The case against a US retreat from international development

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF)

 

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

The case against a US retreat from international development

John R. Allen

As an instrument for peace, prosperity, and human advancement, U.S. foreign assistance constitutes one of the most important examples of American compassion. Since the Marshall Plan allowed hard hit citizens and enterprises to return to normalcy after World War II, advancing a new world order in the process, America has embraced its role as a global development leader.

Author

Yet today, aid—and with it, U.S. global leadership—are under threat.

Invigorating U.S. Leadership in Global Development” was the theme of the August 1-3 Brookings Blum Roundtable, which I was fortunate to attend. Now in its fifteenth year, the event annually explores various facets of international development, poverty reduction, and foreign assistance. While there, I heard from business leaders, heads of prominent nongovernmental organizations, lead budget and aid specialists from the U.S. government, and researchers about practical ways of solving big challenges—from supporting refugees, to strengthening fragile states, to making progress on the widely endorsed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Questions about filling development financing gaps and advancing U.S. leadership through multilateral participation were discussed as well.

One of the threads that ran throughout the three-day roundtable discussion was the distinction between U.S. leadership and American leadership. At a time when there is a retrenchment of global engagement and leadership by segments of the U.S. government, hundreds and thousands of organizations across the country—state and local governments, universities, civil organizations like Rotary and Kiwanis, NGOs, corporations—are actively engaged outside our borders. These groups provide an enduring form of U.S. global leadership on issues from human rights, to relief from natural disasters, to climate change.

I’ve always believed the leading edge of America’s influence is defined through our diplomacy and our foreign assistance. Underlying this is America’s leadership as a generous nation imbued with a humanitarian sense of responsibility. Yet today’s political context means we are rowing against a tide of nativism and populism. Even though grassroots and grass-tops support for international development abounds at the subnational level and among some federal government agencies, our current transactional approach to international relations is eroding America’s global reach. And if we retreat too far, our country’s moral authority will also slip away and be filled eagerly by other forces in the world, not least of all China. In the end, nature and foreign affairs both abhor vacuums.

THE ROLE OF THE SDGS IN COUNTERING NEGATIVE MEGATRENDS

In a world beset by worrying demographic trends, rapid urbanization, climate change, and a transactional approach to international relations, the universally agreed-upon SDGs remain the critical roadmap for humanitarian and development activities.

Few goals are more important than eliminating poverty, exclusion, and hunger from the world, educating our children, protecting women from violence, or addressing today’s climate emergency. Any movement on these goals will make the world a safer place and progress will be overwhelmingly in the interest of our national security. If the U.S. Government spurns the SDGs, as it now appears to be doing, we will be doing so at our own peril. Indeed, the Trump administration’s intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty alone was a bad move in that direction.

My military experience taught me that the roots of radicalization are planted far upstream from the moment that someone picks up a weapon. Indeed, the roots of unrest, terrorism, and insurgency are often linked to hunger, poverty, and lack of opportunity—the very phenomena the SDGs are focused on. It is development solutions that address and can ultimately fix these problems, not military interventions.

An unstable security environment is often a direct result of the failure to satisfy human aspirations and yearnings.  Today’s unrest in the Middle East and across North Africa began in part with the rising up of young people who could no longer accept the realities of their human condition.

From a U.S. global leadership perspective, the more we align ourselves with these important and unifying international norms, the better will be the outcome, not just for the United States, but for the world. Homi Kharas’ brief, “U.S. global leadership through an SDG lens,” provides useful background on the topic. In addition, a new co-edited, co-authored Brookings book by Homi and a diverse set of external contributors, “From Summits to Solutions: Innovations in Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals,” explores distinct solutions related to everything from expanding women’s opportunities to preserving the oceans and setting goals in wealthy countries.

THE SECURITY-DEVELOPMENT NEXUS

In all my missions—whether in Bosnia, Iraq, or Afghanistan—I was mindful that certain fragile states cannot be permitted to fail because the strategic cost of inaction would be too great. In such instances, a coordinated approach between our security assistance and foreign assistance is essential.

In 2016 Jim Stavridis, my classmate from Annapolis, and I wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Expanding the U.S. Military’s Smart-Power Toolbox.”  The piece was focused on the need for combatant commanders to have the requisite authority to allocate their resources so as to leverage the full capabilities of military, diplomatic and development tools integrated with their mission. The authority we sought would have included funding for USAID programs to support youth-development and conflict-mitigation in places like Agadez, Niger, where better opportunities could dissuade young people from joining terrorist groups.

On the multilateral front, I recently joined World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim at a public event, where we highlighted the broad need to treat development, security, and humanitarian assistance in a more integrated way. Brookings and the World Bank are committed to working together in this area through research and targeted engagement aimed at bringing together diverse actors working on fragile states.

In terms of explaining the linkages between foreign aid and global security, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, an NGO/business/retired military network, is doing terrific work. Fanning out to cities around the U.S., they advocate for adequately resourcing our development and diplomacy activities and I have the privilege of sitting on their National Security Advisory Council. I commend the work of Liz Schrayer, USGLC president and CEO, whose round table brief “Foreign Assistance in the America First Era” outlines the bipartisan support for the development work in the Trump administration.

WOMEN HOLD UP HALF THE SKY

A key takeaway from the 2018 round table was how extraordinarily important women are in conflict resolution, and in achieving development objectives. Indeed, peace outcomes from conflict that involve women typically have a much longer or a much greater probability of success than those that only engage men.

Women in some of the toughest places exhibit entrepreneurial instincts that in many cases far outstrip those of men, making them an excellent investment option. I saw this firsthand in Iraq and Afghanistan, where we made microloans available to women all over the country. Invariably those loans were paid back on time or early and the outcomes stimulated economic progress on the ground, which then reduced conflict and violence.

So the whole idea of future military commanders working closely with USAID and State Department and similar organizations, NGOs, and others, to try to find a way to empower women at the civil society level and women in the governments in these countries is well on track, and should be a “doctrinal” approach as we go forward. It is imperative we expand support for programs and projects that empower women in these societies.

FORGING AHEAD

The global development agenda is daunting, but practical reforms and interventions can ensure progress. Making inroads in tackling poverty and other big problems requires working with the private sector, with civil society organizations, and with other diverse players across the security and development communities. If we navigate wisely and hold to a rational, hopeful outlook, we can achieve great things for America and for the world.

For its part, Brookings will continue researching fragility and what it will take to leave no one behind in the toughest places. Scholars are planning additional mini-roundtables on fragility and are completing a research project on multilateral and international organizations. Work on measuring current trends and gaps on the SDGs is ongoing, along with plans for a future book on dealing with the furthest left behind in the race to meet the SDGs.

This blog was first launched in September 2013 by the World Bank in an effort to hold governments more accountable to poor people and offer solutions to the most prominent development challenges. Continuing this goal, Future Development was re-launched in January 2015 at brookings.edu.

For archived content, visit worldbank.org »

Morocco: Truth History And Knowledge Of This North African Nation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA WORLD FACT BOOK)

 

Morocco

Introduction In 788, about a century after the Arab conquest of North Africa, successive Moorish dynasties began to rule in Morocco. In the 16th century, the Sa’adi monarchy, particularly under Ahmad AL-MANSUR (1578-1603), repelled foreign invaders and inaugurated a golden age. In 1860, Spain occupied northern Morocco and ushered in a half century of trade rivalry among European powers that saw Morocco’s sovereignty steadily erode; in 1912, the French imposed a protectorate over the country. A protracted independence struggle with France ended successfully in 1956. The internationalized city of Tangier and most Spanish possessions were turned over to the new country that same year. Morocco virtually annexed Western Sahara during the late 1970s, but final resolution on the status of the territory remains unresolved. Gradual political reforms in the 1990s resulted in the establishment of a bicameral legislature, which first met in 1997. Improvements in human rights have occurred and there is a largely free press. Despite the continuing reforms, ultimate authority remains in the hands of the monarch.
History Berber Morocco

The area of modern Morocco has been inhabited since Neolithic times, at least 8000 BC, as attested by signs of the Capsian culture, in a time when the Maghreb was less arid than it is today. Many theorists believe the Amazigh people, commonly referred to as Berber), probably arrived at roughly the same time as agriculture. Modern genetic analyses have confirmed that various populations have contributed to the present-day population, including (in addition to the main Berber and Arab groups) Jews and sub-Saharan Africans. The Berbers, often referred to in modern ethnic activist circles as “Amazigh” are more commonly known as “Berber” or by their regional ethnic identity, such as Chleuh. In the classical period, Morocco was known as Mauretania, although this should not be confused with the modern country of Mauritania.

