January 2007 Archives

January 31, 2007

Juan Cole: 'Bush Comment On Najaf Farcical'

Professor Juan Cole over at Informed Comment says "Attempts are being made to knock down all kinds of stories about the Najaf uprising [link added].

He noted that," [U.S. President George W.] Bush expressed happiness that the Iraqi Army (actually the Badr Corps fundamentalist Shiite militia) acquitted itself well against the rebels. But in fact," Mr. Cole added, "the Iraqi security forces were surrounded, cut off and nearly destroyed by heavily armed cultists--and had urgently to call in US troops, tanks and close air support," he noted in a January 31, 2007, post headlined "Bush Comment on Najaf Farcical; Hawatimah Tribe of Diwaniyah involved in Mahdist Uprising?".

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January 28, 2007

TIME: 'Can More Aid Save Afghanistan?'

TIME magazine's Elaine Shannon, writing from Washington, D.C., the U.S. capital,  contends in a January 28, 2007, article that, "The Bush Administration's efforts this week to get its NATO allies to contribute more troops and money to Afghanistan — by pledging more of both from the U.S. — are a reminder of mounting problems in Washington's other war."

"Indeed," she opined, "even if, as expected, the Administration's request for $10.6 billion more to beef up the Afghan security forces and reconstruction efforts sails through Congress, the additional funds are unlikely to arrive in time to help the Afghan security forces hold their own against the Taliban's spring offensive."

To read more, please see "Can More Aid Save Afghanistan?

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Saudi Arabia's Warning To Iran

King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud  of Saudi Arabia's "has said Iran is putting the Gulf region in danger and has advised Tehran leaders to know "their limits," according to a January 27, 2007, article in Al Jazeera.net. The article is based on news agency reports.

Citing "an interview published in Kuwait's al-Seyassah newspaper on Saturday," January 27, 2007, Aljazeera said " Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud said attempts by Iran to spread Shia beliefs in Sunni communities would fail."

He was quoted as saying: "Saudi leaders and the Saudi state have always known their limits in dealing with nations, east and west. I explained this to Ali Larijani [Iran's nuclear negotiator] and advised him to pass it on to his government and its followers, with regard to foreign dealings."

To read more, please see "Saudi warns 'interfering' Iran."

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January 23, 2007

Pakistan, Syria, Jordan Call For New Middle East Initiative

According to The News of Pakistan, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf held “in-depth discussions” with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the Palestinian issue on January 23, 2007.

"In the talks," The News reported, Mr. "Musharraf called for an early resolution of the conflicts in the region and stressed the need for harmony and unity in the Muslim world to address the dangers it faces. The president shared his deep concern over the situation in the Middle East and said there was an agreement in the Muslim world on the need for urgent fresh efforts, involving Arab and other influential Muslim countries in the efforts for conflict resolution in the Middle East."

To read more, please see "Pakistan, Syria, Jordan for new ME initiative."

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Arab Press Commentary On Mahmoud Abbas' Syria Trip

The BBC reported January 22, 2007, that "Arab newspapers in the Middle East see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' weekend visit to Damascus [the Syrian capital] and his meetings with exiled Hamas head Khaled Meshaal and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as signs of better things to come."

To read some of that opinion, please see "Arab press upbeat on Abbas Syria trip."

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Iranian, Syrian Foreign Ministers Hold Talks In Tehran

"Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and his Syrian counterpart Walid Mualem discussed bilateral ties and exchanged views about regional issues in a meeting" in Tehran, Iran on January 22, 2007, according to the FARS News Agency.

To read more, please see "Iran, Syria Review Regional Developments."

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January 22, 2007

The Implications Of The Karbala Raid In Iraq

Just World News proprietor Helena Cobban asserts in a January 22, 2007, post that, "It seems the US authorities were not eager for the US public (or anyone else) to know the details of the lethally effective raid mounted against US occupation forces in Karbala last Saturday [July 20, 2007]."

Adds Cobban:"These details clearly indicate the size and creativity of the unit that undertook the attack, as well as the existence of significant collaboration between the anti-US attackers and members of the "Iraqi security forces" who were co-deployed with the targeted Americans at the "Provincial Joint Coordination Center" (PJCC) in Karbala. "

To read more, please see "Grave implications of the Karbala raid."
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Today In Iraq's Roundup of Iraq War news

Today in Iraq has its usual, comprehensive daily roundup of gruesome war news from Iraq. There is also informative commentary on the war. Here is the news for January 22, 2007.

