Love My Fear More Than My Money

Shocker! Guantanamo Bay is a complete waste of money. The Miami Herald‘s Carol Rosenberg – uber guru on all things Gitmo – has a new article up that estimates that the facility costs the US Government $800,000 annually, per detainee. That comes out to roughly thirty times the cost of holding a prisoner on US soil. Mother Jones adds on an interesting factoid:

The irony is that with only 171 detainees left, there are more convicted international terrorists in federal prisons in the United States than there are detainees remaining at Gitmo.

Our inability – here, in 2011 – to close the prison at Guantanamo is the most damning indictment of the cowardice and ignorant fear that lies at the heart of American politics. I could ramble on all day in regards to the shame of that place, but instead I thought I’d provide a solid list of material that has helped shaped my mind on it.

Web Sites:
Guantanamo Bay Section, Miami Herald. By Carol Rosenberg.
Carol Rosenberg won the Robert F. Kennedy award for Journalism (Domestic Print) in 2011 for her body of reporting from Guantanamo. By all accounts she has spent more time down at Gitmo than any other reporter; indeed, she has probably spent more time there than most military personnel. If you want one news source on Gitmo, this is all you need.

Audio:
Habeas Schmabeas, This American Life. by WBEZ Chicago
Ira Glass and his merry band of radio wunderkinds produced this episode, which actually won them the 2006 Peabody Award for “clarifying and emphasizing the significance of a fundamental American legal right and for giving voice to victims of its abuse.” (Peabody Award citation.) It’s worth your time.

Books:
The Least Worst Place, by Karen Greenberg
The best book to start with. Karen Greenberg goes through the very first 100 days that Gitmo was open in meticulous detail. The narrative focuses on Marine General Michael Lehnert who fought tirelessly, and ultimately in vain, for the Geneva Conventions to be upheld at the camp. It’s worth it alone as a case study in the costs and difficulty inherent in living out true moral courage and leadership.

The Eight O’clock Ferry To the Windward Side, by Clive Stafford Smith
Clive Stafford Smith was one of the first lawyers to arrive at Gitmo, and this book is a cataloging of much of his time spent at the camp and with the detainees he represented. Well written, engaging, insightful.

Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo, by Mernat Kurnaz
It doesn’t get any more personal than this: the author, Mernat Kurnaz, was wrongfully imprisoned at Gitmo for five years. This is his story.

Enemy Aliens: Double Standards And Constitutional Freedoms In The War On Terrorism, by David Cole
This book does not focus solely on Gitmo, but places it in the context of the War on Terrorism and the legal framework (or lack thereof) for much of what was happening. An excellent read.

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What in the hell are we doing in Libya?

A rebel emptied the pockets of a dead African soldier who had been fighting with Qaddafi's forces. - Patrick Baz/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Have we learned nothing? Eight years to the day (March 19, 2003) that we launched the failed Iraq War, we find ourselves drawn into yet another war in a Middle Eastern country with absolutely no idea of what we are getting ourselves into. Let’s look at our rock-solid preparation:

-No congressional declaration of war.
-No stated exit strategy.
-No discussion of how much this will cost. (Haha, and I thought people cared about the deficit!)
-No honest discussion of whether we can achieve our stated objectives (of course, if you have vague objectives, you can always bullshit this one. See: Iraq War, Afghan War, Vietnam War…etc. Or, you can just blindly trust that America can do no wrong. It works out great in Middle Eastern wars!)

I rounded up some of the best commentary I’ve seen on the Libyan war so far:

James Fallows – The Atlantic:

Launching air strikes is the easiest, most exciting, and most dependably successful stage of a modern war, from the US / Western perspective. TV coverage is wall-to-wall and awestruck. The tech advantages are all on our side. Few Americans, or none at all, are hurt. It takes a while to see who is hurt on the ground.

But after this spectacular first stage of air war, what happens then? If the airstrikes persuade Qaddafi and his forces just to quit, great! But what if they don’t? What happens when a bomb lands in the “wrong” place? As one inevitably will. When Arab League supporters of the effort see emerging “flaws” and “abuses” in its execution? As they will. When the fighting goes on and the casualties mount up and a commitment meant to be “days, not weeks” cannot “decently” be abandoned, after mere days, with so many lives newly at stake? When the French, the Brits, and other allies reach the end of their military resources — or their domestic support — and more of the work naturally shifts to the country with more weapons than the rest of the world combined?

