Meditation Focus #147

Taking The Edge Off Religious Extremism
And Encouraging Tolerance


What follows is the 147th Meditation Focus suggested for the next 2 weeks beginning Sunday, February 26, 2006.


1. Summary
2. Meditation times
3. More information related to this Meditation Focus


Also of possible interest to you...

The Writing on the Wall Series #48: Vital Knowledge - LOTS of it! (February 21, 2006)

Veracity Series #13: The Power of Truth (February 13, 2006)

Message from Matthew - February 18, 2006
World is being fixed; great challenge will be reeducating adherents of religions; dark forces step up efforts to infiltrate souls; people most vulnerable to dark influence; how to recognize dark souls; protection from darkness; guidance for telepathic communication and checking sources. (...) Your greatest challenge will be the people who will rebel against the truth that will be revealed about the origin and purpose of religions. Religion forms the belief system that extends to all facets of billions of lives, and the initial reaction for the majority of adherents will be total rejection of the revelations, which if accepted, would shatter the very foundation of their lives. CLIP


As the situation in Iraq appears to be sliding towards a long dreaded civil war between adherents of differing religious doctrines, and as several countries are reeling from the violent protests unleashed by the media display of irreverent depictions of Islam's religious founder, many are wondering where this religious intolerance and sectarian violence is leading humanity, as billions of souls are struggling to free themselves from centuries of often distorted religious indoctrination and to reacquire the sense of freedom that comes with a free mind, unshackled from all doctrinal constraints. Needless to say, most of the violence seen recently, particularly in Iraq following the cunning destruction of the Shi’ite al-Askari shrine in Samarra last week, is being stoked for political purposes by people who demonstrate a complete disregard for the value of human lives. Needless to say also that our brothers and sisters in Iraq have been long suffering under the dictatorial regimes imposed upon them through brutal repression under Saddam Hussein and through the random killing under the American-led invasion of this country and the subsequent descent into anarchy and still more repression by an illegal force of occupation, never sanctioned by any international system of law.

What some have called a potential clash of civilizations following the violent cartoon protests by outraged Muslim extremists is revealing yet another ploy used by dark forces whose divide-and-conquer strategies, along with their lust for sheer negative emotional outbursts feeding their drive for complete domination and eradication of all Light Forces from this world, are the easily recognizable signature of their sad but ultimately vain efforts to prevail against the rising tide of Goodwill and Love-filled compassion all over the Earth. Faced with the predictable reactions of still easily manipulated masses of unawakened souls, Light Servers around the Earth are yet again presented with another vital mission in their common quest to bring back balance and harmony within the hearts of all human beings, and with all other sentient beings and Life forms on Earth.

Please dedicate your prayers and meditations, as guided by Spirit, in the coming two weeks, and especially in synchronous attunement at the usual time this Sunday and the following Sunday, to contribute in taking the edge off religious extremism through encouraging tolerance and a profound respect for the beliefs and practices of people of other faiths. May we also contribute, through our own individual inner spiritual balance, to foster a peaceful resolution of perceived or real conflicts between members of various religious creeds so as to help create an atmosphere in which a true spiritual awakening may flourish within the hearts and souls of all human beings in their age-old quest to find meaning to their existence and hope for their future, once their current physical existence has run its course. Let us all unite through the streams of loving harmony connecting us all during these vibrant moments of global at-one-ment so as to create the spiritual vessel through which the carefully designed Plan for collective awakening and spiritual ascension of humanity can be achieved and fully manifested, for the Highest Good of All.

This whole Meditation Focus has been archived for your convenience at


i) Global Meditation Day: Sunday at 16:00 Universal Time (GMT) or at noon local time. Suggested duration: 30 minutes. Please dedicate the last few minutes of your Sunday meditation BOTH to the healing of the Earth as a whole and to reiterate our willingness and desire - if we so choose - to receive assistance from our space family in order to help set things on a path towards a new era of global peace, love and harmony for all. See the Earth as healthy and vibrant with life, and experience the healing of all relations as we awaken globally to the sacredness of all Life and to our underlying unity with All That Is.

ii) Golden Moment of At-Onement: Daily, at the top of any hour, or whenever it better suits you.

These times below correspond to 16:00 Universal Time/GMT:

Honolulu 6:00 AM -- Anchorage 7:00 AM -- Los Angeles 8:00 AM -- Denver 9:00 AM -- San Salvador, Mexico City, Houston & Chicago 10:00 AM -- New York, Toronto & Montreal 11:00 AM -- Halifax, Santo Domingo, La Paz & Caracas 12:00 PM -- Montevideo, Asuncion * & Santiago * 1:00 PM -- Rio de Janeiro * 2:00 PM -- London, Dublin, Lisbon, Reykjavik & Casablanca 4:00 PM -- Lagos, Algiers, Geneva, Rome, Berlin, Paris & Madrid 5:00 PM -- Ankara, Jerusalem, Johannesburg, Athens, Helsinki & Istanbul 6:00 PM -- Baghdad, Moscow & Nairobi 7:00 PM -- Tehran 7:30 PM -- Islamabad 9:00 PM -- Calcutta & New Delhi 9:30 PM -- Dhaka 10:00 PM -- Rangoon 10:30 PM -- Hanoi, Bangkok & Jakarta 11:00 PM -- Hong Kong, Perth, Beijing & Kuala Lumpur +12:00 AM -- Seoul & Tokyo +1:00 AM -- Brisbane, Canberra & Melbourne +2:00 AM -- Wellington * +5:00 AM

You may also check at to find your corresponding local time for tomorrow if a nearby city is not listed above.


This complement of information may help you to better understand the various aspects pertaining to the summary description of the subject of this Meditation Focus. It is recommended to view this information from a positive perspective, and not allow the details to tinge the positive vision we wish to hold in meditation. Since what we focus on grows, the more positive our mind-set, the more successful we will be in manifesting a vision of peace and healing. This complementary information is provided so that a greater knowledge of what needs healing and peace-nurturing vibrations may assist us to have an in-depth understanding of what is at stake and thus achieve a greater collective effectiveness.


