Archive for February, 2006

Fire damages students’ dorm in Ahvaz [Iran]

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

SMCCDI (Information Service)
February 28, 2006

Part of the Ahvaz Medical School’s dorm was damaged by fire yesterday.

The fire is believed to be the work of rebel groups that are trying to create turmoil in the region due to their lack of popularity. But such terrorist actions are in reality fueling the Islamic regime’s propaganda machine as they’re reminding the residents how these groups were killing and murdering Iranians of every ethnicity before the Iraqi invasion of Iran.

It’s to note that several British and American circles are currently supporting rebel and terrorist groups, such as the Al-Ahwaz, in their attempt to undermine the Islamic regime. But such ill policy is in reality harming Iranians who are attached to the territorial integrity of their country and are supportive of the West.

Mr. Bush declared, last July, the need of respecting the territorial integrity of Iran. But alarming reports are noting existing projects, such as in the US military forces, about promoting ethnic unrest in Iran.

Many Iranians of Arab origin fought with empty hands against Iraqi and Arab legions during the 1980-88 invasion of Iran.

For a better understanding of Iran’s population, check: http://daneshjoo.org/article/publish/article_2206.shtml

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Civil War in Iraq?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun*
February 28, 2006
http://www.danielpipes.org/article/3423
* Cross-posted with permission

The bombing on February 22 of the Askariya shrine in Samarra, Iraq, was a tragedy, but it was not an American or a coalition tragedy.

The destruction of the Golden Dome, built in 1905 and one of the holiest shrines of Shiite Islam, represents an escalation of the Sunni assault on the Shiites, a purposeful outrage intended to provoke an emotional backlash. It signals not Sunni weakness but the determination of elements in Iraq’s long-ruling community to reassert its dominance. Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani, has rightly warned, “The fire of sedition, when it breaks out, can burn everything in its path and spare no one.” One shudders at the possible carnage ahead.

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Gay Adoption: Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

The Islamists want to stone gays to death. But enlightened people recognize Islamism for the barbarian ideology it is. So I find it incomprehensible that anti-gay sentiments still exist in the U.S., one of the great bastions of civilization on Earth.

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EU Statement on Mohammed Cartoons Lukewarm

Monday, February 27th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

The EU has once again kowtowed to angry Muslim reactions to the Mohammed cartoons, but is improving its stance at least a little. It got a head start on February 10, when:

…EU Justice and Security Commissioner Franco Frattini said the charter [media code of conduct] would encourage the media to show “prudence” when covering religion.

“The press will give the Muslim world the message: We are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression,” he told the newspaper. “We can and we are ready to self-regulate that right.”

Sounds like submission to me.

Today’s statement from the EU was a little better. First, the good news:

…the ministers also defended freedom of speech and condemned the violent response to the cartoons. …

“The Council [of EU member states] expresses its deep concern at the events that followed the publication of cartoons in a number of European and other media,” the ministers’ statement says. …

Diplomats said that at least one country, the Netherlands, had at first opposed the decision to express “regret”.

The Czech government was also reported to be concerned that apologising would undermine the freedom fo the media. …

In a reference to boycotts of Danish products by some Muslims, the ministers’ said “boycotts against individual member states are unacceptable”.

Now, the submissive, bad news:

“The Council acknowledges and regrets that these cartoons were considered offensive and distressing by Muslims across the world.” …

“Freedom of expression should be exercised in a spirit of respect for religious and other beliefs and convictions. Mutual tolerance and respect are universal values we should all uphold,” they said. …

Denmark has sought to calm Muslim anger by promising to hold a religious conference, donate money to a UN agency fighting prejudice and stage a Muslim cultural exhibition.

And just how many times has appeasement worked?

Special Report: Danish Cartoons

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OIC Speaks with Forked Tongue

Monday, February 27th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

The Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) has issued a statement both condemning violent Muslim reactions to the Mohammed cartoons, but urging the suppression of free speech. First, the good news:

[The] …(OIC) has denounced calls for the death of the Danish cartoonist who satirised the Prophet Mohammad. …

The OIC’s Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told journalists in Islamabad: “This is not a joke to go and say kill this and that. This is a very serious matter and nobody has the authority to issue a ruling to kill people.”

He said that violent protests, such as burning of vehicles and buildings did not project the true spirit of Islam in the eyes of the West.

“Violence weakens us. Violence works against us. Anything except violence is helpful.”

Mr Ihsanoglu also denounced the calls for boycott of Danish and European products across the Muslim world.

