The Islamic Community

The social aspect of Islam is one of its most important aspects. Islam teaches us the importance of an Islamic community and how to achieve an Islamic community. Some of the verses of the Quran in this regard will be listed:

“Do not be like those who became divided [into sects] and differed after manifest signs had come to them.”[1] Here we are being warned to remain unified and not divide ourselves up into sects or any other divisions. Allah is commanding us to have a unified community.

”Indeed those who split up their religion and become sects, you will not have anything to do with them. Their matter rests only with God.”[2] Again, Allah is commanding us to leave sectarianism and remain unified – to safeguard our unified community.

“The faithful are indeed brothers. Therefore make peace between your brothers and be wary of God, so that you may receive [His] mercy.”[3] Here, the issue of brotherhood is raised, which is the main topic of this paper, and the issue of making peace between Muslims in dispute. This is pointing to a unified community once more.

“And obey God and His Apostle, and do not dispute, or you will lose heart and your power will be gone.”[4] Here, Allah is mentioning the result of dispute and disunity – a loss of power and strength, which is once more pointing to the need of unity.

“There has to be a nation among you summoning to the good, bidding what is right, and forbidding what is wrong. It is they who are the felicitous.” Here, Allah is referring to a nation, a community, that is doing what they are supposed to do – enjoin the good and forbid the evil. The result of this is that they will become felicitous, so one has to form a community and make that community do the right things to become felicitous.

What does this all mean? It means that we must form unified communities. How do we do that? One of the most basic methods of doing this is caring for our Muslim brothers. It is narrated that the Prophet (s) said: “One who starts his day without caring (about) the affairs of Muslims is not a Muslim.”[5]

One of the verses that was quoted at the beginning of this paper was the 10th verse of the 49th chapter stating that the faithful are indeed brothers. Brotherhood is a very important concept in Islam and is one of the foundations of the Islamic community to which Allah has given great importance. This is clearly understood by those who have experienced real brotherhood.

Brotherhood is something that has been encouraged and explained by the infallible imams. For instance, it has been narrated from Imam Sadiq (a): “Seek nearness to Almighty Allah through helping your (Muslim) brother.”[6]

There will even by rewards for such actions in this world as has been narrated from Imam Ali (a): “Helping the brothers-in-Allah increases sustenance.”[7]

I will conclude this paper by mentioning some of the aspects of an Islamic friendship between two brothers in faith. The Imams have made many statements about what it means to be a friend and how we should treat other believers. I will only mention a few of them.

First, it has been narrated from Imam Rida (a): “It is the duty of a believer towards another believer to have his love in his heart, to assist him with his wealth, and to stand by his side against one who does injustice to him.”[8] In this tradition we are ordered to love other believers, to aid them with our wealth, and to stand by there side when injustice befalls them. Do we actually do this? When one of our brothers hits a financial low do the members of our community run to give him financial aid? When the police wrongfully accuse and arrest one of our brothers for terrorism do we stand by his side or do we distance ourselves from him in hopes that a similar situation would not befall us?

There are two more traditions that I want to narrate from the books Risalah al-Haquq which is attributed to Imam Ali bin al-Hussayn (a):

“The right of the companion (sahib) is that you act as his companion with bounty and in fairness. You honor him as he honors you and you do not let him be the first to act with generosity. If he is the first, you repay him. You wish for him as he wishes for you and you restrain him from any act of disobedience he might attempt. Be a mercy for him, not a chastisement. And there is no strength save in God.” This tradition alludes to the famous saying: want for your brother what you would want for yourself. If one applies this saying in their friendships they will be the best friend that anyone could have.

Another tradition from this risalah is in regards to people with whom one is sitting. The reason I am mentioning this is because the manners that are encouraged for one to have with a person who sits next to him are definitely encouraged for one to have with a friend as well. “The right of your sitting companion (jalis) is that you treat him mildly, show fairness toward him while vying with him in discourse, and do not stand up from sitting with him without his permission. But it is permissible for him who sits with you to leave without asking your permission. You should forget his slips and remember his good qualities, and you should say nothing about him but good.” The end part of this tradition is interesting to me. We should forget about whatever mistakes a friend of ours makes, and we should only remember his good qualities. This would both protect and improve our friendship.

Therefore, Allah has shown us the importance of a unified community in the Quran. One of the foundations of this unified community is a brotherhood amongst the believers which has also been encouraged by the infallible leaders of Islam as well as Allah in the Quran. The meaning of Islamic brotherhood is loving our brothers, aiding them financially, standing by their side when they are being dealt an unjust blow, wanting for them what we want for ourselves, and overlooking their mistakes while remembering their good qualities.