1. As Violence Ebbs, Iraqi Leaders Seek to Contain the Crisis
2. Whose Bombs were they?
3. Younger Clerics Showing Power in Iraq's Unrest
4. War's stunning price tag
5. Long path to Iraq's sectarian split
6. Five Days of Violence by Nigerian Christians and Muslims Kill 150
7. Annan joins with Islamic, Arab and other leaders to urge restraint over offensive cartoons

See also:

Baghdad minister warns of civil war that ‘will never end’
AS sectarian violence flared and Iraq faced its gravest crisis since the US invasion in 2003, the country’s defence minister warned yesterday about the risk of a civil war that “will never end”. Bombs and gunfire killed about 60 people across the country on Saturday, as another daytime curfew failed to halt the violence that has claimed nearly 200 lives since the destruction of the Shi’ite al-Askari shrine in Samarra last week. CLIP

Iraq shrine bombing was specialist job: minister (02/25/06)
The bombing of a revered Shiite shrine which sparked a wave of violence in Iraq was the work of specialists, Construction Minister Jassem Mohammed Jaafar said Friday, adding that the placing of the explosives must have taken at least 12 hours."According to initial reports, the bombing was technically well conceived and could only have been carried out by specialists," the minister told Iraqia state television.Jaafar, who toured the devastated thousand-year-old shrine on Thursday a day after the bombing which brought down its golden dome, said "holes were dug into the mausoleum's four main pillars and packed with explosives.""Then the charges were connected together and linked to another charge placed just under the dome. The wires were then linked to a detonator which was triggered at a distance," the minister added.To drill into the pillars would have taken at least four hours per pillar, he also estimated.Damage to the mausoleum, holding the tombs of the 10th and 11th Shiite Imams, was extensive. CLIP

A Nation Teeters on Brink of Civil War (February 25 2006),1,375120.story
(...) This week's massive attack against one of Shiite Islam's most sacred sites has provoked a crisis of sectarian strife and political paralysis. All over Iraq, vignettes of anxiety played out Friday as officials struggled to quell a savage wave of killings and mosque vandalism.The sectarian attacks have forced the public to grapple with the possibility — or probability, many Iraqis argue — that they are on the verge of a civil war. Many fear it could prove even more bloody and heartbreaking than the fighting that has racked this country since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. "My family and I are living in fear and anxiety," said Abu Tamam, one of a handful of shopkeepers who opened up in Arasat, a mixed Shiite-Sunni neighborhood in the capital. The religious leadership "are against violence. But when passions and burning feelings explode, people lose control and lose their balance." The streets of Baghdad were choked shut Friday with checkpoints, lending neighborhoods an air of siege. Armed militiamen paced on the rooftops of the mosques in the eerily quiet afternoon. (...) The split between the two sects stretches back centuries to the early days of Islam. But in today's Iraq, the divide has a new relevance — and the sense of injustice is aggravated with each killing, moment of fear and image of a mosque on fire. "As a Sunni, I feel very much oppressed. All my rights have been taken away and I see myself as a victim," said Qussay Emir, a 33-year-old lawyer who lives in the diverse city of Mosul. "When I hear about Sunni mosques being burned like this, it really breaks my heart. It's something I will never forget nor forgive."

Anger Tinged Calls for Peace in Iraq (February 24 2006 ),0,3333412.story?coll=la-home-headlines
BAGHDAD -- Political and religious leaders in Iraq scrambled today to halt the country's slide toward sectarian civil war, renewing for tomorrow an extraordinary daytime curfew that was temporarily relaxed to allow a small measure of respite for the country. But Iraqi police today found at least 29 bodies scattered in Baghdad. Each corpse was handcuffed and had single gunshots to the head, in the style often attributed to Shiite death squads believed attached to the Ministry of Interior.

Understanding Strife in Iraq - Current Clashes Nothing New (February 24, 2006 )
The events in Iraq over the last few days do not show a new pattern. Rather, the clashes represent an intensification of sectarian and ethnic strife that some insurgent groups have long provoked in an effort to create a level of civil conflict that could paralyze political progress, divide the new armed forces, and either drive the United States out or deprive U.S. forces of American support. As the United States and the coalition forces phased down their role, and a sovereign Iraqi government increased its influence and power, insurgents increasingly shifted the focus of their attacks to Iraqi government targets, as well as Iraqi military, police and security forces. At the same time, they stepped up attacks designed to prevent Sunnis from participating in the new government and that increased the growing tension and conflict between Sunni and Shiite, and Arab and Kurd. CLIP

Iraq's civil war nightmare (Feb 23, 2006)
A civil war could lead to the break-up of IraqFor the families of the people who have died since the invasion in 2003, or the thousands more who have been maimed, or those who have been kidnapped, it probably does not matter much what sort of war is going on in Iraq. The fact is that there has been a war there now for the best part of three years, and that it has brought them pain. But everyone in Iraq - and across the Middle East - knows that a full-blown civil war would be much worse. After the attack on the al-Askari shrine in Samarra, Jalal Talabani, the President of Iraq, was worried enough to go on television to warn how dangerous such a conflict would be. Iraq does not have a civil war, but it has the makings of one.

