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Islamic World News ( 5 Oct 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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King Abdullah slaps down Saudi cleric critical of Co-ed University

British newspaper: Iran’s Ahmadinejad born Jewish

Bomb at U.N. Food Office in Pakistan Kills at Least 5

Islam in the Ozarks: Diversity within the Mosque by Jennifer Moore

Islamic food fest offers feast for senses by Kelly Monroe

First Islamic Film Market kicks off in Tehran

End the Islamic occupation of Israel

Renamed terror outfits face the heat in Pak

Pak, US lost track of Osama five years ago: Musharraf

Pak girl flogging case: One accused identified

8 US troops die in one of worst Afghan battles

Taliban confirm Uzbek commander’s death in drone attack

Iran has ‘sufficient’ information to build bomb

Afghan war winnable: NATO

What I saw at the Afghan election by Peter W. Galbraith I,

Arab govt’s back Yemen in battle with rebels, unrest

Cancelling missile defence will look good if Russia helps on Iran by Tomas Valasek

Five injured in clash over 12-year-old boy's death in J&K; shutdown continues

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

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King Abdullah slaps down Saudi cleric criticial of co-ed university

Asma Alsharif, October 5th, 2009

Well, that didn’t take long.

Last week, a senior Saudi Islamic cleric criticised the country’s first mixed-gender university, the King Abdullah University for Science and Technology (KAUST), and suggested an Islamic committee to make sure it followed Islamic principled and didn’t teach “alien ideologies” such as evolution.

Late on Sunday, the state news agency SPA reported that King Abdullah had removed Sheikh Saad Al-Shithri from a top council of religious scholars.

okazAl-Shithri’s comments sparked angry reactions from liberals who saw the new university as a beacon for research that will eventually produce Saudi scientists, spearheading modernity in the conservative Islamic State. For those of you who read Arabic, here’s a sample of several op-ed pieces that ran in the daily Okaz.

“This is a strategy for the conservatives to control the university. Or at least to have a major say in it. This is the old trick for them to have the upper hand to sabotage reforms,” said Jamal Khashoggi, editor-in-chief of Alwatan daily newspaper, about the clerics comments on the university.

Saudi Arabia follows an austere version of Islam and religious police patrol the streets ensuring that the country’s strict segregation laws are implemented. Clerics like Al-Shitri have a major influence on school curricula as well as the judicial system and some have issued fatwas against co-education (here in Arabic).

Since coming to power in 2005, King Abdullah has reshuffled the cabinet, replacing some hardline clerics with more moderate ones, and promised the overhaul of the education system with an aim of focusing more on sciences rather than religion. He has also pledge to reform the judicial system.

abdullah“This university has become a reality, and it is for the good of the nation as the King had wanted it to be.  It is not a cake that the two ideological streams [liberals and conservatives] can compete over,” wrote columnist Khaled Alsulaiman in Okaz after the controversial statements placed KAUST in the centre of the battle between liberals and conservatives.

“This university is not a project for Westernization, as some hope it would be while others fear it might be. It is a genuine scientific project that came at a sensitive and crucial time in this nation’s age,” he added.

KAUST is located near the Red Sea village of Thuwal, north of Jeddah, away from the prying eyes of the religious police. The government has promised academic freedom for the university but diplomats predicted — and Shithri has demonstrated — that clerics would try to obstruct the project.



British newspaper: Iran’s Ahmadinejad born Jewish

October 4, 2009

LONDON (JTA) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was born to a Jewish family that converted to Islam when he was four years old, according to a British newspaper.

The Daily Telegraph reported the discovery Saturday, based on Ahmadinejad's original family name of Sabourjian.

The newspaper published a picture of the Iranian president holding up his identity card during last year’s election campaign, in a way that shows his family's previous name.

According to the article, Sabourjian is a common Iranian Jewish name, especially among those from Aradan, where the |Iranian president was born.

The newspaper reported that the name means cloth weaver, or specifically talit weaver.  It adds that the word "sabour" means talit, and the suffix "jian" indicates that his family was practicing Jews.

The British newspaper also reported that the name is included in an Iranian Home Ministry list of names reserved for Iranian Jews.

Ahmadinejad never denied that his family changed its name when it moved to Tehran in the 1950’s.  However he has never stated the family’s original name.



Bomb at U.N. Food Office in Pakistan Kills at Least 5

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A suicide bomber struck the lobby of the United Nations World Food Program office in Islamabad on Monday, killing at least five staff members of the organization, according to police and United Nations officials.

