Friday, November 28, 2003

Exit Strategy

With their article in The Weekly Standard, Robert Kagan and William Kristol have done a good job of articulating Bush's exit strategy in Iraq:

What has also become clear this past week is that Bush is determined to promote democracy in Iraq--and right now. This is a significant step forward. Up until recently, senior Bush officials have tended to avoid using the word "democracy" to describe the goals of American policy. In the Pentagon and elsewhere it has been thought that this sets the bar too high and implies a lengthy American commitment to Iraq, a commitment of money, energy, and troops. The most urgent task, as Donald Rumsfeld and General John Abizaid have been inclined to see it, has been to bring the levels of U.S. forces in Iraq down and turn over the task of security to the Iraqis as quickly as possible. Others in the administration have adopted the familiar argument that the Iraqi people are not yet ready for democracy and have tried to push any real elections as far into the future as possible.

President Bush this week slammed the door on this kind of thinking. First, he set the bar for success high: democracy. The new plan for a handover of sovereignty to the Iraqis calls for regional caucuses to elect a transitional legislature by next May, with general elections planned for the end of 2005. We would prefer to see the elections moved up, but even under the current schedule Iraqis will have a chance to begin participating in democratic politics almost immediately. That is a giant step toward the goal and the commitment that Bush articulated this past week: The United States "will meet our responsibilities in Afghanistan and Iraq by finishing the work of democracy we have begun."

So much for exit strategies. Bush has made it clear that the only exit strategy from Iraq is a victory strategy, with victory defined as "democracy." "We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq and pay a bitter cost of casualties and liberate 25 million people only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins. We will help the Iraqi people establish a peaceful and democratic country in the heart of the Middle East." That commitment may turn out to be the most important of Bush's presidency, perhaps the most important of the post-Cold War era.

Someone should give the article to Wesley Clark, who, along with others, has often said that Bush lacks an exit strategy:

Clark's most often-repeated charge against Bush, however, is that he has "no clear definition of success" in Iraq, "no international mandate, no integrated political-military strategy to win the peace and no exit strategy."


John Edwards

The New Republic slams John Edwards. (No direct link, for subsribers only)

More than a year after a famously unsteady appearance as Tim Russert's guest on "Meet the Press," John Edwards returned and showed a new confidence. Unfortunately, he also showed flashes of a new opportunism that has marked his campaign in recent months.

At one point, Russert confronted Edwards with a statement he made in September about the president's appropriations bill for postwar Iraq: "We have young men and women in a shooting gallery over [in Iraq] right now. It would be enormously irresponsible for any of us not to do what's necessary to support them," Edwards said at the time, adding, "I will vote for what needs to be there to support our troops that are on the ground." Edwards, of course, not only wound up voting against the $87 billion plan; he actually ran ads attacking it. His explanation? Edwards didn't want to vote for a "blank check"--never mind that the bill specified, in great detail, just how the money would be spent.

Ouch! Edwards, no doubt, flip-flopped in order to be more attractive to the angry left, who seem dedicated to Howard Dean. Funny thing is, with or without the angry left, both are likely to lose.


Thursday, November 27, 2003

Yemen

Saddam's wife and daughter are reported to be living in Yemen:

Saddam Hussein's wife and her youngest daughter are currently living in Yemen, a newspaper reported here on Thursday.

Quoting Arab sources, Al-Rai Al-Aam said Sajida Kheirallah Telfah and daughter Hala as well as two children Sajida adopted prior to the fall of Saddam's regime, were all in Sanaa.

The sources said Saddam's wife opted not to follow her eldest daughters Raghad and Rana, who were granted asylum in Jordan where they arrived from Syria, having taken refuge there two weeks after the US-led war against their father's regime.

Sajida also spent some time in Syria before settling in Sanaa in a house provided by the Yemeni authorities, the Kuwaiti daily said.

Sajida married her cousin Saddam 40 years ago in Egypt, where he had fled after taking part in a failed assassination bid against then Prime Minister Abdel Karim Kassem.

However, Yemen denies this:

A YEMENI official overnight denied a Kuwaiti press report that Saddam Hussein's wife and her youngest daughter were in Sanaa, but confirmed that the duo had been invited to take refuge in the country.

Quoting Arab sources, the Al-Rai Al-Aam daily said Sajida Kheirallah Telfah and daughter Hala as well as two children Sajida adopted prior to the fall of Saddam's regime, were all in the country's capital.

But an official from Yemen's foreign ministry denied the report.

"The information about the recent arrival in Sanaa of Mrs Sajida and her daughter Hala is wrong," the source said on condition of anonymity.

"Yemen is not opposed to welcoming family members of former Iraqi officials ... because (their) wives and children had nothing to do with what happened in Iraq," the source added.

Meanwhile, Yemeni authorities have arrested one major Al-Qaeda leader and are on the trail of another:

Yemeni security forces are pursuing a second top al-Qaida figure after capturing the alleged mastermind of the terror network's most dramatic attacks in Yemen, the bombings of the destroyer USS Cole and a French oil tanker, government officials said Wednesday.

Abu Ali al-Kandahari is one of two top al-Qaida leaders in Yemen, according to security reports published in the Yemeni press.

The other, Mohammed Hamdi al-Ahdal, was arrested by security forces that surrounded his hide-out west of the capital, San'a, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday. Four men, believed to be al-Ahdal's guards, were also arrested.

Al-Kandahari is believed to be hiding in the northern provinces of Marib and Jawf, and security forces are closing in on him, said officials, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.

He is reported to have replaced Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi after he was killed by a missile fired from a U.S. drone last year. Al-Harethi was thought to have been Osama bin Laden's top deputy in Yemen.

And to top off the Yemen news, the country has recently decided to send their "state-hired Muslim clerics" to a traning program. The goal is to "eliminate militant language" in their sermons.

Yemen reportedly has started a training program for state-hired Muslim clerics, or imams, to eliminate militant language in their sermons.

So far, 200 imams have registered to begin the course, World Tribune.com reported Tuesday.

Yemeni officials said the course by the Islamic Affairs Ministry will seek to revise sermons given Fridays to crowds in mosques. The sermons will eliminate references to jihad, or holy war, against the West or Israel.

In addition, officials said, imams will voice opposition to Muslim suicide bombing attacks. They said mosques have often been used by al-Qaida and related groups to recruit suicide bombers and those for other missions.


Al-Qaeda in Gloucester

The Brits have arrested an Al-Qaeda minion who might have ties to American "shoe bomber" Richard Reid.

Police investigating a man suspected of having connections with al-Qaeda say explosives have been recovered at his house in Gloucester.

A 24-year-old man was arrested earlier on Thursday under the Terrorism Act.

Around 100 homes in Gloucester were evacuated as police searched the British suspect's home.

On Thursday evening, Scotland Yard said explosives had been found there and removed safely.

[...]

Police are believed to be investigating possible links between his arrest and the case of "shoe bomber" Richard Reid, who was sentenced to life for trying to blow up a US passenger plane.

Michael Moore, never one to miss a beat, uses the case of Richard Reid to make the claim that our national security policy is run by tobacco lobbyists.


500 to train in Jordan

500 Iraqis have arrived in Jordan to begin police training:

A first batch of 500 Iraqi policemen and troops will begin an eight-week training session in Jordan in December, an official told AFP on Wednesday.

“A first group of 500 policemen and troops are expected to arrive in Jordan in December to undergo a training session that will last eight weeks,” the official said.

He said that the police recruits will train in facilities erected in eastern Jordan while the troops will take their courses in the military academy in Amman.

According to the official, this initial training session is aimed at “forming instructors” who will later train other policemen and troops inside Iraq.A second group of 1,000 recruits is also expected in Jordan “quickly,” the official said.


