The recent slaying of a Coptic Christian family in New Jersey is being linked by many (on somewhat specious evidence) to Islamic extremists (typical headline: "Jihad in Jersey City"). An attempt by Newsday to shed some historical light on Coptic-Muslim tensions gets an E for Effort, but definitely not an A for Accuracy, prompting me to write the following letter (published in the Jan. 26 edition):
More violence in Pakistan's semi-autonomous Northwest Tribal Areas. This time rival clans in a land dispute in Miranshah, North Waziristan, decided to settle scores with live fire in the middle of a crowded market, leaving seven dead. (Bahrain's Gulf Daily News, Jan. 27)
I generally like Hobsbawm, but there has always been a contradiction in his
works between his enthusiasm for the ultra-democratic movements of the
English Civil War (Diggers, Levellers, etc.) and his allegiance to the
British Marxist soft-on-Russia crowd. This piece reflects that ambivalence,
and CAN be interpreted as a defense of the nasty dictatorships the US has
used as an excuse to go to war (Saddam, Milosevic, etc.). Better to point
out that Bush's purported championing of "democracy"--as he erodes voting
rights, suspends habeas corpus, unleashes sweeping police powers--is an
Orwellian abuse of the English language. (But then those British Marxist
types never did like Orwell.)
America's own homegrown Mickey Maoists, the Revolutionary Communist Party, have found their latest cause celebre in the Maoist insurgency in Nepal (see their special report). Meanwhile, a new Amnesty International report takes both the guerillas and government forces to task for killings, torture and rape of non-combatants. The report notes that the Tharu and Magar ethnic minorities have been especially targeted for government reprisals. Currently, India and the US are the two biggest military aid providers to Nepal. While the US Congress has passed a law making military aid to Nepal dependent on the army cooperating with the National Human Rights Commission, India is yet to take any such step. Clashes continued last week, leaving several dead in the eastern Ilam district, BBC reports. The war has claimed 10,000 lives since it began in 1995.
It has hardly made international headlines, but there has been a wave of bombings at Spanish resorts by ETA in recent months--not claiming any lives, but causing several injuries and wreaking some property damage. Now the Basque regional government is pushing an autonomy plan that stops just barely short of full independence in a bid to appease the separatists. Catalonia, following the Pais Vasco's lead, is also pressing for near-independence. In reaction, the Franco-nostalgists are coming out of the woodwork...
Baluchi guerillas shut down Pakistan's top gas field with rocket attacks on the pipeline. Why is nobody paying attention?
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Supplies from Pakistan's main gas field have been fully restored, officials said on Saturday 11 days after a bloody attack by militant tribesmen seeking greater autonomy forced the field to be shut down.
If it hits the fan in Pakistan, Bush's victory in neighboring Afghanistan could be a Pyrric one... From AP:
QUETTA, Pakistan - Three rockets fired by unidentified assailants
landed in a residential area of this deeply conservative southwestern
Pakistani city, but no one was injured, police said Saturday.
Nobody's paying much attention, but Pakistan is on the brink of civil war. Taliban-types have taken power in much of the Northwest Tribal Areas along the Afghan border, while tribespeople in Baluchistan--also along the Afghan border, to the southwest--have launched an insurgency and apparently want to secede. US-Pakistani attempts to hunt down Osama and al-Qaeda elements believed to be hiding in the border region have only inflamed the situation. Now comes a claim that Iran is aiding the Baluch insurgency. Seems unlikely, given the depth of the Shi'ite-Sunni divide (a source of much bloodshed in Pakistan), but it could sure make convenient propaganda for Bush's new campaign against Iran...