The United States Navy destroyer Barry fired Tomahawk missiles from the Mediterranean Sea on Saturday. The Pentagon said more than 100 missiles were targeted at Libya's air-defense systems. - Fireman Roderick Eubanks/U.S. Navy

Josh Marshall – TPM:

It looks more like once we’ve closed down Qaddafi’s air forces we’ve basically taken custody of what is already a failed rebellion. We’ve accepted responsibility for protecting them. Once we recognize that, the logic of the situation will lead us to arming our new charges, helping them get out of the jam they’re in.

So let’s review: No clear national or even humanitarian interest for military intervention. Intervening well past the point where our intervention can have a decisive effect. And finally, intervening under circumstances in which the reviled autocrat seems to hold the strategic initiative against us. This all strikes me as a very bad footing to go in on.

And this doesn’t even get us to this being the third concurrent war in a Muslim nation and the second in an Arab one. Or the fact that the controversial baggage from those two wars we carry into this one, taking ownership of it, introducing a layer of ‘The West versus lands of Islam’ drama to this basically domestic situation and giving Qaddafi himself or perhaps one of his sons the ability to actually start mobilization some public or international opinion against us.

Andrew Sullivan – The Atlantic:

The regime is shooting unarmed civilians at will – killing scores. We must surely stop this. Oh, wait. It’s Yemen, and we support the regime. Meanwhile, the Bahrainian autocracy, backed by the Saudi theocracy, “cleanses” its capital city of the symbols of democratic hope, with the assistance of foreign troops. But we are somehow able to resist the impulse to intervene – and maintain diplomatic relations with the royal family there.

The trouble with intervening somewhere is that it begs the question of: why not somewhere else? If the motive is entirely humanitarian, and involves no “vital national interest”, then how can it be compatible with allowing, say, the Iranian dictatorship to kill, shoot dead, torture and disappear countless Iranians who peacefully sought real change?

Yes, the Obama administration has now interjected American power into what was a few days ago a revolution entirely for the Arab world to resolve itself. My fear is that this decision was made without a thorough public airing of all the unanswered questions about unintended consequences. I worry that the West’s involvement will merely reignite the paradigm in which the Arab world is incapable of reforming itself without meddling from the West, and revives the danger of changing the subject from the malfeasance and incompetence of the various regimes to the broader argument about the Arab world’s relationship with the outside world. I remain of the view that, for reasons of prudence and constitutional propriety.

An injured captured soldier loyal to Col. Qaddafi is interrogated by a rebel soldier at the Jalaa hospital in Benghazi. - Anja Niedringhaus/Associated Press

Glenn Greenwald – Salon:

After George H.W. Bush ordered the invasion of Panama, New York Times correspondent R.W. Apple wrote that starting new military conflicts is “a Presidential initiation rite,” that “most American leaders since World War II have felt a need to demonstrate their willingness to shed blood,” and that Bush’s order to attack tiny, defenseless Panama “has shown him as a man capable of bold action.” Just as the Founders predicted, allowing Presidents to order military attacks without the approval of the citizenry (through their Congress) has engendered a whole slew of unnecessary wars that serve the political and ruling classes but not the people of the country.

The dangers from unilateral, presidential-decreed wars are highlighted in the Libya situation. There has been very little public discussion (and even less explanation from the President) about the reasons we should do this, what the costs would be on any level, what the end goal would be, how mission creep would be avoided, whether the “Pottery Barn” rule will apply, or virtually anything else. Public opinion is at best divided on the question if not opposed. Even if you’re someone who favors this intervention, what’s the rationale for not requiring a debate and vote in Congress over whether the President should be able to commit the nation to a new military conflict? Candidate Obama, candidate Clinton, and the Bush-era Democrats all recognized the constitutional impropriety of unilateral actions like this one; why shouldn’t they be held to that?

Alex Spillius – Telegraph:

Adm Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the outcome of military action from the air was “very uncertain” and made it clear that Washington did not see the goal of Operation Odyssey Dawn as removing the Libyan leader from power.