Islam Times


[1] Quran, 3:105

[2] Quran, 6:159

[3] Quran, 49:10

[4] Quran, 8:46

[5] al-Kafi, v.2, p.162 (printed by Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyah)

[6] Khisal by Shaykh Saduq, v.1, p.8 (printed by Intisharat Jami’ah Mudarasin, Qom, 1403)

[7] Ibid, v.1, p.125

[8] Bihar al-Anwar, v.74, p.233-234

CIA’s role in smuggling heroin throughout the world

Afghanistan fulfills 90 percent of the world’s need for heroin which has close to 200 billion dollars of profit. Since America’s attack on this country, on the 7th of October, 2001, drug production has risen by 33 percent. America has spent over 177 billion dollars while being in this country for 7 years while having the most advanced military on the planet.

With all of the sources that America has at its disposal, the level of heroin production is at unprecedented levels.

The general feeling is that this is not a coincidence. If one remembers, when the CIA started operating in the Vietnam War, the area became known as the golden triangle because of its heroin production. After the war ended in 1975, in 1979 Afghanistan was being looked into.

It is not hard to imagine that the CIA has something to do with the heroin production in Afghanistan and then smuggling it all over the world. There is a lot of money in such an operation and they have a history of such actions. Also, if the American army wanted to find out where heroin was being produced and then shut down the plants they could without much difficulty – but they don’t. Their non-action is louder than words.

Islam Times

Imad Mughniyah is a pillar that will not be forgotten

Imad Mughniyah

Imad Mughniyah

Martyr Imad Mughniyah, famously known as Hajj Ridwan, was born in Tyre in the year 1962.

Mughniyah’s family included: his father, mother, and two brothers (Jihad and Fu’ad) who would later become martyrs. After some time he left Tyre to head further south. He went to elementary and high school in the south. After completing high school he went to Beirut attending the American University (AUB).

Mughniyah, at the beginning of the 80s, joined the ’17 Force’ which was a military group fighting for Palestinian freedom. This group protected such people as Abu Ammar, Abu Jihad, and Abu Dayad. From that time he played an important role in transferring weapons from the Palestinian group to Lebanese resistance forces, Hizbollah and Amal. But, during the continuation of the Lebanese occupation by the Zionist regime in 1982, the groups fighting for Palestinian freedom were forced to leave Lebanon.

After the Palestinian soldiers left, Imad Mughniyah joined forces with Amal which was established by Imam Musa Sadr and Shahid Mustafa Chamran. But, Mughniyah joined forces with the new group, Hizbollah, when Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah left Amal for Hizbollah.

Mughniyah, after successfully completing a few missions, was given the post of the commander of Hizbollah’s bodyguard unit. Then he was chosen as the head of Hizbollah’s special mission group.

Imad Mughniyah, who was not famous in the media, was known as the shadow in the Islamic resistance. Many people considered him the brain of Hizbollah. He performed the most operations against the Zionist regime in the whole world. He was martyred one year ago in Damascus as a result of a car bomb.

The Zionist regime recognized his car 15 years ago in Dahiyah, a suburb of Beirut, and then attacked it. But, he was not in his car – but his brother was martyred at this time. This occurred after the fact that the Zionist regime offered a 5 million dollar reward on his head. Mughniyah was one of the commanders in the 33-Day-War who played an effective role.

Israel quickly claimed to welcome this act of terrorism after it was completed, but saying that it had nothing to do with it.

Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah emphasized at his funeral: “The blood of Imad Mughniyah will erase the Zionist regime from the world.”

He said: “Mughniyah left tens of thousands of soldiers aspiring for martyrdom behind him.”

Nasrallah said about the Zionist regime: “If you want to fight like this, we are prepared to fight you internationally.”

Islam Times

‘Resistance Has Right to Possess and Use Anti-Aircraft Weapons’

Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah

Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah declared on Monday that the Islamic Resistance has the full right to possess all kinds of weaponry, including anti-aircraft weapons, emphasizing that the Resistance has the courage to use such weapons. His eminence renewed his pledge to retaliate the assassination of Islamic Resistance top commander Imad Moghniyyeh (Hajj Redwan), noting that the Resistance’s great martyr has scared the Israelis following his assassination more than ever.

Sayyed Nasrallah was speaking through a large screen during a ceremony organized by Hezbollah in the Sayyed al-Shouhadaa complex at the southern suburb of Beirut to mark the day of “loyalty to martyrs” and remember the sacrifices made by the Resistance martyrs and heroes, mainly the Islamic Resistance “martyrs’ Sheikh” Ragheb Harb, the “martyrs’ Sayyed” Abbas Moussaoui and Imad Moghniyyeh (Hajj Redwan).

Sayyed Nasrallah started his speech by recognizing and honoring the sacrifices paid by the Resistance’s martyrs and heroes for the interest of Lebanon, the whole Lebanon. “The blood of the Martyrs has returned the citizens of Marjayoun, Hasbaya, Shebaa and Bint Jbeil to their lands and homes without differentiating between those who follow the loyalty or the opposition, and with all the pride and dignity,” his eminence recalled, noting that “it’s therefore our duty to appreciate those martyrs and highly value their sacrifices.”

