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02.01.06 Tale of two Presidents
February 1 Richard Wolffe and Holly Bailey, Newsweek, portray an interesting view of President Bush's State of the Union speech: The State of the Union was a tale of two presidents. One was gracious about his opponents, seeking common ground for the sake of the nationıs future. The other accused his critics of being isolationists, pacifists, protectionists and unpatriotic.
One wanted the downfall of tyrants and dictators; the other wanted the downfall or transformation of elected governments in Iran and the Palestinian territories. [More>>msnbc.msn.com Newsweek ; See another report on the State of the Union speech (popular among the world press) khaleejtimes.com (Reuters) "Bush wants US to cut its Middle East oil imports" : WASHINGTON President George W. Bush called on Tuesday called for slashing US oil imports from the Middle East by more than 75 percent by 2025, a goal the governmentıs top energy forecasting agency suggests will be almost impossible to meet.
In his annual State of the Union speech to Congress, Bush said the United States should reduce its reliance on foreign oil by developing alternative energy sources, such as ethanol-blended gasoline and hydrogen fuel cells to run pollution-free vehicles.
"America is addicted to oil, which is often imported from unstable parts of the world," Bush said. "By applying the talent and technology of America, this country can dramatically improve our environment move beyond a petroleum-based economy and make our dependence on Middle Eastern oil a thing of the past," he said...]
02.01.06 Why we need a clear strategy for success in Iraq Dianne Feinstein
February 1 In an E-mail to Maravot News, dated January 30, 2006, Senator Dianne Feinstein provides the following comments on the fate of Iraq. Her comments address what the State of the Union didn't, though written before the president made his speech.
Dear Mr. Copeland:
Thank you for writing me about the reconstruction of Iraq. I appreciate the time you took to write.
The Senate vote on the resolution to authorize the use of force in Iraq was difficult and consequential based on hours of intelligence briefings from Administration and intelligence officials, as well as the classified and unclassified versions of an important National Intelligence Estimate that comprehensively assessed Iraq's WMD program. It was based on trust that this intelligence was the best our Nation's intelligence services could offer, untainted by bias, and fairly presented. In this case it was not.
The bottom line is that Iraq did not possess nuclear, chemical or biological weapons in 2003 when the war began. Saddam Hussein did not have an active nuclear, chemical or biological weapons program. Considering the statements that were being made by the Administration, and the intelligence that was presented to Congress which said otherwise, this points once again to major failures in the analysis, collection and use of intelligence.
On top of these intelligence failures, the Administration's war planning was shortsighted and ill-conceived. By failing to provide adequate troop levels to secure Iraq and its borders and ignoring requests from General Shinseki and others to increase troop levels, the Administration placed the entire mission in Iraq in jeopardy.
While the situation in Iraq causes all of us deep and growing concern, I recognize that setting a specific date for withdrawal of all American troops, without completing this mission, carries with it the particular hazard that Iraq would deteriorate into chaos, civil war, and a terrorist state would evolve thereby destabilizing the Middle East. Terrorists would be re-invigorated by America turning tail and running, and would increase their efforts to attack westerners and in particular, Americans.
However, I do believe that once a permanent Iraqi leadership is established as a result of the election held on December 15, 2005, there will be an opportunity to assess the stability and the results of American training of Iraqi police and military. It may well be that there will be a better opportunity to then begin a withdrawal.
To further this effort, on October 6, 2005, I joined a group of thirty-eight Democratic senators and one Independent to urge President Bush to provide the American people with a clear strategy for success in Iraq. Citing the aforementioned concerns about escalating sectarian violence, the risk of an outbreak of outright civil war, and conflicting reports on the status of actual progress in training Iraqi forces, we urged the Administration to immediately provide a strategy for success in Iraq.
Specifically, the letter posed four critical questions about the Administration's Iraq policy:
· How many Iraqi forces are needed to secure the country without US assistance before US forces can be withdrawn;
· What measures are planned to take place before and after the October 15th constitutional referendum to forge the necessary political consensus in Iraq and reconcile the growing sectarian and religious differences;
· What efforts are being undertaken to attain broader international support; and
· How should the American people assess the progress in reconstructing Iraq? What are the tangible results of the billions of dollars Americans have provided for Iraq's reconstruction?
I believe the Administration must provide the answers to these basic and fundamental questions about US strategy in Iraq because the American people and our men and women in uniform deserve to hear this vital information. I have attached a copy of my most recent op-ed on Iraq so that you may better understand my views of the current situation there.
Know that I will continue to carefully monitor events in the Middle East, and do my best to ensure that US policy is developed in a manner that allows our men and women to come home as soon as possible. As you know, the Executive branch and both houses are all controlled by Republicans, so they bear a larger responsibility in ensuring a successful outcome in Iraq.
Again, thank you for writing...
United States Senator
Senator Feinstein's op-ed, October 27, 2005:
"A war worth fighting? Not If we keep placing our troops In the bull's-eye of an insurgency that shows no signs of going away."
The approval of a new constitution by the Iraqi people is welcome news. But it contrasts dramatically with the fact that US troop fatalities have now surpassed 2,000.
We pay homage to the courage, sacrifice, and honor of over 2,000 American soldiers lost but not forgotten in our hearts. Their families grieve and suffer. Increasingly, they and other Americans demand answers about how we will disentangle ourselves from a situation that will undoubtedly take more American lives if we don't reconsider America's current mission and prospects in Iraq.
As we look forward, I believe the parliamentary election on Dec. 15 represents a significant turning point. For the first time in history, the Iraqi people will have democratically elected their permanent leaders to serve full four-year terms. Their constitution, problematic as it may be, has been adopted, and it is time for Iraqis to take greater control.
But the stark reality is that the violent insurgency will most likely continue unabated. This new constitution will not diminish the pervasive fear that exists today walking the streets in Baghdad, conducting business in Mosul, and driving the highway to Tikrit.
Sectarian causes Slaughter of the innocents
The fact is that a disaffected Sunni minority is the driving force behind an insurgency that kills innocent civilians daily for absolutely no good reason. This is not an insurgency single-mindedly propelling itself against US forces, rather, at its core it is driven by visceral Sunni fear and objections to Shiite rule over the near and long term.
A growing perception is that US military forces buttress the Shiites. As a result, we pay a high cost, in lives lost and casualties. We need to change course to remove ourselves from being the literal and figurative target of Sunni enmity.
These elections, once completed, should signal a major re-evaluation of US policy and the American mission in Iraq.
We are in the middle of two factions, Shiite and Sunni, attempting to settle their differences by mostly violent means. Sunni extremists have killed over 8,000 Iraqis so far this year and estimates indicate 25,000 to 30,000 Iraqis have lost their lives since the war began.
I believe this is a matter for Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds to address through political negotiation. This battle cannot be won militarily. Drawing down our troop strength will not only take our service men and women out of harm's way, but it will also force Iraq's religious and political leaders to confront the insurgency and find a balance of power acceptable to Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. The alternative a continuation of this slaughter of innocents will only continue to grow with the inevitable result: a drift into a civil war.
It has become increasingly clear that the continued American presence in Iraq is a lightning rod for violence. It does nothing to diminish the Shiite-Sunni hatred. Rather, it makes reconciliation less likely. It gives the insurgents an enemy to rally against they are waging jihad against an occupying force when they are in fact waging war against their fellow Muslims.
Ultimately, the Iraqis will have to defend themselves and confront the insurgency, both militarily and politically. The question is when.
As long as the United States is perceived as the bulwark for the Shiite majority, this coming to terms is hindered, not helped.
Training Iraqi forces
In the interim period ahead, US forces will have a significant role to play, especially in the areas of training and rebuilding infrastructure.
The Pentagon estimates that an additional 125,000 Iraqi security personnel will be needed to bring total strength to 325,000. The United States must do everything it can to continue to train soldiers and prepare them to assume the security obligations of the nation. For starters, we need to increase the number of US military personnel providing initial training to the Iraqi forces from the current 1,200.
This does not necessarily mean that all Iraqi forces will be trained to the level of US forces that is unlikely but the real benchmark is for Iraqi units to have a basic level of training and equipment to safeguard their towns, cities and communities.
If Shiites and Sunni can reconcile, Iraq can be a place of peace and prosperity where Iraqis can walk the street and engage in business, and democracy can thrive.