Japan, Qatar, SOFA

When Japan sends its troops to Iraq it would like to keep its transport planes in Qatar. However, Japan and Qatar can not seem to argee upon the terms that would govern the Japanese while there.

Negotiations between Japan and Qatar for a status of forces agreement to cover a Self-Defense Forces dispatch to the Mideast country to support reconstruction in Iraq have hit a snag over Qatar's request to keep contents of the accord confidential, government sources said Monday.

The talks effectively broke down last month when Japan turned down Qatar's request, the sources said.

A Foreign Ministry official said there is no precedent for Japan to conclude an accord with a foreign country whose details cannot be revealed.

The SOFA was to stipulate, among other things, how SDF personnel were to be treated in the event they are suspected of committing crimes while stationed in Qatar.

The two sides also failed to come to terms over the criminal penalties that would be meted out under Islamic law, the sources said.

Islamic countries in the region are nervous about stationing foreign troops in their territory for fear of antagonizing their neighbors. The failure of the talks may place limits on SDF activities when they are deployed.

According to the sources, Qatar is believed to have signed SOFAs with several countries. However, contents of the agreements have not been disclosed and Qatar has asked the countries not even to announce that such agreements have been signed.

Tokyo has been seeking to conclude the SOFA before dispatching its troops to Iraq and vicinity.

Japan hopes to base transport planes in Qatar and Kuwait, where U.S. bases are already established. It has already reached a basic agreement with Kuwait to sign a SOFA.

Seems to me that Qatar is being fairly reasonable while Japan is being unnecessarily petty.


Wednesday, November 26, 2003

The Angry Left strike, pour human blood on walls

The Angry Left have struck in Ithaca. This is a particularly disgusting attack, and I find it alarming that peaceful protests do not seem to be good enough for the Angry Left anymore.

At 3:30pm, four people from the Ithaca Catholic Worker Community poured blood in and outside the military recruitment center in Cayuga Mall, in Ithaca, NY (near TJ Max), declaring that the slaughter of the innocent of Iraq is wrong.

Peter DeMott, Daniel Burns, Teresa and Clare Grady all entered the office with jars filled with human blood which they poured up on the walls, door and bay window, on the flag, on the stand-up cut-outs of smiling military recruits, and over a body bag which they had brought representing the American soldiers who may die in this next onslaught on Iraq.


India, US forge closer ties

The US and India are set to enter in to an agreement to share military research data. While, on the whole, I think this is a positive step, I find it interesting that while the US and India seem to be moving closer together, India seems to be getting increasingly close to other, not necessarily pro-US, countries such as China, Syria, and Iran. India was also against the Iraq war. Like I said, I believe that the US should become closer to India for various reasons, including the fact that it is a democratic country with great economic potential. But I find it disheartening that India is getting closer to countries, such as Iran and Syria, who openly support terrorism. One would think that, given India's ongoing problem with Pakistan and Kashmir, it would know better.

India and United States are set to sign a breakthrough agreement on sharing classified military research data, according to sources on both sides.

The Master Information Exchange Agreement would mark the beginning of a new phase that would be far reaching in bilateral defence relations, officials involved in negotiations said.

According to indications the US side has hinted that the agreement would have to be signed by the defence minister or the defence secretary.

"The agreement provides a framework for exchange of classified research data in defence and thus opens a door shut till now in the bilateral front," a US official told rediff.com.

He said the agreement would take the present bilateral military relations, 'largely limited to joint exercises, high level visits and some military purchases' to a new plane where 'military scientists from both sides could be carrying out research in areas of common interest'.


Japanese troops to be trained, liberal rules of engagement

Japan is starting to train the troops that will be sent to Iraq. They will be given liberal rules of engagement, as opposed to the strict rules issued to Japanese troops elsewhere.

In preparation for their planned dispatch to Iraq, Ground Self-Defense Force units will begin training this week to deal with terrorist attacks, it was learned Sunday.
The decision was made independently by the Defense Agency, in view of the fact that the government has been unable to make a final decision on the troop deployment given the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, according to sources.

The training will involve the GSDF's Northern Army, headquartered in Sapporo, which is widely expected to provide the main component of the units to be sent to Iraq to assist in reconstruction work, the sources said.

The units will study battle tactics that meet the needs of the current situation in Iraq, where suicide bombings and rocket fire have led to scores of casualties for foreign troops. They will also be taught how to deal with "prisoners," the sources said.

According to the sources, the Defense Agency has drawn up rules of engagement that stipulate the conditions under which SDF personnel can use their weapons within the parameters of the special law that paved the way for their dispatch to Iraq as well as other domestic laws.

Under the rules, the SDF will be allowed to fire in such situations as when:

Suspicious vehicles try to force their way toward SDF camps despite warnings.

The other party points a gun toward an SDF member and prepares to fire.

Japanese nationals or foreigners who visit the SDF camps are shot at.

These rules are less stringent than those on previous SDF overseas missions, under which Japanese troops were only allowed to use weapons for self-defense.


Attacks decline

Attacks against US troops in Iraq are becoming less frequent.

Attacks on American troops in Iraq have declined in the last two weeks and insurgents are increasingly targeting Iraqis working with the U.S.-led coalition in an effort to intimidate them, the top U.S. civilian and military leaders here said Tuesday.

Another international humanitarian organization announced it was curtailing its operations in Iraq because of the deteriorating security situation.

Chief administrator L. Paul Bremer said the insurgents' recent attacks on the coalition itself were not having the desired effect, so they were turning to Iraqis who help occupation forces.

"The security situation has changed," Bremer said at a press conference with Gen. John Abizaid, the chief of the U.S. Central Command.

"They have failed to intimidate the coalition," he said. "They have now begun a pattern of trying to intimidate innocent Iraqis. They will not succeed ... If Saddam taught the Iraqis nothing else it was how to endure the depredations of thugs."

Abizaid said that the number of daily attacks on coalition forces were down by about half over the last two weeks. He gave no figures but U.S. officials have said U.S. forces were being attacked on average of 30-35 times a day.


Tuesday, November 25, 2003

International community comes knocking

Once again, the US is being asked to go above and beyond its responsibilities by the International Community.

Georgia's new leaders, boosted by United States support for the bloodless ousting of president Eduard Shevardnadze, sought urgent financial aid yesterday and called for order and stability after the country's "velvet revolution".

A senior economic aide close to the interim president said Georgia would ask Washington for $US5 million ($A7 million) to stage new elections, after a discredited November 2 parliamentary ballot led to Mr Shevardnadze's downfall.

I wonder if the UN will become upset if the US takes this unilateral action?


Bank records

The FBI is subpoenaing Saudi Arabian bank records in an effort to find out if funds being spent in the US by the Saudi government are going to terrorist groups.

The FBI has subpoenaed records for dozens of bank accounts belonging to the Saudi embassy, in an unprecedented move that has strained relations with a close ally in the war on terrorism.

The move is part of an investigation into whether any of the $US300 million ($A415 million) the Saudi embassy spends in the United States each year ends up in the hands of Muslim extremists, US and Saudi officials said.

This year officials from the two nations established a joint taskforce to track terrorist financing in Saudi Arabia.

Although many Saudi entities have been investigated in the past, US officials said this was the first investigation to directly probe Saudi Government funds.


Australian arrested in Iraq

An Australian man has been arrested by British troops in Iraq after they found him in a house full of "Saddam loyalists."

An Australian man suspected of being a Saddam Hussein loyalist is in British custody in Iraq, Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said yesterday.

The 45-year-old man, from Adelaide, was detained by British troops on November 21 during a raid on a house alleged to contain people loyal to the former Iraqi dictator, Mr Downer said.

The man was arrested in the port city of Umm Qasar.

"He is now in British custody," Mr Downer told reporters in Adelaide.

"The Australian representative office in Baghdad will be making contact with him during the course of today.

