Contents Letter From Paris

Contents Letter From Paris

Thursday, February 24, 2005


Norwegian Rapport On Euro-Jihadist Network (Read it!)

The FFI, Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (Military Intelligence) unclassified two weeks ago a 32-page rapport: “THE SLAYING OF THE DUTCH FILMMAKER (Theo Van Gogh) – Religiously motivated violence or Islamist terrorism in the name of global jihad?”, which concludes that there is indeed an active jihadist terrorist network in the European Union which wants to attack… in Europe. The buzzword id “Global Jihad”. The same agency discovered the al-Qaeda document that alledgedlly served as a blueprint for the Madrid commuter train massacre (See Señor Mañana, a Tale of Truth, al Qaeda, Norwegians and Poles). Below are some excerpts of the rapport and here is the link to the complete doc (link at the bottom of the page)

This report surveys in depth the available open source information about the ritualistic murder of the filmmaker Theo Van Gogh on the streets of Amsterdam on November 2, 2004.
The analysis makes the case that the murder of Van Gogh was a terrorist attack implemented by an al-Qaida inspired radical Islamist group within the framework of global jihad, and not an act of religious violence by a lone fanatic. The report also argues that the invasion of Iraq was an important motivational factor for the assassin and his accomplices, in addition to grievances related to the Dutch government’s policies concerning immigration and Dutch counter-terrorism measures

. ………………. …

Investigations have revealed that the assassin belonged to a more or less organized group of individuals subscribing to radical Islamism, and supporting al-Qaida’s ideology of global jihad against the United States and its allies. Political assassinations were also conceived of and planned in these circles. The following analysis outlines and discusses the information about the murder case currently available in open sources

. ……………….

The hypothesis generated from the mass of information about the case surveyed thus far is that the slaying of Theo Van Gogh was an act of global jihad, following the new patterns of Islamist terrorism in Western Europe, and cannot be reduced to the deed of a religious fanatic who was acting on his own.


This analysis finds that the motivations for the attack appear to be more ideological-political in response to the escalation in the conflict between radical Islamists and the US, Israel and their European allies, than cultural-religious, generated from a provocative short film about the treatment of Muslim women. The release of the short film affected the selection of Van Gogh by the terrorists because it made him visible as a potential target. The paper argues that it is highly plausible that the killer was motivated by the jihadist notion that Muslims in Holland and around the globe are under attack as part of the “global war on terrorism”. The assassination occurred in the context of an escalation in the conflict in Iraq, and intensified counter-terrorism efforts against radical Islamists in the Netherlands. The Van Gogh case, it seems, reveals patterns of recruitment, motivations and modus operandi similar to those addressed in the report “Jihad in Europe”, released by the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment in April 2004.7


It seems Holland-based Islamist radicals have been relatively active in the European networks. A group headed by the French-Algerian militant Jamal Beghal planned to launch attacks against US targets in Europe. These plans were partly conceived in Holland. A Holland-based group dubbed the “Trabelsi-network” provided fake documents and took part in other support activities for Beghal and his cadre who also planned an attack against the canteen of the US airbase Kleine Brogel in Belgium, near the Dutch border. There have been no reports in open sources that the group of Bouyeri had any direct links to the “Trabelsi-network”. However, one Spain-based militant allegedly had connections in both milieus. Our studies of Islamist terrorist conspiracies in Western Europe suggest the existence of a substantial support-network for jihadist groups in the Netherlands and in Belgium.Apart from the Trabelsi-network there were other incidents that indicated a jihadist “infrastructure” in Holland. For example, in June 2003, Dutch police launched an investigation into a milieu of suspected Islamist militants clustered around a scuba diving school run by the Iraqi-born Kasim Ali. The incident invoked fears that Islamist militants were planning maritime terrorist attacks in Europe.


The Hofstad Network was involved in activities outside the Netherlands, and established multiple international jihadist connections. The group allegedly maintained contacts with Islamist militants in Morocco, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia. The terrorist suspects who were arrested in October 2003 allegedly exchanged “coded communications” with a Moroccan Islamist militant, imprisoned in Spain, who has been identified as Abdeladim Akoudad aka Naoufel. In Naoufel’s calendar police found encoded telephone numbers of members of the Hofstad Network.54 Naoufel allegedly is a member of a Moroccan Salafist- Jihadist group established by so-called “Afghan Arabs” who returned to Morocco. This group has been dubbed the Moroccan Islamic Fighting Group (GICM or al-Jama`ah al-Islamiyya al- Muqatila bi’l- Maghrib), and it is suspected that members of this group formed the terrorist network that launched the Madrid bombings (M-11). Moroccan authorities want Naoufel because they believe he was involved in the terrorist operation in Casablanca on May 16, 2003.55 Another radical Salafist group formed by jihad veterans with experience from Afghanistan – al-Salafiyya al-Jihadiyya - allegedly staged the Casablanca attacks. However, in an interview in September 2004 a Spanish intelligence official, informed about the investigations of the terrorist attacks in Madrid on 11 March 2004, expressed doubts concerning the utility of differentiating between the various Moroccan Salafist-Jihadist groups, because they seem to share the same ideology and support al-Qaida’s doctrine of global jihad.


Naoufel maintained ties to prominent jihadist-leaders and people belonging to the “al-Qaida hardcore”.57 Allegedly, he also was frequently in contact with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who is seen as the leader of the Islamic resistance in Iraq. Al-Zarqawi is known to have coordinated the activities of at least one active terrorist cell in Western Europe, and he is suspected of coordinating a broader network of Islamist terrorists operating in multiple European countries, but mainly in Italy, France, the UK and Germany. Reportedly, investigators have also been probing a possible relationship between members of the Hofstad Network, and a group of Moroccan militants that has been referred to as “Martyrs for Morocco”, arrested in Madrid in October 2004 and suspected of planning suicide bomb attacks against the Spanish National High Court, and possibly also Santiago Bernabeu soccer stadium (home field of Real Madrid). The terrorist cell reportedly “made necessary arrangements” for acquiring 1000 kgs of the plastic explosive Goma 2 Eco, the explosive that was used in the Madrid bombings. 500 kgs was planned to be used in a suicide attack against the High Court.60 The militants probably planned the attack as a response to increased Spanish counter-terrorism efforts after M-11, and wanted to kill the head of the Spanish terrorism investigations, Judge Baltazar Garson.

Monday, February 21, 2005


Investing in Spain, lights and shadows

One of the things I do for a living is investment research. Once a month or so, I write rapports on different countries potential risks and rewards for foreign investors. My clients range from corporations to consulting companies and then some sensible business media. I recently (last month) wrote a forecast on France, Spain and Portugal that had some of my customers wondering. My advice regarding Spain was perceived by some as too upbeat since it went against the feel of some of my colleagues. The debate is interesting, so, I have chosen to address some of the criticism using this blog, where I write mostly on politics, since much of the skepticism against my view of Spain’s economic perspectives has to do precisely with politics.

