Monthly Archives: January 2011

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America had no role in this uprising, and our diplomats had been appalled at the corruption. Yet Ben Ali was an ally in the war on terror, and what happened in Tunisia could trigger a series of devastating blows to the U.S. position in the Middle East.

Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown, especially today in the Maghreb and Middle East.

For the ouster of Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has sent shock waves from Rabat to Riyadh. Autocrats, emirs and kings have to be asking themselves: If rioters can bring down Ben Ali with his ruthless security forces, what prevents this from happening here?

Millions of militant Muslim young who have never shared in the wealth produced by the oil and gas must be asking: If Tunisians can take down a detested regime, why cannot we?

America had no role in this uprising, and our diplomats had been appalled at the corruption. Yet Ben Ali was an ally in the war on terror, and what happened in Tunisia could trigger a series of devastating blows to the U.S. position in the Middle East.

For when autocrats fall, it is not always democracy that rises. And in the Middle East, democracy is not necessarily America’s ally.

The fall of King Farouk in 1952 led to Col. Nasser in Egypt. The ouster and murder of King Faisal in Iraq in 1958 led to Saddam. The fall of King Idris in Libya in 1969 led to Gadhafi. The fall of Emperor Haile Selassie in Ethiopia in 1974 led to the rise of the murderous Col. Mengistu. And the fall of the shah of Iran in 1979 led to the Ayatollah Khomeini.

Often the old saw applies: “Better the devil we know …”

And should a new wave of revolts sweep the region, we might see the final collapse of the neoconservative foreign policy of George W. Bush.

That Mideast policy rested on several pillars: uncritical support of Israel, invasions to oust enemies in Afghanistan and Iraq, and U.S. occupations to rebuild and convert these nations into democracies.

Well before he left office, these policies had made the region so anti-American that Bush was himself, in opinion surveys, viewed less favorably by the Muslim masses than Osama bin Laden.

And when Bush, having declared at his 2005 inaugural that his goal was now to “end tyranny in our world,” called for elections in the Middle East, he got the results his policies had produced.

In Palestine, Hamas swept to power. In Lebanon, Hezbollah made such gains it was brought into the Lebanese government it has just brought down. When Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak allowed some electoral districts to be contested, the Muslim Brotherhood won most of them.

In Iran in 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected and became an instant favorite of the Arab masses because of his hostility toward Israel. The trend continued in the Iraqi elections of 2010, which enhanced the prestige and power of the anti-American Muqtada al-Sadr.

The message from the Mideast has been consistent and clear: When elections are held, or monarchs and autocrats overthrown, the masses will turn to leaders who will pull away from America and stand in solidarity with the Palestinians.

Turkey is a case in point. Before he invaded Iraq, Bush asked Ankara for permission to attack from its territory in the north, as well as Kuwait in the south. The Parliament of this NATO ally of 50 years refused permission.

Since then, Turkey has been moving away from America, away from Israel, and closer to the Islamic peoples of a region Ottoman Turks ruled for centuries.

George H.W. Bush abjured “the vision thing.” But George W. had a road-to-Damascus experience during 9/11. He became a true believer that the security of his country and the peace of the world depended on a global conversion to democracy. And he would do the converting.

This is the ideology of democratism. Bush’s zealotry in pursuing his new faith blinded him to the reality that whatever their failings, the kings of Morocco, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Mubarak are more reliable friends than any regime that might come out of one-man, one-vote elections.

Why, other than ideology, would a leader demand that a friendly regime hold elections if it were a near certainty the regime to come out of those elections would be more hostile to one’s own country?

Dwight Eisenhower preferred the shah to Mohammad Mossadegh, though the latter had been elected. Ike backed the coup. Richard Nixon preferred Gen. Augusto Pinochet to Chile’s pro-Castro President Salvador Allende, who was elected. The general was with us.

Yet this raises anew the question: Why do they hate us?

In the 19th century, European monarchs disliked our republic, but their people loved us. Through World War II and much of the Cold War, the peoples of the Middle East saw America as the champion of liberation from imperial rule. We were first to throw the British out.

Perhaps we have lost the people of the Middle East, while winning the allegiance of their autocratic rulers, because we, too, have become an empire – and no longer see ourselves as others see us.

Read more: Bush’s democratism comes home to roost http://www.wnd.com/index.php?pageId=252377#ixzz1CcsXgWIK

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"For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know … what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind. … But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. …

The day President Obama departed for Arizona to address the nation on the Tucson massacre, Washington was abuzz.

Would he take the line of the hard Left and call out the Right for having created what columnist Paul Krugman called the “Climate of Hate” in which a mentally deranged Jared Lee Loughner had acted?

Would he lay moral responsibility for the slaughter at the feet of Fox News and Sarah Palin, as the wilder voices of the Left have been doing nonstop since Saturday’s shocking news?

Obama did the opposite, admonishing his allies as well as critics, “at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do, it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

Again and again, he returned to the theme. “Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.

Get Pat Buchanan’s classic, “The Death of the West,” autographed at low price

“For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know … what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind. … But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. …

“If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate … let’s make sure … it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness.” No “lack of civility … caused this tragedy.”

Obama thus cut the ground out from under those exploiting the massacre and attempted murder of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to smear and exact retribution for the crushing repudiation they suffered on Nov. 2.

In one of the finer speeches of his career, Obama realized that, at this hour and in this tragedy, his country yearned to come together on the higher ground of grief for the fallen, celebration of those who behaved bravely and prayerful hope for the wounded.

By rising above “politics and point-scoring and partisanship” in Tucson, the president has recaptured some of the luster he had lost since that January two years ago.

The speech in Tucson confirms what seemed a month ago to be a conscious decision by the president to effect a course correction in his presidency after the “shellacking” in November.

The decisive moment came when the Left was loudly demanding that he fight to the last ditch for repeal of the “Bush tax cuts for the rich,” even if it meant the lame-duck session of Congress ended in a dead-duck session.

Instead, recognizing Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Republicans not only had the votes but the will to block any action in the Senate before the GOP took over the House in January, Obama shoved aside Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and moved to cut a deal with the GOP.

The Republicans got the Bush tax cuts. But Obama got a Social Security payroll tax cut for every worker, an estate tax raised back to 35 percent and another full year of unemployment compensation.

Obama had entered negotiations with a weak hand. But he had emerged with so impressive a deal from his own party’s standpoint that Republican deficit hawks wanted their party to walk away from it, even if it meant all the Bush tax cuts expired on Jan. 1.

After cutting that deal and breaking the logjam, Obama got votes and victories on allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military and on providing billions for the first responders of Sept. 11. He came close to getting a limited amnesty for illegal aliens.


In short, by shouldering Pelosi and Reid aside and taking charge of negotiations with the Republicans himself, Obama not only won a string of victories, he proved bipartisan government could work.

Since then, he has been on a steady ascent in the polls. And, in his choice of new aides like Chicago’s William Daley, brother of the mayor and son of the legend, Obama has signaled that after an era of confrontation on Capitol Hill comes an era of negotiation.

What does this mean for Democrats?

The left wing of the party, for the immediate future, is going to be the “dummy” at the bridge table. Obama is going to play every hand. For this president has been jolted into an awareness that, today, if not in 2008, this is a center-right country, and he and his party have drifted dangerously far out of the mainstream. He is now paddling his own canoe back to the middle of the river, leaving the Left up the creek.

What does it mean for Republicans?

They will not be running in 2012 against a cookie-cutter liberal. For while Sen. Obama may have compiled a voting record to the left of Socialist Bernie Sanders’, this, recall, is a fellow who voted “present” over 100 times on controversial issues in the Illinois Senate.

This is no true believer. This is a survivor. This is a fellow with an almost Nixonian capacity for maneuver.

Read more: Is Obama leaving the Left behind? http://www.wnd.com/index.php?pageId=250725#ixzz1Ccrwz4dE

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"Thirty-one years after the victory of the Islamic Republic, we are faced with the obvious fact that these movements are the aftershocks of the Islamic Revolution," said Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami, as reported by Iran’s Radio Zamaneh. "The fate of those who challenge [our] religion is destruction."

As powder keg spreads across Mideast, clerics celebrate rise of Muslim power



An unidentified protester in Egypt stands before a fiery background (courtesy: Al-Jazeera)

TEL AVIV – Islamists, in particular the

anti-Western Muslim Brotherhood, seem poised to take

power throughout the Middle East as a result of riots

that have already toppled one Arab regime and are

threatening others, in what some are calling only the

latest wave of an Islamic “tsunami” sweeping the globe.

In Egypt, members of President Hosni Mubarak’s

family reportedly have fled the country as a flood of

violent, fatal street protests threatens the stability of this

most populous Arab nation, a longtime U.S. ally and the

only Muslim nation with a long-lasting peace agreement

with Israel.

The White House has been championing the

protests, calling for a transition to democratic rule in

Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood formed the main

opposition to Mubarak.


The Obama administration’s support for the unrest

is strikingly reminiscent of Jimmy Carter’s support of

the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, which marked

the birth of modern Islamist expansion now seemingly

sweeping the Mideast.

In fact, some Muslim clerics are already calling the

riots in Egypt simply an extension of 1979’s Islamist

conquests.

“Thirty-one years after the victory of the Islamic Republic,

we are faced with the obvious fact that these

movements are the aftershocks of the Islamic

Revolution,” said Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad

Khatami, as reported by Iran’s Radio Zamaneh. “The

fate of those who challenge [our] religion is destruction.”

Speaking of media and government leaders,

Khatami added, “They want to highlight the labor, liberal

and democratic issues, but the most important issue,

which is the religious streak of these protests, [is] being

denied.”

The leader of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood,

Hammam Saeed, warned that the unrest in Egypt will

spread across the Mideast until Arabs succeed at

toppling leaders allied with the United States.

“The Americans and Obama must be losing sleep

over the popular revolt in Egypt,” Saeed said at a

sympathy protest held outside the Egyptian Embassy in

Amman. “Now, Obama must understand that the

people have woken up and are ready to unseat the

tyrant leaders who remained in power because of U.S.

backing.”

And on the Internet, the Middle East Media

Research Institute reports, prominent Salafi cleric Abu

Mundhir Al-Shinqiti issued a fatwa in the website

Minbar Al-Tawhid Wal Jihad encouraging the protests

in Egypt, claiming Islamist jihadis are now on the verge

of a historic moment in the history of the Islamic nation,

an “earthquake” he likened to the Sept. 11 attacks in

New York City.

As the clerics are accurately noting, Egypt is only

one of many recent cases where Islamic unrest has

surged in the Middle East and North Africa.

In Tunisia, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was

toppled following rioting and street protests and

widespread looting.

In Yemen, last week witnessed the largest protests

in years against Yemen’s leader, Ali Abullah Saleh, who

is considered a crucial ally in the U.S. fight against

al-Qaida in his country and in the Middle East. The

protests further escalated yesterday.

Banners wielded by protesters in Yemen demanded

the country’s president abandon changes to the

constitution that would grant Saleh another 10 years in

power.

Algeria, Jordan and Morocco are taking note,

fearing similar outbreaks.

In Pakistan, even the “peace-promoting,” so-called

“moderate” Islamic Barelvi sect is organizing rallies

demanding the release of a policeman who confessed to

the assassination of Punjab governor Slaman Taseer, a

liberal politician who criticized federal blasphemy laws.

In Lebanon, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia

seems to be hijacking the country’s government using

legal means.

Earlier this month, Hezbollah used its veto power to

topple the government of the Western-oriented prime

minister, Saad Hariri. Hezbollah feared Hariri would use

security forces to arrest members of its militia following

indictments expected to be issued in the near future

against Hezbollah for the 2005 assassination of former

Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

Last week, the Hezbollah-backed candidate for

prime minister, Najib Mikat, seemed poised to form the

next government, sending Hariri into the opposition amid

the threat of sectarian clashes.

