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Total number of comments: 100 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:52)

Saf

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  • Allen West: ‘Radical’ Muslims waging ‘jihad’ in U.S. — by voting and obeying election laws
    • Steve Israel's comment should be modified and instead state:

      "To a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by every type of right-wing bigotry imaginable"

  • 5 Ways Nevada Rancher Militia Resembles Pakistan's Taliban
    • I so wish it were just about as simple as opposing the Federal govt/military, about autonomy, taxes, resources, alone with the Pak Taliban.

      But the TTP is an umbrella organization for all kinds of ethnic Sunni extremist militant groups, despite the dominating Pashtun makeup and strategic tribal location. Its a religious-political movement, with national and regional ambitions, rather than simply being a local ethnic tribal issue alone, or even about freedom from the state or revenge against it. What compounds it is also the Alice in Wonderland relationships between all manners of pro or anti-Pak militants and the duplicitous Pak govt/military establishment.

      Even if the questionable reasons of grievances of the Pak Taliban's violence above were accepted at face value, its still quite a stretch to compare with the Nevada US militia, violence wise, though I'm aware there's a history of right-wing radical extremism that may just be waiting to burst into violence and terrorism today. Also worrying is the sympathizing sentiments from some US media, personalities and common folks, which reminds of the common Pakistani's conspiracy, denials and delusions. Still not at that level though with anything in Pakistan...

  • Human Rights Abuses grow in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
    • HRW and their prejudiced criticism...pffft...according to our 'moral' Canadian PM, Stephen Harper, during his rock star tour of Israel with host and buddy Netanyahu , they're anti-Semites....well he didn't say that exactly per say...it's more like new age sort of anti-Semitism.

  • Dubai Calls for End to Iran Sanctions, Says no Nuclear Threat
    • Ahmedinejad was always a prejudicial loon (out of all national priorities, spouting holocaust denial and 9/11 conspiracies as part as your foreign policy?), but outright insane monster (state abuse crimes on cracking down on Green movement withstanding) he was not.

      Abu Dhabi may not be happy with the statement.

      But Dubai has always been more pragmatic and diplomatic in their approach to Iran due to the local Dubai Emirati citizens of Iranian descent, a relatively larger Iranian expat community and their historic cultural and economic ties.

      However, doubt the recent rise of discriminatory visa denial and deportation of new and very old resident Shia expats (apart from the crackdown of suspected Sunni Islamist locals and expats by the Emirati thought police) based on their 'security assessments' will cease.

  • False Nostalgia: The Original Fallujah Campaign Destabilized Iraq
    • Just a note, the proper and more accurate word is 'sectarian cleansing' rather than 'ethnic cleansing'.

      The Shia on Sunni violent massacre on some mixed populated neighbourhoods, urban and rural, came after a successful campaign and attempts of igniting a sectarian civil war by Al Qaeda and Sunni extremists.

      They rode on perpetual Sunni anger, like de-Bathification (but who also imposed on and attacked other Sunni Iraqis or mixed public places and other minorities), bombing civilian Shia populations and holy places - like the Al Askari mosque in Samarra in 2006.

      It was the last straw for Shia militias (regardless of Sistani's call for restraint, calm and unity, who continued to try to prevent sectarian attacks by a a Shia majority who had angry sentiments of being oppressed by a Sunni minority, or Sadr's claim for calm), based on the insurgents own initial and continuing sectarian cleansing program against the majority Shias, which the Sunni minority, if not Sunni world, have still not reconciled with since their loss of power and fond attachment to Saddam Hussein.

      After the brutal atrocity of broadly and indiscriminately targeting Sunni neighbourhood residents, like in Samarra (where the Al Askari mosque stands), which had a Sunni majority despite being the centre of Shia'ism, highlighting a somewhat peaceful arrangement of co-existence historically but now shattered by retributive Shia extremists. However, overall terrorist bombings, committed by then active Sunni insurgents mostly, subsided soon after that event which implied that they were indeed present and found sanctuary among those neighbourhoods.

      Then there was also the US surge and the tribal, and relatively nationalistic, Sunni Awakening Councils elsewhere expelling extremist Sunni insurgents in their midst, who were welcomed earlier and a part of their resistance against the US and Shia-led govt, but realized the greater harm those militants imposed and committed on all Iraqis, including themselves.

      Another travesty on Fallujah was the uranium shells that the residents were bombarded with and exposed to by the US. Children there are still born with serious deformities, apart from the trauma of the invasion, and perhaps much worse than the deterioration of children's health, greater in number across Iraq, experienced under previous sanctions of the 90's. Generations have suffered.

      More deplorable that the Maliki govt hushes it up, refuses to acknowledge the crime just to keep relations with the US, and is viewed as symbolically continuing Shia sectarian discrimination and marginalization of Sunnis. They would not be wrong in assuming he's not a PM for all Iraqis.

  • Pakistani Boy who Tackled, Thwarted School Bomber Honored
    • The top cop of Karachi, Chaudry Aslam, who took on the Taliban, was recently and finally assassinated by the TTP in usual spectacular bombing fashion. Its suspected the suicide bomber was a young recruit who was a son of some local imam. While there's some progress in recent months by security forces and the govt in reducing the number of terrorist attacks, the future still looks bleak.

      Hangu has been a flashpoint for all types of sectarian and terrorist violence for years. Hangu has been wrecked by the presence of foreign, such as the Haqqanis, and local Sunni/Salafi/Wahhabi/Deoband extremist militants, which our security establishment dismissed earlier as a 'tribal issue', downplaying the sectarian flashpoint and presence of the Haqqanis whom they protect/favour, when in truth its been an invasion of the Taliban and a good number of brainwashed Bangash Sunni tribesmen joined them, committing attacks on their own Shia Bangash tribe members, who took refuge from the mostly Shia Turi tribe who opposed the Taliban, themselves being strangulated by their offensives, but when they fought back and had the Taliban on the ropes, they were eventually sabotaged by the Pak army and forced into a peace deal, chief among them the Afghan Haqqanis.

      Before Aitzaz Hassan's sacrifice, Hangu only received attention recently, but only in regards to protesting against the Haqqanis being targeted and killed in a drone strike. There was a great outcry by certain religious and political groups about that attack, literally going as far as registering cases, but no such outcry or registration was seen against the myriad of terrorist attacks earlier on the residents or against the extremists, including the Haqqanis, roaming around.

      Unlikely anyone's going to step up to the plate and stop the murderous ideology of the militants, for whom some politicians want to open an embassy for. Folks will praise the young heroic martyr, deservedly so, as he saved countless of children at his school, but really there have been too many Pakistani children who already have been targeted victims or martyred before and the lack of seriousness by the leadership, if not population collectively, in tackling the violent radicalism continues.

  • Fallujah Tribes broker extremist withdrawal deal to forestall Gov't invasion
    • While Al-Maliki is an abusive idiot in how he handled the situation in Iraq, creating a sectarian rift with discrimination, marginalization and brutality, it's a bit difficult to have trust and reconcile with a belligerent population, that make the Awakening Councils look like an exception, as compared to other non-Sunni populations, except for the ethnic Kurds, that so easily gets charged up with sectarian rage, identifying and outright excusing and supporting Al Qaeda, or Al Qaeda ideology, with such violent tactics of cleansing other groups and burning their own world with numerous terrorist bombings for their own gain, something overlooked in the article.

      I'm not surprised by the deal and degree of the relationship. Reminds me a bit like Pak's army being able to have some extremist militants toe the line in some regions due to their religious political affinity, regardless of what havoc they may unleash on unimportant unsuspecting local and foreign populations, particularly those of different ethnic/sectarian backgrounds, while still retaining such extremists for their own nationalistic discretion on real or imagined perceived/delusional threats, despite how detrimental it is to everyone else or self-sabotaging.

  • "It's all Right to Make Fun of the Government": Bassem Youssef (Egypt's Jon Stewart)
    • Most serious that I've seen him. But even without the satire he's right and on point...

  • The Iraqization of Egypt: Two Large Bombs Rock Security Bldg in Mansoura, kill 14, wound 130
    • I really don't agree with the Iraqi equivalence, when there's such a strong sectarian undercurrent and differences in the systematic majority-minority democratic dynamics of exclusion in the new Iraq, being worse beforehand with a Sunni minority tyrant Saddam Hussein in the old Iraq (no where close to facing anything like the 'seeing the world burn' insanity in today's Iraq from the Shiite population, despite the US instability and wreckage, as compared to the Sunni population), compared to outright in your face authoritarianism over religious fascists from the same sectarian tribe.

      If this were the case of simply marginalization then Canada would be as guilty as Iraq or Egypt, when they list Sunni Islamist extremism, particularly of the Wahhabi and Salafi kind, as its number one domestic and foreign terrorist threat. Wouldn't the justification of this radicalization be applied to the monarchistic autocratic Saudi Wahhabi regime as well on their population?

      Or consider Pakistan, with a Sunni majority, whether under a military dictatorship or a democratic civilian setup (regardless of how corrupt or autocratic either can be) suffering from mostly Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Ahl-e-hadith/Sunni extremist attacks and, admittedly, blowback, which they used and exploited for their interests (Afghanistan) or against their neighbours (India), but has affected the local non-Sunni (Ahmedi, Christians, Shias, etc) Pakistani minorities the most. And claiming the rise is simply due to US imperialism next door, and supposed Pak establishment betrayal, is a cop out, when such radical violence existed with multiple bombings in 2000 alone, and the previous decades.

      Consider the same intensity, if not greater, vindictive actions of minority or majority Sunni hegemonies against their non-Sunni counterparts, be it Arab and non-Arab. It will simply not gather the same violent destructive ideological responses as we see in Egypt or Iraq or Pakistan, etc.

      Even when the MB were showing their own fascist tendencies and marginalization of Egypt's minorities, this wouldn't be considered as a 'normal' reaction by the Copts, but yet we continue to make exceptions for the ideological radicalization and crisis among the Sunni populations.

  • US, UK suspend Aid to Syrian "Moderates" as Fundamentalists Grab Western Supplies
    • The first paragraph was meant to be in quotes. Its taken from the above article, rephrased from Irish Times' Michael Jansen. I think its acknowledged in that article that they're an umbrella group. Regardless of their makeup, one stream of funding and backing is from Saudi Arabia. Its possible they have other streams that include both govt and private funding from Kuwait, Qatar, Europe, etc.

      I don't think political and logistics is the only dimension that played in their decision from splitting from SNC, and it would seem like Saudi Arabian meddling of weakening the SNC opposition's standing.

      No one claimed that the other Al Qaeda aligned groups make up their ranks. But it is being alleged that they ran a joint operation with those hardline groups and possibly cleansing of minority Syrian citizens as stated above in the article. Regardless of 'convenience', it would imply a religo-sectarian political dimension and extremism rather than moderation or Saudi Arabia's questionable 'control' over such groups. Its kind of splitting hairs trying to distinguish some of Islamic Front's supposed 'moderate' groups who continued aligned with the extreme groups under the same umbrella, especially with the latest incident.

    • A video to a chilling interview by the BBC with a French jihadist, who claimed 'they were all Al Qaeda' as far as goals were concerned (though differed in their levels of brutalities or extremism).

      He left because his Islamist rebel group allied with ISIS, which he found too hardcore even for him.

      link to bbc.co.uk

    • the Islamic Front is funded and organized by Saudi Arabia. Its moderate bona fides were brought into question on Thursday when its fighters joined the Jabhat al-Nusra in killing 15 civilians from the Shiite Alawite and Druze minorities

      A religious political militant group backed by the Saudi Arabian fundamentalist regime being 'moderate'? Maybe that was just relative to the religious extremist credentials of the Al Qaeda groups. Or probably confused by the recent backing of non-religious fascists in Egypt.

      Regardless, the revolution and FSA have been wrecked thanks to them...

  • United States, Israel opposed Mandela, supported Apartheid
    • Canada was not part of that bloc, and with Brian Mulroney as PM, were actually the ones leading and spearheading the fight against apartheid in the Common Wealth, supporting Nelson Mandela.

      link to news.nationalpost.com

      The history is worth a read. Wish that sort of proud principal or courage existed with today's Canadian govt.

  • Souad Nawfal forced to flee after jihadist threats
  • Sunni-Shiite Tensions soar in Lebanon; Hizbullah accuses Saudis in Iran Embassy Bombing
    • I'm surprised Nasrullah came out bluntly and said that (though someone needed to point out the obvious that one Sunni extremist militant group or another were involved, most likely linked to Syria's conflict, or that Saudi Arabia were still ideologically and financially responsible for most Salafist terrorist movements globally). Glad there wasn't the Israeli blame delusion (in this embassy case), but Nasrullah comes off as perhaps the worst figure to raise such a problematic sectarian issue considering their questionable handling and role in the Syrian conflict.

      Certainly a contrast to how Iran approached the embassy terrorist attack earlier by brushing the uncomfortable sectarian issue aside and prejudicially blaming Israel, usually the most ridiculous way to demonize the culprits, or how far the Iranian FM can at best just start to articulate in generalizations the global threat of sectarianism to the media without naming names.

      The assassination accusation against Israel may evolve into a rumours of a conspiracy joint Saudi and Israeli intelligence operation, or perhaps the West. Regardless folks in Lebanon are worried about their insecurity and threats they're facing.

    • Finding the Pakistani sectarian harmony delusional rhetoric here feels quite embarrassing.

      The author is a professor of history, particularly on the ME region. His usually sound analysis is based from journalistic reports there, which reflects a growing harsh reality of regional sectarianism, which you are unfortunately uneasy about and in denial, hence wrongly dubbing it as 'fake journalism'.

  • NSA monitored visits of "Radicalizers" to Chat Rooms, Skin Sites to Discredit Them
    • Unfortunately, Canada is in on it, and are not only aiding the NSA, such as knowing about the snooping in the G20 summit, may also be betraying Canadian citizens' privacy rights to the US, as seen with those who are being denied entry by US custom and border agents into the US based on shared Canadian police incidents and even citing private medical history.

      Top spy won't answer questions about G20 surveillance
      link to cbc.ca

      Woman denied entry to U.S. after border agent cites ‘private’ medical details
      link to metronews.ca

      Canadians with mental illnesses denied U.S. entry - Data entered into national police database accessible to American authorities: WikiLeaks
      link to cbc.ca

    • I'm actually surprised it was only 6 'radicalizers' globally they targeted for discrediting, taken from Sunni extremist communications. Though it is worrisome how far they could take it, such as against any intellectual critic about the US government, which apparently has happened such as with the Professor here and there's been no accountability.

      While none had direct links to terrorism, the two who were being 'shamed' or the reputation tarnished by the NSA for their web activities or habits, one of them had been charged for inciting hatred against non-Muslims, and the other was promoting Al Qaeda propaganda, which I presume is a call to violence in both cases. These would venture into hate crimes rather than mere thought crimes.

      link to bbc.co.uk

  • Does Syria Stalemate Benefit Baath Regime?
    • They shouldn't feel at ease.

      Some Islamist rebel groups have formed a merger.

      And some Al Qaeda linked ones just took over an oil field. This is a blow for the regime in regards to keeping the military machine running for the Assad regime which can only now rely on outside oil.

  • Syrian Civil War Spreads to Lebanon: Beirut Shaken by Iran Embassy Blast, kills 23, wounds 150
    • "and blamed Israel for the blast. This allegation is silly and the Iranian diplomats know it, but it has the virtue for them of allowing them to avoid slamming Sunnis, the community from which the actual culprits hail."

      Its a ridiculous habit which only serves to obfuscate and deflect the matter, instead of honestly addressing the taboo religo-political Sunni-Shia sectarian tensions or Sunni Islamist militancy.

      Prejudiced conspiratorial delusional demonizing and excuses aren't harmless and there's no virtue in it. It only propagates ignorance that misguides the masses and fans the flames of irrational bigotry elsewhere, making sure there's no debate, accountability, reform and the actual culprits remain off the hook. Lies are repeated so often its possible some Iranian officials probably do buy into it and rationalize it with unfounded indirect links. This narrative ultimately ends up only being detrimental for themselves. It stops them from introspecting their own role in Syria and their actual real local threats in the region against them which differs from fixed perceived or assumed dogmatic biased ones.

      Thought they had at least evolved in naming such terrorist attackers as 'takfiris' and the FO considered sectarianism as a top global threat. Apparently not.

  • Our Gasoline thirst fuels Mideast Fundamentalism, Violence - EVs are the Answer
    • "Iran also uses its oil income to promote Khomeinism, an intolerant form of Shiite Islam, in places like Lebanon, Iraq and Pakistan."

      I'd describe it as a political or even radical form, and while such conservatism has been problematic and shows a level of sect/religious/political intolerance (see the Rushdie outrage and exploitation, anti-US resentment and conspiracies), I would not necessarily call what was promoted or exported to the either minority or suppressed Shia populations in these countries outright 'intolerant' (despite Iran's own local abuses against other individuals or groups), nor as something comparable or akin to the hateful Wahhabi/Salafi form of Sunni Islam against other Muslim or non-Muslim sects, individuals and states.

  • Take that, France: Iran has Halted Expansion of Nuclear Facilities: IAEA
    • I just hope the media here picks up the positive developments rather than repeating untrue obstructionist hawkish views about the nuclear program, be it from France, US, Canada, etc.

      Iran seems to be setting their priorities in order and been smart about their PR, even when they called out Kerry's contradictory and false remarks, from what was reported, of why the negotiations stalled.

      With Rouhani's team, I think the shift in Iran's outlook is showing and the US, and other nations such as the UK, are receiving it pragmatically. Besides the need to undo the stifling sanctions, the main driver maybe the geo-political concerns in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, which includes the rivalries with Saudi Arabia and Israel, than just the nukes itself. The Iranian Foreign Minister made a particularly interesting statement about sectarianism being a global threat, highlighting a concern which they may have finally realized that's greater than their US and Israel fixation and not worth the isolation, concepts which were lost with the previous Ahmadinejad admin.

