Political Concepts

Views on the News – 23 Dec 2010

UK: 40 percent of Muslim students want Sharia law

The whistleblower website ‘Wikileaks’ has revealed the outcome of a 2009 poll in the secret US diplomatic cables, saying that 32 percent of Muslim students in 30 universities across the UK believe killing in the name of religion is justified, while 40 percent want Muslims in the country to be under the Sharia law.

The Daily Mail quoted a cable from January 2009 as saying that the survey, which was conducted on 600 Muslim and 800 non-Muslim students, also found that found 54 percent wanted a Muslim party to represent their worldview in the Parliament. The cable suggests increasing radicalisation among Britain’s young Muslims. According to another U.S. cable, dated February 5 2009, reaching out to Britain’s Muslim community was a ‘top priority’ for U.S. embassy staff. “Although people of Muslim faith make up only 3 to 4 percent of the UK’s population, outreach to this key audience is vital to U.S. foreign policy interests in the UK and beyond. … This is a top Mission priority,” the paper quoted the cable, as saying. The February cable outlined a plan ‘engagement and community capacity-building’ to counter the possible growth of ‘violent extremism’ in the UK.

Summit lets Turkey flex its diplomatic muscles

Turkey, a stable and fast- growing economy, hosts leaders from Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asian states at an economic summit on Thursday which illustrates Ankara’s growing regional influence. Plagued by conflict but blessed with vast oil and gas reserves, the Eurasia region has seen its geopolitical significance increase. The summit of the 10-member Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) is expected to produce few concrete results, but its significance lies in the attendance of some of the region’s high-profile political leaders. The meeting, which will be attended by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, demonstrates Turkey’s ability to network in a region where world powers struggle for trust. Ahmadinejad, who held one-to-one talks with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan late on Wednesday, is in Turkey a month before planned nuclear talks with six major powers in Istanbul. Turkey, a rising Muslim democracy that has applied to join the European Union, has cultivated its eastern neighbors to consolidate its position as a link between Europe on the one hand and the Middle East and Central Asia. Turkey will use it to showcase its growing diplomatic assertiveness and project a foreign policy it defines as having “zero problems with neighbors.”

US Congress approves crusader bill

The US Congress has approved a bill authorising the Pentagon to spend $160bn in Iraq and Afghanistan during this budget year. A previous version was rejected because it included several controversial measures, including one to allow gays to serve openly in the military. This year’s bill, which received largely bipartisan support in Congress, agreed to $725bn in defence proposals, including $158.7bn for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The legislation would also raise the pay of troops by 1.4% and allow the children of members of the military to stay covered under the military’s health care until they are 26-years-old. Other provisions in the legislation include:

$75m to train and supply weapons to Yemeni counter-terrorism forces

$205m for a programme with Israel to develop a mobile defence system

$11.6bn toward the development of security in Afghanistan

$1.5bn to Iraqi security forces

U.S. official: Al Qaeda in Yemen bigger threat than in Pakistan

The administration’s top counterterrorism adviser said Friday that the al Qaeda group based in Yemen poses a greater threat to Americans than Osama bin Laden’s group based in Pakistan.John Brennan, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism, said the Yemen-based group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is “increasingly active” in reaching out to find terrorist recruits, even in the United States. “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is now the most operationally active node of the al Qaeda network,” Brennan said during a forum at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.Brennan’s remarks came a day after the release of the annual Afghanistan/Pakistan review and President Barack Obama’s outline of his view of the threat posed by al Qaeda from its Pakistan base. “It will take time to ultimately defeat al Qaeda, and it remains a ruthless and resilient enemy bent on attacking our country,” Obama said Thursday.

Pak-Army assured to launch offensive in NWA: Munter

US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter said that Pak-Army has assured to launch offensive in North Waziristan. Talking to media here US Ambassador Cameron Munter said that Pak Army has assured to conduct operation in North Waziristan while the Army would itself decide operation timing despite US demand of immediate offensive in the area. He said that Pak Army is making serious efforts for elimination of terrorism. He said that America wants complete elimination of extremists groups from Pakistan and Afghanistan and military and security cooperation with Pakistan would be further increased in this connection. He said that America wants to strengthen democratic institutions in Pakistan. He said that the government of Pakistan would have to take such steps that would increase trust of Pakistani masses over America.

WikiLeaks: U.K. trained Bangladeshi ‘death squad’

The British government has trained a paramilitary force accused of hundreds of killings in Bangladesh, according to leaked U.S. embassy cables. The Guardian newspaper said the cables described training for members of the Rapid Action Battalion as being in “investigative interviewing techniques” and “rules of engagement.” One cable notes that U.S. training for the battalion in counterterrorism would be illegal under U.S. law because of human rights violations. The newspaper said the battalion has been accused by human rights activists of being a “death squad” responsible for more than 1,000 extra-judicial killings since it was established in 2004. In March, the battalion’s leader said it had killed 622 people in “crossfire.”

Dec 23 2010