Iraq chaos threatens troop withdrawal (24 February 2006)
How long will coalition troops remain in Iraq?The chaos that has overtaken Iraq is now threatening hopes among the US and its allies that they might be able to start significant troop withdrawals in the coming months. Such withdrawals have always been conditional on the security situation and that situation is, to say the least, on a knife-edge following the bombing of the Shia al-Askari shrine in Samarra and the subsequent retaliations. Australian Prime Minister John Howard has already publicly expressed his concern over the effect of increased sectarian tensions on embryonic troop withdrawal plans. "There's no early prospect of all coalition forces being withdrawn, although until this latest event the signs were looking good," he told Australian radio. The foreign forces are now in a predicament - their presence adds to the violence yet they are not withdrawn for fear that the violence might get worse. They are part of the problem and not enough of the answer. I say "part of the problem" because the attack on the shrine indicates that something else is going on in Iraq beyond getting the troops out. The Sunni-led insurgents, or at least the powerful Islamist elements among them, want to turn on the Shias, their religious rivals. The departure of US troops would, of course, make this much easier. CLIP

Many Sunnis see Iran behind Iraq shrine blast (24 Feb 2006)

Mosque Outrage Also Brings Solidarity
Dahr Jamail reports on the widespread sectarian violence generated by the recent bombing of the Shia Golden Mosque in Samarra has also brought widespread demonstrations of solidarity between Sunnis and Shias across Iraq.

On the Brink in Iraq
With Iraq perched at the very precipice of an ethnic and sectarian holocaust, the utter failure of the Bush administration's policy is revealed with starkest clarity. Iraq may or may not fall into the abyss in the next few days and weeks, but what is no longer in doubt is who is to blame: If Iraq is engulfed in civil war then Americans, Iraqis and the international community must hold President Bush and Vice President Cheney responsible for the destruction of Iraq. The CIA, the State Department, members of Congress and countless Middle East experts warned Bush and Cheney - to no avail - that toppling Saddam could unleash the demons of civil war. They said so before the war, during it and in the aftermath, and each time the warnings were dismissed. CLIP

Civil war in Iraq equals monumental failure for Bush (Feb 24)
(...) "The destruction of the al-Askari shrine takes the danger of a civil war in Iraq to a new level," Bowen says. "It has produced bigger protests than the killing of humans."Pentagon professionals have long warned President Bush that if civil war erupts in Iraq the U.S. will have to admit failure in its efforts to create a stable, democratic government. As he has with most warnings from those who fight wars for a living, Bush ignored the advice."The issue hangs on the next few days. Either the gates of hell open onto a civil war or the Shi'ites will take more power with the excuse that Sunni leaders are unable to rein in increasing terrorist activity," says Hazim al-Naimi, a political science professor at Mustansiriya University. "Only the U.S. military is preventing war in some areas. In cities like Mosul, the police would be thrown out in days if the U.S. military left. There would be ethnic cleansing." While American military officials publicly follow the Bush administration's lead in painting a rosier picture than really exists in Iraq, my Pentagon sources tell me the military pros are in private revolt against the White House and say the U.S. faces a "humiliating defeat." CLIP

U.S. invasion responsible deaths of over 250,000 civilians in Iraq
New studies make the Bush administration's "liberation" argument for a 'pre-emptive' war against Iraq seem questionable. The invasion of Iraq in March 2003 by U.S.-led coalition forces has been responsible for the death of at least 150,000 civilians (not including certain of Iraq), reveals a compilation of scientific studies and corroborated eyewitness testimonies. (...) The figure of 100,000 had been based on somewhat "conservative assumptions", notes Les Roberts at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, U.S., who led the study. That estimate excludes Falluja, a hotspot for violence. If the data from this town is included, the compiled studies point to about 250,000 excess deaths since the outbreak of the U.S.-led war. Many Americans have complained that more than $200 billion U.S. tax dollars have been diverted from vitally needed public services in the United States, into apparently reckless activities. These activities are resulting in inflicted mass-casualities against totally innocent civilians, which have worsened conditions for political extremism, and ensuing "terrorism". CLIP

Veteran reporter says 3,000-4,000 Iraqis killed every month (Jan 18, 2006)
MADRID (AFP) - Between 3,000 and 4,000 Iraqis are killed every month, rendering "ridiculous" US President George W. Bush's estimate of about 30,000 civilian casualties since the start of the war, veteran British journalist Robert Fisk said Wednesday. The figures were compiled during several recent trips to the country occupied since March 2003 by US-led forces, The Independent newspaper's Beirut-based correspondent told a news conference in Madrid where he was promoting his book "The Great War for Civilisation". The casualty rate meant up to 48,000 Iraqis a year were dying in the conflict, "the figure of 30,000 plus is ridiculous", Fisk said, adding that the West did not care about Iraqi deaths. CLIP

Iraq war leaves mental scars for civilians, US troops alike (Jan 27, 2006)
(...) WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Iraq war is reaping a fierce psychological toll, exposing a mental health crisis inside Iraq, and searing hundreds of thousands of US troops with combat trauma, experts warned. Iraq's doctors and specialists, subjected to persecution under Saddam Hussein, now the target of insurgent bullets and bombs, are struggling to assess the scale of the problem, they said.Dr Sabah Sadik, a Britain-based doctor who advises Iraq's Health Ministry, said he was shocked at the dilapidation of the hospital system when he returned after the ouster of Saddam for the first time since the 1970s.Scores of doctors fled the country under Saddam, and now more are leaving despite recruitment efforts, he said."It is very difficult when doctors and intellectuals have been targeted by the terrorists," Sadik said at a news conference in Washington."It is a big dilemma because a lot of colleagues would like to leave the country."As the Saddam Hussein government deliberately neglected to keep statistics, health experts in Iraq are still trying to get to form an accurate picture of the country's mental health, Sadik said.But a wide variety of ailments can be expected in a nation stifled by decades of tyranny, foreign occupation and three years of post-Saddam violence. CLIP

Full Coverage on Iraq;_ylt=A86.I03zSQFEYs4AfBYUewgF;_ylu=X3oDMTA2ZGZwam4yBHNlYwNmYw--

Cartoon protesters defy rally ban (Feb 24)
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Thousands of Muslims defied a ban on rallies Friday in Pakistan's capital, joining protesters across the country in condemning the Prophet Muhammad cartoons printed by some Western newspapers. The demonstrations after midday prayers also gave angry clerics a platform to criticize President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and his government's close relations with the United States."America is the killer of humanity, and we will keep raising our voice against it, and its supporter (Musharraf)," said Maulana Fazal-ur Rahman, a cleric and opposition leader who led the Islamabad protest, which drew 2,000 people. He said protests would also be held on March 3, a day before the visit of U.S. President George W. Bush to Pakistan.



