"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

New York

Islam at the Ballot Box

From Amir Taheri wrting for the Wall Street Journal.

Pakistan's election has been portrayed by the Western media as a defeat for President Pervez Musharraf. The real losers were the Islamist parties.

The latest analysis of the results shows that the parties linked, or at least sympathetic, to the Taliban and al Qaeda saw their share of the votes slashed to about 3% from almost 11% in the last general election a few years ago. The largest coalition of the Islamist parties, the United Assembly for Action (MMA), lost control of the Northwest Frontier Province -- the only one of Pakistan's four provinces it governed. The winner in the province is the avowedly secularist National Awami Party.

Mr. Taheri goes on to show how bad Islamists have faired in several other countries in elections. He ends with,

Far from rejecting democracy because it is supposed to be "alien," or using it as a means of creating totalitarian Islamist systems, a majority of Muslims have repeatedly shown that they like elections, and would love to join the global mainstream of democratization. President Bush is right to emphasize the importance of holding free and fair elections in all Muslim majority countries.

Tyrants fear free and fair elections, a fact illustrated by the Khomeinist regime's efforts to fix the outcome of next month's poll in Iran by pre-selecting the candidates. Support for democratic movements in the Muslim world remains the only credible strategy for winning the war against terror.

For all that President Bush may not have done, he has brought democracy to the Middle East. This fact can never be changed. Democracy will continue to grow in this region.

Currently, the beacon of democracy in the Middle East is Iraq. It is a beacon that is continuing to shine brighter daily for all other countries to emulate.

Mr. Taheri is correct. Tyrants fear democracy. Whether the tyrants are dictators of Middle Eastern countries or terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, they are fearful of Iraq's success because they know if democracy succeeds in Iraq, Muslims will continue to push for democracy in surrounding countries.

The Bush Doctrine will survive and is currently alive and well. To solve the festering problem on Middle Eastern sponsored terrorism, President Bush took a bold step to end it. Terrorism will not end under his watch, but the democratic principles he forced upon Iraq continue to spread to neighboring countries.

Over time the Bush Doctrine will force out all tyrants in the Middle East. This fact is why Al Qaeda declared Iraq its central front. Having lost Iraq, Al Qaeda is attempting to re-establish itself elsewhere, but as Mr. Taheri points out, they fail to garner much public support where-ever they may be.

For a full read, click here.

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Forming Pakistan's coalition government

From Dawn.

Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, the leaders of Pakistan's two main parties, have decided in principle to forge a coalition government following their resounding election victory. If they succeed, it will be the first time the two main parties in Pakistan have come together. As the two parties and their leadership work out the modalities of the coalition arrangement, the Election Commission will be ready to formally notify the election results which is expected by March 1. This will be followed by President Musharraf summoning the inaugural session of the National Assembly. How soon after depends on whether there is a government ready. In 2002, Musharraf convened the assembly session more than a month after the election, to give time to political parties to agree on a coalition. The president will thereafter invite a member of the National Assembly who commands the confidence of the majority of the members to become prime minister and form the government. Before the formal election of the leader of the house/prime minister, the newly elected members will be sworn in, and they will elect the Speaker and his deputy.

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Turkey Says It Has Sent Ground Troops Into Iraq

From the New York Times.

Turkey's military said it had sent ground troops into northern Iraq Thursday night in an operation aimed at weakening Kurdish militants there, the first confirmed ground incursion since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.

The story continues with,

A Turkish analyst, commenting on NTV, said the attack appeared aimed at dealing the Kurdish militants, the Kurdistan Worker's Party, a surprise blow before the snow melts and the guerillas make their traditional spring advance into Turkey to attack Turkish troops. The analyst said the operation would likely last between three and four days.

For a full read, click here.

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Why was Mughniyah so important?

From Al-Ahram Weekly.

The Americans described Imad Mughniyah as one of the deadliest enemies of the United States. Even before 9/11, he had more American blood on his hands than any other militant in the world. Many in the Arab world had not heard of him before because he never gave interviews or speeches, and changed his appearance several times through plastic surgery to avoid Israeli reprisal. The Americans had a $25 million bounty on his head, and he was on the FBI's most wanted list. Mughniyah was accused of masterminding the April 1983 bombing of the US Embassy and six months later the bombing of the US Marines Barracks in Beirut during the days of Ronald Reagan.

Ms. Fielder continues,

This is when Mughniyah became good friends with Nasrallah, who was two years his senior. Robert Baer, an ex-CIA official who has been tracking Mughniyah for years, commented: "This is a personal loss for Nasrallah. They are basically the ones who made Hizbullah."....

In 2006, he is believed to have played a part in the border operation that led to the capturing of two Israeli soldiers, an act that triggered the latest war between Hizbullah and Israel....

Many in Lebanon believe that Mughniyah was killed by the Americans because in recent months he had been operating out of Basra with the aim of re- structuring the Mahdi Army in Iraq. He had been charged with revamping the troops of Muqtada Al-Sadr into a more disciplined military force, modelled after Hizbullah. This might explain why Sadr has been calling for repeated freezes on activities of the Mahdi Army, with the aim of filtering and fine-tuning the troops into a Hizbullah-like force.

