Seeking credibility

Seeking credibility

Jan. 18, 2007

Daily Times (Pakistan)
Just as the Washington bureaucracy was joining its voice with the NATO commanders in Afghanistan to protest Pakistan’s ‘double-faced’ approach to the problem of cross-border Taliban raids from Pakistani territory, the Pakistan army has attacked and killed some more ‘terrorists’ based in South Waziristan. The army spokesman says they were ‘militants’ training in some local compounds, which means they were Al Qaeda and Taliban elements along with their local Waziristani facilitators. Predictably, however, the tribal member of parliament from the region, Maulana Mirajuddin, says they were simply ‘locals’ working in the compounds with the help of Afghan ‘powindas’, or migratory labourers. Unfortunately, such is politics in Pakistan that everyone who is anyone in the opposition will say that the government is lying while those who support the government will feel unsure because the government mysteriously fights shy of supplying sufficient proof whenever the army goes on the offensive and ‘takes out’ foreign militants. It has happened twice in Bajaur, and one can safely declare that more people disbelieve the official story than believe it. In fact the opposition made such a big show of its anger that it made its MPA resign from Bajaur in protest. Thus, despite the fact that there is no earthly reason why the government should lie and deliberately kill its own people needlessly, most people will be inclined to believe that the eight ‘foreigners’ (read the Taliban) were all ‘innocent’ local people.

Why is Pakistan able to show the NATO commanders evidence that it has ‘taken out’ foreign miscreants and terrorists holed out in Pakistani territory but is unable to provide the same evidence to the people of Pakistan? When Ahmad Shah Massoud used to catch Pakistani-intelligence officers in Afghanistan fighting for the Taliban, he used to put them on TV and then show close-ups of their documents. India, too, has been ready to show Pakistani ID cards carried by the ‘freedom-fighters’ it killed in Kashmir. But Pakistan, which is said to have killed a lot of foreign terrorists in Waziristan, has not been able to consistently give credible proof that they were indeed ‘foreigners’.

According to ‘intelligence reports’ put out by the army spokesman, there were “25-30 foreign terrorists and local facilitators occupying a complex of five compounds in the area and three out of the five compounds have been destroyed, killing most of the terrorists present in those compounds”. But the fact that Pakistani helicopters raided the distant thickly forested village on the border of North and South Waziristan when US Defence Secretary Robert Gates had arrived in Kabul for talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai is not lost on anyone. Although non-partisan sources in the area say the camps belonged to the local mercenary pro-Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud and only eight people were killed, no one in Pakistan is going to swallow the story.

With good timing, President General Pervez Musharraf told a gathering of corps commanders in Rawalpindi that Pakistan would “destroy any hideout used by militants that it finds on its territory” and that “we shall not allow any illegal cross border activity or any terrorist to take refuge in our area, and if it happens it shall be dealt with by direct military action”. While he said this, however, thousands of people gathered in Tank in Waziristan and protested the killing of ‘innocent people’ by the Pakistan army.

The fact, however, is that there are many telltale signs pointing to the presence of Al Qaeda and its supporters in Waziristan. The entire world knows that after the 2001 invasion the Taliban fled across the Durand Line and took refuge in this tribal area. The locals denied it because they were either on the take or simply scared. Steadily all the elders opposed to giving shelter to Al Qaeda were shot dead by these dangerous elements. The most convincing proof came after Bajaur One and Bajaur Two. Since the first Bajaur raid was carried out by American drones, Al Qaeda took its revenge inside Afghanistan near Spin Boldak by killing many troops of the Afghan army. And since Bajaur Two was claimed by the Pakistan army, the revenge was taken in Dargai in Pakistan through a suicide-bomber. How is Pakistan’s credibility to be upheld at home and abroad? Why is the government not willing to make a public show of the evidence it has of foreigners killed in the raid?

The fact of the matter is that the US-Pakistan disagreement over what really goes on this side of the Durand Line has reached a dangerous level. The Americans are now increasingly inclined to accuse Pakistan of complicity in the trouble that Afghanistan is having with the Taliban. Indeed, from the latest statements in Islamabad one can infer that a ‘hot pursuit’ type of pre-emptive strike from NATO forces could actually take place. That would create more problems for Pakistan than it would solve for America.

On the American side, there is a need to be careful while relying on Afghan reports of foul play by Pakistan. There is a lot of easy twisting of facts going on in the region. This should be apparent to the NATO command. When it claims that 50 Taliban have been killed in a showdown, the Taliban retort that not a single man from their hordes has been killed. It all depends on how many people believe you.

British Zionist Press Claims Saudi Complicity in Plan to Bomb Iran

Saudis give nod to Israeli raid on Iran

Uzi Mahnaimi in Tel Aviv and Sarah Baxter

The head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Earlier this year Meir Dagan, Mossad’s director since 2002, held secret talks with Saudi officials to discuss the possibility.

The Israeli press has already carried unconfirmed reports that high-ranking officials, including Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister, held meetings with Saudi colleagues. The reports were denied by Saudi officials.

“The Saudis have tacitly agreed to the Israeli air force flying through their airspace on a mission which is supposed to be in the common interests of both Israel and Saudi Arabia,” a diplomatic source said last week.

Although the countries have no formal diplomatic relations, an Israeli defence source confirmed that Mossad maintained “working relations” with the Saudis.

John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations who recently visited the Gulf, said it was “entirely logical” for the Israelis to use Saudi airspace.

Bolton, who has talked to several Arab leaders, added: “None of them would say anything about it publicly but they would certainly acquiesce in an overflight if the Israelis didn’t trumpet it as a big success.”

Arab states would condemn a raid when they spoke at the UN but would be privately relieved to see the threat of an Iranian bomb removed, he said.

Referring to the Israeli attack on an alleged Syrian nuclear facility in 2007, Bolton added: “To this day, the Israelis haven’t admitted the specifics but there’s one less nuclear facility in Syria . . .”

Recent developments have underscored concerns among moderate Sunni Arab states about the stability of the repressive Shi’ite regime in Tehran and have increased fears that it may emerge as a belligerent nuclear power.

“The Saudis are very concerned about an Iranian nuclear bomb, even more than the Israelis,” said a former head of research in Israeli intelligence.

The Israeli air force has been training for a possible attack on Iran’s nuclear site at Natanz in the centre of the country and other locations for four years.

Morocco changes tack in anti-terrorism policy

Photo

Three suspects arrive at the court room in Sale near Rabat March 2, 2007. Morocco has shifted from mass arrests to tight surveillance in its fight against Islamic militants and hopes a new campaign to reinforce the authority of state-appointed imams will cut off support for jihadism.

REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

Morocco changes tack in anti-terrorism policy

By Tom Pfeiffer

RABAT (Reuters) – Morocco has shifted from mass arrests to tight surveillance in its fight against Islamic militants and hopes a new campaign to reinforce the authority of state-appointed imams will cut off support for jihadism.

As militants reach a growing audience through DVDs and the Internet, the government has tried to seize back the initiative, revising laws governing mosques

and adding new theological councils to tighten control of religious life in the regions.

Now it is preparing to send 1,500 supervisors into the north African country’s towns and villages to make sure that imams are preaching the moderate local version of Islam and respect for King Mohammed in his role as leader of Morocco’s Muslims.