The Pakistani interior minister, Rehman Malik, said that the bomber, who detonated about 16 pounds of explosives shortly after 12 p.m. as the offices were busy with people, was wearing the uniform of a paramilitary unit assigned to guard diplomatic missions in the area. Police officials said the attack indicated a serious security breach in a building tightly guarded by private security officers.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The World Food Program said that four of the dead were Pakistani nationals, while one hailed from Iraq. The Pakistani victims were two women — Farzana Barkat, an office assistant, and Gulrukh Tahir, a receptionist — and the two men were financial assistants, Mohammed Wahab and Abid Rehman. The Iraqi victim was identified as Botan Ahmed Ali al-Hayawi, an information and communication technology officer.

Ishrat Rizvi, the spokeswoman for United Nations operations in Islamabad, said that all of the world body’s offices in Pakistan were closed immediately as a precaution. “This is a temporary arrangement to ensure the safety and security of our staff,” she said by telephone.

Around 80 people work at the heavily fortified United Nations facility, a three-story building in an upscale residential neighborhood that is equipped with video surveillance cameras, motion detectors and explosives detection devices. The street was barricaded at both ends, and vehicles and visitors were allowed entry only after a thorough security check. The boundary walls of the building were secured by barbed wire, and a paramilitary post was located within walking distance.

A security guard watching the barrier at the entrance of the street said he had not noticed any suspicious activity before the explosion deafened his ears for a few moments. He and another police official, who also declined to give his name, seemed at a loss to explain how a stranger, disguised as a paramilitary trooper, managed to walk through several security checkpoints unnoticed and armed with explosives.

Several private security guards were taken into custody for questioning by Islamabad police officers, according to local news reports.

“I was on the upper floor when there was the sound of a huge explosion downstairs. I found many of my colleagues lying on the floor full of blood,” a World Food Program employee who declined to be named told The Associated Press. “We immediately put the most critically wounded in a vehicle and rushed them to hospital.”

Residents of the street were rattled by the explosion but expressed annoyance that the district administration had allowed diplomats and United Nations offices to operate in residential neighbourhoods of the capital. Mr. Malik, the interior minister, said 19 private security guards, as well as two police officials and three paramilitary police officers, had been deployed to secure the building.

Saadia Abbasi, a former senator, said she was about to leave her house near the United Nations compound when she heard a loud explosion. Ms. Abbasi said she saw a car entering the compound moments before the blast rocked the neighbourhood.

“For four years, I have been writing to the district administration to remove these offices from residential neighbourhoods to no avail,” she told local reporters.

The building is also located near the headquarters of the navy and Bilawal House, the political office of President Asif Ali Zardari, though he has not spent much time there since being elected. The explosion comes at a time when the Pakistani Army is planning to launch a full-scale offensive in South Waziristan, the rugged tribal region in the country’s northwest that is a stronghold of the Taliban.

In South Waziristan, the new leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Hakimullah Mehsud, met a group of reporters on Sunday and vowed that attacks against Pakistani and American targets would continue.

One of the reporters who met Mr. Mehsud, Anwar Mehsud, who works with a Pakistani Television channel Aaj TV, said Monday that he and four other reporters met the Taliban leader at his invitation to dispel reports that he had been killed in an American drone attack.

Mr. Mehsud, he said, appeared with his top lieutenants in a show of Taliban unity and force: Waliur Rehman, the head of the Taliban in the tribal region of South Waziristan; Qari Hussain, the head of the suicide bombing squad of the Taliban; and Azam Tariq, the new spokesman for the Taliban. Mr. Mehsud was in good spirits, he said.

The prior leader of the Pakistani Taliban, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a drone attack in August, and reports had circulated that Hakimullah was killed in a power struggle over the succession. Hakimullah Mehsud was also the apparent target of an American drone attack a few months ago in the Orakzai tribal area of western Pakistan, Pakistani officials said.

Pir Zubair Shah contributed reporting.



Islam in the Ozarks: Diversity within the Mosque

By Jennifer Moore, 05 October 2009

This week, we’re continuing our series looking into the landscape of religious communities in the Ozarks, in which we explore lesser known faith groups. Today, KSMU’s Jennifer Moore speaks with members of the Islamic community of southwest Missouri, and looks at the diversity within local mosques.

