Archive for the ‘islamists’ Category

Hamas Says They Still Control Gaza, But BBC Has Doubts

January 21, 2009

Standing on a newly formed hillside of rubble in the destroyed Jabaliya refugee camp, five young men all claim to be resistance fighters.

“All of Gaza are mujahideen,” they said.


But when asked which of them had actually fired a gun in the three week-long battle with Israel, none gave a convincing answer.

And as armed Hamas policemen return to Gaza’s street-corners and traffic-lights, many in Gaza are wondering where they were when it came to fighting the Israeli Army.

Hamas still has enough power and influence here that few will criticise the Islamist movement openly.

But when Hamas called for a rally to celebrate what it has been calling a historic victory over the Israelis, the citizens of Gaza voted with their feet – they stayed at home.

In the past Hamas could easily call tens of thousands into the streets, but this time only party stalwarts could look around the devastation and believe this could be victory.

“I think the resistance is strong,” said Beithar Ajar, 26, who described himself as a Hamas legal adviser.

“I think the Israeli army is very weak. Very weak.”

Sober appraisal

A truck with loudspeakers made a turn around Palestine Square in central Gaza city, playing Hamas battle songs.

A barker standing on the back shouted insults to Israel’s government on a microphone.

But relatively few green flags unfurled in the crowd.

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Pakistan Welcomes Obama’s ‘New Way’ with Muslim World

January 21, 2009

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday welcomed a pledge from US President Barack Obama to seek a new approach with the Muslim world after eight turbulent years at the White House.

Zardari, in office four months, said the people of Pakistan welcomed Obama’s emphasis on seeking a “new way forward” with the Muslim world “based on mutual interest and mutual respect“, said a statement from the presidency.

Pakistan became a key US ally after the 9/11 attacks on the United States when it publicly renounced support for the fundamentalist Taliban in Afghanistan, but still stands accused of backing extremists.


“Renewal by the US president of commitment to high ideals and values would raise hope for a better future for the peoples of the world,” the statement quoted Zardari as saying.

“The United States undoubtedly carries an important responsibility in charting, along with other members of the international community, new perspectives for peace, progress and prosperity in the 21st century,” it said.

Under George W. Bush, cash-strapped Pakistan depended on billions of dollars of security and development aid.

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Suicide Volunteers May Still Go From Iran To Assist Hamas In Gaza

January 11, 2009

Iranian officials on Saturday strongly disputed media reports that Iran‘s top leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini has banned volunteers from leaving the country to carry out suicide bombings against Israel and stressed that the supreme leader meant only that practical obstacles remained for such attackers to get to Gaza.

The officials said The Associated Press misinterpreted Khamenei‘s comments when he said Thursday that “our hands are tied in this arena.” The AP also quoted Khamenei as saying that Iran would assist the militant group Hamas, which is fighting Israel, in other ways.

The Iranian officials said Khamenei’s words should not have been interpreted as a ban on such volunteers, but meant that any Iranians would have great practical difficulty in reaching Gaza because of Israel’s offensive. The report was used by some Arab television stations.

An Iranian hardliner wears a headband reading "Martyrdom" ... 
An Iranian hardliner wears a headband reading “Martyrdom” as he stands in front of a picture of Al-Aqsa mosque during a rally in Tehran to condemn the Israeli attacks on Gaza, December 30, 2008.REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl (IRAN)

Last week, hardline Iranian student groups had asked the government to authorize volunteers to carry out suicide bombings in Israel in support of Hamas. The students began signing up after Khamenei issued a religious decree on Dec. 28 saying anyone killed while defending Palestinians in Gaza against Israeli attacks would be considered a martyr.

Volunteer suicide groups have made similar requests in the past and the government never responded to their calls.

The student groups claim that more than 70,000 people throughout Iran have registered as volunteer suicide bombers since Israel launched its assault against Hamas-ruled Gaza on Dec. 27.

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, which has killed more than 700 Palestinians, has outraged many in Iran and the Arab world.

Israel says it launched the offensive to get Hamas from shooting rockets into southern Israel. Thirteen Israelis have died since the offensive began.

— Associated Press

Pakistan is World Leader in Anti-Terror Fight — Musharraf

January 10, 2009

Pakistan has done more than any other nation in the global war against terrorism, former President Pervez Musharraf said, in defense of his country’s response to the attacks in Mumbai.

“Pakistan has lost a large number of security personnel and civilians in the fight against terrorism,” Musharraf said today in a televised interview from Islamabad. “The world community, including India and Pakistan, must fight the root of extremism and terrorism.”

By Farhan Sharif

Ties between India and Pakistan have deteriorated since the Nov. 26-29 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that left 164 people dead. India and the U.S. have pressed for a thorough investigation of the attacks, and the government in Islamabad has confirmed that the surviving gunman is a Pakistani national.

