2005-11-28

Axis of Estrogen

Women on the Dreams Into Lightning blogroll. November 2005 update.

Atlas Shrugs
Jane Novak: Armies of Liberation
Neo
Nadz Online
Claudia Rosett
Cathy Seipp
The Muslim Woman
Helen: CaribPundit
Mamamontezz
Judith Weiss et al.: Kesher Talk
LaShawn Barber
I Am Dr. Laura's Worst Nightmare
Sherri Reese: Bring Your Brain
Razor Sharp Claws
Patti Niehoff: White Pebble
Fausta: The Bad Hair Blog
Ginmar: A View from a Broad
Chantel: The Life and Times of Chantel
Stefania: Free Thoughts
Kat: The Middle Ground
Michelle Malkin
Ambra Nykol: Nykola - Bothering People since 1981
Fausta: The Bad Hair Blog
Baldilocks
Ann Althouse
Greatest Jeneration
Auntie Cracker
Emily: Strangechord
Pat in NC: Pawigoview
KitKat: Increasing the Circle of Impact
Little Miss Attila
Allison Kaplan Sommer: An Unsealed Room
Virginia Postrel: Dynamist
Fayrouz Hancock: Live from Dallas
Q80Girl: So I Want to Be an Astronaut
Irshad Manji: Muslim Refusenik
Sissy Willis: Sisu
Beth Mauldin: Beth's Contradictory Brain
Atypical Asian Syndrome
Stephanie McLintock: Wilderness Vision (posthumous)




One Marine's Words

Mona Charen, Townhall.com:
One Marine, Sgt. Todd Bowers, who did two tours in Iraq, described the attitude of many press types. "They didn't want to talk to us." Why? I asked. "Because we were gung-ho for the mission." Bowers, who was saved from grievous injury when a bullet lodged in the sight of his rifle (a sight his father had purchased for him), is chary about the press.

In his first tour, he noticed that members of the press were reluctant to photograph Iraqis laughing, giving the thumbs up sign, or cheering. ...

Go read the whole column at this link.

2005-11-27

Morning Report: November 27, 2005

Belmont Club: Netwar and the anti-State. Wretchard posts an analysis of netwar, the conflict not between states but between "distributed networks of people." Among his conclusions: '... most States are an anti-network; in fact the ultimate hive, where drones swarm in vast pyramids around a Dear Leader, a Great Helmsman or a Driver of the Locomotive of History. And if the United States has one advantage over other states in an age of network warfare, it is because in some respects America is an anti-state; ideally, though not always in practice, a framework within which individuals can thrive. ... The key challenge is whether America, in the sense of a shared idea, can be expansive enough to permit subordinate threads which can truly "take on a life of their own", and so become agile enough to engage the Jihadis at the lowest level.' (Belmont Club)

US/Syrian confrontation: key updates. Sandmonkey has some thoughts on the curious death of a key witness in the Detlev Mehlis investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri: 'The Harriri assassination conspiracy gets even more complicated: A lebanese witness against Syria was killed in a mysterious road accident. A witness in the assassination of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri has died in a mysterious road accident that raised suspicions of murder.Nowar Donna, owner of a mobile telephone trading business in Tripoli, was killed when his car plunged into a valley on the road to Bteghrine in Metn. An unidentified pillion also was killed, An Nahar reported Saturday. Internal Security Forces have launched an investigation into Friday's accident "amid suspicions it was a premeditated murder," according to the paper. Donna had been questioned by both Detlev Mehlis' International Independent Investigation Commission and the Lebanese judicial authorities after he was identified as the vendor of five mobile telephone sets out of eight that were used in the car bomb assassination of Hariri on Feb. 14. Huh. Must be the Jews. The same way they got this dude to "commit suicide". It's all to make Syria look guilty. Those Damn Mossad agents. But the Syrians are all about Pan-arabism even if it violates its interests, which is why they rejected Egypt and Saudi's mediation for Russia's. Ehh.wait a sec.. The Russian mediation spared Syria impending sanctions for its refusal to cooperate with the investigation into Hariri's Feb. 14 assassination. Syria preferred the Russian mediation over Egypt's and Saudi Arabia's because Moscow enjoys veto power at the U.N. Security Council which it could use in the event of a new confrontation between Damascus and the international community, An Nahar reported Sunday. And it has brought good results: neither Assad's little brother or his Brother in law were asked for questioning. Thank you Russia. ...' Meanshile, Ed at Captain's Quarters has some thoughts on Russian support for Syria's main ally: 'The Russians may soon rethink their defense of the Islamic Republic of Iran against the West if this report from the Sunday Telegraph gets confirmed, although it should surprise no one paying any attention to the global war on terror. According to Con Coughlin, the Iranian government has secretly trained Chechen rebels to conduct more effective terror strikes against Russian targets while Moscow continues to argue on Teheran's behalf ...'. Dreams Into Lightning has aggregated recent news items on Syria here: USMC-Syrian firefight (various)

2005-11-26

Breaking: US Marines, Syrian Troops in Firefight on Iraq Border

... according to Debka. Awaiting independent confirmation.

[SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATES. Bumped to top, originally posted Thursday.]

Debka is currently reporting (h/t: LGF):
November 25, 2005, 12:27 AM (GMT+02:00)
US Marines are locked in battle with Syrian troops after crossing the border from Iraq into Syria at a point west of al Qaim.
Both sides have suffered casualties. US soldiers crossed over after Damascus was given an ultimatum Thursday, Nov. 24, to hand over a group of senior commanders belonging to Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s al Qaeda force. According to US intelligence, the group had fled to Syria to escape an American attack in Mosul. Syrian border guards opened fire on the American force.

More on this as it develops.

Meanwhile:
(CBS) QAIM, Iraq Huddling together in the cold, U.S. Marines of the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion spoke Thursday about missing family and friends back home for Thanksgiving while on patrol near the Syrian border.

[See here. - aa]

The Marines are scouting the remote, desert area along the border looking for smugglers and foreign fighters trying to slip into the country from Syria.

The area, one of the most dangerous in Iraq, was the scene of brisk fighting this month as Marines drove insurgents out of three towns near Qaim, 200 miles northwest of Baghdad.

"Serving my country is important but losing friend makes me more thankful for what I have and for what I used to take for granted," said Cpl. Brian Zwart, 20, of Fruitport, Mich., who mans a 25mm canon atop an armored personnel carrier [a Light Armored Vehicle - aa]. ...


In related developments: the Syrian regime seems to show signs of backing down on the Hariri probe. The Independent:
By Albert Aji in Damascus
Published: 26 November 2005
Syria has agreed to allow United Nations investigators to question its officials in Vienna over Rafik Hariri's assassination, ending a deadlock with the UN that had brought mounting pressure on Damascus.

Syria's deputy foreign minister, Walid Moallem, said that the breakthrough came after Syria received "guarantees concerning the rights of the individuals" to be questioned and "reassurances" that its sovereignty would be respected. ...


From earlier today, here is Michael Totten's Analysis of the Syria situation:
The international community is gearing up to punish the Syrian regime for assassinating Rafik Hariri and exploding terrorist bombs in Beirut. Setting the southern border with Israel on fire could have been a terrific distraction from all that. Syria doesn’t exactly control Hezbollah. But Syria does help fund and arm Hezbollah, as does Iran. Syria naturally wants the heat and the spotlight somewhere else, and it makes sense that Hezbollah should be willing to go along. Hezbollah needs a strong Syria.

Syria – and Hezbollah – will be dealt with regardless. The U.N. Security Council, hardly a hotbed of sympathy for the “Zionist Entity,” explicitly blames Hezbollah for starting it.


Also from earlier today, here's Roger Simon:
What's going on now isn't all that amazing. What we're seeing is a gangster regime trying to prevent some "family" (figuratively and literally) members from going to jail for life (by assuring they are tried within Syria). What always surprised me about the Syrian regime, particularly under Bashar, is how dumb they are. The whole world knows they are mafiosi, but would have been prepared to ignore it as long they stayed within their own borders, ruining the lives only of their own people. But the Allawites insist on projecting their own dubious power. How self-destructive is that.

More interesting to me: Why is the UN Security Council suddenly developing some backbone? The other day they even condemned Hezbollah. This can't all be because of the presence of John Bolton. It's also rather unlikely to be due to a sudden "moral reawakening" from the likes of Russia and China. Could it be there is some extremely embarrassing Oil-for-Food information being held in abeyance?

Go to Roger's post for full comments, and watch for more updates.

