27 Luglio 2009
We live in an era defined by its brutality. Our challenge is whether to accept this – or to take the risks necessary to transform our world commons in beloved community. (read here)
27 Luglio 2009
We live in an era defined by its brutality. Our challenge is whether to accept this – or to take the risks necessary to transform our world commons in beloved community. (read here)
After years of examining CIA operations of dubious legality, an important member of the House intelligence committee is exploring an option that many in the intelligence community view with apprehension: a comprehensive investigation of all intelligence-community operations over years and perhaps even decades. The model is the famous Church and Pike committees of the 1970s, which exposed widespread CIA lawlessness; created the modern legal and congressional oversight structures for intelligence; and cleaved the history of the CIA into before- and after- periods.
Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), a progressive who sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and chairs a special oversight panel that helps write the intelligence budget, has been increasingly comfortable talking about a new “Church committee.” He floated the idea in an interview with TWI on July 14, again to the Newark Star-Ledger the next day, and even attempted to discuss the Church committee’s precedents for congressional oversight with Lou Dobbs on CNN on July 20.
“I’d like to see something on the scope of the Church committee,” Holt told TWI in a Friday phone interview. The congressman said that it had been a “few decades” since Congress took a comprehensive inquiry into the intelligence community’s impact on “the relationship between the individual and her or his government, as well as the role that the U.S. plays in other countries around the world, outside of declared military activities.”
Holt said he did not have a concrete proposal prepared for the creation of such an investigation, and was at the stage of seeing what colleagues and members of the intelligence community made of such a move. “There’s agreement with the idea,” he said. “An awful lot of people have not really thought about how many unanswered questions there are or unresolved issues there are out there about how we do intelligence in the United States.”
He declined to name any members of congress with whom he has discussed such an investigation, but said they were members of the House intelligence committee and the oversight panel he chairs. “Are we close to commissioning a study in the way I’m conceiving it? No, not yet,” he said. A House Republican aide, who requested anonymity, was unaware of Holt’s early feelers, raising questions about whether Holt’s envisioned inquiry would have Republican support. And a spokesman for Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), the House intelligence committee chairman, did not return a request for comment.
Many in the intelligence world and on the right view the committee investigations led by Sen. Frank Church (D-Idaho) and Rep. Otis Pike (D-N.Y.) as representing an apex of progressive congressional attempts to geld the intelligence community. Empaneled in response to a New York Times article by Seymour Hersh in 1974 reporting widespread surveillance of U.S. citizens, the investigations unearthed other abuses, such as repeated CIA assassination attempts on foreign heads of state. It resulted in the passage of laws like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to prevent warrantless domestic surveillance and the creation of standing committees in Congress to oversee intelligence activities. Some conservatives view the investigations as an example of congressional overreach. “I think they undermined our capabilities in some respects,” former Vice President Dick Cheney told his biographer, Stephen F. Hayes.
Holt said that he is “not talking about upsetting the applecart, I’m talking about analyzing the full applecart” of intelligence activities. He rejects the idea that such a comprehensive investigation necessarily entails eroding U.S. intelligence capabilities. “Is giving your kid a test in school an inhibition on his free learning?” Hold said. “Sure, there are some people who are happy to let intelligence agencies go about their business unexamined. But I think most people when they think about it will say that you will get better intelligence if the intelligence agencies don’t operate in an unexamined fashion.”
But over the past several years, the intelligence committees and official commissions have peered into intelligence matters repeatedly. In 2002 and 2003, an unprecedented joint House-Senate intelligence committee investigation looked into intelligence work on al-Qaeda before the Sept. 11 attacks, work that the 9/11 Commission took as a point of departure. A panel created by the Bush administration examined intelligence work on weapons of mass destruction. The Senate intelligence committee, from 2004 to 2007, undertook a multi-tiered look at intelligence failures preceding the invasion of Iraq. At the moment, the Senate intelligence committee is conducting a study into the CIA’s interrogation and detention practices after 9/11, and the House intelligence committee on which Holt serves is examining recent revelations of a shuttered CIA program believed to be tied to strengthening assassinations capabilities.
Holt said that such inquiries still left a host of unexamined activities. “There’s a lot to look at, [and] not just who told what to whom, or the treatment of detainees or [renditions], or interrogation, or domestic surveillance or national security letters or on and on and on,” he said. “Church looked at everything since the OSS,” referring to the Office of Strategic Services, the World War II-era predecessor of the CIA. “The recommendations of the Church committee, in large part, have been eroded, ignored or violated since then. The world situation has evolved, and the technologies, methodology and organizations of the intelligence community have evolved, [and] also the look back then, in a sense, has been forgotten by some.”
Representatives from the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence did not return messages seeking comment.
Steven Aftergood, an intelligence policy analyst with the Federation of American Scientists, said that in some respects it was surprising that no one had proposed a Church committee-like investigation. “It’s the shoe that has not dropped yet,” Aftergood said. “The Church committee was established following a series of revelations of disturbing intelligence community activities. To a remarkable extent the series of events precipitating the Church committee has been replicated in recent months and years. The famous December 1974 Seymour Hersh front-page story in The New York Times talking about domestic surveillance [presaged] the December 2005 [James Risen and Eric Lichtblau] story in The New York Times about domestic surveillance.”
Aftergood said that a new Church committee was “overdue,” and disputed the characterization of the 1970s congressional investigations as weakening U.S. intelligence. “While to some people in the intelligence business the name of Frank Church is a dirty word, it’s also true that the structures that emerged from the Church committee benefited intelligence by introducing stability and predictability into intelligence policy,” Aftergood said. “The idea that this was a disaster or an assault on intelligence is shortsighted to the point of misunderstanding. The Church committee yielded the framework that the U.S. intelligence community needed to grow and to regain at least in some measure the confidence of the public and the rest of the government.”