Opening up the possibility of a rift between the US and Britain and France if the Gaddafi regime does not crumble quickly, he said: “The goals are limited. It’s not about seeing him go. It’s about supporting the United Nations resolution which talked about eliminating his ability to kill his own people.”

Adm Mullen said it was “certainly potentially one outcome” that the mission could succeed while leaving Col Gaddafi in power.

So basically, we can blow a couple hundred million dollars launching Tomahawks and aircraft into Libya, only to leave a pissed-off, wounded Qaddafi in power. The only way we win is if the rebels are able to recover, push all the way to Tripoli, and then seize power from Qaddafi in a relatively short amount of time. Every single other outcome is a failure for American and NATO forces and a propaganda victory for Qaddafi. If Qaddafi doesn’t fall, what then? Do we maintain a no-fly zone indefinitely while waiting for the rebels to gain strength? Do we send in ground troops? Do we start targeting Qaddafi? We could always just walk away, but I doubt we as a nation have the moral courage to do that. Peggy Noonan had a great piece in the Wall Street Journal recently that was spot on:

Peggy Noonan – Wall Street Journal:

The biggest takeaway, the biggest foreign-policy fact, of the past decade is this: America has to be very careful where it goes in the world, because the minute it’s there—the minute there are boots on the ground, the minute we leave a footprint—there will spring up, immediately, 15 reasons America cannot leave. The next day there will be 30 reasons, and the day after that 45. They are often serious and legitimate reasons.

So we wind up in long, drawn-out struggles when we didn’t mean to, when it wasn’t the plan, or the hope, or the expectation.

We have to keep this phenomenon in mind as we chart our path in the future. It’s easy to start a war but hard to end one. It’s as simple as that. It’s easy to get in but hard to get out. Even today, in Baghdad, you hear that America can’t leave Iraq because the government isn’t sturdy enough, the army and police aren’t strong enough to withstand the winds that will follow America’s full departure, that all that has been achieved—a fragile, incomplete, relative peace—will be lost. America cannot leave because Iraq will be vulnerable to civil war, not between Sunnis and Shiites, they tell you now, but between Arabs and Kurds, in the north, near the oil fields.

Rebels gathered around the body of a fighter loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. - Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

SECDEF Gates lays it down.

I'm not messing around here, ladies.

Tom Ricks highlighted a good quote from a speech that Secretary of Defense Gates gave today at West Point. Money quote:

The need for heavy armor and firepower to survive, close with, and destroy the enemy will always be there, as veterans of Sadr City and Fallujah can no doubt attest. And one of the benefits of the drawdown in Iraq is the opportunity to conduct the kind of full-spectrum training — including mechanized combined arms exercises — that was neglected to meet the demands of the current wars.

Looking ahead, though, in the competition for tight defense dollars within and between the services, the Army also must confront the reality that the most plausible, high-end scenarios for the U.S. military are primarily naval and air engagements — whether in Asia, the Persian Gulf, or elsewhere. The strategic rationale for swift-moving expeditionary forces, be they Army or Marines, airborne infantry or special operations, is self-evident given the likelihood of counterterrorism, rapid reaction, disaster response, or stability or security force assistance missions. But in my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should “have his head examined,” as General MacArthur so delicately put it.

I ❤ Gates.

Rep. Broun (R-GA) laughs when asked by a constituent, “Who’s going to shoot Obama?”

Quite the comedian.

TPM: Republican laughed when asked “Who’s gonna shoot Obama?”

This guy’s a keeper, he almost makes me miss the great state of Georgia where you can go to find Real Americans. Broun was at a town hall meeting with constituents when an old man got up and asked, “Who’s going to shoot Obama?” Naturally, since this is part of the bible belt and there is a general feeling of love and brotherhood towards your fellow man, everyone at the meeting howled with laughter. Including, it turns out, the esteemed Congressmen Broun:

After laughing at the question, Broun reportedly said “there’s a lot of frustration with this president.”

“We’re going to have an election next year,” Broun said. “Hopefully, we’ll elect somebody that’s going to be a conservative, limited-government president that will take a smaller… who will sign a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare.”

