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Tuesday, February 27, 2007




First We Take Manhattan . . .

The leader of one of the two main Kurdish parties Massoud Barzani has unwisely touched many nerves in the Middle East on Monday when in an interview to the channel NTV Turkey he advised regional leaders to come to terms with the idea that Kurds in Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria have a right to independence. Both Turkish Foreign minister and PM Erdogan were quick to respond. Erdogan directly referred to the campaign by the Iraqi Kurds to regain Kirkuk:

"Kirkuk resembles a small Iraq and is not the registered property of any ethnic group," . . .

"Such an attitude is very wrong with regards to Iraq's future. I believe such an attitude will overshadow peace, love and brotherhood in Iraq," (??? NB) . . .

Source

If Barzani is serious he should better concentrate on matters immediately at hand and keep his mouth shut. The Kurds would be wise to stick to a piece by piece approach. As Leonard Cohen would have put it: First we take Kirkuk . . .


PS

This post is written by Israeli who probably wants to see Kurdish independence in all four afore-mentioned countries more than the Kurds themselves.

;)

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Sunday, February 25, 2007




Thirst for Blood

Joseph Fil, commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, was wisely trying to reduce the expectations at the beginning of the latest joint US/Iraq security operation in Baghdad. Commenting on a sharp reduction in violence during the first days of the operation Fil said:

"But make no mistake, we do not believe ... that's going to continue, and we do expect there are going to be some very rough, difficult days ahead,"

"And this enemy knows how — they understand lethality and they have a thirst for blood like I have never seen anywhere before."

Source

What followed almost immediately was a deadly week of car bomb and suicide attacks with the Sunni insurgents trying to stage chemical attacks using chlorine canisters. Fortunately for the Iraqi Shia, the casualties from the chlorine attacks were low as the heat of explosions largely destroyed the chlorine itself. The insurgents have still some way to go before they can credit themselves with the ability to assemble effective chlorine bombs. A few dozens of people ended in hospitals with respiratory problems but on the whole the chlorine clouds caused more panic than the actual number of victims would suggest.

This week culminated yesterday in an attack on a Sunni mosque ran by a pro-government imam. It was the first attack of this kind in which Sunni insurgents targeted members of their own community. About 100 Sunni worshipers were killed and wounded when a truck with explosives was detonated as they were leaving the mosque.

And today to complete the picture, Mustansiriyah university once again came under attack as a suicide bomber detonated a bomb-rigged belt near the main entrance to the college, where students were resuming midterm exams after the two-day weekend in Iraq. According to reports the guards confronted the kamikadze at the entrance and so prevented a major disaster but even so the toll was high with 41 students dead. The university was attacked several times before. In January a twin car bomb attack killed 70 and wounded 140 students and staff members.


PS

May Allah save these Arabs from themselves


Update:

The death toll from the attack on a Sunni mosque in Anbar province was updated to 52 dead and 74 wounded.

It appears that the attacker in Mustansiriyah was a female suicide bomber. The attack was carried out on the business school faculty of the university.

Update 2:

Most of over 40 students who died in the suicide attack on Mustansiriyah yesterday are reported to be female students.

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Full Circle

On Saturday a truck loaded with explosives targeted worshipers as they were leaving a mosque west of Baghdad. The initial reports put the number of casualties at 100 with 35 dead. While technically speaking shit of this kind happens in Iraq and almost daily there was something out of ordinary about this attack. This is because it was a Sunni mosque and the victims were Sunni Muslims. AP reports:

The imam of the mosque in Habbaniyah, about 50 miles west of Baghdad, had spoken out against militants fighting the U.S.-backed government, including the group al-Qaida in Iraq.

. . .

There was no claim of responsibility, but suspicion fell on battles between Sunni groups in Anbar province west of Baghdad. Militants have increased attacks against Sunni leaders who support the government and denounce violence.

Source

Given that the Shia militias are still falling far behind the Sunni insurgents on everything related to transforming manslaughter into an art in its own right, this is indeed a plausible suggestion. The Shia militiamen usually practice outdated shoot-to-the-head style techniques when it comes to harassing the Sunni population. Either out of general backwardness or for the lack of trucks but the attacks of this kind are unpopular with the Mahdi Army and Badr brigades.

Yet if the truck was indeed brought to the mosque by the Sunni insurgents, then it's a truly landmark attack. Because as far as I remember until now the insurgents avoided targeting Sunnis near their places of worship. This was a truly Al Kaida week in Baghdad. First, gas attacks using chlorine canisters and now an attack on a Sunni mosque.

Probably in the same way as the chlorine attacks were largely ignored, the attack on the mosque will be blamed in the Arab world on the Shia or the CIA & Mosad agents as the so called moderate Sunnis find it much easier to blame everything on the US/Israel or on the rising Shia crescent. The Sunni mainstream is in no mood to admit its share of responsibility for creating these monstrous insurgencies and terror groups (remember Qardawi ? NB). The moderate Sunnis clearly prefer to ignore the Sunni extremism in Iraq and elsewhere.

There is a small problem though. As this attack shows, the extremists are not going to ignore the moderate Sunnis.

:D

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Saturday, February 24, 2007




. . .

The Iranian military has killed 17 rebels in the north-west of the country, state media have reported.

A unit of Revolutionary Guards attacked the rebels in a remote area near the Turkish border, IRNA news agency said.

A military helicopter involved in the operation crashed in bad weather killing a Guards commander on board, Fars news agency reported.

. . .

The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Yayha Rahim, blamed foreign countries for trying to stir up unrest in Iran's border regions.

"Enemies headed by the United States, Britain and the Zionist regime [Israel] who have had their goals defeated in the region are seeking insecurity in some border areas," Mehr news agency quoted Mr Rahim as saying.

The past two years have seen a rise in violent incidents in a number of regions inhabited by Iran's minorities, amid complaints of government oppression, discrimination or political or economic neglect, says the BBC's regional analyst Pam O'Toole.

A bomb attack on 14 February in south-east Iran killed 13 Revolutionary Guards in the majority Sunni city of Zahedan.

Last year also saw angry demonstrations by ethnic Azeris in Azerbaijan province, while in 2005 there was a wave of protests in Kurdestan province.

Source

Just one helicopter? I would certainly expect more from our Mosad agents.

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Seeing Black

Amir Peretz is not the first politician to be seen in this silly situation yet the reporter said our defense minister looked through the capped binoculars three times nodding in agreement as the new chief of stuff was explaining to him what's in view ( :D :D NB). The picture was taken a few days ago when both men were expecting IDF troops training on the Golan heights. While silly things do happen and this episode says nothing in particular about Amir Peretz and his abilities one just cannot help thinking that this silly picture fits Amir Peretz so much.

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The Mandaeans

A short article published by the Associated Press on February 10 sheds light on the situation of a little known Middle Eastern faith. Followers of John the Baptist, more than 60,000 of the Mandaeans lived in Iraq a decade ago. Targeted by both Sunni insurgents and Shia militiamen their numbers in Iraq plunged to just a few thousands as the bulk of the community fled to the West to escape targeted killings, rapes, forced conversions and property confiscation.

According to the article the Mandaeans are highly successful in the US with many working as doctors and engineers. The Mandaeans are certainly not into getting themselves stuck and isolated in poor banlieues. Yet the economic success of the community has become the cause of its own undoing as the successful integration brought with it mixed marriages, The Mandaean religion is apparently very strict on mixed marriages and only children of Mandaean parents on both sides are considered Mandaeans. Under these conditions the inflexibility of the priests spells the end of the faith in the span of a few generations.

The Mandaeans in the US are lobbying hard for the rest of the Mandaeans to be allowed to immigrate. The situation is dire with the Mandaeans being targeted by extremists of every stripe and religion. The State Department appears to be investigating an option to allow in more refugees from Iraq, including the "special populations" of religious minorities. It is of course an indirect acknowledgment of a total fiasco of the American experiment of bringing democracy to the Middle East that such religious minorities have no place in the new 'liberated' Iraq. One can only hope that immigration to the US will at least allow these people to regain peace of mind.

