August 2010



The Economist is generally considered one of the better journalistic bright spots for periodical subscribers. The editors lean to the conservative side, but usually provide articles with the background and rationale to make informative reading. However, a short article released in the latest issue is misinformed and borders on propaganda. There is no byline, at least in the online edition I read, but the writer is poorly informed about Yemen. It is true that Yemenite Jews have suffered because of the political actions of Israel. Like most Arab nations, Yemeni Arabs tend to side with the plight of the Palestinians. Yes, they are exposed to a steady stream of anti-Zionist news, but the government itself has protected the Jewish community. Most Yemenis do not swallow the government propaganda whole and there is still a great deal of respect for the Yemenite Jewish tradition in Yemen. The distinction between “Jew” and “Zionist” does exist.

Even if the author visited Sanaa and Jibla, he has totally missed the amount of unrest among the population. To state “Yemenis rarely protest publicly against their own miserable circumstances at home” is quite naive. (more…)


Calligraphic frieze in tomb of Moulay Ismail, Meknes, Morocco, 2008; photography by Daniel Martin Varisco


The right wing smells blood, perhaps not knowing in the case of the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, that it is from a self-inflicted wound. For a passionate rebuttal to the ludicrous Islamophobic comments of Newt and Sarah, listen to Keith Olbermann of MSNBC’s Countdown.

An if you want a more humorous spin that out-foxes Fox News coverage, see the latest by Jon Stewart.


The imam takes a gander at some notes before getting ready for the next round of prayers

There is an interesting blog called 30 Mosques, 30 States, where Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq are posting each day during Ramadan about their visits to different mosques, a different one each day of the month of Ramadan. They started out at the mosque closest to Ground Zero:

Day 1 – New York, Ground Zero Mosque
by Aman Ali, August 12, 2010

Dude, it’s just a mosque.

Bassam and I walked into Park 51, the site of the so called “Ground Zero Mosque,” expecting to feel transformed, knowing the fact that I was praying inside the place that’s practically been mentioned in the news every 20 minutes.

But all it felt like – was praying inside a mosque.

Bassam and I spent days debating whether or not we should visit Park 51, because we didn’t want to get sucked into the bickering over the building that’s dominated the news cycle for weeks.

But at about 8 p.m. tonight, we said to each other “Whatever, let’s go for it.” Since we broke our fast at the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem, we decided to pray Taraweeh, the Ramadan night prayer, at Park 51.

We hopped in our car and drove about 100 blocks to the place and found a security guard standing outside the building. In light of all the protests and animosity towards the mosque, I guess you can never be too careful. (more…)

by Steven C. Caton, The Middle East Channel, August 11, 2010

The Republic of Yemen is often spoken of in the press and in policy circles as a society on the verge of collapse (last year it was “another Somalia”), based largely on two claims, the first being the supposed weakness of its state, the other the supposed lawlessness of its tribal population that makes up the majority ethnic group (about seventy-five percent are settled agriculturalists in the mountains and another five per cent, nomadic Bedouin in the eastern desert). And supposedly being on the verge of collapse, Yemen is seen as vulnerable to take-over by terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda that threaten America’s and the region’s security. Let us consider how tribe and state, law and conflict operate in Yemen that few analysts seem to grasp when they make these pronouncements.

History may provide some perspective. There has been a state or dawlah in Yemen for thousands of years, whether the Sabaean state that built Marib Dam and was the reputed homeland of the Queen of Sheba, or the Islamic state created shortly after the advent of Islam which lasted for a thousand years, or the republican state that came into being in 1962 and has lasted until the present day, despite two bitter civil wars. To be sure, the state has waxed and waned in power and contracted or expanded in territory during this history, and it has faced formidable outside opponents, beginning with the Romans and most recently with al-Qaeda, but it has never fully collapsed or disappeared from the scene. It is unlikely to do so in the present in spite of arguments that the current regime is at a tipping point and about to fall apart because of an unprecedented number of seemingly intractable problems facing it (an ever weakening economy, unsustainable water consumption, projected diminished oil reserves, conflicts between the state and certain regional populations, rampant corruption, and let us not forget al-Qaeda). (more…)


On top of inheriting two wars and the worst economic recession in the United States since the Great Depression, President Obama has been gifted something else: a chorus of sore losers fueled by rightwing media mouths. The Birthers carry on in the good ole boy tradition of the John Birchers, trying to find any way to get a Black man out of the White House. The Tea Party is hardly a group of patriots holding their fire until they see the whites (their eyes are set on the blacks to be sure), since their own bloodshot eyes are green with envy. And then there is the great Alaskan wasteland, Sarah Palin, the nit-twitter, Grizzly grinning and over bearing it, who for a mere 100 grand will demonstrate how utterly vapid she is:

• 9/11 mosque=act of fitna, “equivalent to bldg Serbian Orthodox church@Srebrenica killing fields where Muslims were slaughtered” – Raza&Fatah 3:34 PM Aug 14th via Twitter for BlackBerry®

• Mr. President, why are they so set on marking an area w/ mosque steps from what you described, in agreement with many, as “hallowed ground”? 3:06 PM Aug 14th via web (more…)


How American Right-Wing Christians Are Waging ‘Spiritual Warfare’ in Northern Iraq
By Michael Reynolds, AlterNet
Posted on July 12, 2010, Printed on July 28, 2010

On a barren hillside outside Sulaymaniyah in southeast Iraqi Kurdistan sits a small compound of buildings clustered behind battered gray and ochre walls. Atop one wall is a large white sign glittering with gold and azure lettering that reads in English and Arabic: Classical School of the Medes. It is one of three new private schools in the region that teach a “Christian worldview,” the handiwork of American evangelicals from Tennessee.

Since the US occupation took hold, American evangelicals have established not only schools, but printing presses, radio stations, women’s centers, bookstores, medical and dental clinics, and churches in northern Iraq, all with the blessings and assistance of the Kurdistan government. Many of these efforts were funded in part by US taxpayer dollars, channeled through Department of Defense construction contracts and State Department grants.

In September 2003, just four months after US forces took down Saddam Hussein’s regime, 350 evangelical pastors and church leaders assembled in Kirkuk, where they were warmly welcomed by Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government. At that gathering, George Grant, a leader of Servant Group International, the evangelical organization in Nashville that set up the chain of Christian schools, declared that “Jesus Christ is Lord over all things; He is Lord over every Mullah, every Ayatollah, every Imam, and every Mahdi pretender; He is Lord over the whole of the earth, even Iraq!” (more…)

I thank a friend for sending along these historic images of the Crescent hotel in Aden, taken while the Yemeni port was under British colonial control.



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