Sunday, October 31, 2010

Top Stories November 1, 2010

Arab News (Saudi Arabia):  No preconditions for Riyadh talks: Saud - King Abdullah has invited the political parties in Iraq to visit and work out their problems.

Haaretz (Israel):  U.S. Jews on alert after parcel bomb addressed to synagogue - The 2 bombs discovered over the weekend were heading for a synagogue and Jewish organization in Chicago.

Turkish Daily News:  32 injured in bomb attack in Istanbul's Taksim Square - Already covered this in a previous blog post, and obviously still the main topic in Turkey.

Tehran Times (Iran):  Ahmadinejad directs central bank to lower forex rate -  Ahmadinejad wants to normalize the foreign exchange rate.

YemenWatch: Sunday October 31, 2010

The woman accused of sending the package from Yemen has been released by authorities.  She may have been tortured during her imprisonment.  She is an engineering student and the Yemeni Student Union wants a strike on Monday.  Her father insists she is innocent and has asked a human rights organization called HOOD to defend her (more info on HOOD).

Meanwhile, a bomb maker from Saudi Arabia is believed to be responsible for making the bombs and currently working with AQAP.

The Yemeni government has issued stricter security methods for outgoing packages.  And it turns out that one of the bombs was sent on a passenger plane.

Apparently the US is still trying to figure out what is going on in Yemen and how to help fight AQAP.

Juan Cole has a very long post about the attempted bombing by AQAP. 


Other news from Yemen:
Ten Somali pirates were sentenced to 5 years in jail, for preying on Yemeni fishing boats.

According to HOOD, last week an Al-Jazeera journalist was arrested, and his cameraman beaten, while covering a trial in Aden.

edit: added Juan Cole link

Iraqi Church Siege Over

Last night gunmen attacked the Iraqi stock exchange, then took over a church after running from security forces.  One hundred people were held hostage for about 4 hours.  One or two policemen were killed, and about a dozen people were wounded.  One of the hostages may also have been killed (reports are conflicting).

Iraq has really become a dangerous place.  In general, I was all for the US troops getting out of Iraq.  But at the same time, I am worried that the Iraqi military and police forces may not yet be up to the job of securing Iraq.  It would be horrible if this turned into something like the civil war in Lebanon.  There are already problems between the Sunni and Shi'ites, with Iran right next door, and Syria has even gotten involved.  And the Kurds in the north would be happy to break away.  Throw in some al-Qa'eda militants and opportunistic criminals and mix vigorously.  It could take another decade for everything to settle down into some kind of stability.

Are American Jews Jewish?

Maybe not, according to ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Israel.  The ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel have a disproportionate amount of power there and are changing the face of Israel.  Or, as they see it, guarding the faith and not letting it be diluted.  This is a good article about some of the problems new immigrants to Israel are running into.

Suicide Bomber Hits Istanbul

The attack took place in Taksim Square, and injured 32 people - 15 of them were policemen.  Apparently the bomber was trying to get into a parked police van, and blew himself up right next to it.  This was the last day of a ceasefire by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party), which is outlawed, but it is not known if they are responsible.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

YemenWatch: Saturday October 30, 2010

The big story is still the bombs found on the UPS and FedEx cargo flights.  Neither of those two agencies are taking packages in Sana'a at this point.  A government official is claiming that no UPS planes left Yemen, therefore Yemen can't be involved in the bombs.  But the government is also saying that the packages were sent by a woman, who has been arrested, and they are looking at other packages in Sana'a.  President Saleh has been speaking with the US, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan of the UAE, and Prime Minister Cameron of Great Britain.

The police in Dubai are saying it looks like the work of al-Qa'eda.

The UK is currently not allowing any direct flights from Yemen.

Yahoo! has an article on the overall situation for the US in Yemen.  And the Yemen Observer has an editorial about how the US is going about the fight.


In other news from Yemen, two oil trucks traveling from Aden to Taiz were set on fire by gunmen.