Indian authorities say Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, the only one of 10 gunmen to survive the assault in Mumbai, told interrogators the attacks were planned and carried out by the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba. Until three days ago, Pakistan said there was no proof its nationals were involved.

Musharraf, an army general who seized power in a 1999 coup, turned Pakistan into an ally of the U.S. in its war against terrorism after the Sept. 11 attacks. He quit as president in August to avoid impeachment by a civilian coalition government elected in February.

The Mumbai attacks interrupted the five-year peace process between the two South Asian nations, which have fought three wars since independence in 1947.

Indian Allegations

“I regret that all the developments on both sides for dialogue, peace and coordination built in the past over many years were washed out by one terror incident, which the people of both sides condemn,” Musharraf said, referring to the mounting tension between the two neighbors.

Pakistan has rejected Indian allegations the attackers received the support of official agencies in Pakistan and said such accusations could raise tensions. India is examining all options to stop border infiltration and prevent terrorist attacks, Defense Minister A.K. Antony said on Jan. 7.

“Pakistan’s forces and people have all the ability to defend the country,” Musharraf said.

Gaza Cease-Fire: Bridging A Chasm; Is Hamas Ready To Deal?

January 6, 2009

How can men like Britain’s Tony Blair and France’s President Sarkozy possibly bridge the divide between Hamas and Israel and broker a cease fire?

Sarkozy was told by Prime Minister Olmert in Israel that “Sometimes the need to find a compromise in the UN comes at Israel’s expense.”

In Syria, Bashar Assad, did not respond to Sarkozy’s call to intercede with Hamas, instead slamming the Israeli assault on the coastal strip as a “war crime” and an “aggression” that Israel must halt.

In Iran, President Ahmadinejad doesn’t even believe the Holocaust really happened, has spoken about wiping Israel away, is working on a nuclear program and he doesn’t even recognize the Israel as a state, calling it “the Zionist regime.”

Tony Blair seems to understand that Israel has to get something from Hamas in order to even seriously consider a cease fire.
“If there is strong action on that front, so that Israel feels it has achieved something — namely the end of the smuggling of weapons and finance to Hamas — then I think it is possible to resolve this reasonably quickly,” Blair told CNN.

“If that doesn’t happen, if we’re not in that position, then obviously it’s going to go on.”

Late Tuesday word came that Hamas just might be ready to make a deal.

“Hamas is ready to agree to peace if the Israeli army will stop military operations and withdraw from Gaza, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad told CNN Tuesday,” said a CNN report.
“They are ready (to make a deal),” Al-Assad told CNN’s Cal Perry in an exclusive interview. “They were ready, they are ready. Today, the factors have changed so the requirement will change at the same time.

Related from CNN:

Gaza: Sarkozy Seeks Help In Syria; Told Israel is “War Criminal”

January 6, 2009

French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged Syria on Tuesday to exert pressure on its ally Hamas to help end the fighting in the Gaza Strip between the militant Palestinian group and Israeli forces.

But his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, did not respond to Sarkozy’s call to intercede with Hamas, instead slamming the Israeli assault on the coastal strip as a “war crime” and an “aggression” that Israel must halt.

By ALBERT AJI, Assocaited Press Writer

Sarkozy’s visit to the Syrian capital is part of a whirlwind Mideast tour amid European diplomatic efforts….

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Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (R) and his French counterpart ... 
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad (R) and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy hold a news conference after a meeting in Damascus January 6, 2009. Sarkozy asked Syria on Tuesday to help convince Hamas to cooperate in international efforts to end the Israeli assault in the Gaza Strip.REUTERS/Khaled al-Hariri (SYRIA)

Israel Sees Existential Fight: Enemies, Uncertainty All Around
 Gaza: France’s Sarkozy Not Helping

Understanding Israel: Necessary Step in Solving Middle East Violence?

Understanding Israel: Necessary Step in Solving Middle East Violence?

January 6, 2009

The best participants in the international scene understand the individual sensitivities and nuances in the minds of others.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is one of those international players that “gets it.”

He recently told Charlie Rose on PBS a story about understaning Russia and Russians.

Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev, Gates said, was embarrassed in Geneva in 1955 that President Dwight D. Eisenhower‘s plane was bigger than his.

“I mean, this is pretty deep-seated stuff, and so trying to avoid touching on one of Russia’s insecurities is almost impossible,” Gates concluded.

So it is with Israel.

Maybe the Holocaust left a lasting impression upon all Israelis that life, even in a seemingly secure world, can change in a moment.

And maybe the fact that Israel is surrounded by a hostile Arab community  plays heavily upon the Israeli psyche.

In Iran, President Ahmadinejad doesn’t even believe the Holocaust really happened, has spoken about wiping Israel away, is working on a nuclear program and he doesn’t even recognize the Israel as a state, calling it “the Zionist regime.”

So, when outsiders hustle into Israel to offer cease-fires, peace and security, there might be a tad of doubt.

