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Posted on on September 10th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

Egypt on alert after Israel embassy stormed in Cairo.

Continue reading the main story

There is a sharp increase in tension in what was already a very cold peace. Egypt is one of only two Arab countries to have a peace deal with Israel. Anti-Israel sentiment is certainly very deep-seated here, but this open expression is something quite new.

It’s grown much more vocal since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak. These protests were sparked when Egyptian border guards were killed last month [on the border with Israel]. There have been people outside the embassy for a number of days.

Bethany Bell spoke to one of them and she said, “We’ve been brought up to hate Israel but now we can express this openly. Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, no Egyptian blood will go unavenged.”

Six members of the embassy staff were trapped inside the building during the riot and had to be rescued by Egyptian commandos, an Israeli official told the BBC.
He thanked Egypt for freeing the Israeli staff and described the unrest as a “serious blow to the fabric of peace” between the two countries.
The incident was a “gross violation” of standard diplomacy, he said.

Egypt is on alert after the attack, in which three people died as security forces fought rioters in Cairo.

The clashes at the Israeli embassy, which went on through Friday night, have shocked people both in Egypt and abroad, the BBC’s Bethany Bell reports.

Reports on Egyptian State TV said Prime Minister Essam Sharaf had offered to step down but his resignation was refused by the country’s military leader, Field Marshal Tantawi.

Under Egypt’s former leader, Hosni Mubarak, such violent displays of anger against Israel would not have been tolerated, our correspondent says.

Now the army has to try to balance the demands of its angry people and its longstanding strategic commitments, she adds.




As an Enemy Retreats, Clans Carve Up Somalia


As the Shabab militant Islamist group has been pushed back, the central government has been too weak to fill the power vacuum.


Protest of Thousands in Cairo Turns Violent


A protester holds the Egyptian national flag as a fire burns outside the building housing the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.

Demonstrators tore down a protective wall around the Israeli Embassy, while others defaced the headquarters of the Egyptian Interior Ministry.


Qaddafi Strongholds Are Attacked


Libyan rebels attacked Bani Walid and Surt a day before their deadline for those cities’ surrender.


Syrian Protesters Call for International Protection From President Assad’s Crackdown


Activists say that Syrians are growing frustrated upon realizing that street demonstrations alone might not lead to the toppling of the government without the help of foreign powers.


Party Leaders Appeal to Yemen’s President to Help End Stalemate


A delegation of governing party officials traveled to Saudi Arabia to ask the absentee president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to try to break a paralyzing stalemate.


Obama and Abbas: From Speed Dial to Not Talking


President Obama’s relationship with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority has withered, creating more obstacles to Middle East peace.


Threat by Turkish Premier Raises Tensions With Israel


Israel was wrestling on Friday with growing tensions with Turkey after the Turkish prime minister threatened to use his navy to accompany aid flotillas to Gaza.


Netherlands: Lebanon Tribunal Will Weigh Trial in Absentia


Ten years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a special report on the decade’s costs and consequences, measured in thousands of lives, trillions of dollars and countless challenges to the human spirit.

Go to The Reckoning »


and from Europe as per EU Observer:

Post 9/11 Europe: ‘safer’ but less free – 09/09/2011
Ten years after the fall of New York’s twin towers and four months after
the death of Osama Bin Laden, Europe is said to be ‘safer’ – but in return
private data is scrutinised by a multitude of counter-terrorism programmes,
few of which have been properly assessed.



Posted on on May 6th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (


Uri Avnery

Tel Aviv, May 7, 2011


                                             “Rejoice Not…”


“REJOICE NOT when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth, / Lest the Lord see [it], and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.”.


This is one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible (Proverbs 24:17-18), and indeed in the Hebrew language. It is beautiful in other languages , too, though no translation comes close to the beauty of the original.


Of course, it is natural to be glad when one’s enemy is defeated, and the thirst for revenge is a human trait. But gloating – schadenfreude – is something different altogether. An ugly thing.


Ancient Hebrew legend has it that God got very angry when the Children of Israel rejoiced as their Egyptian pursuers drowned in the Red Sea. “My creatures are drowning in the sea,” God admonished them, “And you are singing?”


These thoughts crossed my mind when I saw the TV shots of jubilant crowds of young Americans shouting and dancing in the street. Natural, but unseemly. The contorted faces and the aggressive body language were no different from those of crowds in Sudan or Somalia. The ugly sides of human nature seem to be the same everywhere.



THE REJOICING may be premature. Most probably, al-Qaeda did not die with Osama bin-Laden. The effect may be entirely different.


In 1942 the British killed Abraham Stern, whom they called a terrorist. Stern, whose nom de guerre was Ya’ir, was hiding in a cupboard in an apartment in Tel Aviv. In his case too, it was the movements of his courier that gave him away. After making sure that he was the right man, the British police officer in command shot him dead.


That was not the end of his group – rather, a new beginning. It became the bane of British rule in Palestine. Known as the “Stern Gang” (its real name was “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel”), it carried out the most daring attacks on British installations and played a significant role in persuading the colonial power to leave the country.   


Hamas did not die when the Israeli air force killed Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the paralyzed founder, ideologue and symbol of Hamas. As a martyr he was far more effective than as a living leader. His martyrdom attracted many new fighters to the cause. Killing a person does not kill an idea. The Christians even took the cross as their symbol.



WHAT WAS the idea that turned Osama bin Laden into a world figure?


He preached the restoration of the Caliphate of the early Muslim centuries, which was not only a huge empire, but also a center of the sciences and the arts, poetry and literature, when Europe was still a barbaric, medieval continent. Every Arab child learns about these glories, and cannot but contrast them with the sorry Muslim present.


(In a way, these longings parallel the Zionist romantics’ dreams of a resurrected kingdom of David and Solomon.)


A new Caliphate in the 21st century is as unlikely as the wildest creation of the imagination. It would have been diametrically opposed to the Zeitgeist, were it not for its opponents – the Americans. They needed this dream – or nightmare – more than the Muslims themselves.


The American Empire always needs an antagonist to keep it together and to focus its energies. This has to be a worldwide enemy, a sinister advocate of an evil philosophy.


Such were the Nazis and Imperial Japan, but they did not last long. Fortunately, there was then the Communist Empire, which filled the role admirably.


There were Communists everywhere. All of them were plotting the downfall of freedom, democracy and the United States of America. They were even lurking inside the US, as
J. Edgar Hoover and  Senator Joe McCarthy so convincingly demonstrated.


For decades, the US flourished in the fight against the Red Menace; its forces spread all over the world, its spaceships reached the moon, its best minds engaged in a titanic battle of ideas, the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness.   


And then – suddenly – the whole thing collapsed. Soviet power vanished as if it had never existed. The American spy agencies, with their tremendous capabilities, were flabbergasted. Apparently, they had no idea how ramshackle the Soviet structure actually was. How could they see, blinded as they were by their own ideological preconceptions?


The disappearance of the Communist Threat left a gaping void in the American psyche, which cried out to be filled. Osama Bin Laden kindly offered his services.


It needed, of course, a world-shaking event to lend credibility to such a hare-brained utopia. The 9/11 outrage was just such an event. It produced many changes in the American way of life. And a new global enemy.


Overnight, medieval anti-Islamic prejudices are dusted-off for display. Islam the terrible, the murderous, the fanatical. Islam the anti-democratic, the anti-freedom, anti-all-our-values. . . Suicide bombers, 72 virgins, jihad.


The US springs to life again. Soldiers, spies and special forces fan out across the globe to fight terrorism. Bin Laden is everywhere. The War Against Terrorism is an apocalyptic struggle with Satan.


American freedoms have to be restricted, the US military machine grows by leaps and bounds. Power-hungry Intellectuals babble about the Clash of Civilizations and sell their souls for instant celebrity.


To produce the lurid paint for such a twisted picture of reality, religious Islamic groups are all thrown into the  same pot – the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Ayatollahs in Iran, Hizbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, Indonesian separatists, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere, whoever. All become al-Qaeda, despite the fact that each has a totally different agenda, focused on its own country, while bin Laden aims to abolish all Muslim states and create one Holy Islamic Empire. . . Details, details.


The Holy War against the Jihad finds warriors everywhere. Ambitious demagogues, for whom this promises an easy way to inflame the masses, spring up in many countries, from France to Finland, from Holland to Italy. The hysteria of Islamophobia displaces good old anti-Semitism, using almost the same language. Tyrannical regimes present themselves as bulwarks against al-Qaeda, as they had once presented themselves as bulwarks against Communism. And, of course, our own Binyamin Netanyahu milks the situation for all it is worth,  traveling from capital to capital peddling his wares of anti-Islamism.


Bin Laden had good reason to be proud, and probably was.



WHEN I saw his picture for the first time, I joked that he was not a real person, but an actor straight from Hollywood’s Central Casting. He looked too good to be true – exactly as he would appear in a Hollywood movie – a handsome man, with a long black beard, posing with a Kalashnikov. His appearances on TV were carefully staged.


Actually, he was a very incompetent  terrorist, a real amateur. No genuine terrorist would have lived in a conspicuous villa, which stood out in the landscape like a sore thumb. Stern was hiding in a small roof apartment in a squalid quarter of Tel Aviv. Menachem Begin lived with his wife and son in a very modest ground floor apartment, playing the role of a reclusive rabbi.


Bin Laden’s villa was bound to attract the attention of neighbors and other people. They would have been curious about this mysterious stranger in their midst. Actually, he should have been discovered long  ago. He was unarmed and did not put up a fight. The decision to kill him on the spot and dump his body into [or “in”] the sea was evidently taken long before.


So there is no grave, no holy tomb. But for millions of Muslims, and especially Arabs, he was and remains a source of pride, an Arab hero, the ”[]“lion of lions” as a preacher in Jerusalem called him. Almost no one dared to come out and say so openly, for fear of the Americans, but even those who thought his ideas impractical and his actions harmful respected him in their heart.


Does that mean that al-Qaeda has a future? I don’t think so. It belongs to the past – not because bin Laden has been killed, but because his central idea is obsolete.


The Arab Spring embodies a new set of ideals, a new enthusiasm, one that does not glorify and hanker after a distant past but looks boldly to the future. The young men and women of Tahrir Square, with their longing for freedom, have consigned bin Laden to history, months before his physical death. His philosophy has a future only if the Arab Awakening fails completely and leaves behind a profound sense of disappointment and despair.


In the Western world, few will mourn him, but God forbid that anyone should gloat.


Arabian Business website reports – Five days after the killing of Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda confirms bin Laden death, vows to continue attacks, and quotes them by saying:

“In a historic day the Islamic nation … the mujahid (holy warrior) Sheikh Abu Abdullah, Osama bin Mohammed bin Laden, God have mercy on him, was killed on the path taken by those before him and will be taken by those after him.”

“Congratulations to the Islamic umma (community) for the martyrdom of its son Osama.”


But also carried:

Arab revolts turn bin Laden death into bloody footnote.

Osama bin Laden, slain by US forces in Pakistan on Sunday, seems curiously irrelevant in an Arab world fired by popular revolt against oppressive leaders.

“Bin Laden is just a bad memory,” said Nadim Houry, of Human Rights Watch, in Beirut. “The region has moved way beyond that, with massive broad-based upheavals that are game-changers.”

The al Qaeda leader’s bloody attacks, especially those of September 11, 2001, once resonated among some Arabs who saw them as grim vengeance for perceived indignities heaped upon them by the United States, Israel and their own American-backed leaders.

Bin Laden had dreamed that his global Islamist jihad would inspire Muslims to overthrow pro-Western governments, notably in Saudi Arabia, the homeland which revoked his citizenship.

He espoused jihad largely in anger at what he viewed as the occupation of Muslim lands by foreign “infidel” forces — the Russians in Afghanistan, the Americans in Saudi Arabia in the 1990 Gulf crisis, or the Israelis in Palestine.

But al Qaeda’s indiscriminate violence never galvanised Arab masses, while his networks came under severe pressure from Arab governments helping Western counter-terrorism efforts.

“Bin Laden’s brand of defiance in the early days probably excited some imaginations, but the senseless acts of violence destroyed any appeal he had,” Houry said.

Nowhere was this change of heart more marked than in Iraq, where anger at Muslim casualties inflicted by al Qaeda suicide bombings – and the Shi’ite sectarian backlash they provoked –  eventually drove Sunni tribesmen to ally with the Americans.

Popular sympathy for al Qaeda also evaporated in Saudi Arabia after a series of indiscriminate attacks in 2003-06.

If the ideological appeal of bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy Ayman al-Zawahri, who advocated the restoration of an Islamic caliphate, was already fading, the pro-democracy uprisings across the Arab world have further diminished it.

“At some stage Arab public opinion looked on bin Laden as a hope to end this kind of discrimination, the West’s way of dealing with Muslim and Arab nations, but now these nations are saying, we will do the change ourselves, we don’t need anyone to speak on our behalf,” said Mahjoob Zweiri, of Qatar University.

He said bin Laden’s killing would affect only a few who still believe in his path of maximising pain on the West.

“The majority of Muslim and Arab nations have their own choice. They are moving towards modern civil societies,” Zweiri argued. “People believe in gradual change, civil change, they don’t want violence, even against the leaders who crushed them.”

Peaceful Arab protests have already toppled autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia and are threatening the leaders of Yemen and Syria, while a popular revolt against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi has turned into a civil war with Western military intervention.

These dramas appear to have shocked al Qaeda almost into silence. Even its most active branch, the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has mounted no big attacks during months of popular unrest against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Martin Indyk, a former US assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, described bin Laden’s death as “a body blow” to al Qaeda at a time when its ideology was already being undercut by the popular revolutions in the Arab world.

“Their narrative is that violence and terrorism is the way to redeem Arab dignity and rights. What the people in the streets across the Arab world are doing is redeeming their rights and their dignity through peaceful, non-violent protests – the exact opposite of what al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have been preaching,” said Indyk, now at the Brookings Institution.

“He hasn’t managed to overthrow any government, and they are overthrowing one after the other. I would say that the combination of the two puts al Qaeda in real crisis.”

Bin Laden may have become a marginal figure in the Arab world, but the discontent he tapped into still exists.

“The underlying reasons why people turn to these kinds of violent, criminal, terroristic movements are still there,” said Beirut-based commentator Rami Khouri, alluding to the “anger and humiliation of people who feel that Western countries, their own Arab leaders or Israel treat them with disdain”.

Nevertheless, he predicted a continued slide in al Qaeda’s fortunes, particularly as US troop withdrawals from Iraq and later from Afghanistan remove potent sources of resentment.

“The Arab spring is certainly a sign that the overwhelming majority of Arabs, as we have known all along, repudiated bin Laden,” Khouri said. “He and Zawahri tried desperately to get traction among the Arab masses, but it just never worked.

“People who followed him would be those who would form little secret cells and go off to Afghanistan, but the vast majority of people rejected his message.

“What Arabs want is what they are fighting for now, which is more human rights, dignity and democratic government.”




Posted on on March 23rd, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Qatif region of Eastern Saudi Arabia is only half an hour from the Bahrain small island State. Bahrain has a Shiia majority under a Sunni monarch. Qatif has a Shiia regional majority within the larger Sunni Wahabi Monarchy.

In Bahrain there is clear rebelion and the Saudi regime sent its military to help the Bahraini rulers. In Katif, young Shiia organize in nightly protests and we know of the first two casualties from their side.

Saudi official school books treat Shiia as deviants and as not true to Islam. Children are warned not to eat food from Shiia because they spit in the food or even poison it.

The Shiia get their news from Arab speakers on the Iranian radio. Being born in Qatif is a give-away for young Saudis who are Shiia, and thus targets for descrimination. They will never be accepted into the police or the military and can only dream of government positions.

Reports from the  week-end nights of  protests by young Qatif Shiia, dressed in black and hidden behind black face masks, show the rebelion of underdogs in a system that has not heard of democracy as a whole. Qatif is the main oil-region of the Saudis and what happens in Qatif will have global ramifications as the price of oil has global implications. king Abdullah of Saudi arabia wants to answer the rebeling youth by establishing a comittee to deal with their complaints – but today, with the Arab world in turmoil this will not do. The Shiia youth will not retreat by commission but want to see direct action which they understand as democratization.

Will the US and the UK allow any acts against the safety of those Bahrain and Sadi Arabia – which they equate to the safety of regimes that deliver the oil and help create a regional security base? Is this corner of the Gulf to be kept out of the string of turmoil?


Posted on on November 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

We’ve been conned. The deal to save the natural world never happened

The so-called summit in Japan won’t stop anyone trashing the planet. Only economic risks seem to make governments act.

by George Monbiot
, Monday 1 November 2010

    ‘Countries join forces to save life on Earth”, the front page of the Independent told us. “Historic”, “a landmark”, a “much-needed morale booster”, the other papers chorused. The declaration agreed last week at the summit in Japan to protect the world’s wild species and places was proclaimed by almost everyone a great success. There is one problem: none of the journalists who made these claims has seen it.

    I checked with as many of them as I could reach by phone: all they had read was a press release which, though three pages long, is almost content-free. The reporters can’t be blamed for this – it was approved on Friday but the declaration has still not been published. I’ve pursued people on three continents to try to obtain it, without success. Having secured the headlines it wanted, the entire senior staff of the convention on biological diversity has gone to ground, and my calls and emails remain unanswered. The British government, which lavishly praised the declaration, tells me it has no printed copies. I’ve never seen this situation before. Every other international agreement I’ve followed was published as soon as it was approved.

    The evidence suggests that we’ve been conned. The draft agreement, published a month ago, contained no binding obligations. Nothing I’ve heard from Japan suggests that this has changed. The draft saw the targets for 2020 that governments were asked to adopt as nothing more than “aspirations for achievement at the global level” and a “flexible framework”, within which countries can do as they wish. No government, if the draft has been approved, is obliged to change its policies.

    In 2002 the signatories to the convention agreed something similar, a splendid-sounding declaration that imposed no legal commitments. They announced they would “achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss”. Mission accomplished, the press proclaimed, and everyone went home to congratulate themselves. Earlier this year the UN admitted the 2002 agreement was fruitless: “The pressures on biodiversity remain constant or increase in intensity.”

    Even the cheery press release suggests all was not well. The meeting in Japan was supposed to be a summit, bringing together heads of government or state. ————-.  It mustered five: the release boasts of corralling the president of Gabon, the president of Guinea-Bissau, the prime minister of Yemen and Prince Albert of Monaco. (It fails to identify the fifth country – Liechtenstein? Pimlico?) A third of the countries represented couldn’t even be bothered to send a minister. This is how much they value the world’s living systems.

    It strikes me that governments are determined to protect not the marvels of our world but the world-eating system to which they are being sacrificed; not life, but the ephemeral junk with which it is being replaced. They fight viciously and at the highest level for the right to turn rainforests into pulp, or marine ecosystems into fishmeal. Then they send a middle-ranking civil servant to approve a meaningless and so far unwritten promise to protect the natural world.

    Japan was praised for its slick management of the meeting, but still insists on completing its mission to turn the last bluefin tuna into fancy fast food. Russia signed a new agreement in September to protect its tigers (the world’s largest remaining population), but an unrepealed law in effect renders poachers immune from prosecution, even when they’re caught with a gun and a dead tiger. The US, despite proclaiming a new commitment to multilateralism, refuses to ratify the convention on biological diversity.

    It suits governments to let us trash the planet. It’s not just that big business gains more than it loses from converting natural wealth into money. A continued expansion into the biosphere permits states to avoid addressing issues of distribution and social justice: the promise of perpetual growth dulls our anger about widening inequality. By trampling over nature we avoid treading on the toes of the powerful.

    A massive accounting exercise, whose results were presented at the meeting in Japan, has sought to change this calculation. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) attempts to price the ecosystems we are destroying. It shows that the economic benefit of protecting habitats and species often greatly outweighs the money to be made by trashing them. A study in Thailand, for instance, suggests that turning a hectare of mangrove forest into shrimp farms makes $1,220 a year but inflicts $12,400 of damage every year on local livelihoods, fisheries and coastal protection. The catchment protected by one nature reserve in New Zealand saves local people NZ$136m a year in water bills. Three quarters of the US haddock catch now comes from within 5km of a marine reserve off the New England coast: by protecting the ecosystem, the reserve has boosted the value of the fishery.

    I understand why this approach is felt to be necessary. I understand that if something can’t be measured, governments and businesses don’t value it. I accept TEEB’s reasoning that the rural poor, many of whom survive exclusively on what the ecosystem has to offer, are treated harshly by an economic system which doesn’t recognise its value. Even so, this exercise disturbs me.

    As soon as something is measurable it becomes negotiable. Subject the natural world to cost-benefit analysis and accountants and statisticians will decide which parts of it we can do without. All that now needs to be done to demonstrate that an ecosystem can be junked is to show that the money to be made from trashing it exceeds the money to be made from preserving it. That, in the weird world of environmental economics, isn’t hard: ask the right statistician and he’ll give you any number you want.

    This approach reduces the biosphere to a subsidiary of the economy. In reality it’s the other way round. The economy, like all other human affairs, hangs from the world’s living systems. You can see this diminution in the language TEEB reports use: they talk of “natural capital stock”, of “underperforming natural assets” and “ecosystem services”. Nature is turned into a business plan, and we are reduced to its customers. The market now owns the world.