Now, the implicit intolerance (demand for submission to Islamist sentiments) and complete misunderstanding of the spirit of free expression:

He said the OIC was seeking an assurance from the EU that such incidents would not be repeated in the future and called upon the West to ensure that the dignity of Islam was respected.

Mr Ihsanoglu expressed regret at the failure of some newspapers and governments to apologise to Muslims and rejected the justification that it was an issue of freedom of expression.

“What we are looking for is that you take our sensitivities in your definition [of freedom of expression]. If you fail to do that… it will be a problem of credibility and a problem of universality of European values.”

How many times can this be repeated: How can people make educated decisions of any subject without seeing information on that subject for themselves?

Educating the Third World on democratic principles will be no easy task.

Special Report: Danish Cartoons

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Are We Playing for Keeps?

Monday, February 27th, 2006

by Michael Rubin
Wall Street Journal*
February 27, 2006
http://www.meforum.org/article/898
* Cross-posted with permission

On Feb. 22, terrorists bombed the Askariya shrine in Samarra, Iraq. The attack shocked Iraqis and infuriated Shiites. The Iranian government sought to direct public anger toward Washington. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei blamed “intelligence agencies of the occupiers of Iraq and the Zionists.” Iran’s Arabic-language al-Alam television repeated the accusations on Feb. 23. Because al-Alam is broadcast terrestrially, it is particularly influential among poor Iraqis who cannot afford a satellite dish. Furthermore, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the powerful Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri), a movement aligned to Tehran, blamed U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad for the attack. “Certainly he is partly responsible for what happened,” Mr. al-Hakim said.

He is not, nor is Washington, despite the U.S. policymaking elite’s tendency to self-flagellate. Blame for terrorism rests solely upon its perpetrators and their sponsors. Here, though, the White House has lost focus. While journalists concentrate on the daily blood, Iraqis describe a larger pattern which U.S. officials have failed to acknowledge let alone address: Step-by-step, Iranian authorities are replicating in Iraq the strategy which allowed Hezbollah to take over southern Lebanon in the 1980s. The playbook — military, economic and information operation — is almost identical.

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Quote of the Week (on the Sex Pistols)

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

The Sex Pistols, true to their spit-in-your-eye, “God-save-the-Queen-the-fascist-regime” style, have announced they will boycott their own induction into Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Of course, these worn-out punkers, whose own Sid Vicious OD’ed in 1979, made a completely hypocritical public statement (as if they were never in it for the money):

We’re not your monkeys, we’re not coming. You’re not paying attention.

Let’s get historically accurate here: Genius Malcolm McClaren concocted the talentless Pistols out of nothing… to make money — which I have no problem with. Just be honest about it, please.

But Susan Evans, executive director of the Hall, gave the most level-headed response to nonsense I’ve heard in awhile:

They are being the outrageous punksters they are, and that’s rock ‘n’ roll.

Yeaahhhh, baby. That’s it!

The Pistols are full of it. Singer Johnny Rotten profited from their brief spotlight (via PIL) for years. And the band certainly didn’t shy away from capitalizing on the geriatric, $200/ticket rocker revival of the 90′s:

They reformed for a tour in 1996, and came back in 2002 to re-release God Save The Queen to coincide with the Golden Jubilee.

Still rocking, and still hypocrites…


Iraqi Leaders Attempt to Quiet Situation

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

There are some hopeful signs out of Iraq today, reports the BBC:

Political and militia leaders in Iraq say they have made progress in talks aimed at curbing sectarian violence. …

Sunni clerics and one of the main Shia militias have agreed to work together to prevent further sectarian bloodshed.

And a senior Sunni politician told the BBC that a new security plan had been worked out by Sunni and Shia leaders which could help relieve tensions. …

The BBC’s Jon Brain in Baghdad says there is renewed hope that political leaders will be able to salvage the stalled political process and form a coalition government.

The extreme violence of the past few days appears to have concentrated minds on trying to find a solution to the country’s sectarian divisions, he says.

and

Shia and Sunni Muslim leaders in Iraq and abroad have used Friday prayers to call for calm amid sectarian strife sparked by an attack on an Iraq shrine.

Using militias could lead to a further entrenchment of sectartian divisions, though. But the Beeb did point out that the Iraqi army has replaced more locally-based security forces in several areas.

I just hope Iraqis as a whole see the bombing of the al-Askari shrine in Samarra as the cynical act it was, perpetrated by Sunni terrorists (as usual) precisely to sow the seeds of civil war.


One Step Forward, Two Steps Back?

