Travels from Bangladesh

December 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nargis Rahman, TMO

Lush green trees amid debris, pollution and beggars surrounded Shah Jalal International Airport in Dhaka, Bangladesh, my husband, two-year-old son and I went for an 18-day vacation to visit family two weeks ago. We clung close to our luggage and airport authorities who guided us through the crowd to a Kuwait rented bus that would take us home to Sylhet, Bangladesh.

As the air-conditioned (a luxury in the country) battered bus jerked back and forth and the driver blared the horn through the seven-hour journey, my husband and I cradled our son and braced ourselves for possible accidents. The sky was grey and the cars, rikshaws, and even cows jammed the streets.

Two men dressed in all-black uniforms, do-rags and sunglasses, the Rapid Action Battalion authority similar to the FBI in the US, zoomed past us in a vehicle similar to a pick-up truck. I tensed at their sight. RAB nicknamed the “death squad” by humanitarian groups killed nearly 130 people last year (as of January 2011) to the UK-based newspaper The Guardian.
A mile into the village where my husband was born, 30 people came out to greet us and led us to my father-in-law’s eight bedroom cement home nicknamed “America” by the neighbors. To them we were wealthy.

Bangladesh is known for its poverty. For two weeks we lived removed from the luxuries of a computer, television, heat, and a car. We relied on relatives to set-up trips, execute financial decisions from what to eat to where to shop, and how to interact with the villagers.

The village was unlike the city, with clean air and the wind blowing through grapefruit, coconut, shathkhora (a citrus fruit), and bitternut (used for chewing) trees. Rice fields, grass and vegetation were spread between far-out buildings. Adults and kids bathed in man-made ponds, also used for washing clothes and cooking water. 

While the country seemed busy and quiet from the political rumble, posters of war crime prisoners charged by the Bangladesh War Crimes Tribunal were put-up in town centers and major road crossings. Five Jamaat-e-Islami and two Bangladesh National Party political leaders have been arrested and one, Delwar Hossain Sayedee, formally charged for crimes against humanity during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. His trial began November 21.

A cousin would joke of the Bangladesh Awami League meetings in the village, while he passed out literature of those who died during Jamaat-e-Islami crossfires with police, or fights with the student groups of the major political parties Bangladesh Awami League (AL) and Bangladesh National Party (BNP) on college campuses.

As I looked out into the river behind our home in Bangladesh two days before our journey back to the US, the still water gave me a vision of a brighter future for a country torn between the rich and poor, right and wrong, and past and future.

13-50

Shahid Khan to Purchase NFL’s Jaguars

December 1, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver fired longtime coach Jack Del Rio on Tuesday after a 3-8 start and agreed to sell the National Football League’s Jaguars to Pakistani-American businessman Shahid Khan of Illinois. League sources told ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen that the sale is estimated to be between $750 and $800 million.

“It’s a little bittersweet, honestly, that it came as soon as it did,” Weaver announced. “But the main motivation for the exit strategy was to find someone that has the same passion about the NFL, had the same passion about football in Jacksonville as we do, and I found that person.”

“Wayne’s legacy will be lasting, and I will always be grateful for Wayne’s trust and confidence in my commitment to the Jaguars, the NFL and the people of the Jacksonville community,” the 61-year-old Khan said in a statement.

Born in Pakistan, Khan left home at age 16 to attend the University of Illinois. He graduated in 1971, a year after he started working for Flex-N-Gate Corp. in Urbana, Ill. He purchased the company in 1980. Today, Flex-N-Gate is a major manufacturer of bumper systems for pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles built in North America.

“He’s going to buy a home here in Jacksonville. He’s going to spend time here in Jacksonville,” Weaver said of Khan. “He’s going to keep the Jaguars management group intact. He’s keeping the Jaguars staff intact. He has a great admiration for what we’ve been able to accomplish here and the way we run our business here so he’s keeping all that intact.”

While Weaver is confident Khan will keep the team in Jacksonville, there is nothing written in the deal which obligates Khan to do that. Weaver’s confidence stems from assurances Khan has made to him personally and the fact that the Jaguars’ lease to play at EverBank Field runs through the 2029 season. If the Jaguars wanted to leave before the end of the deal, the lease requires the team to prove they had lost money in three consecutive seasons or to convince a local judge that the city was failing to properly maintain the stadium.

“It’s pretty hard to put something in writing saying you have to do something but you have to trust individuals’ integrity and I have no doubt that Shahid is going to do what he plans to do,” Weaver said. “I had to be comfortable that his plan was to keep the team in Jacksonville. There’s not a doubt in my mind that this team will be in Jacksonville.”

Khan tried to purchase controlling interest in the NFL’s St. Louis Rams last year. But minority owner Stan Kroenke pulled an end-around and exercised his right to purchase full control of the franchise. Khan’s purchase of the Jaguars is subject to NFL approval. League owners will vote to ratify the deal December 14th, and if it passes it would become official on January 4th.

13-49

Bangladesh Ends Losing Streak Against West Indies

October 15, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Compiled by Parvez Fatteh, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

In his first match as Bangladeshi national team captain, Mushfiqur Rahim led Bangladesh’s cricket team to their first Twenty20 International victory in 12 matches, taking the squad from the front with 41 not out on their way to a three-wicket home win over West Indies on Tuesday.

Rahim replaced Shakib Al Hasan as captain and hit a six off paceman Ravi Rampaul in the penultimate delivery of the last over, taking Bangladesh to 135-7 after they had restricted West Indies to 132-8.
The hosts had been set for a cliffhanger finish with 20 runs needed in the final two overs on a sluggish Mirpur wicket, but Rahim and Nasir Hossain took 14 runs in the penultimate over to bring the equation down to six runs in six balls.

Rampaul conceded only two runs in his first four balls before Rahim’s huge six over mid-wicket made the home crowd scream with joy.

The defeat was hard for Marlon Samuels, who scored 58 off 42 balls with two fours and four sixes to give West Indies some respectability before celebrating his return to international cricket as a bowler with 2-14.

13-42

Houston Alliance of Pakistan Floods Relief Efforts First Phase of In-Kind Donation Drive has Started

September 29, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

2011-09-23T172505Z_869930222_GM1E79O044401_RTRMADP_3_PAKISTAN-FLOODS

A girl, displaced by floods, carries pots as she walks on the trunk of a tree floating in the water near her home in the Badin district of Pakistan’s Sindh province September 23, 2011. The latest floods, triggered by monsoon rains, have killed more than 230 people, destroyed or damaged 1.2 million houses and flooded 4.5 million acres (1.8 million hectares) since late last month, officials and Western aid groups say. More than 300,000 people have been moved to shelters. Some 800,000 families hit by last year’s floods are still homeless. Aid groups have warned of a growing risk of fatal diseases.

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Houston, Texas: Sindh Pakistan has been devastated by the most destructive floods in more than 51 Years. This calamity is even bigger than the Pakistani Floods 2010.

There are many “Blessings in Unity”. Keeping this in perspective, a united effort has been launched in the Greater Houston region to serve Sisters & Brothers in humanity in dire needs. More than thirty organizations and media partners have joined in the efforts and others are being encouraged to join this Alliance.

As the 1st phase of these efforts, collection of In-Kind donation items for Pakistan Floods 2011 victims started on Friday, September 23rd, 2011, and will continue every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday till October 16th, 2011 (can be extended if needed). Monetary Fundraising event(s) will be held sometimes in October 2011.

Mian Nazir, Coordinator of the In-Kind Donation Drive, can be reached at 1-713-922-8458. Following is the In-Kind donation items that patrons of humanity need to graciously bring (NO CLOTHES PLEASE):

High Energy Biscuits – Small Bags of Rice / Lentils / Beans / Salt / Sugar – Small Bottles of Cooking Oil – Snacks items like Chips, Natural Valley Trial Mix, Natural Oats ″N Honey, etc. – Family Tents (both normal and winterized) – Brand New Blankets & Comforters – Brand New Towels – Brand New Plastic Sheets – Mosquito Nets; preferably Long-Lasting Insecticides Treated Mosquito Nets (LLINs) – Hygiene Kits (each kit should include at the minimum one 10-litres water container like bucket for storage, two 250-grams bathing soap, two 200-grams laundry soap, one toothpaste 75-ml/100-g, four tooth brushes, etc.) – Water Purification Systems (preferably family water filter straw) – De-Watering Pumps – Water Purification Tablets – Medicines (over the counter pain, fever, & similar; iron supplements; vitamins; creams for rash & itch; bandages; etc.) – Oral Rehydration Solutions (ORS) – Storage Box Size 16-Inches x 12-Inches x 12-Inches (from Home Depot or U-Haul).

Also appeal to all the persons bringing the In-Kind donations to please contribute some amount like $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $200, or any amount that will help with the logistics of this In-Kind donation drive and will be used to send all of the In-Kind donation items to Pakistan.

Many volunteers are needed. Community Service Volunteer Hours Certificates and Refreshments will be provided to all the volunteers.

WHERE TO COME TO VOLUNTEER & BRING THE IN-KIND DONATION ITEMS

Pakistan Center, 12638 Bissonett (at South Dairy Ashford), Houston, Texas 77099

IN-KIND DONATION COLLECTION & VOLUNTEERIG SHIFTS

Fridays, September 30th, October 07th, & 14th, 2011: 5:30pm.-8:30pm. – Saturdays, October 01st, 08th, & 15th, 2011: 9:30am.-12:30pm / 1:30pm.-4:30pm. / 5:30pm.-8:30pm. – Sundays, October 02nd, 09th, 16th, 2011: 12-Noon-3:00pm. / 3:00pm.-6:00pm.

Everyone needs to volunteer and encourage others to volunteer, donate the In-Kind items, and give some monetary assistance to properly run this In-Kind donation drive. Involvement of members of all of Alliance’s organizations; and all Houstonians, including organizations’ patrons, other community-based organizations, honorable elected officials, mainstream media, and others; everyone’s participation is needed for this crucial humanitarian cause.