All around, Mughniyah was a bad character who was responsible for the deaths of several innocent people. If the above story is correct, his death will not only hurt Hezbollah, but will have stymied the formation of the Madhi Army into another Hezbollah type organization.

For a full read, click here.

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Iraqi Gov't Aims To Establish General Council For All Iraqi Tribes


Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has said that his government was continuing to work on uniting the Iraqi tribes and their national activity.

He added that in this context, the government aimed to establish a general council for all Iraqi tribes.

Al-Maliki also praised the help provided by the Iraqi tribes to the armed forces in their struggle against terror elements and lawbreakers, and for support for the National Reconciliation Initiative.

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Mosul military operation might be delayed

From Alsumaria.

Nineveh deputy governor Khasro Koran announced that Mosul operation might be delayed because military forces number is not sufficient to start a large-scale military operation which was announced by Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki last month. He clarified that the operation might start within the coming weeks while US preparations are ongoing as US Forces are raiding insurgents’ strongholds.

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Muqtada al-Sadr extends Iraqi cease-fire

From Yahoo via AP.

Anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced Friday that he has extended a cease-fire order to his Shiite Mahdi Army by another six months, giving Iraq a chance to continue its fragile recovery from brutal sectarian violence.

For a full read, click here.

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Iraqi security forces are al-Qaeda's 'enemy No. 1'

From USA Today.

Al-Qaeda and other militants in Iraq have shifted their sights to the growing number of U.S.-backed neighborhood security groups, quadrupling the number of attacks on the lightly armed volunteers over recent months.

Al-Qaeda calls the local security forces "the most dangerous enemy" it faces and ordered more attacks against the groups, according to a document captured last month. The letter from an al-Qaeda regional commander to a subordinate was dated Jan. 3, 2008.

The number of CLC in now over 90,000 and continuing to grow daily. According to this article, Sunnis make up 80% of CLCs, while Shiites make up the other 20%. Not only is Al Qaeda going after CLCs, but so is Iranian backed Special Groups. Why?

Col. Raad Ali Hassan, commander of a volunteer group in Baghdad's Ghazaliyah neighborhood, said the volunteers are a threat to militants because they know the neighborhoods and can point out al-Qaeda and other extremists.

The number one item an insurgency needs to survive is at least tacit support from the populous. All extremists groups in Iraq have lost this tacit support. Iraqis are sick and tired of extremists indiscriminantly killing fellow Iraqis, whether Sunni, Shiite, or Christian. Iraqis are not afraid to come forward because they are seeing a large professional security force able to secure them. This large professional security force is not from the US, but instead is home grown Iraqi.

In Iraq right now, 1 in 20-25 people are involved in security of the country. This means that most Iraqis have brothers, cousins, or some relative in the Army, Police, Badr Corp, Peshmurga forces, CLCs, Sons of Iraq, or Awakening Groups. This is a powerful deterrent.

In addition, in the last five years, probably all people in Iraq have had a relative killed by extremists. It was always stated that Iraqis are the only ones who can stop extremists. This statement is completely true.

What is happening in Iraq is not an isolated incident. Where ever Al Qaeda concentrates itself, it begins to impose strict Islamic Salafist codes on its neighbors resulting in it alienation of the populous. It then indiscriminantly kills fellow Muslims including women and children. This creates what has been coined "intellectional turbulence" among fellow Muslim.

"Intellectual turbelence" among Muslims is created due to three facets.

1. Exaggeration of the Sins of Rival Groups
2. Use of force to settle disagreement among Jihad Groups.
3. Blindly following extremists.

This "intellectual turbulence" came to the forefront in Iraq in middle 2006 when Sunni Tribes began contesting Al Qaeda's role in Al Anbar. The Awakening movement was allowed to grow and flourish by the presence of extra US forces on the ground.

This "intellectual turbuleance" allowed Al Qaeda and the Taliban to be overthrown in Afghanistan and will continue to grow and flourish under NATO.

This "intellectual turbueance" will develop in Gaza now that Al Qaeda has entered Gaza in force.

The beacon of democracy in the Middle East, Iraq, is a light that is shining for all Muslims. The Great Satan, the Infidel, has brought democracy to the heart of the Middle East. Democracy is not easily secured, nor easily maintained as Iraqis are figuring out now. Democracy has to be fought for. All Muslims are now seeing this fact in Iraq. They are also seeing that Al Qaeda is nothing but a bunch thugs.

In addition, they are seeing the Great Satan putting its own forces on the line to bring Muslims freedom and democracy.

In addition to the "intellectual turbulence" described above, Al Qaeda made a grave mistake denouncing democracy. One of the reasons for the growth of Al Qaeda type organizations is a yearning for democracy as a relief from dictatorships in the Middle East.

Many Muslims are now seeing that Al Qaeda is nothing more than another dictatorship, no less violent than Saddam's dictatorship was in Iraq. And no Muslims want to put their life on the line for another Saddam.

