Friday, 4 July 2014

Honest analysis of Islam by a Non-Muslim

 This is the first time I have read an article that is factually correct probably due to a high sense of honesty and sincerity, from a non-Muslim.


However there is a slight bias probably caused by the practises of many Muslim communities, the belief that Islam discriminates against women. His ultimate solution is to give women more power. Unfortunately Islam has produced many women state leaders and many Muslim communties place women above men, which is again unlike most other religions. In Adat Perpatih among Minangkabau people where only women are allowed to own properties. In some Bajau tribes where all income go to women.

The only solution is to go back to common sense in interpreting the Quran and placing the Quran at the highest precedence, that other documents especially the Hadith, cannot overide. If the Quran clearly says that "There is no compulsion in religiion", then, we cannot force people to Islam no matter what. Even the phrase is very general and covers all aspects of beliefs in religion so no excuse to interpret it in any other way just because of the alleged practises of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

The rise of ISIS: Do the answers lie in Islam?


A new spectre is haunting the world - the spectre of yet another terrorist outfit - the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) - that has suddenly fought its way to capture huge swathes of territory in West Asia. It promises to be a nastier version of al Qaeda, and now accuses the old al Qaeda of forgetting its initial ideals.
Volunteers who have joined the ISIS. Reuters
Volunteers who have joined the ISIS. Reuters
Academics will again go about explaining how the failure of President Obama to act in time and the exclusionary nature of the Iraqi Shia leadership gave space for Sunni-based ISIS to grow, but this will be only a partial explanation. The real explanation lies at the heart of Islam and it goes back to the time of the Prophet.
Islam is not just a religion; it is also a system of accumulating and consolidating political power. Its ideology is perfectly suited for these goals.
This is what explains how a rag-tag bunch of thugs and extortionists morphed into an all-conquering army and now holds several towns and large territories in Iraq and Syria. Soon ISIS could be creating a caliphate - a dream aborted in Afghanistan after the American invasion pushed Mullah Omar out. If ISIS succeeds, it will become a new power centre for political Islam. But it won’t be the only one, for we still have the Shia power centre in Teheran, and several others elsewhere.
Islam is unique not for its great messages of brotherhood and justice, which are certainly inspiring, but in how it formally allows spiritual and temporal power to reside together. They reinforce one another.
The Prophet was not just the spiritual leader of the early Muslims, but also their political leader and head of the army. The ideology of Islam - an extraordinary faith in one god, and none other - is exactly the right one for claiming and consolidating power and building empire.
Even though there are other religions that talk of only one god - Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism, among them - all of them, at least in their modern forms, are more accommodating and pluralistic than Islam. The latter has been rigid in its belief not only about one god, but in not separating power from religion.
Sigmund Freud, in his book Monotheism, writes about how monotheism evolved as an important adjunct to the growth of empire. Most ancient societies were polytheistic and plural. The worship of many gods was the norm even though small tribal societies had their favourite gods. But once tribes became kingdoms and kingdoms became small empires, the rulers - both to consolidate power and to retain it - saw the need to adopt some form of monotheism as state ideology. At its basic level, monotheism is about concentrating power in one person or institution.
The first monarch who sought to go monotheist was the Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep IV, who in the 14the century BC declared Aten as the supreme god. His priests did not like it much, and his brand of monotheism - which some also called henotheism - did not outlive him in polytheistic ancient Egypt.
The Arab tribes living in and around Mecca before the advent of the Prophet were also polytheistic. This was what Mohammed decisively changed when he destroyed all the idols at the Kaaba and said only Allah was the true god.
The link between one god and power has been recognised all through history. Emperor Constantine wanted all rival versions of the Bible destroyed so that there could be a unified Christianity. Thus we had the Nicene Creed. In India, Mughal Emperor Akbar was declared secular both because of the diversity he allowed and also because he tried evolving a unified religion called Din-e-Ilahi. But his own ulema were not amused and the effort died an unsung death. Akbar’s motives in evolving Din-e-Ilahi may have had less to do with secularism and more with the consolidation of power in a diverse empire.
But it was the Prophet of Islam who took this idea to its logical conclusion by making belief in one god central to his religion, and giving his followers the mandate to expand this to all of humanity. He created the ultimate masculine religion driven by the pursuit of both power and spirituality.
Was this unique, was this different from the two earlier Abrahamic religions – Judaism and Christianity? Both of Islam’s predecessor faiths emphasised one god and opposed idolatry. The progress of the three religions was, however, different. Judaism resisted change and stuck to its belief that Jews were a chosen people. Much like Hinduism, it sought no conversions of other people to Judaism and ultimately posed no threat to temporal powers. But Christianity, once it grew out of its initial moorings in a Jewish reform movement that also resisted the Roman occupation of Palestine, became a proselytising faith that could have threatened kingly power. This is why Christianity had a difficult existence in its initial phases, till Constantine embraced it politically and made it a part of his power base. After that, church and state were often joint stakeholders in power, or shared an uneasy relationship, till the European enlightenment forced the two apart.
Islam never saw any of these pressures and tussles. From the start, the Prophet ensured the merger of state and god – and there has been no reformation, renaissance or enlightenment to force a change.
A key feature of religions that emphasise monotheism is that rival monotheists are a threat to it. It has to be my god, not your god. This is why even though Islam accepts the validity of Jewish and Christian prophets, its claim to having the final word of god ensured centuries of conflict with both Judaism and Christianity – with the crusades being the most logical outcome of extreme monotheism and the combining of temporal and spiritual power.
All consolidation of power needs an ideology that's larger than self-interest, and the Prophet created that combination in Islam where its followers think nothing of sacrificing themselves for achieving this ideal. This is why less than 100 years after his death, the warriors of Islam had reached all over Asia, Africa and Europe.
The power and weakness of Islam lies precisely in this mixing up of spiritual and temporal power. It means anybody can use the appeal of religion to seek power, and anyone with power can claim Islam as his own. This means ambitious warmongers can and will threaten not only other rival states, but even states that are formally Islamic. Genghis Khan ravaged many Muslim states during his campaigns, but his progeny embraced Islam. Taimur called himself the Sword of Islam. Anyone seeking power can merely say that he is the guardian of Islam, or his is the right version of Islam, and go for it. Thus Islamists after often a big threat to other Islamists. An Osama bin Laden was as much a threat to the Saudi monarchs as to America.
This is what explains the huge, bloodly schisms of Islam - Shia-Sunni, Sunni-Ahmaddiyas, etc. Every time you have managed to finish off an al-Qaeda, an ISIS will rise. When ISIS fails - as it surely will, for no terror can hold unnatural countries together - another "truer" version of Islam will rise. Pakistan is failing precisely because it made Islam its ruling ideology. The corollary to this ideology is: which Islam? This can only lead to more bloodshed.
The vision of Islam - of converting the whole world in order to have a peaceful world - is impossible precisely because the ideology is wedded to power. Anyone who seeks power can claim to be the better Islam and make a grab for it.
The world cannot do anything about this, and especially by demonising Islam - as the west and we in India sometimes tend to do. This is an issue internal to Islam and will be addressed only when enough Muslims begin to see the dangers to themselves and their faith from this. Let's remember, Christianity went through the same process and needed the reformation and enlightenment to separate church from state.
Islam will become a normal religion when two things happen: when enough Muslims see the damage they are doing to themselves and call for change, and when the secular process of women getting educated, empowered and emancipated expands. The antidote to a hyper masculine religion is feminine power.

