|Written by Andrew Smolski|
|At the moment in México, a protest movement has started called the No Mas Sangre (No More Blood) movement. This movement is attempting to show that people do not support nor wish to continue the war on los narcos, which was started in the 2006 after the election of Felipe Calderón (Partido Accionista Nacional). Calderón began this drug war with the support of the United States through the Merida Initiative and also the verbal backing of President George W. Bush. The point of this war was to eradicate the drug cartels in México, that came into power during the 70 year rule of the Partido Revolucinario Institucional, and also through the loss of strength of the Colombian cartels. However, this drug war has not stopped the drug trade, nor has it made México any more secure for its citizens. Actually, this war has increased the insecurity of Mexican citizens, after more than 31,000 deaths (read homicides; now much nearer to 40,000) over the past 4 years in relation to this erroneous intervention by Calderón and American foreign support. It has reduced tourism, which then has adversely effected the Mexican economy, based on large amounts of tourism to locations such as Cancún, Acapulco, and student tourism to cities such as Cuernavaca and Ciudad de México. This is directly related to the loss of legitimacy to the security of Mexican citizens and foreigners from the drug war that was began by Felipe Calderón. An increase in feminicide, the horrendous murders of innocent children by cartels (most recently in Cuernavaca), and in some states and cities in México the loss of living a normal life without the fear of death hanging from the people’s shoulders. Nothing points to any form of benefit that was derived from this war, actually all facts point towards the opposite. Even when leading figures in the drug cartels are captured, it is not as if there does not exist many more who were already attempting to earn those positions within those criminal organizations. This drug war is across multiple countries but the focus of this paper will be on the cross-section of the US and México within the frame of the causes and effects of the drug war.
It is proper to primarily discuss how the American government and its policies adversely effect the nation-state of México and its citizens, being that this article is addressed to an English speaking audience. Let’s begin with a simple example of how US government policy has negative effects outside of its boundaries, the example of “gun-walking”. The Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) had implemented a program where they were selling guns to people known to smuggle them across the US-Mexican Border (guns laws being stricter in México), and then selling them to los narcos. Their reason was that they were attempting to follow the guns and find out who was purchasing them, but they would lose the trace after it crossed the border. This means that US taxpayers were aiding and abetting criminal organizations in another country by supplying them with weapons. However, this does not mean that all guns are coming from the US, but only to show that US foreign policy is ridiculous in the context of the Mexican drug war. This foolish program has definitively harmed the status of US policy in the eyes of many Mexicans, which would not be the first time. Actually, it is a constantly occurring event, from the construction of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which forcefully removed many rural Mexicans to urban areas through an economic policy that disallowed Mexican farmers to compete against large scale American Agribusiness. Or the constant stream of military hardware and training from America to México that enabled the creation of cartels such as Los Zetas, and a military-industrial complex within México. American foreign policy towards México has proved detrimental time and again, and needs to be reformulated, along with a reformulation of American domestic policy.
The “War on Drugs” domestically has meant the criminalizing of the youth and minorities within the US, and led to a huge boom in the incarcerated population of this country. Even though the US is the largest drug market in the world, the statistics do not show for any drug anything above a fourth of the youth population (Marijuana and Alcohol being the ones near a fourth). Alcohol is the highest percentage, not surprising considering that it is legal after 21, therefore legitimating it within American society. Instead of instituting decriminalization policies (also known as harm-reduction policies) and treatment/prevention programs similar to other European Union countries, it continues wasting billions of dollars on a failing drug war. This drug war has also increased the militarization of the US-México border, along with a possible future violence spill over, which is bound to happen with two highly linked nation-states. This militarization has not stopped drugs from entering the United States or being used, and this was meant to be the goal. And as always with any form of black market, it can lead to corruption of political institutions, not only in México, but as well in the Department of Homeland Security here in the United States. This corruption does not end within government institutions, but impacts uponbusiness ethical practices when large financial institutions launder cartel funds. The drug war then is a large scale problem affecting the social, political, and economical in ways that need to be remedied otherwise it is disastrous for both the United States of America and the United States of México.
Internal to México are also many problems that need to be addressed. The links or imposition of power between México’s political elite and the political elite of other countries has been a constant reason for domestic policies that do not bode well for the citizens of México. Take for instance Canada, where a multitude of mining companies are constantly bidding on land in México. These companies come in destroy land, create unsafe working environments for workers with low pay, and pay basically nothing in taxes or for the land, benefiting the political elite. However, once again this problem along with the massive emigration from rural farms to urban factories has been the result of NAFTA. NAFTA was like having a 200 lb. man fighting a vertically challenged person and expecting a better outcome than the midget being badly bruised and unable to cope with the damage for quite some time. Juarez was a result of this fight, and then the continuation of this process as those urban factory jobs were then shipped to China. Afterwards, what was left was the demoralized, unemployed, and hungry to fight a war for the cartels wanting access across the border. Those people are now fighting a drug war that is hurting Mexican business through loss of investment, loss of trade, and loss of tourism. So, México is itself creating issues through an elite that could careless about sound domestic economic policy which reduces poverty, increases opportunity, and operates without corruption.
