What Is Different About Ft. Carson, Colorado Soldiers?

What is really going on at Ft. Carson (formerly Camp Carson), or what is really happening in their PTSD treatment program for returning vets?  Recent history of returning vets from the terror war is a reoccurring story of out-of-control, brutal soldiers, who are ticking time-bombs,  with very little regard for human life.  Two of those stories are included below–the first story is of a Ft. Carson soldier who allegedly executed a Taliban leader in his custody in Afghanistan; the second story concerns 17 soldiers from Ft. Carson, who had been charged with murder or attempted murder.  Why is this problem so prevalent at this one base?  Could it have anything to do with the base mental health program for soldiers suspected of having post-traumatic stress disorder? 

The base houses a “Warrior Transition Battalion,” intended to treat soldiers, primarily by removing the “stigma” of  “combat fatigue,” as it used to be called, in the politically incorrect days of WWII and Korea.  The so-called “stigma” is the shame of “unmanliness” in the face of battle.

Definition of UNMANLY : not manly: as a : being of weak character : cowardly b : effeminate

REAL MEN do not have PTSD, just as they have no hesitation to kill for their country.  REAL MEN volunteer to be on the front lines–ALWAYS, or so the Top Hats at the Pentagon would have men believe.  
In WWII, as in Korea, Camp Carson was one of the primary facilities for treating shell-shocked vets, as well as soldiers deemed psychologically unfit for duty.  At first, the first urge among the generals was to imprison all apparently healthy men who refused to kill for their country, or failed to support the war effort.  This effort was a massive failure, leading the brass to choose psychological treatment to force recruits to reverse their unmanly ways.  
The “inadequate soldiers,” who missed the mark of “manliness” established by our bloodthirsty culture, were subjected to the equivalent of Soviet psychiatric gulags, in order to give them a new militarized outlook on life.  Then, as now, the most powerful tools available were used to “man-up” gold-bricking soldiers.  Judging by the testimony given by Jose Barco in the video accompanying the “Ft.  Carson Killing Spree” story below, the tendency today is to supply a different powerful behavioral control drug to each soldier, to counter every exhibited symptom.  “Jose Barco, is serving 52 years in jail for shooting and wounding a pregnant woman when he opened fire at a party in Colorado Springs,” while under the influence of various administered anti-depressants and all the street drugs he could find.  
We have no way of knowing what other “treatments” are being given to these suffering, returning vets, who are being “transitioned” to civilian life, but there are old Army records which document some of the treatments used in previous Camp Carson transitioning/reconditioning programs.  The following excerpt from an Army history document details the merciless treatments/torture used upon previous unmanly vets (they were used upon my own father, during the Korean War–  Human Nature Is the Enemy of the State):     
  “At the Camp Carson, Colo., Station Hospital, an unusually active psychological testing program was developed.12 Studies were performed on the underlying emotional problems of enuretics and patients with rheumatic fever; also, correlations were made between psychological tests and clinical diagnosis of illiterate personnel (including mental and educational deficiencies)…. “Under these conditions, shock therapy (mostly electroshock) was used freely for disturbed or agitated psychoses and depressions; subshock insulin treatment was employed in the more severe psychoneurotic reactions with encouraging results; psychotherapy under sedation called narcosynthesis, which had gained great popularity overseas in the treatment of combat neuroses, was resorted to in patients with residual symptoms of psychoneuroses incurred in combat and in cases of conversion hysteria.”

WARRIOR TRANSITION BATTALION MISSION:

Provide command and control, primary care and case management for Warriors in Transition to establish conditions for healing and promote the timely return to the force or transition to civilian life.

WARRIOR IN TRANSITION MISSION:

I am a Warrior in Transition. My job is to heal as I transition back to duty or continue serving the nation as a Veteran in my community. This is not a status, but a mission. I will succeed in this mission because.


Pfc. David Lawrence takes a break from an Article 32 hearing at Fort Carson in November. Lawrence, who was serving with the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division is accused of killing a Taliban commander while he was detained in a cell at an outpost north of Kandahar in Afghanistan. Lawrence was on guard duty at the time of the shooting.

Fort Carson soldier expected to plead guilty in death of Taliban prisoner

DAVID S. CLOUD
Tribune Co. Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — An Army private accused of killing a Taliban prisoner last year in Afghanistan has agreed to plead guilty, according to his attorney, even though several military psychiatrists concluded he was suffering severe mental illness at the time.

Pfc. David W. Lawrence is expected to receive a “substantially” reduced sentence for the killing of Mullah Mohebullah, a senior Taliban commander who was shot in the face last October while being guarded by Lawrence at a U.S. detention facility in Kandahar province, said James Culp, the defendant’s lawyer.

Lawrence had been charged with premeditated murder in military court. The plea deal will spare Lawrence from a possible life sentence without parole, the minimum punishment he faced if convicted on the charge under military law.

It will also shield the Army from the controversy over locking up a 20-year-old soldier for the rest of his life after its own doctors diagnosed him with schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress syndrome.

The killing sparked tensions between the U.S. and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who described it as an example of coalition forces’ frequent use of excessive force. Karzai threatened his own investigation. But the case also raised questions about whether the Army is being vigilant enough in screening troops for mental illness, especially in combat units.

The plea deal is expected to be accepted when court-martial proceedings convene at Fort Carson on Wednesday, the lawyer said. Lawrence is likely to serve his sentence at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Culp would not disclose the reduced sentence agreed to with Army authorities, saying it would be revealed in court. An Army spokesman declined to comment.

Lawrence’s mental state at the time of the shooting was a matter of intense debate throughout the seven-month case.

Culp said that his client’s mental condition deteriorated last summer within weeks of his arrival in Afghanistan after the chaplain and seven soldiers from his unit were killed in a bomb attack. Lawrence had formed a close bond with Chaplain Dale Goetz, the first Army chaplain killed in combat since Vietnam, he said,

Ten days after Goetz’s death, Lawrence requested to see a mental health therapist, complaining of depression and sleeplessness. He was pulled out of his unit in the Arghandab Valley and sent to a combat stress clinic at Kandahar air base, Culp said.

Mohebullah was killed a few weeks after Lawrence returned to his unit, the 1st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division.

In February, a board of Army psychiatrists concluded that Lawrence was “unable to appreciate the nature and quality or wrongfulness of his conduct” at the time of the killing. Even so, the board concluded Lawrence was capable of understanding why he was being prosecuted and was therefore fit to stand trial.

Culp planned to argue that Lawrence was not guilty by reason of insanity. But there was also evidence that Lawrence carefully planned the killing and weighed the risks.

Fort Carson soldiers’ killing spree after Iraq combat

By Dan Edge This World

Seventeen US soldiers from a Colorado military base who mostly served in Iraq have been linked to violent killings and attempted killings since their return to US soil. Three of them came from one platoon – highlighting how a generation of American soldiers are struggling to cope with life after military service.

“I was having a total mental breakdown. Every day we were getting in battles, and never having a break, it seemed like, it was just crazy.

Third Platoon Four members of the Third Platoon are now in prison after serving in Iraq

“I just got to where I couldn’t take it. I tried to go to mental health, and they put me on all kinds of meds, too. And I was still going out on missions… they tried different medications, different doses, and nothing worked.”

Kenny Eastridge was a decorated gunner, but is now serving 10 years in prison for his role in the murder of fellow soldier Kevin Shields in Colorado Springs.

In November 2007, Eastridge along with two other soldiers, Louis Bressler and Bruce Bastien, were out drinking in a nightclub with Mr Shields after returning from a rough combat tour in Baghdad.

Drunk and stoned, they drove off to find more alcohol. Minutes later, Specialist Kevin Shields lay dead, gunned down in a drunken argument, and left in a pool of blood by the side of the road.

Bressler and Bastien were sentenced to 60 years in prison for the murder and a string of other crimes in Colorado Springs.

Kevin Shields’ murder was not a unique case. At Fort Carson military base, 17 soldiers have been charged or convicted of murder, attempted murder or manslaughter in the past four years.

For over a year, This World has been tracking down the members of Third Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st battalion, 506th infantry, which later reflagged and became the 2nd batallion, 12th infantry regiment, trying to make some sense of the killings that have occurred since their return to the US.

The majority of Third Platoon served multiple combat tours with distinction and managed to adjust to life after Iraq. But a significant minority have not.

Four of the platoon have ended up in prison. Two are dead – one died from an overdose, another was killed by a suicide bomb.

In all, 15 out of 42 soldiers from Third Platoon left the army after a single Iraq tour. Four were kicked out for failing drug tests, and one was sent to prison for driving while drunk and fleeing the scene of an accident. Five were medically discharged. Only five left the army because their service had ended.

More than half of the platoon said they suffered from psychological problems after Iraq.

‘Trigger happy’

The platoon’s youngest member, Jose Barco, is serving 52 years in jail for shooting and wounding a pregnant woman when he opened fire at a party in Colorado Springs. He was convicted on two counts of attempted murder.

Barco said he became desensitised to death and killing during the vicious combat of the “surge” in 2007, when his battalion were tasked with driving al-Qaeda out of Baghdad.

Fort Carson soldiers’ killing spree after Iraq 

Jose Barco became desensitised to death and killing during the vicious combat of the Baghdad “surge”

It was Third Platoon’s job to move mutilated bodies every morning.

“It got to the point where it was like seeing a dead dog or a dead cat. If you’re not numb in those moments, you’re going to go crazy. I guess it just follows me,” he said from his prison cell.

As Third Platoon’s tour wore on, discipline deteriorated. Jose Barco said that for some soldiers, casual brutality became the norm, and that he routinely shot unarmed Iraqis.

“We were trigger happy. We’d open up on anything. They even didn’t have to be armed. We were keeping scores,” he said.

The US army investigated, but no soldier from Third Platoon has been charged with killing civilians in Iraq.

While in Iraq, Eastridge had exhibited signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), was taking anti-depressants and sleeping pills, but was also taking valium, smoking pot and drinking whisky.

He had a history of aggression, and been charged with assault before he went on his second tour, but he was still deployed.

He said Iraqi civilian deaths did not bother him at all: “You disassociate. To you they’re not even people, you know. Like, they’re not humans.”