Let me summarize my view of the Spanish economy in the short and medium run. I think that Spain is a good buy, with a couple of qualifications, the main one being that investors should ponder carefully where in Spain they invest and to stay away from a couple of sectors, like the media, which in Spain is too close to pork-barrel politics for comfort.

First of all, regarding where to invest in Spain, I think it is wise to remember that the country is probably the closest to a federal system that you can get in Europe; the Spanish Autonomias (autonomous regions) have a very significant leeway in terms of policy. As a result, there are some very significant differences between the prospects for investment in different regions; that allows for having very good opportunities in some places while in some other spots, like say the Basque Country, no sensible investor would care to set up shop without some very good and imperative reason. The Spanish semi-federal system has another advantage, of the greatest consequence when evaluating risks: the country as a whole can manage to get along with even a quite incompetent central government, since it won't be able to devastate everything everywhere. I would compare Spain to a submarine with lots of watertight compartments… it can afford to have a couple of them full with water and yet remain seaworthy.

To the story belongs, of course, that I remain rather unconvinced about the statesmanship of the Spanish government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero [check these links: Link 1, Link2, Link3, Link4 (specially) and Link 5]. But o

Let’s start from the most interesting regions form investment.

Geographically, the whole Mediterranean coast seems bound to continue its process of “californization”, above all, the Valencia and Murcia regions, (conservative regional governments, no populist tendencies, accelerated growth) and then, of course, the Balearic Islands, the tourist emporium of the Mediterranean. The city of Valencia is the center of a Metropolitan Area (L'Horta) that includes ca. 1.5 million inhabitants and 44 municipalities. Valencia belongs to a Region known as Comunidad Valenciana, which was one of the historical kingdoms from which Spain was established. The ‘Wider Territorial Unit’ (EU lingo) corresponds to the area covered by Metropolitan Area. It is strategically situated on the Mediterranean coast and relies on modern road and rail networks that speed up exchanges with other Spanish and European cities. Through its highways, Valencia is linked with Barcelona, Madrid and Southern Spain. Its airport handles 1.7 million passengers a year and it has also a large port, very well organized.

Andalusia is a much less clear bet: traditionally controlled by a local socialist baron, the administration is pretty unreliable and suffers of chronic patronage. But then, again, for long-term investment projects, particularly in the service sectors, it is a very interesting area. A must to research for services to seniors and residential developments.

Catalonia isn’t the brightest option in the Mediterranean for the time being; costs are high, government is less than predictable. The regional government isn’t exactly the ideal for international investors: a shaky coalition of socialists –indulging sometimes in a fair amount of nationalist populism-, ex-communists and radical nationalists, very hostile to business and harboring a particularly obnoxious brand of anti-Spanish bigotry. Yet the region has an enormous potential in the long run: Barcelona, the capital, is perhaps, the main business center in the Mediterranean outside of Italy. Sooner or later the nationalist rubeola will eventually remit and Catalans will vote some sensible people into office… Right now the outlook is quite negative: an increasing number of mainly manufacturing companies are opting out of the region towards the new members of the European Union in the East, a trend that is being accelerated by the thuggish anti-business rhetoric of some of the people in government, trying to scare companies into not moving out (!). Real estate and tourist infrastructure are two fields that can hold the best potential.

Madrid is from all points of view a very good prospect for investment, probably the best in the short run throughout Spain and definitely in the long run. It is the eighth largest city in Europe –ca 3 M inhabitants in the city itself and around 4,3 M in the conurbation- and is a major financial and economic center, well equipped with advanced services. Madrid is the federal capital of Spain, but it has its own autonomous regional government, with the same prerogatives of the other regions (I fact, the Madrid region’s population is heavily concentrated in the capital’s conurbation, the rest being scattered in a few dozens of small villages). In the last 20 years or so, the Spanish capital has become a global city and of the major business places in Europe. It is superbly communicated with Latin America; in fact, it is the only serious contender with Miami for being the main hub for companies who have a multinational operation in Latin America. On the one hand, Madrid has a crucially important pool of talented qualified workforce from throughout Latin America, on the other, actual costs for conducting business are among the lowest in Europe. The regional government is consistently conservative and business friendly and quite competent.

The only region in Spain where investment can be an outright bad proposition is the Basque region, where there is an endemic problem with ultra-nationalist terrorist activity. The terrorist organization ETA has been, literally, in business since the 60s and maintains itself by means of a sophisticated racketeering operation to extort the so called “revolutionary tax” from local companies. CEOs have been murdered for refusing to pay. The worst part is that the terrorists have a proxy union, present in most companies… including the banking system. They often select their victims among the members of the opposition to the regional government, controlled by relatively moderate nationalist parties in coalition with the local ex-communists. The ideological origin of Basque nationalism is worrisome. The Basque government is rhetorically pro-business but tend to aggressively promote an all-too-rosy picture of the Basque situation and tries offer fiscal incentives to compensate companies for the “revolutionary tax” and connected risks. Ominously enough, the parties in the local government are known to have signed in 1998 a secret pact with the ETA to oppose the central government and they openly subsidize the families of imprisoned terrorists; they also have fiercely opposed the law –quite ineffectual in any event- prohibiting a party considered to be the terrorists’ legal arm. My advice is to keep out of that conundrum.

Beyond the Basque Country, with its old industrialist tradition and location close to the French border, Atlantic Spain doesn’t seem to offer many possibilities for businesses nowadays.

Non-coastal Spain has another area that may offer attention-grabbing opportunities for investors. It is the continuum of three regions, the Spanish Navarre –a very interesting fiscal location- the Rioja en the northwestern part of Aragon, particularly its capital, Zaragoza. It is very strategically located, increasingly well communicated with France and then with the Mediterranean hinterland, both towards Catalonia and Valencia… In fact, Zaragoza has everything going for it becoming a hub city, functionally twined with Toulouse, a main center of French-Spanish exchanges and very probably one of the few places where one can envision a manufacturing venture in Spain…

Lastly I would like to convey a soothing idea about Zapatero and his government, whose negative weight for the economy has been, as I see it, exaggerated by some over-nervous analysts. First of all, the man that the WSJ dubbed “The Accidental President” surely lacks an educated perception of foreign relations and isn’t exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer of the European Union leaders. But, on the other hand, he has had the good sense of understanding that the economy must be left to economists and Pedro Solbes, his minister of Finance, is both an accomplished and an orthodox professional, an old hand of the competent wing of the European Union bureaucracy (yes, there is such a thing), the man who fathered the fiscal responsibility norm.