SAYYED NASRALLAH: SETTLEMENT OPTION IS FIASCO
Sayyed Nasrallah then tackled the relation with the Zionist enemy, noting that Lebanon was split over major political choices. “There are three options in this regard. The first one isn’t actually a choice since it stimulates approving the enemy’s existence and thus, cooperating with the enemy,” his eminence said, noting at the same time that this option couldn’t be a “popular” one in Lebanon and the Arab world. “However, there are spies,” his eminence said, adding that there are Israeli agents among Arabs, Lebanese and Palestinians.

“The second option was to conclude a settlement with the enemy,” the Resistance leader pointed out. “It means that you offer the enemy some concessions in order to get some of the extorted legal rights,” his eminence explained. “However, this choice proved its failure and fiasco.”

While pointing that “the more concessions the Arabs give, the more arrogant Israel becomes,” Sayyed Nasrallah noted that the third option rejects settlement with the enemy. “It is the resistance option,” his eminence emphasized. “Why do you want to sacrifice the Resistance for free?” Sayyed Nasrallah asked those who reject this option. “As long as the Arabs grant Israel more concessions, then the enemy will become even fiercer and will not honor its past commitments,” Sayyed Nasrallah noted.

SAYYED NASRALLAH: ALL ISRAELI LEADERS WERE DEFEATED IN LEBANON
“The Kuwait summit clearly indicates that the Arab peace initiative will not survive any longer,” Hezbollah Secretary General said. “Yet, before this summit, the Israeli answer to the Arab sticking to the Arab initiative was more extremism. The answer also came out during the Israeli elections.” Sayyed Nasrallah concluded that compromise with the enemy means conceding territories, the Quds, our security, and water in return for some of our seized lands, some prisoners and a small numbers of refugees.

The Resistance leader said that the right-wing victory in the Israeli elections correctly reflects its image. However, his eminence emphasized that there was no difference between Labor, Likud, and Kadima regarding their attitudes towards Palestinians and Arabs, stressing that all Zionist parties were the same.

However, Sayyed Nasrallah called on everyone not to worry a lot due to the results of the Israeli elections. “All the Israeli leaders who threaten us were defeated in Lebanon,” his eminence recalled, noting that there was no difference between the Israeli parties. “However, Israel is not as mighty as it used to be and the resistance is not as weak as it used to be,” the Resistance leader emphasized. Sayyed Nasrallah also pointed out that, among the Israeli leaders who took part in the recent elections, Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman is “the only one who has yet to lose in Lebanon.”

Recalling the Israeli 22-day offensive against the Palestinian people in the Gaza strip, Sayyed Nasrallah noted that the main lesson learned from the Gaza war was that the Israeli army is not capable of winning a battle. The Israelis did not try to storm residential areas in the Gaza strip because they were “scared of facing the resistance,” his eminence emphasized.

Sayyed Nasrallah addressed the Israeli upcoming government warning against any attempt to “invade” Lebanon once again. “The students of Hajj Redwan, Sayyed Abbas Moussawi and Sheikh Ragheb Harb will destroy the Israeli Army tanks in case it tried to invade any part of Lebanon,” his eminence vowed.

SAYYED NASRALLAH: WE HAVE RIGHT TO POSSESS ANTI-AIRCRAFT WEAPONS AND USE THEM
Meanwhile, Hezbollah Secretary General refused to admit or deny what is said about the Resistance’s acquiring of arms. “Of course, I do not admit nor deny what is said about the Resistance’s acquiring of defense air weapons,” the Resistance leader said.

“Every few days there is an Israeli media report that the resistance has obtained advanced air-defense weapons, of course I don’t deny or confirm this,” Sayyed Nasrallah said. “What I want to confirm today is that we have every right to obtain any weapon, including air-defense weapons, and we have every right to use this weapon,” he said.

“We have the right to acquire any kind of weaponry, including the anti-aircraft weapons, and we have the right to use it,” Sayyed Nasrallah declared. “It is our right to possess any weapons, including Air Defense, to defend our land,” his eminence explained.

Sayyed Nasrallah noted that obtaining such a system would tip the balance in any conflict with Israel because the Zionist entity relies heavily on air supremacy in its military planning.

SAYYED NASRALLAH: ISRAELIS SCARED OF HAJJ REDWAN MORE THAN EVER
Meanwhile, Hezbollah Secretary General renewed his pledge to retaliate the assassination of Islamic Resistance top commander Imad Moghniyyeh (Hajj Redwan). However, Sayyed Nasrallah noted that the Resistance’s great martyr has scared the Israelis following his assassination more than ever.

“Imad Moghniyyeh will continue to hunt the Israelis wherever they go, day and night,” Sayyed Nasrallah vowed. His eminence stressed that he was not concerned with clarifying things concerning the revenge. “Some of those who wrote during this month about the issue were ambiguous. They ask about the reasons of the delay in Hezbollah’s retaliation and at the same time warn that any act could plunge the country into a rejected war,” Sayyed Nasrallah noted. “Anyway, I don’t have to repeat the pledge but we promised and we will fulfill our promise of course,” Sayyed Nasrallah vowed.

