Friday, August 22, 2014
President Barack Obama is getting ready to act alone on immigration reform, just weeks before this year's congressional midterm elections.Immigrant advocates are pushing President Barack Obama to "go big and go bold" when he wields his executive authority in the coming weeks to shield potentially millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. But no matter what independent action Obama takes on immigration, big or small, it could scramble U.S. politics just weeks before the Nov. 4 congressional midterm elections and reverberate into the 2016 presidential election. Obama's unilateral move to provide deportation relief risks hurting the re-election campaigns of some fellow Democrats in the Senate and House by angering Republicans voters and spurring them to the polls. A political backlash could help Republicans retake the Senate in the coming November elections if Obama's action drives more angry Republican voters to the polls than Democrats who would want to reward him. Obama also risks alienating Republican allies of immigration reform, such as Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz, who was the lead GOP negotiator on last year's bipartisan reform bill — which passed the Senate in 2013 — and is warning Obama not to overreach on his own. Still, Obama's presidential legacy on immigration is at stake and he may be ready to "go big" despite the political ramifications. "I think the people want the president to be bold," said Petra Falcon, executive director of Promise Arizona, an immigration advocacy group. "They want the president to be a leader. He needs to be a problem solver. Right now, the finger-pointing unfortunately is going to be with the Republicans who did not want to act." The president has taken flak from both sides on immigration reform. He has been criticized by reformers for the record number of deportations during his administration. He has been frustrated by Republicans in the House, who declined to take up the Senate-passed bipartisan reform package. On June 30, Obama signaled that he would try to fix as much of the nation's broken immigration system as he could unilaterally. He directed Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to identify by summer's end the actions the administration legally can take "to do what Congress refuses to do and fix as much of our immigration system as we can" and vowed he would "adopt those recommendations without further delay." After numerous closed-door meetings, the timeline for presidential action is expected to be early to mid-September, although there already are rumblings that the president should push the decision until after Election Day. The injection of uncertainty — nobody is really sure how voters will react to Obama's announcement, which some advocates hope could protect up to 5 million immigrants from deportation — means more anxiety for targeted red-state Democratic senators such as Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Kay Hagan of North Carolina. All three have said on the record that they would prefer Obama continue to work with lawmakers on the issue rather than go it alone in a far-reaching way. Executive action by Obama also could put pressure on embattled Democrats in congressional swing districts, such as Reps. Ron Barber, Ann Kirkpatrick and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. By using his executive authority as president, Obama would try to reshape policy without going to Congress. But whatever he does would not carry the weight of a law and he could provoke a legal challenge if he tries to legislate on his own. Some of the recommendations Obama may be considering are: • Expanding his Deferred Action for Arrivals program. The program is currently limited to young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as minors. Some advocates are recommending that Obama expand the program to include undocumented parents and siblings of immigrants already approved. • Expanding the use of "parole in place" to include undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. who are eligible for green cards. That would allow them to get green cards without having to first return to their country and wait 10 years. • Allow some family members who have been deported to return to the U.S. to reunite with relatives in the U.S. who are citizens through the expanded use of "humanitarian parole." • Allow immigrants who receive deferred action, temporary protected status, asylum or refugee status to join the military and, after serving five years, be eligible for citizenship. Immigrants without permanent residency are currently barred from the military. There also are indications Obama could make concessions to business interests such as the high-tech industry in hopes of softening opposition to the other policy changes. But by going "big" and "bold," which is the mantra of the immigration advocates who are urging him on, Obama still likely would turn off reform-friendly Republicans such as McCain and others who supported the Senate bill. McCain is warning that unilateral executive action would be a death knell for the legislative effort to increase border security, modernize the visa system and offer a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. "It will dramatically inflame the opposition," McCain told The Arizona Republic. Obama already has concluded, some observers say, that the Republicans in Congress are unlikely to deliver any significant immigration reform during his presidency. As a result, the observers say, the president is now looking toward burnishing his legacy before moving into the lame-duck phase of his second term. "Is the midterm election his primary concern? I doubt it," said Frank Sharry, executive director of America's Voice, a national organization that advocates for comprehensive immigration reform. "I think his primary concern is playing to the history books. "He wants to be seen as someone who used every ounce of executive authority to protect as many immigrants as possible,. Not only will he go from being the 'Great Deporter' to the 'Great Emancipator,' but it will define the two political parties for a generation." The short-term cost could be the loss of Senate seats crucial to the Democratic majority and a widening of the gap in the GOP House. Republicans need to win six seats to take control of the Senate. A political backlash triggered by Obama's immigration action also could cause the Democrats to lose more ground in the House, where Republicans already outnumber Democrats 231-199. Others think that Obama acting on immigration could benefit the Democrats in the long run. The political upside could become apparent as early as 2016, when the White House next is up for grabs and the Senate battlefield is expected to be more advantageous to the Democrats. Arizonans weigh in Rep. Raúl Grijalva, D-Ariz., said Obama must take action on his own because it is now clear that Congress is not going to act before his second term as president ends. He also argues that Obama is bound to receive criticism from Republicans for taking even limited action on immigration so why not use his authority to protect as many people as possible from deportation? Grijalva dismisses McCain's claim that Obama will destroy chances for passing an immigration bill if he takes action on his own. "If the president does something big, it is going to build momentum, maybe not during his time in office, but I guarantee you, whoever runs for president in 2016 will have question Number 1 to answer on the issue of immigration reform," Grijalva said. "The question will be: Are you going to extend (Obama's) executive actions on immigration?" Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., an opponent of comprehensive immigration reform, said he believes Obama and his Democratic allies likely are counting on a GOP overreaction to whatever he eventually does. If Republicans go too far and, for example, start demanding Obama's impeachment, it would motivate Democratic voters to get to the polls this year, he said. "I've grown to believe this White House is politics all the time," Schweikert said. "They would be calculating what type of reaction they would get from the right and would that be a reaction enough to energize the Democrat base." After immigration-reform efforts fell apart in the House, Falcon's organization, Promise Arizona, shifted its attention to push Obama to take action to protect as many undocumented immigrants as possible from deportation and allow them work permits. "What we want him to do is bring relief to as many of the 11 million undocumented (in the country) as possible," Falcon said. McCain, however, emphasized his belief that the Constitution's separation of powers don't work that way. Immigration reform requires congressional action, he said. "To me, it's a matter of principle," McCain said. "It should be legislation, not executive fiat."