"His case will be reviewed by the British on Tuesday, with a view to working out what they're going to do with him and what association he had with the Saddam Hussein loyalists while he was in the house.

"We're not certain and nor are the British certain of what he was doing with those people."


Shots fired

South Korea has fired shots at a North Korean ship.

North Korea criticized South Korea on Tuesday for firing warning shots at one of its navy patrol boats and warned of "grave consequences."

South Korea's military said it fired the shots Monday after a North Korean navy patrol boat entered waters controlled by the South. The Northern boat retreated without resistance.

A North Korean military source described the encounter as "a barrage of gun shells" fired at a communist navy boat on routine patrol, according to KCNA, the North's official news agency.

"The South Korean military authorities should refrain from acting rashly, pondering over the grave consequences to be entailed by such reckless military provocation," KCNA quoted the military source as saying.

North Korea often issues such threatening remarks to its southern neighbor.

The maritime border between the two Koreas is not clearly marked, and North Korean fishing boats often enter its neighbor's waters. South Korean navy ships occasionally respond with warning shots.


Cart before the horse

A recent opinion piece in the Jordan Times says that the Arab countries are willing to bail the US out of its Iraq "quandary", but only if President Bush gives the Palestinians a state right now. Asking the Palestinians to stop their terrorist actions and incitement against Jews before they are given a state would be, in the author's words, like "placing the cart before the horse."

Bush should be told that even moderate Arab regimes are in no position to collaborate with the Americans in Iraq while Palestinians are under a colonial occupation. He should also be told frankly that nobody in our region is convinced by his old argument that a Palestinian state on the June 4 borders cannot be established as long as “terror” continues. It is time that the Americans listen to us for once and understand that the root cause of Palestinian violence is the Israeli occupation. True, I and many others have been arguing about the necessity for the Palestinians to put an end to the Intifada; however, the American stipulation that Palestinians “surrender” is like placing the cart before the horse. Worse even, it portrays America as a dishonest broker, thus providing anti-American forces in this part of the world with further ammunition.

Meanwhile, MEMRI has an interesting article regarding the latest Palestinian textbooks for 11th graders.


Monday, November 24, 2003

Banned in Iraq

The Iraqi Governing Council has banned the Al-Arabiya satellite channel because "it broadcast an invitation to murder, an incitement to murder by the voice of Saddam Hussein." (Hat tip to LGF)

The Iraqi Governing Council has a history of banning television channels. Back in September the Council banned Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya from broadcasting for 2 weeks.

Iraq's interim Governing Council said it was banning the Al-Arabiya satellite channel from working in Iraq for incitement to murder as a Sunni Muslim leader called for a week-long ceasefire to celebrate the feast marking the end of Ramadan, during which violence had surged.

[...]

"We have decided to ban Al-Arabiya in Iraq for a certain period of time because it broadcast an invitation to murder, an incitement to murder by the voice of Saddam Hussein," the council's current chairman Jalal Talabani said Monday.

He said council members would also pursue a separate suit against the Dubai-based Arabic-language station through the Iraqi courts, the first here against a news organization since Saddam's overthrow.

Al-Arabiya announced shortly afterwards that its Baghdad bureau had been forcibly shut and its office contents seized.

Only after providing the assurance not to promote violence would the council "examine the question of reopening the bureau," the channel's Baghdad correspondent said.


Australia not sure about repatriation

The US and the UK are close to an agreement concerning the fate of the Britons being held at Guantanamo Bay. But more interestingly, Australia isn't sure it wants the Aussie citizens being held at Guantanamo Bay to be repatriated because they might not be able to prosecute them.

The United States and Britain may be close to an understanding over Britons held at a US military jail in Cuba, with a possibility the prisoners could face trial in their home country, officials said.

[...]

In Australia, the Prime Minister, John Howard, said no offer to release the two Australians to face prosecution at home had been made by the US.

He indicated that their release to Australia was not a course the Federal Government would want anyway. "The situation is that if the Australian people concerned were to be returned to Australia it is unlikely, on the advice I have, that any prosecution could be brought against them successfully," Mr Howard said.


Japan: turn up pressure on NK

Japan's Defense Agency chief, Shigeru Ishiba, has told the US to turn up the pressure on North Korea:

Defense Agency chief Shigeru Ishiba told visiting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly on Tuesday that pressure should be used when trying to ensure peace with North Korea.

"It's important to apply pressure for the sake of a peaceful, diplomatic resolution," a Defense Agency official quoted Ishiba as saying.

Washington is considering offering Pyongyang security guarantees in return for the North abandoning its nuclear arms program.

The "money" quote from Ishiba:

"A diplomatic, peaceful resolution does not mean just listening to what the other side says," Ishiba told a news conference later in the day. "We should not allow a nation to achieve a goal through threats of (using) nuclear arms and missiles."

Well said.


Commitment

In order to more effectively fight along side the US in future conflicts, Australia is buying about 100 US Abrams tanks.

The Australian Defence Force is to introduce the massive American-built M1 Abrams tanks as an armoured strike force to facilitate a frontline role for the army alongside the US in future international conflicts.

[...]

The Government's about-face on buying heavy armour is intended to strengthen the US alliance by boosting "interoperability" for future Iraq-style conflicts. In an indication of the strategic importance of the move, the US Administration will handle the deal, selling the tanks directly to Australia.

We should applaud Australia for their commitment to the war on terror.


For good measure...

Japanese embassy attacked:

A group of several people fired a dozen shots at the Japanese Embassy in Baghdad early Tuesday morning, but nobody was injured, the Foreign Ministry said.

Quoting a report from the embassy, the ministry said that after an Iraqi security guard at the embassy fired back, the shooters escaped in a car.


al-Sadr

Iraqi cleric recants violence against US troops:

At the gold-domed Kufa Mosque in this holy city south of Baghdad, the young firebrand imam, Moqtada al-Sadr, known for condemning the Americans as Iraq's enemies, has softened and redirected his words.

"We were the only enemy of Saddam Hussein, and now the Baathists who still support him are our only enemy," he tells rows of fellow Shiites baking in the hot sun at Friday prayers. "We must resist them and the terrorists."

But make no mistake, al-Sadr is still a dangerous guy:

The US soldiers who recently arrested members of Mr. Sadr's paramilitary army are still "occupiers," he says. But Iraqi supporters of the young sheikh - who rose to the world stage in July, calling for an Iranian-style theocracy - have taken note of his softer tone.

Yeah, the "Iranian-style theocracy" is working out so well.


Saudi cleric recants

Saudi cleric Sheik Nasser al-Fahd has withdrawn his support for suicide bombings and violence. Think it has something to do with getting himself out of jail?

A radical Muslim cleric was taken from his prison cell during the weekend to recant his support for violent extremists and denounce suicide bombings on prime-time television.

Sheik Nasser al-Fahd, 35, told millions of Saudi viewers that "blowing oneself up in such operations is not martyrdom; it is suicide."

He added, "We did not think matters would reach this point. My message is: Fear God, and repent your mistakes. It is not shameful to admit mistakes."

The sheik's public self-abasement comes after a series of attacks on compounds housing foreign workers in the capital, Riyadh, which have claimed 54 lives since May.

Sheik al-Fahd's appearance was intended to drive home the official message that Saudi Arabia is clamping down on Islamic extremism. Western diplomats agree that real steps have been taken.

Sheik al-Fahd was among three radical clerics who were arrested in May after they issued a string of inflammatory "fatwas," or edicts.

They declared the killing of Saudi security forces permissible and ordered Muslims not to inform on 19 al Qaeda suspects named by the authorities. The wanted men were "virtuous and devout," the clerics said.

But, of course, the US is making it "hard" for Saudi officials to wage their war on terror:

Yet Saudi officials are deeply suspicious of the U.S. war on terrorism. One said the real aim of the United States was controlling Middle Eastern oil supplies.

