What is the son of an “Islamic scholar” doing in America’s largest news rooms?
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â InfiltrationÂ Watch
* It is outrageous that this smarmy, slick little Islamo-agit prop from Newsweak has not been shaken out of his tree yet. For years taqiyya spin-meister Fareed Zakaria has been hard at work behind enemy lines to muddle the waters, to deceive, to confuse, to ridicule the opponents of Islam with his false analogies and fake equivocations, and not one of America’s talking heads has taken him to task for peddling enemy propaganda.Â
Learning to Live With Radical Islam
“We don’t have to accept the stoning of criminals. But it’s time to stop treating all Islamists as potential terrorists.”
* Note the choice of words:Â “We don’t have to accept the stoning of criminals”- which means Â adulterous females are criminals under the sharia.Â Zakaria sounds just like Tariq Ramadan:Â “conditions aren’t right for the implementation of sharia.Â We don’t have to accept it just yet, but wait till we have critical mass…/ed)
“The Mullah’s are your friends… lets be nice to them and everything will be just swell…”
Pakistan’s Swat valley is quiet once again. Often compared to Switzerland for its stunning landscape of mountains and meadows, Swat became a war zone over the past two years as Taliban fighters waged fierce battles against Army troops. No longer, but only because the Pakistani government has agreed to some of the militants’ key demands, chiefly that Islamic courts be established in the region. Fears abound that this means women’s schools will be destroyed, movies will be banned and public beheadings will become a regular occurrence.
The militants are bad people and this is bad news. But the more difficult question is, what should weâ€”the outside worldâ€”do about it? That we are utterly opposed to such people, and their ideas and practices, is obvious. But how exactly should we oppose them? In Pakistan and Afghanistan, we have done so in large measure by attacking themâ€”directly with Western troops and Predator strikes, and indirectly in alliance with Pakistani and Afghan forces. Is the answer to pour in more of our troops, train more Afghan soldiers, ask that the Pakistani military deploy more battalions, and expand the Predator program to hit more of the bad guys? Perhapsâ€”in some cases, emphatically yesâ€”but I think it’s also worth stepping back and trying to understand the phenomenon of Islamic radicalism.
What is a black racist Marxist Muslim doing in the White House?
It is not just in the Swat valley that Islamists are on the rise. In Afghanistan the Taliban have been gaining ground for the past two years as well. In Somalia last week, Al-Shabab, a local group of Islamic militants, captured yet another town from government forces. Reports from Nigeria to Bosnia to Indonesia show that Islamic fundamentalists are finding support within their communities for their agenda, which usually involves the introduction of some form of Shariaâ€”Islamic lawâ€”reflecting a puritanical interpretation of Islam. No music, no liquor, no smoking, no female emancipation.
The groups that advocate these policies are ugly, reactionary forces that will stunt their countries and bring dishonor to their religion. But not all these Islamists advocate global jihad, host terrorists or launch operations against the outside worldâ€”in fact, most do not. Consider, for example, the most difficult example, the Taliban. The Taliban have done all kinds of terrible things in Afghanistan. But so far, no Afghan Taliban has participated at any significant level in a global terrorist attack over the past 10 yearsâ€”including 9/11. There are certainly elements of the Taliban that are closely associated with Al Qaeda. But the Taliban is large, and many factions have little connection to Osama bin Laden. Most Taliban want Islamic rule locally, not violent jihad globally.
How would you describe Faisal Ahmad Shinwari, a judge in Afghanistan? He has banned women from singing on television and called for an end to cable television altogether. He has spoken out against women and men being educated in the same schools at any age. He has upheld the death penalty for two journalists who were convicted of blasphemy. (Their crime: writing that Afghanistan’s turn toward Islam was “reactionary.”) Shinwari sounds like an Islamic militant, right? Actually, he was appointed chief justice of the Afghan Supreme Court after the American invasion, administered Hamid Karzai’s oath of office and remained in his position until three years ago.
Were he to hold Western, liberal views, Shinwari would have little credibility within his country. The realityâ€”for the worse, in my viewâ€”is that radical Islam has gained a powerful foothold in the Muslim imagination. It has done so for a variety of complex reasons that I have written about before. But the chief reason is the failure of Muslim countries to develop, politically or economically. Look at Pakistan. It cannot provide security, justice or education for many of its citizens. Its elected politicians have spent all of their time in office conspiring to have their opponents thrown in jail and their own corruption charges tossed out of court. As a result, President Asif Ali Zardari’s approval rating barely a month into office was around half that enjoyed by President Pervez Musharraf during most of his term. The state is losing legitimacy as well as the capacity to actually govern.
