Saturday, April 28, 2007

IRIB: "Khatami urges Arabs to revise track"

The Persian Mullacracy lectures Arab dictatorships:
Friday Prayers Leader of Tehran Hojatoleslam Ahmad Khatami said Friday that Arab states should negotiate with the Palestinian nation instead of the Zionist regime.

"Instead of negotiating with the 'Israeli' regime, the Arab states should talk to the Palestinian nation so as to garner divine consent and national popularity," said Hojatoleslam Khatami in his second Friday Prayers sermon.

Hojatoleslam Khatami criticized Arab states for negotiation with and official recognition of the 'Israeli' regime.

"Don't forget that your predecessors had had many such talks but none of them were fruitful and failed to subside the 'Israeli' regime's wicked conduct even on an small scale," he reiterated.

Hojatoleslam Khatami also stressed on Iran's resolve for nuclear talks with the European parties.

"We have raised our words many times showing that we favor talks while not willing to back down our rights," he announced.

He then warned of futility of talks in case of continued bullying.

"Despite all the anti-Iranian resolutions, our President, while sponsoring nuclear festival, honorably showed that we have with God's grace gained remarkable progress and joined the nuclear club."

"The world should know that if they wish to talk with powerful Iran unconditionally, they should not violate its rights and if they want to continue bullying like the past, the talks would not be fruitful," he added.
Light blogging will continue for a few more days.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

IRIB: "Zionist brain seeks to woo Abbas to bend to the usurper plan"

IRIB evidently picked this up from Qods News Agency without fixing the English:
At the backdrop of Palestinian developments, Zionist regime has moved to carry out a set of projects whose aim is wider than just cracking down on the Palestinian resistance: One-sided border setting.

Zionist premier Ehud Olmert had made it a key elections banner to set borders with the heavily slashed Palestinian territories. Under his plan, Zionists will set borders after withdrawing from a few 'settlements' (colonies) in the West Bank that carry no strategic significance. The regime appears defiant to withdraw from other areas it occupied in 1967, notably the holy Qods.

Preparations for the plan have been underway in veneer of a series of dummy moves by superpowers, dubbed 'Middle East peace process.' In conducting so, a planned meeting between Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is all but to focus on peace. Zionist brain seeks to woo Abbas to bend to the usurper plan.

The stakes of such a meeting like in its precedents will be only a vow on the part of the Zionist regime not to attack the West Bank or the Gaza Strip without bothering any reference to the case of al-Qods issue. Abbas' meetings are probable to provide documents for Israeli push to set borders on its own.

Another lever of pressure may come form several economic projects dubbed by the Zionist regime as corridor of peace. Under the projects, Jordan and occupied Palestine will join through trade routes and railway. The project will virtually become a mandatory criteria for setting borders as territorial integrity of the three entities of the Palestinian territories, Israel and Jordan requires to specify borders.

A further move to impose borders on the Palestinian party has surfaced in the immigration of Zionists to some parts along Ehud Olmert's dreamed borders also harbor the immigration of some Zionist into Israel and the withdrawal of some others from several colonies in West Bank and al-Khalil. The relocation project along with forcible dispel of Palestinian refugees form another clause of the one-sided plan of border setting whose axis hinges around a judaised al-Qods city.

Westerners have propped the Zionist project by offering the bullied nation to bow to it in lieu of stoppage to Zionist regime's attacks and a blockade lift.

Nonetheless, no matter else could more provide fuel to the project than the negligence practiced by several Arab heads who are seeking to play some political role in the Middle East, even though as diplomatic dwarfs.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Iran: Pals fire rockets, Islamic world a victim of terrorism, Global Arrogance attacks

The theme of today's excursion to the topsy-turvy world of the Iranian press is terrorism. Iran's approach to terrorism alternates between cheering for it and picturing itself as victimized by it:

IRIB: "Palestinians fire rockets":
In retaliation to the savage crimes of the fake Zionist regime against the Palestinian defenceless nation, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas fired several rockets into the Zionist settled occupied lands.

In a statement released by Hamas in Gaza, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said they had fired nearly 30 rockets and 61 mortars into the occupied lands in an act of retribution for the assassinations committed by the enemy.

The Zionist regime was continuing massacre of innocent Palestinian people.
Mehr News: "Tehran to host conference on 'Islamic world, a victim of terrorism’":
The first international conference on the “culture of resistance” will be held under the name of “Islamic World, a Victim of Terrorism” in Tehran on May 1-2.

“The event is planned to help expand the culture of resistance in the Islamic world,” Secretary General of the World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought, Ayatollah Mohammad-Ali Taskhiri, told a press conference on Tuesday.

45 figures from 28 different countries will attend the conference, Taskhiri said.

He said the main objective of the conference is to “study terrorism and the ways to confront it, the role of global powers in the emergence of terrorist groups, a distinction between legitimate defense and terrorism, and a distinction between pure Islam and a distorted Islam.”

“Now the Islamic world is under the attack of the global hegemony, and the enemies are trying to shatter the unity and resistance of the ummah” through sowing the seeds of discord between Muslims, he explained.

The enemy is trying to intertwine the “concepts of resistance and terrorism”, delete the “culture of Jihad” from the Islamic system, and portraying the Islamic “resistance” groups as terrorists, he observed.

The Islamic ummah needs to be more familiar with the culture of resistance and be vigilant, he said, adding, “Islamic vigilance delivers lethal blow to the global hegemony.”
IRIB Radio: "Global Arrogance Attacking Entire Islamic World":
Secretary General of the World Assembly for Proximity Amongst Islamic Schools of Jurisprudence said: Today the entire Islamic world is under attack from Global Arrogance and the enemy is trying to break the resistance of the Iranians and Muslims by using all tricks up its sleeve.

Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Taskhiri, briefing reporters on the first International Congress of Culture of Resistance to be held in Tehran, May 1-2, said: The Ummah has to promote Islamic and Qur’anic awareness in order to increase their resistance.
He said: Islamic awareness will have the biggest impact on the enemy and the more powerful this impact the deeper would be the awareness.

The First International Congress on the Culture of Resistance is to be attended by 45 cultural and political figures from 28 world countries. The theme of the Congress is "Muslim World: Victim of Terrorism".
That conference should be the mother of all target-rich environments.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Asharq Alawsat: "Who's Kidnapping Who?"

The writers who appear regularly in Asharq Alawsat can seem reasonably pro-Western at times--not this lady. Diana Mukkaled urges us to "put ourselves in the shoes of the executioner." What if kidnapping all those journalists discourages them from giving us favorable coverage?
[...]Calls and action for the release of BBC reporter Alan Johnston, who was kidnapped in Gaza over a month ago, surfaced once again last week. Johnston was kidnapped amid vague and incomprehensible circumstances and his fate and the circumstances of his capture remain inexplicable. What is clear, however, is that Johnston was a target for the kidnappers, and what is even clearer is that there are those who want to see another Iraq in the Palestinian territories as reporters have been repeatedly targeted there.

It is time to think and to put ourselves in the shoes of the executioner – the kidnapper – who presumably has a cause. By kidnapping the BBC reporter, this "victimized" executioner has lost one of the world's leading and most reliable media outlets. Without further engaging in unacceptable arguments on Western bias, let us recall our numerous rightful issues that were revealed by the Western rather than the Arab press – Abu Ghraib is just one example. Can we imagine what it would mean to hide the stories of Palestinian suffering from the global press?

Let us imagine what lies ahead for Gaza and the Palestinian territories if Johnston's capture continues and if such kidnapping and threatening behavior recurs.

We could think about the recent bombing in Baghdad's Sadr City that claimed approximately 200 civilian lives and may have been the most deadly bombing since the outset of such suicide attacks. But how was it dealt with by the media? The gravity of the crime failed to be more than a piece of news and a figure because the press is barely alive in Iraq today.

Iraq has many cameras and even more victims. However, the story between the numbers and the image no longer exists.

Let us look at Iraq and hope the Palestinians will not fall down the same trap.

CSMonitor: "Why I am not a moderate Muslim"

This is an interesting document. The author, Asma Khalid, interprets the word "moderate" as implying "not orthodox." Similar associations come up in the Jewish world, but Khalid is mostly avoiding these issues in an exercise which probably elicits approval from the CSMonitor audience anyway:
Cambridge, England - Last month, three Muslim men were arrested in Britain in connection with the London bombings of July 2005. In light of such situations, a number of non-Muslims and Muslims alike yearn for "moderate," peace-loving Muslims to speak out against the violent acts sometimes perpetrated in the name of Islam. And to avoid association with terrorism, some Muslims adopt a "moderate" label to describe themselves.

