Global Incidents and Commentary

Global Events
• The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by al-Qaida’s connection in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. This new bomb was also designed to be used in a passenger’s underwear, but of a different design. The question is whether it could have passed though airport security and the indication was that since there was no metal in its construction it could. What is not that clear is whether new body scanners used in many airports would have detected it. The would-be new type underwear bomber, who was based in Yemen, had not yet picked his target or purchased his plane tickets when he and his bomb were detained. (See below for further comments.)
• NEW DELHI (Reuters) – “Standing next to India’s foreign minister, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pressed neighboring Pakistan on Tuesday to do more to stamp out homegrown terrorism, in comments likely to please the Indian government but annoy Pakistani leaders.” Editor’s Note: Pakistani leaders always get annoyed, and then go their own way ignoring our pleas because they know we will not react.
• Editor’s Note: The Election in France will change the tone of the dialogue between and among those in both the euro zone and beyond. Although it is thought that the impact on the financial structure of the euro zone maybe minimum, national and international security issues will be view though very different prism then presently exists. Close attention to the dialogue should be looked at not as reality but the actions of all the parties as they move forward to their individual national goals.
• The Israeli Prime Minister has agreed to form a political coalition government with the leading opposition party and thus canceling his early election plans. The platform was that it would restore political and economic stability for the people of Israel. The real question is what does this do the hot public and publicity talk of bombing or not bombing Iran? Have the two parties come to an agreement concerning that very difficult issue and its implications far beyond the region?
• Yemen – One of the continuing hot spots in the world of violence with political instability and ongoing issue of terrorism (see Event below) has once again been partially sanitized by the US Defense Department with the reintroduction of a small number of military trainers. Much more than that will be necessary to stabilize that country.
• The Yemen branch of al Qaeda, on the Arabian Peninsula, was the home of the latest suicide underwear bomber. This time—surprise – it was actually a double-agent who delivered the non-metallic upgraded underwear bomb. The agent spent, what is described as weeks, inside Yemen’s al Qaeda affiliate which provided him access to information that has yet to be released and probably will not. The question remains that although the plot to blow up the bomb on an American plane was foiled well prior to its execution, was the other and equally important mission to find and kill the well-known and very well skilled bomb maker who remains at large…and untouched?
• Algerians opened their election polls for the first time since their independence from France in 1962. One would have expected a flood at the door to the voting booth, but only 35 percent of those eligible to vote will probably show up. The boycott is the result of the not unfounded belief that the real power to govern will be held by the security forces.
• Turkey—In its latest “stand alone stance”, the Turkish government has said it would not answer an international call for the arrest of one of Iraq’s senior Sunni Arab officials, hiding out in that country, on suspicion of directing and providing finance for alleged terrorist attacks. The reason given was that will not extradite someone whom they have always supported. The real reason has a tic-for-tack basis: Turkey would like Iraq to turnover alleged terrorist it wish to place under arrest who are ensconced in northern Iraq.
• And Last: Under the title of “that’s unfair”– a man who was involved in a domestic dispute was traveling with his young child. When he and the child attempted to board a domestic flight, the child’s teddy bear was placed on the conveyer belt for inspection (and why not?) and—low-and-behold, the teddy bear contained a gun toting armed hand gun.
Be Careful What You Wish For.
The truth is I have never asked myself the question: what is democracy? After some thought and an attempt for an all-inclusive answer, what I arrived at was: Democracy is a form of government wherein all the people of a nation or state vote to determine the form or type of government they wish, and to elect those people who will decide the details and carry their wishes to fruition. Encompassed in that mandate is that the newly elected officials will then enact laws and regulations that provide a format or method for the new government to govern. What would flow from that directive would be laws that would be enacted to protect the population from a harsh government, and that each person subject to the laws would be treated not merely fairly but as equals. Obviously, this approach would change from culture to culture, but the underlying principals would remain the same.
When the Arab or “Spring” Revolution began its shattering race across the Middle East in late 2010 early 2011, a popular uprising began in late January of 2011 in Cairo and then in Alexandria, Egypt. Although Egypt has seen revolutions in the past, what occurred in Cairo differed in form from what had occurred weeks earlier in Tunisia. The Egyptian revolution began as non-violent acts of civil disobedience, supported by labor strikes, to not merely protest the regime of President Hosni Mubarak but to overthrow his repressive dictatorship with its crippling economic conditions and widespread corruption. The protestors quickly grew in size, and within a matter of days it was estimated that 2 million people –from a wide variety of social, economic and religious backgrounds–were protesting in Tahrir square. But violence did erupt, and over 800 people died with 6000 injured. The scene day after day and night viewed on CNN as it unfolded was as dramatic as one could wish to see in the hope that ultimately there would be the birth of a new democracy. The West stood on the sidelines throwing roses at those in the street of Cairo seeking democracy.
Nevertheless, the Mubarak dictatorship, although an overtly repressive regime, had its special place in the world order because of its friendly and financial ties to the West and the United States in particular. It had joined and partnered with the West in its fight against terrorism.
The world quickly came to terms, viewing President Hosni Mubarak as defendant Mubarak and in the dock fighting for his life in a court of law. As that event unfolded, if you did not watch closely enough, the revolution and “democracy” took a different turn in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s oldest and one of the largest Islamist movements, moved to the forefront of the political discussion, and contrary to its public face during the height of street protest and violence, did a double turn and announced through its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), that it would move to fill the political void created by the demise of a Mubarak Government. At that moment and simply stated, its well known positions regarding sharia law, women’s rights, and Egypt’s relations with Israel should have sent a shudder though the West.
The election process began in a move toward a new government. However, of the newly elected 100 member Egyptian Assembly, there were only six women and six Christians who were elected. Christians comprise about 10 percent of Egypt’s 85 million people, and within all those elected, there were almost none, it is claimed, who could be defined as skillful or knowledgeable in either constitutional or human rights issues.
When, thereafter, the newly elected Assembly convened for the first time to vote for those who would draft the country’s new constitution—it’s very first and most important and substantial act, one quarter of the Assembly (the lower house) walked out in protest. Walked out because they complained that the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the FJP, along with an ultraconservative Islamist Nour Party, effectively froze out of the legislative process a group of liberal and non-Muslim legislators. The liberal bloc of the elected members consisted of three separate parties who along with the non-Muslim legislators stated their objection that the Islamist-dominated law makers had imposed their will on the minority in the process of choosing who would draft the new constitution. In other words, no voice was given to the religious and political minority in the constitutional process. The political process then began to tumble almost uncontrollably.
Under this scenario, a series of fundamental—indispensible– questions flowed from the international press: What will happen to the secularists within and without the government? What of the non-Muslim but religious minority and their individual religious rights, their freedom of speech? Gays? What of women’s rights, unveiled women in public, women traveling without a male guardian? Is blasphemy punishable by death? Five months ago, thousands of supporters of the FJP marched in Cairo chanting: “Death to the Jews” and pledged to continue the jihad against Israel. The principles, beliefs, doctrine of the Brotherhood were and remain: “Allah is our objective, the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader, jihad is our way and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”
Mubarak was exchanged, at great cost, for a chance at democracy. Can the uncompromising imposition of the majority, backed Brotherhood’s narrow litany of “these highest of our (religious) aspirations” be forced upon a diversified country and be deemed or acknowledged as “democracy in action”? Or is it merely that a “new government” through fortuitous and unanticipated events, has been hijacked by religious zeal?
“Is democracy foreclosed” might have been a better title for this Commentary. Upon reflection, the ultimate and disturbing question is: Can a democracy –in any form – be viable in the Middle East because of the ever present constraints on its political development? Part of the complicated answer can be discovered by recognizing that not only the regions very long and deep-seated cultural way of life has become part of its basic fabric, but that very complex ingredient has also been integrated into its zealous and fanatical religious ideals. The consequences of that permutation are that every aspect of individual and national life has become inexorably and inescapably entwined, with no room for political evolution.

Richard Allan,
The Editor

Global Incidents and Commentary

GLOBAL INCIDENTS
• Fox News has reported that five people who are self-described anarchists were arrested in Cleveland for allegedly trying to blow up a bride and were considering a series of other plots of destruction. Editor’s Note: Anarchists: are not a terrorist in the traditional sense! And they are generally defined as one which holds that the state is not only undesirable but harmful…seeking a stateless society. Yes they do violence but not all violent groups or individuals are terrorists.
• CAIRO (AP) — Clashes erupted on Wednesday between unknown and unidentified assailants and mostly Islamist protesters who had gathered outside the Defense Ministry in the Egyptian capital, leaving eleven people dead and nearly 50 wounded. Editor’s Note: And the Arab Revolution continues!
• North Korea has once more been blamed by South Korean officials for jamming signals affecting GPS navigation affecting air transportation in the area. No danger to aircraft was reported but both nations are still technically at war and continue their harassment of each other.
• A resident of New York City, Bosnian-born United States citizen, was found guilty at the conclusion of jury trial in a federal court. The authorities called this matter “one of the biggest terrorism threats” since 9/11. Adis Medunjanin, the defendant, had received military training from al-Qaeda and had planned an attach with co-conspirators on one of the world’s busiest subway systems. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that the trial provided a rare look into the inner workings of al-Qaeda’s recruitment methods.
• Mali: Violence remains the norm in this west African nation when soldiers who had staged a coup in Mali, alleged they had beat back a counter-coup loyal to their ousted president. The attack by paratroopers attempted to kill the coup leader who had promised to restore civilian rule in this war torn nation. A nation in turmoil Mali has been prime feeding ground that allowed Tuareg rebels and Islamist militant to have previously seized the northern half of that country.
• Israel—A military tribunal in Israel has concluded its investigation that 21 members of a Palestinian family who died during the Gaza war in 2009 did not support allegations that their death supported grounds for criminal indictments or disciplinary action when the house they had been sheltered by the Israeli Defense Forcers was thereafter shelled by friendly fire.
• Yemen at war: Reuters reports that Yemen, a small crude old producer, suffering a year of political upheaval has emboldened militants to have seized swathes of territory in that nation. The militants have repeatedly blown up gas pipelines feeding the country’s largest industrial complex. The continue violence in that nation poses a potential risk to global trade because of its strategic location linking Asia, Europe and the Americas.
• Syria –The clashes continue across the country. The claim of troops killed continues to climb, and the Human Rights Watch cited war crimes committed by Bashar al-Assad before the negotiated truce. The report states that arbitrary detentions, summary executions of not merely adults but children occurred. Editor’s Note: In the meantime and unbelievably so, the United Nations peacekeeping mission is seeking additional recruits. What is the West waiting for?
• Foreign Policy-Mideast Daily—reporting of an article from the Washington Post—Disturbing news: “In granting a waiver on national security grounds, administration officials argued that continuing the funding (to Egypt) was more likely to encourage cooperation with the United States and progress on human rights than a cutoff would. As it turns out, the administration was wrong. In a number of tangible ways, U.S.-Egyptian relations and the military’s treatment of civil society have deteriorated since the waiver was issued.*** Conditions for U.S.-backed pro-democracy groups elsewhere in the Middle East have deteriorated as other governments have observed Egypt’s ability to crack down with impunity.”
• From The Mail on Line—we learn that four British alleged terrorist were to employ those little toy cars your child plays with, load them up with explosives then send them under the gates at a Territorial Army base in Luton then blow them up. It appears there is a new flourishing of attacks in the UK.

COMMENTARY: – Bin Laden Dead. Are We Any Safer?
As the anniversary of bin Laden’s death gets circulated, commentated upon and analyzed in all media forms, the question asked in the most somber terms is: With his death, are we safer? And the answer, in even more somber terms, is: Yes. Unfortunately, the answer is far from complete and true.
Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda empire is but a shadow of its former self. That much is true. Its present leaders have neither the charisma nor the leadership nor influence of its former leader. His was a cult of immense power and magnitude. He was a person to be feared, not merely because of his tremendous ability to instill a dedication to “the message”, but even more important devotion to the man.
Those of his papers that were seized in his compound, upon his capture, and made public or reviewed and discussed by recognized analysts reveal that he himself understood that his message had lost its import for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the number of Muslims who had been killed by their own people. His message, though, remained on target, and that is to rid the world of non-Muslim ideas, ideals, religions and “ways of life”. There is, he preached, only one “approach” in all avenues of one’s life. His message was really quite simple but to make it a reality is another question and this was his goal. The purpose of the 9/11 could not be any clearer or more forceful. What is most important in answering the question, ”are we any safer with his demise”, is that although his individual pulpit may have all but vanished, his message is far from being forgotten or abandoned by others.
