Category Archives: West Asia

Carter’s Middle East Study Mission: Peace Tour or Terror Tour?

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Jimmy Carter is in the Middle East allegedly on a mission of world peace. According to the Carter Center website:

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will lead a study mission to Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan April 13-21, 2008, as part of the Carter Center’s ongoing effort to support peace, democracy, and human rights in the region…“ This is a study mission, and our purpose is not to negotiate, but to support and provide momentum for current efforts to secure peace in the Middle East,” said President Carter

Study mission? The trip would more accurately be described as a terror tour. Consider who Carter is meeting with, high-level officials of Hamas. Hamas, as evidenced by their actions, has no interest in peace. Hamas, as evidenced by their charter, is dedicated to murdering Jews and the destruction of Israel.

While in Cairo, the former president met with former Hamas deputy prime minister Nasser Eddin Shaer. He also gave a speech at the American University decrying IDF actions in Gaza as a “crime” and “atrocity” and an “abomination.” Less than 24 hours later, Hamas terrorists shot and killed 3 Israeli soldiers. Carter is scheduled to meet Hamas leader Khaled Mashel in Damascus on Friday. Mashel is believed responsible for organizing the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit and has expressed that terrorism is the basis of Palestinian politics and the identity of the Palestinian people. Carter is also scheduled to meet with Syrian president Bashar al-Asad.

Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and other officials have reportedly refused to meet with Carter. Good for them. They should have refused Carter entry into the country. Hamas is at war with Israel and Carter is clearly more than sympathetic to the Hamas “narrative.” Israel should refuse entry to other self-serving activists like Carter whose ideal of peace in the region means Israeli capitulation and endless concessions to terrorists. Failing to take an enemy at their word is worse than hubris, it’s suicidal.

Here in the United States, some politicians are coming up with creative ways to punish Carter for his political activities. The appropriately named CARTER Act (Coordinated American Response to Extreme Radicals Act) seeks to remove funding for the Carter Center. The Center has received $19 million in federal funding since 2001. The Democracy Project notes, this “$19 million pales beside the tens of millions that have flowed to the Carter Center from MidEast sources.” Agreed. But why our tax dollars are supporting an organization engaging in activities in opposition to American foreign policy goals is baffling. The New York Sun reports, Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R, MI) introduced the bill and has found support to be “overwhelming in the first 24 hours since he introduced it.” However,

The chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees American policy towards the Middle East, Gary Ackerman, a Democrat of New York, yesterday said he thought the CARTER Act was “rather silly,” and “reactionary.” At the same time, Mr. Ackerman, who wrote a letter with the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Howard Berman, a Democrat of California, urging Mr. Carter not to visit Mr. Meshaal, had harsh words for Mr. Carter.

“The man is entitled his idiotic, moronic, nonsensical, anti-commonsensical, foolish opinions. And all that being said, he is still entitled to have them. I don’t think we should be cutting off funding for any ex presidents to do things. We didn’t cut off Richard Nixon,” he said. Mr. Ackerman added that if Mr. Carter came to his home for the Passover Seder, he would ask him to read the part of the simple son, the boy who does not know enough to even ask a question about the story of the Jewish exodus from ancient Egypt.

One issue for Democrats will be whether Mr. Carter will speak at the national convention in Denver scheduled for August. The editor-in-chief of the New Republic, Martin Peretz, this week urged Democrats not to let the ex-president speak. “If the Democrats want to win Florida in November they should try to keep him in Plains or send him on another voyage to Darfur where his syrupy cynicism is also well-understood,” he wrote.

Read More:

Arutz Sheva

JPost

Boker tov, Boulder! “Carter Doesn’t Quit.

But I am a Liberal! “Some ‘Wisdom’ from Jimmy Carter.”

The Contentious Centrist, “Carter and the hypocrites.”

Democracy Project, “CARTER Act in Congress to Cut Off Carter Center Funding

Robert Maginni at Human Events, “Hamas’ Useful Idiot

Eric Trajer at Contentions, “Islamic Jihad: We Refused Carter’s Request for a Meeting.” Trajer’s “Carter’s Historic Relationship with Hamas” is also worth reading.

Jacob Laksin, at FrontPage, “Carter’s Terror Tour“.

Solomonia urges readers to Support the CARTER Act.

The CARTER Act is H.R. 5816. Want to see it pass? Contact your representative and let your voice be heard and counted.