Consider Swat. The valley was historically a peaceful place that had autonomy within Pakistan (under a loose federal arrangement) and practiced a moderate version of Sharia in its courts. In 1969 Pakistan’s laws were formally extended to the region. Over the years, the new courts functioned poorly, with long delays, and were plagued by corruption. Dysfunctional rule meant that the government lost credibility. Some people grew nostalgic for the simple, if sometimes brutal, justice of the old Sharia courts. A movement demanding their restitution began in the early 1990s, and Benazir Bhutto’s government signed an agreement to reintroduce some aspects of the Sharia court system with Sufi Muhammed, the same cleric with whom the current government has struck a deal. (The Bhutto arrangement never really worked, and the protests started up again in a few years.) Few people in the valley would say that the current truce is their preferred outcome. In the recent election, they voted for a secular party. But if the secularists produce chaos and corruption, people settle for order.
The militants who were battling the Army (led by Sufi Muhammed’s son-in-law) have had to go along with the deal. The Pakistani government is hoping that this agreement will isolate the jihadists and win the public back to its side. This may not work, but at least it represents an effort to divide the camps of the Islamists between those who are violent and those who are merely extreme.
Over the past eight years such distinctions have been regarded as naive. In the Bush administration’s original view, all Islamist groups were one and the same; any distinctions or nuances were regarded as a form of appeasement. If they weren’t terrorists themselves, they were probably harboring terrorists. But how to understand Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the countries “harbor” terrorists but are not themselves terrorist states?
To be clear, where there are Qaeda cells and fighters, force is the only answer. But most estimates of the number of Qaeda fighters in Pakistan range well under a few thousand. Are those the only people we are bombing? Is bombingâ€”by Americansâ€”the best solution? The Predator strikes have convinced much of the local population that it’s under attack from America and produced a nationalist backlash. A few Qaeda operatives die, but public support for the battle against extremism drops in the vital Pashtun areas of Pakistan. Is this a good exchange?
We have placed ourselves in armed opposition to Muslim fundamentalists stretching from North Africa to Indonesia, which has made this whole enterprise feel very much like a clash of civilizations, and a violent one at that. Certainly, many local despots would prefer to enlist the American armed forces to defeat their enemies, some of whom may be jihadists but others may not. Across the entire North African region, the United States and other Western powers are supporting secular autocrats who claim to be battling Islamist opposition forces. In return, those rulers have done little to advance genuine reform, state building or political openness. In Algeria, after the Islamists won an election in 1992, the military staged a coup, the Islamists were banned and a long civil war ensued in which 200,000 people died. The opposition has since become more militant, and where once it had no global interests, some elements are now aligned with Al Qaeda.
Events have taken a different course in Nigeria, where the Islamists came to power locally. After the end of military rule in 1999, 12 of Nigeria’s 36 states chose to adopt Sharia. Radical clerics arrived from the Middle East to spread their draconian interpretation of Islam. Religious militias such as the Hisbah of Kano state patrolled the streets, attacking those who shirked prayers, disobeyed religious dress codes or drank alcohol. Several women accused of adultery were sentenced to death by stoning. In 2002 The Weekly Standard decried “the Talibanization of West Africa” and worried that Nigeria, a “giant of sub-Saharan Africa,” could become “a haven for Islamism, linked to foreign extremists.”
But when The New York Times sent a reporter to Kano state in late 2007, she found an entirely different picture from the one that had been fretted over by State Department policy analysts. “The Islamic revolution that seemed so destined to transform northern Nigeria in recent years appears to have come and gone,” the reporter, Lydia Polgreen, concluded. The Hisbah had become “little more than glorified crossing guards” and were “largely confined to their barracks and assigned anodyne tasks like directing traffic and helping fans to their seats at soccer games.” The widely publicized sentences of mutilation and stoning rarely came to pass (although floggings were common). Other news reports have confirmed this basic picture.
Residents hadn’t become less religious; mosques still overflowed with the devout during prayer time, and virtually all Muslim women went veiled. But the government had helped push Sharia in a tamer direction by outlawing religious militias; the regular police had no interest in enforcing the law’s strictest tenets. In addition, over time some of the loudest proponents of Sharia had been exposed as hypocrites. Some were under investigation for embezzling millions.