Along those lines, Holt said that he’s heard representatives of the intelligence community say, in “breathtaking honesty and self-awareness,” that a thorough investigation might enable them to better do their jobs. “In a representative democracy, there is a very important role for the legislative branch to help the CIA and the intelligence community determine and understand their proper role and give them the tools and the latitude to carry out” lawful intelligence activities.
Journal of Turkish Weekly (JTW)
The unexpected and sudden renewal of the Turkmen-Azerbaijani dispute over three hydrocarbon fields in the middle of the Caspian Sea is the latest setback to the European Union’s Nabucco gas-pipeline project.
An argument over ownership of the Caspian fields had soured Turkmen-Azerbaijani relations for more than a decade. But over the last two years, representatives of the two countries — prodded by EU and U.S. officials — had been meeting regularly, reviving hopes that Nabucco could be realized.
Those hopes took a hit on July 24 when Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov cited a report from Deputy Foreign Minister Toyly Komekov during a cabinet meeting.
Berdymukhammedov said the report showed that the impasse over thedemarcation of the Caspian seabed between the two countries has remained unresolved “due to Azerbaijan’s specific position. The main reason behind this situation is that there are mineral deposits located exactly in the disputed areas of the Caspian Sea. Azerbaijan claims ownership of these deposits, including the deposit known as Promezhutochnoyee during the Soviet era and which we now call our Serdar deposit.”
Berdymukhammedov went on to mention the Omar and Osman fields, which he said Azerbaijan is already exploring but which, he claimed, “belong to us.” The Turkmen president expressed regret that 16 bilateral meetings had not resolved the issue and then instructed Foreign Minister Rashid Meredov to take the issue to “the International Court of Arbitration.”
More Gas Needed
That could present a major obstacle to the European Union’s Nabucco plans. The proposed 3,300-kilometer pipeline starts at Georgia’s western border and then heads toward Europe via Turkey. Nabucco wants to include Central Asian gas in the pipeline, particularly gas from Turkmenistan, which has one of the world’s largest reserves of natural gas.
For some 15 years now the plan was to construct a “trans-Caspian” pipeline along the Caspian seabed from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, where it would be join a pipeline leading to Georgia’s western border. But the dispute between Ashgabat and Baku over ownership of the three Caspian fields made construction of this pipeline impossible.
The recent warming of ties between the two countries, including a visit by Berdymukhammedov to Baku last year, raised hopes the pipeline could finally be built.
On state television on July 25, Deputy Foreign Minister Xalaf Xalafov indicated Azerbaijan was prepared to have a court decide on the ownership issue. “We believe that we are ready to defend Azerbaijan’s position and rights on all levels,” Xalafov said.
Ilham Shaban, an Azerbaijan-based energy expert and the editor of the “Turan Energy” daily newsletter, tells RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service that after years of this dispute, a court ruling may be the most “civilized” means of ending the stalemate.
“And to take this matter before a court is a natural step and we also hope the court will render a fair verdict,” Shaban says.
Shaban adds that a resolution of the ownership question could then pave the way for dramatic improvement in Turkmen-Azerbaijani ties, which in turn opens up the way for projects like Nabucco. Nabucco foresees that the lion’s share of the proposed 31 billion cubic meters of gas for the pipeline would come from Turkmenistan.
“I feel that this court will render a decision that will bring our countries even closer together if Ashgabat and Baku will observe and accept the decision of the International Arbitration Court,” he says.
Shaban concedes that if the two countries do not show flexibility and maintain the rigid posturing that has marred bilateral ties for so long, the court case could drag on for years and endanger the construction of the trans-Caspian pipeline and also Nabucco.
Guvanch Geraev and Marat Rakhimov of RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service contributed to this report
By Bruce Pannier
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Albert Pchelintsev, 38, is the head of group which which investigates corruption by officials working in the local government of Khimki.
A man attacks an opposition demonstrator during a protest against the current government`s leadership and policies in central Moscow January 31, 2009.
The Other Russia, a coalition of opposition groups run by Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov, said on its website http://www.kasparov.ru that Pchelintsev was in hospital in a “moderately serious” condition.
A band of up to five men attacked Pchelintsev as he was leaving a train and shouted: “You won’t be able to speak out now for a long time,” an environmental organisation for the Moscow region reported on its site http://www.ecmo.ru, citing witnesses.
The assailants were still at large, it added.
Saturday’s attack comes less than two weeks after Chechen human rights activist Natalia Estemirova was killed, triggering worldwide outrage, and several days after the body of activist Andrei Kulagin was found in a sand pit in north-west Russia.
The Other Russia’s website said Pchelintsev had been receiving threats “for some time” since he openly spoke out against Khimki Mayor Vladimir Strelchenko, and added that rights activists in the region regularly suffer attacks.
Last November Mikhail Beketov, the editor of an investigative newspaper in Khimki, was savagely beaten, resulting in the amputation of his leg and fingers.
Reporting the incident, Russian popular daily Moskovsky Komsomolets printed a photograph of Pchelintsev sitting beside a picture of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
Medvedev, cultivating an image as a liberal, has pledged to increase openness in society and reduce graft and lawlessness, though critics say there have been very few substantial changes so far.
WASHINGTON: Pakistan should first create a secure environment for the refugees to return home before launching an operation against Baitullah Mehsud and his militants, says US special envoy Richard Holbrooke.
The US envoy made this statement in an interview to The Washington Post, published on Monday when other media outlets claimed that Pakistan was engaged in secret talks with the reclusive Taliban leader.
