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Monday, September 29, 2014

Roger Cohen, "Here There Is No Why": Which Is Worse, Stoning or Beheading?

Did you ever read a New York Times op-ed and want to vomit?

Describing the beheadings of James Foley, Steven Sotloff and David Haines by ISIS in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Here There Is No Why," subtitled "For ISIS, Slaughter Is an End in Itself," Roger Cohen tells us, "Presented with the counter-human, the human must fight back." So how can the US best fight back against ISIS? For Cohen, the answer is simple:

"In this fight, I would say, all means are good. The Soviet Union, an ideological rival, was a key ally of the United States in defeating Nazism. It is obvious which nation today can play that role against ISIS. Its name is Iran."

Perhaps you recall how, in 2009, Cohen sought to convince the readership of The New York Times that Iran is "not totalitarian." Ignoring the stoning to death of women in that country, the hangings of homosexuals by the mullahs, and the persecution and oppression of Baha'is, Kurds, Christians and Sunnis, Cohen continued with his harangue until he was smacked in the face with reality, i.e. the brutal suppression of Iran's Green Revolution.

Well, Iran continues to stone to death women alleged to have perpetrated adultery, and I would like to ask Cohen, which is worse, stoning or beheading? Cohen says that he watched the videos of the beheadings of Foley, Sotloff and Haines. Has he ever watched the stoning to death of a woman in Iran? The victim is buried alive up to her neck, and then she is pelted with rocks until dead.

Ashley Fantz wrote in a June 2013 CNN article entitled "Iran aims to keep stoning as punishment for adultery, rights group says":

"Stoning remains the way Iranians -- overwhelmingly women -- are punished for committing adultery, Human Rights Watch said Monday. The international group blasted a judicial council in Iraq, made up of 12 religious jurists, for inserting a stoning provision into a draft law where it had been previously removed.

Last November, security agents with the country's judiciary moved the bodies of four women who had been stoned to the Tehran medical examiner's office, according to reports on the Melli-Mazhabi site, which opposed Iran's government, the U.S. State Department says."

Iran should be the "key ally" of the United States in defeating ISIS? I don't think so.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Jackson Diehl, "Obama cannot keep ignoring Bashar al-Assad": Khamenei Has Obama Over a Barrel

Observing in an important Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obama cannot keep ignoring Bashar al-Assad" that "If the Islamic State is a cancer, Assad is the source tumor," Jackson Diehl explains why Obama refuses to strike the forces supporting Syria's monstrous president:

"Taking on Assad is hard: He’s proven he’s immune to diplomatic pressure, and military attacks would require a major escalation of the air campaign. Action against Assad would place the United States at odds not only with Iran and Russia, which so far are not obstructing the war against the Islamic State, but also with the Iraqi government, which continues to support the Damascus regime."

Diehl fails to note that the US is facing a November 24 deadline with Iran to reach an agreement curtailing Iran's nuclear weapons development program. If Obama were to attack those supporting Assad on the ground, including Iranian Revolutionary Guard fighters and Hezbollah forces sent by Khamenei from Lebanon, Obama's desperate effort to reach an agreement with Iran - currently going nowhere - would go down in flames.

Diehl explains the consequence of ignoring Assad:

"The problem is that ignoring Assad is likely to lead to even worse consequences. Already, the regime and its spokesmen are exulting in the U.S. bombing raids and doing their best to portray the United States as a de facto ally, while Syrians in rebel-held areas are demonstrating against the U.S. strikes because they are seen to be weakening the resistance to Assad."

Again, Obama cannot touch Assad without forfeiting an agreement on the nuclear issue with Iran. You will recall that Obama declared two years ago at the United Nations:

"Make no mistake: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. The United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon."

Remarkably, during his speech at the United Nations last week, Obama dropped all the threatening language when referring to Iran:

"America is pursuing a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue, as part of our commitment to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and pursue the peace and security of a world without them. And this can only take place if Iran seizes this historic opportunity. My message to Iran’s leaders and people has been simple and consistent: Do not let this opportunity pass. We can reach a solution that meets your energy needs while assuring the world that your program is peaceful."

Yup, Khamenei has Obama over a barrel.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Maureen Dowd, "From Pen and Phone to Bombs and Drones": Obama Makes the Case That ISIL Is Not Islamic

During the past month, we have repeatedly been told by President Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry that the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS, is not Islamic. More recently, British Prime Minister David Cameron also joined the chorus, declaring: "They are not Muslims, they are monsters."

