Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Worldview War

by Brad Hughes

The conjunction of humanist and Islamic worldviews will threaten to destroy America from within throughout the 21st century. Indeed, there is a war of worldviews raging in America, with secular humanism and Islam as co-belligerents on one side and Judeo-Christian America on the other.

The worldview war

The worldview war is spiritual in origin. The Bible states in Ephesians 6:12 that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Worldviews incorporate theology and therefore reflect spiritual beliefs. Life in America as we know it is at stake in this war.

A worldview is a comprehensive framework of ideas and beliefs from which an individual interprets his surroundings and circumstances. It is this view of reality that consequently directs the decisions and actions of the individual, and also of nations. According to Dr. David Noebel, worldview expert, worldviews are composed of ten different disciplines: theology, politics, economics, philosophy, biology, history, ethics, law, sociology, and psychology.

There are primarily six worldviews contending for the 6.9 billion people on Earth, with Islam, secular humanism, and Christianity chief among them.

The Islamic threat to America has historically been primarily a war of words, as characterized by S.A.A. Maududi in 1939, when he said, "Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam. Islam requires the earth - not just a portion, but the whole planet." Maududi influenced Sayyid Qutb, the leading theologian of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1950s and '60s and author of Social Justice in Islam. Qutb had a significant influence on bin Laden and Ayatollah Khomeini, the father of the Iranian Revolution in 1979.

The rise of secular humanism

Secular humanism increasingly supports the Islamists' position in the battle against the Judeo-Christian worldview. Secular humanists currently dominate the government, education, the media, and the legal institutions in the United States.

Secular humanism may be the fastest-growing worldview in America. It has also been declared a religion by the U.S. Supreme Court; the American Humanist Association has been given an IRS religious tax exemptioni.

Why are humanists and Islamists united in their opposition to the Judeo-Christian worldview?

  • Humanists and Islamists share the primary goal of removing Christianity from public life so that their worldview can gain power.
  • They both seek government solutions to accomplish utopia on earth. The humanists desire a one-world government that perfects man on earth (via the United Nations, EU, etc.), while Islam seeks a one-world caliphate and a sharia legal system that perfects man on earth.
  • Both use each other in attacking the Constitution. The Muslim uses humanist doctrine (separation of church and state) in attacking the Constitution through judges, etc. to open the door for Sharia, food regulation, sanctioned prayer, and state suppression of Christian expression. The humanist uses the Islamists to counter Christian "oppression" and attack the Constitution.
  • Both use each other in a "termite strategy." Termites destroy a house slowly and then suddenly. By the time you see them, it may be too late.

The history of Islamists joining efforts with humanists is longstanding. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem allied with Hitler's Germany to annihilate the Jews. The Ayatollah Khomeini aligned with Russia against Christian America shortly after taking power in Iranii.

Islamic and Humanist totalitarianism cause religious persecution.

Estimates of Christians persecuted worldwide have reached 200 million. Seventy-five percent of worldwide religious persecution is perpetrated against Christians, yet Christianity represents only approximately 30% of the world's population. According to Open Doors International, the top ten oppressors are Islamic or humanist countries. North Korea (humanist) is the most religiously oppressive country, followed by the Islamic countries of Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Maldives, Yemen, Iraq, Uzbekistan, and (humanist) Laos.

If Islam is peaceful, what about jihad?

Many Muslims and Humanists will assert that Islam is peaceful and that jihad is only an internal struggle to find peace with God. A textual analysis of the Bukari Hadith indicates that 97% of jihad references are to physical (combat) jihad, and only 3% to spiritual jihadii. Further, the Islamic doctrines of taqiyya (deception) and hudna (breaking treaties when circumstances are favorable to Islamic objectives) clearly illustrate a strategy to deceive the ignorant and credulous.

Jihad is a successful strategy.

Muhammad had approximately 150 converts to Islam after ten years of his efforts in Mecca. However, after journeying to Medina and becoming a physical (combat) jihadist, he acquired 100,000 converts over the next ten yearsiii. Moreover, the first hundred years after Mohammed's death gave rise to the physical jihad of his disciples, who destroyed or converted approximately 3,200 churches via plunder and conquest until Islam was defeated at the Battle of Tours in 732 A.D.

Effects of worldview.

Detroit used to be an all-American city with the highest per capita income in the 1950s. However, the advance of unions (private and public), growing corruption of secular interests, and significant growth in the Arab-Islamic population have resulted in the collapse of a once-great city.

Great Britain is the best international example of humanist-Islamic cooperation. Great Britain was the leading empire in the 19th century, and the British pound was the world's reserve currency. But Great Britain is now a shadow of its former self. Will America follow the secular humanist model of Great Britain and experience a similar decline?

Samuel Huntington summarized the problem in his classic tome, titled The Clash of Civilizations, when he said, "Islam's borders are bloody and so are its innards. The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilization whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power."

There are evil, incompetent, and indifferent combatants in this worldview war. Evil combatants (radical Islamists and secular humanists) do bad things on purpose. Incompetent combatants (secular Christians) do bad things by accident. Indifferent combatants (majority of Americans) don't care whether others do good or bad as long as their personal peace and prosperity is not disturbed. The evil combatants use the incompetent and indifferent to accomplish their goals for society.

What, then, should we do?

Judeo-Christian believers must educate themselves (and others) and engage the culture (schools, churches, synagogues, families, government, and communities) to reverse secular humanism and slow the progress of Islamic cultural and physical jihad in the U.S. We must focus our efforts on the incompetent and indifferent population within the U.S. if we are to defeat those who are evil combatants.


i U.S. Supreme Court Torcaso v Watkins (1961) p. 495

ii Bill Warner. E-mail correspondence 6-6-11 (

iii Bill Warner. E-mail correspondence 6-6-11 (

Brad Hughes


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Hezbollah in Mexico

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci

In June, a computer hacker group, Luiz Security, commonly abbreviated as LuizSec, targeted the Arizona Department of Public Safety (AZDPS). LuizSec has claimed responsibility for several high profile attacks; this time, however, the 440 megabytes AZDPS documents displayed a bulletin mentioning the presence of Hezbollah militants operating in smuggling corridors on the U.S. border with Mexico.

The document, from the Tucson Police Department, is dated September 20, 2010. At the time, just few months earlier, the Kuwaiti daily newspaper Al-Seyassah published an article saying that operatives of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah were employing Mexican nationals to set up a network in Latin America to target Israeli and Western interests. According to the newspaper, the Hezbollah group's alleged leader, Ali "Jameel" Nasr, a 30-year-old Mexican national of Lebanese descent, was arrested in the Mexican city of Tijuana in July 2010. The Kuwaiti daily also mentioned that for a period before his arrest, Nasr was under surveillance by Mexican authorities. He was also reported to be travelling frequently to Lebanon to receive instructions from Hezbollah, and making trips around Latin America, including a two-month stay in Venezuela in 2008.