We have an instant, violent reaction to anyone who sounds like an Islamic bigot. This is understandable. Many IslamistsÂ areÂ bigots, reactionaries and extremists (others are charlatans and opportunists). But this can sometimes blind us to the ways they might prove useful in the broader struggle against Islamic terror. The Bush administration spent its first term engaged in a largely abstract, theoretical conversation about radical Islam and its evilsâ€”and conservative intellectuals still spout this kind of unyielding rhetoric. By its second term, though, the administration was grappling with the complexities of Islam on the ground. It is instructive that Bush ended up pursuing a most sophisticated and nuanced policy toward political Islam in the one country where reality was unavoidableâ€”Iraq.
Having invaded Iraq, the Americans searched for local allies, in particular political groups that could become the Iraqi face of the occupation. The administration came to recognize that 30 years of Saddamâ€”a secular, failed tyrantâ€”had left only hard-core Islamists as the opposition. It partnered with these groups, most of which were Shiite parties founded on the model of Iran’s ultra-religious organizations, and acquiesced as they took over most of southern Iraq, the Shiite heartland. In this area, the strict version of Islam that they implemented was quite similar toâ€”in some cases more extreme thanâ€”what one would find in Iran today. Liquor was banned; women had to cover themselves from head to toe; Christians were persecuted; religious affiliations became the only way to get a government job, including college professorships.
While some of this puritanism is now mellowing, southern Iraq remains a dark place. But it is not a hotbed of jihad. And as the democratic process matures, one might even hope that some version of the Nigerian story will play out there. “It’s hard to hand over authority to people who are illiberal,” says former CIA analyst Reuel Marc Gerecht. “What you have to realize is that the objective is to defeat bin Ladenism, and you have to start the evolution. Moderate Muslims are not the answer. Shiite clerics and Sunni fundamentalists are our salvation from future 9/11s.”
The Bush administration partnered with fundamentalists once more in the Iraq War, in the Sunni belt. When the fighting was at its worst, administration officials began talking to some in the Sunni community who were involved in the insurgency. Many of them were classic Islamic militants, though others were simply former Baathists or tribal chiefs. Gen. David Petraeus’s counterinsurgency strategy ramped up this process. “We won the war in Iraq chiefly because we separated the local militants from the global jihadists,” says Fawaz Gerges, a scholar at Sarah Lawrence College, who has interviewed hundreds of Muslim militants. “Yet around the world we are still unwilling to make the distinction between these two groups.”
Would a strategy like this work in Afghanistan? David Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency expert who has advised Petraeus, says, “I’ve had tribal leaders and Afghan government officials at the province and district level tell me that 90 percent of the people we call the Taliban are actually tribal fighters or Pashtun nationalists or people pursuing their own agendas. Less than 10 percent are ideologically aligned with the Quetta Shura [Mullah Omar’s leadership group] or Al Qaeda.” These people are, in his view, “almost certainly reconcilable under some circumstances.” Kilcullen adds, “That’s very much what we did in Iraq. We negotiated with 90 percent of the people we were fighting.”
Beyond Afghanistan, too, it is crucial that we adopt a more sophisticated strategy toward radical Islam. This should come naturally to President Obama, who spoke often on the campaign trail of the need for just such a differentiated approach toward Muslim countries. Even the Washington Institute, a think tank often associated with conservatives, appears onboard. It is issuing a report this week that recommends, among other points, that the United States use more “nuanced, noncombative rhetoric” that avoids sweeping declarations like “war on terror,” “global insurgency,” even “the Muslim world.” Anything that emphasizes the variety of groups, movements and motives within that world strengthens the case that this is not a battle between Islam and the West. Bin Laden constantly argues that all these different groups are part of the same global movement. We should not play into his hands, and emphasize instead that many of these forces are local, have specific grievances and don’t have much in common.
That does not mean we should accept the burning of girls’ schools, or the stoning of criminals. Recognizing the reality of radical Islam is entirely different from accepting its ideas. We should mount a spirited defense of our views and values. We should pursue aggressively policies that will make these values succeed. Such efforts are often difficult and take timeâ€”rebuilding state structures, providing secular education, reducing corruptionâ€”but we should help societies making these efforts. The mere fact that we are working in these countries on these issuesâ€”and not simply bombing, killing and capturingâ€”might change the atmosphere surrounding the U.S. involvement in this struggle.