Suicide bombings in May 2003 killed 45 people and tarnished a reputation for stability that helped staunch U.S. ally Morocco draw growing numbers of tourists and record foreign investment.

An anxious security sweep saw the closure of unregulated mosques and the arrest of more than 3,000 people on terrorism-related charges.

“The security services may have been badly prepared, which explains why we arrested thousands of people,” said Moroccan political analyst Mohamed Darif. “They have now begun to master the situation and no longer arrest just anyone.”

Around a third of those rounded up since 2003 remain in prison and Islamist advocacy groups say many are held on flimsy evidence after being forced to sign false confessions, something the government denies.

Security experts say the authorities have a better grip on the situation after building up a database of potentially dangerous Islamists and managing to infiltrate some networks to ward off attacks before they happen.

European governments are hungry for Morocco to share its knowledge, fearing Algeria-based Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb could use the kingdom as a springboard for attacks in Europe, according to European security experts.

Intelligence appears to have improved — arrests are announced less often and tend to involve smaller numbers of suspects.

Moroccans have been linked to several plots targeting European states in recent years.

Two were convicted in Spain for train bombs in the suburbs of Madrid that killed 191 people and wounded 1,857 in March 2004. A Moroccan court convicted a drug trafficker in December of links to the attacks.

Analysts say Spanish intelligence officials are increasingly worried about the establishment of al Qaeda training camps deep in the Sahara, as far away as Mali and Mauritania.

Last month, Moroccan police arrested five members of a suspected terrorist cell that was also active in Spain, according to a security source.

“There’s a suspicion that a lot of traffic goes through Morocco and lots of people who are important in facilitating that are sitting in Morocco,” said Peter Neumann, director at the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College London.

SOFT POWER

Last year Sheikh Mohammed Maghraoui, a Saudi-funded religious figure, told followers that girls as young as nine could marry.

His comment was interpreted as a fatwa, or religious edict, and was condemned by media and human rights groups. The government ordered the closure of dozens of Koranic schools linked to Maghraoui.

In Morocco, only the Senior Council of Ulemas, or religious experts, is authorised to issue religious decrees.

Government officials say counter-terrorism is not the main goal of the imam training programme.

They say the aim is to ensure that imams have the necessary skills to do their job and are in tune with modernising reforms carried out since King Mohammed came to the throne in 1999.

Knowing a few verses of the Koran will no longer be enough to confer authority.

They will be taught how to dispense advice, arbitrate in disputes, help with literacy programmes among the poor and made aware of new laws such as one giving married women more rights.

“This is more than just a response to 2003. It’s a demand from society today that the state does what is necessary,” said Hakim el Ghissassi, a cabinet member at Morocco’s Ministry for Religious Endowments and Islamic Affairs.

“In this era of satellite TV, people no longer accept to see religious officials who are not trained.”

Morocco is also sending religious experts to Europe under agreements with countries including France and Spain that have large Moroccan expatriate populations.

A new European Council of Ulemas will help improve Islamic instruction in Europe and ensure imams are better trained and more socially involved, said Ghissassi.

“If today we deny religious instruction to the young, where will they look for it?” said Ghissassi. “On extremist Internet sites with self-proclaimed radical Imams.”

Some analysts are doubtful that improving the quality of Islamic instruction will stop young, second-generation Moroccans in Europe signing up for jihad.

“It’s not the control of religious organisations that will put an end to terrorism,” said Olivier Roy of France’s National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS). “The young who radicalise do so outside the context of the mosque.”

Along the Russian-Georgian border, war games or prelude to war?

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/44931000/jpg/_44931625_tanks_afp.jpg

Along the Russian-Georgian border, war games or prelude to war?

Although both countries claim the military exercises are simply for practice, some wonder if the old dispute is again flaring.

By Fred Weir

MOSCOW – Both Russia and Georgia claim to fear a fresh attack from the other. That’s why, each insists, they’re staging war games and building up military forces to levels unseen since last August’s brief but brutal war over the breakaway Georgian territory of South Ossetia.

Some experts suggest the Russians may be testing President Barack Obama, who arrives in Moscow on Monday, the very day Russia’s current military mobilization is scheduled to end. Together with its new allies South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Moscow is this week holding its biggest post-Soviet army maneuvers amid the tense, mountainous borderlands where last summer’s war raged. Georgia has denounced the Kavkaz-2009 games, which feature 8,500 troops and 200 tanks, as “pure provocation” and a possible prelude to renewed hostilities. Last month, Moscow slammed considerably smaller NATO-sponsored exercises in Georgia in nearly identical terms (read more Monitor coverage here).

“The Georgian government is very agitated around these Russian war games, and is at least suggesting that it is connected with the Obama visit to Moscow,” says George Khutsishvili, director of the independent International Center for Conflict and Negotiation in Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi. “The fear here is that if Obama reveals some weakness in his talks in Moscow, that it could lead to a renewal of the war…. I don’t take this seriously, but there is no doubt that these military exercises are a demonstration of force on the anniversary of the war. They show that Russia is ready.”

Among other things, Russia is testing several new weapons – such as the T-90 tank – and fresh tactics adopted following harsh assessments of its Army’s performance during the August war (read more here).

In Northern Ossetia, the Russian border region linked to South Ossetia, where the bulk of the war games are taking place, there is also deep unease over the dueling exercises.

“We are hearing about concentrations of Georgian troops near the border, and this is deeply alarming for us,” says Olga Vyshlova, editor of the daily Severnaya Ossetiya newspaper in Vladikavkaz, the capital city of North Ossetia. “The Caucasus is not a calm region. If the Russian troops are building up their skills to protect us, what’s wrong with that?”

A fierce dispute still rages over who started last summer’s war, which broke out barely a week after Russia had completed its then largest-ever regional war games, Kavkaz-2008. The consensus of experts, a year on, is that Russia may have been looking for reasons to attack Western-leaning Georgia, but Georgian President Mikhael Saakashvili gave Moscow an ideal pretext by launching a surprise military assault to retake the Russian-protected breakaway statelet of South Ossetia on the night of August 7 (read more Monitor coverage here).

The Kremlin’s point of view is that Mr. Saakashvili has still not relinquished his dream of recovering separatist Abkhazia and South Ossetia by force, even though both have since been recognized as independent states by Moscow. Hence, this week’s massive Russian war games are presented as a defensive gambit.

“The purpose is to cool down any possible fantasies in Saakashvili’s circle, to show that Russia is ready to defend Abkhazia and Ossetia,” says Valentin Rudenko, director of the independent Interfax-Military news agency. “Russia has no intention of upsetting the present status quo. Its aims are defensive.”

But some experts maintain that Russia has unfinished business with Georgia, and that a new war may be in the cards as early as mid-July. Pavel Felgenhauer, a military expert with the Russian opposition weekly newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, argues that Moscow needs a fresh conflict to consolidate its hold on South Ossetia, control the oil and gas resources of the Caspian region, and rid itself of the all-too-resilient Saakashvili.

“These Russian military exercises have grown in scope each year, and last year, they were a direct preparation for war with Georgia,” Mr. Felgenhauer says. “It could be the same this year.”

He argues that South Ossetia, a tiny enclave that existed in a kind of no-man’s land between Russia and Georgia until last summer’s war joined it forcibly with Russia, has become economically unviable since Russian troops sealed its border with Georgia.

“The people in South Ossetia nearly starved last winter,” Felgenhauer says. “Basically, South Ossetia cannot survive unless it has an open border with Georgia,” as it did in the past.

Since Russia refuses to negotiate the status of South Ossetia with Saakashvili, “that suggests they are planning to deal with him through regime change,” Felgenhauer adds.

Russia and NATO last week put aside their differences over last summer’s Caucasus war and renewed their military cooperation, but serious tensions remain over US support for Georgia’s eventual membership in the Western military alliance.

Both Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the powerful prime minister, Vladimir Putin, have argued that Saakashvili is an illegitimate leader and an unstable personality with whom Moscow can never do business.

But nearly three months of rolling demonstrations by Georgia’s opposition have failed to unseat Saakashvili and left the Kremlin with few options to manage the deteriorating relationship with its wayward neighbor.

“Saakashvili and the opposition are locked in a stalemate, at a very low level,” says Mr. Khutsishvili. “It’s all subsided, but nothing is solved. Most people don’t want either side to win, but want the country to move forward.”

As for the rumors of war, he says: “The mood here is very tense. But few people think an attack from Russia is imminent.”

NATO-ization of Georgia in full swing

more about “NATO-ization of Georgia in full swing…“, posted with vodpod

NATO-ization of Georgia in full swing

The first stage of controversial NATO-led military exercises has been completed in Georgia, with the second phase scheduled to start in three days.The maneuvers kicked off on May, 6, involving 14 countries. The second phase begins on May, 21 and will go on until June, 3.“Staff exercises were aimed at training the compatibility of multinational forces while carrying out peacekeeping missions,” Giovani Savareze, the representative of the alliance to the trainings said.“These exercises will bring Georgia even closer to NATO,” he added.Moscow strongly opposes the drills, calling them an open provocation given the armed conflict in nearby South Ossetia in August 2008. President Dmitry Medvedev said they would increase tension in the region.Read more“Naturally, we are concerned about NATO military exercises in Georgia. They can’t make us happy in any way. On the contrary, they create problems, tensions, and I don’t think they will help European security in any way, and they will heat up tension in Georgia itself,” Medvedev told journalists at a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Saturday.The Foreign Affairs Ministry of South Ossetia has also expressed concerns over the military activity, claiming that Georgia today is the main cause of instability in the Caucasus.An official statement from the Ministry urged NATO to consider the consequences of its actions.“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of South Ossetia calls on NATO management and the alliance member states to soberly evaluate possible consequences of the military support for Georgia which is the main source of danger and regional destabilization. And also the purposefulness of the policy of dragging the aggressor state into the military block.”The exercises are being held against a backdrop of political turbulence in Georgia. An alleged coup plot was uncovered recently while opposition protests against the president are entering their second month.Nineteen countries were initially going to take part in the games but Armenia, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Serbia withdrew at a late stage due to various reasons.

EU to delay Georgia war report

EU to delay Georgia war report

ANDREW RETTMAN

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – The result of an EU-sponsored enquiry into the origins of the 2008 Georgia war is set to be delayed by two months, amid rising fears of fresh hostilities in the region.

EU diplomats in Brussels on Friday (3 July) agreed to the postponement from 31 July to September following a request from the Swiss-led investigation, the so-called IIFFMCG. The decision must be rubber-stamped by EU ministers, with the next ministerial due on Tuesday.

Orthodox priest blesses Georgian soldiers (Photo: jimforest)
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Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini, in charge of the probe, said she needs more time due to fresh material coming to light at a late stage, EU sources explained. The enquiry’s €1.6 million EU budget is to remain unchanged.

Ms Tagliavini’s findings could prove politically explosive.

If the report hangs blame on Georgia’s president Mikheil Saakashvili, it could reinforce calls from Russia and the Georgian opposition for him to step down. If it burdens Russia, it could damage EU-Russia relations and impact Russia’s participation in international conflict resolution mechanisms.

IIFFMCG documents leaked to German magazine Der Spiegel in June look bad for the Georgian leader.

The papers said the probe has found no evidence that Russian tanks entered Georgia’s rebel-held South Ossetia region on 7 August, the day of Georgia’s attack on the rebel capital.

One of the enquiry’s experts, retired British colonel Christopher Langton, said the “country can only blame itself” for Russia’s reaction. Another

expert, German lawyer Otto Luchterhandt, said Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia were entitled to self-defence under Article 51 of the UN charter.

The Georgian president remained bullish in a TV address on Friday. “I want to assure that it [the probe] will say that we were right,” Mr Saakashvili said.

The postponement comes at a time of mounting tension in Georgia.

A team of 20 OSCE monitors responsible for South Ossetia left Georgia on Friday after Russia declined to extend its mandate. Russia has also shut down a mission of 130 UN observers in Georgia’s rebel-held Abkhazia territory.

The departures leave an EU monitoring mission – the EUMM, composed of 220 unarmed personnel – as the only international entity standing between the hostile forces.

The EUMM itself became a target on 21 June when a mine explosion killed the driver of an ambulance traveling in an EU convoy near the Abkhazian border. Georgia says 19 of its citizens have been killed in similar attacks since open warfare ended last August.

“We are not going in the right direction by withdrawing these two missions,” an EU diplomat told EUobserver. “Things will remain tense. We are going to have a hot summer.”

Russia flexes muscle

Russia’s decision to hold large-scale military exercises in the Caucasus this week has also raised concern. The “Kavkaz 2009″ wargames involved over 8,000 Russian troops, reportedly including Russian units in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and neighbouring Armenia.

Russian analysts Pavel Felgenhauer, who predicted the 2008 conflict, and Andrei Illarionov, a former Kremlin aide, have pointed to the risk of fresh hostilities after the visit to Moscow on 6 July of US president Barack Obama.

“The current situation resembles the situation of last year in the pre-war period,” Medea Turashvili, a Tbilisi-based analyst for the International Crisis Group, an NGO, told EUobserver.

A new conflict could serve the interests of Mr Saakashvili, who has faced opposition protests on the streets of Tbilisi since March, by rallying public support against an outside aggressor.

It could also help Russia to show who is boss in the post-Soviet sphere at a time when Georgia, Ukraine, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are building closer relations with the EU and, in some cases, Nato.

“Russia has made no secret of the fact it wants to see president Saakashvili removed,” Georgia’s EU ambassador, Salome Samadashvili, told this website. “It is important for Moscow to demonstrate that it can still orchestrate regime change in its neighbourhood.”

The end of radical Islam

The end of radical Islam

by Joshua Muravchik, guest opinion

Saturday July 04, 2009, 11:33 AM

Iran’s turmoil heralds movement’s demise

Is history ending yet again?

Much as the hammers that leveled the Berlin Wall in 1989 marked the end of the Cold War, so might the protests rocking Iran signal the death of radical Islam and the challenges it poses to the West.

No, that doesn’t mean we’ll be removing the metal detectors from our airports anytime soon. Al-Qaida and its ilk, even diminished in strength, will retain the ability to stage terrorist strikes. But the danger brought home on Sept. 11, 2001, was always greater than the possibility of murderous attacks. It was the threat that a hostile ideology might come to dominate large swaths of the Muslim world.

