Thousands of members of Islamic groups are rounded up each year in Egypt and Syria and put in jail. Most of them are never brought to trial but, instead, held incomunicado and tortured...
The Somali pirates who recently hijacked a ship carrying Russian-made arms and tanks claimed that the weapons were bound for South Sudan. But the Kenyan government was adamant that they had been sent to Kenya, not South Sudan. The BBC World Service announced on October 7 that it had found evidence that the equipment had been intended for South Sudan, as claimed by the pirates.
Algeria is no stranger to violence: Islamic groups and the armed forces engage in deadly confrontations that extend over long periods and cause huge loss of life. It is not, therefore, surprising that the recent bombing attacks – attributed to al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – have led to widespread fears that the country is about to be engulfed in another civil war similar to the one in the 1990s, in which more than 150,000 people lost their lives.
When Lui Moreno-Ocampo, the prosecutor general of the International Criminal Court (ICC), filed a charge of genocide against president Omar Hasan al-Bashir on July 14, he was widely perceived as putting at risk the peace agreement already reached – and largely implemented – between North and South Sudan, and the efforts now being made to bring peace to Darfur, the conflict-ridden remote western region and the stage of the alleged genocide.
Turkey's secular elites, whose attempts to portray the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leaders as religious extremists continue to fail, have now resorted to a ruse to achieve the desired but elusive results. But because of the determination of those targeted to fight back, analysts believe that the scheme will throw the country into turmoil;
Sudan and Chad are highly unstable neighbours, whose territorial integrity and national security are put at risk not only by internal feuding that spills over their common border but by direct hostility that drives them to support each other's insurgents and at times to go to war.
While George W. Bush made his imperialistic tour of the Middle East last month, French president Nicholas Sarkozy (pic) was also in the Persian Gulf. Among other things, he agreed a $4 billion deal to build nuclear power stations there and to establish a military base in Abu Dhabi, just across the Gulf from Islamic Iran. The deal secures lucrative contracts for French nuclear companies, and the base is France's first military presence in the region.
The Algerian people are not unaccustomed to violence. Their brave struggle for independence from 1954 to 1962 cost many lives – a price considered worth paying to end 132 years of French rule. But the civil conflict that erupted in Algeria in 1992 after the regime cancelled elections (in December 1991) that FIS (an Islamic group) was about to win proved more destructive and lasted longer. Moreover, the lull in violence evaporated last year, when suicide bombers struck several times, culminating in the twin explosions on December 11 in Algiers that cost dozens of lives.
The summit-meeting of the five Caspian Sea countries in Iran on October 17, and the suspension of the European Union’s sanctions on Uzbekistan have focused attention on how the US, Russia, the EU and China are vying with each other for the rich energy resources of the Central Asian states in the region.
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.
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US has become the only world superpower, with the result that its imperial ambitions have inflated enormously. In the past, those ambitions centred on the establishment of a monopoly over economic resources, such as oil, gas and other minerals, and of political control of those countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, that possess them. But with the arrival of president Bush at the White House those ambitions began to include the imposition of Christianity as the world’s dominant religion.
The removal of Paul Wolfowitz (pic) from his position as president of the World Bank is in itself a welcome development. The mere fact that he refused to resign after his involvement in a well-publicised scandal, and that president George W. Bush, who had nominated him two years before, chose to back his refusal to leave are good enough reasons to celebrate his departure.
The Maghreb countries in North Africa are rich in oil and gas resources, and have substantial tourist potential. However, bureaucracy and corruption – familiar ills in every public and business sector – have blocked economic development. Consequently poverty is endemic; educational and employment opportunities are few in a region most of whose people are young and eager to learn and work. Add to this the fact that political (especially Islamic) opposition is severely suppressed and thereby driven underground, and it becomes obvious why the region has long been subject to violence, and has recently suffered suicide bombings for the first time.
The referendum on amendments to Egypt’s constitution on March 26 went almost exactly as expected by most independent observers. The turn-out was almost non-existent, as a result of an opposition boycott and widespread cynicism about the referendum.
There is hardly any doubt that the majority of the people in the three Maghreb countries – Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia – believe their leaders to be autocratic, corrupt and closely allied with the West against Islamic groups in the region. Add to this belief the fact that wealth in all three countries is monopolised by rich elites, while most people are deprived and poor, and it becomes plain why there is so much popular resistance to the ruling elites and the long-serving rulers they maintain in power.