Friday, October 29, 2010

YemenWatch: Friday October 29, 2010: Part 3

According to ABC News, there may be 15 packages containing explosives, and the US government is looking for them.  The terrorism expert for ABC keeps talking about how Yemen has more al-Qa'eda members than Afghanistan, but there are no American troops in Yemen.  I seriously hope that no one is thinking of invading liberating Yemen from AQAP.

As a point of context for these bombs:  Chicago is considered to be President Obama's hometown.  And the US elections are next week on Tuesday.

Great Britain is going to be checking Yemeni freight more now.  And the US is still looking to see if there is more to the plot.

Kudos to Obama for not changing his plans, which include heading to Chicago soon.  That is the biggest point I would like to make.  Since 9-11, Americans have lost a number of civil liberties, all in the name of security.  And many people are scared.  If you are scared, if you stop going on vacation, then the terrorists win.  If you are so paranoid, that everyone must be strip-searched before getting on an airplane, then the terrorists win.  If you think that Ground Zero should be some kind of shrine and no buildings should ever be built there, then the terrorists win.  The point of terror is to make people afraid and to make them change their way of life.  Well, guess what.  It looks like they're succeeding.

YemenWatch: Friday October 29, 2010: Part 2

President Obama just gave a short speech on television about the two bombs found, that were being sent to Jewish organizations in Chicago.  He also announced further efforts between the US and Yemen to eradicate AQAP.

This comes as the Yemeni military, with tribal help, finished its sweep of the al-Kur mountains in Shabwa province and announced that AQAP was no longer there.

A four-member AQAP cell is on trial in Sana'a.  One of them claimed that a military leader sometimes disguised himself as a woman to travel around Yemen.

AQAP Bomb Found in Dubai

A cargo shipment from Yemen, headed to the US was discovered to contain explosives.  The warehouse for that agency also had explosives.  Another package was discovered in England
Both were sent from the same address in Yemen to Jewish organizations in Chicago, U.S. officials said.
The Yemen branch known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has since become a leading source of terrorist propaganda and recruiting. Authorities believe about 300 al-Qaida members or cells operate in Yemen.

YemenWatch: Friday October 29, 2010

The Swedish engineer and driver who were kidnapped yesterday have already been released.  Yay!

Transparency International has a Corruption Perceptions Index.  Yemen was just ranked #146 out of 178 nations.  Somalia is the 178th.

In August, AQAP published a list of targets.  One of them is an intelligence officer who was just car-bombed in Abyan.  Luckily, it looks like the bombs were either found, or else no one was hurt when they went off.  The article doesn't specify what happened.

The tribes in Shabwa are still upset about the South Korean oil company.  Apparently they made some kind of truce with the local government, but then the government failed to follow through on its promises.  The entire fight revolves around the tribes wanting some job spots allocated to them, in the company.  Which seems to be how it usually works in Yemen.

There is a separatist movement in southern Yemen called Al-Harak.  They are the ones who attacked the sports club in Aden where the Gulf Cup will be held.  Al-Harak is saying:  "We will use all forms of peaceful struggle to thwart the football championship and Aden will be unsafe for it."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bahraini Shi'ites Still on Trial

The 25 Shi'ites accused of plotting against the government claim they were tortured in jail.  That seems to be fairly typical of many Middle Eastern governments, and is often used to get confessions.  The article in the Gulf Daily News out of Bahrain is very small and says that media coverage has been banned.  Two other Bahrainis were arrested for anti-government posters showing pictures of men in jail (possibly some of the 25 Shi'ites?).  According to the Free Ali Facebook page, Ali's trial is adjourned until November 11th.

Let's hope the world will take notice of the suppression going on in Bahrain and do something about it.

YemenWatch: Thursday October 28, 2010

An American of Somali descent has been charged with murder.  He was originally arrested because of ties to al-Qa'eda, but while in the hospital he tried to escape and killed a guard.

A Yemeni journalist is on trial for being a "media adviser" to AQAP.  In 2009 he did an interview with Anwar Al-Awlaki for Al-Jazeera, and his specialty as a reporter is terrorism and AQAP.  Reporters Without Borders has ranked Yemen as #170 out of 178 countries, for freedom of the press.

