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Posts tagged ‘Arab Spring’

Harvard’s Niall Ferguson: US in Global Retreat.


The United States’ “geopolitical taper” is having long-lasting, significant effects on the country’s national security strategy, as world powers stop taking President Barack Obama’s warnings seriously, says Niall Ferguson, Harvard history professor and Stanford University Hoover Institution senior fellow.

“The world remembers the red line that Mr. Obama once drew over the use of chemical weapons in Syria…and then ignored once the line had been crossed,” Ferguson writes in an op-ed piece for The Wall Street Journal.

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Ferguson’s use of the phrase “geopolitical taper” is a play off Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s use of taper” last June, when he announced modest reductions in the Fed’s large-scale asset-purchase program, creating repercussions worldwide..

But Obama’s tapering, or promising consequences only when other nations step “over the line” is far more significant, said Ferguson.

On Wednesday, when the president commented that “there will be consequences if people step over the line”  in the raging battles between Ukrainian protesters in Kiev and government forces, nobody took the warning seriously, Ferguson said.

“Ukrainian government snipers kept on killing people in Independence Square regardless,” he commented. “The compromise deal reached on Friday in Ukraine calling for early elections and a coalition government may or may not spell the end of the crisis. In any case, the negotiations were conducted without concern for Mr. Obama.”

The geopolitical taper can be traced to Obama’s first term, when he wanted troops out of Iraq and to have a minimum of U.S. overseas commitments, said Ferguson.

“Less easy to understand was his policy in Afghanistan,” said Ferguson, and the result was a compromise and a surge of additional troops, followed by a commitment to begin withdrawing.

Ferguson said Obama passively watched as the Iranian people arose against their rulers starting in 2009 and was caught off balance by the Arab Spring.

Obama’s other policies have been confused as well, said Ferguson.

“Mr. Obama backed the government led by Mohammed Morsi, after the Muslim Brotherhood won the 2012 elections. Then the president backed the military coup against Mr. Morsi last year,” said Ferguson.

“On Libya, Mr. Obama took a back seat in an international effort to oust Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, but was apparently not in the vehicle at all when the American mission at Benghazi came under fatal attack in 2012.”

And Ferguson said, “Syria has been one of the great fiascos of post-World War II American foreign policy” because of Obama’s “ineffectual” intervention.

The inaction has resulted in disaster, Ferguson said, with at least 130,000 Syrian civilians being killed and another 9 million driven from their homes. Further, the civil war has escalated into a proxy war between Sunni and Shiite Muslims that involves jihadist groups.

“Obama’s supporters like nothing better than to portray him as the peacemaker to [former president] George W. Bush’s warmonger,” said Ferguson. “But it is now almost certain that more people have died violent deaths in the Greater Middle East during this presidency than during the last one.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Changing the human heart…


By Pastor Bobby Schuller

“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body, you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.” 
-Colossians 3:15

The world that Jesus was born into was quite violent. War was constantly in the air. The Israelites, the Jewish people who were occupied by the Romans, were talking constantly about rebelling against the most powerful and ruthless empire at that time in history. There was injustice and many hurting and broken people. Ironically, religious leaders often hurt the very people that they were supposed to help. So, Jesus enters into this world to bring peace.

I wonder, now, do we live in a peaceful place now that Jesus has come? Even if there were no North Korea launching missiles, no Arab Spring, no political differences, would we, then, have peace?

Do people live in peace, today, surrounded by others but still lonely, constantly living in fear, living paycheck-to-paycheck, working jobs they don’t like, with cell phones ringing and in-boxes full, living in what Thoreau called “quiet desperation”?
Those things won’t change until we change. Jesus came to change human hearts because he knew that, if people had peace on the inside, there would then be peace everywhere else.

This Christmas, remember that Jesus came to be our Prince of Peace.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for filling my heart with a peace that passes understanding. Help me to be authentically peaceful and, thereby, an example of your peace to others. Amen.

Devotion: How might you, through encouragement or example, bring peace to the hearts of others?

Keane on Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Attacks ‘Will Grow’.