Corporate stores like Wal*Mart, Sam’s Club, Pharmaceutical Companies, and others can be approached and encouraged to participate and donate generously to assist the humanity in dire needs.
For more information, one can reach Saeed Sheikh, Coordinator of Alliance of Pakistan Floods Relief Efforts, 1-281-948-1840 / Talat Talpur, Treasurer of Alliance of Pakistan Floods Relief Efforts, 1-832-594-2159 / ILyas Choudry, Secretary of Alliance of Pakistan Floods Relief Efforts, 1-832-275-0786;

Alliance Members as of Monday, September 26th, 2011 are (in alphabetical order): 1) Pakistan Prime Minister’s Flood Relief Fund 2011 – 2) Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America (APPNA) South Texas Chapter – 3) Hashoo Foundation USA – 4) Helping Hand [USA] For Relief & Development (HHRD) – 5) HOPE – 6) Houston-Istanbul Sister City Association (HISCA) – 7) Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA) – 8) Muslim Council of USA – 9) Pakistani-American Association of Greater Houston (PAGH) – 10) Pakistan Association of Golden Triangle (PAGT) – 11) Pakistani-American Society of Texas (PAST) – 12) Pakistan Chamber of Commerce USA (PCC-USA) – 13) Raindrop Helping Hands – 14) Raindrop Turkish House – 15) Red Cross – 16) Shifa Healthcare – 17) Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation (SIUT) – 18) Sindhi Association of North America (SANA) – 19) Sun Charity – 20) The Citizens Foundation – 21) Voices Breaking Boundaries (VBB)…
Media Partners: 1) Pakistan Chronicle – 2) Pakistan Journal – 3) Pakistan News – 4) Pakistan Post – 5) Pakistan Times – 6) Radio Houston – 7) Radio Light Of Islam – 8) Radio Music-in-the-Box – 9) Radio Naya Andaz – 10) Radio Sangeet…

13-40

Anam Miah: Second Time Around

September 22, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nargis Hakim Rahman

Anam_miahAnam Miah, Hamtramck City Council candidate, imagines the city of Hamtramck, Mich. as a place for leaders and community members to work together toward common goals by unifying through diversity and neighborly relations.

Miah, 35, said this is the right time for him to join in the leadership to help bring about a discussion between leaders and residents. “This community deserves to know what’s going on behind the doors in city hall.”

Miah received 345 votes in the August Primaries, making it to the top six. He ran in 2009, at a time when he had four union contracts as the President of the local USW 690 for steel workers (he was elected in April 2006), which took away time from door-to-door campaigning.

He has been employed at Flexible Products in Auburn Hills, Mich. for 15 years.

As a 25-year resident of Hamtramck, Miah remembers growing up in a time when people were proud home owners, and they took care of their neighborhoods. He said things have changed since, “Ethnic groups stick with their own.” 

“That’s not how a community works,” Miah said. “We need to all put our two cents in. I need to look at where I’m from and where you’re from to get a better sense of unity.” Miah was born in Bangladesh and moved to the United States with his family to pursue a better life.

One of the issues Miah hopes to tackle if elected is work to train Hamtramck police officers to better deal with the diverse community made up of predominant populations of Polish, Bangladeshi, Yemeni and Bosnian Americans. 

He said police are hard-wired to “follow the book” rather than explain offenses in a dignified manner to citizens who may “not fully understand the rules.” Another way to deal with this problem is by hiring people within the diverse communities to fill (when applicable) vacant spots in City Hall and the police and fire departments, he said.

Residents are left in the dark on how their tax money is used, he said. For example, Miah said leaders can help people find out about federally funded programs for low-income families such as the Michigan Weatherization Program, which helps people in the city without hurting the budget. “Vast amount of people are working class… more than well qualified don’t know or never have heard about these programs.” 

Miah was inspired to change his life after a trip to Memphis, Tenn., with USW, where Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The experience made him reflect and realize he could make a difference, “Instead of living my life working and paying bills.” 

This one man changed world history for minorities and people, he said. “If he can do it and he has done it I can try.”

Miah has been serving on the Hamtramck Zoning Board of Appeals since 2006.

He hopes to pursue an Associate’s Degree in criminal justice or political science at Oakland Community College. 

The father of two works from his home office with an average of 35 volunteers.

13-39

Understanding the Basics of Medicaid Planning

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil Daudi, Esq.

080416medicaidgeneric46 (1)

It has become quite evident that more and more aging Americans are beginning to rely on governmental assistance for their health care needs. In fact, Medicaid is officially the country’s largest health program when it comes to recipients – serving approximately 56 million Americans.

Although the laws of Medicaid continue to evolve each year, the planning and focus given should also adjust accordingly to ensure the recipients are keeping up-to-date. It is always important to learn the new laws in the event you have a loved who is considering being entered into a nursing home.

The following are three (3) basic questions that are often misunderstood when it comes to planning for Medicaid:

Do I have to give up all of my assets to qualify for Medicaid?

No. With careful planning, you can help increase the number of assets you are allowed to keep. Medicaid applies differently depending on the marital status of the applicant. However, in general terms, any applicant applying for Medicaid is allowed to keep the following “exempt assets”:

Vehicle

Home

Personal belongings

$2000 cash

Life insurance with total face value of $1500 or less.

Prepaid irrevocable funeral contract

Exempt asset are assets that are not countable for Medicaid eligibility purposes. Any remaining assets are considered “non-exempt” assets, and these must be “spent down” in order to become eligible for Medicaid. However, it is always advised to consult with a professional when applying for Medicaid as any experienced attorney would be able to guide you and recommend ways for you to increase your “exempt” assets.

What does it mean to “spend down” my assets?

Once you’ve determined your “exempt” assets, anything remaining is considered “non-exempt” and thus counted towards your eligibility. However, with crafty planning and proper advice, there are ways to lower your “non-exempt” assets and that is by spending down the value you carry. For example, purchasing a home, renovating your home, buying personal property, buying a new vehicle, purchasing an SBO trust (“Sole for the benefit of”) or a single premium immediate annuity. These are all permissible ways of “spending down” your countable assets.  

What does Medicaid pay for?

The average cost of a nursing home in Michigan is approximately $6500 a month. A person who enters into a nursing home Medicaid certified, the government will cover the cost of the care, less the patient-pay amount, which is based on a formula.

The formula itself begins with the Medicaid beneficiary’s monthly income that they receive from Social Security and any possible pension. In addition, the beneficiary can keep $60 for their personal needs and any money needed to pay for private health insurance.

Please note that the above information is simply a guide providing you with the basic understanding of Medicaid. It is always advised to seek professional advice when applying as you would learn how to maximize the assets you can keep and receive assistance in spending down the assets you can’t. Despite the government’s generousity in providing such assistance, it is always best to find ways to preserve your own money for your benefit.

Adil Daudi is an Attorney at Joseph, Kroll & Yagalla, P.C., focusing primarily on Asset Protection for Physicians, Physician Contracts, Estate Planning, Business Litigation, Corporate Formations, and Family Law. He can be contacted for any questions related to this article or other areas of law at adil@josephlaw.net or (517) 381-2663.

13-35

Malouda and Anelka Lead Chelsea to Opening Day Victory

August 25, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

MALOUDARender11
File:  Florent Malouda

It was an all-Muslim score-sheet for Chelsea Football Club this past weekend as they won their opening English Premier League match 2-1 over West Brom. French striker Nicolas Anelka scored the equalizer, before French midfielder Florent Malouda knocked home the winning goal with seven minutes left in the second half.

This was the first match for new Chelsea manager Andres Villas-Boas, and it looked to be an easy time, with Chelsea having beaten West Brom in all 10 of their English League meetings. But Chelsea started poorly after falling behind 1-0 in the first half, leaving the faithful at Stamford Bridge a little nervous heading into half-time. Malouda had lost his starting place in the midfield, but was inserted into the line-up in the second half.

The home fans screamed for a penalty two minutes later when West Brom goalkeeper Foster clattered into Anelka but referee Lee Mason felt the goalkeeper had got a bit of the ball. There was little improvement from Chelsea at the start of the second half but a slice of luck helped them equalize in the 53rd minute.

Frank Lampard went down in the box laying the ball back to Anelka, who cut inside and unleashed a shot which took a telling deflection off the heel of Jonas Olsson and nestled in the far corner. The goal sparked the game to life, Scharner heading James Morrison’s cross over the bar and Malouda seeing a half-volley blocked before Lampard played in Anelka, whose shot hit the legs of Foster and rebounded to Malouda, only for Steven Reid to throw his body at the ball.

Lampard and Anelka were linking up well, the latter hooking over under pressure before Drogba just failed to control a great ball from Ivanovic. Anelka wasted a great breakaway chance with eight minutes left, steering the ball into the sidenetting from 35 yards after Foster had come racing off his line. It did not matter as the winner arrived a minute later, Bosingwa skipping too easily between Morrison and Nicky Shorey down the right and producing the ball of the match, swept home by Malouda at the far post.

Villas-Boas had not lost a league match with his former team, Porto, in the Portuguese league in over 16 months. Thanks to Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka, his unbeaten streak continues.

13-35

Post-Traumatic Stress: The Disability of Our Time

August 18, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological problem that can affect people from any part of the globe, and from every social class. We can all sympathize with someone who lost his mind after his family got swept away by a tsunami. We have all heard stories of war veterans who were no longer the same after they came back home. Yet PTSD can also be triggered by seemingly minor events, such as being punished as a child for a misdeed one didn’t commit. It is increasingly documented that women involved with men on the autism spectrum are extremely likely to suffer from PTSD due to the constant emotional trauma of caring for a person disabled by a neurological disorder, which prevents him from responding appropriately to the needs of others.

PTSD was not labeled as a psychiatric disorder until 1980, but people have suffered from PTSD throughout the history of mankind. During the American Civil War it was called “Soldier’s Heart.” It is possible that the prevalence of PTSD has increased in recent years due to the ability to access graphic news on TV and the internet. Humans are now able to see traumatic events all over the world and some people have trouble coping with the images. On the other hand, the general public’s increasing emotional numbness to exposure to painful world events or even violent video games is also worrying and perhaps even more dangerous from a clinical standpoint.

People respond to emotional stress very differently. Some people can witness a barbaric event and yet bounce back and go on to lead healthy productive lives, but some people find they cannot recover their emotional balance after a negative experience. Some negative experiences are so shocking that they shake a person to their core. Yet some negative experiences are ongoing everyday experiences that undermine a person’s self-worth, and can also result in long lasting psychological damage.

People are best able to cope with negative life experiences when they have a deep emotional reservoir of positive life experiences and trust-based relationships. A person with a solid foundation of self-esteem and love can eventually heal from something as terrible as witnessing a murder while someone with a poor sense of self could fall apart just because his home went into foreclosure. Some people are simply more sensitive than others. It’s often hard to predict how one will react to traumatic stress until it happens. Having a history of trauma may increase one’s risk of getting PTSD after a recent traumatic event. There is a huge connection between childhood neglect or mistreatment and a person’s inability to process negative emotions.