America needs to change course, reassess its mission in light of this escalating insurgency, place more responsibility on Iraq for a negotiated settlement, and begin a structured drawdown of American forces. [End]
02.05.06 Captain and crew abandon ferry; confiscate lifejackets before leaving
CAIRO (AFP) February 3 Many people were feared dead on Friday when an Egyptian ferry with some 1,400 on board, including many Muslim pilgrims, sank in the Red Sea during a crossing from Saudi Arabia to Egypt. Fourteen bodies had already been recovered amid fears of a much higher death toll, while survivors were battling for their lives in lifeboats in heavy seas. [More>>khaleejtimes.com ; See other details:
thestar.com.my, "Ferry with 1,272 passengers sinks in Red Sea" : CAIRO (Reuters) - A ferry carrying nearly 1,300 passengers sank in the Red Sea overnight on a trip from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, and search and rescue teams pulled at least 45 dead bodies from the water, Egyptian officials said on Friday. The teams also plucked up to 100 survivors from the sea, security and rescue officials said. Plane and boat rescue operations continued as darkness fell but hopes diminished of finding more people alive...
haaretzdaily.com, "Egyptian ferry with 1,415 people on board sinks in Red Sea" : A ferry carrying 1,415 passengers sank in the Red Sea overnight on a trip from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, and search and rescue teams retrieved dozens of dead bodies from the water, official sources said on Friday. Coast Guard vessels pulled dozens of bodies from the water Friday, and at least 180 survivors escaped on lifeboats...]
Why the Crusade & Jihad?
(Maravot News November 25, 2004)
Without rehashing the history of Western Civilization in one paragraph, we can ascribe Christian and Jewish sentiments to defend Israel and to view America as the anointed of God (Allah,
in the Koran) to perceptions of pastors who spend more time feeding on the flock than feeding them. If the flock were fed properly it would not believe that it is just to kill on behalf of God. The Christian and Jewish scriptures all agree that vengeance belongs to God (i.e., as in Psalm 94.1), that the Warrior of God is a man of peace, just and charitable. I have always believed (and I know Jesus adhered to this old teaching) that if God wants to kill someone let Him kill them himself. You don't need to be his agent, in my opinion. But you can assist in bringing peace to the world.
There is no doubt that during the Axis Age (600 B.C.) the great sages, Lao Tzu, Confucius, Buddha and Jeremiah later followed by Socrates agreed that doing good and avoiding evil towards your fellow man was the answer. They all believed in the Golden Rule: Don't do to others that which you would not want done to you. Upon this one teaching all the teachings of the Bible rest.
Sealed Golden Gate with the Dome of the Rock behind and a Muslim cemetery in the foreground may be the gateway to Peace in Jerusalem. It was where the priests and prophets of Israel gathered; called the Gate of Righteousness by the Prophets.
Good news! The Koran says that everything in the Jewish Scriptures (Old Testament) and Gospel (New Testament) are true! As I pointed out many years ago in a conversation with Wm. F. Buckley Jr. in a series of books, including Philistia triumph thou because of me, there are points in the Koran upon which the Jews, Christians and Moslems can reconcile their disagreements, such as:
Koran, The Cow: And now that a Book confirming their own book has come to them from Allah, they deny it, although they know it to be the truth and have long prayed for help against the unbelievers...when it is said to them, 'Believe in what Allah has revealed,' they reply, 'We believe in what was revealed to us.' But they deny what has since been revealed, although it is the truth, corroborating their own scriptures.
Koran, The creator 36.24: Your only duty is to give warning...What we have revealed to you in the Book is the truth confirming previous scriptures.
Koran, Kneeling 45.16 We gave the Scriptures to the Israelites and bestowed on them wisdom and prophethood.
Koran, AL-AHQAF 46.12 Yet, before it the Book of Moses (Torah) was revealed, a guide and a blessing to all men. This Book confirms it.
Koran, Women 4.47 You, to whom the Scriptures were given! Believe in that which we have revealed, confirming your own scriptures...
Koran, The Cow 2:116 The Jews say the Christians are misguuided, and the Christians say it is the Jews who are misguided. Yet they both read the Scriptures. And the pagans say the same of both. Allah (5) will judge their disputes on the Day of Resurrection.
We can see, therefore, that Moslems are taught via the Koran to honor the scriptures and teachings Christians and Jews honor. Also, with respect to the Koran's teachings on Moslem behavior, it is clear that a Moslem cannot wage war against another Moslem, as is currently going on in Iraq and has been so throughout history:
Koran, Women 4.92 It is unlawful for a believer to kill another believer except by accident.
To dispel any confusion on the Koran's view of people who do not believe in the Koran (notwithstanding the verses cited above) Mohammed went a bit too far, in my opinion, when he listed the following which confute the Bible (I know on the Day of Resurrection noted above my reading will be upheld).
Koran Repentance 9.20 Those that have embraced the faith and fled their homeland and fought for Allah's cause with their wealth and their persons are held in higher regard by Allah. It is they who shall triumph. Their Lord has promised them joy and mercy, and gardens of eternal bliss where they shall dwell forever. Allah's reward is great indeed.