Roman and pre-Roman Morocco

North Africa and Morocco were slowly drawn into the wider emerging Mediterranean world by Phoenician trading colonies and settlements in the late Classical period. The arrival of Phoenicians heralded a long engagement with the wider Mediterranean, as this strategic region formed part of the Roman Empire, as Mauretania Tingitana. In the fifth century, as the Roman Empire declined, the region fell to the Vandals, Visigoths, and then Byzantine Greeks in rapid succession. During this time, however, the high mountains of most of modern Morocco remained unsubdued, and stayed in the hands of their Berber inhabitants.

Medieval Morocco

By the seventh century, Islamic expansion was at its greatest. In 670 AD, the first Islamic conquest of the North African coastal plain took place under Uqba ibn Nafi, a general serving under the Umayyads of Damascus. His delegates went to what is now Morocco, which he called “Maghreb al Aqsa” or “The Far West,” in the year 683. The delegates supported the assimilation process that took about a century.

What became modern Morocco in the seventh century, was an area of Berbers influenced by the Arabs, who brought their customs, culture, and Islam, to which most of the Berbers converted, forming states and kingdoms such as the Kingdom of Nekor and Barghawata, sometimes after long-running series of civil wars. Under Idris ibn Abdallah who founded the Idrisid Dynasty, the country soon cut ties and broke away from the control of the distant Abbasid caliphs in Baghdad and the Umayyad rule in Al-Andalus. The Idrisids established Fes as their capital and Morocco became a centre of learning and a major regional power.

After the reign of the Idrisids, Arab settlers lost political control in the region of Morocco. After adopting Islam, Berber dynasties formed governments and reigned over the country. Morocco would reach its height under these Berber dynasties that replaced the Arab Idrisids after the 11th century. The Almoravids, the Almohads, then the Marinid and finally the Saadi dynasties would see Morocco rule most of Northwest Africa, as well as large sections of Islamic Iberia, or Al-Andalus.

Alaouite Dynasty 1666–1912

After the Saadi, the Arab Alaouite Dynasty eventually gained control. Morocco was facing aggression from Spain and the Ottoman Empire that was sweeping westward. The Alaouites succeeded in stabilizing their position, and while the kingdom was smaller than previous ones in the region, it remained quite wealthy. In 1684, they annexed Tangier.

Morocco was the first nation to recognize the fledgling United States as an independent nation in 1777. In the beginning of the American Revolution, American merchant ships were subject to attack by the Barbary Pirates while sailing the Atlantic Ocean. At this time, American envoys tried to obtain protection from European powers, but to no avail. On 20 December 1777, Morocco’s Sultan Mohammed III declared that the American merchant ships would be under the protection of the sultanate and could thus enjoy safe passage.

The Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship stands as the U.S.’s oldest non-broken friendship treaty. Signed by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, it has been in continuous effect since 1786. Following the reorganization of the U.S. federal government upon the 1787 Constitution, President George Washington wrote a now venerated letter to the Sultan Sidi Mohamed strengthening the ties between the two countries. The United States legation (consulate) in Tangier is the first property the American government ever owned abroad.[8] The building now houses the Tangier American Legation Museum.

European influence

Successful Portuguese efforts to invade and control the Atlantic coast in the fifteenth century did not profoundly affect the Mediterranean heart of Morocco. After the Napoleonic Wars, Egypt and the North African maghreb became increasingly ungovernable from Istanbul, the resort of pirates under local beys, and as Europe industrialized, an increasingly prized potential for colonization. The Maghreb had far greater proven wealth than the unknown rest of Africa and a location of strategic importance affecting the exit from the Mediterranean. For the first time, Morocco became a state of some interest in itself to the European Powers. France showed a strong interest in Morocco as early as 1830.[9] Recognition by the United Kingdom in 1904 of France’s sphere of influence in Morocco provoked a German reaction; the crisis of June 1905 was resolved at the Algeciras Conference, Spain in 1906, which formalized France’s “special position” and entrusted policing of Morocco to France and Spain jointly. A second Moroccan crisis provoked by Berlin, increased tensions between European powers. The Treaty of Fez (signed on March 30, 1912) made Morocco a protectorate of France. By the same treaty, Spain assumed the role of protecting power over the northern and southern Saharan zones on November 27 that year.

Many Moroccan soldiers (Goumieres) served in the French army in both World War I and World War II, and in the Spanish Nationalist Army in the Spanish Civil War and after (Regulares).

Resistance

Nationalist political parties, which subsequently arose under the French protectorate, based their arguments for Moroccan independence on such World War II declarations as the Atlantic Charter (a joint U.S.-British statement that set forth, among other things, the right of all people to choose the form of government under which they live). A manifesto of the Istiqlal Party (Independence party in English) in 1944 was one of the earliest public demands for independence. That party subsequently provided most of the leadership for the nationalist movement.

France’s exile of Sultan Mohammed V in 1953 to Madagascar and his replacement by the unpopular Mohammed Ben Aarafa, whose reign was perceived as illegitimate, sparked active opposition to the French protectorate all over the country. The most notable occurred in Oujda where Moroccans attacked French and other European residents in the streets. Operations by the newly created “Jaish al-tahrir” (Liberation Army), were launched on October 1, 1955. Jaish al-tahrir was created by “Comité de Libération du Maghreb Arabe” (Arab Maghreb Liberation Committee) in Cairo, Egypt to constitute a resistance movement against occupation. Its goal was the return of King Mohammed V and the liberation of Algeria and Tunisia as well. France allowed Mohammed V to return in 1955, and the negotiations that led to Moroccan independence began the following year.

All those events helped increase the degree of solidarity between the people and the newly returned king. For this reason, the revolution that Morocco knew was called “Taourat al-malik wa shaab” (The revolution of the King and the People) and it is celebrated every August 20.

Modern Morocco

On November 18, 2006, Morocco celebrated the 50th anniversary of its independence. Morocco recovered its political independence from France on March 2, 1956, and on April 7, France officially relinquished its protectorate. Through agreements with Spain in 1956 and 1958, Moroccan control over certain Spanish-ruled areas was restored, though attempts to claim other Spanish colonial possessions through military action were less successful. The internationalized city of Tangier was reintegrated with the signing of the Tangier Protocol on October 29, 1956 (see Tangier Crisis). Hassan II became King of Morocco on March 3, 1961. His early years of rule would be marked by political unrest. The Spanish enclave of Ifni in the south was reintegrated to the country in 1969. Morocco annexed the Western Sahara during the 1970s after demanding its reintegration from Spain since independence, but final resolution on the status of the territory remains unresolved. (See History of Western Sahara.)

Political reforms in the 1990s resulted in the establishment of a bicameral legislature in 1997. Morocco was granted Major non-NATO ally status by the United States in June 2004 and has signed free trade agreements with the United States and the European Union.

Geography Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Western Sahara
Geographic coordinates: 32 00 N, 5 00 W
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 446,550 sq km
land: 446,300 sq km
water: 250 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than California
Land boundaries: total: 2,017.9 km
border countries: Algeria 1,559 km, Western Sahara 443 km, Spain (Ceuta) 6.3 km, Spain (Melilla) 9.6 km
Coastline: 1,835 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: Mediterranean, becoming more extreme in the interior
Terrain: northern coast and interior are mountainous with large areas of bordering plateaus, intermontane valleys, and rich coastal plains
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Sebkha Tah -55 m
highest point: Jebel Toubkal 4,165 m
Natural resources: phosphates, iron ore, manganese, lead, zinc, fish, salt
Land use: arable land: 19%
permanent crops: 2%
other: 79% (2005)
Irrigated land: 14,450 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 29 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 12.6 cu km/yr (10%/3%/87%)
per capita: 400 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: northern mountains geologically unstable and subject to earthquakes; periodic droughts
Environment – current issues: land degradation/desertification (soil erosion resulting from farming of marginal areas, overgrazing, destruction of vegetation); water supplies contaminated by raw sewage; siltation of reservoirs; oil pollution of coastal waters
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: Environmental Modification, Law of the Sea
Geography – note: strategic location along Strait of Gibraltar
Politics Morocco is a de jure constitutional monarchy, with an elected parliament. The King of Morocco, with vast executive powers, can dissolve government and deploy the military, among other prerogatives. Opposition political parties are legal, and several have been formed in recent years.

