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De Redactie
Pakistan: 15-jarig meisje in brand gestoken in Pakistan
Edited: 201605051254
In het conservatieve dorp Makool in Pakistan is op bevel van een traditionele dorpsraad een meisje van 15 jaar omgebracht. Volgens de lokale politie werd ze ontvoerd, verdoofd en in brand gestoken omdat ze een vriendin zou hebben geholpen om te vluchten met een jongen op wie ze verliefd was.
Het verkoolde lichaam van Ambreen werd teruggevonden in een uitgebrande wagen in de buurt van de stad Abottabad. Een foto van het verkoolde lichaam was viraal gegaan op sociale media.

Eerst werd gezegd dat het slachtoffer mentale problemen had en wellicht zelfmoord had gepleegd, maar onderzoek bracht iets anders aan het licht. Het meisje was van bij haar thuis ontvoerd en bedwelmd. Ze werd vastgebonden op de achterzetel waarna het voertuig in brand werd gestoken. Een plaatselijke man had de pers erover getipt, om zo rechtvaardigheid voor de familie van het slachtoffer te krijgen.

Een groep van zestien mannen had tijdens een vergadering, de zogenoemde Jirga, besloten dat het meisje moest sterven, vertelt een lokale politieman. Veertien van de deelnemers zijn al opgepakt, twee anderen zijn nog op de vlucht. De meesten konden worden opgepakt via de analyse van telefoondata.

Ruim 1.000 slachtoffers per jaar

Hoewel moorden op meisjes en vrouwen wegens "moreel verwerpelijk gedrag" dagelijkse kost zijn in Pakistan, is dit gruwelijke geval groot nieuws op plaatselijke media.

Vorig jaar werden meer dan 1.000 slachtoffers geregistreerd, maar volgens vrouwenrechtenactivisten blijven nog veel gevallen onder de radar. Wetgeving voor betere bescherming van vrouwen zit ondertussen vast in het parlement omdat religieuze leiders hun veto stellen.
STATISTA
China Is Still The World's Top Executioner - Islamic countries proportionally execute more people
Edited: 201604122118
According to a recent report from human rights group Amnesty International, 2015 saw a huge rise in the number of executions globally, the highest total since 1989. At least 1,634 people were executed worldwide with 90 percent of that number occurring in just three countries: Iran, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

That's excluding China and North Korea where precise numbers are a state secret. However, Amnesty still believes China executes thousands every year, making it the world's top executioner. Despite the spike in executions, Amnesty reported that there is still some hope with four countries expunging the death penalty for good last year.

Commentaar LT: Het aantal executies moet natuurlijk gerelateerd worden aan het aantal inwoners. Dan komen we per miljoen inwoners aan volgend klassement: 1. Iran (10 executies/miljoen inwoners); 2. Saoedi Arabië (5); 3. Pakistan (2); 4. Irak (0.7); 5. China (0.6 maar onderschat).

Infographic: China Is Still The World's Top Executioner | Statista
RT
Pakistan: Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s suicide blast outside a public park in Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore that killed at least 65 people and injured more than 280.
Edited: 201603271410
SIPRI
Who buys all those weapons?
Edited: 201602221814
The arms trade continues to be a booming business. According to data provided by the SIPRI , the total volume of arms sales from 2006-2010 to 2011-2015 has increased by 14 percent worldwide.

Two major regions are seeking weaponry: sales in Asia and Oceania have increased from 42 to 46 percent, while the Middle East has seen an uptake from 18 to 25 percent in arms acquired and now is in second place of the regions with the most imports. Many weapons for the Middle East are supplied by the United States, accounting for 41 per cent of US arms exports.

Asia and Oceania received 40 percent of US weapons. Also, 68 percent of Russian arms exports went to that same region. The biggest intra-Asia arms trader is China who sold most its weapons to Pakistan, followed by Bangladesh and Myanmar, all of which border China’s regional rival India.

Whilst the acquisition of weapons is also on the rise in Africa, Europe has experienced a sharp decline in the influx of arms. The Americas too are buying slightly fewer weapons.

Infographic: Asia up in Arms | Statista
McCarthy Niall - Statista
Global Laws Against Homosexuality Visualised
Edited: 201602040220
Even in 2016 there are still around a dozen countries in the world which punish homosexual acts with death. Making up the group that deem homosexuality to be a capital offence are countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. On the flip side, there has been a wave of same-sex marriage legalisation in recent times with the Netherlands (2001) and Belgium (2003) leading the way to some of the most recent changes in France (2013), Great Britain (2014) and the United States (nationwide 2015). Last year, Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage through popular vote.
Infographic: Global Laws Against Homosexuality Visualised | Statista
Le Soir
Waalse wapenexport: 4.306.000.000 euro in 2014
Edited: 201601070907
Saoedi-Arabië, Pakistan en USA zijn de grootste afnemers.
Voornaamste fabrikanten: FN en Cockerill Maintenance et Ingénierie Defense (CMI).