I am a Muslim who embraces peace. But, if we must attach stereotypical tags, I'd rather be considered "orthodox" than "moderate."

"Moderate" implies that Muslims who are more orthodox are somehow backward and violent. And in our current cultural climate, progress and peace are restricted to "moderate" Muslims. To be a "moderate" Muslim is to be a "good," malleable Muslim in the eyes of Western society.
Whether "Moderate" implies all these things depends on your view of Islam, I suppose. The Left is very big on the idea of the Orthodox but nevertheless pacifistic Muslim. Most Muslims are what we would call Orthodox, I think, and a fair number of them condemn Al-Qaeda and other jihadists who target the West. How many condemn Hamas? What about the death penalty for apostates? Is asking such questions the same thing as demanding a " malleable Muslim"?
I recently attended a debate about Western liberalism and Islam at the University of Cambridge where I'm pursuing my master's degree. I expected debaters on one side to present a bigoted laundry list of complaints against Islam and its alleged incompatibility with liberalism, and they did.

But what was more disturbing was that those on the other side, in theory supported the harmony of Islam and Western liberalism, but they based their argument on spurious terms. While these debaters – including a former top government official and a Nobel peace prize winner – were well-intentioned, they in fact wrought more harm than good. Through implied references to moderate Muslims, they offered a simplistic, paternalistic discourse that suggested Muslims would one day catch up with Western civilization.

In the aftermath of September 11, much has been said about the need for "moderate Muslims." But to be a "moderate" Muslim also implies that Osama bin Laden and Co. must represent the pinnacle of orthodoxy; that a criterion of orthodox Islam somehow inherently entails violence; and, consequently, that if I espouse peace, I am not adhering to my full religious duties.

I refuse to live as a "moderate" Muslim if its side effect is an unintentional admission that suicide bombing is a religious obligation for the orthodox faithful. True orthodoxy is simply the attempt to adhere piously to a religion's tenets.

The public relations drive for "moderate Islam" is injurious to the entire international community. It may provisionally ease the pain when so-called Islamic extremists strike. But it really creates deeper wounds that will require thicker bandages because it indirectly labels the entire religion of Islam as violent.
Not if it assumes that the moderate Muslims are out there and that their voices might be getting stifled by Saudi-funded groups. The image of the bad "paternalistic" West, ready to label all Muslims as violent comes very readily to hand for this "Middle Eastern/Islamic studies" major. I don't know if those who are convinced that Islam is inherently and incorrigibly violent are calling that much for "moderate Islam."
The term moderate Muslim is actually a redundancy. In the Islamic tradition, the concept of the "middle way" is central. Muslims believe that Islam is a path of intrinsic moderation, wasatiyya. This concept is the namesake of a British Muslim grass-roots organization, the Radical Middle Way. It is an initiative to counter Islam's violent reputation with factual scholarship.

This was demonstrated through a day-long conference that the organization sponsored in February. The best speaker of the night was Abdallah bin Bayyah, an elderly Mauritanian sheikh dressed all in traditional white Arab garb, offset by a long gray beard.

The words coming out of the sheikh's mouth – all in Arabic – were remarkably progressive. He confronted inaccurate assumptions about Islam, spoke of tolerance, and told fellow Muslims an un­pleasant truth: "Perhaps much of this current crisis springs from us," he said, kindly admonishing them. He chastised Muslims for inadequately explaining their beliefs, thereby letting other, illiberal voices speak for them.

I was shocked by his blunt though nuanced analysis, given his traditional, religious appearance. And then I was troubled by my shock. To what extent had I, a hijabi Muslim woman studying Middle Eastern/Islamic studies, internalized the untruthful representations of my own fellow Muslims? For far too long, I had been fed a false snapshot of what Islamic orthodoxy really means. [...]
Isn't this taking an odd turn? She was already wearing a hijab, but she didn't have a true understanding of her religion until she attended a one-day conference? And what were her pre-conference beliefs exactly? And whose fault was the misunderstanding? Is that "Radical Middle Way" really something that we enlightened, post-paternalistic Westerners can get behind? This essay is a bit short on details.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad.

Daily Kos: "Seung-Hui Cho. I Mourn Your Life and Loss"

Do you have a morbid curiosity jones? Try this:
My heart aches. Of course I mourn the passing of the thirty-two Virginia Polytechnic University students, as do we all throughout the globe. Nevertheless, I cannot forget how my heart hurts for the thirty-third victim, the one the media never seems to count among those killed, Seung-Hui Cho. On April 16, 2007 thirty-three lovable and fragile individuals passed.

Seung-Hui Cho, as he called himself, was a young man locked in Hades for decades. His death began long before the day of infamy. He longed for comfort and company. All he received was chiding. Even in death, Seung-Hui Cho is scorned. I am forlorn.

From the first, there were labels. Many said he was "Chinese"; they would then add their political concerns for China. Then he was, and today he is still frequently referred to as a Korean National. Calls for restraints on immigration are common. Of course, in the minds of many American's anyone that is not white is not right, and definitely, if they are not born in this country, they are aliens. [...]
I think that's called a tautology. See IMAO.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Linkim 4/22/07

Haveil Havalim 113 is up! Kosher Cooking Carnival 17 is up! Carnival of the Insanities is up!

Elder of Ziyon reports that an "Ann Arbor synagogue gets picketed every week."

Martin Kramer reflects on "Geopolitics of the Jews."

Mark Steyn suggests "Let's be realistic about reality."*

IRNA: "UK doctors call for boycott of Israeli Medical Association"

Simply Jews examines some "Israeli goods" that should have been boycotted.

BTB explores the past and present of Jaffa.

Israel Matzav offers a diagnosis.

Smooth Stone reveals that "U.S. had emergency plan for attacking Israel in 1967"

*h/t: RCP

(North) Korean News: "Brilliant Commander and His Invincible Armed Forces"

This is a good one:
Fifteen years have elapsed since Kim Jong Il was awarded the title of marshal of the DPRK. The Korean army and people take this opportunity to look back with deep emotion upon the imperishable Songun revolutionary leadership exploits he has performed while protecting and adding brilliance to sovereignty and dignity of the country and nation.

Kim Jong Il has long taken President Kim Il Sung's idea and policy of attaching top priority to military affairs as his political one. He started to carry forward the Songun revolution with his historic field guidance to the Guard Seoul Ryu Kyong Su 105 Tank Division of the Korean People's Army on August 25, Juche 49 (1960).

In the first days of his leadership over the army, he implanted the loyalty to the leader in the minds of the KPA servicepersons as their life and soul and put forward the army building programme for transforming the entire army after the Juche idea in the 1970s so as to turn the KPA into one of the leader and Party in reality as well as in name.

The KPA, the combat capacity of which has been strengthened in every way under the leadership of Kim Jong Il, has firmly defended socialism, smashing the U.S. imperialists' uninterrupted provocations including the spy ship Pueblo incident (1968), large-sized spy plane EC-121 incident (1969), Panmunjom incident (1976) and Panmunjom gunfight incident (1984) at each step.

With his deep penetration into the requirements of the changed international situation and revolution in the 1990s, he developed in depth the President's idea of attaching importance to arms, the military affairs and formulated the Songun politics as the basic mode of socialist politics and opened up a fresh phase for the development of the Songun revolution.

Under his Songun-based revolutionary leadership, the KPA has been strengthened into invincible revolutionary forces well equipped with modern offensive and defensive means, the destiny of the country and people firmly defended and the dawn of a great, prosperous and powerful nation broken.
Do you suppose they'll ever reach the mid-morning of a great, prosperpous and powerful nation?
The KPA will in the future, too, demonstrate its might as the powerful revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu as it is led by his great Songun revolutionary leadership.

IRIB: "Reporters victims of Zionist regime's hidden pretensions"

Conspiracy theories and bad English just kinda go together. As the article observes, "The regime's surrogates are tasked with the tension mission whose major chunk is to kidnap reporters and cast the blame on Palestinians."
As Palestine suffers one of its most critical periods, rampant insecurity for reporting teams has shot a smokescreen for the Zionist regime to realize its hidden pretensions.

The mounting crisis has taken its toll on reporters, mostly foreigners, who are held as hostages. While the presence of these voices would help make the Palestinian outcry heard in the world, it is baffling that in every incident of the kind all fingers point to the Palestinian groups.