9.116 ...Allah has purchased of the faithful their lives and worldly goods and in return has promised them the Garden. They will fight for His cause, slay, and be slain. Such is the true pledge which he has made them in the Torah, the Gospel, and the Koran. And who is more true to his promise than Allah? Rejoice then in the bargain you have made. That is the supreme triumph.
Koran, Women 4.91 Others you will find who seek security from you as well as from their own people. Whenever they are called back to idol-worship they plunge into it headlong. If these do not keep their distance from you, if they neither offer you peace nor cease their hostilities against you, lay hold of them and kill them wherever you find them. Over such men We give you absolute authority.
4.92 It is unlawful for a believer to kill another believer except by accident.
4.98 He that flies his homeland for the cause of Allah shall find numerous places of refuge in the land and great abundance. He that leaves his dwelling to fight for Allah and His apostle and is then overtaken by death, shall be rewarded by Allah.
4.104 Seek out your enemies relentlessly.
There are several verses that endorse Jesus some calling him a prophet of God (as they would have to once they accept the Gospels as truth). But the following verse is the gem of the lot, since it acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah. The Messiah means "anointed one" and the term was created and applied only in the Bible. Christians know the term as Christ, which is the Greek translation of the word. The fact is, based upon what we have seen in the Koran above, all Moslems must honor the teachings of Jesus the Messiah. If there is any confusion on those teachings it can be simply resolved by opening the Gospels and reading them. They all reduce down to the Golden Rule. And it is not important that you be a Christian, Jew or Moslem to practice the Golden Rule. If you practice the Golden Rule you satisfy the teachings. For if you know those teachings you know God and if you do them you are one with God. The scripture asks, "Can two walk together except they agree?" Jesus pointed out his point of view when answering a lawyer who asked, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus' answer boiled down to "loving thy neighbor as thyself," i.e., the Golden Rule. (Matthew 22.35-40)
Behold, the gem in the Koran of Jesus the Messiah, beyond the other verses endorsing the teachings of Jesus, which is a good foundation for some kind of reconciliation:
The Imrans, 3.45, 47
The angels said to Mary: 'Allah bids you rejoice in a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah,
Jesus the son of Mary. He shall be noble in this world and in the next, and shall be favoured by Allah. He shall preach to men in his cradle and in the prime of manhood, and shall lead a righteous life."
The term Messiah first appeared in the Bible. It means Anointed One and in Greek the term is Christ. Knowing this, then, we should endeavor to find a place of agreement and learn to walk together. A good part of the Old Testament has to do with the Messiah and what is expected of him.
One cannot walk blindly through scriptures and take them for granted however. Applying them for good becomes an art. It takes practice. One cannot apply scripture, for instance, through a rush to judgment. After all is said and done, when understanding has ruled over boiling sentiments, we can point to our results: charity, justice and mercy. Unfortunately, we are a long way from achieving those things in this current age. It may be, in order to achieve a higher level, to at least remove ourselves from a state of chaos, that we need to take account of our leaders. Then we must ask ourselves how it is that we let them lead us into this chaos. This is called, "confronting your own failures." Until both sides come to grips with the goodness that is in them, and do some good in order to gain in goodness, the Jihad will probably continue.
Now President George W. Bush would lead us to believe that we can kill off the Jihadists. I don't subscribe to his program and know that an invitation to reasoning together should bear more fruit. Who in the world would ever refuse this offer:
Isa. 1:18 "Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.
For more scriptural references on the subject, see 12.23.04 "US is losing war of ideas."
02.01.06 'Al-Qaeda' cell was planning suicide attacks
BEIRUT, February 1 Members of an al-Qaeda cell arrested recently in Lebanon had recruited Lebanese and Palestinian nationals in the country to carry out suicide attacks in Iraq, As Safir reported Tuesday. Several of the 13 alleged members confessed that they were able to convince Lebanese and Palestinians living in northern Lebanon, Bekaa and refugee camps to join groups planning to conduct suicide operations in Iraq, security sources were quoted as saying in the Lebanese daily. The sources said the recruits would have been prepared for the mission at training camps in neighboring countries.