The Mexican drug trade is everyone’s problem, it is not a national conflict, but the first real international transnational conflict without standing armies. These are not some dudes in a cave plotting to launch a plane. These are dudes building armored trucks, submarines, and have military grade weaponry. It is linked to the US through the high levels of drug usage, the fact that it has inputted itself through policy and other actions into the fight, and through its horrendous trade deals. México on its side, as has been pointed out by Javier Sicilia, needs to rebuild its institutions so they do not permit impunity and corruption. Without correct remedies business will go down, poverty will increase, along with insecurity. Welcome to a War against your citizens.
By. Andrew Smolski
Andrew Smolski is a contributor at Oilprice.com and specializes in Political/Economic Sociology. His work has been syndicated in many leading online publications and he can be reached email@example.com
|Written by Charles Kennedy|
|Small independent Kenyan energy firms are selling their stakes to large Western-based exploration companies as interest in the east African country’s energy potential increases.
Underpinning the Western interest is the discovery of oil in neighboring Uganda and Mozambique, which have similar geological structures to Kenya, provoking interest by major foreign oil for exploration, Nairobi’s Business Daily reported.
In its latest report, “A Dash for Gas and Oil in East Africa,” Citi Group noted, “We have seen an acceleration in industry activity recently with multiple seismic programs being acquired, more intensive drilling campaigns planned over the next 12 months, and continued deal activity. Total also recently agreed on a farm-in with Anadarko and Cove for five offshore blocks, which highlights the interest of large-cap oil in the region. We see continued interest from the larger players to gain access to the region with a number of smaller players establishing interesting acreage positions.”
Mwendia Nyaga, former National Oil CEO and now an industry consultant said that exploration licenses have been issued to several foreign companies and recent applicants are considering partnerships to gain entry, commenting, “The licensing is unprecedented. All blocks are taken hence the partnerships.”
Waterlogged: Libyan rebel fighters fire at pro-Gaddafi forces as the battle for Sirte enters its final stages
Deserted: The denuded buildings of Sirte will have to be demolished after they were pounded with heavy artillery for weeks
Posted by seumasach
Libye: alerte info – Tripoli et sa banlieue s’embrasent
14th October, 2011
Translated by Cailean Bochanan
Who says that the CNT controls Libya
In living memory the like has never been seen. After 8 months of intense bombardment of a country without declaring war, genocides (Tawerga, Zliten and Sirte), crimes against humanity, the people rise up.
Now that they have announced to the whole world that the mercenaries of NATO have taken control of the country, the big surprise, the great democrats want to stop demonstrations. As a result Tripoli is set alight
We hear of numerous guerilla attacks in Green Square, in Bab al Azizia as well as in the suburbs. Yesterday more than 200 renegades were killed by loyalists forces and the people of Tripoli. Many areas fly the green flag! In a few days Tripoli will revert to being green.
Sirte: 50 NATO mercenaries have been captured! 10 helicopters destroyed since the beginning of the siege of Sirte! And also , yesterday, an ambush at Sirte killed 150 renegades with no losses for the Gaddafi forces. In addition we are hearing of many withdrawals and losses by NATO terrorists. More than 20 lorries loaded with supplies( weapons, food and fuel) have been captured by loyalists. Today a civilian army of more than 500 volunteers has been formed and is leading a brilliant counter attack! One can say that Gaddafi is near to winning the battle for Sirte and Tripoli is becoming green again!
Join us this evening at midnight on the hour for analysis of the days events and news from the front!
[This was the set-up on the ground on the morning of the 13th, before "Al-Qaeda" rebels are forced to retreat (SEE: NTC forces ‘repelled’ from Sirte).]
ALGERIA ISP / According Zengtena, the rebels have infiltrated yesterday, the city of Sirte following a heavy bombardment of NATO aircraft. They were shooting like crazy on the buildings and the civilians in media coverage of the media lies.
This morning, the rebels withdrew from the city of Sirte after heavy human and material losses on their side. They had an unprecedented deluge of fire fighters from the Libyan resistance.
They soon realized despite their weapons and air support from NATO and their lies cut by the CNT amplified by the media lies about the arrest of Gaddafi Moatassem were not enough to bend the Libyan resistance.Combatants men, women and children fought fiercely resistant invaders from Benghazi.
On the map showing the city of Sirte and the positioning of the rebels around Sirte. They retraced their steps after an unprecedented offensive of the Libyan resistance.
The colors are as follows:
The green color of the Libyan resistance forming a shield covering and protecting the city against the traitors Sirte.
The color red represents areas of fighting in the Libyan resistance against the traitors.
Black shows the positioning of rebels around the city of Sirte.
Not to mention that the sea is well-guarded in the Libyan resistance to prevent maritime infiltration e rebels or especially mercanaires West. inchaelah God will protect the city of Sirte and its people against the invaders , the traitors and NATO
LONDON—British officials are preparing to ban Iran’s English-language Press TV, the broadcaster claimed Friday. Regulator Ofcom confirmed that it is considering punitive action but said no decision has yet been made.
The threat of sanctions has been hanging over Press TV since May, when Ofcom ruled that the station broke broadcasting rules by airing a 2009 interview with detained Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari.
Bahari was jailed as a suspected spy following Iran’s disputed presidential elections and said his televised interview had been scripted by his captors, who threatened to execute him unless he cooperated. Ofcom ruled that Press TV never made clear in its segment that Bahari was under duress and unfairly suggested he was biased. Bahari has since been released.
Ofcom spokesman Rhys Hurd denied that a decision had been made but agreed that Press TV could be stripped of its U.K. broadcasting license.
“All options are being considered,” he said.
Press TV is an arm of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, which says it’s pressing Tehran’s case against the “domineering empire of Western media.”
Press TV suggested it had nettled British officials with its critical coverage of the tuition protests in London and the rioting that broke out across England in August. It also noted that a 2010 U.S. State Department cable published by WikiLeaks cited a senior British diplomat as saying that the U.K. was “exploring ways to limit the operations of the IRIB’s Press TV service.”
But the cable went on to note that “U.K. law sets a very high standard for denying licenses to broadcasters” and suggested that any such action was unlikely in the short term.
Iran itself places heavy restrictions on local and foreign journalists — especially since the 2009 elections that secured a second term for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Protests across the country were violently suppressed.
Opposition websites in Iran are often blocked and some satellite stations, like BBC’s Farsi-language channel, are jammed. Journalists and bloggers routinely face arrest or imprisonment.
Press TV: http://www.presstv.ir/
Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting: http://www.irib.ir/
by Craig Murray
A mainstream media source has finally plucked up the courage to publish the widespread concern among MOD, Cabinet Office and FCO officials and military that the Werritty operation was linked to, and perhaps controlled by, Mossad – something which agitated officials have been desperately signaling for some days.
“Officials expressed concern that Fox and Werritty might even have been in freelance discussions with Israeli intelligence agencies” writePatrick Wintour and Richard Norton-Taylor in the Guardian.
As I have been explaining, the real issue here is a British defence secretary who had a parallel advice structure designed expressly to serve the interests of another state and linked to that state’s security services. That is not just a sacking offence, it is treasonable.
It seems to me the questions now starting to be asked about the connection to Israel and possibly to Mossad might well have had a major effect on Fox’s sudden throwing in of the towel. If he did not believe that resigning would stop some further investigation, he might as well have toughed it out over the weekend; nobody has ever accused Fox of being thin-skinned.
The need for answers to my questions to Matthew Gould is in fact now greater, not less.
[The really unusual part about the following piece (which highlights right-wing writers questioning the govt. claims) is that it doesn't even try to spin the doubt to re-validate the govt. claims. Since these are all Republican-leaning sources, it can only be interpreted as a risky political attempt to undermine support for President Obama, no matter what the cost to American plans.]
The alleged Iranian-backed plot to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S. has sparked skepticism among some veteran Iran watchers.
Many longtime Iran watchers are puzzled over the alleged Iranian plot to kill Ambassador Adel al-Jubeir.
According to the criminal complaint, Mansour Arbabsiar, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Texas, conspired with an Iran-based member of the elite Quds Force of the Iranian Republican Guard Corps to murder the ambassador in Washington. The U.S. says they sought to contract the services of a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the hit.
U.S. officials have strongly defended the strength of their case. Iran has stoutly denied it.
Ken Katzman, a veteran Iran analyst for the Congressional Research Service, said the execution of the plot is totally out of character for Iran.
“If the Iranians weren’t totally sure about the ability of their own people to do such a plot in the United States, then they just wouldn’t do it. They would try to attack the Saudis somewhere else, or they would go elsewhere where they could use their own very trusted people,” said Katzman. “They wouldn’t just simply say, we have to carry out this attack in the United States, and we don’t have our own people there so we are going to subcontract to people we are unfamiliar with. That totally just doesn’t add up for those of us who have followed Iranian terrorism for many years.”
Quds Force operatives are known to have killed people outside Iran before, but they usually have been murders of dissidents in Europe and the Middle East. Katzman said, though, the Iranians would not contract out such a sensitive job as murdering an ambassador to an outside group, especially one that is non-Muslim and therefore suspect in Iranian eyes.
But why would the Iranians target the Saudi ambassador, and especially on U.S. soil?
It is true that Iran, a Shi’ite Muslim theocracy, and Saudi Arabia, run by a Saudi hereditary monarchy, have long been at odds. And a 2008 U.S. diplomatic cable released by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks quotes the Saudi ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir as urging the U.S. to attack Iran’s nuclear program.
But, as Charles Faddis, a retired veteran of CIA Middle East operations, said, killing the ambassador in Washington is extraordinarily risky, even foolhardy.
“You know, a target of that profile on U.S. soil – I mean, that’s an act of war and is obviously going to provoke a response. And you have to wonder why they would think that’s in their interest as we’re leaving Iraq and clearly winding down in Afghanistan, and virtually bankrupt,” said Faddis. “Everything would tell them that time is on their side. So why come stick their finger in our eye right now? That doesn’t make sense.”
Kamran Bokhari, chief Middle East analyst at the private intelligence firm Stratfor, points out that such a murder in the U.S. capital would drive Washington and Riyadh closer together.
“From the Iranian point of view, the United States and Saudi Arabia are already very tightly aligned. The Iranians are having a hard time dealing with the status quo as is,” said Bokhari. “Why would they want to do something that would even pull those two forces together even more tightly? And so it just doesn’t make sense.”
From what little that is known, it appears the plan did not get very far. Katzman said the key defendant, Arbabsiar, may have approached Iranian intelligence with a plan that they really had no intention of carrying out.
“He appears to have some relations in the Quds forces, and it’s certainly possible he contacted them and maybe they indulged him and didn’t want to say no, or due to familial relationships or whatever, they perhaps didn’t stop him as vigorously as they should have because of the relationship. But the idea that this was a fully vetted and thought-through plan seems to fall apart to me, to my mind,” he said.
Former CIA operations officer Charles Faddis said the Iranians may have been trying to test a potential intelligence asset and got caught doing so.
“Another thing that strikes me as possible is that this individual was trying basically to con the Iranians – in other words, that he approached them with the idea that he’s going to try to build himself up because he’s frankly desperate for money. And so he’s going to represent that he is capable of things he’s really not capable of,” said Faddis. “And then the Iranians take some actions to attempt to flush that out and determine what he is, and is not, capable of, and in the midst of that effort they discover that this whole thing has been under the control of American intelligence and law enforcement from the outset.”
Reports say U.S. officials have traced transfers of nearly $100,000 from Iran to Arbabsiar, which the officials describe as a down payment for the job.
Faddis emphasizes, however, that there are many competing centers of power in Iran, so it also might have been a rogue operation without official sanction.
“You have multiple power centers. So you can clearly have individuals inside whatever we want to call the power structure in Iran who have decided that they want to pursue a much more provocative course of action which the majority would not support. So I think that’s what people are getting at when they talk about rogue elements. So that’s definitely possible,” he said.
But rogue element or not, President Barack Obama said that Iran as a government will be held responsible.
“We believe that even if at the highest levels there was not detailed operational knowledge, there has to be accountability with respect to anybody in the Iranian government engaging in this kind of activity,” the president said.
The State Department said the U.S. and Iran have been in “direct contact” over the plot but offered no further details. Washington and Tehran do not have diplomatic relations.
[In the following Washington Post historical report, outright deception is used to justify use of "New Soviet Union" in describing Putin's custom union, as reporter does somersaults in order to twist the truth. The reference is tacked-on in the last two sentences, the only mention of Putin.]
By Will Englund,
[SITE INTEL is the source of the following media publicity stunt, intended to provide "proof" that Al-Qaeda is real, and to rehabilitate the image of the Al-Qaeda brand (SEE: American al Qaeda operative distributes aid at Somali relief camp).]
MOGADISHU: Islamist extremist group Al-Qaeda has donated food, money and clothes to Somalia in an apparent publicity push that shows its close ties with the Shebab rebels, a monitoring service said Friday.
Citing photos released by the rebels, the Intel Center monitoring group said the aid was delivered at a high-profile ceremony in the country in a bid to cement a stronger support base with the Somali population.
Aid agencies say regular deliveries of much-needed aid in the poverty-stricken country are almost impossible due to the security situation, as rebels routinely steal donated food and medicines, and aid workers are threatened with kidnapping.