The suspicious move could be one of those Zionist tricks which shoots two targets in a single run: for one thing, it bars reporters from conducting their savory undertaking and for the other it presents the Palestinian resistance movements as opponents to world public opinion.

The Zionist regime is scared its criminal acts are divulged and to keep the lid on aggression, it would employ all the tools at hand. Reporting teams usually flee tension-ravaged areas or limit their activities to minimal tasks. The regime's surrogates are tasked with the tension mission whose major chunk is to kidnap reporters and cast the blame on Palestinians.

It is not far from reality that the West and Tel Aviv authorities have plots to provoke world mind against the Palestinian groups. If these doomed reporters work for Zionist-dependent agencies, the ploy will better work and regarding the position of news work in the world public opinion, anyone who is to blame will become a lightning rod for obstructing information activity.

The Zionist also seeks to make a link in the mind of people between the suspicious al-Qaeda terrorist grouplet and the Palestinian resistance groups. With reporters kidnap as a routine act of terror for al-Qaeda cells, the scam could be of use for the regime in the occupied Palestine to present resistance as terrorism.

With the world of Islam suffering a humiliating lack of any independent agencies across the occupied lands, the Zionist regime will find the doors open to abuse the savory working groups to see its wicked dreams fulfilled.
IRIB credits this to the Qods News Agency.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Someone at the Guardian notices the depravity of the terrorists in Iraq

Henry Porter asks "When will Islam damn the chlorine bombers?" which isn't a bad question. Another implied question is "When will the left damn the chlorine bombers?" A further question would be whether the left is going to join the battle against what the chlorine bombers represent:
[...]The pathologies of Iraq are hard to pin down and most people in the West have long given up trying. One bomb follows another; British and American troops are killed at an increasing rate; suicide bombers are able to penetrate the Green Zone in Baghdad and there are signs that the Shia death squads are returning. Even when the bombers struck the capital last week with five separate attacks, the largest of which killed 140 people, the Western media devoted the majority of their attention to the killings at Virginia Tech.

We turn away, taking a perhaps rather odd refuge in the certainty that this is all the fault of the neoconservatives, of the arrogance of Bush and Blair and what is strangely called a policy of 'liberal intervention'. A majority were against the war in 2003 and almost everyone is now.

But this carries you just so far. It is certainly true that none of this would be happening if, in the first place, the invasion had not gone ahead and if, in the second, the Pentagon had not decommissioned the agencies, police force and military units of Saddam's state. But let us just remember a few points before switching channel.

If the number of attacks diminished, the Americans and British troops would leave Iraq far faster than seems likely at the present. The situation, therefore, can no longer be taken for a classic resistance of an occupying force. Nor can it be entirely seen as the opposite, that is to say a guerrilla war that is maintained by Islamist, Shia and Ba'athists groups for the sole purpose of engaging the American and British military.

The proof of this lies in the fact that the great majority of casualties are caused by Arabs killing Arabs, Muslims slaughtering Muslims.

This brings us back to the chlorine bombs being built by al-Qaeda to terrorise and kill their Muslim brothers, who, we must remember, were so recently oppressed by the atheistic regime of Saddam Hussein. It is as if Protestant and Catholic groups in the French Resistance used the Nazi occupation to blow up each other's churches and market places and slaughter each other's children. Actually, it is weirder in Iraq because the Sunni extremists of al-Qaeda are killing and torturing more Sunnis than Shia, let alone US soldiers.

The thought process is psychopathic: it has the same logic we heard in the ravings of the gunman at Virginia Tech. There is a similarity of exhibitionism, too, a need for attention that must escalate the horror to maintain some kind of foothold in the Western news bulletins. These monsters in Iraq must have felt a mite frustrated by the events on an American campus last week, especially as a double attack on a university campus in Baghdad in January killed twice as many students but rated a mere day's coverage in the West.

So we are talking about civil war and the convergence in Iraq of a number of opportunistic death cults, the most crazed and narcissistic of which is probably al-Qaeda, though the Shia death/torture squads fielded by Muqtada al-Sadr run a pretty close second. Is this Bush and Blair's fault? Ultimately, yes because they opened the fissure that released the superheated gases of Islamist fanaticism.

But we cannot leave it at that. Somewhere in Iraq, for example, there is an individual who allowed two young children to travel into Baghdad as passengers in the back seat of car that was loaded with explosives. Naturally enough, the children's presence lowered suspicion at the checkpoints. The car entered the city, the adults hopped out and detonated the bomb with the children still inside.

That is badness of a high order and you would expect it to have offended every loving parent across Islam. You would certainly expect to hear some stern religious voices in Middle East calling for the cessation of such barbarity in the name of one or other sect or tribe or, indeed, Allah. There are murmurs of disquiet, even horror, but in a way, the Americans and British have become everyone's alibi or at least plea of mitigation. [...]

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The unreachable hair

I don't think I have ever posted anything from the "Quad-City Times" before. According to this, "The Quad Cities rests on the banks of the Mighty Mississippi River and share a population of 400,000. The region is made up of Davenport and Bettendorf in Iowa and Moline/East Moline and Rock Island in Illinois, and surrounding communities." In any event, this is a region with knowledgeable barbers:
Quad-City barbers put down their shears and sputtered words like “preposterous” and “impossible” Wednesday when they heard of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards spending $400 for a haircut. In the Quad-Cities, $10 or $12 is about average.

“If I charged $400 for a haircut, they’d come after me with white coats,” said Leo Fier, who has been cutting hair for 49 years at his shop in DeWitt, Iowa.

Edwards’ campaign committee filed a financial report with the Federal Election Commission noting that the White House hopeful paid $400 for haircuts in California and New Hampshire, and $248 for salon services in Dubuque, Iowa.

“That’s impossible, $400,” said Don “Dutchman” Braafhart, who runs Dutchman’s Barbershop in Davenport. [...]

This calls for a song-parody:

To preen the impossible preen
To pay the unchargeable fee
To hire the Rembrandt of barbers
To sit where the bald dare not be

To wield all the barberly art
To rinse pure and chaste from afar
To try when your ends are all splitting
Subdue the uncombable part

This is my quest
To manage that mane
No matter that have-nots
Will think that it's vain

To fight for the puff
Without question or clash
To be willing to march into Supercuts
Loaded with cash

And I know if I'll only be true
To this glorious quest
That my hair will lie perfect and straight
And I'll look my best

And the world will be better for this
That one man, scorned and covered with Nair
Still strove with his last ounce of hairspray
To reach the unreachable hair

(Hat Tip: Drudge)

IRIB: "Bullies better off if heeding people"

Weird picture. Ahmadinejad's three modes seem to be threatening, boasting, and admonishing:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday called on bullying powers not to waste their energy and potential, recommending them to attempt towards welfare and security of their own people.

Ahmadinejad made the remark at a gathering of people in the city of Neiriz in the southern Fars province during his 28th provincial visit since he took office as President.

"The world propaganda system mainly seeks power and arrogance. This is while it disregards human values, faith, monotheism, justice and kindness towards others."

"The world powers seek monopoly on sciences and technologies to make full use of their capacities to have hegemony over nations, plunder their resources, insult their identities and make up their own empires," he added.

He called on these powers on behalf of the citizens of Neiriz to avoid violating the nations rights and bullying.

Ahmadinejad said that the Iranian people are unified to defend their full rights.

"They should be aware that our nation is completely entitled to make full use of its nuclear capacities," he added. [...]
And more in the same vein: "O superpowers! Heed Divine teachings":
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad advised oppresser world powers Wednesday to heed Divine messengers' teachings and not to pave the path of ignorance.

He said, "God sent his messengers to mankind with pure logic and divine teachings, the last of whom was Islam's Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH), but there are today unfortunately oppressive powers in the world that either do not grasp the essence of messengers' message, or do so, but ignore them, paving the path of ignorance, darkness, oppression, and unethical ways of life."

"I wish to send a message to these oppressive powers on behalf of you, and the entire Iranian nation, asking them to get back to the path put before them by the messengers, that is the path of divine guidance, justice, friendship, and being faithful to the covenants they have vowed with their nations."

Ahmadinejad warned the oppressive powers, "Beware, if you do not get back to this path; if you do not end your oppressive methods; if you do not keep on looting the other nations and try to keep on imposing your illegitimate hegemony over other nations, you will face the destiny of the past tyrants in history, that is none but death, and downfall for yourselves, and wretched lives for your nations."

