Is Russia’s Power on the Decline?

Is Russia’s Power on the Decline?

By Douglas Hanson

The drive-by media never ceases to amaze with their inability to notice world events, much less understand the global maneuvers in the War on Terror.  Ever since Secretary of Defense Gates told Vladimir Putin to butt out concerning his bid to muck up the US – European Missile Defense Shield, several developments have shown how he has been forced to scramble to maintain at least a minimum level of influence over world events.  Putin is an excellent practitioner of the bluff and bluster school of foreign policy, even as he struggles by “putting fingers in the dykes” of his dissolving empire.  The trend is not favorable for the ex-KGB agent and current President of the Russian Federation.

Russia vacates the Caucasus
In late 2003 during the a peaceful revolution in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, known as the “Rose Revolution,” the last vestiges of the old Soviet guard were ostensibly ushered out.  Despite this, Russia’s military forces did not “pack up and leave” the country the next day.  On the contrary, Putin embarked on a campaign to obstruct and delay the withdrawal of his troops from Georgia.  He was not about to voluntarily give up a strategic chunk of land that allowed lines of commerce to Russia’s aspiring nuclear partner, Iran, and smuggling routes for lucrative criminal enterprises.
Only because of Western political pressure and a constant influx of NATO forces and advisors did Russian units gradually depart from the area.  Even then, Russian “peacekeepers” have stubbornly held on to the so-called “breakaway” republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and several key Soviet-era military installations.  Essentially, Putin was thumbing his nose at the international community and was placing the national security of the new democracy in jeopardy.
Thanks to a superbly executed strategic campaign by the US and NATO, the land bridge between Russia and Iran has been sealed, and with the backing of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Putin has been coerced to withdraw more Russian troop contingents from major Soviet Cold War bases.  On June 27th it was announced that the Russian 62nd Military Base in Akhalkalaki is now officially Georgian property.  This Soviet-era base was actually established before the Russian Revolution in 1910.  Not only was it one of the oldest Soviet-era bases, it was also large.  To give you an idea as to the magnitude of this military base, in it’s heyday it comprised:

…196 facilities on 12,824 hectares of land, among them seven headquarters, seven barracks, three mess-halls, one officers’ house, a hospital, two schools – one of them a music school – one kindergarten, two music clubs and other technical facilities.

The loss of thie 62nd Military base is not only symbolic of Russia’s demise in power, it is real.
The Breakaway Provinces
This still leaves the situation of Russian troops occupying the contested provinces, particularly Abkhazia.  Since Abkhazia’s “declaration of independence,” it has been under the watchful eye of Russian ‘peacekeepers.’  Even though Georgian President Saakashvili conducted a decisive campaign last year in the Kodori Gorge area of Abkhazia, Putin will hang on to this area at all costs.  Simply put, Putin desperately wants to preserve control over the port of Sokhumi since it is a vital transit point for drug smuggling, a major source of cash for Putin, his fellow nationalists, and their criminal allies.
He is also eager to hold on to the town because its military bases were repositories  of nuclear and radiological materials including plutonium, uranium and cesium-137.  Other unverified reports say the Sokhumi’s munitions depots also had chemical weapons.  Besides being a prolific source of cash for Mother Russia, this second motive for Putin’s refusal to withdraw from Sokhumi is “personal.”  Public disclosures as to the lack of security pertaining to nuclear materials, or of major damage to the environment due to lack of internationally accepted storage regimens would further damage Putin’s standing in the world, even among his Western apologists.
But time is running out for Putin and his Russian “peacekeepers.”  We now learn from Georgia’s Defense Today  (the national security offshoot of the English language weekly, Georgia Today), that Georgia’s acceptance into NATO is dependent on its maintaining the traditional territory of the sovereign kingdom including South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  Georgian Deputy Defense Minister, Batu Kutelia, emphasized that the NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) permits no compromise on Georgia’s borders.  He noted that NATO sees acceptance into the alliance only where,

Georgia’s territorial integrity is an issue which will be never questioned and if Georgia is adopted into NATO it will be adopted in its full territorial integrity.