Image: Keane on Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood Attacks 'Will Grow'

By Wanda Carruthers

The move by the army-backed government in Egypt declaring the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization will not silence the radical elements in group, Ret. Gen. Jack Keane said Thursday.

He predicted during an appearance on Fox News that attacks on the Egyptian government “will grow in size and scale” as militants members of the brotherhood begin to assert themselves.

“There is a part of the Muslim Brotherhood that will wait for another political opportunity. But, then there’s another part of the Muslim Brotherhood, to the right and much more radical,” Keane said.

“They are already conducting armed violence, terrorist attacks. This will grow in size and scale.”

The Egyptian government formally declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization Wednesday. The move makes the group’s activities illegal, and is seen as an effort by the army-backed government to suppress opposition.

The Brotherhood played a significant role in the government itself before former President Mohamed Morsi was removed from power. Keane, a Fox News military analyst, said the Egyptian government was answering what they thought was the will of the people by getting rid of Morzi, who rose to power as a member of the brotherhood.

“The military regime believes that they are answering the clarion call of the people by suppressing the Muslim Brotherhood. They do not want them to participate in the political process again,” he said.

The current political tensions mask what Keane believes is the real problem facing Egypt — poverty among the majority of its people. He says the protests during the Arab Spring that eventually helped sweep Morsi into office were prompted by the nation’s economic and social problems.

“Remember the Arab Spring when they took to the streets a number of years ago? It was all about economic opportunity and social justice and political justice,” Keane said. ” And, hopefully, this regime will get back to trying to solve some of these problems.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Twitter Shuts Down Link to ‘Duck Dynasty’ Petition Site.


Twitter users trying to include links to a popular online petition site were disabled from doing so Monday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. 

Attempts to tweet the URL iStandwithPhil.com  results in a message reading “Oops! A URL in your Tweet appears to link to a page that has spammy or unsafe content.”

“This marks at least the third major shutdown of a pro-Phil Robertson social media account since the story broke days ago,” The Reporter quoted a Christian advocacy group as saying. The other shutdown victims were not named.

Faith Driven Consumer, which runs the iStandwithPhil.com petition site told The Reporter it was unaware why it was being blocked since a diagnostic page says it “has not hosted malicious software over the past 90 days.”

A Twitter spokesperson would not comment on the case.

Such Twitter actions typically occur when users report a site and Twitter employees review the site.

Twitter has held itself out as a bastion of free speech. The Arab Spring protests were largely fueled by Twitter. But the company suspended the account of the terrorists who were tweeting body counts and blow-by-blow action during their attack on a Kenyan shopping mall.

The blocked petition site supports “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson, who was put on hiatus from the show last week after saying in a GQ interview that homosexuality is a sin.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

With Christian Persecution Reaching Pandemic Proportions, Intercessors Unite.


persecuted church
Pastor Samuel was imprisoned for his faith for eight years. Join churches across the world Nov. 3 for International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. (Gospel for Asia)

With persecution of Christians at its highest rate in recent times, Gospel for Asia is calling for a chain of prayer to encircle the globe on Nov. 3 for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Prayer resources are available at gfa.org/info/idop.

“Stripped of their rights, fleeing their homes, beaten by their own family members, imprisonment and martyrdom are all part of what it means to stand firm in the Christian faith in many parts of the world,” says Dr. K.P. Yohannan, Gospel for Asia (GFA) founder and president. “We must stand with them through earnest prayer.”

Yohannan says there are millions of Christians around the world who are persecuted for Christ.

“Based on the promise of God about the time leading up to Christ’s return, persecution will only get greater,” Yohannan says. “We can expect persecution.”

The violence of the Arab Spring that began in December 2010, which saw uprisings in a number of Middle East and North Africa nations, was often specifically targeted against Christians. In Egypt, at least 40 Coptic Christian churches and other Christian properties, such as bookstores and schools, were attacked and burned. Tens of thousands of Christians have fled the violence and kidnappings targeting their communities in Syria. Two suicide bombers attacked a Pakistani church in September, leaving at least 81 dead and 140 injured.

