Friday, April 18, 2014

worse than the enemy

Comrade Bassam: "The problem is that some struggles have gone so far astray that the notion of revolution is now but a faint memory, something beautiful to reminisce about, but nothing likely to happen in the short run. Syria is a great example. Whatever the outcome there in the medium run, it will be only another phase of what seems to be a much more fundamental struggle. What I just said about external intervention, especially the U.S. invasion of Iraq, whose effects are now increasingly defining the struggle in Syria, will make this process much more complicated, because there’ll always be someone worse than your immediate enemy."

Abraham Foxman

Foxman just announced that it is anti-Semitic not to find him good-looking, eloquent, and funny.  More later on this developing story. 

This was part of the Oslo agreement

"Treatment in Gaza was rendered harder by the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords because radiation chemotherapy, the two sides agreed, could have military applications. Only five practicing oncologists remain in Gaza, Shannan notes with gloom."

Ambassador William Burns

Amb William Burns has retired. He should not be missed.  This is all that you need to know about him: he walked amid the rubble of the Jenin camp (wearing a mask) and denying that a massacre took place there.

The US commits to democracy in the Middle East

"The US has a long-term commitment to Bahrain and the region, a senior American naval officer said yesterday."

honest broker?

"The United States isn't, and can't be, a neutral mediator in the Middle East. It has long acted as Israel's closest ally, biggest benefactor, and ultimate guarantor of its security."

torture philanthropy

"Bill Gates' philanthropic body, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, has been accused of complicity in the torture of Palestinian prisoners through its investment in British security company G4S." (thanks Amir)

weeks after Russia became a foe of the US, it earns another honor from Western propaganda

Now it is official: the Russian economy is suddenly declared to be "in shambles".  I always write that since i came to the US in 1983, I have been reading that the Iranian and Syrian economies are in shambles.  The Libyan economy was also in shambles until the Bush administration made a honeymoon deal with Qadhdhafi.

Look how the New York Times publishes unsubstantiated claims by Western propaganda machines

"They faced not only the civilians, but behind them a force of well-armed men in unmarked green uniforms, who Western governments have said are either Russian soldiers or Russian-equipped militants."  If there is a Pulitzer for bullshit it should go to the writer and editor of this piece.

look at the language of US newspapers when the protesters dare to oppose a pro-US government?

" crowd of pro-Moscow residents, mingling with covert Russian operatives instigating violence in the east,"  How do you know that they are covert Russian operatives? Not one evidence was presented in this regard beyond the claims by US propagandists.

The propaganda account of the Economsit about Syria: they are cheering Al-Qa`idah

"Moreover, the mainstream rebel forces appear to have contained, or at least diminished, what had been a looming threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS). Last year this extreme jihadist group, which is commanded by Iraqis and largely manned by foreign fighters, had rapidly expanded its influence in rebel-held areas. Its cruelty and pan-Islamist ideology prompted a Syrian nationalist backlash. Since open intra-rebel fighting erupted in January, ISIS has been pushed back to a rump territory in and around the central city of Raqqa. ISIS’s efforts to break out, either into Kurdish-held regions of the north-east or towards the town of Abu Kamal on the border with Iraq, appear to have been repulsed. This is one reason why other rebels have been freer to reassert their pressure on government forces in Aleppo."  Mainstream? They are talking about Nusrah and its sisters.

PS What is hilarious about this article is the feverish propaganda content of all Economist's coverage about Syria. For the last three years, the Economist has been insisting that the rebels are marching toward victory. Week after week, even bizarrely this very week.

quasi-monarchical?

"Simon Henderson, director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute, said in an analysis that "Qatar is likely unwilling to eat humble pie." "Unlike (Saudi) King Abdullah and certain other Gulf leaders, Doha seems to view its own quasi-monarchical political system as above any potential Brotherhood threats," he wrote ... " (thanks Basim)

a liberal Wasnington Post columnist on Edward Snowden

So you can imagine the conservatives:  "Certainly, many of the Snowden-fueled disclosures following the original NSA revelation have been gratuitous and harmful; those, and his sheltering in Russia rather than arguing his case in a U.S. court, raise doubts about his motives. "

Life in an "elite" US collge

I spent a summer at Dartmouth in the 1990s:  "Dartmouth College’s president lamented Wednesday that the Ivy League school’s promising future “is being hijacked by extreme behavior,” including sex assaults, parties with “racist and sexist undertones,” and a campus culture in which “dangerous drinking has become the rule and not the exception.”"