Saddam’s WMDs in Syria?

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Dismissed by the chattering classes and intelligentsia as more evidence of the idiocy of American conservatives, it now seems the conservatives may have been correct. Israeli and American officials are set to release a joint report claiming Saddam Hussein managed to scuttle Iraq’s remaining WMDs out of the country and into Syria. This was reported by AFP and other media outlets in 2004 and again in 2006. These WMDs were reportedly the target of Israel’s air strike in Syria last fall (Sep 2007). The Jpost reports:

An upcoming joint US-Israel report on the September 6 IAF strike on a Syrian facility will claim that former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein transferred weapons of mass destruction to the country, Channel 2 stated Monday.

Furthermore, according to a report leaked to the TV channel, Syria has arrested 10 intelligence officials following the assassination of Hizbullah terror chief Imad Mughniyeh.

Iraq War: Five Years Later

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I was going to write a post with the title “Iraq War: Five Years On” but the always astute Norm Geras beat me to it. Mr. Geras writes:

I do not understand how anyone who supported the war can look at that death toll (whatever its exact size), and at the injuries, and the numbers of refugees, and the extreme social dislocation, and the civil and ethnic conflict, that have followed upon the war, and say sincerely that they weren’t wrong in any way, that the hopes and/or expectations they had in supporting the war have not been dashed or had to be radically adjusted.

Jules Crittenden, in an identically titled article at The Weekly Standard concurs,

The errors committed in this war have contributed greatly to American frustrations. There was a failure to recognize the extent of the challenge ahead, even as ambitious plans were being laid starting in late 2001. The Bush administration could have had a blank check and recruits lined up around the block, but instead insisted on taking us into war with a post-Cold War military that is only belatedly being built up. The administration failed to seize control of Iraq with sufficient urgency and, when a complex insurgency was well underway, failed to move with sufficient skill to quell it until late in the day. The greater failure was to not adequately communicate the mission to Americans and to the world.

All wars go through evolutions, and it is unrealistic to expect no missteps. In this case, however, they are cited most frequently not as arguments to improve the war effort, but as excuses for abandonment. The Bush administration has made good at last with a counterinsurgency strategy that has hobbled Al Qaeda in Iraq and has the Shiite militias in a box. Iraqi military capabilities are improving, and the next president appears likely to inherit a somewhat pacified, reconciled Iraq; an enhanced American position of influence in the Middle East; opposing terrorist organizations that are sharply compromised; and a string of nascent democracies. At considerable cost of American blood and treasure, the United States is now in a position of marked if precarious influence in the most dangerous part of the world. The new president will have to consider how much of that he or she wants to throw away or build upon.

Unlike Mr. Geras, my position shifted from opposition to the war to support rather than from support to opposition. I agree that my hopes and expectations have been radically adjusted. However, I still think there were three options available at the time (regardless of arguments about WMD, etc.).

Option one was continuing the sanctions regime and no-fly zones. If we trust the figures coming from the lefties, the sanctions were killing 10,000 Iraqis a month. If we trust conservatives, the sanctions regime was not effective. We know Saddam was enriching himself through the Oil-for-Food program and all the rest.

Option two was dismantling the sanctions regime and no-fly zones. This was the policy preference of the radical left but was not supported by most centrists or conservatives.

Option three was war. War should never be the first option, but given the other two I think it was the only choice we had.

But Mr. Geras is absolutely correct about the need to question assumptions. American Enterprise Institute Vice President Danielle Pletka put it this way:

[W]hat about the mistaken assumptions that remain unexamined? Looking back, I felt secure in the knowledge that all who yearn for freedom, once free, would use it well. I was wrong. There is no freedom gene, no inner guide that understands the virtues of civil society, of secret ballots, of political parties. And it turns out that living under Saddam Hussein’s tyranny for decades conditioned Iraqis to accept unearned leadership, to embrace sect and tribe over ideas, and to tolerate unbridled corruption.

I thought similarly about Iraq. I know elections are no guarantee of freedom and liberty, that the institutions of civil society are the building blocks of any successful democracy, but I had hope that these organizations would develop over time. The emergence of a free labor movement was an especially encouraging development. But the insurgency made it extremely difficult for these fledgling movements. Nevertheless, it was an improvement over totalitarianism as evidenced by the testimonies of survivors of Saddam’s death camps.

