- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 1, 2001

Ostensible allies are pressuring the U.S. military to suspend operations during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins Nov. 16. Since the al Qaeda terrorist network has pledged to continue its war against America, acquiescing to such pressure would be a terrible idea.
In a meeting in Islamabad with Army Gen. Tommy Franks, who is the American commander overseeing the war, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf reportedly asked for a bombing halt during Ramadan. What apparently concerns Gen. Musharraf is the fact that the bombing tactics the U.S. military has employed so far have failed to achieve the goal of the campaign, which is to destroy Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and the Taliban regime that gives it safe harbor. Yet, it has been Gen. Musharraf who has been intensively lobbying against a massive bombing campaign intended to destroy entrenched Taliban forces, a development that would enable the opposition Northern Alliance to seize Kabul. Having spent the better part of the last decade helping the Pashtun-dominated Taliban achieve power and then propping it up, Pakistan is now loath to see the non-Pashtun forces of the Northern Alliance control Kabul. But Gen. Musharraf surely knows that September 11 forever changed the Pakistan-Taliban dynamic.
Meanwhile, the Saudis who have been less than helpful to America since 15 Saudi citizens were among the 19 hijackers who massacred thousands of innocent U.S. citizens in the September 11 terrorist attacks are also exerting pressure for an end to hostilities during Ramadan. Prince Turki as-Sudairi, a member of the corrupt Saudi royal family who publishes the state-controlled Al Riyadh newspaper, told the Wall Street Journal, "Ramadan is very important," adding, "Emotions will run high. There will be more support for Islamic groups."
This newfound Muslim concern for war during Ramadan reeks of hypocrisy. In the first place, Muhammed himself fought during Ramadan in a battle to conquer Mecca in 624. More recently, Saudi Arabia would have been only too happy for the United States to continue fighting the 1991 Persian Gulf War, if necessary, during Ramadan in order to expel from Kuwait the Iraqi Muslim forces threatening the Saudi kingdom. In 1973, Muslim forces from Egypt and Syria launched an attack on Israel on the very day during Ramadan that marked Muhammed's successful conquest of Mecca. It didn't matter to the Muslims that their Oct. 6, 1973, surprise attack occurred on Yom Kippur, the most sacred day of the Jewish year. Saudi Arabia itself joined the 1973 Mideast war a week later, participating in what came to be known in the Muslim world as the Ramadan War. Iran and Iraq, of course, regularly fought each other during Ramadan throughout their particularly gruesome inter-Muslim war from 1980 to 1988. Iran even launched an "Operation Ramadan" offensive in 1982.
As Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld observed on Sunday, "The Northern Alliance and the Taliban fought through Ramadan year after year." That is the standard the U.S. military must apply this year and however long the war against terrorism continues.

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