The report claimed that Pakistan had planned a major military offensive against Mehsud but delayed it because of these secret talks.
Mr Holbrooke, however, indicated no such links. Instead, he made it clear that the United States did not expect Pakistan to launch another major military offensive while it was still struggling with the refugee problem.
‘Baitullah Mehsud is a dreadful man, and his elimination is an imperative. However, the first imperative is to secure the areas the refugees are going back into,’ said Mr Holbrooke.
Although Mr Holbrooke said it could be beneficial to have simultaneous offensives — the US Marines on the Afghan side and the Pakistani army in Fata — the greater concern is unfinished business elsewhere. ‘Why would I push them to start an offensive when they have two million people they have to protect first?’ the US envoy said.
The Pakistan army also denied any negotiations with Mehsud, saying that it wanted to surround the militants and use air power and artillery to ‘soften them up’.
The operation is a ‘punitive measure’, said Maj-Gen Athar Abbas, head of the army’s public relations wing.
At least six brigades of Pakistani troops have blocked the four main arteries into Mehsud’s fiefdom in South Waziristan, media reports said.
Pakistani aircraft, along with unmanned American planes, have attacked Mehsud’s territory in recent weeks. Soldiers have deployed into neighbouring North Waziristan and have imposed an economic blockade, trying to withhold food and supplies from the Taliban, a US defence official in Washington told the Post.
The blockade and US strikes have forced thousands of Mehsud’s men to flee the area.
Meanwhile, media outlets claiming secret talks between Islamabad and Mehsud said they still had no details. They supported their claim by arguing that Pakistan had delayed a planned operation against Mehsud after having corralled his stronghold in South Waziristan.
The Pakistani government, the reports said, had a one-point agenda: stop attacking government targets. This would not be a total surrender, but a guarantee that Baitullah Mehsud would not indulge in any anti-state activity in future, the media quoted unidentified Pakistani officials as saying.
The delay in launching a military offensive in South Waziristan would annoy Pakistan’s US allies, the reports claimed.
Ambassador Holbrooke’s statement that Washington understood Islamabad’s position and was not pushing Pakistan to launch yet another offensive, however, contradicted this claim.
The Post also quoted Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdul Basit as saying that while they were focussed on the refugees, they did not want to rush into opening new fronts against the Taliban.
‘We would not like to do anything haphazardly. If you open so many fronts at the same time, then the danger is you will not achieve success on any front. So we would like to move with utmost circumspection,’ said Mr Basit. The tribal areas are ‘a different ballgame and we need to understand how difficult it is’.
From DESMOND MGBORH, Kano, TIMOTHY OLA, Maiduguri and ABU ONYELEBOCHO, Potiskum
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Corpses of Islamist militants killed by security agents in Maiduguri on Monday
•Photo: The Sun Publishing
Security forces on Monday fought gun battles with Islamist militants who staged attacks on police stations, prisons, churches and other government buildings in Borno, Yobe and Kano states, leaving no fewer than 100 dead.
The attacks came on the heels of similar incident in Bauchi, which death toll the acting Inspector General of Police, Mr Ogbonnaya Onovo put at 65, including five police casualties.
Maiduguri, the capital of Borno was thrown into pandemonium on Monday as members of the Mohammed Yusuf Movement (Yusuffiya), Islamic sect in the state made real their threat as they burnt down some police stations, prisons and churches. The Islamist militants also set free inmates of the Maiduguri Maximum Prison, while similar attacks were carried out on a police station and church in Potiskum, Yobe State.
The crisis broke few days after nine of the sectarian members were arrested by the police for being in possession of locally made bombs, explosives, dangerous chemicals and weapons, while one was also killed by a bomb explosion. The leader of the sect, Mohammed Yusuf had in a well-publicized message recently threatened to stage a show-down with those he tagged enemies of Islam, calling on his followers to prepare for a Jihad.
By Sunday night, some members of the sect members stormed the State Police Headquarters along Kano-Jos Road in Maiduguri and attacked the Mobile Police senior officers quarters beside the headquarters, killing two police officers.
“The militants came in the midnight with dangerous weapons and some substances suspected to be bombs. They caught us unaware because we never thought they could target the training college side. They immediately set some quarters ablaze and most of us ran out of our houses before our colleagues and Operation Flush men came to the scene,” a police officer who witnessed the incident told Daily Sun on condition of anonymity.
Daily Sun gathered that the sect members arrived the quarters around 11.30 pm, shouting Allhu Akbar (God is great) and immediately set nine buildings, six cars and two motorcycles on fire. Two police officers were reportedly killed.
Sources said the men of the state special security task force, Operation Flush and some mobile policemen who came to the scene shortly, engaged the militants in a gun battle, forcing the sect members to beat a retreat.
Those who escaped the police onslaught among the fundamentalists were said to have proceeded to the Maiduguri Maximum Security Prison. By early Monday morning, the prison has been burnt while all the inmates were set free. A prison warden was also killed just as some churches around the railway area in the metropolis were torched by the rampaging sect.
Unconfirmed reports claimed two churches were also burnt in Gamboru-Ngala, a border town in the state.
Over 100 corpses of members of the sect who were reportedly shot security officials police were seen littering the deserted streets of Maiduguri as at the time of filing this report. Movements in and out of the state capital were restricted even as commercial activities were paralyzed. All banks, schools and companies were shut down as combined team of police; state security services (SSS) and army mounted surveillance in the state.
The Commissioner of Police, Christopher Dega and the commandant of the Operation Flush, Col Ben Ahanotu could not be reached as at the time of filing report. Ironically, all the mobile telephone networks were not working fueling speculations that the authorities might have asked the operators to jam their communication devices to prevent the sect members who are scattered across the North from coordinating their operations.