Islamic Centre in Joplin

Gold thread sewn onto black velvet displays verses from the Qur'an, the sacred book in Islam.

On the outskirts of Joplin, a one story brick building with an American flag is protected by a privacy fence and a gate. A metal frame is all that remains of what used to be a sign.

"We had the sign. It read: Islamic Society of Joplin. In 2008, it was vandalized. It was burned," says Dr. Lahmuddin—he’s the imam, or leader, of the mosque in Joplin. He doesn’t have a first and last name—it’s just “Lahmuddin.”

His smile is constant, and his bright eyes are careful not to meet mine, as is the Muslim tradition between unrelated men and women.

[SOUND: “This is the main prayer hall…”]

He says this building used to be a church, but now it serves as the place of worship for about 40 Muslim families in and around Joplin.

And those families come from several different continents. Lahmuddin and his wife are from small villages in Indonesia.

About a decade ago, the family moved to Arkansas so that Lahmuddin could pursue his Ph.D. in Islamic studies.

Initially, he says, he was in culture shock. But the Muslim community in Arkansas soon became his new family, despite the fact that they neither shared his nationality nor his language. The mosque in Joplin, he says, is just as diverse.

"Some of them come from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, or Middle Eastern countries, like Egypt, Syria and Palestine, and I’m from Indonesia, and one sister is from Singapore," he says.

There is also a family from Afghanistan, and others come from sub-Saharan Africa. Lahmuddin says everyone speaks in English to communicate, and most importantly, that faith unites them.

"We have different cultures, of course. But since we worship [the] same God, we don’t have a problem with worshipping," he says.

He uses the English word “God” and the Arabic word “Allah” interchangeably.

Lahmuddin: The one God, his name in Arabic is "Allah." He has 98 other names.

Moore: What are some of the names?

Lahmuddin: Al-Rahman, Al-Raheem, Al-Quddus, and Al-Ghafoor....

Moore: And what do they mean?

Lahmuddin: Al-Rahman, means "The Most Merciful." Al-Raheem means "The Most Beneficient." Al-Ghafoor means "The One Who Forgives." So the Arabic people, whether they are Christian, or whatever their religion, when they mention about God, the word "God" in Arabic is "Allah."

The Arabic word for referring to the one God, “Allah,” is a close cousin to the Hebrew word “Eloh,” and the Aramaic word “Elah,” which Jesus would have used.

And while we’re on languages, local Muslims say the correct way to pronounce the word “Muslim” is with a soft “s,” instead of a “z” sound as in “muzz-lim.” It might not sound like a big difference, but in Arabic, “Muslim” means “someone who submits to God,” whereas “Muslim” actually means “mischief-maker.”

Another factor uniting many local Muslims is the so-called “American experience.” Some of the members of this community are Americans who have converted to the faith. But most are immigrants.

Lahmuddin says the American flag is flying in front of the mosque because the majority of Muslims here are now American citizens...and they’re proud of that.

One person who attends the mosque regularly is Dr. Iftikhar Ali, who practices internal medicine in Joplin.

"I have more freedom to practice my religion here, and teach my kids here than back home in Pakistan," he says.

One local hospital has even set aside a special room for Muslim staff members to perform their daily prayers. Ali says he wouldn’t feel completely safe practicing Islam in his home country of Pakistan.

Ali: You hear every day something happens back home.

Moore: Something an attack?

Ali: Attacks, yes, or Muslims killing Muslims, or Muslims are getting killed by somebody, you know, going to the mosque...And I never had a problem here in America.

That American experience is also felt by others in the Ozarks, including Dr. Wafaa Kaf, who attends the Islamic Centre in Springfield.

"I thought it would be to some extent limited for me to practice my religion here," she says.

Kaf teaches in the audiology department at Missouri State University. She’s originally from Egypt, and as a devout Muslim, she wears a headscarf and prays five times a day.

"So far, you know, it's free for me, I haven't seen, or I haven’t faced any restrictions," she says.

However, she says even in America, there’s a limit to that freedom. As an example, she points to her son at his school, saying he might not be given the time and space to perform his daily prayers. In this case, she said, he has to miss the prayer time.

Join us tomorrow as we ask local Muslims about their views on American politics.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.

[Arabic Music: Excerpt from "Asma Allah" (The Names of God): Al-Aleem, Al-Haleem, Al-Hakeem, Al-Mateen, Al-Mani', Al-Rahman, Al-Fattah, Al-Ghaffar...


