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Planning that dream N. African vacation? Check out our free travel guide

This is a travel guide for anyone planning that North African dream vacation you’ve always wanted to take. There’s a number of great options, although each one has its own character. And with the Muslim Brother ascending to power across North Africa, that local character appears to be in flux so a decent travel guide is a great way so save money. You don’t want to have to cancel those tickets.

Egypt, the crown jewel of North African tourism, is a must-see country. One word. Pyramids. That’s all you need to know. And with Egypt being one of the countries in the process of getting Muslim-Brotherhooded (it’s a trend), one might reasonably ask the question, “can I see the pyramids AND get trashed in Egypt now that the MB is the Powers that Be?” That’s an excellent question. With the MB poised to take control of all the levers of power in Egypt there have been understandable concerns about just how tourism-friendly an Islamist Egypt might be. Prospective visitors looking for indications of how an MB-run Egypt might treat future tourists should note that the MB has professed a strong committment to the health of Egypt’s business sector. While Western journalist often find this surprising, it’s actually a highly consistent trait in throughout the history of this fascist Islamist organization of Egypian origin. Yes, history is coming alive in Egypt. More specifically, the history of 20th century Islamofascist economic theory is coming alive in Egypt:

Financial Times
May 16, 2012 5:07 pm
Islamists in tune with west over economy

By Jane Kinninmont

One of the significant realignments resulting from the Arab spring is the growing warmth between western policy makers and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. This is born out of necessity, but strengthened by the surprising discovery that on economic issues, the west and the Islamists often see eye to eye.

Many of the discussions between these two groups are not about the veil, alcohol or even Camp David, but about business, investment and jobs.

When it comes to the economy, the Brotherhood’s policy framework does not represent a radical change from the past, though there is more focus on social justice and fighting corruption: one reason Islamists are popular is because they are seen as untainted by the bribery and cronyism that bedevilled the former regime of Hosni Mubarak.

Although some Egyptians distrust the private sector, Brotherhood representatives see it as the engine of growth. They are keen to reassure western investors that Egypt – by far the largest country in the Arab world with a population of 85m – remains a promising place for businesses. Their failure to take a clear stance on a proposed $3.2bn International Monetary Fund loan to Egypt seems to reflect internal politicking more than economic ideology; they want the cabinet to be replaced, and it is not in their interest to see funds roll in to support the current one.

Mainstream Islamists in Tunisia and Morocco have also emphasised free trade, and they hope international investors can help them create the jobs their constituents need. Leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood have been welcoming western business delegations to the country, and their political party, Freedom and Justice, met senior British investors and policy makers in the UK in March.

The Salafists are developing their own ideas about the economy, and are doing more than most to flag the need to develop the neglected and insecure Sinai; one of their MPs said it could become a Dubai-style trade zone. An Al-Nour economic spokesman has said the party’s aims for “halal tourism” are to create a parallel, sharia-compliant market rather than banning alcohol or swapping bikinis for burkinis. Any smart politician would think twice before messing with an industry that attracted 14m visitors annually before the revolution.

Western policy makers have barely begun to revise their recommendations for Egypt’s economy, despite the large-scale dissatisfaction with the western-backed economic policies of Mubarak’s final years. Investors can help create jobs, but sustainable development will need to go far beyond boosting trade and investment to focus on issues such as decent working conditions, living wages, literacy, potable water and air pollution (the sixth worst in the world).

If the Muslim Brotherhood’s private-sector focus fails to address these issues, there could be an angrier, hungrier uprising to come. Could the next Egyptian revolution be against a western-backed Muslim Brotherhood?

As you can see, with the ultra-conservative Salafists calling for ‘Dubai-style’ free-trade zone in the SInai (sounds saucy!), there appears to be a direct correlation between a party’s religious fervor and their committment to far-right economic argle-bargle in today’s Egypt. And that seems to be true in Morocco an Tunisia too! Plus, the Salafist calls for ‘halal tourism’ are merely intended for a parallel tourist sector. So take heart, dear travelers, the general consensus amongst international observors is that the MB is merely talking about laws like banning alcohol, gender-separated beaches, and general religious lunatic stuff that will kill tourism, etc. They won’t, it appears, actually do it:

Bikini, alcohol ban ‘just attempt to win votes’
Oliver Smith
The Telegraph, London
June 1, 2012

Egyptian tourism authorities have sought to reassure travellers about the future of the country as a holiday destination, despite fears of a crackdown on the sale of alcohol and calls for segregated beaches.

Last week Mohamed Morsi of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) received a quarter of the votes in the country’s first presidential elections since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. A run-off for the presidency between Morsi and Ahmed Shafik – a prime minister under Mubarak – is due to take place on June 16 and 17.

Extreme factions within the FJP, which possesses a parliamentary majority and has strong links to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, have demanded a ban on the sale of alcohol across the country, while calls have also been made for Egypt’s beaches to be segregated by sex and for revealing swimwear to be outlawed. It is feared that the election of Morsi could see such policies put in place, but representatives from the country’s tourism industry said any changes would face strong opposition.

These calls are just rhetoric – it is an attempt to win votes,” said Omayma El Husseini, director of the Egyptian Tourist Office. “These people can say and promise what they want but they will not deliver anything.”

She added that economic concerns would make such changes disastrous and suggested that an “intellectual conflict” was developing in the country.

“Tourism is very important to Egypt – it is the second highest contributor to GDP,” she said. “The tourism industry and the liberal Muslims in Egypt will not let them screw it up.”

So are the calls for alcohol bans, bikini bans, and gender segregated beaches all just campaign lies rhetoric in order to secure votes? Well, that’s certainly a possibility, especially given the MB’s rapidly earned reputation for lying to the public agressive campaign tactics. Then again, Mohammed Morsi is reported to be ‘more conservative than the conservatives‘ according to MB insiders so the signals are rather mixed at this time.

So if you happen to be planning a booze & bikinis-based vacation somewhere near a pyramid any time soon, you might want to make it REALLY soon. Next week-ish could word. Or you may need to postpone those ticket purchases for a couple of weeks. The 2nd round of the presidential election between Mohommed Morsi and Mubarak-era strongman Ahmed Shafiq is scheduled for June 16th, so this issue might be resolved by then. That assumes Shafiq wins, in which case the beaches should definitly be open for business, although you might want to avoid pissed off looking men riding camels.

And if you’re really anxious to book those plane tickets and can’t wait until the 16th to decide, well…you’re sort of in luck because we might know how this all plays out even sooner. And why is that? Well, because the MB, along with ‘ex’-MB candidate Abde Moneim Aboul Fotuoh and youth-backed candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, are moving to get Shafiq thrown off the ballot. This is expected to invalidate the election, postpone the military’s hand over of power, and force a new presidential vote, sans Shafiq:

NY Times
More Protests Loom in Egypt, Targeting Candidacy of Mubarak’s Prime Minister
Published: June 4, 2012

CAIRO – The presidential candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood and two popular rivals eliminated before the runoff called on Monday for further street protests until Egypt’s current military rulers enforce legislation disqualifying the other remaining candidate, former President Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafik.

