Middle East

Tuesday, 10 July 2007 20:00 Roni Ben Efrat Editorial Dept - Middle East

June 5, 2007 marked forty years of Israeli Occupation. Five days later Hamas began its conquest of Gaza, and on June 14, PA President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah formally dissolved the unity government. After forty years, Israel has finally succeeded in breaking the Palestinian national project.

Defeating the Fatah apparatus of Muhammad Dahlan, the Hamas fighters committed war crimes, aimed at warning other potential nests of opposition. The surviving Dahlan loyalists escaped from the Strip with Israel's assistance. Israelis take a grim satisfaction in the new Palestinian tragedy, but in this they remain as short-sighted as ever: their country's national/colonial enterprise cannot long survive without a viable Palestinian counterpart that accepts its legitimacy.

One outcome of the violence is that Abbas—also known as Abu Mazen—has performed his own disengagement from Gaza. He voices no interest, for now at least, in finding common ground with Hamas. Another outcome is clarity of line: after the start of the second Intifada in September 2000, Palestinian discourse became blurred, with Hamas adopting nationalist language and Fatah religious. Now the ruler of the West Bank is Fatah, anchored in the secular, Israeli, pro-American camp, while the ruler of Gaza is Hamas—militant, anti-American, Islamist, isolated from the Western world.

Wednesday, 04 July 2007 20:00 Sheharyar Shaikh Editorial Dept - Middle East

And it happened.

A few days ago Mr. Tarek Fatah, a media-prominent Muslim activist and a “moderate” Muslim, received his death threat from an unknown voice on his answering machine. The man threatened to kill Mr. Fatah for “smearing Islam”.

One thing is certain. One of the two persons has only hurt Islam and Muslims with a show of sheer idiocy, irresponsibility, and a big mouth – not to mention his utter ignorance of the Islamic law. (No, I am not talking about Mr. Fatah).

Of course, in reference to this threat-call, we will be constantly reminded by Mr. Fatah for the next few years of the shadowy dangers lurking around him as he heroically battles the deadly Muslim extremists who are a just a hair-breadth close to bringing down the entire nation… or the globe.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007 20:00 Sheharyar Shaikh Editorial Dept - Middle East

In one of Aesop’s fables, it so goes that all the city mice got together in a council meeting in order to seek ways to protect themselves from a neighborhood cat. After a long and heated discussion they finally agreed upon the idea of tying a bell around the cat’s neck while she is asleep so the bell’s sound would alert the unsuspecting mouse of the cat’s approaching presence. Roar of cheers and applaud followed the consensual approval of this brilliant idea. Then, suddenly, one old mouse raised the question: “But who will bell the cat?” Unable to find a willing volunteer to tie the bell around the cat’s neck, all mice eventually melted away in shameful silence.

I appreciated the moral of the above story only after I attended the Muslim Strategy Meeting chaired by Dr. Muhammed al-Masri, the President of CIC, on Monday, 3rd July, at Zafar Bangash’s Islamic Society of York region’s community center. The purpose of the 6-hr meeting was to think of challenges facing the Canadian Muslims and come up with short and long term action plans. The 60 or so attendees formed 10 groups consisting of at least 5 members per group and brainstormed for an hour, the results of which would be shared with everyone in the end.

I had expected that it would be a serious gathering of Muslim community leaders who, after deliberating the problems of the Muslim community, would chart concrete plans and distribute duties and responsibilities to appropriate individuals whose progress towards the agreed-upon targets would then be reviewed in successive meetings.

Monday, 05 February 2007 20:00 Leon T Editorial Dept - Middle East

This week marks the seventh anniversary of Pervez Musharraf's rise to the leadership of Pakistan. He didn’t actually rise but take over and what is unusual about his coup d'etat, is the fact that he's still in power. Pakistani politics is rife with military coups over its history and Musharaff's military takeover of the country didn't really startle anyone in 1999.

But times have changed and with it, Pakistan's location became very important to the United States. This was particularly true after 9/11 and there lies the mystery.

When he first took power, Musharraf was often seen in full military uniform or khakis and rarely in a suit. It was an image he wanted to project to the people and the world as someone in charge; someone in control after all the fuss with India in what was commonly known as the Kargil Conflict of 1999. At the time, Musharraf was in charge of the Army and anyone who knows anything about takeovers knows that the army is a very effective tool in any coup d'etats. You need the tanks and soldiers and rifles to takeover and if necessary, take out the leader of the country. For Musharraf, this action came easily and bloodless, so nobody raised an eyebrow.

So now, Musharraf wears a suit and writes a dubious memoir and tries to present himself as a diplomat and rational leader. How quaint.


Sunday, 28 January 2007 20:00 Zafar Aslam Editorial Dept - Middle East

The following is the statement issued by the Central Secretariat of the Communist Mazdoor Kissan Party Pakistan on the execution of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein:

With deep sense of outrage and grief, the Central Secretariat of the Communist Workers-Peasants Party Pakistan (CMKP) strongly condemns the most savage, illegal and immoral execution of the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by an illegal court constituted on the order of US imperialism.

The biased judgment of the Iraqi court under the control of US occupation forces is not acceptable to the people of the world. The US has created another crime by hanging former Iraqi President after its (US) invasion of Iraq and the killing of about six hundred thousand Iraqi people for which US President G.W.Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair need to be brought to International Court of Justice for the trial of their crimes. The United States is worlds greatest rogue and terrorist country but the United Nations remains failure to bring the US President Bush to the book.


Thursday, 25 January 2007 20:00 Sheharyar Shaikh Editorial Dept - Middle East

Imagine a desert Arab from the time of the Prophet being transported and brought into our world skipping the fourteen-hundred year expanse in between. What would he see, hear and notice and how would he react to what he’d notice? He would gaze wide-eyed at the swiftly flying planes, fast-moving cars and behold marvelously the everyday technological tools like cellular phones, TVs, elevators, light bulbs and computer laptops.

He would probably wander aimlessly in a stupefying daze inside a mega-shopping mall touching each and everything with his hand in an attempt to grasp its reality. After a few month period of euphoric discovery however I imagine that he would feel badly out of place in our world. I imagine that he would want to return to the austere desert environment and his tribal family where his existence had meant something to the people around him as had their existence to him; a place where his daily role in society was acknowledged and appreciated.

What humanity has done to scientific knowledge and technological progress in recent years is widely appreciated – less so is what the latter has done to humanity itself. We tend to overestimate how the innovative breakthroughs of scientific research and ingenuity have enriched our lives, but tend not to reflect as much on how they have impoverished us at the same time in other ways.

Let us now visit a nomadic tribe in the Prophetic Arabia. Each tribe was a tightly-knit family that lived and struggled together. Everyone knew everyone else. The harsh environment daily faced instilled in them deep impressions of their own vulnerabilities and limitations. A sudden bout of drought, epidemic, or an enemy raid was all that was needed to efface life-long friends and loved ones. 


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