Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt, a brief background !

A little background on the Egyptian situation is probably appropriate for those not familiar with the ancient nations' recent history. Egypt went to war with Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973. Egypt, being the Arab worlds largest nation was Israel's most feared enemy. However in 1978 the President of Egypt, Anwar Sadat entered into negotiations with the Jewish state to formally end hostilities. In 1979 Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David accords, brokered by former US President Jimmy Carter. For making peace with Israel, Egypt was expelled from the Arab League for what was seen as treachery of the highest order. The Camp David Accords are still seen as a betrayal by many in the Arab world, not least because it was seen as freeing up the Israeli Defence Forces allowing them to launch a war against Lebanon in 1982. If the Muslim Brotherhood were to come to power in Egypt in the next few months, you can be guaranteed they will tear up the accords. Sadat himself would pay the ultimate price for the Peace Treaty. He was killed in one of the most high profile and dramatic assassinations of the 20th century. On the 6th of October 1981 he was gunned down during the annual victory parade held in Cairo to celebrate Egypt's crossing of the Suez Canal in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. His assassins were members of Islamic Jihad, an associate group of the Muslim Brotherhood who had infiltrated the army upon which they shot him dead, along with eleven others as they paraded past the bandstand where Sadat and many other dignitaries were present.

The dramatic and bloody scene, moments after members of Islamic Jihad broke formation during the military parade, approached the podium and assassinated Anwar Sadat.

One of whom present on the band stand was Vice President and former Air Force General Hosni Mubarak who barely escaped with his life. He has ruled Egypt ever since. Incidentally, another man present was James Tully, the Irish Minister for Defence. Tully, a Labour man who was part of the short lived Fine Gael Labour coalition of 1981/82 was wounded in the face with shrapnel. Murbarak maintained the peace treaty with Israel and over the decades he strengthened the relationship with both America and Israel while ruthlessly cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition movements. It would appear that Mubarak's refusal to reform or democratise over his 30 years in power will be his undoing as I believe it is increasingly obvious, he is in the last weeks of his dictatorial rule. Good riddance !

Photo of the Day

I did something this weekend I have been meaning to do for years. I visited Glasnevin cemetery where Ireland's patriots are buried. The above headstone is that of Cathal Brugha. Cathal Brugha was an exceptionally brave yet notoriously stubborn character. He was severely wounded in the 1916 Rising. He was elected to the first Dail in 1919 and in January of that year he became Minister of Defence in the underground revolutionary Dublin which London refused to recognise. After the war against Britain he opposed the Anglo Irish Treaty unreservedly. He was completely uncompromising on the Republic which he has sworn allegiance to in 1916 and in 1919. Apart from De Valera, he was the most notable opponent of the Treaty. He developed a particular dislike for Michael Collins during this time. When the Civil War eventually broke out in Dublin on the 28th of June 1922, he took part in the fighting on O'Connell Street which followed the shelling by the Free State Army of the anti treaty garrison in the Four Courts. It took the new army led by Michael Collins about four days to secure the capital from anti Treaty resistance. Cathal Brugha was held up on the East side of O'Connell Street when the Army called on them to surrender. Brugha ordered the forty or so men under his command to surrender. However after all his men had surrendered, Brugha emerged as the last man brandishing a revolver which he proceeded to fire whilst shouting "Long Live the Republic". The free State officer in command did no have the heart to shoot him dead so he wounded him in his leg. However, the wound did prove fatal and Brugha died from his injury three days later on the 7th of July. A heroes death if ever there was one.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Egypt Still Rising

I have a feeling that this could become an iconic image. To keep up to date with rapidly changing events in Egypt, I recommend Al Jazeera's live blogging service.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Egypt Rising

Less than a week after my post entitled, Tunisia Rising,
Egypt is now in a state of violent unrest that threatens the survival of Hosni Murbarak's 32 year old regime. These latest events in Egypt have stunned me. It is amazing to think it all began with a disgruntled street vendor self immolating in Tunisia. It might end with a number of the Middle East's dictators being consigned to history's dustbin. I have great admiration for the Egyptian people who have said enough is enough, we are not willing to tolerate another 30 years of rule by Hosni Junior. I hope, I really really hope it ends well for them. What I mean by that is that I fear Mubarak, whose reign is I believe in its final weeks, will simply be replaced by another hard man disguising as a reformer, or worse by an Iranian style theocratic model led by the Muslim Brotherhood. The extremist Brotherhood have not yet featured but according to the New york Times they will be showing up at tomorrows protest. Everyones fear is that they will exploit this situation and hijack the legitimate grassroots movement that has spontaneously erupted. This is a real danger because unemployment and tackling corruption, the main grievances of the demonstrators in Egypt are issues that the Brotherhood are likely to be successful at dealing with, just as Hamas and Hezbollah have been in Gaza and Lebanon. When Mubarak falls, there must be a credible alternative, hopefully a democratic one, otherwise it is likely that the Muslim Brotherhood will take control of this massive nation. The international consequences of this would be staggering. The first thing to happen would be for the 1979 Israeli Egyptian peace treaty to be torn up. Hamas, buoyed by the Egyptian revolution and knowing that the new regime in Cairo would back them up will provoke a war with Israel. In the event of a war, the Egyptians would blockade the Suez canal seriously hampering global trade. This is all a very possible outcome. The next few weeks and how they unfold will I believe be among the most crucial days in the Middle East since the Iranian revolution. Reports tonight are that there is unrest in the Jordanian capital Aman. What in earth are we seeing here ?