In good news, new judges are being trained in judging cybercrimes:
Of the 150 being trained, the top ten will receive special legal training abroad, according to Al-Wazeer.
The training program is part of the five-year Yemen Justice and Policing Program, funded by UK aid from the Department of International Development (DFID), which is currently in its second year.
There's a temporary cease-fire for a tribal battle southeast of Sana'a.  These two tribes have been fighting for decades, but 6 people have been killed since Friday when the Bani Dhabyan sheikh was killed.

A Swedish engineer and his driver were just kidnapped in southern Yemen.  Luckily, it appears to be tribal and not AQAP.

Yahoo! has a really good article on the overall situation in Yemen, and the problems for President Saleh.  To me, it sounds almost like the American Wild West.

Egyptian Blogger Still in Jail

Blogger Adel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, known as Kareem Amer, has been held for almost 4 years now.  He is most of the way through his jail term.  You can sign a petition for his release at Reporters Without Borders.  This is yet another example of Egypt cracking down on public expression of criticism.

Shi'ites on Trial in Bahrain

The Bahraini government is putting 25 Shi'ites on trial for allegedly conspiring against the Sunni government.  You may remember that blogger Ali Abdulemam is also on trial.  This article finally mentions that he is a Shi'ite.  Also, another blogger, and activist, is on trial too: Abdeljalil Al-Singace.

Seventy percent of the Bahraini population is Shi'ite, but the ruling family and most of the government is Sunni.  Because of that, the rulers are paranoid about the Shi'ites taking over and being too close to Iran.  Most of those arrested are considered human rights activists and have probably been tortured.  This is really a deplorable state of affairs for Bahrain.  Many of the Gulf nations have slowly been expanding voting rights and civil liberties, but this is a huge step backwards for Bahrain.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Israel: US War Crimes

I found this extremely offensive.  First of all, I agree that the US was wrong and that too many Iraqis were hurt, killed, or even tortured in Iraq.  But for ISRAEL to start talking about US war crimes?  After everything they have done to the Palestinian people?  That is offensive! 

YemenWatch: October 27, 2010

Yemeni troops and local tribes are fighting AQAP all over Yemen, such as in Shabwa province.  Shabwa is east and north of Abyan, where the military is also working with the tribes, and Dalie is west of Abyan.  Although some tribes are helping in Shabwa, some are still upset with the South Korean oil company.

Meanwhile, there are parliamentary problems too.  The opposition party is calling for "freezing the dialogue" with the ruling party.  And merchants are upset with the Tax Authority in Sana'a and are calling for a fatwa against tax collectors.  In good news, the tribal problem with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor is over, and an ox was slaughtered in the customary manner.

There are ties between Yemen and Somalia, but now the Somali government is trying to claim an archipelago that currently belongs to Yemen.  I doubt this will affect the terrorist ties between the two nations, but it could cause further destablization if it escalates.

After the sporting venue attacks, Yemen has stepped up security for the Gulf Cup, bringing in 30,000 troops and 10,000 secret service.  If I was in the Yemeni government, I would be seriously concerned about this event.  It's not completely clear if AQAP or tribesmen were responsible for the previously prevented attacks.  But if AQAP is looking for a big event to make its presence known on the Arabian Peninsula, this would be the place. (Or it would make a great distraction.)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

YemenWatch: Tuesday October 26, 2010

A Yemeni journalist who has interviewed al-Qa'eda leaders has been arrested and is on trial for helping the terrorist organization.  This is disturbing.  While it is possible that he is an AQAP supporter, it's also just as possible that the Yemeni government is simply cracking down on journalists who interview AQAP.  It isn't unusual for a government to be upset when someone interviews their opposition, especially if they are terrorists.

Approximately 15 militants surrendered in Abyan province yesterday.  They are suspected AQAP members.  Let's hope many more turn themselves in.