Continue reading the main storyThird Platoon’s Iraq tours:• August 2004 – August 2005. Stationed in the desert in the heart of the Sunni triangle, they patrolled the main highway from Ramadi to Falluja drawing out insurgent attacks and dealing with 1000 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs)

• September 2006 – December 2007. Stationed near Al Dora, an al-Qaeda “hub” that became the site of al-Qaeda’s last stand in Baghdad. Main task was to try to secure neighbourhoods street by street, which were subject to widespread sectarian killings

The platoon’s first battalion commander Colonel David Clark, accepted that the price of “success” on the battlefield could take a psychological toll.

“It’s got to have an impact,” he said.

“Is that a reason not to do the surge? No. The surge worked. We needed to do the surge. War is a dangerous thing,” he added.

The number of Fort Carson soldiers failing drug tests rose by 3000% in the first three years of the Iraq war.

Ryan Krebbs, the platoon medic, admitted abusing medication in Iraq, stockpiling sleeping pills to calm himself down after missions.

He never forgave himself for the death of one of his sergeants, and eventually tried to kill himself with an overdose of prescription anti-psychotic drugs when he returned home.

“In the first six months you’re just happy to be home. And then after that… problems started.

Continue reading the main story“Start Quote

“The black box warning for these anti-depressants say that they can make people suicidal”

Dr Joseph Glenmullen Psychiatrist, Harvard Medical School

“Depression, anxiety, paranoia, getting the feeling that you’re in Iraq all over again.

“I just couldn’t take it anymore,” he said.

Before the Iraq war, American soldiers on psychiatric medications were not allowed to deploy to a combat zone.

But by the time of the surge, more than 20,000 US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq were taking anti-depressants and sleeping pills to cope with the stresses of combat.

The military has come under fire for medicating troubled soldiers rather than taking them away from the front line.

Dr Joseph Glenmullen warned that such medication could be dangerous in war.

“All of these anti-depressants now carry in recent years a black box warning.

“The black box warning for these anti-depressants say that they can make people suicidal and a variety of other side effects that include insomnia, anxiety, agitation, irritability, hostility, impulsivity and aggression, all of which obviously could become critical in a combat situation,” he said.

The vice-chief of the US army, General Peter Chiarelli defended the policy, but said that the army needed every soldier it could get.

“It’s a supply and demand problem,” he said.

US troops More than 20,000 US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq were taking anti-depressants and sleeping pills

“I cannot do anything about the demand, I only have a finite supply, and when the demand goes up, and orders are given, we provide the soldiers.”

Spurred by the public outrage, the army’s medical command last year conducted an investigation in to the violence.

It found that most of the soldiers had experienced unusually intense combat in Iraq, six of them had criminal records before they joined the military, 11 had a history of substance abuse and nine were taking psychiatric medications.

It concluded that the intensity of battle and shortcomings in mental health treatment may have converged with “negative outcomes” such as alcohol and drug abuse.

Last week the final American combat brigade pulled out of Iraq after more than seven years of war.

But for many soldiers, the end of combat operations is just the beginning of a different kind of struggle back home.

Yemen transition deal falls through – diplomats

Yemen transition deal falls through – diplomats

SANAA | Sun May 22, 2011 11:52am EDT

May 22 (Reuters) – Western and Gulf diplomats failed on Sunday to persuade Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to sign a deal that would ease him out of power and make him the third Arab leader ousted by popular protests, diplomats said.

“It failed,” one of the diplomats told Reuters. A Gulf diplomat said the Gulf Cooperation Council bloc of Yemen’s wealthy oil-exporting neighbours may withdraw its initiative as a result. (Reporting by Mohammed Ghobari and Mohamed Sudam; Writing by Cynthia Johnston)

Yemeni army helicopters took U.S. and other ambassadors out of a besieged embassy

[Saigon, anyone?  Metaphoric reference to Obama's impending total defeat in Middle East.]

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4151/4833102501_aed6a8099d.jpg

Ambassadors flown out of besieged Sanaa embassy

© 2011 The Associated Press
SANAA, Yemen — Witnesses say Yemeni army helicopters took U.S. and other ambassadors out of a besieged embassy to the presidential palace to witness ruling party leaders signing an agreement for the president to step down in 30 days.

However, state TV says President Ali Abdullah Saleh will not sign the deal unless opposition leaders are present.

The U.S., European and Arab ambassadors, who were pressing Saleh to sign the accord, were trapped for hours Sunday in an embassy by an armed mob of the president’s supporters. Eventually, Yemeni army helicopters ferried the diplomats out to the palace.

State TV then showed ruling party leaders signing the pact at the palace as Saleh and the U.S. ambassador stood behind them. Saleh himself did not sign.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

SANAA, Yemen (AP) — The U.S., European and Gulf Arab ambassadors were trapped inside a diplomatic mission Sunday by an armed mob angry over a deal for Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down after 32 years in power. Prospects that Saleh would sign the pact as promised were thrown into doubt.

Wielding knives, daggers and swords, hundreds of Saleh loyalists blocked the entrances to the United Arab Emirates Embassy, where at least five ambassadors were gathered in expectation the embattled leader would arrive to sign the deal.

“Everybody is worried. We can’t leave the embassy,” said a Saudi diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Pro-Saleh militiamen dressed in traditional Yemeni dress roamed the streets of the capital, especially outside embassies, and blocked the road to the presidential palace.

At one point, armed men attacked a convoy of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s chief mediator, secretary-general Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, to try to keep it from reaching the UAE Embassy, witnesses said. Pounding the car, they shouted against Gulf intervention in Yemeni affairs.

The convoy of the Chinese ambassador also came under attack by armed men before a police detail was deployed to clear the way and disperse the crowd.

Saleh has backed away from signing the U.S.-backed deal at least twice before, adding to the opposition’s deep mistrust of a leader known for adept political maneuvering that has kept him in power for decades. The deal, mediated by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, calls for Saleh to step down within 30 days and transfer power to his vice president. It also would give him immunity from prosecution.

Yemen’s opposition coalition signed the deal Saturday, based on what it said were guarantees the president would sign the next day. But a ruling party statement early Sunday said Saleh objected to signing “behind closed doors” and wanted a public event attended by the opposition.

An official in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, said the GCC would drop the proposal and withdraw from mediation if Saleh did not sign by the end of the day.

Even if Saleh goes ahead with signing, it was far from certain whether that would satisfy the many different groups protesting his rule in the streets.

Hundreds of thousands poured into a central square Sunday that has become the center of opposition protests, waving Yemeni flags and shouting rejection of the deal. They held banners that read: “Now, now Ali, down with the president!” and “Go out Ali!”

Women mingled with men, unlike in previous protests when female protesters stood on the edge of the square segregated from men, in keeping with Sharia law that mandates separation of the sexes. Children had their faces painted with Yemeni flags, while youths carried pictures of slain protesters. Young men and women held a 6-foot-long (2-meter) Yemeni flag.

The protesters say the deal falls short of their demands for Saleh’s immediate departure and the dismantling of his regime. They also reject any immunity for the Yemeni leader and say the opposition parties don’t speak for their demands.

“This initiative is only meant to save Ali not Yemen. We are going to continue our revolution until the end. Like Tunisia and Egypt, we will go against the opposition if they form a government while Saleh is still in power,” declared Tawakul Karman, a protest leader and senior member of the opposition Islamic fundamentalist Islah Party.

She said the protesters were escalating their push by calling a nationwide general strike.

On Saturday, Saleh condemned the proposed deal as “a coup” and warned the U.S. and Europe that his departure would open the door for al-Qaida to seize control of the fragile nation on the edge of Arabia.

In what appeared to be a state-orchestrated move to show a security void, dozens of pro-Saleh loyalists gathered in front of the Police Academy, where the ruling party general assembly had convened to discuss the deal. “We are coming under pressure, to reject the initiative,” said Mohammed Saad, a general assembly member.

Dozens of other supporters erected a big tent in one of Sanaa’s main streets, blocking traffic and raising banners that read: “Don’t go, don’t sign!”

Saleh has managed to cling to power despite near daily protests by tens of thousands of Yemenis fed up with corruption and poverty. Like other anti-government movements sweeping the Arab world, they took inspiration from the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

The president has swung between offering concessions, taking them back and executing a violent crackdown that has killed more than 150 people, according to the opposition, which says it compiled the tally from lists of the dead at hospitals around the nation.

The bloodshed triggered a wave of defections by ruling party members, lawmakers, Cabinet ministers and senior diplomats. Saleh’s own tribe has joined those demanding his ouster. Several top army commanders, including a longtime confidant who heads a powerful armored division, joined the opposition and deployed their tanks in the streets of Sanaa to protect the protesters.

Saleh has been able to survive thanks to the loyalty of Yemen’s most highly trained and best-equipped military units, which are led by close family members.

That has raised concerns the political crisis could turn into an armed clash between the rival military forces if a deal is further delayed.

Seeking to win some support in the West for his continued rule, Saleh has warned several times that without him, al-Qaida would take control of the country.

The United States, which had supported Saleh with financial aid and military equipment to fight the country’s dangerous al-Qaida branch, has backed away from the embattled leader.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has an estimated 300 fighters in Yemen and has been behind several nearly successful attacks on U.S. targets, including one in which they got a would-be suicide bomber on board a Detroit-bound flight in December 2009. The explosive device, sewn into his underwear, failed to detonate properly.

The proposed deal — first put forward in March by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — gives a clear timetable for a transfer of power.

One week after Saleh signs, the opposition takes leadership of a national unity government that will include representatives of Saleh’s party. Parliament will then pass a law granting him legal immunity and a day later — 30 days after the deal is signed — he is to step down and transfer power to his deputy.

A month after that, presidential elections are to be held.

___

Associated Press Writer Maggie Michael in Cairo contributed to this report.

Cable #178082: Extremist recruitment on the rise in southern Punjab

[With Saudi and UAE sources flooding $100 million/year into radical madrassas of the Deobandi and Al-Hadith faiths, in order to purchase young Pakistani boys as terrorist recruits from poor Berelvi families, it is no wonder that Pakistan has lost control of the jihadists in its midst.  If the US was serious about eradicating Islamic terrorism from the Middle East, it would now be waging war upon Saudi Arabia, instead of enlisting it to front an anti-Shiite coalition for war on Iran.  The fact that this admission is contained in a US State Dept. secret cable, proves beyond any doubt that our leaders have embraced Sunni terrorism as their primary weapon against Islam. 

It doesn't matter how many revelations such as these come out about American complicity in terrorism, if the rest of the governments of the world continue to meekly accept each new startling revelation, without creating an international stink over the whole mess. 

We are all screwed, as long as we are led by governments composed of cowards and thieves.]