 http://www.firstpost.com/world/explaining-rise-isis-answers-embedded-islam-1578357.html

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Understanding the AlQaedah by Lawrence Wright

June 17, 2014

ISIS’s Savage Strategy in Iraq


AP889260454190-580.jpg
The Islamist storm passing through Iraq right now has been building up since the United States invaded the country in 2003, which unleashed longstanding sectarian rivalries that spilled over into civil war. But the appalling brutality currently on display, initiated by the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, is more than a carnival of revenge.
At the time of the American invasion, Al Qaeda was essentially defeated, scattered, and discredited all over the Muslim world. Iraq had nothing to do with Al Qaeda then. After all, Shiites comprise about sixty per cent of the population, and some figures have Sunnis making up less than twenty per cent. Al Qaeda under Osama bin Laden and his lieutenant—and successor—Ayman al-Zawahiri did not see Iraq as a likely candidate to become a Sunni Islamist state.
Al Qaeda didn’t reckon with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Bin Laden and Zarqawi had been rivals since the days of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan, in the nineteen-eighties. Bin Laden, a Saudi, along with Zawahiri, an Egyptian, populated Al Qaeda training camps with young fighters largely drawn from their own countries. In 2000, Zarqawi, a Jordanian who had been a convicted thief and sex criminal before turning to radical Islam, created his own group, drawing from his country and the region known in Arabic as al-Sham, or the Levant—that is, Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. He called his force at that time the Army of the Sham.
The rival organizations had different objectives. Al Qaeda was originally envisioned as a kind of Sunni foreign legion, which would defend Muslim lands from Western occupation. What bin Laden invoked as an inciting incident for his war on the West was the First Iraq War, in 1990, when half a million American and coalition troops were garrisoned in Saudi Arabia in their successful campaign to repel the forces of Saddam Hussein, who had invaded Kuwait.
Bin Laden had asked Zarqawi to merge his forces with Al Qaeda, in 2000, but Zarqawi had a different goal in mind. He hoped to provoke an Islamic civil war, and, for his purposes, there was no better venue than the fractured state of Iraq, which sits astride the Sunni-Shiite fault line.
The crippled condition of Al Qaeda’s core after 9/11 left the field free for Zarqawi to wage his own brand of jihad. Guided by certain Islamist thinkers who believed that attacking Shiites would draw Sunnis to their cause, Zarqawi concentrated his violence on native Iraqi Shiites, not the American military. He began his campaign in August, 2003, just five months after the American invasion, with a car-bomb attack on the Imam Ali Mosque, in Najaf. As many as a hundred and twenty-five Shiite Muslims were killed at Friday prayers, including Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim, who might have provided moderate leadership to the country. Zarqawi also targeted Iraq’s professionals—the lawyers, teachers, doctors, and academics who together formed a fragile social matrix.
In 2004, Zarqawi pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda. Zarqawi then called his organization Al Qaeda in Iraq (A.Q.I.). For bin Laden, Zarqawi’s network offered the opportunity to extend the Al Qaeda brand in a field where American boots were on the ground. For Zarqawi, it drew new recruits to the fray, who longed to fight under the Al Qaeda black banner.
From the start, however, bin Laden’s lieutenant Zawahiri despaired of Zarqawi’s bloodthirstiness and his fixation on the Shiites. “Can the mujahideen kill all the Shia in Iraq?” he asked in a July, 2005, letter to Zarqawi. “Has any Islamic state in history ever tried that?” Zawahiri also counselled against cutting off the heads of captives; a bullet would suffice, without the damaging publicity.
Bin Laden and Zawahiri were certainly familiar with the use of violence against civilians, but what they failed to grasp was that, for Zarqawi and his network, savagery—particularly when directed at other Muslims—was the whole point. The ideal of this movement, as its theorists saw it, was the establishment of a caliphate that would lead to the purification of the Muslim world. The Islamist strategist Abu Bakr Naji offered a revealing outline of Zarqawi’s method in his 2004 book, “The Management of Savagery.”
Naji proposed a campaign of constant harassment of Muslim states that exhausted the states’ will to resist. He suggested concentrating on tourist sites and economic centers. Violent attacks would create a network of “regions of savagery,” which would multiply as the forces of the state wither away, and cause people to submit to the will of the invading Islamist force. Naji believed that a broad civil war within Islam would lead to a fundamentalist Sunni caliphate.
Zarqawi was killed by an American bomb, in 2006. American forces, along with a movement of Sunni tribes who rejected Al Qaeda, called the Awakening, bottled up his movement in Iraq; but the revolution in Syria created a new opportunity.
The movement is led now by an elusive figure named Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Reflecting its expanding turf, A.Q.I. changed its name to the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham. Zawahiri urged ISIS to stay out of Syria, leaving it to the designated Al Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. Characteristically, ISIS engaged in shocking brutality, even against rival Islamist groups. In 2013, it took over the provincial capital of Raqqah, in northern Syria, on the banks of the Euphrates—the first real victory in the rebellion—and once again drew many foreign jihadists to its cause. Zawahiri couldn’t tolerate the insubordination of Baghdadi’s troops, and in February of this year Zawahiri booted ISIS out of the Al Qaeda consortium. By that time, ISIS had returned to Iraq and taken over Fallujah, the first major city in the country to fall under its rule.
According to one estimate, in the Long War Journal, ISIS now controls a third of Iraq. The strike has been so sudden and surprising that other forces haven’t yet responded, but they will. And then the long-sought goal of Zarqawi and his progeny—a vast war inside Islam—will become a reality.
Photograph: AP.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Middle East Analysis by Tony Blair