That is, the conflict over the two provinces currently under Russian control will not be resolved in Putin’s favor.
The Black Sea Fleet needs a new home
Often overlooked in the grand scheme of the world’s power plays is Ukraine.  The go-soft-on-Putin crowd  and other critics of the Administration’s Eurasian policies have slammed the Orange Revolution with a fervor normally reserved for GW’s successful operations.  During the period from late 2004 through January of 2005, Ukraine reformers and nationalists overturned a fraudulent election and swept the Russian-backed President Victor Yanukovich and his pro-Russian party out of an office they had tried to steal.  Putin had openly backed the Yanukovich and his pro-Russian party.  Now Ukraine is on its way to being accepted into NATO.  In keeping with this, US and European personnel have ramped up their Ukrainian military training and assistance projects over the last year; these will likely evolve into long-term advisory operations.
Ukraine has one other critical capability that is virtually unknown in the other newly formed democracies in the region – it has a robust defense industry.  Its industrial infrastructure has enabled it to equip other small nations with newly manufactured combat systems of Soviet design.  Now veterans of the Red Army in the new democracies can quickly organize and train to achieve NATO operational standards.
Putin’s forces have not totally withdrawn from Ukraine either, but the signs are that this will happen sooner rather than later.  It was reported this week in Voice of America News that the chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Masorin, is looking to move the Black Sea Fleet from its Ukrainian base in Sevastopol to a “permanent naval base on the Mediterranean Sea;” another acknowledgment of the decline of Russia’s power.  Recognizing that the Mediterranean is strategically important to Russia, Admiral Masorin will look for an alternative to maintain a military presence in the region.  Translation: “we can’t have the Russian Navy based in a NATO port; we need to go somewhere in order to salvage our reputation and influence in the Eastern Med.”
Clearly, the Black Sea port of Sokhumi is out of the mix.  In another example of the curtailment of Russian world power and prestige, Putin must now work to stave off the inevitable return of Abkhazia to the Georgian central government or face continuing pressure from NATO and the US, while simultaneously looking for a new smuggling route for drugs and the transference of WMD materials and technology.  He may also need to buy time to clean up hazardous waste sites or risk a public relations and environmental disaster.
The VOA report suggests an alternative for the Russian Navy.  It said that Russia was looking to expand an existing naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus in order to homeport the ships of the Black Sea Fleet.  Not surprisingly, this was denied by Russian officials.  It may be that Putin and his Black Sea Fleet will get a “return trip” to one of the former USSR’s Middle East client states, home to Assad’s Baathist regime and the starting point of the Sunni “rat line” into Iraq.  And if this comes about, it will cement Putin’s ties to a terror supporting country.
Let’s hope our friends in the MSM, and the rest of the world take notice.  All things considered, it’s no wonder Vladimir has been in a foul mood lately.
Douglas Hanson is National Security Correspondent of American Thinker.

The Putin Jugend

The Putin Jugend

By Reuben F. Johnson
The Weekly Standard | 8/1/2007

MOST OF US REMEMBER the joke from the famous Robin Williams film Good Morning, Vietnam.

“Here’s Airman Adrian Cronauer with a little riddle for you. What’s the difference between the army and the cub scouts? Ahhhnnn. Cub scouts don’t have heavy artillery.”

Nashi1.jpg

Su-27s fly in formation above the Nashi campgrounds.

The latest incarnation of the scouts in Russia does not have its own artillery–not yet, anyway–but they did have several Russian Air Force (VVS) jets at their disposal this past week. A flight of six Sukhoi Su-27 fighters–part of the VVS’s demonstration team–performed Tuesday for thousands of members of the youth group Nashi. The occasion was the group’s annual summer outdoor camp at Lake Seliger, a site some 350 kilometers from Moscow.

The Nashi summer camp has now been turned into campaign stop and political pulpit for major figures in the Russian government–hence the willingness of the powers-that-be in the Kremlin to spend the hundreds of thousands of dollars it cost to put on the Su-27 aerial display for the event.

The six aircraft had to fly a full three hours to reach the site of the Nashi camp, put on a one-hour show and then return to their base at Lipetsk. VVS officials would not provide any cost figures for the show they put on, but one of Russia’s most well-known test pilots, Magomed Tolboyev, told Obshaya Gazeta in Moscow that it would cost at least $216,000. This is based on afigure of $12,000 per flight hour to operate the Su-27, which consumes 5 to 6 tons of aviation fuel per hour. Aviation fuel costs about 20,000 roubles ($790) per ton, and this does not include the additional expense of airport landing and takeoff fees and air traffic control charges.

Nashi has been equated by some Russian political spokesmen with this country’s Boy Scouts, but the history of the organization suggests that it is every bit the captive youth brigade of the regime in power, just as youth movements were vehicles for political indoctrination during the Soviet period.