This is the scene in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Wretched Policy of Apology"

During an appearance at the Iraq inquiry on Friday former British PM Tony Blair stated that the west must abandon its "wrethced policy of apology" toward Iran. He stated that we must stop "believing that we are causing what the Iranians are doing, or what these extremists are doing". He went on to say that "We are not. The fact is they are doing it because they disagree fundamentally with our way of life and they'll carry on doing it unless they are met by the requisite determination and if necessary, force."

The general narrative from those who believe the west and particularly America has caused Iran's belligerence is as follows.

Iran will not cooperate with the west because:

1. The British and Americans conspired together in 1953 to oust the popular Iranian leader Mohammed Mossadeq and proceeded to install the reliable pro western Shah or King as leader of the nation.

Reasons why this is not an excuse.
The CIA did indeed oust Mossadeq and they had no moral right to do so even if a Soviet dominated (not that this was guaranteed) Iran would have been a disaster for the world. I have no problem with any proud Iranian nationalist being greatly angered at such a national insult and humiliation. Obviously this is even more so if such a person or their family were victims of the Shah's brutality. However, Mossadeq was a leftist and the current Islamic regime hate all leftist. Since the Iranian revolution the Mullahs have murdered tens of thousands of left leaning political opponents, most of whom were supporters of late Mohammed Mossadeq. I do not accept that the 1953 episode explains Iran's sponsorship of terrorism and opposition to the Israeli Palestinian peace process.

2. The United States and other western powers backed Sadam Hussein's Iraq in the 1980-88 Iran Iraq war.

Reasons why this is not an excuse.
It is true that the US backed Sadam in the war. However that support only really materialised in 1982 when it appeared that Iran might win, something which literally no nation on earth wanted to see. Every Arab nation also backed Iraq in what they saw as an Arab war against Persia. Even the USSR wanted to see Iran's religious revolution fail. Once again I do not object to a certain element in Iran being bitter at western support for the Iraqi tyrant, particularly given the fact the Iraq would ultimately use chemical weapons on Iranian troops and bomb Iran's cities. But the truth is it was the Khomeini regime that dramatically escalated the war. It was the Mullahs who deliberately prolonged the war and used it in order to consolidate their power, sending hundreds of thousands of young men to their deaths in trenches and prison camps in the process. The West backed Iraq because they did not want to see Iran's Shiite theocratic model spread through out the region, just as the Mullahs are continuing to attempt to this day as they foment dissents among the Shia minorities throughout the Arab world. The war may be a legitimate grievance of the Iranian people but it is no excuse or justification for the world wide chaos the Iranians are hell bent on achieving.

The Iran Iraq war was exceptionally bloody. Over one million soldiers were killed in the fighting. Sadam had Kurdish civilans gassed to death in the Iraqi town of Halabja and Iranian cities were bombed.

3. The US still does not recognise the Islamic Republic and refuses to deal with Iran on the basis of respect and equality.

Reasons why this is not an excuse.
This is a constant complaint from Tehran. What it means in diplomatic code is that Iran is angered at American attempts to covertly undermine the regime in a similar way as the CIA did in 1953. They may or may not be trying to do so right now. But I do not believe that the Islamic nature of the Iranian regime is the basis for which Washington refuses to recognise Tehran. I believe it is the conduct of the regime. The Iranian regime has executed over 100,000 people since it came to power in 1979, the same year they took the American embassy staff in Tehran hostage. Furthermore Iran is the main sponsor of both Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, two organisations that are fanatically opposed to peace with Israel. During any efforts in recent times at a wider Arab Israeli peace agreement the Iranians have always thrown a spanner in the works by opposing any agreement and offering a life line to other hard line rejectionists in the process. For these reasons it is appropriate that the US should not recognise Tehran and that western powers should remain hostile to the Iranian government.

Tony Blair hit the nail on the head. Too many people seem to ask the question straight away, how have we upset Iran ? What can we to to make them less angry? This is the wrong question to ask because it is not about us, it is about them. This question is understandable because the US Iranian relationship is complicated. But when it comes to the crucial question of Iran's nuclear ambitions it is a careless question to ask, and dangerous at worst. If Iran becomes a nuclear power then Hezbollah become a nuclear power. If Hezbollah become a nuclear power then they will have the capability to do what they have been threatening to do ever since the group was formed, and that is to out do Hitler in their attempts to kill as many Jews as possible. The west must stop asking itself what it has done to upset Iran. It must confront the issue head on or it will be too late.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Photo of the Day