excellent article and a lesson for all, especially the majority Muslims who oppose intervention in Syria.


However it is biased and miss the root cause. The west obsession with protecting the repressive and blatantly racist Israeli regime. It may be democratic and ruled by law somewhat, but it showed bad examples of blatant injustices to Muslims. How could democracy and rule of law allow blatant murder and suppression of Muslims in Palestine? How can I defend the west? My only defense is that the number do deaths and destruction is much less than in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Egypt, all are run by Muslim dictators that kill but also bribe others with aid. Unfortunately, the west is to be blamed for tolerating these Muslim regimes, as long as they ignore atrocities committed by Jewish Israel.

http://www.tonyblairoffice.org/news/entry/iraq-syria-and-the-middle-east-an-essay-by-tony-blair/




Iraq, Syria and the Middle East – An essay by Tony Blair


The civil war in Syria with its attendant disintegration is having its predictable and malign effect. Iraq is now in mortal danger. The whole of the Middle East is under threat.
We will have to re-think our strategy towards Syria; support the Iraqi Government in beating back the insurgency; whilst making it clear that Iraq’s politics will have to change for any resolution of the current crisis to be sustained. Then we need a comprehensive plan for the Middle East that correctly learns the lessons of the past decade. In doing so, we should listen to and work closely with our allies across the region, whose understanding of these issues is crucial and who are prepared to work with us in fighting the root causes of this extremism which goes far beyond the crisis in Iraq or Syria.
It is inevitable that events in Mosul have led to a re-run of the arguments over the decision to remove Saddam Hussein in 2003. The key question obviously is what to do now. But because some of the commentary has gone immediately to claim that but for that decision, Iraq would not be facing this challenge; or even more extraordinary, implying that but for the decision, the Middle East would be at peace right now; it is necessary that certain points are made forcefully before putting forward a solution to what is happening now.
3/4 years ago Al Qaida in Iraq was a beaten force. The country had massive challenges but had a prospect, at least, of overcoming them. It did not pose a threat to its neighbours. Indeed, since the removal of Saddam, and despite the bloodshed, Iraq had contained its own instability mostly within its own borders.
Though the challenge of terrorism was and is very real, the sectarianism of the Maliki Government snuffed out what was a genuine opportunity to build a cohesive Iraq. This, combined with the failure to use the oil money to re-build the country, and the inadequacy of the Iraqi forces have led to the alienation of the Sunni community and the inability of the Iraqi army to repulse the attack on Mosul and the earlier loss of Fallujah. And there will be debate about whether the withdrawal of US forces happened too soon.
However there is also no doubt that a major proximate cause of the takeover of Mosul by ISIS is the situation in Syria.  To argue otherwise is wilful. The operation in Mosul was planned and organised from Raqqa across the Syria border. The fighters were trained and battle-hardened in the Syrian war. It is true that they originate in Iraq and have shifted focus to Iraq over the past months. But, Islamist extremism in all its different manifestations as a group, rebuilt refinanced and re-armed mainly as a result of its ability to grow and gain experience through the war in Syria.
As for how these events reflect on the original decision to remove Saddam, if we want to have this debate, we have to do something that is rarely done: put the counterfactual i.e. suppose in 2003, Saddam had been left running Iraq.  Now take each of the arguments against the decision in turn.
The first is there was no WMD risk from Saddam and therefore the casus belli was wrong. What we now know from Syria is that Assad, without any detection from the West, was manufacturing chemical weapons. We only discovered this when he used them. We also know, from the final weapons inspectors reports, that though it is true that Saddam got rid of the physical weapons, he retained the expertise and capability to manufacture them. Is it likely that, knowing what we now know about Assad, Saddam, who had used chemical weapons against both the Iranians in the 1980s war that resulted in over 1m casualties and against his own people, would have refrained from returning to his old ways? Surely it is at least as likely that he would have gone back to them.
The second argument is that but for the invasion of 2003, Iraq would be a stable country today. Leave aside the treatment Saddam meted out to the majority of his people whether Kurds, Shia or marsh Arabs, whose position of ‘stability’ was that of appalling oppression. Consider the post 2011 Arab uprisings. Put into the equation the counterfactual – that Saddam and his two sons would be running Iraq in 2011 when the uprisings began. Is it seriously being said that the revolution sweeping the Arab world would have hit Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, to say nothing of the smaller upheavals all over the region, but miraculously Iraq, under the most brutal and tyrannical of all the regimes, would have been an oasis of calm?
Easily the most likely scenario is that Iraq would have been engulfed by precisely the same convulsion. Take the hypothesis further. The most likely response of Saddam would have been to fight to stay in power. Here we would have a Sunni leader trying to retain power in the face of a Shia revolt. Imagine the consequences. Next door in Syria a Shia backed minority would be clinging to power trying to stop a Sunni majority insurgency. In Iraq the opposite would be the case. The risk would have been of a full blown sectarian war across the region, with States not fighting by proxy, but with national armies.
So it is a bizarre reading of the cauldron that is the Middle East today, to claim that but for the removal of Saddam, we would not have a crisis.
And it is here that if we want the right policy for the future, we have to learn properly the lessons not just of Iraq in 2003 but of the Arab uprisings from 2011 onwards.
The reality is that the whole of the Middle East and beyond is going through a huge, agonising and protracted transition. We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that ‘we’ have caused this. We haven't. We can argue as to whether our policies at points have helped or not; and whether action or inaction is the best policy and there is a lot to be said on both sides. But the fundamental cause of the crisis lies within the region not outside it.
The problems of the Middle East are the product of bad systems of politics mixed with a bad abuse of religion going back over a long time. Poor governance, weak institutions, oppressive rule and a failure within parts of Islam to work out a sensible relationship between religion and Government have combined to create countries which are simply unprepared for the modern world. Put into that mix, young populations with no effective job opportunities and education systems that do not correspond to the requirements of the future economy, and you have a toxic, inherently unstable matrix of factors that was always – repeat always - going to lead to a revolution.
But because of the way these factors interrelate, the revolution was never going to be straightforward. This is the true lesson of Iraq. But it is also the lesson from the whole of the so-called Arab Spring. The fact is that as a result of the way these societies have developed and because Islamism of various descriptions became the focal point of opposition to oppression, the removal of the dictatorship is only the beginning not the end of the challenge. Once the regime changes, then out come pouring all the tensions – tribal, ethnic and of course above all religious; and the rebuilding of the country, with functioning institutions and systems of Government, becomes incredibly hard. The extremism de-stabilises the country, hinders the attempts at development, the sectarian divisions become even more acute and the result is the mess we see all over the region. And beyond it. Look at Pakistan or Afghanistan and the same elements are present.