Internationaal gezien neemt de USA het leeuwenaandeel van de wapenhandel voor zijn rekening (SIPRI).



Voor de top 100 van de wapenhandel kunt u hier terecht (pdf Sipri).
Reuters
Saoedi-Arabië gaat een coalitie van 34 islamstaten leiden. Het doel: alle terroristische organisaties zoals ISIS/DAESH in het Midden-Oosten uitschakelen. Iran doet niet mee.
Edited: 201512150205
De genoemde landen zijn: Jordanië, UAE, Pakistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Turkije, Chad, Togo, Tunisië, Djibouti, Senegal, Soedan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Gabon, Guinea, the partially-recognized state of Palestine, Islamic Federal Republic of the Comoros, Qatar, Cote d’Ivoire, Kuwait, Libanon, Lybië, Maldives, Mali, Maleisië, Egypte, Marocco, Mauritanië, Niger, Nigeria, Yemen.
Alle genoemde landen zijn lid van de Arabische Liga. Algerije ontbreekt op het appel.

Het HQ van de coalitie zal in Riyad, de hoofdstad van Saoedi-Arabië, liggen.

Er is nog niets bekend over de logistieke middelen en het uitrolplan. Of de operaties met 'boots on the ground' zullen verlopen, is dus ook niet zeker.


De 30-jarige kroonprins van de absolute monarchie SA en tevens minister van defensie, Mohammed bin Salman al Saud, zei tijdens een zelden gehouden persconferentie dat de doelwitten in Irak, Syrië, Libië, Egypte en Afghanistan zullen liggen.

Commentaar LT:
Saoedi-Arabië scoort hiermee gegarandeerd op het westerse nieuwsfront, zeker nu de schending van de mensenrechten in het eigen land onder vuur liggen. Opvallend was ook de sterk in de verf gezette deelname van vrouwen aan de lokale verkiezingen in SA. De propaganda-machines draaien op volle toeren.
Het valt af te wachten of dit bericht meer is dan een bliksemafleider. De jonge kroonprins mag geen gezichtsverlies lijden nu hij als sterke man naar voor wordt geschoven. In de moslimwereld draait immers alles rond viriliteit en voor de troonopvolging is dat een cruciaal gegeven. De huidige koning, Salman , wordt op 31 december 80 jaar.
RT
Albanië/Tirana: duizenden protesteren tegen regering en corruptie. De betogers eisen het ontslag van premier Edi Rama.
Edited: 201512090158
De zware rellen gaan gepaard met brandstichting.
Albanië is een buurland van Montenegro, dat vorige week werd uitgenodigd om deel uit te maken van NATO.
Aan de grens tussen buurland Macedonië en Griekenland zitten duizenden migranten vast. Het gaat om (economische) vluchtelingen uit volgende landen: Marokko, Tunisië, Iran, Algerije, Yemen, Eritrea, Pakistan en Somalië.
De regio wordt een kruitvat.
Boualem Sansal
Auteur de '2084' dans un interview avec Marianne: 'Le temps des Arabes est en toute vraisemblance historiquement fini. Depuis les indépendances, ils n'ont même pas su vivre sur la rente royale (pétrole, soleil, tourisme...) que la nature et l'histoire leur ont offerte en abondance.'
Edited: 201511041311

Marianne : Pensez-vous que les totalitarismes de demain seront de nature théocratique, à la différence de ceux du XXe siècle, le nazisme et le stalinisme, qui furent d'abord antireligieux ?
Boualem Sansal : De quoi demain sera-t-il fait ? Mon idée est faite : à moins d'une révolution puissante des idées et des techniques qui viendrait changer positivement le cours calamiteux des choses, nous nous dirigeons, hélas, très probablement vers des systèmes totalitaires religieux. L'islam radical est déjà pleinement engagé dans la réalisation de cette transformation. Il a redonné vie et force à l'islam, assoupi depuis des siècles, six au moins, et un formidable désir de puissance, de conquête et de revanche aux musulmans épuisés par ces longs siècles d'appauvrissement culturel, économique et politique, aggravé à partir du XIXe siècle par le rouleau compresseur de la colonisation puis par des décennies de dictature postindépendance stérilisante. Sa jeunesse, la détermination de ses stratèges, la foi inaltérable de ses fidèles, la fougue et le goût du sacrifice de ses militants, feront la différence face aux tenants de l'ordre actuel, à leur tour atteints d'atonie, voire de déclin. Installé, rodé et perfectionné, le système ressemblerait assez à celui que je décris dans 2084. Il est possible que les intégristes des autres confessions se fondent dans le mouvement islamiste pour former avec lui le nouveau peuple élu, car aucune des religions du Livre ne peut accepter de se voir péricliter et disparaître, toutes ont besoin d'un pouvoir fort capable de maintenir Dieu sur son trône divin et de protéger son clergé.

