Friday, August 31, 2007

Where Bush went wrong, by Sharansky

by Gil Hoffman from The Jerusalem Times

Former minister Natan Sharansky, whose book, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror has inspired US President George W. Bush, gives Bush a "C" grade for implementing his vision ... when the Iraq war became more complicated, the US State Department insisted on supporting loyal secular dictators such as Mubarak. "America was afraid that if they would fight corrupt dictators, the Muslim Brotherhood would come to power in the Middle East. When America starts speaking powerfully, democratic dissidents are strengthened. But when America makes dictators allies, the dissidents are weakened and Islamic fundamentalism is strengthened. That's why America should not support Mubarak or Saudi Arabia," the former Soviet dissident said. On the Saudi issue, Sharansky asked Rice what was moderate about the Saudi regime, she admitted that he had touched a weak point and from then on, she referred instead to 'responsible Middle Eastern countries.' But Sharansky said, "America has wanted for many years to make Saudi Arabia part of the solution in the Middle East, but if you believe in a link between security and democracy, it's not possible."

30 new schools to be built in Ghazni province

from The PakTribune

Officials said 30 new schools would be constructed in the restive Ghazni province by the end of the current year. Education Director Najibullah Kamran told Pajhwok Afghan News the schools would be built by the Education Ministry under the EQUIP Programme. The construction of 20 schools will be financed by the World Bank and the remaining 10 by the government of Saudi Arabia. Najibullah said the money would be spent by the education department.

The colonial mistake

by Ayman El-Amir from The Al-Ahram Weekly

When the former US president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had his historical meeting with Saudi Arabia's King Abdul- Aziz Ibn Saud aboard the SS Quincy in the Great Bitter Lake of the Suez Canal in 1945, one of his requests to cement US-Saudi partnership was for the king to use his influence to facilitate the settlement of Jews in Palestine. The king's answer was, "Give the Jews and their descendants the choicest lands and homes of the Germans who had oppressed them." He refused to cooperate. Jihad was part of the doctrine of early Islam but Muslims were enjoined by the Quran to use it only to repel aggression or a threat of it, never to convert non-Muslims or colonise other countries ... Maverick fundamentalist concepts are rife among many Muslim groups today and they entail many acts of unjustified, un-Islamic violence. But many would agree that it originated in Afghanistan through the manipulation of Muslim religious instincts as a potent weapon for political purposes -- to drive the Soviet Union out of that illegally occupied country in the interests of the US ... What political Zionism and the colonial West have yet to grasp is that the nationalist struggle has gained indomitable momentum when it was injected with fundamentalist religious fervour. Whether it is battled as religious fundamentalism or terrorism, the end is certainly not in sight yet.

The Never-ending Story

by Mshari Al-Zaydi from Al-Awsat

Waziristan region remains to be a subject of controversy and confusion between Washington and Islamabad, and between General Musharraf and the Bush administration, as well as between some politicians in Washington including congressmen and senators. Matters escalated when Democratic candidate Barak Obama said that he would cut aid to Pakistan and send American units to destroy terrorist bases and havens. However, Musharraf enjoys Bush’s trust who considers him to be one of the most powerful presidents of the developing world. But some observers believe that Musharraf does not necessarily abide by Washington’s agenda and its demands. It’s true that fundamentalists are the enemies of Musharraf and his regime, evidence of which is the repeated assassination attempts on his life by al Qaeda in Pakistan. But the Pakistani army or the military institution has its own considerations regarding the neighboring India, which is its strategic enemy. According to a lengthy report in ‘Newsweek’ magazine, Pakistan does not want to risk losing its military option and the ally which it has created, namely, the Taliban, for a system that it does not fully trust in Kabul. Perhaps the obliteration of the Taliban would pave the way for a regime in Kabul that is hostile towards Islamabad.

Truth and Consequences

by David A. Harris from The Jewish Journall

Whether Democratic or Republican, United States leaders have reached the same conclusion: Turkey is of vital importance to U.S. geo-strategic interests, straddling as it does two continents, Europe and Asia, bordering key countries - from the former Soviet Union to Iran, Iraq and Syria - and serving as the southeastern flank of NATO. Each administration has essentially punted when asked about the Armenian question, seeking to discourage Congress from recognizing the events of 1915 as genocide, while arguing that a third-party parliamentary body isn't the right venue to settle a heated historical dispute ... In his 1993 book titled, Holocaust Denial, author Kenneth Stern noted: "That the Armenian genocide is now considered a topic for debate or as something to be discounted as old history does not bode well for those who would oppose Holocaust denial." He was right. Picture a day when a muscle-flexing Iran or Saudi Arabia seeks to make denial of the Holocaust a condition of doing business with other countries. Sound far-fetched? It shouldn't.

Blogger rejects call to compensate ex-detainees

by Habib Toumi from The Gulf News

Last week, Islamist MP Mohammad Khalid, representing Al Menbar (the offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood), said that he would lobby the parliament to put pressure on the government to offer 50,000 Bahraini dinars ($133,000 US) the former Guantanamo detainees financial compensation. He said that the Bahraini government should emulate the Saudi example. Saudi Arabia has pledged 10,000 Saudi riyals, a 300 riyal salary, a car and marriage assistance to its former detainees. But bloggers on Mahmoud Al Yousuf's blog said that Khalid who headed the popular committee to help free the prisoners should temper his enthusiasm. For the blogger, an adoption by the parliament of Khalid's suggestion "is as if they accept and even condone terrorism. It is tantamount to announcing to the world that terrorism pays."