So it was today when French President Sarkozy tried to convince Israel’s prime Minister Olmert that a cease-fire demanded by the United States would ge a really good thing.

Sarkozoy thought a U.S. Cease fire might be peachy.

Olmert: not.

Today Olmert reminded Sarkozy that “Sometimes the need to find a compromise in the UN comes at Israel’s expense.”

What Olmert was thinking we do not know.  But you can figure he was thinking: “We here in Israel are surrounded by people who want us all dead, and you Europeans and even the U.N has never been much of a help.”

By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert attends a weekly cabinet ... 
Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has some understandable doubt that the EU, UN and others will do the right thing for Israel…..REUTERS/Gali Tibbon/Pool (JERUSALEM)

Israel Sees Existential Fight: Enemies, Uncertainty All Around
 Gaza: France’s Sarkozy Not Helping

Gates on Russians:

Gaza: Israel Strikes Before Bush Departs

January 5, 2009

For nine days, as European and United Nations officials have called urgently for a cease-fire in Gaza, the Bush administration has squarely blamed the rocket attacks of the Palestinian militant group Hamas for Israel’s assault, maintaining to the end its eight-year record of stalwart support for Israel.

By Scott Shane
The New york Times
Mr. Bush, in his weekly radio address on Saturday, said the United States did not want a “one-way cease-fire” that allowed Hamas to keep up its rocket fire, and Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday echoed the point, declaring that only a “sustainable, durable” peace would be acceptable.

Many Middle East experts say Israel timed its move against Hamas, which began with airstrikes on Dec. 27, 24 days before Mr. Bush leaves office, with the expectation of such backing in Washington. Israeli officials could not be certain that President-elect Barack Obama, despite past statements of sympathy for Israel’s right of self-defense, would match the Bush administration’s unconditional endorsement.

“Obviously Bush, even by comparison with past U.S. presidents, has been very, very pro-Israel,” said Sami G. Hajjar, a longtime scholar of Middle East politics and a visiting professor at the National Defense University. “Despite Obama’s statements, and his advisers who are quite pro-Israel, the Israelis really didn’t know how he’d react. His first instinct is for diplomacy, not military action.”

Mr. Hajjar said that in addition to relying on the backing of Mr. Bush, Israeli officials may not have wanted to begin their relationship with the new president by forcing him to respond to their military action. On Dec. 19, just one month before Mr. Obama’s inauguration, Hamas declared an end to an Egyptian-mediated truce with Israel that had taken effect in June, and rocket attacks from Gaza have been increasing since then.

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Arab Nations Urged To Cut Off Oil to Isreal, Allies

January 4, 2009

An Iranian military commander called on Islamic countries to cut oil exports to Israel’s supporters in response to the Jewish state’s offensive in Gaza, the official IRNA news agency reported on Sunday.

IRNA said commander Bagherzadeh described oil as “one of the powerful elements of pressure” on the Jewish state’s Western backers in the “unequal war” faced by Palestinians in the coastal strip.

“Pointing at Westerners’ dependence on the Islamic countries’ oil and energy resources, he (Bagherzadeh) called for cutting the export of crude oil to the Zionist regime’s supporters the world over,” IRNA said, referring to Israel.


IRNA gave only the commander’s last name but it may have been referring to Mirfeysal Bagherzadeh, a brigadier-general of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards. There was no immediate comment from other Iranian officials.

Iran, which often rails against the United States and Israel, is the world’s fourth-largest oil producer and a leading member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Top exporter Saudi Arabia is a U.S. ally.

Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants battled in Gaza on Sunday after Israeli troops and tanks invaded the coastal enclave in the most serious fighting in the conflict in decades.

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Israeli artillery fire shells towards the Gaza Strip. Thousands ... 
Israeli artillery fire shells towards the Gaza Strip. Thousands of Israeli troops backed by scores of tanks are battling Hamas fighters in Gaza fields and roads, surrounding the battered territory’s main city on a mission to end militant rocket attacks.(AFP/Shay Shmueli)

Pakistan Taliban Militants Demand Women Marry Them Or “Face Dire Consequences”

January 2, 2009

On the heels of their crusade against girls going to schools, the Taliban have now issued new dictum in the areas under their sway asking parents of the grown up daughters to marry them to militants or “face dire consequences”.

From The Times of India

This new force-marriage campaign is being run in most of the areas in the Pakistan’s troubled NWFP through regular announcements made in mosques to congregations.

Such instances have come to light recently through some of the affected women daring to go to authorities for justice rather than meekly surrender to the militants’ dictates.

Salma, who teaches in a primary school in Peshawar, told the Dawn newspaper that Taliban have told families to declare in mosques if they have unmarried girls so that their hand could be given in marriage, most probably to militants.

If they did not do so, the girls would be forcibly married off, the newspaper quoted the 30-year-old widow as saying.

She also said the Taliban in the Swat valley of NWFP have threatened women with dire punishment, if they are found outside their homes without identity cards and a male relative accompanying them.

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