Cable #178082: Extremist recruitment on the rise in southern Punjab

During recent trips to southern Punjab, Principal Officer was repeatedly told that a sophisticated jihadi recruitment network had been developed in the Multan, Bahawalpur, and Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions.

178082 11/13/2008 10:30:00 AM 08LAHORE302 Consulate Lahore SECRET//NOFORN ACTION SCA-00 INFO LOG-00 EEB-00 AID-00 AMAD-00 INL-00 DOEE-00 PERC-00 PDI-00 DS-00 DHSE-00 EUR-00 OIGO-00 FBIE-00 VCI-00 H-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 IO-00 LAB-01 MOFM-00 MOF-00 VCIE-00 NSAE-00 ISN-00 OMB-00 NIMA-00 GIWI-00 SCT-00 ISNE-00 DOHS-00 FMPC-00 SP-00 SSO-00 SS-00 NCTC-00 ASDS-00 CBP-00 R-00 SCRS-00 DSCC-00 PRM-00 DRL-00 NFAT-00 SAS-00 FA-00 SWCI-00 /001W ——————FA445D 131023Z /38 O 131030Z NOV 08FM AMCONSUL LAHORETO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3818INFO AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD IMMEDIATE AMCONSUL KARACHI PRIORITY AMCONSUL PESHAWAR PRIORITY AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI AMEMBASSY KABUL NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DCCIA WASHDCSECDEF WASHINGTON DCJOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DCCDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FLAMCONSUL LAHORE S E C R E T LAHORE 000302 NOFORN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/13/2018 TAGS: PTER, PGOV, KISL, PK

SUBJECT: (S/NF) EXTREMIST RECRUITMENT ON THE RISE IN SOUTHERN PUNJAB

Derived from: DSCG 05-1, B,D

1. (S/NF) Summary: During recent trips to southern Punjab, Principal Officer was repeatedly told that a sophisticated jihadi recruitment network had been developed in the Multan, Bahawalpur, and Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions. The network reportedly exploited worsening poverty in these areas of the province to recruit children into the divisions’ growing Deobandi and Ahl-eHadith madrassa network from which they were indoctrinated into jihadi philosophy, deployed to regional training/indoctrination centers, and ultimately sent to terrorist training camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Locals believed that charitable activities being carried out by Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith organizations, including Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the Al-Khidmat Foundation, and Jaish-e-Mohammad were further strengthening reliance on extremist groups and minimizing the importance of traditionally moderate Sufi religious leaders in these communities. Government and non-governmental sources claimed that financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in the region from “missionary” and “Islamic charitable” organizations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments. Locals repeatedly requested USG support for socio-economic development and the promotion of moderate religious leaders in the region as a direct counter to the growing extremist threat. End Summary.

2. (S/NF) During a recent visit to the southern Punjabi cities of Multan and Bahawalpur, Principal Officer’s discussions with religious, political, and civil society leaders were dominated by discussions of the perceived growing extremist threat in Seraiki and Baloch areas in southern and western Punjab. Interlocutors repeatedly stressed that recruitment activities by extremist religious organizations, particularly among young men between the ages of 8 and 15, had increased dramatically over the last year. Locals blamed the trend on a strengthening network of Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith mosques and madrassas, which they claimed had grown exponentially since late 2005. Such growth was repeatedly attributed to an influx of “Islamic charity” that originally reached Pakistani pseudo-religious organizations, such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa and the Al-Khidmat foundation, as relief for earthquake victims in Kashmir and the North West Frontier Province. Locals believe that a portion of these funds was siphoned to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in southern and western Punjab in order to expand these sects’ presence in a traditionally hostile, but potentially fruitful, recruiting ground. The initial success of establishing madrassas and mosques in these areas led to subsequent annual “donations” to these same clerics, originating in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The value of such donations was uncertain, although most interlocutors believed that it was in the region of $100 million annually.

3. (S/NF) According to local interlocutors, current recruitment activities generally exploit families with multiple children, particularly those facing severe financial difficulties in light of inflation, poor crop yields, and growing unemployment in both urban and rural areas in the southern and western Punjab. Oftentimes, these families are identified and initially approached/assisted by ostensibly “charitable” organizations including Jamaat-ud-Dawa (a front for designated foreign terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Tayyaba), the Al-Khidmat Foundation (linked to religious political party Jamaat-e-Islami), or Jaish-e-Mohammad (a charitable front for the designated foreign terrorist organization of the same name).

4. (S/NF) The local Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith maulana will generally be introduced to the family through these organizations. He will work to convince the parents that their poverty is a direct result of their family’s deviation from “the true path of Islam” through “idolatrous” worship at local Sufi shrines and/or with local Sufi Peers. The maulana suggests that the quickest way to return to “favor” would be to devote the lives of one or two of their sons to Islam. The maulana will offer to educate these children at his madrassa and to find them employment in the service of Islam. The concept of “martyrdom” is often discussed and the family is promised that if their sons are “martyred” both the sons and the family will attain “salvation” and the family will obtain God’s favor in this life, as well. An immediate cash payment is finally made to the parents to compensate the family for its “sacrifice” to Islam. Local sources claim that the current average rate is approximately Rps. 500,000 (approximately USD 6500) per son. A small number of Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in Dera Ghazi Khan district are reportedly recruiting daughters as well.

5. (S/NF) The path following recruitment depends upon the age of the child involved. Younger children (between 8 and 12) seem to be favored. These children are sent to a comparatively small, extremist Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith madrassa in southern or western Punjab generally several hours from their family home. Locals were uncertain as to the exact number of madrassas used for this initial indoctrination purpose, although they believed that with the recent expansion, they could number up to 200. These madrassas are generally in isolated areas and are kept small enough (under 100 students) so as not to draw significant attention. At these madrassas, children are denied contact with the outside world and taught sectarian extremism, hatred for non-Muslims, and anti-Western/anti-Pakistan government philosophy. Contact between students and families is forbidden, although the recruiting maulana periodically visits the families with reports full of praise for their sons’ progress. “Graduates” from these madrassas are either (1) employed as Deobandi/Ahl-e-Hadith clerics or madrassa teachers or (2) sent on to local indoctrination camps for jihad. Teachers at the madrassa appear to make the decision based on their read of the child’s willingness to engage in violence and acceptance of jihadi culture versus his utility as an effective proponent of Deobandi or Ahl-e-Hadith ideology/recruiter.

6. (S/NF) Children recruited at an older age and “graduates” chosen for jihad proceed to more sophisticated indoctrination camps focused on the need for violence and terrorism against the Pakistan government and the West. Locals identified three centers reportedly used for this purpose. The most prominent of these is a large complex that ostensibly has been built at Khitarjee (sp?). Locals placed this site in Bahawalpur District on the Sutlej River north of the village of Ahmedpur East at the border of the districts of Multan, Bahawalpur, and Lodhran. The second complex is a newly built “madrassa” on the outskirts of Bahawalpur city headed by a devotee of Jaish-e-Mohammad leader Maulana Masood Azhar identified only as Maulana Al-Hajii (NFI). The third complex is an Ahl-e-Hadith site on the outskirts of Dera Ghazi Khan city about which very limited information was available. Locals asserted that these sites were primarily used for indoctrination and very limited military/terrorist tactic training. They claimed that following several months of indoctrination at these centers youth were generally sent on to more established training camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and then on to jihad either in FATA, NWFP, or as suicide bombers in settled areas. Many worried that these youth would eventually return to try and impose their extremist version of Islam in the southern and western Punjab and/or to carry out operations in these areas.

7. (S/NF) Interlocutors repeatedly chastised the government for its failure to act decisively against indoctrination centers, extremist madrassas, or known prominent leaders such as Jaish-e-Mohammad’s Masood Azhar. One leading Sufi scholar and a Member of the Provincial Assembly informed Principal Officer that he had personally provided large amounts of information on the location of these centers, madrassas, and personalities to provincial and national leaders, as well as the local police. He was repeatedly told that “plans” to deal with the threat were being “evolved” but that direct confrontation was considered “too dangerous.” The Bahawalpur District Nazim told Principal Officer that he had repeatedly highlighted the growing threat to the provincial and federal governments but had received no support in dealing with it. He blamed politics, stating that unless he was willing to switch parties — he is currently with the Pakistan Muslim League — neither the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz provincial nor the Pakistan Peoples Party federal governments would take his requests seriously. The brother of the Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, and a noted Brailvi/Sufi scholar in his own right, Allama Qasmi blamed government intransigence on a culture that rewarded political deals with religious extremists. He stressed that even if political will could be found, the bureaucracy in the Religious Affairs, Education, and Defense Ministries remained dominated by Zia-ul-Haq appointees who favored the Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith religious philosophies. This bureaucracy, Qasmi claimed, had repeatedly blocked his brother’s efforts to push policy in a different direction.

8. (S/NF) Interlocutors repeatedly requested USG assistance for the southern and western Punjab, believing that an influx of western funds could counter the influence of Deobandi/Ahl-e-Hadith clerics. Principal Officer was repeatedly reminded that these religious philosophies were alien to the southern and western Punjab — which is the spiritual heartland of South Asia’s Sufi communities. Their increasing prominence was directly attributed to poverty and external funding. Locals believed that socio-economic development programs, particularly in education, agriculture, and employment generation, would have a direct, long-term impact in minimizing receptivity to extremist movements. Similarly, they pressed for immediate relief efforts — particularly food distribution and income support — to address communities’ immediate needs. Several interlocutors also encouraged direct USG support to Brailvi/Sufi religious institutions, arguing that these represented the logical antithesis to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith philosophy and that if adequately funded, they could stem the tide of converts away from their moderate beliefs.

Comment

9. (S/NF) A jihadi recruiting network relying on Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith religious, charitable, and educational institutions is increasing its work in impoverished districts of southern and western Punjab. Local economic conditions coupled with foreign financing appear to be transforming a traditionally moderate area of the country into a fertile recruiting ground for terrorist organizations. The provincial and federal governments, while fully aware of the problem, appear to fear direct confrontation with these extremist groups. Local governments lack the resources and federal/provincial support to deal with these organizations on their own. The moderate Brailvi/Sufi community is internally divided into followers of competing spiritual leaders and lacks the financial resources to act as an effective counterweight to well-funded and well-organized extremists.