Yea, great tact there. Instead of doing the right thing and having the moral courage to explain to his constituents that it isn’t actually funny to talk about shooting the President, he just kind of ducks the opportunity in that passive-aggressive way that suits cowards like Broun. Of course, when the media got wind of it, his office released a statement saying that the comment was “abhorrent”. It’s cool though, he gets it both ways. He can be the fun, cool, good ole’ boy who jokes about killing the President, and he can also be the principled Congressman who displays outrage at a misguided and violent statement. That’s true character!

Qaddafi: I don’t get it, why you so mad bro?

Blue steel.

Dan Amira @ NYMag:

Seriously, why are you guys even directing this rage at Qaddafi to begin with? He’s just a gentle old man who smiles and waves to people and drinks tea and wears white gloves to protect his delicate hands and hosts foreign dignitaries and unleashes mercenary death squads on his people and takes leisurely strolls through floral gardens.

Qaddafi actually blamed the uprising in Libya on coffee drugs:

[Qaddafi] says al Qaeda militants are “exploiting” teenagers, giving them “hallucinogenic pills in their coffee with milk, like Nescafe.”

It’s like some sort of SNL skit that came to life; it would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic.

Al Jazeera: Muhammad al-Barad’i: “Husni Mubarak’s Regime is Teetering”

Note: As the protests in Egypt continue into their second day, I decided to post these remarks from the leading Egyptian opposition figure, Muhammad al-Barad’i. Egypt has had many opposition leaders over the years, but none have had such a highly respected and global presence as al-Barad’i, who was the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1997-2009. He is most well-known for his work with Hans Blix on the WMD inspection teams that were in Iraq until the American invasion in 2003, as well as the ongoing dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. He also won the Nobel Peace prize in 2005. After leaving the IAEA in 2009, there has been much speculation as to whether or not he might run for President in 2011 as he is an Egyptian citizen by birth.

Historically Husni Mubarak has been able to squash any opponents using physical intimidation and wide-spread corruption at polling centers but al-Barad’i’s international visibility would make it much harder for Mubarak to pull off such a campaign and harder for Western governments to ignore. (Of course we did pretty good job of ignoring Afghanistan President Karzai’s ballsy act of rigging the 2010 elections in his favor, so who knows?) It remains to be seen whether or not the events of the past few days will lead to a full-scale revolution like the one in Tunisia last week, or if it will just be a short-lived outburst like the massive protests in Iran after the 2009 elections.

I also included the following links with more updates on the situation in Egypt:

The New York Times – Protesters in Egypt Defy Ban as Government Cracks Down

Foreign Policy – Will the Arab Revolutions Spread?, Day of Rage (Pictures), You’re So Vain, You Probably Think These Protests are About You

al-Jazeera (عربية) – Egyptians Break Through the Barrier of Fear, Protests Continue in Egypt as the Death Toll Rises, Internet is Blocked in Egypt and Websites are Taken Down

-David

http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/1B8CD42F-3A3F-4023-8CC0-59B54EBFDA03.htm

al-Barad'i: "The Muslim Brotherhood has distanced themselves from violence for half a century and have focused on reforms and changes instead of focusing on gaining power."
The Egyptian opposition leader and former General Secretary for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Muhammad al-Barad’i stated that, “The time for change by way of the ballot box has to come an end in Egypt as Husni Mubarak has closed all the doors to reform and a peaceful transfer of authority. As such, taking to the street is the only way now to realize the aspirations of the people.”

al-Barad’i told the German weekly, Der Spiegel, that Egyptians have been protesting in greater numbers for the first time, “As a result of the collapse of the “culture of fear” that President Husni Mubarak’s regime has kept alive his entire time in power.” He expressed that the increasing protests in Egypt are an indication of a historic turning point, “As Egyptians come to realize that their fate is in their own hands and not in anyone else’s.”

He added, “The Egyptian regime has refused in the past and continues to refuse all calls for reform, they are completely disconnected from the reality their people are living in and can’t even look [around them] or hear [the pleas for reform]. I have warned Mubarak of the consequences of waiting for these issues to come to a head … the time has come for him to pay the price.”