The All-Knowing, The Forebearing, The Wise, The Steadfast, The Bestower of Blessings, The Most Merciful, The Opener, The Ever-Forgiving...]

Source: Full Report at:


Islamic food fest offers feast for senses

By Kelly Monroe, October 4, 2009

If anyone had reservations about tasting a new dish Sunday afternoon, it was hard to tell as people jockeyed for parking spots on Lincoln Avenue for the opportunity to sample Middle Eastern food.

For others, the allure of wearing a henna painting or an international shopping experience grabbed their attention.

The aroma of food could be smelled from blocks away. Children as well as adults stood patiently in line, waiting for their turn at the buffet-style tables.

All of this excitement was part of the eighth annual Islamic Society of Evansville's International Food Festival, which was held in the parking lot of the Islamic Centre on Lincoln Avenue.

Shaded by colourful tents, each table was lined with a variety of international food choices. The workers at the tents were eager to share their culture.

According to Bushra Saquib, who helped organize the event, the festival featured food from several Middle Eastern countries, India or Pakistan. There were also a few recognizable foods, such as corn and barbecue chicken, for those who were unsure about trying new food.

Full Report at:


First Islamic Film Market kicks off in Tehran

October 5, 2009

TEHRAN -- The First Islamic Film Market kicked off here in Tehran on Saturday at the venue of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization.

Minster of Culture and Islamic Guidance Mohammad Hosseini, members of the Islamic Radio and Television Union, director of the General Assembly of the Union Ali Karimian and several cultural figures attended the opening ceremony.

The third session of the General Assembly of the Islamic Radio and Television Union also opened on the same day.

Culture minister Hosseini made the opening speech and said that holding such programs leads to greater achievements and higher self-esteem, “We can revive the Islamic civilization and make the best use of the potentials of the world of Islam through the cooperation of Islamic countries.

“Islamic scholars are well-known throughout the world and we could make films and TV series based on their lives. Iran’s cinema has used these sources and has produced the TV series on Prophet Joseph and the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus,” he explained.

Full Report at:


End the Islamic occupation of Israel

October 04, 2009

I cannot believe this ran in the notoriously anti-Jewish newspaper, Haaretz. But hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day. Bravo!

The writer was the chairman of Professors for a Strong Israel from 2001 to 2005.  Halivay!

End the Arab occupation of Israel Ron Breiman (hat tip Rut)

From Gideon Levy to Barack Obama, from Yariv Oppenheimer to Ismail Haniyeh, from Zahava Gal-On to Tzipi Livni - they all recite the same phrase: It's time to put an end to the "occupation." Once the "occupation" ends, peace will be sealed. Once the Jews are expelled from the heart of their country, redemption will come to Zion. From here emerges "the solution" - two states within the tiny piece of prized property that remains, the western Land of Israel, not the Greater Land of Israel.

We would do well to recall that the PLO - the (all of!) Palestine Liberation Organization - was founded in 1964 before there was an "occupation," "the West Bank," "territories," and the other political terms that were designed to disinherit the Jewish people from the heart of their country, those swaths of land that were occupied - without quotation marks - by the Jordanian army in 1948, an occupation that lasted just 19 years. The PLO's goal was not to liberate the territories from Jordan, because those lands were in Arab hands. Rather, it aimed to liberate the "occupied" territories from the State of Israel, which lay within "the Green Line."

We would do well to recall that the PLO never changed its spots. It failed to do so when it signed for "peace" with the naive Yitzhak Rabin, who was lured into the trap sprung for him by the Osloites. And it failed to do so when it allegedly abrogated its charter. Even the recent Fatah conference and the statements by the "moderate" Holocaust denier, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, can attest to this. The goal was and remains to this day: the liberation of the "occupied" territories from Israel, namely the State of Israel within the confines of the Green Line.

Full Report at:


Renamed terror outfits face the heat in Pak

5 October 2009

 NEW DELHI: Terror groups in Pakistan may now find it difficult to squeeze out of tight spots by renaming their organisations.

In a move that could have significant implications for groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari promulgated an ordinance on Friday extending the anti-terrorism law against such rebadged groups.

Amending the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997, the ordinance, effective immediately, stated that if “office-bearers, activists or associates of a proscribed organisation form a new organisation under a different name, upon suspicion about their involvement in similar activities, the said organisation shall also be deemed to be a proscribed organisation”.

