Jump to content
Guests can now reply in ALL forum topics (No registration required!) ×
Guests can now reply in ALL forum topics (No registration required!)
In the Name of God بسم الله

Raza Mehkeri

Advanced Members
  • Content Count

    46
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Profile Information

  • Religion
    Muslim

Previous Fields

  • Gender
    Male
  1. The Rise of New Bloody War in the Middle East The advent of democracy and equality of citizens in the Middle East is not only a bad news for the current dictators of the Arab world, Al Qaeda and its Wahhabi affiliates are equally worried. Also in Pakistan and Afghanistan, Wahhabi share one common characteristic with the current Wahhabi rulers of Saudi Arabia, i.e., acute hatred for Shia who they consider infidels. The events of the Arab Spring have heightened long-standing tensions in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province. Just three days after large-scale protests started in Bahrain on 2011, protests began in the Eastern Province, which is a 30-minute drive across the causeway from Bahrain. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Saudi interior ministry vowed to crush the protests with an "Iron Fist" and has unleashed a media-smear campaign against protests and the Shiites in general. While protests subsided over the summer, they started again in October and have become larger ever since, leading to an ever more heavy-handed response from the security forces. The Eastern Province is home to virtually all of Saudi Arabia's oil and to a sizeable Shiite majority, or around 30 percent of Saudi Arabia's citizen population. The Wahhabi creed of Salafi Islam that the state sponsors in Saudi Arabia has developed a special hostility toward the Shiites. Saudi Shiite citizens in turn have long complained of discrimination in religious practice, government employment, and business, and overall marginalization. For decades, opposition groups formed by Saudi Shiites, both leftist and Islamists, as well as hundreds of petitions by Shiite notables, have had the same demands: an end to sectarian discrimination in government employment and representation in main state sectors including at the ministerial level; more development in Shiite areas; the strengthening of the Shiite judiciary; and an end to arbitrary arrests of Shiite for religious or political reasons. None of these demands would significantly undermine the position of the royal family, or otherwise threaten the integrity of Saudi Arabia. They would rather cement the current political system and buy the allegiance of two million people living on top of the kingdom's oil. The perception of systematic discrimination has led some Saudi Shiites to embrace revolutionary ideologies over the decades. While pro-Iranian groups still exist amongst Gulf Shiites, they are not the most powerful amongst Saudi Shiites and had largely renounced violence as a political tool since at least the mid-1990s. But Saudi Arabia's repressive response to the protests and the zero-concessions policy are providing fertile breeding ground for future opposition groups. A repetition of post-1979 Shiite politics, when hundreds of young Shiites left Bahrain and Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province to become active in regional revolutionary movements, seems possible. As the protests in Bahrain and particularly in Qatif receive only limited attention on Gulf-owned channels like Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, local Shiites are forced to watch the Iranian-sponsored Arabic-language Al Alam channel, Lebanese Hezbollah's Al Manar, Iraq's Ahlul Bait TV, or increasingly other pro-Assad channels to receive updates on the situation in their areas. The new cold war in the Middle East has turned into a fully-fledged media war, in which media outlets are either with the protests in Bahrain and Qatif and for Assad's regime, or with the protests in Syria and against the allegedly sectarian protests in Bahrain and Qatif. The situation for Saudi Shiites in the Eastern Province is no secret. The U.S. State Department's Annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom for the second half of 2010, the period immediately predating the Arab Spring, records arbitrary detentions, mosque closures, and the arrest of Shiite worshippers. U.S. diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks revealed that U.S. diplomats, and particularly the staff at its consulate in Dhahran, have an incredible amount of information on the local Shiite communities and seem almost obsessed with grievances they deem legitimate. But the specific problems of the Saudi Shiites almost never come up at high-level meetings with Saudi officials. This is not only due to the close Saudi and U.S. alliance. Americans sometimes share the suspicion of the Gulf Shiites, which permeates some of its allied regimes. This suspicion is partly to do with Iran, but also has its roots in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers, which killed 19 U.S. servicemen. Nine Shiite prisoners have been incarcerated since 1996 for their alleged membership in Hezbollah al-Hijaz and their involvement in the bombings. They were indicted in the United States in 2001, but as U.S. foreign policy priorities changed after September 11 they became "forgotten," the name they are known by amongst Saudi Shiites. The indictment hints at the involvement of Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran but no evidence has ever been made public. At the time some Americans called for retaliation against Iran as a response to this bombing. But after September 11, fingers began to point toward al Qaeda as involved in the attack, raising questions about the guilt of these prisoners. The Shiite prisoners cannot hope ever to be "rehabilitated" in one of the government's much advertised de-radicalization programs. It seems to be justified to at least ask for a public trial, a move repeatedly endorsed by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. But such a trial does not appear to be on the foreign-policy agenda of the United States. The behavior of the Saudi leadership only allows the conclusion that repression of the Shiites is a fundamental part of Saudi political legitimacy. The state does not want to change the position of the Shiites and Shiite protests are used by the state to frighten the Sunni population of an Iranian takeover of the oilfields with the help of local Shiites. Similar narratives have been propagated in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) media for months, at the cost of further deepening the sectarian divide in the Gulf States. The GCC intervention in Bahrain has severely worsened sectarian relations in the Gulf and beyond to levels not seen since the Iranian Revolution. But this open Saudi sectarianism has already had negative repercussions in Iraq, as well as in Syria, Lebanon, and Kuwait. Bahrain looks set for years of sectarian conflict, community relations have broken down completely, and the state is conducting a campaign of what Shiite activists call "ethnic cleansing." Rather than completely alienating the Shiites, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain should negotiate a social contract with them. Failing to do so will lead to years of instability with uncertain outcomes. And it is far from certain that other Saudis will not be encouraged by the Shiite protests, as a recent statement by liberal Saudis from all over the kingdom denouncing the crackdown in Qatif has shown. The West should press its allies, above all Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, to stop simply shooting and arresting their Shiite citizens and brandishing them as Iranian agents and traitors. The alienation of Shiite youth foments a perfect breeding ground for a new Gulf Shiite opposition movement. Even without external help for the local Shiite protesters, the area looks ripe for a return to the tense sectarian politics of the 1980s. The United States should in its own, and in the Gulf States', interest push for a real reconciliation between the Shiites of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and their governments. Otherwise, sectarianism will come to dominate the Gulf, to the detriment of all.
  2. Anatomy of a Massacre Dateline SBS Australia What really happened on the night of March 11 when 17 Afghan civilians were massacred in Kandahar province? Many Afghans, including some of the survivors that night, believe more than one U.S. soldier was present in the two villages where the killings took place. With unprecedented access to Afghan military investigators, Yalda Hakim travels to the villages where the massacre took place and interviews survivors of the attack, as well as Afghan guards at the US military base that housed the alleged gunman. US soldier Robert Bales is in custody, facing charges of mass murder, but Afghan investigators suspect there may have been at least one other killer involved. INTERVIEW WITH YALDA - Yalda Hakim explains to SBS Radio's World News Australia how she was able to get such unprecedented access to the massacre investigation. Posted March 30, 2012 http://youtu.be/gnueG4I7Q9g
  3. yes, indeed part of the article is from Mr Akhter Ali, and this was not my intention to hide his name, he is very famous writer and i do respect him very much. yes, indeed part of the article is from Mr Akhter Ali, and this was not my intention to hide his name, he is very famous writer and i do respect him very much.