A cruel saying goes: “There is nothing worse than an idiot with initiative”. Happily enough, Mr. Zapatero has reserved his initiative to the international political arena and social engineering, and in both fields he has left some glowing traces that, I’m sure, will defy the passage of time (I won’t forget his recipe to end terrorism though genre equality). But in economics, thanks God, he has been more hands-off than not.

This and the beneficial effects of the de-centralized Spanish political system will in my view preserve Spain from too much damage during Mr. Zapatero’s time in office.

Another matter, and a very grave one, is the pending menace of an implosion in the very fragile Spanish manufacturing sector, overtly exposed to competition from Asia and Eastern Europe…

For the time being, neither Spain or France are to fall for the German sickness. In fact, I read in today’s Financial Times that business confidence remains low in Germany (95.5 from 96.4 last month) but it's sort of OK in France and Spain. GDP fell in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands in the last quarter of 2004, while in Spain and France it has gone up not-so-timidly (0.8% and 0.7%). I think the FT has got it right. Then, of course, one can argue that those increases both in France and in Spain depend on low interest rates and a real estate bubble. Also Germany and Holland are structurally more dependents on exports…

My personal hunch is that in Europe we are already getting into the crisis and, as usual in this sort of situations, some people will feel the pinch before the others. Spain is in for a pretty bumpy road from 2006 and onwards, particularly after it loses the financial injections from the territorial funds from Brussels in 2007, but it’ll get over it.


Mending Frances

And so, George W. comes to Paris with the intention of patching things up with the French after four stormy years. The French, who play an out-of-proportion star role in shaping Europe's policy because they are about the only ones trying or caring to do so, less-than-fervently supported by German chancellor Schroeder, that’s true. Chirac and Schroeder, two of a kind, are sort of Europe by default, now that Aznar isn’t there, Berlusconi acts like he wasn’t there and Blair, indeed, is somewhere else. If one sees Europe through the French-German eye-glasses, the European Union's mission would seem to be playing an increasingly important role in international affairs. A mission that would include acting as a moral check and balance of American unilateralism, at least if you want to put it in the terms dear to Jacques Honest Chirac, the man who needs to be president of France to stay out of jail.

I have the hunch that the visit won't be a walk in the Luxembourg Garden but it’ll turn out to be a success.

While America has achieved a lot by itself in Iraq and elsewhere, the French elite isn’t near admitting that its position in the Middle East hasn’t been exactly candid regarding its motivations. Indeed, many a French banker and a cohort of CEOs saw the toppling of Saddam Hussein as a major catastrophe. In the biggest embezzlement in History, the UN controlled oil-for-food program, guess twice who did the banking, furnished a fair share of overprized goods and paid juicy bribes to the Bagdad chosen few…

But then, to put it in realistic (or cynical) terms, toppled tyrants living in a jail cell seldom make good business partners. Instead, a dollar/euro parity of 1.30 really hurts European exports, winemakers in Bordeaux are desperately in need of getting back to the US market, where their product has been badly battered by anti-French sentiment and decent wines from Chile, Australia and California at a fraction of the price. And these are just two examples among many of what may entice Honest Jacques into giving a warm hospitable welcome to Re-elected George W. and accepting to play the great soul who accepts the Texan's niceties to forget the past and look into the (hopefully bright) future.

But then, there are other less distinct factors playing for the French and the Americans getting a fresh starts of sorts.

On the international scene, I think that the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, allegedly because of his opposition to the Syrian occupation of Lebanon, will prompt a rapprochement. The United States and France, co-sponsors of a U.N. resolution to rid Lebanon of Syrian troops, want a foreign-led investigation into the assassination. France’s stance on this one annoyed very much the Syrians… And rumors in Paris state that the (generally very competent) French counter-terrorist task force has been pretty busy since de Hariri murder.

And then, on the domestic French front there is the ever felt and never seen presence of Nicolas Sarkozy, the most popular politician in France. He's very competent and has become Chirac’s arch-rival. Sarkozy, who is openly pro-Atlantist, has been artfully lobbying in the United States and doesn’t hide his ambition to run for the presidency. To contain him, Chirac has to give up his natural inclination for arrogance and anti-American rhetoric.


(Few) Spaniards Vote on EU Const. , French Worries after Murder of Hariri, and the Academic Cost of the War on Terror

Well, at last Spaniards had their vote on the European Constitution to be. How could I put it? Say that many more Iraqis defied the terrorists and went to vote on January 30 than Spaniards braved the rain to go to say whether they thought it a good idea to make into law the constitutional treaty.

The text had been drafted by a deep-blue-ribbon as-hoc comittee presided by former French President Giscard d'Estaign. All in all, 42% of the Spanish voters cared to do their civil duty (the lowest in any Spanish vote since democracy was restored following the death of Gen. Francisco Franco in 1975) and 76% of them said that it was perhaps a good idea. Which says a lot about the Spaniards' faith in their politikos' judgement, since several surveys suggest that over 90% of the voters hadn't cared to give even a perfunctory glance at the draft... Both of Spain's major parties back the charter.

Here in France, politicians and law enforcement agencies, more than ordinary citizens, rightfully worry now that terrorists can strike again in Europe and perhaps in France. Many think that the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri is just the announcement of things to come; more than probably, he was killed because of his opposition to the continuing Syrian occupation of his land that had motivated him to ask France and the US to pass a a resolution at the UN against it.

After the election in Iraq the Syrian regime's old guard is very worried. After all, if the Sunni overclass in Iraq was 20% of the population, their own Alawite elite that monopolizes government and economic power in Syria is no more than 12%... They are positive that democracy for the Middle East isn't a good idea, not in Iraq, not in Lebanon and most definitely, not in Syria.

One telling statistic: More than 30 percent of all Ph.D. recipients in U.S. science and mathematics programs are foreigners. Many of them stay in the country upon completing their degrees. But then, added counter-terrorist security has made it an ordeal to obtain student visas or even to attend academic conferences in the United States. International applications to U.S. graduate programs have declined by roughly a third in the last year. Security doesn't come cheap.

BRIAN DUNN, de The Dignified Rant, sobre el referéndum español (Vía BarcePundit):

It looks like it will be a little over 40% turnout with the pro-constitution
side winning handily. Given the nearly 60% turnout in Iraq without the deployment of Spanish troops to protect the voters, the presence of Spanish troops is not a predictor of voter turnout.

Brian Dunn, the most insightful Ranter of the Internet

Friday, February 18, 2005


Omar, Welcome to the Pajamas Brigade!"

Next time some one pretends that Aljazeera is just a normal news outfit, just tell him/her about this poll. I mean, is there anything to add?

Look at the Al-Jazeera's idea of a fair Internet polling:

This perl was discovered by Omar, from IRAQ THE MODEL , while in his pajamas, of course.

