Archive for December, 2005

Hundreds of Bassji and militiamen deployed in Shiraz [Iran]

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

SMCCDI (Information Service)
December 31, 2005

Hundreds of Bassji and militiamen have been deployed in the central City of Shiraz and its suburbs. These repressive forces are composed by the most brutal elements of the Ashoora and Al-Zahra brigades.

Tens of residents have been arrested and many Shirazis especially women have been harassed for the same usual pretexts, such as, the “non observance of Islamic tradition or mandatory veil”.


Mississauga-Erindale, Islamists, and a CCD Retraction

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

By Andrew L. Jaffee

On December 19, the Canadian Coalition for Democracies (CCD) issued a press release warning of Islamist penetration into Canadian politics, but now wishes to clarify its stance. The CCD’s clarification is shown below, but note the important commentary by Daniel Pipes, also shown below — both posted with permission from the original authors.


Assad Has Entered… The Twilight Zone

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

The situation for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad just keeps getting more untenable by the day. Abdul Halim Khaddam, Assad’s former Vice-President, admitted to al-Arabiya TV that the Syrian President personally “threatened former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri only months before his death.” Assad has entered the Twilight Zone — or, analogously, an O. Henry novella — in which the calculating antagonist gets his just deserts under completely ironic circumstances.

Hariri’s crime was to publicly call for an end to Syria’s occupation of Lebanon. But this was apparently too much to ask of Assad, because:

Syrian gains from occupying Lebanon are several:

  • Economic self-interest. About 1.2 million untaxed and unregulated Syrian workers are employed in Lebanon generating over $3 billion for the ailing Syrian command-and-control economy. Lebanon also serves as a closed market for Syrian products, not widely desirable in other parts of the world.
  • Diplomatic advantages. During Arab summits or conferences, Damascus often uses Lebanese proxies to advance its own political interests. When Syria seeks to sponsor anti-American resolutions, Lebanon will most likely do the heavy lifting.
  • Geostrategic gains. Lebanon is the most direct land route to invade Israel (and vice versa). Also, Lebanon is host to a multitude of Syrian-backed terrorist organizations, which operate with greater impunity there than they do in Syria itself and use Lebanon as a launch pad for cross border attacks on Israel (Damascus would never dream of allowing terrorist groups to attack Israel directly from Syrian soil).

Khaddam’s revelations will only add fuel to the growing fire burning under Assad:

A UN investigation has implicated Syria in the assassination. Syria denies it was involved.

UN investigator Detlev Mehlis said several sources had said they had been told by Hariri that Mr Assad had threatened “to break Lebanon over [his] head”, if he did not support the extension of Lebanese President Emil Lahoud’s term.

Mr Khaddam told al-Arabiya television: “Assad told me he had delivered some very, very harsh words to Hariri… something like ‘I will crush anyone who tries to disobey us’.” …

He told al-Arabiya he was “convinced that the process of development and reforms, be they political, economic or administrative, will not succeed”.

No reform will be possible while Syria is held captive by the Assad dynasty. Regime change is in order, but this time it will hopefully come from within.

Soccer game leads to another political action in Tehran

Saturday, December 31st, 2005

SMCCDI (Information Service)
December 30, 2005

Hundreds of young Iranians used the crowd occasion, offered by another soccer game today, in order to express their total rejection of the Islamic regime and its repressive rule. The local soccer game played, at the Tehran’s Azadi (‘Freedom’ formerly known as Aryamehr) Stadium, turned violent when hundreds were attacked the regime’s forces which reacted to the destruction of the theocracy’s symbols of power, such as, flag or posters.

Slogans against the clerical leadership and its Islamist technocrats were shouted by the soccer fans.


Japan Emerges from Stagflation… Finally

Friday, December 30th, 2005

By Andrew L. Jaffee

The good economic numbers keep coming out of Japan, but perhaps the best news is that the House of the Rising Sun is starting to experience a little price inflation. No, that is not a typo — I said inflation.

Gross domestic product (GDP) increased 1.7% in the most recent quarter — Japan’s GDP has now shown four straight quarters of growth. Today, CNNMoney announced that:


Tentative execution leads to riot in northwestern Iran

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

SMCCDI (Information Service)
December 29, 2005

The tentative execution of a political prisoner resulted, today, in a violent riot at the Oroomiah (former Rezai-e) prison.

Security forces and militiamen were sent to back the prison’s guards against the inmates. Plastic bullets and tear gas was used against the prisoners who set fire to several corridors.

Tens have been injured including the prison’s manager.