  • "Off the Charts": Deadliest Storm in History Kills 1200, Displaces Millions in Philippines
  • Top Reasons Israel's Likud Really Opposes an Iran Nuclear Deal
    • Canada's conservative right wing govt's foreign minister John Baird penned an article against Iran recently as well, following the pro-Israel pressure, ironically under the guise of human rights mostly. Iran's foreign minister didn't take too kindly to it who correctly noted Canada's unhelpful hostility and hypocrisy.

      link to cbc.ca

  • Ms. Marvel and the Rise of the Muslim Superhero in America
    • The confusion over Captain Marvels is common, due to past copyrights. The lightning insignia is similar to Shazaam!(The original Captain Marvel, DC's), however that lightning costume was adopted much later on by Ms Marvel and no one's claimed if it was inspired or linked.

      I don't think South Asian based names as opposed to Arab, or even Persian, names would necessarily tell one how conservative or secular a Pakistani family could be if they had named their daughter Kamala Khan as opposed to a Ayesha Khan.

      The character's family will be portrayed as traditional or conservative though, with the brother especially right-wing, who may either be setup as someone who'll turn around eventually or end up being her nemesis. Can see how there'll be a good deal of national, religious, ethnic stereotypes touched on here on top of the feminist contrasts of former and current Ms Marvels.

      There were male Muslim superhero characters in both DC and Marvel comics, though she maybe the first in the Marvel line to have her own title and the first Muslim female to have her own major mainstream comic title.

      A Lebanese American held the Green Lantern title not too long ago, but I guess he wasn't a permanent replacement for Hal Jordan nor had any conservative leanings. There was a French-Algerian superhero versed in Parkour who was part of Batman Inc, which drove Islamophobes nuts when discovered, though I don't know what his leanings were. There was an Afghan Muslim conservative female superhero, codenamed Dust, who was part of one of the X-men groups (New Mutants?) too. There were Indian origin characters, a part sentinel heroine and a mutant expert female scientist, who were part of the X-men comics too. Been a long time...!

  • Israelis plan new Colonies, Oil Drilling, on Palestinian Land during "Peace Talks"
    • The US has been back rebuilding ties, massaging on 'enduring relationship' and promising to protect the Arab world/regimes, such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, etc, presumably against Iran and their own citizens/subjects, but it seems none of it is extended towards Palestine or the Palestinians, and Israel will forever be king. The 2 state solution or Palestinian cause seems dead...

  • The American Genocide Against Iraq: 4% of Population Dead as result of US sanctions, wars
    • There was just so much stupidity and so much wrong done too long to list. Accountability for war crimes and the deaths could go a long way (which should also include non-US individuals and states). But no way that'll happen. Nixon was a one time thing.

      The hypocritical liberators claim was not going to fly with those in the region who remembered the sanctions that were slapped on earlier that killed thousands of Iraqi kids. Still, the Sunni radical insurgency was and still is insane.

      Another consequence was that Afghanistan, 'the just war' for 9/11, was abandoned...again.

  • US Drone strikes Continue in Pakistan despite PM Nawaz Sharif's UN Protest (Serle)
    • To add, there were past militant terrorist (bombings, grenades and firing) attacks (ignoring systematic discrimination and violent hate mobs, also on the rise) on Pakistani Christians (and other Pakistanis) which all pre-date drones (2005), though did rise after the Afghan invasion, but even before the invasion, Christians were still easy targets for whatever hateful grievance, such as in early 2001.

      link to en.wikipedia.org

      Pakistan suffers from local and foreign religio-political Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Ahle-hadith/Sunni extremist militancy, most of it of our own making for geo-political goals over Afghanistan and India. So these demented excuses do not fly, but unfortunately are regurgitated by denialist or conspiratorial right-wing religious nationalist Pakistanis who are quite apologetic of Sunni Islamists.

      Jundullah earlier committed massacres of Shia bus passengers in Gilgit-Baltistan. The sectarian violence by Sunni militants is decades old and pre-dates drones - so drones are not their primary shtick, nor did they mention it in that attack. Jundullah also targeted the foreign tourists in Gilgit-Baltistan. The latter operation a joint venture coordinated with TTP who happily took credit. While there is an embedded link to an article skeptical of TTP's denial, I think it's important to highlight their association in text exposing their dishonesty. What also should be noted is that TTP condoned the attack outright on the church despite denying its involvement. There should be no delusion...all these extremist militant groups are inter-linked one way or another, despite whatever factional rivalry, and have myriad of excuses for their twisted violence with drones just being a newer charged motivator.

      Also note Ansar-ul-Mujahideen also had earlier committed an anti-Shia sectarian massacre up north claiming revenge for Syria before the Peshawar blast. Again, anti-Shia sectarian extremism and terrorism pre-dates the Syrian conflict as well, besides the Afghan war. Drones are just another insane excuse.

  • Sakharov Prize-winner Malala Yousafazai Calls on US Gov't to Conduct talks with Taliban (Queally)
    • I suppose if there was no apartheid, we wouldn't have 'unfortunately' heard of Nelson Mandela winning a Nobel...grumble. Whoever are behind in rightly raising her status as a heroine (luckily for her BBC, UK), are clearly more grateful than her very own petty countrymen.

      The controversy is among the right wing religious nationalist Pakistani mindsets, who are more embarrassed and resentful about her fame and the West praising her, and come out looking like sympathizers to the Taliban (which sadly more than half are) because they refuse to acknowledge and remain in denial of a symbolic moment, simply out of spite.

      And that is it...the Taliban DID take over a settled area of Pakistan, that is Swat valley, as Pakistan looked on, and hence we heard of Malala. The Pakistani govt and public did not take this extremist threat to education seriously, and continues to not do so, even more evident by the lack of expenditure on education, and instead of acknowledging these failures resort to deflective conspiracies and ridiculous rhetoric whose priorities seem to be focused on disliking anything and everything but the issue of extremists, highlighting a mental disconnect between reality and perception.

      If there was consensus on the issue on education, then Pak wouldn't have cut a deal with the Talibs in the first place and let them walk in Swat, which indeed was a huge catastrophic event and not merely 'politics' in speaking out against it.

      Should Pakistan be thankful for the Taliban for making it famous and notorious as the epicenter of global terrorism? She was already famous before the Taliban despicably shot her and made her even more famous. Instead of resenting it and dismissing it, being emotional, perhaps energy is better spent in introspecting on what's so wrong with Pak where such ideological backwardness is becoming easily excused by its population.

    • This is like repeating most right-wing Pakistanis talking points who are more steeped in denial, conspiracy and resentment of how the West reacts positively to her than acknowledging her brave and noble act, being a lucky survivor, or the crisis of local extremism.

      It's correct that there are millions of children worldwide who are maimed and disfigured and killed, and of course you focused on the drones and not on the terrorist attacks, because one has an American and British label, while the other does not. So what makes her different?

      It starts with a popular diary blog she bravely documented for the BBC, and yes she got the opportunity and exposure due to her educated father's connections that most other unfortunate Pakistani children do not have, during the takeover of Swat by extremist Taliban (which is a different reality than the drones and are the instigators who have prompted this type of warfare), a settled area of Pakistan. She became locally famous later on, receiving even govt recognition, as her cute school girl grace impressed those who were lucky enough to view her through their living room TVs outside of Swat, though not much interest in the general public except after the attack on her.

      Ironically what rocketed her to the top was the fact that she, a school girl who spoke for education and against extremism including the Taliban, was targeted for an assassination by the TTP, who have no short supply of local excusers, sympathizers and apologists who do not take extremism or education seriously, but too were taken aback by the depravity of the TTP who openly targeted, SPECIFICALLY (which I'm sure drone strikes do not do), a school girl (as opposed to politicians and security officials and their families, or minorities, etc), rather than just simply bombing a public place full of faceless random schools or school children as before (a yawn for the Pakistani public).

      I would hope folks would realize the symbolic significance of the attack itself and what it highlighted and not get distracted, obsessed and focused on what they perceive is the hypocrisy of the host nations, ignoring the honest brutal realities of a lack of education and rising extremism in Pakistan, if not globally, which seems to be so easily ignored. There are many worthy candidates and heroes and heroines. But this mattered a lot, especially for a nation that is literally losing and in denial, and not surprising the hateful backlash.

  • Day of Division in Middle East: Bloody Clashes in Egypt, Iraq
    • I'll have to disagree with the 'violent sectarianism being a tragic consequence of the invasion'.

      Sectarian oppression has been around for quite some time, and such tensions existed under Saddam and the region's Sunni hegemony, and it really needs to be addressed. It just happened that Iraq's vacuum after Saddam's controlled state, due to an unjustified and ill-conceived invasion, became a rallying call for such extremist ideologues who were always likely to justify their intolerance one way or another.

      Pakistan is a clear case for decades of sectarianism, and that is a country with a majority Sunni population that is battling (or sometimes accommodating) foreign Wahhabi/Salafi/Sunni jihadists and local Deoband/Ahl-e-hadith/Sunni Islamist insurgents who target the minority non-Sunni populations such as Shias or Christians, but are now somewhat overall suffering a blowback with the Afghanistan invasion and seeing it pro-longed due to self-sabotage.

