Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Another bit from the Eurasia Research Centre mailing list, this time a translated article from the London-based Arabic newspaper al-Majallah containing an al-Qaeda claim that "God has turned to (Saddam Hussein) with forgiveness." According to the paper's sources, al-Qaeda and Saddam loyalists are now cooperating against the American and British forces in Iraq. There was no independent confirmation, so this remains in the realm of the "highly plausible" rather than the definite.

People from across the political spectrum in Iran continue to insist that there are no connections between al-Qaeda and Tehran, as seen in this article from the Iran Daily. In a new twist, Iran is demanding the extradition of a Mujahadeen-e Khalq terrorist wanted in connection with a June 1994 attack on a Mashhad shrine that killed almost a dozen people, according to RFE-RL. I haven't seen a U.S. response anywhere. Also, Afghan President Hamid Karzai praised Iran's role in promoting peace and stability in that country following a meeting with Iranian Commerce Minister Muhammad Shariatmadari.

This Washington Post story creates the impression that the recent flap over U.S. censorship of Iraqi TV was simple ineptitude. I do have a strong word about the issue of Qur'an readings, however: Let the Iraqis handle it. Qur'an readings are a staple of Middle Eastern and Muslim life. I recently went to an academic conference where Muslim speakers began their papers with the "In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate" which opens the Qur'an. Is it purely secular? No, but nor is having "In God We Trust" on the coinage. At the risk of sounding like a colossal nerd, I think a version of Star Trek's Prime Directive might be a good idea regarding whether we should try to impose American ways of doing things on others. True social evolution must come from within.

Finally, to follow up yesterday's post: Ariel Sharon today claims he was misunderstood when he said yesterday that Israel is occupying Palestinian territory, which caused a huge controversy. In addition, Shaul Yahalom, a member of the extreme right-wing National Religious Party said he was relieved after meeting Sharon because: "It would take a miracle for the Palestinians to fulfill the demands listed by Sharon."


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