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Are Southern Arab Tribes in Iraq Joining The Resistance?

"Violence is spreading further across Iraq, as Shi'ite Arab tribes in the south begin to engage occupation forces in new armed resistance," according to Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily in an Inter Press Service report in the January 23, 2007 edition of Asia Times Online. See "Southern tribes add to Iraqi resistance.

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TurkishPress.Com: 'Sunni-Shiite Meet Condemns 'Sectarian War' In Iraq

More than 200 scholars "from 44 countries," representing various Islamic groups condemned "the sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites unfolding in Iraq, which is conducive to (its) fragmentation," said a statement issued at the end of a three-day conference on inter-Islamic dialogue in Doha, Qatar, according to a January 22, 2007, article in TurkishPress.com headlined "Sunni-Shiite meet condemns 'sectarian war' in Iraq."

According to the article, "Their statement, which followed often heated debates, denounced "crimes perpetrated along sectarian lines" and urged adherents of various Islamic sects to "respect" each other's sanctities.

"The participants also said "Shiite proselytization in Sunni countries or Sunni proselytization in Shiite countries" should not be allowed," TurkishPress.com reported.

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Sending More Troops To Iraq Won't Stop Sectarian Violence

"More than 3,200 U.S. paratroopers landed in Baghdad yesterday [January 21, 2007] to help quell raging sectarian violence as U.S. losses surged with 25 troops killed in a single day," Gulf Daily News of Bahrain informed its readers. See "3,200 US troops arrive to quell Iraq violence."

The deployment won't do much good. Only the Iraqis can halt the violence spawned by the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Once the invasion and overthrow of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein destroyed the social fabric was tendencies that were keep in check by iron-fisted rule were unleashed. The U.S. occupation of Iraq spawned a resistance movement that is fighting the U.S., the Iraqi government and the Shia community. Both Sunnis and Shia are terrorizing Iraqis as they vie for control of the country

As might be expected, the Shia are engaged in the big payback for their years of suffering under Mr. Hussein, who was executed December 30, 2006. This is their day in the sun. Someone has to merge a winner and someone a loser. It certainly won't be the U.S.

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Foreign Policy In Focus Describes The 'The Three U.S. Armies In Iraq'

"American forces in Iraq are still far short of the military deployment the United States had in Vietnam," notes Zia Mian, "a physicist with the Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, in a January 22, 2007, article at  Foreign Policy In Focus online, to which he is a frequent contributor.

Mian said, "U.S. troop numbers in Vietnam increased from less than 20,000 in early 1964 to more than half a million by 1969. But the difference between the force levels – and the two situations -- is a lot less than most people think. There is, after all, not just one U.S. army in Iraq."

The writer contends that, there are three U.S. armies in Iraq. To read about them, please see "The Three U.S. Armies in Iraq."

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January 16, 2007

The China Blog And The China Analyst

Time magazine has a very informative blog called The China Blog. I found it fascinating based on my long-time interest in China. During the 1970s and 80s, I read English language Chinese publications weekly and was a regular reader of Xinhua. I still am.

By the way, I came across The China Blog while reading  and article in The China Analyst (beta) headlined "Can Journos Blog?The China Analyst is described as "a community for English blogging related to China and Chinese Culture."

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January 10, 2007

Syed Saleem Shahzad: 'How The Taliban Keep Their Coffers Full'

"Just as the Taliban move across the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan with impunity, so does the money needed to sustain the Taliban-led insurgency flow unrestricted between the countries," reports Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief, in a January 10, 2007, article.

To read it, please see "How the Taliban keep their coffers full."

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Uighurs Want China To Allow U.N. Investigation in East Turkestan

The Associated Press reported January 10, 2007, that "Rebiya Kadeer, a Chinese Muslim from Xinjiang now living in exile in the United States," urged "China on Wednesday [January 10, 2007] to allow an independent probe of a bloody raid in the country's restive west and challenged Beijing's claim that 18 alleged militants killed had links to international terrorists." The AP quoted her as saying in a statement:

If the Chinese authorities want to be taken seriously as a responsible member of the world community, then they must allow independent scrutiny of any evidence they have for the claims they are making

"We call on the Chinese government to facilitate an investigation into the scale and nature of alleged terrorist activities in East Turkestan by an independent commission, such as a body within the United Nations.