      If we were talking about any other non-Sunni group being marginalized, let's say Shias or Christians in the ME or Pakistan, the expectations of such a destructive violent backlash would not be as assumed. Such acts only feeds into the cycle of violence for those in power who want to retaliate. It really does become difficult and taxing to try to appease such self-perpetuating ideological outrage.

      Even faraway Canada lists religio-political Sunni Islamist extremism of the Wahhabi/Salafi kind as its number one domestic or foreign threat. At some point we have to realize that there is an ideology that is dangerously growing, supplanting and being adopted culturally by certain populated segments.

  • Is Hamas Finished? Facing a Youth Rebellion and Egyptian, Iranian Hostility
    • Hamas initially looked like it would gain from the Arab spring, but is losing out.

      I think Qatar's recent patronage of Hamas, which included a move of Hamas's office there (due to Syria's conflict) and financial aid, should have been touched on in the analysis above.

      I don't know what's happened in their ties since Morsi's overthrow.

  • Top Ten things Americans need to Know about Syria if they're going to Threaten to Bomb It
    • The Syrian balkanization map shows a Druze sector. I don't think I've heard of any news or analysis specifically referring to the Syrian Druze, not sure why.

      I usually find the statistics cited for the Sunni population size to be no less than 70% and above.

      Besides a strangled political and economic situation creating such an environment, some credit should be given to the hi-tech Arab Spring (and the original architects, the Tunisians) for pushing the envelope and starting a trend.

      Syrians stood up after the momentous changes in Egypt's and Libya's revolutions. The reason Syria's protests, encouraged by other Arab democratic revolutionaries elsewhere, were slower and delayed (even protests in Gulf Arab countries, such as Bahrain, were earlier) was due to such incredible fear (compared to Egyptians who did fear but still had room to be surprisingly vocal) and oppression by Assad's regime.

      And in regards to Colonial France's handling of Syria, I think this BBC article sums up some of the divide and rule history well.

      Why there is more to Syria conflict than sectarianism
      link to bbc.co.uk

  • How Putin Saved Obama, Congress and the European Union from Further Embarrassing themselves on Syria
    • Wish this sort of protest was around before the Iraq war invasion. Though the operations suggested for Syria are limited, their fears on who may benefit may not necessarily be unfounded.

      Just a casual look on some of the stories about the different oppositions in the BBC leaves little room for optimism either ways.

      Syria hostage Domenico Quirico 'treated like animal'
      link to bbc.co.uk

      Hidden struggle among Syria's rebels
      link to bbc.co.uk

      Syrians' resentment at Western delay
      link to bbc.co.uk

    • There are many interesting developments here that's emerged from the so-called life-line from the Russians to the US/EU, besides their own divisions and relief.

      I liked the comment about Ed Miliband's possible historic role. But another comment about Turkey's AKP's reaction and Middle Eastern client-states' behaviours maybe most meaningful here on out.

      The ball has been kicked out of the Western court and into their's...Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan will certainly not settle here and probably raise the stakes one way or another...

  • How US Grand Strategy in Syria led to the idea of Missile Strikes
    • The countries that form the Sunni bloc, Saudi Arabia (act
      like pro-US moderates, at the end still fundamentalist
      Wahhabis), Qatar (regional monarchy playing both sides of the fence, be it with the US or the Taliban), Jordan (same
      prejudiced alarmist sectarian sentiments as most Sunnis on a
      Shia crescent, yet plagued with Salafists itself) and Turkey
      (despite secularism, its Sunni Islamist AKP never hid its
      Salafist fascination), mucked up the revolution with their past and current support and sympathies to Sunni/Salafi/Wahhabi extremist groups as well as hypocritical authoritarianism and brutalities against other sect/ethnic uprisings. You'd hope Turkey would have had the most sense, but apparently they see no wrong in unleashing Al Nusra on Syrian Kurds.

      They prejudiced global opinion against the opposition (even dulling my own support against Assad, to now fearing them more instead), who were mostly made up of local Syrian Sunnis, and some Syrian non-Sunnis, legitimately standing up for their humanitarian rights in a revolution against a sick brutal regime (So it doesn't excuse Iran for siding with Assad's govt. They could have helped facilitate another leader or group early on with a good Alawite-Shia minority power share, despite a hostile Sunni regional opposition).

      Supporting sectarian Sunni extremists like Al Qaeda violent
      ideologues will come back to bite and haunt not just them, but everyone else globally. Not that outside support wasn't needed for Syrians, but currently there is a reality and crisis of ideological radicalization among the Sunni community, who are more susceptible compared to other communities, particularly when it comes to conflicts with sectarian overtones, which threatens non-Sunni communities, such as Christians or Alawites (clearly the Shabihah militant types have shown their twisted side, but chances of them wanting a global ideological rule 10 years down the line or persisting on taking down imperialists is unlikely).

      The US really can't sort this out, whose own past dubious actions, 80's to 2000's Afghanistan and Iraq, weigh it down. Do not know why Canada is cheerleading them into a war which may make things worse for all parties concerned, when Canada itself is staying out, despite its anti-Assad stance viewed via an Israel centric policy, but identifies Sunni Islamist
      extremists of the Wahhabi/Salafi kind as its number one threat.

  • Can you Pass the Qatar Quiz? (Rudolph)
    • Informative and well explained FAQs. Thanks for the link to their site. Would have liked to know what the thinking and reactions were of the Qatari rulers and people when the Neo-con led US govt declared Al Jazeera as an enemy during the WoT coverage, going as so far as the US army targeting their journalists, while simultaneously Qatar helped them with its war operations and invasions.

      It seemed a bit comical, like a ridiculous man getting angry with a critical sock puppet attached to someone's hand he considers a great friend.

  • Former Iranian President Slams Syria for Gassing own People: Sign of deep Divisions in Tehran
    • Regardless of the Iran-Syria historic relationship in an otherwise hostile Sunni Arab region, Iran probably realizes they are on the wrong by backing Bashar Al Assad.

      But their fear of the Salafi/Wahabi/Sunni jihadist led opposition has made them awfully desperate in keeping those links alive. The fear of the opposition is understandable, which Iraqis and Lebanese share too, but opposing the rebels shouldn't mean siding or backing a brutal sick regime.

      Iran's priority in having access to the Shia South Lebanese population and vice versa for each other's support, is one thing, but Iran has got to let go of this Israel-Palestinian fixation go.

      However, the way the US is approaching this with a strike, considering their questionable past actions and narrowed views, is not helping.

  • Iraqi Government Rejects US Strike on Syria, Fears Civil War
    • There were more bomb attacks in Baghdad targeting mostly Shia areas.

      link to bbc.co.uk

      Iraq has good reason to be worried about more organized attacks from local and foreign extremist Sunni militants. They view a US strike as ultimately helping Al Qaeda type organizations.

  • Obama goes to Congress on Syria as his International Support Collapses
    • Belgium were alarmed by reports that some of their citizens were recruited by jihadists for Syria. I think that was the deciding factor in their stance.

      I like to see whether or not that undermining US intelligence about a rogue Colonel comes out in the Congress debate, which would be surprising if it did. Though, I think it may not be a strong arguing point against military action even if it was disclosed.

  • Gulf Arab Press divided on Syria Strike (OSC)
    • Is Al Basri claiming the frequent blasts in Iraq are by Iran rather than Sunni insurgents and extremists? If so, its absurd conspiracist denialism and bias.

      Overall, interesting commentaries. Hopefully in the future there'll be more independent Gulf dailies that aren't pro-govt or have to have ties to ruling parties. It'll take some time.

  • Invoking International Law Against Obama: Old Europe, New Europe and NeoCon Fail
    • Yea, just recently read up on him. Unfortunate he's still contributing, even on CNN, clearly looking forward to some higher ratings due to the war talk and coverage.

      Can't imagine the Lebanese Shi'ite community being pleased with a Neo-con war monger, considering the history on Iraq, tensions there and their own different views and interests.

      How does his relatives feel when he supports actions, like the 2006 Israeli attack, that harms their real estates...let alone their lives? Or are they and their holdings in a different part of the country?

    • I'd add that there needs to be accountability on Iraq all the way to the 80's. At least the UK held an inquiry. It was quite hypocritical to hear Obama on accountability in Syria when there was none for the US. And casting the UNSC aside, when they've used and abused their procedures themselves before.

      Syrians on all sides are suffering. I'm not making a case for military intervention even though I want Assad gone, because its messy and driven by preconceived notions, false assumptions and self-interests, and yes, it'll be the minorities who will suffer most, because it will inadvertently support the now jihadist lead opposition, unless there's a plan to fight them too and contain it (which seems impossible). However, if you're vehemently against Assad and know how dire it is, refusing an attack by the US is significant in those terms.

      I agree, it was unrealistic to back the rebels so quickly like Libya, considering the sectarian factors (the fear of Wahhabi/Salafi/Sunni extremists looms large on the collective Global Community's mind. Saudis and Qataris should not have been allowed a free hand in promoting it, ruining a revolutionary movement that would not have been overwhelmingly Sunni) and proximities of different militant backgrounds (Shia Iran and Lebanon's Hezbollah siding with a rare sect friendly Arab regional ally but is also a brutal regime, that could be replaced by another against them). Hindsight, I suppose, on what could have been done early on...the only out is to come down to a political or diplomatic solution and wait out war crimes charges decades on.