Understanding this and analysing properly what has happened, is absolutely vital to the severe challenge of working out what we can do about it. So rather than continuing to re-run the debate over Iraq from over 11 years ago, realise that whatever we had done or not done, we would be facing a big challenge today.
Indeed we now have three examples of Western policy towards regime change in the region. In Iraq, we called for the regime to change, removed it and put in troops to try to rebuild the country. But intervention proved very tough and today the country is at risk again. In Libya, we called for the regime to change, we removed it by airpower, but refused to put in troops and now Libya is racked by instability, violence and has exported vast amounts of trouble and weapons across North Africa and down into sub- Saharan Africa. In Syria we called for the regime to change, took no action and it is in the worst state of all.
And when we do act, it is often difficult to discern the governing principles of action. Gaddafi, who in 2003 had given up his WMD and cooperated with us in the fight against terrorism, is removed by us on the basis he threatens to kill his people but Assad, who actually kills his people on a vast scale including with chemical weapons, is left in power.
So what does all this mean? How do we make sense of it? I speak with humility on this issue because I went through the post 9/11 world and know how tough the decisions are in respect of it. But I have also, since leaving office, spent a great deal of time in the region and have studied its dynamics carefully.
The beginning of understanding is to appreciate that resolving this situation is immensely complex. This is a generation long struggle. It is not a ‘war’ which you win or lose in some clear and clean-cut way. There is no easy or painless solution. Intervention is hard. Partial intervention is hard. Non-intervention is hard.
Ok, so if it is that hard, why not stay out of it all, the current default position of the West? The answer is because the outcome of this long transition impacts us profoundly. At its simplest, the jihadist groups are never going to leave us alone. 9/11 happened for a reason. That reason and the ideology behind it have not disappeared.
However more than that, in this struggle will be decided many things: the fate of individual countries, the future of the Middle East, and the direction of the relationship between politics and the religion of Islam. This last point will affect us in a large number of ways. It will affect the radicalism within our own societies which now have significant Muslim populations. And it will affect how Islam develops across the world. If the extremism is defeated in the Middle East it will eventually be defeated the world over, because this region is its spiritual home and from this region has been spread the extremist message.
There is no sensible policy for the West based on indifference. This is, in part, our struggle, whether we like it or not.
Already the security agencies of Europe believe our biggest future threat will come from returning fighters from Syria. There is a real risk that Syria becomes a haven for terrorism worse than Afghanistan in the 1990s. But think also of the effect that Syria is having on the Lebanon and Jordan. There is no way this conflagration was ever going to stay confined to Syria. I understand all the reasons following Afghanistan and Iraq why public opinion was so hostile to involvement. Action in Syria did not and need not be as in those military engagements. But every time we put off action, the action we will be forced to take will ultimately be greater.
On the immediate challenge President Obama is right to put all options on the table in respect of Iraq, including military strikes on the extremists; and right also to insist on a change in the way the Iraqi Government takes responsibility for the politics of the country.
The moderate and sensible elements of the Syria Opposition should be given the support they need; Assad should know he cannot win an outright victory; and the extremist groups, whether in Syria or Iraq, should be targeted, in coordination and with the agreement of the Arab countries. However unpalatable this may seem, the alternative is worse.
But acting in Syria alone or Iraq, will not solve the challenge across the region or the wider world. We need a plan for the Middle East and for dealing with the extremism world-wide that comes out of it.
The starting point is to identify the nature of the battle. It is against Islamist extremism. That is the fight. People shy away from the starkness of that statement. But it is because we are constantly looking for ways of avoiding facing up to this issue, that we can't make progress in the battle.
Of course in every case, there are reasons of history and tribe and territory which add layers of complexity. Of course, too, as I said at the outset, bad governance has played a baleful role in exacerbating the challenges. But all those problems become infinitely tougher to resolve, when religious extremism overlays everything. Then unity in a nation is impossible. Stability is impossible. Therefore progress is impossible. Government ceases to build for the future and manages each day as it can. Division tears apart cohesion. Hatred replaces hope.
We have to unite with those in the Muslim world, who agree with this analysis to fight the extremism. Parts of the Western media are missing a critical new element in the Middle East today. There are people – many of them – in the region who now understand this is the battle and are prepared to wage it. We have to stand with them.
Repressive systems of Government have played their part in the breeding of the extremism. A return to the past for the Middle East is neither right nor feasible. On the contrary there has to be change and there will be. However, we have to have a more graduated approach, which tries to help change happen without the chaos. 
We were naïve about the Arab uprisings which began in 2011. Evolution is preferable to revolution. I said this at the time, precisely because of what we learnt from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sometimes evolution is not possible. But where we can, we should be helping countries make steady progress towards change. We should be actively trying to encourage and help the reform process and using the full weight of the international community to do so.
Where there has been revolution, we have to be clear we will not support systems or Governments based on sectarian religious politics.
Where the extremists are fighting, they have to be countered hard, with force. This does not mean Western troops as in Iraq. There are masses of responses we can make short of that. But they need to know that wherever they're engaged in terror, we will be hitting them.
Longer term, we have to make a concerted effort to reform the education systems, formal and informal which are giving rise to the extremism. It should be part of our dialogue and partnership with all nations that we expect education to be open-minded and respectful of difference whether of faith culture or race. We should make sure our systems reflect these values; they should do the same. This is the very reason why, after I left office I established a Foundation now active in the education systems of over 20 different countries, including in the Middle East, promoting a programme of religious and cultural co-existence.
We should make this a focal point of cooperation between East and West. China, Russia, Europe and the USA all have the same challenge of extremism. For the avoidance of doubt, I am neither minimising our differences especially over issues like Ukraine, nor suggesting a weakening of our position there; simply that on this issue of extremism, we can and should work together.
We should acknowledge that the challenge goes far further afield than the Middle East. Africa faces it as the ghastly events in Nigeria show. The Far East faces it. Central Asia too.
The point is that we won't win the fight until we accept the nature of it.
Iraq is part of a much bigger picture. By all means argue about the wisdom of earlier decisions. But it is the decisions now that will matter. The choices are all pretty ugly, it is true. But for 3 years we have watched Syria descend into the abyss and as it is going down, it is slowly but surely wrapping its cords around us pulling us down with it. We have to put aside the differences of the past and act now to save the future.   