Russia is one of the few nations where the scouting movement has never been allowed to establish a branch, having been banished in the early 1900s. During the Soviet era, the equivalent of the Boy and Girl Scouts was the Komsomol. Komsomol was the acronym for the Vsesoyuzny Leninskiy Kommunisticheskiy Soyuz Molodyozhi or VLKSM, which was known in the west as the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League, or “YCL” for short.

The YCL was a propaganda organ of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and was the boot camp on the path to success for those wanting to climb to the top of the political pyramid in the old USSR. Those wanting to become members of the Party had to generally spend a good portion of their youth in the Komsomol–spending hours performing official, unpaid “patriotic activities,” such as putting up banners and posters before major holidays, in order to demonstrate their worthiness to become card-carrying Communist party officials.

Since the fall of the USSR and the end of the need for the pervasive indoctrination that goes along with a communist-style dictatorship, the Komsomol has faded into obscurity. It has, however, been somewhat replaced by the Nashi.

Nashi takes its name from the full title of the organisation, Molodezhnoye Dvizheniye, which translates as Youth Movement “Ours!” It was officially created in reaction to the spontaneous and widespread youth movement that took root in Ukraine during the 2004-2006 Orange Revolution, and which brought a pro-western president, Viktor Yushchenko, to power in Kiev at the expense of the candidate backed by Putin, Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich.

KGB officers like Vladimir Putin, even when they become presidents, are about controlling events and making sure that political currents do not spin off and develop a momentum of their own. Unpredictability is bad, and solid, reliable support by the public is good. Nashi was created in order to make sure that there would be no repeat of the Ukrainian experience in Russia, and if there was any large-scale youth movement in Russia, that it would be slavishly pro-Putin.

Nashi is more than steadfast in its support of President Putin, but at the same time the group denies that it receives any Kremlin funding. However its finances are opaque at best, and the organization was originally put together by Vladislav Surkov, the deputy head of the presidential administration, and a man with more slush funds at his disposal than a U.S. labor union boss.

As testimony to these suspicions that there are more links to the Kremlin than the group would like to admit, Nashi spokeswoman Anastasia Suslova refused to answer questions about who would cover the costs of this special air display and further denied that the aircraft had been placed at the organization’s disposal.

“We did not order them but reached an agreement with the Defense Ministry,” she said by telephone from the Nashi encampment. She then suggested that this event was actually to the benefit of the VVS rather than Nashi in that the show would help promote the armed forces among young people–particularly the Nashi Russian Top Gun wanna-bes. “It is important that our young people can see this. It is really a spectacular show.”

Surkov has been accused of creating Nashi not as a movement for young people, but as a group of shock troops–brownshirts without the shirts and the arm bands–that can be called upon to break up anti-Putin demonstrations. Some critics of Kremlin policy have even referred to the Nashi movement as the “Putin Jugend,” a pejorative reference to the Hitler Jugend movement of the Third Reich. Others call them “nashisty,” which rhymes with the Russian word for fascist, “fashisty.”

Whatever the links and financial umbilical to the Kremlin, Russia’s main political leaders made it a point to visit the Nashi camp–all of whom received wide coverage on Russia’s state-controlled TV networks.

Russian President Putin used the coverage of the Nashi jamboree as a platform to lambast the United Kingdom for its demand to extradite former KGB office Andrei Lugovoi. Lugovoi has been charged with the radiation poisoning death in London of another former KGB office, Aleksander Litvinenko, who was living in exile and had been granted UK citizenship. Putin’s government has argued that the Russian constitution prevents extradition of its citizens, which has brought calls from London for the document to be amended.

“They are making proposals to change our Constitution, which are insulting for our nation and our people,” Putin said in remarks that were broadcast from his countryside residence at Zavidovo on Channel One ORT, the largest and most widely-watched of the Russian TV networks. “It’s their brains, not our Constitution, which need to be changed. What they are offering to us is a clear remnant of colonial thinking.”

Presidential hopefuls Sergei Ivanov and Dmitry Medvedev visited the camp two days earlier. Both men are first deputy prime ministers and are in a race with one another to see which will be Putin’s hand-picked successor. Both arrived casually dressed in blue jeans and came with the message that Nashi members should have as many children of their own as possible. Having their own children to care for them would relieve the ever-growing demands that Russia’s pension system puts on the state budget, they explained.