  4. CNG is made by compressing natural gas (which is mainly composed of methane [CH4]), to less than 1% of the volume it occupies at standard atmospheric pressure. It is stored and distributed in hard containers at a pressure of 200–248 bar (2900–3600 psi), usually in cylindrical or spherical shapes. Pakistan currently has the highest number of vehicles running on CNG in the world followed by Argentina, Brazil and Iran. Pakistan also has the highest number of CNG stations in the world. Majority of private vehicles have converted to CNG because of cheaper price as compared to petrol. Only luxury cars and official vehicles now run on petrol. Almost all car manufacturers in Pakistan (except Honda) now produce company fitted CNG kit versions. The genie of CNG has been strengthened, if not created, by the present government by adopting a policy of making Diesel more expensive and levying more taxes on it than petrol. In almost all economies of the world, Diesel is kept cheaper than Petrol due to the obvious reason of its use in the public transport system. It also shows how quickly the market adapts to the price signal. Public transport system appears to have converted itself to the CNG, Diesel having been made expensive both due to taxation policies and as well as due to higher international market prices. It is not, however, easy for government to absorb the loss in revenue, keeping in view the already low receipts and budgetary deficits. It finances the subsidies on Electricity, partly, from the oil taxation and levies. Petroleum taxation has been considered desirable in most countries as a source of revenue. It has been classically considered taxation on luxury, pollution and road user charge. This has worked earlier when international oil prices were low. In that regime, sometimes importing countries’ governments earned more revenue than oil producing and exporting countries. No more, today oil prices affect the lives of the poor more than any body else. In the longer run scenario, barring transitional periods such as those prevailing these days, it may be advisable to adopt zero-energy taxation, whereby for example, oil taxation income balances subsidies elsewhere, say in electricity and perhaps vice versa. It may be worthwhile to have a fresh look at the petroleum pricing policy. Taxes and levies on Diesels may be reduced and eliminated making it cheaper. Also a seasonal pricing policy making Diesel further cheaper in winters than in summers. One may have to revert to quarterly or half yearly revision of petroleum pricing as opposed to the monthly one, in order to implement a seasonal policy. There are limits to the enhancement of CNG tariff, as the recent CNG strikes and later negotiations have shown, as a result the CNG tariff enhancement had to be halved.CNG business interest would, however, resist reduction in margin which would decrease their market share. On the other hand government’s right and role of making public policy in the interest of larger good cannot be done away with under political pressure. Political conditions may be different next time. However, quick reversal in an entrenched market is neither feasible nor politically advisable. Long term signals should be recognized by the CNG business interests and refrain from bribing their way into getting more licenses despite a ban. Ban in fact increases the margins of the graft. CNG sellers should see the writing on the wall. At current prices they enjoy a gross margin of 100%; natural gas is sold to them at Rs 651 per Million Btu , which they sell at Rs 1384 per Million Btu. If imported LNG is sold to CNG stations , it would cost the latter around Rs.1600/- per Million Btu. Assuming a gross margin of 100%, CNG price would be Rs.3200/- per Million Btu, as against the current retail price of Diesel at Rs.2739/-,16.8 % higher than Diesel. If by some magic, their gross margin is kept constant at Rs 650/- per MBtu, CNG price would come down to be Rs.2250/- per million Btu, 17 % lower than Diesel. Practically, there would be no CNG-Diesel price differential, as the gross margin would go up. By the same token, LPG may not be able to acquire a reasonable market share at the prevailing price differential, unless Auto-LPG chain becomes more efficient. It appears that LPG has been successful in Europe due to high taxation on Gasoline and Diesel, making LPG attractive. Due to low income of consumers, high taxation on Petroleum should not be expected or recommended. In India also, high taxation on Gasoline and cross subsidies have, perhaps, made LPG viable. Also, GOP may have to develop an Exit policy for CNG stations. For example, CNG stations which have already worked for ten years may be delisted from supplies, so as to give opportunity for newer investments to recoup their money. Such stations may be given licenses for Auto-LPG, if it becomes viable. CNG businessmen, however, have a valid point. They argue that CNG sector would accept its share of burden and difficulties as other users would in case of hire prices and lesser availability. It should be done proportionally and that CNG sector should not be closed down arbitrarily. Investments have been made on the instance of the government policy. It may, however, be noted that only a few countries have followed the CNG band wagon in a low price and abundant gas regime and most of the world has stayed away from it .In fact ,countries like New Zealand have opted out of it. There is, however, a redeeming and legitimizing feature of CNG which falls in the domain of public transport in urban areas. CNG is a clean fuel. Under subsidies, it can be a vehicle for organizing an affordable and pollution free public transport. Eventually CNG appears to be surviving in that limited role.