Iraq, Syria and the Middle East – An essay by Tony Blair


The civil war in Syria with its attendant disintegration is having its predictable and malign effect. Iraq is now in mortal danger. The whole of the Middle East is under threat.
We will have to re-think our strategy towards Syria; support the Iraqi Government in beating back the insurgency; whilst making it clear that Iraq’s politics will have to change for any resolution of the current crisis to be sustained. Then we need a comprehensive plan for the Middle East that correctly learns the lessons of the past decade. In doing so, we should listen to and work closely with our allies across the region, whose understanding of these issues is crucial and who are prepared to work with us in fighting the root causes of this extremism which goes far beyond the crisis in Iraq or Syria.
It is inevitable that events in Mosul have led to a re-run of the arguments over the decision to remove Saddam Hussein in 2003. The key question obviously is what to do now. But because some of the commentary has gone immediately to claim that but for that decision, Iraq would not be facing this challenge; or even more extraordinary, implying that but for the decision, the Middle East would be at peace right now; it is necessary that certain points are made forcefully before putting forward a solution to what is happening now.
3/4 years ago Al Qaida in Iraq was a beaten force. The country had massive challenges but had a prospect, at least, of overcoming them. It did not pose a threat to its neighbours. Indeed, since the removal of Saddam, and despite the bloodshed, Iraq had contained its own instability mostly within its own borders.
Though the challenge of terrorism was and is very real, the sectarianism of the Maliki Government snuffed out what was a genuine opportunity to build a cohesive Iraq. This, combined with the failure to use the oil money to re-build the country, and the inadequacy of the Iraqi forces have led to the alienation of the Sunni community and the inability of the Iraqi army to repulse the attack on Mosul and the earlier loss of Fallujah. And there will be debate about whether the withdrawal of US forces happened too soon.
However there is also no doubt that a major proximate cause of the takeover of Mosul by ISIS is the situation in Syria.  To argue otherwise is wilful. The operation in Mosul was planned and organised from Raqqa across the Syria border. The fighters were trained and battle-hardened in the Syrian war. It is true that they originate in Iraq and have shifted focus to Iraq over the past months. But, Islamist extremism in all its different manifestations as a group, rebuilt refinanced and re-armed mainly as a result of its ability to grow and gain experience through the war in Syria.
As for how these events reflect on the original decision to remove Saddam, if we want to have this debate, we have to do something that is rarely done: put the counterfactual i.e. suppose in 2003, Saddam had been left running Iraq.  Now take each of the arguments against the decision in turn.
The first is there was no WMD risk from Saddam and therefore the casus belli was wrong. What we now know from Syria is that Assad, without any detection from the West, was manufacturing chemical weapons. We only discovered this when he used them. We also know, from the final weapons inspectors reports, that though it is true that Saddam got rid of the physical weapons, he retained the expertise and capability to manufacture them. Is it likely that, knowing what we now know about Assad, Saddam, who had used chemical weapons against both the Iranians in the 1980s war that resulted in over 1m casualties and against his own people, would have refrained from returning to his old ways? Surely it is at least as likely that he would have gone back to them.
The second argument is that but for the invasion of 2003, Iraq would be a stable country today. Leave aside the treatment Saddam meted out to the majority of his people whether Kurds, Shia or marsh Arabs, whose position of ‘stability’ was that of appalling oppression. Consider the post 2011 Arab uprisings. Put into the equation the counterfactual – that Saddam and his two sons would be running Iraq in 2011 when the uprisings began. Is it seriously being said that the revolution sweeping the Arab world would have hit Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, to say nothing of the smaller upheavals all over the region, but miraculously Iraq, under the most brutal and tyrannical of all the regimes, would have been an oasis of calm?
Easily the most likely scenario is that Iraq would have been engulfed by precisely the same convulsion. Take the hypothesis further. The most likely response of Saddam would have been to fight to stay in power. Here we would have a Sunni leader trying to retain power in the face of a Shia revolt. Imagine the consequences. Next door in Syria a Shia backed minority would be clinging to power trying to stop a Sunni majority insurgency. In Iraq the opposite would be the case. The risk would have been of a full blown sectarian war across the region, with States not fighting by proxy, but with national armies.
So it is a bizarre reading of the cauldron that is the Middle East today, to claim that but for the removal of Saddam, we would not have a crisis.
And it is here that if we want the right policy for the future, we have to learn properly the lessons not just of Iraq in 2003 but of the Arab uprisings from 2011 onwards.
The reality is that the whole of the Middle East and beyond is going through a huge, agonising and protracted transition. We have to liberate ourselves from the notion that ‘we’ have caused this. We haven't. We can argue as to whether our policies at points have helped or not; and whether action or inaction is the best policy and there is a lot to be said on both sides. But the fundamental cause of the crisis lies within the region not outside it.
The problems of the Middle East are the product of bad systems of politics mixed with a bad abuse of religion going back over a long time. Poor governance, weak institutions, oppressive rule and a failure within parts of Islam to work out a sensible relationship between religion and Government have combined to create countries which are simply unprepared for the modern world. Put into that mix, young populations with no effective job opportunities and education systems that do not correspond to the requirements of the future economy, and you have a toxic, inherently unstable matrix of factors that was always – repeat always - going to lead to a revolution.
But because of the way these factors interrelate, the revolution was never going to be straightforward. This is the true lesson of Iraq. But it is also the lesson from the whole of the so-called Arab Spring. The fact is that as a result of the way these societies have developed and because Islamism of various descriptions became the focal point of opposition to oppression, the removal of the dictatorship is only the beginning not the end of the challenge. Once the regime changes, then out come pouring all the tensions – tribal, ethnic and of course above all religious; and the rebuilding of the country, with functioning institutions and systems of Government, becomes incredibly hard. The extremism de-stabilises the country, hinders the attempts at development, the sectarian divisions become even more acute and the result is the mess we see all over the region. And beyond it. Look at Pakistan or Afghanistan and the same elements are present.
Understanding this and analysing properly what has happened, is absolutely vital to the severe challenge of working out what we can do about it. So rather than continuing to re-run the debate over Iraq from over 11 years ago, realise that whatever we had done or not done, we would be facing a big challenge today.