Civilians in Homs

" Virtually no civilians remain, they said."  Wait. Have you not been telling us all along that it is full of civilians? 

Golfing: the Jordanian prime minister


It is widely known in the world: you can learn about golfing from watching the Jordanian prime minister play. (thanks Yusuf)

This is the quality of foreign policy analysis in the Washington Post and New York Times

"Obama, in contrast, has shown himself once more to be the opposite of a macho politician. He is reserved and analytical, occasionally caught shirtless on vacation but rarely photographed with the top buttons of his shirt undone. He’s the good boy in the class, sometimes to a fault. "  David Ignatious Al-Saud

General Brigadier Michel Kilu

There is an amusing story about how Michele Kilu, most likely at the behest of his sponsor Bandar, tried to form a sectarian Christian battalion in Syria. ha ha

Repression by the Israeli state (imagine if the repressive state here is not Israel)

" An Arab citizen of Israel who was detained by the Israeli authorities over the weekend after a visit to Lebanon was released Thursday but ordered to be kept under house arrest. He was being held on suspicion of conducting an unauthorized visit to an enemy state and contact with a foreign agent, according to his lawyers and Israeli security officials.

The man, Majd Kayyal, 23, a Palestinian rights advocate from the northern Israeli port city of Haifa, was arrested on Saturday at a border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank. Mr. Kayyal is a web editor at Adalah, a legal center promoting Arab minority rights in Israel, and a freelance contributor to several publications. He had been invited to Beirut, the Lebanese capital, to attend a conference marking the 40th anniversary of As Safir, a Lebanese newspaper where his writings have appeared regularly.

Under sweeping security restrictions, Mr. Kayyal was not allowed access to a lawyer until Wednesday night. A court-imposed gag order on the case was lifted on Thursday, though reports about the episode had already surfaced on social media and on some foreign websites."

Qatari dynasty bows down to Saudi dynasty

This is an account about the Qatari surrender to House of Saud by `Abdul-Bari `Atwan.

The Middle East is lucky: the US really hearts the region


Thursday, April 17, 2014

terrorism mindset

"The answer lies in a cultural-political mindset that has been cultivated over several decades. When a section of policy makers began to develop a vocabulary around Arab and Muslim terrorism in the 1970s, Hollywood stepped in to visualize this new enemy. Dozens of films about brown terrorists bent on attacking the U.S. and Americans, like "Black Sunday" (1977) and "True Lies" (1994), shaped our collective imaginations so effectively that when the Oklahoma bombing occurred in 1995, it was automatically assumed that Arabs were responsible.

The real trauma of 9/11 elevated this mindset, creating fear and paranoia that terrorists are everywhere. Though we are twice as likely to die from a lightening strike than a terror plot, government campaigns such as “See Something, Say Something,” and popular television shows like “24” and “Homeland,” have inculcated a pervasive threat consciousness.

This ritualistic and repetitive depiction of a vulnerable homeland is what has allowed for the emergence of a surveillance state that now sees fit to monitor all its citizens. Few politicians have challenged such invasive surveillance for fear of being cast as “soft on terrorism.”

Thus, a “terrorism mindset” espoused by politicians and bolstered by the culture industry has justified the creation of a massive national security state that systematically violates our civil liberties. "

Aqsa mosque shootings

Scores of Palestinian worshipers were shot by Israeli troops at Al-Aqsa mosque but that is not worthy of coverage.

The new Saudi interim chief of intelligence

About his family name: "he is saudi.. originally from Assir, which his family ruled from ottoman times until 1934. the family is originally form fez, morocco, but way back
saudis you are talking to don't know their history". (thanks Edouard)

Tamarod as a front of the Egyptian military

"For the first time, one of the five founders of the Tamarod, the movement that led the protests that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood last year, admits his movement was taking orders from the army. “We were naive, we were not responsible.” " (thanks Yusuf)

Russian sympathizers threaten Ukrainian military

"The Ukrainian military on Tuesday secured an airfield threatened by Russian sympathizers".  Basically, the Ukrainian military is using its military and its "anti-terrorism" forces against protesters. Imagine if this was done by an anti-US regime.  And look how the White House invokes the same language used by the previous Ukrainian government: "“The Ukrainian government has a responsibility to provide law and order, and these provocations in eastern Ukraine are creating a situation in which the government has to respond,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said."

