We in the West are living in the midst of a jihad, and most of us don't even realize it — because it's a brand of jihad that's barely a generation old. Islam divides the world into two parts. The part governed by sharia, or Islamic law, is called the Dar al-Islam, or House of Submission. Everything else is the Dar al-Harb, or House of War. It's called the House of War because it, too, according to the Koran, is destined to be governed by sharia, and it will take war — holy war, jihad — to bring it into the House of Submission. Jihad began with Muhammed himself. When he was born, the lands that today make up the Arab world were populated mostly by Christians and Jews; within a century after his death, those areas' inhabitants had been killed, driven away, subjugated to Islam as members of the underclass known as dhimmis, or converted to the Religion of Peace at the point of a sword. The Crusades of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were not wars of conquest by Europeans but attempts to take back what had once been Christian territory. America's very first foreign conflict after the Revolutionary War was with the Barbary pirates, who, sponsored by the Muslim governments of North Africa — just as terrorist groups today enjoy the sponsorship of countries like Libya, Iran, and Syria — had for generations been preying on European ships and selling their crews and passengers into slavery.It might be easy to dismiss this as yet another kook who takes his Islamic theology (or Orientalist reading thereof) too seriously, but then the NYT's approving review ended with:
Bawer is unquestionably correct, and that fact is quite simply terrifying.Well except that, for instance, the stupid argument about the Barbary pirates (used by many others in recent years, include those who should know better like Christopher Hitchens) makes no sense. After all, most states in that period employed the services of pirates (called privateers) and would even distribute licenses for piracy. Slavery, likewise, is hardly an Islamo-Arab monopoly. The idea that the inhabitants of the present Islamic world were "driven away" during the Islamic conquests is largely untrue, and the inhabitants of now Islamic lands were not all Christian or Jewish (some were animist). The idea that Jerusalem is/was Christian territory assumes that Bawer accepts the Roman claim to the city, and extends it to the Roman Catholic Church. One could go on, but without reading the book (I am sorely tempted to get the ebook version to read and review... but don't want to give him money) I will stop at this. That someone has written an alarmist, anti-immigrant, possibly racist book is one thing. It is part of a phenomena that finds a niche in the publishing industry and sells well because of the global "war on terror context). But for the NYT, supposedly THE American highbrow, liberal paper to review it so uncritically is another. To me (along with Thomas Friedman's weekly contributions) it is another sign in the mounting evidence that it is simply not a reliable newspaper when it comes to the Middle East, and this makes me doubt the rest of it. I barely read it as it is, and urge others to do likewise. You can follow American politics at TalkingPointsMemo.com or countless other publications, and look elsewhere for your foreign coverage. Which brings us to the Guardian. I am not uncritical of the Guardian -- I wish it was less lifestyle-oriented, insular and did more long-form journalism of the classic American kind -- but it remains, for people on the center-left at least, an excellent newspaper with a superb website. On the same day as the NYT endorsed "Eurabia," the excellent investigative journalist Jason Burke reported that the frenzy about it was dying down:
Alberto Fernandez, one of the few high-level US Foreign Service Officers who knows Arabic well enough to speak it on TV is being assigned to Equatorial Guinea.
Let's say that the general approach was 'we're going off to war' and i can swear i heard our brigade commander at least once, when sitting with us during maneuvers for a combatants’ talk around the campfire at tze'elim at night – he happened to join us and we asked him what was going on in gaza and what was to be expected, stuff like that, and he went so far as to say this was war and in war as in war, no consideration of civilians was to be taken. You shoot anyone you see. I'm paraphrasing here, not literally quoting, but the gist of the matter was very clear. How did people take this? Look, we're a pretty old company. We're a founding battalion, all of us are 33 years old, and we took this very skeptically, a bit fearful of the army's approach. I know for myself, i don't know what every single guy that night felt about it. I know personally that this pretty much disgusted me. There was a clear feeling, and this was repeated whenever others spoke to us, that no humanitarian consideration played any role in the army at present. The goal was to carry out an operation with the least possible casualties for the army, without its even asking itself what the price would be for the other side. This was the thrust of things that we heard from more than one officer.
- Mon 23 juillet 1999 « Ibn Kafka's obiter dicta – divagations d'un juriste marocain en liberté surveillée
- [Billet invité] Dix années de règne - Comme une bouteille jetée à la mer!
- [Billet invité] 23 Juillet 1999… - Comme une bouteille jetée à la mer!
- [Billet invité] En finir avec la ‘’fin de l’histoire’’ - Comme une bouteille jetée à la mer!
- Global Voices Online » Morocco: A Decade with Mohammed VI
A bungled attempt by the United Arab Emirates’ largest telecommunications operator to install surveillance software into subscribers’ BlackBerrys has infuriated customers in the rich Gulf state, and raised global concerns over the security of smart phones. Etisalat in late June told its 145,000 BlackBerry customers to ‘upgrade’ the software on their devices by downloading a program or ‘patch’ that Etisalat claimed would improve performance, but users said it only drained the battery of the smart phones, prompting tech-savvy subscribers to investigate further. What they discovered was that the instead of improving performance, the software ‘patch’ – which included a mysterious file labelled ‘Interceptor’ – was actually spyware designed to let Etisalat capture, read and store targeted customers’ e-mails. The claim was later confirmed by Research in Motion, the Canada-based maker of the BlackBerry, which sent out a warning to subscribers in the UAE with instructions on how to remove the rogue software."For now they are stupidly denying it. And I'd love an initiative to reveal what all Middle Eastern telecoms are doing to help governments eavesdrop (or an easy way to disable that.) MobiNil and Vodafone in Egypt, for instance, provide access to their network servers to state security.