The government may then “issue a formal notification” about the proscription of the new group formed by members of a banned organisation, it said.

In light of the fact that terror suspects routinely walk free because of the 30-day rule, the duration of remand has been increased from 30 days to 90 days in the amended ordinance of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Full Report at:


Pak, US lost track of Osama five years ago: Musharraf

ANI 4 October

WASHINGTON: Former Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf has said that the US and Pakistan both lost track of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden five years ago, The Dawn reports.

Musharraf, who is on a lecture tour of the US currently, told students and delegates at a college in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, that both Pakistani and US intelligence have failed to collect any details regarding Laden's whereabouts, and now they are even unable to ascertain whether he was dead or alive.

Musharraf also said there is a need of a multifaceted strategy to deal with the Taliban effectively.

He said that while the Al-Qaeda should be eliminated from Pakistan by force, dealing with the Taliban would require a military, political and socio-economic approach.

The former general underlined the fact that the Taliban was a widespread organization with no central command.

"The Taliban is not a monolith, but rather a spread out organization with no single commander who could be removed for the command structure to be destroyed," he said.



Pak girl flogging case: One accused identified

PTI 4 October 2009

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities have identified one of the Taliban militants seen in a video of the public flogging of a girl in the restive

Swat valley - an incident that had shocked people around the world earlier this year.

Ameer alias Chota Aftab, who was allegedly involved in flogging the 17-year-old girl, was identified by authorities at the central jail in Dera Ismail Khan.

He was arrested some time ago along with eight other persons from Swat, officials were quoted as saying by TV news channels yesterday.

Officials said Ameer had been taken to an undisclosed location for questioning.

The video of the girl's flogging, shot on a mobile phone and circulated by rights activists, had sparked shock and revulsion across Pakistan and around the world in April.

It had also generated public support for the government's decision to launch a military operation against the Taliban in Swat.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani ordered an inquiry into the incident and Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary too took suo moto notice of the issue.



8 US troops die in one of worst Afghan battles

AFP 4 October 2009

 KABUL: US forces suffered one of their bloodiest days in eight years of war in Afghanistan with eight soldiers killed when their remote outposts were overrun by hundreds of Taliban militants, officials said on Sunday.

The dawn raid on Saturday saw militants sweep down a hillside from a mosque and a village in eastern Nuristan province, to attack two posts in the mountainous border region which is a haven for Al-Qaida and Taliban fighters.

The US forces called in airstrikes to repel the attack, in a fight that lasted into the night, the International Security Assistance Force said, describing it as a "a pretty tough fight".

"Coalition forces effectively repelled the attack and inflicted heavy enemy casualties while eight ISAF and two ANSF (Afghan National Security Force) service members were killed," it said.

Colonel Randy George, commander of Task Force Mountain Warrior in the area, said: "This was a complex attack in a difficult area. Both the US and Afghan soldiers fought bravely together."

A Taliban spokesman claimed that 30 foreign and Afghan troops were killed and that they captured the police chief of Kamdesh district as well as 30 Afghan National Army soldiers.

Full Report at:


Taliban confirm Uzbek commander’s death in drone attack

Full-scale military operation to start in SWA anytime

October 05, 2009

PESHAWAR: A senior Afghan Taliban commander has confirmed that dreaded Uzbek militant commander Qari Tahir Yuldashev was killed in the US drone attack during the last week of August in South Waziristan.

“Its true he is dead. Unfortunately he was staying at the same house which was struck by the drone in South Waziristan in August,” the Taliban commander acknowledged when contacted by phone.

Though, he did not mention the village where Tahir Yuldashev was killed, he said, the incident happened during the last week of August in South Waziristan. Other militant sources, however, said the Uzbek commander died in Kaniguram in South Waziristan, a place considered relatively safe for Taliban militants.

The Taliban commander said Tahir moved to the adjoining South Waziristan after frequent US drone attacks in Mirali in North Waziristan in which his men suffered heavy losses. He lived in Ladha and Makeen in South Waziristan for sometime but then moved to another town when US Predator planes started focusing on known strongholds of Mahsud Taliban there.

“None can escape death as finally he died in a drone attack that worried him a lot,” explained the Taliban commander who wished not to be named.The Taliban commander believed that Tahir, known as Qari Farooq in Waziristan, and his men had good relations with slain Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan chief Baitullah Mahsud and his militants. It was Baitullah Mahsud and his Mahsud militants who welcomed and accommodated Tahir and his men after their eviction from Wana and Azam Warsak areas of South Waziristan by the military-backed tribal lashkar led by a pro-government Taliban commander Maulvi Nazeer and his Ahmadzai Wazir tribal militants in 2007.


