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5th July, 2006

What do you think?

by Sunny at 2:02 pm    

Muslim soldier

Filed under: Current affairs
4th July, 2006

Who was al-Zarqawi?

by Leon at 5:42 pm    

Two news items have caught my eye today about Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, former Al Qaeda ‘leader’ in Iraq.

In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC on US Independence Day, Mr Khalilzad said the death of Zarqawi - the then leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq - had encouraged “other insurgent groups to reach out, because some were intimidated by Zarqawi. We want to know the [insurgent] groups that are reaching out - who they are, what capabilities they have, what areas they control.

But on the other hand, in terms of the level of violence, it has not had any impact at this point. As you know, the level of violence is still quite high,” he said. [BBC News]

So, the killing of al-Zarqawi has made little difference on ground in Iraq. Big surprise. But his life and death get more mysterious when you add the following to the puzzle:

Al-Qaida leaders sold out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to the United States in exchange for a promise to let up in the search for Osama bin Laden, the slain militant’s wife claimed in an interview with an Italian newspaper.

The woman, identified by La Repubblica as al-Zarqawi’s first wife, said al-Qaida’s top leadership reached a deal with U.S. intelligence because al-Zarqawi had become too powerful. She claimed Sunni tribes and Jordanian secret services mediated the deal.

“My husband has been sold to the Americans,” the woman said in an interview published Sunday. “He had become too powerful, too troublesome.” [Yahoo News]

Further down the pieces comes another twist to the tale:

On Monday, an Iraqi legislator said authorities found telephone numbers of senior officials in al-Zarqawi’s cell phone after his death. Waiel Abdul-Latif, a member of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s party, did not give names of the officials. But he said they included ministry employees and members of parliament.

Just who was al-Zarqawi? Who was he really working for? And why was he really killed? Inquiring minds want to know…

Murdered by the Indian army?

by Sunny at 3:14 pm    

In March 2000 just before Bill Clinton was due to visit India, 38 Sikhs were massacred in the Indian part of Kashmir. The government blamed Muslim militants but it seems Clinton knew what really happened. had a different account in his book until recently…

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Filed under: South Asia

My wife the fanatic

by Aparita at 2:50 am    

The aims and plans of the alleged 17 Canadian bombers who wanted to bomb Toronto has been splashed all over the international press. Less has been said about the wives of some of the men involved, particularly how their views co-incided with that of their husbands.

Second in the series of articles.

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3rd July, 2006

Absurd headline of the week

by Sunny at 2:45 pm    

It’s only the beginning of the week but the competition is unlikely to match the Daily Telegraph’s opinion that ‘To hate America is to hate mankind‘ for absurd headline of the week. Not only do they do a good job of mangling the difference between the US administration and its people, it ignores the huge diversity of opinion within the population on what is right and wrong and how the government should behave.

The article is a poor attempt to counter the results of an opinon poll that only 12% of Britons trust the US government to act wisely on the global stage. Who said Britons can’t see through Bush’s incompetence?

Most Britons see America as a cruel, vulgar, arrogant society, riven by class and racism, crime-ridden, obsessed with money and led by an incompetent hypocrite.

More than two-thirds who offered an opinion said America is essentially an imperial power seeking world domination. And 81 per cent of those who took a view said President George W Bush hypocritically championed democracy as a cover for the pursuit of American self-interests.

Yup. That about sums it up.

Filed under: United States
2nd July, 2006

The Empire strikes back

by Rohin at 2:19 am    

We’re out. Little in life seems to change. But for now I present to you a different angle to the World Cup, which I originally decided not to post, until today. (The picture above is explained below.)

This post was prompted by two things. Discussion about the World Cup with our Indian American contemporaries at Sepia Mutiny confused me somewhat. Most did not support America and many seemed rather anti-English. I thought better of posting anything then, but I received a text this evening, just as Rio Ferdinand wept.

My girlfriend is in Chennai, India, for a friend’s wedding. She told me that people were delighted and jumping for joy that England had crashed out and that no one in India supports England.