As Violence Ebbs, Iraqi Leaders Seek to Contain the Crisis


February 24, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 24 — With the streets of the capital and other major cities largely emptied by an extraordinary daytime curfew, imams across Iraq called today for an end to the sectarian rioting that has left more than 170 people dead since Wednesday, and political leaders held emergency meetings to contain the crisis.

The curfew and a heavy street presence by Iraqi Army soldiers appeared to have blunted much of the violence that broke out after a bomb shattered the golden dome of one of Iraq's most sacred Shiite shrines on Wednesday in Samarra. Some clashes continued, with at least 29 bodies turning up in Baghdad, though most of the Shiite militia fighters who led retaliations after the shrine attack seemed to have melted away.

But Iraqi leaders and American officials seemed acutely aware that the violence in which dozens of Sunni mosques were attacked and damaged could still push Iraq into a catastrophic civil war. And in their Friday sermons and public statements, political and clerical leaders betrayed an ominous polarization of attitudes about who was at fault in the recent violence, along with a renewed hostility to the American role in Iraq on both sides of the sectarian divide.

At an emergency meeting today, representatives of all Iraq's major political groups agreed to form an advisory committee with the participation of the American command to deal with the crisis.

"Everything that needs to be done must be done to avoid a civil war, and I think they are keenly aware of the danger," said Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador, who took part in the meeting.

Mr. Khalilzad said the American military increased its patrols in mixed Sunni-Shiite areas, in a possible sign that the American command is concerned about the ability of the Iraqi Army and police to prevent further violence after the curfew lifts. The Iraqi police whose ranks include many followers of Shiite militias largely stood by during the attacks on Sunni mosques Wednesday and Thursday.

There were some efforts at conciliation by political leaders and in the weekly Friday sermons, which American officials had viewed as a key opportunity to defuse the situation. Joint Sunni-Shiite prayer services were held at the Samarra shrine and elsewhere. Abdul Aziz al Hakim, the leader of Iraq's largest Shiite political coalition, released a statement that was read on Iraqi state television in which he forbade any attacks on Sunni mosques and said the bombers of the Samarra shrine "do not represent the Sunnis."

But Mr. Hakim also said "it was the right of the Shiites to express their anger" after the Samarra bombing, and he failed to make any sort of apology for the dozens of attacks on Sunni mosques and imams, a key demand made by Sunni Arab political leaders, who have withdrawn from talks over forming a government.

For their part, some Sunni clerics and political leaders angrily accused Shiites of provoking the attacks on Sunni mosques, and at American officials for failing to prevent them.

Overall, the day suggested a serious setback for the American effort to forge a government of national unity. Although Sunni leaders took part in the emergency meetings to deal with the crisis, talks on forming a government are held up indefinitely, and the legal requirement for the new Parliament to meet by Saturday seems almost to have been forgotten.

"Everybody seems to be imprisoned in their own sectarian or political affiliations," said Adnan Pachachi, the 82 year-old former foreign minister, who has attended all the meetings since the crisis began. "They don't seem to be able to rise above these things."

Mona Mahmoud and Thaier al Daami contributed reporting from Baghdad for this article.



Whose Bombs were they?

By Mike Whitney

02/25/06 "ICH" -- -- “We should stand hand in hand to prevent the danger of a civil war. We are facing a major conspiracy that is targeting Iraq’s unity.” Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

There’s no telling who was behind the bombing of the al-Askariya Mosque. There were no security cameras at the site and it’s doubtful that the police will be able to perform a thorough forensic investigation.

That’s too bad; the bomb-residue would probably provide clear evidence of who engineered the attack. So far, there’s little more to go on than the early reports of four men (three who were dressed in black, one in a police uniform) who overtook security guards at the mosque and placed the bombs in broad daylight.

It was a bold assault that strongly suggests the involvement of highly-trained paramilitaries conducting a well-rehearsed plan. Still, that doesn’t give us any solid proof of what groups may have been involved.

The destruction of the Samarra shrine, also known as the Golden Mosque, has unleashed a wave of retaliatory attacks against the Sunnis. More than 110 people were reported killed by the rampaging Shia. More than 90 Sunni mosques have been either destroyed or badly damaged. In Baghdad alone, 47 men have been found scattered throughout the city after being killed execution-style with a bullet to the back of the head. The chaos ends a week of increased violence following two major suicide bombings directed against Shia civilians that resulted in the deaths of 36 people.

The public outrage over the desecration of one of the country’s holiest sights has reached fever-pitch and it’s doubtful that the flimsy American-backed regime will be able to head-off a civil war.

It is difficult to imagine that the perpetrators of this heinous attack didn’t anticipate its disastrous effects. Certainly, the Sunni-led resistance does not benefit from alienating the very people it is trying to enlist in its fight against the American occupation. Accordingly, most of the prominent Sunni groups have denied involvement in the attack and dismissed it as collaboration between American and Iranian intelligence agencies.

A communiqué from “The Foreign Relations Department of the Arab Ba’ath Socialist Party” denounced the attack pointing the finger at the Interior Ministry’s Badr Brigade and American paramilitaries.

The Ba’ath statement explains:

“America is the main party responsible for the crime of attacking the tomb of Ali al-Hadi…because it is the power that occupies Iraq and has a basic interest in committing it.”