Il n'y a plus de totalitarisme politique à l'horizon, seulement des totalitarismes théocratiques. C'est la nouveauté - effrayante - de ce début de XXIe siècle. Croyez-vous à une dérive d'une défaite planétaire de la politique, de l'espoir politique, des Lumières, d'une dépolitisation généralisée ?
B.S. : Je pense qu'on peut parler d'une défaite globale, en tout cas d'un épuisement profond de la pensée et des systèmes politiques issus des Lumières qui ont structuré et animé le monde ces derniers siècles. Les peuples n'en peuvent tant ni plus longtemps de ce marasme qui les réduit à rien et tue en eux et autour d'eux l'espoir d'une vie meilleure, ils sont demandeurs d'un nouvel ordre, fort, exigeant, conquérant, qui remette de la foi et de l'enthousiasme dans la vie et dans le combat quotidien. Le XXIe siècle ne saurait être la continuité du XXe siècle, ou d'un XXe siècle amélioré, il sera en rupture radicale avec l'ancien qui ne produit plus rien, sinon du factice, du jetable, de l'avatar.

L'Abistan - l'utopie théocratique totalitaire que votre livre imagine - renvoie votre lecteur à l'Etat islamique, Daech. Avez-vous pensé à cette parenté en écrivant votre livre ?
B.S. : En partie seulement. Pendant la décennie sanglante que mon pays, l'Algérie, a connue avec les islamistes, et notamment les Groupes islamiques armés, les GIA de triste mémoire, je me suis assez rapidement convaincu que cette branche de l'évolution de l'islam n'avait pas d'avenir, et de fait les GIA n'ont pas vécu plus de quelques années, c'est une branche morte comme a pu l'être la branche de l'homme de Neandertal. La violence seule même magnifiée ne suffit pas, il faut bien d'autres choses pour construire ce califat planétaire dont Daech rêve comme un chien rêve d'un os. Il faut de l'intelligence et du savoir pour dessiner des perspectives longues et cette branche en est dépourvue. Je pensais plutôt à l'Iran, à la Turquie, des pays puissants, organisés, qui ont une histoire depuis longtemps et de manière continue entièrement déterminée par l'islam (sauf l'intermède d'Atatürk pour la Turquie), capables de développer des stratégies de long terme et de se doter des moyens, dont les armes, pour réaliser leurs objectifs. Je vois l'objection qu'on peut faire, mais je suis persuadé qu'ils sauront le moment venu dépasser la vieille rivalité sunnites-chiites et s'unir dans la construction d'un califat mondial capable de résister au temps et à ses ennemis potentiels.

Croyez-vous que l'Etat islamique puisse vaincre, c'est-à-dire forcer d'autres Etats à le reconnaître comme un partenaire politico-diplomatique, comme l'un des leurs ?
B.S. : Je ne le crois pas, il continuera cependant d'attirer massivement les jeunes desperados radicalisés à la va-vite et pressés de mourir en martyrs, par simple chiqué au fond, pour impressionner les copains. Cela, à court terme. A plus longue échéance, une vingtaine d'années, Daech disparaîtra, il étouffe déjà dans un territoire qui ira s'amenuisant sous le coup des bombardements occidentaux et des avancées des forces gouvernementales des pays environnants. La guerre a ses limites, et le temps en est une. Même la guerre de Cent Ans s'est achevée un jour. De plus, l'Etat islamique n'a pas les cadres, les penseurs et les théologiens capables de le hisser intellectuellement et spirituellement au niveau de son ambition de dominer le monde, comparables à ceux qui aux temps glorieux de l'islam ont su édifier un empire et l'administrer brillamment. La suite de l'histoire se pense déjà et s'écrira ailleurs, probablement en Iran, en Turquie, au Pakistan, en Afghanistan. Les printemps arabes et Daech ne sont pour eux qu'une opportunité pour tester la faisabilité du projet grandiose de rétablir l'islam dans sa totalité, qui les hante depuis toujours. Ils savent maintenant que l'appel au djihad peut mobiliser les musulmans où qu'ils soient dans le monde. Le monde arabe, émietté, dispersé et épuisé, est en régression rapide, il perd déjà son leadership historique sur la Nahda islamique mondiale, le fameux Eveil de l'islam. Intégré dans le plan d'ensemble, il sera au mieux un pourvoyeur de ressources, de bases militaires et de djihadistes. Le temps des Arabes est en toute vraisemblance historiquement fini. Depuis les indépendances, ils n'ont même pas su vivre sur la rente royale (pétrole, soleil, tourisme...) que la nature et l'histoire leur ont offerte en abondance.