In a joint statement, the candidates also endorsed a call for a major demonstration on Tuesday to protest what they called the weak verdict handed down over the weekend in Mr. Mubarak’s trial. Their statement was the most forceful effort yet to use anger over the verdict to galvanize opposition to Mr. Shafik, long considered a contender to succeed Mr. Mubarak inside his authoritarian one-party system. But it was also the latest blow to the credibility of Egypt’s first competitive presidential election.

The call for Mr. Shafik’s elimination came less than two weeks before he is set to face Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in the runoff, scheduled for June 16 and 17. The new president is expected to take power from the military council that has governed since Mr. Mubarak’s ouster 16 months ago; attempts to draft a new constitution have so far deadlocked, which means the new president could play a formative role in the shaping of Egypt’s charter.

The Muslim Brotherhood said in its own statement that all three candidates agreed to demand not only a retrial of Mr. Mubarak but also legal action against Mr. Shafik for his role as Mr. Mubarak’s prime minister, “bringing to justice those accused of conniving with the defendants by hiding evidence, including the prime minister and minister of interior during that period, who are now seeking to abort the revolution.”

The Brotherhood urged support for Mr. Morsi as “the candidate of the revolution.” The Brotherhood is Egypt’s largest Islamist movement and dominates the newly elected Parliament. But Mr. Morsi and Mr. Shafik each won just under a quarter of the vote in the first round of balloting last month, with Mr. Morsi just ahead of Mr. Shafik.

Earlier Monday, three eliminated candidates – Hamdeen Sabahi, a leftist who narrowly trailed Mr. Shafik in the first round; Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a moderate former Brotherhood leader who came in next with about 18 percent of the vote; and Khaled Ali, a human rights lawyer – held a joint news conference to denounce the results of the first round as fraudulent, citing irregularities and limits on monitoring.

International observers have said many isolated abuses did not sabotage the overall fairness of the vote, and the three losing candidates did not present new evidence. But because the three together had the support of nearly half the voters – more than either candidate in the runoff – their joint criticism threatens to undermine the legitimacy of the final result and with it Egypt’s halting transition to democracy.

Mr. Aboul Fotouh and Mr. Sabahi met separately with Mr. Morsi of the Brotherhood to issue the statement calling for more protests and the elimination of Mr. Shafik. Before the first round of the voting, the Brotherhood-led Parliament passed legislation barring Mr. Shafik and other top officials of the Mubarak government from seeking the presidency, and the ruling generals signed it. But the presidential election commission set the legislation aside by referring it to the Supreme Constitutional Court, and the court has not ruled on the matter.

It is highly unlikely that the legislation could be approved and enforced before the runoff, in part because the election commission has said that it intends to retain the last word on how the legislation is carried out even if the court approves the restriction. Mr. Shafik’s elimination would require the cancellation of the first round of results since there is no way to know which other candidate his voters might have chosen. As a result, the military’s transfer of power would be postponed.

Yes, a court ruling that kicks out Shafiq and invalidates the first round of the election is unlikely (although not entirely without precedent). And with no clear front-runner, it looks like prospective tourists could be looking elsewhere for that dream North African vacation. Fortunately, there are quite a few options for such adventurous travelers: For instance, there’s always Tunisia:

Protests threaten Tunisia tourism recovery
May 28, 2012 07:24AM GMT

A shadow has been cast over a recovery in international tourism to Tunisia amid reports of rioting by anti-alcohol protesters.

Bars and shops were attacked on Saturday as religious tensions rose in the birthplace of the Arab spring uprisings, the Sunday Times reported.

Followers of a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam called Salafists rioted in protest at the arrest of four men in connection with previous attacks on alcohol sellers in the northwestern town of Jendouba. Police responded with tear gas.

The rioters threw rocks and petrol bombs at the police station and security base where the men were being held, setting fire to the station.

Hmmm….ok, well, Tunisia might have a bit of a ‘drinking problem’ at the moment. Well, Libya has great beaches, so that’s an option. Although you probably don’t want to buy plane tickets for your drean destination. Passage by boat is recommended:

Libyans ask “Where is the state?” after airport seized

By Hadeel Al Shalchi and Marie-Louise Gumuchian

TRIPOLI | Wed Jun 6, 2012 4:52am EDT

(Reuters) – Invading Libya’s biggest international airport was embarrassingly easy: the attackers cut the wire perimeter fence in broad daylight, and then drove onto the tarmac while airport security chiefs stood and watched.

The occupation of Tripoli airport for several hours on Monday by an armed militia force has compelled policymakers in Europe and the United States to ask what sort of country they helped create when they joined the campaign last year to force Muammar Gaddafi from office.

Libya, home to Africa’s biggest proven oil reserves, is free from Gaddafi’s repression, but it is a chaotic country where nearly a year on from the end of the revolt, the state still barely exists.

Garbage piles up uncollected in suburban streets, drivers park their cars in the middle of highways, and, as incidents like the attack on the airport underscore, rag-tag militias who answer only to their own commanders are more powerful than the police and army.

“How can these people … close the airport like this?” asked Adel Salama, a civil society activist in Zintan, a town whose fighters used to control the airport before handing over to the central government back in April.

If you happen to have a fear of boats and/or angry militias there’s still a number of wonderful North African locales where you can still dance the night away to a tune or two. Unfortunately, that no longer includes Timbuktu:

NY Times
In Timbuktu, Harsh Change Under Islamists
Published: June 2, 2012

BAMAKO, Mali – Isolated for centuries by the harsh desert that surrounds it, Timbuktu now finds itself even more cut off from the rest of the world.

Rebels who captured the city in northern Mali in April have imposed a form of hard-edged Islamic rule, prompting many residents to flee in fear and changing the face of what had been a tolerant and easygoing destination that drew tourists from around the world.

Women are now forced to wear full, face-covering veils. Music is banned from the radio. Cigarettes are snatched from the mouths of pedestrians. And the look of the ancient mud-brick town is changing. A centuries-old monument, the shrine of a 15th-century saint, has been defaced; bars have been demolished; and black flags have been hung around town to honor Ansar Dine, or Defenders of the Faith, the radical Islamist movement that emerged from the desert and turned life upside down.

“There is no liberty,” said Abdoulaye Ahmed, a tailor who fled Timbuktu and came to Mali’s capital last week. He added that the Islamist rebels “are constantly circulating with their guns. This is scaring people. The town is sinister.”

The situation is said to be especially troubling for women in Timbuktu. “Women are living in terrible fear,” said Baba Aicha Kalil, a well-known civic activist who is still living in the town, which once had a population of more than 50,000 but has experienced a significant exodus since the rebels moved in.

They want to put a veil on everything,” Mrs. Kalil said, reached over a crackly telephone line from Timbuktu, which is about 440 miles northeast of Bamako, at the edge of the Sahara. “They are everywhere, everywhere with their guns.”

All of northern Mali, an area the size of France, has been in the hands of a loose coalition of Islamists and nomadic Tuareg rebels since late March, when resistance by the Malian Army collapsed after a coup d’état by junior military officers in the capital.

Since the takeover, however, the Islamists of Ansar Dine, supported by Al Qaeda, have gained the upper hand over the Tuaregs, and they are aggressively promoting their brand of Islamic law, or Shariah.

Mrs. Kalil said that when the Islamists encountered young people of the opposite sex together, they forced them to marry on the spot.

“We don’t want the Shariah here,” she said. “Truly we are living in misery. Personally, I am deeply concerned.”