God Bless America


Links:

Mandaean Associations Union

The Mandaeans History, Religion and Mythology (from the same site)

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Friday, February 23, 2007




The Alawis - I

In Syria, the 41-old Bashar Asad ... stumbles along, but
probably has no more than a couple of years left as leader.

from "Those dynastic Arabs"
published by "The Economist"
in "The World in 2007"

This post is more like a follow-up on Daniel Pipes' The Alawi Capture of Power in Syria. This post basically intends to highlight some additional aspects of the Alawis' control of Syria and to detail one of the possible scenarios of its coming to end.

In the conclusion to his article Pipes writes:

The manner of the 'Alawi ascent reveals much about Syria's political culture, pointing to complex connections between the army, the political parties, and the ethnic community. The Ba'th Party, the army, and the 'Alawis rose in tandem; but which of these three had the most importance? Were the new rulers Ba'thists who just happened to be 'Alawi soldiers , or were they soldiers who happened to be 'Alawi Ba'thists? Actually, a third formulation is most accurate: these were 'Alawis who happened to be Ba'thists and soldiers.

True, the party and the military were critical, but in the end it was the transfer of authority from Sunnis to 'Alawis that counted most. Without deprecating the critical roles of Party and army, the 'Alawi affiliation ultimately defined the rulers of Syria. Party and career mattered, but, as is so often the case in Syria, ethnic and religious affiliation ultimately define identity. To see the Asad regime primarily in terms of its Ba'thist or military nature is to ignore the key to Syrian politics. Confessional affiliation remains vitally important; as through the centuries, a person's sect matters more than any other attribute.

The Sunni response to the new rulers, which has taken a predominantly communal form, bears out this view. The widespread opposition of Sunnis - who make up about 69 percent of the Syrian population - to an 'Alawi ruler has inspired the Muslim Brethren organization to challenge the government in violent, even terroristic ways. Although unsuccessful until now, the Brethren have on several occasions come near to toppling the regime.

It appears inevitable that the 'Alawis - still a small and despised minority, for all their present power - will eventually lose their control over Syria. When this happens, it is likely that conflicts along communal lines will bring them down, with the critical battle taking place between the 'Alawi rulers and the Sunni majority. In this sense, the 'Alawis' fall - be it through assassinations of top figures, a palace coup, or a regional revolt - is likely to resemble their rise.

Source

i think it would be accurate to say that in many ways the Alawi rise to power in Syria was about climbing too high to the point of losing the ability to get down safely. The resulting tensions and successive attempts by the Sunni fundamentalists to overthrow the regime has produced a situation in which the Alawi ruling elite, hit by paranoia and existential fears, has created a near totalitarian political system that eventually suffocated the country and destroyed the last traces of a normal society within.

The socialist orientation of the Baath has paralyzed the economic development and not only the Syrian economic indicators are among the worst in the region, it is a safe bet that Syria is also hugely mis-developed and a big part of its state sector will go bust at the first attempt to liberalize the economy.

This combination of the stagnating economy and utterly oppressive regime has doomed the country for decades of pointless drifting with no real possibility for change. As several generations of Syrians grew up in the shadow of Mukhabarat, intense political brainwashing and other shit it's a small wonder that many people give little credit to the ability of Syria to keep itself intact after the Alawis go.

Keep Reading
I also think that Pipes is absolutely right when he stresses the overwhelming importance of sectarian affiliations for understanding the situation in Syria. They are indeed a key to understanding the future of not only Syria but of most of the Middle East. The future of Syria will be decided along the sectarian lines dividing the Alawis and the Sunni Arabs.

While there is no reliable information about the actual public mood in Syria there are recurring reports of Islamic renaissance. Eyewitness accounts based on using such a standard barometer of the level of society's Islamization as the presence of veiled women on the streets all point out to the growing influence of Islam in the Alawite Kingdom of Syria. Moreover, the ruling elite is actively playing with the idea of growing its own domesticated version of Islamic piety by grooming moderate Sunni clergy.

It is also reported that wifes of high ranking Alawite officials have got very enthusiastic recently about veiling themselves in public as the Alawites are known to invest a considerable amount of thought and energy into presenting themselves as a legitimate sect inside Islam. Yet the puristic orientation of the modern fundamentalists leave the Alawites little chance in this respect. Little is known about the Alawite religion as the only person who broke the secrecy in religious matters practiced by the sect was promptly assassinated. And that little information that is available reveals a bizarre syncretistic creed based on deification of Ali (not Chemical one but Muhammad's son-in-law NB) and which as some scholars claim is actually closer to the Gnostic Christians than to the Twelver Shia with whom the Alawis are trying to associate themselves (not that for many Sunnis it makes such a hell of a difference :) NB).

Anyway, until the Alawis show their books and dispel the mystery surrounding their religion (probably they should better never do it NB), no sane Muslim scholar will be ready to confirm that the Alawite religion is indeed a legitimate movement inside Islam. Sure the Muslim Brothers will be never satisfied with anything less than this. Neither the fact that the Alawis are also known to have occasionally practiced Taqiyya (concealing one's faith or disguising oneself as a practitioner of another religion) gives their claims to be legitimate Muslims additional credibility. Something more is clearly needed here than just claiming to be more Muslim than the rest of Muslims and more Arab than the Arabs themselves. In fact the regime's striving to position Syria at the spearhead of pan Arabism and resistance can be seen as an attempt to avoid tough identity questions which some people in Syria and elsewhere would sure love the Alawis to answer.


To be continued . . .

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Thursday, February 22, 2007




Chemical Alis*

* Chemical Ali, his real name is Ali Hassan'al-Majid, had become known under this nickname worldwide for his part in the Anfal operation when he ordered a chemical weapons attack on the Kurdish city of Halabja.

The Iraqi Sunni insurgents were dabbing their fingers in chemical warfare in and around Baghdad for the second day running using trucks loaded with chlorine gas canisters. The AP reports:

The gas cloud in Baghdad, meanwhile, suggests possible new and coordinated strategies by bombers trying to unleash toxic — and potentially deadly — materials. "Terrorists are using dirty means," said Brig. Gen. Qassim Moussawi, an Iraqi military spokesman.

. . .

In Baghdad, a pickup truck carrying chlorine gas cylinders was blown apart, killing at least five people and sending more than 55 to hospitals gasping for breath and rubbing stinging eyes, police said.


On Tuesday, a bomb planted on a chlorine tanker left more than 150 villagers stricken north of the capital. More than 60 were still under medical care on Wednesday. Chlorine causes respiratory trouble and skin irritation in low levels and possible death with heavy exposure.


In Washington, two Pentagon officials said the tactic has been used at least three times since Jan. 28, when a truck carrying explosives and a chlorine tank blew up in Anbar province. More than a dozen people were reported killed.

A third Pentagon official said the United States has been concerned about Iraqi militants' ability to get weapons like chlorine bombs and use them effectively. But the official cautioned that chlorine bombs are just one threat on a long list of possible attacks that Iraqi fighters may try to carry out.

. . .

W. Patrick Lang, a former official at the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the insurgents are always "seeking to achieve higher levels of effectiveness" and these new tactics are part of the normal "evolution of sophistication." (!!! Probably the next step of their normal "evolution of sophistication" will be a nuclear bomb. :) NB)

. . .

"It is an indication of maliciousness, a desire to injure and kill innocent people in the vicinity," said Garver, who also predicted militants may begin to launch similar attacks because of the widespread mayhem caused by this week's chlorine clouds.

"If there is a particular success, we'll see copycats. ... They certainly pay attention to what they think is successful," he said.

Source

While it's clearly just a matter of time before the Muslim radicals worldwide start using chemical weapons, the Iraqi Sunni insurgents can congratulate themselves with becoming leading pioneers in this field. Bin Laden was reported to had been pondering a dirty radioactive bomb but chemical weapons are by far easier to produce and assemble and so more suitable for the low-tech fundamentalism currently in fashion around the Arab/Muslim world. Now the Sunni insurgents in Iraq appear to be finally coming of age as their struggle goes up one level to the WMD based stage. There is little doubt that these extremists are smelling new and huge opportunities in this type of chemical insurgency. The Iraqi Shia should start praying for avoiding getting in Baghdad their own version of Halabja.

