Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A special thanks from the Taliban

Yesterday, Pakistani President Asif Zardari, the widower of Benazir Bhutto, signed into law a "peace agreement" where the Pakistani Taliban would implement Sharia law in the scenic Swat Valley. Sharia, of course, is the type of "justice system" that allows for the flogging of a teenage girls and arranged marriages between old men and 8-year olds.

Anyway, the Taliban have shown their appreciation by refusing to lay down their arms, which was supposed to be their side of the bargain. So here we have it...the Taliban gets to welsh on their deal and the Pakistani government is left with their country backsliding into the grip of homicidal maniacs. The Taliban also had a "thank you" gift to offer...

From BBC:

A suicide car bomber has attacked a security post in north-western Pakistan, killing at least 18 people, nine of them police, police say.

The bomber set off his explosives as he pulled up at a checkpoint in Charsadda, a town near the city of Peshawar.

There has so far been no claim of responsibility for the attack.

But correspondents say Pakistani Taleban militants, allied to al-Qaeda, have carried out numerous such attacks over the past two years.

Sick stuff. I hope that President Obama can show the same determination he showed when confronting the Somali pirates.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A proud moment for all Americans

Shortly after arriving in Boston this morning I saw the news that Captain Richard Phillips was freed by US Navy SEALS in the Gulf of Aden...3 of his captors were shot dead and the fourth was captured. Hearing this gave me a great rush of patriotism, and I hope that all Americans felt the same way.

Perhaps this event will show the Somali pirates and their brethren in Mogadishu, the Al-Qaeda-allied Al-Shabaab militia, that America is not going to deal with their antics. These pirates picked the wrong crew to mess with, that's for sure, and eventually, it looked like these pirates would have been satisfied if they could have escaped with their lives, never mind the $2 million ransom they were demanded. However, their potential future in pirating met a violent end.

A collage of Somali pirates...time for transport ships like Maersk Alabama to be armed so they can protect themselves.

Navy SEALS in Afghanistan...let's hope that the Taliban scum who flog young girls and blow up mosques got news of what happened off the coast of Somalia.

Anyway, the Maersk Alabama arrived safely in Mombassa, Kenya, with all of its cargo. The ship was delivering aid to suffering Africans, and luckily all of that aid will be able to reach them.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Iraqi blogosphere + Israel and Palestine debates = Mayhem

While we have watched Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and the people of Iraq triumph in the face of terrorism, there is another struggle, maybe even a war, that is taking place, and it is happening in the Iraqi blogosphere.

First, my friends over at Iraqi Bloggers Central have announced they are closing their doors. While this is a bit depressing, I am very happy for them...they have run the blog for 5 successful years. I don't always agree with them--particularly Mr. Ghost, but nonetheless they have all at one time or another done something to help Iraq and its people. Jeffrey, the most frequent poster, has noted there has been a decline in English-language Iraqi link list has quite a few of them, I might add. But on the other hand, there is a growing number of inactive Iraqi bloggers, as evident by the growing list on IBC.

Speaking of which, those blogs that have been a good read are experiencing some trouble. Iraqi Mojo has always been one of my favorite Iraqi bloggers with his spot-on analysis of the situation in Iraq and willingness to stand up for what is right. Today though, the blog has been overrun with haters, many of which come Healing Iraq, a run-down, inactive site that was run by Zeyad Kasim, who also had some good thoughts to offer at one point. Anyway, Mojo's blog has been the center of a debate that tends to invoke nothing but hate and anger for 60 years: Israel and Palestine.

A residential neighborhood in Ramallah, the capital of the West Bank. Anyone who knows about the debate knows that this is a frequent battleground between Israelis and Palestinians.

The lines have been drawn over at Mojo's, and commentators who were once friendly with each other are know bashing each other, tossing insults around, and getting worked up over nothing because anti-American supporters of the Iraqi "Resistance" like Arab Advocate and his side-kick, Bruno, the Afrikaner, have figured out how to stir up trouble and get their sick kicks. In the year and a half I have been commenting at Mojo's, I have been able to avoid the discussion...I always feared that because I vehemently stand beside Israel's right to exist and believe that Israel offers light in a region overrun by darkness I would forever be labeled a "Zionist", a "Zionut", or as some haters will say, a "fascist", or a "Nazi", words which I believe are deliberately used to cause hurt the people of the Jewish Homeland, given their historical significance.