All of these factors above are adding to "intellectual turbulence" among Muslims. All of these factors above will result in Al Qaeda's eventual defeat. All of these factors above will eventually lead to a broader democratic revolution in the Middle East. Al Qaeda is nothing but an outgrowth of Nazism from Germany in the 1930s. It took the better part of 70 years to find a dissatisfied faction able to champion its cause in the Middle East.

However, like the Third Reich in Germany, it will not last a 1000 years, but a short decade as fellow Muslims begin to understand what fellow Germans finally understood in the mid 1940s. Their leader is nothing but a crazy man.

For a full read, click here.

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Gaza's New Residents

From the Weekly Standard.

The border incident, initiated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, allowed some otherwise unwelcome guests to enter Gaza. The Bethlehem-based Maan news agency quoted Hamas sources as estimating the number of Arab men who had entered the Gaza Strip as new residents at 2,000. Many of these men, according to Egyptian sources, toured a number of Hamas-affiliated training bases and security installations and expressed their desire to remain in the Gaza Strip and launch attacks against Israel. Some
of the men, according to Arab sources, had recently fled from Iraq, where they had been carrying out attacks against U.S. troops.

So, Al Qaeda in Iraq forces have entered Gaza in force. While Al Qaeda has had members in Gaza for some time, it now appears they have entered Gaza in force.

One thing is certain. No matter where Al Qaeda has hanged its hat, it manages to alienate the populous. Not only does Al Qaeda indiscriminantly kill innocent infidels, but they also indiscriminantly kill innocent Muslims who do not follow strict salafist ways.

While Hamas' shares extreme violence with Al Qaeda, Palestinians in general are not strict salafists. They enjoy smoking, music, television, and the like. Al Qaeda's presence in Gaza is sure to turn many Palestinian noses.

It will be interesting to see how this situation develops. Palestinians have always supported Al Qaeda since it has attacked the US and Israel. Now that Al Qaeda is in Gaza in force, it is sure to begin attacking Palestinians. It will be nice for them to get a taste of their own medicine.

For a full read, click here.

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Zardari, Sharif to discuss Pakistani coalition government

From South Asia News via Monsters and Critics.

Pakistani opposition leaders Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif were due to meet Thursday evening to discuss forming a coalition government after their big win in crucial parliamentary elections.

The article continues.

Zardari on Wednesday ruled out a coalition with both Musharraf and the PML-Q, but said he was open to inviting smaller regional parties not linked to the previous government into a coalition.

Earlier Thursday, Zardari met with Asfand Yar Wali, chairman of the Awami National Party (ANP), a secular-left party based in the country's volatile North-West Frontier Province (NWFP).

For a full read, click here.

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Protests greet U.S. war games in the Philippines

From Reuters.

Thousands of people protested against U.S. soldiers involved in humanitarian missions in Muslim areas of the southern Philippines on Monday, saying the troops' presence could be provocative.

About 6,000 U.S. troops are taking part in annual training exercises with Philippine troops over two weeks but they will only hold humanitarian missions in the south of the archipelago, where Muslim communities are suspicious of their activities.

For a full read, click here.

'Europeans Hide Behind the Unpopularity of President Bush'

From Der Speigel's interview with Henry Kissinger.

SPIEGEL: The Democrats have promised a rapid withdrawal. Is this a realistic option?

Kissinger: The issue is: Are American forces withdrawn as part of a political settlement? Or are they withdrawn because America is exhausted by the war? In the latter case, the consequences of an American withdrawal would be catastrophic.

SPIEGEL: Do you think there would be another eruption of violence?

Kissinger: There would be a high possibility of killing fields. Radical Islam won't stop because we withdraw. A rapid withdrawal would be a demonstration in the region of the impotence of Western power. Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaida would achieve a more dominant role, and the ability of Western nations to shape events would be sharply reduced. The virus would have huge consequences for all countries with large Muslim populations: India, Indonesia, and large parts of Europe.

SPIEGEL: That is not how many Europeans see it.

Kissinger: Some Europeans do not want to understand that this is not an American problem alone. The consequences of such an outcome would be at least as serious for Europe as for the Americans.

Mr. Kissinger continues with,

SPIEGEL: Isn't German and European opposition to a greater military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq also a result of deep distrust of American power?

Kissinger: By this time next year, we will see the beginning of a new administration. We will then discover to what extent the Bush administration was the cause or the alibi for European-American disagreements. Right now, many Europeans hide behind the unpopularity of President Bush. And this administration made several mistakes in the beginning.

A very interesting interview indeed.

For a full read, click here.

Reports of Reconciliation

From Deroy Murdock at NRO.

Though largely dismissed by the Democratic Left, America’s “surge” policy is paying attractive dividends. Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) is in retreat, violence is down, and political reconciliation is up.

In a 16-page letter that U.S. soldiers found last October near Baghdad, AQI leader Abu Tariq complained that his 600-man force had dwindled to 20 terrorists.

Mr. Murdock continues with,

This far-brighter security climate is depriving the Democratic Left of its last anti-surge talking point. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D – California) told CNN February 10, “The gains have not produced the desired effect, which is the reconciliation of Iraq. This is a failure. This is a failure.