Not all versions of this ideology — variously called Islamism or radical Islam — are violent. But at the core of even the peaceful ones, such as that espoused by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, is the idea that the Islamic world has been victimized by the West and must defend itself. Even before the United States invaded Iraq, stoking rage, polls in Muslim countries revealed support for Osama bin Laden and for al-Qaida’s aims, if not its methods. If such thinking were to triumph in major Muslim countries beyond Iran — say, Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia — violent extremists would command vast new quantities of personnel, explosives and funds.

This is precisely the nightmare scenario that is now receding. Even if the Iranian regime succeeds in suppressing the protests and imposes the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by force of bullets, mass arrests and hired thugs, it will have forfeited its legitimacy, which has always rested on an element of consent as well as coercion. Most Iranians revered Ayatollah Khomeini, but when his successor, Ayatollah Khamenei, declared the election results settled, hundreds of thousands of Iranians took to the streets, deriding his anointed candidate with chants of “Death to the dictator!”

“Even if they manage to hang on for a month or a couple of years, they’ve shed the blood of their people,” says Hisham Kassem, an Egyptian publisher and columnist. “It’s over.”

The downfall or discrediting of the regime in Tehran would deal a body blow to global Islamism that, despite its deep intellectual roots, first achieved real influence politically with the Iranian revolution of 1979. And it also would represent just the most recent — and most dramatic — in a string of setbacks for radical Islam. Election outcomes over the past two years have completely undone the momentum that Islamists had achieved with their strong showing at the polls in 2005 in Egypt and in 2006 in Palestine.

This countertrend began in 2007 in Morocco. The Justice and Development Party (PJD), a moderate Islamist group that had registered big gains five years before, was expected to win parliamentary elections. But it carried only 14 percent of the vote, finishing second to a conservative party aligned with the royal palace. And in municipal elections earlier this month, the PJD’s vote sank to 7 percent.

Jordanians also went to the polls in 2007 and handed the Islamic Action Front “one of its worst election defeats since Jordan’s monarchy restored parliament in 1989,” as The Washington Post reported. The party won only six of the 22 seats it contested in the parliamentary vote — a precipitous drop from the 17 seats it had held in the outgoing legislature.

Forged from diverse ethnic groups linked only by Islam, Pakistan would seem fertile soil for radical Islamism. Nonetheless, Islamist parties had not done well until 2002, when — with military strongman Pervez Musharraf suppressing mainstream political forces — Islamists won 11 percent of the popular vote and 63 seats in parliament. But in a vote last year, on a more level field, the Islamists’ tally sank to 2 percent and six out of 270 elected seats. Moreover, they were turned out of power in the North West Frontier province, previously their stronghold.

In April, Indonesian Islamist parties that had emerged four years earlier to capture 39 percent of the vote lost ground in parliamentary elections that time around, falling to less than 30 percent. “You can’t pray away a bad economy, unemployment, poverty and crime,” one voter, a 45-year old shop assistant, told Agence France-Presse.

Then in May came parliamentary elections in Kuwait, where women had won the right to vote and hold office in 2005 but had never yet won office. Even though the Islamic Salafi Alliance issued a fatwa against voting for female candidates, four captured seats in parliament. Adding insult to injury for the Islamists, their representation fell from 21 seats to 11. “There is a new mind-set here in Kuwait,” the al-Jazeera network reported, “and it’s definitely going to reverberate across the gulf region.”

Finally, Lebanon held a tense election last month that many expected would result in the triumph of Hezbollah and its allies over the pro-Western March 14 coalition. Instead, the latter carried the popular vote and nailed down a commanding majority in parliament.

Of course, each election featured its own dynamics, reflecting local alignments and issues, but they all point in the same direction for radical Islam — a direction reinforced by recent opinion polls in the Muslim world. Last year, the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that from 2002 to 2008, the proportion of respondents saying that suicide bombing was sometimes or often justified dropped from 74 percent to 32 percent in Lebanon, from 33 percent to 5 percent in Pakistan, from 43 percent to 25 percent in Jordan and from 26 percent to 11 percent in Indonesia. As a food-stand operator in Jakarta put it: “People are less supportive of terrorist attacks because we know what terrorism does. We’re afraid of attacks.”

Military and social developments in Iraq and Pakistan also seem to be bending to the same wind. Whatever the contribution of the U.S. military “surge” of 2007, the tide of battle shifted in Iraq when broad swaths of the Sunni community that had supported or participated in the resistance to U.S. occupation turned their guns against al-Qaida in Iraq, the insurgent group. And this year, the moderate government in Pakistan finally seems to have turned decisively against the Taliban. Although many critics believed that the central government lacked the will and the ability to subdue the radicals, it has suppressed them in the Swat region and is now carrying the battle into their Waziristan heartland.

What explains this broad reversal for the forces of Islamic extremism?

Clearly, citizens in Pakistan and Iraq were repelled by the brutality of the radicals, as have been many in such other Muslim countries as Jordan, Egypt and Indonesia, which have suffered domestic terrorism attacks. Nor has the Islamists’ performance in power in Afghanistan, Sudan and Gaza won any admiration. The Internet and other communications technology is entangling the younger generation of Muslims more thoroughly with their Western counterparts than their elders, making appeals to turn away from the West ring hollow.

Others point to U.S. influence as well. As developments in Iran have unfolded over the past weeks, a minor Washington debate has emerged — along partisan lines — over whether President George W. Bush’s tough policies blunted the force of the radicals or whether President Obama’s open hand has assuaged anti-American anger and inspired anti-regime forces. Both might be true. Or neither.

Regardless of the underlying causes, a defeated or merely discredited Islamic Republic of Iran could mark the beginning of the end of radical Islam. Until now, Iran has offered the only relatively successful example of Islamist rule, but the bloody events there are strengthening the momentum against radicalism and theocracy in the Muslim world. If the regime hangs on, it will depend increasingly on the militia and other security forces and less on its religious stature.

Of course, the fading of radicalism would not necessarily mean the disappearance of Islamic politics. Saad Edin Ibrahim, the Egyptian intellectual, noted in The Wall Street Journal last week that Islamist parties are being “cut down to size,” and he hopes that they “evolve into Muslim democratic parties akin to the Christian Democrats in Europe.”

That would be a result the West could live with.