“The escalation of differences between America and Iran has found their main political arena in Iraq, because the most important group of agents of Iran is there and are able to use the blood of Iraqis and the future of Iraq to exert pressure on America. Iran has laid out a plan to embroil America in the Iraqi morass to prevent it from obstructing Iran’s nuclear plans. Particularly since America is eager to move on to completing arrangements for a withdrawal from Iraq, after signing binding agreements on oil and strategy. America believes that without the participation of “Sunni” parties in the regime those arrangements will fail. For that reason ‘cutting Iran’s claws’ has become one of the important requirements for American plans. This is what Ambassador Zalmay spoke of recently when he declared that no sectarian would take control of the Ministries of the Interior or Defense. Similarly, America has begun to publish information that it formally kept hidden regarding the crimes of the Badr Brigade and the Interior Ministry.”

Whether the communiqué is authentic is irrelevant; the point is well taken. The escalating violence may prevent Iraq from forming a power-sharing government which would greatly benefit the Shia majority and their Iranian allies. Many critics agree that what is taking place Iraq represents a larger struggle between the United States and Iran for regional domination.

This theory, however, is at odds with the response of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei following the bombing. Khamenei said, “The occupation forces and Zionism, which seeing their plans dissolve, have planned this atrocity to sew hate between Muslims and fuel divisions between Sunnis and Shiites….Do not fall into the enemy trap by attacking mosques and sacred places of your Sunni brothers….The enemy wants nothing more than weakening of the Islamis front right as Muslims with a single voice have been protesting against the continual provocations of their enemies.”

The belief that the attack was the work of American and Israeli covert-operations (Black-ops) is widespread throughout the region as well as among leftist political-analysts in the United States. Journalist Kurt Nimmo sees the bombing as a means of realizing “a plan sketched out in Oded Yinon’s “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties” (the balkanization of Arab and Muslim society and culture.) Nimmo suggests that the plan may have been carried out by “American, British or Israeli Intelligence operatives or their double-agent Arab lunatics, or crazies incited by Rumsfeld’s Proactive Preemptive Operations Group (P2OG) designed to ‘stimulate’ terrorist reaction.”

Nimmo is not alone in his judgment. Other prominent analysts including, Pepe Escobar, Ghali Hassan, AK Gupta, Dahr Jamail, and Christian Parenti all agree that the Bush administration appears to be inciting civil war as part of an exit strategy. Certainly, the Pentagon is running out of options as well as time. Numerous leaked documents have confirmed that significant numbers of troops will have to be rotated out of the theatre by summer. A strategy to foment sectarian hostilities may be the last desperate attempt to divert the nearly 100 attacks per day away from coalition troops and finalize plans to divide Iraq into more manageable statlets.

The division of Iraq has been recommended in a number of policy-documents that were prepared for the Defense Department. The Rand Corporation suggested that “Sunni, Shiite and Arab, non-Arab divides should be exploited to exploit the US policy objectives in the Muslim world.” The 2004 study titled “US Strategy in the Muslim World” was to identify key cleavages and fault-lines among sectarian, ethnic, regional, and national lines to assess how these cleavages generate challenges and opportunities for the United States.” (Abdus Sattar Ghazali; thanks Liz Burbank)

This verifies that the strategy to split up Iraq has been circulating at the top levels of government from the very beginning of the occupation. A similar report was produced by David Philip for the American Foreign Policy Council (AFPC) financed by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation a conservative think-tank with connections to the Bush administration and the American Enterprise Institute. According to Pepe Escobar:

“The plan would be ‘sold’ under the admission that the recently elected, Shi’ite dominated Jaafari government is incapable of controlling Iraq and bringing the Sunni-Arab guerillas to the negotiating table. More significantly, the plan is an exact replica of an extreme right-wing Israeli plan to balkanize Iraq—an essential part of the balkanization of the whole Middle East.”

Is the bombing of the Golden Mosque the final phase of a much broader strategy to inflame sectarian hatred and provoke civil war?

Clearly, many Sunnis, Iranians, and political analysts seem to believe so. Even the Bush administration’s own documents support the general theory that Iraq should be broken up into three separate pieces. But, is this proof that the impending civil war is the work of foreign provocateurs?

The final confirmation of Washington’s sinister plan was issued by Leslie Gelb, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, in a New York Times editorial on 11-25-03. The CFR is the ideological headquarters for America’s imperial interventions providing the meager rationale that papers-over the massive bloodletting that inevitably follow. Gelb stated:

“For decades, the United States has worshipped at the altar of a unified Iraqi state. Allowing all three communities within that false state to emerge at least as self-governing regions would be both difficult and dangerous. Washington would have to be very hard-headed and hard-hearted, to engineer this breakup. But such a course is manageable, even necessary, because it would allow us to find Iraq’s future in its denied but natural past.”

There you have it; the United States is only pursuing this genocidal policy for ‘Iraq’s own good’. We should remember Gelb’s statesman-like pronouncements in the years to come as Iraq slips further into the morass of social-disintegration and unfathomable human suffering.



Younger Clerics Showing Power in Iraq's Unrest


February 26, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 25 — American officials have been repeatedly stunned and frequently thwarted in the past three years by the extraordinary power of Muslim clerics over Iraqi society. But in the sectarian violence of the past few days, that power has taken an ominous turn, as rival hard-line Shiite clerical factions have pushed each other toward more militant and anti-American stances, Iraqi and Western officials say.

Even Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the paramount Shiite cleric to whom the Americans have often looked for moderation, appears to have been outflanked by younger and more aggressive figures.

After a bomb exploded in Samarra at one of Iraq's most sacred Shiite shrines on Wednesday, many young Shiites ignored his pleas for calm, instead heeding more extreme calls and attacking Sunni mosques and killing Sunni civilians, even imams, in a crisis that has threatened to provoke open civil war.

On Saturday, Iraqi political leaders from across the spectrum joined with Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari in a televised show of unity to try to quell the violence. President Bush telephoned several leaders to urge them to return to talks. [Page 10.]

