Home' Greymouth Star : June 20th 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
4 - Saturday, June 20, 2015
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uLetters to the editor
1837 - Q ueen Victoria succeeds to British
throne on death of her uncle, King William IV.
1893 - Jury in New Bedford, Massachusetts,
finds Lizzie Borden innocent of the axe
murders of her father and stepmother.
1909 - Actor Errol Flynn is born
1943 - Japanese aircraft bomb
Dar win 64 times during the Second
1947 - Benjamin ‘Bugsy’ Siegel
is shot dead at the Beverly Hills,
California, mansion of his girlfriend,
Virginia Hill, at the order of mob associates.
1967 - Champion boxer Muhammad Ali is
convicted in Houston of violating Selective
Ser vice laws by refusing to be drafted.
2005 - Death aged 81 of Jack Kilby, inventor
of the integrated circuit, the basis of the
computer chip revolution and foundation of
what is now a trillion-dollar industry.
2011 - New Zealand Prime Minister John
Key deliverers an historic speech to the
Australian Federal parliament.
uWest Coast yesteryear
uToday in history
Errol Flynn, Australian actor (1909-1959);
Chet Atkins, US guitarist (1924-2001);
Olympia Dukakis, Greek-American actress
(1931-); John Mahoney, English-
American actor (1940-); Brian
Wilson, Beach Boys co-founder
(1942-); Anne Murray, Canadian
pop singer (1945-); Xanana
Gusmao, former East Timorese
president (1946-); Lionel Richie,
US singer (1949-); John Goodman,
US actor (1952-); Michael Anthony
(Van Halen), US musician (1955-); Nicole
Kidman, Australian actress (1967-).
“ You can do very little with faith, but you
can do nothing without it. ” — Samuel Butler,
English satirist (1835-1902).
“As you go, proclaim the good news, “ The
Kingdom of Heaven has come near.”
— (Matthew 10.7).
A corner shop in
Chapel Street which
has sold soft drinks
and ice-creams for
more than half a century will shortly be a
major subsidiary to an expanding Greymouth
motor firm. This is the two storeyed building
popularly known as Frank Bell’s Milk Bar,
which has been purchased by Mr Eric Dey, a
principal of Dey ’s Panel Beating Co, in Tainui
Street, which adjoins the milk bar. He plans to
convert it into a paint shop.
The premises, which were built in the late
1890s were originally intended as a hotel
but failed to qualify for a licence. The site
was then implemented as a blacksmith’s and
wheelwright’s premises by a Mr Vincent. The
Otira coaches were built and repaired there.
In 1913, the late Mr William Sullivan started
the first marble bar in Greymouth there, with
a small hand-powered machine to manufacture
ice-cream. After a year he leased the business
to the late Mr Wattie Benyon of Kumara.
In 1926, he disposed of it to Mr and Mrs H
Lima, who in turn disposed of it to Mr Bell in
Mr Bell will reside in Christchurch with his
The sport which has become a family
favourite in America, England and Australia,
will have its first airing in Greymouth on
Monday night. This is 10-pin bowling.
Four sets of equipment have been acquired
by the Blaketown-Preston Road Ratepayers’
Association, which has launched the scheme
to raise funds for the Blaketown Hall. The
equipment acquired is made of polythene and
of standard size.
Weekly bowling sessions will be held.
uFood for thought
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Sudan’s President Omar
al-Bashir, facing an
arrest warrant from the
Court (ICC) for genocide
and war crimes, fled from
an African Union summit
meeting on Monday
before the conference
ended. The South African
High Court was going to
order him arrested and handed over to the
ICC, but the South African government
let him fly out of a military airport near
There is outrage in South Africa at this
breach of the law, but there is also a belief
in the rest of the continent (especially
among national leaders) that the ICC is
prejudiced against African countries. Is the
ICC out of control, or is it just trying to
do its job?
President Jacob Zuma’s government
had a serious public relations problem. In
the past month South Africa has seen a
great deal of xenophobic violence against
illegal immigrants and their property. It
is embarrassing for Zuma, and clearly
contrary to the spirit of African solidarity,
so he felt that he could not let an African
head of State be arrested while attending
an AU summit in his country.
The resentment of poor South Africans
at the presence of so many illegal
immigrants from other African countries
(probably between 5% and 10% of
the population) is understandable but
inexcusable. The right solution is for
South Africa to take control of its borders,
but meanwhile Zuma has to placate his
African Union partners.
Zuma had to sneak Bashir out of the
country because South Africa’s High
Court is still independent, and it was
about to rule that Bashir must be handed
over to the ICC for trial. Indeed, Judge
Dunstan Mlambo did rule exactly that —
“The government ’s failure to arrest Bashir
is inconsistent with the constitution” —
only hours after Bashir fled.
Well, obviously. Since South Africa is
one of the 123 countries that signed up
to the ICC, it is legally obliged to enforce
its arrest warrants. Some other African
countries also take the ICC seriously. In
2012 an AU summit was moved from
Malawi after the government refused to
let Bashir attend, and in 2013 the
Sudanese president had to leave Nigeria
earlier than planned after a rights group
went to court to compel the authorities to
But most African governments now
ignore ICC rulings because, they claim,
the court only targets African criminals
— a nd it is true that all the arrest warrants
now in force are for Africans. This
understandably causes deep suspicions in
the African continent.