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Filed under: Culture, Sports, India
29th June, 2006

Israel wants war

by Al-Hack at 3:26 pm    

BBC reports:

Israeli troops have detained eight Palestinian ministers and dozens of officials from the ruling Hamas group in raids across the West Bank.

Sixty-four MPs and officials were seized, amid Israeli efforts to secure freedom for a captured soldier in Gaza.

The Israeli army dropped leaflets in northern Gaza urging residents to avoid moving in the area because of impending military activity

What’s to say apart from that Israel has thrown its brains out of the window? Hamas was being undermined by in-fighting and turf wars with Fatah. The Palestinian Authority was playing the right game in getting it to recognise Israel eventually. But that’s all gone now. This is a license to start a full scale war all over again, which is exactly what Hamas and Israel want. How stupider can Israeli leadership get?

Filed under: Middle East
28th June, 2006

Re-writing the British Raj

by Sunny at 3:08 pm    

Priyamvada Gopal, who is a professor at Cambridge university, has written a brilliant article in today’s Guardian, taking the British media to task over giving the British Raj a friendly tinge.

Good governance? More famines were recorded in the first century of the British Raj than in the previous 2,000 years, including 17-20 million deaths from 1896 to 1900 alone. While a million Indians a year died from avoidable famines, taxation subsidising colonial wars, and relief often deliberately denied as surplus grain was shipped to England.

Tolerance? The British empire reinforced strict ethnic/religious identities and governed through these divisions. As with the partition of India when 10 million were displaced, arbitrarily drawn boundaries between “tribes” in Africa resulted in massive displacement and bloodshed. Freedom and fair play? In Kenya, a handful of white settlers appropriated 12,000 square miles and pushed 1.25 million native Kikuyus to 2,000 restricted square miles. Resistance was brutally crushed through internment in detention camps, torture and massacres. Some 50,000 Kikuyus were massacred and 300,000 interned to put down the Mau Mau rebellion by peasants who wanted to farm their own land. A thousand peaceful protesters were killed in the Amritsar massacre of 1919.

Her article comes out of a discussion hosted by the BBC’s Andrew Marr on the British Empire a few weeks back. I heard it and thought it was a pile of shit, with both Marr and historian Niall Ferguson desperately trying to paint history with a more acceptable version of events. Can you imagine the British being uncivilised and bloody thirsty? Surely not! I mean haven’t they had thousands of years of great enlightened culture?

Update Also see this article in the New Statesman on the abuse Johann Hari got for his mentioning the atrocities of the empire [via Indigo Jo]

The “Taliban” is back

by Zak at 2:48 am    

An Army sent with insufficient numbers on, wrong information, a mission to root out terrorists from a lawless part of the world and as part of the War on Terror. Iraq? Nope! Welcome to Waziristan in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Here, the Taliban is coming back, and soon we will all hear about it.

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Filed under: South Asia, Pakistan
27th June, 2006

The audacity of Bush’s goons

by Sunny at 3:48 pm    

You have to laugh at the rubbish the Bush administrations comes out with, don’t you. What else can you do really. On Sunday the New York Times reported that:

Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

Are we surprised the Bush administration is trying to enroach the privacy of people across the world in its “war on terror”? Not really. But it gets funnier.

The same day Republican Peter King urged the Bush administration to prosecute the paper, saying: “We’re at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous.” He added it was “more concerned about a left-wing elitist agenda than it is about the security of the American people.” Unsurprisingly Dick ’shoot your face off’ Cheney weighed in. The NYT’s executive editor has defended himself in a letter in the paper.

It’s hilarious isn’t it. They want freedom of the press and self-criticism in other countries but the Bush administration does not want it in their own back yard. Anything that goes against their agenda can be declared treasonous.

Kofi break

by Rohin at 1:29 am    

Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General, will be stepping down at the end of this year. Speculation has begun as to who will be filling his eloquent, but ultimately somewhat ineffectual shoes.