Back to the reported clashes on the ground:

UPDATES from Debka:
DEBKAfile Exclusive: Syria claims US forces suffered 11 casualties in a Syrian-US clash Thursday night, Nov. 24 – without clarifying whether they meant dead or wounded
November 25, 2005, 5:14 PM (GMT+02:00)
Internal Syrian communications channels report Syrian “Desert Guards” border units fought US Marines who crossed into Syria at a point west of al Qaim. They also claimed 30 Syrian casualties. DEBKAfile’s military sources report the battle took place at the Syrian-Iraqi border town of Abu Kemal. DEBKAfile’s military sources report the battle took place at the Syrian-Iraqi border town of Abu Kemal. US forces were in hot pursuit of a group of al Qaeda operatives who fled across to Syria in escape an American attack pinning them down in Mosul. The US military delivered Syria an ultimatum to hand the terrorists over. The American pursuit continued Friday when Syria failed to respond.

DEBKAfile Exclusive: Damascus has bowed to a UN 24-ultimatum and agreed to let five Syrian officers undergo questioning at UN headquarters in Vienna

November 25, 2005, 2:42 PM (GMT+02:00)

UN investigator Detlev Mehlis warned President Bashar Assad Thursday night he would complain to the UN Security Council of Syrian non-cooperation if he continued to withhold the officers from interrogation outside the country. The UN team wants six Syrian intelligence officers handed over, whereas Syrian deputy foreign minister Walid Muallem spoke only of five.
The six suspects are: the president’s brother-in-law Gen. Assef Shawqat, head of Syrian military intelligence and strongman of the Baath regime, and Gen. Rustum Ghazaleh, Syrian intelligence chief in Lebanon at the time of the murder and current overlord of all Syria’s intelligence agencies, his deputy Col. Jam’a Jam’a, Gen. Bajhat Suleiman, head of Syrian intelligence council, Brig-Gen Zaafar al Yusuf, head of Syrian intelligence signals department, and Brig. Abdel Karim Abbas, head of its Palestine Dept. It is not clear which of the six Damascus is withholding. DEBKAfile’s sources also report that two new witnesses, Syrian officers, have given the UN investigation further testimony on Syrian military intelligence involvement in the murder of the former Lebanese prime minister last February.


UPDATE

DEBKAfile reveals: A key witness in the Hariri murder case was found dead Saturday in a deep wadi near the village of Batrin on Mt. Lebanon
November 26, 2005, 1:02 PM (GMT+02:00)
In the interim report he filed in October, UN investigator Delev Mehlis placed high value on eight cell phone lines as evidence for solving the case of the murdered Lebanese leader Rafiq Hariri. The phones, used by the assassins and the Syrian intelligence officers directing them at the time of the crime, were purchased at a shop in Beirut port owned by Nawar Dora. It was his body that was discovered.

UPDATE: Debka feature article - Russia promises to veto any anti-Syria resolution.

DEBKAfile’s sources close to the investigation report that Syrian president Bashar Assad has managed to hold back his strongman brother-in-law Gen. Assef Shawqat from interrogation at UN headquarters in Vienna as a suspect in the Hariri assassination. By Friday night, Nov. 26, the Syrian ruler had bowed to the UN investigator Detlev Mehlis' ultimatum to let the suspects be quizzed outside Syria. But DEBKAfile discloses he did so on his own legal terms and without the senior suspect. He also obtained from Mehlis a pledge that no arrest warrants would be issued against the remaining five. But above all, we reveal, he persuaded Russian president Valdimir Putin to underwrite Mehlis’ pledge to comply with his terms and promise to veto any anti-Syrian resolution tabled by UN secretary Kofi Annan, the US or France condemning Syria’s failure to cooperate with the international probe.
The high-ranking Syrian officers the UN investigator demanded to question outside Syria are:
Gen. Assef Shawqat, head of Syrian military intelligence and strongman of the Baath regime, Gen. Rustum Ghazaleh, Syrian intelligence chief in Lebanon at the time of the murder and current overlord of all Syria’s intelligence agencies, his deputy Col. Jam’a Jam’a, Gen. Bajhat Suleiman, head of Syrian intelligence council, Brig-Gen Zaafar al Yusuf, head of Syrian intelligence signals department, and Brig. Abdel Karim Abbas, head of its Palestine Dept. Gen. Shawqat has escaped the probe for the moment. ...

Read the full article.

Joshua Landis of Syria Comment has more: Asef isn't Going to Vienna: Asad Family Safe for Now
Ibrahim Hamidi of al-Hayat gets the scoop again. Asef Shawkat, the president's brother-in-law and head of military intelligence, is not among the five security officers slated to go to Vienna for questioning about the murder of Hariri.

The house of Asad is not in the clear yet. We are only at the beginning of the second phase of the UN investigation, which has targeted the Syrian government as the guilty party. All the same, the Asad family does seem to have dodged a bullet in this round. ...

The full post, with Arabic extracts from al-Hayat, is very informative. I don't always share Joshua Landis' set of assumptions and priorities, but he's an articulate and extremely well-informed source on Syria.

Tangentially related, Regime Change Iran links to an article on Russia's latest venture with Syria's main ally.

Syrian heretic Amarji sees desperation in the regime's latest moves:
So the Syrian President is busy these days making all sorts of overture to the Muslim Brotherhood, a development that is currently being touted by some as a sign of openness on part of the ruling clique.

The President’s new strategy, it seems, aims at playing at the anti-American tendencies of both the Islamists and the nationalists in an attempt to build a broad coalition that can enable its regime to survive whatever sanctions and isolation that will be inevitably imposed on his regime, the recent decision to cooperate with the UN probe notwithstanding.

As shrewd as this strategy might seem at first, there is, in effect, one major problem with it, which probably more than enough to make it absolutely useless. For while anti-Americanism is alive and well in all the relevant quarters, mutual trust is sorely lacking. ...

Details at Amarji's post; Ammar concludes: "my advice will be to all those who care to listen is: don’t wait for the regime to survive much longer and start planning for the day after, it's not going to be too long now. And do plan openly and publicly, let the regime know how irrelevant it has become. This will only hasten it demise."

UPDATE: Via LGF (from Never Yet Melted), this post from Hammorabi:
There are news of at least 12 American soldiers have been killed and wounded near the Al-Bo-Kamal area when they followed insurgents escaped to Syria. Fighting then broke down with the Syrians who had at least 3 casualties.

A buffer zone as deep as 30-50 km is needed inside the Syrian border along the Iraqi borders to allow the Iraqi-American forces to penetrate to kill or arrest the insurgent terrorists. Syria has no choice but either to end fully its support for terrorists, that is not going to happen at all or to allow such buffer otherwise it will face serious consequences.

A UN resolution regarding the support of terrorists by the Syrian may now become essential due to their failure to end that support, however for the multinational and Iraqi troops they need the zone to protect themselves and the civilians.






More as it develops.

Zarqawi killed?

UPDATE: For real, this time.


Is Zarqawi dead?

Compiled by DiL staff in Portland, Oregon.

Scroll down for updates. (This post bumped to top. Originally posted November 20.)

Morning Report noted a news bulletin stating that eight al-Qaeda leaders had been killed in Mosul, Iraq. Now via Little Green Footballs (from LGF reader Carl) there's a report at the Jerusalem Post that the dead include Abu Musab al-Zarqawi himself - the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq:
At least one Arab television media outlet reported that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of the al-Qaida in Iraq, was killed in Iraq on Sunday afternoon when eight terrorists blew themselves up in the in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

The unconfirmed report claimed that the explosions occurred after coalition forces surrounded the house in which al-Zarqawi was hiding. ...

Full article at the link. Stay tuned for updates.

UPDATE from Debka: 'DEBKAfile Exclusive: US forces and forensic experts are examining the bodies of eight high-ranking al Qaeda leaders in Mosul to find out if their chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is among them.

November 20, 2005, 8:28 PM (GMT+02:00)

A sample of his DNA is in American possession for a match-up.
The bodies they are trying to identify are of 7 men and one woman, who blew themselves up Sunday, Nov. 20, after their hideout in northern Iraq was under siege by a large US force, backed by tanks and helicopters. The bodies are burned black and unrecognizable. Four Iraqi security officers were killed and 10 injured in the operation.
DEBKAfile’s military sources add that also Sunday, US and Iraqi forces raided al Qaeda sanctuaries in Baghdad and captured several suspects. They followed an intelligence tip which confirmed DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s disclosure (Issue 227 Oct. 28) of the arrival of Zarqawi and his top team to Baghdad on Oct. 15.'

UPDATE: Iraq the Model weighs in, with information from al-Mada:

"Al-Mada paper said that terrorists hiding in a house fired back at American and Iraqi troops that were surrounding the house in a battle that lasted from dawn to noon on Saturday (Jerusalem Post said it was Sunday)`after receiving intelligence about a meeting for senior al-Qaeda members.

The terrorists blew up the house when an Iraqi assault team tried to break into the house, the blast killed four Iraqi soldiers and wounded ten policemen and also killed all of the hiding terrorists.
Eight charred bodies were found in the scene, one of them belongs to a woman.
An Iraqi security official in Mosul said that US forces will most likely conduct DNA tests on the found bodies to verify whether or not Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi was among the killed terrorists."