Hezbollah members reportedly deployed on the

streets of Beirut this week in a clear signal intended to

deter Hariri backers from rioting.

The news media largely have painted the revolts in

Yemen, Tunisia and Egypt as popular unrest, citing the

use of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter

to make the arrangements for the demonstrations.

White House championing

The White House itself has been almost openly

championing the unrest.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today called for

an “orderly transition” to democracy in Egypt, where the

Muslim Brotherhood is the main opposition group.

Obama himself reportedly voiced support for an

“orderly transition” in Egypt that is responsive to the

aspirations of Egyptians in phone calls with foreign

leaders, the White House said.

Deputy National Security Adviser Denis

McDonough, speaking in a White House webcast, also

urged the government and protesters in Egypt to refrain

from violence.

Egyptian officials speaking to WND, however,

warned the Muslim Brotherhood has the most to gain

from any political reform.

The Brotherhood seeks to spread Islam around the

world, in large part using nonviolent means. Hamas and

al-Qaida are violent Brotherhood offshoots.

An Egyptian security official noted the Muslim

Brotherhood was directly involved in protest

organization.

Similarly, it is Islamists allied with the Muslim

Brotherhood who stand to gain in Pakistan, Jordan,

Tunisia and Yemen. Already, the Shiite fundementalist

Hezbollah organization is poised to exert enormous

influence over Lebanon.

WND reported the

Egyptian government suspects elements of the current

uprising there, particularly political aspects, are being

coordinated with the U.S. State Department.

A senior Egyptian diplomat told WND the regime

of Mubarak suspects the U.S. has been aiding protest

planning by Mohamed ElBaradei, who is seen as one of

the main opposition leaders in Cairo.

ElBaradei, former International Atomic Energy

Agency chief, has reinvented himself as a campaigner

for “reform” in Egypt. He is a candidate for this year’s

scheduled presidential elections. ElBaradei arrived in

Cairo just after last week’s protests began and is

reportedly being confined to his home by Egyptian

security forces. He is seen as an ally of the Muslim

Brotherhood, the main opposition force in Egypt.

Last week, ElBaradei gave an interview to Der

Spiegel defending the Brotherhood.

“We should stop demonizing the Muslim

Brotherhood. … [They] have not committed any acts of

violence in five decades. They too want change. If we

want democracy and freedom, we have to include them

instead of marginalizing them,” he said.

Just today, the Muslim Brotherhood said it was in

talks with other anti-government figures, including

ElBaradai, to form a national unity government without

Mubarak.

David Rubin, former mayor of the Israeli town of

Shiloh and author of the book “The Islamic Tsunami,”

however, warns that the Obama administration cannot

continue to ignore the Muslim Brotherhood’s and other

Islamist groups’ greater goals.

“There is a plan to take over Western civilization,”

Rubin told The Washington Times, “and we need to

recognize it for what it is.”

“Confronting the growing threat to Western

civilization first involves admitting the problem exists,

something President Obama not only refuses to do but

strongly denies,” a Times editorial on Rubin continues.

“The administration has censored any discussion of the

problem in these terms within the government, preferring

to focus on ill-defined ‘violent extremism’ when the real

extremist threat is only partly violent and wholly

Islamicist.”

Muslim Brotherhood declares war on

U.S.

Multiple prominent U.S. commentators have also

been claiming the Muslim Brotherhood is a moderate

organization and denying any Islamist plot to seize

power.

On Friday, President George W. Bush’s former

press spokeswoman, Dana Perino, told Fox News,

“Don’t be afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

This has nothing to do with religion.”

Bruce Reidel, a former CIA analyst and advisor to

President Obama, penned a Daily Beast article in which

he claimed, “The Egyptian Brotherhood renounced

violence years ago. … Its relative moderation has made

it the target of extreme vilification by more radical

Islamists.”

Reidel’s assertion the Brotherhood renounced

violence, however, is contradicted by the Brotherhood’s

own statements in recent months, including a call to

arms against the West.

In November, the Brotherhood’s new supreme

guide, Muhammad Badi, delivered a sermon entitled,

“How Islam Confronts the Oppression and Tyranny.”

“Resistance is the only solution,” stated Badi. “The

United States cannot impose an agreement upon the

Palestinians, despite all the power at its disposal.

[Today] it is withdrawing from Iraq, defeated and

wounded, and is also on the verge of withdrawing from

Afghanistan because it has been defeated by Islamist

warriors.”

Badi went on to declare the U.S. is easy to defeat

through violence, since it is “experiencing the beginning

of its end and is heading toward its demise.”

Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in

International Affairs Center, noted Badi’s speech

evidenced “the likelihood that more Brotherhood

supporters in the West will turn to violence and

fund-raising for terrorism.”

Frank Gaffney, president of the American Center

for Security Policy, takes it a step further.

“In short, the Muslim Brotherhood – whether it is

operating in Egypt, elsewhere in the world or here – is

our enemy,” he wrote.


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As the leader of Jordan’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood, Hammam Saeed, warned over the weekend, the unrest in Egypt will spread across the Mideast and Arabs will topple leaders allied with the United States.

In case you didn’t notice, and few have, there is a global Islamist revolution under way.

The world’s press doesn’t see it.

The talking heads on cable TV don’t see it.

Washington doesn’t see it.

It’s a case of not noticing the forest for the trees.

With revolts going on in Egypt, Tunisia, Pakistan, Yemen, Lebanon and Jordan, most of them clearly orchestrated from Iran, it’s easy to believe these are unrelated, disconnected uprisings.

But if you have been observing the Muslim world like I have been for 35 years, what’s happening right now is as big a development – maybe bigger – than what happened in 1979 when backers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, with a push from Jimmy Carter, overthrew Iran’s Shah Mohamed Reza Pahlavi in one of the most tragic and unfortunate international developments of the late 20th century. We, in the West, have been paying the price for it ever since.

This is the work of the Muslim Brotherhood, with the aid and encouragement of Tehran. And the ripple effect of what we’re seeing is hard to overstate.

As the leader of Jordan’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood, Hammam Saeed, warned over the weekend, the unrest in Egypt will spread across the Mideast and Arabs will topple leaders allied with the United States.

I’ve done my part to alert the public to the insidious work of the Muslim Brotherhood, including right here in the U.S. But, again, most Americans don’t get it. They’ve been hoodwinked by the media and government school system into believing there is no active conspiracy for a worldwide caliphate, and certainly no threat to the U.S. from what the brotherhood refers to as the Muslim Mafia.
An amazing book by the same name, “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America,” was published more than a year ago by WND Books with the intention of exposing the secret international cabal working on behalf of Saudi-style Shariah law right here in America. Again, the book, a work of daring and courage and enterprise got a collective yawn from the politically correct establishment news media.

Now, as Rev. Jeremiah Wright would say, the chickens are coming home to roost.

Imagine if Egypt falls.

Hosni Mubarak is nothing but a dictator, it’s true. But he is a dictator who is holding the line on Islamic radicalism. If his regime goes, it will be replaced by something similar to what we see in Iran today – a government run by zealous mullahs hell-bent on bringing about a worldwide Islamic revolution.

Egypt is the largest and arguably most important Arab country in the Middle East. For decades now it has been at relative peace with its neighbor, Israel. How long will that last if Mubarak is replaced with a Muslim Brotherhood leader? Keep in mind it was the Muslim Brotherhood that assassinated Mubarak’s predecessor, Anwar Sadat, for making peace with Israel.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is still in the midst of a quagmire in Afghanistan, while still engaged in Iraq. It can ill afford an explosion of violence and revolution and instability through the Middle East and the Islamic world.

But that appears to be just what is coming.

The U.S. is also mired in deep recession. Try to imagine how that economic dislocation will be exacerbated by a disruption of the flow of Middle East oil, as happened in the 1970s.

Remember, the U.S. and Israel are the primary targets. Europe has already capitulated to Islam. Israel and the U.S. stand virtually alone, and the U.S. is in denial of the threat.

What you see happening around the Islamic world today is big. It’s dangerous. It’s explosive.

If you think America, which has arrogantly and ignorantly refused to develop its own energy sources, is somehow immune, you are in for a rude awakening.



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Protests have been building across the capital over the past few days, but the number of demonstrators today reached new highs. Revealingly, protestors have not only called for the removal of Mr Saleh, they have also demanded that there should be no “bequeathing” of the presidency—a direct reference to the widely-held belief that the president has been grooming his son, Ahmed, to take on the role as his successor. Mr Saleh, although painted at times as an uneducated strongman, has proven in the past to be an astute reader of popular opinion (he famously once compared running the country to “dancing on the head of snakes”), and has as such sought to answer his critics head on. Speaking at an army event on January 24th, the president tried to alleviate his opponents’ worries, stressing the republican character of the Yemeni political system, before adding that “we are against hereditary rule”. However, it appears that the president may be running out of time and options.

  FROM THE ECONOMIST INTELLIGENCE UNIT

 Pressure on the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in  power since 1978, is mounting. Emboldened by the events in Tunisia, mass  protests across the capital,  Sanaa, have seen demonstrators demanding the  president’s removal. It now appears that Yemen’s fragile and besieged  regime may be on its last legs.

 Protests against the regime, and, importantly, against Mr Saleh  personally, have been building over the past week. Although no doubt  influenced by the fall of Tunisia’s president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali,  the protests come on the back of widespread popular dissatisfaction at the  country’s economic backwardness, endemic and widespread corruption, and  the hording of power by the regime in the north. At the same time, the  forthcoming parliamentary election, scheduled for April 27th but already  delayed by two years, has galvanised the opposition.

 The Joint Meeting Parties opposition coalition has said that it will  boycott the poll, and has hit the streets in protest at the perceived bias  of the electoral regulatory body, and the regime’s failure to progress a  host of constitutional reforms promised in the past. Adding to its rage,  the ruling General People’s Congress (GPC) party has also sought to amend  the constitution to allow the president to rule for life (Mr Saleh is at  least theoretically in his final term, with the next presidential election  scheduled for 2013). However, what has been particularly remarkable over  the past few days is how the nature of the protests has changed—initially  largely an unfocused expression of displeasure at the myriad failings of  the state and the oppressive political order, protestors have since united  around one demand: namely, that the president stand down.

 Saleh in their sights

 Protests have been building across the capital over the past few days, but  the number of demonstrators today reached new highs. Revealingly,  protestors have not only called for the removal of Mr Saleh, they have  also demanded that there should be no “bequeathing” of the presidency—a  direct reference to the widely-held belief that the president has been  grooming his son, Ahmed, to take on the role as his successor. Mr Saleh,  although painted at times as an uneducated strongman, has proven in the  past to be an astute reader of popular opinion (he famously once compared  running the country to “dancing on the head of snakes”), and has as such  sought to answer his critics head on. Speaking at an army event on January  24th, the president tried to alleviate his opponents’ worries, stressing  the republican character of the Yemeni political system, before adding  that “we are against hereditary rule”. However, it appears that the  president may be running out of time and options.

 In the past the president has been able to rely on a complex, and often  improvised, web of patronage and privilege to buy off his opponents, be  they in the political sphere or among Yemen’s powerful tribes. To do this  he has relied on oil revenue from the country’s modest oil reserves, but,  with oil (and water) reserves dwindling, and the needs of Yemen’s rapidly  expanding population growing, his ability to effectively buy off his  opponents has become seriously circumscribed.

 At the same time, despite increased donor aid from the Gulf countries (in  particular Saudi Arabia) and the West, the state finances have been  further drained by a host of serious security challenges, any one of  which, if not checked, could spell disaster for the regime. As well as an  on-off war by a Zaydi Shia group, known as the “Houthis”, in the north  (which at one point reached the outskirts of the capital), a southern  secessionist movement has also grown in influence. Although espousing  peaceful methods, elements connected to the Southern Movement have  seemingly been responsible for a number of attacks on military checkpoints  across the south over the past year. When the growing presence of al-Qaida  in the Arabian Peninsula (comprising the Yemeni and Saudi arms of the  group) is added to the mix, it is extraordinary that the president has  managed to remain in power, and avoided the fragmentation of the country,  for this long.