10. (S/NF) Post believes that this growing recruitment network poses a direct threat to USG counter-terrorism and counter-extremism efforts in Pakistan. Intervention at this stage in the southern and western Punjab could still be useful to counter the prevailing trends favoring extremist organizations. USAID development resources in agriculture, economic growth, education, and infrastructure development are useful and necessary and will address some of the immediate needs. In post’s view short-term, quick impact programs are required which focus on: (1) immediate relief in the form of food aid and microcredit, (2) cash for work and community-based, quick-impact infrastructure development programs focusing on irrigation systems, schools, and other critical infrastructure, and (3) strategic communication programs designed to educate on the dangers of the terrorist recruiting networks and to support counter-terrorist, counter-extremist messages.

Saudi Arabia’s Neo-Islamist Reformers Threat to “Arab Spring” Movement

Saudi Arabia’s Neo-Islamist Reformers

Jamal Khashoggi


In the 1930s, when Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, asked the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdel-Aziz al-Saud, for permission to open a branch of his movement in the kingdom, the king rejected the request as unnecessary. “The entire kingdom is a branch for the Brotherhood, and all Saudis are Muslim brothers,” he replied. The king wanted to close the door firmly on any independent political activity, but he also spoke the truth. If the Brotherhood’s goal was to establish a Muslim state and a Muslim society, this already existed in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom itself was the product of a revivalist Islamic movement.

Even so, Islamic opposition movements have long operated in Saudi Arabia. Some, like the extremists who seized Mecca’s Grand Mosque in 1979, have used violence to oppose what they consider the Saudi state’s insufficiently Islamic character. Al-Qaeda and its local offshoots are a part of this violent tendency.

Nonviolent movements are another facet of the Saudi Islamic opposition landscape. The Muslim Brotherhood made its way into the kingdom in the 1970s through Egyptian and Syrian teachers. For the next two decades the Brotherhood was Saudi Arabia’s leading nonviolent Islamist group. It emphasized educational and spiritual activities and the plight of Muslims outside the kingdom’s borders. The Brotherhood’s appeal in Saudi Arabia seriously declined in 1990-1991, when its affiliates in other Arab countries hesitated to endorse military action to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation and to defend the kingdom against Iraqi aggression.

The erosion of the Brotherhood’s standing, combined with the unprecedented environment of criticism of the Saudi state that prevailed after the 1991 Gulf War, led to the emergence of a homegrown Islamic opposition in the form of Salafis. The Salafis are puritans who claim they only follow the practice and theology of the Prophet Mohammed’s followers in the early time of Islam. The Salafis distanced themselves from what they considered the Brotherhood’s liberal interpretation of Islam, but adopted its organizational structure. Salafis also criticized the Saudi leadership for domestic “wrongdoing” that in their view violated Islamic principles. In short, they demanded that the Saudi state reform to become more Islamic.

The appeal of the Salafi reformers’ message, along with their organizational strength (their followers have permeated the Education Ministry and the Islamic Affairs Ministry), earned them wide popularity, especially among the youth.

Throughout the 1990s, however, the Saudi leadership rejected their demands for reform, even imprisoning several of them. Since the kingdom’s founding, the state has won all confrontations with hard-line Islamic opposition forces, and enjoyed strong public backing in doing so. But since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and particularly since the May and November 2003 terrorist attacks in Riyadh, the Saudi leadership has felt vulnerable, and has thus become more receptive to some demands for reform.

As a result, it has included more than a dozen Salafis, along with other Islamists and liberals, in the National Dialogue, a soul-searching process on reform that began last fall. The Riyadh bombings have also emboldened progressive Islamists to blame Salafi doctrine and preaching for radicalizing some Saudi youth. Such criticism would have been too politically risky prior to the attacks.

In this new environment, splits within the Salafi movement on crucial theological and policy matters are becoming apparent. The Salafis have been unable to offer coherent positions on issues under discussion in the National Dialogue. These issues include the need to update laws and regulations, modernize the educational curriculum, expand women’s employment, adopt a more tolerant jurisprudence, open the doors of Saudi Arabia to the rest of the world, and comply with international law.

Recently some of the relatively more progressive Salafis, such as the writer Mansour Al-Nogaidan and the former judge Abdel-Aziz al-Qasim, along with Muslim Brotherhood figures and independent scholars, have come to represent a new “group,” the so-called neo-Islamists. They are distinguished by their receptivity to the forces of modernity. So far, the neo-Islamists are participating constructively in the National Dialogue. They use the Koran, the Sunna, and even Salafi jurisprudence to support their modernizing platform, which includes supporting civil society, introducing a more tolerant religious curriculum, codifying the Sharia, and holding elections for a parliamentary form of government.

Not only are the neo-Islamists’ reform ideas a dramatic departure from the Salafi opposition’s longstanding discourse, some of the neo-Islamists are, remarkably, more progressive than what senior officials themselves are willing to endorse. Crown Prince Abdullah, for instance, described the neo-Islamists’ recent proposal for a constitutional monarchy as a “leap in the dark.”

It is uncertain whether the neo-Islamists could ever manage to build the institutional networks and gain the popular support that have led the Salafis to dominate the Islamic opposition for so many years. But the fact that Saudi Islamists have even put forward such ideas illustrates the dynamism that Saudi Arabia, a deeply conservative country, is experiencing.

Jamal A. Khashoggi is media adviser to the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United Kingdom. Previously, he was the editor of the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan. This article is reprinted with permission from the Arab Reform Bulletin Volume 2, Issue 3 (March 2004) (c) 2004, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Pakistan wants China to build naval base at Gradar

Pakistan wants China to build naval base

By KAMRAN HAIDER  | REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan said on Saturday it wanted China to build it a naval base, in the latest sign of moves to strengthen ties with Beijing as relations with Washington falter.

The announcement from Pakistan’s defense minister came a day after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yosaf Raza Gilani returned from a four-day visit to China, Islamabad’s biggest arms supplier.

“We would be… grateful to the Chinese government if a naval base is… constructed at the site of Gwadar for Pakistan,” Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar said in a statement, referring to a deep-water port in Pakistan’s southwest.

The statement did not say whether Pakistan had asked China to build the base at the port in Balochistan province.

Islamabad is trying to deepen ties with Beijing as relations with the United States have come under strain following the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan this month.

Many in Washington have called for a review of billions of dollars of US aid to Pakistan after discovering Bin Laden had been hiding for years in a Pakistani garrison town.

China invested $200 million in the first phase of the construction of the port, which was inaugurated in 2007.

The development, 70 km east of the Iranian border and on the doorstep of Gulf shipping lanes, was designed to handle transshipment traffic for the Gulf.

Mukhtar said the Chinese government had agreed to take operational control of Gwadar port once a contract with Singapore’s PSA International Ltd. expired in around 35 years’ time.

During Gilani’s visit, Mukhtar said China had agreed to speed up the delivery of 50 multi-role combat JF-17 “Thunder” aircraft, each worth up to $25 million.

The close ties between China and Pakistan reflect long-standing shared wariness of their common neighbor India and a desire to hedge against US influence across the region.

Western “People Power” Weapon Turning On Its Masters

US and European envoys trapped in Yemen

A mob of armed loyalists to Yemen’s president are outside the UAE embassy, where the diplomats were meeting

Image: Anti-government protesters reach up to catch a youth

Hani Mohammed  /  AP

Anti-government protesters reach up to catch a youth after throwing him into the air during a demonstration demanding the resignation of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in Sanaa, Yemen, on May 21.
By AHMED AL-HAJ

SANAA, Yemen — A mob of armed loyalists of Ali Abdullah Saleh trapped the U.S., British, European and Gulf Arab ambassadors inside a diplomatic mission in the capital Sunday, protesting a deal for the embattled Yemeni president to step down after 32 years in power. Prospects that Saleh would sign the pact as promised were thrown into doubt.

Men wielding knives, daggers and swords were seen roaming the streets outside the United Arab Emirates Embassy, where the ambassadors were meeting ahead of the planned signing. “Everybody is worried. We can’t leave the embassy,” said a Saudi diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Saleh has backed away from signing the U.S.-backed deal at least twice before, adding to the opposition’s deep mistrust of a leader known for adept political maneuvering that has kept him in power for decades.

Yemen’s opposition coalition signed the deal Saturday, based on what it said were guarantees the president would sign the next day. But a ruling party statement early Sunday said Saleh objected to signing “behind closed doors” and wanted a public event attended by the opposition.

The deal, mediated by the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council, calls for Saleh to step down in 30 days and transfer power to his vice president. It also would give him immunity from prosecution.

Even if Saleh went ahead with the planned signing, it was far from certain whether that would satisfy the many different groups protesting his rule in the streets.

Hundreds of thousands poured into a central square Sunday that has become the center of opposition protests, waving Yemeni flags and shouting rejection of the deal. They held banners that read: “Now, now Ali, down with the president!” and “Go out Ali!”

The protesters say the deal falls short of their demands for Saleh’s immediate departure and the dismantling of his regime. They also reject any immunity for the Yemeni leader and say the opposition parties don’t speak for their demands.

On Sunday, women mingled with men, unlike in previous protests when female protesters stood on the edge of the square segregated from men, in keeping with Sharia law that mandates separation of the sexes. Children had their faces painted with Yemeni flags, while youths carried pictures of slain protesters. Young men and women held a 6-foot-long (2-meter) Yemeni flag.

“This initiative is only meant to save Ali not Yemen. We are going to continue our revolution until the end. Like Tunisia and Egypt, we will go against the opposition if they form a government while Saleh is still in power,” declared Tawakul Karman, a protest leader and senior member of the opposition Islamic fundamentalist Islah Party.

She said the protesters were escalating their push by calling a nationwide general strike.

On Saturday, Saleh condemned the proposed deal as “a coup” and warned the U.S. and Europe that his departure would open the door for al-Qaida to seize control of the fragile nation on the edge of Arabia.

In what appeared to be a state-orchestrated move to show a security void, pro-Saleh militiamen dressed in traditional Yemeni dress with daggers at their waists roamed the streets of the capital Sunday, especially outside embassies.

At one point, armed men attacked a convoy of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s chief mediator, secretary-general Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, to try to keep it from reaching the UAE Embassy, witnesses said. Pounding the car, they shouted against Gulf intervention in Yemeni affairs.

The convoy of the Chinese ambassador also came under attack by armed men before a police detail was deployed to clear the way and disperse the crowd.

Dozens of pro-Saleh loyalists also gathered in front of the Police Academy, where the ruling party general assembly had convened to discuss the deal. “We are coming under pressure, to reject the initiative,” said Mohammed Saad, a general assembly member.

Dozens of other supporters erected a big tent in one of Sanaa’s main streets, blocking traffic and raising banners that read: “Don’t go, don’t sign!”