Go to ITM for the full post.

UPDATE: Now being reported by AP at Yahoo News by AP's Robert Reid (h/t: Original Jeff at ITM comments):

"BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgent attacks killed an American soldier near Baghdad and a British trooper in the south Sunday, as U.S. forces sealed off a house in the northern city of Mosul where eight suspected al-Qaida members died in a gunfight — some by their hand to avoid capture.


In Washington, a U.S. counterterrorism official said the identities of the suspected al-Qaida members was unknown. Asked if they could include terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the official replied: "There are efforts under way to determine if he was killed.

The official said spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information..."

Same story being carried now at KBCI 2, Boise.

INDIRECTLY RELATED: Morocco is conducting a counter-terror sting at this moment.
AFP via Turkish Press:

"Moroccan security forces arrested 17 Islamic extremists with ties to the Al-Qaeda network as they were setting up a terrorist cell, officials in Rabat said.

"The Moroccan security services have just dismantled a terrorist structure as it was being formed," a statement said, adding that the suspects would be charged on Monday.

The network was "composed of 17 elements linked to the radical Islamic movement having connections with small groups emerging at the Iraqi border and maintaining close ties with senior members of the Al-Qaeda organization," it said.
...
The arrests were followed by a security alert at airports, harbours, train stations, shopping centres and embassies throughout the country.

Ten days previously, a group calling itself the Islamic Tawhid Wal Jihad Group of Morocco, a name formerly used by Al Qaeda's Iraq frontman Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, announced that it had declared war on the Moroccan state and King Mohammed VI.

Security officials dismissed the declaration as not credible."

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Earlier today, Stratfor (subscription) published this item:

1623 GMT - Coalition forces in Iraq captured a major al Qaeda in Iraq member in an Oct. 31 raid on a Baghdad safe-house, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) said Nov. 20. According to CENTCOM, Uthman Faruq Muhammad Abd-al-Hamid (aka Abu Ibrahim) was a technician, advisor and supplier of components for improvised explosive devices and other electronic and communication components. Abu Ibrahim also allegedly was part of the jihadist networkÕs propaganda unit in Iraq, supplying video equipment and computer programs.

UPDATE: AP's Chris Tomlinson via Baltimore Sun:

"BAGHDAD, Iraq // U.S. forces sealed off a house in the northern city of Mosul where eight suspected al-Qaida members died in a gunfight -some by their own hand to avoid capture. A U.S. official said Sunday that efforts were under way to determine if terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was among the dead.

Insurgents, meanwhile, killed an American soldier and a Marine in separate attacks over the weekend, while a British soldier was killed by a roadside bomb in the south.

In Washington, a U.S. official said the identities of the terror suspects killed was unknown. Asked if they could include al-Zarqawi, the official replied: "There are efforts under way to determine if he was killed."

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

American soldiers maintained control of the site, imposing extraordinary security measures..."

Read the rest at the link.

UPDATE: Stratfor has this:

2128 GMT - Al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may have been killed in Iraq, the Jerusalem Post reported Nov. 20, citing the Elaph Arabic language media Web site. According to Elaph, al-Zarqawi may have been among a group of eight insurgents killed after their safe-house was surrounded by coalition forces in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, 225 miles north of Baghdad. According to Iraqi officials, an intense gunbattle erupted after U.S. and Iraqi forces surrounded the farmhouse at dawn on Nov. 19. Three insurgents reportedly blew themselves up and the others were killed by small-arms fire.

UPDATE: Dr. Sanity has more:

"FOXNEWS is now reporting all of the above!! Bret Beir has talking to U.S. officials at the Pentagon. A forensic team is onsight. (4:36 pm)
They are connecting the fact that Zarqawi's family is disowning him at exactly this same time. On the down side, the Pentagon is wondering why terrorist sites are acknowledging his death and whether it might be a ploy to make the US think he's dead when he isn't."

UPDATE: OSM is on it:

"The Jerusalem Post was the first to break -- off Elaph Arab media website - the possible death of al Qaeda terror leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Mosul yesterday. First US link: Little Green Footballs. Associated Press now chiming in. Blogger comment upcoming."

UPDATE: Atlas Shrugs says it all with this headline. Go read it all!

UPDATE: Razor Sharp Claws says: "If this is true it would be great to take his bank account so there is no more management to take over! All I can say is one down more to go! This isn’t the end of it you stupid Cindy socialist anti American crowd! Our troops are working hard in all areas! This has to be done so that we don’t have trouble on our own soil. But why am I wasting time telling you Cindy people you won’t get any of this anyway ‘too damn dense!" Read full post at link.

UPDATE: Roger Simon has some interesting observations: "JUST A THEORY: If Zarqawi has been killed... and the AP is correct that there was a tip on his whereabouts... that tip could have come from inside Al Qaeda itself or from people friendly to it. After the Amman hotel horrors, Zarqawi was the blodthirsty poster boy for the Al Qaeda Psychopath. If you believe the Zawahiri letter, they didn't need publicity like this. He had to go."

UPDATE: Tammy Bruce writes: "Let's pray this is true. Please, please, please. Let us all think happy thoughts that this freak is personally learning that it's not 72 virgins terrorist Islamists get when they die, it's 72 Virginians (perhaps Thomas Jefferson among them) who will not be kind to him." Go visit Tammy at her homepage, too - and don't forget to bookmark her on your browser!

UPDATE: Debka: "US forensic experts are examining the bodies of eight high-ranking al Qaeda leaders in Mosul to find out if their chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is among them. A White House official in Beijing called that prospect “highly unlikely and not credible.”"

UPDATE: Kilo Echo 4 has some interesting analysis (scroll down to get past the MSM news release):
It is interesting to note that nowhere in this statement is there an actual denial that Zarqawi was one of those terrorists killed in the house in Mosul! General Vines says we have the DNA to match, but does not say anything about the results of any tests, and since he says that "it is possible" he obviously is not yet in possession of the test results, or he is in possession of them and they don't want us to know what those results were!

Now they should have some test results by now, and the fact that an outright denial has not yet been issued is intriguing. With all the rampant speculation surrounding the events in Mosul, you would think that if they know for a fact that he is still alive, they would just go ahead and tell us outright instead of issuing all these "maybe yes, maybe no" statements. ...

Stay tuned.

UPDATE: US Forces are closing in on Zarqawi. 'BAGHDAD (AFP) - US forces are closing in on top Al-Qaeda in Iraq insurgent Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and expects to capture or kill him "in the not too distant future," a US general said. "We come close to Zarqawi continuously and at one point in time, in the not too distant future, we are going to get Zarqawi," Major General Rick Lynch, spokesman for the US-led multinational force in Iraq told reporters. "As a result of the degradation of his leadership, he personally now has to be more active -- he has to move more," he said, adding that it was only a matter of time before they got him. Starting on 28 September, US and Iraqi forces targeted a number of towns and suspected militant strongholds in the Euphrates River valley, saying it killed 700 insurgents and captured 1,500 others.' (AFP via Yahoo News)

UPDATE: Bill Quick of Daily Pundit:
NEWS: I just got off the phone with a spokesman at the CPIC Press Desk for the Multi-National Force - Iraq, who told me that he had no information as to the results of DNA testing - or the current progress of that testing - designed to determine whether Musab Zarqawi was killed in the raid on a house in Mosul on November 19, 2005.
The official position I was given is that MNF-I does not believe that Zarqawi was killed ...

Read the rest, with Bill's analysis, at the link; and remember to bookmark Daily Pundit.

2005-11-25

Pajamas Media Update

Some new posting from the bloggers of Pajamas Media:

Daily Pundit is rightfully proud of having broken the phone call to CNN about Dick Cheney's "X". Bill Quick analyzes the chain of events, with some ideas for Pajamas Media to improve its future operations, here. Also keep an eye on Daily Pundit for any new word about possible armed conflict with Syria.

Baldilocks is the point woman for PJM. She's also got a very informative post about developments in Kenya.

Iraq the Model is looking for a new look. Memo to Omar and Mohammed: Stay away from those PR firms.

If you want to catch up on the, er, event in New York last week, Cathy Seipp has the details.

Michael Totten has some thoughts on the latest excitement in Lebanon.

Michelle Malkin posts on another demonstration in Texas.

Roger Simon has some thoughts about a showdown in Syria.

And finally, not on the PJM blogroll but well worth being on yours, there's Alexandra von Maltzan's All Things Beautiful. The title says it all. Go and be amazed. Alexandra, thanks for a wonderful blog.

If you have ideas on how to improve PJM, stop by the discussion forum and share your thoughts!