Iran has ‘sufficient’ information to build bomb

October 05, 2009

US sees advance in N-cooperation from Tehran

ElBaradei says IAEA to inspect new nuclear site in Qom on 25th

WASHINGTON: A confidential analysis by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicates that Iran has acquired “sufficient information to be able to design and produce a workable” atom bomb, The New York Times reported late on Saturday.

Citing unnamed European officials, the newspaper said the IAEA report stresses in its introduction that its conclusions are tentative and subject to further confirmation of the evidence, which it says came from intelligence agencies and its own investigations. But the report’s conclusions go well beyond the public positions taken by several governments, including the United States, the paper said. In 2007, US intelligence agencies announced that Tehran halted its efforts to design a nuclear weapon in 2003. But in recent months, Britain has joined France, Germany and Israel in disputing that conclusion, saying the work has been resumed.

A senior US official said last week that the US was now re-evaluating its 2007 conclusions, The Times said. The IAEA report also presents evidence that improving upon bomb-making information gathered from rogue nuclear experts around the world, Iran has done extensive research and testing on how to fashion the components of a weapon, the paper said.

But the document does not say how far that work has progressed. The IAEA report, titled “Possible Military Dimensions of Iran’s Nuclear Programme,” was produced in consultation with a range of nuclear weapons experts inside and outside the agency, The Times said. It draws a picture of a complex programme, run by Iran’s Ministry of Defence, “aimed at the development of a nuclear payload to be delivered using the Shahab 3 missile system”, which can strike the Middle East and parts of Europe, according to the paper.

Cooperation: President Barack Obama’s top security adviser dismissed the Times’ report and said on Sunday Iranian cooperation in the last few weeks was good for nuclear non-proliferation. “Whether they know how to do it or not is a matter of some conjecture, but what we are watching is what is their intent and we have been worried about that intent,” National Security adviser Jim Jones said. “We now have an Iran that is willing to come to the table,” Jones said on CBS’s ‘Face the Nation’ programme.

Full Report at:\10\05\story_5-10-2009_pg20_1


Afghan war winable: NATO

October 05, 2009

LONDON: NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Sunday insisted that the war in Afghanistan could succeed and said troops would stay “as long as it takes to finish our job”. Rasmussen also stressed it was too early to say how many additional troops should be sent to Afghanistan, as US President Barack Obama considers a request from US commander General Stanley McChrystal for up to 40,000 more soldiers. He called for a “strategic partnership” between NATO and Russia. afp



What I saw at the Afghan election

Peter W. Galbraith I, October 05, 2009

BEFORE firing me last week from my post as his deputy special representative in Afghanistan, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon conveyed one last instruction: Do not talk to the press. In effect, I was being told to remain a team player after being thrown off the team. Nonetheless, I agreed.

As my differences with my boss, Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide, had already been well publicized (through no fault of either of us), I asked only that the statement announcing my dismissal reflect the real reasons. Alain LeRoy, the head of UN peacekeeping and my immediate superior in New York, proposed that the United Nations say I was being recalled over a “disagreement as to how the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) would respond to electoral fraud.” Although this was not entirely accurate — the dispute was really about whether the UN mission would respond to the massive electoral fraud — I agreed.

Instead, the United Nations announced my recall as occurring “in the best interests of the mission,” and UN press officials told reporters on background that my firing was necessitated by a “personality clash” with Eide, a friend of 15 years who had introduced me to my future wife.

I might have tolerated even this last act of dishonesty in a dispute dating back many months if the stakes were not so high. For weeks, Eide had been denying or playing down the fraud in Afghanistan’s recent presidential election, telling me he was concerned that even discussing the fraud might inflame tensions in the country. But in my view, the fraud was a fact that the United Nations had to acknowledge or risk losing its credibility with the many Afghans who did not support President Hamid Karzai.

I also felt loyal to my UN colleagues who worked in a dangerous environment to help Afghans hold honest elections — at least five of whom have now told me they are leaving jobs they love in disgust over the events leading to my firing. Afghanistan’s presidential election, held Aug. 20, should have been a milestone in the country’s transition from 30 years of war to stability and democracy. Instead, it was just the opposite.

As many as 30 percent of Karzai’s votes were fraudulent, and lesser fraud was committed on behalf of other candidates. In several provinces, including Kandahar, four to 10 times as many votes were recorded as voters actually cast. The fraud has handed the Taleban their greatest strategic victory in eight years of fighting the United States and its Afghan partners.

Full Report at:


Arab govt’s back Yemen in battle with rebels, unrest

4 October 2009,

Arab governments moved on Sunday to support Sanaa in its bid to crush rebels in northern Yemen, while clashes broke out in the southern city of Dhaleh over the detention of southerners viewed by the authorities as secessionists.

Dozens of people have been killed in the latest confrontations with security forces over the past six months — in the south since April, and in the north since August when Sanaa launched a crackdown on Zaidi Shia rebels.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said on Sunday that Cairo supports the Yemeni government and people in the face of the northern rebellion and rejects any foreign interference.

‘We reject... any kind of rebellion and we reject any foreign interference (in Yemen). Egypt is wholly supporting — with all its power and capabilities — its sister Yemen,’ he told reporters in Sanaa.

Saudi Deputy Interior Minister Prince Ahmad bin Abdul Aziz told reporters in Riyadh that Riyadh was cooperating with Sanaa in its battle against the rebels, but rejected rebel allegations that the Saudi air force was joining Sanaa’s aerial bombardments against them.

The accusations are ‘absolutely not true,’ Prince Ahmad said, Al Hayat newspaper reported on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Arab League chief Amr Mussa is due in Sanaa on Tuesday to meet President Ali Abdullah Saleh and discuss efforts to restore calm.

Sanaa claimed late on Saturday that its forces had killed five rebels and arrested 16 in the latest fighting in the northern provinces of Saada and Amran.

Full Report at:


Cancelling missile defence will look good if Russia helps on Iran

By Tomas Valasek, October 05, 2009

The United States rankled some of its European allies and delighted Russia on September 17 when President Barack Obama cancelled plans to build missile defense bases in the Czech Republic and Poland.

The decision makes practical sense – the bases “were to use unproven technology against a threat that does not yet exist,” as the former national security adviser during the Carter administration, Zbigniew Brzezinski put it. But the decision carries some risks as well. Obama will look naïve if Moscow does not reciprocate by cooperating in American efforts to put an end to Iran’s nuclear program. There is also a chance that a triumphant Russia will conclude that with enough bluster and bravado, the United States can be threatened into abandoning its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Whatever may be the outcome, the Obama decision would mark a watershed in Europe’s relations with the two former Cold War adversaries – the United States and Russia.

The decision has been long in coming. The Democrats have always suspected former President George W. Bush of overselling the technical capabilities of missile defence. When he was in office, the president claimed credit for deploying two bases in the United States even though the defence system had performed poorly in tests. The proposed new third site in Poland was to employ a missile that has yet to be developed or even tested (the Czech Republic was to host the radar installation).

“We already have two sites that don’t work. Do we need a third one that doesn’t?” asked one senior American official close to Barack Obama.

Instead, the US president has proposed to deploy a number of simpler, already proven Navy missiles in and around Europe. These can only intercept short- and medium-range missiles. However, experts respond to this by arguing that Iran, the principle party the missile defence network was supposed to defend against, will not have intercontinental-range missiles for at least another decade anyway. The new missile defence architecture could actually make Europe more secure against a threat from Iran. That is because the missiles originally planned for deployment in Poland were designed to destroy missiles bound for the United States, not Europe. But this turnaround will be cold comfort to the Eastern Europeans, who now have to worry about Moscow’s reaction.

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Five injured in clash over 12-year-old boy's death in J&K; shutdown continues

PTI 5 October 2009

SRINAGAR: Five persons were on Monday injured when locals protesting the killing of a 12-year-old boy clashed with police in Baramulla town of North Kashmir where a complete shutdown continued for the fourth consecutive day.

Shops, business establishments, educational and semi-government institutions remained closed and traffic was off the roads in the town, 55 kms from here, officials said.

They said scores of people defied prohibitory orders and tried to march towards the main chowk in the town but police prevented them leading to clashes in which five persons including a policeman were injured.

The protesters were demanding action against the policemen allegedly responsible for the killing of Irfan Ahmad Lone, a Class VII student, in tear gas shelling on Friday last.

Irfan was killed and four others were injured when police used batons and fired tear gas shells to quell a demonstration in the town to protest the continued house arrest of hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

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