Archive for the ‘Muslim’ Category

Obama says US is losing war in Afghanistan and hints at Taleban talks

March 8, 2009

President Obama conceded today that the US was not winning the war in Afghanistan and opened the way for negotiations with moderate elements of the Taleban, much as America did with Sunni tribes in Iraq.

The new strategy, which comes as Mr Obama prepares to send an additional 17,000 US troops into Afghanistan, emerged after a frenetic 48 hours of American diplomacy in the region involving new overtures to Iran, Russia and the Muslim world.

The fresh approach to Tehran is causing significant concern in Israel and the Arab world over fears that Mr Obama is making too many concessions to Iran at a time when his own officials say it now has enough enriched uranium to make one nuclear weapon.

Mr Obama’s admission of the dire situation in Afghanistan followed an invitation to Iran by Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to participate in a US-headed regional conference on Afghanistan later this month.

Read the rest:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new
s/world/asia/article5869476.ece

Will Obama Defend Iraq’s Gains?

February 13, 2009

Preoccupied as it was poring over Tom Daschle’s tax returns, Washington hardly noticed a near-miracle abroad. Iraq held provincial elections. There was no Election Day violence. Security was handled by Iraqi forces with little U.S. involvement. A fabulous bazaar of 14,400 candidates representing 400 parties participated, yielding results highly favorable to both Iraq and the United States.

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post

Iraq moved away from religious sectarianism toward more secular nationalism. “All the parties that had the words ‘Islamic’ or ‘Arab’ in their names lost,” noted Middle East expert Amir Taheri. “By contrast, all those that had the words ‘Iraq’ or ‘Iraqi’ gained.”
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki went from leader of a small Islamic party to leader of the “State of Law Party,” campaigning on security and secular nationalism. He won a smashing victory. His chief rival, a more sectarian and pro-Iranian Shiite religious party, was devastated. Another major Islamic party, the pro-Iranian Sadr faction, went from 11 percent of the vote to 3 percent, losing badly in its stronghold of Baghdad. The Islamic Fadhila party that had dominated Basra was almost wiped out.

The once-dominant Sunni party affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and the erstwhile insurgency was badly set back. New grass-roots tribal (“Awakening”) and secular Sunni leaders emerged.

All this barely pierced the consciousness of official Washington. After all, it fundamentally contradicts the general establishment/media narrative of Iraq as “fiasco.”

read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conten
t/article/2009/02/12/AR2009021203012.htm
l?hpid=opinionsbox1

Thai Lawmakers Probe Abuse, Death of Hundreds of Muslim Refugees

January 23, 2009

Thailand has almost always had a troubling record on refugees.  Since the war in Vietnam ended in 1975, people have moved into Thailand by land and sea fleeing death, torture and prisons.  But in Thailand, regugees have often found death, torture, rape, miserable conditions not unlike the prisons the refugees hoped to avoid.

Last July, this from Human Rights Watch:

“Forcing civilians back into an active war zone may be an easy answer for Thailand, but it’s brutal – a completely inhumane and unacceptable solution,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Thai government should cooperate with international relief agencies and UNHCR to ensure that it upholds the rights of civilians under international law.”

******

Thai lawmakers were probing Thursday “very alarming” reports about its troops abusing and casting out members of a Muslim minority group fleeing to its shores.

Hundreds of Muslim refugees from Burma (Myanmar) are feared missing or dead after Thai troops forced them onto boats without engines and cut them adrift in international waters, according to human rights activists and authorities in India who rescued survivors. The revelations have shone a spotlight on the Thai military’s expulsion policy toward Muslims it sees as a security threat.

Nearly 1,000 refugees were detained on a remote island in December before being towed out to sea in two batches and abandoned with little food or water, according to a tally by a migrant-rights group based on survivors’ accounts and media reports. The detainees, mostly members of Burma’s oppressed Rohingya minority, then drifted for weeks. One group was later rescued by Indonesia’s Navy, and two others made landfall in India’s Andaman Islands.

Related:
Christian Science Monitor:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20
090123/ts_csm/oboats_1

CNN:
http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WO
RLD/asiapcf/01/22/thailand.refugees/index.html

Related:
Consequences of Speedy Withdrawal From Iraq?
(What happend when refugee migrations start…)

A group of refugees guarded by the Thai army sit on a beach ... 
A group of refugees guarded by the Thai army sit on a beach on the Thai island of Koh Sai Baed in this picture taken late 2008 and released to Reuters January 19, 2009. Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Sunday that he would meet human rights groups to discuss alleged violations, as further reports emerged of ill-treatment of refugees from Myanmar by Thai security forces. The refugees, the Rohingyas, are Muslims from Myanmar. Many have fled the Buddhist-dominated, army-ruled country to escape repression and economic hardship, but rights groups say hundreds were recently detained on a remote Thai island before being forced back to sea by the security forces with little food or water. REUTERS/South China Morning Post/Pool

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.