President Bush recognized this in his recent speech:

What our troops found in Iraq following Saddam’s removal was horrifying. They uncovered children’s prisons, and torture chambers, and rape rooms where Iraqi women were violated in front of their families. They found videos showing regime thugs mutilating Iraqis deemed disloyal to Saddam. And across the Iraqi countryside they uncovered mass graves of thousands executed by the regime.

Because we acted, Saddam Hussein no longer fills fields with the remains of innocent men, women and children. Because we acted, Saddam’s torture chambers and rape rooms and children’s prisons have been closed for good. Because we acted, Saddam’s regime is no longer invading its neighbors or attacking them with chemical weapons and ballistic missiles. Because we acted, Saddam’s regime is no longer paying the families of suicide bombers in the Holy Land. Because we acted, Saddam’s regime is no longer shooting at American and British aircraft patrolling the no-fly zones and defying the will of the United Nations. Because we acted, the world is better and United States of America is safer.

When the Iraqi regime was removed, it did not lay down its arms and surrender. Instead, former regime elements took off their uniforms and faded into the countryside to fight the emergence of a free Iraq. And then they were joined by foreign terrorists who were seeking to stop the advance of liberty in the Middle East and seeking to establish safe havens from which to plot new attacks across the world.

The battle in Iraq has been longer and harder and more costly than we anticipated — but it is a fight we must win. So our troops have engaged these enemies with courage and determination. And as they’ve battled the terrorists and extremists in Iraq, they have helped the Iraqi people reclaim their nation, and helped a young democracy rise from the rubble of Saddam Hussein’s tyranny.

The U.S. Defense Department recently released a study of 600,000 documents from Saddam Hussein’s archives concluding that he supported many terrorist groups, secular and religious. However, the report did find a “smoking gun” or direct connection with al Qaeda. The (redacted) report, Saddam and Terrorism: Emerging Insights from Captured Iraqi Documents, is available here.

While many left critics of the war have correctly pointed out that Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime was secular, this did not preclude the regime from finding common cause against the United States with a variety of radical Islamist movements after the 1991 Gulf War. Anthony Lake writing in The New York Sun notes:

• The Iraqi Intelligence Service in a 1993 memo to Saddam agreed on a plan to train commandos from Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the group that assassinated Anwar Sadat and was founded by Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

• In the same year, Saddam ordered his intelligence service to “form a group to start hunting Americans present on Arab soil; especially Somalia.” At the time, Al Qaeda was working with warlords against American forces there.

• Saddam’s intelligence services maintained extensive support networks for a wide range of Palestinian Arab terrorist organizations, including but not limited to Hamas. Among the other Palestinian groups Saddam supported at the time was Force 17, the private army loyal to Yasser Arafat.

• Beginning in 1999, Iraq’s intelligence service began providing “financial and moral support” for a small radical Islamist Kurdish sect the report does not name. A Kurdish Islamist group called Ansar al Islam in 2002 would try to assassinate the regional prime minister in the eastern Kurdish region, Barham Salih.

• In 2001, Saddam’s intelligence service drafted a manual titled “Lessons in Secret Organization and Jihad Work—How to Organize and Overthrow the Saudi Royal Family.” In the same year, his intelligence service submitted names of 10 volunteer “martyrs” for operations inside the Kingdom.

• In 2000, Iraq sent a suicide bomber through Northern Iraq who intended to travel to London to assassinate Ahmad Chalabi, at the time an Iraqi opposition leader who would later go on to be an Iraqi deputy prime minister. The mission was aborted after the bomber could not obtain a visa to enter the United Kingdom.

A long time skeptic of the connection between al Qaeda and Iraq and a former CIA senior Iraq analyst, Judith Yaphe yesterday said, “I think the report indicates that Saddam was willing to work with almost any group be it nationalist or Islamic, that was willing to work for his objectives. But in the long term he did not trust many of the Islamist groups, especially those linked to Saudi Arabia or Iran.” She added, “He really did want to get anti-American operations going. The fact that they had little success shows in part their incompetence and unwilling surrogates.”

A former Bush administration official who was a member of the counter-terrorism evaluation group that analyzed terror networks and links between terrorists and states, David Wurmser, said he felt the report began to vindicate his point of view.