An offshoot of al-Qaeda, but more extreme than its parent, the Islamic State seems eager to prove its violent credentials.The execution of the American journalist James Foley by militants of the Islamic State is a shocking iteration of the group’s barbarity. Foley was a freelance reporter who had been abducted many months ago in Syria. It has now emerged that the IS had demanded $100 million to free him, and that the U.S. government refused, but made a failed attempt to rescue him. It has said it executed Foley in revenge for the U.S. airstrikes against it in Iraq. The execution also came days after the Security Council resolution against the IS and its activities. The group continues to hold one more journalist and has warned that his fate depended on President Barack Obama’s “next decision”. From decreeing that women living in territory under its control would have to undergo genital mutilation, to the massacre of the minority Yazidis, to their latest atrocity, the IS is determined to send out the message to the world that it will stop at nothing to achieve its goal, which is to establish its writ across the Islamic world. An offshoot of al-Qaeda, but more extreme than its parent, the IS seems eager to prove its violent credentials. Yet, precisely in its barbarity lies the hope that it can be stopped. Even most Sunni Muslims in Iraq, where the IS burst on the scene in June, do not subscribe to its extremism or the violence that it espouses. Also, unlike al-Qaeda, whose ambition to propagate an ideology to the entire world through a hydra-headed organisational structure and franchisees makes it much harder to fight, the IS is — at least for the moment — a single entity, locked in its territorial ambitions. The recent change of guard in Iraq, where Nouri al Maliki stepped down as Prime Minister to make way for Haider al-Abadi, might be of help if the new government that is still taking shape is inclusive of the country’s minority Sunnis. The IS took birth in the violence and chaos that gripped Iraq post-Saddam Hussain. Mr. Maliki was propped up by the U.S., which helped it grow. But the jihadist group really came into its own in the Syrian civil war, and there is no denying that contributing to its dramatic rise was the U.S., which gave regional backing to all manner of extremists in the fight against Bashar al Assad’s regime. That the IS has recruited hundreds of foreign fighters is a cause for concern — dozens of Indians are also reported to have joined the group. Indian security agencies need to be wary of these jihadists re-entering the country and spreading the IS’s toxic ideology here. Foley’s execution is an attack on media freedom, but a group as brutal as the IS cannot be held to any civilised standards. India must redouble its efforts to rescue the 40 Indian workers in IS custody.
Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke on camera in English with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. With a soundtrack citing verses of the Koran, a video uploaded on social media in June, purportedly by Islamic State militants, incites Muslims from across the world to come to Syria to fight. One of the militants -- who identifies himself as a British citizen named Abu Dujana Al Hindi -- speaks to the camera in English. “This is a message to the brothers who have stayed behind," he said. "You need to ask yourselves what prevents you from coming to the land of Izza? [honor], What prevents you from joining the ranks of the Mujahedeen?” The gruesome beheading of American journalist James Foley was carried out by a man with a British accent. Foreign fighters are a valuable asset for the Islamic State, said terror expert Hannah Stuart of The Henry Jackson Society, a British-based policy group. “They might not be the best fighters, but they are the best people in an information war. You can put them on camera and recruit widely from among Muslims in Western Europe," said Stuart. That James Foley’s killer had a British accent was no accident, said American filmmaker Bilal Abdul Karim, who has documented the rise in foreigners fighting in Syria. "When Brits or Europeans or Westerners appear in the group they are very keen to put them on camera so that they can push their narrative. The reason why a British voice is used for this is because they knew the impact a British voice would make," said Karim, in reference to the fact that hearing a British voice may be a lure for potential recruits. After starting out as a militant group fighting local conflicts, the Islamic State is now seeking international recognition, said Afzal Ashraf of the Royal United Services Institute. “What they want is to spread their ideology. They want recognition. They want support. And they will want to get that recognition and support from across the world but particularly from Western countries," said Ashraf. Another online video from February purports to show a British fighter in Aleppo carrying out a suicide bomb attack on a prison. Extremist ideologies Britain has been slow to counter extremist ideologies, according to Harris Rafiq of the counter-extremism group the Quilliam Foundation. "London historically over the last few decades has had Islamist ideology from groups like the Muslim Brotherhood being taught openly without being challenged," said Rafiq. Authorities in Britain and the United States are trying to identify James Foley’s killer. The Islamic State’s use of online technology provides opportunities for security services says Professor Peter Neumann, of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London. "They will speak to other foreign fighters on Twitter, on Facebook, on Whatsapp, on Skype and of course the intelligence services are monitoring these conversations," noted Neumann. British authorities have appealied to Muslim communities to help identify James Foley’s killer, but acknowledge that bringing him to justice will be extremely difficult.
The Afghanistan National Football team eyes qualification for 2022 FIFA world Cup which is due to be organized in Qatar. The Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF) said Thursdy an agreement was signed with the Football Federation of Japan in a bid to further boost the capabilities of the Afghan National Football team. “In line with the development plans of Afghanistan Football Federation, Mr. Keramuddin Karim met his Japanese counterpart Mr. Diani that concluded the following key points in the agreement,” Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF)said following a statement. According to Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF), equipping the Afghanistan Football Federat (AFF) stadium with Projector lights to enable hosting nighttime matches, construction of a mini-pitch for younger age category teams and the establishment of the first ever professional football academy were the key points where the two sides reached to an agreement. The federation said, based on a number of development programs on hand, AFF targets qualifying FIFA 2022 World Cup along with other top Asian teams. An agreement was also reached with NITTAI professional football Academy where the Academy will facilitate more Afghan talents the following years. Based on the agreements those who get nominated to travel to Japan will get professional football training the academy, as well as they can continue their education. The agreement also covers higher education study opportunities of National Team players. “According to an agreement between Afghanistan Football Federation and Nippon Sport Science University, Afghanistan National Team players at all categories can apply to get scholarships in the university,” the statement said. The Afghanistan Football Federation (AFF), said the opportunity enables the players to obtain degrees in Sports Management, Coaching and Sports Medical & Nutrition Aids sections.