The Islamist Shebab rebels waged a four-year battle in Mogadishu to topple the Somali government before suddenly abandoning the majority of its bases in the capital in August. They still control much of the country.
Analysts said internal dissent, dwindling resources and popular support as well as their failure to dislodge the government forced the rebels to give up the bloody campaign.
China on Thursday indicated it was opposed to India engaging in oil and gas exploration projects in the disputed South China Sea, and warned Indian companies against entering into any agreements with Vietnam ahead of External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna’s visit to Hanoi this week.
“Our consistent position is that we are opposed to any country engaging in oil and gas exploration and development activities in waters under China’s jurisdiction,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said, in reply to a question on reports that the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) Videsh Limited was considering exploration projects in two blocks that Vietnam claims.
While Ms. Jiang said she was not aware of reports of Indian involvement in any projects, she stressed China enjoyed “indisputable sovereignty” over the South China Sea and its islands.
“We hope foreign countries will not get involved in the dispute,” she said. “For countries outside the region, we hope they will respect and support countries in the region to solve this dispute through bilateral channels.”
China and Vietnam are among at least ten countries that hold competing claims over the South China Sea and the islands located in its waters.
In June, tensions flared between China and Vietnam over the Spratly and Paracel Islands, following clashes between Chinese and Vietnamese boats.
External Affairs Minister Mr. Krishna will hold talks in Hanoi later this week. Among the issues slated for discussion, according to media reports, is an agreement for oil and gas exploration in two blocks over which Vietnam claims sovereignty, by ONGC Videsh.
China had reportedly voiced its objections to India about the projects, saying that any projects would be “illegal” as China claims sovereignty over the entire South China Sea.
India, however, is likely to go ahead with the projects in the two blocks, which Vietnam says it holds rights to under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
In recent weeks, India, too, has raised concerns over Chinese projects in disputed territory — in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). China has rejected Indian concerns over this issue, stating that it viewed the dispute as one for India and Pakistan to solve.
Ms. Jiang said the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea “did not give any country the right to expand their own exclusive economic zone and continental shelf to other countries’ territories”. The convention, she said, did not negate “a country’s right formed in history that has been consistently claimed”.
Disputes between China, Vietnam and other countries that hold claims to the South China Sea have flared in recent months. While China’s neighbours have blamed an increasingly assertive Chinese navy for stirring tensions, with recent clashes with both Vietnam and the Philippines, Chinese officials have pointed the finger at the United States for fanning the flames with its renewing of military alliances in the region.
Ahead of Mr. Krishna’s visit, India has also stressed its strong support for the “freedom of navigation in international waters, including in the South China Sea”, after the INS Airavat, on a recent goodwill visit to Vietnam, was asked over radio to leave “Chinese waters”.
[If this is all for real, then it is exactly the change that the world has been looking for.]
Americans protesting corporate greed and inequality faced down authorities in parks and plazas across the country ahead of what organisers describe as 24 hours of public action planned Saturday in cities around the world.
Groups spanning the globe from Asia to Europe and in every U.S. state announced demonstrations and other actions. The rapidly growing movement could link a protest that started in New York’s financial district together with longer-standing anti-austerity demonstrations that have raged across Europe amid a roiling economic crisis.
Demonstrators from San Francisco to New York resisted police, with some forming human chains and heckling corporate leaders. Hundreds have been arrested on minor charges in cities across the U.S. since the protests started about a month ago.
Protesters at the heart of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in New York exulted Friday after beating back a plan they said was intended to clear them from the privately owned park where they have slept, eaten and protested for the past month. They said their victory will embolden the movement across the U.S. and beyond.
“We are going to piggy-back off the success of today, and it’s going to be bigger than we ever imagined,” said protester Daniel Zetah.
The owners of Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan had announced plans to temporarily evict the hundreds of protesters before dawn Friday so that the grounds could be power-washed and inspected. But protesters feared it was a pretext to break up the demonstration and swelled their ranks by several thousand, recruiting through Facebook, Twitter and word-of-mouth.
Minutes before the appointed hour, the word came down that the park’s owners, Brookfield Office Properties, had postponed the cleanup. Brookfield said in a statement that it had decided to delay the cleaning “for a short period of time” at the request of “a number of local political leaders.”
As protesters celebrated, about 15 people in a breakaway group were arrested nearby in a clash with police. A legal observer marching with the group refused to move off the street for police and was run over by an officer’s scooter. He fell to the ground screaming and writhing and kicked over the scooter to free his foot before police flipped him over and arrested him.
And a video posted online showed a police officer punching a protester in the side of the head on a crowded street.
