Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Taliban “Spring Offensive” – Beginning of a civil war or a New Afghanistan?

Usamah Bin Laden is dead, along with most of Al-Qaeda’s leadership; Anwar al-Awlaki is also dead, and after a decade of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Arabs are calling for freedom and democracy on the streets. A suitable time for reflection, and one would expect the Taliban to reflect on the strategy of armed struggle to impose Sharia laws with an iron fist as a way forward. But, it seems business as usual for them, and so they began their “spring offensive” last week, the biggest offensive for a decade on Kabul, targeting the British, US and German embassies as well as the parliament building and the NATO military camp. Concurrently, 100 Taliban fighters attacked a prison inside Pakistan releasing about 400 Taliban fighters.

For sure the current regime in Afghanistan has the stamp ‘made in USA’ with a sell by date - it is very fragile. The US is keen to withdraw its forces sooner, rather than later, as it is forced to cut its war budget facing a mountain of debt. This is all building up to a significant turning point in Afghanistan, and a good time for the various parties to consider about bringing peace and prosperity for all in the country. However, the signs look ominous with the Taliban offensive. In anticipation of the vacuum that will be left by the vacating US forces, the various factions seeking to protect tribal interests may engage militarily, eventually descending back to civil war. 

Saturday, 21 April 2012

War Trophies from Afghanistan: A Clash of Morals

The awful pictures, published in the Los Angeles Times, show US soldiers posing with the remains of dead Afghans. For sure they have an audience in their military bases and back at home; such people must be consumed with immense hate to take pleasure from such macabre images. Similar pictures have also surfaced earlier, including a video showing US Marines urinating on dead Afghans. Then followed the Anders Breivik like killing rampage, by a lone US soldier; 17 innocent and defenceless civilians, including women and 9 children were murdered in cold blood. All these examples show an underlying trend; deep contempt for the Afghans, which correlate with the xenophobic and racist culture that runs deep within US history. 

There is a history behind the ‘art’ of collecting parts of mutilated dead bodies as war trophies. During the Vietnam War, some U.S. soldiers collected skulls of Vietnamese soldiers. Similarly in World War II, teeth and skulls of dead Japanese service personnel were commonly taken and sent home. Their ancestors, who migrated from Europe, engaged in taking scalps from dead Native Americans as trophies.

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Monday, 16 April 2012

Wife Beating, Secular Feminism and Sharia

The recent case [1] of a battered British woman made headlines; her lover broke her jaw and nose, then her eyes were gouged out - it sounds like a horror flick. Only the bare facts got reported, as if it was just an isolated incident; there was very little analysis given in the media. There was hardly any mention of the man’s background, his ethnicity or religion, and no mention if he had any ideological affiliation, and nothing to indicate how widespread domestic violence is in the UK.

Media analysis is often tacit; by dropping hints of religious or ethnic background of the perpetrator, and selectively citing out other similar cases it paints a general picture, indicating the source of the problem.  For sure, that would have been the case, had the man been of a foreign complexion with a name like Ahmed, instead of Shane; the Islamophobes and closet racists would have argued that this wife-beating episode is another example proving that it is an Islamic phenomenon. Such Melanie Phillips like analysis usually gets endorsed by nasty comments found below it.  

Domestic violence is almost universal; it is just as prevalent, if not more, in countries that claim to be spearheading women’s rights. It is amusing to see countries like the US raising such issues, whilst it’s blind to the rapists filling the ranks of its army [2] and homes. In a survey [3], two-thirds of teenage men said they would commit date-rape if they could get away with it. Yet these types of men were sent to Afghanistan and Iraq to liberate women! 

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Afghanistan: War, Tribalism and Opium

The primary justification for the Afghan invasion was to eradicate Al-Qaeda, and promises were made to rebuild Afghanistan with a representative government, creating political stability and economic prosperity. For sure, Al-Qaeda has been dismantled substantially if not completely, with most of its leaders including Usamah Bin Laden dead.

However, there is very little progress made on the political front, primarily due to the failure to bring the dominant Pashtun based Taliban to the table. The political process is further exasperated by the criminal actions of the US-led forces: the frequent killings of innocent civilians, urinating on dead Afghans, and the burning of the Quran are just some examples from a long list. Consequently, the attitudes of ordinary Afghans towards the Americans have progressively hardened, along with a growing distrust of the Afghan security forces.  

Monday, 9 April 2012

Rashid al-Ghannushi, George Galloway and the Radical Fringe

“I am a better Pakistani than Hussain (the pro-war Labour candidate) will ever be”  George Galloway

The election victory of Rashid al-Ghannushi in Tunisia and the recent victory of George Galloway in the Bradford by-election have been scorned, by the anti-Islamic extremist brigade; the usual suspects are the likes of Melanie Phillips, Douglas Murray, the infamous Daily Mail tabloid and of course the far-right fascists. Since Galloway and Gannushi were elected by the masses in a free and fair election, does this mean, the democratic process of free election a bad thing now? When hate governs the heart, principles become irrelevant as long as you can hurt those you despise; where the end justifies the means.

However, for different reasons, the anti-Islamic brigade has found alliance amongst the Muslims - the radical fringe; they express criticism of George Galloway, because he is viewed as a rival stealing the leadership of the Muslim community, and they scorn Rashid al-Ghannushi for not turning Tunisia into a Caliphate overnight. The radical fringe cannot take leadership because they propose that Muslims should keep out of the political process in the UK, and then moan about the adverse outcome, as the best way forward! And conveniently they do not participate in the election process as they would most likely fail miserably, nor have they managed to mobilise the masses to an alternative course of action.

Their first port of complaint is that George Galloway is not a Muslim, and thus should not be trusted to represent the Muslim community; this only depicts their childish mindset. The rival Labour candidate, Imran Hussain, is a Muslim and pro-war. Moreover, almost all the Muslim MPs to date have turned out like nasty coolies serving in the British Raj. In contrast, apart from George Galloway, many other non-Muslim MPs have been better representatives of the Muslims in the UK, on domestic and foreign issues.