Pajamas Media Discussion Forum

Laurence Simon has created this Pajamas Media Discussion Forum (hat tip: Pajamas honorary president Ann Althouse). I've registered and posted there, and I encourage you to do so as well, whether or not you're affiliated with Pajamas Media. Go check it out.

2005-11-24

The Other World

I dreamed about Stephanie last night. It was dark, but I could see her outline in the room. I don't know how old she was in the dream; she was young, innocent, and ageless. I wanted to ask her something - about her life, about our parents, about what she was feeling now - but she slipped away into the shadows. It was then that I remembered that we no longer belong to the same world.

An Army of One vs. the Yemeni Regime

... and guess which one's winning? Jane at Armies of Liberation continues to attract attention - favorable and otherwise - for her one-woman campaign against repression in Yemen.
The Yemeni government wigged out after I was on al-Jazeera.

So this article is not an attack article but it discusses the pervasive Yemeni governmental media attacks on me. The title is A Front Called Novak:

After more than one week of the battle of the government and the govern party’s press that has launched a campaign against what they pretend is a foreign enemy who is going to root out the country; it is the American journalist Jane Novak.
It is normal that the speech of Jane Novak to Al-Jazeerah has cause all this outrage and reaction of the Yemeni regime, however the regime through it media was vulgar and not was aware of the fact that it gives more evidence and proofs to what was Jane saying .

They launched to attack Jane’s personal affairs and replaced the objectivism with swearing and cursing. ...


Read the rest. See Jane go!

More Thanksgiving Day Messages

Captain James S Eadie, USAF via Blackfive
A Time for Thanksgiving
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I eagerly anticipate the plates of turkey and stuffing, the moments of camaraderie around the TV watching football and the sharing of stories amongst friends, but it is the soldiers’ stories of bravery and courage that should be shared on this day of Thanksgiving.

I had the rare chance to talk in depth with one of my CCATT patients on our last flight, a young 24 year old Marine from Camp Pendleton, California. It is Javier’s story hangs with me this day. Javier gave me permission to share his story with you, a true story of heroism, and sacrifice that deserves to be told on Thanksgiving.

On the morning of 16 November 2005, the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment were taking part in operations along the Iraq-Syrian board to clear the towns of insurgents.

Javier, a strong and sturdy looking square jawed Marine Corporal was on his third deployment to Iraq. He had seen heavy combat in his previous two deployments, and had been injured once before earning him a Purple Heart. On this day he was in command of a Squad of fourteen men. I knew just by talking to him that his men were fortunate to have him leading them into battle. He spoke with clarity and confidence of a man twice his age. In the truest essence, he was a Marine.

Taking point, Javier led his five man team towards the house. Shots rang out around them as they advanced. They could see the downed Marines ahead. A young Lieutenant lay face down outside the house. Javier did not know if he was still alive. They would have to act quickly if they were to save him and the others.

As they approached the house the enemy fire intensified and Javier felt a sudden sting and burning in his right leg. He looked down at his leg. Damn, he thought, “I’ve been shot.” He indeed had taken two bullets to his thigh, but he pushed on.

Undeterred, Javier continued to lead his men towards the house. With increasing fire, they took up a defensive posture against the house wall. Slightly protected there, he began tending his wounds with direct pressure as the others returned fire. He could see several downed Marines only arm lengths away, but they could not be reached safely. Gun fire continued to rain down on them. Another member of the squad was hit. They were in a bad position.

What happened next was recalled to me by the Medic that they called Doc. During the barrage of fire, with their backs literally up against a wall an enemy grenade was thrown out of a window landing in the middle of the five men. Doc told me “It was amazing. I was applying pressure to one of the injured soldiers when someone yelled out GRENADE. Javier just dove at the grenade. I have never seen anything like it.”


Javier grabbed the grenade with his right hand. ...

Read the rest at the link.

Jonah's military guys provide a photo-essay on Thanksgiving around the world.

Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

President Bush's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation via the White House:
Thanksgiving Day, 2005
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America


Thanksgiving 2005

Thanksgiving Day is a time to remember our many blessings and to celebrate the opportunities that freedom affords. Explorers and settlers arriving in this land often gave thanks for the extraordinary plenty they found. And today, we remain grateful to live in a country of liberty and abundance. We give thanks for the love of family and friends, and we ask God to continue to watch over America.

This Thanksgiving, we pray and express thanks for the men and women who work to keep America safe and secure. Members of our Armed Forces, State and local law enforcement, and first responders embody our Nation's highest ideals of courage and devotion to duty. Our country is grateful for their service and for the support and sacrifice of their families. We ask God's special blessings on those who have lost loved ones in the line of duty.

We also remember those affected by the destruction of natural disasters. Their tremendous determination to recover their lives exemplifies the American spirit, and we are grateful for those across our Nation who answered the cries of their neighbors in need and provided them with food, shelter, and a helping hand. We ask for continued strength and perseverance as we work to rebuild these communities and return hope to our citizens.

We give thanks to live in a country where freedom reigns, justice prevails, and hope prospers. We recognize that America is a better place when we answer the universal call to love a neighbor and help those in need. May God bless and guide the United States of America as we move forward.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 24, 2005, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage all Americans to gather together in their homes and places of worship with family, friends, and loved ones to reinforce the ties that bind us and give thanks for the freedoms and many blessings we enjoy.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighteenth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand five, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirtieth.

GEORGE W. BUSH

Andrea Elspeth: Parasite no more!

Alas, a Blog announces that Nick Kiddle's baby,
Andrea Elspeth was born at twenty to 1 yesterday (Wednesday) morning and weighed in at 7lbs 2 oz. They are both healthy and well although Nick is a little tired and battered by the experience.

Welcome to Andrea Elspeth! And congrats to Nick, and wishing him a speedy recovery from his delivery.

Okay, people, you just don't know what fun you're missing.

Dr. Laura's Worst Nightmare photoblogs her 88-year-old mother-in-law getting down to the Clash.

Let's all take a lesson from Mrs. Clara M.

"The Will to Power Surges"

Credit Sissy Willis with linking this wonderful poem by Jeffrey Hull:
Disputation

In fang and claw, or pen and key
The will to power surges;
With biting prose or sophistry
We bare our baser urges.
...


Gotta go to the link to read it all. Thank you Jeffrey, and Sissy, for helping us keep some perspective.

And contemplating this poem, it occurs to me that some folks in blogland could use some surge protectors ...

Pajamas Media Roundup

Tammy hosts an open thread. Stop by and say hi to the turkey!

Charles has some sobering thoughts on the meaning of the poppy in Britain - yesterday and today.

Gateway Pundit sets the record straight on Iraqi troop readiness.

Austin Bay gets past the Michael Moores unburies some good news.

Dean Esmay can help you find an update from Kerry Dupont and some exciting geeky news about qbits. (Silly me. I never thought of embedding my Cooper-pair transistor in a resonant circuit.)

Gay Patriot has some thoughts about the greatest country on earth.

And finally, Ann Althouse, honorary president of Pajamas Media, has an in-depth analysis of media coverage of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. Don't miss it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ayaan Hirsi Ali interview

Sappho has an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali (hat tip: Free Thoughts).
Disturbing questions about the massive muslim presence in Europe are becoming more urgent by the day: It it possible to integrate muslims to become part of Europe? Will we have a liberal version of islam? And if not, what is there to look forward to? Civil war? Dissolution? An islamic take-over?

If your head is full of such nagging thoughts, it is a solace to meet Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the liberal Dutch politician and originally muslim immigrant from Somalia. Since the murder of Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh, for whose strongly islam-critical film "Submission I" Ms. Ali wrote the script, she has been under constant police protection. That was also the case when Sappho.dk interviewed her during her recent visit to Copenhagen. ...

- Why does this thoroughly political person with her background as a political scientist express herself through an artistic medium?

"Because sometimes art is much more powerful than words. Art is accessible to many more more people than if you write a piece on an op-ed page. To understand art you don't have to know how to read and write," says Hirsi Ali, who then turns to the international furor caused by the twelve drawings of the prophet Muhammed recently published by the Danish national daily Jyllands-Posten.

"It is absolutely necessary for liberal European countries like Denmark to protect free speech. I've been in Holland for 13 years, and in a very short time I have learned how Europe came to be what it is today. And part of that was a huge conflict of religion. It started with the Reformation and reached its climax during the Enlightenment. If you refrain from making cartoons of Muhammed to accommodate Islamic intolerance, then you will go back to the time of Christian intolerance."

- Have you had any support among Dutch artists for your position?
"Yes, most of them do not agree with the style of what I have to say, but they find that I have the right to say it. I'm going to make a film called "Submission II", and the people who want to help me make it think that it is my decision what I want to say. I'm so happy about that. It's a big relief because at first I was afraid nobody was going to help me. The next challenge will be who is going to broadcast it. Which TV-channel, which cinema? But we will cross that bridge when we get to it."


RTWT...