Under the same international laws,
should not former US president George
W Bush be indicted as a war criminal
for illegally invading a sovereign country,
Iraq? No, actually, because the ICC can
arrest the citizens only of countries that
have signed up to the ICC, and the United
States has not. (Neither has Sudan, but
there is an exception for war criminals
who are specifically designated by the
United Nations Security Council, as
The wounds of colonialism are still raw,
and it just feels wrong. But which of these
people would you want to drop from the
Joseph Kony, the self-proclaimed prophet
whose Lord’s Resistance Army murdered
tens of thousands of innocent people in
northern Uganda and adjacent countries?
Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former Congolese
rebel leader who is on trial for crimes
against humanity and war crimes over
alleged cases of murder, rape and pillage
in the Central African Republic in 2002
Or Ivory Coast ’s former President
Laurent Gbagbo, who faces four charges
of crimes against humanity — murder,
rape and other forms of sexual violence,
persecution and ‘other inhuman acts’
— in the violence that followed disputed
elections in 2010?
None of these men are being lynched.
They have just been summoned to face
a trial, with all the legal rights they are
accused of denying to others. In most
cases, the prosecution has been undertaken
with the support of the relevant African
African countries dominate the list for
two reasons. One is that more than half
the world’s wars are in Africa. The other
is that African countries, so vulnerable
to violence, have a strong interest in
establishing the rule of law, and most
African lawyers and senior civil ser vants
They are often thwarted by their
presidents and prime ministers, who
belong to a very exclusive club. African
leaders are as prone as any other interest
group to try to exempt themselves from
rules that hold them legally responsible
for their actions. The ICC has also made
mistakes, like bringing cases against senior
politicians when there was no realistic
chance of getting the evidence needed
for a conviction (like President Uhuru
Kenyatta in Kenya).
But even if it fails much of the time, the
ICC is a worthwhile enterprise. It is part
of a long-term effort to build a world that
is ruled by law, not by force, even if that
goal is still a century in the future — and
in the meantime, it occasionally gives the
victims justice right here in the present.
Gwynne Dyer is an independent
journalist whose articles are published in
Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
On the run from genocide charges
WORLD IN FOCUS
with Gwynne Dyer
year after declaring his
caliphate, it is clear that
the secret of Abu Bakr
al-Baghdadi’s success is
the army and state he has
built from the remnants
of Saddam Hussein’s military, and the
allegiance he has won or coerced from
alienated Sunni Muslims in Iraq, Syria,
In that year, the self-appointed caliph
has expanded his turf from eastern Syria
and western Iraq to include adherents in
pockets of war-racked Libya and Egypt ’s
lawless Sinai peninsula.
He has set his sights on Saudi Arabia,
birthplace of Islam, and his Islamic State
has launched an on-line magazine for
Turks, who have volunteered for his jihad
in hundreds if not thousands.
His speeches, freighted with Koranic
verses ripped from their context and
loaded with hadith — sayings attributed
to the prophet, many regarded as spurious
— s ound more like sermons.
The recruiting drum he beats is loud
and clear: summoning his followers to
a pitiless jihad against Shi’ite heretics,
Christian crusaders, Jewish infidels, and
Kurdish atheists. He berates Arab despots
for defiling the honour of Sunni Islam.
His message is this: Where Iraq’s rulers
could not prevent the 2003 United States-
led invasion that delivered the country
into the hands of Shi’ites, and were
unwilling to mount a jihad against Alawite
minority rule in Syria, much less deliver
Jerusalem from Israel, Islamic State will
now lead the way.
In this pseudo-religious and sectarian
narrative, the IS jihadis are on a divine
mission to redeem a fallen Arab world
by fire and the sword — as shown in its
videos of beheadings and immolations.
Other factors are critical to IS success.
Beyond the alliance of Saddam loyalists
and Islamist extremists born of the Iraq
war, Baghdadi relies on local Sunnis and
their tribes, whereas his jihadi precursors
relied more on foreign fighters.
Despite thousands of foreign volunteers,
jihadist ideologues say IS forces are 90%
Iraqi and 70% Syrian in its two main
strongholds, where they have about 40,000
fighters and 60,000 supporters.
Baghdadi, who forged links with
Saddam’s Baathists while a prisoner during
the US occupation, also claims descent
from the Prophet Mohammed and his
Quraishi tribe — a heritage that allows
him to assert that “we are the soldiers of
the mission declared by the Prophet ”.
Abu Mohammad al-Maqdisi, the jihadi
theorist who was the spiritual mentor of
Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian
leader of al Qaeda in Iraq killed by an
American air strike in 2006, says that
before it took over swathes of Syria and
Iraq, IS wiped out almost all other Islamist
and Sunni rivals.