Saturday, February 25th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

Are Iraqis stepping up to the plate, or are they allowing American soldiers to do the heavy lifting? From the VOA — first, the good news:

In its quarterly report to Congress on the situation in Iraq, the Pentagon says the number of Iraqi battalions capable of leading in battle, with U.S. troops in a supporting role, has grown by nearly 50 percent in the last three months, from 36 units to 53. It adds that the number actually engaged in combat is up 11 percent.

And now, the bad:

But Pentagon officials say the number of battalions able to operate without U.S. help has fallen to zero. Last year, three battalions were said to be able to fight independently.

I honor the courage of Iraqis who have braved terrorism to vote, build new social institutions, rebuild infrastructure, establish an independent judiciary, etc. But it has been three years since Saddam’s removal. Maybe I’m being too much of an armchair quarterback, but there’s not one Iraqi battalion that can stand on its own?

I’ve been a long-time supporter of President Bush’s Middle East strategy, not just because I’m idealistic, but because I’ve seen tangible ROI (return on investment).

Afghanistan’s Taliban and Iraq’s Butcher of Baghdad have been knocked over, creating a strong wind blowing against the Middle East’s dictators. The United Arab Emirates announced plans for its first elections. Millions of Afghans have voted twice, millions of Iraqis have voted thrice, Lebanon is free of Syrian occupation (and has held elections), Kuwait has granted women the right to vote, and Saudi Arabia has held municipal elections — even allowed women to vote and stand as candidates. Palestinians and Egyptians have voted, and even if the West is shocked with the winners (Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood), those are the perils of democracy.

But the plodding progress in Iraq has me almost concerned enough to ask the following questions. Are too many Iraqis waiting for “someone” to make the big decisions (e.g., another dictator)? Is democracy (acceptance of personal responsibility) just too alien a concept for Iraqis to embrace?

The reason I say “almost” is because of the pedantic, condescending nature of the questions. The implicit inference is that Arabs are somehow not quite human enough to embrace liberty — a concept I fully reject.

Nevertheless, Iraqis must step up to the plate quickly, unify, and destroy the terrorists, or all that has been accomplished in the last 3 years will be lost, and al-Qaeda will rule in the cradle of civilization. My hope, and the hope of many other Iraq war supporters, will not last indefinitely.


London Mayor’s Racism is “Feisty” to Reuters

Friday, February 24th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

While the Mohammed cartoons are widely described as an “unforgivable insult” by the mainstream media, Reuters calls anti-Semitic comments by London’s Mayor “feisty.” Britain’s Jews haven’t gone on a rampage of killing and burning, despite Mayor Livingstone’s refusal to apologize. The outrageous double-standard continues. Here’s what the mayor of a city of 8 million people said, from Fox:

The mayor had told the panel that he had not meant to offend the Jewish community when he asked Evening Standard reporter Oliver Finegold whether he had been a “German war criminal.”

Finegold, who had approached the mayor for comment after a reception for the gay and lesbian community in February, replied that he was Jewish.

Livingstone told the reporter he was “just like a concentration camp guard. You’re just doing it because you’re paid to, aren’t you?” He referred to Finegold’s employer as “a load of scumbags and reactionary bigots.”

Au contraire, I believe the mayor did mean to offend, as anti-Semitism has become common parlance among European/American/Leftist elites. They just hide their hatred by explaining, “I’m not anti-Semitic, I’m anti-Zionist.” Other forms of discrimination are common — as long as the bigotry is aimed in a politically correct direction, or the person making the comments has the correct political affiliation (or ethnicity).

A few weeks ago, Muslim protestors in London carried placards which stated, “Massacre those who insult Islam;” “Europe you will pay, your 9/11 will come;” “Behead those who insult Islam;” “Be prepared for the real Holocaust;” and “Butcher those who mock Islam.”

Democratic Senator Robert Byrd once belonged to the KKK and used the term “white nigger” on national television. Anti-European-American, racist comments have been enshrined in a monument erected with taxpayer money in Baldwin Park, California. Kamau Kambon, visiting professor at North Carolina State University, called for the elimination of all white people on the planet. U of Colorado prof Ward Churchill labeled 9/11 victims as “Nazis.” Harry Belafonte referred to Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell as “Uncle Toms.” And Howard Dean quipped that African Americans are only good for the dirty jobs as “hotel staff.”

What? No riots? In fact, none of those involved in the above-mentioned incidents have been censured in any meaningful way.

On the other hand, Trent Lott had to resign his position as U.S. Senate Majority Leader for less innocuous comments made in December 2002.

