Is Afghanistan Really Stuck in the Middle Ages?


Like it or not this article has the facts and interpretation spot on! Read this piece from Nancy Goldstone in the New York Times:

Miss the Middle Ages? Try Afghanistan

By Nancy Goldstone
Story posted 2010.10.16 at 12:05 AM PDT

 …For some time now, it has been obvious to me that the political model that best illustrates the philosophy and practice of the Afghan government is a medieval court… 

The methods and practices of medieval courts were certainly far removed from those Americans most cherish, such as voting, representation and protection of civil rights. Imposing a Western-style democracy on such a system is unfortunately similar to coating an unhusked coconut with chocolate and trying to pass it off as a Mounds bar…

In 1415, Henry V… employing high-tech, state-of-the-art weaponry, the longbow, walloped the French at Agincourt. Within a few years, the English occupied Paris and much of western France. Henry V appropriated the French throne, thereby dispossessing the dauphin, the rightful heir, who was forced to concede the capital. Although the formidable Henry would die soon after, he was replaced by his extremely competent brother, the duke of Bedford, who continued to rule France as regent. This series of events is eerily similar to what happened when the U.S. first invaded Afghanistan, occupied Kabul and forced the Taliban into the countryside. 

The dauphin … held that part of the realm south of the Loire, just as today the Taliban exercises power over various enclaves outside the capital. The English vowed to eject him and, with the help of the duke of Burgundy …managed to win a number of battles …but… the duke of Burgundy expected to be paid for his participation… 

… eventually the English got tired of bribing the duke of Burgundy. … [who]unbeknownst to England, looked to sell his services elsewhere. Ambassadors from the duke’s court met surreptitiously with ambassadors from the dauphin’s court…

The result of these secret meetings was that the dauphin made discreet financial overtures and succeeded in separating the duke of Burgundy from his former allies. England … subsequently lost the war… without the support of the duke of Burgundy, there were never enough English soldiers to hold the kingdom.

On Monday, Karzai confirmed … “We have been talking to the Taliban as countrymen to countrymen. Unofficial talks have been held with Taliban representatives over an extended period.” On Thursday White House and NATO officials said that the U.S. had aided these discussions in the hope of promoting a negotiated peace. 

…Karzai will continue to hold the capital, with the Taliban and other warlords in control of the rest of the countryside. The Taliban will turn a blind eye to a certain percentage of opium trafficking, the proceeds of which will go to Karzai …Karzai and his supporters will go off to a comfortable retirement and the Taliban will ride into Kabul.  

Nancy Goldstone is the author, most recently, of “The Lady Queen: The Notorious Reign of Joanna I.” Her next book, about Joan of Arc, will be published in 2012.

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Clerics turn against ‘ignorant’ Taliban

Tom Hussain, Foreign Correspondent

Thousands of people are flooding into refugee camps such as this one in Swabi in north-west Pakistan. Yesterday they were holy warriors fighting for the popular cause of Islamic justice. Today Pakistan’s Taliban militants find themselves denounced by the orthodox clergy as infidels.

The Taliban’s fall from public grace over the past month has been dramatic, the slide having been sparked by an ill-timed statement by Sufi Mohammed, the cleric who negotiated a short-lived peace agreement in March between the Swat Taliban and the government of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

Mr Mohammed caused a political furore when, at a so-called peace rally in Swat on April 19, where hopes that the Taliban would disarm were finally dashed, he declared Pakistan’s constitutional democracy and judicial system un-Islamic and reiterated the militants’ intention to impose their agenda across the country.

Like the militants’ subsequent attempts to occupy the neighbouring districts of Buner, Dir and Shangla, the edict proved to be a huge tactical error.

Islamist politicians had, up to that point, dared not criticise the Taliban for fear of being branded America’s puppets. Mr Mohammed’s slur against democracy, which extended to many leading clerics with seats in parliament, ended the detente and set the stage for a war of words that has questioned the religious legitimacy of the Taliban.

Leaders of Pakistan’s mainstream religious parties pounced on the fact that Mr Mohammed had once, unsuccessfully, contested a local council election as a candidate of the Jamaat-i-Islami, and derided him as a hypocrite. Mr Mohammed was later expelled from the party for preaching extremist beliefs.