As reported in 2010 by Fox News, however, U.S. and Mexican officials did not (or did not want to) confirm that a Hezbollah leader had been arrested in Mexico. "Police officials in Tijuana told that they have no information pertaining to Nasr [...]. U.S. State Department officials said they could not confirm Nasr's arrest, but would be unable to do so if the arrest occurred in Mexico. [...] The Department of Homeland Security said it does not have 'any credible information' that terrorist groups are operating along America's Southwest border," wrote

After a year, in June 2011, LulzSec disclosed instead not only that the Tucson police were informed about the arrest of Nasr, but that LuisSec was seriously worried about Hezbollah infiltrations in the U.S. through its neighbor, Mexico. The document states the following:

"Based on a study done by Georgetown University, the number of immigrants from Lebanon and Syria living in Mexico exceeds 200,000. Along with Iran, Syria is one of Hezbollah's strongest financial and political supporters, and Lebanon is its country of origin.

"In July of this year, Mexican authorities arrested Jameel Nasr in Tijuana, Baja California. Nasr was alleged to be tasked with establishing the Hezbollah network in Mexico and throughout South America.

"In April of last year [2009], the arrest of Jamal Yousef – in New York City - exposed a weapons cache of 100 M-16 assault rifles, 100 AR-15 rifles, 2,500 hand grenades, C4 explosives and antitank munitions. According to Yousef, the weapons, which were being stored in Mexico, had been stolen from Iraq with the help of his cousin who was a member of Hezbollah.

"With the arrest of Jameel Nasr and Jamal Yousef, obvious concerns have arisen concerning Hezbollah's presence in Mexico and possible ties to Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTO's) operating along the U.S.–Mexico border. The potential partnership bares alarming implications due to Hezbollah's long established capabilities, specifically their expertise in the making of vehicle borne improvised explosive devises (VBIED's).

"Recent incidents involving the use of VBIED's in Mexico mark a significant change in tactics employed by DTO's and conjures images expected to be seen in the Middle East. While no connection has been made, Hezbollah's extensive use of VBIED's raises strong suspicion concerning a possible relation to Mexico's DTO's."

The case of Jamal Youssef, arrested in New York City, is even more worrying than the arrest of Jameel Nasr in Tijuana. As reported by the Center of Immigration Studies in February 2011, Jamal Yousef, a former member of the Syrian military and senior agent of Hezbollah, was conducting a business deal to provide thousands of new U.S. arms stolen from American forces in Iraq that had been shipped and stored in Mexico, and were to be sold to the terrorist group Colombian FARC, allegedly supported by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in exchange for drugs that were to be couriered into the U.S. by Mexican cartels.

In a letter that U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick, R-NC addressed to Homeland Security a year ago, she called for more "intelligence gathering" on Hezbollah's presence along the U.S.-Mexico border." "Many experts believe Hezbollah and drug cartels have loosely been working together for decades. We have seen their cooperation in countries across South America […] Hezbollah operates almost like a Mafia family in this region, often demanding protection money and "taxes" from local inhabitants," Myrick wrote.

Congresswoman Myrick adds in her letter that in the U.S., particularly in the Southwest, officials are beginning to notice that tattoos of gang members in prisons are written in Farsi, implying an Iranian influence that can be traced back to its proxy army, Hezbollah. Further, these tattoos in Farsi are usually seen in combination with gang or drug cartel tattoos, meaning that the individuals in jail are tied both to Hezbollah and to gangs and drug cartels. In the document hacked by LulzSec it is possible to see photos of these tattoos on individuals in jail; some of them portray a crossed AK-47 gun, the symbol of Hezbollah.

Arturo Zamora Jiménez, a Mexican congressman affiliated with the Institutional Revolutionary Party, recently stated that Hezbollah is operating in drug trafficking in the North of Mexico. Without any doubt, he said, the Lebanese terrorist group has links with Mexican drug cartels and has trained Mexican organizations on how to handle guns and explosives. Zamora also stated that Hezbollah is using drug revenues to buy weapons to fight in the Middle East. Moreover, political analysts point out that tunnels used for connecting drug trafficking are also used to infiltrate Hezbollah operatives in the U.S.

As noticed by the Center for Immigration Studies, the presence of Hezbollah on the U.S. border provokes several questions about security, and on how to face the problem: "These questions go beyond the horrendous cartel violence in Mexico we are witnessing on both sides of our border, bringing to light the national security aspect of drug- and gun-running, the volatility of our southwest border, and the playground northern Mexico has become for extreme lawlessness and anti-American activity."

Anna Mahjar-Barducci


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Why The Palestinians Do Not Want Fayyad

by Khaled Abu Toameh

In Palestinian society, it is much more important if one graduates from an Israeli prison than from a university in Texas. This is the reason that the two Palestinian governments, both Hamas and Fatah, are dominated by graduates of Israeli prisons who hold senior positions.

The Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement was recently put on hold when the two sides have failed to reach agreement on who would head a new Palestinian unity government.

Hamas remains strongly opposed to the nomination of current Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, holding him responsible for the Palestinian Authority's security crackdown on Hamas supporters in the West Bank.

Many Palestinians are also opposed to Fayyad because, they say, he was never part of the "revolution." They see him as an "outsider" who was imposed on President Abbas by the Americans and Europeans.

Fayyad's main problem, however, is that he did not participate in any violent attacks on Israel. Nor did he send his sons to take part in the intifada against Israel.

The longer the time one serves in an Israeli prison, the higher his or her rank is in the Palestinian security forces. This has been true ever since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994. And this is how people like Mohammed Dahlan and Jibril Rajoub became commanders of the Palestinians' Preventative Security Force.

In the West Bank, most of the senior officials running the ministries have either spent time in Israeli prisons or taken an active part in anti-Israel violence.

Because of this policy, many educated Palestinians who have never been to an Israeli prison are forced to search for jobs in the US, Europe and the Arab world.

There is no shortage of well-educated Palestinians who could contribute enormously to the establishment of proper institutions and good government. Yet they have almost no role in the "uniform culture," where many Palestinians continue to admire those who were part of the "revolution" more than university graduates and former World Bank officials such as Fayyad.

Yasser Arafat won great admiration largely because of his military fatigues, not because he studied at an Egyptian university in Cairo.

Fayyad would have become popular had he joined the armed wing of Fatah or Hamas and spent a few years in an Israeli prison.

If Fayyad or Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, the respected president of Al-Quds University, were to run in an election against anyone who spent time in an Israeli prison, they would most likely be defeated. Fayyad experienced this trend in 2006, when his Third Way list, which contested the parliamentary election, won only two seats.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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Prince of Lies

by Daniel Greenfield

“A Prince Among Slaves” was one of the more ambitious efforts to sell African-Americans on Islam. Aired nationwide on PBS and still making a tour of the United States, the documentary claims to tell the story of an African Muslim prince who was sold into slavery in the South.

The story of Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori is used as a springboard to incorporate Islam into American history, misrepresent it as an anti-slavery creed and convince African-Americans that their cultural background is Muslim. The website set up for “A Prince Among Slaves” even claims that the Blues originated from Koran readings.