AFP

“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.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090121/wl_sthasia_
afp/uspoliticsobamapakistan;_ylt=Avf2txkun
CjCXjuRaNmKfmpvaA8F

Obama Inauguration: No Rabbis, Priests

January 20, 2009

Inauguration audiences on Tuesday will hear the new President deliver the most anticipated Inaugural Address since John F. Kennedy. They’ll hear the Queen of Soul sing and Yo-Yo Ma play. They’ll listen to hear if Rick Warren gets preachy when he prays. But there’s one thing they won’t hear: Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech ha’olam.

That’s because for the sixth straight presidential Inauguration, rabbis won’t have a place on the dais. And the Jewish faith isn’t the only religious tradition that continues to be snubbed. Since 1985, only Evangelical Protestants have played a part in the swearing-in ceremony. That will continue again this year when megachurch pastor Warren delivers the invocation and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, an African-American Evangelical, offers the benediction. At a time when the United States is more religiously diverse than at any other point in its history, and Obama’s entire campaign was built on the notion of a newfound inclusiveness and multiculturalism, it seems a glaring omission. (See TIME’s special report on civil rights and the Obama presidency.)

Time Magazine

The recent Evangelical Protestant monopoly began in 1989, when George H.W. Bush asked Billy Graham to deliver both the invocation and benediction (the opening and closing prayers) at his Inauguration. Graham did the same for Bill Clinton in 1993 and again in 1997. The decision to delegate the religious role to Graham seemed a reasonable alternative to filling the stage with an ever-growing number of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Hindu and Baha’i clergy. The famous Evangelist regularly topped the list of people Americans most admired, and he prayed in fairly broad terms, referring just to “God” and using the formulation “I pray” instead of “we pray” to make clear that he was not imposing his Christian prayer on the entire citizenry. (Read Obama’s words on his Christian faith.)

But the absence of non-Christian religious leaders was felt even more deeply starting in 2001, when Graham’s son Franklin ended his invocation with an exclusive statement: “We … acknowledge you alone as our Lord, our Savior and our Redeemer. We pray this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit.” This was not a prayer offered on behalf of all Americans but on behalf of Christians alone. It bookended George W. Bush’s Inauguration with a benediction by Kirbyjon Caldwell that declared, “We respectfully submit this humble prayer in the name that’s above all other names, Jesus the Christ,” and instructed, “Let all who agree say ‘Amen.’ ” If you didn’t agree, there was apparently nothing for you to do but shuffle your feet.

For non-Christians, but particularly for Jews who had gotten used to having a place on the dais, the development was deeply disturbing. After all, traditionally, the religious roster at presidential swearing ins looked something like the set-up to an old joke: “A priest, a pastor and a rabbi walk into an Inauguration …” Rabbis prayed at a majority of Inaugurations that took place between 1949 and 1985, as did Catholic priests.

It is true that Jewish religious leaders weren’t on the dais in 1937, when Franklin D. Roosevelt first introduced the tradition of an Inaugural prayer. Up until then, presidential Inaugurations did not include prayers. Instead, the vice-presidential swearing in took place at a separate ceremony in the Senate chambers, after which the Senate chaplain usually offered a prayer. Roosevelt decided to merge the two events and brought the chaplain along to participate as well. But in a shrewd political maneuver, Roosevelt also opened up a second religious slot on the program for Father John Ryan, an influential figure in Catholic social teaching and a prominent supporter of the New Deal. As Mark Silk, professor of religion at Trinity College, has written, Ryan was not only known as “the Right Rev. New Dealer,” but he was also the most effective critic of Father Charles Coughlin, the notorious right-wing, anti-Roosevelt priest. Ryan’s participation in the Inauguration helped insulate Roosevelt against Coughlin’s attacks and shore up the growing – and critical – voting bloc of Catholic Democrats.

Related:
Obama Didn’t Need Rick Warren for Prayer; Others Abound

 Obama’s Path to Faith Was Eclectic, Diverse

Thousands across Middle East protest Gaza attack

January 5, 2009

Thousands protesting Israel’s ground offensive on Gaza converged Sunday in Beirut and Istanbul as the leaders of the only two Mideast Arab nations to sign peace treaties with Israel demanded an end to the attack.

