Archive for Arab World

Arab Fizzle

I know how unbecoming it is to look upon the abject failure of the so-called Arab Spring, which promised so much to so many, and laugh. But…


Egyptians who voted in a referendum overwhelmingly approved a new constitution, official sources said, citing early results of a ballot that could set the stage for army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to declare his candidacy for president.

About 90 percent of voters approved the constitution, the state news agency and a government official said.

It comes as no surprise: the constitution won wide support among Egyptians who backed the army overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi in July, and there was little or no trace of a no campaign as the state presses a campaign on dissent.

The referendum is a key step in the political transition plan the interim government has billed as a path to democracy, even as it presses a fierce crackdown on the Brotherhood, Egypt’s best organized party until last year.

Oh yeah, democracy. Right, sure.

Sisi’s supporters see him as the kind of strong man needed to restore stability to a country in political and economic crisis for nearly three years. The stock market has rallied to three-year highs this week.

High turnout would be seen as a strong stamp of approval for the new, the army-backed order. A Sisi presidency would turn back the clock to the days when the post was controlled by military men – a pattern broken by Morsi’s one year in office.

“You could see the re-emergence of a domineering president,” said Nathan Brown, a professor of political science at George Washington University and an expert on Egyptian affairs.

At many polling stations across the Arab world’s biggest nation, the referendum at times appeared to be a vote on Sisi himself. Women chanted his name and ululated as they stood in line to vote, while a pro-army song popularized after Morsi’s overthrow blared from cars.

Sounds like the evening line-up on MSNBC and CNN.


Arab World Update

I know Israeli “settlements” (i.e. Jewish homes) are a far worse scourge on the face of humanity, but just one or two other stories.


Four people were killed and 77 others were wounded Thursday in a car bomb that struck Haret Hreik, a neighborhood of Beirut’s southern suburbs where Hezbollah enjoys broad support, the Health Ministry said.

Lebanon’s caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said human remains inside the vehicle used in the explosion suggested a suicide bomber may have been involved.

A judicial source told The Daily Star “DNA tests are being conducted on human remains that have yet to be identified.”

The car bombing in Haret Hreik, a densely populated neighborhood of the southern suburb, is the latest security incident to hit increasingly volatile Lebanon. The attacks are linked to the ongoing crisis in Syria, particularly Hezbollah’s military support there to President Bashar Assad.

Hezbollah MP Hasan Fadlallah said the blast occurred meters away from the party’s political council, saying “the target of the attack was Lebanon, its security, stability and national unity.”

No, the target was you, you Hezzie piece of [bleep].


Human rights groups report that thousands of women have been raped by Syrian army soldiers in the ongoing war, which is now in its third year and has left 130,000 dead. That trend appears likely to only increase, as a deputy to the Chief Mufti (Islamic scholar) of Syria has given religious permission to rape.

In the interview, Al-Dala said Syrian army soldiers have permission to “marry” unmarried and married women, sisters and mothers of the rebel fighters, without any official marriage agreement. He clarified that the rape is intended as a punishment for not reporting the rebels to the goverment forces.

In making his statement, the Sheikh placed his religious authority behind the rape of women and girls by soldiers, as part of their fight against the rebels.

According to testimony taken from captured soldiers and captains before they were put to death by rebels, rape has been employed as a common practice by the army, well before Al-Dala’s official religious support was stated.

While particularly attractive women are reportedly brought to senior commanders, rape victims include religious muslim women dressed in face veils and full-body cloaks (niqab).

It must be noted that for their part, the rebels have publicized religious permission for their fighters to do as they please with women who fall into their hands.

And an update on an earlier story:

The Czech foreign ministry expressed concern Thursday over the discovery of a large, illegal weapons stockpile at the home of the Palestinian ambassador in Prague, Jamel al-Jamal, a day after he was killed in an explosion there.

A ministry statement said that the findings possibly constitute a breach of diplomatic rules, and warrant a clarification from Palestinian officials, Reuters reported.

Respekt, a Czech weekly newspaper, reported that the discovered arsenal was enough to arm a unit of 10 men.