Indeed we now have three examples of Western policy towards regime change in the region. In Iraq, we called for the regime to change, removed it and put in troops to try to rebuild the country. But intervention proved very tough and today the country is at risk again. In Libya, we called for the regime to change, we removed it by airpower, but refused to put in troops and now Libya is racked by instability, violence and has exported vast amounts of trouble and weapons across North Africa and down into sub- Saharan Africa. In Syria we called for the regime to change, took no action and it is in the worst state of all.
And when we do act, it is often difficult to discern the governing principles of action. Gaddafi, who in 2003 had given up his WMD and cooperated with us in the fight against terrorism, is removed by us on the basis he threatens to kill his people but Assad, who actually kills his people on a vast scale including with chemical weapons, is left in power.
So what does all this mean? How do we make sense of it? I speak with humility on this issue because I went through the post 9/11 world and know how tough the decisions are in respect of it. But I have also, since leaving office, spent a great deal of time in the region and have studied its dynamics carefully.
The beginning of understanding is to appreciate that resolving this situation is immensely complex. This is a generation long struggle. It is not a ‘war’ which you win or lose in some clear and clean-cut way. There is no easy or painless solution. Intervention is hard. Partial intervention is hard. Non-intervention is hard.
Ok, so if it is that hard, why not stay out of it all, the current default position of the West? The answer is because the outcome of this long transition impacts us profoundly. At its simplest, the jihadist groups are never going to leave us alone. 9/11 happened for a reason. That reason and the ideology behind it have not disappeared.
However more than that, in this struggle will be decided many things: the fate of individual countries, the future of the Middle East, and the direction of the relationship between politics and the religion of Islam. This last point will affect us in a large number of ways. It will affect the radicalism within our own societies which now have significant Muslim populations. And it will affect how Islam develops across the world. If the extremism is defeated in the Middle East it will eventually be defeated the world over, because this region is its spiritual home and from this region has been spread the extremist message.
There is no sensible policy for the West based on indifference. This is, in part, our struggle, whether we like it or not.
Already the security agencies of Europe believe our biggest future threat will come from returning fighters from Syria. There is a real risk that Syria becomes a haven for terrorism worse than Afghanistan in the 1990s. But think also of the effect that Syria is having on the Lebanon and Jordan. There is no way this conflagration was ever going to stay confined to Syria. I understand all the reasons following Afghanistan and Iraq why public opinion was so hostile to involvement. Action in Syria did not and need not be as in those military engagements. But every time we put off action, the action we will be forced to take will ultimately be greater.
On the immediate challenge President Obama is right to put all options on the table in respect of Iraq, including military strikes on the extremists; and right also to insist on a change in the way the Iraqi Government takes responsibility for the politics of the country.
The moderate and sensible elements of the Syria Opposition should be given the support they need; Assad should know he cannot win an outright victory; and the extremist groups, whether in Syria or Iraq, should be targeted, in coordination and with the agreement of the Arab countries. However unpalatable this may seem, the alternative is worse.
But acting in Syria alone or Iraq, will not solve the challenge across the region or the wider world. We need a plan for the Middle East and for dealing with the extremism world-wide that comes out of it.
The starting point is to identify the nature of the battle. It is against Islamist extremism. That is the fight. People shy away from the starkness of that statement. But it is because we are constantly looking for ways of avoiding facing up to this issue, that we can't make progress in the battle.
Of course in every case, there are reasons of history and tribe and territory which add layers of complexity. Of course, too, as I said at the outset, bad governance has played a baleful role in exacerbating the challenges. But all those problems become infinitely tougher to resolve, when religious extremism overlays everything. Then unity in a nation is impossible. Stability is impossible. Therefore progress is impossible. Government ceases to build for the future and manages each day as it can. Division tears apart cohesion. Hatred replaces hope.
We have to unite with those in the Muslim world, who agree with this analysis to fight the extremism. Parts of the Western media are missing a critical new element in the Middle East today. There are people – many of them – in the region who now understand this is the battle and are prepared to wage it. We have to stand with them.
Repressive systems of Government have played their part in the breeding of the extremism. A return to the past for the Middle East is neither right nor feasible. On the contrary there has to be change and there will be. However, we have to have a more graduated approach, which tries to help change happen without the chaos. 
We were naïve about the Arab uprisings which began in 2011. Evolution is preferable to revolution. I said this at the time, precisely because of what we learnt from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sometimes evolution is not possible. But where we can, we should be helping countries make steady progress towards change. We should be actively trying to encourage and help the reform process and using the full weight of the international community to do so.
Where there has been revolution, we have to be clear we will not support systems or Governments based on sectarian religious politics.
Where the extremists are fighting, they have to be countered hard, with force. This does not mean Western troops as in Iraq. There are masses of responses we can make short of that. But they need to know that wherever they're engaged in terror, we will be hitting them.
Longer term, we have to make a concerted effort to reform the education systems, formal and informal which are giving rise to the extremism. It should be part of our dialogue and partnership with all nations that we expect education to be open-minded and respectful of difference whether of faith culture or race. We should make sure our systems reflect these values; they should do the same. This is the very reason why, after I left office I established a Foundation now active in the education systems of over 20 different countries, including in the Middle East, promoting a programme of religious and cultural co-existence.
We should make this a focal point of cooperation between East and West. China, Russia, Europe and the USA all have the same challenge of extremism. For the avoidance of doubt, I am neither minimising our differences especially over issues like Ukraine, nor suggesting a weakening of our position there; simply that on this issue of extremism, we can and should work together.
We should acknowledge that the challenge goes far further afield than the Middle East. Africa faces it as the ghastly events in Nigeria show. The Far East faces it. Central Asia too.
The point is that we won't win the fight until we accept the nature of it.
Iraq is part of a much bigger picture. By all means argue about the wisdom of earlier decisions. But it is the decisions now that will matter. The choices are all pretty ugly, it is true. But for 3 years we have watched Syria descend into the abyss and as it is going down, it is slowly but surely wrapping its cords around us pulling us down with it. We have to put aside the differences of the past and act now to save the future.   