In Yemen, security officials said anti-Israel protesters attacked several Jewish homes in the northern province of Omran, smashing windows and pelting them with rocks. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, said at least one Jewish resident was injured among the tiny minority community.

By BASSEM MROUE, Associated Press Writer

Lebanese police used water hoses to try to push about 250 demonstrators away from the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon’s capital. When that failed, they fired tear gas, Lebanese security officials said. A second Beirut protest — a sit-in outside the U.N. building — drew thousands of supporters of Hamas and Lebanon’s Islamic Group.

In Turkey, more than 5,000 people held an anti-Israel rally in Istanbul, waving Palestinian flags and burning effigies of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and President George W. Bush. Also in Istanbul, club-wielding police broke up a small demonstration by protesters who hurled eggs at the Israeli Consulate, the private Dogan news agency reported. There were no reports of arrests or injuries.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090105/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_mid
east_israel_palestinians;_ylt=AqTfoooWVJlplVIKJ8aT1_BvaA8F

For Barack Obama, Middle East Pressure Cooker Intensifies With Each Unchecked Israeli Move

January 4, 2009

With global respect for the United States at an all time low and hopes in Barack Obama at an all time high, how much more pressure and drama can a new President of the United States tolerate?

Well, Israel, the Middle East and George W. Bush are adding fuel to the proverbial fire.

An Israeli tank enters the Gaza Strip from Israel on a combat mission, Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009. Israeli ground troops and tanks cut swaths through the Gaza Strip early Sunday, bisecting the coastal territory and surrounding its biggest city as the new phase of a devastating offensive against Hamas gained momentum. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Photo: AP

Bush’s totally unbowed support for Israel and his deaf ear to pressure from the Arab world has resulted in gridlock in the United Nations Security Council.  It now looks as if the U.N. may not even consider another cease-fire proposal between Israel and Hamas until Tuesday.

The U.S. has blocked two previous cease-fire resolutions.

Many nations would like to see Isreal ordered to agree to a cease fire; but U.S. non-compliance has allowed Isreal to forge ahead in its air, and now ground, assault upon Gaza.

For right or wrong, the U.S. position on Israel is under siege: putting even more pressure on Barack Obama to come up with a solution more people can agree to in the Middle East after he is inaugurated on January 20, 2009.

Maybe Mr. Obama can still replace Rick Warren with a Muslim for the invocation….

Related:
 Gaza, Israel Highlight Stark Obama, Bush Differences

 Arab Nations Enraged At U.S. On Gaza, Palestinian Deaths
.
Gaza: International Community Allowing Isreal To Bleed Hamas?
.
Gaza and Obama’s “Deafening Silence:” Arabs and Muslims Wonder

In this Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2008 file photo, Pastor Rick Warren ... 
Rick Warren: Needs an all inclusive prayer…. and a very big rug….

Gaza: Vice Tightens on Obama, Israel; Hamas, Iran Seem Gaining World Support

January 2, 2009

Israel’s war against Hamas has so far bolstered the anti-US Iran front and placed even more daunting challenges before incoming US president Barack Obama, analysts said.

It was only a little over a year ago that President George W. Bush raised hopes of rolling back Iran’s newfound clout in the region when he helped revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace process in Annapolis, Maryland.

But five days of Israeli air strikes have instead raised the political fortunes of the pro-Iranian Hamas and lowered those of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’s US-backed rival and Israel’s negotiating partner, they say.

And they point to other regional casualties.

Egypt and Jordan, key US allies and the sole Arab partners in peace with Israel, are on the back foot against charges from Arab states, radical groups and public opinion of either doing nothing to stop Israel or actually tacitly accepting the assault.

“The camp centered around Iran and Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas has more leverage as of now because of what is happening in the Arab street,” said Amr Hamzawy, an analyst with the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace.

But Hamzawy, speaking to reporters in a conference call, added that Egypt and Turkey, a US-allied Sunni Muslim state, could still change the dynamic if they can broker a “durable” ceasefire, the formula embraced by Washington.

Read the rest:
http://www.zawya.com/story.cfm/
sidANA20090101T020734ZDFT56

Volunteer suicide bombers seek to attack Israel

December 31, 2008

Hard-line Iranian student groups have appealed to the government to authorize volunteer suicide bombers to leave Iran and fight against Israel in response to the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.

The government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had not responded to the call by Wednesday. Five hard-line student groups and a conservative clerical group launched a registration drive on Monday, seeking volunteers to carry out suicide attacks against Israel.