While traumatic stress is happening, a person tends to block out the pain or reinterpret events in order to deal with the present situation. However, in the weeks, months, and years after the emotional trauma has passed, the person remains unable to cope effectively because of the memory of the pain. PTSD is characterized by periodic disconnect from present reality, where one’s mind relives a past event over and over, fully experiencing the emotions of that event as if it were happening now. One clue that one is not processing one’s stress effectively is when one feels exhausted during the day and falls asleep on time, yet wakes in the night burdened by repetitive thoughts and cannot go back to sleep for hours. Some people are even afraid to go to sleep due to nightmares or images in their minds.

Other symptoms of PTSD include disinterest in normal everyday activities, avoiding things that remind one of that event, emotional numbness, startling easily, hyper-vigilance, paranoia, erratic heartbeat, fainting, inordinately angry outbursts, intense shame and guilt, and a constant sense of danger. Traumatized children may develop irrational phobias, lose their toilet training, and often relive their trauma in play. Palestinian children whose homes have been destroyed by the Israelis have often been documented building play houses, or wetting themselves when they hear loud noises.

According to US statistics, about 7 percent to 8 percent of the general population will develop PTSD. These numbers go up significantly for veterans and rape victims, among whom PTSD has anywhere from a 10 percent to 30 percent chance of developing. Women war veterans experience PTSD far more severely than their male counterparts.

PTSD is clinically treated with calming medication and/or psychological counseling. Many people experiencing PTSD self-medicate with alcohol while the lucky ones find solace in supportive relationships.

The process of healing from PTSD requires going through a full grieving and healing process so that one can learn and grow from the negative life experience instead of letting it hold one back from truly living. Healing also involves learning how to set internal boundaries against past and present abusers in one’s life as well as learning to steer one’s mind away from bad thoughts. It may help to keep a journal of one’s feelings or to make a schedule where one records the time lost daily ruminating about painful past events or conversations.

It is important to understand that PTSD is not a sign of weakness or cowardice but actually points to a strongly developed conscience and higher than average emotional intelligence. The only way to overcome PTSD is to confront what happened to you and learn to accept it as a part of your past while learning how to minimize stress and anxiety in your current life.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based freelance writer.

13-34

Saudi-India Ties At A “New Height,” Says Saudi Envoy

July 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, TMO

NEW DELHI: Though he has been in India as Saudi envoy for only two years, Faisal Hassan Trad returns to his country as a satisfied diplomat. Within a short period, many steps have been taken in strengthening bilateral ties between India and Saudi Arabia. In Trad’s words: “My tenure in India has been a short one, two years but I am happy to have shouldered the responsibility assigned to me as ambassador of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to India.”

Trad returns this month to Saudi Arabia to spend Ramadan at home, following which he will take diplomatic charge in Belgium. While India and Saudi Arabia have always entertained good relations, undeniably, the past few years have witnessed a major upswing in development of their ties. It began with the landmark visit of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz in January 2006. He was the Chief Guest of Indian Republic Day celebrations. His visit “opened a new chapter in Indo-Saudi bilateral relations.” The King referred to India as his “second home.” The highlight of his visit was the inking of Delhi Declaration, the first such bilateral document to be signed by a Saudi King. Saleh Mohammed Al-Ghamdi was then the Saudi envoy in India.

Since the Saudi King’s India visit, Indo-Saudi ties have been only on the upswing. It has been marked by active engagement between leadership of the two countries. Another chapter was opened in their bilateral ties with the historic visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Saudi Arabia, from February 27 to March 1 2010. The highlight of this visit was signing of Riyadh Declaration which outlines a “new era of strategic partnership” between India and Saudi Arabia.

Elaborating on Indian Prime Minister’s Saudi-visit, which has taken place during his tenure, Trad said: “Saudi-India relations have now reached a level of Strategic Partnership. The roads are indeed paved for a bright future.”

Reflecting on recent developments, Trad said: “During the recent period, bilateral relations have reached a new height with exchanges taking place, at all levels, practically continuously, almost on a daily basis, between industrialists, investors, political people, community leaders, pilgrims and others.” Last year, while Saudi Arabia had issued 7,500 visas to business people, this year within six months only, 4,000 visas have already been issued, Trad pointed out.

Laying emphasis that Saudi-India ties are no longer confined to only oil diplomacy, Trad pointed to “complete cooperation” between the two countries in other fields, including education, science & technology, defense & security, taxation, extradition and culture, among others. Trad may also be credited for promoting people-to-people interaction between the two countries. The Saudi Embassy in association with Saudi Journalist Association invited Indian women delegation to visit the Kingdom last year in October. This was the first visit of an all-women delegation (including this scribe) to Saudi Arabia, which has been hailed as a major success.

Economic relations between India and Saudi Arabia have shown a remarkable growth with bilateral trade registering a three-fold increase during the last five years. Saudi Arabia is India’s 4th largest trade partner and the bilateral trade was $18 billion in 2010-11 (April-December), according to Indian sources.

The bilateral trade is now “worth $24 billion and is poised for increase every day,” Trad stated.

Saudi Arabia is India’s largest supplier of crude oil, accounting for almost one-fifth of the country’s needs. To meet India’s growing energy needs, sources said, the two sides are working towards strategic energy partnership including long term uninterrupted supply of crude oil by Saudi Arabia to India.

Besides, the 2.2 million-strong Indian community in Saudi Arabia is the largest expatriate community in the Kingdom. The total remittance send by Indian expatriates, spread world-wide, is valued at $50 billion, of which 60 percent is from GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries, with the largest share from Saudi Arabia. Taking note of this, Trad said: “The 2.2 Indians who live in the Kingdom support nearly 25 million at home (India).”

Haj diplomacy is also a major component of Indo-Saudi bilateral ties. More than 1,70,000 Indians perform Haj every year.

During Trad’s tenure, a new chapter has opened in religious diplomacy too. This is marked by the visit of Dr. Sheikh Abdul Rehman Sudais, Grand Imam of Masjid-al-Haram in Mecca, earlier this year in March.

There is every reason for Trad to be satisfied and happy at his successful tenure in India. Not surprisingly, he is one of the few diplomats, in whose honor, numerous farewell parties have been hosted in the capital city. He is perhaps the first Saudi diplomat, according to Indian sources, to receive so many farewell parties. In addition to Trad being viewed as a successful diplomat, the hosting of numerous farewell parties in his honor is yet another major sign of the two countries coming closer, Indian sources said. This in itself marks expansion and strengthening of bilateral ties between India and Saudi Arabia.

13-31

Cracking Down on Balconies

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

balcony-colorIn the United States, most home owner’s associations have stringent rules for how members must maintain the outer appearance of their houses and even lawns. Members often incur fines and sometimes the wrath of their fellow neighbors for having unkempt lawns or yards full of discarded junk.  For this reason, the typical homeowner in America spends a great deal of time manicuring his lawn to perfection.

Just a stone’s throw away, in the Middle East, the majority of homeowners participate in a similar ritual.   Houses in the region feature immaculately groomed and grassy front yards. In addition, most homes also have an ornate garden filled with desert shrubs and fruit-bearing date palm trees. Neighbors often compete with one another over whose dates are the sweetest and plumpest.
For members of the expatriate community, life is drastically different. The majority of the foreign populace in the Middle East cannot afford to buy luxury homes while others, such as ones residing in Kuwait, are legally barred from buying real estate. Expatriates have little recourse but to rent apartments which are often small despite the hefty monthly rental fee. Due to the lack of space, many expatriates utilize the extra space that terraces and balconies provide.

It is not unusual to find a balcony completely covered in plywood. The space is then transformed into a spare room or even a home office. For others, the balcony serves as a private home garden with large soil filled pots serving as the “land”. Thanks to the consistent amount of sunlight in the Middle East, it is very easy to grow tomatoes and herbs right on the balcony. A balcony is also very functional in that it provides space to store unused items and most are fitted with a clothes line perfect for hanging out the wash.

Freedom of balcony usage is typically left in the hands of the tenant and is not mandated by the government. However, in one tiny Gulf municipality, balcony usage has come under fire. In Sharjah, which is a municipality of the United Arab Emirates, authorities are cracking down on tenants with messy balconies. According to the recent balcony laws, tenants are no longer allowed to hang laundry from the balcony, attach a television satellite anywhere on it and storing junk is strictly forbidden. Anyone touting the balcony laws will be fined $68 and paying the initial fine late results in an increased fine of $136.

Sharjah authorities have also launched an all-encompassing media campaign to inform the public about proper balcony maintenance. Leaflets in various languages, including Arabic, are regularly left on the doorsteps of tenants all over the region. The laws are currently being enforced by a special balcony task force that visits neighborhoods and hands out fines for offensive balconies. There is also a special hotline that residents can call to ask questions and report violators. 

13-30

The New Drogba Joins Tottenham

July 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

drogba_portraitDespite a wealth of soccer talent that has come from the Ivory Coast, including legendary Chelsea striker, Didier Drogba, the team disappointed at last summer’s World Cup, and has yet to bring home hardware worthy of its talent. And follow up last year’s disappointment with a horrific five month post-election crisis, and the mood in Cote D’Ivoire has been dour. But the country was uplifted by the recent Under-17 World Cup in Mexico. There, a 16-year-old striker, by the name of Souleymane Coulibaly, dubbed “The New Didier Drogba”, scored nine goals in four games for Ivory Coast, including a hat-trick against Brazil and a four goal game against Denmark in consecutive matches. Coulibaly ended up tying the tournament goal-scoring record set by former Liverpool player Florent Sinama-Pongolle, but in three games fewer than the Frenchman. Souleymane in fact ended up scoring nine of his entire team’s tournament total of 11 goals. And for his efforts, Coulibaly was awarded the Golden Boot as the tournament’s best player.

Coulibaly currently lives with his father in Italy where he plays for Italian team Siena. But that is about to change, as Coulibaly was chased down by all of the big clubs after his record-setting tournament. After being courted by the likes of Real Madrid, Coulibaly settled on Tottenham of the English Premier League, where he is expected to move very quickly to the first team.

“I want to thank all those who said good things about me,” Coulibaly told Fifa.com after receiving the Golden Boot Award. “My team-mates and I had a wonderful moment in Mexico. The defenders ignored some spaces which I exploited to score those goals. But mostly, this recognition goes to my team-mates who assisted me.

Coulibaly himself humbly acknowledges Drogba’s clear physical advantage. “Drogba is taller than me, he’s more physically built than me and he’s better with air balls than me. If I can become a quarter of him I’d be so happy,” Coulibaly recently told Ivorian newspaper Frat Mat.

The Ivory Coast may not have brought home the Under-17 World Cup title. But Souleymane Coulibaly gave his country-people something to be proud of. And he should continue to do so in England.