Officials also say American policies, notably support for Israel and the occupation of Iraq, are undermining their campaign against the extremists.

"America is the biggest recruiter these people have," said one.

I guess right after we turn Iraq over to the UN we can let Saudi Arabia handle the war on terror.


Troops out of S. Korea

Many US troops will be pulled out of South Korea and moved in to Afghanistan and Iraq.

The United States will reassign some troops from South Korea to Afghanistan and Iraq and shift most of the 7,000 people in its headquarters in Seoul out of the capital beginning within a year, military officials say.

Thought also is being given to disbanding the United Nations headquarters in South Korea and ending the practice of keeping a four-star general in command of operations in the country.

The moves are part of a gradual disengagement of U.S. land forces from Korea and a greater reliance on sea power to maintain the American security posture in Asia.


Friday, November 21, 2003

Here's the victory

Dennis Kucinich wants to know "where's the victory?"

Right here, my friend.


Uncomfortable?

The US has caught Saddam's brother in law. He was disguised as a peasant...just like Saddam probably is now. Saddam must feel a little uncomfortable regarding this news.

US forces have arrested Arshad Yassin, a brother-in-law of Saddam Hussein who was also his personal helicopter pilot and a senior figure in his close protection force until the early 1990s, a high ranking Iraqi police officer said today.

Yassin, who held the rank of airforce lieutenant general, and another officer of the protection force of the former president, Major Radman Ali Al-Huraimus were arrested yesterday, in a village 40km south of the northern oil city of Kirkuk, the officer said.

He said a US force was airlifted to the village and stormed the house where the two were hiding, disguised as peasants.


Two more on the way

Germany is extraditing two suspected terrorists to the US:

After losing an extradition fight in Germany, two Yemenis accused of funneling funds to the al-Qaeda terrorist network will face charges in a U.S. court. Sheik Ali Hassan al-Moayad and his alleged assistant, Mohammed Mohsen Yahya Zayed, were to be arraigned Monday afternoon in federal court in Brooklyn on charges of conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda and Hamas.


Finally

France seems to be getting serious about the anti-Semitism occurring there. Finally.

Three years of attacks on Jewish targets in France finally came to a head this week with the arson attack on a Jewish school near Paris.

When fire-fighters were called to the Mercaz Hatorah school in the northern Parisian suburb of Gagny early Saturday morning, word about the arson reached the highest echelons of the French state.

The response from government leaders was that enough was finally enough.

"When a Jew is attacked in France, the whole of France is attacked," French President Jacques Chirac said.

[...]

France´s interior and education ministers quickly arrived at the site of the school fire, and Chirac summoned them and three senior colleagues to an emergency meeting on anti-Semitism at the Elysee Palace.

Within an hour of the meeting Monday, the government announced a get-tough policy to deal with perpetrators of anti-Semitic attacks. It also set up a Cabinet committee — to be chaired by Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin — to deal with the issue.

Among the first to be told of the policy changes was a delegation of French Jewish leaders, which met with Chirac shortly after the unusual mini-Cabinet session.

One of those attending, French Chief Rabbi Joseph Sitruk, told reporters outside the Elysee Palace that Chirac had given them everything they wanted even before they asked.

"The president has made a strong symbolic gesture which for us includes the most important thing, which is to make known that anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem but a French problem," Sitruk said.

UPDATE: The CSM has this.


Blame Israel

Is Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab League, trying to blame the Istanbul synagogue bombings on Israel?

Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab League, condemned the attacks but also held Israel responsible for incitement against terrorism that does not seem to be abating. Al Sharq adds American losses in Iraq do not suggest the war against terrorism is over as Washington claims, but is intensifying. The only way to deal with what is happening in Iraq is not through further military means but by political dialogue.


Pakistan involvement?

It has been reported the Pakistan might have had some sort of involement in the Istanbul synagogue bombings that killed about 25 people.

Turkish police have picked up clues pointing to Pakistan's links in the suicide synagogue bombings in Istanbul in which 25 people were killed five days ago, local media reports said on Thursday.

The Turkish Daily News (TDN) reported that police found pieces of a Pakistani passport which is believed to belong to one of the attackers, but did not explain why one of the Turks would have a Pakistani passport. The TDN also reported that three of the four Turkish Islamic militants who were involved in the bombings had received training in Pakistan and Iran while the background of the fourth man was still not clear although he was also believed to have travelled abroad.


Mubarak in poor health?

It seems Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is in poor health:

Ailing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak canceled a speech on doctor's orders, a day after abruptly leaving a podium for more than 30 minutes in the middle of a nationally televised address to parliament.

The cancellation came after Egypt's main newspapers, which are tightly controlled by the government, devoted several pages to reassuring statements on the 75-year-old president's health.

UPDATE: More here.


Thursday, November 20, 2003

Afterthought on West

An afterthought on the whole Col. Allen B. West issue: Isn't he the sort of person who could have stopped the 9-11 hijackers, according to Michael Moore?

It was when Moore went into a rant about how the passengers on the planes on 11 September were scaredy-cats because they were mostly white. If the passengers had included black men, he claimed, those killers, with their puny bodies and unimpressive small knives, would have been crushed by the dudes, who as we all know take no disrespect from anybody.

If you couldn't tell from the link above, Col. West is black.

I expect Michael Moore to release a statement supporting Col. West any day now.


Update on West

An update on Col. Allen B. West.

A senior U.S. officer charged with threatening to kill an Iraqi detainee testified yesterday that he allowed soldiers to beat a suspect and that he fired a gun near the man's head, but not at him, to save his troops from harm.

His voice quivering with emotion, Lt. Col. Allen B. West said at a military hearing that he was seeking information about a purported plot to kill him and some of the 700 men he commanded and in which he thought the detainee, Yahya Jhodri Hamoody, was involved.

"I felt there was a threat to my soldiers. ... If it's about the life of my men, I'd go through hell with a gasoline can," said Col. West, who sat erect in the witness stand during cross-examination on the second day of a court-martial hearing.

"I love the Army," he said, fighting back tears.

[...]

Col. West threatened to kill the Iraqi, who was a policeman in the town of Saba al Boor, unless he talked. Col. West said the tactic worked in that the Iraqi provided the names of insurgents who planned attacks on his men.

Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, said Col. West probably was more worthy of commendation than punishment and was trying to protect his soldiers.

"I think the message if we were to end up punishing someone for doing what it took to protect the soldiers entrusted to his command, it would be the wrong signal," Mr. Inhofe said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing with top Army officials.

Cheers to Sen. James M. Inhofe for speaking the truth.


Still a nut

Dennis Kucinich thinks that attacking Afghanistan after 9-11 was the wrong thing to do.

Democratic presidential candidate Dennis J. Kucinich said yesterday that U.S. military action against Afghanistan in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was not justified and has proved to be a "disaster" and a "nightmare."

Kucinich later tried to do some damage control but it was weak, at best.

Kucinich, a four-term House member from Cleveland and a former mayor of that city, made the assertion in an interview with editors and reporters of The Washington Post. But two hours later, he called a reporter to clarify his remarks.

He said that he had voted for the congressional resolution authorizing President Bush to take military action in response to the attacks. "On the philosophical question as to whether it was justified, the answer is yes," Kucinich said. "The record on that is clear. . . . I misspoke."

Kucinich said his disagreement with Bush was over "tactics" and he believes that Bush should have involved "the intelligence agencies of other countries" and the United Nations in the hunt for the terrorist suspects. Asked whether he still considered the outcome of U.S. military action in Afghanistan to be a disaster and a nightmare, he said: "I see the Taliban regaining strength and all these conflicts with warlords. The question is: What have we won? Where's the victory?"