Earlier, as the critical moment of Friday Prayer approached, American officials and their allies were left almost helpless, hoping that Iraq's imams would step up to calm the crisis. But that hope gave way to the realization that the clerics could do as much harm as good, and for the first time since the toppling of Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi authorities imposed a daytime curfew to keep people from attending the sermons.

"Sectarian divisions are not new, and sectarian violence is not new," said a Western diplomat in Baghdad who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to be seen as interfering. "What is different this time is that the Shiites, in a sign that their patience is limited, reacted violently in a number of places."

The violence and new militancy has come in part from a competition among Shiite factions to be seen as the protectors of the Shiite masses. The main struggle has been between the leading factions, both backed by Iran, and their spiritual leaders.

Many of the retaliatory attacks after the bombing were led by Mahdi Army militiamen loyal to Moktada al-Sadr, the Shiite cleric whose anti-American crusades have turned him into a rising political power.

His main rival, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a cleric and the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, or Sciri, defended the right of Shiites to respond to the bombing. He has shown a new willingness to publicly attack the American role in Iraq, once the preserve of Mr. Sadr, and he also commands a powerful militia, the Badr Organization.


Given all this, and amid the growing sectarian bloodshed, the voices of religious moderates like Ayatollah Sistani are increasingly falling on deaf ears. Shiite tribes "have put a lot of pressure on Sistani in the last year to go for revenge," said Mr. Hiltermann of the Crisis Group. "People are just not listening anymore in the face of these sick outrages."



Also from:

War's stunning price tag

By Linda Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz

January 17, 2006

LAST WEEK, at the annual meeting of the American Economic Assn., we presented a new estimate for the likely cost of the war in Iraq. We suggested that the final bill will be much higher than previously reckoned — between $1 trillion and $2 trillion, depending primarily on how much longer our troops stay. Putting that into perspective, the highest-grossing movie of all time, "Titanic," earned $1.8 billion worldwide — about half the cost the U.S. incurs in Iraq every week.

Like the iceberg that hit the Titanic, the full costs of the war are still largely hidden below the surface. Our calculations include not just the money for combat operations but also the costs the government will have to pay for years to come. These include lifetime healthcare and disability benefits for returning veterans and special round-the-clock medical attention for many of the 16,300 Americans who already have been seriously wounded. We also count the increased cost of replacing military hardware because the war is using up equipment at three to five times the peacetime rate. In addition, the military must pay large reenlistment bonuses and offer higher benefits to reenlist reluctant soldiers. On top of this, because we finance the war by borrowing more money (mostly from abroad), there is a rising interest cost on the extra debt.

Our study also goes beyond the budget of the federal government to estimate the war's cost to the economy and our society. It includes, for instance, the true economic costs of injury and death. For example, if an individual is killed in an auto or work-related accident, his family will typically receive compensation for lost earnings. Standard government estimates of the lifetime economic cost of a death are about $6 million. But the military pays out far less — about $500,000. Another cost to the economy comes from the fact that 40% of our troops are taken from the National Guard and Reserve units. These troops often earn lower wages than in their civilian jobs. Finally, there are macro-economic costs such as the effect of higher oil prices — partly a result of the instability in Iraq.

We conclude that the economy would have been much stronger if we had invested the money in the United States instead of in Iraq.

Spending up to $2 trillion should make us ask some questions. First, these figures are far higher than what the administration predicted before the war. At that time, White House economic advisor Lawrence Lindsey was effectively fired for suggesting that the war might cost up to $200 billion, rather than the $60 billion claimed by the president's budget office. Why were the costs so vastly underestimated? Elsewhere in the government, it is standard practice to engage in an elaborate cost-benefit analysis for major projects. The war in Iraq was a war of choice, an immense "project," and yet it now appears that there was virtually no analysis of the likely costs of a prolonged occupation.

Could we have fought the war in ways that would have protected our troops better and cost the country less? A Pentagon study apparently concludes that better body armor would have prevented many deaths and injuries. Penny-pinching in such matters during the rush to war has led to steep long-run costs for the nation and, tragically, for the individuals involved.

Even more fundamentally, there is the question of whether we needed to spend the money at all. Thinking back to the months before the war, there were few reasons to invade quickly, and many to go slow. The Bush policy of threatened force had pressured Iraq into allowing the U.N. inspectors back into the country. The inspectors said they required a few months to complete their work. Several of our closest allies, including France and Germany, were urging the U.S. to await the outcome of the inspections. There were, as we now know, conflicting intelligence reports.

Had we waited, the value of the information we would have learned from the inspectors would arguably have saved the nation at least $1 trillion — enough money to fix Social Security for the next 75 years twice over.


LINDA BILMES, a former assistant secretary of Commerce, teaches public finance at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. JOSEPH STIGLITZ is a professor at Columbia University. He won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2001.


See also:

Fudging The Numbers (January 19, 2006)
(...) It is an extreme oddity of our budget process that military spending is computed in a way that excludes spending on the wars we are currently fighting. In its latest “Budget and Economic Outlook” projection for the next 10 years, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shows what happens when you factor those costs in. They assume the scenario the Defense Department adheres to most often: troop levels in Iraq remaining steady at about 138,000 through the coming year and then declining to about 50,000 for the foreseeable future. If the costs of that deployment are added to the regular military budget, according to the CBO, from 2006 to 2015 the total deficit will rise from $855 billion to $1.4 trillion. And at the end of that period, our public debt will be absorbing a whopping 32 percent of our GDP. That’s like bringing home a $40,000 salary, and spending a third of it paying the interest on your credit card. Or take the analysis by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center on Budget and Strategic Assessments (CSBA). They recently examined the gap between the administration’s budget estimates of military spending included in last year’s budget, and CBO’s projections, including war spending and likely cost growth in weapons and other military programs. They also add in the interest payments on the military portion of the debt. Without tax increases or cuts in domestic programs to offset these costs, CBSA’s Steve Kosiak says, the administration’s defense plans will leave us $920 billion deeper in the hole than the administration is willing to admit. Add in the Iraq war, in other words, and leave the administration’s military spending plans in place, and in 10 years we’ll be staring at a deficit of $5.3 trillion. CLIP



Long path to Iraq's sectarian split

By David Gritten

25 February 2006

For more 1,000 years, Iraq has served as a battleground for many of the events that have defined the schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims.