SAYYED NASRALLAH CALLS ON NATION TO SUPPORT RESISTANCE
Before turning to the local affairs, the Resistance leader didn’t forget to urge the whole nation to support the resistance option in confronting the Zionist enemy. His eminence called on Arab and Islamic governments, including those who might have negotiated with the enemy, to embrace the Resistance. “It’s wrong to set the Resistance factions accountable because the Resistance is no doubt strength for the nation,” Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized.

His eminence, meanwhile, renewed his support to all forms of dialogue and to the Palestinian-Palestinian reconcliation. Sayyed Nasrallah also welcomed any inter-Arab reconciliation, especially between Saudi Arabia and Syria. “We support any kind of Palestinian reconciliation, and we express our support of any kind of Arab rapprochement; especially between Saudi Arabia and Syria,” his eminence said.

SAYYED NASRALLAH CALLS FOR CALM, DENOUNCES VIOLENCE
Sayyed Nasrallah devoted a large part at the end of his speech for the Lebanese internal affairs. His eminence commented on Saturday’s commemoration of the forth anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri by the March 14 forces. His eminence expressed hope that one day, the blood of martyrs, especially the great ones, would bind the Lebanese together.

While stressing on the serious need to respect all martyrs, Sayyed Nasrallah called for calm and condemned violence that resulted in the death of a civilian after taking part in the March 14 festival. “The escalation of rhetoric resulted in violence, however, violence is denounced,” Hezbollah Secretary General affirmed, while asking the youth to fear God, and not to express rage in a way that destroys the country and throws it into hell.

“Lutfi Abbas Zeineddine’s martyrdom is painful for us,” Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized, calling to tackle the underlying causes of the incident in order to prevent the repetition of such incidents in the future. His eminence relayed condolences to the Progressive Socialist Party and its leader MP Walid Jumblatt as well as Zeineddine’s family.

SAYYED NASRALLAH CALLS FOR MASS PARTICIPATION IN PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS
The forthcoming parliamentary elections were also tackled by Hezbollah Secretary General who called on the Lebanese to take part massively in the elections in order to express themselves. His eminence called on all political factions to set the stage for the elections without provocation.

Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that Lebanon can only ruled by consensus, irrespective of whoever wins the majority in the elections. His eminence declared that if the opposition wins the election it will offer the other party the blocking minority. “However, if they refused, we will offer a new model far from revenge and maliciousness,” Sayyed Nasrallah emphasized, adding that the opposition would then rule without consensus, but with a national perspective.

“Ignoring the parties representing Christians is the reason behind the quartet alliance failure,” Sayyed Nasrallah said. His eminence declared, afterwards, the end of the age of bilateralism, reiterating once again that “only consensus will protect Lebanon.”
“If the monopoly persists, there will be no country left to govern,” Sayyed Nasrallah explained.

Sayyed Nasrallah also urged MPs to adopt a law allowing those who are 18 years old to vote in the forthcoming elections. “You have to fulfill your promises and offer the young generation the ability to take part in the decision-making process, if not this year then the next one,” his eminence addressed the MPs.

YASSER ABBAS MOUSSAOUI VOWS TO CONTINUE MARTYRS’ PATH
The Loyalty to Martyrs’ ceremony has started with the martyrs’ families’ word that was delivered by Yasser Moussaoui, the son of martyr Sayyed Abbas Moussaoui, on behalf of his family, the family of Hajj Redwan and the family of Sheikh Ragheb Harb.

Moussaoui vowed to continue the martyrs’ path until achieving complete victory or joining the procession of martyrs. He stressed that the Resistance was firm and solid, noting that this firmness would continue until achieving complete victory “no matter how many sacrifices should be paid to reach this goal.” He stressed that the 27 years of the life of the Islamic Resistance have proved that the force which is based on the belief in God is the best means to liberate the land from the occupation. He concluded by calling on Muslims and Arabs to stop betting on a fake “peace.”

Al-Manar

Former Gitmo Guard Tells All

Brandon Neely

Brandon Neely

Army Private Brandon Neely served as a prison guard at Guantánamo in the first years the facility was in operation. With the Bush Administration, and thus the threat of retaliation against him, now gone, Neely decided to step forward and tell his story. “The stuff I did and the stuff I saw was just wrong,” he told the Associated Press. Neely describes the arrival of detainees in full sensory-deprivation garb, he details their sexual abuse by medical personnel, torture by other medical personnel, brutal beatings out of frustration, fear, and retribution, the first hunger strike and its causes, torturous shackling, positional torture, interference with religious practices and beliefs, verbal abuse, restriction of recreation, the behavior of mentally ill detainees, an isolation regime that was put in place for child-detainees, and his conversations with prisoners David Hicks and Rhuhel Ahmed. It makes for fascinating reading.

Neely’s comprehensive account runs to roughly 15,000 words. It was compiled by law students at the University of California at Davis and can be accessed here. Three things struck me in reading through the account.