A suicide bomber blew himself up in Taiz province yesterday.  The article doesn't mention whether or not the bomber is AQAP, but this province is west of Abyan.

I will be adding a Yemen map to my sidebar, so you can see where everything is happening.

Women's News October 26, 2010

There is a history of sexual harassment in Cairo, and now women are taking things into their own hands.  A website called Harassmap is starting up.  Women will be able to go online or text information on areas of the city where they are being harassed.  This will help other women to avoid certain areas and may even highlight areas of severe harassment.

A Yemeni man tried to rape a woman in her apartment in the Abb province of Yemen.  Neighbors heard her screaming and began breaking down the door, at which point she got control of the rapist's gun and shot him in the head.  Good riddance.

Twitter Too!

I have decided that I will be using Twitter.  Sometimes I come across an article or comment that I like, but may not necessarily be post-worthy.  Or is slightly off-topic or something.  So now I can tweet them: @the_ali_gator

Monday, October 25, 2010

YemenWatch: Monday October 25, 2010

Wow - if this keeps up I may have a Yemen post every day.

A few days ago, American born Anwar al-Awlaki posted an AQAP video.  He's supposedly in the Shabwa province.  Which is where the Yemeni military is fighting AQAP and hiring the local tribes to help them, including the Awalik tribe (Al-Awlaki belongs to one of their branches).

To make things even more complicated, apparently some of the tribes in Shabwa are fighting the government because they want jobs at a South Korean oil company there.  Which is different from the tribes fighting the government in the Saada province.  As I've said before, Yemen is a mess right now, so don't travel there.

Top Stories October 25, 2010

Arab News (Saudi Arabia):  Global unity for peace and justice needed: King - King Abdullah met with ambassadors from several nations and welcomed them to the Kingdom.

Daily Star (Lebanon):  Jumblatt, Assad agree on need for calm dialogue - Jumblatt leads Lebanon's Progressive Socialist Party.  He seems to be becoming more pro-Syria lately.

Haaretz (Israel):  Lieberman orders 'day after' plans for tackling nuclear Iran - The Israelis are preparing for a nuclear Iran, because they're becoming doubtful that Iran will be stopped.

Turkish Daily News:  Turkey's top religious authority seeks independent role - The head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate thinks that since Turkey is officially secular, there should be a separate, autonomous religious body.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bahraini Elections

The elections are over in Bahrain, and the Shi'ites have won another seat in parliament.  You may remember from my previous post that a number of Shi'ites were arrested before the election and are awaiting trial for being part of a terrorist plot.  I don't know if there is any overlap between the Shi'ites and the "human rights defenders" that were arrested along with blogger Ali Abdulemam.

Now that the elections are over, I wonder what will happen to those arrested?  Will the Shi'ites quietly be released, or will they actually go on trial for plotting to overthrow the government?  I really don't know what will happen.

Now on Twitter!

I have signed up for a Twitter account:

I don't know if I'll be tweeting a lot or not, but at least I am now prepared.

You may also find me under Google Profiles:

YemenWatch: Sunday Roundup October 24, 2010

There has been so much going on in Yemen that I do not know where to begin.

According to this report by the Yemen Post, the attacks at the sports club were done by a politician - the article doesn't mention AQAP at all.

A Yemeni intelligence officer was assassinated in the Hadramawt region of eastern Yemen this week.  A number of local politicians and officials have been killed.

The Yemeni foreign minister says there's only about 400 AQAP fighters in Yemen.  Which is plenty for guerrilla warfare.  Of course, these guys are trying to create an army and take over the country.

A British report says that the US may be unintentionally helping al-Qa'eda, because people see US funding and support as an attack against their country.  I think they are correct.  For a more blatant reason, when the US uses predator drones to bomb AQAP, it worries the nearby civilians.  Especially if when they miss.  But what else can the US do at this point?  They will continue with the funding.

[edit: added more Yemen info]
An American spokesman for al-Qa'eda has called for attacks in the US and Europe.