Czech police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova confirmed that arms had been found in the ambassador’s residence, which is located within a newly constructed Palestinian diplomatic mission in the city.

The stockpile included heavy firearms being held illegally, unbeknownst to Czech authorities, according to a Channel 2 news report.

I would just observe that there was a terrorist bus bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria last year. Just sayin’.

Oh yeah, Jordan is trying a writer in absentia for “insulting” the state.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Israel-bashing—though if someone can explain to me why we’re not asking Israel to take more territory, not less, I’d love to know. I’d like to see the Jewish State run from Cairo to Baghdad. (So would many Arabs!)


Middle East Update

Care for a little spin around the region? Here’s your sun hat, your shades, a canteen—and a flak jacket.


A huge car bomb rocked central Beirut on Friday, killing at least five people, including a Sunni politician who was a former ambassador to the United States and a prominent critic of Hezbollah. More than 70 people were reported injured.

Plumes of black smoke billowed into the air, and television footage showed scenes of blazing wreckage and scattered debris. Troops formed a security cordon around the area, close to downtown hotels as well as government buildings, including the parliament.

The death of Mohamad Chatah, an economist and diplomat, was confirmed by the Future Movement, a political faction with which Chatah had close ties. He was traveling by convoy at the time of the midmorning blast, and security officials believed he had been specifically targeted.

Oh dear.


A bomb blast hit a public bus in the Egyptian capital Cairo on Thursday, wounding five people, the Interior Ministry said, in an attack that raised concerns that a wave of violence blamed on Islamic militants that has targeted security forces and military for months is increasingly turning to hit civilians.

The blast came a day after the government declared its top political nemesis, the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization, accusing it of being behind the violence. The group has denied the claim, saying the government is trying to scapegoat it. Egypt saw the deadliest bombing yet earlier this week, when a suicide bomber hit a police headquarters in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura on Tuesday, killing 16 people, mainly police.



In Iraq, a car bomb exploded outside a church in southern Baghdad just as worshipers were leaving a Christmas Day service, killing many. In another attack Wednesday, a car bomb went off at an outdoor market where many Christians shop, police said.

Altogether, at least 38 people were killed and some 70 others were wounded, the Interior Ministry said. The bomb outside the church killed 27 and wounded 56. The market attack left 11 dead and 14 wounded.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad condemned the attacks — in the Dora area of Baghdad — targeting “Christians celebrating Christmas.”

Poor souls.


The United Nations announcement on Sunday that it would demand a record-shattering $6.5bn to fund humanitarian efforts in Syria – as much as it will spend in response everywhere else in the world, combined – underscored the scale of the humanitarian tragedy in Syria.

The same day, the International Rescue Committee released a statement detailing the humanitarian challenge inside Syria: the cost of bread has risen 500%, nearly four-in-five communities are struggling to access food, one in two communities is concerned about clean water, and a shortage of medical supplies is pervasive.

But no effort will receive more scrutiny than the UN’s push to prevent a polio epidemic. The UN has repeatedly exhorted Syria to allow humanitarian access across conflict lines for immunization campaigns, but is still legally obligated to coordinate with the government.


Things are pretty bad when we look to Gaza for good news (at least less bad):

Egyptian border guards on Tuesday afternoon discovered and destroyed six smuggling tunnels under the border with the Gaza Strip, military sources said.

They told Ma’an that the operation was a joint activity between border guards and army engineering units. They added that the tunnels were discovered in Rafah on the Egyptian side.

A large quantity of goods was seized near the tunnels including more than 1,800 mobile phones and 300 boxes of cigarettes.

Separately, Egyptian border guards seized about 700 kilos of cannabis.

“Joint” activity, get it?

Pity about the ganja. Gaza could do with a little spark:

Gaza’s only power plant ground to a halt again on Friday, only 12 days after being brought back online following a 7 week shutdown due to fuel shortages. The shutdown was announced by Gaza’s electricity firm, reports AFP.

While officials from the territory’s Islamist rulers were quick to blame Israel, in reality Egypt is largely involved after having shut down the tunnels into the Sinai that were used to illegally smuggle fuel. Gaza’s power plant was initially shut down on November 1 under the Egyptian siege.

Egypt has accused the Hamas terrorist organization which rules Gaza of promoting terror in Egypt through the Muslim Brotherhood, which it is an offshoot of. Hamas denies the charges, although Egypt is continuing to act against the terror group.

As for the Kerem Shalom crossing, it reportedly was closed Tuesday after Gaza terrorists fatally shot an IDF civilian worker. The crossing had been used to deliver fuel purchased from Israel by the Palestinian Authority, using money donated by Qatar.

On Thursday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said of the incident “we thought there were ‘game rules,’ according to which you do not fire at civilians who work near the fence. Until now, they did not fire at civilians, and we will have to think what to do, if someone has changed the rules.”

Tensions have risen after terrorists from Gaza fired 2 Kassam rockets at Israel in as many days.

But what is the only thing that exercises the great and good of the international community?

The European Union (EU) is unhappy with reports that Israel plans to publish tenders for the sale of 1,400 housing units in Judea and Samaria, Channel 10 News reported on Thursday.

“There will be very little understanding on the part of European governments regarding any announcement of construction in the territories now under negotiations. Israel should expect a strong reaction on the part of European governments if it is going to go in that direction,” said the official.

Next week’s reported announcement will be timed to coincide with the release of 26 terrorist murderers, which is a “gesture” to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

While the rest of the region is obsessed with death, Israel prepares for life. No wonder it doesn’t fit in.

Still, at least some people welcomed the news:


Broads Laud Word of God, Get Scrod

Cheer Up, Arab women. Comoros is supposed to be lovely.

POLL-Egypt is worst Arab state for women, Comoros best

Arab women played a central role in the Arab Spring, but their hopes the revolts would bring greater freedom and expanded rights for women have been thwarted by entrenched patriarchal structures and the rise of Islamists, gender experts in the countries say.

Almost three years after popular uprisings toppled autocratic leaders in one of the most conservative corners of the world, a Thomson Reuters Foundation poll on 22 Arab states showed three out of five Arab Spring countries in the bottom five states for women’s rights.

Egypt emerged as the worst country to be a woman in the Arab world today, followed closely by Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Egypt scored badly in almost every category, including gender violence, reproductive rights, treatment of women in the family and their inclusion in politics and the economy.

Arab Spring countries Syria and Yemen ranked 18th and 19th, respectively – worse than Sudan, Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and insurgency-hit Somalia, which scored better on factors such as political and economic inclusion, women’s position in the family, reproductive rights and sexual violence.

Libya and Tunisia came in 9th and 6th.

One question: which Egypt, Morsi’s or Sisi’s?

The Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt, culminating with the election of President Mohamed Mursi, angered many prominent activists who say the Islamist group infringed on women’s rights.

A year into office, Mursi was toppled in a military takeover after mass protests against his rule.

While there is a slight improvement in political participation for women under the army-backed interim government, there is still a long way to go, some analysts said.

So, the Mo-Bros were worse. One more question: where the hell is the Com… oh, thank you.

Can’t you see yourselves in skimpy bathing suits, tanning on its sparkly sandy beaches? I can.


Move Over, Yasser Arafat and Jimmy Carter

That’s it. Just keep moving. And take Desmond Tutu and Barack Hussein Obama with you. We need the space on the Nobel Peace Prize bench:

Following are excerpts from an interview with Yemeni Nobel Prize laureate Tawakkol Karman, which aired on BBC Arabic TV on September 15, 2013:

Tawwakol Karman: … The Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, who oppose the military rule, are engaged in a legendary struggle, which they are waging with their blood, their resolute steadfastness, and their belief that they will restore the revolution to its true path. They can do it without any favors from the military of the coup leaders.

Interviewer: Sometimes you criticize the Muslim Brotherhood, and sometimes you sound as if you are politically and ideologically partial to them. Yemeni activist Abd Al-Hafiz Al-Nahari said that you serve a narrow political agenda because you, in fact, belong to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Tawwakol Karman: You can hear it from me: Yes, at this stage, I am partial towards the Muslim Brotherhood, toward the coalition that rejects the coup against legitimacy, and toward all the Egyptian youths who oppose the coup against democracy and against the January [2011] Revolution. I will not remain neutral in this battle. This is my battle.

Interviewer: Why is this your battle? Why are you so worked up about Egypt? Why are you so involved in what is happening in Egypt?

Tawwakol Karman: Because Egypt is the jewel of the Arab Spring. If the Arab Spring fails in Egypt, it will fail everywhere.

It already has, honey. Everywhere.

But give credit to the Nobel committee. They can pick ‘em.


Young Girl, Get Out Of… Just Get Out!

You’re much too young, girl:

A backwards society, shoddy economy and Islamist terror – many difficult problems flood the country of Yemen, one of the worst is the phenomenon of young girls forced into marriage.

Just last month an eight year old, identified as Rawan, died of internal bleeding, apparently the result of being forced to have sex with her 40-year-old husband on her wedding night.

Dr. Arwa Rabi’i, a gynecologist from the capital city of Sana’a, talked to the i24news channel and called for raising the marriage age to 18. “When a woman marries before the age of 18, before the uterus and hips are fully developed, there are going to be many gynecological complications such as multiple miscarriages and life-threatening infections,” she said. “We see it every day, not every month or week, every day! A lot of them, 10 or 20 sick girls.”

Belkis Wille, an activist in Human Rights Watch, talking to i24news from Yemen via Skype, said that in rural areas, it is common to see marriage at the ages of eight or nine. Regarding Rawan’s story, she said: “Unfortunately, this specific story is influenced by a lot of rumors; various local authorities are saying the story is not true, while the journalist who broke the story refuses to believe it’s not true.

“Different human rights organizations are taking different position locally, but from every point of view, whether this story is true or not, it’s irrelevant considering that this happening around the country all the time. I’ve personally come across two or three cases I’ve heard from gynecologists of girls who bled to death on their wedding night.”

Yemen may be particularly backward—or it may not. Next time some lefty hyperventilates about kids having to recite the Pledge of Allegiance or the plague of big sodas, tell him at least we don’t marry our 8-year-olds off to dirty old men (Elizabeth Smart notwithstanding).

And we don’t let them drive:

A leading Saudi cleric warned women who drive cars could cause damage to their ovaries and pelvises and that they are at risk of having children born with “clinical problems.”

Sheikh Saleh Al-Loheidan’s widely derided remarks have gone viral as activists claim a website urging women to defy their country’s driving ban has been blocked in Saudi Arabia.

“If a woman drives a car,” Al-Loheidan told Saudi news website in an interview, “it could have a negative physiological impact … Medical studies show that it would automatically affect a woman’s ovaries and that it pushes the pelvis upward.”

Explained Al-Loheidan, “We find that for women who continuously drive cars, their children are born with varying degrees of clinical problems.”

“[W]omen who continuously drive cars”? In Saudi? Where? When? Much as I may favor women pushing their pelvises upward (and downward, forward, backward, side-to-side, you name it), this is completely deranged.


Salafist Sluts

Unlike Rush Limbaugh’s inappropriate designation of Sandra Fluke, this shoe fits:

Tunisian women have travelled to Syria to wage “sex jihad” by comforting Islamist fighters battling the regime there, Interior Minister Lotfi ben Jeddou has told MPs.

“They have sexual relations with 20, 30, 100″ militants, the minister told members of the National Constituent Assembly on Thursday.

“After the sexual liaisons they have there in the name of ‘jihad al-nikah’ — (sexual holy war, in Arabic) — they come home pregnant,” Ben Jeddou told the MPs.

Jihad al-nikah, permitting extramarital sexual relations with multiple partners, is considered by some hardline Sunni Muslim Salafists as a legitimate form of holy war.

A fetching young lass from Tunisia
From Damascus came home with amnesia;
With crabs, clap, and a bump,
UTI, and the mumps,
And no medicine but milk of magnesia!

[Try finding that on Instapundit!]

Hundreds of Tunisian men have also gone to join the ranks of the jihadists fighting to bring down the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The jihadist love that dare not speak its name.

I could try to be all serious and ask how a great faith could be so corrupted to sink to such depths—but then it would be a different blog. I just want to know where they’re going to get the 19,604 virgins they’ve promised.


Love and Marriage

Two distinct viewpoints of the blessed institution.

The romantic:

Following are excerpts from a report on a child wedding which took place in Egypt. The report was posted on the Internet on September 1, 2013.

Reporter: The city of El Senbellawein in the Dakahlia Governorate of Egypt witnessed what observers called the strangest wedding in the 21st century. The bridegroom was only 13 years old, and the bride was 10 years of age.

Mahmoud Shams, father of the bridegroom: We wanted to make sure they marry someone with the proper lineage. We saw that Shams was fond of Iman, so it all worked out, Allah be praised. You are never too young to be married. We could have just told him to marry his cousin, and he would have. He would have had no say in it. The important thing is to get married. Love will come later.

Aw, sweet.

Then there’s the rather more grisly approach:

An 8-year-old girl who reportedly died after suffering internal injuries on the first night of her arranged marriage has sparked an outcry in Yemen, with activists calling for the groom’s arrest.

Kuwait newspaper Al Watan, citing Yemeni media reports, reported that the girl died in the northwestern city of Hardh. She is believed to have suffered a tear to her genitals on her wedding night, after marrying to a man more than five times her age.

Activists in Yemen called the man a “beastly groom,” calling for police to arrest him and the girl’s family for making her go through the ordeal, according to

I’m sorry to trouble you with this story. I waited a day, if that’s any help, so you wouldn’t hear it from me first.

Let me leave you with a happier thought by checking in with the two lovebirds referenced at the top:

Reporter: Were you happy to get married?

Iman nods

Reporter: Why did you agree?

Iman: Because Mom and Dad told me to.

Reporter: They told you to, so you agreed?

Iman: Yes.

She’s only ten. Love will come later.


If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands

Hey Scandinavia, keep it down, will ya?!

The happiest people in the world are in Denmark, according to a new report published on Monday, based on research carried out by The Earth Inststute at Columbia University. Happiness is measured by a variety of parameters, including life expectancy, infant mortality, socio-economic status and education.

Despite the bitter cold, northern countries lead the report. As in previous years, Nordic countries top the list with Denmark coming in at number one. This is followed by Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Austria and Iceland.

In 11th place out of 150 countries surveyed is Israel, coming in right before New Zealand, the UAE, the United States, Ireland and Luxembourg. A year ago, Israel was in 14th place, meaning it rose three spots in the rankings.

The countries with the most unhappy citizens are in Africa and other poverty-stricken areas. The country with the lowest happiness level is Togo. Higher up on the list are Guinea, the Central African Republic, Comoros, Tanzania and Senegal, alongside the European country with the most unhappy people: Bulgaria.

According to Professor John Helliwell, an economist from the University of British Columbia who wrote the report, the happiness index improved from 2005 to the present report. However, while Latin America and the Caribbean have shown dramatic improvement in their happiness index, countries in the Middle East, after the popular uprisings that have recently taken place, exhibited happiness levels drop by 11.7%.

“The Arab Spring wasn’t good for a lot of people in those regions,” Helliwell said.

Hey Arabs, turn that frown upside-down! Things are looking up. With a little therapy, you could be as happy as Guatemala! Hahahahahaha!

PS: Figures these stats would come up in summer, when it’s light “oop north” until all hours. Try asking them how happy they are in February!


How’s That Arab Spring Working Out, Mr. President?

He took time off his vacation to bloviate today.

Did you hear his remarks? I did. They were condescending and contained the quintessential dog-ate-my-homework pout. Not our fault. Egyptians, you really need to pull it together. Meanwhile, apparently more than 500 people were killed by the military yesterday.

Egyptian authorities on Thursday significantly raised the death toll from clashes the previous day between police and supporters of the ousted Islamist president, saying more than 500 people died and laying bare the extent of the violence that swept much of the country.

Despite the government’s declaration of a nighttime curfew and a state of emergency, violence continued into the next day. Angry men presumed to be supporters of deposed President Mohammed Morsi stormed and torched two buildings housing the provincial government of Giza, the city across the Nile from Cairo.

The death toll, which stood at 525, according to the latest Health Ministry figures, makes Wednesday by far the deadliest day since the 2011 popular uprising that toppled longtime ruler and autocrat Hosni Mubarak – a grim milestone that does not bode well for the future of a nation roiled in turmoil and divisions for the past 2 1/2 years.

I wonder what the O-bots are saying about this? We had dinner with various O-bot friends during the blossoming of the Arab Spring. We expressed skepticism, verging on certitude, that the Arab Spring would become a blood bath, and that we are responsible because we are the most powerful nation on earth and we had a lot to do with forcing Mubarak out. Say what you will about him, life was better for minorities, women, children… let’s just say people.. that it is currently.

NPR was amusing this morning. They quoted someone who blamed John Kerry for making statements that sounded like a green light for the military government. This spokesperson, whoever he was, was pretty sure that the military government misunderstood our brilliant Secretary of State.

Oh well. You get what you vote for. One more prediction: With a nut job Islamic government, Egyptians will starve. Will we support that?

- Aggie


Scenes Of The Arab Summer

Way to go, Barry!

They love us, they really love us.





They aren’t saying too much about this on NPR today.

- Aggie


Not the Radical Islamic Cleric He Thought He Knew

First Rev. Jeremiah Wright, now Sheik Abdullah bin Bayyah.

Obama just can’t win with men of the cloth:

A senior Obama administration official confirmed to Fox News that members of the National Security Council staff met with a controversial Muslim scholar, but stressed that they were focused on his recent efforts to counter the Al Qaeda narrative.

The official was responding to a report on Wednesday from The Investigative Project on Terrorism, which uncovered a statement on the website of Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah claiming he met June 13 with Obama administration officials at the White House.

Bin Bayyah is vice president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, a group founded by Egyptian cleric Yusuf Qaradawi — a Muslim Brotherhood leader who has called for the death of Jews and Americans and himself is banned from visiting the U.S.

Bin Bayyah, for his part, has urged the U.N. to criminalize blasphemy. His group has spoken out in favor of Hamas and in 2009 issued a fatwa barring “all forms of normalization” with Israel.

The administration official confirmed Bin Bayyah met with Senior Director for Development and Democracy Gayle Smith and other members of the National Security Council staff. But the official said they were there to discuss poverty, global health efforts and Bin Bayyah’s own efforts to speak out against Al Qaeda.

We haven’t come across Bin Bayyah before, but his boss, Qaradawi, has been a regular feature here.


Over the years, Qaradawi has issued numerous religious ruling permitting, indeed requiring, the massacre of Jews. In 2009, he called for the Muslim world to complete Hitler’s goal of eradicating the Jewish people.

As for the US, in 2003, Qaradawi issued a religious ruling calling for the killing of US forces in Iraq.


A fatwa issued by al-Qaradawi, Meotti writes, permits the killing of Jewish unborn babies, on the logic that when Jews grow up they might join the Israeli army.

No wonder Obama wants to meet with this kind of cleric: he sounds like Planned Parenthood!


In Qatar, an influential Sunni Muslim cleric whose TV show is watched by millions across the region, fanned the sectarian flames ignited by the Syria conflict and urged Sunnis everywhere to join the fight against Assad.

“I call on Muslims everywhere to help their brothers be victorious,” Yusuf al-Qaradawi said in his Friday sermon in the Qatari capital of Doha. “If I had the ability I would go and fight with them.”

“Everyone who has the ability and has training to kill … is required to go,” said al-Qaradawi, who is in his 80s. “We cannot ask our brothers to be killed while we watch.”

He denounced Assad’s Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, as “more infidel than Christians and Jews” and Shiite Muslim Hezbollah as “the party of the devil.”

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.


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