But there’s just one problem with trying to present Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori as a victim of slavery and a role model for African-Americans. The Prince was actually a vicious racist who was a mass murderer of Africans and a brutal plantation overseer.

Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori despised Africans and considered himself a Moor. So much so that he would actually have been more at home in the Klan, than in some of the Black churches and cultural centers where “A Prince Among Slaves” has been screened.

A contemporary fundraising letter on his behalf read, “But Prince states explicitly, and with an air of pride, that not a drop of Negro blood runs in his veins. He places the Negro on a scale of being infinitely below the Moor.”

The letter then goes on to emphasize that his brother was considered racially inferior because of an African mother, and that if Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori were to return home he would have a superior right to the throne than his impure sibling.

In Rahman’s own account, he describes going to war against an African tribe and razing their towns. After the natives fought back, Rahman boasts that he proclaimed, “I will not run for an African.” This assertion of racial superiority proved to be a poor choice. The Africans caught Rahman, tied him up and sold him to some slave traders.

Far from being a hapless African sold into slavery, Rahman was actually a Muslim Moor who despised Africans. It is hard to think of a worse role model to present to African-Americans than a mass murderer of black people, whose expedition against them led to him being sold into slavery by the very Africans he despised.

“Prince of Slaves,” the Terry Alford book on which the movie is loosely based, documents Rahman’s racism. And as overseer his abuse of African slaves on the plantation. Another letter mentions his blood-thirsty disposition and writes that:

“M. Foster actually made him manager of the plantation, had continually to keep an eye upon him and to curb his sanguinary temper to prevent him from exercising cruelty on his fellow servants…”

Alford is skeptical, because such an image of Prince Rahman would destroy the entire purpose of his book. Yet it is wholly consistent with Prince Abdul Rahman’s statements and attitudes. With his entire history of slaughtering Africans and viewing them as an inferior race.

But was Prince Abdul Rahman Ibrahima Sori even a Muslim? The fundraising letter calls him only a nominal one. And during his grand tour of America, he promised to introduce Christianity to Africa. Of course the Prince may have merely been a liar telling his hosts exactly what they wanted to hear. There is certainly evidence of that. Which raises the question of how much of his story was even true at all.

Prince Rahman was indeed a bridge between Islam and African-Americans, in the same sense that the slave traders were. His story is a reminder that Islamic racism has a long history and played a role in the destruction of African cultures, just as much as the European variety did.

The exploitation of Rahman’s story with “Prince of Slaves” also shows how Muslim propaganda operates in America today.

“Prince Among Slaves” is a project of UPF, the Unity Productions Foundation. UPF was created by Safi Qureshey , a Pakistani computer tycoon. Its budget is in the millions and is connected to a number of high profile Islamic PBS productions such as “Islam: Empire of Faith”, “Inside Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think” and “Ground Zero Dialogue”.

The public faces of UPF are Alex Kroenmer and Michael Wolfe , Muslim converts who pull down roughly 200,000 dollar salaries for their work at UPF. Both Kroenmer and Wolfe are the products of Christian-Jewish interfaith marriages. Wolfe describes this as “my mongrel background” and writes that he was “repelled” by Christianity.

Kroenmer and Wolfe have served as producers for these features, including “Prince Among Slaves”, “Talking Through Walls: How the Struggle to Build a Mosque United a Community” and “Cities of Light: The Rise and Fall of Islamic Spain”. Additionally Kroenmer participates as a trainer in Connecting Cultures, his Muslim wife’s diversity training program.

Both men are listed as having participated in ISNA’s 48th Annual Convention. Safi Qureshey had moderated a CAIR event in the past. ISNA was created with the aid of Sami Al-Arian, the American head of Islamic Jihad. CAIR also has ties to terrorism.

The majority of these films were directed by Rob Gardner who went from Holocaust films to documentaries glorifying Islamic civilization. UPF and Gardner’s latest collaboration is “My Fellow American”, a movie and campaign promoting the Muslim presence in America.

Despite the available contradictory material demonstrating that Prince Abdul Rahman was a Muslim racist who despised Africans, “Prince of Slaves” won Best Documentary at the American Black Film Festival for two years running, and aired on PBS during Black History Month. Oddly though the American Black Film Festival site lists entirely different movies as the winners for those years.

“Prince of Slaves” received major funding from the National Endowment for Humanities, an agency of the United States government. And it aired on PBS, which also receives government funds.

One of the Muslim clerics featured in the movie, Zaid Shakir , was caught threatening the destruction of the United States last year. Another, Hamza Yusuf Hanson, had proclaimed three days before September 11, “This country unfortunately has a great, a great tribulation coming to it. And much of it is already here, yet people are too illiterate to read the writing on the wall.”

But then it seems only appropriate that a documentary which promotes a Muslim racist and murderer of their people to African-Americans as a leader and role model, should also be funded by the very country that the Muslim clerics and their Islamic ideology seeks to destroy.

Daniel Greenfield


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Survey Shows Palestinians Far Worse Than the Inhabitants of Nazi Germany

by David Horowitz

Liberal pollster Stanley Greenberg has conducted a survey of Palestinian attitudes towards the extermination of the Jews which shows that the vast majority of ordinary Palestinians are for it. I have long said that Palestinians are more genocidal than the inhabitants of Nazi Germany because Hitler hid his plans for the Final Solution as he calculated that Germans were too civilized to embrace the evil he intended. Muslim leaders shout it from the rooftops — and now we have concrete evidence that they do so because they know their followers support it. Anyone who finds this hard to believe can view this YouTube video of my encounter with a member of the Muslim Students Association at UC San Diego, or read the article linked above by Andrew Bostom. And this makes progressive supporters of the Palestinian cause enablers of the genocidal wishes of their Palestinian friends.

David Horowitz


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Egyptians Deliver ‘Last Ultimatum’

by Rick Moran

Another tent city is blossoming in Tahrir square in downtown Cairo this week as thousands of Egyptians ready themselves for a massive protest on Friday, which has been dubbed (variously translated) “Friday of the Last Ultimatum,” or simply, the “Final Call.“ The demonstrators have been in the square for nearly a week, urging a faster pace for reforms, an end to military tribunals for civilians, and a speedy exit for the military government as was promised following the ouster of President Mubarak five months ago. Protesters have pitted themselves directly against Egypt’s ruling armed forces, and despite significant concessions in the last week, the intensity on both sides has led to speculation that another confrontation could be in the offing.

The demonstrators are not protesting for freedom this time around, but for accountability. They seek justice for the more than 800 Egyptians who were killed by police during the 18-day revolt last February that led to the deposition of former President Hosni Mubarak. They also want the trials of Mubarak and other high level government officials, who are charged with murder, corruption and human rights violations, to proceed at a faster pace.

