Monday, 27 December 2010

2010: America Maintains the Global Balance of Power

The Global balance of power has for long been the international relations model to asses the international situation. As 2010 draws to an end this would be an apt time to asses the current status of the world's superpower and the nations that compete with it.

In 2010, the US worked to extricate itself from the Iraq and Afghan wars which depleted her resources and undermined her prowess. Troop levels became synonymous with success to the US public. The US attempted to pursue the same policy in Afghanistan as it did in Iraq, but found the conditions much different to the fertile ground it found in Iraq. 2010 saw the world's superpower consumed with attempting to disengage from foreign policy ambitions that were undertaken at the beginning of the 21st century. In Iraq the US established a political architecture which would protect the interests of the various factions, however the March 2010 election has resulted in a hung parliament and with ethno-sectarian differences so deep that by the end 2010 we have a weak government at best. Any discussion of troop withdrawal is premature when it is US forces that keep the political architecture together.

In Iraq the US reduced its troops to 50,000, however it has over 92,000 contractors in the country, conducting Obama's counter intelligence strategy which has failed to show any demonstrable success. The negotiations with the Taliban appear to have stalled even before they began.

The US may still be the world's superpower but it today faces larger, deeper and broader challenges than a decade ago. The only bright note for the US was that it was able to impose its missile defence shield upon NATO in the Lisbon summit during the year.

Russia's resurgence continued in earnest in 2010. Russia was able to continue with its expansion into its former Soviet periphery. With the US marred in two wars Russia for the last decade has been working to reverse US attempts through NATO and European Union expansion in bringing the former Soviet republic under its influence. Russia in 2010 worked to end the colour revolutions instigated by the US in order to expand its influence beyond its immediate territory. In February 2010 Russia ended the Orange revolution in Ukraine with the election of the pro-Moscow Victor Yanukovych. Yanukovych immediately agreed to extend Russia's lease for the Sevastopol naval base in the Crimean Peninsula (where the Russian Black Sea fleet is based) for an additional 25 years.

Russia also overthrew the Tulip revolution government in Kyrgyzstan bringing the central Asian republic back in the Russia's fold. With the US attempting to untangle itself from its two wars, Russia will in all likelihood find US attention turn towards it. Whilst Russia poses a threat to US influence its declining population and military industry will need to be dealt with to pose an effective challenge.

China's economic power continued to grow in 2010. Still considered by many to be the nation that will replace the US as the world's superpower, during 2010 China replaced Japan as the world's largest economy in the world after the US. China at the end of 2010 is also the world's largest exporter. The question regarding China is will such economic power turn into political power?

2010 was a year of heightened tensions in Sino-US relations. Washington pushed ahead with its strategy to re-engage with Southeast Asia and to re-assert its commitment to the region's security. The rising rivalry between Washington and Beijing for influence in South East Asia has until now revolved mainly on soft power initiatives involving diplomatic exchanges, aid and economic incentives. Chinese leaders avoided behaviour that aroused fear or suspicion on the part of its neighbours and economic partners. It has utilised its ‘soft power' - diplomacy, development aid, and cultural ties - to cultivate friends and allies. However expanding US military ties in 2010 appear to be bringing an end to so called peaceful competition.

In 2010 China showed a much more aggressive attitude towards the US. China is rapidly modernizing and expanding its arsenal of missiles, ships and aircraft. This has given China's army a much more prominent say in Chinese policymaking, as a result of China's increasing reliance on the military to secure supply lines for its economy. As the Peoples Liberation Army's clout has grown it has begun commentating in the press on issues concerning Chinese foreign policy. Rear Adm. Yang Yi, former head of strategic studies at the Chinese Army's National Defence University, wrote in August 2010 in the military newspaper People's Liberation Army Daily: "[The United States] is engaging in an increasingly tight encirclement of China and constantly challenging China's core interests. Washington will inevitably pay a costly price for its muddled decision" In 2011 and beyond China will need to decide if its economic power will be used for political ambitions, or if it remains like Japan, an economic power.

The Greek debt crisis exposed the gaping holes in the European unification project that began over 60 years ago. The European Union was created without any rules regarding exiting the Union. As more information came to light regarding Greece's finances it became clear that the Union's viability was in question.

More fundamentally a union of smaller states into a larger political union is a weak method of amalgamation. It lacks the characteristics found in full unification where a people become one nation. A union as a method of binding peoples and nations is always prone to political differences as it continues to recognise the sovereignty of constituent nations, this leaves it open to influence from the outside and held hostage by national interests.

In 2010 the global economic crisis, Europe's inability to establish a military defence force outside US dominated institutions have all weakened the union. The declaration by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in October 2010 that multiculturalism, or Multikulti, as the Germans put it, "has failed, utterly," is an ominous sign that the Greek sovereign debt crisis and certainties about a united Europe have frayed and Germany for the first time since WW2 has started to look beyond the EU. Germany is the financial and economic guarantor of Europe. When Germany constructs notions of the German nation, historically the national interest was conquering Europe.