”Either Pelosi is self-deluded, or she spoke prematurely. On February 13, the Iraqi parliament scored a trifecta. It adopted a $48 billion budget, scheduled provincial elections for October 1 within the context of new rules governing central, regional, and local authorities, and passed an amnesty measure that could free thousands of mainly Sunni detainees not accused of serious crimes. Legislators embraced these bills unanimously.

“Today is a wedding for Iraq’s parliament,” said speaker Mahmoud Mashhadani. “We have proved that Iraqis are just one bloc.”

For a full read, click here.

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Senior al Qaeda in Iraq intel officer killed in Diyala

From Bill Roggio at The Long War Journal.

Multinational Forces Iraq has confirmed it killed a senior intelligence officer of al Qaeda in Iraq’s network in Diyala. Arkan Khalaf Khudayyir, also known as Karrar, was killed during a raid by “Coalition forces” in Khan Bani Sa’ad on February 17. Multinational Forces Iraq uses the generic term Coalition forces to describe Task Force 88, the special operations hunter-killer teams tasked with dismantling al Qaeda in Iraq’s senior leaders and wider network.

Karrar was described as a senior intelligence leader for al Qaeda in Iraq’s network in Baqubah. Karrar facilitated suicide bombing attacks in the Diyala River Valley. This network also has been responsible for attacks in Baghdad, “to include attacks by female suicide bombers.” (emphasis added)

One can only hope we have destroyed this network. Further on in the article, he notes,

While the region has not been named, Multinational Forces Iraq has reported numerous raids against al Qaeda in Iraq’s networks in the Hamrin Mountain region. The Hamrin Mountains, which span Diyala, Salahadin, and Tamin provinces, are believed to be a major fallback position for al Qaeda in Iraq and allied insurgent groups.

We have discussed the Hamrin Mountain region previously in this blog. It is believed to be a training area for insurgents in Iraq. Between Mosul and Hamrin, these are the last bastions of security for Al Qaeda in Iraq.

For a full read, click here.

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Pakistan revives the North Waziristan Accord

From Bill Roggio at The Long War Journal.

Almost one and a half years after the Pakistani government signed the North Waziristan Accord with the Taliban and the agreement’s subsequent collapse last summer, a new agreement has been inked. The political administration of North Waziristan has agreed to terms with the two major tribes. The Taliban were represented at the negotiations.

Another insightful article from Mr. Roggio.

For a full read, click here.

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U.S. missile hits spy satellite

From Yahoo via Reuters.

A missile from a U.S. Navy warship hit a defunct U.S. spy satellite 133 nautical miles above the Earth in an attempt to blow apart its tank of toxic fuel, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

It was too soon to tell if the fuel tank had been shattered in the operation over the Pacific Ocean, the Pentagon said in a statement, but a senior military source said initial indications suggested that goal had been achieved.

Great Shot!

For a full read, click here.

Taliban commanders killed in Afghanistan

From Yahoo via AP.

Afghan and NATO-led troops killed two regional Taliban commanders in southern Afghanistan, and an explosion in the same province claimed the life of a British soldier, officials said Thursday.

"As a result of this successful attack (on the commanders), the Taliban's networks have suffered another severe setback," said Brig. Gen. Carlos Branco, a spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force.

The joint NATO-Afghan forces killed commander Mullah Abdul Matin and his associate, Mullah Karim Agha, in the southern province of Helmand on Monday, the alliance said in a statement.

I know I will be sleeping a little easier tonight knowing two more Taliban Commanders are with Allah.

For a full read, click here.

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Dwindling Insurgent Forces Target of Operation Marne Grand Slam

From MNF-I.

Coalition forces began pursuit of remaining insurgent elements near Salman Pak Feb. 15 with the kickoff of Operation Marne Grand Slam.
The operation is designed to terminally disable the dwindling number of al-Qaeda in Iraq operatives remaining in the region southeast of Baghdad.

The first phase of Grand Slam involves clearing a peninsula that stretches into the Tigris River, directly south of the city of Salman Pak. In addition to targeting the terrorist network there, Coalition forces will go after AQI’s infrastructure of safe houses, weapon caches and firing points.

For a full read, click here.

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Was Syria involved in Mugnieh's death?

From the Middle East Times.

February 12 marked a point against radical Islam. The killing of Hezbollah's mastermind and legend, Imad Mughnieh, in Damascus should be considered a great victory. The death of one of the most sophisticated and bloody terror masters that had been in "business" for 25 years makes the world a much better place, commented a U.S. State Department spokesman. The question remains: who is ultimately responsible for this?

Increasingly, it seems that maybe Syria was behind the attack. Indeed, on Feb. 17, Mike McConnell, the director of National Intelligence, told Fox News: "There's some evidence that it may have been internal Hezbollah. It may have been Syria."

Olivier Guitta provides an interesting arguments about why Syria would want Mughnieh dead.

For a full read, click here.

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Anti-terror pact reached with NW tribesmen

From Daily Times in Pakistan.