Pensez-vous que les pays du Maghreb peuvent combattre l'influence que Daech essaie d'acquérir sur leurs populations ?
B.S. : L'influence de Daech au Maghreb est limitée. L'islamisme maghrébin reste centré sur des questions internes. Au Maroc, en Algérie, et en Tunisie dans une moindre mesure, les islamistes dominent culturellement la société, mais, politiquement, leur influence sur la marche du pays a diminué, les pouvoirs en place sont arrivés à leur barrer l'accès au pouvoir, que ce soit par les armes ou par le jeu politique institutionnel. Un équilibre a été trouvé, il est fragile, mais il semble convenir aux uns et aux autres, les pouvoirs, les islamistes, les peuples et les pays occidentaux qui observent le Maghreb. Les pouvoirs en place ne sont au fond pas mécontents de voir leurs djihadistes partir vers Daech, où l'espérance de vie des combattants est des plus réduites.
Passons à la France. L'Etat islamique se livre à la même tentative de séduction et de perversion d'une partie de la jeunesse française. Comment empêcher ce détournement de la jeunesse ?
​B.S. : Les jeunes qui sont séduits par le discours et le combat islamistes sont-ils vraiment dans la République ? Ils sont plutôt dans sa périphérie, dans cette zone grise où, faute d'une médiation intelligente, les valeurs de la République et des valeurs dévoyées venues d'ailleurs s'entrechoquent sans cesse, de plus en plus durement. Le fossé s'élargit et traverse toute la société française, affaiblie par des crises récurrentes et tiraillée par les identités diverses et plurielles qui la composent sans plus vraiment former une unité. Le pacte républicain est mis bien à mal. L'intégration a échoué, il faut le reconnaître et la repenser de fond en comble. Qu'est-ce que la France du XXIe siècle ? Telle est la question première.

La critique de l'islamisme, voire de l'islam, est évidente dans 2084. Mais l'Occident ne paraît plus en mesure de formuler une proposition pour le monde. N'êtes-vous pas aussi implicitement critique de cet Occident qui paraît gagné par le vide et, en particulier, par la réduction de la vie et de la politique à l'économie ?
B.S. : Avec les Lumières, l'Occident a suscité d'immenses espoirs dans le reste du monde et, mieux que cela, il a réussi à l'entraîner dans la dynamique de transformation qu'il a mise en branle chez lui. Faute de moyens, de sincérité, de coordination, et faute d'approfondissement et d'actualisation des idées, la dynamique a tourné court ; sont alors apparus des résistances, des conflits, des ruptures et des contre-projets qui ont donné lieu à des retours catastrophiques aux ordres anciens. L'échec est patent, il est celui de l'Occident et celui du monde. D'où viendraient, alors, les Lumières de demain ? Sans doute pas de la Chine ou de l'Inde, les puissances économiques dominantes en devenir. Ces empires me paraissent condamnés par avance, tant le vide semble les habiter et tant grande est leur méconnaissance des expériences intellectuelles vécues ailleurs, en Europe, en Amérique, dans le monde arabo-musulman. Ils seront au mieux les agents efficaces d'un capitalisme sans âme, informatisé de bout en bout, et les consommateurs d'un marché insatiable.

Vous placez en exergue un propos dans lequel vous dites que les religions poussent à haïr les hommes. Il est vrai que dans l'Abistan, dans les fanatismes religieux de toutes sortes, mais faut-il généraliser ? Vous proposez une très forte et très belle distinction entre la croyance et la foi. Aide-t-elle à comprendre ce propos ?
B.S. : Dans toutes les religions, y compris les plus tolérantes, existe la tentation totalitaire. A la moindre difficulté, elle affleure. C'est cela qui est dénoncé dans l'exergue. Le fait de généraliser participe de la pédagogie, c'est dire aux tolérants : tâchez de ne pas tomber dans le vertige du fanatisme, restez dans la foi, elle est individuelle, silencieuse et humble, ne laissez pas la croyance des foules et ses mots d'ordre brutaux la dominer, il en sortira du mal, on fera de vous des militants aveugles, des extrémistes peut-être.

Que pensez-vous de l'interprétation de Houellebecq de votre livre comme prophétie politologique ?
B.S. : Nos livres sont, de mon point de vue, fondamentalement différents. Il est dans la politique, je suis dans une approche darwiniste, si je puis dire ; je regarde l'évolution d'un monde compulsif et mystérieux et je tente de voir ce qu'il va devenir et ce qui va en sortir. C'est l'élément religieux au cœur de nos réflexions qui a pu lui donner à penser que nous écrivons le même scénario, lui sur le moyen terme et moi sur le long terme.

