Greater Middle East
OK, here's the big-ticket question. Is Lebanon a mere pawn in an Iran-Israel proxy war? Sound off, readers. Ori Nir writes for The Forward, July 14:
Israel Seeks To Eliminate Iran's Hezbollah Option
WASHINGTON — In addition to securing the release of its captured soldiers and stopping the ongoing wave of missile attacks, a major goal of Israel's current operation is to strengthen its hand in dealing with Iran.
Text of report by Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya TV on 14 July, as translated by BBC Monitoring:
At a time when the Jordanian monarch, King Abdallah II, left for Cairo to meet Egyptian President Husni Mubarak in an effort to end the current military escalation, the Jordanian cities witnessed mass demonstrations in solidarity with the Lebanese people and in protest against the Israeli aggression.
In a decision dated April 7 and released on April 11, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) ruled that Southern California Muslim community leader Abdel-Jabbar Hamdan can be removed to Jordan, partially reversing a Feb. 12, 2005 ruling by immigration judge D.D. Sitgraves that Hamdan might be tortured there. The BIA upheld Sitgraves' denial of asylum but found that the torture claim was based on insufficient evidence. Hamdan's lawyers will take the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals; meanwhile, the ACLU is pursuing a habeas lawsuit to release him from detention. Hamdan, who is Palestinian, has been living in the US for over 25 years and has six US-born children. He was arrested July 27, 2004, on an immigration violation; authorities have never charged him with a crime, but claim he supported terrorism in his paid job as a fundraiser for the Texas-based Holy Land Foundation (Los Angeles Times, April 12)
More protests in Cairo, where last week when 255 people were arrested. Today, thousands of riot police and hundreds of plainclothes officers were deployed in streets leading to the courthouse in downtown Cairo as they attempted to prevent opposition activists from gathering. At issue are arrests and prosecution of opposition activists, and demands for an independent judiciary. Does the below story from the Washington Post (May 18) indicate that arrested opposition figure Ayman Nour is the neocons' man—as opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood?
From Ya Libnan, May 15:
Beirut & Damascus — Prominent writer and democracy campaigner Michel Kilo was detained after calling for better relations between Syria and Lebanon.
From the Egyptian NGO, Civil Monitors for Human Rights, in Cairo, May 11:
Egyptian Authorities Continue Crackdown on Opposition Today
Continuing in their policy of oppression, the Egyptian authorities are trying to prevent protests which the Egyptian opposition is organizing to support the judges Hisham Bistowissi and Mahmoud Mekki and to condemn the oppressive policies of the Egyptian government.
Note that this Reuters report on the Sinai bombings offhandedly mentions more sweeps of the peninsula's Bedouin inhabitants. The Bedouin, their lands divided by Egypt and Israel, have been kicked around plenty on both sides of the border. The situation in the Sinai's desert interior is approaching a small counterinsurgency war against the Bedouin--which will only have the effect of strengthening whatever ties exist to al-Qaeda in their communities. But Sinai only enters the headlines when a tourist resort gets blown up.
DAHAB, Egypt - Egyptian police detained at least 10 people, including three computer engineers, on Tuesday in connection with a triple bombing in the Sinai resort of Dahab that killed at least 18 people and wounded scores.
As in recent similar cases in Bangkok and Nazareth, the attacks on religious targets in Alexandria are being dismissed as the work of a "mentally disturbed" loner. Could be (although note that in this case there were three near-simultaneous attacks). But (as we argued before) even the choice of targets by the proverbial lone nut reflects a general zeitgeist—and the response to the attacks is assuredly political. "Fanatics"? Certainly. But why are there so many fanatics in the world these days? (They are, of course, asking the same question in Delhi right now.) From AP, April 15: