Thursday, October 26, 2006

Unpleasant, but

It seems to be human nature to ignore unpleasantness. Is that why so many of us lie to ourselves and pretend things will be fine? These two articles aren't the best for early in the morning, but reading them at night can cause nightmares. Ignoring these things won't make it better. So...

These are from IMRA.

Expert: Prepare for war

Middle East experts give their forecasts for the coming months in the region, warn of 'terrible deterioration' on Israel's northern border

by Yaakov Lappin

The coming months will present Israel with strategic threats from three different directions, Dr. Boaz Ganor, founder of the Institute for Counter-Terrorism told Ynetnews.

The first threat, stemming from the Shiite alliance of Iran and Hizbullah, will result in "terrible deterioration" on Israel's northern border, according to Ganor.

"The year 2007 is going to be a critical year, as the international arena will do its utmost to narrow down the nuclear capabilities of Iran. It could be done by using more affirmative sanctions, or even a military campaign," Ganor said. "And the ramification of such an attempt, even if it's only sanctions, will cause a terrible deterioration of the situation on the northern border, where Iran will use its proxy Hizbullah to retaliate against Israel, and make clear that Israel has to pay for any activities against Iran," Ganor added.

Turning to the Palestinian arena, Ganor said that "the Palestinians are now at the stage of shaping their self-identities," a process he described as ultimately "positive." They are torn between "terrorism and violence against Israel, definitely the concept used by Yasser Arafat under the Oslo accords," as well as today's "Islamic radical terrorist organizations," and the "alternative option, which is actually being represented by (PA President Mahmoud Abbas) Abu Mazen," based on the idea that "terrorism and violence will never fulfill the Palestinian national interest."

"The problem is that this is not a smooth process. It involves battles within the Palestinian arena. And I think in the coming months this may spill over into Israel," Ganor said.

Ganor then pointed out the "third process, which I have to admit that many Israelis, including decision makers and security services in Israel underestimate, is the threat of global jihadists against Israel," posed by al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

"In my view, in the coming months, global jihadists will try to launch what we call a major attack against Israel. Zawahiri (deputy leader of al-Qaeda) has announced that. I tend to believe him. The activities of al-Qaeda and global jihadist movements are surrounding Israel, from Sinai, Amman, Jordan, some involvement in Lebanon, and ongoing and growing involvement in Gaza Strip. And it's only a matter of time before they infiltrate Israel soon. So this is in my view a very negative process and I have to admit that… we are under-prepared," Ganor added.

'Very little time until next war'
In a document made available to Ynetnews by Professor Moshe Sharon, an expert on Islamic history at the Hebrew University, Sharon declared that the next war Israel would have to fight was almost here.

"Today it is clear to everyone who is prepared to confront unadorned reality, and they are the majority of people in Israeli society with the wish to live, that we have to take advantage of the short period of time left to us to prepare the army for the inevitable next war. It is already on the way," Sharon wrote.

He added: "Hizbullah is the immediate enemy. No one will disarm it because it has no intention of disarming and there is no one to coerce it to do so. The UN is collaborating with Hizbullah and none of its member nations has any interest in dealing with it."

"The Shiite of Hizbullah has taken control of Lebanon with the generous help of Iran and Syria and it will not relinquish it even if this means bringing about its total destruction. Lebanon will gradually be emptied of its remaining Christian population and zealous Islam will have achieved an important objective: One of the only two non-Muslim countries in the Middle East will just disappear," Sharon said.

"Islam came into being as a fighting religion. Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, imposed his authority, first and foremost, by means of his military strength. He understood that even when speaking in the name of Allah, this must be accompanied by tens of thousands of fighters with drawn swords," the professor added.

"The Muslims consider the State of Israel to be an advance position of the "House of War" established on Islamic territory conquered from Islam. Israel, therefore, must first disappear. All paths to that end are legitimate," Sharon said.

Describing peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan as tactical breaks in their war against Israel, Sharon declared: "The Egyptian authorities turn a blind eye, or worse, allow the unimpeded flow of arms, above and below ground, to terrorist organizations in Gaza. Is it necessary to ask, to fight against whom did Egypt create an army of close to a million soldiers?"

Arabs must possess nuclear arms; Mecca Charter; and Qatar inflation -- Oct 15-21, 2006

Date : 2006-10-22
The following is a weekly summary of select translated opinions expressed in Gulf Arabic newspapers on important issues – Oct. 15-21, 2006.

Mecca Charter awaits implementation
Editorial, Al-Bayan (UAE, Oct. 20)

The 10-point Mecca Charter, signed by a group of Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites, calls for halting the irrational and sectarian bloodletting in Iraq. This initiative has the blessings of top Iraqi Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, and other ranking religious figures.
Attendance by the representatives of major Iraqi forces at the Mecca conference is a positive indication. This blood-shedding is about to result in a third river in Iraq, other than the Tigris and Euphrates, and some authorities have put the daily death toll of the violence at 500, a horrific figure that reflects the tragic conditions prevailing in Iraq.
The sectarian killings must be stopped as soon as possible before the conditions worsen further. This is where the charter could be of help. This charter may not be sufficient to halt the wave of killings, but it may prove to be a basic step that could rationalize the conflict.

