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Friday, August 28, 2009




The Zionist Left's red lines

Rattling the Cage: The Zionist Left's red lines by Larry Derfner. Gives one a kind of insight into the thinking of the Left.

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What do Sunnis intend for Alawis?

This post is an update to And this is what I call good stuff. If you have any comments leave them there

What do Sunnis intend for Alawis?

Posted on Syrian Comment in 2006. Written by an Alawi, it's a view from a very special perspective. Some parts of it are a very good example of how playing into controlled tensions with the West (and actually everybody around) has become vital for the survival of the regime. It's also a very frank and blunt account of how much the Alawis dominate Syria's power structures. So go read it: What do Sunnis intend for Alawis following Regime change?

Among others a section of the letter that deals with the structure of the Syrian army makes a very interesting read.


4. The organization of the Army and security forces was masterminded very cleverly by the late president Hafez Assad to prevent coups similar to those that rocked Syria during the three decades after Syrian independence. The Syrian forces capable of carry out a coup-d’etat (Army, Special Forces, Police Force, and Security Apparatuses) are all bulky and centralized with an extremely complicated command structure, purposefully designed to frustrate plotters. Lateral communication is absolutely forbidden between units; all communications between units must travel through a cumbersome vee, first ascending up the command structure to the top level of one unit before descending down again through the ranks of the other unit. Most importantly, the many units and departments have an interlocking command structure so that no entity is autonomous. They cannot act without several other departments knowing about it. For example, any air force unit is under the influence of aerial-security (Mukhabarat Jawiyyah), army-security (Mukhabarat Askariyyah), the morale-guidance headquarters (Idarat el Tawjih al-manawi), military police, air force headquarters, army general headquarters, the Republican Guards, and the Palace. Officers with loyalties to theses various branches of security are sprinkled liberally throughout the security forces. This command structure makes the military practically useless against foreign enemies because of its stultifying array of conflicting loyalties, but extremely effective at guaranteeing internal stability. Any attempt to rebel is quickly thwarted and can be dealt with on the spot.


Now compare it to something published by the Middle East Quarterly in 1999


Combined Arms Operations

. . .

Third, Middle Eastern rulers routinely rely on balance-of-power techniques to maintain their authority.30 They use competing organizations, duplicate agencies, and coercive structures dependent upon the ruler's whim. This makes building any form of personal power base difficult, if not impossible, and keeps the leadership apprehensive and off-balance, never secure in its careers or social position. The same applies within the military; a powerful chairman of the joint chiefs is inconceivable.

Joint commands are paper constructs that have little actual function. Leaders look at joint commands, joint exercises, combined arms, and integrated staffs very cautiously for all Arab armies are a double-edged sword. One edge points toward the external enemy and the other toward the capital. The land forces are at once a regime-maintenance force and threat at the same time. No Arab ruler will allow combined operations or training to become routine; the usual excuse is financial expense, but that is unconvincing given their frequent purchase of hardware whose maintenance costs they cannot afford. In fact, combined arms exercises and joint staffs create familiarity, soften rivalries, erase suspicions, and eliminate the fragmented, competing organizations that enable rulers to play off rivals against one another. This situation is most clearly seen in Saudi Arabia, where the land forces and aviation are under the minister of defense, Prince Sultan, while the National Guard is under Prince Abdullah, the deputy prime minister and crown prince. In Egypt, the Central Security Forces balance the army. In Iraq and Syria, the Republican Guard does the balancing.

Politicians actually create obstacles to maintain fragmentation. For example, obtaining aircraft from the air force for army airborne training, whether it is a joint exercise or a simple administrative request for support of training, must generally be coordinated by the heads of services at the ministry of defense; if a large number of aircraft are involved, this probably requires presidential approval. Military coups may be out of style, but the fear of them remains strong. Any large-scale exercise of land forces is a matter of concern to the government and is closely observed, particularly if live ammunition is being used. In Saudi Arabia a complex system of clearances required from area military commanders and provincial governors, all of whom have differing command channels to secure road convoy permission, obtaining ammunition, and conducting exercises, means that in order for a coup to work, it would require a massive amount of loyal conspirators. Arab regimes have learned how to be coup-proof.

Source: Why Arabs Lose Wars

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Thursday, August 27, 2009




Shias all around

The New York Times on what "has long been viewed as a rare liberalizing, modernizing Islamic state" "in a region dominated by uncompromising examples of state control, like Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt."

Since a major bombing of downtown hotels and shopping areas by Islamic radicals in 2003, and a thwarted attempt at another bombing campaign in 2007, there has been a major and continuing crackdown on those suspected of being extremists here.

In 2003, anyone with a long beard was likely to be arrested. Even now, nearly 1,000 prisoners considered to be Islamic radicals remain in Moroccan jails. Six Islamist politicians (and a reporter from the Hezbollah television station, Al Manar) were jailed recently, accused of complicity in a major terrorist plot. The case was full of irregularities and based mainly on circumstantial evidence, according to a defense lawyer, Abelaziz Nouaydi, and Human Rights Watch.

What they actually expect a defense lawyer to say? That the state is going out of its way to make the work easy for him? And HRW does need an introduction.

In a rare interview, Yassine Mansouri, Morocco’s chief of intelligence, said that the arrested politicians “used their political activities as a cover for terrorist activities.”

“It was not our aim to stop a political party,” he said. “There is a law to be followed.”

Morocco is threatened, Mr. Mansouri said, by two extremes — the conservative Wahhabism spread by Saudi Arabia and the Shiism spread by Iran. “We consider them both aggressive,” Mr. Mansouri said. “Radical Islam has the wind in its sail, and it remains a threat.”

Source: The New York Times

Frankly I no longer know if I am very naive or these people are just very paranoiac. Can it be that everything around is teeming with Shias and we just don't see them?

The king of Morocco on a horse

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Sunday, August 23, 2009




Jihadis Turn their Eyes to Syria

August 20, 2009
By: Murad Batal Al-shishani

In what might be described as Syria from a jihadist perspective, an article entitled “Al-Qaeda al-Sulbah” (the Solid Base) was posted to the jihadi website al-Faloja.com on July 21 by active al-Faloja contributor Abu Fadil al-Madi. The article urges Salafi-Jihadis to reconsider the importance of the political and strategic changes in Syria. The title of al-Madi’s posting is borrowed from a 1988 article by Palestinian jihad ideologue Abdullah Azzam. [1]

Al-Madi claims there was a kind of agreement between the jihadis and the Syrian regime, an “unannounced agreement to stop mutual hostilities,” but the situation has changed since the latter part of 2005. It was then that the regime launched a campaign against “all the components of the Sunnis in Syria; the traditional religious groups (al-Khaznawi Naqshbandiya [a Sufi order] and al-Qubeisyat for example), the Shari’ia institutions (al-Fatah Institute and Abu Nur Institute, in particular), and even against those who were considered to be close allies of the regime, working with all their strength as a trumpet [of the regime] (Muhammad Habash, as an example).[2] As well, there is the fierce security campaign against the Salafi-Jihadi movement, which has escalated since [Fall 2005].”

