Archive for July, 2006

Is the Destruction of Hezbollah the Answer?

Israel has termed its invasion of Lebanon a preemptive move to safeguard its integrity and security against radical Islamic organizations like the Hezbollah. It is portraying the unfolding events in a way that the destruction of Hezbollah would be the panacea to a large part of the Middle East crisis.

However, what has to be understood is the fact that organizations like the Hezbollah do not run on mere ideologies or quests for material gains; they run on religious fervor and emotions. This means even if the rocket-and-rifle Hezbollah is gone, the fervor-and-zest Hezbollah is still there. Religious feelings and emotions never accept defeat. They reemerge, resurge and reestablish with very little financial means of subsistence. They are highly susceptible to inspiration and manipulation. They are resilient and formidable. Worst of all, they can potentially enjoy monetary, financial and technical backup from different states.

This means, even if Israel is successful in obliterating Hezbollah, the prospects for another such organization to form and foster relations with countries like Iran and Syria are healthy.

This helps us to realize that Israel ’s military campaign against Hezbollah is not the panacea for such a problem. If Israeli strategists and policymakers do not realize this, they are mere duffers. If they do and still continue their quest to pound Lebanon ’s infrastructure and people with bombs, they have grim intentions which they are hiding in the guise of an attack over Hezbollah.

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Repercussions of the Evacuation of Foreigners from Beirut

The international community is evacuating its citizens from Beirut. Evacuation procedures are due to complete in a few hours after the publication of this post. While to many this move may appear as a precautionary measure to safeguard foreigners, there is much more behind it.

Undeterred by the fact that it will do no harm to foreigners, Israel will definitely intensify its aerial attacks over Beirut and other Lebanese cities to unprecedented degrees. In this process, Israeli fighter jets are bound to do more harm to civilians and the infrastructure than to the Hezbollah militants. Experience has proven it: Of the 350-or-so people killed in the attacks so far, one-third were children and many more were civilian men and women; very few were Hezbollah militants. And those who back Israeli military action over Lebanon must know that the new round of attacks means more homes will be destroyed, more civilians will be killed and more injured people will die in hospitals due to a lack of medical facilities.

And, because Israel has bombed all roads and bridges leading to Beirut, food and medical supplies will not be able to reach the city. Power transmission lines have suffered. Water supply is affected as a result. Hospitals will go without medicine and operation theaters will have to run without power. And when hospitals don’t run, food and water don’t reach the people, power stays off and bombs weighing tons are dropped from the sky, a humanitarian crisis is bound to occur. Not to mention that it may also herald the demise of the American-installed democracy in Lebanon.

America, displaying a condemnable backing for Israel, seems to be showing no regard to its much endeared ideal, democracy. Also, it closing its eyes in order not to notice Israel’s illegal aggression in a sovereign country and the collective punishment of its civilians.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah has had remarkable achievements by any standard: It has been able to kill as many as 18 Israeli soldiers and retain the two soldiers it had kidnapped earlier this month. In addition, it has kept Israeli ground troops at bay in the Northern front, showing excellent terrain-fighting skills. Hezbollah has also made the Israeli public pay for the aggression of Israeli military commanders killing 33 civilians so far.

However, the most important fact worth noticing is, that Muslims, especially Shiites, in Damascus and Tehran in particular, and the world over in general, are rejoicing over Hezbollah’s surprising display of resilience. Many of them may, if summoned by Hezbollah, join in the battle. This may turn Lebanon into another Afghanistan and shatter its fledgling democracy. Resultantly, a situation far bleaker and more disastrous than any other witnessed so far may arise in the region.

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But Where Was the Warning?

December 26, 2004 turned tragic when an earthquake of magnitude 9.3 hit the Indian Ocean. In the days that followed, 275,000 people died in eleven countries including India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Myanmar and South Africa. Many lost their homes. Thousands lost their dear ones. Orphaned children were smuggled into lands far away. Thousands of families were ruined. Hundreds of thousands of lives, careers, hopes and aspirations were shattered.

In the months that followed, Indonesia, the worst hit country, in coordination with Germany, began installing a tsunami early warning system. The system, comprised of 15 modules, was scheduled to be completed by 2007. Its first two modules were installed in November 2005. After its completion, it was supposed to cover all of Indonesia’s coastal line and issue warnings in less than 15 minutes after an earthquake hit.

However, despite the early warning system, July 17, 2006 turned tragic too. An earthquake of magnitude 7.7 hit Indonesia again. Early estimates put the death toll near 400. Another 450 people are missing and some 52,700 have been displaced. The death toll, according to the Indonesian Vice Pesident, Jusuf Kalla, is expected to rise in the coming days.

Although aid efforts are underway, the critical question to be asked here is why, despite having much of the ‘early warning’ system in place, did the government not warn the public of the looming danger? The system by now is supposed to have enough integrity to detect tsunamis as big as this one. Besides, miles away, Japanese sensors sensed the coming dangers and issued warnings to parts of Indonesia and Australia. However, that was not enough; a government warning should have been issued. The lack of government warning not only caused people to stay unaware of the danger, but also to rush into the open sea to collect fish stranded as a result of the coming tsunami.

There can be two possible answers: Government inadequacy to issue warning, and scientific error. Tsunami warning systems cannot sense tsunami danger by themselves. They only relay data of ocean activity to the scientists stationed at warning centers. It is the scientists’ job to interpret the data and begin the string of warnings. Sometimes the data is misinterpreted and warnings are not issued.

If it is a government shortcoming, it is condemnable. If it is a scientific error, it is a reminder of the fact that despite the technological advancements, Mother Nature still has the upper hand.