2010 has seen Turkey rise to prominence on the international arena. A number of analysts have described Turkey's recent assertiveness as a new resurgence with the nation playing a leading role in a number of international issues. Negotiations with Iran over its nuclear programme, intermediating between Azerbaijan and Armenia over disputed territory and participating in indirect negotiations between Israel and Palestine has left some nations in Eastern Europe expecting the return of the Ottoman Janissaries. Turkey is today showing a new confidence beyond Turkish borders, long absent after the Ottomans. Various experts are now describing Turkey's ascendency as neo-Ottomanism. Turkish policies in the Caucuses, in Energy and the Middle East are not too different to America's aims in the region.

In 2011 and beyond Turkey will need to decide if it wants to be an independent power or continue playing the patron.

The Ummah's yearning for Deen has alarmed the West who view the Khilafah, Shari'ah and Ummah as a threat to very essence of Western liberal democracy. However without a state the Ummah will be unable to shift the global balance of power. The politicisation of the Ummah will continue to bear heavily on the Muslim rulers who will have to resort to ever more brutal methods to maintain their grip.

2010 ends with the US still the worlds superpower, although a weakened US to a decade ago. Russia continues its resurgence, however there are a number of policy areas it will need to address to pose a challenge to the global superpower. China for the moment continues with its economic and regional ambitions and remains for now only an economic threat to the US. France, Britain continue to work with the US and complicate its plans when it's in their interests, such a strategy however will not remove the US from the global pecking order. (Islamic System)

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The police shooting of Bangladesh garment workers

The fatal shooting down of four striking Bangladesh garment workers by police deployed by the Awami League government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on December 12 is the sharpest expression of a global process—the increasing turn by governments to violent repression to impose the burdens of the global financial crisis that erupted in 2008 onto the backs of the working class.

While the character of the policies may vary from country to country—in Bangladesh it has taken the form of suppressing wage demands by textile workers amid soaring inflation—they are being imposed with intensifying state repression.
The events in Bangladesh follow the Spanish government’s declaration of an emergency and the deployment of the army to break the air traffic controllers’ strike in early December and the Greek government’s mobilisation of troops against striking Greek truck drivers in August.
The police shootings in Bangladesh marked an escalation of the methods used against strikes by garment workers in July. Then, riot police wielded batons and opened fire with rubber bullets and tear gas. The crucial role in ending the strikes was played by the trade unions, which struck a sell-out deal with the government and employers. The minimum wage was to be lifted to about $US43 a month, still well below the poverty line and just over half what had been demanded.
The government used the breathing space to prepare for further confrontation, establishing “industrial police” to maintain “law and order” in the export processing zones (EPZs). When workers struck this month over the failure of companies to honour the pay deal, the police were mobilised to crush the protests. On December 12, police fired into protesting workers—this time with live rounds.
Behind this police crackdown is the global economic crisis that has fuelled competition in the international garment industry. Garments account for 80 percent of Bangladesh’s exports and last year the industry fetched $12 billion. In the first quarter of this year the revenue increased by 37 percent compared to same period last year, a measure of the mounting exploitation.
Some of the biggest retail and clothing names in the world—such as Tesco, Gap, H&M, Wal-Mart, Marks & Spencer, Asda, Zara, Carrefour, Levi Strauss and Tommy Hilfiger—source low-cost garments from Bangladesh. Confronted by rising workers’ struggles in China and elsewhere, they roam the globe looking for the cheapest labour platforms in order to maximise profits. TheFinancial Times noted in July that “garment companies and importers were looking for cheap labour destinations after China’s [labour] unrest.”
Bangladeshi employers are fearful that orders and profits could rapidly disappear if the country’s wage levels cease to be internationally competitive. Currently a clothing worker’s minimum average wage per hour in Bangladesh is just 21 US cents. The comparable rates for Cambodia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, India and China are 24, 35, 46, 52, 55 and 93 cents, respectively.
Workers, however, who have received no rise since 2006, simply cannot live on their present pay. The inflation rate has risen sharply in recent months and for basic food items has hit more than 10 percent. In addition, Bangladeshi workers are forced to work unpaid overtime and meet onerous quotas. Their over-crowded and unsafe conditions were highlighted by a fire last week in a 10-story garment factory in the Dhaka EPZ that killed at least 29 workers.
Prime Minister Sheik Hasina denounced the latest protests by garment workers as a “foreign conspiracy” and directed her ministers to “remain alert to possible conspiracies to create unrest in the nation’s top-earning sector”. Her comments are targeted in particular against any attempt by garment workers in Bangladesh to link up with their class brothers and sisters in other countries waging similar battles.
In Cambodia in September, the Hun Sen government responded to a strike by 200,000 garment workers by sending in military police to intimidate and attack workers. The strike ended after employers threatened to sack anyone who did not return to work. The industrial action was directed against a wage deal struck behind the backs of workers by the government, employers and some unions.
The struggles of workers in Asia fighting poverty level wages are intimately connected to the protests and strikes that have erupted in Europe against draconian austerity measures. Whether it is in Bangladesh, Cambodia and China or Spain, Greece and Britain, workers confront a common offensive by employers for an endless driving down of wages and living standards. The driving force is the worsening crisis of global capitalism.
The chief obstacle to any unified international resistance by the working class are the trade unions. In every country, the unions operate, not to defend even the most basic interests of workers, but to ensure the competitiveness of “their” employers in the international battle for profits. Just one day after the December 12 police killings, the garment unions in Bangladesh sat down with Labour Minister Monnujam Sufian and employer representatives to work out a mechanism for suppressing future struggles by workers. The minister proposed joint union-employer-government committees in every factory to “solve the problems” and the unions readily agreed.
Trade unionism by its very nature accepts the capitalist order and the framework of wage-labour exploitation. The globalisation of production over the past three decades, however, has completely undermined any ability to wage a campaign for any, even limited reforms within the framework of the nation state. In countries such as South Korea and South Africa, where illegal militant unions waged bitter struggles in the 1980s, the same unions are now central to propping up the country’s corporate and political establishment.
The latest repression against the struggles of workers is a warning to the working class in every country. Either workers begin to unite in an international battle to defend their living standards and basic democratic rights, or divided they will fall. Such a struggle will only take place in a rebellion against the existing treacherous leaderships in the working class. It requires the building of a revolutionary party on the basis of a socialist program to unify workers against their common class enemy—the profit system. That is the perspective advanced by the International Committee of the Fourth International and the World Socialist Web Site. (WSWS)