Saleh has managed to cling to power despite near daily protests by tens of thousands of Yemenis fed up with corruption and poverty. Like other anti-government movements sweeping the Arab world, they took inspiration from the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

The president has swung between offering concessions, taking them back and executing a violent crackdown that has killed more than 150 people, according to the opposition, which says it compiled the tally from lists of the dead at hospitals around the nation.

The bloodshed triggered a wave of defections by ruling party members, lawmakers, Cabinet ministers and senior diplomats. Saleh’s own tribe has joined those demanding his ouster. Several top army commanders, including a longtime confidant who heads a powerful armored division, joined the opposition and deployed their tanks in the streets of Sanaa to protect the protesters.

Saleh has been able to survive thanks to the loyalty of Yemen’s most highly trained and best-equipped military units, which are led by close family members.

That has raised concerns the political crisis could turn into an armed clash between the rival military forces if a deal is further delayed.

Seeking to win some support in the West for his continued rule, Saleh has warned several times that without him, al-Qaida would take control of the country.

The United States, which had supported Saleh with financial aid and military equipment to fight the country’s dangerous al-Qaida branch, has backed away from the embattled leader.

Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has an estimated 300 fighters in Yemen and has been behind several nearly successful attacks on U.S. targets, including one in which they got a would-be suicide bomber on board a Detroit-bound flight in December 2009. The explosive device, sewn into his underwear, failed to detonate properly.

The proposed deal — first put forward in March by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — gives a clear timetable for a transfer of power.

One week after Saleh signs, the opposition takes leadership of a national unity government that will include representatives of Saleh’s party. Parliament will then pass a law granting him legal immunity and a day later — 30 days after the deal is signed — he is to step down and transfer power to his deputy.

A month after that, presidential elections are to be held.

___

Associated Press Writer Maggie Michael in Cairo contributed to this report.

Israeli rebuke of Obama exposes divide on Mideast

Israeli rebuke of Obama exposes divide on Mideast

US president Barack Obama listens to Israel's prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu during talks at the White House last week. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters
US president Barack Obama listens to Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu during talks at the White House last week. Photograph: Jim Young/Reuters
WASHINGTON: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bluntly told President Barack Obama on Friday his vision of how to achieve Middle East peace was unrealistic, exposing a deep divide that could doom any U.S. bid to revive peace talks.In an unusually sharp rebuke to Israel’s closest ally, Netanyahu insisted Israel would never pull back to its 1967 borders — which would mean big concessions of occupied land — that Obama had said should be the basis for negotiations on creating a Palestinian state.

“Peace based on illusions will crash eventually on the rocks of Middle East reality,” an unsmiling Netanyahu said as Obama listened intently beside him in the Oval Office after they met for talks.

Netanyahu insisted that Israel was willing to make compromises for peace, but made clear he had major differences with Washington over how to advance the long-stalled peace process.

Netanyahu’s resistance raises the question of how hard Obama will push for concessions he is unlikely to get, and whether the vision the U.S. leader laid out on Thursday to resolve the decades-old conflict will ever get off the ground.

Despite assurances of friendship by both leaders, this week’s events also appeared to herald tense months ahead for U.S.-Israeli relations, even as the Arab world goes through political tumult and Palestinians prepare a unilateral bid this fall to seek U.N. General Assembly recognition for statehood.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Obama said he reiterated to Netanyahu the peace “principles” he offered on Thursday in a policy speech on the Middle East upheaval.

The goal, he said, “has to be a secure Israeli state, a Jewish state, living side by side in peace and security with a contiguous, functioning and effective Palestinian state.

Obama on Thursday embraced a long-sought goal by the Palestinians: that the state they seek in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip should largely be drawn along lines that existed before the 1967 war in which Israel captured those territories and East Jerusalem.

Netanyahu, who heads a right-leaning coalition, responded with what amounted to a history lecture about the vulnerability to attack that Israel faced with the old borders. “We can’t go back to those indefensible lines,” he said.

Picking a fight with Israel could be politically risky for Obama at home as he seeks re-election in 2012.

CRISIS IN RELATIONS

The brewing crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations dimmed even further the prospect for resuming peace talks that collapsed late last year when Palestinians walked away in a dispute over Israeli settlement building in the West Bank.

Obama and Netanyahu, meanwhile, appear to have reached an impasse after two and a half years of rocky relations. The Obama White House was angered when Netanyahu refused a U.S. demand to halt building Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Some Israelis have never felt entirely comfortable with Obama, unnerved by his early attempts to reach out to Iran and his support for popular Arab revolutions that have unsettled Israel.

In a pointed comment clearly aimed at Obama’s new approach to the long-running conflict, Netanyahu said: “The only peace that will endure is one that is based on reality, on unshakable facts.”

Netanyahu, Israeli officials said, was determined to push back hard because the reference to 1967 borders was a red flag that would attract more international pressure on Israel for concessions. A senior Israeli official said Netanyahu felt he had to speak bluntly so he would be “heard around the world.”

“There is a feeling that Washington does not understand the reality, doesn’t understand what we face,” an official on board the plane taking Netanyahu to Washington told reporters.

Despite that, Obama’s first declaration of his stance on the contested issue of borders could help ease doubts in the Arab world about his commitment to acting as an even-handed broker and boost his outreach to the region. Another failed peace effort, however, could fuel further frustration.

In line with Netanyahu’s stance, Obama voiced opposition to the Palestinian plan to seek U.N. recognition of statehood in September in the absence of renewed peace talks.

The Democratic president has quickly come under fire from Republican critics, who accuse him of betraying Israel, the closest U.S. ally in the region. Pushing Netanyahu could alienate U.S. supporters of Israel as Obama seeks re-election.

Obama may get a chilly reception in a speech to an influential pro-Israel lobbying group on Sunday. Netanyahu is expected to be feted when he addresses the same audience on Monday and then the U.S. Congress on Tuesday.

MARKERS FOR COMPROMISE

Obama, in his speech on Thursday, laid down his clearest markers yet on the compromises he believes Israel and the Palestinians must make to resolve a conflict that has long been seen as a source of Middle East tension.

But he did not present a formal U.S. peace plan or any timetable for a deal he once promised to clinch by September.

In Thursday’s speech, Obama said: “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps” of land. While this has long been the private view in Washington, Obama went further than U.S. officials have in the recent past.

Agreed swaps would allow Israel to keep settlements in the West Bank in return for giving the Palestinians other land.

Going into the talks, Netanyahu said he wanted to hear Obama reaffirming commitments made to Israel in 2004 by then-President George W. Bush suggesting that it may keep some large settlement blocs as part of any peace pact.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Friday that Obama had said nothing that “contradicts those letters.”

Obama on Thursday also delivered a message to the Palestinians that they would have to answer “some very difficult questions” about a reconciliation deal with Hamas, the Islamist group that runs Gaza and which the United States regards as a terrorist group.

Saudi Arabia, UAE financing extremism in south Punjab–$100 million per year

Saudi Arabia, UAE financing extremism in south Punjab

By Qurat ul ain Siddiqui

madrassah


A boy reads verses of the Quran, while studying in a madrassah, January 11, 2011. — Photo by AP/File

KARACHI: A US official in a cable sent to the State Department stated that “financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith clerics in south Punjab from organisations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.”

The cable sent in November 2008 by Bryan Hunt, the then Principal Officer at the US Consulate in Lahore, was based on information from discussions with local government and non-governmental sources during his trips to the cities of Multan and Bahawalpur.

Quoting local interlocutors, Hunt attempts to explain how the “sophisticated jihadi recruitment network” operated in a region dominated by the Barelvi sect, which, according to the cable, made south Punjab “traditionally hostile” to Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith schools of thought.

Hunt refers to a “network of Deobandi and Ahl-i-Hadith mosques and madrassahs” being strengthened through an influx of “charity” which originally reached organisations “such as Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Al-Khidmat foundation”. Portions of these funds would then be given away to clerics “in order to expand these sects’ presence” in a relatively inhospitable yet “potentially fruitful recruiting ground”.

Outlining the process of recruitment for militancy, the cable describes how “families with multiple children” and “severe financial difficulties” were generally being exploited for recruitment purposes. Families first approached by “ostensibly ‘charitable’” organisations would later be introduced to a “local Deobandi or Ahl-i-Hadith maulana” who would offer to educate the children at his madrassah and “find them employment in the service of Islam”. “Martyrdom” was also “often discussed”, with a final cash payment to the parents. “Local sources claim that the current average rate is approximately Rs 500,000 (approximately USD 6,500) per son,” the cable states.

Children recruited would be given age-specific indoctrination and would eventually be trained according to the madrassah teachers’ assessment of their inclination “to engage in violence and acceptance of jihadi culture” versus their value as promoters of Deobandi or Ahl-i-Hadith sects or recruiters, the cable states.

Recruits “chosen for jihad” would then be taken to “more sophisticated indoctrination camps”. “Locals identified three centres reportedly used for this purpose”. Two of the centres were stated to be in the Bahawalpur district, whereas one was reported as situated “on the outskirts of Dera Ghazi Khan city”. These centres “were primarily used for indoctrination”, after which “youths were generally sent on to more established training camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and then on to jihad either in FATA, NWFP, or as suicide bombers in settled areas”.

The cable goes on to quote local officials criticising the PML-N-led provincial and the PPP-led federal governments for their “failure to act” against “extremist madrassas, or known prominent leaders such as Jaish-i-Mohammad’s Masood Azhar”. The Bahawalpur district nazim at the time told Hunt that despite repeatedly highlighting the threat posed by extremist groups and indoctrination centres to the provincial and federal governments, he had received “no support” in dealing with the issue unless he was ready to change his political loyalties. The nazim, who at the time was with the PML-Q, “blamed politics, stating that unless he was willing to switch parties…neither the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz provincial nor the Pakistan People’s Party federal governments would take his requests seriously”.

Cable referenced: WikiLeaks # 178082.