Further addressing the oppressive powers, Ahmadinejad said, "today you selfishly and arrogantly insist on halting the path of nations' progress, including Iran, resorting to telling lies to the world public opinion and even cheating your own nations."

"Our nation tells you that you are repeating your old mistakes. You have so far kept trying for 28 years to halt the path of our nation's progress, all in vain. You can see today that our nation's youth, believing in their might and relying on their strong will, have mastered all modern sciences and technologies, and presented them humbly to the noble Iranian nation."

The President of the Islamic Republic of Iran further stressed, "I am hereby assuring you oppressive powers that the Iranian nation's demand from their political officials is taking full advantage of the entire capabilities of the nuclear energy in technical and industrial fields."

He added that the entire Iranians solidly and with tight fists shout slogans in that regard, insisting they will not yield to pressures to abandon their natural right.

Ahmadinejad said, "our nation's advice for you is to get back to the path of monotheism, justice, and friendship, at least in a bid to safeguard your own nations' immediate, and long term interests."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

(North) Korean News: "Imperishable Banner for Great National Unity"

Does anyone actually think like this? Or are all these articles generated by fear of being caught writing in any other way?
Kim Jong Il made public the classic work "Let Us Reunify the Country Independently and Peacefully through the Great Unity of the Entire Nation" on April 18, Juche 87 (1998).

He, in the work, put forth the five-point policy for overall national unity which would serve as an important guideline in achieving the great unity of the whole nation and accomplishing the cause of national reunification by thoroughly adhering to and carrying forward the great idea, exploits, experience and tradition made by President Kim Il Sung for the national unity.

The policy reflects the ideas that the great national unity must be based on the principle of national independence, the entire nation must unite under the banner of patriotism and national reunification, the relations between the north and south should be improved, the whole nation must reject domination of outsiders and fight against the anti-reunification forces and all the Koreans visit one another, hold contacts, promote dialogue and bolster up solidarity among them.

The policy had no sooner been made public than it enjoyed full support of the entire fellow countrymen and displayed its vitality and validity to the full.

The historic Pyongyang meeting and the publication of the June 15 Joint Declaration embodying the idea "by our nation itself" in June 2000 proved the validity of the five-point policy once again and were an epochal event of weighty significance in putting the period to the protracted history of distrust and confrontation and in accomplishing the cause of national unity and reunification.

As a result the movement for national reunification has been turned into a nation-wide one and the enthusiasm of the whole nation to achieve national reconciliation and unity between the north and the south has been forcefully pushing ahead with the cause of the great national unity, the cause of national reunification, under the uplifted banner of the historic June 15 north-south joint declaration.

The national collaboration has become an unquenchable trend in spite of the obstructions of the foreign forces and pro-U.S., anti-reunification forces in south Korea, the severed artery and territory between both sides have been re-linked and the reconciliation and unity, cooperation and exchange have been positively promoted, thus making signal successes unprecedented in the reunification movement for more than a half century.

This year, too, the Korean people are vigorously launching the reunification movement with a firm resolution to reunify the country without fail with the concerted efforts of our nation by our nation itself holding aloft the slogan "Add brilliance to the June 15 reunification era by attaching importance to the nation, maintaining peace and achieving unity!"

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ayatollah borrows Kim Jong Il's speechwriters again

From IRNA:
Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei urged the armed forces to prepare the ground for promoting religion, firm determination, communication with the public, self-confidence and courage to take great measures by safeguarding their religious and revolutionary identity.

Speaking at a meeting with commanders of the armed forces, Ayatollah Khamenei pointed to the religious and revolutionary identity of the Army, which was developed after the victory of the Islamic Revolution, as a great development.

At the meeting, which was held on the threshold of the Armed Forces Day (April 18), the Supreme Leader congratulated all armed forces personnel and their families on the occasion.

"Cooperation of courageous, wise and faithful armed forces in the early days of Islamic Revolution and the efforts of the Islamic ruling system to strengthen the revolutionary and popular armed forces are two major factors contributing to change of their identity, which resulted in the flourishing of their talents," added Ayatollah Khamenei.

The Supreme Leader also urged the armed forces to get updated on modern technologies and pave the way for production of required advanced equipment by relying on their potentials and inner faculties.
While the Ayatollah was extruding totalitarian gloop, Ahmadinejad was spouting defiant blather:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday the world should know the Iranian nation would insist on its nuclear rights with tied fists.

The president was speaking to a crowd of local residents of Eqlid city on the second day of his five-day visit to the southern province of Fars.

He said existence of corrupted powers is the problem of humanity, adding the powers believe in material and man-made values instead of divine values.

He added "Arrogant powers insist on their own values. They overlook freedom of human beings, rights of nations and democracy to maintain their dominance," he added.

"They do not let other nations scale peaks of science, welfare and progress. They are angry with progress made by the Iranian nation because they are interested in their own monopoly on science, technology and development and want war and cruelty for other peoples," the president said.

He stated that economic sanctions against Iran during the past 28 years brought nothing for arrogant powers while the Iranian youth conquered peaks of science and technology day by day.

Addressing big powers, Ahmadinejad said, "You should know that your actions against the Iranian nation will bear no fruit but will strengthen national will and decision.

"The united Iranian people will resist until they obtain all their rights. They will not withdraw even by one step." [...]
And it was only the day before that Ahmadinejad declared that "Iranians are men of dialogue, logic."

Monday, April 16, 2007

Gilad Atzmon: "For me, Jihad and Jazz are very similar forms of commitment"

There is an element of resistance to oppression in Jazz, but violent Jihad as currently practiced seeks to impose tyranny. What would be the true musical equivalent of Jihad?
For many years I considered America as my promised land. As a young Jazz musician I was pretty convinced that sooner or later I would end up living in NYC. My Jerusalem was Downtown Manhattan and of course my holy scriptures were the old Blue Note vinyls. My Rabbis were named Coltrane, Bird, Miles, Duke, Dizzy, Bill Evans and naturally, there were many others. I was convinced of this reality for a while, and in fact, it took time before I realised that Jazz was far more than mere music. It took a while before I gathered that Jazz was something else, that it was actually a form of resistance. Nowadays I realise that Jazz is no different from Jihad, accordingly, playing Jazz is my personal Jihad. I do grasp that some people in this room may already find my ideas nostalgic, some may even be convinced that I am either totally deluded or just out of my mind. I can live with it. I do realise that ‘things have changed’, they’ve changed for you as much as they’ve changed for me. I do realise that Jazz is not exactly a form of resistance anymore. May I mention that America isn’t my promised land either. In fact, at the time of writing this talk, I wasn’t even sure whether I would be allowed entry into your country. As much as Jazz, the classical music of America, has been a call for freedom, America is not a free place anymore. I often argue that before liberating others, it is the American people who should first liberate themselves. I am pretty sure that sooner or later they will.

I have been participating in some public debates lately concerning the common denominator between Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan. I’m glad to mention that it is rather noticeable that more and more people are now happy to admit what some of us realised years ago. The Palestinians, the Iraqis and the Afghanis are paying a very dear price for the Ziocentric shift within the Anglo-American decision-makers circuit. Seemingly, Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine are just the aperitif for an endless feast. The Ziocons have some big appetite to satisfy. The same lobbies that led America towards this disastrous invasion in Iraq and Afghanistan are now doing whatever they can to push America towards intervention in Iran and Syria. For those few who still fail to realise it, America has been operating officially as an Israeli mission force. It currently fights the last sovereign pockets of Muslim resistance.

Often enough, the true aim of the Zionist lobbies is concealed. Instead the Zionist lobbies promote some righteous phoney humanitarian alternatives. The American Jewish Committee (AJC), for instance, is aggressively lobbying against human rights abuse in Iran and Darfur. Since human rights issues are really close to my heart, I find myself wondering whether the Jewish organisation shouldn’t rather be concentrating on the colossal war crimes that are daily repeated by Israel in Palestine. Rather occasionally we read about AIPAC equating Iran and Syria with Nazi Germany. Again, someone should remind the Zionist lobbyists that actually it is Israel, the “Jews Only State”, that happens to be the one and only ideological remnant of racist nationalism.

Three weeks ago the Palestine Chronicle made an on-line poll . . . It asked the following question: ‘Does the Israel Lobby control US policy on the Middle East?’