Related Posts:

The Fall of Baghdad

The Big Day

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007




Saada

According to an AP (Associated Press) reporter in Yemen about 200 soldiers and police officers died in clashes with Shia fundamentalist insurgents in recent weeks in Saada.

The rebels are part of a Shiite Muslim group known as "The Young Faithful Believers" that accuses the government of being corrupt and too close to the West.

. . .

The government had accused Abdel-Malek al-Hawthi (the rebel leader NB) of sedition, forming an illegal armed group and inciting anti-American sentiment.

Yemen has been a strong supporter of the US war on terror and for a good reason: the country has no time left for playing stupid games. Oil exports, which account for 70% of the state revenues, are expected to decline sharply as the country is depleting its reserves, with some experts predicting that they may completely run out right at the beginning of the next decade. The government has been recently trying in serious to push forward a package of free market reforms with a view to attract foreign investment. The recent instability may spell big troubles for this part of the economic reform.

Last week Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh issued an ultimatum for the rebels to disarm or face an all-out army assault. Since then there has been an obvious escalation with 100 soldiers who died only in the last five days. Now here come allegations of foreign involvement:

Last week, members of the Yemen Supreme Defense Council voiced concerns, saying the Shiite rebels were receiving funds and assistance from outside countries, according to one of the council's members.

The member, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, did not name the countries. But state-owned newspapers have reported that the government suspects Iran and Libya are backing the rebellion.

Source

PS

I find it hard to figure out what Libya can have to do with Shia fundamentalists fighting a US allied government in far away Yemen.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007




In the Footsteps of the Soviets

The militants struck twice at Iran in the troubled province of Baluchistan. Eleven Revolutionary Guards are dead. The land of Baluchis is never quiet though until now Iran had been largely spared its share of wrath of the famous warrior tribes. Pakistan was much less lucky. A full scale uprising is raging across the border in the Pakistani part of Baluchistan.

Eleven elite Revolutionary Guards died when their bus was attacked in Baluchistan. Here the Persians are removing the wreckage of the bus.


The British were once so impressed by the Baluchis' militancy that they designated them as a warrior race and were actively seeking them out to serve in the colonial army on a par with the Nepali Gurkhas.

Iran executes a Baluchi insurgent accused of involvement in the attack on the Revolutionary Guards.




Even without the Baluchis the president of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf has its hands full with separatism as he is also fighting another war in Waziristan where hundreds of Pakistani soldiers died only last year. There is much talk recently about Talibanization of Pakistan. Probably Musharraf casts here and there envious looks across the border. If he does he is wrong.

This is because neither Ahmadinejad has any rest from his own separatists. While Baluchistan is going slowly through its own low scale insurgency, on the other side of Iran dozens of police and soldiers died lately in ambushes set up by Kurdish guerrillas. As the referendum on the future of Kirkuk is approaching both Turkey and Iran are growing tense. Turkey is reported to be considering a limited invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan. But the Turks are plainly deluding themselves if they think that the Kurds have been wasting all these years for nothing. And the Persians would do wisely to avoid having illusions too.

Iran has even more ethnic problems. Its biggest minority, the Azeris, who constitute close to 1/4 of the population, have been caught lately massively gazing to the North where the recently independent Azerbaijan is enjoying its own oil boom. There are reports that the mutual interest between the two communities separated by the Iran Azerbaijan border keeps growing. While Iran is trying to export its version of Shia fundamentalism into Azerbaijan, the Azeri nationalism is slowly but steadily trickling over into Iran from Azerbaijan. The Azeris of Azerbaijan are predominantly secular after decades spent under the Soviets. The Azeris in Iran are extremely well integrated and quite religious with Ali Khamenei being an ethnic Azeri himself. Technically speaking the Iranian Azeris are a bit out of step with their homeland and in some ways have more in common with the Persians than with their brethren in Azerbaijan. Yet, as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia taught us, when it comes to the ethnic shit you'd better proceed on the assumption that you never know.

Ahmalalah lately took to comparing Israel to the former Soviet Union predicting our similarly speedy demise. The Israelis should not feel offended. It's a compliment. It's really nice that to some people this tiny country of six millions reminds of the empire that was once the biggest country on Earth. Another nice thing to think about is that this region has other and far more likely candidates to follow the former Soviet Union into the abyss of multiple ethnic conflicts and eventual break-up.

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Monday, February 19, 2007




Strength or Potential ?

The head of military intelligence, Yossi Baidatz, informed the Defense Committee today that not only Hezbollah has restored its prewar capabilities, it actually got more firepower than it had at its disposal before the war and more is on the way from Syria. To the question if Hezbollah actually became stronger than it was before the war, the intelligence chief responded in the sense that, indeed, this is the case.

The defense minister, the infamous Amir Peretz, deemed it necessary to intervene and to correct the intelligence chief on the grounds that it's wrong to say that Hezbollah increased its strength, but only its potential !!! Baidatz immediately agreed that indeed the potential has increased, not the strength !!! This left some people, including MK's who were present at the meeting, wondering what's wrong with these people.

The improved ballistic capabilities of both Hamas and Hezbollah are a clear threat and require an urgent response. Yet the government repeatedly blocked the army from reinvading Gaza and completely mismanaged the issue of developing an anti missile system. Peretz blamed the previous defense ministers in neglecting the issue yet when it came to take a decision the choice fell on Rafael's kinetic warhead which is not expected to be ready until the next decade !!!

The decision amazed everybody and probably enraged people in Sderot and elsewhere living under daily Kassams attacks. The decision was in particular strange given that Northrop Grumman claimed that its laser can be supplied within six months and one such a system can theoretically protect whole of Sderot. Actually it's not clear why the government thinks it should choose something. The short range ballistic threats are notoriously difficult to address and the government would do wisely by selecting at least two out of the proposed four systems. Northrop Grumman can provide a short term solution until Rafael finishes developing its own system. Yet this way of thinking is clearly beyond the reach of Amir Peretz.

To be fair I should admit that Amir Peretz is not that smart to be held fully responsible for his actions or better mis-actions. Actually it's not that he is not smart. He is a total idiot afflicted by the worst form of megalomania possible. In one of his interviews I had a pleasure to see the man claimed for himself all credit for anything that was achieved during the last war. And he obviously believes it. Our gran generalissimo hardly comprehends what a shit his situation is.

To the contrary Olmert is waaay more intelligent. Facing repeated failures, mounting criticism and a criminal investigation he clearly feels how the noose is tightening around his neck.

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The Hazaras

The Economist published a short article about the Afghan Hazaras. Members of the Afghan Shia minority and one of the most downtrodden communities, the Hazaras are living through a social and political revival. In Afghanistan, as in Iraq, the US interventionism has produced an impressive Shia renaissance. The new Afghan constitution accepts Shia Islam as a state religion. The Shia now run 4 out of 34 Afghan provinces and for the first time have (at least on paper) equal rights with members of other tribes and communities.

After having been confined for centuries to the backward and poor province of Bamiyan, there is a massive migration of the Hazaras to the cities such as Kabul and Herat. Probably the two most interesting pieces of information provided by this article is the Hazaras' single minded commitment to education and the level of their political skills and mobilization:

The Hazara district of Jaghori, in the southern province of Ghazni, borders Taliban-dominated territory where hundreds of schools have been burnt in the past two years. Yet 65 schools are open and literacy rates far outstrip the national average.

This is in particular impressive given the Hazaras' history as one of the most backward and illiterate Afghan minorities.