This is how the Style section of the Washington Post talks about Golda Meir in a review of a play about her

"The narrative frame for “Golda’s Balcony” is the Yom Kippur War, when Israel came under surprise attack on the holiest day in the Jewish calendar by Egypt and others among its hostile neighbors, and Meir faced an anguishing decision. With the military outlook bleak, Israel’s allies wavering and the prospect of Jewish annihilation becoming real again...This peace-loving woman who seemed constitutionally incapable of running from a fight was now poised to ignite the most cataclysmic one in history."  Do I really have to comment about this? But I like when Zionist media refer to the 1973 war as "surprise attack".  Arabs should have notified Israel that they were about to attack.  Not doing so was clearly anti-Semitic.  Note the word "anguish" appears.  And Jewish annihilation? This is why Arabs went to war in 1973?

Contextualizing the story of US killing of Afghan civilians to death in the New York Times

Look how far the New York Times goes in order to justify the death of civilians by US strikes: "The American-led military coalition issued a statement saying that it was aware of the reports of civilian casualties, and that “we are looking into these allegations and will provide more information as available.”

The number of civilian deaths at the hands of coalition forces has been in rapid decline, in large part because conventional American troops rarely leave their bases anymore. Special Operations forces continue to conduct missions, typically alongside their Afghan counterparts, as advisers. On occasion, when overwhelmed by insurgent fire, they call in air support.

But even those airstrikes have grown rare, as coalition officials contend with an increasingly tough political landscape. Drone strikes have also contributed to civilian deaths, though the coalition says it scaled those back."

How much graffitti I wrote in my youth around Beirut

"The Athens police rarely arrest graffiti artists, unless they are suspected of belonging to anarchist groups or the extreme-right Golden Dawn party."

Saudi Arabian residents and Western music

"Saudi Arabia residents are more likely than other nations to listen to Western music."

"Syrian refugee family in Turkey 'trying to leave this miserable life'"

"A few months ago, Ameena worked long hours sorting underwear packages in a garment factory that only employs girls. For five days of work, the 12-year-old earned 230 lira a month, about $120. Disgusted, the family kept Ameena home and lost the income. Hannan has lobbied the Turkish authorities for assistance. "I went to the municipality and asked for help but I got nothing," she says. She got her residency card, hoping that would help. "Instead, they have put obstacles in front of us," she adds."

a rare view from Syria--that is too bothersome to the Western correspondents in Beirut

"People here see their country as being threatened by foreign powers (above all Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all backed by the West) who are sponsoring the jihadist groups that make up the opposition. I was struck by the fact that this argument is not made only by the Alawite coterie around the president. I also heard it from Sunni Muslims, Christians and members of the various other cultural and religious groups that abound in Syria. How can this square with the Western narrative that President Assad's government, with the aid of a handful of tribal followers, is hell-bent on the destruction of the rest of the country? Consider the facts. Only a handful of members of Assad's 30-strong cabinet (I was told two) are Alawite. The prime minister is Sunni, as are the interior minister, the justice minister, the foreign minister, even the defence minister. The delegation that travelled to Geneva for the failed peace talks several months ago was also almost entirely composed of Sunni Muslims (though they would probably reject sectarian terms, and prefer to think of themselves just as Syrians)."

Azerbaijan is a trusted partner of the U.S. and NATO

"It is also noted in the resolution that Azerbaijan is a trusted partner of the U.S. and NATO, and this is confirmed by Azerbaijan's participation in peacekeeping operations in Iraq, the Balkans and Afghanistan, and transportation of 40 percent of goods to Afghanistan through the country's territory." (thanks Amir)

Criminalizing criticism of Israel in Canada

"This essay will argue that revisions to the Canadian Criminal Code proposed by the Harper government contain wording that is designed to enable lawfare prosecutions of human rights activists in precisely the manner desired by Mr. Netanyahu and his associates."