The veil is not the same as the suicide belt. We can better pursue our values if we recognize the local and cultural context, and appreciate that people want to find their own balance between freedom and order, liberty and license. In the end, time is on our side. Bin Ladenism has already lost ground in almost every Muslim country. Radical Islam will follow the same path. Wherever it is triedâ€”in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in parts of Nigeria and Pakistanâ€”people weary of its charms very quickly. The truth is that all Islamists, violent or not, lack answers to the problems of the modern world. They do not have a world view that can satisfy the aspirations of modern men and women. We do. That’s the most powerful weapon of all.
From Eye on the World:
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Supporters of Pakistan’s pro-Taliban cleric and leader of a religious movement Sufi Muhammad, unseen, listen to their leader at his headquarters mosque in Mingora, capital of troubled Swat valley on Sunday, March 1, 2009 in Pakistan Taliban militants in the valley have extended a cease-fire, strengthening a peace process that Western governments say risks granting a safe haven to extremists close to the Afghan border. Muhammad gaveÂ deadline of March 15, 2009 to impose Islamic laws.
Peace deal in peril as six FC men kidnapped in Swat, convoy attacked
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By our correspondent
MINGORA: Dealing a severe blow to the peace process, unknown men kidnapped six Frontier Corps (FC) personnel, including a commander, while suspected militants attacked a security forces’ convoy in Sarsenai area of Swat Valley on Sunday.
The incidents occurred at the time when Tanzim Nifaz Shariat-e-Muhammadi (TNSM) chief Maulana Sufi Muhammad warned both sides to refrain from destroying the peaceful atmosphere.
Sufi Muhammad also set March 15 deadline for the government to implement the Nizam-e-Adl across the Malakand division and the Kohistan district, and threatened to set up a protest camp in case the government failed to implement the Shariah before the expiry of the deadline.
The FC personnel were kidnapped from Qamber, a stronghold of the militants only three kilometres from here. No one had claimed responsibility for the kidnapping till the filing of this report.
Earlier, addressing a press conference at Madni Masjid here, Maulana Sufi Muhammad said any side â€” the government or the militants â€” that took lead in attacking the other in violation of the peace pact would be held responsible for the violation of the peace agreement. However, an hour after Sufi’s warning, the militants loyal to his son-in-law, Maulana Fazlullah, attacked a convoy of security forces.
A press release of security forces said that a logisticsÃ convoy of the forces was attacked with two improvised explosive devices in Sarsenai area of Kabal Tehsil. It said that the attacks were carried out when a soldier of the FC was being shifted from the area. The press release said the militants also fired at the convoy after the blasts, injuring two soldiers. The security forces also returned the fire, it said.
“The militantsÃ unwarranted attack is a clear violation of the peace agreement reached between the TNSM and the government. The security forces have informed the quarters concerned and called upon them to rein in the militants from attacking the security forces as per the spirit of the peace agreement. The security forces are exercising maximum restraint with a view to ensuring complete compliance of the peace agreement in order to have lasting peace in the valley,” the press release said.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Swat chapter spokesman Muslim Khan said the convoy was taking ration and had not informed their committee they had formed to oversee the movement of security forces.
Ã¬According to the peace agreement, they (security forces) will have to inform the committee members about the movement in advance,Ã® he said, adding that the convoy was attacked because the forces had not taken permission from the three-member committee.Â
Sufi Muhammad in his press conference warned that they would set up a protest camp if the government did not implement the Nizam-e-Adl by March 15. The TNSM chief said he was not satisfied with the talks he had held with Afrasiyab Khattak and Arshad Abdullah on Friday and Saturday, asking both the sides to release all prisoners. He reiterated his resolve to make unflinching efforts for restoration of peace. “Our first priority is to bring back peace,” he declared.
Meanwhile, NWFP Chief Minister Ameer Haider Hoti is scheduled to undertake his maiden visit to the militancy-hit district today (Monday). He is expected to have meetings with elders and distribute cheques among the heirs of those killed or wounded during the military operation.
Newsweek Cover: Radical Islam a fact of life. Live with it. OrÂ else?
Fareed Zakariah is at it again. Remember him? The Muslim editor of Newsweek who wrote a book entitled the Post American World. The same book Barack Obama was reading during the U.S. presidential election, which has aÂ chapterÂ entitled “A Non-Western World”, and mentions Obama on page 255. The same Fareed Zakaria whoÂ declared the USA #2Â in a separate Newsweek story.