    • Fouad Ajami was on CNN.

      Seems he wants to go all out in Syria, claiming Assad's worse than Saddam, and trying to deny its not like the Iraq invasion, which he had supported and defended for a good time.

    • Iraq casts an incredibly long shadow that makes most (not all, such as Libya) international interventions in complicated ME conflicts difficult.

      There's a huge trust deficit on US intentions. Some folks who are against Bashar al Assad, don't support the US strike (supposedly limited to attacking WMD's rather than removing the regime outright or supporting the rebels outright). They end up listing the US's past wrong-doings, abuses and hypocrisies in the region, namely Iraq - be it defending Saddam's use of WMD's in the 80's against Iraq's own populations or the Iranians, or the WMD's lies to knock off Saddam and invade Iraq dropping their own uranium shells and messing up the region - as their arguments for not seeing them get involved, even though the Syrian people are desperate for help.

      Questions also on the need for the WMD strikes by the US, when Israel has already gotten away with a few of their own, without facing any retaliation, and could just take the responsibility and carry on themselves.

      There was a window of opportunity early on 2 years ago for a clean intervention in support of the mostly FSA lead rebel opposition.

      However due to lack of information, caution (lessons from 80's Afghanistan, unwillingness to intervene with boots on the ground, Assad's capabilities and backing, etc) and fear mongering of sectarian jihadist militants (which became a self-fulfilling prophecy thanks to Assad's regime, and so called allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar), it just wasn't going to happen.

  • Military-Ruled Egypt Opposes US Strike on Syria
    • The reasons aren't just US-centric opposition or necessarily Arab unity.

      The Egyptian military govt have been fearing more global jihadist militants from Syria getting more active and forming links with local Egyptian or Palestinian pro-militant supporters, who aren't shy about giving refuge to Syria's militants or sending their own to fight in Syria, let alone against the current Egyptian government and state.

      Just after the coup, during the unrest, you'll find a story in between where the Egyptian military simply refused a plane full of Syrian refugees and sent them back (or elsewhere), citing them as a security risk.

      It is actually more interesting along the Saudi-Egyptian relationship lines and their respective thinkings. After all the fundamentalist Saudi Arabia has strongly backed the military, who too are weary of the MB or independent political Islamists. But at the same time also back some (a little more selective in their backing) of the ideological Syrian jihadists and any international strikes that maybe detrimental to Assad, helping the opposition.

  • Syria: Will Killing of Hundreds with Sarin Gas force Obama's Hand?
    • Someone claimed earlier the videos had only adult males (or actors). They did not. The attackers knew very well who it would affect, but probably rationalized it as smoking out their enemies. It'd be favourable to my own sectarian biases, which has been more prominent since my earlier principled support for the revolution, to pin it on the mostly Wahhabi/Salafi/Sunni militants. However, I recalled the many self-defeating moves committed by Assad's brutal regime. I just can't let them off the hook unfairly. Unfortunately some folks who consider the rebels more of a threat do - including myself except for this time.

      Any organization is capable of making stupid mistakes. Ba'athists are no exception, seen in their evidenced horrible handling of the civil war, lead up to now. They're barely surviving it. Their best outcome is a stalemate. Cruelty is inherently stupid, and shouldn't give them too much credit over the rebels. Like there's no sense for Syrian state army snipers to fire at crossing civilians, but they still do it. There was always an urgency and desperation as a besieged minority losing officers among their ranks to the rebels, despite some relief thanks to neighbouring Hezbollah, but the sizeable local and growing dangerous foreign rebels still made gains, regardless if there is inter fratricide among them. I'm not ruling out the rebels. But I'd put the onus on Assad's troops and more convinced its them.

    • I saw some videos. They didn't spare the families.

      Some folks may have doubts about it, due to the UN inspectors' timing, or blame the rebels because of their own militant make up, or worried that the US might drag itself into a war on the 'red lines' rhetoric (it won't).

      However, Assad's regime has always been this cruel and stupid throughout and there's no reason to believe different.

  • Has Military Suppression of Political Islam ever Worked?
    • Don't forget Bangladesh's relatively secular political government and courts now taking on the religious political Jamaat-i-Islami party and banning them and convicting their members of war crimes for 1971.

  • It's not about Democracy: Top Ten Reasons Washington is Reluctant to cut off Egypt Aid
    • Essam, the MB's popularity has suffered since more than a year ago when they organized themselves well enough to win but not well enough to govern. They ended up even marginalizing their own supporters and some of the public who optimistically voted for them, besides the opposition party.

      Regardless if it is 10% or 90% support for the army, it doesn't justify such brutality, and Faheem is lamenting such public masses, whether in Egypt or Pak, who tend to do so when things go sour.

    • But Egypt was one of the nations whose security and intelligence agencies partnered with the foreign CIA Rendition program, which included abducting, transporting and torturing suspected anti-state/extremist/terrorist Egyptian (or dual) citizens, to or within Egypt, for info for themselves and for the US (whether there was extra financial rewards or incumbent on US aid, and non-Egyptian citizens tortured in part of the program, I don't know).

      So in that regards they're not different from Pak's army either. I won't pin the blame of state torture to just religion, particularly when those govts were never outright religious (Mubarak, Musharraf), and torture's global history (Kudos to South America not being partner to such programs) to today where even the US, that does not share the same religion, employs it. But yes, the East lags in addressing, if at all acknowledging, this culture of cruelty.

    • Great list. Did not realize the finer corporate details in points 2,3,4 and 7. Wow.

      Pakistan's army maybe a little upset on point 8 on not being the Gulf Arab states' primary, if not sole, mercenary thugs for hire...at least there's employment from Bahrain.

  • Egypt's Waco
    • Should read some of the comments on English Al Jazeera under the article about the Saudi Wahhabi regime publicly backing the Egyptian military.

      Lots of Muslim folks (regardless of whether or not they have Wahhabi leanings or not) around the region, if not globe, who were sympathizing with the MB were ticked off more than usual with the Saudis. Wouldn't be surprised if some independent minded Salafis and other Saudis weren't too...

    • A good connection of opinions from the other countries there at the end, such as Lebanon and the recent blast in Beirut.

      However, I don't think bluntly lamenting terrorists with colourful rhetoric, like labelling murderers as 'cannibals', is necessarily what you call 'wild charges', like Haifa Wahba did, for having such legitimate fears of increasing bombings and attacks on her background communities (Shiite and Christian) in Lebanon and elsewhere. Since she's affected closer to the ground her views will be more generalized in black and white, and can't really judge, criticize and fault her on it. The debatable thing is whether she includes Egypt's MB as part of the region's terrorist problem. I don't think she's much inclined to say anything favourable or defend a fascist theocratic organization.

      She may have also alluded to the Sunni Syrian rebel who bit into a heart of an Alawite Syrian state soldier, and the MB's support for jihadist groups in Syria, whom Hezbollah and most other Shiite communities oppose, besides the Syrian Christians being vulnerable. She may also been aware of the Copts being attacked in Egypt, by MB supporters, with even the Egyptian Shias being lynched earlier under MB's rule. More reasons for her not to hold back.

    • Khalid Abdalla, the Kite Runner actor, had a good take. It really is false choices between two fascist organizations (I didn't care for the MB being deposed, they were given a chance and they squandered it with their own sectarian theocratic antics, but an authoritarian army takeover is usually never good, especially one that had a history in backing Mubarak and violently cracked down on all activists earlier, which the opposition seems to have amnesia about and now are upset over the Algerian solution against the MB).

      The interruption of the interview at the end by some Egyptian activists shouting their questions whether he was with Tamarrud kind of raised your levels a little bit...

      link to bbc.co.uk

  • Defecting Saudi Prince: Royal Family in Panic at Arab Revolts, Thousands imprisoned
    • We've felt, and still feel, that deadly Wahhabi effect in the further non-Arab eastern world, such as in Pakistan (though a good deal of the radicalization is self-inflicted). Indonesia and Malaysia seem to get more influenced over time as the treatment against their sectarian minorities worsens.

      Canada's govt (a right-wing conservative majority) was blunt in its security assessment, listing Sunni Islamist extremism mostly of the Salafi/Wahhabi kind, as its top domestic and foreign threat among others. Despite Canada's opposition (ignoring the ideologue pro-Israel motivation) against Bashar Al Assad, a monster that indeed needed to be taken out - slamming Russia and Iran for their support - Canada wisely did not jump on the rebel band wagon like the rest (still provided humanitarian aid though), precisely because of the threat of Salafi/Wahhabi/Sunni extremist jihadists in the otherwise legitimate Syrian movement, but they came to be and ruined it (and Canada is not as beholden to the Gulf Arab states as the US to support it). Canada is now worried about jihadist rhetoric within certain Sunni mosques here.

    • Brave, I guess. Unfortunate its met with some apologist responses who seem to overlook the 40,000 souls locked up on questionable charges, regardless of how many years it took to collect them. If we had been discussing Gitmo I'm sure the reaction would have been different.