 Saudi helping hand?

 Although a counter-demonstration in support of Mr Saleh took place at the  same time as the anti-regime protests, Mr Saleh’s allies are few and  dwindling. His main tribal ally, Abdullah Bin Hussein al-Ahmar, died in  December 2007, and a key military ally, Tariq al-Fadhli (who played a  prominent role in suppressing southern forces during the 1994 civil war),  defected to the southern movement in 2009. Equally, the loyalty of the  military cannot be taken for granted—rumours have circulated for some time  that several leading generals have become disaffected (following the  dismissal of a number of their colleagues in 2009), and it was notable  that in January the president promised a significant wage increase for  military personnel. Arguably, the best hope for Mr Saleh may come from  outside: if Saudi Arabia, which had in the past been extremely hostile to  the regime of Mr Saleh but has revised its view of late, provides the  regime with a major financial lifeline, the president may yet still be  able to revive his patronage networks.

 After Saleh

 However, at present the odds against the continuance of the president’s  rule appear to be lengthening, yet the consequences of regime change are  at this stage hugely uncertain. At present, a post-Saleh Yemen can largely  be viewed according to three scenarios.

 In the first, and most benign scenario, a constitutional quorum would be  set up, comprising the key parties in parliament, including elements from within the GPC (which may split), and some extra-parliamentary forces (including representatives of the Houthi and southern secessionist movements). A more parliamentary-oriented system would be inaugurated,  with a parliamentary and presidential election occurring in the second half of 2011. Under such a scenario, a more decentralised, federalist political structure would be introduced, sufficient to allay the secessionist leanings across the south.

 However, given Yemen’s previous top-down polity, there is arguably a greater risk that the toppling of Mr Saleh would paralyse government, and, in the absence of a single individual able to draw together the country’s disparate powerbrokers, a free-for-all ensues as the various tribes and sheikhs battle for control. More seriously still, there is potential for at least parts of Yemen to come under the sway of al-Qaida. Under such a scenario, it is difficult to see how the armed forces would cope, and, without the sudden emergence of a capable leader or foreign intervention, it is possible that they would split along regional and tribal lines, threatening the unity of the country itself.

 Finally, and in a corollary to the second scenario, there is the military coup scenario, under which a number of generals, citing the general disorder, are able to co-opt several political and tribal leaders to support a “temporary” military interregnum. However, such an outcome could well see a repeat of the period of military rule that lasted from 1974-78. During that period (until Mr Saleh took power), successive presidents were either removed or assassinated, as no one leader was able to balance the authority of the state and the whims of the tribes. Under such a scenario, it is probable that the south would drift away, as the struggle for power in Sanaa consumes the military’s energies. Under all these scenarios the  role of Saudi Arabia, which plays a key financial role in tribal politics in Yemen, will be key.

 Whatever the outcome, Yemen joins Egypt, Algeria, Libya and a host of other Middle Eastern states on the speculative “dominoes” list, drawn up by observers of the region in the wake of Tunisia’s surprise revolution. Aware of the growing pressure on his shoulders, speaking on January 24th, Mr Saleh defiantly declared that “Yemen is not Tunisia”. In this he is  certainly correct, but Mr Saleh and his erstwhile peer in Tunisia may well end up sharing the same fate.


 Robert Powell

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10-count indictment for source of book chapter that focused on CIA’s efforts to disrupt Iran nuclear research.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author refused to reveal his sources



WASHINGTON – A former CIA officer was arrested Thursday on charges of leaking classified intelligence about another country’s covert weapons program to a reporter, the Justice Department said.

Jeffrey Alexander Sterling, 43, was arrested in St. Louis, Missouri on a 10-count indictment which includes charges of revealing national defense information and mail fraud.

Sterling is alleged to have stolen classified documents, and first made his disclosures in early 2003 in connection with a “possible newspaper story” and subsequently for a book published by the same reporter in January 2006, the department said in a statement.

Although the Justice Department did not name the country or the “national newspaper” reporter by name, the dates and the details of the case suggested it may be related to James Risen, a reporter for The New York Times.

Risen was subpoenaed in April and asked to appear before a grand jury in May to reveal his sources for a chapter in the book that focused on the CIA’s efforts to disrupt alleged Iranian nuclear weapons research.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration,” refused to comply.

The Justice Department said Sterling’s alleged actions may have been in retaliation for the CIA refusing to settle a claim of racial discrimination that he had brought against the agency.

The indictment alleges that in February and March 2003, Sterling telephoned the author’s home and emailed him a newspaper article about the weapons capabilities of the country, identified only as “Country A” by the department.

The two men remained in touch, and then the “indictment alleges that in January 2006, the author published a book which contained classified information about the program and the human asset,” the statement said.

Sterling, who is also a lawyer, also allegedly obstructed justice by deleting an email he had sent the book’s author about the country’s weapons capabilities, the indictment said.

He faces up to 10 years in prison for the unauthorized disclosure and retention of national defense information charges, another 20 years for mail fraud, 10 years for unauthorized conveyance of government property and 20 years for obstruction of justice.

Each charge also carries a maximum fine of 250,000 dollars or twice the associated loss or gain.

“The indictment unsealed today alleges that Jeffrey Sterling violated his oath to protect classified information and then obstructed an investigation into his actions,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said in a statement.

“Through his alleged actions, Sterling placed at risk our national security and the life of an individual working on a classified mission.”

0 8

Obama almost complete silence on US foreign policy disappointed many people, particularly those in Europe the Muslim world who expected him to be a bridge builder and peace makers, says Louay Safi.

Has Barak Obama concluded that the state of world is no more relevant to the State of the Union? This question came to my mind as I listened on Tuesday to President Obama concluding his State of the Union remarks without making one reference to the Middle East agenda he spelled out in his Cairo speech in 2009.

Obama came to office with a robust foreign policy agenda centered on reengaging Europe and the Middle East, and rectifying the mistakes of the previous Bush administration. On the top of his agenda was the improvement of the strained relations with Muslim-majority countries. As a pragmatist, and evidently a real-politics student, he ignored the democracy promotion agenda of his predecessor, and refocused US international policy on resuscitating the Middle East peace process.

Obamas who came to office on the winds of hopeful and forward looking vision soon suffered a series of disappointments that illustrated to him the enormity of the task he set himself to achieve. The rebuff of his approach to stimulate world economy through more spending, the serious setbacks in Afghanistan and the lack of clear and manageable policy objectives, and the inability of his administration to move forward on the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

Despite the decidedly optimistic tone of his State of the Union message, Obama offered no new directions to justify this optimism. His proposal of reduced deficit by 400 billion dollars does not go far enough to address the staggering national debt that doubled in the last 10 years (from 7 to 14 trillions) and is now comparable to the total annual economic output of the United States.

Obama almost complete silence on US foreign policy disappointed many people, particularly those in Europe the Muslim world who expected him to be a bridge builder and peace makers. The high expectations of him were so exalted that he was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on the basis of his rhetoric and stated vision. Obama himself was surprised, even a bit embraced, at receiving a prestige award that is usually reserved to individuals with some substantial accomplishments in advancing peace.

Also absent of the State of the Union speech was an acknowledgement of the gap between the promise and the fulfillment. Such an acknowledgement, accompanied with remapping of his ideas and goals with fresh proposals, would have brought some understanding, and perhaps sympathy, by those who supported him and expected much of his presidency. It’s a general perception now by both his supporters and opponents that Obama’s actions fell far short of his rhetoric, as his pragmatic side proved to be more resilient than his visionary one. While many people in the United States had no illusion that he could not do all the earthshaking ideas he promised in his campaign, his well-wishers were quite surprised to see how easily has he caved in to right wingers and given up crucial elements of domestic and international agenda.

As to his Middle East initiatives and his promise to advance the Middle East peace, it is safe to say that his presidency has been so far very disappointing. He lost a great deal of credibility with the people of the Middle East, given the extent to which he heightened the expectations, in a series of statements he made right after his election that culminated in the Cairo speech in June 2009, only to dash their hopes. It is therefore important for the Obama administration to stand firmly behind the popular movements currently struggle for democratic reform in the Middle East. Nurturing genuine democracy in the Arab world is the best guarantee against global terrorism, often fueled by the iron fist policies of Middle East dictators, and the best way to save the United States additional trillions of dollars pursuing an elusive enemy.

The Obama administration should take a firm stand with the forces of democracy in the Middle East and against the corrupt of dictators. By so doing, the United States does not only remain true to its values, but it will also invest in the refreshingly young future of the Middle East rather than its withering dictators.

Dr. Louay Safi  writes and lectures on issues relating to Islam and the West, democracy, human rights, leadership, and world peace.

0 3

"We support the universal rights of the Egyptian people, including the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly," the White House said in what would become a mantra over the following 48 hours. It also called on the government "to be responsive to the aspiration of the Egyptian people, and pursue political, economic and social reforms that can improve their lives and help Egypt prosper."


WASHINGTON, Jan 27, 2011 (IPS) – Suddenly faced with an
unprecedented number of challenges across the Arab world, the administration of
President Barack Obama is scrambling hard to keep up.


The fate of
President Hosni Mubarak, long regarded as Washington’s most powerful Arab ally,
no doubt gets top billing as the crisis of the moment, as Egypt girds for what
are expected to be massive anti-government demonstrations – bolstered for the
first time by the explicit support of the powerful but illegal Muslim
Brotherhood – in Cairo and other cities Friday.


Thursday’s return to
Cairo of Nobel Peace laureate and former International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) chief Mohammed al Baradei and his offer to head a transition government
to oversee free elections, as well as reports that the government has banned
access to the Internet, have also clearly raised the stakes for what may be a
defining moment.


“(I)f crowds emerge from Friday prayers and take to the
streets, the regime could be in real trouble,” warned Elliott Abrams, George W.
Bush’s top Mideast aide, on his blog Wednesday. “Friday will be a fateful day.”


But the fast-moving situation in Egypt comes as the administration is
struggling with other recent events and setbacks in the region that have added
to the impression that Pax Americana – as it as been applied to the Middle East
for most of the last 40 years – may be coming to an end.


Indeed, the
abrupt and largely unpredicted ouster of two U.S.- and Western-backed rulers in
the region – Tunisia’s longstanding president, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, and
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri – has confounded policy- makers here.


While the situation in Tunisia, where popular agitation against Ben
Ali’s successors has continued unabated, remains very much up in the air, the
Hezbollah-engineered collapse of Hariri’s government and the designation of a
Syrian- backed prime minister, Najib Miqati, appears to mark a significant
advance by what Washington regards as its primary adversaries – Iran and Syria –
in the region.


Meanwhile, the massive public release by al-Jazeera and
London’s Guardian newspaper of thousands of secret Palestinian documents
detailing how much the Western-backed leaders of the Palestine Authority (PA)
were willing to give up in peace negotiations with Israel over the past decade
and how little Washington was prepared to back them up in the face of Israeli
intransigence has dealt a serious – very possibly fatal – blow to the political
credibility of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, let alone any prospect for the early
resumption of direct talks between the two parties to which the administration
has devoted so much time and effort.


But all of these events, as well as
Tunisia-inspired anti- government protests in two other key U.S. regional
clients, Jordan and Yemen, were effectively eclipsed by the past week’s dramatic
events in Egypt, Washington’s most important Arab ally since Mubarak’s
predecessor, Anwar Sadat, signed the Camp David Peace Accords with Israel in
1979.


Since Camp David, Washington has provided Cairo with an average of
800 million dollars a year in economic assistance and about 1.3 billion dollars
a year in military aid. Indeed, Egypt’s top military officers, whose loyalty to
Mubarak is widely assumed, have been in Washington this week for the latest in a
series of regular consultations with their U.S. counterparts.


