance

1. Bahrain: We need to focus on the unrest here. Have the protests reached the point when the military and security forces may crack down violently or, most importantly, when the regime may be endangered? Unrest here may not reach that point, but we need to watch for any indication of escalation or deterioration of social stability. Some opposition groups have announced their willingness to talk with the regime. Do these groups represent enough of the protesters to be able to speak for them? What is the status of the talks? We will need to watch them closely. Will there be meaningful changes to the Bahraini Cabinet? Will such changes be sufficient to placate the majority of protesters? Is there any indication of Iranian involvement?

2. Saudi Arabia: Riyadh is watching events in Bahrain particularly closely as it attempts to crush any unrest amongst its own Shiite minority along the Persian Gulf coast. As with Bahrain, we need to look out for a major crackdown as well as the swelling of the protests to a size that might prove destabilizing for the regime. There are reports in the Iranian press that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may visit Saudi Arabia soon. We need to verify these reports and, if true, get a sense of his itinerary and objectives.

3. Iran: In the cases of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain — and across the region — we need to look closely for any indication of the nature and extent of Iranian involvement. Tehran has an enormous opportunity to take advantage of unrest across the region by manipulating protests for its own purposes. Last week’s guidance on Iran stands: We need to understand Tehran’s larger thinking and strategy moving forward. Iran began the year in a strong position. How far does Tehran want to push things, and how quickly and aggressively does it want to maneuver?

4. Russia: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Moscow this week at a time when no one is sure where U.S.-Russians relations stand. Following the 2009 “reset” of relations, there has been a sense of greater cooperation between the two sides. However, all the previous disagreements still loom in the background. Where is the point at which these disagreements endanger this newfound cooperation? Or, is a new understanding of overall Washington-Moscow relations on the horizon?

Existing Guidance

1. Libya: What does a post-Gadhafi Libya look like? What factions are emerging within the opposition? We need to look at key individuals as well as groups. How much power does the newly formed “national council” actually have? What indicators do we need to watch for as potential signs of deterioration of the situation into a civil war?

2. Iraq: We need to understand what protests in Iraq mean for the stability of the country moving forward. In Iraq, the Iranian question is even more critical. What hand did Iraq’s eastern neighbor play in these protests, and what is Iran trying to achieve in Iraq right now? How does the recent return of Muqtada al-Sadr fit in? We also need to look at what the Iraqi government is doing to manage the unrest. Why have intellectuals been rounded up and arrested? Is ethnosectarian rivalry playing a significant role? We need to investigate the nuance and subtlety of the motivations and dissatisfaction driving the key actors behind these protests.

3. Yemen: What is the status of talks between the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh and the opposition? Is the example of the rest of the region, and particularly of resurgent tribal loyalties in Libya, having a meaningful impact on how Yemeni tribes and other factions see their options? We need to look for any signs of changes that could upset the fragile balance in Yemen, including the loyalty of the military and security forces to Saleh.

4. China: Though there has been no “Jasmine Revolution,” the protest movement in China remains potentially significant. What lies behind these gatherings, and do they have staying power? What is the control group behind the gatherings, and is it unified? Is the movement gaining momentum? What can we learn from the National People’s Congress?

5. Pakistan: Relations with the United States have deteriorated, and we need to look closely at the status of the American-Pakistani relationship and the potential implications for Afghanistan and the region.

EURASIA

  • March 7: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill will arrive in Finland. The vice president will meet with Finnish Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi and President Tarja Halonen to discuss the world economy and other issues.
  • March 7: Former French President Jacques Chirac will go on trial for misuse of public funds.
  • March 7: France will auction 4 billion euros ($5.6 billion) of 13-week fixed-rate short-term treasury bills, 2 billion euros of 26-week fixed-rate short-term treasury bills and 2 billion euros of 52-week fixed-rate short-term treasury bills.
  • March 7-9: Chilean President Sebastian Pinera will pay a state visit to Spain and will meet with Spanish King Juan Carlos I and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
  • March 7-11: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s Managing Director for Turkey, Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia Olivier Descamps will lead a delegation to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
  • March 8: Greece will sell 1.25 billion euros of six-month treasury bills.
  • March 8-10: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill will visit Moscow. The vice president is scheduled to meet with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on March 9 and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on March 10.
  • March 8-12: An arbitration hearing to settle a contract dispute between oil firm Burlington and the Ecuadorian government will begin in Paris.
  • March 9: EU-sponsored talks between Serbia and Kosovo are scheduled to begin in Brussels.
  • March 9: The British All Party Parliamentary Group for Cyprus and the Cypriot High Commission in the United Kingdom are expected to discuss the political and economic problems of Cyprus in the House of Commons.
  • March 9: Czech and Slovak human rights activists are expected to block the Slovak-Austrian border crossing at Jarovce and Kittsee on the outskirts of Bratislava to protest the trial of 13 Austrian environmental activists.
  • March 9: Portugal’s Treasury and Government Debt Agency is scheduled to buy back government bond lines and issue new debt in the amount of 750 million euros and 1 billion euros.
  • March 9-10: Speaker of the Ukrainian parliament Volodymyr Lytvyn will visit Croatia and meet with Croatian President Ivo Josipovic, Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Luka Bebic, Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor and Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration Gordan Jandrokovic, along with representatives of the Ukrainian minority in Croatia.
  • March 10: Newly appointed French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe will visit Berlin and meet with German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to discuss the political developments in Libya and North Africa.
  • March 10: Armenian Minister of Transport and Communication Manuk Vardanyan will attend the third Armenian-Romanian intergovernmental commission in Bucharest to discuss bilateral cooperation in trade, tourism and industry. A business forum is also scheduled.
  • March 10-11: EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and 27 ministers will hold a crisis summit on Libya and North Africa in Brussels.
  • March 11: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will visit Moldova and meet with Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat in Chisinau.
  • March 11: The bribery trial of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is scheduled to resume.
  • March 11: Eurozone heads of state are scheduled to hold a special summit to discuss a preventative plan of action for future debt crises.
  • March 12: The Public Chamber opposition movement is scheduled to hold protests to demand democratic change in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Musavat party is scheduled to hold demonstrations across Azerbaijan the same day.
  • March 12: Neo-Nazis are expected to come out in support of the Workers’ Social Justice Party’s planned march in Novy Bydzov in the Czech Republic. The Novy Bydzov Initiative plans to hold a counter-march.
  • March 13: Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi will visit Azerbaijan to discuss multilateral and bilateral cooperation in economic development and energy.
  • March 13: Local assembly elections will be held in 12 Russian regions, including Dagestan.