13-30

Before You Judge, Stand in Her Shoes

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Mike Mcgovern

New Haven–REVELATIONS about the hotel housekeeper who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault suggest that she embellished claims of abuse to receive asylum, fudged her tax returns, had ties to people with criminal backgrounds, had unexplained deposits in her bank account and changed the account of the encounter she gave investigators. Yet those who would rush to judge her should consider the context.

Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s accuser is from Guinea, also the home country of Amadou Diallo, the street peddler who was shot to death in the doorway of his Bronx apartment building by four New York City police officers in 1999. Guineans leave their country in large numbers, partly because of grinding poverty; 70 percent live on less than $1.25 a day , despite the fact that Guinea has almost half of the world’s bauxite (from which aluminum is made), as well as iron, gold, uranium, diamonds and offshore oil.

The same leaders whose theft and mismanagement have kept so many Guineans poor in the decades since independence from France, in 1958, have also been ferociously violent, massacring as many as 186 unarmed demonstrators calling for democratic reforms in 2007, and at least 157 demanding the same in 2009. After the latter massacre, members of the state security forces gang-raped dozens of women to punish them for protesting and to terrorize men and women into silence.

While the American government condemned the massacres, the bauxite kept shipping, supplying Americans with aluminum cookware and automobile parts. That’s no surprise; the biggest mining companies doing business in Guinea are based in the United States, Canada, Britain and Australia.

People fleeing state-sponsored violence and extreme poverty will do anything to leave. I receive requests every few weeks to write expert-witness affidavits for West African asylum claimants. As a personal matter of conscience, I will not write in support of an applicant whose testimony I believe contains inconsistencies.

Yet asylum claimants are often asked to perform an impossible task.

They must prove they have been subject to the most crushing forms of oppression and violence — for this, bodies bearing the scars of past torture are a boon — while demonstrating their potential to become hard-working and well-adjusted citizens.

This is where the lies and embellishments creep into some asylum seekers’ narratives. Immigrants share tips and hunches about ways to outwit the system, even as immigration judges try to discover the claimants’ latest ruses. But I can say from experience that for every undeserving claimant who receives asylum, several deserving ones are turned down. So few Africans gain access to green cards through legal channels that the United States government grants about 25,000 spots annually to Africans selected at random through the diversity visa lottery.

Just as Mr. Diallo’s death resonated because it made the tribulations of many West African immigrants public, the case of Mr. Strauss-Kahn and his accuser has the aura of a parable. Many Africans feel the International Monetary Fund, which Mr. Strauss-Kahn led, and the World Bank have been more committed to the free flow of money and commodities like bauxite than to the free flow of people and the fulfillment of their aspirations.

Guinean press accounts, and recent conversations I’ve had with Guineans, suggest that they disapprove of the deceptions by Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s accuser. But given the poverty and systemic violence in their country, they understand the circumstances in which such deception could occur — and we should, too.

As the case against Mr. Strauss-Kahn seemingly disintegrates, he is enjoying a political renaissance at home, yet I keep asking myself: does a sexual encounter between a powerful and wealthy French politician and a West African hotel cleaning woman from a dollar-a-day background not in itself suggest a gross abuse of power?

Mike McGovern, an assistant professor of anthropology at Yale and the author of “Making War in Côte d’Ivoire,” is writing a book on Guinea.

13-29

Reservation & Indian Muslims

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Nilofar Suhrawardy, TMO

NEW DELHI: How serious are the politicians and other leaders who have recently started voicing their concern about the need of reservation for Indian Muslims? Describing Muslims as socially and economically backward, they are demanding reservation to help them progress. Though some importance is being given to these demands, prospects of their being implemented remain fairly dim. This demands an analysis of the Reservation-issue for Muslims from several angles. What has prompted several leaders to start talking about it now in louder than before tones? Why are chances of it being implemented bleak? What has prompted “concerned” politicians to assure aggrieved sections that the issue is being considered?

Seriously speaking, greater importance is being accorded to making political noise about reservation for Muslims than actually assuring that their socio-economic grievances are dealt with constructively. With Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections scheduled for next year and the national parliamentary elections in 2014, electoral preparations are gaining political heat. The Congress is hopeful that by assuring Muslims a reservation quota in government jobs and education, it is likely to win their support in UP assembly elections. The UP assembly polls are also viewed as a “dress rehearsal” to national elections. Political victory in UP is expected to play a crucial role in helping Congress consolidate prospects of electoral gains in the subsequent parliamentary polls.

Against this backdrop, the timing is just perfect for Muslim leaders and various organizations to gain some political mileage by voicing their concern on the reservation-issue. This is one side of the political-hype made over reservation for Indian Muslims.

India is home to second largest population of Muslims in the world. Muslims constitute the largest minority in India. Twenty-five percent of UP’s population are Muslims. Statistically, thus, the Congress cannot afford to ignore the electoral importance of the Muslim vote-bank in UP as well as the whole country.

Not surprisingly, Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said recently that the home ministry is expected to submit a “concrete proposal” for minority reservation soon. With the necessary formalities, including consultations, having been completed, he said: “The home ministry will now take it forward. There is a sense of urgency.”

The Congress-led coalition government is likely to push for a proposal on lines of the model adopted by the southern states, which have provided reservation for Muslims – out of the existing OBC (Other Backward Classes) quota. Suggesting this, Khurshid said: “We believe the OBC element of affirmative action must be rationalised and fine- tuned in the manner in which it is being done in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.”

But this is not an easy job. Questions have already begun being asked on the sudden sympathy being displayed by Congress to a commitment it made in 2004. The 2004-Congress-election manifesto said: “The Congress is committed to adopting this policy for socially and educationally backward sections among Muslims and other religious minorities on a national scale.”

Besides, while several leaders are not opposed to reservation for Muslims, they are against it being offered out of the OBC-quota. They fear that this political-card will create divisions in their OBC vote-bank. Janata Dal-United leader, Sharad Yadav, who is also a activist of OBC, said: “The government is trying to create divisions in the backward society.” Criticizing the government for not implementing the current OBC quota, he asked: “The rate at which the government fills the existing OBC quota is just two to three percent. The backlog is huge. With nothing on your plate, what will you offer the Muslims?”

“There should be a separate provision for Muslims if we are seriously interested in uplifting the backward sections of the community. It would be ideal, in my opinion, if a separate component of reservation is made for the Muslims to bring them on par with other sections of society,” according to Ram Kripal Yadav (Rashtriya Janata Dal Legislator in Upper House).

It maybe noted, the Ranganath Mishra commission recommended reservation for Muslims and Christians from within the 15 per cent quota for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the 27 per cent OBC quota. Set up in 2005, the commission submitted its report in 2007. The commission pointed out that caste system was prevalent among Muslims too. The commission recommended that Muslim Dalit groups, whose counterparts exist among Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists, should also be included in the central or state SC lists.

Several years have passed since reservation for Muslims was recommended by the Mishra commission and since the Congress committed itself to do so. The Indian Muslims have yet to benefit from the reservation-proposal. The manner in which the Congress has raised the issue at this juncture suggests that it is trying to play two cards at one go. The party is optimistic that this issue will help Congress win support from Muslims, particularly in UP. The Congress is also hopeful that the divisions created in OBC-vote bank will help it politically. Against this backdrop, politicking is more strongly linked with noise being made over reservation for Muslims than concern for their actual socio-economic progress!

13-29

U.S. Afghanistan Drawdown Begins Slowly, 800 Marines Out in Fall

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s drawdown in Afghanistan will begin slowly, with the departure of just 800 National Guard troops this summer, followed by some 800 Marines in the fall, U.S. officials said on Wednesday.

The details provided by Lieutenant General David Rodriguez, the outgoing No. 2 commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and Pentagon officials offered the most detailed look so far at how the U.S. military intends to carry out the withdrawal ordered by Obama in June.

Facing growing political opposition to the nearly decade-old war, Obama announced plans to pull out about a third of the 100,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan by the end of summer 2012 — a faster timetable than the military had recommended.

The first 10,000 troops will come home by the end of the year. But Obama left the details up to his commanders.

“We have begun the process of working ourselves out of a job — meaning we will hand over the lead to the Afghans gradually, over time,” said Rodriguez, speaking to reporters in a video-conference from Afghanistan.

The Pentagon’s small initial drawdown leaves as many as 8,400 troops to withdraw in the last few months of 2011, and Rodriguez said he expected commanders to wait until later in the fall before deciding how to thin out those forces.

Jeffrey Dressler at the Institute for the Study of War, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, said Rodriguez’s announcement was within expectations — particularly given the need to keep the bulk of troops in place until the end of the year.

“What the commanders are trying to do is conserve as much combat power as they can until the end of the fighting season,” Dressler said.

Rodriguez and the Pentagon offered the following details on the initial drawdown, without ruling out further changes.

* The Army National Guard’s 1st Squadron, 134th Cavalry Regiment in Kabul, with about 300 troops, leaves in July.

* The Army National Guard’s 1st Squadron, 113rd Cavalry Regiment, also leaves in July.

* 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment in southwest Afghanistan, with over 800 troops, will leave in fall.

Critics have said Obama’s decision to bring troops home from Afghanistan faster than the military has recommended could jeopardize the next major push of the war, to unseat insurgents in the east.
Republican Senator John McCain, speaking in Kabul on Sunday, said Obama’s drawdown plan created “unnecessary risk.”

Although extra U.S. troops ordered into southern Afghanistan have made security gains there, the situation in the east of the country bordering Pakistan has deteriorated.

Rodriguez, however, said U.S. military plans to shift the focus to the east remained on track, despite the drawdown.

“As we continue to maintain the momentum in the south … we will end up thinning out down there first, and then focusing more and more of our energy in the east,” he said.

Still, he declined to say when that might happen, adding: “It’s a little bit too early to take that guess right now.”

The drawdown comes amid intense fighting in Afghanistan, where more than 1,500 U.S. forces have been killed since the war began. Last week, insurgents staged a brazen raid on the Kabul Intercontinental hotel, killing 12 people and raising fresh questions about whether Afghan forces are ready to assume responsibilities as U.S. forces pull out.

Rodriguez commended the Afghan forces on what he called a “great response” to the attack but played down expectations that violence would ebb any time soon.

Asked whether he expected violence to start subsiding this year or next, Rodriguez said: “That remains to be seen. It’ll actually probably be next year.”

(Additional reporting by David Alexander; editing by Todd Eastham)

13-28

Soony Saad Joins Major League Soccer

July 7, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

Michael Nanchoff #9 of the University of Akron sends the ball past Soony Saad #8 of the University of Michigan during the 2010 College Cup semi-final at Harder Stadium, on December 10 2010, in Santa Barbara, California.Akron won 2-1.