    But I also recognise this: that if governments had met in Japan to try to save the banks, or the airline companies, they would have sent more senior representatives, their task would have seemed more urgent, and every dot and comma of their agreement would have been checked by hungry journalists.

    When they meet to consider the gradual collapse of the natural world they send their office cleaners and defer the hard choices for another 10 years, while the media doesn’t even notice they have failed to produce a written agreement. So, much as I’m revolted by the way in which nature is being squeezed into a column of figures in an accountant’s ledger, I am forced to agree that it may be necessary. What else will induce the blinkered, frightened people who hold power today to take the issue seriously?

    • A fully referenced version of this article is available on

    also –


Posted on on September 21st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Overcoming rural poverty depends on a healthy environment, where local people can find sustainable solutions to their challenges. The Equator Initiative was launched in 2002 by UNDP’s Jim McNeil in order to help the search for sustainability by safeguarding biodiversity resources.

Every two years, the Equator Initiative partnership awards prizes to the 25 outstanding community efforts each of which receives $5,000 with five selected for special recognition and an additional $15,000 each. The recipients come from three groups:


The announcement was “After an extensive process of evaluation, the Equator Initiative’s Technical Advisory Committee has selected an exceptional subset of 25 winning initiatives, from a total pool of nearly 300 nominations from 66 different countries.”


Asia & the Pacific:

Latin America & the Caribbean:

Obviously, we have no problem with the choices, nor with the fact that the large countries of Kenya, Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil, and Mexico got two prizes each, nor that the two Mega-States got next to nothing – China nothing and India one – but we do wonder how it is that the Independent Pacific Island States, and the Independent Caribbean Island States, coincidentally both groups, got absolutely nothing. Does this mean that the rebelious SIDS and AOSIS, as groups, are in UN disfavor? They happen to be in the Tropics and quite a few are biodiversity very rich!


The judges were:
Her Royal Highness Princess Basma Bint Talal of Jordan
Robert Edward “ted” Turner III, The father of it all and benefactor of The UN Foundation
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz of the Third World Tebtebba Foundation
M.S. Swaminathan, Chairman of the MSSRF Resarch Foundation
Steven J.McCormick, President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Dr. Gro Brubdtland, Former Prime Minister of Norway and mother of it all
Professor Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Laureate.
The two specially honored NGO individuals:
Philippe Cousteau, third generation to the famous family,
Julia Marton-Lefevre, Director General of IUCN.
The three specially honored communities:
Mavis Hatlane for Makuleke Community of Pafuri Camp, South Africa,
Maria Alejandra Velasco for Consejo Regional Tsimane’ Mosetene of Pilon Lajas, Bolivia,
Diep Thi My Hanh for Bambu Village of Phu An, Viet Nam.
To increase our “puzzlement” – here the announcement how the UN General Assembly intends to treat this year the Small Island States in their deliberations – this was the only time we found a notion for their special problems:
Saturday, 25 September:
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Round table 2 — Enhancing international support for small island developing States.


Posted on on September 12th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Nick Hodge  talks of resurgence of nuclear power.
Sunday, September 12th, 2010

Part of  the “Energy and Capital” Weekend Edition.

He writes – I can’t start this Weekend Edition without mentioning one of the hottest investment videos of the year…

It’s about a 75-cent company making big waves in the nuclear industry — importing Korean reactors, selling nuclear desalination units, and more.

As it happens, nuclear is actually a very relevant topic this week, illustrating the fierce dichotomy of the current energy market.


In South America, Argentina was once a pioneer in the nuclear industry, opening the first plant there in 1974. But the country’s ambitious plans stalled — as did most — after the Chernobyl disaster.

Now, with a new generation of reactors ready for deployment worldwide, Argentina is once again turning to nuclear…

The country just finished a long-stalled third plant and will build two more by 2025, when it aims to get 15% of its power from nuclear.

Argentina will also resume domestic uranium mining and start a program to enrich it, making it only one of five countries that has access to soup-to-nuts nuclear energy production. So keep an eye out for plays from that area.


Even in Germany — home to the world’s largest solar market and third-largest wind market — nuclear is making a comeback.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right coalition has agreed to extend the operating life of the country’s 17 nuclear plants by an average of 12 years.

It was good new for utilities, since they won’t have to spend capital to build new capacity. And the three largest in Germany — E.ON (XETRA: EOAN), RWE (XETRA: RWEA), and EnBW (XETRA: EBK) — were each up sharply on the news.

Opponents of the plan say it will take away from the country’s expansion of renewable energy…

But in a time of fiscal uncertainty, decisions boil down to cost. And right now, nuclear is still cheaper in Germany.

For a variety of analyst opinions on the matter, check out this report from Reuters.


Also in Europe, Lithuania has invited bids to build a nuclear plant to reduce its dependence on Russian energy imports. The contract is estimated at around $6 billion, and will be open to bidding from five shortlisted companies.


And the last nuclear news this week comes to us from Kuwait — a country I’ve already covered this week.  OPEC’s fifth-biggest producer, it’s announced plans to build four nuclear reactors by 2022.

This should be viewed as another step Middle Eastern countries are taking to protect their dwindling oil reserves.

Saudi Arabia has already announced nuclear plans, and the UAE bought 4 of the very same reactors discussed in this video from the Koreans for $20 billion.


Posted on on August 25th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The questions in the following are: How much of the action is because of an Al Qaeda hatred of the regime in Yemen or Saudi Arabia that translated into hatred of the West and international terrorism because of the West’s backing for those regimes, and how much is actually a genuine secession desire because of great ethnic differences between parts of Yemen?

Misconstruing the latter by assuming the first can lead only to prolonged trouble, while accepting the latter and helping bring about peaceful separation might be an instrument for peace. The question is thus – Why does the US get trapped in situations that it ends up in fighting “glue wars” – like it did in Iraq, and it might yet do in Pakistan?

Policing the coast of Yemen against ship pirates is another matter! That situation  should be handled with clear participation of partners under a UN flag. That is neither a Yemen problem nor a Somalia problem – but a clear global security breech.


24 August 2010 the BBC

Yemen ‘abandoning human rights’ in battle for security.

Soldiers in Harf Sufian district in the northern Yemeni province of Amran Yemen is accused of increasingly sacrificing human rights for security

Yemen has been accused by Amnesty International of abandoning human rights in the name of security.

The human rights group has documented what it says is a series of violations, including unlawful killings of those suspected of having links to al-Qaeda.

It also says the Yemeni government has ignored human rights as it tackles a breakaway movement in the south and Shia rebels in the north.

Authorities in Sanaa say they are doing all they can to protect civilians.

Yemen, the poorest Arab country, is struggling to deal with multiple threats.

As well as fighting al-Qaeda, the central government is trying to quell armed Shia rebels, known as the Huthis, in the north, and a southern separatist movement.

‘Sacrificing human rights’But according to an Amnesty report released on Tuesday, Yemen has carried out torture and arbitrary detentions.

The report says Yemen has also held unfair trials, using security concerns as a justification.

And it says there have been forced disappearances of people including journalists, dissenters and human rights campaigners.

The pressure group said: “The Yemeni authorities must stop sacrificing human rights in the name of security as they confront threats from al-Qaeda, Zaidi Shiite [Huthi] rebels in the north and address growing demands for secession in the south.”

In a statement, Malcolm Smart, Amnesty’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “All measures taken in the name of countering terrorism or other security challenges in Yemen must have at (their) heart the protection of human rights.”

Amnesty further alleges that a worrying trend has emerged, where security is cited as a pretext to deal with opposition and stifle criticism.

And the rights group says not enough effort is made by security forces to detain suspects before killing them.

It alleges that when missiles were used against a southern village last December, more than 40 people were killed – mostly women and children.

Yemen has recently come under added international pressure to act decisively. The United States and Saudi Arabia are providing the government with aid and support.

The authorities in Sanaa say they are doing what they can to protect innocent civilians, vital state institutions and foreign interests.

Yemen has become the new centre of gravity for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, following the January 2009 merger of al-Qaeda in Yemen and al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia.

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Posted on on August 22nd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The US is pulling out its combat forces from Iraq, but the Sunday TV main topic was THE MOSQUE.  As always – the best conversation was on Fareed Zakaria’s CNN/GPS program.

His guest were Bret Stephens from The Wall Street Journal and Peter Beinart – Senior Political Writer at the blog The Daily Beast, Associate Professor of Journalism and Political Science at the City University of New York, and a Schwartz Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation – till 2006 he was with The New Republic and still lives in Washington DC.

Stephens said that the legalities are clear but the issue is if this Mosque at that location advances interface dialogue and the answer is NO!

Beinart said you cannot divorce the right for building a Mosque from the right to decide where to build it. What about military bases? Will you next say that because there is sensitivity to Americans killed in wars in Muslim countries you cannot have a Mosque on a military base?

Stephens asked – wait – what if the German Government decides to build a tolerance center across the street from a concentration camp – this is much more like the present case.

Zakaria said – that is about irrational sensitivity – do you call this bigotry?

Stephens answered that the rights are indisputable and Bret said that you cannot ask people in the right not to use the right – this is equal to taking away the right.

Zakaria concluded that we talk past each other so the discussion is over. And that is the true state of these matters today.

We hope that Zakaria realizes now that his returning a prize to the ADL of the Bnei Brith was – well – premature.

Also, as he said that the discussion is really not ended – we suggest he invites next time also Anne Barnard whose article in today’s New York Times he did mention.

Anne Barnard is now on the city desk of the paper, but she is not a newcomer to these issues as sh worked in the Middle East – in Israel, Palestine, Iraq and Egypt. She has seen sensitivities from very close – not your regular city desk person. We know Anne for many years – actually since she was a kid – and have met her in different locations as well. We continue here with her material and hope she continues to keep her sights on the developments we expect when Imam Raouf returns from his Middle East tour.


Further comments about Beinart. His parents immigrated to the US from South Africa and work in Cambridge where he was born. His mother remarried theater personality Robert Brustein. Beinart is Jewish and belongs to a liberal synagogue in Washington.

Peter Beinart has written: “The Icarus Syndrome – A History of American Hubris,” HarperCollins, June 1, 2010, and
“The Good Fight: Why Liberals–and Only Liberals–Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again,” HarperCollins, May 2006,

Beinart was a supporter of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.[7] and in a recent essay, he has argued that the tensions between liberalism and Zionism in the U.S. may tear the two historically-linked concepts apart.[8]

After leaving The New Republic, in 2007-2009, Beinart was a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.


Further comments about Bret Stephens: He was born in 1973 and grew up in Mexico City. Stephens went to the University of Chicago and the London School of Economics.[2]

Stephens began his career at the Journal as an op-ed editor in New York and later worked as an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal Europe in Brussels. In 2006 he took over the “Global View” column from George Melloan, who has retired.

Between 2002 and 2004 Stephens was editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, a position he assumed at age 28 – the youngest person ever to hold that position. He is the winner of the 2008 Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism.
In 2005, Stephens was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, where he was previously a media fellow. He is also a frequent contributor to Commentary magazine.[3]


Fareed Zakaria promised that on his program this emotional discussion will be rational – what he did not say was that he is in effect pitting against each other two well qualified Jews. We do not believe that THE MOSQUE – that is that particular Mosque – is only an issue for Jews. We indeed believe that his next panel will pull in other “suffering souls” as well.


Feisal Abdul Rauf’s Balancing Act in Mosque Furor –

The full article by our friend Anne Barnard, as above, but as published front page The New York Times had the title:
Complicated Balancing Act for Imam in Mosque Furor – Complicated Balancing Act for Imam.…

It includes The Imam’s history and his father’s history – both of them highly interesting people. While the father was an employee of the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and eventually led to the construction of the New York Islamic Center cum Mosque at the corner of East 96th Street and 3rd Avenue in Manhattan, Feisal became the Imam of the Sufi congregation downtown. Then he attempted also the building of a large Center cum Mosque.

William Sauro/The New York Times

Mr. Abdul Rauf’s father, Muhammad, in 1968. He ran the Islamic Center of New York.


Far away from New York, in Bend Oregon (by Western Communications, Inc.) retained the New York Times in print – name of the article – but our friend’s article was reshaped  as follows:…

Complicated balancing act for imam in mosque furor.

By Anne Barnard / New York Times News Service

Published: August 22. 2010 4:00AM PST

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf inside his mosque, housed in a building near the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, in November. “We want to push back against the extremists,” the cleric says. Others worry about an anti-Muslim backlash. - Michael Appleton / New York Times News Service

Michael Appleton / New York Times News Service

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf inside his mosque, housed in a building near the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan, in November. “We want to push back against the extremists,” the cleric says. Others worry about an anti-Muslim backlash.

For years, Feisal Abdul Rauf has encountered distrust as he tries to reconcile Islam with the West. -

For years, Feisal Abdul Rauf has encountered distrust as he tries to reconcile Islam with the West.

Muslims need to understand and soothe Americans who fear them; they should be conciliatory, not judgmental, toward the West.

That was Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s message, but not everyone in the Cairo lecture hall last February was buying it. As he talked of reconciliation between America and Middle Eastern Muslims — his voice soft, almost New Agey — some questions were so hostile that he felt the need to declare that he was not an American agent.

But one young Egyptian asked: Wasn’t the United States financing the speaking tour that had brought the imam to Cairo because his message conveniently echoed U.S. interests?

“I’m not an agent from any government, even if some of you may not believe it,” the imam replied. “I’m not. I’m a peacemaker.”

That talk, recorded on video six months ago, was part of what now might be called Abdul Rauf’s prior life, before he became the center of an uproar over his proposal for a Muslim community center two blocks from the World Trade Center site. He watched his father, an Egyptian Muslim scholar, pioneer interfaith dialogue in 1960s New York; led a mystical Sufi mosque in Lower Manhattan; and, after the Sept. 11 attacks, became a spokesman for the notion that being American and Muslim is no contradiction — and that a truly American brand of Islam could modernize and moderate the faith worldwide.

In recent weeks, Abdul Rauf has barely been heard from as a national political debate explodes over his dream project, including somewhere in its planned 15 stories near ground zero, a mosque. Opponents have called his project an act of insensitivity, even a monument to terror.

In his absence — he is now on another Middle East speaking tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department — a host of allegations have been floated: that he supports terrorism; that his father, who worked at the behest of the Egyptian government, was a militant; that his publicly expressed views mask stealth extremism. Some charges, the available record suggests, are unsupported. Some are simplifications of his ideas. In any case, calling him a jihadist appears even less credible than calling him a U.S. agent.

Growing up in America

Abdul Rauf, 61, grew up in multiple worlds. He was raised in a conservative religious home but arrived in America as a teenager in the turbulent 1960s; his father came to New York and later Washington to run growing Islamic centers. His parents were taken hostage not once, but twice, by American Muslim splinter groups. He attended Columbia University, where, during the Six-Day War between Israel and Arab states like Egypt, he talked daily with a Jewish classmate, each seeking to understand the other’s perspective.

He consistently denounces violence. Some of his views on the interplay between terrorism and American foreign policy — or his search for commonalities between Islamic law and this country’s Constitution — have proved jarring to some American ears, but still place him as pro-American within the Muslim world. He devotes himself to befriending Christians and Jews — so much, some Muslim Americans say, that he has lost touch with their own concerns.

“To stereotype him as an extremist is just nuts,” said the Very Rev. James Morton, the longtime dean of the Church of St. John the Divine, in Manhattan, who has known the family for decades.

Since 9/11, Abdul Rauf, like almost any Muslim leader with a public profile, has had to navigate the fraught path between those suspicious of Muslims and eager to brand them violent or disloyal and a Muslim constituency that believes itself more than ever in need of forceful leaders.

One critique of the imam, said Omid Safi, a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, is that he has not been outspoken enough on issues “near and dear to many Muslims,” from Israel policy to treatment of Muslims after 9/11, “because of the need that he has had — whether taken upon himself or thrust upon him — to be the ‘American imam,’ to be the ‘New York imam,’ to be the ‘accommodationist imam.’ “

Akbar Ahmed, chairman of Islamic studies at American University, said Abdul Rauf’s holistic Sufi practices could make more-orthodox Muslims uncomfortable, and his focus on like-minded interfaith leaders made him underestimate the uproar over his plans.

“He hurtles in, to the dead-center eye of the storm simmering around Muslims in America, expecting it to be like at his mosque — we all love each other, we all think happy thoughts,” said Ahmed.

“Now he has set up, unwittingly, a symbol of this growing tension between America and Muslims: this mosque that Muslims see as a symbol of Islam under attack and the opponents as an insult to America,” he added. “So this mild-mannered guy is in the eye of a storm for which he’s not suited at all. He’s not a political leader of Muslims, yet he now somehow represents the Muslim community.”

Andrew Sinanoglou, who was married by Abdul Rauf last fall, said he was surprised the imam had become a contentious figure. His greatest knack, he said, was making disparate groups comfortable, as at the wedding bringing together Sinanoglou’s family, descended from Greek Christians thrown out of Asia Minor by Muslims, with his wife’s conservative Muslim father.

“He’s an excellent schmoozer,” Sinanoglou said of the imam.

Many different Islamic influences

Abdul Rauf was born in Kuwait. His father, Muhammad Abdul Rauf, was one of many graduates of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, the foremost center of mainstream Sunni Muslim learning, whom Egypt sent abroad to staff universities and mosques, a government-approved effort unlikely to have tolerated a militant. He moved his family to England, studying at Cambridge and the University of London; then to Malaysia, where he eventually became the first rector of the International Islamic University of Malaysia.

As a boy, Abdul Rauf absorbed his father’s talks with religious scholars from around the world, learning to respect theological debate, said his wife, Daisy Khan. He is also steeped in Malaysian culture, whose ethnic diversity has influenced an Islam different from that of his parents’ homeland.

In 1965, he came to New York. His father ran the Islamic Center of New York; the family lived over its small mosque in a brownstone on West 72nd Street, which served mainly Arabs and African-American converts. Like his son, the older imam announced plans for a community center for a growing Muslim population — the mosque eventually built on East 96th Street. It was paid for by Muslim countries and controlled by Muslim U.N. diplomats — at the time a fairly noncontroversial proposition. Like his son, he joined interfaith groups, invited by James of St. John the Divine.

Hostage crisis

Unlike his son, he was conservative in gender relations; he asked his wife to not drive. But in 1977, he was heading the Islamic Center in Washington when they were taken hostage by a Muslim faction; it was his wife who challenged the gunmen on their lack of knowledge of Islam.

“My husband didn’t open his mouth, but I really gave it to them,” she told The New York Times then.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rauf studied physics at Columbia.

In his 20s, Abdul Rauf dabbled in teaching and real estate, married an American-born woman and had three children. Studying Islam and searching for his place in it, he was asked to lead a Sufi mosque, Masjid al-Farah. It was one of few with a female prayer leader, where women and men sit together at some rituals and some women do not cover their hair. And it was 12 blocks from the World Trade Center.

Divorced, he met his second wife, Khan, when she came to the mosque looking for a gentler Islam than the politicized version she rejected after Iran’s revolution. Theirs is an equal partnership, whether Abdul Rauf is shopping and cooking a hearty soup, she said, or running organizations that promote an American-influenced Islam.

A similar idea comes up in the Cairo video. Abdul Rauf, with Khan, unveiled as usual, beside him, tells a questioner not to worry so much about one issue of the moment — Switzerland’s ban on minarets — saying Islam has always adapted to and been influenced by places it spreads to. “Why not have a mosque that looks Swiss?” he joked. “Make a mosque that looks like Swiss cheese. Make a mosque that looks like a Rolex.”

In the 1990s, the couple became fixtures of the interfaith scene, even taking a cruise to Spain and Morocco with prominent rabbis and pastors.

Abdul Rauf also founded the Shariah Index Project — an effort to formally rate which governments best follow Islamic law. Critics see in it support for Taliban-style Shariah or imposing Islamic law in America.

Shariah, though, like Jewish law, has a spectrum of interpretations. The ratings, Kahn said, measure how well states uphold Shariah’s core principles like rights to life, dignity and education, not Taliban strong points. The imam has written that some Western states unwittingly apply Shariah better than self-styled Islamic states that kill wantonly, stone women and deny education — to him, violations of Shariah.

After 9/11, Abdul Rauf was all over the airwaves denouncing terrorism, urging Muslims to confront its presence among them, and saying that killing civilians violated Islam. He wrote a book, “What’s Right With Islam Is What’s Right With America,” asserting the congruence of American democracy and Islam.

That ample public record — interviews, writings, sermons — is now being examined by opponents of the downtown center.

Those opponents repeat often that Abdul Rauf, in one radio interview, refused to describe the Palestinian group that pioneered suicide bombings against Israel, Hamas, as terrorist. In the lengthy interview, Abdul Rauf clumsily tries to say that people around the globe define terrorism differently and labeling any group would sap his ability to build bridges. He also says: “Targeting civilians is wrong. It is a sin in our religion,” and, “I am a supporter of the state of Israel.”