      Regardless, the dictatorial monarchy, an ironic pro-US Wahhabi fundamentalist regime and hence the US looks over, has been busy in its police state crackdown and not just in its extended Bahrain 'province'.

      They're violently squashing the Arab protests of the marginalized Shia Muslims in the Eastern province.
      link to carnegieendowment.org

      Women's rights activists have also been feeling the squeeze, particularly this case involving helping a Canadian woman.
      link to ccla.org

  • India, China Defy US Congress' War on Iranian Oil
    • Pakistan was threatened with US sanctions earlier in the year in regards to trading with Iran, not that the defiance mattered much considering their small economic size and already continuing slide in ties with the US. However, Pakistan tried to oppose it and get around it creatively, like bartering.

      The alternative for energy offered by the US through the Gulf Arab states wasn't practical. Don't know whether there's been any significant step back in policy from the leadership of Zardari to Sharif on relations with Iran, based on specific regional Sunni-Shia and India dynamics.

      With bigger neighbouring Asian economies such as China, Pak's patron, and India, Pak's nemesis, also not going along with the US, such punishments are losing effective and maybe marking a decline in the superpower narrative of viewing interests vis-a-vis the US.

  • Egyptian Backlash against Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi's Call for foreign Intervention in Egypt
    • But Qaradawi has become more sectarian in his outlook, taking a hardline Sunni Islamist anti-Shia stance, in regards to his views of the overall region, particularly on Syria, also urging fighters to fight the Assad regime, and this was true for the MB too. It probably wasn't a coincidence that 4-5 Egyptian Shias were unearthed and lynched in an obscure village under them.

      So it may not necessarily be a stretch at all that he may have urged fighters to go to Egypt particularly with the MB suffering heavy losses. I think he chose his words deliberately just in case he and his supporters wanted to back-track and claim hypocritically he was taken 'out of context'.

  • Are Extremist Buddhists in Burma attacking Helpless Muslims? (Walton)
    • Its becoming an issue in Sri Lanka as well. The minority within a minority Tamil Muslims were always in a vulnerable position, but with the wipe out of overall Tamil resistance, now even Sinhalese Muslims seem to be coming under attack, led by hardline Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists.

  • Syria: Attack on Sayyida Zainab Provokes Sunni-Shiite Tensions in Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan
    • Al-Sadr tends to try to appeal to the Iraqi Sunni masses, as seen in some of their past protests against the government. He also tends to blame the sectarian violence by Sunni extremists in Iraq on culprits that are 'not Muslim' and a conspiracy against them. This could either be a delusion or way to downplay tensions with the minority Sunni community, even though his fighters have been accused of heavy handedness against them during the early Iraq invasion.

  • Remembering Syria: Homs 'Ghost Town' Under heavy Regime Bombardment
    • In fairness, Egypt was a big story which unfortunately dwarfed other events. There was a lot that has happened in regards to the Syrian conflict. Homs has been devastated and the regime has shelled other populated settlements as well.

      A recap of further stories:

      - Islamist militants trying to attack and take over some northern towns which are pre-dominantly Shiite (not sure if they're Alawite) and pro-Assad

      - A car bombing in a parking lot in Lebanon, in a pre-dominant Hezbollah area.

      - Russia claimed rebels used chemical weapons and has proof. Unproven elsewhere.

      - Aleppo residents protest against rebels in squeezing their supply lines in a bid to weaken the regime's hold on the city.

      - Pro-Al Qaeda extremist militants, such as Al Nusra Front, consolidating their power through religious judicial courts, and now killed a senior Syrian rebel FSA leader.

      - Pakistan Taliban have formally confirmed their presence in Syria.

      There's a lot more that's happened which I'm sure I've missed in the last few weeks. But these were the most recent Syrian developments that got overshadowed.

  • Millennials take over Qatar, but Real Change has Yet to be Accomplished
    • Actually it seems I may have not given the right picture on reforms, at least on citizenship, in the region. The UAE has stepped up naturalization. At the same time though, it has stepped up discriminatory sectarian/ethnic deportations and stripping of citizenship of reformists, activists or those they believe are politically undesirable to their dictatorship.

      Bahrain's security police forces are heavily made up of naturalized citizens as well, who happen to be mostly Sunni to shore up the regime's numbers over the majority Shia population, such as Balochis and other ethnicities from Pakistan.

    • > "So another really important innovation Sheikh Tamim could pursue would be to offer citizenship to long-time residents, to regularize immigration laws and establish a path to citizenship for immigrants, and to allow unions, strikes and more justice for the workers who are making Doha run."

      I simply do not see this happening in my lifetime among any of the GCC or Gulf Arab countries. Human rights concepts for citizenship and workers, barely registers, and is not a priority for them. To be fair, this is true for most of Asia. Even if Qatar did have an inkling for labour and immigration reforms, the others would vehemently be against such inclusions.

    • Apparently this mild piece has hit a nerve.

      Criticism of Professor Cole in minding his own backyard might make sense if he didn't post any criticism of the US. But a large chunk of his blog posts does. His speciality is on the Middle East. He's very qualified in giving advice and making criticisms, be it Egpt, Qatar, US, etc, which he has a right to express, and for the most part, bang on.

      This only comes off as an over-defensive reaction along Arab Sunni Islamist leanings, being in denial, resenting the criticisms as biased slights and hypocritically trying to deflect very real issues and problems based on irrational arguments and appeals.

  • The Syrian War comes to Lebanon as Sidon Explodes into Violence
    • I saw this coming. The Wahhabi/Salafi/Sunni extremist attacks have spread and picked up intensity in the region.

      Even in pre-dominant Sunni Egypt, a house gathering of Shia Muslims were attacked, as the Egyptian police looked on. 4 of them were lynched by the anti-Shia village mob.

      link to bbc.co.uk

      And more bombings by Sunni insurgents in Iraq's Baghdad, targeting mostly Shiite neighbourhoods, getting increasingly worse with the Syrian conflict.

      The Shia madrassa massacre in Pakistan's Peshawar, however, may have been the usual Sunni-Deoband militant sectarian attack.

  • Egypt's Morsi Calls for No-Fly Zone over Syria: A step toward regional Sunni-Shiite War?
    • This is one of my fears for the Pakistani Shia minority, bracing for more attacks by sectarian Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Sunni extremists.

      You'll see their usual insane anti-Shia bigoted polemics online currently incorporating revenge for Syria, despite the fact the sectarian cleansing program run by Sunni extremists in Pak has been running for decades based on one hateful excuse or another, well before this catastrophe.

  • An Outbreak of Reasonableness in Tehran: Top Ten Conclusions from Iran's Early Election Returns
    • Wish the Iranian people the best. Hope they get some economic relief. Surprised by Khamanei's urging everyone to vote, including those who don't like the Islamic system. Must have surprised some conservatives hard-liners who will resist major reforms, but a few loosening of freedoms and domestic law and order changes for reformists may happen.

      Not expecting normalized ties with the US though, because of their squandering of opportunities in the past whenever Iran's reformists or moderates gained traction, citing one excuse or another. Regional tensions, particularly Saudi Arabia, will continue to be troublesome.

  • Obama should Resist the Clintons & Europe on Syria
    • Good advice. This is not like Libya at all, due to the greater sectarian and geo-political regional ramifications. While I put the onus on Assad's regime, and the stakes raised by Iran, the proliferation of local and foreign ideological like minded Al Qaeda Wahhabi/Salafi/Sunni extremist militants pushed by Saudi Arabia and other Arab and Sunni states, has somewhat ruined the opposition's cause.

      I hope Canada's Conservative govt has enough sense to avoid a military role and continue the path of humanitarian assistance.

      While it does label Sunni Islamist extremism of the Wahhabi/Salafi kind as its number one domestic and foreign threat (so in some capacity would be aware of certain blowback in arming them), the current Canadian govt does however have a dogmatic pro-Israel/anti-Iran ideological policy that could trump the above reasoning.

  • Qatar Press Condemns Hizbullah Intervention in Syria (Without Irony)
    • Its such hypocrisy and bigotry coming from an overt Sunni Gulf Arab authoritarian state that's played a role in the support of other fellow Gulf Sunni Arab dictatorial states recent hegemonic sectarian suppression of the Bahrain Shiite majority, and minorities elsewhere in the region, and continues to fund foreign and global Sunni Islamist extremist jihadists of the Wahhabi/Salafi kind, even within Syria, sharing the same hateful anti-Shia and other non-Sunni prejudices.

      However, Hezbollah really did mess up whatever relative moral standing they had by giving public support for a dictator like Assad. Though the Syrian sides have tried to smear the other side on sectarianism while claiming their own inclusive relative 'secularism', it would actually have made more sense for Hezbollah if they did go with the more blunt sectarian explanation that they were protecting non-Sunni minorities, and holy places from the 'takfiri' groups they opposed, rather than naming support for Assad and still maintain communication with Syrian Sunni moderates.

      Its so weird about these guys discussing Israel, which has been a threat to the South Lebanese, but it would have been more beneficial for all of them to have instead addressed their greater threats of sectarian hatreds which always never seems to be addressed.

