Over ten thousand supporters of Fatah used open-air prayer time in the Gaza Strip to launch widespread protests against Hamas which rules the area. Men shouted slogans against the prime minister of Hamas as they marched down streets urging people to disobey Hamas: “Oh, Haniya, oh wretched one. Go away.” Hams forces fired in the air and at least eight people were injured or wounded, including two French journalists. On August 13th, The Executive Force of Hamas banned all unauthorized demonstrations.
Swedish artist Lars Vilks portrayed the Prophet Muhammad’s head on a dog causing leaders in Pakistan and Iran to denounce his work as offensive to Muslims and most probably linked to “Zionist influences.” Despite their attempts to stir hate against Swedes, only 300 demonstrators showed up for a protest meeting in Stockholm. Mohamed Omar, editor of the Muslim periodical Minaret brushed off Iranian and Pakistan complaints. “Iranand Pakistan are just playing to the Muslim gallery. Ordinary Muslim in Sweden are the ones who have to suffer the consequences.” He noted the Swedish newspaper used the illustration as part of a story. “It’s irrational to regard their decision is being offensive to Muslims.” The Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt backed freedom of the press.
Most Swedish Muslims either were not concerned or not aware of the picture. Perhaps, the
West exaggerates the importance of fundamentalists who claim to speak for “the Muslim people.” No one speaks for any “people.”
Benazir Bhutto, former Pakistan prime minister, warned that present Musharraf policies encourage insurgent groups to continue their policies of violence. She noted: “Pro Taliban forces have regrouped and the policy having ‘ceasefires’ or peace treaties with them from time to time has simply emboldened them to expand their influences.” She promised upon her expected return to Pakistan to fight for democracy and to embark on policies that will lead to ending the current power of pro-Taliban forces.
At some point, Pakistan’s leadership must confront the situation in mountainous areas where the Taliban runs free from control. It also must face up to the reality the Taliban was created by Pakistan’s intelligence branch and may still have officers who seek to protect the Taliban.
American soldiers who had served in Iraq were urged at a briefing held in Korea to seek help for Post Traumatic Stress. A simple way to avoid having such meetings is removing soldiers from situations in which they suffer from post traumatic stress.
Turkish military authorities confirmed they had discovered weapons originally provided by the United States to Iraqi armed forces in the possession of members of the Kurdish Workers Party(PKK) which is a terrorist organization. Pentagon spokesperson, Geoff Morrell said: “It is the policy of the government and this department that the PKK are terrorists.” It is nice to know that groups labeled terrorists are being provided weapons by the United States of America. This incident is merely another in a long trail of mistakes, incompetency, and wrong-headed Bush policies which have destabilized the Middle East rather than bringing either peace of democracy.
George Bush never met a tax cut he couldn’t support, especially if it involved providing the wealthy billions of dollars from the government. Millions of home owners are experiencing difficulty in financing their homes and the president offered his empathy toward their plight. However, when asked about providing financial aid, he responded: “If you mean direct grants for homeowners, the answer would be no, I don’t support that.” One might characterize offering billions in lower taxes to people as a form of “grant” but assuredly that is not the manner in which Bush describes tax cuts. He believes they are necessary to maintain a healthy economy. Maintaining homes does not fit into the category of helping the economy.
The ongoing conflict between the religious Moslem Brotherhood and more secular Egyptian leaders continues as Brotherhood parliament members asserted they will oppose any law that bans female mutilation. As a Moslem Brotherhood spokesman commented: “Cutting must b e upheld because it is an Islamic practice.” He also expressed hope all TV programs could be cancelled during the month of Ramadan in order to focus the minds of people upon religion.
Last week, Mubarak’s government cracked down on the Brotherhood and arrested a few of its parliamentary deputies. Mubarak warned that “some religious movements aim to turn the clock back.” The Israel-Palestinian conflict tends to obscure fundamental issues dividing people who are Muslims. There is a clash between forces of religious fundamentalism and secularism which would be present even if Israel disappeared tomorrow. Mubarak has failed to offer his society a government committed to ending corruption and stimulating the economy. Such failures only strengthen forces of religious fundamentalism.
Prime Minister Olmert’s decision to deport hundreds of refugees from the Sudan and to bar any more from entering Israel was met with vigorous dissent by leading American Jewish leaders. Rep. Rahm Emanuel sent a sharp letter of rebuke to Israel’s ambassador to the United States: “I am writing today to express my disappointment that Israel would turn away any person fleeing from persecution.” The American Jewish Committee and Jewish leaders in New York and Los Angeles also expressed displeasure at Olmert’s actions.
There is still a strong undercurrent of feeling among many Jews in the world about the importance of aiding refugees fleeing persecution. It is ironic that Jewish leaders are concerned about Darfur while most leaders of Arab nations like Egypt or Saudi Arabia remain silent.
Muqtada al-Sadr, powerful leader of Shiite militia forces ordered his followers to cease attacks on American and coalition forces until some semblance of order can be established in Iraq. He as upset at the growing factionalism which is causing Shiite militia to fight with one another and seriously impeding their ability to be unified. His men clashed with militia from the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council(SIIC) in the holy city of Kerbala where thousands of pilgrims had gathered to celebrate a religious holiday.
It appears al-Sadr fears an outbreak of civil war within Shiite forces that would enable Sunnis gain power as their opponents fight with one another. The six month cease fire opens new opportunities for the United States and the Maliki government to create some semblance of order and calm in Iraq. The issue is whether or not the Mailiki government can take advantage of this lull in fighting by a major militia faction.
Prior to the US invasion of Afghanistan, anyone with even a glimmering of understanding of the nation understood the importance of poppy to the average farmer. A recent letter to the Stars& Stripes contained the argument for burning poppy fields. In response, Sgt. 1st Class Danielle Belliveau stated what President Bush should have understood six years ago: “the problem lies in there not being enough troops here, U.S. or coalition. The country is just too vast (and troops) simply are not available to eradicate the poppy problem.”
Critics told Bush at the beginning that Afghanistan was a large nation and it would require extensive troops to pacify the region. Instead of focusing on Afghanistan, President Bush made his ill-advised decision to invade Iraq. We are now living with the legacy of his mistakes– drug production is soaring in Afghanistan and violence is soaring in Iraq.