This year’s spring has arrived with the Americans singing a new tune about Afghanistan: the Taliban cannot be defeated militarily. While this was obvious for quite some time to most observers familiar with the Afghan scene, the Americans being slow learners needed extra time to grasp this reality. From US PresidentBarack Obama down, most Americans are now singing from the same page.
April marks a grim milestone in Afghanistan’s tortuous history. On April 27, 1978 the country was plunged into crisis following a Marxist-led military coup in which President Sardar Daud and virtually his entire family was killed. An internal uprising followed leading to the Soviet invasion of December 27, 1979.
In the March 9 issue of Newsweek magazine, Fareed Zakaria, the magazine’s editor and formerly both an adviser to the Bush administration on US policy in the Middle East and a cheerleader for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, published an article under the heading “Learning to Live with Radical Islam” and the tagline “It’s time to stop treating all Islamists as potential terrorists”.
US President Barack Obama’s Nowruz video message to “the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran” on March 20 created quite a stir globally but it did not impress Iran’s leadership, its intended audience. The reasons are clear but first let us look at some of the positive aspects of Obama’s message. He is perhaps the first US president to address the country by its correct name: the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Every day brings more bad news about the state of the US economy, and indeed that of much of the rest of the world. Not only is America’s economy the largest in the world, its currency—the dollar—is also the global reserve currency with 63 percent of the world’s central bank reserves held in dollars.
If it were another government it would have caved in by now, but the heavenward Islamic government in the world has survived. The Islamic Republic of Iran, whatever one’s view of it, has weathered political pandemonium, economic earthquakes, and media twisters the likes of which we have not witnessed. This is a government and leadership with a people and population extending beyond its geographical frontiers.
In the ongoing political drama that has played out over the last decade, more so since the opposition’s impressive gains in last year’s general elections, the government imposed a three-month ban on one of the country’s most widely circulated newspaper, Harakah, the bilingual voice of the Islamic Party (PAS), which now controls two of the five states the opposition alliance captured last year.
Israeli soldiers. That the Palestinians, the direct victims of Israel’s crimes, and much of the rest of the world knew this because this was so clearly evident from television footage provided by Al-Jazeera and Press TV, Israel and its apologists, especially in the West, continued to insist that Israel not only had the “right” to defend itself against Hamas rockets (regardless of how ineffectual they were) but that Zionist Israel carried its operations with utmost regard to civilian life.
If someone mentioned spiritual poverty in Saudi Arabia, it would surprise few given the rigid literalist Wahhabi ideology that is imposed on people in the archaic kingdom. After all, women are prohibited from driving and the mutawwa, religious police go around beating people for no apparent reason except that these religious zealots presume people are not following their literalist ideology.
Pakistan may have averted a major political crisis when Asif Ali Zardari, besieged in the presidential palace in Islamabad, agreed to the demand of lawyers and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif to reinstate the deposed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, but it would be premature to state that its troubles are over.
The latest crisis in Sudan began on March 14, when the international criminal court (ICC) in the Hague indicted President Omar al-Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, and issued a warrant for his arrest. Bashir is being held responsible for crimes allegedly committed by his command in the Western region of Darfur, since 2003, by security forces and allied groups said to be “Arab”, financed by the regime to suppress “non-Arab ethnic insurgents”.
Elections in Iran, whether local, parliamentary or presidential, are never dull but this year’s presidential elections are beginning to take on a decidedly more exciting tone. In addition to the incumbent, President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, being in the race, two other leading figures have indicated they will contest the polls: Ayatullah Mehdi Karoubi, and Mir Husain Mousavi.
The democratic bug has spread so far and wide that even dictators are infected by it and find it useful to strengthen their grip on power. They use the democracy card to convince opponents that they respect the wishes of the people while they subvert the process so much that it makes mockery of the whole exercise. The subversion process starts with denying opposition candidates the opportunity to run for office. Electoral boundaries are manipulated to disadvantage opponents.
“You’re going to remember this day for the rest of your life” — these words were uttered by anti-terror police officers to intimidate and terrify British Muslim Babar Ahmad during the brutal assault inflicted upon him in a pre-dawn raid on his home on December 2, 2003. They were right; Ahmad never forgot that day and spent the last five years struggling to ensure that it would live in the memories of the British public forever.
Hundreds of delegates from around the world participated in the Fourth International Conference in Tehran (March 4–6, 2009) in Support of Palestine: the Model of Resistance, and Ghazzah: the Victim of War Crimes. The following is the address by the Rahbar, IMAM SEYYED ALI KHAMENEI on 6th of Rabi‘ al-Awwal, 1430 AH.
What or who constitutes the Muslim Ummah and what problems does it face? In Part I, ZAFAR BANGASH, director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought, offers some reflections on the issue.