Despite
ritual U.S. complaints about corruption and the country’s human rights record
and appeals for political reform, Washington has steadfastly stuck by the
82-year-old Mubarak as the principal guarantor of peace with Israel and, more
broadly, as a bulwark against anti-Western or Islamist extremism in the region
as a whole, since he ascended to the presidency after Sadat’s assassination in
1981.


Early in the week, it looked as though the Obama administration
was hewing to that tradition. As hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated
against the regime, and thousands clashed with police, Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton Tuesday insisted that “the country was stable”, and that
Mubarak’s government was “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs
and interests of the Egyptian people”.


At the State of the Union Address
later that evening, Obama, in his only reference to the popular unrest sweeping
the region, declared that “The United States of America stands with the people
of Tunisia,” but failed to mention the situation in Egypt.


But, as the
sheer size of the protests and the determination of the protestors became clear,
the White House changed tack, at least rhetorically. Shortly after Obama
finished his speech, officials told reporters that there had not been time to
include a reference to Egypt before the text was distributed.


At the
same time, the White House released a statement which “urge(d) all parties to
refrain from using violence” and said it “expect(ed) the Egyptian authorities to
respond to any protests peacefully.”


“We support the universal rights of
the Egyptian people, including the rights to freedom of expression, association
and assembly,” the White House said in what would become a mantra over the
following 48 hours. It also called on the government “to be responsive to the
aspiration of the Egyptian people, and pursue political, economic and social
reforms that can improve their lives and help Egypt prosper.”


While such
exhortations have been praised by many analysts here, it is not yet clear how
seriously Mubarak, who was still being described by the State Department
Thursday as a “valuable ally and partner of the United States,” will be inclined
to take that advice. Or how Obama will respond if he does not, particularly
given widespread fears in the foreign policy establishment that the Muslim
Brotherhood, the best organised opposition force in Egypt, could emerge from any
transition period in command.


“When President George W. Bush made his
push for democracy in Arab lands, he ended up with Hamas terrorists winning a
democratic election and ruling the Gaza Strip,” warned Leslie Gelb, president
emeritus of the centrist Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), in the Daily Beast
Thursday.


“The administration’s move (to ‘not take sides’) is a slide
toward the unknown,” he added, stressing possible similarities between Egypt
today and radicalisation of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran. “The stakes are
sky high. Egypt is the lynchpin to peace in the Middle East.”


“(A)uthoritarian regimes (like Mubarak’s) are the foundation of the
America-led regional order,” noted Marc Lynch, a Mideast specialist at George
Washington University on his foreignpolicy.com blog. “For all the U.S. talk
about democracy promotion, the goal has always been to strengthen and legitimize
these allies – to prevent, not to nurture, the kind of popular mobilization
exploding today.”


“I would expect that the administration’s attitude is
to keep backing Mubarak to the bitter end, although they are probably developing
a Plan B,” said Chris Toensing, editor of the Middle East Report. “That would
mean hoping that Mubarak’s remaining cronies – who are far more numerous and
widely distributed than Ben Ali’s in Tunisia – can blunt the force of continued
popular unrest.”


*Jim Lobe’s blog on U.S. foreign policy can be read at
http://www.lobelog.com.

0 2

In the Iraq war, President George W. Bush said, in effect, that in certain circumstances, powerful nations can invade and occupy weaker nations. In effect, the United States was proposing to do to Iraq in 2003 what Iraq had done to Kuwait in 1990 — namely, attempt to resolve long-festering disputes by means of invasion, removal of the government and occupation.

Twenty years ago this week, despite fears of “another Vietnam,” the House and Senate voted to authorize the use of force against Iraqi troops occupying Kuwait.

After days of impassioned debate, the House supported President George H.W. Bush’s policy by a comfortable margin. The Senate’s 52-47 vote was the closest margin for war by a chamber of Congress in U.S. history.

The anniversary of the Persian Gulf War, a watershed event in modern American history, has gone almost entirely unnoticed. This oversight is perplexing given the presence of about 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq today and the countless connections between the swift liberation of Kuwait in 1991 and the protracted occupation of Iraq, now winding down after eight painful years.

The relationship between the two conflicts, however, is not as simple as it may appear.

Many, including some of the architects of the Iraq war, saw the 2003 invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein as the long-overdue completion of a mission left unfinished in 1991. This interpretation not only overlooks the clearly stated goals of the Persian Gulf War but also the almost diametrically opposed principles underlying the two conflicts.

In 1991, the elder President Bush responded to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait by saying simply, “This will not stand.” A large, powerful nation should not be allowed to resolve an international dispute by invading and occupying a weaker nation.

In the Iraq war, President George W. Bush said, in effect, that in certain circumstances, powerful nations can invade and occupy weaker nations. In effect, the United States was proposing to do to Iraq in 2003 what Iraq had done to Kuwait in 1990 — namely, attempt to resolve long-festering disputes by means of invasion, removal of the government and occupation.

But there are connections as well as distinctions between the Persian Gulf War and the conflicts that occupy us today.

U.S. ground troops left Iraq after the Persian Gulf War, but they remained in the region, most significantly in Saudi Arabia, home to the holiest sites in Islam. In 1998, when Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden directed an attack on U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, he chose a symbolic date: Aug. 7, the day in 1990 when the first U.S. forces started flowing into Saudi Arabia in response to the Iraqi takeover of Kuwait.

The coalition’s swift victory in the Persian Gulf War, coming as it did in the final months of the Soviet Union’s existence, cemented a belief that no army could stand up to the modern U.S. war machine. It was that conclusion that drove U.S. adversaries to develop tactics that favored hit-and-run strikes over direct confrontation.

Al Qaeda put the concept of asymmetrical war into practice with a series of increasingly spectacular terrorist attacks. Iraq’s Hussein, facing an imminent U.S.-led invasion, made plans for a protracted guerrilla war — one that, as it turned out, far outlasted his regime.

The U.S. intelligence community made three key misjudgments concerning the Persian Gulf War that would have long-term consequences.

First, until the very last moment, when the meaning of Iraqi troop movements became unmistakable, the CIA assumed that Iraqi threats against Kuwait were merely an intimidation campaign. Hussein’s forces, the CIA judged, were too exhausted from their decade-long war with Iran to launch another major conflict.

Second, the CIA warned members of Congress that the U.S.-led coalition could suffer heavy casualties in the fight to liberate Kuwait. When coalition casualties turned out to be mercifully low, some Democrats who had opposed the authorization complained that the CIA had fed them faulty, worst-case analysis.

Third, after the war, U.S. intelligence was stunned to learn that Iraq was much further along in developing nuclear weapons than estimated.

A dozen years later, as Congress debated another war against Iraq, U.S. intelligence essentially reversed those three estimates. It portrayed Iraq as a determined aggressor, predicted light casualties for U.S. forces and warned that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons and was reconstituting its nuclear weapons program.

In the fall of 2002, memory of the swift and popular victory in 1991 contributed to the overwhelming vote in Congress authorizing the use of force against Iraq.

As it turned out, of course, Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction. What it did have was an almost unlimited supply of conventional explosives, the building blocks of deadly roadside bombs. The frightening casualties predicted but not realized in the Persian Gulf War were exceeded in the Iraq war.

The Persian Gulf War liberated a small country from a brutal occupation. It restored America’s confidence in its military. And it upheld the fundamental principle that international aggression should meet with international opposition. But its longer-term legacy is deeply mixed.

It spawned a library of histories and memoirs published in the aftermath of the coalition’s victory. Two decades later, with U.S. forces still deeply embedded in Iraq, and with Islamic enemies determined to force the United States out of the Middle East, the Persian Gulf War is ripe for another look.

John Diamond is the author of “The CIA and the Culture of Failure: U.S. Intelligence From the End of the Cold War to the Invasion of Iraq.”

0 2

In June 2005, the then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told an Arab audience at the American University in Cairo that, “For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region — and we achieved neither.”

The ongoing Tunisian Intifada (uprising) cannot yet quite
be termed a revolution; Tunisians are still revolting, aspiring for bread and
freedom. This Intifada will go in history as a revolution if it gets either
bread or freedom and as a great revolution if it gets both. Internally, “the one
constant in revolutions is the primordial role played by the army,” Jean Tulard,
a French historian of revolutions, told Le Monde in an interview, and
the Tunisian military seems so far forthcoming. Externally, the United States
stands to be a critical contributor to either outcome in Tunisia, both because
of its historical close relations with the Tunisian military and because of its
regional hegemony and
international standing as a world power, but the U.S. seems so far
shortcoming.

 

While the Tunisian military has made a
decision to side with its people, the United States has yet to decide what and
whom to support among the revolting masses led by influential components like
communists, Pan-Arabists, Islamists, left wingers, nationalists and trade
unionists. The natural social allies of U.S. capitalist globalization,
privatization and free market have been sidelined politically as partners and
pillars of the deposed pro – U.S. Zein al-Abideen Ben Ali’s regime. The
remaining pro – U.S. liberalism among Tunisians are overwhelmed by the vast
majority of the unemployed, marginalized or underpaid who yearn for jobs, bread,
balanced distribution of the national wealth and development projects more than
they are interested in upper class western – oriented liberalism. Taken by
surprise by the evolving political drama in Tunisia,
the U.S. cannot by default contribute to a revolution for bread at a time its
economic system is unable to
provide for Americans themselves.
However, it
can play a detrimental role in contributing to a real Tunisian revolution for
freedom by making an historic U-turn in its foreign policy.

 

In June 2005, the
then-Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice
told an Arab audience at the American University in Cairo that, “For
60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of
democracy in this region — and we achieved neither.” But Rice did not elaborate
to add that this same policy was and is still the main source of instability and
the main reason for the absent democracy. Her successor incumbent Hillary Clinton has on January 13 in
Qatar postured as the Barak Obama Administration’s mouthpiece on Arab human
rights to lecture Arab governments on the urgent need for democratic reforms,
warning that otherwise they will see their countries “sinking into the sand.”
But Clinton missed to point out that her administration is still in pursuit of
its predecessor’s advocacy of democracy through changing regimes in Arab and
Muslim nations by means of military intervention, invasion and occupation, an
endeavor that has proved a failure in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Israeli –
occupied Palestinian territories, as well a
policy that was and is still another source of regional instability and absence
of democracy.

 

The Tunisian Intifada has
proved that democracy and regime
change
can be homemade, without any U.S. intervention. Ironically any
such U.S. intervention now is viewed in the region as a threat of a
counterrevolution that would preempt turning the Intifada into a revolution.
U.S. hands-off policy could be the only way to democracy in Tunisia. But a
hands-off policy is absolutely not a trade mark of U.S. regional foreign policy.
However, the United States has a choice now in Tunisia, but it is a choice that
pre-requisites a U – turn both in the U.S. approach to Arab democracy and in its
traditional foreign policy.

 

The U.S. risks to loose strategically in
Tunisia unless it decides on an historic U – turn, because politically the
Tunisian Intifada targeted a U.S. – supported regime and economically targeted a
failed U.S. model of development. On November 13, 2007, Georgetown
University Human Rights Institute and Law Center hosted a conference to answer
the question, “Tunisia: A Model of Middle East Stability or an Incubator of Extremism?” But
Tunisia now has given the answer: Tunisia is neither; it is an indigenous Arab
way to democracy and moderation.

 

Indeed the U.S. has now a choice in
Tunisia. The Arab country which is leading the first Arab revolution for
democracy is now a U.S. test case. Non – U.S. intervention would establish a
model for other Arabs to follow; it would also establish a model U.S. policy
that would over time make Arabs believe in any future U.S. rhetoric on democracy
and forget all the tragic consequences of American interventions in the name of
democracy. But this sounds more a wishful thinking than a realpolitik
expectation.