I had lunch yesterday in the Greville Arms Hotel in Granard Co Longford. I took this picture outside the Michael Collins Bar in the Hotel. The Greville Arms used to be owned by Kitty Kiernan (remember, the woman played by Julia Roberts in the movie). Michael Collins traveled to Granard in 1918 to organise the local volunteers. He met Kitty Kiernan at a political rally and returned many times to the hotel to see her until his death in August 1922. He also met regularly in the hotel with General Sean MacEoin, the leader of the most successful flying column in the midlands

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Jim Corr, fruit bat

This is some of the best TV I have seen in years on Irish television. On The Late Late Show last Friday Jim Corr, of the band The Corrs and Lord Christopher Monckton (an odd man in his own right), Deputy Leader of the UK Independence Party discussed conspiracy theories surrounding climate change and 9/11. Lord Monckton is challenged by Deirdre De Burca of the Green Party who naturally takes exception to his denial of Global Warming. Corr is then confronted by Irish based American left wing journalist Harry Brown who quite rightly raises the connection between anti semitism and 9/11 conspiracy theories. Hilarious, enjoy !

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Photo of the Day

A Palestinian flag greets drivers as one enters the Co Leitrim village of Ballinamore.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Fianna Fail Meltdown

My lovely long post on the Sudanese situation is lost and gone forever. When my rage subsides I may do it again. Anyway it is hard to avoid writing about the political madness happening in Ireland right now. Fianna Fail, the party that has dominated Irish politics since it first came to power in 1932 is in the middle of a meltdown. It is like watching a car crash in slow motion. In fact it is being compared on a daily basis to the Gubu era of the early 1980's of which this blog is named after. It was during these tumultuous days of IRA hunger strikes, playboy murderers and their political connections, recession, and political instability in Dublin that saw three general elections being called in 18 months that led people to describe events as being Grotesque, Unbelievable, Bizarre and Unprecedented. I don't think we are quite back there just yet, but the bad news keeps on coming. Roll on March 11th. For those of you unfamiliar with the events of the last 48 hours, I will let New York based Irish lobbyist Niall O'Dowd, writing for the Huffington Post, explain the situation.

After a day of complete chaos in the Irish parliament Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has called an Irish election for March 11, and in the process sealed the fate of his party, Fianna Fail (Feena Fawl).

The party is likely to be wiped out in the election. Latest opinion polls show them at 14 percent, down from 44 percent in the 2007 election.

They will likely fall to under 20 seats from the 77 they held after the last election. For a party that has been in power 22 of the last 24 years, it is an incredible collapse.

Fianna Fail has no equivalent anywhere in the world, in terms of their ability to hold on to power.

Since its inception in 1927, it has dominated Irish politics, but incredibly, now may be wiped out in one election.

The wheels finally came off when six of Brian Cowen's ministers resigned over the last 48 hours and Cowen found himself unable to replace them after his minority partner in power, the Greens, vetoed any such move.

Cowen's preference was to kick the election down the road, name new ministers and hope for the best, but now his bluff has been called. The Greens finally discovered their cojones and demanded an election date.

Fianna Fail will pay the price for the extraordinary economic collapse in Ireland.

The party collapse will be the legacy of the Wild West era since 2000, when developers and bankers aided by a cozy relationship with government politicians plundered the Irish economy, building ghost housing estates all over Ireland and granting massive loans to insiders.

No oversight of banks, no oversight of property speculation, no ability to read that the Celtic Tiger was about to crash has doomed the party.

The IMF eventually were called in to rescue Ireland, but left the Irish taxpayer saddled with $100 billion in debts from bad banks and toxic real estate deals.

The hatred and resentment against Fianna Fail is incredible to witness, which is why the ministers resigned knowing they could not get re-elected.

Now comes the comeuppance, the moment when Europe's most successful political party is brought to its knees.

After March 11, the Irish political landscape will never be the same again.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Blogger Glitch

I am having problems with blogger. I just lost a post on the partition of Sudan. It's enough to send a man straight to the pub. Anyway, I am working on fixing it !

Monday, January 17, 2011

Tunisia Rising

It is too early to say whether the recent events in Tunisia represent a genuine grass roots democratic movement. But it is encouraging. There are no democracies in the Arab World. North Africa is no exception. Under the dictatorship of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali Tunisia has been ruled with an iron fist since 1987. However when a local trader named Mohamed Bouazizi set fire to himself in the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid in protest at the police confiscating his fruit an vegetable stand, riots broke out which snow balled across the nation leading to a situation that forced Ben Ali to flee the nation he had dominated for decades. Like so many dictators before him he has sought refuge in Saudi Arabia. Today Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi who has stepped in as leader on an interim basis has released many political prisoners and lifted restrictions on the media. It is a good start. There will no doubt be concern in Washington, Tel Aviv and other capitals that this might provide an opportunity for Islamists to step into the vacuum and dominate the country in a similar way as happened in Algeria in the early 1990s. But we should be positive an optimistic and hope that this will be a lesson to all the autocrats across the Arab world that if you push your people too much for too long, the slightest little thing can trigger your down fall.