For some time Sudan has been under great pressure from the UN and the ‘international community’ (led by the US) to grant independence, not merely self-rule, to its constituent regions, such as Darfur. The pressure has already forced Khartoum to grant Southern Sudan self-rule and the right to choose between full independence and membership of an federal Sudanese state, and has induced the rebel groups in Darfur to abandon the peace agreements they signed with Khartoum
According to detailed new research by American economists based on 50 years of data, the US uses its aid budget to bribe countries that are on the security council to secure their votes in its favour. The cash on offer increases by almost 60 percent when recipients of US bounty become members of the council
At the very time China was engulfed in a trade dispute with the US and the European Union – centred on the large imbalance between China’s vast exports to those countries and its imports from them – Beijing has unveiled a programme to multiply its already strong economic ties with African countries, and to establish "strategic links" with them.
That Yemen is in the grip of poverty, drought, political mismanagement and corruption is not in doubt. Nor is there any doubt that Yemen is steeped in tribal and regional tension and, at times, confrontation that might again split the country into South Yemen (a former British colony) and North Yemen.
The issue of Darfur dominated the recent UN summit in New York as it did the other two sessions held on the sidelines by African and Arab leaders gathered there. Because the term of the 7,000-strong African Union force in Darfur was due to end on September 30, the main question was whether to send UN peacekeepers to replace it – as the US and its allies demanded but the Sudanese president rejected – or to extend the term of the AU mission and strengthen it.
As international pressure on Sudan to admit UN peacekeepers in Darfur appeared to flounder by mid-August, the US and Britain – the two main powers behind the scheme intensified their effort to break the resolve of president Omar Hassan al-Bashir to resist their ill-disguised plot to prepare for the eventual separation of the Western region from the rest of Sudan.
The first anniversary of the massacre of unarmed civilian protestors in the eastern city of Andijan by security forces acting on Uzbek government orders on May 13, 2005, has also attracted worldwide attention, mainly because the basic issues raised by the tragedy have so far not been addressed.
The two suicide bombings in Egypt on April 26 were the latest of a series of armed attacks in the country over the last two years. The coincide with demonstrations by thousands of Egyptians in central Cairo to protest against the prosecution of two senior judges who are known for their public criticism of the government's control of the judiciary.
Egypt, under president Husni Mubarak, receives the second largest amount of US foreign aid per annum after Israel, but unlike Israel pays a very high price for it. Not only does it openly and loyally back US foreign policy in the Middle East and the rest of the Muslim world, but it is also publicly committed to the US government's ‘war or terrorism', which is really an ill-disguised assault on Islamic activists and Islamic groups.
Speaking in Algiers on February 12, at the beginning of a tour of North African countries designed to secure their support for the US's agendas in the Muslim world, US secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld promised to strengthen military ties with North African countries. During a joint appearance with Algeria's president, Abdulaziz Bouteflika, he said: "We look forward to strengthening our military-to-military relationship and our cooperation in counter-terrorism."
Since the conflict in Darfur began three years ago, about 180,000 people have died, mainly because of hunger and disease; about 2 million have been displaced. Clearly, the conflict is too vicious and costly to be allowed to continue, but the current efforts of the African Union (AU) to resolve it are not equal to the task. But the so-called international community cannot seriously be concerned about the fate of the people of Darfur or of Sudan as a whole.
Kuwait is often described as a democracy, because of the fact that it has a constitution (introduced a year after it gained its independence from Britain in 1981) and an elected parliament. But neither the constitution nor parliament has been able to prevent the ruling family, the House of al-Sabah, from monopolising power and controlling the Emirate's oil-wealth;
Since it agreed to start accession talks with Turkey in October, the European Union has been highly critical of Turkey's human-rights record, including its treatment of the Kurds, who are concentrated in the south east of the country.
Turkey has been a trusted and valued member of NATO for a long time, as it has been an associate member of European economic organisations. Turkey first applied to join what was then the EEC in 1959 and signed an association agreement with it in 1963, which strongly implied that it would later become a member.
It must seem wrong to most Muslims for an Islamic movement, regardless of whether it is ‘moderate’ (as the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen is often described) or ‘extremist’, to approve of any election that is obviously designed to secure yet another term for a dictator.
The Muslims who had the courage to storm government offices and force president Askar Aliyev to flee Kyrgyzstan in March deserve better leaders than those replacing him after the election held on July 10. Both the new president, Kurmanbek Bakayev, and the prime minister, Felix Kulov, a former KGB officer, served as times in the Akayev government–sharing Akayev's subservience to Russia and animosity to Islam and Islamic activists, and displaying their readiness to live with corruption and practise it.