The Wazir and Daur tribes on Monday reached an “agreement” with the North Waziristan (NW) political administration against “extremism” and “terrorism”, according to governor’s office.“

The political administration of North Waziristan and all sub-tribes and clans of Wazir and Daur tribes have agreed to jointly struggle against extremism and terrorism throughout the agency,” a press release from Governor’s House said.“

The agreement was signed in Miranshah (headquarters of North Waziristan),” it said.

The Daily Times notes the significance of this agreement.

Monday’s agreement was the first the government had signed with local tribes instead of militant groups.

An agreement with the Wasir tribe is significant in that it recently organized a lashkar against the Meshud tribe after the killing of nine of its tribal leaders. Also of significance is the Wasir tribe is led by Maulvi Nazir who made a name for himself by leading attacks against Uzbeks in April 2007, effectively clearing them out of the Wana region. Both of these tribes have influence in both North and South Waziristan. Expect these tribes to find positions in the newly established Regional Coordinating Officers (RCOs) and District Coordinating Officers (DCOs).

The lines are being drawn in the FATA region as part of Musharraf's multi-pronged strategy to deal with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

For a full read, click here.

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Pakistan's ruling party concedes defeat

From Yahoo via AP.

Pakistan's ruling party conceded defeat Tuesday after opposition parties routed allies of President Pervez Musharraf in parliamentary elections that could threaten the rule of America's close ally in the war on terror.

The significance of this fact cannot be understated. Musharraf's party, which came to power through a coup, held free and fair elections which resulted in it losing several parlimentary seats. And it has peacefully conceded defeat.

While Sharif is calling on Musharraf to step down, there potentially is no reason for Musharraf to do so according to the numbers.

Geo TV said unofficial tallies from 229 of the 268 National Assembly seats being contested showed Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party with 33 percent and Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N party with 27 percent. The PML-Q was third with 14 percent.

Thje PML-Q may align itself with the PPP to assist this party in getting a majority through a coalition with other smaller parties effectively pushing the PML-N out of a majority coalition. This idea was surfaced before the election and would allow Musharraf to continue to focus his presidency on defeating the militants while the PPP focuses on the economics of Pakistan. A major sticking point between the PPP and PML-N is that the PML-N supports the Taliban while the PPP is against Islamization of the country, especially in light of Bhutto's assassination by Baitullah Meshud.

Another fact this article brushes over, but is even more significant, is the MMA (pro-Taliban cleric, Maulana Fazl-ur Rehman) won only eight seats or about 3% of the vote. This is a significant decrease from the 11% it won during the last elections. Not only is support waning for Musharraf's party, but so has support for the Taliban.

Musharraf saw the writing on the wall prior to the elections and spoke of his multi-pronged strategy to defeat the insurgents in his country. This strategy included:

1. Countering terrorism and extremism

2. Transition to democracy

3. The need to sustain socio-economic growth

Musharraf has just helped his country make the transition to democracy in free and fair elections resulting in his party coming in third. He has appointed General Kayani head of the military. General Kayani will ensure the fight is taken to the insurgents. He has transformed Pakistan economically by opening up the country to international trade to include several lucrative oil pipeline deals. He is transforming the FATA and NWFP region with the appointments of Regional Coordinating Officers (RCOs), District Coordinating Officers (DCOs), and making the offices of the political agents below Governors.

Pakistan's transition to democracy marks the beginning of the end of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan. The PPP leading a coalition will ensure it demise. The Bhutto assassination assured this fact. Its garnering of only 3% of the vote sealed its fate.

Now it is up to the PPP to convince Pakistanis the battle against the Taliban is not just America's war, but also their own. The over 600 innocent Pakistanis murdered last year by suicide bombers helps the PPP accomplish this mission.

We will soon see if the PPP is up to this task. Aligning the PML-Q with itself will signal its intentions for not only Pakistanis, but also to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

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Devastating suicide attack rocks Kandahar

From Matt Dupee writing for The Long War Journal.

A Taliban suicide bomber detonated himself among a densely packed crowd in southern Afghanistan during a dog fighting match, killing at least 55 people and injuring 80 others. Local Kandahar health officials have counted 70 dead bodies, and claim families took away other dead bodies from the scene for a traditional quick burial making a final death toll unknown, according to an NPR report.

The intended target of the attack appears to be Abdul Hakim Jan, an anti-Taliban militia leader, who was in attendance at the event. Jan was recently appointed as the leader of the auxiliary police force in the contested Arghandab district of Kandahar province. He opposed the Taliban in the early 1990s when he served as Kandahar’s provincial police chief. Witnesses say the bomber came within 15 feet of Jan before detonating. Investigators have so far failed to find Jan’s remains but have presumed him to be dead.

Mr. Dupee does an excellent job of detailing high profile attacks in Afghanistan. It shows how the Taliban are focusing their efforts on local representatives. However, just like in Iraq, this will eventually alienate its own citizens as they see leaders representative of their beliefs killed.