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Monday, 20 December 2010

Northern Nigeria: Background to Conflict

1/2; Media Releases

Nigeria’s far north is not the hot bed of Islamic extremists some in the West fear, but it needs reinforced community-level peacebuilding, a more subtle security response, and improved management of public resources lest lingering tensions lead to new violence.
Northern Nigeria: Background to Conflict, the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines the region’s conflict risks. Violence has flared up there periodically for more than 30 years. Mainly in the form of urban riots, it has seen Muslims pitted against Christians, confrontations between different Islamic sects, and rejectionist sects against the state. The relative calm that much of northern Nigeria had enjoyed for several years was broken by the emergence in 2009 of Boko Haram, a radical group that appears to have some links to al-Qaeda.
In the build-up to the 2011 national elections, the worst-case scenario is that local violence will polarise the rest of the country. This must be avoided through actions at the local, regional and national level.
“While some in the West panic at what they see as growing Islamic radicalism in the region, the roots of the problem are more complex and lie in Nigeria’s history and contemporary politics”, says Titi Ajayi, Crisis Group’s West Africa Fellow.
Many common factors fuel conflicts across Nigeria: in particular, the political manipulation of religion and ethnicity and disputes between supposed local groups and “settlers” over distribution of public resources. The failure of the state to assure public order, contribute to dispute settlement and implement post-conflict peacebuilding measures also plays a role, as does economic decline and unemployment. As elsewhere in the country, the far north – the twelve states that apply Sharia (Islamic law) – suffers from a potent mix of economic malaise and contentious, community-based distribution of public resources.
But there is also a specifically northern element. A thread of rejectionist thinking runs through northern Nigerian history, according to which collaboration with secular authorities is illegitimate. While calls for an “Islamic state” in Nigeria should not be taken too seriously, despite media hyperbole, they do demonstrate that many in the far north express political and social dissatisfaction through greater adherence to Islam and increasingly look to the religious canon for solutions to multiple problems in their lives.
On the positive side, much local conflict prevention and resolution does occur, and the region has historically shown much capacity for peaceful co-existence between its ethnic and religious communities. Generally speaking, for a vast region beset with social and economic problems, the absence of widespread conflict is as notable as the pockets of violence.
The starting point for addressing the conflicts must be a better understanding of the historical, cultural and other contexts in which they take place. The region has experienced recurrent violence, particularly since the early 1980s. These are the product of several complex and inter-locking factors, including a volatile mix of historical grievances, political manipulation and ethnic and religious rivalries.
“Northern Nigeria is little understood by those in the south, still less by the international community, where too often, it is viewed as part of bigger rivalries in a putative West-Islam divide”, says EJ Hogendoorn, Crisis Group’s Acting Africa Program Director. “Still, the overall situation needs to be taken seriously. If it were to deteriorate significantly, especially along Christian-Muslim lines, it could have grave repercussions for national cohesion in the build-up to national elections in 2011”.
Violence in northern Nigeria has flared up periodically over the last 30 years. Mainly in the form of urban riots, it has pitted Muslims against Christians and has seen confrontations between different Islamic sects. Although there have been some successes in conflict management in the last decade, the 2009 and 2010 troubles in Bauchi, Borno and Yobe states involving the radical Boko Haram sect show that violence still may flare up at any moment. If the situation were to deteriorate significantly, especially on Christian-Muslim lines, it could have serious repercussions for national cohesion in the build up to national elections in April 2011. To deal with the risks, community-level initiatives need to be reinforced, a more subtle security response should be formulated and the management of public resources must be improved. While some in the West panic at what they see as growing Islamic radicalism in the region, the roots of the problem are more complex and lie in Nigeria’s history and contemporary politics.