During the last elections the Hazaras demonstrated a level of political organization, discipline and mobilization resembling the Iraqi Shia and the Shia of Lebanon. The Hazaras took 43 seats out of 249, means 18%, while their share in population is estimated at just between 9 to 13%. And as transpires from the Economist article the Hazara politicians skillfully follow a pragmatic and conciliatory approach avoiding major confrontations with other communities:

Mr Mohaqeq (the Hazaras' political leader NB) backed Mr Karzai's candidate for parliamentary speaker, despite his record as an ethnic-Pushtun militia commander accused of involvement in the massacre of 800 Hazara civilians in 1993. This outraged many Hazaras, but Western analysts say such realpolitik accounts for the Hazaras' strength (four seats) in the cabinet.

The Sunni Shia relationships in Afghanistan are deteriorating. Iran's regional ambitions clearly poison the relationships between the two communities with armed clashes reported last year from Herat. The anti Shia syndrome has apparently reached Afghanistan too. Yet this is not say that the Hazaras has succumbed themselves to the usual anti US anti Western paranoia gripping the Muslim world.

The community's migration to the cities over the past five years has caused local resentment, particularly in Herat. They are accused of acting as agents for their co-religionists in Iran, receiving money and business support in return. . . But there is no reason to believe that the Hazaras would be Iran's natural ally. . . For the time being, they clearly equate the removal of NATO troops with an end to their own renaissance—and a return to the divisions that brought their past suffering.

. . . In Khair Khana, a bomb-scarred suburb of western Kabul that is a Hazara enclave, the enthusiasm for his (Karzai NB) administration and its Western allies is far from the jaded cynicism displayed by most Afghans.

Source

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Wild Grass Unleashed

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - A wild grass found in Asia and Africa could hold the key to dreams of providing an alternative to fossil fuels blamed for global warming, experts said.

The grass, which is used as an ornamental plant in the United States, had produced yields between five and 10 times greater than corn...

"To make a pound of alfalfa or spinach requires about 600 pounds of water, while to grow a pound of Miscanthus requires only about 200 pounds of water," said Chris Somerville, professor of biological sciences at Stanford University.

Somerville was speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science's annual meeting, where climate change and sustainable development are two of the key themes.

. . .

Bush wants the United States to increase production of biofuels to 35 billion gallons (133 billion liters) a year by 2017, roughly seven times the present levels of five billion gallons a year, produced by corn-ethanol refineries.

Critics say Bush's goals are unrealistic because it would mean finding an additional 129,000 square miles of farmland -- about the size of Kansas and Iowa combined -- to plant enough corn to meet the demand.

However, Somerville said Miscanthus-derived ethanol, which is distilled from the fermentation of sugars from the entire plant rather than just the grains, results in a higher yield per unit of land.

Miscanthus produces about twice as much biomass per acre without irrigation as other grasses, and reaching Bush's target of 35 billion gallons of biofuels annually would require far fewer acres of land.

Source

Go, Yankees !!! Gooooooooooo !!!!

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Sunday, February 18, 2007




The Year of the Pigs and Apes

Last updated: July 30, 2009

February 18, 2007


BEIJING - Asians flocked to temples, parks and Disneyland on Sunday to pray, play, eat, and celebrate the first day of the Lunar New Year, ushering in the Year of the Pig.

. . .

. . .

Source: Associated Press

Or, as our Muslim friends would say, the Year of the Pigs and Apes and their Sons.

Come on, Jews. Our year is coming.


PS

I should probably be fair to the Sudanese Thinker and provide a link to one of his posts where he is trying to find his way out of the mess created by the famous Koranic verses: The Mystery of Jews as Apes & Pigs





July 30, 2009

The Blog Quote of the Year

There are many other instances where Prophet said something and in today's world it turns out to be scientifically correct. For example Quran says that Allah (swt) turned some Jews into monkeys and pigs. Some companion asked the Prophet that the monkeys and pigs that we see today, are they the descendants of those Jews-turned-pigs-and-monkeys? The Prophet pbuh said no and also explained that monkeys and pigs were present way before those Jews were turned into pigs and monkeys as a punishment. This turns out to be scientifically and historically correct.

Source: Prophet of Islam: A Camel Urine Drinker?

:D :D

ROFLMAO

:D :D

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We got a new TurkmenBashi

If I were a Turkmen I would go straight for the man in the middle as a president.

;)

Update:

The jokes around this silly photo eventually developed into a discussion of the region's future. I can say that what followed is more or less how I see the future of the region.

Update 2:

... and our future and the future of the demographic race too ...

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Saturday, February 17, 2007




Just an Ordinary Human Being

In Enough IS Enough I was writing a few days ago:

Actually what I want to say... mmmm .... I mean ... mmmm .... Anyway what I want to say is this. You forgive me, my dear readers, but I have no more patience left for posting about the Arabs/Muslims and their terrorism. This is because I am a normal person and my nervous system is functioning pretty much in line with the rules of human behavior as outlined in any standard textbook of human psychology. And unlike people from our peace camp (whom I don't consider normal persons) I just cannot hurt the pain of another 100 hundred Iraqis perished in suicide and car bomb attacks every single day as if it happens for the first time.

Source

The very next day I stumbled on Yahoo on a scientific confirmation of the fact that I am a normal person... or borrowing from the bizarre slang used by our peace loonies I am just an ordinary human being.

The Internet and other modern communications bring atrocities such as killings in Darfur, Sudan into homes and office cubicles. But knowledge of these events fails to motivate most to take action, said Paul Slovic, a University of Oregon researcher.

People typically react very strongly to one death but their emotions fade as the number of victims increase, Slovic reported here yesterday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"We go all out to save a single identified victim, be it a person or an animal, but as the numbers increase, we level off," Slovic said.

Source

I was tagged by The Raccoon, means I need to write about 10 things nobody knows about me. Yet in my view the fact of me being just an ordinary human being squarely beats any piece of other personal information I can provide about myself (many people will probably be very skeptical even about this bit). I think I will leave everybody to satisfy themselves with this as I am feeling that I have already disclosed too much about myself in this post.

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new blog in the links. . .

Nizo (Palestine/Canada)

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Friday, February 16, 2007




Optical Illusions

Two Links.

The first one to the excellent post by Nizo which basically is his vision of the future of the region --> Saw of Islam

Of course It deals exclusively with the Sunni Arab world. It misses out on what I described in my 'arc theory' in the comments section of the previous post. Nizo basically thinks that it's only a matter of time before Islamist movements sweep the region as they seem to be the only ones who are capable of achieving something.

Nizo concludes his post with this:

The question is, which of the many, many versions of Islam will prevail. Will there be a regressive Caliphate or a new brew of Islamic democracies that draw from the positive and inclusive elements of the the Quran and the Hadeeth?

In a debate that follows the comments by a deranged Hezbollah member Al Ghaliboon pretty much answer this question.

I have a few posts that basically reach a similar conclusion. Once again it's the Arabs. And even more the Sunni Arabs. The Middle East has other people too. And the Shia world may fail to follow this prediction. I will post about the Shia at some point later.

The Arab Reform

The Darwinian Evolution in the Middle East

Sheep in Wolf's Clothing

The second link is a debate I had on one Sudanese blog. On reading the thread for the second time I was amazed by what aggressive and abusive a poster I am. I can only comfort me with thinking that it was much worse a few years ago when I had my account repeatedly blocked on many forums.

Nevertheless my comments on this thread dispel a very common illusion that the Muslim world went backwards from being a beacon of tolerance. My point is that the Muslim world is actually way more tolerant and open minded today than it has ever been before. The perception that the Muslims lost the original tolerance of their faith is an optical illusion created in some people because of reading too many books. --> To My Beloved Son of Warfare in Darfur By Huwaida Medani

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Thursday, February 15, 2007




Excellent

A Saudi Arabian terrorist faction affiliated with al-Qaida has urged Muslim militants to attack oil facilities all over the world, including Canada, Mexico and Venezuela, to stop the flow of oil to the United States, according to an article by the group posted on the Internet.

. . .

The article in the online magazine Sawt al-Jihad, or Voice of the Holy War, said the United States would always need more oil.

"In the long run, America might be able to lessen its dependence on Middle East oil and would be satisfied with oil from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela and other new customers or double its dependence on alternative energy resources; therefore, oil interests in all regions that serve the US and not only in the Middle East, should be attacked," said the article.