Human rights and reforms

Morocco’s history after independence and in the beginning of the reign of Hassan II was marked by the period of political tensions between the monarchy and opposition parties. Those years of tension are labelled by the opposition as the Years of Lead. Politically motivated persecutions were common especially when Gen. Oufkir became responsible for home security.

However, during the last decade of the rule of King Hassan II and especially under the reign of Mohammed VI, and with the launch of Equity and Reconciliation Commission (IER) to investigate into the abuses committed in the name of the state, Morocco is trying to reconciliate with the victims. Many new laws and codes concerning all aspects of life are being launched. The most notable event was the creation of the Mudawana — a family code which was the first unique initiative of its kind in the Arab and Muslim world. The code gives women more rights. Other issues such as the abolition of capital punishment and the reform of the Moroccan nationality law are being debated. The Moroccan parliament is due to vote on these issues in spring 2007.

The 2003 Casablanca bombings and the need to fight the terrorist threat have led the government to pass a controversial anti-terrorism law that cracked down on terrorist suspects. Moroccan and international organisations continue to criticize the human rights situation in Morocco, mainly the arrests of suspected Islamist extremists during 2004 and 2005 related to 2003 Casablanca bombings, and in Western Sahara.

In mid-February 2007, a study published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies called “Arab Reform and Foreign Aid: Lessons from Morocco” concluded that Morocco provides a valuable lesson in political and economic reform, which others in the Arab world can draw on and that the Moroccan model confirms that it is possible to adopt both reforms simultaneously.

People Population: 34,343,219 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 30.5% (male 5,337,322/female 5,136,156)
15-64 years: 64.3% (male 11,015,409/female 11,069,038)
65 years and over: 5.2% (male 765,882/female 1,019,412) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 24.7 years
male: 24.1 years
female: 25.2 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.505% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 21.31 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 5.49 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.77 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.75 male(s)/female
total population: 0.99 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 38.22 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 41.74 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 34.53 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71.52 years
male: 69.16 years
female: 74 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.57 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.1% (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 15,000 (2001 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: NA
Nationality: noun: Moroccan(s)
adjective: Moroccan
Ethnic groups: Arab-Berber 99.1%, other 0.7%, Jewish 0.2%
Religions: Muslim 98.7%, Christian 1.1%, Jewish 0.2%
Languages: Arabic (official), Berber dialects, French often the language of business, government, and diplomacy
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 52.3%
male: 65.7%
female: 39.6% (2004 census)

Tunisia: The Truth Knowledge And The History Of

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE CIA FACT BOOK)

 

Tunisia

Introduction Rivalry between French and Italian interests in Tunisia culminated in a French invasion in 1881 and the creation of a protectorate. Agitation for independence in the decades following World War I was finally successful in getting the French to recognize Tunisia as an independent state in 1956. The country’s first president, Habib BOURGUIBA, established a strict one-party state. He dominated the country for 31 years, repressing Islamic fundamentalism and establishing rights for women unmatched by any other Arab nation. In November 1987, BOURGUIBA was removed from office and replaced by Zine el Abidine BEN ALI in a bloodless coup. BEN ALI is currently serving his fourth consecutive five-year term as president; the next elections are scheduled for October 2009. Tunisia has long taken a moderate, non-aligned stance in its foreign relations. Domestically, it has sought to defuse rising pressure for a more open political society.
History At the beginning of recorded history, Tunisia was inhabited by Berber tribes. Its coast was settled by Phoenicians starting as early as the 10th century BC. The city of Carthage was founded in the 9th century B.C. by settlers from Tyre, now in modern day Lebanon. Legend says that Dido founded the city in 814 B.C., as retold in by the Greek writer Timaeus of Tauromenium. The settlers of Carthage brought their culture and religion from the Phoenicians and other Canaanites.

After a series of wars with Greek city-states of Sicily in the 5th century BC, Carthage rose to power and eventually became the dominant civilization in the Western Mediterranean. The people of Carthage worshipped a pantheon of Middle Eastern gods including Baal and Tanit. Tanit’s symbol, a simple female figure with extended arms and long dress, is a popular icon found in ancient sites. The founders of Carthage also established a Tophet which was altered in Roman times.

Though the Romans referred to the new empire growing in the city of Carthage as Punic or Phoenician, the empire built around Carthage was an independent political entity from the other Phoenician settlements in the Western Mediterranean.

A Carthaginian invasion of Italy led by Hannibal during the Second Punic War, one of a series of wars with Rome, nearly crippled the rise of the Roman Empire. Carthage was eventually conquered by Rome in the 2nd century BC, a turning point which led to ancient Mediterranean civilization having been influenced mainly by European instead of African cultures. After the Roman conquest, the region became one of the granaries of Rome, and was Latinized and Christianized. It was conquered by the Vandals in the 5th century AD and reconquered by the commander Belisarius in the 6th century during the rule of Byzantine emperor Justinian.

In the 7th century the region was conquered by Arab Muslims, who founded the city of Kairouan which became the first city of Islam in North Africa. Tunisia flourished under Arab rule. Extensive irrigation installations were constructed to supply towns with water and promote agriculture (especially olive production). This prosperity permitted luxurious court life and was marked by the construction of new Palace cities such as al-Abassiya (809) and Raqadda (877). Successive Muslim dynasties ruled Tunisia (Ifriqiya at the time) with occasional instabilities caused mainly by Berber rebellions[citation needed]; of these reigns we can cite the Aghlabids (800-900) and Fatimids (909-972). After conquering Cairo, Fatimids abandoned North Africa to the local Zirids (Tunisia and parts of Eastern Algeria, 972-1148) and Hammadid (Central and eastern Algeria, 1015-1152). North Africa was submerged by their quarrels; political instability was connected to the decline of Tunisian trade and agriculture. In addition the invasion of Tunisia by Banu Hilal, a warlike Arab Bedouin tribes encouraged by Fatimids of Egypt to seize North Africa, sent the region’s urban and economic life into further decline. The Arab historian Ibn Khaldun wrote that the lands ravaged by Banu Hilal invaders had become completely arid desert.

The coasts were held briefly by the Normans of Sicily in the 12th century and the following Arab reconquest made the last Christians in Tunisia disappear. In 1159, Tunisia was conquered by the Almohad caliphs. They were succeeded by the Berber Hafsids (c.1230 – 1574), under whom Tunisia prospered. In the late 16th century the coast became a pirate stronghold (see: Barbary States). In the last years of the Hafsids, Spain seized many of the coastal cities, but these were recovered by the Ottoman Empire. Under its Turkish governors, the Beys, Tunisia attained virtual independence. The Hussein dynasty of Beys, established in 1705, lasted until 1957. From 1881 – 1956 the country was under French colonization. European settlements in the country were actively encouraged; the number of French colonists grew from 34,000 in 1906 to 144,000 in 1945. In 1910 there were 105,000 Italians in Tunisia.

World War II

In 1942 – 1943 Tunisia was the scene of the first major operations by the Allied Forces (the British Empire and the United States) against the Axis Powers (Italy and Germany) during World War II. The main body of the British army, advancing from their victory in Battle of el-Alamein under the command of British Field Marshal Montgomery, pushed into Tunisia from the south. The US and other allies, following their invasions of Algeria and Morocco in Operation Torch, invaded from the west.

General Rommel, commander of the Axis forces in North Africa, had hoped to inflict a similar defeat on the allies in Tunisia as German forces did in the Battle of France in 1940. Before the battle for El-alemin, the allied forces had been forced to retreat toward Egypt. As such the battle for Tunisia was a major test for the allies. They figured out that in order to defeat Axis forces they would have to coordinate their actions and quickly recover from the inevitable setbacks the German-Italian forces would inflict.

On February 19, 1943, General Rommel launched an attack on the American forces in the Kasserine Pass region of Western Tunisia, hoping to inflict the kind of demoralizing and alliance-shattering defeat the Germans had dealt to Poland and France. The initial results were a disaster for the United States; the area around the Kasserine Pass is the site of many US war graves from that time.

However, the American forces were ultimately able to reverse their retreat. Having known a critical strategy in tank warfare, the Allies broke through the Mareth line on March 20, 1943. The allies subsequently linked up on April 8 and on May 2, 1943 the German-Italian Army in Tunisia surrendered. Thus, the United States, United Kingdom, Free French, and Polish (as well as other forces) were able to win a major battle as an allied army.

The battle, though often overshadowed by Stalingrad, represented a major allied victory of World War II largely because it forged the Alliance which would one day liberate Western Europe.