Photo of the Day

Not a great picture I know but I snapped this bit of Dublin in the rare old times yesterday and thought I would put it up. A man with a horse and cart delivers coal and briquettes to people in Ballyfermot, co Dublin.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ratings Driven Media

I have a new favourite American politician. Newly elected Governor of Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee (pictured), an independent politician, has forbidden any of his staff from conducting interviews on talk radio. He also intends to ban state employees from participating in debates on the various shows. His reasons are that he believes talk show radio is, "ratings-driven, for-profit programming," and "we don't think it is appropriate to use taxpayer resources" in the form of state employee work time to "support for-profit, ratings-driven programming." Yes, I have been saying this about the media for years. He goes on to say that he will "continue to talk to the news reporters for the local radio stations, and the nonprofit local NPR affiliate". he claims that talk show radio, like that held by Rush Limbaugh are ratings driven, I would go one step forward and say the same about Fox News and MSNBC.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Response to Myers

An Irish Muslim has responded to the recent Kevin Myers article with this letter to The Irish Independent.

As an Irish Muslim, I wish to point out what wasn't said in Kevin Myers' article yesterday in his latest attempt to whip up mass hysteria against Islam.

Modern Muslim authoritarian states in the Middle East were by and large creations of Anglo-French policies after World War One. Their purpose is to deny the re-emergence of a strong Muslim political system which would threaten European commercial interests. They did not evolve from Islamic ideology.

Terrorism is not inspired by Islamic teachings but is a product of perceived injustice. This occurs in any country (including Mr Myers' beloved Christian/ secular societies). Suicide and terrorism are frowned upon in Islamic teachings.

Democracy is not the great Nirvana portrayed by Mr Myers. Consent is manufactured and the people are treated as consumers. Europe is economically prosperous as a result of its colonial past and also because after the violence of World War Two, Europe received vast funds from the US.

Muslims seeking their own identity within a state that is officially 'open-minded' does not signify defiance of social norms. Mr Myers operates in the school of thought that you are either 'for us or against us'. If Muslims cannot choose to disagree with the majority (in a lawful manner), then what is the difference between that society and communist Russia?

Mr Myers talks about the great Graeco-Roman civilisation of North Africa and the Middle East. This was the same society that oppressed Christians if they didn't conform to the doctrine of the Trinity. Islam liberated those peoples.

It is ironic that in a continent where the sex slavery of women is becoming accepted (ie prostitution and lap-dancing clubs), female circumcision and the denial of female education are used as a stick to beat Muslims with.

Finally, I would like to conclude by saying that the overall impression created by Mr Myers, namely that all Muslims are in sleeper cells, is erroneous. We may choose to disagree but the majority of Muslims I know are committed to enhancing their society and reject rebellious and animal-like behaviour.

My View
The response by this Irish Muslim is generally weak. Firstly he complains about colonisation. This is a poor argument as there has been little colonisation of Arab land by Europeans over the centuries. What is now Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan were occupied by the British and French for about 30 years after World War One but this in itself is not a valid excuse for the dismal state of the Arab world. Saudi Arabia has never been colonised by Europeans yet it is the most corrupt and dictatorial nation in the Middle East. It has managed to achieve this status despite the absence of western troops.

According to this man terrorism is a result of perceived injustice. We are back here to my old favourite question of, do Islamic terrorists have hatred toward the west because of what the west does or because of what the west is. Percieved injustice may be a plausible argument if the perpertrator were an Iraqi, Afghan or Palestinian who had seen their home town destroyed with modern US, British or Israeli weaponry, but the truth is that international terrorist are never from these countries. They are Saudi, Somali or even Nigerian, they are second generation British Pakistanior French Algerian. They have never been harmed by the west. They do however have religion in common. Disassociating the religious connection is denial at best. Does he honestly think that it is coincidental that these mass murderers scream Allah Akbar prior to detonating themselves in civilian areas.

15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi citizens. They were mostly privileged young men from a country that has never been colonised by the west yet their hatred of America was extreme. Hatred of the west and not a "perceived injustice" is what motivated their decision to murder 3000 people in New York and Washington.

But it his critique of democracy that I find most interesting. “Democracy is not the great Nirvana” he claims. “Consent is manufactured and the people are treated as consumers“ and “the sex slavery of women is becoming accepted “. This is a typical argument made by conservative Muslims and Jihadists alike. Come to think of it, it is a similar argument made by the former Communist East and the fascist world before that. In fairness to the majority of conservative Muslims who do not endorse violent Jihad, we do not always make as good a case for democratic government and a free society as we could. At face value the western democratic model is far from perfect. Society, community and the family, all things which Muslims hold dear appear at times to be falling apart in the west. The reality is, when we in the west think democracy, many Muslims think, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and crime. I think George Bush nailed it at a 2004 NATO speech in Istanbul when he said,

"Some people in Muslim cultures identify democracy with the worst of Western popular culture and want no part of it, And I assure them, when I speak about the blessings of liberty, coarse videos and crass commercialism are not what I have in mind”.

I really think we need to better sell democracy to the Muslim world. Democracy is not just about free elections, accountability, free press and separation of powers. It is about living in a free society. And that means that you may not like what some people do with their freedoms. And that’s where Muslims have trouble. The Christian religion is about individual salvation where as Islam is about the communal good. And my understanding (I am open to correction here) is that in Islam the piety of society reflects the community as a whole and action must be taken against those who are contaminating society with their wicked ways. It is very difficult for some conservative Muslims living in the west to reconcile this aspect of their faith with the liberalism that they see all around them.