Livingstone is facing some consequences. He

…has been suspended from office on full pay for four weeks for comparing a Jewish journalist to a concentration camp guard.

The Adjudication Panel for England ruled Ken Livingstone had brought his office into disrepute when he acted in an “unnecessarily insensitive” manner.

I personally am not shilling for the suspension of any publicly-elected official, no matter what he/she says, and I don’t live in the UK. My purpose is to point out the double-standard of reactions to “offensive” messages.

The UK’s Green Party has termed the Mayor’s punishment as a “hysterical over-reaction.” Were they so kind to Flemming Rose? I doubt it.

Strange. Jews and Arabs are both Semites, but it seems that anti-Semitism against Jews is acceptable while similar hatred against Arabs/Muslims is not. More generally, and to quote Orwell, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

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“Bush vs. Hillary” OR “Prolonging the UAE Agony”

Friday, February 24th, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

It seems President Bush is hell-bent on squandering the political capital garnered in the 2004 elections. His administration’s decision to allow an Arab company to operate American ports has angered people on both sides of the isle. Anyone with a little bit of political savvy could’ve seen a potential firestorm coming, but Bush et al seem to have missed the boat. After the firestorm started, he remained insistent on sticking with his decision. At one time, his stubbornness would’ve been seen as tenacity, or sticking by principles, but as he repeats this modus operandi, it more and more looks like arrogance or silly intransigence… or political suicide. Here’s the latest:

The White House on Friday welcomed “a slight delay” of the contested deal for a state-owned Arab company to operate terminals at six U.S. ports but said it should still proceed. …

White House press secretary Scott McClellan said, “We believe it would be helpful to have some additional time to brief Congress on the facts.”

“Some additional time, or a slight delay, is the way I’d characterize it,” McClellan added. “It’s not up to us. It’s up to the company.”

This is the third president I’ve watched suffer through a second term in office. The same pattern seems to emerge. His popularity plummets, whether deservedly or not, as people like to complain more than they like to act, the grass is always greener, familiarity breeds contempt, etc., etc.

There’s a real problem this time: There is absolutely no alternative for 2008. The Democratic Party is in worse shape than it ever has been, and Republicans have gotten too used to holding power.

Will you vote for John Kerry, the communist, capitalist, pro-war, anti-war, libertarian, conservative, again? How about Howard Dean, who thinks Osama bin Laden is not necessarily such a bad guy? Vote for Hillary in 2008? After all, she’s been leading the charge against Bush’s UAE gaff.

I doubt it. Have we forgotten her power-happy grab to socialize the American health care system? And her term as a senator has been notable for absolutely nothing… except a whole lot of fence-straddling, in preparation for 2008, just to be sure no one really knows where she stands.

Her opposition to the UAE sale is simple, cynical opportunism (even though I support the legislation itself):

Senator Clinton of New York and her Democratic colleague Robert Mendez of New Jersey have introduced legislation to prohibit companies owned or controlled by foreign governments from buying U.S. ports operations. “Ports are the front lines of the war on terrorism,” Menendez said.

Doesn’t it seem strange that in the case of this incident, a Republican administration is crying bigotry while Democrats are advocating isolationism/protectionism? Now the Democrats are getting (or feigning) tough on terror? (Except for Joe Lieberman.) The tables are turned. Up is down and down is up.

Some alternative. As for Bush, can you say, “Harriet E. Miers II?” It is all rather pathetic, in a time of war, no less — silly politics plus incompetence during a struggle for the survival of civilization.

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Accountability 101

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

Self-criticism, introspection, self-regulation, self-determination, participation, accountability… All concepts incomprehensible to much of the Arab/Muslim world (e.g., the reaction to the Mohammed cartoons). From the BBC:

Inexperience and a lack of planning, discipline and leadership undermined the US response to Hurricane Katrina, a White House report has concluded.

Federal disaster response plans had “significant flaws”, it says.

Among 125 recommendations in the report is a call for more control to be handed to the Pentagon in similar disasters.

The report is the latest in a string of critical judgements on the response to the hurricane which hit last August, killing about 1,300 people.

Compiled by White House homeland security adviser Frances Townsend, the report highlights 11 key areas in need of improvement in case of future disasters.

Can you imagine the office of Syrian President Assad, Egyptian President Mubarak, or Iranian President Ahmadinejad publishing such a report?