Yanked

Australia has yanked a television station off the air, stating that it has terrorist links.

A subscription television service suspected of terrorist links had been pulled from the air by its Australian provider, the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA) said today.

The Lebanese station Al Manar is under investigation by the ABA over its connections with the terrorist group Hezbollah.


Wahhabi threat?

The chairman of the U.S. government commission on religious freedom says that Wahhabi Islam is a threat to the US and world.

Saudi Arabia continues to fund and export its Wahhabi brand of Islam, making it a "strategic threat" to the United States in the worldwide war on terror, the chairman of the U.S. government commission on religious freedom said yesterday.

"It is an ideology that is incompatible with the war on terrorism," said Michael Young, chairman of the State Department's Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The commission, established by Congress during the Clinton administration as a State Department body charged with monitoring religious rights, held a hearing yesterday titled: "Is Saudi Arabia a Strategic Threat: The Global Propagation of Intolerance."

Wahhabism is a puritanical form of Islam that teaches intolerance of anyone who does not conform to its worldview — Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

It is taught in Saudi schools and preached in tens of thousands of government-supported mosques.

Several panelists said considering this type of education, it was no accident that 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers were Saudis.


Did they, or didn't they?

Is Al-Qaeda trying to appear as though it is behind every attack, even though it's not?

Al Qaeda foot soldiers seem to be everywhere. They are now claiming responsibility for the Saturday bombing in Saudi Arabia. They say they are flocking into Iraq to fight the US "occupation." They claim they were behind the massive power failure in the northeast quadrant of the US this past summer. Some may even have penetrated Camp Delta at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which houses Taliban and Al Qaeda prisoners.

Are they really capable of pulling off all these deeds? Or is it just what they'd like everyone to believe?

Several experts and government officials say it may be part of a concerted strategy of deception and denial.

After years of watching Al Qaeda's operations, they say one of the group's signatures is to be enigmatic - sowing enough uncertainty that it looks as if they're behind every misdeed - thus keeping their pursuers off balance.


Forward staging post

The US might be setting up a new forward staging post in Australia:

The United States wants to shift military equipment and supplies to northern Australia, setting up a defence staging post near Darwin in a historic move that would deepen ties between the two countries' forces.

It is understood the proposal includes an offer for the US to house large numbers of tanks, along with other vehicles, ammunition and artillery. This offer is linked to the US push for Australia to buy its Abrams tanks.

While US officials were keen to say the "logistics and training facility" would not be permanently staffed by Americans and should not be called a military base, it could be a staging post or logistics hub in a regional conflict.

However, the move may anger Australia's neighbours, especially Indonesia.


Dumb

One word: Dumb.

Israel said on Thursday Washington would deduct an unspecified amount from $9 billion of loan guarantees, a move apparently in response to the building of Jewish settlements and construction of a West Bank barrier.

Isn't it quite a contradiction to say that Israel has the right to defend itself and then punish it for doing so?


"French trap"

It looks like the Germans are coming back to reality and that US-German relations are starting to thaw.

German support for the latest U.S. policy moves in Iraq reflects a growing feeling at home that Germany has grown too close to France with its strident opposition to the U.S.-led campaign.

Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, visiting Washington this week, was unstinting in his remarks welcoming the U.S. commitment to hand over sovereignty to a transitional Iraqi government by the end of June.

"It is a very important step forward," he said. "We'll have now a timetable for a transition of authority and sovereignty to an Iraqi government."

That stood in sharp contrast with the reaction of his French counterpart, Dominique de Villepin, who criticized the decision in an interview with the French Catholic daily La Croix. "My feeling is that [the June 30 deadline] is too late," he said.

President Bush praised German peacekeeping efforts in Afghanistan in an interview with British reporters ahead of his visit to London.

"Obviously there was some disgruntlement about the decision made on Iraq," Mr. Bush said. "But I would remind you that Germany has troops in Afghanistan supporting that mission there, for which we are very grateful. They are doing a darn good job."

The thaw comes amid growing concern in Germany that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's government had damaged its own interests by getting too close to Paris.

Ulrike Guerot, of the government-subsidized Research Institute of the German Council on Foreign Relations, said the antiwar alliance had driven Germany into "a French trap."


Cargo

Cargo planes are now to be randomly searched in an effort to thwart possible terrorist activity:

The US Transportation Security Administration has said that domestic and foreign commercial planes carrying cargo will be subject to random inspections on flights within, into and out of the United States as part of a broader plan to prevent terrorists from using the air transportation system to mount attacks on the United States.

Apparently the plan includes some sort of quota:

The government told cargo and passenger airlines on Monday that they must randomly inspect a certain amount of freight before it is loaded on planes as part of an effort to close security gaps.

Brian Turmail, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration (search), said the agency won't disclose publicly what percentage of cargo must be inspected because of security concerns.

Checks of air freight have been spotty, with some airlines conducting limited inspections and others doing little or nothing. Critics contend that leaves open the possibility terrorists could use packages to sneak explosives or even hijackers aboard planes.

Turmail said the airlines will do the inspections under government supervision. The policy takes effect after Christmas.


3 down...4 to go?

Pakistan is extraditing two wanted men to the US:

In order to have its name removed from the US State Department’s list of the top 23 drug producing and transit countries, Pakistan will extradite two more alleged drug dealers to the United States, sources privy to related developments told Daily Times on Wednesday.

“In total, they are demanding seven Pakistani drug dealers involved in millions of dollars worth of narcotics deals in the United States. All of these seven have been convicted in US courts. We have already extradited a man named Abdul Sattar while two others, Said Ali and Haris Hassan, will be handed over to the United States very soon”, a senior official in the Ministry of Interior said.


Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Serendipity

Egypt is afraid that Iraq will now be the major Arab power broker, and US ally, in the Middle East.

Egyptian politicians, intellectuals and journalists are worried that their country is losing its status as a major regional player in the Middle East.

For decades, Egypt served as an important bridge between the United States and the Arab world, working to safeguard Washington´s interests in the region while defending the rights of other Arab nations.

But now, those concerned about Cairo´s influence say, the world´s only superpower often bypasses Egypt in its dealings with the Middle East, relying much more on direct contacts with smaller countries instead.

"Indicators of this trend are plenty," journalist Khaled Ezzelarab wrote this month in the Cairo Times, a glossy newsweekly. "Qatar is now the base for the U.S. military´s Central Command; Jordan has signed a Free Trade Agreement with the U.S.; Bahrain and Morocco will soon follow," the magazine article noted.

Most significant, Mr. Ezzelarab said, "Baghdad is now connected directly to Washington in a way no other Arab capital can match."

Isn't serendipity great?


Tom Lantos

Congressman Tom Lantos (Democrat) thinks NATO needs to get about 25,000 troops in to Iraq, for NATO and Europe's own good.

AT A TIME when the United States and our coalition partners need its help the most in Iraq, NATO is missing in action.

If its members don't want it to become a mere historical curiosity and a paper army, they have to get serious about NATO becoming a relevant collective security organization ready to respond to today's challenges. NATO must immediately move to commit forces under its own flag to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq.

[...]

Iraq, like Afghanistan, needs more troops from more countries to help ensure its security. Some NATO members have made important contributions: Poland has stepped forward, leading one multinational division. Italy has contributed 2,700 personnel. As always, Britain is standing foursquare with us, with more than 11,000 troops still deployed. But because of political pique and a congenital lack of will, NATO as a whole is not bearing its fair burden.

Far more is at stake for NATO's European members than the present-day identity of history's greatest alliance. As the Middle East's closest neighbor, Europe will be directly affected, for good or for ill, by the success or failure of Iraqi reconstruction.