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Discrimination against Malaysian natives is proven beyond doubt!

http://www.ukm.my/news/index.php/en/extras/1464-discrimination-against-hiring-of-malay-graduates-.html

By Shahfizal Musa

Pix Shahiddan Saidi

BANGI, 4 June 2013 - Race more than résumé quality is the main consideration for getting an interview for jobs in Chinese controlled and International companies in this country.
This was the finding of two senior lecturers from the University of Malaya, Dr Lee Hwok Aun from the Department of Development Studies and Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid in a six month experiment they undertook to find out whether response to applications for jobs are based on ethnicity of the applicants.
Dr Lee presented the findings at a seminar on “Degrees of Discrimination: Race and Graduate Hiring in Malaysia”  organised by Institute of Malaysian and International Studies of The National University of Malaysia (UKM) here today.
The findings are based on a field experiment conducted by them through the sending out of fictitious Malay and Chinese résumés of varying qualities to job advertisements, then analysing differentials in callbacks for interview.
Overall 22.1% of the Chinese applicants receive call backs from prospective employers with the Malay applicants receiving only 4.2% call backs.
Dr Lee said they took great pains and care to ensure that the resumes they sent out to employers have very little differences in achievements. "Resumes that were sent to employers are comparable in quality so that differences in treatment be more objectively attributed to racial identity”.
He cautioned the media that their study was only about the employment situation for fresh graduates. It was not done to find out why ethnic Chinese are preferred.
Analysis of the results was extensive with the figures clearly showing that there is discrimination against Malay graduates even in Malay controlled companies where the number of call backs received by Chinese candidates was 6.8% against 4.8% for Malay applicants.
Dr Lee did not state whether this showed that the Malays do not discriminate against the Chinese.
As for the Chinese controlled companies out of the total resumes sent 24% of the Chinese applicants received call backs for interviews but only 6.8% Malay applications received call backs.
For foreign controlled companies the numbers are 22.9% for Chinese applicants with none of the Malay applicants getting any call back.
The field study did not include resumes of graduates studying abroad but includes resume from both the private and public institutions of higher learning. The result showed employers prefer graduates from established public universities than from private universities.