Needless to mention, no one would even have dared raising such a question five years ago. Now this question is asked repeatedly and as it seems, people aren’t shying off from telling what they really think. 80% said yes, 15% said no, and 4% were not sure. Looking at these results points to the reality many want us to deny. The vast majority of English-speaking Palestinians, Palestinian solidarity campaigners and anti-war activists are now ready to admit that the Israel Lobby controls US policy in the Middle East. We are ready to accept the fact that America operates as an Israeli mission force. America straightens the line with Israeli interests and sacrifices its sons and daughters maintaining Israeli regional hegemony. [...]

Seemingly, spirit and beauty means very little to us unless attached to a commodity. In our Americanised reality, existence means market value. Yet, spirit of resistance and beauty are invaluable. I may suggest that we will never be able to fully understand what the Palestinian and Iraqi struggle means to its people unless we liberate ourselves from our narrow material vision of reality. We can never grasp people who sacrifice the ultimate unless we acknowledge that there is far more to life than just life. We can never understand Iraqi insurgency and the Palestinian liberation struggle unless we try to understand what soil may mean to people who refuse to get drunk on Coca-Cola.

The search for the meaning of solidarity is a personal issue. I believe that the meaning of solidarity is probably a very dynamic notion. I am starting to realise that within the current structure of affairs, the left who was pretty effective in mobilizing anti-imperial campaigns for years, may not provide anything for Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq. The left, being a rational, post-enlightenment outlook, has its problem to solve with Islam and religious devotion. I hope that I am wrong here. I can see some isolated islands of left dialectic thinkers are ready to acknowledge that Muslim resistance may as well convey an alternative vision of reality and resistance.

I can speak for myself. For me, Jihad and Jazz are very similar forms of commitment. For me, the generations of Black Americans who sacrificed everything for the sake of beauty and resistance were actually engaged in a holy war. [...]
Tags: Atzmon, Jazz, Jihad

Novack told what he wants to hear

The title of this Robert Novack article is "Hamas Calling for Peace." In the course of the essay we learn that Hamas is not actually "calling for peace," but not to worry: Hamas is "no more relevant to Palestinian policy than the views of extremist anti-Palestinian Israeli Cabinet member Avigdor Lieberman are to Israeli policy":
On Saturday, April 7, ending a seven-day visit to Israel, I finally got an interview I had sought for a year. I sat down in a Palestinian National Authority office in Ramallah with a leader of Hamas, the extremist organization that won last year's elections. He pushed a two-state Israeli-Palestinian solution and deplored suicide bombers. But officials in Washington seemingly do not want to hear Hamas calling for peace.

No fringe character, it was Hamas's Nasser al-Shaer: education minister and deputy prime minister in the new coalition government. He signaled that this regime recognizes Israel's right to exist and forgoes violence -- conditions essential for talks about a viable Palestinian state adjoining Israel -- even though Hamas does not. "We hope that it is going to be a matter of time," Shaer told me. "But there is a big chance now."

When I returned to Washington last week, I sought the reaction of Bush administration officials (who refuse any contact with Hamas). I asked to talk to Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser who is most influential in making and executing policy on Israel. Abrams once was my fellow Cold Warrior and friend whom I defended, but his aide let me know last Thursday that Abrams would not talk to me about Hamas. A senior State Department official showed no interest in what Shaer told me.

U.S. policy goes well beyond the economic boycott that has devastated the Palestinian Authority since Hamas won elections Jan. 25, 2006. U.S. government officials and contract workers in the Israeli-occupied territories must leave when anybody from Hamas enters a room. Since the State Department lists Hamas as a terrorist organization, Americans who do not work for the government fear that contacting a Hamas member of the Palestinian government would violate the Patriot Act.

Accordingly, a year ago, sources who put me in touch with other Palestinians refused to help with Hamas. The best contact I could make then was a brief telephone conversation with a Hamas underling.

I arrived in Jerusalem again April 3, two weeks after Hamas brought the more moderate opposition Fatah party into a new National Unity government. The Los Angeles Times had just run a remarkable op-ed column by political independent Salam Fayyad, finance minister in the new government who lived in Washington for 20 years, served as a World Bank official and is well respected in the West. He wrote that the Palestine Liberation Organization's 1993 acceptance of Israel and disavowal of violence is "a crystal-clear and binding agreement" that "no Palestinian government has the authority to revoke." He added that the unity government's platform "explicitly" pledges to honor all PLO commitments.

Over dinner in a Ramallah restaurant April 4, Fayyad told me he offered his column simultaneously to several major American newspapers to get this story out quickly. But do his Hamas colleagues accept his reasoning? Fayyad made clear he was not flying solo.
And that should be enough to reassure anyone, right?
Just before my trip ended, the Palestinian Authority at long last put me in touch with an official who was no low-level bureaucrat. Nasser al-Shaer was deputy prime minister in the all-Hamas regime last Aug. 19 when he was seized in an Israeli raid on his home in Ramallah and held for a month without charges or evidence.

In his ministry office April 7, he looked nothing like the shirt-sleeved, tie-less Shaer photographed when he was released last Sept. 27. Holder of a doctorate from England's University of Manchester, he was dressed in a stylish suit. More telling than his appearance was what he said.

When I asked whether Hamas agreed with Fayyad's formulation, Shaer said it did not matter: "We are talking about the government, not groups." He said Hamas was no more relevant to Palestinian policy than the views of extremist anti-Palestinian Israeli Cabinet member Avigdor Lieberman are to Israeli policy. Unexpectedly, Shaer expressed dismay that "previous attempts at peace were ruined by suicide bombers. Now, we look forward to a sustained peace."

While avoiding Israel-bashing, Shaer conjectured: "I don't think the Israeli government wants a two-state solution. Without pressure from the president of the United States, nothing is going to happen." That sounded like a plea for help from George W. Bush. But will he hear it if Elliott Abrams does not listen?
(Hat Tip: Martin Kramer)

Update: See Elder of Ziyon.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Asharq Alawsat: "Team Hezbollah"

The author, Hussein Shobokshi, writes that "Resistance is a great honour that should not be tainted by distorted facts or by other suspicious motivations," so I wouldn't exactly say that we are in friendly territory here, but this is interesting:
Objective observers of the tense situation in Lebanon would no doubt be astounded at the extreme exploitation of the concept of resistance by Hezbollah (whose priorities were once "only" to confront Israel and liberate the occupied territories). However it is clear that there is "league of supporters" for Hezbollah that strives to stir up its discourse and raise the ceiling of its demands so as to seek temporary protection and confuse those who prosecute them. There is a clear attempt to implicate the party so that it would be the primary obstacle to necessary solutions, such as the International Tribunal, the parliamentary sessions that have been pendent for a long time now as well as a solution to choosing the next president for the republic. Today, it seems obvious that Hezbollah is the only real movement on the ground, which clearly stands against the International Tribunal and against the government carrying out its natural role. This became clear after the scandalous exposure of the size of forces and the real presence of the Free Patriotic Movement led by Michel Aoun. It was further elaborated following the events at the university and the consequent riots. The movement could not secure its areas and Hezbollah had to send some of its forces for support in numbers. There is a group that still wagers on the remaining legacy and the old glory of Hezbollah, with the intention of developing a new "reality" on the ground; a fact that was clear in the latest speech of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah especially regarding the issue of the International Tribunal and "foreign" intervention in this case.

I don't know how Nasrallah failed to comment on Tehran, Damascus, Isfahan or other neighbouring cities that do not cease to issue statements that strongly interfere in Lebanese affairs and from which Lebanese politicians and leaders seek to acquire consent; does this not count as foreign interference as well? There are many supportive mouthpieces who occupy media, parliamentary and academic positions and work hard to justify and express supportive viewpoints of Hezbollah. Such figures resemble those who put on a blindfold and continue the dance of death and to deny tremendous facts and variables of extreme importance. The issue of the International Tribunal and the assassination of Rafik Hariri is not simply a "story". It is rather a shift in dealing with criminal acts that have lasted for many years, claiming the lives of many innocent people year after the year whereby no one can comment on it in fear of sharing the same fate as those who were assassinated. This issue is no longer a Lebanese issue only. In fact, there is a public desire in the Arab world to know who carried out this heinous crime. This desire is associated with scepticism regarding the ability of local authorities to carry out their role in the correct manner without being exposed to various threats, harassment and even assassination. It is extremely necessary now for Hezbollah to save itself and all that it accomplished by keeping away from its dancers and supporters in the third tier of the political stadium. These people had jumped fences and have not paid the price for the political ticket. Thus their presence in the same arena as Hezbollah is illegitimate. Resistance is a great honour that should not be tainted by distorted facts or by other suspicious motivations. Legitimate support of resistance should not be replaced with aims for discord and disunity. Beware of Team Hezbollah as they have a more dangerous presence than many people may think.

