Follow the links to read the whole thing.
Last week a court in the Saudi city of Medina sentenced a Saudi woman to three years in jail for the severe physical abuse of her Indonesian maid.
Sumiati Binti Salan Mustapa, 23, was admitted to a hospital in November with broken bones and burns to her face and body. The Saudi woman for whom she found work as a maid was arrested after allegedly beating Sumiati so severely she had broken bones and internal bleeding.
She also was accused of putting a hot iron to Sumiati’s head and stabbing and mutilating her with scissors. . . .
Just two years ago in a case that grabbed headlines, Abdul-Aziz al-Mutairi, 22, suffered a spinal injury which left him paralyzed when he was struck with a cleaver intentionally by another man. Saoud bin Suleiman al-Youssef, a Shariah judge of the northwestern Tabuk province has contacted several hospitals in the area to see if they could perform a surgical procedure on the attacker which would paralyze him. The sentence was based on the Shariah concept of “an eye for an eye.” . . .
In the case of the Indonesian woman it is reasonable to ask ourselves why the Shariah judge did not use the same principle that had been used in al-Mutairi’s case.
Can this be related to the fact that the victim was not a Saudi citizen? In other words, would the Shariah court limit the punishment for the assailer if the situation was the other way around and the Indonesian servant was the one who tortured the Saudi woman?
Furthermore, when we see that the punishment was only three years in prison for the Saudi woman after torturing another human being to this extent and, on the other hand, realize that a Lebanese man charged with sorcery or future telling had been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia and was scheduled to be beheaded in March 2010, we must question not only the Shariah but the whole justice system that permits these bizarre situations to exist.
Tawfik Hamid, “Shariah Doles Out Disparate Punishment,” Newsmax, January 14, 2011
Arab dictators have good reason to be afraid in light of the ouster of Tunisian President Zein al-Abideen Bin Ali, political analysts and newspaper columnists in the Arab world said over the weekend. . . .
“The revolution of the Tunisian people has left many Arab leaders panicking,” said political analyst Sami al-Buhairi. “What happened to Bin Ali was an unprecedented humiliation for an Arab leader.” . . .
Analyst Ahmed Lashin said he did not rule out the possibility that the entire Arab world would be engulfed in chaos in wake of the Tunisian “revolution.” He noted that anti-government demonstrations have already taken place in Algeria and Jordan.
“The Arabs have been repressed for too long,” he said. “They are eager for change and are on the verge of explosion.” . . .
Under the title, Thank You To the Tunisian People, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi, wrote: “The next few days could be critical for most of the Arab dictatorships. The living conditions in Tunisia are still better than most of the Arab countries. Moreover, the Tunisian dictatorship was less repressive than its sister dictatorships in the Arab world.”
Atwan suggested that the US Administration prepare an island in the Pacific Ocean to receive its Arab friends and dictators “the same way it opened Guantanamo Prison for Al-Qaida men.”
Khaled Abu Toameh, “Analysis: A warning to Arab dictators,” Jerusalem Post, January 15, 2011
Iran’s state-controlled media has been widely presenting the ouster of the Tunisian president as a revolution, one inspired by Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979. The comments below show Iranians from different walks of life reacting to the “Tunisian revolution.”
“God liberated (wait for it) Tunisia! Dear Lord to the right, right, right — no that’s Afghanistan. A little to the left. That’s it, that’s Iran (help help save us) please liberate us too.”
–Courtesy of “You Call This a Country” blog. . .
“Alcohol must be free in Tunisia. All revolutions are the result of alcohol consumption. Vodka started the Russian Revolution, wine the French Revolution, and beer was responsible for our revolution.”
—Armenian-Iranian,32 . . . .
“Tunisians have really gone overboard. The last revolution was ours — it’s fine with us if you want to copy our revolution, just don’t forget to pay us our copyright.”
—Graphic designer,25. . . .
“Ben Ali, please tell Seyyed Ali [Khamenei] to follow you wherever you go!”
—Joke among Tehranis
“Iranian Voices: Tunisia and ‘Exporting the Revolution,’”Tehran Bureau, January 16, 2011
I must confess that, after years of closely observing Iran’s strategies abroad, I find its growing presence in Latin America to be the most disturbing geopolitical development the region is facing today. Iran’s presence is Messianic in its goals and relentless in its tactics. It is intimately related to narcoterrorism, both in its own practice and in the groups and activities it sponsors. The key to its expanding reach has been Hugo Chávez.
Recently, a journalist from an important news outlet in Venezuela questioned the importance I attribute to Iranian embassies in Latin America. “They are just embassies,” he told me. To which I answered that our concept of what embassies are, or should be, has little to do with how Iran and its peers conceive of them. For these regimes, an embassy is a platform for terrorism. We need only to remember that two of the most brutal terrorist attacks in recent times in the region were ordered by Tehran and were planned and executed by Iranian agents operating directly from Iran’s embassy in Buenos Aires. . . .
On his part, Hugo Chávez—Venezuela’s autocratic President—is acting as a go-between for Iran’s penetration strategy. He opens the doors to leaders of countries under his influence for the Iranians, like the Bolivian Evo Morales, the Ecuadorian Rafael Correa and the Nicaraguan Daniel Ortega. Recently, Chávez made his ninth visit to Tehran. Lately we have learned that Chávez also acts as a front man, facilitating Iranian arms purchases banned by UN sanctions. I refer to the fact, reported in the international press, that while in Moscow recently Chávez publicly announced that he would buy the batteries for the S-300 surface-to-air missiles whose sale to Iran Russia had to cancel in compliance with the new UN rules. This raises suspicion about the massive arms purchases already made by Chávez, in quantities that go well beyond the conceivable needs of any single country like Venezuela. . . .