Let me quote a little bit from these two brothers in Bagdad for the benefit of dried out bloggers:

The Magic of Pajamas.

Well I think I titled this post with the word pajamas because the connection between blogging and pajamas has been a mystery for me. Of course I know what the theory says regarding this connection but I wasn't sure of the mechanism in which they relate to each other. Until this afternoon.This may not seem like a regular ITM post and I think that's the idea!

I was talking to Mohammed an hour ago and we both were feeling depressed because of the declining quality and quantity of posts on our blog and the deficiency of ideas for good posts that we're currently suffering from. I don't know whether you agree with us but we here can feel it.Then he suddenly said laughing "go wear your pajamas, maybe this will inspire you to write something"!

Well, frankly speaking it did and once I went into my pajamas I felt a strange motivation for writing; writing anything, at least it encouraged me to write this stupid conversation between two bored brothers drinking tea and smoking cigarettes in the afternoon.I'm not claiming that my pajamas have magic in them but you know what? They do make a change!

By the way, Iraq, the Model is a very interesting blog... And their analysis of the Aljazeera poll is well, very good, full of common sense.


Very Good Article by Fouad Ajami

Ajami is a (very good)professor at Johns Hopkins University. He just published in the WSJ a quite thougtful article on Rafik Hariri that I strongly recommend...

It starts:

Rafiq Hariri, who was struck down on Monday by a huge car bomb on Beirut's seafront, was the unlikeliest of martyrs for the cause of Lebanon's independence. He had risen from the obscurity and poverty of Sidon--on Lebanon's coast--to the upper reaches of Lebanese and Arab society, largely through the patronage of the House of Saud and the inner dealings of Arab rulers and courtiers. A former prime minister of Lebanon, he wasn't particularly articulate, or given to the call of political causes. He believed in the power of wealth and of pragmatism, and saw Lebanon's mission in the time-honored way of Sidon's Phoenician heritage: commerce and trade, banking and tourism. Over two long decades in the political game, he had made his accommodation with
Syrian power. He no doubt paid off Syrian intelligence operatives and officers, cut their sons and daughters and wives into business deals, did what he could for the restoration of his battered country, while staying on the safe side of Syria's hegemony in Lebanon...


Read this article by Michael Young in Beirut's Daily Star

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


With friends like that...

God and the people who read this blog know that Jacques Chirac isn’t my Valentine. Yet, this time I can only agree with him: he has forcefully called for an international investigation on who (I would add why) murdered Rafik Hariri. Then he flew into Beirut this morning, against the advice of his ministers, to attend Hariri’s funeral. Bravo, Jacques!

The Syrian ambassador in Paris, Siba Nasser, hasn’t wasted much time in going on the record on Radio Europe 1, to say what?, that of course, her government hadn’t had anything to do with the murder (how could people think such a preposterous thing?, the Syrian regime, come on!) and then, she went on to say that Syria, of course (again), was ready to accept such an international investigation if –now, read carefully- if the Lebanese government accepts it.

The lady went on to say that it was possible that tomorrow the Lebanese would ask some neutral countries, like the European countries, to help them to search for indicia… (Il se peut que demain les Libanais demandent à des pays neutres comme des pays européens de les aider à retrouver des indices.) She also said that "Hariri was a great friend of Syria" ! (With friends like that, did Hariri need enemies?)
Now, the word « neutral » in that context implies that there is a war going on, that you are a part of it and that you consider the Europeans to be neutral… who is the enemy? The United States?

Searching in the arcane of the Net, I think these three links are very interesting:

June 2001: Can Syria Put the Lebanese Regime Together Again?

May 2004 : The Bombing in Damascus: Ten Reasons to Doubt Syria's Claim

July 2004 : The US and France Tip the Scale in Lebanon's Power Struggle


The Hariri Murder... One Too Many?

A 400 kg. bomb has killed Rafik Hariri. One of the few truly civilized leaders in the Middle east.

Writing obituaries has never been my favorite genre, but Rafik Hariri is, was, even for Middle East standards, one of the most intriguing characters of that intriguing part of the world. In my perception, he was first a Levantine, then a bazaar kingpin, then an Arab baron (if you allow me the boutade), a subtle French notable and somewhere, why, yes, a secular Muslim who didn’t believe much in mullahs or imams but who did indeed believe in God and human solidarity. The son of a grocer and farmer in Sidon, he made a fortune by being superhumanly insightful and brilliant.

He got into politics as a tool for the Syrian occupation and ended as an opposition leader, trying to get the Syrians out and I am convinced that last struggle was the ultimate reason why he was murdered. The nearest cause at hand is the coming election ; had he lived, he might have expected to win with a large majority in the forthcoming Lebanese general elections. Since after Iraq it has become very difficult to rig an election in the region, they had to kill him

Quod prodest? Who is to benefit from the death of this extraordinary man? Well, back in October I wrote a post (The French Hostages & The Syrian Connection) in which I echoed what was already more than a rumor here in Paris: Syria was behind the kidnapping of two French reporters in Iraq, because the Damascus regime was irked by the passing of US sponsored 1557 resolution at the UN, calling for Syria to end its occupation of Lebanon. Hariri had engineered that resolution, and got away with it because he knew well or rather was a good friend of both George W. Bush and Jacques Chirac, no small feat.

I speculated at that time: The good news is that the hostages could be now closer to being set free, since France could use the very traditional diplomatic channels between states to put some pressure on Damascus. The bad news is that, in all cases, if the Syrian connection is proved, France will have to reconsider all its policy in the Middle East, based on appeasement, siding with Arafat in the Israelo-Palestinian conflict, and refusing to acknowledge the very existence of “rogue states”. An even more ominous scenario would be that the captors, to prevent exposure, decided to assassinate the hostages.

According to some versions, president Chirac was informed of the Syrian connection by his friend, the Lebanese primer minister Rafik Hariri.

Well, the hostages weren’t killed. Hariri was.

Already many people in Paris felt that something was very wrong when the two journalists were eventually set free by their captors and without anybody acknowledging publicly why they had been kidnapped in the first place –thinking about the rabidly anti-war position of the French government- and even less what had won their release. Nor do we know now why yet another French reporter, a celeb leftist woman writer for Libération, consitently against yankee imperialism, has been kidnapped one month ago in Bagdad and is still being held captive.

Now, the people who had Hariri killed used about 400 kg (ca 900 pounds) of high-grade explosive. Hardly the deed of an amateur…

The question now isn’t so much why Damascus wanted Hariri dead. The question is why now. My guess is the Lebanese election. The Syrian regime just can't afford a democratic election in Lebanon...

In any event, I perceive Hariri’s murder as a challenge to Washington and a warning to Paris. The problem with autocratic rogue regimes is that at a given moment they all seem to lose their mind. It can be rightly said that Hariri is yet another victim in the struggle between tyrants and democracy.