Souhaitez-vous nous dire quelque chose sur ce qu'on appelle, d'une expression aussi curieuse qu'inappropriée, «la crise des migrants» ?
B.S. : Elle comporte selon moi trois aspects. L'un, humanitaire : il s'agit de venir en aide aux réfugiés, ce sont des sinistrés, il faut le faire sans hésitation, ni calcul, et dans toute la mesure de ses moyens. Les réfugiés sont appelés à retourner chez eux dans un terme qu'eux-mêmes espèrent le plus court possible. Le deuxième aspect est politique : les guerres en cours en Syrie, en Irak, en Afghanistan, au Nigeria, au Mali, en Libye, etc., ont pour ambition de reconfigurer le monde. Ici on dit : «Nous ne voulons pas de chrétiens chez nous» ; là on dit : «Les mauvais musulmans doivent disparaître» ; et là encore : «Telle ethnie doit déguerpir»... Ces mouvements de population sont des déportations, ils menacent l'ordre mondial, il faut les empêcher. Le troisième aspect est sécuritaire : il est source d'appréhensions et de fantasmes, ce qui rend son approche délicate. Il revient aux services de sécurité de veiller à empêcher les infiltrations de terroristes habillés en réfugiés. Les gouvernements européens qui sont les plus sollicités par les réfugiés doivent en débattre franchement et adopter des réponses franches, ce qui n'est pas le cas à cette heure.
Cockburn Patrick
The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution
Edited: 201501150745
Paperback, 192 pages
ISBN: 9781784780401
Published: January 2015
The essential “on the ground” report on the fastest-growing new threat in the Middle East from the Winner of the 2014 Foreign Affairs Journalist of the Year Award

Born of the Iraqi and Syrian civil wars, the Islamic State astonished the world in 2014 by creating a powerful new force in the Middle East. By combining religious fanaticism and military prowess, the new self-declared caliphate poses a threat to the political status quo of the whole region.

In The Rise of Islamic State, Patrick Cockburn (1950) describes the conflicts behind a dramatic unraveling of US foreign policy. He shows how the West created the conditions for ISIS’s explosive success by stoking the war in Syria. The West — the US and NATO in particular — underestimated the militants’ potential until it was too late and failed to act against jihadi sponsors in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Pakistan.
Pakistan
Taliban doodt 132 kinderen in Peshawar. Pakistan en wereld in shock om zoveel lafheid.
Edited: 201412171205
Malala Yousafzal: "Mijn hart breekt".

Wat in Pakistan aan de gang is, is grotendeels te wijten aan een falende staat en een achterlijke mentaliteit van geweld, wraak, weerwraak, vrouwenhaat.
University of Michigan
How people in Muslim countries prefer women to dress in public
Edited: 201410041408



An important issue in the Muslim world is how women should dress in public. A recent survey from the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research conducted in seven Muslim-majority countries (Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey), finds that most people prefer that a woman completely cover her hair, but not necessarily her face. Only in Turkey and Lebanon do more than one-in-four think it is appropriate for a woman to not cover her head at all in public.


The survey treated the question of women’s dress as a visual preference. Each respondent was given a card depicting six styles of women’s headdress and asked to choose the woman most appropriately outfitted for a public place. Although no labels were included on the card, the styles ranged from a fully-hooded burqa (woman #1) and niqab (#2) to the less conservative hijab (women #4 and #5). There was also the option of a woman wearing no head covering of any type.

Overall, most respondents say woman #4, whose hair and ears are completely covered by a white hijab, is the most appropriately dressed for public. This includes 57% in Tunisia, 52% in Egypt, 46% in Turkey and 44% in Iraq. In Iraq and Egypt, woman #3, whose hair and ears are covered by a more conservative black hijab, is the second most popular choice.

In Pakistan, there is an even split (31% vs. 32%) between woman #3 and woman #2, who is wearing a niqab that exposes only her eyes, while nearly a quarter (24%) choose woman #4. In Saudi Arabia, a 63%-majority prefer woman #2, while an additional 11% say that the burqa worn by woman #1 is the most appropriate style of public dress for women.

In several countries, substantial minorities say it is acceptable for a woman to not cover her hair in public. Roughly a third (32%) of Turks take this view, as do 15% of Tunisians. Nearly half (49%) in Lebanon also agree that it is acceptable for a woman to appear in public without a head covering, although this may partly reflect the fact that the sample in Lebanon was 27% Christian. Demographic information, including results by gender, were not included in the public release of this survey.
RT
American-allied nations are secretly helping ISIS to grow - US Colonel Ann Wright
Edited: 201409080901
The US invasion of Iraq in 2003 came with many warnings that it would lead to a dire consequences for the whole region. A decade later, and the brutal jihadists from ISIS are dominating the north of the devastated country. Now, the US is again mulling the possibility of sending its army to Iraq once more - but would that actually help solve the issue? From where does the money come for the Islamic State? Is America obliged to save Iraq after what it's done to that nation? We ask these questions to American Colonel and former diplomat Ann Wright on Sophie&Co today.