And a group of "international terror experts" expects a big attack by al-Qa'eda soon.  Unfortunately, the writer of the article does not mention who these experts are.  Their reasoning seems sound though:  the attacks in Yemen have been easy to carry out, so the next step is a larger attack, which is more impressive, but also more difficult.  If AQAP really wants to take over Yemen, they will have to step up their game.  And it only helps them when you hear stories like the following:
In addition, when we met General Yahya Mohammed Abdullah Saleh (Head of the Counter Terror Unit) this month, he openly said that he does not have a problem with random U.S. attacks in Yemen. Yahya’s comments will be used by Al-Qaeda to show people that the current government is a tool in the hand of those who want to kill innocent citizens under claims that they are fighting Al-Qaeda, like those attacks that take place daily in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

YemenWatch: Yemen vs. Al-Qa'eda

I've decided to keep a closer eye on Yemen, because of the deteriorating situation there.  The Yemeni military is having major problems in Abyan province.  People are evacuating some towns and the government is using airstrikes against AQAP (al-Qa'eda Arabian Peninsula).  This is a really good article (in the Yemen Times) detailing what has been happening Abyan:
“We are engaged in what amounts to a guerrilla war with Al-Qaeda,” the deputy head of security in  the Abyan province town of Mawdia, Colonel Mohamed al-Khodr told AFP on Tuesday.
President Saleh blamed third world countries’ media and accused them of “blowing out of proportion” events in Yemen, which he termed as “rare and carried out by limited terrorist cells.” He added, “we know about them and our security is hunting them down as we speak.”
I do not believe that we are all blowing things out of proportion.  Several Yemeni officials have been assassinated, and a British diplomat was attacked too.  Yemen is in trouble, and Saleh is trying to hang on to his control.  If things continue this way, President Saleh is in danger of becoming like President Karzai of Afghanistan (the Mayor of Kabul) - he'll be the Mayor of Sana'a.  Yahoo! also has information about the situation.  So far, I have seen very little about this in the US media, I'm not sure why.  Even the BBC News website had nothing on their main Middle East page.

For all of the people out there who don't care what happens in Yemen, or don't see the danger: one of my friends pointed out that the African pirates operate in the Gulf of Aden, the waters around Yemen.  So imagine al-Qa'eda operatives working with Somali pirates, and then tell me that Yemen doesn't matter.

Saudi Arabia buys arms and imprisons women

Saudi Arabia and the US reached an arms agreement that will supply the kingdom with F-15s and helicopters.  Saudi Arabia is the biggest country in the Gulf, and is situated right next to Iran and Yemen.  With all the trouble Ahmadinejad has been talking up, it makes sense that the US would want it well armed and dependent upon the West.  And Yemen is about ready to implode.  I'll post separately on that.

The court system in Saudi Arabia is also being criticized by Human Rights Watch for being very patriarchal and ruling against women.  Women in the kingdom fall under the authority of their father or husband.  One woman is in jail for disobeying her father, even after she managed to successfully sue him when he tried to prevent her marriage.  The article doesn't say if the marriage went through or not, but this whole situation is ridiculous.  Women are perfectly capable of opening their own bank accounts, using government services, and traveling.  They should not be treated like children or cattle!

New Roundups

I've been a bit remiss in keeping up with the news this week, so here's a quick recap of some of the goings on:

Egypt is cracking down even more on the media and the Muslim Brotherhood.  And again, the US isn't saying anything about it.

A small TV station in Kuwait was attacked by a mob, for making fun of the ruling family.

Rachel Corrie's family finally got their day in court, in Israel.  The driver of the bulldozer that killed Rachel testified behind a screen.

Bahrain is cracking down on Shi'ites, ahead of elections there.  Bahrain has a large Shi'ite population, and is worried about Iran gaining a foothold.

Blogger Ali Abdulemam is still in jail in Bahrain.  I'm not sure if he is Shi'ite or if he was just arrested for daring to speak his own mind.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Women's News October 18, 2010

It's been a while, but I am trying to keep up with women's news in the Middle East too.  Most of it is bad.