Geography Location: Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea, between Algeria and Libya
Geographic coordinates: 34 00 N, 9 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 163,610 sq km
land: 155,360 sq km
water: 8,250 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly larger than Georgia
Land boundaries: total: 1,424 km
border countries: Algeria 965 km, Libya 459 km
Coastline: 1,148 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 12 nm
Climate: temperate in north with mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers; desert in south
Terrain: mountains in north; hot, dry central plain; semiarid south merges into the Sahara
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Shatt al Gharsah -17 m
highest point: Jebel ech Chambi 1,544 m
Natural resources: petroleum, phosphates, iron ore, lead, zinc, salt
Land use: arable land: 17.05%
permanent crops: 13.08%
other: 69.87% (2005)
Irrigated land: 3,940 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 4.6 cu km (2003)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural): total: 2.64 cu km/yr (14%/4%/82%)
per capita: 261 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: NA
Environment – current issues: toxic and hazardous waste disposal is ineffective and poses health risks; water pollution from raw sewage; limited natural fresh water resources; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification
Environment – international agreements: party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Wetlands
signed, but not ratified: Marine Life Conservation
Geography – note: strategic location in central Mediterranean; Malta and Tunisia are discussing the commercial exploitation of the continental shelf between their countries, particularly for oil exploration
Religion The constitution declares Islam as the official state religion and requires the President to be Muslim. Tunisia also enjoys a significant degree of religious freedom, a right enshrined and protected in its constitution which guarantees the freedom to practice one’s religion. The country has a culture that encourages acceptance of other religions; religious freedom is widely practiced and the government is tolerant of religious freedom as long as it does not threaten national unity. Individual Tunisians are also tolerant of religious freedom and generally do not inquire about a person’s personal beliefs.

The majority of Tunisia’s population (98%) are Muslims, while 1% follow Christianity and the rest adhere to Judaism or other religions. However, there are no reliable data on the number of practicing Muslims. Some reports stipulate that atheists form the second largest group in the country (making it probably on top of any other North African country).

Tunisia has a sizable Christian community of around 25,000 adherents; mainly Catholics (20,000) and to a lesser degree Protestants. Judaism is the country’s third largest religion with 1,500 members. One-third of the Jewish population lives in and around the capital. The remainder lives on the island of Djerba, where the Jewish community dates back 2,500 years.

Djerba, an island in the Gulf of Gabès, is home to El Ghriba synagogue, which is one of the oldest synagogues in the world. Many Jews consider it a pilgrimage site with celebrations taking place there once every year.

Tunisia is one of the very few North African countries where synagogues and churches are open to worshipers.

People Population: 10,383,577 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 23.2% (male 1,246,105/female 1,167,379)
15-64 years: 69.7% (male 3,638,062/female 3,595,254)
65 years and over: 7.1% (male 345,590/female 391,187) (2008 est.)
Median age: total: 28.8 years
male: 28.2 years
female: 29.3 years (2008 est.)
Population growth rate: 0.989% (2008 est.)
Birth rate: 15.5 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Death rate: 5.17 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.44 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2008 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.88 male(s)/female
total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2008 est.)
Infant mortality rate: total: 23.43 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 25.7 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.98 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 75.56 years
male: 73.79 years
female: 77.46 years (2008 est.)
Total fertility rate: 1.73 children born/woman (2008 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: less than 0.1% (2005 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 1,000 (2003 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: fewer than 200 (2003 est.)
Nationality: noun: Tunisian(s)
adjective: Tunisian
Ethnic groups: Arab 98%, European 1%, Jewish and other 1%
Religions: Muslim 98%, Christian 1%, Jewish and other 1%
Languages: Arabic (official and one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce)
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 74.3%
male: 83.4%
female: 65.3% (2004 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education): total: 14 years
male: 13 years
female: 14 years (2006)
Education expenditures: 7.3% of GDP (2005)
Government Country name: conventional long form: Tunisian Republic
conventional short form: Tunisia
local long form: Al Jumhuriyah at Tunisiyah
local short form: Tunis
Government type: republic
Capital: name: Tunis
geographic coordinates: 36 48 N, 10 11 E
time difference: UTC+1 (6 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Administrative divisions: 24 governorates; Ariana (Aryanah), Beja (Bajah), Ben Arous (Bin ‘Arus), Bizerte (Banzart), Gabes (Qabis), Gafsa (Qafsah), Jendouba (Jundubah), Kairouan (Al Qayrawan), Kasserine (Al Qasrayn), Kebili (Qibili), Kef (Al Kaf), Mahdia (Al Mahdiyah), Manouba (Manubah), Medenine (Madanin), Monastir (Al Munastir), Nabeul (Nabul), Sfax (Safaqis), Sidi Bou Zid (Sidi Bu Zayd), Siliana (Silyanah), Sousse (Susah), Tataouine (Tatawin), Tozeur (Tawzar), Tunis, Zaghouan (Zaghwan)
Independence: 20 March 1956 (from France)
National holiday: Independence Day, 20 March (1956); also the anniversary of BEN ALI’s assumption of the presidency, 7 November (1987)
Constitution: 1 June 1959; amended 1988, 2002
Legal system: based on French civil law system and Islamic law; some judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court in joint session; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal except for active government security forces (including the police and the military), people with mental disabilities, people who have served more than three months in prison (criminal cases only), and people given a suspended sentence of more than six months
Executive branch: chief of state: President Zine el Abidine BEN ALI (since 7 November 1987)
head of government: Prime Minister Mohamed GHANNOUCHI (since 17 November 1999)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (no term limits); election last held on 24 October 2004 (next to be held in October 2009); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI reelected for a fourth term; percent of vote – Zine El Abidine BEN ALI 94.5%, Mohamed BOUCHIHA 3.8%, Mohamed Ali HALOUANI 1%
Legislative branch: bicameral system consists of the Chamber of Deputies or Majlis al-Nuwaab (189 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms) and the Chamber of Advisors (126 seats; 85 members elected by municipal counselors, deputies, mayors, and professional associations and trade unions; 41 members are presidential appointees; members serve six-year terms)
elections: Chamber of Deputies – last held on 24 October 2004 (next to be held in October 2009); Chamber of Advisors – last held on 3 July 2005 (next to be held in July 2011)
election results: Chamber of Deputies – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – RCD 152, MDS 14, PUP 11, UDU 7, Al-Tajdid 3, PSL 2; Chamber of Advisors – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – RCD 71 (14 trade union seats vacant (due to boycott))
Judicial branch: Court of Cassation or Cour de Cassation
Political parties and leaders: Al-Tajdid Movement [Ahmed IBRAHIM]; Constitutional Democratic Rally Party (Rassemblement Constitutionnel Democratique) or RCD (official ruling party) [President Zine El Abidine BEN ALI]; Democratic Forum for Labor and Liberties or FDTL [Mustapha Ben JAFAAR]; Green Party for Progress or PVP [Mongi KHAMASSI]; Liberal Social Party or PSL [Mondher THABET]; Movement of Socialist Democrats or MDS [Ismail BOULAHYA]; Popular Unity Party or PUP [Mohamed BOUCHIHA]; Progressive Democratic Party [Maya JERIBI]; Unionist Democratic Union or UDU [Ahmed INOUBLI]; note – the Islamist party, Al Nahda (Renaissance), is outlawed
Political pressure groups and leaders: 18 October Group [collective leadership]; Tunisian League for Human Rights or LTDH [Mokhtar TRIFI]
International organization participation: ABEDA, AfDB, AFESD, AMF, AMU, AU, BSEC (observer), FAO, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, LAS, MIGA, MONUC, NAM, OAPEC (suspended), OAS (observer), OIC, OIF, OPCW, OSCE (partner), UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO
Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d’Affaires Tarek Ben YOUSSEF
chancery: 1515 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005
telephone: [1] (202) 862-1850
FAX: [1] (202) 862-1858
Diplomatic representation from the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Robert F. GODEC
embassy: Zone Nord-Est des Berges du Lac Nord de Tunis 1053
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [216] 71 107-000
FAX: [216] 71 963-263
Flag description: red with a white disk in the center bearing a red crescent nearly encircling a red five-pointed star; the crescent and star are traditional symbols of Islam
Culture The Culture of Tunisia is a product of more than three thousand years of history and an important multi-ethnic influx. Ancient Tunisia was a major civilization crossing through history; different cultures, civilizations and multiple successive dynasties contributed to the culture of the country over centuries with a varying degrees of influence. Among these cultures were the Panic, Roman, Jewish, Christian, Arab, Islamic, Turkish, and French, in addition to native Berbers. This unique mixture of cultures made Tunisia, with its strategic geographical location in the Mediterranean, the core of some great civilizations of Mare Nostrum.