“This is the beginning of the process of exposing Saddam’s involvement in Islamic terror. But it is only the beginning. Time and declassification I’m sure will reveal yet more,” he said. “Even so, this report is damning to those who doubted Saddam Hussein’s involvement with Jihadist terrorist groups. It devastates one of the central myths plaguing our government prior to 9-11, that a Jihadist group would not cooperate with a secular regime and vice versa.”

I recently heard Peter Feaver discuss five elements of the U.S. policy in Iraq:

1) Security
2) Reconstruction
3) Strengthening local government
4) Transparency in tax collection and resource allocation
5) Political Reconciliation

The surge has done a remarkable job in the first category. Progress has been made in categories two and three as well. But by the time you get to categories four and five, progress is minimal.

More:

American Enterprise Institute: Iraq Five Years Later, What’s Next?

Brookings: Iraq Reports

Peter Feaver (former National Security Advisor, 2005-2007) on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal (March 20, 2008).

Victor Davis Hanson: Mirror, Mirror. On Iraq.

Christopher Hitchens: How Did I Get Iraq Wrong? I didn’t.

Oliver Kamm provides a nice roundup of Iraq commentaries here.

Reuters: Bearing Witness, Five Years of the Iraq War

Michael Weiss on Iraq (Pajamas Media).

Totalitarian Struggle or Individual Freedom

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[I enjoy “Don’t Trip Up” and am cross-posting something here for your reading enjoyment.]

Totalitarian Struggle or Individual Freedom

By Stephen Farrington

Michael Young, opinion editor of the Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon, writes in reason about the infatuation some on the left have with Hezbollah. He asks whether the supporters of Hezbollah are truly aware of what they are supporting, and whether the likes of Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein can really be described as left-wing:

But there was more here than just manipulation. The Mughniyeh affair highlights a deeper problem long obvious to those who follow Hezbollah: The party, though it is religious, autocratic, and armed to the teeth, often elicits approval from secular, liberal Westerners who otherwise share nothing of its values. This reaction, in its more extreme forms, is reflected in the way many on the far left have embraced Hezbollah’s militancy, but also that of other Islamist groups like Hamas or Islamic Jihad—thoroughly undermining their ideological principles in the process.

The primary emotion driving together the far-left and militant Islamists, but also frequently prompting secular liberals to applaud armed Islamic groups as well, is hostility toward the United States, toward Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians, and, more broadly, toward what is seen as Western-dominated, capitalist-driven globalization…

This behavior comes full circle especially for the revolutionary fringe on the left, which seems invariably to find its way back to violence. In the same way that Finkelstein can compare Hezbollah admiringly to the Soviet Red Army and the communist resistance during World War II (“it was brutal, it was ruthless”), he sees in resistance a quasi-religious act that brooks no challenge, even from its likely victims. What is so odd in Finkelstein and those like him is that the universalism and humanism at the heart of the left’s view of itself has evaporated, to be replaced by categorical imperatives usually associated with the extreme right: blood; honor; solidarity; and the defense of near-hallowed land.

Blind faith in the service of total principle is what makes those like Finkelstein and Chomsky so vile. But their posturing is made possible because of the less ardent secular liberal publicists out there who surrender to the narratives that Islamists such as Hezbollah, Hamas, or others peddle to them—lending them legitimacy. That’s because modern scholarship, like liberalism itself, refuses to impose Western cultural standards on non-Westerners. Fine. But as the Mughniyeh case shows, when Islamists dominate the debate affecting them, there are plenty of fools out there dying to be tossed a bone.

Young makes an excellent point when he points out that many do not look beyond Hezbollah’s own narrative of ‘anti-imperialist struggle’ or dissect their repulsive ideology. The case against Hezbollah can be made without imposing “Western cultural standards” because it is not a question of culture. It is a question of who rules Lebanon – a democratic government and the rule of law or a violent militia bent on destroying Israel. Support for Hezbollah is support for the undemocratic rule of those living in the south, where Lebanese state control has been pushed back…

The post continues:

As Young point out, “resistance [is seen as] a quasi-religious act that brooks no challenge, even from its likely victims.” The romantic narrative of the ‘freedom fighter’ creates blinkers that mean some on the left ignore a movement’s terrorism in favour of their ‘struggle’. Just like the Comintern believed, anyone struggling against imperialism (i.e., capitalism and globalisation) is an ally – even if their ideology is nationalist or even Islamist. They are allies in the global struggle and will help rid the world of the evils of capitalism.