The far north, if taken to comprise the twelve states that reintroduced Sharia (Islamic law) for criminal cases at the beginning of the century, is home to 53 million people. The large majority are Muslim, but there is a substantial Christian minority, both indigenous to the area and the product of migration from the south of the country. The Sokoto Caliphate, formed in 1804-1808, is a reference point for many in the region. As West Africa’s most powerful pre-colonial state, it is a source of great pride. But for some, its defeat by the British in 1903 and subsequent dealings with colonial and post-colonial states mean the caliphate is tarnished with the corrupting influence of secular political power. The impact of colonial rule was paradoxical. While policies of indirect rule allowed traditional authorities, principally the Sultan of Sokoto, to continue to expand their power, that power was also circumscribed by the British.
In the first decades of independence, which were marked by frequent violent conflict between the regions for control of state resources, the north saw the military as a route to power and influence. But following the disastrous rule of northern General Sani Abacha (1993-1998), the return to democracy in 1999 was viewed as a chance for the north to seek political and moral renewal. This lead to the reintroduction of Sharia in twelve states between 1999 and 2002, although only two have applied it seriously. Sharia caused controversy over its compatibility with international human rights standards and the constitution and regarding the position of Christians in those states. It also exacerbated recurrent conflicts between Muslims and Christians. But it was supported by many Muslims, and some Christians, who had lost faith in secular law enforcement authorities, and it also stimulated much open and democratic debate over the rule of law. Tensions over the issue have declined in recent years.
Debates among Muslims in the region tend to divide those who respect the established religious and secular authorities and their two-century-old Sufi heritage from those who take a “reformist” view. The latter cover a very wide range of opinion, from Salafist-type anti-Sufism to Iranian-inspired Shiite movements, and combine anger at the establishment’s corruption with a promise of a more individualistic religious experience. Typically, some end up being co-opted by both religious and secular authorities, largely due to the latter’s control over public resources. But others maintain a hostile or rejectionist stance that in some isolated cases turns into violent rejection of public authority. As in the south, religion provides a sense of community and security and is increasingly public and political. In combination with more polarised communal politics, this has led to clashes over doctrine and political and spiritual authority.
Violent conflict, whether riots or fighting between insurrectional groups and the police, tends to occur at specific flashpoints. Examples are the cities of Kaduna and Zaria, whose populations are religiously and ethnically very mixed, and the very poor states of the far north east, where anti-establishment groups have emerged. Many factors fuelling these conflicts are common across Nigeria: in particular, the political manipulation of religion and ethnicity and disputes between supposed local groups and “settlers” over distribution of public resources. The failure of the state to assure public order, to contribute to dispute settlement and to implement post-conflict peacebuilding measures is also a factor. Economic decline and absence of employment opportunities, especially as inequality grows, likewise drives conflict. As elsewhere in Nigeria, the north suffers from a potent mix of economic malaise and contentious, community-based distribution of public resources.
But there is also a specifically northern element. A thread of rejectionist thinking runs through northern Nigerian history, according to which collaboration with secular authorities is illegitimate. While calls for an “Islamic state” in Nigeria should not be taken too seriously, despite media hyperbole, they do demonstrate that many in the far north express political and social dissatisfaction through greater adherence to Islam and increasingly look to the religious canon for solutions to multiple problems in their lives.
Much local-level conflict prevention and resolution does occur. For a vast region beset with social and economic problems, the absence of widespread conflict is as notable as the pockets of violence. Some state authorities have done good work on community relations, but the record is uneven. At the federal level, clumsy and heavy-handed security responses are likely to exacerbate conflicts in the future. More fundamentally, preventing and resolving conflict in the far north will require far better management of public resources, an end to their distribution according to ethnic identity and job-creating economic revival.
Northern Nigeria is little understood by those in the south, still less by the international community. Too often it is viewed as part of bigger rivalries in a putative West-Islam divide. All – from Iran to Christian evangelical preachers – need to be more careful of what they say and whom they support. Officials in the West need to put some of their fears about radical Islam into a much more Nigerian perspective. Reformist movements – highly diverse and fragmented – have contributed in many positive ways to debates over governance, corruption and rule of law. While some harbour real hostility to the West, for others criticising the U.S. is really a way of expressing frustration with Nigeria’s secular state and its multiple problems. (ICG)
Download the full report from here.