These Muslim women reject the liberal values of the west.

These Musims protesting in London seem to think that Shariah Law would solve Britains problems more efficiently.

On the odd occasion when I meet a person who holds such views I try to argue the following case. In a free society you can live your life however you choose. If you wish to live a pious life you can. You can worship freely. You can raise your children in a similar environment if you so wish. You can associate your self with whatever type of persons you want. There may be decadent temptations for your children but this is part of the challenge of living in a free society. You are in control of your own life. You make your own decisions. You make your own mistakes. Hopefully you will have good friends and family that set you on the right path but ultimately it is your life. As I have said, some people may choose foolishly and take the wrong road in life. But I believe, people who do so, and who eventually turn their lives around (as many do), such people find themselves in a much healthier place that those who have been living piously at the point of a bayonet.

Our disgruntled friend states that if “Muslims cannot choose to disagree with the majority (in a lawful manner), then what is the difference between that society and communist Russia?”. This is a true statement. Except I have never heard anyone in this country, or any other western democracy state that Muslims must agree or that they should not be permitted to make their case. He seems to be confused between being denied your point of view and being confronted on them.

Photo of the Day

This one is for Gary Graybill, brilliant blogger, regular Gubu World commenter and US Navy veteran. I took this picture recently in Balinrobe Co Mayo. It is of John King, a native of Balinrobe and one of only 19 men to ever win the Medal of Honor twice. He did so while serving in the US Navy during the Spanish American war (1901) and later during a boiler accident in 1909.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Myers on Muslims

Controversial journalist kevin Myers wrote the below article in The Irish Independent last week. Not surprisingly it has caused a bit of a stir.

YOU really can take your pick from the interconnected headlines of the past fortnight: the church-massacres of Christians in Egypt and Iraq by al-Qa'ida, and the murder of the governor of the Punjab, followed by a petition of support for his killer from 500 "moderate" Islamic scholars in Pakistan.

Closer to home there were the terrorist conspiracies in Denmark, Sweden and Britain, and the revelation that while the Christian population in Britain fell by two million in four years, the Muslim population there increased by 74pc to 2.9 million since 2001 (yes, the very year when Islamophobia supposedly became endemic).

But surely the most pathetic headline of all was the one announcing the Greek government's decision to build a 128-mile wall to keep out "illegal immigrants".

What a treasury of intellectual dishonesty and cultural cowardice is embodied in that term "illegal immigrant". For if Greece had a border with Germany, would it erect a barrier to keep illegal Germans out? Or English? Or Swedes? Unlikely somehow.

For some immigrants are more immigrant than others. What the Greeks are keeping out are their old friends from Anatolia, with whom they have been conducting a racial, religious and cultural struggle for over a thousand years. These used to be called Mussulman and later Ottoman and later still Turkish. Now they're called "illegal immigrants", in a nice congenial pretence that the illegal immigrant in Thessaloniki is much the same as the illegal immigrant in Arizona.

Which is certainly true, to a degree. The opening decade of the 21st Century has seen the clarification of the divide between Birth Control societies and those where Nature Inevitably Takes Its Course. The BC societies of the USA and the EU are facing increasing pressure to take in the population increases from NITIC countries along their southern borders: African countries double their population every 25 years, whereas Europe's population has gone up by 50pc in 90 years.

This is unquestionably a major issue for western (once-Christian) civilisations: how many immigrants should they admit? The even more important issue, concealed in the Greek government's wall-plan, is this: how many Muslim immigrants can any society take, and yet retain the qualities that made it attractive to Muslims in the first place?

Now aside from "refugees" from one Muslim country to its neighbour, there's little sign of mass-population movement from one Islamic country to another. Bangladeshis, Pakistanis. Afghans, Somalis, may operate as guest workers in Saudi Arabia, where they have no rights, but if they seek a brighter economic future, they move their families to the Christian/secular countries of Greater Europe, which includes North America and Australasia.

And of course, if the immigrants then conform with local norms -- as British Hindus and Sikhs have usually done -- then there is usually no long-term problem. The result is a cultural enrichment and fusion in which everyone gains.

This is simply not true of Muslim immigration. Not merely is there not a single stable, prosperous Muslim democracy in the world, free of terrorism and fundamentalism, there is no society that has received large numbers of Muslims that has not soon been confronted by an Islamic defiance of existing societal norms. This defiance can be cultural, in which dissident dress code is sought as a religious right; or educational, in which Muslims are raised within their own autonomous school system; or legal, with a demand for Sharia law; or insurrectionary, in which local Muslims opt for terrorist jihad against the state which admitted them.

No European country -- not one -- that has admitted large numbers of Muslims has been spared any of these outcomes.

No European country -- not one -- that has admitted Hindus has had to face any comparable problem.