Conditions for Success

al-Barad’i likened the recent Egyptian protests to an unstoppable snowball rolling down and gaining momentum. He added, “Husni Mubarak’s regime is teetering and is extremely fearful and tense in light of the recent events in Tunisia, while it simultaneously tries to portray indifference to the Egyptians that have recently committed self-immolation protesting their living conditions in all areas of life.

al-Barad’i indicated that, “The only way for the Egyptian regime to stay alive and rescue itself from a fate like the one that befell its counterpart in Tunis is for Mubarak to remove himself from nomination for a new term as President, to issue a new constitution, to call for new free elections, and to cancel the “State of Emergency” that has been imposed on the country for the past 29 years.
He holds the view that the revolution in Tunis represented a precursor to the possibility of a “spring of change” in the Arab world in which Egypt plays a leading role. In al-Barad’i’s opinion, Egyptians’ requests for bread and more individual rights is only natural in a country where 40% of the population lives on less than a dollar a day.

He pointed out that, “The main difference between the conditions in Tunis and the conditions in Egypt is the presence of a broad middle class in Tunis which Egypt doesn’t have. Poverty and anger will play a main role in any possibly popular uprising.”

Defending the Muslim Brotherhood

al-Barad’i stated that it is possible that Egypt now stands on the precipice of a coming phase of instability, and he called on Mubarak and his security apparatus to respect the people’s universal right to protest, saying that, “Change is coming and no one will be able to stop it.”

He also responded to a question about his opinion on Israel’s fear of a collapse of the situation in Egypt and many Israeli’s concerns that the Muslim Brotherhood would gain power and launch a war on the Jewish state. [al-Barad’i] called for, “An end to the demonization of the Muslim Brotherhood and the [false] idea of a choice between either the oppression of Husni Mubarak’s regime or the chaos of a narrow-minded religious government.

He went on to clarify that the Muslim Brotherhood has distanced themselves from violence for half a century and have focused on reforms and changes instead of focusing on gaining power. He added, “If we want to establish a free, democratic system, in Egypt, then we must include the Muslim Brotherhood in the political process instead of distancing them from it.”

Al Jazeera: Demonstrations break out in Egypt on a “day of anger”

http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/018633CB-3A98-453E-B33E-2C692E0568B4.htm?GoogleStatID=1

Demonstrators were out in dozens of places in Cairo and Egypt's biggest cities
Responding to calls by activists on the social networking site “Facebook”, demonstrations and marches broke out in the capital city of Cairo and a number of [Egyptian] provinces in what is being called “a day of anger” coinciding with the celebration of Police Day, a [national] holiday.

In an event that hasn’t happened for more that three decades, hundreds of protestors from various areas in Cairo began to [march] and were joined by thousands of people in protests that have rocked dozens of different cities across Egypt.

In downtown Cairo, a crowd of thousands of protestors broke through the security barriers and marched in past the Supreme Court building as they headed towards the main Tahrir square. Amongst the protestors were tens of former members of parliament who echoed chants against the Egyptian regime.

Other demonstrations broke out in Ruksi square in the neighborhood of New Cairo, as well as in front of the headquarters of the Doctors’ and Lawyers’ professional unions. At the same time, other demonstrations from other areas were moving towards Tahrir square in the heart of Cairo where it was [estimated] that more than 20,000 people were protesting by the afternoon.

The Reuters news agency said that protestors in front of the Supreme Court building in Cairo were calling for the fall of President Husni Mubarak. They echoed chants aimed at [Mubarak’s] son, Gamal, saying: “Hey Gamal, tell your dad, ‘All of the people hate you’.”

[Reuters] added that the protests today represented a test of how effective activists can be in transforming their messages on the internet into a reality in the street.

The youth of the “April 6th” [group], who played a large role in calling for the demonstration, said that security forces arrested a number of activists and journalists who were covering the demonstrations that have extended to a number of areas outside of Cairo, especially in Alexandria, Asyut, al-Mansurah, and al-Mahallah al-Kubra.

Security Presence

One of the organizers of the demonstrations stated that security forces arrested 15 members of the Muslim Brotherhood who were waiting for a signal to go and demonstrate.

Various areas [within Cairo] have been under a thick security presence while other cities such as al-Muhallah al-Kubra, an industrial city that has been the scene of a number of the most prominent protests over the past years, have seen beefed up checkpoints at the entrances and exits to the city. [These measures] seek to prevent the arrival of activists who intended to lead the protests there.