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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Wikileaks confirms the treachery of the People's Rulers

The recent wikileaks releases have sent shock waves around the world exposing the views of western diplomats regarding foreign governments and individuals. Causing a mixture of embarrassment and political incidents, the leaks have left the American government scrambling around the world to maintain damage control. In addition to America's humiliation, the leaks have given the world a better understanding of western views of other heads of state, as well as confirmation of the true nature of the Muslim rulers.

The leaked documents give candid accounts of meetings with many leaders, exposing their real concerns and views. A number of documents focus on the deep concern towards Iran, where many Arab nations repeatedly raised concerns over Iran. King Abdullah claimed Iran was meddling in ‘Arab matters' and called the state liars. Abu Dhabi's crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan also suggested that the US should send in ground forces if air strikes were not enough to "take out" Iranian nuclear targets. Egypt's intelligence chief general Omar Suleiman called Iran "a significant threat to Egypt....supporting jihad and spoiling peace," furthermore Hosni Mubarak told a US congressman, "Iran is always stirring trouble". These statements amongst many others actually encourage military action against the Ummah.

These accounts show the intimate relationship between the US and the Muslim rulers, where these leaders are raising their fears hoping the US will help them. The appreciation and care shown to the US is remarkable. In a discussion with the US, Saudi King Abdullah said, "We (the U.S. and Saudi Arabia) spilled blood together" in Kuwait and Iraq, the King continued, and Saudi Arabia valued this tremendously. Friendship can be a difficult issue that requires work, Abdullah said, but the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have done it for 70 years over three generations. "Our disagreements don't cut to the bone," he stated. Zardari showed similar appreciation for US help during the Pakistani elections stating, "We are here because of you."

However the most staggering example of this relationship was from Yemen's president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who assured the US that missile strikes conducted in his own country by the US in Yemen would be claimed as a Yemeni army assault, and he would "continue saying the bomb are ours, not yours." One of the leaked cables showed in one attack 41 local residents, including 14 women, 21 children and 14 other Muslims were killed. General Petraeus on the same issue but in another cable is recorded as saying that the attack had caused the deaths of "only" three "civilians".

Whilst the Muslim rulers continue their relationship of subservience to the West the US views the world only in terms of its national interests. As captured in the leaks Turkey has been used to negotiate with Iran regarding their nuclear ambitions and was even reprimanded by the US when they weren't dealing with Iran adequately. The cables show that US diplomats have grave doubts about Turkey's dependability, quoting one high-ranking government adviser as saying that Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu would use his Islamist influence on Erdogan, describing him as "exceptionally dangerous." Regardless of how much help Recep Erdogan has given the US over years with Iran, Israel, Iraq and Gaza, the AKP's commitment continues to be questioned.

A number of the leaked cables show pure condescension of the Muslim rulers. Chief of the Defence Staff Jock Stirrup stated that although Zardari has "made helpful political noises, he's clearly a numbskull.", furthermore Permanent Under-Secretary for Security Affairs Peter Ricketts characterized Zardari as having "not much sense of how to govern a country...I fear he talks and talks but not much happens." This is not the first time the US has backed a less than desirable leader as an ally since their objective is not to promote a leader who will bring his people progress but one who would be an active accomplice in their global plans.

The wikileaks cables have only come to confirm the widely held belief that our rulers are exceptionally inept in their role. The cables prove that in addition to merely being concerned about building palaces and holding on to power, they are also delusional, seeing their role in the US grand schemes as indispensible and privileged. The cables show the world that our leaders are quick to give help to the west in order to gain some crumbs, happy to sell their own people to achieve western aims.

The leaked cables show us that the US is only concerned with the pursuit of its interests in the world and an ally is seen merely as an aid to attain these interests. These leaders leave our Ummah vulnerable to the interests of the west, happy to accommodate them where the only vision is to please their colonial master.

To gain protection from the colonialist wolf and progress as an ummah it's time we had the vision for the true Islamic ruler as seen in Khaleefah's of the past who followed in the way of the Prophet Muhammed sal. (Islamic System)

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Closing China’s Network of Secret Jails

In September, Chinese state media reported that Beijing police had arrested the chairman and general manager of a private company accused of detaining people in “black jails”—secret, makeshift detention centers that Human Rights Watch helped to expose.  

Each year thousands of people who want to petition Beijing with complaints about local governance are prevented from doing so by local officials who arrest and hold them in black jails. Once detained, petitioners are subjected to abuses including physical and sexual violence, food and sleep deprivation, denial of medical care, and intimidation. The central government, rather than crack down on these facilities, had simply denied that they exist.  
Our researchers interviewed dozens of former detainees. We documented the proliferation of plainclothes thugs tasked with abducting petitioners from the streets of Beijing and provincial capitals and imprisoning them incommunicado in black jails.  
Two weeks after we released our findings at a press conference in Hong Kong, Liaowang, a Chinese language publication aimed at Communist Party bureaucrats and policy-makers, published an article echoing our findings on black jails. A short time later, the Chinese government ordered the 582 Beijing-based liaison offices of local and provincial authorities, which had often been used as black jails, to issue schedules for their eventual closure.  
Most recently, Chinese state media announced that the Beijing public security bureau launched an investigation into Anyuanding Security Technology Service, a private company alleged by Caijingmagazine, Southern Metropolis Daily, and the China Daily newspapers to staff and run black jail facilities in Beijing.  
This investigation means the Chinese government is finally addressing the urgent need to close the black jails we helped to expose. Human Rights Watch plans to re-release our report on black jails in Chinese in early 2011 and will continue to push for an end to arbitrary detention in secret jails. (HRW)
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Sunday, 12 December 2010

Arab rulers vs. Iran: Betrayal or bigotry?

Is a second Arab betrayal in the making? There appear to be many parallels between the Arab revolt against the Muslim Ottoman empire just before World War I and the present day Arab rulers' demand that the United States attack Islamic Iran.

Nearly one hundred years ago, Arab tribal leaders pledged allegiance to Britain and betrayed their Muslim Caliph, the Ottoman emperor. From this betrayal flowed the balkanization of Arabia and the Levant — and three decades later the creation of Israel. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait and other Gulf states emerged as independent but client states of the West. Levant was broken into Syria and Lebanon while Palestine became a British trusteeship.
The main actors of this Arab revolt, engineered by British spymaster T.E. Lawrence and Foreign Office advisor Gertrude Bell, were Abdul Aziz bin Abdur Rahman Al Saud, who was widely known as Ibn Saud or the founder of Saudi Arabia, and Hussein bin Ali, the then governor of Makkah.
Britain promised them that they would be made the kings of Arabia. Ibn Saud, realizing that there could not be two kings for one Arabia, fought Hussein and defeated him and declared himself the king of Saudi Arabia. Hussein found refuge with the British who rewarded him by making one of his sons the king of Jordan and the other son, the king of Iraq. Thus began the legacy of Arab rulers paying pooja to the imperialist West. It continues even today.
Nearly one hundred years after the first Arab betrayal, the lid over the second one was blown off by the recent WikiLeaks exposés. The Arab rulers seem to be ganging up against another Islamic power — Iran. What is more striking is that the defeat and destruction of Iran is exactly what Israel also wants. Does this mean that the Arab rulers are in cahoots with Israel? This is the question being asked by the Arab masses and the rest of the Muslim world.
The Arab rulers are not only soliciting a US attack on Iran, but they also want Lebanon's Hezbollah punished. According to US diplomatic cables posted on WikiLeaks, Saudi Arabia had suggested that Lebanon should be invaded by an Arab force backed by the United States and NATO to annihilate Hezbollah, a resistance movement, which restored Arab dignity by heroically withstanding Israel's superior fire power in the 2006 Lebanon war.
The Arab masses are furious. Instead of giving leadership to the Arab world and liberating the Palestinian land from Israel's occupation, Saudi Arabia had plans which would certainly have made the Zionists and their supporters in the United States happy. Won't Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say that in Saudi rulers, we have an ally?
There were no diplomatic cables on the WikiLeaks website to indicate that the Saudis had urged the Americans to be harsh on Israel or to put pressure on the Zionist state to work towards a Palestinian state.
Saudi Arabia certainly has the potential to rise as a great Arab-Islamic power capable of uniting the Arab world and liberating Palestine from Israel. It can assume for itself the role of the Caliphate — similar to those that existed during the early days of Islam — and give leadership to the rudderless Islamic world. But it won't. It has wealth, but its wealth goes to prop up the flagging US economy.
One classic example was the recent purchase by the Saudis of more than US$ 60 billion worth of arms, which the Saudis will never or hardly ever use. (See the graphic on this page for the total value of the US arms ordered by the Arab world.)
The kingdom won't use its wealth for research and development to churn out Saudi/Arab/Islamic scientists and engineers who will discover new frontiers in medicine, physics and chemistry or manufacture the equivalent of F-16 fighter jets, long-range missiles and nuclear weapons. It is not that the Saudis are incapable of conceptualizing such a grand vision, but for reasons best known to Saudi rulers, the kingdom does not want to have one. The kingdom appears to be content with busting up its money in buying goods from and awarding contracts to the very imperialist powers, especially the US, which sustain the Zionist occupation of Palestine.
The Saudis' opposition to Iran's nuclear programme may stem from their fear that a nuclear Iran will be in a stronger position to instigate the Arab masses to revolt against the Arab rulers. The Saudi rulers are not so naïve as not to know that their pro-Western policies have made the masses they govern or oppress very angry. Thus it is no wonder that the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said in one of the diplomatic cables posted on WikiLeaks that the Saudis — please note, not the rulers — were the biggest financiers of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Lakshar-e-Toiba. These rich and anti-American, pro-Palestinian Saudis, surely must be furious that their government is toeing Israel's line.
Some Saudi scholars, who suck up to the rulers, say Shiite Iran is a bigger threat to Sunni Islam and therefore it should be checked even if this means joining up with Israel.
But little do these Sheiks who sow bigotry realize that Iran is only filling the Islamic world's leadership vacuum that Saudi Arabia, in deference to the United States, is refusing to fill. (By; Ameen Izzadeen)