The 13 people arrested, who were said to be affiliated with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, were arrested on different occasions starting from December 30 in Lebanon. They had crossed the border into Lebanon after spending years in Syria. The authorities found an arms cache belonging to the cell, including explosives, hand-grenades, Kalashnikovs and Light Anti-tank Weapon (LAW) rockets, according to the newspaper, http://www.dailystar.com.lb....Some of the detainees said they were planning to stage attacks in Lebanon that were similar to military operations conducted in Iraq...The suspects include three Lebanese, seven Syrians, a Saudi, a Jordanian and a Palestinian, court officials said. [Full story>>dailystar.com.lb]
02.01.06 Russia, China agree to refer Iran to UN
Bloomberg.com) February 1 Russia and China agreed to join the US, UK, France and Germany in backing the referral of Iran's nuclear program to the United Nations Security Council at a Feb. 2 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany's foreign minister, met for four hours over dinner in London. They agreed the IAEA "should report to the Security Council its decision on the steps required by Iran," a statement released by the US said.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan, speaking to reporters in Washington, said there is "a strong consensus" in the international community that Iran must suspend its nuclear activities. US diplomats have labored for months to persuade Russia and China, both of which have broad commercial interests in Iran, that the country's nuclear program should be taken up in the Security Council. The agreement didn't specify what action Russia and China would back at the Security Council, which may range from censure to sanctions. The IAEA is demanding that Iran declare all of its nuclear activities and suspend enrichment-related programs. [More>>chinadaily.com.cn]
02.01.06 Forces demolish Amona homes amid clashes
February 1 Security forces razed the nine houses slated for demolition in the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona on Wednesday, where at least 200 people were wounded, among them a youth listed in serious condition and dozens of policemen, during fierce clashes between right-wing protesters and security forces. Nine people were moderately wounded and the rest were lightly hurt in the violent clashed. All the buildings were evacuated by the afternoon, after opposition on the part of the demonstrators had substantially weakened. Police used more force during the Amona evacuation than employed even at the height of last summer's disengagement from the Gaza Strip. [More>>haaretz.com]
02.01.06 Opposition leader calls for change in West's Iran policy
PARIS, February 1 The main Iranian opposition coalition called on the international community on Tuesday to end its "policy of appeasement" and instead support "democratic regime change" in Iran. Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi told reporters at her headquarters in Auvers-sur-Oise that Tehran was bent on obtaining nuclear weapons.
"By appointing [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad to the Presidency, the Iranian regime has made a strategic choice to secure the regime's survival by obtaining nuclear weapons, devouring Iraq and showing enmity toward peace in the region," Rajavi, who is President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said. "The regime has only two choices, all or nothing. There is no middle-of-the road option. If it retreats a single step, it would slide toward disintegration and demisem," Rajavi, whose council was the first to reveal Tehranıs secret nuclear activities in 2002, added.
She was joined by British Lord Russell-Johnston, French Senator Jean Pierre Michel, Belgian Senator Patrick van Krunkelsven, and member of the European Parliament Paulo Casaca in the panel, who unanimously called on the EU to remove the terror tag on the main Iranian opposition group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq. [More>>iranfocus.com ; See also related story, Maravot News, "The rumour is that Iran will carry out a nuclear experiment in March.."]
02.01.06 London conference highlights Afghanistan plight
January 31 As Western nations pledge fresh funds to help rebuild Afghanistan at a conference in London, Afghan leaders warn that their poverty-stricken country remains plagued by a booming drug trade, a bloody campaign by Taliban insurgents and corruption. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says it will take up to 15 years to eradicate his country's poppy cultivation industry, which is the world's biggest supplier of heroin and makes up over half of Afghanistan's GDP. In an interview with the BBC, Karzai said he had been "quite naïve" to think the administration could wipe out the country's opium trade in just one year. The poppy growing industry, however, has flourished since the fall of the Taliban.
"Three years ago I thought we were going to destroy poppies this year and that's it," Karzai said. "But no, it is a real economy, there are people depending on it. It will take time to develop alternatives." He was speaking on the first day of an international conference where Afghanistan received promises of economic and military support from western nations. [More>>spiegel.de]
02.01.06 Muhammad cartoon row intensifies
February 1 Newspapers across Europe have reprinted caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to show support for a Danish paper whose cartoons have sparked Muslim outrage. France Soir, Germany's Die Welt, La Stampa in Italy and El Periodico in Spain all carried some of the drawings. Their publication in Denmark has led to protests in Arab nations, diplomatic sanctions and death threats. Islamic tradition bans depictions of the Prophet, but media watchdogs defend press freedom to publish the images. Reporters Without Borders said the reaction in the Arab world "betrays a lack of understanding" of press freedom as "an essential accomplishment of democracy." [More>>news.bbc.co.uk]
(2) The name, Allah, in Arabic is an expression of surprise. It is not unusual for the God of the Bible to be known by many names. Jewish Midrash quotes passages in the Old Testament (Torah) that cite as many as seventy names of God (and more). But they can all be reduced down to one name.
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