  5. From the beginning the United States has been directly behind the unrest in Syria. In fact, America's involvement in destabilizing Syria began years before the admittedly US-engineered Arab Spring (2) even unfolded in a premeditated plot to upturn the entire Arab World and reorder it according to their own corporate-financier and hegemonic geopolitical interests. In a 2007 speech given to the Commonwealth Club of California (3), US Army General Wesley Clark would state that in 1991, then Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz said the US had 5-10 years to clean up the old Soviet "client regimes" before the next super power rose up and challenged western hegemony. Clark claimed that this, along with the aftermath of 9/11 constituted a policy coup where Richard Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and the other members of the of Project for a New American Century had hijacked US foreign policy to destabilize and turn the nations of the Middle East upside down - much the way they are now. Clark would go on to say that shortly after September 11, 2001, while at the Pentagon, a document handed down from the Office of the Secretary of Defense indicated plans to attack and destroy the governments of 7 countries; Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Lebanon and Libya. Clearly the United States has already "attacked and destroyed" Iraq, which in 2003 was invaded and subsequently occupied for nearly a decade at the cost of nearly a million lives including over 4,400 US soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines, and trillions of dollars of taxpayer money. Likewise Libya was destabilized and invaded by proxy through a combination of US-led NATO forces and US State Department listed terrorist organizations including the (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (listed #27) lead by Abdul Hakim Belhaj.
  6. Saying of Prophet of Islam Mohammad (PBUH & HF) onTruth He is not of me who, when he speaketh, speaketh falsely; who, when he promiseth, breaketh his promises; and who, when trust is reposed in him, faileth in his trust. No man is true in the truest sense of the word but he who is true in work, in deed, and in thought. Strive always to excel in virtue and truth. It is not worthy of a speaker of truth to curse people. Appropriate to yourselves the truth. Avoid lying. Say what is true, although it may be bitter and displeasing to people.
  7. Salamun-Alay-Kum Brother, yes indeed they allow me to have my point of view across but after just 3 weeks they banned my membership to write any more, because they do not like to see the 'TRUTH'.
  8. We have become conditioned to hearing of Israel’s perpetual insecurity and its gallant and relentless struggle for survival. Consequently, any change in the balance of power in the Middle East, such as would be the case were Iran to acquire a nuclear capability, is interpreted, virtually without question, as an existential threat to Israel. In reality, what is threatened by a nuclear Iran is not peace and stability, certainly not Israel’s survival, but rather its total military dominance in the region, symbolized by it being the sole possessor of nuclear weapons. In truth, we have nothing to fear from a nuclear Iran. In fact, it will probably prove an asset to peace and stability by providing a much needed deterrent to America’s and Israel’s unrestrained use of military violence and terrorism. Certainly the world can be a dangerous place and there are, no doubt, those who seek to further their personal or national interest through war, terrorism, and intrigue. Israel may have its own agenda, but the United States must be vigilant and not succumb to the political blackmail and intimidation of any nation, or to the undue influence of powerful lobbying cabals such as AIPAC. We do live in perilous times and the threat to America and to its people is real, grave, and immediate. But this threat is not from Iran, or even from al Qaeda, or the Taliban. So let us debate, therefore, the peril we face from the insatiable greed of corporate executives and Wall Street banksters, from the influence of the Military Congressional Industrial Complex, and from the corruption of our democracy by political leaders who represent and champion only the interests of the elite and the wealthy few at the expense of the many. Let us debate how we can become a responsible member of the international community, respected for our moral integrity and rigorous adherence to the law, not feared and hated for our military bravado and prowess. Let us debate the restoration of our Democracy and the values of freedom and equal opportunity for all. Let us debate an end to our policy of Gunboat Diplomacy and a beginning of the hard work of negotiating with those nations with whom we may have differences. And most importantly, let us debate the creation of a world in which all people, whether American, Israeli, Iranian, or Palestinian, whether Muslim, Christian, or Jew, are treated with respect, fairness and dignity. Some may say that such discussions are futile and the hoped for outcome unrealistic and impractical. While discussions of peace, understanding, and tolerance may certainly require skill and patience, they are no more unreasonable and fantastical than continuing the failed tactics of war and terrorism and expecting different results.
