Monday, December 7, 2009

From Chicago to Mumbai, Zardari in Trouble, Tehran...

Paul Krugman
John Harwood
Sebastian Rotella

“I always felt like working at the White House was like being one of those plate-spinners on the old variety shows, it’s only newsworthy when one of the plates crashes to the ground.” - Paul Begala
"We've seen an increased number of arrests here in the U.S. of individuals suspected of plotting terrorist attacks, or supporting terror groups abroad such as Al Qaeda, home-based terrorism is here. And, like violent extremism abroad, it will be part of the threat picture that we must now confront."  - Janet Napolitano

In his opinion piece for the LA Times, Sebastian Rotella writes about the ever increasing threat we are facing from homegrown extremists. These are people who were raised here and became radicalized against the US. He sums up the recent events, along with the shootings at Fort Hood:

* There were major arrests of Americans accused of plotting with Al Qaeda and its allies, including an Afghan American charged in a New York bomb plot described as the most serious threat in this country since the Sept. 11 attacks.

* Authorities tracked other extremism suspects joining foreign networks, including Somali Americans going to the battlegrounds of their ancestral homeland and an Albanian American from Brooklyn who was arrested in Kosovo.

* The FBI rounded up homegrown terrorism suspects in Dallas, Detroit and Raleigh, N.C., saying that it had broken up plots targeting a synagogue, government buildings and military facilities.

And the latest is the arrest of two men of Pakistani descent who were living in Chicago, and have been linked to the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. From the NY Times: "Federal prosecutors say a Chicago man accused of plotting a terror attack on a Danish newspaper also helped scope out targets in the Indian city of Mumbai before they were attacked.

Tahawwur Hussain Rana and David Coleman Headley were charged in October with plotting an attack on the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten out of revenge for a dozen cartoons printed in 2005 depicting the Prophet Muhammad." These two guys were arrested in Denmark for plotting to blow up the Danish newspaper, and the one who changed his name to David is cooperating with the authorities about scoping out sites in Mumbai to bomb for a Pakistani general.  Looks like the rabid anti-India forces in Pakistan won't be able to squirm out of this one...

The situation is looking grim in Pakistan. The Taliban coordinated bomb attacks in three cities this morning, targeting areas where police congregate, and a crowded marketplace in Lahore. They are trying to create as much fear as possible, and demonstrate that the police cannot protect the people: "At least 24 people have been killed and 75 wounded in twin explosions at a busy marketplace in the northeast Pakistani city of Lahore... One of the blasts hit the outside of bank and one was in front of a police area, another police official said. Al Jazeera's Imran Khan, reporting from the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, said: "This marketplace would have been packed. It's a place where families go to socialise. This underscores, yet again, how fragile and dangerous the situation in Pakistan is."

Going for the jugular, the brother of the man that Pakistan's President, Asif Ali Zardari defeated in the last election, is calling for Zardari to step down. It's like John Boehner speaking from his tanning bed, so take it with a grain of salt. But Zardari is having problems, and his government could topple any day unless he finds a way to stabilize his situation. "Zardari's position as president has been weakened by the expiration of an amnesty protecting him and several key allies from graft prosecution, raising the possibility of legal challenges to his rule in the coming months.

The Pakistani president has promised to give much of his powers to the prime minister, in line with Pakistan's original constitution, but has been accused of foot-dragging by an angry opposition.

Zardari transferred command of the country's nuclear arsenal to Yousef Raza Gilani, the prime minister, on Friday and promised to surrender other key powers by the end of 2009, including the authority to fire an elected government and appoint top military chiefs."

Nobody really trusts Zardari, he was kicked out of the country once for corruption, nicknamed Mr 10 Percent for the amount he skimmed off of every deal he made. He is perceived as being too chummy with the US, and fuels the theories that the US is looking to take over Pakistan. Personally, I think that Zardari should go out and double-date with Hamid Karzai, they have so much in common... Beyond the US military acting as middleman, neither Pakistan or Afghanistan talk to each other, nor do they want to unite in common cause against the Pashtuns.

First, India contracted a deal with Canada for nuclear technology that was developed in the US, skirting around any frowns or silly rules about dealing with a country who has just had santions lifted on them after 30 years. Now, India has signed a deal with Russia for nuclear fuel, guns, missiles, tanks, and helicopters. russia will also build some new nuclear reactors for India, and they are jointly building a fighter jet similar to our stealth planes. Hmmmm, maybe Pakistan does have a right to be worried? India wants to become an influential player in global politcs, and they are quickly coming up to speed. But the next clash between India and Pakistan will not be pretty.

"You are the tumbleweed and dust... You are the enemy of the land."
Iran has a young population, with one out of every twenty people being a student. Today was another anti-US holiday, Students Day, that is held annually to demonstrate against the Great Satan.

Last night the calls of "Allahu Akbar" cried again from the rooftops. Despite the warning of beatings, teargas, and arrests, thousands of students took to the streets to protest against the government, sometimes clashing with a smaller group of about 2,000 supporters of Khomanei: "The main entrance to Tehran University was sealed off by security forces, while clashes broke out between protesters and tens of thousands of Basij militiamen in squares around the city, witnesses and opposition Web sites reported. Protests erupted at universities throughout the country, including Kerman, Mashhad, Isfahan and Hamdean. The opposition staged a street rally in Shiraz.

Witnesses said there was an anger to the protests not seen since the summer months, when protests broke out after the June 12 presidential election, which the opposition has dismissed as fraudulent. The Basij responded with ferocity, using copious amounts of tear gas, electrical truncheons and stun guns in an effort to disperse the crowds."

Click on my link to Tehran Bureau for updates and uploaded video clips. Some of the chants that were heard on the street:

Khamenei bedune — be zoodi sar negoone!
Khamenei should know — he is on his way out!

Nang ma, nang ma — Rahbar aldang ma!
“Our curse, our curse — our incompetent leader!

Pool naft chi shode? Kharj basiji shode!
What happened to the oil money? It was spent on the Basiji!

I am impressed by the large turnout and their willingness to stand up and fight against the thug Basiji, who were out 10,000 strong. Jeez, I wonder what kind of a government would evolve if they actually succeeded... And I wonder if any Ayatollah or an Ahmadinejad has the cojones to meet the protesters on the street, the dogs!

changing the topic, a moment of Copenhagen Zen:


  1. The emerge of democratic Govt as a result of February 2008 election was indeed the revenge of Democracy and now the orchestrated and vicious campaign against Zardari in the media, drawing rooms, and in the corridors of powers is the revenge of establishment. Any illicit way to dislodge Zardari either by media campaigns, judicial coup, military intervention or political manipulation would certainly destabilize the country and will leave long lasting effects. On the other hand Zardari is a very patient person otherwise enemies of democracy sparing no effort to demoralize him.
    No one should question the performance of Zardari, He did a lot and in the circumstances where survival of Pakistan was also question. Yes Zardari did what other could not do. Military action against those who want to make this nation hostage, Aghaz-e- Haqooq-e-Balochistan package, an atmosphere of reconciliation, Senate elections, Friends of Pakistan forum, recently NFC award, the milestones in the history of Pakistan, he attained the impossible. Infact Zardari has become a punching bag and there is no longer any logic, reason, rationale or sense on the issues he has been targeted for.

  2. Thank you for your insight. Whether Mr Zardari can weather the current political storm against him or not, I do hope that Pakistan can continue to have a civilian government instead of sliding back to military rule. A civilian government always allows more freedom of speech and debate, and since Pakistan is at the center of the US military's attention, I think that every issue should be scrutinized and debated. Good luck to you.


Hi! Thanks for commenting. I always try to respond...