By the way, I am really sorry too. I liked the man.

Don't miss this very interesting (and telling) story by SAM F. GHATTAS (AP)

Why do I find Ghattas' story telling? Because of this paragraph:

At Hariri's Beirut residence Tuesday, long lines of mourners offered condolences to the family. Dignitaries also arrived to pay their respects,including Syrian Vice President Abdul-Halim Khaddam, a longtime friend; Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos; and Hariri's political ally, Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, head of the Maronite Catholic Church.

To read that Vice-President Abdul-Halim Khaddam was "a longtime friend" of Rafik Hariri leaves me stubbornly looking through my window at the heavy clouds hovering over Paris.

There is indeed a tradition in mob circles to send the biggest floral wreath to the victim’s funeral…

And then why, the presence of the self-styled Spanish minister for foreign affairs makes me shudder. Don't miss Khalid's comment below.

If you read French, don't miss Alexandre Adler's piece on the Hariri murder in today's Figaro!


Ce sont ces mêmes hommes – parmi lesquels figurent en bonne place les vieux associés sunnites d'Assad père : Farouk Chareh, le ministre des Affaires étrangères, et Abdel-Halim Khaddam, le vice-président de la République –, qui ont jeté toute leur énergie dans le soutien à l'insurrection irakienne, fournissant notamment à al-Zarqaoui et à une branche très prosaoudienne d'al-Qaida, le gîte et le couvert.

Khalid, someone agrees with you... I like Adler. His piece is until now the best and most credible one of all that I have read on this subject.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005


The Land of the Amiable Tyranny (1)
The Basque Conundrum Revisited


It’s been a while since I first had the idea of writing about the Basque Conundrum.

I felt it was an interesting subject. After all, terrorist groups in Western Europe are nowadays almost exclusively Islamic. What justifies the “almost” is precisely the murky Basque separatist group ETA (acronym of Basque Fatherland and Separation in the Basque language).

So I started to gather material and tried to sort it out in order to provide a sensible, well-thought-out vision of why the word Basque has become to terrorism what Sicilian has long been to organized crime: an unfair stereotype supported by a terrible factual reality.

The ETA has been active for at least 4 decades since it was launched in 60s with the support of the Communist block and is responsible for many hundreds of killings in the tiny Basque Country ( 2 M, about the size of the San Francisco area…). In the last ten years, Basque terrorists have gradually distanced themselves from their traditional Marxist origins and taken on an ideology of ethnical solidarity, inching progressively closer and closer to traditional Basque irredentism, largely based on unsullied lineage (no Jews, no Arabs, no dark-haired Southerners), blood groups, racial angles and the whole paraphernalia of 19th century Central European racialism, the sort of ideology you usually find among supporters of your run-of-the-mill Aryan Nation type of assortment.

I found the subject pretty manifold, too labyrinthine to explain for outsiders. I really felt that because of my Spanish roots I was too close to the trees to describe the forest for, say, someone from Singapore. I felt I needed some outside help and I found it via Coby Lubliners, a scientist at Berkeley by trade and a marvelous political observer and essay writer. So, I secured his permission to quote extensively from his essay “Mailbombs and Car Bombs: the Basque Conundrum” (Find here the whole essay, via Montmartre) to provide a sensible background for my own update on the situation, which I will give in a coming post. Let me just say that it is now my opinion that the Basque Country constitutes the most worrisome situation from a human rights point of view throughout Western Europe. The very last shelter (for the time being) of scientific racialism in the developed world, the one spot in the European Union where people are openly discriminated against because of their ethnical origins, often by local public servants.

Excerpts from “Mailbombs and Car Bombs: the Basque Conundrum” by Coby Lubliners (Find here the whole essay, via Montmartre)

"Euskal Herria" is the name by which Basque nationalists call the greater Basque Country, whose independence from Spain and France they seek. What provoked the mailbombing (against a nationalist web site) was outrage over the brutal killing--by the ultranationalist terrorist organization ETA--of a non-nationalist municipal councilor named Miguel Ángel Blanco in the Basque town of Ermua, along with a sense that the Web site, while not managed by ETA, was sympathetic to it. In the wake of the killing and the massive protests that it provoked, within the Basque Country and without, ETA declared a "truce," which it maintained for a year and a half, until, on January 21, 2000, a car bomb (ETA's favorite weapon) in Madrid killed an army officer, also named Blanco (blanco, incidentally, means 'target' in Spanish).

Basque nationalists are a definite minority in Euskal Herria. Even in the Basque Country in the narrower sense, that is, the Basque Autonomous Community (formerly the Basque Provinces) of Spain--which covers only about a third of the territory claimed by the nationalists)--they constitute at most half the population; in the Spanish Province of Navarre (the historic heartland of Basquedom) and in the French Basque region they are far fewer than that. That the Basque Autonomous Government has been headed, since its inception in 1979, by the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV)--the moderate wing of nationalism--is due largely to the division of the non-nationalists between socialists, radical leftists, and conservatives.

The PNV's moderation is expressed, above all, by its opposition to violence. During most of the 1980s and 1990s it kept its distance from ETA by not explicitly advocating independence, only a vague "self-determination," as well as by vigorously claiming all the advantages of the special tax status that the Spanish Constitution gives the Basque Country and Navarre, a status that has led the region from post-industrial depression to a renewed prosperity symbolized by the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum.

But the recent ETA truce led the PNV's leaders to believe that the association between full separatism and violence was no longer valid, and they committed themselves to joining forces for independence with ETA's political arm, Herri Batasuna (which now uses the name Euskal Herritarrok as a political party), and with a smaller moderate party, a PNV offshoot named Eusko Alkartasuna. Now, with the truce broken, only the next elections will tell what political price the PNV will have to pay for its gamble [Note.- The essay was written in 2000 JAH].

The Basque self-styled "national liberation movement" represented by ETA, which sprang up in the 1960s, was consciously modeled on the one of Northern Ireland, with the IRA as the armed branch and Sinn Féin as the political one. What the two have in common is not only organization but an ethnically based ideology, something that sets them apart from other nationalist movements in the West.

Civic and ethnic nationalism

Over the past century it has generally been recognized by political thinkers, especially German and British ones, that there is a drastic difference between East (eastern Europe and most of Asia) and West (western Europe and the territories settled by its emigrants) in what is meant by a nation. The Austrian churchman, political scientist and statesman Ignaz Seipel went so far as to assert that "Europe is divided by a line which separates two entirely different conceptions of the idea of the 'Nation.' On one side of the line are the peoples for whom the state is everything, and who also understand national sentiment as a great enthusiasm for the state to which they, of their own free will, belong. On the other side of that line of demarcation, the sentiment of civilization, of a common tongue and a common origin, preponderates."