Security forces were able to extract “Massod Shokeh”, condemned to death, and have him transferred to another location for re-scheduling his immediate execution estimated as early as tomorrow.

Two other Iranians were executed publicly, yesterday and this morning by the Islamic regime, in the cities of Ilam and Tayibad located in west Iran. Their names were Eskandar Morajei, aged 30, and Yar-Mohamad Samadi, aged 20.


Fisk of LA Times: Media too soft on Israel

Thursday, December 29th, 2005

Israel’s treatment by the main stream media is not exactly positive under any sane analysis, but not according to the Los Angeles Times columnist Robert Fisk. Of all the subjects he could pick to complain about, he claims that Western media is too soft on Israel — a claim that can be easily disputed.

The Jewish state has been hounded, collectively by the UN, and individually by European, Third World, and certain North American nations (The Great White North, eh?), for years regarding its “occupation” of the West Bank and Gaza. In contrast, asking someone on the street if they ever heard of Indonesia’s 56-year occupation of Aceh, the person would most likely return a deer-in-the-headlights expression on his/her face.

As of last August, Jakarta maintained approximately 15,000 police and 35,000 soldiers in its captured satellite state or “province” (what about “independent republic” as the Soviets called Armenia or Lithuania?).

Yesterday’s LA Times spared a few paragraphs vaguely describing Aceh’s separatists disbanding their militias and Jakarta agreeing to withdraw its troops. No words like “occupation” were used in the article. No mention was made of Indonesia’s contractual addendums to the peace agreement hedging that it “is committed to stationing no more than 14,700 soldiers and 9,100 police in Aceh, all of which are to be locals.” I’ll believe the “locals” claim when I see it — like the Soviet tactic, inherited from Caesar’s divide et impera practice, of making sure Russian soldiers made up the majority of “invited peace-keepers” in Armenia and Latvia.

Also in yesterday’s LA Times, it published a rant by Robert Risk, bemoaning what a colleague described as “enormous pressures on American journalists in the Middle East” — like this:

“I used to call the Israeli Likud Party ‘right wing,’ ” he said. “But recently, my editors have been telling me not to use the phrase. A lot of our readers objected.” And so now, I asked? “We just don’t call it ‘right wing’ anymore.”

Ouch. I knew at once that these “readers” were viewed at his newspaper as Israel’s friends, but I also knew that the Likud under Benjamin Netanyahu was as right wing as it had ever been.

This is only the tip of the semantic iceberg that has crashed into American journalism in the Middle East. Illegal Jewish settlements for Jews and Jews only on Arab land are clearly “colonies,” and we used to call them that. I cannot trace the moment when we started using the word “settlements.” But I can remember the moment around two years ago when the word “settlements” was replaced by “Jewish neighborhoods” — or even, in some cases, “outposts.”

Similarly, “occupied” Palestinian land was softened in many American media reports into “disputed” Palestinian land — just after then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, in 2001, instructed U.S. embassies in the Middle East to refer to the West Bank as “disputed” rather than “occupied” territory.

Then there is the “wall,” the massive concrete obstruction whose purpose, according to the Israeli authorities, is to prevent Palestinian suicide bombers from killing innocent Israelis. In this, it seems to have had some success. But it does not follow the line of Israel’s 1967 border and cuts deeply into Arab land. And all too often these days, journalists call it a “fence” rather than a “wall.” Or a “security barrier,” which is what Israel prefers them to say. For some of its length, we are told, it is not a wall at all — so we cannot call it a “wall,” even though the vast snake of concrete and steel that runs east of Jerusalem is higher than the old Berlin Wall.

The semantic effect of this journalistic obfuscation is clear. If Palestinian land is not occupied but merely part of a legal dispute that might be resolved in law courts or discussions over tea, then a Palestinian child who throws a stone at an Israeli soldier in this territory is clearly acting insanely.

If a Jewish colony built illegally on Arab land is simply a nice friendly “neighborhood,” then any Palestinian who attacks it must be carrying out a mindless terrorist act.

And surely there is no reason to protest a “fence” or a “security barrier” — words that conjure up the fence around a garden or the gate arm at the entrance to a private housing complex.

For Palestinians to object violently to any of these phenomena thus marks them as a generically vicious people. By our use of language, we condemn them.

Fisk sounds pretty sure of his paranoia about censorship, but the “enormous pressures” he describes do not exist. All’s you have to do is go to the Washington Post, New York Times, or BBC’s websites, and you’ll still see “journalists” using the terms “right wing,” “settlements,” “wall,” “occupied,” etc.