The United Nations, an organisation with a richly deserved reputation for corruption and ineffectiveness, undoubtedly needs urgent and extensive reforms. But the powers that control it and its mainly corrupt leading staff will not allow any serious changes that might bring to an end their deleterious influence or affect their careers.
For some years president Husni Mubarak and the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen (the Muslim Brotherhood) have somehow co-existed, Egypt’s largest opposition-group and world’s oldest Islamic organisation being widely described as “banned but tolerated.”
The assumption that it is the European Union’s transparent unwillingness to admit a Muslim country, rather than the reluctance of a Muslim people to join a Christian union, that is mainly responsible for the failure of membership-negotiations to make any progress is being steadily revised.
Judicial, media and student agencies are for the first time staging public protests against the autocratic rule of president Husni Mubarak to an extent that makes the recent challenges by political opposition groups, including the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen (Muslim Brotherhood), mild by comparison
Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia has been striving to retain its control of the new Central Asian republics, among them Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan. The UShas been trying very hard to replace Moscow's influence with its own; it has succeeded in acquiring, for example, a military base in Kyrgyzstan alongside Russia's.
The Kyoto protocol on climate change came into effect on February 16, when it was ratified by more than 140 countries, including the 34 most industrialised nations. But the US, the world’s worst polluter, has refused to sign it, and developing countries, including China, the next biggest polluter, and India and Brazil, both significant contributors to today’s worst environmental problem, are exempt.
Since 1967 Israel has been occupying the Golan Heights, which are a Syrian territory wrenched away in a war that has not formally ended; Syria has good legal, moral and political reasons to try to recover its land.
The Turkish government has recently announced a programme for retraining schoolchildren, teachers and even imams to “promote modern and peaceful interpretations of Islam”, and to rebrand old European enemies such as Greece and Russia as friends.
The Netherlands, which until now has always claimed to be more tolerant than the rest of Europe, is now openly hounding its Muslim population, on the pretence of fighting terrorism...
The stage now appears to be set for the growing US and European pressure on Syria to come to fruit. Applied directly but also through the UN, the EU and Arab leaders such as president Husni Mubarak of Egypt...1
China’s growing status as a new superpower and its role in the US-led “war against terrorism” have left Chinese Muslims to the dubious mercies of Beijing...
The interim deal recently struck in Geneva by the World Trade Organisation's 147 members, which purports to commit rich countries to slashing their trade-distorting farm-subsidies and opening their markets to agricultural products, has been described variously as "historic" and as a "catastrophe for the poor"...
It comes as no surprise that Syrians, whether at home or in exile, have found no cause to celebrate the fourth anniversary of president Bashar al-Asad's succeeding his late father, Lt-Gen Hafez Asad, to power in July 2000. Since then his regime has brought about no significant changes in Syrian life...
The presidents of China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan met in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan, on June 16 to reinforce their alliance against Islamic activism in the region...
The Sudanese government has over the years been under strong pressure from western countries and international organisations, led by the US, to concede to rebel groups (which are predominantly Christian) the right to secede from the mainly Muslim north...
The recent flare-up of ethnic violence involving Syria’s Kurdish minority (apparently inspired by the constitutional gains made by the Kurds in Iraq) and the growing US pressure on Damascus to sign a peace deal with Israel and "end its occupation" of Lebanon, indicate the increasing threats to the stability of a country that is already undermined by the enduring alliance between the ruling Asad dynasty and the Ba’ath party...
Both Sudan and Somalia are in urgent need of a peaceful settlement of the civil wars that have been ravaging them for more than a decade. But the peace deals recently reached as a result of negotiations mediated by Kenya, and sponsored (in Sudan’s case) by the US, cannot lead to a just and lasting resolution of the conflicts that also guarantees their territorial integrity...
Bashar al-Asad, who succeeded his father, Hafez, as president in July 2000, has come under strong attack from Syrian human-rights groups, not only for failing to reform the repressive political and judicial systems he has inherited...
Only days after the parliamentary elections in Yemen on April 27, the US agency for international aid (USAID) announced the return of its mission to the country after seven years, saying that its activities would be restricted to the areas of public health, primary education and the provision of security, and the sources of income and food in certain rural areas.
President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria was returned to a second term in office as a result of the elections held on April 19, amid loud complaints of foul play by the opposition and serious reservations of international and local monitors. The official results, announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), were that Obasanjo had met the dual requirement for victory of winning an overall majority...