THE EU's response has been to ignore what it finds uncongenial to talk about, as meanwhile dogmatic "multiculturalists" silence sceptics with the perverse gagging laws that have arisen in every European country. These make it almost impossible for Europeans to defend European values without being called "racist" or an "Islamophobe".

Perversity then heaps upon perversity, because the political group that has most to lose from the political triumph of Islam, feminism, is totally silent at its inroads. Somali girls are circumcised; polygamous Muslim men are given state-allowances for all their wives and children; and subordinate gynaecostans are created for women in British cities, in which the burqa (body covering), hijab (head covering) and niqab (face veil) are becoming almost mandatory. Meanwhile, girls are covertly being withdrawn from education and prepared for forced marriage. Yet the feminists stay silent.

It might very well be that Islam, with its unapologetic determination to spread its norms wherever it goes, will prove to be the more robust and vigorous civilisation. So be it. In which case, might the 128-mile Greek Wall not simply join the Maginot Line and the Great Wall of China as yet another historically doomed defensive line? Well, not quite.

There is still a China, still a France. But what about the great Graeco-Roman Christian civilisations that once existed across Asia Minor and North Africa, from Anatolia through Syria and Tunisia and on to Casablanca, and which failed to defend themselves against militant Islam? What remains of them? The remains remain.

- Kevin Myers

A Few Points of My Own

Kevin Myers has disappointed me of late. In truth I think he is becoming a controversy junkie. Furthermore, he makes some points in the above article that are at best, a bit odd. Not least of which are his views on the great Graeco-Roman civilisation. His article however does begin with an accurate account of recent outrages committed against Christians in the Arab world as well as the insane attempts at Jihadist mass murder in Scandinavia.

However, his comparisons between the birth control nations and the "let nature take its course" nations is something which makes me feel deeply uncomfortable. The charge of over breeding is one that has been laid at many ethnicity's that have been the subject of discrimination in the past, including the Irish. And while I agree that the changing demographics of Europe is a cause for concern, this is an immigration issue, not a birth control issue. The argument was made in bad taste.

The assertion by Myers that Muslims assimilate less well than other immigrants and that host nations who take in large numbers of Muslims will have to deal with "Islamic defiance of existing societal norms" is undoubtedly true. This happens primarily in European countries with one million plus Muslims, especially if there is a concentration from one or two different Islamic nations.

I don't accept the point by Myers that it is impossible to defend European values without being accused of racism. To me, this is whinging. I don't care if somebody calls me a racist because I know I'm not. I certainly will not retreat from the debate for fear of such an accusation. I will never be intimidated out of aggressively and apologetically confronting that element within Islam, that is undemocratic and promotes disharmony, particularly when it emerges in Europe and especially in my own country.

Of course his final point goes without saying. The inability of many liberal feminists to speak out against the oppression of women in Muslim countries is shameful, utterly shameful.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Arizona Murders

A brief comment on the Arizona shootings. I observe American politics intensely, both through cable news and via the blogosphere. When I heard about the shooting I was shocked and saddened. My second thought was that I knew what kind of debate the murders would immediately trigger. The civility debate. Who is worse, the far left or the far right. Who is more irresponsible, the Tea Party or the far left people. I have very little interest in this debate. It is predictable and boring. What I do know is that there are a lot of eccentric people on the fringes of American politics. It is the responsibility of all mainstream politicians to put these people in their place, reign them in and never give them any encouragement, subtle or otherwise.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Photo of the Day

The Big Wheel outside the Point Theatre (02) in Dublin.

Next Post Monday on recent controversial article by Kevin Myers on Muslim integration.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Zionist Sharks and Vultures

Do Arabs hate Israeli because of what they do or because of who they are ? This is the most fundamental question to be asked regarding the Israeli Palestinian conflict and for that matter the wider war on terror or clash of civilisations or whatever way you wish to describe the current tension between the West and the Muslim world. There are times when I think it is because of what the Israelis do, ie the occupation, heavy handed tactics, the wall, settlements ect. But then there are times when I know it is based on old fashioned hatred of the Jew.

During my time in the Middle East I came across many examples of the deeply rooted anti semitism that exists in the Arab world. Probably the most outrageous claim I ever heard was that the Israeli were responsible for the 2004 Asian tsunami. Apparently it was in fact caused by the Israeli navy conducting a nuclear experiment that wiped a quarter of a million people of the face of the earth. In recent weeks, some equally bizarre conspiracies have emerged.

Last month a German tourist was killed in a shark attack at the Egyptian resort of Sharm e-Sheikh. The Egyptian authorities have not ruled out that it was a Mossad plot designed to damage the tourism industry. Read the full article here.

And last week the Saudi authorities detained a vulture on suspicion of being an Israeli spy, seriously. A vulture with a Tel Aviv university tag was captured in Saudi Arabia on suspicion conducting espionage of some sort. The bird was being tagged by students at the university for research purposes when it crossed the border. Read about it here.