MIDDLE EAST/SOUTH ASIA

  • March 7-8: Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov will visit Iran to meet with his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi. Mammadyarov will participate in the Iran-Azerbaijan intergovernmental commission, co-chaired by Salehi.
  • March 7-8: Dutch Queen Beatrix, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima, accompanied by a Dutch trade mission, are scheduled to continue a visit to Oman.
  • March 7-10: Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon and thirty Tajik businessmen will travel to Karachi, Pakistan, to meet with Pakistani trade and development officials and Pakistani businessmen. A joint business forum will be held on Mar 10.
  • March 8: The Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission will hold a public hearing on a government proposal to raise the compressed natural gas price by about 50 percent.
  • March 8: A key Kuwaiti opposition group will rally to force the resignation of the prime minister. The group wants a new government to battle corruption, guarantee public freedoms and find solutions for various economic issues. It is headed by former parliament speaker Ahmad al-Saadun.
  • March 8: Former Egyptian Trade Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid , former Industrial Development Authority Director Amr Assal and steel magnate and former National Democratic Party official Ahmed Ezz will stand trial on charges of profiteering and facilitating the illegal acquisition of public funds.
  • March 8: U.S. CIA contractor Raymond Davis will stand trial in Pakistan in the shooting deaths of two Pakistanis.
  • March 9: Lebanese bishops will meet to elect a new spiritual head for Lebanon’s Maronite church.
  • March 9-10: Syrian Prime Minister Mohammad Naji al-Otari will visit Tehran to participate in the 13th Iran-Syria conference. Several Syrian economic affairs experts will accompany him.
  • March 9-10: Dutch Queen Beatrix, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander and Princess Maxima, along with a Dutch trade mission, will visit Qatar.
  • March 11: A Saudi youth group known as Jeddah Youth for Change has scheduled a protest in Jeddah, near the al-Beia Roundabout, in solidarity with the Libyan uprising to demand an elected ruler, greater freedom for women and the release of political prisoners. Hundreds responded to the call for the Saudi “Day of Rage” on Facebook.

AMERICAS

  • March 7-13: Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard will continue a visit to the United States to meet with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and other administration officials. Gillard will also meet with U.S. intelligence heads, World Bank President Robert Zoellick and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon.
  • March 9: Ecuador’s National Electoral Council has prohibited state financing of political propaganda after this date.
  • March 9-Nov 22: Azerbaijani military units will attend field artillery training in the United States.
  • March 11: A meeting of foreign ministers from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) will be held in Quito, Ecuador. The election of an UNASUR secretary-general will be discussed at the meeting.

2011/03/04

Al-Sadr’s Iraqi Protests and Iran

Filed under: Iran, Iraq, Shi'ite — - @ 5:26 pm

Link Source: Stratfor

Al-Sadr's Iraqi Protests and Iran
QASSEM ZEIN/AFP/Getty Images
Radical Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr (C) in Najaf on March 3

Summary

Supporters of radical Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr protested in Iraq on March 4. Like much of the region, Iraq has seen protests recently. Al-Sadr’s attempt to mobilize his supporters, however, could well play into the broader U.S.-Saudi and Iranian struggle in the Persian Gulf region.

Analysis

Thousands of supporters of radical Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadri protested in the city of Al Amarah in Maysin province, about 390 kilometers (210 miles) south of Baghdad on March 4. Iraq has witnessed smatterings of protests over the past several weeks nationwide, with most rallying against government corruption and the country’s lack of basic services. Though al-Sadr’s supporters have protested on the same issues, these demonstrations are potentially politically weightier. In instructions to his followers issued March 3, al-Sadr stressed a reorientation of the political protests. He called for a condemnation of the United States for seeking a “fresh occupation in the region” through deposing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Al-Sadr said, “We are no longer deceived by rude U.S. tricks. For we have been opposed, and we remain opposed to any interference by the United States, the evil country.”

