The Indian/Russian Mach 3 Carrier-Killer Missile

Russia's 'Shipwreck' missile yahont2 Brahmos2 

Granit……………………………..Yakhont…………………………..Brahmos

INDIAN SUPERSONIC MISSILE BRAHMOS’ ADVANTAGES

China and Pakistan should pay attention to India’s newest anti-ship missile, the BrahMos. It is an anti-ship missile with a 660-pound warhead. It has a highly sophisticated ramjet engine, which speeds a three-ton missile to its target at Mach-3 speed.
In its initial flight trajectory it hugs the sea, making it impossible for jet fighters, anti-missile systems and rapid firing guns to stop it. In its terminal phase, it rises up to the sky and then drops on its prey like a giant harpoon. The missile’s high speed causes extensive damage to a ship on impact and the 660 pounds of explosives it carries cause the rest of the damage.
It can also be described as a sea-denial missile – denying an enemy access to the sea it defends.
The missile, originally called the Yakhont, was designed by the Soviets to kill U.S. aircraft carriers 200 miles away. In 1991 the United States expressed concern about its development and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, a U.S. friend at the time, shelved the project. This turned out to be India’s gain.
India took over the development work in 1998, agreeing to spend over US$250 million on the project. The Russian missile engine was married to an Indian guidance system in a 50:50 partnership, thus giving it the unique name of BrahMos, after India’s Brahmaputra River and Russia’s Moskva River.

The Chinese asked the Russians for similar collaboration on a similar missile system, but were flatly turned down. Instead the Russians equipped Chinese destroyers with Moskit class sea-skimming ramjet missiles. These are very capable missiles with a range of 90 to 150 kilometers. But these could neither be launched from aircraft nor have land-to-land use.
India expects about US$10 billion in orders for these missiles. The production line is gearing up to make 1,000 of these in various versions over the next ten years. If an additional export order for 1,000 more missiles is obtained the production line will have to be significantly expanded. Right now there no export orders – that will limit production to about 50-100 missiles a year.
A comparable missile in the U.S. inventory is the Tomahawk cruise missile, which has an extended range and larger explosive payload than others. But it is a subsonic missile, and thus can fall prey to fighter jets or anti-air or anti-missile system.
Collaboration between the Russians and Indians has produced a marvelous weapon. Future collaboration between the two nations is in the cards, in developing a fifth-generation fighter jet, a new tank design, etc. This is helpful to both countries. The Russians can defray the development costs and India gets a sophisticated weapon. Barring a few hiccups this collaboration will continue.

India has no intention of killing U.S. aircraft carriers, hence its development and operation were not questioned by the United States. On the other hand, a Chinese naval flotilla approaching the Indian Ocean on an aggressive mission would be fair game for this missile.
The same is true of any aggressive moves by the Pakistani Navy. The latter has always envisioned attacking India’s offshore oil and gas fields close to Mumbai, and repeating the Muslim destruction of India’s Somnath Temple on the Gujarat coast, 900 years back.
The version of the BrahMos that went into operation in 2005 is the naval version only. Another version, which can be carried by an aircraft or used in land-to-land combat, is still under development and should be operational in about three years.
Collaboration on the missile’s development was not easy. In 1998 the Russians were strictly following the guidelines of the Missile Technology Control Regime and would not export any missile technology beyond the 300-kilometer (186-mile) range. It also would not give India any help in building a sophisticated guidance system.

Hence this missile has a limited range of 290 kilometers (180 miles) and has an Indian guidance system. All testing and development since 1998 have been carried out in India, with the Russians as a 50-percent partner.
Beginning in 2002 when the missile first flew, it surprised most observers. Few thought that Russian-Indian collaboration could be successful and produce a weapon of that sophistication. Now it is a reality. Some Indian Navy ships are already equipped with it. Soon the air and land version will join the Indian forces, making them highly potent.
This technology acquisition and development was so important for India that the military went out of its way not to draw international attention. Technology transfer arrangements were such that no MTCR guidelines were broken.
Also in India’s neighborhood, Pakistan has acquired U.S. Harpoon and French Exocet missiles, and China has been buying Russian Sovremenny-class destroyers – hence India had to do something unique to put both China and Pakistan on the defensive. It appears that India has now achieved that task.
Although the missile is so successful, India was expecting other nations to order it. But no export orders have been received so far, despite an intense sales pitch over the last three years. None of the potential customers wishes to kill U.S. or other nations’ aircraft carriers; hence they do not need such a powerful weapon. Also, at US$2.5 million apiece the price is a bit steep. The original requirement of 1,000 missiles for the Indian and Russian navies still stands.

The future of this missile in Indian hands is very bright. It will permanently keep the Chinese navy out of the Indian Ocean. Closer to home, the belligerent Pakistan is unmindful of these developments. Their Harpoon missile inventory is very capable, but is subsonic and has a very limited range. The BrahMos, carried on ships and planes, can be fired from 200 miles away and hit its target with pinpoint accuracy.
The scramjet-powered BrahMos-2 will again be developed with Russian collaboration. That is the only way India will lay its hands on scramjet technology. The irony is that the MTCR will prevent its range from exceeding 300 kilometers.
This development work will take three years and will involve 20 Russian and Indian institutes and industrial units to finish the job. The only thing known about this newer missile, the BrahMos-2, is that it will fly at about Mach-5 to Mach-7 speed and will beat any known anti aircraft or anti-missile defense system.

It’s a new cruise missile called the Brahmos. And it’s what reportedly has Pakistan’s defence planners scurrying to develop a land attack cruise missile, possibly a modified Harpoon missile acquired from the US in the 80s and 90s.
Brahmos combines the names of two rivers: the Brahmaputra and the Mosocow. It symbolises the close partnership that exists between India and Russia.
Here’s why the Brahmos is considered the world’s finest. It can fly at speeds of up to Mach 3, three times the speed of sound. It can destroy ships and targets on land. It can be launched from the air, submarines and onboard ships.
The Brahmos will be deployed on the Sukhoi 30 MKI, the mainstay of the Indian Air Force. The Sukhoi’s ability to fly thousands of kilometres after being re-fuelled in-air means that the Brahmos can be used to strike targets across large parts of South Asia.
"It is the fastest and most precise cruise-missile in the world," affirms Pravin Pathak, Additional GM BrahMos Aerospace.
Today, with Russian assistance, and missiles like the Brahmos, the Indian Navy’s frontline ships are fitted with the fastest and possibly most lethal anti-ship weapons ever developed

America Is Losing In Afghanistan, Yet It Plans To Remain

The return of “Taliban”: Afghanistan is waiting for America is preparing, the CSTO is watching

Maria Yanovskaya

The commander of the Afghan National Army camp on the outskirts of Kabul Mohed (Dar Yasin / Associated Press)

Last week in Moscow, held a regular meeting of the Club World Economics and International Affairs entitled “The situation in Afghanistan and the fate of Central Asia” , which were made by a special presidential envoy to AfghanistanZamir Kabulov and CSTO Secretary General Nikolai Bordyuzha . The discussion was attended by leading Russian experts on the region. It was chaired by the chief editor of the magazine “Russia in Global Affairs” Fyodor Lukyanov.

At the meeting discussed the impact of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, the possibility of the situation in the region after 2014, when suddenly the U.S. and the Joint Security Force (RSD), as promised, will withdraw its troops from the country. As the discussion proceeded according to the rules, “Chatham House” (direct quote is only possible with the personal approval of the speaker), the “Fergana” offers readers a summary of the main ideas voiced during the meeting.

America is losing – and remains

The main paradox, formulated by experts on the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is: “America has lost the war, but it is not going away.” America today requires, first, to minimize loss, and secondly, to gain a foothold in the region to be able to participate in various regional conflicts and to influence regional politics.

In favor of the argument that the United States, contrary to the statement of Obama’s not going to leave Afghanistan, says “the scope and depth of military construction, which is taking America in the IRA: there is information that the U.S. is building a huge underground military bases with a developed infrastructure.” For example, south of Kandahar, built an underground base at 4,000 troops, with two runways.

According to the speakers, the U.S. has no single idea of what to do in Afghanistan, and as a result – there is no clear tactics.Russian experts explain this contradiction between the security agencies of the United States and the lack of interdepartmental coordination. “They (Americans) are, like, everyone knows – but the conclusions do not.”

Founders Club of the global economy and world politics are the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy (SWAP) and the Department of World Economy and World Politics NIU “Higher School of Economics.” Club meetings traditionally are informal and are conducted according to the rules, “Chatham House”: a direct quote is only possible with the personal approval of the speaker.

The Taliban will come back to power?

In Afghanistan, there is little doubt that the “Taliban” will soon come again in power.