Source

Excellent.

Yankees, read the writing on the wall. Ethanol. . . Solar energy . . . but oil is no way.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007




No Comment Lost

this was supposed to be the last comment on the thread - muslims and terrorists are two very different things ..... lirun removed it because he feels it's too overboard and insulting... of course we should fight censorship and oppression .. no way i will let this comment to be lost for the posterity .. one should probably read the thread first to fully understand this comment ...

---------------------------------------

Anonymous said...

yes muslims, arab leaders, all sorts, condemn terror, usually with some words which don't say much.


you actually missed the point as lirun found nothing smarter to do than to link to some Islaimist site where the muslims are trying to fool themselves and others into believing that Islam has nothing to do with terror ... among other muslim clerics cited there i noticed qardawi's denunciation of the bombing of a jewish sinagogue in Tunisia with an argument that it's not ok to do it in Tunisia since the jews there are not fighting Muslims...

given that nobody has anything to add here i will provide a closing comment for this discussion

I have no idea who are other clerics cited on this site but i suppose that one can google out in two minutes loads of bullshit they are preaching ... who is qardawi most Israelis know very well since he is a kind of spiritual leader of Hamas ... i dont know exactly what they call it but practically i understand very well what's going on ... if hamas clerics cannot reach a religious verdict on something locally they go straight to this guy .. he is the man .. he is like their spiritual coach ...

and he provides them with fatwas and other stuff ... basically this is how the whole thing functions ...mashal from damascus provides hamas with a political guidance and qardawi with a spiritual one ... qardawi is considered to be moderate since he opposes attacks on jews outside israel .. as to attacks on civilan targets inside israel the man said more than enough and was so frequently shown on the israeli tv that i dont think i need to elaborate on this for israelis... of course that he is considered moderate makes some people start wondering what is exteremist for these people ..probably for lirun it's about splitting hairs but this is clearly not for any israeli who has ever witnessed a bus or a cafe bombed by a kamikadze ...

and of course contrary to what lirun wants us to believe qardawi is one of the more popular preachers of the sunni world ... and he is in no hiding, comfortably living in UAE or Dubai (i dont remember) where thousands flock to attend his preaching sermons ...

and of course the very fact that no muslim volunteered to contribute to this thread says a lot .. and as brendan noticed empty declarations can satisfy no sane person any longer ... we want specific explanations ... we want to know what place the hadit of the garkhad tree has in muslim tradition ... right now what we see is that this hadit defines the final vision of the Israeli palestinian conflict for hamas and thousands of palestinians who voted it into power ... if the muslims admit that salalahu walayhe wasalam occasionally went nuts and was talking bullshit, this will satisfy us .. or that al-bukhari and moslem were occasionally taking mushrooms and recording something that was never said by the prophet... but we want them to specifically refer to this hadit and to explain its meaning ...

i remember occasionally meeting a mr. your nice muslim guy on some forum and asking him to explain to me the status of spain and other muslim lands captured under khalifs in light of what the hamas charter says .. and it was like "oh no. nobody is thinking about invading spain" .. and i was like -"ok. but theoretically what the sharia says about it? if this is considered wakf ?". "oh i should consult a scholar. I will come back to you with an answer." ....

and of course they never came back

my personal question to lirun would be like this ... it took you two peace roundtables to notice that people you are talking to are hardcore anti semites (LOL) ... now in an attempt to make your point about the oceanic distance between islam and terrorism you linked to a site citing the very clerics who elaborated the doctrine of suicide attacks.. i noticed that you are now also trying to deal with trade and politics ... don't you think that in light of your misjudgements until now, trade and politics should be just too complicated for you ?

-------------------------

here is a link to lirun's peace roundtable - peace talks

hamas charter - Hamas Covenant 1988

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007




Enough IS Enough !!!

The Sunni insurgents have been celebrating in Iraq the new Baghdad security plan. Yesterday Al-Maliki barely finished addressing the nation on the anniversary of the attack on Al-Askari Mosque as car bombs teared to peaces Shorja market in Baghdad.

Today about 40 people were killed and wounded by a Kamikadze who drove his truck to a college in a Shia neighborhood. This actually reminds me of another car bomb attack in January on Mustansiriyah University, in which about 70 students and staff members died and another 140 were wounded. The Sunni insurgents recently perfected their tactics and switched to using trucks which explains the high number of casualties reported daily from Iraq.

Also today a couple of buses was bombed in a Christian area in Lebanon. There was also a string of car bomb attacks in Algeria by the local Salafists who lately started calling themselves 'The Al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb' (I certainly liked more their previous name which was 'The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat' !! NB) . The Economist was writing last week:

. . .

. . .

Actually what I want to say... mmmm .... I mean ... mmmm .... Anyway what I want to say is this. You forgive me, my dear readers, but I have no more patience left for posting about the Arabs/Muslims and their terrorism. This is because I am a normal person and my nervous system is functioning pretty much in line with the rules of human behavior as outlined in any standard textbook of human psychology. And unlike people from our peace camp (whom I don't consider normal persons) I just cannot hurt the pain of another 100 hundred Iraqis perished in suicide and car bomb attacks every single day as if it happens for the first time.

Why should I bore you and myself to death with this shit? I got nothing more interesting to think about in my life? In the last debate about Islam and terrorism held on Lirun's blog (Lirun's point: the two have nothing to do with each other) the only two Muslims who answered Lirun's call to participate were:
1) a deranged Hezbollah supporter known under the name of Al-Ghaleboon, a kind of a Hassan Nasrallah's talking head, who promptly offered to switch discussion to Jews and their terrorism
2) a very tired Palestinian girl who could not muster enough energy to read through the comments

The Muslims themselves are clearly in a state of deep denial about terrorism and other shit they are doing. Probably I am not in a state of denial myself and some of these terror campaigns are sure of serious consequences for the future of our region but, as they say, enough is enough. If you want, go read yourselves. Here is a link to Lirun's discussion...

and here is a link to the Economist's article - .... mmmm .... Actually I cannot find this article. Anyway I am going to have a drink which, I think, is way more important than trying to save another one hundred Shia who will die tomorrow in Iraq. Have a nice day.

I will try to post something later.

Update:

Jean, no need tell me that with this post I lost my last chance to win my Nobel as I decided to give up on this idea. Just, please, take away these Arabs/Muslims from here. It will be good enough for me.

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Thursday, February 8, 2007




Blood Libel

Ariel Toaff is plainly looking for troubles with his new book. The Jerusalem Post reports:

An Israeli historian of Italian origin has revived "blood libel" in an historical study set to hit Italian bookstores on Thursday. Ariel Toaff, son of Rabbi Elio Toaff, claims that there is some historic truth in the accusation that for centuries provided incentives for pogroms against Jews throughout Europe.

Toaff's tome, Bloody Passovers: The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murders, received high praise from another Italian Jewish historian, Sergio Luzzatto, in an article in the Corriere della Serra daily entitled "Those Bloody Passovers."

Luzzatto describes Toaff's work as a "magnificent book of history...Toaff holds that from 1100 to about 1500...several crucifixions of Christian children really happened, bringing about retaliations against entire Jewish communities - punitive massacres of men, women, children. Neither in Trent in 1475 nor in other areas of Europe in the late Middle Ages were Jews always innocent victims."

"A minority of fundamentalist Ashkenazis...carried out human sacrifices," Luzzatto continued.

Toaff offers as an example the case of Saint Simonino of Trent. In March 1475, shortly after a child's body was found in a canal near the Jewish area of Trent, the city's Jews were accused of murdering Simonino and using his blood to make matzot.

After a medieval trial in which confessions were extracted by torture, 16 members of Trent's Jewish community were hanged.

Toaff reveals that the accusations against the Jews of Trent "might have been true."

Toaff refers to kabbalistic descriptions of the therapeutic uses of blood and asserts that "a black market flourished on both sides of the Alps, with Jewish merchants selling human blood, complete with rabbinic certification of the product - kosher blood."