A massive search has been launched in Jammu and Kashmir to identify the source of banners and flags of militant group Islamic State (IS) that have appeared at three different rallies in the state in the last two months. With the elections in the state round the corner, India-Pakistan talks failing and the internal instability in Pakistan, security forces have been asked to act swiftly. "Although we aren't yet clear who is behind it, we are concerned about where these are originating from and how these banner and flags have reached J&K," a senior official at the Ministry of Home Affairs told NDTV. Security agencies are understood to have drawn up a list of about 50 possible suspects. "We are still in the process of verifying their antecedents," the official added. Islamic State, the hardline Sunni Muslim jihadist group, has gained control of large parts of Iraq and Syria. It posted a video this week on YouTube showing one of its fighters beheading an American journalist kidnapped in Syria. (Read: Slain Journalist's Employer Publishes Email to Family From Islamic State) The first reported sighting of IS flags and banners in Kashmir was on June 27, intelligence agency sources told NDTV. This was followed by two more incidents on the day of Eid. Officials, however, do not rule more such incidents going unreported. The first sighting was reported from Zadibal - a Shia-dominated area in Srinagar. In Iraq and Syria, the IS has been targeting people belonging to non-Sunni sects, particularly the Shias. In Jammu and Kashmir, they make up about 14 per cent of the population. Intelligence officials believe that four young boys who left their families in Maharashtra in May and have not returned were recruited online by IS to fight in Iraq. Sources say they are worried about web recruitment increasing in India. "We do not rule out the possibility of the people exposed to IS propaganda in the internet self-radicalizing," the official told NDTV and added that "it will be almost impossible to control if people have self-radicalized." Earlier this month, two men from Tamil Nadu were arrested for allegedly ordering and distributing t-Shirts with the IS emblem - a group photo of people wearing the shirts went viral.
Pakistan: PML-N’s Nexus With Banned ASWJ: Takfiri Groups Stage Hateful Rallies Against PTI, PAT Sit-Ins
shiapost.comPro-Taliban Takfiris of Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam Fazl (JUI- F) and banned Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal-Jamaat on Friday held rallies across the country against ‘Azadi March’ led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and ‘Inqilab March’ led by Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), by showing their full support with ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), who is known as Saudi man as Pakistani Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, The Shia Post reported. The federal capital Islamabad saw a rally staged by banned takfiri terrorists of pro-Taliban ‘Ahle Sunnat wal Jamaat’ (ASWJ) known as Sipah-e-Sahaba (SSP) for so-called entitled ‘Pakistan’s satiability’, while chanting hateful slogans against Shia Muslims. The terrorists of ASWJ also chanted slogans against founder of Islamic Revolution Iran, Imam Khumaini (R.A). Ruling government of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) has strong relationships with ASWJ terrorist group. According to a source, PM Nawaz Sharif asked pro-Taliban ASWJ head terrorist Ahmed Ludhyanvi to organize rallies in Islamabad in attempt to cause Daroodi vs Baroodi clash. The rally of ASWJ started from controversial mosque ‘Lal Masjid’, where terrorists find a safe stay and get their brain washed in order to carry out suicide attack on innocent citizens of Pakistan. According to details, JUI-F carried rallies and protests across the country today (Friday) in pretext of its previous calls against the protestors’ sit in, in the federal capital in which it raised slogans against the protesting leaders i.e. Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri. Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) Chief Maulana Fazl Ur Rahman on Friday termed demands of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek Pakistan unconstitutional. Talking to media outside the Parliament House he said, “All the political parties in parliament are unanimous that Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif should not resign from premiership.” Fazal Ur Rehman said that all those who have struggled for the constinuation of so-called democracy in Pakistans are united to safeguard it from the violators. Shia political leading party Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslmeen (MWM) is supporting Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and also demanding the resignation of Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif. On Saturday 16 August, Lahore court of an additional district and sessions judge (ADSJ) on Saturday ordered the police to register a murder case against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and 19 others on charges of killing 14 persons in police firing at the Minhajul Quran secretariat, Model Town, on June 16. ADSJ Ajmal Khan issued the order after accepting a petition moved by the Minhajul Quran director administration, Jawad Hamid. The petitioner said he had submitted an application to the Faisal Town SHO for registration of a murder case against the prime minister, Punjab chief minister, interior minister, Member National Assembly Hamza Shahbaz, former law minister Rana Sanaullah, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, State Minister for Water and Power Abid Sher Ali, Deputy Inspector General (Operations) Rana Abdul Jabbar, Model Town Superintendent Tariq Aziz, Superintendent (Headquarters) Maroof Safdar Wahla, Civil Lines Superintendent Umar Cheema, the security superintendent, the Model Town assistant commissioner, a town municipal officer, Kahna SHO Inspector Ishtiaq and Nishtar Town SHO Ahmad Majeed Usman. However, the police paid no heed to his genuine request. The court ruled in its order, “In view of the above discussion, the application in hand is hereby accepted and the respondent (SHO) is directed to register the FIR on the application of the petitioner and then proceed in accordance with the law in investigation.” The court dismissed the arguments of the deputy public prosecutor that a second FIR of the same occurrence could not be lodged. Relying upon the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Wajid Ali Durrani case, the court further ruled that registration of a second FIR about the same occurrence was not barred under the law. The court ruled the apex court’s observation revealed that if subsequent information given to a police officer disclosed a different offence, which was also cognizable by the police, then unless it was a mere amplification of the first version, must be recorded by the police. “The complainant of FIR No 510/14 is a police officer and he has also been sited as one of the accused in the application of the petitioner,” the court further added. “It is further observed that in the first FIR it is absolutely not mentioned whether any person had died during the occurrence or not and this fact by itself exposed the worth of