The National Assembly for Change has already issued a report for this occasion in which it says that today the Egyptian populace is knocking on the door of freedom, dignity, and justice. It [also] expressed that it was sorry that Police Day had come and that the [security] apparatus had been transformed into, “A private police force whose mission is limited to using oppression and torture to protect those in the government as well as their families and attendants.”

The report noted that the Tunisian populace rose up under similar circumstances and proved that any governing regime that uses violence, oppression, and intimidation [to maintain control], as well as one that places severe restrictions on the freedom of expression, will collapse the moment that there is an outburst of public anger.

Rescuing Egypt

The National Assembly for Change emphasized that, “The only way to rescue Egypt from a future fraught with great danger is to meet the desires of the people and respond immediately to their requests which are: Rescind emergency law, dissolve the rigged parliamentary councils, and hold free and fair elections according to international standards to form a transitional government until the time that the constitution can be amended.”

Likewise, [another] Egyptian movement for change, “Kafayah”, issued a report saying that it, “Senses the seriousness of what may result from Egypt’s conditions … from political gridlock, social congestion, corruption that destroys the country’s wealth, to forgery of the [legitimacy?] of the authorities, tyranny that crushes basic freedoms and brutalizes the poor, unemployed, and sick.” It went on to call for all efforts to be directed at continuing the public’s struggle and advancing towards a peaceful civil disobedience and revolution.
Kafayah enumerated its demand to shut down the current government and get rid of resident Husni Mubarak and his regime, as well as to dissolve the rigged parliamentary councils and clear the way for a transitional government with a new president and national unity coalition.

They also called for an end to the state of emergency, the dissolution of the National Security apparatus called the “Mubahath”, the immediate release of all political prisoners and detainees, the liberation of journalists and political entities as well as the unions and assemblies, the guarantee to allow society the freedom of demonstrate and protest peacefully, the guarantee of independence for all judges, the [1m] of all phases and types of elections and general referendums, and prosecution of those responsible for crimes of forgery and torture.

In that regard, Kafayah called for a halt to the privatization program, and called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador, as well as for a stop to exports of oil to Israel and a cancellation of Egypt’s peace agreement with [Israel].

Note: Here are some Arabic links to the two Egyptian reform movements listed in the article as well as the Facebook page mentioned in the article. I also included a link to a a few English articles with more information regarding the events in Egypt.

National Assembly for Change (Arabic) – http://www.taghyeer.net/

Kafayah (Arabic) – http://www.harakamasria.org/

Facebook (Arabic) – Day of Revolution Against Torture, Poverty, Corruption, and Unemployment

New York Times – Broad Protests Across Egypt Focus Fury on Mubarak

Boing Boing – Protests inspired by Tunisia and fanned by social media break out all over

Andrew Sullivan – Social Networking Strikes Again, An Arab Tipping Point?, Egypt Erupting

-David

Al Jazeera: Special Report on the al-Huthi group in Yemen

http://www.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/29DFC95B-1B57-4533-840C-EBEB265E98B1.htm

Badr al-Din al-Huthi, spiritual father of the group.

A Shia’ insurgent group in the province of Sa’da in northern Yemen, it traces it’s origins to Badr al-Din al-Huthi, and is known as al-Huthis, the Huthi group, or al-Shabab al-Mu’amin (The Faithful Youth).

The founding: Despite the actual appearance of the group in 2004 due to the breakout of its first battles with the Yemeni government, some sources trace its actual roots back to the ’80’s of last century.

In 1986, Itihad al-Shabab (Union of the Youth) was formed in order to educate youth of the al-Zaydiyya sect under control of Salah Ahmad Falita, and Majid al-Din al-Mu’idi and Badr al-Din al-Huthi were amongst its teachers.

As a result of the Yemeni unification that occurred in May of 1990, and the opening of the public square to numerous parties, the Union (of the Youth) transformed from educational activities to political planning via the Hazb al-Haq (Law Party) that represented the al-Zaydiyya sect.

al-Shabab al-Mu’amin Assembly: The (al-Shabab al-Mu’amin Assembly) was founded during 1992 by Muhammad Badr al-Din al-Huthi and some of his comrades as a forum for cultural activities, before undergoing dissension and discord (amongst the members).

In 1997, under the leadership of Husayn Badr al-Din al-Huthi, the assembly transformed from cultural publications to a political movement carrying the name Tundhim al-Shabab al-Mu’amin (The Organization of the Faithful Youth). By this point, Falita and al-Mu’idi had left the the organization and accused it of violating the al-Zaydiyya discipline.