Al-Madi’s post asserts that there is an alliance between the Syrian Alawite regime and Ja’afri-dominated Iran. [3] This alliance, based on the religious links of these two branches of Shi’ism (though not all Shiites recognize the Alawis as Shi’a), created the division in the Middle East between “the Shi’a crescent” and the “moderate axis.” Despite these ties, the article claims the Syrian regime is pragmatic in terms of its relations with the United States, especially when it comes to coordination against jihadis. Washington’s extradition to Syria of jihadi ideologue Abu Mus’ab al-Suri is an indication of the degree of this cooperation, claims the writer.

Having concluded that the Syrian regime is working hard against Sunnis in general, the writer asks, “What is the Salafi-Jihadi movement’s strategic vision for Syria?… Will it remain a potential passage for supplies [to Iraq] or has the time come - or close to it - for a radical strategic change?”

Al-Madi’s post states that the jihadi movement has concentrated its efforts on the Iraqi front since 2003 and “developed its political-strategic project by proclaiming the Islamic State of Iraq.” However, the geographically sensitive location of Iraq and the international and regional strategic conflict over resources such as oil have pushed both the states of the moderate axis and the Shi’a crescent to try to contain the jihadi movement, penetrate its apparatus and “adapt” it by all means, “each in its own way.” Accordingly, the Awakening councils (al-Sahawat) of Iraq were created by exploiting tribal relations with Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The councils also had connections to Syria, benefitting from the latter’s close ties with some Iraqi Ba’athist elements. Al-Madi believes that such policies wasted the efforts of the jihadis since 2007 in a battle of attrition instead of a final battle with “the Crusaders and their supporters in Iraq.”

Al-Madi continued by saying that “the fall of the Syrian regime or its collapse into chaos will have a direct impact on the neighboring Sunnis in Iraq and Lebanon, and they will liberate themselves from the constraints on their movement and will find in Syria, a free, important space for movement and supply.” In such a scenario the writer thinks that the “fall of Syria” will cut off land transport of Iranian land supplies to Hezbollah in Lebanon. This will equalize the strength of the Lebanese Sunnis with Lebanon’s Shi’a community. According to the author, Syria will serve as a backyard to support the fight against Americans in Iraq. “More importantly, the jihadi project will be in direct contact with Israel in an area which is ideal for guerrilla warfare, namely the occupied Golan Heights, without having to fight a costly battle to overcome the Shiite strongholds in southern Lebanon”.

. . .

. . .

Source: The Jamestown Foundation

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Saturday, August 22, 2009




The King of kings and His Kingdom

The Economist on what Libya has become under the leadership of the King of kings. A good introduction to the Kingdom of all kingdoms for those who are interested...

Tripoli, Libya’s capital, is sprouting fancy new hotels, as well as a new airport, to welcome an influx of would-be investors and tourists. Literacy is now nearly universal among schoolchildren. Life expectancy has gone up by 20 years, and infant mortality has fallen to less than a tenth of the level it was at the time of the revolution.

Yet such gains ought to be unremarkable for a country that exports nearly as much oil, per head, as Saudi Arabia: a total of $46 billion-worth last year, divided among just 6m people. In fact, Libya trails far behind other oil-rich states by many measures, and not just in the contrast between Tripoli’s garbage-strewn thoroughfares and the gleaming Miami-scapes of the Gulf. As any Libyan who recalls the days before Mr Qaddafi’s revolution can attest, this is a country where something has gone very wrong.

Source: The Economist

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Friday, August 21, 2009




And now this is what I call good stuff

Last updated: August 28, 2009

August 21, 2009


Envy Syrian Economic Minister. This man is smoking some really good stuff. Addressing the conference for tourism investment and real-estate development, Abdullah Al-Dardari has promised his audience a tsunami of investment that by 2015 will lift Syrian economy out of a hole it's currently in, boosting living standards and reducing unemployment.

DAMASCUS -- Syria is expected to witness "a wave of considerable investments" in the near future despite fallouts of the global financial crisis, Minister of Economic Affairs Abdullah Al-Dardari said on Wednesday.

. . .

He estimated the forecast investments in the country by 2015 at USD 132 billion, including USD 55 billion to be spent in the infrastructure.

The national economic growth is forecast to rise eight percent in 2015, Al-Dardari said, adding that unemployment would drop four percent.

Source: Zawya

I was rubbing my eyes when reading this. 132 billion USD by 2015! Not 132 million USD. 132 billion!!! How is this poverty stricken Syria going to attract so much investment?

It's not hard to guess where this astonishing number is coming from. Syria needs to attract annually billions of USD just to keep its head above the water. About 40% of Syrian population are under the age of 15. This means that within the next 15 years the workforce is set to double. For comparison, only about 20% of Iranians are in the same age group. Iran may be struggling with its current double digit unemployment but the situation should improve by the middle of the next decade. Unlike Iran, there is no light for Syria in the end of its decades long unemployment tunnel.

Demographics is only one of Syria's many troubles. This year Syria turned into a net oil importer which is a no small thing for a country used to rely on oil revenues to provide for a lion's share of its budget. No wonder the Syrian budget deficit was reported to balloon to 10% of the GDP this year. On top of this several years of uninterrupted droughts have devastated the agriculture. Agriculture accounts roughly for about 20%-25% of the Syrian GDP and employment and the devastation wrecked by the global warming in Syrian northeast has left the slums around Syrian cities swelling with thousands of climate refugees.

Finally for decades Syria was exporting its unemployment headache to the Persian Gulf region and remittances from Syrian workers in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf countries came to constitute an important part of Syrian economy. This year thousands of Syrians were reported returning home as the global crisis was hammering on the Persian Gulf economies. A more permanent threat is the next round of the Saudi jobs nationalization campaign that aims at replacing thousands of foreign workers, many of which are Syrians, with Saudis.

Syria's situation now is similar to that of a bicycle. If it stops moving forward fast, it will fall to the ground. The economy needs to grow by 6%-7% every year just to keep the country's economic and social woes from getting worse. Failure to maintain such an elevated rate of economic growth would mean going back in terms of unemployment and living standards. The World Bank said Syrian economy would grow only half this rate this and next year because of the impact of the global crisis. So two years are already lost. In fact, they are not lost. Syria will have to do something to make up for the missed growth targets.