The ‘veil on everything’ theme might seem offputting at first, but that’s only until you see the savings on sunscreen. And marriage on the spot, eh? Involuntary marriage, no less! Well, that’s one nitch in the tourism market Mali has covered. So if involuntary spontaneous marriage is your ‘thing’, a trip to Timbuktu just might do. And don’t feel to bad about your involuntary spontaneous marriage fetish. It’s pretty twisted alright, but there’s a lot of fairly popular twisted fetishes and perversions out there. A lot. Watch out Vegas!

I hope you all found this a useful travel guide for uncertain times. And please do visit these destinations if it’s safe and you can afford it. Tourism really is more vital than ever to this region and it’s one of the primary driving forces in these societies against the madness of religious fundamentalism and tribalism. It keeps us all connected in mutually beneficial ways and that kind of international/inter-worldview cohesion is something in incredibly short supply these days. And with a global economy in free fall, tourism is poised to take a hit globally. That’s downright dangerous for much of the developing world so book those tickets if you can. If millions of drunken US college students can make it back from Mexico with their heads still screwed on straight anything is possible. It’s complicated.

Keep in mind that even in these crazy times even the crazy Islamists almost never shoot the tourists, especially in tourist-y areas. It doesn’t go down well with the locals. So seriously, buy those tickets and stay safe. It could do an immense amount of good right now.

Oh, and who am I kidding. Vegas, no one could replace you.


12 comments for “Planning that dream N. African vacation? Check out our free travel guide”

  1. @Pterrafractyl–

    Excellent, excellent work! Not only good analysis/editing but more than a little clever.

    I hate to say it, B-U-T, I told you so, specifically in the exhausting series morphing from the overlapping WikiLeaks analysis into the FTR#733-739 series about “The Muslim Brotherhood Spring.”

    This is not to engage in self-promotion/puffery, but, rather, to underscore that, once one has learned the ropes, as you clearly have, it is not difficult to anticipate the future, up to a point.

    The MB is “corporatist” and corporations are the dominant power on earth.

    Digging behind the “touchy/feely,” “progressive” veneer of the events of early 2011, it was clear that corporatism would be the order of the day. Those events were launched by the Bush administration, enhanced by the far-right, Nazi-linked WikiLeaks operation (with Karl Rove exerting a commanding presence in Sweden at the time), inspired by the CIA-linked theoretician Gene Sharp (financed by Peter Ackerman, convicted felon and “junk-bond king” Michael Milken’s right-hand man). None of this should come as a surprise.

    Real democracy and egalitarianism are anathema to the “men behind the curtain” in the “Corporate Spring.”

    What will be interesting to see is the extent to which the “tourism imperative” which would mandate booze and bikinis weighs against the religious dogma of those who would surgically remove women’s clitorises to keep them from having “impure thoughts.”

    Perhaps castrating MB members and Salafis could present a viable interim solution–female tourists could wear bikinis and the “altered” Islamists wouldn’t be tortured with “impure thoughts,” inspired by the sight of unclothed female anatomy.

    Another consideration concerns the extent to which the moguls of Western finance can realize their investment dreams in a society in which a third of all males and more than half of all women are illiterate.

    Again, good show! Looking forward to more eggs in the nest!

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | June 9, 2012, 5:25 pm
  2. @Dave: Truly, a masterpiece. Pterrafractyl has once again, hit the nail squarely on the head, while injecting a fair dose of wit & humor. =)

    Posted by Steve L. | June 9, 2012, 7:53 pm
  3. @Dave: Thanks. And yeah, it’s pretty awful that the best approach for anticipating the future appears to be learning the history of applied ponerology and mass mind-control(i.e. the awfulness that is mainstream media coverage and education, especially for topics of great importance). Part of what makes the Islamofascist nexus such an instructional chapter in the history of applied ponerology is that it encompasses two extremes of humanity’s “power for power’s sake, no holds barred” underlying madness that seems to drive so many of history’s worst movements. We have the cold, calculating, almost scientific fascism of the futurist hyper-“free market” Libertarians like Peter Thiel at one extreme coupled with the lunacy fundamentalist Imam (or Preachers or Rabbis) all working together to serving the same master: immense wealth and uncontestable control obtained through an ever-evolving application of fascist/authoritarian theories. Whether it’s a direct nexus like the Rove/Norquist/al-Taqwa/Huber millieu or an indirect common ground like both Thiel, the Salafists, the GOP, and nearly the entire EU apparently, all simultaneously embracing far-right economics and anti-democratic sentiments as the ONLY war forward.

    And in the mean time, all of this out of control human “development” is sending the ecosystem into some sort of free fall. Sadly, I’m increasingly suspecting that ecocollapse may be one the primary tools that the elites have in mind for all of the broken societies we’ve made. Especially in the Middle East and Africa. Climate change and the depletion of fresh water is ironically going to make many of the most densely populated regions of the world the most uninhabitable the soonest. That’s the self-reinforcing dynamic we’ve put into place between humanity, how we live (our global economy), and the biosphere. I just can’t see what could turn that dynamic around at this late stage in the battle to prevent ecocollapse and, quite frankly, I’m having an increasingly hard time believing that many of our elites don’t view ecocollapse as perhaps the most exciting and “useful” global crisis in history. A nice slow-ish crisis that gives humanity no choice in spending the next century enduring nature-enforced “austerity”. It guarantees that an endless sequence of “hard choices” that “no one wanted to make” are going to get made. But, somehow, an authoritarian corporatist model of society with pull through in the end (because that’s the only model that can be tried). It doesn’t just kill two birds with one stone. It gets them ALL (and who wouldn’t appreciate that!).

    Speaking of predictions, there was a panel discussion I happened to catch on CSPAN a couple of months ago that contained a great example of why I suspect our elites are no banking on ecocollapse: The March 3rd Federalist Society discussion was entitled “Effects of Regulation on Technology & Innovation”. Peter Thiel, one of the panelist, was asked a question that involved him giving his prediction of what the global economy is going to look like over the next 50 years. It was a world where all of Ayn Rands dark predictions come true and a lack of technological innovation due to government suffocation of the private sector results in the malthusian exhaustion of natural resources. Coal will also be the fuel of the 21st Century. Biotech and non-computer-science engineering fields are dead ends and the only two “Golden Gooses” that area still left out there to save humanity from a slow grind into oblivion are computers and finance. And Frank-Dodd killed the financial Golden-Goose on Wall Street so it’s down to just computers. Granted, this was a remarkably self-serving answer: an IT/finance billionaire see the world ending unless it sufficiently embraces his vision of finance and IT. Shocker. But the key aspect to his answer that I found telling is the recognition that humanity is facing a resource exhaustion “wall” And this was coming from a guy pushing for fascist sea-societies, space colonies, and the replacement of democracy with marketplaces. Whether or not Thiel wants collapse he preparing to profit immensely from it. And with all the articles about hedge fund managers becoming survivalists there’s just a growing trend of an expected systemic collapse. That’s going go be one hell of a mega-trend/meta-trend over the next few decades.