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Friday, 10 December 2010

Ugly face of China; Jailed Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo Awarded Nobel Peace Prize



More Readings; here


Uighur Muslims (China Xingjian's) Uprisings What China Doesn’t Want Others to Know

Violence erupted between the native Muslims and the   Hans Chinese migrant settlers on Sunday July 5 in the Western Xingjian’s predominantly Muslim region of Uighur where the people’s struggle for political and religious freedom has been suppressed for long by the Chinese authorities.

Within five days 156 people, mostly Uighur Muslims were killed in the city of Urumqi  where the authorities ordered the closure of mosques for prayers last Friday. Defying the order some mosques opened their doors after worshippers   gathered.

In view of the seriousness of the situation Chinese President Hu Jintao left the G8 summit in Italy last week to deal with the crisis which China accuses US  based Uighur leader   Rebiya Kadeer of  being behind .

China’s vast and strategically important Xinjiang region, once called Eastern Turkistan, has been the home for ethnically Turkic Uihgur Muslims who speak a language akin to Turkish. Uihgurs, who   ruled the Silk Road cities, have lived in the region for more than four millennia and played an important role in the cultural and mercantile exchanges between the East and West.

Uighur has been an integral part of the history of Central Asia for centuries.  In 1759 the Manchur rulers, invaded and incorporated Uighur into China and named it as Xingjian Uighur Autonomous Region which the Uighur Muslims resented from the very inception.

Xinjian, rich in mineral resources, including 38 percent of   coal reserves and 25 percent of the petroleum and natural gas reserves, is China’s largest province accounting for 16 percent of the landmass. Though home to only 1.6 percent of the population, this region has tremendous strategic significance for China, which conducts nuclear tests at the Lop Nor range. As a policy, both former Soviet Union and China always used Muslim populated areas for their nuclear tests despite the fallout, resulting in the wide-scale contamination of water sources and land causing large number of cancer cases, congenital birth defects and numerous other related diseases among the Uihgur population.

Despite the mineral wealth,   more than ninety percent of local Muslims live below   poverty line .Their pleas to improve their conditions fell on deaf ears of Beijing, forcing Uighurs to resort to armed struggle for independence soon after the Red Army occupied the area in 1949. However, Chairman Mao Tse-Tung crushed the Muslim freedom struggle and designed an aggressive population transfer policy under which Hans Chinese were brought in from far away places and settled in the midst of Muslims in Uighur.

As a result, there has been a rapid growth of the Han Chinese community in Xingjian - from an original six percent in 1949, to forty percent in 1978 turning the Uighurs into second-class. Beijing’s policy of ethnic flooding is similar to what was employed in Tibet and in most cities, the ratio between the Uighur and Han populations has gone from being 9:1 to 1:9. China gives preference in employment and the best jobs to ethnic Han Chinese migrants  benefited most by the money China pours into the province for investment.   Han enterprises also exercise a monopoly on most of the area’s scarce resources. 

Inevitably, Muslims resisted resulting in the growing animosity   between the two communities. A group of Han children gathered near a statue of Chinese revolutionary Wang Zhen was once asked why he was considered a hero. The answer: “because he killed many Uihgurs” from a ten year old is perhaps somewhat indicative of the feelings of the Han colonialists toward the indigenous Uighurs.

This growing rift   took a new turn with the emergence of independent Central Asian Republics across the border in the aftermath of the dissolution of the former Soviet Union.  Encouraged by the changes in the Central Asian neighbours, Uighur Muslims too started intensifying their demand for political and religious rights.  The Chinese authorities responded by subjecting Uighur Muslims to unbelievable oppression and torture besides executing a number of people linked to Muslim resistance.

The result was violent opposition to Chinese rule and there were frequent   reports of arrests, trial and execution of “ethnic splittists” as the Chinese   call them. Even peaceful protests have been met with excessive force.  Chinese leaders adopted ‘iron fist’ policy    and even signed agreements with Central Asian countries to gain their cooperation to crush the Muslim separatist struggle. 

According to Germany-based Eastern Turkistan Information Centre, Beijing tried to exploit the United States led war on terrorism in the aftermath of the September 11 events in New York    by     insisting that Muslim freedom fighters in Xingjian  as terrorists.  Beijing arrests Uihgur Muslims in large numbers, concludes trials within days, often resulting in death sentence executed on the same day.  The Uighurs are now “afraid to talk, not just to foreigners, but even to each other”.