The demonstrators are chafing at the length of time it has taken the military to bring about the promised reforms and hold elections so that the soldiers can step aside as promised. On Wednesday, the military granted the request of a broad based coalition of political parties — including the Muslim Brotherhood ’s front operation, the Freedom and Justice Party — and will delay elections from September to perhaps December.

In another sop to the demonstrators, the military government announced the firing of 650 police officers who have been accused of participating in the murders. That hasn’t assuaged the anger of the demonstrators. Indeed, the army — once almost universally admired in Egypt for maintaining public order during the chaos of the revolution — has lost most of the good will it garnered for those efforts as the pace of change has slowed to a crawl. Trials for many Mubarak cronies have not been scheduled, although Mubarak himself is set to go on trial August 3 on murder and corruption charges.

In anticipation of the Friday protests, the military issued an ominous sounding statement on Tuesday that said, in part, “The armed forces . . . call upon the noble citizens to stand against all the protests that impede the return of normal life to the sons of our great people,” and that “necessary measures will be taken to confront threats that surround the homeland and affect the citizens and national security.”

This angered many of the activists in the square who took the statement to mean that the military would oppose their right to protest. “The demonstrations are also called to protest a statement made by the [ruling] Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [on Tuesday] in which it implicitly warned against continuing protests,” said the Union of the Revolution’s Youth. “They’re saying we’re thugs so they have an excuse to attack the square,” said one protester.

The firing of the police officers was an implicit concession to the protesters, who have been demanding wholesale changes to not only the police, but the judiciary and the entire internal security apparatus as well. It didn’t appear to satisfy many of them. One protestor said, “This police shake-up came too late and is not enough. This was one of our main demands three or four months ago.”

The Interior Minister, Mansour Al Essawy, claimed that under rules governing the police, he did not have the authority to fire the hundreds of other police who were implicated in the murders. Only high-ranking officers could be fired before their cases were tried, he said. The officers let go were comprised of 505 brigadier generals, 82 colonels and 37 other officers. Others implicated or charged in the crimes would be “transferred to places where they won’t deal with people,” Essawyo said.

It isn’t just the slow pace of reform of the police that has raised the ire of protesters. They have also demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his cabinet. Sharaf does not possess the “revolutionary character to fulfill the ambitions of many Egyptians aiming for freedom and social justice,” said one prominent protest group. That may be, but Sharaf is also operating in a political straitjacket. The nation is riven by factionalism and overseen by a military that is jealously guarding its historic prerogatives in government and the economy. If the pace of reform is slow, it is a reflection of the glacial pace of evolution of civil society in a nation that has functioned as a military dictatorship for 60 years.

The postponement of elections is a good example of this evolution. The reason for the delayed vote is to give time to the dozens of political parties who will participate in the election to establish grassroots networks and organize their supporters. Many of the secular parties feared that the Muslim Brotherhood, which has had an organized political presence in Egypt for decades, would have too big an advantage in the election, and petitioned the military for the delay. The Brotherhood, for tactical reasons, went along with the postponement, considering the fact that there is a tremendous level of distrust for its motives. Also, the Brotherhood will only be contesting 49% of the seats in parliament. The group also appears to have its own problems, as less fanatical elements are splitting off from the main party, making it more difficult for power to be consolidated.

Sharaf is trying, on the surface at least, to meet some of the protesters’ demands. He has promised a cabinet shakeup and has pledged to increase reform efforts, especially in the interior ministry. Already, the deputy prime minister, Yahia Gamal, has resigned, according to the cabinet’s website. And on Tuesday, the former interior minister and two other Mubarak-era government officials were sentenced to prison on corruption charges. Mubarak himself, recovering from a heart attack, is preparing for his August trial while claiming his innocence. “These accusations are not true at all. I would never participate in the killing of Egyptian citizens,” Mubarak told investigators. A government commission found otherwise, accusing the former president of knowing that his security forces were armed with live ammunition and that they would use it on the protesters.

Despite these apparent concessions, the protesters are in no mood to compromise. Several groups have issued a call for elections of a civilian “transitional council” — perhaps to be headed up by the Nobel Prize winner Mohammed ElBaradei. But the military, in its statement issued earlier in the week, reiterated its support for Sharaf and dismissed calls by the protesters in language that suggests some kind of confrontation might be on the horizon.

The reaction to this protest among ordinary Egyptians is mixed. Thirty men with sticks and knives attacked the protesters earlier in the week, wounding 6 before they were driven off. Most Egyptians appear to be more patient than their brothers in Tarhrir Square, and while sharing the goals of the revolutionaries, it is widely believed that the constant upheaval has affected the economy for the worse — especially tourism, which is one of the country’s biggest industries. While the protesters say they need to constantly pressure the military to make good on its promises, most ordinary Egyptians hope that the situation will stabilize soon so the economy can be given a chance to recover.

That attitude could change in a heartbeat if there is a serious confrontation between the military and the protesters on Friday. The Egyptian people would no doubt take to the streets again in the hundreds of thousands if necessary to protect the rights they have won so far.

“The country is sitting on a barrel of gunpowder,’’ said Hossam El-Hamalawy, an activist and blogger. “The point of confrontation is getting closer and closer.’’

If that is the case, the protests on Friday should be seen as both an opportunity and a warning — an opportunity for the military and civilian authorities to prove they have matured as a society and will allow peaceful people to assemble and express their views. However, it could also be a warning that if blood flows once again in Tahrir Square, no one will be able to predict where the revolution will go from there.

Rick Moran is blog editor of The American Thinker and Chicago editor of PJ Media.


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Caution: Storm Approaching

by Caroline Glick

It was seven months ago that Mohammed Bouazizi, a vegetable peddler in Tunisia set himself and the Arab world on fire. The 26-year-old staged his suicidal protest on the steps of the local city hall after a municipal inspector took away his unlicensed vegetable cart thus denying him the ability to feed his family of eight.

Most depictions of the Arab revolutions that followed his act have cast them as struggles for freedom and good government. These depictions miss the main cause of these political upheavals. No doubt millions of Arabs are upset about the freedom deficit in Arab lands. But the fact is that economics has played a decisive role in all of them.

In Bouzizi's case, his self-immolation was provoked by economic desperation. And if current trends continue, the revolutionary ferment we have seen so far is only the tip of the iceberg. Moreover, the political whirlwind will not be contained in the Middle East.

Most of the news coming out about Egypt today emanates from Cairo's Tahrir Square. There the protesters continue to demand ousted president Hosni Mubarak's head on a platter alongside the skulls of his sons, business associates, advisors and everyone else who prospered under his rule. While the supposedly liberal democratic protesters' swift descent into bloodlust is no doubt worth noting, the main reason these protesters continue to gain so much international attention is because they are easy to find. A reporter looking for a story's failsafe option is to mosey on over to the square and put a microphone into the crowd.

But while easily accessible, the action at Tahrir Square is not Egypt's most important story. The most important, strategically consequential story is that Egypt is rapidly going broke. By the end of the year, the military dictatorship will likely not only default on Egypt's loans. Field Marshal Tantawi and his deputies will almost certainly be unable to feed the Egyptian people.
Some raw statistics are in order here.