Perpetual instability in Iraq would strengthen the forces of extremism throughout the worldwide Muslim community, which resides on Europe's doorstep and even in Europe itself, where the Muslim population is growing apace. In contrast, the establishment of a peace-loving and prosperous society in Iraq would have a moderating effect throughout the region.

Moreover, dependent as it is on energy imports, Europe's economy may well grow or sputter as a result of events in Iraq.

Europe's strategic interests in the success of the Iraqi experiment are clear. So one would think that all of our European friends would deem it critical to contribute to the success of that experiment and that they would recognize that they no longer can afford to indulge their unhappiness with policies that date to before the war.

On paper, NATO members together have more than 2.8 million military personnel, nearly twice as many as the United States. Of that number, however, only 80,000 soldiers are apparently fit for expeditionary service. With existing deployments of 55,000 in various multinational operations in the Balkans, Afghanistan and elsewhere, that leaves 25,000 available for deployment to Iraq. And as outgoing NATO Secretary Lord Robertson has pointed out, moving them to the field in Iraq simply requires NATO member states "to want to do more than they are doing at the expressed moment."

[...]

Just as the United States proved itself to be a reliable partner during more than 40 years of confrontation on the European continent, NATO must now prove itself in the streets and countryside of Iraq.

Otherwise, NATO will become ever less relevant, and the United States will become even less convinced that this historic alliance will serve as a reliable partner in the future.

Some excellent points, especially the bit about Europe's economy being tied to Iraq, albeit in a small way. The advantages seem clear for NATO and the Europeans...perhaps the only thing holding them back is French stubbornness?

I guess Tom Lantos isn't a member of the Democratic wing of the Democratic party.


Democratic wing of the...

Dick Morris says that Howard Dean will never win with his "bash Iraq" stategy:

It is very easy for Howard Dean to predicate his primary campaign on criticizing U.S. involvement in Iraq. But it may be very hard in the general election.

Right now, he can attack the decision to intervene since he, alone among the major Democrats, neither voted in favor of the war or said he would have had he been in Congress at the time.

But campaigns are about the present and the future, not the past. You can't wage them with nothing but historical issues.

[...]

In Iraq, there are no half measures. You can't call for negotiations: The government with which one might once have parlayed, lies dead and destroyed.

Nor, if Bush is smart, will Dean be able to pin his hopes on turning the war over to the Iraqis. Bush is giving signs that he will do so just as Dean hits the general election campaign trail. How can Dean run urging Bush to do what he is already doing?

The Iraq issue is the biggest danger to Bush's re-election. But Bush can completely neutralize it by bringing troops home week after week during the election campaign. With each new planeload, the arguments in favor of Dean will atrophy. Even if Iraqis are killing Iraqis and Baghdad and the Sunni triangle are in chaos, Americans will not care as long as Saddam is not in power and U.S. forces aren't being killed.

Indeed, Dean faces the prospect of having to wage his campaign based on two elements of not-so-ancient history - the recession and the deaths in Iraq. If Bush can keep the economy growing and creating jobs even as he pulls troops out of Iraq and secures those that remain by limiting their mission, he can achieve political immunity the likes of which incumbent presidents can only dream.

Even though I don't agree that Americans won't care if "Baghdad and the Sunni triangle are in chaos", I still think Morris makes some great points. So much for Democratic wing of the Democratic party.


Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Bravo

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is making some sense:

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, an influential nephew of the king and one of the world's richest men, says his country must accelerate social, political and economic reforms and better confront the causes of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"You have to ask the simple question. Why 15 Saudis? You can't just say it happened by coincidence," Alwaleed said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, referring to the 15 Saudis among the 19 hijackers in the attacks on New York and Washington. "Clearly, there's something wrong with the way of thinking here, with the way people are raised."

Until recently, he said, many in Saudi society had been nurturing other theories about the attacks.

"They were trying to come up with these conspiracy theories or that maybe Israel was behind it or some other Jewish organization," he said in the interview at a hilltop villa overlooking his 120-acre ranch on the outskirts of Riyadh, the capital. "It just doesn't make sense."

Indeed.


French-German axis?

With 10 new countries soon joining the EU, and with most of the Eastern European countries being pro-US, France is nervous that it will lose its standing and influence in Europe with the EU being "tilted" toward the US. For this reason, France is trying to partner with Germany to build a French-German axis that could filibuster the EU (and the UN) if need be.

Nervous at the prospect of losing influence when 10 newcomers join the European Union next year, France is seeking to form a partnership with Germany that would enhance both countries' influence and help hold the union together.

"If a Europe of 25 [countries] fails, what's left for France? A Franco-German rapprochement," Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin was quoted as saying in the French newspaper Le Monde, which last week reported that France and Germany are studying a "project of unity."

[...]

With Central and Eastern European countries rallying behind the United States — and countries such as Poland committing troops to Iraq — Paris and Berlin have concluded that the enlarged EU will not be without divisions.

France, in particular, fears that the Eastern European countries could eventually tilt the EU toward the United States and thus away from France, the traditional powerhouse in Europe. It is hardly surprising then that French President Jacques Chirac would seek to correct the balance by cozying up to German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Le Monde said that French Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy hopes to advance the Franco-German allianceby having the two countries combine their armies and diplomatic services and share France's seat on the U.N. Security Council.

Basically, this is more of the typical anti-American rhetoric and action coming out of France. Somehow France feels so threatened by the US that they are willing to go to great, great lengths to appear as a "counter-balance" to the US. Think about it...France feels so threatened by the US that they are willing to merge their political and military capital with Germany's. All this because the introduction of 10 new countries into the EU "might" give the EU a more pro-America "tilt."

Meanwhile, and not unrelated, the French feel as though their "grandeur" is in a steep decline. And for good reason:

These days, it isn't Americans bad-mouthing France over Iraq, but France's own Cassandras who are churning out best sellers suggesting the country is in economic and political decline.

They point to a host of warning signs: high deficits, intractable unemployment, stunted economic growth, diplomatic setbacks.

They worry about France's increasingly alienated Muslim minority and the resurgence of attacks on its Jewish minority. Even the killer heat wave over the summer has fed the feeling of malaise.

Navel-gazing is never out of vogue in France, and Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin has dismissed the latest bout as intellectual rabble-rousing. President Jacques Chirac, asked about it on television, took the opportunity to deliver a short pep talk to the nation.

"I'm surprised to see how in moments of a little difficulty, this movement comes back in such a powerful way," Mr. Chirac said. "We can overcome all difficulties."

[...]

Yet to glance in bookstores these days and see titles referring variously to French arrogance, decline or disarray, one might think no one has a good word to say about la belle France.

The biggest best seller is "La France Qui Tombe" ("France is Falling"), a withering critique by lawyer and economist Nicolas Baverez.

In his book, subtitled "A Clinical Report of French Decline," Mr. Baverez argues the French work ethic has weakened, the best scientific and entrepreneurial minds are fleeing the country, the French own too few home computers and they are too apt to go on strike at the first whiff of belt-tightening.

Gripped by bureaucratic rigidity, France has failed to liberalize its economy and is becoming "an industrial and entrepreneurial desert," Mr. Baverez writes. He cites figures showing that new business creation has fallen 2 percent a year since the late '80s, and that last year the country of 60 million people had more bankruptcies than the United States.

The discontent expressed by Mr. Baverez is indeed in large part about the economy. The troubles are social, too.

The crisis of confidence heightened in August when, according to the government, nearly 15,000 people died in a heat wave. Many blamed government ineptitude for the failure of health services to cope.

The growth of a largely alienated Muslim minority, and the stunning gains of Jean-Marie Le Pen's extreme nationalist, anti-immigrant party in last year's presidential election further dampened the mood.

France, 90 percent Roman Catholic, has Western Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish minorities and has problems with both. It is accused of failing to come to terms with its World War II government's collaboration with the Nazis, and of denying the Muslim population of 5 million its rightful place in French society.

Several best sellers track the rise of Islamic militancy in France, while Alain Finkielkraut, a leading French Jewish scholar, explores the fears of France's 600,000 Jews who feel besieged by an upsurge in anti-Semitic violence and intellectual hostility.

In a book subtitled "Reflections on the Coming Anti-Semitism," he writes: "Jews have a heavy heart and, for the first time since the war, they are afraid."

Perhaps this is why France feels the need to "flex its muscles", as meager as they may be?


Monday, November 17, 2003

Angry Leftie

Isn't he cute?




Moral equivalency

Saudi Arabia's Islamic affairs minister, Saleh Al-Asheikh, has stated that the recent bombings in Riyadh were "gruesome", just like the "Israeli terror against the Palestinians."

Saudi Arabia's Islamic affairs minister and imams of the two holy mosques have condemned Saturday's terrorist bombing at Al-Muhaya compound in Riyadh as a gruesome crime and likened it to Israeli terror against the Palestinians.

The bombing of a residential compound in the capital last Saturday, which killed at least 18 people and injured 120 others, violates the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan, Islamic Affairs Minister Saleh Al-Asheikh said.

It is in itself a big crime and would have been tantamount to declaring war on God and the Prophet if it had taken place in any other month. But it becomes the worst of crimes when it is committed in the holy month, the minister said.

Dr. Saleh Bin Humaid, the imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah and chairman of the Shoura Council, compared the actions of the suspected Al-Qaeda bombers who carried out the attack last week to Israeli terror in Palestinian territories.

Moral equivalency, anyone?


Pakistan grabs more

Pakistan has rounded up some more terrorists:

Pakistan rounded up dozens of Islamic activists, including a militant leader, in raids across the country after three outlawed militant outfits that had regrouped under new names were banned, police said on Sunday.

A police official told Reuters that Sajid Ali Naqvi -- head of one of the now banned groups, Islami Tehrik-e-Pakistan, and accused of involvement in sectarian violence -- was picked up in an overnight swoop in the capital Islamabad.

The authorities also raided mosques, homes and militant bases across Pakistan early on Sunday, picking up dozens of Islamic militants, another police official in the central city of Multan added.

Pakistan, a staunch ally in the U.S.-led war on terror, banned the renamed militant groups on Saturday, two days after U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Nancy Powell expressed concern over the re-emergence of these organizations.

Interesting that they raided mosques during Ramadan.

However, there seems to be some confusion regarding whether or not this was done at America's request:

Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali on Sunday said the government was striving to eliminate extremism, sectarianism and terrorism in Pakistan.

“It is my government’s priority to wipe out terrorism, sectarianism and extremism from Pakistan and to give the nation a neat and clean environment to prosper,” Mr Jamali told journalists at an iftar dinner hosted by Information Secretary Syed Anwar Mahmud.

The PM brushed aside the impression that the action against the banned outfits of various religious organisations had been taken under US pressure and said if the defunct groups re-organised under new names, their new identities would also be banned.


Juxtaposition of the day

Juxtaposition of the day: Bush vs. Dean

Bush says he would do it all over again, alone, if he had to.

The United States would wage war again, and alone if necessary, to ensure the long-term safety of the world, President George W Bush said in an interview published on Monday.

Howard Dean says the US can not "go it alone", apparently under any circumstances.

As Madeleine Albright once put it, we are the "indispensable power" for addressing so many of the challenges around the world. But we cannot lead the world by force, and we cannot go it alone. We must lead toward clearly articulated and shared goals and with the cooperation and respect of friends and allies.

Dean doesn't say, however, what he would do if it turns out that most of our "allies" have their heads buried in the sand.


Who knew?

Who knew there was still talk of Pakistani troops in Iraq?

Pakistan today said it would not commit its troops to Iraq until the government is sure that the soldiers are "welcomed" in the war-torn country.

"Pakistan can send troops only if they are welcomed by Iraqis and such a decision has to be endorsed by people of Pakistan," Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan told reporters here.

Khan was responding to US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's recent comments that America was still hopeful about Pakistan's sending of troops to Iraq.

However, Khan said Pakistan "remained engaged" with United States and Britain on the issue.

"There is no change in our policy," Khan said adding that the recent UN Security Council resolution has fallen short of Pakistan's expectations.

President Pervez Musharraf had agreed in principle to send to two brigades of soldiers to Iraq.

But the deteriorating situation in Iraq coupled with heavy domestic opposition has made Pakistan to withhold its decision.


Saturday, November 15, 2003

AL in London

The Angry Left in London will be staging a rally during George W. Bush's visit there. Among the guests of honor will be George Galloway, the former member of Parliament who was kicked out of the Labour Party for saying things such as "The wolves are Bush and Blair, not the soldiers. The soldiers are lions led by donkeys, sent to kill and be killed." Galloway was also accused of taking money from Saddam is return for his support.

On Tuesday - when Mr Bush and his wife arrive in London - a Stop Bush rally will be held near Euston Station. It will be attended by veteran campaigner Tony Benn, Harold Pinter, the former Labour MP George Galloway, and Kate Hudson, chairwoman of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

That should tell you something regarding the validity and mind set of the Angry Left.


Friday, November 14, 2003

Who's doing the real damage here?

The French seem determined to ruin US-French relations permanently.

France is threatening to unite with Germany to maintain their influence in an enlarged European Union and strengthen their common front against the United States, according to reported remarks by the Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin.

The minister was quoted by Le Monde speaking about "Franco-German union" and calling the deepening of ties "the one historic challenge we cannot lose".

The newspaper gave most of its first three pages to reports on the proposed union, noting it was an idea whose time may have come.

Pascal Lamy, a French EU commissioner, was enthusiastic, telling Le Monde that closer ties could begin with the unification of diplomatic services and the sharing of France's permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

[...]

The leaking of Mr de Villepin's remarks to a Paris think tank was designed to underline French determination not to be sidelined by US power and its loss of influence when the EU expands from 15 to 25 members in May.

France also hopes to put pressure on Britain to dilute its transatlantic relationship in favour of Europe. Paris is determined to press the rest of Europe to accept the new EU constitution put forward by the former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing.

France and Germany, dismissed as "old Europe" by the US Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, before the Iraq war, were brought closer by their opposition to the invasion. But they have also found common purpose on issues such as changes to the Common Agricultural Policy on terms that would be favourable to the French.

French diplomats concede they have given up on their relationship with the US so long as President George Bush is in office. Since opposing the war, France has been ignored in Washington.

All its diplomatic energies, therefore, are now focused on Europe and in particular on prying Britain away from the US. If Britain can be won over, France and Germany believe they can dominate the enlarged EU.

Pathetic.


What's a lie between friends?

Even though China told the US it would not further assist Pakistan with nuclear and missle technology, it looks like they are anyway.

China continues to provide nuclear-weapon and ballistic missiles assistance to Pakistan despite assurances to the US that it would not do so, the Central Intelligence Agency has said.

"We cannot rule out, however, some continued contacts subsequent to the pledge between Chinese entities and entities associated with Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme," it said in its latest six-monthly report to Congress.

Read the entire report here.


What liberal media?

Hippercitical has the goods on Eric Alterman.


Iraqi jihadis training in Lebanon?

Are the foreign terrorists fighting the US troops in Iraq being trained in Lebanon? Shaul Mofaz thinks so...

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said yesterday terrorist bases in Lebanon are training some of the foreign fighters who are moving into Iraq to kill American troops.


N. Korean troops in trouble?

Is the North Korean military in bad shape? Donald Rumsfeld had this to say:

The North Korean military recently lowered the height and weight requirements for soldiers because of the starvation around the country made it harder to find qualified recruits, he said.

Also, soldiers appear to be 14 or 15 years old when they join, instead of at least 17 or 18, he said, a sign the military is having trouble.

I'd say they are desperate. The Russian military seems to be in a similar situation as well.


50 more from the boot

Italy has sent 50 more troops to Iraq, after losing 18 in a terrorist attack.

In Rome, 50 carabinieri paratroopers left central Italy to reinforce a contingent depleted and demoralized by Wednesday's blast at a base in the southern city of Nasiriyah.

President Bush phoned Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, one of his staunchest supporters, yesterday to discuss Iraq as Italians mourned their loss.


Thursday, November 13, 2003

How's that for timing?

While the US Congress was busy passing the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Act, guess which European country was busy meeting with Syria.

If guessed France, give yourself a croissant.




President Bashar al-Assad received here at the People's Palace on Monday President Jacques Chirac's Adviser Maurice Goerdault - Montagne. ‏

Talks during the meeting dealt with the development of situations in the Middle East region, especially in Iraq. ‏



3,000 more

South Korea is sending 3,000 more troops to Iraq:

The South Korean government is considering limiting the size of its additional troop dispatch to Iraq to 3,000, a presidential spokesman said Thursday.

South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun instructed ministers to send no more than 3,000 troops to the Middle East country during a meeting of security-related cabinet ministers Tuesday, chief presidential spokesman Yoon Tai-young said on Thursday.

South Korea decided last month to send a second batch of troops to Iraq at the request of Washington, but has yet not decided the nature, deployment location and number of the troops.


Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Iraqis after Saddam

Iraqi police are taking part in significant operations:

Iraqi police on Wednesday conducted a massive house-to-house search of ousted president Saddam Hussein’s hometown in an operation the US military hailed as the first conducted without US help in the city.

Congressman Chuck Hagel can rest easy...bit by bit Iraqis are beginning to govern themselves.


Three more sentenced

Three more jihadis will rot in American jails:

Three Lashkar-e-Tayiba members, accused of trying to engage in "holy jihad" against Indian forces in Jammu and Kashmir, have been sentenced by a US court to prison terms ranging from three to 11 years following guilty pleas in August to conspiracy and weapons charges.

US District Judge Leonie M Brinkema in Alexandria on Friday sentenced Yong Ki Kwon (27), Khwaja Mehmood Hasan (27) and Donald T Surratt (30).

They were among 11 named in a 41-count indictment handed in June in a conspiracy to "prepare for and engage in violent jihad" against foreign targets. Nine of the 11, including the three above, were identified as US citizens.

Hasan and Kwon could have received life sentences, while Surratt faced up to 15 years.

US Attorney Paul J McNulty said they "secretly plotted in this community and perversely planned and travelled to camps in Pakistan".

Of course, Michael Moore isn't sure if these guys are terrorists or just members of the "military."


NPR strikes again

NPR has issued another "correction" related to their coverage of Israel:

A correction in an interview about Israel's plan to extend services such as electricity to some West Bank settlements: NPR's Julie McCarthy said that 250 million Israelis live in settlements. She meant to say 250,000.


Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Saddam's mural

A picture from the web page of Congressman John Shimkus.





Inside the Republican National Guard Palace of Saddam Hussein. Note the mural of the seven scud missiles that represent the seven fired on Israel in the first Gulf War.


Not yet understood

Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller recently visited the Polish troops in Iraq. The BBC has this report:

He told Polish troops their mission was essential for the reconstruction of Iraq, despite being costly, painful and "not yet understood" by many people.

The visit comes a few days after Poland lost its first serviceman there.

Major Hieronim Kupczyk, shot last week in an ambush, was the first Polish combat casualty since World War II.

"You are here to bring hope and freedom to the Iraqi people, loyal to the traditions of Poland and to your freedom," Mr Miller told hundreds of troops in a partially reconstructed palace near the ancient city of Babylon.

"We are here to help build Iraq a better future, and we will remain only until new Iraqi authorities are able to take responsibility for their country and the security of its citizens," he added, speaking on Poland's Independence Day.

Mr Miller insisted that the death of Major Kupczyk would not affect Poland's Iraq operation

"Last week's events will definitely not change our policy in this matter because our reasons for being here are moral and not only political, so we will continue our mission here in Iraq," he said.

Miller is quite right when stating that the reasons for being in Iraq are unfortunately "not yet understood" by many people. Take Howard Dean, for example.


Bugged, part 2

More about the bugging of the Pakistan embassy in London:

Pakistan Monday asked the British government to provide information about the bugging of its High Commission in London by the British Intelligence. Replying to questions by newsmen in a weekly briefing in Islamabad Foreign Office spokesman Masood Khan said, “Islamabad has approached the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London for this purpose. Pakistan will like a response from the British government as to whether the operation was authorised or rogue by MI-5 or the Scotland Yard which are under the British government control.”


Monday, November 10, 2003

Lucas Heights reactor

The French national who was recently arrested in Australia on terrorism charges may have been plotting to target a nuclear power plant.

Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock today refused to comment on reports that accused terrorist Willie Brigitte may have been planning a terror attack on Sydney's Lucas Heights nuclear reactor.

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The possible targeting of the Lucas Heights reactor was reportedly raised by ASIO operatives during a "hearing" held at the Sydney offices of the Australian Crime Commission, reports suggested.

"There are a number of locations in our community, which are essentially vulnerable," Mr Ruddock told reporters in Sydney today.

"Part of the nature of intelligence is to work out locations that could be at risk."

When asked specifically about whether the Lucas Heights reactor had been identified as a terror target by Brigitte, he said: "It is subject to an ongoing inquiry."

France knew Brigitte had links to Al-Qaeda, but failed to notify Australia of his background after he arrived there.

UPDATE: It has been brought to my attention that Lucas Heights is not a power plant, but a research reactor.


Al-Qaeda in Japan?

Al-Qaeda operating in Japan?

Japan deported a Pakistani man last year suspected of being a member of the al-Qaeda terrorist network, police said Wednesday.

The man, whose name is phonetically spelled as Naim Feroz, was arrested for violating immigration laws in May 2002 and then deported, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

He had been living in Arakawa Ward, Tokyo, and working as a painter, they said.

Police said they decided to search his home after obtaining information that he had undergone training at an al-Qaeda base in Afghanistan. They found documents indicating his ties to the group during the search.

They also suspect the man may have been in phone contact with al-Qaeda members in other countries during his stay in Japan, they said


IED

The US is hoping new technology can help prevent roadside bombs, known as IEDs, from harming the troops in Iraq.

The Pentagon has rushed new technologies to ground troops in Iraq to help foil persistent attacks by guerrillas using homemade bombs.

The bombs, officially known as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), have killed dozens of American soldiers since the insurgency began shortly after the fall of Baghdad on April 9.

Saddam Hussein loyalists make the relatively simple explosives in guerrilla hide-outs, then place them on or near roads traveled by U.S. convoys. When the vehicles pass, Iraqis detonate the bombs from a remote location via radio signal.

Defense officials said the Pentagon began a rush program with the "highest priority" to develop technologies that can find and detonate the IEDs from a safe distance. One senior official said the technologies were introduced into Iraq in the last couple of weeks, with more to come.

"This was not a long-developed, mature program," the official said. "This was the top priority of the department. They pushed the technologies into the battlefield. They were not necessarily ready to go. They are still developing technologies."

The sources said the programs, which are being overseen by the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, involve systems that can jam a radio signal or send out signals that explode the devices.

In the case of jamming, soldiers could block radio signals as the convoy traveled from point A to point B. In the case of premature explosions, troops could send pulse bursts of radio waves along roads to detonate any hidden bombs.

"There are a number of different technology applications that are being sent over there," one defense official said.

Israel, which has been fighting an insurgency far longer than the United States, is known to have technologies that, under the right conditions, can blow up explosives on the bearer before he reaches a target.