this FIR.” “Perusal of the FIR No 510/14 and the application of the petitioner reveals that version of the petition is not the repetition of the contents of the first FIR. The petitioner has levelled a very serious allegation against the proposed accused that they in connivance with each other committed the murder of 14 innocent persons and injured a huge number of people.” The court said, “It is further observed that the contention of the deputy public prosecutor that the second FIR cannot be registered looses its substance as the local police has already recorded second FIR No 511/14 dated 18-06-2014 against one Gullu Butt who allegedly participated in the same occurrence which is a subject matter of FIR NO 510/14 and petitioner’s application.” The court also disagreed with the deputy prosecutor’s statement that the petitioner was not an aggrieved person and ruled, “The petitioner is admittedly the director administration of Minhajul Quran the place of occurrence and as per his version a number of activities and students belonging to Minhajul Quran have been murdered by the proposed accused, therefore, the petitioner also become the aggrieved person.” The court ruled that in the given circumstances, the respondent had not discharged his legal obligation as he should have registered an FIR on the application of the petitioner. Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) demanded of the government negotiation committee that an FIR of the Model Town tragedy must be registered. It also demanded that both Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif must step down without any further loss of time. The demands were presented by a seven-member PAT team during the first phase of a dialogue with a delegation comprising the government and opposition parties. In its first demand, the PAT said that all those nominated in the FIR of Model Town killings should be arrested and brought to justice while in its second demand, PAT said that federal and Punjab governments should be removed to ensure transparent investigations into the Model Town case. “We don’t have any hope for justice as long as Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif are in power,” the PAT said. Talking to media persons after the first round of talks, the PAT leader Raheeq Abbasi said: “We have presented our demands and now government’s team will talk to high-ups for getting their response”. The government-opposition delegation which held talks with PAT comprised Ahsan Iqbal, General Abdul Qadri Baloch (Retd), Haider Abbas Rizvi and Ijazul Haq. The name of Khawaja Saad Rafique, who was initially was named as one of the members of the delegation, was later dropped on an objection raised by PAT’s team.
Bearding the lion in its denBefore reaching Islamabad Imran Khan had already brought the arrogance ridden PML-N to its knees. The top leadership of the party, which had let loose its ministers to make fun of Imran Khan for fourteen months, was almost begging for talks and willing to yield to demands that it once dismissed with disdain. A panic stricken administration was found incapable of coping with two protests simultaneously, the one by Imran Khan and the other by Tahirul Qadri. Consequently, it resorted to desperate measures that disturbed normal life throughout Punjab. Those living in Lahore were the worst sufferers. The administration was badly exposed when it ordered the lock down a part of the city and created an artificial shortage of petrol all over the province to stop the PTI motorists from proceeding on the march. This was bound to cause suffering to the citizens. The government commandeered hundreds of private containers to block the roads causing shortages of essential items and stopping exports from the industrial areas to Karachi port. The intercity movement of commuters was affected. Shahbaz Sharif had to apologise to people for the inconvenience caused by the measures. The government acted ineptly in handling the first political challenge of its tenure. This raised e questions about how it would deal with greater challenges of the sort likely to emerge in days to come. The attack on PTI’s peaceful marchers in Gujranwala again exposed the intolerant mindset of the PML-N. Gujranwala is supposed to be a stronghold of the ruling party. This made it all the more necessary for the leadership to keep party workers under control. The party leadership and the Punjab government simply failed to restrain these workers. If Shahbaz Sharif cannot discipline his activists after giving permission to PTI to take out the march, this would send a disquieting message to the entire opposition. The PML-N workers attacked Imran Khan’s container and tore down PTI hoardings in Gujranwala. If the PTI was to act similarly, violence would engulf Punjab. This would provide an excuse to the army to move in. The attack on PTI’s peaceful marchers in Gujranwala again exposed the intolerant mindset of the PML-N. Gujranwala is supposed to be a stronghold of the ruling party. This is the second incident of violence against the PML-N’s critics in the last two months. In the earlier incident police had shot down at least 14 workers of PAT in Lahore while Gullu Butt, a PML-N worker, had a field day vandalalising cars of the PAT’s workers under police watch. Gullu Butt has now become a part of our political vocabulary signifying an intolerant and aggressive mindset. The PTI has presented come up as a major opposition party challenging the PML-N in its stronghold of Punjab. Significantly, many who turned up for the march did not belong to the so called burger class. It proved that the PTI has attracted a sufficiently large cadre of jiyalas or highly motivated workers from lower middle class also. The march also exposed some of the vulnerabilities of the PTI. The party failed to get even a fraction of the hundred thousand outriders on motorbikes it was expecting would lead the mach from Lahore. Had the party been able to attract large crowds in Gujranwala, few would have dared to brickbat its marchers or demonstrate against the party. The PTI also failed to achieve the avowed aim of the march, which was getting Nawaz Sharif’s resignation. The Azadi march was presented as a “final battle” to root out the corrupt and bring in “a fair system in the country”, “monarchy” was to be replaced with democracy. In a speech on August 3 at PTI workers’ convention, Imran Khan said the sit-in will not end until a ‘new Pakistan’ comes into existence. The party failed to achieve any of these objectives. What remains to be seen is whether Khan will be able to persuade his workers to be contented with much less than he had promised them. His opponent would meanwhile accuse him of indulging in hype and jugglery that characterises run of the mill politicians. First demanding the setting up of a caretaker set-up comprising technocrats, Imran Khan beat a hasty retreat when the statement led to protests and a mini-rebellion in party leadership. This was the first display of public dissent in the party. Imran Khan’s shifting positions have dented his credibility. On July 3 the PTI chief said that he was willing to call off the August 14 long march on Islamabad if the Supreme Court opened a probe into election rigging in four constituencies. When Nawaz Sharif agreed to the