By 2002, the organization had taken the slogan, “God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curses on the Zionists, Victory for Islam,” that they recited after every prayer.

Some sources indicate that the authorities’ ban on reciting the slogan was one of the most important reasons for the initial breakout of clashes between the group and the Yemeni government.

Leadership of the Group: During the first clashes with the Yemeni forces in 2004, Husayn al-Huthi, who had served as a representative in the Yemeni parliament after (wins) in the 1993 and 1997 elections, took charge of the leadership of the movement before being killed in the same year. Afterwards, his son, Shaykh Badr al-Din al-Huthi, took over command of the movement.

Soon thereafter, leadership of the movement was taken over by ‘Abd-al-Malik al-Huthi, son of Badr al-Din al-Huthi, while (‘Abd-al-Malik)’s other brother sought political asylum in Germany.

Ideological Leaning: Some sources describe the movement as of the Shi’a Ithna al-‘Ashariyya (Twelvers) branch, however, the al-Huthis deny this and assure that they haven’t turned away from al-Zaydiyya branch (of Shi’a Islam) despite their decision to join with the Ithna al-‘Ashariyya branch in some of their methods of celebrating Eid al-Ghadeer and the remembrance of ‘Ashura.

The Movement’s Goals: The al-Huthi group sees the current situation they live in as poisoned by restricted freedoms, the threat to religious doctrine, and the marginalization of the al-Zaydiyya branch’s scholars.

It seeks official approval for the party to issue civil and political publications, as well as founding a school accredited in all the various fields of knowledge, that includes the right of followers of the al-Zaydiyya branch to study the branch in (Islamic) law colleges.

However, Yemeni authorities emphasize that the al-Huthis seek to form a religious court and return (the country) to an al-Zaydiyya emirate.

Clashes with the Government: The al-Huthi group has rushed into a number of clashes with the Yemeni government since the crisis broke out in 2004.

The first wave of clashes broke out on 19 June 2004, and ended with the killing of the insurgency’s leader, Husayn Badr al-Din al-Huthi on 8 September 2004, according to an announcement by the Yemeni government.

Likewise, the second wave of clashes erupted on 19 March 2005 under the leadership of Badr al-Din al-Huthi (Husayn al-Huthi’s son), and lasted for around three weeks after Yemeni forces intervened.

At the end of 2005, renewed clashes broke out again between the al-Huthi group and the Yemeni government.

Note: For some basic information regarding the two Shi’a branches mentioned in this article, the Ithna al-‘Ashariyya and al-Zaydiyya, follow these links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twelvers

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zaidiyyah

NFTR//
DMD

Al Jazeera: News Summary, 27 Jan 2010


(Intro Music)

(00:11) Hello.

(00:13) The international meeting to determine how to best support Yemen and stabilize the country started today in London. The American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, arrived in London today to participate in the meeting that is being attended by 24 countries.

(00:32) In other news, the Washington Post newspaper quoted American officials who said that American teams were working in secret operations with the Yemeni Army against the al-Qa’ida organization. The officials clarified that American advisors helped plan an operation against al-Qa’ida in December of last year.

(00:51) The United Nation’s sections committee announced today that the names of five previous members of the Taliban were scratched off a list of those described as involved with terrorism. Diplomats believe that this step paves the way for the conference in London on Afghan affairs that will be held tomorrow.

(01:10) The official (1m) in Sri Lanka announced that the current President Mahinda Rajapaksa won a second (presidential) term. The (Sri Lankan) army surrounded the headquarters of the opposition leader for the second time. (The opposition leader) requested the protection of one of the neighboring countries.

(01:25) The spokesperson for the South Korean Ministry of Unity spoke about the country’s stance in the face of Pyongyang’s decision to implement a “no-sail” zone in a contested area between the two countries, saying that it was “still under review.” Pyongyang and Seoul had exchanged fire the previous day in the contested area.

(01:46) An official in the Lebanese army said that they will expand the search area for the remains of the wrecked Ethiopian airline if the black box is not found today. The official said that improving weather conditions will help further facilitate the (search) teams’ mission.

(02:04) Until next time…

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