The history of Tunisia reveals this rich past where different successive Mediterranean cultures had a strong presence. After the Carthaginian Empire, the Roman Empire came and left a lasting effect on the land with various monuments and cities such the El-Jem Amphitheater and the archaeological site of the ancient city of Carthage, which is classified as a world heritage site. El Jem is just one of seven world heritage sites found in Tunisia.

After a few centuries of the presence of Christianity, represented by the Church of Africa, the Arab Islamic conquest transformed the whole country and founded a new city called Al-Qayrawan, Al-Qayrawan is a renowned center for religious and intellectual pursuits.

With the annexation of Tunisia by the Ottoman Empire, the center of power shifted from Tunis to Istanbul. This shift in power allowed the local government of the new Ottoman Province to gain more independence, which was maintained until the institution of the French Protectorate (which was later seen as occupation). The protectorate introduced elements of Western – French – culture.

The important elements of Tunisian culture are diverse and represent a unique, mixed heritage. This heritage can be experienced first-hand in: museums, the contrast and diversity of city architecture, cuisine, music, literature, cinema, religion, the arts, and sports.

Economy Economy – overview: Tunisia has a diverse economy, with important agricultural, mining, tourism, and manufacturing sectors. Governmental control of economic affairs while still heavy has gradually lessened over the past decade with increasing privatization, simplification of the tax structure, and a prudent approach to debt. Progressive social policies also have helped raise living conditions in Tunisia relative to the region. Real growth, which averaged almost 5% over the past decade, declined to 4.7% in 2008 and probably will decline further in 2009 because of economic contraction and slowing of import demand in Europe – Tunisia’s largest export market. However, development of non-textile manufacturing, a recovery in agricultural production, and strong growth in the services sector somewhat mitigated the economic effect of slowing exports. Tunisia will need to reach even higher growth levels to create sufficient employment opportunities for an already large number of unemployed as well as the growing population of university graduates. The challenges ahead include: privatizing industry, liberalizing the investment code to increase foreign investment, improving government efficiency, reducing the trade deficit, and reducing socioeconomic disparities in the impoverished south and west.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $83.4 billion (2008 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $41.77 billion (2008 est.)
GDP – real growth rate: 4.7% (2008 est.)
GDP – per capita (PPP): $8,000 (2008 est.)
GDP – composition by sector: agriculture: 10.8%
industry: 28.3%
services: 61% (2008 est.)
Labor force: 3.676 million (2008 est.)
Labor force – by occupation: agriculture: 55%
industry: 23%
services: 22% (1995 est.)
Unemployment rate: 14% (2008 est.)
Population below poverty line: 7.4% (2005 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 31.5% (2000)
Distribution of family income – Gini index: 40 (2005 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 24.4% of GDP (2008 est.)
Budget: revenues: $9.652 billion
expenditures: $11.03 billion (2008 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
Public debt: 53.1% of GDP (2008 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 5% (2008 est.)
Stock of money: $9.491 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of quasi money: $13.56 billion (31 December 2007)
Stock of domestic credit: $25.23 billion (31 December 2007)
Market value of publicly traded shares: $5.355 billion (31 December 2007)
Agriculture – products: olives, olive oil, grain, tomatoes, citrus fruit, sugar beets, dates, almonds; beef, dairy products
Industries: petroleum, mining (particularly phosphate and iron ore), tourism, textiles, footwear, agribusiness, beverages
Electricity – production: 12.65 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – consumption: 10.75 billion kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – exports: 135 million kWh (2006 est.)
Electricity – imports: 0 kWh (2007 est.)
Electricity – production by source: fossil fuel: 99.5%
hydro: 0.5%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)
Oil – production: 86,210 bbl/day (2007 est.)
Oil – consumption: 91,110 bbl/day (2006 est.)
Oil – exports: 73,790 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – imports: 89,130 bbl/day (2005)
Oil – proved reserves: 400 million bbl (1 January 2008 est.)
Natural gas – production: 2.55 billion cu m (2006 est.)
Natural gas – consumption: 3.85 billion cu m (2006 est.)
Natural gas – exports: 0 cu m (2007 est.)
Natural gas – imports: 0 cu m (2005)
Natural gas – proved reserves: 65.13 billion cu m (1 January 2008 est.)
Current account balance: -$993 million (2008 est.)
Exports: $19.7 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Exports – commodities: clothing, semi-finished goods and textiles, agricultural products, mechanical goods, phosphates and chemicals, hydrocarbons, electrical equipment
Exports – partners: France 31.3%, Italy 21%, Germany 8.5%, Spain 5.5%, Libya 5.5% (2007)
Imports: $23 billion f.o.b. (2008 est.)
Imports – commodities: textiles, machinery and equipment, hydrocarbons, chemicals, foodstuffs
Imports – partners: France 23.8%, Italy 21.9%, Germany 9.7%, Spain 5%, Libya 4.4% (2007)
Economic aid – recipient: $376.5 million (2005)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $8.875 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Debt – external: $19.33 billion (31 December 2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – at home: $28.51 billion (2008 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment – abroad: $130 million (2008 est.)
Currency (code): Tunisian dinar (TND)
Currency code: TND
Exchange rates: Tunisian dinars (TND) per US dollar – 1.211 (2008 est.), 1.2776 (2007), 1.331 (2006), 1.2974 (2005), 1.2455 (2004)
Communications Telephones – main lines in use: 1.273 million (2007)
Telephones – mobile cellular: 7.842 million (2007)
Telephone system: general assessment: above the African average and continuing to be upgraded; key centers are Sfax, Sousse, Bizerte, and Tunis; Internet access available
domestic: in an effort jumpstart expansion of the fixed-line network, the government has awarded a concession to build and operate a VSAT network with international connectivity; competition between the two mobile-cellular service providers has resulted in lower activation and usage charges and a strong surge in subscribership; expansion of mobile-cellular services to include multimedia messaging and e-mail and Internet to mobile phone services also leading to a surge in subscribership; overall fixed-line and mobile-cellular teledensity is about 90 telephones per 100 persons
international: country code – 216; a landing point for the SEA-ME-WE-4 submarine cable system that provides links to Europe, Middle East, and Asia; satellite earth stations – 1 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean) and 1 Arabsat; coaxial cable and microwave radio relay to Algeria and Libya; participant in Medarabtel; 2 international gateway digital switches
Radio broadcast stations: AM 7, FM 38, shortwave 2 (2007)
Radios: 2.06 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations: 26 (plus 76 repeaters) (1995)
Televisions: 920,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .tn
Internet hosts: 376 (2008)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 1.722 million (2007)
Transportation Airports: 30 (2007)
Airports – with paved runways: total: 14
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 6
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 3 (2007)
Airports – with unpaved runways: total: 16
1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 7 (2007)
Pipelines: gas 2,665 km; oil 1,235 km; refined products 353 km (2007)
Railways: total: 2,153 km
standard gauge: 471 km 1.435-m gauge
narrow gauge: 1,674 km 1.000-m gauge (65 km electrified)
dual gauge: 8 km 1.435 m and 1.000-m gauges (three rails) (2006)
Roadways: total: 19,232 km
paved: 12,655 km (includes 262 km of expressways)
unpaved: 6,577 km (2004)
Merchant marine: total: 7
by type: bulk carrier 1, cargo 1, chemical tanker 1, passenger/cargo 4
registered in other countries: 1 (Panama 1) (2008)
Ports and terminals: Bizerte, Gabes, La Goulette, Rades, Sfax, Skhira
Military Military branches: Army, Navy, Republic of Tunisia Air Force (Al-Quwwat al-Jawwiya al-Jamahiriyah At’tunisia) (2008)
Military service age and obligation: 20 years of age for compulsory military service; conscript service obligation – 12 months; 18 years of age for voluntary military service (2007)
Manpower available for military service: males age 16-49: 2,992,249
females age 16-49: 2,912,819 (2008 est.)
Manpower fit for military service: males age 16-49: 2,539,962
females age 16-49: 2,465,295 (2008 est.)
Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually: male: 101,794
female: 95,198 (2008 est.)
Military expenditures: 1.4% of GDP (2006)
Transnational Issues Disputes – international: none

Islam And Dictators 

Islam And Dictators 

As most people know the world experienced an event called “The Arab Spring” just a few years ago. The event started when a man through exasperation of the inequalities that were laid upon his life decided to end his life by setting himself on fire. This tragic event started an uprising of the people that spread across North Africa and the Middle East. The people of these countries raised up together to challenge their countries leaders in unprecedented numbers. The results of these uprisings do vary but it would be lying to say that these countries and their people are now living in peace.