The Federal Supreme Court in the UAE says that a man can discipline (beat) his wife and children, as long as he doesn't leave any marks on them.  Yay?  I've seen in movies that beating someone with a sack of oranges doesn't leave any marks.  I wonder what else husbands can come up with so that no marks are left on their wives?

As part of a course in Yemen, women were surveyed about their working rights.  Most of them did not know their rights, and most of them reported discrimination.  But they were usually unable to fight against the discrimination, for fear of losing their jobs.  This really is not surprising.  Yemen is a fairly conservative country, and even in the United States women still run into these problems.  For a long time, in the United States, women who work were seen as being the 2nd income, therefore they did not need to make as much money as men, because they had a husband who worked.

edit: fixed title and tags

Top Stories October 18, 2010

Al-Ahram (Egypt):  Waiting on America - The Peace Process will have to wait until after the US elections on November 2nd.

Haaretz (Israel):  'U.S. believes Chinese companies are helping Iran develop nukes' - Haaretz quotes an article by the Washington Post about some Chinese companies helping Iran.

Turkish Daily News:  AKP to attempt to legalize headscarves once again - The Justice and Development Party discussed headscarves, Kurds, and terrorism at its annual retreat.

Times of Oman:  Little hope for miners in latest China disaster - The miners are probably not alive.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Islamophobia in Germany

Things are just getting worse for Muslims in Europe.  Now the chancellor of Germany has come out and said that multiculturalism there has failed:
"This approach has failed, totally," she said, adding that immigrants should integrate and adopt Germany's culture and values.
"We feel tied to Christian values. Those who don't accept them don't have a place here," said the chancellor.
But then later:
While saying that the government needed to encourage the training of Muslim clerics in Germany, Merkel said "Islam is part of Germany", echoeing the recent comments of Wulff, a liberal voice in the party.

Wow.  I can't believe a European leader actually said something like that.  Now, I do believe in "integration."  But in my mind, that means that if you move to a new country and become a citizen there, you learn the language and the laws.  It doesn't mean you have to change your religion.  I admit that I don't know a lot about what it going on in Germany.  Most of what I have heard is about Muslim Turks moving there and the Germans not really liking it.  The Turkish prime minister did weigh in by asking Turkish immigrants to learn German.  But I'm still concerned, because Islamophobia seems to be taking off in Europe.  Well, at least Germany hasn't yet become the Netherlands.

Yemen fights Al-Qa'eda Update V

If this keeps up, I may have to start some kind of YemenWatch section.

Nice article from Yahoo! about the politics of Yemen and the current problems with AQAP, including information on al-Awlaki.

In News of the Weird:  a Guantanamo inmate from Saudi Arabia went through their anti-jihadi program, then joined AQAP in Yemen, and now has apparently turned himself back in to the authorities.  WTF??? 

Oh, yeah.  And don't travel to Yemen right now.  I'd put it on my travel watch list, but I don't have one.

Very good book, but a little dry.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Fighting Islamophobia

Kudos to talk show hosts Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar, for arguing against Bill O'Reilly and finally walking off the set until he apologized for demeaning Muslims.  I'm sure this won't go any further, but I will take the small victory and celebrate it.

Egyptian Free Speech and Free Elections?

The Egyptian government is cracking down even harder on the media, so that it will be in control when the parliamentary elections are held next month.  If the United States is going to be allies with Egypt and help them monetarily, the least it can do is exert pressure so that fair and unbiased elections and election coverage are held.

Yemen fights Al-Qa'eda Update IV

Al-Qa'eda militants killed the security chief of a town in the province of Abyan.  When the governor of the province went to see the site, his group was attacked too.  And three soldiers were kidnapped in a seperate attack.  Apparently the al-Qa'eda groups in Saudi Arabia and Yemen merged last year to form al-Qa'eda Arabian Peninsula (I may refer to them as al-Qa'eda AP or AQAP).

There have also been attacks in Aden, which is where the Gulf Cup will be held in late November.  Some of the Gulf countries are a bit concerned about sending their soccer clubs there, which is probably exactly what al-Qa'eda AP wants.