Police said the altercation occurred after the man tried to elbow the officer in the face and other people in the crowd jumped on the officer, who was sprayed with a liquid coming from the man’s direction. Police said the man, who escaped and is wanted for attempted assault on an officer, later said in an online interview he’s HIV positive and the officer should be tested medically.
A man who identified himself as the protester, Felix Rivera-Pitre, said in a statement posted online that he didn’t provoke the officer. “I was just doing what everyone else was doing in the march,” he said. “It felt like he was taking his frustrations out on me.”
Rupert Murdoch heckled
In San Francisco, protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement heckled News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch during a speech at an education forum, accusing the media mogul of trying to profit from public education.
“Corporations own all the media in the world. Why should they not own all the education as well?” an activist who identified himself as Joe Hill yelled sarcastically.
Mr. Murdoch appeared unfazed. “It’s OK, a little controversy makes everything more interesting,” he said to audience applause before continuing his speech.
In Denver, dozens of police in riot gear herded protesters away from the Colorado state Capitol grounds, dragging some and arresting about two dozen as they dismantled the encampment the protesters have held for three weeks.
In Trenton, the New Jersey state capital, protesters were ordered to remove tents near a war memorial. Organizers in Des Moines, Iowa, warned of a possible “big conflict” Friday night after the state denied their permit to continue overnight protests at the state Capitol.
San Diego police used pepper spray to break up a human chain formed by anti-Wall Street demonstrators at a downtown plaza where they have camped for a week.
In Philadelphia, protester Matt Monk, a freelance writer, was elated by the news out of New York. “That means at the very least, the powers-that-be, wherever they are, know that they have to contend with us in a less heavy-handed way,” he said.
A call for mass protests on Saturday originated a month ago from a meeting in Spain, where mostly young and unemployed people angry at the country’s handling of the economic crisis have been demonstrating for months. It was reposted on the Occupy Wall Street website and has been further amplified through social media.
South Korean activists have pledged to bring 1,000 people into the capital’s Yoeuido financial district and in front of Seoul City Hall to protest inequality.
Protests in Italy, Canada, U.K.
Rome is girding for major protests Saturday by demonstrators known as the “indignati.” As Premier Silvio Berlusconi survived a no-confidence vote in Parliament, protesters outside shouted “Shame!” and hurled eggs toward the legislative building.
Italian TV reports from Milan showed about 20 young people trying unsuccessfully to enter a building where Goldman Sachs has an office, and spraying red paint on the entrance.
Protesters in London vowed to occupy the London Stock Exchange on Saturday. Nights of rioting rocked the British capital in August after the fatal police shooting of a 29-year-old man.
In Canada, protests were planned for Saturday in cities including Montreal and Vancouver. In Toronto, demonstrators plan to gather at Canada’s main stock exchange. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he doubted Canadians would be as angry as their neighbours to the south as Canadian banks have not received a U.S.-type bailout. He declined to comment when asked if he was concerned about a possible repeat of street violence that Toronto experienced at the G-20 summit last year.
In the United States, politicians in both President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party and the opposition Republican Party struggled to come up with a response to the growing nationwide movement. Democrats have been largely supportive but also wary of endorsing criticism of Mr. Obama’s rescue of big banks in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. The bank bailout was launched in the last months of President George W. Bush’s administration.
Republicans at first criticised the demonstrations but have shifted their tone in recent days. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor warned of “growing mobs” but later said the protesters were “justifiably frustrated.” In Tuesday’s Republican presidential debate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich referred to the protesters as “left-wing agitators.”
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made a reference to the New York protest in a speech at The Economic Club of New York. “The protests happening just a few miles from here ought to be a reminder to all of us that we have a great deal of work to do to live up to the expectations of the American people,” she said Friday.
And a group of 100 authors including Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelists Jennifer Egan and Michael Cunningham signed an online petition declaring their support for “Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy Movement around the world.”
The proliferation of madrassa education in Pakistan has contributed to labour market mismatches. According to the Pakistan government’s own statistics in 2008 alone twice as many students were enrolled in the 12,500 madrassas than in the 124-odd universities.
Given the curriculum taught in madrassas, most graduates are ill-equipped for gainful employment in a knowledge-based economy. Such graduates, frustrated by their limited or non-existent employment prospects, have often gravitated towards militancy and extremism.
Madrassas in Pakistan flourished under late General Ziaul Haq who used Islamisation of the state and the society to prolong his rule. Whereas the population increased by 29 per cent during 1972 and 1981, the number of graduates from religious schools in Pakistan increased by 195 per cent during the same period. This resulted in an oversupply of graduates from religious schools who had limited employment prospects.