Anti-U.S. rhetoric from al-Sadr is certainly not out of character. And these calls for protests against U.S. intervention have little to do with Libya, which is just a convenient issue to latch on to. Instead, al-Sadr’s attempt to mobilize his supporters comes at a critical time — and could well play into the broader U.S.-Saudi and Iranian struggle in the Persian Gulf region.

In carrying on his father’s legacy, al-Sadr has long tried to distinguish himself as the most nationalist and independent among Iraq’s Shiite establishment most capable of resisting foreign (including Iranian) meddling. In spite of al-Sadr’s need to maintain that street credibility, there is little question that over the past several years he has been brought under the Iranian umbrella. Al-Sadr’s well-timed return to Iraq in early January from Iran, where he had spent years receiving guidance from his Iranian handlers and trying to shore up his religious credentials, was a deliberate message to Washington that Tehran was reinserting its main destabilizing tool in Iraq as U.S. forces continued their withdrawal. That tool did not necessarily need to be activated right away but could be used by Tehran to stir up tensions and grab U.S. attention whenever the need arose.

Based on al-Sadr’s most recent moves, it appears that time is now. The sustained tensions in Bahrain and unrest in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait look to be part of a broader destabilization campaign by the Iranians in the Persian Gulf. This campaign has been timed to exploit the unrest in North Africa as a useful cover and to catch the Sunni Arab states at their most vulnerable now that U.S. forces are withdrawing from Iraq.

Deploying al-Sadr is one of many ways Iran can project power against the United States amid the current regional chaos. Still, so far it is a measured move. The Sadrites have a significant constituency in Iraq among low-income Shia. But they are not the dominant Shiite group in Iraq and probably are not capable of sweeping the current government out of power on their own. Al-Sadr also lacks the political and religious credentials of rival Shiite leaders like Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Ammar al-Hakim or top clerics such as Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf.

When al-Sadr steps out of the Shiite consensus, as he is doing now in protesting the al-Maliki government with a heavy dose of anti-U.S. spin, he is looking to shore up his political credentials and distance himself from an increasingly unpopular government. Al-Sadr’s decisions are not being made independently, however. Iran is fine with him pursuing his personal political agenda so long as his moves serve the Iranian strategic interest of elevating U.S. and Sunni vulnerabilities in the Persian Gulf region at a most critical time.

2011/02/25

Various articles of the Unrest in Mid East and Africa: Updates

Filed under: Iraq, Jihad, Libya, Muslim Brotherhood, National Security, Yemen — - @ 12:19 pm

Pakistan: U.S. Contractor Arrested

February 25, 2011

Peshawar police arrested Aaron DeHaven, a contractor who recently worked for the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, saying that his visa had expired, The Guardian reported Feb. 25. DeHaven is head of a company named Catalyst Services.

Iran: 2nd Uranium Enrichment Plant Operational By Summer – IAEA

February 25, 2011

Iran plans to being operating a second uranium enrichment plant by the summer of 2011 in an underground location near Quom, DPA reported Feb. 25, citing a restricted document it obtained that was issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The document said no centrifuges have been installed at the second location yet, and Iran is still generating enriched uranium at the existing plant in Natanz. The report did not mention the Stuxnet virus, but an official was cited as saying several hundred centrifuges at Natanz were replaced, but it did not significantly affect production rates.

Iraq: Basra Protesters Clash With Army, 2 Dead

February 25, 2011

Protesters clashed with army troops in Basra, Iraq, leaving two protesters dead and five Iraqi troops injured, AKnews reported Feb. 25. The demonstrators marched from a government building toward a provincial council, where the soldiers attempted to intercept them. Demonstrators threw rocks at the soldiers and the police fired shots in the air and used water cannons to try to disperse the crowds, with three protesters killed in the ensuing clash. Iraqi lawmaker from Basra Jawaq al-Bazzouni said.

Yemen: 9 Wounded In Clashes With Police

February 25, 2011

At least nine people were wounded when Yemeni security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters in Aden on Feb. 25, DPA reported, citing witnesses at the scene. Witnesses said thousands of people began protesting after Friday prayers in Aden’s Khur Maksar and Mualla neighborhoods, demanding the removal of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Seven were wounded when police opened fire in Khur Maksar, and one of them is in critical condition. Two were injured in Mualla. Around 10,000 people participated in an anti-government rally in Taiz, but no violence was reported there.

Libya: Protesters Killed In Tripoli – Reports

February 25, 2011

Two protesters were killed and several were wounded in confrontations in the Tripoli suburbs of Fashlum, Zawiyat al-Dahmani, Ben Ashour and Al Siyahia, Al Jazeera reported Feb. 25. At least five protesters have been killed in Tripoli’s Janzour district, Reuters reported, citing a resident. Libyan state TV reported that medical sources in Tripoli have denied the reports of killed and injured protesters, accusing Arab satellite channels of conspiring against the Libyan people.