The Taliban benefit information, propaganda war. Local people no longer see the American soldiers “liberating” the Afghans from the high expectations entering the U.S. forces gave way to disappointment during the foreign presence in Afghanistan has developed a terrible corruption. Whereas previously the level of corruption was “acceptable”, but now officials are anticipating a quick emigration (after the Taliban came to power), and bid up prices.

Today, only the Bamyan is relatively peaceful province – are in all other military operations. The Taliban are quite strong and begin a military campaign, which is confined to a suspended term of the withdrawal of foreign troops in 2014.

According to various estimates, the Taliban militants 35,000 professional and small detachments of the so-called “seasonal army,” consisting of representatives from local tribes. These forces are opposed to 90 thousand U.S. Army and just over 50 thousand soldiers of the coalition.

Still there is a proper Afghan army – it’s 126 battalions, of which their own conduct combat operations, the most optimistic projections, may 20-22 Battalion. But the most dangerous – in the Afghan army has no fighting spirit, she can not resist the “Taliban”: soldiers do not believe they are fighting with the Taliban “in Afghanistan.”

Initially, the U.S. and its allies had the idea of increasing the number of Afghan army and police to 350,000 people, but for the maintenance of so many security forces need $ 8 billion a year. And today is the question of who will pay for the army and police? It was then decided to reduce the number to 250 thousand people – it’s $ 4 billion is anticipated that $ 2 billion would give the U.S. another 500 million gain the Afghans themselves, and to collect the remaining money will have to “let the hat.”For example, from Russia waiting for 10 million dollars a year for ten years.

By the way, Russia agree to pay the money – but Moscow insists that it was not a direct donation, and cooperation with Afghanistan on a bilateral basis. And then, perhaps, the IRA will be given and more than ten million.

Taliban outperform Americans in guerrilla warfare – and Russian experts are wondering why the U.S. can not conduct effective antiguerrilla event.

Americans also allow the probability of return of the Taliban into power. The desire to stay in Afghanistan pushes them to negotiate with the Taliban. The Taliban, in turn, is also interested in the negotiations: they need for the international community, and the U.S. in the first place, to help Afghanistan and upon their return to Kabul. And so the leaders of the “Taliban” is now making statements that should remove the external concerns: for example, the Taliban said that during the previous government had made mistakes, which are not repeated, that the “Taliban” is not seeking to expand in Central Asia, his interests confined to the Afghanistan.

Russian experts are inclined to believe that the Taliban can not be – all of these promises can be broken if he wins the Taliban: “The winners are not judged, they can change their vows.” In addition, the management of “Taliban” today, in principle, can not guarantee anything: among the Taliban came, “thugs”, “jihadists with a twisted mind, who do not need anything – just to fight.”Nevertheless, Russia is ready to negotiate with appropriate representatives of the “Taliban”.

Slipping non-military projects

Failures have comprehended and two “non-lethal” project and the U.S. allies in Afghanistan: the fight against drug production and the process of national reconciliation.

During the year the area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan increased by 7 percent and the price of opium has increased by 43 percent. This jump in prices was buried all the ideas to combat drug production: while in Afghanistan there is nothing that would attract people more than the cultivation of opium poppy.

Drug production “feeds” and “Taliban”: 70 percent of the budget going to the Taliban inside Afghanistan. First of all, this “tax” that pays the “Taliban” drug trafficking. Second, the Taliban are paying tribute to local businesses, and thirdly, NATO members also pay a “Taliban” for the safety of transportation: No truck or tank truck, which had not paid the Taliban and still safely reached the destination.

Stalled and the process of interethnic reconciliation, which should be based economic and social development. But all the money coming from international donors, go to military spending.

In addition, the process of international settlement “sabotage” national minorities living in northern Afghanistan (Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turkmen, Shiite Hazaras): they are set “antipushtunski” and feared that Pashtuns (Karzai and the Taliban) will be able to agree among themselves to the detriment of Northerners. At a Russian experts meet like this: “After September 11, Northerners received 75% of the seats in government – and did nothing, they began to be perceived as regional leaders.” The logic of Russia’s response to such claims “northerners” looks like this: yes, we are cooperating with the Pashtuns, because they – the titular nation in Afghanistan, but the titular nation, like an older brother to help minorities.

This approach has caused controversy in the expert community, at a meeting of the Club: it was observed that the topic of “rights and obligations of titular nation” is quite slippery, especially if you draw an analogy with the Russian reality.