“When you are young, it’s high time to think about old age by creating a full-fledged family that could take care of the aged,” said Medvedev. “A pension is not a substitute for love and good relations inside the family.” Ivanov then suggested that “if you raise regular children, they will help you when you grow old so you won’t need a pension.” In Russia the idea is “no elderly left behind”–that is as long as it comes out of the pockets of private families and not the government.

It is hard to imagine a U.S. presidential candidate committing the political suicide of advocating higher birth rates in order to find a means to help bail out Social Security, but very little about Russian presidential politics resembles the real world of democracy. What’s more, no one in the Nashi organization suggested that the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on the Su-27 air show might have been better spent aiding some of the poor and elderly–many of whom cannot even afford to spend the pennies that most regular medications cost in Russia.

But, the function of Nashi is not to question policy proposals that make no sense. It is to provide unquestioning loyalty to the Kremlin and to harass–with brute force if necessary–the “evil” forces that threaten Russia. And what are those evils? Just ask Sergei Markov, a political analyst with friendly ties to the Kremlin.

“The threat of lawless revolutions such as those in Georgia and Ukraine hangs over Russia,” he said. “People have to be on the side of good, not evil.” Ukraine and Georgia are “evil” regimes, then–and a government that murders its critics, political opponents, and investigative journalists, while tolerating the worst possible brutalities within the lower ranks of its military service, is “good.”

Perhaps the people that call Nashi the “Putin Jugend” have a point.


Reuben F. Johnson is a defense and aerospace technology writer.

Muslim-American Society fatwa “contrary to public policy?”

Muslim-American Society fatwa “contrary to public policy?”

If so, could it be cause for revocation of the group’s 501(c)(3) tax exemption?
by Bill Levinson

Taxi proposal gets sharp response reports,

Last year, the MAC received a fatwa, or religious edict, from the Minnesota chapter of the Muslim American Society. The fatwa said that “Islamic jurisprudence” prohibits taxi drivers from carrying passengers with alcohol “because it involves cooperating in sin according to Islam.

We do not give a tinker’s damn what the Muslim American Society says about this matter, or anything for that matter. More importantly, neither do the laws of the United States or Minnesota. The Muslim-American Society has absolutely no authority to tell its members or other Muslims that they are to deny passengers taxicab service, and perhaps it is time for the Muslim-American Society to learn that lesson the hard way.

The Muslim-American Society, as a 501(c)(3) tax exempt “charitable” or “religious” organization is not free to do whatever it pleases, as shown by this statement from the Internal Revenue Service:

IRS REV RULE 75-384, J. ACTIVITIES THAT ARE ILLEGAL OR CONTRARY TO PUBLIC POLICY 1985 EO CPE Text
http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/eotopicj85.pdf

(1) Substantiality Test
Violation of constitutionally valid laws is inconsistent with exemption under IRC 501(c)(3).As a matter of trust law, one of the main sources of the general law of charity, planned activities that violate laws are not in furtherance of a charitable purpose.” A trust cannot be created for a purpose which is illegal. The purpose is illegal …if the trust tends to induce the commission of crime or if the accomplishment of the purpose is otherwise against public policy….

(4) Planning Illegal Acts
Not only is the actual conduct of illegal activities inconsistent with exemption, but the planning and sponsoring of such activities are also incompatible with charity and social welfare. Rev.Rul.75-384 holds that an organization formed to promote world peace that planned and sponsored protest demonstrations at which members were urged to commit acts of civil disobedience did not qualify for IRC 501(c)(3) or (4) exemption. G.C.M.36153, dated January 31,1975, states that because planning and sponsoring illegal acts are in themselves inconsistent with charity and social welfare it is not necessary to determine whether illegal acts were, in fact, committed in connection with the resulting demonstrations or whether such a determination can be made prior to conviction of an accused. However, it is necessary to establish that the planning and sponsorship are attributable to the organization, if exemption is to be denied or revoked on this ground.

We are not attorneys and we cannot give an opinion on whether it is actually illegal to deny service to a passenger because he or she is legally transporting alcoholic beverages. The practice definitely seems “contrary to public policy,” though, and perhaps this should be explored with the Internal Revenue Service. The Muslim-American Society’s promotion of civil disobedience, on the other hand, looks like a clear-cut violation of Rev Rule 75-384.

The same reference adds that some of these “Muslim” cab drivers from Somalia are also refusing service to blind passengers with guide dogs.
They deserve to be treated like Ku Klux Klansmen or other racists who refuse service to an African-American..

