Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Kenyan Citizens To Be Subjected To Sharia?

International Christian Concern (US: Washington DC)

The Washington-DC based human rights group, International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the front runner in the upcoming election in Kenya, Mr. Raila Odinga, has promised to deliver Sharia to Kenyan Muslims as a quid pro quo if the Muslim vote is delivered to his camp and he is elected President ... ICC has learned that there are actually two versions of the MOU and the version released to the public is very different from the actual, privately signed version that ICC has obtained. The secret version of the MOU promises that upon winning the election, Odinga will “within 6 months, re-write the Constitution of Kenya to recognize Shariah as the only true law sanctioned by the Holy Quran for Muslim declared regions.” ... ICC’s regional manager for Africa, Darara Gubo, said “This agreement made with Muslim leaders undermines the secular nature of Kenya and opens a Pandora’s box of chaos and conflict similar to what happened in Nigeria and Sudan.” He further noted that “this is not a stand-alone incident; rather, it is part of strategy to Islamize Eastern Africa and the Horn of Africa, through the introduction of Sharia law.”

Interview: Somali insurgency to intensify - Islamist leader

Katie Nguyen, Reuters (UK)

In his first comments to Reuters since going into hiding a year ago, Muktar Ali Robow said al-Shabab (the military wing of Somalia's Islamist movement) had killed nearly 500 Ethiopian soldiers and would fight until foreign troops left the Horn of Africa country. "We are now planning to launch the most enormous attacks on the government and Ethiopian main positions. We will allow no foreign forces in our land. In the past days the infidel troops of Ethiopians along with their puppets and al-Shawab al-Mujahideen have fought heavily in Mogadishu. We have raided the enemies' military bases showering them with mortar shells," he said, referring to his "Movement of Young Mujahideen" faction ... Also known as "Abu Mansoor", Robow was the Islamic Courts' deputy defence secretary before the movement that ruled Mogadishu and most of south Somalia for six months was ousted by allied Somali-Ethiopian forces in the New Year. His al-Shabab has since spearheaded an Iraq-style insurgency, waging near-daily roadside bombings, grenade attacks and shootings against government and Ethiopian positions ... The Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) had run widely despised warlords, who enjoyed U.S. backing, out of Mogadishu in June 2006 with decisive victories.

Negotiations start for French reporter in Somalia

Abdiqani Hassan, B Hull, G Obulutsa, A Yusuf, K Weir, Reuters (UK)

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemned the kidnapping of Gwen Le Gouil in Somalia's northern Puntland region on Sunday, saying it underscored the precarious nature of journalism there. Deputy Bari region governor Yusuf Mumin Bidde told reporters that the Puntland administration would not allow the kidnappers to extort a ransom. Somali kidnappers are known to treat their captives well and almost never kill them, viewing them as an investment on which they expect a return in the form of ransom ... A colleague of Le Gouil's in Nairobi from their small TV company Cargocult Production, Jean Laurent confirmed Le Gouil was in Somalia working on a piece for the Franco-German TV network Arte Television. NUSOJ said the story was about human trafficking of African migrants to Saudi Arabia through Yemen. Omar Faruk Osman, NUSOJ secretary general, said that the kidnappers fired at Puntland troops who tried to secure Le Gouil's release on Sunday night. Known for its relative stability in a country plagued by lawlessness, semi-autonomous Puntland has become increasingly associated with kidnappings, hijackings and piracy.

U.S. weighs plan to help Egypt block arms smuggling to Gaza

Barak Ravid, Haaretz (Israel)

Egyptian defense sources told Agence France-Presse on Sunday that they had uncovered two weapons-smuggling tunnels that had apparently been used in the past, but did not find any weapons in them. The report said that Egyptian forces are destroying the tunnels, but did not mention any arrests having been made. On a related issue, Israel lodged a protest with the U.S. last week, over what it termed Egyptian and Saudi aid to Hamas in allowing Palestinian pilgrims to leave Gaza to participate in the hajj to Mecca. Senior Foreign Ministry officials met with one of Rice's deputies, David Welch, and told him that Israel does not understand why the Egyptians enabled the pilgrims to leave, which helped Hamas and weakened PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Terror study honoured

Mohammed Al a'Ali, Gulf Daily News (Bahrain)