We surmised Obama might be modeling some of his foreign policy strategies on Zakaria’s writings, particularly his approach to Iran – see our previous postÂ Obama planning post American worldÂ to compare Zakaria’s words on Iran to Obama’s. With the closing of Gitmo, the failure to address the kidnapping of a U.S. U.N. worker in Pakistan, and the chumminess towards soon-to-be nuclear power Iran, and Hamas may bear that out.
In Fareed Zakaria’s latest,Â Learning to Live With Radical Islam, he subtitles his article: “We don’t have to accept the stoning of criminals. But it’s time to stop treating all Islamists as potential terrorists.”
If Zakaria means that all Muslims are Islamists, he should first prove that all Islamists (i.e., Muslims) are treated as potential terrorists, then we can talk. If he means that all “radical” Muslims are Islamists, then why wouldn’t “we” treat all “Islamists” as potential terrorists? Furthermore, if Zakaria could conclusively define radical Islam that would be extremely helpful. Is radical Islam based on a different version of the Quran or other Islamic texts? A different Mohammid? A different Allah? A different jihad than Mohammad waged?
Any article detailing how “we” should learn to live with radical Islam, rather than defeat it, that begins with an opening paragraph describing how a region of Pakistan is quiet once again because the Taliban took over and implemented sharia law simply doesn’t bode well for anyone. Mr. Post American World fails to mention that the Taliban waged a war for the Swat valley and “beheaded opponents, torched girls schools and terrorized the police to gain control of much of the one-time tourist haven”.
Keep in mind however that Fareed Zakaria routinely minimizes the Islamic terrorism threat,Â al-Qaeda, the odds of being a victim of terrorism, and he does it here again claiming that the Taliban aren’t so bad after all because Fareed says most “Taliban want Islamic rule locally, not violent jihad globally.” Got that? “Not all these Islamists advocate global jihad, host terrorists or launch operations against the outside worldâ€”in fact, most do not.”Â See world, nothing to worry about here, just a tiny minority of Islamists want to kill us, but most just want to terrorize their local populations not the world.
Fareed overlooks many a significant point in his article. One, even if it is true that only a small group of Muslims have global jihadist ambitions like al Qaeda, that’s all it takes. Just one group. Just one nuke. Look what 19 Muslims did on 9/11. Maybe Muslims should learn to live with the fact that as long as ANY Islamists (defined any way you want) have global jihadist ambitions that there will be significant consequences. Two, Fareed, given the resources and the opportunity, how quickly would the local jihadis that behead folks, burn girls schools, and adhere to the strictest of sharia law, take their local jihad global? Three, wasn’t Muhammid’s ambition to create a global khillafah or caliphate? Isn’t that the ultimate goal of Islam? For all to submit to Allah’s will?
There are interesting points made in the article but most are glossy at best. He writes about Iraq and claims that General Petraeus’ squelching of a massive insurgency is an example of accepting Islamism (presumably he means radical Islam). What he fails to mention is the presence, and increase in, U.S. troops that executed the counter-insurgency strategy and made it work.
Zakaria does state that “Recognizing the reality of radical Islam is entirely different from accepting its ideas.” If that’s all he meant, why the cover story in Arabic and the statement ‘how to live with it’? Later in the same paragraphÂ Zakaria takes it on his own to wildly distort reality, reminiscent of Obama’s air raiding villages comment, he states dumping resources (i.e., cash) on the problem rather than, “simply bombing, killing and capturingâ€”might change the atmosphere surrounding the U.S. involvement in this struggle.”Â He also fails to mention that it was Islamism that brought the struggle to the U.S., not the other way around.
We can better pursue our values if we recognize the local and cultural context, and appreciate that people want to find their own balance between freedom and order, liberty and license. Radical Islam will follow the same path. Wherever it is tried…people weary of its charms very quickly. The truth is that all Islamists, violent or not, lack answers to the problems of the modern world. They do not have a world view that can satisfy the aspirations of modern men and women. We do. That’s the most powerful weapon of all.
Fair enough. Yet once people are enslaved to sharia law, weary or not, they are not permitted to “find their own balance between freedom and order, liberty and license.” Hence, we should not be giving Islamists hope and proposing how we should learn to live with their “radical Islam”, rather we should be proposing how to end it and prevent it from infiltrating our institutions and way of life. We did not choose to live with nazism, communism, nor fascism, nor should we surrender to and live with Islamism.