Reuters discovers something called Ahab School of Sunni Islam: where do those Western journalists learn about the Middle East and Islam?

"But the al-Saud dynasty has always ruled in conjunction with powerful clerics of the kingdom's official Ahab school of Sunni Islam and treads carefully around questions of religious or social change for fear of provoking a conservative backlash." (thanks Basim)

Torture in Jordan

You won't read about torture in Jordan in the Western press.

An environmentalist Ayatullah

Grand Ayatullah Bashir Najafi is an environmentalist.

member of the Israeli military/intelligence apparatus is identified as "civilian" in the New York Times

Look at the headline:  "Israeli Officer Killed on Way to Seder in West Bank".
Then you read the story: "It was the first killing of an Israeli civilian..."  In fact, the Israeli press identified the man as a member of the Israeli military/intelligence apparatus.

Edward Snowden and the Nobel Prize

If there was someone who uncovered international mass surveillance, as Edward Snowden has done, by the Chinese or the Russian government, he/she would have been awarded the Nobel Prize for peace. I have no doubt.

gas attacks in Syria

How do the Western correspondents in Beirut decide when to cover claims by Syrian rebels about gas attacks against them? I mean, all Western media covered a week ago such claims by the rebels.  But there were other new claims by the rebels. Why are they not covered? Do they decide when to cover on the basis of the the resolution of youtube videos, for example?

"Lebanon: Ater the Cedar Revolution"

Regarding the new book, "Lebanon: After the Cedar Revolution" by Are Knudsen and Michael Kerr, eds, newly published by Oxford University Press.  It usually takes you a few pages to figure the political bias of a particular book on the Middle East but not with this one.  By page 8 you realize that the authors are parroting the propaganda of the Hariri movement.  Oddly, the authors consistently refer to the humiliating Israeli withdrawal from South Lebanon (minus the Shib`a farms, the Kfar Shuba hills, and the Ghajar village) as "unilateral Israeli" withdrawal.  What does that mean? This is the actual Israeli official propaganda line.  It implies that Israeli magnanimously withdrew from occupied Lebanese territory as an act of Zionist generosity.  What is unilateral about a withdrawal that was caused by a brave and persistent resistant movement?  Was the Nazi withdrawal from France "unilateral" as well? How about the American withdrawal from Vietnam?  Furthermore, the authors refer to the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006 as a "military retaliation".(p. 8)  Kid you not.  

War "boats" to the Lebanese army

Of course, we all know that the US is behind blocking any serious attempt at arming the Lebanese Army.  On behalf of Israel, the US wants to keep the Lebanese Army weak and to prevent it from possessing missiles and air defenses (and even sea defenses).  Yet, the US embassy in Lebanon makes regular announcements about the delivery of silly versions of weapons: like used vehicles, buses, bullets, etc. The other day, the US embassy announced that the US government provided the Lebanese Army with "war boats"--I am not making this up.  We don't even use that expression in English. These are small dinghy boats equipped with light sub-machine guns. 

Libyan militia regime

Are there still people who are claiming that there is peace and quiet in Libya?  Do you remember those who had supported NATO intervention who claimed that?

Afghan elections

Do you realize that while the Washington Post and New York Times have been assuring their readers that the Afghan elections was honest and fair, young people in Afghanistan have been mocking the elections and posting pictures and documents showing the extent to which the election was rigged and irregularities were widespread?  Also, do you remember that in the last presidential election both papers reported that that it was an honest election before they reversed their accounts weeks later when observers testified about the irregularities?  You will not learn about the world if you only read English and if you only read US newspaper.  You would be ill-served, trust me.

media of Saudi princes and Kim Kardashian

You have no idea how much obsession there is in the media of Saudi princes with Kim Kardashian.  Take the sleazy yellow journalism website of the news station of King Fahd's brother-in-law, Al-Arabiyya:  It carries almost daily a leading story about her.  Yesterday (and today) a major headline and a story is about Kim Kardashian (that she fell--I am not kidding or exaggerating).  It is now the second most widely read story on the site (the first one is about a woman who drags a man like a dog on the streets of London).