Central Asia and the Collective Security Treaty Organization

The situation in Central Asia today is favorable for the emergence in the region, extremist Islamist organizations – and fundamentalist regimes that support the Taliban today are spending millions of dollars to build such infrastructures (we are talking about Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, maybe – about Qatar, but especially – about the Saudi Arabia). In Central Asia, a growing number of supporters of radical forms of Islam (according to some non-traditional Islam in Kyrgyzstan is supported by 50-70 per cent of the population). Add to this horrendous growth of corruption in the region, economic and social problems, the growth of inter-ethnic conflicts.

Powerful organized crime, which is often a substitute for government institutions. Thus, at the meeting were told that during theevents of June 2010 in Kyrgyzstan, it turns out, it was possible to stop the carnage, but for this it was necessary to refer to the “looking” …

The countries of Central Asia, Moscow’s opinion, underestimate the seriousness of the threats emanating from Afghanistan: “They think that then everything will be so.”

Russia insists that Central Asia was built powerful military infrastructure that could counter American military construction – but Moscow’s partners in the CSTO concerned mutual claims and can not take collective efforts to create a single “line of defense.” At a meeting of the Club was opened said: “If we want stability in the region was, – you need to have a high level of solidarity and mutual support, and as long as the countries – members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization’s national interests are above regional ones. If the level of solidarity in the Collective Security Treaty Organization was in Europe – many of the problems would be solved. “

In creating its military infrastructure in Central Asia are interested in and the Americans, who – to the displeasure of Moscow – establishing bilateral relations with countries in the region, neglecting the cooperation with the CSTO. For example, offer to set up joint teams drug police: half – NATO members, half of – the local staff.

NATO does not want to work with the CSTO, although the Organization of Collective Security Treaty offered cooperation to curb drug trafficking and “a number of problems.” According to Russian experts, NATO does so, because that “it is more convenient to plant,” driving a wedge between Moscow and its partners in the military bloc.

The conversation that took place in the “Higher School of Economics,” was informative and frank rich. However, experts neat silent with respect to a fundamental thesis of the CSTO.

Main reason why NATO and the U.S. ignore the Collective Security Treaty Organization – incompetence of this organization.Among its allies in the military bloc can not be mined borders, as between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, the Allies could not hold each other the economic blockade , or to disperse to vote on key issues, such as Syria. Confronting the CSTO member states will last as long as their leaders are still alive, among these countries there are contradictions which are not overcome, even in the common threat – and, consequently, their union is anything but not a military bloc. So, to deal with the Collective Security Treaty Organization in the development of a joint military strategy – just a time to lose.

In this situation, the establishment of bilateral relations with Central Asian countries – the only effective tactic for the United States that seek to optimize their presence in the region. Moscow also has to balance the growing U.S. influence in Central Asia, but a polite “figure of silence” around the viability of the CSTO, as we see it, the formation of Russia’s strategy in the region, including in the area of collective security.

Maria Yanovskaya

The international news agency “Fergana”

Great Gaming Russia in Central Asia

Great Gaming Russia in Central Asia

For the sake of Afghanistan, U.S. officials routinely invoke the importance of nurturing economic growth across South and Central Asia. But when it comes to advancing policies meant to increase regional trade, Washington has shown little effort to ease the geopolitical differences between itself and one of Afghanistan’s key neighbors: Russia.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proclaimedlate last year in Dushanbe, “we want Afghanistan to be at the crossroads of economic opportunities going north and south and east and west, which is why it’s so critical to more fully integrate the economies of the countries in this region in South and Central Asia.”That sounds promising. So what is the problem? As George Washington University research professor Marlene Laruelle writes, present U.S. policies, like the “New Silk Road” initiative that Clinton hints at above, reflect an underlying economic rationale “to exclude Moscow from new geopolitical configurations.”

Echoing this interpretation is Joshua Kucera, a Washington-based freelance writer and frequent contributor to Slate and ForeignPolicy.com. He points to Washington’s call to tie together the electrical grids of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as Washington’s placement of the Central Asian states in a new State Department bureau. He writes, “What these all have in common is that they attempt to weaken the economic (and as a result, political) monopoly that Russia, by dint of the centralized Soviet infrastructure, has on these countries.”