Without respect to whether dog fighting is legal or moral in this country, it is obviously part of the culture in this region. Where Al Qaeda/Taliban constantly alienates themselves is in attempting to impose its will and beliefs on citizens. Individuals who do not agree with Al Qaeda/Taliban are blasted to death by suicide bombs.

It is hard to state you are obeying Muslim tradition when you kill innocent people at a dog fight, at a mosque, or at a memorial service. While we in this country may be adverse to dog fighting, it is not worth blowing up 70+ people. For these reasons alone, Al Qaeda/Taliban will continue to alienate themselves among Afghanistanis.

It must be remembered that the Taliban in Afghanistan fell in 2001 not due to overwhelming US forces in the country attacking the government but to Special Forces uniting already anti-govenment forces against the Taliban.

The Taliban/Al Qaeda was never liked by the vast majority of Afghanistanis. Indiscriminant killings currently on the increase in Afghanistan will further alienate an already alienated Afghanistani population which is why suicide bombers were for so long no employed in Afghanistan.

The fact that they are now being employed shows how desparate the situation has become for the Taliban.

For a full read, click here.

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Pressure on Sadr and the Iranian-backed Special Groups continues

From Bill Roggio at The Long War Journal.

As previously reported at The Long War Journal, US and Iraqi forces have stepped up operations against the Iranian-backed and Mahdi Army-linked Special Groups terror cells. The increase in activity comes as Muqtada al Sadr is deliberating the reinstatement or cancellation of the self-imposed cease-fire.

Mr. Roggio has an excellent analysis of current Iraqi and US forces actions on Mahdi Army linked Special Groups.

Several of the press releases ended with the standard warning to Sadr and his Mahdi Army. "We will continue to disrupt the networks of those who choose not to obey al-Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr’s ceasefire pledge. ... The people of Iraq have made it clear that they will not tolerate the criminal activities of these splinter groups." The US military is warning Sadr that ending the cease-fire will result in operations designed to dismantle the Mahdi Army. (emphasis added)

Mr. Roggio points out Sadr is in a Catch-22.

Sadr's decision to either continue or end the cease-fire has serious implications for his political movement. Ending the ceasefire puts him in the crosshairs of the US and Iraqi military, and expose the depth or shallowness of his support in the Shia community.... But extending the ceasefire may further erode Sadr's power within his political movement and the Mahdi Army.

In turn, the Iraqi and US government is not only using threat of military action and information operations against Sadr, but also beginning legal action.

The Iraqi government is also applying legal pressure on Sadr. The government will begin the trial of former Deputy Health Minister Hakim al Zamili and Brigadier General Hameed al Shimmari, who served as the chief of the ministry's security forces.

For a full read, click here.

One fact not mentioned by Mr. Roggio, but is worth noting is he cites ten recent actions against the Madhi Army (including the trial). Six of these ten incidents involved Iraqis policing their own. In only four of the incidents were US forces involved. The majority involved Iraqi government forces against Mahdi Army forces. As noted before, Iraqi forces and the government have come a long way. The Iraqi government is not ineffectual. Nor are the Iraqi Security Forces. The Surge has allowed both the government and Iraqi forces the room to grow, which was its intent.

In turn, Maliki joined forces with Sunni and Kurdish forces on 26 December 2007 when these parties signed the "memorandum of understanding". This signing allowed Maliki to reduce the influence of Sadr and paved way for national reconciliation with Ba'athist that shortly followed, recent budget resolutions, provincial elections slated for October 2008.

The Iraqi Government is coming into its own. It is becoming a vibrant democracy.

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Iraqi official to be tried for violence acts

From Alsumaria.

Firas Al Mtairi, the attorney of former deputy Health Minister Hakim Al Zameli who is accused of involvement in sectarian violence in Iraq, has affirmed that the latter will be tried this week. It is to be mentioned that Al Zameli is the first senior official accused of terrorism since the start of US war in Iraq. Al Mtairi confirmed that Al Zameli will appear with the former commander of forces appointed to protect the ministry before Al Rasafa criminal court in Baghdad next Thursday. However, Al Mtairi asserted that both defendants are innocent while the trial is politically motivated.

This trial is another first in Iraq and shows the progress of the Iraqi Government. They are beginning to police their own. This hugely important fact will lead to the establishment of another benchmark, limiting corruption.

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Iraq's Jihad Myths

From the Washington Post.

Among Democrats and even many Republicans, it is by now accepted wisdom that the war in Iraq brought huge numbers of holy warriors to the anti-American cause. But is it true? I don't think so.

Reuel Marc Gerecht elaborates further.

Regarding the Iraq war and jihadism, two facts stand out.

First, if we make a comparison with the Soviet-Afghan war of 1979-89, which was the baptismal font for al-Qaeda, what's most striking is how few foreign holy warriors have gone to Mesopotamia since the U.S. invasion in 2003....

A second striking fact about Islamism and the Iraq war is that the arrival of foreign holy warriors is deradicalizing the local population -- the exact opposite of what happened in Afghanistan.


More important, the gruesome anti-Shiite tactics of extremist groups, combined with the much-quoted statements made by former Sunni insurgents about the positive actions of the United States in Iraq, have caused a great deal of intellectual turbulence in the Arab world.