So far neither Algiers nor Washington has announced the kinds of weapons Algeria will receive under the new security pact. But successive Algerian governments have ascribed their failure to end the decade-old civil strife to a shortage of attack helicopters and night-vision equipment.
The US is stepping up its military presence in the Horn of Africa, one of the world’s most unstable regions, as part of its global ‘war on terrorism’ and to support its allies, as General Tom Franks, the commander of US troops in the Gulf, has said at a news conference at the Pentagon.
The overwhelming victory achieved by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in the Turkish general election on November 3 has been described as a “political earthquake” and a “revolution”.
When Khartoum and the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) signed the Machakos peace deal on July 20, American officials said that they would exert pressure to make the deal stick.
Sudan’s attempts to normalise relations with its neighbours are being scuppered by the US, which aims to isolate the ‘Islamic rogue state’ and build up support for the Christian separatists led by colonel John Garang.
Tatarastan, the only Muslim republic still in the Russian Federation, is losing the autonomy that it gained in 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and had consolidated since then. It has also been forced to put on hold the legislation it passed in early 2001, in defiance of Russian objections...
Since succeeding his father, Hafez, as president in 2000, Bashar al-Asad has been going through the motions of reforming the political, security and economic policies and practices bequeathed to him. But although he has released most of Syria’s estimated 50,000 political prisoners, declared corruption his principal target, and made some changes to the cabinet...
Before his meeting with US president George W. Bush at the White House on November 27, all that president Abdullah Ali Saleh was prepared to do to accommodate Washington’s concerns about “anti-US terrorists” in Yemen was to expel a group of ‘Arab Afghans’ allegedly allied to Usama bin Ladin, and to take steps to prevent fleeing al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters or supporters from entering his country.
US plans for attacking ‘terrorist bases’ in Somalia as the next stage of the ‘war on terrorism’ are well advanced, according to media reports that quote US intelligence and military officials.
China, now a member of the World Trade Organisation, has made substantial political and economic gains at the APEC summit it recently hosted at Shanghai.
The Turkish parliament on October 3 passed 34 amendments to the constitution. Designed to ease Turkey’s entry into the EU, they are impressive only on paper.
The Eritrean people and their leaders, who demonstrated a remarkable capacity for unity during a long and difficult struggle for independence, are beginning to show signs of restiveness at their president’s increasingly autocratic rule...
Throughout his rule, president Husni Mubarak has governed Egypt under an emergency decree, using his dictatorial powers to persecute the Islamic groups that have always constituted the most vocal opposition to his regime.
Tatarstan, the semi-autonomous Muslim republic in the Russian Federation, is dropping the Cyrillic alphabet imposed on it by Joseph Stalin in 1939, adopting instead the Latin alphabet.
Algeria does not need a fresh eruption of Berber nationalism after a debilitating decade-long ‘civil’ war waged by the secular establishment, dominated by the military, against the country’s Islamic movements.
One of three Indian-government ministers, who face charges over the destruction of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in 1992, has finally given in to judicial pressure to appear before an enquiry into an outrage that refuses to go away, thanks to the courage and steadfastness of Indian Muslims.
Two recent low-key reports, which appear to have been largely ignored by the international media, despite their importance, indicate that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Voice of America (VOA) are to be reorganised.
The speed with which president Husni Mubarak has succeeded in imposing his will on Arab leaders, including ‘president’ Yasser Arafat and the Arab League, confirms that Egypt’s claim to regional superpower status is not entirely hollow. Not only has Cairo managed to force other Arab capitals to accept Amr Musa, the Egyptian foreign minister...
Ten years after the overthrow of general Siad Barre, and the collapse of state institutions, Somalia remains shattered — despite the ‘election’ of a new president and parliament that enjoy considerable international diplomatic support, including the approval of the UN, countries of the region and most members of the Arab League.
Kazakhstan lifted the ban on Russian rocket launches from the launching-pad at Baikonur on September 1, ending a two-month stand-off between the two countries.
The welcome that Israel’s new prime minister received in Arab capitals following his election victory was not unprecedented. The praise for the Zionist state’s most decorated general as a ‘trustworthy man of peace’ has its parallel in the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat’s sudden visit to Jerusalem in November 1977.