    So if hell on earth appears to be utopia for a powerful faction of the world’s oligarchs. At least financial utopia. Nice. That makes me inclined to predict that the long-term plan of the global elites for dealing with populations facing 50%+ rates of illiteracy and hopeless fundamentalist mania is simply to starve them out of existence. Just wait for “nature” to do its work in the form of a man-made ecological catastrophe and an endless sequence of incompetent attempts to use “market forces” to “fix” the “problem” (hint: the global poor will be a big part of the resource “problem” as smaller nations get trapped by collapsing ecosystems that kill their economies). It’s part of what makes the “Muslim Brotherhood Spring” so depressing. A movement started by desperate youth with no economic hope or future got highjacked by an international network of assholes that are doing their damnedest to ensure that there’s really no biological future at all in their countries. Forever.

    This danger of insane, fascist-driven resource depletion applies to the whole planet but the Muslim world is heavily concentrated in regions that could be rendered barely habitable by the trifecta of climate change, population explosion, and resource depletion. They’re sort of ground zero for eco-collapse and their religious/political leadership is leading that a massive swath of humanity off a cliff. First a bunch of poor Muslim nations get impoverished by ass backwards religious fundamentalism and/or horrendously corrupt secular governments, and then – as a consequence of the horrific mismanagement, wars, second class status for women, overpopulation, and all the other lunacy that inevitably comes with societies that embrace madness and happen to be the neighbors of the Military Industrial Complex – eventually these same societies get led up to a point where life will literally not be able to exist in their nations. At least not nearly as much life as before. That’s what I suspect the Muslim world’s rulers have in mind for their populaces: dumb ’em up and starve them out. And that applies for the vast majority of the rest of the planet regardless of religion.

    Growing up, I wouldn’t have ever believed a “starve the beast” scenario could become the de-facto rule for the 21st century but after a review of the history of 20th applied ponerology I just can’t rule it out anymore. Humanity’s leaders are actively steering the planet into the ground. “steering the planet into the ground” is a strange metaphor to apply to “the planet” given that it’s “the ground”, but it’s also an alarmingly apt metaphor for “the planet” if “the planet” is a metaphor for our biosphere. We are fucked ecologically speaking and that’s the dominant trend of the 21st century. Governments, especially Islamist governments, are doing nothing about while simultaneously pushing for population explosions and that’s pretty much like quietly pushing “the big red button”. Every one of these governments has to know that humanity’s hitting a real resource/pollution “wall”. We’re starting to see the first phase of in-your-face-across-the-board ecodegradation. It’s like the natural analog to the in-your-face-across-the-board fascist takeover of the levers of power that have taken place since JFK but way worse.

    Ugh. I didn’t intend to go on an eco-rant but the Muslim Brotherhood-style takeover of much of the world is increasingly looking like one of the largest slow motion train wrecks in history. Stupid economics coupled to stupid religion right when we hit the industrial age, high tech, and the reality of a full planet. And with climate change on top of all that. there’s just no real preparation at all being done for a very serious, upcoming age of real resource “austerity”. Just more religion and illiteracy. And if the literate world can have something like this printed year after year with no meaningful response, what chance does the illiterate world have?

    So, with all that in mind, if anyone was inclined to go on that dream eco-tourism adventure – like to a rainforest or something like that – you may need to book those tickets sooner rather than later:

    UN Environment Program report says environment is at breaking point
    AP From: AP June 07, 2012 11:37AM

    THE earth is being pushed to its biophysical limits and critical thresholds have already been exceeded, according to a grim new report from the UN.

    In a 525-page report on the health of the planet, the the United Nations Environment Program paints a grim picture.

    It says: “Several critical global, regional and local thresholds are close or have been exceeded.

    “… abrupt and possibly irreversible changes to the life-support functions of the planet are likely to occur.”

    The report, which was released overnight, says changes include rising sea levels, increased frequency and severity of floods and droughts, and the collapse of fisheries.

    The report, which compiles three years of work by 300 scientists, says about 20 per cent of vertebrate species are under threat of extinction, coral reefs have declined by 38 per cent since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions could double over the next 50 years, and 90 per cent of water and fish samples are contaminated by pesticides.

    It says little or no progress has been made over the past five years on nearly a third of the main environmental goals, including global warming. Significant progress has been made on just four of the 90 most important goals, the report says.

    “This is an indictment,” UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said at a news conference in Rio De Janeiro. “We live in an age of irresponsibility that is also testified and documented in this report.

    “In 1992 (when the first of the agency’s five reports was released) we talked about the future that was likely to occur.

    “This report 20 years later speaks to the fact that a number of the things that we talked about in the future tense in 1992 have arrived,” Steiner said.

    “Once the tipping point occurs, you don’t wake up the next morning and say, ‘This is terrible, can we change it?’ We are condemning people to not having the choice.”

    Steiner said: “Change is possible. Given what we know, we can move in another direction.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 10, 2012, 11:50 pm
  4. Dear Mr. Emory !

    I came to you here over Wikipedia by a Herff/Coogan -link**) under the J.v.Leers article, because I’m very interested in Johann von Leers, similar persons, nazi-islam and the german and euro prepositions and overlappins of “nordic”, new paganist, anti-christisan and antisemite ideologies or imagines with islam doctrine and powers like MB.
    Minutes ago I found a new study research group about person and work of this propagandist of uglyness Prof. J.v. Leers, installed at university of Würzburg . . .

    – If You have more about race hygienist Amin Omar Leers ?

    But I think that it’s not anough only to pay attention to this multi nazi activist as the possible german main link to islam a n d possibly as a spotlight to a post-1945 new german- or euro- arab antiwest imperialist strategy, how it von Leers spelled in his wikipedia quoted letter to US-fascist H. Keith Thomson.
    And, together with some other facts and developements, von Leers dreams seemed to be come true partly. – Perhaps You know the islamic carrier of the westgerman past-49 diplomat “Murat” Wilfried HOFMANN***), whom about criticans argue, he would have published a special Koran/Quran for naive germans, means a defused and glosses edition !

    From Hitler and Himmler only few but important pro-islamic sentences are known. – But there was an more early strategist of “Jihad made in Germany”, so called by arabist http://www.trafoBerlin.de/autoren/Schwanitz_Wolfgang, – a diplomat again and a german kind of Lawrence of Arabia, – Max Freiherr from Oppenheim . . .

    In this connections I want to ask you, what is more known about post-45 euro-/german strategies together with arab and iran lands rspl. pan-islamic organization; or on another way, how/do you or other good analysts recept the so called EURABIA contracts under german-frensh lead in/ after 1973 ? History documentarist Bat Ye’or said, this contracts with the ARAB LEAGUE have been called “Euro Arab Dialog” and contents with the perspectice on a new euro-arab (oeconomic) imperium, also an anti-israeli align for the mass medias and a pro islamic full cultural openess.

    – Not to forget, that since 1946 ff or 49 ff anticommunist effords under BND and CIA rspl. under Ex-Gen. Gehlen ( Wehrmacht chapter “Fremde Heere Ost” / foreign armies east) together with muslems from the rest of islamic led SS-divisions out of the surrounding of Munich (again !) caused the main follow, that the MB jumped into westeurope … .- Suitable to the islam stratgic meaning, how Ian Johnson calles it “The 4th Mosque” with his book title.

    At last I wan’na ask you, whether you know an(other) good scource rspl. portal or books, perhaps in german language, about islam – nazi and islam -KGB connections, relationships and projects.