Most commentators predict an Asian successor. It has been 34 years since an Asian sat at the helm of the UN, the Burma’s U Thant. Now, as more Western headlines concern the meteoric rise of India and China, Asia’s stature is growing apace. Russia and China, two of the veto-holding permanent members have announced that they will support an Asian candidate.

Kofi Annan himself has stated he would be in favour of a female successor, but he has little sway in the matter. The UN has never been headed up by a woman before, despite being in existence for some 60 years.

So far all the candidates in the running are Asian - and are men.

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26th June, 2006

Horn OK please

by Rohin at 3:01 am    

This story has popped up in a few places, but on Friday, the now 10-year-old Slate ran a piece about a new World Bank/New York/Chicago paper examining corruption and driving in India.

The researchers stated that equivalents of the DVLA (Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency) in different countries exist to ensure that all drivers are safe. The hypothesis studied was that corruption in this system will produce bad drivers. Guess what? It does!

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Filed under: Culture, Economics, India
22nd June, 2006


by Leon at 4:21 pm    

Simon Woolley’s article over at Comment Is Free has provoked some typical responses. Perhaps the failing of the article lays in the lack of context for some people? The word Diaspora is one that should be applied here, the article (whether you agree with the sentiment regarding black footballers) explores one facet of a Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) persons identity; their origins outside Britain.

Simon writes;

“As much of the world rightly enjoys the drama of the beautiful game, for me and many others around the globe a parallel story is unfolding: one that has its roots in slavery, colonialism, imperialism and survival. A story like no other, which unites millions of descendents of Africa in one supreme global moment: the World Cup.

The tournament began with 32 countries from six continents. Astonishingly, 22 of those countries, including Japan, Iran and Switzerland, have players of African descent. The raw data, however, cannot begin to tell the socio-political and human journey of so many of Africa’s peoples.” [The Guardian]

Of course not everyone views football within the context of an African Diaspora but virtually all football supporters exhibit some form of tribalism. Why is ok for British ex-pats to continue to support various British teams while living in Spain or Australia but not a black man to feel a connection with those he shares his ancestry?

To be honest, for me, the concept of Diaspora is rather complex one. I’m mixed race so my “loyalties” lay more with the people I know and the country I grew up in (I have the luxury of being able to pick and choose which cultures I draw inspiration from). I consider myself a global citizen as much as I consider myself a Londoner or Brit! But I recognise someone’s identity can be formed differently from me without it being a threat.

What is your identity made up of and which parts do you emphasise and why? Do you feel a connection to one Diaspora or another or are you content with simply being British?

21st June, 2006

What Happened to the Hippy Man?

by Rohin at 6:12 pm    

Hi everybody! Long time no see. I trust you have all been enjoying PP over the last few weeks. Sadly that’s all going to stop, as I’m back. And I have news (at the bottom)

I’ve recently read a fair amount of a book entitled ‘What Happened to the Hippy Man?‘ which is the story of Mike Thexton, a hostage aboard the tragic PA 073, hijacked by Palestinian terrorists in Karachi, twenty years ago. Thexton was in Pakistan mourning his brother, a doctor and mountaineer, who had died there a few years before. Aboard his Pan Am plane bound for home, four Abu Nidal Palestinian gunmen stormed in. The pilots managed to escape and the plane was stranded on the ground.

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Humiliation in Iraq

by Al-Hack at 1:42 pm    

Mash is, as usual, on the money:

But, the political debate in Washington ignores the reality in Iraq. The reality in Iraq is that the Bush Administration has succeeded beyond its wildest dreams in installing an Islamist regime in Iraq. The Islamists in Iraq have played the Bush Administration masterfully. They have used the American occupation as cover to do a little bit of house cleaning (ethnic cleansing) and have consolidated power within the military and the police forces. Having consolidated power, now it is time to give the Americans the boot.