 

A U.S. long standing traditional policy
seems to weigh heavily on its decision makers, who are obsessed with their own
creation of the “Islamist threat” as their justification for their international war on terror, which
dictates their foreign policy, especially vis – a vis Arab and Muslim states, to
dictate a fait accompli to their rulers to choose between either being recruited
to this war or being condemned themselves as terrorists or terrorism sponsors,
and in this process exclusion policies should be pursued against wide spread
representative Islamic movements. The U.S. perspective has always been that Arab
Democracy could be sacrificed to serve U.S. vital interests and Arab democracy
can wait! But the Tunisian Intifada has proved that Arab democracy cannot wait
anymore.

 

Exclusion of popular Islamic movements
while at the same excluding democratic reforms until the war on terror is won
has proved a looser U.S. policy. The U.S. exploitation of the “Islamist threat”
now is not convincing for Arab aspirants for democracy, who still remember that
during the Cold War with the
former Soviet Union the U.S.
exploited the “communist threat,” then “Pan-Arabism threat,” to shore up autocratic and
authoritarian Arab regimes. In Tunisia, the prisons of the pro – U.S. regime
were always full long before there was an Islamic political movement: “In the 1950s prisons were filled
with Youssefites (loyal to Salah Ben Youssef, who broke away from Bourguiba’s
ruling Constitutional Party);
in the 60s it was the Leftists; in the 70s it was the trade unions; and in the
80s it was our turn,” leader in-exile of the outlawed Islamic Nahda movement,
Rachid Ghannouchi, told the Financial
Times
on January 18.

 

“When Nahda was in Tunisia … there was no
al-Qaeda,” Ghannouchi said, reminding one that in the neighboring Algeria there was no al-Qaeda too
before The Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was
outlawed. In the Israeli – occupied
territories
, outlawing and imposing siege on the Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas,”
which won a landslide electoral victory in 2006, should be a warning that the
only alternative to such moderate Islamic movements is for sure the extremist
al-Qaeda like undergrounds. Jordan proved wiser than the U.S. decision makers by
allowing the Islamic Action Front to compete
politics lawfully. Recruiting fake Islamic parties to serve U.S. policies as the case is in
Iraq has not proved feasible
impunity against al-Qaeda. The United States has to reconsider. Exclusion of
independent, moderate and non – violent Islamic representative movements, unless
they succumb to U.S. dictates, has proved U.S. policy a failure. U.S. parameters
for underground violent unrepresentative Islamists should not apply to these
movements.

 

The
U.S. decision makers however still seem deaf to what Ghannouchi told the
Financial Times: “Democracy should not exclude communists … it is not ethical
for us to call on a secular government to accept us, while once we get to power
we will eradicate them.” This is the voice of Arab homemade democracy; it has
nothing to do with the U.S. – exported democracy.

 

* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab
journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied
Palestinian territories.


0 3

The American people are now so totally mesmerized by their government’s insane liberalism that they consider the abnormal to be normal and the normal to be abnormal. They can no longer distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil, or the beautiful and the ugly. Religious belief is considered hokey, and cynical nihilism is the mindset of the intellectual elite.

Michael Savage asserts that liberalism is a form of insanity, and I agree with him. Considering the reaction of liberals to the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, it is obvious that liberals are out of touch with reality and prefer to live in a fantasy world of their own making. They devoutly wish that conservatives were violent and murderous and that the Tea Party was run by a group of Nazis. But alas, conservatives and Tea Partiers are just ordinary patriotic citizens who believe in a constitutional republic and that, in a free society, the ballot box is the way to change things.

But what is insanity? My college dictionary defines insane as “mentally deranged, crazy; utterly senseless.” Insanity is defined as “extravagant folly,” with synonyms such as: “dementia, lunacy, mania, frenzy, madness,” and many more. Which means that there are insane people both inside and outside insane asylums. But I would define insanity as lacking logic, rationality, and common sense, the inability to put two and two together. From that point of view, liberalism is indeed a form of insanity.

Let’s look at the liberal policies of our government that, from any viewpoint, can be considered insane. For example, the liberal Congress and our ultra-liberal President enacted a highly complex, 2000-page national healthcare bill, which few legislators actually read. Indeed, it was Speaker Nancy Pelosi who said that the bill had to be passed so that we could see what was in it. That’s crazy. How many citizens have access to this 2000-page monster? Is it being freely distributed to each household like the income tax forms? Obviously, 99 percent of Americans will never know what‘s in that law. Ms. Pelosi also characterized the Tea Party movement as Astroturf. Another sign of an unbalanced mind.

Then our government promoted a policy of forcing banks to provide mortgages to poor people who would be unable to make their monthly payments. The liberals’ rationale? Poor people should be able to own homes. Sounds nice, but it’s insane. And the nation is suffering its consequences.

Another act of insanity was committed when the liberal lame-duck Congress voted to scrap the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and permit homosexuals to serve openly in the military. Why would anyone want to join the military and advertise something as private as one’s sexual preference? Why? To openly solicit sexual propositions? Is that now legal? And will openly gay enlistees be required to take tests, just like other enlistees, to see if they are HIV positive or have a sexually-transmitted disease? And will gay enlistees complain that these tests are discriminatory? When you pass insane laws you get more problems than you can logically deal with.

Our new airport security policies are also a form of blatant insanity. The new policy assumes that an 80-year-old Jewish male, a 60-year-old Catholic nun, a 45-year-old businessman on his way to a conference, a 20-year-old college student on spring break, and a 10-year-old Little Leaguer are all potentially suicidal and are boarding their planes in order to blow them up in service to Islamic Jihad. That’s totally insane.

We know who the potential terrorists are: young male Muslims with one-way tickets and no luggage. So why must every air traveler in America be subjected to a search for a bomb in his or her underwear? And why do we now need thousands of airport security employees to spot the few actual suicidal terrorists who want to blow up planes?

Any junior psychologist or intelligent layman should be able to pick out a suicidal terrorist from among a group of passengers boarding a plane. I think I could do it. The average air traveler does not spend big money to commit suicide on a plane. Yet the government actually believes that anyone who buys an airline ticket and shows up at an airport is a potential suicidal maniac serving Allah.

Another foolish idea was the creation of the Federal Reserve System by a group of secretive New York bankers on the premise that it would prevent bank failures, depressions, recessions, and inflation. Yet, under the Fed we had the longest and deepest depression in American history. We’ve had inflation to the point where a hotdog that cost five cents in 1938 now costs $2.50 in lots of sports venues. We’ve also had many more bank failures than before the Fed was created. Yet the liberals claim that the idea of doing away with the Fed is unthinkable, as if there were no banks or currency before the Fed was invented.

Another massive form of insanity is our public education system that is dumbing down the nation and costing billions of dollars. Everyone in Congress ought to be required to read Charlotte Iserbyt’s well-documented indictment of the U.S. Department of Education, The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, as well as John Taylor Gatto’s masterpiece of historical research, The Underground History of American Education. If this nation does not bring sanity back to the education of its youth, it faces a gloomy future.

Indeed, public education has become a criminal enterprise. First the schools actually create dyslexia and thereby deform the brains of our children by using the sight method to teach reading. Brain scientists have shown through brain scans what a child’s brain looks like when he or she is dyslexic. Our schools no longer teach cursive writing, which actually helps a child learn to read. They let our kids hold pens with as many fingers as they want so that their handwriting resembles chicken scratches. As for spelling, kids are encouraged to spell any way they want. It’s called “creative spelling.”

Our educators have also become drug pushers by forcing millions of children to take such mood-altering drugs as Ritalin and Adderall to relieve the symptoms of ADD or ADHD, both created by the frustration of reading failure. Some kids have dropped dead or committed suicide because of the long-term effects of these drugs.

Then our schools destroy the religious beliefs of the children by evicting God from the school house. As a result the kids become humanists, atheists or nihilists. The educators then contribute to the delinquency of minors by teaching pornographic sex ed which encourages sexual experimentation, promiscuity, and risky alternate lifestyles. They also contribute to teenage suicide by teaching death ed — a depressing, scary subject. And yet, we keep financing this insane horror show as if there were no better way to educate our children. In fact, homeschoolers have found a better way: education at home by parents at no cost to the taxpayer.

Then we have an insane government energy policy which bans drilling for oil in Alaska even though gas prices continue to rise and our dependence on foreign oil increases. We pour money into windmills and solar panels which cannot be used to drive cars. And we pour billions into making ethanol so that ranchers have to pay higher prices for corn, thus increasing the cost of food in the supermarket. None of this makes sense.

We also have hundreds of laws and regulations restricting property owners on how they can use their own property. We have an insane system of taxation that requires every individual to either be an accountant or hire a professional accountant to figure out the rules of the system. Attempts to simplify the system have been met by political inertia.

The American people are now so totally mesmerized by their government’s insane liberalism that they consider the abnormal to be normal and the normal to be abnormal. They can no longer distinguish between right and wrong, good and evil, or the beautiful and the ugly. Religious belief is considered hokey, and cynical nihilism is the mindset of the intellectual elite.

Yes, we do have some islands of sanity in America: the homeschool movement, a few good conservative colleges and think tanks, some patriotic commentators on television, a handful of rational news publications (The New American surely among them), and a small group of sane economists like Thomas Sowell who are willing to provide us with cogent analysis of our present situation. And not much else. It takes a lot of courage and moral honesty to remain sane in America. A sort of bleak way to start 2011. Can the Tea Party movement begin to set things right? We hope so.

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Revelations that WikiLeaks will expose the so-called "pillars of society," the super-rich, may please the political Left seeking vindication of their view that there are two sets of tax laws, one for the super-rich and one for everyone else.


Assange







Photo of Julian Assange at Jan. 17 news conference, holding CD files: AP Images


Internet whistleblower website WikiLeaks plans to release information on tax evasion by the rich and famous after obtaining two disks of information from former Cayman Islands branch chief of Swiss banking firm Julius Baer Bank & Trust Company Ltd. The Cayman Islands is a well-known haven for investments because the Caribbean island nation has no income, capital gains, profit, or estate taxes in addition to highly secretive banking laws.

 WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange promised at a January 17 press conference to verify the information and start posting the data on the web within two weeks. “There will be a full revelation,” Assange told reporters at the press conference with former Julius Baer official Rudolf Elmer.

 The list reportedly contains some 2,000 names, though Elmer pledged only to release the names of famous people. But Bloomberg.com reported that the disks included information on at least 40 politicians and some celebrities. “I was an expert in the offshore business,” Elmer told reporters at the meeting. “I am against the system. I want to let society know what I do know, and how this system works, because it’s damaging society.” Elmer was dismissed from Julius Baer in 2002, so it’s unclear how much of the information is current. Elmer will be arraigned in Switzerland Wednesday on charges of violating Swiss banking privacy laws. Julius Baer

Julius Baer has had an ongoing lawsuit against WikiLeaks to prevent leakage of the information. Shares in the company fell sharply in stock trading January 17, after the press conference.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with someone doing everything he can to avoid taxes. Revelations that WikiLeaks will expose the so-called “pillars of society,” the super-rich, may please the political Left seeking vindication of their view that there are two sets of tax laws, one for the super-rich and one for everyone else. But that may depend upon which politicians, industrialists, and celebrities are caught in the crossfire. If a significant portion of them are leftist politicians or socialist celebrities, that may actually expose the hypocrisy of many on the Left who seek to impose high taxes and personally avoiding the same taxes they seek to impose on everyone else.

 A highly embarrassing revelation for powerful American politicians and industrial leaders may, however, spur the move to criminalize WikiLeaks and its increasing number of copycat websites across the globe. WikiLeaks has powerful political enemies in the United States. The Obama administration has condemned the website, and so has possible Republican presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who has called Assange “anti-American” and suggested that he be “pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.”

 Assange also has a bizarre personal legal battle and has been released on bail in the United Kingdom where he is fighting extradition to Sweden. The Swedish case reportedly involves two rape charges under Sweden’s liberal sexual assault laws, even though the “rapes” apparently involved consensual sex.