However, when Arab Advocate calls for Israel to be "dismantled"--a codeword for "destroyed"--I have no choice but to speak up. In the midst of my defense, I have been accused of supporting "the deportation of Palestinians to Jordan", supporting Avigdor Lieberman and his policies, supporting the West Bank settlers, and worst of all, not caring about the right of Palestinians. This stuff is so out of proportion I don't even know where to begin. For starters, I am strongly opposed to the settlements and their inhabitants who regularly attack both innocent Palestinians and Israelis who try to protect them. I think they, alongside terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are one of the biggest obstacles to peace in the region. Not only that, they really aren't any different from each other. Militant Zionists like those mentioned in the above link are just as bad as the Palestinians who fire rockets and mortars into Israel. At the same time, I don't think it makes me "anti-Palestinian" to point out that Jordan, in addition to Israel, snatched up Palestinian land in the first partition. Am I anti-Palestinian when I express my sheer outrage over what Hamas does to its own people? I hope anyone who cares about Palestinians wouldn't think this.

Israel has no doubt done bad things in its 60 years history, while at the same time attempting to offer things that no other country in the region will offer, like free press, democracy, women's rights, and major technological advantages, things that I believe are necessary for any society to truly succeed. Perhaps its difficult for some Americans to focus on the bad things Israel has done because they blindly support Israel for religious reasons--a means to an end, if I may say so. Or maybe its because Israel is surrounded by regimes so evil and repressive, like gender-apartheid Saudi Arabia, Bashir's blood-soaked Sudan, and Big Q's Libya, that it makes the settler violence seem mild in the eyes of the world.

If a fair international forum could exist, Israel would have things to answer for. Unfortunately, its nearly impossible to take the UN "Human Rights" Commission seriously when they give their posts and chairmanships to countries like the 3 mentioned above (Libya, Sudan, Saudi Arabia) and expect the world to take action against Israel. While the Gaza War erupted backed in December, an even worse conflict raged on in the jungles of Sri Lanka...just recently, 60 civilians were blown up by mortar fire but no one cares because this debate does not invoke political passion like Israel and Palestine do. During the the Gaza war, pro-Hamas protests broke out here in San Francisco, believe it or not. I haven't seen any protesters in San Francisco march through the streets waving Tamil Tiger flags and calling for the destruction of the Sri Lankan government, which could meet all the same criteria of being a "racist state" as Israel might. America has provided aid to Sri Lanka and has the Tamil Tigers on their list of terrorist organizations as well.

Recently, on Angry Arab's Comment Section, a blog I often visit, one commentator made a joke about Israeli immigrants moving to India and stealing Indian land, completely oblivious to the fact that India is already being "occupied" by Pakistan and Bangladesh, but I guess maybe its okay for these people because the occupiers are Muslims, instead of Jews. I've seen many of the commentators go after the Hindus of India for being the oppressive ones while falling silent over what Pakistani and Bangladeshi militants have done to India's civilian population. And no, I am not going on an anti-Muslim rant. Any regular reader of this blog would know that I have fiercely defended Pakistan in its fight against terrorism and that its harder to find a bigger defender of the Islamic religion than myself. I just don't think that blatant hypocrisy is fair.

My point in going on about this is that I really wish that people would completely and totally avoid this debate UNLESS they are willing to hear the other side and listen to their concerns. At the beginning of the month, I attended a debate featuring As'ad Abukhalil, the "Angry Arab" and Israeli Consul General Akiva Tor. I was disgusted by the people who claimed to be "Pro-Palestinian"--they were extremely disrespectful to the Consul General by shouting insults and yelling at him when he was trying to speak. Somewhere in the crowd, conscientious supporters of the Palestinian people must have been very embarrassed by what was happening. The event was advertised as though it would be a forum to discuss the was anything but. While it was very exciting to meet the two speakers, the "forum" managed to attract the worst of American Society.

I have met Palestinians...and I have met Israelis. Sometimes it seems they are more willing to discuss the issues than their supporters in other countries, believe it or not. Unless you are willing to bring your opponent into a cafe, drink coffee, and talk things over, you should avoid talking about anything involving Israel and Palestine for your own well-being and the well-being of others. I've heard that this conflict has wrecked many political careers over its perplexity and inability to be solved...I would say that the debate has wrecked many good and decent friendships over the inability to find any common ground.