In more recent decades, the political and economic dominance of Iraq's minority Sunni Arabs and their persecution of the country's Shia majority have only served to stoke sectarian tensions.

The US-led invasion in 2003, in which the nominally secular Baath government of Saddam Hussein was overthrown, finally gave Iraq's Shias an opportunity to seek redress and end the imbalance of power.

Though sectarian tension has undoubtedly been a major catalyst of the violence that has plagued Iraq since the invasion, many argue that blaming sectarianism alone overstates the case.

Sunnis and Shias differ in doctrine, ritual, law, theology and religious organisation. It is the largest and oldest division in the history of Islam.

But the origins of the split lie in a dispute over who should have succeeded the Prophet Muhammad as leader of the Muslim community when he died in 632.

One group of Muslims elected Abu Bakr as the next caliph (leader) of the community, but another group believed the prophet's son-in-law, Ali, was the rightful successor.

Though Ali eventually became the fourth caliph, his legitimacy was disputed and he was murdered in 661.

The Shiat Ali ("Party of Ali") refused to recognise the legitimacy of his chief opponent and successor, Muawiya.

Ali's sons Hassan and Hussein continued to oppose Muawiya's successor and fighting between the two sides resulted. Hassan was poisoned in 669 and Hussein was killed in battle near Karbala in 680.

Ali, Hassan and Hussein became the first of the 12 imams who Shia Muslims believe are the divinely-appointed leaders of the Muslim community.

The leadership by imams continued until 878, when the 12th Imam, Mohammed al-Mahdi, is said to have disappeared from a cave below a mosque in Samarra.

Not accepting that he died, Shias still await his return more than 1,100 years later. The Hidden Imam's arrival will, they believe, reverse their fortunes and herald the reign of divine justice.

Sunnis, as they became known, reject the principle of leadership by imams, and instead believe in the primacy of the Sunna - what the Prophet Muhammad said, did, agreed to or condemned.

Sunnis are the majority sect in the Muslim world, but Shias today form as much as 60% of Iraq's population, whereas Sunnis make up 35%, split between ethnic Arabs and Kurds.

This demographic dominance has not, however, been translated into economic and political power. Instead, Sunni Arabs have traditionally formed Iraq's elite.

The ascendancy of Iraq's Sunni community began under the Sunni Ottoman Turks, whose empire ruled the Middle East for nearly 400 years. Ottoman defeat in World War I did not end Sunni dominance.

In the 1920 Mandate of Iraq, the British worked to check the Shia majority's power by keeping Sunni Arabs in senior positions in government and the armed forces.

The Sunni officers in the army became increasingly politicised and eventually overthrew the British-appointed monarchy in 1958.

The coup by the secular Arab Socialist Baath Party five years later did not redress the inequalities, as the Sunni Arab elite were unaffected.

Increasingly disenfranchised and concerned by the growth of secular parties supported by the government, Shias mobilised around prominent clerics and began to campaign for a return to Islamic principles in government and social justice.

In 1979, the Islamic Revolution in Iran - where Shias constitute 89% of the population - galvanised Shia opposition to the Baath Party and made Saddam Hussein, now president, increasingly fearful of a similar revolution in Iraq.

Who are the Iraqi Shia?

When Shia political activists attempted to assassinate the deputy prime minister in 1980, Saddam responded by executing Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir Sadr, the uncle of radical cleric Moqtada Sadr, the first time so senior a cleric had been killed.

When Iraq declared war on its predominantly Shia neighbour, Iran, Saddam's government intensified its brutal crackdown.

Thousands of Shia were expelled to Iran or imprisoned, tortured and killed. Religious practices were restricted and pilgrimages to holy shrines were curtailed.

In 1991, after the Gulf War, the US President George Bush encouraged Iraqis to rise up against their leader.

Lacking US support, the massive southern rebellion was swiftly and brutally suppressed.

After Saddam was overthrown in 2003, the Sunni Arab supremacy was suddenly wiped out.

The US-led Coalition Provisional Authority's programme of de-Baathification saw large parts of the Sunni elite, which had been nurtured by Saddam, ejected.

They were replaced by Shia leaders who could claim legitimately that they represented the majority of Iraq's population.

Sunni Arabs resented the appointments and, feeling increasingly marginalised, boycotted the political process and began to support militants opposing the occupation.

Though attacks were initially aimed at foreign troops, Sunni extremist groups, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's al-Qaeda in Iraq, began to advocate targeting the now dominant Shia community.

The view, held by some Sunnis, that Shia Islam is a heterodox sect, fuelled this sectarian killing. In the eyes of some extremists it was an extenuation of ancient hatred and rivalries.

Insurgents have attacked Shia Islam's most important shrines at Karbala, Najaf and Samarra and killed many Shia politicians, clerics, soldiers, police and civilians.

Such attacks have clearly raised sectarian tension to a new level, but they are not the only cause of the violence that has plagued Iraq.

Ethnic conflict and tribalism have contributed to the country's instability in recent decades.

Political groups have also played an important role, with Iraqis subscribing to a broad spectrum of ideologies and affiliations, many of which have nothing to do with religion.

Many Iraqis would argue that their society, in particular in the capital Baghdad, is in fact largely cosmopolitan and that class and social status are of greater significance than religion.



Five Days of Violence by Nigerian Christians and Muslims Kill 150

By Christian Allen Purefoy

The Independent UK - 24 February 2006

Clashes between Nigeria's Muslim and Christian communities have left nearly 150 people dead and thousands displaced after five days of violence sparked originally by the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohamed.