Some would say this is too much for one single country to cope with. This is true. Among Arab countries Yemen is considered the most shaky with many analysts expecting its collapse within years. In terms of wretchedness Yemen may be out of competition, but the next very respectable second place plainly belongs to Syria. This country is literally hanging off a cliff. However, as Al-Dardari's comments demonstrate, as long as one has access to good stuff to smoke, nothing looks totally hopeless.

Some people, impressed by Al-Dardari's unhealthy optimism, may want to know where else in the region people have stuff good enough to get themselves so high. Well, in Israel of course. How do we know this? This country has spent decades debating the option of peace with Syria and yet no one has ever asked this simple question: After the Golan Heights are transferred to Syria, how can we be sure that Syria itself continues to exist?

This question is a no idle one since Syria's economic and demographic troubles are layered upon an ethnic structure that is one of the most problematic in the whole region. This country is simply begging to be ripped to pieces. The outstanding feature of Syria's ethnic-sectarian composition is an Alawi minority (should be roughly 10% of the population) ruling a Sunni Arab majority with an iron fist. The Alawi political domination is cemented by Alawis dominating security services and the upper echelons of the Syrian army.

Now a peculiar detail about the Alawis and their rule in Syria is that the Alawis are not exactly Muslims. In fact, a certain confusion exists about this religion since the Alawis keep their sacred books secret. A lonely apostate that once volunteered to shed some light on the Alawi religion has been promptly assassinated. From what is known about this religion it appears as an offshoot of Shiism that's gone astray and ended by incorporating elements of Islam, Christianity and sheer paganism altogether.

Naturally, when a non Muslim minority is ruling a Muslim majority, it should expect troubles. The Syrian regime knows this better than anybody else as it was once almost overthrown by a massive uprising launched by the Syrian department of Muslim Brotherhood. The Alawis tackled this issue in several ways. For one they were actively promoting other Syrian minorities like Ismaili Shias, Druze and Christians. This indeed has extended their support base but hardly made them more palatable for the Sunni Arab majority.

Another thing that the Alawis tried was to get themselves recognized as Muslims. The Alawis are known to have been courting at some point several leading Sunni clerics, but to no avail. Finally they have struck a deal with the leader of the Lebanese Shias, Musa al-Sadr, who recognized them as Twelver Shias, the leading branch of Shia Islam in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Bahrain. There was one little problem with this recognition, however. Many Sunni Arabs view Shias as heretics and when one heretic recognizes another heretic as a true Muslim this cannot be expected to leave a lasting impression on Sunni Arabs.

The matters are not helped by the fact that the Alawis are known to have occasionally practiced Taqiyya by dissimulating themselves as Sunni Muslims or pretending to follow other religions. Naturally this can only make the Sunnis ever more suspicious about them. Those interested in this stuff can read this piece by Martin Kramer about how the Alawis tried to get themselves confirmed as Muslims, but to put it short - it has never really worked. And because it has never really worked the Alawis were left with only one option: militant pan Arabism. This ideology downplays religious and sectarian antagonisms and stresses the importance of a united Arab front, regardless of whether these are Muslim Arabs, Christians or whoever, against the onslaught of Western colonialist imperialism. In some sense ever since their takeover of Syria, the Alawis have always tried to be more Arabs than the Arabs themselves and transform Syria into the spearhead of Arab nationalism and anti Western resistance.

Basically, this pan Arabist ideology requires two things: a massive propaganda machine and an external enemy. In terms of propaganda the regime has spent decades indoctrinating the living daylights out of the population. After several decades of uninterrupted brainwashing under the Alawi near totalitarian regime, the results are for all to see: Many Israelis who have experience of communicating with Arab bloggers or Arab commenters on forums could notice that Syrians are some of the most close minded and hostile of them all. In terms of external enemies, any visit by the American military to Iraq or Somalia is very welcome of course, but if nobody comes for a visit to the region, the Zionist crusader entity, an outpost of Western colonialism in the Middle East, serves this function just as well.

Basically, after having taken over Syria, the Alawi propaganda machine and pan Arabist ideology have transformed the whole society into a kind of monster which is very likely to devour its creator the very moment the creator fails to live up to the monster's expectations. Active role in the Israeli Arab conflict is one of these expectations the Alawi propaganda machine has made part and parcel of the Syrian national mindset. So, the Israeli Arab conflict has become the very foundation on which the regime in Syria stands. Remove this piece from the puzzle and it will all come down to pieces exposing the Syrian regime for what it is - a coalition of minorities led by the Alawis dominating a heavily oppressed and impoverished Sunni Arab majority. Without the Israeli Arab conflict, Syria, in its current configuration, can hardly survive as a nation.

It's hard to imagine tomorrow after Syria goes, but it may look like this: Amidst anarchy and sectarian strife, the Syrian Kurds establish a semi state similar to one they have now in Iraq. The Alawis barricade themselves in Latakia, a Syrian province where the majority of them are concentrated, cutting the rest of the country from the Mediterranean. It's not clear what other Syrian groups can do, but in this scenario the Sunni Arab heartland is very likely to be taken over by Muslim Brothers, Al Kaida style organizations and their likes in a process similar to what Iraqi Sunni provinces used to be a year ago. I leave it to the readers to guess as to who of these is more likely to take over the Golan Heights in case peace is already in place by the time it happens.

In practical terms it all comes down to this. The tremendous economic and social challenges facing Syria make the survival of the current regime, and actually of the whole country, a very tentative proposition. But without certainty about the future of Syria, trading the Golan Heights in exchange for peace becomes one of the most risky, some would say unwise, experiments in peace making Israel has ever tried. Neither Syria is very likely to be interested in genuine peace with Israel for the very simple reason of the anti Western resistance card providing the regime with the only glue that can keep the country together. Finally, even if by any miracle somebody succeeds to entice Syria into genuine normalization with Israel and the West, such a peace may quickly become the cause of Syria's undoing since it will deprive the regime of its raison d'être, the Israeli Arab conflict, which is the primary tool, besides Syria's ruthless security agencies, with which the Alawi regime imposes a semblance of unity on the country.

Really, it requires a lot of effort to ignore such obvious facts and some people may now start wondering after reading this as to why these issues almost never come up when Israeli politicians or media debate the Syrian option. The last two decades in Israel have seen many public debates regarding the Syrian option. These debates have been occasionally paralleled by always unsuccessful attempts to engage the regime. It's very telling that during these debates real questions were almost never asked.