A University of Akron player sends a ball past Soony Saad of the University of Michigan at the 2010 College Cup Semifinal in Santa Barbara, California, on December 10, 2010.

Muslim soccer player Soony Saad has now gone from Michigan high school star, to college soccer sensation, to now professional soccer player all in a matter of a year and a half. Saad enjoyed a prolific freshman season with the University of Michigan men’s soccer team, scoring 19 goals and leading his team to the Final Four. But afterward, the lure of professional soccer proved too great. He left the team this spring after the season concluded and traveled to Europe to try out for a number of large European soccer organizations. But after failing find the right opportunities, Saad has returned home to the United States and has committed to Major League Soccer (MLS). And this week, in a weighted lottery, Sporting Kansas City of MLS has now won the rights to the Lebanese-American forward.

Sporting Kansas City already has what American soccer expert Ives Galarcep describes as “…one of the deepest and strongest collection of forwards in MLS…” But any team could use the natural scoring talents of Soony Saad. Last season Soony teamed up with his brother, midfielder Hamoody Saad, to lead the University of Michigan attack that brought home the Big Ten Conference Title. Before that, as a high school senior in the Detroit area, Saad was named the Gatorade National High School Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Sporting Kansas City beat out Chivas USA and the Chicago Fire to win Saad’s rights. Now they are hoping that Saad can bring their team trophies as well.

13-28

The Summer Sizzle

June 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

sun-sky-lg-ua4ksuLast summer was one of the hottest on record for many parts of the Middle East with Kuwait having one of the most scorching summers ever. Forget about frying an egg on the sidewalk, in Kuwait you could roast an entire chicken on a garden wall or even a park bench. During the peak hours of the day, when the desert sun is at its most unforgiving peak, the streets of Kuwait are deserted leaving an entire nation looking like a ghost town. There really is not a whole lot to do outdoors when the mercury exceeds 100F and often reaches well above 115F. So where does everyone go?

For many of the denizens of Kuwait, hanging out in a heavily air-conditioned mall or catching Hollywood’s latest offering at a perfectly chilled movie theater complete with snacks is the best way to beat the scorching summer heat. For a very brave minority, who are willing to brave the heat, there are a limited number of water activities to engage in. Jet skiing and swimming, in the somewhat cool waters of Kuwait, are the top summer activities for adults and children alike. Many families wait until the sun goes down to hit the beaches of Kuwait and often spend the evening frolicking in the ocean despite there being limited lighting, no lifeguards on duty and razor sharp rocks just at the water’s edge.

One of the greatest pastimes during the summers in Kuwait is simply spending the day indoors at home. It might sound boring, but with a veritable smorgasbord of companies catering to people lounging around at home, the phrase “cabin fever” is meaningless. In Kuwait you can have just about anything, including the kitchen sink, delivered right to your door. Groceries, fresh fruit and vegetables as well as donuts, pastries and ice cream are just a few of the edible items available for delivery. Electronic goods, designer perfumes, Swiss chocolates, high-end toiletries and even home appliances are some of the others.

For people wanting just a little bit more pampering and luxury in the comfort of their own home, without any of the fuss, teams of caterers will arrive at the door to cater a party or even prepare an elaborate barbeque right in the backyard. There is even a new delivery service available that provides “shisha” pipes for use at home complete with a server to light the charcoal. And if that’s not enough, why not have a team of manicurists and masseuses come over to pamper everyone in the home?

The summers may be hot in Kuwait, and while they absolutely do force a mass exodus of travelers who are seeking cooler temperatures, those left behind can still enjoy a little bit of luxury without even setting foot outdoors.

13-26

III. A Progressive Israeli Argument for the Two-State Solution

June 16, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Geoffrey Cook, TMO

San Francisco–Home at last!  Home at last with a thick new notebook.

During the past week (6th-12th), the initial reports were that the casualties of the Palestinian demonstrators at the Syrian border by the Jewish Strata on  the Golan Heights has increased to twenty-seven — mowed down with live bullets from the other side of the barbed wire with several seriously wounded, furthermore,  by the by the IDF (the Israeli Defense Force) at the express orders to employ the ultimate violence against the non-violent demonstrators from the Prime Minister (P.M.) Netanyahu. In North Africa the rebels are hedging more closely to Tripoli, the Libyan nation’s traditional capital…  Although Gaddafi has been accused of rape as a weapon war by his soldiers, the “Colonel” has stated,” I’ll stay in Tripoli whether I live or die!’  While two Imperial powers, Britain and France, are preparing a resolution in United Nations (U.N.) condemning Damascus for their brutality in their civil war.  Incidentally, Libya and Syria have been two of the most obnoxious to the West, and “taking out” President Assad would be a great relief to the Israeli Prime Minister, for they one of the few nations’ in the expanse (since they are neighbors) who could provide a MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) to Tel Aviv overbearing nuclear arsenal in the Negev .

As your composer has stated earlier, he believes the success or failure of the Arab “Spring” will depend upon the reaction of the Israeli government.   If they act diplomatically, there can be a tremendous blossoming of Arab-style democracies; if they respond in a belligerent manner there will be an appalling conflict, and, with nuclear weapons involved, it can be as great a disaster as Hiroshima, and with the closeness of Israel to its neighbors it can only destroy the nuclear State to unimaginable consequences.

This is the third installment with the Israeli General, their Ministry of Justice bureaucrat and Jeremy Ben-Ami of J-Street in the United States who was in Washington at the time of the call:

The two Israeli citizens pointed out that Palestine is unstable at the moment.  (Unfortunately, that is true, but it is true that it is overwhelmingly caused by the Zionist expansion upon Arab land!)    The General believes that the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation is not a threat, for under his analysis, he deems Hamas to be weak, (but under your author’s assay Hamas  is a substantial opponent  to the Israeli hegemony over the region, for, although Tel Aviv and Cairo had been doing their best to execute the sway of the Palestinian mini-strip on the sea, your researcher is of the opinion that Gaza quintessentially defeated the Hebrew-speaking Army in their Cast Iron operation against the Palestinian mini-State by exposed to the world Jerusalem’s vicious violence to an ultimately defenseless populace; thus, turning the prevailing global popular “good” opinion away from the Zionist’s position towards their opponents for the land, the indigenous Palestinians.)  

One of Israeli incentives for joining in on the dialogue with Ramallah in the company of the Quartet (the United States, the U.N., the European Union (E.U.) and the Russian Federation) as interlopers is, although there are many differences of opinion regarding Hamas, Tel Aviv wishes to isolate and prevent them from capturing the total “Occupied” Territories’ in the next elections which they have a very good chance of accomplishing with the depopulation of the Christians and the Islamization of Palestine herself.  Even so, there are talks amongst the original inhabitants of the Holy Land (for most of the Palestinians there are the direct descendants of the ancient residents of their geographic district, whereas the majority of the Jews had been Europeanized with a mixture of the Jewish diaspora who had fled Spain to the region mainly within the border districts of modern Poland and Russia wherein they had intermixed with the Yalta converted (Jews) of the Ninth Century (I most not this historically scenario is highly disapproved by Jewish scholars in Jerusalem as is the Night Ride of the Prophet (s); and, thus, Israel can be perceived as a Settler Colonial State and must be amalgamated into the Middle East) to be accepted.  Further The Quartet must integrate Hamas into the elections (if it is not done, it would be hard to describe these forthcoming `polls to be free and fair.  What is so interesting about the advancement of the Palestinians’ cause is that, finally, they are on the world’s “radar, and that it coincides” with  the Arab “Spring,” and it has many elements.  (It must be kept in mind, that, Palestine is central to the Arab’s ideology, and, although it is on the fringes of West Asia, it is well near the “center” of the Arab-speaking humanity which extends from the full of North Africa into the Arabian West and Saudi Arabia itself, the homeland of Islam, and the UAE (United Arab Emirates) in the Persian (or Arab, as it is, also called,) Gulf on the East.         

Tara Hassan, of the Israeli Ministry of Justice is, also, a leader for “true” Justice within her homeland.     She urged that the Palestinian Prime Minister (P.M.) Mahmoud Abbas, be granted concessions, reiterating the Israeli bugaboo, to avoid Hamas administrating the West Bank.  (It is interesting to note the great fear of almost all Israelis – either on the Right or Left – is their irrational fear of Islamism, and seems to be a driving force to lean their Commonweal to the Left which is a hopeful sign for an agreement to the conundrum and the especially for the long-term future of the Palestinians themselves.  Although she describes herself as a Zionist, for her, a Zionist does not have to be on the political Jewish-wing.  “Only a two-State Solution will save Israel,” too.  Hassan, further, states that “…We should take every opportunity [to convince] the people of Israel!”  Sharoni interjects that we should present to the Israeli public” the necessity of the two—State Solution!  As often as possibility, for the people (here) have an unfounded fear of the Arab “Spring,” (and that is driving internal policy there, too).  

Why are we spending so much time looking at non-Muslim Israel — because it is the dominant dominion within the Middle East – due to the policy of America arming its pariah client to the hilt?  (The citizens of the U.S.A. have a grave duty to extricate their own nation from this enigma to which they themselves have created, and to become a force for peace among these environs.)

Whatever is happening within the halls of Tel Aviv will have a dramatic effect within the Arabic al-Islam!

13-25

Shaquille O’Neal Retires from Basketball

June 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of http://sportingummah.com, sports@muslimobserver.com

2011-06-03T184142Z_283175512_GM1E76407ON01_RTRMADP_3_NBA-SHAQUILLE

Shaquille O’Neal laughs while telling a story during his announcement of his retirement from the National Basketball Association (NBA) at a news conference at his home in Windermere, Florida June 3, 2011.

REUTERS/Scott Audette

Basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, 39, made his retirement official this past week. Saying those words made his pro career full-circle, because it all ended at his home in a suburb of Orlando, the city where his pro days began when the Magic made him the No. 1 pick in 1992. “Never thought this day would come,” O’Neal said. “Father Time has finally caught up with Shaquille O’Neal.”

He indicated that not only will he not return, but he will not coach anyone but his three sons. His career ends with 28,596 points, 13,099 rebounds, 15 All-Star selections, four championships and three NBA Finals MVP awards. He had a $1.4 million option to return to the Boston Celtics next season, but he said he did not want to hold up the team’s plans several months if he needs Achilles surgery.”I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” O’Neal said.

