Morning Report: October 15, 2006

Clash of symbols. Another fascist leader sports a rifle, a genocide memorial is defaced, a traitor is charged, and artists begin to show signs of being mentally "colonized". On the ground, the battle is as ugly as ever.

Just call him A.K. for short. Debka: 'Iran’s supreme ruler Ali Khamenei delivers war sermon, symbolically totes Kalashnikov. This shot, suppressed in Iran’s media coverage, shows Khamenei speaking at Tehran University on Oct. 13, the third Friday of Ramadan,. He is holding an automatic AK 47 rifle in his right hand in a pose reminiscent of Yasser Arafat and Saddam Hussein at their most belligerent. His sermon was tantamount to a declaration of war by Iran and its Middle East allies: Syria, Hizballah and the Palestinian Hamas against the United States and Israel. The Kalashnikov accentuated his words.' Or Does It Explode: 'The Supreme Leader is either becoming his own bodyguard - or sending a message to the masses. He was packing heat during sermon time at Tehran University yesterday. Check out the gun barrel visible in his hand ... The Khomeni photo in the background is a nice touch. But isn't the gun-toting a bit Saddam-esque?' Photo at link. (Debka, ODIE)

Zeyad: Internal displacements on the rise. Healing Iraq:
The Iraqi Ministry of Immigration recently released figures on the number of internally displaced families in the country. 51,037 families have registered as refugees with the ministry. ... The Iraqi News Agency reported that Muqtada Al-Sadr recently confided to an Iraqi Intelligence officer that a large number of Shi’ite death squads have been operating under the banner of the Mahdi Army, but that they are really Iranian Revolutionary Guard officers and Hezbollah fighters conducting operations without his knowledge, and that he has no control over them. ... Sadr had publicly threatened Friday in a statement reported by AFP to reveal the names of his supporters who were “killing the Iraqi people unjustifiably” and to disown them before God. A source close to Sadr mentioned on an Iraqi message board that, before making that statement, Sadr was listening to reports from some followers in Sadr City on the criminal activities of the Mahdi Army, and that he said, “This means that if I go there [to Sadr City], there is a 100% chance that they would kill me and put me in a car trunk!”

Sadr has made several attempts over the last few weeks to distance himself from the murderous actions of his private army, which only helps to prove that he has lost all control over it.

Meanwhile, Mahdi Army members went on a rampage in the town of Balad, a Shi’ite enclave in the Sunni heartland north of Baghdad, following the discovery of 14 corpses of 17 kidnapped Shi’ite labourers from Balad at a farm in the outskirts of the nearby Sunni town of Dhilu’iya. Eyewitnesses from the area reported that Sunni residences in Balad were attacked at Iftar time Friday and that about 30 people were killed in the attack, while 20 residences, and several vehicles and stores belonging to Sunnis were burned by the raiding militiamen. They added that Iraqi and American troops stationed nearby did not intervene to prevent the attack that went on for over an hour.

Full post, plus statistics and photos, at the link. UPDATE. AP reports: 'The sectarian killings Saturday and Sunday in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, were in apparent retaliation for the slayings of 17 Shiites, whose decapitated bodies were found in an orchard on the town's outskirts on Friday. Extra police flooded into the city and a curfew was imposed, Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said. Additional security measures were taken in other villages in the predominantly Sunni area, a hotbed of the insurgency battling U.S. and Iraqi forces. Nevertheless, the killings raged through the night, with bullet-ridden bodies being delivered to the Balad's main hospital into Sunday morning, according to a hospital director who asked that his name not be used for fear of reprisals. An army officer in the nearby city of Tikrit confirmed the death toll and said 63 suspects — both Sunnis and Shiites — were arrested.(Healing Iraq, AP)

France: Stand on Armenian genocide brings memorial vandalism. Gateway Pundit cites Reuters: 'PARIS (Reuters) - A bronze monument near Paris commemorating the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks has been destroyed just two days after France's parliament passed a bill that would make it a crime to deny the genocide. A local member of the Armenian church in Chaville, a town near Paris, said the heavy bronze sculpture was wrenched off its pedestal late Friday night or early Saturday morning.' Gateway Pundit adds: 'The Turkish press raged at the French for passing the bill on the Armenian genocide and are considering boycotts on French goods.' Will "Buy French" become the new rallying cry for neocons? Interesting times, indeed. (Gateway Pundit)

CTB on Adam Gadahn's treason charge. The old-fashioned-sounding word "treason" became a part of the US Government's active vocabulary recently. Counterterrorism Blog has some thoughts on Adam Gadahn: 'As reported extensively in the media over the past two days, including here in the CT Blog, Adam Gadahn was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury in southern California for treason and providing material support to al-Qaeda. Gadahn, a 28 year old native-born American citizen, has surfaced as an alleged video mouthpiece and recruiter for al-Qaeda, ranting vindictive threats against his own country and countrymen. Today, an in-depth article by law professor Henry Mark Holzer appeared in FrontPage magazine analyzing the background and validity of the treason charge against Gadahn and Professor Holzer determined the Government is on very solid ground with its indictment. Gadahn is an accused suspect and, as heinous as the accusations may be and no matter how strong the evidence in the case might seem, in America the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law. Hopefully, Gadahn will soon get his days in a US court. The charge of treason has been rarely brought in America. As noted in the various press reports, the last such cases were more than fifty years ago, stemming from WW-II. The circumstances of America’s current conflict against radical Islamic terror organizations and their state sponsors are presenting opportunities for Federal prosecutors to potentially pursue such violations. ...' (CTB)

A heretic's Ramadan. Amarji:
Year after year, TV series, especially Egyptian ones, become more and more infused with so much male chauvinist and traditional religious values that one has to seriously wonder if a systematic effort is not actually involved here. For while many complain with regard to the increasing explicitness of pop videos, in reality, pop videos can inspire more guilt in the soul of at a teenager who has been raised all his life on traditional values than they can inspire rebellion against said values. And now, we have TV series that increasingly consecrate traditional values, serving a purpose that is diametrically opposite to the one that was entrusted onto them by the secular Arab regimes in Egypt and Syria in particular, with many of the same actors and script writers, not to mention political leaders, still involved.

And while, this observation might hold more true with regard to Egyptian series than Syrian ones, which continue to betray some pronounced secular sympathies, the gap between the two artistic communities is rapidly closing, as is the gap between religious and nationalist currents in the country and the region. Being an Arab is becoming more and more synonymous with being a Muslim even in Christian Arab minds. As such, you either rebel against both, or you end up embracing both.

Amarji sees pan-Arabism as winning out among many Arabs, even Arab Christians. And there's more:
As to how this plays out in the artistic community, it is indeed quite interesting, and somewhat painful, to see how, in the hope of postponing the inevitable or softening the blow, or out of complete ignorance of what is actually at stake (which is more often the case, especially with regard to younger stars), Christian actors are choosing to praise the very values that will soon prove quite inimical to their basic rights as citizens. It is equally interesting and saddening to see how the same actors who have championed the more secular values at one point now seem to be advocating the more traditional and religious ones, perhaps by way of preparing themselves for the encounter with their maker.

Read the whole post at the link. (Amarji)

Commentary. Amarji's words sound chillingly familiar. In the West, we've witnessed artists, writers, entertainers, even feminists and gay activists throwing themselves at the feet of the implacable god of jihad.

Zeyad's post is horrifying and disturbing. I'd like to know more about what happened in Balad. If, as Zeyad's source claims, American and Iraqi troops stood by during the massacre, why? Were they unwilling or unable to stop the violence?