Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Jacked Taliban, My Favorite Fatwa

Dana Milbank
Kristen Saloomey
Kevin Connor

"Could I just finish, please?" - John McCain
"Tough shit!" - Jim Bunning

Pakistan seems to be arresting links to al-Qaeda right and left, lately, scoring brownie points with both the US and Iran. Not only have they captured leaders from the Pashtun Afghan Taliban group, who seemed to be living so far from where the action has been, but they also captured Abdulmalik Rigi, the leader of Jundallah, a Sunni insurgent group active in southeastern Iran. This is in contrast of the official story that the plane he was flying in was ordered to land and he was captured by Iranian authorities.

Common wisdom state that not much escapes the Pakistani Intelligence Service, and the recent turn of events may have been because the American military and CIA are now negotiating and bribing Intelligence officials directly instead of going through the civilian government's middle men. Given this cozy relationship, the turning over of Abdulmalik Rigi to Iran is meant to tell the US that Pakistan is not beholden to them, that they have some independence left. Mr Rigi has gone on Iranian television and announced that his group, which also has ties to al-Qaeda, was sponsored by the US and promised that they would get weapons and an operating base in Afghanistan to wage annoying sorties at the predominately Shia nation. This also gives notice on remaining al-Qaeda operatives in Pakistan that any day now they, too, could be given up. Al-Qaeda will probably respond with a few more suicide bombers detonating themselves in crowded bazaars, mindlessly killing innocent people. After all, Spring is just around the corner...

To show how there can be many layers to an attack attributed to the Taliban, consider yesterday's suicide bombing in Kabul, aimed at a hotel where many Indian doctors live, on the Prophet Mohammed's Birthday: "The timing is also striking. Yesterday, the first Indo-Pakistani talks after the Lashkar-e-Taiba attacks in Mumbai on November 26, 2008 were yesterday in New Delhi on the foreign secretary level. This possibly is no coincidence. In this connection, today’s attack in Kabul can be read as another attack on Indian targets in Kabul (the Indian embassy here was bombed in July 2008) and -- indirectly -- on initiatives to improve the Indo-Pakistani relationship?

So, why do the Taliban make themselves an instrument of those -- by claiming responsibility -- who do not want to see such an improvement to happen? Does the whole Taliban movement support such a strategy? What about Mullah Omar’s statement of late last year that the Taliban do not threaten any neighboring and also any other country? Does that not apply for India? Does Zabihullah Mujahed speak for Mullah Omar or not?

Or has this attack been carried out by other elements: Pakistani Taliban, the Haqqani network or those linked to groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba or al-Qaeda that has declared ‘Hindu’ India a target, too? Are Afghan elements linked to these groups (like the Haqqanis) out of Mullah Omar’s control? This would apply to spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed, too.

What repercussions does that have for the Taliban’s readiness to look for a political solution that was assumed for the Taliban leadership in Kandahar or, at least, elements of it? Possibly, the attack is another element in a development assumed by some observers here that the ISI currently is staging a turn-over in the overall Taliban leadership, away from politically people minded to radical 'hawks,' In this reading, the arrest of reportedly pro-talks people like Mullah Baradar, Maulawi Kabir and former Zabul shadow governor Mohammed Yunos would be another indication that this assumption is true. This would not augur well for chances of a political solution in Afghanistan." In the Great Game, the US is strictly an amateur...

 From a US military handbook that soldiers could keep in their back pockets as they whizzed through the streets of Iraqi cities: "A 2003 handbook for the U.S. First Infantry Division in Iraq exhorts soldiers to 'Do your best to prevent war crimes' and warns that 'when an Arab is confronted by criticism, you can expect him to react by interpreting the facts to suit himself or flatly denying the facts.' Since then, soldiers went on to work and live with Iraqi troops, then withdrawing from all interaction, to where they rest today, practicing their Nintendo skills.

With the increasing use of drones by just about every aggressive country in the world, and new generations being made, we now have to upgrade our GPS satellites so they can receive photos and messages from places like the remote regions of Afghanistan. Here in Colorado, Raytheon is the recipient of an $865 million contract from the Defense Department. As a side-effect, your GPS equipment will soon work better than ever... Back in the 1980's and 90's, my father used to boast that the cameras on the spy satellites could count the hairs on a gnat's ass, they were so good. Just think how optics have improved since then, and what information we will soon receive by installing them on drones and having the capacity to capture the signals without degradation...

my favorite fatwa...
Even though we pat ourselves on the back for all of the progress that has been made in the world up till now, the basic fact is that in most places it just sucks to be a woman. From selling children into prostitution in Thailand to stoning women to death in Turkey, or throwing acid on the faces of women in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the fairer sex has to be extraordinary tough and resilient to survive.

Most of this injustice is from people trying to literally interpret sections of the Bible and Koran into how we must live today. People who know nothing of what religion really is, make proclamations to bolster their own power, intent on telling you how to live, and making up justifications for it in Holy texts. You would think that as time goes on we would have less of these obviously crazy people among us, that they would have been bred out of existence, but somehow they are thriving and getting elected to the US Congress...

The most recent furor over not much at all comes out of Saudi Arabia, where a cleric, Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak, issued a fatwa: "that states that all those who promote the mingling of sexes are apostates that should to be killed."

Needless to say that it has spurred a lot of debate: "Islam allows the mixing of men and women as long as it within the limits of decency and respect, said Sheikh Abdul-Hamid al-Atrash, former head of al-Azhar's Fatwa Committee."It could be considered a sin, but not one that is punishable by death. A woman can go out to work as long as she is modestly dressed and will not deal with men in a way that arouses them" he told Al Arabiya. "Indecent mixing is what should be prohibited." You won't get much argument from certain sects in the US, that also ban music and video games. On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has had their first woman appointed to a Ministerial level, and they now allow women on tv...
"Barrak might have just wanted to stir public opinion. That is why I think there is no point in responding to his fatwa. This will just lead to endless arguments that will eventually boil down to nothing."
And, there other growing opportunities throughout Asia and the Middle East for women who know their proper place:

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