O’Neal was so moved by Hurricane Katrina that not only did he arrange for tractor-trailers to bring supplies to storm-ravaged New Orleans, he personally went to oversee distribution efforts. And after that, Shaq considered signing with the New Orleans Hornets, thinking his mere presence in the city would help recovery efforts even more, but the deal simply fell through. “This just didn’t happen,” his college coach Dale Brown said. “The other thing that’s very obvious to me is that this should be a beacon, a beacon light for all young people watching this.”

He was grateful for the Los Angeles Lakers for planning to retire his number 34. “I would like to thank the Laker organization for thinking of me,” O’Neal said on ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning,” adding he spoke Thursday with Lakers owner Jerry Buss and vice president Jeannie Buss. O’Neal also said on Stephen A. Smith’s radio show that, if elected, he would prefer to enter the Hall of Fame as a Laker.

In the interview, he stated that he believes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to be the best to ever play the center position. And, excluding himself from the conversation, he considers Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Hakeem Olajuwon and David Robinson to be among the top five centers of all time. “Just to have my name mentioned next to those guys is a blessing,” O’Neal said.

His immediate future is uncertain. He’ll likely work in television, but his health comes first. Injuries derailed him mightily this season with the Celtics, and if his injured Achilles’ doesn’t improve soon, surgery may be an option. “I’ve got to get that right,” O’Neal said Friday before the throng of media at his home, “before I go into the next chapter.”

O’Neal said he leaves with some regrets, foremost among them not being able to reach 30,000 points. And while everyone knew what he would say on Friday, he was anxious, something his mother gently chided him for afterward. He was asked toward the end of the ceremony what advice he would give to players today. “Be leaders,” O’Neal said, “and not followers.”

“It’s time for what’s next,” O’Neal said. Perhaps Hajj is next for Shaquille, as he expressed in an interview with Turkish television last year. O’Neal’s mother is a Baptist and stepfather a Muslim. However, in 2002, the Los Angeles Times identified O’Neal as being Muslim and quoted him as saying, “It’s a Muslim thing,” with regard to the greetings he exchanged with opposing player Hedo Turkoglu before each game of that year’s Western Conference Finals series. The newspaper also quoted Turkoglu as saying that he was not surprised at the gesture from O’Neal “because Muslim people support each other.” Best of luck in whatever you do, Shaquille.

13-24

The Middle East Counter-Revolution

June 2, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

To lead the counter-revolution in this region, Washington and Tel Aviv have relied on the Sudairi clan – the worlds richest political organization

By Thierry Meyssan

Within months, three pro-Western governments have fallen in the Arab World: parliament removed Saad Hariris Lebanese government, while popular movements drove out Zine el-Abbidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Husni Mubarak in Egypt.

These changes have been followed by demonstrations against U.S. domination and Zionism. They politically benefit the Axis of Resistance, comprised of Iran and Syria at the state level and at the non-state level by Hezbollah and Hamas.

To lead the counter-revolution in this region, Washington and Tel Aviv have relied on their best support: the Sudairi clan, which embodies despotism at the service of imperialism unlike any other.

The Sudairi

You have probably never heard of them, but for decades the Sudairi have been the worlds richest political organization.

Among the fifty-three sons of King Ibn Saud, founder of Saudi Arabia, the Sudairi are the seven that he sired with Princess Sudairi. Their leader was King Fahd, who ruled from 1982 to 2005. Only six are still alive. The eldest is Prince Sultan, minister of defence since 1962, who is 85. At 71, the youngest is Prince Ahmed, deputy interior minister since 1975. Since the 60s, it was their clan that organized, structured, and funded the pro-Western puppet regimes of the Greater Middle East.

A look back is required here.

Saudi Arabia is a legal entity created by the British during the First World War to weaken the Ottoman Empire. Although Lawrence of Arabia had invented the concept of the Arab nation, he never managed to make a nation of this country, let alone a state. It was and still is the private property of the Al-Sauds. As the British inquiry on the Al-Yamamah Scandal brought to light, in the 21st century there are still no bank accounts or budget for the Kingdom. It is the accounts of the royal family that serve to administer the Kingdom, which is its private domain.

The area fell under U.S. control after the Second World War, when the United Kingdom could no longer maintain its empire. President Franklin D. Roosevelt made an agreement with King Ibn Saud: the family of Saud guaranteed oil supplies to the United States which in return guaranteed the military assistance necessary to keep the House of Saud in power. This alliance is known as the Quincy Agreement, negotiated on a ship by the same name. It is an agreement, not a treaty since it does not bind two states, but a state and a family.
The founding king, Ibn Saud, having had 32 wives and 53 sons, serious rivalries between potential successors were not slow to emerge. Thus it was decided that the crown would not be handed down from father to son, but from half-brother to half-brother.

Five of Ibn Sauds sons have already sat on the throne. The current king, Abdullah I, 87, is a rather open-minded person, although totally out of touch with todays realities. Aware that the current dynastic system is headed for ruin, he intends to reform the rules of succession. The crown would thus be appointed by the Council of the Kingdom this means selected by representatives of various branches of the royal family – and could potentially go to a younger generation.

This wise idea does not suit the Sudairi. Indeed, given the various abdications to the throne for health reasons or self-indulgence, the next three candidates belong to their clan: Prince Sultan, formerly appointed Interior Minister, 85; Prince Naif, Interior Minister, 78; and Prince Salman, the governor of Riyadh, 75. If it were to be applied, the new dynastic rule would work to their disadvantage.

One can easily understand that the Sudairi, who never cared much for their half-brother, King Abdullah, hate him at present. And, also, that they have decided to throw all their forces into the current struggle.

The Return of Bandar Bush

In the late 70s, the Sudairi clan was headed by Prince Fahd, who noticed the rare qualities of one of his brother Sultans children: Prince Bandar. He sent him to Washington to negotiate arms contracts and was impressed by the way he handled an agreement with President Carter.

When Fahd ascended to the throne in 1982, Prince Bandar was a trusted aid. He was appointed military attaché, then ambassador to Washington, a post he held until his abrupt dismissal by King Abdullah in 2005.

The son of Prince Sultan and a Libyan slave, Prince Bandar is a brilliant and ruthless character that has distinguished himself within the royal family despite the stigma attached to his maternal origin. He is now the working arm of the gerontocratic Sudairi clan.

During his long stay in Washington, Prince Bandar befriended the Bush family, in particular George H. Bush, with whom he was inseparable. The latter likes to portray him as the son that he would have liked to have, so much so that his nickname in the capital is Mr. Bandar Bush. What George H. former director of the CIA and U.S. president appreciated most about him is his taste for illegal actions.

Mr. Bandar Bush made a place for himself in U.S. high society. He is both a manager for life of the Aspen Institute and a member of the Bohemian Grove. The British public first found out about him during the Al-Yamamah Scandal: the biggest arms deal in history as well as the largest corruption scandal. Over two decades (1985-2006), British Aerospace, soon renamed BAE Systems, sold $80 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia while quietly dropping a portion of this windfall into the bank accounts of Saudi politicians and probably British politicians, with $2 billion going to Prince Bandar alone.

This is because His Highness has a lot of expenses. Prince Bandar has taken over responsibility for numerous Arab fighters trained by Pakistani and Saudi intelligence during the Cold War to fight the Red Army in Afghanistan at the request of the CIA and MI6. Of course, the best known figure in this milieu was none other than billionaire guru turned anti-communist jihadist, Osama bin Laden.

It is impossible to say precisely how many men Prince Bandar has at his disposal. Over time, we have seen his involvement in many conflicts and terrorist acts across the Muslim world from Morocco to Chinas Xinjiang. For example, one may recall the small army that he had planted, by the name of Fatah Al-Islam, in the Palestinian camp of Nahr el-Bared in Lebanon. The mission of these fighters was to incite the Palestinian refugees, mostly Sunnis, to proclaim an independent emirate and to fight Hezbollah. The affair turned sour when the salaries of the mercenaries were not paid on time. Ultimately, in 2007, Prince Bandars men entrenched themselves in the camp. 30,000 Palestinians were forced to flee, while the Lebanese army waged a two-month battle to gain control of the camp. This operation cost the lives of 50 mercenaries, 32 Palestinian civilians and 68 Lebanese soldiers.

In early 2010, Bandar staged a coup to overthrow King Abdullah and to place his father, Sultan, on the throne. The plot was discovered and Bandar left in disgrace without however losing his official titles. But in late 2010, the declining health of the king and his surgery gave the Sudairi the upper hand and they engineered Bandars comeback with the support of the Obama Administration.

It was after having visited the king, who was hospitalized in Washington, and having concluded too quickly that he was dying, that Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri rallied to the side of the Sudairi. Saad Hariri is a Saudi, born in Riyadh, but with dual nationality. He inherited his fortune from his father, who owed everything to Saud. He is therefore obligated to the king and became Prime Minister of Lebanon at his urging, while the U.S. State Department was concerned about his ability to fill the position.

During the period when he had to obey King Abdullah, Saad Hariri began to reconcile with President Bashar al-Assad. He withdrew the accusations he had made against him about the assassination of his father, Rafik Al-Hariri, and apologized for having been manipulated to artificially create tension between Lebanon and Syria. In endorsing the Sudairi, Saad has made a political volte-face. Overnight, he renounced King Abdullahs policy of conciliation towards Syria and Hezbollah and launched an offensive against the regime of Bashar Al-Assad, for the disarmament of Hezbollah, and for a compromise with Israel.

However, King Abdullah came out of his semi-comatose state and didnt wait long to demand accountability. Deprived of this essential support, Saad Hariri and his government were overthrown by the Lebanese Parliament in favor of Najib Mikati, another bi-national, but less adventurous, billionaire. As punishment, King Abdullah ordered a tax investigation into Hariris largest Saudi society and had several of his associates arrested for fraud.

The Saudiri legions

The Sudairi have decided to launch the counter-revolution in all directions.

In Egypt, where they financed Mubarak on one hand and the Muslim Brotherhood on the other hand, they have now imposed an alliance between the Brotherhood and pro-U.S. army officers.

This new coalition has shared power by excluding the leaders of the revolution in Tahrir Square. It refused to convene a National Assembly and contended itself with amending the constitution marginally.

First, they declared Islam the state religion to the detriment of the Coptic Christian minority (about 10%) who were oppressed by Husni Mubarak and who mobilized en masse against him. In addition, Dr. Mahmoud Izzat, the number two of the Brotherhood, called for the rapid introduction of Sharia law and the restoration of Sharia punishment.

Young Wael Ghoneim, who had played a leading role in the overthrow of the tyrant, was barred from the podium during the victory celebrations, February 18, which rallied nearly 2 million people. Conversely, the star preacher of the Brotherhood, Youssef Al-Qardawi, returning after 30 years of exile in Qatar, was allowed to speak at length. He, who had been stripped of his citizenship by Gamal Abdel Nasser, projected himself as the incarnation of the new era: that of Sharia law and peaceful coexistence with the Zionist regime in Tel Aviv.