Daily Star: "What are Arabs to make of Israel's persistent refusal to make peace?"

More about that olive branch. Note the threatening tone:
For decades, Israelis have tried to convey the fictitious and somewhat paranoid idea that their tiny, helpless Jewish state is perpetually under threat because it is surrounded by perennially hostile Arab regimes. At no point in history has this idea seemed as absurd and out of touch with reality as it does now. Quite the contrary, the Arab League summit in Riyadh this year extended a hand of peace to Israel yet another time, re-adopting the Saudi-penned peace initiative which was first unanimously approved by all Arab states in 2002 in Beirut and accepted at subsequent gatherings.

But as in the past, Israel's response to the renewal of the Arab League's historic offer has been remarkably cold. Israeli officials initially rejected it out of hand, saying that they could not possibly accept the offer in its current form. Premier Ehud Olmert later tried to soften Israel's stance, and on Sunday he said that he would be "willing to hold a dialogue with any grouping of Arab states about their ideas." But there is little point in discussing the details of the offer, particularly since it is straightforward, arguably even generous, and more importantly, grounded in international law. Instead of jostling to secure themselves a better deal (and more Arab land), the Israelis ought to accept the principles of the offer as it stands.

The Israelis would be foolish to assume that they can continue to occupy Arab lands indefinitely or to think that that they have the leisure of postponing peace until a later date. As Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani put it over the weekend, "the Israelis should realize that antagonizing the Arabs and delaying the delivery of their rights is not in their interest, and that it could bring a catastrophe to Israel." It is possible, he added, that the Israelis "might face in the future an Arab generation that rejects peace with them."
That certainly never happened in the past.
Sheikh Hamad is correct to point out that future generations of Arabs will be less likely to make peace overtures if they grow up knowing that such offers were flatly turned down so many times in the past. The Israelis should consider the message that they would be sending to the more than 300 million people around them if they reject this current Arab hand of peace. We would have no choice but to believe the evidence in front of us: that the Israelis simply do not want to abide by international law or exist in peace with their neighbors.

Inependent: "Iran trains 'thousands' of Iraqi insurgents"

What? These aren't just claims invented by Neo-con Chickenhawks?
Thousands of Iraqi Shias are being trained in advanced guerrilla warfare tactics at a secret camp near the Iranian capital, according to militants who say they have spent time there.

Through an Iraqi intermediary who also went to Iran, The Independent on Sunday spoke to two seasoned guerrilla fighters. They said large numbers of Mahdi Army volunteers loyal to the maverick Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr had gone to the base in Jalil Azad, near Tehran, for instruction.

Abu Amer, a 39-year-old Mahdi Army fighter who asked that his full name not be used, said he had been trained by instructors he believed were from Iran's Revolutionary Guard. "Shia fighters are being trained in modern fighting methods, such as use of powerful explosives and bringing down helicopters," he told the IoS.

Another fighter, who asked to be identified only as Abu Rafed, said he had seen hundreds of fellow Iraqi Shia militants there. "We were taught how to attack the Americans, we learned all the modern ways to shoot down helicopters and destroy tanks and armoured vehicles. It is preparation for the time when we will have a big battle with the occupiers."

Sketchy though these accounts are, they are the first independent confirmation of repeated British and US claims that Iraqi militants are being trained, funded and armed by elements in Iran. The implications for the American-led security "surge" in Baghdad, disrupted by high-profile bombings last week, are extremely serious.

Last week Maj-Gen William Caldwell, the US military spokesman in Iraq, said that questioning of fighters captured as recently as this month confirmed many had been in Iranian training camps.

Linkim 4/15/07

Haveil Havalim 112 is up! Carnival of the Insanities is up!

Israel Matzav asks "Was Johnston murdered?"

At Augean Stables "Maurice Ostroff Chronicles the Impact of Pallywood on Hyper-Self-Critical Jews" (h/t: Solomonia)

Meryl Yourish reports that "British journalists stop even trying to pretend they’re impartial."

SerandEz announces the JIB awards.

Times Online warns "Beware. The claws are there."

Yisrael Medad reveals "Finally, I Appear in a Conspiracy Theory."

It's "Question & Answer Time" at Treppenwitz.

NY Times: "Eye on Iran, Rivals Pursuing Nuclear Power"

Saturday, April 14, 2007

IRIB: "Qods Brigades able to hit Israel"

Start out the week with some good news:
Abu Hamze, Spokesman of the Qods Brigades, the military branch of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement announced Saturday that these brigades have a caches of advanced missiles which can target Zionist-settled occupied cities near Gaza Strip.

Abu Hamze said the missiles can hit the Zionist settled areas for more than one year ten rockets a day.

According to DPA in Gaza, Abu Hamze said in a statement that the movement has great caches of Qods medium-range, Qods 3, two-phase Qods and Katiusha missiles.

The Zionist Haaretz newspaper claimed today that the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas has given some weapons to the Islamic Jihad Movement.
That refers to this: "Security sources: Hamas is arming Islamic Jihad with Qassams":
Security sources on Thursday said Hamas is supporting Islamic Jihad's rocket attacks against Israel with behind-the-scenes activities that include arming the organization's militants with Qassam rockets.

They said Hamas is emerging as the lynchpin of Palestinian terrorist activities against Israel.

While Hamas is maintaining a front of abiding by the cease-fire with Israel in the Gaza Strip, it is providing Qassam rockets to Islamic Jihad militants who are targeting Israeli towns in the south, the security sources said.


Meanwhile, for the first time on Thursday, Hamas extremists openly demonstrated against the leadership of the group.

A group of nearly 200 gunmen from the military wing of Hamas and the Executive Force demonstrated in the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip against the unity government and declared that they will only abide by orders from the former foreign and interior ministers, Mahmoud Al-Zahar and Said Sayam.

Another reason for the mutiny revolves around disputes over the identity of the Palestinian prisoners on a list provided to Israel recently, for a possible exchange for the release of abducted IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.

Some of the demonstrators argued that the list of prisoners was prepared by those prisoners' relatives.

A meeting scheduled Wednesday between Nizar Riyan, a senior figure in the political leadership of Hamas, and members of the "rebels" ended with an exchange of gunfire near Riyan's home.

According to security sources, Hamas has adopted a strategy of duality, which will be maintained under all circumstances, including a situation of a general cease-fire. On the basis of this strategy, a Palestinian organization will continue violent activities against Israel notwithstanding a cease-fire. [...]
A Kos Diary today refers to Hamas's "willingness to accept a two-state solution" and "ability to sell it to the various armed Palestinian factions." Oh well.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Fars News: "West Makes Islamic States Fear Iran"

See there? Fear of Iran is just a World Arrogance plot:
Tehran's Interim Friday Prayers leader Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani said that the West makes certain Islamic countries feel fearful of Iran in a bid to sow discord among Muslims.

Addressing worshipers on Tehran University campus here on Friday, Emami Kashani said that the West has realized that its deceptions and military force are not working on Islamic countries any longer and it has, thus, resorted to different plots to sow discord among Muslims.

He further mentioned that the West seeks to foment a strife among Islamic states, adding, "Once such a thing happens, Muslims would kill each other and the West can obtain its desirable outcomes thereby."

The cleric said, "Sowing discord is the West's main strategy for dominating the Muslim world today, and this is exactly what the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution (Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei) is truly worried about, and that's why the Supreme Leader has named the current Iranian year as the 'Year of National Unity and Islamic Solidarity'."

"The arrogant world has concentrated on Iran, and the West seeks to make certain Islamic Countries fear Iran. Enemies intend to cause horror and fan psychological warfare inside Iran," he continued.

"Although our nation is vigilant and united, enemies still try to wage a psychological war on Iran to sow discord among the Iranian nation," the Cleric said, adding that none of the enemies' plots would yield fruit for them.
Have a Songun Shabbos!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dar Al Hayat: "Saddam Asks from His Grave"

Interesting, no?
What if Saddam Hussein, after four years of the scene in Firdos Square, could ask some questions from his grave? He would address the Iraqis: 'Do you believe that your conditions today are better than they were four years ago? How do you explain that the number of deaths during my short period of absence is double that of those who were killed during my long reign? Do you believe that the practices of the Baath intelligence bodies were cruel like the roaming militants and death squads? If my regime was the problem, why have funerals increased despite its absence? Why are you now escaping to neighboring countries or seeking shelter in remote ones?' He might conclude by saying in his well-known arrogance: 'I was tyrant in Iraq, but Iraq existed. Today, oppression has been worsened, darkness has increased, and Iraq no longer exists'.

