A dispute has broken out over whether or not attendees at the National Guard Association meeting in Puerto Rico gave an ovation to the demand from Governor Acevedo Villa for withdrawal from Iraq. John Goheen of the National Guard Association claims the AP story is inaccurate and that applause came at the conclusion of the governor’s speech which also touched on other topics. However, Goheen does admit Governor Acevedo received strong applause when he blasted Bush for trying to make it easier for a president to take control of National Guard units.
The Associated Press reported there was an ovation when the governor urged getting out of Iraq. Perhaps, Goheen is correct, but, at least he does admit attendees do not agree with some of Bush’s policies toward the National Guard.
The province of Helmand currently under supervision of British troops has set the record for the largest amount of drugs produced in a single geographic area. Last year’s crop set a record but this year’s is already up 48% over last year. It is estimated Helmand has more land set aside for raising illegal drugs than any other area in the world,
We tend to forget a reason cited by Bush and Blair for invading Afghanistan was the large drug trade emanating from that region. We invaded a nation to halt drugs and now the nation that we conquered is setting records for drug production. The Taliban uses drugs to finance their war against coalition forces. Perhaps, after defeating the Taliban great energy had been placed upon offering farmers other crops to raise we might be avoiding current drug problems
In a conciliatory editorial appearing in the Lebanon Daily Star, the editor urged Israel to take advantage of an opportunity for peace by taking some small steps to assure Arab public opinion of its good will. He mentioned ceasing any further West Bank settlements, and easing restrictions on travel as well as dismantling check points.
Israel is at a crossroads. Several Arab nations are prepared to enter into peace negotiations and end their state of war. A dramatic move by Israel could have rippling impact throughout the region. For example, creating joint Israel-Palestinian police units to supervise West Bank areas Or, eliminating check points in a phased manner. If ending check points in area “A” works then it will be extended to area “B.” Israel might release several key Palestinian leaders currently being held in prison if they agree to certain requirements to avoid formenting violence. Israel must do something.
South Korea has concluded an agreement with the Taliban to have the hostages released in exchange for a promise all South Korean soldiers will leave Afghanistan before the end of the year. Actually, South Korea had already planned on this withdrawal of its 200 soldiers. South Korea also promised to cease missionary activity in Afghanistan. Many people in South Korea have been upset that Christian missionaries went to Afghanistan knowing full well there was strong opposition to their presence.
This is definitely not the time or place to engage in missionary work. These missionaries undoubtedly meant well, but they placed themselves and their nation in a precarious situation.
The Australian government over the weekend introduced the new citizenship test that immigrants will be required to pass in order to become a citizen. The test is nor remarkable, it requires knowledge of dates and names. I found interesting its summary of Australian history which notes the Aborigine population declined due to “conflict” with settlers and some diseases. That is certainly a quaint way to explain policies of dehumanization and brutality. I guess Jews died in death camps due to “conflicts” with Nazi guards and the onset of disease.
The mania for tests misses a simple point. If terrorists want to get one of their own into a country all it requires is getting him ready to pass a test.
Coalition troops in Afghanistan claimed they were given permission to enter Pakistan in pursuit of Taliban forces who had fired on their positions. They insisted Taliban mortar and artillery fire came from across the Pakistan border which required coalition forces to enter Pakistan in pursuit. A spokesperson for Pakistan General Wahead Arshad said: “There was no attack(by the Taliban), no firing from our side of the border. And, there was no permission asked by them or given by us.”
One sometimes wonder who the Coalition forces are confronting, the Taliban or the Pakistan army. Apparently someone was firing on the Coalition troops. At some point there must be an agreement concerning the presence of the Taliban in Pakistan. Unless an agreement can be forged, there is scant hope of controlling the Taliban in Afghanistan.
American troops decided to give Afghanistan children soccer balls in a gesture of good will. Their offering turned into a minor crisis when it was discovered the soccer balls had a picture of the Saudi Arabian flag. This flag contains Arabic script which contains the words “Allah” and the Prophet “Muhammad.” The idea of children kicking around a ball with those names offended many parents.
Isn’t it about time, the US forces hired some Muslims who could help avoid such silly episodes?
Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov ordered an investigation into last week’s riots in which skin heads clashed with Romas. There are right wing groups in Bulgaria such ass the Bulgarian National Union(BNU) which continually abuse Romas, and, in many cases resort to physical assaults. Muslim and Jewish groups in Bulgaria have urged authorities to halt attacks on Romas because they are merely the initial object of right wing hatred, later it will turn against Muslims and Jews.
Interior Minister Petkov told Vladmir Rasete who heads the BNU to halt further provocation against Romas and to cease talking about forming a national guard. There are hopes a major European Union grant will provide decent housing for thousands of Romas.
Muslim insurgents claim southern Thailand is occupied land by Thai/Buddhist invaders. These insurgents have conducted over 3000 terrorist attacks between 2004-2007. In the past week, they burned parts of three schools, killed some people who happened to be in the vicinity and killed a teacher as she entered a school. There is apparently a deliberate plan to attack Buddhist and Muslim civilians in hope of creating so much chaos that Thailand will grant Muslim freedom. This is pure fantasy since such tactics will not win.
There is need for the Thai government to initiate economic development plans as well as develop a more professional Muslim education teaching staff who can offer children a more open minded approach to learning. The present Thai approach is not work.
A day before the expected election to the presidency of Abdullah Gul, the head of Turkey’s army issued a strong warning to the Muslim Justice and Development Party(AKP). General Yasar Buyukanet said that secularism was under attack by “centers of evil.” The general made clear: “Our nation has been watching the behavior of those separatists who cannot embrace the unitary nature of Turkey and… try to corrode the secular nature of the Turkish republic.” He added: “The military will just as it has so far, keep its determination to guard social, democratic and secular Turkey.”
If the military means what this statement is saying, there is a clash looming between Gul and military leaders. The question is whether the military will resort to a coup d’etat and take power. If so, it bodes ill for those who believe Erdogan and the AKP were offering Muslim nations a model of how Muslim values could be maintained along with those of secular values and beliefs. Erdogan has been careful to avoid any indication his Muslim based party would impose religious beliefs and practices upon Turkish society. Erdogan knows such action would doom Turkey’s entrance into the European Union.
It is fascinating how those so interested in the Israel-Palestinian conflict are so uninterested in events which have dramatic impact throughout the Muslim world. A military seizure of power will destabilize Turkey and ensure rejection of its application into the European Union. Perhaps, Erdogan and Gul might agree the president of Turkey would no longer have power to appoint the head of the Turkish army. That might pacify Turkish military leaders.