Fisk’s Los Angeles paper itself referred to the “Israeli army and its occupation of the West Bank” on Sunday.

The NYT used the term “Jewish settlements” twice today (see also here). The WP called Israel’s fence a “wall” on Sunday. The BBC labeled the Iranian President as “conservative” after he called for the genocide of the Israeli people, while Britain’s same national news agency tagged a democratically elected Israeli politician — ex-Likud — as “right wing.”

In addition, I recently pointed out that a full text search of the BBC news site for the term “Syrian occupation Lebanon” yields 135 hits, while a search for “Israeli occupation” yields 847.

Wouldn’t you think that Fisk would’ve done a little fact-checking before expressing his fears of these “enormous pressures on American journalists in the Middle East?”

In fact, the LA Times is one of the most anti-Israeli newspapers out there, according to Join the Boycott – Protesting Anti-Israel Propaganda in the Los Angeles Times and Beyond.

How many times has the Jewish state made concessions to the Palestinians? Returning Sinai to Egypt, Oslo, unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and, most recently, permitting Palestinians to pass between Egypt and Gaza through the Rafah border crossing — after which senior members of Hamas wanted by Israel have returned to the Gaza Strip through Rafah, unheeded by Palestinian Authority border officials.

Technically speaking, Israel tried to negotiate with the Arabs in 1918, 1949, 1967, 1968, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1993, and 2000.* Even though Israel is a tiny sliver of land, she gave up territory in 1957, 1974, 1975, 1982, 1988, 1994, 1995, 1998,* and 2005.

But the average shmo on the street would not have a clue of these positive facts — because Israel’s side of the story is/was swept under the carpet by iconic American anchor-people like Dan Rather and Peter Jennings. On the other hand, listeners to mainstream media bias have heard Israel described with the loaded terms “right wing,” “settlements,” “wall,” and “occupation” over and over and over again…

But as a minor footnote to today’s headlines, Indonesia finally provisionally agreed to end its occupation of Aceh — after decades of repression and 70,000 dead.

What newspapers does Mr. Fisk use as sources for his claim of “enormous pressures on American journalists in the Middle East?” And why the equivocation about all the world’s current “occupations,” if as Fisk says, the media is “Telling it like it isn’t?”

Editor’s notes: Hat-tip to Join the Boycott.


Winning the Propaganda War

Wednesday, December 28th, 2005

by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun*
December 27, 2005
* Cross-posted with permission

It comes as a relief to learn that Karen Hughes, who runs the public diplomacy shop at the U.S. State Department, has suspended the pathetic effort to reach out to Arab and other foreign audiences via a taxpayer-funded magazine named Hi International (best remembered for a notorious June 2005 article, “Sharp-Dressed Men,” that told how “real men moisturize“).


An Interview with Daniel Pipes

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

by Mitch Rocklin and Oren Litwin
The Commentator (Yeshiva College)*
December 19, 2005
* Cross-posted with permission

Daniel Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum and a prize-winning columnist for the New York Sun, Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, and The Jerusalem Post. He received his B.A. (1971) and Ph.D. (1978) from Harvard University, both in history. He spent six years studying abroad, including three years in Egypt. He has taught at the University of Chicago, Harvard University, and the U.S. Naval War College.


Tehran Bus Drivers Make Partial Strike Despite Repression [Iran]

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

SMCCDI (Information Service)
December 25, 2005

Hundreds of the Greater Tehran’s collective bus drivers made a partial strike, today, despite official warnings and the increase of repression at their terminals. The drivers were intending to protest against their poor conditions and the arrest of several of their colleagues.

Security forces were distpatched in the capital’s main avenues, especially in Vali-e-Asr, where several bus drivers had created road blocks. These drivers were soon attacked and arrested. Their buses were driven back by militiamen to the terminals.


Bus drivers rounded up for protest [Iran]

Tuesday, December 27th, 2005

SMCCDI (Information Service)
December 23, 2005

Tens of drivers of the Greater Tehran’s collective buses were rounded up, today, in downtown Tehran. The drivers were intending to protest against their poor conditions and the arrest of several of their colleagues.

Tens of security agents and plainclothes men intervened immediately and arrested the demonstrators after filming the area and taking pictures from protesters. Militia’s Commander Jaffarzadeh was heard stating to the protesters: “You must end your gathering or I’ll cut off your head!”


Happy Kwanzchrismakahmadanapada!