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Update:

Jusuf Kalla, Indonesian Vice President, said the government didn’t have enough time to issue a warning as the tsunami hit too quickly.

Note: There are no warning sirens on Indonesian beaches. The warning system works by sending warnings to peoples’ landline and mobile phones and email boxes.

Afghanistan Man Beaten to the Brink of Death

A KEBAB delivery man who came to Croydon from Afghanistan for a “safer life” has been to beaten to the brink of death in a motiveless attack.

Hegran Ortak was so savagely beaten up he has lost his sense of smell, part of his eye sight and several of his teeth.

He was bottled, kicked and punched for 30 minutes – and has only this week been allowed home after more than a month recovering in hospital.

The 22-year-old needed a lifesaving 12-hour operation – and says the senseless beating has ruined his life.

At his home in Portland Road, South Norwood, he talked about the attack for the first time. Read more here.

Had this incident taken place in Pakistan or Iraq, it would have been called an act of Islamic terrorism. What do you think?

Rumsfeld in Afghanistan

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld arrived in Afghanistan on July 13. He met with President Karzai and discussed issues relating to Afghanistan’s collaborative efforts with the international community to suppress the Taliban resurgence and the country’s efforts to curb the cultivation of opium poppy. Also, he met with US military commanders and NATO officials to discuss plans for the military handover of Afghanistan to NATO.

Rumsfeld expressed his support for Karzai and praised his leadership. He lauded Karzai and his team’s achievements on various fronts including the offensive against Taliban and the subsequent peace prevalent in Afghanistan.

This visit shattered speculations in some Afghan circles regarding America’s growing discontent with president Karzai and his inefficacy to produce desirable results. It was speculated that, because President Karzai has failed to rid his government of maladministration and corruption, stop the cultivation of opium poppy and produce greater achievements, America was thinking of forcing radical changes in Karzai’s government. These ‘radical changes’ would, in the extreme case, force Karzai to resign.

Rumsfeld stung Pakistan, an important ally in the war on terror, for not doing enough to stop the operation of terrorist training camps. He said, “There is no question but that there is some cross-border activity… and it is something that needs to be worked on, on both sides of the border.”

Pakistan has already positioned some 80,000 troops on the border with Afghanistan and some 10,000 more troops are scheduled to be stationed soon to prevent illegal cross-border activities.

He ensured Afghanistan of his country’s continuous support.

He also called on European countries to help Afghanistan in its war on drugs. Afghanistan is currently the source of 90% of the overall illegal drug production in the world.

This post was also contributed to Publius Pundit.

Israeli Retaliation against Hezbollah Kills Civilians

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) — Hezbollah militants crossed into Israel on Wednesday and captured two Israeli soldiers. Israel responded in southern Lebanon with warplanes, tanks and gunboats, and said seven of its soldiers had been killed in the violence.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called the soldiers’ capture “an act of war,” and his Cabinet prepared to approve more military action in Lebanon…

Olmert said he held the Lebanese government responsible for the two soldiers’ safety, vowing that the Israeli response “will be restrained, but very, very, very painful.”

 

Israel retaliated by bombing bridges and Hezbollah positions and killing two Lebanese civilians. Kofi Anan, the UN General Secretary, condemned Israel’s offensive in Lebanon and called for an immediate release of the kidnapped soldiers.

Meanwhile, Israeli aggression in Gaza continued killing 23 people. Among those killed are nine members of a family on whose house a bomb was dropped.

Israel is defying all international treaties by continuing to use force to gain the freedom of its captured soldiers. In addition, it is not only defying norms of democracy by imprisoning the democratically elected Hamas officials, but also committing war crimes by killing innocent civilians.

 

However, international response has been disappointing: The UN, which has sensed the manslaughter and violation of laws, has no authority to take action. The US, a traditional backer of Israel, is legitimizing the use of force against civilians. The rest of the world, including the EU, has taken no serious action in the wake of the prevalent circumstances.

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An Overview of the Israeli Incursion of Gaza

Israeli troops started their Gaza incursion on June 28 with the objective of freeing Cpl. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held by Palestinians since June 25. So far, 51 Palestinian citizens have been killed and the only power station powering Gaza has been rendered dysfunctional in the raid. Bridges and power transformers have been destroyed in the offensive and Imports of foodstuffs into Gaza have been banned.

The military wing of Hamas, which is holding Cpl. Gilad Shalit, has called for the release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeili jails in return for his freedom. These calls have been rejected by Israeli authorities.

The political wing of the governing party in Palestine, Hamas, has called for negotiations to settle this dispute. The Israeli camp has rejected talks saying, “Such negotiations would support another kidnapping.” It also reiterated that the operation would continue until Israel achieved its objectives.

Major General Yoav Galant, commander of Israel’s southern region, said, “We are prepared to continue the operation a month, two months and, if need be, even more.” He continued, “The Palestinians will do their reckoning. They will count hundreds of dead terrorists; they will count the damaged infrastructure, the destroyed offices, the damaged factories.”

The European Union has shown concern over the continuous military operations in the area. Kofi Annan, general secretary of the United Nations, urged Israel to stop military activities, warning of the prospects of a humanitarian crisis in the area.

The united states, however, has been supportive of Israeli actions. “Let’s remember who started this,” U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns told CNN. “It was the outrageous actions of Hamas in violating Israel’s sovereignty, in taking the soldier hostage.”

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Qassam rockets kept assailing Israeli territory. So far, one Israeli has been wounded and three others, on whose house a rocket landed, have been treated for shocks. One rocket also landed on an Israeli school, but no damage was reported as the school was off.

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