probe, Khan demanded the prime minister’s resignation first. The march also exposed some of the vulnerabilities of the PTI. The party failed to get even a fraction of the hundred thousand outriders on motorbikes it was expecting would lead the mach from Lahore. The march was a solo flight. No major opposition party was willing to support it. Having been abandoned by PTI which did not wait for him despite an earlier agreement, Tahiriul Qadri left Lahore from a different route and went and took out a separate protest march. Important opposition leaders accused Khan of taking issues which could best be resolved in parliament to streets and thus weakening the system. Some wondered if he was acting on behest of the powers that be. Jamaat-i-Islami, which is PTI’s coalition partner in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, was reluctant to join the “Azadi March”. If Imran was relying on the khakis help, they declined to oblige him. There is a perception that they were more interested in giving a shake up to the PML-N regime than give Imran a helping hand as they consider him a bigger headache than Nawa Sharif. If the PTI march had not been attacked in Gujranwala, the tone of the PTI leaders would have became less strident as they moved towards Islamabad. The march reflects the inability on the part of the political parties to sort out their differences through peaceful parleys. Intolerance, which characterizes both the PML-N and PTI, forced them into confrontation. The undemocratic attitude at the top is highly infectious and is acquired by the workers. Both parties find it difficult to resolve their differences peacefully. Unless they overcome this, they are likely to put the system in danger through no-holds-barred confrontations. Issues like rigging could have been resolved in the parliament. The parliament alone can work out electoral reforms to ensure that the flaws in the system are removed. The PML-N leadership has, however, discredited the parliament by remaining absent most of the time from its sittings. Nawaz Sharif did not attend a single sitting of the senate for a whole year. This provided an excuse to the PTI to take to the streets. If the PML-N does not take parliament seriously other opposition parties too might take recourse to agitation in the days to come.
Even in the best-case scenario, finding some kind of middle ground between the PTI and Tahirul Qadri on one side and the PML-N federal government on the other would have been difficult. But the skittishness both sides have showed on engaging each other at all has made the possibility of a negotiated political settlement that much more difficult. After finally accepting that talks could provide a way out of the impasse and proposing a raft of ideas, the PTI quickly re-escalated matters yesterday by rejecting talks altogether. Meanwhile, after overnight speculation that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would at long last use parliament as the forum to address the country and his opponents, Mr Sharif proved true to form and declined to take centre stage in that most democratic of forums, the floor of the National Assembly. One side of the problem here is clearly the PTI supremo Imran Khan’s flip-flop approach to talks, sometimes seemingly wanting an exit from the corner he has painted himself and his party into, while at other times seemingly indulging in rabble-rousing in front of the crowd that has assembled at his demand. At times, it is difficult to know who is in charge — the PTI chief or the crowd he has assembled — given that the PTI switches back and forth between providing a glimmer of hope and returning to its maximalist position with breathtaking speed. For a country that has seen much political turmoil over its seven decades of existence, it would not be out of place to suggest that never before has Pakistan seen a political party and its leader demonstrate such whimsicalness on the national stage as it has with the PTI in recent days. Even so, efforts at talks must not be abandoned, and despite inflexible demands the government must push on, while the PTI must refrain from imposing preconditions. If Mr Khan and his PTI’s strategy is difficult to comprehend, the other side of the protest movement against the PML-N government — Tahirul Qadri and his supporters — are virtually impossible to fathom. Mr Qadri, a religious preacher with a small but fervid support base, is truly seeking to hijack the country and impose his will upon it. To the extent that he has made demands calling for improvements in governance and public service delivery, Mr Qadri makes some sense. But anything more and he will need to prove he has genuine political support by participating in the electoral process. Surely, the political process is open enough to allow Mr Qadri to prove his legitimate support base. At the other end, regrettably, Prime Minister Sharif failed to capitalise on the mood in parliament yesterday. The parliamentary resolution reiterating that democracy is the only way ahead for Pakistan would have been that much more meaningful had the prime minister himself added his voice to the consensus.
http://claudesalhani.com/By Claude Salhani - The group known as the Islamic State that is fighting to install an Islamic Caliphate in Syria and Iraq – as a first step to expanding that caliphate – has made time travel a possibility. Indeed, through their worse-than medieval manners of beheadings and crucifixions, torture and mass executions and the selling of captured women as slaves, they have managed to transport the areas under their dominance from a modern era of satellite imagery and stellar communications into a dark, bottomless abyss of savagery and orgies of evil probably not seen since the days when barbarians were at the gates of Rome. Today similar bloodthirsty barbarians are knocking at the gates of modern civilization, threatening the very concept of the fragile world we live in. Had the Internet and video recording existed in the days of the Goths, Vizigoths and the Ostrogoths they probably would have behaved similarly to the IS; video recording their monstrous acts and proudly displaying it on the Internet. The Islamic State’s latest abominable act of brutality comes in the beheading of an American journalist, James Foley, who has been held captive in Syria since 2012, a deed that was recorded on video. The IS claims that the killing of James Foley is in retaliation for the U.S. bombing of several of their positions in Iraq. It must also mean that these bombings have hurt them. In their utter ignorance the group fails to realize that individual Americans, like James Foley, have no say in U.S. foreign policy. These “knights” of a hijacked faith are poisoning a decent religion with their interpretation of Islam. Forcing a captive to “denounce” his country requires no bravery on the part of the captors. Rather it reveals the low level of their understanding of reality. The result of this hideous act will not prevent future bombings of IS positions by the U.S. military. Indeed, it may very well have the opposite effect as the Obama Administration understands that there can be no mid-way solution to the plague that this new stigma represents, not only for decent followers of Islam, but for the whole civilized world.