[read it all here]

My small critique of the post (which I provided in the comments) is viewing the Comintern’s position as:

“Anyone struggling against imperialism (i.e., capitalism and globalisation) is an ally.”

I think it was more:

Anyone who is an ally is “fighting against imperialism.”

In other words, Comintern ideology reflected the domestic and foreign policy needs and concerns of the USSR. Any nation-state in the Soviet camp was defacto “anti-imperialist” regardless of the class structure, relations of production, modes of production, or any of the other things Marx wrote about.

The revolutionary sects in the U.S. that backed any armed struggle movement as long as the people rebelling were brown and trying to overthrow capitalism were part of the third-world centered New Left rather than the working-class focused Old Left. The differences are important. At least they were among these groups at the time.

Senior Islamic Jihad Terrorist Killed in Gaza Bomb Blast

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An explosion in the Gaza Strip’s Bureij refugee camp leveled the apartment of senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist Ayman Atallah Fayed. Fayed, a member of the al-Quds Brigades better known as Abu Abdallah, was killed with his wife, two young children, and three other terrorists.

A nearby metal workshop was damaged in the blast. These workshops are often used to produce Qassam rockets and other explosive devices. Witnesses at the scene described debris among the rubble that looked surprisingly like the locally manufactured rockets Islamic Jihad regularly fires at Israel. This led to speculation in the MSM that the home might possibly have been used to house arms. According to the Los Angeles Times, “A Hamas militant with a walkie-talkie appeared on Palestinian television in Gaza at the scene of the blast, warning people to leave. He said there might be four or five unexploded rockets in the area.”

The Associated Press reports Islamic Jihad spokesman Abu Hamza claiming the house was hit in an Israeli air strike. Israeli officials denied the allegations and stated no IDF or IAF operations were occurring in the area. Hamas security officials said the cause of the explosion was unclear at this time. While Reuters refers to reports that a bomb went off inside the house.

I suspect an accidental explosion was most likely the case for three reasons. First, the materials found at the scene were indicative of rockets commonly used by Islamic Jihad against Israel. Second, the apartment was located near the sort of facility that produces these weapons. The third element is Hamas’ actions. I can’t think of a similar case when Hamas officials did not immediately blame Israel.

Read more at BBC News, IHT, WSJ, YNet.

Hizbullah Terrorist Imad Mughniyeh Killed in Car Bombing

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Wanted Hizbullah terrorist Imad Mughniyeh was killed Tuesday (02/12/08 ) in a car bombing in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Mughniyeh operated in Syria and Lebanon, and served as a top-level Hizbullah liason with the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security and the al-Qods unit within the Iranian Pasdaran. The International Herald Tribune reports,

One of the world’s most wanted and elusive terrorists, the 45-year-old Mughniyeh was the suspected mastermind of attacks that killed hundreds of Americans, including 241 U.S. Marines, in Lebanon and the brutal kidnappings of Westerners in the 1980s.

He went underground in 1990s, reportedly undergoing plastic surgery, and was a mastermind behind with the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Argentina, a Jewish center in Buenos Aires and an attack on Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.

Mughniyeh was wanted by half a dozen state intelligence agencies, including the FBI, early speculation in much of the Arab and Muslim world is Israel was responsible for the operation. However opinions of have been mixed. Predictably, Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, appealed to the Muslim world to “rise up to confront the Zionist devil, which is backed by the Americans.” Yet Sheik Jaber Al Khaled Al Sabah of Kuwait welcomed the attack as an act of divine retribution. Mughniyeh was behind the hijacking of a Kuwait Airways flight in 1998 and the killing of two of its Kuwaiti passengers. “The killing of the criminal Imad Mughniyeh was divine vengeance for those who killed the sons of Kuwait and threw them from planes at Limasol Airport in Cyprus,” the minister said.

In light of the recent bombing of a suspected Syrian nuclear installation this recent operation would represent a significant representation of the reach of Israeli military power. Israeli government officials denied any involvement in the attack. Military officials would neither confirm nor deny the allegations. Hizbullah vows to retaliate against Israeli targets abroad while Israel is steadily boosting troop levels along the Lebanese border. Israel ordered all embassies and military personnel on alert status and suggested international Jewish organizations be on guard against any potential acts of violence.