A group of blind Minnesotans was on hand, too, testifying about taxi drivers who refused to transport their guide dogs because Muslims consider the saliva of dogs unclean.

Our reply is that we would rather have our face licked by any healthy dog (dog saliva is in fact cleaner than human saliva) than have our hand or even our clothing touched by someone who refuses service to a blind person with a guide dog.

Airport’s message to cabbies: Drive everyone, or drive no one

Airport’s message to cabbies: Drive everyone, or drive no one

Anti-dhimmitude contemplated at the Minneapolis airport. An update on this story, by Emily Gurnon in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, with thanks to TC:

For the airport, it’s about customer service. For taxi drivers, it’s about freedom of religion.The Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport is considering tough penalties against taxi drivers who say Islam forbids them from accepting passengers who carry alcohol.

The Metropolitan Airports Commission voted Tuesday to conduct a public hearing on the matter Feb. 27. Cabdrivers, many of them Muslims from Somalia, say they are being put in a tough spot.

“Our people are ready to work with a customer always,” said Yusuf Abdullah, 32, of Minneapolis. “I would like to keep my faith, and I would like to keep my job.”

Airport Director Steve Wareham said his staff will recommend that cabdrivers who refuse a customer be given a 30-day suspension for the first offense and a two-year revocation of their airport license for a second refusal.

The current punishment is sending the cabdriver to the back of the taxi line, which can mean a wait of three or more hours, drivers said.

“You go behind 200 cabs — that’s enough of a penalty,” said Girma Asfaw, 55, of Bloomington.

The Minneapolis Jihad

The Minneapolis Jihad
By Robert Spencer
FrontPageMagazine.com | January 2, 2007

The Somali jihad is over for now, but it still has supporters worldwide – including within the United States. The southern Somali city of Kismayo has fallen to a combined force of Ethiopian and Somali troops. The Somali Supreme Islamic Courts Council regime ruled Mogadishu for only a few months, instituting a particularly draconian version of Sharia. Now its leaders have fled, and the remnants of their forces are now trapped between the sea and Somalia’s border with Kenya. “Nobody expected the Islamists to show this little political resilience. They were the first movement to pacify southern Somalia for 16 years, yet they crumbled like a pack of cards,” said Matt Bryden of the International Crisis Group. 

Despite reports in the Western press suggesting that Somalis were happy with the Sharia regime of the Islamic Courts, Mogadishu residents cheered the anti-jihad troops as they entered the city last Thursday. However, there were several indications that the Islamic Courts were indeed popular, especially with expatriate Somalis. In an Oslo café, a Somali named Zakharia Ahmed vowed: “If the Ethiopians continue to occupy Somalia, we won’t sit here. We will go back to Somalia and fight as one!” His companions responded, “Yes, we will go back and fight.” Another Somali, Abdi Muhamed, added: “There is virtually no one in Somalia, or Somalians here in Norway, who do not support the Islamist regime.” 

The Islamic Courts also had supporters in the United States. Last Saturday, 1,500 Somalis gathered in Minneapolis’ Peavey Park for a demonstration in favor of the Sharia regime and against American support for the Ethiopian and Somali forces that toppled it. Hassan Mohamud, imam of St. Paul’s Al-Taqwa Mosque, who teaches Islamic law at William Mitchell College of Law and is also president of the Somali Institute for Peace and Justice, the group that organized the demonstration, won cheers from the crowd as he thundered: “We ask the president of the United States, Mr. Bush, and his administration to stop supporting the terrorists. Ethiopian troops are terrorists.” Mohamud has praised the Islamic Courts regime for bringing “peace and security to a large part of the country within 16 days where the international community could not help the Somalis for 16 years.” When asked if Somalis based in Minnesota were supporting the jihadists financially, Mohamud responded: “What I know is that they have overwhelming support inside of Somalia because of the peace and law and order. If you have the support of your people inside of Somalia you don’t need any support from outside.” 

The peace and law and order that the Islamic Courts brought to
Somalia was decidedly a matter of brute force and intimidation.
In November 2005 Sharia supremacists in Mogadishu killed twelve people in the process of closing down movie theaters and video stores, both of which had been deemed un-Islamic. Last July they killed two people at a forbidden screening of a World Cup match. The regime staged public floggings and executions, banned television, music, and women swimming, and in one town a cleric aptly named Sheikh Rage announced that anyone who did not attend Muslim prayers five times a day would be beheaded. The regime repeatedly declared jihad on Ethiopia, making no secret of the expansionist aspirations that eventually led the Ethiopians to take action: Yusuf Mohamed Siad, an Islamic Courts defense official, declared Somalia open to mujahedin from around the world: “We’re saying our country is open to Muslims worldwide. Let them fight in Somalia and wage jihad, and God willing, attack Addis Ababa.”  