Meanwhile, Governor Ali Sheriff has declared a dusk to dawn curfew from Monday.
A three paragraph statement signed by the Director of Press in the Government House, Zanna Usman Chiroma stated that the curfew, which was declared in all parts of the two local government areas in the Maiduguri metropolis “will take effect from 7p.m to 6a.m daily until the security situation improves.”
The governor advised residents to stay in their homes during the period as no movement would be allowed, assuring all citizens of full protection of lives and property.
He also promised to lift the curfew as soon as the situation was brought under control.
Similarly, the religious upheaval has spilled to Yobe State as attacks in Potiskum in the early hours of Monday morning left at least one policeman and a personnel of the state fire service dead.
Daily Sun gathered that the members numbering over 40 attacked the police station in Potiskum, freed suspects in custody, looted the armoury and then set ablaze the station and the office of the Federal Road Safety Commission adjacent to it.
The attacks were launched, according to sources at the period it was raining catsß and dogs.
Mr. Mohammed Paddah, spokesman of the Yobe State Police Command who confirmed the attack said the State Commissioner of Police, Mohammed Abbas had paid a visit to the scenes of the attacks as well as the police armoury.
The police spokesman confirmed the death of the two uniformed men, adding that seven other police officers were injured in the attack. He said some suspects had been arrested and were already being investigated.
He called on members of the public to give vital information on suspects to enable the police nip attacks in the bud.
As at the time of filing this report, Governor Ibrahim Geidam who was said to have gone to a town in Gulani local government area had not made any statement on the attacks.
Also a police station in Wudil town situated on the outskirts of Kano was attacked on Monday.
Police repelled the attack, killing three members of the group and arresting 33 others, Kano police spokesman, Baba Mohammed said. Two police officers were injured in the clashes in the town, some 30 kilometres (20 miles) east of Kano.
“An unspecified number of these extremists attacked the police station at around 4:00a.m and injured two officers but our men repelled them, killed three and apprehended 33 of them,” said Mohammed.
He said the attack was similar to the one staged overnight at a police station in Potiskum in Yobe State.
Police have meantime besieged the Kara neighbourhood of Wudil where the group has a mosque, preparing for an offensive to flush them out.
A Kano resident said police were patrolling the streets of the bustling capital following the attack in the nearby town.
“The situation is still very tense but armed policemen are patrolling the streets and trouble-prone parts of Kano to make sure they put the situation under complete control.”
He suspected the militants were fleeing from Yobe and Bauchi states where they launched attacks on Sunday and Monday.
The latest wave of fighting broke out on Sunday in Bauchi State when police hit back at militants after they attacked a police station at dawn.
The Nigerian Taliban emerged in 2004 when it set up a base dubbed Afghanistan in Kanamma village in Yobe, on the border with Niger, from where it attacked police outposts and killed police officers.
Its membership is mainly drawn from school dropouts. The north of Nigeria is majority Muslim, although large Christian minorities have settled in the main towns, raising tensions between the two groups.
Since 1999 and the return of a civilian regime to Nigeria’s central government, 12 northern states have introduced Islamic Sharia law.
More than 700 people died last November in Jos, capital of Plateau state, when a political feud over a local election degenerated into bloody confrontation between Muslims and Christians.
Sectarian clashes between Muslims and Christians in Bauchi State killed 14 people in February. A Muslim mob went on the rampage, attacking Christians and burning churches in reprisals over the burning of two mosques, which Muslims blamed on Christians, they said.
One of the Nigerian Taliban leaders, Aminu Tashen-Ilimi, had told newsmen in a 2005 interview that the group intended to lead an armed insurrection and rid society of “immorality” and “infidelity.”
By: Yasin ‘Abd al-Salam
It was only in November 2002 that the continued existence of Moroccan Shi’ites came to light through an interview with Hujjat al-Islam Sayyid Dris Hani, the spiritual leader of the Moroccan Shi’ites, which appeared in Maroc Hebdo. Now in his mid-thirties, and living peacefully in Sale with his wife and well-to-do family, Dris Hani discovered Shi’ism as a teen and moved to Syria at the age of 18 to study in the Hawzah. Upon his return to Morocco, he felt invested with a mission: to struggle for the recognition and respect of the minority Shi’ite community. In his interview with Maroc Hebdo, he stated that “Morocco was a Shi’ite country;” that Shi’ism was the rule and that Sunnism was the exception. He explained that there was no need to make Morocco a Shi’ite country, because it already was one. He also hoped that the community could create a political party like the Hizbullah, but adapted to Moroccan reality. Due to pressures placed on him by the Moroccan authorities, always eager to ensure national unity through uniformity–Allah, King, and Country, one religion, one language, and one madhhab–he was “requested” to retract his statements. In subsequent interviews, he took back many of the statements which had been attributed to him, even his titled of “Hujjat al-Islam,” made a vow of silence, and then returned to the scene speaking of Islamic ecumenism and the need to unite the Muslim ‘Ummah. In his words, Sunnism and Shi’ism are two complementary currents, and all Muslims, be they Sunni or Shi’i share, the same fundamental beliefs…
With the help of the Saudis, Wahhabi religious schools spread throughout Morocco, extremist literature was distributed to thousands of students, and scholarships were given to study in Saudi-supported universities. Morroco, which in modern times was known for its moderation, was soon confronted with the surrogate prodigal sons of the Saudis: Wahhabi-trained preachers who returned home to spread their theories. These Wahhabi theorists rejected the modern open Malikism of Morocco and denounced Shi’ites as apostates. As a result, since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, many Moroccan Shi’ites, men, women, and children, have simply left the country and moved to Iran where they could practice their religion freely…