In Iraq, Salafist were indiscriminately killing Muslims. Shiite Militias were indiscriminately killing Muslims. Americans have always acted to protect both sides, functioning as the arbiters in this region. In addition, Americans continue to die to promote democracy with representation from Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. Finally, it is clear, we are not after Iraqi's oil wealth. All of these facts produced the "intellectual turbulence" seen in Iraq. The infidel (the US) gained respect while Muslims lost respect.

From a more Muslim perspective, this "intellectual turbulence" is also noticed in recent writings of Syrian sheikh 'Abd Al-Mun'im Mustafa Halima, who is also known as Abu Baseer Al-Tartousi, from his article, "On the Jihad in Iraq". He noted three points which has caused the jihad in Iraq to suffer.

1. Exaggeration of the Sins of Rival Groups

2. Use of force to settle disagreement among Jihad Groups.

3. Blindly following extremists.

While in this article, Al-Tartousi was condemning Sunni Awakening groups with his three points, his three points point clearly to Al Qaeda and created "intellectual turbulence" not only among Sunni Awakening groups in Iraq, but also among Muslims in general. When looking at these three points, it is clear the infidel (the US) is following these three points more closely than fellow Muslims.

For all the mistakes made or not made in Iraq, one thing is clear. By maintaining the moral high ground in Iraq, the US has gained powerful allies in the region and has also created "intellectual turbulence" among Muslims. For their part, many Muslim dictators are sitting out this batttle as they know that a successful democracy in Iraq will lead to their own downfall, increasing "intellectual turbulence" among Muslims in the region. The only nation which has kept up the "faith", for sake of a better term, is the US (the infidel).

When all were saying withdraw, one was saying surge. That surge has amplified the "intellectual turbulence" of Muslims and Islamic nations. That surge has started Muslims to become introspective. Instrospection is the main thing that Islam has been lacking. It is the main reason Muslims and Islam have stagnated and have not joined others in the last or current century. It is the main reason that Muslims have resorted to suicide killings which indiscriminantly kill not only infidels, but Muslims alike.

One country, America, led by one president, Bush, has caused this introspection within Islam. One coutnry, America, led by one president, Bush, took a bold step to put a democracy in the center of the Middle East.

The status quo has been forever changed in the Middle East. Islam is becoming introspective. A democratic nation has been planted in the center of the Middle East. Freedom and democracy is now possible for all Muslims. Al Qaeda on the otherhand only offers death and despair.

At times it is hard to accept change, especially when the change that is most needed is offered by an infidel. This very fact is creating the "intellectual turbulence" being observed within Islam. Christianity caused this "intellectual turbelence" in Judaism 2000 years ago and forever changed this religion. Two thousand years later, Christianity is doing the same for Islam. I am sure Jesus Christ would be proud of what his religion has done for the world. I am sure that Jesus Christ would be proud of America and its President.

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Kosovo declares independence from Serbia

From Yahoo via the AP.

Revelers fired guns, waved red-and-black Albanian flags and set off fireworks over Kosovo Sunday after parliament proclaimed independence in defiance of Serbia and Russia, which condemned the declaration of the world's newest nation

A decade after a bloody separatist war with Serbian forces that claimed 10,000 lives, lawmakers pronounced the territory the Republic of Kosovo and pledged to make it a "democratic, multiethnic state." Its leaders looked for swift recognition from the U.S. and key European powers — but also braced for a bitter showdown.

For a full read, click here.

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US troops build forts in Al Qaeda’s stronghold

From Dawn.

US military engineers are defying nightly attacks in a race to build forts in devastated districts of downtown Mosul ahead of what has been billed as the next key battle against Al Qaeda in Iraq.

As night fell over the war-torn city on Saturday a huge convoy of dump trucks escorted by American tanks and armoured personnel carriers flowed out from Mosul’s main US base towards one of the city’s most violent districts.

The battle for Mosul continues as US and Iraqi forces continue to establish more of a presence in the city.

For a full read, click here.

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America's Three Worst Presidents

From Ari Kaufman writing for the American Thinker.

Presidents Day has taken a deep back seat these days on our holiday calendar to the point that not only do schools go on as scheduled, but so do many state and government offices. This is not surprising in 2008, and many revel in it. Presidents Day now celebrates all presidents, not just our greatest. That being the case, let's "celebrate," or at least recall, the three worst presidents in our country's otherwise proud history.

This article is extremely interesting and goes to the heart of this blog's subtitle: Perspective, Perception, Paradigms, and Reality. These subtitle words were chosen carefully and purposely ordered. Defining these words is important and expresses how this blog makes inferences to gain an understanding of what is real.


a. The ability to perceive things in their actual interrelations or comparative importance.

b. Subjective evaluation of relative significance; a point of view.

Two definitions are given here because the first definition portends to be objective while the other is purely subjective. The first definition makes us examine how different events in history lead to an event. The second definition focuses instead on the event itself.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voters Rights Act of 1965 were passed under the presidency of LBJ. A closer examination (given in the article cited above) accurately reflect they were originally conservative legislation that were blocked by liberal Democrats. In fact, when they were finally passed, more Republicans voted for these laws than did Democrats. However, liberal Democrats are today still given credit for passage of these laws.