Source

It's enough to read the first dozen of comments to realize that Toaff should now better ensure that he has a good lawyer by his side. A couple of bodyguards may come in very handy too.

Of course the theory is extremely controversial to say the least and confessions extracted under torture by a medieval court can hardly count as a reliable evidence. A medieval black market selling kosher human blood looks quite a stretch of imagination. Yet one (at least me) just does not want to throw away Toaff's theory outright because suddenly there seems to appear a chance to finally make sense of the absolutely abnormal and bizarre history of the Jews in Europe.

It goes without saying that if anything like this ever existed it should have been an extremely fringe sect and clearly it runs absolutely contrary to the mainstream Judaism's practices and any sane rabbi will consider the very idea of human sacrifices absolutely satanic. And even if there is a basis to some blood libel claims, most, probably 99%, of all Pogroms were provoked by allegations that had no basis in the reality. There should be little doubt that even if such a sect existed it should have kept itself in secret from the majority of the Jews too. And while there might have happened probably just a few cases of real human sacrifices they eventually lead to hundreds and thousands of Pogroms that targeted Jews as a whole and in which hundreds of thousands and millions of them found their death. Toaff himself does not appear to claim more than this:

Toaff holds that from 1100 to about 1500...several crucifixions of Christian children really happened.

The existence of such a fringe, and by all Jewish standards absolutely deranged, sect among the minority of the Askenazi fundamentalists could have explained the puzzling persistence of the blood libel's allegations, its primarily European origin (it's a safe bet that outside Europe it was plagiarized by local opponents of the Jews) and the wretched relationships between the Jews and Christians in Europe.

In the end Toaff's theory is just what it is, a theory. Whether it's of a dubious value or well argued it does not change the basic fact that it's just a theory that can potentially provide an explanation for the more weird aspects of the history of the Jews in the Medieval Europe. And as in case of any historical theory it should be left to the historians to figure out the plausibility of Toaff's claims.

Yet, and it's another safe bet, there are more than enough Jews who will now be waiting for the book's arrival in the state of total horror. And even more people who are now waiting for it salivating in anticipation. It is a testimony to the sad state of affairs in our world that such a book, which under normal conditions should be of interest only to the afficionados of the history of the Medieval Europe, will provoke a storm and will put on the defensive millions of Jews worldwide. This is because even if Toaff may be wrong there appears to be more than enough people who for all kinds of reasons are just dying to see him proved right and more.

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The Big Day

Suicide attacks produce extremely graphic scenes of destruction and carnage. This became especially true since a few years ago when the Palestinians found a way to produce domestically very powerful explosives. The author of this blog witnessed one such an attack in downtown Jerusalem when the ground was literally littered with bodies of dead and wounded.

When a suicide belt is detonated inside a bus or some other type of a closed space like a cafe or a bar the power of explosion usually totally destroys the bodies. Contrary to what many people expect there are no bodies inside but mostly body parts, many of which are impossible to identify. In many cases this shit is blown out and dispersed all around the place. One of Nobody's friends (an Israeli Arab by the way) was at Merkaz Klal in Jerusalem when a suicide bomber detonated his belt inside a bus in front of the building. The bloody mess of body parts and peaces of meat scattered all around had such a powerful impression on this person that he passed out and collapsed on the ground breaking his leg.

Yet even many of the seasoned, in terms of suicide attacks, Israelis were amazed by the scale of an attack mounted by the Sunni insurgents in Iraq a few days ago. The Sunni insurgents clearly had their day when a Kamikadze drove a truck loaded with explosives to a Shia market in Baghdad. It is a testimony to the sharpness of the skills of these people, polished over years in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq, that one single suicide bomber has killed and wounded almost 500 people.

While the air is full with all sorts of rumours and half informations about a possibility of some kind of a secret Sunni Israeli alliance in the face of the growing Iranian influence in the region, probably many people in this country are reaching just the opposite conclusion. That in these troubled days the Israeli politicians should better stop dreaming and start massively investing in the IDF, anti missile systems and similar stuff. And far from being a great opportunity for forming new alliances the Sunni Shia mess is a strong enough reason to keep a good distance from the Arabs now. This is because the Sunni Shia thing is plainly driving these people mad.

The Economist was writing recently:

This was the week of Ashura, a Shia festival that commemorates martyrdom and has often proved a tense period in places where Islam's two main sects both reside. Yet communal feelings are rising even where Shias, around 15% of the world's Muslims, have little or no (!!! NB) presence . In December, Sudan's authorities closed Iran's stall at a Khartoum book fair after Sunni activists accused it of spreading Shia propaganda. Algerian newspapers say Shia missionaries are inveigling Sunni children to convert. Supporters of Fatah, a secular Palestinian party, have taken to chanting “Shia! Shia!” at backers of the Islamist (and Sunni) Hamas party, in a dig against its strong ties to Iran. In Jordan, villagers turned back pilgrims going to a local Shia shrine. Shias say that last month's attacks by vandals in the American city of Detroit on two Shia community centres and some Shia-owned businesses were sectarian.

Source

That the Sunni elites were stupid enough to succumb to this anti Persian anti Shia histeria should be no invitation for the idiots that rule this country to get opportunistic and start with their approaches towards the Sunni world. By actively participating in this sectarian carnival the Sunni leaders are digging their own grave. This is because this conflict seems to be getting the worst out of the Arabs. And far from helping the Sunni elites to consolidate their control over their people it will probably become the beginning of their end as the Arabs clearly grow more insane and paranoic as this Sunni Shia conflict keeps escalating.

What the Sunni elites are doing is no less stupid than the miserable attempts by other parts of the Arab world to recover some unity by replaying the old anti imperialist anti Zionist card. This is because the usual anti imperialist resistance rhetoric awakens not only the 'noble' HA-style of resistance. It awakens the very forces that fuel the rage of the sectarian killings in Iraq and elsewhere since, and it's easy to see, it is the most anti American, resistance oriented elements of the Iraqi society that are those most deeply involved in the inter sectarian wars, namely the Mahdi Army and the Sunni insurgents of the Al Kaida in Iraq.

That this region is one big minefield or unresolved ethnic conflicts, inter clan feuds and historic injustices the US has quickly learned on its own skin after it ventured here with its democratic experiments. By removing this barrier between the Persians and the Arabs that was Iraq the US has inadvertently awoken a host of demons that were sleeping until now. In the end the Arab/Muslim world possesses no real unity and the only unity it knows is through fighting a common enemy. Yet as Iraq shows this old tactic backfires and fails the Arabs now just when they most urgently need something to stabilize themselves. As the Arabs are sinking deeper and deeper in this sectarian mess their very efforts to get themselves out of it make the matters worse.

Meanwhile a multiple car bombs attack directed primarily against the Kurdish targets was mounted in Kirkuk. Kirkuk was ethnic cleansed from Kurds under Saddam and resettled with Arabs. Now the Kurds and their Peshmerga militia are back in town reclaiming their homes and property and producing thousands of more displaced refugees. The Sunni insurgents repeatedly targeted the Kurds in Kirkuk before and one can only marvel at the passion with which these people are creating themselves new enemies. Alongside Baghdad, Kirkuk has become another battle fought by the Sunni Arabs in Iraq. Another battle that they will lose.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2007

new blog in the links ... a good blog with an analytical bent...

kishkushim

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Tuesday, February 6, 2007




We are all Brothers. . .

for reasons not clear to me I found the Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood site referencing one of my posts about Egypt with some pretty uncomplimentary stuff about Arabs - link (see the bottom of the page)

The post in question is Lame Tigers and Broken-Leg Gazelles

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PEJAK

An AP correspondent reports from one of the camps set by the Kurdish insurgents operating against Iran. What follows is that PKK, considered a terrorist organization by the US and EU, has created an Iranian division using camps on the territory of the now de-facto independent Iraqi Kurdistan. The AP's report basically confirms one of the articles published by The Economist that I covered in one of my earlier posts (Neocons vs Realists).