As a nation and individually, we tend to oversimplify, and it would be a tremendous mistake if we were to construct a disconnect between bin Laden now dead and the Spring, or more accurately, the Arab Revolutions and how they are evolving as we stand far afield and watch from the sidelines. In another piece, I have written about the “free” world’s reaction, applause and celebration, as a democratic uprising took hold in the streets of the Arab world. First in the streets of Tunis, then spreading to Egypt and now in war torn Syria. Those of us addicted to CNN watched throughout the days and nights with fascination, as the streets of the Arab capitals were filled with people from all facets of life, culture and religion. The television conversations were how and when the newly freed people would chose their new forms of government, representatives and constitution. The camera took us into the midst of the people in the squares of these countries. We heard, not merely from those who sought to lead but also, and so much more important we thought, from the individual in the street. The marvel of instant communication brought us “Democracy and Freedom at Work” right before our eyes. Then something happened. Something went wrong.
In reality nothing “went wrong”. What went “wrong” was our lack of understanding of a different culture and history. What went wrong was our substituting our wishes for people with a very different history and culture, who would create their own wish list of ideals. Living in New York City, as I do, with people from every corner of the world with communities reeking with different spices, languages and religions we tend, although not losing their individual identification, to meld the various cultures into one overarching way of life. We are inclined to have a double set of DNA; one for our home and the other for beyond our neighborhood. The same is not true in the Arab world.
Standing afar from the city squares that saw the rise of the Arab Revolutions and the cheering that took place among its people, it became confusing to us that a nation, such as Egypt, who after decades of surviving under a dictatorship that was not benevolent to its people and ruled with an unforgiving hand would not turn to an open and free democracy to fashion their daily lives. Freedom means– I have the right to choose. Democracy means –we all vote and pick. Freedom and Democracy means we are all equals and we are all treated fairly. For that, you need a double set of DNA; it appears that does not exist in Cairo.
The Muslim Brotherhood stands for much beyond its standard definition. Its allies both in Egypt and beyond do not preach democracy or any form of its incarnations. The idea of freedom of choice is not one of their guiding policies. Not for themselves as a people, nor their neighbors, nor the nations far beyond their horizons. It stands for the eradication, annihilation, suppression of all that is not within their embrace. In Egypt, the direction of the new nation(new in that it was free of a brutal management) began when the elections began for its Assembly, when a commission was to be elected to draft its constitution and when there were those who sought the office of president spoke out in the public square. The leading candidate for the country’s highest office has declared that if elected, he will lead the nation toward the destruction of Israel and the fall of the West and the imposition of Islam upon all.
Bin Laden is dead. In lower Manhattan we have constructed a building that is now higher than the Empire State Building and is still growing on a site that is best known for 9/11. But are we any safer today now that he is dead? The answer is clearly—no. The message remains the same, the messenger is different.

Richard Allan,
The Editor

Global Events and Commentary: April 30, 2012

GLOBAL INCIDENTS
• It would seem to most that it is easy to move an accused terrorists from one “civilized” nation to another for trial, but a perfect example of democracy in action is that on April 17, British authorities rearrested Palestinian-Jordanian Muslim cleric Abu Qatada, who had been released from prison in February when the European Court of Human Rights ruled that he could not be deported to Jordan on terrorism charges. The Home Secretary informed British legislators the same day that the United Kingdom has received pledges from Jordan that should address the European court’s concerns, and clear the way for Abu Qatada’s deportation.
• As reported in LWOT there is trial that is underway that is attracting particular scrutiny in New York City: a home-grown alleged terrorist is in the dock. “Seven prominent journalists and civil rights activists have filed suit against Attorney General Eric Holder, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and other top U.S. officials over the recently approved National Defense Authorization Act, which the plaintiffs claim puts them at higher risk of arrest, and allows the indefinite detention of American citizens on U.S. soil.” Saajid Badat, who has been convicted in Britain in for plotting to blow up a passenger plane in the December 2001, the famous “shoe-bomb attempt”, testified for the prosecution via video deposition about the leadership and training methods of al-Qaeda.
• Once again we hear the argument made by defense attorneys for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is on trial at Guantánamo Bay for allegedly masterminding the 2000 USS Cole bombing. Defense attorney argued that a military tribunal is unconstitutional because it applies only to non-U.S. citizens, discriminating against people “simply by the accident of where they were born”. Editor’s Note: That distinction plays an enormous role in numerous federal acts, and in particular, when dealing with interdiction of electronic communications. There is a clear distinction when dealing with US citizens and noncitizens.