A Bahraini woman is gaining global recognition for her research on the recruitment of Al Qaeda militants in Saudi Arabia. Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Manama branch co-ordinator Hadyah Fathalla has already given lectures to Australian federal police on the topic and has more invitations lined up. She travelled to Riyadh to interview Al Qaeda sympathisers on whom she based her research. The research is due to be published soon and Ms Fathalla said she could not discuss the contents of her report until then. She told the GDN that she selected Saudi Arabia as a study case for her war studies programme. "When I went to do my research, I thought like others that it was just few people who sympathised with Al Qaeda," she said. "But I discovered it was more than just that, and there is more to the story ... The lectures I have given to the police in Australia are encouraging and show there are people out there who are interested in what I am offering." Ms Fathalla was formerly the assistant head of political affairs at the US Embassy in Bahrain.

Frustrated Saudi youth take a shine to YouTube

Ibtihal Hassan, Paul Casciato, Reuters (UK)

Much of the material involves cars, an obsession among affluent youth who cannot go to cinemas, mix with unrelated women or even enter some shopping malls because of Islamic prohibitions by the authorities and religious scholars ... Saudi journalist Susan Al-Zawawi even found herself on YouTube after she took part in a Dutch documentary program on Saudi women. "I wanted to show how normal Saudis live, in a simple house with no house maids," she says. The clip showing the inside of her home proved popular, receiving 158,000 hits and 640 comments ... "Today, young net users want to bypass the traditional media. Like any young generation around the world, they are looking for a wider audience, so they turn to YouTube and other file sharing sites," said journalist Khalid Batarfi. YouTube is also proving to be an outlet for political material. Footage of a prison officer beating prisoners appeared on Web sites this year, prompting condemnation from New York-based Human Rights Watch. Saudi dissidents writing on satirical, opposition sites such as Arab Times often refer to footage of public figures posted on YouTube.

US-Saudi Relations: Never More Important

Patrick Ryan, Saudi-US Relations Information Service (US: Tennessee)

Ambassador Mark Johnson (ret.): There is another segment of the society that we did not see, had no contact with and, at least for me, I am less well aware of it. It is the traditional conservative religious elements of the Kingdom. They are said to be powerful and I believe that to be true. We’ve been told that the King has to keep a kind of synchronized distance just far enough ahead of the people -- not too far ahead certainly not behind. When you ask me to talk about the rape case, I think the American response has actually been beneficial. I think the Saudis might deny that, but President Bush’s comments along the lines of “What if it was my daughter?” puts it in a value system that the Saudis respect -- the family ... Frankly, I don’t think it is unhelpful to have that kind of reaction the President gave. I think that can ultimately be beneficial even though countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt with their human rights problems would ever admit it. Nevertheless it gives the reformers some hope that we are paying attention and this is of concern. That said, there remains this group in Saudi society and outside observers who are a whole lot smarter than I, and who have called it the “Impenetrable Kingdom.” You know, I am beginning to realize why they say that.

Why Rudy?

David Frum, National Review Online (US: New York)

If a president is to be an effective leader against terrorism, he (or she) must do more than express that hostility Ramesh talks about.

  1. He (or she) must decide that fighting terrorism really is his or her top foreign-policy priority - even when it conflicts with other things the government wants to do.

  2. He (or she) must appoint (and support) people who will enforce that decision on the bureaucracy.

  3. He (or she) must institute mechanisms to ascertain and confirm that the bureaucracy is following his decision.

  4. He (or she) must hold government accountable when it fails to follow.

Sounds easy, right? But incredibly difficult to do. The internal bureaucratic obstacles to effective war-fighting are severe, and they have repeatedly defeated President Bush. There are bureaucracies that will say, yes we must fight terror - but of course we must also support and sustain our allies in Saudi Arabia. There are secret bureaucracies that insist that unless you follow exactly our advice, we will leak against you and inflict horrible political damage. There are bureaucracies that will say, right behind you Mr. President, but of course we must also consider important oil leasing contracts. And there are bureaucracies that say, certainly, certainly - but we must engage the states that support terror, not confront them. It will take more than declared "hostility" to terror to manage such bureaucracies effectively. It will take skill and cunning in the management of refractory government agencies.