On Aug. 19, Israel attempted to assassinate the “head of the snake” — Mohammed Deif, commander of Hamas’ military wing. As I’m writing this (on Aug. 21), it remains unclear whether the attempt succeeded. Hamas denies Deif was harmed. But there are growing indications to suggest that Deif was indeed inside the bombed building in Gaza City's Sheik Radwan neighborhood. If he was inside, there’s no way he could have survived the attack. All that was left of this multistory building is a pile of rubble. Unlike the past, this time Israel had no second thoughts about which armament to use. The building was razed with one-ton bombs to ensure that if Deif was inside, he would stand no chance of survival. Two days later, in the early morning hours of Aug. 21, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) killed three other senior Hamas militants — Mohammed Abu Shamalah, Raed al-Attar and Mohammed Barhum. Shamalah was said to be the chief of Hamas’ “southern command,” whereas Attar was the equivalent of a brigade commander. Is this the victory photo that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been waiting for? Is this the tiebreaker that will finally force Hamas to fold and end the current round of hostilities without having scored any significant achievements? We will find out in the coming days. Meanwhile, it's time to deal with the broader picture, namely the watershed and grizzly affair that the world — or at least large parts of it — has experienced. “The beheading of journalist James Foley is another step before the penny finally drops in the West,” an Israeli, who until recently held a senior and central defense position, told me. “I don’t think that the West fully comprehends who we’re fighting with here. But I do think that this will happen at some point, and that it won’t be before too long.” In recent weeks, I have been holding a series of talks with prominent Israel officials from different fields on the subject of the war against radical jihad. We discussed the rise of the Islamic State (IS) and the growing power of various jihadist groups in the region. We also broached the dismantlement of the statehood framework, which was dictated by the superpowers, in favor of tribal frameworks, primal emotions and Islamic radicalism. The war of civilization between “life seekers” and “death sanctifiers” was also addressed. And in the end, we deliberated on the question of how it's possible that, after all of this, the West still continues to bully Israel and denounce it. We also wrestled with the question how it's possible that international fact-finding commissions continue to be formed and relentless efforts are made to tie the hands of Israel, the only true democracy in this turbulent Islamic ocean. In recent weeks, the gruesome beheadings from the school of IS burst into those discussions. The Internet makes these video clips readily accessible to any user. All of a sudden, the bleeding hearts in the enlightened West could see what’s going on in the real world while they are talking about “human rights,” “liberties of the individual” and a bunch of other empty slogans behind which there is nothing but hypocrisy and obtuseness. Topping this festival of barbarism: Foley's beheading. How horrifying it was to see the images of him kneeling in the desert, and standing next to him the executioner armed with a knife. Foley recites a text dictated to him. I don’t know whether he realized that those were his last moments. I hope not. The horror reaches new heights when the anonymous executioner starts talking with a clear British accent. Many jihadists hold British, Scandinavian, French and other nationalities. They are the children of immigrants from Islamic countries who were naturalized and educated in enlightened Europe. On the face of it, they should have become an integral part of the continent, but in reality, they have only radicalized. They travel to Syria or Iraq to take part in a jihad and to behead people. “Dear friends in Europe, perhaps even in the United States — prepare yourselves for the return of those citizens home,'' a senior Israeli political figure told me. ''All you need to do is to listen to what they are saying there — in between the beheadings,” the source, who's well known by all European and US government officials, said. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he added, “We in Israel have learned the hard way that we would do well to listen to the Arabs. They mean what they say. They profess their intentions.” He was alluding to the repeated threats by IS butchers and other jihadist organizations, which promise to finish off the job in Syria, Iraq and the Middle East and then move on to Europe and the United States. “We will drown America in blood,” they say. And they mean it. They own up to their intentions almost on a daily basis. “There is no other choice, but the rules of warfare will have to change,” a former senior Israeli military jurist told me. “Despite the fact that those rules have been revised in recent years, this revision is still a far cry from satisfying the understandable need of enlightened democracies to fight jihadist terrorism, which sanctifies death and see civilians as a legitimate tool for murderous manipulations and human shields,” said the jurist, who dealt extensively with adapting the doctrine of the IDF to the international law of war. "In a few years’ time, the world will realize — the hard way — that there is no way of overcoming this kind of terrorism by using conventional methods. “When terrorists stockpile their entire rocket arsenal inside kindergartens, schools, clinics and mosques, when they fire from populated areas, when they turn private residences into war rooms, when they send children to play on the rooftops of a residential building when terror leaders converge inside, it makes them practically invulnerable,” he continued. “There was a time when you could turn a blind eye to such things. Today it’s harder. In Gaza, each round with Hamas is growing more difficult and deadlier than the previous one. During the Israeli disengagement from Gaza , Hamas’ first rockets were only able to reach the town of Sderot [just a few kilometers from the border]. During Operation Cast Lead [2008-09], the rockets landed as far as Ashkelon and Ashdod. During Operation Pillar of Defense , they got as far as Beersheba. Today, during Operation Protective Edge, their range has been extended to Tel Aviv and even close to Haifa [in northern Israel]. They have an infinite network of assault tunnels, small drones and many more means. This is the price Israel has to pay because the world would not let it fight Hamas effectively. But Israel is just the forward outpost. Soon enough, the West will understand that it is the real target of radical Islam. Hopefully that understanding won’t come too late,” the jurist concluded. “What’s interesting in this whole affair,” says a senior Israeli defense official, “is that our region has already understood that. The Egyptians understood this perfectly well, ahead of everybody else. After all, they had to fight Muslim Brotherhood terrorism. They still do. They know that Hamas is a slightly more civilized variation of IS. But the breeding house is the same — the Muslim Brotherhood. Jordan understands this and so does Saudi Arabia. The Gulf states, except for Qatar, understand this. Even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas knows, deep down, that this kind of extremism threatens his way of life as much as it does ours. This is why moderate Egyptians and Palestinians did not let Hamas make any real gains in the negotiations in Cairo. The organization must not be allowed to have any tangible gains or otherwise it will only be incentivized to further radicalize and gain power.” Let’s go back to my first interlocutor at the beginning of this article. “It seems to me that most leaders already understand this,” he opines. “The last one to understand this is President Barack Obama. His