Various terms have been used for the two concepts: "state nation" and "cultural nation" (F. Meinecke), "political" and "personal" nation (C. A. Macartney), "territorial or civic" and "ethnic" nation (A. D. Smith). Smith takes pains to label the former as "of course, a peculiarly Western conception of the nation." His avoidance of a reference to a state (which is characteristic of German thinkers on the subject, from F. J. Neumann to Jürgen Habermas) shows an awareness of Western communities that define themselves as nations on the basis of a territory which does not necessarily constitute a sovereign state (whether or not they may aspire to one): Scotland, Québec, Catalonia, Corsica, the Faeroes... And the nationalist movements of these communities are generally quite explicit in rejecting an ethnic basis for their aspirations. A spokesman for the Scottish National Party, for example, has said flatly: "Ours is a civic nationalism, based on historic borders rather than ethnic blood rights." The Parti Québécois proclaims Quebec to be "a pluralistic society," and guarantees that under sovereignty the language rights of les Québécoises et Québécois de langue anglaise will be fully protected. And in Corsica, the Regional Assembly has defined "the Corsican people" (le peuple corse) as "a living historical and cultural community comprising all those who are Corsicans by origin and Corsicans by adoption."
It is probably no coincidence that these nationalist movements have been, unlike their ethnic counterparts in the East, largely nonviolent, with the possible exception of Corsica. For it's quite a different matter to regard your neighbor, even if he speaks a different language or practices a different religion, as a member of your nation, and to see him as one of "the others" (think Chechnya, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Indonesia...).

The exception of Corsica is, in fact, more apparent than real. The violence of the Corsican National Liberation Front (FLNC) has been, in the words of the Corsican historian R. Caratini, "mainly strategic," its purpose being more to attract attention to the island's plight than to terrorize. "Homicidal violence is extremely rare," he writes, "and its political character is debatable and debated." Indeed, what violence there is (as another Corsican, G. X. Culioli, has written) cannot be separated from the lawlessness that has been endemic on the island for centuries, with bloody conflicts between north and south and among various mafia-type organizations. ....In the Spanish Basque region too, what had been a civic movement, led by the thoroughly Hispanicized urban bourgeoisie and called fuerismo, in defense of the fueros (the royal charters by which the Basque Provinces and Navarre enjoyed a degree of autonomy unlike any other province, and which were threatened by the increasing centralization in Madrid), was transformed into an ethnic one by a scion of that bourgeoisie named Sabino Arana.

Arana was a devout Catholic who was unhappy with the way the fueros had evolved into purely economic entitlements (conciertos económicos)--which, as I mentioned above, are maintained in the present Spanish Constitution--that led to a rapid industrialization of the region and the consequent immigration of large numbers of maketos (non-Basques). It was in reaction to the overly materialistic (in his view) fuerismo that in 1897 he founded the PNV, and its chief goal was the independence of the "Basque race" in its homeland. The mythology surrounding the racial notion of Basque identity is largely Arana's creation.

The primordial symbol of this identity is, of course, the Basque language--which is not related to any other--but since a great many Basques, especially urban ones like Arana himself, had lost the actual use of their language, a different identifying badge had to be found. It was to be the family name, a "true" Basque being one among whose forebears at least four Basque surnames could be found. (When Arana fell in love with an illiterate peasant girl name Nikole Achica-Allende, what concerned him was not their obvious social difference but the clearly Spanish "Allende" part of her family name, which he found to his joy, after thoroughly combing her parish records, to be merely a recent addition intended to distinguish her family--impeccably Basque--from another Achica family.) Other supposedly singular aspects of the race have been adduced by the ideologues of Basque nationalism, for example blood type (by the PNV's current leader, Xabier Arzalluz) or brain size.

Basque and Spanish politics

In purely political terms, the PNV is of the Christian Democratic persuasion, while ETA and its affiliates call themselves socialist. The PNV has, moreover, oscillated throughout the 20th century (since Arana's death in 1903) between the goals of independence and of economically advantageous autonomy within Spain, including support of whichever party rules in Madrid in exchange for concessions (a deal that has been eagerly embraced by both socialists and conservatives). To ETA, however, the latter orientation is treasonous, and whenever it has prevailed, the PNV has not been spared from ETA's violence. Indeed, many cynical observers attribute to self-protection the PNV's latest swing toward independence.

Next Posts:

The Land of the Amiable Tyranny (2)
Life, Death, Bigotry and Gastronomy

The Land of the Amiable Tyranny (3)
From Bilbao to Boise, Idaho

Thursday, February 03, 2005


Spanish MOD Secret Trip to Meet Venezuelan Supremo. Strange…


The Spanish government of señor Zapatero is a true can of worms. Now, its trouble Minister of Defense, Jose Bono, a self-styled populist, didn’t find anything better to do that indulging into a secret visit to the Venezuelan Supremo Hugo Chavez in his Caracas court. News of the eventually leaked to the Spanish press.

Why? What had they to talk about that wasn’t to be publicly acknowledged?

[The image here doesn't belong to the secret visit, it was taken in Toledo during the Supremo's visit to Spain]

Rumors in Madrid have it that the Spaniard eagerly wanted to sell weapons to Chavez, who is just now looking for trouble with neighboring Colombia by letting the (Colombian) narcoguerrilla to use Venezuela as a sanctuary when on the run. In fact, one of the first decisions of Mr. Zapatero upon inauguration was to cancel the (hugue) sale of Spanish armored vehicles to Colombia… just to show what side are they on? I tend to believe that the cancallation wasn't a coincidence.

The Colombian government isn’t amused. They fear that the Spanish weapons sold to the Venezuelan strongman might, just might, find their way to the FARC narcoguerrilla.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Euro Media: The Other Losers in Iraq

The people in Iraq were the big winners on their election last Sunday and the European media were among the obvious losers, along with Zarqawi and his suicide bombers.

Despite all the gloom-and-doom reporting about Iraq, and the (self-serving) calls to adjourn the election, it can now be argued that President Bush's strategy to stay the course worked beyond most people’s expectations, including my own. It will be ludicrous for anyone to insist, in the face of what happened on January 30, that they were against the Allied intervention ot of love and concern for the people in Iraq. Thanks to that intervention they were allowed to vote and vote they did.

Media coverage in Europe, with its implacable highlighting on violence and bad news out of Iraq, had suggested that the election was going to be a calamity. The terrorists were on the march, coalition troops couldn't provide security, and Iraqi forces weren’t willing or able to protect voters.

Happily enough, Iraqis who turned out to vote must not have been watching French or Spanish TV. If they had, they would have seen local pundits saying that the Iraqi election was not fully legitimate because some people from terrorist-infested areas might not go to the polls after all. It was another one demoralizing message after the other. They just sounded like they wanted the election in Iraq to fail someway, somehow, they wanted it to be an avengement of their rout, their embarrassment, in the US presidential election three months ago.