Moscow already thinks that Washington’s promotion of NATO’s eastward expansion is a U.S.-led containment strategy. As we have seen in that part of the world, however, Washington’s attempts to marginalize Russia in its Central Asian post-Soviet sphere will bump up against the region’s deep historical ties, cultural influence and geographic contiguity with the Kremlin. This all might seem obvious, but it’s apparently not, as it would require foreign-policy planners to appreciate the overriding interests of neighboring great powers as they pertain to Afghanistan, even the ones we abhore. That will be difficult, and it is important to illuminate why.

Too many in Washington consider a less confrontational approach a sign of weakness and militant internationalism a sign of strength. But in South and Central Asia, U.S. officials must understand that what they perceive to be in America’s interest does not always line up with the prospect of regional connectivity. Washington’s pursuit of primacy in this region is erecting hurdles to the very liberal-internationalist goals that it claims to promote. If economic growth is to have any reliable chance of success, then the United States should not be attempting to foreclose constructive avenues for increased integration.

Pursuing policies that place the region’s general interest before America’s does not convey weakness. Rather, it is a recognition that some countries are better positioned to be key players in the region, especially in light of the last eleven years, which have amply demonstrated the limits of Washington’s ability to impose lasting change in Afghanistan.

As my colleague Doug Bandow alluded to the other day, Russia is not America’s “number-one geopolitical foe”—it is a declining power with nukes. Whether officials in Washington are willing to countenance such thoughts is anyone’s guess. However, given the disproportionate power of foreign-policy hawks inside the Beltway—of the liberal and conservative persuasion—I wouldn’t bet on it.

Why Do They Hate Us?–The real war on women is in the Middle East.

Muslim Bride Sexy Eyes Pics

Why Do They Hate Us?

The real war on women is in the Middle East.

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BY MONA ELTAHAWY | MAY/JUNE 2012

In “Distant View of a Minaret,” the late and much-neglected Egyptian writer Alifa Rifaat begins her short story with a woman so unmoved by sex with her husband that as he focuses solely on his pleasure, she notices a spider web she must sweep off the ceiling and has time to ruminate on her husband’s repeated refusal to prolong intercourse until she too climaxes, “as though purposely to deprive her.” Just as her husband denies her an orgasm, the call to prayer interrupts his, and the man leaves. After washing up, she loses herself in prayer — so much more satisfying that she can’t wait until the next prayer — and looks out onto the street from her balcony. She interrupts her reverie to make coffee dutifully for her husband to drink after his nap. Taking it to their bedroom to pour it in front of him as he prefers, she notices he is dead. She instructs their son to go and get a doctor. “She returned to the living room and poured out the coffee for herself. She was surprised at how calm she was,” Rifaat writes.

In a crisp three-and-a-half pages, Rifaat lays out a trifecta of sex, death, and religion, a bulldozer that crushes denial and defensiveness to get at the pulsating heart of misogyny in the Middle East. There is no sugarcoating it. They don’t hate us because of our freedoms, as the tired, post-9/11 American cliché had it. We have no freedoms because they hate us, as this Arab woman so powerfully says.

Yes: They hate us. It must be said.

Some may ask why I’m bringing this up now, at a time when the region has risen up, fueled not by the usual hatred of America and Israel but by a common demand for freedom. After all, shouldn’t everyone get basic rights first, before women demand special treatment? And what does gender, or for that matter, sex, have to do with the Arab Spring? But I’m not talking about sex hidden away in dark corners and closed bedrooms. An entire political and economic system — one that treats half of humanity like animals — must be destroyed along with the other more obvious tyrannies choking off the region from its future. Until the rage shifts from the oppressors in our presidential palaces to the oppressors on our streets and in our homes, our revolution has not even begun.

So: Yes, women all over the world have problems; yes, the United States has yet to elect a female president; and yes, women continue to be objectified in many “Western” countries (I live in one of them). That’s where the conversation usually ends when you try to discuss why Arab societies hate women.

But let’s put aside what the United States does or doesn’t do to women. Name me an Arab country, and I’ll recite a litany of abuses fueled by a toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend. When more than 90 percent of ever-married women in Egypt — including my mother and all but one of her six sisters — have had their genitals cut in the name of modesty, then surely we must all blaspheme. When Egyptian women are subjected to humiliating “virginity tests” merely for speaking out, it’s no time for silence. When an article in the Egyptian criminal code says that if a woman has been beaten by her husband “with good intentions” no punitive damages can be obtained, then to hell with political correctness. And what, pray tell, are “good intentions”? They are legally deemed to include any beating that is “not severe” or “directed at the face.” What all this means is that when it comes to the status of women in the Middle East, it’s not better than you think. It’s much, much worse. Even after these “revolutions,” all is more or less considered well with the world as long as women are covered up, anchored to the home, denied the simple mobility of getting into their own cars, forced to get permission from men to travel, and unable to marry without a male guardian’s blessing — or divorce either.