  9. The outcome of the war in Iraq and the de-facto takeover of Iraqi politics by Shia parties as resulted in "push-back" reaction in many Sunni Arab states, in particular in Bahrain and Syria. The behind-the-scenes but direct involvement of Gulf States like Qatar in the war in Libya and the transformation of the Arab League into a "US/NATO invitation committee" clearly shows that the rich oil sheikdoms are becoming concerned and have decided to counter what they perceive as the "Shia crescent's" threat. But let's remind ourselves of what we are talking about here: the Shia crescent is nothing else but a list of countries where the Shia have been systematically and brutally repressed and excluded from the political process either by secularist (Shah in Iran, Saddam in Iraq), Wahabi zealots (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia) or a mix of both (Lebanon). It also happens that these are the parts of the Middle-East in which most oil can be found. In other words, the Shia crescent is nothing else but the territories where the Western Empires have used local Sunni proxies to oppress and impoverish the majority population while stealing their natural wealth. This is what all this nonsense about the "terrorist Mullahs" and the "Shia threat" really is designed to conceal: that the Shia, inspired by Iran and Hezbollah, are engaged in a national liberation struggle which threatens all those billionaires which have been in bed with the British, the USA and the Israelis since day one. Everywhere you look, Sunni leaders, and in particular of the Wahabi type, have been working hand-in-hand with the Zio-American interests, even at the clear detriment of the interests of the local Muslim population (Balkans, Caucasus, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, etc.). Oh sure, there are regular clashes between the US and various Wahabi groups worldwide, but they are tactical, local, in nature. In the big picture the West and the Wahabis have always walked in lockstep with each other (as seen recently in the case of Libya). And don't let the fact that the Shia mostly deny all this deceive you: that denial of the obvious reality is an old Shia survival technique destined to blame any Shia-Sunni tensions on any and all conceivable causes but the obvious one: the religious one. I think that this is a very misguided approach, but it has been historically the one most Shia have chosen: Shias much rather believe themselves to be a part of the big Islamic "Ummah" than to contemplate the outright distressing possibility that most of the Muslim world is hostile towards them (which is what the historical record shows). The civil war in Syria really brought it all out in the open and if in the past one could debate the putative successes of Iranian diplomacy with its Gulf neighbors and the various smiles and hugs it resulted in, but the fact is that Iran's neighbors are now all joining forces against it. Even Turkey, which tends to be cautious in its policies towards Iran is now fully involved in the external intervention in Syria, which is another bad sign for Iran. As for Hezbollah, it always new that all the Arab and Sunni expressions of support for its causes were just that - empty words, lip-service to the personal popularity of Hassan Nasrallah, but that in reality Hezbollah had no other friend or ally except Iran. In his famous 2006 "Divine Victory speech" Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah said the following: The people of Lebanon gave strong proof to all the peoples of the world. The Lebanese resistance provided strong proof to all Arab and Islamic armies. Arab armies and peoples are not only able to liberate Gaza and the West Bank and East Jerusalem, they are simply capable of regaining Palestine from sea to river by one small decision and with some determination. The problem is that when one is torn between two choices and is asked to choose between his people and his throne, he chooses his throne. When he is asked to choose between Jerusalem and his throne, he chooses his throne. When he is asked to choose between the dignity of his homeland and his throne, he chooses his throne. What is distinct about the resistance movements in Lebanon and Palestine is that they chose the dignity of their people, holy places, and freedom and offer their leaders, sons, and dear ones as sacrifices to join the throne of God Almighty. These words are a direct slap in the face of all the hapless Sunni and secular (Baathist) Arab leaders who literally for decades drowned the world in fiery speeches and yet have never achieved anything: from the Wahabi fat cats of the Gulf, to the Masonic Baath leaders of Lebanon, to the "progressive/popular" secular leftists leaders of the various Palestinian factions, none of them ever managed to scure even a modest victory against Israel. Compare that to the Shia who defeated the USA in Iran, then defeated the USA again in Iraq, and then defeated Israel's four brigades, three reserve divisions and entire Air Force and Navy with roughly one thousand second rate Hezbollah soldiers (the best Hezbollah fighters were all kept north of the Litani river). What Hassan Nasrallah is saying is this: the reason why the Arab and Islamic world was always defeated is because it was lead by unworthy leaders who care about their thrones more than anything else. Such talk is tantamount to a death threat to all these leaders and they are now "circling the wagons" under the protection of Uncle Sam and his Israeli overlords to stop the Shia liberation movement.
  10. From time to time, I read about condemnations of Islam coming from non-Islamic groups, especially concerning the all-too-common violence perpetrated in the name of religion. Indeed there is plenty to condemn. Salafi fundamentalist despite verbally professing a desire for peace and justice in the world, are actually pro-war, pro-homicide and pro-violence in practice (or they may be silent on the subject, which is, according to moral theology, the same as being pro-violence). I use the term fundamentalist in the sense that the religious person, who ascribes to a fundamentalist point of view, believes, among other dogmatic belief, that their scriptures are inerrant and thus they can find passages in their holy books that justify homicidal violence against their perceived or fingered enemies, while simultaneously ignoring the numerous contradictory passages that forbid violence and homicide and instead prescribe love, hospitality, mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation. Behind the scenes, of course, there are hidden elites — amoral, politically and financially motivated operatives who are embedded in their religious organizations — who, through the strength of their political power, can easily manipulate the followers into clamoring for sectarian war. Though history has long since been forgotten or ignored, the true followers of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), rejected violence, tried to return good for evil, fed the hungry, did acts of mercy and unconditional love and tried to make friends out of their enemies (by caring for them, feeding them, praying for them and certainly refusing to kill them or pay for somebody else to kill them). Soon after the death of Prophet, Islam became a religion of justified violence, contrary to the teachings and modeling of Prophet, and it remains that way until this very hour. The followers of that very Salafi Muslims should be courageously “going to the streets” and saying “NO” wherever and whenever fear and hatred raise their ugly heads and try to provoke violence — no matter if it is coming from anywhere – or from within the local Sheikh. Thank You, Raza Mehkeri Houston, Texas
  11. Love, the deepest human commitment, the force that defies empirical examination and yet is the defining and most glorious element in human life, the love between two people, between children and parents, between friends, between partners, reminds us of why we have been created for our brief sojourns on the planet. Those who cannot love—and I have seen these deformed human beings in the wars and conflicts are spiritually and emotionally dead. They affirm themselves through destruction, first of others and then, finally, of themselves. Those incapable of love never live. Love, when it is deep and sustained by two individuals, includes self-giving—often tremendous self-sacrifice—as well as desire. For the covenant of love recognizes both the fragility and sanctity of all human beings. It recognizes itself in the other. And it alone can save us, especially from ourselves. Love is an action, a difference we try to make in the world. To love that which should unite us requires us to believe there is something that connects us all, to know that at some level all of us love and want to be loved, to base all our actions on the sacred covenant of love, to know that love is an act of will, to refuse to exclude others because of personal difference or race or language or ethnicity or religion. It is easier to be indifferent. It is tempting to hate. Hate propels us to the lust for power, for control, to the Hobbesian nightmare of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. Hate is what people do when they are distressed by uncertainty and fear. If you hate others they will soon hate or fear you. They will reject you. Your behavior assures it. And through hate you become sucked into the sham covenants of the nation, the tribe, and you begin to speak in the language of violence, the language of death. Love is not selflessness. It is the giving of one’s best self, giving one’s highest self unto the world. It is finding true selfhood. Selflessness is martyrdom, dying for a cause. Selfhood is living for a cause. It is choosing to create good in the world. To love another as one loves oneself is to love the universal self that unites us all. If our body dies, it is the love that we have lived that will remain—what the religious understand as the soul—as the irreducible essence of life. It is the small, inconspicuous things we do that reveal the pity and beauty and ultimate power and mystery of human existence.
  12. Now drones are also being used domestically for non-military purposes, raising significant privacy concerns. For example, this past December, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) purchased its ninth drone. It uses these drones inside the United States to patrol the U.S. borders—which most would argue is within its agency mandate—but it also uses them to aid state and local police for routine law enforcement purposes. In fact, the Los Angeles Times reported in December that CBP used one of its Predators to roust out cattle rustlers in North Dakota State and local police are also using their own drones for routine law enforcement activities from catching drug dealers to finding missing persons. Some within law enforcement have even proposed using drones to record traffic violations. Drones are capable of highly advanced and almost constant surveillance, and they can amass large amounts of data. They carry various types of equipment including live-feed video cameras, infrared cameras, heat sensors, and radar. Some newer drones carry super high resolution “gigapixel” cameras that can “track people and vehicles from altitudes above 20,000 feet[,] . . . [can] monitor up to 65 enemies of the State simultaneously[, and] . . . can see targets from almost 25 miles down range.” Predator drones can eavesdrop on electronic transmissions, and one drone unveiled at DEFCON last year can crack Wi-Fi networks and intercept text messages and cell phone conversations—without the knowledge or help of either the communications provider or the customer. Drones are also designed to carry weapons, and some have suggested that drones carrying weapons such as tasers and bean bag guns could be used domestically. Many drones, by virtue of their design, their size, and how high they can fly, can operate undetected in urban and rural environments, allowing the government to spy on Americans without their knowledge. And even if Americans knew they were being spied on, it’s unclear what laws would protect against this. The Supreme Court has also held that the Fourth Amendment’s protections from unreasonable searches and seizures may not apply when it’s not a human that is doing the searching. None of these cases bodes well for any future review of the privacy implications of drone surveillance.
  13. The Real Story Versus the Cover Story: I believe the US will exploit the situation to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. But, even more importantly, the US will target Iran's conventional missiles. Indeed, I believe this is the real reason for US sanctions in the first place, and for the buildup of tensions in recent days. Despite public perceptions, and all the rhetoric about nukes, the present crisis has nothing to do with Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program. In my opinion, that is just a cover story. The real issue is the fact that Iran has upgraded its medium range conventionally-armed missiles with GPS technology, making its missiles much more accurate. This means Iran can now target Israel's own nuclear, bio and chemical weapons stockpiles, located inside Israel, as well as the Dimona nuclear reactor. In short, Iran has achieved a conventional deterrent to Israel. Therefore, statements by Iranian officials that Iran has no nuclear weapons program are in my view probably correct. Presently, Iran does not need nukes to deter Israel. It can do so with its GPS-guided medium range missiles. The Israelis are no doubt gnashing their teeth over this, because they now find themselves threatened by their own WMD stockpiles, and by their own nuclear reactors, especially Dimona, all of which have become targets. A few direct hits by Iran could cause a toxic plume, killing thousands of Israelis. A worst case might signal the end of the Jewish state. It is important to realize that Iran would never launch a pre-emptive strike on Israel because the Iranians know that the US/Israeli response would be devastating. However, if Iran comes under attack first, all bets are off. Iran will defend itself. A counter attack on Israel cannot be ruled out because Iranian leaders understand clearly (even if the American people do not) that the crisis has been manufactured, on Israel's behalf. I believe the present crisis has been manufactured to create the pretext for a US air campaign to take out Iran's conventional missile sites. The US will also target Iran's nuclear facilities, but the primary target will be Iran's conventional missiles. The US will be doing Israel's bidding. The Zionist tail will be wagging the servile US dog. Obviously, you can't generate public support for such a bombing campaign, on Israel's behalf. Hence the cover story about nukes and the alleged Iranian threat to wipe Israel off the map, all of which is untrue but very effective propaganda nonetheless. Early in the war, US naval forces in the Gulf will also come under attack. No mistake, Iran has enough anti-ship cruise missiles to pose a grave threat to the US naval presence in the Gulf. Thousands of US sailors are now in harm's way, and at risk. We must rally to prevent such a war. Peace activists must now marshal every asset for peace that we possess. The American people need to know the truth. This is a phony crisis. Yet the danger is very real. Now is the time to speak out with all of our strength. Tomorrow could come too late.