"Winograd’s opponent in the 36th congressional district was previously investigated by the FBI for allegedly using her influence in Congress to get spying charges dropped against American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) analysts. Harman voted for resolutions in support of the Israeli siege of Gaza and invasion of Lebanon and was a featured speaker at the recent AIPAC conference. ‘I’m not clear who Jane Harman represents in Congress – the people of her district or a right-wing faction in a foreign government?’ says Winograd. ‘When elected to Congress, I will represent the people of this district and the interests of the United States.’A most excellent development. More!
Army dictates terms in EgyptOriginally published on 24 July 1952 Successful and Bloodless Coup The Egyptian Army yesterday organised a bloodless revolt and last night Aly Maher Pasha, a politician on whom the Army looked with favour, was installed as the "emergency Premier." Last night King Farouk entrusted him with the formation of a new Government. The declared purpose of the coup – which was carried out by troops, tanks, and planes – was to demand a purge in the High Command of the armed forces and in political life. General Naguib, the author of the coup, proclaimed himself Commander-in-Chief and he was confirmed in that post last night by King Farouk. A proclamation by General Naguib late last night said to-day's action has been completely successful and the Army was in control of the situation.
Reasons for Army's Discontent CAIRO, JULY 23 The first military coup in Egypt since the Arabi movement seventy years ago contains many puzzling features, and some people see a connection between the latest developments and the recent sudden exodus of Wafdist leaders for Europe. It is recalled that when a Wafdist youth organisation urged Serag el-Din Pasha to stay he said that he had been advised to leave quickly. It has long been known that the reverse in Palestine has rankled with younger officers, who felt that they had been betrayed by corruption which resulted in supplies of obsolete arms and ammunition. Recent charges of corruption and failure to change the old guard added to their discontent. Certain officers who supported the previous commander-in-chief, General Haider, were arrested during the night and unconfirmed reports say that there were some casualties among those who resisted. The first news of the Army's action was given to the public about breakfast time by the wireless, which broadcast an appeal to officers in the name of General Naguib. This said that "traitors" had been interfering with national affairs and had even dared to meddle with Army matters. The military had, therefore, decided to purify themselves of traitors and weaklings, confident in the support of all members of the armed forces. Tanks and armed guards surrounded the main barracks and government buildings while jet aircraft flew low overhead. There was no opposition and it was soon evident that the movement enjoyed overwhelming support. Later broadcasts amplified Naguib's earlier statement. It was explained that the traitors had conspired against the country and military affairs had been left in the hands of either ignorant, corrupt, or traitorous persons, which had compelled Army intervention.
The events in Iran can also be read as a comment on the platitudes of Obama’s Cairo speech, which focused on the dialogue between religions: no, we don’t need a dialogue between religions (or civilisations), we need a bond of political solidarity between those who struggle for justice in Muslim countries and those who participate in the same struggle elsewhere. Two crucial observations follow. First, Ahmadinejad is not the hero of the Islamist poor, but a corrupt Islamofascist populist, a kind of Iranian Berlusconi whose mixture of clownish posturing and ruthless power politics is causing unease even among the ayatollahs. His demagogic distribution of crumbs to the poor shouldn’t deceive us: he has the backing not only of the organs of police repression and a very Westernised PR apparatus. He is also supported by a powerful new class of Iranians who have become rich thanks to the regime’s corruption – the Revolutionary Guard is not a working-class militia, but a mega-corporation, the most powerful centre of wealth in the country. Second, we have to draw a clear distinction between the two main candidates opposed to Ahmadinejad, Mehdi Karroubi and Mousavi. Karroubi is, effectively, a reformist, a proponent of an Iranian version of identity politics, promising favours to particular groups of every kind. Mousavi is something entirely different: he stands for the resuscitation of the popular dream that sustained the Khomeini revolution. It was a utopian dream, but one can’t deny the genuinely utopian aspect of what was so much more than a hardline Islamist takeover. Now is the time to remember the effervescence that followed the revolution, the explosion of political and social creativity, organisational experiments and debates among students and ordinary people. That this explosion had to be stifled demonstrates that the revolution was an authentic political event, an opening that unleashed altogether new forces of social transformation: a moment in which ‘everything seemed possible.’ What followed was a gradual closing-down of possibilities as the Islamic establishment took political control. To put it in Freudian terms, today’s protest movement is the ‘return of the repressed’ of the Khomeini revolution. What all this means is that there is a genuinely liberatory potential in Islam: we don’t have to go back to the tenth century to find a ‘good’ Islam, we have it right here, in front of us. The future is uncertain – the popular explosion has been contained, and the regime will regain ground. However, it will no longer be seen the same way: it will be just one more corrupt authoritarian government. Ayatollah Khamenei will lose whatever remained of his status as a principled spiritual leader elevated above the fray and appear as what he is – one opportunistic politician among many. But whatever the outcome, it is vital to keep in mind that we have witnessed a great emancipatory event which doesn’t fit within the frame of a struggle between pro-Western liberals and anti-Western fundamentalists. If we don’t see this, if as a consequence of our cynical pragmatism, we have lost the capacity to recognise the promise of emancipation, we in the West will have entered a post-democratic era, ready for our own Ahmadinejads. Italians already know his name: Berlusconi. Others are waiting in line.Or maybe do I really just hate Berlusconi?