178082: Extremist recruitment on the rise in southern Punjab

1. (S/NF) Summary: During recent trips to southern Punjab, Principal Officer was repeatedly told that a sophisticated jihadi recruitment network had been developed in the Multan, Bahawalpur, and Dera Ghazi Khan Divisions. The network reportedly exploited worsening poverty in these areas of the province to recruit children into the divisions’ growing Deobandi and Ahl-eHadith madrassa network from which they were indoctrinated into jihadi philosophy, deployed to regional training/indoctrination centers, and ultimately sent to terrorist training camps in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Locals believed that charitable activities being carried out by Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith organizations, including Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the Al-Khidmat Foundation, and Jaish-e-Mohammad were further strengthening reliance on extremist groups and minimizing the importance of traditionally moderate Sufi religious leaders in these communities. Government and non-governmental sources claimed that financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in the region from “missionary” and “Islamic charitable” organizations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments. Locals repeatedly requested USG support for socio-economic development and the promotion of moderate religious leaders in the region as a direct counter to the growing extremist threat.

Must change the ruling bargains in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan

Must change the ruling bargains in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan

By Thomas Friedman
Contra Costa Times Perspective Online
People attend a pro-Pakistan army rally organized by Pakistan Peace Party near the Parliament in Islamabad, Pakistan on Thursday, May 12, 2011. Pakistan army and its spying wing Inter Services Intelligence, ISI, facing serious criticism from media and public after killing of Osama bin Laden by a helicopter-borne U.S. military force on last week, in a fortress-like compound on the outskirts of Pakistani city of Abbottabad. (AP Photo/B.K.Bangash)

So Osama bin Laden was living in a specially built villa in Pakistan. I wonder where he got the money to buy it? Cashed in his Saudi 401(k)? A Pakistani subprime mortgage, perhaps? No. I suspect we will find that it all came from the same place most of al-Qaida’s funds come from: some combination of private Saudi donations spent under the watchful eye of the Pakistani army.

Why should we care? Because this is the heart of the matter; that’s why. It was both just and strategically vital that we killed bin Laden, who inspired 9/11. I just wish it were as easy to eliminate the two bad bargains that really made that attack possible, funded it and provided the key plotters and foot soldiers who carried it out. We are talking about the ruling bargains in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, which are alive and well.

The Saudi ruling bargain is an old partnership between the al-Saud tribe and the Wahhabi religious sect. The al-Saud tribe get to stay in power and live however they want behind their palace walls, and, in return, the followers of the Wahhabi sect get to control the country’s religious mores, mosques and education system.

The Wahhabis bless the Saudi regime with legitimacy in the absence of any elections, and the regime blesses them with money and a free hand on religion. The only downside is that this system ensures a steady supply of “sitting around guys” — young Saudi males who have nothing other than religious education and no skillsto compete — who then get recruited to become 9/11-style hijackers and suicide bombers in Iraq.

No one explains it better than the Saudi writer Mai Yamani, author of “Cradle of Islam” and the daughter of Saudi Arabia’s former oil minister. “Despite the decade of the West’s war on terror, and Saudi Arabia’s longer-term alliance with the United States, the kingdom’s Wahhabi religious establishment has continued to bankroll Islamic extremist ideologies around the world,” wrote Yamani in The Daily Star of Beirut, Lebanon, this week.

“Bin Laden, born, raised and educated in Saudi Arabia, is a product of this pervasive ideology,” Yamani added. “He was no religious innovator; he was a product of Wahhabism, and later was exported by the Wahhabi regime as a jihadist. During the 1980s, Saudi Arabia spent some $75 billion for the propagation of Wahhabism, funding schools, mosques, and charities throughout the Islamic world, from Pakistan to Afghanistan, Yemen, Algeria and beyond. … Not surprisingly, the creation of a transnational Islamic political movement, boosted by thousands of underground jihadist websites, has blown back into the kingdom. Like the hijackers of 9/11, who were also Saudi-Wahhabi ideological exports, Saudi Arabia’s reserve army of potential terrorists remains, because the Wahhabi factory of fanatical ideas remains intact. So the real battle has not been with bin Laden, but with that Saudi state-supported ideology factory.”

Ditto Pakistan. The Pakistani ruling bargain is set by the Pakistani army and says: We let you civilians pretend to rule, but we will actually call all the key shots, we will consume nearly 25 percent of the state budget and we will justify all of this as necessary for Pakistan to confront its real security challenge: India and its occupation of Kashmir. Looking for bin Laden became a side-business for Pakistan’s military to generate U.S. aid.

As the al-Qaida expert Lawrence Wright observed in The New Yorker this week: Pakistan’s army and intelligence service “were in the looking-for-bin-Laden business, and if they found him they’d be out of business.” Since 9/11, Wright added, “the U.S. had given $11 billion to Pakistan, the bulk of it in military aid, much of which was misappropriated to buy weapons to defend against India.”

President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan plays the same game. He’s in the looking-for-stability-in-Afghanistan-business. And as long as we keep paying him, he’ll keep looking.

What both countries need is shock therapy. For Pakistan, that would mean America’s converting the lion’s share of its military aid to K-12 education programs, while also reducing the U.S. footprint in Afghanistan. Together, the message would be that we’re ready to help Pakistan fight its real enemies and ours — ignorance, illiteracy, corrupt elites and religious obscurantism — but we have no interest in being dupes for the nonsense that Pakistan is threatened by India and therefore needs “strategic depth” in Afghanistan and allies among the Taliban.

Ditto Saudi Arabia. We are in a menage a trois with the al-Sauds and the Wahhabis. We provide the al-Sauds security, and they provide us oil. The Wahhabis provide the al-Sauds with legitimacy and the al-Sauds provide them with money (from us). It works really well for the al-Sauds, but not too well for us. The only way out is a new U.S. energy policy, which neither party is proposing.

Hence, my conclusion: We are surely safer with bin Laden dead, but no one will be safe — certainly not the many moderate Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who deserve a decent future — without different ruling bargains in Islamabad and Riyadh.

Thomas Friedman is a syndicated columnist who writes for the New York Times.

Palestinians pledge to stick to UN statehood plan, despite promised US veto

Palestinians pledge to stick to UN statehood plan

(AFP)

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories — The Palestinians will keep up their campaign to win UN endorsement for a unilaterally declared state despite US opposition, a senior Palestinian official has said.

“Now that (Israeli Prime Minister) Benjamin Netanyahu has proved that he rejects the peace process, there is no doubt that we shall continue with the strategic objective of turning to the United Nations in September,” Nabil Shaath, a senior member of the Fatah movement, told AFP late on Saturday.

Shaath, a former minister, said that the goal of the Palestinians is to win recognition by the world body of their promised state “in the 1967 borders,” referring to the lines that existed before that year’s Six Day War.

That would mean a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including Israeli-annexed Arab east Jerusalem.

On Wednesday, an official of the Fatah-dominated Palestine Liberation Organisation, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said that Israel would have to choose between negotiating on that basis or facing UN recognition of a state on the same lines.

In a keynote policy speech in Washington on Thursday, US President Barack Obama called for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines but said the Palestinian bid for UN recognition would not bring them sovereignty.

Shortly before flying to Washington for talks with Obama, Netanyahu issued a scathing rejection of the 1967 frontiers as “indefensible.”

He demanded that Obama reaffirm then-president George W. Bush’s 2004 promise that the borders of a future Palestinian state would have to recognise the mushrooming of Israeli settlements.

An aide to Palestinian president and Fatah head Mahmud Abbas described Netanyahu’s position as “an official rejection of Mr. Obama’s initiative, of international legitimacy and of international law.

Pinning Iran To Al-CIA-da, To Bin Laden, To 911

[Once again, another case has been laid-out, implicating Iran in our terror war.  When the opportune moment to attack arrives, will Obama have the balls to do what Bush couldn't seem to finish?  That question seems impossible to answer now, until we first explain why Bush pulled back, at the last moment, denying Israel the regional war for its security that had been promoted for so long.  What stopped Bush from sending in the B-52s, to bomb Hezbollah out of their bunkers in south Lebanon, or giving the IDF the needed bunker-busters and access to Iraqi airfields (or at least overflight rights)?  Was it the fear of not being able to contain the war, or had Bush's Zionist credentials begin to fade away?  More than likely, Bush had nothing to do with the decision, but his Daddy's good friends probably did.  Someone got cold feet.  Which motivation will win-out in the upcoming contest being set-up by Obama's boys--cold feet over losing control, or the boiling hot economic waters that we are all rapidly drowning in?  This will be the last roll of the dice, America's "last hurrah," strong incentive to make you forget about cold feet.]

Court Filings Assert Iran Had Link to 9/11 Attacks

By  and 

Two defectors from Iran’s intelligence service have testified that Iranian officials had “foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks,” according to a court filing Thursday in a federal lawsuit in Manhattan that seeks damages for Iran’s “direct support for, and sponsorship of, the most deadly act of terrorism in American history.”

Hussein Malla/Associated Press

Imad Mugniyah, the Hezbollah leader killed in 2008, also was accused of a role in 9/11.

One of the defectors also claimed that Iran was involved in planning the attacks, the filing said. The defectors’ identities and testimony were not revealed in the filing but were being submitted to a judge under seal, said lawyers who brought the original suit against Iran on behalf of families of dozens of 9/11 victims.

The suit’s allegation that Iran had foreknowledge of the attacks is hard to assess fully, given that the defectors’ testimony is being filed under seal.

The suit contends that Iran and Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant organization with close ties to Tehran, helped Al Qaeda in planning the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, and in facilitating the hijackers’ training and travel. After the attacks, the suit contends, Iran and Hezbollah helped Qaeda operatives escape, providing some with a safe haven in Iran.

The question of an Iranian connection to 9/11 was raised by the national 9/11 commission and has long been debated. Al Qaeda, which adheres to a radical Sunni theology, routinely denounces the Shiite sect that holds power in Iran, and the terrorist network’s branch in Iraq has often made Shiites targets of bombings. But intelligence officials have long believed there has been limited, wary cooperation between Al Qaeda and Iran against the United States as a common enemy.

The lawsuit also names as defendants Iranian officials and ministries, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda, among others. The families’ lawyers have asked for a default judgment against the defendants, which have not mounted a defense. Even if there were such a judgment, legal experts say it would not be easy to collect monetary damages.

In their court papers, the lawyers assert that Imad Mugniyah, as the military chief of Hezbollah, was a terrorist agent for Iran, and that he traveled to Saudi Arabia in 2000 to help with preparations for the 9/11 attacks.

Mr. Mugniyah, who was killed in 2008, had been accused by American officials of planning a series of major terrorist attacks and kidnappings, including the 1983 bombings of the United States Embassy and Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon.

The 9/11 commission report said there was “strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of Al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers.” The report also said there was circumstantial evidence that senior Hezbollah operatives were closely tracking the travel of some of the hijackers into Iran in November 2000.