Saddam Hussein might ask the Arabs: can it be said that your conditions today are better than they were four years ago? What about the flagrant regional imbalance of power with the Israeli enemy first, and then with neighboring Iran? Or don't you feel that the fall of the eastern gate was expensive and exposed the Arab region and countries to the non-Arab agendas in the region? It is true that I was a factor of disorder, but the concerns raised by my regime cannot be compared to the dangers of the sectarian schism that is poisoning the whole nation and threatens its countries, the cohesion of its societies, the future of its peoples, and the destiny of its wealth? Is it true that there is a major country on a route through the region, and that the Arabs will remain as orphans between two bombs and arsenals?

Saddam might ask the US and its allies in the West: 'Do you think that the world has become more secure by just canceling me from the equation? Where is the democracy of which you claimed that its shining example would begin in Baghdad? Do you think that the venture in Iraq strengthened, or missed the opportunities of, winning the war on terror? What about Iraq, which turned into a field institute for producing new generations of suicide bombers? Is it the New Middle East that you promoted? Is coexistence with Moqtada al-Sadr less costly than with Saddam Hussein?'

On April 9, 2003, a US tank pulled down the statue of 'Mr. President, the Leader'. Many people took to the streets to cheer and destroyed pictures and statues of the fallen regime. On that day, Saddam would not have the right to ask the questions that he is asking four years later. Asking questions does not, however, exempt him from the responsibility or alleviate his horrible practices at the internal and external levels. Saddam went with his medals and atrocities. We left him asking so that we may ask about Iraq, as he is part of our nation, necessities of balance and security.

After four years, the number of deaths approaches the number of palm trees. A man called George Bush committed stupidity portending a comprehensive disaster to Iraq and the nation, with long-term losses to the security of the region and the world, and expensively to his country. In Iraq, those who imagined that they were victorious have not managed their victory properly. Those who felt they were defeated have not behaved in a way that reduces losses. Options of revenge, despair and suicide prevailed. Saddam Hussein has gone, but the disaster is still in its beginning.

The Skies of Iran: Pro-nuke Kites, UFOs, ICBMs, etc.

Most of my recent postings about Iran have involved the incident with the British sailors. It is now time to turn from the nautical to the aeronautical:

IRIB: Kids back N-tech with kite fest
By holding a kite festival in the Isfahan provincial city of Shahreza, students supported the country's nuclear technology on Thursday.

More than 500 primary school students accompanied by their parents, raised their kites in the ceremony, the motto of which was "nuclear energy is our inalienable right."
Pity the article isn't accompanied by a picture.

Fars News: UFO Observed in Western Iran
A radiant Unidentified Flying Object was observed in the sky of the town of Yasouj in western Iran from 20:00 to 20:30 hours local time (16:30 to 17:00 GMT) Wednesday night.

Witnesses told FNA that the object has been observed for more than an half an hour.

Witnesses also said that the UFO which was as big as a ball and with a blue color disappeared after the weather grew cloudy.

Officials declined to comment on the event.

In similar incidents in the last few months, 4 Unidentified Flying Objects were witnessed in separate cases in the same area and almost at the same time.

In one of such cases a UFO crashed in Barrez Mounts in the central province of Kerman.

Officials, then, denied reports that the explosion has been the result of a plane or chopper crash, reminding that all the passing aircrafts have been reported as sound and safe.

They also stated that investigations were underway by police and other relevant authorities in that regard.

While some reports spoke of meteors, governor general of Kohgilouyeh and Boyer Ahmad province said there were no conclusive witnesses in that regard, yet he did not dismiss the possibility that the crash has been caused by a meteor.

Eye-witnesses assured that the explosion has been caused as a result of the crash of a radiant unidentified flying object onto the ground.
Was any wreckage found?
Meantime, an informed source told FNA that the object has been on fire and there has been thick smoke coming out of it prior to the crash, concluding that the object couldn't have been a meteor as meteors do not smoke.

The source also said that the crash has been witnessed by people in several cities, and mentioned that the rendezvous point was located 100 kilometers from the provincial capital city of Kerman.

He said that people in the city of Rafsanjan also reported to have witnessed a similar incident several days before.

Similar crash incidents have been witnessed frequently during the last year all across Iran, and officials believe that the objects could be spy planes or hi-tech espionage devices.
MENL: "Iranian Missiles Can Strike Europe":
Iran has at least 20 missiles that could strike targets in Europe.

A leading U.S. missile analyst said Iran has acquired an arsenal of BM-25 intermediate-range missiles that could strike Europe. Riki Ellison, president of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, said the U.S. missile defense umbrella was insufficient to protect against Iranian missiles.

"Iran has over 20 intermediate-range missiles that can reach continental Europe," Ellison said. "These 20 BM-25 missiles were purchased from North Korea in 2005 and are a variant of the Soviet SS-N-6 submarine-launched ballistic missile. With a range beyond 3,000 kilometers, these missiles pose a direct threat to central Europe."

In late February 2007, Iran launched a sub-orbit missile that traveled 150 kilometers into space. Ellison said this could mark a milestone in Iran's efforts to achieve intercontinental ballistic missile capability.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Daily Star: "Hizbullah's divorce from the rest of Lebanese society"

Michael Young, the Daily Star's "opinion editor," offers interesting criticism of Nasrallah:
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's speech on Sunday formalized Hizbullah's divorce from the rest of Lebanese society, confirming there is a fundamental rift between the party and a majority of Lebanese over a vision for Lebanon. But the rhetoric was also something more prosaic. It echoed a statement last week by former Minister Wiam Wahab, one of Syria's licensed local spokesmen, that negotiations over the distribution of portfolios in the government had become "stupid," and that a more fundamental change in the political system was now needed.

Both points Nasrallah combined in a key passage of his address. Lebanon was passing through a "fateful and important period" of its history, he argued, and "the issue is not one of [an] 11-19 [distribution of ministers in the government] or 17-13; it is much deeper than that." The real issue was one of control, with the parliamentary majority seeking to impose its writ on the whole country with international, particularly American, encouragement. The only way Lebanon could emerge from its crisis was through new elections or a referendum. The Hariri tribunal would only be endorsed once the opposition introduced changes into the text, and would have to be approved by the government in a session presided over by President Emile Lahoud. The tribunal itself might be formed only after the United Nations investigation of Rafik Hariri's assassination was completed (though, Nasrallah insisted, the judgment had already been written). And Nasrallah described the four generals who are suspects in the assassination as "political prisoners" who had to be released.

While the majority and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora are taking the Security Council route to establish the Hariri tribunal under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, Hizbullah's secretary general merely reiterated Syria's line on the Lebanese deadlock. He reaffirmed that the party's conflict with its adversaries is an existential one and, rashly, made Shiites the first line of defense in protecting Hariri's killers.

Nasrallah ruled out a civil war, and his threat that the opposition would be willing to stick to its position for two more years, until Parliament's mandate ended, suggested he is not looking for an imminent escalation. Instead, the opposition's tactic is to wear the system down through inertia, even if economic disaster is the result. Nasrallah's aim is to gain time for his Syrian allies, push the international community and the Arab world to exasperation or hesitation, so they will approve of a revitalized Syrian role in Lebanon, and, by so doing, guarantee that Hizbullah will be able to remain a military organization as well as a political one.

Nasrallah was right. Lebanon's destiny is indeed being determined today. Will the country once again become that freewheeling liberal outpost open to both East and West that it was before 1975, and which Hariri tried to recreate? Or will it become the pro-Syrian, pro-Iranian garrison state of which Nasrallah dreams, one that would allow his party to retain its weapons and secure a future as the militant vanguard of a society whose obsession would be self-defense against proliferating foes?

Nasrallah claims that he has a majority of Lebanese on his side. That's untrue since even Hizbullah's main allies in the Aounist movement don't share the secretary general's austere designs for Lebanon, at least if their political program is to be believed. One has to wonder what Michel Aoun thought of Nasrallah's statements. Does it take much more for him to realize that, in the unlikely event he were ever to become president, the primary obstacle to implementing his own ideal of the Lebanese state would be Hizbullah's ideal of the Lebanese state? [...]
Meanwhile IRIB reveals a "new US plot in Lebanon" and see the Guardian.