Jane Macartney, the Times Online's Beijing correspondent, reported January 10, 2007, that, "China revealed the depth of its fear of Islamic-linked violence yesterday [January 9, 2007] when police disclosed that they had killed 18 terrorists and captured another 17 after a fierce battle at a secret training camp in a remote northwestern region.

Macartney said, "The clash in the Pamir mountains on Friday [January 5, 2007] was one of the deadliest for years in the restive Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region [Eastern Turkestan]. , where 8.5 million Muslims make up most of the population. One policeman was killed and a second wounded."

She also reported that, "It was the first time that China had announced the discovery of such a camp in its territory. Officials said that they had uncovered links between the activists and international terrorist groups, hinting at connections to al-Qaida," Macartney wrote.

It's time to retire the word terrorist. It has become a catch phrase for anyone that opposes the power of the state.

To read The Times report, please see "China admits fear of Muslim terror as police kill 18 in mountain battle." To read the AP report, see "U.S.-based Muslim activist urges U.N. probe of Chinese terror raid that killed 18."

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Presidents Chavez, Ortega And Correa Set To Be Sworn In

Agence France Presse Correspondent Victor Flores, writing from Caracas, Venezuela, reported January 10, 2007, that,  "In  the course of a week, Venezuela's firebrand President Hugo Chavez will be sworn in for a new term, followed by leftist allies Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua and Rafael Correa in Ecuador whom he hopes will form an anti-US axis of the left."

To read more, please see the report carried by Caribbean Net News headlined "Flush Chavez hopes to bolster anti-US coalition in Latin America.

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Riverbend: Who Hangs For The Thousands Who've Died In The Iraq War?

At the conclusion of her December 31, 2006, post titled "A Lynching...,",  a commentary on the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Riverbend, the Iraqi woman behind the award winning Baghdad Burning blog wrote:

One of the most advanced countries in the world did not help to reconstruct Iraq, they didn't even help produce a decent constitution. They did, however, contribute nicely to a kangaroo court and a lynching. A lynching shall go down in history as America's biggest accomplishment in Iraq. So who's next? Who hangs for the hundreds of thousands who've died as a direct result of this war and occupation? Bush? Blair? Maliki? Jaffari? Allawi? Chalabi?

Iraq's best know blogger outside of Iraq added:"2006 has definitely been representative of Maliki and his government- killings like never before and a lynching to end it properly. Death and destruction everywhere. I'm so tired of all of this."

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Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia: Which Muslim Country Is Next?

"On the heels of US air strikes Monday [January 8, 2007], U.S. helicopter gunships strafed villages in Somalia Tuesday [January 9, 2007], in an ongoing hunt for al-Qaida operatives in the Horn of Africa," The Christian Science Monitor reported.

Occupying Afghanistan and Iraq and killing civilians in those countries plus strafing villages and killing civilians in Somalia is a good way to create more enemies in the Islamic world and guarantee a steady supply of suicide bombers. See "Civilian casualties of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan" and "Casualties of the conflict in Iraq since 2003." The consequences for Americans will be felt long after U.S. President George W. Bush has left office.

Which Muslim country is next on the list of U.S. targets in so-called war on terrorism? Or is it a war to guarantee access to Middle East and African oil and natural resources?

To read more of the Monitor report, please see "US takes hunt for Al Qaida to Somalia."

A FEW RELATED LINKS

Analysis: Raids could backfire on US --- The Australian, Australia

Analysis: Us Return To Somalia Limited --- Guardian Unlimited, United Kingdom

EU criticises US raid in Somalia --- Independent Online, South Africa

US says Somalia must not become terror haven --- Reuters.uk, Unitd Kingdom 

Gunfire rattles Mogadishu, US air strikes criticised --- The Washington Post, United States

Somali president says US air strikes justified --- Reuters, United Kingdom

Airstrike Rekindles Somalis’ Anger at the US --The New York Times, United States

"Many dead" in US strike at al Qaeda in Somalia --- Reuters India, India 

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January 7, 2007

The Sunday Times Interviews Rana bint Saddam Hussein

The Times Online's Hala Jaber has an interview with Rana Saddam Hussein, one of the late Saddam Hussein's daughters, in the January 7, 2007, edition of The Sunday Times. See "Saddam was my father."