    Bye-bye !
    Achim Schueman

    ***( From 1979 to 1983 he lead the Ref. NATO & Defense in germ. Auswärtigen Amt (Foreign Ministry) in Bonn.
    1980 he converted to sunnit islam. 1983 – 1987 he was director for Information at NATO in Brüssel. 1987 he became germ. Ambassor in Algeria. entsandt, than 1990 to Marocco.
    He is full member of Ahl al-Bayt Foundation for Islamic Thought in Amman (Jordanien), co- adivisor & member of honor of the so called Central advisor board of Muslems in Germany, one of the more pro-arab minority unions of muslems, he
    is member of Sharia-council of the muslem Bosna Bank International in Sarajewo. From 1994-2008 in 31 countries he held ca. 350 lectures about islamic themes.
    2008 from readers of the berlin “Islamic Newspaper” he was elected as “most important Muslim in[!] Deutschland”.
    About themes of islam Hofmann wrote several books. Most of them are also available in Arab (!) und English; some in Albanian language, Bosniac, Frensh, Malayalam, Turkish and Hungary. 1998 he published a new revise of the classical Koran translation from Max Henning.
    Except that he is literature critican of the Markfield (Leicestershire) quarterly published Muslim World Book Review, of Oxford Journal of Islamic Studies and of the pakistani quarterly journal Islamic Studies tätig (until now ca. 200 critics).
    Bedeath he published irregular essay and articles in the Islamischen Zeitung (Berlin), in American Journal of Islamic Social Studies (Washington, D.C.), Encounters (Markfield, LE,UK) and Islamic Studies (Islamabad).
    “Der Islam as an Alternative to western lifestyle”,- comared to a programmatic book title Hofmann understands islam as an alternative against western live, what is seen as degenerated by him …” ( wikipedia)

    **( H e r f translates & paraphrases the whole passage in English like in follow: Mohammed’s hostility to the Jews had one result: Oriental Jewry was completely paralyzed. Its backbone was broken. Oriental Jewry effectively did not participate in [European] Jewry’s tremendous rise to power in the last two centuries. Despised in the filthy lanes of the mellah (the walled Jewish quarter of a Moroccan city, analogous to the European ghetto) the Jews vegetated there. They lived under a special law (that of a protected minority), which in contrast to Europe did not permit usury or even traffic in stolen goods, but kept them in a state of oppression and anxiety. If the rest of the world had adopted a similar policy, we would not have a Jewish Question (Judenfrage)…. As a religion, Islam indeed performed an eternal service to the world: it prevented the threatened conquest of Arabia by the Jews and vanquished the horrible teaching of Jehovah by a pure religion, which at that time opened the way to a higher culture for numerous peoples. In: “Judentum und Islam als Gegensätze”, Zs. Die Judenfrage, Bd. 6, Nr. 24, 15. Dezember 1942, S. 278, zit. nach Herf, The Jewish Enemy, S. 181

    Posted by Achim Schueman | June 11, 2012, 12:43 am
  5. Posted by Achim Schueman | June 11, 2012, 12:50 am
  6. Just a note to any prospective Israeli tourists: Turkey is open for business…selectively:

    Erdogan: We don’t need Israeli tourists
    The Turkish Prime Minister has repeated that Israel must apologize for the flotilla deaths and remove the Gaza blockade.
    6 June 12 09:44, Globes correspondent

    “We don’t need Israeli tourists in Turkey and we don’t feel their absence,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told journalists from “Yediot Ahronot” and “Maariv” during a reception in Istanbul yesterday. “We have replaced Israeli tourists with other tourists and last year we had 31 million tourists.”

    He added, “Only if Israel apologizes for IDF soldiers boarding the Marmara and killing Turkish activists, and pays compensation to the families of the dead, and removes the terrible blockade on Gaza, will I be ready to meet with the Israeli prime minister, and perhaps normalize relations between the countries.”

    Erdogan continued, “If and when Israel meets these conditions, then relations can flourish as they did in the past. We will not compromise over these conditions, even if the price is a protracted crisis between the countries.”

    Also, if any journalists want to get a clarification of what exactly Erdogan meant, you may need to choose those questions carefully:

    In Turkey the right to free speech is being lost

    Erdogan is using a series of alleged plots to justify a crackdown on dissent that threatens basic freedoms

    Mehdi Hasan
    guardian.co.uk, Sunday 10 June 2012 12.00 EDT

    Which country in the world currently imprisons more journalists than any other? The People’s Republic of China? Nope. Iran? Wrong again. The rather depressing answer is the Republic of Turkey, where nearly 100 journalists are behind bars, according to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Yes, that’s right: modern, secular, western-oriented Turkey, with its democratically elected government, has locked away more members of the press than China and Iran combined.

    But this isn’t just about the press – students, academics, artists and opposition MPs have all recently been targeted for daring to speak out against the government of prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his mildly Islamist Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

    There is a new climate of fear in Istanbul. When I visited the city last week to host a discussion show for al-Jazeera English, I found journalists speaking in hushed tones about the clampdown on free speech. Within 24 hours of our arrival, one of my al-Jazeera colleagues was detained by police officers, who went through his bag and rifled through one of my scripts. They loudly objected to a line referring to the country’s “increasingly authoritarian government”. Who says that Turks don’t do irony?

    Those of us who have long argued that elected Islamist parties should not be denied the opportunity to govern invested great hope in Erdogan and the AKP. But what I discovered in Istanbul is that there is still a long way to go. The truth is that Turkey cannot be the model, the template, for post-revolutionary, Muslim-majority countries like Tunisia and Egypt until it first gets its own house in order. To inspire freedom abroad, the Turkish government must first guarantee freedom at home.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 11, 2012, 8:22 pm
  7. Just a note to the art lovers out there thinking about attending a Tunisian arts exhibition….helmets and flame-retardant clothing are recommended:

    Tunisian Salafi Islamists riot over “insulting” art

    By Tarek Amara and Lin Noueihed

    TUNIS | Wed Jun 13, 2012 12:35pm EDT

    (Reuters) – Thousands of Salafi Islamists, angered by an art exhibition they say insults Muslims, rampaged through parts of Tunis on Tuesday, raising religious tensions in the birthplace of the Arab Spring and piling pressure on the moderate Islamist government.

    Protesters hurled rocks and petrol bombs at police stations, a court house and the offices of secular parties in some of the worst clashes since last year’s revolt ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and launched uprisings across the Arab world.

    Salafis, who follow a puritanical interpretation of Islam, blocked streets and set tires alight in the working class Ettadamen and Sidi Hussein districts of the capital overnight.

    By morning, protests had spread to a number of residential districts in the capital and to other cities, posing one of the biggest threats yet to Tunisia’s democratic transition.

    Stone-throwing youths stopped trams from passing through the capital’s Intilaqa district where demonstrators entered mosques and used the loudspeakers to call on Tunisians to defend Islam.

    Some 2,500 Salafis were still clashing with police in the area by Tuesday evening, an interior ministry official said, adding that 162 people had been detained and 65 members of the security forces had been wounded trying to quell the riots.

    The interior and defense ministries imposed a night time curfew on the capital and seven other areas after Interior Minister Ali Larayedh told parliament he expected the riots to continue in the coming days, stretching security forces.