Seven simple questions for Obama, Kerry and Cameron:

  • Are "honor killings" Islamic?
  • Is the stoning to death of women accused of adultery Islamic?
  • Is the hanging of homosexuals Islamic?
  • Is the murder of Christians Islamic?
  • Is the call to kill all Jews, found in Hamas's charter, Islamic?
  • Is the oppression of Kurds and Baha'is Islamic?
  • Is the execution of persons who convert to other religions Islamic?

If only one of these gentlemen would deign to answer.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "From Pen and Phone to Bombs and Drones," Maureen Dowd questions the morality of the "motley crew" of Arab nations dragged into Obama's war against the Islamic State. Dowd writes:

"THE president was at the United Nations on Wednesday urging young people across the Muslim world to reject benighted values, even as America clambers into bed with a bunch of Middle East potentates who espouse benighted values.

. . . .

As the U.S. woos the Arab coalition, Arab leaders are not speaking out against the atrocities of ISIS against women."

"Arab leaders are not speaking out against the atrocities of ISIS against women"? Why should we be surprised? While visiting Saudi Arabia in March 2010, Dowd reported in a Times opinion piece entitled "Loosey Goosey Saudi":

"The word progressive, of course, is highly relative when it comes to Saudi Arabia. (Wahhabism, anyone?) But after spending 10 days here, I can confirm that, at their own galactically glacial pace, they are chipping away at gender apartheid and cultural repression."

There was no mention by Dowd that in 2009 a Saudi woman was gang-raped and consequently sentenced to one year in prison plus 100 lashes. As reported at the time by the Saudi Gazette :

"A 23-year-old unmarried woman was awarded one-year prison term and 100 lashes for committing adultery and trying to abort the resultant fetus.

The District Court in Jeddah pronounced the verdict on Saturday after the girl confessed that she had a forced sexual intercourse with a man who had offered her a ride. The man, the girl confessed, took her to a rest house, east of Jeddah, where he and four of friends assaulted her all night long.

The girl claimed that she became pregnant soon after and went to King Fahd Hospital for Armed Forces in an attempt to carry out an abortion. She was eight weeks’ pregnant then, the hospital confirmed."

There was also no mention by Dowd of twin honor killings that occurred not long before her visit:

"A Saudi women's group on Friday blamed the country's religious police in the 'honour' killing of two sisters shot dead by their own brother after they were arrested for mixing with unrelated men.

The Society for Defending Women's Rights in Saudi Arabia said the religious police had placed the sisters' lives in danger when they arrested them and then placed them in a Riyadh women's shelter.

The two women, identified as Reem, 21, and Nouf, 19, were murdered after they left the shelter on July 5.

The brother shot them in the presence of their father who, according to newspaper reports, quickly forgave the son for defending the family's honour."

But why single out Saudi Arabia? What about Pakistan? As we were informed in a June 29, 2014 CNN article entitled "Pakistani newlyweds decapitated by bride's family in honor killing" by Shelby Lin Erdman:

"A young newlywed couple in northeastern Pakistan died a horrible death at the hands of the bride's family in the latest honor killing in the nation, police in Pakistan said Saturday.

The couple, identified as Sajjad Ahmed, 26, and Muawia Bibi, 18, were married by a Pakistani court on June 18 against the wishes of the Bibi family, Punjab police official Mohammad Ahsanullah told CNN.

On Thursday, the bride's father and uncles lured the couple back to the village of Satrah in Punjab province, where Ahsanullah said the pair were tied up and then decapitated.

. . . .

According to the United Nations, some 5,000 women are murdered by family members in honor killings every year."

Afghanistan? As reported in a July 19, 2014 New York Times article entitled "Struggling to Keep Afghan Girl Safe After a Mullah Is Accused of Rape" by Rod Nordland:

"KUNDUZ, Afghanistan — It was bad enough that the alleged rape took place in the sanctity of a mosque, and that the accused man was a mullah who invoked the familiar defense that it had been consensual sex.

But the victim was only 10 years old. And there was more: The authorities said her family members openly planned to carry out an 'honor killing' in the case — against the young girl. The mullah offered to marry his victim instead.

