– A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog: Occasional Musings –

‘Voters in India are choosing their next government, in what is the world’s biggest election, where more than eight hundred million people are eligible to vote.Al Jazeera reporters are on the ground in several key places.Sohail Rahman reports from New Delhi, Nidhi Dutt is in Muzaffarnagar, and Faiz Jamil is in Gurgaon (10 April 2014)’.

The leader of the BJP Narendra Modi is a man with a frightening reputation: in 2002, when he was Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat it is alleged that he initiated and encouraged violence against Muslims, thereby leading to the deaths of about 2,000 people . . . earning him the nickname the Butcher of Gujarat. And now Modi is on the verge of becoming India’s next Prime Minister, as he seems much favoured by India’s business class. As reported by Sangeetha Kandavel and Sanjay Vijayakumar: “Murugappa Group Chairman A Vellayan chastised the Congress-led [United Progressive Alliance] and all but supported BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in a rare instance of political candour from a conservative business family. In an exclusive interview . . . the chairman of the Rs 22,500-crore group . . . said the UPA government had announced many well-intentioned policies but did not implement them”.[1] In other words, it seems like a foregone conclusion that India will once again be ruled by the Hindu Nationalists or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the foreseeable future.

 

[1] Sangeetha Kandavel and Sanjay Vijayakumar, “Narendra Modi government would be positive for the economy, UPA a disaster: Murugappa Group chief A Vellayan” ET (10 April 2014). http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/news-by-company/corporate-trends/narendra-modi-government-would-be-positive-for-the-economy-upa-a-disaster-murugappa-group-chief-a-vellayan/articleshow/33521949.cms.

‘Sen. Rand Paul is accusing former Vice-President Dick Cheney of advocating for invading Iraq in 2003 in order to make profits off of the country’s oil. Pushing back indirectly, the former Halliburton CEO said he is concerned with the growing trend of isolationism in the Republican Party, a reference to Paul. Cheney has often been called the “architect” of the Iraq War, and routinely faces criticism from the left as well as Libertarians on the right over the US’ involvement in the country. RT’s Lindsay France has a timeline of the tit for tat between these two influential Republicans (7 April 2014)’.

Turns out, crackpots sometimes do make sense . . . or, even Rand Paul can state the obvious . . . Last year the International Business Times‘ Angelo Young reported that the “accounting of the financial cost of the nearly decade-long Iraq War will go on for years, but a recent analysis has shed light on the companies that made money off the war by providing support services as the privatization of what were former U.S. military operations rose to unprecedented levels. Private or publicly listed firms received at least $138 billion of U.S. taxpayer money for government contracts for services that included providing private security, building infrastructure and feeding the troops. Ten contractors received 52 percent of the funds, according to an analysis by the Financial Times that was published [on 19 March 2013]. The No. 1 recipient? Houston-based energy-focused engineering and construction firm KBR, Inc. (NYSE:KBR), which was spun off from its parent, oilfield services provider Halliburton Co. (NYSE:HAL), in 2007. The company was given $39.5 billion in Iraq-related contracts over the past decade, with many of the deals given without any bidding from competing firms, such as a $568-million contract renewal in 2010 to provide housing, meals, water and bathroom services to soldiers, a deal that led to a Justice Department lawsuit over alleged kickbacks, as reported by Bloomberg. Who were Nos. 2 and 3? Agility Logistics (KSE:AGLTY) of Kuwait and the state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp. Together, these firms garnered $13.5 billion of U.S. contracts. As private enterprise entered the war zone at unprecedented levels, the amount of corruption ballooned, even if most contractors performed their duties as expected. According to the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the level of corruption by defense contractors may be as high as $60 billion. Disciplined soldiers that would traditionally do many of the tasks are commissioned by private and publicly listed companies. Even without the graft, the costs of paying for these services are higher than paying government employees or soldiers to do them because of the profit motive involved. No-bid contracting – when companies get to name their price with no competing bid – didn’t lower legitimate expenses. (Despite promises by President Barack Obama to reel in this habit, the trend toward granting favored companies federal contracts without considering competing bids continued to grow, by 9 percent [in 2012], according to the Washington Post.). Even though the military has largely pulled out of Iraq, private contractors remain on the ground and continue to reap U.S. government contracts. For example, the U.S. State Department estimates that taxpayers will dole out $3 billion to private guards for the government’s sprawling embassy in Baghdad. The costs of paying private and publicly listed war profiteers seem miniscule in light of the total bill for the war. [In early March 2013], the Costs of War Project by the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University said the war in Iraq cost $1.7 trillion dollars, not including the $490 billion in immediate benefits owed to veterans of the war and the lifetime benefits that will be owed to them or their next of kin”.[1] Cheney worked for Halliburton during a five-year period, from 1995 onwards, and when he quit the post to join the Bush administration, this real-life Darth Vader “received $12.5m in salary. He also held $39m-worth of stock options when he quit the company in 2000″, as worded by the Guardian‘s Pratap Chatterjee in 2011.[2] Chatterjee adds gleefully that “Halliburton’s board of directors voted to award [Cheney] early retirement when he quit his job, even though he was too young to qualify under his contract. That flexibility enabled him to leave with a retirement package, including stock and options, worth millions more than if he had simply resigned. Plus, Halliburton paid out Cheney an extra $1m during the time he served as vice-president”.[3] And what did he do with all that loot, he started by “selling 100,000 Halliburton shares in May 2000, for an immediate profit of $3m. In 2005, Cheney exercised most of what remained of his Halliburton stock options for a $6.9m profit, all of which he donated to charity. (Most of it was donated to the Richard B Cheney Cardiac Institute at George Washington University)” adds Chatterjee.[4]

Now, after all is said and done, Rand Paul appears to notice Cheney’s ill-made gains . . .In fact, now-Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) made the above-quoted remarks as long ago as 2009. Paul said the following: “He’s being interviewed [in 1995], I think, by the American Enterprise Institute, and he says it would be a disaster [to enter Iraq], it would be vastly expensive, it would be civil war, we’d have no exit strategy. He goes on and on for five minutes — Dick Cheney saying it would be a bad idea. And that’s why the first Bush didn’t go into Baghdad. Dick Cheney then goes to work for Halliburton. Makes hundreds of millions of dollars — their CEO. Next thing you know, he’s back in government, it’s a good idea to go into Iraq”.[5] In Cheney’s defense, John Bolton, who served as Bush 43’s ambassador to the United Nations, released this statement: “Senator Paul should repudiate his remarks and apologize to Vice President Cheney”.[6] In all fairness, Cheney appears to have acted in good faith when the Bush-Cheney Administration awarded a no-bid contract to KBR, Inc., as he only received an “extra $1m” from the parent company Halliburton during his tenure at the helm of the U.S. ship of state . . .

 

[1] Angelo Young , “Cheney’s Halliburton Made $39.5 Billion on Iraq War” International Business Times (20 March 2013). http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/308-12/16561-focus-cheneys-halliburton-made-395-billion-on-iraq-war.

[2] Pratap Chatterjee, “Dick Cheney’s Halliburton: a corporate case study” The Guardian (08 June 2011). http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jun/08/dick-cheney-halliburton-supreme-court.

[3] Pratap Chatterjee, “Dick Cheney’s Halliburton: a corporate case study”.

[4] Pratap Chatterjee, “Dick Cheney’s Halliburton: a corporate case study”.

[5] Jennifer Rubin, “Rand Paul’s unwelcome 2009 accusations about Dick Cheney” The Washington Post (07 April 2014). http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2014/04/07/rand-pauls-unwelcome-2009-accusations-about-dick-cheney/.

[6] Jennifer Rubin, “Rand Paul’s unwelcome 2009 accusations about Dick Cheney”.

March 26, 2014. Obama highlights Putin threat to EU during keynote speech in Brussels. President Obama delivers an address that touch upon the U.S.-European relations amid the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. U.S. President Barack Obama highlights Russian tensions during keynote speech in Brussels. Obama urges greater NATO presence in states bordering Russia.

(LATimes) BRUSSELS — President Obama is urging European and North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders to bolster the military alliance’s presence in countries in Eastern and Central Europe near Russia, part of an effort to ward off further Russian aggression in the wake of its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Speaking after a meeting with European Union leaders, Obama said he has suggested that European leaders review and update their “contingency plans” at an April meeting. He said the alliance needs to “do more to ensure that a regular NATO presence among some of these states that may feel vulnerable is executed.” Obama’s made the remarks before meeting with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at the midpoint of his European trip this week. The president’s visit has been dominated by the crisis in Ukraine, and by the attempt to craft a unified U.S.-European strategy to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin from another land grab in the former Soviet republic. The president has ruled out U.S. military involvement in the dispute, noting that Ukraine is not a NATO member and not covered under the treaty. Still, he has had to reassure other NATO members in Eastern and Central Europe that NATO stands ready and prepared. The White House said Obama would push NATO to step up its efforts with more visible training and exercises in the region, as well as initiating the review of defense plans and improving the readiness of the NATO Response Force. On Wednesday, Obama made an appeal to unnamed member countries that have reduced defense spending in tight economic times, taking a toll on the 55-year-old alliance. “If we’ve got collective defense, it means that everybody’s got to chip in. And I have had some concerns about a diminished level of defense spending among some of our partners in NATO; not all, but many. The trend lines have been going down,” Obama said. “The situation in Ukraine reminds us that our freedom isn’t free and we’ve got to be willing to pay for the assets, the personnel, the training that’s required to make sure that we have a credible NATO force and an effective deterrent force.”

‘The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham have publicly crucified a man in Raqqa, Syria, for “purposefully killing a Muslim to take his money”. Before the crucifixion ISIS shot the man in the head from point blank range, the execution being just the latest extreme act of violence carried out by the group as they implement their fundamentalist laws (24 March 2014)’.

‘Afyonkarahisar’ın Değirmenayvalı kasabasında CHP’den Belediye Başkanlığı’na adaylığını koyan Ummahan Özpınar, altı dil bilen, cemaatin içinden yetişmiş bir hafız. BBC Türkçe’den Çağıl Kasapoğlu, Özpınar’la CHP-cemaat ilişkisini, projelerini konuştu (24 Mart 2014)’.

Mahmut Efendi Cemaati” Mahmud Efendi Hazretleri insanları sadece sözüyle değil, hâliyle de ilme ve ibadete teşvik etmiş, başladığı hiçbir ibadeti bırakmamış ve istikametiyle görenleri gayrete getirmiştir. Farz namazların evvel ve âhirindeki sünnet namazların hâricinde teheccüd, işrak, kuşluk, evvâbîn, tahiyyetü’l-mescid ve abdest şükür namazı gibi nevâfili hiç terk etmemiş hatta bir defasında “Kuşluk namazını terk edeceğine Mahmud ölsün daha iyi” buyurmuştur. Pazartesi-perşembe orucunu, ramazanın son on günü îtikâfı terk ettiği görülmemiştir. Hadîs-i şeriflerde zikrolunan nâfile namaz, oruç ve zikir gibi ibadetlere devam etmiş, Müslümanları da teşvik etmiştir.  Üstad Hazretleri’nin unutulmuş sünnetleri diriltmesi, sünnetlerden mâadâ edeplere bile farz gibi riayet etmesi Müslümanlar tarafından sevilip takdir edilmesine vesile olmuştur. Türkiye’de “Takva” denilince, “Sünnet-i seniyyeye ittibâ” denilince akla gelen ilk isim olması bu dikkatinin netîcesidir. Bir ara cemaatinin “Mahmudçular” ismiyle zikredildiğini duyduğunda çok üzülmüş ve cuma hutbesinde şunları söylemiştir: “Mahmudçular diyorlar. Allâh aşkına! Ben yeni bir din mi îcad ettim?! Rasûlüllâh (Sallâllâhu Aleyhi ve Sellem)in günlük hayatta tatbik edilen dört bin küsur sünneti vardır, dördünü terk ettiğimi gören arkamda namaz kılmasın.” . . . Mahmud Efendi Hazretleri şer-i şerîfi bütün olarak gördüğü için sadece ilimle meşgul olup ibadette, zikrullâhın medresesi mesâbesinde olan tarîkat vazîfelerinde, dîni tebliğ etmekte ve emr-i bi’l-mâruf nehy-i ani’l-münker yapmakta gevşeklik gösterilmesini asla tasvip etmezdi. Bu mevzû ile alâkalı sarf ettiği şu sözleri zikretmek O’nun yolunun bir nebze olsun anlaşılmasına yardımcı olacaktır. “Yatmadan evvel biraz ders (tarîkat virdi) ile meşgul olalım. Teheccüd namazından sonra devam edelim. İşrak vakti bitirelim. Ondan sonraki bütün vakitlerimizi ilme harcayacağız.”  “Zikrullah, Efendimiz (Sallâllâhu Aleyhi ve Sellem)e en büyük ittibâdır. Rasûlüllâh (Sallâllâhu Aleyhi ve Sellem) zikirsiz durmazdı. ‘Rasulullah (Sallâllâhu Aleyhi ve Sellem) bana zikri emretti ben de zikrediyorum’ demeli ve sabah akşam durmadan Allâh-u Teâlâ’yı zikretmeli.” Emr-i bi’l-mâruf ve nehy-i ani’l-münker yapılması gerektiğini beyan ederken şöyle derdi: “İstanbul’un bütün evleri medrese olsa emr-i bi’l-mâruf ve nehy-i ani’l-münker olmasa bir değer ifade etmez. Allah aşkına acıyın bu insanlara. Sel gibi cehenneme akıyorlar.” Üstadı Ali Haydar Efendi’den şu sözü çokça naklederdi: “Dîn-i Mübîn-i İslam’ın devam ve bekası emr-i bi’l-maruf ve nehy-i ani’l-münkerin devam ve bekasına, Dîn-i Mübîn-i İslam’ın inkırâzı (yıkılması) ise emr-i bi’l-mâruf ve nehy-i ani’l-münkerin terkine bağlıdır”.[1]


