Tuesday, October 01, 2013

From Ian:

Douglas Murray: Pretending the Problem Is Not There
Does this mean that all Muslims follow Islam's violent strictures? Of course not. The Koran and sayings of Mohammed contain peaceful, as well as violent, admonitions. A complex battle continues over which interpretation of these texts and traditions should win out, and where and when. It is not only mistaken, but downright untrue, to pretend the problem is not there. The truth that politicians believe we are not ready for is that, although the extremists have a wicked and -- for everyone -- obviously disastrous interpretation of Islam, it is not an implausible interpretation. The extremists do not get where they get to from nowhere. Unfortunately for the politicians, an increasing number of voters can see this.
There are many of the opinion that this problem should be out in the open, discussed and tackled. Not least in order to assist those Muslim scholars who are preaching against the extremists. Many will only jump if they are persuaded that they must in order to safeguard the future of their religion. Rather than apply such pressure, and provide some assistance, our politicians have chosen another way. They have chosen to lie. There are only two ways that lie will stop. When the Islamists prove them wrong more markedly on their own doorstep. Or when popular anger tells the politicians that their lies are transparent. It is interesting to consider which eventuality will be more uncomfortable for them.
Brendan O'Neill: I'm sorry, but we have to talk about the barbarism of modern Islamist terrorism
What motivates this perversity? What are its origins? Unwilling, or perhaps unable, to face up to the newness of this unrestrained, aim-free, civilian-targeting violence, Western observers do all sorts of moral contortions in an effort to present such violence as run-of-the-mill or even possibly a justifiable response to Western militarism. Some say, “Well, America kills women and children too, in its drone attacks”, wilfully overlooking the fact such people are not the targets of America’s military interventions – and I say that as someone who has opposed every American venture overseas of the past 20 years. If you cannot see the difference between a drone strike that goes wrong and kills an entire family and a man who crashes his car into the middle of a group of children accepting sweets from a US soldier and them blows himself and them up – as happened in Iraq in 2005 – then there is something wrong with you. Other observers say that Islamists, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also the individuals who attacked London and New York, are fighting against Western imperialism in Muslim lands. But that doesn’t add up. How does blowing up Iraqi children represent a strike against American militarism? How is detonating a bomb on the London Underground a stab at the Foreign Office? It is ridiculous, and more than a little immoral, to try to dress up nihilistic assaults designed merely to kill as many ordinary people as possible as some kind of principled political violence. (h/t MtTB)
Media Leaks Make Tracking Al Qaeda Terrorists Harder
A report in the New York Times Monday quotes American security experts as saying that recent disclosures about U.S. surveillance of Al Qaeda and other terror groups in the media has caused substantial damage to intelligence-gathering efforts seeking to detect future terror attacks. As a result of the disclosures, terrorists have significantly lowered their use of electronic communications, and as a result the government cannot intercept and analyze their messages.
While some officials attributed at least part of the caution to the revelations by Edward Snowden, who has leaked thousands of sensitive documents to the media – showing how far-reaching the government's surveillance efforts at home and abroad are – a more important factor was the August revelation that the U.S. had intercepted messages between Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the head of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
IDF fires on Palestinians at Gaza border fence
The Palestinian men were spotted near the border fence and initial reports indicated they were both armed. According to the IDF, soldiers in the area opened fire when the Palestinians refused to retreat from the fence after several warnings.
An IDF official told Walla News that the army believed the men were attempting to carry out a terrorist attack on the nearby kibbutz Nir Am, based on the evidence of tampering.
Palestinian Authority has little to show for UN observer-state status
Last year, like other less senior speakers – foreign ministers, prime ministers and the like – Mr. Abbas had been forced to stand meekly beside the great leather arm chair, his left arm pressed against its high back, while waiting to take his turn at the podium. But having his Palestinian Authority (PA) upgraded to the “observer state” of Palestine by a General Assembly vote last November, he was, as head of that state, entitled to the perquisites of high office. Palestine could now join UN agencies and sign treaties, and Mr. Abbas, like the Pope who is head of the Holy See, another non-member observer state, could sit in the big beige chair.
Apart from the first-class seat, however, Palestine has little to show for the UN status that will be a year old next month. The PA, instead, has chosen to bargain for prisoner releases rather than antagonize Israel by moving to capitalize on its new status.
Palestinian refugee killed in Syria, group says
The Workforce for Palestinians in Syria said that Muhannad Ahmad Abu Jrouh, 33, was killed during government shelling on Daraa refugee camp.
In Yarmouk camp, several buildings, including schools, were damaged during shelling, the group said.
The Syrian army has imposed a blockade on the camp for 77 days in a row, and there has been no electricity or fuel in the camp for months.
UN Security Council demanding aid access in Syria
The statement would call for demilitarizing hospitals, schools and residential neighborhoods. It would condemn “increased terrorist attacks resulting in numerous casualties and destruction carried out by organizations and individuals associated with al-Qaeda.”
It will also condemn “the widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities, as well as any human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by armed groups.”
Syrian FM: We Intend to 'Reclaim' the Golan
Speaking at the General Assembly Monday, Muallem made a passing reference to the civil war, before aiming his verbal sword at Syria's neighbor to the south.
“The events in my country do not cause us to lose our way,” Muallem said. “We intend to reclaim the Golan that Israel is occupying.”