But the commission said that it had “found no evidence that Iran or Hezbollah was aware of the planning for what later became the 9/11 attack,” and that the “topic requires further investigation by the U.S. government.”

Thomas E. Mellon Jr., a lawyer for the families, said the suit, first brought in Washington in 2002 and later moved to Manhattan, sought to do that investigation.

Ellen Saracini, whose husband, the United Airlines pilot Victor J. Saracini, was killed when his plane was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center, said she became involved with the suit because she wanted answers. “We now know,” she said, “who assisted Al Qaeda — Iran did — and we want our American justice system to find Iran accountable.”

The lawyers’ filing included reports of 10 specialists on Iran and terrorism, including former 9/11 commission staff members and ex-C.I.A. officers. “These experts make it clear that 9/11 depended upon Iranian assistance to Al Qaeda in acquiring clean passports and visas to enter the United States,” Mr. Mellon said.

But the expert reports do not in most cases seem to go as far as the defectors in contending Iran had foreknowledge of the attacks.

The filing says the defectors worked in Iran’s Ministry of Information and Security “in positions that gave them access to sensitive information regarding Iran’s state sponsorship of terrorism.” It says they have reason to fear for the safety of themselves and their families “should their identities and the content of their testimony be revealed publicly.”

Benjamin Weiser reported from New York, and Scott Shane from Washington.

Bahrain’s Brutal Equation

Bahrain’s Brutal Equation

“Well, what would happen if this revolution doesn’t work? I think we are going to be destroyed with all means. I think they are going to target [us] one by one…whoever spoke against [the regime] will be targeted in the future. I believe it’s all about win or die.” – Sayed Ahmed Al-Wedaei

Ali Jawad

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – Since razing the Pearl monument in mid-March, the Bahraini ruling regime has launched a sweeping crackdown on protesters who took to the streets to voice their anger against the Al-Khalifa family and its oppressive mores. In the last few weeks, the situation on the ground has spiraled out of control and descended into a blatant and barren form of brutality, with the regime’s security and military apparatus crossing all humane boundaries. The institution of martial law has taken the meaning of a sacrosanct endorsement for one and all forms of transgression – even women and minors haven’t been spared in this state-sponsored violence spree. Whilst the attention of global media has been fixated on the Libyan stalemate, the Al-Khalifa regime has viciously suppressed the popular protests that began on 14th February.

Medical personnel have been systematically targeted and the injured deprived from receiving medical attention; midnight raids have become a norm with masked men forcing themselves into homes and carrying out multiple crimes; journalists and human rights activists have been silenced and threatened with government reprisal; Shi’a villages, dissenting or otherwise, have been cordoned off by military checkpoints where a policy of humiliation and intimidation is rife; political figures and critics of the regime have been bungled off to unknown dungeons; the long known [1] but always concealed practice of torture has reeked out of the royal dungeons, with at least five confirmed deaths recorded in custody [2]; those who dared to venture out of their homes and partake in protests now find themselves booted out of their jobs, and plastered as traitors. The above description provides a fractional insight into the horrific state of affairs that has come to envelop Bahrain in recent weeks.

That such brazen and inhumane conduct escapes media attention and fails to raise international uproar says a great deal about the vast ground that we – collectively as human beings – must yet cover in order to sever the interests of power and its many unremitting obstacles that stand in the way of a truly universal human discourse. If it were only a case of neglect, perhaps it would not be so disheartening. The fact of the matter, however, is that the Bahraini uprising and its central demands have knowingly been adulterated by the leading rogue state, the United States, its numerous minions and a media infrastructure that has proven itself to be only too willing to assiduously toe the Empire’s line. The Al-Khalifa regime’s bloody transgressions have been put down to inexperience – a viewpoint aired by top EU advisor Robert Cooper – as if the lives of innocents were a matter of sport or chance.

The Obama administration has come to be distinguished by its seemingly limitless aptitude to summon vague, meaningless clichés. Although a comprehensive critique of this approach is beyond these pages, it is nonetheless clear that letting loose a rosary of flowery words is no permanent remedy to the Empire’s chronic penchant for propping dictators and tyrants. Multiple million-dollar arm deals and a political PR campaign, headed by the US Secretary of State, that is underpinned by the ipso factocriminalization of one single state in the region has led to an unholy alliance between the primary imperial power and the last bastions of medieval tyrannical monarchies.

After the sights of jubilation witnessed on the streets of Tunis and in Tahrir Square, it is quite easy to overlook the utter desperation that propelled the wave of uprisings that has taken grip across the Middle East. When Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight on December 17th in Sidi Bouzid, he was exposing through a most desperate act the systemic violence that leaked through every institution connected to the central state, and he was also giving expression to the daunting helplessness experienced by thousands – if not millions – like him across the Arab world.

In Tunisia, the pervasive nepotism of the ruling family was documented in Wikileaks cables. The caustic nature of the familial rule gave rise to overwhelming frustrations with citizens lamenting that Tunisia was no longer a police state but had instead “become a state run by the mafia”. A similar situation could be observed under the Mubaraks in Egypt. Needless to state, both regimes were strongly supported to their last breaths by the US and leading western nations despite such damning profiles.

In the case of Bahrain, the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the state fall squarely within the purview of the ruling Al-Khalifa family. The extensive constitutional powers granted to the King include “the power to dissolve the parliament, impose martial law, alter the constitution, veto laws passed by the National Assembly, along with the power of appointment and removal of ministers and judges”. [3] In addition to these sweeping powers, the Majlis Al-Shura – entirely comprised of royally elected members – is provided with significant legislative capacities; notably, its president enjoys “a casting vote in the event of deadlock” in the bicameral system. [4] The cabinet similarly consists of royally appointed members, with almost half of its 24 members belonging to the royal Al-Khalifa family.

The controversial figure of the Prime Minister and his almost ubiquitous stamp over all aspects of Bahraini politics is yet another illustration of the Al-Khalifa’s absolute control. During his more than 40-year uncontested reign as PM, Khalifa bin Salman has become an object of hate for an overwhelming majority of Bahrainis, and is widely viewed as the man behind the state’s repeated repressive crackdowns on opposition protests. Indeed, one of the major demands aired by protesters shortly after the chilling raid on the Pearl Roundabout in the early hours of 17th February was an unmistakable call for the removal of the PM. According to the 2008 FRIDE report on Bahrain, the PM’s orbit of influence is said to encompass the “courts, the security forces and the economy”. It continues to underline that this influence is greatly owed to “his control of the Economic Development Board”. Less than a month after protests first began, the “One Dinar Protest” was organized outside the Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH) after Al-Wefaq’s head, Sheikh Ali Salman, presented a purchase agreement which showed the PM’s procurement of the multi-million dollar real estate for 1 Dinar (approximately $2.6 USD). [5] It is hard not to draw parallels between the endemic corruption of the Ben Alis and the Mubaraks with such instances of blatant plundering of national wealth.

At the judicial level, the King “continues to chair the Higher Judicial Council, appoints judges by decree and many members of the judiciary are members of the al-Khalifa family”. As a result of this level of blunt intervention in the judiciary system, the courts have assumed paradoxical and discernable politicized stances vis-à-vis crucial topics in Bahraini politics such as sectarianism. For instance, the judiciary has often passed anti-sectarianism legislation to censor newspapers and websites, whilst clandestine initiatives by the government – such as the one highlighted in the Bandar report – give currency to explicit sectarian agendas, including the promotion of anti-Shi’a material in the press. Such sinister plots enacted in coordination with judicial processes have together served to restrict public freedoms whilst also stoking sectarian tensions.

When Mohamad Bouazizi set himself on fire, he did so with full knowledge that the entire edifice of the state was firmly in the clasp of a tiny elite. He was confronted by a system that was putrefied to its core. Justice and due process were mere words that had no more than nominal value in an infested political system. In Bahrain, protesters are confronted by a ruling family which not only plays the role of judge, jury, prosecutor and hangman simultaneously, but also possesses overwhelming control over the socio-economic shape of the state. This level of absolute control over the functions of the state has emboldened the royal family to the extent that it has acquired the audacity to embark on the so-called Bahrainisation program, i.e. the political naturalization of foreigners with views to alter the demographic balance of the island state.

Bahrain’s systemic violence – evinced by an invidious kleptocratic form of rule, absolute monopoly over the branches of authority, a discriminatory royal patronage system, crushing levels of corruption, growing unemployment and steadily declining standards of living – leaves little room for any serious observer to extricate the Bahraini uprising from the wider regional uprisings. The sectarian aspect of the crisis in Bahrain is incidental, and serves to obscure the extent of the abuse of power and authority by the Al-Khalifa family. Through the sectarian card, the ruling family stratifies its citizenry by pitching the nation’s woes in religious terms.

A further insult to the recent Bahraini uprising is achieved by an almost perfect political sleight of hand – or the “great deception” – by the Al-Khalifa regime. In the sparse and heavily de-contextualized coverage by the news media, the underlying motives for the popular protests are almost entirely glossed over. Instead, focus is laid on a fictitious “Iranian threat”. In addition to playing into the sectarian narrative, the so-called “Iranian threat” also takes out the possibility of any violent reaction by protesters. Unlike in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya, any attempts by Bahraini protesters to express their discontent through any quasi-violent means (such as torching government buildings, for example) would immediately be classified as a foreign act of sabotage orchestrated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, thus meriting an intensification of the violent crackdown – no doubt with added western political support dovetailed with an even greater volume of yellow journalism.

When Sayed Ahmed Al-Wedaie professed his deepest fears about the possibility of a failed uprising, he did so with full knowledge of the nature of the Al-Khalifa regime. His fate like many other Bahrainis is today unknown after his detention at the hands of state authorities. The resort to violence and the despicable level of fear-mongering and intimidation that the state has stooped to in recent weeks is far from shocking. Rather, it is merely the logical progression for a kleptocratic ruling system that has monopolized power, systematically suffocated the public space and civil society, and exploited religious sensitivities to obscure the corrosive nepotism that now pervades across the entire state structure.

International silence has sustained the brutal equation now unfolding in Bahrain. The increased number of corpses with visible signs of torture dumped in neighborhoods over the last two weeks, and the growing number of detainees – including leading social and political figures – clearly suggests that the Al-Khalifa family is not about to settle for a political solution. In simpler words, the ruling family is not willing to entertain the thought of relinquishing some of its absolute monopoly over power. The hypocrisy of the United States in this regard is as clear as day. Having airlifted tens of thousands of troops from the other side of the world into Iraq less than a decade ago under belated pretexts of democracy-promotion, its Fifth Fleet already docked on the shores of Bahrain is now apparently ignorant of any conception of human rights and popular rule.