It gave them the choice of death or
repentance, and declared war on its al
Qaeda-allied rival in Syria, the Nusra
“They now consider the Nusra Front
apostates,” Maqdisi says in an on-line
publication. “Abu Bakr (al-Baghdadi) is
Iraqi, has a popular base in Iraq (and)
he has Iraqi tribes with allegiance to
him, while Abu Mussab (Zarqawi) was
Jordanian and surrounded by foreign
“They are winning militarily because they
are depending on former Baathist officers
who know their ground”, Maqdisi says.
But in the end they rely on fear.
Abu Qatada al-Filistini, another al
Qaeda-linked ideologue who with
Maqdisi has signed a fatwa declaring
it legitimate to fight IS, says “this state
is advancing because of the military,
security and intelligence background of its
leadership which seeks to impose a state
“They impose their authority, with blood,
with the sword.”
The former al Qaeda godfathers
— Maqdisi who had ties to Ayman
al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s successor,
and Abu Qatada, deported from London
to face terror charges in Jordan after a
long court battle — see differences and
similarities between IS and al Qaeda, the
movement Baghdadi has now eclipsed.
Unlike al Qaeda, which only established
a tenuous ‘emirate’ under the US
occupation before it was driven out of
Anbar province, Islamic State is putting
down roots. But Abu Qatada argues
that it may contain the seeds of its own
“They are Baathist in the dictatorial
and security sense,” he says in an online
publication. “ Their conflict with other
Islamist groups including Nusra is bigger
than their conflict with Hashd al-Shaabi,”
Iraq’s Shi’ite militia coalition.
In his speech released on May 14 after
unconfirmed reports he had been badly
wounded in a US air strike, Baghdadi says:
“ Islam was never for a day the religion of
peace; Islam is the religion of war.”
His followers’ assaults on the Shi’ites
and their allies in Iraq will “make the
Crusaders bleed and strengthen the pillars
of the Caliphate”, and defeat Syrian
Alawites and the Shi’ite Houthis in
While this may sound like empty
bombast to outsiders, for Baghdadi’s
audience the point is that the Sunni army
of IS has often succeeded in kicking
Shi’ites out of Sunni cities. Yet the
very success of IS suggests limits to its
The movement has gained footholds in
ungoverned spaces such as Libya and the
Sinai — and in territory from Nigeria to
It is also adept at exploiting sectarian
opportunities: the recent bombings
of Shi’ite mosques in Saudi Arabia
are an attempt to widen rifts between
the kingdom’s Sunni majority and a
marginalised Shi’ite minority.
But in the core of the caliphate, gains
have so far been confined to Sunni areas.
Attempts to break into Kurdish or Shi’ite
territory have been beaten back.
Yet, IS is well implanted in its Syrian
and Iraqi domains until the Sunnis can be
persuaded to uproot them. That will not
happen while they fear oppression from
Baghdad and Damascus more than the
brutality of the caliphate.
Maqdisi explains it by citing an Arabic
proverb: “ What made you accept this
bitter cup, except that more bitter one?”
IS ruthlessness is methodical. Taught by
their Baathist commanders, they are a fast
and flexible military force. But by the time
they move on a Sunni city IS will mostly
have cleansed it of opponents who refuse
to recant, and wiped out Islamist rivals.
They are also quick to seize local
resources, from energy to bakeries and
taxation, both to finance their operations
and make themselves the source of
patronage and jobs.
They have grown rich from selling oil,
trading hostages and selling smuggled
antiquities, says Hisham al-Hashemi, an
Iraqi researcher on IS. The group’s wealth
is estimated at $8-9 billion, Hashemi says.
They have some administrative stability:
behind Baghdadi lies a leadership of depth
and structure and Baghdadi could easily be
“ If Baghdadi is killed, there will be
another,” says Abu Qatada. “ Those who
come out of the darkness or shadows are
Baghdadi, who has a PhD from the
Islamic University of Baghdad on Islamic
history, has an advisory council of nine
members and about 23 emirs in charge of
Sunni areas. They run their own ministries.
Underneath all this is a detailed
governance structure that from Nineveh,
the province of which Mosul is the capital,
to the cities of Anbar is mostly run by ex-
Baathist army officers who were nearly all
US prisoners in Bucca jail, which became
a sort of IS university.
Those who have ties with Islamic State
say Baghdadi is not the most powerful
figure. Second-in-command Abu Ali
al-Anbari, a general under Saddam, wields
real power. Another key figure was Abu
Muslim al-Turkmani, a former military
intelligence colonel reportedly killed in
an air strike in 2014. Both were with
Baghdadi in Bucca.
“ Having former Baathist officers in the
leadership gave him a military and security
advantage,” says Hashemi. “ They can
encourage recruitment among their tribes
and most of them belong to big Iraqi
On the ground, a year of air strikes
by the US-led coalition has hurt IS but
has so far failed to dismantle Baghdadi’s
caliphate, which remains a major threat.
“They have lost people, they have lost
ground and part of their capacity to sell
oil. But they are still there and dangerous,”
said the Iraq-based diplomat. — Reuters
Secret of al-Baghdadi’s success
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
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