Copyright: 2009, The Washington Post

Joshua Muravchik is a Foreign Policy Institute fellow in the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and the author of “The Next Founders: Voices of Democracy in the Middle East.” Reach him at jmuravc1@jhu.edu

Afghan-Pakistani hostility impedes US troops: Washington Post

Lt. Gabe Lamois’s mission sounded simple: Hike down the hill to the Pakistani Frontier Corps’ border post, inform the commander there that U.S. and Afghan troops were going to be moving through the area at 3 a.m., and hike back up the hill. Before Lamois had even finished speaking, the Pakistani officer was shaking his head. “We have a lot of enemies here,” Lt. Ghulam Habib explained. His jittery troops might mistake the Americans for the Taliban and shoot them. “How about 4 a.m.?” Lamois asked. “Impossible; 7 a.m.,” Habib countered. The haggling turned to pleading before they settled on 5:30 a.m. Lamois walked off, and the Pakistani commander, eager to demonstrate that he was in charge of the area, trained his machine guns and mortar tubes on the U.S. campsite, about 500 yards away. “It’s a strange relationship, considering we’re supposed to be allies,” Lamois groused. Senior U.S. and Pakistani officials have stepped up efforts in recent months to tame the chaotic border area, used by the Taliban as a base from which to fire rockets at U.S. positions in Afghanistan and smuggle fighters and weapons. But high-level talks have not led to cooperation on the ground, where U.S. troops are struggling to overcome decades of enmity between Afghanistan and Pakistan. “I am not sure why the [Pakistanis] are even here, except to stick a thumb in the eye of the Afghans,” said Maj. Jason Dempsey, the No. 3 officer in the U.S. battalion on the border. When 800 troops from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division moved into the area in February, it marked the first large-scale U.S. presence on the border in Konar province since the invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001. The Americans had been in place only a few weeks when the local Pakistani commander summoned them and the senior Afghan commander in the area for an emergency meeting to discuss his fears that Afghan forces, backed by U.S. air power, were planning to attack Pakistani posts. U.S. officials said the Pakistanis were angry that the Afghans were building a fort on the ridgeline between the two countries. Pakistan has long suspected that Afghanistan wants to grab Pashtun tribal lands on its side of the border. The meeting quickly became “very ugly and emotional,” said Lt. Col. Mark O’Donnell, the senior U.S. officer in the area. The Afghan commander said he needed the new border fort to hold off Taliban fighters who had fired on his troops from Pakistani army positions a few months earlier, killing four Afghan soldiers and wounding a U.S. adviser. The Pakistani colonel denied the firefight had happened, prompting the Afghan to pull out his cellphone, on which he said he had saved a video of the battle. Before he could play it, O’Donnell interceded. To break through the suspicion, the 10th Mountain troops planned to hold a series of meetings with their Pakistani counterparts. But they quickly realized that the rugged terrain, poor Afghan roads and a shortage of U.S. helicopters made frequent visits impossible. “On the map, the border looks like it’s only three or four kilometers away,” Dempsey said. “The reality is that it is a major operation for us just to get to there.” For the Taliban, it is much easier. Its fighters drive on paved Pakistani roads to the border, where they regularly launch rockets toward the U.S. bases from sites within just a few hundred yards of the Pakistani positions. The Americans respond with a barrage of artillery. In the middle of one recent U.S. counterattack, Dempsey’s Nokia cellphone chirped with a text message from his Pakistani counterpart: “Sir, rounds are falling 200-300 meters short of our post. Plz adjust your fire. Thanx.” When they arrived in the area, the Americans assumed that the Pakistani troops were cooperating with their former Taliban allies. But after visiting the border posts, they realized that the terrified Frontier Corps soldiers were essentially prisoners in their posts. At the Karir Pass, the site of most of the Taliban rocket launches, the Pakistani troops are flown via helicopter to their border forts, each a cluster of small buildings made out of rocks, with no running water. Their food is also airlifted in every few weeks. Although there is a paved road leading from their border post to a nearby Pakistani village, the Frontier Corps troops get their water from a natural spring in Afghanistan. “We asked them why they didn’t get their water from the Pakistani village,” recalled Command Sgt. Maj. James Carabello. “They told us that if they went into the village that the Taliban would cut their heads off.” Every few weeks, a team of U.S. and Afghan soldiers flies up to the border area to kick over the Taliban rocket-launch sites and blow up Taliban safe houses, used to store weapons and food. In April, U.S. and Afghan troops destroyed 10 Taliban launch sites during a three-day operation. The enemy salvos slowed, only to start up again in early June. Although the Taliban fire is often inaccurate, military officials said, one well-placed shot at the main U.S. base in the valley could cause major casualties. “We’ve got to figure out how to get some presence up there on the border,” O’Donnell, the U.S. commander in the area, told his officers in mid-June. “We’ve been really lucky so far.” A few days later, about 60 U.S. and Afghan soldiers climbed into two CH-47 Chinook helicopters that ferried them up to the mountains near the Karir Pass. After seven minutes in the air — a journey that would have taken a full day on foot — the troops scrambled out of the back of the helicopters, taking cover behind crumbling fighting positions from an earlier war. Snow covered the nearby peaks. Narrow donkey trails and the dry ravines known as wadis, used by the Taliban forces to hide from U.S. surveillance aircraft, snaked through the rocky soil. A team of U.S. and Afghan scouts marched off to search for Taliban bunkers and rocket-launch sites. Dempsey and Capt. Michael Harrison, who leads a 140-member infantry company in the area, headed off in the opposite direction to meet with Pakistani troops. In late April, Dempsey and Harrison had shared a pot of tea with the Pakistani soldiers in their dark stone fort. This time, Habib, who had replaced the previous commander three weeks earlier, intercepted them on the mountainside and told them they were not permitted inside his base. He sent one of his privates to fetch a thermos of sweet green tea and wedged himself between two boulders and a scraggly tree. “Do you know Captain Shahab at the Nawa Pass border fort?” Harrison asked brightly. “He’s a good friend of mine. He gave me his cricket bat.” Habib, who wore a simple, tan army tunic and carried a rusted British rifle, nodded. In his new posting, he commanded about 30 soldiers. The Americans, trying to make conversation, asked him about his military career, his troops and his family. He replied that he had been a soldier for 17 years and had six young children back in Karachi. “Now I know why you are at the border instead of back home,” Dempsey joked, pulling out a snapshot of his children playing in the snow. One of Habib’s privates studied the picture intently. “California?” he asked. “No. It’s New York,” Dempsey said. After a few minutes of awkward small talk, Habib asked the Americans why they had come to his border post, perched on a rocky cliff at a place that suggested the end of the world. “Someone has been shooting rockets at us from over on that ridge,” Dempsey said, pointing to a stone outcropping about 250 yards away. “We wondered if you had seen anything.” “The Taliban are the enemy of Pakistan and the U.S. Army,” Habib said. “Do you ever see people firing rockets?” “I don’t know anything about it,” Habib replied. Later, the Americans trudged back up to their campsite and spent the rest of the day searching the surrounding mountains for the donkey trails the Taliban was using to move across the border. They kicked over a crudely built stone wall with black scorch marks at its base, a telltale sign that it was used for rocket launches, and they took pictures of a four-room building being built on an isolated ridge about 50 yards from the border. They also stumbled across simple graves dating to Afghanistan’s war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s. U.S. commanders have been able to slow the flow of Taliban fighters across the 90-mile stretch of border by winning over Afghans who live in the Konar River valley, which the insurgents must traverse as they move deeper into Afghanistan. But to stop the influx entirely, U.S. officials said, they must have the support of deeply suspicious Pakistani forces. One idea is to open a border coordination center on the Afghan side where commanders from all three countries could plan operations. “Our goal is to get everyone focused on the common enemy,” Dempsey said, referring to the Taliban insurgents. As night fell on the border, explosions from the Pakistani military’s ongoing fight with the Taliban in the tribal areas boomed in the distance. Taliban radio traffic, which the fighters know the Americans intercept, chattered with threats. “Shoot the infidels,” a voice said in Pashto. “Hold your position. I will be there soon,” another said. But the attack never came. Next morning, as the sun began to crest the Hindu Kush mountains, the U.S. and Afghan troops hiked down to Habib’s border fort, ignoring the Pakistani officer’s warning to wait until 5:30 a.m. to pass. Testily, Habib told them to detour around his outpost, prompting one of the Afghan soldiers to chamber a round in his rifle. A U.S. adviser to the Afghan army quickly interceded. “Cut that stupid [expletive] out and keep walking,” the Marine sergeant barked.