David Brooks: "they had their narrative and we had ours"

I have this fantasy in which a representative of CAIR or a supposedly moderate Imam appears on Hannity and Colmes. After several evasive answers about terrorism, Hannity asks, "Do you condemn Hizbullah?" The guest replies, "Of course not, why should I be any different from all your Western left-wing intellectuals?" This is from the NY Times via Martin Kramer:
I just attended a conference that was both illuminating and depressing. It was co-sponsored by the Center for Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan and the American Enterprise Institute, and the idea was to get Americans and moderate Arab reformers together to talk about Iraq, Iran, and any remaining prospects for democracy in the Middle East.

As it happened, though, the Arab speakers mainly wanted to talk about the Israel lobby. One described a book edited in the mid-1990s by the Jewish policy analyst David Wurmser as the secret blueprint for American foreign policy over the past decade. A pollster showed that large majorities in Arab countries believe that the Israel lobby has more influence over American policy than the Bush administration. Speaker after speaker triumphantly cited the work of Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer and Jimmy Carter as proof that even Americans were coming to admit that the Israel lobby controls their government.

The problems between America and the Arab world have nothing to do with religious fundamentalism or ideological extremism, several Arab speakers argued. They have to do with American policies toward Israel, and the forces controlling those policies.

As for problems in the Middle East itself, these speakers added, they have a common source, Israel. One elderly statesman noted that the four most pressing issues in the Middle East are the Arab-Israeli dispute, instability in Lebanon, chaos in Iraq and the confrontation with Iran. They are all interconnected, he said, and Israel is at the root of each of them.

We Americans tried to press our Arab friends to talk more about the Sunni-Shiite split, the Iraqi civil war and the rise of Iran, but they seemed uninterested. They mimicked a speech King Abdullah of Jordan recently delivered before Congress, in which he scarcely mentioned the Iraqi chaos on his border. It was all Israel, all the time.

The Americans, needless to say, had a different narrative. We tended to argue that problems like Muslim fundamentalism, extremism and autocracy could not be blamed on Israel or Paul Wolfowitz but had deeper historical roots. We tended to see the Israeli-Palestinian issue not as the root of all fundamentalism, but as a problem made intractable by fundamentalism.

In other words, they had their narrative and we had ours, and the two passed each other without touching. But the striking thing about this meeting was the emotional tone. There seemed to be a time, after 9/11, when it was generally accepted that terror and extremism were symptoms of a deeper Arab malaise. There seemed to be a general recognition that the Arab world had fallen behind, and that it needed economic, political and religious modernization.

But there was nothing defensive or introspective about the Arab speakers here. In response to Bernard Lewis’s question, “What Went Wrong?” their answer seemed to be: Nothing’s wrong with us. What’s wrong with you? [...]
Read the rest and see "Where columnist David Brooks went wrong" at the Daily Star if you're interested.

Asahrq Alawsat: "Ahmadinejad’s Dangerous Games"

This is about the most pro-Western viewpoint you can get in an Arab media source, and it isn't amused by Iran:
The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has come to resemble a young child playing with a dangerous toy. On a daily basis he issues a new statement about this new toy, namely, “the nuclear bomb”. One day he is celebrating the use of the centrifugation process, another day he announces the “national nuclear day” for the Islamic Republic of Iran and on another day, he rejects nuclear inspection in protection of “the dignity” of the republic!

Israel has a nuclear arsenal; however no Israeli politician would dare talk about this openly. Moreover, Israelis deny possessing such weapon. Even Pakistan had surprised the world with its nuclear explosion after such a long silence; if it had done half of what President Ahmadinejad has done, its project would have failed and the whole world would have moved against it.

President Ahmadinejad has a real weapon, namely the 50 billion dollars that Iran had obtained in the past year through the surge in oil prices. However, unemployment and poverty rates are on the rise and those billions are aimed at companies and deals with Russia and Korea to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has the opportunity to present itself as a force for peace to its neighbors and the world in order to gain everyone's respect and create an appropriate climate for investment and development, yet it continues to search for "divine victory" in Lebanon, militarize militias in Iraq and spread Shiism from the mountains of Yemen to Tajikistan in an attempt that Iran knows will not be successful.

Assuming that Ahmadinejad now owns a nuclear bomb and that missiles are capable of efficiently carrying it, what would he do with it? Does he want to create a balance of terror with Israel so that he could negotiate with Israelis? This would be impossible as he does not believe in peace with Jews in the first place! Will he shell Israel with his bomb, hoping that his nuclear Islamic bomb would kill the Jews of Israel and at the same time spare the lives of millions of Muslim and Christian Palestinians in the occupied territories and within the Green Line?! Does he believe that the world would just sit and watch if he uses the nuclear weapon or does he forget that the Iranian people would be the first victims of such action?!

The biggest problem is that the Iranian president disregards the prospect of a large-scale military strike on Iran, which is a major strategic error. There are two aircraft carriers in the region as well as decisive firepower. It is not true that the United States cannot act because of its status in Iraq; in fact perhaps the opposite is more accurate.

Everyday, the world awakes to President Ahmadinejad's dangerous games of which he does not realize their consequences. We all fear that the political messages that the Iranian president conveys to the Iranian public would make him forget the reality of the international situation itself, hence embroiling himself and the Iranians just as others did before him.

Financial Times: "Arab street warms to showman Ahmadi-Nejad"

Ahmadinejad's Holocaust-denial also plays well on the Arab street. Besides the reaction described in the following article, there is also the question of the Muslim street in the West.
On the dusty streets of Cairo, once considered the most important capital in the Arab world, Egyptians mulled over the recent performance of Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, with most concluding he deserved a thumbs-up.

The Iranian president’s eye-catching showmanship as he announced the release of the 15 British sailors and marines seems to have generated admiration laced with a hint of frustration – why couldn’t Arab leaders be like him and stand up to the west?

The fact that Mr Ahmadi-Nejad is the leader of a Persian, predominantly Shia nation, seemed not to matter. “I consider Ahmadi-Nejad a leader of the Arab people. He has the confidence. It upsets me that we don’t have such a leader,” says Mohamed Ali, a 20-year-old student.

As Sunni Arab leaders voice concerns about sectarian tensions they say are fuelled by Iran and its interference in Iraq and Lebanon and watch Tehran’s nuclear programme with suspicion, other, ordinary Arabs see Mr Ahmadi-Nejad as a breath of fresh air.

The feelings are compounded by the perception that moderate Sunni states, such as US allies Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, simply follow Washington’s bidding, analysts say.

Abdullah Alshayji, a professor of international relations and head of the US studies unit at Kuwait University, says the Iranian leader strikes a balance that resonates in the Arab world: candid and outspoken in his criticism of the west and Israel, while appearing as a humble man of the people.

“We see that this could really give credence to Iran, that they are standing up to the two dominant powers in the region, America and Britain,” Mr Alshayji says. “What we see is Iran gaining the hearts and minds by standing up to the major powers, so it is likely the masses in the Arab street, or maybe the Muslim street, look at Iran as the only country that can play head to head with the these powers, while the axis of moderation cannot be counted on.”

Still, others say Mr Ahmadi-Nejad’s and Iran’s image in the Arab world have been hurt by the continuing violence in Iraq and the recent street clashes in Lebanon – both countries where Iran backs Shia movements.

A recent poll of five Arab countries by the Zogby Institute and the Arab American Institute found most of those surveyed had a negative perception of Iran’s role in Iraq. “Iran’s image in the Arab world is the lowest ever,” says Mustafa Alani, security analyst at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Centre.

In Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates more than 70 per cent of those questioned felt Iran’s role in its neighbour was negative, while 66 per cent and 69 per cent of those surveyed in Egypt and Lebanon respectively agreed.

Iran’s growing influence in the region has also triggered reactions among the governments of Sunni states. Recent announcements by Egypt, Jordan and the six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council that they would look at developing nuclear technology were deemed in part to be a message directed at Tehran.

Saudi Arabia has also become conspicuously more active in the region, hosting last week’s Arab League summit after initially giving up its turn to hold the meeting. Riyadh has also recently brokered a deal on a Palestinian unity government, another area where Sunni states complain of Iranian interference.

Mr Alshayji says that Iran’s decision to “embrace” the Palestinian issue and support Hamas proved to be a major embarrassment to Sunni leaders.

“Iran has played very smart politics and very showmanship politics, and has been able to gain a lot of support in the Arab street,” says Prof Alshayji.

“The ironic thing is that this serves their hegemonic ambitions, but this is something the Arab masses do not see ... They judge with their hearts and not with their minds.” [...]
(Hat Tip: Martin Kramer)