Cairo speech during his first term will haunt him for the rest of his life. Already now it looks like some bizarre act. In five or 10 years from now, it will look almost radical. Obama gambled on the Muslim Brotherhood as the watchdogs of democracy in the Middle East. But he, too, already knows the truth. What worries me is that the European nations have yet to understand this. It has not dawned on them yet. It’s very 'cool' to be anti-Israeli and to demonstrate for the 'liberation of Palestine' and against the 'genocide' in Gaza. ''Nobody really looks at the finer details to discover that there is no genocide in Gaza and that all Hamas needs to do to save its people is to stop shooting rockets at civilians. There is no need to liberate Palestine because there was never such a state, and because the Palestinians in Gaza got rid of the Israeli occupation nine years ago and because the Palestinians in the West Bank received full autonomy and have been rejecting for the past seven years any proposal to set up their own independent state. ''In Europe — whose 'European' flair is starting to fade — the conspicuous Islamic presence dictates this vocal wave of anti-Semitism mixed with ignorance and hatred that was enhanced through brainwashing. It is possible that one day the Europeans will understand what the real situation is and try to fix it. There’s a pretty good chance that this will happen too late. By then, the situation will be beyond repair.” That’s as far as the doomsday prophesies of my sources go. All of them are mainstream Israelis, seasoned and senior experts in their respective fields (legal, political, military). They all support the peace process and the two-state solution, but they start losing faith — not in the Palestinians but in the Europeans and the Americans — the enlightened world. And that’s dangerous. And yet, a silver lining looms; lo and behold, even Obama starts grasping the momentous hour. What he said at a news conference on Aug. 20 following reports on Foley’s beheading would not put Netanyahu to shame. But it’s not only Obama. More and more public figures, journalists, opinion setters and large swathes of the public in the enlightened world are starting to get the picture. Articles to this effect have started appearing here and there. Will more follow? We must hope they will. Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/08/james-foley-is-hamas-radical-islam-israel-us-europe.html#ixzz3B71TxHSu
Terror group official in Turkey boasted about June kidnapping, killing of teens, one of whom was US citizenIsraeli legal NGO Shurat Hadin has asked US Attorney General Eric Holder to request the extradition of Turkey-based Hamas official Sheikh Saleh al-Arouri, who is believed to be responsible for the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in June, one of whom was an American citizen. “Turkish authorities cannot allow a statement by a senior Hamas terrorist condoning and taking responsibility for the kidnapping and murder of innocent teenage boys announced on Turkish soil, and at the same time claim that Turkey is a humane country,” wrote Shurat HaDin founder Nitsana Darshan-Leitner. “Turkey is giving shelter to a terrorist who was released from prison for committing other terrorist acts, and who now brazenly announces his personal involvement in the abduction and murder of more Israeli civilians while comfortably residing in Turkey.” Turkey and the United States have an extradition agreement between them. Al-Arouri, a senior Hamas religious figure, was in Qatar on Thursday for the meeting held between exiled political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, Palestinian Authority President Mahmou Abbas and the Qatari emir, Channel 2 reported. Al-Arouri is heard on a video that surfaced Wednesday saying that he “blessed the heroic action” which was “carried out by the al-Qassam Brigades” — the armed wing of Hamas. This action, “the kidnapping to Hebron of the three settlers,” was an “operation spoken of far and wide,” al-Arouri added. The sheikh was speaking at a conference of Muslim scholars in Turkey. “There are those who say that it was your brothers in the al-Qassam Brigades, who carried it out for the sake of al-Qassam members who are in jails and who sit in a hunger strike,” al-Arouri continued, according to a Hebrew translation provided by Channel 2. Hamas has denied involvement in the plot, but has long called for the kidnapping of Israelis, in order to exchange them for members held in Israeli jails. Israel has accused Hamas of being behind the June 12 abduction and killing of Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19. The three were last seen at a hitchhiking post outside the settlement of Alon Shvut in the Etzion Bloc south of Jerusalem. The abduction sparked a massive search operation and crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank, with hundreds of members arrested. Israeli officials said earlier this month that they arrested Hussam Kawasme, suspected of being the ringleader of the cell that carried out the attack. Kawasme reportedly admitted to interrogators that the group received funding from Hamas operatives in order to carry out the operation. The other two members of the cell, Marwan Kawasme and Amer Abu Aysha, who are thought to have carried out the killing, are still at large. The bodies of the three teens were found near Hebron on June 30, sparking anti-Arab protests. Tensions further ratcheted up after an East Jerusalem teen was killed by a Jewish Israeli in an apparent revenge attack, sparking days of unrest throughout the country and in the West Bank and heavy rocket fire on Israel. On July 8, Israel launched the ongoing Operation Protective Edge to stymie the rocket fire with airstrikes and carried out a limited ground incursion into Gaza to destroy a network of cross-border attack tunnels. Read more: Israeli NGO asks US to extradite Hamas man behind 3 teens’ murder | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-ngo-asks-us-to-extradite-hamas-man-behind-3-teens-murder/#ixzz3B6zmHtC8 Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook
Human Rights Watch says 19 people have been executed in the kingdom since August 4, including one for sorcery.At least 19 people have been beheaded in Saudi Arabia this month for offences including drug smuggling and sorcery, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW). The dead include four Saudi men executed in Najran province on Monday for smuggling hashish, and two foreigners - a Syrian and a Pakistani, accused of the same crime. Authorities beheaded Saudi national, Mohammed bin Bakr al-Alawi, on August 5 for allegedly practicing sorcery, the Saudi Gazette reported. The family of another man, Hajras bin Saleh al-Qurey, who suffers from a mental disability, fear his execution for drug smuggling is imminent. Doctors who examined him confirmed he had symptoms of mental illness, but concluded that he should be held criminally liable. Qurey said investigators had pressured him in to confess by placing him in solitary confinement, according to the statement by HRW, which relied on local news reports, court documents and interviews with relatives. 'Disturbing surge' On Wednesday, Saudi authorities executed a Pakistani national for the murder of an Afghan man, the AFP news agency reported. At least 34 people have been put to death in the country in 2014, including the 19 people killed in August. Amnesty International denounced what it called a "disturbing surge" and called on the Saudi government to immediately halt all executions. "Any execution is appalling, but executions for crimes such as drug smuggling or sorcery that result in no loss of life are particularly egregious," said HRW's Sarah Leah Watson. "The current surge in executions in Saudi Arabia is yet another dark stain on the kingdom’s human rights record." The kingdom reserves the death penalty for crimes including murder, robbery, drug smuggling, blasphemy and drug smuggling.