Rice seeks regional Sunni support for Maliki
Muhanna Al-Hubail, Al-Watan (Qatar, Oct. 18)

The regional tour by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on October 14 was aimed at exerting pressure on the Gulf countries to coerce charities to halt financial aid to “our people in Palestine” to deprive Hamas of financial resources and rallying regional support for the Iraqi government led by Nouri Al-Maliki in the face of influential militias formed during the era of the former government.
Rice’s mission is certain to collapse because a cover-up by the Sunni Arabs for the Iraqi government would not help halt the military operations targeting the occupation forces. These resistance groups have maintained independent decision-making mechanisms, in addition to the fact that they believe that their actions are necessary to protect the blood of the innocent and that the military means must be maintained to end the foreign occupation of the country.
By intervening in Iraq, the political regimes in the Gulf may reap dire consequences. The Gulf rulers “must stop destroying their houses” with their own hands while serving the American schemes in the region.


Alarming inflation in Qatar
Jassem Hussein, Al-Iktisadiah (Saudi Arabia, Oct. 14)

Inflation in the GCC countries has become a bitter fact. In some countries like Qatar, the phenomenon is quite alarming. The Qatari Central Planning Council reported that the inflation rate in the country reached 8.2 percent in the first half of 2006, compared to 4.8 percent during the same period in 2005 and 8.8 percent throughout the year. This figure is very high compared to than one percent inflation posted in 2002.
This soaring inflation is attributed to several factors, including rents, which rose to 26 percent in 2005 from 21 percent in 2004. The authorities set the hike ceiling for the rents at 10 percent per annum effective 2006 in a bid to tackle this problem.
Inflation is also related to the hike in salaries in the private sector – 11.1 percent between August 2005 and 2006 – and the inflow of Bahraini workers, who are favored for their educational and vocational skills.


Strategic oil ventures in limbo
Kamel Al-Harmi, Al-Qabas (Kuwait, Oct. 15)

Strategic oil ventures aimed at hiking the crude output to 3-4 million barrels per day by 2010-2020 have remained in limbo, partly due to the lack of a confirmation by the energy department that the oil reserves would reach 200 billion barrels, double the current reserves. Several of these projects have been shelved or merely neglected for a host of other reasons.
Some of these shelved ventures are the implementation of an accord with Qatar to start importing gas by advent of 2007, the suspended accords to bring gas and water from Iran, development of the northern oil fields where the output had been projected to reach 900,000 bpd and establishment of a third company for the distribution of fuel.
Other suspended projects include the venture for the establishment of a fourth oil refinery, where the Saudi Texaco Company objected to the location of the planned refinery in the region of Al-Zor.
The freezing of these strategic ventures will certainly affect all sectors of the oil industry in the country, resulting in the loss of many jobs and skilled labor. For how long will we continue to waste opportunities to launch vital ventures that can help us upgrade the oil industry, which is our bread winner.


Arabs have no choice but to possess nuclear arms
Dr Ibrahim Al-Bahrawi, Al-Ittihad (UAE, Oct. 19)

Amid a flurry of recent reports about North Korea’s nuclear test, Egypt was mentioned as the sole Arab country with the potential to make a substantial nuclear development because Cairo declared the resumption of its peaceful nuclear program several months ago. In addition, Egypt has previous experience in this domain – operating the “Inshas” nuclear reactor. Moreover, Arab Gulf countries can help Egypt financially to develop its nuclear capacity.
The Arabs (read Egyptians) should take into consideration the following facts in this regard: Signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) does not constitute a hindrance in the face of planning a peaceful nuclear program that can eventually be transformed into a military program. Washington’s global influence is fading and smaller countries such as North Korea and Iran can circumvent international curbs and the US appears unable to launch military strikes on these countries.
The Arabs face the threat of Israeli nuclear arms, with the approval of the United States, and identical weapons in Iran’s possession without approval. Analysts believe that the Arabs have no choice but to seek to possess these arms to repel the enemies.