This was a welcome blow to Hizbullah both for the amount of blood on Mughniyeh’s hands as well as the political impact on the Baathist regime in Damascus. If Israel is responsible for the attack, this is a clear signal: if Damascus continues to support Hezbollah, when the next war comes, prepare to get hit with overwhelming force.

From the Jerusalem Post:

Mugniyeh operated against the US and Israel from Lebanon, had a hand in operations directly against both and in third countries like Argentina, shuttled between Beirut, Damascus and Teheran, and was central to training Hamas on Iran’s behalf. This sort of networking puts the lie to the strangely persistent myth that Shi’ites and Sunnis don’t work together. Just as Shi’ite Iran and Hizbullah, through Mugniyeh, have no compunctions helping Sunni Hamas, there is no reason to believe that these same terror centers are disconnected from al-Qaida, just because it is a Sunni group. Furthermore, Mugniyeh died, having evidently felt particularly safe in, the Syrian capital, Damascus. This should serve as a reminder, in case any was needed, that Syria remains a terror state par excellence.

His death revives central questions in the battle against Islamist terror: What is happening with the endless UN investigation of Syrian assassinations in Lebanon, while Syria seems to keep adding to its hit list? What is happening with the Chapter 7 embargo against Hizbullah that Syria is rampantly violating. When will the UN Security Council take steps to enforce the weapons embargo imposed by Resolution 1701? Most importantly, when will UNIFIL be charged with helping the Lebanese government to prevent the weapons flow to Hizbullah across the Lebanon-Syria border?

The death of Mugniyeh should also refocus attention on the danger posed by his real masters in Teheran. Every time the world contemplates a nuclear Iran, it must also contemplate the possibility that Mugniyeh’s successors will be tasked with using that weapon in a way the bears no obvious fingerprints leading back to Iran, presents no clear address for retaliation, and therefore leaves the entire deterrence model in shambles.

Read more at The Contentious Centrist, Contentions, Counterterrorism Blog, The Daily Star (Lebanon), Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, Small Wars Journal, The New York Sun, The Terror Wonk.

Three Thousand Foreign Guest Workers on Strike in Jordan Sewing Clothing: Workers Beaten by Police, Allegations of Rape

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[Item from Labourstart. Hat tip to A.L.]

Al Hassan Industrial City
Irbid, Jordan

Three thousand foreign guest workers, 50 percent of them young women–1,500 from Sri Lanka, 900 from Bangladesh, 400 from India and 100 from Nepal–have been on strike since Monday, December 10, 2007. The situation is critical. At least 10 workers were beaten today by the police. Before going on strike, the workers had written to the Jordanian Ministry of Labor seeking help, but received no response.

  • Workers paid less than half the wages legally due them, earning a take-home wage of just $30.95 a week for a minimum of 78 hours of work, while they should have been paid at least $64.88.
  • Routine 12 1/2 to 14 1/2-hour shifts, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00, 9:00 or 10:00 p.m., seven days a week with at most two days off each month. Workers are at the factory 80 1/2 to 93 1/2 hours a week.
  • Two young women report being raped by factory management.
  • Managers routinely shout and curse at the workers and even slap and beat them for falling behind in their production goal or making minor errors.
  • Workers say they are locked in the factory and afraid that if a fire breaks out they will be trapped.
  • The bathrooms are filthy.
  • Factory dorms are very cold, lack heat and are seriously overcrowded with 12 people crammed into each room.
  • Workers describe the factory food as too little and often stale, with an “awful” taste.
  • Factory management does not pay medical expenses and does not respect the workers’ legal right to 14 days paid annual vacation.
  • Workers are paid just 15 cents for each paid of jeans they sew for Wal-Mart and Gloria Vanderbilt.

BACKGROUND

Hours:

12 1/2 to 14 1/2 hour shifts, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00, 9:00 or 10:00 p.m., seven days a week. At most the workers receive just two days off a month. Workers are at the factory 78 hours to 93 hours a week

Routine Shift

7:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. (Work, 5 hours)

12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Lunch, 1/2 hour)

1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Work, 4 hours)

5:00 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. (Break, 15 minutes)

5:15 p.m. – 8:00, 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. (Work, 2 3/4 – 4 3/4 hours)

Wages:


Workers are paid just $39.10 a week and $169.42 a month (120 JD) for working a minimum of 78 hours a week, including 30 hours of mandatory overtime. On average, the workers are earning just 50 cents an hour, which is well below the 75-cent legal minimum wage, not to mention the legal overtime premiums due the workers. What makes matters even worse is that management deducts $35.30 each month for room and board, reducing the workers’ take-home wage to just $30.95 a week, which is less than half of the $64.88 the workers are legally owed.