Iraqis must also not read Le Monde, which had mused about how the US administration had "foolishly" passed up opportunities to postpone the election. The Spanish press bluntly criticized Bush for "discrediting democracy" in the Middle East.

One day after the election, they all paid (very tight) lip service to the turnout that appeared that "may have exceeded the most optimistic predictions." For one day or so at least, because almost immediately, without the tally being even roughly estimated, they produced a new mantra about the election not being legitimate because of low turn-out in the Sunni areas of the country.

This remarkably stupid coverage won’t pay any tribute to the U.S. and allied troops –including a dozen or so Spaniards- who fought and died to make that triumph of democracy possible. Le Monde’s headline was telling of that repugnance to recognize that a success had taken place: “The relative success of the election etc.” Of course, there weren’t any French reporters in Iraq to describe how impressed they were by the Iraqi turnout. They were all safely covering the election from Amman from where they could remorselessly ignore the reality that was unfolding before their eyes (on the TV screens at the hotels).

The French and Spanish people are being misled by a substantial share of the local media. Before the election, Iraq was depicted as a hopeless case, and doomsday sayers mumbled about how insensible it was not to postpone (at the very least) the election. Now they stop short of saying that the millions of Iraqis who braved the terrorists’ threats were just paid actors who were out there to vote on orders to discredit Le Monde and El Pais.

But despite all their efforts, thanks to the Iraqi voter turnout the European public was given a breathtaking glimpse into the real situation on the ground. Into the truth, if you prefer. They may wonder why had this "other Iraq" been ignored for so long? Why had the news been so tilted in favor of the terrorists?

Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction weren’t found, but the election in Iraq makes it impossible to deny the reality of the US and its allies having freed the Iraqi people from tyranny. As undeniable as the worrying reality of an ideology driven unreliable Euro media. Now Europeans can see for themselves that the media were in fact misleading them about the real state of mind of the Iraqis.

The sixty-four-thousand-dollar questions Europeans should put to their media include:

  • Why didn’t you tell us that Iraqis wanted so badly a democratic government?

  • Why did you always focus on the death and destruction and never on the Iraqi craving for democratic freedom?

  • Why did you always put the emphasis on the terrorist "insurgents" and not the value of the mission to bring freedom to the people of Iraq?

Don't expect any answers from Euro media soon.

It's now obvious that the Iraqis could have put the very same questions to the very same people.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Señor Mañana, a Tale of Truth, al Qaeda, Norwegians and Poles

I have now a couple of assignments in Spain, so excuse me if I become a little bit mono-thematic. I'm sort of becoming a Zapapundit. God help me.

This post is dedicated to Diplomad, Dear Barcepundit and, very specially, to André Breton [ Link 2 on André Breton ] . It has a serious, well, sort of, first half. And then a delirious second half on a memorable diplomatic gaffe (here's to you, André).

I mean, I never had an enormous respect for Spanish prime minister JLR Zapatero’s intellectual capabilities. And yes, I have been around long enough to know that systematically taking a politician’s word at face value is a sure receipt for journalistic catastrophe. But I really jumped off my seat, listening to Señor Mañana in front of the self-styled parliamentary Committee on the terrorist attacks in Madrid last March 11.

He was there trying to outperform his predecessor, Jose María Aznar, and, among other groovy things, he contributed this pearl to the thick Book of Political Verbal Atrocities:
  • He ardently condemned the notion, which he acknoledged was held in some parts of the world, that Spain surrendered to terrorism when it voted him into office three days after the bombings.

"It is inconceivable that someone can imagine that the citizens of Spain bowed to the wishes of terrorists," he said.

"It is brutal, it is unacceptable," Zapatero stressed, "to call a brave people cowards."

A pity that he forgot to mention this 42-page document called "Jihadi Iraq, Hopes and Dangers" found on radical islamist websites by researchers at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment (FFI). [If you speak Arabic, here you heve the original]

Let me quote the Brynjar Lia and Thomas Hegghamme, the Norwegian analysts, summarizing the document:

  • The document then analyses three countries (Britain, Spain and Poland) in depth, with a view to identifying the weakest link or the domino piece most likely to fall first. The author provides a surprisingly informed and nuanced analysis of the domestic political map in each country. He argues that each country will react differently to violent attacks against its forces because of domestic political factors:

  • Poland, for example, is unlikely to withdraw from the coalition because there is political consensus on foreign policy, and the country has a very high tolerance for human casualties.

  • Britain is easier to force out of Iraq, because the popular opposition to the war and the occupation is so high. However, the author estimates that Britain will only withdraw from Iraq in one of two cases: either if Britain suffers significant human casualties in Iraq or if Spain and Italy withdraws first.

  • Spain on the other hand is very vulnerable to attacks on its forces, primarily because public opposition to the war is almost total, and the government is virtually on its own on this issue. The author therefore identifies Spain as the weakest link in the coalition.”
The last sentences of al Qaeda’s remarkable analysis of the Spanish political situation were anything but uninteresting for a man in charge of governing Spain after Aznar:

"We think that the Spanish government could not tolerate more than two, maximum three blows, after which it will have to withdraw as a result of popular pressure. If its troops still remain in Iraq after these blows, then the victory of the Socialist Party is almost secured, and the withdrawal of the Spanish forces will be on its electoral programme.

Lastly, we are emphasize that a withdrawal of the Spanish or Italian forces from Iraq would put huge pressure on the British presence (in Iraq), a pressure that Toni Blair might not be able to withstand, and hence the domino tiles would fall quickly. Yet, the basic problem of making the first tile fall still remains."

Now, one can wonder why, how, through which particular channels, did the terrorists get the news that allowed them to write “the withdrawal of the Spanish forces will be on its electoral programme.” Could it be thinkable that some of the good-willed Socialists who participated in the anti-war agitation in Spain, (more than probably profusely funded by Saddam Hussein through the oil-for-food scam), had some idea about Mr. Zapatero’s electoral promises? Could it?

Perhaps Mr. Zapatero believes his own words and he can’t conceive “that someone can imagine that the citizens of Spain” could bow to the wishes of terrorists, but fact is that the al Qaeda analysts not only conceived it but made their point rather brilliantly and, well, their assessment that “victory of the Socialist Party is almost secured” proved very right two hundred dead Spaniards later…

I don’t know if anyone has reckoned the fact that the only one electoral promise that Mr. Zapatero has scrupulously fulfilled was to withdraw the Spanish troops from Iraq a lot faster than decorum advised. Well, you can’t make a silk purse out of sow’s ear… He was supposed (before the attacks, that is) to lose the election, so nobody in the Socialist Party really cared to come up with a normally witted and competent candidate.