First, Neely and other guards had been trained to the U.S. military’s traditional application of the Geneva Convention rules. They were put under great pressure to get rough with the prisoners and to violate the standards they learned. This placed the prison guards under unjustifiable mental stress and anxiety, and, as any person familiar with the vast psychological literature in the area (think of the Stanford Prison Experiment, for instance) would have anticipated produced abuses. Neely discusses at some length the notion of IRF (initial reaction force), a technique devised to brutalize or physically beat a detainee under the pretense that he required being physically subdued. The IRF approach was devised to use a perceived legal loophole in the prohibition on torture. Neely’s testimony makes clear that IRF was understood by everyone, including the prison guards who applied it, as a subterfuge for beating and mistreating prisoners—and that it had nothing to do with the need to preserve discipline and order in the prison.

Second, there is a good deal of discussion of displays of contempt for Islam by the camp authorities, and also specific documentation of mistreatment of the Qu’ran. Remember that the Neocon-laden Pentagon Public Affairs office launched a war against Newsweek based on a very brief piece that appeared in the magazine’s Periscope section concerning the mistreatment of a Qu’ran by a prison guard. Not only was the Newsweek report accurate in its essence, it actually understated the gravity and scope of the problem. Moreover, it is clear that the Pentagon Public Affairs office was fully aware, even as it went on the attack against Newsweek, that its claims were false and the weekly’s reporting was accurate.

Third, the Nelly account shows that health professionals are right in the thick of the torture and abuse of the prisoners—suggesting a systematic collapse of professional ethics driven by the Pentagon itself. He describes body searches undertaken for no legitimate security purpose, simply to sexually invade and humiliate the prisoners. This was a standardized Bush Administration tactic–the importance of which became apparent to me when I participated in some Capitol Hill negotiations with White House representatives relating to legislation creating criminal law accountability for contractors. The Bush White House vehemently objected to provisions of the law dealing with rape by instrumentality. When House negotiators pressed to know why, they were met first with silence and then an embarrassed acknowledgement that a key part of the Bush program included invasion of the bodies of prisoners in a way that might be deemed rape by instrumentality under existing federal and state criminal statutes. While these techniques have long been known, the role of health care professionals in implementing them is shocking.

Neely’s account demonstrates once more how much the Bush team kept secret and how little we still know about their comprehensive program of official cruelty and torture.

Harpers

Withholding Judgment on Obama

Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein

She fits the cliché of the Canadian who is a celebrity abroad but is mostly ignored at home.

Naomi Klein shot to international fame eight years ago with her book No Logo, which has since sold 1 million copies.

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, published 15 months ago, has already sold 800,000 copies and been translated into 26 languages. Last week, a documentary based on the book was released at the Berlin Film Festival.

Her speaking engagements and political activism keep her on the road, around the world. Her newsletter goes to 30,000 subscribers.

No Logo charted the corporate commodification of youth pop culture and the casualization of labour (what’s sold in the West are expensive brands, not products, which can be manufactured cheaply in the East).

The Shock Doctrine is about the globalization of the neo-conservative ideas pioneered by Chicago economist Milton Friedman and popularized by Ronald Reagan. There was the massive privatization – not only of public services at home but wars abroad (private security forces and contractors galore in Iraq and Afghanistan) and even disaster relief (post-tsunami and Katrina). There was the deregulation of the markets, which led, inevitably, to the current economic meltdown.

Critics attack her for seeing corporate conspiracies. They particularly sneer at her hypothesis, announced in the book’s subtitle, that right-wing economic policies have faced such popular resistance that they can only be introduced in the jet stream of shock-and-awe wars and natural disasters (laying off tens of thousands of Iraqis in order to sell state enterprises; building tourist beach hotels in Southeast Asian fishing villages washed away by the tsunami).

Her admirers see the economic crisis as proof of her prescience.

The New Yorker magazine recently ran a 12-page profile: “She has become the most visible and influential figure on the American left – what Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky were 30 years ago.”

She has campaigned against the University of Chicago’s plan to build a $200 million Milton Friedman Institute to honour its former professor, who died in 2006. “The crash on Wall St. should be for Friedmanism what the fall of the Berlin Wall was for authoritarian communism, an indictment of an ideology,” she has said.

In a twist of fate, the economic crisis has dried up funding for the institute, and it has been put on hold – much to her delight.

In an interview Tuesday, Klein, 38, said she welcomes the election of Barack Obama. But she has two problems: his refusal to insist on accountability for recent American misdemeanours abroad and at home; and his “narrative that everything went wrong only eight years ago” with the election of George W. Bush.

It was Bill Clinton who periodically bombed Iraq and tightened the economic sanctions that killed 1 million Iraqis, including 500,000 children, according to UNICEF. It was he who axed the Depression-era restrictions that had prevented investment banks from also being commercial banks. He and Alan Greenspan resisted the regulation of the huge derivatives industry.

