— The Erimtan Angle —

Archive for June, 2011

Obedient Wives Clubs Update

Over the past days and weeks I have posted some stories about the progress or rather regress of gender equality in the Islamic world today, particularly the one entry related to Salwa al-Mutairi’s modest proposal.[1]  While Islamphobes like to jump on such stories as providing proof of the backward nature of Islam, it seems that these recent occurrences are indicative of the persistence of male-dominated mind-sets and phallocratic attitudes in traditional societies all around. In traditional societies, tradition is called upon to provide “justification” for “change” – case in point, the strictures of Islam are used to justify the further entrenchment of the prevailing phallocracy, by that by means of advocating the institution of sex slavery to safeguard the sanctity of male-dominated marriage or the outright encouragement of female obedience in the household, as highlighted by Al Jazeera: a ‘new Islamic club that teaches women to be “obedient wives” has just launched a branch in Indonesia. The group already branches in 18 countries across the world, including Jordan and Malaysia. Some critics say the club promotes gender inequality, while its members argue it does not, but rather endorses the duty of women. Syarina Hasibuan reports from Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, where the club has attracted hundreds of members’.


 The Culture Wars have finally arrived in the Islamic world now . . . previously, such things were thought of primarily as an American or Christian phenomenon, but not anymore now. In this day and age, the organisation promoting Obedient Wives in the Islamic sphere also has a Facebook page with so far 16 people liking it (24 June 2011).[2]  The news agency Reuters reports that ‘Indonesian Gina Puspita traded a career in aircraft engineering for a mission to preach Islam and help young women build happy marriages through good sex. The French-educated mother of three hosts religious programmes through the Obedient Wives Club which is based on the belief that a fulfilling sex life is the cure for “Western-style” social problems such as divorce and abuse’. [3]  Miss Puspita in good old-fashioned traditional way calls upon the foundation of the traditional structure of life in Indonesia and Malaysia to counter “Western-style” innovations . . .

It turns out that Miss Puspita has been at it for quite some time now. Three years ago her organisation was busy promoting polygamy. The BBC then reported that ‘the main aim of the [Global Ikhwan] club is to promote the virtues of polygamy, as well as to support those who are struggling with their choices’. Miss Puspita adds that “polygamy is a way for us to find happiness and love in this world. There are a lot of advantages for women in polygamous marriages – we learn how to control our desires and jealousies, and this brings us closer to Allah”.[4]  And in this way, Gina Puspita proves yet again that citing the name of god to prove the just nature of an unjust practice is as effective today as it has ever been in the past . . .

In fact, my above mention of the Culture Wars was not entirely gratuitous, as RT’s Alyona Minkovski points out on her eponymous show: ‘The Christian Patriarchy Movement has spawned the stay-at-home daughterhood movement. It’s a branch of evangelical Christianity that takes beliefs about men as leaders and women as homemakers to anachronistic extremes. The Young Turks’Ana Kasparian explains why a lifestyle like this could survive in America (2 December 2010)’.


[1] “Contemporary Sex Slavery: Salwa al-Mutairi’s Modest Proposal” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (16 June 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/contemporary-sex-slavery-salwa-al-mutairi%e2%80%99s-modest-proposal/.

[3] “Preaching good sex, Obedient Wives Club spreads word” Reuters (24 June 2011). http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/features/preaching-good-sex-obedient-wives-club-spreads-word_559961.html.

[4] Karishma Vaswani, “Club promotes polygamy in Indonesia” BBC News (17 December 2009). http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8412496.stm.

Lynn Woolsey on Afghanistan (23 June 2011)

On 6 January 2011, the California Democrat Lynn Woolsey gave a short yet explosive speech condemning the war in Afghanistan. [1]  And now that President Obama has publicly announced that he will merely return the U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan to pre-surge levels, she cannot hide her disappointment . . .


[1] “C-Span: Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (D – CA)” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (09 January 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/c-span-congresswoman-lynn-woolsey-d-%E2%80%93-ca/.

President Obama Announces Afghanistan Troop Reduction

Speaking from the White House, President Obama announced that 10,000 American forces would leave Afghanistan by the end of this year and another 20,000 would be withdrawn by the end of next year. In other words, the 2009 Afghan Surge will be brought to an end . . . but will it bring an end to the U.S. military presence in the Hindu Kush???