“If I were an imam today I would be saying, ‘What am I supposed to do?’” said John Esposito, a professor of Islamic studies at Georgetown University. “‘Can an imam be critical of any aspect of U.S. foreign policy? Can I weigh in on things that others could weigh in on?’ Or is someone going to say, ‘He’s got to be a radical!’”


Could it be that the solution leads to a true CORDOBA HOUSE OF CULTURE AND INTER-RELIGIOUS UNDERSTANDING with all Cordoba three religions having footholds at the center – not  a Mosque.

In this case what if Rabbi Marc Schneier who started together with the East 96 Street Islamic Center’s Imams his good-will exchanges gets a foothold and offices there? The Battery Park Holocaust Museum could be linked, and the Archbishop of the Trinity Church of the neighborhood as well – that is with offices in the building. This would call for a joint board and joint ownership in the name of good intentions. It would be considered a step towards healing within the possible of the memory of 9/11/o1 within reach of the 10th memorial of the event. Clearly – this does not answer the call for a larger Mosque, neither will this be a place with Synagogue and church – we know that the institutions must be separate.

If separation is preferred, then a gesture of exchange of real estate for a different location would be appreciated.


President Obama also went on TV today – breaking his vacation because of the media attacks on him branding him a Muslim.

Obama blamed this crazzy media culture when the main issue is the pulling out from Iraq but the focus is on “THE MOSQUE” – is this just an August diversion? By whom?

Michel Martin (an Emmy Award winning American journalist and correspondent for ABC News and National Public Radio. After ten years in print journalism, Martin has for the last 15 years become best known for her news broadcasting on national topics.), asks whom are we talking about as media? It is just the Conservative Pundits that keep on drumming? Or is there by now a symbiotic relationship between the right wing bloggers and the main-stream media? It does not make sense to pretend that there is not a concern with Islam. We heard on TV that Glen Beck said Lincoln Day has no meaning for him – so he calls for a rally at the mall on that day. Aha I said – if that is so – why do you expect more consideration from adherents of Islam – Americans or otherwise? Are Americans so dam by now that they cannot see that insensitivity breeds more insensitivity?


Posted on on June 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Hamas’ Turn to Demolish Palestinian Homes.
By Mel Frykberg

RAMALLAH, May 25, 2010 (IPS) – On Sunday approximately 150 Palestinians from 20 families were driven out of their homes in Rafah, in the southern Gaza strip, by heavily armed police and soldiers who menaced them with clubs.

The difference this time was that it was not the Israeli Defence Forces carrying out evictions and demolitions but Hamas security forces, including policewomen with their faces veiled.

Reporters trying to cover the event were barred by Hamas police.

Many of those expelled had already lost their homes and been forced into the streets when Israel carried out its brutal military assault over the coastal territory, which deliberately targeted Gaza’s infrastructure, during Operation Cast Lead at the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009.

Some of the homes destroyed on Sunday were temporary shacks built hastily after the Israeli assault. Other homes were concrete structures built prior to Israel’s crippling blockade, imposed on Gaza after Hamas took control in June 2007, which has prevented most reconstruction material from entering the territory.

The Hamas authorities argue that the homes were built on government land and without permission. Residents claimed they had been sold permits by a local landowner.

This is an explanation West Bankers regularly hear from the Israelis before Palestinian homes and buildings in the West Bank are destroyed, albeit the territory is illegally occupied by Israel whereas Hamas is a democratically elected government and the Gaza strip is Palestinian land.

Nevertheless, the harshness of the actions under the current conditions provoked anger from Gazans and condemnation from human rights organisations.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza expressed “its grave concern over these demolitions, which constitute a violation of civilians’ rights to adequate housing. These violations may affect an additional 180 houses in Rafah in the future.”

Meanwhile, attempts by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to provide some summer fun and entertainment for Gaza’s traumatised children suffered a setback when one of its recreational facilities was torched after 30 armed and masked men attacked the facility on Monday.

UNRWA released a statement saying, “The location is one of 35 beach facilities under construction, which will form part of UNRWA’s annual Summer Games programme for over 250,000 refugee children in Gaza, due to commence on Jun. 12.”

Before leaving the gunmen left a letter – containing threats against UNRWA officials and its director of operations in Gaza John Ging – and three bullets in the pocket of the security guard who was handcuffed and beaten with rifle butts.

Ging condemned the incident and said that “UNRWA will not be intimidated by such acts and will quickly rebuild the location in good time to host the Summer Games.”

Extremists in Gaza have expressed disapproval at the Western influence of UNRWA as well as some of its activities, including teaching girls swimming, fitness and dancing.

The Hamas authorities have been battling increasing incidents of Islamic extremism which have targeted beauty salons, coffee shops, Internet cafes, the YMCA and a Red Cross convoy.

Groups with links to al-Qaeda have also launched attacks against Hamas’ security forces. A shootout between Jund Ansar Allah and Hamas police last year in Rafah left more than 20 dead.

The Israeli daily ‘Haaretz’ reported on Monday that it is in possession of documents, sent by a group of Yemeni Shi’ite separatists who oppose al-Qaeda, which “point to regular, direct contact between the al-Qaeda organisation in that country and supporters in the Gaza Strip.”

“The Shi’ite rebels who passed the latest communication, and several previous ones, to Haaretz, are demanding Yemeni government’s recognition of their civil rights. They are keen to distinguish themselves from al-Qaeda,” said the daily.

The Israeli military has for some time warned of growing links between al-Qaeda elements and Gaza extremists. These links have involved the smuggling of weapon caches from Egypt’s Sinai peninsular into Gaza. Some of the caches have been uncovered by Egyptian security forces.

Although the Hamas authorities have cracked down on Islamic extremists, Gazans who tried to hold a protest march against the arson attack on the UNRWA facility were forcibly turned back by Hamas police.

This suppression of civil liberties came as the Hamas authorities simultaneously prevented a human rights workshop to discuss rights and freedom in the Palestinian territories from being held at a Gaza hotel on Monday.

The Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights lashed out at the decision.

Mustafa Ibrahim, a jurist on the commission, said the hotel management had received a phone call forbidding the workshop.

“The decision to bar the event is an unprecedented interference in the work of human rights organisations. NGOs are not required to obtain a permit or seek the government’s permission to hold workshops,” said Ibrahim.


Posted on on May 16th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Japan Times online, Sunday, May 16, 2010

Yemen’s pitiful options to poverty and anger


SEATTLE — When the Soviets concluded their pullout from Afghanistan in February 1989, the U.S. government abruptly lost interest in the country. A devastated economic infrastructure, entrenched poverty, deep-rooted factionalism and lack of international aid caused the country to descend into complete chaos. Internal violence also worsened. All that mattered to America was that the Cold War rival had been defeated.

Afghanistan remains the starkest illustration of how poor countries are used, then betrayed when their usefulness runs out. But Afghanistan is not an exception; U.S. relations with many other countries, including Pakistan, Somalia and the Palestinian Authority remain hostage to this very model.

Yemen is now emerging as the newest casualty. Its government is desperate to hold on to the reins of power amid corruption, extreme poverty and untold Western pressures.

Ali Abdullah Saleh, the country’s president of the past 31 years, has impressively negotiated his political survival through mounting challenges. The 1994 civil war left many thousands dead, but despite the north’s “victory,” the discontent of the south never waned.

Meanwhile, a Houthi revolt in the north is long running. Its latest manifestation lasted for six months and caused many deaths, most of which remained unreported. A mass migration of 270,000 (by the recent estimates of the U.N. World Food Program) coincided with or followed the fighting. This is now temporarily in check, thanks to a fragile ceasefire.

According to some analysts, the ceasefire in the north could allow the central government in San’a to tend to the challenge growing in the south. Victoria Clark, author of the recent book “Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes” says: “Southern disaffection has gone beyond the point of no return. Saleh’s biggest mistake would be to crack down on southerners as hard as he has tried to do on the Houthi rebels.”

However, under immense and increasing Western pressure, Saleh is likely to crack down. Western governments, led by the U.S. and Britain, run out of patience fairly quickly when the leaders of a poor, fragmented country opt for dialogue — even when such a choice might actually result in long-term political stability.

When Afghan President Hamid Karzai merely mentioned the possibility of engaging the Taliban, it generated much rebuke. A similar scenario happened in Pakistan. When Palestinian factions achieved the Mecca Agreement in February 2007 to mend their differences, the U.S. immediately conditioned its financial backing of Mahmoud Abbas and the agreement was successfully disintegrated.

In the same vein, any Yemeni attempt at reaching out to the disaffected forces within the country, including tribes, opposition parties and the various militant offshoots has been dismissed as an attempt to appease the terrorists.

Following a plot to blow up a U.S. airliner over the city of Detroit on Christmas Day, the U.S. renewed its interest in Yemen — in a predictable way. The administration of President Barack Obama issued an order in early April authorizing the assassination of a U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, a Muslim cleric linked to the plot. It seems like the Bush years all over again.

U.S. Special Operation Forces have been at work in Yemen for years, following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Yemen was then declared “an important partner in the global war on terrorism,” and it remains so, whenever there is a need to chase the elusive militant groups partly or wholly linked to al-Qaida.

The violent perusal of U.S. enemies in Yemen comes at a heavy cost. On one hand, it has undermined the central government, which is being increasingly challenged from the north, the south and the center. Naturally, no self-respecting government would allow its territories to be used either as breeding grounds for militants, or as a hunting ground for foreign forces. A raid involving U.S. cruise missiles at an alleged al-Qaida camp in Dec. 17, 2009, killed dozens, including 23 women and 17 children, according to Yemeni sources.

Indeed, Yemen is to a great extent a battlefield in which the central government is hardly the central player. However, the so-called war on terror has presented many self-seeking forces in Yemen with a golden opportunity to extract wealth. Much has been “invested” to beat al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, while little has been spent elsewhere, for example, in providing sustenance to the hundreds of thousands victimized by the violence.

When problems become insurmountable and there is no effective system of accountability in place, corruption becomes rampant. It is no wonder that Yemen ranks 154 of the 180 countries examined in the Transparency International Corruption Index. Corruption is often an outcome of poverty and lack of accountability, and it contributes to them. Yemen is unable to escape this vicious circle.

Since Yemen is not officially an occupied country, donor countries can easily disown their financial promises. Such promises are only made when Yemen is set for some military operation or another, or to prop up the central government’s own proxy war on terror. But when the Yemeni people are in genuine and dire need of help, Yemen becomes a distant subject. It begets pity, at best, but no action.

According to the World Food Program (WFP), 7.2 million people — about a third of the country’s population — are suffering from chronic hunger. Almost half of them require immediate food assistance, but fewer than half a million are receiving it. They have been directly affected by the policies of Western governments, and the central government’s own involvement in proxy wars on militants, tribes and other disaffected Yemenis.

How much money is the WFP asking for in its latest appeal? A meager $103 million, out of which only $27 million has been received. A Tomahawk cruise missile — celebrated as both cheap but effective — costs around $600,000. The cost of the operation that killed dozens of innocent Yemenis last December could have, in fact, fed millions in need.

This is not a matter of mathematics; it is common sense. The ongoing miscalculations in Yemen are securing the very environment that lead to poverty, corruption, anger — and ultimately militancy and violence.

According to Emilia Casella, spokeswoman for the WFP, “people have three other options after that — revolt, migrate or die.” Sadly, it is what millions of Yemenis are already doing.

Ramzy Baroud ( is an internationally syndicated columnist and the editor of His latest book is “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London).


Posted on on May 13th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

From the UN information of May 12, 2010 that does not mention that Turkey is now leading the OIC and as such is trying to replace the ineffective Arab League.

To us, we long argued that Turkey is much better positioned as leader of its neighboring Islamic World then in its futile attempt of chasing after acceptance to the unintegrated Europe, we see in the following material proof that Turkey may finally be finding its correct location on the globe.



On the eve of a major global conference on Somalia, the top United Nations envoy in the war-torn nation urged the world community to provide the needed resources on the military, political and humanitarian fronts now to prevent an even worse scenario from arising.

“If we do not make the right commitments and take the right action in Somalia now, the situation will, sooner or later, force us to act and at a much higher price,” Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah told the Security Council.

Speaking on the same day that the UN refugee agency called for stepped-up funding to help the hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the fighting in what he called a “horrendous” humanitarian situation, Mr. Ould-Abdallah praised next week’s conference in Istanbul as “an exceptional opportunity to show that Somalia has true friends ready to make a difference…

“This conference is first and foremost a show of political solidarity with the Somali people who have suffered so much and been taken hostage by various groups and individuals,” the envoy said, referring to the gathering to be convened by the Turkish Government and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on 22 May.

“It is also a sign of hope sent to Somalis that they are not alone. In addition to addressing security issues and global threats including piracy, the conference will also provide a platform for the Somali private sector, international business and Governments to launch new initiatives for reconstruction and job creation.”

Despite suggestions that it is either too early or too late for such a high level meeting, “we should all recognize that, after years of anarchy, there will never be a right time in Somalia. We have to act, and to act now,” he added of a country that has had no central government and has been torn by factional conflict for nearly two decades.

The top UN political official also stressed the importance of the Istanbul meeting today. “We would not at any time, of course, underestimate the difficulties and the fragility of Somalia but we do believe that progress has been and can be built upon,” Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs B. Lynn Pascoe told a news conference.

He cited the survival of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) against numerous attacks, its first steps towards developing its own police and security forces, and the interest it has aroused in the Somali business community and in bringing back investment to the country.

“This effort has to succeed but is clearly going to require determined, sustained efforts by both the Somalis and the international community to make it happen,” he said. “This is where the Istanbul conference fits in. It will give an opportunity to look at how far we’ve come and what still needs to be done. It should help us increase international awareness of what’s at stake in Somalia and increase international commitment to help in a coordinated way.

“It should also help focus the attention of the Somalis themselves, including the TFG, on where they need to step up their efforts.”

On the military front, Mr. Ould-Abdallah called for a big increase in and help for the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which now numbers less than 7,000 troops, as it carries out its task of protecting the TFG institutions and assisting the needy in the face of violent attacks from Islamic militants. At the same time, the international community should provide equipment and salaries for the TFG’s own nascent forces.

In the political field, he urged the TFG to show unity and a common purpose, calling on the international community to fulfil its commitments, especially by disbursing pledged resources. He noted that the TFG had succeeded in reaching out to other groups committed to peace, signing an accord with Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa, a key religious and resistance movement, which could provide a blueprint for future agreements.

“I would like to reiterate that the door of peace is open to all Somalis wishing to end the agony of their country,” stressed Mr. Ould-Abdallah, who serves as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS).

On the humanitarian front, where the situation “remains horrendous” despite the laudable work of the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other agencies, he called for full cooperation between Governments, development agencies, business associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), urging the agencies to again show a physical presence in the violence-shattered land.

“If we want to make a decisive difference, there is no alternative to moving the international community to Mogadishu to be closer to the victims,” he stressed. “The remote control from Nairobi (capital of neighbouring Kenya) is not leading to progress.”

Once this close collaboration is established, it can lead to a major move away from past practices of managing the status quo. “In that context, the Istanbul conference comes at the right time,” Mr. Ould-Abdallah declared. “It shows the Somalis and their leaders that there are personalities, countries and organizations that are genuinely ready and committed to working with them for peace and stability.”

In Geneva today, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) launched two supplementary appeals totalling $60 million for the nearly 2 million Somalis displaced both inside and outside their country, bringing its total budget for 2010 for Somalia and its four neighbouring countries – Kenya, Yemen, Ethiopia and Djibouti – to nearly $425 million.

“The displacement crisis is worsening with the deterioration of the situation inside Somalia and we need to prepare fast for new and possibly large-scale displacement,” Deputy High Commissioner Alexander Aleinikoff said. “We need to be ready.”


Posted on on April 21st, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Colombia Minister of Environment, Housing and Social Development Carlos Rufino Costa Posada – in short H.E. Carlos Costa is the fourth Latin America/Caribbean nominee out of the eleven nominees for the post of Executive-Secretary of  the UNFCCC – the position so called Climate Chief. With such eagerness on the part of Latin America it is quite clear why Brazil preferred not to put forward a delegate.


Adopt A Negotiator UNFCCC Perspectives: Grace Akumu, Kenya Delegate – see… {How to read Africa’s move trackback from post: Many of you might have heard of the African Group’s strategic move to block the Kyoto track of negotiations on Monday afternoon. Yesterday’s press conference and some interviews revealed, how this can be understood. Nov 5, 2009} is the Kenya recommendation.

That is the second African we know about besides the South African nominee who is a Cabinet Minister.

An outspoken Kenyan, Akumu’s work has focused on the disproportionate effects that global warming is having on African nations. Akumu is executive director for Climate Network Africa, where she has worked since 1992. In her role, Akumu has witnessed firsthand the way climate change has blindsided African states through floods, drought, and famine – affecting every aspect of life, industry and interstate relations.

The unintended consequences are many. Akumu says the snow on Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro is melting away. By 2015, there will be no snow on Mt Kenya. That’s not only an aesthetic and spiritual loss – it’s a threat to Kenya’s way of life.

Hydroelectric power, which is how 70 percent of Kenya’s electricity is generated, is threatened. As the snowmelt continues, the streams fed by Mt. Kenya – which power the plants – are drying up.

“Agricultural communities, who are 80 percent of Kenya’s population, have become seriously water stressed,” Akumu says. “Rivers are drying up and their survival is our top priority, considering that they also live on less than $1 per day.”

Through her work with Climate Network Africa, Akumu has coordinated efforts to raise and address these issues over the past two decades.

Years of work  earned a Webster University, Geneva, Switzerland, campus 1986 alumna, the Nobel Peace Prize. Grace Akumu, who earned her B.A. in international relations, she was, a member and lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 prize with former U.S. vice president Al Gore.

Climate Network Africa (CNA) is a Non-profit Non-governmental Organization registered in Kenya. Started in 1991, CNA seeks to improve the chances for environmentally sustainable and socially equitable development in Africa in light of the serious danger of climate change, desertification and biodiversity loss. Among CNA’s major activities are policy analysis, research, EIA, public education and awareness, advocacy, campaigns, CDM training, natural resources management, promotion of sustainable energy development and services with the objective of poverty alleviation. CNA also facilitates information exchange with the aim of strengthening Africa’s many voices at local, national and international fora. CNA targets policymakers, researchers, scientists and key NGOs working on environment and development issues. Membership to CNA is open to all NGOs and any institution which subscribes to its objectives. CNA information services are available to all groups and individuals interested in environment and development issues.

An NGO is a very unusual nominee, but then Ahim Steiner, now the very successful head of UNEP, was also a very unusual nominee at the time. Perhaps this might turn out to be a winning formula? This time it may turn out that Africa is the winner after all.


Despite what was said previously by others – not by us – Indonesia was believed to have a nominee – as per official words they have  not provided a name to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s office for a nominee to the UNFCCC position.

This, in addition to the previously posted seven nominees leaves us now with a total of 9 nominees.


Judging from the presence of Colombia on the list, and our recent posting on the Washington meeting of the  Major Economies Forum…

we are now taking the guess that Yemen might be one of the missing two, but then looking also at the list of the 11 members of the Bureau of the UNFCCC, we might be inclined to think that Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, or Korea might be the missing two. Saudi Arabia has moved  to institute nuclear energy and renewable energy activities, while South Korea is taking green business initiatives.

Yemen is the chair of the G-77 and could claim interest in all of the above. Iran has had people involved in Sustainable Development and with its involvement in nuclear issues might also believe to have a claim to this position. As said – our guess is wild.

The eleven Bureau-of-the-COP of UNFCCC members are from:
Australia, Bahamas, Denmark, South Korea, Mali, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Sudan and Russia.


Also, we learned that the travel itinerary of the UNFCCC COPs from Poznan (COP 14), Copemhagen (COP15),  Cancun (COP16), is now causing a fight on Asia’s turn of this circus – between Doha, Qatar and Seoul, Korea for the COP17 show.



Posted on on April 20th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

Small economies make Major Economies Forum list

By Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post blog Post Carbon, April 19, 2010.

The Major Economies Forum–the occasional meeting that tries to hash out international climate policy in an informal setting–invited some small economies to attend the session the U.S. hosted Sunday night and Monday.

{The 17 major economies participating in the MEF, launched on March 28, 2009, are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Denmark, in its capacity as the President of the December 2009 Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the United Nations have also been invited to participate in this dialogue –}

Colombia, Yemen and Grenada were there, along with the 17 usual attendees and a representative from the United Nations. This amounted to a peace offering, because the U.S. and other industrialized countries came under fire in Copenhagen for cutting deals without an adequate number of representatives from the developing world.

Each of the countries represented a certain constituency: Yemen is the head of the G-77, the group that represents developing nations within the U.N.; Grenada represents small island nations; and Colombia brings the concerns of Latin American countries to the table, though it’s far friendlier to the U.S. than critics such as Bolivia and Ecuador.

Denmark, which chaired last year’s U.N.-sponsored talks, also participated in the session.

Both Deputy National Security Adviser Michael Froman and U.S. special climate envoy Todd Stern said the meeting was helpful, but did not divulge many details on how much progress the delegates made. Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh and several others had to participate via videoconference because of flight problems stemming from last week’s volcanic eruption in Iceland.

