Greater Middle East
Helicopter-borne Israeli commandos raided a supposed Hezbollah stronhold in the Bekaa Valley Aug. 20 in what Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora called a "naked violation" of the UN-backed truce. Three Hezbollah guerrillas were reportedly killed in a dawn firefight with the Israeli commandos. The Israeli army said it had suffered one dead and two wounded. Israel said the operation aimed to disrupt weapons supplies to Hezbollah from Syria and Iran. Both countries deny arming the group. (Taipei Times, Aug. 20)
Irshad Manji, the notorious "Muslim Refusenik" who supposedly advocates a principled, pluralist and secular Islam, has an op-ed in the Aug. 16 New York Times—where she once again betrays her disturbing flirtation with the very imperialism that fuels the fundamentalist backlash. The maddening thing about her is that she makes some vital points—only to blow her own credibility with obvious double standards. She is correct to call out the silence of (most) Islamic leaders on the Darfur genocide and the mutual Sunni-Shia carnage in Pakistan. But then she blows it by repeating the Dick Cheney line that terrorist attacks cannot be motivated by "foreign policy grievances" because the US hadn't invaded Iraq when 9-11 happened. How can she say this with a straight face while accusing others of "myopia"? There were "foreign policy grievances" galore in September 2001. The two al-Qaeda communiques in the immediate aftermath of the attacks (Oct. 7, 2001, Oct. 9, 2001) both invoked the US troop presence in Saudi Arabia, the Iraq sanctions and Washington's support of Israel. Just because the US has made the situation much worse in the intervening years doesn't mean that there were no "foreign policy grievances" behind 9-11! And however criminal al-Qaeda's tactics and however totalitarian its ideology, these grievances are legitimate—a reality we ignore to our own peril. Indeed, it smells like Manji fails to invoke the Sunni-Shia carnage in Iraq (which is even worse than in Pakistan), because there it is so evidently the fruit of Bush's blundering military adventure...
Lebanese scholar Gilbert Achcar writes via e-mail: "Many of you have certainly seen an interview allegedly done with [Hezbollah leader] Hassan Nasrallah by a Turkish radical left newpsaper... I have enquired about it, and a source in Beirut in close touch with Hezbollah has confirmed to me that it is a forgery." However, Counterpunch has seen fit to keep the evident forgery on its website, despite growing questions about its authenticity (albeit, with a note at the end acknowledging the controversy). The pseudo-interview is interesting because of what it reveals about the willful illusions the radical left cultivates about radical Islam. Here it is:
In Istanbul, a writer awaits her day in court
Bestselling novelist Elif Shafak is the latest writer to face trial for "insulting Turkishness". She tells Richard Lea about her work, the charges that have been brought against her, and how the Turkish language has become a battleground.
Note, of course, that her work was banned. From Middle East Times, July 31:
ANKARA -- Duygu Asena, a renowned Turkish journalist and writer who devoted much of her work to promoting women's rights, has died at the age of 60 after battling a brain tumor for the past two years, the Anatolia news agency reported.
The first one we've all heard about. From DPA, July 30:
Muslim charged in Jewsh center shooting
A Muslim man who allegedly killed a woman and wounded five others inside a Jewish community centre in Seattle, Washington, gained entry by holding a teenaged girl at gunpoint, police said Saturday.
From Lebanon's Daily Star, July 19:
Latest targets of air blitz: milk and medicine
BEIRUT: Israel switched gears in its military campaign against Lebanon Monday and Tuesday, launching a series of debilitating air strikes against privately owned factories throughout the country and dealing a devastating blow to an economy already paralyzed by a week of hits on residential areas and crucial infrastructure.
It is heartening that in this paranoid age even the Coptic Christians of Egypt see US-backed conspiracies in the challenges which are emerging to their own orthodoxy. As we recently noted, neocon groups like the Henry Jackson Society have been seeking to exploit the Copts, who face persecution from the Muslim majority, as ideological cannon fodder in their propaganda war against Islamic extremism and the Islamic nations generally. The suspicions expressed here (note highlighted text below) would suggest they have a long way to go. Also interesting that the orthodox Copts' complaint of US meddling mirrors that of their Islamic fundamentalist oppressors: the yankees are backing modernizers who are eroding core tenets of the faith. First, this short clip from Egypt's Middle East Times, July 12: