Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia executed 47 people of "terrorism-related offenses", including Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent Shi'ite cleric who supported protests against the Sunni government. In response, protestors in Tehran set the Saudi embassy on fire, and the Saudi and Bahraini governments cut diplomatic ties to Iran, ejecting Iranian diplomats and closing their embassies in Tehran. The United Arab Emirates recalled their ambassador to Iran as well. [more inside]
Forty maps that explain the Middle East. Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
"The Ideology of Hatred": An interview with Niza Yanay - "Once we understand how hatred operates as an apparatus of power relations, and particularly how the discourse of hatred is motivated and mobilised in national conflicts, serious questions about misrecognition, veiled desires and symptomatic expressions arise. These questions have, to a large extent, been left unaddressed in studies of hatred between groups in conflict." [more inside]
What might help defeat Muslim extremists in Pakistan for good? Bollywood!
A 2nd day of riots in Afghanistan over Rev. Terry Jones's trial and execution-by-burning of a Quran leaves a total death total of 20, with at least 80 injuries, including 7 UN aid workers. Thousands participated in the riots across the country. "I don't think we should be blaming any Afghan. We should be blaming the person who produced the news — the one who burned the Quran," stated the top U.N. envoy in Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura. Others defend Jones's right to free speech. (previously)
Employed as a Counterterrorism Analyst, But Think Your Bosses Are Misunderstanding the Problem? Quit your DoD post and write a book! Offer it for free, on the Web. Oh, and do it anonymously. Reddit AMA here.
This is an open letter written by Noman Benotman, a former commander in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and a former associate of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. In al Qaeda strategy meetings in Kandahar in 2000, Benotman warned the al-Qaeda leadership of ‘total failure' to realise their aims and called on bin Laden and al-Zawahiri to abandon violence. Soon after the 9/11 attacks, he distanced himself from al-Qaeda and later resigned from his own jihadist organisation. He has more recently been instrumental in negotiations with Libya's government to free former LIFG leaders, and in persuading these leaders to formally renounce terrorism. He also recently joined the London-based Quilliam Foundation as a Senior Analyst.
In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
The Spy of the Heart - The story of an American's exploration of Islamic spirituality within the turmoil of Afghanistan. Full book (PDF) available free onsite.
Pushtunwali: Thieves, murderers, rapists; and how the Pushtuns' ancient tribal code is fighting for survival against radical Islam. via The Economist. More about Puhktuns and Puhktunistan and some history together with a brief explanation of Afghan ethnic groups. There is an interesting discussion of the main article on Sunni Forum.
The age of horrorism. On the eve of the fifth anniversary of 9/11, Martin Amis analyses - and abhors - the rise of extreme Islamism. In a penetrating and wide-ranging essay he offers a trenchant critique of the grotesque creed and questions the West's faltering response to this eruption of evil.
Bob Parson's may have (somewhat) changed his tune when it comes to inhumane treatment of prisoners, but there are still plenty of ways to show your support for the little terrorist resort that could (toture people)
Bin Laden Unmasked? Robert Fisk [ducks] reviews a '215 page treasure trove' written by an Al Jazeera journalist and published in Beirut. It contains a 'wealth of information' about the elusive billionaire and his followers. He communicates over the Internet - no surprise there - but the book gives some clues as to the site used: al-Nidaa, 'The Calling'. Can you find it? The words of Mullah Omar are apparently distributed on site called the 'Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan', wild goose chase? You decide.
Kinder, gentler minders in Kabul? President Hamid Karzai has re-opened the Department of the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice. Department head Mohammad Wazir Razi Kabuli promises no beatings or jailings for violating Islamic tenets, as was common under the Taliban Ministry of Virtue and Vice. Instead, "propaganda" will be used influence the people of Afghanistan. However, when asked what would happen if, for example, a woman was caught wearing makeup in public, Kabuli said "It's too early to talk about that."
Here's what American Muslims think. What do you think? They come off modestly better than they did in a poll conducted in England a month back. But then, no embarrassing questions were asked this time.
"Unholy War" from director Saira Shah of Beneath the Veil fame is appearing several times this weekend. I am very much looking forward to this as I found the first film insightful, thought-provoking and observant. It all leads me to wonder how does one help dimilitarize and rebuild a country where an entire generation knows nothing but war, insecurity and guile?
Infinite Justice is out, Enduring Freedom is in. "The change was made after the initial name -- 'Operation Infinite Justice' -- last week ran into objections from some Islamic scholars on grounds that only God, or Allah, could mete out infinite justice in their view."
Revisionism the Taliban Way Talibans rub off giant Buddhist statues with mortars. The Mullah says it's all written in the Coran, but the Holy book says to respect other religions and the Afghanistan has been at the crossroads of different cultures for centuries, always juxtaposing Islam with Buddhism.
The Taliban want to remove any reminders of the centuries before Islam when Afghanistan was a center of Buddhist learning and pilgrimage.More coverage and pictures.