“Today’s conversation was candid and constructive,” Froman said. “There were areas where there was convergence and areas where further work remains to be done.”

Stern said much of the talk focused on the “fast-start” funding rich countries have pledged to give poor ones between this year and 2012 to cope with climate change. The U.S. even handed out a fact sheet detailing its pledge.

“There is an appreciation, really by everybody in the room, that it is important to make good on that commitment,” Stern said of the short term funding.


Statement of the Chair of the Leaders’ Representatives of the
Major Economies Forumon Energy and Climate on
Global Partnership Technology Action Plans and Clean Energy Analysis

In July 2009 at L’Aquila, Italy, the Leaders of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF) announced a Global Partnership to drive transformational low-carbon, climate-friendly technologies. The Leaders welcomed efforts among interested countries to advance actions on a range of important clean technologies. It was noted that lead countries would develop action plans.

On behalf of the MEF Leaders’ representatives, we are pleased to announce the development of these Technology Action Plans (TAPs), along with an executive summary. The Global Partnership TAPs focus on: Advanced Vehicles; Bioenergy; Carbon Capture, Use, and Storage; Energy Efficiency – Buildings; Energy Efficiency – Industrial Sector; High-Efficiency, Low-Emissions Coal; Marine Energy; Smart Grids; Solar Energy; and Wind Energy.

Leaders also agreed in L’Aquila to dramatically increase and coordinate public sector investments in research, development, and demonstration of transformational clean energy technologies. To help inform this effort, the International Energy Agency developed a preliminary analysis titled, “Global Gaps in Clean Energy Research, Development, and Demonstration (RD&D).”

Following the agreement in L’Aquila and building on these Technology Action Plans and clean energy analysis, efforts can now move toward the consideration of activities to promote technology development, deployment, and transfer. The United States is planning to invite energy ministers and other relevant ministers from MEF countries, as well as other countries actively working to advance climate-friendly technologies under the Global Partnership, to meet and discuss how to promote progress in these areas.

The MEF Technology Action Plans and Executive Summary, and the clean energy analysis are available at:

Technology Action Plans:

Executive Summary

Advanced Vehicles


Carbon Capture, Use & Storage

Cross Cutting R&D

Energy Efficiency – Buildings Sector

Energy Efficiency – Industrial Sector

High-Efficiency, Low-Emissions (HELE) Coal Technologies

Marine Energy

Smart Grids

Solar Energy

Wind Energy

———————— is the Washington Post Planet Panel blog to which the  Post Carbon… is a staff blog run by Juliet Eilperin.

We recommend these as best informed sources of Washington DC information.


Posted on on March 28th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

This week, The Columbia University and The Earth Institute’s STATE OF THE PLANET 2010 Conference brought to New York, and to all these other locations of the meeting, a feel for ALJAZEERA or Al Jazeera English. This was good!

As we noted in the previous article – we think that the most innovative step at the STATE OF THE PLANET 2010 event was the fact that the Master of Ceremonies, and sometime moderator, was Rizwan “Riz” Khan from Al Jazeera English, an important media network headquartered in Qatar which is a Middle East fossil fuel exporting State. Though without any footing in the program itself, Middle East oil producers got nevertheless a stake in the discussion, and we never said that oil and oil money should not be part of the effort of finding replacement for the addiction to oil.

Taken from

Rizwan “Riz” Khan (born April 1962) is a Yemeni-born British television news reporter and interviewer, who first rose to prominence while working for the BBC and CNN. He currently hosts his own television show on Al Jazeera English.

Khan was born in Aden to a Punjabi father and Yemeni mother. His mother’s roots go back to Kutch in the Indian state of Gujarat, while father’s roots hail from Kashmir. Khan moved with his family to London, England, at the age of four. He attended Wood Green High School and joined the Air Training Corps, graduated with a Bachelor of Science with Honours in Medical Physiology from the University of Wales, and then completed a postgraduate course in Radio Journalism at the University of Portsmouth.

In 1987 he was selected for the BBC News Trainee scheme – a two year BBC training system, usually taking only 6 people per course. Khan progressed to jobs as a BBC Reporter, Producer, and Writer, working in both television and radio, and would later become one of the founding News Presenters on BBC World Service Television News. He hosted the news bulletin that launched BBC World Service Television News in 1991.

In 1993, he moved to CNN International, where he became a senior anchor for the network’s global news shows. Events he covered included the 1996 and 1999 elections in India; the 1997 historic election in Britain; and in April 1998 the unprecedented live coverage from the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj.
In 1996 he launched his interactive interview show CNN: Q&A with Riz Khan, and he has conducted interviews with guests including former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former US Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela, and genomic scientist J. Craig Venter. Khan also secured the world exclusive with Pakistan’s General Pervez Musharraf following his coup in October 1999. Khan also hosted Q&A-Asia with Riz Khan. These interactive shows put world newsmakers and celebrities up for viewer questions live by phone, e-mail, video-mail and fax, along with questions and comments taken from the real-time chatroom that opens half-an-hour before each show.

Khan currently hosts the Riz Khan Show on Al Jazeera English. On his show, Khan interviews analysts and policy makers and allows viewers to interact with them via phone, email, SMS messages or fax.

Khan speaks Urdu and Hindi, the national language of Pakistan and the official language of India respectively, and understands other South Asian languages such as Punjabi and Kutchi. He has studied French, and can understand some other European languages, including Swedish.

In 2005 he authored his first book, Al-Waleed: Businessman Billionaire Prince, published by Harper Collins.

When asked by CNN’s Frank Sesno “Is Hamas a terrorist organization?”, Khan replied “I’m not one to judge.” When then asked “Is Hezbollah a terrorist organization?”, he said, “Same thing, you know, I’m not going to judge.” Khan’s statements led to strong criticism from American conservative media analyst L. Brent Bozell III.  Many of the world’s major leading media organizations ask their staff to avoid the word ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorism,’ viewing it to be a barrier to understanding.

March 26, 2010, the day after the Columbia University meeting, out of Washington, the Riz Khan program  – “Riz Khan – War and peace in Quran and Bible” – dealt with – “We examine what role the Bible and the Quran played in inciting violence through the ages.”


Riz Khan was selected for the role he played in the March 26, 2010 because of his clear talent for doing this sort of thing – being a Master of Ceremony at a public meeting or TV program, and for the fast wit needed to ask prodding questions and tell humorous short stories.  But we kept in mind also an ulterior motive. That became clear to us as there was also a second event – Wednesday, March 24, 2010, the previous day in the afternoon, when Professor Peter J. Awn, Director of the Columbia University Middle East Institute, in co-sponsorship with The Columbia School of Journalism, had over Mr. Kahn’s boss – no other then the Director General of all ALJAZEERA Network, Mr. Waddah Khanfar, who after having been afraid to come to the US during the G.W. Bush Presidency years, is effectively investigating now, in the days of the Obama Presidency, the possibility of linking up with US TV networks. As we learned from him, besides reaching Al Jazeera English on the internet, it is already possible to see Al Jazeera News on TV in the Washington DC area.

He is investigating with New York area TV and many other US markets, the possibility of similar arrangements. We clearly believe in the right to a free press and as such we did not mind that the two presentable gentlemen appearances might have had ulterior motives. We say, as it happened, the stage for the Riza performance of Thursday was actually set at Columbia University already on Wednesday, as we do not believe in mere coincidences. But we also say that opening the US door to Al Jazeera English will benefit the US by allowing flow of information into the US that has a more Middle East flavor, while also allowing flow of information from the US to the Middle East as seen by someone with Middle East perspective. If Israel allows this already for several years without fear, so should the US allow it now.


Media Revolution in the Middle East.

Wednesday, March 24, 12:30-2pm

International Affairs Building, Room 1512

420 West 118th St.

A discussion with Al Jazeera Director General, Wadah Khanfar, who
transformed the single channel into a media network with multiple
properties including Al Jazeera English. Ranked as one of the most
“Powerful People in the World” by Forbes Magazine, Khanfar began
his career as a news correspondent in South Africa and later reported
on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. One of his first mandates as
managing director was to launch the Al Jazeera Code of Ethics and Code
of Conduct in July 2004 at the First Al Jazeera International Forum.

Co-sponsored with the Middle East Institute and Columbia’s School of


Ranked as one of the most “Powerful People in the World” by Forbes Magazine, named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (Davos), recognized as the 3rd (another source says 8th) most influential Arab in the world by Arabian Business, and one of the most influential Muslims in the world (Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre), Wadah Khanfar is the Director General of the Al Jazeera Network. During his tenure Al Jazeera went from a single channel to a media network with multiple properties including the Al Jazeera Arabic channel, Al Jazeera English, Al Jazeera Documentary , Al Jazeera Sport, Al Jazeera’s news websites, the Al Jazeera Media Training and Development Center, the Al Jazeera Center for Studies, Al Jazeera Mubasher (live), and Al Jazeera Mobile.

Khanfar started his career with Al Jazeera in 1997 covering some of the world’s key political zones. Khanfar’s first role in the organization was as an analyst correspondent in South Africa. In 2001/2002 he was a war correspondent in Afghanistan and during the war in Iraq, he reported from Kurdish-controlled territory in the North. Later, he was appointed as the Chief of the Baghad Bureau. Khanfar became Managing Director of the Al Jazeera Channel in 2003 and Director General of the Al Jazeera Network in 2006. One of his first mandates as managing director was to launch the Al Jazeera Code of Ethics and Al Jazeera’s Code of Conduct in July 2004 at the First Al Jazeera International Forum.

Khanfar has addressed leading political and media think tanks including the Middle East Institute, New America Foundation, Council on Foreign Relations, and George Washington University. He has appeared on the Charlie Rose Show, NPR’s Diane Rheem show, and presented at the Paley Center for Media. In 2009 Khanfar met with senior officials and advisors at the White House, State Department, and the Pentagon.

The day before the Columbia University meeting, March 23, 2010, Mr. Khanfar was the Keynote Speaker at the 2010 annual symposium of the Georgetown University, Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS), that is housed in the Rafic A.Hariri Building.  The topic was the basic “Information Evolution in the Arab World.”


“LectureHop: A Golden Nugget for Wadah Khanfar” – as per BWOG – the blog incarnation of The Blue and White, Columbia University’s monthly undergraduate magazine.
After nearly suffering a nose bleed from the 11 floor climb through IAB to hear Director General Wadah Khanfar speak on “Media Revolution in the Middle East,” Sarah Camiscoli was both star-struck by Wadah Khanfar’s presence and impressed by his thoughts on current US Policy in the Middle East, his opinions on reclaiming the responsibility and the ethnics of journalism, and his genuine humility as he spoke to what seemed like the closest thing one could get to groupies.

Peter Awn introduced Wadah Khanfar with much excitement as one of the most Powerful People in the World by Forbes Magazine, a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum (Davos), the third most influential Arab in the world by Arabian Business, and one of the most influential Muslims in the world.  To this, Khanfar ironically replied, “Thank you for pronouncing my name correctly.” Awn snickered. He was flattered.

While Khanfar was equally as pleased by Awn’s enthusiasm and the camera phones that subversively emerged from the crowd, Khanfar tried to change up the tone by starting with, “I do not have many answers to the issues of the media.  However, I will just share with you some thoughts and ideas.”

The first “thought” breached by Khanfar was his fear that news reporting is “drifting away from putting human being[s] at [the] center to putting centers of power and commercial at [the] center.”  To speak to “the voices that may not be able to express themselves,” Khanfar told a story from his experience covering the war in Kabul. The depth of this problem became even more haunting to Khanfar after paying the bill for tea he and several young Arab men shared over a casual conversation about their perspectives on the war.  When one of the young men realized that Khanfar had paid for the tea, he chased him down, scolded him for his insult of paying as the “guest” and had “tears in his eyes” as he begged him to allow him to take the bill—it was a tradition that he should not.  Khanfar emphasized how the tradition, culture, and marginal voices that are often seen as outside of politics must be reclaimed as another center for reporters and policymakers.

After speaking passionately against a US policy in Afghanistan that “plan[ned] a strategy in 10 days to replace… three and a half thousand years of government,” Khanfar spoke about how to handle centers of power while also acting as an agency that challenges the “tyranny of the state.” Quoting an interview with Edward Said, who advocated “speaking truth to power,” Khanfar revealed that “if you go to AlJazeera you will see that slogan on the wall—Al Jazeera speaks true to power.”  With this philosophy, Al Jazeera operates under the belief that there is “always a way where power and journalism can benefit, but… power can overtake.”

To illustrate how Al Jazeera “speaks true,” Khanfar explained how the agency is reconciling relations with the United States after suffering the arrest of several journalists for alleged ties to the Taliban, having one sent to Abu Ghraib and recovering after two headquarters were “bombed to the ground” by the US military. In order to pacify tensions with the US while still “empowering [their viewers] with comprehensive knowledge,” Al Jazeera has hosted interviews with leaders such as Joe Biden, and Khanfar visited the Whitehouse personally to get “some answers” as to who bombed the headquarters and who can take responsibility for such acts so they can “move towards the future.”  While relations may be somewhat amended with Al Jazeera, Khanfar was sure to note that “nothing has been achieved after that magnificent speech” that President Obama gave in Egypt in 2009 with regard to US policy.

As time came to a close, Khanfar made sure to squeeze in a few heavy one-liners to sum up his most poignant thoughts.  Warning that, “Words can kill,” Khanfar spoke about his discontent with the media he’s been exposed to during his stay in the US.  He stated, “I have seen a lot of acting.  It is not what I respect… News, the news… News should not be a commodity. This should be a news for people—not for particular party, religion, group, but for the human being.  Once we develop ways to create relationships with centers of power, we will get back on track.”

While Khanfar’s glorification of Al Jazeera can most definitely be challenged now that the celebrity has left the IAB  – The International Affairs building at Columbia University – the overall appreciation for his presence, thoughts and accomplishments was undeniable. For his ability to speak charismatically, candidly and humbly your correspondent gives the man a Golden Nugget.


Wadah Khanfar was born 1968 in the Palestinian (West Bank) city of Jinin. He studied Engineering between 1985 to 1990 at the University of Jordan and went on to post-graduate studies in Philosophy, African Studies, and International Politics. During this time, Khanfar started a Student Union with a group of students and colleagues and started an inter-university dialogue group amongst students constituted from a range of political backgrounds. In 1989/1990, he helped to organize forums, protests, festivals and demonstrations for student rights.

Khanfar has covered some of the world’s key political zones for the Al Jazeera Channel since 1997. Khanfar’s first role in the organisation was as a correspondent in South Africa. In 2001/2002 he was a war correspondent in Afghanistan and during the war in Iraq, he reported from Kurdish-controlled territory in the North. Later, he was appointed as the Chief of the Baghdad Bureau – the biggest operation for Al Jazeera outside Al Jazeera’s Qatar headquarters – and was the biggest media operation inside Iraq. Al Jazeera at that time became the first TV station to cover the developments inside Baghdad, inside Iraq, and became the main source of information about the early military attacks against the Americans. During this time, Khanfar wrote a letter to U.S. Administrator Paul Bremer asking the U.S. to stop what was described as an intimidation campaign against Al Jazeera’s journalists. Khanfar became Managing Director of the Al Jazeera Channel in 2003 and Director General of the Al Jazeera Network in 2006. As a managing director, he launched the Al Jazeera Code of Ethics and Al Jazeera’s Code of Conduct in July 2004 at the First Al Jazeera International Forum. The Code stated that professional standards and balanced and fair coverage should govern and guide the Channel’s newsroom rather than political or diplomatic interference. He is based now in Ad Doha, Qatar.

Khanfar initiated a concept called ‘Journalism of Depth’ which is the framework for Al Jazeera’s approach to journalism. The concept refers to the idea that to properly convey the meaning of facts and figures journalists need to contextualize events in the social, cultural, historical, and political context from which they emerge. Khanfar contrasts this to ‘headline culture’ which may convey the immediacy of an event but conveys very little understanding. The background to journalism of depth is that contemporary news media are in a crisis and are suffering from a range of critical problems including reductionism, media elitism, and dissociation from context resulting in news that is fragmentary and chaotic rather than being informative and explanatory.

While Khanfar was leading the Al Jazeera Baghdad Bureau – the US made demands on the Channel to change its coverage of Iraq. This led to tension for the Channel’s many journalists and crew resulting in Khanfar sending a letter to Paul Bremer asking the US to stop the intimidation campaign against Al Jazeera’s journalists. Al Jazeera journalists and crew were at that time detained for months at the Abu Ghraib prison where some of them were tortured. In an earlier incident in 2003 a US bombardment of the Channel’s offices led to the death of one its journalist’s Tareq Ayyoub.

During the war American and British accusations against Al Jazeera intensified and Donald Rumsfeld and President George W. Bush started to publicly criticize and blame Al Jazeera for America’s failure to restore order in Iraq. It later came to the attention of the Daily Mirror in the UK that a leaked memo documented a private discussion between George Bush and Tony Blair on bombing Al Jazeera headquarters, supposedly immediately before the attack on Fallujah in April, 2004. A Freedom of Information request was made by Al Jazeera for disclosure on the memo but no information was ever released. The public servants who leaked the memo were later sentenced by the British government.

First visit to the United States: In July 2009, Khanfar was invited to the United States by leading political and media think tanks including the Middle East Institute, New America Foundation, Council on Foreign Relations, and George Washington University. This was the first time that a Director General from Al Jazeera has visited the US. During the visit Khanfar also met with senior officials and advisors at the White House, United States Department of State and the Pentagon, and perhaps signals a change in the inner circles of the government to dialogue with Al Jazeera under the new administration of President Barack Obama. On the visit to the US, Khanfar appeared on the Charlie Rose Show, NPR’s Diane Rehm show, and presented at the Paley Center for Media.


We also received information from the Carnegie Council in new York City about a March 10, 2010 foray ALJAZEERA made to New York – that is outside the UN where Al Jazeera is present already for years.

Press Freedom in the Arab World.
By Khaled Dawoud, correspondent of Al Jazeera in New York covering the United Nations and any other significant events going on in the United States.…

March 10, 2010

DEVIN STEWART: I’m Devin Stewart from the Carnegie Council. Welcome to another excellent innovative program of the Carnegie New Leaders.

I’m going to turn it over to Robin van Puyenbroeck. Robin is one of our leading Carnegie New Leaders. He is on the newly formed steering committee. Robin really took the initiative, like some others have—and I encourage you to do the same—and put this all together for us today. So I’m going to turn it over to Robin.

Please think of this when you are thinking of programs to follow up, programs that you can put together like Robin has today. So, Robin, thanks so much and welcome.

ROBIN VAN PUYENBROECK: Thank you, Devin. Good evening, everybody. It’s my distinct pleasure to introduce Khaled Dawoud. Khaled is the correspondent of Al Jazeera in New York covering the United Nations and any other significant events going on in the United States.

He will talk for about 20 minutes, half an hour, about Al Jazeera— its history, what is it like to work at Al Jazeera as a journalist, who are the constituents of Al Jazeera, who is the audience, and how does the Arabic world views of Al Jazeera see the current events of today.

Interestingly, the topic “Freedom of the Press in the Arab World” I found very touching, because we all seem to know somehow the brand Al Jazeera, but we cannot watch it in the United States. It’s not on cable at least. It is available online— the English edition— but it is for various reasons not yet available on cable.

So I’ll pass on to Khaled, and then we will open it up for questions.

KHALED DAWOUD: Thank you very much, Robin, for this introduction. It is a great pleasure to see you again. Actually, I met Robin at one of these lectures before. I feel sorry that he may hear the same stuff all over again.

Anyway, as Robin explained, I came here to the United States eight years ago basically as a correspondent for an Egyptian newspaper, called Al-Ahram, which is the largest newspaper we have in Egypt, and it’s the oldest as well, and then four years later I came here to New York to work for Al Jazeera, the Arabic one, not the English one— the one that you cannot see here in the United States.

Mainly I cover the United Nations. Our office is inside the United Nations. So that basically makes us cover a lot of the UN—that’s in case the UN is doing a lot, but sometimes it’s not—and also New York itself, mainly related stories, like political stories; economic stories recently of course were a major important issue.

I’m always asked about Al Jazeera. There are lots of stereotypes about Al Jazeera, especially here in the United States—it’s different—and more in New York actually than even compared to Washington, D.C.

I always start these kinds of talks about Al Jazeera by stating definitely that I don’t know where bin Laden is, that I have no relation to him, and that I am just a reporter basically, and I now happen to be working for Al Jazeera. I take it as a job more than anything else. That’s really the claim of professionalim that we all make as reporters who work for Al Jazeera, that we don’t have that much of a political agenda, as some people, particularly in the United States, think to be the case.

I actually chose the issue of the freedom of the press and Al Jazeera’s contribution to it because that’s really how I see Al Jazeera personally as a reporter.

I have been working as a reporter for slightly over 20 years right now. I come from Egypt, as I stated, I witnessed the years of the introduction of Al Jazeera as a new channel in the Arab world, and why it was important and how it did affect our political reality—our media reality. A lot of things changed in the Arab world with the introduction of Al Jazeera, even more than what happened later, after 9/11 and what happened in Afghanistan.