The military and civil governments that followed the Zia regime also did little to address the dramatic increase in the number of madrassas and the students enrolled in such institutions. The number of madrassas jumped from 2,800 in 1988 to 9,900 in 2002. The Deobandi madrassas saw the largest increase during that period reaching a total of 7,000 institutions. In fact, the increase in the number of Deobandi madrassas was higher than the number of all other madrassas combined.
Professor Jamal Malik, who holds the Islamic Studies chair at Erfurt University in Germany, was amongst the first to undertake a systematic study of “colonialisation of Islam” where he focussed on how religious education was transformed under late General Zia. In 1987, Professor Malik highlighted the labour market mismatch for the thousands of madrassa graduates whose religious training was out-of-step with the skills needed to be employed in the civilian workforce.
The madrassa graduates were initially disadvantaged in the competitive labour markets because their asnaad (diplomas) were not recognised by those outside the religious establishment. The fix was however provided by the Zia regime in 1982 when the University Grants Commission decreed that madrassa diplomas were equivalent to an MA in Arabic or Islamic Studies.
Despite the equivalency for academic credentials, the madrassa graduates did not experience any meaningful increase in their employability in the urban employment markets where the services sector had emerged as the major provider of employment. The Zia regime tried to generate employment for the unemployed religious graduates by introducing Arabic and other religious subjects in the school curricula. However, the supply of religious graduates far exceeded the demand resulting in a large number of disgruntled and frustrated madrassa graduates whose numbers continued to swell in the decades following the Zia regime.
According to Professor Malik, the armed forces tried to offer reprieve to the burgeoning number of unemployed madrassa graduates. Under General Zia, the army took out advertisements in madrassa publications, such as Al-Haq (Akora Khattak), encouraging graduates to join the forces as soldiers or in other capacities.
Professor Malik’s study exposed the systematic spatial and socio-economic trends instrumental in the backgrounds of madrassa students. Most graduates of the Deobandi madrassas came from rural and economically deprived parts of Balochistan and (formally) NWFP. On the other hand, most students in Barelvi madrassas were of middle or lower middle class background belonging to semi-urban parts of Punjab. And whereas the growth of the Deobandi madrassas outpaced the rest, the madrassas operated by Barelvis, Ahle-Hadiths, and Jamat-i-Islami also experienced resurgence under the Zia regime.
The Deobandi madrassas, which grew at a faster rate in the Pashtun areas, were also more radical and closely linked with the war against the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. The Deobandi madrassas have continued to become even more radicalised over the years. In a recent study of religious institutions in AhmedpurSharqi (East), S. H. Ali found that 80 per cent of the 166 Deobandi madrassas were involved in sectarian activities compared to only 25 per cent of the 166 Barelvi madrassas.* At the same time, seven out of 10 Shia madrassas were found to be involved in sectarian activities.
Deobandis were not the only ones who were mobilised to serve in militias fighting the Soviet Army and its allies in Afghanistan. Barelvis and others, including Shias, were also coopted in the great game. The Lebanon-based Hezbollah was mobilised to convince Shias in Afghanistan and Pakistan to join Deobandis and others in the fight against the Soviets. In early nineties, the then Hezbollah Chief, Sheikh Abbas Al-Musawi, showed up in Pakistan where he met with not just the madrassa students, but also addressed students enrolled in universities in Peshawar.
The battle-hardened graduates of madrassas, who had served in Afghanistan, returned initially to a hero’s welcome during mid- to late-80s. Given their persistent lack of employable skills required in the services sector and despite their marshal prowess earned in Afghanistan, the madrassa graduates continued to face the same dim employment prospects.
Professor Jamal Malik sensed the hazards latent in an oversupply of religious youth who were armed and laureates of guerrilla warfare. As early as in 1987, he ominously warned that the large number of madrassa graduates in the future would result in “a very high probability that the Government will be faced with an enormous problem in the next five to ten years to come.”
By mid-90s, as per Professor Malik’ stark warnings, the Taliban (lead by the graduates of mostly Deobandi madrassas in Pakistan) and their allies had marched out of Pakistan in all different directions. Years later, the same madrassa graduates returned to Pakistan to start an armed struggle against the State, which has resulted in the violent death of over 37,000 Pakistanis and at the same time has destabilised the state and the society.
While Professor Malik had warned against the threats posed by an army of unemployed madrassa graduates much before others, there was however no shortage of warnings by other notables against creating such militias. In October 1996, when the Taliban were busy taking control of Afghanistan in a violent struggle against other Afghans, Brahma Chellaney, a professor of security studies at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, warned the world about the folly of jumping in bed with the Taliban. He wrote: “Whatever its political future, the Taleban is likely to swell the ranks of Afghan war alumni waging international terrorism.”