References:

[1] Torture Redux: The Revival of Physical Coercion during Interrogations in Bahrain, Human Rights Watch, 08 February 2010

[2] Suspicious Deaths in Custody, Human Rights Watch, 13 April 2011

[3] Bahrain: Reaching a Threshold, FRIDE, June 2008

[4] Fixing the Kingdom: Political Evolution and Socio-Economic Challenges in Bahrain, CIRS, 2008

[5] Bahrain: The One Dinar Protest, Global Voices Online, 07 March 2011

Bahrain’s Kristallnacht and America’s Complicity

By Matthew Mainen – 05/10/11 11:28 AM ET

Over the weekend it was revealed that Bahrain’s government quietly destroyed at least 30 Shia mosques, setting many Qurans ablaze in the process. Bahrain’s Kristallnacht, a night in which the Nazis destroyed numerous synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses, was met with no meaningful US condemnation.

In contrast, when Florida Pastor Terry Jones initially threatened to burn the Quran, President Obama condemnedJones, directly involving his administration. Obama understood that the US would be viewed by Muslims worldwide as complicit. What he fails to realize now, however, is that his reticence on Bahrain creates the same perception.

While Bahrain is a small, Iraq and Iran, the only other Mideast Shia majority states, closely follow the ongoing developments, which provide Iran with the perfect propaganda tool for alleging a US-Saudi conspiracy against Shias.

Backed by this, even modest Iranian incitement threatens Iraq’s fragile Sunni-Shia relations. A shift in Iraqi protests against Bahrain to generalized retaliation against Sunnis could have devastating consequences. The 2006 bombing of the Shia al-Askari mosque sparked a civil conflict leaving at least 100,000 dead.

Even if Iran cannot manipulate Iraqis, the perception of a war on Shias can allow its guiding Lebanese proxy Hezbollah in targeting Sunnis, fueling a renewed civil war already threatened by Hezbollah if implicated in former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination.

And then there’s Syria. Given the dim implications of Iran’s closest ally falling, nothing would benefit Iran more than religious justification for intervening on behalf of Syria’s Shia-led (Alawite) government if abandoned by the Sunni-majority military.

While the US’ tacitly green-lighting Bahrain’s crackdown will have long term consequences, potentially turning a once democratic movement towards extremism as it comes to view Iran as a potential savior, direct Iranian involvement in Syria will shatter the current regional status quo to the detriment of the US and allies.

If popular calls for Arab democracy do not motivate Obama in taking a more active approach, the prospects of unprecedented regional instability should. Bahrain believes, and it has every indication, that it has a free hand. Unfortunately, by banking on the US’ hands-off approach, so does Iran.

Instead of addressing the boiling matter, Obama continues focusing on the great diversion of despotic Arab regimes, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While the establishment of a Palestinian state is important, it will neither bridge a reemerged Sunni-Shia rift nor move a single authoritarian Arab regime in initiating true democratic reform.

Worse, greater Iranian involvement in Israel’s neighbors will heighten Israeli security concerns so that a Palestinian state is viewed as unacceptable while encouraging the Palestinians in using the security threat to hold out for a better deal.

Combating the prospects of regional instability requires bold US action. First, the US should send a clear message by harshly condemning Bahrain’s Kristallnact and indefinitely recalling Ambassador Ereli, a former human rights activist.

Second it must demand the release of leading Bahraini human rights activists and opposition figures such as Abdulhadi al-Khawaja and Abduljalil al-Singace. While a meeting between Ambassador Ereli and Bahrain’s interior minister led to the release of 312 detainees, no leading members of the opposition were released.

Third, the US must pressure Bahrain into allowing the monitoring of hospitals, where doctors and recovering protesters are abducted, by Red Crescent observers.

Finally, a substantial national dialogue is needed between the monarchy and all parts of the opposition.

One might object that US security is dependent on good relations with Bahrain. After all, it’s home to the Navy’s Fifth Fleet.

Current policy, however, precariously assumes the al-Khalifa monarchy’s continued rule. The Iranian Revolution demonstrates such an assumption’s shortsightedness. Moreover, Bahrain’s absolute security dependence on the US will prevent any meaningful retaliation. This applies to all Gulf States because without the US, they’re incapable of containing Iran.

When Saudi King Abdullah called President Obama and chided him for turning his back on Mubarak, Obama opted for diplomacy. It is now time he reassert US dominance in Gulf relations to avoid an Iranian propaganda victory with dangerous consequences. This requires taking a stern position on Bahrain.

Matthew Mainen is a policy analyst at the Institute for Gulf Affairs.

Sindh Police Looking To Implicate Iranian Loyalists for Saudi Hit

Police Trying to Involve Shia’s in Assassination of Saudi Diplomat

Police trying to involve Shia’s in assassination of Saudi diplomat, special report of Shiite News
The Sindh Police hatched a well-planned conspiracy to put the blame of the target killing of Saudi diplomat in Karachi on Shia Muslims of the metropolis, The Shiite News learnt on Wednesday.
Police Trying to Involve Shia’s in Assassination of Saudi Diplomat

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – The Inspector General Sindh Police Fayyaz Leghari has directed the CID Police Sindh Officers to immediately start a crackdown against the Shia Muslims of the metropolis and arrest the active members of the Community to fix them on the target killing of Saudi diplomat Hassan M al Kahtani, who was assassinated by the terrorists on broad daylight.

Fayyaz Leghari told Police officers that the Mehdi Forces (A paper organization of Sindh Police) was involved in the assassination of Saudi diplomat in Karachi and the attack of crackers on the consulate of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to release the mounting pressure of the Saudi government for the arrest of the culprits involved in the killing of Saudi diplomat.

Despite the fact that the Taliban claims the responsibility of the attack on Saudi diplomat in Karachi. The biased officers of Sindh Police was trying to put the blame of the assassination of Saudi diplomat on Shia Muslims as they claimed that the deployments of Saudi forces in Bahrain have angered Shiite Pakistanis, with protests nationwide condemning the Saudi involvement and they might carried out the attack on Saudi diplomat.

It’s the fact that Shiites were angry on the crackdown of Saudi forces in Bahrain on the peaceful Shiite Protestors and also angry about reports on newspaper ads to recruit hundreds of former soldiers to work for the Bahrain security forces and help with the crackdown on protestors.

But this was the history of the Shia community of the country that the community has not been carried out offense against the diplomats including the protest demonstration outside the Bahraini or Saudi consulates.

Conversely, The outlawed organization associated with Al-Qaeeda and Taliban including Jamaat-ud-Dawa , Jaesh-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Jhnagvi  and Sipah-e-Sahaba were involved in the assassination of American, British and Iranian diplomats and the attacks on diplomatic missions in Pakistan.

Though, the Police officials have obtained the CCTV footages from the Saudi consulate and the building around the consulate, which will expose the miscreants.

But the Police officials of Sindh police without any evidences are trying to put the blame of the assassination of Saudi diplomat on Shia Muslims on their assumptions. The police and agencies were using their sponsored media outlets and published the biased news against the Shia Muslims over their involvement in Saudi diplomat killing.

The Washington Post quoted a senior police official in Karachi said investigators were trying to determine whether militants related to al-Qaeda, which opposes the Saudi regime, had carried out the attack to avenge the killing of the Saudi-born bin Laden.

But the official said the assassination of the diplomat, which came two days after hand grenades were lobbed at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Karachi, might also have been carried out by Shiites angry that the kingdom had sent troops to Bahrain to suppress Shiite protests there.

Shia leaders expressed their concerns over the conspiracy of the Sindh Police and warned the government about the stern reaction over the fake allegations against the Shia Muslims.

It may be noted here that the CID police in Karachi has arrested a Shia Man Muntazir Mehdi from the Madina Tul Ilm Mosque GUlshan-e-Iqbal on Tuesday and try to involve him in the Saudi diplomat killing.

Exporting American Values: Military Tribunal in Bahrain Sentences Civilians to Death

Exporting American Values: Military Tribunal in Bahrain Sentences Civilians to Death

Posted Thursday, April 28, 2011 11:43 AM | By Tom Scocca

The United States-friendly government of Bahrain moved on to a new phase of its effort to crush dissent today, sentencing four civilians to death in a closed trial before a military tribunal. The defendants were accused of having run over two police officers with a car during anti-government protests in March.

In the course of those protests and their aftermath, dozens of protesters were killed, hundreds have been arrested, and hundreds of other members of the country’s Shiite majority were purged from their jobs. Wounded protesters were taken from the hospitalinto military custody. Even the monument at the center of the protest site was razed.

Bahrain remains a valued American ally in the Middle East, hosting the navy’s Fifth Fleet. The Bahraini military is armed with American-made weapons, as are the Saudi armed forces that arrived in the country to help the monarchy impose martial law.

And now Bahrain, which had never tried civilians in military court before, is apparently borrowing America’s post-9/11 legal practices. Time magazine reported:

“We have this legal black hole where no one knows what their rights are, what their access is, and they’re really at the mercy of the regime,” says Shadi Hamid, director of research at Brookings Doha Institute. “Essentially, legal protection is suspended — this is a part of martial law. Almost anything can be justified under the pretense of ‘national security.'”

(According to the New York Times, lawyers representing detainees in American custody at Guantanamo Bay are not allowed to discuss or share the Wikileaks documents that deal with their clients, because they are bound to treat the material as classified even as it circulates among the general public. National security.)

Meanwhile, according to the Guardian, seven Bahraini students who protested outside their country’s embassy in London have been suspended from flying school:

The trainees’ lessons at the Gatwick-based Oxford Aviation Academy (OAA) were cancelled after a request by the Bahraini authorities, who have told them to return home immediately and face questioning. Some told the Guardian they would stay in the UK, fearing arrest and torture if they went home.

[...]

The students’ training was arranged through the Gulf Aviation Academy in Bahrain, which is ultimately controlled by the crown prince, Salman Bin Hamad al-Khalifa, whose government is accused of killing dozens of pro-democracy protesters. The order to suspend the seven came from the GAA but it gave no reason.

Earlier this week, British prime minister David Cameron suggested it was possible that his country would consider sending arms to the anti-government rebels in Libya, despite a U.N. arms embargo. His foreign secretary, William Hague, reportedly told members of Parliament, “In certain circumstances, it is legal under the UN resolution to supply equipment to protect civilian life.”