Among Egypt's population of 80 million, some 32 million are illiterate. They engage in subsistence farming that is too inefficient to support them. Egypt needs to import half of its food from abroad.

As David Goldman, (aka Spengler), reported in Asia Times Online, in May the International Monetary Fund warned of the impending economic collapse of non-oil exporting Arab countries saying that, "In the current baseline scenario the external financing needs of the region's oil importers is projected to exceed $160 billion during 2011-13."

Goldman noted, "That's almost three years' worth of Egypt's total annual imports as of 2010."

Since Mubarak was overthrown in February, Egypt's foreign currency reserves have plummeted from $36bn to $25-28bn. Last month Tantawi rejected an IMF loan offer of $3bn. claiming he would not accept any conditions on the loans. Instead he accepted $4bn in loans from Saudi Arabia and another $2.34bn from the Gulf States.

And still, Egypt's foreign currency reserves are being washed away. As Goldman explained, the problem is capital flight. Due in no small part to the protesters in Tahrir Square calling for the arrest of all those who did business with the former regime, Egypt's wealthy and foreign investors are taking their money out of the country.

At the Arab Banking Summit in Rome last month, Jordan's Finance Minister Mohammed Abu Hammour warned, "There is capital flight and $500 million a week are leaving the Arab world."

According to Goldman, "Although Hammour did not mention countries in his talk... most of the capital flight is coming from Egypt, and at an annual rate roughly equal to Egypt's remaining reserves."

What this means is that in a few short months, Egypt will be unable to pay for its imports. And consequently, it will be unable to feed its people.

EGYPT IS far from alone. Take Syria. There too, capital is fleeing the country as the government rushes to quell the mass anti-regime protests.

Just as Egyptian and Tunisian protesters hoped that a new regime would bring them more freedom, so the mass protests sweeping Syria owe in part to politics. But like the situation in Egypt and Tunisia, Syria's economic woes are dictating much of what is happening on the ground and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Last month Syrian President Bashar Assad gave a speech warning of "weakness or collapse of the Syrian economy." As a report last month by Reuters explained, the immediate impact of Assad's speech was capital flight and the devaluation of the Syrian pound by eight percent.

For the past decade, Assad has been trying to liberalize the Syrian economy. He enacted some free market reforms, opened a stock exchange and attempted to draw foreign investment to the country. While largely unsuccessful in alleviating Syria's massive poverty, these reforms did enable the country a modest growth rate of around 2.5% per year.

In response to the mass protests threatening his regime, Assad has effectively ended his experiment with the free market. He fired his government minister in charge of the economic reforms and put all the projects on hold. Instead, according to a report this week in Syria Today, the government has steeply increased public sector wages and offered 100,000 temporary workers full-time contracts. The Syrian government also announced a 25% cut in the price of diesel fuel at a cost for the government of $527 million per year.

Boasting foreign currency reserves of $18bn, the Syrian regime announced it would be using these reserves to pay for the increased governmental outlays. But as Reuters reported, the government has been forced to spend $70-80 million a week to buck up the local currency. So between protecting the Syrian pound and paying for political loyalty, the Assad regime is quickly drying up Syria's treasury.

In the event the regime is overthrown, a successor regime will face the sure prospect of economic collapse much as the Egyptian regime does. And in the event that Assad remains in power, he will continue to reap the economic whirlwind of what he has sown in the form of political instability and violence.

What this means is that we can expect continued political turmoil in both countries as they are consumed by debt and tens of millions of people face the prospect of starvation. This political turmoil can be expected to give rise to dangerous if unknowable military developments.

POOR ARAB nations like Egypt and Syria are far from the only ones facing economic disaster. The $3bn loan the IMF offered Egypt may be among the last loans of that magnitude the IMF is able to offer because quite simply, European loaners are themselves staring into the economic abyss.

Greece's debt crisis is not a local problem. It now appears increasingly likely that the EU is going to have to accept Greece defaulting on at least part of its debt. And the ramifications of Greek default on the European and US banking systems are largely unknowable. This is the case because as Megan McArdle at The Atlantic wrote this week, the amount of Greek debt held by European and US banks is difficult to assess.

Worse still, the banking crisis will only intensify in the wake of a Greek default. Debt pressure on Italy, Ireland, Spain and Portugal which are all also on the brink of defaulting on their debts will grow. Italy is Europe's fourth largest economy. Its debt is about the size of Germany's debt. If Italy goes into default, the implications for the European and US banking systems - and their economies generally -- will be devastating.

The current debt-ceiling negotiations between US President Barack Obama and the Republican Congressional leadership have made it apparent that Obama is ideologically committed to increasing government spending and taxes in the face of a weak economy. If Obama is reelected next year, the dire implications of four more years of his economic policies for the US and global economies cannot be overstated.

DUE TO the economic policies implemented by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu since his first tenure as prime minister in 1996, in the face of this economic disaster, Israel is likely to find itself in the unlikely position of standing along China and India as among the only stable, growing economies in the world. Israel's banking sector is largely unexposed to European debt. Israel's gross external debt is 44 percent of GDP. This compares well not only to European debt levels of well over 100 percent of GDP but to the US debt level which stands at 98 percent of GDP.

Assuming the government does not bend to populist pressure and take economically hazardous steps like reducing the work week to four days, Israel's economy is likely to remain one of the country's most valuable strategic assets. Just as economic prosperity allowed Israel to absorb the cost of the Second Lebanon War with barely a hiccup, so Israel's continued economic growth will play a key role in protecting it from the economically induced political upheavals likely to ensue throughout much of the Arab world and Europe.

Aside from remaining economically responsible, as Israel approaches the coming storms it is important for it to act with utmost caution politically. It must adopt policies that provide it with the most maneuver room and the greatest deterrent force.

First and foremost, this means that it is imperative that Israel not commit itself to any agreements with any Arab regime. In 1977 the Camp David Agreement with then Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in which Israel surrendered the strategically invaluable Sinai for a peace treaty seemed like a reasonable gamble. In 2011, a similar agreement with Assad or with the Palestinian Authority, (whose budget is largely financed from international aid), would be the height of strategic insanity.

Beyond that, with the rising double specter of Egyptian economic collapse and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to power, Israel must prepare for the prospect of war with Egypt. Recently it was reported that IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz has opted to spread over several years Israel's military preparations for a return to hostilities with Egypt. Gantz's decision reportedly owes to his desire to avoid provoking Egypt with a rapid expansion of the IDF's order of battle.

Gantz's caution is understandable. But it is unacceptable. Given the escalating threats emanating from Egypt - not the least of which is the expanding security vacuum in the Sinai -- Israel must prepare for war now.

So too, with the US's weak economy, Obama's Muslim Brotherhood friendly foreign policy, and Europe's history of responding to economic hardship with xenophobia, Israel's need to develop the means of militarily defending itself from a cascade of emerging threats becomes all the more apparent.