Not a single Arab country ranks in the top 100 in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, putting the region as a whole solidly at the planet’s rock bottom. Poor or rich, we all hate our women. Neighbors Saudi Arabia and Yemen, for instance, might be eons apart when it comes to GDP, but only four places separate them on the index, with the kingdom at 131 and Yemen coming in at 135 out of 135 countries. Morocco, often touted for its “progressive” family law (a 2005 report by Western “experts” called it “an example for Muslim countries aiming to integrate into modern society”), ranks 129; according to Morocco’s Ministry of Justice, 41,098 girls under age 18 were married there in 2010.

It’s easy to see why the lowest-ranked country is Yemen, where 55 percent of women are illiterate, 79 percent do not participate in the labor force, and just one woman serves in the 301-person parliament. Horrific news reports about 12-year-old girls dying in childbirth do little to stem the tide of child marriage there. Instead, demonstrations in support of child marriage outstrip those against it, fueled by clerical declarations that opponents of state-sanctioned pedophilia are apostates because the Prophet Mohammed, according to them, married his second wife, Aisha, when she was a child.

But at least Yemeni women can drive. It surely hasn’t ended their litany of problems, but it symbolizes freedom — and nowhere does such symbolism resonate more than in Saudi Arabia, where child marriage is also practiced and women are perpetually minors regardless of their age or education. Saudi women far outnumber their male counterparts on university campuses but are reduced to watching men far less qualified control every aspect of their lives.

Yes, Saudi Arabia, the country where a gang-rape survivor was sentenced to jail for agreeing to get into a car with an unrelated male and needed a royal pardon; Saudi Arabia, where a woman who broke the ban on driving was sentenced to 10 lashes and again needed a royal pardon; Saudi Arabia, where women still can’t vote or run in elections, yet it’s considered “progress” that a royal decree promised to enfranchise them for almost completely symbolic local elections in — wait for it — 2015. So bad is it for women in Saudi Arabia that those tiny paternalistic pats on their backs are greeted with delight as the monarch behind them, King Abdullah, is hailed as a “reformer”  — even by those who ought to know better, such as Newsweek, which in 2010 named the king one of the top 11 most respected world leaders. You want to know how bad it is? The “reformer’s” answer to the revolutions popping up across the region was to numb his people with still more government handouts — especially for the Salafi zealots from whom the Saudi royal family inhales legitimacy. King Abdullah is 87. Just wait until you see the next in line, Prince Nayef, a man straight out of the Middle Ages. His misogyny and zealotry make King Abdullah look like Susan B. Anthony.

SO WHY DO THEY HATE US? Sex, or more precisely hymens, explains much.

“Why extremists always focus on women remains a mystery to me,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently. “But they all seem to. It doesn’t matter what country they’re in or what religion they claim. They want to control women.” (And yet Clinton represents an administration that openly supports many of those misogynistic despots.) Attempts to control by such regimes often stem from the suspicion that without it, a woman is just a few degrees short of sexual insatiability. Observe Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the popular cleric and longtime conservative TV host on Al Jazeera who developed a stunning penchant for the Arab Spring revolutions — once they were under way, that is — undoubtedly understanding that they would eliminate the tyrants who long tormented and oppressed both him and the Muslim Brotherhood movement from which he springs.

I could find you a host of crackpots sounding off on Woman the Insatiable Temptress, but I’m staying mainstream with Qaradawi, who commands a huge audience on and off the satellite channels. Although he says female genital mutilation (which he calls “circumcision,” a common euphemism that tries to put the practice on a par with male circumcision) is not “obligatory,” you will also find this priceless observation in one of his books: “I personally support this under the current circumstances in the modern world. Anyone who thinks that circumcision is the best way to protect his daughters should do it,” he wrote, adding, “The moderate opinion is in favor of practicing circumcision to reduce temptation.” So even among “moderates,” girls’ genitals are cut to ensure their desire is nipped in the bud — pun fully intended. Qaradawi has since issued a fatwa against female genital mutilation, but it comes as no surprise that when Egypt banned the practice in 2008, some Muslim Brotherhood legislators opposed the law. And some still do — including a prominent female parliamentarian, Azza al-Garf.