In a particularly well-timed op-ed in the Washington Post, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq’s National Security Advisor, shows the United States the door

Although it may come as a surprise to the still significant number of Americans who believe we are bringing “freedom” to the Iraqi people. It should also not have been a surprise when the Iraqi government declared last week that they would grant amnesty to insurgents who had killed American troops. Even though the Iraqis backtracked from that declaration, it was nonetheless symptomatic of the environment in Iraq where Americans have long been viewed as occupiers.

I have long argued that the United States does more harm to Iraq and its own credibility by staying in Iraq. Our credibility is already damaged in Iraq. Withdrawing from Iraq under our own terms would not have damaged our credibility that much more. However, being told to leave by the Iraqi government will round out the humiliation. That is exactly what is now happening.

19th June, 2006

Belated roundup of articles and blogs

by Sunny at 8:31 pm    

I was supposed to post this yesterday but an extended BBQ delayed it. So while the weekly round-up should be on the weekend, better later than never eh.

This round-up includes I have written and the introduction of Nomad Fatwas, a new ‘free-thinking’ blog carnival.

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Filed under: Current affairs

Backlash to outsourcing

by El Cid at 2:35 pm    

In a guest post for Pickled Politics, El Cid is relieved by Powergen’s decision to stop outsourcing its call centres to India. A better decision over the long term or maybe they didn’t think it through properly?

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Filed under: South Asia, Economics
16th June, 2006

Help Begum stay!

by Sunny at 7:20 pm    

Begum is an Indian rape survivor who does not wish her full identity to be revealed for fear that her abusive ex husband will find her and kill her if she is forcibly returned to India.

Begum was ‘captured’ on Wednesday when she reported to her local immigration centre in Kent and taken to Yarl’s Wood Removal Centre. Her supporters who accompany her to her monthly signing last glimpsed her banging on the windows of the van that was transporting her to detention

Begum faces deportation to India on Saturday June 17th on flight AI 102 at 9.45am from Heathrow Airport.

Continue Reading...

War and peace

by Sunny at 4:04 pm    

Peace may come to Nepal sooner rather than later, after talks between Nepal’s Prime Minister and the Maoist rebels. BBC News has just sent out an alert saying the latter has decided to join the government. Hooray!?

Meanwhile, an Iraqi suicide bomber with explosives in his shoes blew himself up inside a mosque killing ten and injuring 20 people.

Filed under: Current affairs
15th June, 2006

Martrydom in Tamil kingdom

by Sunny at 10:19 am    

Update: I didn’t know at the time of posting that 60 people have died in SL because of a landmine bomb on a school bus. Truely sad.

BBC Online has an article on the culture of discipline, death and martyrdom amongst the Tamil Tigers and their fight for “liberation”. There is some talk about how everyone carries a little cyanide capsule with them because death is better than capture.

“We need to bite into the glass so that it will cut the skin on the inside of our mouth.” His calm, detached explanation is unsettling.

“Then the cyanide goes into the bloodstream. We’ll be feeling a fizzing at the back of our mouth after about seven seconds and then we die.”

They are led by the reclusive Velupillai Prabhakaran, accused of building an organisation around a personality cult. He is called the great leader and his picture is everywhere in rebel held areas.

Anyone who wants to join the suicide Black Tiger squad has to write him a letter of application. Before they carry out their suicide missions they are granted a meal with him. Religion is banned, as is alcohol and smoking. By claiming to be the sole representatives of the Tamil people, he has steeped the entire culture into one of self-sacrifice and martyrdom.

Many Tamils see the Tigers as a necessary evil. Time and again I have heard this view expressed: “I don’t agree with them totally, but as a Tamil we would have been wiped out without them putting our cause on the map.”

The last paragraph is interesting in the way it can relate to every murderous organisation, whether state sanctioned or some religious nutters.

My view is however that tolerating “necessary evil” is a bad idea. You either forge a path with the right ideals from the beginning or you will forever be enveloped in evil. Hence I don’t buy any ideology that says suicide bombers are necessary to make the people’s voices heard. The violence ends up being so central to the struggle that it takes over and finds justification even if the goal has been achieved. Just say no kids.

Filed under: South Asia, Sri Lanka
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