Iraq: Islamic State Of Iraq War Minister’s Body Identified

February 25, 2011

The body of the Islamic State of Iraq’s war minister, Noman Salman, also known as Al-Nasser Lideen Allah Abu Suleiman, has been identified following a Feb. 24 raid in Hit, Iraq, Reuters reported Feb. 25, citing a spokesman for the Baghdad operations command. U.S. forces were not involved in the operation, the spokesman said, which was carried out based on intelligence.

Iraq: Protesters Killed In Mosul

February 25, 2011

At least five protesters were killed and five more injured from gunfire in Mosul, Iraq, Al-Sharqiyah TV reported Feb. 25 in a screen caption at 0957 GMT.

Iraq: Police Open Fire On Protesters

February 25, 2011

Iraqi police reportedly opened fire on protesters in the town of Al Hawijah following “day of rage” anti-government demonstrations, Al-Sharqiyah TV reported Feb. 25 in a screen caption at 0728 GMT.

Iraqi: 2 Protesters Killed

February 25, 2011

Two protesters were killed and over 20 injured during confrontations with security forces in the Iraqi town of Al Hawijah, Al-Sharqiyah TV reported Feb. 25 in screen captions at 0843 GMT.

Somalia: Ethiopian Soldiers Fire Mortars At Town

February 25, 2011

Ethiopian forces, who were based on the border town of Suuftu, are heavily bombarding the town of Beled Xsswo in southwestern Somalia with mortars, the Somali Shabeelle Media Network reported Feb. 25. The town is being controlled by Al Shabab Islamists, the report said.

Israel: Air Force Kills 1, Wounds 3

February 25, 2011

The Israeli airforce attacked Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, targeting a car, killing one and wounding three, according to Palestinian media, The Jerusalem Post reported Feb. 25. The Israeli defense force said the targets were linked to Hamas and had been involved in terrorist activity. “Hamas is trying to restrain the other groups,” a senior official said, adding, Islamic Jihad is trying to attack, challenging Hamas, who is committed to the quiet.

Pakistan: 4 Killed In Convoy Ambush

February 24, 2011

A group of 15 militants armed with rockets and guns ambushed a roadside North Atlantic Treaty Organization terminal on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan, torching 12 tankers and killing four, a local police officer said, AP reported Feb. 25. Those killed were drivers or their assistants, the police officer said.

Somalia: Government Seizes Southwestern District – Report

February 25, 2011

Somali government forces seized the southwestern Somali district of Beled Haawo, Gedo region, Somali Defense Minister Abdihakim Haji Fiqi said, independent Radio Gaalkacyo reported Feb. 25.

2011/02/17

Exclusive Video of Protests in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq

Filed under: Iraq, Muslim Brotherhood, Radical Islam, Uncategorized — Tags: , — - @ 3:54 pm

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Around 2,500 people congregated in northern Iraq’s Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah on Feb. 17 to protest government corruption, shouting slogans against Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani in particular.

The protests began with the crowd moving toward Sara Gate Square in central Sulaymaniyah. From there, the protesters advanced in the direction of the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) headquarters on Salm Street. Riot police were in the area at the time but withdrew when the crowd started pushing toward KDP headquarters. Protesters began throwing stones at the building and breaking windows and doors in an apparent attempt to gain access. The KDP militia, also known as the Peshmerga, guarding the building retreated inside when the protesters became aggressive. They took up positions on the upper floors, from which they opened fire on demonstrators. According to a local health official, three protesters were killed and 53 others were wounded.

After the wounded were taken to the hospital, the crowd made several more attempts to storm the KDP headquarters, but the militia dispersed them by firing into the air. The protesters have continued their advances on the party headquarters, but the KDP militia does appear to be preventing the protesters — who, according to STRATFOR sources, are mostly men between the ages of 16 and 27 — from gaining access to the building.

KDP supporters have responded by storming and setting fire to the headquarters of the Goran opposition movement in the Kurdish capital city of Arbil and in the smaller town of Duhok, according to Goran’s KNN TV. A curfew has been put in place from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. local time in an attempt to quell the protests.

Protests in northern Iraq condemning corruption within the government started soon after similar protests led to the ouster of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in mid-January. The protests have not reached a critical mass to pose a significant threat to the government, but this incident showed that authorities are responding more aggressively to the protesters, namely by firing live ammunition at them.

The video above was taken by a STRATFOR source about 100 meters (330 feet) from the KDP headquarters on Salm Street. In the video, shots can be heard in the first few seconds, followed by a panicked retreat, but then the situation settles quickly and protesters begin returning. This scene played out nearly 10 times over the course of the afternoon as demonstrators pushed toward the KDP headquarters and then were dispersed by gunfire.

Read more: STRATFOR Exclusive Video of Protests in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq | STRATFOR

2011/01/04

Egypt terrorism expert: Church bombing evidence points to Qaeda in Iraq

A noted Egyptian expert on terrorism tells Ahram Online the evidence indicates that random Al-Qaeda entities crossing over from Iraq to Arab North Africa are the most likely culprits in the Alexandria church bombing

By Ahmed Eleiba , Tuesday 4 Jan 2011

Following mixed reports on the possible source of the church attack in Alexandria on New Year’s eve, Major General Mohamed Megahed, an Egyptian expert on international terrorism and deputy director of the National Center for Middle East Studies, said that the available information indicates a strong possibility that foreign entities are involved in the church attacks, just as President Hosni Mubarak had pointed out in his speech on Saturday.

In an an interview with Ahram Online, Megahed said that although the available information still needs further verification and confirmation, the Ministry of Interior is currently looking for 15 suspected foreign elements that are believed to have entered Egypt through its eastern borders from Iraq en route to the Maghreb countries. Megahed added that investigations reveal the presence of random elements related to Al-Qaeda.

Maj. Gen. Megahed said that the attackers are believed to have been of North and sub-Sahran African origin, who have been receiving training in Iraq, under Al-Qaeda’s Iraq faction. He noted that the Al-Qaeda faction in Iraq had previously made clear through its website, Shemoukh Al-Islam, or ‘Glory of Islam’, that they will be targeting the Two Saints Church and several other Egyptian churches. The declaration was also supported by other factions in the Maghreb countries. He insisted however that there were no Al-Qaeda branches, nor any of its dormant cells, operating inside Egypt.

Read it all here

2010/10/28

ANALYSIS / Iran’s unlikely understanding with Saudi Arabia

Source: Haaretz

Iran and Saudi Arabia are working together to divide up their sphere of influence in Lebanon and Iraq.

By Zvi Bar’el“Iran is not the enemy, Israel is the enemy,” the head of the Center for Strategic Studies in Saudi Arabia declared in an interview with Al Jazeera. This was his response to a question on whether the $60 billion arms deal between Riyadh and Washington was meant to deter Iran. The American efforts to portray the deal as aimed against Tehran doesn’t fit with the Saudi point of view, and it seems this isn’t the only subject over which these two countries fail to see eye to eye.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses a summit on the Millennium Development Goals at the UN headquarters on Tuesday, Sept 21, 2010. Photo By AP

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia twice last week, and Iran reported that a senior Iranian official would visit Riyadh soon. It’s not clear if it will be Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki or the head of the National Security Council, Saeed Jalili.

But the frequent contacts between Iran and Saudi Arabia are not over the big arms deal or Iran’s nuclear plans. The two countries have concluded that they need to reach an agreement on two other issues regarding their sphere of influence in the region: Iraq and Lebanon.

Regarding Lebanon, Iran is trying to persuade Saudi Arabia to help stop the work of the special international tribunal investigating the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. This would prevent the collapse of the Lebanese regime. While Iran is worried about Hezbollah’s status, it also doesn’t want Lebanon to collapse or fall into another civil war, whose results cannot be ensured.

Furious American

In this respect, Tehran doesn’t have to make too great an effort to get Riyadh’s support. This became clear last week to Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs and a former U.S. ambassador to Beirut, when he visited Riyadh. During his meeting with King Abdullah, the monarch tried to figure out America’s position if the international court’s work were stopped. Arab sources say Feltman was “furious but restrained,” and made it clear to the king that Washington was determined to support the tribunal.

With all due respect to the American insistence, if the client that is supposed to pay Washington $60 billion decides it’s vital to halt the tribunal’s work, it won’t make do with consulting the Americans. It will throw its full weight behind the efforts. Meanwhile, the indictment the tribunal is due to publish is not expected before February.

After all, what is happening in Lebanon – and Saudi Arabia can’t be accused of not supporting the establishment of the tribunal – is not isolated from other regional issues that involve the Saudis and Iran. Riyadh, which paid millions of dollars in Ayad Allawi’s election campaign in Iraq, is aware that his chances of being elected prime minister are diminishing. The aid last time helped Allawi win two seats more in parliament than his rival, outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Meanwhile, in the past two weeks, Maliki has visited Syria, Turkey, Iran and Egypt in an attempt to garner support. He is trying to persuade Iraq’s neighbors that he is worthy of being prime minister again. But that’s not enough. To win, he has to convince his rivals at home to forgo their aspirations of being Iraqi prime minister and join him.

No dream team

Tehran understands that it can’t get the Iraqi prime minister it was hoping for, Ibrahim al-Jaafari. But it has “convinced” the influential Iraqi religious leader, Muqtada al-Sadr, who is living in Iran until completing religious studies there, to support Maliki. Maliki is not exactly Iran’s dream prime minister, especially considering that he accused Tehran and Damascus of terrorist involvement.

He is also not a natural partner of Sadr, who won 39 of the 325 seats in parliament. Sadr has also not completely forgiven Maliki for sending Iraqi troops to wage a bloody battle against Sadr’s forces and arresting many of his supporters, some of whom are still in prison. But the Iranian pressure mounted, so Sadr agreed to announce his support for Maliki.

Nevertheless, even with Sadr’s support, Maliki will not be able to set up a coalition without getting at least one other bloc to support him, either the Kurds or Allawi. That’s why Iran needs Saudi Arabia’s help to try to persuade its proteges in Iraq, especially Allawi, to join such a coalition or at least not work against it.

For its part, Saudi Arabia is not prepared to give Iran gifts, but it also doesn’t want to lose all influence in Iraq. In Iraq as in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia realizes it’s in a relatively inferior position vis-a-vis Iran; all it can do in these countries is to prevent Tehran from wielding exclusive influence. This is what the discussion between Saudi Arabia and Iran is now focusing on: deliberations during which Riyadh will try to divide its sphere of influence in Iraq and Lebanon with Iran.

One significant element is missing from these moves – the United States. Washington seeks to promote the process at the international tribunal on the Lebanese issue, blame Hezbollah for the Hariri assassination, see Allawi as Iraqi prime minister and block Iran’s influence in the region.

Meanwhile, it seems the Americans are aiming too high. The real game is in the hands of local forces that are sketching the strategic map, which will be presented to Washington as a fait accompli.

2010/09/16

The 9/11 Anniversary and What Didn’t Happen

By Scott Stewart

Sept. 11, 2010, the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, was a day of solemn ceremony, remembrance and reflection. It was also a time to consider the U.S. reaction to the attack nine years ago, including the national effort to destroy al Qaeda and other terrorist groups in order to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 attacks. Of course, part of the U.S. reaction to 9/11 was the decision to invade Afghanistan, and the 9/11 anniversary also provided a time to consider how the United States is now trying to end its Afghanistan campaign so that it can concentrate on more pressing matters elsewhere.

The run-up to the anniversary also saw what could have been an attempted terrorist attack in another Western country. On Sept. 10 in Denmark, a potential bombing was averted by the apparent accidental detonation of an improvised explosive device in a bathroom at a Copenhagen hotel. The Danish authorities have not released many details of the incident, but it appears that the suspect may have been intending to target the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which has been targeted in the past because it published cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed in 2005. Groups such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) have tried hard to ensure that the anger over the cartoon issue does not die down, and it apparently has not. It is important to note that even if the perpetrator had not botched it, the plot — at least as we understand it so far — appears to have involved a simple attack plan and would not have resulted in a spectacular act of terrorism.

Yet in spite of the failed attack in Denmark and all the 9/11 retrospection, perhaps the most interesting thing about the 9/11 anniversary in 2010, at least from an analytical perspective, was what did not happen. For the first time, the al Qaeda core leadership did not issue a flurry of slick, media-savvy statements to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. And the single statement they did release was not nearly as polished or pointed as past anniversary messages. This has caused us to pause, reflect and wonder if the al Qaeda leadership is losing its place at the ideological forefront of the jihadist cause.

The 9/11 Anniversary and What Didn't Happen
-/AFP/Getty Images
Al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri in a video marking the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks

A History of Anniversary Messages

When it comes to anniversaries, al Qaeda has not always seized upon them as opportunities for attacks, but it has long seen them as tempting propaganda opportunities. This first began in September 2002, when the group released numerous messages in a multitude of forms to coincide with the first anniversary of 9/11. These included a one-hour video titled “The Nineteen Martyrs,” referring to the 9/11 attackers; a book released by al-Ansar media telling the story of the 9/11 attacks; an audio tape from al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri; a statement from al Qaeda’s “Political Bureau”; and a statement from al Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith. Then, on Oct. 7, 2002, Al Qaeda released a message from Osama bin Laden to the American people to commemorate the first anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

Since 2002, other 9/11-anniversary messages from al Qaeda have included:

  • A September 2003 video of bin Laden and al-Zawahiri walking in the mountains and praising the 9/11 attackers, released via the Qatar-based Al Jazeera television network. As-Sahab, al Qaeda’s media wing, also released a video that contained Saeed al-Ghamdi’s martyrdom tape.
  • A September 2004 audio message from al-Zawahiri released on the same day as a bombing attack against the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.
  • A September 2005 video message in which Adam Gadahn, the American-born al Qaeda spokesman, came to the world’s attention threatening attacks against Los Angeles and Melbourne. Al-Zawahiri had released a video message on Sept. 1 that contained the martyrdom video of July 7 London bomb-plot leader Mohammad Sidique Khan.
  • A September 2006 video message in which Gadahn reappeared to commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/11, this time in tandem with al-Zawahiri. As-Sahab then issued, on Sept. 7, a video message titled “Knowledge is for Acting Upon: The Manhattan Raid,” and on Sept. 11 an interview and question-and-answer session with al-Zawahiri. As-Sahab also released some undated and previously unreleased video footage of bin Laden and other high-ranking al Qaeda members planning the 9/11 attacks.
  • A September 2007 video, released by As-Sahab, showing bin Laden speaking and titled “The Solution.” This was followed by a video released on Sept. 11 that contained an audio statement by bin Laden and the martyrdom message of Abu Musab Waleed al-Shehri, one of the 9/11 operatives.
  • A September 2008 video, released by As-Sahab, showing al-Zawahiri criticizing Iran for helping the Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq. On Sept. 17, As-Sahab released a video titled “Results of 7 Years of the Crusades” and, on Sept. 19, it released another message from al-Zawahiri.
  • A September 2009 video, released by As-Sahab, that contained an audio recording and still photo of bin Laden intended to address the American people on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. As-Sahab also released a video by al-Zawahiri on Aug. 29 entitled “The Path of Doom.”
  • A September 2010 video, released by As-Sahab, that contained an audio recording and still photo of al-Zawahiri and was titled “A Victorious Ummah, a Broken Crusade: Nine Years after the Start of the Crusader Campaign.”