Later in May 1999, Ahmed Shah Masood also warned Pakistan and the rest of what to expect from the Taliban once they were done with Afghanistan. Masood knew well of the Taliban’s motives who wanted to “impose their version of Islam in Afghanistan, and then export it elsewhere.” He was prophetic in his assessment of the inherent risks of a complete takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, which he shared with the Sydney Morning Herald: “If we don’t resist they will go on to Uzbekistan or Pakistan. They can’t keep still.”
The challenge remains as to how one can integrate madrassa graduates in the workforce, thus preventing them from joining extremist organisations. The madrassa reforms, which advocate introducing English, math and science in the madrassa curricula, have largely been ineffective and ill-conceived. Such reforms fail to appreciate the self-selection bias inherent in madrassa enrolments. Those who are more likely to fail in English, math and science subjects end up in madrassas. Revising the curriculum by adding these subjects will lead to higher failure rates, which would further add to frustration of madrassa students.
Instead of teaching English or math, I would recommend vocational training for all madrassa students. Despite the economic hardship, Pakistan boasts a growing, albeit struggling at times, middle class that sustains the demand for new homes, cars, and motorcycles. Pakistan needs electricians, plumbers, motor mechanics and other similar craftsmen who can demand a decent wage in the current market place. Furthermore, with some technical experience gained in Pakistan, the madrassa graduates can search for similar work in the Middle East where they can earn higher wages for their skills, which will also include some fluency in Arabic.
Without any vocational training for madrassa graduates we will only compound our security concerns in Pakistan.
Source: S. H. Ali. Pakistani Madressahs and rural underdevelopment in Madressahs in South Asia: teaching terror? Edited by Jamal Malik.Routledge 2008.pp. 94.
Murtaza Haider, Ph.D. is the Associate Dean of research and graduate programs at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
[From all available evidence it seems apparent that the second Afghan civil war has already gotten underway. Whenever Northern Alliance forces tire of their self-restraint the ISAF forces will be fighting two wars there, one against the Taliban and a kind of peacemaking mission, to keep the two sides apart. This will create conditions necessary for the US to throw restraint to the wind (to hell with collateral losses), allowing the resumption of the full-scale bombing campaign seen in the early days of operation "Enduring Freedom." This is the only thing that will allow American commanders to regain the ground lost since then and to empower the Northern Alliance forces to rule with an iron hand (SEE: Rabbani’s assassination–Today’s Masoud Moment, Afghan War Takes a Turn for the Worse).]
KABUL: Two drivers were killed in a suicide attack on a US-run development base in the relatively peaceful north of Afghanistan, a provincial police chief said Saturday.
The top policeman in Panjshir province, Mohammad Qasim Jangalbagh, said four suicide attackers had targeted the US Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) facility in the district of Rokha, leaving two guards also wounded.
He said the four attackers had approached the base, one inside a four-wheel drive vehicle and the others on foot.
“An explosion targeted the PRT in Panjshir left two drivers dead and two guards of the PRT wounded,” said Jangalbagh.
He said the drivers had been bringing fuel supplies to the base when it came under attack.
Isaf spokesman Christopher Pewitt confirmed the incident but had no record of fatalities.
“We can confirm a suicide attack on the PRT early this morning in Panjshir. There were no casualties to ISAF. Civilians were injured in the blast,” he said, without giving further details.
DERA ISMAIL KHAN: A US missile strike killed at least six suspected militants in northwestern Pakistan near the Afghan border Saturday, two Pakistani intelligence officials said, in the third such American missile attack in as many days.
The officials said four missiles slammed into a compound near the border town of Angore Adda in the South Waziristan tribal region. The strike was targeting fighters of Maulvi Nazir, a militant commander who is accused of working with the Taliban and al-Qaeda to direct cross-border attacks, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Nazir is believed to have an agreement with Pakistani authorities that they will leave him alone so long as his men refrain from carrying out attacks on Pakistani soil.
Since 2008, Washington has regularly used drone-fired missiles to target insurgents and their hideouts in Pakistani tribal regions where local and Afghan factions like the Haqqanis and al-Qaeda men are hiding. US officials do not acknowledge the CIA-led program publicly, and Pakistan protests the strikes, which are unpopular.
Saturday’s strike was the latest in a string of missile attacks targeting the militant-infested border region.
On Friday, US missiles killed four unidentified people in the North Waziristan tribal region. A day earlier, a missile attack in North Waziristan killed Janbaz Zadran. US officials say Zadran was a top commander in the Haqqani network and had helped orchestrate attacks in Kabul and southeastern Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, police said Saturday they had arrested a Russian and two nationals from Azerbaijan in Lakki Marwat, a town located near North Waziristan.
It was not clear how the men reached the region, which is off limits to foreigners, and authorities said they were still investigating to determine whether the men had any links to militant groups.