Despite the fact that Moroccans were forced to embrace Sunni Islam, they always retained many aspects of Shi’ite Islam: the love for the Prophet and his Family; the respect for descendants of the Prophets, known in Morocco as the shurafa; the celebration of ‘Id al-Mawlid, a Shi’ite custom commenced in the country by the Merinides; the common invocations of intercession made to the Prophet and Fatimah; the reverence of saints; the rich Shi’ite-inspired spirituality of the Sufis; and the commemoration of ‘Ashura. In Morocco, these mourning ceremonies are observed mainly by women and children. They were commenced by the Shi’i communities which existed in the country between the 9 th and 12th centuries and were perpetuated by the Sharifs, the descendants of the Prophet. As Hujjat al-Islam Dris Hani explains, “Even countries which claim to be Sunni are in fact Shi’ite, since they all share the same respect for Ahl al-Bayt. It is just a question of their degree of Shi’ism.” As many Moroccans say, “We are Sunnis in practice, but Shi’ites at heart.” (read here)
| Morocco’s Shia Identity
Related to country: Morocco
Pre-islamic Moroccan Berber tribes were mostly Jewish with a few minorities of Christians. It was very difficult to impose Islam on these tribes, and the fights took many centuries before Islam was completely settled in this land. Popular culture in Morocco believes that if the tribes were ruled by Cherifs (I mean people from the tree of the Prophet Mohamed a.s) the land would be fertile, as they carry a sort of Baraka (Blessing) wherever they go. These tribes start welcoming Alaouits who were escaping from the Umayyad and the Abbasids and making them the kings of Morocco. The first king of Morocco was Molay Idriss. He is a Hassanit who escaped from the Khilafa of the East and established his kingdom here. Molay Idriss married the daughter of the chief of the Berbers, as a symbol of blood alliance between the two. Since then, all the Moroccan dynasties are from Ali & Fatima, because only an Alaouit can unite the multiple conflictual Moroccan tribes & the incoming Arab tribes fleeing drought and political injustice as well as the Jewish & Arab communities who escaped from Andalusia throughout the centuries. Nowadays, our ruling King Mohammed V is him-self an Alaouit & an offspring of Hassan a.s. And believe it or not, The king still carrys that symbolic charisma of a Cherif.
However, due to the social particularities of Berber tribes and to the mixture that forms the Moroccan society, the Kings of Morocco many centuries ago have chosen to adopt Sunna as religious doctrine instead of Shia. Yet, they have chosen a very clever Sunna doctrine, as they married the doctrine of Malik Bnu Anass to the philosophy of Ashaari and to the Sufism of Junayd. Consequently, Morocco have kept many of its Shia roots and symbols and at the same time satisfied the needs of the street people (Al Jamaa), by adopting a Sunni Maliki Ashaari Junaydi approach of Islam. With my little experience of Moroccan Sufism, and the studies I did on the subject, I may conclude that Sufism in Morocco was developed as a sect which practices secret Shiism with a limited number of adepts, whereas the majority of people continued to practice a Sunni style Islam.
After Khomeini’s revolution in Iran in 1979, security measures were taken to stop the spread of such an ideology among young Moroccans in universities and Islamic parties. But in the 1996 Moroccan reformed Constitution, it was mentioned that Morocco is an Islamic country without focusing on the Maliki doctrine as it was the case before. This means that being Shia in Morocco is not against the Constitution, as long as it’s an individual practice not a political stream!
Anyway, Moroccan Shia today are a bunch of intellectuals, not more that 50 persons. Most of them received their education in Lebanon or Iraq or were influenced by the writings of the French thinker Henry Corbin or of Khomeini’s Political Islam’s ideology. Moroccan Shia are mostly located in Rabat, Marrakech, Fez and Northern Regions, but they have no spiritual leader (Marji Ataklid). They follow Iraqian or Iranian Spiritual guides most of the time, as I deduced from my discussion with many of them.
According to my sources, Moroccan Shia tempted to organise them-selves in a regular theopolitical movement during a meeting in Tanger. However, they had different interests and perspectives about that movement so it failed. But obviously, many members of some new Islamic Parties are Shia like Al Badil Al Hadari, and many educational and cultural associations are funded by Shia in Morocco like Al Ghadir association in Meknes and many others in the North.
During the celebration of the sad memory Ashurae in Morocco, we notice the persistence of many ancient symbols taken from both Shia and Jewish traditions. Moroccans fast during Ashurae and they bay dolls and games for children to stop them from crying the death of Hussein a.s. In some regions they even settle places for the ceremony of Azae. These are somehow Shia traditions. Yet, these symbols are mixed with others, borrowed from the Jewish celebration called Haylula, like lighting a big fire in each street and turning around it while playing on some leather instruments and using this fire for black magic.
When I saw Moroccan people crying Saddam’s death and accusing Shia in Iraq of being the allies of American forces, I feel a sort of bitterness inside. These people unfortunately ignore everything of their Shia religious identity, and Islamic education in the Moroccan educational system as well as media; don’t help at all in informing them about the subject. But when I see the support Moroccans owe to Hezbollah or Iran, I think that the traces of their Shia past can’t be erased by the wind of Sunna centuries.
I still need to clarify one more thing. Moroccan religious identity as I see it today is changing in a tremendous way towards a non-doctrinal sort of Islam. This is due to many reasons like: The huge luck in education, weakness of national media, the chock of modernity and the fragilazing hits it’s experiencing : Extremism, New Sufism trends (Adl Wa Lihsaan & Tarika Boutchichia) and Christian Missionaries… My personal prediction about the future evolution of the Moroccan religious identity is that; if Shia elite can emerge in this sensitive & particular moment of Moroccan history, the Shia doctrine can be resurrected as a major religious identity in Morocco.
the new prevailing theme in Obama/Hillary foreign policy strategy.
