Thursday, May 31, 2007

What I've learned

by Tony Blair, from The Economist:

There is nothing more ridiculous than the attempt to portray “democracy” or “freedom” as somehow “Western” concepts which, mistakenly, we try to apply to nations or peoples to whom they are alien. There may well be governments to whom they are alien.* But not peoples. Whoever voted to get rid of democracy? Or preferred secret police to freedom of speech? These values are universal. We should attack the ideology of the extremists with confidence: their reactionary view of the state; their refusal to let people prosper in peace; their utterly regressive views on women. We should condemn not just their barbaric methods of terrorism, but in particular attack their presumed sense of grievance against the West. We need to support and help mobilise moderate and true Islam in doing so.

* Citizens of Saudi Arabia cannot change their government democratically. Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy. (from Freedom House)

Hold terror states responsible

From The Jerusalem Post

Global jihadist terrorism, accordingly, can and must be fought by governments against the terrorist groups directly, but must ultimately be understood as a weapon in the hands of states. Though confronting these states may not be sufficient to stop such terrorism, it is certainly futile to fight terrorism while allowing state sponsors to escape responsibility and punishment.

Saudi national arrested as Spy

From DEBKAfile

A double agent for Syrian military intelligence and al Qaeda, a Saudi national, was detained in Beirut Tuesday, May 29. A specialist in orchestrating terrorist operations, his mission was part of Damascus’ preparations to loose mayhem should the UN Security Council create the Hariri tribunal. Lebanese security forces arrested the Saudi at a five-star apartment hotel in the Ashrafiya district of Beirut ... Lebanese intelligence nailed the Saudi agent on a tip-off from a Western agency after listening in on his conversations.

al-Qaida escapee blasts Saudis

From Associated Press

An al-Qaida militant who escaped from a U.S. prison in Afghanistan turned up in an online video posted Wednesday, assailing the Saudi royal family for its alliance with the United States. The 45-minute video of Abu Yahia al-Libi, who broke out of the Bagram Air Base prison north of Kabul in 2005, was monitored by the IntelCenter, a U.S. government contractor that watches for al-Qaida messaging. According to its transcript, al-Libi's diatribe accuses Saudi royals of seeking the White House's "praise" and "gratitude"

First Formal US-Iran Talks since 1980

From Juan Cole at Informed Comment

Do the United States and Iran have things to talk about? Yes. They have several common interests, which could be stressed and developed fruitfully ... Shiite Iran is a deadly enemy of the Iraqi Baath Party and of the radical Salafi Jihadis who are responsible for most of the violence in Iraq and for most of the killings of US troops. There are ways in which the US and Iran could cooperate in defeating these forces, which are inimical to both Washington and Tehran.

Rising to a New Generation of Global Challenges

From Mitt Romney at Foreign Affairs

If elected, one of my first acts as president would be to call for a summit of nations to ... create a worldwide strategy to support moderate Muslims in their effort to defeat radical and violent Islam. I envision that the summit would lead to the creation of a Partnership for Prosperity and Progress: a coalition of states that would assemble resources from developed nations and use them to support public schools (not Wahhabi madrasahs), microcredit and banking, the rule of law, human rights, basic health care, and free-market policies in modernizing Islamic states. These resources would be drawn from public and private institutions and from volunteers and nongovernmental organizations.

Saudi detainee killed self at Gitmo, military says

From CNN

A Saudi Arabian detainee at the U.S. detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, died Wednesday of an apparent suicide, the military said in a statement ... In June, three Guantanamo Bay detainees committed suicide by hanging themselves with clothes and bedsheets. The three, two of them Saudi Arabian and one Yemeni, left behind notes written in Arabic, the military said.