We must also remember that Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamic theocracy, always maintained that the Islamic Revolution had to transcend the national level and be exported to other countries, even by imposing it on other Islamic nations with non-theocratic governments. For Khomeini, the constitutional provision “to perpetuate the revolution at home and abroad” implied not only preaching and propagating the Islamic faith, but also engaging in confrontation and armed struggle. It is not surprising then that a regime that is expansionist by definition would, through the years, develops a clear policy of state-sponsored terrorism, directly and indirectly executed through organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas.
Chávez’s regime shares the same expansionist drive, which translates into a strategic identification with Iran’s theocracy. In effect, while autocracy has been, unfortunately, a relatively common phenomenon in Latin America’s turbulent history, the authoritarianism of Chávez is of an aggressively expansionist nature: for him, it is not enough to ruthlessly impose it in Venezuela (as past dictators limited themselves to doing in this and other Latin American countries); it must also be transplanted to other countries and, if possible, to all the countries in the region. . . .
With the unlimited support of Chávez and with his tactics to control countries, earn their support, or silence their criticism, Iran’s diplomatic efforts in the region have borne significant results. Nicaragua, for instance, has expressed its support for the Iranian nuclear program. Venezuela and Cuba, in turn, have confirmed on multiple occasions their opposition to any sanctions imposed on Tehran for its non-compliance with resolutions of the UN Security Council and its Nuclear Agency. Furthermore, Iran’s diplomatic presence in the region has been continually expanding: it has reopened embassies in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Uruguay, and it has opened a new one in Nicaragua with a disproportionate number of “diplomats,” in spite the fact that their ties, commercial or otherwise, are utterly insignificant. . . .
The danger here is that the ties to the Ayatollahs entail much more than what the countries in the region may be expecting. We must remember that Iran is considered “the most active state sponsor of terrorism.” Thanks to Chavez’s ties to Iran, Hamas has opened offices in Caracas, as has the terrorist group Hezbollah, which Tehran finances with over 120 million dollars a year.
As the Los Angeles Times has reported, Western government officials fear that Hezbollah “may be using Venezuela as a base for its operations.” An official involved in the fight against terrorism told the Times that the relation between Venezuela and Iran “is becoming a strategic association.” How to explain otherwise the regular flights between Caracas and Tehran, for which no tickets are sold and no immigration or customs inspections are required?
Jaime Darenblum, “Iranian Penetration Posing a Threat in Latin America,” Mexidata, January 17, 2011
Iran has banned the production of Valentine’s Day gifts and any promotion of the day celebrating romantic love to combat what it sees as a spread of Western culture, Iranian media reported. . . .
The printing works owners’ union issued an instruction on the ban, imposed by Iranian authorities, covering gifts such as cards, boxes with the symbols of hearts and red roses.
“Honouring foreign celebrations is the spread of Western culture,” said the union’s head, Ali Nikou Sokhan, ILNA news agency reported. “Our country has an ancient civilisation and various days to honour kindness, love and affection.”
Mitra Amiri, “Iran bans production of Valentine’s Day gifts,” Reuters, January 18, 2011
J Street is calling on Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to return campaign contributions that she received from Irving Moskowitz, the financier behind the new construction at the Shepherd’s Hotel site. Yes, the George Soros–fundedJ Street is criticizing someone for taking money from a controversial philanthropist. . . .
This whole campaign comes down to one thing. Ros-Lehtinen is one of the strongest friends of Israel in Congress, and her new, prominent position on the House Foreign Affairs Committee is terrifying to J Street.
Alana Goodman, “J Street Launches Campaign Against Ros-Lehtinen,” Commentary, January 19, 2011
As for Tunisia, if countries could say, “I told you so,” Israel would be well within its rights. It turns out that it is not the Israeli occupation or Zionist expansionism or the Mossad conspiracies that can enrage the Arab masses to the point of open revolt — it is their own leaders, who have used Israel, waving it like a red flag in front of the angry mobs to distract them from their own corrupt, incompetent rule. Go ahead, Israel, say it: “I told you so.”
Rob Eshman, “Opportunity Knocks,” Jewish Journal, January 19, 2011
The Kuwaiti newspaper Al Rai reported that Hezbollah activists performed a drill on Monday attempting to take over the Lebanese capitol of Beirut. According to the report, the activists practiced “a real, unarmed drill meant to test their readiness to takeover Beirut and its surroundings, including airports and harbors.”
There have been reports of groups of men – dressed in trademark Hezbollah black – gathering on Beirut streets on Tuesday raising tensions that later quietly dispersed. It seems that the group focused their drill on 12 strategic locations among them some UN institutions. . . .
The militant group has said in the past it would not allow the authorities to arrest or indict any of its members and is now threatening to take over Lebanon by force.
Dana Karni, “Hezbollah Staged a Mock Takeover of Beirut,” Fox News, January 19, 2011
Part of getting where we must go comes from transforming this from abstract concept to the realm of the possible. A key point of strength is to impart a sense of inevitability. That’s highly transformative, both on Israelis and Palestinians. I’m betting on that. The minute you begin to equivocate, you become an analyst. I’m not an analyst. I’m immersed in this. My soul is in it. I can’t project anything but full confidence. I could care less how I’m viewed. It’s not about legacy. It’s about a state that will be born this year. Come to me on Aug. 25 (Aug. 26 is the deadline) and I’ll be saying, “We still have one day left.” That’s me. Unless we have the spirit to defy it, it’s not going to happen. Unless we believe it, how is it going to become a reality? Let the skeptics have second thoughts. I have no Plan B. No parachute.
Salam Fayyad, quoted in Edmund Sanders, “Leader Salam Fayyad seeks to make Palestinian statehood inevitable,” Los Angeles Times, January 21, 2011