 

The United States government has been involved in this region of the world since before I was born (I am 61). Their adventures attributes or lack thereof can easily be argued long and loud from the Arab people’s point of view, their governments point of view, and the American people’s points of view. Many Americans are sick and tired of our country being the “world’s policeman” but just as cops on the street can be good and/or evil our country has often lacked moral ethics in how they performed their activities. But just as different Arab countries leaders and their people like and dislike things our government has done that has touched their lives, I would just like to share with you fact that just as you and your country’s government do not always see eye to eye with each other, that the American people do not always back what our government is doing in regards to events that affect you and your lives.

 

Most of the American people I believe before 1972-73 knew little about anything that was to do with your countries. I was a teenager during that time and I was in the American military (1977) before I ever heard of the Shah of Iran, I am not sure that I had ever heard of the country of Iran before the events of his departure from your country. The more that I paid attention to the events concerning the Shah and our country’s involvement the more it sickened me about things our country had done to the people of Iran. As just about anyone and everyone should know by now the American government was playing a deadly game with Russia during those “cold war” years. Both countries governments used other countries like pawns in a chess game not caring about the collateral damage their actions were putting upon the people of these countries.

 

The American government installed and supported many evil people, even crazy people (Saddam), giving them many weapons which the tyrants used against their own people. I am going to step back to Iran in the 1978 era when the people of Iran were able to get rid of one Tyrant to unfortunately have an even more evil person step into the leadership of their country. I know that statement will get some people mad but to be honest about things, here in America we have had many evil people in all different levels and departments of our government including some very evil Presidents. The Shah was a very evil person but after his departure, you the people, got locked into a government that is one of the most evil the world has ever known.

 

Libya, as most everyone knows is one of the countries that had a horrible lunatic for a leader who you the people, with some outside help from Jihad organizations was able to overthrow. But you the people have now got a living situation that is very dangerous for all of its citizens with so many armed groups fighting for more control. I am glad that this was one leader that wasn’t one of the CIA puppets because he was a horrible non-humanitarian leader. Our government propped up dictators from the Philippines to Central America to Africa to the Middle East. It Saddens me as an American and as a loving heart Christian that our government did some of the things to you that they did but it is not like we the people of America condoned our government’s actions.

 

Syria, their President is the only leader that it seems is going to remain in office but only because he was able to get foreign help from nations like Russia and Iran and terrorist groups like Hezbollah. The cost of this failed Civil War is hundreds of thousands of people are dead with probably that many and more wounded. There is also the factor of how to go forward as a nation. There is many billions of dollars of damage to businesses and homes and the factor of the human cost of getting that country back to a functional condition is going to take several decades.

 

The United States as you know involved themselves militarily in Afghanistan and Iraq after the 9-11-2001 attacks here in America. I believe that going into Afghanistan was a legitimate action. But when our government went into Iraq in March of 2003 to get Saddam this was an Unconstitutional illegal act, thus and illegal action by our President. I try to always be honest and fair in all that I do and say, but in doing this it seems like I get most everyone mad at me. Thus saying, I personally believe that our President at the time, George W Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld are all three guilty of War Crimes and should all three be behind bars right now. Now, if you fast forward to today, look at all the sectarian violence in Iraq and in Afghanistan with the government trying to get the Taliban murderers to become part of that government. Besides cutting off the figurehead of Al-Qaeda on May 2nd of 2011 what did all the blood and all the trillions of dollars accomplish for the lives of their average countryman?

 

Egypt is the last country that I am going to focus on tonight because I am not trying to create a manuscript out of this post. The people of Egypt throughout history for the most part are now and have always been a great people even though they have had many Rulers who used and abused them. Ever since your President Anwar Sadat was murdered by Islamist traders, you the people have been saddled with a Dictator/President who you finally overthrew about three years ago. When you, the people of Egypt were doing your rallies there in the Square in Cairo the Western media kept interviewing protesters from the square pointing out to us viewers how it was the educated class of people who were the protesters. They would often say how the side streets and alleys were jammed with people but these reporters did not go into those side streets and alleys because of security issues. I knew even then that the Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood were more than happy to let the School Teachers, Doctors, and Lawyer types be the one’s speaking to the foreign press while they waited in the back streets hoping that the President would be run out of office. When President Mubarak was removed by the Military and elections were set in place I had no doubt who would win and then the people of Egypt who voted in The Brotherhood would see first hand how they now had another tyrant leading their country. To the praise of the majority of the people the people realized how badly they had been lied to and how inept these Islamist leaders were and once again with the help of your Military you brought down yet another Dictator.

 

There is a common thread that runs throughout the Muslim part of the world and that of course is the Islamic faith. I know that it sounds horrible but the pattern of governments that have come and gone and come again to your countries has been where a Military backed Dictator has ruled your country or you had a Religious Leader rule your country. The debate for your countries has been a case of which one is going to be the most cruel toward the population. It has seemed that the only situation where the lazy, uneducated, hate filled Islamist fundamentalists who allow the population no basic human rights or freedom of expression is when a Military backed Dictator has been your countries ruler.

 

It is and has been my belief for a long time now that the only way that people can have freedom in their country is if they remove the tyrant themselves. How Egypt has gotten rid of their last two Presidents has worked but it always comes down to where the loyalty of the nation’s Military is. Muslim countries who prefer to have a so-called Religious Leader as their ruler it is up to you to see that He or She is acting toward the populous with caring and love for the people. Proof that these so-called “Clerics” like the people of Iran are enslaved by are a horrible choice for National Leadership has been proven to the people of your country’s time and time again. The people of your countries are to this day wrapped up in constant violence and almost all of this violence is directly to do with the Islamic Faith in how people choose to interpret your Holy Books words. Personally, I believe that God can choose to kill or let live whomever He wishes and that He does not need anyone’s help to kill or harm anyone. If God wants you or I dead, if He really is God, He can just speak it or wish it and it will be so. Anyone who uses a Religion to kill or harm another person is themselves a Servant of Satan. If you really believe that the One you call God says for you to do these things, you very much need to examine Who it is that you are worshiping because it sure isn’t a God. God is peace and love, not hate and killing. I from the depths of my heart wish peace and prosperity and love to each and every one of you. I do pray for you everyday because there is so much hate and violence that surrounds you and your families daily, shalom.     

Rape: Is There Such A Thing As A ‘Culture’ Of Rape?

 

A couple of days ago one of our fellow Word Press Bloggers ( chanportuguesa.wordpress.com ) left me a comment about an article I had reblogged a couple of weeks before. The article I had reblogged was out of Portugal and the content matter was about a 67-year-old homeless woman who was raped and beaten by a ‘refugee’ who was from North Africa. The article said this man who is in his twenties was a person that was supposed to have been sent to Italy but Italy refused to let him in so Portugal ended up having to keep him. The articles spoke of how messed up Portugal’s political system is in that their own citizens like this 67-year-old woman were having to sleep in the streets yet the government was giving food, clothing and housing to refugees. I know that this is exactly how things are done here in the U.S. so what he was saying sounds familiar as this is how our government has operated for decades now.

 

The following comment is the reason that I thought to do this article today, they make a very good point and I promised I would do this article concerning his comment. When I had posted this reblogged article I had made a comment about the ‘rape culture’ concerning the ‘refugee’, here is the quote. “I am curious to know which culture is that? What  is your though on this article? French troops raped starving children in Central Africa.” Before I started this article I decided to look up the word rape in the online dictionary to see exactly how it is defined, the following is what it had to say. “Rape: origin of rape: Middle English/Anglo-French/Latin from 1250-1300 A.D..” Noun: unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vigina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ or other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.” The article said that this young man beat her in the face breaking several facial bones and he forced sex upon her. To me, it does sound like this young man without a doubt is guilty of what could be described as a ‘text book’ rape of this poor old lady, but this is just my opinion, others may somehow have a different opinion though.