One of these real questions should be this: What is the point of trying to trade land for peace with a country whose future is so uncertain as the future of Syria is? Another one: Why should we believe that the other side is interested in normalization when we know how central the Israeli Arab conflict is to the ideology of this regime? Yet another one: What is the point of dragging to negotiations a regime that may disintegrate and be devoured by its population the very moment it stops waving the flag of anti Israel and anti Western resistance?

There may be many fancy explanations for the absence of these questions, but my favorite one is that Syrian Economics Minister is not the only person in the region who is high on something. Al-Dardari may fancy himself with the idea that he smokes good stuff, but he should know that his colleagues on the other side of the border may be smoking something even better.


PS

I briefly touch on Syrian demographics in this post. Those interested in the Alawi religion may find a brief and succinct account of this religion here. Some would dismiss it because it's written by Christian missionaries. However, my impression is that it's actually better than anything else I read until now because it's written with a very practical purpose in mind - to assist missionaries who proselytize is Syria and North Africa. These people can't afford to entertain themselves with fancy notions about the Alawi religion, they should know the stuff they are working with. So such accounts usually tend to be technical, precise and free of usual PC and other claptrap.


August 28, 2009

What do Sunnis intend for Alawis?

Posted on Syrian Comment in 2006. Written by an Alawi, it's a view from a very special perspective. Some parts of it are a very good example of how playing into controlled tensions with the West (and actually everybody around) has become vital for the survival of the regime. It's also a very frank and blunt account of how much the Alawis dominate Syria's power structures. So go read it: What do Sunnis intend for Alawis following Regime change?

Among others a section of the letter that deals with the structure of the Syrian army makes a very interesting read.


4. The organization of the Army and security forces was masterminded very cleverly by the late president Hafez Assad to prevent coups similar to those that rocked Syria during the three decades after Syrian independence. The Syrian forces capable of carry out a coup-d’etat (Army, Special Forces, Police Force, and Security Apparatuses) are all bulky and centralized with an extremely complicated command structure, purposefully designed to frustrate plotters. Lateral communication is absolutely forbidden between units; all communications between units must travel through a cumbersome vee, first ascending up the command structure to the top level of one unit before descending down again through the ranks of the other unit. Most importantly, the many units and departments have an interlocking command structure so that no entity is autonomous. They cannot act without several other departments knowing about it. For example, any air force unit is under the influence of aerial-security (Mukhabarat Jawiyyah), army-security (Mukhabarat Askariyyah), the morale-guidance headquarters (Idarat el Tawjih al-manawi), military police, air force headquarters, army general headquarters, the Republican Guards, and the Palace. Officers with loyalties to theses various branches of security are sprinkled liberally throughout the security forces. This command structure makes the military practically useless against foreign enemies because of its stultifying array of conflicting loyalties, but extremely effective at guaranteeing internal stability. Any attempt to rebel is quickly thwarted and can be dealt with on the spot.


Now compare it to something published by the Middle East Quarterly in 1999


Combined Arms Operations

. . .

Third, Middle Eastern rulers routinely rely on balance-of-power techniques to maintain their authority.30 They use competing organizations, duplicate agencies, and coercive structures dependent upon the ruler's whim. This makes building any form of personal power base difficult, if not impossible, and keeps the leadership apprehensive and off-balance, never secure in its careers or social position. The same applies within the military; a powerful chairman of the joint chiefs is inconceivable.

Joint commands are paper constructs that have little actual function. Leaders look at joint commands, joint exercises, combined arms, and integrated staffs very cautiously for all Arab armies are a double-edged sword. One edge points toward the external enemy and the other toward the capital. The land forces are at once a regime-maintenance force and threat at the same time. No Arab ruler will allow combined operations or training to become routine; the usual excuse is financial expense, but that is unconvincing given their frequent purchase of hardware whose maintenance costs they cannot afford. In fact, combined arms exercises and joint staffs create familiarity, soften rivalries, erase suspicions, and eliminate the fragmented, competing organizations that enable rulers to play off rivals against one another. This situation is most clearly seen in Saudi Arabia, where the land forces and aviation are under the minister of defense, Prince Sultan, while the National Guard is under Prince Abdullah, the deputy prime minister and crown prince. In Egypt, the Central Security Forces balance the army. In Iraq and Syria, the Republican Guard does the balancing.

Politicians actually create obstacles to maintain fragmentation. For example, obtaining aircraft from the air force for army airborne training, whether it is a joint exercise or a simple administrative request for support of training, must generally be coordinated by the heads of services at the ministry of defense; if a large number of aircraft are involved, this probably requires presidential approval. Military coups may be out of style, but the fear of them remains strong. Any large-scale exercise of land forces is a matter of concern to the government and is closely observed, particularly if live ammunition is being used. In Saudi Arabia a complex system of clearances required from area military commanders and provincial governors, all of whom have differing command channels to secure road convoy permission, obtaining ammunition, and conducting exercises, means that in order for a coup to work, it would require a massive amount of loyal conspirators. Arab regimes have learned how to be coup-proof.

Source: Why Arabs Lose Wars

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Thursday, August 20, 2009




This is what I call suicide bombing

Within three minutes two truck bombers killed and wounded hundreds in Baghdad. The initial toll is 700 dead and wounded but it may well surpass one thousand as the authorities continue to identify victims. Whatever we have seen during the second Intifada is peanuts compared to this. May Allah have mercy on these people... and make them have mercy on themselves.



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Friday, August 14, 2009




The ticking bomb...

Last updated: November 6, 2009: If Mohammad does not go to Vietnam...

August 6, 2009


|3run0 said...

Interesting... For more scares, you should also get Yemen's pyramid.

Source: Flashdance RELOADED (comments section)

I have just noticed that Aslak from Demography Matters has a post about Yemen. Enjoy: The ticking population bomb




August 11, 2009

And the bomb keeps ticking...

The New York Times reports that Yemen's bloodiest insurgency, that of the Shiites around Saada, is exploding again while the unrest by separatists in the South is now supplemented by regular ambushes against police. The combined death toll runs in dozens. On top of this, a powerful tribal leader is now openly challenging president Saleh to step down.

Last week, in an interview on Al Jazeera, the Arabic news network, a member of one of Yemen’s most powerful families surprised the country’s political establishment by calling for Mr. Saleh to step down. The man, Hamid al-Ahmar, whose father was one of Mr. Saleh’s most important allies, brazenly said he could speak out against the president — something scarcely anyone dares to do — because his tribal confederation would protect him.

Source

Whether the bomb is finally going off is hard to know, but anybody who has ears can notice that it's ticking louder than before.


August 14, 2009

The Last Jew

The JPost says the last Yemen's Jews, about 250 all in all, are about to leave the country with the majority heading for Israel. You know, it's said that when they are fleeing a sinking ship, this is a sign... Oups sorry. I mean it's said that when Jews are emigrating, this means that things are not good.