Yet it’s the men who can’t control themselves on the streets, where from Morocco to Yemen, sexual harassment is endemic and it’s for the men’s sake that so many women are encouraged to cover up. Cairo has a women-only subway car to protect us from wandering hands and worse; countless Saudi malls are for families only, barring single men from entry unless they produce a requisite female to accompany them.

We often hear how the Middle East’s failing economies have left many men unable to marry, and some even use that to explain rising levels of sexual harassment on the streets. In a 2008 survey by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights, more than 80 percent of Egyptian women said they’d experienced sexual harassment and more than 60 percent of men admitted to harassing women. Yet we never hear how a later marriage age affects women. Do women have sex drives or not? Apparently, the Arab jury is still out on the basics of human biology.

Enter that call to prayer and the sublimation through religion that Rifaat so brilliantly introduces in her story. Just as regime-appointed clerics lull the poor across the region with promises of justice — and nubile virgins — in the next world rather than a reckoning with the corruption and nepotism of the dictator in this life, so women are silenced by a deadly combination of men who hate them while also claiming to have God firmly on their side.

I turn again to Saudi Arabia, and not just because when I encountered the country at age 15 I was traumatized into feminism — there’s no other way to describe it — but because the kingdom is unabashed in its worship of a misogynistic God and never suffers any consequences for it, thanks to its double-whammy advantage of having oil and being home to Islam’s two holiest places, Mecca and Medina.

Then — the 1980s and 1990s — as now, clerics on Saudi TV were obsessed with women and their orifices, especially what came out of them. I’ll never forget hearing that if a baby boy urinated on you, you could go ahead and pray in the same clothes, yet if a baby girl peed on you, you had to change. What on Earth in the girl’s urine made you impure? I wondered.

Hatred of women.

How much does Saudi Arabia hate women? So much so that 15 girls died in a school fire in Mecca in 2002, after “morality police” barred them from fleeing the burning building — and kept firefighters from rescuing them — because the girls were not wearing headscarves and cloaks required in public. And nothing happened. No one was put on trial. Parents were silenced. The only concession to the horror was that girls’ education was quietly taken away by then-Crown Prince Abdullah from the Salafi zealots, who have nonetheless managed to retain their vise-like grip on the kingdom’s education system writ large.

This, however, is no mere Saudi phenomenon, no hateful curiosity in the rich, isolated desert. The Islamist hatred of women burns brightly across the region — now more than ever.

In Kuwait, where for years Islamists fought women’s enfranchisement, they hounded the four women who finally made it into parliament, demanding that the two who didn’t cover their hair wear hijabs. When the Kuwaiti parliament was dissolved this past December, an Islamist parliamentarian demanded the new house — devoid of a single female legislator — discuss his proposed “decent attire” law.

In Tunisia, long considered the closest thing to a beacon of tolerance in the region, women took a deep breath last fall after the Islamist Ennahda party won the largest share of votes in the country’s Constituent Assembly. Party leaders vowed to respect Tunisia’s 1956 Personal Status Code, which declared “the principle of equality between men and women” as citizens and banned polygamy. But female university professors and students have complained since then of assaults and intimidation by Islamists for not wearing hijabs, while many women’s rights activists wonder how talk of Islamic law will affect the actual law they will live under in post-revolution Tunisia.

In Libya, the first thing the head of the interim government, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, promised to do was to lift the late Libyan tyrant’s restrictions on polygamy. Lest you think of Muammar al-Qaddafi as a feminist of any kind, remember that under his rule girls and women who survived sexual assaults or were suspected of “moral crimes” were dumped into “social rehabilitation centers,” effective prisons from which they could not leave unless a man agreed to marry them or their families took them back.

Then there’s Egypt, where less than a month after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, the military junta that replaced him, ostensibly to “protect the revolution,” inadvertently reminded us of the two revolutions we women need. After it cleared Tahrir Square of protesters, the military detained dozens of male and female activists. Tyrants oppress, beat, and torture all. We know. But these officers reserved “virginity tests” for female activists: rape disguised as a medical doctor inserting his fingers into their vaginal opening in search of hymens. (The doctor was sued and eventually acquitted in March.)

What hope can there be for women in the new Egyptian parliament, dominated as it is by men stuck in the seventh century? A quarter of those parliamentary seats are now held by Salafis, who believe that mimicking the original ways of the Prophet Mohammed is an appropriate prescription for modern life. Last fall, when fielding female candidates, Egypt’s Salafi Nour Party ran a flower in place of each woman’s face. Women are not to be seen or heard — even their voices are a temptation — so there they are in the Egyptian parliament, covered from head to toe in black and never uttering a word.