In India, a Christian family hosting a house church was invaded as they prepared for dinner on Good Friday. The father and son were severely beaten, all because people wanted to drive Christians out of their community.

“The Bible tells us that the prayers of the righteous effect change,” Yohannan says. “Last year on the International Day of Prayer, we asked you to pray for the release of Pastor Ugyen, who was imprisoned for showing a film about Jesus and leading people to believe in Him. His miraculous release after three years in prison is witness to a faithful God who hears and answers prayer.

“We must not let our persecuted brothers and sisters stand alone. Let us all pray for those who are facing great danger for boldly believing and sharing the love of Jesus.”

Why Leadership Fails By Gabriel Osamwonyi Omozuwa.


By Gabriel Osamwonyi Omozuwa

Leadership failure is one depressing phenomenon that remarkably defines this era. The public domain is always awash with news about the moral and ethical failures of leaders.   High calibre leaders like Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Silvio Berlusconi, Mohammed Morsi, Muammar Gaddafi, General Sani Abacha and many more are mostly remembered for their failures.  Unfortunately, the consequences of their failures are grave. Sometimes, they are irreversible.  They leave scars on public conscience, breed widespread mistrust of authority figures and ignite the forces of anarchy, which push society to the verge of moral and cultural collapse.

Apart from football, I wonder if there is any subject that dominates our conversation like leadership failure. In fact, many Nigerians seem poised to write theses on leadership failure.  There are many reasons for this. First, experientially, we know life is better with effective leadership and tough without it. Second, some leaders around us are not maximizing our collective potential for greatness. Third, our moral and ethical landscape is becoming very hazy as profligate leaders do not do the right thing the right way and for the right motives. In sum, service-oriented, effective and ethical leaders are in short supply everywhere.

As homes are increasingly becoming weaker due to lack of exemplary leadership, so are institutions of religion, society and state. This phenomenon is not peculiar to Nigeria. It is global. However, it can be reversed.  In fact, this piece is premised on the optimistic assumption that if we constantly and objectively examine why leaders fail, it will orient leadership towards optimal performance, ethical rectitude and enable many to sidestep pitfalls along the path to enduring greatness.

The beauty of leadership is seen when humane values inspire visions and pursuits. Not when power symbols, privileges and perks are flaunted.  Value-driven leaders have congruent behaviour, which is the bedrock of trustworthy relationships. Nelson Mandela exemplifies many sterling qualities of effective leadership. One of which is his historic mission to create an egalitarian society rooted in the core values of Ubuntu. This inspired hope in people. It facilitated the formation of broad alliances and promoted the spirit of cooperation. It is difficult for a leader to inspire rock-solid allegiances and build bridges across divides, if his value system, vision and pursuit are disharmonious. In other words, visions without values reduce leaders to rubble.

Credibility, which is the lifeblood of effective and ethical leadership, is safeguarded by open communication and accountability. If compromised, a leader’s quest for excellence in all things cannot be achieved. Discredited leaders can hardly elicit the needed cooperation to turn their vision to reality. This explains why wise leaders see credibility as their collateral, their greatest asset, never to be toyed with. Leaders often face the temptation to trade credibility for success and cheap popularity. Don’t give in. Ultimately, it is failure when you succeed by any means that endangers your credibility.

Leaders fail when infested by uncontrolled greed for wealth. Greedy leaders rank their material well-being above the common good, and their whims above the law. They hold power for self-enrichment.  Greed erodes the human capacity for empathy, making leadership insensitive to public needs.  Unfortunately, leadership ceases to be benevolent, progressive and people-empowering when emotional atrophy resulting from avarice disconnects it from follower ship.  In fact, dictatorship begins with lack of empathy. As central as noble and doable vision is to leadership, it does not guarantee success without empathy.  Empathy deficiency mutates the core essence of leadership.
The Arab Spring teaches many lessons. One is worthy of emphasis. Feelings of alienation balloon when the people’s development is outside a leader’s orbit of interest. Widespread latent hostility, which easily triggers violent revolution, is near inevitable when leaders luxuriate in enclaves of splendour, while their followers pine in misery in skid rows.