In the camp, lugging heavy machine guns and AK-47 assault rifles, are men and women of the Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan, or PEJAK, an offshoot set up by the PKK in 2004 to fight for Kurdish autonomy in Iran.

The PKK and its affiliates are spread through a region of some 35 million Kurds that straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. PEJAK, the newest group, claims to number thousands of recruits, and targets only Iran — a mission which has made PEJAK the subject of intense speculation that it is being used to undermine the radical Islamic regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In the Nov. 27 issue of The New Yorker, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh wrote* that PEJAK was receiving support from the U.S. as well as from Israel, which fears Iran's nuclear ambitions and Ahmadinejad's call to wipe the Jewish state off the map.

PEJAK says it regularly launches raids into Iran, and Iran has fired back with artillery. In October the English-language Iran Daily, published by Iran's official news agency, said Iran accused PEJAK of killing dozens of its armed forces in insurgent attacks.

Rep.Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), a presidential candidate who claims the White House is overplaying the Iranian threat, last year wrote to President Bush expressing concern that the U.S. was using PEJAK to weaken Ahmadinejad.

James Brandon, an analyst for the U.S.-based Jamestown Foundation, told The Associated Press that PEJAK has refused to discuss its funding sources. But he said its greatest threat to Iran is not military. It has veins running deep into the Iranian Kurdish population and is offering to join forces with other restless minorities in Iran, he said.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said "Israel is not involved in any way in what's going on there."

Meir Javedanfar, an Israel-based Iran expert, noted however that Israel has a long-standing relationship with Iraqi Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani and "It would not surprise me to discover that Israel is using the Kurdish areas of Iraq to undermine Iran's influence in Iraq and monitor what's going on along the Iranian border, as well as to undermine the Iranian government itself."

* (The New Yorker is a well known leftist conspiracy theories mouthpiece. It is famous for publishing an investigation that claimed that the US and Israel staged in advance the July war. NB)

The AP reporter provides some interesting personal and general observations from the PEJAK camp he visited:

PEJAK ideology is rigorously leftist and includes equality of the sexes — unusual in this region. The camp has two leaders, a man and a woman.

The male one, Afsheen, is a Turkish Kurd who joined the PKK in 1990, at age 19. He said he enlisted after Turkish soldiers herded him, his family and his neighbors into the town square and burned down their homes.

Four shepherds were coming home and "The soldiers just opened fire on them. I had inside of me a lot of anger. I promised I would get my revenge," said Afsheen.

In training, "Recruits were put in a cave and left there for a month, allowed out only for half an hour each day. We walked for hours in frigid water," he said.

Afsheen said he has made several forays into Iran, including one monthlong trek to the Iranian town of Shahha three months ago, not to attack Iranians but to organize Kurds. "We were discovered. There was a firefight and it went on until dark. We were pinned down, trapped," he said.

"At nightfall we found an opening and we tried to slip out but we were discovered. The firing went on again and they called in their helicopters. One of our friends was wounded and three Iranian security men were killed."

Afsheen's co-leader is Beridon Dersim, who grew up in Austria and found her identity with the PKK.

"What I wanted I couldn't find from Turkey. I couldn't find from Europe. The PKK offered me answers about myself, about my ethnicity."

Dersim, 32, said she wanted to pick up a gun the day she joined the PKK at 17 but it was just before her 20th birthday that she was allowed into the guerrilla ranks.

Unlike Afreen of Syria, she did not have her family's blessing, she says, and her father, a Turkish civil servant, was tortured and left in a wheelchair. She said she has since fought in gunbattles.

The guerrillas vow not to marry or visit their families lest they put them in danger or be distracted from their struggle. Afsheen said he hasn't seen his parents since their village was destroyed 16 years ago. "I was the youngest of nine children, but maybe there are more now. I don't know."

Source

The 35 million strong Kurdish nation was and remains one of the most potent forces in the region striving to redraw the boders and to remake the ethnic composition of many areas stretching from Syria through Iraq and Turkey into Iran. The regional geopolitical reality in its present form remains hostile to the national aspirations of the Kurds with Turkey holding the key. Yet with the Iraqi Kurdistan now virtually independent, the great regional makeover, poised to sweep the vast space from the Gulf area to the Black Sea, seems to be now one step closer to finally take off. As our friends say - Inshalla !!

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Monday, February 5, 2007




Bandora

It was rightly said that the Palestinians never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. I should add that they also never failed to pay for these missed opportunities. Back in 1991 the PLO made a strategic mistake of siding with Saddam Hussein against the Gulf Arabs. The Palestinians and their leadership have never suffered from being too smart (Though I admit Palis can make a reasonably good humus from time to time). During the failed anti Gorbachiov coup in Moscow that barely lasted two or three days the PLO was the only state or semi state in the world that managed to send a congratulation telegram to the leaders of the coup before they were arrested.

Yet the Gulf War's blunder was huge even by the floor-level standards of the Palestinian statesmanship. By the end of the war Arafat found himself in Baghdad where he and his friend Saddam Hussein were doomed to spend their lives as pariahs shunned even by the Arabs themselves. The Saudis were rumored to be planning assassinating Arafat and other PLO leaders.

With the Gulf states cutting their economic support for the PLO and the Palestinians the Palestinian economic and political infrastructure was collapsing both on the territories and abroad. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were expelled from the Gulf, a small scale ethnic cleansing ignored by the world. I was at the Allenby bridge at that time. It was a flood of confused and bewildered people descending on the territories by thousands every day. Some of them spent decades living in the Gulf before they lost it all in one day.

Were it not for Shimon Peres and his Olso initiative the PLO may have not survived to this day. Oslo left some people wondering howcome this time the Palestinians got away with their idiotism so cheaply. Well. It's because the story was not over yet.

The Jerusalem Post

After 18 members of her family were brutally murdered by Shi'ite militiamen in Baghdad, Nadia Othman, a 36-year-old Palestinian mother of three, finally managed to escape to Jordan together with hundreds of Palestinian families that had been living in Iraq for decades.

In 2006, more than 600 Palestinians were killed in the Iraqi capital in what Palestinian leaders and political activists are describing as a "systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing." Thousands of Palestinian families have been forced to flee Iraq since the downfall of Saddam Hussein, but many still have no place to go to.

Iraq's Arab neighbors, Syria and Jordan, have imposed stringent restrictions on the entry of the refugees, leaving many of them stranded along the border in harsh and inhuman conditions.

Until three years ago, the number of Palestinians living in Iraq was estimated at 30,000. Under Saddam, Palestinians enjoyed many privileges that only a few Iraqis were entitled to: free accommodation, free health services and free education.

Nadia's decision to leave her home came shortly after one of her brothers, Muhammad Rashid, was killed by Shi'ite gunmen as he was on his way to the school where he worked as an Arabic language teacher.

"The murderers stopped him in the street, asked for his ID documents, and when they saw that he was a Palestinian refugee, they immediately fired three bullets at his head," she said. "On the same day, they kidnapped and murdered Farid Al-Sayed, chairman of the Palestinian-controlled Haifa Sports Club in Iraq."

Another Palestinian who fled Iraq and was recently reunited with his family in the northern West Bank described the campaign against the Palestinians in Iraq as "genocide." The Shi'ites, particularly the pro-Iranian Mahdi Army, are waging a war to eliminate the entire Palestinian population in Iraq, he told The Jerusalem Post. "This is a real genocide. Why isn't the international community doing anything to stop this? How come none of the Arab countries has even issued a statement condemning the atrocities?"

He said Palestinians who were still living in Baghdad are so afraid that they are using forged documents to conceal their true identity. "It's very dangerous to be a Palestinian in Iraq," he said. "The murderers stop you in the street and ask you to say a few sentences. If they see that you have a Palestinian accent, they make you stand against the wall and shoot you. These are ruthless murderers."

Well. At least they don't cut their throats open as LF Christians used to do in the good old days of Lebanon's civil war. LFers considered spending bullets on Palestinians a waste of ammunition. Compared to those days the Arab world has certainly advanced in its treatment of the Palestinians. Thanks God, we do see now some progress in Baghdad in this respect. I bet in just another 200-300 years the Arabs may even realize that something sucks about suicide bombings. By the way in those days bandora (tomato) was a keyword on the roadblocks. Those who failed to hide their Palestinian accent had their throats promptly slit. I am curious as to what they use in Iraq to determine that a person is a Palestinian.

