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Showing posts from January 3, 2010

Rival Islamists Fight for Town in Somalia - NYTimes.com

Rival Islamists Fight for Town in Somalia - NYTimes.com: "MOGADISHU, Somalia — Shabab rebels, who control most of Somalia with allied Islamist groups, on Saturday attacked a town lost to moderate Islamists about a year ago.

It appeared late Saturday that the moderate Islamists had kept control of the town, Dusa Marreb, in central Somalia, although the Shabab earlier claimed victory. The battles killed 10 people, witnesses said.

The two groups have been fighting each other elsewhere in Somalia for months. The group that had been controlling Dusa Marreb, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama, had chased out the Shabab in December 2008 and vowed to challenge the Shabab in other areas to “restore stability and harmony in Somalia and achieve a genuine government of national unity.”"

Spy or Say Goodbye | Columbia City Paper

Spy or Say Goodbye | Columbia City Paper: "Bush-Cheney and Kerry-Edwards signs littered the lawns as Imam Foad Farahi walked from a mosque to his North Miami Beach, Fla., apartment a few blocks away. It was November 1, 2004, the day before George W. Bush would win a second term in office. But Farahi, an influential South Florida Muslim holy man, had been too busy fasting and praying to pay much attention to the presidential election.
For Farahi, an Iranian citizen who had lived in the United States for more than a decade, it was simply another month of Ramadan in Florida. Then, around 5 p.m., as he neared his apartment, he saw two men standing outside. They were waiting for him."

5 myths about keeping America safe from terrorism

5 myths about keeping America safe from terrorism: "With President Obama declaring a 'systemic failure' of our security system in the wake of the attempted Christmas bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner, familiar arguments about what can and should be done to reduce America's vulnerabilities are again filling the airwaves, editorial pages and blogosphere. Several of these arguments are based on assumptions that guided the U.S. response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks -- and unfortunately, they are as unfounded now as they were then. The biggest whopper of all? The paternalistic assertion that the government can keep us all safe without our help."

Yemen: Terror threat? U.S. ally? Nearly failed state? - thestar.com

Yemen: Terror threat? U.S. ally? Nearly failed state? - thestar.com: "And that, warns Barbara Bodine, the former U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, could be dangerous.

'I think it would be a major mistake to turn this into a third front, if Iraq and Afghanistan are somehow front number one and number two,' said Bodine in an interview with the Star. 'If we try to deal with this as an American security problem and dealt with by American military, we risk exacerbating the problem.'

Bodine, who served as ambassador from 1997 until August 2001, and is now a lecturer at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, said while AQAP poses a serious threat, the U.S. must learn from mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

'If we go in and make this our war ... it is suddenly going to become a war against us and we will lose it,' she said."

American military aid to Israel

American military aid to Israel: "WASHINGTON: Just before Christmas, the US President, Barack Obama, signed into law one of his country's biggest aid pledges of the year. It was bound not for Africa or any of the many struggling countries on the World Bank's list.

It was a deal for $US2.77 billion ($3 billion) to go to Israel in 2010 and a total of $US30 billion over the next decade.

Israel is bound by the agreement to use 75 per cent of the aid to buy military hardware made in the US: in the crisis-racked US economy, those military factories are critical to many towns.

For the first time the US is also providing $US500 million to the Palestinian Authority, including $US100 million to train security forces, under the strict proviso that the authority's leadership recognises Israel."

Patrick Cockburn: Threats to Yemen prove America hasn't learned the lesson of history - Commentators, Opinion - The Independent

Patrick Cockburn: Threats to Yemen prove America hasn't learned the lesson of history - Commentators, Opinion - The Independent: "Yemen has always been a dangerous place. Wonderfully beautiful, the mountainous north of the country is guerrilla paradise. The Yemenis are exceptionally hospitable, though this has its limits. For instance, the Kazam tribe east of Aden are generous to passing strangers, but deem the laws of hospitality to lapse when the stranger leaves their tribal territory, at which time he becomes 'a good back to shoot at'.

The Awaleq and Kazam tribes are not exotic survivals on the margins of Yemeni society but are both politically important and influential. The strength of the central government in the capital, Sanaa, is limited and it generally avoids direct confrontations with tribal confederations, tribes, clans and powerful families. Almost everybody has a gun, usually at least an AK-47 assault rifle, but tribesmen often own heavier armament."

US Killed 700 Civilians in Pakistan Drone Strikes in 2009 -- News from Antiwar.com

US Killed 700 Civilians in Pakistan Drone Strikes in 2009 -- News from Antiwar.com: "
On January 1, 2009, a US drone strike killed two senior al-Qaeda leaders, the first in what then President-elect Barack Obama had said would be a dramatic escalation of the aerial bombardment of Pakistan’s tribal area. And escalate it did. The US launched 44 distinct drone strikes in Pakistan in 2009, far more than in previous years. The pinnacle of America’s drone achievements was in August, when they killed Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Baitullah Mehsud.

Much has been made of the successes, but while the strikes have been regular and they almost always are presented by Pakistan’s intelligence community as having killed “suspects,” the actual successes are few and far between, with only five confirmed kills of real militant leaders, and a handful of unconfirmed claims that usually haven’t panned out.

The vast majority of the deaths, around 700 according to one estimate, have been innocen…