Dr Lee, however, cautioned that the study should not be taken out of context. It shows that there is discrimination against Malay graduates when it comes to call backs for interviews but to ascertain the reasons for that, more research needed to be done to discover the truth.
He also cautioned against using the findings to accuse Chinese employers of being bigots. This would be unfair even if there was discrimination considering the Malays represent the largest segment of the population.
He did conceed that it is impossible to know what is in the minds of the decision makers when selecting their candidates. There definitely is a problem and needed to be addressed but it would be difficult if the study is used as a weapon to further certain agendas.
There will also be those who disagree with the findings and will try to discredit it. But, Dr Lee stressed that the problem needed to be solved.
There is no quick fix to the complex problem but it warrants a discussion at the national level with sincere intention to reach a just solution, Dr Lee said.
Present at the Seminar was Deputy Director of IKMAS, Prof Dr Tham Siew Yean, academicians and members of the media.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

explanations on how global warming occurs

http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2013/12/16/251437395/global-warming-explained-in-about-a-minute


Climate change denial propaganda

http://guardianlv.com/2013/12/global-warming-2014-may-be-apocalyptic/

It may be true that the Polar ice cap has not become less in 2013, in fact increased  by 50% compared to the lowest in 2012, but this is still low compared to its highest level.

Global warming trend does not mean that it will keep on getting warmer year by year. There will surely be fluctuations in temperature. What is important is the trend.

The temperature trend appear to be very little change in global temperature for the past 17 years and yet the Ice cap keeps on getting less and less year by year, until 2013, when it suddenly increase by 50%.

It could be due to efforts in conserving the environments by using Electric and hybrid cars in the USA and Canada. In China, it is a different story and yet, even in China, environmental awareness has increased.

These climate change denials are just nonsense. They don't seem to understand anything about statistics. They pick on exceptions instead of the general trends. They even ignore all the efforts to reduce global warming so far and the very clear and obvious eveidences of global warming such as the continual reduction in the polar ice caps for the past decade, and yet dismiss all those years, just because in 2013, the polar ice cap has increased in size.

That is good news, but it still has a long way to go back to the original levels of ice caps.

climate change denial effort

Not just the Koch brothers: New study reveals funders behind the climate change denial effort
Dr. Robert J. Brulle is a professor of sociology and environmental science at Drexel University in Philadelphia. Credit: CASBS
A new study conducted by Drexel University's environmental sociologist Robert J. Brulle, PhD, exposes the organizational underpinnings and funding behind the powerful climate change countermovement. This study marks the first peer-reviewed, comprehensive analysis ever conducted of the sources of funding that maintain the denial effort.

Through an analysis of the financial structure of the organizations that constitute the core of the countermovement and their sources of monetary support, Brulle found that, while the largest and most consistent funders behind the countermovement are a number of well-known conservative foundations, the majority of donations are "dark money," or concealed funding.
The data also indicates that Koch Industries and ExxonMobil, two of the largest supporters of climate science denial, have recently pulled back from publicly funding countermovement organizations. Coinciding with the decline in traceable funding, the amount of funding given to countermovement organizations through third party pass-through foundations like Donors Trust and Donors Capital, whose funders cannot be traced, has risen dramatically.
Brulle, a professor of sociology and environmental science in Drexel's College of Arts and Sciences, conducted the study during a year-long fellowship at Stanford University's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. The study was published today in Climatic Change, one of the top 10 climate science journals in the world.

The climate change countermovement is a well-funded and organized effort to undermine public faith in climate science and block action by the U.S. government to regulate emissions. This countermovement involves a large number of organizations, including conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, trade associations and conservative foundations, with strong links to sympathetic media outlets and conservative politicians.
"The climate change countermovement has had a real political and ecological impact on the failure of the world to act on the issue of global warming," said Brulle. "Like a play on Broadway, the countermovement has stars in the spotlight – often prominent contrarian scientists or conservative politicians – but behind the stars is an organizational structure of directors, script writers and producers, in the form of conservative foundations. If you want to understand what's driving this movement, you have to look at what's going on behind the scenes."

To uncover how the countermovement was built and maintained, Brulle developed a listing of 118 important climate denial organizations in the U.S. He then coded data on philanthropic funding for each organization, combining information from the Foundation Center with financial data submitted by organizations to the Internal Revenue Service. The final sample for analysis consisted of 140 foundations making 5,299 grants totaling $558 million to 91 organizations from 2003 to 2010.
Key findings include:
Conservative foundations have bank-rolled denial. The largest and most consistent funders of organizations orchestrating climate change denial are a number of well-known conservative foundations, such as the Searle Freedom Trust, the John William Pope Foundation, the Howard Charitable Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation. These foundations promote ultra-free-market ideas in many realms.
Koch and ExxonMobil have recently pulled back from publicly visible funding. From 2003 to 2007, the Koch Affiliated Foundations and the ExxonMobil Foundation were heavily involved in funding climate-change denial organizations. But since 2008, they are no longer making publicly traceable contributions.
Funding has shifted to pass through untraceable sources. Coinciding with the decline in traceable funding, the amount of funding given to denial organizations by the Donors Trust has risen dramatically. Donors Trust is a donor-directed foundation whose funders cannot be traced. This one foundation now provides about 25% of all traceable foundation funding used by organizations engaged in promoting systematic denial of climate change.
Most funding for denial efforts is untraceable. Despite extensive data compilation and analyses, only a fraction of the hundreds of millions in contributions to climate change denying organizations can be specifically accounted for from public records. Approximately 75% of the income of these organizations comes from unidentifiable sources.
"The real issue here is one of democracy. Without a free flow of accurate information, democratic politics and government accountability become impossible," said Brulle. "Money amplifies certain voices above others and, in effect, gives them a megaphone in the public square. Powerful funders are supporting the campaign to deny scientific findings about global warming and raise public doubts about the roots and remedies of this massive global threat. At the very least, American voters deserve to know who is behind these efforts."
This study is part one of a three-part project by Brulle to examine the climate movement in the U.S. at the national level. The next step in the project is to examine the environmental movement or the climate change movement. Brulle will then compare the whole funding flow to the entire range of organizations on both sides of the debate. 

 http://www.prpick.com/space-23/not-just-the-koch-brothers-new-study-reveals-funders-behind-the-climate-change-denial-effort-2643.html