Meanwhile the fighting around Saada is reported to be escalating with the city coming under aerial attacks. Al-Arabiya TV showed images of several government tanks allegedly destroyed by Zaidi rebels who cut off a strategic highway to Saudi Arabia. As a matter of fact, Yemen Post says that the rebels are now in control of all Saada.

And on a bit different note. An article in Yemen Times complains about young Yemenis having not a notion about such things as global warming and climate change.

SANA'A, Aug. 12 — Although Yemen is one of the countries most devastated by global warming, the majority of young people in Yemen are not aware of the meaning of the words ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming,’ say experts.

Source: Yemen Times

I agree, it sucks to be destroyed by something when you don't know even how to call it.


August 15, 2009

This Vietnam is a very big Vietnam

If the situation in Yemen starts strongly resembling the nearby Somalia, Saudi Arabia may consider in serious to intervene. The Saudis and other Gulf Arabs have many reasons to do something about Yemen, if only to prevent creation of a new mega-Somalia saddling both sides of the Gulf of Aden.


The Saudis also have very valid reasons to want to stay at home and concentrate on building more fences. This Vietnam is a big one. At least in terms of its population, it's almost of the size of Saudi Arabia itself (never mind Aslak's cheerful predictions that Yemen's population may exceed 50 million by 2050).


Al-Jazeera - Fierce battles waged in Yemen




PS

Wikipedia has the following to say about the released cleric mentioned in the video.

Mohammed Ali Hassan Al-Moayad (Arabic: محمد علي حسن المؤيد‎) is a Yemeni cleric who was convicted on federal charges of financing Hamas, Al Qaeda, and other Islamic terror organizations with tens of millions of dollars. He was also a leading member of the Yemeni Congregation for Reform and the imam of the biggest mosque in Sana'a.

In view of this Al-Jazeera's video should be probably better titled as: In a rare display of unity Yemenis find some common ground by welcoming another factor of stability into their country.

:D :D


August 17, 2009

Who the fuck are Zaidis?

I was asked by a couple of people who read this blog about the identity of the rebels of Saada. Very frankly I don't know as I am no expert on Islam. However, from those bits of information I do know, for all practical puproses Zaidis (Zaydis?) are a kind of Sunnis who decided that they are Shias and should follow the fifth Shia Imam. Other than following this Imam there seems to be very little that makes them Shias.

When I say very little it means that they are not in the business of mutilating themselves in solidarity with Hussein or whoever was that guy the Sunnis martyred near Karballah. They don't believe in the hidden Imam and occultation and such stuff usually associated with the Twelver Shias. Given that they are followers of the fifth Imam, I guess that they have simply split too early, before the mainstream Shia doctrines came into being.

Now, the thing that once deeply impressed me about Islam is the nature of all those splits and ramifications. Basically most of them came out of rivalries for the political legacy and authority of Muhammad. Islam is a very young religion and so the issue of who is the true heir was and remains a very serious business. Contrary to what many Israelis would expect from their experience with Judaism, in Islam they first quarelled for power and only then split and invented divergent theological doctrines to cement their rivalries. At least as far as the Shias are concerned all this diversity came out of disputes about which brother should be considered the true inheritor of this or that particular Imam. At the time of the split itself there was usually very little or no difference in philosophy and theology between the two camps. So it worked in reverse in Islam. Power struggles were often driving the theology and not the other way round.

Using an example from European history, it's as if the Protestants and Catholics would have first fought their wars and then each gone to his corner to sit down and look for explanations of why they were actually doing this. The same Oman sitting next to Yemen belongs to another branch of Islam, neither Sunni nor Shia, that sprang from a political dispute the nature of which even with my best intentions I can't comprehend. I admit that some may see this as a very biased interpretation of the history of Islam. This may well be the case, but this will remain my understanding of the matter until I know better.

Anyway, when it comes to Zaidis it's enough to know that unlike other Shias they don't have to wait for any hidden Imam to suddenly pop up. Neither they need any Khomeini to come up with a clever explanation of how an Islamic State can be set up without any Mahdi in sight. The Zaidis don't suffer from such complications and can have their Imamat right here and now. In fact, they used to have one and probably much of this insurgency is driven by aspiration to get another one. This is probably the most important thing you should know about Zaidis. If you think that my introduction to Zaidis suck and is inaccurate, you are welcome to post a better one in the comments section.


November 6, 2009

If Mohammad does not go to Vietnam...

This is a kind of "If Mohammad does not go to Vietnam, then Vietnam will come to Mohammad". The Saudis came under attack by Zaidi rebels from across the border. The Saudis reportedly evacuated several border towns and moved army units and special forces into northern Yemen.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009




The Shia Religion

This is from that New York Times report about the Shia restraint in Iraq quoted by the Economist. It does teach one something about this remarkable religion.

. . .

“Let them kill us,” said Sheik Khudair al-Allawi, the imam of a mosque bombed recently. “It’s a waste of their time. The sectarian card is an old card and no one is going to play it anymore. We know what they want, and we’ll just be patient. But they will all go to hell.”

The patience of the Shiites today is in extraordinary contrast to Iraq’s recent past. With a demographic majority of 60 percent and control of the government, power is theirs for the first time in a thousand years. Going back to sectarian war is, as both Sunni extremists and Shiite victims know, the one way they could lose all that, especially if they were to drag their Sunni Arab neighbors into a messy regional conflict.

It is a far cry from 2006, when a bomb set off at the sacred Shiite shrine in Samarra killed no one, but ignited a fury at the sacrilege that set off two years of sectarian warfare.

This year the equally important shrine of Kadhimiya in Baghdad, the tomb of two revered Shiite imams, was attacked by suicide bombers twice, in January and April. More than a hundred people were killed, but there was no retaliation.

Bombing Shiite mosques has become so common that Sunni extremists have been forced to look elsewhere to provoke outrage — much as they did in 2005, when Shiites similarly showed patience when attacked. They have attacked groups of Shiite refugees waiting for food rations, children gathering for handouts of candy, lines of unemployed men hoping for a day’s work, school buses, religious pilgrimages, weddings, marketplaces and hospitals in Shiite areas and even the funerals of their victims from the day before.

Iraq’s Shiites, counseled by their political and religious leaders and habituated to suffering by centuries as the region’s underclass, have refused to rise to the bait — for now. Instead, they have made a virtue of forbearance and have convinced their followers that they win by not responding with violence. Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has brought once violent Shiite militiamen into the fold, while the Shiites’ spiritual leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has forbidden any sort of violent reprisals.

. . .

Source: The New York Times

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How much influence do they have in our country?

I think this google search hit from Google Philippines is very touching.


Unfortunately, I am not sure that Google's search engine is that smart. This reader may find the result of his search missing something. (Never mind that I don't think they have Arabs there)

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Monday, August 10, 2009




The New Palestinian Ba'ath party

Aug 10, 2009
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH

Fatah's sixth General Assembly has shown that the 44-year-old faction is still not ready to transform itself from a revolutionary movement into a governing body - one that cares about establishing institutions and infrastructure for the future Palestinian state.

. . .

In light of the conference, many Palestinians are beginning to draw parallels between Fatah and Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party. As far as they are concerned, Fatah remains part of the problem and not part of any solution.

. . .

Instead of forming committees to look into ways of reforming Fatah, injecting fresh blood into its veins and restoring its lost credibility among a majority of Palestinians, the delegates preferred to establish a commission of inquiry to investigate the death of Arafat.

Why is there a need for such a commission if Fatah has already (and unanimously) determined that Israel was behind the "assassination" of the Palestinian leader? And why establish a commission of inquiry into the defeat of Fatah in the 2006 election when every Palestinian knows that Hamas won that vote largely because of the state of financial corruption and anarchy under the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority? Most of the Fatah officials who appeared before the gathering spoke and acted as if they were still in the battlefields of Lebanon and Jordan.

. . .

Source: Jpost

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Sunday, August 9, 2009




The Evolution of Parenthood



Yet another article in the Economist demonstrating how excessive intellectualism struggles to make friends with common sense. In the wake of the current crisis, much talk has been produced in the sense of fancy mathematical modeling of risks having chased away healthy intuition and just plain common sense. The Economist itself is making this point occasionally. And yet another article comes and another example of an out of control social science gone on rampage.

This article tries to make sense of the demographic decline now taking worrying proportions in developed nations and spreading rapidly into the third world. The Economist seems to have spotted a sudden reversal of fortunes in a recent uptick in Western birth rates and is musing over the possibility of "the environmentalist’s nirvana of uncoerced zero population growth".

No doubt all these social explanations are true as far as they go, but they do not address the deeper question of why people’s psychology should have evolved in a way that makes them want fewer children when they can afford more. There is a possible biological explanation, though. This is that there are, broadly speaking, two ways of reproducing.

One way is to churn out offspring in large numbers, turn them out into an uncaring world, and hope that one or two of them make it. The other is to have but a few progeny and to dote on them, ensuring that they grow up with every possible advantage for the ensuing struggle with their peers for mates and resources. The former is characteristic of species that live in unstable environments and the latter of species whose circumstances are predictable.

Viewed in comparison with most animals, humans are at the predictable-environment and doting-parent end of the scale, but from a human perspective those in less developed countries are further from it than those in rich ones. One interpretation of the demographic transition, then, is that the abundance which accompanies development initially enhances the instinct to lavish care and attention on a few offspring. Only when the environment becomes super-propitious can parents afford more children without compromising those they already have—and only then, as Dr Myrskyla has now elucidated, does the birth-rate start to rise again.

How far the process will continue, and whether it will spread to holdouts like Japan and Canada, remains to be seen. Indeed, the whole exercise is a warning of the risks of extrapolating the future from present trends. But, on present trends, things do, indeed, look hopeful.

Source

A much more plausible and less extravagant theory would be of course that as Western societies were growing rich, people were simply getting more selfish and individualistic. Raising children in the modern urban environment is a time consuming business while would-be and actual parents are getting increasingly self centric and reluctant to sacrifice their own lives for the sake of following the God's first commandment (which is multiply and procreate in Judaism). The crucial factor here is that people's priorities have changed. This pseudo scientific evolutionary approach can explain why people prefer to raise three children instead of ten, but it cannot explain one child families or such phenomena as 20% or 25% of German women who opted to live childless lives.

Some people won't mind to have more children and they don't do it not because they are not ready to compromise those they already have, but because they are not ready to compromise their own ambitions and lifestyles. The low fertility trend, however, can be indeed expected to reverse itself as people grow more prosperous but this is because people get extra income to spend on offloading child raising chores to private tutors, babysitters and their likes. In modern societies fertility can be probably factored out of the time child raising leaves to people for themselves. In some Western countries, however, big chunks of the population may now refuse to be bribed into parenthood by whatever amount of social benefits, parenthood leaves and such stuff. There is an acute crisis of culture here in a society that looks increasingly shaky and decadent and no amount of smart talk can cover up this fundamental fact.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009




when did the russians start hating jews?

As we continue our weekend marathon of answering questions from our dear readers, another reader from Kuwait wants to know when the Russians started hating Jews.


This one is very difficult to answer really since this would require to identify first in what period of their history before it happened the Russians actually loved them. And this is tricky.

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why jews rule the world wars?

This is an update to Why Jews rule the World?

A question comes from Google Australia:


Well, regarding the whole world it's a bit complicated. As to the world wars, that's an easy one, boy. If you want to rule the world, you have to rule the world wars too. It's just part of the business. Simple really.

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Friday, August 7, 2009




How British kids spend their weekends

This post is an update to Introducing the Dancesaurus

Edmund Conway went to check how British kids spend their weekends and he came back much encouraged. Despite Edmund's habitually raining on other people's parade (or so he claims), the kids valiantly resisted the unwelcoming weather. The kids were chemically enhanced, of course, and yet, according to Edmund, the kids were so unusually nice that this can't be easily dismissed on the grounds of unnatural manipulation of brain's biochemistry.

What was different was the atmosphere. It was unlike any club, concert or festival I’ve ever been to before. Tens of thousands of youngsters going absolutely crazy in front of me. I must have been around double the age of most of them, and when I tell you I’m 29 you will hopefully see what I mean. But what an eye-opener. I’ve never seen a crowd go as mad as these guys did to the Prodigy and their Aussie inheritors Pendulum. No doubt many of the audience were, ahem, chemically-enhanced, but all the same, there was one thing that struck me. I have been to see the Prodigy before in London, and the crowd were a pretty unpleasant bunch. There were fights. This time around, the kids may have had rather rough edges but there was nothing but goodwill throughout the evening (at least the part that I saw).

Source: How British kids spend their weekends

In the comments section of Edmund's post people were swearing by God that there was no rain on that day and, in general, the unusual association of British kids with such a massive outbreak of goodwill creates the impression that some adults who took part in the festival were chemically enhanced too and in a big way. Nevertheless, I tend to trust Edmund on this matter because I want to believe that every next generation is better than the previous one and that we can now safely retire from the scene knowing that the world is safe in the hands of the new generation.

Over the next days since his experience Edmund made a few scary posts about the credit crunch and general state of the British economy, but who cares when you know that a generation of these wonderful kids is soon to take matters into their hands? Hold my hand, Edmund. We are going to make it.