A Palestinian man who was released two weeks ago from prison in Iraq said his interrogators repeatedly accused him and all Palestinians of supporting Saddam Hussein's suppression of the Shi'ites over the past three decades. He had been kidnapped together with 40 Palestinians from the Amin neighborhood in Iraq.

"When we arrived at the prison," he said, "the Shi'ite militiamen began shouting, 'We have brought the Palestinians, we have brought the terrorists!' After they beat us for hours, they took us for questioning. They kept asking, 'Why do you Palestinians love Saddam Hussein so much? Why did you take to the streets to protest against his execution? We want all the Palestinians out of Iraq or else we will finish off all of you.'"

By the way I also wanted to ask this question. Why as recently as a few weeks ago during the celebrations of the 42-nd anniversary of Fatah we still saw these crowds in Gaza chanting "Saddam Hussein!! Saddam Hussein!!" ?? What's so cool about the guy? It's not only Iraqi Shia of the Mahdi army who find the Palestinian infatuation with Saddam Hussein highly intriguing. The IraqPundit was writing recently:

Want to hear an unlikely take on the impending execution of Saddam Hussein? No problem. It says right here that Saddam "will go to the gallows with his head held high, because he built a strong united Iraq without sectarianism. He was considered as a strategic regional power. And as he goes to the gallows, those who imprisoned him will stand with their heads bent with shame and embarrassment because they cannot hide their own crimes against the country and its people."

Says who? An unrepentant Iraqi Baathist? Saddam's uncle? No. It's Abdel Bari Atwan, the Palestinian journalist who writes for the London-based Arabic-language newspaper, Al Quds Al Arabi. . .

. . . Al Quds offers a predictable Arab Nationalist line, and brims with the usual conspiracies and exaggerations. In that sense, Atwan's tearful farewell to his hero Saddam is probably typical of Arab Nationalist reaction to the verdict. . .

. . . My favorite of Atwan's "concessions," however, is a remarkable formulation that mitigates Saddam's massive crimes by characterizing (if not actually slandering) his victims. He writes, "He attacked the extremists who opposed him with various weapons, yes."
(By various weapons Atwan probably means gasing Kurdish separatists and Iranians with mustard gas. NB)

Atwan is a Palestinian, and Saddam championed Palestinians even as he trod on Iraqis' necks. Indeed, the enthusiasm for Saddam of people like Atwan is one of the reasons that many Iraqis became ambivalent about the Palestinian cause; they felt that their own lives under Saddam had become hostage to that issue.

Source

Very nice really. Back to The Jerusalem Post:

Khairiyeh Yehya, director of a think-tank organization in Jenin, said Palestinians in Iraq were paying a heavy price "just because of their nationality."

"The defenseless Palestinians... have become easy prey for the agents of the American occupation and all those who hate our people," she said. "How can anyone justify these killings?"

mmmm ... You see, Khairiyeh.. If only you could keep your people from dancing on streets whenever there is a major suicide attack in Israel or elsewhere... Refraining from chanting "Saddam Hussein!! Saddam Hussein !!" during Fatah demonstrations may also go some way towards helping your brothers in Iraq. And if your journalists like Atwan regain their sanity it may fail to endear Palestinians on the Mahdi Army, but still it's a nice way to avoid making matters worse for those your people still stuck in Baghdad. The world may be somewhat slow to help you but, you see, it's a kinda difficult to help people who are so bent on harming themselves in every possible way.

Atef Udwan, minister for refugees affairs in the Hamas-led government, said his office was searching for a way to allow the Palestinians in Iraq to move to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"This requires a political solution," he said. "We need to persuade Israel to give these poor people permission to enter our territories. This is a purely humanitarian issue that must be addressed urgently."

Source

Have we said recently that we are terribly missing these guys here? I just can't remember. Anyway I think some humanitarian gesture is possible. Though before we let some of these people in we sure would like to ask them one question. And this is: On which side they would like to fight in the approaching Palestinian civil war? ... just...you know ... out of curiosity...

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Thursday, February 1, 2007




Another Day in Iraq . . .

AP

Attacks, bombings kill 62 across Iraq

Two suicide bombers blew themselves up Thursday in a crowded outdoor market in a Shiite city south of Baghdad, killing 45 people and wounding 150, police said, the latest in a series of insurgent attacks against the majority sect during the Islamic holy month of Muharram.

The attackers strolled into the Maktabat outdoor market in the center of Hillah about 6 p.m. as shoppers were buying food for their evening meals. Police said they thought one of the men appeared suspicious and stopped him.

The bomber detonated his explosives, then the second attacker, who was walking behind the first, set off his, police added.

The attack killed 45 people and wounded 150, said Capt. Muthanna Khaled, a police spokesman in the southern province of Babil, of which Hillah is the capital.

. . .

A bomb ripped the roof off a minibus in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Karradah, another popular capital shopping area, killing six people and wounding eight, police said, adding that the explosive was left in a bag by a passenger who got off the bus just before it detonated.

(That was a minibus)

. . .

The bombings came hours after mortar rounds slammed into the Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah for the third day in a row, killing five people and wounding 12, hospital and police officials said.

. . .

Source

(Israelis are wrong if they think that they know what suicide bombings are about. We know nothing.)

AP

Four Sunni mosques attacked in late November in the embattled Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad still bear scars from the attacks and all are now either under Shiite Muslim control or closed.

Immediately after the Nov. 24 incidents, an Associated Press story quoted an Iraqi police captain saying the four mosques had been attacked and six men doused with fuel and burned alive at one of them. . .

. . .

Today, all four mosques are either clearly under the control of Shiites or closed and nonfunctioning, guarded by Iraqi army troops. The Iraqi army increased its presence in Hurriyah after the November attacks, which drove many Sunnis out of the neighborhood and put it firmly under Shiite control.

The loss of the Sunni mosques is a powerful symbol of how the formerly mixed neighborhood has changed to one where only Shiites are welcome.

An Associated Press reporter who lives in the neighborhood, and whose name has been withheld from this story for security reasons, visited the mosques Friday.

• At the small Mustafa mosque, where residents said the six men were burned Nov. 24, an AP video taken shortly after the Nov. 24 attacks showed burn damage and the front torn away by explosives.

The reporter who visited it Friday said the mosque was still heavily damaged and unrepaired. A teenager holding a pistol and sitting outside, believed to be a member of the radical Shiite Mahdi Army or its offshoots, pointed to graffiti on a nearby wall that said "TNT mosque," a reference to the fact it had been bombed.

"This is the TNT mosque. ... This name was given to it by Wahhabis" — the name of an extremist Sunni branch that is used by the Mahdi Army as a derisory label for all Sunnis.

• The al-Nidaa mosque, where the U.S. military said on Nov. 25 that its Iraqi sources had confirmed a fire, also remains damaged. The reporter who viewed it Friday said most of its dome has been destroyed although some was still in place. The dome's decorative covering has been knocked off and the part of the concrete dome structure that remains is full of holes. Windows are shattered and graffiti on a wall reads "Long live the Mahdi Army." The gates are closed and no one is inside the mosque or guarding it.

• The third, the al-Muhaimin mosque, had shattered windows and holes in the roof, but a closer examination was impossible because the gate of the wall surrounding the structure was locked, the AP reporter found. It is closed, guarded by the Iraqi army and adorned by a picture of the late Shiite cleric father of Muqtada al-Sadr, the anti-American cleric who heads the Mahdi Army.

• The fourth mosque named in the AP's original report, the al-Qaqaqa mosque, also known as the al-Meshaheda mosque, has a broken window and is closed, guarded by Iraqi army troops outside and adorned with a picture of al-Sadr's father. It also has Mahdi Army graffiti scrawled on its side, partially whitewashed over but still readable.

Source

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