Israel, Muallem said, was the cause of most of the trouble in the Middle East, hinting that it was one of the forces behind the “foreign rebels” he and Assad say are attempting to unseat the Syrian leader. He also demanded that Israel give up any weapons of mass destruction it may have.
Say ‘Hi’ to Netanyahu, urges Syrian family outside White House
They were informed that the Israeli prime minister was visiting the White House, and a surprised smile appeared on their faces. “Tell him we say ‘Hi,’” Mohammed, 30, said.
“We want Netanyahu to take Bashar Assad and kill him,” chimed in his wife, Fatima, as she held her son, “because he killed a lot of my people.”
Sunni Muslims, the Alskkas made no effort to conceal the depth of their hatred for the Syrian president. The bloody civil war has hit their hometown of Homs especially hard, they said. Long before they managed to escape, via Saudi Arabia, there was little left of their neighborhood.
Protesters Heckle PM as He Arrives for Obama Meeting
Dozens of anti-Israel protesters greeted Binyamin Netanyahu's entourage as it moved through the streets of Washington, carrying the Prime Minister to a meeting with U.S. President Barack H. Obama. The protesters were expected to remain there for at least as long as the meeting continued.
The protesters carried signs with the usual anti-Israel messages, including “Israel is illegal,” “Israel is an apartheid state,” “Free Palestine now,” and more. The group was also shouting loud anti-Israel slogans. They are not expected to have an impact on the meeting.
Obama assures Netanyahu US will be ‘clear-eyed’ in talks to thwart Iran bomb
Netanyahu, for his part, told the president he appreciated the reiteration of that commitment to stop Iran, and advised that “sanctions should be strengthened” if Iran continues to move ahead toward the bomb. Significantly, Netanyahu demanded the full dismantling of Iran’s “military nuclear” capacity, and made plain that he did not believe President Hasan Rouhani’s assurances that Iran constituted no threat to other nations. Iran, Netanyahu told Obama in their joint media appearance at the Oval Office, remains bent on the destruction of Israel.
The two leaders, who spoke to the media after over an hour of talks, gave the impression of being at ease with each other and closely coordinated. They shook hands more than once; Obama patted Netanyahu on the arm at times; and the Israeli prime minister smiled warmly at the president.
Netanyahu holds his tongue, and will have to hold his fire
The prime minister “is always candid,” Obama vouchsafed just a little wryly at the tail end of his remarks. And one can imagine that Netanyahu was candid indeed behind closed doors, marshaling compelling argument, and evidence, to underpin his public contention that Iran “is committed to Israel’s destruction.”
But ultimately, Netanyahu knew all along that he and Obama would have to agree to disagree, that the president would not be deterred from putting the diplomatic route to the “test,” and that attempting a repeat of his May 2011 Oval Office lecture style (when he told Obama bitterly that Israel’s pre-1967 lines are indefensible) could only be counter-productive. He is certain there is no diplomatic route, only a blind alley, but he held his tongue.
Iran Lawmaker: Tehran Will Not Halt Nuclear Activity
A senior Iranian legislator said Tehran will not stop its nuclear activity, despite international pressure, state news agency Fars reported on Monday.
“Tehran will not accept any kind of suspension or halt and all Iranian nuclear facilities will continue their operation,” said Seyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, rapporteur of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission.
Amid Iran Execution Wave, Anti-Regime Activist Blasts Rouhani Govt As “End of Reform”
Newly inaugurated Iranian president Hassan Rouhani came in for criticism last August when he nominated Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, who then headed Iran’s General Inspectorate Organization, to be his administration’s justice minister. Human rights groups had previously dubbed Pour-Mohammadi “minister of murder” for his key role in the 1988 executions of thousands of dissidents, in the overseas assassinations of political figures, and in the 1988 mass murder of intellectuals. Rouhani himself has a history of calling for the execution of anti-regime activists.
Iran Unhappy with Obama's Words to Netanyahu
Iran’s Foreign Ministry expressed displeasure Tuesday with the statement by US President Barack Obama to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, according to which the “military option” still existed regarding Iran.
“We expect the US government to deal with Iran based on a realistic policy and talk to the great Iranian nation with [a language of] respect,” Ministry Spokesperson Marziyeh Afkham during her weekly press conference in the Iranian capital.
Iranian FM Derides 'Flip-Flopping' Obama via Twitter
One of Iran's top officials may have just damaged hopes of renewed ties with the United States after lashing out at President Barack Obama on Monday, Fox News reported.
Iran's Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, used Twitter to accuse Obama of imposing “illegal” sanctions on his country, an argument he has repeatedly made, and of doing a “flip flop.” That was an apparent reference to the president meeting Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Iran’s bitter enemy.
When Rouhani told an undercover Israeli envoy how to deal with Iran
"In August 1986, in the midst of what would become the Iran-Contra Affair, an Israeli adviser to the prime minister, working undercover as a US envoy, met with Hasan Rouhani, the current president of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Rouhani, in discussing ways to facilitate the release of seven US hostages then being held in Lebanon, gave the Israeli the following advice: “First and foremost, you have to be firm with [Iranian leader Ayatollah] Khomeini. Stand strongly before him… If you don’t bare sharp teeth before Khomeini, you’re going to have troubles all over the world. [But] if you threaten him with military force, he’ll kiss your hand and run.”
US concerned about Turkey's choice of Chinese missile system
The United States said on Saturday it had expressed serious concerns to Turkey over its decision to co-produce a long-range air and missile defense system with a Chinese firm under US sanctions.
Turkey, a member of the NATO military alliance, announced this week that it had chosen the FD-2000 missile defense system from China Precision Machinery Import and Export Corp, or CPMIEC, over rival systems from Russian, US and European firms.


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