If you develop amnesia about all that, “then you do exactly what Obama is doing. You resurrect the Clinton economic and foreign policy apparatus, and you appoint Larry Summers, the key architect of the economic policy that has imploded at this moment.”

Obama’s economic recovery plan, especially the bank bailout, is a disaster.

It is “layering complexity over complexity. What got us into this mess in the first place were these complex financial instruments that nobody understood. Now they have a bailout that nobody understands.

“The facts are easy to understand, namely, that these banks are bankrupt and they should be allowed to go under or be nationalized because there also needs to be a workable financial sector.

“The amount of money that’s at stake in the bailout – if you include everything, the deposit guarantees, the loans, Fannie May and Freddie Mac and AIG – is now up to $9 trillion. The American GDP is only $14 trillion. So they’ve put more than half the American economy on the line to try to fix a mess that actually cannot be fixed in this way. Just look at what happened to Iceland. The debt that their three top banks held was 10 times their GDP. You can bankrupt the country this way.”

Obama’s stimulus package is not big enough. Almost 40 per cent goes to tax cuts. “And to pay for the cuts, they had to drastically scale back much more important and stimulative spending, on such things as public transit.”

Among the many parallels to the 1930s, the one Klein finds most useful is that president Franklin Roosevelt was under constant public pressure to improve the New Deal. That “history of resistance, struggle and community organizing” needs to be replicated to keep Obama honest.

“Obama is an important change from Bush, and the reason why he is important is that he is susceptible to pressure from everyone. He is susceptible to pressure from Wall Street, to pressure from the weapons companies, from the Washington establishment. But unlike Bush and (Dick) Cheney, I don’t think he’d ignore mass protest.

“The irony is that just at the very moment when that kind of grassroots organizing and mobilization could have an impact, we are demobilizing and waiting for the good acts to be handed down from on high, whether it is the withdrawal from Iraq or the perfect economic stimulus package.”

It is equally important that America come to terms with its recent past.

“So much of this moment for me comes down to whether there’s going to be any accountability for what happened – whether it’s the illegal occupation of Iraq or torture or the economic crimes that led to this disaster.

“The FBI believes that there’s a huge criminality at the heart of the economic meltdown but they’ve made a decision not to prosecute because they were afraid that might send panic through the market.

“All this argument for impunity, amnesia is really corrosive.”

Toronto Star

Eastern Europe is about to Blow

Eastern Europe is about to blow. If it does, it could take much of the EU with it. It’s an emergency situation but there are no easy solutions. The IMF doesn’t have the resources for a bailout of this size and the recession is spreading faster than relief efforts can be organized. Finance ministers and central bankers are running in circles trying to put out one fire after another. Its only a matter of time before they are overtaken by events. If one country is allowed to default, the dominoes could begin to tumble through the whole region. This could trigger dramatic changes in the political landscape. The rise of fascism is no longer out of the question.

The UK Telegraph’s economics editor Edmund Conway sums it up like this:

“A ‘second wave’ of countries will fall victim to the economic crisis and face being bailed out by the International Monetary Fund, its chief warned at the G7 summit in Rome….But with some countries’ economies effectively dwarfed by the size of their banking sector and its financial liabilities, there are fears they could fall victim to balance of payments and currency crises, much as Iceland did before receiving emergency assistance from the IMF last year.” (UK Telegraph)

Foreign capital is fleeing at an alarming rate; nearly two-thirds gone in matter of months. Deflation is pushing down asset prices, increasing unemployment, and compounding the debt-burden of financial institutions. It’s the same everywhere. The economies are being hollowed out and stripped of capital. Ukraine is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary have all slipped into a low-grade depression. The countries that followed Washington’s economic regimen have suffered the most. They bet that debt-fueled growth and exports would lead to prosperity. That dream has been shattered. They haven’t developed their consumer markets, so demand is weak. Capital is scarce and businesses are being forced to deleverage to avoid default. All of Eastern Europe has gotten a margin call. They need extra funds to cover the falling value of their equity. They need a lifeline from the IMF or their economies will continue to crumble.

The UK Telegraph’s economics correspondent Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has written a series of articles about Eastern Europe. In “Failure to save East Europe will lead to Worldwide meltdown” he says:

“Austria’s finance minister Josef Pröll made frantic efforts last week to put together a €150bn rescue for the ex-Soviet bloc. Well he might. His banks have lent €230bn to the region, equal to 70pc of Austria’s GDP.

“A failure rate of 10pc would lead to the collapse of the Austrian financial sector,” reported Der Standard in Vienna. Unfortunately, that is about to happen.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) says bad debts will top 10pc and may reach 20pc….

Stephen Jen, currency chief at Morgan Stanley, said Eastern Europe has borrowed $1.7 trillion abroad, much on short-term maturities. It must repay – or roll over – $400bn this year, equal to a third of the region’s GDP. Good luck. The credit window has slammed shut.