High Command Worries US Flushing Militants from Helmand Into Balochistan

Troika discusses operational strategy

President, PM, COAS meet second time in three days

By our correspondent

ISLAMABAD: The power troika comprising President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Saturday met for the second time within three days to discuss issues relating to security in the wake of the ongoing military operation against militants and extremists.

Earlier, the troika had met on Wednesday and discussed the security situation in the country with special reference to the operation in the Malakand Division and Waziristan.

The one-line official announcement from Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar only stated that the prime minister and the chief of Army staff called on the president at the Presidency and discussed issues relating to the security situation in the country.

However, sources said the troika discussed post-military operation strategy with special reference to the safe return as well as rehabilitation of the internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The sources said it was decided that short-and long-term strategies would be followed for the safe return and rehabilitation of the IDPs and reconstruction of the areas.

The sources said the top civilian and military leadership reiterated its will to eliminate extremism with people’s support.

The sources said the Army chief briefed the president and the prime minister on the Army helicopterís crash in the Orakzai Agency in which 26 soldiers, including officers, were martyred. Gen Kayani informed Zardari and Gilani that investigations were being carried out.

The sources said the troika also discussed the US operation against the Taliban in Helmand province of Afghanistan and its likely impact on Balochistan. In this regard, the COAS also briefed the president and the prime minister on his meeting with the ISAF commander.

Pakistan has concerns that due to large-scale US operation in Helmand, the fleeing Taliban will cross into the Pakistani territory. Pakistan has increased the deployment of security forces at its border with Afghanistan to stop the entry of the Taliban into its areas.

Islamabad has already conveyed its reservations to the United States on Washington’s decision to bring more troops to Afghanistan, fearing it will destabilise Balochistan, while the US has assured Pakistan that it would not let extremists and terrorists cross into the Pakistani territory.

In last Friday’s meeting too with US Secretary for Homeland Security Ms Janet Napilitano, Prime Minister Gilani had sought the United States support for working out a permanent solution with the government of Afghanistan to check uncontrolled, illegal crossings, particularly of militants, terrorists, and drug traffickers from across the border into Pakistan.

Obama Urges Groups to Stop Attacks (Where’s the Love?)

Obama Urges Groups to Stop Attacks

Advocates Should Turn Attention to Promoting Legislation, President Says

Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 4, 2009

President Obama, strategizing yesterday with congressional leaders about health-care reform, complained that liberal advocacy groups ought to drop their attacks on Democratic lawmakers and devote their energy to promoting passage of comprehensive legislation.

In a pre-holiday call with half a dozen top House and Senate Democrats, Obama expressed his concern over advertisements and online campaigns targeting moderate Democrats, whom they criticize for not being fully devoted to “true” health-care reform.

“We shouldn’t be focusing resources on each other,” Obama opined in the call, according to three sources who participated in or listened to the conversation. “We ought to be focused on winning this debate.”

Specifically, Obama said he is hoping left-leaning organizations that worked on his behalf in the presidential campaign will now rally support for “advancing legislation” that fulfills his goal of

expanding coverage, controlling rising costs and modernizing the health system.

In the call, leaders of both chambers expressed optimism that they will hold floor votes on legislation to overhaul the $2.2 trillion health system before Congress breaks in early August.

For his part, the president vowed to use his strong approval rating with voters to continue making the case for sweeping reform, according to one congressional staffer with knowledge of the conversation. Obama also hinted that efforts are under way to discourage allies from future attacks on Democrats, according to the source, who did not have permission to speak on the record about the discussion.

The White House had no comment on the president’s call.

In recent weeks, liberal bloggers and grass-roots groups such as MoveOn.org, Democracy for America, Service Employees International Union and Progressive Change Campaign Committee have targeted Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.), Mary Landrieu (La.), Arlen Specter (Pa.), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Dianne Feinstein (Calif.).

A fundraising video produced by Democracy for America suggests

Landrieu is a “sellout” because she has received $1.6 million in campaign contributions from the health-care industry and has yet to endorse the concept of a government-run health insurance plan to compete against the private companies. The public-option concept, which Obama supports, has become a litmus test for many pro-reform activists who accuse the insurance industry of failing to deliver affordable, accessible care.

“Tell Senator Landrieu to support the people of Louisiana, not insurance companies,” the spot concludes.

Founded by former Vermont governor Howard Dean, Democracy for America argues that inclusion of a Medicare-style public option in health-care legislation is “non-negotiable.”

MoveOn, a Web-based political action committee that works to elect “progressive” leaders, intended to run commercials over the Fourth of July holiday criticizing Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) for her silence on the public option. But after she endorsed legislation crafted by Democratic colleagues on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions that includes that provision, the group dropped its plans.

“This measure is the heart of health-care reform and is supported by MoveOn’s 5 million members, as well as the majority of the American people,” said MoveOn’s executive director, Justin Ruben. “With the support of legislators like Senator Hagan, we can come closer to our goal of making quality health insurance accessible and affordable for everyone.”

Health Care for American Now, a labor-based coalition of 1,000 groups, has organized a petition pressuring Feinstein to support legislation that includes a public option.

“We need a senator who is championing, not nay saying, the need for reform,” the petition says. “We’re hoping Sen. Feinstein becomes a ‘champion’ for the people of California and stands up for President Obama’s health reform.”

Richard Kirsch, who runs the coalition, said most of the group’s ads are educational or focused generally on the need for broad-based change.

“We’ve been promoting reform and yes, asking members of the public to contact their senators,” he said yesterday. “It’s all in support of reform.”

Feinstein said in an interview last week that she does support health reform but has concerns about the cost of legislation and the impact on her home state. She discounted the attacks as unhelpful and counterproductive.

Obama was joined on the call with lawmakers by White House health czar Nancy-Ann DeParle, though he led most of the conversation. DeParle and White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina have been in intense negotiations with hospital representatives in the hope of extracting guaranteed spending reductions from the industry.

Attorney General to Classify Pro-Life Pro-Gun Americans as Terrorists

Attorney General to Classify Pro-Life Pro-Gun Americans as Terrorists

Sunday, 05 July 2009 05:51 Jim Kouri

An amendment to a bill swiftly moving through the US Congress will allow the Obama Administration’s Attorney General to classify Americans as domestic terrorists if they are pro-life, pro-gun and anti-big government.

Impeached Florida judge — now a Democrat Party member of the House of Representatives — Rep. Alcee Hastings introduced what some claim is a disturbing piece of legislation. Hasting’s amendment calls for the Attorney General to have discretion over who is called a terrorist and what groups will be treated as terrorist groups.