 

Our fellow Blogger said at the end of his comment “French troops raped starving children in Central Africa.” This may be true, it may not, I do not personally know one way or the other. If this has happened it would not surprise me though. It does seem that I remember reading an article or two about a year ago where such things were mentioned, but were those articles truthful, I wasn’t there, I do not know. I also remember reading articles over the past few years where U.N. troops were blamed for this exact same crimes/sins. Were those true? Unfortunately it sounded like it was. I know that in many cultures during armed conflicts that soldiers from many different countries have used rape as a weapon against the people they are fighting against. Here in the States our ‘National Culture’ says that none of our troops would ever do such a thing, but there is always some tares among the wheat. To me, rape is a moral issue. Many will say I am wrong, it is only a physical issue, really, it is both. But if a person, soldier or not, is a moral person, they will not touch another person in this manner. What I am saying is that if a person is brought up in a religion that teaches that rape is a sin and the person who commits such a sin must be executed, a devout person of that religion will never do such harm to another person.

 

Now, back to this refugee in Portugal who raped and beat this 67-year-old homeless woman. I know that some people will jump to the conclusion that because he is from North Africa that I am coming down on African or upon Black culture, no, that is not correct. The culture I was referring to in this case is his religion which is that of Islam. I know that I just angered a lot of folks with that statement yet if you will keep reading for a couple more moments you will see more clearly why I have said that. Look at the street level of the Islamic countries, look at that culture concerning women, look at how they are treated. I know that there are some folks who believe in Islam who are educated and kind toward their wives and children so this is not a ‘blanket’ condemnation of Islam. There are good and bad people within every religion on Earth. But, think about this reality for a moment please. Think about the Islamic countries where a woman can not go out of her house without a male relative beside her. I have heard and read articles from Islamic men who believe that if a woman goes out of her house on her own she is just asking to be raped, why else would they go out alone they say. Even if they are hand in hand with their husband and they are showing more skin than a Burka allows, they are a whore. Is this a morality issue on the part of women? Or is it a maturity or moral fallacy of the men, or even of their religion that they were raised in?

 

There is no doubt that morality throughout the world is decreasing rapidly and not just in the Islamic world. Here in the States there was a time when women dressed much more modestly, and so did the men. There was a time when it was considered a sin if you could see a woman’s ankle below her dress and dresses with a v-neck which showed cleavage was scandalous. Yet there was also a time when the men always wore long-sleeved shirts and only long pants, no shorts were allowed and men never took off their shirts in public. Yet it is my assertion that those who sexually attack others are themselves very morally weak. Even if you come from a culture like Islam it is not okay for anyone to force themselves upon another person. It is an obvious truth that when you take Islamic men out of  an Islamic culture and place them in a culture like France, Italy, or Portugal that a huge amount of these morales adult male children think it is perfectly okay to assault ‘single’ women and even very young girls. The world is facing a moral decline yet this article today is only about the evil in the lack of sexual morals. We have also read several times during the past couple of years where in India where Hindu men have been gang raping young women and girls literally to death. It is rather common to hear of the rape cultures within the body of Africa where no religion seems to be at fault. Here in the States we usually only hear of cases where Priests commit these sins on young children.

 

No group is without sin because each group, each religion, is made up of individuals, we stand or fall on our individual merit, or the lack thereof. The reason that today’s article highlights the Islamic culture is because of their teachings. Not so much the teachings of the Quran which is a “Book of the Saying” of the Prophet Muhammad, the huge issues are concerning the Book called the “Hadith” which is the “actions” of the Prophet Muhammad. They are taught from birth that a ‘good’ believer must emulate the actions of their Prophet. Please read this book folks, their Prophet should be the very last person that any parent would ever want their child to act like. The people of Islam know these facts, they tend to try to hide this truth from ‘the western world’. If you really wish to understand why I believe Islam teaches its male followers to perform their lives with such violence toward everyone, especially women and young girls. I know of no other major ‘religion’ that tells their followers to be so violent toward other people that is why many folks I have spoken with do not even consider Islam to be a ‘religion’, they believe that it is no more than a Demonic Cult.

Great History Lesson About Spain And It’s Muslim/Christian History

(I FOUND THIS ARTICLE ON GOOGLE PLUS, IF YOU LIKE HISTORY YOU MAY WELL LIKE THIS ARTICLE)

Muslim Spain
inside Alhambra, Granada

In 711 the Muslims had conquered the southern parts of the Iberian Peninsula. By 714 following the decline of the Visigoths, the Muslims had gained a strong grip on virtually the entire Iberian Peninsula. The parts in southern Spain that were under Muslim rule were called al-Andalus.

The vast region was divided into five administrative provinces—Andalusia (including the capital Córdoba and Seville), Central Spain, Galicia and Lusitania, and the Ebro region. The administrative system was subject to change as the Christians regained more power over parts of Muslim Spain in the following centuries.

However Muslim Spain was not restricted to the region named al-Andalus. The Muslims also controlled parts of Aragon-Catalonia and Navarre. Parts of southern France fell briefly under Muslim rule but a strong French military force under Charles Martel managed to drive them away in 756.

Although Córdoba was not the capital city of previous rulers such as the Byzantines and the Romans, it lay at the crossroads of important trade routes. Moreover the city possessed rich agricultural resources. From there the caliphs ruled parts of North Africaand the Iberian Peninsula.

The Muslims had, in fact, amassed a vast empire stretching from Spain to India and ruled diverse groups of people, who contributed to the later development of a sophisticated culture in a cosmopolitan setting found in Muslim capitals such as Córdoba. By 757 al-Andalus had been clearly established as a Muslim polity with a mainly Arab and Berber population, but also with many converts.

Within Muslim Spain, the Umayyad dynasty ruled over Arabs from various locations as well as Berbers, Jews, Christians. The lingua franca used by diverse groups of people within al-Andalus was Arabic.

Umayyad Dynasty

In 750 after a series of rival wars between various Muslim factions, the Umayyad Abd al-Rahman Mu’awiya, also known as Abd al-Rahman I, refused to acknowledge the Abbasid Sunni Caliphate based in Baghdad.

By this time the Abbasid dynasty was considered corrupt and weak. This led Abd al-Rahman to set up his own dynasty of emirs of Córdoba, first by ousting the previous ruler, Yusuf al-Fihri.

Abd al-Rahman proclaimed himself the first emir of Córdoba in the mosque of Córdoba on May 14, 756. The powerful Fatimid dynasty, based in Egypt, opposed the installation of the Umayyad Caliphate on Córdoba. The Fatimid dynasty had a strong hold over North Africa.

inside Cordoba (former) Mosque

Abd al-Rahman thus enlisted the help of the Zanata Berber tribe enemies of the Sinhaja tribe, allies of the Fatimids. Pro-Umayyad rebellions against the Fatimids were quashed and Abd al-Rahman was unable to advance into North Africa, as he was preoccupied with skirmishes with the Christians.

He ruled independently of the Abbasid Caliphate for 33 years, consolidating sufficient support for Umayyad authority to ensure the longevity of his dynasty. Abd al-Rahman succeeded in fending off Yusuf al-Fihri’s allies as well as the supporters of the Abbasid Caliphate within al-Andalus.

Later on the emirate became known as the Umayyad Caliphate, which was in fact modeled upon the older Abbasid Caliphate. The Umayyads, who were members of the prophet Muhammad’s tribe Qureish, claimed to be descendants from the prophet Muhammad.

Prior to conquering parts of the Iberian Peninsula the Umayyads had already ruled a huge part of the Muslim world including the important city of Samarkand at the eastern edge of their kingdom. Their conquests stretched to al-Andalus in the west with its capital in Córdoba.

By the time of Abd al-Rahman I’s death in 852, al-Andalus was already a major diplomatic power in the Mediterranean with emirates established over North Africa. Links had also been established with the Byzantine emperor, another major player in Mediterranean politics.

Visigoth Resistance

Visigoth Resistance
Visigoth Resistance

Initially the Muslim power that was responsible for the great wave of Muslim expansion was based in their distant capital city of Damascus. In Muslim Spain, however, Córdoba was made the capital, where the Muslim invaders settled down as property owners soon after their victory over the Visigoths.

One way land was acquired in Córdoba was through marriage with important members of the Visigothic aristocracy. This had the added advantage of staving off potential opposition from the Visigoths, who had been the ruling class in Córdoba before their defeat at the hands of the Muslims.

Despite the Visigoths’ apparent truce with the Muslims within Spain, members of the Visigothic aristocracy who had fled up north of the Iberian Peninsula continued to resist Muslim rule in the south.

This was an impetus for the Muslims to invade the northern mountainous region of the peninsula, as well as France. The Muslim invaders were especially looking to gain resources in France rather than the inaccessible regions in northern Spain.