Nobel Peace Prize Muhammad Al-Baradei, whom the Muslim Brotherhood opted as a spokesman during the revolution to give themselves a more liberal image, was physically assaulted by the same Brothers during the constitutional referendum and was ejected from the political scene.

The Muslim Brothers made their formal entry into politics through the creation of a new party, Freedom and Justice, with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and by imitating the profile of the Turkish AKP (The same strategy was chosen in Tunisia with the Renaissance Party).

In this context, violent attacks were perpetrated against religious minorities. Thus two Coptic churches were burned. Far from punishing the aggressors, the Prime Minister offered them a guarantee: he dismissed the governor that he had appointed in the province of Qenna, the respected General Imad Mikhael, because he is a Coptic Christian and not a Sunni Muslim.

In Libya, the Sudairi transferred armed fighters into Cyrenaica pending the green light from France and Britain to start the insurrection against the government of Tripoli. They are the ones who distributed weapons and the red-black-green star and crescent flags, symbols of the Senoussi monarchy. Their goal is to get rid of troublemaker Gaddafi and restore Prince Mohammed on the throne of what was once the United Kingdom of Libya.

It was the Gulf Cooperation Council that was the first to call for military intervention against the government of Tripoli. At the Security Council, it was the Saudi delegation which led the diplomatic manoeuvres for the Arab League to endorse the attacks by Western armies.

Colonel Qaddafi for his part declared in several speeches that there was no revolution in Cyrenaica, but that his country was facing an Al-Qaeda destabilization operation; claims that wrongly elicited smiles and which were personally confirmed to his great embarrassment by General Carter F. Ham, U.S. AfriCom commander. In charge of the initial U.S. military operations before being supplanted by NATO, General Ham was surprised at having to choose his targets based on information from spies on the ground who were known to have fought against the Coalition forces in Afghanistan in short, bin Ladens men.

Bahrain, meanwhile, presents itself as an independent kingdom since 1971. In reality, it is still a territory dominated by the British. During their rule they had chosen a Khalifa as prime minister and the position has been maintained for 40 years continuously, from the fiction of independence up until today. This is a continuum which is not displeasing to the Sudairi.

King Hamad has granted an important concession to the United States, which established its Central Command and the Fifth Fleet naval headquarters in the port of Juffair. In these circumstances, the popular demand for constitutional monarchy would imply access to real independence, the end of British rule, and the departure of U.S. forces. Such a development would certainly have a domino effect in Saudi Arabia and threaten the foundations of the system.

The Sudairi convinced the king of Bahrain to bloodily crush the hopes of the population.

On 13 March, U.S. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates arrived in Manama to initiate the coordination of operations, which began with the entry of Saudi special forces, known as Nayef Eagles, under the command of Prince Nayef. Within days, all the symbols of protest were destroyed, including the public monument erected in Pearl Square. Hundreds of people died or went missing. Torture, which had been abandoned for almost a decade, was again widespread. Doctors and nurses who treated injured protesters were arrested in their hospitals, detained incommunicado, and brought before military tribunals.

But, the most important element in this terrible repression is the determination to transform a classic class struggle, between an entire population and a privileged class tied to foreign imperialism, into a sectarian conflict. The majority of Bahrainis are Shiites while the ruling family is Sunni. The Shias are seen as the vehicle of the revolutionary ideal of Ruhollah Khomeini, who was designated as a target. In one month, the “Nayef Eagles” razed 25 Shiite mosques and damaged 253 others.

21 of the main political protest leaders will soon be tried by a special court. They face the death penalty. More so than the Shiites, the monarchy is going after Ibrahim Sharif, the party chairman of the Waad (a secular leftist party), whom they accuse of not playing by the rules because he is a Sunni Muslim.

Having failed to destabilize Iran, the Sudairi have concentrated their attacks against Syria.

The Destabilization of Syria

In early February, when the country had yet to experience any demonstration, a page titled The Syrian Revolution 2011 was created on Facebook. It called for a “Day of Wrath on Friday 4; the call was relayed by Al Jazeera, but did not resonate anywhere. Al Jazeera deplored the lack of reaction and stigmatized Syria as the kingdom of silence (sic).

The name The Syrian Revolution 2011 is puzzling: it is in English and has the characteristic of an advertising slogan. But what genuine revolutionary would think that if he fails to realize his objectives in 2011, he would simply go back home?

Even stranger, on the day of its creation this Facebook page registered more than 80,000 friends. Such enthusiasm in a few hours, followed by nothing, suggests manipulation carried out with computer software that creates multiple accounts. Especially considering that the Syrians have a moderate level of internet use and have only had access to ADSL since January 1st.

The troubles began a month later in Deraa, a rural town located at the Jordanian border and a few miles from Israel. Vandals paid adolescents to tag anti-government graffiti on the walls of the city. Local police arrested the students and treated them as criminals to the annoyance of their families. Local notables who intended to settle the dispute were turned away by the governor. The young men were beaten. Furious, the families attacked the police station to set them free. The police responded with even more brutality, killing protesters.

President Bashar Al-Assad then intervened to punish the police and the governor a cousin whom the President had appointed to Deraa, far from the capital, to keep him out of sight. An investigation was opened to shed light on the police killings. The officials responsible for the violence have been indicted and put under bail. Ministers have apologized and offered condolences to the victims families on behalf of the government, gestures which have been publicly accepted.

Everything should have returned to normal, but suddenly masked snipers stationed on rooftops fired on both the crowd and at police, plunging the city into chaos.

Taking advantage of the confusion, the gunmen went outside the city to attack a government building that houses the intelligence services responsible for the observation of the Syrian Golan Heights territory occupied by Israel. The security services fired back to defend the building and its archives. There were deaths on both sides.

This type of confrontation has recurred. People sought protection from the army responding to the attackers who stormed the city. Three thousand men and tanks were deployed to protect the inhabitants. Ultimately, a battle has pitted the infiltrated fighters against the Syrian army in a scenario similar to the Lebanese army siege on Nahr Al-Bared. Except this time, the international media has distorted the facts and accused the Syrian army of attacking the people of Deraa.

Meanwhile, clashes erupted in Lattakia, a port which has long been the home of criminal organizations that specialize in maritime smuggling. These individuals received arms and money from Lebanon. They vandalized the downtown. The police intervened. On presidential order, the police were armed only with batons. The gangsters then unleashed war weapons, killing dozens of unarmed policemen.

The same scenario was repeated in the neighboring town of Banias, a town of less importance, but which is much more strategic because it is home to the main oil refinery in the country. This time the police used their arms and the confrontation turned into a pitched battle.

Finally, individuals in Homs, a major city, came to participate at a mosque and called their fundamentalist followers to demonstrate against the regime that is killing our brothers in Latakia.

Reacting to the unrest, the Syrian population descended en masse to affirm its support for the Republic. Huge demonstrations, unprecedented in the history of the country, drew hundreds of thousands of people in Damascus, Aleppo, and Latakia to the cry of God, Syria, Bashar!.

While the clashes were intensifying in the localities concerned, the police managed to stop the fighters. According to their televised confessions, they were recruited, armed, and funded by a pro-Hariri MP in Lebanon, Jamal Jarrah, which he denies.

Jamal Jarrah is a friend of Prince Bandar. His name had been cited in the case of Fatah Al-Islam in Nahr Al-Bared. He is the cousin of Ziad Jarrah, a jihadist accused by the FBI of being responsible for the hijacking of Flight 93 that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. He is also the cousin of the Ali and Yousef Jarrah brothers, who were arrested by the Lebanese army in November 2008 for spying for Israel.

Jamal Jarrah is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which he also denies. In 1982, the Brotherhood tried to seize power in Syria. They failed and became victims of a terrible repression. Since the amnesty proclaimed by President Bashar Al-Assad it was believed that these painful memories had been forgotten. On the contrary, this branch of the Brothers is now funded by the Sudairi. The role of the Banias Brotherhood in the clashes has now been acknowledged by all.

Allegedly, Jamal Jarrah also used Lebanese Hizb ut-Tahrir militants, an Islamist organization based in London and especially active in Central Asia. Hizb ut-Tahrir, which advocates non-violence, is accused of masterminding many attacks in the Ferghana Valley. It was with the intention of curbing this group that China began its rapprochement with Russia within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Despite much debate in the House of Commons about the group, its representatives in London have never been inconvenienced and they all occupy positions as high-level executives in Anglo-American multinationals.

Last year, Hizb ut-Tahrir opened a branch in Lebanon. On that occasion, it organized a conference to which foreign dignitaries were invited, including a Russian intellectual of international repute. During discussions, the organizers called for the establishment of an Islamic state, stating that Lebanese Shiites, Druze, and even some Sunnis are not real Muslims and should be expelled like the Christians. Flabbergasted by such outrageous remarks, the Russian guest promptly gave television interviews to disassociate himself from these fanatics.

At first, Syrian security forces appeared to be overwhelmed by events. Trained in the U.S.S.R., senior officers used force without worrying about the consequences on the population. But the situation was gradually reversed. President Bashar Al-Assad took control of the situation. He changed the government. He repealed the state of emergency and dissolved the State Security Court. He granted citizenship to thousands of Syrian Kurds who were historically denied citizenship because of a disputed census. In addition, he took a number of other measures, such as repealing the fines for late payment of public utilities (electricity, etc.). In doing so, he satisfied the main demands of the population and mitigated opposition. On the Day of Rage (Friday, May 6) the overall number of protesters in the country did not reach 50,000 people out of a population of 22 million.

Specifically, Mohammed Al-Shaar, the new interior minister, called for anyone who was involed in the riots to report voluntarily to the police and be granted amnesty in exchange for complete cooperation. Over 1,100 people responded. Within days, the principal conduits were dismantled and many weapons caches seized. After five weeks of violence, calm slowly returned to almost all the troubled cities.

Among the ringleaders identified and arrested, several were Israeli or Lebanese officers and one was a politician with close ties to Saad Hariri. This attempt at destabilization has a sequel.

An open conspiracy

What was originally a plot to overthrow the Syrian regime turned into open blackmail through destabilization. Realizing that the revolt was not picking up steam, the anti-Syrian Arab press shamelessly echoed the negotiations that were in progress.

They reported the visits of negotiators going to Damascus to present the requirements of the Sudairi. If we are to believe the newspapers, the violence will not stop until Bashar Al-Assad bends to two requirements: break with Iran; and stop supporting the resistance in Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq.