By the same token, 9/11 occurred on President Bush's watch. Therefore, it is purely his fault. This perspective is a subjective point of view which upon closer examination of actual interrelations, does not bear truth.


a. the act or faculty of apprehending by means of the senses or of the mind; cognition; understanding.

b. the representation of what is perceived; basic component in the formation of a concept.

Again, two definitions are given here. The first portends to scientific analysis to arrive at a conclusion. The second definition only involves cursory observation.

Unfortunately today, the MSM has a tendency to give only cursory observation to events and does not analyze events in their full context.

As noted in the article cited above, The Civil War occurred under President Lincoln's watch and is therefore his fault. However, an examination of the facts shows he inherited southern secession due to the inaction of his predecessor, President Buchanan.

Detailed examination of events leading up to 9/11 also show that President Bush inherited this event from the inaction of his predecessors. However, most people believe (or are under the perception) the 9/11 attacks were a response to President Bush's policies.


A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline. One that serves as a pattern or model.

The outcome of the two preceding words (perspective and perception) come together to be one's paradigm or model for world events. While now only one definition, two paradigms are possible. One paradigm is based on accurate perspective and perception. The other is based on faulty perspective and perception.

Man-made global warming is a perfect example of two versions of the same paradigm. Does an increase in carbon dioxide result in global warming or does global warming result in an increased outgasing of carbon dioxide? It depends on one's paradigm. Does variation of sun spots from the big bright ball in the sky have any effect on global warming? Interestingly enough, not according to climate models which keep radiation from the sun constant in climate models. Yet, even rudimentary observations show Venus, which is 28% closer to the sun than the Earth, is involved in a runaway greenhouse effect with an average temperature of 4670C while Mars, being 34% further from the sun, is a cold desolate planet with an average temperature of -550C.

Reality: something that constitutes a real or actual thing, as distinguished from something that is merely apparent.

These three words above (perspective, perception, and paradigms) bring us to reality.

The Civil War occurred on President Lincoln's watch; therefore, it is his fault. This same statement is erroneous when examined more closely.

Democrats has given us the many popular reforms to include the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Act of 1965. Again, this statement does not accurately reflect reality, but is the perceived reality.

9/11 occurred on President Bush's watch; therefore, it is his fault. This erroneous statement is something that is merely apparent and does not constitute a real or actual thing.

Global Warming is caused by man-made carbon dioxide production. Again, we have a case here of erroneous cause and effect as for most of the Earth's history (dating back to 600 million years) the average temperature has been about 210C and is actually cooler now than in most of its history.

As a scientist I was taught, if one item disproves a hypothesis, it is an invalid hypothesis. Unfortunately today, many scientists and sociologists use erroneous points of views (perspectives), subjective concepts (perceptions), and faulty models (paradigms) as a basis for their hypotheses. In addition, when their hypotheses are shown to be invalid ,they often ignore reality.

An example of this phenomenon is also seen in The Surge of US forces in Iraq. While it has clearly reduced violence in Iraq, many liberals either ignore the reality and continue with their distorted reality. One may state that continued, while reduced, violence (one item) disproves The Surge has worked. This one item does not disprove the fact The Surge has worked. Instead, it actually leads one to hypothesize more troops will further reduce violence. In addition, the corollary is also apparent. Less troops (a withdraw) in 2007 would have increased violence.

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U.S.–Pakistan Relations: Assassination, Instability, and the Future of U.S. Policy

From The Heritage Foundation.

Conventional wisdom holds that in this part of the world stability and democracy are mutually exclusive. But in the case of Pakistan, it is increasingly clear that holding fair and transparent elections provides the best chance for stabilizing the country. Ultimately, a popularly elected civilian government working hand-in-hand with a strong military focused on its primary mission of battling extremists will provide stability and security for the Pakistani people.

Lisa Curtis delivers an excellent lecture on the way forward in Pakistan.

For a full read, click here.

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The History and Meaning of 'Palestine' and 'Palestinian'

From the American Thinker. A concise and accurate history of the land Arabs call Falestine is written by Michael Bussio.

There has never been a Palestinian state in the history of the region. Palestine has never existed as an autonomous entity. There is no language known as Palestinian. There is no distinct Palestinian culture. There has never been a land known as Palestine governed by Palestinians.

The "so-called" Palestinians are Arabs, indistinguishable from Jordanians (another recent invention), Syrians, Lebanese, Egyptians, etc. Even the name Palestine came from the Roman Emperor Hadrian around 135 A.D. after Rome put down yet another Jewish revolt. The Emperor, increasingly angered by the rebellious nature of Judah, Judea, and Samaria, became determined to break the back of the stiff-necked Jews once and for all. When asked who the Jews most ardent enemies of the distant past were, the Emperor was told the Philistines; thus the name Palestina, which would later be morphed into the word Palestine.

This article is a great read for anybody wishing to understand the real history of this region.

For a full read, click here.

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