El Farouki - Take My Hand




PS

Born in Morocco and currently mixing and being mixed everywhere, El Farouqi tells about himself that he switched to electronic music after seven years of violin and classical music. If you like deep and gradually escalating tracks, he is the man. As Nizo says: May Allah Bless The Arabs.

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The Koran (Kindle Edition)

I came across on this one through Mo blog. This is an absolute killer. Thanks Roba. This is a Koran that comes preloaded with Amazon's Kindle.

Click to enlarge


Source: Amazon.com

An astonished reviewer writes in the comments section:

Index of authors:

Prophet Muhammad, the illiterate, and:
Archangel Gabriel !?

You must be joking!


I especially liked that they presented Muhammad and Archangel Gabriel as a kind of co-authors of the book

:D :D

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You don't send a cat to deliver creme

This post is an update to Sheep in Wolf's Clothing

Fuad Ajami about Arab Human Development Report 2009 compiled by a group of Arab intellectuals under sponsorship of the UNDP (United Nations Development Program).

The simple truth is that the Arab world has terrible rulers and worse oppositionists. There are autocrats on one side and theocrats on the other. A timid and fragile middle class is caught in the middle between regimes it abhors and Islamists it fears.

Indeed, the technocrats and intellectuals associated with these development reports are themselves no angels. On the whole, they are unreconstructed Arab nationalists. The patrons of these reports are the likes of the Algerian diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi and the Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi, intellectuals and public figures whose stock-in-trade is presumed Western (read American) guilt for the ills that afflict the Arabs. Anti-Americanism suffuses this report, as it did the earlier ones.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

The afore mentioned report enumerates various evils responsible for the presumed current crisis of the Arab world from global warming to the possession of oil. The chief villains of course are outside meddling and local autocrats who by understanding are also a kind of implants of or at least supported by foreign powers. Widely commented upon is the absence in the report of stuff like the role of Islamic fundamentalism. Never mind the Arab intellectuals themselves or the half century long uninterrupted population explosion that's only now coming to an end.

This cannot be any other way given that the so called Arab intellectuals (This is a misnomer as very often there is very little intellectual or intelligent about these people) are up to their necks in responsibility for the existence of the same despotic regimes or bloodshed in Iraq and Darfur. Many current Arab regimes came to power and maintained it while cheered upon by the Arab intellectual elites, who often shared their socialist and anti Western orientation. The latest mess in Iran was another demonstration of how ambivalent Arab intellectuals can get when it comes to trading resistance for democracy. Some seem to be utterly unable to kiss goodbye to this darling of the anti Western resistance, which is Ahmalala, even for the sake of supporting democracy and popular will.

In fact, the very structure of the report betrays the crooked logic of the people who compiled it. The report's central thesis is a kind of "We have a problem because we have problems". "Human security is a prerequisite for human development, and its widespread absence in Arab countries has held back their progress," says the report and then identifies various political, economical and environmental threats to human security. The logic of the report is a kind of "Give us the first world's education and social security standards, democracy and please take away this global warming plague, so we can start with our human development". Guys, you don't need any human development after this. This IS human development.

The report bundles together "A lack of representative government coupled with human rights violations and sweeping powers for security agencies..." with "Threats to life and peace for millions of people as a result of the Palestinian occupation, the U.S. military intervention in Iraq,...". Has the US military intervention in Iraq not brought to the country a representative government and removed, or at least tried to remove, sweeping powers for security agencies? That the country was later swamped with hundreds of suicide bombers who volunteered for their missions inside Shia mosques and markets from all corners of the Arab world is also a fault of the intervention? By far the thing that impressed most many observers was how little the Arab intellectuals had to say about tremendous suicide attacks unleashed by the Sunni insurgents while they were busy decrying occupation and lauding resistance. In many ways the US intervention in Iraq was the best chance ever given to the Arab world to skip over many hurdles enumerated in the report and there can be no denying that many Arab intellectuals did their best to derail this experiment in forced democratization.

In short, it may sound counter intuitive but the Arab intellectuals are not the kind of people to be trusted with writing reports about the state of the Arab world for the very simple reason of "You don't send a cat to deliver creme".

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To boom or not to boom?

The Economist is musing over the latest uptick in West European fertility in its current edition: Baby boom, or bust?


A reader responds in the comments section: (Our friend Aslak has also left a couple of comments there)

Ulrich312 wrote:August 6, 2009 17:03

I do not know how to make this sound politically correct, but those babies you have on the graph are not representative of the boom.

:D :D

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The paradox of liberalism

While googling for some data requested by Abu Rakun, I hit on this. In reply to a question about his predictions of fundamentalist groups surpassing secular populations, Erik Kaufmann had the following to say about the paradox of liberalism:

In reply to a question, Kaufmann speculated that demography may expose a contradiction, first cited by Nietzsche, between liberalism's practical need to defend itself and its inability to legitimate the illiberal policies that may be required to do so.

Source

There is a question begging to be asked here. This contradiction is certainly inherent to liberalism, but why should it be a paradox of secularism too?

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Thursday, August 6, 2009




Drinking oceans out...

The Bank of Israel's recent campaign to suppress the Shekel exchange rate by buying dollars smells a lot of a tale about somebody who tried to empty an ocean by drinking from it. The bank should better get some sense of proportion lest it finds itself in a situation like this one.


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Wednesday, August 5, 2009




Flashdance

I have put all my recent Iran posts under one label: Flashdance

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009




Far larger than its leaders

Last Updated: October 10, 2009

August 04, 2009


Gives a very good idea about how Iran's economy is structured....

Iran’s problems are far larger than its leaders

Last Updated: August 03. 2009

. . .

Instead of establishing its legitimacy by fostering economic opportunity and growth for all, the Islamic Republic’s economic system rewards those who profess unconditional attachment to the tenets of the Revolution. Through their social organisations and business interests, the Revolutionary Guards and its thuggish internal wing, the Bassiji force, command the unquestioned loyalty of no less than five million people, an ideological core that will blindly follow Mr Khamenei’s commands. The Revolutionary Guards operate tax-free businesses and do not hesitate to exert intimidation to displace their competitors. A few years ago, their tanks even rolled on the tarmac of the new Tehran airport because it was to be operated by a competing Turkish consortium. If one is to include government employees that can easily be intimidated and their families, nearly 20 million Iranians are dependent on the government for income.

The bonyads, or religious foundations, are the country’s key economic players. They control as much as 40 per cent of the country’s economy, but their books are kept secret and they report to the country’s clerical establishment uniquely. Leaving such little transparency and little room for private initiative and entrepreneurship is no way to build an economy for the future. The growing number of young Iranians in the workforce compete for too few government jobs and their benefits while the unemployment rate hovers near 20 per cent. No wonder so many Iranians vote with their feet against their nation’s policies, applying for European, Canadian or American visas.