This is really bad.  AQAP has been stepping up the number of attacks in Yemen, which is further destabilizing the country.  The government has enough trouble keeping the nation together because of Shi'ite rebellions in the north and successionist rebellions in the south.  It wasn't that long ago that Yemen was two separate countries.  An unstable Yemen would be a huge asset to AQAP, and would allow them to launch attacks all over the Arabian Peninsula.

Edit: Forget to include this article from the Yemen Times.  More troops have been sent to Abyan province, and there is some tribal fighting going on near Aden.  This article also lists some smaller attacks that I haven't seen in the regular world press.  I would definitely not visit Yemen, outside of the capital city, right now.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

YouTube Bad for Israel

First there was footage of the flotilla on YouTube, now it's individual soldiers.  There have been several YouTube videos lately, by Israeli soldiers, that have embarrassed Israel.  Several have mocked Arab prisoners, although it is not known if all of them are real.  But it is a problem.
Even if faked, it highlights the extent to which some Israeli soldiers have dehumanized their Palestinian foes, said Dana Zimmerman of Yesh Din. [Israeli rights group]

"Whether it's real or not — once it seems OK or cool or funny to have detained human beings with their eyes blindfolded in degrading positions — it says a really bad thing about our society," Zimmerman said.

Israelis and Palestinians Work Together

This is from last week, but it is worth noting.  Someone set fire to a mosque in the West Bank.  It survived, but many Qur'ans were burned.  So a group of Israeli rabbis visited and brought new Qur'ans with them for the mosque.  And both sides condemned the fire.  See, both sides can get along.  Maybe not all the time, but I believe that most Palestinians and Israelis want peace.  Unfortunately, that is not enough.

What Kind of Fundamentalism?

I somehow missed this in 2009:  Juan Cole's article about how similar Sarah Palin's views are to Muslim extremists.  It is the height of hypocrisy for someone to decry Islam and some of the extremist views that exist, only to insist on similarly extreme Christian views.  But then, most politicians rarely let facts stand in their way.  In a similar vein, Cole's post today on Palin and Sharia is also worth reading.


You have probably noticed the advertising on my site now.  I set it up, but I have no control over what type of advertisement actually shows up.  It's a bit amusing to see ads for "become a Federal Agent" or "get a degree in homeland security" but I don't like the ads for the Newt Gingrich DVD.  Oh well.  Hopefully the ads will become a bit more fine-tuned as I continue posting.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Top Stories October 11, 2010

Daily Star (Lebanon):  Saqr: Hariri 'will not accuse Hizbollah' in father's killing - Hearings on the Hariri assassination are still the main focus in Lebanon.

Haaretz (Israel):  U.S. after Netanyahu settlement freeze proposal: Our position on this is well known - The discussion on a new settlement freeze is causing problems.

Syria Today:  Neutral Ground - This article is from the September issue of the magazine.  Apparently Syria has been playing a role in the Iraqi elections, trying to help the political parties come together and form a parliament.  I hadn't heard of this before.  It's weird to think of Syria as the voice of reason between the Sunni and Shi'ite factions in Iraq.

Turkish Daily News:  Campaign for women politicians in Turkey launched to empty hall - There was a press conference for the Association to Support Women Candidates, and almost no journalists showed up.  I'm not sure if that means anything.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More Islamophobia in America

There are some really wacko people in America.  Sharron Angle is running for the office of senator, in the state of Nevada.  Someone asked her about the Shariah law happening in the US, so she had to show her ignorance, by castigating Dearborn, Michigan, for coming under Shariah law.  If I remember correctly, Dearborn has the largest Muslim community in the US.  And since it is an American city, it is under American law!  What the hell is wrong with these people who seem to think that if a few Muslims get together then the rule of law changes!  The only way Shariah law could take over is through a constitutional amendment, which would require at least 35 states to approve of it!  But these right-wing crazies have no intention of letting the facts get in the way of their bizarre beliefs. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Egyptian Free Speech

Freedom of speech is not guaranteed in most countries.  Including Egypt.  The government seems to be cracking down on journalists, just ahead of the coming elections.  This is fairly typical of Egypt.  Hosni Mubarak is elderly and has some health issues, so the current thinking is that his son Gamal may be the new man in charge.  It reminds me of the Soviet Union.  Of course you have the right to vote in the elections!  But we decide who can run.