Read the full White House report: The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina: Lessons Learned

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Should the U.S. Support the Management of U.S. Ports by an Arab Company?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

By The Free Muslims Coalition

The Bush administration recently approved an Arab company’s attempt to take over the operation of seaports in six major American cities. The sale to a company in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is strongly supported by President Bush but has caused bitter opposition by many politicians on Capitol Hill and with the governors of Maryland and New York. Presently, the right to manage those American ports is owned by a non-American company located in Britain.

In response to fierce criticism, President Bush fired back by saying: “I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a [British] company.” President Bush praised the United Arab Emirates as a great friend of the United States and warned congressional critics against sending the wrong message to the Arab world by condemning a business just because it is Arab-owned. Furthermore, President Bush stated that the deal was fully scrutinized by government officials, who concluded that the deal poses no threat to national security.

The Free Muslims Coalition supports President Bush in his backing of the sale of the management of the Ports to an Arab owned company. The Free Muslims have been the biggest critics of Islamic terrorism and extremism. We have taken numerous positions that were unpopular among our communities when we felt it was the right thing to do. However, just as we have a zero tolerance approach towards terrorism, we also have a zero tolerance approach toward bigotry against Arabs.

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Samarra Bombing: Silver Lining?

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

By Andrew L. Jaffee

I wrote yesterday about the savage destruction of Iraq’s golden dome of the al-Askari shrine in Samarra, probably wrought by Sunni terrorists, in a most cynical attempt at inflaming sectarian divisions. I was thinking out loud as to which direction the Samarra bombing would point Iraq towards: unity or civil war. I can only hope that Shiite, Kurds, and civilized Sunnis will see the Sunni terrorists in the clearest light, especially after this barbaric act towards Shiite Islam:

Over the centuries, the central Iraqi city of Samarra has attracted millions of Shia pilgrims from all over the Muslim world.

An immediate, knee-jerk analysis of the reaction to the al-Askari bombing would show that the Sunni terrorists have accomplished their goal — the start of a civil war. From the BBC:

Three Iraqi journalists working for al-Arabiya TV have been killed near Samarra, a day after a bomb attack damaged a Shia shrine in the city.

Police said the three were kidnapped and killed after they went to report on Wednesday’s attack, which destroyed the golden dome of the al-Askari shrine.

In Baghdad, police say they have recovered the bullet-ridden bodies of 50 people overnight.

Iraq’s leaders are warning publicly about the dangers of a civil war.

Dozens of Sunni mosques have been attacked following the blast in Samarra, and at least 11 people were killed after gunmen entered a prison in the southern city of Basra.

Police say the victims in Basra were suspected Sunni militants, including several foreigners.

A spokesman for Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said the anger may be hard to contain.

The Shiites make up 60% of the population, the Sunnis hold 30%, and the Kurds 10% (approximately). Shittes and Kurds could build an outright ruling coalition without the Sunnis. But 80% of Sunnis turned out in December to vote — demonstrating their willingness to participate in democracy.

The silver lining: Sunni terrorists tried to stifle the elections, but were unable to stop those they profess to “represent” from voting. So we see a split among the Sunnis. Mass Sunni participation is precisely why we saw the Samarra bombing by Sunni terrorists. They don’t want their own people participating in the democratic process. Nonetheless, the Sunnis have participated. Inflaming Shiite attacks against fellow Sunnis is the terrorist idea of a perfect back-door solution for stirring up disunity.

Remember also that the Sunni/Wahabi terrorist goal goes far beyond Iraq. The plan is to ethnically cleanse Iraqi non-believers (Shiites and Kurds) and eventually create a world-wide, Islamist Caliphate.

While the U.S. can support Iraqis, it cannot force each individual citizen to do the right thing, e.g., defeat the terrorists, embrace national reconciliation, and embrace democracy.

These are decisions that must come from the deepest of deepest hearts, minds, and spirits. Iraqis must choose the light or dark side of the force, to put things in George Lucas’ terms.

Making decisions is the ultimate challenge in life. Most often, those choices are only faced under deep duress. The bombing of Samarra was certainly one of those great challenges. And people rarely change deep-down unless their backs are up against the wall.

Iraqis are up against the wall. Let us hope that the worst situation will bring out the best decisions. Otherwise, Iraq’s future will be looking very uncertain.

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Critical Mass

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

Donnel Jones

After Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, if there erupts a civil war in Iraq, it will be safe to say, and painfully apparent to a neo-con like me, that the Bush Doctrine is dead as a door nail, hammered and killed by history as was international socialism before it. Well, at least the thought was nice.

Let’s pray the Iraqi people are not a casualty of their fate and choose to stay the near impossible course toward democracy.

What’s left of my neo-con bias is only my hope.