Originally, as a reporter myself, the main reason why Al Jazeera was important is the context in which it came out from—I assume I don’t need to go through a lot of history.

In the Arab world—most of the Arab world—we were under occupation, whether French occupation or British occupation in Egypt’s case. In the 1950s and the 1960s of the past century, we started having these nationalist movements, gaining our independence.

It just happened that in many of the Arab countries, whether in Egypt or in Syria or in Iraq or in Algeria even later, it always happened that it was the army which led the process of change or the process of independence or whatever you want to call it. Of course, in the case of Egypt and in many other Arab countries, when the army takes over, it becomes an experience that was repeated and done similarly in several other Arab countries.

One of the first things that happened is that, for example, in the case of Egypt, a few years after the late President Nasser did his revolt, was that basically he nationalized the press. So all the newspapers, all the media, all the radio, all the television became basically government property.

It’s important to consider that because it affects, of course, the nature of the relation between the media in our countries and our audience, which are the people that we reach, when they know that we’re mainly government spokesmen or basically reproducing what the government wants us to say.

So that was the reality that existed in almost all Arab countries: that you had a very strong authoritarian government, which basically sees the press as a tool to tell the people what the government wants the people to know, rather than the case here. For example, in the United States, with all the limitations, or in Europe, the media or the press is a watchdog, someone to watch what the government is doing and report it and create issues and investigate matters. You know, all these concepts did not really exist in our case in Egypt and in the Arab world when the press started and when it was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s and at the later stage.

More important than even the press itself, such as print media, like newspapers and magazines, was television, of course. In all Arab countries the illiteracy rates are very high, ranging from 50 percent in some places to up to 80 percent in some other Arab countries. So with this illiteracy rate, television becomes the most important means of communication. If you want to control what the people see and watch and hear, you have to control television. So the television is government-owned, the radio is government-owned, the newspapers are government-owned.

It is not a means of communication in that case, or one way in which we inform people of the situation, how it is, or how the reality is. But we have a little bit, not dissimilar to the culture of the former Soviet Union and this kind of controlled media whereby the news has a certain order: we have to start with the news of the president, followed by the news of the prime minister, followed by the news of the other ministers. Usually, the picture is very rosy, “everything is fine, we have no problems, everybody is happy.” You know, that’s the kind of general atmosphere.

As I say, even for people who are experts on our part of the world, it even becomes a sign if you want to know how the government is doing. I mean is the president appearing on TV four or five times a week? If he is not, if he disappears for a couple of weeks, is he sick, is there something, is there a coup? So because there is really little information that is available, you become accustomed to a certain reading between the lines.

I remember very well growing up and reading the official newspapers that came out in Egypt. Sometimes you would see a very small news item made up of maybe 30-40 words, like you would never see anywhere else, about a certain government decision that was taken about someone you don’t know. But then it is in the newspaper, and then that becomes the beginning of the story—how did it happen, who died, where did it come from? But nothing is really said that is a real reflection of what our reality is, or what our problems are in the region, or what are our needs, which are no different from the needs of any other country.

People in my part of the world, of course, they want a government that is not corrupt, they want a government that respects their basic rights and freedoms—all these issues. But of course, these were taboo, things that were not to be spoken about.

And of course, it’s not only the government issues that I want to really make an issue about. It’s also even our own social problems. Because of the controlled nature of the media, even problems in every country—like, say, for example, in Egypt we have a Christian minority, and we know that there are problems beneath the beautiful surface; the president receives the patriarch and they shake hands and supposedly that’s the sign that everything is good. But then you know that there are problems, but you are not really talking about them in the official media because that goes against the general rosy picture that you are supposed to have in general.

Or like, say, in Jordan, for example, where there are ruling Jordanian people from the country itself and then there are Palestinians. There are always questions. Everybody talks about it in the streets—like what is the relation between the Palestinians and the Jordanians, what are the problems that are existing—but nobody really writes about them or speaks about them in the media because, again, that’s a taboo.

And you can mention many other things—the status of women, the issues of human rights. I mean all these topics were not issues that we were able to discuss openly until maybe the mid-1980s, early 1990s, when we started a little bit of opening here and there. Like in Egypt, for example, after many years of having government-controlled press, you start having the government—because the president felt like it, because former president Sadat wanted to have a good relation with the United States, so he said, “Okay, now I will have three opposition parties with three opposition newspapers.”

And then the experiment goes on. Besides the government papers, you have the three opposition papers. But then, when the opposition papers go so far, he closes them down in one night, arrests 1,000 people, and the experience is over. So that was the nature of the thing.

And being Al Jazeera, being TV—I think of even CNN as a kind of a new form of media, where you follow live news and going out—the classic form of news that we have had for many years only came out, again, I think, maybe in the early 1980s, or around that time.

So we have never had something like that in the Arab world. We have never had live news coverage, talk shows where people discuss their topics openly and debate them and all these kinds of things.

The BBC Arabic Service has had a very long history in the Arab world. Bearing in mind all I told you about the government-controlled media and attempts to limit what we listened to, I remember growing up that my main source for outside media information, even about my own country, was from the BBC. So everybody would have a radio at home, and you would really try hard with your shortwave, turning left and turning right, until you got a little bit, to know that there was a demonstration in Cairo, the same city that you are living in, or in Jordan, and that maybe ten of your friends were arrested or something. But you really don’t get to know it from your own local media, you get to know it from these sources of information.

The BBC had this long tradition of being one of the sources of information which a lot of people really trusted—I think maybe relatively until today. But they had a good name, and they did offer this kind of alternative source of information. But they decided to do TV. They said, after maybe 60 years or 55 years at that time of doing radio in Arabic, “We want to do TV in Arabic too.”

But of course, as you guys know, TV is an expensive business, really very expensive. It’s different from having a newspaper. The technology is very expensive. Maybe now it’s becoming a little bit cheaper, but originally it was a very expensive operation, with the logistics, the travel, many things.

So the BBC, as far as the story at that time went, had to have a partner, they had to have someone to pay for that project basically, and that came through the Saudi government. Maybe I didn’t mention Saudi, because I’m mentioning the Arab countries that are non-oil-rich nations, but the situation in even the oil countries as well is not any different from the rest of the Arab world. The media’s job is to cover the government, the government always has the high priority, and don’t talk about the bad issues that make the government look negative, or something like that.

So the Saudis decided to put some money with the BBC and to have BBC television in Arabic. At that time, all those who were working in the media had the basic question “Is this experiment going to succeed?” because we all knew the Saudi limitations and the BBC’s claim or desire to maintain a certain level of objectivity. The question was: What will happen when some negative news comes out about Saudi Arabia; how will the BBC cover this story? That was what everybody was waiting for.

You know what basically happened is that this day came. The BBC—because everybody was saying, “Oh, okay, you’re over-covering Saudi, you’re not covering Saudi”—and then they did a one-hour documentary, I think, about human rights in Saudi Arabia or something like that.

Unfortunately, the experiment was very short-lived and the BBC Arabic TV didn’t last more than a year, a year and a half, and they pulled out. Then, suddenly, you had 100, or over 100, very good journalists, very well trained, who were basically jobless.

At that time comes Qatar, Doha. There was a change in government there. The ruler of Qatar was Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, and then came the political changes there with his son; he took over the power from his father.

A lot of people asked the question about “Why Qatar?” [Al Jazeera’s headquarters are in Qatar.] I mean Qatar is such a small country in the Gulf region.

But, I guess, people are entitled to think of ways to make their name known, to put their fingerprint on regional politics and world politics. It seems that the Emir of Qatar at that time, the present ruler, he thought that one of the contributions that he can make and make his country known through is to have a channel like Al Jazeera in Qatar itself presenting this alternative media instead of the government-controlled television channels.

So he basically decided to take all the guys who worked for the BBC Arabic Service, this new television project, and told them: “Okay, guys, you all come to Doha and do the project that you were presumably supposed to do but do it from Qatar itself.” That’s basically how Al Jazeera started.

One of the first slogans or mottos, whatever you want to call them, of Al Jazeera was “the opinion and the counter-opinion”. That is one of the concepts that might seem like an ipso facto, like something easy for you to take—of course, each story has two sides —but it was not always the case for us in the Arab world, as I tried to explain, and that’s why it was an important motto, to have an opinion and to have a counter-opinion.

Al Jazeera came in with that perspective—on the one hand, that this is a channel that has reasonable funding, funding from a relatively oil-rich Gulf country; and at the same time, they have the experience and they have a message, which is that “we are not going to be like the official government-owned TV, whether in Egypt, in Syria, in Iraq, or in Saudi Arabia, or Kuwait, and we are going to try to present something different.”

Another thing that’s really a contribution for Al Jazeera, for us, besides having this live news coverage and keeping people informed about what’s happening in the world and setting the agenda of what people would expect to see in the news—I mean if there is something important for us, we don’t have to start with the government news if there is something more important than the government news. So that was the most important thing: try to know who your audience is and try to think, like they do in old news rooms, about what are going to be the most important issues that your readers or audience want to listen to today.

And then the talk shows; that was another important contribution that Al Jazeera made to the media scene in the Arab world. Again, I use Egypt always because that’s where I come from, but for the first time for us Egyptians—or Iraqis or Algerians or Jordanians—you would see a government official sitting with an opposition figure. First of all, we would not see opposition figures on our TVs—that was out of the question—for many, many, many years.

So you have like: Oh my God, this government guy sitting with the opposition guy, and the opposition guy telling the government guy openly, “You are torturing people in prison, you are oppressing this, you are not allowing us freedom of expression,” and bringing the taboos—the unspoken—to the surface. Now we are talking about them—the treatment of women; is it like oppressive societies—many things, many things, but in each and every Arab country.

And of course, the result was that most Arab governments basically were not very happy with Al Jazeera. But that’s where it started from.

It’s a very strange twist actually, because when Al Jazeera became a big name in the first early years, I think that the reaction in Washington and the United States was a very positive one. It was like “Oh, this is the new media that we want to encourage, Al Jazeera is really good,” if you go back to the years of 1997–1998, until 9/11 happened. So at that time it was seen as something positive.

Then another change again puts Al Jazeera in a very peculiar position. I don’t want to jump to the post-9/11 era. But, of course, right now we are seen as the channel that supports Palestinian radicalism, this is the channel that backs fundamentalists, blah, blah, blah, all that kind of stuff.

But then, in the Arab world, strangely enough, a lot of people see Al Jazeera as being the first channel that introduced Israeli speakers to Arab households. Again, with all the Arab TV stations, with all the Arab-Israeli conflict business that we were in for the past 60 years in our part of the world—but for us, the Arab audience, when I watched my Egypt TV, Iraq IV, Algeria TV, Saudi TV, I would never see an Israeli official. I would never hear from them about what they say, how they think, what their arguments are. Al Jazeera broke this taboo. This was a real taboo, to have an interview with an Israeli foreign minister, to have an interview with Sharon; they had an interview with Peres—many interviews with Peres actually because he has been around for so many years as well.

But this was again another thing that made a lot of people think, “Oh, you are an American tool because you are introducing Israelis to our households and you are making us get to know what the enemy wants to hear” and stuff like that.

So on one hand, you have here in the United States all this reputation about “you’re being pro-radical and pro all those kind of things,” and in the Arab world you would be very strange. I mean I would be very, very amazed coming from here in the States to Cairo streets.

I would go in a cab and the driver would tell me, “Oh, you work for a Zionist channel.”

I said, “What? I work for a Zionist channel?”

He would say, “Yes, because I see all the Israelis on your TV.”

“Okay, fine.”

But that kind of makes me mad, because here it’s like “you are supporters” and “where is Osama bin Laden?” and there it’s like “you’re a Zionist,” whatever. So it kind of makes you feel, “Okay, maybe I’m okay. Like everybody’s so mad, so maybe.…”

But that was how Al Jazeera first started and how it caused a lot of controversy back in the Arab world in the late 1980s. They started in 1996 exactly, so that’s 14 years ago. So it’s not too old, but a reasonable number of years to be around.

And then, of course, I switch to the 9/11 period, because, of course, that changed a lot of things about how Al Jazeera is seen and how Al Jazeera is perceived, especially here in the United States and in the West. That was a different story.

Because 9/11 occurred, this terrorist attack, it shook the lives of everybody all over the world. Still today, personally, as an Arab and a Muslim, I am bearing the consequences. This subject did not disappear, even though it’s eight or nine years later.

So 9/11 came, and came the so-called bin Laden tapes issue, which is again another very strange situation that we found ourselves in. After bin Laden did the 1998 bombing of the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, almost every single American channel did interviews with bin Laden. That was the hit of ABC, CBS, CNN—you name it. Everybody did bin Laden interviews. They would go for him, really. There was no question about this.

And then 9/11 occurred, and this man, this group, is claiming responsibility. You are a news channel, you are one of the most widely watched—in the Arab world at least, and actually became all over the world—because people know that you present a different kind of news and a different view about the Arab world that people don’t usually see, so you receive a tape from bin Laden and he’s claiming certain things after 9/11. So the question becomes: Are you going to air this tape or are you not going to air this tape?

My background originally was working for news agencies like Reuters and AP. That’s where I worked after I graduated from the American University in Cairo. I would always find myself in this situation. I was working in the office in Cairo in the period of 1995-1998, where there were almost daily terror attacks in Egypt, and you would receive statements from terrorist groups and all this kind of stuff. We used to report them. We used to report what these guys were saying and we used to report what the government was saying. That’s part of what we see, what I was told by my American professors, the two sides of the story.

The issue is: what would any other agency do about this issue—such a hot topic, such a big event—and you have this guy providing you with tapes and saying “This is what we did and this is what’s happening and this and this and this?”

But it just happened that way, because that became—at least, again, here now I’m speaking on the basis of my experience of living here in this country—it became this association, that “this is Al Jazeera that runs the bin Laden tapes.”

So when I first arrived here and moved to New York, I go to Crate and Barrel to buy some stuff, and I meet this nice young lady there, 19 years old. She does not know how to spell my name, Khalid Halid Khaled. So I give my card and it has Al Jazeera on it. She turns blue and she says, “You’re the bin Laden channel.” I said, “Oh my God, even here.”

This is maybe part of the topic: how is my job here, how is my work here in the United States, working for Al Jazeera?

So it’s an issue we can always debate really. I mean how are you going to handle this kind of thing? We debated. We debated within Al Jazeera, we debated among ourselves, as journalists, how you handle this kind of material, information, coming from groups that are charged and accused and involved in terrorist acts; how are you going to handle these kinds of things?

But I don’t really think—like in Arabic we say those who convey the heresy or the bad news are not necessarily the ones who made the bad news. I’m just reporting the bad news, so I shouldn’t be really blamed for that.

VOICE: Don’t shoot the messenger.

KHALED DAWOUD: Exactly, don’t shoot the messenger. Maybe that’s a better way to put it.

That’s really my point of view about it. But again, we have to be real in my opinion, you have to put things into context, as we say, which is that we were also dealing with an administration, the former Bush Administration, that basically also didn’t like controversy. It was one of the main criticisms that was directed against President Bush when I was reporting on the White House almost on a daily basis, that he only listened to people who agreed with him.

Even in the lead-up to the Iraq war, when this was a very important decision, who was the person he was meeting with all the time? Mr. Blair, 90 times. But is he meeting with any other world leaders who have a different point of view? Is he meeting with the French? Is he meeting with the Germans? So that was another thing with the previous administration, again, being a reporter at the White House myself, how difficult it was; any reporter who’s kind of guaranteed that he’s going to ask a positive question was given a question.

Even in former President Bush interviews, and again of course with Mr. Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense, and Mr. Cheney, coming out all the time, “Al Jazeera did this, Al Jazeera does that.” Of course, this doesn’t really help in creating a positive image about the place that you work for. And again, really not on the basis of real charges.

I don’t think that—again, when we report what’s happening—and this is really part of my job as a reporter, and I think I owe it to the people who watch and read our material. When the United States is launching a war against Afghanistan or launching a war against Iraq—I mean okay, fine, this is war. I see there are some reporters who are here attending with us, and they can tell you as well. I mean covering war is not an easy issue, sacrificing your own life. When you have a war, you have to be one way or the other definitely embedded. But you have to be embedded with both sides; you can’t be embedded with one side only. That’s the problem that was faced, whether the Afghanistan war or the Iraq war.

I mean it was seen in the aftermath of 9/11 as nationalist feelings, “let’s take revenge.” I think even here in the American press, after the Iraq war in particular, they did a lot of self-criticism about how we didn’t really do our job as reporters, because it was becoming non-national behavior or anti-American behavior to question anything at that time about President Bush’s policies— about his decision to go to war in Afghanistan or his decision to go, more important later, to war in Iraq.

That is, again, really my interpretation of why. Of course, during the Bush years it wasn’t easy for us, even Al Jazeera, here in America. In the Arab world, as I was explaining in the beginning, it’s more about lack of information, the blackout on behalf of the government, not letting you get to know anything. But here in America there is a lot of information, but there is also access. Access is very important.

So if you are on bad terms with the administration, the George Bush Administration, you don’t get access. You don’t get interviews with the White House people, you don’t get interviews with the State Department people, of course no interviews with Pentagon people under Mr. Rumsfeld. That was out of the question. So of course, that doesn’t help you do your job.

In the Afghanistan war, we were the only channel that was present on the ground in Afghanistan because the former Taliban regime only allowed Al Jazeera to be there at that time. You know what I mean? So when the war started, we were the only crew there, and it just happened that we showed at that time the effect of the war.

I was on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border at that time as a reporter myself. You could see the airplanes bombing and hitting here and hitting there and doing all this stuff. But then nobody’s really showing where these bombs are falling. Were they falling on civilian houses? Were they falling on military targets? Someone has to report this. That’s what I mean by “we owe it to the audience to give them a full picture.”

In war, like anything else, there are two sides in the war. Whether you think there is one right side and one wrong side, but it’s a war. At the end of the day—that’s the way I see it personally—it’s human beings who pay the price for the war, and we should not show it as something easy, that it’s like a cakewalk, that an occupier is going to be received as a liberator with flowers and stuff like that.

If you take part in this, if I take part in this, I’m not doing my job and I’m deceiving the people. My job is—you know, again, after all of these years of working in the business, we can all talk about objectivity. But if I achieve like 60–70 percent objectivity, I think I’ll be happy and I will feel satisfied relatively, because it’s impossible to be 100 percent objective.

That is why we are privileged these days, in this time and age that we are living in, that we have this diversity in all these media. So you have Al Jazeera, but you have others, you have CNN, you have CNBC, you have Fox.

So it is also your job, as people who are receiving news, to try to form a balanced picture out of all these little things here and there. But there has to be something or someone that reports the two sides of the story.

As much as Al Jazeera was accused of supporting a certain radical antiwar point of view, we were also the channel that gave a lot of space for the American officials during the peak of the Iraq war to speak on our channel all the time. But the problem is that that administration, it just reminded me sometimes of the governments back home, which is that they only want to listen to their point of view, and if you get someone else to have a different point of view, they consider this to be like crossing the lines.

So in the Afghanistan war when you show civilians getting killed, that’s like you’re a bad boy. And then in the Iraq war, when you’re not embedded and you also try to show how the war is affecting negatively, how the war is basically destroying the lives of the Iraqis there, you’re not on good terms of course.

I don’t know. But it just surprises me, let us put it this way, that at the end of the Afghanistan war the last act of the war was the bombing of the Al Jazeera office in Afghanistan.

And then came the Iraq war. In the Iraq war—and I know this from my bosses and people who worked at that time—they were very specific in going to the U.S. Army and saying, “This is our position, this is our location, we are airing from here, this is our satellite position, please don’t bomb us.” That was very clear.

And then the war ends. April 9th, the last day of war, the Al Jazeera headquarters get bombed in Baghdad and a colleague of mine gets killed, Tarek Ayoub. They say it’s a mistake. But again, that is all that I can say, because nobody has evidence about that. But it raises questions, let’s put it this way, to be objective, to try to be.

There is another thing that I’d like to note. It’s not out of the creativity of my imagination. This story that emerged about one of the aides of Mr. Tony Blair who leaked a memo, basically a transcript of one of the meetings between former President Bush and former Prime Minister Blair, in which the president openly—he was very mad at Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Iraq war, especially during the Fallujah days—he discussed openly bombing of Al Jazeera headquarters in Doha. This civil servant who leaked that memo is out of jail by now, but he got a jail term for about a year.

So that’s another side of the story that maybe a lot of people don’t really get to know about, that it’s not only words, there is action as well.

And then, of course, there is my colleague who has only been recently released. His name is Sami al-Haj. He’s a Sudanese guy. He’s a cameraman for Al Jazeera. He was there in Afghanistan. Basically, it was charged that he filmed one of the interviews with bin Laden. He spent more than six years in Guantanamo. He was released, like many others who were released, from that place.

So that’s the background. Unfortunately, as I said, on one hand, our governments were not happy at all with Al Jazeera. We got our offices closed in many countries. Let me try to think. Some Arab countries either closed us totally or open-and-close, or sometimes taking a reporter to prison for a while and then releasing him. So it’s a variety of different degrees of treatment.