 Again invoking “9/11” at the outset of his speech, President Obama did however not repeat his alliterative mantra – disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda. But he included a proud mention of the targeted assassination of Usamah bin Laden, an unarmed Arab lying in bed. For years now, the Afghani resistance, nowadays known as Taliban but previously referred to as Mujahideen, has been fighting the foreign occupation of their homeland. In late 2009, Matthew Hoh, political officer in the foreign service and a senior civilian officer in Zabul, Afghanistan, resigned from his post declaring that the Obama strategy is doomed to failure. Hoh was adamant that the Taliban were basically nationalists trying to defend their home and country, he even coined the term “valleyist” to describe the basic instinct underlying their determination. Still, official rhetoric is far removed from the realities of the war in the mountains. Instead of talking about Taliban or Mujahideen, the name of the “catch-all ghost entity” Al Qaeda is uttered over and again to secure popular support and sympathy for the U.S. military strategy in the Hindu Kush, that might or might not be connected to the elusive TAPI pipeline project and China;s growing influence in Central Asia. Still, “the president made it clear he was aware of the American weariness with the almost decade-long war and a desire in many quarters to use any peace dividend for
domestic needs”, as expressed by Michael Muskal and Michael Memoli in the Los Angeles Times.[1]

[1] Michael Muskal and Michael A. Memoli, “Obama speech reflects unease at home after a decade of war” Los Angeles
(22 June 2011). http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-obama-speech-assess-20110622,0,1303896.story?track=rss.

Fun Facts about U.S. Military Spending as well as Global Military Expenditure

Turns out that money does make the world go round, and money well spent is money no longer available for anything else. So, here is goes: “America spends more on its military than THE NEXT 15 COUNTRIES COMBINED”, “In 2007, the amount of money labeled ‘wasted’ or ‘lost’ in Iraq — $11 billion — could pay 220,000 teachers salaries [in the U.S.]”, “America’s defense spending doubled in the same period that its economy shrunk from 32 to 23 percent of global output”, “The yearly cost of stationing one soldier in Iraq could feed 60 American families”, “The total known land area occupied by U.S. bases and facilities is 15,654 square miles — bigger than D.C., Massachusetts, and New Jersey combined”, “Each day in Afghanistan costs the [U.S.] government more than it did to build the entire Pentagon”, “In 2008, the Pentagon spent more money every five seconds in Iraq than the average American earned in a year”, “The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population — but almost 50% of the world’s total military expenditure”. [1]  These fun facts were compiled by Ujala Sehgal back in 2010 . . . The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) announced on 11 April 2011 that ‘[w]orld military expenditure in 2010 is estimated to have been $1630 billion, an increase of 1.3 per cent in real terms. The region with the largest increase in military spending was South America, with a 5.8 per cent increase, reaching a total of $63.3 billion’, adding that, ‘[a]lthough the rate of increase in US military spending slowed in 2010—to 2.8 per cent compared to an annual average increase of 7.4 per cent between 2001 and 2009, the global increase in 2010 is almost entirely down to the United States, which accounted for $19.6 billion of the $20.6 billion global increase’.[2]  The Head of the SIPRI military Expenditure Project, Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman says that the “USA has increased its military spending by 81 per cent since 2001, and now accounts for 43 per cent of the global total, six times its nearest rival China. At 4.8 per cent of GDP, US military  pending in 2010 represents the largest economic burden outside the Middle East”.[3]

The SIPRI report further indicates that the ‘global increase in military spending of 1.3 per cent is the slowest annual rate of increase since the surge in global military expenditure began after 2001. Between 2001 and 2009, the annual increase averaged 5.1 per cent. In many cases, the falls or slower increases represent a delayed reaction to the global financial and economic crisis that broke in 2008. In Europe, where military spending fell by 2.8 per cent, governments began to address soaring budget deficits, having previously enacted stimulus packages in 2009. Cuts were particularly substantial in the smaller, more vulnerable economies of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as those with particular budget difficulties such as Greece. In Asia, even though most economies did not experience a recession, economic growth slowed down in 2009 while military spending continued to rise rapidly. Thus, the slower increase of 1.4 per cent in military spending in 2010 partly readjusts growth in military spending to economic growth rates. The Chinese Government, for example, explicitly linked its smaller increase in 2010 to China’s weaker economic performance in 2009 . . . The Middle East spent $111 billion on military expenditure in 2010, an increase of 2.5 per cent over 2009. The largest absolute rise in the region was by Saudi Arabia. Estimated spending in Africa increased by 5.2 per cent, led by major oil-producers such as Algeria, Angola and Nigeria’.[4]

[1] Ujala Sehgal, “13 Facts About Military Spending That Will Make Your Head Explode” Business Insider (12
November 2010). http://www.businessinsider.com/facts-about-defense-spending-2010-11?op=1.

[2] “11 April 2011: World military spending reached $1.6 trillion in 2010, biggest increase in South America, fall in Europe according to new SIPRI data” SIPRI (11 April 2011). http://www.sipri.org/media/pressreleases/milex.

[3] “11 April 2011: World military spending reached $1.6 trillion in 2010”.