• A branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq known as the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) has once again claimed responsibility for a series of attacks that killed 38 in Baghdad and across that war torn nation. The ISI claims it has targeted security forces and government officials in “response” they claim,” to the campaign of detaining, torture, embargo and confiscation of lands of Sunni people, especially in Baghdad and its outskirts.” They claimed that their wave of violence was a “new wave” a “new invasion” and that the violence would “not stop until God judges between us” and the Shiites. Their violence has produced dozens of bombings and shootings in seven different provinces killing 38 people and wounded more than 170. Each day seems to have produced the deadliest day in Iraq since “some previous day”, when scores of people have been killed and wounded in attacks also claimed by al-Qaeda’s ISI. Editor’s Note: As a child, I learned of different tribes of Indians who attacked each other and the “white man”, today it seems inconceivable that tribes, within the same nation, continue to attack each other. These tribal feuds continue as man reaches beyond the moon and computers talk to each other at imaginable speeds.
• Finally, China, who has long been Pyongyang’s most important backer, recently joined with other countries in condemning North Korea for a failed missile launch earlier this month. For Beijing it was one of those very rare public censure of it’s internationally and isolated ally. Beijing once again has denied allegation that it provides North Korea help in violation of international mandates. “We’ve made very clear to China that China has a responsibility,” claims an American Official, “to make sure that North Korea — if they want to improve the situation with their people, if they want to become a part of the international family, if they, in fact, want to deal with the terrible issues that are confronting North Korea, there’s a way to do that.” Beijing has in the past not only provided enormous economic aid to that financially strapped nation but acted as its protector and advocate when North Korea behaved in its usual belligerent manner which only resulted in escalated tension in the international community.
-Water War Tomorrow
In the early 90’s, on a sunny spring day sitting on a bench in Budapest with the late Ian Cuthbertson, who was the smartest person I had ever known, I remember being shocked when seeing the Blue Danube for the first time. Somehow I expected something more ….blue and probably more majestic, and it was neither. He was amazed at my lack of knowledge and said in passing: In a couple of decades, people will be fighting over water. I realized, as he made that offhand comment, that a few years earlier, as the guest of an advisor to the then Prime Minister of Israel, I was shown the Jordan River and was amazed that it looked more like a neglected stream than the mighty river I had been lead, as a child, to envision. Then too, this top ranking security official had indicated that future wars would be fought over water. At the time, I was led to believe that Israel, a country that is two-thirds arid and surrounded by hostile voices, was experimenting in developing a desalination system.
I have not thought of those two incidents until I stumbled across two articles. The first was about the regions of the world that were so extremely water poor. The second stated that Israel has developed a new and cheaper –no chemical process– for desalination. The claim by the Israeli’s is that once their project is complete over 50 percent of their household water use will come from a desalination process. The 50 percent that will not have this advantage is a huge percentage of that nation’s total need—not merely for household use but for their extensive agriculture ventures. It only takes a moment, when you stop to think that without water a people/nation/civilization dies.
In an article by Alan Bierga, U.S. Intelligence Says Water Shortages Threaten Stability, Mr. Bierga reports “An all-out water war is unlikely in the next 10 years, as nations will be more likely to use water as a bargaining chip with each other, according to the report from the Director of National Intelligence….” I respectfully disagree. Water will not be, as claimed, a “bargaining chip”. Not in a world where at present almost one in eight people on the entire planet aren’t able to secure a glass of safe water to drink. Water will be held hostage, and the immediate response will be violence between those that depend upon the water flow to their nation and the nation that dams the rivers to dry beds. The reason is understandable: clearly, one neither has the time nor inclination to “negotiate” with a hostile neighbor for an item held captive as dear as water, when it means the difference between eating and not eating and life and death.
The key areas to focus upon are the Middle East, South Asia and North Africa. Much of the real facts regarding the need for water and national security are buried in a classified document released by the National Intelligence Estimate that was narrowly distributed to policymakers. From the unclassified edition one can unmistakably draw unambiguous conclusions. They are very disturbing and certainly not reassuring. In addition, the assessment from the NIE is that 70 percent of all fresh-water supplies are now used for agriculture. “The downside, the NIE claims, is that many regions are “pulling water out of aquifers faster than it is being renewed.” You can then read that “when it’s gone it’s gone.” The conclusions from that statement are ominous: when water is gone crops die and life ceases.