Almost all East bloc debts are owed to West Europe, especially Austrian, Swedish, Greek, Italian, and Belgian banks. En plus, Europeans account for an astonishing 74pc of the entire $4.9 trillion portfolio of loans to emerging markets. They are five times more exposed to this latest bust than American or Japanese banks, and they are 50pc more leveraged (IMF data). (Ambrose Evans-Pritchard UK Telegraph)

An economic crisis is quickly turning into a political crisis. Riots have broken out in capitals across Eastern Europe. Mr. Geithner had better be paying attention. The prospects for political upheaval are growing. Public anxiety can spill out onto the streets at a moments notice. Governments must act quickly and with resolve. These countries need hard currency and guarantees of support. If they don’t get help, the simmering public fury will turn into something much more lethal.

UK Telegraph’s economics correspondent Ambrose Evans-Pritchard:

“Global banks have so far written down half the $2,200bn losses estimated by the IMF. On top of this, EU banks have $1,600bn of exposure to Eastern Europe — increasingly viewed as Europe’s subprime debacle, and EU corporate debts are 95pc of GDP compared to 50pc in the US, a mounting concern as default rates surge.

“It is essential that government support through asset relief should not be on a scale that raises concern about over-indebtedness or financing problems. Such considerations are particularly important in the current context of widening budget deficits, rising public debt levels and challenges in sovereign bond issuance.” (UK Telegraph)

It’s the same wherever banks merged their commercial and investment branches. Debt has skyrocketed to unsustainable levels destabilizing the entire economy. The banks have been operating like hedge funds, concealing their activities on off-balance sheets operations and maximizing their leverage through opaque debt-instruments. Now the global economy is caught in the downdraft of a collapsing speculative bubble. East Europe has been hit hard, but it’s just the first of many bowling pins that will fall. All of Europe has been infected by the same virus which originated on Wall Street. Monday’s New York Times summarizes developments in the EU:

“Europe sank even deeper into recession than the United States in the closing months of last year, according to figures published Friday…The economy of the 16 countries sharing the euro currency declined by 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter, (an annualized drop of roughly 6 percent) according to the European Union’s statistics office. That is even worse than the 1 percent decline in the United States economy during that period, compared with the previous quarter.

“Today’s data wipes out any illusion that the euro zone is getting off lightly in this global downturn,” said Jörg Radeke, an economist at the Center for Economics and Business Research in London. (“Europe Slump Deeper than Expected” New york Times)

The “liquidationists” would like to see governments cut off the flow of funds to ailing financial institutions and let them fail by themselves. It’s Darwinian madness, like waiting out a heart attack on the kitchen floor instead of rushing to the hospital for emergency care. The global economy is decelerating at the fastest pace on record. 40 percent of global wealth has been wiped out. The banking system is insolvent, unemployment is soaring, tax revenues are falling, the markets are in shock, housing is crashing, deficits are soaring, and consumer confidence is at its lowest point in history. This is no time to cling to half-baked ideology. The global economy is undergoing a massive system-wide contraction which could spin out of control and plunge us into another world war. Political leaders need to grasp the urgency of the moment and keep the vehicle from careening into the ditch.

Informationalclearinghouse

Erdogan’s reaction to the right-wing victory in the Israeli elections

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

The Turkish prime minister is worried over the results of the elections that took place in Occupied Palestine

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s prime minister said on Saturday: “Unfortunately, we witnessed that the Israeli’s gave [power] to the right-wing fanatics. This issue makes me worry a lot.”

Erdogan once again emphasized the necessity of freeing the Palestinians from the prison of Gaza. He said: “The present conditions of the citizens of Gaza are very unfortunate and are in opposition to human rights laws.”

Islam Times

In the parliamentary elections in the Zionist regime, the Kadima party, lead by Tzipi Livni won 28 seats and the Likud party lead by Benyamin Netanyahu won 27 seats. The very fanatical Israeli political group called Yisrael Beiteinu lead by Avigdor Leiberman won 15 seats in the parliament.

Political analyzers believe that the Gaza War caused the fanatic right-wing political parties to be able to win 65 out of the 120 seats because of the security wave that followed it. They have the best chance of establishing the cabinet now.

Islam Times

Iran Next Target, Warns Israeli Diplomat

A SENIOR Israeli diplomat has warned that Israel is ready to launch a military offensive against Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.

In an interview with The Age, Dan Gillerman, who was Israel’s permanent representative at the United Nations from 2003 until last September, said time for diplomatic efforts to stop Iran acquiring a nuclear capability might have already expired.

“The world cannot afford to live with a nuclear Iran,” Mr Gillerman said. “I hope diplomacy will work, but I’m not sure we have the time for diplomacy to work.

“Israel has made it very clear that it will not live with a nuclear Iran and I believe that Israel has the ability and the capacity to make sure it will not happen.”

Mr Gillerman, who will visit Australia later this month, said two clocks were running with respect to Iran: “There is the technological clock of Iran and there is the diplomatic clock, and I think the Iranian clock is running much faster.”