Thursday, December 22nd, 2005

No. I won’t recite something smarmy or cliché, but rather a quote from a beautiful Star Trek episode:

“The glory of creation is in its infinite diversity.” “And in the way our differences combine to create meaning and beauty.” — Dr. Miranda Jones and Spock, “Is There in Truth No Beauty?”, stardate 5630.8

True diversity means no homicide bombings...

Saddam tortured… and the Pope ain’t Catholic

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

Please… Even the BBC ain’t buying Saddam’s wild claims that the U.S. tortured him. It is totally pathetic: The great dictator throwing tantrums like a little baby:

The prosecution gave little credence to the former president’s claim he had been tortured, saying he was being held in an air-conditioned room when some of Baghdad had no power.

Maybe we’ll be “shocked” by seeing him in his undies again…?

Libya and the U.S.: Qadhafi Unrepentant

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

by Mohamed Eljahmi
Middle East Quarterly*
Winter 2006
* Cross-posted with permission

Despite Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi’s international rehabilitation, the Libyan leader remains resistant to reform and intolerant of dissent. His ultimate goal—preservation of power—remains unchanged. His decision to abandon his weapons of mass destruction program was not a moral epiphany but rather a calculated attempt to launder his image in order to earn him an exemption from the U.S. effort to democratize the Middle East. So far, his strategy is working. The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, for example, has licensed companies to enter into business with Libya.[1] Washington’s policy toward Libya is counterproductive, however. People across the Middle East juxtapose U.S. rhetoric regarding terrorism and dictatorship with the White House embrace of Libya and conclude that the Bush administration is insincere.


A Quandary to Our Queries

Wednesday, December 21st, 2005

Before going on to my post, I want to announce that I am back bloging for netWMD on my usually erratic schedule, which, even so, is more stable now that I have finally found a very rewarding and good paying job. No more horrible stress and distractions. I will also be quite busy but not too much to keep me from dropping by here and there to raise some hell. I thank my dear and life-long friend and netWMD colleague, Drew, for making this forum possible for me and others. Kudos to him, as always, for his hard work. He also has a full life beyond this blog but manages to find time to make it work full-time. Don’t know how the man does it!

Now for a ltitle business.

There’s a lot being said about Bush’s wiretapping without a warrant. However, this intrusion into our privacy is nothing new. According to Drudge, Clinton did it and so did Carter. Clinton “authorized to approve physical searches, without a court order” during what it now falsely deemed the golden age of peace during the fat 90s, when our current and real enemies were planning death in secret. So why did Clinton seek such a broad extention of his executive powers? Bush at least has done so with the war against Islamism as an alibi. Ditto for Carter during the Cold War.

Goverment intrusion into our private lives is a serious problem, especially during wartime when we want our government to protect us against our enemies. But the bigger problem, I think, is something none of us really wants to entertain for too long, and that is, we live in an age of instantaneous communication and intrusive information-gathering: citizen to citizen as well as government to citizen. It is in the nature of our current technologically progressive age (perhaps unprecedented in world history over the past 50 years?) that we have less and less privacy. There seems to be no way to reverse this trend, which will most likely continue with every advance we find good for the betterment of our material lives.

If we live in an age where information and communication are literally at our fingertips and promises to make them only more so in short order, then are we not also all the more vulnerable to being the “object” of information-gathering? To what degree can we keep our government, any government, from using against us the very technology we hold dear? We seek and are sought, we query and are queried, we snoop and are snooped on—in an instant. We will be harmed by what benefits us. Our new gadgetry of luxuries and accumulated necessities will turn on us at the most inopportune time and when we least expect it.

The stakes are high because we are fighting a war and the government does need to gather intelligence. Bush is shrill to claim the New York Times is aiding the enemy by exposing his abuse of wiretapping. That kind of rhetoric will get him nowhere. Better for him to have his political enemies vent and rave. That always seems to work with middle-roaders like me who realize the Dems have no way of knowing how to win office and have every chance when Bush looks bad to bring him down but only manage to look more stupid in trying to do so.

Back to the future: technology is here to stay unless a critical mass of people become Luddites and smash the computers. Fat chance. I love mine and am using it now so you can read this on yours. Just so you don’t get too carried away with this now taken-for-granted luxury, remember that there are other pairs of eyes watching you. . . .

Do I mean to say throw up your arms and do nothing? No, of course not. Yet let’s not forget that the sword has two edges and that it is wiser in this case to keep the sharp side away from us as much as possible. I don’t feel less safe that Bush’s wiretapping has been exposed. We can still find and kill or capture the enemy. I just want to make sure a wartime necessity is not abused so we can secure as much freedom for our lives as possible after our enemies are already dead and buried.