This past week, the awful matter became even worse. On Tuesday, local policemen removed the girl from the shelter that had given her refuge and returned her to her family, despite complaints from women’s activists that she was likely to be killed."

Turkey? We were told by the BBC in a 2010 article entitled "Turkish girl 'buried alive' in family garden" by Jonathan Head:

"A Turkish teenager found dead in a hole next to her house was probably buried alive, a post-mortem examination has revealed.

Medine Memi, 16, was found in the hole in December. Large amounts of soil were in her lungs and stomach, according to a source who has seen the report.

Her father and grandfather have been arrested, but not charged.

So-called 'honour killings' take place every year in Turkey despite government moves to stamp out the practice."

Gaza and the West Bank? In a Washington Post article entitled "Honor killings rise in Palestinian territories, sparking backlash" by Anne-Marie O'Connor, we learn:

"AQQABA, West Bank — The news spread at dawn, and people in the village made their way to the olive tree where the bruised body of a young mother of six was hanging, her veil torn off. She had been killed in the name of honor.

. . . .

Here in this northern West Bank mountain town of breathtaking views, the relatives of Rasha Abu Arra, 32, who was killed in November after rumors spread that she had committed adultery, are adding their voices to an outcry against honor killings in the Palestinian territories.

. . . .

In recent years, other suspected victims have included a young Gazan mother of five who was bludgeoned to death by her father because he suspected she was using her cellphone to talk to a man. In September, a mentally disabled 21-year-old in the West Bank city of Hebron was allegedly killed by her mother after she was sexually assaulted. Another West Bank woman, who had divorced an abusive husband, allegedly was strangled by her father after being accused of 'disgraceful' acts in a petition that news reports said was signed by a legislator from the Islamist militant movement Hamas, which rules Gaza."

And let us not forget the stoning to death of women throughout the Muslim Middle East. As stated by The Independent in a 2013 article entitled "Special report: The punishment was death by stoning. The crime? Having a mobile phone" by Emma Batha:

"Two months ago, a young mother of two was stoned to death by her relatives on the order of a tribal court in Pakistan. Her crime: possession of a mobile phone.

Arifa Bibi's uncle, cousins and others hurled stones and bricks at her until she died, according to media reports. She was buried in a desert far from her village. It's unlikely anyone was arrested. Her case is not unique. Stoning is legal or practised in at least 15 countries or regions. And campaigners fear this barbaric form of execution may be on the rise, particularly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq."

Particularly Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq? Why no mention of Iran? Ashley Fantz wrote in a June 2013 CNN article entitled "Iran aims to keep stoning as punishment for adultery, rights group says":

"Stoning remains the way Iranians -- overwhelmingly women -- are punished for committing adultery, Human Rights Watch said Monday. The international group blasted a judicial council in Iraq, made up of 12 religious jurists, for inserting a stoning provision into a draft law where it had been previously removed.

Last November, security agents with the country's judiciary moved the bodies of four women who had been stoned to the Tehran medical examiner's office, according to reports on the Melli-Mazhabi site, which opposed Iran's government, the U.S. State Department says."

You will recall that US Secretary of State John Kerry also sought to bring Iran into Obama's coaltion of the unwilling. This is the same Iran that has sent arms and Revolutionary Guard fighters to support Assad. This is the same Iran (together with Syria and Hezbollah) that was responsible for the bombing of the Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and injured another 250. This is the same Iran that hangs homosexuals, imprisons journalists and political opponents of the regime, and persecutes Kurds, Baha'is, Sunnis and Christians.

And lest we forget Egypt, 81 percent of the population believes that adulterers should be stoned to death.

Finally, what about Tunisia, the poster child of all that remains of the Arab Spring? Four months ago in a suburb of Tunis, a father burned to death his 13-year-old daughter for walking home with a boy from her school.

Obama would have us know that "No religion condones the killing of innocents." In a word: Bullshit!

Fifteen Civilians Killed in a Coalition Airstrike on Kfar Daryan: Double Standard?

The inevitable has happened: ISIS has embedded its forces in Syrian villages, and it is being claimed that 15 civilians were killed in a coalition airstrike on Kfar Daryan. Following Friday prayers, protests against the US were held in 40 Syrian towns and villages.

Why is State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki not asking that the US military do more to prevent civilian casualties? She demanded this of Israel during the recent IDF campaign against Hamas in Gaza.