International Propaganda

The Sudairi want a Western military intervention to end the Syrian resistance, along similar lines as the aggression which is unfolding in Libya. To do this, they mobilized propaganda specialists.

To everyones surprise, the satellite TV station Al Jazeera abruptly changed its editorial line. It is no secret that the station was created by David and Jean Frydman, the French billionaire brothers who were counsellors to Ytzakh Rabin and Ehud Barak. They wanted to create a medium that allowed a debate between Israelis and Arabs, since such a debate was forbidden by law in each of the countries concerned.

To set up the network, they called on the Emir of Qatar who initially acted as a cover. The drafting team was recruited among the BBCs Arabic Service, so that from the beginning the majority of journalists were leading British MI6 agents.

However, the Emir took political control of the network, which became the working arm of his monarchy. For years, Al Jazeera has indeed played a role of appeasement by promoting dialogue and understanding in the region. But the network has also contributed to trivializing the Israeli system of apartheid, as if the violent methods emplyed by IDF were merely unfortunate blunders on the part of a basically acceptable regime, whereas they constitute the essence of the regime itself.

Al Jazeera, whose coverage of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt was outstanding, abruptly changed its editorial line with the Libyan case to become the mouthpiece of the Sudairi.

This about-face deserves an explanation. The attack on Libya was originally a Franco-British plan conceived in November 2010, i.e. well before the Arab Spring, in which the U.S. has been involved. Paris and London intended to settle scores with Tripoli and defend their colonial interests. Indeed, in 2005-2006, the Libya National Oil Company (NOC) had launched three international tenders for exploration and exploitation of its reserves, the largest in Africa. Colonel Gaddafi had imposed his own game rules on Western companies, forcing them to accept agreements that were hardly advantageous in their eyes. They even represented the less favourable contracts to multinationals worldwide. In addition, there were several disputes related to the cancellation of lucrative contracts for equipment and armament.

From the earliest days of the alleged Benghazi uprising, Paris and London set up the Transition National Council that France officially acknowledged as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. This Council has created a new oil company, the LOC, which was recognized by the international community at the London summit as the holder of the rights to the countrys hydrocarbons. During the gathering, it was decided that the marketing of oil stolen by the LOC would be done by … Qatar, and that the contact group of allied states would henceforth meet in Doha.

On cue, tele-evangelist Youssef Al-Qardawi started howling for the overthrow of President Bashar Al-Assad on a daily basis. Sheikh Al-Qardawi is president of the International Union of Scholars and also of the European Council for Fatwa and Research. He is the icon of the Muslim Brotherhood and preaches for an original brand of Islam, a mix of U.S. market democracy and Saudi obscurantism: he recognizes the principle of elected officials provided they undertake to enforce the Sharia in its most limited interpretation.

Youssef Al-Qardawi was joined by Saudi cleric Saleh Al-Luhaidan who urged: kill a third of Syrians so the other two-thirds may live (sic). Kill one-third of the Syrian population? That would imply slaying the Christians, Jews, Shiites, Druze and Alawite. So that two-thirds may live? That would amount to establishing a Sunni state before it cleanses its own kind.

To date, only the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, appears to resist the seductive power of the Sudairi petro-dollars. Its leader, Khaled Meshaal, not without a moments hesitation, confirmed he would remain in exile in Damascus vowing his support for President Al-Assad. With the latters help, he preempted imperialist and Zionist plans by negotiating an agreement with Fatahs Mahmoud Abbas.

Since March, Al-Jazeera, BBC Arabic, and Arabic France24 have turned into massive propaganda organs. By multiplying false testimonies and and manipulated images, they spin events to make the Syrian Republic look like the Tunisian regime of Ben Ali.

They have attempted to portray the Syrian army as a force of repression similar to the Tunisian police, one which does not hesitate to fire on peaceful citizens fighting for their freedom. These networks have even announced the death of a young soldier who refused to fire on his fellow citizens and was allegedly tortured to death by his superiors. In fact, the Syrian army is a conscript army, and the young soldier whose vital statistics had been published was actually on leave. In an interview with Syrian television, he affirmed his willingness to defend his country against foreign mercenaries.

Furthermore, these satellite channels have tried to portray several Syrian personalities as profiteers, just like Ben-Alis in-laws. They have focused their criticism on Rami Makhlouf, the richest man in the country, who is a cousin of President Al-Assad. They claimed that like the Tunisian model he demanded shares in all foreign companies wishing to do business in the country. This is absolutely unfounded and unimaginable in the Syrian context. In reality, Rami Makhlouf has enjoyed the confidence of President Al-Assad due to his role in establishing a cell phone network. Like anyone who has obtained such concessions in the world, he became a billionaire. The real question is whether or not they used their positions to enrich themselves at the expense of consumers. The answer is no: Syriatel offers the cheapest cellular phone rates in the world!

At any rate, the prize for lying goes to Al Jazeera. The network went so far as to present images of a demonstration of 40,000 people in Moscow calling for the end of Russias support for Syria. It was actually footage shot during the annual May 1 celebrations, in which the network had planted actors to make fake statements.

The Reorganization of Prince Bandar’s networks and the Obama Administration

The counter-revolution device used by the Sudairi is up against one difficulty. Until now Prince Bandars mercenaries had fought under the banner of Osama bin Laden, whether in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya or elsewhere. Initially considered an anti-communist, Bin Laden had gradually become anti-Western. His shift was influenced by the ideology of the Clash of Civilizations that was expounded by Bernard Lewis and popularized by his student Samuel Huntington. It experienced its era of glory with the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the War on Terrorism: Bandars men fomented disorder wherever the United States wanted to intervene.

In the current period, the image of the jihadists needs to be changed. They are now expected to fight alongside NATO, as they once fought alongside the CIA in Afghanistan against the Red Army. It is therefore advisable to revert to the pro-Western discourse of the past and to find a substitute for anti-communism. This will be the ideological task of Sheikh Youssef al-Qardawi.

To facilitate this makeover, Washington has announced the official death of Osama bin Laden. With their father figure gone, the mercenaries of Prince Bandar can be mobilized under a new banner.
This redistribution of roles is accompanied by a game of musical chairs in Washington.

General David Petraeus, who as commander of CENTCOM was to deal with the men of Bandar in the Middle East, became the director of the CIA. We must therefore expect an accelerated withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan and greater involvement of Bandars people in the secret operations of the CIA.

Leon Panetta, the outgoing director of the CIA, became the secretary of defence. According to the internal agreement of the U.S. ruling class, this post should be reserved for a member of the Baker-Hamilton Commission. Panetta, like Gates, was a member. In the case of new wars, he would limit ground deployment, except for Special Forces.

In Riyadh and Washington they have already drafted the death certificate of the Arab Spring. The Sudairi can say about the Middle East what Il Gattopardo (the Leopard) used to say about Italy: everything must change so that everything can stay the same and we can remain masters.

Voltaire Network

13-23

Parenting in America

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Karin Friedemann, TMO

There is a lot of uncertainty within the Muslim community about how to raise righteous children, given all the choices available within American society. How do we raise children who are honest, responsible, well mannered, never use bad language, are faithful friends, get good grades, and are not only polite but helpful with authority? Is it possible to raise children without any emotional problems and without any interest in drugs or alcohol or sex?

Sometimes immigrant parents try to be too strict, and then when that doesn’t work out, they simply give up and let their children be free like an adults. But did they even try to give clear guidance?

Children learn mostly through observation. The most important time to give a child a sense of moral responsibility is before the age of 5. After that, it’s all talk.

The “attachment parenting” philosophy of parenting gives babies their full Islamic rights. Two years or more of breastfeeding, and sleeping with the mother until weaning time. It is a huge personal sacrifice for the adults involved, but this will give children the foundation of confidence. No matter what else we did wrong, we can know that our children had plenty of skin contact with their mother at the most important time in their lives. They never have to doubt whether or not they are loved.

Skin contact with the mother at an early age will help prevent promiscuity in preteens and teens. I believe that most young (and older) people who irresponsibly search for a “friend” to give them comfort were denied a sense of comfort within their home life. If their parents’ love was conditional, they will search for unconditional love anywhere they hope they can find it. But if they don’t have a healthy example, they will likely never find true love.

Feelings do matter. If we cross the boundary of respect with our children (yelling at them), it is vital to always apologize and make friends again. It is emotional abuse to let children go to sleep feeling hurt and angry. Never expect them to just cheer up and accept abuse. Never call names.

Some children have strong fears of death due to emotional isolation and deep thinking. It is scary to imagine not existing anymore. Studying religion can just make them even more afraid of death and hell. Yet, it is so easy to help a child overcome this fear. If a child is having panic attacks, give him a hug!!! There is only one cure for fear. LOVE.

Truth matters. Never lie to your children. Don’t promise them things you don’t deliver, and that includes threats. Don’t make empty threats. When you promise something good, do it. If you cannot do it, apologize and explain. Be consistent. Don’t create surprises.

If we don’t give our children clear rules, it will be hard for them to take us seriously. We cannot leave our children alone to deal with this total emotional crisis of living in this world! If the child is seriously confused and then breaks the rule, he won’t understand the punishment. After that, we still have to protect the child in every way! We have to talk to our children about how to behave appropriately, and why.

If you want your children to be different from most children, never allow any TV station in your home. They will be exposed to TV programs at other people’s homes and this will help them keep in touch with what other people are thinking, but if they are not exposed to the continuous advertising and moral corruption of the TV at home, they will possess freedom of thought. They won’t have this need to be “sexy” or buy certain things, that young people usually learn they need to attain in order to be acceptable to society.

Above all, be home. Make huge personal sacrifices in order to be at home despite all odds. Being home makes a huge difference in children’s lives. If you are simply there, but teach them that you are not always available to serve them, they will have to learn how to cook and clean in reasonable amounts in order to help you get your work done. Any work they do adds to the strength of their family and home. This gives them a sense of accomplishment. The family must operate as a team effort!

This is so much more important than making huge demands on children that are often not moral or practical demands. Many parents waste huge amounts of money and energy forcing their children to learn how to ice skate (for example) instead of giving them the choice about whether or not they even want to ice skate.

Structured activities are not always necessary. Children really need time to do whatever they want to do. One must to steer them away from computer games and cartoons, of course; but once we deny them those options, they start being creative. They start making things with Lego’s or planting seeds in the garden or reading books. Sometimes they choose to do chores for small amounts of money.

Children suffer a lot when their parents are always driving them from this place to that place for all these structured activities. They need time to be left alone to do what they want in the home. Many children become exhausted from all these activities that are based on giving parents more free time without them.

13-21

Next Page »