Emblematic also of the nature of the Islamic Courts regime were statements by a Mogadishu cleric affiliated with the movement, Sheikh Abubukar Hassan Malin, after Pope Benedict XVI’s address in Regensburg, Germany that aroused Muslim ire worldwide: “We urge you Muslims wherever you are to hunt down the Pope for his barbaric statements as you have pursued Salman Rushdie, the enemy of Allah who offended our religion. Whoever offends our Prophet Mohammed should be killed on the spot by the nearest Muslim. We call on all Islamic Communities across the world to take revenge on the baseless critic called the pope,” said Malin. 

The Islamic Courts’ first vice chairperson, Sheikh Al-Rahman Mohomood Jinikow, stated in September that “we will only approve a constitution based on theology, because an Islamic constitution is the only one that serves all of us justly. Secular constitution, whether it is democratic or any other, is never fair and right, and Muslims have only one constitution which is entirely based on Allah’s Qur’an.”  

That seemed to be fine with the demonstrators in Minneapolis. Some carried signs that read, “Islam is the solution.” Abdul Mohamed, a member of the Somali Institute for Peace and Justice, denounced American policy toward Somalia as motivated by “Islamophobia.” Given the nature of the Islamic Courts regime, this raises questions that have less to do with Somalia than with Minneapolis and the United States. What are 1,500 supporters of Islamic jihad and Sharia law doing in Minneapolis? What are the implications of this for our own national security? Would these immigrants prefer to live under Sharia than under the United States Constitution? Why do immigration officials do absolutely no screening for Sharia supremacism, even though the U.S. is embroiled in a global war against Sharia supremacists? Why is no one with any power or influence even asking these questions? 

The Somali Institute for Peace and Justice’s demonstration in Minneapolis was simultaneously a demonstration in favor of Sharia government in Somalia and, unwittingly, of the crying need for serious and searching immigration reform. One may only hope that at least some American officials understood it as such.

 

1,500 in Minneapolis protest ouster of Sharia government in Somalia

1,500 in Minneapolis protest ouster of Sharia government in Somalia

What are 1,500 supporters of Islamic jihad and Sharia law doing in Minneapolis? What are the implications of this for our own national security? Why is no one with any power or influence even asking these questions?

“Area Somalis want peace for homeland: Many of the 1,500 protesters in Minneapolis were angered that the U.S. gave tacit support for ousting of Islamists,” by Liz Fedor in the Star Tribune, with thanks to CGW:

More than a thousand Somalis gathered in Minneapolis on Saturday to call for Ethiopian troops to withdraw immediately from Somalia.Their protest capped a week in which transitional government troops retook Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, with the backing of Ethiopian infantrymen.

The U.S. government “gave the green light” to Ethiopia to work in concert with the transitional federal government in Somalia, and that action was “totally wrong,” said Hassan Mohamud.

He is the president of the Somali Institute for Peace and Justice in Minneapolis, which organized Saturday’s rally.

“We ask the president of the United States, Mr. Bush, and his administration to stop supporting the terrorists. Ethiopian troops are terrorists,” Mohamud said to a cheering crowd.

Somali men, women and children gathered Saturday morning in Peavey Park in Minneapolis, and they carried an array of signs. Some said “No more war” and “Islam is the solution.”

Lt. Rick Thomas of the Minneapolis Police Department estimated the crowd at about 1,500 people for a rally that ran for more than two hours.

Mohamud said he and other Somalis want the United States to support talks that can yield “peace and reconciliation.”

Somalia has not had a stable government in 15 years, but many attendees at the rally said that the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) had brought some peace to the country during the past six months.

When that Islamic group took over the capital in June, many people were optimistic about the future, said Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in Minneapolis.

“They brought back security,” Jamal said in a telephone interview. “We were all hoping that the moderates would be able to take the lead in the organization of the UIC. But unfortunately, the radicals hijacked the process.”

Don’t they always.

Jamal said the large Somali community in Minnesota “is divided,” adding that many local Somalis supported the overthrow of the Islamists over the past few days.Jamal said he attended the rally as an observer….

