Archive for July, 2011

Frank Crimi in FrontPage

The Afghanistan government’s peace overtures to the Taliban place Afghan women in deadly peril.

As the United States begins its scheduled 2014 troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Afghan government has intensified its reconciliation efforts with the Taliban. Needless to say, the outcome of any subsequent peace deal with the Taliban holds enormous consequences for the women of Afghanistan, given the brutality they suffered at the hands of the fundamentalist regime.

Thus, many Afghan women have been adamant that any negotiations with the Taliban have substantial female representation, as a way to ensure that the rights they have gained won’t be crushed if the Taliban returns to the Afghan fold.

This seemed like a genuine possibility at first, when Afghan President Hamid Karzai created the High Peace Council to direct negotiations with the Taliban and gave the committee female representation. Unfortunately, the government top-loaded the council with 60 men and only 9 women, a disparity in numbers that brought immediate concern from Afghanistan’s nascent crop of women leaders.

One such leader, Fauzia Kofi, a member of Afghanistan’s parliament, said of the female council members, “They’re negotiating for our rights — for my rights, for the rights of my daughters — from a position of weakness.” Suraya Parlika, head of the All Afghan Women’s Union, added, “The women on the council are…pawns.”

Unfortunately, their view was confirmed by the council’s deputy director, Ataullah Luddin, who said, “They want to go as a group of women to meet with Mullah Omar [the Taliban supreme leader]. But that’s just not possible. If they go, they will be killed.” Luddin also added with a laugh, “And anyway, we all know that women can’t keep a secret for more than 34 hours.”

Luddin’s quip notwithstanding, his appraisal of the Taliban response to such an encounter was spot on. While Muslim men in the region more often than not treat women little better than livestock, the Taliban’s approach takes the situation to a whole other, disturbing level.

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Frank Crimi in FrontPage

Calling reports of famine a pack of lies, Somalia’s Islamist terror group al Shabab is preventing relief efforts from reaching over 2.2 million starving Somali’s.

The UN’s recent declaration that parts of southern and central Somalia are in a state of famine was apparently not shared by al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda-linked Islamist terrorist organization that controls nearly 90 percent of the drought stricken areas.

Consequently, the Islamist terror outfit has now banned international relief organizations from the territory it controls, an action that is now reportedly preventing emergency aid from reaching over 2.2 million starving Somalis.

Somalia’s drought is just part of the larger drought that has gripped the entire Horn of Africa, one that has affected over 11 million people. For Somalia — already engulfed in horrific sectarian violence and subjected to near continuous anarchy for over twenty years — the current drought has been particularly nasty.

According to various reports, more than half of Somalia’s 3.7 million people live in drought-affected areas where they are unable to find food and, as such, face imminent starvation. It’s been estimated that 500,000 Somali children alone are critically malnourished. In fact, so bad has the situation become that the UN reported 11,000 Somalis have died from famine since June.

However, according to al-Shabab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage, the UN has “exaggerated” the drought in Somalia. Moreover, he called the UN’s claim of the famine’s existence a complete “lie.” Instead, Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage accused the UN of political subterfuge and many of the foreign relief agencies as being “spies” who were “harming our people.”

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Frank Crimi in FrontPage

Saudi Arabia declares its intention to enter the nuclear arms race as Iran edges closer toward completion of its nuclear weapons goal.

Fearful that he will soon face a nuclear-armed Iran, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Turki al-Faisal recently warned that the Saudi Kingdom would have no choice but to develop its own nuclear weapons, a move he said would lead to “untold and possibly dramatic consequences.”

While the Saudi’s have long voiced the strategic goal of a nuclear-free Middle East, they have also unequivocally stated that they won’t sit back and allow themselves to be the only nonnuclear nation in the region.

So, the remarks by al-Faisal — a former Saudi intelligence official — simply echo that view, one espoused by Saudi King Abdullah in 2006 when he said that if Iran ever developed nuclear weapons, “everyone in the region would, including Saudi Arabia.”

However, with Iran now edging ever closer to acquiring its own nuclear weapons, it appears the Saudis have actually begun laying the groundwork for a similar pursuit. For example, in April 2011, the Saudis purchased from China advanced ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. One of the missiles, the DF-21, can carry a 500kT nuclear warhead over 1,800 kilometers.