In the southern city of Onitsha, where the worst of the killing took place, Christians yesterday burnt the corpses of their victims and defaced mosques in revenge for attacks on Christians in the north of the country earlier this week.

As several bodies burnt on pyres of flaming tires and the stench of charred flesh filled the air, police began to clear away the dead lying at the sides of Onitsha's dirt roads.

"Security forces were collecting dead bodies of those killed in the two days of mayhem," said Emeka Umeh, head of the Civil Liberties Organization in the city.

Last Saturday, violence broke out in Maiduguri, northern Nigeria, leaving at least 15 Christians dead and 11 churches in flames. The riots were led by Muslims furious at the cartoons, published in Danish and other European newspapers. More than 100 people were arrested and the army was called in to help the police. In revenge, on Tuesday morning, riots broke out against the Muslim population in the Christian city of Onitsha.

"The rioters were armed with machetes, daggers, clubs, knives and other metal objects," Mr. Umeh added.

With their mosques and businesses burnt, more than 3,000 Muslim men, women and children have overwhelmed the local barracks, police stations and mosques seeking protection. The Red Cross reports more than 100 people dead in Onitsha "so far", and says it has treated about 70 injured. "They were attacked by mobs ... some have bruises, some have dislocations," said Anne Asiegbu, the organization’s area officer.

The Anambra state governor, Chris Ngige, has deployed 2,000 policemen on the streets and appealed for calm.

Nigerian analysts believe much of the violence is fuelled by political tensions concerning national elections in 2007. "This type of protest has a political undertone," said Mr. Umeh.

The country is rife with rumor that President Olusegun Obasanjo may try to change the constitution and seek a third term, while others seek to use violence to further their political influence and position in the forthcoming elections. "Speculation that President Obasanjo will try to change the constitution so he can seek a third term is raising political tension and if proven true, threatens to unleash major turmoil and conflict," John Negroponte, the US intelligence chief, said this month.

"Such chaos in Nigeria could lead to disruption of oil supply, secessionist moves by regional governments and instability elsewhere in Africa," he added.

Nigeria's population of 120 million is split roughly in half - the northern Hausa are predominantly Muslim, and the southern Yoruba and Ibgo ethnic groups are mostly Christian. In 1999, Sharia law was introduced in many of the northern states, aggravating tensions between Muslims and Christians.

In September 2001, 915 people died in Jos after news of al-Qa'ida's attacks on America. More than 200 people were killed in 2002, following outrage when Nigeria tried to host the Miss World beauty contest.

Some in Onitsha have set deadlines for the Hausa community to leave. The city's deputy police commissioner, Haz Iwendi, said: "The various state governors are meeting to ensure that this does not snowball."

More on Nigeria at;_ylt=A86.I1dwYgFEFh4BJBRxy14A;_ylu=X3oDMTBiMW04NW9mBHNlYwMlJVRPUCUl



Annan joins with Islamic, Arab and other leaders to urge restraint over offensive cartoons

25 February 2006 – Reacting to the furor spawned by the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed widely considered to be offensive, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Doha, Qatar, today joined his voice with key Arab and Muslim leaders to urge restraint and to pledge action to foster tolerance.

Mr. Annan, along with the leaders of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the League of Arab States as well as the foreign ministers of Qatar, Spain and Turkey, warned that the present climate “threatens to sow deep discord between communities, societies and countries.”

They voiced deep regret at the offence given by the caricatures, as well as the loss of life and damage to property in several countries.

While reaffirming the universal right to freedom of expression, they appealed to all to exercise that right responsibly, and not to use it as a pretext for inciting hatred or insulting the deeply held belief of any community.

The statement also reaffirmed the right to peaceful protest, “especially where deep hurt has been caused, and we acknowledge that Muslims do indeed feel deep hurt over the caricatures.” The leaders hailed the fact that the vast majority of the protesters and demonstrators throughout the world expressed their indignation in an orderly and peaceful manner.

“We urge everyone to resist provocation, overreaction and violence, and turn to dialogue,” the statement said. “Without dialogue we cannot hope to appeal to reason, to heal resentment or overcome mistrust.”

The statement emphasized that all rights should be exercised responsibly. “Neither media, publications, nor places of worship should be used for incitement, or to spread hatred.”

Calling for a tolerant international society which recognizes both rights and responsibilities, the leaders emphasized that this will require “respect for the right of all people to freedom of worship, and of opinion and expression, and appreciation of diversity as an asset, not a threat.”

The statement was issued on the eve of a meeting in Doha of the High Level Group of the Alliance of Civilizations, a UN initiative set up to bridge the gap between Islam and other cultures. It looked forward to the Alliance's proposals for encouraging broader and deeper mutual respect and understanding.

“We intend, as a group, to follow up this joint statement, and commit ourselves to formulate a joint strategy and agreed measures that will contribute to overcome the current crisis and to prevent its recurrence, and promote tolerance and mutual respect between all religions and communities, in Europe and elsewhere,” the statement said, adding that the Secretary-General would bring the text to the attention of the General Assembly, Security Council and EU.

After reading the communiqué to reporters, Mr. Annan said the initiative and the meeting of the Alliance “should be seen as part of a wider effort to try to create dialogue, improve respect among different cultures, beliefs and civilizations.”

He anticipated that the Alliance would be putting forward “concrete suggestions as to how we can educate, as to how we can bring people together and as to how groups develop mutual respect and avoid any attempts to humiliate each other.”

The Secretary-General also noted that all people have the power to effect change. “Obviously, we need to hear the other voices. We need to hear the other voice and the mainstream voice of Islam and the Christians will have to speak out. We all need to speak up and reach out to each other.”

Today's statement in Doha follows one issued earlier this month by the UN, the EU and the OIC urging restraint in response to the cartoon controversy.

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