“By his own reckoning, Sufi Mohammed is at least part infidel,” sneered the Senator Allama Sajid Mir, the head of the Markazi Jamiat Ahl-i-Hadith, a party that follows the Saudi-based Wahhabi school of Islamic thought. The Jamaat-i-Islami and Markazi Jamiat Ahl-i-Hadith represent the right-wing fringe of Muslim thinking in Pakistan and have long campaigned for the enforcement of Islamic laws, with a significant degree of success, despite their modest presence in parliament.

However, the most significant criticism came from the Tableegh-i-Jamaat, an influential movement of proselytisers that is popular among born-again Muslims. It is considered apolitical, having cleansed its ranks of al Qa’eda sympathisers after some embarrassing arrests several years ago, and has a big following among educated, urban Pakistanis, particularly within the civil service and armed forces.

“Islamic law cannot be enforced at gunpoint. People who think that are ignorant [of their faith],” Haji Abdul Wahab, the leader of its Pakistan chapter, told a congregation of thousands in Islamabad on April 27.

Predictably, the response of the Swat Taliban was violent: four members of a Tableegh-i-Jamaat mission, preaching in the valley during the last days of the brief peace, were kidnapped and their fate remains unknown.

The criticisms by mainstream clerics have played on a key weakness of the Taliban leadership: their failure to attain advanced Islamic educational qualifications that would empower with the scholarly authority to issue edicts.

Islamist party activists said the clash of the ideologues was inevitable because they were competing for the same conservative political audience. They said the Taliban had been waging a cold war against the mainstream Islamist parties in their parliamentary strongholds, threatening, kidnapping and sometimes killing activists.

The parties, some of which maintain highly organised, armed cadres of their own, had refrained from taking retaliatory action because it would have undermined their stance against the Nato occupation of Afghanistan and the promotion of Islamic laws in Pakistan, the activists said.

But privately, activists concede they might have to switch tack if the Taliban responds with an expected campaign of terror attacks.

“An armed conflict is something we want to avoid, but if it comes to that, the Taliban will find themselves confronted with a force led by their teachers – men who led the jihad against Soviet occupation in Afghanistan and Indian forces in Kashmir,” said a senior official of the Jamaat-i-Islami, who requested anonymity.

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Muslim Youth in Germany: Aggressive MachosDr. Sami Alrabaa

Dr. Sami Alrabaa, an ex-Muslim, is a professor of Sociology and an Arab-Muslim culture specialist. He has taught at Kuwait University, King Saud University, and Michigan State University. He also writes for the Jerusalem Post.
Finally, someone has dared to publicly talk about Muslim youth in Germany and their reckless, aggressive behavior.

The German radio, WDR5, broadcast a two-hour live talk show called “Hallo Ü-Wagen” on April 25, 2009, to find out why Muslim youth are so aggressive and fanatic. Julitta Münch, the moderator of this program, invited several specialists to discuss the topic.

Over two hours, the majority of the participating specialists and the public depicted an egregious picture of Muslim youth – in particular, the males among them.

Ms. Münch, noted at the outset of her show that she had invited many teachers, especially female ones, but none turned up. She assumed they were scared to speak up against their Muslim youth.

Mansour Ahmed, a Palestinian social worker in Berlin who daily deals with Muslim youth and their families, said that more than 30% of Muslim young men are “very violent.” They do not allow their sisters to talk to other boys, especially German boys. Mansour also said that Muslim boys would never approve of their sisters marrying a German man. A Muslim boy told Mansour, he would kill his sister if she marries a German infidel, or has sex with a man before she is married. “More than 60% of Muslim girls are forced to marry a man of their parents’ choice.” Mansour added. He concluded that the majority of Muslim young and older men in Germany interpret and apply a kind of Taliban Islam.

Ahmet Toprak, a Muslim Turk, and social science professor at a high school in Germany, and a typical apologist, does not believe that “Muslim youth are more violent than their German counterparts.” As most apologists, he believes radical Islamism is due to social deprivation.

Toprak also claimed that Muslim men behave like machos not because of Islam, but because of their social traditions.

This is not true. … further evidence, check out “Is Islam a Violent Faith?” and “Women in Hadith.”