Moreover, in June 2011, the Saudi government announced a $300 billion plan to build 16 nuclear reactors over the next 20 years. While the Saudis have long been looking to develop a civilian nuclear program to meet its increasing electricity demands — having recently signed nuclear cooperation agreements with both France and China — the acquisition of nuclear power plants is the first crucial step in the development of a nuclear weapons program.

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Frank Crimi FrontPage

An Iranian court rules that a pastor must reject his Christian faith or be put to death. It’s the latest incident in the Islamist Republic’s continuous and increased assault on its small Christian population.

Iran’s Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that Yosef Nadarkhani, a 32 year-old Iranian evangelical pastor, must reject his Christian faith or be put to death. It’s the latest incident in the Islamist Republic’s continuous and increased assault on its small Christian population.

Nadarkhani was first arrested on the charge of apostasy (leaving Islam for another faith) in October 2009 and sentenced to death by hanging for his refusal to teach Islam to Christian children. While Nadarkhani hadn’t practiced any faith before he became a Christian at age19, he was born to Muslim parents and thus considered to be a Muslim under Islamic law.

As such, Nadarkhani’s conviction was upheld in September 2010 by a lower Iranian court when it found that he had proven his apostasy by “organizing evangelistic meetings, sharing his faith, inviting others to convert, and running a house church.” At that point, Nadarkhani appealed to Iran’s Supreme Court to have his death sentence reversed but that appeal has now been rejected.

To Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, Nadarkhani’s attorney, the Iranian court decision came as a surprise as only one month ago he had been under the impression that his client’s appeal had been granted. Instead, Nadarkhani now stands to be the first Iranian Christian executed for apostasy since 1990.

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Frank Crimi in FrontPage

As it prepares for its first General Election, Tunisia’s fledgling attempt toward democratic rule is being heavily threatened by an emboldened Islamist movement and an increased al Qaeda presence.

As it prepares for its first General Election, Tunisia’s fledgling attempt toward democratic rule is being heavily threatened by an emboldened Islamist movement and an increased al Qaeda presence.

Tunisia’s Islamist movement is led by Ennahda, the Tunisian Islamist party inspired by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. The Ennahda — which had been banned by former Tunisian President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali since its 1981 inception — was legalized in March 2011 following Ben Ali’s ouster.

Like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Ennahda has been viewed as having the organizational expertise and large membership to make it the odds on favorite in any parliamentarian election. With that in mind, Tunisia’s interim government recently moved its originally scheduled July Election to October in an effort to help the country’s disparate group of loosely organized, secularist parties better prevail against the more organized Ennahda.

Not surprisingly, that decision was denounced by Ennahda leaders but hailed by pro-democracy advocates, one who said that holding the July election would have entailed political “suicide” for anti-Islamist groups.

Yet, even though the victors in the October 2011 election will be charged with rewriting Tunisia’s Constitution, Tunisia’s interim leaders have been quick to downplay the adverse impact of an Islamist electoral victory.

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Frank Crimi in FrontPage

Congressman Dennis Kucinich’s visit to Damascus includes a call to end economic sanctions against the Syrian regime as well as high praise for Syria’s President Bashar Assad.

Offering singular praise for the reform efforts being enacted by Syria’s embattled leader, President Bashar Assad, noted anti-war Democrat Dennis Kucinich urged the United States and the rest of the international community to lift economic sanctions against the Syrian regime.

Rep. Kucinich’s comments were made to reporters during a visit to the Syrian capital of Damascus. There, Kucinich chastised the media for overly “dramatizing” the chaotic events transpiring in the country. According to Kucinich, Assad was “highly loved and appreciated by the Syrians,” adding that those opposing him were still free to speak their minds.

It should be noted that when his remarks appeared in the Syrian paper Al-Watan, Kucinich was quick to state he had been misquoted, saying the report contained “a number of mistranslations and mischaracterized statements. It is unfortunate that translation errors can create such problems.”

Of course, there was confusion as to why Kucinich happened to find himself in Damascus in the first place. While Kucinich said he was on a “fact-finding mission” on behalf of his constituents, Al-Watan pointed out his visit was organized by the Syrian embassy “as part of a campaign intended to relieve external pressure on the regime, and allow it to present its situation.”

In any case, whether he was misquoted or not, Kucinich has demonstrated a soft spot for the Syrian despot. In a recent interview with an American newspaper, Kucinich said he thought Assad “will move in a direction of democratic reforms. He has already made that commitment from what I can see.”

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