Russian troops launched military operations on Muslims controlling an area of southern Dagestan on August 8, after claiming that Chechen fighters had crossed the border the previous day and begun fortifying the villages of Anslta and Rakhata in the Botlikh district
The outlines of a catastrophic cave-in to Israel are becoming clearer every day, and prospects of a separate peace treaty between Syria and the Zionist state become stronger. Islamic as well as secular groups opposed to a deal are being increasingly suppressed...
Shaikh Ahmad Yassin, the leader of the Islamic resistance in Palestine (Hamas), has renewed his recent warning of an even greater sell-out to Israel. He dismissed the hope for a Middle East ‘peace’, that Arab leaders have been pinning on the recently-confirmed Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, as ‘baseless’...
As former head of a military government in the 1970s and a retired general since, Nigeria’s new president, Olusegun Obasanjo, knows better than most people what ails his country. But he also knows equally well that the men in uniform, universally held responsible for the mess Nigeria’s troubles...
A country like Algeria, in the throes of a bloody civil war, with its institutions destroyed and its resources plundered, hardly needs a leader effectively appointed - though ostensibly elected - by those responsible for the mess. Abdul Aziz Bouteflika, the sole candidate and ‘victor’ in the April 15 presidential elections...
Morocco signed an agreement with the United Nations on February 12 defining the legal status of UN troops in disputed western Sahara after months of delay. The UN Security Council then voted unanimously to extend the UN mission’s mandate until March 31.
He is not a new face; he is not a civilian: he is General Olusegun Obasanjo who ruled Nigeria from 1976-79. Obasanjo was declared winner of Nigeria’s February 27 elections with 63 percent of the vote, well ahead of Olu Falae, the only other candidate.
Two of the world’s biggest cigarette companies–British American Tobacco (BAT) and Rothmans–have merged to create a group selling more than 900 billion cigarettes a year around the world.
King Husain’s determination to drag his frail body out of its hospital bed to help ‘president’ Yassir Arafat sell out to Israel during the October ‘peace talks’ at the Wye Plantation, Maryland, demonstrates the Hashimite monarch has not lost any of his zeal as a western and Israeli surrogate after 46 years of loyal service...
Racist thugs who abuse and attack Muslims cannot be prosecuted, as Britain’s race laws ‘do not apply’ to Muslims, while anyone, including police dog handlers, meeting out similar treatment to a dog will be prosecuted and may be sentenced to a prison term.
From Nigeria through Pakistan to Indonesia, there is talk of tracing the billions of Muslim money salted away by the corrupt regimes that have taken turns to send their countries to the cleaners.
The economic, social and political upheavel and the rising tide of racism in Russia have created the psychological environment for a Jewish exodus. And the Israeli government...
The prosecutors in the trial of 138 Muslim men and women which opened in Paris on September 1 did not even bother to present any evidence of guilt, relying instead on mere innuendo and assertions that the accused had maintained links with ‘terrorist groups’ in Algeria before their arrest in 1994 and 1995.
Tribal and regional divisions, official corruption and Saudi machinations continue to bedevil a country that is traditionally unruly and had a civil war only four years ago.
The French senate is set to consider a bill passed by the French National Assembly which recognizes the alleged genocide of Armenians by Turks during the first world war.
Why has Mu’ammar Qaddafi managed to survive so many assassination attempts during his 28-year rule? Could it have anything to do with his all-female bodyguards, who have been described ‘wearing their kalashnikovs like Gucci fashion accessories’...
The five European Union (EU) States which first began to swoop on their Muslim populations at the end of May in a cowardly and cynical exploitation of the World Cup did not exactly use those words.
The US and its Zionist allies, enlisting the support of diaspora Egyptian Copts, have embarked on a highly irresponsible and cowardly campaign to incite Egypt’s Coptic minority against its Muslim majority.
The smokescreen that is alternatively known as the ‘peace process’ is obscuring not only Israel’s long-term plan to steal the occupied territories but also the fact that the region has become a virtual hell-on-earth as a result of the economic, political and ‘security’ measures adopted...
Israelis, whose State was founded 50 years ago, and expanded since through naked aggression and unremitting acts of terrorism, might have loudly deplored Mossad’s humiliating failure to assassinate Khaled Meshal...
Can a country which is too proud to apologize to ‘natives’ for the massacre committed by its own troops (in Amritsar, India) as long ago as 1919 bring itself to admit that the ‘mad cow disease’ and the related Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (CJD) it hosts, and exports, have put world health at risk - when such admission is certain to lead to political and economic consequences?
The Saudi rulers are about to undergo, for the first time, the humiliating experience of a public drubbing by a fully paid-up member of the desert kingdom’s inner elite.