“This is arguably one of the worst pieces of legislation to come down the pike in a long, long time. In essence Attorney General Eric Holder — a Bill Clinton retread — will have the discretion to label Americans terrorists. Hastings is a dangerous man and should be forced to resign from congress. He’s also proposed the creation of “emergency camps” that are nothing more than prisons,” warns political strategist Mike Baker.

“This amendment is part and parcel of the trend in this country to suppress dissent by patriots by calling them domestic terrorists,” he added.

In an unclassified report entitled “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and her agency included the following description of “extremists:”

“Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

Last Thursday, Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) made the following remarks on the House Floor regarding Congressman Alcee Hastings’ (D-FL) amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill:

“The Hastings Amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill (which now is being considered en bloc) prohibits the recruitment, enlistment, or retention of persons with known affiliations to “groups determined by the Attorney General to be of a violent, extremist nature.”

“Members on both sides of the aisle support the purpose of this amendment because we recognize that there are legitimate concerns about the enlistment of persons who may seek to use their military training to cause harm to innocents, but we should take pause to consider the breadth of this amendment carefully. I just want to express concern about the language of this amendment, and my concerns are shared by many in this House,” said Rep. Franks.

“While the amendment seeks to keep gang members and members of violent groups out of the military, the amendment by its language is much more broad. Specifically, it confers upon the Attorney General the ability to categorize groups as hate groups, and this sounds an alarm for many of us because of the recent shocking and offensive report released by the Department of Homeland Security which labeled, arguably, a majority of Americans as “extremists,” warned Franks.

“I take extreme offense that the federal government — through a report issued under the authority of a Cabinet-level official — would dare to categorize people who are “dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition or abortion or immigration” as “right-wing extremists” and it begs the question of whether the Attorney General, under Mr. Hastings’ Amendment, can look to the Napolitano report to decide who is an extremist, or can make the same categorization of the majority of Americans as extremists who may then be kept from joining the military, or who may be discharged,” said Rep. Franks.

“I want to state unequivocally that I believe that it is not the intent of this Congress to label pro-lifers, federalism proponents, and pro-immigration enforcement groups and their affiliates as extremists under the bill. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle should make a strong effort to assuage these concerns and make our intentions clear. If the intent of this amendment is to go after citizens because of their political views and moral convictions, then the amendment is unconstitutional. I hope that the sponsor of the Amendment will make clear tonight that this is not the intent,” he added.

Rep. Alcee Hastings also introduced what many say is another disturbing piece of legislation. That new bill calls for the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to build at least six facilities that can be designated as “emergency centers. Hastings rationale for such facilities is to gather and “house” civilians on what are basically detention centers guarded by armed soldiers or paramilitary troops.

The House bill (HR 645) — National Emergency Centers Establishment Act — is not even on the radar of members of the elite media. According to critics of the plan, if passed the government will create camps or centers that by their nature restrict the activities of US citizens herded into them.

In fact, one provision — Section 2 (b) (4) — states: “[To] meet other appropriate needs, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security.”

One critic, political strategist Mike Baker claims the idea of such detention center smacks of the type of concentration camps for political dissidents, such as occurred in Nazi Germany, Americans find repugnant.

“Why aren’t the news media covering this story? Could it be because they fear being the first occupants of these so-called emergency installations? Where is the outrage by our nation’s Fourth Estate?” asks Baker.

Hastings bill is suspected of attempting to help expand the President Obama’s military and law enforcement powers. While Hastings pushes this bill, even Republican congressmen are hesitant to remind one another and the nation that this Florida congressman was impeached while he sat on Florida’s federal court bench.

Appointed by President Jimmy Carter in 1979, he became the first African-American federal judge in the state of Florida, and served in that position for ten years. He’s still called “Judge” by some of his colleagues, but one would think he’d rather forget his days on the federal bench.

In 1989, Judge Hastings was impeached by the US House of Representatives for bribery and perjury. The Democratic-controlled Senate convicted Hastings of accepting a $150,000 bribe in 1981 in exchange for a lenient sentence and of perjury in his testimony about the case. Hastings said the charges against him smacked of racism.

Even Rep. John Conyers, who is also black, said he “found no trace of racism during the investigation.” He urged his colleagues to remove Hastings from the bench. He said, “[Hastings] is unfit to serve.”

When the ultra-liberal Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi nominated Hastings for the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee, even members of her own political party balked.

“The prospect of Rep. Alcee Hastings becoming the chairman of the House of Representative’s Intelligence Committee was proposed by Congressional Black Caucus, who had been pressuring the new House Speaker Pelosi to appoint blacks to key leadership positions and Hasting benefited from the pressure on the radical left Pelosi,” said former Detective Sidney Frances (NYPD-ret.), himself an African-American.

Source: NewsWithViews.com

In Israeli jail, McKinney expects more from Washington

In Israeli jail, McKinney expects more from Washington

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Former US lawmaker Cynthia McKinney, who is in an Israeli jail for trying to take humanitarian aid to Gaza, says the White House has done nothing to secure her release.

Speaking to Press TV from inside the Israeli jail, she said US taxpayers paid for Israel’s 22-day war on the Gaza Strip.

“Operation Cast Lead was made possible by the US taxpayers’ gift to the Israeli war machine in the form of F16s, helicopters gunship, white phosphorous, depleted uranium, cluster bombs and anything that kills,” she told Press TV from inside the Israeli jail on Saturday.

McKinney has been in Israeli custody since Tuesday when she and 20 other humanitarian activists were arrested by the Israeli Navy while trying to take humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip.

She also criticized US President Barack Obama and his special envoy for their policies in the region, saying she was seeking to do what “neither President Obama nor his special envoy has done and that is to visit Gaza in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead.”

McKinney along with her group refused to sign a document admitting they violated Israel’s blockade soon after they were taken to custody.

Family, friends and supporters say Cynthia McKinney believed she was in international waters and was free to pass.

“The Israelis hijacked us because we wanted to give crayons to the children of Gaza,” McKinney said.

They are due to appear in an Israeli court on Sunday.

US national debt stands at $11.4 trillion

US national debt stands at $11.4 trillion

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As the United States celebrates the Independence Day, the national debt continues to grow; the US government now owes $11.4 trillion, about $37,000 for each and every American.

The national debt was exactly $11,518,472,742,288 on Wednesday, said the Treasury Department that updates the number every few days.

Economists warned that the debt could become the next economic crisis without firm action from the Obama administration, the Associated Press reported.

The current situation is complicating efforts by President Barack Obama and Congress to cope with the worst recession in decades as stimulus and bailout spending combine with lower tax revenues to widen the gap.

The debt increased with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and economic stimulus spending under former President George W. Bush as well as President Obama.

To handle the crisis, Obama has vowed to cut the budget deficit roughly in half by the end of his first term. Deficit is the difference between government receipts and spending in a single budget year.

The budget deficit this year is estimated at about $1.85 trillion.

Although the US president remains personally popular, polls show there is public concern over his handling of the economy and the government’s growing spending.

Guard units train for militia attacks

Guard units train for militia attacks

By Silas Allen
Silas.w.allen@us.army.mil
Published: Tuesday, June 30, 2009 2:27 PM CDT

CAMP CROWDER, Mo. — It isn’t easy being an insurgent in Neosho, Mo.