Cheney's "X" No Accident - Daily Pundit

And as Dymphna says, isn't it interesting how these things never happen to left-of-center media darlings.

So, you've already heard about the big X that appeared over Vice President Dick Cheney's face during a CNN broadcast. Now, we all have our own ideas about media bias, so a lot of us were reluctant to jump to conclusions. (Yours truly has refrained from posting on this until now.) And even some cautious right-of-center bloggers were willing to accept the theory that the X was just an innocuous technical glitch of some sort. But Bill Quick of Daily Pundit has the exclusive scoop:
CNN Employee On Tape: Cheney "X" Is "Freedom of Speech" - "Tell Bush And Cheney To Stop Lying"
EXCLUSIVE - MUST CREDIT BILL QUICK OF DAILY PUNDIT
*** LATEST UPDATE - CNN CONFIRMS AUTHENTICITY OF CALL, FIRES REPRESENTATIVE ***
*** SEE UPDATE BELOW - PRESKA THOMAS DEFENDS AUTHENTICITY OF TAPE ***

What call? Well, go to the link and get the full details - including audio of a viewer's phone call to CNN, and a (now ex-)employee's unhinged response. Seems that somebody at CNN decided it was a case of "freedom of speech." (Hmmm... does that sound like a "technical glitch" to you?)

Hats off to some very dedicated investigative bloggers.

Jordan's Former Ambassador to Israel is New Prime Minister

Reuters via Yahoo:
By Suleiman al-Khalidi
AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordan's King Abdullah appointed national security chief as prime minister on Thursday, two weeks after triple suicide bombings killed 60 people, a senior official said.

The official said the monarch asked acting national security head, Marouf Bakheet, who had also been serving as the king's office chief of staff, to form a new government following the resignation of Adnan Badran, 69, a U.S.-educated academic appointed last April, and his government.

The choice of Bakheet, 58, a former ambassador to Israel with a long career in military intelligence, underscores the king's desire to give security forces a bigger role in decision making, a senior official told Reuters. ...

Read the rest at the link.

2005-11-23

Pajamas Media: A Guide for the Perplexed

This post will highlight some of the best blogs from the newly-formed Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media. The alternative media organization's website offers readers a preview of what's in store. Personally I'm enthralled with the look of the new logo: the "zen-meets-grafitti" look is very happening. Very LA, even.

The Pajamas sidebar is the key to its success. At least, I'm hoping so, because if we're counting on the main screen, we're all in trouble. The sidebar features (in order of importance), the Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media Blogroll, Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media Blogs, Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media Editorial Advisory Board, and the real big shots.

The most important people, of course, are the humble folks on the plain old blogroll. These include names like Cool Blue, Iraqi Bloggers Central, Dr. Sanity, Meryl Yourish, Winds of Change, and other tragically underappreciated blogs. Rand Simberg of Transterrestrial Musings wasn't in New York for the launch party, but his voice could be heard shouting "Liftoff! We have liftoff!"

(Inexplicably overlooked was The Iraq War Was Wrong Blog.)

Now the inconspicuous, unstarred names on the Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media Blogroll are more important than you might realize. Because you see, we are actually undercover agents who are compelled to keep a low profile for security reasons. But I digress.

Branding is very important to Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media, which is why not just any blog can call itself one of the Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media Blogs. These are the big leaguers like Atlas Shrugs, Confederate Yankee, Dean's World, Gay Patriot, Kesher Talk, LaShawn Barber, Michael Totten, Michelle Malkin, the lady with the apple, and Sisu (prounounced "Sissy Willis").

Blogging from an undisclosed location, Omar and Mohammed of Iraq the Model are affiliated with Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media in ways that are as mysterious as their last name (shhhh! don't tell if you already know) and the mind of the elusive Third Brother Ali, who reportedly will return one day to establish the ... er, well, it's a long story.

Moving still further up the food chain, we come to the ranks of the Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media Editorial Advisory Board. It's not just an editorial board, and it's not just an advisory board. It's a board to advise the editors on how to give their editorial advice. The Editorial Advisory Board includes the woman for whom "fabulous" doesn't even come close, Cliff May of FDD, Claudia Rosett, and the man who owns the copyright on the phrase "Faster, please."

Last but by no means least, we have the staff of Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media. Australian editor Wretchard of The Belmont Club occasionally writes under the pseudonym "Richard Fernandez".

Glenn Reynolds aka Instapundit is known as the "Paul Revere of the Internet". During one of our lengthy and profound conversations at the New York event, I asked Glenn how he had come by that nickname. "Well," he confided, "I think people have always seen me as a kind of a 'Paul Revere' figure. At least, I often hear folks saying something about 'the horse I rode in on ...'"

And finally, there are co-founders Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, Roger L. Simon whose blog is mysteriously called Roger L. Simon, and most important of all, honorary president Ann Althouse, who has written more about Pajamas Open Source Pajamas Media than anyone else.

Let's blogroll!

Night Flashes

Debka is reporting that 'Morocco and Spain have smashed a large al Qaeda network which was gearing up for fresh attacks in West Europe. ome strikes were planned for American, Israeli and Jewish targets. At least 20 suspects were arrested in Morocco, 10 in Spain and several more secretly in the UK, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Denmark. In Morocco, they were picked up in Rabat, Agadir and Casablanca. Some were members of the armed forces. In Spain, the arrests were made in Alicante, Granada and Murcia. This is one of the biggest al Qaeda rings ever to be broken up. Our sources add the network took its orders from an al Qaeda command center in Syria. Links between the Middle East, Moroccan and Belgium cell commanders were maintained by means of secret rendezvous in Turkey.' ... GayPatriot notes with regret the retirement of Arizona congressman Jim Kolbe: 'When I lived in D.C., I knew Jim and socialized with him on occasion. I once even wrote a speech for him on free trade. Jim is a good man and a loyal Republican. He did a great job representing the citizens of Arizona’s Eighth District for over twenty years. Since his first election in 1984, he has won all but once of his races with at least 60% of the vote. Even after coming out as a gay man, he continued to champion issues the same issues that he had championed before he came out — particularly free trade. ...' ... Jane at Armies of Liberation blows the whistle on Yemeni officers supporting Iraqi terrorists: 'Let’s not forget that Iraqi officials recently issued an interpol request that Yemeni officials extradite Saddam’s nephew who they claim is a mastermind of terrorism activities in the Northern section of Iraq, providing fighters, financing, ect. (Which ties into the statement by a regime official in a newspaper that al-Qaeda affiliated elements of the Yemeni military had established training camps in Yemen for fighters to go to Iraq.) Also the a leader of the Aden Abyan Army, Haidrah Abubakr, also known as Abulashaath, recently said “we know that we were imprisoned again only to be used against those opposing the regime.” ... Pamela at Atlas Shrugs has a chilling report on an upsurge in atrocities in Darfur, Sudan - and China's complicity: 'A monthly UN report on the situation in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region spotlighted an upsurge in killings of civilians, including children, and rape of women during the month of October. The report by UN chief Kofi Annan, which was unveiled here this week, said that despite government pledges to launch joint military and police patrols on highways to improve security. Is the UN capable of nothing? Annan is worthless. This must stop. I don't give a shit about what is or isn't PC or what is in our best interest. This must end. What are we waiting for? For everyone to be murdered?' ...

An Exit Strategy on Iraq

Janet in Venice Beach is the author of the following letter to Congresswoman Jane Harmon; it is posted at Thomas R. McIntyre's site, Truth on Iraq:
All this recent uproar in congress about ' needing to define an exitstrategy' rubs me entirely the wrong way. it sounds and looks andsmells to me like pure posturing for the camera and microphones. it's disingenuous and it pisses me off.if any of these idiots were actually bothering to follow events in iraq,the real events,they would'nt be carrying on so ignorantly. turn offthe mainstream media and get your news from the people living it, overthere.if i can do it, you can do it.i have to conclude that i am better informed about iraq than they are.which is pretty damning, considering.we HAVE an exit strategy. we're already enacting it. . our guys on theground in country know what they're doing. the jerks on the news, backhere, don't know crap.don't you become one of them.

the iraqis know what needs to happen. thesoldiers know what needs to happen.the so called 'insurgents' [read, jihad criminals] are watchingeverything you do, the way vultures and wolves watch for the weakeningones in the herd.knock it off with this hue and cry for a pullout date. they'll set theirfilthy watches by that, and wait. how stupid could you possibly be? if that's how you think, then the next time you go on vacation, be sureto put up big signs all around your house, saying 'leaving as of the nth of ___' and tell everyone on the block you can't see what's wrong with that. OK?

you just had a tragic demonstration in New ORleans, of what happens whenthe Government comes along, telling everyone it's time to leave, period,get out right now, you can't take time and do it right.you have people in need, abandoned to die, in fear, helpless, left ontheir own in the face of criminals with guns and ammo, anarchy, chaos,starvation, death, and an immensity of injustice. you have animals leftto die slow, agonizing, waiting ends. you have lifetime businessesdestroyed, sacked, looted, unprotected. you have lifetime possessions,homes, works, forced to be left behind, unfinished, at the mercy offate.but it wasn't fate. it was due to the dictates of some idiot who wasn'tliving there, who opened their ignorant mouth to those who were.

obviously, you must not have learned anything, tho it was shown to youin excuciating detail, day after day.oh, and this time, there won't be any swarm of rescuers in helicopterscoming day after day to find the lost and take them to safety.no, why should we care what happens to them? they aren't 'like us',right? they're all just strange, swarthy 'little brown people', faraway, over there, 'sand niggers', who don't speak like us, who don'tmatter, no, what matters is 'our way of life, here at home, for ourkind'.how profoundly offensive. ...