The Polish Non Adventure of Señor Mañana

Talk about a newsmaker. He never rests. He now has irked the Poles, who in fact were already pretty heated at him since his heroic withdrawal from Iraq: the Spanish troops were under Polish command and he didn’t care to warn them in advance that he was letting them down.

Now, the day after his appearance in the Spanish parliament he was due in Warsaw to meet with the Polish PM, Marek Belka. But he felt exhausted after his mastery lesson in political systematic thought. So he just decided to tell Mr. Belka that please, excuse me, I’m not going. Just a little bit tired, you know… And he did that four and a half hours prior to his scheduled arrival to Warsaw, with the honor guard already in order of review. A prowess in diplomatic frankness…

PM Marek Belka Waiting for Zapatero

The Poles were astounded. But they became outright flabbergasted, when someone checked out the press kit that the Spanish ministry of Foreign Affairs had distributed to the Spanish reporters who were to cover the talks (You know, some nosey-newsy reporter curious about what those caballeros may know about us). In the kit, it was (still is) said that Señor Zapatero is (well, was) to meet with Prime Minister Leszek Millar. Biography and all. The only detail was that Mr. Miller (not Millar) isn't the prime minister any longer, the one now, happily in office since May, is Mr. Belka. Mr. Belka wasn't amused.

Polish humor sometimes reminds of English humor, only with that melancholic touch that comes from the subtle differences from Scotch to Wyborowa vodka. A Polish minister confided to journalists that knowing the Spanish Prime Minister’s record he wasn’t that surprised that Mr. Zapatero didn’t know who he was going to meet in Poland as much as of the fact that he didn’t want to meet him. Verbatim, via a friend from Gazeta Wyborcza.

To the story does belong that Mr. Belka can comfort himself with the thought that he isn’t the first one who has been left there waiting for señor Zapatero. The list grows: in June he left without warning or explanation the Istambul summit (insiders said it was because George W. didn’t want to meet him), in October it was the turn of the President of Portugal (Zapatero decided without warning to attend a party meeting instead), in November a trip to Moscow was cancelled without explanation (Putin had already the caviar on the ice) and when the Spaniard finally got himself on the plane he had Putin waiting one hour for him in the Russian winter.

The rumor mill in Madrid pretends that Señor Mañana panics when he’s to meet with someone he thinks doen’t like him or if he expects the conversation to be unpleasant…

Now, class… who’s the daftest politiko in Europe? The answer, mañana.

Winds of Change

An example: this analysis of the March 11th attacks in Madrid, written 5 days later! Imposing.

Inspiring, passionate and decent

Iraq, the Model
A very goodview of what is going on in Iraq by Mohammad and Omar, two brothers... Check it out if you're fed up with the EuroPress

The Patriot Debates
Many provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act will expire at the end of 2005. This forum is devoted to civil and informed debate about these provisions and whether they should be renewed.

A serious visit to jihadist ideology

Michelle Malkin
Her column appears in nearly 200 US papers nationwide. Pretty conservative AND very articulate. I like her.

From Barcelona. I like it! And, by the way, it's getting better every day.

Across the Bay
Very good blog by Tony, an expert in in Ancient Near Eastern Studies with focus on Semitic Linguistics, Ancient Levantine history, religion....

Allah Pundit
It's quite consevative, but really funny!

Bjørn Stærk's blog
In the NetWar since 2001, this norwegian wonderkid is just worth reading.

Norman Geras's blog
I mean, READ HIM. He's bright, insightful and knows a lot about Marxism and la condition humaine... Yeeees! (thanks Stygius).

Dan Darling
Excellent Open Source analysis of al Qaeda!

Bilingual (FR&EN) and passionate!

The Politburo Diktat
Forthrightly, frankly, fully funny, comrades. Neo-Komintern Urgh.

Insults for use by the ideologically informed
Nice page of Real Socialist Nostalgia. Check it out, comrade!

Letters From New York City
Michele tells it from the place where the world changed three years ago.

Alphabet City by Robert Stevens
Very well informed "from the perimeter of Manhattan ;-)" Impresive collection of links.

Colt's Eurabia
If you want to know and follow politically incorrect debate, red it!
His motto is:"...the only secure basis for oligarchy is collectivism." George Orwell

Monitoring Media Coverage of the War On Terror

Political Correctness Watch
John Ray, a former university teacher gone blogger monitors political correctness around the globe. When you needthat cheering information that somewhere else it's even worse than in your home town...


Free Lance Corner
Emilio Alonso, madrileño sin pelos en la pluma, liberal y extremadamente sensato.

Guerra Eterna en Oriente Medio
Reportero español polí­ticamente correcto, buena gente y suavemente partisano

Español residente en Parí­s, liberal, vasco, polí­ticamente incorrecto, reflexiona sobre la situación en Euskadi (Paí­s Vasco)

Carmelo Jordá
Otro español, buen analista y políticamente incorrecto. Pertenece a la nueva ola de jovenes liberales (en el sentido europeo) que empiezan a poner en cuestión todo en Europa

Una Temporada en el Infierno
Interesante blog de Juan Pedro Quiñonero, escritor y periodista español que merece dos lecturas.

Location: Paris, France

I have been a journalist since I was 22. For a (long) while I worked as a reporter for the Swedish, Spanish (I was born in Spain) and American media, covering international affairs... After 1991 I recycled myself to the business press.

 A Must Read!
Note that on the above page you have BOTH a link to buy the book (US$ 20) AND
the links to all the 6 chapters in PDF for FREE.

Contents (PDF)
Chapter One: Introduction
Chapter Two: Conceptual Outlines
Chapter Three: A World in Flux - Ripe for Netwar Chapter Four: Varieties of Netwar
Chapter Five: Challenges for U.S Policy and Organization
Chapter Six: Implications for U.S. Doctrine and Strategy

And, by the way...
I love NYC French Hostages "Social Capital" "King Juan carlos" Barcelona Stockholm Iraq Bagdad Basora Volunteer shia Muqtada al-Sadr Islam Chirac Iraq Ossama Osama Bin laden Markawi Colin Powell London President Bush Paris Tony Blair Blog Allawi Geopolitics Iraqi police "Foreign Affairs" John Kerry campaign Policy Poll Bush Kerry Kofi China Madrid Japan warfare Sun-Tzu Unrestricted asymmetric strategy Survey Bush Kerry perception management Hispanic voters Sarkozy Chalabi oil for food Lebanon Donald Rumsfeld Beirut Pentagon marines Robert Kagan weapons neocon ideology neoconservative Alamut White House preventive Congress Washington Chicago New York Los Angeles Miami San Francisco Seattle California Illinois Massachussets Portland Aznar Zapatero Moratinos Saddam Syria