Nevertheless, rejecting a direct link between its own so called anti-terrorism campaign and the crackdown in Xingjian,   the United States stated that it does not consider Uighur separatists to be terrorists. 

Religious Restrictions.
Islam, inextricably linked to their culture and identity, came to the region in 934 AD during the reign of the Karakhanid kings and Kashgar became one of the major centres of Islam.  According to statistics, there have been over 23,700 mosques in the region. However, in Beijing’s resolve to destroy this very identity, the Chinese government has placed growing restrictions on the practice of Islam in the region.

This repressive policy began during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, which was a period of terrible suffering for the Uihgurs as religion was identified as a “bourgeois” conception and bore the brunt of the Red Army’s wrath. A Human Rights Watch report tells of how the Uihgurs were forced to breed pigs and mosques were shut down and occasionally used as pork warehouses to add terrible insult to devastating injury.

According to official sources, around 8,000 Imams   indoctrinated in communism, deliver Friday sermons.   Religious schools have been banned, many mosques closed and the building of new mosques restricted.  The police raid peaceful but ‘unauthorised’ religious gatherings and those found to be leading the gatherings have been sentenced to long-term imprisonment. Government employees risk being fired if they go to mosques.
 Reiterating this Amnesty International (AI) said, “fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan was banned in government offices, schools and hospitals. Students face expulsion if they refused to break the fast. Mosques have been closed down because they were located near schools and deemed a “bad influence” on young people. The crackdown was expanded to include other sectors of society”. 

Uighur women working in government offices too were told not to wear headscarves during work as it was regarded “feudalistic”. Typical headscarves were permitted in school, but those tied in a religious way, showing only the face, are not acceptable. Some Muslim women were forbidden from wearing Islamic head covers.

 Preaching or teaching of Islam outside government control is considered subversive and Amnesty said that, since the mid-1990s, several hundred Uighurs accused of such activities have been executed while thousands more have been detained, imprisoned and tortured.  Uighur children have not been taught their history and traditions in schools. Places and monuments representing the Uighur heritage have been destroyed and in most of the big cities there is nothing left to indicate any presence of the Uighur culture.

Cultural Crusade
Viewing traditional Uighur Muslim lifestyles as a major element of instability, the Chinese authorities stepped up their control of Muslim religious and folk customs. A government circular called on officials to step up surveillance on weddings and funerals as well as circumcision ceremonies, house-moving rituals and the wearing of earrings. Uighur government and party officials have been told to seek permission before attending any such festivals or ceremonies and report back to the government upon the completion of their activities.   The regulations applied only to Uighur Muslims and not to the whole of the Xingjian Province.

Explaining their plight, a prominent Uighur leader who wanted his fighters to think of themselves as the wolves of Turkic legend fighting the Chinese dragon, once said, “The Chinese have likened the Uighurs to pandas - a species on the edge of extinction”.

Though denied repeatedly, Amnesty has recorded hundreds of executions and extra-judicial killings of Uighurs. Applying incredible torture methods to crush their freedom struggle, China   commonly uses painful and brutal torture methods never used before. According to state media, that the Chinese government has executed hundreds of Uighur Muslim freedom fighters. Among them was Alerkin Abula, who founded, in 1993, the East Turkistan Islamic Party of Allah, fighting for freedom in the Xingjian province.

The former United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Mary Robinson, warned Chinese leaders during a visit to Beijing that they should not use the war on terror as an excuse for widespread repression in Xingjian.  

This is a conflict China has been anxious to hide from its people, foreign governments, overseas investors and tourists. Beijing has effectively pre-empted often-weak Muslim countries, which rely on China for political, economic and military assistance, from speaking out against its repression of Muslims in Xingjian. Diplomats are kept under close watch and foreign journalists are allowed to visit only in the company of escorts.
 Under the circumstances, China’s notoriously repressive birth control policies, including, but not limited, to forced abortions  would seem to suggest that Xingjian is one of the worst places in the world to be a Muslim right now. This is especially so in the context of the ongoing global war on Islam and the fast growing relations between China and Israel known for its conspiracies against Islam and Muslims.

Meanwhile Muslim countries have done nothing to bring pressure or persuade China to   offer Uighur Muslims their legitimate rights and end their long-sufferings.   The toothless   Organisation of Islamic Conference too has forgotten the Xingjian Muslims and failed even to send a delegation to Beijing to at least draw attention to their plight.

For far too long the world has forgotten, or ignored, the plight of Uihgur Muslims who are also not exceptionally popular in the West as, unlike the Buddhists of Tibet who have Dalai Lama, they have no charismatic leader in exile or celebrity converts in Hollywood to rally to their cause.
It was under these circumstances that violence broke out when Uighur came following the killing of two Uighur Muslims in clashes with Han Chinese in   a factory   last week. (By: Latheef Farook-Sri Lanka)

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