And we’re in the middle of a revolution in Egypt! It’s a revolution in which women have died, been beaten, shot at, and sexually assaulted fighting alongside men to rid our country of that uppercase Patriarch — Mubarak — yet so many lowercase patriarchs still oppress us. The Muslim Brotherhood, with almost half the total seats in our new revolutionary parliament, does not believe women (or Christians for that matter) can be president. The woman who heads the “women’s committee” of the Brotherhood’s political party said recently that women should not march or protest because it’s more “dignified” to let their husbands and brothers demonstrate for them.

The hatred of women goes deep in Egyptian society. Those of us who have marched and protested have had to navigate a minefield of sexual assaults by both the regime and its lackeys, and, sadly, at times by our fellow revolutionaries. On the November day I was sexually assaulted on Mohamed Mahmoud Street near Tahrir Square, by at least four Egyptian riot police, I was first groped by a man in the square itself. While we are eager to expose assaults by the regime, when we’re violated by our fellow civilians we immediately assume they’re agents of the regime or thugs because we don’t want to taint the revolution.

SO WHAT IS TO BE DONE?

First we stop pretending. Call out the hate for what it is. Resist cultural relativism and know that even in countries undergoing revolutions and uprisings, women will remain the cheapest bargaining chips. You — the outside world — will be told that it’s our “culture” and “religion” to do X, Y, or Z to women. Understand that whoever deemed it as such was never a woman. The Arab uprisings may have been sparked by an Arab man — Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire in desperation — but they will be finished by Arab women.

Amina Filali — the 16-year-old Moroccan girl who drank poison after she was forced to marry, and beaten by, her rapist — is our Bouazizi. Salwa el-Husseini, the first Egyptian woman to speak out against the “virginity tests“; Samira Ibrahim, the first one to sue; and Rasha Abdel Rahman, who testified alongside her — they are our Bouazizis. We must not wait for them to die to become so. Manal al-Sharif, who spent nine days in jail for breaking her country’s ban on women driving, is Saudi Arabia’s Bouazizi. She is a one-woman revolutionary force who pushes against an ocean of misogyny.

DON’T MISS

Our political revolutions will not succeed unless they are accompanied by revolutions of thought — social, sexual, and cultural revolutions that topple the Mubaraks in our minds as well as our bedrooms.

“Do you know why they subjected us to virginity tests?” Ibrahim asked me soon after we’d spent hours marching together to mark International Women’s Day in Cairo on March 8. “They want to silence us; they want to chase women back home. But we’re not going anywhere.”

We are more than our headscarves and our hymens. Listen to those of us fighting. Amplify the voices of the region and poke the hatred in its eye. There was a time when being an Islamist was the most vulnerable political position in Egypt and Tunisia. Understand that now it very well might be Woman. As it always has been.

NE Afghanistan, Where Afghan and Pakistani Taliban Stage Mass Assaults Together In Govt. Vacuum

Four Afghan police dead, 16 seized in Taliban attack

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Armed Afghan police climb onto the back of a vehicle after gunmen launched multiple attacks in Kabul April 15, 2012. – File Photo by Reuters

KABUL: Dozens of Taliban rebels stormed police posts in the remote northeastern Afghan province of Badakhshan overnight, killing four officers and capturing at least 16 others, an official said on Thursday.

Two policemen were injured and three others were missing after an intense battle in the mountainous province’s Wardaj district, on a lawless pass to neighbouring Pakistan, deputy provincial governor, Shamsul Rahman Shams said.

“A big number of the Taliban carried out the attacks. The police were overpowered,” he told AFP from the provincial capital town of Faizabad.

“Sixteen police were captured by the Taliban and taken away. Three others are also missing but we don’t know what has happened to them,” Shams said.

The rebels seized two police trucks and a quantity of ammunition.

Afghanistan’s security forces, including about 170,000 police, are being trained, equipped and largely paid by a US-led Nato military coalition that has about 130,000 troops fighting the Taliban.

Mostly American, the force is scheduled to withdraw by the end of 2014 and hand over all security responsibilities to local forces. When the troops leave Afghanistan will have a total police and army force of 352,000.

Compared to their army counterparts, Afghan police are undertrained and underequipped and suffer more casualties in Taliban attacks.