It must be rough seeing your father executed by U.S. allies in the Iraqi government and your two brothers and nephew killed by U.S. forces. Whose left to take revenge on your behalf?

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The Sunday Times Sees An Israeli Attack On Iran Coming

The Sunday Times of London reported in a January 7, 2006, report headlined "Focus: Mission Iran" that, "Israel will not tolerate Iran going nuclear and military sources say it will use tactical strikes unless Iran abandons its program. Is Israel bluffing or might it really push the button?" the paper said.

Of course, Israel denounced the story. However, the question is: What is Iran and its Shia allies all over the world expected to when, not if,  Israel attacks. I predict no Israeli will be safe as suicide bombers take revenge in and outside Israel.

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USA TODAY: 'U.S. Support Key To Ethiopia's Invasion'

"The United States has quietly poured weapons and military advisers into Ethiopia, whose recent invasion of Somalia opened a new front in the Bush administration's war on terrorism," according to USA TODAY reporter Barbara Slavin in a January 7, 2007, report datelined Washington, D.C.

Ms. Slavin said Ethiopia, "a Christian-led nation in sub-Saharan Africa, surrounded almost entirely by Muslim states,"  has "received nearly $20 million in U.S. military aid since late 2002. That's more than any country in the region except Djibouti."

"Last month," she notes in her dispatch, "thousands of Ethiopian troops invaded neighboring Somalia and helped overturn a fundamentalist Islamic government that the Bush administration said was supported by al-Qaida."

It seems to mean nothing to the Bush Administration that,  The Islamic Courts movement brought a few months peace to Somalians after it ousted the warlords that kept Somalia in turmoil for 15-years. It wants no movement movement, party or leader in power it doesn't control. Ordinary Somalians don't matter in this power struggle.

By the way,  If al-Qaida wasn't operating in Somalia before the invasion, it will soon be there. According to The Associated Press,  "Some of the [Islamic Court] fighters in hiding told The Associated Press on Thursday [January 4, 2007] that they would heed a call from Ayman al-Zawahri, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden's deputy, for guerrilla attacks and suicide bombings against the troops from Ethiopia, which has a large Christian population."

To read more, please see "U.S. support key to Ethiopia's invasion." 

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It Will Take More Than Barricades To Stop The Taliban

Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief,  published an article January 5, 2007, that says it "will take more than barricades" along the Pakistan-Afghan border "to prevent the Taliban from going about their business in either country."

To read why, please see "Taliban walk right in, sit right down ..."

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Somalian War 'May End Up Being Fought In Ethiopia And Eritrea, Too'

Gwynne Dyer, a London-based independent journalist, contends in a January 5, 2007, report at Garowe Online, which was reprinted from The Namibian, that the current war in the Horn of Africa started "in Somalia, but it may end up being fought in Ethiopia and Eritrea, too."

"Together, the three countries contain almost a hundred million of the poorest people on the planet," she wrote.

To read more, please see "Somalia: A new war in Africa.

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Some Islamic Courts Leaders Arrive In Yemen

  A January 7, 2007, report at Aljazeera.Net says "Abubakr al-Qirbi, Yemen's foreign minister,"... has said some The Islamic Courts leaders [from Somalia] had arrived in Yemen, creating an opportunity for talks with Somalia's interim government."

"News of their presence coincided with a visit on Saturday [January 6, 2007] to the Yemeni city of Aden by Jendayi Frazer, the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs, who called for dialogue between Somali groups, including "remnants" of the Islamic courts."

To read more, please see "Somali troops deploy in Mogadishu.

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Will Ethiopia's Intervention In Somali Destablize The Horn Of Africa?

"By launching a war against Somalia's Islamists [ The Islamic Courts Union] Ethiopia says it was drawing a line in the sand against religious extremism in East Africa," writes Los Angeles Times correspondent Edmund Sanders in a January 7, 2007, dispatch datelined Mogadishu, Somalia. "But without quick diplomacy and international aid, analysts caution that the war could radicalize the region's traditionally moderate Muslims."

"This could bode ill for both Somalia and eastern Ethiopia, but perhaps even northern Kenya," Mr. Sanders quoted John Prendergast, "Africa analyst at International Crisis Group, a conflict-resolution think tank based in Washington," as saying.

