The Supreme Court verdict on September 28, dismissing several petitions challenging General Musharraf’s attempt to contest presidential polls while retaining his army post, has dealt a severe blow to the opposition’s hopes of preventing him from continuing his rule. There was an immediate adverse reaction on the streets; the police resorted to their customary brutality, attacking lawyers, political opponents and journalists, and a number of cameras were smashed. Protests continued as Crescent International went to press, amid signs that though the verdict might have brought some respite to Musharraf, Pakistan’s troubles are far from over.
For those who spend time observing and analyzing the US’s policy toward Iran objectively, it is commonplace to point out that there always seem to be two entirely different trends to developments, which point in different directions and yet maintain an uneasy co-existence. This understanding is based on both what is happening now with regards to Iran, and parallels with what happened a few years ago, in the build-up to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The reasons for the current political turmoil in Pakistan are not difficult to see. We have a government, led by Pervez Musharraf, that has been utterly discredited by its subservience to the United States of America, which is regarded as a sworn enemy by the majority of Pakistan’s people, and by its willingness to wage war on its own people at the US’s behest. And we have opposition politicians angling to replace Musharraf who have no more credibility because of their own records in power in the past, and the fact that they too are perfectly willing – even eager – to kowtow to the US in order to secure their own position.
There are more than 56 Muslim nation-States in the world today, yet few would register on an informed Muslim’s radar screen as being particularly significant. What determines a country’s importance relative to others? Before answering this question, let us first list those that would probably make the top grade without assigning any specific order to them: Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Malaysia, Indonesia and Lebanon.
The imperialist monster is disrupting its own international order. Even the laws of its own heartland are no longer the rules that are supposed to govern its activities. The United States has been trying to jump-start a worldwide diplomatic initiative that will result in military action against Islamic Iran by ignoring the findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and by forcing European and Asian governments to line up with US strategy vis a vis Islamic Iran.
For a little while last month, as Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prepared to address the American people in a series of media opportunities and a high-profile speech at Columbia University during his visit to New York to address the General Assembly of the UN, it appeared that we were back in the days when former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami was championing “dialogue between civilizations”, to the delight of Western liberals who hoped that the “reformists” might bring Iran back into the West’s sphere of influence – their definition of civilization.
Nine years after he was dismissed, arrested, beaten and brought to the trial that displayed the utter corruption of Malaysia’s judiciary, former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, now a leader of the opposition, seems to have got something on a silver plate on September 19.
The roadside bomb last month that killed the leader of the Anbar Salvation Council (ASC), Shaykh Abd al-Sattar Abu Risha, near his home just outside Ramadi, the capital of the Iraqi province of Anbar, was more than a mere decapitation of an Iraqi leader who had turned against al-Qa’ida in Mesopotamia. It highlighted the widening chasm between the salafist insurgent group, whose fortunes have for months been staggered by the US troop build-up, and some of its former allies among the Sunni Arab tribes, and dealt a setback to one of the few success stories in the Iraqi counter-insurgency efforts.
King Mohammed VI, who succeeded his father in 1999, has adopted a multi-party political system that ensures that no one party can secure a majority clear majority of seats in parliament: the result is always a government consisting of a coalition of rival parties. This coalition is much easier to control, and it is in charge of a parliament with insignificant powers. Under the current rules, the king also has the right to appoint the prime minister and four ministers with powerful portfolios, without any reference to the weight of their parties in parliament.
While 40 senior officials of the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood) were being dragged through the Egyptian courts, four editors were recently fined and sentenced to a year’s imprisonment for defaming president Husni Mubarak and his son Gamal. That the action against the editors was as misconceived and miscalculated as the crackdown on the Ikhwan was demonstrated by the defiance of the editors and the escalation of press attacks on both Mubarak and Gamal.
What is the key constituency whose support all rulers of Pakistan desperately seek and need? Considering that Pakistan is looking forward to a supposed return to democracy, one might be forgiven for thinking that the answer to this question lay somewhere among Paksitan’s long-suffering people. Alternatively, bearing in mind the role that the military has played in politics for much of Pakistan’s 60-year history, thoughts might turn to the army and the officer corps.
The preliminary hearings into the terrorism-related charges against 14 Muslim youths that should have determined whether they should be tried took a bizarre turn on September 24 when the prosecution abruptly halted proceedings. Crown attorneys wanted instead to go directly to trial. Defence lawyers were appalled at such “abuse of process” and described prosecution tactics as a “disgrace”.
The last thing a Muslim country like Somalia – which has been in the grip of turmoil and lawlessness for 16 years and is now under occupation by Ethiopian and US forces – needs is intervention in its turbulent affairs by Muslim governments, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, that are allies of the US and back its anti-Islamic programme in the Horn of Africa. Yet that is exactly what took place in mid-September, when three top leaders of the so-called Somali interim government (IG) and 300 clan heads (warlords, most of them) gathered in Jeddah and signed a “national reconciliation pact”, as the minority accord was presented.
On September 25, Iranian president Mahmood Ahmadinejad addressed the General Assembly of the UN. Here we reprint a slightly abridged translation of text of his address.
Blackwater: the rise of the world’s most powerful mercenary army by Jeremy Scahill. Nation Books, New York, 2007.Pp: 464. Hbk: $26.95.