Sadia Egal, 23, said she had been planning to visit her parents in Somalia in January. But the recent military actions prompted her to postpone the trip. She is fearful that her teenage brothers in Somalia could be killed in revenge slayings. “My dad asked them to stop going to school,” she said, so they could stay home and avoid being targets for violence.

Egal, who lives in north Minneapolis, has not returned to Somalia since she left the country with her aunt when she was 12 years old. She works as a parking attendant and interpreter and has been saving her money for six months to pay for her plane ticket.

Abdullahi Hassan, a small-business owner from Eden Prairie, said, “What brought me here [to the rally] is our country is under occupation by foreign forces.” He said the United States should support a process that would allow highly educated Somalis to find solutions to stabilize the country and build hospitals and schools that will serve the people.

Tacit U.S. approval

A member of the Somali Institute for Peace and Justice, Abdul Mohamed of Minneapolis, said the military advances last week by Ethiopian troops created “one of the worst moments in Somali history.”

Mohamed disagrees with U.S. policy in Somalia, which he said is driven by “Islamophobia.”

If anyone in the American government had any courage, they would tackle this head-on, explaining that they opposed the Somali jihadists not only because they had ties to Al-Qaeda, but because Sharia government institutionalizes discrimination against women and religious minorities and denies freedom of conscience, and is in general an outrage to the dignity of the human person. In other words, they would engage the ideological challenge posed by the global jihad by asserting the superiority of the values of the modern West, and of the civilization built on Judeo-Christian values. But they don’t dare.

Lefties Gone Wild

Lefties Gone Wild
By Roberta Leguizamon
FrontPageMagazine.com | October 26, 2006

When the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) planned to bring “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” to the

University of
Michigan on Oct. 13, they expected resistance. The event, which has been held with varying degrees of success on other campuses across the country over the last few months, is purposefully offensive. Like the “Affirmative Action Bake Sale” which has also been held at numerous universities over the last few years, “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” is an event designed to create passion and dialogue about issues which sit at the heart of
America’s cultural landscape. This particular event also succeeded in exposing the Left’s predictable hypocrisy when it comes to the issue of free speech.

Andrew Boyd, Chairman of the U-Mich chapter of YAF, said, “YAF members all have very different opinions on the issue of immigration; this event was intended not to promote any one of them, but rather to get a dialogue going.   Political life here on campus has been dry, boring, and stagnant…someone had to stir things up, and we decided to be that someone.”

Predictably, the event was more successful at demonstrating the Left’s intolerance of views it finds distasteful than it was in provoking debate on the issue of illegal immigration. In fact, most of those gathered were there to protest the event. Andrew Grossman of the Michigan Daily reported:

 

“The protesters came from a wide range of campus organizations, including the Student of Color Coalition, La Voz Latina, Black Student Union and the undergraduate and law school chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union. Many wore yellow ‘Michigan Immigrant’ T-shirts, which the protesters had made specifically for the event.”

 

Boyd said he welcomed the peaceful protestors. “The majority of protestors were there to protest peacefully… I knew they would be there and I encouraged it because they were using their freedom of speech and exercising their individual rights just as I was.  These principles are something that YAF strongly believes in,” he said.

 

The event turned out to be anything but peaceful, however, when Leftist group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) decided to make an appearance.  As Christopher Zbrozek explained in the Michigan Daily:

 

“Once YAF arrived, Boyd tried to announce the rules of the ‘game.’ He quickly found himself trying in vain to be heard over repeated chants of ‘No racist harassment on campus!’ A section of the protesters – led by BAMN members – decided Boyd’s allegedly racist message simply wasn’t fit to be heard.

“’We want to shut it down,’ explained Liana Mulholland, co-chair of the campus BAMN chapter. ‘They can’t have that game here.’”

 

Clearly Ms. Mulholland and her friends among BAMN believe they can determine unilaterally what kind of speech is permissible and what isn’t at U-Mich.

 

In an interesting twist to the game at U-Mich, the YAF dressed their “illegal immigrant” as Christopher Columbus, and their American citizen as a Native American. Boyd tried to pose numerous questions to the crowd. “Was
Columbus an illegal alien?   Should the Native Americans have sent him packing along with all the rest of the settlers to come?   Was the relationship between the natives and the immigrants beneficial at all?   What things went wrong in the eventual blending of cultures that could perhaps be avoided in future cross-cultural interactions?”