. . .

Source: National (UAE)


October 10, 2009

Do you wanna revolution?

According to the New York Times, Iran's Parliament started an investigation into the nation's telecom monopoly's takeover by a company affiliated with the Revolutionary Guard. This one follows a similar inquiry into a $2 billion worth deal by means of which another company affiliated with the Baseej militia has acquired in August what is reported as the largest lead and zinc mine in the Middle East. And on top of this, reports the New York Times, there are talks about transforming the Baseej into a full time force.

In the wake of the Green Revolution, some analysts have been speculating about a possible takeover of the state by some sort of a joint military clerical rule led by the Revolutionary Guard. Ahmadinejad has reportedly promoted dozens of former Guard commanders to high administrative posts and let firms affiliated with the Guard to take over key economic installations under the cover of what was supposed to be a privatization campaign. The Guard's acquisition spree that followed the collapse of the Green Revolution generally confirms this suspicion and can make fans of revolutions in general, and green revolutions in particular, somewhat disheartened at the reduced prospect of regime change by means of a popular uprising. However, while this seems to be a very reasonable and pragmatic assessment of the situation, it's not that clear that what the regime is currently trying to do makes sense in practical terms.

For starters, to let the Guard into the economy means to expose it even more to corruption and ineffectiveness that are the defining characteristics of Iran's social and economic system. Making the Guard the biggest employer may also set it on a collision course with the population given the chronic state of massive unemployment and floor level wages of Iran's economy. Clearly, the Guard is at its best as a professional fighting force acting as an outsider during political turmoils such as the last one. Transforming Iran into a police state and making the Guard part of this corrupt and messy system is a double edge sword that can destroy both the last bits of the Guard's reputation and the motivation of its rank and file members.

The thing is that Iran is a different society than it was 20 years ago and no amount of repressions can change this. Highly televised forced confessions by dozens of members of the so called opposition (the opposition seems to be packed with people who under Khomeini were the revolution's flesh and blood) could make a lot of sense a few decades ago when the regime was capable of eliminating people by thousands, but this is no smart thing to do under the present system that can't do away with accusations of torture and mistreatment even within its own media. Extracting forced confessions from so many people is no good if you then leave them around to share their horror stories with the media. Iran's standing, even in the Shia world, seems to have already taken a blow from which it can't recover and the mismanaged crackdown on the opposition is bound to wreck it even further as time goes by. In fact, it looks as if the regime is struggling to internalize the fact that neither itself, nor the country it's running, are any longer what they used to be. By its basic instinct, the regime is leaning to harsh and uncompromising methods, but it's lacking the teeth to implement them thoroughly enough.

The idea of transforming the Baseej into a regular force may also prove to be self defeating in the long run. One can argue that if the Shah would have had some equivalent of the Baseej, the monarchy would have been still around today. The Baseej effectiveness stems in part from its being a kind of volunteers driven militia. During the Green Revolution regular police forces were frequently reported as vacillating or plainly sympathizing with the protesters. The Baseej moved in and their "irregularity" was revealed as a big advantage both in terms of their zeal and motivation, and unrestrained violence they used against the protesters. The fact that many Baseej were highly motivated volunteers from inside the ordinary population should have had an added benefit of them having at times better information than professional security services. And this they have put to good use when mopping up protesters and during overnight raids on their homes. To transform the Guard into a state within a state, or to structure the Baseej as a regular force may deprive them of the very same qualities that make them so valuable for the regime.

Actually, the very fact that the Parliament is running inquiries into the Guard's latest acquisitions indicates that while the system is busy attempting to devour its disillusioned creators, it's plainly struggling to get hold of itself. So not everything is yet lost for the opposition. As a wise (crazy) man said: If you will it, it is no legend. Translated to Persian it roughly reads as: If you wanna revolution, you may eventually get one.


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Jumblatt is doing it again

One of the key M14 leaders, Walid Jumblatt, has announced that he is switching sides and joining the Hezbollah-Aoun alliance effectively depriving Sa'ad Hariri's coalition of a majority required to rule without consent of the opposition.

Aug 3, 2009

A longtime leftist and a one-time close Syrian ally, Jumblatt shifted after Hariri's assassination to the Western-backed camp after being a main beneficiary of Syrian goodwill when Damascus had the final say in Lebanese affairs for close to 30 years.

Since the 2005 break with Damascus, however, he became one of the harshest critics of Syria in Lebanon, calling for the overthrow of President Bashar Assad's regime and blaming Syria for the 1977 killing of his father, prominent politician Kamal Jumblatt. He has also accused Syria of being behind the assassination of Hariri and other politicians in Lebanon since 2005.

But Jumblatt has moderated his anti-Syrian rhetoric since fighters from the Shiite Hizbullah stormed Beirut's Sunni Muslim neighborhoods in May last year, taking control of vast swaths of the city with surprising ease.

In his comments Sunday, he said he was returning to his leftist roots and will seek "distinguished relations" with Syria.

The Future Movement (Sa'ad Hariri) promptly protested:

Without naming Jumblatt, it said cryptically that it could not criticize Jumblatt for shifting his loyalty but only so long as it did not mean "going back to the shameful history in which many were partners in giving priority to private interests over that of the country."

Source: Associated Press (quoted by Jpost)

I am sorry to break it to you, guys, but this time it's your turn to storm Shiite neighborhoods in Beirut if you want to make any lasting impression on this unstable personality.

Walid Jumblatt

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Can't wait for this to happen

Sun Aug 2

LONDON (AFP) – A disastrous energy crunch is looming because most of the major oil fields in the world have passed their peak production, a leading economist warned Monday.

Fatih Birol, chief economist with Paris-based International Energy Agency, said such an "oil crunch" within the next five years could jeopardise recovery from the global recession.

Higher oil prices brought on by a rapid increase in demand and a stagnation, or even decline, in supply could derail the recovery, Birol said in an interview with The Independent newspaper.

Birol said many governments appeared unaware that oil is running out faster than previously predicted, with global production likely to peak in about 10 years -- at least a decade earlier than most had estimated.

. . .

. . .

The IEA, the energy monitoring and policy arm of the 30-nation Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, said last month that signs of a strong rally in global economic growth and oil demand were fading.

The IEA added however in its latest monthly report that there could be a dramatic turnaround for demand next year.

Source: AFP

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Sunday, August 2, 2009




Money is not everything who word?

A question comes from Google Thailand:


What does it mean who word? It's my word....

:D :D

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