[4] “11 April 2011: World military spending reached $1.6 trillion in 2010”.

Updating Iraq: Tehran and Baghdad Economic Ties

In the aftermath of the Bush invasion of Iraq, the political balance has somewhat shifted in the Middle East. On the one hand, in direct consequence of the U.S. military action Iran has now emerged as a much more influential force in the region. Whereas Saddam Hussein had been vehemently opposed to the Tehran regime, the current leadership in Baghdad is all but cozying up to Iran. Last Tuesday, 21 June, Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari flew to Iran’s capital to talk to his counterpart and make deals for a mutually beneficial future relationship. The Fars News Agency (FNA) reports that ‘Iranian and Iraqi officials said the two sides are working on a number of agreements to expand their mutual economic cooperation, and added that the documents of these agreements will be concluded and inked during an upcoming visit to Baghdad by Iranian First Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi’.[1]

On Tuesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that “four agreements on avoidance of double taxation, customs cooperation, encouragement and support for joint investment, and economic and trade cooperation [are being considered] . . . The two countries’ capacities and potentials are beyond this level [of exchange] and we hope that Mr. Rahimi’s visit would open the way  to increase the volume of exchanges to a remarkable amount”.[2]  All in all, Tehran and Baghdad want to set up an Iran-Iraq Joint Supreme Economic Committee that would turn both countries into prospering partners arguably in a position to conomically dominate the Sunni Middle East. But at the same time, in its current pseudo-Ottoman guise Turkey is purportedly trying to strengthen the Sunni Arab world in such a way that would minimise Iran’s impact and influence . . . Are the Safavids (a common
slur to describe Shi’ite Iran) again emerging as a viable threat to peace and stability in the Sunni pseudo-Ottoman world???  After all, as long ago as November 2006, Mishaan al Jubouri, a former member of the Iraqi parliament and owner of the television station al-Zawraa, or Muj TV, referred to the Baghdad government as the “U.S.-backed Safavid occupation”.[3]  In other words, memories run deep in the Middle East and this can only lead one to ask whether George W. Bush’s ill-conceived invasion of Iraq will eventually lead to a revival of open and/or veiled hostility between a Sunni and a Shi’a block in the Middle East???  Turkey was happily engaging Iran until fairly recently, but U.S. insistence now seems to have persuaded Ankara to look the other way . . .

[1] “Iran, Iraq Readying for Jump in Economic Cooperation” FNA (22 June 2011). http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9004010198.

[2] “Iran, Iraq Readying for Jump in Economic Cooperation”.

[3] Hannah Allam, “Banned Iraqi television station illicitly back on the air” McClatchy Newspapers (21 November 2006). http://www.aliraqi.org/forums/showthread.php?t=66208.

The Humanitarian Intervention in Libya: A War by Any Other Name

Two top senators have unveiled a resolution giving President Obama limited authority in the 3-month-old war against Libya, warning that cutting off funds for the military operation would be a lifeline to Moammar Gadhafi (21 June 2011).

Faith & Freedom Coalition: God is Back, Once Again

Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates on Friday appealed to the religious right to help them defeat President Barack Obama in the 2012 election. They spoke at a meeting of an organization that was formed to restore the influence that conservative Christian voters once had in choosing presidents (21 June 2011).

 On its dedicated website the Coalition declares: ‘We believe that the greatness of America lies not in the federal government but in the character of our people — the simple virtues of faith, hard work, marriage, family, personal responsibility, and helping the least among us. If we lose sight of these values, America will cease to be great. Never before has it been more critical for us to speak out for these values. That is why the Faith and Freedom Coalition is committed to educating, equipping, and mobilizing people of faith and like-minded individuals to be effective citizens. Together we will influence public policy and enact legislation that strengthens families, promotes time-honored values, protects the dignity of life and marriage, lowers the tax burden on small business and families, and requires government to tighten its belt and live within its means.

Our Principles

  •Respect for the sanctity and dignity of life, family, and marriage as the foundations of a free society

•Limited government, lower taxes and fiscal responsibility to unleash the creative energy of entrepreneurs

•Education reform that puts children first

•Help the poor, the needy, and those who have been left behind

•Free markets and free minds to create opportunity for all

•Victory in the struggle with terrorism and tyranny while supporting our democratic allies, including Israel

 Our Goals

 •Mobilize and train people of faith to be effective citizens

•Speak out in the public arena and in the media on behalf of common-sense values

•Influence legislation and enact sound public policy at every level of government

•Train citizens for effective civic action

•Protest bigotry and discrimination against people of faith’.[1]


[1] “About the Faith and Freedom Coalition” Faith & Freedom Coalition. http://ffcoalition.com/about/.