Follow @SophieCo_RT

Sophie Shevardnadze:Colonel, the 2003 war in Iraq was a reason you left the U.S. military after many years. Do you feel the roots of what’s happening now lie back then?

Ann Wright: Well, yes. In 2003 I did resign from the Federal government. I actually had order to retire from the military; I was a U.S. diplomat, and I was one of the three diplomats who resigned in opposition to the war in Iraq. And I do feel that there are so many similarities now, 11 years later with the issue that the Obama administration is bringing forward, and they are seeming intent that they will be using military force to resolve the further issues in Iraq, and perhaps even in Syria.

SS: But what I really meant was that… I’m talking about ISIS expansion and the will of the ISIS to create a caliphate. Do you think that, what’s going on right now, has to do something with the invasion in Iraq in 2003, or those are two separate things?

AW: I think they are two separate things. Certainly, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq has precipitated what we now see, 11 years later, with the growth of ISIS and other forces that initially came in to the region to battle with Assad in Syria, but are taking the opportunity with the disarray that came starting with the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. And then, the Al-Maliki government that has been so brutal towards the Sunnis in Iraq, that the ability of ISIS to move remarkably quickly, to gain territories in Syria and now in Iraq is very worrisome and dangerous.

SS: Now, president Obama has authorized deployment of additional 350 american troops to Iraq. Last month, the U.S. launched an aerial campaign against the Islamic State. Will any good come out of this?

AW: Well, the issue of the protection of the U.S. facilities in Baghdad and other cities of Iraq by U.S. military forces is one rational for the deployment of certain number of military folks. And then, the administration has already said that they will be sending in special forces to help train or re-train Iraq military to battle ISIS. And also, the use of CIA operatives up in the north, in northern Iraq and the Kurdish area of Iraq - one could argue that this does give the Iraqi military and the Kurdish Peshmerga a better opportunity to battle ISIS. One of the fears, though, is that the continuation of the U.S. providing U.S. military equipment will end up as we've seen what has happened now, when ISIS has overrun Iraqi military facilities and have taken U.S. military equipment that has been given to the Iraqi military. So, one of the great dilemmas is when you start funneling more military equipment into this type of situation, it may be turned up on you as we've seen - that equipment now being in hands of ISIS and being used to battle almost in one way the remnants of the Iraqi military.

SS: Steven Sotloff was the second journalist executed by the Islamic State. Let’s hear president Obama’s response to this:

OBAMA: And those who make a mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.

SS: Now, the U.S. president has vowed to avenge the death of U.S. journalist and called for the war plan to be drawn up. Should there be further involvement?

AW: Well, indeed, it’s horrific what ISIS is doing, not only to the international media, to U.S. reporters that are being beheaded, but in even greater measure, what ISIS is doing to Iraqis and Syrians that they have captured. The wholesale murder, massacre of large numbers of Iraqi military and people in villages who have repelled or attempted to repel the ISIS military onslaught. There’s no doubt about it, ISIS is very brutal, terrible group of people who are rampaging across that area of the world.

SS: Well, yeah, but that’s my question - does the U.S. really have any other choice but to get involved and act in the face of these kidnappings?

AW: The people that have been kidnapped - I mean, the international folks have been in the hands of ISIS for quite a few months now. The beheadings of course are horrific, and as vice-president Biden has said...something about the “gates of hell” being opened; I think the administration certainly feels the pressure that something needs to be done about it, about this group of horrific people. Now, whether it is further american military on the ground - I suspect not, because the feeling in the U.S. is that we do not want our military involved in ground operations any further in Iraq or in Syria. However, I do believe that the types of pressure that can be put on groups that do support ISIS, that have allowed ISIS to purchase military equipment, that are working with ISIS to buy on the black market oil from the oil fields that ISIS has captured - I think that’s really where ultimately the pressure points are…

SS: Which groups are you talking about? Could you be more precise?

AW: If you look at who is behind the oil, who is behind the oil from those oil fields, where it is going, through what borders is it going - some of it is going up into Turkey, so you've got to put pressure on the Turkish government to stop the flow of oil; you've got to put pressure on the Turkish government to stop allowing these large groups of international fighters that have crossed the border from Turkey for the last several years. I would say, you have to put pressure on the Saudis: the Saudis have been pouring a large amounts of money, as have the governments of Kuwait and of Qatar, into various groups of the foreign fighters.

SS: But so had the Americans, I don’t think these are the only people that are funding the foreign fighters in Syria. Americans are the ones who are funding them just as much as are the Qataris or the Saudis…

AW: Yes, I totally agree with you on that; I do not believe that they are funding ISIS, the U.S. is funding other, what they think are more moderate groups that are fighting the Assad government, but the ones I was actually talking about were those that either by turning a blind eye, or by actually funneling money and weapons into ISIS are giving it the power to gain territory and hold it.

SS: So there’s my question - the U.S. has propped up many allies that it later had to confront. The likes of Al-Qaeda, or Taliban - do you feel like it contributed to the rise of ISIS in Syria as well - involuntarily, of course - by funding the rebels?

AW: Certainly, the instability that has been caused by the U.S., starting 10, 11 years ago, from 2003, with the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and earlier than that, the U.S. going in to Afghanistan after 9/11 - all of those events have triggered a large number of people from Arab and Muslim worlds, who have to the U.S.: “we don’t like what you’re doing in those areas”, and they have been coming in to Iraq and in Afghanistan and have been trained, and equipped and then have been available to go to other parts of the world, including Libya, to act as mercenaries for whomever wants to hire them.

SS:Now, if president Obama had launched a bombing campaign in Syria in 2013, do you think that could have stopped the rise of ISIS?

AW: One could argue that yes, bombing of not only ISIS but of other radical groups in Syria could perhaps have decimated some of their fighting force. However, the thing that people are very concerned about is that that in itself is drawing more of the foreign fighters to the fight, that indeed the U.S. bombing of Muslim fighters does draw in even more of the Muslim fighters.

SS: Just to wrap the subject of ISIS in Iraq - do you feeling like that Washington has the responsibility for the future of Iraq and what becomes of it?

AW: Part of the problem is, first, the initial invasion and occupation by the Bush administration; then, you have the Al-Maliki government that was… many people say that U.S. put that government in: Al-Maliki who brought in more Shia leaders and pushed out the Sunni leaders that should have been brought in to the government that was all-inclusive of all of the groups in Iraq. One could say that the U.S. has spent billions of dollars on the training and equipping Iraqi military and it folded against the force that was not nearly as large as it actually was. I personally, as a person that resigned initially over the theory that military force was going to resolve the issue of Saddam Hussein regime, I don’t believe that further use of our military is what ultimately going to resolve the issues in that region.

SS: Afghanistan is another unresolved issue - the U.S. troops may leave for good by the end of this year, but will the weak Afghan government be left to deal with the Taliban like Iraq was left to deal with ISIS, what do you think?

AW: You’re exactly right - here we have Afghanistan after 13 years that U.S. has been involved in there, and weak government, in fact, it is still disputed on who’s going to be the next president of the country. You have many of the people who were called warlord prior to the U.S. invasion, or the groups of people that the U.S. hired to work with it to push the Taliban and Al-Qaeda out, many of them with severe human rights abuses allegations to start with… I myself am not too optimistic that here, 13 years later and hundreds of billions of dollars later and the expenditure of tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives, that the future of Afghanistan is a stable secure country, where all groups will be treated honestly and fairly and that country will progress in a way that one would hope it would - I myself am not very optimistic about it.

SS: Now, ISIS is being called the “new Al-Qaeda”, but the actual Al-Qaeda has declared a new front in India. How do these groups fit together? Are we seeing expansion into new territory after ISIS took over the old “feeding grounds”?

AW: It’s kind of “targets of opportunity” it looks like that various groups are using. As ISIS fills into one area of Iraq and Syria and becomes the dominant force there, Al-Qaeda is looking for another place where it can stake its own territory. Certainly it had its inroads into Pakistan… It’s interesting here that they indeed have claimed that they are going to India.

SS: So, what are we going to see? Jihadist corporate rivalry unraveling?

AW: Indeed, “Jihadist inc.” When we really look at it, sadly, throughout the North Africa and the Middle East and then going on into South Asia, you do see the rise of various types of militant groups, to include not only Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Al-Nusra; you've got the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban. It is a growth industry. You look also to Libya, where there are many groups, each fighting for different parts of the territory of the country, to the extent that the U.S. had to close its embassy there, because none of the locations where we had embassies or consulates are safe enough, in the opinion of the State Department, that we can leave our diplomats. So, it is a tragic function in this era, that we see the growth and expansion of these jihadist groups.

SS: You've mentioned earlier on in the program that the pressure should be put on groups that are actually helping ISIS to get money from the oil sales - it’s true that ISIS is raking in billions through things like oil. Could this movement be more about money than establishing a religious state?

AW: I think it certainly is a movement about money, it’s a very well-funded organisation, but from I gather, it is a group that is intent on establishing a geographical location for it’s beliefs, the caliphate that they talk about. They intent to hold territory and indeed they have, to the extent that they control major cities, that they are generating their own income through oil and I think it is going to be a challenge for the international community to go in and push them back from these established areas that they've had some of them for almost a year now.

SS: Israeli-Palestinian conflict is something that you've also spoken a lot about, spoken strongly against the Israeli offensive in Gaza. Is there any way that international pressure can push Israel into a genuine peace process?

AW: It’s a very good question. How the international community has pressured Israel - has been ineffective, mainly because it really hasn't used the full force that it has at its disposal. The U.S. itself could do much more to pressure Israel to stop the illegal settlements of which they have just announced that they are annexing a thousand acres of Palestinian land into Israel. The pressure to stop the occupation of the West Bank and to lift the siege of Gaza - these are things that have been demands of the Palestinians for the longest time. The U.S. is the greatest pressure point of Israel, because we give Israel almost $3 bn a year in military assistance alone, plus all sorts of economic incentives. The U.S. is allowing itself to be pressured by very large and well-funded Zionist lobby that works for the protection of the State of Israel, and works primarily in the U.S. Congress to threaten the U.S. Congress people that if they don’t vote for pro-Israeli issues then they will be turned out of office; we've seen that AIPAC, the American-Israeli Public Affairs committee, the big lobby for Israel, has been very effective at threatening and scaring and then trowing out of office people that say that they are going to look honestly at what’s happening there, and may support the Palestinian cause in cases.

SS: I want to talk a little bit about Hamas. You know how the appearance of ISIS with its deliberate focus on cruelty and no compromises, does it make you feel like it’s easier to treat groups like Hamas with more respect? As a matter of fact, you know, “we don’t negotiate with the terrorists” - that attitude is almost universal, but do you feel like maybe these days there are groups of terrorists that you can talk to and that slogan actually should change?

AW: Yes, I certainly think so, and the latest of this week, the Israeli propaganda is that “ISIS is Hamas, Hamas is ISIS” - well, that’s just not true. Hamas was elected as the governing body of Gaza. I don’t agree with the rockets that Hamas and other groups in Gaza have sent into Israel, but the level of violence that is between Palestinians and Israelis is overwhelmingly from the Israeli side towards the Palestinian side - there’s no doubt about that. Over 2000 Palestinians were killed versus 64 Israelis in this latest attack, and in 2009, fourteen hundred Palestinians versus 11 Israelis… Hamas does not have 24 hour drone coverage over Israel, it does not have F-16 that are bombing Israel every single day as is happening with the Israelis in their naval attacks and ground attacks, and air attacks on Gaza. So, there’s a very distinct difference in the level and the proportion of violence in there.

SS: Thank you so much for this wonderful interview. Colonel Ann Wright, U.S. veteran and former diplomat. We were talking about what brought upon the spread of ISIS and could it be contained, and also are there terrorists that we can talk to, and are there groups that we can’t. That’s it for this edition of Sophie&Co, we’ll see you next time.
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28 April 1949: The London Declaration: Commonwealth of Nations
Edited: 194904280917
The London Declaration was a declaration issued by the 1949 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference on the issue of India's continued membership in the Commonwealth of Nations after its transition to a republican constitution. It was made in London on 28 April 1949 and marked the birth of the modern Commonwealth. The declaration had two main provisions: It allowed the Commonwealth to admit and retain members that were not Dominions, so including both republics and indigenous monarchies, and it changed the name of the organisation from the British Commonwealth to the Commonwealth of Nations, reflecting the first change. The Declaration recognised King George VI as Head of the Commonwealth. Following his death, the Commonwealth leaders recognised Queen Elizabeth II in that capacity.

The London Declaration
The Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New
Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Ceylon, whose countries are
united as Members of the British Commonwealth of Nations and owe a
common allegiance to the Crown, which is also the symbol of their free
association, have considered the impending constitutional changes in
India.
The Government of India have informed the other Governments of the
Commonwealth of the intention of the Indian people that under the new
constitution which is about to be adopted India shall become a sovereign
independent republic. The Government of India have however declared
and affirmed India’s desire to continue her full membership of the
Commonwealth of Nations and her acceptance of The King as the symbol
of the free association of its independent member nations and as such the
Head of the Commonwealth.
The Governments of the other countries of the Commonwealth, the basis
of whose membership of the Commonwealth is not hereby changed,
accept and recognise India’s continuing membership in accordance with
the terms of this declaration.
Accordingly the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand,
South Africa, India, Pakistan and Ceylon hereby declare that they remain
united as free and equal members of the Commonwealth of Nations,
freely co-operating in the pursuit of peace, liberty and progress.
26 April 1949