http://www.nbcnews.com/The voice of an apparent British militant narrating the video showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley has triggered renewed questions about why the U.K. is a breeding ground for jihadis. At least 400 Britons are among the estimated 2,000 Europeans who are fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), according to Prime Minister David Cameron. And the ease with which Europeans can travel into Syria through Turkey has alarmed intelligence officials in the West. On Thursday, NBC News reported that three militants with British accents had been dubbed "The Beatles" by hostages taken in Syria. A person close to several recent hostage negotiations said "The Beatles" were harsher than other guards. "Whenever the Beatles showed up, there was some kind of physical beating or torture," the source added. Britain has a “deeply entrenched problem,” according to the Quillam Foundation, an anti-extremist think tank. “London historically has had Islamist ideology being taught openly without being challenged and there are many people who have grown up knowing and believing that the only way to be Muslims is to create this Islamic state," said Harris Rafiq, Quilliam's head of outreach. "It's not surprising that jihadis have been able to cherry-pick these people." The true number of British jihadis could be even higher. Khalid Mahmood, a U.K. parliament lawmaker from Birmingham, England, estimates that at least 1,500 Brits have been recruited by extremists fighting in Iraq and Syria over the last three years — more than double the number of Muslims currently serving in the U.K. military. However, the numbers are inevitably higher in European nations with large Muslim populations. “When you look at the raw numbers, it’s not the best way to get a sense of how deep the problem is,” said Shiraz Maher, senior research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization at London’s King’s College. “What we’ve done is to wade through the numbers of foreign fighters in relations to the Muslim population of those countries. When you do it like that, Belgium is actually way off the chart. But the Scandinavian countries feature very highly, and Britain as well.” Britain’s problem with radicalized Muslims — described by Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond as “a poison, a cancer” - is made acute chiefly because of its role as the biggest global ally of the United States in the tarnished invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. As the same time, English is gaining traction as the language of choice for recruitment videos and other online propaganda because it has greater viral potential on social media. “It’s no coincidence that the [Foley beheading] video was in English,” said Ghaffar Hussain, managing director of Quillam. "If the West, particularly America, is where you are trying to get your message heard, it makes sense.” Social media is a powerful tool, especially for recruiting young male Muslims, according to Hussain. “The violent messages appeal to the macho element and the sense of going to join a fight,” he said, citing the recent case of Muhammad Hamidur Rahman, a 25-year-old killed while fighting in Syria after quitting his job at a British branch of fashion chain Primark. “One minute you’re working as a shop assistant, next minute you’re on the front line with a gun. It’s an attractive idea for many.” YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have partly replaced Britain’s previous funnel for extremism — radical preachers invited to speak at hardline mosques and Islamic schools. A recent ICSR report also noted that social media had become essential in spreading the extremist message from the fighting fronts of wars that are so dangerous that Western journalists struggle to cover them. “Social media is no longer virtual: it has become an essential facet of what happens on the ground,” the report said. Since the 2005 bombings on London's transport network, tackling fanatical messages has become an obsession in Britain - a mostly secular country despite Queen Elizabeth’s formal position as “defender of the faith” and head of the Church of England. Such has been the country’s multicultural ethos that the heir to the throne, Prince Charles, once stated that, as king, he wanted to be “defender of all the faiths,” including Islam. Wearing the Islamic veil, or burqa, is banned in public places in France, Belgium and parts of Switzerland. In contrast, England’s professional body for family attorneys recently began offering training courses in drafting wills that are compliant with Islamic Shariah law. Some commentators argue that this tolerance has left Britain more exposed to the threat posed to its Muslim communities by radical Islam. “In the U.K., with our proud tradition of freedom and not wanting to get involved in religious disputes, we have been bending over backwards to regard murderous ideologies as expressions of free speech,” said Anthony Glees, director of the University of Buckingham’s Centre for Security and Intelligence Studies. “Islamist extremist ideologies have spread with relative ease under the cover of ‘free speech’ and ‘multiculturalism’.” Glees added that Britain’s predominantly Sunni Muslim population was also particularly vulnerable to the allure of the jihadi message from Sunni ISIS. “Across Europe, Muslim populations come from different parts of the Islamic world. British Muslims come primarily from Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Horn of Africa — in other words, places where the political culture is virulent,” he said. “I think it is a particular problem in the U.K. in as much as most of our Muslims are from Sunni background. It is not that that you are more likely to be a violent extremist if you’re from a Sunni background but it is much easier to call yourself a preacher. There is no hierarchy in the Sunni religion. Anyone can say they’re a preacher, and this gives them an opening into mosques, the college lecture circuit and other places where young people congregate.” The problem has continued despite a series of multi-million dollar government campaigns to prevent young British Muslims from becoming radicalized. It is easy to find Muslims in London who publicly defend the establishment of the Islamic State and who favor Shariah law over the law of the land. Quilliam's Harris fears the problem could come home to roost, saying he would be horrified if an attack on London occurred — "but I would not be surprised." ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi "wants to make a statement he is a bigger terrorist, a bigger jihadi, a bigger figure than Osama Bin Laden was, and he has got to try to undertake an attack on the West. And London is a prime target for that display," Harris added. http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/james-foley/why-britain-breeding-ground-isis-terrorists-n185951
The sophistication, wealth and military might of Islamic State militants represent a major threat to the United States that may surpass that once posed by al Qaeda, U.S. military leaders said on Thursday.