Yemen fights Al-Qa'eda Update III

Or maybe this one should be titled "Al-Qa'eda fights Yemen."  A British diplomat's convoy was attacked, and another attack killed a French oil worker.  This is all bad news for Yemen.  According to the Yemen Times, the tourist industry there has lost about $10 billion.  Yemen has some beautiful countryside, and several areas on the United Nations World Heritage list, but it's hard to get tourists to visit them when they could be killed by al-Qa'eda militants.

It's really a shame.  Yemen is the poorest country on the Arabian peninsula, because they don't have huge oil reserves like most of the other nations.  They also get African refugees, and their waters are part of the area where you hear about pirates off the coast of Africa.  It's because of all of this that al-Qa'eda has managed to get a major foothold here.  The US is sending money and training to the Yemeni troops, but more needs to be done.  The country has enough political problems because of the tribes; it can't handle terrorism too.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Top Stories October 4, 2010

Al-Ahram (Egypt):  Construction fever - Their correspondent in Palestine writes about the end of the moratorium on new settlements.

Al-Azzaman (Iraq):  The Iraqi holocaust - Iraq has been forgotten since the US troop withdrawal, but conditions continue to deteriorate.

Haaretz (Israel):  Netanyahu trying to convince top ministers to extend settlement freeze - Netanyahu is meeting with his top ministers to convince them to extend the moratorium for 60 days.  The Palestinians are very upset that the moratorium ended and building can begin again.

Turkish Daily News:  YOK's Rx for Turkey's headscarf quagmire: Don't ask, wear! - Turkey is instituting its own "don''t ask, don't tell" situation.  Headscarves have been banned at public university, but now the education board is saying that instructors cannot kick women out of class for wearing the headscarf.

Tehran Times (Iran):  Assad meets Supreme Leader in Tehran -Assad, the ruler of Syria, met with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, over the weekend.  Assad also received Iran's highest medal.  There are strong ties between these two countries, and the Ayatollah wants to strengthen them even more.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Palestinian Beer

Apparently all we need for peace in Palestine-Israel is alcohol.  No, really.  Christian Palestinians were celebrating Oktoberfest, and a bunch of Israelis showed up to help them.  And a great time was had by all!  Maybe we can all get along, after all.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Israeli Textbooks

A principal from a school in Israel has been called to the Education Ministry, for daring to use an unapproved history text book.  This horrible book dares to show the Palestinian version of the events surrounding the creation of Israel in 1948.  In general, the approved books don't mention the Palestinians, or they just say that they voluntarily left "Israel."  These books don't mention the Palestinians forced out or killed by Israeli troops, or the ones who left because they were living in a war zone but thought they could return once the fighting stopped.

I went to an American school with American textbooks.  When I was a child, Native Americans were savages who were saved by the white Christians who took over their land and forced them onto reservations.  When that finally began to change, some people complained that it was all about "political correctness."  It wasn't.  It was about THE TRUTH.  Current textbooks do a much better job of explaining what happened.  Sometimes governments do really heinous things to people.  But it's much better to get it out in the open and to get over it, than to hide it and let it fester for decades.  Because then it becomes so much harder to explain.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Islam on ABC 20/20 Update I

Interesting comments:  Judaism and Christianity went through the Enlightenment, which mitigated the misogyny.  Of course, they overlook the point that it only took 1700 years for Christianity to get there, and Islam has only been around for 1500 years.  And women's rights are still being fought for in the United States.

Islam on ABC 20/20

ABC Network is doing an episode on Islam right now.  So far, they are making some good educational points about Islam.  They are also showing some of the wacko Americans with bizarre beliefs.