Detailed military plans to bomb Iran’s nuclear enrichment plant have long been on the table of Israeli military commanders. Outgoing Defence Minister Ehud Barak is believed to have requested US support for a military strike last May, but the plans were aborted after then-president George Bush declined to endorse them.

Last June, Israel carried out military exercises over the Mediterranean involving more than 100 F-16 and F-15 fighters in what was interpreted as a rehearsal for an attack on Iran’s nuclear plants. At the time, The New York Times reported that as well as sending a warning to Tehran, the exercise was intended as a message to the US that Israel was prepared to act militarily if diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from producing bomb-grade uranium faltered.

On Tuesday, the man likely to lead Israel’s next government, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, made a reference to Iran in his victory speech. He said: “Israel is facing an Iranian threat, from afar and from near. The nuclear threat and the terror threat … it will be up to us to deal with this, and we will be able to deal with these two challenges successfully.”

Israel has carried out two strikes on suspected nuclear sites over the past 30 years. In 1981, its jets bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak, and in September 2007, Israeli aircraft bombed a structure in Syria that was alleged to have housed a nuclear reactor.

Any new attack against Iran would be much more complicated, with the country’s uranium enrichment plants spread across many sites. Iran’s comparatively sophisticated military and its distance from Israel would present further complications for military planners and risk setting off a full-scale war.

Mr Gillerman said the world could not afford to underestimate the seriousness of the Iranian threat. “We have a very extreme, radical fundamentalist regime there with a president (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) who denies the Holocaust while preparing the next one, and has vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the map. My advice to the rest of the world is to listen to him very carefully and take him at face value.”

Informationclearinghouse

Explosion Kills 40 on Route to Karbala

A woman suicide bomber dressed in a black abaya blew herself up in a crowd of women and children Shiite pilgrims south of the Iraqi capital on Friday, killing at least 35 worshippers, officials said. Interior Ministry spokesman Abdel-Karim Khalaf said 35 people were killed and 68 wounded, almost all women and children, in the attack in Iskandiriyah as pilgrims flocked on foot to the holy city of Kerbala for a major religious ceremony.

It was the deadliest attack in Iraq for almost six weeks, since a suicide bomber, initially said to be a woman but later identified as a man, killed 35 people near a Shiite shrine in the Kadhimiyah district of Baghdad on January 4.

Captain Mohammad al-Awadi of the police force for Babil Province, of which Hilla is the capital, said the bomber had hidden her explosives under an abaya, a traditional Muslim head-to-toe black garment for women.

She blew herself up among a crowd of women and children just after midday (0900 GMT), he said, in what was the third straight day of deadly attacks on Shiites heading to Kerbala.

The pilgrims had been eating near a tent in the town of Iskandiriyah set up for refreshments along the 110-kilometer trek south to Kerbala from Baghdad when the bomber struck, the Interior Ministry said.

A doctor at nearby Hilla General Hospital, where dozens of ambulances ferried the casualties, said most of the survivors had head and chest wounds. All 17 dead taken to that hospital were women and children.

The use of female suicide bombers in abayas has become a feared terror tactic in Iraq.

Earlier this month, police announced they had arrested a woman who had confessed to recruiting over 80 such suicide bombers and who helped orchestrate dozens of attacks.

Iskandiriyah lies within what used to be known as “the triangle of death” where Sunni fighters from Al-Qaeda, concealed in date-tree groves, would launch deadly attacks on Shiites who ventured into the mainly farming area.

Last February, a suicide bomber in Iskandiriyah, which lies 40 kilometers south of the capital, killed 43 Shiite pilgrims and wounded over 60 others.

Millions of pilgrims are traveling to Kerbala for Arbaeen, a ritual to mark 40 days after the Ashura anniversary of the killing of Imam Hussein by Sunni caliph Yazid’s armies in AD 680.

Kerbala provincial Governor Akeel al-Khazali told a news conference Friday that 5 million have already arrived in the city, including 110,000 from abroad.

Friday’s attack came a day after eight pilgrims were killed and more than 50 wounded in a bombing near Kerbala’s revered Imam Hussein shrine. An Interior Ministry source said the bomb in a gas pipe was detonated by remote control.

A blast near the same shrine 11 months ago left 43 dead.

On Wednesday, deadly bombings again targeting Shiites near a Baghdad bus station killed 16 people as violence across Iraq claimed at least 27 lives and shattered a relative lull since largely peaceful provincial elections on January 31.

Iraq has experienced a steadily improving security situation in the past year, but the latest attacks have underscored the country’s fragile security.

Shiite pilgrims heading to Kerbala have been targeted and killed by Sunni rebel groups in past years, adding to sectarian bloodshed that has seen hundreds of thousands killed since the US-led invasion of 2003.

On Friday, an Iraqi Army general and his son were found shot dead at their apartment in a mainly Sunni Muslim district of Baghdad on Friday, Interior and Defense ministry officials said.

Source: AFP with Daily Star

Update: The number of dead has risen to 40, with a further 80 wounded. (source: AP)

Aim Islam

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