  14. Welcome to an edgy world where a single incident at an energy “chokepoint” could set a region aflame, provoking bloody encounters, boosting oil prices, and putting the global economy at risk. With energy demand on the rise and sources of supply dwindling, we are, in fact, entering a new epoch -- the Geo-Energy Era -- in which disputes over vital resources will dominate world affairs. In 2012 and beyond, energy and conflict will be bound ever more tightly together, lending increasing importance to the key geographical flashpoints in our resource-constrained world. In the years to come, the location of energy supplies and of energy supply routes -- pipelines, oil ports, and tanker routes -- will be pivotal landmarks on the global strategic map. Key producing areas, like the Persian Gulf, will remain critically important, but so will oil chokepoints like the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca (between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea) and the “sea lines of communication,” or SLOCs (as naval strategists like to call them) connecting producing areas to overseas markets. More and more, the major powers led by the United States, Russia, and China will restructure their militaries to fight in such locales. You can already see this in the elaborate Defense Strategic Guidance document, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership,” unveiled at the Pentagon on January 5th by President Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. While envisioning a smaller Army and Marine Corps, it calls for increased emphasis on air and naval capabilities, especially those geared to the protection or control of international energy and trade networks. Though it tepidly reaffirmed historic American ties to Europe and the Middle East, overwhelming emphasis was placed on bolstering U.S. power in “the arc extending from the Western Pacific and East Asia into the Indian Ocean and South Asia.” In the new Geo-Energy Era, the control of energy and of its transport to market will lie at the heart of recurring global crises. This year, keep your eyes on three energy hot spots in particular: the Strait of Hormuz, the South China Sea, and the Caspian Sea basin. One thing is certain: wherever the sparks may fly, there’s oil in the water and danger at hand in 2012.
  15. Elementary arithmetic routinely holds keys to much more complex political algebra. At the moment, for example, it appears that fairly simple regards explain the bizarre conduct of the Arab League which, contrary to reasonable expectations, aligned itself with the West in destabilizing Syria and keeping Bashar Assad under pressure. It became clear immediately when protests erupted in Syria in March, 2011 that Washington would welcome serious arguments in favor of Assad's ouster. The unrest in the country came as a predictable – and by no means the last - phase in the sequence of revolts inspired by the US and other countries in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Bahrain with the aim of tailoring the maps of North Africa and the Middle East to the liking of global heavyweights. Later on, the slogan of regime change in the name of “democracy” similarly popped up in Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, and Oman. It is common knowledge that the relations between Arabs and Israel dominate the entire realm of Middle Eastern politics. They could still be perceived as a background theme in Europe or the US, but in fact Washington and the European capitals have made it the cornerstone of their strategy to skillfully capitalize on the region's enduring conflict. From its birth date and on, Israel plays the role of the West's – mostly, Washington's – political instrument applied to fracture the Arab world. Unlike the Arab League, Damascus has no chance to get heard in the West. Considering that Syria was among the founders of the League, it would be interesting to get an idea from whose name the group might be speaking under current circumstances. This is the point at which simple arithmetic should come into play. The Arab League is a motley assortment of 22 countries. It counts on board Qatar, the world's champion in terms of the per capita GDP drawing over 50% of it and 70% of the national budget from the oil and gas export. Qatar's top oil and LNG clients are Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, and all of them being US political allies. Kuwait, another Arab League country, holds 9% of the global oil reserves, owes around 95% of its budget revenues to the oil export, and ranks 7th in the world in per capita GDP. Kuwait's list of buyers is more or less the same as above: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the US, and Singapore. In Algeria, oil and gas export accounts for 60% of the budget revenues. The export is mainly absorbed by the US, Italy, Spain, France, the Netherlands, and Canada. The core businesses of the United Arab Emirates are fuel re-export plus the sales of crude and natural gas. The country extracts 2.2 bpd of oil which mostly goes to Japan. The key trade partners of Morocco are Spain, France, the US, Belgium, and Italy. Overall, the biggest Arab League economies thrive on oil and, by virtue of energy export, depend entirely on the West and its oriental allies. It is an easy guess that the Arab interests do not top the priorities lists of those who sit on such energy riches. At the same time, countries like Mauritania, where the per capita GDP measures 185th on the global scale, most of the foodstuffs come from France, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, and the US, and 40% of the population are struggling below the poverty level, or Somalia, which survives on piracy and semi-nomadic cattle-breeding, naturally have almost no say in the Arab League's affairs. The survey gives a perfect picture of how easily Washington can direct the Arab League and use it as an anti-Arab weapon.
×
×
  • Create New...