The economic storms may pass by Israel. But the political tempests they unleash will reach us. To emerge safely from what is coming, Israel needs to hunker down and prepare for the worst.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.

Caroline Glick


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Poll Exposes Palestinians' Peace Opposition

by IPT News

More than 60 percent of Palestinians reject a two-state solution with Israel and support the Hamas charter's call for killing Jews, according to a new poll conducted in the West Bank and Gaza.

American pollster Stanley Greenberg surveyed more than 1,000 Palestinians in conjunction with the West Bank-based Palestinian Center For Public Opinion. The poll was sponsored by the Israel Project, a nonprofit research group advocating "people-to-people peace" between Arabs and Israelis. But If the poll (which has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points) is any indication, most Palestinians have little interest in compromise or peace with their Israeli neighbors.

Palestinians were asked about President Obama's statement that "there should be two states: Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people and Israel as the homeland for the Jewish people." Those surveyed rejected Obama's formulation by a 61-34 margin.

Sixty-six percent said the Palestinians should begin with a two-state solution and then move toward becoming one Palestinian state.

The poll contained some positive results, including the fact that Palestinians preferred talks to violence by a margin of more than 3-1. Israeli President Shimon Peres was encouraged by these findings. "The Palestinians want solutions, not revolutions," Israel Project President Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi quoted him as saying.

But Peres' upbeat interpretation is at odds with Palestinian answers to some of the other questions. Fifty-three percent favored teaching songs about hatred of Jews in Palestinian schools. Sixty-two percent supported kidnapping IDF soldiers and holding them hostage. Seventy-two percent backed denying the thousands of years of Jewish history in Jerusalem.

Seventy-three percent agreed with a quote from the Article 7 in the Hamas Charter, about the need to kill Jews: "'The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: 'O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.'"

And when asked about a separate charter provision calling on battalions from the Arab and Islamic world to defeat the Jews, 80 percent of respondents agreed.

The radical, rejectionist stance expressed in the survey o f Palestinians contrasts sharply with Israeli attitudes. Numerous public opinion polls suggest that most Israelis favor creation of an independent Palestinian state living in peace with its Jewish neighbor, and would be willing to make substantial territorial concessions in order to make it a reality.

On Friday, a mix of 2,000 Israelis and Palestinians peacefully demonstrated in Jerusalem advocating recognition of a Palestinian state. While other Israelis may disagree, the rally took place without incident.

A poll published in late April by Yediot Achronot found that 48 percent of Israeli respondents said their country should "recognize a Palestinian state, while keeping the settlement blocs" in the West Bank, while 41 percent were opposed.

Asked whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should present a peace initiative of his own, 53 percent responded that he "should present a diplomatic initiative to end the conflict, which will include significant concessions," while 42 percent said he should not.

The Yediot poll findings are consistent with a substantial body of Israeli polling data going back to 9/11.

In 2009, for example, pollsters at Tel Aviv University released findings which showed a majority of Israelis were prepared to dismantle settlements outside of "settlement blocs" that Israel is expected to keep under any agreement with the Palestinians.

Another survey found that 58 percent of Israeli Jews backed the two-state solution favored by Obama .

Two months after 9/11 - (a period during which Israel was under constant attack from terrorists operating out of the West Bank), 59 percent of Israelis supported creation of a Palestinian state, according to a Gallup opinion poll published in Maariv. Seventy-three percent of the 544 Israeli adults polled said they expected a Palestinian state to emerge regardless of their views.

Just two months earlier, Israelis had witnessed scenes in which Palestinian neighbors celebrated the fall of the Twin Towers.

The contrast between the two sides could hardly be more jarring – the Israelis have indicated time and again that they are willing to make substantial concessions for peace, while too many of their Palestinian neighbors embrace Hamas.

IPT News (The Investigative Project on Terrorism)


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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hassan Nasrallah Exposed

by Jonathan Spyer

Despite its unrivaled ability to impose its will on the country, Hezbollah’s legitimacy in the eyes of non-Shi’ite Arabs in Lebanon and beyond has significantly diminished in recent years. The issuing of indictments against four Hezbollah members for the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri will only serve to accelerate and compound this process.

Once, Hezbollah presented itself and was seen as an Arab force concerned above all with making war against Israel. The movement’s ability to avoid humiliating defeat by the Jewish state thrilled Arab publics.

The Arab Sunni distrust of Iran and the Shi’ites was briefly trumped.

But this moment did not last. A series of events in the past three years has served to increasingly recast Hezbollah in its original colors – as a sectarian, Shi’ite creation and ally of Iran.

The pivotal moment in this transformation of the movement’s image came when it turned its guns on its domestic Sunni opponents in May 2008. This move was made to protect the boundaries of Hezbollah’s independent military and security infrastructure.

The immediate goal was achieved. But Hezbollah had maintained that its weaponry was for use against Israel alone. Its legitimacy suffered a heavy blow.

This discrepancy between Hezbollah’s matchless ability to impose its will in Lebanon and its declining legitimacy has since increased.

In recent months, the movement’s support for the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, even as it brutally crushed an uprising by the Sunni majority, has further served to tarnish Hezbollah’s reputation. There is widespread fury and disgust among Lebanon’s Sunnis at the reports of possible Hezbollah involvement, alongside Iranian personnel, in crushing the protests.

Once again, the movement’s Achilles’ heel has been the irresolvable contradiction between its pan-Arab pretensions and its practical loyalties to the narrow, mainly Shi’ite, Iran-led bloc.

This contradiction has now been laid bare in its most blatant form.

Hezbollah members, whose guns were proclaimed as serving a notional Arab and Islamic “general will” against Israel, now stand accused of the murder of an iconic Sunni Arab politician from the very heart of the Arab mainstream.

So what is likely to happen? First of all, it is worth remembering that Hezbollah and its allies deliberately brought down the government of Saad Hariri in January in anticipation of precisely this turn of events. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah dismissed the UN tribunal investigating the Hariri killing as a mere tool of American interests. But Hariri’s government was committed to it.

So Hezbollah and its allies toppled the government, and after a period of horse-trading, replaced it with a narrower cabinet consisting only of themselves.

But there are already clear indications of disagreement even within this narrower framework.

The drafting committee tasked with preparing the new government’s founding political statement found it hard to reach a consensus on the matter of its attitude toward the Hariri tribunal.

Hezbollah, according to reports, wanted the new government to cut all ties with the tribunal and declare itself in open opposition to what it describes as a “US-Zionist plan.” Newly minted pro-Syrian Prime Minister Najib Mikati evidently baulked at such an unambiguous stance.

The ministerial statement finally approved on Thursday preserves ambiguity. It declares the new government’s commitment to “the implementation of international resolutions, the Palestinian right of return and knowing the truth behind former PM Rafik Hariri’s assassination,” thus avoiding any concrete response on the matter of the indictments.

This solves little. Hezbollah has options, but none of them is particularly good.