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"It’s good that the Iranians think we have these capabilities," a senior Israeli intelligence official told TIME, taking care not to confirm the specific deployment of capabilities that Israel is widely known to, in fact, possess.

Just going by the papers, it’s been a busy couple of months for the Mossad, the Israeli spy agency. Saudi Arabia nabbed a vulture wearing a transmitter from Tel Aviv University, hard evidence not of avian research but of a “Zionist plot.” The mangled body of an elderly German woman washed up off an Egyptian resort bearing bite marks from a shark. But whose shark? “What is being said about the Mossad throwing the deadly shark in to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question,” the South Sinai governor was quoted as saying. “But it needs time to confirm.” The half-baked always does.

No one was laughing, however, at the report in Sunday’s New York Times, a 2,800-word assessment of Israeli involvement in Stuxnet, the computer worm that wreaked havoc with Iran’s nuclear program, sending centrifuges into wild gyrations that brought down perhaps 1,000 of the contraptions whose spinning enriches uranium that Israel fears will end up in atomic weapons that would be pointed its way. The newspaper said Israel, in cooperation with Washington, tested the worm on the exact same centrifuge model, known as P-1, that Israeli intelligence had set up at its own Dimona nuclear facility in the Negev Desert in the country’s south. (Is the Mossad targeting Iran’s scientists?)

“It’s good that the Iranians think we have these capabilities,” a senior Israeli intelligence official told TIME, taking care not to confirm the specific deployment of capabilities that Israel is widely known to, in fact, possess.

The Jewish state has a robust high-tech research industry, a private sector nourished on the financial side by global venture capital and on the far more important human side by a stream of veterans of elite units of the Israel Defense Forces. The units are devoted to computer science and warfare, and bear dashingly nerdy names like 8200 and 8153, the latter known simply as Eight One to members of the other government security bodies it brings together in joint operations.

These include a foreign intelligence agency, the Mossad, that has become a major employer of the nerd vets, ramping up its technological capacity hugely under the eight-year tenure of Meir Dagan. Dagan, a rumpled figure who paints huge canvases in his spare time, formally left the spy agency last week, but not before gathering Israeli reporters together to make an important announcement. Iran’s nuclear program, he said, has sustained so much damage that the earliest it could produce an atomic weapon would be 2015. The date pushed back by four years the last public estimate, and was apt to change again. Dagan made clear that 2015 was the earliest Iran could produce a warhead if its program suffered no further setbacks starting from today – in other words, if Israel, the U.S. and other worried parties stopped trying to derail it. (See how the false rumor about Meir Dagan’s death in 2008 got started.)

Only some of that effort has come to light. The Times reported that whatever Stuxnet has already done, by taking over the German-made Siemens computers that operate the centrifuges, the alien software may well hold malevolent code yet to be heard from. And for years before the famous worm was implanted, U.N. inspectors detected other technical setbacks in the Iranian program. Some likely resulted from equipment foreign intelligence agencies arranged to have sold to Iran. In a process as delicate as nuclear engineering, a machine relied upon to produce specific measurements could, for example, if deliberately programmed to produce incorrect readings, likewise produce delays and frustration, at the least.

Then there’s the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. Last week, state-controlled news agencies in Iran displayed a young man who claimed to have killed Masoud Ali Mohammadi at the direction of Israeli intelligence. The scientist perished a year ago when a remote-controlled bomb was detonated under his car, a method that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad described as “Zionist-style,” Mossad hit teams having combined personal automobiles and remote-controlled bombs since the 1970s.

In November, Majid Shahriari was killed in similar circumstances. The nuclear engineer was identified as the top scientist in the Iranian nuclear program, a figure whose removal would create a significant loss in institutional knowledge. Another nuclear scientist, with ties to the Revolutionary Guards, survived an assassination attempt the same day.

Reflexive is the word for Iran’s immediate attributing to the “Zionist entity” almost anything it doesn’t like. But when it comes to mayhem in the Iranian nuclear program, the enterprise that Israel has for years regarded as by far the greatest threat to its existence, Israeli officials barely muster denials. News media in Israel are constrained by censorship rules when reporting on national security, but the press is permitted to pass along what’s reported in foreign outlets. So Iran’s parading of its alleged Mossad operative was widely reported in Israel, along with photos of the guns and passports Iranian authorities claimed to find with him. (Comment on this story.)

The Times report was also widely quoted, though not with the relish of Dagan’s farewell briefing to Israeli reporters. There, in a transparent warning to hawks, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the outgoing spy chief emphasized that the Iranian nuclear program was in such trouble that it would be rash and counterproductive for Israel to send warplanes to bomb it.

And with that, Dagan turned over the director’s chair to the longtime deputy of the Mossad. Tamir Pardo comes to the job with 30 years of experience in the agency, notably in operations and technology.

– With reporting by Aaron J. Klein / Tel Aviv

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy — who on Dec. 9, 2009 wrote in Le Monde defending a Switzerland vote banning Muslim mosques from building minarets and made a national fuss on banning less than two thousand French citizens from wearing Niqab — said on Jan. 6 that he “cannot accept” what he described as “religious cleansing” of Arab Christians.

Suddenly, the U. S. – European alliance
is acting to protect the “existence” of the Christian Arab minority against the
Muslim Arab majority whose very existence is besieged and threatened by this
same alliance, drawing on a wide spread Islamophobia while at the same time
exacerbating Islamophobia among western audiences whom the international
financial crisis is now crushing to the extent that it does not spare them time
or resources to question the real political motives of their governments, which
have been preoccupied for decades now with restructuring the Arab world
geographically, demographically, politically and culturally against the will of
its peoples with  a pronounced aim of creating a “new Middle
East.”

 

Ironically this sudden western awakening
to the plight of Christian Arabs comes at a time when all Arabs, both Muslims
and Christians, are crushed by U.S. and Israeli military occupation or foreign
political hegemony, but worse still when they are in the grip of a social
upheaval in the very states that are by will or by coercion loyal to this
alliance, where unbalanced development and an unemployment rate more than double
the world average are pushing masses onto the streets to challenge the
legitimacy of their own pro – west governments. Exactly at this time, when Arab
masses need their “social” unity for national liberation, sovereignty, liberty
and freedom, a European campaign is being waged to divide them along religious
and sectarian lines.

 

French
President Nicolas Sarkozy — who on Dec. 9, 2009 wrote in Le Monde defending a
Switzerland vote banning Muslim mosques from building minarets and made a
national fuss on banning less than two thousand French citizens from wearing
Niqab — said on Jan. 6 that he “cannot accept” what he described as “religious
cleansing” of Arab Christians. His Foreign Minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, wrote
to the EU’s foreign affairs baroness, Catherine Ashton, asking for the union to
draw up a plan of action in response. France took the initiative to call a
meeting of the UN Security Council last Nov. 9 to discuss international
protection of Iraqi Christians. On Dec. 22, Italy’s foreign Minister Franco
Frattini said his country was presenting a resolution to the UN to condemn their
“persecution.” Together with his French, Polish and Hungarian counterparts,
Frattini wrote a joint letter to Ashton
asking her to table the issue at
the foreign ministers meeting on January 31 and to consider taking “concrete
measures” to protect them. On Dec. 17, the German Bundestag passed a resolution
defending the freedom of religion around tee world, but viewed with “great
concern” the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council on March 25 last year
against the “defamation of religions” because it “undermines the existing human
rights understanding.”

 

The European political reaction sounds
excessively selective in its concern over an allegedly missing right of the
freedom of religion of the Christian minority in a region where civil and human
rights for the Muslim majority are missing thanks in the first place for the
support the regional governing regimes, which confiscate these same rights,
receive from the U.S. – European alliance, and the European selectivity
allegedly in defense of the “threatened” existence of the Christian Arab
minorities speaks louder when it is compared with the deafening European silence
over the threatened existence of the Arab and Islamic cultural identities of the
majority, let alone the European incitement against both identities, a double
standard that explicitly invokes suspicious questions about the credibility and
sincerity of the European “rights” concerns and about the real political goals
behind these pronounced concerns. For example, more than 300 mosques were
attacked, some of them of a UNESCO World Heritage Center standards, hundreds of
Muslim clerics were murdered, millions of Muslims were forced either to migrate
internally or immigrate externally in the U.S. – occupied Iraq, and the plight
of Iraqi Christians has been and still is merely a side show of the overall
destruction of the whole state there, but the European rights consciousness did
not and still does not find it worth a similar call for defense and
protection.

 

Unfortunately, this traditional European
divide – and – rule policy in the Arab world, as it was the case for centuries,
is today finding ample papal blessing from the Vatican to justify itself, not in
the eyes of Arabs, but in the eyes of its own audiences. President Sarkozy’s
whistle blower cry this January 6 that Christians in the Arab – Islamic world
are victims of a planned ‘religious cleansing,” came on the backdrop of the
Vatican’s Pope Benedict XVI repeated call on the world leaders to rise up for
the protection and “defense of the Christians in the Middle East.” It is a cry
fraught with the connotations of the historical precedent of the Vatican –
blessed Fourth Crusade, which consisted mainly of a crusading army originating
from areas within France and which was diverted from invading Egypt by sea to
the sacking of Constantinople, the capital of the political and spiritual rival,
the Orthodox Church, to which the overwhelming majority of Christians in the
Arab – Muslim world belong, instead of “liberating” Jerusalem from
Muslims.

 

Pope Benedict XVI’s wilful or careless
indifference towards exploiting his church concerns by “secular” politicians
like Sarkozy to serve their down to earth goals, or towards exacerbating
Islamophobia, which in turn fuels Christianphobia, is reminiscent of how the
older Sarkozy –type “Christ – abiding” and non – secular politicians concealed
from the bulk of the crusading army a letter from Pope Innocent III, who made
the new Fourth Crusade the goal of his pontificate, warning against the
diversion of the crusade, forbidding any atrocities against “Christian
neighbors” and threatening excommunication. In as much as the indifference of
the crusader pope to carry out his threat had led to the demise of the Byzantine
Empire, the fall of Constantinople in the hands of the Muslims less than three
hundred years later and turning the crusades into a war against the rival church
more than against the Muslims, the indifference of the present day Pope Benedict
XVI is threatening to counterproductively achieve the demise of Christian
existence in the “East,” which he has made, it seems, the goal of his
pontificate.

 

Ever since the Fourth Crusade sacked
Constantinople in 1204, Arab Christians in the Muslim world have been wary of
the messages and emissaries of Rome as a cultural spearhead of foreign invasion
and hegemony. Even a Catholic loyal to the Vatican like the incumbent Latin
Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, had this to tell the Israeli Haaretz
exclusively four days before Benedict XVI’s “pilgrimage” to the Holy Land in
September 2009: “The thing that worries me most is the speech that the pope
will deliver here. One word for the Muslims and I’m in trouble; one word for the
Jews and I’m in trouble. At the end of the visit the pope goes back to Rome and
I stay here with the consequences.
” Patriarch Twal’s fears were vindicated
last week when Egypt recalled its Vatican envoy for consultations over the
Pope’s remarks on Egyptian Copts: The “new statements from the Vatican” are
“unacceptable interference” in Egypt’s “internal affairs,” the Egyptian foreign
ministry said in a statement. Syrian analyst Sami Moubayed recently wrote that
similar papal remarks were to the “fundamentalists .. a blessing in disguise.”

 

Pope Benedict XVI since he occupied the
papacy seat seems totally insensitive to the worries of his representative in
Jerusalem; he doesn’t seem short of words and seems careful not to miss an
opportunity to utter provocative anti-Muslim pronouncements that place both his
church clergy and followers on the defensive among both their Christian as well
as Muslim compatriots. However, he places them in a more critical position by
his helplessness to find any words or an opportunity in his latest torrential
rhetoric about the protection of Christians and their plight in Holy Land
itself, where they have been victims of actual ethnic and religious cleansing
for more than sixty years now since the Palestinian Nakba in 1948, when the
state of Israel was declared independent on the ruins of their homes.