  • Sunni-Shiite Conflict Spikes as al-Qaeda Massacres 60 Shiites, Gulf States Sanction Hizbullah
    • Horrific video. It undermines the Syrian opposition's standing. What started off as a generational uprising, morphed along religious sectarian lines. This is why some here are finding the assessment lacking when you say its not about religion.

      Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, other Sunni-led states, including Turkey, armed not only the Sunni-led FSA, but local and foreign Sunni extremist jihadist militants. It became religious and sectarian to many Shiites and other non-Sunnis around the region, whose fears and paranoia grew.

      Hizbullah insiders stated long ago that they despised the Assad regime, but needed guns to stave off Israel. But why only the mixed Alawite coalition govt out of a sea of Sunni-led govts favours the Shia Hizbullah and vice-versa? Its exactly due to its different sectarian make-up. Its why they didn't support Saddam to attack Shia Iran, unlike other Arab Sunni states. Hizbullah and Iran knew there'd be no favourable govt if Assad fell, as they felt their Islamist solidarity with Sunni Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood conservatives, in power with Salafists, turn cold after Mubarak's fall well before the Syrian debacle.

      A huge omission was the holy shrines which were attacked by radical Sunni opposition fighters and became a rallying point for Iraqi Shia Muslim fighters. Syrian Sunnis in the FSA tried to appeal to the Shiite fighters to agree to a buffer zone. But other Sunni Salafi rebels outright announced they would raze those shrines to the ground. The Shia fighters simply do not trust FSA to protect them.

      And now the US announced they'll arm the rebels, that could potentially fall into Wahhabi/Salafi/Sunni extremist Al Qaeda types hands, and some officials cite payback to Iran for what it did earlier in Iraq and Afghanistan, apart from the pro-Israel and Saudi alliance. Its Deja Vu of the 80's in Afghanistan.

  • NSA Leads come from others' police work, not from data mining: the case of Headley (Rotella)
    • I know this story is about the NSA's false intelligence claims on their work and program.

      But its just incredible how Pak's dogmatic intelligence services, the ISI, even through the 2000's post 9/11, continued with their insane violent program of having ties with and recruiting extremists and militants for terrorist means for their ideological and regional schemes.

  • How the US Can Facilitate Peace in Syria: Talking to All Sides including Iran (Lawson)
    • Some Taliban reps, via Qatar, visited Iran for talks, who claimed they were invited and were equally pleased with the opportunity it seems, rather than being hostile. Iran maybe making a stronger diplomatic push all around.

      link to tribune.com.pk

  • Dear US Government: Your 'Terror' map of the Muslim World is from the Time of Shakespeare (Kurzman))
  • Help Build a Hospital in Karbala, Iraq!
  • America's 'Mission Accomplished' Legacy to Iraq: Sectarian Violence Mounts with 95 Dead
    • No doubt the US screwed everyone royally, and the Maliki govt has been pathetic.

      But some time has lapsed since the foreign invaders left and an unfair onus put on the earlier suppressed Shiite majority now in power who are constantly bombed. That impact creates the biggest sectarian divide.

      There seems like comparatively less outrage and more over-rationalizing excuses on the terrorist bombing condoned and adopted by the once hegemonic minority Iraqi Sunnis (or other Arab Sunnis) now out of power, totally overlooking the local and global religious political Salafi/Wahhabi/Sunni movements, despite whatever marginalization or slight, such justification for ideological violence is insane.

      When a Sunni majority Pakistan has been unable to 'infiltrate' the few undesirable Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/AhleHadith/Sunni extremist terrorist groups (as opposed to desirable 'strategic assets'), despite having a fairly established intelligence institution (regardless of their double games, sympathies, etc) for a dysfunctional state, I doubt a Shiite Iraqi govt could get anywhere close to running such a program, considering their intelligence institution was formerly run by mostly Baathist Sunnis under Saddam.

  • The Great Benghazi Conspiracy and Republican Forgeries
    • That is blatant.

      Why is there no legal counter-offensive by the Obama admin in regards to the fabricated quotes from the e-mails?

      Is there no legal recourse for such fraud and slander? Should this not be considered a huge breach in ethics at least?

  • Will New Pakistani Government Ban US Drone Strikes in Light of Court Ruling? (Ross)
    • I hope there's some improvements for religious minorities and overall security, however, I'm pessimistic in PML-N's ability to tackle intolerance and rein in religious Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Sunni extremists and militants, regardless if they are or are not army assets. They've made alliances with sectarian extremists ASWJ, who have links to the sectarian terrorists LeJ and religious terrorists TTP (Pak Taliban), who find Sharif's religious views favourable. Instead of condemning them he panders to them, to avoid getting targeted in killings and bombings like the other competing political parties faced.

  • Syria's Neighbors have Rising Anxiety about Crisis (Three Aljazeera Videos)
    • Don't forget Iraq.

      Maliki's Shiite leadership was already paranoid of the disgruntled Sunni Iraqi minority and now the spillover of Salafist extremists from Syria. It has seen a great increase in violent terrorism and sectarianism in April mostly committed by local and foreign Sunni insurgents even targeting other Iraqi Sunnis who unfortunately have also seen the brutal crackdown by the govt's security forces against local Sunni protests.

      The govt has also shutdown local Arab news networks, 8 Sunni and 1 Shia, and even foreign Al Jazeera which is owned by the govt of Qatar (which is involved in backing the militants in Syria), accusing them of fuelling sectarian tensions, but others see the Iraqi govt as silencing opposition and critics.

      link to cbc.ca

  • Chechen Jihadis Reject Tsarnaevs (OSC)
    • "It is interesting that one of the videos that Tamerlan Tsarnayev liked was “how I converted to Islam and become a Shi’a”."

      I had already mentioned this earlier here. Tamerlan leaves a disparaging comment in Russian underneath the youtube video addressing its author for his/her conversion as a Shi'a, highlighting a Sunni Islamist extremist streak. Interesting the Chechen Jihadis twisted and exploited this in their conspiracy narrative to serve their agenda in disowning the Tsarnaev brothers to deflect attention from them or their ideology.

      There's a lot of other false info/denial/delusion/deception/assumptions and irrelevant nonsense above by the Chechen Jihadis, be it on the family's identification with Chechnya, regardless of where they were born or migrated to, their tactics and the situation (being in a gunfight instead of laying low when the entire country is looking for you), Tamerlan's alienation (regardless of his wish to fight for the US struggled in understanding 'American friends'), Dzhokhar's online profile having more than just career and money by displaying some extremist content, etc.

  • Fathers and Sons and Chechnya
    • A few observations.

      This is a lot of speculation in regards to their relationship with their father and why I'm not a fan of playing 'Criminal Minds' on specific cases when many times there are ties to overall trend of an ideological religious political extremist movement, a crisis that does exist, and only ultimately ends up sounding like excuses for such crimes. (See Canadian Liberal candidate Trudeau versus Conservative PM Harper on such narrative: and Canada is watching this closely, in light of the recent London cell involved in the Algerian attack, and Tsarnaev's aunt in Canada and the whole conversation on their migration)

      Having said that, it is interesting to note the family dynamics. The older brother is clearly an outcast. There is a split between the uncle and cousin and the aunt and the parents. The denials don't surprise me as much as the added on conspiracy, which unfortunately only makes the family, and sadly the Chechen/Muslim community, look worse and I fear they're feeding into stereotypes and further prejudice.

      There is current speculation of the father being a Shia, which is surprising, but could be possible, however a recent online reply by Tamerlane (named after the Turkic Persian ruler, which sadly a CNN 'expert' claimed it highlighted the family's ideology, when in practice a lot of Asian Muslims unfortunately in their culture name their sons after many conquerers, including Genghis/Changez) disparaging the author of a video of their conversion to Shiism, would make one assume its said by a Sunni Islamist hardliner.

      Despite the poor speculative coverage, props to government officials on handling the situation. And US society overall for their tolerance, if not acceptance, at least during my travel and visit here so far. Though I do realize there are some sad exceptions for many residents here.

  • The New Muslim World: Dictators on Trial
    • I'm not as optimistic as the Professor.

      Secular and ethnic parties' activists are constantly murdered by the TTP, hence hurting their public election campaigns which had to be cancelled a good number of times, while the rightwing and/or religious parties are left unscathed, where even a notorious sectarian Sunni extremist party that is linked to LeJ and TTP terrorists are publicly contesting the elections.

      There was also an issue of elections' officials asking inappropriate religious nationalist ideological questions of candidates, going in so as far as disqualifying one of the most respected intellectuals who happens to be a secular liberal columnist.

  • CNN, John Kerry falsely try to tie Iran to North Korea Nuclear Crisis
    • Kerry blurted out 'Yellow cake'...I haven't heard that since the WMD lie for Iraq.

      Wonder if their issue with missile tech from N.Korea also extends towards Pakistan? Maybe not.