At the moment, the accused men – Moustafa Badreddine, Salim Ayyash, Hasan Ainessi and Asad Sabra – remain at liberty. The Lebanese authorities have 30 days to arrest them. If they do not do so, the tribunal will then make the details of the indictment public and order the suspects to appear before the court.

Hezbollah has the hard power simply to refuse to cooperate with the tribunal, and to prevent by force any attempt to apprehend its members.

Such an action, however, would take the movement yet further down the slippery slope of loss of any legitimacy or consent to its domination of Lebanon, outside of its narrow Shi’ite core. This would leave it dangerously exposed in a changing Arab world.

It could, on the other hand, choose to sacrifice some or all of the accused men. But in this regard, it is worth recalling that the accused are not anonymous, outlying members of Hezbollah. Moustafa Badreddine is a brother-in-law of the slain military leader Imad Mughniyeh. And sacrificing movement members would in any case look like surrender and humiliation to a body that Hezbollah has specifically designated as an enemy.

Whichever path Hezbollah adopts, it is now confronting the contradiction at the heart of its project. The movement has sought to both serve a narrow Shi’ite, pro-Iranian and Syrian interest, and simultaneously to pose as the sword of all the Arabs and Muslims.

It will have the option in the months ahead of holding its domination of Lebanon by force, in the face of the indictments. But if it does so, the broader project for which it was brought into being will be very severely tarnished. Hezbollah’s hard power will yet more clearly be revealed as in the sole service of the Shi’ites and Iran – and directed against the Sunni regional majority.

The expected furious denunciations of the tribunal as an American- Zionist plot will not serve to disguise this reality.

Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya.


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Turkey Reiterates Conditions to Mend Israel Ties

by AK Group

Turkey still demands a formal apology and redress over the killing of its citizens by Israeli commandos aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship in May of last year, a Turkish official has said.

"About the flotilla attack, Turkey has never turned down a request from the other side to talk. However, our stance on this issue is clear cut: We still demand a formal apology and redress. And we believe that this issue needs to be left behind as soon as possible," Selcuk Unal, a spokesman with the Turkish Foreign Ministry, told a weekly press briefing on Tuesday.

The Gaza-bound aid flotilla was raided on May 31, 2010, by Israeli Special Forces while on high seas. Nine Turks were killed in the attack on convoy's lead ship, Mavi Marmara.

The incident sent relations between the two countries -- two close allies in the region -- to an historic low.

A United Nations panel has been investigating the attack for nearly a year now, and it is expected to present its final report by July 27.

AK Group


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Swiss Minaret Ban Survives Legal Challenge

by Soeren Kern

The European Court of Human Rights has rejected two cases brought by Muslims against Switzerland's constitutional ban on building minarets, the tower-like structures on mosques from which Muslims are often called to prayer.

A seven-judge panel at the Strasbourg-based court said on July 8 that it would not consider the cases as the plaintiffs failed to show how the ban harmed their human rights and they therefore "cannot claim to be 'victims' of a violation" of the European Convention on Human Rights, which the court enforces.

One of the cases was brought by a former spokesman for the mosque of Geneva and the other by a number of Swiss Muslim associations. It is now widely expected that the court will throw out three other similar cases on the minaret ban that are still pending.

Switzerland held a referendum in November 2009 in which citizens approved an initiative to insert a new sentence in the Swiss constitution stipulating that "the construction of minarets is forbidden."

The initiative was approved 57.5% to 42.5% by some 2.67 million voters. Only four of Switzerland's 26 cantons or states opposed the initiative, thereby granting the double approval that now makes the minaret ban part of the Swiss constitution.

The minaret ban represented a turning point in the debate about Islam in Switzerland.

The initiative was sponsored by the Swiss People's Party (SVP), which says the minarets symbolize the growing self-confidence and intolerance of Switzerland's Muslim community.

The SVP has described the minaret is a "symbol of a religious-political claim to power and dominance which threatens -- in the name of alleged freedom of religion -- the constitutional rights of others."

The SVP backs its claim by citing a remark by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has implied that the construction of mosques and minarets is part of a strategy for the Islamization of Europe. The pro-Islamist Erdogan has bragged: "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers." Erdogan has also told Muslim immigrants in Europe that "assimilation is a crime against humanity."

In recent years the number of mosques in Switzerland has mushroomed; there now are some 200 mosques and up to 1,000 prayer rooms dotted across the country. Critics fear the mosques are facilitating the establishment of a parallel Muslim society, one that is especially welcoming to Islamic fundamentalists.

Even some voices on the political left, which has viewed the construction of mosques as symbols of Europe's post-Christian sophistication and open-mindedness, are beginning to voice concerns that their proliferation is a sign of failing integration.

The Muslim population in Switzerland has more than quintupled since 1980, and now numbers about 400,000, or roughly 5 percent of the population. Most Muslims living in Switzerland are of Turkish or Balkan origin, with a smaller minority from the Arab world. Many of them are second and third generation immigrants who are now firmly establishing themselves in Switzerland.

The new Muslim demographic reality is raising tensions across large parts of Swiss society, especially as Muslims become more assertive in their demands for greater recognition of their faith. The ensuing controversies are fuelling a debate over the role of Islam in Swiss society and how to reconcile Western values with a growing immigrant population determined to avoid assimilation.

In one case, for example, Muslim parents recently won a lawsuit demanding that they be allowed to dress their children in full-body bathing suits dubbed 'burkinis' during co-ed swimming lessons. In another case, a group of Swiss supermarkets created a stir by banning Muslim employees from wearing headscarves.

In August 2009, the Swiss basketball association told a Muslim player she could not wear a headscarf during league games. In August 2010, five Muslim families in Basel were fined CHF 350 ($420) each for refusing to send their daughters to mixed-sex swimming lessons.

In September 2010, the secretary of the Muslim Community of Basel was acquitted of publicly inciting crime and violence. The charges were pressed after the 33-year-old made comments in a Swiss television documentary saying that Islamic Sharia law should be introduced in Switzerland and that unruly wives should be beaten. The judge said the defendant was protected by freedom of expression.

In November 2010, Swiss voters approved tough new regulations on the deportation of non-Swiss convicted of serious crimes. The measure calls for the automatic expulsion of non-Swiss offenders convicted of crimes ranging from murder to breaking and entry and social security fraud.

Also in November, Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said the approval or extension of residency permits should be closely linked to the efforts immigrants make to integrate themselves. "Compulsory schooling must be respected. Children should attend all courses and exceptions made on religious or other grounds, for example in swimming classes, should no longer be possible," Sommaruga said.

In December 2010, the Federal Commission on Women's Issues called for Islamic burqas and niqabs to be banned in government offices and in public schools. The government-appointed committee said the move would prevent gender discrimination.

In January 2011, a Turkish woman living in Bern was sentenced to three years and six months in prison for encouraging the father and brothers of her daughter-in-law to carry out an "honor" crime against her for her "risqué lifestyle."