    The clashes came a day after the Spring of Arts exhibition in the upscale La Marsa suburb provoked an outcry from some Tunisians who say it insulted Islam. The work that appears to have caused most fury spelt out the name of God using insects.

    “These artists are attacking Islam and this is not new. Islam is targeted,” said a youth, who gave his name as Ali and had removed his shirt as he prepared to confront police in Ettadamen. “What added fuel to the flames is the government’s silence,” said Ali, who did not describe himself as a Salafi.

    Officials of the Islamist-led government have condemned the art works that they say were intended to insult and provoke, but said there was no excuse for the outbreak of violence that appeared planned and coordinated and could undermine economic recovery as the tourism and harvest seasons get underway.

    Larayedh vowed the police would confront any more acts of violence, which he blamed on a mix of violent Salafis, criminal gangs and Ben Ali loyalists seeking to undermine the revolution.

    While Islamists did not play a major role in the revolution, the struggle over the role of Islam in government and society has since emerged as the most divisive issue in Tunisian politics and several clashes have erupted in recent months, some of them involving attacks on alcohol vendors.

    Salafis, some of whom are sympathetic to al Qaeda, want a broader role for religion in the new Tunisia, alarming secular elites who fear they will seek to impose their views and ultimately undermine the nascent democracy.

    Some secularists had attended the offending exhibition, saying Tunisians had the right to artistic freedom, and they have also come under physical attack.

    A labor union office in the northwestern city of Jendouba had been set alight by Salafis overnight while the offices of secular parties nearby were attacked, Larayedh said, in an apparent effort to inflame tensions that are already bubbling between the Islamist-led government and the secular opposition.

    Clashes also broke out in the coastal city of Sousse, where an art centre came under attack by Salafis. A secular party came under attack in the border town of Tataouine and protesters blocked the road from Tunis to the city of Bizerte, 60 km away.

    Larayedh said the violence appeared organized and some of it may have been inspired by a recent statement from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, rather than simply an art exhibition.

    On Sunday, Zawahri called on Tunisians to defend Islamic law from Ennahda, which won the first post-revolutionary election in North Africa in October and has said it would not seek to impose sharia in the new constitution that is being drawn up.

    The audio recording, released on Islamist websites, said Ennahda, which leads Tunisia’s government in coalition with two secular groups, had betrayed the religion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 18, 2012, 1:36 pm
  8. Seriously wish I could visit the Roman ruins in Libya: Leptis Magnus as well as the ones in Syria, but I guess NATO driven wars and the consequential anarchy they bring once MB affiliated goons take over (they’re 3 for 3 in the Piggyback Coups now, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt now)
    Now Dave, please explain why the LIFG goons who were killing GIs in Iraq are running Libya and assisting in the overthrow of the Syrian gov? Bonus points if you look into the career of Abdelhakim Belhaj, who may have been on the Turkish Flotilla in 2010)
    Also check out West Point’s report on Libyan Al Qaeda volunteers, who are now working in Syria:

    Posted by Doug Diggler | June 24, 2012, 3:17 pm
  9. While radical Islamist groups may have played an outsized role in the overthrow of the government and Islamist movements in general were going to have an opportunity to expand in the destroyed nations(don’t forget that one of the unspoken goals of a conflict is often to radicalize the afflicted population), the elections in July made it pretty clear that the Islamists were not going to embraced by a majority of the Libyan people. So if you were wondering about the political context of the terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Benchazi by al-Qaeda affiliated militias, the rejection of the Islamists in the July elections are a part of that context and twisted rational:

    Libyan Attack on US Consulate Tied to Elections, Assassination
    By Joshua Phillip
    Epoch Times Staff

    Created: September 19, 2012 Last Updated: September 22, 2012

    There is still no official line on whether the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya was planned by terrorist groups or whether it was militants who took the protests against an anti-Muslim film as an opportunity to meet their own goals.

    This ties back to the Libyan elections in July, which saw a non-Islamic party win the majority of seats. This was a major blow to Islamist groups, particularly the Arab Islamic extremists, the Salafists—who only last month destroyed Sufi shrines in Libya, according to Reuters.

    A Stanford University report states, “Salafists have felt marginalized and threatened. Like in Egypt, they have played on anti-American sentiments to appeal to the population.

    The report outlines a discussion with Lina Khatib, head of the Program on Arab Reform and Democracy at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

    “The production of the U.S. film provided them with a way to orchestrate a high-profile action with several aims: sending a message of defiance to seculars and to the West; appealing to the local population; and proving that while they may have lost politically, they are still a force to be reckoned with militarily,” Khatib said.

    The general idea of the report is that the “threat of democracy” was likely the motivation behind the killings. To this, Jere Van Dyk, author and journalist who lived alongside Afghanistan’s Mujahideen in the 1980s and who was taken prisoner by the Taliban in 2008, could not agree more.

    He told The Epoch Times that the Taliban fighters who held him captive referred to democracy as a “western religion,” and that the recent attacks are those fighters trying to prevent democracy from taking root.

    Prior to the attacks, U.S. business delegations were visiting Egypt and Libya. This is part of the policy Obama announced in May 2011 to offer economic opportunities to countries overthrowing oppressive regimes in the Arab Spring.

    So with all that in mind, very very nice Benghazi:

    NY Times
    2 Islamist Militias Disband Amid Anger Over Killings
    Published: September 22, 2012

    BENGHAZI, Libya — Two Islamist militias in the eastern city of Darnah announced Saturday that they were disbanding, bowing to a wave of anti-militia anger that has swept parts of Libya since a deadly attack on an American diplomatic mission on Sept. 11.

    A local political activist said that one of the militias, the Abu Salim Brigade, had surrendered several bases in the city. A second militia was also said to have agreed to disband, Reuters reported.

    The announcements came a day after tens of thousands of protesters marched in Benghazi demanding the dissolution of militias formed during the revolt last year against Libya’s strongman, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Protesters stormed four bases in Benghazi, routing a rogue Islamist militia whose members were tied to the attack on the American mission, in which the American ambassador and three other Americans were killed.

    Once again thousands of poor, disempowered people in a war-torn nation show the rest of the civilized world just what real self-government is all about. When monsters take power, the self-governed get active. I know of a certain city that just made it onto my “places I want to visit before I kick it” list.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 22, 2012, 8:43 pm
  10. This latest episode of Real Time with Bill Maher and guest Salmon Rushdie is worth listening to or watching.


    Although I don’t expect to get the level of insight often found at this website, I do still appreciate seeing outspoken liberals willing to call out the Islamist/Salafist “outrage industry” (a term now used by the more enlightened types). Yet, when the conversation comes around to mocking the average arab for believing that “The Innocence of Muslims” was a creation of U.S. intelligence, we really come to the nut of the problem. Is the average arab on the street wrong to see U.S. intelligence behind this? I’m not so sure he/she is.