Illona Rothin, a school teacher and film producer, vehemently rejected Toprak’s views. Ms. Rothin interviewed numerous young Muslims and lots of German teachers, and presented several facts:

Female teachers, in particular, are afraid of Muslim young men at German schools. Rothin said, she attended a class at a school in Hamburg whose most of its students are Turks and Arabs. At the beginning of the class there were 29 students. At the end only 8 students remained seated in the class. The rest left the class without any excuse. As Rothin asked the teacher why she allowed that to happen, the teacher said, “I’m scared. I cannot do anything against that. And the head teacher tries to hush all this up.” Mr. Grimm, a man from the public and one who is well-informed about what is going on in German schools, intervened and said, “The ministry of Education sent out several decrees to schools urging head teachers not to follow up wrong doing by the Muslim youth.”

Also in Bielefeld, in Stieghorst, a district that is predominantly inhabited by Turks, Muslim boys do not allow their sisters to enter the “Freizentrum” (recreation center). And German boys are not allowed to enter the center either.

According to various studies, more than 70% of young Muslims in Germany drop school before reaching the 10th grade. Later many of them join the “army of jobless” and live on “Harz-Vier,” the welfare system.

Both mosques and affiliated centers fill the brains of young male Muslims with hatred toward the German society and blame it on their misery. These indoctrination centers, and the fact that schools and state authorities shy off confrontation with young Muslims, have simply emboldened these youth and encourage them to stay defiant.

Another German apologist, Mathias Rohe from Erlangen, and judge who uses Shari’a in his verdicts when Muslims are involved, claimed on the same radio show, “Islam is compatible with secularism.”

The truth of the matter is German politicians and mainstream media have ignored and suppressed for decades the fact that Muslims must also abide by local laws. After 9/11 the Germans received a wake-up call. They got scared and have all the time been trying to appease Muslims out of fear, not conviction.

However, it seems that the German public is better informed about Islam and radical Muslims than their media and politicians.

German politicians and mainstream media condemned freeing the American hostage Richard Phillips in Somali waters by force. They claimed that this would endanger the life of five German sailors kept hostage by Somali pirates for more than two months now.

The Germans prefer to pay ransom money, which they would get back from selling their machines and goods worldwide. They do not want to make their hands dirty in the war on terror. They want the others to do the job for them.

Thanks to the CIA, the German security agencies could foil a devastating attack by radical Muslims in Germany. The CIA information helped the German police arrest four Muslims and recover 26 detonators which could have cost the life of hundreds of innocent people.

Uschi Eid from the German Green Party told Deutschland-Radio, “We must encourage the Somalis apply Shari’a. This might help building the state again. Islam regulates both religious and mundane life. This might help bring peace to Somalia and rid us of piracy.

In other words, Eid is advocating setting up a Taliban state in Somalia.

The Germans use every opportunity to condemn and fight the NPD, the neo-Nazis in Germany. Why do not they do the same with radical Muslims who are as dangerous as the NPD? Radical Muslims preach that their Islam is the best “faith” on earth, and they are better believers than the rest of the world. This is discrimination “par excellence.”

Muslim religious and political discrimination is as egregious as the NPDs. Both are politically (in)correct.

Most recently, Switzerland prosecuted a German lady for bashing radical Muslims. Her criticism has been interpreted as an act of “racism.” This trial is meant as a warning to all critics of Islam to stop doing so. Petrodollars come first.

Muslim radicalism in Europe and across the globe is pandemic and must be confronted and eradicated, like any other virus. Sticking our head in sand like an ostrich is futile.

By all means read it all by clicking on the title.

Swat’s Taliban expand operations despite peace deal

By Syed Shoaib Hasan
BBC News, Islamabad

The Taleban have not yet heeded calls to disarm
Taleban militants operating in Pakistan’s Swat region who agreed a peace deal with the government have expanded operations into nearby Buner.

Dozens of militants have been streaming into bordering Buner to take over mosques and government offices.
Buner is part of the Malakand region, which has just seen the implementation of Sharia law under the peace deal.

Under the deal the Taleban were expected to disarm.

Buner district is only about 100km (62 miles) from the capital, Islamabad.

Recent reports said the Taleban had ransacked the offices of international aid and development agencies working in Buner.

Some employees of the agencies were also briefly taken hostage before being released on Monday.


The Taleban have banned the playing of music in cars and are also using mosques to invite local youth to join them.
We implemented Sharia law as it was a demand of the people, not just the Taleban

Mian Iftikhar Hussain,
NWFP official
The Taleban have also started regular patrols in the district.

Buner’s police chief, Rashid Khan, said the police had lodged an official complaint over the matter.

But the Taleban are not mentioned in the reports, which only names “unknown persons” as the culprits.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain maintains that the Taleban must disarm as agreed under the peace deal.

“Even Sufi Mohammad has said that there is no reason for the Taleban not to disarm,” he said.

He was referring to the head of a local religious group who has been acting as the government’s chief negotiator with the Taleban.

“We initially adopted the path of dialogue and reconciliation, but this is as far as we can go,” Mr Hussain said.

“We implemented Sharia law as it was a demand of the people, not just the Taleban.

“If they continue with their activities, they will not have the support of the people.

“The majority of the people are now with the government. The government will not stand by and tolerate [the violation of] the peace deal.”

The Taleban say they will not lay down their arms until Sharia is fully implemented.

Muslim Khan, a spokesman for the Swat Taleban, said his movement’s aim was the enforcement of Sharia law in all of Pakistan.

(Head Heretic here: I can’t say that I need to comment much. There is an active slow-burn civil war gouing on in Pakistan and the government is, at best, passive in its face. The people have no power against the Talibs and it is worth a policemants life to even report that the “culprits” were Talibs. This story definately belongs in the “not a good thing” file.)

U.S. may widen strikes in Pakistan( Take that Robert Spencer!!

(HH here: As I keep telling my conservative friends…Obama seems to be using the old Speak softly but carry a big stick…and he doesn’t seem to be afraid to use it. Which should do wonders in mending the attitude of the Iranians. If they see that Obama is not afraid to flex the military option then they might become more reasonable about nukes.)

By David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt Published: March 18, 2009

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama and his national security advisers are considering expanding the American covert war in Pakistan far beyond the unruly tribal areas to strike at a different center of Taliban power in Baluchistan, where top Taliban leaders are orchestrating attacks into southern Afghanistan.

According to senior administration officials, two of the high-level reports on Pakistan and Afghanistan that have been forwarded to the White House in recent weeks have called for broadening the target area to reach the Taliban and other insurgent groups to a major sanctuary in and around the city of Quetta.

Mullah Muhammad Omar, who led the Taliban government that was ousted in the American-led invasion in 2001, has operated with near impunity out of the region for years, along with many of his deputies.

The extensive missile strikes being carried out by Central Intelligence Agency-operated drones have until now been limited to the tribal areas, and have never been extended into Baluchistan, a sprawling province that is under the authority of the central government, and which abuts the parts of southern Afghanistan where recent fighting has been the fiercest. There remains fear within the American government that extending the raids would worsen tensions. Pakistan complains that the strikes violate its sovereignty.

But some American officials say the missile strikes in the tribal areas have forced some leaders of the Taliban and Al Qaeda to flee south toward Quetta, making them more vulnerable. In separate reports, groups led by both General David H. Petraeus, commander of American forces in the region, and Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, a top White House official on Afghanistan, have recommended expanding American operations outside the tribal areas if Pakistan cannot root out the strengthening insurgency.

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Pakistan strikes deal with border clan to rein in militants

(HH here: This is good news I hope!)

By Ismail Khan Published: March 10, 2009

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: A major tribe with close ties to the Pakistani Taliban signed an agreement with the Pakistani government to hand over several of the militant group’s local leaders, to lay down arms and to stop harboring foreign militants.

The agreement on Monday with the Mamoond tribe, the largest and most strategically placed in the restive Bajaur region, followed a military victory against the local Taliban last month. It was one of the first major successes of the Pakistani forces against the militants and their affiliates in Al Qaeda since they started operations in the tribal areas in 2003.

Taliban forces in Bajaur then declared a unilateral cease-fire and the Mamoond, whose members live on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border, decided to cooperate with the government.

According to the 28-point agreement, a copy of which was made available to The New York Times, the Mamoond will stop harboring foreign militants and will close down militant training camps.

The agreement also calls for the surrender of senior Taliban leaders in Bajaur, including a deputy, Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, and the group’s chief spokesman, Maulvi Said Muhammad, who also goes by the name Maulvi Omar.

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Pakistan says Taliban beaten back in border region

The Associated Press
Saturday, February 28, 2009; 4:11 PM

KHAR, Pakistan — Pakistan has beaten the Taliban in a major stronghold close to the Afghan border, is close to victory in another and expects to pacify most of the remaining tribal areas before the end of the year, commanders said Saturday.

The upbeat assessment of conditions in the arid, mountainous regions of Bajur and Mohmand follows international criticism of Pakistan for accepting a cease-fire with militants behind a bloody campaign in Swat Valley, just next to the tribal regions.

Many analysts also fear that growing political turmoil between the government and opposition could distract attention from the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban just as Washington wants more concerted action.

The United States and independent analysts have praised the offensive in Bajur, saying it has helped stem the passage of militants from Pakistan into Afghanistan, where violence against American and NATO troops is running at its highest level since the U.S. invasion in 2001.

Pakistan’s tribal regions are believed to be a likely hiding place for Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaida leaders. Foreign governments fear extremists there could be plotting attacks on the West.

Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan, commander of the paramilitary Frontier Corps, said the insurgency had been “dismantled” in Bajur after six months of battles between well-armed militants and soldiers backed by tanks and helicopter gunships.

He said 1,600 militants had been killed and 150 civilians had died. Both figures were impossible to verify independently.

“Their resistance has broken down. We control the roads,” he told reporters flown to the northwestern region by helicopter. “They have lost.”

Col. Saif Ullah, commander in the neighboring region of Mohmand, said troops had repelled insurgents from most of the territory and it would soon be cleared.

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Afghan Court Upholds Sentences in Quran Trial

Afghan appeals court upholds 20-year sentences for publishers of translated Quran
By RAHIM FAIEZ and HEIDI VOGT Associated Press Writer
KABUL February 15, 2009 (AP)
The Associated Press

An appeals court in Afghanistan upheld 20-year prison sentences for two men who published a translation of the Quran that drove religious leaders to call for their execution.
(HH here: excuse me, but didn’t NATO “assist” in setting up the new Constitution there? Graves from Voltaire to Jefferson must be burning from the friction.)

A high percentage of schools in the war-torn country are being rebuilt. The panel ruled Sunday that the men were guilty of modifying the Quran — a crime punishable by death. However, the three-judge panel reiterated a lower court ruling giving the men 20 years each.

The controversial text is a translation of Islam’s holy book into an Afghan language without the original Arabic verses alongside. Muslims regard the Arabic Quran as words given directly by God. A translation is not considered a Quran itself, and it is believed that a mistranslation could warp God’s word.

A host of Muslim clerics in this conservative Islamic state have condemned the translation — which was published in 2007 and handed out for free — as blasphemous and accused its publishers of setting themselves up as false prophets.

(HH again: as I have followed this story not once has there been any explanation of a particular verse that has been found to be false. The conflict seems to be simply that the Arabic original was not included. The original is seen as the sacred words of God and to exist in Heaven on a real tablet…in Arabic. I imagine the fear of the clerics is that if it becomes common for the Arabic to be omitted people MIGHT try to reinterpret certain verses and the masses would not be able to compare to the original. 20 years? Lucky not to be dead? Is it just me or does this seem a tad harsh?)

Critics have said the trial illustrates the undue influence of hard-line clerics in Afghanistan’s fledgling legal system.

Chief judge Abdul Salam Qazizada invoked Islamic Shariah law when reading out the sentence, saying death would not have been an extreme punishment.
“He who commits such an act is an infidel and should be killed” according to some interpretations of Shariah law, Qazizada said.

Qazizada did not explain why they didn’t issue a harsher verdict.
Zalmai’s lawyer, Abdul Qawi Afzeli, said both men plan to appeal again, pushing the case the Supreme Court.

(HH: lets hope they show a bit more restraint.)

The appeals court reduced the sentence of the owner of the print shop that published the book to 15 months, which he has already served, from five years. Three other men charged with trying to help Zalmai flee the country were sentenced to just over seven months, also time already served.

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