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Acknowledging America’s arrogance

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When even the top US military officer worries Afghanistan is ‘deteriorating’, then a welcome dose of realism is in the air

Admiral mullen

When the highest-ranking officer in the US armed forces, Admiral Micheal Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, admits: “We hurt ourselves more [with Muslim nations] when our words don’t align with our actions… Our messages lack credibility because we haven’t invested enough in building trust and relationships, and we haven’t always delivered on promises,” it represents a rare but welcome insight from the military about US foreign policy.

“Each time we fail to live up to our values or don’t follow up on a promise, we look more and more like the arrogant Americans the enemy claims we are,” Mullen has written in the Joint Forces Quarterly. “We’ve come to believe that messages are something we can launch downrange like a rocket, something we can fire for effect. They are not. Good communication runs both ways. It’s not about telling our story. We must also be better listeners.”

Some Muslims, such as Haroon Moghul of New York University’s Islamic centre, optimistically greeted Mullen’s statement as a remarkable sign of change: “It shows a military that is critically thinking, and empowered to do so by a White House that seeks to develop effective strategies, not ideological categories and uncritical postures.” However, Aziz Poonawalla of Talk Islam, urges: “Fundamentally, the Obama administration needs to articulate a clear set of explicit, achievable goals for our military in [Afghanistan] – with a clear timeline for withdrawal.”

Indeed, a recent poll of Muslim countries revealed that actions speak much louder than President Obama’s eloquent words promising “mutual respect” and “partnership”. Despite Obama’s well-received Cairo address earlier this year, animosity towards the US “continues to run deep and unabated,” according to the Pew poll, especially in Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt and Jordan. The most obvious reasons for such anger include the attacks by predator drones in Pakistan and the recent reinforcement of 17,000 US troops to Afghanistan, which now brings the total number of US soldiers deployed there to 57,000.

Tragically, the US presence in Afghanistan has failed to end the flourishing illegal drug trade that bankrolls and nurtures the Taliban’s existence. Furthermore, corruption and tribal rivalry threaten the Afghan government’s democratic sovereignty, as witnessed by country’s recent election, which are being protested by both leading candidates as being riddled with fraud. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Wajahat Ali

September 2, 2009 at 5:30 am

Obama in Cairo is a blow to democracy

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009/may/11/obama-cairo-egypt-speech-muslim-world

obama-sderot

Obama’s decision to give a speech to the Muslim world from Cairo is an endorsement of Egypt’s brutal dictatorship

Wajahat Ali

guardian.co.uk, Monday 11 May 2009 20.30 BST

By choosing Cairo, Egypt as the platform for his long awaited address to the global Muslim community, President Barack Obama predictably leans on a reliable dictatorship suffocating a country that is teetering toward religious and political irrelevance.

Indeed, modern Egypt resembles its ubiquitous tourist attraction, the Sphinx, the symbolic temple guardian adorned with a human head on a prostrate lion.

Similarly, the near-30-year, brutal autocracy of Hosni Mubarak weighs heavily on the immobilised body of an exasperated, stifled and proud populace who’ve wearily observed their country, a former beacon for Arab nationalism, transformed into a loyal watchdog and stooge for anti-democratic, “pro-western” policies. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Wajahat Ali

May 11, 2009 at 8:53 pm

Obama: The U.S. is not at war with Islam

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http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-obama-turkey7-2009apr07,0,641778.story?track=rss

Obama in Turkey

Mandel Ngan / AFP/Getty Images
President Obama shakes hands with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan today during a bilateral meeting at the Prime Minister’s residence in Ankara. Obama called on Turkey and Armenia to “move forward” in fence-mending talks and signaled he would not interfere in their dispute over whether the massacre of Armenians a century ago was “genocide.”
Speaking in Turkey, the president strongly and decisively calls for a greater partnership with the Muslim world.
By Christi Parsons and Laura King
7:31 AM PDT, April 6, 2009

Reporting from Istanbul and Ankara — President Barack Obama, making his first official visit to a Muslim-majority nation, declared today that the United States “is not, and will never be, at war with Islam.”

The ringing affirmation of partnership came during a speech to Turkey’s parliament but was clearly addressed to a far wider audience: the entire Muslim world. The speech was widely watched outside Turkey’s borders, with live coverage on Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, the largest Arabic-language satellite channels.

In a 26-minute speech to lawmakers, punctuated several times by applause, Obama also reiterated American support for Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union — although only a day earlier, key European partners France and Germany renewed their own reservations about the bid. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Wajahat Ali

April 6, 2009 at 8:10 pm

CIA warns Barack Obama that British terrorists are the biggest threat to the US

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Barack Obama has been warned by the CIA that British Islamist extremists are the greatest threat to US homeland security.

 
CIA warns Barack Obama that British terrorists are the biggest threat to the US

The CIA has told President Barack Obama that British terrorists are the biggest threat to the US

American spy chiefs have told the President that the CIA has launched a vast spying operation in the UK to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 attacks being launched from Britain.

They believe that a British-born Pakistani extremist entering the US under the visa waiver programme is the most likely source of another terrorist spectacular on American soil.

Intelligence briefings for Mr Obama have detailed a dramatic escalation in American espionage in Britain, where the CIA has recruited record numbers of informants in the Pakistani community to monitor the 2,000 terrorist suspects identified by MI5, the British security service. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Wajahat Ali

February 9, 2009 at 8:28 am

Is Obama the Muslim World’s Superman?

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Wajahat Ali

barack-superman

[Abridged version published in Washington Posthttp://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/postglobal/islamsadvance/2008/11/islamists_rise_could_benefit_w.html%5D

Muslims, both here and abroad, are investing their collective faith in Obama as a modern political Superman who will transform U.S. foreign policy from the abrasive “Us vs. Them” ideology of President Bush to an engaging, constructive dialogue. But as Obama begins to assemble his administration, are Muslims assuming too much about the transformative powers of the president? Certainly among American Muslims the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Specifically, a poll by the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Election (AMT) found that 89 percent of Muslims who voted went for Obama, and that the Muslim turnout in the U.S. elections reached 95 percent, the highest Muslim turnout in U.S. history.

American Muslims’ vote for Obama reflects a repudiation of President Bush and his administration’s relentless stereotyping of Muslims as extremists and terrorists. Obama’s talk of inclusiveness and multi-culturalism, while not specifically naming American Mulsims, has already fulfilled one central wish of the community – to feel included in the political and cultural life of the country (whether the President-elect can fix healthcare or the economy, other pressing issues facing the American Muslim community, we eagerly wait and see, along with the rest of America).

Overseas, however, Muslims are treating Obama with considerable skepticism borne from a fear that once inaugurated, he will be overwhelmed by imperial desire and perpetuate the “War on Terror” rhetoric. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Wajahat Ali

November 18, 2008 at 12:20 am

Muslim- and Arab-Americans Poised to Make a Difference in Battleground States

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Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 2008,

Election Watch

By Delinda C. Hanley

Some of the 50 Muslim-American delegates and alternates at the Democratic National Convention (Staff photo D. Hanley).

THE DEMOCRATIC National Convention in Denver, Colorado opened with a huge interfaith gathering on Aug. 24, featuring remarks and readings by rabbis, imams, ministers and community leaders. This was the first time a celebration of this nature has been part of a Democratic National Convention, and it was symbolic of the party’s intentions to bring multiple communities together under its “big tent.”

Dr. Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America, observed to a huge audience at the convention center’s interfaith event that when she has traveled abroad since the 9/11 attacks she frequently is asked, “How are Muslims doing in America?”

The professor, who teaches at the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, said her response is, “There are problems, but I will tell you this is the best place in the world to practice our faith.” That’s because, the Canadian-born Muslim convert explained, Americans defend religious diversity: “Christians and Jews have stood up for my community every day.”

According to the Muslim Americans in attendance, not a single Islamaphobic word was uttered at the DNC, from beginning to end. Time and again in Denver, Arab- and Muslim-Americans said they believed that Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama would be president for all Americans. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Wajahat Ali

November 13, 2008 at 9:08 pm

Hey Muslims, Vote but do it on the Down Low – Muslims barred from picture at Obama event

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Muslims barred from picture at Obama event
By: BEN SMITH, POLITICO

June 18, 2008 03:07 PM EST

Two Muslim women at Barack Obama’s rally in Detroit on Monday were barred from sitting behind the podium by campaign volunteers seeking to prevent the women’s headscarves from appearing in photographs or on television with the candidate.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Wajahat Ali

June 19, 2008 at 12:58 am

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