Legal Minimum Wage in Jordan:
* 75 cents an hour
* $35.84 a week (48 hours)
* $155.30 a month
* $1,863.62 a year

* All weekday overtime must be paid at a 25 percent premium–93 cents an hour.
* All overtime on Fridays, the legal holiday, must be paid at a 50 percent premium–$1.12 per hour.

For toiling a minimum of 78 hours a week (6 1/2 days), the workers should have earned $35.84 for the regular 48 hours, $22,32 for the 24 hours of weekday overtime at 93 cents an hour, and $6.72 for six hours of overtime on Friday at $1.12 an hour for a total of $64.88 and not the $30.95 the workers are taking home.

Production Goals:


Each assembly line, with 70 to 75 sewing operators, must complete 2,400 pairs of jeans in the standard 12-hour shift. The production goal is mandatory. This means the production line must complete 200 pairs of jeans an hour with an average of 72.5 sewers. In effect then, each worker must complete 2.76 pairs of jeans per hour or one pair every 32 minutes. At a take home wage of just 40 cents an hour, this means that the workers are earning just 15 cents for each pair of jeans they sew.
The workers smuggled “Gloria Vanderbilt” and “Behold” labels out of the factory.

They also report routinely sewing clothing for Wal-Mart–which U.S. Customs documents confirm–and for The Gap. More information will follow.

PLEASE HELP!

Please ask the Jordanian Government to intervene immediately and to bring the Classic factories into strict compliance with all Jordanian labor laws.

Ask Wal-Mart, Gloria Vanderbilt and GAP to clean up their contractor’s plant.

HRH Prince Zeid Ra’ad
Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan to the US
Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
3504 International Drive, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
Telephone number: (202) 966 – 2664
Fax number: (202) 966 – 3110
E-mail: HKJEmbassyDC@jordanembassyus.org

Lee Scott
President & CEO
Wal-Mart Stores
702 Southwest 8th Street
Bentonville, AR 72716
FAX: 501-621-2063

Gloria Vanderbilt:
Wesley R. Card, President & CEO
Jones Apparel Group Corporate Offices
1411 Broadway
New York, NY 10018
Tel: (212) 642-3860
Fax: (212) 703-9154

Glenn K. Murphy, Chairman and CEO
Gap Inc. Headquarters
Two Folsom Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
tel: (650) 952-4400
fax: (415) 427-2553

Another Labor Alert from the same factory!

 

At least two young women from Sri Lanka, recruited as foreign guest workers to work at the Classic Fashion Apparel factory in the Al Hasan Industrial Park in Jordan, report being raped by managers at the factory. The women sewed clothing for Wal-Mart, Jones Apparel/Gloria Vanderbilt and other U.S. companies.

The victims, both assaulted early in 2007, are Ms. Nisansala and Ms. Nine Maris. Both are now in Sri Lanka and willing to tell their stories.

Ms. Nine Maris was raped by Mr. Anil, a manager at the Classic factory. After becoming noticeably pregnant, she was deported back to Sri Lanka. Ms. Nisansala reports being raped by another factory manager, Mr. Sintaiker.

Receiving no help from the Jordanian authorities, Ms. Nine Maris filed a court suit against Mr. Anil in Sri Lanka. Apparently Mr. Anil has had to make several trips to Sri Lanka to deal with the suit against him.

In 2006, the National Labor Committee released a year-long undercover report documenting the descent of the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement into human trafficking and involuntary servitude. We also named several garment factories such as Al Safi and Western, where young women had reported being raped. In Al Safi, a young Bangladeshi woman–according to the workers no more than 20 years of age–reportedly committed suicide by hanging herself in a bathroom after being raped by a plant manager. The Jordanian government said it was unable to discover any sexual assault or related crimes in any of its garment factories.

Hopefully the tragic case of the Classic factory will shed more light on past abuses, so that young women foreign guest workers will never again be exposed to the horrendous crime of sexual assault.

Under the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement, these garments come into the U.S. duty-free. Conditions at the Classic factory remain abusive, with excessive mandatory overtime, and workers being cheated of their wages.

For more background on this case, go to the full report.