These attacks were launched in order to gain booty, because at that time the Muslim rulers in Spain possessed a booty or ghanima economy. This system came to an end when the three major military expeditions to France during the eighth century ended in disastrous defeats.

Umayyad caliphs in al-Andalus had a policy of tolerance toward the non-Muslims under their rule. Non-Muslim residents had to bear the heaviest burden of taxation. They had to pay a poll tax (jizya) and a land tax.

Thus the greatest source of revenue, which went toward financing the caliphs’ military campaigns, was the non-Muslim inhabitants of al-Andalus. This contributed to the policy of tolerance of the Christian and Jewish population. Conversion to Islam escalated under the reign of the Umayyad Caliphate.

This is despite the fact that Islamic proselytizing was minimal during this period. Thus it has been suggested that social or economic forces, rather than any active missionary pressure on the part of the Muslims, motivated conversion.

During the ninth century mass conversions took place. The benefits of conversion included employment opportunities in government. Not only did Muslims pay significantly less tax than non-Muslims, they could also gain better positions in the bureaucracy.

In fact the unifying bonds between the various groups of people were culture and literature, rather than religion, which created a harmonious setting. There was a large Christian group within Muslim Spain known as the Mozarabs, who settled mostly in Seville.

They adopted a Muslim lifestyle, in terms of fashion, architecture, and literature, without converting to Islam. These Mozarabs suffered religious persecution in 1139 by fellow Christians after the raids of King Afonso I (Henriques) of Portugal on Seville, as they were not considered true Christians.

Umayyad Dynasty of Cordoba

Umayyad Dynasty of Cordoba
Umayyad Dynasty of Cordoba

The caliph of Córdoba, formerly known as the emir of Córdoba, ruled Spain for slightly more than a century, from the year 929 to 1031, beginning with the reign of the most powerful Muslim ruler, Abd ar-Rahman III, who claimed the caliphate in 929.

The caliph was especially skilled at projecting his image as a powerful Arab leader. Abd ar-Rahman III made sure he was visible to his people in the many ceremonies and processions organized for him. He was Hispano-Basque (grandson of a Christian Basque princess) and was only a quarter Arab.

In order to look more like an Arab, it has been said, he dyed his hair black. The caliph presented himself as an effective leader of his own military troops. In his image campaign, newsletters and poems were glowingly written of his military prowess and piety.

During this period, in addition to having a reputation as an illustrious commercial center, al-Andalus also became an eminent center of knowledge and learning. Al-Andalus was a great civilization, compared with the rest of Europe at that time. Many Islamic works of art were produced during this era of Muslim rule.

Umayyad caliph Abd Al-Rahman III had a keen interest in the arts, as well as the religious and secular sciences. He amassed many books from other intellectual centers such as Baghdad, which were then stored in the library. Scholars were also hired to supplement further the amount of written knowledge imported.

Drawn to the bastion of knowledge and culture, many philosophers and scientists began to migrate to al-Andalus, making it a renowned center of learning. Intellectual life in Córdoba peaked during the reign of Al-Hakam II, who was in power from 961 to 967.

He was responsible for establishing a massive library filled with hundreds of thousands of volumes, a useful repository of knowledge in the Mediterranean world. During this period several intellectuals achieved prominence in Muslim Spain.

Spanish Muslim intellectuals excelled in the fields of mathematics, medicine, and astronomy. The most famous example is Ibn Rushd, otherwise called Averroës, who was a philosopher, theologian, physician, and sometime royal consultant, born and educated in Córdoba.

Christian Reconquest

Simultaneously the territories owned by the caliph of Córdoba decreased just as aspects of commerce and culture thrived. Internal dissension among different Arab factions weakened the Umayyad power base in Córdoba as they disintegrated into warring divisions.

The lack of Muslim unity proved crucial to Christian success. During the reign of Hisham II, the Umayyad Caliphate disintegrated into party-kingdoms in 1009. He was executed in 1013, only to be succeeded by another weak ruler, Hisham III, the last caliph of Córdoba.

Hisham III was exiled to Lerida. Nominal rule continued under the short-lived Hasanid dynasty until 1054. The further remaining territories dwindled into mere Muslim principalities, better known as independent taifas, ruled by mainly Berber rulers, though there were also non-Berber rulers.

With their defenses weakened because of lack of unity, these taifas often had to hire mercenaries from North Africa or Christian mercenaries to protect their principalities, which were constantly at war with each other. This chaotic situation in the Muslim states was conducive to Christian reconquest.

Christians in the northern parts of the Iberian Peninsula had already begun to consolidate their military and political power as early as the eighth century, and into the latter half of the ninth century.

Under the reign of Alfonso II (791–842), the Christians in the northern region had stabilized themselves. He was able to install Visigothic institutions in his kingdom with his capital in Oviedo.

The Christians viewed the reconquest of southern Spain (al-Andalus) as justified, since they were reclaiming what rightfully belonged to the Visigoths. Further impetus was provided by the discovery of the tomb of St. James the apostle, a patron saint around whom the Christians could rally.

From the eighth to the 10th century the Christian north had possessed an inferior economic system and cultural milieu compared to al-Andalus in the south. However they were already clearly formed political entities with military forces that were able to stave off attacks from their enemies from the south. This enabled them to reconquer Muslim Spain upon its disintegration during the 10th and 11th centuries.

In 1056 the Almoravid Empire took over as the rulers of Muslim Spain. They were replaced by the dynasty of Almohads in 1130. The decline of the Almohads in 1269 enabled the Christians to conquer parts of Muslim Spain with more ease.

The important cities of Córdoba and Seville had already fallen into Christian hands in 1236 and 1248, respectively, leaving only Granada as the last Muslim stronghold. In 1469 through the union of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castille, much of Spain was united. By 1492 a stronger Christian Spain finally took over Granada.

The Great Islamic Migration To ‘The West’

 

The world as a whole is witnessing many horrible events around the world today, each day, everyday beamed straight to our phones, watches, radio’s and TV’s. Many of these horrible events are generated from the Middle-East and North Africa and most are evolved from the strife caused within the Islamic religion. Whether you like the Islamic religion or not is not the issue of this post to you today. What the post is about is that I am going to point out a few obvious things that some on the pro and or con side of this issue my possibly not be considering the full consequences of this current human tragedy occurring in Islams breadbasket.

 

Here in the States we debate putting a wall from one side of  our southern border to the other to keep all the bad folks from the south of us from invading us, yet nothing about a wall to the north side between us and those Canadians.  Does this mean that if you come into our country that you need to have snow on your boots (not the famous Colombian kind)? Or is it more an economics issue? I say yes to that, but it is much more. There is also the issue of increased crime and yes, there is always that truth. Yet economics is THE reason that almost all have made the dangerous journey in the first place. If you are forced to leave your home city, county, state, and even country because you and your family are going to starve if you don’t, then when you get to your new country you still need food and shelter. If you can’t get work and you can’t get help from anywhere or anyone, most people will at least then steal for food and shelter for their families even if they wouldn’t do the same for themselves. Yet these same acts will label you as a criminal. Our friends to the north tend to be content living in their own country because there is a very good infrastructure in Canada and the people there have far more opportunities and abilities to have a good job and be able to self sustain their own families. Our friends to our south, not so much for them. Until their own governments can supply jobs and infrastructure for their citizens many have no choice but to migrate. There is also the drug wars and it’s migration issues from our south. Then there is in many people a race issue and a language issue with our neighbors to our south. But on neither border is there really a religion issue but with the current events throughout Europe it is very much an issue, a HUGE one.

 

Most all of the people fleeing violence from all the Islamic hate groups are people who were driven out of their homes, cities and countries by these people of their very own faith. This is not Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, or Hindu driving them out, Islam itself is kicking the ‘slackers’ out. If they won’t fight with them they kill some to drive the rest out. In doing so they are doing the will of Allah, they are dispersing the faithful throughout all the nations thus spreading their teachings into all the nooks and crannies of the world. So now, does the world stand together and try to find a way to wipe out all of these Islamic hate groups? Would that be racist, would the non-combatant Islamic people even allow ‘the west’ to try to wipe those groups out? Or is that a jihad on Islam? Should it matter what others think? Islam is at war with everything and everyone that is not part of their ‘hate groups’ personnel version of Jihad. Now, the west must decide how this horrific event in Syria and other places in the area are going to be resolved. The west can do nothing and just open your borders completely and be totally over run on their resources causing their own people to starve or they can come together and wipe out these hate groups, as in carpet bombing. Doing nothing is also an option, the whole world is watching including all of the Islamic world, the good people and the bad ones.