The strategic water basins that feed the rivers in several geographic areas include:
1. The Nile. This river runs through 10 countries before ending up in Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. (Note that this river runs south to north.)
2. The famous Jordan River. The Palestinians and Jordan have long been at odds with Israel.
3. Tigris-Euphrates in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.
4. And, last, for most of us, the least known is the Indus, whose rainwater collection area includes Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Tibet.
Subsequent reviews of these geographic areas provide us with a special prospective beyond merely the absence of water and beyond their strategic location for human use and agriculture. They are potential targets for terrorism of a greater proportion than the twin towers in New York City. When the Twin Towers were attacked and destroyed, the loss of human life resulted in 2,996 –immediate at time of attack—deaths. Now envision a terrorist attack at a major water collection center that feeds into streams and rivers, and irrigates thousands of acres of fertile land and provides drinking water to untold numbers of people. What of the lives that are connected to that source of water supply—water that is not merely contaminated but undrinkable and dangerous? And although Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the United States would employ both its knowledge and political will to seek “solutions to global water accessibility challenges, especially in the developing world”, we have been allowed to see only the tip of the world problem. Major water supplies intentionally polluted beyond redemption are beyond the scope and magnitude of the Twin Towers.
Where there is an insufficient or poorly husbanded water supply that is but one concern for the world. And not to minimize that concern, nevertheless this problem is easily conquered. It has been done in the past, and surely, it can be accomplished on a grand scale in the future. All it takes it the will and the financial support.
It is the second and third water issue: Where those who control the supply of water will intentionally withhold or deny it from others for political or religious reasons, and, last, where as a weapon of terrorism and violence, a water supply is destroyed. The importance of such an act—if successful– can only be envisioned as being immediate with sickening consequences. At times the obvious must be said: terrorism is beyond a car bomb in a city square or commuter train.
Richard Allan
The Editor

Global Incidents and Commentary: February 28, 2012

Global Events
● LWOT reports that “twelve of 13 suspected members of a banned Northern Irish militant group, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), were acquitted of terrorism charges in Northern Ireland’s largest so-called “super grass” trial (Reuters, CNN, Guardian, BBC). The judge described the prosecution’s “super grass” witnesses Ian and Robert Stewart as “ruthless criminals and unflinching terrorists,” and suspected that their testimony was “infected with lies, ” leaving authorities questioning the legitimacy of allowing “rehabilitated” militia members testify against their former comrades (Guardian). “
● Representatives from more than 60 Western and Arab countries have met in Tunis, Tunisia to call for the Syrian government to implement an immediate ceasefire and to allow humanitarian assistance for civilians and people wounded in violence. The group was not expected to discuss military options but will threaten increased sanctions if the Syrian regime doesn’t comply within days. Editor’s Note: Shamefully, neither Russia nor China, who vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution based on an Arab League plan aimed to end the Syrian violence planned to attend the conference and have protect the Syrian government from the UN sanctions. The problem also is acerbated by the fact of the lack of coordination within the groups opposing the Government: “The “Friends of Syria” seem to be favoring the opposition Syrian National Council, but are not giving the group exclusive recognition. The other main opposition group, the National Coordination Committee, is boycotting the conference.” On top of all this the activists have reported that over 7,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the 11-month uprising.
● Palestinian militants in Gaza fired a rocket into southern Israel’s Eshkol district on Friday evening, the Israeli military said, but there were no reports of casualties. Early on Friday Israeli warplanes staged two air strikes on the Gaza Strip, in response to rocket fire on Thursday night. A Palestinian militant group, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), said it had launched one of Thursday’s rockets “in defense of Al-Quds,” the Arabic name for Jerusalem, where there has been a rise in tensions in the Old City compound that houses the Al-Aqsa mosque.
● And the saga continues, where talks on forming a unity government between Fatah and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, have once again been postponed.
● Foreign Policy reports that “next month, U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold a key meeting over the Iranian nuclear challenge that will test their sometimes rocky relationship. After a weekend visit by National Security Advisor Tom Donilon to Israel, the White House announced this week that Obama will host Netanyahu in Washington on March 5. This will be an opportunity for the two leaders to synchronize their positions on Iran. Whether they can reach some common ground — now or in the near future — could be a decisive factor in Israel’s decision-making on whether to strike Iran sometime this year.” It is no secret that Netanyahu and Obama have never been close, but now is the time for the two leaders to find common ground over the Iranian nuclear issue.