History is a fine teacher. The more we learn from it, the better we become.  King Farouk of Egypt plunged from the peak of power, prestige and prosperity to history’s grave of ignominy, because he became a victim of a certain psychosis caused by profligate high-living.  His famed hedonistic pursuits made him incapable of feeling public pulse. It made him docile even when intelligence report hinted to brewing revolt. In July 1952, when his Prime Minister called him one night to inform him of an impending coup d’état, on knowing the identity of the plotters, he deliriously retorted “A bunch of pimps” and went back to his gambling table.  Anything that distorts a leader’s perception of reality could bury him in the wreckage of misplaced priority, fractured reputation and failed projects.

Leaders fail when temperance ceases to be their governing principle. Without self-control, everything under a leader’s watch spins out of control. Self-control is the true measure of a leader’s power. Intemperance wrecks leadership. In a sense, intemperance could be spelt as lack of judgment and staying power.  Intemperate leaders almost always lack the nimbleness of mind to transcend mediocrity and broaden people’s vistas of experienced reality. It is not fitting for a leader to be impulse driven. Emotion-inspired decisions are almost always recipe for debacle. When upset, a leader must not make decisions or spring to action.

Leaders are principally knowledgeable trouble-shooters. But they are not encyclopedias. Like all men, their knowledge and problem-solving skills are limited. So, they always seek expert advice on strategic and complex matters. The danger is if a leader is disinclined to truth or is surrounded by sycophants, his advisers will tell him what he wants to hear and not what he needs to hear.

Leaders should be wary of the counsel of untested aides. King Rehoboam inadvertently triggered the division of Israel, because he discarded the wise advice of aged men of honour and prudence and listened to the sweet-coated folly of his peers.   Many unprincipled hunters of fortune masquerade as experts. On a whim, they will delude leadership and destroy lives to advance their self-interest.

Some self-appointed special advisers have the ability to muffle the voice of truth and reason. Any leader who seeks to finish strong and well must put such advisers and those who validate his mistakes on a checklist. He must do likewise with those who put him on the pedestal of inimitable and infallible sage. A leader is doomed to fail, if everyone around him unthinkingly agrees with all that he says.

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters

 

WSJ: al-Qaida Affiliates Growing, Spreading Around Middle East.


The United States is facing a new front in the war against terrorism as jihadist organizations across the Middle East become increasingly fractured, requiring a new strategy to combat terror threats.

According to The Wall Street Journal, two new studies have found that while the core structure of al-Qaida has weakened, regional affiliate groups are on the rise. By one estimate, they now occupy double the number of areas they did five years ago.

“Even though core al-Qaida may be in decline, ‘al-Qaida-ism,’ the movement’s ideology, continues to resonate and attract new adherents,” says a report from the Bipartisan Policy Center‘s Homeland Security Project, chaired by former September 11 commission chiefs Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton.

The warnings are also echoed in a report issued by the Soufan Group, which concluded, “Terrorists and extremists are, in many ways, in a stronger position today than in the past.”

The change signifies a new dimension to the terrorist threats facing the U.S., according to the reports, and will require America to do more to specifically fight jihadist ideology, recruitment, and propaganda if it is to deter “lone-wolf” terrorist attacks, such as the Boston Marathon bombings.

The Bipartisan Policy Center’s report says one key area of a potential long-term threat is the al-Qaida affiliate currently fighting the Assad regime in Syria. It warns the civil war conflict “could create an organization with the intention and capability to attack the West itself,” and points in particular to the possibility of jihadist groups accessing the regime’s chemical weapons.

Violent extremist groups operating in regional conflicts in the Arab Spring countries in Northern Africa could also ultimately become international terror threats, the report warns, according to the Journal.

The report recommends the creation of a permanent investigative panel to launch probes after terror attacks and to analyze clues authorities may have missed. It also recommends the Department of Homeland Security create a position focused on countering jihadist ideology and propaganda, the Journal noted.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Melanie Batley

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