 

From a regional perspective, both
Christian and Muslim, the very existence of Christians is threatened, besieged
and gradually cleansed by the Israeli military occupation in the Palestinian
cradle of Christianity – – where Christ was born, spread the word of God, love
and peace and crucified. The papal silence on this simple fact of life is much
louder in the region than Pope’s pronounced appeals for the defense and
protection of Christians on the peripheries of the birthplace of Christianity,
in Iraq, Egypt or Lebanon for example, because when the center of Christian
gravity crumbles in Jerusalem, the periphery supports would not hold for long
and even the important St, Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican would be a pale
substitute, and the center of Christian gravity in Jerusalem is almost totally
Judaized, and is off limits to the Christians both in the Palestinian cradle of
Christianity as well as to their brethren on the Arab and Muslim periphery,
unless they are granted an Israeli military permit to visit, which is rare and
very tightly selective.

 

Viewed from Christian
regional perspective, the papal appeals for their protection could hardly be
described other than contradictory, if not hypocrite, particularly in view of a
Vatican’s document in July 2007, approved by Benedict XVI, which declared
Catholicism as “the only true church of Christ” and “other Christian communities
are either defective or not true churches.”  So, “what” Christians
Pope Benedict is appealing to defend and protect? A year earlier, Coptic Pope
Shenouda III denied there was any dialogue or contacts with the Vatican although
thirty three years before both sides agreed to form joint committees for
bilateral dialogue. With the exception of Armenian church as a late newcomer but
nonetheless an independent church, the Coptic, Orthodox, Chaldean, Assyrian,
Syriac, Melkite and other Eastern communions have existed and coexisted among
and with Arabs since the earliest days of Christianity, because they are Arabs
either by ethnicity or by culture and they are the overwhelming majority of
Christians in the Middle East and an integral part of the Arab
society.

 

Islamophobia is warning
that Muslims are “returning” to Islam, but is it not top on the agenda of Pope
Benedict XVI to return Europe to Christianity? “We must reject both secularism
and fundamentalism,” the Pope said in his annual address on Christmas Day, but
is it not secularism that the Pope, Europe and the U.S. are preaching now to
de-Arabise and de-Islamise Arabs? This double standard ironical western
contradiction deprives their calls for the protection of Arab Christians of
whatever credibility it might still have in the Arab eyes. Their “protection”
will prove counterproductive sooner or later. Christianphobia that fuels anti –
Christian blind terror is an already active byproduct.

 

The ‘Church of Islam’
 

 

Commenting on the Synod of
Middle East Christian leaders that convened in the Vatican last October, the
spiritual leader of the Melkite “Catholics,” Patriarch of the Church of Antioch,
Gregorios III, had this to say, quoted by the Lebanese Daily Star last December:
“The Synod for the Middle East is a Synod for Arab countries, for Arabs, a Synod
for Arab Christians in symbiosis with their Arab society. It is a Synod for the
‘Church of the Arabs’ and ‘Church of Islam’.” The adviser to the Muslim Sunni
Mufti of Lebanon, Dr. Mohammad Al – Sammak, who was invited to the Synod,
recognized the Arab identity of Christians in the Middle East: “I cannot live my
being Arabic without the Middle Eastern Christian Arab .. They are an integral
part of the .. formation of Islamic civilization,” he told the Synod. 

 

Politically and religiously
these Christians have been on the other side of the Vatican – blessed old or
modern western conquests, and politically and religiously they have been all
along protected by Arabs and Muslims, otherwise they would not have survived.
Their existence is now under threat because the existence of their Arab –
Islamic incubator is on the line, besieged either by direct military occupation
in Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan or by economic sanctions and political
hegemony; their existence was not threatened when the Arab – Islamic state was
an empire and a world power, nor was it threatened during the crusades despite
the atrocities committed by their western co-religious crusaders, which would
have invited a reprisal had it not been for the teachings of Islam
itself.

 

The U.S. – led world war on
terror targeting mainly Arabs and Muslims is perplexing western pro – law, peace
and human rights audiences by smoke –screening their governments’ military
adventures and modern crusades, which is the real action that created terrorism
as the only possible reaction expected by the overpowered nations. However the
invading creator and the created terrorists in their bloody divide are smoke –
screening also any possible resurface of the forgotten Islamic covenants that
protected the indigenous two thousand – year old Arab Christians since the
advent of Islam in the seventh century. In the year 628 AD, a Christian
delegation from St. Catherine’s Monastery, in Egypt’s Sinai, met Prophet
Mohammad and requested his protection. The Prophet granted them a protection
charter.

 

Dr. Muqtedar Khan, Director
of Islamic Studies at the University of Delaware and a fellow of the Institute
for Social Policy and Understanding, wrote this about the charter:
The document is not a
modern human rights treaty but even though it was penned in 628 A.D., it clearly
protects the right to property, freedom of religion, freedom of work, and
security of the person. A remarkable aspect of the charter is that it imposes no
conditions on Christians for enjoying its privileges. It is enough that they are
Christians. They are not required to alter their beliefs, they do not have to
make any payments and they do not have any obligations. This is a charter of
rights without any duties! The first and the final sentence of the charter are
critical. They make the promise eternal and universal. By ordering Muslims to
obey it until the Day of Judgment the charter again undermines any future
attempts to revoke the privileges. These rights are
inalienable.”
In the year 631, Prophet Muhammad received a
delegation of sixty Christians from Najran in the Prophet’s mosque in Medinah,
allowed them to pray in the mosque, and concluded the “covenant to the
Christians of Najran” treaty which granted them religious and administrative
autonomy as citizens of the Islamic State. In 637, Islamic Caliph Omar ibn al –
Khattab granted the similar “Covenant of Omar” to the Patriarch of Jerusalem
Sophronius.

 

However, neither Islamophobians nor their
terrorist Islamists have any interest but to dump these Islamic ideological
covenants for the protection of Arab Christians. No Arab Christian fears for his
life form his Muslim neighbor or his government, but he or she definitely fears
these two protagonists, who are both foreign to his history and culture. No
foreign protection of Arab Christians could match the protection and solidarity
they received from their Muslim compatriots both in Iraq and Egypt following the
bombings of a church in Baghdad on October 31 and a church in Alexandria on New
Year Eve. In the latter case there were reports of Muslim human shields to
protect the Christmas religious celebrations of Egyptian Christians, let alone
the solidarity statements by both outlawed Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya and the Muslim
Brotherhood and the thousands of police deployed for the same purpose, in a
remarkable show of national unity and historic coexistence.

 

The Organization of the Islamic
Conference (OIC), scheduled to meet in the UAE on January 19, will discuss the
situation of Christians in member states, according to Lebanon parliamentary
Speaker Nabih Berri. On this background, there are also reports that Egypt will
ask the Arab League economic summit this month, to discuss foreign, and in
particular western, interference in Arab Affairs. European offers of protection
are already backlashing. 

 

The only real threat to the existence of
Arab Christians showed for the first time when the European colonialism first,
then the U.S. imperialism, self – appointed western powers as their protectors.
It is noteworthy that in both the Iraqi and Egyptian cases the native Christian
Arabs are now paying the heavy price of the U.S. anti – Pan –Arabism of both
late Jamal Abdul Nasser and Saddam Hussein. Their plight started with the
forcing of pro – U.S. regimes in both countries.

 

To describe the latest attacks against
Christians as a plan of “religious cleansing,” as President Sarkozy has done,
suggests a persecution that doesn’t exist; this is “not the case in the Middle
East at the moment,” it is “not supported by the wider community,” said Fiona
McCallum of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, who is a specialist on
the Christian communities in the Middle East, adding: “It’s important to also
note that immigration takes place from the region from both Christians and
Muslims as well.”

 

* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab
journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian
territories.

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Undeniably, political rhetoric is hotter than it has been since the 1960s and ought to be dialed down. But Barack Obama, talking tough in 2008 about how he would deal with Republican attacks, himself said, "If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun. … Folks in Philly like a good brawl."

On Feb. 15, 1933, Giuseppe Zangara, delusional and a loner, fired his .32-caliber pistol at FDR in the Bayfront Park area of Miami.

Five feet tall, Zangara could not aim over the crowd. So, he stood on a folding chair and was piled on after the first of five shots. He wounded four people, including Mayor Anton Cermak of Chicago.

In two weeks, Zangara, who pleaded guilty, had been sentenced to 80 years. When Cermak died on March 6, Zangara was retried for murder and sentenced to the electric chair, where he died on March 20, 1933.

In that time, if you knew what you were doing, knew the penalty for it and then committed the crime, you paid the price – and swiftly.

There was no wailing that Zangara, a misfit suffering from a stomach ailment, was not fully responsible.

There was no campaign to accuse Republicans, after a rough election, of creating an atmosphere in which a deranged mind may have been driven to try to kill FDR.

That came three decades later, when conservatives were charged with having “created the atmosphere” in which JFK was assassinated.

Lee Harvey Oswald was a communist who had defected to Russia and a member of the pro-Castro Fair Play for Cuba Committee, who had only recently arrived in Texas. Yet moral culpability for what he did was laid at the door of the city of Dallas and the rising American right.

Had not, the press asked, Adlai Stevenson been lately jostled by a crowd in Dallas? Had not LBJ and Lady Bird been verbally abused in the lobby of a Dallas hotel in 1960? Was Dallas not a hothouse of the right?

The same smear tactic was employed when Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, killing 168, among them 19 children. Right-wing radio and its anti-government rhetoric, it was said, created the atmosphere that made it easier for McVeigh to feel justified in blowing up a federal building.

Saturday, even before Jared Loughner had been charged with murdering six people in Tucson, including a 9-year-old girl and a U.S. judge, and wounding 13 in an assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, the old smear machine had been wheeled out.

Giffords, it was said, had been “targeted” by Sarah Palin for defeat in ads depicting her district in cross hairs. And had not Palin used the expression, “Don’t retreat, reload!”? Had not Sharron Angle in Nevada talked of “Second Amendment remedies”?

Had not talk-show hosts on Fox News used incendiary language that can drive weak and deranged minds over the line?

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a Democrat and friend of Giffords, kicked off the campaign Saturday with this excoriation.

“I’d just like to say that when you look at unbalanced people, how they are – how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths, about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous.”

Dupnik later narrowed it to some “people in the radio business and some people in the TV business.” Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell narrowed it further to Fox News, the home of Glenn Beck.

Elements on the left are now connecting the dots – the words of Palin and Fox News – to the deeds of accused mass murderer Jared Loughner.

This is not political hardball. This is political dirt ball.

Do any such dots exist in reality? Or only in the embittered minds and malevolent motives of those unreconciled to the defeat they suffered Nov. 2?


Undeniably, political rhetoric is hotter than it has been since the 1960s and ought to be dialed down. But Barack Obama, talking tough in 2008 about how he would deal with Republican attacks, himself said, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun. … Folks in Philly like a good brawl.”

In 2010, Obama called on Hispanics to join him and “punish our enemies.” Harry Reid in 2009 called tea-party critics “evil-mongers” who disrupt town-hall meetings with “lies, innuendo and rumors.”

It is easy for journalists to imply or impute a causal connection between hot words and horrible acts. Simply twin the two in a story, or ask an interviewee if he thinks these words and those deeds are not connected. And then let the public imagination do the rest.

As of today, there is not a shred of evidence of any connection between what Sarah Palin or Fox News said and what Jared Loughner did. From the evidence, Loughner had his first and perhaps his only encounter with Giffords in 2007, a year before Palin ever came to national attention as the running mate of John McCain.

The man charged with this awful atrocity is Jared Loughner.