New understanding of Islam badly needed
Dr Ahmad Abdel Malak, Al-Ittihad (UAE, Oct. 19)

I admire the letter addressed by 38 Muslim scholars to the Pope, accepting his apology for citing a critical opinion of Islam by a Byzantine ruler in a recent lecture in Germany. The scholars explained to him that the Koran stipulates that a non-believer cannot be transformed into a believer by force; the holy book urges Muslims to be rational and thoughtful; there is difference between Jihad and Holy War; and believing that Allah is the only God is the message of several prophets and messengers.
Is there a modern Islamic perspective that conforms to the era of openness, rejection of racism and chauvinism that have been preached by some scholars who have failed to absorb the spirit of the modern age and interpreted the holy book on the basis of tolerance and democracy?
Since the demise of Imam Ali, our religious clerics have been implanting in our conscience hatred of non-Muslims and praying to His Almighty to make their women widows and deprive them of children! Those scholars have waged a war against civilization and incited our youth to be embroiled in political conflicts in Afghanistan and Chechnya.
We need a new Islam, an Islam that advocates life and not suffering of in the after-life, a religion that calls for tolerance and refrains from labeling people as atheists. We also need a higher authority with ample influence to protect the march of deviation.


Islamic groups exploit women to support men candidates
Abdullah Al-Ayoubi, Akhbar Al-Khaleej (Bahrain, Oct. 16)

At a Friday sermon held at Issa Mosque last week, the speaker said that the election of women to represent Muslims in parliament is prohibited by Islamic Sharia. This unfortunate lecture was ignored by the authorities in charge of the electoral process.
Political-oriented Islamic movements have affirmed anew that they cannot be involved in elections without exploiting the religion and manipulating it to serve their objectives, even if this contradicts the Constitution, which neither bans women from taking part in the parliamentary or municipal elections nor discriminates between the two genders with regard to this civil right.
The sermon was blatantly used to serve certain electoral goals and to insult half the society.
Such a gender-based attack is not surprising because women have a great chance to get elected in the parliament elections scheduled for November.
The Islamic political groups are solely interested in garnering women’s votes for the men candidates and their hostile attitude toward women was explicit in their electoral lists that did not include name of any women nominees.


Campaign against the veil – prelude to special measures against Muslims
Abu Bakr Hassan, Al-Watan (Qatar, Oct. 20)

The world has become pre-occupied with the issue of the Islamic women’s veil, as if mankind has resolved many other thorny and much more significant issues such as wars, poverty, water shortage, diseases and other problems that threaten international peace and security.
Chairman of the British House of Commons Jack Straw recently called on Muslim women living in the UK to refrain from veiling their faces because wearing the veil hinders them from integrating into the British society. Prime Minister Tony Blair supported Straw’s call, but changed his view later saying that the attitude toward the veil is based on personal beliefs rather than the government’s policy.
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi urged Italian Muslim women to remove their veils if they wish to be part of the mainstream society. Other leading figures in the West have argued that the veil hinders adherence to security precautions and can be exploited by terrorists to hide suspicious persons or arms.
But many Muslims fear that this campaign against the veil may be a prelude to extraordinary security precautions against Muslims living in the West.


‘MP of the bidoons’ breaks the law
Mohammed Al-Shibani, Al-Qabas (Kuwait, Oct. 15)

Member of the National Assembly and the Islamic Constitutional Movement Khudair Al-Enezi has brushed aside Kuwaiti laws and regulations and held a meeting with American diplomats at the US embassy building, protesting against the bidoons case (illegal or stateless residents). His action was a brazen violation of the laws, and he should not have broken the allegiance he made in front of the Amir after he was elected as a MP.
Enezi made this bold move because the government fears MPs. In Kuwait, citizens, officials and MPs keep forgetting the law and showing disrespect to rules. How long will this situation persist?
The MP has made this issue his personal cause to the extent that he has been dubbed “the MP of the bidoons”. But the legislator apparently intends to hurt some figures and settle scores in the Interior Ministry, targeting in particular a senior officer, Major General Mohammed Al-Subaiee.
This MP should be stopped or else he will continue to present our problems at the buildings of other foreign missions.


Anonymous said...

So it *still* can get worse? When will we finally reach the bottom, so to say?

Batya said...

Think of when our "fathers" were slaves in Egypt; Moshe tried to save them, but they weren't ready to go, so things got worse.

I'm no prophet, but I don't see the people ready to go with G-d yet.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that MP Enezi had the courage to go to the US Embassy on behalf of the Bidoon issue in Kuwait. For decades now, Bidoons have lived in poor conditions with no one as their champion. MP Enezi has family members who are Bidoon (hold no nationality) - although they are blood relatives.

The US Embassy has been "sheltered" from the issue of Kuwait's stateless for years. One embassy representative stated, "Bidoon? Where are they from?" Most are born in Kuwait and have had generations of ancestors born in Kuwait.

It is a national shame. Bidoon can't get basic necessities like jobs, healthcare, or education. So, what is left? Crime, in many cases.

You hear all kinds of ranting about how "democratic" moderate Arab countries like Kuwait are, and yet it is far from democracy when there is an entire sub-culture oppressed in poverty. If Bidoon speak out, they are ostracized and deported.

Sometimes there are men/women in history who lead others out of oppression (Moses/Moshe/Moosa); perhaps Mr. Al-Enezi is one of them.