Osama bin Laden added a couple of new items on his jihadist agenda when, in an audio recording released on Friday, he joined his orders to "continue fighting the oppressors in Iraq and Afghanistan and supporting Muslims, especially in Palestine" with calls for countering global warming and fixing the financial crisis, wrote Abdullah Iskandar, the managing editor of the London-based newspaper Al Hayat.
There is nothing new about bin Laden's call for "a sustained jihad"; it is at the heart of his traditional discourse. But his stated interest in the environment and the economy bespeaks the man's intention to demonstrate that he is conscious of the vicissitudes of the modern era and not immersed in quixotic attempts to revive a forlorn golden epoch. The new assignments bin Laden foresees for solving modern-day issues do not involve jihadists alone, but "everyone living on earth" must contribute. Addressing the world population, he said: "It isn't fair, nor is it wise, to lay the full burden of the global warming issue on jihadists, when its effects bear on the whole planet." Now, if bin Laden's new commitment to modern causes is genuine, wouldn't that entail a revision of the strategy of jihad and continuous fighting which involves terrorist acts that harm the very people whom he is wishing well?
The chief commander of the Taliban forces in Kabul declared in December that the organisation had appointed officials in all provinces and is geared up to reinstate the "Islamic emirate" regime in Afghanistan as soon as the United States pulls out, wrote Khaleel Ali Haidar in the Emirati newspaper Al Ittihad.
The Taliban organisation was founded by students from religious schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan and took control of Kabul in 1994 before they were ousted by the US forces in 2001 for refusing to hand over Osama bin Laden. Their recruits are quasi-illiterate elements from the poor countryside who are opposed to culture, education and the arts, and most aspects of the modern way of life. Understandably, this kind of mindset has hatched a stringent set of laws called "the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice" edict. If music tapes or movies are found in a shop, hotel or any other place, their user or owner will be jailed for up to 20 days and the place will be closed for up to five days. If a man shaves or trims his beard, he will be jailed for 10 days, and any woman seen at the tailor's shop will be warned and the tailor jailed for 10 days. This gives you just a glimpse of the puritan and despotic system that the Taliban are intending to re-establish. It's a system designed to completely smother the potential of the Afghan people.
"The main conclusion one comes out with when listening to Tony Blair, the previous British prime minister, respond to the questions of the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war is that the politician is determined to keep on lying and adamantly defending his catastrophic decision that dragged his country into an illegitimate, immoral and gory war," noted the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds al Arabi in its editorial.
Mr Blair lied when he denied that he had signed with his ally and friend George W Bush an agreement to topple the Iraqi regime a year before the war started. And he also lied when he denied responsibility for the folder that was concocted to dupe the British parliament into believing that Saddam Hussein was capable of getting his weapons of mass destruction set on the West within 45 minutes. He lied yet a third time when he denied having said during an interview with BBC radio that he would have definitely looked for other pretexts to take down the Iraqi regime, even if he ascertains that Iraq is not in possession of weapons of mass destruction. Mr Blair did admit that the occupation of Iraq is starting to have negative effects on the US and the West, but it was frustrating how the Chilcot inquiry failed to confront him with the more embarrassing questions.
The exposure of the Algerian market to foreign investments has brought back the "Ottomans" to the country, and with them the Turkish language which is gaining popularity among local job seekers, reported Salma Harraz in a feature carried by the Algerian newspaper Al Khabar.
The majority of students polled said they were taking courses in Turkish as a second language for primarily business reasons, because fluency in Turkish will open up more job opportunities with Turkish companies which now hold a significant part of the Algerian market with some 400 corporations in operation. Turkish firms are known for paying competitive salaries to their employees, but fluency in the Turkish language remains one of their top requirements.
"More than others, the Turks are faced with a communication problem in Algeria because they usually speak only Turkish, unlike the Algerian people who embrace a number of languages," said Sirkan Gilan, the director of the Modern Turkish-Algerian School for Management and Languages. Many Turkish companies are reportedly covering the fees of language courses for their Algerian employees. * Digest compiled by Achraf A El Bahi