Jewish sharks have been terrorising swimmers in the Red Sea

It is easy to laugh at such stories. But in truth, these anecdotes represent a much more sinister reality in the Arab world where the most primitive form of Jew hatred is still widespread. In the Arab world it no doubt stems from the Prophet Mohammed's expulsion of the Jews from Medina in the 7th century, an event which is celebrated in rather theatrical terms. Today, conspiracy theories which claim that the Jew is working internationally to destroy Islam and everything sacred to Muslims are widely believed. The Jewish plot is so wide spread, so detailed, it exists on so many levels that it cannot be defeated, all that can be done to stop it, is to kill Jews, all Jews, everywhere. This is the thinking of Al Quaeda and many other extremists groups. And it is I believe the thinking that bubbles beneath the surface in much of the Arab world. Why else would Pakistani Jihadists, while launching an attack on the Indian city of Mumbai, take time out from their savage assault to locate the only synagogue in town and kill all its inhabitants. This level of anti semitism rivals and at time succeeds the thinking which inspired the Protocols of the Elders of Zion which led to the pogroms against the Jews in Russia and later in Nazi Germany. Until this form of hatred is confronted internally, the main agenda of the Jihadist will be the destruction of Israel, disguised as the liberation of Palestine. The final point I want to make is important. I do not let the Israelis off the hook. I am not one of these people who say that the Palestinians will hate the Israeli regardless, therefor it doesn't matter what the Israelis do. Israel's conduct is not always honourable and the occupation and the conduct of the IDF is of course relevant but that is a debate for another day.

Photo of the Day

An unusual photo of President Obama, outside a jewelery shop in Dublin City.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Should MKO be legalised

The Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MKO)organisation are a dissident Iranian group that are violently opposed to the Islamic Republic. They have been on the US state Department list of terrorist organisations since 1997 when President Clinton placed them on the list as part of a detente between Washington and Tehran. MKO were up until 2009 also considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union. However the EU reversed that decision after a lengthy legal battle with the French based organisation. There are now calls for the US to follow suit. Last week Prominent US Republicans including former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former White House adviser Frances Townsend and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, flew to Paris to speak in support of the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MKO)organisation. This from the Washington Post

PARIS - A group of prominent U.S. Republicans associated with homeland security told a forum of cheering Iranian exiles here Wednesday that President Obama's policy toward Iran amounts to futile appeasement that will never persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear projects.

"Appeasement of dictators leads to war, destruction and the loss of human lives," Giuliani declared. "For your organization to be described as a terrorist organization is just really a disgrace."

The four GOP figures appeared at a rally organized by the French Committee for a Democratic Iran, a pressure group formed to support MEK.

Their crowd-pleasing appeals, they said, reflected growing bipartisan sentiment in the U.S. Congress and elsewhere that the 13-year-old terrorist designation of the Paris-based dissident group should be ended because it is unfounded and has not made the Iranian government easier to deal with or halt its nuclear program. In addition, they noted, a Washington federal appeals court in July ordered Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to review the listing, and cast doubt on some of the information brought forward to support it.

Read the entire article here

There are a couple of points I want to make.

1. The trip to Paris by the republicans reeked of being a partisan stunt for the purpose of throwing a dig at Obama. Guliani in particular is obsessed with the appeasement concept and I have heard him use it on occasions when it was entirely inappropriate. He compares just about everything to 1938 Europe. Conservatives like to criticise Obama for being weak on national security. However, the objective ones concede that he has pursued the war on terror in a more aggressive fashion than they would have thought. They also know that the Iranian situation is an exceptionally difficult tightrope to navigate and that his approach to Iran has been little different than the previous administration. So while I welcome the debate on MKO, I think it was a cheap shot by Guliani and co.

The French based MKO harbour an intense hatred of the Islamic Republic.

2. As the article points out, the MKO are a controversial organisation to put it mildly. They were originally the Marxist portion of the revolutionary movement that culminated with the over throw of the Shah in 1979. Their left wing agenda was obviously incompatible with that of Khomeini and the Mullahs so it wasn't long before they started butchering each other. MKO's most spectacular attack came in June 1981 when they killed 70 high ranking officials of the new Islamic government in a bomb attack at their party headquarters. Perhaps most controversially though, the MKO backed Iraq in the Iran Iraq war. MKO fighters that avoided death or capture at the hands of Khomeini's regime fled to Iraq where they were pledged support by Sadam Hussein who was at that time engaged in an all out war with Iran. In the days following the UN brokered ceasefire that ended the Iran Iraq war in 1988, 7000 MKO fighters invaded Iran from Iraq in an attempt to overthrow the regime. It failed. However, I believe the real legacy of MKO's alliance with Iraq is that they are now detested within Iran. While MKO remains popular with many Iranians in exile I suspect they have little or no support at home. The eight year war with Iraq means everything to the Iranian people. Everyone knows someone who fought and died in the conflict. The memory of the war is part of Iran's national character and its legacy continues to have a deep psychological effect on the nation, similarly to how Britain viewed the war during the 1950s and 60s. The Iranian nation, so famously nationalistic will never forgive MKO for siding with the enemy. This makes support for them only positive in the sense that they could be a thorn in Tehran's side in the event of war, but it would be counter productive if subtle regime change is the agenda.