The long hours. The blistering heat. And, of course, constantly having to come up with new ways of haassing the Missouri National Guardsmen training in the area.

Such was the case for several members of the headquarters detachment of the 229th Multifunctional Medical Battalion.

During the battalion’s annual training exercise, eight members of the Jefferson City-based unit, acting as a fictitious militant

group, attempted to disrupt the battalion’s operations through attacks and harassment. The battalion’s other two units, the Kansas City-based 205th Area Support Medical Company, and the Springfieldbased 206th Area Support Medical Company, fended off the attacks while performing their medical duties.

sGenerally, the “militants” came in groups of two to four, said Capt. Joseph Schmitz, a member of the insurgent group. Because the training exercise was geared more toward the units’ medical duties, the attacks were rarely intense, and the militants gave up easily.

“If they shot at us at all, we were pretty happy with that,” he said.

Simulating an insurgent group involves a fair amount of acting. During a late-night scenario, Schmitz played a local townsperson with a minor shoulder injury. While waiting to be treated, Schmitz addressed everyone who passed him as “GI,” and spoke in broken English — phrases such as “You want I help, GI?” and “I am not fighter.”

On the last evening of the exercise, the militants ramped up their attacks.

At around 7:30 p.m., the group drove two Humvees up to a checkpoint and opened fire, using paintball rifles. They also threw a smoke grenade, which was used to simulate an improvised explosive device. When the medical units’ security forces fired back, rather than retreating, the militants sped forward into the units’ compound. The security team responded with gunfire and simulated grenades.

Schmitz said the battalion decided to use paintball rifles for the exercise rather than a laser-based system because it does a better job of simulating certain aspects of real combat.

“It doesn’t simulate the injury,” he said, “but it simulates the randomness of it.”

Once the attack was over, the security team and the militant group came together for an after-action review. During the review, members of both sides discussed what had gone well and what needed improvement. Following the review, the militant group retired to its headquarters, a WWII-era bunker in a remote section of the camp. There, they reloaded rifles and smoke grenades and prepared for the next attack.

In a real combat situation, Schmitz said, medical units would most likely have other soldiers on hand, such as Military Police, to provide security for them. However, it’s important for the units to be working in scenarios that are as true to life as possible.

“We’re just here to make sure they have realistic training,” he said.

For more information about the Missouri National Guard, call 1-800-GoGuard or visit http://www.moguard.com.

Missouri National Guard Train to Kill “Militia Insurgents” in Exercise

Missouri National Guard Train to Kill “Militia Insurgents” in Exercise

Saturday, 04 July 2009 13:42 Kurt Nimmo

The Missouri National Guard is training to engage in combat with “militia” groups, according to the News Tribune.

“During the battalion’s annual training exercise, eight members of the Jefferson City-based unit, acting as a fictitious militant group, attempted to disrupt the battalion’s operations through attacks and harassment. The battalion’s other two units, the Kansas City-based 205th Area Support Medical Company, and the Springfieldbased 206th Area Support Medical Company, fended off the attacks while performing their medical duties,” the newspaper reported on June 30.

guard
National Guard training in Missouri and South Dakota prepares soldiers to confront and kill “insurgent” Americans.

The article was written by Silas Allen, a journalist with the Pentagon. In 2006, the Pentagon officially announced it would declare psychological warfare on the American people by planting propaganda in the corporate media and the Allen article is a less than covert part of this process.

An earlier article written by Silas Allen, also posted on the News Tribune website, details a Missouri National Guard unit practicing basic convoy operations during a training exercise in the Black Hills of South Dakota on June 14. During the exercise, an “insurgent group” with “a reputation for harassing convoys with ambushes and improvised explosive devices,” attacks the Guard convoy. “The unit was also told to look out for civilians trying to approach the convoy on the battlefield. The civilians could be working with the insurgent group or could simply have a legitimate complaint,” Allen writes.

The two exercises serve as prime examples of an orchestrated attempt by the government to train soldiers to militarily confront domestic “militia” groups.

In April, a leaked DHS report on “rightwing extremism” said “right-wing militias” will recruit veterans returning from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. “DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat,” the report claims. “These skills and knowledge have the potential to boost the capabilities of extremists — including lone wolves or small terrorist cells — to carry out violence.”

The corporate media hyped the supposed threat posed by “lone wolves” after white supremacist and probable government operative James von Brunn allegedly attacked the Holocaust museum in Washington. “The lone wolf is what concerns the Washington field office, what concerns the FBI the most,” John Perren, head of the counterterrorism branch at the FBI’s Washington field office, told the Associated Press.

After Von Brunn’s brutal attack, the corporate media shill and government disinfo operative Glenn Beck attempted to link 9/11 truth activists to the deranged accused killer. The corporate media has attempted to link truth activists and patriots to the Von Brunn incident and an earlier one in Pittsburgh.

A report produced by the Missouri State Police, entitled “The Modern Militia Movement,” specifically characterizes constitutionalists and Ron Paul supporters as domestic terrorists. “Red flags outlined in the document include political bumper stickers such as those for U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, talk of conspiracy theories such as the plan for a mega-highway from Canada to Mexico and possession of subversive literature,” the Missouri Information Analysis Center report states.

In April, the Maryland National Guard was put on alert in anticipation of Tea Party protests, thus revealing that the government considers constitutional activists to be “insurgents” and “militants.”

In March, the United States Army Reserve Command published a Force Protection Advisory recommending “situational awareness” and “mitigation measures” in response to End the Fed protests. On November 22, 2008, Alex Jones led a rally at the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas Texas. The Dallas protest is specifically mentioned in the official Army document. Ron Paul’s brother was also in attendance. The event was monitored by the Pentagon.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has recommended merging the National Guard into the “Total Force” of the U.S. military. “The recommendations that are so disturbing are those involving the assimilation the National Guard and Reserves into the regular US military, under control and management of the DoD,” writes Carolyn Harris.

The DoD currently trains its employees to regard protest as a form of domestic terrorism. “It has come to our attention that the Department of Defense’s Annual Level I Antiterrorism (AT) Training for 2009 misinforms Department of Defense (DoD) personnel that certain First Amendment-protected activity may amount to ‘low level terrorism,’” complained the ACLU last month.

The federalized National Guard has increasingly engaged in training exercises and drills designed to confront the American people. The exercises in Missouri and South Dakota reveal how the government is brainwashing troops to consider constitutionalists and patriots as “insurgents” who will attack military checkpoints and convoys.

In February, the National Guard conducted an “urban military” training mission in Arcadia, California. The Guard conducted a reconnaissance operation in the small town “to identify possible locations of the weapons dealer,” according to the Times Herald. The DHS, MIAC, the Virginia Fusion Center and others have characterized Second Amendment supporters and activists as potential terrorists.

National Guard troops in Ohio, New York, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Kentucky have deployed to conduct exercises against the American people, including taking over schools and jails and assuming police functions illegal under the Posse Comitatus Act. National Guard troops were used to control the public during the Boston Marathon, the Kentucky Derby, and during New Year celebrations in Times Square last year.

If you’d like to contact the Missouri National Guard about these training exercises aimed at patriots, constitutionalists, and supporters of the Second Amendment and the Constitution, call 1-800-GoGuard.

Source: Infowars