Our country would be better served if, instead of accusing each other of moral culpability for these crimes, politicians and media joined to demand that Loughner be denied the fame (or infamy) he sought, and that he receive the same swift justice as Giuseppe Zangara.

Read more: The left’s political dirt ball http://www.wnd.com/index.php?pageId=249685#ixzz1B5nFBElM

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As US influence declines in Iraq, Iran’s is certainly rising. Acting Foreign Minister Salehi of Iran, who previously was Iran’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, visited Iraq last week, meeting with key players including Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. And a big Iraqi delegation is in Iran this week, led by the prime minister of Iraq’s Kurdish region, Barham Salih, who met with top Iranian officials, including Ali Larijani, the parliament’s speaker.

Despite reports [1]
that Muqtada al-Sadr, the rebellious clergyman who returned to Iraq
this week after four years in Iran, has adopted a “moderate stance,” his
speech at a mosque in Najaf on Saturday proved quite otherwise. He is,
still, militantly anti-American, and he’s served notice on Prime
Minister Maliki’s government that any deal with the United States to
extend the American troop deployment in Iraq past the end of 2011 is out
of the question.

Here, collected from a wide variety of news accounts, are a series of
direct quotes from Sadr’s speech, delivered to thousands of enraptured
religious Shiites who treated his return to Iraq like the return of the
so-called Hidden Imam. (In fact, like many of his co-religionists of the
extreme or fundamentalist persuasion, including Iran’s Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad, Sadr appears to believe that he’s paving the way for the
imminent return of the Imam, who is said to have vanished mysteriously
thirteen centuries ago. Sadr’s followers plastered Najaf with posters
proclaiming Sadr to be “The Preparer,” i.e., one who prepares the return
of the Imam.)

Most of Sadr’s speech, however, was entirely earth-focused:

“We say to the Iraq government [2]:
Enough occupation and enough slavery! We heard that the government has
pledged to get the occupation out, and we are waiting for the
promise…. We’re watching you…

“We are still resisting the occupation through armed, cultural, and all kinds of resistance [3], … against our joint enemy: America, Israel, and Britain [2].

“This year, we have been overwhelmed with politics [4],
so overwhelmed with politics that we have forgotten that we are an
occupied country, and that our first objective should be to get rid of
the occupation. It is a legal and religious obligation…

“Resistance, yes, resistance! But not everyone will carry weapons [5]. Only those qualified will carry weapons.

“Let’s annoy the occupier [4].… What’s up? Are you scared of the Americans? [Crowd: ‘No, no to America!’] That’s better.”

What Sadr’s return means, exactly, for Iraqi politics isn’t
completely clear. Some analysts, quick to underscore Sadr’s
anti-Americanism, have pointed out that Sadr is a powerful enough player
in Iraqi politics today that he can singlehandedly prevent Maliki from
endorsing the extension of the American troop presence in Iraq [6], as advocated by the Brookings Institution [7] and by Ryan Crocker [8],
the former U.S. ambassador top Iraq. Indeed, last week, Maliki
proclaimed his intention not to ask for US forces to stay past the
deadline of December, 2011, saying instead that Iraqi forces could
handle security challenges on their own.

Sadr does have clout, thanks to the forty seats his faction controls
in the Iraqi parliament, and to the kingmaker role he played last year
in backing Maliki and breaking the stalemate held over from the March,
2010, elections. But it’s also true that if Maliki were to decide, under
strong pressure from Washington, to ask for an extension of the US
military commitment, including the resupply of the Iraqi armed forces
with advanced American weapons, aircraft, and tanks, he might be able to
weather the defection of the Sadrists, even by bringing in other
parties such as Ayad Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc.

More important, Sadr’s clout derives–to an unknown extent–from the
backing he receives from Iran. The Sadr-Maliki pact was assembled late
last year in Tehran and Qom, where the two men met for the first time
since the attack on the Sadrists ordered by Maliki in 2007. That battle,
which ended in an Iranian-brokered truce, forecast the Iranian-brokered
deal between Maliki and Sadr in 2010. Indeed, last October, the Guardian reported extensively on the background of the Sadr-Maliki accord in Iran [9],
which involved a meeting between the two men, along with a senior
representative of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and General Qassem
Suleimani, commander the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard
Corps, who arranged the 2007 ceasefire between the Iraqi government and
Sadr’s Mahdi Army. (The Quds Force is the IRGC’s foreign operations
unit, a kind of intelligence agency combined with Special Forces, and it
has chief responsibility for Iran’s influence in Iraq.)

As US influence declines in Iraq, Iran’s is certainly rising. Acting
Foreign Minister Salehi of Iran, who previously was Iran’s
representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, visited Iraq
last week, meeting with key players including Grand Ayatollah Ali
Sistani. And a big Iraqi delegation is in Iran this week, led by the
prime minister of Iraq’s Kurdish region, Barham Salih, who met with top
Iranian officials, including Ali Larijani, the parliament’s speaker.

What’s not clear is what Sadr has been doing in Iran for four years.
Ostensibly, he was studying to advance in the clerical hierarchy, with
the ultimate goal of becoming an ayatollah, though he’s far too young
and unschooled to achieve that rank soon. According to Babak Rahimi [10],
an Iran analyst, Sadr may been studying under Kazem Haeri, an ayatollah
in Qom, Iran, who’s long been Sadr’s mentor of sorts, or he may have
been studying under ultra-conservative Ayatollah Mohammed-Taqi
Mesbah-Yazdi, the spiritual mentor of President Ahmadinejad, who is the
hardest of hardliners in Iran. The Washington Post cited a Sadr partisan [10]in
Najaf who said that Sadr was studying under a clergyman “close to
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.” In any case, said
Rahimi, Sadr was “trained under someone with hardline influence” and
“therefore he has the backing of Tehran.”

The Tehran Times, a daily tied to the current hardline regime, headlined its coverage of Sadr’s return [11]: “Sadr urges resistance to occupation.” It quoted Sadr urging Iraqis to “reject America.”

In the quotes from Sadr above, it’s clear that he’s holding on to the
possibility of resorting once again to armed force if Maliki strays off
the reservation. Of course, Maliki, too, is close to Iran and doesn’t
want to do anything to incur Iran’s wrath, so American leverage on
Maliki will become less and less as U.S. troops draw down. But it’s
unclear just how powerful Sadr’s militia is at present. The original
Mahdi Army, which was said to have had 60,000 men under arms in
2004-2006, has been dissolved, and it was replaced with a supposedly
more elite force, the Promised Day Brigade, more disciplined and less
likely to engage in the sort of horrific ethnic cleansing and
mass-murder campaigns that Sadr took part in during those years. How
strong, exactly, is the Brigade isn’t known. But Maliki isn’t likely to
want to find out.

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"For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know … what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind. … But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. …

The day President Obama departed for Arizona to address the nation on the Tucson massacre, Washington was abuzz.

Would he take the line of the hard Left and call out the Right for having created what columnist Paul Krugman called the “Climate of Hate” in which a mentally deranged Jared Lee Loughner had acted?

Would he lay moral responsibility for the slaughter at the feet of Fox News and Sarah Palin, as the wilder voices of the Left have been doing nonstop since Saturday’s shocking news?

Obama did the opposite, admonishing his allies as well as critics, “at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do, it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

Again and again, he returned to the theme. “Bad things happen, and we must guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.

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“For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know … what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind. … But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other. …

“If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate … let’s make sure … it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point-scoring and pettiness.” No “lack of civility … caused this tragedy.”

Obama thus cut the ground out from under those exploiting the massacre and attempted murder of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to smear and exact retribution for the crushing repudiation they suffered on Nov. 2.

In one of the finer speeches of his career, Obama realized that, at this hour and in this tragedy, his country yearned to come together on the higher ground of grief for the fallen, celebration of those who behaved bravely and prayerful hope for the wounded.

By rising above “politics and point-scoring and partisanship” in Tucson, the president has recaptured some of the luster he had lost since that January two years ago.

The speech in Tucson confirms what seemed a month ago to be a conscious decision by the president to effect a course correction in his presidency after the “shellacking” in November.

The decisive moment came when the Left was loudly demanding that he fight to the last ditch for repeal of the “Bush tax cuts for the rich,” even if it meant the lame-duck session of Congress ended in a dead-duck session.

Instead, recognizing Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Republicans not only had the votes but the will to block any action in the Senate before the GOP took over the House in January, Obama shoved aside Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and moved to cut a deal with the GOP.

The Republicans got the Bush tax cuts. But Obama got a Social Security payroll tax cut for every worker, an estate tax raised back to 35 percent and another full year of unemployment compensation.

Obama had entered negotiations with a weak hand. But he had emerged with so impressive a deal from his own party’s standpoint that Republican deficit hawks wanted their party to walk away from it, even if it meant all the Bush tax cuts expired on Jan. 1.

After cutting that deal and breaking the logjam, Obama got votes and victories on allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military and on providing billions for the first responders of Sept. 11. He came close to getting a limited amnesty for illegal aliens.


In short, by shouldering Pelosi and Reid aside and taking charge of negotiations with the Republicans himself, Obama not only won a string of victories, he proved bipartisan government could work.

Since then, he has been on a steady ascent in the polls. And, in his choice of new aides like Chicago’s William Daley, brother of the mayor and son of the legend, Obama has signaled that after an era of confrontation on Capitol Hill comes an era of negotiation.

What does this mean for Democrats?

The left wing of the party, for the immediate future, is going to be the “dummy” at the bridge table. Obama is going to play every hand. For this president has been jolted into an awareness that, today, if not in 2008, this is a center-right country, and he and his party have drifted dangerously far out of the mainstream. He is now paddling his own canoe back to the middle of the river, leaving the Left up the creek.

What does it mean for Republicans?

They will not be running in 2012 against a cookie-cutter liberal. For while Sen. Obama may have compiled a voting record to the left of Socialist Bernie Sanders’, this, recall, is a fellow who voted “present” over 100 times on controversial issues in the Illinois Senate.

This is no true believer. This is a survivor. This is a fellow with an almost Nixonian capacity for maneuver.

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"The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives — to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents," Obama said. "And if… their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud."


In Tucson to eulogize the victims of last weekend’s tragic shooting, President Obama somberly called for an end to the political blame game that erupted in the wake of the tragedy and urged Americans not to use it as “one more occasion to turn on each other.”

Instead, Obama told an overflow crowd of more than 14,000 people at the University of Arizona the moment should prompt Americans to step back and reflect on how they lead their own lives and how they deal with one another.

“At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized–at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do–it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds,” Obama said.

Referencing the finger-pointing that has taken place over the last several days, Obama warned of trying to find “simple explanations” in the aftermath. “Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding,” the president said.

The truth, he said, is that “none of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped these shots from being fired or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man’s mind.” (Video courtesy of ABC News)

The emotional high point came early in the speech, as the president drew an exultant cheer from the crowd by breaking from his prepared remarks to announce that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, shot in the attack on Saturday, had opened her eyes for the first time.

“Gabby opened her eyes. So I can tell you, she knows we are here,” Obama said. “And she knows that we love her and she knows that we are rooting for her through what is undoubtedly going to be a difficult journey.” The president spoke shortly after visiting the bedside of  Giffords, who was shot and critically injured while meeting constituents at a Tucson grocery.

Obama also used the speech to return the nation’s focus to the six people who lost their lives last Saturday, noting that they were fulfilling “a central tenet of the democracy envisioned by our founders” by attending the Giffords event.

“The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives — to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents,” Obama said. “And if… their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud.”

In particular, Obama focused on the life of 9-year-old Christina Taylor Green, who was killed at the event. Green, who is the same age as Obama’s youngest daughter, Sasha, attended the event out of her growing curiosity about democracy, the president noted, at times becoming emotional.

He urged Americans to view democracy and their role in the country as Green did in her final days.

“She saw all of this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often take for granted,” Obama said. “I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it.”