● International pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran has never been higher. In addition to the new, crippling U.S. sanctions enacted on Dec. 31 and Feb. 6, the European Union recently pledged to halt the importation of Iranian oil by July 1. The top local news there is that Iran’s economy is reeling. The counter part is that the Iranian leaders have struck an increasingly aggressive note. The latest bellicose announcement was they have threatened a preemptive strike against their “foes”, and warned that they could close the Strait of Hormuz. In another recent act of defiance, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Feb. 15 that a “new generation” of Iranian centrifuges had just been activated at the Natanz nuclear site. And this week, IAEA inspectors charged with monitoring Iran’s nuclear program were denied access to a military facility, returning to Vienna after what they termed “disappointing” talks with their Iranian interlocutors. And the latest news is that Ahmadinejad may be seeing his last days as the head of the civil government.
Foreign Aid and Reciprocal Objectives
The percentage of Americans living below the poverty standard is staggering. There are at last count almost 300 million Americans presently residing in these united states. A little fewer than 15% of them, or about 42 million, exist on a standard of living that is unconscionable even in these difficult economic times.
With these facts in mind and ever mindful of our absolute need for the support and growth of our national security infrastructure, I find it beyond merely embarrassing that we provide financial aid in the form of economic and military aid to two countries, and we do not, in return, demand some form of reciprocal cooperation or public acknowledgment of “thank you”. I refer to Egypt and Turkey.
Billions (not millions) of dollars have and are being provided these countries– some in loans, some in grants, some for economic purposes and some to bolster their military prowess. I do not and have never advocated pulling back from our international commitment or involvement in global affairs. We are, after all, a nation among many others, totally dependent upon the goodwill of each of us. Yet it is unfathomable that our aid has no fair and equitable strings attached. I am not refereeing to the political or military control of another nation nor involvement in their domestic or foreign governance and decision making process. I am referring to a memorialized commitment to mutual goals –not imposed one upon another.
The security of this national in these unprecedented violent times, with vocal histrionics spewed across foreign airwaves and press, it behooves our nation to support causes that inure to our benefit and not those that contradict our frame work of democratic process, our philosophy or that attack our allies.
The power of the newly formed Egyptian government beyond that of the military, rests with a newly elected Parliament whose leadership is in the hands of the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood. No historical friend of America, whose credo was and is, “God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations”. Within the last weeks, this newly formed, deeply rooted Islamic government has not only demanded the abdication of the military but has put on trial non-Egyptians who have over the years, funneled money to NGOs to support democratic reform. One of those charged is an American. And yet the billions of dollars (over 1.5 billion dollars in 2011) the United States pours into that nation is being utilized for anti-west sentiment and action.
Although Turkey has, over the past few weeks, become the spearhead of a joint Western-Arab-Turkish policy aimed at forcing President Bashar Assad to cede power in Syria this turnabout has clear questionable motives, considering Turkey’s overall international and regional conduct. At one time it had cordial relations with Israel, but in its scurry to be the principal representative of a Mideast Arab community, in its present state of disarray, it has repositioned itself to confront Israel both politically and militarily. To muddle this new approach, the apologists for Turkey (some of whom reside in the United States) have attempted to confuse Turkey’s policy toward the West with its ever changing hostile attitude toward Israel. These strains will only continue because of the core of Turkey’s political and religious internal changes. Turkey’s newly evolving Islamist international posture reflects its internal evolution. Turkey wishes to become the lynchpin in the Mideast struggle between and among those Mideast nations who are attempting to cope with revolutions and ineptness in creating functional governments, and to fill the vacuum created by the toppling of the regions’ dictators. Could the reason be: at a time it wishes to take its place at the head of the Mideast table, its fear that a show of any good will toward Israel would be considered an anathema in any attempt to take a leading role in its relations with its historical kin?
When Turkey does appear to side with the West and, in particular, with the United States, I think one has the right to question the motives of Turkish government and what is truly included in its calculations. Could it be that as the US has supplied billions of dollars in multiple forms of aid to Turkey and the region (yes, including Israel), and being very frank, all that Israel has supplied to the international community is its creation of a Jewish democratic state and is thus, considered by many, a “problem” in a region where nations have had not only historical difficulty to coalesce but to bring any semblance of democracy to their people?

Richard Allan,
The Editor