And then there were also the recent coalition strikes on ISIS-controlled oil refineries in eastern Syria. Why isn't Psaki expressing concern over these attacks? You will recall that Psaki declared that "We’re deeply troubled by the humanitarian impact of reduced electricity in Gaza," after Gaza's power plant was hit during the war between Israel and Hamas. (We were told that the power plant was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike, but we are now being told that the power plant is operational)

Obama adminstration double standards at work? You bet!

Obama, "ISIL Is Not Islamic": Are "Honor Killings" Also Not Islamic?

We have repeatedly been told by President Obama and US Secretary of State John Kerry that the Islamic State, also known as ISIL and ISIS, is not Islamic. Prime Minister David Cameron has also joined in the chorus:

"They are not Muslims. They are monsters."

Seven simple questions for Obama, Kerry and Cameron:

  • Are "honor killings" Islamic?
  • Is the stoning to death of women accused of adultery Islamic?
  • Is the hanging of homosexuals Islamic?
  • Is the murder of Christians Islamic?
  • Is the call to kill all Jews, found in Hamas's charter, Islamic?
  • Is the oppression of Kurds and Baha'is Islamic?
  • Is the execution of persons who convert to other religions Islamic?
The list continues ad infinitum, but for now, let's leave it at that.

Gentlemen, I await your answers.

Friday, September 26, 2014

New York Times Editorial, "Impasse Over Iran’s Nuclear Program": What a Surprise!

In an editorial entitled "Impasse Over Iran’s Nuclear Program," The New York Times informs us that negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 over Iran's nuclear program have reached a "logjam." Although the Times take the position that "The fault lies mainly with Iran," its editorial board also makes certain to blame Israel:

"The biggest stumbling block has been and remains how much enriched uranium Iran would be allowed to continue producing. Israel and its hard-line allies in Congress want to end the enriched uranium program altogether. Mr. Obama and the other big powers have said that Iran can keep a limited program for research purposes."

Why would Israel "want to end the enriched uranium program altogether"? Needless to say, the Times doesn't mention Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei's July 24, 2014 declaration that "The only rem­edy is the destruc­tion of Israel."

Acknowledging that Iran's refusal "to budge on the centrifuges invites doubts about its claims to not want a nuclear weapon," the Times editorial naively concludes:

"Now Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, must decide if he has the courage to defy the forces in his country who will always see America as an enemy and let his negotiators bring a deal to a close. That would allow sanctions to be lifted and unfetter Iran to grow economically, shed its diplomatic isolation and, ideally, become a more constructive participant in regional affairs."

Yeah, right. Given the effective dismantling by the Obama administration of the sanctions regime in order to extend negotiations until November 24, Kerry's request that Iran join the coalition fighting ISIS, and Iran's recent joint naval exercises with China, Khamenei is feeling no pressure whatsoever to reach a deal.

Iran's first nuclear weapon? It's only a matter of time, unless Israel decides to act on its own.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Charles Krauthammer, "Our real Syria strategy — containment-plus": No Mention of Syria's Kurds

In his latest Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Our real Syria strategy — containment-plus," Charles Krauthammer praises Obama's strategy against ISIS and then declares:

"The strategy will not destroy the Islamic State. It’s more containment-plus: Expel the Islamic State from Iraq, contain it in Syria. Because you can’t win from the air. In Iraq, we have potential ground allies. In Syria, we don’t."

I have enormous respect for Charles Krauthammer; however, here he is mistaken.

Syria's Kurds comprise some ten percent of the country's population, and long persecuted by the Assad regime, they would be natural American allies on the ground. However, so as not to annoy Turkey, which has been reluctant to join Obama's coalition of the unwilling, the Obama administration is doing almost nothing to assist Syria's Kurdish minority from the ISIS onslaught.

Currently, Syrian Kurds in the strategic town of Kobane on the Turkish border are desperately attempting to repel an ISIS attack. Support from the Obama coalition? There have been air strikes some twenty miles away, but they have done nothing to dislodge Islamic State forces which are besieging the town.

Ultimately, the Middle East's 30 million stateless Kurds, living in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran, will have their own country. When will America wise up to this fact? Certainly no time soon, notwithstanding the longstanding friendly relationship between the Kurds in northern Iraq and the American military.