    Posted by GrumpusRex | September 25, 2012, 11:25 am
  11. Libya continues to be one of those places that actually gives one some hope for the future. To get a sense of just how dire Libya’s situation is with the private ownership of heavy weaponry, note that it’s not just guns or even rocket launchers that are being turned to the national government. People are driving up to the weapons collection sight with tanks….to hand over. Those are some folks that ‘get it’:

    Hundreds of Libyans handover their weapons
    By OSAMA ALFITORY | Associated Press – 09/29/2012

    BENGHAZI, Libya (AP) — Hundreds of Libyans converged Saturday on a main square in Benghazi and another in Tripoli in response to a call from the military to hand over their weapons, some driving in with armored personnel carriers, tanks, vehicles with mounted anti-aircraft guns and hundreds of rocket launchers.

    The call by the Libyan chiefs of staff was promoted on a private TV station in August. But it may have gained traction in the wake of the attack against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi in which the American ambassador and three staffers were killed. The incident was followed by a popular uproar against armed militias which have increasingly challenged government authorities.

    In response, the government has called on all militias to disband or join a command center coordinating between the army and the militias. The government had relied on many militias for security during the turmoil following last year’s ouster and killing of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi.

    Army Col. Omran al-Warfali said the turnout has been impressive.

    Ahmed Salem, an organizer of the efforts in Benghazi, said over 800 citizens handed in weapons at the main collection point. Over 600 different types of arms were collected, including anti-aircraft guns, land mines, rocket launchers and artillery rockets.

    Moussa Omr, a former fighter who lives on the outskirts of Benghazi and who fought against Gadhafi, said it was time to turn over his weapon to the state.

    “When I saw the announcement on television I came to Benghazi with my wife and son to hand over my weapon to the national army because I want to move from the stage of the revolution to state building,” he said. “I trust the national army. They have been with us on the frontline and I know them one by one. I don’t need this weapon after today, the militias have been expelled from Benghazi and the national army will protect us.”

    Last weekend, thousands of protesters marched against the militias in Benghazi, the cradle of the uprising against Gadhafi, and stormed two of their compounds.

    In Tripoli, at least 200 former fighters handed over their weapons, including two tanks, at the Martyrs’ square in the city center. A cleric urged young fighters to give up their weapons. “The nation is built with knowledge not guns,” he said standing in the square.

    But, of course, every society also has those folks that don’t ‘get it’ in so many different ways:

    Pro-Salafist rally in Libya’s Benghazi turns violent

    By Ibrahim Majbari (AFP) – 09/28/2012

    BENGHAZI, Libya — Libyan demonstrators lobbed hand grenades at security forces and set cars ablaze after a rally in Benghazi on Friday in support of a hardline Salafist group which was evicted from the second city.

    More than 200 men converged on Benghazi’s Al-Jalaa Hospital, which was guarded by members of Ansar al-Sharia until Friday of last week, when anti-militia protesters forced them out, an AFP correspondent reported.

    “We want Ansar al-Sharia to come back and protect this hospital,” a placard read.

    The crowd then marched on a nearby security forces building.

    Interior ministry forces fired warning shots in the air from inside the base. Demonstrators responded by throwing hand grenades at the outer walls and torching two parked cars.

    Troops arrived quickly on the scene and the crowd dispersed. Some 25 soldiers took up position around the building.

    “Hey, we want to bring back the crazy Jihadist militia to protect the hospital. Also, catch this live grenade.”

    I have a new theory on the Libyan Salafists’ madness: This is all an elaborate attempt to induce brain damage across the entire planet via repeated facepalming. Eventually, so much brain damage will have been inflicted that we’ll all be ready for conversion to Salafism. The brilliance of this tactic is that the more mind numbingly stupid one finds the Salafists, the more damage it inflicts.

    Stay strong Jean-Luc, stay strong.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 29, 2012, 7:12 pm
  12. @Rob Coogan:
    Yeah, the growing CIA involvement in arming the Syrian rebels has probably made any discussion of where any weapons heading to any Sunni insurgencies in any country a really touchy topic at this point.

    It’s also telling that, as much attention as the story of the Libyan attack as received in the US media press and the increasing efforts on the part of the GOP to score political points in the wake of the attack, there hasn’t been much attention paid to the fact that one of the Navy SEALS killed in the attack was there to find and destroy shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles(maybe pointing the fact that there was indeed an a program to find and destroy the missiles didn’t work out in the political calculus?). And just last week, a senior Syrian rebel commander was recently publicly complaining about the West blocking the rebels from receiving exactly that type of weapon. He also promised that the missiles never fall into the hands of the Islamist rebels forces and that the Syrian people didn’t really support the Islamist anyways. You have to wonder how that commentary was received by the Syrian Islamists:

    West complicit in Syria ‘massacres’: rebel leader

    By Michel Moutot (AFP) – 09/27/2012

    ATMEH, Syria — A Syrian rebel commander has accused the West of being complicit in the “unprecedented massacres” committed by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces by refusing to arm the rebels with anti-aircraft weapons.

    Rebel officer Ahmad al-Fajj, a brigadier-general in the regular Syrian army before his defection “in the first days of the revolution,” spoke in the rebel Free Syrian Army-held village of Atmeh on the Turkish border.

    “The free peoples of the world — Europeans, Americans — must understand that their governments are indirectly responsible for the killings in our country,” Fajj, 64, said in an interview with AFP on Tuesday.

    “We asked all the arms dealers and traffickers in the region to sell us anti-aircraft missiles. They told us they needed the green light from the CIA and Mossad, and the light was red,” he said.

    “They won’t sell us anti-tank weapons for the same reason. All we have to defeat Bashar’s tanks are the RPGs we manage to retrieve from the enemy.”

    He claimed that with surface-to-air missiles the rebels would be able to defeat the regime forces “in a week, a month at most.”

    General Fajj, who bore an odd resemblance to the late Hafez al-Assad, former president and father of Bashar, said he could not fathom the West’s reluctance to supply the rebels with the necessary anti-aircraft equipment.

    Western nations fear that such weapons may fall into the hands of militant Islamists operating in the country.

    “There aren’t many Islamists, less than a thousand in the whole of Syria. They have no power,” he asserted. “We control the liberated areas and I can guarantee you there is no chance they’d get hold of missiles.

    “If Western countries had helped us from the beginning, they wouldn’t even be here as we wouldn’t need them. I assure you that after our victory they will not pose a problem. If they do we’ll deal with them. The Syrian people don’t support them, they’re on our side.

    I can promise the free peoples of the world that if surface-to-air missiles are given to us, they will not fall into the hands of Islamist groups,” he said.

    As the UN General Assembly opened in New York Tuesday, Fajj complained: “Democratic countries only support us with words. This is shameful for the world. They can see what’s happening, buildings being destroyed by air strikes, and they do nothing.”

    If the CIA really does have a hold on those missiles flowing directly to the Syrian rebels the Libyan attacks highlight the reality that there are other potential sources for that kind of terrorist-friendly hardware. The use of shoulder-fired missiles by Syrian rebels or anyone else in the world will be something to watch.

    It’s also going to be really interesting to see just how much real, grass-roots anti-Islamist sentiment emerges in the countries that are currently in upheaval and deciding whether to take the Islamist vs secular path forward. The government of Libya may have played a role in organizing those Benghazi protests and Rove (or a Rove-like entity) could very easily have had a hand in the production of that inflammatory video, but the Islamists are blatantly crazy enough on their own to warrant a serious public backlash. Their just bad at holding power. So this following article may be a bit of self-serving reporting or simply propaganda by Reuters, but it looks like the Libyan Islamist militias really are genuinely stung by a public backlash:

    Bitterly, guerrillas yield streets of east Libya town

    By Peter Graff

    DERNA, Libya | Mon Sep 24, 2012 1:52pm EDT

    (Reuters) – A day after their once feared Islamist militia decided to disband, a dozen die-hard fighters of the Abu Slim Brigade screamed towards us in their cars and piled out, red-faced with fury at the “infidels” come to witness their retreat.