Read the rest here.

Today Is Thanksgiving

... according to Apple Computer. My 17" PowerBook has been acting funny, and I called Apple's customer support line. I'm getting the following message:
Welcome to the AppleCare service and support line. For additional support options, please consider visiting our website. For technical support, press 1.... [two beeps] Please wait.

Thanks for calling Apple. In observance of the Thanksgiving holiday, the contact center will be closed Thanksgiving Day....

Well, happy Thanksgiving to you, too, guys. Nice that you got to close up shop early. Guess I'll have to call you back another time ... if that's not too inconvenient for you.

Morning Report: November 23, 2005

Iraq: Gunmen kill Sunni tribal leader. CNN: 'Gunmen dressed as Iraqi troops stormed the home of a senior Sunni leader Wednesday, killing him, his three sons and a son-in-law, Iraqi police said. Neighbors told authorities that at least 10 vehicles that appeared to belong to the Iraqi army stopped outside the western Baghdad house of Kadhim Sarheed Ali al-Dulami, a sheik of the Sunni al-Dulami tribe, before gunmen went inside the home and shot the men. The killings took place about 4 a.m. local time in the Hurriya neighborhood.' Debka: 'A sheikh of the Iraqi Sunni al-Duleimi tribe was shot dead with his three sons and son-in-law at his home in W. Baghdad Wednesday. Gunmen in Iraqi army uniforms arrived in 10 Iraqi army vehicles, stormed the sheikh’s home in the Hurriyah district and killed them in their beds.' (CNN, Debka)

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf declared winner in Liberian elections. AP via Yahoo news: 'Officials on Wednesday declared Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf the winner of Liberia's first postwar balloting, making her Africa's first elected female president. Supporters cheered as Johnson-Sirleaf's motorcade toured the battle-shattered capital, Monrovia, a once-tidy city whose government-supplied electricity, water and sewage systems failed during years of strife that killed tens of thousands. "I'm excited but I am also humbled by the awesome challenges that we will be facing," Johnson-Sirleaf, 67, told U.N. radio. "I am thankful to the Liberian people." The final, certified results showed Johnson-Sirleaf besting her rival, soccer superstar George Weah, in the Nov. 8 runoff, winning 59.4 percent to his 40.6 percent, National Elections Commission Chairwoman Frances Johnson-Morris said. International observers have said the elections were largely free and fair, with only a few small irregularities.' (AP via Yahoo)

PJM: Bomb al-Jazeera? A recent claim in a British tabloid that President Bush wanted to bomb the al-Jazeera TV station during the Iraq war, on the grounds that it was aiding the terrorists in Iraq. Pajamas Media has more, and a roundup of commentary. (PJM)

Lebanon: At peace or at war? Michael Totten isn't sure, but he's got a new post up, with photos. Michael reports on the latest developments: 'Even though Lebanon and Israel are technically at war, Lebanese soldiers and Israeli soldiers have never once fired at each other across the border. But that’s not enough to keep the border a calm one. Hezbollah, not the army, controls Lebanon’s side. On Monday the border erupted in violence yet again. Hezbollah fighters stormed into Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and engaged the Israeli army in battle. They also fired mortars and rockets at Israel’s Abbassiyeh post. Israel retaliated with air strikes against the villages of Shebaa and Kfar Shouba, the Al-Mari Valley, and at Hezbollah positions outside Khiam and southeast of the coastal city of Tyre. More than 250 explosions were reported.' Go to the link for the full report - and those photos. (Michael J. Totten)

Blackfive on Cairo conference. Uncle Jimbo gives some perspective on media coverage of the Cairo conference: '... Our opposition have already seized on the presence of the word timetable in the statement as vindication of their many ill-founded suggestions to bail out. This completely and willfully ignores the next clause which conditions it on training troops and increasing overall security, sounds familiar eh? I think Rummy and W already operate on a timetable based on the ability of the Iraqis to beat the insurgents down. Matter of fact the troop training and deployment is going swimmingly and more Iraqis patrol their countryside every day.' RTWT. (Blackfive)

Amarji: "Brilliant a**holes." Syrian heretic Amarji writes: 'In order to open a much-needed channel of communication with the American people and get the point of view of the Syrian regime across to them, some brilliant assholes in the regime’s pay-roll thought that brining in "former US Senator" and ex-Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke to Syria to lambaste the Bush Administration and its Zionist agenda and declare his sympathy with the Syrian people and their ruling regime would make an excellent coup! ...' (See also this entry.) (Amarji)

2005-11-22

Sundries: Why are people conservative?

Commenter Victoria keeps a blog called Sundries, which I enthusiastically and unreservedly recommend to you. Here's the homepage link again, just in case you forgot to bookmark it on your browser the first time.

Here's a terrific post on conservatism:
One of the most important lessons from evolution, a theory held in much respect by certain people (including myself), is that nature will tend towards survival over death, and go about ways of preserving themselves. When change comes it is most often gradual, unless a cataclysmic event intervenes.

Upheaval, revolt, anarchy, all these states of change are considerably more risky than the certainty of stasis.

And yet, this response does a severe injustice to Conservatism, because it infers that all progress is by default, Liberal in nature.

The old, "Conservatism is stuck, whilst Liberalism marches forward" theory.

This is the idea that allows political progressives to debase any proposal that doesn't emanate from the well-spring of their philosophy.

It becomes a challenge, even an affront that positive change is happening without they leading the charge.

In short, for such people, progress is inconceivable without progressives.

And this is wrong. ...

Read it all at the link.

Night Flashes

Iran Focus reports that the regime is speeding up work on a suspected nuclear site:
London, Nov. 22 – Secret construction work is going on in Iran’s massive nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz, central Iran, with more than a dozen new buildings being built, Iran Focus has learnt.

Iran Focus received the information from an Iranian engineer whose identity is being withheld as he lives in Iran. He provided Iran Focus with an account of 17 silos and bunkers being built in continuous shifts. The silos are all 24 metres high and have various-shaped entrances.

Thirty construction contractors are carrying out the project. Workers are working 24 hours a day in several shifts.


Meanwhile, AP via Yahoo reports that the IRI is urging Iraq to hasten the departure of US troops:
Iran's supreme leader urged the Iraqi president on Tuesday to seek a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, saying the American presence harms the country.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, who is paying a three-day visit to Iran, a country the United States accuses of meddling in Iraq but that is closely allied to Iraq's new Shiite and Kurd-dominated leadership.

"The government and people of Iraq can with their voices seek a timetable for the exit of the occupiers," Khamenei told Talabani, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency. "Certainly, in the end the Americans and British will be forced by bitter experience to leave Iraq." ...


Khamenei sounds a lot like certain Democrats in Congress to Gay Patriot.

Two gay men were executed in Iran according to this Human Rights Watch report posted at Free Iran:
New York, November 22, 2005) – Iran’s execution of two men last week for homosexual conduct highlights a pattern of persecution of gay men that stands in stark violation of the rights to life and privacy, Human Rights Watch said today.

On Sunday, November 13, the semi-official Tehran daily Kayhan reported that the Iranian government publicly hung two men, Mokhtar N. (24 years old) and Ali A. (25 years old), in the Shahid Bahonar Square of the northern town of Gorgan.

The government reportedly executed the two men for the crime of "lavat." Iran’s shari`a-based penal code defines lavat as penetrative and non-penetrative sexual acts between men. Iranian law punishes all penetrative sexual acts between adult men with the death penalty. Non-penetrative sexual acts between men are punished with lashes until the fourth offense, when they are punished with death. Sexual acts between women, which are defined differently, are punished with lashes until the fourth offense, when they are also punished with death.

“The execution of two men for consensual sexual activity is an outrage,” said Jessica Stern, researcher with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “The Iranian government’s persecution of gay men flouts international human rights standards.” ...