In May 2011, voters in canton Ticino, in Switzerland's Italian-speaking region, collected enough signatures to be able to launch a referendum that would ban burqas, niqabs and other Islamic head dresses. If the referendum goes ahead, it will be the first time in Switzerland that citizens have been asked to express an opinion on burqas.

Also in May, Swiss Defence Minister Ueli Maurer said increasing numbers of Swiss Muslims are training in Islamic militant camps in countries like Somalia and Yemen. In an interview with the SonntagsZeitung newspaper, Maurer also said that under current Swiss laws it is difficult to prevent Islamists from raising funds.

Meanwhile, an administrative court in Bern is expected to rule on the fate of a minaret in the town of Langenthal. Muslims in Langenthal, a town with a population of about 15,000, had been given permission to build a minaret five months before the constitutional ban on minarets took effect in November 2009, but opponents of the project say the earlier approval is now null and void. The case is still working its way through the Swiss legal system and will not be affected by the decision of the court in Strasbourg.

Soeren Kern


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NATO’s Surrender?

by Stephen Brown

In a major shift in its position on the war in Libya, France has announced it wants the rebels to begin direct negotiations with representatives of Muammar Gaddafi . NATO has been trying for more than three months to depose the Libyan leader in an air campaign, led by France, which has cost tens of millions of dollars and caused fractures in the alliance.

In a strong indication of mounting frustration over NATO’s lack of success from the air and the rebels’ slow progress on the ground, France’s defence minister, Gerard Longuet , said last Sunday on French television that NATO had “stopped the hand that was striking” against the insurgents and “now was the time to sit down at the negotiating table.

“We have asked them to speak to each other,” said Longuet, whose government was the most ardent supporter of military action three months ago and was the first to launch air strikes.

But the biggest surprise in Longuet’s television appearance came when he said the bombs would stop falling as soon as negotiations begin, indicating NATO will cease all military operations. Which means that Gaddafi, against all expectations, will survive. Forcing Gaddafi to leave had always been a main goal of the military campaign Great Britain and France have been spearheading.

“We will stop the bombing as soon as the Libyans start talking to one another and the military on both sides go back to their bases,” said Longuet. “They can talk to each other because we’ve shown there is no solution through force.”

Up until now, the rebels have refused to negotiate with the Libyan government until Gaddafi stepped down. France says it still wants Gaddafi out but obviously now believes NATO’s bombing campaign will not achieve this goal and is too expensive to maintain, so a diplomatic solution is now necessary. The war is costing France about one and a half million dollars a day.

On Tuesday, the French government voted to continue its military involvement in Libya for another four months, adding another $150 million to its war debt. Before the vote, France’s prime minister, Alain Juppe , said “A political solution is more indispensable than ever…” but depends on “an authentic and verifiable” ceasefire and “the departure of Col. Gaddafi from power.” As for Gaddafi, Longuet said he could “remain in Libya ‘in another room of the palace, with another title’.”

The United States and other NATO countries have never opposed the rebels’ position that Gaddafi must relinquish power before negotiations can begin. France’s two main NATO allies, Great Britain and America, were both quick to respond to Longuet’s announcement, indicating their displeasure as well as a possible breach opening up in the alliance. While one British official said there was “no daylight” between France’s and his country’s position, the State Department said in a release that “…we stand firm in our belief that Gaddafi cannot remain in power.”

The rebels were also “defiant.” After all, they rose in rebellion to destroy permanently Gaddafi’s hold on their country. Besides, they know they would never be safe if Gaddafi, his secret police and armed thugs were still around. The Libyan civilians NATO says it is bombing Libya to protect would be in danger with Gaddafi still at large.

“The only political solution is that Gaddafi and his family leave power,” said one rebel commander.

Longuet’s surprising comments apparently did not appear out of thin air. Last Monday, in an interview with an Algerian newspaper, Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam claimed that his father’s regime had been conducting negotiations the French government. The French foreign ministry immediately denied that direct talks were being held with Tripoli but admitted messages were sent through the rebel council and allies. So most likely an advanced agreement on negotiations had been reached between France and the Gaddafi regime before Longuet announced the U-turn in France’s Libya policy.

NATO’s failure to crack Gaddafi’s regime and its willingness to now end the war through negotiations will eventually have much greater consequences than the current splits appearing in the alliance. First and foremost, a failure to drive Gaddafi from power by military means will serve as a dangerous revelation and encouragement to other dictators that NATO is turning into a morally weak, willpower-lacking paper tiger that will turn tail and run when a conflict becomes too expensive or exceeds a certain time limit. As a result, NATO can expect more challenges thrown its way from thug regimes in the future.

The Libyan war has already shown the world how militarily weak the NATO alliance is. One retired British admiral found it disgraceful that NATO couldn’t get rid of Gaddafi in such a “tin-pot” operation, blaming military cutbacks for his own country’s navy’s poor contribution of only four ships. The fact that a sparsely populated country of only six million people, of whom many have risen in rebellion, and with an army of only 30,000 can withstand the military might of Europe speaks volumes about Europe’s strength.

But perhaps the worst feature the Libyan war has uncovered in NATO is that the military alliances’ governments are so caught up in their own human rights rhetoric and respect for United Nations (UN) rulings that they have actually tied their own hands behind their backs when it comes to dealing with criminals like Gaddafi. While the Libyan opposition was appealing to the world for help, President Obama and other Western leaders rushed off to the UN to get a mandate for action. During this three-week wait, however, the Gaddafi regime got over the shock of the uprising and captured the rebel-held areas of Eastern Libya, after which it sent in its secret police to hunt down rebel supporters. The resulting death toll is unknown.

What was worse, the UN mandate for action NATO finally did receive was actually a mandate for partial action. NATO was not allowed to send in ground forces, the one and only effective means of bringing the war to a quick and more humane end with limited casualties. Such quick, decisive and forceful action that ended in a deposed Gaddafi would also have shown other brutal dictators that NATO is a military and moral force to be reckoned with.

Like all half-measures, the action the UN did mandate arguably worsened the situation. Ironically, NATO bombing caused the current stalemate, from which France is currently trying to find an exit. When Gaddafi’s forces were about to capture Benghazi, the rebel stronghold, and practically end the war, NATO warplanes began their bombing campaign, which drove the government forces back to Tripoli. That was about ten thousand dead and hundreds of air strikes ago.

In the future, one can bet other hideous dictators will use the West’s respect for human rights and the UN to tie up NATO’s willingness to act against them, if NATO governments don’t do it to themselves first. They have already learned to use human shields to thwart military action, and one can probably some day expect whole populations to be held hostage.

Like NATO’s military effort, France’s current search for a diplomatic solution will neither sideline Gaddafi nor bring peace to Libya. It would be the height of naivite to expect Gaddafi to remain in his palace room. And with his prestige enhanced by NATO’s pullback, the Libyan tribes sitting on the fence in the conflict will probably now rush to support him to avoid revenge attacks. So in the end, France’s playing for the stalemate in Libya will only lead to more turmoil there and elsewhere.

Stephen Brown


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