When former Iranian Parliament speaker Ali Akbar Nateq Nori said few weeks ago that Bahrain was Iran’s 14th province, he caused a firestorm of angry protests from almost all of the Arab leaders particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Nateq Nouri, who is also Inspector General in the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, justified his words in context of blaming the former Shah regime for squandering Iranian rights to Bahrain by agreeing to let Britain grant its former protectorate full independence. Nouri’s remarks came while Bahrain is witnessing angry protests from its Shia citizens over the issue of naturalization of Sunni Arabs which the Shia oppose. Bahraini Shia citizens see the naturalization issue as government plot to change the demographic of the country in favor of Sunnis.
The Iranian Mullah was not speaking out of vacuum however. Iranians are very proud nation that was much bigger in its ancient past than the current borders. Iranians take pride in their ancient history and civilization and feel they ought to be respected as a regional powerhouse. One would think that the Islamic leadership of Iran would not have nationalistic claims against a fellow Muslim nation, which is contrary to Islamic teachings of emphasizing the religious bond over nationalistic one. But on the contrary, the mullah rulers of Iran come across as more nationalistic, as in this case, than the former Shah of Iran.
Along those lines, the Iranian nuclear program, for example, is therefore viewed in Iran as a national symbol and an achievement of the nation. The west attempts to curtail Iranian nuclear program are viewed as an insult to the Iranians and part of a larger western conspiracy to undermine the proud Iranian nation. This collective feeling of pride and Iranian nationalism provides a comfortable cushion for the Iranian regime to fall back on when threatened.
For example, the UAE holds that Iran occupies its three strategic Islands of Abu Musa and the two Tunbs while the Islamic republic of Iran fiercely defends its possession of these Islands as part of Iranian territory. Iran also makes a point in emphasizing the “Persian” in the Persian Gulf in order to counter the Arabs who also share that gulf but call it instead the Arabian Gulf. For Iranians, this is not simply a semantic game but rather serious nationalistic issue.
Iran-Arab relations took a downturn when President Barak Obama took office signaling to Iranians and Arabs, depending on their “unclenching of their fists” that the old U.S. militarist approach to international relations particularly on the issue of Iranian nuclear program will no longer be a U.S. policy.
With this realization, Arab governments particularly Egypt and Saudi Arabia, alarmed by the new U.S. approach, opted to raise their rhetoric against Iran utilizing the pretext of the 14th province comments as part of an orchestrated upmanship against Iran.
The new U.S. administration international policy is moving toward what Suzanne Nossel, the former Deputy U.S. Ambassador to U.N. for Management, termed in her 2004 essay in Foreign Affairs, as Smart Power” which is an integrated approach to foreign policy that combines both Soft and Hard power utilizing all aspects of U.S. influence of culture, trade, sports, diplomacy as well as military if needed. Smart Power was also mentioned by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her confirmation hearings as the new U.S. international approach in order to reshape the U.S. image and foreign policy .The U.S. needs to deal with the Iranian nuclear program in a manner different from the Bush administration which studiously ignored it while using threatening rhetoric against it. Obama’s administration needs Iran cooperation on Iraq and Afghanistan two areas of U.S. foreign policy that are key for the administration to show progress and success in order to re-orient the U.S. foreign policy toward more progressive and liberal Internationalist posture that is key to restore America’s image and prestige among nations.
This new approach worries the Arab states, particularly the small Arab Gulf states who think that a potential U.S. deal with Iran over its nuclear program might come at their expense. In exchange of Iran’s relinquishing its nuclear ambitions, which remains a possibility giving Iran’s previous suspension of its nuclear program in 2003 and 2004, and its cooperation on Iraq and Afghanistan, the thinking in the Arab World holds, that Iran will be allowed to dominate the Gulf region .This thinking if materialized will be an ominous development for the Gulf Arab region that with its own restive Shia citizens as in the case of Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia might see their hold on power contested by their own citizens.
Moreover, Gulf Arab countries might see more confidence in Iran’s behavior to interfere in their internal affairs especially after the elimination of Iraq, ironically with their help, as an Arab power imbued with chauvinistic Arab nationalism that stood against equally chauvinistic Iranian nationalism. Facing their new reality, Arab States led by Saudi Arabia and Egypt are scrambling to form a response to Iran’s emerging regional power, but giving the new U.S. policy and in absence of a collective Arab strategy and a vision for the future, that takes into account economic development and democratic change, Arab leaders might find it very hard to contain Iran’s increasing influence.
* Written for AlArabiya.net. Ali Younes is a Washington based writer and a political analyst. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Iranian meddling in the Arab world will prove to be deadlier than Iran's interference with the plans of the Western world.]
Morocco cut off diplomatic relations with Iran on Friday, accusing Tehran of trying to spread Shia Islam in the kingdom. The tensions were mounted by recent Iranian remarks toward Sunni-led Bahrain that have raised hackles in the Arab world, Morocco’s Foreign Ministry said.
According to the AP, the ministry accused largely Shiite Iran’s Embassy in Rabat of trying to “alter the religious fundamentals of the kingdom” and threaten Morocco’s religious unity. The ministry, in a statement, called Iran’s actions “intolerable interference in the internal affairs of the kingdom.”
The Moroccan press has repeatedly accused the Iranian Embassy of proselytism in recent years. The Iranian ambassador denied the charges as recently as last week.
© 2009 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
Abdelkader Belliraj’s was the figurehead of the Islamist group
A Moroccan-born Belgian man accused of leading an Islamist militant group and committing six murders in Belgium has been imprisoned for life in Morocco.
Abdelkader Belliraj was also convicted by the court in Sale of arms smuggling and threatening state security.
Belliraj was one of more than 30 people, including six Islamist politicians, arrested in February 2008.
During the trial, his lawyer argued he had made visits to militant groups for Belgium’s intelligence services.
But Mohammed Ziane accepted that his client had been found with weapons originally sent to Islamists in Algeria, and that these had later returned to Morocco.
“We cannot argue with court’s decision but it was only the first stage in this trial and we still have to go to the appeal court,” Mr Ziane said after the verdict on Monday.
“What we expect is that the court will be more fair, take their conditions into consideration and base its verdict on concrete and proven facts,” he added.
Belliraj repeatedly told the court: “I never brought weapons into Morocco and deny making any attempts to overthrow the regime.”
State prosecutors had initially sought the death penalty for Belliraj.
The case divided Morocco with some political parties and human rights groups springing to the defence of the arrested politicians.
Asks question: why doesn’t Pak. publish its proof of Indian sponsorship of Baloch struggle.Bugti says:”Show it to the world and we will answer the charges.”If it is not the Indian hand destabilizing Pakistan’s provinces, then it must be Pakistan itself causing the unrest for political reasons, or else their friends in the CIA.
CIVIL ACTION No.________
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR BALTIMORE CITY, MARYLAND
FOR JUDICIAL REVIEW OF DECISION ORDER NO. 82741
OF THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION OF MARYLAND
16 Saint Paul Street, 16th floor,
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
IN THE CASE OF THE APPLICATION OF UNISTAR
NUCLEAR ENERGY, LLC AND UNISTAR NUCLEAR
OPERATING SERVICES, LLC FOR
A CERTIFICATE OF PUBLIC CONVENIENCE
AND NECESSITY TO CONSTRUCT A POWER PLANT
AT CALVERT CLIFFS IN CALVERT COUNTY, MARYLAND
ORDER NO. 82741
The Petitioner, Cathy Garger, states as follows in her Petition for Judicial Review:
(1) This petition for judicial review is filed pursuant to the provisions of Maryland Annotated Code that applies to Public Utility Companies §3–201 (b) which states the petitioner’s ability to “challenge a decision by the Commission to act by order rather than regulation shall seek judicial review of the Commission’s decision within 30 days after the Commission issues a final order in that proceeding.” This petition is timely as it is submitted within 30 days from June 26, 2009, the day the final Order 82741 was rendered.
(2) According to Maryland §3–202, Petitioner Garger has standing to request a judicial review as she is named as a “person in interest” and, as such, is listed on the Service List of Maryland Public Service Commission Case 9127. Furthermore, as stated in §3–201, Petitioner Garger is “A party to a Commission proceeding,” having participated in the Case 9127 Public Hearing on August 19, 2008, as well as having submitted testimony on the matter of the Air Quality Hearing held on March 9, 2009.
At least five people have been killed after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a concert hall in the Russian republic of Chechnya, reports say.
Four police officers who tried to stop the suicide bomber were killed at the scene in Grozny, the Chechen capital, on Sunday and one other died on the way to hospital, the ITAR-TASS news agency quoted a senior security official as saying.
Four more people were taken to the local hospital, one of them in a serious condition, the security source said.
Officials said that only a few of the casualties were civilians as the explosion occurred some time before the the performance when spectators were only just starting to arrive.
“The suicide bomber triggered his explosive device when he was stopped by policemen outside the Grozny concert hall at a security checkpoint,” a senior city official, told the Reuters news agency.
“It is an attempt to make our forces pull back from the area where a special operation is being carried out, an attempt to make us stop working to destroy the rebels,” he said.
“We will not stop until we have eliminated all the rebels who target peaceful citizens, the security forces, the military and members of religious orders.”
Chechnya had become relatively stabilise after Kadyrov took power in 2007, leading Moscow to declare an end to military operations in the republic in April.
But since then there have been a number of bloody attacks.
Also Sunday, four suspected separatist fighters were found dead after an explosion in a car in the Nazran district of Ingushetia.
On Saturday, Officials said that at least eight suspected separatist fighters were killed by security forces in two separate incidents in Chechnya and Ingushetia.
Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, gave Kadyrov’s Chechen forces free rein to operate against armed groups in the neighbouring republics of Dagestan and Ingushetia after Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, the Ingush leader, was badly injured in an assassination attempt on June 22.
1. In Indonesia, the so called bomber named Achmadi has been released by the police.
After the 17 July 2009 Jakarta hotel bombings, a villager called Achmadi surrendered himself to Indonesia’s police.
According to the mainstream media, Achmadi told the police that Noordin Top had trained him to become a suicide bomber.
Central Java police chief Alex Bambang Riatmodjo claimed that an unexploded bomb had been found at Achmadi’s house.
Now, a national police spokesman has said the information was not true.
The Central Java police chief now says Achmadi is being released.
It looks as if some of the police in Jakarta are under instructions to tell the truth?
And the evidence concerning humble patsies is being rejected?
2. After the Jakarta hotel bombings, closed circuit television footage from the hotels was shown to the public.
According to John McBeth, at Asia Times, on 27 July 2009, this footage had “clearly been edited by police.”
3. The alleged bombers were supposed to have been staying in Room 1808 at the Marriott.
But the occupants of that room were “incapable of flushing the stand-up toilet”.
This could suggest that they were simple villagers, acting as patsies, rather than sophisticated terrorists.
4. Reportedly, a master plan for bombings was found after the explosions in Bali in 2005.
Allegedly, this plan was found on the computer of Azahari bin Husin, Noordin’s right-hand man, who was allegedly shot dead during a police raid on his hideout in November 2005
Malay words are found in the plan and “the sentence structure is almost English in nature”.