Debka is currently reporting on Hezbollah's exit strategy:
Hizballah began pulling its commando units out of south Lebanon Tuesday afternoon, the day after its massive bombardment of northern Israel and failed attempt to kidnap Israeli troops

November 21, 2005, 4:16 PM (GMT+02:00)

The IDF remains on high alert, waiting to see if the Shiite terrorists have given up the attempt or laid a red herring. Overnight, the Israeli air force demolished the Hizballah base north of Kfar Ajar border village, where the kidnap unit lost four men and fled.
Washington requested Israeli restraint in face of the heavy Hizballah assault which spread Monday night to civilian targets from the Galilee panhandle to the Mediterranean coast. Twelve Israelis were injured, two seriously, in the bombardment and the two Hizballah kidnap raids. A house in Metula suffered a direct missile hit. Civilians spent the night in bomb shelters.


Jane at Armies of Liberation is getting some attention in Yemen:
Amazing, just amazing. The Yemeni governmental media is trashing my blog.

So I wrote an article (Y20) entitled Yemen’s Criminal Enterprise detailing the crimes of the Yemeni regime. (And the Yemeni newspaper, al-Thoury, was suspended for a week for publishing it in Arabic.)

Then I was on al-Jazeera and spoke in my normal forthright manner about the situation in Yemen. (See Jane Novak Slams President Saleh’s Regime on al-Jazeera.)

So now, every paper in Yemen is discussing the show. ...


And finally, a terrible emergency at an airport causes Tammy Bruce to reflect on the importance of learning proper first aid techniques.

LPJ praises CNN feature ... and interviews ITM brothers!

Sami at Lebanese Political Journal has some kind words for CNN today, in particular the network's week-long feature Eye on the Middle East. LPJ writes:
CNN is running a week long series entitled "Eye on the Middle East." Hala Gorani is reporting from Amman, and Jim Clancy is reporting from Beirut. They are holding live events in both capitals, and they are doing a fantastic job.

Jim Clancy hosted a showcalled CNN Connects focusing on issues effecting Arab youth [the program aired in Beirut at 8pm Tuesday night]. He brought together a group politically active people in their late 20s - early 30s from Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.

Some major trends became apparent:
1) For people actually working for democracy, like the Iraqi pollster and the Lebanese activist Asma Andreos, America was not the major issue. They focused on issues that affect our daily lives. However, the others blabbered on and on about the evils of America, which really didn't advance their arguments about how they would build what they wanted in their countries.

Even when asked specific questions about how to make their countries better, these individuals chose to speak about America. They all had advice for what America should do, but had none they could vocalize for how to achieve their own goals.

2) Arabs don't know anything about each other. ...

Go to the link to read the rest. Also, don't miss the e-mail interview with Omar and Mohammed of Iraq the Model, covering Lebanese/Iraqi relations.
Has what happened in Lebanon had any effect on the situation in Iraq? Do people ever talk about Lebanese affairs, politics, political figures? Do Iraqis, regardless of sect, think much of Hezbollah? Are Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Ayatollah Fadlallah even known by Shia in Iraq? Do you know what Iraqi Shia think of al Manar TV?

I personally think the situation in Iraq and Lebanon pretty much began to relate to each other since the assassination of Hariri. Many Iraqis think that the freedom of speech in Iraq had encouraged the Lebanese to start the Cedar revolution.

And, also many Iraqis are optimistic to see more pressure applied on Asad and his gang and they hope the international investigation will lead to ending the rule of Ba'ath in Syria or at least get the Syrians to leave Iraq alone ...

Read it all at the link. And be sure to check out that CNN feature.

Morning Report: November 22, 2005

Debka: Hezbollah's kidnap team hoist on own petard. Hezbollah had planned to send a specially trained team to capture an Israeli tank and crew to exhibit at Lebanese Independence Day ceremonies in Beirut today - capping a larger offensive staged by the group. Instead, the unit was intercepted and destroyed by Israeli paratroopers at Kfar Ajar, with Israel's Corporal David Markovitch killing three of the bad guys with a single burst of gunfire. Debka reports: 'This was the first time the Hizballah had sent a specially-trained motorbike commando unit into action. Its mission was to kidnap Israeli soldiers and bring them to Beirut for a macabre display in Lebanon’s Independence Day ceremonies Tuesday, Nov. 22. This was to be an act of defiance against Israel and more particularly the anti-Syrian government. DEBKAfile’s sources do not confirm it was instigated by Damascus and Tehran, as Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz claimed. Nasrallah may have informed both governments, but his essential motive was to grind his own axe in Lebanon. ... But most of all, the Hizballah leader sought to show up the Beirut government and prime minister Fouad Siniora as impotents. The Lebanese prime minister would not dare send troops against him to free the Israelis – even though their abduction was a brazen contravention of international law. He and his government would then be dismissed by the Lebanese people and the Arab world as nonentities. ... In fact, the offensive launched Monday, Nov. 21 at just before 15:00 hours local time, was the biggest and fiercest the Hizballah has ever carried out against Israel. According to our military sources, 500 shells and rockets were fired in five hours, at the rate of 100 per hour against military and civilian targets. Twelve Israelis were injured, two seriously. Israeli warplanes and artillery returned fire and air force helicopters chased Hizballah firing crews in southern Lebanon, killing at least 12. Nasrallah’s motorcyclist team was able to conquer both sides of Kfar Ajar, but failed in its mission to kidnap Israeli soldiers, live or dead. It ran into an ambush trap laid by an Israeli paratroop unit, which hid in a house on the Israeli side of the village. A second team was repulsed by the Israel Gladiola position on Mt. Dov. Hizballah lost another four or five men in the two raids. Nasrallah’s plan therefore boomeranged against him. Instead of snatching Israelis, Beirut is asking Israel to hand over the bodies of the Hizballah casualties.' Full analysis at the link. (Debka)

Sandmonkey: Safety vs. security in the Netherlands. Egyptian Sandmonkey has fond memories of Holland, but he's uneasy with what he sees now. 'Holland has a special place in my heart, especially Amsterdam, because it hosted nights of unpralleled debauchery and decadance on the part of me and my friends while we were still in Highschool , but let's not go into details on that. The thing I liked about Amsterdam was the high level of personal freedom it gave you as a person, and yet how this freedom did not endanger public safety in the sense that authorities in countries like the one I am in right now claim such freedom would. If anything it's there I learned that Egypt isn't a safe country -as we like to claim it is-, but rather a secure one, and there is a huge difference between safety and security. Security is when you are fine because they have police everywhere, Safety is when you are fine despite not having the police everywhere. The day when I don't see police officers or soldiers everywhere is the day I will believe that Egypt is safe to be in. That being said, it's sad now to see that Holland is inching slowly from being a Safe country to being a secured one, and the reason for it is the continued threats posed by the Islamists organizations there. Things are slowly getting weird over there, and if you are the fan of blaming the provocateur instead of the source (Also known as "blaming the rape victim" method), you can blame one woman for it all: Ayaan Hirsi Ali.' Sandmonkey cites an article at The Australian: 'A FILM about gay rights should hardly raise an eyebrow in The Netherlands, which for centuries has prided itself as a beacon of freedom of expression and was the first country to legalise gay marriage.But when Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali refugee turned Dutch MP, started making a new film about the oppression of homosexuals under Islam, the threat to everyone taking part was deemed so great that she decided there would be no faces shown on screen and no end credits and that the entire production team would remain anonymous.' Full article at the link. (Sandmonkey, The Australian)

Belmont Club on the Pacific front. Wretchard takes a look at Jihad Islamiyya (JI) operations in Southeast Asia, and concludes: 'These global low-intensity operations complement the high-intensity battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. If operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom aimed at toppling the state sponsors of terrorism, actions such as those in Southeast Asia are directed against the terrorist cells themselves. Debate over the Murtha resolution calling for the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq has been curiously divorced from the context of the global strategy against terrorism; as if the reestablishment of a haven Iraq would have no effect on other parts of the War on Terror. It's also interesting to observe that Azahari, like Zarqawi in Iraq was under pressure to modify his tactics to avoid the backlash generated by excessive collateral damage caused by massive bombs. One wonders whether the enemy practice of using civilians as shields, as discussed by an anonymous Marine in the Washington Times, far from being the stroke of military genius, may in fact cost them the war.

2005-11-21

1st LAR Finds Weapons Cache - October 9

Marine Corps News:
BARWANA, Iraq (Oct. 9, 2005) -- Marines with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion uncovered a cache of weapons after receiving a tip on the site’s approximate location.

Marines, sailors and soldiers from Regimental Combat Team-2 and from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team received the tip while conducting Operation River Gate in the town of Barwana and surrounding areas. Their mission for the operation was to eliminate insurgents, disrupt lines of communication and prevent interference with the Constitutional Referendum.

At the suspected cache site, Marines from Weapons Company and combat engineers from 1st Combat Engineer Battalion attached to 1st LAR discovered man-made dirt mounds, heavy equipment tracks and an area which appeared to have something buried underneath it.