    We had arrived in the city of Derna, at the eastern end of Libya’s long Mediterranean coast and known as a stronghold of Islamist fighters, to find it transformed.

    The Abu Slim militia of veteran guerrillas had dissolved in the face of popular anger, fuelled in part by public disgust at the killing of the respected U.S. ambassador two weeks ago.

    It was afternoon siesta time on Sunday and there was no sign on the sleepy streets of the bearded gunmen who had once maintained checkpoints and patrols.

    Derna has long had a reputation across the Middle East as a recruitment centre for jihadi fighters who have travelled to fight in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.


    We first drove up to a camp in the centre of town that had been vacated the previous day and was being inspected by a small group of military policemen in civilian clothes – a common enough paradox in Libya, where interim governments have put troops on the state payroll but not always into uniform.

    A forklift truck came and drove off to a scrapyard carrying a rusty, six-barreled 105 mm rocket launcher, a Soviet-style Grad, which the militia fighters had left behind in the camp.

    The soldiers there said they would lead us to a larger camp for the Abu Slim force on the edge of the desert, a gargantuan base housing some buildings of a former Gaddafi-era installation on the outskirts of the town.

    When we pulled up, the family that owns the land on which the base is built had already shown up to reclaim it from the fighters. They had spray-painted their name, Tajouri, on an outside wall.

    One man from the family served us glasses of sweet tea at the gate and told us that a small number of fighters were still present, in a distant part of the camp, getting ready to depart.

    Interpreter Ghaith Shennib went in to see if the fighters were willing to talk with us. He found them packing their bags into pick-up trucks. When he said we were journalists the leader of the small group could hardly contain his rage.

    “Get out of here! We are going. You can do your work after we are gone,” Shennib recalled him saying bitterly. “What more do you want from us? We are already leaving.

    “It is you people from the media who turned society against us.”

    While his fighters were, he said, abiding by the order to disband, they would no longer recognize the leader who had ordered the brigade wound up.

    And this all brings us back to another issue that isn’t generally talked about within the context of the global Islamist insurgencies: where did all the weaponized ideas come from. Oh yeah, from our good friends:

    Latest update: 09/30/2012
    How Saudi petrodollars fuel rise of Salafism
    Since the 2011 Arab revolts, a loose network of underground zealots has evolved into a potent and highly vocal force. Behind the remarkable rise of Salafism lies the world’s leading producer of oil – and extremist Islam: Saudi Arabia.
    By Marc DAOU

    When protesters incensed by an anti-Muslim video scaled the walls of the US embassy in Cairo on September 11, tearing down the Stars and Stripes, a black flag could be seen floating above the battered compound. From Sanaa, in Yemen, to Libya’s Benghazi, the same black banner, emblem of the Salafists, soon became a ubiquitous sight as anti-US protests spread like wildfire across the Arab world. The 2011 Arab uprisings have served the Salafists well. With the old dictators gone, a once subterranean network of hardliners has sprung into prominence – funded by a wealthy Gulf patron locked in a post-Arab Spring rivalry with a fellow Gulf monarchy.

    The ‘predecessors’

    A puritanical branch of Islam, Salafism advocates a strict, literalist interpretation of the Koran and a return to the practices of the “Salaf” (the predecessors), as the Prophet Mohammed and his disciples are known. While Salafist groups can differ widely, from the peaceful, quietist kind to the more violent clusters, it is the latter who have attracted most attention in recent months.

    In Libya and Mali, radical Salafists have been busy destroying ancient shrines built by more moderate groups, such as Sufi Muslims. Fellow extremists in Tunisia have tried to silence secular media and destroy “heretical” artwork. And the presence of Salafist fighting units in Syria has been largely documented. Less well known is who is paying for all this – and why.


    For regional experts, diplomats and intelligence services, the answer to the first question lies in the seemingly endless flow of petrodollars coming from oil-rich Saudi Arabia. “There is plenty of evidence pointing to the fact that Saudi money is financing the various Salafist groups,” said Samir Amghar, author of “Le salafisme d’aujourd’hui. Mouvements sectaires en Occident” (Contemporary Salafism: Sectarian movements in the West).

    According to Antoine Basbous, who heads the Paris-based Observatory of Arab Countries, “the Salafism we hear about in Mali and North Africa is in fact the export version of Wahhabism,” a conservative branch of Sunni Islam actively promoted and practised by Saudi Arabia’s ruling family. Since the 1970s oil crises provided the ruling House of Saud with a seemingly endless supply of cash, “the Saudis have been financing [Wahhabism] around the world to the tune of several million euros,” Basbous told FRANCE 24.

    Opaque channels

    Not all of the cash comes from Saudi state coffers. “Traditionally, the money is handed out by members of the royal family, businessmen or religious leaders, and channelled via Muslim charities and humanitarian organizations,” said Karim Sader, a political analyst who specializes in the Gulf states, in an interview with FRANCE 24.

    Until the Arab Spring revolts upended the region’s political landscape, these hidden channels enabled the Salafists’ Saudi patrons to circumvent the authoritarian regimes who were bent on crushing all Islamist groups. These were the same opaque channels that allegedly supplied arms to extremist groups, particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to Western intelligence officials.

    Gulf rivalries

    The Saudi strategy is similar to that adopted by its arch Gulf rival Qatar – a smaller but equally oil-rich kingdom – in its dealings with the Muslim Brotherhood, the other great beneficiary of the Arab Spring. “When it comes to financing Islamist parties, there is intense competition between Qatar and Saudi Arabia,” said Sader. “While the smaller emirate pours its endless wealth on the more moderate and urbanised Muslim Brootherhood, members of the Saudi royal family tend to aim their petrodollars at the poorer, rural constituencies that form the backbone of the Salafist support.”

    According to Amghar, Saudi Arabia, a key US ally, has another, more pragmatic reason to support the Salafists. “Having long turned a blind eye to the generous funding of all sorts of violent jihadist groups by members of the Saudi establishment, the royal family began exercising closer control in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks,” he says. By restricting its financing to more controllable groups based outside its borders, such as the Salafists, “Saudi Arabia ensures it will not be threatened by home-grown jihadists on its soil”. As Amghar concludes, that might explain why there were no protesters, let alone any black flags, outside the US embassy in Riyadh this month.

    That last paragraph is worth repeating:

    According to Amghar, Saudi Arabia, a key US ally, has another, more pragmatic reason to support the Salafists. “Having long turned a blind eye to the generous funding of all sorts of violent jihadist groups by members of the Saudi establishment, the royal family began exercising closer control in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks,” he says. By restricting its financing to more controllable groups based outside its borders, such as the Salafists, “Saudi Arabia ensures it will not be threatened by home-grown jihadists on its soil”. As Amghar concludes, that might explain why there were no protesters, let alone any black flags, outside the US embassy in Riyadh this month.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 1, 2012, 9:38 am

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