And of course, some countries banned us from working immediately—Iraq, for example, we were banned from covering there immediately after the liberation of Iraq or the overthrowing of the regime. It’s a very difficult job.

It’s really a very difficult job, especially within the goals that you’re really trying to work. It’s impossible to make everybody happy, but it just happens. For many years we were not allowed to work in Saudi Arabia at all, and only recently they allowed us to go cover the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage. I think our office was being closed in Algeria for a while, on and off. In Tunis we are not allowed to operate. In Morocco we used to air for about an hour a day live from there, but then Al Jazeera heard a report about some demonstration that took place in Morocco, and the government wasn’t happy, so they closed the operation.

I’m just saying that we work in a very tough environment. We are trying to do our best. We are working in an environment in which we are still even trying to find our steps as you might say, because 13–14 years of a new tradition, of a new experiment, I think is not really that long.

As I said, even on issues like the bin Laden tapes, for example, we made a lot of reviews. We even thought about them. It’s like when some people in the previous U.S. administration said, “These might be some coded passages. Maybe he’s sending orders to federal terrorists to do certain things by putting words in a certain order.” Well, it makes sense. So then there is that kind of cooperation that occurred. Okay, fine, get the speech and listen to it and see if it’s coded or not coded, and then we pick out the parts that we are going to air.

After that, this entire tape business basically came to an end in my opinion, with the Internet posting thing, the bin Laden and company, and Zarqawi, and I don’t know what, and all these big names that we all know about. They don’t need us anymore, they don’t need the TV channels, because basically now you can record yourself with a webcam and post it on the Internet on some of these websites and everybody has it basically.

But, unfortunately, it really kind of annoys me sometimes that when people want to speak about bin Laden on any American channel they use the pictures of 2001–2002 with the Al Jazeera logo on it. So it’s like something that never goes away.

But it changes, even on the practical level it changes, and we are trying to change as well.

I don’t want to take a lot of your time, but Robin asked me quickly to speak—maybe we met a few months ago when the Obama Administration had just taken office, and also because I spoke a lot about the former Bush Administration and our experience with it, which was not a very positive one. But again, I assure you, it was not only us.

At the time I was covering the Obama election, I was in Virginia, which is of course a very Republican state, as those of you who follow the news know. Even as journalists, at that time a lot of questions would come: “Which one would you support? Would you support McCain or would you support Obama?”

Of course, being Al Jazeera, I had to do a very shy behavior of hiding my feelings and truth. Of course I said, “I don’t know. I have no opinion. What are your feelings?”

If you say, “I like Obama, I want Obama to win,” this becomes “Al Jazeera reporter supports Obama.” So Obama is gone because an Al Jazeera reporter did this or did that.

So I have to think about it in those terms. It’s like that day when the spokesman for Hamas said, “Well, maybe we think if Obama wins it will become a positive development.” Of course the next day there were all the ads, the anti-Obama things. So I could just envision myself in such a situation, and I decided to shut up.

But, of course, I’m just saying this because I assume it’s no surprise for you that the outside world at least—I’m not going to talk about America, because maybe, after living here for eight years—Americans can be self-critical of themselves, but when it comes from an outsider it’s a different story.

So let’s speak about the rest of the world. The rest of the world loves us, I think, whether in Europe or—and that’s another thing, that really I think you know me a lot as a person, as an Arab and Muslim, which is this business that during the Bush years about “the Arabs and the Muslims hate us, they hate our lifestyle, they hate us because they don’t like democracy”—all these kinds of big slogans that were basically making things worse in my opinion, not even helping at all in any way in making things better, even after this terrible terrorist attack that took place on 9/11.

But anyway, when Obama came there was this feeling of relief in a lot of parts of the world, because during the Bush years those who opposed the Iraq war were not only the Arabs and Muslims. This was one fact which the U.S. media always used to kind of ignore in this regard, that it was not only the Arabs and Muslims who were against the war, but I think people in Latin America were against the war, people in Europe were against the war, people in Asia were against the war. But of course it helped ideologically at that time to put it that way.

So there were a lot of positive feelings, a lot of hopes, that when President Obama comes things will change. There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic. This is an open-minded person, he has traveled, he is intellectual, he listens, he doesn’t depend on his guts, he doesn’t look someone in the eyes and see whether he likes him or not, and that becomes the basis of taking decisions. It’s like a totally different story.

Maybe now comes the problem, which is that he made a lot of promises, and now, maybe one year later—again, I was personally very reserved about expressing any opinions. Of course, people back in Egypt, back in Palestine, where a very bad situation exists on the ground, whether in Gaza or on the West Bank and Jerusalem, the occupied East Jerusalem—but nevertheless there was a lot of hope that when he comes, things could relatively change, so let’s give him time.

But people were impatient. Of course, already eight years of the former administration, a lot of war, a lot of people getting killed, threats of new wars all the time, very tough language—”smoke them out” and “you’re either with us or against us.”

I think everybody wanted to calm down relatively at the international level. And even here in America itself, I think people were starting to recognize that the picture is not as rosy as it was supposed to be. I’m not going to speak about no weapons of mass destruction, but also a lot of the rest that came with that.

So I was very reserved about expressing any opinions. But then a year has gone by and people maybe are entitled to start to raise questions.

Of course, President Obama, when he first came, one of the first things was he appointed Senator George Mitchell as his special envoy to the Middle East. That was a very good move. A lot of people have a lot of respect for Senator Mitchell worldwide because of his role in mediating the peace agreement in Ireland. He’s an honest guy. More important than the character of Senator Mitchell himself, how immediately this came, that it was one of the things that he did right away, which was a sign of concern, that he wants things to change.

But now a lot of time has passed and a lot of the promises that the President has made seem to be not coming true. Even worse, there seems to be a kind of a retreat from those original promises, which makes people a little bit worried.

But it’s my role as a reporter here, like throughout all media, to present to people back home how complicated the situation is here in the United States and how a lot of domestic challenges face the President and how he also made a lot of promises on the domestic level as well.

What I’m trying to say is that President Obama raised a lot of high expectations, and that’s my worry right now, that when you raise so many expectations—that you’re going to work on ending the Iraq war and you’re going to find a solution for Iran and you are going to finish the Afghanistan war and you are going to make peace between Arabs and Israelis. So a lot of topics on the agenda within a very difficult environment.

So we are still waiting and seeing, but I am seeing signs here and there of people saying, “When is this change really coming?”

Questions and Answers

QUESTION: Because you were mentioning at the beginning that we don’t really have access to the broadcast media that comes out of Al Jazeera here, this is literally just a question that I’d like you to comment on, not coming from anything that I have seen.

I saw a documentary a few years ago, called Control Room, that’s main point was that in Al Jazeera’s attempt to show the opinion and counter-opinion there’s a lot of sensationalism involved.

The reason I prefaced my question the way I did was because I don’t think the American media does things any better. But I was just wondering if you could comment on a little bit if you thought that Al Jazeera was more or less sensationalist, if that’s necessarily a bad thing, and just your general views on that.

KHALED DAWOUD: It’s in the eye of the beholder what’s sensational. That’s the issue. Al Jazeera has a lot of interest, for example, in covering the Palestinian-Israeli topic because the Palestinian-Israeli topic is very popular back home. I mean some people would say, “Oh, this is a lot of sensationalism. You show a lot of pictures of children that are getting killed or people who are dying.” But someone has to show this. You know what I mean?

But again, everybody makes mistakes sometimes. Maybe in certain incidents we went through the sensational line. People always like to satisfy their viewers. You always think about “What does my audience want to see?” Maybe we fall into these mistakes sometimes. But you always try to—

Personally, I don’t think we are like that, of course, I don’t think we’re sensational. I think we are, first of all, presenting a picture that nobody else wants to show, again like when you have a war going on in Somalia. We also try to take care of cases that nobody is talking about, places like in Sudan, like in Somalia, like in Yemen, even in other areas that nobody covers. We also want to show some problems that are happening in certain places that nobody speaks about, not even here in the American media. I think that the international audience deserves that.

I think even the American audience actually deserves much better than they are getting right now in terms of international news. I watch CNN local here or I watch Fox local or any of the locals. As an international journalist or someone, I feel like, “Oh my God, I can never get information out of this if I have to spend my entire day watching seven or eight days of continuous coverage of Michael Jackson, as if nothing else existed in the world, or Anna Nicole Smith, or the kid in the balloon, or all that stuff.”

Is this sensational? What is this? I don’t know. So I cover political news. I show tough stuff. I show some bad pictures that nobody else wants to see. But others I don’t think are doing a good job for their audience by setting a different agenda for reasons that are also very political in my view.

QUESTION: You said that you were a journalist at the White House during the previous administration.


QUESTIONER: Are you still there with this new administration; or, if not, what have you heard from your colleague about how has it changed? What’s the mood? Does the president feel more accessible, and in what way? So it’s more than one question.


QUESTIONER: No, I work for Bloomberg.

KHALED DAWOUD: He’s my neighbor at the UN, so we’re on good terms. Actually, I moved to New York four years ago. I stopped covering the White House four years ago. The situation now is much better. Even I can feel it here at the United Nations. I get interviews with the UN ambassador, Ambassador Susan Rice. She gives me interviews. Actually they approach us.

My bureau chief, who is in Washington—our main office is in Washington—got an interview maybe twice with Hillary Clinton. He got an interview with Defense Secretary Gates. So of course we are having better access.

We didn’t get the White House yet. We didn’t get Mr. Obama. He gave it to al-Arabiya, which is our main competition, when he first took office. Maybe soon, hopefully. It’s like a little bit too much maybe, like taking office and three days later giving an interview to Al Jazeera.

QUESTION: In Washington have you seen any noticeable impact on how other channels cover the Middle East or the region based on Al Jazeera’s approach—and maybe not just the big ones, like CNN and BBC, but maybe the influence that Al Jazeera may have in other less covered regions, like Latin America or South Asia?

KHALED DAWOUD: Yes. If you talk about Latin America and South Asia, that falls more into the Al Jazeera English influence, because Al Jazeera [inaudible] before speaking. Al Jazeera English does cover very well, I think, those parts of the world, Latin America and Asia.

But for us in the Arab world, if I can just mention the effect of Al Jazeera, when it first came out in 1996, maybe there were two or three satellite channels like Al Jazeera. Right now there are about 200–300 satellite channels and each country wants to have its own satellite channels. So it has basically opened the door to an entire new market of people trying to present various points of views.

I think this is also one of the main important, positive effects of Al Jazeera itself, in my opinion, in terms of its effect on other media. It means opening the debate and opening, as I said, different models for people to see and to judge and to have different sources of information and reach their own conclusions.

ROBIN VAN PUYENBROECK: Thank you, on behalf of Carnegie, for joining us tonight. Khaled is flying off home for Egypt tomorrow, so we just got him right in time. It shows again how important it is to understand how other people in the world see the world we live in. So thank you again.



The following is an interview given even before that by Mr. Wadah Khanfar and it says basically very similar things though obviously not emphasizing Egypt. It is an added witness to the ALJAZEERA effort in the US.…

———————— previous posting quoting Al Jazeera was:…

and in full:

Al Jazeera, The Washington Post, Chevron Oil, Remind us of Climate Change By Quoting From Cairo Osama Bin Laden Saying That The World Should Boycott American Goods And The US Dollar Because Of Liabilities On Global Warming. YOU BET – THIS IS INTENDED TO DISCREDIT FURTHER THE ISSUE! THANKS – WE DO NOT NEED FRIENDS LIKE BIN LADENS.

Posted on on January 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz ( PJ at

News Alert: Bin Laden blasts U.S. for climate change
06:49 AM EST Friday, January 29, 2010

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has called in a new audiotape for the world to boycott American goods and the U.S. dollar, blaming the United States and other industrialized countries for global warming. In the tape, aired in part on Al-Jazeera television Friday, bin Laden warns of the dangers of climate change and says that the way to stop it is to bring “the wheels of the American economy” to a halt

This information we picked up on a page of The Washington Post that includes a large advertisement from CHEVRON Oil Company:

“HUMAN ENERGY” “Every day Chevron invests $59 million in People. In ideas. In progress – Learn more”…

Bin Laden blasts US for climate change.

Includes also a photo from the FILE – “This is an undated photo of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden issued a new audio message claiming responsibility for the Christmas day bombing attempt in Detroit and vowed further attacks. (Anonymous – AP)

The Associated Press
Friday, January 29, 2010; 6:52 AM
CAIRO — Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has called in a new audiotape for the world to boycott American goods and the U.S. dollar, blaming the United States and other industrialized countries for global warming.

In the tape, aired in part on Al-Jazeera television Friday, bin Laden warns of the dangers of climate change and says that the way to stop it is to bring “the wheels of the American economy” to a halt.

He says the world should “stop consuming American products” and “refrain from using the dollar,” according to a transcript on
Al-Jazeera’s Web site.

The new message, whose authenticity could not immediately be confirmed, comes after a bin Laden tape released last week in which he endorsed a failed attempt to blow up an American airliner on Christmas Day.

UNFCCC should take notice of this when next time Saudi Arabia will claim to be paid US Dollars for the losses that it will incur when the world will finally decide to use less oil – their hidden treasure under the desert sand. Whatever we think of Bin Laden – we know that it is the US dollars paid for oil that fuelled both – the monarchy of The House of Saud and the Bin Laden family complaints that these dollars corrupted the purity of the faith as they see it. Now – that is why we post the piece also on our “cartoons” column – not really because of our disbelief in the Chevron statement or the actual content of what is attributed to Osama.

We are afraid that some narrow minded people might actually say that because Osama says that the US is to be blamed for Global Warming – it is obvious that Global Warming is a non-issue – and US CATO will thus bless on Bin Laden – so The Heartland Institute can put him up im its Gallery of Fame. Crazy – I told you so.


Posted on on February 3rd, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The EU refuses to see the multi headed Hydra it has become and expects President Obama to play along. Reality calls – EU please get serious at becoming some sort of one headed entity! The US President is a busy man now with all that US Jazz.

It slowly starts sinking in – we said it a long time ago!

Battling the ‘Multilateral Zombie’ – EU climate strategy after Copenhagen.

February 3, 2010,,…

EUOBSERVER / ANALYSIS – “The EU’s post-Copenhagen strategy should be
just to have a strategy, any strategy,” quips one Brussels think-tank
during an interview.

The rough hip-check Europe received in the Danish capital in December,
sidelining the bloc during the eleventh-hour huddle between major
powers that produced the Copenhagen Accord, has produced a wave of
despondency and cynicism amongst Brussels politicians, green
lobbyists, and analysts – and carbon traders across the continent to
boot. They’re all having a crack at how poorly the EU played its hand
during climate negotiations.

For the last three years, if it hasn’t been the institutional reform
of the Lisbon Treaty, it’s been the bloc’s obsession with climate
change that has dominated the EU agenda. Even if the EU is well off
the at least 40 percent cut in emissions that science demands if we
are to avoid catastrophic climate change, it remains the case that as
a result of its 2008 climate and energy package, Europe remains the
most advanced rich-country power on the planet in terms of its binding
CO2 reduction commitment.

With its climate boy-scout badge afixed to its sleeve, Brussels headed
off to Camp Copenhagen expecting at least to see its self-proclaimed
leadership reflected in winning something along the lines of a broad
commitment from other powers to at least a 20-percent cut in carbon
emissions below 1990 levels by 2020.

But in the end, the EU ended up the goody-two-shoes pupil who’s top of
the class, but yet, when he invites all the other kids over for a
party, glumly watches as they end up playing among each other instead
of with him. It was the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa that
cobbled together the last-minute three-page-long Copenhagen Accord
without the EU even in the room, while most of the developing world
complained throughout the two weeks that Brussels was at best just a
cat’s paw for Washington.

Denmark’s Connie Hedegaard, now incoming EU
climate commissioner, was repeatedly attacked for favouring rich
countries over the developing world.

“It was the strangest conference I have been at in my life, from all
points of view,” Mr Barroso told a pow-wow of the leading European
think-tanks in early January.

Typical of the initial EU reaction were comments from Swedish
environment minister Andres Carlgren, who, when meeting in Brussels in
late December with his EU counterparts to debrief after the UN summit
and begin the discussion of what to do next, slammed the result as a

“It was a really great failure and we have to learn from that,” he
said at the time. { but the gentleman forgot to say whose failure it was!}

Glass half full!

However, after the holidays, a clutch of pollyanna-ish EU officials
have since fervently urged everyone to consider the Accord’s silver
lining. Both President Barroso and the bloc’s chief climate
negotiator, Artur Runge-Metzger, in various venues have emphasised
that many of the things the EU had been pushing for were contained in
the final result – developed countries agreed for the first time a
concrete sum for climate finance, a target maximum average global
temperature increase of two degrees was embraced and a review,
allowing for a ratcheting up of targets if necessary, is foreseen for

Ms Hedegaard during the parliamentary hearing to confirm her
appointment as commissioner gave a robust defence of the document.

“I would very much have liked to have seen more progress in
Copenhagen, but finance was delivered; all the emerging developing
nations have accepted co-responsibility [for reducing emissions] and
Brazil, South Africa, China, India and the US, all of whom were not
part of the Kyoto Protocol, have now set targets for domestic action,”
she told MEPs mid-January.

But even as the EU begins to view the Copenhagen glass as half full,
elsewhere, support for the document is beginning to unravel.

Last week, realising that only around 20 countries had listed their
emissions reductions commitments in a schedule attached to the Accord,
UN climate chief Yvo de Boer quietly abandoned the 31 January deadline
for states to have done so.

At the same time, EU member states that have never been comfortable
with the bloc’s climate ambitions have used the opportunity to delay
or block European plans to boost its CO2 emissions reduction
commitment from 20 percent on 1990 levels to 30 percent. On 18
January, environment ministers met in Seville, to assess, for the
second time, the reasons for the failure in the Danish capital. UK,
France, Germany, Belgium and Spain continued to push for the increased
pledge, while Italy and Poland said now was not the time given the
poverty of ambition by other states at Copenhagen.

As of this week, the consensus in the bloc is to maintain its target
of 20 percent and conditional offer of 30 percent if other powers make
comparable efforts – in other words exactly the same position the EU
has held for the last year, although Ms Hedegaard has publicly said
she hopes to see a move to 30 percent “by Mexico,” meaning the next UN
climate summit in the Central American nation at the end of 2010.

At the same time, the commission itself is in the ‘twenty-percenter’
camp, pushing this position in Copenhagen, “afraid to be naked” with
nothing left to put on the table in the game of climate strip poker.
Moreover, crucially, the executive’s goal of a transatlantic emissions
trading system is unworkable with cuts pledges that are wildly
divergent and without legally binding commitments from Washington.

The US is looking to a 17 percent emissions reduction on 2005 levels,
which works out to be just three percent when using the same 1990
baseline year as the EU. Watch for the US, if legislation gets
through, at some point to somehow nudge up its cut to 20 percent and
the EU to stick to the same figure, dressed up in language about how
the two targets are now comparable, with a fudge over the differing
baseline years.

Support unravelling:

Separately, four of the five architects of the Accord, Brazil, South
Africa, India and China, have themselves gone lukewarm on the project,
smarting from accusations from much of the rest of the developing
world that these four richest of the poor countries had broken ranks
after a year of unprecedented global south unity.

Last weekend, meeting in New Delhi, the four so-called Basic countries
described the accord as merely a “political understanding” without any
legal basis and that action should instead proceed on the basis of the
two documents to come out of the official UN process – one outlining
the second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol and the other
dealing with climate actions by the US and emerging economies.

Indian environment minister Jairam Ramesh said: “We support the
Copenhagen Accord. But all of us were unanimously of the view that its
value lies not as a standalone document but as an input into the
two-track negotiation process under the UNFCCC.”

“The two-track negotiating process …is the only legitimate process
to reach a legally binding treaty in Mexico,” he added.

Meanwhile, the cornerstone of the Accord, an understanding that
however limited America’s commitment, Washington would at least be
able to deliver on this promise.

But with the surprise election to the US Senate of Massachusetts
Republican Scott Brown on an anti-climate-bill ticket, killing the
Democrat’s filibuster-proof majority, the country’s climate
legislation is threatened. A defeated or heavily watered down bill
only engenders further reservations in the minds of Chinese, Indian
and even European leadership about promising tough reduction targets.

For all the public talk of Latin American, Chinese and African climate
“villains” blocking the process in Copenhagen, privately, there is
frustration with Washington as well. A senior EU policy official
speaking to EUobserver described President Obama’s position as the
same as that of George Bush. “We are willing but only if others move,”
the official said, attributing the position to both the current and
former US leaders.

One EU climate voice {?}

A popular post-Copenhagen analysis from the Brookings Institute, the
centrist US think-tank, that has made the rounds of officialdom and
NGO-land warns of a slow-motion failure scenario similar to the Doha
round of WTO talks, a process it describes as a “multilateral zombie”
in which climate negotiations “stagger on piteously, never making much
progress while never quite dying either.”

Nevertheless, despite the dark days and the cynicism of some
onlookers, we can already begin to sense the outlines of a European

EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy has already said he hopes to
see a common climate strategy emerge from an 11 February extraordinary
EU summit originally scheduled to deal with the economy. Angela
Merkel, as well, has upgraded a climate meeting in Bonn in June from
expert to ministerial level and the European Commission is preparing a
series of proposals that it is to put to the member states.

One of the main lessons the European Commission has drawn from the
Copenhagen failure is that European representation in climate change
talks needs to be streamlined in order to project its position more
effectively, even if the commission is not awarded the task of
negotiating on behalf of the bloc, as it does in trade talks,

“We are fragmented from a negotiating point of view,” President
Barroso said in his first public appearance of the year. “In trade
matters, this is different. The European Commission is the voice.”

Ms Hedegaard is of the same mind. In her parliamentary hearing, her
top message concerned European disunity: “In the last hours, China,
India, Russia, Japan each spoke with one voice, while Europe spoke
with many different voices.”

“A lot of Europeans in the room is not a problem, but there is only an
advantage if we sing from same hymn sheet. We need to think about this
and reflect on this very seriously, or we will lose our leadership
role in the world,” she told MEPs.

In a similar vein, the commission president has also suggested that
the new EU External Action Service – the bloc’s diplomatic corps born
of the Lisbon Treaty – be given more leeway to engage in climate

Until now, this sort of bilateral pressure has been left up to the
member states, with Paris tasked with winning over Francophone Africa,
London with arm-twisting the Commonwealth and Berlin given the job of
seducing Pacific islands.

Before last autumn’s federal election in Germany,
then-foreign-minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was meeting regularly
with the Association of Small Island States and 20 Aosis ministers
visited the country last year specifically to discuss climate issues,
while Ethiopia’s surprise intervention at Copenhagen proposing a deal
that mirrored almost word for word a European Commission proposal from
September came as the result of UK and French behind-the-scenes

While this sort of member-state activity is likely to continue, the
Lisbon Treaty has given the commission a powerful new diplomatic
weapon it intends to use to the fullest.

Sidelining the UN:

Related to this, the major task will be to break the remarkable unity
shown by developing nations. The UNFCCC’s principle dating back to
Kyoto of “common but differentiated responsibility,” is understood by
developing nations to mean that those countries that caused the
problem should pay for solving it and make binding commitments to CO2

The third world has said that it would be happy to develop along a
low-carbon path itself, but that the rich north will have to pay for
this and that their emissions cuts should in any case be voluntary.
The World Bank, unhelpfully, has estimated the cost of all this to be
$400 billion a year. Meanwhile, wealthy nations, would rather that the
developing world, but specifically China and to a lesser extent India,
agree to binding, verifiable CO2 cuts without the price tag.

The key advantage of the Copenhagen Accord for rich countries is that
it “weakens or even does away with the principle of common but
differentiated responsibilities,” as the South Centre, a Geneva-based
think-tank close to developing world governments, warns – another
reason why the Basic countries, upon reflection, have taken a distance
from the deal.

In many ways, Copenhagen was a victory for the developing world, in
that it managed to hold off against pressure to junk the Kyoto
Protocol and in the end ensured that the Copenhagen Accord was only
“noted” by the UN plenary instead of endorsed, making it a document
floating in a legal limbo.

For this reason, the US has called for a junking of the UN process,
hoping that it can win other countries to its perspective via more
manageable arenas such as the G20 or the Major Emitters Forum, where
there are far fewer than the UN’s 192 nations to deal with and the
‘awkward squad’ of left-wing Latin American nations and the G77 group
of nations are absent. Both Jonathan Pershing, America’s chief
negotiator, and US climate envoy Todd Stern have said the UN should be

EU leaders however “are less neurotic about the UN than the Americans
are,” in the words of the Centre for European Policy Studies’ climate
specialist, Christian Egenhofer.

At the same time that President Barroso admitted to pulling his hair
out at the UN process, he also said there is no other option. “We need
to have a more efficient and results-oriented process in the future
…With unanimity, it is easier for one country to block – it’s the
basic logic of the system,” he said in early January, adding however:
“It’s very easy to criticise the UN …but the UN is what the members
make out of it.”

Although some Spanish presidency officials at one point said that
climate negotiations should pass through the G20 instead, everyone
else, from Mr Runge-Metzger to Ms Hedegaard believe this cannot be
done. “Some ask: ‘Shouldn’t we give up on the UN process?’ I say:
‘No.’ We would waste too much work,” she told the European Parliament.

Instead, according to Mr Runge-Metzger: “The next step for the EU is
to get the accord translated into the UN process,” to try to lock in
agreement in other fora and then feed this into the main UN
negotiations. The key is to appear to be endorsing the UN process
while still pushing for other fora to do the heavy lifting.

One arena in particular that climate watchers should keep an eye on is
the UN High-Level Panel on Climate Change and Development, announced
by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon last September and to be launched
early this year. Made up of a handful of current heads of government,
along with experts, senior government officials and community leaders,
the panel will be a much more manageable entity, but will also have
the imprimatur of the UN.

Border tariff:

Meanwhile, EU officials are briefing heavily against the awkward
squad, attempting to paint them as obstructionist and
unrepresentative. Reporters are reminded of G77-chair Sudan’s
authoritarian government, while Ethiopia, which has authoritarian rule
but is on side, is never criticized. With Yemen, the birthplace of the
infamous underpants bomber, holding the 2010 presidency of the group,
this will be an even easier public relations hatchet job.

But it was not just a handful of countries, but the entire Africa
Group of Nations that forced a suspension of proceedings when they
twice walked out of the UN complaining of rich country shenanigans.
Latin America and the loudmouthed-or-eloquent (depending on who you
asked) Oxford-educated G77 negotiator Lumumba di-Aping, famous for his
line that an offer of $10 billion in climate finance “is not enough to
buy us coffins,” were only the most vocal of a host of frustrated

At the same time, even ardent developing world advocates privately
express their discomfort at the wealthy elites of China and India
using the poor of their own countries to advance an agenda of growth
that primarily benefits them. And it is true that the developing world
is not all of one mind. Tuvalu is bitterly opposed to the Copenhagen
Accord while the Maldives embraces it as the best it can get while the
tides are rapidly rising.

Elsewhere, the EU is also almost certain to take a fresh look at
slapping carbon tariffs on goods entering the bloc. There is no way
industry would allow a move to a 30 percent emissions reduction pledge
without such protection. “I will fight for a carbon tax levied on EU
borders,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy said earlier this month.

It’s always easy to dismiss such ambition when expressed by a man
known for his crafting of public policy by press conference, and EU
commissioner-designate for trade, Karel de Gucht has ruled a carbon
border tariff out, saying: “it will …lead to an escalating trade war
on a global level.”

But this is what a trade commissioner has to say. Many analysts
believe that a carbon tariff is inevitable and even WTO-compatible if
multilaterally agreed. The US climate bill already includes a carbon
tariff provision and, crucially, this is the stick that could be used
to force China, India and other nations to submit to its preferred
climate regime of binding reduction commitments for emerging

The EU is still essential here. Washington could not move ahead with a
tariff without Brussels on board.

It should also be remembered that many other major powers were
sidelined at Copenhagen. Japan and Russia were also absent from
Copenhagen’s endgame. In many ways, the EU’s limited influence has
been largely a product of its own climate success. Although Europe is
the world’s third largest emitter, this will likely change in the near
future. Ironically, if the continent isn’t going to be as much of a
problem in absolute (as opposed to per capita) terms as China or India
by 2030, it doesn’t have much of a bargaining chip. Washington was
always going to be far more interested in Beijing.

Copenhagen was very much the US and China show, but it won’t always be.


This feature was originially written for the Nordic Council’s Analys
Norden website.

{ We wonder at the last sentence of the article because we think that unless the EU does in fact unite under  one leadership it will not amount to much when the US continues to deal with the BASICs – I mean the countries that are form the basic future. The EU should aim at becoming the G3 to be added to China and the US in future global negotiations that will include also the IBSA and one or two more states. See please next article.}


US blames Lisbon Treaty for EU summit fiasco. Mr Obama – the Madrid summit decision is being seen as a diplomatic snub to Spain.
by ANDREW RETTMAN from Brussels.

February 3, 2010,
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS  writes –  The US State Department has said that President Barack Obama’s decision not to come to an EU summit in Madrid in May is partly due to confusion arising from the Lisbon Treaty.

State department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told press in Washington on Tuesday (2 February) that the treaty has made it unclear who the US leader should meet and when. { that sounds very clear to me.}

“Up until recently, they [summits] would occur on six-month intervals,
as I recall, with one meeting in Europe and one meeting here. And that
was part of – the foundation of that was the rotating presidency
within the EU. Now you have a new structure regarding not only the
rotating EU presidency, you’ve got an EU Council president, you’ve got
a European Commission president,” he said.

“We are working through this just as Europeans themselves are working
through this: When you have a future EU-US summit meeting, who will
host it and where will it be held?” he added. “All of this is kind of
being reassessed in light of architectural changes in Europe.”

The Lisbon Treaty came into force on 1 December, 2009. It created the post
of a new EU Council president and EU foreign relations chief in order
to give the union a stronger voice abroad.

It kept the institution of the six-month rotating EU presidency as
well, with the member state holding the chairmanship to do the bulk of
behind-the-scenes policy work in Brussels.

The Spanish EU presidency is being closely watched to see how the EU
manages the transition to the new power structure. The EU Council
president has so far taken charge of summits in the EU capital. But
Madrid was to share the limelight with a few top-level events at home.

The state department’s Mr Crowley said the US and Spain have been in
touch “directly” to discuss Mr Obama’s decision after Madrid learned
about it through the media on Monday.

“Obviously, there’s been some disappointment expressed by the
government of Spain, and we understand that and we’ll be working with
them on that,” he said.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero and Mr Obama are both
expected to attend the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on
Thursday. But no bilateral meeting has been announced so far.

The informal event sees some 3,500 celebrities, businessmen,
politicians and religious leaders get together in the US capital each
year. It is organised by the Fellowship Foundation, a Christian
fundamentalist pressure group.

Mr Zapatero, a centre-left secularist, has taken flak for his trip in
Spanish media, with the El Pais daily calling his decision to attend
the prayer event “shocking.”


Posted on on January 29th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

News Alert: Bin Laden blasts U.S. for climate change
06:49 AM EST Friday, January 29, 2010

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has called in a new audiotape for the world to boycott American goods and the U.S. dollar, blaming the United States and other industrialized countries for global warming. In the tape, aired in part on Al-Jazeera television Friday, bin Laden warns of the dangers of climate change and says that the way to stop it is to bring “the wheels of the American economy” to a halt

This information we picked up on a page of The Washington Post that includes a large advertisement from CHEVRON Oil Company:

“HUMAN ENERGY” “Every day Chevron invests $59 million in People. In ideas. In progress – Learn more”

Bin Laden blasts US for climate change.

Includes also a photo from the FILE – “This is an undated photo of al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden. Bin
Laden issued a new audio message claiming responsibility for the Christmas day bombing attempt in Detroit and vowed further attacks. (Anonymous – AP)

The Associated Press
Friday, January 29, 2010; 6:52 AM
CAIRO — Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden has called in a new audiotape for the world to boycott American goods and the U.S. dollar, blaming the United States and other industrialized countries for global warming.

In the tape, aired in part on Al-Jazeera television Friday, bin Laden
warns of the dangers of climate change and says that the way to stop
it is to bring “the wheels of the American economy” to a halt.

He says the world should “stop consuming American products” and
“refrain from using the dollar,” according to a transcript on
Al-Jazeera’s Web site.

The new message, whose authenticity could not immediately be
confirmed, comes after a bin Laden tape released last week in which he
endorsed a failed attempt to blow up an American airliner on Christmas


UNFCCC should take notice of this when next time Saudi Arabia will claim to be paid US Dollars for the losses that it will incur when the world will finally decide to use less oil – their hidden treasure under the desert sand. Whatever we think of Bin Laden – we know that it is the US dollars paid for oil that fuelled both – the monarchy of The House of Saud and the Bin Laden family complaints that these dollars corrupted the purity of the faith as they see it. Now – that is why we post the piece also on our “cartoons” column – not really because of our disbelief in the Chevron statement or the actual content of what is attributed to Osama.

We are afraid that some narrow minded people might actually say that because Osama says that the US is to be blamed for Global Warming – it is obvious that Global Warming is a non-issue – and US CATO will thus bless on Bin Laden – so The Heartland Institute can put him up im its Gallery of Fame. Crazy – I told you so.


Posted on on January 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The Arab Peninsula and the Horn of Africa -too narrow  straights for the West.

POLITICS: Russia, China Sustain Military Toehold in Yemen.
By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 5 (IPS) – Russia has stolen a march over the United States in the multi-million-dollar arms market in cash-strapped Yemen, whose weapons purchases are being funded mostly by neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

The Yemeni armed forces, currently undergoing an ambitious military modernisation programme worth an estimated four billion dollars, are armed with weapons largely from Russia, China, Ukraine and the former Eastern Europe and Soviet republics.

With the attempted bombing of a U.S. airliner on Christmas Day by a Nigerian student, reportedly trained by al Qaeda in Yemen, the administration of President Barack Obama has pledged to double its military and counterterrorism aid, to nearly 150 million dollars, to strengthen the besieged government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Currently, Yemen receives assistance under several U.S.-funded programmes, including Foreign Military Financing (FMF), International Military Education and Training (IMET), Non-Proliferation, Anti-terrorism and De-mining, and Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction.

But the proposed military aid to Yemen – all of it gratis – along with U.S. arms supplies, is negligible compared with weapons, military training and technical expertise from non-U.S. sources.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), one of the world’s best known think tanks researching arms control and disarmament, Russia accounted for nearly 59 percent of all major weapons deliveries to Yemen during 2004-2008, followed by Ukraine at 25 percent, Italy at 10 percent, Australia’s five percent, and the United States at less than one percent.

Dr. Paul Holtom, director of SIPRI’s Arms Transfers Programme, told IPS that at the beginning of this year, the Russian media reported that Yemen had signed a deal to buy an estimated one billion dollars worth of arms from Moscow (with some reports giving figures as high as 2.5 billion dollars).

These weapons, he said, included additional MiG-29 combat aircraft, helicopters, tanks and armoured vehicles.

Holtom said there were also published reports suggesting these purchases were part of a proposed four-billion-dollar military modernisation programme.

But he said he does not have an update on the degree of progress made on these arms deals.

Dan Darling, Europe & Middle East Military Markets analyst at the Connecticut-based Forecast International Inc., a leading provider of market intelligence on the military, told IPS that in terms of primary arms suppliers to Yemen, “almost everything revolves around Russia”.

The core of the Yemeni Air Force is of Russian-legacy, including MiG-21s and MiG-29s and Su-22s, he pointed out.

From 2001 through 2008, Yemen received 1.4 billion dollars worth of arms, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), with 600 million dollars in weapons from Russia.

China provided 200 million dollars worth of armaments, while about 400 million dollars in arms were from a mix of former Soviet republics and East European nations (mainly Ukraine, but also Belarus, Czech Republic, Poland, Italy and others).

A resource-starved Middle Eastern nation, Yemen has negligible quantities of oil and is categorised as one of the world’s poorest nations.

The U.S. State Department has described Yemen as “desperately poor” but a “vital counterterrorism partner”.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Saudi Arabia had provided about two billion dollars in aid to Yemen last year – “an amount that dwarfs the 150 million dollars in security assistance that the United States will ask Congress to approve for the 2010 fiscal year”.

With the new terrorist threat from insurgents in Yemen, the United States is gearing itself for a virtual new battle front against al Qaeda – besides Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Darling of Forecast International Inc told IPS: “My take is that Washington understands how crucial Yemen is to regional security and stability.”

He said Yemen’s proximity to Saudi Arabia – from which many al Qaeda operatives are believed to have crossed into Yemen – and its importance in terms of shipping lanes at the mouth of the Red Sea and in terms of combating piracy in the area make ignoring Yemen a risk the U.S. is unwilling to take.

The recent spate of fighting with rebels in the north, combined with the pressures facing President Saleh and the belief that al Qaeda may have found a sort of sanctuary in Yemen, means that the country will garner more and more attention within U.S. government circles, he added.

“The State Department realises the looming potential for disaster in Yemen, where a combination of civil strife, an exploding population, negligible oil reserves, a structurally weak economy, high rates of poverty and unemployment, and deteriorating water supplies all threaten to turn the country into the proverbial failed state,” Darling said. “How they intend to combat this possibility is beyond my purview, but I’m guessing that you will see greater degrees of development assistance and oversight as to how the money is allocated,” he added.


Posted on on January 6th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

From the latest news coming from Washington – “Under the new airport
rules, all citizens of Afghanistan, Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq,
Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen must receive a pat
down and an extra check of their carry-on bags before boarding a plane
bound for the United States, officials said. Citizens of Cuba, Iran,
Sudan and Syria — nations considered ‘state sponsors of terrorism’ —
face the same requirement.”

That means Cuba and thirteen Muslim states: Afghanistan, Algeria,
Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia,
Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

These news caused a lot of comments, but we think the wrong comments.

We assume obviously that Washington is ready finally to address the
terrorism issue. Airplane terrorism, as we learned on 9/11, is not
about transport of weapons but about terrorists – to be specific since
9/11 – we speak here about Islamic terrorists. If you want to catch
terrorists you must look for terrorists. Looking for baby formula is
not the answer – but looking for those passengers whose profiles are
suspicious might be a better bet. Sure, obviously, not all Muslims are
terrorists, and profiling is terrible – even illegal, but if you want
to catch terrorists you start with the profile that most fits Islamic
terrorists, and you bet – they are Muslims of any color. Even though
they may be traveling with documents issued by non-Islamic States,
i.e. the UK, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France, Switzerland, or even the

So, it is not easy to define exactly what papers are carried by the
terrorists, but you can have some guidelines to increase your chance
of catching them. looking for a profile of an Asian or African Muslim.
Then, learn from the Israelis how to talk to them – you may even find
out that they are so convinced that their cause is the right one, that
they will lower their guard and just plainly disclose that what you
see is all they got.

There may be a Jamaican convert to Islam who preached terrorism in the UK
and resides now in Kenya – a case in point. Kenya does want him either and
he will be sent back to Jamaica a second time. yes, this is a problem if you
are American and Jamaica does not cooperate – but he is a Muslim and no
Anti-Defamation league is enrtitled to tell you Mr. President that he should
not be stripped and searched if he wants to travel via the US to Jamaica.
This is simple.

But what about Cuba? Fidel Castro is more atheist then Catholic, surely
no Muslim. Whatever went on in the past is history to me and I do not believe
prologue to Mr. Castro. So why mix him and his country up with 13 Islamic
States involved in Islamic Terrorism? That is unless someone in the US longs
to see him give cover to such terrorists in the future so they get new reasons
to be after him? If the Jamaica case has anything to teach us – it is that the
US is better off reinsuring its rear parts from anger caused by mistreatment
and friendship is not achieved by mulling over past grief. Specially, as several
hundred former sugar baron families living in Florida should not be allowed to
hold hostage the US when it comes to real US interests.

Mr. President, I watched Bolivia and Venezuela leaders speak in Copenhagen,
they fumed and brimmed with words – no stones or missiles. Their ALBA is,
I think, the natural ally of a US that manages to disengage from the Islamic
world of oil. So, it is the US self interest that calls for you, Mr. President, to
invite Fidel Castro to Washington for a tete-a-tete and start on a way that
eventually will give the US the wall of safety it needs when addressing the 21st
Century centers of terror – the Islamists’ terror cancer that will continue to ooze
as long as we use oil.

Please start by taking him of that list!

The thirteen on that list include the obvious Iran – Syria – Lebanon
trio of the Shii’a Islam, it includes the Afghanistan/Pakistan US
theater of operations and Iraq, as well as the other US theater Saudi
Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan that misses Egypt and the Gaza strip. A
fourth historic region includes Libya and Algeria, then with Nigeria,
these are newer sources of oil for the US, and as such clear potential
sources of unhappy Islamists who complain about the changes in their
countries as fueled by oil money. In very few countries terrorism
against the US was actually started by rulers decree. Libya, Iran,
Syria, Sudan, Somalia may be the exceptions, but Saudi Arabia and
Yemen may have seen rulers who deflected anger against themselves into
anger against foreigners. In the majority of cases the terrorist is a
person of convictions and the situation could have been avoided had
the US and the rest of the Western World, tried to be less squanderous
with the oil we got addicted to.

Having said the above – let us get now to the point – MR PRESIDENT –
LIST IN 2010.

* * * *

Please look – I am posting here four reference – links to news
articles of today’s New York Times.…
New Air Security Checks From 14 Nations to U.S. Draw Criticism…
In Yemen, U.S. Faces Leader Who Puts Family First…
Behind Afghan Bombing, an Agent With Many Loyalties…
Kenya Seeks to Deport Muslim Cleric to Jamaica



We have received a comment on this post and it presents a very valid point supposedly made at the UN General Assembly by the Foreign Minister of Cuba: “I mean if they were going to include us, then they should have at least thrown in North Korea.”

Even if the e-mail we received from ajay –   akazif at  as presented by www. in… were a made up story, the argument holds water nevertheless. DID THE US INCLUDE CUBA ON THAT LIST BECAUSE IT WANTED TO AVOID BEING SEEN AS GOING AFTER A RAG-TAG OF ISLANIC COUNTRIES? Now, we believe that US security should be spoken here – not again US appeasement-for-oil please!


Posted on on January 5th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

“Full-body scanners on display at Reagan National Airport: Many experts say the full-body scanners would have detected the explosives carried aboard Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day, but the
machines have also raised privacy concerns over the detailed body image that is displayed as part of the screening.”

TSA – Transportation and Security Administration – tries to assuage privacy concerns about full-body scans.

By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 4, 2010
It has come to this.

Already shoeless, beltless and waterless, more beleaguered air passengers will be holding their legs apart, raising their arms and effectively baring it all as they pass through U.S. airport security

Add the “full-body scan” to the list of indignities that some travelers are confronting in the post-Sept. 11, 2001, era of vigilance.

Federal authorities, working to close security gaps exposed by the thwarted Christmas Day terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound airliner, are multiplying the number of imaging machines at the nation’s biggest
airports. The devices scan passengers’ bodies and produce X-ray-like images that can reveal objects concealed beneath clothes…….

– – – – – –

now add the “me-au” from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, ADC Legal Director   nshora at

Washington, D.C. | January 5, 2010 | |

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is deeply concerned by the new Transportation and Security Administration (TSA) directives, which went into effect on January 4th at midnight.  According to news sources, these directives will require citizens from 14 countries, all Arab or Muslim countries, with the exception of Cuba, to go through enhanced security screening. Such screening can include full pat-downs, scans, delays, and anything associated with secondary screening – an extra search of the passenger’s carry-on luggage may also be required.  News sources also stated that the directives are applicable to any travelers, including US CITIZENS, who have passed through one of these 14 countries, or who have taken flights that have originated from these 14 countries.

ADC is very troubled as such directives will have negative ramifications on Arab-Americans, citizens of the 14 countries, and all Americans who visit these countries. A disparate segment of the Arab-American community will be scrutinized because of these new guidelines. The blanket labeling of hundreds of millions of civilians based solely on their country of citizenship or travel is not only unfairly discriminatory based on national origin, but also improperly labels millions of innocent people as somehow suspect or possible terrorists.

The new directives came following the Christmas Day attempted airline attack that threatened our national security, and which ADC has strongly condemned. Implementing an effective and productive counterterrorism tool is paramount. However, casting a wide net against individuals based on their country of origin, race or religion is not an effective counterterrorism tool. During the past decade, similar racial, ethnic and religious profiling tactics and practices have time and again misdirected precious counterterrorism resources, damaged foreign relations with key allies, fueled the fires of extremists by giving them an excuse, stigmatized communities, and most importantly did not have any discernible impact on security. Based on precedent, these new directives will be no different than these past practices and their adverse consequences; and while such directives may appear to make us feel safer, the reality is that they discriminate against innocent persons and divert attention from real threats.

Resources must instead be focused on high-risk individuals based on proper intelligence, better coordination and communication between different governmental agencies. In addition, continued engagement with the Arab, Muslim, Sikh, and South Asian community groups must be strengthened, and must not be discouraged by ethnic profiling tactics.

ADC has been in contact with TSA and the Department Homeland Security (DHS) and is planning to file a complaint and request for additional information with the Department.  ADC urges all travelers affected by these new guidelines to always comply with the Transportation Security Officer’s (TSO’s) request.  In the event of any abuse or misuse of authority, please request the TSO’s name and badge number, and file a complaint with ADC’s Legal Department at  legal at


Honestly, I feel the pain of decent members of the ADC, but am appalled at the chutzpah to announce the complaints of that organization without a single word attached saying that as loyal citizens to this country they are ready to organize themselves in units of informers when it comes to transgressions by people from their country of birth, that are endangering the security of the country that gave to the ADC members the privilege of life under a secular democracy.

Yes, I know that the ADC has members that are Muslim, Christian or atheists. I know they have no Jews in ADC, but that is not the issue. The Arab countries, other Asian countries, and the African Arabized countries, on the list of 13, are all Islamic countries – in all of them Christians and Jews face very serious difficulties. Further, I know of good Muslims in the US and overseas, that participate with enlightened Jews in order to build bridges between communities. in Copenhagen I actually participated during the Climate conference at a pilgrimage that took us to places of worship that were Jewish, Buddhist, Christian, and Muslim (that last meeting was held in the rooms of a Danish humanist society) – in this time sequence. Yes – good relationships are possible, but that will happen only when, and if, there is a clear understanding, and voiced recognition, that Islamic terrorism originates with Muslim individuals, and that in order to safeguard ourselves, profiling in search of instruments of terror is not a dirty word, but a means of self defense.

Also, in order to avoid needless friction, I suggest that the ADC moves front and center in the global effort to disengage from the addiction to oil.

And one more item – this website does speak up for Cuba as they surely are not part of the group of countries responsible for Islamicists performing acts of terror. So, they do not belong on that list of 14.


Posted on on January 4th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (

The US and Britain, followed by Japan, Germany and others, close their Embassies in Sanaa, Yemen.

About a dozen Yemenis were released by the Bush Administration from Guantanamo and sent back to Yemen. It turns out that they were about the organizers of a stronger Al-Qaeda presence in the country. The Obama Administration has ewleased seven more and still holds 90 Yemenis at Guantanamo. What should they do now with these detainees.

The Bush Administration has released all Saudi detainees from Guantanamo and TV pundits contend that the Bush Administration did not look at these releases as a securuty issue, but rather as an issue of diplomacy. Things get even worse when you listen to Marissa Porges from the Council of Foreign Affairs, who speaks of a Saudi Al-Qaeda unit and a Yemeni Al-Qaeda unit as if the Islamists are divided indeed according to lines the rulers of these countries have literally drawn on the sand. Then she gets even worse by noting that Saudi Arabia to the north has the oil fields that can be attacked if the terrorists are pushed out of Yemen. So, US security better be held at hock by the Saudi oil and the US interests that want the oil?  Not so?

Yemen downplays threat, need for Western intervention.
Yemeni government officials downplayed the threat of al-Qaida-affiliated terrorists operating from and within Yemen and the prospect the U.S. military would intercede in fighting militants in the country on the government’s behalf. The statements reflect concerns regarding the appearance of President Ali Abdullah Saleh before a domestic audience critical of U.S. intervention efforts. Yemeni officials say the government welcomes intelligence sharing but has not committed to conducting joint counter-terrorism operations with Western forces — seemingly contradicting U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus. Los Angeles Times

Yemen’s al-Qaida problem adds to long list of woes: Yemen’s internal problems — which range from water shortages and economic problems to two homegrown insurgencies — have kept the government’s attention focused elsewhere as the country increasingly becomes fertile operational grounds for al-Qaida. Groups from Yemen and Saudi Arabia have joined forces to form a larger, more capable al-Qaida structure. The New York Times


LA Times -By Borzou Daragahi
January 4, 2010

Reporting from Beirut – Yemeni officials on Sunday dismissed the threat posed by Al Qaeda in their country as “exaggerated” and downplayed the possibility of cooperating closely with the United States in fighting Islamic militants, even as the U.S. and Britain temporarily closed their diplomatic outposts in Yemen because of unspecified Al Qaeda threats.

The statements by Yemen’s foreign minister, chief of national security and Interior Ministry came a day after the region’s top American military commander vowed to step up U.S. military support for the beleaguered Arabian Peninsula nation.

Analysts said the Yemeni statements reflected domestic political concerns about President Ali Abdullah Saleh appearing weak and beholden to the West as he faces numerous political challenges.

The group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula claimed responsibility for the failed attempt at bombing a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day. The alleged attacker’s claim that he was tutored in Yemen set off alarm bells in Western capitals about the relatively lawless nation of 23 million, which is also facing an insurgency in the north and a separatist movement in the south.

U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus visited Yemen on Saturday and vowed to give Saleh increased aid to fight Al Qaeda. His promise was echoed by President Obama, who said the United States would step up intelligence-sharing and training of Yemeni forces and perhaps carry out joint attacks against militants in the region.

But Yemeni officials Sunday appeared to rebuff any close cooperation with the West. Foreign Minister Abubakr Qirbi told a government-run newspaper that his country welcomed intelligence-sharing but had made no commitment to conducting anti-terrorism operations in conjunction with the West.

“Yemen has its own short-term and long-term schemes to tackle terrorists anywhere in the republic that only call for intelligence and information coordination with other countries,” he told the daily newspaper Politics, the official Saba news agency reported.

A statement posted to the U.S. Embassy website cited “ongoing threats by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to attack American interests in Yemen.” The British Foreign Office confirmed that its embassy had been closed for security reasons and said discussions would be held today on when to reopen the facility.

Both diplomatic missions in Sana, the Yemeni capital, normally are open Saturday through Wednesday.

The U.S. Embassy has been the site of attacks in the past. At least 16 people died there in a Sept. 17, 2008, car bomb attack that was claimed by Al Qaeda. Three mortar rounds missed the embassy and crashed into a nearby high school for girls in March 2008, killing a security guard. Police and alleged Al Qaeda militants exchanged small-arms fire near the embassy a year ago.

On Sunday, Obama’s top counter-terrorism advisor said the U.S. had evidence of a viable threat against the embassy, which led to the decision to close it.

“There are indications that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is targeting our embassy and targeting our personnel,” John Brennan said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding: “We’re not going to take any chances with the lives of our diplomats and others who are at that embassy.”

Asked whether Americans in the country are safe, Brennan said, “I think until the Yemeni government gets on top of the situation with Al Qaeda, there is a risk of attacks. A number of tourists have been, in fact, kidnapped. A number of tourists have been killed.”

But Yemen’s Interior Ministry posted a message to its website Sunday boasting that Al Qaeda militants were “under surveillance around the clock.”

And Saleh’s national security chief, Ali Anisi, said Sunday that Al Qaeda’s presence in Yemen was “exaggerated” and touted the success of his nation’s forces in stemming terrorism, according to an account of his comments reported by Saba news agency.

He reportedly insisted that Yemen was not a haven for Al Qaeda and pointed to “preemptive operations against militants which thwarted planned attacks on vital domestic and foreign interests in the country.”

According to Saba, he said that only 40% of the five dozen attempted terrorist attacks in the country since 1992 had succeeded.

Analysts say the increased focus on Yemen’s security situation creates a dilemma for Saleh, who is worried about appearing to cede sovereignty to the Americans when he is being politically assailed from all segments of the population.

“It’s about control,” said Abdullah Faqih, a professor of political science at Sana University. “The international actors need to assure the Yemeni government about its control. They don’t want to give concessions” to their rivals in the north or south.

A member of a smaller Shiite Muslim sect, Saleh has been accused for years of gaining political allies by turning a blind eye to the growing influence of Sunni extremists who have begun enforcing Islamic dress codes and setting up religious schools.

Qirbi, the foreign minister, emphasized in the interview published Sunday his nation’s “continuing rehabilitation of and advising misled terrorists,” a reference to its controversial program of re-educating and releasing convicted Islamic militants, some once held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay. About 90 Yemeni detainees are still being held at Guantanamo.

Faqih suggested that the United States and Britain announced the temporary closures of their embassies as a way of turning up the heat on Saleh, whose government depends on international assistance to combat a number of issues, including piracy off its Gulf of Aden coast and a drought along its mountain ridges.

“This could also be a kind of pressure,” he said. “If the World Bank decides to close its office, the country might collapse.”

Saleh has presided for decades over the Arab world’s poorest nation, a generally lawless and mountainous land that faces vast unemployment, high birthrates and a plummeting water supply. Rampant corruption and festering tribal disputes exacerbate the problems.

U.S. officials have limited direct aid to Yemen in the past for fear it would disappear into a government widely considered corrupt and unaccountable. But Washington increased the total anti-terrorism assistance from $4.6 million in 2006 to $67 million in 2009, according to the Pentagon.

Following a Dec. 24 airstrike against suspected Al Qaeda militants in Yemen, which killed 30 and was suspected by many of having been directed by Americans, some Yemenis fear U.S. involvement could further destabilize their country.

“We’re afraid that you will repeat the same mistake as in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Mohamed Abdul-Malik Mutawakil, a political scientist at Sana University. “The real challenge is to correct the situation. If you come to Yemen and you push for reform, justice, political change, a better economy, then you will pull the rug out from under Al Qaeda.”

 daragahi at


The New York Times, By STEVEN ERLANGER
Published: January 2, 2010
SANA, Yemen — Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has rapidly evolved into an expanding and ambitious regional terrorist network thanks in part to a weakened, impoverished and distracted Yemeni government.While Yemen has chased two homegrown rebellions, over the last year the Qaeda cell here has begun sharing resources across borders and has been spurred on to more ambitious attacks by a leadership strengthened by released Qaeda detainees and returning fighters from Iraq.

The priorities of the Yemeni government have been fighting a war in the north and combating secessionists across the south. In the interim, Al Qaeda has flourished in the large, lawless and rugged tribal territories of Yemen, creating training camps, attacking Western targets and receiving increasing popular sympathy, Yemeni and American officials say.

Al Qaeda’s growing profile in Yemen became clear after a Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, was able to overstay his visa here by several months, connect with Qaeda militants and, American officials believe, leave this country with a bomb sewn into his underwear.

In his weekly address on Saturday, President Obama for the first time directly blamed Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula for the bombing attempt and said that fighting the group would be a high priority. “In recent years, they have bombed Yemeni government facilities and Western hotels,” he said, adding, “So as president, I’ve made it a priority to strengthen our partnership with the Yemeni government.”

The core of the group here is still thought to be small, perhaps no more than 200 people. But the group has the important advantage of being part of a larger, regional structure, having merged a year ago with the Saudi branch of Al Qaeda to form Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. And it has been able to originate fairly sophisticated operations here, in Saudi Arabia and now on an airliner headed for Detroit.

Though Yemen played an early role in Al Qaeda’s history — it is Osama bin Laden’s ancestral homeland, and it was the staging ground for the 2000 attack on the American destroyer Cole — the key chapters in the story of Al Qaeda’s rise here have been written recently by leaders who were released from detention at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, escaped from Yemeni prisons or were drawn to shelter here by common cause and ideology.

Those men have transformed and reoriented a weak local Qaeda cell that had made a kind of peace with the government after 2003. In the year since the Saudi and Yemeni branches merged, Al Qaeda has taken full advantage of the government’s preoccupation with the rebellions, building support from the tribal structures and traditions in Yemen’s poor and lawless territories.

One big moment came in February 2006, when 23 imprisoned men suspected of being members of Al Qaeda escaped from a high-security prison, reportedly with the aid of some Yemeni security forces. All but three or four of the men were eventually recaptured or killed by Yemeni security forces. But one prisoner, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, became leader of the Qaeda cell in Yemen and moved to reorganize it, focusing it on attacks against nearby Western targets. Another prisoner, Qassim al-Raimi, became the military commander.

The next year, Mr. Wuhayshi found a deputy and, perhaps, a rival for leadership, Said Ali al-Shihri, 36, a Saudi citizen. He was released from six years’ detention in Guantánamo Bay in December 2007 to a Saudi-run rehabilitation program. He disappeared from Saudi Arabia and emerged in Yemen, and he is considered by many to be the rising star of the local movement. Mr. Shihri had traveled to Afghanistan in 2001 and was apparently wounded there, and he was captured crossing back into Pakistan in December of that year.

Another Guantánamo detainee, also captured in Pakistan in 2001 and released to a Saudi rehabilitation program, is Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaysh, 30, a Saudi who also disappeared and is now described as the mufti, or theological guide, to Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula.

Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born, English-speaking Internet imam of Al Qaeda here, returned to Yemen, his family’s home, in 2004. He was arrested in 2006 on security charges and was released in December 2007 after 18 months in prison. He then went to Britain and is believed to have returned to Yemen last spring.

Mr. Awlaki, 38, is not thought to have a major operational role. Still, American and Yemeni officials say they believe he provided a crucial link to Mr. Abdulmutallab, first through the Internet and then by meeting him in Yemen and helping to recruit him to the airliner bomb plot. He also provides Qaeda operatives here with a crucial shield against the government: the protection of his powerful tribe, the Awlakis. As in Afghanistan and Pakistan, tribal codes require the protection of those who seek refuge and help — even more so for a clan member and his colleagues. Mr. Awlaki is also said to have helped negotiate deals with other tribal leaders.

Abdulelah Hider Shaea, a Yemeni journalist who studies Al Qaeda and knows Mr. Awlaki, denied in an interview that the imam was a member of Al Qaeda, saying instead that he served as an articulate window to jihadism for English speakers.

Yemeni officials, in two major strikes against Qaeda targets in December, first said that they had killed Mr. Awlaki, but he later spoke to Mr. Shaea to prove that he was alive, as other key leaders seem to be. But dozens of Qaeda family members and local residents were killed, increasing antigovernment sentiment.

In recent years, Al Qaeda has had an increasingly rich recruiting pool.

Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at the Swedish National Defense College, said that many of the nearly 2,000 Yemenis who were believed to have fought in Iraqi insurgencies had returned to join the cause here. And many Yemenis who went to Saudi Arabia to seek work — like Mr. bin Laden’s father — have had children who have been influenced by the more radical Islam of Saudi Arabia, bringing ideas of jihad home to an already conservative Islamic Yemen.

There has also been an influx to Yemen of at least 200,000 refugees from Somalia, according to official figures, and probably many more than that. Al Qaeda has also been very active in Somalia, seeking refuge and recruits among the Islamist groups there. And now that Yemen has proved to be a safe training ground for Al Qaeda, a link between the Yemeni and Somali contingents has strengthened.

“The Somalia problem is merging with the Yemeni issue,” Mr. Ranstorp said.

But Al Qaeda here also has problems, including a possible leadership struggle.

Although Mr. Wuhayshi is still widely believed to be in control, he is considered uncharismatic, and his leadership and the merger were not endorsed by Mr. bin Laden’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, until spring 2009. But the airliner plot has brought praise from Qaeda-associated Web sites, as did a bold but unsuccessful effort to kill Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism chief, Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, who was wounded last August by a suicide bomber equipped with the same explosive provided to Mr. Abdulmutallab.

Al Qaeda’s growth here has come as President Ali Abdullah Saleh, 67, has intensified the war in the north against Houthi rebels, who are Shiites with support from Iran, according to Yemeni officials and analysts. Mr. Saleh’s second priority is a spreading secessionist movement in the south, which has been largely peaceful until now but which further threatens his long hold on power, with his own succession unclear.

“President Saleh’s first priority is to stay in power,” said Abdullah al-Faqih, a political scientist at Sana University. “Two, at this point, is the war in the north. Three is the south. And sometimes Al Qaeda doesn’t even make the list at all — it drops from the agenda.”

In that regard, American officials are finding an uncomfortable resemblance to their fight in Pakistan, where Al Qaeda’s leadership is believed to have sanctuary in rugged tribal areas while the government is preoccupied with its archrival India and the disputed territory of Kashmir. And as in Pakistan, the American military and intelligence involvement in Yemen must be cautious and seen as advisory, without putting troops on the ground.

In addition to sending money, the United States has sent Special Forces troops to help train and equip Yemeni forces and has provided sophisticated satellite and communications intelligence.

Yemen is also the Arab world’s poorest country, with a major water shortage and 70 percent of the gross domestic product coming from oil that is expected to run out in seven years, and it is also deeply corrupt.

The new American focus and money have caught Mr. Saleh’s attention, Mr. Faqih, the political scientist, said. “But right now we have the military in the north and the security services in the south,” he said. “Of course, we’re not ready to fight Al Qaeda. You’d have to reposition the government and the security forces, and it would take months.”

Still, Al Qaeda is also becoming more of a threat to Yemen. In November, Al Qaeda attacked government forces in the Kushum Al Ain area of Hadramawt Province. Three officials were killed. Later that month, near Marib, Al Qaeda executed a senior intelligence officer after holding him for months and then trying him, as if it were the real government of the area.

Al Qaeda has also declared support for the secessionist protests in the south and is thought to be strong in southern Abyan Province, which gives it access to the sea.

Despite the threat, “relations between the government and Al Qaeda are very tricky,” Mr. Faqih noted.

“There is, as in Pakistan, some intertwining of politics, society and the security forces with Al Qaeda,” he said. Al Qaeda has been skillful in making alliances of its own with important tribes in provinces like Hadramawt, Shabwah, Marib, where much of the oil is, and Abyan.

Some of that intertwining has happened because President Saleh has been encouraging a radical Sunni Islamist group to help fight the Shiite Houthi rebellion in the north. Some analysts say they believe that movement is also feeding the support for Al Qaeda. Mr. Saleh has also used jihadis who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq against the Houthis, as he used some of them to fight in the south during the country’s 1994 civil war.

Mr. Faqih warned that Mr. Saleh must seek political ways to calm the rebellions or risk creating even more recruits for Al Qaeda. The war against the Houthis is pushing them toward some kind of alliance with Al Qaeda, despite religious differences, much as Shiite Iran backs the Sunni Hamas movement in Gaza, he said.

“It can happen,” Mr. Faqih said. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and you can turn it into the Kandahar of Yemen.”