“The area was larger than we had anticipated and it was quickly getting dark out,” said 1st Lt. James P. Donovan, a 29-year-old combat engineer. “We decided to come back at first light with mine sweeping and metal detecting devices.”

Weapons Company Marines posted security to prevent anyone from tampering with the site that night and returned in the morning ready to begin searching.

Pfc. Michael D. O’Neill, 21, and Donovan were conducting sweeps of the area when O’Neill’s metal detector began to sound.

“I had been picking up signals before and they turned out to be trash, but the length of this detection made me think,” O’Neill, a combat engineer and Amissville, Va., native commented. "I outlined the area, which was about 10 feet long, and the Marines began to dig.”

After a few minutes of digging, they discovered the outside of a structure and soon after, they uncovered the roof and a door.

“We pried the door open and I looked inside,” Donovan, East Point, Ga., native said. “The first thing I saw was 120 mm mortars ...

Read the rest at the link.
Hat tip: 1 of the Few - 1st Light Armored Infantry Bn. veterans' site

Talabani to Visit Iran

From Marze Por Gohar:
Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is due to arrive in Iran today on a three-day visit.

Talabani is scheduled to have talks in Tehran with Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, among other top officials.

Topics of discussion are expected to include border security and Iran's participation in the reconstruction of Iraq.

Talabani's visit comes after Iraq's national security chief, Muwaffaq Rubaie, visited Tehran last week.

Visit MPG homepage.

Mohammed on Cairo Conference

Mohammed at Iraq the Model weighs in on the Arab League conference in Cairo:
Some try to overlook regional and international balances and forget that Iraq is part of these balances and they even try to ignore the resolutions of the UN and Security Council forgetting that they also are part of this system which they’re going to rely on for one thing or another sooner or later.

What we actually need is to encourage the reasonable middle trend that weighs things by interests and logic, not emotions and mood and does not use a use that boring poetic language when discussing a technical task.

Anyway, I think this conference is going to change very little from the situation on the ground; those who endorse and practice violence do not really seek legitimacy from this or that conference.
But there are still a few good things that came out of this meeting as this is the first time since the fall of the past regime when the Arab League denounces Saddam’s regime opening the door for discrediting more dictatorships in the future.

Second there was a condemnation for media networks that were asked to lower their tone a bit and to stop saying things that might create hatred or encourage sectarian or ethnic differences and this call addressed both, Arabic and Iraqi media that is serving certain partisan interests. ...

Read the whole article at the link.

In other news, The Religious Policeman finds a mosque that won't sweep the vermin under the rug:
So I was therefore pleased to read this small piece of news from a small town in the North of England, and incidentally home to one of the 7/7 London bombers.

Jihad videos left in mosques in tube bomber's town

The headline, of course, is bad news. Some vermin had scuttled into a mosque and left its droppings, with Jihadi propaganda tapes and DVD's placed alongside the genuine religious material.

The tape is understood to show scenes of violence against Muslims, including footage of funeral processions and burials from Iraq overlaid by verses from the Qur'an. Along with others, it was left with genuine religious material at the mosque's reception area in sleeves allegedly disguised to suggest that the contents were celebratory sermons and texts

However, the good news is that worshippers at the mosque, instead of "keeping it to themselves" or "keeping it within the community", showed that they rejected its message, didn't want their young people polluted by it, felt themselves to be responsible members of the wider community, and handed the material into the police.

RTWT.

Arash Sigarchi

Rachel Hoff at Middle East Forum:
On January 17, 2005, Iranian security forces arrested 28-year-old Iranian journalist and weblogger Arash Sigarchi for espionage and insulting leaders of the Islamic Republic. Sigarchi, editor of the daily Gilan Emrooz (Gilan[1] Today), had antagonized regime officials with outspoken dissent on two blogs, Panjareh-yi Eltehab (Window of Anguish) to which he was a regular contributor, as well as his own blog, http://www.sigarchi.com/blog.

Sigarchi was aware of the dangers of his actions. His posts chronicled the arrests of fellow bloggers. He spoke out against the abuse of two fellow bloggers, Shahram Rafihzadeh and Rozbeh Mir Ebrahimi. In 2004, Iranian authorities arrested and beat more than twenty other blogging dissidents. Sigarchi had himself been harassed by the police who detained him for several days in August 2004 after he posted online an article with photos of a dissident rally in Tehran.[2]

Nevertheless, Iranian dissidents are increasingly penning blogs to voice criticism of the Islamic Republic and to push for freedom and democracy. With an estimated 100,000 active Iranian blogs, Persian is now tied with French as the second most common blogging language after English.[3]

Sigarchi's most recent arrest coincided with an Iranian government crackdown on blogging. ...

Go to the link to read the rest of the article. See also: Arash Sigarchi blog (Persian). Hat tip: Ann, via e-mail.

Related: Iran Focus via Free Iran: Tehran top cop to crack down on dissent.
Wed. 9 Nov 2005

http://www.iranfocus.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=4360

Iran Focus

Tehran, Iran, Nov. 09 – Iranian police are planning to boost a national security plan that will effectively increase a crackdown already in effect, the chief of police in Greater Tehran announced on Wednesday.

Brigadier General Morteza Talai told the Fars news agency, run by the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that the plan which was scheduled to have ended on Friday would continue to be in effect and would be enhanced.

A “Plan to Combat Trouble-makers” was launched in Tehran in September and soon spread to cities and towns across the nation. Under the scheme, thousands have been arrested within a period of several months for various charges such as “racketeering” and “loansharking”. ...

Stay in touch with Iranian activism at Free Iran News and Regime Change Iran.

Morning Report: November 21, 2005

Sharon forms new political party. The face of politics is changing, in Israel as elsewhere. OSM: 'Israeli president Moshe Katsav has announced that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, in a meeting at his residence earlier this morning, has requested that he dissolve the Knesset, according to the Jerusalem Post, which also reports that Katsav indicated that he would approve such a decision.' A recent bulletin from Debka reports: 'Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, at the first meeting of his new list, Party of National Responsibility, promised to follow the Middle East road map, wage a relentless war on terror and refrain from further disengagements. The meeting was attended by 12 MKs. Earlier, Monday, Nov. 21, he sent a letter to Likud resigning from the party. He also visited President Katzav and asked him to dissolve the Knesset for an early election. Sharon informed the president that his government is faced with a hostile Knesset majority and therefore unable to functional effectively. The president will consult with party leaders for a Knesset member able to form an alternative government supported by a 61-member majority. He has 21 days grace before dissolving the Knesset for an early election 90 hence. Arutz Sheva writes: 'Prime Minister Sharon ended the suspense that gripped the country for a number of weeks, and made known his decision around midnight Sunday night: He will not run for the Likud Party leadership, but will rather quit and form his own new party. The reason, apparently, is as Binyamin Netanyahu - his main challenger for the party leadership - said on Friday: "Sharon knows that the Likud as a party will never accept his dictates for additional withdrawals, in the framework of the Roadmap or in a unilateral and arbitrary manner, as happened in Gush Katif. Every territorial compromise in the future will be contingent upon a referendum. Therefore, he has been left with no choice but to [try to] carry out his policies via a different party."' The Jerusalem Post has this on the new party: 'Hours after the first meeting of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's newly formed National Responsibility Party, the head of the Likud secretariat, Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz, instructed the Likud administration to issue restraining orders against Sharon and all the members of his new party to prevent them from approaching the Likud headquarters. ... "The upcoming election campaign will be a tough one but I am certain we will win it," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Monday during the first meeting of his new centrist party - the National Responsibility party (Ahrayut Leumit ). I thank you for your courage. I know that you are exposed to pressure and threats. This was a difficult decision and I respect that you took it upon yourselves," Sharon said.' (OSM, Debka, A7, JPost)

Eight terrorists killed in Mosul; speculation on Zarqawi played down. As Dreams Into Lightning reported extensively yesterday, some early reports on a firefight in Mosul, Iraq, in which eight terrorists were killed, suggested that Abu Mousab Zarqawi might be among the dead. However, the US government is stating that speculation on the demise of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq is "highly unliekly and not credible." ABC news has this update: 'The U.S. Army's Stryker brigade has carried out a number of operations against suspected terrorist strongholds in the last few months and when three men blew themselves up rather than be captured on Saturday, it led to speculation one was Zarqawi. Jordanian intelligence officials tell ABC News that Zarqawi has sworn never to be taken alive by the United States, and travels with a suicide explosives belt. U.S. officials were hoping that the tide had turned against Zarqawi following his group's claim of responsibility for an attack on a Muslim wedding in Jordan. His attempt last week to explain or apologize in an Internet audio broadcast was seen by many as admission of failure. ... "When Zarqawi says 'accidentally the roof fell in on the wedding,' I think the truth is the roof fell in on Zarqawi," said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, a former U.S. counterterrorism official.' Full post at the link. (various; ABC)