Mr, Sanders also wrote: "Signs of a budding insurgency already are emerging in Mogadishu. Gunshots and riots rocked Somalia's capital on Saturday [January 6, 2007] as Ethiopian troops clashed with Somalian protesters. A 13-year-old Somalian boy was killed. Anonymous pamphlets distributed in some neighborhoods warned locals to steer clear of Ethiopian and allied soldiers from Somalia's transitional government. The pamphlets pledged guerrilla tactics and suicide attacks."

To read more, please see "Ethiopia's intervention may destabilize region."

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January 6, 2007

Karzai Scheduled To Visit Pakistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, the Bush Administration's man in Kabul, "will visit Pakistan in February in an effort to bridge the growing gap between the two countries," according to an Asian News International (ANI) report published January 6, 2007, at HindustanTimes.com.

To read more, please see "Karzai to visit Pakistan in February.

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January 5, 2007

BBC: 'Bloggers Fear Somali Insurgency'

The BBC reported January 4, 2007, that, "Members of the international blogging community have given their reaction to the role of Ethiopian troops in Somalia where Islamic militias have been defeated."

To read more, please see "Bloggers fear Somali insurgency."

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January 4, 2007

Will 'Slow Genocide' Return To Somalia?

"Slow genocide" is the phrase a Somali, who runs a humanitarian relief organisation, used to describe the reign of warlords before the Islamists' six-month rule of his country," writes Nina Brenjo, who blogs at Reuters Alert Net. "And he's not alone in thinking that the recent ousting of Islamists, in power since June 2006, is far from good news for Somalia, according to Martin Fletcher, Britain's Times correspondent who recently visited Mogadishu."

Ms. Brenjo, who "worked with Medecins Sans Frontieres and Premiere Urgence in Bosnia during the 1992-95 war," during the war, according to Reuters, said, "It is true that the Islamists reintroduced public executions and discouraged Western music, dancing and films, but they also brought stability after 15 years of anarchy and civil war. The official government, however, is now back in Mogadishu, and not without considerable help from neighbouring Ethiopia.

"So, what does the world's media make of the latest change of government in Mogadishu?" Ms. Brenjo asked.

To find out, please see "Resounding boo for Ethiopia's invasion.

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January 3, 2007

The Escalating Attacks in Darfur Driving Out Aid Workers

Eric Reeves, "a professor at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts," and an expert on Sudan, says in a January 3, 2007, article in the Sudan Tribune that,

Recent large-scale evacuations of humanitarian personnel from Darfur, coming in the wake of an escalating series of violent attacks, are part of a pattern that may culminate in an almost complete collapse of aid operations during the coming year.
To read Reeves' alarming report, please see "Darfur and the International Abandonment of a "responsibility to protect."
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Will Africa Get A Permanent Seat On The U.N. Security Council?

Mustapha Shehu Bauchi,  a correspondent with This Day in Lagos, Nigeria, reported January 3, 2006, that, "As the debate on which countries would represent Africa on the United Nations Security Council rages on," Ambassador Jibrin Dada Chinade, "a former Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on International Relations," has "called on African countries, through the auspices of the African Union AU, to put their acts together and come up with two countries to represent Africa on the Security Council."

It will be a miracle if that happens.

To read more, please see "Why Africa May Not Get UN Permanent Seat - Chinade."

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Ethiopia: We'll Only Stay In Somalia For A Few Weeks

"Ethiopia said on Tuesday [January 2, 2006] its troops will stay for another few weeks in Somalia to help the government pacify the Horn of Africa nation, but the Islamists they ousted in a brief war vowed to "rise from the ashes," according to Reuters.

Don't be surprised if a few weeks turn into months or years. To read more, see "Somali Islamists vow to "rise from the ashes.'"

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January 1, 2007

A New Year Greeting To Diplomatic Times Review Readers

Greetings to Diplomatic Times Reviews readers around the world on this first day of January 2007. It may be the second day for some of you. Nevertheless, I wish you a prosperous and productive year.

While I don't make resolutions, I do make plans. One of my goals for the year is to post more at The Diplomatic Times Review and offer more analysis. I also intend do occasional Q & A interviews. Thanks for all your support during 2006.

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