Could this be the work of an American linked to the CIA?
American economists think the world can’t afford to let go of the dollar’s reserve currency status. The world is about to teach them differently. By Robert Morley
What do China, India, Brazil, Russia, France and Germany have in common? These countries most often can’t agree on anything. But they are united in one strange—and ominous—way. They blame the United States for wrecking the global economy. And they think the dollar is the wrecking ball.
One rock-solid, foundational belief underpins almost all economic theory in America: faith in the dollar’s unassailable status as the world’s reserve currency. Foreigners hold so many dollars that they can’t afford to stop buying them, the theory goes. Therefore the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency is sound. But the dollar is now coming under a concentrated attack. Are American economists about to get schooled?
Has a dollar-killer been minted?
Angela Merkel summed up the dollar-skeptic viewpoint last year. “Excessively cheap money in the U.S. was a driver of today’s crisis,” she told the German parliament. And America’s solution—even more cheap money—was just setting the world up for another crisis, she said. It was just a matter of time.
The irony is that America is completely blind to the catastrophe heading its way. As the economic crisis unfolded at the end of last year, investors made a mad rush out of global stock markets and into other assets. The biggest beneficiary of the panic was the one market large enough and liquid enough to handle the trillions of dollars being moved: the U.S. dollar market. This caused the dollar to surge in value.
America grossly misdiagnosed the demand for dollars as a vote of confidence in the U.S. economic system. In fact, it was primarily a case of investors looking for a place they could quickly and easily get their money in—and out.
Now that the initial panic has subsided, the dollar’s international purchasing power has resumed its former downward trajectory. Since the post-crisis high in March, the dollar has fallen by a portfolio-shredding 10 percent.
America’s foreign creditors are again questioning the wisdom of holding so many U.S. dollars. And they’re looking for a way out.
“Leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and China are demanding a greater stake in the management of the global economy and challenging the dollar as the primary denomination for world reserves,” reported Bloomberg about the recent G-8 summit.
But is dumping the dollar just wishful thinking on the part of these nations? Or is there some tangible alternative? Well, how about this: Some think they’ve already minted a dollar-killer.
Russia’s president is pushing to remove the dollar and reinstate some version of a gold standard. Dmitry Medvedev unveiled a newly minted gold bullion coin that he said was a true “symbol of unity,” and “our desire to solve such issues.” It was a test sample of a new supranational currency referred to as the United Future World Currency. Samples were issued to each of the world leaders attending the G-8 summit.
“We are discussing the creation or, to be more correct, the appearance of new reserve currencies,” said Medvedev.
“Debate” about Bretton Woods is flowery code for an attack on the dollar.What is even more surprising is that the dollar assaults have come not only from perennial U.S. antagonists but also from its more democratic allies. At the G-8 summit, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a complete revamp of the global currency system, saying that the dollar’s supremacy is outdated. “[W]e’ve still got the Bretton Woods system of 1945,” Sarkozy stated on July 9. “Frankly, 60 years afterwards, we’ve got to ask: Shouldn’t a politically multipolar world correspond to an economically multi-currency world?”
Bretton Woods was the historic conference that laid the foundation for a postwar global economy centered on the dollar. “Even if it’s a difficult topic,” Sarkozy said, “There has to be a debate.” “Debate” about Bretton Woods is flowery code for an attack on the dollar.
India too seems to be moving into the anti-dollar camp. Suresh Tendulkar, an economic adviser to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, is urging the government to diversify its foreign-exchange reserves and hold fewer dollars. India holds over $250 billion worth.
Such a decision could break the U.S. dollar bond market.But the next blow to the dollar may come as a complete surprise to Washington policymakers. Since World War ii, Japan has been a stalwart dollar supporter and a close collaborator with Federal Reserve monetary policy. That may be about to end. For only the second time in 54 years, the opposition in Japan is close to taking over the government. Japan’s economy, like those of the rest of the world, is in severe contraction, and disgruntled voters are upsetting the balance of power and pushing for radical reforms.
Back in May, Masaharu Nakagawa, the chief finance spokesman for the opposition, told the bbc that he was worried about the future value of the dollar. He said that if his party were elected in the upcoming national elections, Japan would refuse to purchase any more U.S. treasuries unless they were denominated in Japanese yen instead of dollars.
Such a decision could break the U.S. dollar bond market.
Japan is America’s second-most important creditor nation—lending the U.S. billions of dollars each year. If Japan won’t lend unless America pays it back in yen, then China and other major lenders may quickly follow suit. This would eliminate America’s ability to use inflation to cheat on its debt payments. America’s debt burden would soar, interest rates would jump, and national default—Argentina-style—could be staring America in the face within months instead of years.
“America is making a terrible mistake which will result in the greatest fall in all of mankind’s history!” Tim Thompson wrote for the Trumpet in 2000. “As soon as America is no longer a safe place for foreign money, that money will be gone. And once the foreign money is gone, it will leave us with a mountain of debt that we cannot repay.”
What Japan is proposing could be the first steps of a great exodus from the U.S. bond market and consequently the end of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
America’s leaders seem blind to the looming dollar revolt. Global economies are in crisis. Unemployment rolls are soaring. People want answers and solutions. The jobless will demand action, and culpable politicians will look for scapegoats and distractions. The first step, blaming the U.S. and its currency for the global recession, has already begun.
A new global currency—and leveraging it to knock the U.S. down—will be the solution.
The highly trained economic theorists who keep telling us that foreigners can’t afford to stop supporting the U.S. are about to get reeducated at Reality U. •