By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer

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)

“Volunteer student suicide groups … are determined to go to Gaza. You are expected to issue orders to the relevant authorities in order to pave the way for such action,” the students advised Ahmadinejad in an open letter, a copy of which was made available to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Volunteer suicide groups have made similar moves in the past and the government never responded to their calls. However, some hard-liners have claimed they successfully but secretly left Iran and carried out attacks against Israel. Their claims could not be verified.

The hard-liners started signing up volunteers after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a religious decree on Sunday that said anyone killed while defending Palestinians in Gaza against Israeli attacks would be considered a martyr.

Related:
Iran Urges Arabs to Condemn Israel and All “Zionists”; Calls Palestinian Losses “Real Holocaust”
.
Gaza Is “Proxy War to Eradicate Israel” Funded By Iran
.
 Israel Sees Existential Fight: Enemies, Uncertainty All Around
.
Iran Cleric Tells All Muslims To Rise Up Against Isreal; Tumult in Mideast

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081231/ap_on_re_mi_
ea/ml_iran_israel_palestinians;_ylt=Atbhb
SiKkZZn66UnuOrR8WZvaA8F

Gaza Protesters Target Pro-Western Arab Leaders

December 30, 2008

On the third day of Israel’s attack on Gaza, street protesters across the Middle East broadened their rage toward Israel and the U.S. to include Arab rulers accused of not acting forcefully and fast enough to stop the violence.

The ferocity of the Israeli attacks in Gaza — and mounting casualties, which United Nations estimated Monday at 320 dead, including 62 civilians, and more than 1,400 injured — could channel pent-up anger against Arab leaders into further support for Islamist groups. These groups are increasingly seen as the only organized movements willing to stand up to Israel.

These feelings have been there for years; what has changed is that Arabs now have extremist groups through which they can channel their anger and resentment,” said Rami Khouri, a political analyst in Beirut. “You’ll have a new generation of people who want to fight Israel.”

By Farnaz Fassihi
The Wall Street Journal

Egypt, a close U.S. ally that has served as mediator between Israel and Hamas, came under particular fire for appearing unwilling to open its border crossing with Gaza to fleeing Palestinians.

Late Monday, Egypt allowed in a handful of Palestinians who needed emergency care and provided access to Gaza to convoys of humanitarian aid coming from abroad. Egypt has in the past been fearful that opening up the border would result in a flood of refugees and Hamas operatives entering its borders.

Wounded Palestinians are treated on the floor of Kamal Edwan ... 
Wounded Palestinians are treated on the floor of Kamal Edwan hospital in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip following an Israeli air strike on the nearby Jabalia refugee camp. Wounded Palestinians finally passed through the Rafah crossing into Egypt on Monday as medical aid went in the other direction to the devastated Gaza Strip, an AFP correspondent reported(AFP/Mohammed Abed)

Cairo is struggling with its own Islamic opposition, the Muslim Brotherhood…

Read the rest:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123059
741141541147.html?mod=article-outset-box

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Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit mocked the military records of Iran and the Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim movement Hezbollah in an escalating war of words over Egypt’s cooperation with Israel in the blockade of Gaza.

From Reuters

Aboul Gheit, in an interview with Egyptian television broadcast on Monday night, said Hezbollah destroyed Lebanon in 2006 and that its Katyusha rockets and rocket-propelled grenades were nothing compared to the Egyptian army.

Addressing Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, he said: “You are a man who used to enjoy respect, but you have insulted the Egyptian people.”

Gaza AP

The Egyptian minister also attacked Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who criticised Arab governments on Monday for their lack of response to Israeli raids which have killed some 348 Palestinians in Gaza.

“It’s as if hundreds of thousands of Iranians shed their blood over the last 30 years,” he said, referring to the Egyptian view that its army bore the brunt of the suffering in wars with Israel for the sake of the Palestinians.

Egypt fought four wars with Israel between 1948 and 1973, losing tens of thousands of soldiers. In 1979, it became the first Arab country to make peace with the Jewish state.

“There are Iranian motives driving Arab parties to play in the interests of Iran,” the minister added.

Nasrallah, whose guerrilla forces withstood the Israeli invasion of south Lebanon in 2006, angered the Egyptian government with a speech on Sunday calling on Egyptians to take to the streets in protest at Egyptian policy.

Aboul Gheit replied: “Egypt is big and strong and no one outside it can move anything inside it. Egypt moves when the Egyptian people and the Egyptian leadership ask it to.”

Read the rest:
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/22/20081230/tpl-
uk-palestinians-israel-egypt-sb-43a8d4f.html