This history shows a steady decline in al Qaeda’s anniversary messaging in terms of quantity and production quality (clearly seen in comparing the al-Zawahiri audio message of 2010 with the al-Zawahiri video message of 2006). Another consideration is topical relevance. Al-Zawahiri’s 2010 message was actually rather bland, uninspiring and little more than a rehash of several points the group has made in the past. There were no stirring and inspirational calls to action, no new threats to the West, and no real meaningful discussion of the 9/11 anniversary beyond the message title.

While the recent 9/11 anniversary highlighted a declining trend in al Qaeda’s messaging, it has actually been going on since long before Sept. 11, 2010. It has been more than a year since a video appeared featuring a key al Qaeda leader (the last one, of al-Zawahiri, was released in August 2009).

Explaining the Lapse

Currently, there are very few people, all in the al Qaeda core leadership and their As-Sahab media wing, who know the true reason why the group has suffered such a decline in its propaganda efforts. There could be a number of possible explanations for the lapse. The first could be that the group is observing a period of radio silence in expectation of a large attack. This is certainly possible, and something we have heard analysts propose during al Qaeda quiet times. However, an examination of past patterns of al Qaeda communiques and attacks since 9/11 has not shown any type of correlation between times of silence and attacks. This is to be expected when most of the actors conducting attacks are either affiliated with the regional franchise groups or are grassroots operatives with no link to the al Qaeda core leadership. In fact, we have seen media releases by As-Sahab shortly before past attacks such as the March 2004 Madrid bombings and the July 2005 London attacks. As-Sahab was in the midst of a media blitz in the months leading up to the thwarted August 2006 Heathrow liquid-bomb plot, and it also released several statements in the weeks prior to the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.

In the past, hackers have used the occasion of the 9/11 anniversary to disrupt jihadist websites in an attempt to cripple al Qaeda’s ability to distribute its 9/11 anniversary statements. We saw this particularly in September 2008, in a hacking that resulted in some of the messages being delayed until Sept. 17 and Sept. 19. This year, however, there is no sign of that type of broad-based hacking campaign, and while some jihadist websites are down for a variety of reasons, many other jihadist websites continue to operate unabated, offering recent Ramadan and Eid ul-Fitr sermons and salutations.

It is also possible that the floods that have ravaged Pakistan this summer could have displaced the al Qaeda leadership or the As-Sahab crew. However, the floods began with the heavy monsoon rains in late July and the dearth of messages from the al Qaeda core leadership reaches back much further, with 2010 being an unusually quiet time for the group. Past anniversary messages have been produced weeks, and even months, before their release dates, so the As-Sahab multimedia crew should have had time to adjust to the flood conditions if that was truly the cause.

The best explanation for the decline in As-Sahab’s propaganda efforts may be the increase in the number of strikes by U.S. unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) inside Pakistan in areas along the Afghan border since August 2008. More than 1,000 people have been killed in such strikes, including a number senior al Qaeda members. A confluence of factors could be responsible for the decline, with floods and hackers posing additional problems for an organization on the run from U.S. airstrikes and trying to maintain a low profile. Even if the core al Qaeda leadership is living deeper in Pakistan and away from the threat of U.S. airstrikes, many lower-level al Qaeda members are operating in the border area and have certainly been impacted by the strikes.

An Eclipse?

It is important to view the decline in As-Sahab propaganda efforts in the larger context, specifically statements involving the core al Qaeda leadership, and then compare those statements to the messages released by the franchise groups, such as AQAP.

Over the past few years, STRATFOR has often discussed how the war against the jihadists is occurring on two planes, the physical battlefield and the ideological battlefield. We have also discussed how we believe that the al Qaeda core leadership has lost its place in recent years at the forefront of the physical battlefield and has instead focused its efforts largely on the ideological battlefield, where its role is to promote jihadism and inspire jihadist groups and individuals to conduct attacks.

This belief that the franchise groups are assuming leadership on the physical battlefield was supported by attacks in 2009 and early 2010 that were linked to groups such as AQAP and allied organizations like the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. Even the suspect in the June 2009 shootings in Little Rock, Ark., claimed to be part of “Abu Basir’s Army” and not bin Laden’s. (Abu Basir is the honorific name, or kunya, for Nasir al-Wahayshi, the current leader of AQAP.)

And it appears that the leadership provided by the franchise groups may not be confined to just the physical battlefield. As the core al Qaeda leadership continues to maintain a low profile, the leaders of groups like AQAP and figures such as Anwar al-Awlaki and Nasir al-Wahayshi have dramatically increased their profile and significance on the ideological battlefield. They have been the individuals leading the way in calling for grassroots jihadists to conduct simple attacks and in fanning the flames over issues such as the Mohammed cartoons. Even the al Qaeda core tried to jump on the AQAP bandwagon when spokesman Adam Gadahn echoed al-Wahayshi’s call for simple grassroots attacks and praised AQAP-inspired Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan as an example for all Muslims to follow. Indeed, it was interesting to watch the core al Qaeda group following the lead of a regional franchise rather than paving the way themselves.