 

However, several reports on the event mentioned the BAMN group, which consisted of both students and imported protestors from other parts of the state, including 17 high school students from
Ann Arbor, chanted so loudly they drowned Boyd out as he tried to speak. So rather than participating in a reasoned, respectable debate on the issue of illegal immigration, BAMN turned the event into a spectacle of Leftist intolerance and militancy.

 

BAMN, which considers itself a leading voice in the “new civil rights movement,” is actually a front group for the Revolutionary Workers League, of which its co-chair, Luke Massie, is an active and influential member. The RWL describes itself as a “
U.S. sympathizing section of the International Trotskyist Committee.” 

 

BAMN has a long history of abhorrent behavior, much of it extremely counterproductive to the Civil Rights cause. For example, this November,
Michigan residents will be voting on an amendment “to ban affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes.” As such, BAMN, whose full, pretentious name is the “Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights, and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary,” has been
spearheading the campaign against the amendment.

 

When numerous lawsuits filed by BAMN and other Leftist groups failed to stop the initiative from being placed on the ballot this November, BAMN resorted to violence and intimidation. On December 14, 2005, BAMN disrupted a
Michigan
Board of Canvasser’s meeting, shouting obscenities and even flipping over a table.

 

Chetly Zarko is the treasurer of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative Committee, which created the ballot initiative. Zarko described the events of that night as follows:

 

At almost precisely 10am, with what appeared to be two (chartered) buses BAMN arrived with what I estimate to be 120-150 members, mostly high school students taken from classes in Detroit Public Schools. Media estimates were as high as 250, but photographic evidence and common sense (the buses) suggest the number was slightly smaller…

 

“Following the voluminous testimony, at around 12:30pm, Canvasser Lynn Bankes read into the record a motion to certify the initiative pursuant to the Court ruling. As she read, BAMN leaders Luke Massie and Shanta Driver began to yell a slogan, started clapping, and the noise level in the room quickly drowned out the Board and any other conversation in the room became impossible…

 

“Several minutes passed inside as the chanting continued, and BAMN members began jumping on chairs, moving around, and flailing. The situation was becoming more frenzied…”

 

Eventually police had to be brought in to reestablish order at the meeting.

 The fact is, the civil rights movement, and the progressive moment in general, would be far better off without extremist groups like BAMN, which would use noise, violence and intimidation to silence their political opponents. As a matter of fact, the NAACP at U-Mich denounced BAMN in Oct. 2005, after BAMN bused in hundreds of students for an anti-MRCI rally. According to Donn M. Fresard of the
Michigan Daily:
“During the rally against the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, a proposal that could ban the use of affirmative action by the University and the state if it is approved by voters next year, the Detroit students were given microphones and could be heard yelling profanities and slurs at anti-affirmative action protesters at the back of the crowd…

Alex Moffett, who was vice president of the NAACP’s campus chapter at the time, publicly denounced them for perpetuating negative stereotypes of African American youths. She wrote in an email which was published in the Michigan Daily:

 

“I want to send out a special thank you to those gagged students that were present during the foolishness that was the bamn [sic] rally today. For those of you that broke your silence in an attempt to give guidance and direction to the young black students (because they obviously had not been given any by the rally organizers). I would personally like to thank you. It broke many of our hearts to see those young black students tokenized and made a fool of in the way that they were. The fact that the bamn [sic] organizers would allow those students to come to campus with no prior preparation or supervision was reprehensible. All that bamn [sic] was successful in doing today was perpetuating untruths about todays [sic] black youth.

 

“The U of M Chapter of the NAACP is publicly denouncing bamn and their actions today. As an organization we believe that bamn’s behavior has been unacceptable and as a community we will not allow our people to be represented in such a fashion.”

 In fact, most of the groups which peacefully protested the YAF’s “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” event were displeased that BAMN showed up as well, acknowledging that such groups make a mockery of free speech and Leftist activism. During his speech—which was “heard” best by lip-readers- Boyd said, “It was hilarious to see how all the forces of political correctness descended upon U of M once we dared to announce an event that doesn’t have a ‘PC’ title… it’s good to keep the forces who would stifle debate, dialogue and intellectual stimulation on their toes.”As Zbrozek bemoaned in the Michigan Daily:

“YAF pulled off a brilliant success yesterday [Oct. 13] – but it had an awful lot of help from BAMN organizer Luke Massie and his friends.”