[1]“MAHMUD EFENDİ KS CEMAATİ” facebook. https://www.facebook.com/mahmudefendi.cemaati.

As a reminder, I would like to quote the Guardian‘s Rory Carroll, who earlier this month reported from Los Angeles that an “American anchor for the Kremlin-funded news channel RT has quit on air and accused the network of “whitewashing” Moscow’s military intervention in Crimea. Liz Wahl, a Washington-based correspondent for RT-America, part of the network formerly known as Russia Today, told viewers on Wednesday she was resigning because of its coverage of President Vladimir Putin’s actions in the Ukrainian region. Veering off script, Wahl said: “I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of Putin. I’m proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth, and that is why, after this newscast, I’m resigning.” As the daughter of a military veteran and the wife of a military base physician the network’s coverage of a potentially explosive crisis presented ethical and moral dilemmas, she said. Wahl cited another RT host, Abby Martin, who made headlines on Tuesday [, 4 March] when she declared: “Russian intervention in the Crimea is wrong.” In a tweet she later called Martin “my girl” and commended her for going “spectacularly off-message”. Wahl, a self-described “Filipina-Hungarian-American”, also alluded to Moscow’s bloody intervention in Hungary in 1956. “Just spoke to grandparents who came to US as refugees escaping Soviets during Hungarian revolution. Amazing to hear amid new Cold War fears,” she tweeted”.[1]

And now that the dust has somewhat settled, ‘RT’s Sam Sacks reports on . . . new developments . . . [in the case surrounding] ‘Liz Wahl’s [spectacular] on-air resignation from RT gained her praise across the mainstream media, but there are now questions being raised in a piece by Truthdig.com over her resignation. Alleging this a part of a neocon plan by the Foreign Policy Initiative and James Kirchick to demean Russia and discredit RT, the piece connects the dots between the affiliations that question Kirchick’s and others impartiality’.

On its dedicated website, the Foreign Policy Initiative states that the “United States–and its democratic allies–face many foreign policy challenges. They come from rising and resurgent powers, including China and Russia. They come from other autocracies that violate the rights of their citizens. They come from rogue states that work with each other in ways inimical to our interests and principles, and that sponsor terrorism and pursue weapons of mass destruction. They come from Al Qaeda and its affiliates who continue to plot attacks against the United States and our allies. They come from failed states that serve as havens for terrorists and criminals and spread instability to their neighbors. The United States faces these challenges while engaged in military operations across the globe, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. The sacrifice of American lives and significant economic expenditure in these conflicts has led to warnings of U.S. strategic overreach, and calls for American retrenchment. There are those who hope we can just return to normalcy–to pre-9/11 levels of defense spending and pre-9/11 tactics. They argue for a retreat from America’s global commitments and a renewed focus on problems at home, an understandable if mistaken response to these difficult economic times. In fact, strategic overreach is not the problem and retrenchment is not the solution. The United States cannot afford to turn its back on its international commitments and allies–the allies that helped us defeat fascism and communism in the 20th century, and the alliances we have forged more recently, including with the newly liberated citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our economic difficulties will not be solved by retreat from the international arena. They will be made worse”.[2]

RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan came out and wrote this in the aftermath of the Liz Wahl debacle: “These days it takes a lot of courage to work for RT. Never before have I seen RT and its journalists bullied like this. See for yourselves what they did to poor Abby. First, she openly voiced disagreement with Russia’s stance on air – and was virtually made an American hero. But then Abby reminded everyone how much she disagrees with America’s stance as well, adding she takes pride in working at RT, where she is free to express her views. Less than an hour passed before Abby had her name dragged through something I have difficulty finding a decent name for this late at night. The US mainstream media even went as far as claiming we had orchestrated the whole thing as a publicity move. They labelled Abby a conspiracy theorist, bringing to light her past as an activist. In less than 24 hours, they first sang her praises and then excoriated her. All of this in front of her colleagues, including Liz Wahl. How do you think they felt watching that? . . . This is all typical of a media war. We’re not the first and we will not be the last to go through this. During the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera staff in Lebanon made headlines by resigning en masse. Their Egyptian colleagues followed suit. Over twenty journalists resigned citing disagreement with the channel’s editorial line. That this happened without any pressure from the world mass media was due to the fact that, throughout the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera was completely in tune with the global mainstream. So no one sought to criticize the channel, on the contrary, everyone praised its coverage. A couple of minutes after Liz made her statement, we found all the major news media in the world – as our exhausted spokeswoman put it, “CNN, NYT, pretty much everyone” – glowing with schadenfreude, as they lined up for official feedback from RT. This included those who had ignored the news of the Ashton-Paet phone leak revelation, as if it didn’t happen. A rival media anchor’s resignation is certainly much more newsworthy and more relevant to the Ukraine crisis than two European leaders saying opposition henchmen may have been killing people”.[3]


[1 Rory Caroll, “Russia Today news anchor Liz Wahl resigns live on air over Ukraine crisis” The Guardian (06 March 2014). http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/06/russia-today-anchor-liz-wahl-resigns-on-air-ukraine.

[2 “Mission Statement” The Foreign Policy Initiative. http://www.foreignpolicyi.org/about.

[3 Margarita Simonyan, “About Abby Martin, Liz Wahl and media wars” RT (06 March 2014). http://rt.com/op-edge/about-liz-wahl-media-wars-126/.

‘Afghanistan is estimated to have $3 trillion worth of mineral deposits, which through years of insecurity have remained unexploited. Gold, iron ore, copper ore, emeralds, lapis, rubies as well as natural gas are all found in the north of the country. Now with help from advisors from the US Task Force for Business and Stability Operations (TFBSO), the Afghanistan Geological Survey is gaining the skills it needs to explore and exploit the country’s resources. Geologists and drillers are being trained to investigate sites to test for the presence of resources (10 March 2014)’.

As long ago as 2011, I already posted an entry on Afghanistan’s underground wealth,[1] and last year, Al Jazeera reported that the “US estimates that Afghanistan could be sitting on deposits worth $1 trillion. That includes gold, iron ore, uranium and precious stones, including emeralds. But for now, agriculture remains Afghanistan’s biggest export earner with fruit and nuts, tobacco and wool topping the list’.[2]  The Vancouver-based journalist Kerry Hall added last year that “Afghanistan hopes to rely on its natural resources to support the national economy following the pull-out of NATO forces in 2014. Current mining revenue in the country is estimated at $146 million annually. By 2024, the finance minister estimates mining will contribute $4 billion to the government and $20 billion to the overall economy”.[3]


[2] “Afghanistan pins hopes on natural resources” Al Jazeera (01 Feb 2013). http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2013/02/20132115352982835.html.

[3] Kerry Hall, ” Afghanistan mineral deposits estimated at $1 trillion ” Mining (09 April 2013). http://www.mining.com/afghanistan-mineral-deposits-estimated-at-1-trillion-dollars-82470/.

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