3. The wider issue of to what extent the US should support opposition movements is relevant here. Any opposition movement in Iran should be seen as indigenous. Although this is a moot point because any internal dissent in Iran will automatically be smeared as a puppet of the west by the regime. Supporting militant, even violent opposition would be even more risky. Iran already does initiate attacks on US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan via its proxies, however Tehran could drastically increase the quantity of such attacks, destabilising the situations in those countries in the process. But again this is a bridge that will eventually have to be crossed, as the show down over Iran's nuclear programme reaches its climax.

In conclusion I have to say that for now, I believe that unleashing MKO on Iran would accomplish little. As I have said many times on Gubu World the only positive solution I see to the Iranian crisis would be if it turns out that the US has been in secret negotiations with Tehran about an opening, Nixon China style. This is unlikely I accept but permitting a nuclear Iran is unacceptable, and striking their nuclear facilities probably wont work and will be met with devastating retaliation. The military option may be necessary, but this third way is the only potential solution that does not end in war. My advice, keep the MKO card for a later date. Who knows perhaps maintaining the ban on MKO might be part of such an opening. If Iran were to give up its nuclear programme in its entirety as part of such an agreement, it would certainly be worth it.

Maher interviews Carter

I just had to put this up. Probably my favourite political comedian Bill Maher interviewed former President Jimmy Carter last October but I only came across it today for some reason. Now I know many conservatives would probably puke if they were forced to listen to these two men chatting casually among themselves but I think most fair minded people can acknowledge that they are both very interesting men. In fact, I think Jimmy Carter is possibly the most fascinating man to ever sit in the oval office. Note: this bares no relation to the quality of his presidency but come on, a former naval officer and staunchly liberal, evangelical Christian from the deep south who made it to the highest office in the land, now that's the kind of man I would want at my fantasy dinner party. And I think that is why I like Carter, political pundits that are so obsessed with putting people in political boxes have never been able to figure Carter out. And I respect that about him because I too do not like being described as an anything. I was also immediately attracted to this interview in the hope that the two liberal lions would discuss religion but perhaps wisely, the evangelical and the religion mocking atheist avoided the subject. It make interesting viewing regardless. Enjoy !

Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 Predictions

A very happy new year to all my readers. I hope the new template meets with your approval. I have big intentions for Gubu World this year which will become very clear by the end of January. In the mean time, here are my predictions for what will dominate the news, and Gubu World for 2011.

I predicted that the Cold War with Iran would eventually become hot in 2010. I was wrong. But 2011 might very well be the year. Just today, reports are emerging that the Iranian military shot down an unmanned US spy drone. There are further indications that the war with Israel may be heating up too as just last week Tehran executed an alleged Israeli spy. I believe an Israeli strike is now imminent. Only an 11th hour opening to Iran by President Obama similar to Nixon's shock opening to China will prevent a war.

Israel Palestine
The lack of progress in the recent talks, plus the continued expansion of Jewish settlements in combination with today's bad news that a Palestinian armed with a bottle was shot dead at a West Bank check point does not bode well for the future. Today's incident, or another one similar could very well trigger a third intifada. Hamas or Hezbollah would not stay quiet in such in such a scenario.

2011 will be a make or break year for the NATO effort in Afghanistan. I fear the war in Afghanistan is going very badly for NATO. There were 712 combat fatalities in 2010. The truth is I do not know what is happening there. The information coming from the country is very controlled. I will however make an effort to write some detailed posts on the war in the coming weeks in order to ascertain what is really going on.

The above image was captured on New Years Day after an incident in Southern Afghanistan in which two American soldiers were killed.

Fianna Fail, the party that has dominated Irish politics since the foundation of the state will be decimated in the next election, likely to be held in March. Fine Gael, a far more responsible and dependable party will lead the next government. An interesting side note of this is that Alan Shatter, a devout Jew and Zionist, who received a promotion to the front bench recently due to his decision to back the leader Enda Kenny in a recent attempt to oust him, will now be the next Irish Minister for Justice. I can't wait to comment on his inevitable clashes with the Dail's many pro Palestinian activists as he passionately defends the Israeli cause.

70 Years Ago Today 2/01/41

North Africa: HMS Terror, HMS Aphis and HMS Ladybird bombard the port of Bardia in Axis controlled Egypt. The bombardment is in preparation for an allied landing led by Australian troops, set to occur on the following day.

Germany: 95 RAF planes attacked the industrial German city of Bremen dropping 20,000 incendiaries as well as tons of high explosives. The raid by the RAF, and the use of incendiaries to spread fires is a retaliation for the recent Luftwaffe attack on London which devastated the city, destroying many famous buildings and killing nearly 1000 people.

London after the December 30th raid.

Ireland: On this day 70 years ago several bombs fell sporadically along the east coast of Ireland. In Co Carlow, 3 members of a family were killed when their home was hit. Also on this day it is believed that a number of German agents parachuted into neutral Ireland in order to make contact with the local IRA who would escort them to Northern Ireland where they could spy on British military installations. The Irish government would soon be threatened by the British who would claim that such activities undermine its neutrality. Eamon De Valera's government would ultimately succeed in interning the majority of the IRA