Now, perhaps in a few days or a few weeks, As-Sahab will return to releasing a flurry of slick, high-quality messages as it has done in years past. Maybe fresh videos of bin Laden and al-Zawahiri will appear that will present new ideas, vault them back into prominence in jihadist discourse and motivate their intended audience to action. But we may be witnessing, instead, the eclipse of the al Qaeda core leadership on the ideological battlefield.

The 9/11 Anniversary and What Didn’t Happen is republished with permission of STRATFOR.

2010/07/16

Former Iraqi MP Ayad Jamal Al-Din: Rotation in Iraqi Rule Unavoidable; Like March 14 Coalition in Lebanon, Allawi’s Iraqi List Will Turn to Defending Iran

Former Iraqi MP Ayad Jamal Al-Din: Rotation in Iraqi Rule Unavoidable; Like March 14 Coalition in Lebanon, Allawi’s Iraqi List Will Turn to Defending Iran; ‘What Is Important to [America] Is That Iraq is Not a Harmful Country… So the Administration and Congress Can Turn to Confronting Iran’

Following are excerpts from an interview with former Iraqi MP Ayad Jamal Al-Din, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on July 12, 2010:

To view this clip on MEMRI TV, visit http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/2549.htm.

To view the MEMRI TV page for Ayad Jamal Al-Din, visit http://www.memri.org/subject/en/821.htm.

To view the MEMRI Democratization and Reform Project page, visit http://www.memritv.org/subject/en/66.htm; to view Leading Arab and Muslim Reformists page, visit http://www.memri.org/content/en/leading_arab_and_muslim_reformists:

“Splitting the Rule Is Unavoidable… In the Interest of Establishing a Government Quickly”

Interviewer: “As of the day after tomorrow, there will be a constitutional vacuum. I’d like to ask about the implications: To what extent will this affect the situation in Iraq, and what are the greatest fears with regard to this vacuum?”

Ayad Jamal Al-Din: “Thank you. In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. I don’t think that the constitutional vacuum presents a complicated problem, because the constitution itself has long been violated by those who drew it up. Many articles and laws have been violated throughout these years. Therefore, the Federal Supreme Court has become politicized, and the constitutional experts in this court are capable of finding a way out from this so-called problem.

“The problem in Iraq goes far beyond a constitutional or legal problem. There is an impasse between the two main blocs, the State of Law Coalition and the Iraqi List party, regarding who should fill the position of prime minister. In my view, this problem will not be resolved through negotiations, because there is no dispute regarding the political platform. The dispute is about this or that individual.

“In my humble opinion, splitting the rule is unavoidable – with Dr. Ayad Allawi ruling for two years, and Al-Malaki ruling for two years – in the interest of establishing a government quickly, in order to help the Iraqis in their crisis.” […]

“I Don’t Think That Any Iraqi Politician, Myself Included, Refers to the American Presence in Iraq as ‘Occupation'”

“I don’t think that any Iraqi politician, myself included, refers to the American presence in Iraq as ‘occupation.’ There is a consensus about the American presence in Iraq, and the only exception is the Sadrist movement. What is in dispute is the Iranian presence in Iraq. Some people hope that the Iraqi list will save Iraq from the Iranian influence. In my opinion, these people are overly optimistic.”

“As Soon As They Get Their Hands on Half the Rule… The Leaders of [The Iraqi List] Will Become the Staunchest Defenders of the Iranian Presence in Iraq”

“I draw a parallel between the Iraqi List and the March 14 Coalition in Lebanon. They are exactly alike, with the same supporters and the same approach. In order to understand, Iraqi viewers should go back to the March 14 rhetoric, before Sa’d Al-Hariri became prime minister. Look at how loudly they talked against the Iranian influence in Lebanon. But as soon as he came to power, the Lebanese PM became the staunchest defender of the resistance.

“We see the same thing with the Iraqi List – that Iraqi March 14 Coalition. We hear some of them talking about confronting Iranian influence in Iraq, but I am convinced that as soon as they get their hands on half the rule – and all the more so if they get the rule all for themselves – the leaders of this list will become the staunchest defenders of the Iranian presence in Iraq.” […]

“What Is Important to [America] Is That Iraq is Not a Harmful Country… So the Administration and Congress Can Turn to Confronting Iran”

“In America, they don’t want to hear anything about Iraq. They want to withdraw and that’s it. They don’t want to admit that their plan has failed, because this would have negative domestic consequences, with the November elections drawing near. America cannot find a solution or even deal with finding solutions. What is important [to them] is that Iraq is not a harmful country, and so the administration and Congress can turn to confronting Iran, in order to resolve the problem in the Middle East in a comprehensive way.

“Therefore, whether Biden comes or not, they will have nothing new to offer. They have left the problem entirely up to the rival sides in Iraq, who fight over political positions, and not about the platform according to which the country should be run.”

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