  • Syrian Revolution even Bloodier in March, with record 6000 Dead
  • Iraq: A country whose Future was Stolen (Jamail)
    • I remember this writer and never found him to be too credible or sound in his analysis.

      link to isreview.org

      Yes, the title of that article is 'The Myth of Sectarianism', and I do find this ironic. In that older article he actually believed it was the US invasion's fault alone for the sectarianism and things would rapidly improve after the pull-out.

      While the US invasion was certainly the trigger and a great calamity that fuelled further violence, he ignored all history of local and regional sectarianism, including under an oppressive Saddam instead believing a Sunni Arab hegemony was a sign of delusional sectarian and ethnic harmony and the blame lay with the Americans only.

      Yes, the situation IS terrible and most (not all) points are valid in this article, including on Maliki, Shia militias and Iran's influence.

      However, I can't help but notice some of the criticisms highlighted and not highlighted (such as the many many bombings by local and foreign Sunni insurgents) by this Al Jazeera writer, knowing full well of Qatar's politicization and its own sectarian bias or Sunni-centric views.

  • BBC Journalists accidentally Bombed by US Air Force during 2003 Invasion of Iraq (Video)
    • There are quite a good number of links and articles that comes up on a simple search on that Baghdad attack on Al Jazeera by US military, which was after the Kabul attack, which too was suspect and thought to have been intentional targeting. These allegations were not raised just by Al Jazeera.

      However, this bombing was clearly an accident, but highlighted the high likelihood of many wrong targets and casualties.

      link to guardian.co.uk

      link to cnn.com

      link to guardian.co.uk

      link to commondreams.org

      link to dailymail.co.uk

      link to en.wikipedia.org

    • "American Own Goal"

      I remember this BBC report when it happened. Jon Simpson's crew were and still are amazing.

      BBC have been airing great programs on the Iraq invasion anniversary, such as the British father trying to find out whether his killed son's military contributions were for worth something or the case of birth defects crisis of Iraqi babies due to bombs and ammunitions used by the US. Just so much tragedy which unfortunately no one will be held accountable for. Not surprising there's little mention in US media.

  • Muslim Opposition to the Muslim Religious Right Grows, from Egypt to Bangladesh
    • I agree with your review on the word usage to describe the Muslim religious right. Can't applaud UAE's dictatorial monarchs considering they're pretty much cracking down on all dissent, religious right or not.

      Disagree with the rosy picture on Pakistan. Its getting worse, particularly for minorities. Its like the politicians, military, courts, media and society have capitulated to the militants. And you're probably referring to ANP, Awami National Party, not NAP. Hagel unfortunately helped refuel the Pakistani right-wing conspiracist excuse of Indian interference for local terrorism.

      And on a nice earlier article published on the Urdu language, where the comments are now closed, please note while the language has a secular history, unfortunately its been the medium for Pakistani religious nationalist narrative which mistranslates secularism (La Dean - No religion) to kill the concept and demonize those who advocate it.

  • Arab Television Reacts to Obama's State of the Union Address, on Afghanistan, Iran (OSC)
    • Even after the US withdrawal from Iraq, with little to no US presence to 'prompt' militants, violence and terrorism still persists. The 'armed opposition' the Afghan expert Abdul Baqi interviewed on Al Jazeera refers to, won't magically cease violent attacks against the current Afghan govt and people either and will find other reasons to feel 'prompted' or justify their militancy and terrorism.

      Its sad and crazy that the Saudi expert interviewed on Al-Arabiyah, Abdallah al-Shimmari, would rather see the GC Gulf Arab countries adopt hostile policies with Iran (which probably includes exporting extremist sectarian proxy violence in other countries) rather than seize an opportunity or build up on any possible peaceful settlement between Washington and Tehran.

  • Iran President accuses Speaker of Parliament of Corruption, as Labor Minister is Impeached
  • Obama's Inaugural and the Danger of an Iran War
    • Unfortunately, I think , Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially Pakistan, will continue to be problematic.

      Do not see Pak's authorities abandoning the extremist militant infrastructure or tackling it sincerely or seriously.

      link to tribune.com.pk

  • Algerian Military Retakes Gas Plant: 16 Hostages, 32 terrorists Dead
    • Agreed. The Algerian military's history explains a lot on how the operation was carried out and how it ended.
      link to bbc.co.uk

      Its being reported now that some kidnappers were taken alive.

      link to bbc.co.uk

      Comments made by the French and US presidents were more forgiving of the operation compared to the British, Japanese and other concerned foreign nations.

  • Syrian Kurds Battle Extremist Fundamentalists
    • This is troubling and hope the Kurdish community prevails now and post-Assad. A link to an interview with Nusra Front, and a disturbing conclusion at the end.

      link to bbc.co.uk

      The FSA and the opposition have to get their act together if they don't want to be undermined in their fight against Assad's regime and end up losing support from the International Community.

      Saudi Arabia and Qatar's ideological dictatorial monarchs support for Arab Sunni Islamist militants may end up causing an Afghanistan redux. They should be held accountable and need to rein them in. If there's a Turkish connection, then clearly they've disappointed and share responsibility.

  • 237 Dead in Syria day of Horrors, 87 killed at Aleppo U
    • In the latest round of violence, there were some car bombings that targeted state forces elsewhere in Syria as well, and not sure whether they're among the 237 dead mentioned above.

      Syrian town of Idlib targeted in multiple bombings
      link to bbc.co.uk

      Don't know what to believe on the university. But even if an accident, the onus is still on Assad for these crimes than any of the rebels, even if it were done deliberately by alleged Sunni Islamist militants.

      His brutal regime and his delusion in still insisting on being part of 'reforms' is just incredible.

  • Bahrain's Bloody Crackdown no Bar to Big US Weapons Sales (Elliott)
    • Sorry if there's a confusion, but my comment was suppose to be a reply to Rosemerry. I agree, the sarcasm was confusing and could have been better.

    • Can't tell if you're being sarcastic, but there's nothing 'peaceloving' by an apartheid regime that persecutes, tortures and kills its own citizens for peaceful protests and denies them their human and democratic rights. Bahrain is not in imminent danger even from the likes of Iran. The only known attacks from outside were the Saudi forces, to whom the Bahrain monarchy ceded their sovereignty in their 'invitation' and unleashed to oppress their population.

  • "Investigative Journalism is Completely [Screwed]" (Daily Show's John Oliver)
    • I regret to admit that I was one of CNN's primary viewers during the election coverage and fell for "Stay with us folks, our experts and pundits say its a REAL CLOSE one and look at all the fancy graphics and our explanations of how a candidate's eyebrows can decide the elections...". I knew better not to fall for useless infotainment but still did. Shame on me.

  • Bombings in Pakistan Kill over 100, as Shiites are Targeted
    • You are confusing the Dawn article after probably rushing through it. There were 3 bombs in all (in Quetta, not counting the Swat bombing at a Tableeghi Markaz). The first in the day targeting security officials in a bazaar by United Baloch Army, an ethnic separatist militant group, the latter and more devastating two (second one going off at the same place, after rescuers and responders arrived) in the evening targeting Shia Hazaras by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a sectarian Deoband Sunni extremist group.

      Dawn made no such implication that the night time bombings in the pre-dominant Shia neighbourhood, claimed by L-e-J as properly reported by Dawn, was by UBA at all, and only pointed out the earlier day time bombing targeting the security officials in the bazaar was by UBA.

      Not unlike most of Pak, it is possible there's rising anti-Shia sentiments among the Sunni Baloch, however it is not the case here.

      I think the unlinked and unsourced smuggling claim at the end is unfounded sensationalist speculation. The majority of Pakistanis who are inclined to conspiracies and excuses for extremists will likely feed off it, the same way some ludicrously dismiss the carnage as 'revenge by India' for the recent skirmish at the Kashmir LoC.

      It is also not accurate in claiming 2 equal sides proxy war between Saudi and Iran, at least not any more in Pak. It is quite lopsided in favour of Wahhabi/Salafi/Deoband/Sunni Islamist extremism as evidenced in trends of overall religious violence including anti-Shia sectarian cleansing in Pakistan.

  • The Rise of the Sunnis and the Decline of Iran, Iraq and Hizbullah: The Middle East in 2013
    • Hard not to see a rise in Sunni Islamist extremism overall as well, regionally and globally.

      If Pakistan is any indication, or even Egypt, it may not look good for the Shia and/or other non-Sunni populations scattered around the ME.

  • US Mass Media ignore Bahrain until Kim Kardashian gives them Two Reasons not To
    • Bahrain has its own Sunni Islamists or Salafists, including a political party with sitting MPs. In this case, 100 of these religious activists were protesting Kim's so called un-holy presence.

      The news is not referring to the democratic protesters or opposition parties we read about, that are usually made up mostly of the marginalized Shia majoirty and some Sunnis.

      The hardliners reject modernization and believe the state isn't 'Islamic' enough. They have extreme views, but aren't implicated in any violence. Not clear if they oppose the regime outright or support democratic changes. Despite the rulers being non-religious authoritarians, they're still a Sunni monarchy and the Shia majority whom they're prejudiced against are marginalized. Only govt change they'll likely promote is with Sunni hardliners at the top.

      Regardless, they got tear-gassed.

      Also interesting to note is the number of Asian expats that were swooning over Kim.

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